Monthly Archives: March 2013

march flowers

march flowers

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someone like you

Sometimes, when I probably should be sleeping, incredible things are discovered.
I was distracting myself from my own mind and from sleep when I saw this girl on The Voice.  She sang “One of Us” and I loved it.  So, naturally, I took to YouTube to hear more.
And that would be when I found this.

My experience listening to this was:
0:00-0:07 Love this song.  Loved what I heard of her voice before.  Excited…please be awesome…
0:08-2:00 Wow.  Is it really possible that someone else could sing this so beautifully?
2:00-3:30 Stunning.  So legit.
3:31-4:08 Holy wha…?! Goosebumps.
4:08 There it is
4:24… Love.
4:40… Yes!
5:30 No..please don’t end.
5:57 Replay.

Sarah Simmons, people.  I imagine we may hear more from her.

homemade redness reducers

mint aloe cucumberI’ve been noticing some redness on my face lately (well, ok, for the last 20 years), so I took to researching natural home remedies to help calm my sensitive skin.  After reading up in a few books and magazines and on dozens of websites, there were a handful of ingredients that clearly stood out as redness reducers, many of them because of their natural anti-inflammatory properties.

1. Cucumber

2. Aloe
3. Green (or White) Tea
4. Mint
5. Licorice
Honorable Mention: Oats, Witch Hazel, Turmeric, Vitamin C and Milk

A few ideas for homemade treatments:
-Cucumber, aloe and mint got mixed in the blender today to create a soothing mask.  I also added a little honey to make it more thick and “maskish”. I spread the mask on, plopped some cucumber slices on my eyes and relaxed for 15 minutes.  Honestly, I noticed a reduction in redness as soon as I took off the mask.
Licorice powder and aloe combined could make a great mask as well.
-The cucumber oatmeal mask  I have used and written about before fits the redness bill.
-I plan to try using white or green tea extract and licorice root extract as a toner of sorts.

There are lots of possibilities available between all of these ingredients and I’m very interested in any recipes others may have!

I read some things about a  few of the ingredients mentioned that I wanted to share.
Witch hazel apparently has all kind of natural benefits, but some (rarely) do react to it and often it is sold at the store as a toner mixed with alcohol.  So, try a little bit first and make sure you buy it natural.
Turmeric is apparently amazing for treating redness, acne, pigmentation, etc., but it may temporarily stain the skin, so be aware of this!

As I treat my body with more natural ingredients, I continue to notice positive changes and hope you do too!

food in jars

DSCN0213 (3)Deciding to put more food in jars started simply as an effort to organize my shelf space, but has resulted in several positive benefits.
I was feeling frustrated by the stuff hiding in the back, the amount of plastic and the overall cluttered feeling.  Around the time I did my closet cleanse, I also sorted through my storage bins in the garage (yes, I was in full declutter mode) and found a couple jars that had belonged to my grandma.  I had always loved the jars and thought, “I should be using these”.  And thus began my shelf full of jars.
I started (and my roomies helped) saving used jars and filling them with items formerly stored in plastic bags and containers in a rather jumbled fashion.  Soon enough, most of one shelf was full of jars and the other shelf easily holds other items, such as boxed granola bars, oils, pasta and canned goods.
So, what am I storing in the jars?  Right now, I have 18 of them and they hold pancake mix, brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, oats, black beans, cashews, peanuts, slivered almonds, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips,  chocolate covered ginger, raisins, dried cranberries, dried mangoes and goji berries.

For me, here have been several benefits to having food in jars:
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It feels more simple and clean.
And that was my original intent, after all.  Being able to simply shuffle some jars around and clearly see what is in them all feels like a breath of fresh air compared to my old shelf.  It also enhances my effort to cut down on plastics.

Reuse makes me happy.
There is something about being able to reuse that just feels good.  I smile when I see my grandmas jars and wonder where they originally came from.  🙂  Also, did you know that glass takes a loooooonnnggg time (I’m talking a million years here) to break down?  Being able to reuse or recycle it helps the environment!

I am eating more healthy.
You can see from the list of things being stored in the jars that they are mostly healthy grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruits. (non-processed foods)  When I open my cupboard and see these things, I brainstorm meal ideas with them in mind.  When I feel like snacking, I often end up reaching for nuts and fruits.  I have been making efforts to eat more clean and this has only helped.  And…

I am saving money.
Most of what I buy for the jars comes from the bulk container/pay by the pound section of the store and I have absolutely concluded that it is cheaper to buy this way.

The other thing I love about my jars is the variety.  For me, there is something about having organization with a twist of randomness that puts my creative self at ease.  I look at my shelf of jars and take a deep breath because it is easy to see everything  and retrieve anything.  And then I smile because the jars are different shapes and sizes and the lids are different colors.

Having a shelf of food in jars might not be for everyone, but for me it has been fabulous and I highly recommend it!

awakening

“In a way it feels foolish and selfish to be dissatisfied with my life because I have so much…for which the gratefulness overwhelms.   But in the midst of the wealth of my life, I find that I am craving more.  More connection.  More love.  More sincerity.  More art. More nakedness.  More life.  More growth.  In a way, I am actually desiring less.  My cravings have a simplicity to them.  I want to breathe.  I want to exist in a new place…a place where I am stripped down.  Where I shed manufactured adornment and my heart becomes exposed enough to wake up.  My whole heart.”

I wrote those words  six months ago.  It was my birthday.  And now it is today.  This is me:

me 318

I don’t really know how to map the journey in words from that day I reflected in the mountains to this day.  And if I did share every divine detail, I am not certain that anyone would even believe me.  It has been a beautiful and chaotic whirlwind full of awakenings, serendipitous moments, dreams, real connection, harsh realities and vulnerability.

So anyway, about this portrait.
DSCN0534-001The words are drawn from the things I wrote on my birthday retreat and from what I wrote down during Holiday Council when asked, “How do I want to feel? What am I craving?”  Then, a couple weeks ago, I sat down with some markers and wrote them all down.
Vulnerable is in the center because that word has become like a fire in my heart, dangerous yet able to ignite every other craving.  Why I wrote down that I wanted to feel vulnerable is beyond me.  I didn’t even grasp the fullness of what that meant and I didn’t remember writing it.  But vulnerability decided to come knocking at the door of my heart whether I remembered inviting it or not.  And I let it in.  Ever since, I have been either wrestling with or embracing it.

vportraitThe picture is just me.

I decided to collage these words with an image of myself and immediately knew I wanted the photo to be simple and stripped down.

No makeup.
No hair styles.
No color.

And I decided to only take three pictures.  I didn’t need this to turn into some crazy photo shoot.
The exposure and contrast of the photos was created more by me with the camera than in editing because I wanted it that way.
I also wanted the expression to be simple and without too much of any one specific emotion.
After looking at the three shots, I almost took more because I was slightly uncomfortable with them.
But that was perfect because sharing these imperfect photos and these words and this collage and everything about it makes me feel vulnerable.
And that is what I want.

To be exposed enough to find my real heart.
To breathe in my own skin.
To be awake and authentic and alive.
Sincerely and wholeheartedly.

To draw from the opening pages of Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (read the book, watch the TED talks), which seemed to providentially find its way into my hands in January (which, by the way, I just today discovered that the book came out on my birthday last year and almost had a cow), I want to be in the arena of my own life.  I want to move forward with courage and passion and whether I win or lose wont matter as much as the reality that I fought with my whole heart.

I have to admit that I am right now fighting the urge to completely rewrite this entire post.  I feel like I’m saying too much or too little or not saying it eloquently enough or with enough humor.  And that is why it needs to stay exactly as it is…
If I wait until I am “perfect” to share myself and my heart, I will wait forever.  This is who I am and where I am right now.  And it is beautiful.

girl rising

10x10 Cambodia Writer's Trip


Suma
from Nepal
Ruksana from India
Azmera from Ethiopia
Sokha from Cambodia
Wadley from Haiti
Yasmin from Egypt
Senna from Peru
Mariama from Sierra Leone
Amina from Afghanistan.

 

 

I watched the trailer at least 25 times.  And then, I went to see the film so that I could hear and see more of their stories.
The statistics and lives shared on the screen were both troubling and inspiring.  These girls faced (and still do in some cases) everything from slavery, loss and abandonment to rape, abuse and arranged marriages, but the spirit that rises from these depths illuminates a hope for positive change.  And education fosters that spirit.  Though their lives and stories are diverse, they are bound together by the injustices they face and by the reality that educating these girls is changing and will continue to change their lives, their communities and the world.
I could say so much more about the film and the way different writers with connections to the countries took on different stories.  Or how beautiful the cinematography was.  Or drop the names of the well known who came on board to narrate. I think, though, that my most important response is to ask myself how I can help fight ignorance and fuel positive change.  Yes, the film was disturbing and inspiring.  Now what?  What can I do?
Well, for starters, I can share my thoughts and encourage others to see this film or support this cause.  So here I am.  To find out more about 10×10 or Girl Rising, how to get involved or where to see the film, visit their websites.  Also, check out a preview of the film below:

Another step I have taken is to give financially to this cause, which helps girls education initiatives throughout the world.
In addition to financial support, I was challenged by others and within myself to find ways to support this cause on a local level.  Within my own day to day world, I have the opportunity to educate and because of this movement, I will be more proactive about pursuing that.  I have also discovered a couple local programs that align with empowering girls and women through education and am getting involved with at least one of them (more details on this as it develops).
I want to share two other organizations that I have been a part of in some way already that align well with supporting girls education and happen to help two of the countries focused on in the film, Peruvian Hearts and The Anyway Foundation.

My passion lies in creating positive change in this world on an individual, local and global level.  For me, it anchors in the arts and I want to use my creative voice to fuel this change and give others the opportunity to do the same.  This film has inspired me to continue to pursue my passion.

There is a quote from the film that I want to end with here, but I cannot track it down or remember it in detail, but I will find it soon and it will be here. 🙂


photo from the 10×10 media resources page

shells and sunlight

DSCN0013 (3)-003

exposed
broken pieces tossed where
earth meets foggy sky
reflecting
heavy hearts dwell
as the symphony of waves plays on
tossing
broken pieces of air
breathing light
hope
exposed

gnocchi

A couple days ago, I was browsing through one of my cookbooks (Homemade) and was inspired to try my hand at gnocchi.  I am in love with homemade noodles and also love gnocchi, so I was pretty excited to give it a whirl.   I found the process to be simple and fun and was really pleased with the results.
gnocchi ingredientsIngredients:
Potatoes
Bread Flour
Egg
Salt

For every 2 pounds of potatoes (which I found to be two large russets), use about 2 cups of bread flour and 1 egg.
*this made about twice what I needed for one meal for a few people


Directions:
1. Peel, boil and mash the potatoes. (The cookbook recommended boiling before peeling.  Boiling with skins supposedly gives them a little more flavor and makes them easier to peel, but I have never tried this.  I peeled and then boiled.)
2. Add some flour and some egg to the potatoes and work into a dough.  If needed, add more flour and/or egg until the dough is smooth.  (I had no idea what exactly the dough was supposed to be like, so I just went with what felt right.) Add a little salt too.
3. Now use your hands to roll the dough out into ropes.  Basically, I started with the whole ball of dough and rolled it out until it didn’t fit on my board, cut it in half, rolled that section out, cut that in half and just kept doing this until I felt I had gnocchi thickness sized ropes.
4. Cut the small ropes into individual noodles.

gnocchiprocess

5. Cover with a dish towel until used or cook immediately.  To cook, just add noodles to boiling water and they will rise to the top when they are ready, which only takes a few minutes.
6. Enjoy!

gnocchi dinnerI served my gnocchi with pesto and tomatoes, sausage and a spinach salad, which made for a lovely meal.  There was a consensus that this gnocchi felt a little lighter than usual, which I think was preferred (it can be soooo dense sometimes).  Now I am excited to experiment with other sauces or stuffings.  Chalk up another noodle that I will probably stop buying.  🙂

And again, I got this recipe from Homemade by Yvette van Boven, one of the most beautiful and inspiring cookbooks I have ever seen. 

unplugging

Updated:
March 1, 2013 through March 2, 2013, I joined a group of people in unplugging for 24 hours.   My computer and cell phone were OFF.  Instead of texting, tweeting and zoning out in front of a screen, I worked on a creative project and connected with what has been going on in my world and with those around me!
DSCN0527

I didn’t think this full day of being unplugged would be that challenging for me and in a lot of ways it wasn’t.  However, it did open my eyes to the amount of time and focus that gets sucked up in my world by things like my phone and computer.  I began to realize that once I am in front of a screen, I tend to lose clarity.  The other thing was that I basically had no idea what time it was all day long.  Like many, I use my cell phone as my clock and I wanted to reach for it dozens of times to find the time.  I didn’t really have a schedule on my unplugged day, so I finally chose to just let the time go and focus on what was in front of me.  That was insanely refreshing and freeing.
So, on a day of being unplugged, I found clarity, connected, created and felt refreshed even though I had no idea what time it was.  The day was good and all the things that happened in the day were good and as a result, I am choosing to unplug once a week.  Yep.  One full day each week to find some focus without the help of the technology we are in relationships with today.  A friend of mine asked me if I really thought this was a good idea.  The alarm in their voice only affirmed the way I already felt…YES, I think this is a fabulous idea.

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