Friday, December 31, 2010

Dear 2010

Thank you, 2010, for all of the goodness that you packed into 365 days.

Thank you, 2010, for New York City in April ... for Wicked, for The Chocolate Room, and for all that the word integration has come to mean to me this year. Thank you.

Thank you, 2010, for the summer week by the sea ... for the festival after the storm, for the tiki bar with reggae music, and for that sweet, sweet feeling of sitting in Flagler Coffee and being home away from home. Thank you.

Thank you, 2010, for our whirlwind weekend in Chicago ... for all the fun of being a tourist, basking in the city with my family, and having a smile that couldn't be wiped from my face. Thank you.

Thank you, 2010, for turning my daily routine upside down. I resisted all of the changes that going back to working from an office can bring. But once I relaxed about it, I started to discover the positive aspects of it. From the other side, I can see that it was meant as a gift all along. My jaw is unclenched and my eyes are now open. Thank you.

Thank you, 2010, for the big role that friendships have played this year. I have been blessed with many new friends who feel so much like long-time friends to me. It has been so much fun getting to know them and learning more about what we have in common. I appreciate the reminder that we are never too old to make new friends. Thank you.

Thank you, 2010, for the big blessings and the small ... lessons learned ... prayers answered ... the magic in the mundane. Thank you.

Thank you, 2010, for the love in my life, given and received ... for the roof over my head ... for the freedoms that I have the good fortune to enjoy every day. Thank you.

Thank you, 2010, for giving me the clarity to know that I'm one lucky girl, that I've got it really good and the wisdom to take not so much as one drop of it for granted. Thank you.

Happy New Year!

New Year's Eve Labyrinth Report

We gathered at the labyrinth at noon on this unseasonably warm New Year's Eve. We walked to give thanks for this year that has passed. We walked to contemplate the new year to come. Our individual paths woven together like a beautiful tapesty as happens in day-to-day life. Sometimes we travel in the same direction. Sometimes quite the opposite. But kindred travelers on the journey, nonetheless. Only one way in. Only one way out. And all in it together.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Day 16,520 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

The kind and efficient staff at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center for making my daughter's upper GI this morning easy and comfortable for her.

Reiki. Just can't give thanks for it often enough. It's always on-hand when needed.

The opportunity to have fun this afternoon printing/binding manuals and other materials for the first SARA Reiki I/Animal Reiki class that I'll be teaching, January 8-9. So excited!

The optimistic weather forecast for this Friday's outdoor labyrinth walk to say goodbye to 2010. Rumor has it that it will be at least 50 degrees!

Angels. Especially those disguised as humans. You know who you are. But then again ...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pondering Self-Sabotage

Not a pretty subject, I know, especially at such a pretty time of year. Maybe the subject of self-sabotage doesn't apply to you. It sure applies to me. Especially at this time of year. So I thought it might be worth dedicating a post to it. Awareness is everything.

I sabotage myself when I make myself a slave to shoulds.
I sabotage myself when I let procrastination keep me from keeping my word.
I sabotage myself when I tell myself that 'just one more' (anything) won't hurt.
I sabotage myself when I avoid exercise.
I sabotage myself when I make things more complicated than necessary.
I sabotage myself when I setup unrealistic expections.
I sabotage myself when I make assumptions.
I sabotage myself when the only thing green on my plate is sprinkles.
I sabotage myself when I don't drink enough water.
I sabotage myself when checking my phone becomes obsessive (and rude).
I sabotage myself when I don't make time for creativity, pleasure and fun.
I sabotage myself when I make excuses instead of speaking my truth.

There's my dirty dozen. Care to share?
_______________________________________

Following up with a bit of synchronicity today regarding the self-sabotage theme du jour. Here is my horoscope that arrived this afternoon from Rob Brezny:

LIBRA (September 23-October 22):
In 2011, I believe you will have the chance to weave your fortunes together with an abundance of allies who are good for you. They will be your equals, they will share at least some of your important values, and they will respect you for who you are. That's excellent news, right? My only worry is that you might shy away from the demands that such invigorating collaborations will make on you. It would be less work, after all, to fall back into reliance on more prosaic relationships that don't ask so much of you. Please don't take the easy way out, Libra. Rise to the occasion!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Day 16,518 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

The long exhale that is the week between Christmas Day and New Year's. Don't get me wrong. The family gatherings are wonderful. I know better than to take one second of it for granted. But I welcome this time of in-between with few places to go and little to do.

Packages with the last pairs of earrings from the giveaway being prepped for their new homes. I can't thank all of you enough for playing along. This was so much fun and I hope to make this giveaway an annual event. In the meantime, supplies have arrived in the mail so that new pairs can be made. I look forward to posting them in my shop in the days and weeks ahead.

The reset button that is yoga. I love that I can get on the floor, do some random stretches and postures for just a few minutes, and feel better for having done so.

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 12 of 12

Sterling silver leverback clasp earrings with clear star rondelle beads and sterling silver beads wrapped with sterling silver wire.

Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 tonight and these could be yours ... an $18 value, free, as a Magic Beans gift from me. (If you post anonymously, please include your first name or nickname with your comment.)

For the sake of having something to comment, what is your favorite thing to do to welcome the New Year?

The winner will be drawn tomorrow morning and identified as a note at the bottom of this post, so please check back.

Good luck!

::UPDATE::
Congratulations, KATIELEIGH! You were the only commenter on this post, so this very last pair of earrings is yours. Thanks so much for playing along! Earrings will soon be added to my Etsy shop ... some of the same beads that you saw in the giveaway and new ones too. Please check back if you're interested.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 16,513 Gratitude

I grew up in a family of five ... my parents, sister, brother and me. I am the oldest child with all of the stereotypical first-born traits to prove it. December means that the five of us get to be together, plus our spouses and children too. For some crazy reason that we can't go back far enough to put our finger upon, we bowl. We go bowling. Not because it is something that we necessarily enjoy or feel inclined to do at any other time of year, but because it is tradition. We will go to worship at the chili parlor beforehand. Goodness knows that if you are from Cincinnati but had to move, the chili is something that you never ever stop missing.

So today's gratitude is about being with family, having fun, and passing down holiday traditions, however unconventional they may seem. It's also about the day-to-day things in our own hometown that we take for granted when it continues to be our home.

What are you grateful for today?

Day 11 of 12

Sterling silver leverback clasp earrings with Chinese Writing Stone beads and wrapped with sterling silver wire.

Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 tonight and these could be yours ... an $18 value, free, as a Magic Beans gift from me. (If you post anonymously, please include your first name or nickname with your comment.)

For the sake of having something to comment, what is the one trick/technique that you can always count on to relieve stress?

The winner will be drawn tomorrow morning and identified as a note at the bottom of this post, so please check back.

Good luck!

::UPDATE::
Congratulations, VISIONWISE! Let's connect so that I can get these earrings on their way to you! One last chance to win ... please comment if you haven't already.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 16,512 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

Phoebe buried under couch cushions. This is how she sleeps, usually on her back with legs in the air. Makes me laugh out loud every single time.

The Winter Solstice. Not that I'm all that crazy about winter's official arrival, but it does mean that the days will now get a little longer, a little brighter, a little bit more each day.

Gathering with my side of the family tonight. We all live here in town except for my brother and his family, who are visiting from Alabama. All of us together at the same place and time is well worth celebrating.

Cuticle oil. So silly, considering that there are much more important things for which I should be grateful. But have you ever had a hangnail? Then I know that you know what I mean.

And, last but not least, my new purple purse. Rumor has it that happy surprises are in store when one carries a purple purse. I started it.

Come on, tell me what you're grateful for today ...

Day 10 of 12

Sterling silver leverback clasp earrings with green translucent white-heart beads and sterling silver beads wrapped with sterling silver wire.

Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 tonight and these could be yours ... an $18 value, free, as a Magic Beans gift from me. (If you post anonymously, please include your first name or nickname with your comment.)

For the sake of having something to comment, what new skill would you like to learn in 2011?

The winner will be drawn tomorrow morning and identified as a note at the bottom of this post, so please check back.

Good luck!

::UPDATE::
DARIO wins! Please send me your snail mail address as soon as possible. Two more days, friends, and two more pairs of earrings to win. Go comment if you haven't already! And thanks again for playing along ...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 9 of 12

Sterling silver leverback clasp earrings with tortoise glass beads wrapped with sterling silver wire.

Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 tonight and these could be yours ... an $18 value, free, as a Magic Beans gift from me. (If you post anonymously, please include your first name or nickname with your comment.)

For the sake of having something to comment, what is your power word for 2011?

The winner will be drawn tomorrow morning and identified as a note at the bottom of this post, so please check back.

Good luck!

::UPDATE::
Congratulations, CAROL! You are today's lucky winner. Looking forward to getting these on their way to you. I hope that everyone else will hang in there ... three more chances to win!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Souper Sunday: Potato Soup


This week's soup recipe is courtesy of Tim. I've been blogging off and on for about 10 years. Tim's been stopping by since my previous (and now defunct) blog, Jul of the Day. In 2005, for my 40th birthday, I initiated the 40-4-40 Project wherein I requested that blog friends send me a children's book with a goal of reaching 40 books to donate to a local battered women's (and children's) shelter. Tim not only sent one book but the whole Harry Potter series! And in hard-back, if I'm not mistaken. Is that awesome or what?

Here's the back story on the soup, in Tim's own words ...

"We had about 2 dozen family and friends together tonight for soup night [and really, isn't that just about the perfect size group?] ranging in age from less than a year to over 80 [and really, isn't that just about the perfect range?]. This time we had potato soup, taco soup, hot & sour soup, beef & barley soup, and chicken & dumplings. [One advantage of this size gathering is the variety of soups. I don't think we ever have fewer than three kinds. And really, isn't this just about the perfect variety?] Oh, and we had french bread, corn bread, and fried rice on the side plus three different desserts. [And really, well... you get the idea by now I'm sure.]

Since the potato soup is the one that I helped prepare this time, that's the recipe I'm giving you. But wait, there's more. I've attached a photo too of a bowl of this delicious soup with the [optional] garnishes of shredded cheese, bacon bits and chives."


Hearty Potato Soup

6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, diced
6 celery stalks, diced
2 quarts water
1 onion, chopped
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1-1/2 cups milk

In a large kettle, cook potatoes, carrots and celery in water until tender (about 20 minutes). Drain, reserving liquid and setting vegetables aside. In the same kettle, saute onion in butter until soft. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Gently stir in cooked vegetables. Add 1 cup or more of reserved cooking liquid until soup is desired consistency. Serves 6-8.

Garnish with shredded cheddar and/or bacon bits if desired.

Thanks Tim!
_______________________________

Hey, let's keep Souper Sundays going through winter. My goal is to have recipes through February, at least. So if you have a personal recipe to share, please send it to me via e-mail. A picture would be great, but not necessary. Even if you just want to share a link to a favorite soup recipe online, that will work too. I'm trying to make this as easy as possible for everyone to participate.

Day 8 of 12

Sterling silver leverback clasp earrings with Rhyolite leaf beads and sterling silver beads wrapped with sterling silver wire.

Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 tonight and these could be yours ... an $18 value, free, as a Magic Beans gift from me. (If you post anonymously, please include your first name or nickname with your comment.)

For the sake of having something to comment, where would you love to visit/vacation that you've never been before?

The winner will be drawn tomorrow morning and identified as a note at the bottom of this post, so please check back.

Good luck!

::UPDATE::
Congratulations, FRANCES! You were the only commenter to submit prior to the 11:59 p.m. deadline, so these leafy pretties are on their way to you. There are still four beautiful pairs of earrings in the queue, so best of luck to the rest of you!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 7 of 12

Sterling silver leverback clasp earrings with Moss Agate beads and sterling silver beads wrapped with sterling silver wire.

Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 tonight and these could be yours ... an $18 value, free, as a Magic Beans gift from me. (If you post anonymously, please include your first name or nickname with your comment.)

For the sake of having something to comment, what is your favorite place to visit/vacation?

The winner will be drawn tomorrow morning and identified as a note at the bottom of this post, so please check back.

Good luck!

::UPDATE::
Congratulations, LORENA M! Please send me your snail mail address so that I can get these beauties on their way to you. Everyone else has five more chances to win, so don't forget to stop by and comment in the days ahead.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 16,508 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

Reiki prayer shawls making their way to those who commissioned their creation to give as gifts in days to come.

The shuffle function on my iPod and my on-going fascination with the way that it never fails to play a song or spoken words which have a message, clue, or answer for me.

Placing an order to restock my Magic Beans supplies. I love what that means in a literal and figurative sense. Replenishment is a strong theme for me lately, especially in terms of my creativity.

The peace of mind in knowing that we have a compassionate and knowledgable team taking shape to help support a loved one back to good health.

Friends. Always grateful for my long-time friends, but marveling at how this year has blessed me with new friends who feel so very much like long-time friends.

Day 6 of 12

Sterling silver leverback clasp earrings with opaque yellow white-heart beads and sterling silver beads wrapped with sterling silver wire.

Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 tonight and these could be yours ... an $18 value, free, as a Magic Beans gift from me. (If you post anonymously, please include your first name or nickname with your comment.)

For the sake of having something to comment, what are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your lifetime?

The winner will be drawn tomorrow morning and identified as a note at the bottom of this post, so please check back.

Good luck!

::UPDATE::
The lucky winner of these sunny earrings is BETH! Congratulations! Connect with me via e-mail and I'll send these on their way to you. Everyone else can keep those comments comin' ... six more chances to win! As always, I really appreciate you playing along and sharing with me.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 5 of 12

Sterling silver leverback clasp earrings with Botswana Agate oval beads and quartz crystal beads wrapped with sterling silver wire.

Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 tonight and these could be yours ... an $18 value, free, as a Magic Beans gift from me. (If you post anonymously, please include your first name or nickname with your comment.)

For the sake of having something to comment, what are you most proud of accomplishing in 2010?

The winner will be drawn tomorrow morning and identified as a note at the bottom of this post, so please check back.

Good luck!

::UPDATE::
Congratulations, TIM! These beauties will soon be on their way to you ... please send me your snail mail via e-mail. I hope that whomever you gift these earrings to really enjoys them. (Not that you aren't more than welcome to wear them yourself ... they're magic!) Although I'm hard-pressed to choose, these may be my favorite pair of the dozen. But that certainly doesn't mean that there aren't more great earrings to come, so please don't give up everyone ... seven more chances to win! Keep those comments coming and thanks again for playing along!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 16,506 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

The understanding that gratitude need not necessarily be a bright, shiny, fluffy sentiment to count.

Compassion for myself when my "thank you" ends in "dammit."

Never giving up my trust that there is a bright side and that things always unfold as they should.

Sustaining my sense of humor, however inappropriate that it may be at times.

For those in the trenches providing mental, emotional and spiritual support to those who need it, especially at this time of year.

Day 4 of 12


Sterling silver leverback clasp earrings with Malachite cube beads and sterling silver beads wrapped with sterling silver wire.

Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 tonight and these could be yours ... an $18 value, free, as a Magic Beans gift from me. (If you post anonymously, please include your first name or nickname with your comment.)

For the sake of having something to comment, what is your favorite movie of all-time?

The winner will be drawn tomorrow morning and identified as a note at the bottom of this post, so please check back.

Good luck!

::UPDATE::
Congratulations, RW! You've won this pair! Please contact me via e-mail as soon as possible with your snail mail address and I'll get them on their way to you. Again, can't thank you all enough for playing along ... remember, there are still eight more chances to win.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Persistence of Squirrels

I watched this little guy (or girl) scamper the limbs of our sycamore, intently making its way to the suet feeder. It proceeded to hang by its feet in order to feast upon the greasy goodness. Eventually, it stopped to look around, scampered down to the yard, dug up a nut it had buried there at some point, and fled beyond the fence and my sight.

I know that squirrels can be pests ... especially when it comes to feeders intended for the birds. But there's something about their persistence that resonates with me. They are flexible in a literal and figurative sense. They just don't quit. Obstacles do not deter them. There are layers of lessons there for me.

This is a great description of squirrel's medicine. Perseverance, preparedness and playfulness are other attributes that it tries to teach us through its antics. I don't know about you, but I can certainly use more of these qualities in my day-to-day life.

Day 3 of 12

Sterling silver leverback clasp earrings with Chrysanthemum stone beads and sterling silver beads wrapped with sterling silver wire.

Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 tonight and these could be yours ... an $18 value, free, as a Magic Beans gift from me. (If you post anonymously, please include your first name or nickname with your comment.)

For the sake of having something to comment, what is the best movie that you saw in 2010?

The winner will be drawn tomorrow morning and identified as a note at the bottom of this post, so please check back.

Good luck!

::UPDATE::
Congratulations PIXIE ... these beauties will soon be on their way to you! I'll be in touch. Thanks again, everyone, for playing along! I am having so much fun reading your comments and getting some great recommendations as well. You have 9 more chances to win, so please don't forget to check out Day 4 of 12 and the posts to follow. As always, best of luck!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 2 of 12

Sterling silver leverback clasp earrings with translucent red white-heart beads and sterling silver beads wrapped with sterling silver wire.

Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 tonight and these could be yours ... an $18 value, free, as a Magic Beans gift from me. (If you post anonymously, please include your first name or nickname with your comment.)

For the sake of having something to comment, what is your all-time favorite book?

The winner will be drawn tomorrow morning and identified as a note at the bottom of this post, so please check back.

Good luck!

::UPDATE::
Congratulations MAGGIE! You are the winner of these earrings. I will be in touch about getting these to you. Everyone else has 10 more chances to win, so go comment on the next pair, if you haven't already. Thanks again for joining in the fun! As always, best of luck!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 16,503 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

Snow. Never thought I'd say it, but there it is. There's something about it at this time of year, backlit by colored lights, that makes it all okay. The first round of snow fell this morning, changing over from rain through the night. It's a sloppy snow, bathing branches in white and has already melted considerably. Not the stuff of snowmen. More arrived late afternoon into the evening. I smell a snow day tomorrow or at least a delay.

Fudge. I make it at Christmas and must say that it's pretty darn awesome. Not that there's anything particularly complicated about fudge making. I suppose that I use the same basic recipe as everyone else. The craft is more in the cutting than anything else. But I have so little up my cooking sleeve that I can't help but be proud.

Art for art's sake. The playfulness of it. There wasn't a lot of that for me in 2010, but I'm grateful today to realized that fact. Sadly, I can't remember the last time that I made something just for the fun of it. I don't let myself experiment, frolick if you will, with new techniques and mediums. I think I'd like to do something about that in 2011.

Target for having my beloved TAZO Zen green tea in stock. Sounds like a small and silly thing, I know, but this tea must be a favorite in this area because it's difficult to find it in stock at the local grocery store. I haven't found another green tea that I like anywhere near as much.

Last, but certainly not least, the fact that you all are playing along with the earring giveaway. It warms my heart. Best of luck!

Souper Sunday: Renda's Cream of Jalapeno Soup

Katie has come through again with another soup recipe to share ... she says that this one has a little Southwestern flavor for ya! She admits that she has no idea who Renda is. Her mom got the recipe from her friend, Connie. (I LOVE when recipes get passed down and around this way! Take THAT Food Network!!)

Renda's Cream of Jalapeno Soup

1 small onion or some minced onion
3 jalapeno peppers
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
24-32 ounces chicken broth*
1 8-oz package cream cheese
1 1/2 cups half & half**

*Katie usually uses one 32-ounce carton, but sometimes adds less broth if she want it thicker.
**Katie often use 2% milk

Saute the jalapenos and onion in butter until soft. Add flour and blend well. Add broth (to desired thickness) and bring to a boil. Add cream cheese, whisking until smooth. Add half & half (don't boil after this point).

Serve with tortilla chips or bread, if you like. (Katie's friend, Amber, has made this and added rice to thicken it - which would be good!)

Katie hopes that we enjoy and assures that its a truly delicious blend of creamy and spicy. She didn't have a photo of the soup, but sent along this photo of a favorite holiday decoration. "This little tree came to me through a Secret Santa exchange in seventh grade, and has graced my house with its cheery lights every year since!"

Thanks Katie!

::URGENT::
I am out of soup submissions and only have a couple more soup recipes of my own to share. One of them I call Soup of Shame and, honestly, I don't think I have the courage to post it because I'm sure that you'll think less of me because of it. So you can help me out A LOT by sending me a favorite soup recipe of your own or at least a link to one that you've tried and enjoy. Pretty please!

Day 1 of 12

Sterling silver leverback clasp earrings with painted wood ovals and sterling silver beads wrapped with sterling silver wire.

Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 tonight and these could be yours ... an $18 value, free, as a Magic Beans gift from me. (If you post anonymously, please include your first name or nickname with your comment.)

For the sake of having something to comment, what is the best book that you read in 2010?

The winner will be drawn tomorrow morning and identified as a note at the bottom of this post, so please check back.

Good luck!

::UPDATE::
The winner of these earrings is SANDI! (Even though she still owes us what her favorite book was for this year.) Please send me your snail mail address via e-mail and I'll get these on their way to you. Although Sandi is excluded from future drawings, the rest of you have another 11 chances to win!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mercury Retrograde Thrive Guide

Three times each year, Mercury spends about three weeks dancing backward through the sky. Today begins another dance which lasts through December 29. I am not an astrologer. There are many with whom you can consult for more specific information. But here is how I plan to thrive over the next three weeks:

1) Keep my sense of humor.

2) Back up my computer and know who I'll call if things get wonky.

3) Hold the signing of contracts, launches, and major purchases until after the first of the year.

4) Proofread, proofread, proofread.

5) Confirm all appointments a day in advance or on that day.

6) Listen more. Speak less.

7) Clear up any perceived misunderstandings, stat.

8) Sh*t happens. So do mechanical problems. I'll take a deep breath. And see #1.

9) Prepare incredibly clear instructions for others and make certain that they understand them.

10) Be gentle with myself and others when mistakes are made, delays occur and things get forgotten.

11) Be ready (if not delighted) to run into people from my past.

12) Make a priority of anything involving "re" ... this is a great time to review and revise plans and projects.

Remember, it's just three weeks. They will frustrate us to the degree that we let them. Hopefully, we will be so busy celebrating the season that we won't even notice. Before we know it, the New Year will be here and we all, with Mercury, can move forward again.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 16,498 Gratitude

Today I am so grateful for ...

Christmas ornaments that remind me of happy travels.
(Beluga Whale = Chicago)

Homemade chicken soup - Day 2.
(Always better the second day.)

Oxi-clean.
(You should see how sooty I get when I start a fire.)

Our living room skylights.
(Because I need access to all of the sunlight I can get.)

Filling our bird feeders.
(Because hungry woodpeckers will cuss you out if you're slacking.)

The 12 Days of Christmas, Magic Beans-Style

I get THE BEST ideas when I journal in the morning. Okay, not everyday, but once in awhile, amid my mundane and repetitive musings, I'll strike gold. Or in this case, silver.

Stay with me.

So I'm writing this morning about how I would like for Jakk's Magic Beans Workshop to wrap up 2010 on a high note. I'm mulling over what that might look like, when it came to me, "Twelve Days of Christmas."

Huh?

So I keep writing to see where this is going. And, you know what? It took me to one of the most joyful places of all. Giveaways! Not just one, but twelve.

Ta-dah!

So starting on December 12 ... 12/12 ... I will begin the Jakk's Magic Beans Workshop 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways. Everyday from 12/12 through 12/23, I will post one pair of Magic Beans earrings, made with love by moi here at the Workshop. Enter to win that pair by leaving a comment that day and I will draw the winner the next morning from those who commented. The winner will be announced on that post and contacted for their snail mail address. Once received, I will take their precious package directly to the post office (where the staff will surely grow weary of seeing me).

Seriously.

You've got twelve chances to win a pair of dangly gemstone and/or beaded clasped earrings set in all sterling silver. The only disclaimer is that you can only win one pair. Once you've won, you're done ... but you should certainly enter every single day until you do. I realize that it may be a stretch to assume that I have at least 12 visitors here, but I have faith and hope that you will be so kind as to spread the word. Trust me, wearing these earrings makes the sky look bluer, food tastes better, and your teeth get whiter. Okay, fine, I'm not at liberty to make such claims. What I can assure you is that they make great gifts, for yourself or someone you love.

Are you in?

If so, the fun starts next Souper Sunday, 12/12. There will be a picture of the earrings for that day and, again, all that you'll need to do to enter that day's giveaway is to leave me a comment in response to an absolutely random question. Unfortunately, e-mail entries cannot be accepted, but you can certainly comment anonymously if you can't log-in otherwise. I will draw the winner for that day on Monday, 12/13, and post the next pair of earrings for you to enter to win. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Thanks in advance for playing along!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 16,497 Gratitude

Things for which I am so grateful today:

The therapeutic benefits of homemade chicken soup.
How a one-hour reflexology appointment can put me back together again.
Fulfilling another Reiki prayer shawl order.
Telecommuting on Mondays.
Photo orbs.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 16,496 Gratitude

So grateful for ...
Fat, cuddling cats.
Finally putting up our Christmas tree.
Three-quarters of the day spent in pajamas.
Dan's cheesy, chicken enchiladas.
Tums.

Souper Sunday: Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

This is one of my personal favorites ... adapted from a recipe that I found many years ago via Epicurious. Another soup well-suited to sipping from a mug! So creamy and delicious.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed (about 4 cups)
1-2 32-ounce box(es) of vegetable broth
1 apple, peeled, cored, diced*
1/2 cup apple juice or the fresh juice of 1 apple**
Optional: Sour cream and chopped chives for garnish

Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat. Saute onions and nutmeg for about 5 minutes or until onion begins to brown. Add squash, broth, apple and juice. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or until squash and apple are tender. Carefully puree until soup is smooth. Add water or more broth (if on hand) to reach the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with sour cream and chives if desired. Makes 6-8 servings.

*Fuji, Gala or Red Delicious apples work well in this soup.
** I juice one fresh Granny Smith apple in my Breville. Love the tanginess!

:: URGENT :: URGENT :: URGENT ::

More soup recipe(s) needed as soon as possible! I have no other submissions in the queue and I'm already running low on personal soup recipes to share ... weeks before winter's official arrival. I'm counting on you to help me keep Souper Sundays posts going until March.

Please send your recipe(s) to me via e-mail (jakk@magicbeansworkshop.com) along with:

1) A photo of the soup, you, you + the soup, or anything that captures the mood of the season; and
2) A link to the blog or website to which you would like to be linked.

Happy cooking!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day 16,495 Gratitude

So grateful for the first measurable snowfall today, which is funny because measurable snowfall plus grateful wouldn't normally appear in the same sentence for me. But there was a special kind of magic to what fell today. It was moist and heavy. The roads stayed wet and passable while the grass, trees and structures were blanketed. I like to call it mashed potato snow. The perfect kind of snow to put one in the holiday spirit. (But not so great for those with snowmen on their mind. All in due time.)

So grateful for a stolen date night this evening while the daughter was at work. Soon enough, she will fly from our nest and it will be just the two of us again. But, in the meantime, we have so much fun stealing time away together when we can find it.

And, speaking of the daughter, so grateful that her first day of in-car driver's ed went well. The weather was making her anxious, but thankfully it wasn't so bad that it had to be cancelled.

So grateful to confirm that I will be teaching my first Reiki I class in January. When I became a Reiki I practitioner in October 2000, I never dreamed that I would one day be teaching. It was the furthest thing from my mind. Just goes to show that you just never know.

So grateful to announce that Mandala Mondays will definitely return in January. I've missed coloring and I hope that you have too. More information to follow in the weeks to come.

In the In-Between

December, for me, is the in-between. By the time that this month arrives, I have either accomplished what I set out to complete or made peace (as best I can) with what I didn't. All that is left is the cleaning up, clearing out, and kissing goodbye of what needs it. Although the urge to start something new may be strong, especially with the New Moon arriving tomorrow morning, Mercury will go retrograde on December 10 and stay that way until December 30. I read it said that it's progress report time. How well did (or didn't) you weather this tumultuous year?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Day 16,494 Gratitude

So grateful for this Colonial Candle that fills my home with its berry-liciousness. Every year I find myself on a quest for a pine candle that actually smells like pine. I always give up and go with this mulberry candle instead. Not exactly a traditional holiday scent, of course, but my family and I have enjoyed it for so many years that the connection is there for us.

So grateful for lunch today with dear friend, Beth, at Green Dog Cafe. (Also grateful for her newest shots from Spring Grove that are creatively inspiring the daylights out of me.)

So grateful for the familiar comfort of needle(s) and yarn. My pacifier.

So grateful to be registered for Julie Lusk's yoga sleepover in January. She holds these amazing weekend retreats twice per year ... winter and summer. I know that I've attended at least a dozen of them over the years. The winter gathering is my favorite. A great way to welcome the fresh, new year. Also, a great opportunity to clobber my cabin fever.

So grateful for two cosmic nudges today to relaunch Mandala Mondays in 2011. Watching and waiting for the third to seal the deal.

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day 16,493 Gratitude

(Fred from the archives: 12/02/08)

So grateful for rescued greyhounds curled up in their blanket nests.

So grateful for some phone time with my mama and glad to hear her laugh.

So grateful for the Oreo's stashed in the cupboard when I was desperate for something sweet with my tea.

So grateful for the roaring fire that my husband is building for me now to warm my heart and bones.

So grateful to bear witness to my daughter's compassion and to support her as it shapes the woman she's becoming.

What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day 16,492 Gratitude

I am grateful 'tis the season to make these num-nums. The recipe is as easy easier than pie. All you need are round pretzels ... if you're lucky enough to live in Cincinnati, Husman's makes them. Chocolate kisses. M&M candies. Set oven to 200 degrees. If you don't have a silpat liner, give the tray a swish of nonstick spray for good measure. Put a chocolate kiss in the center of each pretzel and bake for just two minutes. Hot out of the oven, push one M&M into the top of the each kiss to help it spread out. Allow them to cool for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. And then, my friends, prepare yourself to eat the whole batch in one sitting. You've been forewarned.

I am grateful for our first snowfall. We had flurries for most of the day and this evening I noticed a dusting had begun to accumulate on the grass and roof tops. I'm not a fan of snow or winter, in general, but there was something about the snowglobe-ishness of it all that appealed to me today. (But snow in March? Not so much.)

I am grateful that reservations have been made for Taos. Flights are booked and lodgings secured for early arrival, so that I can get my altitude-legs before the workshop begins. Pinching myself because I get to spend one night in the swoon-worthy Solarium. They may have to force me to leave.

I am grateful that my first day in my new office is under my belt. I'm having to craft a whole new routine. I think that the rewiring will do me good. Despite some initial ambivalence, going there today felt, well, it felt just right. At least for right now. I know that at some point, maybe sooner than later, this arrangement, too, will change.

I am grateful for this song. No video. Just the music. But it's more than enough. It's amazing!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 16,489 Gratitude

I am grateful for an afternoon spent with Mabel and Tony. I don't want this book to end!

I am grateful for our fireplace next to which I can cozy up and warm my bones.

I am grateful for the Reiki shawl finished this evening for a dear one's dear one.

I am grateful for spaghetti for dinner. My drug of choice.

I am grateful for my husband's cheerful willingness to navigate his way around our roof to hang the Christmas lights. I know this project isn't anywhere near as easy as he makes it look.

Souper Sunday: Roasty Toasty Winter Soup

This week's recipe is from my friend, Jenna McGuiggan, The Word Cellar. Jenna is wrapping up her course, Alchemy: The Art and Craft of Writing, but you can sign up for her mailing list to be notified when the spring session is scheduled. Thanks, Jenna ... this recipe looks delicious and couldn't be more perfect as the days get colder! xo

Roasty, Toasty Winter Veggie Soup*

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ¾” pieces
1 medium yam or sweet potato peeled and cut into ¾” pieces
1 large onion, cut into medium chunks
6 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
Olive oil
4 cups of finely chopped kale
6 cups or more of good lower sodium chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock)**
3 large sprigs of fresh thyme (or a ½ teaspoon of dried thyme)
1 bay leaf
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans (or white beans of choice), drained and rinsed
7 oz of cubed fire roasted tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place carrots and yams on a rimmed baking sheet. Place onion and unpeeled garlic cloves on second rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper on all vegetables. Toss to coat, being sure to coat the baking sheets with a thin layer of oil. Roast vegetables until they are brown and tender, stirring occasionally, about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, clean and chop kale.

When the roasted veggies are done, set aside carrots and yam. Carefully peel the garlic cloves and place in food processor. Add tomatoes and onion and puree until almost smooth.

If there are any browned bits on the baking sheets, pour a ¼ cup broth onto each and scrape up the tasty goodness. Transfer broth and vegetable puree to large pot. Add 5½ cups broth, kale, thyme and bay leaf to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to a strong simmer. Simmer uncovered until kale is tender, about 15 minutes.

Add carrots, beans, and squash to soup. Simmer 8 minutes to blend flavors, adding more broth to thin soup if necessary. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf.

Serve with grated parmesan cheese and crusty bread.

Serves six.

* Based on the Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup from SimplyRecipes.
**Jenna likes Kitchen Basics brand
___________________________________
Please don't forget to root around the archives for past Souper Sunday posts. There's quite a collection growing!

And if you have a soup recipe to share for a future Souper Sunday post:

Please send it via e-mail to jakk@magicbeansworkshop.com along with 1) a photo of the soup, you, you + the soup, or anything that captures the mood of the season and 2) a link to the blog or website to which you would like to be linked.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 16,488 Gratitude

I am grateful for hot pink buds, growing fat and full, on the Christmas cactus that I rescued last January from the ol' hardware store. Two sickly plants with no evidence of flowers, I repotted them together and crossed my fingers all year as it kept me company in my office. I love to see it (and anything, for that matter) flourishing!

I am grateful for this upcoming afternoon of warm conversation and hot tea with long-time friends, Julie and Debbie.

I am grateful for another dear friend, Lisa, bringing comfort through craft at this upcoming Bereavement Quilt Workshop here in Cincinnati, December 10-11. Art heals!

I am grateful that souper-friend, Katie, has made the leap onto Etsy with her new shop, Tea Leaf Knits. (Have you made the pledge to buy handmade?)

And, last but not least, a grateful tip of the hat to you, Nice 'N Easy 106A. You keep me from keepin' it too real.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 16,487 Gratitude

This crispy, bright, blue-sky day after yesterday's biblical rains.

Shameless enjoyment of pumpkin pie for breakfast. And lunch.

Another running lesson with my patient husband (and the fact that my lungs did not collapse in the process).

The enchanting way that the golden sunlight of late afternoon cast itself upon and throughout our dining room.

A long, lazy evening ahead curled up beside the fireplace.

Pondering Winter Well-Being

I make the transition from autumn to winter begrudgingly. There is no graceful, much less grateful, surrender to the darkness. November tends to be a particularly heavy month for me, physically and emotionally. Things lighten up a bit from December through most of January, thanks to the holidays and the momentum of a fresh, new year. But the heaviness tends to return for an encore in February, when enough is enough is enough.

The stork must've dropped me in the wrong location. I'm not wired for midwestern winters. The wind, cold, and cloud-laden skies are hard to tolerate. I start wearing long johns in October. I start using my light box in September. These will be my constants through March.

But there are other things that help me so much through these next four months ... some of them, all year long:

1) Daily 20-30 minute walk(s) outdoors

This is probably the most important thing that I can do to keep my train on the tracks and yet I find it to be the most challenging thing to check off of my "I will" list each day. Two walks per day would be even better and three would be ideal, but most days I am lucky to take just one. For my own well-being, I have to make it non-negotiable. There are benefits to foregoing the gym and walking outdoors when possible. Being out in the elements helps me to release my resistance to them. It can be an incredible mood-lifter, too. But it's nice to know that the gym is there when things get slippery outside.

2) Green smoothies

I try to make one 48-ounce batch of green smoothies per day. I start with two cups of water, add a tablespoon each of bee pollen, seeds (flax, chia or hemp), and coconut oil, add a teaspoon of spirulina, one apple (or pear) chopped, one kiwi peeled and chopped, one fresh banana, one frozen banana, frozen berries, and greens (kale, collards or spinach) squeezed in until the carafe is full. (A couple of years ago, I splurged on a Blendtec ... well worth the investment! It will puree your arm if you let it.) One batch fills four 12-ounce mason jars, which I store in the refrigerator. I consume these magical jars of green goodness every couple of hours through the course of the day and eat/drink anything else that I desire, so that I don't feel deprived. They kick the ever-lovin' butt out of my sugar cravings, which would otherwise be merciless at this time of year. I won't say that it is easy to drink something so cold when I'm feeling so cold, but I am rewarded by feeling nourished and alert.

3) Smart Water + Amazing Greens

Yes, more greens! I started using this powder daily when we were on vacation this summer and I'm hooked. I add a scoop to a 48-ounce bottle of Smart Water (I know, I know, I know) and consume it throughout the day. It helps to keep me hydrated and is a nice backup if I don't hit the mark on my green smoothie consumption.

4) Steaming Mugs of Something

Although I never would have dreamed that it could be possible, I have become a tea drinker. Herbal tea, green tea, and even Yerba Mate, which may or may not be a tea, but I love it. Although I tell everyone that I gave it up a couple of years ago, you can still coax me into a good cup of decaf coffee once in awhile. At this time of year, it's something hot and comforting in a mug that helps me to believe that I might not freeze to death after all. A spicy cider is a real treat. Miso soup is also high on my good medicine list. The options are limitless ... my only requirements are liquid + hot.

5) Light Box

Okay, so I'll bet that you've heard of these things and may have wondered if they really work. I have used one since 2006 and it has absolutely made a positive difference for me. I use it for about 30 minutes each morning ... sometimes longer, if inclined. In the darkest months and through long, gloomy stretches, I will use it a second time each day in the late afternoon or early evening. The light box comes with instructions to guide you through establishing a routine to provide the best support. You have to ease into using a light box, so please don't disregard this information. I have found that light box times have become my favorite of the day, because I tend to take the opportunity to journal or read. It's a nice start and break to the day.

What helps to keep you well-balanced or feeling vibrant at this time of year?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

My side of the family will be coming over for dinner shortly. We keep it low-key, which means that I take full-advantage of prefab assistance. Things turn out better that way. I can do a lot of things, but Thanksgiving dinner from scratch is not among them. I used to feel ashamed and be apologetic about it. I'm over it now. I'm over feeling that way about a lot of things.

I try to make gratitude and appreciation a daily practice, so having this one day dedicated to thankfulness feels a lot like being told that there's just one day of the year that I get to brush my teeth and this is it. So I'm focusing on finding gratitude for the small and unusual things that I might otherwise overlook on a day-to-day basis.

So along with the big things that I will be celebrating along with everyone else, like loved ones, good health, and freedom, I'm giving thanks for you, tweezers. You spare me of tremendous ridicule. And I'm giving thanks for you, colander, because draining pasta without you would be impossible. And, last but not least, I'm giving thanks for you, Back arrow, because I can't imagine navigating my way around the world wide web without you.

I wish you abundant blessings on this great day of thanks. I'm so grateful that you've stopped by. May your gravy be lumpless. May your crust be flaky. And may there be plenty left over of whatever you love the most.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Humbled

This photo always makes me smile. That's Reiki Sponge Syd and me, back in July 2007. I remember when he arrived at the League for Animal Welfare ... such a sweet, old gentleman. He would stand at the door to his room waiting for me. Had Camp Keefe not been at maximum cat-pacity with Garrett and Tansy, I would have taken him home myself. (Homeless senior pets are the most difficult for me to resist ... especially when their elderly owners pass away.) The good news is that his stay at the shelter was relatively short before he found his forever home. I like to believe that his eagerness for Reiki helped to expedite the process. It never seemed to fail that the cats who would jump in my lap for a lengthy hands-on Reiki treatment were usually adopted a week or two later.

If you dig through my blog archives around the summer of 2007, I had regular Reiki Tails posts with slide shows of the residents. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to volunteer at LFAW as frequently as I'd prefer, but I get out there for visits and Reiki whenever I can. I hope to return to weekly visits in 2011, because volunteering there lifts my spirits as much as it helps the kitties in residence.

What's really exciting right now is that, as a member of the Shelter Animal Reiki Association, I now have the opportunity to teach Reiki not only to volunteers and staff, but also vets and techs providing critical care in situations where Reiki can help the most. This is incredibly humbling. Even more so now that I've just been notified that there is a D.V.M. in this area with whom I will soon be connected. I'm excited. I'm honored. I'm nervous. I can embrace myself as a lot of things, but teacher feels like a huge leap ... and yet I know that I know what I need to know.

I've been a Reiki practitioner for ten years and the journey since I took Reiki I in October 2000 has been transformational. I hardly recognize the me I used to be before embarking on this path. Pared down to its most basic description, Reiki is a holistic technique that can relieve stress and promote relaxation for the recipient ... but it's also so much more. One really can't begin to grasp the scope of what it is and what it offers until one becomes a practitioner. Even then, there's always more to learn and room to grow. The first realization after training is what a blessing it is to be able to offer Reiki to yourself or another, especially when at a loss for what else to do. It increases compassion exponentially ... and might even break you wide open in the best possible way.

I have been certified to teach since April 2009, but have delayed the launch of classes for a number of reasons, large and small. The New Year beckons and has given fair warning that it's time for me to get off the fence and move forward with teaching those referred to me or otherwise find me. I do need to iron out the details with regard to the whens and wheres, but I look forward to offering Reiki I/Animal Reiki Basics classes sooner than later. If this is something that might be of interest to you next year, please let me know.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Souper Sunday: Pop's Chili

Katie has not only submitted another recipe us to enjoy, but it's her grandfather's chili recipe! Although I have Cincinnati chili coursing through my veins, I have the highest respect (and a hearty appetite) for a good bowl of Texas chili.

Katie says, "So easy, spicy and yummy. :) And I've attached a photo [above] of some of the beautiful autumn foliage around here [in Boston]...which is now being blown off the trees...but we did enjoy it while it lasted."

Pop's Chili

1 to 2 lb ground beef
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 big cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can black beans or pinto beans
4 heaping tsp chili powder
4 tsp brown sugar
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder, or 1 garlic clove, minced

Brown ground beef, onion and garlic together. Combine with other ingredients in Crock-Pot, and cook for 2 to 4 hours.

Thanks Katie! xo

In case you have a soup recipe to share for a future Souper Sunday post:

Please send it via e-mail to jakk@magicbeansworkshop.com along with 1) a photo of the soup, you, you + the soup, or anything that captures the mood of the season and 2) a link to the blog or website to which you would like to be linked.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thoughts on Etsy

A friend contacted me earlier this week. She was trying to follow a link that I had sent to her for an item she would like in an Etsy shop. She was flustered. Etsy was a foreign concept to her and, try as I may to explain it, she just couldn't understand how it works. All she knew was that she wanted to order the necklace. And if she couldn't figure out how to do so, sooner than later, she'd pass on the purchase altogether.

Yikes. Food for thought.

I guess it never dawned on me that I could be losing potential customers because I'm vending through Etsy alone. Some people don't have the time or interest in learning the ins and outs of it. They just want to make a purchase as fast and easily as possible. No account to setup. No feedback to leave.

I visit the blogs of a few artists who very simply put their creations up for grabs on their blog. If anyone is interested, all it takes is an e-mail to work out the transaction. After all of these years, I had forgotten that it can be that simple. I'm yearning to return to that ease. I simply want to create what I love and put it out into the world for whomever feels attracted to it. I don't want there to be any obstacles between that person and their piece.

I know that some of you are enjoying great success on Etsy. I'm a huge supporter of the handmade movement and I know that I'm not alone in purchasing regularly from Etsy vendors. But I would really appreciate some feedback from those of you who have opted to pass on a purchase through my shop or others because the process felt too complicated. If you've tried an Etsy shop and decided to return to vending via your personal website, I'd love to hear from you, too. If there's anything else that you would like to share on the subject, please let me know here or via e-mail. Thanks in advance for sharing!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 16,480 Gratitude

The crimson of leaf-laden pear trees
Sunshine through November gloom
Long johns just for chicks
A tuna melt with a soul sister
Merino wool teal scarf crocheted by moi for moi
Juniper Ridge incense
Sweet anticipation for HP7
And Dewey's pizza

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thank a Glue Person Day

Everyone has at least one Glue Person in their lives. Maybe you're related to one or work with them. Chances are you're friends.

Glue People have their hearts and hands available 24/7.
Glue People are the first to volunteer.
Glue People will step in without being asked.
Glue People tend to be great listeners.
Glue People have cool heads and good advice.
Glue People will make you laugh when you need it most.
Glue People bring people together.
Glue People reach out to create and maintain connections.
Glue People bring order to chaos.
Glue People clean up messes with relative ease.
Glue People see possibilities when and where others can't.
Glue People don't believe in the existence of lost causes.

So you don't think that you have a Glue Person in your life? Well, let me ask you this ... who would you call if were taken to jail? There's your Glue Person.

Glue People have a tendency to overdo and overgive. They may not be very good at receiving and, as a result, their tanks can run dry with little forewarning. They can find themselves in situations that they're more accustomed to helping others through. In other words, a Glue Person sometimes needs Glue People too.

So let's give thanks today for the Glue People in our lives ... past, present and future. And let's give thanks that we have the capacity to be the Glue Person for others. But let's remember that we aren't expected to serve as Glue People every day and that it's perfectly okay to take a break and even resign from that role with someone in particular or across the board when it starts to feel unhealthy. And never ever forget that asking for help is always, always, always a very good thing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nineteen Years

Mr. and Mrs. James Krafft
request the honour
of your presence
at the marriage
of their daughter
Julie Anne
to
Mr. Daniel William Keefe
on Saturday,
the sixteenth of November
Nineteen hundred
and ninety-one
at half past seven
in the evening
Guardian Angels Church
Cincinnati, Ohio







To my beloved Dan, with all my heart ...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Five Years

I still wake up sometimes
With space for you
Above my head
I like to believe that
Maybe you stopped by
For a visit
Eighteen years
Is a long time to
Get to love each other
But not long enough
I hope that there are
Plenty of foil balls
Wherever you are
And cans of people tuna
Not that cat crap
You deserve the best
Because you were
The best
Still miss you
Chelsea Cat
All ways, always will
xo

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Souper Sunday: Lentil Soup

Beth is a great friend who rocks a Fuji Instax 210 like nobody's business. Please go visit her Flickr page and see for yourself. She also likes to rock a pot of lentil soup, especially at this time of year. This recipe is courtesy of Food Network and Giada DeLaurentiis. Beth said that it's her my favorite soup recipe and that she has been making it for years. As a vegetarian, she opts for vegetable stock in place of the chicken broth and gives it a big yum.

Please forgive me for not being able to share the details of the recipe here on this post. Technical difficulties. But if you go to the link, you can print it directly from there. In case you've missed previous Souper Sunday posts:

Sunday, 11/7/10: Tomato Soup - Katie Noah Gibson
Sunday, 10/31/10: Santa Fe Pumpkin Chowder - Amy Bogard
Sunday, 10/17/10: Curried Carrot Soup - jakk

In case you have a soup recipe to submit for a future Souper Sunday post:

Please send it via e-mail to jakk@magicbeansworkshop.com along with 1) a photo of the soup, you, you + the soup, or anything that captures the mood of the season and 2) a link to the blog or website to which you would like to be linked.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Adventures in Northside and Photos at Spring Grove

Beth and I had been anticipating yesterday's play date for many weeks. We crossed our fingers to cramping with hope that the weather would cooperate. And cooperate it did, by providing us with an Indian summer day that included a high in the 70s, gentle breezes full of floating leaves, and not one blemish to the impeccably blue sky.

Our adventure was off to a sweet start with lunch at Take the Cake in Northside. I must confess to having quiche envy when Beth's lunch was served, but the chocolate cupcake that I ordered for dessert more than made up for my remorse. I look forward to getting back there soon.

After lunch, we decided to check out Fabricate, a funkity shop with consigned handmade creations. Thump-thump-thump. That's where I fell in love, love, love with Moon Unit (in the photo above). His tag says, "Moon Unit loves to dance! He often thinks things are funny when they're really not but he's so cute no one really minds." Moon Unit is also unspeakably soft. I would wear him if I could. As a collector of all things quirky and comforting, I couldn't stand the idea of leaving him behind. I might need to go back and fetch him a friend, though ... after fortifying myself with a cupcake, of course.

The lighthearted start to our outing was in stark contrast to the main purpose, which was a photo shoot at Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum. This would be my first visit to this Cincinnati landmark that is so rich in history. I was very glad that Beth was driving, because the magnitude of the place, in terms of size, beauty and overall impact, was overwhelming to me at first. The monuments were incredibly grand. They seemed to compete with each other in terms of extravagance. The seasonal slant of sunlight upon them was breathtaking and there was still enough autumn color available to cast a warm background to the cold stone.

Beth would drive and instinctively pick the perfect locations to pull over. We would essentially flee the car each time, beckoned "over here!" from various directions. It's a miracle that we didn't get permanently separated and completely lost along the way. Despite our exuberance, we moved through the headstones and monuments with care. This wasn't a park meant for romping. People and memories were deeply at rest here. Although I wondered if it might before we got there, it never felt creepy or sad to me. Many of those buried had lived what we'd consider abbreviated lives. But I couldn't help but marvel at how beautifully they were honored, even celebrated. I wanted so much to capture the essense of that in my photos.

See what you think ...


Friday, November 12, 2010

Pretty ... Awesome



This video came to me recently via my friend, Beth, who said it's been making the virtual rounds for awhile. If you've seen it, I think it's well worth watching again. If you haven't seen it, then I'm glad to be the one to share it with you. Absolutely pass it on.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Confession

A new friend was coming over this morning for a Reiki treatment. This was her first visit to Camp Keefe. I must confess that there was a flustered moment when I was beside myself trying to figure out how to hide the ugly truth.

I am a lousy housekeeper.

Now, as far as I know, there have been no reports filed with the Health Department and A&E hasn't sent a camera crew to our door. My domestic deficiency is one of basic neglect. I can't keep up with it all. There are teenagers coming and going. There are animals with fur. Papers pile up. Things get tracked in from outside. Dust gathers. Belongs never end up where they're supposed to go. Layer upon layer of funk, filth, and denial.

As a certified Feng Shui practitioner, our ordinary mess pains me greatly. But I could spend the whole live-long day, day after day after day, trying to keep up with it all. I could give you a thousand excuses reasons why that just won't happen. Maybe I didn't get the clean gene. My mother has it. She passed it down to my sister. They have immaculate homes. I got my father's nose instead.

Speaking of my father, I am his mother's granddaughter. She was the happiest person I've ever known and, honestly, she didn't keep a particularly clean home either. Passibly clean, yes. No infestations. No hoarding. Nothing to cause alarm. But she didn't fret about dishes in the sink, sticky spillage or the fact that white socks on her hardwood floors were doomed to darkness. She was too busy doing the cha-cha, catching a sale at Shillito's or doing something else that brought her joy. How can you not cut someone fun like that some slack?

If you come to my house, you will see dirty windows, dust bunnies, and cobwebs. There will be countless spots, stains and scuffs. The dishwasher will need to be loaded and the trash taken out. You can count on identifying at least a half-dozen locations that could benefit from a thorough scrubbing. Of course, we will make every effort to get our clutter hidden in check before your arrival. Not so much out of shame, but because we don't want you to trip and fall.

Despite our faults, I promise you this ...

You will be wholeheartedly welcomed here. You will find comfort. You will be nourished. You will laugh. And you may feel a peace here that you simply can't describe. People come to our house and they like to stick around. They kick off their shoes, curl up and exhale. So, far as I can tell, we must be doing something right.

Come on over anytime.

(But please call at least 30 minutes in advance.)