Monday, February 21, 2011

Toasty Warm Inside, Blustery Chill Outside

One way to warm the heart, soul, and body is to bake a loaf of bread.  Today was a perfect day for it!  It was 12 degrees outside and the wind was whipping away out there.   I wanted so badly to be moving around out there – so of course, I ventured out.  I did little errands; took out the recycling, checked the mailbox, got some firewood, emptied the compost – all the while, FREEZING.  When I returned to the house it was clear that a baking project needed to occur.
Here’s a fun quickbread recipe I created today.  It was inspired by a recipe for muffins so the loaf is moist and airy. 

Makes 1 loaf

1 ½ boiling water
1 cup oats, grind in processor
½ cup millet
½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

First make oatmeal mix.  Boil water, then combine with oats.  Set aside.
Rinse millet.  Toast in pan with 1 tsp oil.
Sift flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
Cream butter.  Gradually  add sugars, one at a time.  Add in vanilla and eggs.
Combine with oat mixture first, then millets, last flour mixture.
Butter loaf pan.  Fold batter into pan. 
Bake on 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.  Poke with a toothpick; when it comes out clean –its ready.
Cool 5-10 minutes before cutting.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Snow Lined Trees

Sometimes my experience in life as a human is quite similar to my perception of a leaf in the wind.  Contorted, controlled, taken, and then relaxed, refreshed, and given.  Not to say that either experience is good nor bad; unexpected and surprising is more like it. 

The wind is howling outside my window.  Vermont winter continues to share her energy with us.  I love the wind.  Something like Jason Lee said in Mallrats, "That kid should fear and respect that escalator!"  My awe is for the wind's endless amount of energy; I have great reverence and a slice of fear for it.  But nestled up in my home with a fire roaring down below, there is no fear, just respect and love.

It has been an interesting couple of months for me (as I'm sure its been for everyone else; we all have incredible stories).  I continue to battle with my health, often questioning its physical and/or seemingly, mental health symptoms.  A second MRI w/ contrast has ruled out MS again and for this I am happy.  It is certainly nice to eliminate the worse cases first.  Upon this realization though, I was still confused.   Are my symptoms real?  Could I be the actual cause of these symptoms, as some doctors cared to suggest?  Would I find relief in  my life?  Will I be able to continue working?  Geez, questions pop up exponentially.  And then a diagnosis of a sleep disorder that couples with muscle pain. ? Regardless, I live on the same.

All the while, I found great comfort in meditation, mindfulness, psychic studies, Reiki, and self care.  What a fabulous treat!   And having found my way back to these simple practices has, in turn, returned me to a happy life path.  As my best friend recently put it, "Life is like the waves of the sea.  Enjoy the chaos as you ride the wave and enjoy the calm as the wave recedes."

Here are some specific activities that can calm and nurture the mind and soul:

1. Candle Medication: choose a candle to aspire your mood to and meditate with it.
2. Bath w/ Epsom Salt
3. (for those of us in the north) Shovel snow - I loke to create paths around my yard.
I use this as a space for walking meditation. 
4. Color (I have been coloring mandalas for an added experience)  Personally though,
simply coloring in a coloring book is a calm, comforting , grounding experience.