Saturday, November 16, 2013

Omniscient Orcas 1: A Bump In The Road

One of my favorite photos by Gary, and of course it's a dragonfly, which, of course (again), is the symbol of transformation.


Friends, family, readers, all of you-- I have been wondering how I would begin my next blog post.  The other day, friend of mine had mentioned that she checked my blog to get some updates; alas, I have been MIA for a few months now.  Though I express myself through my writing, I haven't quite been sure where to pick things up.  I am, though,  finding the urge to write again-- new life adventures have been unfolding both happy and sad. 

My life has taken an unexpected turn.  Perhaps unexpected isn't the right word, this new life event has been approaching for a while, I've seen glimpses of it, imagined it, flirted with it--I guess I just never believed it would happen.  Denial?  Fear?  Hope that there might be another way.  What happened?  Well, . . . Gary and I separated after being together for 12 years.  I moved into another home on Orcas and am trying to find the space to heal and ground.  

It has been one of the most difficult decisions I've had to follow through with.  It has also been cathartic, enlightening, empowering, and grief ridden.  Our life under the same roof was becoming more and more difficult for me to tolerate.   I began to feel sad, depressed, frustrated, and uncomfortable.  I became scared to live my truths.  I began to lose myself and no matter how I tried, I felt confused and unsure of myself.  My thinking had became so distorted that I started to question my own intuition and break rules that I had set for myself.  Not good.  I felt the need for space and somehow found the courage to take it.  

I love Gary with all my heart.  Being apart from him is like having something torn out of me.  There is also relief and slowly, new seeds are growing and old wounds are healing.  Who knows what can happen.

Most importantly, I am finally taking care of myself and following my gut.  I have not regretted a single moment in my life.  Not a moment.  I love life fully and passionately and believe it has bumps along the road that help us learn and become who we are.  This is just another one of those bumps.  I have been amazed at my own strength as well as the collective love and support that I have felt from those around me.  Thank you.  I am truly blessed and have extreme gratitude for this amazing life and what it offers.  Love and so much light to all beings, each and every single one of you. 

Omniscient Orcas is the title of my new series of updates.  This place seems pull truth out of people--the nooks and crannies of one's being.  There is no hiding from anything here.  So begins the next adventure, . . .

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bye Bye Bernie

Serafin says goodbye

We had to say goodbye to our bearded dragon Bernie a couple of days ago.  We found him in his cage in the morning.  So sad.  There was a large cricket die-off a few weeks ago and a horrible smell was coming from the cricket cage, so we are thinking it may have something to do with that.  Could they have passed on some sort of parasite?  Perhaps he was already sick?  Really, we don't know, but that is what I suspect.  

We got Bernie when Serafin was around 2.  Originally, when we lived in Oakland, Bernie lived in Serafin's room keeping her company.  We watched him grow from a 4 inch baby to a 15 inch adult.  He amazed a lot of our younger guests as he would swish around in the bath tub when he had a bath.  We always looked at amazement when he would shed his skin or scuttle after a cricket and swallow one up fast.  

The laying of stones

We had a burial for him.  Our little pet cemetery is growing.  Honestly, it's so much nicer to do it this way.  We used to get our animal ashes and keep them in a box.  Somehow being a part of the process, actually giving our beloved pets back to our "mother" in this form of burial seems very right to me.  I wish it could be more common practice for humans as well, afterall, that's where we all come from.  RIP sweet Bernie.  We miss you.  xoxo

Here lies Bernie the Bearded Dragon, Goldie the Bird, and Henry the Cat

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Orcas Dreams: Waiting for the Peonies

The Peonies are exploding in our garden, I wish I had better pictures, but my camera charger is MIA and this is what I've got for now!  Beautiful aren't they?  Imagine 4 bushes of these all throughout the garden!

Hi friends.  I know I've been a bit hit or miss these days.  I have to say that computer life is all fine and dandy when it's cold and rainy outside, but when it's this gorgeous, the last thing I want to do is be in front of a screen.  I am delving deeply into my life here on Orcas and fully involving myself in my community and surroundings.  I love it here.  It is beautiful beyond belief and I feel every cell of me vibing on this place.  

I have been sinking my hands into the earth and walking barefooted in our garden.  Feeling every pebble, stick and stone; my feet and my body, seem to be thanking me.  I marvel at how simple it is to feel so grounded and so blessed when there are times when the chaos in my head feels like an inserpassible mountain.  I am learning that, for myself, this connection I am developing with nature is filling me up in a way that I've never experienced before. This, my friends is why I came to Orcas-- to be closer to nature.   My body is coming alive, singing and moving with the rhythms of the seasons.  I can feel my heart extending outward and my entire sole and body opening, healing, feeling, being, living.  The sun is here and it's lighting me up!

Me in front of the Yarrow, this plant always reminds me of my mom!

All this said, things have not been all peachy, a large part of my life has also been filled with worry and stress.  I still have a not so happy husband, both mentally and physically.  His health seems to be up and down and I feel so completely powerless over his situation.  He's been having spells of depression and some sort of stomach illness (TBD).  He's now seeing a Dr. who he likes and will hopefully help pull him out of this mess.  Watching this entire process has been heart wrenching.  Strangely, I find myself getting strength from places inside me that I never expected.  It's amazing how difficulty helps you grow if you allow yourself to learn from it.  Anyway, that's all I can really say about that.  For those of you who know us personally and want to help out, I'd say give us a call and spread your love if you can, even if it's just an answering machine message.  My sweet husband could do with some extra TLC.

The kiddos are doing well.  Silas is all over the place.  He's such a sweetie, however my little Buddha baby has now started his tantrum phase and has also learned about hitting, scratching and kicking.  Lovely.  How did that happen?  Little brother and big sister now fight with each other, already, and it's reminding me of the days when I was young and my brother and I used to have it out with each other.  The good news is that now my bro and I are actually friends and don't need to kick each other in order to prove a point.  So hopefully that's what's in store for my little ones!  For the record, there is also a lot of laugh and play going on, so it's not all that bad!

Ms. Serafin is finishing school next week.   Her school has been a wonderful place, filled with beautiful people and beautiful surrounding grounds.  I'm excited to have found such a great place for her to learn and grow.   I know Silas will enjoy it too, as he already has fun getting into the mix of things with the bigger kids.  Serafin's 4th birthday is this month.  My sweet girl is growing up.  We're having a birthday party.  My Dad and bro's family will be visiting, along with one of my best friends, and join us in celebration along with some of our new Orcas friends.  I'm excited but also a bit unsure of what will be on the menu.  Serafin wants ice scream instead of cake, so at least that part's easy!  

I myself am doing fine.  I'm finding a new connection to my body that I haven't had in a while.  When I was doing a regular yoga practice I was so in tune with my body and since Silas was born I've had difficulty picking that back up again.  I've recently began practicing my fire dancing again and it has re-kindled my relationship with the fire arts.  Along with poi, I've been practicing the staff and feeling the flow of the stick as it moves around my body.  I have even begun a new business venture along this line as I've started making practice poi and ribbon wands to sell at the local farmer's market (probably next year).  So as you can see, my life is full and very busy.  Somehow I got inspired to stay up past my bedtime to update you all, because I love you and don't want you to think I've forgotten ya!  Night night!  :)

Our garden, my refuge!

Don't know if you remember the picture of my baby peas!  Well, they are growing and producing!  YUM!

The butterflies have been doing their dance in our garden.  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Carrot Ginger Soup

I make this pretty often.  Usually I buy large bags of carrots at a time.  At some point, there comes a time when I know they need to get eaten soon, or they will get spoiled, so in comes. . . . yummy carrot ginger soup.  It's easy and yummy and warms your heart and soul (good old ginger).  The original recipe, which came from the Whole Foods Cookbook, doesn't call for the beans and rice, however I liked the thought that I was adding some protein.  The additions makes the soup dense and adds a little flavor.  Truth be told, I haven't looked at the recipe for years, I just know that there are lots of carrots, ginger and onions in it, I have winged the rest.  Here's what I do. . .

. . . . . . . .

Carrot Ginger Soup:


2 Large Yellow Onions
8 Large Carrots
2 Inch piece of Ginger
2 Tbs of Coconut Oil
1 Cup of Basmati Rice
1 Cup of Cooked Chickpeas
1/4 Tsp of Marjorum
1/4 Tsp of Sage
1/4 Tsp of Salt
8 Cups of Broth

To Do:

Chop veggies into small pieces

Melt oil, throw in chopped veggies, cook for a couple of minutes and add seasonings, cook till soft

Add Broth

Add Rice

Cook till rice is done

Add Chickpeas.


Top with some bread with a little butter for dipping and enjoy!  YUM YUM!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Lilac-Rose Marmalade

Ok, so I'm a total beginner when it comes to making jellies/jams/marmalades, but I thought I would give this a try because it looked like fun.  Our lilac trees are in full bloom, they are so beautiful and smell like heaven.  Because I was curious, I was trying to figure out what I could do with those gorgeous buds.  I won't even bother going through my process, with this kind of thing, you'd get better instruction from wikipedia (!).  I will say, though, that I threw in some rose petals which added a nice twist.  

As the infused water was brewing I couldn't keep my eyes (and nose) off of it!  Also, I might add, she says this is a jelly, but mine came out to be more of a marmalade--kind of thick with a bitter/sweet quality.  If you have extra flowers, you can float them in some water or keep a bunch near your bed.  Lilacs encourage feelings of love and warmth, I most certainly will say that pulling of the buds was such a sweet and enjoyable thing to do.  Happy picking!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Food Coloring Pellets (or whatever)

What kid doesn't love to play with their food?

Ms. Serafin came up with this one herself.  In order to get breakfast going I wanted to have the kiddos distracted with something.  While Silas got a cupcake tin full of cheerios to sort (and munch on), the little Ms.  got something a little more complicated.  Since I know she loves experimenting with color I decided to let her play with her own cupcake tin full of water and food coloring.  

Hard at work

I gave her a dropper and an egg carton filled with baking soda (why the heck not?).  I didn't really have anything in mind, but I figure she could get busy doing whatever she wanted with said tools and I could get the morning going.  20 minutes later she comes up to me and hands me the egg carton full of mixed colors and says, "I want to see what happens when I freeze it."  Ok.  

Let's put it in the freezer!

So, after sitting in sub-zero for about 3 hours, we pull it out and notice each color has become a sort of hard and colorful (all be it a bit crumbly) pellet.  Of course with my Pinterest addicted brain, a bazillion different activities shot through my head; there are soooooo many possibilities and creations we could make with these small and colorful icy rocks (fairy dust for the fairy portal, mash em up and spread them all over paper, add vinegar, smear them into a rock).  But I had to stand aside and let the kiddo create.  And what did my sweet little nature girl want to do?  She wanted to set them on a rock "for the birds to look at".  I love that girl so much!  Her cuteness makes me want to squeeze her till she pops sometimes!

For the birds to look at.

Have leftover food coloring?  Throw those in the freezer too!  They will make another creative project for another day!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Orcas Dreams 11: Random Acts of Paint

Today I decided to do some random painting, the kids joined in too.  I don't know what possessed me, I suppose I just needed to do something creative. It is also very satisfying to add color to something.  The days have been beautiful here, but very long.  The littlest one has me up at about 6 and the eldest doesn't go to bed till the earliest 9:00.  With Gary being sick still, I have been full time "Mommying" it.  Total respect for single parents out there, it is hard work!  

I know some of you have been asking about the hubby.  We don't know what's up with him, just that he has been dealing with bouts of vomiting for several days at a time.  He's had three episodes of this in the last month and a half.  We are investigating and hopefully will find some answers.  I will keep you posted

So in the midst of all this, I've been trying to be creative and have fun.  Remember that burned Christmas tree?  Well today I had my way with it.  Not sure what I'm going to do with it next, I still have a little more painting to do, but the kids started getting paint everywhere and I had to call it quits before they tracked pink foot prints on the white carpet (pretty much the only thing I dislike about this house!).  Anyway, it makes me smile and also reminds me of something out of a Dr. Seuss book.  

So that's all for now folks.  Like I promised, I will get my garden pictures to you soon, I'm waiting for a nice sunny day to really show it in its glory (I'm also waiting for the peonies to bloom so I can show off a little).  It sure is beautiful here!

Regardless, just wondering, what random things have you painted lately??

Monday, May 13, 2013

The REAL Greek Salad

You don't know a real Greek salad, "horiataki" as it's called in Greek, until you've been to Greece, or had a Greek make one for you.  You know how sometimes you can find a, so called, Greek Salad in most all American type  restaurants, well, I say "Bleh"!  I'm going to teach you the proper way to have a Greek salad.  The way I had it when I would spend summer's in Greece.  After a long swim in the Mediterannean we would go to a Taverna and chow down, right before we went home for a nap!  Usually we would get a bunch of small dishes and all share, a Greek salad was one of these dishes and ALWAYs included in our lunch times.

This dish is easy to make and a crowd pleaser because it looks so pretty.  You can cut everything up the "morning of" and they will be fine sitting in the fridge till you are ready to go.  Here are the ingredients for a large salad (and remember, a Greek salad should NEVER have lettuce in it--yes, I feel very strongly about that!)


5 large large tomatoes sliced into bite size pieces
1/2 a sliced red onion
1 cucumber also chopped into bite size pieces
A small hand full of fresh dill
Handful of Kalamata Olives
A few sprinkles of Oregano
A pinch of salt
12 oz of feta cheese
Olive Oil
Balsalmic Vinegar
French Baguette or other yummy bread

To Make:

-Chop up tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and dill.
-Throw the above ingredients in a bowl and mix along with olives.
-When ready to serve salad, place large chunk of feta cheese on the salad and sprinkle with oregano.
-Drizzle with Olive Oil and Sprinkle with vinegar (enough of both to make the desired amount of dressing.  Remember, your ratio of olive oil to vinegar should be 3:1, if you are unsure, make the dressing separately).
-Now bring the salad to the table and toss in front of your guests!  
-And don't forget about one of the best parts!  Grab your bread and soak up some of those delicious juices!  Mmmmmm, I'm hungry just thinking about it!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Pill Bug Habitat

Ms. Serafin made a pill bug friend out in the garden last week.  Everyday since, when we went out side, she would dig into the dirt till she found  a rolly-polly and said,  "Look Mom!  I found Lasia (the name of said bug)".  When it was time to put Lasia back  where she found her, she was always sad.  

One afternoon the hubby decided to learn about "keeping" pill bugs so Serafin might not have to part too far from her new friend.  It really isn't all that hard.  Pill bugs actually live for 2-3 years and make pretty awesome bug pets, if you're into that kind of thing.  They eat mould, left overs and even bug poop, all stuff that is in the soil naturally.  You can add food to their habitat by including potatoe peels, ground up egg shell and any other goodies you might think would make good compost.  

To make a pill bug's home, you just be sure to have a container that is big enough for them to wonder, is moist, dark and rich with soil.   For water you can use a spray bottle and moisten the soil every now and then when it begins to look dry.  It's also important to be sure to include an entire pill bug "family" as they are social creatures and don't like to be alone.  We have about 20 pill bugs in our little habitat now and Serafin enjoys watching them wonder.   Sometimes she will pick one up and let it walk all over her hands and arms.  Yup, she definitely loves them and I love that she loves bugs!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Orcas Dreams 10: The Tent Caterpillars Have Arrived

In regards to tent caterpillars, I've been feeling quite sadistic these days.  The little crawlers have arrived and we are trying to get rid of their nests.  I was told about the outbreaks here on Orcas last year, which was apparently the worst year recordable.  When Gary first arrived at our new home, he said they were every where, munching away on trees and eating every leaf in sight.  By the time I arrived, in September, I could see the remanences of hundreds of cocoons all over the side of the house.   Now, when I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to my kids, I find myself getting annoyed at the main character and want to yell at him to stop eating.  Just stop it damn it!  ;)

Tent caterpillars are known for decimating trees, particularly fruit trees.  They work their way through the foliage one nice leaf at a time.  One "tent", which has hundreds, if not thousands, of caterpillars in it, can defoliate as much as 20% of a young tree, which can make it sick and even kill it.  We have about 20-30 tents hanging in our cherry blossom tree just outside of our house!  Not only that, but you would hope that these little buggers, no pun intended, would provide us with a plethora of beautiful butterflies. Well, it ain't so!  When they are finished with their metamorphosis, they become a brown moth.  Now, I know all creatures of nature are beautiful in their own way, but it's too bad that these little suckers couldn't be a little more, hmmm, well, at least colorful.

Although, I have read, they have been known to help with the eco-systems in the forests in some ways, feeding birds and other small predators, providing nutrients to the soil with their droppings and deaths, I'm not too excited about their presence, they kind of give me the shivers and make me cringe when I look at their nests.  There are just so many of them!  It feels like I'm in Attack Of The Catterpillars or something.  Also, I've even been told that when they do grow, they are out by the thousands, dropping from branches like rain pitter pattering our heads.  One person even said that her deck got so slippery from walking on squished caterpillars that she had to be careful not to slip.  Ew.  I sincerely hope all that is an exaggeration, I'm sure I'll find out soon enough!  Sigh.  I suppose this is just one of the not so romantic parts about living in the country.  

So what is our solution?  Tent Caterpillar control (or perhaps just a futile attempt at control).  If we see a tent, we cut down the branch and throw it in a bin to burn. My karma feels a bit threatened, I never feel good killing anything, but on the other hand, we're also trying to protect our baby trees.  We have cherries, apples, plums, peach, pear and chestnuts; I'd like to at least attempt to keep them safe, and without using pesticides and other nasty chemicals too.  Burning seems to be the Orcas preferred method of irradiation, either that or pesticides which is a big fat NO in our book.  Anyway, if I start to get rained on by caterpillars, there is no doubt you will hear about it from me!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Welcome Fairies!

We welcomed the tree fairies into our garden yesterday.   I was poking around Etsy and found Fairy Hill Woodworks.   I couldn't resist myself, these fairy portals were adorable.  I was so excited about showing it to Serafin who loves being a little fairy.  Now we get to slowly build our little fairy land.  Do you have fairyies, sprites or pixies in your garden??  This one followed a pill bug all the way on top of my car while I was putting my tools away.  That was the first time I ever had to tell a fairy to "move her little buttinsky!!"

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Nettle Pesto

Yeah, yeah, I've already been called obsessed in regards to nettles (RISHA!).  But being obsessed about nettles is not such a bad thing, they are so good for you!  We've got so many of them I figure why the heck not try and figure out something new!   I guess, to some, it might look like barf, but to me, it looks like a nutritious heaven.  So, after a friend of mine told me about making nettle pesto, I picked up some pine nuts and got to work.  Isn't this pesto so beautiful, such a very rich green. 

I've made pesto before, and even looked up some recipes before I made this, but really, it all comes down to your own tastes.  So, . . . I'm going to give you this recipe "the Greek way", . . . meaning there aren't going to be any measurements, it's going to be more like a handful of "this" and a pinch of "that" (at least that's how my yaya used to do it!).  Anyway, be brave, experiment and have fun!  Nettles are yummy!

A large pot full of freshly cut nettles.
Olive Oil
A few cloves of garlic
Two large handfuls of pine nuts
A large handful of grated parmesan cheese
A pinch (or two or three) of sea salt

Note: If you want to make your pesto in a mortar and pestle (how do you think "pesto" got it's name?), it may take more time but the outcome is supposed to be way better than using a cuisinart.  Me?  I took the speedy route and my results were still delicious.  Here's what I did:

To Make:

-Place nuts, cheese and garlic into cuisinart.

-De-sting your nettles by placing nettles in boiling water to blanch for 1-2 minutes.  

-Use tongs to remove hot nettles and put in colander, squeeze out any extra water.

-Add nettles to cusinart, plus a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil.


-Taste and add any extra flavorings, or more olive oil if too thick.

. . . . . .

I served some under a bed of baked cod that night, a little went a long way.  It was GOOD.  Pesto is strong wether it be with nettles, basil or whatever greens.  I've also put some in the freezer to have at a later date as I've been told it freezes well.  Anyway, that's all for now folks!  Hope you enjoy your nettle pesto!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Orcas Dreams Part 9: Going and Coming

One of the many sunsets that Gary took from "the top of the hill" in Oakland

 It's always nice to go away, but it's even more nice to come home.  There is something about absence that, as you know, makes the heart grow fonder.  My trip to Oakland was very sweet, that's the best way I can put it.  

I was bombarded by such a mixture of feelings.  I missed my old haunts.  The restaurants I used to frequent, stores I loved and strolls that I went on millions of times.  When I first arrived, literally the first thing I did (after managing to haul the kiddos to the rental car place, get the car seats in and head off), was take a drive.  With both kids conked out in the back seats I let the wheels take me where I wanted to go, back to my old home, on the hill, where both my kids were born, where I spent 9 years with my husband and watched a thousands of sunsets. It felt like no time had passed, the house looked just the same, only my heart ached a little with my sentimental spirit taking hold of me.  It felt good though.  I needed to go back and say hello.  

To be honest, I don't really miss Oakland.  Yeah, I miss my old home a little.  But it's mostly people I miss.  My friends.  My Dad.  Other family members.  I miss my people and here, in this new place, it takes time to find those connections.  I am though, slowly but surely.  There are a lot of people here that I really resinate with and look forward to cultivating relations with.

As the week progressed in Oakland, I visited all my old haunts and favorite places, I also noticed a few other things; I started to feel bombarded by lights, noise, people, smells, traffic, . . . yada yada yada.  Sigh.  City Life.  I have removed myself from so much of this stimulation that now, when I am in the midst of it, every cell in my body buzzed from the activity.  

I was amazed at how much more relaxed I became once I was back in Washington, sitting at the ferry landing with my kids waiting to get on the boat.  It was pretty instantaneous.  When I was in Oakland I was afraid to let Serafin get more than 10 feet away from me!  Here, both kids go toddling away from me and I don't feel like I have to reel them in every second.  We've been living in a bit of a bubble here.  Although Orcas is a part of this crazy world, somehow I feel safe here.  I don't know if it's an illusion or I'm just kidding myself, and in for a nasty surprise at some point; but really, here, people are so trusting and open it only serves to make me be the same.  

 Although my heart still says that the Bay Area is my home, Orcas Island is slowly morphing into a sturdy living foundation for me.  I don't know how long I will be here, but for now i'm excited to continue trying to create a full and happy life here for myself and my family.  I've been here for half a year now.  I can't believe it.  I said in the beginning I was going to give it two years before I really formed an opinion of wether I liked it or not.  Now I've bumped it up to three, so something must be right!

Monday, April 22, 2013

"Earth Day"

In my opinion, every darn day should be Earth Day, can you imagine how our world would be if all the consciousness that went into this one day was extended to 365 days a year??  If we respected the world we live in more then there would be so much fruit for all, AND less and less depletion.  Respect our Mother and she will take care of us.  I know, I know, I'm ranting a bit, but really, there is hope for our world, I believe it.  Let's work for a better future for our children!  XOXO  Happy "Earth Day", . . . every day and every night!  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Robot Rampage

 Um, my daughter is obsessed with robots.  As you may know, she was Plex (Yo Gabba Gabba) last Halloween.  She still dons her robot costume every once and a while and walks around the house saying "All systems A-OK".  Sometimes she even does a robot dance with stiff arms and legs.   

Here is a tour of the different robots in our house. . .

"This is Robot Feeree.  She comes from Peeree.  She likes to play on the swings and her favorite color is purple."

We are slowly working to color this robot who hangs out in our living room window.  He doesn't have a name yet, but he is Robot Plex's cousin apparently.

Ms. Serafin even insisted on a robot sandwich one morning!  She ate his entire body first and left his face.  Then she slowly picked off the raisins.  

And of course. . . we made use of her lego set.   This robot took some time to make as Silas doesn't share the same appreciation for robots as Serafin does, duh, he's only 1!  He came over and bulldozed our poor creation about three times before we managed to finish and put him higher and out little brother's reach!

That's all for now folks, over and out!  Bleeeeeeep!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tasty Tea 8: Nettle

Me surrounded by my nettle friends, in pure heaven!
Nettles are more than just a tasty tea.  Nettles are amazing!  The stuff is like liquid gold, rich in iron and calcium.  When I drink nettle tea, I just feel darned good, and so will you!  In previous blog posts, I talked about stinging yourself with nettles but I didn't go too much into the benefits of regular consumption of nettles.  This wonder herb has called to me since my first pregnancy with Serafin.  My mom had recommended them to help keep my iron levels up and the water retention down.    The stuff is amazing, yes, that's the second time I've said that.  Now, I drink them, I eat them and I even sting myself with them.

Whenever I'm feeling bloated I drink nettle tea.  Whenever I need energy or feel a bit down in the digs, I drink nettle tea.   It's a dieretic, anti-inflammatory and filled with anti-oxidents.  It is said to cleanse the body, flush the kidneys and help promote strong blood vessels.  There are periods of time when I drink this tea every day in large quart size jars.  I brew it in the morning, a couple of Tbs fulls of the herb and let it sit on the counter for a few hours till the tea is a rich dark green, then I carry the jar around with me till I've slurped it all up.  Yum.  Simply thinking about it is making me want to go and make myself a "cuppa".  You can also throw freshly picked nettles in some soup or, as I've recently learned, make pesto with them!

There is a large nettle field growing near our house, when I take my dogs out to walk I've been admiring its beauty.  It has been calling to me.  Nettles are best picked in early spring, when the young shoots are fresh from the ground.  Nettles should not be harvested and consumed after they have flowered, the old leaves contain irritants to your kidneys and digestive track.  If you are lucky, you can find it growing in your garden, I see them everywhere!

I was coming down the hill with a bowl full of nettles and tripped, a few leaves landed on my wrist and ouch!  It sure did sting for a bit, but yes, it was kind of a good pain!

If you haven't felt a nettle sting before, don't be shocked, they do have a bit of a bite!  Nothing too bad, but if you aren't ready for it, it can surprise you.  The hairs under the leaf and on the stem will prick you and you will get a few bumps, it can ache, but in some strange way I actually like it.  They say the prick is good for arthritis and other joint pain, perhaps that's why I don't mind so much, the nettles are just kissing me to help my achy joints!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Corners of Our Insides

Photo by G. Dorrington

I have been wondering what, and even if,  I would be inspired to write something this year for the "anniversary" of my mom's death.  Every year I have honored her somehow by  sharing memories and photos of her, talking about my experiences with her death and how it has changed me.  I have done some of that recently, but I haven't really touched on what's going on deep inside.  Despite my practice in presence, this day has been creeping up on me, sitting in the back of my mind for over a month now.  

Right now I'm sitting here with a glass of red wine, made from the very grapes that my mom planted.  She would have liked knowing that, I used to hate red wine.  I have lit a candle for her because wherever she is, I know she is surrounded with light, and in this light, we are connected.   I also grieve.  I grieve for my sweet and beautiful mother.  

My mother's death taught me so much about myself, most of the time I choose to speak of how strong I became after her passing.  I learned that in grief, there is also a birth.  That when the clouds lift, there can be a celebration of something new and profound.  After mom died, I found some inner strength and inner wisdom that was finally awakened.  It was most welcome and something I needed and, I believe, couldn't have happened with out experiencing her loss.

I haven't, however, spoken of the fear that settled in.  Yes, fear, that which "cuts deeper than any sword".  The suddenness of her death, the shock of it all made me realize how fast death can be upon us.  How things can be altered in an instant.  My life can change in a matter of seconds.  I know there is such beauty in this; I try to bathe in every minute of this glorious life, be it difficult, easy, fun or saddening.  The fear creeps up, though, especially during the harder times.  It's a deep fear of loss, of losing another that I love.  It hurts to even think of it.

I try my best to sit with it, to hold, love and heal the hurt girl within me, the one who is afraid.  The one who still misses her mother and is afraid of losing another family member, particularly a child.  At times, it tears at my heart strings like a saw ripping into me.  I can do nothing, but feel, for if I choose to ignore it, I become numb.

 I believe in looking deep within my friends.  It is the only way I can live.  Perhaps, one day, like the candle I have lit this very night, I will bring light and warmth to all those fears that hide themselves in the dark corners of my insides.  Perhaps one day, either in life or in death, I will become free of them.  As my favorite poet says, dear sweet Rumi, "The hurt you embrace becomes joy.  Call it to your arms where it can change."  

Love and Light

. . . and thanks mom, . . . for everything.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sweet Life

The blossoming tree out in front of our house.

My poor Gary is sick again.  First it was his ribs back in December, now it's some weird stomach thing, that's the only way I know how to describe it.  It's been over a week now since he's been feeling bad.   It has been hard.  

Sometimes I find it difficult for me to write about things of this nature, like I'm letting you all into the darker side of my life, or there is something (I don't know what) to be ashamed of if life isn't going the way I want it to.  As if certain things are meant to be kept "secret" for some reason.  I guess I have been trained, somehow, to store away my darker moments and to carry them on my shoulders.  But alas, I know, deep down, I find solace in sharing.  

Yes, I find grounding when I write.  Getting the inside out of me.  So here I am, at my computer typing away for 10 minutes at a time; while managing laundry, diaper changes, food on the table, picking up and dropping off, and making silly faces at my children.  I already feel a little better knowing that you are here, reading, holding a space for me to be able to share my stories.  I thank you for that sweet readers.

It is hard for me to care for the sick.  I am realizing that I am no nurse.  As much as I have practiced healing in my life via massage, Reiki and other modalities, I find myself having difficulty being a constant care giver.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, it sucks ass seeing somebody you love in pain.  "I just want it all to be better, right now!"  That was my inner little girl talking.  All my energy, at the moment, is going towards taking care of the kids, helping my sweet husband with whatever he might need, squeezing in the occassional shower (I kinda smell), and trying to sleep (what's that again?).  Oh yeah, and I'm missing my mom too. Bleh.  

I remember though,  I have so much to be grateful for.  I am an optimist, even in my darker moments, I continued to be even after my mom died, seeing life as a beautiful fleeting time on this earth.  I also know that harder moments are here for a reason, some lesson that the universe has put before me that I am needing to learn.  Truth be told, this isn't all that bad.  There is so much around me that makes me smile and find peace.  When my eyes are baggy and black with circles from lack of sleep, and I feel like my legs are going to fall from under me (like at the end the day when I have to go up two flights of steps to change a 4th poopie diaper), I take a deep breath and I put one foot in front of the other and I look at the blooming tree in front of our house.  That is when I remember that this too shall pass, everything will change, and that life really is amazing.  Like the petals falling from the tree and the flower buds turning into sweet fruit--life keeps moving and life too is sweet.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mom's Torta

Serafin love's Torta, as you might be able to tell, she's ready to grub down!
I have been enjoying sharing my recipes with you all lately.  My mom always taught me that food was such a wonderful way to connect.  A time when everybody can sit down together and talk, or just simply be together enjoying the flavors they are experiencing.  As a result of my mom's passion for food, she was an amazing cook, she even took lessons from Julia Child and one point.  

This dish in particular reminds me of my mom.  One day, she showed up at my doorstep with two bushels of chard and a recipe.  "Here!"  She said as she handed me everything.  "Cook this!"  I was in my mid twenties at that point I wasn't as confident in the kitchen, I remember reading the instructions carefully and making it exactly as it said to.  Now, I have to say, I've probably gotten a bit sloppy in the kitchen (maybe too confident, or, more likely, just lazy).  I make do with what I have and am always throwing in a bit of this and a bit of that.  The recipe I am going to share with you is a spin off of the one my mom handed me, catered to what was in my fridge today.  I have flavored it many different ways, depending on my mood and I'd say 9 times out of 10 we all enjoy this yummy meal.

. . . . . . .

Mom's Torta


A bushel of leafy greens, leaves pulled from stems and chopped. (Today I used rainbow chard because it looked fresh and yummy.  I have used all types of chard and kale for this recipe.  I also chopped the stems today and threw them in to give the torta a crunch, but it's not necessary.)
2 Cups of cooked rice ( I usually make this dish the day after a stir fry or some other rice dish, I make extra and it is ready to go the next day when I assemble this dish!)
1 large chopped yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 grated zucchini
Handful of mushrooms chopped
4 large eggs
1 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Cups of cooked rice
1/2 bread crumbs
3 Tbs of butter
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Other seasonings (if desired sometimes I use curry, sometimes I use thyme and sage, whatever, you decide!)

To Prepare:

-Chop all veggies so they are ready to go.
-Grate cheese, set aside.
-Pull eggs out of fridge, set aside to get to room temperature.
-Saute onion, garlic, zucchini and mushrooms.
-After the onion mixture is cooked down, throw greens on top to cook.
-Put in a bowl to cool down to room temperature.
-Set oven to 425 degrees
-Add cooked rice to cooled mixture.
-Add 3/4 cup of cheese.
-Add Eggs.
-Grease with butter a 9 inch spring-form pan.
-Add 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs to pan and make sure all sides are coated with crumbs.
-Put cooked rice mixture into pan.
-Combine the rest of the breadcrumbs with the rest of the cheese.
-Sprinkle breadcrumb/cheese mixture of top of uncooked torta.
-Dot with butter.
-Put in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, checking regularly to be sure it's not burning.
-When eggs appear to have set and torta looks cooked through, you are ready to eat!

We always find this dish is better once it has cooled down.  I usually make it in the morning and we enjoy it at night with a salad, it's light and yummy.  Bon Appetite!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Orcas Dreams 8: On The Fence Post

Do you notice something peculiar about this picture??  Here, take a closer look, . . .

Yes, those are my daughter's shoes.  My kiddo took her shoes off at her friend's house a few days ago, of course she didn't want to put them back on.  I must have left them sitting on the top of the car because that is the only way I can think that they got to sitting on this fence post--they fell off my car and somebody took the time to actually put them in a visible spot for me to see.  That would have NEVER happened in Oakland.

When I drove by this spot, two days later, I saw them out of the corner of my eye.  I stopped and did a double take.  "No way?" I thought, "Those couldn't be her shoes."  Sure enough, I reversed, and there they were, sitting on the fence.  When I realized what had happened I smirked; what a nice surprise, I definitely dig it here.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

She put it on the shelf for me.

A favorite photo I have with my mom and I from when I was a kid.

This April, it will be three years since mom died.  I can't believe I've lived that long without her.  In so many ways it still feels so fresh, in others, so much has happened that it feels like she passed long ago.  I think though, because of who she was and how so much of her was a part of me, in many ways it still feels like she is still with me.

I get frustrated at times when I can't just pick up the phone and give her a ring.  Sometimes I ask her aloud, "Mom?  What the heck do I do now?" or "Did you see that mom?"  Yes, she is a part of me.  Even though I can't actually hear her voice with my ears, I can hear her speaking into my thoughts.  This time of year always brings back more memories than usual.  I definitely feel inspired to write about her, she was an amazing women and touched the lives of many people.  My heart still aches for her, even just today, when I was feeling sick and moping about it, I looked at my hubby and said, "I miss my mommy."  Some things will never change.

On a sweet side of things, I have a cute story for you all.  It was an incident that showed me just how connected I still am with my mother; reminding me that she is still around, looking after me and my loved ones, just as she always did.  My sweet mom.

. . . .

As you know, this winter, Gary fell and cracked a rib (or two).  I was treating it with a comfrey poultice and trying my best to think of different herbs to help in his healing process.  My mom had taught me a lot of her herbal ways, I even sat with her week after week while she went through all the body systems and she told me what was good for what.  Of course, only so much of the knowledge has stuck, but it's only a note pad away.   After she died, I kept a lot of her own notes, she had binder's full from classes she sat through over the years.  It's nice to go through them and see her thinking, I rub my fingers over her handwriting.

I was wracking my brain as to what else I could give to Gary to help with his lungs.  He asked me to give him something to tonify and keep his lungs strong.  He had started to have difficulty breathing with the slightest exertion and it was worrisome.  I searched on the internet and came to a page that listed herbal lung tonics.  I landed on Elecampagne.  My mom had talked a lot about the herb, she had asthma and used it herself.  I even remember her pointing it out in the garden as she showed me all her garden herbs.  After my research I sat for a minute thinking where in the heck I was going to get Elecampagne tincture, since I hadn't used it before I didn't think I had any.  My mom had given me a little "first aid" kit with lots of different herbal "essentials" and I thought if I had it, it would be there.

I stood up and walked into my pantry trying to remember where the kit was.  Most of my herbs and tinctures were still in boxes from our move.  I was under the impression that I had only pulled out what I had needed thus far, I had really wanted to organize my herbal arsenal and getting all the bottles out of the boxes seemed pointless.  I was wrong about that though, somehow, this tincture, that I didn't even know I had, was sitting right in front of me for months.

The infamous bottle, I love her handwriting
I flipped on the light and there it was, right on the shelf waiting for me.  I hadn't even noticed it before that moment, and I go in and out of that room probably 20 times in a day!  It was the very first bottle I saw when I walked into the room, and a large 32 oz bottle at that!  As if my mom had put it there herself.  I could hear her voice in my head saying, "I made you do the work figuring out what herb to use, now here is the medicine!"

I smiled, then I cried, then I prepared some medicine for my husband and said allowed, "Thank you Mom."  I know she was with me.  I know it was her.  It WAS her!  Wether it was her ghost or her spirit leading me, whatever (!); somehow, she had given me the for-sight to figure out what was needed and then led me to the actual medicine that she had prepared for me years before.

Our dead are always with us, especially the ones we love.  They imprint themselves into our lives and onto our souls.  I see my mother everywhere I look--in the echinacea plants that are beginning to grow in our garden, in my sons blue eyes, in the things I say and do, in her favorite movies, in sayings I hear, and even in my very own pantry!  She is everywhere.  When I miss her physically, I only need to look around and there she will be, in one form or another, joining me along life's ride with her sweet smile and her words filling my heart with her motherly love.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Keep The Beet Salad

I love beets.  Aren't these just gorgeous?  I'm drooling just thinking about them.  I don't eat them too often, they aren't a favorite with the rest of the family, but every once in a while these thick skinned, rooty vegitables call to me.  At the farm stand the other day I noticed a big bowl of them for sale and I just couldn't resist. 

Today, as I was cleaning and cutting them, I was admiring their beautiful color, a deep magenta.  If you like beets, I hope you like that color, because it gets everywhere; on the cutting board, on your hands, on your tongue.  If you eat a lot of them, they will  even turns your poop and pee pink--a great incentive to get a 3.5 year old, who loves pink, to eat them, wink wink.  

Since I posted the picture, above, on my fb page a few people had asked me how I like to cook them.  So, I thought I would share with you one of my favorite beet salad recipes.  I wish I had a picture of how pretty this salad really is, but alas, I got carried away by my tummy grumbles and we all sat down to dinner before I remembered to snap a photo.  Regardless, this salad is easy, yummy and keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days.  I usually have it as  a side to a meat dish, like roast chicken.  In the mornings it call me for breakfast and is usually gone by mid afternoon the following day.  FYI, the walnuts can get a little soggy over night, but I have never minded.  If it bothers you, pick them out and toast some more!  Here ya go!


5 medium sized beets
1 cup of walnuts
1/2 Red onion chopped lengthwise into long slivers
1/2 cup feta cheese
3Tbs of olive oil
1 Tbs of red wine vinegar
Salt to taste

First, cook your beets: (I usually do this in morning so there is sufficient time for the beets to cool down)
-Set oven to 400 degrees.  
-Wash them well, cut the heads and tails off them, you can keep the greens for stewing later.  
-Put beets in an oven proof, airtight, container with an inch of water.  You are going to steam them in there for about an hour.  You will know when they are done if you can stick a fork into the center easily.  
-When they are finished, set them on the counter to let them cool down.  
-Once cooled, you can easily peel off their skins, now they are ready!

Preparing the salad:
-Cut your beets into bite sized pieces, throw them into your salad bowl.
-Toast your walnuts in a medium skillet, or, you can do this in the oven while your beets are cooking (pay attention, they burn easy). 
-Add the walnuts and the onion to the bowl.
-Drizzle the olive oil first then the red wine vinegar on top of your mish mash.
-Add salt 
-Toss salad.
-Once everything is evenly coated crumble your feta cheese over the top and serve!