Welcome to Makin' It Monday, Guest Raw Chef edition. Today, Dave Sokulski of www.BirchCenter.com and www.FoodUnderFoot.com gets a little silly while making some delicious raw cacao treats! Enjoy the video:

Jim here... Wow, did you read yesterday's post ? Wendi is away for a month starting today. That's like a year in Internet time, right?

So, I guess I have the blog to myself for a while. So strange... I mean, I helped her set it up back in late '07, contributed numerous articles and a lot of behind-the-scenes time along the way, and then got really involved here (regularly -- daily, even) about a year ago. But, I never "had the keys" all to myself for a long spell. I feel as though I've been entrusted with something important, you know ? I must control that strange compulsion within me to, you know, run a silly cat video or something. But, I'll resist and keep things on-point. (LOL)

Jim here... It's not often that we're able to recommend a movie that's perfectly relevant to the raw food lifestyle. But, if you're a raw vegan and haven't seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, we highly recommend this film. Not only is it wonderful, but it's also, for much of the film, a nice metaphor for living the raw foods lifestyle.

It's not much longer before I'll be serving all kinds of delicious foods to those attending the 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Ashram Retreat! I've been working on the recipes and taking pictures to include with the bound materials going home with everyone attending the retreat.

Before officially starting the new year, I'd like to acknowledge the changes and growth that took place over the past year. It was a whirlwind of changes, sometimes so dizzying that I wondered what I was doing and occasionally questioned whether, or not, I was making mistakes with my life. I followed my intuition, however, and it served me well. I'm here today, remembering the past year and ready to announce plans for this new year that has just begun. It's a beautiful life, isn't it Even when things seem dark and like there is a lot of pain, there is a tremendous amount of potential for new growth and a brighter life than ever imagined.

I ended 2008, perched on a summit and ready to take flight. Before I fly, however, I'm standing still for a bit and enjoying the view. I feel like the entire past year consisted of climbing to higher and higher plateaus of an enormous mountain. While climbing to each new plateau I stumbled, held on for dear life, saw amazing things, and became stronger.When reaching each new plateau, I'd spread my wings and leap, circling the mountain's circumference. But, I wasn't strong enough to fly straight to the peak. It was a year of gradual growth and change -- and I found myself becoming stronger and stronger as I reached the summit.I'm certainly not the same person who started this climb. I have transformed into a more genuine version of myself, a younger and stronger woman emerging from a lifetime of guilt and fear. As I stand on this summit, I feel youthful and invigorated. What lies ahead may be unknown to me, but I know it's within my ability to fly to the highest heights of ANY mountain, to see and do and experience ALL that I desire. It's going to be an incredible future and I look forward to sharing it with all of you!

In recognizing all of the accomplishments of 2008, I think it's important to admit that it wasn't one steady climb to the point I'm at today.The few years prior to 2008 were almost like my training in mountain climbing. Last year there were a lot of tears shed, along with a releasing of physical and emotional baggage that was still clinging to me. I openly shared what I was going through, however, after learning that keeping things inside was slowly killing my spirit. I think if I had to sum up 2008 in just one sentence it would be: In finally releasing everything, I woke up as my true self.

Quick note: Jim here... So strikingly pervasive is the "winter blues of 2010" that I suspect many of my friends will think this is about them. But, it's just some thoughts, really -- not in response to anything or anyone in particular. (In fact, if anything, it's in response to something related to our dog, which we'll no doubt write about at some point.)

I sense that there is a useful blog post on the topic of "raw during tough times." However, after pondering the topic at length, I'm just not exactly sure what to say about it. I do know that quite a lot of people come to feel disappointed in themselves for straying from the healthiest path. It's a story I've read over and over on raw web sites and blogs, perhaps more frequently in the winter. It starts out the same: Someone goes raw, gets all fired up about it, and soon starts feeling youthful and vibrant again. The high lasts for a while, but then ... something happens. They slip back to cooked foods -- or worse, to junk foods. Sometimes the process repeats itself for years.

Jim here...? Ahh, yes, you noticed, didn't you ? We'd started posting a video series called "Know Your Food" recently, promising to shoot for it being a DAILY series -- only to have its presence totally disappear as though Harry Houdini himself had taken control of our blog.
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Well, we just wanted to post a quick explanation for you. Short answer: Know Your Food is coming back SOON!? We've been at work on so many amazing projects here at Pure Jeevan, a few of which we needed to complete prior to officially launching Know Your Food in a big way.
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To put it metaphorically, Pure Jeevan can be thought of as an enormous hang glider. With hang gliding, you have to make sure everything's in order before jumping from the cliff and soaring freely above the landscape. (Ummm, not that we've ever actually hang-glided. What IS the past-tense of hang-glide, anyway )? So, we're just checking the rigging and so forth right now.
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When we do step off that precipice, though... wow, you won't believe the cascade of huge announcements we'll have for the raw foods community. Know Your Food (which will return soon, prior to all of the huge announcements we have in store) will return in all of it's YouTube-esque glory very soon. So, thanks for your patience in that matter!
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One more thing:?

Our friend Kevin Gianni is turning 30 this weekend. When you do the math, that means he was born December 7, 1978, which was pretty much the apex of the disco era in America.It's no wonder the man struck the above pose in our back yard; dude's got the Village People in his blood! So, it would be really nice if you boogied down to his site, www.RenegadeHealth.com, and wished him a happy birthday. He's also on Twitter -- cast a shoutout to: @KevinGianni.

Today, we thought we'd share another non-diet-oriented explanation of obesity. It's from Rhonda Byrne, author of the international multi-media phenomenon known as "The Secret," which provides readers with in-depth philosophical explanation and instruction with respect to the Law of Attraction.

Wendi and I have The Secret on CD, and often enjoy listening to it. I think, in fairness, we both have a few legitimate criticisms about certain aspects of it (and I'll share one or two, below). However, on the whole, many of the ideas within resonate deeply for us and we find much of the underlying message profoundly uplifting and empowering -- especially (for me) much of the discussion regarding maintaining a healthy, positive, optimistic attitude and practicing gratitude.

To help keep all of you inspired, we ve asked some

remarkable individuals to share their raw food stories with you. Enjoy!

Today I am thankful for the small things in life that often go overlooked. I'm thankful Jim made some sweet dessert last night when I wanted it. I'm thankful KDcat is having a fun time with some of her friends right now. I'm thankful that: the trash collectors just picked up the garbage (we don't produce a whole lot since going raw); the older woman across the street has started smiling and being nice to KDcat; the sun is out and the snow is melting; I have another computer job to work on for some income.

You thought our "Know Your Food" series was dead ?!!? (Or, if you're a new reader, maybe you don't know what "Know Your Food" is yet!) Well, we've been poking around in the archives this week and discovered THREE lost episodes. This is HUGE... It's like one of those stories you hear every few years about some rare Hollywood film being discovered in a vault somewhere (laughing so hard)!

Over the next week or two, we'll be posting these three episodes. Today's episode is PUMPKIN, starring Wendi and her guest Ella (daughter of Melissa and Dave, who run the FoodUnderFoot blog we linked to recently). Once these missing episodes have been aired, this will usher in the dawn of a never-before seen level of production values for the Know Your Food series. The new stuff will totally win every major award available to YouTubers (continues laughing...).

Sure, we know pumpkins aren't in season right now. However, this video is sweet because of our special guest. So, enjoy the Pumpkin episode: