Thursday, November 29, 2012

gratitude: week five

  • my intuition.  so far the best thing about getting older is becoming more attuned to her wisdom and voice.
  • attention to aesthetic. 
  • an open and curious mind.
  • staying vegetarian when i'm craving steak au poive, fish tacos, chicken pot pie.
  • flexibility (i'm leaving the door open for the fish tacos).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

gratitude: week four

on the day after thanksgiving, instead of indulging in black friday, we went to yogaville.

the last time we visited, i was in the midst of making the decision whether or not to leave my job and radically change my life.  yogaville provided the space and stillness to give me some clarity on the issue.

i am so very grateful for this open, loving, spiritual place that is quite unexpected in rural virginia.  being here instantly brings the familiar sense of groundedness that i've been blessed enough to experience in other beautiful places.

i am grateful for the sacred spaces i have known.

(photos taken friday at yogaville.)

i am grateful for the pacific ocean.  her name masks her fierceness and power.  i like that.

i am grateful for the tidepools she leaves behind.  she taught me that you can be bold and raw and honest and still create beauty and gentleness.  i am grateful for all those times i held the hand of my daddy while he told me the stories of the magical little sea worlds that exist in each and every tiny pool.

i am grateful for a home that is safe and warm and happy and peaceful.   living here makes me want to be more creative, more joyful, more loving.

i am grateful for my childhood home that i miss often and dream about with a sense of nostalgia and history and love and belonging.

i am grateful for forests and woods and mountains.  and for trails that help me be brave.

i am grateful for the 24"x72" yoga mat that i can roll out anywhere and transform my body, my mind, my spirit, my day, my life.

i am grateful for the places i have not yet been and who whisper to me that there is something for me to learn there.

my most favorite completely accidental self-portrait ever:  protection, wisdom, guidance, beginnings (all these ganesh gifts)...are within.

i am grateful for the practice of choosing which space to inhabit (i.e. yogaville over target) on any given day.  i am grateful for having those options.

i am grateful for learning (still learning, still practicing) that any space (even target) can be peaceful and transformed by awareness and appreciation of its unique beauty and stories.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

gratitude: week three

happy thanksgiving friends.

i am so grateful for each of you.

i am grateful for this space to write it out and capture moments and cultivate a life of awareness.

also, so thankful for these things:

  • my insatiable need for color
  • the buddha on the thanksgiving table
  • we've named him honey buddha
  • as in "honey buddha don't care that there is no turkey"
  • honey buddha also doesn't judge that there is lasagna and mashed potatoes
  • thankful for meg worden and the work we did earlier this year
  • and that i totally forgot to get the family-sized package of squishy rolls
  • that's right, forgot, as in completely slipped my mind!
  • because that job that made me want to stuff squishy rolls in my mouth is no longer mine to bear
  • and other squishy roll needs are being met in more appropriate ways
  • grateful that this list does not have to be serious
  • because we do not have one single truly serious need
  • so i will end it here
  • and say a blessing for children living in fear and poverty and anger
  • honey buddha cares about that
  • and so do i

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

homemade kombucha with hannah

kombucha is a sparkly fermented tea.  you may have heard it called "mushroom" tea (it tastes nothing like mushroom).  i call it magic elixir.  it's an ancient probiotic brew that is detoxing and prevents all sorts of disease.  i just feel good when i drink it.  it took a really long time before i tried it but once i did, i loved it instantly.  i love it so much i am flirting with an addiction.  which is probably great for my health, but not so great for my budget given the cost of bottled kombucha in stores ($4-$5 per bottle).

my friend and yoga teacher sarah makes her own kombucha at home and sweetly offered to share a starter mushroom (scoby) with me and show me the steps to brewing my own batch.

meet hannah, sarah's daughter.  she is very talented in the kitchen.  she is already quite famous in our town for her healthy eating and mad culinary skills.  she is just a joy to be around.

we used 2-quart jars and the recipe from this beautiful book.

the recipe
(for each jar)
2 quarts filtered water
2/3 cup organic sugar 
4 organic black tea bags or equivalent loose tea leaves 
1 cup previously brewed kombucha
1 scoby (kombucha mushroom)

(you can find a thousand recipes online.  sarah says not to stress out about the precise recipe, she likes to experiment with different proportions and tastes.)

wash your hands and kitchen surfaces (cleanliness is pretty important in this process).

measure your tea into a clean, dry jar (or use teabags).

fill the jar about 3/4 full with boiling water.

add your sugar and stir well until the sugar dissolves.

(use a wooden spoon, not metal.)

repeat for each jar you are making.

allow the tea to steep.

seriously, how adorable are they?  a beautiful baby-wearing, kombucha-brewing yoga teacher and her amazing children.

kombucha...kombuda...kombuddha.  such a wise child.

let the brew cool to body temperature.  this is very important, you don't want to "cook" the scoby.  be patient.

remove the tea bags or strain the tea if you used loose tea.

add one cup of previously brewed kombucha (and cold water to fill the jar if necessary).

now for the scoby.

this is scoby (below):  symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.  she is a culture therefore she is alive.  treat her right.  express your love and gratitude openly and often.

(she's quite a versatile substance, watch this to see how scoby is being used to make fabric.)

place one scoby in each jar.

once they are full, cover your kombucha jars with cotton fabric.  secure tightly with a rubber band.  they should look like they are in the sunday school christmas play.

they are now ready to be stored to "brew".

store them in a quiet warm space out of direct sunlight for two to three weeks.  (sarah suggested experimenting storing the jars in a cooler with a heating pad set to low.)

after three weeks, a new scoby "pancake" will have grown in your tea.   taste your tea.  it should be a bit tangy with a bite.  if it's sugary, it's not ready.  back in the cupboard.

(if any mold has grown in your batch, discard the entire batch, scoby and all.  you will know if there is any funkiness present.)

when it's ready, remove the scoby and save.  at this point you can flavor it if you like with hibiscus flowers, ginger, chai spices, etc.

pour off and bottle most of the brew, always leaving a cup or two of brewed tea and scoby for your next batch.  you can use glass jars or recycled drink bottles.

if you added flavors, you may want to store your bottled brew for one more week or so.  this will allow the flavors to deepen and promote effervescence.

speaking of effervescence...hannah likes to wait out the brewing process by star-stirring, cabbage hugging and making her baby brother laugh.

this is sarah's mothership scoby.  she is quite impressive, yes?

these are ready for storing.  in three weeks, i'll have my first batch of kombucha.  i'm going to add some hibiscus and ginger.

thank you sarah and hannah!  you completely demystified this process for me and i had a great time spending the morning with you.

if you haven't tried kombucha, i know it can look a little weird.  i encourage you to try it to see if you like it.  whole foods or your local health food store should carry a line.  you can also find local brewers at farmers markets.  if you are near southwest virginia, local brewer buffalo mountain makes amazing kombucha.  regardless of the source, there are a lot of varieties.  i suggest synergy trilogy or buffalo mountain hibiscus to start.  they taste great and you will feel awesome.

a few internet kombucha resources:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

gratitude: week two

thankful for:
  • an introvert's lunchtime scavenger hunt (a little something i'm alpha testing for type-ography)
  • enthusiastic and energetic students
  • solitary sunrise drives
  • soba noodles, black sesame and seaweed salad 
  • (for three dollars!)
  • three dogs who greet me at the door after a long day with so much (really noisy) love and happiness
  • the pride when i see my man on stage as uncle vanya
  • a sweet friend who is going to teach me to make homemade kombucha (you too...right here next week)
  • after way too much research, giving up the idea of vegetarian "turkey" and deciding to go nontraditional for thanksgiving
  • a good week
{photograph captured at lunchtime discovery appalachia press.}

Sunday, November 11, 2012

oh serendipity

don't you just love it when little bits of previously random love end up having everything to do with each other?

you know how i went on about harvest table a few posts back?  last month, while driving country backroads, taking a break from the interstate on work travel, i was compelled to stop at the deep raspberry and tiffany blue storefronts in little meadowview, virginia.  inside i discovered the most lovely farm-to-table restaurant complete with adjoining country store.

the food is amazing.  the vibe is comforting.

this morning i was listening to an interview with barbara kingsolver discussing her new book flight behavior.  something in the interview sounded vaguely familiar which prompted me to do a little research only to discover that she owns harvest table and that her farm from animal, vegetable, miracle (one of my all-time favorite books) is close by the restaurant.

i love love love this.

on future trips (there are many), i will be carrying my copy of a, v, m, with high hopes of a signature and some conversation.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

gratitude: week one

i resisted doing gratitude posts for a few days.  i have mixed feelings about corralling gratitude into the month of november just as i do saving expressions of love for february fourteen.  plus i'm getting closer to the belief that all this self-care/gratitude/enoughness is just way too self-indulgent and sometimes verges on the edge of gloat.  and bloat.

on the other hand, the act of expressing gratitude for the unbelievable abundance in my life serves a purpose:  i am reminded to focus on the sweet spots in my day and release the fear and ugliness and hunger.  the contrast gently nudges me to do something about that darker side, make it lighter, less ominous.  for myself and for others.

so there you go.

and here you go:

this week i am grateful for

  • the trees that surround my home.  they stood strong and safe during sandy.
  • trees that stood strong and safe around others' homes.
  • democracy (while i'm not too thrilled with the narrowing definition, i deeply value my right to vote)
  • the kismet that brings d.c.'s gourmet ice cream truck (above) to my neighborhood for the winter.  seriously, it matches our garden shed.  in a town full of traditional brick and colonial columns, our hood is the home of the multicolored harlequin.
  • my new job is more than i could have imagined.  i love it.
  • i am grateful when painful endings leave room for bigger and better things.
  • a walking trail in the middle of the city that sports view like this.
  • continued clarity about who i am and the kind of life i want to live.

Monday, November 5, 2012

five senses: fall



on a crisp and quiet early morning in abingdon, the wind whistled through the trees and a fountain softly gurgled and splashed.  even though it was way too early for actors, i imagined i heard muffled voices in rehearsal inside the theatre.  echoes of way too many hours of shakespeare in my lifetime.


i enjoyed hearing the crunch of this confetti of leaves underfoot and the scent of woods and sweet decay released with each step was intoxicating.

also i cannot get enough of nag champa.  my house smells like peace and love.


harvest table is a farm-to-table restaurant in tiny meadowview, virginia.  i discovered it while on a work trip in southwestern virginia.  friends, it is not easy to eat vegetarian or organic in some parts of virginia.  harvest table is a lifesaver and my new favorite place to eat.  locally-sourced organic whole foods are used to create simple and splendid dishes.

case in point (above):  frittata with caramelized onions, goat cheese, heirloom green zebra tomatoes and greens.

i devoured the plum bread pudding with fresh cream before i remembered to take a photograph.

they take food stewardship seriously, even putting up their own sauces, spices and herbs.

(purchased above-mentioned nag champa spritzer in the general store.)


handfuls of leaves.
warm mugs of chai.
ugg-snuggled toes.