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keeping myself accountable

way, way, waaaaaaaaay back now, i made a list of things  and slowly but surely i have been able to tick some off my list. if i’m being completely honest, did i think i would still be working on this list OVER 6 MONTHS LATER? no. no i did not. but i am grateful that i have not given up, not turned my back on these mini-projects that are making me whole again.

so a quick update on which i’ve “newly” accomplished: #4 { returning to yoga }, #5 { exploring various faith communities }, #9 { creating something as a gift to give away }, #17 {  learning a new skill from/with someone }, #18 { having a “terribly adult” conversation }, #21 { re-purposing something}, #22 { doing something wildly outside my norm }, and #28 { spending the day being crafty }.

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creating ritual: purification

if i absolutely had to pick a religious identity, i would label myself “Christ-emulator”, as in i try to emulate the teachings of Christ. to me, it differs from being “christian” in many ways, and it allows me to weave in truths from other spiritual practices while not feeling fake. i celebrate jewish holidays in honour of my matriarchal russian-jewish heritage. my time living in japan, and my affinity for japanese culture, drew me to shinto { and buddhism, and taoism }. my ojibwe heritage has opened me to elements of native american spirituality. my love of mythology has opened my mind to the idea of many gods and goddesses. i’m a feminist moon-worshiper. all of the preceding hold TRUTHS; my creative persona finds comfort, calm, and solace embodying the crazy-mixed-up jumble of beliefs i hold in physical rituals.

there is a salus per aquam { spa } near my home where i retreat to in times of high anxiety. in the decompressing area, hidden in a pile of feminist books, i discovered the goddess oracle–a collection of stunning cards used for divination. after using them several times, i decided to purchase my own, since i find them more intuitive and illuminating than tarot.

in order to cleanse my personal deck of any residual “ick”, and to truly set the intent, attuning it to me, i performed a purification ritual. first, i laid down fabric which will adorn my alter, and lit my homemade “saints” candle { one side is an image of carrie fisher, the other of david bowie. i coloured in the images and affixed them to a beeswax pillar candle }. i poured water into a bronzed bowl, then lit a sage smudge stick whose smoke i used to bless the candle, the water, myself, and the cards in an anti-clockwise fashion. after cleansing the cards, i laid them upon a small scrap of silk a top the fabric, and then cleansed the two stones i had chosen to fully align my deck. clear calcite, is a stone of clarity,insight and manifestation- facilitating inner clarity and initiating multilevel awareness. selenite is as tone of spiritual activation, aiding in communication with one’s higher self, and facilitates the experience of receiving inner guidance.

once purified, i placed these stones upon my deck and covered them with a remaining scrap of silk, then again smudged everything in one giant anti-clockwise circle. now i sit, with a calming herbal tea i blended myself, waiting for the deck to set.

takin’ care of business: where-in many things on “the list” are accomplished

it turns out that when putting off writing a blog entry, it gets harder and more difficult to want to update the longer one puts it off. ah well, so this will be a more “guerrilla style” update.

below, you can read about the following things i have completed from my list of things embrace: #6 { reading a book outside my go-to genres }, #24 { hanging out with a new friend }, and #25 { making a mini altar }.

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nuggets of wisdom: women in praise of the sacred

there are many books i turn to in times when i need uplifting, peace, encouragement, or inspiration.  one of these is Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women { edited by jane hirschfield }. i was raised Christian, and still consider my self so–though very far liberal/left-leaning, and find comfort/ solace/ understanding outside of the “traditional” church setting.

i want to share 2 VERY different poems, the authors separated by over 500 years, from totally differing faith traditions, yet both bring me such a sense of joy and peace.

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writing prompt:what is true about you that would make your 8-year-old self cry?

welcome to the start of a new series–this one is DIRECTLY inspired by 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose { over on mark manson dot net }. the entire article is incredibly thought provoking and out of the ordinary, usually self-help type questions all end up sounding the same: what do you dream of? if money wasn’t an option, what would you do? etc etc etc. so, i’m starting by answering his question number 2: what is true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry?

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further adventures in culinary exploits! { soup stock & moroccan lemons }

awhile back, we had an epic day of food preservation. on that glorious day, we tackled 3 projects, two of which i’ll attempt to recall below { with pictures! }. the first, and by far the looooongest was making a giant—6 quart— batch of soup stock. at any given meal time, the spousal unit and i will save any vegetable scraps, peels, stems, etc. and put them in our freezer bag for future stock exploits, usually ending up with a good old fashioned vegetable stock. but this THIS was a special batch: we were making *duck* stock! we had picked up approx. a pound of duck bones from our awesome, ethical, locally-sourced butcher and got the ball rolling by roasting them in the oven.

IMAG0282 <— there they are, all laid out on a cookie sheet. roasting the bones helps brings out the flavor and begins the softening process on the marrow inside, making the marrow easier to extract during the broth-ing { now a word } process. bone marrow stocks are super rich in flavour, and full of excellent nutrients!  after about 20 minutes, they were good to go into the giant stock pot of doom, and were joined by the aforementioned veggie scraps { onion, carrot peel, broccoli stems, asparagus “butts”, and mushroom stems }, as well as fresh chunks of carrot & parsnips, a couple of cheese rinds for creaminess, a combo of fresh and dried herbs { thyme from our mini-herb garden, rosemary from the same, bay leaf, white peppercorns, szechuan peppercorns, applewood smoked salt and fresh sage }. here is what the simmering pot looked like —–>IMAG0283 (1)

after a LITERAL two days of simmering over a supper low heat, we strained out the desecrated duck carcass and all the remaining veggies and spices, let it all cool, and portioned it into both 3 cup and 2 cup amounts. those freezer baggies are now living happily in our freezer, awaiting future use!!!

 

the second project tackled were moroccan lemons { aka salt-preserved lemons }. these are super easy to make, are shelf-stable and make an excellent condiment to chicken dishes, or can be used in salted lemonade { which is waaaaay yummier than it sounds }. at its most basic, all that is needed are lemons and salt. we opted to use{ organic } meyer lemons because they are a little bit sweeter and more flavourful . first, parboil the lemons for a minute or two to help bring out the juiciness. then, we cut them into 8 wedges and started to jam them into a pre-sterilized jar { see previous post on how easy that is/ the importance of doing so }, layering the lemons with salt and the spices of our choice. to keep a more “moroccan” profile, we used a whole cinnamon stick, cloves, coriander, a bayleaf and a few green peppercorns, making sure to really squish out the juices of the lemons. the spousal unit is looking forward to trying them thinly sliced on pizza!

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adventures in culinary exploits! { pickled asparagus }

in the past, i have dabbled in preserving my own foods. { think jams, pickles, fruit butters } there are many reasons why people “put up” food, but here are mine:

1. when i was young { under 10 } my family had a lovely backyard garden. mom had her flowers: petunias, marigolds, snapdragons, etc. but what i remember most was the pure joy of grabbing veggies so-fresh-they-still-had-dirt-on-them and shoving them into my mouth. we grew carrots, beets, green beans, tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, spinach…one year we even tried corn { failed experiment }. and every year, mom would pressure-can- half from the garden and half fruits from the farmer’s markets. when we moved to the suburbs, gardening went by the wayside, much to my dismay. now that i’m “grown up”, i’m inspired by what my mom used to do.

2. it’s creative/ creation. there is something immensely satisfying to  me in preparing and canning my own foods. from picking what to make, to how to best preserve it, to what spices/flavours to incorporate. past examples are things like nutmeg & clove-spiced persimmon/pear jam. or lavender earl-grey peach butter. or juniper & rice-wine pickled turnips.

3. the awesomeness of knowing that i get to eat locally brought, sustainable, seasonal fruits and veggies all year round! over the years, i have become a firm believer in eating seasonal, sustainable, locally-produced foods. this means that seasonal delights, such as asparagus { which in reality, only has about a month-long harvest in the early spring. the stuff at the grocers is being shipped from far-flung places all over the world, which i’m personally not down with. } or stone fruit, or strawberries can still be savoured well-past their “due dates” as jams, jellies, pickles, etc.

and i’m sure i have many more if i thought hard enough about it. but, let’s get to the heart of the post, today’s “putting up”: BRINE-PICKLED ASPARAGUS!!!!

IMAG0263  here we have the spousal-unit chopping the asparagus { don’t worry, i had already washed it thoroughly to get out all of the sand } we had bought at the   sunday farmer’s market. you can clearly see our very technical method of making sure the spears will fit in the jar, a.k.a. we measured one, then cut the rest to match. we are sooooooo savvy.

IMAG0264 while the chopping was a-happenin’, the pint sized mason jar and lid were on to boil. it’s super important when “putting up” food of any kind that your jars are clean and sanitized, as to prevent the possibility of bad bacteria forming { say, like botulism }. the easiest way is to completely submerge the elements in which you’ll be preserving the food into boiling water for at least 10 minutes.

IMAG0265the final product! once the jar was sterilized, the asparagus spears were packed in to the jar. the hot brine which consisted of 1/3 distilled white vinegar with the remainder of acid used { rice vinegar } for a total of 3/4 cup vinegar, 1/4  cup water, 1 1/4 tsp salt, about a 1/4 tsp green peppercorns,  1/4 tsp coriander, and 6 large burmese tea leaves, was poured over the spears, and we lidded it all.  then, to create a final seal, the packed & lidded jar goes back into boiling water for 10 more minutes to make a vacuum seal.