Wednesday, February 29, 2012

a take-yourself-on-a-date day

A little too much alone-ness during the day.
A little too much Bleak House viewing starting to transfer into bleak house feeling in real life.

I always like these classic book- to- film BBC pieces, and honestly, I could have stayed home and been pretty much content to watch this all day long, but this morning I realized that I really needed to get out of the house. Kind of had to force myself.

So I took myself on a date.

This wasn't a typical errand day. Although I did pick up some things I needed such as a few new scouting materials (yes, I just got put into Wolf Den mother- mode. Three boys =  the third time doing this gig. ), a stop at the craft store to locate a much needed two tiered fruit stand, and a finally, a stop at the library to pick up the Gandhi DVD for Sam to watch tonight for his history class. 

In between all these errands was my time for rejuvenation, cultural enrichment, and boredom busting. Yay!

I browsed at the antique mall. Nothing caught my eye enough for a purchase, but I did see some beautiful old samplers from the 1800's. I like the history of it all and like to think of the women who wore those fur coats and the little children whose feet wore those tiny leather shoes all lined up in a row in the display case.

Since all my outing destinations were in the same neighborhood, and since it was lunch time, I thought I'd go a little out of my comfort zone and head to the Krishna temple where they serve a $5 all you can eat vegetarian buffet. That was interesting. I love to try new things. It was fun to browse the gift shop, as well. This took me down memory lane to the times when I was a young girl and our Uncle Gene would bring back so many items for us from India where he resided. I think I'll head down there again when it gets warmer. I'd love to get a few of those billowy cotton skirts to wear with my sandals this summer.

Next stop was the art museum. I thought it would be fun to see the All-State Art Show featuring local and talented high school art students. Another trip down memory lane. Once upon a time I, too, had a painting shown in this exhibit. Did you know that I was an artist in my day? Then studied art in college? Viewing art always nourishes my soul in a way I can't express in words.

I came home with a happier disposition. And happier still when Keith showed up home tonight with a lovely pot of purple hyacinths and a gift subscription to Netflix.

I wish you could be here and smell spring.

Before I sign off, here's my question to you.

Would you feel comfortable having a day like mine? How would it feel for you to do things like this by yourself? Just for pleasure.

Things like meandering through a museum by yourself. Going to a movie alone. (I've done that a few times.) Going out to eat solo. Going on a hike. Going to a play or a concert. Kind of like a field trip for adults, you know?

Sure, it's nice to share these experiences and outings with another. But when you are alone most days like I am, I do think it's necessary and important to feel ease and enjoyment just being with ourselves.

Maybe you can try it for yourself, too.

Monday, February 27, 2012

bathtub haiku

soaking in the tub
eating this cereal bowl
meditation place

Saturday, February 25, 2012

'round here

:: all kinds of kitchen creations going on today. fresh salsa. hummus. black bean spread. baked no fat tortilla chips. brown rice in my new rice cooker. i think it's really going to be a life saver. roasted veggies to die for.

:: menu planning for the next week. loving my whole foods course. no surprise. delving into hunky triathloner vegan firefighter's Engine 2 Diet book. that guy from Forks Over Knives. good stuff here and new ideas.

:: hearing the door click after midnight my eyes pop open. his steps heard walking slowly up the stairs. are you awake, mom? he tells me of his "perfect day". saudi prince guest speaker university lecture, followed by a stroll through the new islamic art exhibit. his thing, and how. wish i could have tagged along. so glad he knows i will share in his joy. that i'm always here to listen. to talk.

:: she works secluded in her studio. painting her heart out.

:: it's been so long she says.

:: exciting, maybe even a crisis, hermit crab molting event.

:: they eat some salsa. then get to work making a terrarium. just for fun.

:: date night japanese food last night. i like sushi, but only the veggie kind. he doesn't go for it. like how i used to be.

:: after thinking it over for so long and since he's had his two back surgeries and still deals with the pain and doesn't get much sleep and since my hips ache all the time and i wake up with my shoulders sore. we are getting old i think. decided it might be the time to get a new mattress. one of those tempurpedic fancy ones. i think of what else all that money could go for, but i think it's going to be worth it. so excited to hit the sack tonight.

:: if you spend so much money, you'll receive a $200 gift card incentive. can't beat that. so we go for it and get a new 24 inch flat panel t.v. for our room. whoo hoo. grandma fay's twenty year old 13 incher sure got a lot of good use. i keep telling the kids that one of these days, our other grandma fay 1973 (yes, it still works after almost 40 years) console- a swiveling classic piece of furniture- will be replaced. they're embarrassed to have friends over. that's a serious factor to consider. its days are numbered.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

To Be A Woman

~That I share partnership with God in creating new life. That this other body could be enveloped, nourished, and protected inside my own. That I can bear fruit. Stretching, growing, accommodating, and birthing in such a miraculous way.
That I'm designed and have been blessed to take part in this wonder.

~That I'm created to provide the perfect sustenance formed from my own body fluids to give nourishment to another.
Allowing an intimacy so perfect, pure, and beautiful.

~That as a mother, I have the ability and opportunity to impact, teach, and mold another's character, another's soul more than any other influence in the world.
This is powerful.

~That my love and sacrifice for my children is second only to the love of God.
This is holy.

~That as woman, I've been endowed with the gift of nurturing, empathy, and compassion. To reach out to not only my own, but to all and any who may be in need or who may be suffering. 
That I can act on my good intentions.

~That as woman, I'm blessed with a heightened sense of intuition.

~That as a descendant daughter of our first Mother Eve, I am allowed to participate in her role as "Mother of all Living".
I represent, create, and sustain life.

~That I can take my place in a line of strong, brave, and wise women. That I can look to them for strength, for example, for inspiration.
Such is my heritage. 

~That I don't have to prove myself, compete, or fight for power or influence in the world or society at large. I have a dignified confidence, quietly going about doing good and contributing to society at all levels or any sphere or occupation I choose.

~That this body can be soft, smooth, and curvaceous and at the same time formed with muscles lean, hard, powerful, and strong.

~That I have the freedom in my appearance for variety, while staying feminine at the same time. To have a long mane of hair or cut short. To put on a dress, a skirt, or jeans and a baseball cap whenever I feel like it.

~That as a girl, my choice of activity can vary between shooting baskets and playing a game of touch football with the guys or baking cookies and playing pretend with dolls.

~That as a woman, I have the freedom and the ease to display my feelings openly. That I can cry if I'm happy or cry if I'm sad. That I can show my affection physically for another- man, woman, or child- with a hug, a touch on the arm, or verbalize aloud with an honest, from the heart "I love you".

~That I can say that something is "sweet" or "cute" and get away with it.

~That I have the power to endure more than I think I can.

~That as mother, I'm the one they turn to first. The one they gravitate toward. The one they want to sit by, talk to first on the phone, to snuggle on the bed with.

~That in one day's time, these hands of a woman can:
wipe the sweat off her own face, knead a loaf of bread, play a game or hold a book with a child, envelop another in a tight hug, clean a toilet bowl, fold clean laundry, chop vegetables, dial a phone to make a happy birthday call, wash a body, type on a computer keyboard, fold in prayer.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

switcharoo snafu

Can you tell the difference?
(Psss. It's the suds.)

I guess Renee inspired me to make a little more pretty in the kitchen.

Decided to get rid of that unsightly plastic bottle of dish soap and transfer it into a lovely glass decanter. I'd already done that with the olive oil that sits corralled with the salt and pepper next to the stove.

Well, what happened next is too funny not to share. (At least I think it's a little humorous.)

Gary has all but "moved" home. Sleeping on the couch and hanging out when he's not working or going to school or having fun with Ivana.

This man-son of mine doesn't like to shave. He lets the stubble go for as long as he can. I try to not "sweat the small stuff" and let it bug me, but I really do empathize. Reason is because of his skin being so sensitive. Shaving just plain hurts and gives him a bad rash.

He's found a trick, though. A little olive oil rubbed on before he starts with the razor seems to help. So one morning, here, he got a little bowl filled in the kitchen and made his way to the bathroom. Only when he started rubbing the olive oil in, it started sudsing. What in the heck? Come to find out, it was a mix up with the dish soap.

And boy did I hear about it.

And then there's my own little snafu.

Sunday evening, Jane's friend Franciska came over for dinner. Checking my kitchen out, checking me out, so attentive and interested in every thing in sight. And there I was in all my glory, kind of a cocky showing off of all my cooking skills while trying to entertain her with my charming hostess chatter and laughter. I pulled the wok and the skillet out, ready to cook up the veg stir fry and the potato, kale, and mushroom main dish. I nonchalantly drizzled a little bit of "olive oil" in those pans and threw in some garlic. (Because that's just what you do with olive oil, right?) Then, all the sudden, our attention turns to the putrid, burning smell coming from those pans. With me thinking, "Why in the world is that olive oil so gel-like, and turning white?" It was totally, like, gag me with a spoon, bad. That choking (garlic) "soapy" air gave it all away. 

Wrong bottle, Em.

Well, we all got a good laugh. Especially me. I'm such a ditz, sometimes.

Lessons learned:

1. Making pretty can sometimes backfire.
2. Better get out the food coloring for the dishsoap.
3. We all have flops.
4. Sometimes you just have to eat that humble pie and laugh at yourself.

Monday, February 20, 2012

funday monday

Been itching to do something fun with the gang.
Glad we had this Presiden'ts Day holiday with everybody off.
Satistfied my Cafe Rio cravings.
I never get tired of this salad.
For a big family, it's usually the first choice.
Fresh, and a bargain besides.
Glad our sweet little Portuguese friend Mariana could join us.
I just love her.
Midterm pressures led the big college kids scattered.
What about bowling?
Hey, that's a good idea.
Can't remember the last time.
Thank goodness for bumpers.
A stop for ice cream at Sub Zero
(rice milk and agave for me. hard to come by.)
and a little book browsing at Barnes and Noble
topped off the day just fine.
Time spent together.
Keeping us centered.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

to mellow out

I like this kind of day. In fact, I like this kind of weekend, don't you? These extra long ones are so nice. Not a lot going on. Well, maybe. Trying to think of something fun to do with the kids on Monday.

I woke up early this morning, and as is typical, I tried to go back to sleep. Maybe caught an extra half hour or so. Decided to catch up on some emails.

This is exciting:

 Received an email yesterday from an editor at Parents Magazine. Said they would like to use my Lego party invitation in their "birthday party round-up" May edition. This totally caught me off guard, but you can bet your buttons that it brought some excitement this way. (Thank you, Pinterest for all the traffic!)Enough for a Facebook status, even. We'll see how things pan out.

I waited until the sun was out this morning before I went off running. Had to cut it short because Heidi, the Masseuse Woman Extraordinaire was coming over with her table to give me a much needed massage. My hips are giving me problems. Again. She couldn't believe how tight. As well as the psoas. Did you know that they start in the stomach area and run down the legs? Thank goodness she works wonders.  I'm calling her again next month.

Since that massage, I've been in chill-mode. It's good place to be.

A little insert here: I guess it shows on my face because they all told me tonight how pretty I look today. My face. My skin. My hair. My style(!) Gee whiz. I guess I need to get a massage more often.

Took Isaac with me to run a few errands and make a pit stop at the library. Thinking of what I'll make tomorrow when they'll all come home for dinner. Jane's bringing a friend who's excited to "go vegan". Hope she doesn't leave disappointed.  

Looking forward  now to putting on my flannel nightie and watching a movie(s) in bed.

Enjoy the weekend, friends.

Tchau, and talk to you later.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Listening: Somewhere in Time soundtrack on Grooveshark. So romantic I want to die.

Wearing: chocolate cable knit sweater, khakis, brown leather Lands' End clogs, no make-up day.

Drinking: great big mug of cocoa last night in bed. Homemade mix made with powdered coconut milk. Yum for tums.

Eating: pre-run breakfast was banana peach smoothie, half of Isaac's sprouted English muffin he left on his plate. Mid morning snack was bowl of marinated veggies from last night's dinner. Lunch was brown rice with braised garlicky kale, half an orange.

In the kitchen: baked up some banana bread to use up a bunch of those ripening bananas on the counter and also a batch of sweet potato hummus from one of my fave blogs. Really good and very interesting.

Reading: Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. I'm into him.

In the mail: never ending stream of college recruiting letters coming in for Sam these days (he's a high school Sophomore) because of his high PSAT score. With all this attention, as well as the influx of emails... well, we'll just say he's a little overwhelmed. I think it's cool.

Noticing: can't stop thinking about this cozy home. Appealing on so many levels.

Wishing: I could go somewhere. Leave town. See the world. Have an adventure. Like really, really bad.  Maybe something along these lines. If I'd go so far. (I think I could.)

Joy Bringer: Having her come over and visit this afternoon. How she brought me a veggie sandwich and a chocolate, spinach, banana, and avocado shake. (Really good, by the way.) Her sitting down on the couch and us just talking like such good friends as we are. And me going later to take one of the loaves and a card to a neighbor who's recently lost her mother.

Visiting is good for the soul.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Heart of Living

At first, they didn't come
not the running
not the words
not the photos

But the effort was different
it came
not all at once
but that's the way effort is

It might not look like much
when it's first pulled out
but those that do the pulling
they know

They know how hard it can be
to take that first step
to write that first word
to frame that first photo

That is, the first one that counts...
the first step beyond the one where you were out of breath
the first word beyond the one where you were out of words
the first photo beyond the one where you were out of seeing
what was there

What power lay hidden in your moving
What poetry lay hidden in your writing
What beauty lay hidden in your viewing

Move, write, view
Run, express, see
Experience, create, share
Dig, stretch, lift
Learn, Love, Live is a gift

February 14, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


That's what it's all about.

Glad everyone was home Sunday so we could have a little party.

...With a little chocolate on the side.

Crepes are the Valentine tradition around here.

This morning, I woke up to this beauty.

Making breakfast just a little more special with strawberry smoothies and pink heart-shaped pancakes.

His Valentine surprise for me...

And mine for him.

(a companion for the one I made him last year.)

Hope your day is lovely!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

:: an invitation Friday night to join her for a university performance of The Snow Queen. A requirement for her ballet class that we were both very happy to fulfill. Of course, that meant a pre-show dinner (my treat) and the usual happy mother-daughter girl talk. So grateful for this relationship we share.

:: she's decided to make use of that guitar of mine, gathering dust in the music room corner. Determined that she can teach herself some chords and create some beauty this way. Now, it's all tuned up and we're loving the strumming sounds coming up from her room.

:: decided that addictive is the right word for those brownie balls, so time was set aside yesterday afternoon to fill a bag full for the freezer. Tried my hand with some oatmeal maple ones, as well, to go along with an apron for a special young woman's birthday.

:: those two sons of mine, the oldest and the youngest, spending most of the day together yesterday on the floor sorting the vast amount of Lego. Tears filling my eyes, watching them together and thinking about the kind of friendship they would have had if both were at the age Isaac is now. Both of them in glasses, all the same interests. So perfect for each other. Then I realized what a gift they do have in each other right now. That they do have an eternal love and friendship that has and always will be there.

:: Valentine dinner date for the two of us. Despite the crowd and the nearly one hour wait for our food to finally come to the table. Glad knowing that we can find joy just being together, walking through the empty campus, viewing an international cinema documentary about modern day Chinese Buddhist hermit monks. Our idea of romance, yes.

:: for a rainy- no where to go- Sunday.

:: all snuggled in the bed with a headache  and tummy troubled little boy. He reads his book and I read mine. Finished Daddy Long Legs downloaded on my handy Kindle (for free) in one sitting this morning. This book is such a delight- a must read if you haven't!

:: bits of fresh green growth spotted here and there. The stirrings of spring?

:: I think I'll head now into the kitchen and make up another Very Berry Chocolate Chip Cobbler (Vegan Pie in the Sky). It's that kind of day.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

book talk (with a little brownie-bite ball on the side)

I changed my mind.

I vowed never to get one of those new fangled techno-pad readers. Reading that way just didn't seem natural. I couldn't imagine the experience -one that I absolutely love- differently: That delicious sensory experience that comes with holding a tangible book in one's hands. The feel of the paper, the smell of a book. Being able to underline, jot down notes, dog tag. A book's ability to store memories of time, place, and emotion; when, where and why you read what you read.

Real books have character.

Well, looks like you can teach an old dog new tricks. (Sort of.)

Let me back up a little.

Do you know, it was the first time in over twenty years that I, solely, (the stay at home mom all these many, many years) got paid real money for a project I submitted an article to recently. You should have seen the smile on my face, this ah-ha moment when, standing in the shower, I realized this grand achievement. Even though I gladly offered it as a service, it was kind of a nice feeling to know that this contribution I worked on was worth something in a monetary kind of way.

I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with this money. I just didn't want it to go toward groceries or pay a bill. It was kind of a special moment for me; one that I thought was worth celebrating, if you can imagine.

My parents each got Kindles for Christmas.  Since then, I've been toying around with the idea of having one for myself. Could I really succumb? The rational: 1. I could save money on books. Especially cookbooks. 2. I'm running out of shelves. 3. I'm actually feeling the need to downsize my possessions. All the stuff is kind of bugging me.  

Keith urged me to do it. I might as well get the Fire, he said. Me (a little guilty) justifying: "This will be my Valentine's okay? Can it be for both of us?". (Note to Jennifer: I bought that $2.99 Indian vegan cookbook you raved about the other day! So excited.) It's fun and handy in so many ways, but believe me, I'm still staying with tradition in reading novels as much as I can the old fashioned, real book way.

So besides getting acquainted with my new toy today, I made these really yummy brownie-bite balls. I'm so into chocolate these days. (Heck, it's February.)Tastes just like the real thing, only no guilt here. We all couldn't believe how easy and how totally brownie-ish they are. Just ground walnuts, dates, cocoa powder, and a little vanilla, water, and salt. I couldn't help but roll them in coconut. Recipe here. (I had to add more dates. Not sure why.)

He begged me to take him to the library this afternoon. Not only was he out of books, but it was chess day.

Our beloved library is like a second home to us. We've made weekly trips here since Gary (who'll be 21 next month) was a baby.  

I think we could pay for a new wing with all the late fees we've accrued over the years.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Preparing Food With Love: Cooking As Ministry

Food is so much more than providing sustenance to a body. So much more than filling a belly.

It's about nourishing a soul.

I was reminded of this yesterday. An idea that I've always believed in with my whole heart, but often forget.

I spend a lot of my time and energies in the kitchen. It's something I don't have to do (and I tell my family that, sometimes), but feel impelled to. It's a big part of my life's calling. A talent and a gift I'm grateful to have been blessed with: The keeper of the home. The nourisher. The nurturer.

I want to give the best. And that means the healthiest, the most beautiful, the most sustaining, the most comforting food I can offer.

This job is not easy. It means work. A sacrifice in many ways. Some days I wonder if the effort I give is worth it, if it matters.

Monday is always my big kitchen work day. I made granola. I made tortillas. I made energy bars. That night I was back to make a big pot of curry for dinner. It was was well liked, but I ended up with a ton of leftovers. Wondering how and if they'd get eaten.

Sweet Ivana came over and I told her about what I had made and would she like to take a jar home? As I was in the process of doing so, she started to cry. A big cry. She could hardly express how much she loves the food I make and share with her. How she loves to come to our home for dinner. That what I've done and what I do means so much to her.

I was touched to the core.

Maybe what I do does matter.

And then there was yesterday.

I had been given the opportunity to bring a meal over to my friend who is battling cancer. A chance to feed her sweet family. I've been feeling so inadequate in not knowing how I could help her. Wishing I could just take this all away, but knowing I can't.
I do know that feeding them is something I can do. Something I'm good at.

So yesterday I spent another day in the kitchen. Such a strong feeling all day long that what I was engaged in was holy work. I was ministering with food. It made me so happy. I almost felt a reverence with each vegetable I chopped, each kneading of the dough, each stir of the pot. Every movement, every action, every step filled with thoughts of them, along with a deep intention, sent to each of their spirits of love and peace and joy.

Later on in the day, Isaac's friend came over after school. I fed them each a snack of apples and peanut butter on their own little plates and later when his mother came inside to pick him up, she wondered about all the amazing smells coming from the kitchen. They left happily with a bread stick to share and said, "Your house is always so homey."

All of this reminding me again (just when I needed the reminder, too)  with the sense that my work in the kitchen is the heart of my home. Almost the heart of my life. And it does matter. Truly.

Friends, if you ever forget this, if you, like I do sometimes, get caught up in the mundane and the drudgery, please remember that preparing  and sharing food has so much power for good in this world. Not only as a way to bless your own, but others beyond the family circle who need a bit of comfort and nurturing. 

And we all need that, don't we?

And do you know what? The one that will really be nourished the most is you. The deep- down- in- your- heart knowing that the sharing and serving of love this way; those gifts of food you provide and offer with your heart and your hands- all of it will bring such a sense of fulfillment and happiness to your soul.

I hope you can feel this like I did yesterday.