Monday, March 30, 2009

some simple life angst, is all

Happy Monday to you all.

I'm slightly more inclined to post today than yesterday, though still not thrilled about all the time i've been spending in front of a "blue screen" lately. i feel like i need some downtime from the hours i spend tucked away in front of the computer, mindlessly blogging on facebook and spending (though lovely, mind you) hours reading all the treasures in yours! And poking around looking at other sites in between, as other ideas occur to me and i want to investigate them. in a way, the computer has become a bit like television for me, which i'm keenly becoming aware of. i was afraid this would happen once i had the internet here. ... so i'm just going to have to set time limits, or off-computer days for myself. problem is, i'm not a good self-disciplinarian.

anyway, speaking of limits, i need to become better at self-management. i feel that my balance may be off, i've become so relaxed that i'm almost too relaxed, you know? I mean, I get things done ... a lot of things done. But sometimes it just takes me ages to GET AROUND TO IT. and that's an inner weakness. I've always struggled with it, to be sure. I can't make myself DO stuff when i think i should be doing it ... unless, of course, it's something i actually have to do or suffer consequences for, such as getting up and going to work on time.

sorry for my blah mood today, a lot of it is hormonal probably. anyway, what i'm talking about mainly is getting serious with being thrifty/saving. hasn't happened yet. others of you make it seem so easy. are any of you lifelong spenders? despite my huge recent shift toward less consumerism, now i find i want to stop at the goodwill every chance i get to "just see" what's there that i "might" need. gah, it drives me nuts, those impulses. i think i need mantras. i realize that consumerism is the way i've been subliminally brainwashed or whatever for nearly 30 years, and that radical change does not occur overnight. despite my full pantry, i keep wanting to buy more, more, more, go out to eat with friends (what's $10 bucks? my brain tells me, wiping out that good angel on the other side who knows exactly how much good every $10 saved does.) does it ever end .... ?!

in an attempt to make myself feel slightly better, here is what i baked over the weekend:

carrot/cashew spread for a leisurely sunday brunch at a friend's house. i loved whiling away four hours with nice people and nice grownup conversation. also, tentative plans were made for a spelling bee party at my house. i want house parties to happen more often, they are much cheaper and nicer than going out, and now that my apartment is ready i can do it .. and thank heaven for facebook events pages. this is still a process though, especially when the city you're in is still fairly new and you want to investigate all the new places and people out there. i do like frugal trenches' idea of only going out once a week, however it's just not always practical with how "hummy" i like to keep myself, i do like the idea though of not always spending money on food or drink at these things, when possible.

two loaves of bread ... FINALLY, bottoms stayed on!!!!! i was *so* mother hen proud of this one.

lentil dal, flavored with the yellow curry sauce i bought at trader joe's. yum yum!

marinated and baked tofu, to have with kale and avocado salads

vegan peanut butter cookies (recipe below)

this week i also plan on making a veggie and potato stew, and a couscous version of tabouleh. i have a ton of freezer food from the past few weeks, too. i need, after that, to stop doing so much new recipe craziness and focus on using what's in my pantry. it's stocked to the brim and beyond.

That feels a little more accomplished ... I'm going to focus on getting 8-9 hours of sleep and a daily walk every day through sunday, too. And on knitting and reading and homework, quite a bit of those three. I will go to see a friend's bluegrass band wednesday night, and i have tickets to the ballet on saturday night. maybe write some letters to friends. but most of all STAYING OUT OF SHOPS (except for maybe the food one, for some basics)and not doing any unecessary driving around.

I need to remember to be kind to myself when I'm feeling off center, don't fight it, just acknowledge that it's there and then let go, which is what I've just done through all that writing.

here are some saving ideas i'm feeling a need to write down:

babysitting money

tutoring money (both of these after the last piddling amounts on my CCs are paid off)

selling a few clothing items, etc. on ebay

saving child care money from next school year

putting leftover money from a night out into savings, rather than just continuing to spend it the next day

going car free here and there in favor of bus/walking depending on what i'm doing, and putting the unused gas money into savings

get into movies from the library again, and invite friends over for popcorn

give food as gifts rather than gifts as gifts

really, REALLY flirting with the idea of giving up on a cell phone for an entire year ... and paying the phantom bill into my savings account each month ... it's sad that we think we just *can't* survive without them, though. anyone have thoughts on this?

JUST SAYING NO to being in the shops, even "just to browse" when "bored" ... maybe use "bored" or, moreso, "restless" time to see if there's a volunteer opportunity i could be taking advantage of, or if there's a friend to visit with, or if there's a chapter in my book that i could read (i really put reading off way too much in favor of less better ways to spend time, what is it with our culture and not being able to just be STILL?!)

ordering a la carte or apps when feeling the urge or invited to eat out ... i'm fine with saying no, but i am still trying to make friends here, some of this just can't be done by "inviting people over" especially friends you don't know well/haven't met yet ... so i've got to modify it a bit

always keeping a protein bar/fruit/etc. with good fiber/protein on hand in case of blood sugar emergencies ; )

... and honestly, maybe i just need to pair a simple daily morning meditation (like, 5 minutes, seriously) to practice, well .. merely, simply, stillness with the better sleep i plan on getting. i'm sick of saying planning on getting ... i'm ready to just GET!!

I guess that makes me done with this post for now.

If you've made it this far, i appreciate it! i'd also appreciate any ideas/advice/thoughts/support/encouragement/commiserations you have regarding any of this. thanks, you are so kind!

Thanks for bearing with me ... oh, and I've decided to send my extra copy of Vegan with a Vengeance to Frugal Trenches, who's been one of my very best sources of continued inspiration lately. hope you other lovely ladies don't mind ... and check out her blog, it's fabulous!

be well, loves ...

peace to all beings,



Source: Vegan with a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, p. 199 (the notes in parentheses and most of the cooking instructions are mine, karen's)


2 cups flour (i like white spelt, but used the whole grain spelt i had)
2 cups whole grain rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder (aluminum free, people, please)
1 tsp salt (sea!)
3/4 cup canola oil (sue me, i used olive)
3/4 cup chunky all-natural peanut butter
1 cup sugar (i use vegan cane)
1 cup brown sugar (yes there is a LOT of sugar in these, that was my reaction too)
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
2 tsp vanilla extract (i like frontier organic fair trade)

Preheat oven to whatever setting your oven bakes cookies best on (i added this instead of 350F because i know ovens are often finnicky). Lightly grease or line two cookie sheets -- i use unbleached wax paper and brush on a good amount of olive oil.

Mix flour, oats, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. in another bowl, mix oil, PB, sugars, milk, and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients to wet (i did wet to dry and it was fine), and mix. the dough will be very firm and moist. For each cookie (you're supposed to get 12 huge ones), put dough into a 1/3 cup measuring cop, pop out, and place on sheet, just barely flattening it with your hand. Then grease the bottom of something that covers the cookies' diameter (i used a large mug I had with a nice round circular bottom) and flatten each cookie to about 1/2 in. thickness. the cookies need to be well spaced apart so maybe six to a sheet.

bake for about 12 minutes, and let them sit for quite a while on the sheets so they can harden and not crumble apart like most of mine did. also, my cookies are rather more chewy than crunchy, which i prefer anyway. these are a dream! enjoy!

A vacation, working

I have updates and pictures, I just didn't feel much like writing today ... but I did a bunch of cooking and baking! A rainy, cold day, slightly introspective, and filled with sweet visits and a sweet visitor. very nice. This week I'm off from school, and will be filling most of my time with a very raw, honest attempt at making beautiful results from my homework assignment. Please send your positive thoughts my way ... I've already absolutely plundered two whole perfectly good weekends, meaning hours and hours of homework that could have been accomplished wasn't even attempted ... on the plus side, I've been able to do more things with friends and have relaxed more out of that feeling-out-of-order-speeded-up phase that I was in. Now I must get out of this work cloud ... it's not the doing that I'm dreading, it's the starting! so please ... send positive energy my way!

We'll catch up soon ... be well!



p.s. I'll announce the winner of my book soon!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

happy 100th post to me!

: )

on that note, help! i want to make a very light, good-tasting-cold grain/veg/nut? salad this weekend for next week's lunches, etc. i don't want to use beans because i'm already making a warm lentil dish ... i suppose tofu, fruit, nuts, etc. would be okay. i'm a vegetarian (trying for vegan, but often failing miserably) and eat only whole, unprocessed food.

thanks in advance for your lovely help!


karen : )

Monday, March 23, 2009

Giveaway, flock here!

in the interest of receiving more good karmic energy into my life, i've decided to have another giveaway (though the last one hasn't gone out yet pending completion of other lovely surprises, apologies Bonnie)! yes, it's true that I went out with a gift card over the weekend and bought the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook ... completely forgetting, in my old age of almost 30 ;P .... that i'd just bid on that book on eBay ... turns out i won ... so rather than return it i'd rather be $10 out and pass it along to one of you, dear readers. just keep in mind there's a slow turnaround time here to get sweet little packages out ...

... if you'd like to win the book, which is a funny, smart-tongued, vegan recipes book (not ONE salad recipe, woo hoo) ... leave a comment on my page with some inspiring thoughts/words from yourself .... i'll close the comments in a couple days whenever i feel like it, haha ...

hope your monday flew by ... mine went nicely, i must say. must be that sleep ....



Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday, in pictures.

here's a pictorial of my sunday: i plan to be in bed by 10 tonight, reading my book Three Cups of Tea!

happy week, everyone <3

baked tofu before breakfast, made the apartment smell divine!

breakfast, YUM

mini "crafternoon" with friends ... pottery, painting, knitting and chasing after chooks ... and pasta salad with feta accompanied by ginger cookies. plans for mimosas were made for future.

one of my friend's chooks

afternoon walk in the park ... gorgeous day out

dinner, homemade spaghetti/mushroom/veg sausage sauce over udon noodles

millet/cauliflower mash with parsley, scallions and dill ... AMAZINGLY good with vegan butter melted in

and me ... just part of me <3 in my spring dress and vest.


Another Sunday ...

I was a bit burned out by work. It happens to everyone, I guess, no matter what you do. In any case, I'm refreshed and loving my job again after some time off for jury duty - that couldn't have come at a better time, I guess.

I know I'm well again when I'm cooking happily in my kitchen. Tonight, it all just came together perfectly, and I was totally relaxed. Sure, homework didn't get done today, but there really just wasn't space for it in the beautiful flow of things. Here's what I made, mainly due to the inspiration of Heather from Beauty that Moves. Check out her blog, it's fabulous.

carrot/cashew spread, from the Kripalu cookbook: (vegan ... and the only way I'll eat carrots! This is delicious.)

tofu, both cubed and sliced, marinated (thank you, heather) in olive oil, garlic, tamari, and maple syrup. i'll bake it tomorrow and have it for sandwiches/salads all week.

this is what i froze last week .. it's a little dumpy looking because it lost the bottom out of the oven (i wasn't leaving the bread to cool long enough before attempting to slip it out of the pan), but i think it will taste just fine, maybe with the carrot spread on top!

swedish ginger cookies, also from the kripalu cookbook! these are *fabulous* ... and they make a ton more than what you see here, even with me eating half the batter before it even went in the oven (well .. relatively speaking ... ; ) )

the spread ..

favorite drink lately ... lemon mineral water, sparkling, with splash of organic lemon juice. YUMMY "soda."

Tomorrow I'll make spaghetti udon with homemade tomato sauce and veggie Italian "sausage", and millet/cauliflower mash. I'll also bake the tofu. And maybe I'll get some homework done ... (?)

We had our annual school fund-raiser today; while there, an idea came to me during the silent auction, during which two "priceless" items were up for bids. Well, I purposely won one of them - resulting in what was to be the "beginnings" of my vacation money being nearly entirely eaten up ... but I was strangely at peace after winning this item and crafting a huge plan for it. for many months, i've felt an uneasiness, a "need" to fly away to a faraway retreat - canada, perhaps, or montana. but the truth is, i can't reasonably afford more than the transportation to those places. this thing i did ... well, it's grounded me. i literally feel grounded. i'm fine with staying here for my three weeks' or so vacation, i can do all the things here that i wanted to do elsewhere: reading books, enjoying nature, maybe staying in a bed and breakfast and taking a few horseback riding lessons. winning this item allows me the chance to do something that's right for me to do, in ways that are at the same time giving to others and to myself. there's my inner compass again .. just when i need it most, whether i realize it or not, it shows me the way. one more note on this, i also won very very cheap tickets to the Louisville ballet, as well as three free performances (two tickets each) of three different shakespeare plays, also performed locally, this spring. I can't wait to experience some different cultural aspects to this town -- I haven't been to an arts performance in ages.

living room at night

i hope you all have a lovely week. I'll be busy with school, tutoring, some extra babysitting, and homework. on friday, my weeklong "spring break" starts - i'll be staying close to home and getting loads of work done toward my montessori training, as well as taking the cats in for checkups and updated vaccinations. i think there's a local beer tasting friday night, other than that things should be relatively quiet.

i'm also trying to get on a reasonable sleep schedule again ... when i was going through burned-out-lady phase, my night owl crept up on me again, resulting in lack of energy to do much of anything after work, before work ... hence no cooking and lack of ambition to do yoga. so I'm going to aim for 8 hours again, it makes a difference and you'd think i'd have stuck to bed early by now, but no ... so it's a matter of intention.

I've been reading the book Meditations from the Mat, which arrived for me recently in the post. It's a gentle guide toward cultivating inner peace that radiates into the everyday, and spreads to those around you. I like it with the morning coffee.



p.s. thank you, christmas gift cards to borders!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Instant Karma

here are two more nuggets from the book Instant Karma. namaste.

allow others to be right; stop correcting.

choose not to waste your life on guilt about the past or concern for the future.

how wise ....

another sunday in march.

here i am on another sunday, updating my blog. i did take some pictures of my dresses, but i'm not happy with the quality and don't feel like posting crazy pictures today, anyway.

i'm not sure what to update you on, as i feel i'm only just now coming back into a regular routine after all the jury duty. i'm ready to be slow again, for a while life (and spending, which i got just a tad bit carried away with over and above the house planning, mainly i guess i slipped back into the old out-to-eat habits) really felt on fast forward. now i'm spending a good chunk of time on my assignments for montessori training, trying to get more sleep, and attempting to knit and read more than i'm on the internet (facebook is really a huge time suck). i've been forging new connections, too, finding my energies again through increased yoga practice and just being mindful of remaining present and being open to whatever goodness comes my way. it helps me to continue making simple to-do lists, and like Frugal Trenches recently suggested, actually scheduling in time on the weekends for things like Knit. Read. Walk. Cook. and moving errands to extra time during the week so those two days off really are more restful. I second this suggestion.

I'm pretty sure the man I've really been interested in for a very long time (and who I've been really trying to get interested in me, to no avail... "he's just not that into you" comes to mind...) is dating someone now, so I'm in the process of making my peace with that, trying to wish him well within not just my mind but in my heart, and moving on to new and hopefully great things. On the ride home from a nice Montessori conference yesterday evening, the friend i was with, who can feel energies like i can, said she feels i'm on the verge of something really great in terms of love. i tend to agree with her statement, so what can i be but open to each lovely possibility that presents itself? sure, it's a struggle some days with loneliness and aimlessness and this sense of just -- waiting -- but if i can keep myself grounded most of the time in all the positives i have gathered and continue to grow, i think i'll make it into that place of light okay.

i've decided to go completely vegan for the next two weeks or so, to clean out some accumulated sludge in my body/energy levels. i might be tempted to sneak a fried egg in there somewhere, though. i always feel better when i get back to a vegan diet .. clearer, more energized.

there is a new teahouse in my neighborhood that's quite nice. it's asian-inspired. i plan on spending some good time there, doing work and perhaps conversing with some new friends i recently met there.

overall, things have been going well. i'm getting reenergized about my life's work (montessori), slowly realizing i've made more connections in my community than i realize, trying to cultivate real friendships with some of those, and remembering, now and then, that just because these things really do take time, they do blossom over time, too. i was reminded of this last night, when a new friend called out of the blue just as i was looking for a movie to go see solo. i joined her, and met up with a couple whom i was surprised and pleased to see both remembered my name and who both spent good quality time talking and listening to me. the universe's forces really are in tune with us when we most need them to be. my energy had been blocked, and i nudged myself to open myself to become closer to the universe, and when i did that good things started to happen all over. i hope it continues.

have a good week, friends, i'm going to do my best to make this a week of simplicity, gentle on my heart and mind, and little spending of money. and some time with and around friends/future friends/maybe future loves.

here's to visualizing the best, and shooting for it each day with the self-love in our hearts that we can translate both to others and our world.



Sunday, March 8, 2009

i do like to update on sundays ...!

imagine how my kitchen smelled today!

well, it's about time i came on to post some recipes! i also figured i'd intersperse some recent photos, just for fun. i really want to post some knitting i just finished, but it's a secret gift ... and there is one flaw i need to fix ... so .. .not. just. yet. but suffice to say i'll be moving on to another secret gift, very soon! i really enjoy knitting.

okay, the recipe that's been marvelous to me, which i baked up today (thankfully a planned thunderstorm never quite interrupted the process as i'd feared it would).

Amish White/Wheat Bread (i forget the source, i am so sorry!!)

2 cups warm water
2/3 cup sugar (obviously not white table sugar, icchh)
1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil (i like olive)
6 cups bread flour

In large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles creamy foam. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour, one cup at a time. Knead dough (add more flour if it's too wet and sticky) on a lightly floured surface till smooth (i think about 10 minutes works well). Place in well-oiled bowl (i just use the same one i mixed in), and turn dought to coat. cover with damp cloth. Allow to rise till doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch dough down in middle. Knead for a few minutes (about five), then divide in half. Shape into two loaves, and place in two well-oiled 9x5 bread loaf pans (i just bought these red ceramic ones, they're charming). Allow to rise 30 min (mine took about 45 to get to the desired height), or until dough has almost risen over the tops of the pans. Bake at 350degF (mine you have to do it at 300, i swear the dial is off b/c it used to overcook everything, so be careful with this if you have a finnicky oven, too) for 30 minutes. Then let it cool for at least one hour -- i say this b/c i've let mine cool all of 5-10 minutes, then when i go to flip it over and out of the pan, the bottom and sides come off the bread, whoops!

otherwise -- this is PERFECT-tasting and textured bread, and tastes divine (i like olive oil and salt, but i bet butter/honey or fruit spreads are lovely, too! in fact, i have some pumpkin butter i need to try ....; )

i heart cooking in vintage frocks ; )

and taking silly photos when i'm cooking.

okay, enough of my ugly mug for now ... here's the other recipe i've been dying to share with you ... i've made it several times over the last few weeks. it freezes *very* well ... it doubles well (you can cook both batches of seitan together, but i find you must cook each batch of veggies separately if you're doubling, otherwise it's way too bulky. i also recommend doubling the sauce for each batch ... otherwise the water from the veggies kind of dilutes the flavor).

Sweet-and-Sour Seitan (source: New Vegetarian Cooking: 120 Fast, Fresh, and Fabulous recipes (this cookbook is GREAT!!) by Rose Elliot

2tbsp vegetable oil (i use olive or safflower)
1 cup (225 g, or one package) seitan, cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 carrots, cut into strips
1 fat zucchini (or, what I could find, 2 or 3 tiny ones that add up to a fat one, right? hell, it's winter here, people), cut into strips
1 small pineapple, peeled and cut into strips (uh ... no. 2 cups' worth of canned organic pineapple chunks, drained, worked fine here)
bunch of green onions/scallions, cut into strips

For the sauce (as i said before, i recommend doubling this per batch)
1 tbsp each of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, tamari, liquid honey, grated fresh ginger.
2 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and black pepper

* i just chopped the garlic and ginger at the same time in the food processor. works like a charm.

Heat oil in a large saucepan and fry the seitan until crisp (this takes a LONG time, cover it but stir frequently or it will crust and brown the bottom of your pan). Remove the seitan from the pan, then add the vegetables and stir fry for 3-4 minutes or until the veggies are still crisp but getting tender.

Meanwhile, mix all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce into the veggies, stirring. Add the seitan and cook another minute or two until hot, then serve. I like it over brown rice ... but the book recommends jasmine rice, too (yum!), which i have not yet made. again, as i said before, this freezes very well.

pretty soon, i'll post the recipe for my French pistou (from the same cookbook as the seitain), too. i'm excited to receive my Kripalu cookbook (thanks, heather for the recommendation) in the post this week, as well. i love cookbooks and recipes, fun!

this week, i also plan to photograph my ever-growing vintage dress collection (most of them were purchased at goodwills for very little money) ... just because it makes me happy to look at and wear them. i can't wait to make some dresses of my very own some day, which i just can't find in stores!

i'll leave you, as promised sometime earlier, with some random beauty from my book Instant Karma: 8,879 ways to give yourself and others good fortune right now, by Barbara Ann Kipfer.

**realize that your "wasted day" was probably the break you needed.

**be grateful for a meal, no matter how simple

**read the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson (i concur ... i have two of his books, they're incredible poetry!)

have a good week, my lovelies. catch you soon!


karen <3

Thursday, March 5, 2009

been blogging a year, almost

In two weeks, I'll have been blogging here for ONE YEAR ... I am so proud of who I've taken the time to become in that year, so very different -- calmer, healthier -- than the desperate girl I was, searching the Internet in vain for an escape from a world I could at the time not see. I found it, but it's no longer an escape. It's a journey I'm enjoying down a different path. There are more flowers here, and lots of warm breezes. Behind some bushes here and there are people from the world I left, rolling their eyes and making sarcastic comments. I walk on, head held high, knitting bag over my shoulder, and with a sack of delicious, healthy homemade food in tow.

My life, of course, is not perfect despite having made many, many changes in the way I shop, eat, spend my free time. I still consume too much new (we won't discuss the new clothes I bought at Target tonight, curse me), I still eat nothing but carbohydrates some days minus all veggies (those are the days where a potato chip is a veg, you know), I'm still searching for the love of my life (is he still searching for me? don't give up!!), I'm still trying very hard to make close friends here.

But here's what I have done:

ditched my microwave and started making about 95 percent of what i eat from SCRATCH.
got rid of bags and bags of *stuff* i just didn't need

rid over 95 percent of all poisonous chemicals (from makeup to shampoo and body lotions to laundry and dish detergents, and cleaners) from my home

set up my apartment so it's a place that's comfortable for both me and others, as opposed to always going out somewhere

started shopping mainly at secondhand, antique, fair trade, and LOCAL shops as opposed to the big chain stores (earlier comment about Target notwithstanding, lol)

made homemade bread for the first time!

learned how to knit ... i'm now onto hats!!

discovered the joys of public radio shows

eliminated cable television from my life ... POOF!! i don't miss ya.

really cut down on christmas gifts, wrapping, etc.

never once asked for plastic at the store, and the rare times i did get it for whatever reason i immediately reused for the cats. now i use fair-trade wicker baskets from Indonesia at the grocery store, and adorable net bags i bought on etsy.

became more involved in my community, volunteering at a local farm and meeting up with Earthsave Louisville people

rededicated myself to pleasure reading (i have an intention of reading six books this year, so far i'm one and a quarter in!)

become much, much, much calmer and able to better manage my anxiety. i seriously (seriously) attribute this to knowing there are others just like me all over the world, and i am continually inspired by your beautiful blogs and dedication to the truly "normal" life. i also attribute to becoming once more dedicated to my yoga practice, and to regular flipping through calming books like Peace is Every Step, Meditations from the Mat, and the Tao de Ching. And, I think, besides the better vitamins and diet, just for the first time ever in my life truly feeling comfortable in my own skin, with where i live, and with what i'm doing for myself.

... these are just some of the things i can think of at the moment (i'm realizing homework will not be started after all tonight, yes, i'm still a horrible procrastinator!). I'm so glad to still be here, and to have met all of you whose blogs i read regularly (see links on the left of my page). Glad beyond belief. I don't even remember that woman from a year ago.

I've pasted my post below, just in case you're curious. Again, much love to myself and to all of you. This is really the best way, even if we do stumble quite a bit in the beginning ... isn't it GRAND?



My first post (March 19,2008)

I created this blog to jot my ideas for mindful, simple, old-fashioned, spiritual living. Sick to death of this rude, hurried, overworked, overscheduled, wasteful America that thrives on television and driving Hummers and resorting to violence from our language to our video games, worried very much about the future of our children, I wanted to create a place of refuge from the daily onslaught of anxiety I find myself struggling through.

I'd eventually like to say I live in a fairly green home. I am working on learning to knit and garden (at least grow a few herbs in my small apartment!). I want to live close enough to my job to walk or bike, even if the weather is inclement. I want to continue my journey into the depths of our food "industries" and keep up cooking-from-scratch experiments. I want to rid all the poisonous chemicals from my home. I want to find my life partner, who I call my "tofu man..." but most of all I just want to be GLOWING from within with the joy a simple, clutter-free life can bring.

We all have the time to cook, clean, and lead fulfilling lives. and raise wonderful children who are allowed to use their imaginations and intelligence to their utmost without being drones in front of a tv, without eating snacks loaded with high fructose corn syrup, and without being overscheduled to death. they ARE capable of doing chores without despising their parents. we need to teach them to be happy without happiness that's attached to a clothing label, or a cheap plastic toy, or a whole pile of fancily-wrapped birthday presents. we can encourage them to love serving their community. to sing, to really, truly sing!!

and this, i believe, we can do for ourselves, too. it just takes effort and commitment, utmost commitment, and extreme love for yourself and for others, whether or not it's religious.

namaste! i am so glad to be here ... when the flower of my life has just begun to unfold its petals!

soupy healthiness.

I am a bit busy at the moment, but i *had* to pop in and show you this, after i made a homemade tom yum soup tonight!! tom yum any way you make it is delicious!!! EAT YOUR ... coconut, ladies!! (and gentlemen, i know there are a couple of you out there)

be well!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

and the winner is ...

Congratulations, Bonnie, you are the winner of the book!! And how funny ... i was going to send you a package soon, anyway i guess it will just be a bigger one. THANK you for your sweet sweet package as well, which i received yesterday. i absolutely loved the way it felt (and smelled!!). You are very kind. I love Mr. Jake Wildwood's musical CD. very mellow and uplifting in the car.

I did my taxes tonight and got a nice refund, which kind of fills in the glut left by my "massive living room restructuring." it's not terribly too much, but it's enough to make a difference. i'm going to apply for more student loans right now ... hopefully it's the last loan i'll need to spend some of, even though i'll apply to get the money for the duration of being a student. you just never know when an emergency, heaven forbid, might arise.

i did a VERY. BAD. THING. tonight and took myself out for sushi and a glass of wine. but it's been a trying week so far, what with having to be in court each day for jury duty (i was there ALL day today, enduring nearly two late afternoon hours in a small courtroom with lawyers' questions, only to not be picked to serve on the jury in the end, they basically went with the only 12 people who hadn't said a word the whole time, go figure!) ... and getting my car's bumper smashed up a bit by accident by a kid in the parking garage. it'll be paid for by his insurance company, but it's just a headache to get estimates on a saturday, etc. i guess i was just feeling a little overwhelmed ... when my blood sugar gets real low like, i don't think too well and just want to sit and eat ... now. the thought of going home, even to deal with a frozen meal (which i have plenty of) was daunting. i was also upset for not being able to eat dinner by 2 hours before yoga ... i did *not* want to miss yoga. ah well ... this, too, shall pass. there's another opportunity tomorrow night. And there are many more opportunities to say a big fat NO! to spending ... so all i can do is move on, right?

i found a friday meditation class in my area that i'd like to start going to. between this and having decided at the library last night i was going to begin reading The Arabian Nights aloud each night -- well they'll be nice (even though the med. class would involve parting with some cash) interspersions, if you will, with all the homework i'm going to start setting myself near-daily time limits for. it sounds a bit like boot camp, doesn't it? haha. ... no ... i'm actually looking forward to doing it, i think it's the getting started into a new routine for the next month that's the hardest part.

anyway before i ramble on too much more, i hope you're all having a good week. one good thing about all this is i certainly did need a bit of change in the daily work routine. so i'm blessed that it came when it did.

be well, friends, and i'll catch you when things are a bit less tumbly-wumbly.



p.s. i don't know where i got the Amish bread recipe, but it's worked out PERFECTLY! the bread is gorgeous and great for slicing and tastes ... out of this world. i promise, at some point i'll put up some recipes, bear with me!

Monday, March 2, 2009

updates from the jury.

Just a couple of quick things I wanted to pass along:

I'm on jury duty (on call for the next TWO weeks!), so life is a little topsy-turvy ... but it's almost like the reprieve from work came right when i needed it. as the woman sitting next to me today said ... nothing is an accident. how i've always believed that, truly!

perhaps inspired by my homeschool mama blog friends, i was at the libary tonight in the children's section -- might i add, we have a really beautiful branch of the city library in our part of town, you know how sometimes modern libraries lose their old stateliness and elegance and that certain ... je ne sais quoi that makes you just want to get absolutely lost in various literary worlds? well, our library (housed in a small old stone building, yay), has painted its lobby a pale pink. the ceilings are lofty, and are bordered with the names of the "greats" writers. the children's section is cozy with colorful murals painted on the walls. the downstairs is not so pretty, but the small size of the library somewhat forgives its modern brashness. ANYway ... (sorry i LOVE libraries, remember their mystery from childhood, before they started ruining them with "updates?") ....

anyWAY, i was in the children's section getting books on japan for the girl i tutor, and something must have begun to inspire me. i went over and grabbed a couple of DVDs (Like Water for Chocolate and Life is Beautiful), then went downstairs to halfheartedly search for more Japan books. On the way back toward upstairs, i stopped at a small area of shelves where various fairy tales are kept -- and the Arabian Nights kept glinting at me from under several spines. Finally, I grabbed one inmpulsively. Now, it's my goal to make it through the Nights, out loud, savoring their language -- at least one a night. I'm excited. I know nothing about them, other than the name bandied about here and there from time to time. I'm looking forward to just ... savoring. To doing something for myself that so many of us, at night, winding down, just *forget* we can so easily do!

The other thing I wanted to mention is that because my schedule's getting weird this week, I'm not wanting to (can't actually) make up any kind of menu/cooking plan. so i'm getting by on the pizza and bread i baked over the weekend, and .... snacky stuff, like tonight's green apple slices with PB for dinner ; ) i love veggies, but tend not to eat them enough unless they're filling up a recipe. so lately (and i think heather from beauty that moves has mentioned doing this for her daughter), i've been chopping up some raw veggies and pairing them with some sort of healthy "dip", then arranging them into platter form. They're fun to eat that way, and so the veggies go down and yay, mission accomplished. i was so proud of my platter tonight: raw broccoli and cucumber slices, and Ruffles potato chips (a once monthly indulgence, thank you very much), with two "dips": leftover hummus which i whipped new again in the blender, adding cumin and ginger powder; and a blend of Vegenaise/plain soy yogurt/dill. YUM. let me say, it feels like you are gorging at a party. but it's mainly very very healthy (and i don't just eat an entire bag of chips). you SEE what you are eating ... which i believe really does help you to feel full faster. I'm going to do this more often, maybe chop a bunch of raw veggies up a few days in advance of a few snacking sessions, and ... there you have it, easy snack, easy meal.

Oh! Also for some reason lately, I've been craving a soda-like beverage (I never ever drink or buy soda for obvious health concerns) ... so I've been enjoying both martinelli's sparkling organic apple cider, and tonight I had some lime-flavored Perrier water leftover from the canceled candle party, so i mixed that up with some lime juice. YUM. Both drinks are fun and fancy in a wine glass ... and more conducive to sipping (though I've been guzzling my monthly cravings away, lol).

i learned, from an internet search, that the homeopathic "tablets" (they actually look like dippin dots ice cream, and come in a lip gloss type stick) i took to relieve my "lumpy" sore throat was (drum roll) GOLDENSEAL!! it was just sold under its scientific name, hydrastis canadesis, i think. i'm too lazy to go look. anyway, you're supposed to take five tablets three times a day, just let them dissolve in your mouth (no food or drinks 10 min before or after you take them) until symptoms disappear -- well, mine disappeared completely (having suffered in PAIN from postnasal drip for a WEEK) after 15 tablets! i'm very, very impressed and recommend to anyone suffering from too much mucous making their throat swell (i'm talking down IN the throat, not at the back which you can see) and be very, very painful. unfortunately, my throat has been aggravated again by another allergen and by talking so much at child care (loudly, they were wild) and tutoring ... so i'll just go ahead and take more of it. really, friends, try this. it works wonders, especially paired with Yogi Throat Coat Tea (as many cups a day as you can drink).

Just wanted to share those few things with you before i forgot them. Remember if you haven't yet, you can leave a comment on my post from yesterday to win my used copy of Eat, Pray, Love! Comments close tomorrow night, when I get home from yoga probably ; )



p.s. i would've taken a picture of my veggie/chip platter, but i was too hungry and my camera battery is dead.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

another sunday.

morning sun ....

...and finally, one sunday during which i feel completely comfortable at home. it's funny ... last night i was invited to a friend's fabulous housewarming party, but i almost didn't go ... it was too tempting to stay home and knit for hours, feeling at last at peace within this environment i've spent weeks, months perhaps, creating. at last.

i think the above, combined with better vitamins and regular yoga (THREE classes this week, with a fourth one tonight!), have made my mood better and energy more. for this i am grateful to the earth which grounds me (namaste) and to those mysterious forces which are always gathered round us, whispering their love ....

so today will be a lovely combination of reading, knitting, listening to weekly jazz on the radio, bread baking, possibly pizza making, (oh i also have to shop for a printer online, i decided to do it this way rather than face the dings and zings and overwhelming fluorescent stimulation of a store like best buy ... always makes me feel a little nauseous, anxious and dizzy), and letter writing, before i head to restorative yoga later tonight.

This month, I may disappear under the radar a bit. I've given it mainly to myself, to work hard at my graduate Montessori work, because I know when April's gorgeous weather hits the outdoors and picnics and light times will call ... two things I'm mainly looking forward to in March are my rescheduled candle party and a Montessori conference where I'm hoping to pick up some great used materials for my future classroom.

After I left the party last night, for some reason I was feeling very homesick and missing great friends, so I went home and laid on a couch for a bit, then picked up the great book "Instant Karma" -- 8,879 ways to give yourself and others good fortune right now. I'm thinking I should share some of these ideas from time to time. One was to put a thirty-day moratorium on spending beyond anything but the absolute essentials (food, bills, etc.). I may try this for march, with the exception being the montessori conference. I also will probably slow down with the new recipes every one or two weeks -- it'll probably be simple, hearty veg/grain based meals for a while while i turn the focus inward and hopefully find the strength and perseverance i need to get a good chunk of my work done this month.

One more thing I wanted to mention was that I am going to have my very first giveaway!! It so happened that I got to see the author of a very good book be interviewed for public radio ... her name is Elizabeth Gilbert, a lovely, radiant woman, the woman who wrote Eat, Pray, Love. Well ... I've purchased an autographed copy of the book, so I have no more use for my former paperback .... except to pass it along (with the front cover gently bent) to you! And maybe I'll stick another goodie or two in there, just for you. So .... leave me a comment with some great advice for living a life more simply, and I'll close the comments by, say, tuesday night. So ... comment away, friends!!

here she is, answering questions ... i wasn't that far but still zoomed in a lot to get her

my old copy of the book

I'll leave you with a few more pictures from the past week. Namaste.

my new shopping basket, with net bag from blogger "colors outside the lines" ... check her etsy shop out for these lovely net bags!

i asked them to craft a story about their pets. (well, it was actually their story idea)

i've been nursing a sore throat from postnasal drip for a week ... i finally started taking some homeopathic stuff last night (which worked better than claritin, yay!) and this tea has apparently helped, too ... that lump in my throat feeling (pretty painful) is pretty much gone this morning. There is something to be said for holistic healing, folks. ...

saturday night dinner: homemade sweet n sour seitan, and banana bread. yum.

lovely bottle of wine i found .... "Root" ... for putting down roots. This was my housewarming gift.

lovely house, lovely music, lovely time. you can see why it made me lonely for my good friends to share it with! i feel this kind of thing is the life i've craved all along.

peace and happy week to you.


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