Friday, April 29, 2011

full of promise

We the people love beginnings. Yet for all of the attendant anticipation, promise and hope, they're so fleeting. Except for a pomp here and a circumstance there, life mainly happens in the ever after. Happily, every 24 hours presents a shining new opportunity to love and cherish each other and the world around us. So toss the birdseed and pour the bubbly: today really is the most important day of your life.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

good intentions

The intent was to have an impromptu Saturday morning brunch to celebrate Italia's 18th birthday. The icing was having Ali's Dad, who teaches yoga at the Y, come by and give these yoga-loving girls a mini-lesson they could takeaway and repeat any time, anywhere, as they prepare to leap from high school into the bigger world. Even Cocoa got in on the act by rolling around in the backyard with her paws in the air, the original Down Dog pose! There were strawberry smoothies before, a big breakfast after, and then vanilla cupcakes sprinkled with pastel candies. There was laughter and friendship. Everyone stretched and breathed and learned about choosing an intention before hitting the mat. "Think about something you need in your life at this moment," Tracy told them. "Is it peace? Courage? Inner strength to deal with a problem? Joy? Whatever it is, keep that in your mind as you do the yoga poses."

Intention is a concept that keeps bubbling up in my life these days and maybe in yours, too. Living with it, to be precise: an aim or purpose, a directing of the mind to a desired outcome. A powerful, attentive awareness that can be applied not only to yoga, but to work, chores, learning, relaxation, relationships, all of life. It was a very enlightening birthday celebration. What a gift we give to ourselves by living with intention.

Monday, April 25, 2011

create a great day

Got a case of the Mondays? Speaking from experience, precautionary measures must be taken to ward off this dreaded malaise. Breathe deep and stretch. Have something super healthy for breakfast, preferably sprinkled with berries for an antioxidant boost. Double up on the Vitamin C (c for cappuccino and creativity). Dress brightly. Accessorize with a smile and a positive attitude. Treat self and others with tender loving kindness. Put a small vase of freshly cut mint on the desk for a boost of aromatic energy. Put your heart into the day's activities. It'll be Tuesday before we know it. In which case, repeat.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter tidings

"We must go rejoicing in the blessings of this world, chief of which is the mystery, the magic, the majesty, and the miracle that is life." - Wyatt Cooper

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Most somber of days. According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus was sentenced to death at approximately nine in the morning on Good Friday and the terrible ordeal culminated at three o'clock that afternoon. Today at church we will shuffle as a group through the Stations of the Cross, tracing the events of that tragic day. A big wooden cross will be dragged among us from one station to the next. The service always ends in the garden where my Dad and so many other loved ones are buried. Such a stark commemoration there among the beauty of dogwood trees, Lenten roses and azaleas. And, today, beneath bleak gray skies and teardrops of rain.
(Christ Carrying the Cross by El Greco - Domenikos Theotokopoulos, 1580)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

happy meals

How did homemade become just a wistful, nostalgic idea associated with aproned generations gone by? Why have we become so accepting of additives, chemicals and flavorings that we've nearly let our collective health go to hell in a picnic basket? Have we fooled ourselves into thinking we don't have the time, energy and wherewithal to get a meal on the table? That's it's just too much trouble? That eating out is faster, more fun and sometimes even cheaper? I sure have. So I took three minutes and brainstormed the list of favorite breakfast, lunch and anytime recipes below. Inexpensive. Fairly nutritious. Simple. Delicious. Quick. May it inspire you to rise above the kitchen quandary. Food is a main ingredient of life. Have the happier meal.

oatmeal with butter & brown sugar
buttered toast with a poached egg on top
crunchy peanut butter on a banana
apples and brie and almonds
yogurt and a tangerine
a bacon & Swiss quiche
spinach salad with strawberries & citrus dressing
prosciutto-wrapped roasted asparagus spears
marinated broccoli cauliflower salad
Greek salad in a pita pocket
a grilled cheese sandwich
hummus & carrots
black bean soup
tomato basil pie
lemon pasta
an omelet
(you can order this sweet recipe box from Sugar Paper)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

taste of spring

No wonder Mr. McGregor chased Peter Rabbit out of his garden . . . he undoubtedly knew the deliciousness of a salad made with just-picked lettuce. There's nothing like it to satisfy a craving to live healthy. Ours isn't a poster family for the perfect diet, but I do believe that what happens in the kitchen makes a whole lot of difference in the all-around wholeness of life. If I keep things there simple, fresh, made from scratch (and especially with love, as the wonderful Jamie Oliver likes to say), maybe those same attributes will spill over into my work and relationships. A great place to start is with this salad dressing recipe by Jamie. Couldn't be easier. Just shake the ingredients together in an empty jam jar and drizzle over spring greens.

Mustard & Herb Vinegar Dressing

6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red or white wine herb vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
(image is from Walter's garden, Ridgewood Ave.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

spreading the word

Here's the dish on a recent project at StewartMarr, a campaign for Augusta's Pimento Cheese. Traditionally served on crackers or celery, and famous for it's cameo sandwich appearance at the Master's Golf Tournament, pimento cheese is a southern classic that is capturing the fancy of foodies everywhere these days. The best way to describe it? A dollop of delicious. We're helping Suzie Lowe spread her Grandmother Augusta's special family recipe to a new generation and a wider audience. Like the ad says, y'all are in for a treat.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

held in the palm of a hand

On Palm Sunday morning eighteen years ago, Italia was born. A living, breathing, mewing, sacred symbol of resurrection in my own life, which had shut down months earlier when my father died very unexpectedly and very young. It wasn't as if a pink bundle dropped from the heavens and all was well, but she was such a blatant harbinger of hope that all I could do was power forward in faith. I was recently stunned to learn that grief shifts according to a seven-year cycle, which is when I distinctly remember noticing something akin to a peace that passeth understanding. It comes and goes, but once you know that feeling, you know what to crawl toward when you lose it. Palm Sunday starts out so triumphantly and culminates in devastation. It's a familiar scenario to all of us, again and again throughout life, in ways ranging from small to all-encompassing. Pain, disbelief, mourning, emptiness. Life as we knew it, coming to an end. Then, Easter.

Friday, April 15, 2011

the perfect accessory for spring

Why is it such a backhanded compliment to say that a person wears rose-colored glasses? I'm re-thinking this quasi-negative vibe and have decided that these individuals are the lucky ones. And probably a whole lot more enlightened than most of us. I seem to have misplaced my pair some time ago, the fashion statement I made so faithfully as a girl growing up in Florida, and later as a college student and a young adult, wife, mother. Then the years layered on their responsibilities and worry, stress, busyness and pressure (some real, much of it cooked up), transitions, change. There was loss and the sucker punch of grief. But such joy, too. Now I understand that the people who rise above it all to remain cheerful and hopeful in life are to be admired, commended and emulated. It's hard work and it takes faith, childlike wonder and the wisdom of a sage. Sometimes I've felt like I was wearing blinders on my eyes more than anything else and that's a regret. But not any more. The rose-colored glasses are going back on. I can see clearly now.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

faith song

A bird's song already exists inside the egg in a nest. While I'm not capturing his eloquence whatsoever, this is a take-away thought from a beautiful message by Episcopal priest, Jungian analyst and writer Pittman McGehee who visited Christ Church this weekend. As I understood it, the bird's song is the divine that is present within each of us even before we are born - our gifts, that which gives our lives meaning, our truest self - and we are called to bring this forth in our life. I sat outside in the April sun most of the afternoon, listening to the birds. And hoping to hear a few notes of my own.
(Plate 424 of Birds of America by John James Audubon depicting I. Lazuli Finch - . Crimson-necked Bull-Finch - . Gray-crowned Linnet - . Cow-pen Bird - . Evening Grosbeak - . Brown Longspur)