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.

Monday, July 29, 2013


While in England, I watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on DVD with my cousins. It was such a fun, moving film, with wonderful actors and a beautiful setting. Penelope Wilton's character, Jean, is probably the least favorite character in the eyes of most viewers. I won't give anything away if you haven't seen the movie, but she's highly negative and deeply pessimistic, controlling and unhappy, and her mannerisms strangle the relationship she has with her husband. Yet there was one part of the movie that made me sit up straight and pay attention, I think because I was so surprised and unprepared for the little plot twist. Jean makes a bold decision, one that is unexpected of her and takes a lot of strength, and in the moment she's willing to shed herself of all of her material possessions in order to get to that place where she knows she needs to be. It's a move towards simplicity and minimalism, and it takes a truly powerful character to shed all of that baggage (not just her luggage, but her emotional burden) and have the courage to make a decision that she was hoping someone else would make for her but didn't.

I've made major decisions in my life that have forced me to make changes--changes like leaving things or people behind, getting rid of stuff in order to make a move possible, and getting rid of toxic relationships and situations. Anyone who has ever done this knows it can be scary, but in the end there really is this incredible feeling of lightness.

Have you ever taken a bunch of "things" and "stuff" away from your home, and you actually feel better about giving it away? There's less to account for, less to dust, less to move if you end up moving, less to see. On vacation, I became so weighed down by my things that I wished I had packed lighter. In life, I think there are times when we have to sit up straight and pay attention, and shed the loads on our back that aren't doing anything but taking up space and causing anxiety.

After returning from England and in trying to clean out my overwhelming inbox, I came across two timely articles about "resisting cargo culture" and consumerism. I didn't think it was coincidence...sometimes the universe gives us a little nudge, you know? In England, I had no agenda. I approached each day as it came and tried not to worry about scheduling too much in advance. It was refreshing and wildly different from how I typically plan my weeks (I schedule workouts and cleaning!).

If you're interested in minimalism and reducing the "stuff" in your life in a meaningful way, I highly recommend reading Minimalism for Grandparents: Decluttering for Health, Happiness, and Connection in the Golden Years. Not a grandparent? Neither am I! I had the privilege of reading this book and I promise it doesn't just apply to grandparents--it's a boon for anyone needing simplification in his or her life.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

fun with colors

I've been seeing some fun-colored food at the local organic grocery store lately (remember the purple potatoes?), and I decided to experiment with a few new things tonight.

The three new ingredients? Black rice (called "forbidden rice" in the bulk section), golden zucchini, and purple garlic. This isn't a recipe I followed--I just made it up, and thank goodness it turned out to be not just edible, but awesome!

First I put 1 and 2/3 cups of the black rice on the stove (with double the amount of water), and I threw in three large pieces of kombu to cook with the rice (I like cooking with kombu because it adds iodine to the food).

While that cooked, I chopped up a small head of the purple garlic and a small yellow onion, wrapped them in foil, and put them in a 400-degree toaster oven to roast for 20 minutes. As you can see, the purple garlic looks purple on the outside, but not so much on the inside.

While those were roasting and the rice still simmering, I chopped up my zucchini (I used one golden and one regular green).

I sauteed the zucchini in sesame oil, cumin, chili powder, turmeric, and coriander, then added in about 3 cups of black beans.

Ding!! After the toaster oven informed me that the onion and garlic were finished roasting, I blended them with a packet of Frontera enchilada sauce.

After removing the kombu from the cooked rice, I added the zucchini and bean mixture and topped it all off with the tomato/onion/garlic sauce.

Mix well, serve hot, and enjoy!! I made a lot so I can share with my fiance and eat it for another couple of days for lunch. YUM!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sunday roast and yoga teacher toast

I recently returned from a two-week holiday in England, visiting family and friends and enjoying relaxation, beautiful countryside and seaside settings, and lots of new things to see and do (hence the lack of recent posts--sorry!).

On Sunday, the day after I returned from the UK and was already missing my holiday, I decided to honor my cousins' tradition of a Sunday roast, although I made mine without the meat, and sadly I had no Yorkshire puddings to accompany my vegetables. Still, it was wonderful to savor the flavors and recall the fun I had in England.

My roast consisted of sweet  potatoes, purple potatoes, and carrots. I mixed together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mirin (Japanese cooking wine), sea salt, ground pepper, and a pinch of dried sage, coated the veggies, and stuck the glass dish in a 350-degree F oven for about 45 minutes, stirring once. I could have used many other vegetables in addition to these (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peppers, onions, artichokes, the list goes on and on), but those were what I had and they worked out well.

I also picked up a bottle of Pimm's on Sunday, and I'm looking forward to mixing it with lemonade and fruit--a perfect refresher for this unbearable summer heat and humidity!

For those who are like me, whose hips, back, shoulders, and neck suffer from long stretches in airplanes and  airports, I recommend a good chiropractor and a good yoga class. I visited my chiropractor on Monday for a much-needed adjustment, and I swear by those adjustments; good, certified/licensed chiropractors aren't quacks--they're lifesavers. I did some gentle yoga on my own on Sunday, and on Monday I went to a class at the yoga studio where I practice, whereupon I emerged balanced, aligned, and rejuvenated. Here I want to praise all yoga instructors who walk around and gently adjust students during class; it's that extra lift, stretch, push, pull, tuck, rotation, or lengthening that makes me feel better in my posture and corrected in my practice at home. I raise my glass of Pimm's to you.

Monday, July 1, 2013

vegan waffle mix

This stuff is awesome! It's a vegan waffle mix that only requires water to make. We bought it from Vegan Cuts and haven't regretted it; I'm already looking forward to our next waffle night!

I ate my first waffle plain with pure maple syrup. I added banana and chocolate chips to my second waffle--YUM! I love that there are only six, healthy ingredients (all of which I can pronounce and know what they are).