Those who wish to sing always find a song.
~ a Swedish proverb

Friday, July 30, 2010

Balance






















I know that balance is the key to living a good life.  It is creating balance that is the challenge.  Like the rocks, we can build a foundation and then build slowly.



Monday, July 19, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nigel Slater wrote...


"I am not sure why this summer seems so vivid, with each day somehow more beautiful than the last. I only know that is the way it feels. The days are moving as if each hour is two, and every detail – a salad, a bunch of sweet peas or box of tiny broad beans – is somehow more rich than it would normally be. It is as if the colours, sounds and scents of summer have been turned up a notch."
I wish this for you.  Enjoy your summer.  It is fleeting.


Monday, July 5, 2010

A Few Days of Solitude


Recently I had the opportunity to spend a few days by myself at a comfy cottage in the woods nestled beside a rustic lake.  I know, I know, I am lucky!  A few months ago I had a realization that it has been many, many years since I had spent a few days completely alone.  When I was 23 and backpacking through Europe, I had a glorious seven days alone in Paris while I awaited the arrival of my boyfriend.  SEVEN DAYS ALONE IN PARIS!  I can’t even fathom the good fortune of that anymore.  Three days alone in the woods was as close to heaven that was going to come for me these days.  I was happy to take it!
Even though I was looking to spend time alone; I still had plans.  Still wound up from life in the city and I was heading into the woods with PLANS. It took me a few hours by myself to realize that whatever I had planned, life was going to take over and it hopefully would be the guide for my time alone.
I made the decision to surround myself with quiet for the three days.  I unplugged the ipod and settled into the sounds of nature and those sounds of me living by myself.  I got myself settled and the first natural thing to come to my body was sleep.  A two hour nap in the afternoon!  I asked myself to try to listen to my own body rhythms which is sometimes challenging in the city.  In the woods, it seems to be a little easier.  My PLANS included me cooking wonderful healthy meals for myself.  What my body told me was that all I wanted for dinner was a piece of toast and a glass of orange juice.  Shocking.
My body rhythm still kept me up late (I tend to be a creative night owl) but amazingly I did not sleep in like I had PLANNED to do.  My body woke me up early to start my days of getting to know myself again.
I had PLANNED to write for the studio.  For some time now I have wanted to get some words on paper but my body and my mind didn’t want to write what I had PLANNED.  I did want to write, but it wasn’t about business.  Instead, I wrote about happiness, my journey with yoga and life lessons that I feel are necessary to pass on.  
I had PLANNED to exercise each day (and I did make myself do this) but by the end of my very hilly runs, I was proud of my ability to move up each hill and all to happy to jump into a cool lake and practice my yoga down on the dock.  I was aware of a feeling of gratitude for my body to move as it just allowed me to do.
I had PLANNED to meditate each day.  However, my meditation took on a different form than it does in the city.  At home, I “set the stage” for my meditation practice.  Finding solitude in the woods didn’t require a “stage to be set.”  Every moment was a meditation.  I found that there was a mindfulness that was more astute and more refined.  It was hard not to be mindful when life was just oozing all around me.  The moving clouds in the sky, the sound of the lapping waves on the dock, the calls of the loons and the whistling of the wind.  Mindfulness came easier in the woods because I had a curiosity for what was happening in each moment.  It was INTERESTING watching the birds interact at the feeders.  It was INTERESTING watching the chipmunks plead for me for more peanuts.  It was INTERESTING looking straight into the eyes of a beautiful deer and asking it politely not to eat the rose bush, but to kindly consider moving on over to the bush next door.  (Funny enough, that deer looked irritated with me for my suggestion but then finally sauntered over to the other bush.  Deer have personalities!  Amazing!)
What my mindfulness meditation at the lake made clear for me these past few days is that life is always moving along, in the city and in the woods.  In the city, it is all too easy to let it pass us by while we are consumed with the tasks at hand.  What I know is that everyday we have the opportunity to make the choice to watch life and participate with it, or we don’t.  Too often we get lost in the drama of our own minds.  Time moves quickly but when we slow down, so does life.  What has become very obvious to me in the woods, is that while we are too distracted by our own busy lives and minds, we tend to miss the opportunities to watch the grass blowing in the breeze, or to hear the call of a distant bird, or to feel the gentle touch of our child; or most sadly, to understand the whispering of our own souls.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

National Anthems
























They sang the national anthems on the field and etched a memory in their lives forever.

Monday, May 10, 2010

We Wandered Hog Town
















We usually choose the woods, today we chose the streets.      We wandered Hog Town and saw a different side of life.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Homemade Life...stories and recipes from my kitchen table

I started reading the blog Orangette and really adored the way the author, Molly Wizenberg loved food.  She approached food in a way that was memory driven, full of naivete and rich with sensory descriptions.

I stumbled upon her book while relishing two hours found alone with my husband walking through working class, immigrant neighborhoods of Toronto.  Spring was just on the verge of pushing through the dullness of winter and we had the luxury to wander in and out of storefronts.  We were killing two hours and loving it!  We discovered a lovely artsy bookstore and lingered.  I found myself deep in the culinary section, my husband deep in biographies.  

A Homemade Life reached out to me.  The texture of the book as well as the simple design of the cover equally pulled me in and to settle into Molly's take on food sealed the deal.  I got that little excited feeling as I put the book under my arm and continued to move throughout the store.  

My husband and I then walked a few blocks, shot a few images of the bursting spring and sat ourselves finally in a little organic cafe that was featuring an organic black bean and red chili soup complete with a slice of homemade sourdough toast.  Luxury!!!  An hour to read, look across at my husband (without the distraction of kids) and to sit in a relaxed state only to mutter occassionally how wonderful the soup was, remark on a passage of our book or newspaper and of course, shift the eyes to a character that wandered into the cafe.  Bliss.  Thank you Molly for your book, thank you Toronto for your ambiance. 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

She is Inspiring.

She is writing a story.  She looks for ways to achieve on her own.  She is inspiring. 

Friday, April 30, 2010

This Moment is More Precious Than You Think

Trying lately to keep the theme of precious moments in the front of my thinking.  Found this lovely tune tonight and thought it was one.  Enjoy.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another Time.

It wasn't avoided, it just didn't feel right.  Another time.  The tulips looked nice.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - A Year of Food Life

I loved this book.  I admit, I am a wannabe farmer, a wannabe activist, a wannabe writer and I would definately say, I am a lover of food.  This book was for me and anybody else who dreams about growing their own food and one day owning a small organic farm, I would recommend you pick it up.


This is the story of a courageous family who pledge to only eat produce and meat that they grow or that they can find locally in their own neighborhood or they simply learn to live without it.  They left the industrial food pipeline behind and learned to make their own cheese, raise turkeys, grow a bounty of vegetable and learned to preserve the bounty to get them through the winter months.


It was written in part journalistically and gave thorough description of how we end up the industrial food on our plates (not always a pretty picture).  It was eye opening.  But the book was also a warm memoir about a family who took on a challenge and worked together.


This book opened my eyes and I have found myself pausing before buying a dozen eggs, looking to see where our food was produced, and even planning my own vegetable garden this summer.  I plan to take on zucchini, peppers, and a plethora of herbs.  I will let you know how it goes...yikes.


If you have ever dreamed tending a garden with the purpose of sustaining your family, pick up this book and read of one family that did!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Choosing to see
















Noticing the dirty window but choosing to see the sunshine highlight her body.  There is always a choice.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Vibrancy Beside Patina


Love the aged order.  Vibrancy beside patina.  It was a good day.  Felt like moving back in time and I could share it with him.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Bowl to Ease.

I coughed through teaching a yoga class today.  Proved to be challenging on the mind and body.  A bowl full of homemade soup eased me out of my morning.

Organic Chicken Broth
Tablespoon of Miso
Chunk of Ginger
Chopped Organic Carrot
Chopped Green Onions
Handful of Organic Baby Spinach
Red Chili
Drizzle in 1 whisked Egg

Not complicated.  Only 5 minutes.  Yum!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Organic Chick. Broth.
















She was home from school sick...not too sick.  And so we cooked and organized.  We had a day of folding and making chicken broth.  Back to school tomorrow.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Day Free of Expectations
















Energy is low when it needs to be high.  Time to settle into a day free of expectations.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Egg Nest Cake




































This is our Easter dessert.  Chocolate.  Chocolate.  Chocolate.

It just makes you feel good looking at it.  It is the freshness of the pastel coloured chocolate eggs, the lightness of the creamy chocolate whipped cream, the contrast of cream, flake, lightness and density.  These contrasts are the promise of spring.  This is a part of our Easter weekend. 


Cake:
8oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick softened butter
1tsp. vanilla
6 eggs, 2 whole; 4 separated
1/3c. plus 1/2 superfine sugar:  1/3c for the yolk mixture; 1/2c. for the whites

Topping:
4oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1c. heavy cream
1tsp. vanilla
1c. of robin's eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line bottom of 8-inch springform pan with parchement paper.  Do not grease the sides of the pan.

Melt the 8oz. of chocolate with the butter in either a double boiler or microwave and set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk the 4 egg whites till firm, then gradually add the 1/2c. sugar and whisk until the whites are holding their shape and peak but are not stiff.

In another bowl, whisk the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with 1/3c. of sugar and the vanilla, and then gently fold in the chocolate mixture.  Lighten the mixture with some of the egg whites - just dollop a large spoonful in and stir briskly.  Then fold in the rest of the whites gently.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the center is no longer wobbly on the surface.  Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack: the middle will sink as it cools and the sides will splinter. 

To finish the cake, carefully remove it from the pan and place it on a plate, not worrying if bits fall off here and there. 

Melt the chocolate for the topping and leave it to cool a little.  Whip the cream until it is firming up and then add the vanilla and fold in the melted chocolate.  Fill the crater of the cake with the chocolate cream and easing it out to the edges.  Arrange the robin's easter eggs on top, shave additional chocolate and ENJOY!


Recipe from Nigella Lawson,
FEAST, Food to Celebrate Life

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

I had expectations for this book.  I bought it for my husband for Christmas, but truth be told; I was the one looking forward to reading it. 

Just this year we brought into our very busy lives a pound pup.  She was from the local Humane Society and she was found abandoned at 8 weeks in a ditch.  (Who can do that???).  We always knew that we wanted to add a dog to our family but my husband is the true "dog" person and he was leaning towards a breeder.  Thankfully our 8 year old daughter consistently begged to visit the Humane Society.  On this particular day, my husband was driving and he pulled in to appease her.  Once they walked in the front doors they were greeted by the sight of a penned in area with a cute little puppy scrambling around trying to escape.  The puppy ended up coming home with us and we named her Sadie.  She has been the brightness in our family this year in a time when we needed it.  We love her and she is now a part of our family.

So, knowing that this book was essentially about a relationship with a dog (or many) I was keen to jump into the story.  It enveloped me.  It consumed my husband first and he had a hard time trying not to look over my shoulder to experience along with me for the second time. 

The Sawtelle dogs are special and so is this story.  It is haunting, adventurous, suspenseful and inspiring.  It is a coming of age story and a story about communicating...the many ways of communicating.  This is a book that you don't want to put down, and one that you don't want to end.  It is a book that I need to share. My high expectations were filled.  Give it a go.   

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Quiet Still Moments

Turned out the lights to honour the earth.  With that, we honoured each other.  It is these quiet, still moments where gratitude is fostered.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring is like a Perhaps Hand


III

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window, into which people look (while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and
changing everything carefully


spring is like a perhaps


Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro, moving New and
Old things, while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.


e.e cummings


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring is like...


  
Spring is like a perhaps hand.  We walked and watched it unfold.  We felt young and carefree.

Monday, March 15, 2010

They Still Said Thank You























Today I had to work for it.  Some classes flow freely from my body, others seem to get muddled in my mouth.  They still said thank you.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Horn Lake in Six Words

We spent the weekend up north at Horn Lake, a family cottage.  We went for a winter weekend, but it turned into spring right before our eyes.  A lovely reminder why we choose to live where we do...the changing of the seasons. How I would miss this miracle!  The last evening at the cottage, our bellies full of good food and wine we decided to play with words.  The challenge was to describe our experiences or feelings around Horn Lake in six words.  Not a word more, not a word less.  Turns out A., my 10 year old son had quite a knack for the challenge.  We think he may earn a living making up jingles.  This is what we came up with.


"Heard a crack.  Run for shore."


"Closer than Tait, far from home."


"Can we bring Sadie next time?"


"Bring a basket, berries are ready."


"Happy to arrive.  Sad to leave."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Headstands and Chess


So my day started with headstands and ended with my little man beating me in chess.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies circa 1957


Recently my Nana passed away (well it has been six months now but I still feel like she is away visiting my Aunt in California).  I miss her but haven't come to grips yet that she really is not coming home.  Through the process of losing her, I have been given the privilege of having her old cook books.  I love them.  I thumb through them often and I love seeing her hand writing, spills and stains in the margins of the books.  They make me feel warm and that she is still with me.  So I bake, and cook with her recipe books. with her stoneware bowls and wooden spoons.  Everything always tastes better when it comes from her.  The funny thing with this baking morning, the cookies disappeared before they had their turn in front of my lens.  You will just have to take my word for it that they were yummy and always the best when eaten warm!


Quick Oatmeal Cookies
(taken from the Personal Recipes 1957 edition.  Sponsored by St. Paul's Women's Church Year, Brockville, Ontario).

1/4 c. shortening
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. hot water
1 c. rolled oats
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg

Cream the shortening and butter, add sugar and cream together well.  Mix soda with hot water, add with rolled oats and flour, vanilla and nutmeg.  Mix together well.  Mixture should be quite thick.  Place small teaspoons of mixture, one inch apart on well greased baking sheet.  Press down with fork.  Bake for five to six minutes in 375F.  Yield 3 dozen cookies.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Julie & Julia

As a self-acclaimed "foodie" and fellow blogger, I couldn't pass up reading this book by Julie Powell.  I am happy to say that I read the book first (really hate seeing the movie before reading the book), and just this evening, watched the movie with my husband.  We took bets on how long he would last before he fell asleep.  I bet 10 minutes, he bet 4 minutes.  He won.

It seemed like a good night to watch the movie but after enjoying a bottle of red wine with dinner, even I fell asleep for a part of the movie.  (I think it was the part when Julie and her husband get in a fight and he storms out of the apartment.  By the time I woke up, they were happy and in love again.)

It was a good read.  Not a great read but I did find it enjoyable for the most part.  I have since gone back to look up parts of her original blog and I suspect that her blog would be more entertaining.  What the book did accomplish for me was a curiosity for French cooking.  It made me wonder if I could actually do the same and if I could actually cook and eat that rich food for one year and still be able to walk up a flight of stairs? 

I know what I was drawn to was watching Julie Powell change her circumstances.  I love watching or reading about individuals who set their lives off on a different course not by methodical and logical planning but rather by listening to a quiet little voice inside that is encouraging and simply saying the word "yes".  I love that she struggled, cried, swore her ass off, doubted, felt pride, enjoyment, peace and a sense of accomplishment and ultimately, it lead her to a place that she was meant to be in from the very beginning. 

I thumbed through a copy of The Art of Mastering French Cooking by Julia Child yesterday at the book store.  It looked retro and appealing.  I just wasn't sure that the recipes could make it into a regular part of our lives.  I will let you know if I do venture down the French culinary path.  I'll add photos and let you know how much butter we consume and if I too, pull out a few "f" bombs along the way.

Friday, March 5, 2010

"They enjoy the goal but not the process. But the reality of it is that the true work of improving things is in the little achievements of the day."

from Before Sunset, film 2004

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

"We're going to need considerably bigger buns."

from "Calendar Girls", 2003 film

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The idea of living past 100 years old is not appealing to many people because often it is associated with diminished health and mental abilities. After reading this book that stereotype will be put to rest.


The idea of aging has always fascinated me especially since having such a close relationship with my Nana. She lived in her own apartment with such life and vitality right up till the week before she passed away. She was two months shy of 92. I loved to brag about her age and how vibrant a life she was still living. When I read this book it was obvious to me how she encompassed many of the qualities that these centenarians shared.

This book was written by Dan Buettner who's groundbreaking work on longevity led to his 2005 National Geographic cover story "Secrets of Living Longer". He has since become the founder of Blue Zones, an organization that helps people live longer and healthier lives.

This book is not so much a "how to" but rather a book about a collection of amazing individuals who have common threads to how they live their lives. Dan Buettner and his team identify four of the world's Blue Zones; Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, California and the Nicoyan Peninsula in Costa Rica.

After spending time getting to know these inspiring men and women, the author Dan Buettner asks them what they feel is the secret to living. The key to them for living a full life was to live simply.

I love lists...this is a list of suggestions for living a healthy long life taken from the advice given by a handful of our worlds centenarians.

  • Put family first where every member of the family is cared for. People who live in strong, healthy families suffer lower rates of depression, suicide and stress.
  • Celebrate elders in our communities and in our families.
  • Laugh with friends. Laughter reduces stress and is fun.
  • Move. Be active without having to think about it. Walk. Dance. Do yoga. Plant a garden.
  • Eat less meat and processed foods.
  • Lower your daily calories. Stop eating when you are 80% full. Rather than eating till you are no longer full, try eating till you are no longer hungry.
  • Drink red wine in moderation. (I like this one.)
  • Have a purpose in life. See the "bigger picture".
  • Take time to relieve stress. Consider reducing noise in your life, be early, try meditating.
  • Belong to a community.
  • Surround yourself with others who share the same values.
  • Get outside and enjoy the sun, nature, water.
  • Drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest.
My Nana was an inspiration to me and many of those around her. She did live fully. She had a sense of purpose, she felt grateful, she belonged and felt valued. She died happy and loved. This is a true achievement of success after living a long and healthy life.


Take a look at the Blue Zone website to learn more about living longer. http://www.bluezones.com/

Friday, February 19, 2010

"The Yellow Wallpaper"

I read recently on an old friend’s website that she needed a change of scenery or she was going to go all "yellow wallpaper" on us. At the time I didn't understand her reference. I went to high school with her and then remained in touch by working in the local art community as we emerged into the real world. I could always count on her suggestions of artists to explore, books to read, recipes to savor.

So after being puzzled by her "yellow wallpaper" comment, I looked it up and was amazed that I never came across this short story in my years of education.

This story was written in 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It was one of the first feminist writings at a time when women were not encouraged to think independently. It was a time when women had to conform to the idea of what was "womanhood" in all its domesticity. This story describes a woman’s struggle with post partum depression after the birth of her daughter. Her husband “John” was a physician and also the absolute authority in her life. The treatment for her "nervousness" was "The Rest Cure". This meant that patients were isolated and discouraged to interact with others or even to read and write. The resting in bed for weeks or months at a time often proved to be a treatment that usually left most patients weaker and more disillusioned.

Her struggle in the story was with a depression and the lack of self confidence to do what she inherently felt was right for her. She felt the need to write but her physician husband would not permit it. She secretly wrote when she was alone. The room in which she was "resting" became her prison; the yellow wallpaper became the cage. It was not until her depression got so great did she begin to build her self confidence and seized to care what others thought of her. That is when an interaction with the yellow wallpaper began. She became obsessed and further delusional but in her delusions eventually found independence.

This book has a strange way to exude a feminist point of view but it was powerful. Mental illness is challenging in the best of times but to suffer in the days when women’s rights were non-existing would be tragic.

I believe we all have the ability to know what is right. We all have a voice that will guide us in the direction that serves us best. Tragedy comes when that voice is impaired by either mental illness or by a learned oppression of our society or surroundings.

To be able to be free to feel what we are feeling is the ticket. Nobody should be robbed of this. And from time to time, we all need a change of scenery as my friend mentioned, so that we also don't feel trapped by the designs of our own "yellow wallpaper"!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"...nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands."

e.e. cummings

World Without End

I finally finished this book "World Without End" by Ken Follett.  I have heard it referred to the "Book Without End"...it is long but worth the read.  I did find myself waiting for it to be done (if only to lessen the burden of holding the book each night) but ultimately enjoyed the journey.  If you were a fan of "Pillars of the Earth" you should definitely put the time into this book.  I would recommend reading the soft cover edition however.  It was a little heavy to hold in bed after a long day!

Set in the fourteenth century but written for contemporary readers; the enjoyment for me was feeling the characters slowly settle into my imagination each night and then enjoying the ride of the ups and downs of their fascinating lives.  Full of love, sex, violence, human weakness and human strengths.  Women continue to live strong even in a time where male dominance is the only way.  It leaves you thankful to be born in this age!  Give it a go and let me know what you think.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Crepes for Carnival




Spent an hour making crepes to help my children celebrate Quebec's Winter Carnival.  Every year their wonderful school puts together a week celebration of Carnival to learn about the traditions, practice their french and simply to have fun.  I helped them out by making a bunch of crepes for a taste test at school. 

It was a lovely morning in the sunshine of my kitchen and a basic crepe recipe.  I was able to sneak a few for a little lunch myself.

Basic Crepes

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. melted butter

Mix in a bowl using a wire whisk or mixer, first combining flour and eggs and adding liquid gradually.  Beat until smooth and add remaining ingredients.  Let rest for 15 minutes.

Makes approximately eight 8" crepes.