29 July 2011

A Darling Dessert

"The poet and the baker are brothers in the essential task of nourishing the world." 
-from Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses by Isabel Allende

When both verse and inspiration escape me, I find solace in the kitchen. 
No, I'm not about to confess a dark  and deleterious encounter with emotional binge eating.  I'm referring to, rather, the meditative act of cooking.  For what is food if not the very manifestation of creative endeavor?

Part + part = whole. 

The whole provides sustenance, stimulates the very energy of being, acts as attendant to the senses and caregiver to body and soul. The recipe, then, becomes poetry. I gather my inspiration with every ingredient, knead lyrics into the pastry like flecks of exotic spice.

It is ART in her most savory attire.

I was born with my mouth open...
entering this juicy world
of peaches and lemons and ripe sun...
this world where dinner is in the breath
of the subtle desert,
in the spices of the distant sea
which late at night drift over sleep

-from "Eating the World" by James Tipton

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Bon appetite,

Today's Gratitude List:
  • berry and ricotta tartlette recipe from Pilli Pilli
  • wind-chimes and hummingbird feeders
  • a very productive meeting for work (yes, teachers do actually work on things during the summer)


24 July 2011

Sea Palette

A soft Sea washed around the House
A Sea of Summer Air
And rose and fell the magic Planks
That sailed without a care --

Emily Dickinson

Summer days on the central coast are often bookended by fog.  The muted greens and blues of the ocean, while daunting to the unprepared tourist, have always delighted and inspired me.  These are the colors I dream of - shades of seafoam and celadon, iceberg and periwinkle.

These are the days you pull tight your sweater and search the sands for treasures washed in with the tide, or curl yourself around a teacup and watch through the window as the mist moves over the shore...

This is tranquility. Bliss. The softness permeates the soul.

Wishing you well,

Today's Gratitude List:
  • Shango Banana Spice tea
  • Aprons
  • Side sleeping
  • Cocoa butter lotion
  • The start of another great week

(Participating in Mosaic Monday at Litte Red House - do stop by!)

23 July 2011


"Find what brings you joy and go there."
-- Jan Phillips
I'm fairly certain that the universe could plunk me down in just about any small hippy-dippy, open-minded, artsy-smartsy college town and I would be perfectly content.  

It's what I loved about living in Chico, CA and likely what drew me to the Santa Cruz area as well (that and the beautiful coastline, of course).  It's also what keeps me returning to Ashland, year after year, for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Boasting the first Elizabethan Theater in America, this charming Rogue Valley community has been a thespian haven since 1935. My own joyous discovery of Ashland happened fifteen years ago (gasp!) whilst visiting a high school pal who'd decided to attend Southern Oregon University.  Ah, those were the days! Big hair, small car (the ever stylish VW Rabbit) - I ventured up Interstate-5 on my first solo trip out-of-state.  I felt so...grown up.  So cultured.  So enchanted by everything that Ashland had to offer.

Me (1996) feeding a swan in Lithia Park
In recent years I have been fortunate to share the magic of Ashland with my sweetheart, one who is as enthusiastic about road-trips and theater-going as I am (a rare find, to be sure).  Hairstyles and automobiles have changed greatly in the last fifteen years, but the quirky allure of this Oregonian town remains unalterable.  Whatever fairy dust was sprinkled here must have been of potent stuff, indeed. I am enchanted still.

 Our recent journey:

Heading north, we are met with stunning views.
Why, thank you! (It's like they knew we were coming!)
First, breakfast at my favorite spot: Morning Glory.
This is ricotta stuffed French toast with lemon butter and raspberry syrup.
Next, a stroll through lovely Lithia Park.
(How quaint is this bridge!?!)
I search...
...for beauty...
...and balance...
...and some feathered friends.
I find it ALL.  Here.  Lithia always inspires.
After the stroll, we quench our thirst at Eden Vale.
And it's off to the theater we go!
(This is the pre-show)
Inside, all "set" for an entertaining evening.
(Sorry, no photos allowed during the performance -
You'll just have to trust me, it was excellent!)
And after the play, a delicious late-night dinner at Thai Pepper
(a new satay bar that we absolutely fell in LOVE with!)

If the old adage is true, that a joy shared is a joy doubled, then I am truly blessed.  My heart is full of song! A getaway with my favorite guy, to a favorite place, to enjoy a favorite playwright - well, it is "such stuff as dreams are made on."

Thank you, Ashland, for another wonderful vacation memory!

Today's Gratitude List:
  • a home that I am always happy to return to
  • a well behaved kitty
  • freshly laundered sheets
  • the power of words
  • someone to leave the light on for

19 July 2011

Coming to My Senses

They are referred to as the Āyatana or “sense sphere” in Buddhist literature.
Early Hindu scripture quite poetically depicts them as five horses drawing the chariot of the body, with the mind as the chariot driver and guide.
We know them as touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight.

A sensory experience can be fleeting or remain with you for a lifetime: the happy trill of a wren as you wake; the sticky sweetness of a summer peach; the smell of rain on an empty playground.  “Your senses give you the raw materials for the stories of your life.” They are the doors to memories and the pathways to all perception. But how often do we actually “stop to smell the roses?” To appreciate, to be aware of the infinite messages our senses relay to us?

What story did your senses write today?


Today's Gratitude List:
  • my sight
  • my hearing
  • my tastebuds
  • my sense of smell
  • my sense of touch
  • this very beautiful world


17 July 2011


"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." — Anaïs Nin

1.      Say something nice about yourself.
2.      Say something nice about someone else.
3.      Watch how the day blossoms.

15 July 2011

Pals and Pottery

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent van Gogh

The gal pals and I had a date with creativity yesterday.  A tad bit timid but brilliantly keen, we moseyed into Petroglyphs Ceramic Lounge for a paint-your-own pottery adventure.  Let's face it: we don't often conspire to meet unless there is food or wine involved (not that there's anything wrong with that), so this was definitely a new twist on "girl time."

Recipe for the perfect day: coastal sunshine + friends + oodles of time to discover our inner artists.  Grab a smock and join us!

Step 1: Choose your piece.  Contemporary studios like Petroglyphs have a huge variety of white bisque ceramics for you to choose from.

I chose this oval wall plaque.
Step 2: With a damp sponge gently wipe your bisque to remove any dust or other particles.

Step 3: Once you have decided on what to paint (this part can take a while), select your brushes and colors.

hmmm...wonder what I'm gonna paint?
Step 4: Use three coats of the same paint for the base color.  This will minimize the appearance of brush strokes later.  Also keep in mind that lighter colors will not show if painted over darker colors.  It's best to do the reverse: dark over light.

Mellow Yellow
Step 5: Paint your heart out!



some shading

more shading...


Step 6: The piece will be glazed, fired in the kiln, and polished - ready for pick up on Sunday.  Can't wait to see how it turns out!  Now let's check on the gals...

L's plate is beautiful!
S does delicate work
and Indecisive D finally paints a flower :)
What a completely wonderful and fulfilling day!  Thanks ladies - can't think of a better way to spend a Thursday!


Today's Gratitude List:
  • delicious smoothies
  • The Summer of the Bear by Bella Pollen - I'm enjoying it so much!
  • ice and ibuprofen (for the wicked shoulder)
  • new recipes and a sweetheart who can cook :)

12 July 2011

Make it Count

"An unexamined life is not worth living."  Socrates

We are fortunate - to live where and when we do.

In a trial for heresy  in 399 B.C.E.,Socrates was sentenced to death by poison hemlock for encouraging the youth of Athens to think for themselves; to examine their lives and choose paths of their own making rather than to blindly adhere to the doctrine of the times.   A novel concept for that age, his statement remains unequivocal and relevant today.  What is the point of life if one never questions its purpose?  If one never looks within for acceptance, grace, and guidance?  If we are not first aware of ourselves, how may we venture forth for enlightenment and growth? Should we not seek and understand our individual truths before we accept the truths of others?

It is this quest - to examine my truths, to sift through the overlooked fragments of my life, to evolve into my best self - that led me to blog in the first place. 


And it has been a wondrous journey thus far!

In a recent post by Mila at Here Under the Rainbow (a blog I unabashedly love to visit every chance I get), the subject of self acceptance, of making it (life) count,  was broached.  She has challenged me, along with Family Trees May Contain Nuts and Manana Mama to not only re-examine past posts, but to also pat ourselves on the proverbial back for the efforts we are making to better our selves and our lives on this little planet called Earth.

I accept her challenge and repeat to myself the mantra I am good enough - eyes closed, breathing deeply, several times.

"Here’s another easy way to get you in the habit." says Mila. "Think of three posts that fit the below categories and provide a link for each."  She went first (do check out her post, linked above) and now it is my turn:

My Best Humor Post
Though normally not a humorous blogger (more of a romantic, I'd say), I did have a rather amusing discussion with my best friend's son in Conversation with a 3-year Old.  The world is rather magical when seen through the eyes of a child.

My Best How-To Post
I LOVE food because I LOVE flavor.  But, so far, I have only once posted a recipe on this blog.  See A Feast for Eyes for more details - my plum tart recipe is as easy as it is delicious!  Food can be inspiring in its own right, so who knows? - perhaps I will start posting more recipes for my fellow culinary pleasure seekers.

My Best Charlie Brown Post
According to Mila, "This post may be one that you worked very hard on, but it was overlooked. Yet, you love it like Charlie Brown loved that scrawny Christmas tree."  Mine would have to be Elephants and Other Things.  It was written in the early days (April) of Sunflower, before I had many followers or readers, other than family.  I love the parable of the elephant and hope you will too.

Alrighty, now it is your turn. Please take part in Make it Count.
1). Write a post (or look for one you've already written) based on the above three categories.
2). In your post, include a link for each category.
3). Then challenge three fellow bloggers to do the same.

I challenge:

1.  Inside Out
2.  Knowing Where to Stand
3.  Pampers and Pinot

Also, if you do decide to participate (whether I challenged you specifically or not - all are welcome), leave me a little comment or link so I can check out your posts!  Support is a great benefit of the blogging world!

"Their story, yours and mine - it's what we all carry with us on this trip we take, and we owe it to each other to respect our stories and learn from them." -Anonymous


10 July 2011

Happy Anniversary

Sacramento, CA 1971

Today is my parents' 40th wedding anniversary.

Forty years...can you imagine?  They've been together longer than they've ever been apart. Know each other better than they know anyone else on earth. 

It is inspiring to see two people bond together through it all, thick and thin, and carve a life of love out of this crazy mixed- up world.

I am grateful to them each and every day of my life.  They are my heroes.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Laughing together then...

and STILL laughing together now!

Many smiles,

Today's Gratitude List:
  • Family - a strong one, always in my corner
  • Angel hair pasta that turned out perfectly
  • The slow and steady pace of summer

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