I love this quote. It reminds me of the travel to China I did for my last job, and how every trip took me somewhere new, where I met new people, saw things I couldn’t imagine and ate food, made from things I wouldn’t normally consider food, like pigeon – in NYC, we called them rats with wings. That was hard, especially when the beak bobbed around in my soup.
It also reminds me to find something new to learn each year. I love research. It’s not quite the same as doing, traveling or learning something specific, but is does lend itself to expanding my horizons.
So. Where will you go this year? Will it be out of your town limits? ( I have cousin who rarely leaves his town, he’s just more comfortable that way.) Will it be out of your state, your country? (I have another cousin, a few actually, who live abroad in Japan.) Will it be to the top of a mountain, or the foot of the hills? (I remember when my aunt was planning on climbing Mt. Everest. She wore her new hiking boots to work to get the required number of miles in them before starting her climb. This was with her silk blouse and pearls.)
I think about all of these things, and they are all new to each individual, preparing for the experience might be habitual in the way that you prepare (make a list, do the laundry, etc), but you would have never prepared for these things this way. So that makes that part new too, and it’s not just the destination that’s new, but the journey too.
** I read that this is a quote from the Dalai Lama, then I read it wasn’t. Happy to give the original author credit if you know who it actually is.
The amazing Strand Bookstore in NYC has a Tumblr for objects and notes found in their used books. It is almost as delicious as walking into the Strand itself. Since I no longer live in NYC, I visit the tumblr site often. I found this image of the underlined passage, from a book by Ranier Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet. It makes me want to read the rest of the book.
We usually have onions in some form for every meal. Red onions, White onions, Sweet, Walla Wallas, Vidalia, shallots, the list goes on, depending on what’s in season, what comes in our CSA box or we grow in the garden.
Onions are an awesome food, with major health benefits like being anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and antiviral. They contain great nutrients like vitamin C and calcium among others.
We either eat them raw, roasted (above), caramelized, sauteed or grilled. They are juicy enough you don’t really need to douse with olive oil, but when not using oil for added flavor, we use it to keep the onions from sticking to the pan or grill.
I roasted this batch of onions and kept them in a jar to add flavor to dishes during the week. We’ve also taken to adding raw onions to our batches of fermented cabbage, adding a strong, sometimes sweet flavor. One batch even reminded me of the little cocktail onions my grandfather used to use in his drinks. (Of course I only ate the ones from the jar, never from Pop Pop’s drink.)
Whenever we’re sick, we make a batch of onion, garlic and ginger soup, it warms you up, clears your sinuses, keeps you hydrated and makes you feel so much better…
Onion, Garlic and Ginger Soup
3 large onions, chopped
3 heads of garlic, peeled and minced
large piece of ginger, peeled and minced
vegetable stock (or water)
cayenne pepper (optional)
Saute onions in olive oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add minced garlic and ginger, saute for another minute. Add peppercorns, a dash of cayenne pepper (to your liking) and vegetable stock and bring to a boil Reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes. Serve hot.
Make enough to keep a batch in the freezer for the next time you’re feeling worn out.
I have had my fair share of flights, more than some, a lot less than others I’m sure. But enough. I put on my noise cancelling headphones and read, sleep or watch a movie. Shoes are off and I’ve got the pashmina wrapped around me keeping me cozy. But mostly I read. I find it’s the perfect time to finish three or more books, and I can read start to finish with the only interruption being, “What would you like to drink?”
I brought four books with me, two were in the seat pocket in front of me and the other two were stowed in my luggage overhead, and as usual, the boarding passes were my bookmarks. One of the airports I was flying through still wasn’t able to manage the mobile boarding passes, so I had plenty of paper with me to help from losing my place if I had to stash my book.
The plane was still boarding as I settled in and opened the book. Across the row from me were two very large men. The woman in front of me offered to switch with one of the men, she was much smaller than both of them and it would give both of them more room.
Before taking off, the man in the window seat already had his good book out reading “scriptures”, explaining to his new seatmate, as she had just proclaimed that she was “born again”, about something that I blocked out. The conversation was loud, Mr. Truck Driver clearly didn’t like women, they had their place and was struggling attempting kindness towards the smaller woman next to him. The man seated in front of them shook his head, holding it in his hands. At least I had my headphones on and could focus on the book.
I had just turned to page 12, “Guts“, this is the story that made people pass out during the author’s readings. It was sickening. In between pool bottom visuals, I could hear the conversation getting louder. I shifted in my seat. The story was discomforting and the man’s voice started drilling into my brain behind my left ear, even with the headphones on.
They were discussing their religious experiences when I heard clearly, “I took him behind my truck and laid my hands on him. I told him that the evil would be gone, I prayed with him. They thought he had meningitis, but when he went back to the doctors, they found no trace of it, just some bad headaches. He believed in me that day behind the truck, and I healed him.”
The woman was speechless. The peanut gallery in the row in front of them were giggling, maybe at Mr. Truck Driver, maybe at the woman for believing him.
He kept quoting from the book and a few passages later, Mr Truck Driver tells Ms. Calico Skirt, “Adam did it all wrong. He should have been the one to give Eve the apple, not the other way around. That woman ruined him, and he knew better.” I tried to just listen and let it go, but I couldn’t help wondering about this man’s vision of women. I wondered too what his seat mate thought. I tried to look over without staring, Ms. Calico Skirt was nodding away.
I was finally able to let the conversation dissolve around me and I got lost in all 23 characters of Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. I was uncomfortable, the stories are disturbing. And gross. I couldn’t put the book down. I certainly wasn’t hungry on this flight. When I would pause in between stories, I could hear Mr. Truck Driver’s voice, and when he would take a breath, Ms. Calico would ask a question that would just keep him going.
I looked at the cover of Hauntedand smiled, wondering what Mr. Truck Driver and Ms. Calico Skirt would think about this book, about me reading it, would I burn in hell? Could I be saved?
It was 6:43 and the sweet Izonator had awoken. We’d been awake for an hour or so already. My husband blames me for our daughter’s early rising habit. Apparently, I was not an early morning sleeper when I was pregnant, up and eating or pacing or reading at 4am. I must have blocked it all out, I don’t really remember that. Hormones.
6:43 is relatively late for her. When she was a mere 18mos, she was up at 4:30am. Regularly. And I don’t mean as in, let’s snuggle mom, I mean jumping up and down TIME TO PLAY NOW!!! I like to think she’s sleeping in these days.
I have to say that we do rise quite early, a sneeze usually lets everyone in the house know I’m awake. Yes, I sneeze, it’s my internal alarm clock.
On this particular morning, we were up for a while, still in bed, talking and I was on my 2nd green tea refill in my signature Z mug by the time snuggler thumped out of the top bunk, turned off her noise machine and shuffled into our room, climbing into my husband’s side of the bed. She blinked and smiled, pulling the covers up over her lap, scooting closer to me. I put my arm around her and pulled her closer. Love bug. She had Kitty and her Junie B. Jones book about Handsome Warren with her. I know she slept with Kitty, but the books are the things she tends to grab on her way in.
I love books. There are a few stacks bedside and a few shelves full in the other room. I like to read them, flip through them, have them close. She loves books too and I love that they are usually the first thing she thinks of when she wakes up, and they are the last thing she has before she goes to bed. But since she slept in and it was almost time for me to start getting ready for my work day, I didn’t have time to read to her. That’s ok Mom, I can read to myself.
Heart exploded and sank at the same time. How awesome! She can do it herself! But that’s what we do together!! Ugh, there are times when I think I’m ready to let her do her own thing (I want her to, I really, truly do with all my heart), and my first reaction is heart bursting love for my girl, I smile, and inside I think NOOOOOOO we do that T O G E T H E R. So now we all sit together and read silently together after dinner / before bed. I’m totally ok with that.
Anyway, I remember looking at the clock when I heard her pop down from her bunk bed. 6:43. It all seems so clear. I looked at my husband, smiling at me, sipping his coffee. I felt completely, awesomely happy.
After my shower, I came out to this:
A beautiful breakfast rice bowl. I’ve been on a hypo-allergenic food cleanse thingy. I feel awesome. My wonderfully considerate husband completely takes care of me and made me this for breakfast.
I love rice bowls. I never really thought about them until I had been in China so much and realized that I ate rice for breakfast every morning (lunch and dinner too…. go figure).
Here’s how he made the rice bowl in the photo
Hypo-Allergenic Vegan Gluten Free Rice Bowl (can you say YAHOO!!!)
Rice from night before (you can make it in the morning if you want to and have time)
Ground Flax Seed
Grated Fresh Ginger
Pour almond milk over rice in a small pan, heat up until warm and moist. You may have to add more almond milk, the rice is thirsty. When it’s hot enough pour into a bowl, add more milk to your liking, I like mine soupy. Add Avocado and Ground Flax Seed and the Grated Fresh Ginger and Chopped Nuts.
You can do this with anything you love. Other greens, other veggies, any legume, add a dash of cinnamon.
Our mornings are pretty spectacular, amazing conversations, cuddles and good food. We love starting our days this way.
There were four of us in our silver Mini driving back to the ferry to Seattle. In typical Pacific Northwest fashion, it was raining. Not a downpour, but the windshield wipers had to be faster than the mist setting. Per special request, Don McLean’s American Pie was blasting. We all sang along, as loud as we could. (You at least know the chorus – if not the entire song…)
We were heading home after our traditional holiday dinner with the extended family 2 days before Christmas. It was a comfortable way to continue the Christmas festivities. I volunteered my cousin to host (it’s a family tradition to volunteer others for hosting), and she asked us all to bring salads. I got a separate text later to bring my pumpkin chocolate pie, it was a “special request”. How could I refuse?
I do love to cook, but lately, I haven’t been doing it as much as I have in the past. I’ve been focusing elsewhere, and haven’t spent much time at the farmer’s market or the co-op. If I think about it too much, I realize how much I’m missing it from my routine. (And so I’ve spent the last few nights meal planning again….hungry at 9pm, drooling over the cooking blogs. )
There is a slight challenge to my cooking for my extended family of picky eaters. Gluten Free and Vegan are YUCK words. I mean, who wants to eat roasted brussel sprouts (ok, she tried them, but she didn’t like them), other than me? We actually eat them like candy at our house, including the almost 8 year old.
I wanted to eat the pumpkin chocolate pie this year. The recipe calls for creme fraiche, that ingredient is not on my vegan list. My first thought was that I would just make it with the original ingredients and stare at it, not eat it. But then I thought, why can’t I eat it too? I started Googling vegan substitutes, but each of them said, NOT FOR BAKING. ARGH. I felt so defeated. There had to be something that would work.
I stood in front of the vegan cream cheese containers in the fridge at my local PCC having an internal (gosh I hope I didn’t say any of it out loud) conversation, do I bake with it, do I not? I had to move out of the way twice so someone could open the doors and grab their own items. Tired of myself, I grabbed the 8oz container of Tofutti Cream Cheese, turned it over a few times, read the ingredients (it’s an awesome habit – you should do it to), and dropped it into my cart. I finished at the bulk section and headed home.
The recipe calls for 8oz of creme fraiche. I pulled out my blender, scooped out what I thought was 5 oz of the Tofutti Cream Cheese into the blender and poured in 3 oz of soy creamer. Blended for 30 seconds and voila! Vegan Creme Fraiche. I popped it in a jar and stored it in the fridge until I was ready to use it.
I had never had either the vegan cream cheese or the soy creamer. I’ve strongly held the belief that I shouldn’t eat the imitation stuff. I still hold that belief. So until I do my research on a suitable replacement for creme fraiche for baking, I’ll be using this. But I will keep looking….
Not to spoil it all, but I forgot the sugar. I FORGOT THE SUGAR!!! I baked this pie and forgot the sugar. Yes I did. And guess what. Everyone ate it. Sure, there was extra whipped cream, but it was still a hit. I won’t forget the sugar next time, it definitely needs it.
My recipe adapted from Martha Stewart. The original is awesome. If you are into Dairy and Wheat, totally go for it. The Gluten Free / Vegan version is also TOTALLY AWESOME:
Practice is the best of all instructors. -Publilius Syrus
Practice yourself, for heaven’s sake in little things, and then proceed to greater. -Epictetus
I feel like I finally have some notion of what Practice actually means, or at least what it means to me.
Sure, I’ve been to practice. Soccer practice, piano practice, flute practice (that didn’t last so long, constant congestion leads to lightheadedness…fyi). I’ve practiced sewing, patternmaking, knitting, painting, drawing. I’ve practiced baking, roasting, sauteing, pureeing. Eating and drinking for sure. Lots of reading and writing too. Driving and even and a bit of golf.
I had taken yoga classes off and on at the gym for years. I have a DVD, I even got a mother baby DVD when I was pregnant. It was hard. Doing it on my own was like WHATEVER, it’s dark out, I don’t need to get out of bed, I have the DVD, I can do it whenever. But I didn’t do it at all. Ok well maybe the abs part for like 20 minutes, and for the next 3 days I hurt so much I could not inhale deeply or bend to the left or right, or even pick up my bag. Has that ever happened to you?
I signed up for Family Yoga at a local yoga studio. Once a week my daughter and I would show up and do yoga together. It was awesome. I could bend and fold and breathe, the teacher even focused the kiddos when necessary so the moms could just practice yoga instead of keeping one eye on our yoga buddy. She learned about 45 minutes of self discipline, practicing her bending, folding, twisting and breathing, and about how good it made her feel. It made me feel good too.
I eventually cancelled my gym membership and signed on for a year at a new yoga studio. I now practice yoga regularly, a few times every single week. And I’ve come to realize some things about practice.
Practice does make “perfect” (perfect is a relative term of course, different for each of us). Practice helps to realize things fully, for example, I could not bend over because of a bulging disk in my lower back. But after practicing bending (in yoga), I can bend over. Gardening is officially back on the list of regular activities.
By gardening daily, my thumb has gotten greener (it has been sort of grey in the past). Practicing gardening has increased my understanding of the earth and seasons, even the moon, as well as plants in general, bugs too, especially slugs. I think I’ve found their favorite food. (It’s everything I plant…)
Practice definitely improves, well, everything, I’ve found. It also makes room for other things. An experienced “practicer” helped me realize that practicing makes the space I need to grow, expand. It gives me room to process and digest. It’s from this new space that new ideas emerge and understandings flow.
I’m pretty excited about this new space I’ve found.