“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.” ~Henry Beecher

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Your Eyes Lead the Way

I’ve been practicing Bikram yoga for just over three years and would say that I am a true follower. Bikram Choudhury devised a series of 26 Hatha yoga postures that is performed in a very hot, humid room. As is the case with yoga, in general, the benefits are many and include: increased strength and flexibility, stress reduction, improved sleep patterns, weight loss, a boost to the immune system, and an overall feeling of well-being. In fact, yoga is believed to help alleviate a number of health-related issues, including, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, thyroid and metabolic conditions, diabetes, asthma, colds and congestion, digestive disorders, psychiatric, psychological, and emotional problems, and the list goes on. And yoga is even being used to help people cope with the effects of, and treatments for cancer and HIV/AIDS. And how great is this? It is taught to active, healthy children to help them gain confidence, strength and focus.

I know that since I’ve begun to practice yoga, my basal level of “anxiety” has been sharply reduced, I’ve become more committed to eating a healthy diet and as a result, I’ve been healthier, stronger, and more energetic. In fact, I’ve probably never felt so good in my life. That being said, a 90-minute Bikram class has often been compared to a “torture chamber”. And even after three years, every class is still a challenge for me. This is one of the things that I depend on, because I’ve realized that I wouldn’t feel the way I do today if it weren’t for all the hard work that I’ve put into my yoga practice. Truly, if it were easy, I probably wouldn’t be getting any benefits from it.

The idea behind the Bikram series is that it is designed to work every cell, organ, gland, and muscle in the body, and if you simply try to do the postures correctly, you will gain the benefits. Halfway through the class, the back strengthening postures are performed, which are a series of backbends designed to work the lower, middle, and upper back. There are several backbend postures in the class, designed to open up our front sides and to keep the spine healthy, since many of us probably sit hunched over a desk or a computer for many hours a day (I’m sitting up more erect as I’m writing this : )) or frequently bend over, to lift or carry things. Seriously, how often are we required to bend over backwards, literally? Unless you’re a gymnast, my guess is never. Since I’ve had chronic back issues for many years, I’ve come to rely on and even enjoy these postures (some would think I’m crazy) because they’ve made all the difference in the world for my back. They have greatly reduced the frequency of back injuries I’ve suffered since I began yoga, and now I can usually recover from them more quickly. In fact, Bikram says, “If you have a strong, healthy back, the gods will chase you.” That one always makes me smile when I hear it, and if nothing else, it encourages me to work as hard as I can while in those postures.

Besides the actual, physical benefits of the back series, there are some subtle lessons to be learned that can be taken outside of the class (this is actually true for many postures). For example, in “full-locust pose” (demonstrated in the above picture), the arms, chest, head, and legs are off the floor, with only the belly (ideally, the belly-button) on the floor. An effective way to lift the chest and arms, further up and back, is to look up. The dialogue goes, “where your eyes go, your body follows.” This is an important point for me. In the posture, if you look forward, it’s much more difficult to lift your head. By looking up towards the ceiling, (and actually, trying to look towards the back wall) your head, neck, chest, and arms naturally follow, and you’re able to rise higher. Is it not the same in life? In order for us to rise to our potentials, we have to look up. Looking back (too much) prevents us from moving forward, because it keeps us in the past, and looking down prevents us from seeing new possibilities and rising to new challenges. Although the saying goes, “the sky’s the limit,” I believe if we’re looking up, then our Universe has no limits and as has been said, our only limits are those imposed by our imaginations. Whatever we can see, we can manifest, if we truly want to.

I can honestly say that since I’ve begun yoga, my life has changed dramatically, and I’ve certainly tried many new things and taken more risks in the last few years than in the rest of my years, put together. That’s not to say that they’ve all been successful, but some have resulted in tremendous rewards, particularly within my soul, which is ultimately where they matter the most. So as long as I am physically able to practice yoga, I will continue to do so. It can only lead to good things…

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Snowing Down

It’s snowing. It began early this morning as a hint of flakes bouncing haphazardly through the air and progressed to the type of snow that I like the most: those large clumps that resemble pieces torn from a cotton ball rather than flakes. Despite their light-as-a-cloud appearance, they fall with intent and stick to whatever they first contact and I bet that during their travels, they do a nice job of filtering the air for us. And rather than disappear, they accumulate, adding a beautiful, white cover to fences, mailboxes, the power lines, roofs on buildings, and even the tiniest of limbs on trees. That’s probably what I love most about this snow: the way it transforms the trees from bare, faded brown or gray limbs or evergreen needles to a vibrant white that brightens even cloudy days. And I can’t forget that this snow is perfect for making snowmen.

Some may say, but I don’t like to drive in the snow. True, there are risks involved when driving in a snowstorm, and some storms leave motorists stranded and it’s happened to me as well. Many years ago, a storm hit so fast and hard that my car wound up stuck in the middle of a street. I had to abandon it there overnight, along with several other cars. Luckily, I was with a friend and we spent the night at her home baking cookies. When I think back to that night, I realize how much fun we had because we made the most of that unplanned situation - and we slowed down. And now more and more, I take advantage of those times when I can slow down and enjoy the present moments. One of my favorite things to do, still, when I’m snowed in, is to spend the day warming up the house by cooking/baking. Then, I love to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea on the sofa. When these occasions do arise, I can usually think of a million things to do instead, but I may not enjoy them as much. And since this Winter will be over in no time, and I can’t ever get the time back, I want to spend as many opportunities as I can doing the things that I love to do.

It’s still snowing, and it’s still pretty. And I’m still grateful…

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Flavorful Salmon, Roasted Tomatoes and Pearl Couscous Recipe

One of the few types of fish I am eating at the moment is wild salmon because it’s one of the safer varieties to choose from. It also helps that I LOVE it and that it’s so easy to prepare! I recently found the recipe below at and it was highlighted as a nice winter meal for keeping the immune system strong and flu-resistant. It provides healthy doses of omega 3 fatty acids from the fish, vitamin D, lycopene, and quercetin, a health-promoting flavanoid. The recipe appears a little complicated at first, but it’s worth the effort. The most labor-intensive steps involve preparing the lemon oregano oil, but believe me you won’t want to leave it out. It’s fabulous with the fish, the couscous and the tomatoes. I also roasted extra tomatoes to make a quick sauce that was gobbled up and roasted some zucchini and a portabella mushroom I had in the fridge. The pearl couscous is more like pasta to me and although I haven’t been eating so much pasta lately, I really enjoyed it with the fish. I think it would be nice to occasionally add to soups as well. Except for roasting extra vegetables, I followed the recipe almost exactly as it is listed here. I will definitely be making this dish again…

Monday, January 18, 2010

Energy Emissions

The other day, I was sitting in Starbucks, enjoying a hot cup of coffee and reading on the internet, when a very nice gentleman approached me and said, “You know, I’ve seen you in here many times on your computer and you always have a big smile on your face, and I’ve asked myself, what is it she could possibly be reading?" We then went on to talk for a few minutes before he left. I was so touched by this man’s statement because I wasn’t aware of how much I smile. But then I realized that much of that smiling is actually on the inside and what’s going on inside is certain to make its way outward.

When we’re carrying positive energy around with us, it can’t help but leak out. And those that are lucky enough to be in our paths have the benefit of soaking up some of that good energy, which raises their energy frequencies. And then what happens? They emit more positive energy that gets captured by more people, and so this phenomenon spreads exponentially. An added benefit to this is that the more good energy we spread, the more we get back, which is exactly what happened from our conversation. When the man walked away, I felt even better than I did before we met.

Moments like these have happened to me before. They may seem small, but they carry with them invisible powers that have the potential to reach immense magnitudes. We are all living, breathing generators and we should all be aware that at every moment, we have the choice to give away something that will bring joy to people, which is so much nicer than sharing something that will bring them down. And even a smile that’s only on the inside will spread something abundantly good. : )

It's How You Play the Hand You're Dealt

Lots of research has revealed that in order to keep our brains healthy and active late into our years, we must exercise them. Some of the best ways to do this include keeping active social lives, constant learning, reading, exercise, and even puzzles, board games, and cards. My parents play card games often, as a couple, or with friends, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one reason they’re sharp as tacks. They’re both in their early 70s and are more mentally agile than I can remember. To play cards with them is an interesting experience because their competitive natures emerge with a vengeance. When they’re playing alone, my mother seems to have this uncanny ability to shut out my father without mercy. Last night, I was playing with them and she wasn’t doing so well. My Dad said to me, “don’t feel too sorry for her, she usually beats me pretty badly.” Honestly, I wouldn’t feel sorry for anyone, including myself, because it’s cards and it’s meant to be fun.

Last night we played a card game called Golf. As we were playing, I realized how many layers of complexity there were to this relatively simple game. To understand this, though, you need to know the rules. Each player is dealt nine cards that are laid face down like a tic-tac-toe game. The players each turn over one row or column of three cards, whichever they choose. The object of the game is to get as low a score as possible from all nine cards, for each of nine hands. Kings and three-of-a-kind rows/columns count as zero, jokers are -3, aces count as 1, the remaining face cards are 10, and number cards are counted at face value. Players take turns drawing from the deck, deciding if they want to keep the card they’ve drawn, and if so, for which card they want to exchange it, i.e., do they want to replace a card whose value is already visible, or replace one that is face down. The hand draws to an end when one player has turned over all nine of his or her cards and the remaining players have had one final draw.

I feel as if some card games are “primarily” dictated by the luck of the draw. This is partly true in Golf as well, but in addition, the outcome of the game is greatly determined at each step along the way. First, the three cards a player decides to turn over can make all the difference, since these are the only cards that they may keep, if they so choose. Second, if a player decides to keep a card that they’ve drawn from the deck (or the discard pile), the card they replace it with can make or break the hand. For example, I can’t tell you how many times, by chance, my father threw a King to my mother, replacing it with something less valuable. Or how many of us replaced jokers with something less desirable. And once a card is in its place, it cannot be moved to another position; it either stays or is replaced with another card. And then comes the final turn around the table. If a player still has one or more cards to turn over, the card they choose to replace with their final draw can make all the difference to their hand because even though they may not be the first person to turn over all their cards, they still may wind up with the lowest score in that hand.

This game reminded me more of life than any other card game I've ever played. For any goal or journey we take in life, each choice we make along the way influences how things will unfold. We usually begin with a certain number of “knowns” that help us to decide how to move forward. Along the way, some choices are easy to make; we can see what we are dealing with. But others offer more options or carry greater risks and we don’t always know how they will turn out, but once we've made the move, we can't take it back. And those choices will eventually influence later decisions. Also, the choices we make can often greatly influence others, sometimes helping them (if they choose to accept the help), or sometimes not. But hopefully they don't hurt someone. And finally, if we stay in the game, we may not be the first to cross the finish line, but we may still come out a winner - or not, we just don't know. But that shouldn't stop us from living because we can look back at the choices we made and either be happy with them, or learn from them.

We had a fun time with this game last night and we laughed a lot. I think that’s something else that helps to keep the mind young. My Dad won the game with the lowest score for nine hands, but in the particular hand that’s shown in the picture, I had a score of “0”. That’s even better than a hole in one! : )

Friday, January 15, 2010

Angels Have Bird Wings and Fairies Have Butterfly Wings

Last week, I posted a blog describing how to use essential oils to very easily make hydrating atomizer misting sprays using essential oils. I bought the supplies at a great herb and gift shop in Somers, CT called Kassandra, It’s About Thyme, Herbs Unlimited, and had mentioned that I would be introducing the owner very soon. Well, yesterday, I met with Katherine (Kassy) Mashiak at her shop. Kassy has been studying herbs for about three decades and spoke about her interest in herbs. You can meet Kassy in the video below:

Kassy began gardening and wanted to learn more about preparing teas, and a lecture many years ago on herbs got the ball rolling for her. She incorporates herbs into her everyday life and uses them medicinally and her shop carries over 200 herbs and herb related items in bulk for health and wellness as well as for cooking. Kassy is also a founding member of the Connecticut Herb Association (CHAI), a group that brings an amalgam of information to the table about everything herbs, from growing to harvesting to using medicinally or in foods or extracting essential oils; a member of CHAI will have extensive knowledge and expertise. CHAI also hosts an annual Herb Fest of CT, that happens the first Saturday in June. This year, it will be held in Somers, CT and for anyone interested, please check the CHAI website for more information.

Back to Kassandra, It’s About Thyme, Herbs Unlimited; what I didn’t mention yet, is that Kassy’s shop is set in a circa 1830 post and beam barn, a very bright, pink barn! Walking in the front entrance, I fell in love with the rustic setting that was softened by the flood of the sun’s rays beaming in through the windows and that made so many of the items sparkle. This front room was a feast for the eyes. It has an array of jewelry, loose leaf and bagged teas (and bags to make your own bagged teas), books, diffusers, ornaments, stones and crystals, beautiful scarves, wind chimes, and a section dedicated to a beautiful collection of angels and fairies (which are her favorites).

She pointed out that angels have bird winds and fairies have butterfly wings. I had never thought about that before yesterday! In fact, she told me about a favorite illustrator of hers, Cicely Mary Barker, who was fascinated with flowers and used them to design her fairies. Venturing into her back room, you’ll find her extensive selection of bulk herbs, supplements, homeopathic remedies, natural cosmetics, more jewelry, essential oils and clays, and gourmet foods. I’m sure I’m forgetting something; in fact, I’m sure of it because I bet I’ve still only seen half of what she has to offer. Kassy's shop is the type of place where you discover something new each time you visit.

It’s always fun to meet new people. Everyone has a story to tell and a wealth of knowledge to share and you just never know what you’ll learn. Yesterday, I learned some things about herbs I didn’t know (and yes, there’s so much more for me to learn if I choose) and was introduced to a artist whose love of flowers inspired a beautiful collection of fairies.

So, if you’d like to treat yourself to something fun or are looking for a unique gift, visit Kassandra, It’s About Thyme, Herbs Unlimited, 53 Springfield Road, Somers, CT. It’s like dessert without all the calories : )

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nutrition and Versatility in Buckwheat

One of the keys to eating a balanced diet is to choose a diversity of foods. For example, including into the diet fruits and vegetables with lots of different colors helps us to get a wider variety of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to stay healthy, alert and strong. The same can be said for whole grains. There are a number of nutrient dense whole grains that I regularly include in my diet, such as quinoa, millet, amaranth and barley; and another that I’ve been eating more frequently, which is buckwheat. There are so many benefits, that I can see, to buckwheat groats that they are quickly becoming one of my favorite “grains”.

Actually, they are not a grain in the usual sense of the word, such as wheat, rye, and barley, etc., but a fruit seed related to the rhubarb family. They are used to make traditional dishes, often referred to as Kasha, that are a staple in Russia and Eastern European countries.

So what’s so great about buckwheat groats? Well, although they cook up like grains, they contain no gluten, which means that they’re a great option for gluten sensitive individuals. They can be ground into flour and used to make baked goods, pancakes, and noodles. And the nutrition and health benefits of buckwheat make it an ideal food to add to everyone’s diet. Nutritionally, it has all the essential amino acids, making it a valuable protein source. It is also rich in fiber, it is abundant in B vitamins; and minerals such as magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, phosphorous and zinc. In addition, it provides the flavenoid rutin, which is known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and it contains a compound called fagopyritol, which mediates the activity of insulin, suggesting that it may help manage type II diabetes. So with all it has to offer, of course I want to include it in my diet. And I’m happy to say that it is as versatile as other grains, which has made it easy and fun to prepare as both sweet and savory dishes, either for breakfast or lunch/dinner. Here are just two ways that I’ve been getting buckwheat groats into my diet:

A sweet(ish) recipe for breakfast: Just like steel-cut oats and legumes, one way to cut down on the cooking time of buckwheat groats is to pre-soak them. I soak them overnight in water, then rinse well (they will make the water slimy, so rinse, rinse rinse). Although I then cooked them in water for ~10 minutes, I’ve read that some people use them “as is”, essentially raw. By the way, they can also be sprouted, which I’ve read intensifies their flavor, which otherwise is very mild. I haven’t tried yet, but if you’re interested, you can check out the directions here.

1. Rinse and soak groats in water overnight.

2. Rinse well, then add enough fresh water to about an inch above groats, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for ~10 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and fluff. Excess liquid can be removed as well.

4. For a breakfast serving, I add a bit of milk or a scoop of yogurt, a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, and a drizzle of real maple syrup.

This a hearty and satisfying breakfast that keeps me full for hours. And the possibilities are endless here. You can substitute any type of milk, nuts, fruit, spices and sweeteners. I store the leftovers in the fridge and reheat the next morning.

Here’s a tasty savory recipe that can be used as a side dish or even as a main vegetarian dish. It is a variation on this basic recipe:

2 T coconut oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 cup mushrooms, chopped

1 cup buckwheat groats, rinsed

1 egg, beaten

2 cups vegetable broth, brought to a boil

½ cup frozen or fresh peas

2 cloves garlic, minced

sea salt and pepper to taste

chopped, fresh parsley

1. Heat 1T oil in medium pot. Mix beaten egg into groats, then add to pot and cook groats until they become dry and separate.

2. Add boiling broth, salt and pepper and stir well, bring to a boil again, then lower heat, cover and simmer 15-20 min, or until groats are tender. Pour off any excess liquid if necessary.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in skillet, sauté onion and mushrooms until lightly browned, then add peas and continue to cook until they’re heated through.

4. Add onion mixture and garlic to pot of groats and mix well.

5. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Leader in the Quilling Community

Last Sunday, I came across a piece in the morning newspaper about a quiller by the name of Pat Caputo in Enfield, CT. Quilling is a craft where thin strips of paper are rolled, pinched into various shapes, then arranged together into an infinite number of arrangements and configurations to create some beautiful pieces or artwork. I was so impressed with Pat’s story in the newspaper that I called her and she agreed to do an interview with me.

Pat has been quilling for over thirty years and began when she was home raising her children. It is a craft that she fell in love with, but as time went on, she found it more difficult to find quilling supplies at local craft shops. But instead of letting this problem deter her, she used it as an opportunity to strengthen her relationships with major quilling suppliers and to bring quillers together by starting her own business in 1981. Whimsiquills offers quilling supplies, patterns, teaching and reference materials, and useful information that would otherwise be difficult for crafters to find. She also showcases many of her gorgeous pieces on her website, and you can see some on the video below:

Because of her leadership and passion for her work, she has gotten involved in a number of quilling projects. For example, she became one of the founding members of the North American Quilling Guild, has hosted and led quilling workshops, and her work has been featured in The Book of Paper Quilling, Paper Quilling, The Weekend Crafter Series, and Family Circle Magazine. In addition, she started a blog for quillers everywhere to ask questions, share their thoughts, and to present their work in the hopes that it will help to generate new ideas and expand the quilling community.

Today, Pat gets orders, emails, and cards from quillers from all over the World. She loves her work and it’s easy to see why she has been such a success. I’m so happy that I took a chance and had the opportunity to meet Pat. Over the years, I have developed a much greater appreciation for hand-crafted items, and the crafters themselves. As I was thinking about why that is, I realized it’s because of my much greater appreciation, these days, for the value of time. And if someone chooses to use their time creatively to make something that will bring joy to others, then I am so grateful. Because as far as I’m concerned, there can never be enough beauty in this World. Thank You Pat!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rejuvenate With Aromatherapy

I am a very passionate fan of fresh air. Most people probably don’t think about it too much, but the air quality of my surroundings is something of which I am acutely aware. Whether outdoors or indoors, I know by how I’m feeling, how clean the air is that I’m breathing. The first sign of a warm day, I’m opening the windows of my home to clear out the staleness and the germs that may be floating about. Even when allergy season rolls around, if the temperature is comfortable, I would rather have the house wide open than closed up. But it’s winter here. The temperatures have been hovering well below freezing, so the windows have been locked shut and the heat has been on. For me personally, when I spend long hours in dry, heated, stale air, I can become tired, foggy, lethargic, my skin tone turns dull, and will start to feel tight from dryness. Then, after five minutes of stepping outside and breathing, I will suddenly perk up. The fog will lift, I’ll wake up, and I’ll look and feel better. In fact, if I know that I’m to spend long hours indoors in a dry climate, I will make it a point to step outside for a few minutes every few hours to breathe. My body’s reaction to the indoor, dry air is just one more reason it is so important to eat properly and stay well hydrated, from the inside, by drinking lots of water.

Still, indoor climates this time of year can wreak havoc on our skin. It is our largest organ and through it, we continuously lose moisture and its surface can feel parched simply due to exposure. Exfoliating, moisturizing and oiling are all good ways to keep the skin from getting dry, itchy and flaky. But for areas that are always bare, such as the face, keeping the skin feeling fresh throughout the day can be a challenge. And so, because I haven’t wanted to continuously slather on moisturizer, I finally turned to atomizers/spritzers, which can instantly add moisture, relieving the tightness and irritation caused by dry air, while making the skin feel relaxed and refreshed. Rosewater works well for this purpose and I’ve been using it for about a year now. But a couple of years ago, I had bought a mister with a nice mix of essential oils that included lavender. I found that it not only hydrated my skin from the outside, but the aromatics had a revitalizing and energizing effect, almost as if I had stepped outdoors for some fresh air.

Recently, after finding some simple recipes for essential oil combinations, I decided to make my own atomizer mist sprays to use through the dry, winter months. So, today, I visited a great herb and gift shop in Somers, CT, called Kassandra, to experiment with different essential oils to make my own misters (you’ll get to see this great shop and meet the owner very soon!). They’re simple to make, requiring only a few items, and depending on the combinations of oils used, will achieve different effects. For example, lemon promotes mental clarity and is energizing; peppermint can eliminate negative energy and be stimulating. Together, they would make a perfect combination to rejuvenate if you begin to feel sluggish in the afternoon. Chamomile and lavender are both calming and might make a good combination to settle the mind or relieve anxiety.

Here are a couple of mixtures I came up with, but for anyone that is interested, it’s a good idea to test different oils together before buying them. Both recipes below are not overpowering and can be made stronger or more dilute, depending on the preference. I made them in 2 oz. blue, glass atomizer bottles, which are a good size for carrying in a purse, keeping at your desk at work, or for taking on a plane.


2 oz. distilled water

4 drops lavender

2 drops rosemary

2 drops lime


2 oz. distilled water

5 drops lavender

3 drops clary sage

Shake the bottles well to distribute the oils, before each spray. I will usually give my face two or three spritzes for a pick-me-up (with my eyes closed!!).

With essential oils, there are specific precautions that should be taken to ensure safety; so please use them with care. For example, many essential oils should not be used if you are pregnant or are experiencing specific health problems. And if you get confused by the information you read on the internet, always consult an expert. I spoke with a long-time herbalist about the choices I made. But most of all, have fun finding the oils that work best for you!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Quick Quinoa Soup

I’m always pleasantly surprised when I can throw some ingredients into a pot and have them cook into something healthy and delicious. I do this frequently with whatever I have on hand, and last night’s soup was no exception. A few simple ingredients turned into something warm, hardy, satisfying and loaded with nutrients from veggies like onions, spinach, tomatoes and shredded broccoli, referred to as broccoli slaw.

If you’ve never seen it, it looks a little bit like the shredded cabbage that goes into making coleslaw and you can find it in the produce sections of many markets. I like it because it cooks quickly and adds some chewiness to vegetarian soups, although it can certainly be added to meat-based soups as well. And it’s a great way to sneak some cruciferous vegetables into a hot dish, particularly for finicky kids who don’t want to eat them.

The fact that my parents really liked this soup was a bonus, since I’ve been trying to get them to eat healthier for quite a while (they’re even eating my granola!). The recipe for my quick soup is here:

2 T coconut oil (or some other oil for sweating your onion)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 c broccoli slaw, chopped into 1” pieces

6 c vegetable broth

1 c quinoa, rinsed

thyme, rosemary, basil, pepper and sea salt, to taste

1-2 large tomatoes

2 eggs, beaten

2 c baby spinach

2 cloves garlic, minced

grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, optional

Heat the oil in a medium pot, then add onion and cook until it turns translucent. Add the broccoli slaw and sauté for a minute, then add the broth and quinoa and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer soup until quinoa is cooked, ~10-15 minutes. You can add seasonings and spices at this point.

Then, using a grater with large holes, grate the tomato directly into the simmering pot. When the quinoa is cooked (you’ll see tiny tendrils separate from the pearls), add beaten eggs and stir. The egg will begin to form strings in the soup. Take the pot off the heat, add the spinach and garlic, stir well, and cover for a minute to let the spinach wilt. Serve immediately with grated cheese, if desired. For an even heartier meal, serve with a toasty grilled cheese sandwich on sprouted grain or artisan bread. I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Built on a Foundation of Love

The other day, I learned from one of my yoga instructors that she had just gotten married. I knew that she had a long-time partner, but I had no idea that they had been planning a wedding, so it was a nice surprise when I learned the news. What was the most remarkable thing to me was the wedding itself. She said that it took about five minutes to plan, and that she called up her mom and picked up her fiancée’s son from school as witnesses. In fact, she said that she was wearing jeans and had hat hair during the ceremony, but that didn’t seem to bother her in the least. To know her is to know that she was truly happy with the arrangements. She is one of the most kind, gracious, relaxed, non-ego-driven people I know. As an instructor, she is encouraging and helpful and never arrogant. She has a very easy way about her as she teaches and she conducts her classes with the right amount of leadership to keep them running smoothly. I guess I would consider her a contemporary flower child, if I may say. Now, imagine this woman getting married in jeans and hat hair, and it doesn’t seem unusual at all.

Later, I was thinking; does the fact that they skipped the big ceremony and the lavish reception make their marriage any less special? I didn’t think so. Because after the day is over, it’s love that is going to keep them together; not the bouquets of flowers or the wedding photos or the champagne glasses. Sure, those things all help to create a memorable day, but they won’t help them weather the ups and downs that every couple will face as they build a life together. Nothing material can substitute for a state of being; like the state of love that they feel for each other that brought them together in the first place. This is where it all begins and if this foundation is real and strong enough, then it will still be standing no matter what happens to the rest of the house. In fact, the better the foundation, the richer the home will become and the more likely it will stay standing. So if two people who are truly in love are happy to wed without all the fanfare, then I say, congratulations, and may you be blessed with a long and happy union filled with beauty, fond memories and unending growth. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank my yoga instructor for sharing her authentic self, both in and out of class. She’s just one more someone, and something, I have to be grateful for.