Vogue 1247

Sounds impressive, right?  I think the word “Vogue” anything conjures something fashionable and current.  Since I started making my own clothes and using all kinds of patterns,  Vogue Patterns has become synonymous with “pretty nice design” and “unnecessarily convoluted directions”.  Sheesh.  Luckily all turned out well in the end with Vogue 1247.  Here’s the pattern (which they tell you is “cutting edge” in case you aren’t sure):

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I made the skirt, which is oh-so mini in this photo.  I probably wouldn’t have considered this pattern except that it is universally loved by so many pattern reviewers on patternreview.com, my go-to site for the inside scoop on patterns.  The tips received there are invaluable and help save time and money.  On this one,  most people  added lots of length to make it wearable.  I did the same, and here’s my version:

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I really like it!  The fabric I chose is a stretch denim from Joann’s.  I wanted something with some darker colors that could also transition into fall in Arizona (warm, not hot).  I can imagine wearing this with a denim jacket and tank or three-quarter sleeve tee.  Here’s a close-up of the fabric:DSCN1791

This is the back of the skirt which has an invisible zipper.  I finally bought an invisible zipper foot and used it for the first time on this skirt.  Technically you shouldn’t see the zipper at all when it’s done exactly right but this wasn’t bad for the first time.

As I mentioned, the Vogue directions are notoriously convoluted and often inaccurate.  I’m glad that I have enough experience at this point to do my own thing at times.  This pattern calls for using bias binding to enclose inner seams.  I went along with that here:

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and here:

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I guess some people find this to be an appealing design element (on the inside??) but I kind of thought it was a waste of time.  I finished the rest of the seams with my serger.

I do really like the design of the low pockets in the front of this skirt:

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It’s a little like a tool belt for the gals.  NOT.  Now that I think about it though, it’s not a bad place for my i-phone.

Well that’s all she wrote for Vogue 1247.  I’m off to add my two cents on Pattern Review…

Hooray For Black Bean Burgers!

I know that with my daily “what we had for dinner” blogging I am coming perilously close to the social media craziness that I have managed to avoid for many years.  But I am giving myself a pass because I truly believe I am doing a public service by sharing these recipes.  This was my second attempt to make a flavorful and texturally delicious black bean burger (the first, which I also blogged about, was a fail).  This recipe, found here  (a gorgeous blog by the way) combines black beans with red quinoa and the burgers are baked, not fried or sautéed.

I followed the recipe pretty much as written except I used a real egg instead of a substitute and I left out the grated beet which was only for color.  This recipe is good for only two people and a little short on leftovers.  Next time I will double it.  Here’s how the dish turned out on my plate…

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and on David’s:

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The burgers were firm throughout and had a bit of a “crust” from the brush of olive oil before baking.  The flavors from shallots, garlic, cumin and coriander were terrific.  We ate these with Chipotle Mayonnaise.  Ooh, so delicious. The recipe uses a jarred version but I chose to make my own from a Bobby Flay recipe.  It’s got great kick and adds a lot to the dish.  The recipe for the mayo is here.   As an aside, since we’ve gone veggie, our food processor is getting a workout and we haven’t turned on the grill once.  Different tools for different cuisine…

So I will sign off with my usual recommendation to give this recipe a try.  I’m planning to spend the rest of the evening doing something other than blog about our dinner.

 

Everyday Quiche

So let’s be honest.  Not every dinner can be a stunning masterpiece of slow-cooked flavors that takes a few hours to prepare.  Except for one scrambled egg dinner and a visit to our favorite Indian restaurant we’ve been cooking away preparing vegetarian dishes.  So what I was needing was the equivalent of the “roast chicken dinner”.  In other words, easy ingredients (most of which I have around), minimal prep and cook time, maximum flavor and guest-worthy in a pinch.

Enter today’s dinner- mushroom and cheese quiche  (rustic style):

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The “rustic style” refers to the rather messy-looking  homemade crust.  But I’ll get to that in a minute.

I’ve always enjoyed quiche, but haven’t made one in years (like 30).  I think the last one I made had Durkee onion rings, (you know, the ones from the can) as a major ingredient.  So I scoured the internet to find some basic recipes.  There was quite a bit of variation out there, from the type of pan you use (straight versus curved sides) to the proportion of eggs to milk and/or cream to different types of fillings.  My plan was to try to find a simple recipe that we could doctor up with any combination of vegetables and cheese.  I knew that I wanted to use up some mushrooms, onions, jalapeño and shredded cheddar and parmesan cheeses that weren’t going to last much longer in my refrigerator.  So I settled on this recipe.

But first, the crust.  I’ve made my own pie crusts so I didn’t have any trepidation about making this one from scratch, especially because I decided to make the dough entirely in the food processor.  I had been slaving away using a pastry cutter which is slow and tiring, mostly because you need to use very cold butter to make a flaky crust.  But I had permission from The New York Times to use a processor.  The recipe is here.  Making the dough literally took 5 minutes, plus some refrigerator time and then the rolling out.  My crimping skills are still non-existent but this crust isn’t just an enhancement, it’s a must for truly delectable flavor.

The rest of the prep is so simple, and the only important tip is to remove as much moisture from the vegetables as possible so as not to have too much liquid in the dish.  For me that just meant sautéing the onions, jalapeño and mushrooms in olive oil until the mushrooms gave up all their liquid:

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I spread these on the bottom of my pre-baked (8 minutes) crust.  Then I added the eggs, milk, cheeses, salt and pepper which had been whisked together.  I sprinkled some shredded parmesan on the top and exactly 45 minutes later it was done.  Served with a green salad it was a great meal:

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Give this one a try for dinner or for brunch; I really think you’ll like it.  It’s veggie, it’s healthy (sort of), it’s easy and you don’t need to clean your oven after it’s done :)

Creole Feast Vegan Style

The choice to be vegan rather than vegetarian is one that significantly impacts lifestyle, which is why David and I are testing the waters of vegetarianism rather than veganism.  At this stage it’s hard to imagine a diet without eggs, butter or cheese, or a social life that doesn’t include different types of restaurants.  That being said, we know that commercial farms that produce dairy and eggs are no better at treating animals humanely than other kinds of commercial farms.  Plus the waste from these animals is having an equally negative environmental impact.  So we find ourselves in a bit of a quandary.

At this point, we’ve decided to do two things.  The first is to find local sources of eggs and cheese where humane treatment of animals is (hopefully) not as much of an issue.  Well today we hit the Rillito Park Farmer’s Market here in town and were successful on both fronts.  We came home with blocks of raw cheese from a family farm in California and a dozen eggs from a local farmer (“nest-laid eggs”!).  It was quite an experience with lots of impulse buys from amazing dates and heirloom tomatoes to a loaf of gluten-free bread (grilled cheese!) and a fermented iced tea called “Kombucha”.  It was also fun to be around so many like-minded people.

The second thing we decided to do is try out some vegan recipes each week.  As I’ve said before, if you can cook well, you can eat well, and I believe this is true with any dietary approach.  Enter this:

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This book has been on my shelf for three years.  I didn’t buy it.  It came along with a set of pots and pans that we bought, and while I initially gave it a cursory look I wasn’t ready to engage with the vegan message or recipes.  I am now. It is a compilation of gorgeous recipes provided by several accomplished vegan chefs.  In addition, there are lengthy discussions about alternative ingredients with recommended products and brands. If you are vegan or thinking of going that route this would be a great resource.

For last night’s dinner we chose to make the Creole Tempeh over brown rice, which is loaded with New Orleans-inspired cajun spices.  A vegan étouffée.  Well, this exceeded ALL expectations.  Here’s a look at the finished dish (without the garnish of sliced scallions and chopped parsley which I forgot to add):

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This was my first experience with tempeh, a fermented soy-based protein.  I forgot to take a picture of the raw tempeh, but it comes in a hardish white log where you can see the pressed soybeans.  The first step to this recipe is to braise the sliced tempeh in liquid- water, cajun spices, fresh ginger, garlic and soy sauce- for 45 minutes.  This is an important step because it both changes the texture of the tempeh and infuses it with lots of flavor:

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After this step you reserve the cooking liquid, dredge the tempeh in flour and more cajun spices and sauté it up.  It browns beautifully and looks like this:

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We tasted it at this point and it really has a “meaty” texture and great flavor with all the spices.  This could go well on a sandwich.

Next we sautéed a bunch of mixed vegetables in the same pan:

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We added back the braising liquid, the tempeh, some bay leaves, red wine and more dry spices:

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This simmered for thirty minutes filling the house with an incredible aroma.  It cooked down and thickened quite a bit.  Over brown rice it was absolutely divine.  We’re still talking about how delicious it was.  Jeff was here for dinner, so there are no leftovers!

This dish and our trip to the farmers’ market were both very encouraging.  Finding a way to eat well while being true to our beliefs about the environment and the humane treatment of animals is what this is all about.  It feels good.

The Zero-Sum Game and a Water Line

Today I’m going to indulge in some blogo-therapy.  I hope that my readers will bear with me and I’ll do my best to provide some food for thought along the way.

Let me begin by saying that I was a horrible economics student.  Dry dry stuff, graphs, yuck.  I don’t remember much beyond “supply and demand” basics but I do remember finding the idea of the zero-sum game pretty interesting, probably because it was something I kind of understood.  If you’re not familiar with the idea, it’s basically about dividing up finite resources among participants such that if someone gets “more” someone else necessarily gets “less”.  Winners and losers.

A simple and concrete example of this that we probably all know about is the “family hold back” idea around a dinner table.  David and I run into this one sometimes when Jeff decides to join us for dinner last minute.  We might have two potatoes baking–Jeff gets one and we share the other.  This is actually a win-win because who needs the carbs, but you get the idea.  If someone takes “more” another person has to get “less”.  Examples of this abound in our everyday lives, particularly around things like money and time, since most of us see those things as finite resources.

But a zero-sum mentality around non-finite resources is also very very common.  There are so many times when interpersonal problems and issues are framed as win/lose when other possibilities abound.  And that leads me to our current unplanned construction project:

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We are relocating our main water line from its current location due south of our house to this location in the front of our house:

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You can see where they are coming today to cut across our cul-de-sac to where a new meter will be.   So disruptive and unnecessary.  Here’s what happened…

We learned that there was an issue with the current location of our water meter when a soon-to-be neighbor (call her “L”) knocked on our door explaining that she was building a house on the land to the south of our home and she was concerned that our “temporary” water line might be running across the lot.  Valid concern.  As she frantically swung her papers around, we learned that in 1993 there was an agreement made with the current owner that within a year the temporary meter would be relocated.  Well it never happened and now she, and we, had a problem.

In the spirit of win/win and cooperation we got busy trying to figure out where the lines actually went, because of course she gets to build her house.  We found out by toning the pipes that our water line ran along the edge of her property and actually shared a trench with another neighbor’s water line.  Years before L had given an easement to our neighbor for these lines.  Naturally, we assumed that we could work out a similar arrangement with her since she couldn’t build on that area anyway.  Let me mention that while nobody likes easements it’s hard to find a property up where we live that doesn’t have some.  Our neighbors all have easements from us to use the cul-de-sac for example.  It’s just  something you live with up here.

We shared all this information with L assuming she would not be interested in forcing this disruptive and costly work.  We were willing to assume any and all responsibility for the line that had been attached to our property for twenty years and provide her with any legal protections.  But L is operating from a psychological scarcity place and she was all about free-floating fear.  Enter the zero-sum game.  It became clear to us (when she showed up at our house with the builder) that she didn’t want to find a win-win solution.  She wanted to win.  I could see the crazed child in her grabbing what was hers unwilling to consider the needs of others or see a bigger picture (like decent neighbor relations).   Somehow, she perceived that we were taking something from her and she couldn’t tolerate it.  And that more than anything led us to the decision to detach from her and make plans to relocate the line.

As an aside, we might have been able to fight this in court given the cost to us, but we decided a long time ago not to engage with crazy if we can help it, and this had crazy written all over it.  No regrets about our decision.

I think it’s always valuable to consider our own zero-sum tendencies.  Do we engage with the world from a place of fear and scarcity or abundance?  Is there enough love to go around?  Can we all be successful?  Can we afford to be generous or must we protect our piece of the pie?

Thanks for hanging in with me.  It’s been a helpful “session”.

 

 

Back to Earth-Frittata Fail

Well, wasn’t I just all full of myself after my last two sublimely delicious vegetarian dinners!   With the aroma of a Middle Eastern snack shack still lingering in the house I made plans for tonight’s dinner entree–a healthy and hearty frittata.  Now the house smells a bit like burnt egg.  Yup.  Not good.

I’ve only made one other frittata in my life, a Barefoot Contessa roasted vegetable one that overwhelmed my taste buds with the intense flavor of the roasted veggies.  So this time around I chose a recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  Hers was pretty basic, with potatoes, broccolini (we used kale), mushrooms, onions, and parmesan cheese inside and melted on top.  The up front prep was pretty easy.  First simmer the potatoes in vegetable broth until tender:

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I got into trouble pretty soon after I took this photo.  The potatoes were taking their time softening up, so I covered the pan, stepped away and realized they were sticking and burning on the bottom of the pan.  After some scraping around, I added some olive oil and the rest of the veggies:

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Once these cooked down a bit, I added the egg and parmesan mixture:

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At this point the recipe says to lower the heat, cover the dish and let it set up.  As a note, this recipe cooks the frittata almost entirely on the stove rather than in the oven.  Once it’s almost set you sprinkle it with more parmesan cheese and put it under the broiler to brown up and finish setting.  Well, even with the heat down low we started smelling the bottom burning before the top was set.  So I paced around still waiting for it to set up because the thought of undercooked eggs…well I just can’t do it.  Finally we got it under the broiler and it was done:

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The brown on top is the melted parmesan-that part wasn’t burnt. I have to say it looked great and very much like the one from Smitten Kitchen.  Here’s a close-up of a slice:

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I’ll spare you a photo of the burnt underside (Ok, I  didn’t actually run for the camera at that point).

We ate this with less than our normal enthusiasm and murmured comments to each other about the ways to make it better, other than not burning it, of course.  I concluded my comments with a declaration that “I don’t think I like eggs for dinner”.  David didn’t look too excited about working his way through these leftovers, and that’s the true test of a recipe in our house.  If David, who is endlessly inventive with leftovers can’t conjure up a way to make a dish work the next day, out it goes.  Bye bye frittata.

Obviously my frittata technique failed me here.  And as I left the dinner table feeling unsatisfied and headed over to the still unfinished Linzer Torte for some sweet relief (eating just a few feelings),  I reminded myself that this was just a lousy meal, nothing more, nothing less.  It can be very hard for me to keep these kinds of experiences in perspective, and I still struggle to not get too attached to outcomes.  Since that’s the case, I suppose the universe will send more of these experiences my way until I figure it out,  if not in the kitchen, then in the sewing room or in the garden or wherever.  Well,  bring it on…

 

 

Football and Falafel

So I ended my last post feeling very excited about the Arizona Cardinals and tonight’s vegetarian dinner. I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed on either front.

The Cardinals pulled out a close one, and we even stayed up past our usual nine o’clock bedtime to see it all.  Football season is just its own special kind of terrific.  By the end of the summer I’m crazily anticipating the opening kick-off.  I imagine Sunday after Sunday of thrills and excitement.  Sometimes it works out that way, and sometimes it doesn’t.  But the hope is ever-present.

Entering a new world of cooking and eating also adds some fun and spice (ok, there’s a pun) to my life.  Again, anticipation reigns supreme.  At least when it comes to cooking, I have some real control (as opposed to the jumping around I do in front of the TV).  I’m sure that at times this new experience will meet my expectations and at other times it won’t.  But today anyway, we had a great big score.  And here it is:

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Oh, oh, oh.  Falafel perfection.  This from-scratch version easily rivaled and probably surpassed any falafel I have ever eaten.  And I’m happy to give a big shout out to Tori (who I don’t know!) and her blog for providing me with a most wonderful recipe.  I really wasn’t sure that I had the chops for this one but it’s actually pretty easy.   Luckily as I was celebrating the Cardinals win, I remembered to pop the dry garbanzo beans in a bowl of water to soak overnight.  I’ve never done this before and I’ve not traditionally been a big bean eater.  I think that’s about to change.

After rinsing and draining the beans I popped them in the food processor along with  garlic, onion, parsley, flour (I used gluten-free),cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and a bit of cayenne:

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I processed  until the mixture was a bit crumbly but not yet like a paste:

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The mixture went into the fridge for a few hours.  While it was in there I also made Tori’s tahini, a mixture of sesame paste, lemon juice, more garlic, water and parsley.  This was also processed until it had a very creamy consistency.  Here’s how ours turned out:

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It is absolutely delicious.  After that there was nothing much else to do but roll ‘em up and fry ‘em up:

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Sous chef David was home by this time so he manned the “deep fryer”.  We fried these in grapeseed oil (the recipe recommendation)–not the usual color!  We also used our candy/deep fry thermometer for the first time, and what a difference that made.  We didn’t put anything in the oil until it reached 375 degrees, and we tried to maintain the temperature throughout.  As a result, the falafel were crispy on the outside and cooked through inside.  I chose to serve them atop a Greek salad rather than in pita (haven’t found gluten-free pita yet).  Frankly the falafel balls were so filling, the meal didn’t really need anything else.  Here’s a  close-up of a delicious bite:

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Yum.  While this was pretty labor-intensive for a weekday meal, we have plenty of leftovers.  And compared to the Amy’s Organic veggie burger I had for lunch today, a falafel and tahini with veggies on a gluten-free tortilla sounds like a big improvement.  I guess no matter what you’re eating it usually tastes better when you make it yourself.

So here we go…

Going Veg

David and I have been dancing around the idea of trying out a vegetarian diet for some time now.  A while back David watched a documentary called “Vegucated”.  You can read about the movie here.  While we “knew” on some level that the environmental impact of the world’s love affair with meat was negatively impactful, after David watched this movie we had a bit of discussion about the way our meat-based diet was contributing to the problem.  I refused to watch the movie at the time, probably because I knew I might have to rethink not only our diet but that evening’s dinner, which I believe was ribeye steak.

In truth, we have really cleaned up our diets quite a bit.  We eat almost entirely organic food and only a small amount of animal protein.  Admittedly our reason for doing this has been more health-based.  Neither of us wants to eat genetically engineered or processed food if we can help it.  Beyond that though, we believe that good physical health has more to do with mind-body awareness than any one specific diet.  So our reason for finally deciding to give a vegetarian diet a try is really driven by a commitment to walking the walk about the environment.

Our plan (for now) is to eat a vegetarian diet with no animal-based protein for one month.  I’m still a little on the fence about fish, especially when we travel, visit friends or go out to dinner.  I don’t want to compromise my social life or fun times with my friends and kids because of an overly restrictive diet.  I  guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

So, it was time to do what I always do…read, read and plan.  I know that a vegetarian diet can be delicious, but I also believe that learning how to cook these dishes well will help me stay enthusiastic and satisfied. And that brings me to tonight’s dinner:

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I know.  You want to be a vegetarian too!

This is a tofu and veggie stir-fry and the recipe is here.  This dish will make you (ok, me) forget meat.  It is that good.  I like tofu (especially sesame tofu from Whole Foods) but I’ve never been able to figure out how to create the firm edges and chewy texture at home.  This recipe explains how to do it. The key is to first extract all the liquid from the block of tofu by applying some pressure for a while, and then slice and bake it for 30-35 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  Here’s ours just out of the oven:

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That looks more appealing already, no?  The green beans, diced red pepper and tofu get a good stir-fry in some toasted sesame oil:

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The sauce is a combination of soy sauce, grated fresh ginger, honey, brown sugar and corn starch to thicken things up.  Once the veggies were softened I added the sauce which instantly stuck to the bottom of the pan and virtually dissolved.  Oops.  Not sure what happened there but I just added a bit of water to loosen things up and that seemed to do the trick.  I also added about 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes for a little kick.  Yes, I can improvise!

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We served it up over some fluffy brown basmati rice (which I got right for a change) and settled in front of the TV to watch football.  The dish was more successful than the Giants.  Oh well.

Next up, the Arizona Cardinals and some falafel.  I am optimistic about both.

 

A Handmade Gift for Me

As someone who has been involved in creating handmade items for years I know the joy of pouring love, energy and skill into an object with the intention of giving it to someone else.  I have given away many of my handmade quilts for wedding gifts (one was actually used as a chuppah!) baby gifts and birthday gifts.  Now that I can knit, the scarves, sweaters and shawls are given to the people I care about most.  And in my mind, nothing says “nurture” more than a delicious meal or sweet, made with love and shared with others.

I haven’t received many handmade gifts over the years, not because people don’t care about me, but because most people I know are not all that into these types of hobbies.  And that’s fine.  We get nurtured in all kinds of ways.  But yesterday, David presented me with this:

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I had mentioned not long ago that I needed a low cake plate for my various tarts and pies.  David hasn’t spent much time in his woodshop this summer because of the heat but he got back in there this weekend and emerged yesterday with this stunning turned cake plate made from mesquite wood.

It absolutely took my breath away, both because it is so beautiful and because he made it just for me.   A perfect gift.

Here’s a better shot of the grain:

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The natural design and color variations are stunning.  Here’s a close-up of the fun yellow edge:

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So cool. This piece of wood presented some wood turning challenges because of this:

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It’s quite a job to do high-speed turning when the lathe is bumping into this!  Clearly David had a “make it work” moment (thanks Tim Gunn) in his woodshop.  And he did make it work!  The “imperfections” in the wood only add to the uniqueness of the piece.  I like this view which shows the beautiful shiny finish and rounded edges:

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And I wasted no time in putting this plate to use:

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Unfortunately this Linzer torte still sitting on the springform pan base isn’t nearly as beautiful as the plate, but you get the idea.  I will definitely need to find a more appealing way to present, cut and serve without damaging the beautiful finish.  Not burning the edges of the Linzer torte is also a good idea.

It is wonderful to be surrounded by beautiful handmade things.  I feel very lucky to be able to give and receive.

 

 

21 Days of Meditation

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Somehow I just couldn’t start a post about meditation without some sort of lovely visual, even though this photo has nothing to do with my experience with meditation.  Meditative experiences maybe, but not the practice of meditation.  I hope you enjoy it anyway.

As I’ve alluded to time and again in this blog, I’ve been engaged in very intentional spiritual explorations for some time now.  For me “exploration” of any type usually involves reading, reading and more reading.  And that’s surely been the case here.

Years ago I read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and it resonated mightily with me.  It is not my intention to extensively discuss spiritual principles in this blog (I’ll leave that to teachers and practitioners), however, this was the book that started it all for me, specifically the idea that we are not our thoughts and feelings, but rather the observer of our thoughts and feelings.  I initially struggled with this concept until I started engaging with the spaces between my thoughts, moments of “being” without thinking.  And when I did, I felt great peace.  My spiritual journey has been one of greater engagement with the “me” that is the observer of the rest of it.

The actual practice of meditation is new for me, although I have considered many of my activities meditative in nature.  Hiking, knitting, sewing, beading all have repetitive, rhythmic bits that at times help free me from endless spinning thoughts thus creating clearer pathways to a deeper part of myself -the place where intuition and wisdom reside.  I think I was afraid to meditate, fearing that I would want to jump out of my skin with the stillness of it.  Reading books by spiritual teachers like Elizabeth Loesser, Pema Chodron, Marianne Williamson and Deepak Chopra helped me understand that meditation is simply about “being with whatever is there”.

Armed with the knowledge that there is no right or wrong “way” to meditate (at least I don’t believe there is) I decided to take bits and pieces of all the teachings and jump right in.  Or should I say, sit right down.  Every day for 21 days.   I know that “21 days to a new habit” is a pop-psych thing that’s been scientifically debunked but it was as good a time frame as any.  I’m past that time frame now and still going strong. Forget the beautiful nature visual, here’s where I sit:

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Pretty spartan, I’ll admit. No candles or statues or sounds of running water.   Yes, I do the finger thing:

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I make sure my body feels well supported, I tell Siri to let me know when 20 minutes have passed, I close my eyes, take two deep breaths and begin with a simple mantra as I breathe lightly in and out.  And then…

Whatever happens, happens.  And it varies every time.  Thoughts come and go.  I label them “thinking” without engaging with them.  Feelings come up.  I acknowledge them and return to a focus on breath and mantra.  I feel my body in new ways, experiencing the energy flowing through me.  Sometimes I’m aware of physical discomfort (itchy ears seems to be a problem for me).  I acknowledge the discomfort knowing it will pass, and it does.  Throughout the 20 minutes I try to remain relaxed and still, being with and observing whatever the experience is.

Meditating has been a revelation.  I’m starting to understand that these minutes are a microcosm of life in all of its richness and depth.  I can see that at any moment it’s possible to remain connected to my deepest self, the “me” consciousness, as thoughts and feelings flow on through.  It’s clear in meditation that my thoughts and feelings are impermanent- they arrive unbidden, are neither good nor bad, and I have a choice to engage or not engage with them.  Same with physical sensations and perceptions.  This is a powerful knowing that serves me well in all aspects of my life, although maintaining this clarity is way more challenging in the world when I am engaging with others and in more emotionally charged circumstances.

I have no idea where meditation will take me or the eventual impact it will have on my life.  What I do know is that I will continue with my daily practice.  Whatever I am destined to learn about myself in this process I know that it will serve me and the world around me.

My faith is bigger than my fear.