And We Rely on Each Other!

Do you have a friend who in most ways is the exact opposite of you? I have one of those, and even though we disagree on almost everything, she makes me laugh regularly,and I make her cry with a moving rendition of Islands in the Stream, so it works well enough.

But in truth, its more than that. Most of all I know that if I needed her I know she would do anything in her power to help me. That trust in a person is rare, but a gift of the highest degree. I wonder how we go to that point of trust, and I think in a way it was always there. Sure, we have let each other down on numerous occasions, but somehow we always found our way back to each other.

Can you say that someone in your life would put you first? If so, take time every day to be thankful about it and look to them for inspiration.

A person who is giving reminds you the only way to dig yourself out of a bleak existence, is to turn away from your own worries and help others.

No matter what you do for a living, what you do for the day-to-day, without love for your fellow-man, you will have very little.

My friend the dog-person and I the cat lady, appreciate one another’s difference, though we don’t always understand them. She brings out the lumberjack in me, and I bring out the artist in her. Last summer, she took me on a kayak day trip where I faced my biggest fears. Let’s just say that at one point I found myself horizontal in my kayak inching through a drainage pipe filled with lake spiders and their webs. It took me about 10 minutes, and her 30 seconds, but she waited for me, cheering me on.

That same year, we renovated my family’s entire house. Our family was up to our necks in insulation, paint, wood, and tools we never knew existed. In exchange for some hot meals and a peaceful place to rest, she was right by our side until the very end. Furthermore, by way of the craft room we built, she discovered that she was a very talented sculptor and muralist.

We are apart now and we miss one another’s company. The little stuff like stopping by to walk the dogs at the park are lost to distance between us.

But the world gets so crazy, and we are just trying to get by doing the right thing. No matter the distance, we  both know there is someone out there who is carrying a candle in our name.

The time we spent together, sniffing the air along the lake, riding out to the country for a raving hoe down, and watching the sun set over the hills, were what we needed to face the separate worlds we live in today. I’m glad I was paying attention to those little moments, because the peace in my heart remains, and I will always be thankful for that.

A little taste of our nostalgia, my friend’s week in Wisconsin. Now you know why I call her the lumberjack:

The Lumberjack plays with her new toy

The Lumberjack is also a cyclist

The Lumberjack is a soccer goalie, you can sometimes see her playing at midnight!

So thanks friend, for the memories, and those to come.

How to Take a Spiritual Journey

There are a number of journeys that can constitute a spiritual journey. One is the journey you take from one home to another: The man traveling from Wisconsin who sells his Chevy for a bus ticket to California, ends up traveling for three days without a shower or a bed.

Brothers, and Their Baggage, in India By A. O. SCOTT, Published: Sep 28, 2007 NY TIMES

Another journey you take to shed your baggage in order to find something that is missing from your life: Three semi-estranged brothers reunite on a train to search for their mother, who has joined a convent in India.

Another yet, is the one you take to bury a loved one: The daughter comes back to her old hometown to share her mother’s final days.

Some journeys are drawn out and some are short and fast. Some you take alone and some are crowded with voices.

It need not be approached too consciously; getting overly involved in its contents and outcome will cause you to over think.

The point is to release feelings of false control, so let go…

First, you must be called upon. This will come in the form of an opportunity that you will either listen to or not. Be a YES man, take that chance and start your journey.

You begin totally green. 

You, essentially a fool, are
courageous because you don’t know what is ahead of you. “[The fool] is the adventure in us that leaves safe places to find new things, he is the part of us that is hungry enough to want more and silly enough to take the risks to find what we need(1).”

Along the way you will meet characters with their own wisdom.

Some will recognize your journey as one that will continue.

Others will believe you have gone as far as you should go.

Furthermore, you will be presented with trials.

These you must face in light of your history and what brought you there in the first place.

The characters that you interact with and the trials you face play with different aspects of your subconscious and conscious mind.Some call upon your analytic reasoning powers while others will dip into the imagination…About halfway through, you will have a revelation of sorts.

This will transform you.

Go with it and return a new person.

Now, its your turn.

Here is a mini journey for you to take, enjoy:


Still Dreamin’…

Remember when I told you my husband I made a life plan to someday build a ranch in the country?  Here’s to that dream:

And, of course, I cannot forget my sister, author of We used to live together in Wisconsin while we attended school at the University.  She and I shared many a winter together, and a lot of Paul Simon played through the record player. We raised parakeets there, the best we could.  Learned to cook, paint, draw, and throw parties that always involved costumes!  We learned to put a house and a wardrobe together by carousing thrift shops. We learned to keep a home together and most importantly we fell hopelessly in love! Sisterly love like nothing in the whole world.  If you have a sister, consider yourself blessed, treat her well, love her and take care of her always.

Here’s to you Ringleader, my sister, my confidante, my best friend:

Discover Your Inner Chef

As you can tell by my banana bread fiasco, I am not a cook.  Just like the original Miss Corrigan, I too tend to burn whatever it is I am trying to put together.  But, I gotta eat, and I gotta feed my family, so I better learn quick!  So I turned to my cooking confidant, Miss Beaucoup, who always excites me with her love for all things food, except for grapefruit, which we have proven I love the most. I have asked her to light a fire under me so i can light a fire under a good meal.

Without further ado, I present to you Miss Juju Beaucoup:

How to Discover your Inner Chef

Don’t love cooking?  No problem . . . you don’t HAVE to love cooking in order to find the chef within, though it does help.  To start, you simply must love eating food, and when I say food, I mean REAL, fresh-from-the-earth food.  What better motivation to cook than the delightful reward of eating something homemade and delicious?

Though it may come more easily to some than others, every one of us has a chef within that is dying to come out and play.  The key to unlocking your inner chef is a simple as the three L’s:  LEARN, LIVE, and LOVE.

1. LEARN:  As with anything in life, the art of culinary creativity starts with learning. 

There are so many ways to get inspired to find your way in the kitchen.  To begin, just start exploring.  Have a conversation with friends or acquaintances about their experiences with food.  This is a great way to get recipes and tips, or you might even find a cooking comrade.

For those who don’t really love cooking, it is always more enjoyable spending time in the kitchen when you are there with someone you appreciate.  There are also many classes available through community resources that might offer the opportunity to learn with others—check out your local papers or stores for workshops.

Otherwise, find a cooking show you enjoy watching to learn some basics about ingredients and preparation techniques.  Watch before you start or while you’re cooking to stimulate your appetite and get you in the mood.
Jamie Oliver is a great host for those who don’t want to spend too much time cooking; he demonstrates casual, minimalistic and healthy techniques while adding some British wit and charm to the mix. There are endless videos to be seen online, not to mention entire television channels dedicated to food and the culture therein.

The next step to learning is to start trying.  Don’t worry if you feel like you’re going to fail.  Every failed attempt is a learning opportunity to get it right the next time.  When you are first starting, start slowly.  Pay attention to what steps you may have missed or where you went wrong so you can start over or try again another time.  Add ingredients little by little, cook at a lower temperature than suggested (if possible), or eliminate unnecessary ingredients so you can focus more on the interaction of the necessary ones.  Just keep it simple and pay attention to what HAS worked for you.  Success is a great incentive to keep at it!!!

     2. LIVE:  The best thing about cooking is that you can adjust your chef style to your lifestyle. 

One big misconception of cooking is that it has to be time-consuming and impossible to fit into a busy schedule.  With a little planning ahead, the tasks of shopping for and preparing fresh food can be done rather quickly and efficiently.

The best way to do this is to think about your tastes—what do you like to buy at the grocery store, what do you like to eat?  Once you have figured this out, find a couple of recipes that use these ingredients (hello, Google!)  and plan out a few meals for the week that will incorporate them.  Use recipes with few ingredients whenever possible.

A great place to start for simple, quick meals is pasta, sandwiches, tacos or even a good stir-fry.  Virtually any ingredients can be turned into a tasty version of these dishes.  They are all quick to prepare, complete meals, can easily be made with extra leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch, and are much more satisfying than yet another frozen dinner.

Once you have your footing with these basic meals, start to be a little daring and try something new.  Maybe you love that coconut curry you always get at your favorite Thai restaurant—go online and find yourself a simple DIY version to try at home.  Chances are you will be able to find the ingredients easily and it might even lead you to a new, specialty grocery store that you’ve never visited or even knew about.

Be creative about where you buy your food. The process itself is an incredibly engaging way to bring out your inner chef.  Finding food locally is much more motivating and rewarding than going to the same supermarket you can find in Anytown, USA.  Going to the farmer’s market to buy your produce and meat for the week is a pleasant activity that will excite you to get home and get busy using the wonderful things you just purchased.  If you don’t have access to a good farmers’ market year-round, try your local-food co-op, health store, or ethnic food stores for some basic ingredients.  Sometimes these stores are more expensive, but without a doubt, the quality of the ingredients you will find here is worth the extra cost.  In any case, being imaginative with where you find food can really help you lively up your chef-self.

     3. LOVE: It’s an age-old idea that the secret ingredient to good cookin’ is love.

This is absolutely true!!!  Cook when you are in a good mood, and if you’re not, then find a way to set the mood.  Put on some good music and relax.  Think of someone you love while you prepare your food, and if possible, share with them when it comes time to enjoy your finished product.  Without a doubt, the more love you put into cooking, the more love will come back to you and the more you will love to cook!  If you don’t love what you’re doing then it’s not even worth doing it—find a way to add some love to your food and the rest will take care of itself.

The bottom line is that we all have our own obstacles that keep us from cooking.  If you think you don’t have time to prepare your own food, you do.  It takes more time (not to mention more money) out of your busy day to run and grab something at the store than to plan ahead and bring something with you before you start your day.  There are endless options for quick dinners and it goes even faster if you have a little help (kids, roommates, husband . . . gasp!).  If you think you simply don’t like cooking, think again.  Think of the satisfaction that comes from eating and allow yourself to take pride in the food you make, especially if you didn’t really want to make it.  If you think you are no good at cooking, then keep learning.  Skill can come from knowledge and knowledge is empowering—with some initial effort on your part, your ability will expand and become effortless in time.  Whatever your excuse is, ask yourself this:  Why do I eat?  That reason in and of itself is a good enough reason to start making your own food, if only once in a while.  I promise you that the more joy you seek in cooking, the more joy you will get out of it!



The new chef’s guidelines to using great ingredients!