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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Selfies, Jewelry, and feeling ridiculous (oh yeah-and-this-is-Me)





Hello friends.

Well, I certainly didn’t plan on writing a post about Selfies today but if you’re a regular here you already know I love to talk about things in life that baffle me-excite me-or challenge me.  So today’s topic pretty much covers all three of those.

First—here’s the excitement part:  




When was the last time someone sent you a gift in the mail for absolutely no reason?

Not your birthday. Not a holiday.

Nada. Nothing. Just because.

Well that’s what happened to me recently when Vannessa from Luxuria sent me an elegant set of hammered multi-toned bangles from her jewelry collection…totally out of the blue, as a little token of blogger love.

Honestly, this is one of the amazing parts of being a blogger---you end up becoming friends with people from all over the world, following them through their ups and downs, knowing the names of their family, offering support from a distance when you see them struggling. Funny, the little details I end up knowing about my blog friends. They may be women I’ve never met in person--- yet I have this distinct feeling that I “know” them.

So let me tell you about Vannessa.

She’s got an inspiring fashion blog —and a gorgeous line of jewelry. She lives in a 300 year old cottage in London and regularly writes posts about all things related to being a smart woman with a sharp sense of style. I can’t even remember how long I’ve known Vannessa but based on my memories of her life, it feels like it’s been a long time.

Okay, here’s the selfie part of the post—baffling and challenging me all at once.

Do you want to know how much I like Vannessa?

Well.

I like her SOOOOOOO much that I actually agreed to take a few pictures so I could share my new bangles and do a little shout-out for her jewelry business. And this is no small thing for me.

If you’re a regular here you might have noticed I don’t post pictures of myself much. Well actually never.

 (Except for this one little yoga pose)


After several years of blogging, this is actually my first picture I've ever posted of myself. 

Wow. That's hard to believe... even for me.

But truthfully, I may be the last official woman on earth who doesn’t take Selfies.

I know. Call me a dinosaur. 

But I admit, I'm totally mystified by that urge to pause-in-the-middle-of-whatever I’m doing, to take pictures of myself. I literally never do this.

Although I loooove to see your Selfies, I absolutely do! 

I so admire those women like my friends Tamera and Elizabeth who are refreshingly unabashed about sharing their self-portraits with the world, and whom inspire women of all ages to do the same. 

Express your own version of beauty and humor and self-confidence, they say to all of us, and do it through the art of taking Selfies. If you visit their blogs, you’ll see for yourself how easy it is to get caught up in their exhilarating freedom of expression.

But Moi?

I admit it; I’m not a convert yet.

Does this make me an old fuddy-duddy?

Honestly I just don’t get that 'Empowered-This-Is-Me-Being-Totally-Me-Feeling, as I struggle to figure out how far to hold my phone away from the gigantic-looking face I see in that screen.

Do you know what I mean?

Because sometimes I feel like I'm the only one with this view.

Those rare times when I’ve tried to take a Selfie it brings out my absurd side; that part of me that laughed out loud when Jim and I walked into an “Ugly Xmas Sweater” corporate party dressed in formal-wear because we literally missed the memo.

The Me that trips in public because I misplace my glasses and can’t see the curb.

It's the posing part that makes me feel a tad ridiculous. That suddenly brings out my "Tom-Boy"side ....the Me that prefers old jeans and t-shirts and who never finds time to get my nails done, because there’s literally 1000 things I’d rather be doing than sitting still long enough for someone to paint my nails. 

I jokingly call it my 'Dude' side;  it's the Me that recently got my first tattoo at age 57 with my 22 year old son after we met for a cold beer at a bar in Newport Beach and had a great talk about Life.

I guess my point with all this blathering ….is to say, please don’t let my geeky posing as a jewelry- model keep you from visiting Vannessa’s blog and introducing yourself. It would be so kind of you to visit her at Luxuria-Jewellery and tell her I sent you!

She was so sweet to send me these beautiful bracelets.


Let's see. If I lift my hair up would it draw attention to the bangles? Opps...too blurry.


Maybe if I hold my hand up...but wait, the bangles keep separating that doesn't look right.....


What if I hold my arm up... balancing it on my other arm? At least the bangles all fall together, but what's with that plastic smile? 

I could keep going but you'd be bored silly. I know I am.

But you should know that these bangles really do look great with everything! And I sure hope you have fun checking out Vannessa's jewelry. 

Oh and before you go...please tell me, how do you feel when you take Selfies?

xo
Leslie

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

What you are seeking is seeking You.



The first time I ever met Anne she politely asked me to leave.
“Goodbye!” She said in a strong, matriarch voice. “Good-bye!” she repeated just in case I didn’t get the message.
I had sat frozen in my seat for an extra minute, feeling like a pink-faced candy striper who had just walked in on a naked patient. But. But...I’ve only been here ten minutes I remember thinking. Ten minutes into our one hour visit.
Oh well, I gave her a weak smile and walked out thinking,
...well I guess not all hospice patients want visitors.
Especially when they’re in the Alzheimer-Dementia unit and rarely able to recognize you; although this little insight took a while to sink in.
In the following weeks my visits with Anne have settled into a comfortable pattern of unpredictability where I walk into the room with a big, happy greeting and silently wait to see signs of alertness in Anne’s eyes.

For me these moments have a fuzzy similarity with a scene out of Groundhog Day; except I am Bill Murray’s softer version, gently repeating our first introduction each time we meet.
Sometimes I’ve been excited by the occasional flash of connection that happens during an ordinary visit. Those are good days. Like the time I was standing at the foot of the bed when Anne suddenly lost control of her bowels. I felt sure that something emotionally real had passed between us in those intimate moments before the nurse arrived.
I was the one who saw the flash of horror on her face and heard her repeatedly mumble,
 “What …what happened?! I’ve never had this happen before!”
In that split-second I felt myself catapulted from a quasi-stranger into that of intimate confidante, if only for those moments when she seemed comforted by my words.
And it made me wonder, would things be different from now?
You can imagine how giddy I felt the next week when Anne was totally alert and smiling, even asked me to push her around in her wheelchair, into the garden and through the hallways until we eventually ended up singing in front of the Karaoke machine. Around us was a small huddle of fellow patients that Anne typically avoids, and even they seemed a bit surprised to see her roll up next to them.

We sang together.
And I can still hear her wobbly voice surprising me with these verses she clearly recalled from her past:
“Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so”
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but He is strong.”







Naive me. I actually thought we had some kind of break-through that could last.

But the next week I found Anne in a darkened room when I arrived. Her mouth was open and her face was relaxed in the throes of a deep sleep. While I stood there, her eyelids suddenly flickered, she saw me and told me to go.

Taking my cues from previous weeks when she often woke up ready to talk, I pulled out a book and sat next to her bed.

And several minutes later she opened her eyes again.

“Why are you still here?” she demanded, her voice suddenly becoming a razor sharp knife cutting through the quietness, “If you don’t leave right now I’m gonna call the lady!”

And that was that.

Later after I sent my report, the hospice chaplain was concerned about my feelings. Had I been ‘traumatized” by Anne’s treatment, he asked.

It was a sensitive question on his part, but traumatized?  Definitely not.

It’s true that I felt the sting from her harsh words, let's face it, being tossed out of someone’s room is a jolt to the heart. But what had lingered afterwards was something else; it was the shock of the complete disappearance of my sweet, vulnerable singing partner of the previous week. It was the dramatic switch in her mood and tone that threw me. Not only was I not recognized, but I hadn't recognized her.

A few days later while I was practicing on my yoga mat, I had this clear insight into how my ego causes me to slip up in real life. It was a lesson on how "egoism,"--what yoga teacher Patanjali refers to as "asmita" blurs the truth. 

In my case, my instant reaction of hurt had been solely focused on me, pure and simple. Even though I had good intentions, I lacked the ability to pause. To create a little space before my own feelings of woundedness enveloped me. Here was a clear-cut example of how easy it is to misread a difficult person in my daily life. My ego had literally obscured the fact that these harsh words were being uttered from someone barely clinging to reality.
The fact that I would take her outburst as personal would be the epitome of ego.

And while Anne's dementia-tinged outburst may seem an extreme example, it comes with a message. It lifts the curtain on those people who go around lashing out at others. 

Do you have one of these in your life? Because it begs the question. Before we react to their words, can we pause long enough to ‘see” how badly they must be struggling?

This is what the hospice director doesn’t know.

 Anne is my teacher.

Anne is teaching me what it’s like to take my yoga practice off the mat and into the real world.

She is reminding me every time I see her that all we truly have is the Present Moment. And whether we’re a hospice patient or not, we should take nothing for granted. There are absolutely no guarantees that what we have today will be here tomorrow.

Anne is teaching me about impermanence. Reminding me—every time I say good-bye—that time is a gift. And that we should never wait to tell the people in our lives, I love you. Thank you. I’m sorry.

Anne is teaching me about how to care deeply about someone without attachment, how to give freely without having any expectations. Even the expectation that she remember me.

 Anne is teaching me about my own annoying flaws and unfinished work and reminding me in the words of our hospice director, “that most of us die the same way we lived,” which simply means there are no magical transformations on the deathbed. Not really. Angry people die with their anger. Selfish people die afraid. It’s up to us --- in the words of Maya Angelou, to “go out and grab the world by the lapels.” It’s up to us to have a clear intention of the person we what to be, and to begin today to put that “ideal” into practice.

Anne is reminding me to keep growing. To keep facing my anxieties. To deal honestly with my underlying fears that make it so hard for me to “let go” of certain situations and worries.

She is teaching me that if I truly want to become a wise, peaceful person by the end of  my life--it won’t happen without mindful choices and effort.

I can keep this list going, but I’ll end it this way.

Every single time I walk out of the beige, brick building where Anne has a room, I am blown away by the fact that I can walk outside and breathe in fresh air.

I have a laser beam awareness that I’m standing on two strong legs that can carry me anywhere I want to go. And that I can look up and see the color of the sky whenever I get the urge.

I can’t explain how simple and radiant and beautiful my life seems at this one moment.

But this is what I do every time I leave Anne's dark carpeted room with it's hospital bed.

I stand on the concrete sideway. I take a deep breath and I feel utterly grateful.




Tell me.

Who is your teacher these days?

I'd love to know.

Namaste,
Leslie

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

How I transformed a plain door into a Farmhouse door


Hello friends. I'm traveling today but I wanted to stop in and share a DIY project I did awhile back.

I'm finally getting around to organizing my pictures and even though I only have IPhone ones, I think the project is worth sharing because it's such an inexpensive way to add a trendy farmhouse door to your home.

 Because our original door was damaged I bought a plain, inexpensive one from Home Depot and decided to transform it into something that would fit better with our beach cottage look. Although I didn't get a "before" photo of the door this one looks identical except for the placement of the doorknob. Ours was on the opposite side.

Saving space

The reason I decided to change this door out was because it opened into our tiny laundry room, cutting into valuable space. By replacing it with a door on a slider, it makes the laundry room more functional until we can get around to tackling this entire space.

For this project I used basic pine 1x4s and planks leftover from my bedroom walls.

First off, I cut and added the pine on all four sides.

Looking at the door from this angle you can see the depth in the middle of the door that I created with these 1x4s. 

After playing around with the faux planks
(strips cut from sheets of plywood)
inside this space, I figured out that my design would work.


My design required a middle piece.


Once the center piece was cut and nailed down it was time to add the planks.

I decided to add glue before nailing down my planks. But first I had to measure the space and decide how wide these planks should be, I decided on six.

Once the bottom planks were added I used wood filler for my nail holes and added a base coat of white primer.

Now came the tricky part (for me at least)
 It was time to cut my angles for my "X" on the bottom.


Close enough. After the wood filler it was ready for more paint.

Front side done.

To finish the back side I turned it over and covered it with the planks minus the middle piece. Same process, using wood glue and nail gun.


Issues with adding thickness to door

I really wanted the "planked" look from inside the laundry room but I was getting worried about the thickness I was adding to the door. Here's a side view:


I had ordered barn door hardware from a different company and when it arrived not only were the measurements all in the metric system---but the pre-drilled holes didn't line up with our studs. It really added to our concern about the weight of this door. 


Back-side Before

All done and ready for paint.

Before


After

The lighting wasn't great when I snapped this picture but if you look closely you can see the 2x4 over the doorway that Jim put into the studs, then we attached the sliding door hardware into this 2x4 for added strength.


I painted it white to blend into the wall:



I'll be back with better pictures.



Also--I'm thinking it still needs a black rustic door handle.
What do you think?
Yes or No?


xo
Leslie


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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Salted chocolate lavender cupcakes with honey coconut cream and some exciting news!





Hello friends!

Today I've here with a delicious recipe to share with you but I've also got some exciting news too--a perfect little announcement for this new year.

Let's begin by acknowledging that today is an official 'first' for me.

Yep, not only is it my first-ever vegan recipe on my blog, but it's actually the first time I've made a vegan dish period.



So of course it had to be a dessert.

But wait-- here's the exciting part. 

I've been asked by my 24 year old to contribute a recipe-of-my-choice for his new organic food and beverage website and blog that's up and running, called Bodhi Organics.  

Although the company is  very much in its infancy --with more products on the way-- Patrick's getting encouraging traffic from his Instagram and Facebook account and who knows, maybe from a few of his Momma's friends too.

(wink-wink)






a recipe with a poignant back-story

When it came to choosing my recipe I knew immediately that I wanted to share something from the kitchen of Elizabeth Kirby, the esteemed foodie, photographer and stylist of the enormously popular blog, Local Milk.

I've been a follower of her exquisite writing and stunning imagery for years, watching her from afar as she navigated through vulnerable single life, fell in love and now has a new baby. So in a way, this feels like a serendipitous little match; introducing my son's budding dream with the recipe of a someone whom I feel oddly maternal. 

And because life is saturated by layers of stories, I should also mention that this delicate, lavender-infused recipe was created by Beth for her dear friends, Tiffany and her fiancé Kappel. And that tragically, Kappel died in the months that followed their visit with Beth, making this recipe even more infused with tender love. 

So here we go: in addition to this poignant back-story this cake itself is the bomb! Incredibly moist and flavorful, believe me, J had absolutely no idea he was eating a non-dairy, gluten-free product.

Ingredients:
makes about 12 cupcakes (I got 15)

2 cups AP Gluten-Free Flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1  1/2  teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2  1/2  teaspoons dried lavender, ground to a powder
1  1/3  cup granulated cane sugar
1/2  cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1  1/3  cup hemp seed milk (can substitute almond or coconut milk--I used coconut milk) room temp
1/2  cup + 2.5  tablespoons melted coconut oil, room temp
2  1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2  1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Frosting:
2 cans full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup raw honey (or sub agave, about 3 tablespoons for honey to make it pure vegan)

Instructions:
1. Refrigerate the cans of full fat coconut milk the night    before or at least 5 hours before using. They need to chill completely for the frosting.
2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake papers. (Elizabeth lightly greases hers with a non-stick spray).



3. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, lavender, sugar and cocoa powder to combine thoroughly.

In a separate bowl combine the hemp seed milk ( I used coconut milk) coconut oil, vinegar, and vanilla. It's crucial the milk not be cold or the coconut oil with solidify.


Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon to thoroughly combine.



4. Fill each cupcake tin with 1/3 batter, and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. It's shouldn't be wet.



5. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting or it will melt.

6. While cupcakes cool make your frosting. Turn your chilled cans of coconut milk upside down and open them with a can opener. Pour out the liquid. Scrape the solids left into the bowl of a stand mixer.


I added honey to the coconut milk mixture

Whip with the whisk attachment until light and fluffy on high, add the honey or agave, and continue to whip thoroughly. Alternately you can use a hand-mixer.


Side note: I got lazy and tried using only my hand mixer but it definitely didn't produce enough 'whipped' texture- I needed my standing mixer for this topping.






7. Frost the cupcakes with the whipped coconut and garnish with a few lavender buds if you like the taste

 (otherwise skip because the lavender buds can be a bit
strong)





Notes: I also tried a batch with regular whipped cream and if you're diet allows, these were amazing too.






If you love the scent of lavender this is your recipe. Crushing the tiny lavender buds filled my warm kitchen with this calming, aromatic scent, it felt like an added treat.


I don't know about you but I've realized that aging well--with wonderful skin and a strong body depends on what I put in my body. And I've really noticed when I eat cleaner (less processed food) and drink my Matcha green tea, I just feel so much better. 




If you feel similar and you like recipes like this one, stop by and visit Bodhi Organics on Instagram or the blog, for more recipes and tips on a health and fitness.

Or just stop by and say Hi to Patrick. 




The website is still being tweaked but I still wanted to share it with you because you've always been so supportive. And it's so nice have you--my readers--be part of this endeavor from the beginning.


xo
Leslie







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