Tuesday, July 30, 2013

i just love animals so much

on sunday we went to the zoo!  we have a sweet zoo in our area, much like the little zoo in the movie we bought a zoo.

as an animal lover, i have mixed feelings about zoos and i go back and forth between believing we should just leave them be in their natural world and the joy and connection (and sometimes longer, healthier lives) that a zoo habitat affords.

each time i peer into a cage, i feel a deep love and respect for animals and a renewed commitment to loving and caring for our world, tinged with a sadness about their confinement.

i am awestruck at their majestic gentleness.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

sunday grace

our home is on a little hill we call gypsy hill.

it is sacred space and where all energy is replenished.

sunday mornings here are all about grounding.

and nourishment for body and soul.

and setting intentions for the week ahead (ace of wands:  inspiration, expansion).

and inhaling the beauty as the sun peaks over the tree line.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

a midsummer's day

painting under the pergola.  i started this a few months ago and was unhappy with it.  i pulled it out today, added minor painty mojo and now i love it.

this mimosa tree was backlit by the rising sun.  there were about ten tiny hummingbirds flitting around it.  it's blooms looked like fairies.

i made jam!  blackberry-chia-kombucha-basil-rose jam.  the basic recipe is here and i added the basil and a dash of rosewater.  it's beautiful, delicious and healthy.

this day is beautiful, delicious and healthy.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

this summer week

i spent last week mainly on the road with my gypsy job:  spreading child protection practice to the far corners of the commonwealth of virginia.  this week was one of my favorite locations:  abingdon.  i love my job, but i was not overly excited about traveling the deathtrap that is interstate 81 during peak family vacation time AND the last week of mercury retrograde.  i said lots of prayers and brought along tiny b and ganesh for good mojo and safe travels.

all was well.

it is the summer of rain.  i have never seen so much rain.  while in abindgon, there were two dangerous thunderstorms and flooding.  sheesh.  but it sure looks pretty on the hotel window with the blue ridge mountains in the background.

the rain stopped long enough for a walk in the old downtown neighborhood, just off of main street in abingdon.  every charming house has a lovely garden.  most have friendly neighbors offering greetings from their porches.  it's one of my favorite things to do.

i returned safety to my home, my husband and wild dogs and ended the week with a trip to the farmer's market.  it is overrun with flowers and fruits and vegetables and nice people.

i picked up a loaf of freshly baked blue cheese/apple/walnut bread and we enjoyed a breakfast of it with a smear of fig jam.

luca insists i return to routine, no matter how much i travel.  first priority is always a walk at sunrise.

i hope next week is beautiful and happy and safe for you.

Monday, July 15, 2013

this summer week

a good story, passion tea and cherries.

peach soft-serve, dipped, with sprinkles.

the first blackberries.  and persistent strawberries.

six knock-off tolix chairs, purchased on clearance, each painted a different hue.  the turquoise is my favorite.

coconut water infused with mint, lime and cucumber.

morning meditation.

thunderstorms and rainbows.

it's a good summer.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

soul salad {№4}: rainbow caprese

this, my friends, is summer in a bowl.

start with tomatoes that look like they could have been purchased from the gumball machine at the five and dime.  mine are organic cherry tomatoes from my favorite local farm, sandyfoot farm.

add fresh mozzarella balls, or bocconcini.  these are marinated in olive oil and herbs.

top with gorgeous fresh basil from an organic garden (or your organic supermarket).  i like to leave the leaves whole.

splash with really good balsamic vinegar and season with sea salt and course ground pepper.  stir.


Friday, July 12, 2013

happy friday

make it fun and colorful.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

soul salad {№3}: i heart india

this salad is inspired by my love of all things india.  it's based on one of my favorites, aloo posto:  spicy potatoes with poppy seeds.   also, ever since fresh pressed turmeric juice cured my nasty sore throat in nyc last month, i'm putting turmeric in everything.  read about it's mojo here.

every main ingredient in this salad with the exception of the pistachios and the poppy seeds was either grown in my garden or purchased at the farmer's market.

i heart india salad

  • five medium potatoes, diced, spiced and roasted
  • one cucumber, diced
  • one-half purple onion, diced
  • one cup fresh herbs (i used parsley and dill)
  • red wine vinaigrette
  • pistachios
  • poppy seeds, a few pinches

dice the potatoes, toss in olive oil and liberally sprinkle with turmeric, chili powder, salt and pepper.  roast at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.  i prefer roasted potatoes to boiled for potato salads; they have more flavor and it cuts way down on the need for vinaigrette or mayonnaise.  let cool a bit and then toss in a bowl with the cucumber, onion, herbs and poppy seeds.  sprinkle with red wine vinaigrette.  garnish with chopped pistachios.

it's kind of bold and amazing.

five things i love about india:

  1. color everywhere
  2. hindu gods and goddesses
  3. the incredible spirit of the children
  4. kheer and chai
  5. (i know it's not true, but) i imagine the air is scented with cardamom and patchouli

Sunday, July 7, 2013

soul salad {№2}: crimson and clover

my grandma dee was a bit of a wild child even in old age.  i remember sitting in her kitchen next to the metal fan (the only cool place in the house), looking up from my book to watch her in her garden through the lace-veiled window.  she carried a giant basket through the rows, gathering goodness nurtured and warmed by the california sun.  i would blush a bit when she would squat down and eat right out of the ground, worried that someone would see her (although the nearest neighbors were blocks away).  she would swing her long black and grey apache braid out of the way and just pop a bean in her mouth or a bit of greens, sometimes even flowers and grass.  i would definitely cringe when she would pull a giant bloodred beet from the soil and take a bite.  i despised beets and could not imagine why someone would want to eat them, especially uncooked and covered in dirt.

turns out, i'm beginning to live much like dee and appreciate the things she loved.  you could say that i am embracing my genetic quirkiness.  i even like beets now.  i love them juiced, roasted and once even took a bite of raw.

this salad pays homage to dee:  roasted beets, greens and flowers.

crimson and clover salad
  • two beets, roasted and cut into small cubes
  • red leaf lettuce
  • arugula
  • radicchio
  • goat cheese, crumbled
  • walnuts, chopped
  • clover flowers*
  • garnish with mint, bee balm petals*, finely diced beet stalk and finely diced dried cranberries
  • beet and balsamic vinaigrette
i roast the two whole beets wrapped in foil at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes.  let them cool enough to handle and then they peel so easily.  cut into cubes and sprinkle with a bit of balsamic vinegar while still warm.  set aside.

build a salad with the lettuce, arugula and radicchio.  lift the beets to strain (reserving the balsamic vinegar and beet juice, now mingled into the most magic of liquids) and top the greens.  crumble goat cheese, walnuts and clover flowers.  dress with the vinaigrette and garnish.

*clover and bee balm are edible; just make sure you pick them from an organic garden.

to make the vinaigrette:  mix together equal parts extra virgin olive oil and beet juice and balsamic vinegar magic liquid with salt and pepper to taste.

grandma dee is smiling.

and also would like it very much if you ate this outside in the sunshine.  preferably in the same spot where you picked the flowers.  with dogs.  and dirt.

Friday, July 5, 2013

soul salad {№1}: thai mango

i'm challenging myself to make one new salad each week to get out of my arugula-and-goat-cheese rut.

while in manhattan last month, i ate thai food like every other day.  the abundance of amazing thai cuisine in the city is overwhelming.  i was particularly fond of the mango salad or yum ma-muang at aura / zoob zib in hell's kitchen.

we have two thai restaurants back home in the 'burg.  both make a decent pad thai, but neither makes papaya or mango salad.  so i made my own version at home sans shrimp.  it's a gorgeous color burst of flavor:  the mango is sweet, the avocado is buttery and the dressing is (super!) spicy.  mangoes are quite challenging to julienne; i think mine were transitioning from green to ripe and they were a little hard to handle.  says the girl with two bandaged fingers.

thai green mango salad 

  • two green mangoes, julienned (they need to be firm, not yet ripe; you might not need two if you are more skilled with the knife than i.  aura puts the mango through a pasta cutter set to spaghetti instead of the julienne.  mango noodles!)
  • 1/4 red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 purple onion (i used the last of my pickled onions from last week)
  • fresh cilantro to taste (i like a lot)
  • fresh basil to taste
  • one avocado, sliced
  • cashews, toasted
the dressing
  • juice of one lime
  • one tablespoon fish sauce (i used vegetarian fish sauce that i purchased in nyc)
  • one tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 thai chili, seeded and finely diced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
combine mango, red pepper, onions and cilantro and set aside.  mix dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well.  dress mango salad lightly.  slice or dice avocado and top salad or mix in.  garnish with basil ribbons and cashews.  

colorful food just makes me so happy.

i've been playing around with making cocktails with my home brewed kombucha, since i always seem to have a lot on hand.  i love this one in particular.  

i call it the lotus.
  • 1/2 lime, sliced and muddled with a bit of sugar in the glass
  • pour one inch st. germain elderflower liqueur
  • add crushed ice (i have a hand crank ice crusher and was summer-afternoon-lazy, so cubes are pictured above.  crushed is better.)
  • fill to top with lavender kombucha (hibiscus would work nicely too)
  • garnish with edible flowers
possibly a little over the top with the flowers but so so good!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

quietly honoring freedom

it's been a little over a year since i left a job that was very important to me.  i grieved more than i thought i would.  but it remains one of the best decisions i've ever made.

it's been a little over a year without:
  • being angry at another person
  • trying desperately to figure out the game everyone but me seemed to know how to play
  • being asked on a regular basis to "redefine" my integrity
  • playing dumb so as not to offend anyone
  • living in fear that this was all there was
  • trying to make something fit that just did not fit (i.e. me)
i am so grateful to live in a nation where there are opportunities to risk, to grow, to make changes.  i am grateful to now work with creative, authentic people who see the world pretty much the same way that i do and embrace our differences as interesting sparks that make life beautiful.

happy independence day.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

tiny memoir: summer reading

the summer of 1973 was the first summer both my parents worked and i was able to stay home alone.

each morning i would wake to the scent of the gardenia blooming outside my open window, the sound of a dove softly humming in the distance and the click-click-click of the neighbor's sprinkler.  summers in central california meant it's already warm (if not hot) by 8am.  i would lie awake and listen for the front door to close and lock and the cars to start up in the driveway before crawling out of bed.

there was a list of daily chores and i would complete half before i pulled on some shorts and a halter top, drank a glass of grapefruit juice and ate a bowl of life.

i was signed up for the library's summer reading program just like every summer; a quiet and safe activity that i'm certain made my parents feel somewhat comforted as they imagined how my day would go without their supervision.  the library supplied a mimeographed chart on which i meticulously recorded the author and title of each book i finished with a no.2 pencil.  the usefulness of the list was greatly enhanced by my own star rating system added to each line.

each tuesday and friday, i would pile my borrowed books into the wire basket on my red huffy and pedal the quiet streets to the wilson road branch of the beale memorial library.  i parked my bike in the rack, grabbed my books and my little wallet from mexico with the tooled leather image of a senorita on one side and a giant flower on the other.  inside the wallet were a few quarters and my only piece of official identification:  my library card.  my signature on the back was neat and precise, signed with great ceremony two summers before with my dad's fountain pen.

the walkway to the huge glass library doors was made of aggregated pebbles and it felt smooth and warm on my bare feet.  inside, the librarian gave my chart the once-over before applying a tiny star to each newly completed line and accepting my books for return.  we chatted briefly about each one and i felt very important because she really seemed interested in my opinion about the story and characters.  i then retreated to the children's room for an hour of browsing and the careful selection of my next round of books.

once my business at the library was complete, i walked my bike around the corner to the thrify drug store and purchased a single-scoop cone of rainbow sherbet for 5¢.  i sat on the bench outside the store and ate my ice cream as i watched people come and go, slightly intoxicated on my own independence.

back at home, i completed my afternoon chores of watering the garden and lawn.  then i pulled out a book and curled up with my dogs in the window nook in the den to begin reading.

and there i would stay; sometimes until i heard my mom's car pulling up in the drive.  i read over thirty books that summer.  the form only had room for ten so i had to have multiple copies, each carrying the soft scent of mimeograph ink and meticulously completed in no.2 pencil.

i've not traveled so far or so well since.