Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's About Thyme

Sunday, at the south Austin garden center, It's About Thyme, I spoke on using fresh herbs in your cooking. I also taught the audience how to make homemade vanilla extracts and vinegars for using in cooking or even using as thoughtful, holiday gifts.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Flower in the Sidewalk

Recently, a friend who is going through a very difficult time said to me “The hills and valleys of life help us appreciate the flat spots.” How right she is as we travel through rough patches in our lives, it is good to remember that life is a journey, not a destination, a process, not a product.

Some of you might not know that I love art. I love painting, drawing, arranging flowers, welding, and taking photos. When, I look back at my photos over the years there are a couple of themes that appear frequently. One is my fascination with flowers growing in the roughest terrain. It has amazed me since childhood that a flower can sprout up in the narrowest slit of concrete or asphalt. I remember stopping on a walk with my mom as we walked down the sidewalk. I must have been quite young, because we were holding hands. I stood there in amazement at a little yellow flower supported by a short stem and accompanied by beautiful green leaves all alone smiling up from a small crack in the sidewalk. I am sure we were on an errand, to pay the electric bill, pick up a prescription or go to the bank, but for the life of me I can’t remember where we were going that day. I just recall the feeling of her warm soft hand in mine, as we stopped for a second and admired this little miracle. There wasn’t another flower, or patch of grass for that matter, for yards and yards.

I asked my mom about how this was possible. How could a small delicate flower push its way through the hard rough concrete from the dark into the light? She just explained that given the slightest bit of water, and a glimmer of light, the littlest seed becomes strong enough to overcome its meager or rocky surroundings and survive, even share its strength and beauty with the world. I don’t have a picture of that day, only the one in my head. However, I have the one here that I took on a recent trip to California. I share it with you as a reminder that sometimes beauty is small and fragile, like life, and you must embrace that beauty when it is offered, but it is all around us. We just have to take time to look for it and acknowledge it. Thanks Mom for taking the time all those years ago to show me a glimpse of beauty in that moment together.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Less is More

I went to a wonderful retreat last Friday with Renee Trudeau, the author of A Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal at the Lost Pines in Bastrop. I really enjoyed the day and I really enjoyed spending time with other women. One thing that struck me is the concept that Self-Care does not always mean "doing something". Taking care of yourself can mean doing less, putting away thoughts, reframing an experience, or just quietness. Cell phones, e-mail, the Internet are ever present.....It is said that people on average handle 6 times the information on a daily basis as they did in 1960. http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2595

With all this information zooming at us, we may feel the need for speeding up. It is easy to understand why there is a major coffee shop on every corner and "energy" drinks galore at every check-out stand and convenience store. We become over-stimulated, overscheduled, overworked, overwrought, overwhelmed.......That is one of the ways that we dilute our power and our presence.

So, as we have opportunities, offers, obstacles and ideas, we need to ask ourselves some questions:
What does my emotional self need right now?
What does my spiritual self need right now?
What does my physical self need right now?
What do I need mentally right now?
How does this fit into my values?
How does this fit into my vision for how my life could be?
What will this cost in energy, time, money?
If I take this on, what will I have to give up to maintain my life balance?
Who can help support me in my decision?
How would I advise my best friend in this same situation?
Is there a "should" involved? (Shoulds are great signals for when something does not fit into your life, but is hard to say no to because of old stories or habits.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Guinness Beef Stock

Today I'm starting the lengthy process of making Guinness Beef Stew.