Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blueberry Vodka


Cam dreaming about drinking her fabulous cocktail on a bar patio, instead of inside a sports bar...

When good weather is warming the skin and blowing through ones hair, the need to be out and about with friends seems to grow inside. I swear, on nice days, the population in Chicago quadruples. Meeting for a drink, afterwork, at a bar with outdoor seating, has to be one of Chicagoans favorite events. Fresh air, a nice drink and fabulous conversation...what could be better? When my bestie from high school came to visit, she turned me onto a wonderful drink that seems to sing spring. The drink is simple...Stoli blueberry vodka, soda water, and a splash of lemonade....that is it (but adding fresh blueberries would be even better!)....simple, easy, delicious, and a great drink to enjoy with friends day or night.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Goji's and Chocolate



The pomegranate popped, the acai slid over. Now, Goji berries are the new 'yum yum' antioxidant fruit of the moment, and seem to be added in everything. An Asian berry that has been used for centuries, goji has been known to help common aliments, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Other berries have a lot of the same benefits, but goji's rank among the highest in every health category.

About a year ago,I joined into the antioxidant craze and purchased a big ol' bag...one big problem...I hated the taste. My tongue just could not enjoy their texture or flavor. I would take a bag of raisins any day!

That was until this week. While walking around the city with my fabulous friend Cameron, we happen to stop into Voges for a sample taste. She fell in love with the bacon chocolate bars, but my interest landed on the chocolate goji bar! Chocolate would be the one magnificent element that would make goji's delicious. Instead of buying a bar, I decided to go home and make some chocolatey treats myself. The next day, I took out the pound of dark, organic chocolate a friend gave me, and broke off a chunk. Next, I melted it down, and stirred in a handful of my dried goji berries. Dropping them into clusters on a plate, I put them in the fridge to cool. Once cooled, I tried them, and the verdict is...delicious! And made in perfect time for a friends birthday.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Words



A word is a bridge between myself and another - Mikhail Bakhtin

Words. Language. Communication. What we say has an immense and insurmountable power on our perception and interpretation of life. Years ago, I found this quote, and it resonated in my communication-major heart. How do we bridge the gap between knowledge and information? With words. How do we express our inner emotions and imagination? With words. Most of the time I use to many. Say too many...too quickly. If we all could take a minute to remember the power our rhetoric has on others and ourselves, the world would have less fighting, and more loving. Using our words to spread more love...that is a fabulous idea.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Better Shopper



When you are in the store, and about to pick up a needed product, do you ever stop and wonder just where that product came from? How many hands worked on it? Were the people treated fairly, and paid a socially responsible wage? Were the factories sanitary? Were any animals injured in the development of this product? Is the company environmentally responsible? What impact does this company and this product have on the earth? Does the price tag honesty depict how much work went into the product?
These are just some of the questions that run through my head while I am shopping. Inside of me (and I'm sure you as well) I want to do good. I want to buy good. I want to support good. A couple years ago, I learned about a website called, betterworldshopper.com. The people who created it asked themselves the same questions I did, but could not find a place for answers. So, they did something about it, and researched major avenues of supply and demand, to come up with their findings. If I know I am going to buy something, I would like that product to have the smallest footprint on this earth as possible. Personally, I feel better buying products from good companies. Check out your favorite products, and see what grade they receive!

Note* A lot of small and new companies have not made it through their data yet, So do the research on your own! Being an informed shopper, gives you and your money a lot more power.


www.betterworldshopper.com

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Coffee Shops


I spend a lot of time at the coffee shop down the street from my apartment. As I attempt focusing attention on my work, I often cannot help getting side tracked by the conversations that fill the air. Some of them are interesting, happy and sad. Some of them are just plan lame. Take for instance, the Eastern European men that swarm the middle of the coffee house. They spend 1/3 of their time yelling at each other, 1/3 laughing with each other, and the last 1/3 scoping out the shop for pretty women. As they attempt to get my attention, I attempt to look really busy, giving them no reason to wander over to my corner. Their gawking used to drive me crazy.... but today that changed.
Like any other day, they all stopped talking as I walked by their table, but today, instead of ignoring them, I gave them a big smile. Immediately, they all smiled back, and one man uttered a simple word. He said "beautiful". Was it me, my smile, or the act of acknowledgment that was beautiful? Whatever was meant does not really matter. What matters, is that the word made me feel good. Good because I decided to interpret it in a positive way. I could just see my best friend Cae shooting daggers out of her eyes at them. She tells me all the time that my kindness will get me in trouble. Sometimes she is absolutely right, but other times she is wrong. The truth is, these men are causing no harm. Though, they may be blatant with their gaze, they are far from the only one's who are searching for companions. Some people use a coffee shop as a meeting ground, others come in with company, but many come alone. I watch eyes search from behind computer screens and over the tops of books and newspapers. People searching for that special person, that might just be gazing back. When two people make that eye contact, the same scene seems to ensue; they smile at each other a couple of times, and one person usually gets the courage to walk by and ask what the other is reading or working on. They talk for awhile, and, if the chemistry is right, they exchange numbers or emails. If the chemistry is wrong, they go their separate ways. So many beings walk this earth, pursuing all types of lifestyles. No matter what kind of life one lives, the need for love and companionship is almost always desired. We want to share our story...we want to be in loving company. We want love. So maybe the next time you are somewhere, and you see another looking at you..smile back. You may not be looking for their love, but kind encouragement is the simplest gesture of human kindness.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Best Friends


Strange how the bigger the city we live in, the lonelier one can feel. To my dearest friends who have left, and those who are getting ready to leave...I love and miss you... Chicago is not the same city without you.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Drinking Ginger



Sometimes we over-book ourselves in life. We spend our days zooming around at a sprinters pace, when we have a marathon to run. As a society, we wonder why we have such a hard time maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but the answer has always been simple. We need to take the time to care. I have been bad. For one too many days now, sugar has been guest starring in my diet. Now, my teeth ache when I even think about a cookie. Thank the lordy lord my girl scout cookies are almost gone (phew!). Today I have decided to stop in my tracks, take a deep breath and a sweeping inventory of my life, and curb my problem behaviors right this second. Before I can do such a task, I need to calm my nerves. Meditation is a must, but to give my chances of clarity a head start, I will sip on a warm drink that will help to relax, rewind, and rejuvenate. I made it a couple of days ago, and am steeping it again as I write. I call it warm ginger lemon.

Warm Ginger Lemon

-Fresh ginger
-1/4 of a lemon
-Hot water
-Honey
-Favorite mug

Peel and chop a piece of fresh ginger. For one cup, you will need about an acorn sized piece.
Boil water. Pour in a mug with the ginger and steep for around five minutes. Strain into another mug to get the ginger pieces out and squeeze 1/4 of a lemons juice into the ginger water. Add desired amount of honey and enjoy!

Ginger is very helpful for your gastrointestinal track, alleviating and soothing stomach cramping. While enjoying this delicious drink, do nothing more but relax with the silence of your soul. Enjoy this time...enjoy this drink.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hanging Gardens




I love living in a city, but I want a garden so badly, I can almost taste the juices from tomatoes and heat from my someday jalapenos. For now, I am going to have to settle on what fits into my shoebox of an apartment. Woolly Pocket breathable herb planters are my solution. Made out of recycled plastic, these hanging herb gardens are perfect for anyone who wants to explore the culinary world of herbs, without the high price tag and waste of plastic containers. Because I want an indoor version, my heart landed on the pocket called "Wally". Having so many herbs at my side in the kitchen leads for fabulous and creative adventures! Previously, I always worried about how to keep my herbs fresh..now, all I need is a sunny spot and some loving water to nurture their little, living, herb souls.

http://www.woollypocket.com/

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cast-Iron Skillets



Last night, I started to read Martha Stewarts Cooking School; Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook. She says that her book is meant to be utilized as a college course & should help lay a strong foundation for one's culinary career. From the shear size of her book, one can see immediately that this is meant to be a culinary master class, and not for the faint of heart. I have decided to take on her challenge, and learn everything her 503 page book has to teach me. Right now, I am on page 5 and already have ran into a little bump. You see, her basic equipment page says that a real cook needs a cast-iron skillet. My family never owned a cast-iron skillet, and I think I am a real cook. So why does Martha categorize it as a culinary necessity? My knowledge on cast-iron is very limited, but hers is vast. I wanted to share with you what Martha (well, her book)shared with me!

Martha's Reason For Cast-Iron Skillet

- Iron retains heat and distributes it evenly, making cast-iron perfect for searing, baking and sauteing.
- When ready to purchase, look for a pan that is an eighth of an inch think. New pans are pretty raw and gray looking. They turn black once seasoned.
-One needs to season their pan before they use it! This will prevent rusting and will create a non-stick surface.
-Never clean cast-iron in a dishwasher. To clean, sprinkle with coarse salt, rub with paper towels and wipe clean. If you really want a deep clean, rinse in hot water and use a scrubber. Dry completely with a kitchen towel, and rub with a bit of vegetable oil before storing.
- Avoid cooking anything acidic, such as wine or tomato sauce. It can cause the patina to be worn off....and Martha says that is no good.

Seasoning a Cast-Iron Skillet

- Rub the skillet evenly (inside and out) with vegetable oil.
- Place the skillet in a 300 degree oven for one full hour.

Cultural Ways of Eating



My good friend Brittany called last week in between adventures in New Zealand. Fortunately, she will be living and working in this beautiful country for the good rest of the year. As I asked about daily life, I once again poke and prod her about the food she is consuming. A tinge of irritation flows through her voice as she answers me yet again with the same response, "really Jules, there is nothing different here than what we are used to. New Zealand is not known for food." Disappointed in her boring and detail-lacking response, I hold back my unanswered food questions as she goes on to tell me about a family mac & cheese recipe she is making for her new friends. I realize my interest in food is not shared by the majority of the population, but I have a feeling she is dodging my question for a reason. During my own traveling adventures, I spent most of my time wondering about the next majestic meal. As I wandered in Prague, I fell in love with their fried cheese. Bologna's pizza made my heart skip a beat. But it was France that really won my heart. Above is a picture I took in a downtown grocery store. It is a wall of jarred animal fat!!!! Holy cow, did they know how to enjoy simple flavor. For a full week, I lived on croissants, wine, baguettes, nutella filled crepes, lox, and cappuccino's. By the time I got home, the only thing that fit over my expanded derriere, were moo-moo's and s stretchy pair of leggings. Maybe it was the wine, or the cappuccino's that altered my self restraint, but I have concluded France for foreigners to be a diets worst nightmare. The next question that is always asked: Why are they all so darn thin? I read a book by a French women, who explained why the French stay in tip top shape. The secret is mental. Their mentality is 'never having to gorge, because one can always have it again whenever they want it.'...hmmm, must be nice.
For those that cannot have french croissants at their beck and call, fill their bellies close to rupture. When I arrived back to reality, my real love for vegetables came swinging back to me, and I shed the lingering croissant fat. As it was not pleasant to expand so quickly, I never regretted a single bite. Not because it was all so delicious (thought, that is a plus), but because of the lessons I learned along the way. Our mental state has so much to do with how and what we consume. Mental patterns drive what goes into our mouths. The convenience factor is a big pull for Western civilization, but, just because we have the option, does not mean we should choose it. Yes, it is true we will be far from starvation if we do not bring meals with us from home. Time is what we are trying to save. I promise you, if we all took the time to eat healthy and whole now, all we will have is time. We will be alive, and our quality of life will be fabulous. We will spend less time in the hospital, and more time with our family and friends. Lets take a lesson from the French, and remember we are part of the very fortunate who have the ability to eat yummy food again and again. Mother Nature works very hard for the food she creates, and we should respect it. Motto to live by: Believe in the power of simplicity, and never eat food with ingredients a fourth grader cannot pronounce.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patty's Day


Oh, St. Patty's day is here. In my hometown of Cleveland, Patty's day seemed to be bigger than Christmas. Families come together for Irish breakfast in the morning, and party through the day. Dance, drink, food, and music help set the mood. Bagpipes fill the air, Irish dancers stomp the floor, and the luck of the Irish becomes clear. If for nothing else, the Irish are lucky for their strength. As a people, they have endured hardships galore, but still have more love to share with their family and friends. I love being Irish. Even more, I love that everyone gets to be Irish one day out of the year!

Some Fun Facts

The Celebration
Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional St. Patrick's Day dish. In 2007, roughly 41.5 billion pounds of U.S. beef and 2.6 billion pounds of U.S. cabbage were sold. Many St. Patrick's Day celebrants enjoyed corned beef from Texas, which produced 6.8 billion pounds of beef, and cabbage from California and New York, which produced 581 and 580 million pounds, respectively.
Irish soda bread gets its name and distinctive character from the use of baking soda rather than yeast as a leavening agent.
Lime green chrysanthemums are often requested for St. Patrick's Day parades and celebrations.

Population Distribution of Irish Americans
There are 36.5 million U.S. residents with Irish roots. This number is almost nine times the population of Ireland itself (more than four million).
Irish is the nation's second most frequently reported ancestry, ranking behind German.
Across the country, 12 percent of residents lay claim to Irish ancestry. That number doubles to 24 percent in the state of Massachusetts.
Irish is the most common ancestry in 54 U.S. counties, of which 44 are in the Northeast. Middlesex County in Massachusetts tops the list with 348,978 Irish Americans, followed by Norfolk County, MA, which has 203,285.
Irish ranks among the top five ancestries in every state except Hawaii and New Mexico. It is the leading ancestry group in Delaware, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
A total of 4.8 million immigrants from Ireland have been admitted to the United States for lawful permanent residence since 1820, the earliest year for which official records exist. Only Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Mexico have accounted for more U.S. immigrants.

Facts from www.history.com

Monday, March 15, 2010

Vitamin E



My mother would always laugh when she told the story of my father sticking olives into my brother's mouth. In return, he would twist his face into a sour disposition, and projectile the olive across the room. I do not know what the best part was for my mother. Maybe she felt vindicated by the fact that her son shared the same distain for olives, or she may just enjoy his funny faces. Either way, olives never seemed to grace our kitchen after this event. Growing up, my culinary disposition strayed farther and farther from Mom's "cooking". By college, my best friend Cae and I were trying the foods our parents couldn't stand. Immediately, I took to eggplant and she fell in love with banana's, but olives were still a salty mess in my mouth. That was until this year. I decided to try them once again, and cannot get enough! As always, when I start to eat something new, I take the time to do my research on it's nutritional impact. Did you know that olives are a great source for vitamin E? This was music to my cute little ears. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects against heart disease, cancer and other aging issues! Other great foods to find this vitamin in are oats, avocados, almonds, sunflower seeds and hazelnuts. Vitamin E is something I cannot seem to get enough of these days. Olive oil has always been a staple in my diet, but adding olives is an extra treat for me. Including any of these delicious goodies to a salad or dish is an easy way to boast your intake of antioxidants and Vitamin E.

Footsie


After college, I had many ideas about my future state in this world. After months and months of mulling my options around in my head and heart, I have left but a few to pursue. One of my in-between career dreams is to become a foot model. Yes, a foot model. Thanks to my mother's good-feet genes, I was born with little, narrow, high arching feet. My toes are in good shape and my toenails are very well maintained. further, my ankles are very dainty, enhancing the over all foot package. My dear friend Tasya is an amateur photographer, and has dutifully taken on the task of humoring my dream. Last night, we talked about my foot photo shoot, and she has wonderful ideas for me. I think this is actually going to go somewhere! If nothing else, I can use the pictures for next years christmas cards. I woke up this morning determined to get my feet out of winters hibernation. Secrets of Gorgeous, by Esther Blum, has a wonderful sugar scrub that is painless to make. When sugar is used in scrub form, it dissolves and turns into a serum base. This becomes glycolic acid, which is a fabulous exfoliant for skin. Keep the sugar on the outside, and your all good!

Footsie Sugar Scrub

1/4 - 1/2 Cup of sugar
1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (can use more or less if desired)
2 Drops lavender essential oil, or any other essential oil you have and want to use

- Place sugar into a tupperware and add in the EVOO. You may want more of less, depending on what consistency you enjoy.
- Add in your essential oil, stir the mixture around to incorporate oil.
- The mixture is done! Use with a pumice to scrub, scrub, scrub your problem spots!
- The mixture will turn into a serum/ glycolic acid. When finished, Rinse well and dab dry. If desired, use a nice lotion for extra moisture.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Forgiveness





"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds,
on the heal that has crushed it." -Unknown


Last night, I opened up a journal of mine and this quote popped out at me. It stopped my mind mid-thought and tugged a bit on my heart strings. I love it's depth and strength. I remember when I found it, and how these words cleared up the confusion in my heart. Hope they can help you as well.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In Season Now



Why is it that the American grocery stores do not believe in SEASONS anymore? In our fast, convenient hungry society, we have demanded all produce year round. This seems fine, until you actually take a bite of that tomato bought in mid January. Tasting more like the plastic tomatoes in my childhood play-school kitchen than the actual veggie, it sits in the refrigerator rotting, rotting away. And at least it does actually rot, because most "food" that can be found in American grocery stores are chalk full of preservatives, giving it a life span longer than our own. I wish we could all take a little bit of time out of our crazy lives and pay attention to what we are putting in our cart. In the end, it is our bodies, our vitality, and our taste-buds that suffer. Here are some great tools to use when looking for what is in season and how we can eat as local as possible. Lets use our money and our forks to push a much needed food revolution. Everyone eats, so every person makes a difference. If you start, maybe you can inform others, and that is how sustaining trends last. You have more power than you think. Use it.

To check out what is local and fresh around your neighborhood:

http://www.sustainabletable.org/shop/eatseasonal/

Season produce guide:

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/seasonalingredientmap

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rain Away


"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...it's about learning how to dance in the rain!" -Vivian Greene

Rain is here in the Midwest. It comes to wash away winters accumulated soot...washing away the dull and drab. Rain comes with warmth and light only a footstep behind. Rainy days have always been my absolute favorite. As a young girl, I remember laying in bed, listening to the music of raindrops landing, trying to hum along to their beautiful beat. Rain; comforting my soul in inexplicable ways. This makes me think about Mother Nature's great wisdom surrounding us. She shows us how simple it is to cleanse ourselves from resentment, sadness, frustration,fear, anger, and anything we may be holding onto. As the rain falls all around us, so too should we let it fall in our hearts. Let the rain wash away the negative, and you will be surprised how quickly you will be filled with positive. As she has proven time and time again, warmth and light are always a footstep away.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Girl Scout Cookie Craze


What is it about girls scout cookies that make people crazy? Do we order them in massive quantities because they are unattainable to us, all but once a year? Do they bring back childhood memories, making you nostalgic with every thin-minty bite? Or is it because they are really the best tasting cookies in the whole wide world? I have to say, my sister sent me a care package yesterday with homemade chocolate chip cookies, that blow the trefoils I am snacking on now, out of cookie water. For some reason this year, I decided to order five boxes of cookies. Now, what in the world am I going to do with all of these cookies? Eat them..I know... Immediately, I stuck all but two boxes in the freezer, in between the butter and frozen salmon. My Hope is that I will magically forget about their existence. Yea...right. I never buy cookies, so why do I feel the need to order every year from those darn scouts? I think we do it because of the tradition. They may not really be the best cookies in the world, but everyone has an absolute favorite type. They are good enough to come back for more. As a former girl scout, I remember walking door to door with an order form and a big smile. This was my first real adventure into the world of sales. I would never in a million years walk into a grocery store and plop five boxes of cookies into my cart, but ordering from a cute little girl scout keeps one feeling anthropic. The guilt sets in later when you eat a whole sleeve by yourself... all in one sitting. Quickly realizing, they are still, sugar filled, and covered, cookies. Lesson learned: girl scout cookies are still bad for you, no matter how great the cause is behind them. As I look at one of my boxes, I read the three words in bold yellow writing. Courage, Confidence, Character. I hope that is what those girls are getting out of their cookie sales experience. As the consumer, all I have is an upset stomach.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Doggy's Bad Hair Day


Just because I own scissors, does not mean I need to use them, or know how to use them. I decided to groom Ballou this weekend, and mayhem broke out in my apartment. It started off fabulous, but soon became a hairy disaster. Her beautiful coat was maimed by the one who loves her the most. How could I do this to poor Ballou? What made me turn my beautiful doggy into a naked mole rat impostor? I am blaming it on my frugal ways. Some things in life are worth spending money on, and now I know Ballou's grooming is one of them. Frantically, I called every groomer in all of Chicago. Sure enough, every groomer was completely booked, so I walked down the street to the nearest dog boutique and begged them to fit her in asap. After one look at Ballou, they decided to double book her with another dog at 3 o'clock the next day. Finally, the time came! When I dropped her off, they told me that they would do the best they could. When I picked her up, the groomer looked at me, and said "I tried"... Fifty dollars and one traumatized dog later, she looked the absolute same, but now was furious with me. Great, I not only butchered my animal, but I got her to hate me as well. Right now, I did not like myself either. I spent the rest of my Sunday trying to make it up to her. Thankfully, I decided to cut her hair and not my own. As I sat with a friend on Sunday night, laughing at my poor dogs terrible predicament, I realized the importance of learning from our mistakes, not matter how big, small, or expensive. I have laughed and cried over this mistake, but in the end, no real harm was done. I survived my fair share of poor hair cut choices by my mother. Everyone has. I lived through matching mullets with my brother, and bowl cuts that should have never come into existence. Ballou will survive, and so will my damaged ego. Sure, I get some strange looks while I walk Ballou down the street, but she does not mind, so why should I?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Souping It Up


Spring is on the horizon, but winters touch still lingers in the air and on the ground. It is as if Mother Nature is teasing us. She makes the sun shine brighter, but leaves the cold wind chapping our cheeks and hands. There is still no better comfort than a warm cup of soup to take away winters remaining nip. I found this recipe months ago in a magazine, and left it displayed on my kitchen board, waiting to be made. This weekend I am going to finally make it, and would love to share it with all of you! An easy recipe with simple, fresh ingredients. Take the time to warm your heart, better yet, share with a friend and warm their heart as well.

A Winter Bean Soup
Serves 6-8

3- 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drain and rinsed
6 -cups chicken, vegetable stock or water
2- cloves garlic, sliced
2- tablespoons, extra-virgin live oil
1 -medium onion, chopped in a medium dice
2 -ribs celery, chopped in a medium dice
4 -ripe tomatoes, cut into small pieces
1- teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1/4- cup fresh parsely, roughly chopped
1 -cup Parmesan cheese, grated

-Place beans, stock, and garlic in a large pot on the stove. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and continue cooking for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
-Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is warm add the olive oil and saute the onion and celery for 5 to 6 minutes until soft and translucent. Next, add the tomatoes and salt and continue to cook another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the vegetable mixture and parsley to beans. Cook another 15 minutes or so to meld flavors together. Serve with Parmesan cheese.
+toast some nice bread for dipping!

Recipe from The Family Chief, By: Jewel and Jill Elmore

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dreaming of Classics


Last night, I dreamt I was in a library, filled to the ceiling with classic books. The only way I could leave the library, was to finish every single book. When I woke, this dream seemed to stick in my mind as I went about my morning. I tried to find the deeper meaning, but could not formulate a clear opinion on what this dream was supposed to tell me. For some, this would be a nightmare dilemma, for others, a fantasy. After breakfast, I finally went to my book collection and pulled out The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Dreams are not supposed to be taken as literal, but refreshing my brain on twentieth-century literature can not hurt me. The best seller list seems to dictate what is worth reading, but what happens to the books that never make the list? What happens to the classics that sit with dust covered bindings? Maybe my dream was a metaphor for life. As we chase all that is new, enhanced and shiny, do we loose sight of the old, reliable, and tested? As time changes, what is valued evolves as well. Now is the time to take inventory on what we want to help shape our lives. What materials from this Earth will we use to help us create our future? I do not think I will stop reading what is on the best sellers list, for I cannot always live in the past, but I can take turns with new and old...respect the beauty, wisdom and knowledge in both.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Letting Go



Letting go...when is it ever a good time for me to donate my pencil collection that has been with me since kindergarden? Or those oversized pillows my mother gave to my brother and I, so that we could sit comfortably on Sunday mornings, watching cartoons and eating breakfast? I know I am bad...really bad at purging, but I blame it on my incredible memory. If I did not remember so many details from my past, maybe items would not evoke such strong emotions. On my bed sits a stuffed little lamb that a family friend I love dearly gave me in high school, when I was having a scary surgery on my wrist. It was meant to make me laugh, because she called me her lambie love. Now, why on Earth do I still feel the need to keep that lamb on my bed? Do I really want to remember that surgery? No. I keep it on my bed because, when I see it, I remember how much love I felt in that moment. She took the time to give me a break from my pain. A small gift to make me laugh, to remind me I am loved. I am afraid to give that lamb away. I am afraid to forget. Items from our past are snapshots we bring with us to our future. Maybe I am not ready to get rid of my little lamb, but I can do my best with other items. In college, my best friend finally had enough with my ridiculous wardrobe, and practically forced me to get rid of any clothing that I had in my teens. I was not very happy at the time, but I realized later how great it felt to let the clothing go. I needed her rationality..her cold, honest, detached truth. If I really want to live as simply as I preach, it is time for me to value my past as my past, and know the future holds more beauty and love. No matter what happens to those pillows, I know my Mom still cares for me, and if Ballou happens to eat lambie, my dear friend will always love me like a daughter, for I will always love her like a second mother. Maybe I am focusing on the wrong side of the memory. Instead of attaching the importance of a memory to an object, maybe I should attach them to the humans that helped make them.
Today is the day I get rid of those oversized, lumpy pillows. When I want to think about Sunday mornings with my brother, all I have to do is look into his beautiful brown eyes. I will remember...I always do.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hazy For Hazelnuts



Hazelnuts make me happy. The way they look, smell and taste are close to perfect. In fact, I do not think I have ever eaten anything with hazelnut in it that I have not liked. When I think about hazelnuts, I picture my mother and I leaving her yoga class on Sunday morning. We always stop for two small hazelnut coffee's...cream, no sugar. Filberts are larger hazelnuts, and they have been consumed by the Chinese for 5,000 years! As we go through history, these acorn sized nuts seem to land all over. They have been harvested by the ancient Romans and cultivated in Turkey for over 2,500 years. Even more, hazelnuts were considered majestic during the Middle Ages, thought to have supernatural power. They were also considered a symbol of fertility, and would be abundant during marriage feasts. So much history for such a small nut, but their presence and nutritional impact really pack a punch. They are a great source for vitamins E, B1, B3, B6, B2, copper, magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium. Why do I really love them so much? They have an extraordinary way of lending themselves to both sweet, and savory foods. One can flavor cookies, creams and coffee, or place them on salads, seafood's and pastas. Hazelnuts are a gift to the Earth. One that has enriched memories and delighted taste-buds for more than 5,000 years.

Hazelnut Cafe Au Lait

-Heat 2 cups of milk
-Add 2 cups chocolat hazelnut spread (such as nutella)
-Stir frequently until hot and steaming, being careful not to bring to a boil
-Blend in 2 cups of freshly made coffee
-Divide between 2 to 3 serving cups. Sprinkle cinnamon on top and serve!

Recipe and facts found in: The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, 2005.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Burning Soy




I burn candles when I clean, cook, read, watch a movie, talk on the phone, write, play on the computer,dance, meditate...for every occasion in my life...I burn candles. Candles decorate my apartment. They are something I always have, and always will, splurged on. Why do I consider them a splurge? Because I only buy soy candles, which tend to cost a lot of mulla. I promise, it is money well spent, and I will tell you why in three points:

1. Soy candles have very little soot, keeping the air that we breathe in clean and smoke free.
2. Soy is a big American crop. When we support our farmers, we support our economy. When we buy cheap paraffin candles, the only one's who really benefit are those big business corporations. Use your purchase as a vote..a vote for our farmers and our community.
3. Soy keeps in scent very well, and they also burn way slower than other candles. Invest in one candle and it is like you are buying two.

Candle light lifts moods, helps us unwind, relax,and sets a tranquil mood. We know eating soy has perks and problems, but burning soy is all perks, no problem.

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