National Selfie Day

Celebrate Yourself!

I know people who love taking selfies and I know people who hate them.  Today is National Selfie Day and although I’m probably indifferent to selfies, I thought it would be fun to share both my photo and part of my day with others.  If I had thought about it earlier, I would have taken a ton of selfies doing random things for fun.  Selfies can be creative, humorous or serious.  They are whatever you make them.  Have fun expressing your authentic self. For those of you who are self-conscious or think its vain to take photos of yourself, I say let go and capture a moment of your life today.

Whoever you are and wherever you are, celebrate yourself today (and every day)!

Take a selfie and share!


Crazy Good Carob

I have been a chocolate connoisseur for most of my life, starting at an early age with milk chocolate.  My appetite gradually increased to all forms and varieties of chocolate including; chocolate covered donuts (I had a cat that loved them too!) cookies, pies, cakes, and candies. Ok, I was a chocolate addict.

When I moved to England, I was spoiled by the variety of wonderful English, Belgium, and French chocolate pastries and candies, and for years I consumed truckloads of deliciously smooth, velvety chocolate until one day after my excess consumption, I developed a severe migraine.  This was the beginning of my food allergies.  Within a short period of time, I could no longer eat chocolate, cheese, red wine, sugar or coffee without suffering the consequences.  People would often say they would rather die than give up their chocolate or coffee.  Believe me, you would survive.

I eventually found the answer to my chocolate prayers.  Carob is a healthy alternative to chocolate with a variety of reported health benefits including boosting the immune system, aids in digestion, and is also a powerful antioxidant.  Carob contains twice the amount of calcium that cocoa has, is full of vitamins and minerals including A, B-2, B-3, B-6, manganese, potassium, zinc and selenium and is high in protein, pectin, and fiber  The best part is that Carob is caffeine free, no more migraines!

I now make my own carob bars and candies.  One of my old favorites is chocolate (carob) stars that remind me of Christmas time, but any kind of candy mold will work. Below is a recipe for a chunky nut carob bar.

Karolee’s Carob

(makes a small batch)

1/2 cup organic coconut oil (heat in microwave)

1/4 cup Bob’s Roasted Red Mill Carob powder

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup cashews (or nuts of your choice)

1/2 cup Dandies plain or pumpkin marshmallows

Mix together and pour into molds or large ice cube trays and freeze.

This recipe can be altered by adding more or less of any ingredients including adding orange or mint oils.  I eat the candy right out of the freezer as sometimes the carob melts in your hand.

Not Your Average Roach Coach

Across the country, there are food trucks and then there are real food trucks, where people are literally selling food off the back of their trucks.

Although most of us have experienced eating from a food truck or what they are humorously called a “Roach Coach”, we enjoy the street experience of eating our grub on the curb where the sights and sounds of the street add to our savory experience.  Food trucks offer a quick and convenient meal on the run whether you are taking a lunch break from work or grabbing something to eat after the bars close.

Over the years, I have ordered and munched from a lot of food trucks in different cities across the country and in Europe, where one of my best meals came from a falafel truck in northwest London.  I remember standing on the street savoring my pita bread and mint yogurt covered falafels right out of its tinfoil wrapper.  This Middle Eastern food truck gave me a new culinary experience that my tastebuds still remember to this day.

I personally would not eat meats or seafood off the back of a random truck for obvious reasons, as well as now being vegan, but think that you have to use good judgment.

Recently I had the opportunity to buy fruit and veggies from a random man selling watermelons and tomatoes from the back of his run-down pickup truck.  After having been disappointed with a purchase of bad fruit from a local grocery chain, I decided to buy directly from the man who brought the fruits and veggies right from the ground to my local street. Not only was the fruit some of the freshest I have ever tasted with no pesticides or chemicals, but I was able to support someone who grew the food from seeds, an experience that the grocery store does not offer.

I’m all about having new experiences whether they be large or small.  Since I no longer have a farmer’s market nearby (or do I?) I find it interesting to connect to the people who still grow and sell fresh fruit and vegetables, which allows me to have a culinary experience of the sweetest kind!

A Minimalist Journey

My journey began in 2016 with the sale of my own 4 bedroom home, followed by clearing out my parent’s condominium in Florida and large split level home twice in the Midwest.  I then spent the next two years living with my parents caretaking, with my stuff in boxes in storage.  Recently, I relocated across the country and made the decision to reduce my belongings and downsize as I prepared to move into a small two-bedroom condo.  Having gone through the process of selling, sorting and giving away items so many times over the past two years, I realized that the more stuff I had, the larger my burden was.

Although I had shipped my belongings from the Midwest and downsized considerably, when I arrived in southern Florida, I was informed by the trucking company that my belongings were delayed and would not arrive for almost two weeks, leaving me to live in an entirely empty condo with no bed, table or chairs.  At first, I thought it would be ok, a minimalist adventure, something that I had wanted to do for years, so I mentally prepared for minimal living.  I had a few dishes, one pan, five tops and five pants and one pair of shoes that had developed a hole in the toe that I would wear for the next two weeks.

In the beginning, the emptiness felt like freedom, but then the stark white walls and ceiling began to feel like a hospital as I had nothing to make me feel grounded.  I love color and earthy things like plants and rugs, so I tried to embrace the emptiness although I had moments where I struggled to feel at home, as I had no sense of belonging or personal items to make it my own.

Over time, I started to enjoy the simplicity of not having a lot of stuff to clean or pick up.  Life became easy and effortless in my newfound space.  I cleaned and reused the same dishes for each meal, I reused my towels, I only had a few items in my closet and the space became liberating to me.  I was no longer focused on stuff but spent my time focusing on meeting new people and engaging in activities that were meaningful to me.

Then the day came when the truck driver called and said he would arrive at 8:00 am the following morning.  I was excited to get my things back and missed my furniture.  The truck arrived on time and the driver and workers started to unload.  With each and every load of boxes that they carried in, I started to feel my energy drain and a heaviness settle over my soul.  After several hours of carrying in boxes of all shapes and sizes, the small two bedroom condo became crowded and filled to the ceiling.  I had even downsized before I came but had not realized how small the condo was.  I started to feel suffocated and quickly missed all of my open space I had been living in.

When the movers were done, I signed on the dotted line and picked up a yoga matt that wasn’t even mine.  Somehow not only did I end up with a household full of stuff, but I also had other people’s belongings as well.  I felt the heaviness physically and felt like I was living as a hoarder.  I knew that I couldn’t keep all the boxes, nor did I want to, but I didn’t want to even think about opening them or touching them that day, so I left the boxes alone and went outside for a long walk, mainly to get away from the stuff.

I later made the decision that I did not want all that clutter and that I had spent too much of my time accumulating things in the past.  The stuff had to go, so I made the decision that I would not spend any more time shopping.  If I brought something new into my house, something else would have to leave. I had briefly spent a week living a minimalist lifestyle and had grown to love the freedom and ease it brought me.  The next day I began to open boxes and with some help, I was able to donate all of my unwanted items which included kitchen appliances, dishes, candles, artwork, clothes, shoes and other unneeded things.

I came to the conclusion that although I wanted to live a simple minimalistic lifestyle, I also needed to have a few of my own belongings to connect with or to help me feel grounded so I decided that a few larger pieces were needed, but a lot of the smaller items that had no significance would have to go.

My personal situation was still somewhat in transition as I searched for my place of belonging.  During this time, I applied for a job in Arizona.  I decided that if I was offered the position, I would have to cut my belongings in half again, as this would mean shipping my belongings over 2000 miles, a costly and expensive trip.  So box by box, I began my journey into minimalism and felt lighter with each box that I unloaded and left my home.

At this moment, I do not know what my future holds or what direction it will take me, but I do know that wherever I go, I don’t want my life and home to be filled with stuff, but want it to be filled with people, love, peace, joy, and happiness.

If you decide to begin the journey of minimalism, let me help you take the first step.  This journey may not be easy in the beginning, but through the process, you will learn about yourself, become free from the past, and find that your life becomes lighter in ways that you could never imagine.

The Dirty Cloud Maker App Now Available!

The Dirty Cloud Maker has now been developed into an interactive story app for Android!  It is also being developed for Apple and will be available soon! To purchase The Dirty Cloud Maker app click the link below:

Many thanks to the creative team for designing and developing this app: Alison Brugger, Andrew Kratwell, and Jay Jordan and to Jeannette Houck for her expressive narrative.