not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

flying high.


i went flying today, and it was....amazing.








view my californiacation album here:


http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=320506&id=653500240&l=f04c8d1e2b

San Clemente.

I've been coming to San Clemente for years now. Years and years. I met the Davidson family when I was about 12 or 13 years old while on a surf trip in Mexico. Good people: Mr and Mrs, and their 3 boys JS, Corey and Daniel. We have kept in touch over all of these years, and I manage to visit about once a year. Another great friend, Press, whom I also met on a surf trip, lives in San Clemente too. Soo excited to see my good friends. Anyways, Lara and I packed up the car yesterday and headed South. Our first stop was with Press. We hung out on his sunny porch, snacked and then headed down to the beach. We were warned by the lifeguard about tsunami's because of the Somoa quake and then it started to rain - so we headed back to the house. Justine, Press's wife, and his two beautiful daughters Taja and Milan were at the house when we got back. We offered Justine the night off and took the girls with us to Taco Tuesday in San Clemente. At La Siestas we met up with Mr & Mrs Davidson, JS, Corey and Daniel...and all of their girlfriends. We laughed and ate and laughed and ate, and toasted to meeting lifelong friends on surf vacations! Ha. We parted ways, had a few cocktails back on Press's porch, then Lara and I headed back to the Davidson's house where a bed was waiting for us.

Now we are back at Press's...having coffee and getting ready to go out for some breakfast. All I gotta say is that in San Clemente, I feel the love. I'm so blessed to have made friends with such epic people. Pura Vida and long live the traveling life.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

THE WHITE BUFFALO

The White Buffalo @ Saint Rocke, Hermosa Beach CA. Sunday, September 27th, 2009. I would have recorded every one of his songs, but my stupid camera only has enough space on the WHOLE memory card for one song. This one is my favorite.

Union Cattle

Union Cattle...roof top with the lovely california crew.

Lara & I : Getting on our game faces, ready to eat some 1/2 price apps!




I finally showered. Then, we relaxed and watched a movie. Pappas fell asleep, and we were hungry - so we walked a block down the street to Von's and I bought some essentials:
  • a loaf of bread
  • bananas
  • 2% milk
  • red wine {Rex & Goliath: Cabernet Sauvignon}
  • potato chips
  • sour cream and onion soup mix for some dip!!

The last two items usually on my shopping list, but hell - I'm on vacation! Chips and dip for all my friends!! I ripped into the bread as soon as we exited the store, and then upon our arrival to la casa I mixed up some chip dip. MmMmMm. Heaven. Later we met up with all of Lara's friends at Union Cattle for the 1/2price apps. I genuinely enjoy the company of ALL of Lara's friends...they are just good people. I particularly love Sarah. She's just lovely, and we plan on having a "yoga class" at her courtyard on Thursday morning before she leaves for work. I can't wait! Anyways...Lara, Christina, Sarah, Wendy, Hunter, Brad, and more all chomped down on some yummy apps. We ate and drank {ginourmous beers...so heavy I needed two hands to lift them off the table}, left our server a huge tip, and then headed for home. I think we were home by 930...it definitely wasn't even ten oclock yet. The old lady that I am - I retired early to bed. But the wild woman my love Lara is -- well, she went back out on the town. All in all, a successful evening. Today I'm going to yoga at a studio down the street, and then Potato and I are heading to SAN CLEMENTE!!! We are going to surf and sun with my good friend Press, another whom I met in Costa Rica a few years back, and then later with another great friend, JS - who I met when I was 12 years old on a surf trip to Mexico. Pura Vida!

Headin home....

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gelato is GOOD.

Christina and I enjoying our deliciouso gelato.
We woke up this morning {Monday} and had some breakfast and then we dropped Lara off to get an MRI. She royally messed-up her knee in a skating accident a few weeks ago and needs some serious medical attention. Oh, by the way, the girl in the photo above is Lara's sister, Christina. She's pretty damn funny, and miniature like me. Anyways, on the way to drop off Lara at the doctors I noticed a Salvation Army. DING DING DING -- so I persuaded Christina to take me there. We got some great goods, and everything was 30% off. Woohooo. We picked up our wounded soldier an hour later then headed down to the beach for some necessary R&R. After soaking up some sun, we sucked down some gelato!! At home now, getting some more R&R before heading out to UNION CATTLE for 1/2 priced appetizers and huge beers for only 3 bucks. Hoooray.

The Journey Begins...




Sunday September 27th 6:15am:

Pristine pure white, cloud covered horizon. As the sun is just beginning to peak through them they are painted with blues, purples, oranges and reds. Truly an artists palette. This is where my journey begins - not at the airport while I'm stressing over chicking in- and not when I board the plane. No, my journey begins once I'm flying high through the air and look out over the mountains of clouds we are immersed in. I smile, always, totally at peace and excited for the journey that I've just begun...

My eyes feel especially heavy today, lack of sleep affecting me more than I'd like it to. It was a late night work last night and three hours of sleep wasn't quite enough. I can't complain though - I'll sleep when I'm dead {which I'm hoping isn't anytime soon}! I feel a bit better after a breif cat nap followed by Honey Nut Cheerios with 2% Milk {not organic, but I'll let that slide} and a banana. Continental is picking up their game...no more crusty fake-meat breakfast sandwiches! I follow it up with a cup of herbal tea...cause I never leave home without my personal stash of tea bags. The plane is chilly so I'm bundled up tight - and looking forward to my final destination - Sunny California! Dr.Potato {aka Lara 'Pappas whom I met in Costa Rica a few years ago} will be picking me up at the John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana. Wooohoooo let the debauchery begin! But first, a layover in Texas....

As the plane begins it's dissent into Houston, Texas the clouds are replaced by rows and rows of perfectly groomed houses, all exactly the same. Identical. REM's "Shiny Happy People" comes to mind, but then I bite into a banana and close my eyes - letting visions of ecuador consume my mind {fyi: ecuador is the worlds top exporter of bananas}. One more month!

Sunday 9:20 AM

I stepped off the plane and priority number one was caffeine! I felt the headache begin to set in as I began into a frantic jog towards a coffee shop. With a Grande Starbucks Americano in hand I made my way to my next gate for the final half of my journey. Everyone was emailing and webbing on their iPhones and Blackberrys...and I suffered a serious case of internet-envy -- craving some one on one time with my blog....

SUNDAY AFTERNOON:

Lara picks me up at the airport and instantly a smile is on my face. Lara - the one person I can think of that is the exact opposite of me in every way - is one of my best friends. We laugh, we chat, we understand eachother. And I just love her. Anyways, Potato and I had planned to go the Abbot Kinney Festival in Venice Beach...but really - it would be like going to the boardwalk and the rides on 4th of July Weekend down the shore...it would be chaotic and touristy and fun, but not really fun. More frustrating than fun. SO - we opted for lunch at GOOD STUFF in Hermosa Beach where Lara lives. I have been EVERYWHERE around Hermosa beach - every town above and below, but NEVER to Hermosa. Well, I've been missing out. A two mile - super cute beach town - where everyone knows everyone, the town is out for Happy Hour then on a friends roof for some music and drinks before retiring to bed. I dig it. Good people, good vibes. Mellow. After lunch {Auntie D met up with us} we walked {yes walked -- I love this town, everyone just walks, skateboards or bikes everywhere} to Pappas' friends house to hang on her roof. Kim - she is sweet, and funny and sassy and completely wonderful. We had a good time hanging on her roof, listening to music and chatting it up before heading down the street to Barnacles for some drinks. We had "fireflys" : it is iced tea flavored vodka, 80 proof, served with water, slice of lemon - boom, it tastes like a southern sweet tea, and it's totally deadly. At the bar we met some more people, and our group grew. That's how I'm told Hermosa works -- everyone is friends with everyone. Nate, Strawberry and Clayton were now joined with us and Auntie D declared that she wanted "fancy, expensive drinks" - on her tab of course - and she wouldn't have it any other way. So our rowdy, almost-pretty-drunk crew walked down the street to Mediterranea for Bourbons, Scotches, Cucumber Coolers, and White Sangria. We laughed, and laughed, and laughed and laughed. And laughed. Good times with our new friends. Sainte Rocke followed after. Myspace.com had the White Buffalo's show listed as 7pm. I met the White Buffalo {his name is Jake} and almost died, a smile from ear to ear. Literally. Well, turns out that the show doesn't start until 10! SO - back on the road, we walked to Lara's, picked up my guitar, and headed to another friends rooftop. I sang, we all chatted, we laughed and then returned to Sainte Rocke at the appropriate time. The opener for Buffalo was pretty amazing -- though I didn't get their name. I'm going to find out though, and share the wealth with you: cause they were THAT good. Buffalo was EPIC. Just EPIC. He played with his amazing bassist and passionate drummer and his voice is an instrument all it's own. I won't even try to summarize anymore - because there are no words to describe. Towards the end Lara and I danced our asses off to some of his upbeat tunes - he played two oncore songs, and then I harrassed him for a photo. Wooohooo. Love it. Retired for the night {this time we took a cab home} and now it's Monday morning and we're headed for breakfast.

Me and THE WHITE BUFFALO.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

indian.inspired.zucchini




I had some zucchini and summer squash that needed to be cooked. I peaked around my fridge and found some chickpeas. Hmmm...chickpeas and zucchini - I had some onion and decided that I was in the mood for something Indian-esque. SO, this is what I concocted and damn was it delicious.

You need...

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1/2 can of chickpeas {or more!}
  • olive oil
  • ground ginger
  • ground turmeric
  • mustard seeds
  • salt + pepper
(if you'd like, you can add diced tomatoes...but im not a huge fan of cooked tomatoes!)


the toasted mustard seeds give this dish a hint of ZING!

Here's how it's done...

Medium heat on the skillet - one tablespoon of mustard seeds into the hot pan and put a lid on top. They are going to pop and toast, and after you hear em go crazy in the skillet pour in a bit of olive oil. Slice up the onion however you'd like {slices, diced, whatever!}, throw them into the pan to sautee along with the diced clove of garlic. Season with one generous teaspoon of turmeric and one generous teaspoon of ground ginger, a tad bit of salt and pepper. Cook for a minute of two before adding in cubed zucchini. Maybe add a touch more of salt and pepper, and after about 8 minutes of cooking add in the chickpeas. I had some Masala seasoning laying around, so I threw in about a teapsoon of that to add some vavavoom. And BOOM - there you go. Lunch, dinner or snack of champions!


Viparita Karani


Viparita Karani
(vip-par-ee-tah car-AHN-ee)

aka

"Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose"


Viparita Karani is my favorite yoga pose lately. It just feels...wonderful. It is VERY important to be careful getting into and out of this pose, so I highly recommend watching the video below before attempting on your own. Here are the steps to achieving this position, but again - The video is only 3minutes long, and very helpful & informative. I stay in this pose for a solid five minutes and then rest with my knees bent- feet against the wall for 1 minute and then lying on my side for 1 minute before returning to a seated position.

The pose described here is a passive, supported variation of the Shoulderstand-like Viparita Karani. For your support you'll need one or two thickly folded blankets or a firm round bolster. You'll also need to rest your legs vertically (or nearly so) on a wall or other upright support.

Before performing the pose, determine two things about your support: its height and its distance from the wall. If you're stiffer, the support should be lower and placed farther from the wall; if you're more flexible, use a higher support that is closer to the wall. Your distance from the wall also depends on your height: if you're shorter move closer to the wall, if taller move farther from the wall. Experiment with the position of your support until you find the placement that works for you.

Start with your support about 5 to 6 inches away from the wall. Sit sideways on right end of the support, with your right side against the wall (left-handers can substitute "left" for "right" in these instructions). Exhale and, with one smooth movement, swing your legs up onto the wall and your shoulders and head lightly down onto the floor. The first few times you do this, you may ignominiously slide off the support and plop down with your buttocks on the floor. Don't get discouraged. Try lowering the support and/or moving it slightly further off the wall until you gain some facility with this movement, then move back closer to the wall.

Your sitting bones don't need to be right against the wall, but they should be "dripping" down into the space between the support and the wall. Check that the front of your torso gently arches from the pubis to the top of the shoulders. If the front of your torso seems flat, then you've probably slipped a bit off the support. Bend your knees, press your feet into the wall and lift your pelvis off the support a few inches, tuck the support a little higher up under your pelvis, then lower your pelvis onto the support again.

Lift and release the base of your skull away from the back of your neck and soften your throat. Don't push your chin against your sternum; instead let your sternum lift toward the chin. Take a small roll (made from a towel for example) under your neck if the cervical spine feels flat. Open your shoulder blades away from the spine and release your hands and arms out to your sides, palms up.

Keep your legs relatively firm, just enough to hold them vertically in place. Release the heads of the thigh bones and the weight of your belly deeply into your torso, toward the back of the pelvis. Soften your eyes and turn them down to look into your heart.

Stay in this pose anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Be sure not to twist off the support when coming out. Instead, slide off the support onto the floor before turning to the side. You can also bend your knees and push your feet against the wall to lift your pelvis off the support. Then slide the support to one side, lower your pelvis to the floor, and turn to the side. Stay on your side for a few breaths, and come up to sitting with an exhalation.


Benefits

  • Relieves tired or cramped legs and feet
  • Gently stretches the back legs, front torso, and the back of the neck
  • Relieves mild backache
  • Calms the mind

Therapeutic Applications

Gheranda heaps praise on this pose (though that he's probably talking about a version more akin Headstand) and states that Viparita Karani "destroys" old age and death. "You will become an Adept in all the worlds and will not perish even at world dissolution (pralaya)" (Gheranda Samhita 3.36).

Svatmarama (who's probably got something more like shoulderstand in mind) claims that after six months of practice, "grey hairs and wrinkles become inconspicuous" (Hatha Yoga Pradipika 3.82). We should take these traditional benefits with a pinch of salt. Modern teachers do, however, believe that Viparita Karani is good for most everything that ails you, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Digestive problems
  • Headache
  • High and low blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Migraine
  • Mild depression
  • Respiratory ailments
  • Urinary disorders
  • Varicose veins
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Menopause

**As with any inversion Viparita Karani should be avoided if you have serious eye problems, such as glaucoma. With serious neck or back problems only perform this pose with the supervision of an experienced teacher. If your feet begin to tingle during this pose, bend your knees, touch your soles together, and slide the outer edges of your feet down the wall, bringing your heels close to your pelvis.**

Beginner's Tip

Use your breath to ground the heads of the thighs bones into the wall, which helps release your groins, belly, and spine. In the pose imagine that each inhalation is descending through your torso and pressing the heads of your thigh bones closer to the wall. Then with each exhale, pin your thighs to the wall and let your torso spill over the bolster away from the wall and onto the floor.





Friday, September 25, 2009

Figs, Please.




Food.

Delicious Food.

I've consumed more delicious food in the past 48 hours than I have all week combined. On Wednesday night LP {"little paul" aka paul kates} and I had a date night. He's been my BFF for years now and we like to go out for niccceee dinners. We were all excited to eat @ DUNE in Margate but it was CLOSED. Their current schedule is Thursday thru Saturday...so not to worry, we will return. Their menu looks delightful, delicious and healthy - and from the photos that I've seen and the reviews that I read, the place is cute to boot! Lost for a dinner destination, we called up my good friend Chris Paisley who was working just a few blocks down the road. Paisley is a Margate Fireman, and one of the best bartenders in the nation. He gave us a few recommendations for restaurants in Ventnor, and we ended up at one of his favorite restaurants: Domenico's. It was scrumptious. LP and I started with the two appetizer specials: grilled baby octopus and roasted figs. The figs get an A+! They were stuffed with bleu cheese, wrapped in prosscuito, roasted in the oven and then topped with a balsamic reduction. The octopus was good, but kinda missed the mark. It was served over a toasted baguette in a red sauce with shitake mushrooms and capers. It was a bit too salty, but all in all it wasn't an awful dish. For entrees I had the Lobster Sinatra and LP had the New York Strip special. Damnit, Paulie won. He always wins!! The strip was melt-in-your-mouth delicious...topped with THREE huge seared diver scallops, served over the most delicious herbed mashed potatoes that I have ever had. To top it all off we ended with two cappuccinos and two freshly made- freshly stuffed cannolis. MMMM. Friggin delicious. I had to be rolled out of there. Once again, LP and I were the last ones to leave the restaurant. Oh man.

Now, stroll ahead to Thursday night. We were invited to a lovely dinner party at the Bourgeious's house. Everyone was to bring something along so I proud a cheese tray {olives, artichokes, roasted reds. parmesan reggiano and stilton cheese w/ apricots. apples and grapes. and my famous honey spicy roasted nuts*see recipe below}. I also brought a salad: roasted figs with goat cheese, caramelized onions and pecans...tossed in a honey/lemon vinaigrette. Muy good. We had a fantastic time, ate some delicious food {grilled shrimp and homemade spaghetti with crab meat!}, and indulged in some great conversation!

I'm going to share with you the most delicious salad recipe of all time:

Roasted Fig Salad with HoneyLemon Dressing:

  • 2 figs per person
  • spring mix or spinach {i heaping handful per person}
  • handful of fresh parsley + basil
  • caramelized onions {optional}
  • goat cheese
  • salt + pepper
  • honey
  • lemon
Here's what you do.... preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While you are waiting rip up the handful of fresh parsley and fresh basil into the spring mix....if you want to add a bit of fresh mint you can do that too. Top the salad with some carmelized onions - about one tablespoon per salad. slice of a decent hunk of goat cheese and place in center of salad.

Dressing: Figure about one tablespoon of honey per person {per salad}. The honey to fresh lemon juice ratio is 3 to one...so for every 3 tablespoons of honey add the juice of one small lemon or half of a large lemon. Also, add about a tablespoon of water. Heat up the dressing just for a second, then whisk it together. Serve dressing warm.

Slice an X into the bottom of each fig. Place on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, a little dash of salt and pepper - and then roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Immediately after removing them from the oven place two on each salad. Drizzle salads with dressing and VOILA! I'd recommend topping with a bit of fresh ground pepper. mmmmm. figs.



Although dried figs are available throughout the year, there is nothing like the unique taste and texture of fresh figs. They are lusciously sweet with a texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds. California figs are available from June through September; some European varieties are available through autumn.

Figs grow on the Ficus tree (Ficus carica), which is a member of the Mulberry family. They are unique in that they have an opening, called the "ostiole" or "eye," which is not connected to the tree, but which helps the fruit's development by increasing its communication with the environment. Figs range dramatically in color and subtly in texture depending upon the variety. The majority of figs are dried, either by exposure to sunlight or through an artificial process, creating a sweet and nutritious dried fruit that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Figs are thought to be originally from small Asia and are one of the first fruits cultivated ever.

It is said that humans could live on Figs alone as a source of food -- such is the goodness and nutrition in the fruit!

Figs are a rich source of calcium, iron, magnesium, Vitamin B6, and potassium. Figs are low in fat and high in fibre. They provide more fiber than any other common fruit or vegetable.
Figs have many health benefits. Fresh and dry figs are high in pectin, a soluble fibre that can reduce blood cholesterol.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Grilled Fish with Chimichurri





I had some flounder that needed to be cooked up, and instead of cooking it the same way that I always do {cooked in the skillet with a little bit of olive oil so it gets nice and crispy...the way that my Dad makes it!} I decided to mix it up a bit. Since the sun has decided to come out again, I've been itching to use the grill. Boom. I decided it would be grilled...now for some spices. I flipped through one of my GOURMET magazines for inspiration and found a simple and delicious recipe for Chimichurri. This brought me back to an Anthony Bourdain episode when he was traveling and eating his way through Uruguay...and there, Chimchurri is served with everything! Anyways, the recipe in GOURMET called for Halibut, but flounder would work just fine. This could also be quite nice with some swordfish or drumfish. Anyways, here is a very interesting bit about Chimichurri {NOT to be confused with the Dominican 'taco-esque' dish 'chimichurris'}:

Chimichurri or Chimmichurri is a kind of green sauce, also used as a marinade, for grilled meat. It is originally from ARGENTINA and URUGUAY but is now used in countries as far north as Mexico. There are various fanciful etymologies for the word. One story claims that it comes from 'Jimmy McCurry', an Irishman who is said to have first prepared the sauce. He was marching with the troops of General Jasson Ospinan in the 19th century, sympathetic to the cause of Argentine Independence. The sauce was popular and the recipe was passed on. However, 'Jimmy McCurry' was difficult for the native people to say. Some sources claim Jimmy's sauce's name was corrupted to 'chimichurri', while others say it was changed in his honor. Other similar stories involve Jimmy Curry, an English meat importer; a Scot, James C. Hurray, travelling with Gauchos; and an English family in Patagonia overheard by the group of Argentinians that were with them while saying "give me the curry". All the stories share an English speaking colonist and the corruption of names or words by the local population.

Chimichurri is made from finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, vegetable oil or olive oil, white or red vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Additional flavorings such as paprika, oregano, cumin, thyme, cilantro, lemon and bay leaf may also be added. It is usually the only seasoning for steak and chorizo sausages in Argentina asados. It can also be used as a marinade for grilled meat. Chimichurri is also available bottled or dehydrated for preparing with oil and water.

The preparation is likely a mixture of Spanish and Italian methods, a general reflection of Argentine society as a whole.


Here is the recipe I used for Chimichurri:


  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp minced shallot
  • 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parlsey

> Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, water, garlic, shallot, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper until well blended. Stir in parsley. Let chimichurri sit for 20 minutes.

> Meanwhile prepare the grill for direct-heat cooking over medium heat charcoal {or in my case with the gas grill, MED heat}

> Pat fish dry, then brush with just a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.

> Grill fish, covered only if using the gas grill, turning once. The whole grilling process should take about 10 minutes.

> Serve fish drizzled with some Chimichurri, serve remainder on the side.

*I grilled my fish with some Chimichurri ON it...it's totally up to you.



I served my fish with some Lemon Rice. I had some leftover cooked Basmati Rice and I threw it in the skillet, a little bit of olive oil, with a teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of mustard seeds, a teaspoon of dried mint, squeezed half a lemon into it, and a little dash of salt. MmMm good.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Spicy Honey Nuts



The other day I was having a craving for these Butter Toffee Almonds that I get at Santori's in Somers Point. They are sooo delicious, but definitely have wayyy more butter toffee than they do almond. Ha. SO, I decided to create a version all my own. I have a TON of raw nuts in the house from when I went on my crazy "candida yeast" cleanse, and I haven't touched the nuts since then. Well, I busted out all the bags o'nuts, grabbed the Honey bear {WHOA, I have been on a honey kick...mmm good}, some cayenne, salt and sugar -- and away I went.

Cailin's Spicy Honey Nuts
  • 1 pound of raw nuts, your choice. {I used brazil nuts, almonds, cashews and pecans}. *If you want, you can start with already-roasted nuts, cutting one step out of the cooking process. Roasting them yourself is pretty easy so if you only have raw available don't worry.
  • cayenne {a teaspoon to a few tablespoons....depending upon your spicy-lovin'-factor}
  • 1/4 of sugar {preferrably turbinado or sugar in the raw...it's crunchier!}
  • 2 big tablespoons of salt {kosher or coarse ground}
  • HONEY. 'bout 6 tablespoons.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the nuts evenly on a baking sheet pan and spray with some olive oil or vegetable oil...just a very light dusting. Roast the nuts for 10-15minutes. On the stove, heat up the honey and mix in the cayenne pepper. Pour over top of the roasted nuts and make sure that they are evenly coated. NOW, with the oven on 325, roast the nuts for another 10-12minutes. Remove from the stove, sprinkle with the salt and sugar, coating all the nuts, and let them cool {make sure you take a spatula to them sometime before completely cooled otherwise they will be glued to the bottom of the pan!}.

ENJOY.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Global Mala Day.

Today, Sunday September 20th is Global Mala Day:

The purpose of the Global Mala Yoga for Peace is to unite the global yoga community from every continent, school or approach to form a "mala around the earth" through collective practices based upon the sacred cycle of 108 on Sept. 19th or 20th, Fall Equinox as the yoga world's offering to further the UN International Peace Day.

Each center offers their form of a Yoga Mala according to their yoga tradition and inspiration:

  • 108 Sun Salutations (or variations of 27, 56)
  • 108 rounds of mantra such as the Gayatri or Maha Mrityanjaya
  • 108 rounds of a kriya
  • 108 minutes of meditation, kirtan or movement meditation

Each Global Mala Yoga for Peace event can be dedicated to practice or to practice and seva - service by integrating local action, and raising funds for the organization of their choice.

Michelle {my favorite - new found - yoga instructor} held a class today...an extra special class. Though we didn't do 108 sun salutations, we did begin the class with a performance by yours truly {I played guitar and sang Desree's "You Gotta Be"} and then did a little exercise {or should I say "project"...}. She handed out a piece of paper to everyone in class, along with a pen. First we were to write three words: What words would someone you love choose to describe you? Next we were to write two ways that we express these qualities. Finally we were to write the kind of world that we want: i.e. an "organic world", "world free of violence", etc. etc. etc. To end the assignment we were to compose of a sentence using these words...selecting one word from our qualities, one way that we express them - and how that can change the world in a way that we envision. My sentence was "I will use my PASSION through TRAVELING to create a COMPASSIONATE WORLD". We folded up this piece of paper, placed it under our mat, and we used this sentence as our mantra for the session...focusing all of our love and energy towards it.


SO, in the end, we didn't do 108 sun salutes...but we did our part to contribute to Global Mala Day. Here is a bit about the significance of 108....


108 has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and yoga. Traditionally, malas, or garlands of prayer beads, come as a string of 108 beads (plus one for the “guru bead,” around which the other 108 beads turn like the planets around the sun). A mala is used for counting as you repeat a mantra—much like the Catholic rosary.

Renowned mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence. This number also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth: The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters. Such phenomena have given rise to many examples of ritual significance.

According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. And there are also 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points, or sacred places of the body.



Namaste.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Caramelizing to Perfection.



All this time I thought that I was "caramelizing" onions and really I was just sautéing them! Big difference people...big difference. In the past I would throw some olive oil in a hot skillet, add in sliced onion, cook on a med-high high - stirring stirring stirring - for about ten minutes. Oh, how wrong I was... When you simply saute onions they still have a somewhat bitter taste, though caramelizing onions brings out there natural sugars, resulting in a delicious- slightly sweet flavor. You can use caramelized onions to top any kind of meat, add to salads, pizzas, tarts, soups and more! Here are the 3 easy steps to make the best caramelized onions:

1 Slice off the root and top ends of the onions, peel the onions. Cut the onions in half. Lay them cut side down and slice the onions lengthwise to desired thickness.

2 Use a wide sauté pan for maximum pan contact with the onions. Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and butter (about 1 teaspoon per onion). Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions, and if you want, you can add some sugar to help with the caramelization process.

3 Let cook for 30 minutes to an hour more, stirring every few minutes. As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but then stir them before they burn. The trick is to let them alone enough to brown (if you stir them too often, they won't brown), but not so long so that they burn. After the first 20 to 30 minutes you may want to lower the stove temperature a little, and add a little more oil, if you find the onions are verging on burning. A metal spatula will help you scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as the caramelization proceeds. As the onions cook down, you may find you need to scrape the pan every minute, instead of every few minutes. Continue to cook and scrape, cook and scrape, until the onions are a rich, browned color. At the end of the cooking process you might want to add a little balsamic vinegar or wine to help deglaze the pan and bring some additional flavor to the onions.

*If you put these in the refrigerator in an airtight container, they will keep for up to a week.

Friday, September 18, 2009

More Chitra for ME!




I finished The Palace of Illusions yesterday by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Epic. Epic. Epic. I will just leave it at that. I was devastated that it had to end, but atleast I had my life back. When I got back from surfing this morning I didn't know what to do with myself...free time and no more "palace". Damnit. I cooked a bit, cleaned a bit, and pondered about the Palace. I looked up the weather forecast for the next few days and the not-so-fabulous-weather ahead inspired me to go pick up another one of Chitra's books from the library. I could be totally-consumed in another one of Chitra's magical worlds and not feel guilty, afterall what is one to do when the sky is pouring down!? This time I picked up "The Mistress of Spices"...'a dazzling tale of misbegotten dreams and desires, hopes and expectations, woven with poetry and storyteller magic.' Now as I write to you about this novel, while doing my research - I found out that in 2005 this book was made into a movie!! Hooray...going to read the book first, movie will follow, and I promise to give a full report.


"On a mythic island of women "where on our skin, the warm rain fell like pomegranate seeds" powerful spices like cinnamon, turmeric, and fenugreek whisper their secrets to young acolytes. Ordained after trial by fire, each new spice mistress is sent to a far-off land to cure the life pains of all Indian seekers, while keeping a cool distance from the mortals. Only stubborn, passionate Tilo, disguised as an old woman merchant in present-day Oakland, California, fails to heed the vengeful spices' warnings. Fragrant with spice and sensuality, this winning tale rolls off the tongue."


Yolita II vs. Sulidae




SO...I get a call from Eduardo in Ecuador today {from Safari Tours}...and basically says "Look...there is a slight chance that Sulidae won't have enough people booked, and if thats the case then it won't sail. If you'd like we can book you aboard the Yolita II {for the same price} because we can guarantee that this boat will be full and will definitely sail. We attribute the Sulidae not sailing the other day because it's the low season right now - and November is our high season, but just in case, we are offering this boat to you."

Do you follow?

Well, what do you think --- the authentic, badass Sulidae that has a 93% chance of sailing, or the fancy, shmancy "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" superior class yacht, the Yolita II?


Yolita II
Sulidae


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lost in Illusions


Since picking up Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's "The Palace Of Illusions", I've been able to think of nothing else. While I'm reading, I feel like I can't read fast enough - I'm so excited to turn the page and see what is next - and then I'm filled with sadness, because I don't want the book to end - therefore I re-read the page again, close my eyes - and imagine as if I were there. UGH - so good. MUY good. Divakaruni has a magical way of storytelling - it truly puts you under a spell. When I'm not reading the book {because I'm a) cleaning a house, b) teaching yoga, c) at mildreds, or d) asleep} it is still constantly in my thoughts. I dream about it at night, and when I'm at work my mind is only on Panchaali and all that she is faced with. {panchaali is the main character}. Place of Illusions is "A reimagining of the world -famous Indian epic, The MAHABHARAT - told from the point of view of an amazing woman." I am utterly fascinated by the dieties, gods, goddesses, curses and prophecies - the reincarnations and karmic lives. Anyways, I'm writing this blog to explain the LACK of blogs. I cannot spend any free time on anything other than this book, and therefore I will not write another blog until I'm finished {unfortunately for me, this may be later in the afternoon....}. I've already spent too much time away from my precious story as it is, but I just HAD to share the wealth with you.


"Relevant to today’s war-torn world, The Palace of Illusions takes us back to the time of the Indian epic The Mahabharat—a time that is half-history, half-myth, and wholly magical. Through her narrator Panchaali, the wife of the legendary five Pandavas brothers, Divakaruni gives us a rare feminist interpretation of an epic story.

The novel traces Panchaali’s life, beginning with her magical birth in fire as the daughter of a king before following her spirited balancing act as a woman with five husbands who have been cheated out of their father’s kingdom. Panchaali is swept into their quest to reclaim their birthright, remaining at the brothers’ sides through years of exile and a terrible civil war. Meanwhile, we never lose sight of her stratagems to take over control of her household from her mother-in-law, her complicated friendship with the enigmatic Krishna, or her secret attraction to the mysterious man who is her husband’s most dangerous enemy. Panchaali is a fiery female voice in a world of warriors, gods, and ever-manipulating hands of fate."

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Flood.


When we moved into our apartment on the corner of 10th and Simpson, we were told that it's flooded once or twice. Not too bad. When we moved into our apartment on the corner of 10th and Simpson, and our landlord didn't ask for a security deposit, first or last months rent, and we didn't have to sign a lease...well, let's just say that we had the revelation that maybe it's flooded more than once or twice...and maybe more major than minor. As the tide began to rise, water filled the street, creeping it's way over our lawn and towards the front door. We crossed our fingers and decided that as long as it didn't rain that we would be okay. A few minutes later the skies opened up and the rain came down - in buckets. I headed to work, crossing my fingers that when I returned that it would be to a dry apartment. I barely escaped a water-soaked Strathmere, only to arrive in Ocean City that was bad and getting worse. I parked halfway up onto the curb, away from the spots that are prone to flooding. The apartment was dry, but I had a feeling in my gut that it wasn't for long. I had an awful sleep, tossing and turning - waiting for the water to arrive. Sure enough, I stepped out of bed at 5am, placing my feet down onto the bedroom floor - and into a bunch of water. Poor Maude was just staring at me, shivering...her bed was saturated and she hadn't shit in more than a day {she refuses to go out in the rain}. Within 15 minutes of waking up, our bedroom filled with more water, and after a half hour had passed the rest of the house began to fill up. First the hallway, then the bathroom, then moving into the kitchen/living room {how appropriate that my living room is in the kitchen!}. I put on my rain boots and made a mad dash for my car, that was soon to be submerged under water. The water was too deep around my car, so I drove down the sidewalk, over 2 flowerbeds {I'm sorry neighbors!!!} and down the block to a spot that was a tad more shallow. There wasn't really any way out - so I tried to find the best, most shallow road out of town. I only made it 8 blocks before my car started to smoke, shake and shutter. I called Shawn, frantic and crying - demanding that he come rescue me. I parked my car on "high ground" at the nursing home on 19th, Shawn scooped me up, and with Maude in tow we headed to my parents house - a dry, safe haven.

I slept for a bit once we arrived at my parents -- sleeping off the "trauma" of it all...hahaha. We had burgers for lunch, I showed Dad some new yoga moves and now I'm getting ready for work. Mildred's is bound to be underwater, so I'm crossing my fingers that my boss will call and tell me not to come in. Otherwise, it looks like I'll be needing a boat to get to work - ready to serve the hungry masses, unafraid of trekking through rivers to get their beloved Crab Imperial and homemade spaggheti....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gallo Pinto.


As the weather has dropped a bit, my body and mind have subconsciously started to crave Costa Rica. I've been eating tortilla's with beans and tomatoes {and hot sauce of course!} every morning for breakfast and lunch, craving cilantro and salsa. I had some leftover rice in the fridge that needed to get eaten, so I figured... gallo pinto! I know that mine won't taste as good as Miss Margarita's in Esterillos, but it will have to do for the time being.

Gallo Pinto:

  • Bowlful of rice
  • Can of black beans
  • One small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • tiny handful of fresh cilantro
  • hot sauce
  • chicken bouillon {powder}
Pour a tad bit of olive oil into your skillet and sautee the diced onion, garlic and red bell pepper. Once they are carmelized toss in your beans and the rice. Spice with some hot sauce and a few sprinkles of powdered chicken bouillon...top with fresh chopped cilantro. If I'm eating gallo pinto just by itself, I like to squeeze a smidge of lime juice on top and scoop it into a grilled corn tortilla. Or, serve alongside scrambled eggs and some sliced avocado.

MmMmMm....tastes like Costa Rica!


Me and Margarita: the Queen of Costa Rican Breakfasts

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti





Oṃ śānti śānti śānti.





Pronunciation notes:

  • o is pronounced like o in ore
  • ā is pronounced as a in father
  • i in speech is pronounced like i in mill, but in chanting is pronounced like ee in bee


Om (Oṃ)

Like many mantras, this one begins with "Om". Om has no meaning, and its origins are lost in the mists of time. Om is considered to be the primeval sound, the sound of the universe, the sound from which all other sounds are formed.

In the Brahminical tradition, from where Buddhism undoubtedly obtained mantra practice, Om is not just the universal sound, but the sound of the universe itself. For example in the (non-Buddhist) Mandukya Upanishad, it is said:

Om! — This syllable is this whole world.

Its further explanation is: –
The past, the present, the future — everything is just the word Om.

And whatever else that transcends threefold time — that, too, is just the word Om.

Om is therefore a sound symbolizing reality. It represents everything in the universe, past, present, and future. It even represents everything that is outside of those three times. It therefore represents both the mundane world of time in which the mind normally functions, and the world as perceived by the mind that is awakened and that experiences the world timelessly. It represents both enlightenment and non-enlightenment.

You could regard Om as being the equivalent of white light, in which all of the colors of the rainbow can be found.

One Sanskrit-English dictionary says the following:

"A word of solemn affirmation and respectful assent , sometimes translated by ‘yes, verily, so be it’ (and in this sense compared with Amen); it is placed at the commencement of most Hindu works, and as a sacred exclamation may be uttered at the beginning and end of a reading of the Vedas or previously to any prayer; it is also regarded as a particle of auspicious salutation [Hail!];

Om appears first in the Upanishads as a mystic monosyllable, and is there set forth as the object of profound religious meditation, the highest spiritual efficacy being attributed not only to the whole word but also to the three sounds A, U, M, of which it consists."

*In Om shanti, ‘Om’ means myself i.e. in Sanskrit ‘Aham’ and ‘Shanti’ refers to Peace. Om Shanti is saying "I am a peaceful soul."

Shanti (Śānti)

Shanti (Pali: Santi) simply means "peace". It’s a beautiful meaning and also a very beautiful sound. The shanti is repeated three times, as are many chants in Buddhism. In Buddhism as well as in Hinduism the threefold Shanti is generally interpreted as meaning the Threefold Peace in body, speech, and mind (i.e. peace in the entirety of one’s being).

Hindu teachings typically end with the words Om shanti shanti shanti as an invocation of peace, and the mantra is also used to conclude some Buddhist devotional ceremonies.

Śānti, or inner peace, arises when the mind has let go of both grasping and aversion. For this reason the Buddhist path of practice is known in Pali as "santimagga" (Sanskrit: śāntimarga) or The Path of Peace, as expressed in the famous Dhammapada verse, "Santimaggam eva brūhaya" — Cultivate this very Path of Peace.

In conclusion, at the end of Yoga when your instructor says Om Shanti Shanti Shanti you are saying: I am a peaceful soul: Peace in words, deeds and thoughts which leads to peace and happiness.

Each Shanti is praying for a specific thing: Here we go into the first, second and third shanti:

Shanti is chanted thrice not for emphasis but because disturbances are of three distinct categories. In Sanskrit, these are referred to as adhi-daivikam, adhi-bhautikam and adhyatmikam.

Adhi-daivikam literally means "mental disturbances that come from God"—i.e. things that are utterly beyond our control: hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, tsunamis, etc. We have no control over these types of disturbances. So when we say the first shanti, we are praying, "O God, may we be protected from these obstacles that are beyond our control."

Adhi-bhautikam literally means "disturbances that come from the world." That means anything stemming from the world around us—mosquitoes, noisy neighbors, barking dogs, the phone ringing, family arguments. As opposed to the first category, we have some control over this second category of disturbances. We can use mosquito repellent, we can call the police on our neighbors, we can turn off the phone, we can leave the place altogether, etc. So this shanti means, "O God, may we be protected from the people and surroundings."

The third type of disturbance is the most powerful and, at the same time, the only one over which we have total control. Adhyatmikam means "disturbances stemming from the self." For one who is still identified with the ego, the people, places and things of this world stimulate one of two reactions in the mind—attachment or aversion. Whether we physical see someone we consider our enemy as we walk down the street or remember him during meditation, the mental turbulence that results is the same. Lust, jealousy, anger, sorrow, hatred destroy our peace. During meditation, pleasant memories also distract us. Hearing the sound of a jet plane flying overhead may mentally carry us off to a fabulous holiday we once took. Only after 10 minutes of daydreaming do we realize we have lost focus on our object of meditation.

In fact, Amma says that the ego is the only true obstacle to mental peace. This third shanti is therefore the most important one, because even if we are free from outside disturbances, if the inner realm is not calm we will never know peace. Conversely, once we have found inner peace, no external force can ever disturb us. So chanting this third shanti is akin to praying, "O God, please remove all the inner obstacles."

There is one more element to the three-fold chanting of "shanti," and that is the silence that follows each repetition. If chanted properly, this silence is the emphasis: shanti... shanti.... shanti....
This silence is representative of true peace, the peace of an Enlightened One like Amma. For the spiritual seeker, peace is the goal. For an Enlightened One peace has been realized as his very nature. To have be have equipoise in every situation in life verily is realization.


So I did some research of classic yoga chants and mantras and I found this one that I really love:

OM SAHANA VAVATU SAHANA BHUNATTU
SAHA VIRYAM KARAWAVAHAI
TEJASVINAVADITAMASTU
MA VIDVISHAVAHAI
OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI OM

Together may be be protected
Together may we be nourished
Together may we work with great energy
May our journey together be brilliant and effective
May there be no bad feelings between us
Peace, peace, peace

(From the Kato Upanishad)


information, thanks to:

http://www.wildmind.org/mantras/figures/shanti

http://archives.amritapuri.org/bharat/mantra/shanti.php



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

IRON and WINE



All morning I've been reconnecting with my tried and true, diamond amoungst the rough... IRON & WINE. {aka} Sam Beam.


Sam Beam.


Sam Beam...and rest of Iron & Wine.

A bit 'bout Iron & Wine, via Wikipedia:


Samuel Beam, better known by his stage and recording name Iron & Wine (born July 26, 1974), is an Americann singer-songwriter. He has released four studio albums, several EPs and singles, as well as a few download only releases, which include a live album (a recording of his 2005 Bonnaroo erformance). He tours with a full band.

Beam was raised in South Carolina before moving to Florida to attend school, but now resides outside of Austin, Texas. The name Iron & Wine is taken from a dietary supplement named "Beef Iron & Wine" that he found in a general store while shooting a film.

Beam was born July 26th 1974, He was raised outside Columbia, South Carolina where his father worked in land management and his mother was a schoolteacher. When he was a child, his family took regular trips to the country where his grandfather ran a farm. He attended Seven Oaks Elementary School, Irmo Middle School, and Chapin High School. While home from college, he was a waiter at California Dreaming restaurant in Columbia.

Beam earned a bachelors degree in art from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. He specialized in painting. He graduated from the Florida State University Film School with an MFA degree. Before the release of the first Iron & Wine album, Beam's main source of income was as a professor of film and cinematography at the University of Miami and Miami International University of Art & Design. He had been writing songs for over seven years before a friend loaned him a four-track recorder. He made demos which his friends distributed and eventually the owner of Sub Pop Records contacted him to propose a deal.

Beam released his first Iron & Wine album, The Creek Drank the Cradle on the Sub Pop label in 2002. Beam wrote, performed, recorded and produced the album in his home studio. Featuring acoustic guitars, banjo, and slide guitar, the album's music has been compared to that of Nick Drake, Simon & Garfunkel, and Elliot Smith.

Also in 2002, Beam recorded a cover of the Postal Service's then-unreleased song "Such Great Heights". Rather than being included on an Iron & Wine release, the track was initially included as a b-side of the original version by The Postal Service. He then followed up on his debut album in 2003 with The Sea & The Rhythm, an EP containing other home-recorded tracks with a similar style to the songs on the debut.

Beam's second album, Our Endless Numbered Days (2004), was recorded in a professional studio with a significant increase in fidelity. Produced in Chicago by Brian Deck, the focus was still on acoustic material, but the inclusion of other band members, gave rise to a slightly different sound. That same year, he recorded the song "The Trapeze Swinger" for the film In Good Company, and had his version of "Such Great Heights" featured in an advertisement for M&M's and in the film and soundtrack for Garden State. This version was later used in a 2006 Ask.com advertisement, and eventually released as a single in 2006 backed with recordings of "The Trapeze Swinger" and "Naked as We Came" made for Radio Vienna.

In February 2005, he released an EP entitled Woman King, which expanded on the sounds of his previous LP, and added electric guitars. Each track featured a spiritual female figure, and had subtle Biblicalundertones.

The EP In The Reins, a collaboration with the Arizona-based rock band Calexico, was released in September 2005. Beam wrote all of the EP's songs years earlier, but Calexico added their trademark fusion of dustysouthwestern rock, traditional Mexican music and jazz to the songs' arrangements. Several tracks feature brass instruments, a first for Beam's music.

The third full-length Iron & Wine album, entitled The Shepard's Dog, was released September 25th 2007. This album was voted one of the ten best of 2007 by PASTE magazine. Contributors included Joey Burns and Paul Niehaus of Calexico, as well as jazz musicians Matt Lux and Rob Burger. When asked to describe the album to The Independent, Beam remarked that "it's not a political propaganda record, but it's definitely inspired by political confusion, because I was really taken aback when Bush got reelected."

Beam has released most of his music on iTunes, including several exclusive EPs. The Iron & Wine iTune's Exclusive features unreleased studio recordings, including a Stereolab cover and two tracks which had previously only appeared on vinyl. The Live Sessions {iTunes Exclusive} features Beam and his sister, Sarah Beam, performing a number of tracks from his albums, as well as a cover of New Order's "Love Vigilantes". Sarah Beam has contributed backing vocals on many of Beam's studio recordings.

Beam's music has appeared in television series such as Grey's Anatomy and The L Word. 2008 saw the use of "Passing Afternoon" in the emotional finale of the fourth season of House M.D.. Later that year, "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" was used in the film Twilight. The song was specifically chosen for the film's prom scene by Kristen Stewart, the female lead, and appears on the film's soundtrack.

Beam is married and the father of four daughters. He lives outside of Austin, TX.


The Creek Drank The Cradle
September 24, 2002

The Sea & The Rhythm
September 09, 2003

Our Endless Numbered Days
March 23, 2004

Woman King
February 22, 2005
In The Reins: Iron & Wine / Calexico Split
September 13, 2005

The Shepard's Dog
September 25, 2007

Around The Well
May 19, 2009



I adore Iron & Wine. I am amazed by Iron & Wine. I am constantly in awe of the magic that Sam Beam infuses into his music. What I love and respect about Iron & Wine the most is that they are one of the FEW bands that has the ability to release album after album - still staying true to their roots and pleasing their fans, but every record is unique. To release a unique album, something with it's own personality, and still retain the magic that drew us all originally - well, that's just...magic! If I was blindfolded and you played me all of their songs - I could tell you which songs were on the same record, because they all have that "something" that was the focus of that record. Ugh. Amazing. I bought Around The Well earlier this year and literally have not removed it from my cd player. I just listen to it over and over and over and over again - and over again - and I love it just as much, if not MORE, with every additional play.

Another bit of genius that Beam has is his ability to play cover songs. He has mastered the art of cover songs - and TRUST ME, to really play a cover song is an art. Beam makes the songs his own. You listen to his version - and the original - and they are rarely anything alike at all. He imbeds his personality into the song. Truly amazing. Around The Well is an example of his outstanding ability to create beautiful, unique songs out of covers.

Below is Sam Beam playing one of the songs off his "Shepard's Dog" album - it's great to hear the stripped down, raw version here. Below that is my version, of their version, of New Order's song "Love Vigilante's".