I am a teacher and aspiring writer, and keep a blog to keep up with writing and document the daily moments that make up my life. Working with my students & travel writing are my biggest passions. People, art, food, wine/spirits, and culture are other writing interests. Thanks for coming by!
Where do you go to find things that are visually delightful and inspiring? I found this set of owls online, (no artist credit listed,) which for some reason, inspires me. Maybe it's because I like owls, and they remind me of my late grandmother who I loved very much, my "Mum." She loved owls and had a collection. Maybe it's the colors. Sometimes hearing foreign languages inspires me, even if I don't know what is being said, which is usually the case. Art museums often inspire me, but it's not all that often that I go to art galleries. Trying something for the first time definitely inspires me, whether it's a new food or drink, activity or outing. Tasting lychee sake about a month ago for the first time at Sushi Cafe was a perfect examples of this. Travel inspires me. Making things inspires me. San Francisco inspires me. Seeing kindness & generosity inspires me, and reading good books inspires me. Once many years ago, I was with my mom one evening in Sausalito and it was Christmas time. We looked out at the harbor, and all of the sailboats were lit up with Christmas lights, bobbing up and down in the waves. That inspired me. And my love for my husband, dog, family & friends inspires me. What inspires you?
Shannon, one of my best friends in college & college roommate stopped by today. It was so good to see her. Her husband had a medical appt. in the same office building as my doctor, who happens to be around the corner from me. I was there too today. I told her she had to stop by. We had a great visit, and I finally got to meet her adorable baby daughter, Fiona. I also got to see her son Sammy, who's 3 now, and has grown so much! We used to talk about everything: our latest crushes during college, our classes, and plans and dreams for when college was over. We rode our cruiser bikes everywhere together, cooked together, and definitely partied together. We came of age together. When I moved to Hawaii, and then San Diego after college, we sort of got out of touch for a little while. When I had my bachelorette party, she couldn't make it because she was pregnant with Fiona, but she made me the sweetest photo album with words and photos from every single one of my friends. That's the kind of friend and person she is. Shannon is like a sister to me, and it was so comforting to see her and catch up with her. I miss her but feel encouraged to make more of an effort to stay in contact and be a good friend. Sometimes seeing a friend's face is the only reminder you need to remember how much you care about someone. I want to be a better friend to her from now on, like we were in college. I love my Shanny girl.
I made myself a promise that I'd make an effort to start trying new things - to broaden my horizons, and generally enrich my life - so when recently invited by my friend Julie to make limoncello with her, I jumped at the chance. Limoncello is an Italian liqueur made primarily of lemons, sugar, and Everclear,that many Italians make around the holidays. My friend Julie is Italian, and lived in Italy until she was 6. I wanted to take photos of HER making the limoncello, but she was camera shy.
So, today was Day One of our limoncello making.
We began by rinsing about 90 organic meyer lemons, drying them off, and setting them in a big bowl.
Next we got our zesters out, and we each zested about 30 lemons. We used 15 lemons per batch of limoncello, so it will yield about 6 batches.
After each batch of 15 lemons, we scraped the zest into a big jar, then added two bottles of Everclear to each jar. We shook up the mixture and covered it. The zest will marinate in the Everclear for 2 weeks. Then we will add the milk and sugar to make the Limoncello Crema. Stay tuned for part 2 in 2 weeks!
Thanks to Julie for teaching me to make limoncello, and to Julie's friend Amantha for so generously letting us use the lemons from her tree, and make the limoncello at her house!
Over the weekend, we went to Sea Ranch, a little coastal community a couple of hours north of San Francisco, with my family. The trip was so relaxing and wonderful with stunning sunsets and sun-filled blue-sky days. The salty sea air was so refreshing, and the sound of the waves crashing so comforting. On the morning we were leaving, we even saw a whale feeding right out in front of the house we were staying in! It was super close, what luck! We also saw adorable white spotted seals, and all kinds of sea birds. On the beach we found lots of driftwood, all shaped so beautifully. All in all, an incredible weekend! I'll let the photos do the rest of the talking.
These are three things that I am promising myself to do every day. What are three daily things that you are doing to improve your quality of life? I am curious to hear about this from people, (that is, if anyone is reading this!)
To be completely honest, I have accumulated a lot of fears over the years. I'm not sure how or why, maybe I got my fear of flying from the mind-and-heart-numbing events of 9/11. And maybe fears about car crashes came from my own experiences, having been in a few myself. Either way, it's a slippery slope, and it's easy for those fearful thoughts to really take over. In a rare moment of clarity one day, I saw that this road isn't headed anywhere good. To be fearful is to be afraid of life. Life is full of taking chances, and perceived risks are often less risky that real risks anyway. Flying, for example, has less risk than many other things, but we don't think about the other things we do like crossing a busy intersection, or other mundane daily activities like that. A few years ago, back in 2007, I had been so paralyzed by my fear of flying that I hadn't flown in 3 or 4 years. Then I had an opportunity to go to Cuba with my friend Karissa to visit our other friend Brea, who was in med school there at the time. Brea had emailed me and said, "Are you coming to Cuba? Time is running out. It's now or never." I called Karissa in a panic, telling her the news. I'd been looking forward to Cuba, but putting off scheduling a trip due to my fear of flying. Karissa, an intrepid traveler who's traveled all over the place, was like, "Well, you heard what she said. It's now or never, what do you think?" So despite being terrified of getting on another plane, we booked the tickets and took the trip. It took a lot of courage, but now I am completely overwhelmed at the the thought of what I would have missed, had I not taken that trip. However, I wouldn't have known what I was missing. This is another huge point to consider. If you don't go, you don't see just how amazing the experience waiting for you just might be. You will never know what you missed out on, but that doesn't mean that you didn't miss out on something amazing, wonderful and life-changing. Someone once said, "Life shrinks or expands according to one's courage." This couldn't be more true. I knew that if I skipped that trip to Cuba, I'd always regret it. It wasn't easy getting there and back (8 flights round trip,) but the memories I have of that trip are some of the closest to my heart. Some of the most wondrous and joyful moments of my entire life happened on that trip: seeing the Caribbean Sea for the first time, drinking coconut juice straight from a coconut on the beach, staying up all night laughing our heads off with our new Italian friends, meeting Yariem and getting to have dinner with two precious little old Cuban ladies who told us their life stories, swimming in the warm ocean waves, and being serenaded at breakfast (at breakfast!) by Cuban musicians playing the most beautiful music I've ever heard. These are the things I would have missed if I'd missed out on the trip to Cuba due to fear of flying. Not worrying or being fearful is so much easier said than done, but in the end nobody knows how long they've got anyway, so we should really all just enjoy the time we have, and embrace the wonders life has to offer. Being too afraid to take chances and participate is like letting life pass you by. And a life not fully lived is the worst fate of all. We are so lucky to be here, walking the Earth. Let us be grateful, and seize the moment. Carpe Diem.
Since the world is full of creative people doing all kinds of interesting things, I thought I'd make this a weekly or monthly topic. Last night I picked up a copy of Ode magazine while I was at my mom's house, and found quite a few good stories of good things people are doing around the globe. Ode magazine is dedicated to good news, and I think we all need to hear more good news. I sure do.
1. There are the two Dutch artists, Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhaas, who are helping out in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by repainting hundreds of apartments in the neighborhood. They are getting locals involved too, which is helping the locals to build their job skills.
2. The Green School in Bali is an inspiration to everyone wanting to "go green," and proves that even schools can do it. Made of bamboo, the students learn about respecting the environment, and how to build a sustainable world. They also learn to harvest rice, and take classes in music, dance, theater, and Indonesian, in addition to other core subjects. Source: Ode Magazine
3. Another great Ode story: wanting to take the world media back into their own hands, a group of African journalists has created a website about Africa, by Africans. For one things, they want to give their perspective on things going on locally, but also they want to balance the good news with the bad, and are tired of the world media only reporting about the AIDS epidemic, or the latest news on Darfur. In addition, A24 is 24 hour news, so it's constantly being updated.
4. Last but not least, Ode magazine reports on a new organization called "By Art We Live," an org. dedicated to letting children create art for art's sake, and not as a means to an end, or something to be incorporated into another subject. They have photographed and interviewed children around the world doing art.
My friend Becca made this for me this morning after a nice early morning walk and coffee. It was delicious, and is my new favorite breakfast. It's also perfect for the cooler fall weather and pretty healthy. I wanted to share it because it is so so good! It is oatmeal with dried cherries (cooked with the oatmeal,) and vanilla extract. For the entire recipe, see the link below.
And thanks again to my friend Becca for sharing it with me.
1. The song "You and Your Heart," by Jack Johnson! I love it! 2. The film "Ultimate Wave Tahiti" in 3D at Imax theatres. Tahiti is definitely on the bucket list. 3. "I love you Bora Bora," is the first song I want to learn on the ukulele that I got for my b-day. 4. Drawing seahorses. I drew a few last week, it's easier than I thought if I have a model to look at. 5. The book I'm reading, "Chasing Dreamtime: A Sea-Going Hitchhiker's Journey through Memory and Myth." 6. My husband's winter soups. He's been making some great soup creations since the weather cooled down. So yummy! 7. A website that several of my students subscribe to called "Brainpop." This site is awesome! 8. My new geography teaching guide, so I can supplement some of my students' curriculum with cool geography projects. I have a lot to learn about geography myself still. It's all so fascinating. 9. Cool new place I'm learning about: Aitutaki, an "almost atoll" in the Cook islands. More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aitutaki 10. Favorite new recipe(s): Moroccan Lentil Soup, (you can look it up at allrecipes.com), and another soup recipe that our friend Harvi Dearie gave us that is also so delicious! It includes carrots, turnips, and potatoes, squash and lots of other vegetables, and savory spices.