Friday, July 29, 2011

Morning Moon

To all you writers and dreamers out there,

Do you ever forget your dreams until you put your brain to work? I was going about my morning routine as usual (coffee, radio, etc) and then, as I sat down to write, my dream came to me suddenly - the first time it was with me since I was sleeping.

In my dream: I saw the sun, the moon and the earth in the sky - all at the same time! Light from each sphere reflected, almost eclipsed, the other - but really, they were each their own entity. Right now (while I'm awake), it's so perplexing, but at the time (in the dream-life), it made so much sense.

Weavers, catchers, interpreters out there,

What could it mean?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Be Summer

Lately I've been drawn to the particularly fresh and carefree. Ideas, looks, and energies that evoke openness, freedom and possibility. I think, I want to be that - I literally want to feel what I see. So, why not?

I've been doing okay in that I'm finding it easier and easier to capture these moments, ingraining them into my heart - as sure as the beat.

It doesn't hurt that my weekend was full of beautiful people, places, and food. I watched as everyone around me created and transformed our living into still-life inspiration - a postcard to forever keep.

Be still.

Be all shades of rose. Be able to arrange.

Be in the earth. Be finding dirt under your nails. Be remembering where you were when you got dirt under your nails.

Be stepping into space. Be stepping on the ground. Be stepping into the space that you create. Be stepping into the ground that is limitless.

Be playful. Be relaxed. Be whimsical. Be lounging. Be summer. Be all of the above.

Having been there you might allow yourself to stay. Stay among the way you felt good. You think you might be needed elsewhere. But you're not.

Stay for the nourishment and the warmth. Stay for the plenty. You are meant to be here.

Staying being. Stay free.

Say to yourself: stay being with me.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Under the Napa Sun

Who could ever forget that classic Sex and the City moment between Carrie and Big: surrounded by boxes in his apartment, they've ordered a pizza and he's about to serenade her with "Moonriver," when we tells her that he's moving to Napa because he's tired of New York. She exclaims: "If you're tired you take a Napa, you don't move to Napa!" On my trip to wine country last weekend, I couldn't get that line out of my head.

Although I had trouble leaving my post by the hotel pool, it didn't make much sense to visit Napa without at least one or two wine tastings. For our one day-adventure, we went to Castello di Amorosa, a 13th century castle-turned-winery, complete with a drawbridge, caves and a torture chamber! It looked like something out of Tuscany:

When I wasn't quoting Sex and the City in my head, I was humming the melody to "Sheep May Safely Graze." Clearly, the wine at the Castello has special powers - to move one back and forth between an 18th century cantata composed by Bach to a hit HBO series centered on the lives of four women in New York. Who knew?

We strolled the grounds, peaking our heads around eerie corners and into rooms with names like "The Great Hall." Finally, we made our way down to the cellar for some tasting. We skipped the torture chamber.

We tasted some reds. My personal favorite was the Sangiovese, whose aromas evoke dried flowers, red plum, sweet exotic spices and wild berry flavors. I picked all of that up on my first taste ;) Just kidding, I know NOTHING about wine, besides that I like to drink it.

Here's something I do know: I love rosé! A chilled glass of rosé can really add that special spark to a summer day. This particular rosé was called Gioia. Oh, Joy!

This little opening/window fascinated me. Does anyone know what it's called? I'm curious. Anyway, peering through it reminded me of one of my favorite movies of all time: Under the Tuscan Sun. Diane Lane buys a villa in Tuscany. The concept just never gets old for me.

It's sort of lovely that just one hour north of San Francisco is a little taste of Tuscany (I should start taking better advantage of its closeness - aside from wine, I hear there are lots of good hiking spots up there). Are there any nearby, easy-to-get-to getaways that remind you of a faraway place??

Would love to know. In the meantime, I hope your weekend is filled with Gioia!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yoga in a Pagoda

Everyone has their practice. With practice, comes a routine. We find what works, and with a little discipline and focus, we glide into a flow. I've come to realize that when I switch up the routine, I gain some perspective. I think: oh, I didn't know THIS would work for me. THIS feels so good!

For example, I was in Napa this weekend. Last week, I really struggled with my yoga practice. I had no desire to go to class. My back ached. The weather was gloomy so in the mornings I preferred hanging out in my robe with coffee to dragging my body into a yoga studio (you know something's up when you feel that going to class is a drag). It's in moments like these that you wonder: will it ever be like it once was?

Needless to say, I was in desperate need of a class (or two). I needed something to shake up my old routine. I needed to connect again. Luckily, our hotel had complimentary yoga classes in the morning. I needed to stretch, to move, to flow. Hotel yoga could work.

Little did I know it would be in a pagoda:

In the quiet forest of trees:

Little did I know that it would be the instructor, only one other person and me:

(insert 3 yogis into photo :)

The class was perfectly different in all the right ways. We didn't repeat poses and we didn't flow to the point of sweating (which is the opposite of what I'm used to. Most classes, it's like I'm swimming in a pool of sweat). We said good morning to the sun and opened our hearts to the world. It was so cleansing.

However, when the instructor suggested partner yoga, I scoffed inside. Not my favorite thing. However, what do I know about what I like and don't like? This was a 'heart opening' partner yoga, so it needed a chance. One of us sat back in child's pose, while the other lay on top the other, back to back. The one in child's held the other yogi's hands, gently pulling their arms in the direction of the earth. Heart-opening, mind-opening. We breathed together and it was amazing. See, what did I know?

The instructor also took us through this one standing sequence that really resonated with me. Basically, we began at the back of the pagoda. Having already cleared a straight and empty path, we slowly (as if through lava) traveled across the room transitioning between various leg balances, standing upright on one leg on the inhale and moving into Warrior 3 on the exhale. As we moved through these postures, our instructor said this of our movements:

On the in breath, finding an expansion and on the out breath, stepping into that space.

All became a blur after that, as I was ingraining this idea into my psyche. What a lovely way to think about life. Finding expansion, openness, opportunity, possibility. And then stepping into it, giving what you found a chance. Oh, I love it! I mean, Good morning world!

Anyway, having shaken up the routine, I now feel ready to pick up a practice that's new and exciting. It might involve trying one new class a week or perhaps a different studio? It might entail changing nothing about the actual yoga asana routine. I will, however, aim to find expansion in my daily life and step into that space.

One more thing about these glorious yoga mornings. It was framed by a beautiful chai tea latte:

and a Bing Cherry coffee cake:

I know one thing that will never change: my love of baked goods and hot beverages.

Finding an expansion, and stepping into that space.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Oh, Happy Days

What makes us happy? Love, health, friendship. A glorious sunset. The little things... person in a sea of books.

Observation...seeing people relax, while relaxing.

Variety...changing patterns, becoming the pattern.

Anticipation...waiting, holding back, going forward, getting there.

The brink...the best of both worlds.

Letting judgment, no shame, just fun.

...and my new favorite: Possibility.

Can you sum up (in a few words) what makes you happy?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Amelia, the Great

Is it safe to say that after this weekend, I'm one of hundreds, possibly thousands, inspired by the talents of a certain Amelia Morris? I mean, there might have been a day when all we thought she could do was attempt things in the kitchen. A great cook, an awesome baker. Fools, we were! I'm of course referring to her remake of Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend" music video. Watch here.

(video still via Jeana Sohn)

I think we were all stunned, amazed and blown away by Amelia's awesome dance moves and performance abilities. The video was infectious, right? I've found myself watching it over and over again these past few days as if she was a celebrity. I mean, by now, she basically is. If remaking Robyn's video with the kind of fearlessness and magnetism that Amelia displayed doesn't garner you celebrity status, I don't know what does.

But seriously, her video attempt made me smile and reminded me that if we let down our guard and go for what we really want, we will shine. Long story short, Amelia is the coolest! She makes me want to get my silly on.

So, when I heard about a cake contest at Omnivore Books this weekend, I couldn't get Amelia's Strawberry cake out of my mind. Remember her attempt at the Saveur recipe? Well, I decided to go for it and enter the contest. Both Amelia and her blog were excellent and supportive guides. What excited me about this recipe is that it calls for strawberry jam, one of my favorite things on earth:

At the contest, everyone asked how I got the cake so red. My answer was simple: Red Food Coloring. Safeway.

Side note: in a moment of not-genius, I wore an ALL WHITE outfit to the contest. (Was I subconsciously trying to prove something?) Luckily, and supposedly reminiscent of my preschool self (when I used to come home without a spot of dirt on me), my outfit remained perfectly void of red. My, how times have not changed.

Two beautifully baked layers. This cake is gorgeous in all of its forms.

By the way, it was my very first "attempt" at a double layer cake. Needless to say, the whole cake baking experience was joyous - even when I found myself on an emergency errand to Safeway at 7:30 am Saturday morning to pick up more food coloring. I'll never forget listening to Whitney Houston's "I Get So Emotional, Baby" over the speakers as I sped frantically through the market aisles thinking, yes, yes, I do!

Eventually, I made it home and the baking resumed. When I laid the top layer onto the bottom layer, I actually squealed with excitement. My squeals were so frequent they may have competed with NPR's Morning Edition. Or was it the new Gillian Welch album? I can't remember. I was too busy squealing over this masterpiece.

Notice the tote in the background? Amelia was with me the whole time in spirit :)

The final product! And, no, sadly I did not win the contest. But I had Amelia's video to cheer me up. Oh, ya, and lots of leftover cake to indulge any feelings of defeat. I've been joking about the plate of cake in my fridge. When I squat down to take a bite, I feel like a mix between Marie Antoinette and Bridget Jones. YUM.

In the spirit of Bon Appétempt, behold!

Amelia's version:

(photo via Bon Appétempt)

Poem, Sweet Poem's version:

Thanks Amelia, for all of the inspiration! xoxo

Friday, July 8, 2011

Six White Horses

Weekend inspiration, starting with music and song: Gillian Welch's newest album The Harrow & The Harvest. In one of those truly transformational experiences, I saw her and David Rawlings perform the whole album on Thursday night at the Warfield Theater. It's my current soundtrack.

Color, love and fashion inspiration: my sister Heather and her chic accessories. Photo from our Fourth of July weekend together in SF.

Relaxation, whimsical and leisure inspiration: street art on Valencia Street.

Coziness, new friendship inspiration: Joanna Williams. Photo via Jeana Sohn.

Below the ankle, summer inspiration: salt water sandals. Photo via A Cup of Joe by way of Fashion is Spinach.

And finally, food and fun inspiration: Amelia's attempt at Saveur's Strawberry Cake. Photo via Bon Appétempt.

We all need a little inspiration and we all need to have a little fun! I'm starting now. How about you?