Sunday, January 31, 2010

Trying New Things...

 Homemade Soap :)

This week's assignment has been to try something new.

It seems as if that's what I've been doing for months now!  Since the new year began, I have put myself on a loose budget...mostly putting payments on my credit cards instead of buying shoes and clothes...and something that I never thought would make much of a difference...paying my bills when they come in (if I have the funds) instead of waiting for the due dates.  This way the money is gone so I can't make a million frivolous purchases during the week.  I also have been budgeting my grocery lists to last two weeks, give or take, and I cook a few meals that I can rotate until my next pay check.  This one can back-fire a bit if one of the meals doesn't quite do it for me...but all in all it's been working.  I paid off one credit card already!

This week I decided to try getting all ready for the day, the night before...including my shower.  Yeah, didn't care for it. I mean, I liked the showering at night because it was relaxing...but a morning shower helps wake and warm me up and relax my sore neck/back/shoulder muscles after sleeping on an inadequate mattress all night.  I also really don't like my hair after I sleep on it.  I'm a Leo, after all, our "manes" are very important to us!  Granted, I am in the process of growing out my hair and it's a bit awkward to begin with.  But I digress...

I do like getting my lunch together the night before.  I won't try laying out my clothes because I have no clue what I'll feel like wearing until the day arrives.

I didn't even make myself stick with it for the whole week...I did it for two nights and thought, "I really don't like this, so why keep doing it?"  It's a PM shower not a life or death situation! In the end, the whole experiment resulted in me playing with my time...opening it up and helping me have more of it to relax and be in the morning before heading back into the mayhem that is New York City.

This all goes along very well with where I'm at...trying what works and what doesn't and then promptly moving on instead of agonizing over my seeming lack of will-power or whatever nonsense I used to say to myself.

Instead I think, "Well, that wasn't for me...and that's okay."  Maybe the next thing will be.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hot Toddy Cookies!!!

I dreamed about it...and now they're a reality.

Hot Toddy cookies!

I apparently won't stop until I turn every cocktail into a cookie.  It all started when I found some awesome cookie recipes on, of all places, a vegan blog! It's called "Have Cake Will Travel..." and is beautifully done.

There I found such wonders as Whiskey, Tequila, and Double Chocolate Stout Cookies.

So I took (and tweaked) the base recipe...the alcoholic inspiration, and ran with it!  I also de-veganized them.

4 T Whiskey
1 T Lemon Juice
1 t Lemon Zest
3 T Golden Raisins
1/2 c Sugar
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 t Baking Powder
1/4 t Sea Salt
1/4 t Ground Cloves
2 t Cornstarch
3 T Canola Oil
3 T Milk

Soak raisins in the whiskey for at least an hour. I need to invest in some Bourbon for these, I think.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine dry ingredients and mix well.  Add whiskey/raisin mix and remaining wet ingredients...mix well. Drop onto a cookie sheet (I used a cookie scoop) covered with unbleached parchment paper and press (they wont spread out in the oven). Bake for 18 minutes.

Makes a little over a dozen cookies :)

*Next time I'm going to replace the sugar with honey and maybe try melted butter instead of canola oil.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tracking Success...

Happy Creative Dreaming Sunday, Everyone!  This week is devoted to how I will track my success.

I think I'm going to devote a small journal to this. I like writing things out. I haven't actually done this in the past. Normally I do vision boards and have little reminders all over my apartment about dreams and believing etc.  Never have I kept track of what is happening and coming true!  So this should be exciting.

I have my normal journal (I started it right before my most recent trip to Scotland since I had finished off my other one during the last :)  My Sister gave me two new blank books for my birthday this year because she couldn't decide between the two...serendipity! I haven't had to buy a journal for myself in years; people find out you write and that turns into a go-to's fantastic.

Funny thing about this little journal I'm going to use to track my success...I actually had bought the same one for myself years ago, before my month-long adventure in Italy. I ended up filling it with a bunch of worry and craziness over a person who ended up being very toxic for me (although, in the end, a good lesson).  That particular journal was flung into the incinerator of my apartment building only a short time ago. I loved the book though, so NEW BEGINNINGS.

Things I am doing to move my success along and results?  Let's see.  It's changing and evolving all the time...
  • Asking questions and reaching out, making contacts and getting information.
  • Sharing my journey here
  • Strengthening friendships I had been neglecting
  • Trying to help others spread the word (check out the ad links on the right side of this page: John Philip Newell, Mark Cooper, ABC Creativity, etc.)
  • Letting go of things that are harmful to me
  • Twitter and Facebook exposure
  • Writing for other websites such as The New York Optimist (and I was recently asked to write a little article about my latest trip by EdinburghSpotlight!)
  • Creating a new dream/vision board! 
  • Working on my element shield (water) for my Apprenticeship
  • Actively paying down my debt (one credit card down as of Friday!!!)
  • De-cluttering my space as much as possible. It keeps my head clearer.  For example: I try to keep the kitchen sink clear now.
  • Listening to my body.  What food it needs/wants to be healthy.  How much sleep it needs. Emotional needs etc.
  • Trying to have one good cry a week.  My best friend from growing up said she does this...and it really does help release pent up emotions and dark energy.   So I put a sad DVD in!
  • Make sure to laugh and smile as much as I can
  • Only pursue what brings me joy and in turn, joy finds me!
  • Trying to exercise as much as possible...or even just stretch in the morning (helps my back, neck, posture and mood!)
  • Being easy on myself when I have an "off" day because it's all part of the process
  • Speaking my mind
  • Listening to my intuition...hasn't led me wrong.
  • Realizing I don't have to do everything at once...and that this is my time to try out what works and what doesn't...but not to give up because it takes experimentation to figure out what the best way for me.
  • Stepping back a bit and look at where I'm going and seeing things come to me!
  • Evaluate where I am, be present. It helps me stay balanced and focused.
  • Cooking new recipes on the weekends to write about during the week (next up: "Hot Toddy" Cookies!)
  • I'm participating in this wonderful workshop!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cajun Beef Stew

This is one of those recipes that I will keep working on until I get it right, dammit!  :)

I have tried it for years! Ever since I got my slow cooker...back in my filthy cave of a Manhattan apartment...and most recently here in my warm, cozy, Queens apartment.

And yet...I STILL haven't mastered it.

I know what you're thinking..."How can someone possibly mess up a slow cooker recipe?"  Or..."But that photo looks delicious! " wasn't a total disaster...but I over cayenne-d it was like fire in a bowl.  I had to add yogurt and sugar to tone it down.

Next time I will conquer this stew, I swear!!!

The original recipe comes from a Betty Crocker Slow Cooker recipe book. I used organic ingredients and substituted olive oil for cooking spray and tweaked it a bit, but it's essentially the same.

Cajun Beef Stew

1/4 cup Caribbean jerk marinade
1 pound cubed beef (organic, no antibiotics)
4 medium red potatoes cut into quarters
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbs spicy Cajun seasoning
1 28oz can (organic) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup okra, chopped

Coat beef in marinade and let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Spray inside of 4-5 quart slow cooker with olive oil.  Put potatoes in.  Mix flour and Cajun seasoning; toss with marinated beef, coating well.  Place beef on top of potatoes in cooker and add tomatoes.

Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Stir in vegetables and cook for another 15-30 minutes.


*I made my own Cajun seasoning with garlic, onion powder, cayenne, paprika, cumin, fennel, thyme and chili powder...but added WAY too much cayenne. Be smarter than me and go easy on the cayenne :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

This Is My Life...


It's another Creative Dreaming day!  I have an overdue recipe blog in the works as stay tuned!

Today my task is to take stock of my life as it is right now under a few here we go!

This Is My Health:
  • I try to stick to my herbal medicines and as a result I feel better, and I notice my skin's tone and color is much healthier...not to mention the money I save by fewer visits to the drugstore.
  • I do want to get more active and get my neck and spine stronger and more flexible to counteract all the hours I sit in front of a computer (I'd love to get a pilates ball to sit on when working!)
  • I try to eat healthy and continue to work on adjusting my diet to work with my body.
  • On the whole I make my own beauty products so I know exactly what's in them and what's going in my body...I try to take care of myself from the outside and within.
These Are My Relationships:
  • I am working on my relationship with me right now...
  • I am surrounding myself with nourishing, positive, supportive, respectful souls
This Is My Abundance:
  • I am experiencing an abundance of inner peace and balance and lightness
  • I see an increase in my focus on my dreams
  • I see an abundance in my debt consolidation and my dedication to it
  • I see an expansion of my contacts in Scotland
  • Travel
  • Spiritual balance
  • Support with my dreams and goals
This Is My Creativity and Purpose:
  • Writing The Lions's Share
  • Experiencing (and sharing) nourishing things such as food and following my bliss
  • Cooking
  • Natural medicine and healing (Reiki)
  • Art
  • Photography
  • Becoming financially free
  • Saving money
  • Returning to Scotland
This Is How I Practice Self Love/Self Care:
  • I'm putting my needs and health (emotional, spiritual, physical) first
  • I make my tea infusions
  • I try to focus on my breathing
  • I do my stretches and try to fit in some yoga here and there
  • I eat healthy most of the time and indulge myself when it's needed
  • I listen to my instincts and try to follow
  • I try to get enought sleep
  • I try to drink enough water
  • I laugh
  • I cry
  • I dream
  • I am de-cluttering my life little by little
  • I give myself quiet time
  • I cut myself some slack :)
This Is How I Experience Happiness/Adventure:
  • Scotland!
  • Travel (going to Dublin in March!)
  • Enjoying the little the taste and smell of honey, listening to music on the walk to the subway or singing along while I cook...dancing around my apartment...the smell of coffee or tea...cute puppies...the way the sun comes through my kitchen window in the afternoon.
  • Cooking!
  • Writing
  • Photographing
  • Playing the violin
  • Feeling the love expand in my heart when I see photos of Scotland...and when I'm actually there, of course.
  • Making medicine
  • Reading beautiful words
  • Tasting yummy food while I'm creating it
  • Laughing and being silly with friends
  • Fantastic conversations that could go on forever
  • Baking with booze :)
  • Beer
  • Scotch
  • Knitting/yarn
  • Creating

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dreams Achieved...

 My 11 year old self's toe shoes...

Week two of  "Creating Dreams Come True..." and our assignment is to create a follow up list to our creative dreams by writing down our dreams come true...I've gone pretty far kindergarten, actually:

  1. I Learned how to Ballet Dance
  2. I Learned how to play the Violin
  3. Tried almost every type of art and craft
  4. I graduated from college 
  5. I live in New York City (it was a dream at one point :) )
  6. I met Terrence Mann (twice) and got a photo and autograph
  7. Saw Paul McCartney in concert (3 times!)
  8. I did a magical road trip through England, Scotland and Wales...
  9. I  found myself in  Scotland
  10. I spent a month in Italy
  11. I dreamed up my current apt for years without realizing it...and it fell into my lap.
  12. I started getting Reiki treatments
  13. I was attuned to level II Reiki
  14. I took my first herbal medicine making classes
  15. Learned how to Tango
  16. I returned to Scotland for my 30th birthday
  17. I travel on my own
  18. I navigated buses, trains, ferries etc in Scotland on my own
  19. I travelled on my own all the way out to Iona to meet a large group of strangers
  20. I have friends in Scotland and England and Canada and...all over!!!
  21. I swam in the ocean in October while on Iona
  22. Danced at a Ceilidh
  23. I have gotten much more social
  24. I started The Lion's Share
  25. I create healthy, creative and easy meals
  26. I use my blog as an outlet for my photography
  27. I have written some recaps for HBO's True Blood on TV Guide Magazine's Website
  28. Bought my first laptop
  29. I wrote The Lion's Share while in Scotland
  30. Climbed to the top of Arthur's Seat
  31. Conquered eating and having a pint alone in the pubs
  32. I'm consolidating my debt
  33. I've learned how to save up for trips etc instead of charging everything
  34. Thrown dinner parties at my home (Muppet Party!)
  35. I am doing an Herbal Apprenticeship
  36. I've pretty much gone off all prescription and over the counter medication
  37. I am more in tune with the Earth
  38. Feel more balanced
  39. Learning to let go of negative emotional and physical "stuff"
  40. Bought tickets to go see The Waterboys in Dublin this March back in July...with no real plan
  41. Just bought my plane ticket and hotel room for Dublin
  42. Gotten more spontaneous and stopped procrastinating...going for things
  43. I purchased a square-foot of land in The Highlands to help protect the area :)
  44. I set up a new Etsy shop

That's what I have come up with so far...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Little Spoon

I stole this spoon from my parents house years ago when I moved into my first apartment.  I'm pretty sure I didn't ask.  So, Mom...if you were wondering where that spoon went...

I have many memories of sitting at the dining room table eating cereal in the wee hours of the morning prior to school...before I braved the cold to wait for the school bus or chip my red 1986 Dodge Colt Premier out of the ice to drive to East Lyme High School.

When I was a kid, I hated using the "giant" spoons in the drawer...and would always root through all the cutlery in order to find the small ones.  The one pictured above in particular.

Now it's the spoon I like to use when having tea or coffee because when searching out a spoon for cereal I prefer the big guys now.

I was thinking about what a great metaphor the spoon story is for my life now.  I want to take in so much more of life than I did when I was a kid.

But I still love my favorite spoon.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Creative Dreaming

Sky's the limit

I am taking part in a Creative Dreaming program via the internet this year.  Our first assignment is to create a list of 100 dreams and post it here goes!

  1. Live in Scotland
  2. Make The Lion's Share and LionArt Creations my (paying) work
  3. Sell my artwork
  4. Fall in Love
  5. Have light-filled relationships
  6. Marry a wonderful man
  7. Have an awesome dog
  8. A garden
  9. A dishwasher :)
  10. A hearth in my kitchen
  11. Be a Wise Woman/Green Witch :)
  12. Travel
  13. Part of a loving community
  14. Spiritual practice
  15. Health & Balance
  16. Give/Get Reiki regularly (a part of The Lion's Share/LionArt)
  17. Financially free
  18. Financially comfortable
  19. Laughter
  20. Adventure
  21. Freedom
  22. Do things that matter to me
  23. Make a difference
  24. Keep learning and growing
  25. Close friends and family
  26. Always creating
  27. Strong
  28. Emotionally connected
  29. Visit France
  30. Visit Quebec
  31. Visit Nova Scotia
  32. Show my photographs
  33. Have lots of healthy energy
  34. Always act out of love
  35. Never short-change myself
  36. Never afraid to shine
  37. Never act out of fear
  38. Game nights
  39. Dinner parties
  40. Outdoor kitchen
  41. Greenhouse
  42. Nature always nearby
  43. Daily fitness that's fun...a natural part of the day
  44. Dancing
  45. Violin playing
  46. Singing
  47. Learn more about family history
  48. Return to Iona
  49. Be flexible in body and mind (yoga)
  50. No back or neck pain
  51. Freedom from "desk work"
  52. Surrounded by love
  53. Have a fabulous/supportive/trustworthy business partner
  54. Free of clutter
  55. Spacious, comfortable home
  56. Money to come and go as I please
  57. Have a mentor
  58. Healthy tummy :)
  59. Camping!!!
  60. Visit my friends around the world
  61. Lion's Share Dinner parties in Edinburgh etc.
  62. Time to knit
  63. Time to make medicine
  64. Time to cook
  65. A clean, organized, airy home
  66. An open heart
  67. Work at home
  68. Learn how to play the guitar and harp
  69. Know how to tend my plants
  70. Spend less frivolous time online
  71. Connect with people in person
  72. Live in a simplified environment
  73. Have a simplified lifestyle
  74. Naps :)
  75. Greenhouse window in kitchen
  76. Old fashioned kitchen with huge sink and big welcoming table for gathering
  77. Brew beer!
  78. Make mead
  79. Learn how to make butter and cheese
  80. Master bread-making
  81. Balanced relationships
  82. See every place in Scotland
  83. Write blogs in cafes 
  84. Meditate
  85. Be in nature every day
  86. Be near mountains and water
  87. See the stars at night
  88. Learn about Celtic spirituality
  89. Share my space, life, food, etc...
  90. Lots of love and affection
  91. Healthy skin
  92. Healthy respiratory system
  93. Healthy joints
  94. Feel inspired
  95. Be brave
  96. Say what I mean and mean what I say
  97. Finish what I start
  98. Follow through/keep promises
  99. Write poetry again
  100. Be open to life and go for it!!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Cookies and New Beginnings

I spent the last day of the first decade of the 21st century doing things I love. I created some new boozy cookies, watched the Colin Firth "Pride and Prejudice" and enjoyed some quiet time.

I've had the pleasure of an entire week off at home, and other than wishing I could see nature outside my window, it's been transforming.  I've been cooking, writing, purging, making tea infusions...and realizing how much I like "working" at home. I feel as if I've been in my cocoon (or maybe "element" is a better word) all week and lots of magic has been spinning.

2009 started out with a bit of manic uncertainty, like so many other years, but ended up being transformative! It brought me back to Scotland (Iona! Edinburgh!), The Lion's Share, new friends, new ideas and a lot of letting go.  It brought me back to myself. 2010 was ushered in quietly, but certainly, and I woke up this morning with peace in my heart.

I'm positive 2010 will open me up even more.  It will be the year I see Dublin, and The Waterboys, for the first time!  That in itself is astonishing to me :) I also can't wait to see what will bring me back to Scotland ;)

And now...for that new boozy cookie recipe!

Hot Buttered Rum Cookies

5 T Dark Rum
3 T Golden Raisins
1/2 c Dark Brown Sugar, packed
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 t Baking Powder
1/4 t Sea Salt
2 t Cornstarch
3 T Browned Butter
3 T Milk

Soak raisins in the rum for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Brown butter in small skillet and then add to brown sugar and raisin/rum mixture.  Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Drop onto a cookie sheet (I used a cookie scoop) covered with unbleached parchment paper and press (they wont spread out in the oven). Bake for 18 minutes.

Makes a little over a dozen cookies :)

Happy New Year!