Tuesday, August 16, 2011

happy colors

This is another one of those "neither here nor there" posts.

I have an odd quirk about using words that one would typically use to describe people (or pets) for inanimate objects instead. Like the adjective "happy". I remember a trip I took with college friends, and there was a day when we went to the local market to buy strawberries. And I commented that they looked like such "happy fruits". And my friends just laughed with amusement. I also have "happy mugs" - a really large striped mug that I use for my morning tea, and this "Goddess" mug given to me by this friend. I have "happy paper" for writing snail mail or printing out fun stuff. Strange, I know.

Oh, and I also have "happy colors." Like this orange and turquoise combination below.

Ah, the joy.

I know. It doesn't take much.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

good stuff to think about

Every week, I receive an e-newsletter from life coach Cheryl Richardson. If you would like to subscribe, you can click here. In the meantime, the questions in this week's email really grabbed my attention:

  • If this were my last hour on earth, would I be happy with how I've spent my time today, this week, or this year?
  • Would I feel good about the priorities I'm focused on right now at this point in my life?
  • Do I feel complete and at peace with the people who matter most?
(from Cheryl Richardson)

In such busy times, it's important to step back and regroup every now and then... and act on these questions every possible moment.

With that in mind...

I confess to being an Internet junkie. I love reading food blogs, design blogs, looking at photography... and I know that when I can't sleep at night--which happens often-- blog-surfing has become my habit (I need an intervention for this one.). Much of my work also revolves around being on the computer. A. usually has an earlier bedtime than I do, as he has a more regular, be-at-work-by-9-am kind of job (I won't call it a 9 to 5 job as he certainly works waaay more hours than that). But tonight I had to stay up later for my brother's Skype call from half a world away. So in those 30 minutes of waiting for my Skype call, instead of more Internet surfing or more computer work which I may be inclined to do, I took that opportunity to snuggle with A. as he drifted off to sleep. Sounds simple, I know... but in that moment, I can say that I spent that half hour of my life in the most meaningful way possible.

Interestingly, when I did my first-ever photo exhibit, I named my collection "Every Moment Counts". I guess I used that phrase for a reason. A reminder. That life is too short to eat bad food (yeah I know I had to say that first), say unkind words, or sweat the small stuff. I'm constantly learning about the last one, that's for sure.

Are you content with how you've spent your time today?

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

spur of the moment trip

Last week A. and I took a trip to New Jersey and New York on a spur of the moment. He went to visit a childhood friend who is based in the UK and was in town for a business trip, and I went to see my brother and his family as well as my friend CD. When we arrived at my brother's house, my nephews' Monopoly game was already set on the coffee table, ready for us. I love my nephews. They are growing fast, and I'd like to think that they still enjoy spending time with their aunts and uncles, who are now relatively "oldies". :)

I love how kids never seem to tire of markers. Below is my niece, who turns two three this weekend (why do babies grow so fast???). I had so much fun with her.

She can draw a circle! And she has a tripod grasp!

(I know... I'm such a teacher.)

When I go to New Jersey, I usually like taking day trips to New York city -- not so much to see the touristy sights anymore, but to see friends and try out different restaurants. I wouldn't necessarily want to live there -- I like my peace and quiet at the end of the day... and I like lots of green. But it's always fun to visit and feel the unstoppable energy of the city.

The food... mmm. For dinner we went to the Upper East Side to Candle 79, an organic, all-vegan, farm-to-table restaurant.

My drink: Green Goddess. Juiced dark leafy greens and fruit. Yes I do like drinking my greens.

A round of complimentary amuse bouche, with assorted chopped fruit in a sweet, tangy, and spicy dressing. Great for waking up the palate.

Seitan chimichurri. It was very tender, and had great texture, plus the tartness and tang of the chimichurri sauce - it must have been marinated in it as well. The char on the seitan was quite interesting, and it strangely transported me to my childhood when we would eat Filipino-style barbecue during my meat-eating days. I don't usually eat faux meat or meat-like substitutes on a regular basis, favoring beans and legumes as my protein source (being weary of the processed soy that is usually in meat substitutes), but seitan is primarily from wheat gluten. And, when eating out I always try to choose things I don't make at home.

Vegetarian paella (!) with seitan and mushrooms. It was a toss-up between this and ravioli with cashew ricotta. But our Spanish restaurant here in Cleveland only serves paella with meat and/or seafood, and the server said the paella portion was "big". Um, I finished the entire thing. I would have loved it even better if it was served more authentically in a paellera, where some of the rice sticks to the bottom of the pan and becomes chewy and crusty. But the flavor was very good - I could taste the smoky paprika, and the mushrooms added a lot of body to the dish. I would have liked a little more saffron flavor, but otherwise it was delicious - and beautifully presented.

The next day - brunch/lunch at Taco Taco, recommended by my friend who was showing us her favorite "hole in the wall" places.

Taco Taco is not quite as small as a "hole in the wall" but they are big on flavor and freshness.

 Praises for Taco Taco from Bobby Flay!

Guacamole. I could eat avocado every day...

Grilled corn on the cob with cotija cheese, cilantro, chile salt, and lime. Finally - I have been looking for a restaurant that serves Mexican-style grilled corn! We aren't allowed to have a grill in our apartment, so this was such a treat. Yes, I am a messy corn eater.

Vegetarian soft tacos. I love how it focused on vegetables and not on cheese as the main ingredient the way some "vegetarian" substitutes do (uh, isn't there a reason it's called "vegetarian"??).

Here, the spinach was wilted just perfectly, and the leaves remained bright green. The mushrooms were earthy and flavorful, the cilantro was fresh. (Nothing kills a dish like cilantro that is past its prime.)

 And as if that wasn't enough...


When I lived in Cincinnati, I used to go to this frozen yogurt place called Yagoot, which was dangerously within walking distance from my home. I've been missing it, and our fro-yo place here (which shall remain unnamed) isn't quite the same...so we stopped at Pinkberry for mango frozen yogurt. And I thought I was already full.

Mango frozen yogurt with fresh mango and waffle cone pieces. I like that they have a "mini" size. I could have eaten more, but after that Mexican lunch this was all I could fit in the remaining crevices of my stomach.

So, with full bellies we started the seven-hour drive home. Thankfully, being a Sunday, NYC traffic was bearable, and we were able to get out of the city without delays.

A couple of days ago I found out that my car wouldn't start. Everything was off (lights, radio, AC, etc) and nothing would switch back on. My battery was dead. Made me so very glad and thankful that we made it back home without any car trouble!

Interestingly, on our way back from New York, I saw a large building off I-80 (not sure if it was still in NJ or PA, but if I remember right it was pretty close to the border) with a sign that reads "Powerhouse Eatery". I wish I took a photo, but as we were driving on the highway I couldn't get my camera or my phone fast enough. Powerhouse Eatery. I think that sums up our quick weekend trip!

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Disturb us, O Lord

Disturb us, O Lord
when we are too well-pleased with ourselves
when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, O Lord
when with the abundance of things we possess,
we have lost our thirst for the water of life
when, having fallen in love with time,
we have ceased to dream of eternity
and in our efforts to build a new earth,
we have allowed our vision of Heaven to grow dim.

Stir us, O Lord
to dare more boldly, to venture into wider seas
where storms show Thy mastery,
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes
and invited the brave to follow.

Push us into the future
with strength, courage, hope, and love.

Written by Sir Francis Drake, 16th century explorer

This prayer, shared with me by a dear friend years ago, always resonated with me... and even more so today as I continue to think about the presence of Spirit in all aspects of my life - work, play, relationships, art.

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Monday, August 1, 2011


Ok, so it's been two times in a row - by two different people, in two different places - that I've heard the question (or variations of the question), "how does the Spirit move you?" or "how is the Spirit present in your life?"


I've written about this before in an old post. Funny how it's coming back. Like "God Winks," as a dear friend calls it (Thanks, N.).

Then, in a yoga class last week, the instructor talked about purna, which is a Sanskrit word that can be translated to "completion" or "fullness". We recently went through some very HOT days here in Cleveland (which to me was quite a surprise considering how much snow we get in the winter). And in relation to the recent heat wave and the fullest expression of summer, she then posed a question about our fullest expression as individuals. I see this as the meaningful exploration and use of my gifts - of that sense of Spirit moving me and being present in my life.

More to think about...

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