Why the blog?

I write as the Spirit moves me. I have prayed about what I'm supposed to do with my life a lot. A lot. Writing. Writing is what I believe God is leading me to do. Whether or not He wants me to write for anyone to read is His business. Much of my writing has been therapy for me so maybe I'm the only one who is supposed to read it. So, why the Blog? As a sounding board, a note pad, a place to keep my ideas and thoughts. A place to share and promote my books, and photography. Written prayers, a place to vent. Possibly, even a place for the unknown reader to learn about the love of Jesus.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Avocado Brownies, No-Bake

Avocado no-bake brownies

In my never-ending search for the perfect chocolate recipe, dairy-free of course, I decided to try something new.  There were two brownie recipes that I really liked.  One was baked, the other no-bake.  One used avocado, the other didn't.  Hmm.  How could I mash up the recipes?  I had recently purchased coconut flour because the store I frequent was out of flaked, which I use regularly so why oh why did they have to run out?  In any event, I had on hand avocados, coconut flour, an assortment of raw nuts, and my usual 5-pound bag of dairy-free dark chocolate.  With my I-Pad open to both recipes I mentally mashed up the ingredients and came up with this.  Viola.  It's so yummy.  

INGREDIENTS:
2 Haas Avocados
coconut flour
cacao powder (preferably organic and not cocoa powder)
espresso powder
raw honey (if you're a purist vegan, substitute Agave)
hot water
2 Majool dates
raw cashews
dairy-free dark chocolate chips

2 bowls, 4 x 4 pan, plastic wrap, food processor

First:  In the first bowl, mash or puree 2 avocados. Add one cup of coconut flour and 1/2 c cacao powder.  Stir well.  Heat 1/2 c water to very hot, not boiling.  Add 1 TBS of espresso powder.  Once dissolved, pour into bowl and stir well.  Add 1/4 c honey.

Second:  Grind 2 large Majool dates with 1 cup of raw cashews.  Put this into bowl #2.  Then, grind 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips.  

Third:  Add 1 TBs of the date/cashew mix & 1 TBS of the chocolate chips (ground) into the first bowl.

Fourth:  Add the remainder of the ground chocolate into bowl #2 then add 1/4 c honey.

Mixing crust and filling of brownies


5th:  Line your pan with plastic wrap.  Make sure you have enough to cover all sides.  

Pan for avocado brownies


Spoon bowl #2 onto the bottom of the pan and press firmly.  This is your crust.  Spoon bowl #1 on top of that.  Cover with plastic wrap and press until the mixture is flattened.  

Line with plastic


Place mixture into refrigerator for 2-3 hours or the freezer for 30 minutes.  Cut into bars.  Keep remainder covered and in refrigerator or freezer.  


Yummy Avocado Brownies

A close-up of delicious Avocado no-bake brownies

One more photo just to get your mouth watering.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Rainbow Baby

Facing the past.    

Today I did something that I never want to do again, willingly, something I haven't done, willingly, in a very long time (if ever).  Hope I never have to again.

I went to a cemetery.  

On Facebook today, someone wrote, "Today is Rainbow Baby Day.  A “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm in comparison." 

I'd never heard of it so I looked it up.  There is such a thing.  I didn't know. 

Of course, I quickly posted that my daughter and myself are both Rainbow Babies.   Then I thought for a minute, that's not quite true.  My son is a Rainbow Baby, too.  

Then, the memories came back.  The memories of the deaths, miscarriages.  The memories of the abortion.  The memories of the feelings that flooded me...when those events occurred.  And I wanted to do something to commemorate, remember.  I've never done it before.  Never.  I don't have a grave, or tombstone.  I'd fought so hard to forget, forgive.  You never forget.  

So, I decided to go find a cemetery, and remember.  I got a pink teddy bear and some fake flowers I had in a closet and I went to an old cemetery.  One way out in the woods.  I found some really old gravestones of children and I took some pictures of them.  On my way out, I found four headstones.  Unmarked.  Two together, and two next to them.  Four.  They were all babies.  

I swore I wasn't going to cry.  Fought the tears harder than the oppressed emotions.  It's in the past.  I've gotten over it.  But....I haven't.  So, I took a picture of those four gravestones without the teddy bear.  somehow it seemed right not to.  They had no visible names and I didn't want to add or subtract from the visual.  I wanted to remember it the way it was.  

I can't remember all the dates.  I kind of do, but I wish I had the actual dates.  Because, those were my babies.  Whether I wanted them or not at the time.  Some I did, some I didn't. They never were given names, either.  Whether I had emotions about them at the time...some I did, some I didn't.  They are still a part of me that need to be remembered and never forgotten.  It has taken me a long time to forgive myself.  I know God has and he has forgotten my sins.  

Now it seems wrong for me to forget.  Now I have pictures of headstones to prove I didn't.  


In Memory

In Memory

My heart aches

In Memory

In Memory

In Memory

Friday, June 3, 2016

Oops I did it again...

Today was long run day.  It's Florida and it's hot - 75 at 5:30 am to be exact.  I've got my camelback filled with water, fuel, and my trusty head lamp.  16 miles to do and hopefully do them as quickly as possible to beat the heat.  Ha!!  No such thing.  It's hot.  I keep telling myself, "It's okay.  Train in the heat, race in the cold."   Remind me I said that in August.  In any event, my next two marathons will be cold - Montreal and then New York in November.

Speaking of New York.  I'm running the New York Marathon under the fundraising umbrella of Team World Vision.  I have a goal of $5000.00 to raise.  This money will be going towards child protection in Africa and thus far I have raised $810.00.  

Fundraising isn't my thing.  So, why did I sign up for it?





I signed up to fundraise for these beautiful faces.  Read their stories here.   See the woman in the bottom picture?  She's gathering drinking water for her children (photo credit Scott Stauffacher).  Where did you get your water today?

So the oops.  I ran pretty slow and was drenched with sweat, including my socks.  I swung up my left foot to the countertop to check my toenails when I felt a sharp pain in my left 2nd toe as it clenched.  You remember I broke that toe over a year ago. Orthopedist told me it could take a year or more to completely heal.  Great... That hurt so bad!!  Praying it doesn't hinder my running.  If I'm in pain next run, Monday, I will remember these faces and remind myself that I have such a blessed life.  A little broken toe is nothing compared to the living conditions and the dangers these precious children, God's children, face every day.

Next time you are hot, sweaty, in a little pain (or a lot), remember these children.  Make a difference in their life by donating.  As little as $50 can provide water for one child for their lifetime.

Thank you for your support.



DO WHAT YOU CAN, NOT WHAT YOU CAN'T


None of you should be looking out for your own interests, but for the interests of others.
(
1 Corinthians 10:24)


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

One last trip to Korea

After my first trip to S. Korea I told my husband, "Never again."  It's not that I didn't like it.  I loved being there, hiking the mountains, exploring the city, traversing the subway.  The problem is - getting there!!   And back.  From Detroit its a 12.5-hour flight!  Ugh.  

I have now been three times.  This time, I'm really done.  Haven't seen everything, but enough to have a pretty extensive library full of photos.  Plus, now all four of our children have been.  I'm not going to post a long travelogue of our ten-day stay, just a link to the YouTube slide show.  Enjoy.



Saturday, April 30, 2016

Peru, Lima to Machu Picchu

MY JOURNAL, PERU - LIMA TO MACHU PICCHU.

4/6  Approximately one year ago, my husband came home from worked and asked me if I wanted to go to Peru and climb Machu Picchu.  My jaw dropped.  My reaction was one that you would get from any busy mom if you would have asked her if she would like chocolate, new shoes, a massage, and a housekeeper for the rest of her life.  All at the same moment. I picked my chin off the floor and said, "Well, of course!"

We did a lot of research on Peru, the mountain, tour companies, etc. and decided on G Adventures. I called and spoke for at least an hour with a representative, whom they call 'CEO's.   Booked the trip and began training for what we knew would be a difficult 4-day hike along the Incan Trail.

A month before the trip, we got the flu.  I got a mild version and recovered quickly.  My husband ended up in the hospital.

4/11 Today I officially cancelled Mark on the trip.  So difficult to do.  No turning back now.  Go alone or not at all.  I have started putting things in a suitcase - deciding what goes in my backpack and what gets checked.  I will only be alone on the first plane ride.  Joining the group at the hotel.  Will miss Mark for 10 days.

4/17 Arrived in Lima.  Got through customs quickly and found my driver, Walter, without too much difficulty.  City is bigger than I expected.  Very noisy and lots of traffic.  Typical for this part of the world.  Hotel La Castellana is quite charming.  On the 4th floor.  No elevator and no AC but nice and clean.  I lost my glasses on the plane.  

4/18  Got a map from the desk clerk and went exploring.  We are in the Miraflores district.  I walked to Kennedy Park, which was filled with hundreds of cats.  I learned to cross the street with locals.  Your life depends on it!  Cars don't obey traffic lights or stop signs - when there are lights and stop signs.  Traveling solo is a bit lonely, but I like the solitude, seeing a new city, experiencing a different culture, observing the people who live and work here all at my own pace.  There is a low haze over the ocean and a cool breeze.
I met a young lady from Canada. (Bumped into her several times over the course of my stay.  She's in one of the photos on video #2).  I had to change rooms from a double to a two person with a roommate since Mark didn't come.  I didn't mind even though I had already paid for the private room.  Her name is Nicole.  
Group meeting was very informative.  I did not need to bring my backpack.  The tour group will give us a duffle bag, limited to 6 kilo.  Will carry my camera bag as my day bag.

4/19  On the plane to Cusco.  Our group is comprised of Canadians, Irish, English, and Australians.  It's nice to be traveling with other world travelers and be able to talk of my journeys without sounding like I'm bragging.  Everyone is talking about the altitude, fretting, worrying.  I'm not worried.  Should I be?  Our guide, David, met us at baggage claim.  I immediately feel the difference in the air.  It feels 'clean'.  My heart started beating faster so I did deep breathing exercises to acclimate.  In through the nose, out through the mouth.  30-minute bus ride to hotel.  It's very quaint, Spanish architecture. Called Prisma Hotel del Cusco.  I'm rooming with Nicole again.  We put our luggage in our rooms then took a group walk.  Sunny for ten minutes then a sudden downpour on our way to lunch.  I need rain pants!  The one thing I didn't think of.  I had Alpaca for lunch.  Yum!  Then found rain pants. The store we were recommended to go to had one pair of rain pants in stock.  Thank you, Jesus, they were just my size!  At 4:30 we had a meeting at the G Adventures office where they gave us an itinerary for the hike with very detailed information about the trail and what to expect.  The duffel bag they gave us could only weigh 6 kilo or less including sleeping bag and air mattress.  I packed and repacked many times. 

4/20  We left the hotel at 7:30 am and went to the Sacred Valley to the Planetarra Project.  Click the link to learn more about it.  The women's weaving co-op is in the Sacred Valley and not at all "touristy".  

The land here is so beautiful it brings me to tears.  I stood and stared at the mountain, singing to myself, "Lord oh Lord How Majestic is Your Name."  Mark would have loved this.  Next was lunch at Parwa, another G Adventures project.  Delicious!!!  We then drove 1.5 hours to Ollantaytambo and our next hotel - Inka Paradise.  The weather has been perfect all day.  Slight chill with a breeze and mostly sunny.  There is a lot of red clay soil in the mountains.  We pass farm after farm after farm following the Urubamba river.  The school children all wear uniforms with wide-brim hats.  David tells us that Ollantaytambo is a living museum.  It is the center between Cusco and Machu Picchu, a 'hotel' for the upper class Incans.  We walked to an historical, archeological site.  David gives us a history lesson and even though he is thorough and very knowledgable, the photographer in me wants to leave the group to explore and take pictures.  However, it is best that I don't wear myself out.  Trail in the morning! 

INCA TRAIL DAY 1
We left the hotel around 8 am and drove 35-40 minutes to "82 km", the starting point.  We met our new guides, Joel and Elias plus 18 men who serve as our porters and cooks.  Only nine of us are hiking.  One of the women from Australia got sick and backed out.  The trail ran alongside the river and at times the railroad track.  It was rock, gravel, with sometimes slow grade and sometimes steep incline going up and down.  We stopped every 15 to 30 minutes for a break and twice for archeological sites.  We are told, whenever you hear "Porters!" to move to the mountain side of the trail to let the porters pass.  Every day they will leave after us and arrive before us.  Thus, they are running!!
Lunch - We arrived to our lunch site already set up.  One large tent with a table and chairs.  There is a bathroom "Bano" that costs one Soles, the currency of Peru. I don't like to pay to pee, etc. but we are all so well taken care of in every other aspect I can't complain.  The alternative is nature.  After a three-course meal, we are on the trail again.  Every time we start up and especially after a meal I'm out of breath and heart pounding the first five minutes or so. The coca leaves and tea really don't seem to make a difference so I stop.  Two hours later, we arrive to our overnight campsite - again already completely set up.  We get to choose our own spot on the three-tiered site.  I chose the tent closest to the bathroom.  Beautiful view of the mountain and moonrise.  The guides introduced each worker - porters and cooks who ranged from 18 to 63.  We then did the same and took a group photo.  
Dinner - First, a snack of tea, crackers and popcorn followed by a game of cards.  Another excellent three-course meal.  It has been an amazing day.  The beauty of this land gets more spectacular as the hours pass.  No rain even though at sunset we saw rain clouds and heard thunder.  G Adventures takes such good care of their staff and the people in the community.  They give back and help them to succeed in life.  I'm very impressed thus far.  I'm in bed and they are still working.  I hear sounds of people in other camps, dogs, frogs, and occasionally the bray of a donkey.

INCA TRAIL DAY 2
How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  How do you hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?  One step at a time.  How in the rain?  One SLOW step at a time.  Before bed I prayed if it were going to rain, then all night would be fine.  I forgot about needing to go to the bathroom.  I woke needing to go but didn't want to come back and get the tent went.   Held out until 4:15 am.  Took me half an hour to pack my stuff and put on my clothes and contacts.  Exited the tent at 5 am, went to the bathroom then hung out in the misting rain while the breakfast tent was readied. Contacts fell out several times. Weird. We hiked straight up for four hours then down 1.5.  The rain stopped right after I bought a new poncho at the second rest area.  I ripped my old one in several places.  (Note to self - invest in a good quality poncho!! Bring duct tape!)   The sun came out just before Dead Woman's Pass, our highest point for the day.  Downhill after that to our camp.  
Late lunch, where it started to rain again (light).  It's 3 pm.  We are here for the night.  The day was hard, not horrible, but difficult with all the rock steps and the mud.  Lunch was great as usual.  
Toilets are squatties - you know, a hole in the ground.  Not the end of the world but difficult when your thighs are burning and shaking.  Rain started again after I got back to the tent for a siesta.  

At tea time we played cards. The guides are hysterical trying to teach us new games.  Clouds rolled in.  Lots of mist.  Made for good photos.  

On the trail today, it was remarkably quiet.  Sounds of the rushing river and a few birds that flew overhead.  Parakeets traveling in pairs.  When people did talk, it was at a whisper.  Now, snug in my sleeping bag, there is a chorus of frogs mixing in with the sounds of the rushing river.  Tomorrow is the longest hike day.  Praying for favorable weather.  

INCA TRAIL DAY 3
It sprinkled a little bit overnight but we awoke to cold and clear skies at 5 am.  It was a cold night!  After a carb-loading breakfast we left at 6:30 am.   Plan is to arrive at the next campsite by 5 pm.  The trail was beautiful.  We walked a while then stopped at several archeological sites along the way.  It was a long hike, but not nonstop.  We kept to our own pace and often there was no one in front or behind me.  Lunch was at a peak and we could see our campsite from the high mountain.  Well, sort of.  We could see the archeological site step terrace and the camp was 25 or so minutes beyond.  SIDE NOTE:  Every time we entered camp for lunch or for the night all the porters clapped us in.  It was very encouraging!!  We returned the favor by clapping and saying Go G! as they passed us on the trail.   
The weather was perfect all day.  A tiny brief sprinkle after lunch when the clouds rolled in - we are at cloud level.  So cool.   The trail was the same as before with two little tunnels.  Slightly muddier than previous days.  Saw several waterfalls.  
At dinner we organized to get a Facebook page.  We have been named team "Sexy Purple Warriors"  (in Spanish).  Elias added the Sexy because we are seven girls and only two men. At dinner we gave the porters a generous tip and said our formal goodbye to them.  Tomorrow the wakeup call is 3 am.  

It was a long amazing day!!   So glad I'm keeping a journal.  I'd never remember everything that happened.  

INCA TRAIL DAY 4
It rained hard overnight.  Thought we might be washed away.  But, the tent stayed high and dry! Thanks porters!!  Rain slowed to a slight drizzle by the time Christine's alarm went off.  I was actually in a deep sleep for once.  We had to be out of the tents by 3:30 am because the porters had to have camp completely packed up early in order to catch a 5 am train.  I didn't eat breakfast until later.  3 is way too early.   We hiked about 5 minutes to the checkpoint where there were already nearly 50 people there.  The gate opens at 5 am and we have to check in as a group, via our guides, one group at a time, with a limited number allowed in.  (All the groups had to pre-pay.) There was one small shelter and one bench so we stood until 5.  My left contact kept falling out. Again.  Did it the first morning as well.  I was really irritated but finally got it back on after multiple tries.  Elias led us through the checkpoint and we walked, in line, down the much narrower trail for two hours. I burst into tears, full of emotion.  Partly because my journey was coming to fruition and partly because I missed my husband, sad that he was missing this amazing journey.  Half way we stopped to remove layers - rain gear, warm jackets, etc.  Several minutes later, I saw a guide running back to the checkpoint.  Uh oh.  Not good.  Sure enough we came upon a narrow curve with people standing around. There was a large puddle blocking the path with a 3-4 inch diameter stick denoting the edge of the trail.  Someone in a big hurry decided to ignore the 'stay to mountainside' rule and tried to pass someone on the wrong side and fell down the mountain. Slid actually, there was a lot of wet vegetation.  Not sure how far down he went but I later learned he was ok.  This person was with the rowdy group who were always running and goofing off, singing Justin Bieber songs at camp.  

At the Sun Gate, Machu Picchu was in full sight and the sun was just beginning to shine on it.  Elias gave us a guided tour of part of the site then allowed us to explore on our own.  I wandered around on my own for another hour or so.  So many steps!!  I really, really...i mean really despise selfie sticks!!!!  

After I got my thousand or so photographs (see videos below) I took a bus ride down to the small village for lunch and then a train ride back to Ollantaytambo, then back to Prism Hotel in Cusco.  After a nice hot shower we had a farewell dinner at La Feria.  

This trip was just about perfect.  The only thing missing was my husband.  It was the journey of a lifetime and I pray that We will be able to come back.  Even though the hike was difficult - I expected it to be - and the weather was not what I was used to, I was well-prepared for both.  G Adventures was amazing.  We were pampered, as much as possible, and the chefs even made a cake for the two newlywed couples at the top of a mountain!  I still look at my photographs, a week later, and cannot believe I was actually there - on Machu Picchu mountain! I'm so appreciative of my life, the things and people God has blessed me with. I hear people complain about the most ridiculous things and think, they need to go to South America, Central America, any other country than this one and see how people live.  In general, we Americans see 'those poor people' and think they are pitiful and unhappy and unfortunate.  I don't see that at all.  The people I've met are content, happy, joyful.  They work hard to make the best of their life with very little complaint.  The main thing they are concerned about is providing for their families.  Food, shelter, water, family, love, God.  What else do you need? 








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Colleen Wait Edits

Colleen Wait Edits

About Me

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This YouTube channel was created to add video to my blog.  Read it here:  www.colleenwaitwrites.blogspot.com.  I write about my life, my books, my family, my cats and kids, and of course travel.