photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

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Oh Death, Where is thy Sting?

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My heart is shattered in a million pieces. I took a break from my blog because it started to seem like I was swimming in sorrow. I couldn’t catch a break from the heartache. I was waiting until something good or positive happened to write about, but the hard days just kept rolling in- like a bad sea.

You’d think six months have been long enough for the tide to turn, alas, it’s not in the cards. Since mid to late last year, my brother, John’s, cancer has grown progressively worse. He’s had cancer for almost the past decade, but only Josh and I knew. About 8 years ago, he lifted his shirt sleeve and showed me a round pit in the meat of his forearm. He could fit his entire thumb into the recess. I gasped and stated that he needed to get to the doctor ASAP. Unfortunately, he wasn’t much of a doctor-visiting kind of guy. He had no health insurance also, for the longest time. (Many years.) He confided in me that he had cancer (without having been formerly diagnosed) and I knew that he was right. He was always thin, but over these past few years he’d grown progressively thinner.

This past summer, he began having chronic pain in some of his organs and mistakenly thought it was his back, so he went to a chiropractor for treatment. Naturally, the treatment was unsuccessful. John was my best friend in the whole world. We were each other’s skin. I was his sister and his mother too. He was my everything. 😦

When he and I were kids, we made up two imaginary people called Mr. Zic and Mr. Zac. I have no idea why, but we would discuss them in full detail while jumping on our beds upstairs in our large home on Cherry Street. That kid followed me everywhere! Because our older siblings had their own friend groups, John and I were often left up to our own devices for entertainment. We were a mischievous duo!  We’d both sit on the seat of a 10 speed bicycle, with the kickstand keeping us upright, and when we counted to three, I’d kick the kickstand out from under us and we’d fall over with a loud crash and we’d just laugh and laugh. We thought it was the funniest thing.

He idolized me. (And told me that probably hundreds of times over the years. He told me I was his hero. I had taught him how to play the guitar and piano as well as taught him how to sing. He had no vibrato and it used to drive him bananas because he couldn’t vibrate his voice when he sang! I gave him singing lessons for a few years, off and on, and he became quite the singer. 🙂

I taught him how to draw, and shade his shadows and textures in with the pencil. he and I were virtually inseparable for our entire lives. I helped him get Medicaid (health insurance) last year as well as fought so he could receive SSI-Disability. I had just gotten him all set up with various organizations and he was only 3 weeks away from receiving his first disability check (he was set to receive $1,390 per month) when he grew worse than he’d ever been before.

On our last phone conversation, he had thanked me for helping him fight for his benefits, and he stated that he was basically retired, seeing how he’d be receiving financial support. he said, “I just need to keep myself alive and I’m basically retired!” He was so excited to have all of the stress and worry off of him. I was so happy for him too. It was rough sailing sometimes and it had been a very stressful 6 weeks, but I was so glad to be able to help him get set up with everything.

Our older siblings called John and I “The Little Ones”, and it was a title we relished and accepted with pride. It meant that we were in our own “secret club”, as we used to say, and nobody else was allowed in. Even as adults, we cherished one another with a special kind of love- rare even for siblings. That man owned my heart and he knew it.  We told each other we loved each other every time we talked. He was the apple of my eye…my baby brother.

My sweet, precious brother- my best friend in the whole world- passed on to the Other Side six days ago. Late Tuesday evening, on January 15th. I feel like I’ve been walking through a heavy mist since then. It’s all been so surreal. Nobody will ever take his place in my heart. I’ll always have a place that will never be filled with anything or anyone else. I’m going to miss harmonizing with him while singing “Seven Bridges Row”. It was “our thing”, as he finger-picked away on the acoustic guitar. We played Starrider (by Foreigner) at his Funeral/Home-Going, as was his request (per his son’s attestation).

I know he’s not suffering any more, and therein lies my comfort. He is with the Lord and our Dad, and my older sister, Cynthia, up in Heaven. I know he’s basking in Jesus’ Love and no longer walking in the Garden alone. And he’s saving me a seat. ❤

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

-I Corinthians 15: 55

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I had done everything I could to secure Life Insurance for my brother, to make sure his debts were paid and his children (and Mother) would be looked after when he was gone. Unfortunately, it fell through at the 11th hour and we discovered that his policy was useless: It broke my heart. I really do feel like he may have died an accidental death. He had had some complications shortly before he passed away, however, he seemed to be responding well to the chemo for a good bit there. Also, he had dropped 30 lbs. pretty quickly and looked like a virtual skeleton. There was literally no meat on his bones and his skin clung tightly to his ribs bones and clavicle. However, despite his state at the time, he’d been given a prognosis of at least another 1 to 2 years (of time left) with the help of chemo.

He was given two separate Fentanyl pain patches: One for 100 mcgms prhr (100 micrograms per hour) and 25 mcgms prhr  (so, 125 mcgms prhr- total) + he still took Oxycontin in pill form for breakthrough pain. If he weighed enough to withstand that amount of pain medication, that would be one thing. But I don’t think he had enough weight/volume/mass to hold up to the powerful drugs he was given. I truly believe he was over-medicated and the hospital and doctors will chalk it up to cancer (only). I’m still in school and i’m still working on my Master’s degree: In another year, I’ll graduate with my Master’ in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. It’s been a long road, but I’m well-educated in drug-speak, particularly pain meds. and the like, given today’s drug climate and the rate of overdoses in the united States. In other words, cancer patients are used to taking high doses of pain meds, understandably. And for the most part, that works well for them.

However, when their bodies are too frail and thin to withstand those high levels of pain medication (via a transdermal patch applied directly to their skin- lasting for 72 hours at a time), it is so easy to accidentally overdose. Due to their medical condition and diagnosis, no one bats an eye and it’s written off as “natural causes”, but in cases of overdose, it’s not a natural cause at all, but accidental death due to either overdose or adverse reaction (which are two different things altogether). Also, he had just been given a feeding tube a few weeks before he passed away and he seemed to be responding well; he’d told me that he’d gained 5 lbs.

He had had some trouble with acid reflux and his fluids becoming problematic somewhat, but the physicians were able to remedy the situation.  He seemed to be doing a bit better when virtually overnight, he developed a hoarse voice very quickly. He was gone several days later. The hoarse voice is another reason I think he may have been over-medicated. When an individual overdoses on opiates, they develop a hoarse voice. That’s one of the indicators of an overdose, as is constipation, nausea (and vomiting), all of which he exhibited in those last few days. All of it- when factored together- looks very much like a possible overdose via accidental over-medication. it happens more than people know. He would not have lasted a great deal longer regardless, but we all felt like he had at least 6 more months left, easily. My niece put it so lovingly when he did finally depart, “He slipped away in the night to be with the Lord.”

I’ve taken it upon myself to start a fundraiser/Gofundme Campaign to try and raise $10,000 for my brother’s burial/funeral costs. My family and I are not affluent and without donations, we have no idea how we will secure burial money for him. If you’re reading this and would like to contribute to my brother’s funeral costs, please do follow the link below and you can make a donation. I can’t thank you enough, and for those of you reading who may have already given something, thank you SO much- it means so much to my family and me.

John’s Gofundme: CLICK HERE ❤

Thanks again, and God bless. ❤


Smashed to Bits…Again

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So I’m here again. AGAIN.

You’d think I’d have learned the first 25 times. But no. I trusted again. Believed again. Gave him every chance in the world. But I’m not enough for him. And I’ll never be. He’s shown me that he’s just like Martin. Just like all the others. No matter how much love I give, and faithfulness I give to him, it’s not enough. He told me just 2 night ago; he’s “unfulfilled”, and he’s not happy. I reminded him that he’s spent the last 3 weeks working 6 days, back to back + he spends many hours on top of that driving or stuck in traffic. We barely see each other! We haven’t gone camping, or fishing, or out to dinner, or ANYTHING for many weeks. He’s put his job before us. Again. And again. And again. So yeah, I guess he IS “unfulfilled”. How does he think I feel? We had made plans to plant vegetables and start a garden, and replace our front door and just spend time together this weekend, doing fun stuff. And then the day before we were supposed to, he tells me that he has to work instead. But he didn’t even tell his boss about our plans! He just got railroaded. And he let it happen. No fights, no qualms, no nothing. Not even a whisper about our plans. NOTHING.

He’s got a dream to become a crew leader and be a big shot. Like that’ll “fulfill him”. Sure.

I just need to get all of this stuff off my chest. I’m so tired of him looking at porn. We’ve been through this a million times! I can’t allow myself to be anybody’s sloppy 2nds- especially to that. So he leaves me no choice but to barricade myself away from him. I have to protect what’s left of me.

He’s gone. Took his weed and flew the coop! My car is shot to hell at the moment so I’m carless- no way to get to the store- nada. The grass is severely overgrown. I have no way to mow it. He knows this.

I cried last night; I was lying on his shoulder and begged him to help me. To take this pain away. He gave it to me! A person shouldn’t break another person if they don’t have what it takes to fix them afterwards. It’s just so wrong. So I begged him to help me.

:Please. Just help me through this storm,” I begged him.

And he fell asleep on me.  10+ times. So I knew his heart was just GONE. What a selfish, SELFISH thing to do to somebody. So I got up and locked myself away here in the bedroom. Where I’ll probably be for the next 6 months.

They say time heals. They lie. Time just separates you from the pain. Sort of dulls it a little. But time doesn’t heal.

So here I am again. Clean slate. Smashed to bits.

Again.

 


Insta

So yep. I’m IG official! Short post, because I have so much schoolwork by my deadline tonight, but I wanted to leave this fingerprint here for my WP family & peeps of years gone by- for whoever may find this floating out in [cyber] space. So here ya go:

@birgittalindsey  <<< IG/Insta

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Au Voir! ❤


Fluffy, Not Fat

I feel…SO pregnant. My tubes were cut, tied, and burned 20+ years ago, and while it’s rare to conceive a child after all that, it does happen. I really do believe I’ve had a number of ectopic pregnancies in the past 5 years or so, given the evidence at the time. That’s not uncommon. Most ectopic pregnancies self-abort, and although it all happens without much incident, the emotions (of being pregnant) are very real and very much the same. I’m now caught in a semi-pseudo- (or not) preggers limbo of sorts- the kind that many women dread and for good reason. Home pregnancy tests (HPT) are negative while having every symptom of pregnancy known to man. The problem with this scenario is that the body is not yet producing enough HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) to result in a positive HPT, so the woman is left feeling as if it’s all in her head and the symptoms are merely phantom. It can really mess with the head.

And so the problem with this scenario is that she can truly be very pregnant, but her hormone levels are still too low to trigger a positive, and for whatever reason (mostly, if it’s eptopic), has a miscarriage, which is then perceived as a late period- just heavier than usual. So it’s its own little hell- all of it. I’m laid up on the couch with a heating pad on my lower right kidney; I can’t tell if it’s a bum kidney or a pulled muscle. Whatever it is hurts like the dickens. Also, I skipped my period last month, altogether, which never happens, and I haven’t had one this month either- but the HPT I just took read negative (of course!).

Because of my age (48), there’s a new uninvited guest who crashes this little party I’m having here and it’s called perimenopause.  Now, the hot flashes that I’m having (which are also a sign of early pregnancy) and sudden weight gain (ditto) aaaaand heart palpitations (yep, those too) can all be ticked off in either category, so that makes it super fun and mysterious!

And I swear I’ve been feeling little thuds deep within my being, very much like little kicks or movements which are not gas. Any fetus at this stage would be developing its CNS, so little shocks are flushing through its system, which accounts for the little jerks and thuds that are felt. I’ve waited 25 years to go back to school and begin my career. I put my kids first, always, and now it’s finally “my turn”.

Or is it?!

So I asked Josh to make me some mushroom rice last night. This is what he bright me:
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And some pics from our mushroom hunt the other day at Henryville Forestry/Clark State Forest, after the rain. Shot in monochrome/experimental high ISO (3200) f/18 using the Super Tak SMC f/4 50 MM vintage film lens.
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Until next time, WP. Back to “Behind Mansion Walls”.
And some random pics of my guy, Josh, over the years. My best friend and THE love of my life. ❤
(Cue romantic music)
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Another Day, Another Semester

Life has simply been whizzing by at the speed of sound, lately. Today, I started another semester and as much as I wanted to take it easy and take only one course, I took two (again). At the Master’s level, this is considered full-time. My undergrad. years were so much easier! I had tons to read each week, of course, and tests at the end of each week, but at least I didn’t have research to do (on this level) and the research papers never end; they really don’t.

I’ve spent the past week in bed, nursing a pulled muscle in my back. For some unknown reason I thought it’d be a good idea to touch my nose to my knees- like I did when I trained as a cross-country runner from ages 9-12. Um, not a great idea! I’m 48, not 28. 😉

Yesterday I had planned to stay in bed, healing my back, but in all honesty, I was all better. I just  wanted to stay in bed- I’m not going to lie! Josh challenged me to get out and grab some fresh shots, seeing how we were hit with a freak-blizzard on the 2nd official day of spring. So, I did, and came up with these:

Cemetery- Super TAk 50 MM f/4-film. Shot in monochrome. 8th street.
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IMG_0967Nothing new to add; just wanted to check in and leave a few words as a “time marker”. I miss my kids SO MUCH. Especially Brian. MAN I love that kid….I love them all, but he’s my only son. My kids own my heart and it hurts so much to let them go! But as a parent, life becomes a long succession of always letting them go. Again and again. You just have to work around it and make your happiness and peace with it, through it, and around it. Enjoy what love and laughter you have and appreciate the good times when they come. It’s taken me a long time to understand that pain is also a friend. Darkness and loneliness make the good times that much better.

oh. And speaking of bad times, perimenopause has me in its wretched teeth and has me sweating all throughout the day. It’s just God-awful. The hot flashes! 20 times per day. I swear, they are HORRIBLE. I just got out of the shower and I’m already drenched.

NOT FUN.

And here’s my 8 pic pano. of the cemetery that has absolutely nothing do with anything that I’m saying. Again- “time marker”. My blog is my little time capsule. I can tell where I was in my life (at whatever time) by the pics I take. I appreciate my ever-changing style too though, so this blog is a good way to track my growth and artistic evolution.

Until next time!

8 pic stitched-pano. Super-tak 50 MM f/4- film- cemetery- 8th. st.
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All-nighter

I’m quite sure that I enjoy pulling all-nighters because it’s the closest thing to getting high that I do these days. (For the record, I stopped smoking pot/getting high a decade ago. So these days, catching a natural sleep-deprived buzz is about all the “partying” that I do any more.) I do love my sleep, I really do, but there’s just something about romancing that space at the edge of dreams…walking in that head-space…that I really love. When coming upon the 28th hour or so without sleep, things start getting a little goofy and slap-happy. It’s so much easier to smile in that place. And smile I do. 🙂

It’s only been about 23 hours without sleep so far; not so bad, really. I know that if I were to come back to this post in a few years, I’d have no recollection of writing this (right now) at all. Well, now that I’ve pointed that out and have just retrieved those encoded thoughts from my episodic memory- I sort of screwed that up, haven’t I? Too late for that thought cluster. (At this point, I’m wondering just how much of this rubbish monologue that I’ll even be able to comprehend later on down the road.) My eyelids feel like they’re made of concrete, but I’m more rebellious than sleepy, so I’ll check back in a bit and see if I’m still making sense.

Things have been going SO well lately. My semester has just ended- I’ve added two more A’s to my grades- whew! I’ll be honest; I thought getting my Master’s degree was going to be a cake walk, I really did. But DANG if I don’t have to write 15 pages of APA-stuffed papers weekly. This is so writing intensive. Two more classes and I’ll have wrapped up my first year. I can hardly believe it! Time is just flying by.

My next two classes will be Substance Abuse Prevention and Neurobiology of Addiction. I’m going to absolutely devour the latter one. I’ve waited patiently for that class and am really excited about taking that one. I love most anything to do with neurobiology, but especially addiction issues.

Josh doesn’t work for Calvin any more. He’s worked for him (off and on) for 11 years. He realized that as long as he stayed with him there, he’d never advance and grow and blossom and all of that good stuff that he’s needed to do for the longest time. So he called another flooring company and it just so happened that the owner had a position on a small crew that had an immediate opening, and in fact, they needed another man. Right on the spot, Josh was offered a position with that company at $3 per hour more than what he was making with Calvin.  We couldn’t believe it! Proof that when God opens doors, He lets you know that it’s Him– without a doubt. He makes it so that all you have to do is simply walk through that open door. We complicate things, we humans- we really do. We put up fleeces and practically dare God. As if we’re challenging Him, or playing a game of some kind. But really, all we need to do is cry out to Him, seek His will in the matter, be willing to accept a “no” just as much as a “yes”, and wait patiently on Him.

God is the ultimate mathematician, and artist, and linguist, and everything else one can think of. We just need to trust Him.

So Josh and I are starting a brand, new chapter in our lives. We’re so excited! We’ll have a lot more money, and the fact that Josh is making decent money now means that I’ll be able to sock away some $$$ into my savings account without touching it. I can live with that. 😉

Well I can hear the sheep bleating over the hilltops; they’re coming for me!

I won’t fight ’em off this time…

ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz…….

Lensbaby Composer- Somewhere in the woodsWoods


Eating Good in the Hood

It’s raining non-stop out there. It’s supposed to continue raining all day, all day tomorrow, and then cease on Sunday. It’s already flooding downtown. Josh and I fell asleep to the soft pitter patter of the rain- it’s so soothing at night.

Our Vegan diet/lifestyle is going well still. We’ve been getting quite creative in the kitchen! Here are a few examples of our recent culinary creations:

Beer-battered, deep-fried, “Fish” Tacos (fish = tofu) with Pickled Red Onions and Chipotle mayo w/ cilantro and lime
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Homemade Veggie-sausage pizza with Parmesan and Mozzarella “cheeses”,  sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, scallions,  and shitake and portabella mushrooms
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And last night’s amaaazing Purple Cabbage, Carrots, Scallions, Portabella mushrooms, and veggie sausage egg rolls with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, chile oil, and sesame oil. THE BOMB.
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School is going well still. Much work to do over the next two weeks! Some videos I have to make as well- book reports, case studies to analyze- ugh. Work, work, work. But two weeks to go, and then I’ll be on my mid-semester break. Still deciding if I want to go full-time or part-time next semester.

I miss my kids. Terribly. I haven’t seen Brianna since Thanksgiving. She’s living somewhere in Louisville- that’s all I know. We were basically each other’s shadow when she lived here, so I respect her fierce privacy. I’m the same way. Just because my car is in the driveway doesn’t mean I’ll answer the door if you knock! I may watch you walk away while I peek out the window, wishing we could’ve chatted, but not really. We all have our little quirks- that’s mine.

I miss my Bri- Bri too. It seems like just yesterday that he and all of his friends were on the other side of the living room wall- drawing on the walls with magic markers after having a wee bit too much to drink. I’d make an extra round of supper and fill the plates with food and deliver them to him and his hungry friends. Man I miss that! It’s so quiet here now. All the kids are gone…and all the kids are grown- living their own lives and doing their own things. It’s so great, but so painful too sometimes. Ahh…but that’s part of life.

Suddenly, the house feels so much emptier…but the rain is like a cloak that covers me with a shroud of privacy. That’s probably why I love the rain the most. It slows the world down…

Pics from my walk a few days ago- before the rain. Test-driving the new Vivitar 70-210 3.5 SMC macro zoom film- KILLER LENS!

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Valentine’s Day- 2018

My love…YouandMeFB


Hard Day’s Night

Yesterday was a very long day, academically. I had two deadlines in two separate classes: Psychology of Addiction, and Addiction Counseling Theory and Practice. Combined, I wrote a total of 17 pages. I used to get stressed out when I put things off and scrambled to meet my deadlines, but now it’s just part of the game. It’s not impractical either, though it may seem like it. We’re living in a fast-paced, skiddishly-spinning world in which dealing with high-pressured situations are all par for the course. (Unless you live in a hut somewhere in Africa, of course.)  But in most peoples’ lives, rambling throughout the day and scrambling to get things done in a hurry is quite normal. I’ve just adapted to it nicely and I don’t really think that’s a bad thing.

I may be repeating myself, as I’ve pulled another all-nighter. The last thing I said to Josh (late last night) was, “Don’t worry. I’m going to sleep soon. I PROMISE.) Oopsy! I accidentally bought a new camera/Canon t3i and Vivitar Series 1 VMC 70-210mm f/3.5 MF lens to go with it instead.  (And a 2x converter) I am FREAKING STOKED!!! Capturing pics of razor-sharp owls in flight is a breeze with that lens and I cannot wait to take it out for a spin with the new camera to boot. I’ll have a 2 week break in between semesters (in a few more weeks) and I’m needing to start building up my inventory of pics that I’ll want to  start selling soon.

I’m not used to getting excited so much any more, and I’m really not wanting to blather on about Josh’s and my plant-based (mostly vegan) diet and lifestyle change, but really, ever since we made the switch (about a month ago), my mood has been ON POINT. 😉 I’m feeling good- chipper- light in the heels, and Josh and I do a good bit of laughing together. I guess you could say I’m happy. 🙂

Speaking of packages, I’m expecting one to be delivered any moment from Sincerely Nuts, and I have to make Josh’s protein shakes and his lunch, as he’ll be getting up soon for work.

Supper last night: Roasted beet and butternut squash salad with pan-fried tofu w/chile oil, sesame oil, and soy sauce + lemon, EVOO (extra Virgin Olive Oil), sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper a splash of “nooch” (nutritional yeast). and a nice chilled glass of Sunset Blush. It was….amazing.  Until next time. x

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Banana-Nut, Oat Flour Pancakes with Cacao Nibs and (real) Maple Syrup

I’m really not trying to be a lifestyle blogger. Josh and I just decided we wanted to take better care of ourselves, which meant converting to a 100% plant-based (Honey eating vegans, basically) diet. In the first month, Josh is down 25 lbs. and I’m down 8 or so. We women, I swear our battle (of the bulge) is always a little bit harder! We have the extra pounds on our love-handles. And, if you’re blessed with a whole lotta junk in your trunk (thanks to the Mama!) then it’s that much harder on top of everything else. My sister and I both inherited some serious junk in our trunks from our Mama! No complaints there. 😉

Anyway, it’s a lazy Sunday night, and I’m relaxing on the couch with my guy, our dogs and cats with the 55 inch ROKU wide screen + Netflix. I wish I could say that Josh and I love to work out, but alas- we hate to! I’d rather exercise naturally than feel like a hamster on a wheel, being reminded with every wheel-turn that you’re doing the work because you have to, not because you want to.  For that reason, I’d rather get exercise from LIFE itself: walking, hiking, doing photoshoots, and being outdoors and in nature.

Josh has been off of work for the past month; thankfully we had enough in our savings account that allowed us to live comfortably without him having to rush out and find another job. He’ll be going back to work next week so our little vacation is over. But it’s been fun. I really don’t have much to write or report. I just wanted to leave a digital thumbprint for references. Even if I don’t have much to say, I like to update now and then so that I can keep a timeline of emotions, pics, thoughts/ideas, and just a general idea of how life is at that point in time. So on that note, I’ll make my exit and leave a pic of these incredibly, ridiculously, healthy and deliciously addictive oat flour pancakes that Josh and I have been making for several days in a row.  Seriously, once you start, you’ll want them daily. I promise. I ripped the recipe elsewhere, but tweaked it to make it “my own”.

Banana-Nut, Oat Flour Pancakes with Cacao Nibs and (real) Maple Syrup
Super Tak 135/3.5 film lens
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Ingredients

2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 cups almond milk (we make our own)
2 cups oats- ground to powder/flour
2 teaspoons (leftover) almond pulp (optional)
2 ripe bananas
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons of vanilla flavoring
pinch of salt
sprinkle of cacao nibs- ground up
Several teaspoons of coconut oil (for cooking)
Real maple syrup

Directions

Mix the vinegar and almond milk together and set it aside for 5 minutes. Mix everything else up (except for the cacao nibs and 1 banana) in the blender, blend it up for a minute or so, and then add almond milk and vinegar mixture and blend again. (This is now your pancake batter.) That’s it- it’s that easy. Makes 8 mini pancakes. Top with sliced banana, real maple syrup, and crushed cacao nibs, and voila.

Daily factoid: Cacao nibs are a superfood, and they contain the highest levels of antioxidants than any other superfood, or food, for that matter.

Bon appetit!