Namaste

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This is AMMA. I met her a couple weeks ago. Awhile back I was on the interwebs and came across a place called the AMMA center near where I live. I sometimes would take the road that the center was off of and at times, traffic would be creeping for miles while cars would be turning into a driveway that winded up the hills of San Ramon.

I saw that AMMA herself was planning her Summer USA tour and I just knew I had to go. Now I admit I am spiritual however not really religious. I have tried Catholicism, Presbyterianism, Baptist, Christian and while I felt comfortable in all the church services I knew that I could not commit to just one. I really didn’t know why, but that it was a commitment I was ready for yet.

I read about AMMA and learned that she has spent her whole life embracing people. Hugging folks. That was her philosophy. I have always said HUG IT OUT. In fact my belief is that when I come across people who are in a bad mood or generally nasty, they should have been hugged more as a child. Hugs are magical in my book. They make you relax. They comfort. They bring people together physically and emotionally. They spread love. They release endorphins! If people hugged more the world WOULD be a better place in my opinion.
In AMMAs life, at a very young age, despite cast and poverty, she hugged people who she thought needed it. She has accomplished so much in her life by embracing others. She is devoted to humanitarian life all over the world.

My husband, son and I left early to the AMMA Center.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had no idea who was going however I assumed lots of people would attend. When we arrived only 50 people were in line. We were briefed to take our shoes off before entering the temple. We would be seated and there would be a meditation session before AMMA began her embraces.

As we entered the Temple, we lined up and were escorted to the front of the room. On the alter, or stage, people were preparing the platform where AMMA was to be seated. They were decorating with flowers and setting up the microphones.
I turned around and realized the 50 people who entered earlier multiplied and now the entire Temple was full of a few hundred people. We luckily were seated in the second row from the front.

I asked the woman next to me if she had ever seen AMMA before. She shared that she had not and wasn’t even sure if she was ready. She told me she had a hard time accepting hugs. I assured her it everything would be alright as I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and gave her a quick hug.

Finally it was our family’s turn. I felt anticipation as we walked closer to the stage. It seemed like controlled chaos. There were helpers telling people waiting to come forward, to kneel, to stand, to hand over their offerings, to sit on a stool, to walk over to the side, to stay. Once the three of us were in front of AMMA she grabbed Joshua and embraced him. She began to chant, then touched my husband. She kissed Joshua on the cheek, and then I was told by one of her helpers that she was going to be giving us a family blessing. She fed us each a sweet, I was to kneel infront of her. As I kneeled she began to chant Ma Ma Ma Ma…I rush of emotion came over me as she embraced me and kissed both cheeks. My troubles disappeared and I felt content and most vividly I felt love. She smiled at me and smiled at my family and said another blessing for our family. Her smell was intoxicating. Rose. It remained on our clothes for awhile afterward. We were given another sweet wrapped in rose petals. We moved to the side of the stage and watched AMMA continue her embraces. As I watched I realized she knew what each person needed that day. Some people needed consoling, some needed to feel her love and some needed to be in her presence. It was a remarkable experience.

AMMA changed me and as a family we shared a moment we would never forget.
Namaste’

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They are back!

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I have been wanting to write about so many things lately. But once I sit down to write an entry, the fatigue sets in and I begin to yawn, then my breathing slows and then I almost fall asleep.
I truly have had some great ideas and insights lately and know that I’ll eventually write about them, but thank you for your patience!

It will soon be my 1year anniversary of my new job that I began July 3 last year. The position allows creativity, the staff are down to earth for the most part and really the worst of it is my commute. Somedays it takes up to 3 hours to arrive. Other days it only takes 1-1/2 hours. I forgot to mention that is a mere 21 miles door to door.

Halfway into my commute I drive over a bridge and through the surrounding salt flats. The Leslie Salt Company moved out years ago, so the birds have moved in. The land is marshy, with levies that are continually being adjusted and moved with the tides. This part of my drive is really beautiful as hundreds if birds migrate here throughout the year. Being in Northern California, the weather is mild. I’ve seen lots of bird use the salt flats as a nesting ground and nursery.

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When I first began this trek to my new job, I noticed huge white pelicans flying over the highway, elegant and stoic. I’m used to seeing the California Brown Pelican near the coast but not these white ones. Each day as I drove to work I would count up to 50 white pelicans all flocking together in a remote area of the flats away from all the other birds. It almost took my breath away seeing so many orange pitcher mouths together!

I eventually did a little research on the interwebs and learned these species are from the Half Moon Bay, which is around 15 miles away over the ridge. They spend their winters at the coast and breed inland! Voila! Mystery solved why I never saw any white pelicans during winter.
Here’s a little more info on the American White Pelican. I’m not a huge bird enthusiast but seeing the countries largest bird fly over my car spiked my interest to learn more. It reminded me to appreciate my life more. To remind myself to slow down and this time, to watch the pelicans.

Tiny little things

I admit openly, that life has its challenges. At times, its easier for me to think and worry about the big issues. The problem with doing that is I feel bogged down, depressed and overwhelmed. However, time after time I am reminded that I cannot change what cannot be changed. I am reminded about the little things everyday…such as…
I had a good nights sleep last night! I woke up this morning from dreaming about some of my favorite people. Yesterday, I definitely had a case of the Mondays when another close friend called me and asked for a hug or two, she was visiting the mall I work at. I received a surprised visit and a reminder that I am special. This morning, I was watering my garden when a tiny little female hummingbird swooped in front of me and landed on a tomato cage. She sat there looking at me for about 30 seconds then zoomed off. My son is home from college for the summer. My apron strings don’t feel so tight, it’s great seeing him sleep in his bed and hear him laugh at my lame jokes!
It really is the tiny little things and small moments that make a happy life…well if it so, I feel very lucky lately 🙂

More on tiny things, my friend had a tiny little baby and I made this blanket for him.
It’s a go to pattern from Lion Brand, Little V Stitch For baby blankets I always use machine washable cotton or wool yarn. I added a simple picot trim around the edge with washable cashmere.

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I also was given some beautiful porcini mushrooms that I used to make a wild mushroom ,kale and leek soup.

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Here’s my tiny little girlfriend Miss Hummingbird.
Isn’t she adorable!

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Have a great day! Cheers to the tiny things that make a big difference!

30 Days is kind of the same as 90 Days

Awhile ago, actually 90 days ago I set forth to knit a sweater in 30 days. I have been wanting to knit an Icelandic style sweater called a lopapeysa, for some time and was in a rut. I came across a TEDtalk by Matt Cutts.
Knitting a sweater in the round, with such detail of patterns always scared me a bit. I found some confidence in the message from Matt Cutts and decided to give the lopi sweater a try.
It was a good project to try. I used a pattern by Védís Jónsdóttir on Ravelry.
I chose neutral colors since I wasn’t actually sure who I would be making the sweater for. I used Lion Brand fishermans yarn in oatmeal for the body, and found the rest of the yarn in my stash.
I blocked the sweater today.

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I find that by dampening the sweater and blocking it flat is the easiest way to block. I read an article once that blocking makes a handmade item into a professional looking item. It relaxes the stitches and helps it hold its shape overtime. I highly recommend taking the extra few days to finish your knitted goodies by blocking them.

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In this picture, you can see the yarn pattern puckering in areas. That’s because the sweater wasn’t blocked yet…blocking remedies the puckering…
Something magical happened when I pulled the sweater over my head, it became mine! All the while, keeping track of every stitch, making sure I’m following the color ways just as the pattern read, I was creating a new sweater that I’ll treasure for a long time.

I challenge you to mix life up a bit and try a new skill, it’s an awesome feeling when you realize that you can just do it…you just got to take the first step…or stitch.

Happenings

Lots have been happening around here lately. The garden is taking off, all my seedlings have been transplanted. I have been reluctant to pull out my kale since I’ve been making green smoothies to have on hand for the past two weeks. The marigolds are warding off pests and the ladybugs are hatching all over the place!

I also went to see a specialist last week. I scheduled more tests and finally for once I could talk to someone who understands what I have been feeling. We talked about my digestion system, food habits, mental health, to my surprise accounts for a large problem to my issues, and Rome criteria and of course poo. Did you know there are 500 billion probiotic bacteria on a piece of poo the size of your thumbnail? Amazing!

I walked away from my appointment feeling that there is help for me in the near future. I’ve been very careful about my diet, eating only at home. In fact last week I ate completely raw. I had lots of energy, lessened mood swings and no cravings for chocolate for example…
Preplanning meals has been pretty easy as my husband has adopted my green slime smoothies with open arms and wants to continue to eat gluten free or close to it for as long as possible.

Last night I was at my local Mi Pueblo market and I saw a water trough full of lentils. I just had to scoop and take home 5 lbs. I decided to make lentils for dinner, which would be perfect as I will make it vegetarian as well.

It’s a very simple recipe that I made up this morning. I usually have celery, onions and carrots on hand. In fact most soups and stews begin with the trio. I knew I had a couple leeks that I brought home from the Farmers Market Saturday. Leeks are milder than onion. Replaced the onion with the leeks to give the lentils a creaminess. Last week I pulled out my carrots, boy, have I missed those dragon carrots…so I substituted a orange bell pepper instead. Here’s the recipe…

Indian Spice Lentil
2 cups rinsed Lentils, red, green or brown all ok
4 cups stock, I use homemade that I have on hand, any store brought is good
1 onion diced, I used 2 leeks diced
3 ribs of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced, I used 1 orange bell pepper diced
2 tomatoes, diced
2-6 cloves garlic, diced, I love garlic so I always add tons more than the recipe asks for
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garam masala, any other Indian curry blend
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or any other healthy oil

Drizzle EVOO twice around heavy Dutch oven pot.
Sweat out onion, carrot and celery for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add lentils and spices. Add stock, bring to a boil.

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Lower heat. Simmer for 20-35 minutes, covered,until lentils are open. Stir occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated. If you like al dente lentils, keep an eye on them after 20 minutes.

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Your home should be smelling very yummy at this point. If you are anything like me, you will not be able to wait until dinner. I just had to have a bowl for breakfast.

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I’ve also been busy deep cleaning all closets and cupboards. Ill be posting a few things on ebay and hopefully making some spending $$ for my trip to Peru, which is right around the corner! More on that next week. Until then, make some happenings!

I’m sure you’ve heard the little things are what matters…

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I would like to introduce you to my little friend, Hans. He swings from my itty bitty kukoo clock. There are some things in my home that I really love. This clock is one of them. We are 4 hours north from a little town called Solvang. That is where found this gem.
You can learn more about clocks and Solvang here. http://www.clocksclocks.com/AboutUs.htm?mobile=0
Here is Hans in action!

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With the weather warming up, Summer seems to be right around the corner. I love that May is here and one little special event happens in my yard in May.

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It’s a…
Selenicereus grandiflorus!
Selenicereus grandiflorus is a cactus species originating from the Antilles, Mexico and Central America. The species is commonly referred to as Nightblooming Cereus, Queen of the Night, Large-flowered Cactus, Sweet-Scented Cactus or Vanilla Cactus.
Scientific name: Selenicereus grandiflorus
Rank: Species
Higher classification: Moonlight cactus

I’m always taken by surprise when it actually opens because just yesterday morning as I was watering my plants before work, the flower was so tightly closed. It seemed it still needed to rest before blooming.

Here it is fully blooming!

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It is true I will only be enjoying this lovely bloom for one night because once it opens and sends its scent into the world it’s done what it was meant to do. This event that I witnessed reminds me that we all have a purpose in life. We are significant in some way.
If you happen upon a Queen of the Night, remember it took 365 days for that bloom. Stop and enjoy, even for a moment.

This little light of mine…

I have been watching Tedtalks lately. Ken Robinson is someone I have been intrigued with from his talks on education killing children’s creativity, I often think of how my life would be if I was encouraged to dance or knit or make things instead of focus on a general curriculum. Would I be teaching dance instead of teaching product knowledge to a bunch of twenty somethings who are waiting for their next break…would I be onstage entertaining audiences with my moves instead of being onstage waiting for the next customer to entertain.
While my parents encouraged us to go to school, follow the teachers directions, none of our talents were encouraged and developed. My older brother who was always drawing would often come home with a note from his teacher saying he was caught drawing again instead of focusing on his math lesson.
I wonder if he ever thinks what his life would look like if those skills were nurtured at an early age. Fortunately his drawing skills are now being used at the architecture firm he works at, creating plans and models.

Here is Ken Robinson talking about education.Ken Robinson

If you are a parent, aunt, uncle or lucky enough to be an educator, take a moment to watch his talk. We can make a difference in this world. Encourage children’s creativity to help them shine!

Earth Day is Everyday

Can you believe it’s almost May!
Seriously where does the time go? I feel as if I haven’t really made the best of the year yet.

I have been spending the mornings before work weeding, planting and watering. The birds are out and the dachshunds are begging for some overgrown kale. Its peaceful. It helps set the tone of the day.

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Last week I had a migraine for days. I admit I am a huge baby when it comes to headaches. Chop my finger off I’m ok, but a headache? I just can’t cope. I felt exhausted by Friday.Saturday night we celebrated my moms birthday at one of our favorite restaurants. I ate a spinach salad and later that night I had a huge allergy attack. I just can’t be sure of ever eating out I suppose. Whenever I have an attack, the next day I’m fatigued and my stomach is sore. I drink fluids but I stay away from eating for most of the day. I know it’s not healthy but really it allows my gut to rest.

This week I have given up eating out, at all costs. I have focused on eating raw. It’s been somewhat of an easy adjustment. By Tuesday I was making green smoothies with my kale. Amazingly, I have had consistent energy throughout the day too. I do make sure I eat breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack and a light dinner.

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For this smoothie, I whirled in my blender…a cup of frozen berries
1 inch of ginger
Large sprig of fresh parsley and cilantro
Half banana
Cup of fresh pineapple
Handful of fresh kale
I looked at different recipes online however all used juice or yogurt. I used 1/2 cup of water instead. I wanted the smoothie to be light and not too sweet.

For this smoothie…
Half peeled chopped cucumber
1 inch ginger
Sprig of parsley and cilantro
I also added fresh lemon verbena because I grow it…
Handful of kale
Half of banana
1/2 cup liquid, I used H2O
Squeeze lime to taste

Experiment with what’s on hand. I almost added a jalapeño to the green smoothie but refrained. Maybe for tomorrow’s breakfast…try different combinations and favors. Have fun with it!

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I put tomatoes and marigolds in the ground this week too. The weather in the Bay Area has been between 72-85 degrees. It’s been lovely really.
I used one compost bin worth of freshly grown dirt. It smells great and full of red wrigglers too!
The tomatoes will love the richly nutrient compost I’m sure!

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These small actions of growing my own food, and eating clean makes me feel good about my life. It’s easy to plant lettuce in pots or even a tomato plant. If everyone grew something they ate, they would feel better mentally, eat healthier and be happier. I’m on my way to a healthier lifestyle and a more happier life too.

New Chapter take 2

I began this entry on April 16 and finally got around to finishing today…
Yesterday morning I had fresh thoughts of a new entry. My husband began his internship at the hospital yesterday. It is quite a change from the white collar office job he had for the past 10 years, but strangely as we get wiser, happiness is the goal in life. And working in an office just wasn’t doing that for him anymore. He wanted to help people, make a difference and be happy. He definitely is happier now 🙂

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On a gardening note, I invited a couple friends over last weekend to enjoy the celebration of my husbands new job. I have been holding out on pulling beets and carrots until the perfect occasion. Although the temptation was strong to pull at times, I’m happy I waited. The veggies were beautiful and tasted amazing after being roasted with garlic, and new potatoes.

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I also pulled out all the arugula that went to seed the past couple weeks. They grew 6 feet tall! Amazing and at this size…BITTER and SPICY!

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Happy Monday everyone! Here’s a little love(ly) rose to start your week off positive…stop and smell the roses…

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Some pictures to take your mind off of current events…

It saddens me to hear such horrible news about what happened at the Boston Marathon today.
As a runner, a mother, a woman and an American my sympathies and love light go out to everyone involved.

I have been meaning to post some photos of my dogs after coming to the realization that one thing dachshunds do real well is sleep…or is that all dogs?

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