Sunday, February 28, 2010

Very Affirming

This week's assignment to work the the affirmations I created:

  • "I respect myself and create healthy boundaries" and "I am in love with life..."
  • "I am financially free" 
  • "I am full of optimism, hope and faith"
  • "I am constantly moving forward"
  • "I cook and create with love"

I found that I turned to them when I was in need of reversing distress while out and about or at work. When someone bothered me or began to encroach on my serene energy I would internally burst into "I respect myself and create healthy boundaries!!!"

It seemed to help in the same way counting backwards from 100 helps when you're really angry and need to calm down before you speak.  It was pretty interesting to experience!

I didn't use any of the other phrases I'd come up with much.  I'm sure they'll come in handy at some point though :) Maybe having written down has put them to work behind the scenes...

Another thing I realized is that there is a poem my brain defaults to when I need to calm down.  At the risk of sounding pretentious...I'll share it here:

Sonnet CXVI
by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

For some reason I felt the need to memorize this poem when I was in college. Reciting it never fails to relax me. I guess that was the reason :)


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sweet (and spicy) Potato Fries!

These are one of my favorite snacks/sides.

I ended up eating these for dinner after a long afternoon of cooking meals for the week...and I washed them down with some tasty Scottish beer ;)

  • One large sweet potato (you can adjust depending on how many you're feeding, of course)
  • Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Cayenne
  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder

Slice potato into fries and toss with the above ingredients to taste.  Place single layer on cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

I once made these as a side with jambalaya and corn bread.  AWESOME.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Creating Affirmations

 "Accidental" Heart-Shaped Cookie

This week's Creative Dreaming assignment was to create affirmations.

I've done this in the past and it can be difficult depending on what mindset you're in at the time.  I started by thinking about it as "Turning Negative Thoughts Around" which is really a different (but helpful) thing.

My first thought was that it's really hard for me to turn certain negative thoughts around.  How can you find anything positive in, say, being exasperated by people's rudeness or thoughtlessness? I was riding on a crowded Subway at the time :) 

Maybe this is where some good affirmations would come in handy?  Creating positive statements to recite as a mantra for inviting goodness...especially during trying times.

So I came up with: "I respect myself and create healthy boundaries" and "I am in love with life..."

Perhaps this will help shield me during those moments when I get too outside of myself.

I also wrote down:
  • "I am financially free" 
  • "I am full of optimism, hope and faith"
  • "I am constantly moving forward"
  • "I cook and create with love"

I'm eager to see how these will help me in the weeks ahead.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Meditation Hesitation

My New Desk Chair

As you might have noticed, I'm a day (almost two) late with my Creative Dreaming post. This week's assignment was to do an affirmative visualization meditation.


I seem to have a very hard time with this when I'm at home.  For some reason I resist turning off distractions like the TV or music when I'm alone.  I get so plugged in that I can't imagine the silence. I really can't figure out why because when I'm on vacation I don't miss any of it.

So, in true Lee Ann fashion...I resisted doing the meditation.  I told myself that I would wait and devote the proper amount of time to it on Sunday...the day updates are due. 

Instead, I stayed plugged in all weekend watching sitcom marathons and the Olympics on. I even re-watched a tear-jerker I've seen more than once.

Through all of this the meditation mp3 was waiting on my computer screen.  While dishes piled up and I stayed on that couch.

Thank goodness for long weekends.  Today I have managed to wash all those dishes, do a few Sun Salutations, and finally sit down on my new stability ball to listen to the meditation.

The result?  An easing of stress in my heart and a smile on my face when I opened my eyes.


*This isn't the first visualization meditation I've done.  I participated in an Empowerment Workshop a while back (before herbal medicine and cooking were a part of my life) and we did one together to conjure up what our work would be...including our office space.  Mine was a kitchen.  Talk about crazy, right???   :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Letting Go and Following Through

 Pine Trees and Snow Drops

I originally wrote this for The New York Optimist and it never got posted, but I like it so I thought I'd share it here since I won't be submitting to the Optimist anymore. I want thank The Optimist for giving me the opportunity and wish it all the best!

This is two blogs in one which I began pre-2010...


Why is it so hard to let go of "Stuff?"

I had decided that, in the post travel doldrums, I would purge my apartment of all unneeded items. I was SO determined.

What actually happened was that, in my post Scotland funk, I laid around my apartment watching my Netflixed Remington Steele DVD and went online more times than strictly necessary. 

In my defense...I did get a mountain of clothes put away, as well as my luggage, and washed all the dishes that had accumulated in my sink.

In the end, I gave away a large box of DVDs, some books and a small bag of clothing.

One of the things I realize when traveling around with just a backpack and carry-on is how much "stuff" I have.  "Getting away from it all" also made me see how much unnecessary stuff I carry around on the inside.

Why are both are so hard to let go of?  When I was in Scotland, I felt as if I could let go of everything right then and why is it so hard now to throw away a bunch of stuff I haven't used in years? And why is my head filling up with useless worries and stress now?

I'm going to have to think on this some more (or maybe that's the problem?)

In the meantime, I have decided that I will "purge in pieces".  Whenever I see something that has been hanging around for too long, I will get rid of it. I have come to the conclusion that I need to do this on the inside too, although I doubt it will be as easy as tossing stuff into a box.  The "post travel" me has reared her ugly head and all of a sudden I am finding that it's way too overwhelming to let go of everything at once, but because of the travel I'm finding that some letting go is necessary.


So letting go it what I did.

Bring on 2010!

I  finally got over my post travel funk and was lucky to have a whole week off between Christmas and New Year's.  I spent it finding the balance between getting stuff done and relaxing.

Since then I've been reveling in the quiet and taking the time to listen to my heart and soul and to realize that all is well.

I've been cooking, writing, baking, germinating plants, setting up an Etsy page and taking part in a free online creative dreaming workshop at  It's been amazing (as you all know)!


Twitter has been fabulous during my self reflection.  I took the chance of reaching out to one of my Twitter friends based in Edinburgh and asked for advice about returning for an extended stay.  Through the magic of the retweet I instantly made some new Edinburgh-based twitter friends who had some answers! For all the drawbacks technology can have, moments like these remind me what a gift they can be. I was even asked to write an article for Edinburgh Spotlight about my love for the place.  It can be found here.

2010 has started out fresh and new...and I'm feeling very grateful.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pumpkinhead Ale Ice Cream

Last night I polished off quite a bit of this while watching Dr. Who :)

It came out with a very mild flavor...but I certainly don't hate it! The double chocolate stout ice cream I made for last year's Muppet still my favorite. It had a bit more body to it for the Winter. Mmm...Stout.

1 pint heavy cream
1 tin sweetened condensed milk
12 tablespoons Pumpkin Ale (I used Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale)

*You might want to add a little bit more beer when it's a lighter favor*

Make sure all ingredients are well chilled.

Whip cream with mixer until it stands up in peaks...then fold in condensed milk and beer. Pour into a container and put in freezer. No ice cream maker needed! Serve right from will melt rather quickly.



Sunday, February 7, 2010

Celebrating Myself

This week's Creative Dreaming task was to celebrate ourselves. Everything we are, and doing, to make our dreams come true.

I initially thought, "Let me invite some friends along so we can all celebrate ourselves..." but as soon as the invitation had gone out I thought better of it.  It made me realize how, in the past, I felt selfish or undeserving when praising myself. I would dilute any pride I had in my accomplishments by giving that power away to others. I would simply hand it over. Lately, my mind has been revisiting a lot of things and I've gained a lot of clarity.

I'm VERY proud of myself these days.

The group plans fell through...or maybe it was just how it was supposed to be. Instead, I indulged in something I haven't done in a while; I spent a quiet Friday night at home and treated myself to gyro and a new DVD. Yes! After a tiring week at work, I found a vendor near my office, bought Lamb Gyro over rice, and carried it on the subway back to Queens. Then I blissfully kicked back on the couch with a beer, my yoga toes, watched "Chaplin," and allowed myself to unwind properly.

Some things to celebrate: I finished writing my article for Edinburgh Spotlight (thanks for the help, Nerina!) and my Lemon-Sage popcorn was linked to in the Bliss Spa Blog, which was a nice little surprise (thanks again, Julie!)

It's been a good week.

I feel as if I'm always celebrating myself these days and it's about time! The best part is that I'm doing it consciously.  I'm using these times of quiet to regroup and really get to know myself.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lemon-Sage Popcorn

It seems to be snack week!

I try my hardest to make snacks I can bring into work (so I stay away from the Cheez-its and Dr. Pepper) and I've recently become obsessed with popping my own corn on the stove top.  It's fabulously old school :)

3 T organic popcorn kernels
1 T lemon infused olive oil
Ground  Sage
Ground Mustard Seed
Onion Powder
Sea Salt

Put corn and oil in a med-large sauce pan over medium-high heat and cover.

Now, you can season the popcorn one of two ways. Either add the spices in the very beginning or wait until after the corn is popped.  I found that if you put everything together from the get-go, the flavors infuse the popcorn more fully.

You might want to shake the pan once in a while to keep it from burning but I didn't really need to once I started using a good, heavy-bottomed pan. The first time I tried this in a cheap, and apparently thin bottomed, pan it caught fire.  So make sure you use a good pan!

Yields about 5 cups of delicious popcorn!

I love watching the corn pop through the clear lid of the pan.  There's something really vibrant and happy about it :)  And it produces this wonderful, light, savory snack with a bit of fruitiness to it.

It's great for a movie night!



Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Spicy Kale Chips!

These were like crack for me this weekend!

I had the idea to make them as an addition to another crumble on top...and instead I devoured them like a starved animal.

They're ridiculously tasty.

1 bunch of kale, washed and thoroughly dried
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Ground Cumin
Ground Cayenne
Chili Powder
Onion Powder
Lime Juice

Remove (full) stems from kale and break into bite sized pieces. Toss with a little olive oil, lime juice and remaining spices to taste. Put on a parchment covered cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes (until the edges of the kale pieces are brown).


Next time I'm going to try these with Parmesan cheese, garlic and lemon juice!