Saturday, March 13, 2010

Valentines can be everyday...

I really enjoyed celebrating Valentines this year. I don't know why, but I felt a profound shift and a longing to really celebrate, and let my family and friends know how much I love them, and what they mean to me. So today, almost a month has passed, and I decided that I should take down this big red heart from the front door to put away in storage for another year.

There was a lot of hesitancy in taking it down, I kept asking myself, why can't everyday be "Valentines Day?" Why do we have to wait for a certain specified "holiday" every year to celebrate love? Why not come out of our hiding places and be in love every day?

Fear seems to hold a lot of people back from doing, saying, being, passionate about life, people, and things that are important to them.

I have experienced the stifling effect of fear on numerous occasions in my life, (more than I care to remember.)

Writing this blog about Finding Love is changing my world. Each and every day I look for ways to find and share love, sometimes its in the smallest, simplest ways, and sometimes in the very obvious and profound. I'm finding that its the very act of "looking" that is changing me the most and my outlook. Its very subtle, yet very strong/reinforcing at the same time. Most importantly, it feels right to me to be living the daily practice of "Finding Love."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Little Inspirations..

Guess where I found these perfect little works of art today??? - At our local US Post Office. They are the newest edition of first class stamps, and I LOVE them!

They are miniature versions of some of the most famous art done by the Abstract Expressionist painters during the 1940's and 50's - Jackson Pollack, William de Koonig, Mark Rothko and several other wonderful artists of that era.

I don't know about you, but I LOVE beautiful stamps, they inspire me to write to someone I love.

Sending an old fashioned letter (handwritten and snail-mailed,) decorated with a little piece of art stands out. I always get a little lift when I see something handwritten, hand stamped in the mail box., you know what I mean?

What inspires you to write???

"The function of the artist is to express reality as felt." Robert Motherwell

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Energy Cakes

A Plateful of Energy Cakes

I have loved to bake since I was little. My older sister Diane got me started when I was about 8 years old. Every Sunday, I would help her in her kitchen to make a traditional Sunday Lunch..., Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, etc. and always a dessert. Sometimes trifle, sometimes apple crumble, or blackberry and apple pie... good, basic, traditional English food.

About five years ago I discovered I was gluten intolerant and should avoid all foods with wheat, barley, rye and oatmeal. It put a real dent in my eating and baking habits I can tell you, but my gosh almost immediately I felt better for avoiding the gluten, and have steadily been doing better, until a few months back when I started to get stomach cramps and digestive problems, like I'd had when I ate gluten. So, I went back to the drawing board and came across a book by Elaine Gottschall called "Breaking The Vicious Cycle - Intestinal Health Through Diet." She recommends something called a Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) to heal the intestines. So, after reading it, I decided to give it a try. I no longer eat starches (potato, corn, tapioca - GF baking staples.) I no longer eat sugar, maple syrup, agave. I do eat raw honey and cook with it, and instead of baking with starches and grain flours, I bake with almond flour.

I really like eating this way. I feel like even though my choices are narrowed, that what I do put in my body, actually makes me feel great, AND there's more books, recipes and information coming available, plus web sites about the SCD. This growing awareness I believe, is due in part to researchers and parents finding that children with Autism and problems connected to leaky gut syndrome and other intestinal disorders (Crohns, Colitis etc.) do SO much better when they try this diet.

So, I'm getting back to baking again, and here's a new recipe I want to share:

A tasty, easy to make, healthy protein snack, great for chomping after a work out (or run,) or just a yummy treat with afternoon tea. - the protein source may come as a surprise to some of you, it not only comes from almond flour, but great northern beans too!!! Don't be put off, you can't taste anything that resembles a bean - really!!! Enjoy,




2 cups almond flour
1 cup chopped hazlenuts (or pecans or walnuts)
1 Tablespoon of Anise (zipped for 5 seconds in a coffee grinder)
1 tspn baking powder
1 tspn baking soda
pinch of sea salt (fine)
zest from 1 lemon
1/3 cup unsweetened cranberries
1/3 cup of shredded coconut

1 can of great northern beans (well rinsed)
1/4 cup of grapeseed oil
1/2 cup of honey
1 egg white beaten
1 generous splash of vanilla extract
1/3 cup chopped dates
1/3 cup sesame seeds


- mix first 9 ingredients in a bowl together.

- put the sesame seeds in a medium bowl, put to one side.

- put drained beans, oil, honey, egg white and vanilla in a food processor and blend
till the ingredients make a smooth paste, then add the chopped dates and run for approx.
10 seconds.

- add the bean mix to the dry ingredients in the bowl and stir well. When all the ingredients
are blended together, scoop a dessert spoonful of mix, and roll it into a ball, then dip and
cover with the sesame seeds.

- place the cake on a parchment paper covered baking tray, and flatten slightly. Do the same
with the rest of the mix.

- bake in a 350' oven for 20-25 minutes.

- on a cooling rack for half an hour.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More signs of spring

Before I begin this post, I want to explain my absence yesterday... I was having "technical difficulties," our computer wireless network was down. ( I hadn't figured on technical stuff getting in the way of writing a blog everyday!) Thank goodness it came back today!

More signs that spring is on the way.. (I feel like one of the woodland characters from the wonderful children's book, "The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe," where the four children discover another world by going through an old wardrobe. The land they discover, has been ruled for many years by a wicked white witch, who makes it winter all year round. As the children's adventures continue, signs of spring return to the land called "Narnia", and the woodland animals begin to have hope, and whisper to each other and the children that "Aslan is on the move." Aslan being the leader of the resistance as it were, who has been away, but is now returning to set all to right.) I love this book and the positive message that comes when the animals exchange their feelings of fear for hope.

And I experience feelings of joy when I see signs in the garden that "Spring Is On The Move."

Above is a photo of the wild Indian Plum (oemleria cerasiformis) growing in the woods next to our house. I love this little tree, as it acts as a staging post year round for lots of little birds that come to our feeder.

I watch this tree change through the seasons, and know that pretty soon, these pretty, white flowers will drop and give way to small green berries that ripen to an orangey yellow (about the size of a small cherry.) I watch closely because I'm waiting for the arrival of these rascals.

Cedar Waxwings, bombycilla cedrorum come to visit the garden every spring, and they are a sight. Usually I become aware of their presence, not by seeing them first, but by seeing the Indian Plum tree, (by this time full of beautifully ripened berries,) trembling and shaking in a most bizarre way. I get as close as I can, with my binoculars, and just watch in amazement as the tree is pillaged of all its fruit within minutes, right before my eyes. They have voracious appetites (thats a polite way of saying gluttonous!) I am not exaggerating when I say they do not leave a single ripe berry behind, they are a riot!

And oh, they are SO beautiful, with their exquisite, darkly lined eyes, shot of brilliant scarlet on their wings, and beautiful silky crested head...., like silk poetry.

I could watch them all day...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Making It To The Top..

Well, I'm back into a running routine again, well, almost... 5 days out of 8 isn't bad. I let things slip after running the Seattle Half Marathon at the end of November, and thought I could get by with running once or twice a week and still maintain my fitness level... WRONG!!!

Its been really tough the past couple of months. I had read in "Runner" magazine that "if you don't use it,,, you lose it" within a very short time period. Which is exactly what had happened to me, my staying power was almost back to where it was when I started training in September of last year. I guess I thought I was different and didn't need to keep running that much...(sometimes I'm amazed at my ability to delude myself.., especially when it comes to working out and fitness!)

Anyway, I feel great, I did my forty minute run this morning, ending in the big hill near our house, this time it was one of those "SPLENDID" days, and I managed to run all the way to the top without stopping, this time no crumpled worms, no gasping for air (well maybe a little!) not sobbing, no fear.. I found some fast pumping, motivating rock and roll, put my head down and dug deep, and stuck to it till I made it..., and, well, I felt great, in fact I might go as far as to say, I felt quite invincible for several hours afterwards!!!

Here's a couple of great quotes from two of the all time greats...

"I always loved running - it was something you could do by yourself,
and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow
as you wanted , fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new
sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs."
Jesse Owens

"A lot of people run a race to see who's the fastest. I run to see who
has the most guts."
Steve Prefontaine

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Meet "Blankie"

Meet "Blankie," my 19 year old daughter's best friend since she was 2 years old. As you can see he has been loved up one side and down the other, over the years he's travelled to Hawaii, England, and even been as far as Argentina. He's been on cruises, planes and trains. In other words... he's done a lot for such a humble blankie!

I found him today, as I was cleaning and organizing Sophie's bedroom for the first time since she went away to college. He was folded neatly in a corner of her closet. I was rather surprised to see she hadn't taken him with her, and figured that well, perhaps, maybe, she's finally outgrown having him with her. When I took him down to look at him (yes he's male,) I realized how the world traveling has impacted him, literally he's had the stuffing knocked out of him.

So I got out my needle, thread, and some fabric scraps and have started to fix Blankie.

When Sophie Skyped me tonight, I showed her Blankie being patched up.... You'd think I was showing her a near and dear blood relative that was being brought back to life..., she was so happy, saying she hadn't taken him to college, because he was so frail and was worried for him!

I'm happy that I can do something for my sweet girl, that brings such a huge smile to her face and joy to her heart.

I never had an "object of affection" as a child, and often wish that I did...

Did/do you have a "something special" to comfort you when you were young?