Remembering the Heroes

Thinking about all of the Americans who have died for the freedoms we enjoy in the United States, here are a few famous and not so famous quotes in their honor.

 

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” ~Joseph Campbell

The brave die never, though they sleep in dust: Their courage serves a thousand living men.” ~Minot J. Savage

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

They fell, but o’er their glorious grave floats free the banner of the cause they died to save.” ~Francis Marion Crawford

Who kept the faith and fought the fight; The glory theirs, the duty ours.” ~Wallace Bruce

 

Find more here: Memorial Day 2014 Quotes 

Enjoy your barbecue… for them.

Do you have a favorite Memorial Day themed quote? Add it to the comments below.

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Sunday Dinner: Chocolate Avocado Mousse

 

What???

Avocado and chocolate? Sounds dreadful!

However, as I found out, this combination makes a wonderfully rich dessert that is gluten free and cane sugar free and dairy free (unless you top it with whipped cream).

You’ll need a food processor or blender, an avocado (peeled and pitted), 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 Tbsp. raw organic agave nectar , pinch of sea salt (1/16 tsp), and 1/2 Tbsp. oil (I use coconut oil).

Adjust the ingredients according to the size of your avocado. In New Jersey, most of the avocados that we get are about the size of a pear or smaller.

Whip all of the ingredients together in the food processor until you don’t see any lumps of avocado and it looks like a thick pudding.

Taste it now.

If it’s too bitter, add a bit more agave or a touch of pure stevia powder (and make a note to use a bit less cocoa powder next time). If it’s not chocolatey enough add more cocoa powder and whip it a little longer.

I’m sure you could try substituting stevia powder (or liquid) for the agave, but you might need to adjust the oil or add a little bit of water to improve the consistency.

It keeps in the refrigerator for a few days, but the consistency is best right after it is made.

Now that you made it, here are a few ideas of how to enjoy it.

  • Eat it as it is, right out of the food processor.
  • Top with home made whipped cream sweetened with stevia.
  • Layer it with bananas and/or strawberries.
  • Top it with chopped peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc.
  • Add some shaved chocolate or gluten free chocolate chips.
  • Use it as a dip for fruit.

Additional notes:

Substitute raw local honey for raw organic agave nectar for a more natural sweetner.

I prefer organic products when possible (organic coconut oil, organic avocados, etc.).

Let me know how you like this version of a chocolate mousse dessert in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why dye gemstones?

 

Why do you dye your hair? Maybe you dye it to enhance your natural hair color. Maybe you dye it a completely different color for excitement or to be fashionable. And then, like me, you might dye your hair to look a few years younger (ie. cover the gray).

Gemstones are frequently dyed, too. Sometimes they are dyed to enhance their natural colors. Sometimes they are dyed to look like another gemstone.

Sometimes they are dyed to give them a very different color for fashion purposes.

Picasso jasper necklace

These Picasso Jasper gemstones were dyed a brilliant turquoise to make a fashion statement.

When buying loose gemstones to make into jewelry, be sure to look for the information indicating that the gem is natural, treated, stabilized, or dyed. These enhancements are not necessarily bad, they simply improve the appearance or stability of the stones. The gemstones are still genuine gemstones, but they are not natural. It’s important to remember that the treatment might have improved their appearance but it does not turn them into a higher quality or more valuable gem.

How are gemstones dyed? The Gemological Institute of America explains it best in their article: An Introduction to Gem Treatment.

Be aware that lab created gemstones should be labeled as simulated or synthetic. They are not genuine gemstones in the same way that a wig is not your real hair.

 

 

 

 

Is it Lapis or Lapiz?

 

 

Lapis lazuli is one of my favorite gemstones. I love blue and a high quality lapis lazuli will contain gorgeous shades of deep, rich blues. As in the photo above, the lapis gemstones are often flecked with calcite, sodalite, and pyrite.

High quality lapis can be pricey. If you are shopping for stones or beads, you’ll usually find a wide selection of A- to D grade lapis lazuli stones at reasonable prices online from Fire Mountain Gems or ArtBeads or, if you have a business license, you could also search for wholesale vendors.

For the best quality, look for the A (or AA, AAA) graded gemstones. They will be the most expensive but upon close examination, you’ll understand why.

What’s the real difference between an A grade and a D grade? Remember back to elementary school and you’ll get the picture. Or read more about it here. 

I prefer to shop for my lapis lazuli gemstones in person as much as possible. Attending gems and bead shows or visiting rock shops is a must if you want to see, touch, and ask specific questions about the quality of the stones you are about to buy. Although when I shop in person, I invariably fall in love with the most expensive gemstones on the table.

Maybe next time I should take cash and leave my credit card at home.

As for the metaphysical properties of lapis lazuli, it’s energy is believed to enhance intuitive perception and psychic abilities. It opens the Third Eye chakra (Brow chakra). Lapis is also balances the Throat chakra, so wearing it as a necklace can help with truthfulness and communication. Learn more about chakras here.