Trends in Writing, The Arts, Regional Events, and High Desert Living

Posts by Patti

High Desert Hosts Its First Harmony Circle

Participants in the first harmony circle of Ellie Drake's 2015 Harmony Circle TourA group of women gathered in Victorville Saturday to meet with Braveheart Women’s Ellie Drake and participate in the first Harmony Circle of the 2015 Harmony Circle Tour.  According to event host, Donna Mass of Victorville, the purpose of  a Harmony Circle is to bring women together to connect in a better, deeper, and more meaningful way.  This deeper connection is the mission of Ellie Drake.  In fact, the mission statement of Braveheart Women is “To connect the Women of the world together in order to receive and give Inspiration in the areas of Self-Esteem, Empowerment, Purpose, Passion and Personal Prosperity while enhancing the world by being Brave Women who live from the Heart.”

The high desert's first harmony circle was hosted by Donna Mass

Saturday’s event began with the group of women introducing themselves and sharing one or two details about where they were in their lives at that moment.  Afterwards, Ms. Drake explained to the group about two very different hormones that are present in the body.  Oxytocin and Adrenaline.  Most of us have heard of Adrenaline, the hormone secreted by our bodies in conditions of stress which increases circulation, breathing, and prepares muscles for exertion.  This is referred to as the “flight or fight” hormone.  Ms. Drake described Oxytocin’s effect on the body as the exact opposite of adrenaline.


She further explained that, for men, the anxiety, and adrenaline rush that comes with it, actually helps to push them forward so that they can accomplish the task.  For women, however, this is not the case.  Women do not work at their best potential under a high stress, adrenaline filled, weight.  As a group, we were instructed how to do “Oxytocin Breathing”.  According to Drake, this type of breathing stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin and helps us to be more receptive to connecting with one another on a deeper level and helps us to move beyond our inclination toward mistrust.


The next component of our experience included a brief introduction to Dybo.  Dybo is a dance that stands for Dance Your Buts Off.  This does not refer to the butts on which you are sitting.  Instead, it refers to getting rid of the excuses that keep you from accomplishing all that is within your potential to achieve.  The Dybo process consists of 5 parts–recognizing, unraveling, releasing, restoring, and rejoicing.  It was high energy and very fun.

Finally, the afternoon concluded with the Harmony Circle where two concentric circles of women faced each other as the outer circle rotated slowly around the inner circle.  Afterwards, one participant stated that she hadn’t felt such a deep and sincere connection with other women in a very long time.  The whole experience was very different than what I had expected, but it was very educational and extremely worthwhile.  I look forward to the High Desert’s next Harmony Circle.

For more information about BraveHeart Women click here

For information about free Dybo Classes in your own home via Skype contact Donna Mass at (760) 308-0404

**Patti can also be found at where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

Women’s Escape to Catalina Writers’ Retreat

file0001149784476Several others have already weighed in with their opinion of the first women writers’ retreat.  What many of you may not know is the story of how this all came to fruition.  It started with a conversation between two members of the High Desert Branch of the California Writer’s Club.  They were discussing how other responsibilities often kept them from pursuing their true passion, writing.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could go away to an island where we could write without all of the distractions?” one of the women mused.

Apparently, one of them realized that it is possible to go away to an island, and the Escape to Catalina was conceived.

This women-only weekend was a truly unique experience because it was planned for each of the participants to also be one of the presenters.  There were five women, and this translated to 5 sessions that ran from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours long.  Each presenter was allowed to choose her own subject which, in retrospect, could have been a recipe for disaster with no one overseeing the overall plan.  Instead of a disaster, the instructional sessions, which included lots of writing, fit together nicely.  It came together so well, one would have thought much more time went into the overall organization.

The first evening was spent learning about the anatomy of a story and all of the components that need to be present in order for a story to come to life.  The second day’s first presentation was about character development and what was required to truly bring them to life on the page.  The instruction in creative non-fiction which followed helped us all realize that non-fiction writing didn’t have to be boring and technical as we learned how to write a recipe as creative non-fiction from the example of a grilled cheese sandwich recipe that was embedded in the description of the first time a future chef climbed onto a chair in her mother’s kitchen to make a sandwich.  A subsequent session spent on voice and style was time well spent because as writers, we need to find our own voice so that we will stand apart from other writers.  The conference closed with Blogging 101, which included excellent instruction about building and maketing your blog.

Between all of these sessions there was time to explore and/or write.    It’s been nearly a month since the return from our weekend retreat, and I am still carrying around the notebook full of notes and ideas that came together from that weekend.  In fact, I began the outline of my NaNoWriMo project during that weekend.  Perhaps it was the presence of  my local area’s NaNoWriMo coordinator that helped to propel me toward that goal.

I am very glad that I was able to escape with my fellow female writers to Santa Catalina Island.  It was time well spent, and I returned feeling refeshed and with my muse reawakened.  The real challenge will be to prevent it from slipping back into a coma now that we have returned to the demands and distractions of daily life.

**Patti  can also be found at where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

From One Magic Kingdom to Another


Arriving in Barstow. Photo By Jonathan Cobb

Arriving in Barstow. Photo By Jonathan Cobb

photo_1(1)Cobb family dinnerFriday Evening, I had the pleasure of meeting the Cobb Family.  They seem like a typical family,  but Jonathan and Jennifer Cobb along with their 3 children, Jonathan David, 12, Jenna, 10, and Jaxi, 3,  are doing something that is extraordinary.  They are walking from Disneyland to Disney World.  They aren’t taking a direct route, either.   I met them outside of Barstow as they were taking a dinner break from their walk.  I pointed out that they were not heading toward Disney World, but toward Las Vegas.  They laughed good naturedly and told me that they are taking a circuitous route that will take them through Las Vegas, Denver, Kansas, Dallas, Houston, Memphis, Birmingham, and finally to Orlando.  They will finish their walk at the Castle inside of Disney World after walking down Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom. You might wonder why a family of four would make a choice to do something so out of the ordinary.  They are doing it because of Julia.

Julia Cobb Memorial Photo

Julia Cobb, the Cobb’s third child, died on October 29, 2013 as a result of Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of rare bone cancer.  She was only 8 years old.  The family is making this walk to honor the memory of Julia, increase awareness of pediatric cancer, and hopefully earn some money which they intend to donate to  pediatric cancer centers in different parts of  the country which took part in Julia’s care. These hospitals include the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Last fall, eight year old Julia had undergone a stem cell transplant at St. Jude’s Hospital in Tennessee, but her cancer continued to spread.  St. Jude’s arranged for Make-a-Wish to provide the family with a week long trip to the Magic Kingdom of Disney World.  On the last day of the trip, Julia awoke with an unexplained fever.  She was take to Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, and that was where she “transitioned into Glory.”    Her family says that since Julia went from one Kingdom to the next, they decided to walk from one Magic Kingdom to another.

The family began walking on August 6, 2014, and they have already had some challenges on their trip.  Their sole chase vehicle required repairs, and they have sometimes had to walk without their chase vehicle due to trails that are impassible for their Suburban which they renamed ” the JuBurban”.  At this point, they walk as far as they can, pile into the chase vehicle, return to a Hotel for the night then go to the place where they stopped walking the night before, and start all over again.  The family is hoping that someone can donate an RV for them to use so that they don’t have to eat out and stay in Hotels all the time.

Through their website, they are hoping that teams can be organized to help get donations and walk with them on different parts of the route.   So far, Jonathan, a cancer survivor, has been doing most of the walking while the rest of the family serves as his support team.    When asked why they think they can do this, the family replies with Julia’s favorite scripture, Philippians 4:13, which says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”    Who could argue with that?

To sponsor the Cobb family on their journey,   visit the JuCan Foundation Website  to learn more about their needs for sponsorship.

To make a donation to the JuCan Foundation to support pediatric cancer research click here.  Their goal is to raise  $413,000.  The amount is a tribute to Julia’s favorite scripture mentioned above.

You can follow the family’s progress through their blog and on their Facebook page.

If you would like to meet this extraordinary family, they will be walking around Chili’s restaurant off the Lenwood Road exit in Barstow on Monday, September 8, 2014 at 6:00 pm.  They are hoping that people will turn out and walk with them around the restaurant.  If you can, head over to Chili’s and give some support this amazing family and their mission.


Patti can also be found at Patty Cake’s Pantry.


Is There No Integrity Among Bloggers?

file0001462552138The topic of this post has been rolling around in my mind for at least the last six months.  For those of you who don’t know me, I am a French lingerie model.  I am 5 feet 11 inches tall, and I weigh 120 pounds.  Because of my success as a model, I am independently wealthy, and I spend about six months of the year living on my Lürssen yacht.  For those of you who know me and are wondering what the &$@# I’m talking about, everything I just said was all a lie.  Of course, since it’s on the internet, it must be true.  Actually, I need to make a correction.  I should say that all of it was a lie except for the part about the topic of the post rolling around the back of my mind for the last six months.

It all started with the Daddy Long Legs who was hanging out on some equipment where I work.  I was vanquishing him with my hands because I had been raised to believe that they were beneficial spiders that would kill poisonous spiders and eat them.  In other words, Daddy Long Legs was a friend.    A co-worker immediately began freaking out because she believed that these spiders were poisonous.  I am by no means a spider expert, but I was certain that my mother would have mentioned to me the fact that they were poisonous if that were the case.  She treated black widows and brown recluse spiders in a very different way than she treated the daddy long legs.  I questioned my co-worker further and she stated that they were poisonous but that they couldn’t bite because of the position of their mouths.  If that was the case, I wondered why she was so freaked out.  Regardless, her opinion about the spider didn’t seem right to me.

When I got home, I did an internet search and discovered the following.  There were a bunch of blogs that solemnly proclaimed her opinion as  fact and to be true.  Some even stated that the venom of the daddy long legs spider was more toxic than the black widow.  When I went to University of California at Riverside’s website, though, I discovered the following.

  1. My mother was correct.  Daddy long legs is not poisonous.  He will eat other spiders and other bugs.
  2. My c0-worker was wrong.  Daddy long legs can bite.  His mouth is in the same position as the brown recluse and we have all heard that Mr. Brown Recluse is certainly capable of biting.  In fact. the bite of the Brown Recluse has been shown to result in tissue death which can result in serious infection.
  3. Some bloggers post anything they want on their websites without regard to the accuracy of the information they present.
  4. There are people like that girl from the State Farm commercial who believe that if it’s on the internet it must be true.

If you don’t believe me or the university, try the MythBusters segment that you can view by clicking here.  (If it’s on TV, it’s true, right?)

So, while I continued to ponder a post complaining about the lack of blog-tegrity (integrity among bloggers to ensure, at least, that their information is correct), life continued.  It was something that my son showed me on his Facebook page that finally spurred me into action.  What he presented to me was a link to the following headline:

HOBBY LOBBY STONES GAY EMPLOYEE TO DEATH.  (Click here to follow the link to the original article.)

As I read this article two things occurred to me.  There was no way this story was true, and it was going to go viral.  It did.  Within a day or two of publication, this article was spreading like wild fire.  Suddenly, many bloggers were weighing in with their opinion.  There were several blogs and internet sites that jumped onto the Hobby Lobby and Christian Bashing bandwagon.  I would link to the specific posts on these sites, but after reported that it was a false claim, many of these posts disappeared.    I was particulary horrified by the post that ranted about what people would say if it was a company owned by Muslims who started forcing their religious views on employees and executing women who didn’t wear hijabs or burqas.  Alas, the post is no more, so I can’t link to it.  All I get when I go there is a page not found message.

I am certain that there are many bloggers out there thanking God for the Move to Trash button on their blog sites.  Unlike the “famously incorrect Dewey Defeats Truman banner headline” published by the Chicago Tribune back in the glory days of print newspapers, bloggers can just erase those embarrassing mistakes.  Maybe that’s why no one bothers to ensure that their posts are accurate.  As I write this, there are still a few comment boards on sites and some Facebook comments that you can find, but largely, the moral outrage over the stoning death of the fictitious Hobby Lobby employee has dwindled.

There is no specific code of ethics for bloggers.  Journalistic integrity includes the expectation “that the journalist will  be as accurate as possible given the time allotted to story preparation and the space available, and to seek reliable sources.”   They also publish corrections when errors are made.  They don’t just move the whole thing to the trash and pretend it didn’t happen.  Perhaps, we, as bloggers,  need to establish our own code of ethics and standards of conduct.  Maybe someone already has, and no one bothers to adhere to it.

As bloggers, I believe that we have a certain amount of moral responsibility.  The things that we report should be as accurate as possible.  When I read that article with my outraged son, I did the following research before I allowed myself to become upset.  I checked to see if  Hobby Lobby had any stores in Arkansas.  I discovered that there were at least 7.  I checked to make sure that homicide was against the law in Arkansas, and I found out that it was.  I checked to see which, if any, of the stores were located in Wilson county, and discovered that there was no Wilson county in Arkansas.  Hmmm….I found two problems with the story–no one was arrested for homicide, and there was no Wilson county.     I was convinced that the story was a lie, but my son required further proof.  (He is young and not nearly as cynical as I am.)

I found the proof he needed on the same site as the original article.  If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, past all the comments, and whatever else there is, you will find a link that says ‘About”.  If you click on that link, you will find the following.

The Daily Currant is an English language online satirical newspaper that covers global politics, business, technology, entertainment, science, health and media. It is accessible from over 190 countries worldwide – now including South Sudan.

Our mission is to ridicule the timid ignorance which obstructs our progress, and promote intelligence – which presses forward.

Q. Are your news stories real?

A. No. Our stories are purely fictional. However they are meant to address real-world issues through satire and often refer and link to real events happening in the world

Everyone, calm down.  Put down the picket signs.  Cancel the boycott.   Hobby Lobby did NOT stone an employee to death.  What is my point in this post?  If you are a blogger, before you promote the spread of outrage based on fiction, check your facts.  Know your sources, and please, have some integrity.  Do your homework, and make sure you’re posting accurate information.  Don’t spread baseless rumors.  Granted, a controversial post can be good for boosting traffic and stimulating comments, but I believe that we should be providing information to help and enlighten people.  I don’t believe that my job as a blogger is to enrage people.  If you’re going to post satirical fiction, make sure it’s clear to your readers that’s what you do.  When you get an idea from someone else, give them credit with a link back to their site.  There’s enough web traffic to share.

 **Patti  can also be found at where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

A Simple Summer Picnic

Independence Day has arrived with it’s full regalia.  That means summer is well underway.    For me, Summer is all about planning outdoor adventures.  The warmer temperatures are all about hikes, camping trips, and picnics in the parks.  It doesn’t really matter what we’re doing as long as we are outside enjoying the great weather.

Of course, with summer temperatures that have been know to get as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, outdoor activities in the Mojave Desert can also pose a threat to your health and safety.  It’s important to ensure that you always carry  plenty of water  so that you will stay hydrated, apply sunscreen, wear sunglasses, and take a hat, scarf, or umbrella to provide yourself with some protection from the sun.   It’s also good to avoid exertion in the warmest part of the day.  For information about what you should have with you when hiking in the desert, visit the Bureau of Land Management’s site.

National Park Service has a fun PDF for teachers that you can down load and go over with your kids.  It includes information about desert wildlife and unit 3 is all about safety in the desert.   It’s 99 pages long, but you can read it on-line and only print out the pages that you need or want.  Personally, I’m a big kid, so I really like doing the kid activities, too.  Don’t tell my children.  They already think I’m strange.

I seem to have gotten off of my subject.   Today’s post is supposed to be about picnics.  Specifically, it’s about how to pack a simple picnic so that you can get outside and enjoy yourself without spending hours in the kitchen.  A picnic doesn’t have to be complicated.  It just has to be something that you and your family will enjoy.  With that in mind, here are a few simple suggestions for things that you can quickly pack into a small cooler and take to your local park or to one of our favorite places–Mojave Narrows Regional Park

One of the things we do in order to make it easy to pack up a quick picnic is to keep several bottles of water and boxes or pouches of juice in our freezer.  These help to keep the food from getting too hot.  A general rule of thumb is that picnic food shouldn’t be out for more than 2 hours, but if the weather is over 90 degrees, as it is most days here during the summer here in the high desert, that time is cut in half to one hour.  Keeping things chilled with frozen drinks will help diminish the risk of food born illness.  It also helps to ensure that you will have cool drinks later in the day.  Of course, you should try and keep your cooler out of the sun as much as possible.

Here’s my recipe for a quick and easy picnic.  Of course, you might have to make some adjustments based up on your families preferences.

First, grab something for dessert.  I know this sounds strange, but we are grabbing things and packing them.  What we eat last, should be on the bottom.  I prefer cookies, brownies, or some type of bars because they are pretty indestructible and they don’t melt.  Avoid things with frosting and pack them in a hard sided plastic container, so they won’t get crushed.

Second, grab some protein.  I prefer italian dry salami because until it’s open, most brands are shelf stable, meaning they don’t require refrigeration.   Likewise, hard cheeses make a good protein source as they hold up well without refrigeration.  You can find a list of some of these cheeses here.

Next, we toss in something to put the cheese and salami on.  Good choices are crackers, tortillas, pita bread, or even a baguette.  If you will be hiking with your food in an insulated backpack, the tortillas and pita bread might be a better choice, but the crackers can handle the trip if they are packed into a hard sided container.

Raw Vegetables such as carrots, celery, zucchini sticks and even sugar snap peas and stips of bell peppers go great with hummus or this zucchini dip.  Just be sure to take only as much dip as you think you’ll eat, and keep it chilled by packing it under those frozen drinks.    Both of these dips are great with crackers or pieces of bread, too.  Always be careful to keep your dip from getting hot and spoiling.  Putting it under the ice packs or frozen drinks works best because while heat rises, cold air descends.

We never take mayonnaise on our summer picnics because of the risk of spoilage.  Most of the time, we use mustard because it tolerates the heat better without spoiling.  If you must have mayonnaise  on your wrap or sandwich, try and take along some of the little packets you can get from the deli.  You can always take along some olives, pickle spears, chips, or even nuts to add variety to your menu.  It’s entirely up to you.

Toss in some fresh fruit.  You could even pack a personal watermelon, but my favorites are grapes, plums, and peaches.  They don’t require cutting and are very portable.

Make sure you snug your pre-chilled, and frozen drinks in around everything that you have packed into your cooler or insulated pack.  Take care not to crush anything fragile.  Remember that hard sided plastic containers can be your friend.  Just make sure they are BPA free.

Remember to put in a knife to cut the salami and cheese with.  I usually buy the pre-sliced salami, and take my cheese cutter for the cheese.  There’s less chance I will slice a hole in my soft sided cooler that way.   Plates, napkins, baby wipes, and hand sanitizer are all handy to have.   Don’t forget to pack plastic cups if you have a large bottle of  juice, wine, or homemade lemonade.

Packing a picnic doesn’t have to be complicated.   Get out there and enjoy the summer sun.

Other picnic ideas can be found here. 

**Patti  can also be found at where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll Out–Apple Valley Emergency Preparedness Fair

file000990621742As I was sitting down with an evening cup of of hot chocolate 0n Friday night, my house began to tremble around me as the light fixture above my table swayed back and forth and my windows rattled.  I, and my fellow High Desert residents, were experiencing, from a distance, the 5.1 magnitude earthquake that struck La Habra.  For those who have grown up in California,  earthquakes are nothing more than some inconvenient shaking.  For others, not accustomed to earthquakes, the shaking of the ground, produces some rattled nerves.  A displaced Midwesterner actually commented that she would rather have tornados because “at least you can see them coming.”  I’m not sure that there are “better” natural disasters, but I am sure of one thing.  If we are prepared to take care of ourselves in the aftermath of natural disasters, we can rest easier.

The American Red Cross encourages that “people should prepare now for the next disaster.”  When disaster strikes, it’s too late to prepare.   Being prepared is our best defense against disaster because if we are prepared, we can meet our immediate needs and the needs of our family in the event a disaster should strike.  Are you and your family prepared for a potential disaster?

On Saturday, April 12, 2014, the Annual Shake, Rattle, and Roll Out Apple Valley Emergency Preparedness Fair will be held from 9;00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at 15500 Tuscola Road in Apple Valley.  This annual event is free to attend, and it a truly a community based and community building event with presenters that include:

  • American Medical Response
  • Apple Valley Fire Protection District
  • Community Emergency Response Team
  • California Highway Patrol
  • Emergency Communication Services,
  • Lowes
  • Purofirst
  • San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department
  • Sheriff’s Posse Search and Rescue

At this year’s event, you can expreience the “BIG SHAKER” which allows people to feel what it’s like to ride out an 8.0 magnitude earthquake and see what couldh happen to an un secured household.    In addition, you can learn about:

  • First Aid and CPR
  • Fire Prevention
  • Outdoor Survival
  • Water Purification
  • Emergency Utilities
  • Disaster Restoration
  • Emergency Budgeting
  • Emergency Animal Care
  • Alternative Fuel Sources
  • Gardening and Food Storage
  • Dutch Oven and Solar Cooking
  • Using Social Media in an Emergency

This preparedness fair, which is hosted in conjunction with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is free to attend,  but everyone who attends is encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to benefit the Victor Valley Rescue Mission.

My family has attended on two previous occasions, so I can tell you that the event is  not only educational; it’s lots of fun, too.  Bring the whole family.  There will be fire trucks, police cars, puppet shows, and free hot dogs.  Come learn  how to be better prepared should “The Big One” strike.  I look forward to seeing you there.

If you aren’t able to attend the Emergency Preparedness Fair, check out the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “Are You Ready Guide?”  All of us should put together at least a basic disaster kit to have in our homes and our vehicles.

**Patti is a frequent contributor at, a website dedicated to helping people make healthy food choices.  It features recipes,  many of which are gluten and dairy free.  She can also be found at where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

The Big Deal About Gluten–Part 3, Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance

file0002014167620Over the past two weeks here at High Desert Blogging, we have asked “what’s the big deal about gluten?” and shared information about the most common gluten related illnesses.  This week, we will look at the sometimes surprising symptoms of gluten intolerance.

As previously discussed, gastrointestinal distress is often a symptom of gluten intolerance.  These symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloating,  nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even constipation.  These symptoms aren’t entirely unexpected when you have an allergy or an intolerance to something that you eat.

According to an article at Health.US , there are a many other symptoms which individually might not indicate a problem with gluten, but when they occur in combination, it should cause one to suspect gluten intolerance.

1.  Anemia:  Irritation of the gastrointestinal walls from gluten affects absorption of nutrients from food.

2.  Skin Rashes:  Extremely itchy skin rashes that appear on your face, hairline, torso, arms, elbows, or buttocks.

3.  Migraines:  Headaches can be symptoms of many medical problems.  When migraines are accompanied by daily diarrhea, a low iron count and a rash, it may point straight to gluten sensitivity.  Especially if your migraine starts one to two hours after eating a food that contains gluten.

4.  Joint pain:  Since gluten causes an auto-immune response in the body of those who are gluten sensitive, it may cause an inflammatory response in the body.  That inflammation will make itself known in various ways.  Joint pain is one of these ways.

5.  Lactose intolerance:  Because gluten compromises the stomach lining and affects the body’s  lactase, many people who are gluten sensitive are also lactose intolerant.

6.  Chronic Fatigue:  By itself, Chronic fatigue is not a strong indicator of gluten intolerance; however, when combined with frequent diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems, it may be related to gluten sensitivity.  Fatigue is sure to become a problem when the body is not absorbing essential nutrients and vitamins.

7.  Fibromyalgia:  The inflammation caused by the autoimmune response described in regards to joint pain can occur any where in the body, and there are some medical experts who believe that fibromyalgia is a symptom and not a disease.  Some people have reported that their fibromyalgia symptoms improved when they removed gluten from their diets.

There are other symptoms attributed to gluten intolerance which include brain fog, dizziness, and feeling off balance, as well as psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, and attention deficit disorder.  In addition, there are those who attribute hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS, or unexplained infertility to gluten sensitivity.

If you are interested in a Gluten Sensitivity Self Test, check out this one from the Dr. Oz Show.


**Patti is a frequent contributor at, a website dedicated to helping people make healthy food choices.  It features recipes,  many of which are gluten and dairy free.  She can also be found at where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

The Big Deal About Gluten–Part 2, Gluten Related Illnesses

file2021258087420Last week’s post on High Desert Blogging asked the question What’s the Big Deal About Gluten?  We are continuing this week with information about celiac disease as well as non celiac gluten sensitivity.  These are two health problems which are related to ingestion of gluten and are becoming increasingly prevalent in our society.

Celiac disease is a severe form of gluten intolerance with intestinal complications.  For many years, it was believed that celiac disease occurred in about 1 in 5,000 individuals in this country.  Some experts stated that the prevalence was as low as 1 in 10,000.  These statistics are proving to be far from accurate, and a new condition referred to as non celiac gluten sensitivity is being diagnosed with increasing frequency.

In a study published January 2000 in the Journal of Pediatrics, 1200 children aged 6 months to 20 years were screened with blood tests and, in some cases, small intestinal biopsy.  The researchers reported that the prevalence of celiac disease in these patients ranged from 1 in 57 to 1 in 33.  This is significantly higher than the 1 in 10,000 that the medical community had espoused for years.    As a result of this misconception about the prevalence of celiac disease and gluten intolerance, many people are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, or other conditions, when the actual culprit is the gluten in their diet.

Donna at Simply Healthy Eats was recently diagnosed with non celiac gluten sensitivity after months of experiencing troubling health concerns.  She feels that her condition should  probably be considered pre-celliac and strongly believes that if she had not heeded the instruction of the nutritionist working with her, she would have continued to experience deteriorating health and progressed to full blown celiac disease.   She also believes that our standard American diet of highly processed foods, many containing hidden gluten, may be behind the increased prevalence of the condition.

According to  Joseph Murray, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist,  celiac disease is becoming a public health issue, and he states that it is a disease that hides in plain sight. Studies show four times the incidence compared to 1950, with fatal complications if it goes untreated.  The Mayo Clinic has found a four times higher risk of death for people with undiagnosed gluten intolerance.

“Celiac disease was rare, but it’s now more common in all age groups,” Dr. Murray says. Although the cause remains unknown, celiac disease affects about one in 100 people.  He estimates, however, that approximately 83% of these people are either misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed.    Diagnosis is often complicated by the fact that in recent years, the condition has been found to cause a much wider array of symptoms that are not all gastrointestinal in nature.


 Next Week:   Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance–they may surprise you


**Patti is a frequent contributor at, a website dedicated to helping people make healthy food choices.  It features recipes,  many of which are gluten and dairy free.  She can also be found at where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.



What’s The Big Deal About Gluten?–Part 1

IMG_4241Everyone has seen it.  Products labeled “Gluten Free” are popping up in all of the stores in the high desert community.  These labels are on hamburger helper, cereals, frozen dinners and even on boxes of brownie mix.   Why should I care that a product is Gluten Free?  More importantly, what is gluten and why are all of these products suddenly telling me that they are free of it?  Is this just the latest fad diet?

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a mixture of two proteins that are found in cereal grains such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats.  These proteins give dough it’s elastic texture.    Without gluten, pizza dough wouldn’t be stretchy, bread wouldn’t be spongy, and many of our soups and sauces wouldn’t be thick.  So, if gluten does all of these wonderful things, why would anyone want to buy products without it?

Gluten Allergy or Sensitivity

Gluten is the major allergy producing protein present in wheat, spelt, rye, barley and oats.  In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of people who are being diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, intolerance, or  allergy.  For those people, the same adhesive properties that hold bread and cake together interfere with the breakdown and absorption of nutrients.  This includes the nutrients from other foods ingested during the same meal.  What results is a glued together and constipating lump in your intestine instead of an easily digested and nutritious meal.  This may cause symptoms like nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea or constipation. For those who develop  full blown celiac disease, the presence of the undigested gluten, may cause your immune system  to attack the lining of your small intestine..  As your small intestine becomes increasingly damaged,  it becomes less able to absorb nutrients such as  vitamin D, iron, and calcium.  This inability to absorb vital nutrients from your food can lead to medical conditions such as anemia, osteoporosis, and other health problems.

So there you have it.  That’s the big deal about gluten.

 Next Week:   Gluten Related Illnesses


**Patti is a frequent contributor at, a website dedicated to helping people make healthy food choices.  It features recipes,  many of which are gluten and dairy free.  She can also be found at where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

Freebies in the Desert–Part 3: Activities for Adults

file7811233877830The previous posts in this series have focused on some of the free activities that are available in our local branches of the San Bernardino County Library for children and teens, but the library has many activities for adults as well.  These activities are more than just the expected book club or guest lecture.  There are many opportunities for adults to have some fun, too.  The activities offered at our different library branches include craft classes, music lessons, as well as club meetings.  What follows are just a few of the activities for adults that are available at the library.

Adult Book Club:  Get together with a group of bibliophiles to read and discuss selected books.

Meeting Times:  Third Tuesday of each month at 4:00 p.m at the Apple Valley Branch Library, the second Tuesday of each month at 5:00 p.m at the Barstow Branch Library, the last Wednesday of each month at 5:00 p.m at the Lucerne Valley Library, and the third Tuesday of each month at 11:00 a.m. at the Phelan Memorial Library.

Adult Craft:  This is an opportunity to get together with other crafters and socialize while working on the latest craft project.  The projects change regularly, so you should check with the library to find out what the latest project is.

Meeting Times:  Mondays at 4:00 p.m. at the Hesperia Branch Library, the Adult Drop-In Craft at the Phelan Memorial Library is every day, all day, when the library is open.

Basic Computer Class: The class covers basics such as how to use the computer (keyboard, mouse, etc.) and introduces participants to word, excel, and how to use the internet and email.

Offered:  Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. at the Adelanto Branch Library, and Tuesday at 12:00p.m at the Lucerne Valley Branch Library.

Citizenship:  This class is held Saturday at 9:00 a.m. at the Adelanto Branch Library and provides information to those who are interested in becoming a US citizen.  This program covers the process of becoming a citizen as well as application help.  There will be some instruction in  U.S. history and civics along with testing tips and practice tests.   They even help with preparation for your citizenship interview.

Literacy Tutor Training:  This is where literacy volunteers go to get started.   For more information about adult literacy check out the post entitled “Learn to Read.”

Offered:  February 20, 2014 at 4:00 p.m at the Adelanto Branch Library and on February 22, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. at the Apple Valley Branch Library.

Music Lessons:  Every Saturday at 2:00pm, there are free music lessons in an introduction to orchestra at the Apple Valley Branch Library.  This group is open to people ages 4 to 104.

Threads:  This group focuses on needle crafting including knitting and crochet.  The group is there to help people improve their skill (or develop a skill), and they focus on both individual projects as well as group projects to donate to local charities.

Meeting Times:  The first Thursday and the fourth Saturday of the month at 10:00 a.m. at the Apple Valley Branch Library and  the fourth Monday of the Month at 12:30 p.m. at the Phelan Memorial Library.

Volunteer Orientation:  If you love to read, want to give back to your community or are just looking for something to do in your spare time, you can volunteer at your local library.  There are several volunteer orientations coming up over the next 30 days to help instruct volunteers on what their duties include.

Offered:  February 15, 2014, 10:00 a.m., at the Apple Valley Branch Library; February 15, 2014, 3:00p.m., at the Barstow Branch Library; and February 22, 2014, 11:00 a.m., at the Adelanto Branch Library. 

These are just a few of the adult activities available at your local Libraries, and they are all free.  Many of these programs are provided  through the generosity of volunteers.  Participating in activities in the places where we live helps us get to know our neighbors better and can help promote a sense of community.  Check out the San Bernardino County Library’s website to find out the latest courses and events that are available and join in the fun.

**Patti can also be found at where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

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