If you read or see something that resonates with you, 
please leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you!


Seasons change

well. Thank you for your comments on my last post. I wrote a comment in that post summarizing much of what I'd read from you all. I hope you have a chance to go back and read it. I am so happy to have met so many amazing people with similar goals!

On Monday, I start school. I may have mentioned it before - I can't remember! The year I was pregnant, 2006, I completed two semesters of school for my Master's degree in Public History. But when Tristan came and I barely had time to take a shower, I knew I'd made the right decision to take a break.

I am signed up for two classes but I may need to reduce that to one. I am nervous. I am excited. But mostly I am excited. I love history. Especially personal history and place history and thing history - and these are what make up public history. My husband and I have a little joke - whenever someone asks me a question on world or ancient history I always look to him because really, I don't know much about world history! In college I focused on 19th-20th century American history...boring right? At least as compared to the history of the world? But my hubby came from Iran where schooling was learned and tested in much greater ways. I remember studying Alexander the Great in junior high, but I couldn't tell you much about what I read. My hubby knows all about that stuff though. I think he thinks it's pretty funny that I majored in history but couldn't tell you much about the Silk Road or the Roman Empire. Except from what I watched on HBO's Rome. The last show I enjoyed when my son was a little one. I don't watch TV anymore. Movies occasionally, but T.V....are you kidding?

So when will I study? I'm not getting a nanny and Tristan is not going to day care. I will study in the mornings, during his naps, and if he goes to bed early, I will study at night. Occasionally I can't sleep so I will keep a book near my bed. I've heard people can do all sorts of things with kids, even finish a degree. So I suppose I can do this. But other things will suffer - this blog for one. My crafty projects for another. I hope to post here occasionally though. I use this blog as an outlet for writing, among other things, so when I get excited about something, be sure you will hear about it here.

If for some reason this whole going back to school thing doesn't work, I think my life may change in other ways. I guess I always give myself an out, in case of failure (and not wanting to look like a failure!) But the thing that always motivates me is asking myself, "Is this the life I want to lead? --No? Then what needs to happen so that I am living the life I want to live?" This served as the impetus needed to divorce my first husband, apply for school when I started the master's program, have a child - so many life changing events began with this question.

The next time I write here may be a blast from the past...or maybe just some inspired thought from my classes or reading!


How to tread as lightly as we can...yes, how?

(this is quite a long post, but I hope you'll stay with it and give some feedback from questions at the bottom!)

Before New York -Rediscovering the Wilderness of 1609 by Peter Miller

This is the title page article that has beckoned me for several days now, from the September 2009 issue of National Geographic. I guess I'm predisposed to gravitating toward such an article because I'm a history nut, especially this sort of anthropological history, which takes an educated stab at what Manhattan looked like 400 years ago. By using a map made by the British Army dating back to the Revolutionary War, and by taking one animal, the beaver, which happened upon the banks of the Bronx River in 2007 after years of restoration, one ecologist and a huge team of people were able to weave together an ecosystem where the beaver both depended on and was depended upon for food, shelter, water, trees, and many other animals, insects and elements. The artist - well, ecologist, -who spawned this idea of finding out what Manhattan looked like before too many people came, was able to come up with a virtual look at a wild Manhattan - a lovely forest with animals and trees that once had potential to be a park on par with Yellowstone.

What stood out to me the most about this article was this thing called the Muir web. "Consider a beaver that lived at Times Square in 1609. If you grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and lifted him out of the web, you'd find lines connecting him to a slowly meandering stream, to the aspen trees he ate, and to the mud and twigs he used to build a lodge. Not only that, you'd also find lines to the bobcats, bears and wolves that depended on him as prey and to the frogs, fish, and aquatic plants that lived in the pond he helped to create. 'The beaver, it turns out, is a landscape architect, just like people...You need him to flood the forest, which kills the trees that attract the woodpeckers that knock out cavities that wood ducks use for shelter.' Lifting a beaver out of the web disrupts cores of other residents which demonstrates how important it can be to think about an ecosystem as a network."

After reading this I began to think about what it would be like if someone in my "network" were lifted up out of this particular ecosystem. Individually, I thought, we may not have too much of a physical impact. For example, if I were lifted up out of this ecosystem, the environmental impact might not make too much difference - the air conditioner would still hum, the water would still run, gas and electricity in my house would still be used. I don't drive all that much, but that would be slightly lessened...you get my drift here. The husband, wife, father, mother of a household contributes different things to the survival of that unit, be it food, money, shelter, keeping the house clean, laundry clean, whatever. Ok. That said, we all know the bigger impact of an individual loss is the emotional one, even when the fallout affects other aspects of one's life. So it's interesting for me to think the same way about an actual ecosystem, like that of Mannahatta (Lenape people's name for Manhattan meaning "island of many hills" according to NG) 400 years ago, as individual species slowly died off in favor of infrastructure, people, "progress", growth, etc...a smaller picture of what is going on worldwide today. So what here is the emotional impact of our environmental destruction? A tree, for example, may continue to grow in the worst smog, drought, or poor-soil environment, but will that tree be as strong and healthy as a similar tree in a clean-air, soil-rich, healthy environment? Of course not - though they both may continue to grow at a similar rate. The effects of the environment on that first tree may be unseen, perhaps the seeds may be altered in some way though, and that will affect the way the next tree grows from that seed. This perhaps is the psychological equivalent to a child growing up in a family that doesn't function well or doesn't love the child.

In the way that invasive, non-native species often take over a piece of land, choking out native species and all the intricate, woven lives that surround them, we too, as a people are doing this at an alarming rate, causing so many different kinds of impacts we cannot possibly foresee. So what can we do? People, for now at least, are here to stay. A non-native species is invasive, as we are. My only thought is to come up with some life guidelines for treading lightly on this earth we call home in order to have the least impact with the homes that each of us live in.

Tread lightly.
Use the earth you have wisely.
Use the conveniences you have wisely.
Love your children as though they are the very seeds you plant for survival.

These are so general and I would love to hear what each of you have to say about this. Aside from the extremes like Low-Impact Man, what thoughts can you come up with that contribute to a general life set of guidelines for creating the least impact while still living where you are (meaning, I don't think too many people are willing to live in a Manhattan apartment without using electricity like Low-Impact Man)? And also, what are you doing that is "extreme" or out of the norm for where you live - or anywhere, for that matter?


by the way, if you want to see what NYC looked like from some random street 400 years ago, visit the Mannahatta Project here.


Panic subsiding...

bridge at Japanese Gardens, Portland, Oregon

When I was 21, I looked ahead and saw a long decade and a long life, stretched out before me. I was perfectly happy to be 21 and didn't see any reason to get any older...we all know how that turned out.

About a month ago, I was swimming in a pool and I looked around at the other people, both young and old, and suddenly I felt a wave of panic...I was going to be 35 in a month. Had I done all I wanted to do on this side of 70? Certainly not, but my time had filled in as it had, and there was nothing I could do about it now. But was I satisfied? Content? Even, dare I say, happy? Yes, yes and yes. While the wave of panic, which I decided was a little glimpse of the "middle age crisis" that supposedly hits at about 40, slowly subsided, I remembered that all I have is this moment. Judging my past or worrying about my future won't change anything in that moment, and in that moment, I realized I had all I could ever dream of in my life, so yes, I was happy and I am happy.

I turn 35 today, half way to 70. I don't feel like I've lived 35 years, but when I think about my very earliest memories, they do seem very long ago. I have a wonderful, sweet, fun husband, an adorable, rascally 2 1/2 year old, a caring family, wonderful friends, creative outlets, daily inspiration, beauty all around, health and healthy choices, delicious food, a willingness to make changes and a gorgeous view when I come to sit in my little office on mornings like this, before the sun rises. Is everything perfect? Heck no, but I don't think it's supposed to be.

Or maybe it is - just perfect for me.



If any of you read my very first post back in March, you'd know that a big reason I started this blog was due to the inspiration I received after reading about Amanda Blake Soule's blog in that month's issue of Mothering Magazine. So it was interesting what occurred yesterday, as I was catching up on reading some blogs and got a chance to read a little interview between Heather at Beauty That Moves, a blog I love, and Amanda at Soulemama. Both are lovely, creative women who have wonderful blogs that I enjoy reading. I was so engrossed in the interview that I continued to read the comments posted afterward. So many wonderful comments, but one thread stood out to me. A woman had written something that seemed a little resentful of Amanda, perhaps of her life in general. Amanda took the comment in stride, and responded in a way that looked at the comment as a question. Another reader responded to the woman's comment as well, bringing up some wonderful points - if I can translate into my own words -Amanda's blog is read consistently by so many people because it is consistently thoughtful, real and good. Her output takes a tremendous effort on her part, and certainly, she did not get to where she is without hard work. Reading the two women's comments made me realized how I felt after reading the interview, that which compelled me to continue reading into the comments: inspired. And I think this is why so many of us read her blog. It is truly inspiring.

We can choose to look at other people's lives and be jealous and resentful, or we can turn that around and allow other people to be sources of inspiration. On this note, I just want to say how grateful I am for all of the friends I've made in this "sphere" of my life since March. Nicole, Michelle, Nicola, Jodi, Pennie and Kyndale, thank you for your wonderful blogs and thank you for inspiring me every day!



yellow and orange tomatoes from our garden!

Gazpacho Soup - the quick, easy, delicious way

6 tomatoes, blanched and cored, coarsely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped (you can gut the seeds if you want, but I never do)
1-4 cloves of garlic (depending how spicy you like it!), cut into quarters
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
a squeeze of fresh lemon (the juice from about 1/4 lemon should do it!)
1/2 jalepeno, chopped (optional. I didn't use this, the garlic made it spicy enough for me!)

In a food processor (or blender, in my case), put in tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, garlic, onion, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper (and jalepeno, if using). Blend until fairly smooth, but leave some texture! Taste. Good? Chill for an hour or so. Then eat...or forget the chilling. Just eat.

By the way, I've made this several times, and I had a better tasting soup when I used a variety of medium and cherry tomatoes than the larger, watery tomatoes. The more flavorful the tomato, the more it seems to pack a delicious taste-punch.

And just to give credit where credit is due, my step-mom gave me the basis for this recipe, telling me that what really makes it delicious is the olive oil! I think she's right!


Going Green Gradually update - washrags

climbing flowers - Kauai

My aunt is pretty good at hand work. Did I mention that before? Anything I could ever want to do, she would be the go-to-girl . Between her and my mom, pretty much everything is covered. How lucky is that? Master craftspeople at my fingertips. I'm bragging now. And she might balk at the term, but you get the idea. Even the simplest things, I ask about. Like what kind of yarn to use if I wanted to crochet my own wash rags? I am just about done with the synthetic sponges I bought in bulk last year, and am thinking I won't buy them again. I know I can purchase these on Etsy, but come on now, I can make these (I'm guessing I'm not the only one who says this to herself!) 

When I was growing up, I had a lovely woman as my babysitter, but she became more like a Grandma. She was wonderfully loving and affectionate and kind. I'd like to say I learned as much from her as I did my own mother, and certainly more than any of my grandparents, who all lived in a day's drive away in southern California. I called her Grammy. When I was little, her lap was about the most comfortable spot in the whole house. From her, I learned about living with only a washing machine, no dryer, and hanging up the laundry on a line to dry, about scheduled meals, four o'clock crackers and grapefruit juice with vodka (good for the blood), homemade candy, the song of mockingbirds, and crocheted washrags. It was the only time I saw her do any type of handwork. She would wear out her kitchen washrag and would need another one. Crocheting merely served her as a practical use. 

So, not having had the foresight to ask Grammy herself (who passed away in '92, God bless her), my aunt Sheila had the answer. 100% cotton was best, she said. Several weeks later, I asked again just to remind myself. "Just a minute," was all she said as she walked into her room, re-emerging with these two lovely washrags she crocheted for me.

Yesterday, I confessed to her that I was having a hard time using them, they were so beautiful. "I knew you would," she told me.

In the picture there is my one and only Brandywine tomato that made it. The only one that came out at all. I think our weather isn't suited for these types of tomatoes. My hubby picked it late at night and thought it had ripened completely, but it hadn't. I had dreams about that tomato...well, I'll still partially fulfill them. 

Next post will be a delicious recipe for Gazpacho soup (but this tomato pictured is not slaughter-bound. It is going between two slices of yummy bread with some basil).

Going Green Gradually update - deodorant

homemade deodorant

Yesterday I finally did it. I've been thinking about it for so long, knowing I wanted to do it. So overwhelmed with the task of...buying the right ingredients. I made my own deodorant. I am quite pleased with the results. Not too difficult either...shea butter, cocoa butter, and two that I already have on hand - baking soda and corn starch. I had Lavender essential oil but I bought Sweet Orange to add to it. I have leftovers of everything but the cocoa butter which I bought very cheaply in bulk- the exact amount I needed. I originally saw this recipe over at Angry Chicken.

3 Tbs. Shea Butter
3 Tbs. Baking Soda
2 Tbs. Corn Starch
2 Tbs. Cocoa Butter
2 Vitamin E oil gel caps - (which I did not use, but I can see this would probably emulsify it more, although I don't have a problem with just rubbing a little-it warmed up pretty quickly and easily)
lots of essential oil (I used 20 Lavender drops and 10 orange and I can barely smell it. I don't think I can smell the orange at all. Next time I will add a little more. The overwhelming smell though, for me at least, is the cocoa butter, which is heavenly in itself.)

Wore it yesterday, was perfect, didn't get oily, didn't dry out my skin, and best of all, in the middle of August? I didn't have the scent of summer. If you know what I mean. Actually, best of all, I don't have to wonder about some of the unpronounceable ingredients as in my previous deodorant. I wouldn't be surprised if this became part of my handmade Christmas gifts to friends and family (for those who I think might like it). I also realized how easy it would be to make a lip balm or a nice lotion, maybe with just a slight variation of this recipe.



A highlight day

Kalapaki Bay, Kauai, July 2009

Kauai, July 29th, 2009

Today we went on a lovely little day trip. We arrived at Kilohana Plantation for a train ride at 10 a.m. and rode around the old plantation, one of the last working sugar plantations on the island. They are currently using most of the land that still remains as part of the Plantation to grow crops to see what grows best, which they will then sell at a Farmer's Market that will be run from the Plantation. Sounds like a good use of the land to me.

In the middle of the trip we stopped to feed some wild pigs and goats and one sheep. Some of the train riders continued on their ride while a small group of us stayed with our guide, Kai, who had us spray down with bug spray (wish I'd brought my own!), grab a walking stick made from mango wood and head down a rainforest path to the valley of the island. Along the way we saw several lovely kinds of ginger. One was a honeycomb ginger that when you rubbed your hand on, made your skin smell of ginger...sweet! 

There was beautiful plantlife but Kai said 95% of the growth on the island was non-native, and he pointed out one example, a huge mango tree that was becoming strangled by a banyan tree. Despite the sadness surrounding the idea that much of what we were looking at was not Hawaii but more an idea of Hawaii, and that native plants are going extinct, it was a lovely, lovely hike. Along they way there was fruit on the ground that I'd never seen...orange in color, the shape of a papaya but smaller. I asked Kai about it and he said it was called a papaya passionfruit. He was able to pick a ripe one hanging from a tree for me. When I opened it it looked just like a passionfruit (which is like a watery, jello-y orange mass with dark seeds all in it, kind of just sitting in the middle of the cavity of its shell...it looks a little strange but it is delicious) and tasted slightly different but had the same texture.

We ended our hike where it began, where the train left us, and had a picnic lunch provided by the tour. Kai then took us across a meadow into the orchard, where we got to sample several exotic fruits: lychee, longan and fresh pineapple. We also saw many mango trees, sugar cane, some citrus (which I was surprised to see...doesn't it need to be cold sometimes in order for citrus to grow well?? And when we sampled it, it didn't have the right texture...too hard) and cashews...which you cannot eat until you boil because it is in the same family as poison oak and ivy. It is attached to a red fruit that is edible, but we didn't get a chance to sample it. We foraged for ourselves and came home with several of these, including a contraband pineapple that Hoss snuck into my backpack...we'll eat it before we leave here though! 

After this little adventure we headed to the big Farmer's Market of the week in Kapa'a. Fueled and inspired by our orchard visit, we stocked up on mango, papaya, passionfruit, limes, basil, greens, small purple onions, tomatoes, puree (like a mango), figs (!), finger bananas, apple bananas, coconut fresh from the shell (drinken with a straw straight from the shell and then chopped up for eating)and finally bread from a local bakery. All the produce is Kauai grown and very fresh. We will be eating from our room for the last few days of our trip. We go a little nuts around fresh fruits and veggies. Especially my hubby...mainly my hubby.
Any leftovers will go to our taxi driver, Bill, who has been carting us around and telling us about the island since just after we arrived. He is a New York native and moved here with his wife recently after having visited Kauai many times since their honeymoon here in the early '70's.

For me at least, today was the highlight of our trip. Tristan did great on our little hike (out of three children on the hike, he was the youngest and the only one who didn't cry!)

This was a great trip. Something about being in Hawaii, or at least Kauai, loosens your muscles and relaxes you.  The hunched shoulders I get at home disappear, as though the ocean, wind and beautiful views just massage them right out.


I posted several more pictures to my flickr account...if you want to see them.

(there were no leftovers save a few yet to ripen passionfruit! I can't believe how much produce we consumed in such a short period of time. Especially mangoes. Counteracted by lots of bread ; )