A Heightened Sense of Reality?


If you would like to read something that makes you think outside of the box I would recommend Carlos Castaneda’s series of books.  I read the first book while I was doing my practicum in graduate school because I was trying to better understand a client I was seeing.  The client was referencing things in therapy related to spirituality that I had no experience with myself.  As a student counselor I was eager to have a successful therapeutic relationship and I read the first book in the week between our meetings.  After I read it the client told me I should have skipped the first book because it is so boring that it would turn you off of the series-which frustrated me at the time because I was trying my hardest as a new counselor.  I just finished reading the third book in the series-Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan and now I am glad I read the first book because it discusses the time period that takes place in the first book but were left out because at the time the author thought they were insignificant.

Castaneda’s books are about his spiritual exploration with his mentor Don Juan Matus who is a Yaqui Indian who he visits sporadically in Northern Mexico.  During his time with Don Juan he experiments with psychotropic drugs, explores the wilderness surrounding Don Juan’s home and encounters various entities.  In the beginning Castaneda’s intention was to learn about the Indian traditional use of plants for healing.  The relationship with Don Juan becomes much more than that.   At times in his journey Castaneda fears for his life and even after reading the books the first hand account seems hard to explain.  Castaneda comes across as a logical thinker who is experiencing the illogical and is desperately trying to explain and understand it.  Don Juan continually tries to get Castaneda to change this logical way of seeing the world.  Throughout all three books I was rooting for Castaneda to succeed in his quest to understand and perceive the still unknown.  Some people have criticized the books saying that they were actually a work of fiction.  Since finishing the books I can’t decide what my opinion about that is but I do know that I liked the way the books make me think outside of the box, and it is intriguing to me to think that there are people in the world that have a heightened sense of perception.  I also know that I will continue to read more books by Carlos Castaneda.


-Callie Ham

Equal Opportunity Celebrating

A really easy way to stay in the holiday spirit throughout the year is to decorate for more holidays.  I love Christmas and the festivities of decorating and celebrating.  The people in my life know that I can find any reason to celebrate and holidays are the perfect excuse. This year I am trying to stay in a festive mood throughout the year by decorating for each holiday or season.


The easiest and cheapest way I have thought of is to make a tablecloth for each holiday and switch them out throughout the year.  I started with Thanksgiving and I have fabric picked out through spring.


Yet, another reason why I love my sewing machine.  I am not limited to the choices at the store.  I can pick whatever fabric I want for my table clothes and the possibilities are endless. Another idea I have for decorating through the seasons is having seasonally inspired paintings that are changed throughout the year. But, more about that later.

-Callie Ham

Margo Crane – Practical or Barbaric?

Since moving to Washington I have joined a meetup group book club and last month we read Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell.  I was disappointed that more people didn’t enjoy the book as much as I did after leaving our meeting.  Or it possible that the people that did not enjoy it were much more outspoken than the people who did.  There were so many aspects of this book that I enjoyed.  The book tells the coming of age story of Margo Crane.  Margo is somewhat cold but likable because of her independence and unapologetic sexuality.



I found it easy to read because the plot continued to be interesting and hold my attention throughout the book; constantly changing and keeping you wondering what Margo would do next and how she would handle her situation.  I don’t want to give away too much so I won’t go into details.

I also liked the realistic and sometimes gruesome details of what it means to be a hunter and live off of the land.  One of the criticisms that most people agreed with was that it was unbelievable that the story could have taken place in recent past.  Although I have never hunted and in the past have not had a desire to do so, this book actually made me more open to the idea.  Margo gets herself into a situation where she is homeless and the only way she knows how to survive is to hunt various animals-deer, squirrels, etc.  Which does seem very barbaric, but when you think about it, it is also very practical.

What I liked most was the overall message that I got out of the book- that it is more important to live the way that you want to than to live the way other people or society tell you- even if the way you choose is to live outside, bath in a river, hunt and eat wild game.

-Callie Ham

Seize the Food!

Getting in a rut in the kitchen is a bummer, and it is easy to just cook the same things over and over, so I have a few ideas for changing up your cooking routine to keep things inventive in the kitchen.

1. Try something completely new that you have never cooked.  Here a few things that I have recently tried for the first time:

My in-laws gave my husband and me a paella pan for Christmas and we recently made our first paella.  Yummy!


I was cruising on pinterest and found a recipe for pickle soup and thought that would be a good thing to try.  I would cut down on the flour next time but it was yummy as is too.



I also recently made pretzels at home for the first time.


This is the recipe I used for the cheese:


And this is the recipe I used for the pretzels:


Pinterest can have bad recipes so I always read the comments to see if people are saying them before trying it myself.

2. Subscribe to a cooking magazine.   

My favorite is Cooks Illustrated and it is the most expensive out of the ones I get but every recipe I have tried from them, I love.  I also like Eating Well; it has healthy and easy recipes.  Bon Appétit is okay.  Sometimes none of the recipes sound interesting to me but I have definitely found some amazing recipes from them.   Sometimes you can even do a trial subscription for 6 months for a low amount.  I signed up to try Food & Wine for $6 for 6 months.

3. Go the library and check out a cookbook (or buy a new one).

I recently checked out a few cookbooks from the library and I think I am going to make it a habit because it forces me to try new recipes and I won’t break the bank either.

4. Watch cooking shows.

Sometimes I put food network on for background noise or while I run on the treadmill and get ideas for new food.

5. Get ideas from your favorite resturants.

Here is another way to save money and bring your favorite dishes to the comfort of your home.  Sometimes the chef even has their own cookbook or is willing to share some of their recipes with good customers.

There are literally endless possibilities when it comes to food so go out and seize the food people!

-Callie Ham