What fun it is to share a fun day with like-minded people at a special location, sharing good times, laughter, and delicious, nutritious raw food wonderment. Here are some pics from our outing -- hopefully the first of many such unique outings blending the Pittsburgh raw group with the D.C. one.

We hope this also provides some inspiration for other meetup groups to consider holding joint meetups in some geographically central location.

If you're new to raw foods, you're probably aware that eating this way isn't exactly mainstream. And, while we've talked here before about the importance of connecting with others for inspiration and support, it's true that a lot of that lends itself to participation in virtual worlds such as Twitter, Facebook, Give It to Me Raw, and other communities, blogs, and sites where raw foodies hang out.

Recently I've been to three potlucks in the span of four days. They've all been wonderful for different reasons -- one was a birthday party for a lovely young woman, Bethany, another was part of a women's circle that my friend, Melissa, invited me to attend, and the other was at my home as a meetup when Kevin and Annmarie Gianni were here visiting. Lots of fun, connecting with people, and raw foods to eat.

Sounds perfect, right? Well, something's been happening with me and raw foods over the past year. It became even more evident after eating at three different potlucks over four days. I've noticed more and more that when I don't eat something that I've created, I many times have reactions to the foods I've eaten. The reactions have ranged from flushed facial skin, slight headaches, hives, full-blown headaches, upset stomach, water retention, achy joints, etc. All signs of being sensitive to something I'm eating, right? I've narrowed it down to a few things, but it doesn't seem to be an exact science to knowing what's going to cause the reaction.

At home I know that I feel better if I don't consume garlic even though I love the taste and smell of it. When I eat too much of it I experience headaches and sometimes flushed cheeks. I gave up raw vinegar a long time ago because it makes my joints ache. Recently I noticed that whenever I eat Nama Shoyu I get a headache, flushed cheeks, and sometimes some hives. So, at home I can control my reactions to foods -- I simply avoid eating the things that sometimes trigger problems for me. I feel great most of the time because I eat more simply and my body doesn't experience any problems.

We're into soft foods and treats these days, because Jim recently had a wisdom tooth extracted (KDcat insists he is less wise for having done so). We've been having a lot of fruit smoothies! I made a big mistake and created a smoothie with a grapefruit for the juicy part (I normally only use oranges). I don't care for grapefruit, because the bitter part just isn't appealing to me. However, I thought for sure that bananas and frozen berries would override the bitter taste of the grapefruit. It didn't, so I added some agave to the mixture and blended it again. Nope--still bitter. So, I asked Jim to taste it (he LOVES grapefruit) and he thought it was fantastic. He consumed the entire pitcher of the bitter concoction.

Here's Wendi in Portland interviewing Wes Hannah, one of the owners of Blossoming Lotus, a vegan restaurant that also serves a lot of delicious raw foods. Wendi said it's worth a trip to Portland just to eat there!

[Sorry about the video quality there. I was having some trouble editing this on an old machine. Wendi took the good one with her on the trip!]

After leaving Salem, Oregon, Wendi and KDcat drove less than an hour to the city of Corvallis where they met up with their hosts the Zander's -- Joni, Steve, Bekka, and Stephanie -- a fellow unschooling family Wendi had come to know in an online forum. It was great to be in their company and we loved them right away,? Wendi wrote. ?Their home is absolutely beautiful on a really cute lot with plenty of plants and trees around ? including the most delightful flowers that smelled divine (I think they were called Daphne).

Corvallis is the city we ve mentioned multiple times -- the city that feels like it s the right fit for us. Well, it lived up to our dreams in just about every way. It s a progressive, hip town with a lot going on. The people are friendly, the weather is beautiful, the land is gorgeous, and there are lots of unschoolers. Access to fresh, ogranic, raw foods doesn't seem to be an issue anywhere in Oregon, according to reports from the road so far. While they've been away, we've talked quite a bit each night about what they're finding -- and fresh organic produce seems pretty much everywhere out west. "The west," wrote Jim Morrison, "is the best." (Surely he was a raw foodie.)

Jon Gold, owner of the Sunny Side Up Cafe (a vegan and vegetarian restaurant there) and an unschool father, put together a little gathering of unschoolers for KDcat and Wendi. They were able to meet some local unschoolers and ask questions. There was also a gathering one day at the cafe where KDcat was able to do some art at a table with some other unschool teens. It's definitely a creative, easy-going town with some fantastic people in it!

Do you know how sometimes you meet somebody new and they tell you their name and it just doesn't seem to fit for some reason? Well, that's just not the case for the person that we'd like to introduce to you today. This person's name describes the individual she is as well as the community that she creates.

Take the Time to Meet? Happy Oasis!

The superlatively captivating, one-and-only Bif Naked has been a superstar rock and roll icon, performer, diva, composer, acclaimed actress, sought-after voice-over artist, gifted poet / writer, and even cartoonist(!) for years. But, did you know she's also a raw vegan !

Early in 2009, I remember reading about her breast cancer diagnosis. The story both intrigued and haunted the raw world: ?How could a raw foodie get cancer ! We're supposed to be impervious to such things, right !

Hi everyone! It's Wendi here, back to updating the blog and giving Jim a much-needed break. ;-) He did an amazing job with all he did while we were away (his full time corporate job; assisting me with a part-time computer job; keeping the house ready for realtors and potential buyers to stop by; dealing with some sad issues around our dog, Julia; connecting with our hosts and those requesting meetups/talks across the country; catching up with KDcat and I for a bit each evening to hear how we were doing; collecting pictures/videos/notes from me to then go through and create blog posts for all of you; helping friends fix up their attic into a useable place; and so much more)! He missed us a lot, and we missed him a lot, too.

So, here we pick up from where we left off with our travels yesterday...

It wasn't easy leaving Arizona. KDcat and I both wished we had more time to play on the rocks in Sedona. But, we'll keep that for a time when all three of us (next time with Jim) can be there to experience the wonder of that beautiful place. So, it was off to New Mexico! Since our host in Albuquerque was going to be busy until the evening, we slept in a bit before leaving Arizona.

In Albuquerque, NM, we stayed in the home of the beautiful Darshanie, who was out of the country visiting her daughter and attending the wedding of her brother. I met Darshanie at the Peaceful Valley Ashram a few years ago (the same ashram where I held a raw food spiritual retreat). She's one of Leela Mata's beautiful and talented daughters, creating candles which she sells as well as offering intuitive readings [click here to learn more about Darshanie]. It was wonderful to be invited to stay with Darshanie during our travels, and I was a bit sad that she wouldn't be there when we arrived, but who would ever miss out on the chance to attend an Indian wedding ! If you're ever invited to attend one, consider it a huge honor and accept the invitation. Indian weddings are breathtakingly beautiful in so many ways.

We have something special for today s Makin? It Monday! Remember Terilynn, the brilliant chef behind The Daily Raw Caf , whom we introduced you to not long ago? Well, this weekend she posted a recipe challenge open to anyone willing to participate. We here at Pure Jeevan are always up for an adventure, so thanks for the challenge, Terilynn!

The rules were simple: Use the list of possible ingredients, create a raw vegan food dish, and send pictures and information about your dish to The Daily Raw Caf . Here s the list for the challenge, with the items we didn t have available crossed out:

Jim here... As I hinted at last week, I decided to try changing things up a bit and seeing what I thought of it. The salad you see above included the first cooked food I've had in more than two years. If you look closely, you can see that I sprinkled on a few spoonfuls of black beans. Also, in the upper left corner, there's a small spoonful of quinoa. I don't want to give the wrong impression here: ?This blog will certainly remain a major go-to source for raw food nutrition information. It's just that, today, I want to talk about experimentation a little bit.

First, I think it's generally healthy to experiment with your diet -- especially when you get the sense that something isn't working in your current diet. The fact is, diet is a dynamic thing, not a static aspect of your life. It has to be this way because so many factors affect our physiology on a day-to-day basis. Off the top of my head, these include the facts that: