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.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

vegan pesto pasta

I can't remember where I initially saw this recipe...I just found it in my binder full of recipes the other day, made it for the first time on Monday, and loved it so much I had to share! Kudos to whoever came up with this!

Avocado Pesto Pasta

  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1 bunch basil leaves (about 2.5 oz)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 ripe avocados, pitted & peeled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 
  • salt to taste

This is the easiest recipe ever. Cook the pasta according to your package directions, and while that's going on, blend the other ingredients in your Vitamix, blender, or food processor. Done! Toss the blended pesto with the hot pasta and enjoy. I topped mine with sun-dried tomatoes, which I love.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

salutations and salutes

I completely understand why there's an entire series of movements and breath work in yoga called "Sun Salutation." On days like today, when the sun is shining brightly, warranting sunglasses and warming my skin, I'm saluting the sun as soon as I wake up. I'm one of those people that, when the birds are chirping and soft sunlight is streaming through my window, I want to jump out of bed and get started, not wasting a moment of my day. It's been a long day already, and I've got many a mile to go tonight before I hit the bed (mom used to sing us the story of the fox when we were younger).

This morning I started my day at the therapeutic horse riding center where I volunteer. I saw bluebirds, buttercup-blanketed meadows, a red-tailed hawk, buzzards, and the remains of a small furry creature (A fox's breakfast is my guess! I've seen a red fox there before). Horses and volunteers were all in jovial moods, for which I credit the sunshine and the cool breezes. This afternoon I joined a friend for indoor rock climbing. We recently returned from hiking in the Great Smokies in Tennessee, and just as my legs were unbelievably sore and barely fit to walk after two days of intense hiking, I feel my forearms and fingers will be just as useless tomorrow after a few hours of learning to travere sideways on the rock wall, standing tiptoe on the "rocks," and figuring out "problems" on the bouldering walls (apparently it's called a "problem" when bouldering and a "route" when climbing).

It's evening, and I still need to do some work, writing, cooking, and household drudgery (or, as Barbara Brown Taylor calls it, "domestic arts"). I felt exhausted when I came home, but then I noticed two things and lo and behold, there was my second wind.

Do you remember when I first introduced you to Cocoa Nib? She was just a tiny thing, a little fluff of fur. No more! She's grown longer and leaner, slimmer and sleeker. Watch out, boys! Here comes Cocoa Nib.

She's got a shiny new coat and she's not afraid to flaunt it! She's still the most skittish out of all our neighborhood cats, but she definitely seems a little more confident and comfortable in her setting. I have no idea why seeing her gave me a boost of energy, but it just did. As I began to water my plants indoors, I also noticed that almost all of them have new growth. It's easy to see in the leaves that unfurl as they are being welcomed into the world, searching for the sunshine (if you have plants at home and rotate them, you'll notice their leaves will magically turn toward the sun after a few days).

I was elated to see that my peace lily has a new bloom on display. When I first planted it, it already had one bloom that was open, but I couldn't see any others. I hoped after re-potting it and loving it I would eventually see another bloom (I think this is technically called a spathe?). My wish came true!

I don't know if it will get taller or open up that low...time will tell! Sometimes it's nice to see the fruit of your labor. I planted native grasses and trees in Australia for some conservation volunteer work, but I doubt I will ever see the result of that...and not that I need to, either...there's just something rewarding about seeing a finished product, or a positive result, or some sort of acknowledgment by the universe. So the idea of me seeing a clean house is good enough to keep me going. Walking into work on Monday morning and not feeling as overwhelmed by the amount of work I have yet to do will help me log on tonight. For all that I intend to do tonight, and whether or not I accomplish everything I set out to do, I thank the sunshine, Cocoa Nib, the plants, and everyone else who is working tonight or attempting to check one more thing off their to do lists for inspiring me to keep going. I salute you. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I'm crazy about Hurraw lip balm. It's vegan, raw, organic, wild-crafted, gluten-free, GMO-free, and non-toxic. Did I mention it's super smooth and yummy-smelling?

Below: my stash. I've also used the coffee bean flavor--it's wonderful!

Below: when you order, it comes in a sweet little drawstring bag!

vegan alfredo

I have fond memories of Alfredo. When I was younger, one of my best friends and her mom who lived down the street made some amazing fettuccine Alfredo. I could just stroll down the road for some amazing pasta, and I always got seconds. I liked Alfredo as a pizza base, with broccoli, with chicken (when I used to eat meat)...I loved it.

Since becoming vegetarian and since eating more vegan foods (and especially since super creamy dairy products don't really like me anyway), I don't typically eat Alfredo anymore. However, when I saw Alicia Silverstone post Allison Rivers Samson's vegan Alfredo recipe on The Kind Life, I knew I had to try it.

Even I was super skeptical of this recipe. I literally only used six ingredients: 1 heaping cup of raw cashews, 2 heaping tablespoons of raw pine nuts, a little over 1.5 cups of water, some squeezes of fresh lemon juice, garlic and salt. And THAT is supposed to taste like Alfredo?

Amazingly, it did. This stuff was magical. I blended the cashews and pine nuts in my Vitamix, then added the remaining ingredients and blended until smooth. After bringing the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, I turned the heat down and simmered for seven minutes (whisking constantly the entire time, including during the bringing-to-a-boil phase). Done! It's that quick and easy!

The result was fabulous, vegan Alfredo. My non-vegetarian, non-vegan fiance approved immensely. Neither of us could believe how good it was. Three cheers for Alfredo!

Below: the pasta I used, in case you're wondering.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

the birds and the bees and springtime

When we were younger, my parents took my sisters and me to some bog gardens in our home city. We witnessed a female duck being chased by a male duck; the male duck kept trying to drag her, in mid-flight, back down to the water. Horrified, we asked our mom, "Why is the male duck doing that to her?" My mom replied in a sing-song, Mary Poppins-esque voice, "Because it's SPRIIIIIING!!"

The two house finches that have been nesting on our balcony are displaying courting behavior. We've always noticed them hanging out together, but lately it seemed that the male was feeding the female. I did some internet research, and found a Cornell Lab of Ornithology web page that says, "During courtship, males sometimes feed females in a display that begins with the female gently pecking at his bill and fluttering her wings. The male simulates regurgitating food to the female several times before actually feeding her." Ah, young love.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

morning glory

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

~Eleanor Farjeon

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

cheers to the happy couple

I'm home from work again today (although today was a little more bearable than yesterday), and while I was working on my laptop next to the balcony window, I was lucky to watch my new little neighbors.

They hang out in the tree together, so I'm pretty sure they are a pair. I noticed that there was a new addition to the nest: a little blue string.

The female accidentally pulled part of it out when she flew away, and came back to find the end dangling. She worked to pull it back into the nest and put everything back in its place.

The male has beautiful red markings on his head, breast, and back, but he doesn't do much when it comes to building the nest or defending it, at least as far as I have seen. As sneaky as I try to be, sometimes when I've approached the balcony door the female catches sight of me. She'll fly up to the door and flap her wings and make some chatter, which I think is her scare tactic. The male always stays safely at a distance in the cherry blossom branches. Lazy? I think so. Cowardly? Perhaps. Beautiful? Absolutely.