My Journey in the Far North

thoughts, inspiration, devotions and recipes from my journey in the far north

New Adventures, New Chapter, New Blog July 21, 2011

Filed under: Scenic Routes,Weekly Post Challenge — tlobner @ 9:12 pm

The last time I blogged, I mentioned the possibility of renaming my blog and I’ve decided to move over to my other blog called Blue Crocus

Since I’m no longer living in the far north or remotely near the north and soon moving south by the coast, I really wanted to end one chapter and begin fresh with a new chapter and new adventure.

On Blue Crocus, you’ll find similar things, recipes (to come), thoughts, my new adventures and photos.  In addition, you’ll find some of my knitting projects.

This will be my last blog on My Journey in the Far North…what a great journey it was.  Info will still be up as long as I keep it…so it won’t go away just yet.

I hope you will follow me over on Blue Crocus!


A New Chapter is on the Horizon July 15, 2011

Filed under: Locking In,Scenic Routes,Weekly Post Challenge — tlobner @ 7:46 am

This week I received great news. 

I will be moving down to SB in the next couple of weeks to start at WC (place will be not be named).  So exciting.  Even my new co-workers are excited that I’m joining them. 

And, now I’m a little nervous…all kinds of thoughts are running around in my head.  Thoughts span from excitement…

…on Saturdays, I’m going to do this…farmer’s market…beach…ride my bike…use my camera…find some vegan friendly eating spots…

…to realistic and grown up concerns like…

…ok, what will I do if I can’t find a place to live…groceries, where/how will get them by bike? bus?carpool?…making new friends…finding a church. 

All those things shaping into my new chapter!

I was wrong in blog posts past about being in pause and about how difficult it has been (no doubt it has been emotionally).  The was I see it is that my life has been on pause, but living has not, and I’ve made a number of friends here as well as spending lots of time with my mom, grandma and my aunt and uncle…time well spent.

I’ve been thinking about changing the title of my blog since I am no longer living in the far north or even in the north…I need to figure out how this can be done without losing any content and need to come up with a great title. So thinking caps on…go!

Now that the pause button is slowly being lifted, I am thankful for the time to pause but even more thankful for the ability to see the new chapter on the horizon.


Happy 4th of July! July 4, 2011

Cashew Cream Tart with a ‘Raw Crust’ and seasonal berries

We are heading for a HOT day today in Fresno!  And, at the moment I’m hiding indoors until I go to work at my part time job…time and half…yes, please!

This morning I made some things to contribute to the 4th of July/My mom’s Birthday party Party at my aunt’s house this afternoon. 

First, I made a ‘raw’ tart using 2 cups of raw almonds and 20 dates (finely chopped) for the crust and a cashew cream using soaked raw cashews, dates, some water and vanilla, pureed until smooth.  I topped the tart with blueberries and slices of strawberries…red, white and blue!

The cream filling recipe is from here.

And, I also made a couscous and quinoa tabbouleh salad, very similar to the salads I’ve made in the past.  I’ve used this recipe as the base for several of the salads I’ve made before.  What I like to do is add quinoa and mix it up using either bulgur wheat or couscous.  No matter what you use or not use, it’s a great recipe to adapt and can be used as a base to create your own original salad.

My adaptions to the original recipe for today’s salad include:

Doubling the batch

Using 1 cup couscous instead of bulgur (place in a bowl and top with 1 3/4 cups boiling water, cover and let water absorb couscous)

Using 1 cup of quinoa (rinse well, boil with 2 cups of water until all water is absorbed)

Using parsley AND cilantro

Couscous and Quinoa Salad with Cranberries

What are you preparing for 4th of July?  Or, what do you like to bring to parties?


Two Days on the Coast May 30, 2011

Thursday and Friday of this week, I took a little break and went to Santa Cruz with my mom.  She cares for a man with dementia during the week and, for the last part of the week, his wife was participating in a conference in Santa Cruz and brought her husband with her.  My mom was needed to provide care for the man.  So, I was invited to come along.  Who would want to say no to the coast?

On Thursday we arrived in Santa Cruz and picked up the man and took him to breakfast at Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola.  If you’ve never been to Gayle’s, you must.  The pain d’amande (almond croissant) was so good, so flaky and so almondy (with raisins).  Yum!

After Gayle’s, we went down to the beach front and walked around and I took pictures.  We had lunch at Zelda’s. It was right on the beach.  The sun was shining and warm and it was perfect.  Zelda’s had a guy there playing music…not just playing music he created the music on his keyboard and saved it and then accompanied the programmed with his guitar.  He sounded a little like Jack Johnson.  Perfect music for the beach! My mom and I shared an avocado and tomato sandwich with a coleslaw with a ginger, lime and cilantro dressing (non dairy).  The slaw was so good.  So good in fact that I wanted to mimic the dressing at home…

My Great Fakes: Coleslaw with Ginger, Lime and Cilantro Dressing

Place shredded cabbage mix in a bowl.  Finely chop a handful of cilantro and add to cabbage.  In a separate small bowl, mix the following…no exact measurements so it’s to taste… rice vinegar, sesame oil, agave syrup, grated ginger, juice of 1-1 1/2 limes, coarse salt if desired.  Mix the dressing to combine, taste, adjust measurements and add to coleslaw, toss to combine.  Enjoy.

Views of Capitola

Views of Capitola

In the evening we went to a restaurant as guests of the lady and her husband.  We went to a restaurant at the Wharf in Santa Cruz.  The food was nice, and all seafood which made it hard to eat vegan. 
The next day, we focused on Santa Cruz.  We took the man my mom cares for to breakfast.  He likes a full breakfast so we knew we had to find a place that served traditional breakfast food (that meant no smoothies).  We decided to go to Linda’s Seabreaze Cafe on Seabright Ave as they served traditional breakfasts and is a favorite of locals.  As we drove up to the restaurant we noticed there was a wait…always a good sign.  There was a slight wait, probably about 20 minutes.  They had self-serve coffee available for those waiting, too.  Nice touch.  My mom had their Seabreaze Spuds with homemade salsa.  She said it was so good.  I had one of their specials…Oat/Corn Waffle topped high with strawberry slices, banana slices, and kiwi slices and served with yogurt or sour cream (which I opted out of)…and of course as much maple syrup you wanted.  The waffle was really nice with a hearty, crispy texture.  I probably had all of my 5 a day right there in the fruit topping.
After breakfast, we went down to the beach and walked along the cliff tops.  We headed toward the marina and then to the lighthouse.  After I took a few pictures, we walked back to the car and drove over to lighthouse field on the other side of the Wharf to see the other small lighthouse that is now the Surfing Museum for Santa Cruz. Unbeknownst to us, there was a party at the museum celebrating 25 years, which we crashed.  They also had a display of lovingly restored Woodies for all to admire, with music from the Beach Boys and others playing the background.  It was so sunny and warm at the museum making it difficult to leave the lighthouse field area.  I would have loved to stay longer watching the surfers surf and just enjoying the warmth from the sun.  Such a great way to end our short time in Santa Cruz.
Views of Santa Cruz

Views of Santa Cruz


Mary Mary Quite Contrary… May 17, 2011

Filed under: Scenic Routes,Weekly Post Challenge — tlobner @ 3:37 pm
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How does your garden grow?

With three kinds of lavender, pansies and geraniums and pretty sweet peas all in a row….and a tomato plant.

Yep, that’s my garden. Or rather it’s my mom’s but I’ve taken on the nurturing as it gives me something to do.  Since being home, I’ve helped add the lavender and the tomato plant into the mix.

Here they are:

The lavenders…English, French and Spanish. I may have to rethink the placement of the English and the Spanish lavender.  They are in a large pot together and I’m thinking this was a bad choice based on historical issues…bad blood, Henry VIII, Spanish Armada and all.  Both are doing well, the Spanish lavender more than the English, but I think they need to be on their own.  I’m sure by the look of it with numerous blooms, the French lavender is relishing being independent.

The French Lavender, flourishing


The English Lavender and the Spanish Lavender, best on their own?

 The sweet peas, despite looking a bit like a jumbled hedge, are continuously blooming.  I’m cutting stems daily!


The wild Sweet Pea 'hedge'

The pansies are struggling a little…but I think this is because they are past their prime. But I’m trying not to give up on them.

The Pansies

The geraniums are newbies.  They are replanted stems from my grandmas’ geranium.  They are looking ok.  Just hope they look a little better soon.

The Geraniums

And, last but not least, my crowning glory…(drum roll please)…my tomato plant.  I’ve had it for a few weeks now and it was about 4 inches high when I got it and now it’s huge.  Last week, it was so thirsty.  I knew that it need to be replanted.  Sunday morning I woke up to it being bent in half, luckily the stems weren’t broken.  I think they were bent due to the manic rain storm we had and the weight of the branches.  So, in another rain storm Sunday afternoon, I replanted the tomato plant and added stakes to help with the weight of the branches.  I think it looks happier.  I counted 11 possible tomato opportunties…with 2 blooms and 2 more about to bloom…just love vine ripened tomatoes!

The Tomato Plant
Have you started a garden?  What’s in your garden?

Spring and Being “Green” May 3, 2011

With Spring here, I’ve been fixated on the flowers and my one tomato plant that are blooming and growing in the patio garden.  With the weather getting warmer, they all need to be watched closely and watered frequently as needed.

I am in love with Sweet Peas at the moment.  I’ve snapped a few photos of them…take a look.

I just love how simple and beautiful they look as well as their sweet fragrance!

I’ve also been really considering my use of plastic bags when I shop.  While living in the UK, I always carried rolled up shopping bags in my bag so I would have them with me no matter where I went.  Also, because I would shop for groceries or other items during my lunch break or after work, I wanted to make sure I had them with me at all times. 

Now that I’m back in the US, I still carry my bags everywhere, but I’ve noticed that I’ve been using a lot of clear bags.  Obviously since I don’t eat meat or dairy, I buy a lot of produce and use the plastic bags for them, but lately I feel like I’ve been overdoing it with the plastic bags because of the great deals I’ve been finding in the bulk bin areas of the stores I frequent…for items like nuts, seeds, dried fruit, spelt flour, etc. 

Just throwing the bags away make me sick to think about how much I’m wasting.  So, when Earth Day rolled around, I noticed that another blogger had posted information about reusable bulk bags.  The blogger shared a couple of sites where you could buy them, but since I have not only a sewing machine at my disposal but a Hobbylock serger as well, how could I not make my own.

Last week, armed with a 50% off coupon from Joann’s, I purchased my 3 yards of 100% cotton muslin ($1.99/yrd).  I simply cut the sizes I wanted for my bags as well as cut the strips for the drawstrings and quickly sewed them up.  (I washed, dried and ironed the fabic before I got to cutting.)  I made 3 different sizes–small, medium and large.  I think they turned out great, and will use them soon.

Here they are:

The bags are so easy to make and hopefully they’ll help me avoid over using plastic bags.

Also, some stores give you cash credit if you use your own bags…Winco, Target, Whole Foods are a few that give you a few cents off your purchase for every reusable bag used.  Not sure if they’ll give credit for using your own bulk bin bags, but at least having a few reusable shopping bags on hand saves you 5 cents on up per bag.  And, I’m sure you know that when you bring your own travel mug or cold drink cup, Starbucks take a few cents off as well, and I’m all for saving a few cents here and there.

I know I’m not the only one take a few steps here and there to be “Green”…Are you doing anything new to be “Green”?


Sun, Sand and Sea Glass in Cayucos, CA March 6, 2011

Filed under: Scenic Routes — tlobner @ 7:01 pm
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On Saturday, 5th March 2011, my mom and I headed out of Fresno bound for Cayucos, a beach town on the central coast between Morro Bay (to the South) and Cambria (to the North).  Cayucos is very much a real beach town with its relaxed and friendly atmosphere.  And get this, no stop lights exist in Cayucos.  The main road starts from the freeway exit and ends at the end of town at the freeway entrance.  Such a great place!

Cayucos was hosting the inaugural Sea Glass Festival.  Sea Glass is glass that has been weathered by sand and water over time, and can be hard to find.  Plus, it was forecasted to be in the 70s, so it was a great opportunity to get out of town and head to the ocean.

We arrived in Cayucos to find a long line extending from the door of the Vet’s Hall…it was quite a long line.  My mom went ahead and got in line, and I took some pictures.  Our total wait was probably about 45 minutes, but because of the wait we scored a couple of bumper stickers that would normally be sold for $1.  Cool.

After walking through the Sea Glass hall, we took off for Morro Bay for lunch.   I immediately tore off my shoes and put on the flip-flops I brought with me…I couldn’t handle wearing shoes anymore. 

After lunch we went back to Cayucos to walk along the beach to look for some sea glass and shells (my mom) and take some pictures (me).  The outcome:  my mom did find 1 piece of sea glass…and I took a ton of pictures, some represented in the slideshow below.


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