My Journey in the Far North

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

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?

Gwyneth’s Spiced Apple Crumb Muffins – Recipe Review May 9, 2011

A few weeks ago I finally received my copy of Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, My Father’s Daughter, that I had ordered and since receiving it, I have made serveral of her recipes or used her recipes as inspiration for my lunches and dinners.

The cookbook includes recipes for all diets, and she does not prescribe to or push any one diet except for encouraging us to eat food that is fresh and healthy.  Many of the recipes are adaptable for vegetarians and vegans, and many of her baked goods are dairy and egg free.  Of course, there are recipes that include meat and are not adaptable but they sound great and I’m sure meat eaters would enjoy them. 

To accompany my viewing of the Royal Wedding recently, I made her Fudgy Chocolate Brownies (page 246).  They were delicious. And, they are ‘healthy’, primarily due to the spelt flour, no granulated sugar (only using maple syrup and brown rice syrup or agave nectar), non-dairy milk and no eggs. 

This morning I wanted to try one of her muffin recipes.  I was planning on making the blueberry muffins (also egg and dairy free) found on page 230, but then I saw the recipe for Spiced Apple Crumb Muffins (page 224) and decided to make them instead so I could use up the small granny smith apples I had.

They have since finished baking, and I ate one immediately.  So good.  I’m in the middle of eating a second one, one that’s cooled a bit and it tastes great.  One of my pet peeves are muffins that stick to the muffin liners, and this muffin did not stick at all.  So it’s a winner just for that.

The crumb topping is crunchy and did not melt into the muffin…win. 

The muffin is moist…win win.

The muffin is good for you (just be careful how many you eat at one time)…win win win.

So because I don’t want to infringe on any copywrite laws I won’t be posting the recipe but you can find it on the Good Morning America website . So if you get a chance to view the recipe and attempt to make it, you should know that if you don’t have all the ingredients you can do what I did…incorporate ingredients I had on hand. 

For example:

I used almond milk instead of soy milk.

I used white flour to replace one of the spelt flours.

I added toasted coconut to the topping.

I used canola oil instead of vegetable oil.

I used regular brown sugar to replace the unrefined dark brown sugar.

Muffins ready to be eaten

The recipe is well worth making…and the book, I think, well worth buying.  If you can’t find it as My Father’s Daughter, it’s published in the UK as Notes From My Kitchen Table.


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”?


What I brought with me to Easter Dinner… April 25, 2011

Filed under: Food,Weekly Post Challenge — tlobner @ 10:39 am
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I hope you all had a lovely Easter.  I attended a sunrise service and then rushed home to make my final contribution to the Easter dinner that was held at my aunt and uncle’s house.

On Saturday, I made a Whole-Grain Vegan Carrot Cake with Lemon Glaze from Oh She Glows.  It turned out very delicious and moist!  I made it as a cake (in an 8″ round cake pan) rather than a loaf and it turned out perfect.   Don’t let the word vegan turn you away from trying this.  It’s easy and it tastes great…you won’t know it’s vegan, seriously!!  There are a few slices left and, while I want a slice right now, I will wait for after dinner tonight. (I will, I promise…oh…temptation!)

My other contribution was a salad that I have made several times since I’ve been back to the US, and it’s currently my most requested salad!  I found this recipe on the internet while living in the UK.  I adapted the recipe and brought it as my contribution for the Christmas dinner I was invited to. 

To me, the most important ingredient is Quinoa.  Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa) and is known for its nutritional values as well as being a perfect or complete protein as it contains all 8 essential amino acids.  You can learn more here and here.  And, you can try another recipe with Quinoa I created last summer.   Quinoa is most commonly sold in stores in the ‘white’ variety, but it also comes in various colors including black and red.  I have made this salad with white and black quinoa.  I have found that the black quinoa is a hardier and nuttier in flavor and definitely suits this dish.  But don’t run out and get some unless you really want to try it…I have found black quinoa at Whole Foods and red quinoa at Whole Market/Cost Plus.

With the main ingredient being Quinoa, the salad also includes bulgur wheat in order to give it some sturdiness.  Anyways, it’s so delicious and fresh tasting thanks to the lemon juice, parsley and cilantro (aka coriander), and it would be a welcome addition to your spring and summer salads!

Quinoa and Bulgur Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pepitas

Makes 8 servings

1/2 cup Quinoa (white or a mixture of black and red along with the white), rinsed several times to remove the bitter residue, set aside

1/2 cup course-ground Bulgur

1 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

1/4-1/2 cup shredded and chopped red cabbage (optional, but adds color and crunch)

1 tsp grated lemon zest

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1-2 lemons)

1/3 cup olive oil

3/4 tsp kosher salt (if using a finer grind of salt, use less)

3/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4-1/3 cup (to taste) pepitas (to be sprinkled inside the salad and on top)

1. After rinsing the Quinoa several times, place in a small sauce pan with 1 cup water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, turn the heat down and cover slightly with a lid.  Check and stir often.

2. Place bulgur in a large mixing bowl and add 1 cup boiling water.  Cover and let stand for 30  minutes.  (Hint: Since I’m impatient, when the quinoa is cooked and the bulgur is close to absorbing the water, I add the bulgur to the quinoa and cook a little longer on the stove to remove the excess  water.  Be sure to stir so that it doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pot.)

3. When quinoa and bulgur are cooked, place in the large mixing bowl and  add all of the remaining ingredients.  Add some of the pepitas to the salad and keep remaining for the top.

4. When everything is mixed well, place into serving dish and top with remaining pepitas. Chill until read to serve.

This is a great salad because you can make changes to it…in fact I made this salad once with pecans and once with pinenuts…I made it with couscous instead of bulgur…I made it with both cranberries and raisins… so it’s very versatile!

Hope you try it and enjoy it!


Spring Rainy Day Baking – Apricot Almond Cake (egg & dairy free) April 7, 2011

Filed under: Food,Weekly Post Challenge — tlobner @ 11:30 am
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After such great weather over the past couple of weeks, today we have rain (but the higher you go up the West Coast, you’ll find hail, ice and snow like in Washington state…so, is it really spring??).

Anyways, I get an email daily from and one of their 9 showcased blogs included an apricot almond cake.  Totally got me thinking about apricots (love) and almonds (love love) and everything with almond flavoring (love love love). But, since the recipe included dairy and eggs, I searched for a non-dairy and egg version…you know, a vegan version.

I found one that looked easy enough and included ingredients I had. The only problem the recipe was in metric measurements instead of the imperial measurements we use in the US.  Since I have dealt with metric measurements while living in the UK, all I had to do was convert the recipe.  Ok, not so simple.  The converted measurements were not your even cup measurements…so I had to adjust the recipe a little to make it work approximately with the metric measurements.  I, also, made a baking temperature adjustment as well as baking time adjustment.  The cake is beautiful…golden and almond-y…and it tastes so good.  Perfect for a baking on a spring rainy day.

Apricot Almond Cake

Apricot Almond Cake (egg and dairy free)


1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup ground almonds (do this in the food processor)

2/3 cup apricots, chopped (food processor works great here too)

1/2 cup soy free Earth Balance

2 T Caro Syrup (I used light, but you can use golden OR if you have Golden Syrup, use it)

1 tsp almond extract (I used a lot because it simply poured out too fast, so add more if you like)

2/3 cup nut milk (I used almond, but soy will work too)


1 T sugar

2 T flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 35oF (18oC)

Using an 8″ round cake pan, grease lightly and line bottom with parchment.  I used a springform pan.

Mix the first 6 ingredients.

Melt (microwave is fine) the ‘butter’ and the caro syrup (or golden syrup).  Add the nut milk and the almond extract.  Mix and add to the dry ingredients.  Stir.

Spoon into the cake pan and top with 2 T flaked almonds and 1 T sugar.

Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, until golden and tested as being done using a cake tester.

Apricot Almond Cake


Fire, Fear and Faith March 30, 2011

Filed under: Locking In,Weekly Post Challenge — tlobner @ 2:35 pm
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I’ve been reading a lot of books since returning back to the states, and one of the books I’ve just re-read is one of my favorites, At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon.  I’ve read and re-read this book many times, and when I found out that my aunt was reading it for the first time, I wanted to read it again once had she finished it.  I’m so glad I read this book again because it reminded me about the freedom of faith, about the paralyzing force of fear, and the promise and encouragement of Philippians 4:13.  Just exactly what I’ve been faced with today.

Also, this afternoon I took a little time to get back to the Beth Moore study on Esther that I started back in September with the women at my church in Aberdeen.  I haven’t picked it up since the beginning of November, and to be really honest, studying scripture hasn’t really been on the top of my list lately…until today.  And, did I find a gem in something Beth wrote.

On page 74 of the workbook, Beth was summarizing the plan that was in place for the annihilation of the Jews and she stated that God’s timing was perfect in a sense that the edict to annihilate the Jews was delivered on…get this…Passover.  Basically, Beth said that God had a plan of deliverance at the original Passover, and He had a plan for deliverance of the Jews in Esther’s time, and He did.  Beth stated that He who delivered them could deliver us.  She said “He who delivered you from drugs can deliver you from distraction.  He who delivered you from bankruptcy can deliver you from bingeing.  He who delivered you from infertility can deliver you from inconsistency.  He who delivered you from the fire can deliver you from fear….Remember what God has done for you…Remember who you are!”

Well, needless to say that quote really spoke to me, especially “He who delivered you from the fire can deliver you from fear.”

And, He has delivered me from the fire, many times, and perhaps, He has recently delivered me in advance of a firestorm, and maybe He is delivering me again…and He can deliver me from fear.

My fear lately is that I haven’t been able to find a job in Fresno or where I have been looking…in tons of places on both coasts, but perhaps I’ve been looking in the place He has chosen for me.  A possibility has opened up, and an opportunity placed in front of me, only it’s not what I thought for myself, but perhaps it is exactly where God wants me.  Now, I need to examine it and trust…move from the fire and fear and into faith.