One of my favorite quotes is by J.R.R. Tolkien: "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." Here I'm giving glimpses of all I am deciding in the time that is given to me. Enjoy! All pictures and posts are mine, thank you! Please ask permission for photo use.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

baby shoots and beginner roots

Is anyone over the moon when you see your plants thriving and growing? I suwanee (that's Southern slang--I'm from North Carolina originally), I got so excited today when I saw that my plants were growing new buds and leaves and the ones I've been rooting in water are thriving. Literally, I clapped my hands together and exclaimed my excitement aloud to myself (and my plants). Just wondering if I'm the only weird one here...

This one got a huge haircut recently, and it seems to have boosted its spirits! Today I noticed little baby leaves all over it.

See the crinkly leaf that's sort of below the others? He's new in town! Freshly uncurled out of the stem.

This is wild! I'm rooting this plant in water, and it's producing leaves under the water where the roots are coming out. I've never seen anything like it!

Get a load of this tangled mess...that will be interesting when I go to re-plant these...

saucy girl

My boyfriend calls me spicy and fiery. My sister calls me sassy child. My mom says I have a mouth on me.

I say I was born this way. My dad is from Guadalajara, Mexico, and I claim it's my Latina blood in me that makes me "spicy" and "fiery."

Regardless, that's actually how I enjoy my food--with heat!! At home (not in public, because it's not the most attractive thing in the world to blow your nose into a napkin!) I love to season my food so much that my eyes are watering and my nose is running, lips tingling after I've already eaten. The irony here is that I can't handle nearly as much heat as my mom, who is originally from South Dakota and has blonde hair and blue eyes without a drop of Latina blood in her. She's incredible (and her taste buds are probably singed off by now).

My sisters and I reminisce of days when our dad (my stepdad, but he's still my dad--it's my biological dad who is from Guadalajara) would cook chili and make it so spicy that we were weeping at the table, trying for all the world to stifle the burning sensation in our mouths with copious amounts of cheese and crumbled Saltines.

Nowadays, I welcome the added heat, and tonight I've discovered a mixture that pleased my palate.

These two products combine make a fantastic spicy dipping sauce, perfect for the chipotle sweet potato fries I was using to dip. The Fiero is no joke--proceed with caution!! I'm a huge fan of unique and fun flavor combinations, and this one didn't disappoint me.

In the words of the Spice Girls, go on and "spice up your life!" Latina blood not required.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

one circle

A friend of mine gave a talk at a Quaker meeting on Sunday, and I was late to his talk but heard the last bit, and from what I heard and judging from the reactions of others after his talk, it was a remarkable experience. This friend of mine is indeed a Quaker, and he's also influenced by Taoism. He works to save the planet and all around is a really neat guy. Several things he said stood out to me when I was listening to him, and I couldn't help but write them down during my own personal reflection.

Unkindness toward others is unkindness towards yourself.

When you realize you have everything you need, you realize the whole world is yours.

Giving isn't better than receiving; giving is receiving.

He also talked about how living simply with honesty and integrity provides one with the ability to give more and to receive more. I thought about this during our Meeting, when it was silent and others were not talking, and I tried to work it out in my head. To me, it means that living simply means we're not always wanting...wanting the latest trends in fashion, the most expensive smart phone, the latest computer or TV model, the flashiest of cars, a huge house that's more than enough room for what we really need, and etc. What we're not spending is available to be used as a gift or to care for others. Giving would just be another daily action. No joke--as much as I was thinking about living simply, the words from that Sheryl Crow song started playing in my head ("it's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got...").

I also believe that when people recognize honesty and integrity in others, they are much more likely to trust those people...with information, with responsibility, with data, with a can lead to opportunity, and it might be ones that were never sought out in the first place but end up bringing a blessing.

I also thought about how funny it is that we feel the need to be recognized or sometimes feel obligated, whether by personal pressure or peer pressure, to go above and beyond a simple thank you and publicly praise a good deed. Extreme generosity that stems from altruism is, in my opinion, a tremendous gift and rightfully so the giver should be thanked. But, also, what if simple giving was so common a practice and everyone did it every day without hesitation or complex thought--what if we didn't think twice about acting in kind and lending a helping hand to others? What if we were all true stewards of each other and of the entire planet and all its creatures and living things? It blows my mind when I think of that kind of world...just think of what we could have...

This leads me to share a quote that my friend shared (he actually shared a packet of poems and quotes, but I'll just share one here). It's from Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux (1863-1950):

"I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy."


Sunday, January 20, 2013

the light in you

Happy Inauguration Day! I attended a yoga class today, and the instructor said that America was her theme  for our practice for the evening. No matter our political affiliations, she encouraged us to celebrate our country, our opportunities, and a day where we embrace our leaders, current and past. The fact that tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is also not lost on me. What a historic weekend, and what progress we have made together as a nation.

Our practice tonight was filled with modern songs that ranged from patriotic to uplifting to calming, and most carried the theme of loving each other, getting along, coming together, and remaining strong.

No matter your political affiliation and no matter your nationality, no matter your views on issues and no matter what cultures are a part of your life, the light inside of me recognizes and honors the light inside of you.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

toasty cozy silver lining

It's grey and gloomy outside,

foggy and drizzly and cold,

but inside it's bright and warm, 

toasty and cozy,

with hot apple cider spiced with cinnamon sticks and whole cloves

and a vegan cookie courtesy of Sticky Fingers bakery.

In light of the movie I saw the other night (Silver Linings Playbook),

I'm finding my own silver lining

and seizing the moment to be comfortable and relaxed 

on this foggy and grey and gloomy day.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

tempeh salad sandwich

I begin this post with "YUM!"

All of the credit for this tempeh salad recipe goes to Alicia Silverstone's book, The Kind Diet. I love this book and have used many recipes from it. The only reason I modified her recipe for, as she calls it, "Tuna Salad Sandwich (Kinda)" is because I was using ingredients that I had on hand and wanted to shorten the process since I didn't have as much time to devote to putting everything together. Also, I ended up making more (but not quite doubling every ingredient) so I could use it for lunches all this week at work.

Here are the ingredients I used:
  • 2 8-oz packages tempeh, each cake broken in half
  • 1 red onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped kosher dill pickles
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan mayonnaise substitute
  • 1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
  • fresh dill to taste
  • fresh parsley to taste
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers

Here's what I did

I chopped my onion and then soaked it in cold water; the cold water takes away some of the bite of the onion but keeps it crisp (this is a trick I learned from Pati Jinich from watching Pati's Mexican Table).

Next, I measured out my frozen veggies and set them aside. I put some water in the bottom of a pot that had a fitted steamer basket on top and brought that water to a boil.

I put the four tempeh halves in the steamer basket, covered, them, and let them steam for 15 minutes. Once they were done steaming, I added the frozen veggies and let it all steam for 5 more minutes. Once done, I set the steamer basket aside to cool.

Meanwhile, I went ahead and drained my onion, added the vinegar to the onion, tossed the onion in the vinegar with a spoon, then left it alone to marinate.

When I went to cut my cucumber, I first did something that is another tip from Pati Jinich from her show, Pati's Mexican Table. I washed my cucumber then cut the ends and used them to rub the opposing cut ends of the cucumber. Pati says generations of women in her family have been doing this--supposedly it ensures that your cucumber will never be bitter. I have no idea of whether or not there is any science or truth behind it, but I do it because it probably can't hurt, it's a fun little ritual, and when you rub the opposing ends it gives off this wonderful cucumber aroma. 

The next steps went by pretty quickly. I drained my onion that had been soaking in vinegar and very quickly, not even thoroughly, gave it a rinse (setting aside the leftover vinegar and my other half of a cucumber--you'll see what I did with these later). I combined my onion, cucumber, peas, and corn in a large mixing bowl. I cut the tempeh into small cubes, chopped up my dill pickles, and added those to the bowl as well.

Finally, it was time to season! I added the vegan mayo and mustard and tossed well.

Next, I finished the whole thing off with fresh dill and parsley and then, finally, the capers.

The result is a delicious, nutritious mixture that I packed up and stuck in the fridge to take to work for my lunches this week.

I thinly sliced the remaining half of the cucumber and made a mini cucumber salad with the leftover vinegar, oil, sugar, and fresh dill (I ended up needing to add just a little bit more vinegar).

When I was shopping for the dills and the capers, I saw next to them in the aisle this pickled okra with smoked paprika and absolutely could not resist buying a jar. If you love okra, pickles, and spice, buy this jar!!! It's totally worth it. For those worried about the spiciness factor, don't worry--there isn't too much heat in these.

Happy eating!!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

du jour - 5 Jan 2013


  • The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton 
  • I just finished The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons, a wonderful, wonderful read (and in honor of Downton Abbey--I get to start Season 3 tomorrow night!)
  • Next on my list: The Violets of March by Sarah Jio


  • Alicia Keys, both old and new (Girl on Fire and No One)...this woman is super talented and never, ever gets old for me. I saw her in concert at the Verizon Center in D.C. (when Melanie Fiona and Robin Thicke opened for her), and not only was it a fantastic concert, but Michelle Obama and the girls were sitting right behind me!
  • Daylight by Maroon 5 (I bought their first album in high school and have loved them since)
  • Blow Me One Last Kiss by P!nk (this track has been on the radio forever by now, but I always crank it up! I LOVE P!nk--another artist I've loved since the first radio hit)


  • Egg with herbs on a sprouted grain English muffin. All ingredients are organic. I used fresh parsley, fresh dill, dried minced onion, nutritional yeast, dried basil, dried oregano, salt, and freshly ground pepper to season the egg. I don't buy eggs often, but when I do it's from a local farm, Smith Meadows, that has a stand at a local farmers' market. Their chickens are truly free-range and happily graze in pastures that are not treated with chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. Not only do I feel good about what I'm putting into my body, I'm supporting a local business and reducing the amount of gas used to transport the eggs.

  • Sugar snap peas seasoned with Udo's Oil High Lignan 3-6-9 Blend and Bragg's Liquid Aminos.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

vegan chocolate pu-erh cookies

There is a recipe for vegan chocolate pu-erh cookies inside this box of tea,

and my sister and I, avid taste testers and cooking experimenters alike,

agree that the cookies are

very, very good.