After our Oklahoma stop, we had back-to-back visits with family. During our 40-day tour, we had a great time at every place we stayed. There's something extra special about being with family, however. KDcat especially loved this part of the trip, where she could stay up late and sleep in every morning.

Our first stop was St. Louis, Missouri, to see Grandma and Grandpa Dee, and Aunt Jeanne. We did some shopping at Whole Foods, bought lots of organic produce, and prepared some raw dishes to share with everyone. We purchased a young coconut and KDcat used Grandpa's hatchet to show everyone how to open a young coconut. Jim's mother learned to make raw hummus, without chickpeas, and even agreed to be a guest chef for a Makin' It Monday raw food recipe video! So, we'll be sharing that with all of you in the near future! Aunt Jeanne loved the hummus, as well as the raw tacos we created. She seems to have a liking for raw foods, so who knows...you may be seeing another Dee online sharing info about raw foods in the future ! Grandpa is always a fan of apple pies, so he thoroughly enjoyed the pie we created during our visit. Grandpa and KDcat also spent some time talking about music, a passion for both of them.

Our second stop was Geneseo, Illinois, to visit with Aunt Cindy, Uncle Ray (who had to work during our visit), and cousin Destiny. KDcat and Destiny don't see each other very often, so this was a real treat. Destiny's a sweet girl who became a vegetarian over a year ago (she's the only vegetarian in her home)! That's a huge thing to do when you're just a young teenager and we're proud of her for taking her health into her own hands (and for saving the animals!). We took a lot of pictures while visiting. In the photoset, you'll see that somehow a monkey crawled onto KDcat's back and hung around with her most of one day (in which she was dressed up in quite the outfit!). That monkey found its way into all kinds of interesting places (in a park, playing on the slide, swing, etc., and even in the house playing the piano -- and I caught him trying to steal some of my bananas!). The weather was beautiful during our visit, so we spent a lot of time outside, walking and enjoying the beautiful time together. At this stop we created a raw apple crumble, which Aunt Cindy later modified with blueberries. We're gently nudging her to make a video of the recipe she created, so we can all see how it's made! It sounded delicious.

Here's some coconutty video footage from our Florida Keys excursion. First up is some footage of Randesh, from www.TheGuana.com, who obtains fresh coconuts for Charlie Wilson's Key West restaurant, Help Yourself (see yesterday's blog post).Notice that Randesh uses a proper piece of equipment -- a large machete (or cutlass) -- which makes short, easy work of opening these precious gifts of nature! In the video footage following that, you'll see how comically difficult it is to open a young coconut when you lack the proper equipment. We actually went out looking for a machete, but could only find a large chef's knife at a local K-Mart. Yep, they were sold out of machetes! (Ironically, the chef's knife -- the heaviest one the store had -- cost about $17, while plain old machetes run just $10 or so at most hardware stores. Next time we'll keep looking...)

Below are two variations of the same issue: I'm too tired and don't have enough time to be healthy. The irony, of course, is that the more raw foods you eat, the more energy (and therefore time) you have!

By the end of the day I am so exhausted I'd rather not eat than go in the kitchen & try making something raw.

How do I stay raw with all the food prep and my lack of time and life's pressures

We had a wonderful weekend that started with a raw food potluck in our home (through the Pittsburgh Raw Food Meetup group). There were about twenty people and so many lovely raw food dishes! I haven't checked the camera, yet, but I hope someone remembered to capture some pictures of the food and guests. It was all very yummy, including the beet pasta I made with a cream sauce. I also made some carob peppermint sweets that KDcat formed into bite-sized balls and arranged them on a platter. A friend of mine told me that the people who show up for raw food potlucks tend to be genuinely nice people, and she was right. It was a pleasure meeting everyone and I look forward to next month's meetup.

The rest of our weekend was spent with our guest, Devaki, who just left a few minutes ago to return to the ashram. She played some beautiful music on the harmonium and she and some other lovely guests filled our home with the beauty and energy of Kirtan chanting. Some of the chants were in English, too. I thought I wouldn't like them as much, but they were just as beautiful as the Indian ones. One of my close friends who was here for the Kirtan told me that I was glowing after the chanting! I love the blissful feeling that comes from chanting and meditation.

For the past twelve years I've been doing some monthly freelance work for a nonprofit company. I've done other work in addition to the work for this company, but for the past few years I've solely been working with them. The work is sweet---straight-forward desktop publishing for a legal advertising publication. I don't have to read, write, edit, research, or anything else---simply format the pages. The pay is great, too!

Well, I just received a call a few minutes ago notifying me that the publication will no longer be printed. I'm overjoyed for the trees---I wish all publications would go digital. However, since it's going digital, they won't be needing my services much longer.

We now have two more raw food snack companies sharing some of their goodies for the retreat gift baskets! A special thank you go out to:

Just a few brief thoughts for you this Weird Wednesday...

Of all the species on this Earth, it's weird that no other animals besides people cook their food. Similarly, of all the species on this Earth, it's weird that no other animals besides people drink the milk of other animals.

Jim here... I'd like to mainly talk about organics today, but thought I'd wrap that subject into a longer, rather quirky piece on ranking produce on some sort of a scale that would indicate how awesome (or awful) it is. See what you think...

Have you ever thought of arranging produce into a sort of "heirarchy of quality"? Well, I'm not going to attempt to do that here, but I would like to discuss the concept for a moment in order to at least explain what I'm getting at. While I've not yet attempted to do this exercise, I nonetheless occasionally envision a large chart or something that conveys my feelings about how I personally rank the quality of fruits and vegetables I put into my body. This all probably sounds vague, so let me share some examples.

Hi there, lovely Pure Jeevan family members!

It's so sweet that many of you are concerned about us, wondering where we are and what we are doing since the blog has been quiet for quite some time. We feel very loved! *blows kisses to everyone*

Well, our trip to Portland, Oregon, went well. We bought the fixer-upper home that will eventually house Pure Jeevan, and did some preliminary work on it (it's a *true* fixer-upper and is going to require *a lot* of work and investment). A few times during our stay in the new home, Jim and I both looked at each other, wild-eyed, wondering what we had done. Following one's intuition can be a bit scary at times, but we've learned over the years that things always work out for the best and that these sometimes scary, unknown times are what help us grow and learn in ways we had never imagined.

Today is the beginning of the second three-day focus on the attributes of a different Goddess who is most worshiped during the Hindu celebration of Navratri. She is Goddess Lakshmi, bringer of wealth and good luck. Let's focus on the idea of wealth. When we first hear the word, many of us think about monetary wealth. However, there is a much deeper meaning ... that of abundance. Feminine energy has the ability to bring forth, to birth, abundance that is beyond the imagination, in every aspect of our lives. Female energy is fertile, able to create a beautiful life and future, shine forth and bring wisdom into view, all with grace and beauty. All of these are attributes of Goddess Lakshmi, qualities we all have within us. Qualities I celebrate within myself and within all of you (male and female, alike).

End of Day 3:

Today we welcome Melissa Sokulski from BirchCenter.com and FoodUnderFoot.com for another episode of Pure Jeevan's Makin' It Monday "Guest Raw Chef" edition. In this episode, Melissa demonstrates how to make raw tortillas (this recipe uses a dehydrator). You'll be amazed at how pliable these tortillas are!!