About Me

My name is Christine. I'm a visual artist, musician, traditional storyteller, DV survivor, and have been a fulltime caregiver for an individual living with various diagnoses. After my marriage, I learned how to play various instruments, started exploring various means of creative expression, worked with at-risk teens/families, volunteered with the local crisis lines, participated in starting up a family resource center, completed my BA, furthered my studies towards becoming an art therapist, managed homes for adults living with disabilities, and facilitated therapeutic music/art sessions. I was doing everything I could so my children and I could have a brighter life, present and future. My physical health, however, continued to show evidence of too many chronic stressors over many decades. This blog is about my journey in discovering peace and better health by meeting life in the most basic and, in my opinion, the most rewarding of ways - by focusing on the riches of simplicity. If you're a new visitor to my blog, you might be interested in starting here: Finding the Riches.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Almond Pudding, Living with Autism, Train the Brain, Thrift Shop Stained Glass, Red Squirrel

I'm not into consumerism. I believe in reusing, and find no shame (a bit of a thrill, actually!) in finding ways to reuse thrift shop items. For my son, our treks to the thrift shop provide him the opportunity to peruse an abundance of items and maybe even take some of them home with him - most frequently, movies for $1. and board games for $2.  It also allows me to address my son's ongoing clothing needs on bag sale days and replace the numerous items that often need replacing in our home. As an added bonus, we often see a few folks we know there on Saturdays which makes for a nice social outing.  Today's little gem is going to be cleaned up and hung on an old barn door I have on my deck. Yes, that's a $1.00 price tag at the top!

Last September, we noticed a small red squirrel in our front yard. This was the first I'd seen in this area and hadn't expected to see much of him/her. I've been pleasantly surprised to discover that he or she seems to appreciate the neighbourhood and seems quite at home in our evergreen trees. This little gift is providing us with much viewing enjoyment. Stayed tuned for apple stories.

Training the Brain
For children whose brains did not either fully develop in utero or developed differently than "the norm", daily functioning can be an ongoing challenge.  While visual and/or verbal prompts are helpful to many, my son has repeatedly rejected the idea through the years because he often doesn't remember to use the visual prompt and usually doesn't want to have to be reminded.  What's one left to do? Train the brain! My son either takes some quiet time to himself or shifts into brief physical exercise in order to help him focus and train his brain to think about what he needs/needed to do. In addition, there's repetion repetition repetition! Learning by rote is one of the strongest tools my son has been able to use.


"Living With Autism"
Acrylics on 20"x20" gallery-wrapped canvas

Amazing Almond Pudding
This is one of our favourite foods! It's light, made without dairy and without processed sugar, and everything about it is adjustable to your personal tastes. The following makes four just-right servings, about 1/2 cup each.
Ingredients: 1 cup almonds, 2.5 cups water, honey or maple syrup to taste, vanilla (optional), cinnamon (or other spices) to taste, cornstarch
Mmmmmaking it!
1.Toss 1 cup almonds into your blender. Add 2.5 cups of water. Don't forget the lid! Blend on high for a couple of minutes until well-blended then strain the liquid into the top pot of a double-boiler. You can also use a regular pot on the stove, but you'll have to be very careful not to let it burn. (Keep the "almond mash" for future use - cereal topping, add honey to it and just enjoy, etc.)
2. Add melted honey or maple syrup to taste.
3. Sprinkle a bit of spice to taste. We use either cinnamon or a pumpkin pie spice blend.
4. Add about half a teaspoon of vanilla, or to taste. (Optional)
5. Heat the mixture to bubbling, constantly stirring/whisking while thickening with cornstarch blend (about 1.5 Tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 0.5 Tablespoon of water   -    repeat if you prefer a thicker consistency) or whatever you prefer to use as a thickener (tapioca starch doesn't work - we tried!)
6. Pour into ramekins or other small serving dishes. Can be eaten warm or cooled. To keep the pudding from forming a rubbery skin on top, place a small square of foil or parchment paper onto each dish so it is in contact with the entire surface of the pudding. When serving, I often sprinkle a bit of added cinnamon on top and/or a square of Fair Trade chocolate.


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