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The Winter Blues

Where am I?

Snow-Feb4-BushesFence2

I’ll tell you how I feel – kind of lost. It seems like this Winter is just going to go on forever. And by the scarcity of posts by the fellow bloggers I know, I dare say that I am not alone. Of course, there may be other reasons, but a great deal has been written about the effect of weather such as we’ve been having on the human soul/psyche. Speaking for myself, the endless rounds of snow every few days and the concomitant shoveling plus the record lows in temperature such as I have never seen in my lifetime conspire to keep me, (and possibly you), indoors. Add to that, those of us who work from home and you have the perfect scenario for a serious case of the Winter blues and blahs.

Buddha2I suspect many of you, like myself, are looking for ways to brighten these 9˚ days. Getting out for even a breath of fresh air is always good, as is curling up with a good book, or watching some decent movie or TV. Each day when I journal, (a mood-lifter for me), I also look for some spiritual/metaphysical thoughts to pull me back into my more inspired self. Today I remembered this (favorite) quote from Buddha: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.”

I am reminded that I am creating my day on every level and that my thoughts and feelings affect the energetic level of the planet itself. I searched a little further.

From The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley: “For this is the great secret, which was known to all educated men in our day: that by what men think, we create the world around us, daily new.”

 

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Now, while I’m not yet bursting with boundless joy, at least I am smiling, happy and more content. I am remembering that Spring will come in time, and that there is still plenty of beauty in every moment of the day that is here, right now.

FrenchieValentine2

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe,
deserve your love and affection”

~ Gautama Buddha

I have to give it to Budweiser. Year after year they come up with the most brilliant commercials – smart, touching, visually beautiful. Their most astounding was the one they created the year after 9/11, which they only played one day, but each year they come up with something amazing for the Super Bowl featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales.

This one, called “Lost Dog,” is worth a minute of your your time – so touching. Take a look.

 

It’s A Soup Day!

Soup-CloseUp2Actually, to me, almost any winter day is a soup day, but it’s been way too long since I’ve made a big pot of homemade soup. I think about it; sometimes I even buy the ingredients, but end up using them for something that takes less time. Sometimes I’m sure I’m going to make the soup at the end of the work day, and that never happens. So, today, (Sunday), I just got started earlier. My soup? A (vegan) Russian Potato and Bean Soup.

I’d been looking and looking among my many cookbook and recipe sources and wasn’t finding what I wanted. Then I remembered – and was staring right at it! – that I had this great recipe box from years ago from Vegetarian Times. It was a freebie for taking a subscription, I think. There are nice little divider sections and each group is color coded, as you can see below. Definitely a handy item to have.

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They had so many yummy soup recipes, and I picked this one. It was already vegan except for the sour cream, and I had a plan for that.

I used all organic produce, and scrubbed and cubed some nice Russet potatoes, thin-sliced some onions, trimmed the green beans, and got ready to cook. I used Imagine brand vegetarian “No-Chicken Broth” which is quite tasty. The recipe called for 5 cups of broth, and this broth comes in quart containers, but, aha! I have a fabulous vegetable base for making soups, and I whipped up a cup of that.

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The basic soup ready to bring to a boil.

I sautéed the onions in the broth and a teaspoon of canola oil, then added the potatoes and beans for a bit. I added the rest of the broth, brought to a boil and simmered for 1/2 hour.

The next addition was a mixture of 1/3 cup of sour cream mixed with 2 T. of flour. I had some concerns here because I had vegan sour cream, which has a tofu base, and I wasn’t really sure how that would work out. The recipe asks that you add the mixture to the soup by the spoonful and blend in. Here’s where, if you’re not vegan, I’d go with real sour cream; if you are, go with the time-honored way of blending some of the stock with the flour separately and then mixing it back into the main pot. That’s what I’ll do in the future. Add in 3/4 cup of sauerkraut, 1 T. of dried dill and simmer another 15 minutes. While you’re invited to add seasonings at the end, I found the sauerkraut and dill provided plenty of flavor on their own.

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Bon appétit!

The recipe for this soup is not available on the Vegetarian Times website, however, I did a search and found it on another site. If interested, here’s the recipe — enjoy!

 

Wonder-RJPalacio2I am always a big fan of these, which, to me, are more or less the same thing. I tend to think of them as quotes, but in the book I just finished, Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, these are referred to as precepts by Mr. Browne, a character in the book and a middle grade English teacher at Beecher Prep. (I will write more on Wonder soon – this is what lit my spark today.)

Mr. Browne found that his students were more inspired by a quote he had once discovered than by how it had greatly influenced his life, so at the beginning of each month, he wrote a precept on the board. The class discussed it during the month, and at the end of the month, the students wrote an essay about it. Over the summer, his students were encouraged to write their own, or some other inspiring precept and send it to Mr. Browne. What a great teaching idea for real life, eh?

The copy of Wonder lent to me by a friend was part of a boxed set which also included a second volume called 365 Days of Wonder, Mr. Browne’s published selection of a year’s worth of quotes on the issues written about in Wonder, which, in a nutshell, is about kindness as well as overcoming adversity and bullying.

Midsummer Eve painted by Robert Hughes, 1908

Midsummer Eve by Robert Hughes, 1908

He also includes some precepts submitted by his fictional students. This is a really great accompaniment to a book that addresses these issues so well and would hopefully be an inspiration to Wonder‘s middle grade readers, (not to mention a brilliant marketing idea.)

So I started to read the precepts/quotes.

I was entranced by the quote on January 2nd written by Roald Dahl, (of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach fame, if you’re not familiar).

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

It just brought a rush of imagery and creativity to me – “glittering eyes”, indeed, and sparkling thoughts. I am always amazed how such seemingly small tidbits drop right into our laps when we least expect and need them most. Or I am just paraphrasing Roald Dahl?

Have an inspiring day!

EarthPlanet-space2As 2015 begins, a song crosses my mind whose first two lines are, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” This is not a new thought; it has been taught and shared for centuries in one form or another by those well-known and those far less well-known. Who doesn’t want peace on earth?

This wonderful gift begs a question … what are we, as individuals, doing to help create peace on earth? To fight hunger, eliminate poverty, and expand kindness to all beings on the planet? How are we consciously working to change our own thoughts to those of greater tolerance, forgiveness and understanding? What efforts are we making to behave in accordance with those thoughts?

Our troubled world needs our help more than ever, and peace does begin with me and with you. It’s never too late to make our own contribution; 2015 seems like a perfectly wonderful time, does it not?

My wishes for a happy and enlightened New Year to you!

MerryChristmas2014-2

 

Let There Be Light

Light-CrystalIceBall2Light illuminates our path and shows us the way, both literally and figuratively. It casts shadows from the darkness, brings joy, and inspires reflection. The beauty of light is that we can find it everywhere – we can sit outside and bathe in moonlight or simply light a candle.

In this already very chilly weather, I have done just that and lit a candle or two, so here’s a little light from my house to yours.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

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“There is love in everything, and when we really live and view life with an open heart (and live in our truth), the light illuminates the way.”   ~ Kasi Kaye Iliopoulos

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“I will greet this day with love in my heart. And how will I do this? Henceforth will I look on all things with love and be born again. I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit. I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars. I will welcome happiness as it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul.”  ~ Og Mandino

 

 

“You can overcome whatever is going on around you if you believe in the light that lives within you.” ~ Justine Edward

 

Light-Snowman2“Love is a weapon of Light, and it has the power to eradicate all forms of darkness. That is the key. When we offer love even to our enemies, we destroy their darkness and hatred…” ~ Yehuda Berg

Let’s step outside and see … there by my door is a snowman. His little candle shines brightly – flickers on as dusk begins to settle in – and he blows it out as the sun heralds a new day from the East. He doesn’t worry like we do about all manner of things; he just stands and smiles and lights my way and all those who come to call. He doesn’t know of all the terrible things in the world, not the dark hearts of men, nor the sadness in our souls. He just holds his candle steady and throws his light to the small world he knows.

“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”  ~ Edith Wharton

 

FrenchieFawnCard2It’s not too late! Order your French Bulldog holiday cards now!

These adorable Frenchies celebrate the season in the most endearing ways and are waiting to be sent to your friends and family. Who wouldn’t love finding this cutie in their mailbox?

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Check them out and see if these adorable – and affordable – French Bulldog Christmas cards aren’t perfect for you.

It starts with something quite simple, same as every year … with the arrival of the Dollar Store Christmas plates and the German Christmas mugs. This year, you will see something different, in addition. Mmmmmm … a sfogliatelle!

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It took great restraint to wait until I could take this photograph and not consume the pastry right away, but I made it. Only after I had, indeed, eaten most of it and looked at the photos I took, did I realize that it appears that the sfogliatelle has landed on and crushed the gingerbread man! Ooops. Sorry, Gingie!

So we see I am occasionally a sorry excuse for a vegan, even if I am trying. But who could resist that flaky pastry and ricotta cheese? And really, what kind of person would I be if, having purchased some office supplies at Staples, I failed to help support the Italian bakery just 5 doors down? So rather than suffer the guilt of ignoring this veritable mecca of delights, I bought a sfogliatelle.

Rather a nice way to start off the holidays, don’t you think? Salute!

 

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