Avocados, Almonds & Apples…Yum

A in A to Z blogging challenge
A in A to Z blogging challenge

Welcome to April 1st and the first day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I’m going to spend the month sharing what I have learned about eating for a healthier body which enables the mind to work at a higher efficiency and gives your spirit peace. LOL That’s what they tell me anyway. The bottom line? If I want to stay active in  my own life I have to get in better shape. The numbers don’t lie.

Now that I’m hyper focused on what makes my body work better, I’m going to share some thing I have found in my journey of self-discovery. This is not medical advice and everyone has different needs depending on where you are at in life. It’s just my observations and experiences. (My lawyers made me say that).

My goal is to lose weight in order to get my numbers back on track. For me the discovery of smoothies was LIFE CHANGING. I’m a picky eater and it seemed all the “healthy foods” were ones I didn’t enjoy. But when you throw those babies in a Ninja and swirl them all together – lets just say I’m getting my full servings of vegetables and fruit everyday. Which means I’m not hungry. I feel great, I really do.  No magic pill or drink, just good old mother nature, unprocessed, raw and beaten into submission.

So for the first day of April we will start with three of the superstars: Almonds, Apples & Avacad0s.

Avocados & Almonds
A in A to Z blogging challenge

Rumors about almonds are true, they are hiding a great deal of fat in that little teardrop nut. But it’s monounsaturated fat. Moderation is the word with this treat. Research has shown they can help maintain good cholesterol levels and slow your cognitive decline as you age. (Brain food). They keep your gut happy and build a strong immune system. They are full of protein and fiber, which will help you feel full longer.

Avocados also struggle against the fat rumors, but boy do these guys deliver. They contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals and because of its make-up they are easily absorbed by the body instead of flushed straight out. A serving is a half to one third and you don’t need or want more than that in a day. They are great for a bright green smoothie and add a nice creamy texture. I hear they are also good for the heart and may reduce heart disease risk.

Apples are full of fiber and helps lover cholesterol levels
A in A to Z blogging challenge

The good old classic Apple. These girls are high in fiber which lead to a healthy gut and are great for regulating digestion. They also help lower cholesterol levels. They just help you feel fuller therefore reducing the over all calories you eat. The sweetness is a good mix to cut the bitterness if kale and some other greens.

Do you have a favorite healthy A food that I ignored?

  • On the top of the page is the smoothie I made with 1/2 avocados,
  •  Handful of almonds
  • 1 sliced red apple
  • 1  cup of frozen berries
  • 1 cup of kale (without the stems)
  • Pour a cup of unsweetened almond milk (use this if your cutting back on sugar)

I threw it all into my Ninja, blended for 35 seconds and WHAM! I have a smoothie that does all sorts of good things for  my body. Enjoy!

If you have a good smoothie combo share! See you tomorrow with the B foods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have Joined the A to Z Blog Challange

Starting in April, I will share my new obsession with you. I will explore the wonderful world of food, God given food that grows from the earth and nourishes our bodies. All the colors and textures create their own unique art work.

We’ll talk about everything from avocados to ugli fruit. Any excuse to take pictures. LOL

Why has this become an obsession? In the middle of February I made a commitment to myself that I would live a healthier life. Sitting in front of the computer and sitting in the car has taken a toll on my body and as I approach 50 I realized I had to make some changes. Some things happen to us beyond our control, but I can control what I put in my body and how I use the body God gave me.

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Noah inspired me with his no excuses motto – really how can I argue with him?

Last season of Dancing with the Stars, I fell in love with Noah Galloway. (the inspirational kind of love) I wanted that kind of determination in my life.

I knew I had it. It took will power to finish my master’s degree at forty.  To find ways to inspire students, To write a 60k word novel. To work until I got my story published. To keep writing in order to get more writing contracts. It wasn’t easy with a language disability (dysgraphia). With hard work and focus I accomplished my dreams and reached my goals.

 

Unfortunately at the expense of my health. I now need that drive and focus in order to reach my health goals. In doing so I have discovered the world of smoothies and the wonderful fruits and veggies that can go in them. Arranging the colors and selecting the flavors to combine have fired the creative side of my brain.

Do you have a favorite food that nourishes you, heart, mind and body?

As the sun sets on March I hope you walk along with me through my April journey.

Sunrise at the end of my road. Yes I live in the country. And love it.
Sunrise at the end of my road.

 

Planting Words of a Lost Friend.

Over time, a memory can take on a new meaning. Sometimes you don’t get to cherish and enjoy a marking of time, because you don’t know it will be the last time you go there, do that, or talk to them.

Going into 2016, I have classmates that lost their fathers, the world has lost some of our most creative entertainers, and I lost my friend, Marilyn Tucker. Below is a picture of a table that I have posted many times. It’s at a house on Canyon Lake in the Texas Hill Country. I often joke about it being my favorite office, my favorite place to write. It looks out over the water and in the early morning I would sit there and watch the sun rise from behind the hills.

Canyon Lake Office
My office at the lake


It was more than the beautiful view, it was the people that were there with me. The fellow writers that understood the creative process. The moments of silence that are needed when creating a fictional world that is real in your head. Marilyn Tucker gave this gift to me, not just the place, but a tribe. When I sat there in November I didn’t know it would be the last time. The last weekend with our tribal leader.

Story-tellers telling stories. Sasha Summers, Marilyn Tucker and Jodi Thomas
Story-tellers telling stories. Sasha Summers, Marilyn Tucker and Jodi Thomas

This has been a year of many blessings, joys, and wonderful accomplishments. But as tragedy often does, I was blindsided. In my fifty years, (it might only be forty eight, but I lose track), I have had unexpected losses, but the depth of this one caught me by surprise. She was not my mother, my sister, or my child. She was my friend, my tribal leader.
Almost three years ago, Marilyn Tucker invited me to be part of her tribe. A tribe that truly loves, supports, and understands each other, even our flaws and scars. We were very protective of this small group.
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Let me back up a moment and tell you about my experience in being a writer.
Every writer needs a tribe, and not just any tribe, but one that is drama free. Not free from the ups and downs of life. Not an everything-is-good-all-the-time type of crap, but free of the self-created drama, of not knowing the difference between pride and truth. Drama brought on by jealousy, envy and bitterness. It can swallow you whole before you’re even aware it has snuck up behind you.
There are times it seems as if everyone is doing better than you, finishing their stories, selling their stories, multi-book contracts, making more sells, going to bigger events, making more money, better marketing, winning awards and getting better reviews. We create illusions for a living and sometimes the best illusion is our own life.
Every writer needs a drama free zone were we can laugh at petty insecurities and self-doubt. The business of writing is exciting, thrilling and soul sucking.
You have people in your head that have stories to tell. You create a world from bits and pieces of who you are. If you’re truly honest and authentic you get to create characters that no one else can create. Your secret thoughts, desires, wishes and dreams are given life. Your view of the world and the people in it shape your story. You take the real and create a fantasy.
Eventually you will get brave enough to send it out for others to read, to strangers that have no care for your heart.
You want people to love your baby, to tell you and everyone they know that you have the most beautiful, creative, poignant story. You can’t wait to hear how the characters made them laugh…made them cry. You want them to see your baby as special and unique. You want the world to accept your baby and lift her up, to celebrate her.
Your story is the best part of your secrets, your heart. Sometimes it’s the part you hide and keep buried, and when you bring it to light, you want people to understand.
Some will, but others won’t. They might even call your baby names: unpolished, not worth reading, unbelievable, unmarketable, predictable or worse, boring. Yes, there will be people for whatever reason that don’t understand and they will let the public know.
If you let them, they will make you doubt yourself – Like we need any help in that area, right?
You tell yourself it will be better when you….get published, have more followers, get more books out, make the bestseller list, win awards or get that multi-book deal.
But the pressure gets worse, then you move into feeling like a fraud…what happens when they find out the truth? You aren’t really smart or creative – it was a fluke. The voices turn the self-doubt to a new level. I’ll never write another story anyone wants.
This, my friend, is where the tribe comes in, where they chase away the bad voices and get to the truth. My tribe leader, Marilyn Tucker, created a safe haven where we could create, brainstorm and vent. A group that spent time laughing at our own insecurities and looked honestly at our goals.
A group that reminds you of the joy of writing, the excitement of creating a new world. The emotion you create on the page becomes real and you remember why you write. What do you do when you lose your leader?
Talking story with Storm Navarro, Joni Hahn, Sasha Summers, Jodi Thomas, and Marilyn Tucker
You go adrift for a second. You come across a problem that you would have called her for and stumble when you remember she’s not available anymore.
What do you do? You move forward in her honor. You reach out to her other friends and together you build a new tribe. You take every encouraging word she said to you and plant it in your heart until it has roots and you harvest those words when you need them. You tell stories and you laugh. Marilyn lived to make others laugh. When she was reading her work out loud, she would count the times people laughed, that was how she knew if she succeeded in her goal. We remember her stories and laugh in her honor.
And we remember most of all, we are story tellers – we tell stories. We have the power to look at life, to take the joys and the sorrow and create a world that we can share with others. Our stories are not for those that don’t understand. They are for the ones that want to understand, that want to be reminded that even in our darkest moments, there is love. In the midst of a storm, we can find peace. For a moment, we can connect to others through words. Marilyn Tucker, you will be missed every day. Thank you for making me a better writer and more importantly, a better person.

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow
My office at the lake

A Texas Hill Country Thanksgiving

I thank my parents for raising me as a horse loving Texas Hill Country girl.   Nine Thanksgiving ago my sisters and I lost my mother. We lost our father nineteen years ago. They loved family and every holiday, plus some we were making the rounds to visit loved ones. We were shown through example that family matters.

A few years ago my sisters and I started a new tradition for Thanksgiving. We rented a cabin by the Frio River in Leakey, Texas. (our parents married in Leakey) A cousin from my family and a cousin from my brother-in-law’s joined in and we stay for four days.

The rest of my mother’s family, including her mother, join us. We bounce between 30 to 50 people on Thursday.  In a world that moves fast and people spend more time looking down at a screen than into the face of real people, personal connections with extended family gives  us roots and a healthier life. As humans, the need for relationships with others and nature is built into our DNA. To me Thanksgiving is not  about the food…it’s the people and getting away from the rush of daily life.

Old Giant Oak tree in Texas Hill Country. Leakey Texas.

These old trees make me think of how time moves and the world changes, but God is constant. We come and go but the world keeps turning. I love to take time and enjoy the peace these trees give me.

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Roads through the Texas Hill Country
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Taking time to walk off some of our Thanksgiving feast in the Texas Hill Country. Leakey Texas

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Enjoying the Frio River even in the rain. Two aunts and uncle and one of my sisters. Leakey Texas
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It helps if you have someone that plays the guitar and maracas.

Play some games! How to have fun at a Texas Hill Country Thanksgiving.

My Grandmother and seven (of ten)of her great-grandchildren from her oldest child, my mother, Cindy French Guinther. She has a total of thirty great-grandchildren.

Longhorn on a  Texas Hill Country Ranch Country
Longhorn on a Texas Hill Country Ranch Country

Since we are on a Texas Hill Country ranch we have to include a Longhorn.

Even thought we had rain we had fun. You have to set your mind to it sometimes but it can always be found. Play in the Rain!

Play in the Texas Rain with Jolene Navarro!
Play in the Texas Rain with Jolene Navarro!

Play in the Rain! Life is too short to wait around for the right time. Give thanks for the rain and the sun, the wind and the opportunity to experience it all.

What do you do to connect with people or nature?

 

 

Thor Looking for Jolene Navarro's book. A Texas Christmas Wish

A Texas Christmas Wish is officially out

I have loved this story from the moment I met Karly and knew she needed a happy ending. Tyler had been lurking in the background telling me he was ready. I can’t believe we have made it to release day and A Texas Christmas Wish will be launched into the world.

We celebrated last Saturday at Bergmann Lumber on Boerne Main Street. Small town living supporting small town stories.

Jolene Navarro signing books at Bergmann Lumber
Jolene Navarro signing books at Bergmann Lumber
Jolene Navarro signing books at Bergmann Lumber
Jolene Navarro signing books at Bergmann Lumber
Signing books at Bergmann Lumber
Signing books at Bergmann Lumber
The Purpose of Life, Faith, Family, Books, Community and football
The Purpose of Life, Faith, Family, Books, Community and football

I had a great time. If you are looking for the ebook to download – either Kindle or Nook they will be ready Thursday October 1 – Yes Tomorrow!

Thor Looking for Jolene Navarro's book. A Texas Christmas Wish
Thor Looking for Jolene Navarro’s book. A Texas Christmas Wish

Do you have you copy of A Texas Christmas Wish? Do you like Christmas stories?

Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas - photo Jolene Navarro

Part 2 What to do in Vegas if you don’t gamble or drink. Fremont Experience

Today I’m going to share my Fremont experience with you. Last week I shared the things I did in Vegas that didn’t involve gambling or drinking: I hung out in an over-the-top hotel room, watched a storm come in from the mountains, and watched people below. I explored the Palazzo and Venetian hotels, which included a small Italian village, With a friend I walked the South end of the Vegas Strip…Bellagio and Paris. Saw the gardens, the fountains and some Picasso.

My selfie in Vegas - I need to practice - Jolene Navarro
My selfie in Vegas – I need to practice – Jolene Navarro

If you missed it, just visit my last post

That alone would have made a good trip, but my roommate and fellow teacher agreed to go with me to the other end of Vegas. The “old” Vegas also know as the Fremont Experience. All the pictures were taken with my Samsung Galaxy Edge 6.

After looking at the options of traveling the distance to the opposite side of town we decided on the using the Deuce double-decked bus. We would only be using it once – to get there and back – so we paid cash 3.00 each way. If you want to get on and off you can get a one day for 8.00 or a three day for 20.00. All the locals say don’t use the cabs – they charge time and you pay for sitting in traffic.

Deuce double decked bus in Vegas
Deuce double decked bus in Vegas

We enjoyed the ride. Sitting front seat on the upper lever I got some nice pictures on our way to Fremont street. We passed Circus, Circus, the art district several wedding chapels and the Stratosphere.

Stratosphere on the Vegas Strip - Jolene Navarro
Stratosphere on the Vegas Strip – Jolene Navarro

We arrived on Fremont about 5:30 pm and went to Fremont East first to find dinner.

East Fremont Street
East Fremont Street
3-D Art on Fremont Street in Vegas. The Praying Mantis outside Container Park on Fremont St. photo by Jolene Navarro
3-D Art on Fremont Street in Vegas. The Praying Mantis outside Container Park on Fremont St. photo by Jolene Navarro

We found a gaint Praying Mantis. At night he puts on a laser show – While we were walking by a bride and groom were there with a photographer taking wedding photos.

The murals alone were worth the bus fee.

Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas - photo Jolene Navarro
Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas – photo Jolene Navarro
Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas - photo Jolene Navarro
Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas – photo Jolene Navarro

When we first got there another wedding couple were taking pictures with this one as the backdrop. I was going to take a picture of them taking pictures but my son says that’s creepy – they left before I could get a good one anyway. We saw a total of four couples in full wedding gear walking around Fremont.

Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas - photo Jolene Navarro
Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas – photo Jolene Navarro

One place that  looked like a great place to eat was The Market

Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas - photo Jolene Navarro
Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas – photo Jolene Navarro
Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas - photo Jolene Navarro
Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas – photo Jolene Navarro

The Market mural was so big it took two photos. I love the colors.

Fresh food at The Market. Nice option in Vegas.
Fresh food at The Market. Nice option in Vegas.

Back at the Palazzo a small bowl of wanton soup was $15.00 so a $5 lunch special with fresh fixings looked good. Locals had told us to try Radio City Pizzeria. So we headed across the street

Radio City Pizzeria on Fremont East with my roommate- photo by Jolene Navarroo
Radio City Pizzeria on Fremont East with my roommate- photo by Jolene Navarro

My roommate Monica was a great traveling partner. She never once complained when I would stop to take pictures. She even let me take hers with the way too big pizza we ordered. Oh, but it was good. One slice each filled us up and we took two to-go-boxes back to the hotel room. Good thing I took my large Vera Bradley. That sucker holds everything.

Radio City Pizzeria on Fremont East - photo by Jolene Navarro
Radio City Pizzeria on Fremont East – photo by Jolene Navarro

I had to take a picture of the toppings list. I might be a bit shelters but these are some strange toppings. Really, check out the list. You have to tell me if you would try or maybe even have tried some of these topping…Duck? Blood Sausage?

And what the heck is Beef Heart – is it what I think it is? ugh. Now I thought the eggplant sounded good.

Unusual topping choices at the Radio City Pizzeria on Fremont East
Unusual topping choices at the Radio City Pizzeria on Fremont East

After a great dinner we stepped out into the dusk. The Neon Lights were fired up. The Las Vegas Boulevard Signs Project partnered with Neon Museum to restore old signs that had been removed to make way for bigger and brighter. Now they are back, lighting up the night sky in downtown Las Vegas. Click here to visit their website

In 1996, the Horse and Rider from the Hacienda Hotel was the first sign restored and installed as public art in Downtown Las Vegas.

Historical Signage on Fremont in Las Vegas - photo by Jolene Navarro
Historical Signage on Fremont in Las Vegas – photo by Jolene Navarro

Map to the Restored Neon Signs

Historical Signage on Fremont in Las Vegas - photo by Jolene Navarro
Historical Signage on Fremont in Las Vegas – photo by Jolene Navarro
Historical Signage on Fremont in Las Vegas - photo by Jolene Navarro
Historical Signage on Fremont in Las Vegas – photo by Jolene Navarro
Fremont has become a living Museum to the history of Vegas -Historical Signs are on display -photo Jolene Navarro
Fremont has become a living Museum to the history of Vegas -Historical Signs are on display -photo Jolene Navarro
The Vegas of old on Fremont - photo by Jolene Navarro
The Vegas of old on Fremont – photo by Jolene Navarro

The hotel and casinos have gone through a bit of change since the days Howard Hughes set up shop.

Little monkey skeleton on Fremont Street Las Vegas - photo Jolene Navarro
Little monkey skeleton on Fremont Street Las Vegas – photo Jolene Navarro

I think the little monkey hanging on to the side of the building was one of my favorite neon art works.

As the sun goes down and the crowds start to pick up we headed to the other end of Fremont. The one with the largest digital screen in the world. Yes, you are walking under the screen. They also have free music here on certain nights so be sure to look that up.

Fremont - in Vegas the largest digital screen in the world. photo Jolene Navarro
Fremont – in Vegas the largest digital screen in the world. photo Jolene Navarro
Fremont -Zip lining in Vegas under the largest digital screen in the world. photo Jolene Navarro
Fremont -Zip lining in Vegas under the largest digital screen in the world. photo Jolene Navarro

The one thing I would not be doing was getting up close to the giant screen. See the black dots dangling from a rope? They are people that jumped off a platform and zipped to the other end of the screen.

Fremont Experience photo by Jolene Navarro
Fremont Experience photo by Jolene Navarro

It had started to get really crowed and almost naked people started showing up – some pretending to do magic, others trying to hoover in the air and some just hanging out with a loincloth. So we hopped back on the bus and headed to our room. Vegas is a visual feast and over all I have to say I enjoyed it. Wait? Did I ever play the slots? I confess, I did put a $20 in and ended up leaving with $43 …but I have to tell you, I couldn’t do it for long. It was really boring. Other than when it lit up and went crazy – at one point I did have $82.00 and to watch it slip down and down. I didn’t like it.

Have you been to Vegas? Do you want to go to Vegas? If you have been what was your favorite thing to do?

So now I’m off to New York for the Annual Romance Writers of America conference. Watch out New York here we come!