Book Review: Talking Stick Diaries: Embody Your Power Vol 1

It has been a bit since I have posted. I am currently going to school full time and working full time, so I have less availability to dedicate to posts. However, I am about halfway through, so hopefully I can post more frequently.

One thing I have been doing in my snatches of free time is reading. As you well know, I love me a good book. I have recently read a book that could be categorized as “self-help.” Now, if you know me, you know I do not read this kind of book often. I will sometimes read how-tos for things I want to do, but rarely do I pick up a self-help type of book.

Here is part of the cover – look for the beautiful yellow mandala. ๐Ÿ™‚

The book: Talking Stick Diaries: Embody Your Power (Volume 1)

The Author: Rebekah Gamble, Holistic Practitioner

Overall, my reaction is that it is a very interesting book that really speaks to me on a deeper level. I was a bit skeptical when it was recommended at first, since I feel many in that genre go through the “this is what it is,” “this is why your life sucks,” and “this is what you do” routine. I don’t do well with that kind of literature.

This was different. This is a series of prompts leading one through and encouraging self-exploration. It deals with physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I found myself reading and considering all of the prompts without feeling a specific dogma is being forcibly shoved down my throat. Sure, energy is discussed, but so is a range of emotions and experiences.ย  Religion, archetypes, and historical figures were included. I enjoy the holism of the book. Some of the prompts were harder for me than others, but I think it was a very well-rounded little book.

This is one of many favourite quotes:

From within yourself, there are no walls. There is no physical illness or physical limitation. There are no external forces controlling or manipulating you.

There is only endless possibility.ย  (p.121-122, electronic version)

In the end, I really did feel empowered and open to possibilities. It has helped point out tools I already had in my little self-toolbox and guided me in expanding my use for them. I am thinking of going back and actually journaling off of the prompts instead of just reading and pondering them. Yes, dear readers, I am thinking of going back and not only re-reading it, but doing the journaling. It is that great of a book.

I think the coolest part is that it is not only encouraging a conversation within the self, but the book feels like a conversation with the author. The author comes across as a non-judgmental friend. The language is very personable, and far from high-handed or preachy. The author speaks to the reader instead of at the reader. The author seems like a person who actually cares about the hurts and scars from the past, who wants to help the readers see themselves in all their own personal glory — even if she never actually reads the journals or hears the reader’s side of the conversations. The book highlights successes and positivity. Even when discussing difficult or negative topics, kindย  and positive words are used. I always felt encouraged. And, despite 55 prompts (which kinda sounds like a lot), I never once felt like it was too difficult, long, boring, etc. I enjoyed all 55 of them.

I actually look forward to exploring the rest of the books, as they come out.ย  I will also be purchasing copies for others and hope to help build them up as well.

Rating: Highly Recommended

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Leaving on a Jet Plane!

No, really. I am getting ready to fly out of my home country to another, which has a completely different language and culture. I have my passport together, and some of the accomodations and transport tickets, and am getting ready to depart.

Stay posted for new adventures.

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Experimental Cooking: Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Cookies

I can’t follow directions very well, we know this. Halfway through making regular chocolate-chip cookies I was inspired to add more chocolatey-goodness. So I modified it. Results below:

Chocolate-chocolate chip cookies
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen


  • 2 1/4c flour
  • 3/4c brown sugar (packed)
  • 3/4c white sugar
  • 1c butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1t vanilla
  • 1t baking soda
  • 1/2t salt (to taste)
  • 1T corn starch
  • 3T cocoa powder
  • 1 bag chocolate chips (about 2c)


  • Large bowl
  • cookie sheet
  • cooking spray
  • electric mixer with beaters (if you have them, makes it go faster)
  • plastic wrap


  1. In a large bowl: Mix butter, sugars, eggs, vanilla and cream until light-colored and fluffy
  2. Add the baking soda, corn starch, salt, and cocoa powder, beat/mix until well incorporated.
  3. Add flour (slowly!) and beat/mix
  4. Add chips and beat/mix
  5. Shape into balls and put in the fridge (covered with plastic wrap to keep moist) until completely chilled (this helps them not be all flat and crunchy. Skip or shorten time if you like them that way)
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  7. Put cookie balls on greased/cooking-sprayed cookie sheet
  8. Bake for 10-12 min (depends on size)
  9. Let cool on the pan for a brief moment to prevent breaking, then place on wire rack to cool. (skip if you just have to have them right out of the oven)
  10. Enjoy!

So, really, all I changed was adding 3T cocoa powder to the mix, but that is okay. It made for really rich cookies! I didn’t actually measure the vanilla (unless you know what a splash and a half is and can correct my “measurement”).ย ย  I hope you enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Update — How Thanksgiving went and upcoming events

Oh my! I realized I forgot to update you guys about how my Thanksgiving meal went! Silly me!

It was a good meal, overall. It was my first time cooking a turkey… which was definitely an adventure! I decided to butter it with an herb-butter containing the herbs sage, thyme, rosemary, and chives. For a bit more flavor, I added garlic. The end result looked like this.

Garlic-Herb Butter

It was really good! My husband and I enjoyed it many days after the feast. The last of it disappeared when hubby accidentally melted it all, which was an ooey-gooey mess of deliciousness that we were dipping our rolls in like crazy. I mean it. Delicious. I will be making it again. And again. Mmmm…

Anyway, I was making the turkey by my mother’s fool-proof recipe:

1.ย  Gather your ingredients and turn on the oven to 350 degrees. Move the rack to the bottom (I didn’t know the second half to this step until it was too late. Oops.)

2. Thaw turkey and remove the neck/gizzards they put inside, then rinse insides and outsides well.

3. Butter the turkey all over (this is where we used some of the Garlic-Herb butter), and get some under the skin.

4. Put the turkey in a brown paper bag, which should be in a roasting pan. Yes, a brown paper bag. This is the same idea behind the plastic baking-bags you can buy at the store, but the original version.

5. Butter the bag all over, and very generously. I would recommend not using the herb-butter, as your herbs will burn.

6. Bake for three hours.

When it comes out, it will look like this.

The turkey in the brown paper bag, post-baking.

The bird, after opening the bag.

Because I didn’t move the rack, the breast was kinda dry.ย  Oops. the meat was falling off the bone, it was so tender. As you can see, the breast meat in the photograph above, to the right, is literally falling off the bone. I ended up fishing the dark meat out of the broth.

I also actually made gravy for the first time on my own. I used gluten-free baking flour and potato flakes as a thickener. (It was a gluten-free, chicken-egg-free meal day… at least, for my cooking). I was very proud of myself I actually made good-tasting gravy, and with the right consistency, too!

I also made cornbread dressing (stuffing? I don’t know the difference!), which was also gluten-free and chicken-egg-free. It did not go in the bird, so I guess it was dressing. Anyway, I started by making the cornbread myself. That way, I would know for sure that there was no contamination! I think that one will be in a separate post.

I now most definitely respect and am in awe of men and women who cook the entire feast on their own every year! I only did the turkey, gravy, deviled eggs, mashed butternut squash with butter/cinnamon/brown sugar in it, and stuffing. I can’t imagine doing the veggie tray, rolls, and various potato goods on top of it all. I am grateful my family pitched in to bring those items. And cheese puffs. That was my three-year-old nephew’s contribution. Haa.

Now I am prepping my house for Christmas. I don’t think I will be having a Christmas at my house, unless my friends and I decide to plan a holiday gathering around New Year’s. However, this is my first time having a house with a fireplace, so I am having fun looking for mantle-resting stocking holders. Christmas shopping isn’t done yet, but I will hopefully be finishing up before next weekend. We shall see if all the presents come in on time. Online shopping can be awfully convenient in the sense that you don’t have to go walk around looking for the perfect gift. However, I think that shipping times are the main concern, here. Some of the artists I ordered from might be scrambling with so many orders!

Next post: Gluten-free, Chicken-egg-free Cornbread Dressing! ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted in Baked Goods, Family, food, Foods From Childhood, Friends, Life in General, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Experimental Cooking and other things…

So tonight is more experimental cooking. I am mixing beef, yellow curry mix (with Jamaican flair), onions, orange bell pepper, frozen mixed veggies, cream, and flour (thickener) and making some kind of curry-ish-gravy to put over rice. I am not sure yet how it will turn out, but I have faith it will at least taste somewhat good. 90% of my experiments do.

Looking ahead, I will be hosting a Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday at my house. First, I will be going to a shindig for his side of the family. With my mother, father, and youngest siblings away for Thanksgiving, I will be hosting the meal for those of my siblings who couldn’t go, my husband’s immediate family, and my small family (hubby, me, and our two cats). I don’t want to make your traditional turkey dinner, but I think I will still do turkey. I want to do an herbed turkey with rosemary, sage, chives, and thyme. And butter, of course. I will be brown-paper-bagging it like my mother always does. I am going to do a gluten & chicken-egg free cornbread stuffing. My mother-in-law is going to do the potatoes, and siblings are bringing rolls and regular stuffing. I am going to make deviled eggs. It will be interesting t see what the meal turns out to be. This year, it will just be slightly different. Next year I want to make a quite non-traditional meal. ๐Ÿ˜‰


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The BEST bowl of malt-o-meal EVER


So I know this isn’t the best topic to start with, but I can’t get it off my mind. Tonight I am home sick, and didn’t feel like making a proper meal. The only thing that caught my eye was the box of malt-o-meal in the pantry. Oooh, that sounded good. I loved malt-o-meal as a kid.

So I started to measure, per box directions, the proper proportions of liquid and dry ingredients. I decided to go with some milk and some water, instead of all water, to make it creamier. The box makes that suggestion and it sounded great. As I started to heat the liquid ingredients, my eyes fell on the brown sugar. Just a smidge, I tossed some in. I followed it up with some cinnamon. I love me some cinnamon. As the mixture heated, I looked in the pantry again. My eyes lit on a large jar of organic, local, raw honey. I tried to open it, but it was sealed too tight for me. I spotted the smaller jar of honey, which has a taste kind of like a honey-vanilla marshmallow. That one I could open! Huzzah! I swirled a spoonful of that in.

Wait… there are some important differences between organic, local, raw honey and the kind you find in little honey-bears in the store.

  1. store-brand honey has been pasteurized and “purified,” and this takes any impurities out of the honey, and there are sometimes preservatives, flavor-enhancers, etc.
  2. organic honey has no additives
  3. Raw honey has all of the pollen (considered “impurities”), which helps people with allergies adapt to the pollen around them
  4. local honey will have local pollen, same idea as number 3
  5. Local honey hasn’t been shipped across long distances, and reduces ecological footprint

Also, did you know that honey will take on different flavors depending on the type of nectar the bees feed on. For some reason, the one in the smaller jar has a distinct vanilla-bean/marshmallow flavor. The larger jar, from a wildflower environment, has a mild floral flavor (imagine that). I got them at the local farmer’s market, from a vendor whom I will be visiting again and again.

Anyway, I let that liquid mixture warm and bubble. It was boiling when I stirred in the dry malt-o-meal, swirling it while it cooked to reduce clumps. After it was cooked and thickened I had to take a taste. It was delicious, but needed some cold milk. It cooled it down and brought the flavor to a new level. It was amazing. I will have to do it again.

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Busy busy

It’s that time again. Another post!

I have been picking up extra hours at work, still, apartment hunted, apartment found, moved, and had a computer kaput… now that I have one I can frequently borrow, I have one I can use to post.

Just a short update. ๐Ÿ™‚ More soon!

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