A Happy Peach

Things that make my heart smile…


Between Twilight and Dusk…

In our busy stress filled lives we often forget to notice the beautiful things in life. I am not sure why, but when we’re busy the beautiful things which occupy our lives become of no consequence and we are willing to just toss them aside. We spend all of our times doing the things we may not want to do, but have to do and completely neglect all the pleasure we could/should be experiencing. Why do we do this? Is “efficiency” so prized that beauty has no value when compared to it? Does money heal all the wounds of our past and prepare us for all the surprises that lay ahead? Can status circumvent principles and replace genuine relationships? My own personal answer to this set of questions is no.

I do think that life was meant to be a good experience. If I could be the voice for appreciation of beautiful things I would happily take that post. If I were to be a liaison for things of beauty, I would implore you to take notice of the relationship of the sun with our sky. How our day gracefully changes into night. As light slips away into the evening and the coolness of an evening chill kisses our waiting skin. The colors change from bright blue with trails of white strewn throughout to a series of gold as the sun begins to set. As the night transition continues you may notice under the bellies of each cloud you can see a bit of pink which may be so bold as to have ruby hues. When those vibrant colors have left you have the deep mystery of the darker hues of blue which toy with the idea of being black. Remember that black is not necessarily a color, but the intensity of all colors. To each night there is great depth and intensity. It has happened so many times within our lifetime that we take it for granted.

In case you missed those special moments between twilight and dusk tonight, here’s a little slide show. I took these pictures last week while in the parking lot of a shopping center, I had just hunted my prey and was met with the beauty of the sun setting as I walked to my car. It was for just a few minutes, but I was able to get a few pictures. I was tinkering with it on my iMac, the slide show I had has the track Natural Relax from Kenichiro Nishihara, which is the video below. I hope you all have a natural relax sort of evening.

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The Bean and I…

Dear Friends, one good change can lead into another. Lately I’ve been determined to adjust my diet to include more veggies. I then, in turn, began to decrease the percentage of less healthy foods. It’s really changed the way I eat, now my body seems to crave veggies. It’s good for proper weight maintenance, healthy skin, as well as helpful to all the little parts housed within your body. I think it’s good for overall health and also lead to a better outlook on things.

One of the subjects I’ve been playing with are green beans. I’ve got three ideas and a one tip for you. First the tip. It’s important to cook your green bean properly. If the green bean is undercooked, not only will it taste funny but it may have too much lectin in it. Ingesting too much lectin can be bad for you. It is also important that you don’t overcook it, then it will be too mushy.  The way I usually cook it is in either the microwave for a few minutes with a couple of teaspoons of water to steam or on the stove in a pot, again with a couple of teaspoons of water. The cooking time will depend on the beans, if they’re frozen or fresh, etc.

Now, onto my recipe ideas. First the basic Green Bean Vinaigrette “Salad”.

  • I cook the beans. When they reach my desired doneness I remove it from the heat, drain the excess water into a cup, and leave uncovered.
  • While I am cooking the beans I mix together the vinaigrette. It’s really basic, I mix together:
    • Balsamic Vinegar (I eyeball it, but it’s usually a one-to-one ratio with the olive oil, meaning if I put in a tablespoon of olive oil then I put in a tablespoon of vinegar)
    • Olive Oil
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Garlic Powder
    • Any other seasonings you may fancy (sometimes I put in Lawry’s Salt)
  • After I’ve mixed the dressing together, I taste to see what it needs. You may want to add a teaspoon of the green bean water to help emulsify the dressing. I then dress the warm beans.
  • For a finishing touch I add some grated parmesan cheese. You can add any cheese you like, I think asiago cheese would also be a great choice.

Want to up the anti? I did, here’s what I did:

  • I seasoned and sautéed shrimps in a skillet, quickly cooking them over medium high heat with olive oil. I remove after they’ve been cooked so you don’t overcook them.
  • In the same pan I sauteed some mushrooms. The mushrooms release water and deglaze the fond off the pan.
  • I also add some arugula and quickly render them (just when they start to go limp).
  • I mix all the ingredients together. Don’t forget to add the juice that the cooked shrimp has released, there is a lot of flavor there. And then mix with the Green Bean Vinaigrette “Salad”.

My next idea is something that I am still playing with. I’ve thought to make a tempura type batter, but to mix in miso paste into the batter. Sprinkle on some crushed seasoned nori and fry. I think I would need to parboil the beans before I do. It’s just an idea right now, so I am not sure how it’s going to turn out. Any thoughts?

These recipes are relatively easy and the outcome pretty tasty, while still healthy. Although the fried one may not be as healthy.  Do they sound good to you? What do you do with your beans?

Eat well my friends, D….



Rainbow In The Rearview Mirror…

Last week it was raining as I was coming back from getting some of life’s little essentials.  I took the back route, since it was about five and rush hour was starting to “coagulate” (rush hour can sometimes feel like you get trapped in this gel and are unable to move and would be made worse by the rain). My journey was filled with winding wooded paths and expensive homes. The sun playfully peeped through clouds and then shyly behind them. Every so often I’d pass through a brief stint of sprinkles. As I made my way home I looked up into my rear view mirror to see a rainbow. I thought to stop and take a picture, but there wasn’t a good place to pull over. It followed me all the way home as I periodically glanced up to see if it was still there. I was hoping that I would be able to see it all the way home, but that was sadly not the case as it left me a few blocks before I parked in my driveway.

Even though I was disappointed to not to be able to get the shot, I was happy to have it escort me most of the way home. This appreciation for that moment brought to me the thought of how many choices we make and the different paths that we could take. Since I’ve been making time for myself (a path in and of itself), and learning not to feel guilty about it, it feels like a lot of the things that I have been worried about have begun to right themselves. I started by doing one thing for myself, and then I found that I could schedule a bit more time for myself and for the activities I enjoyed doing incrementally. By taking better care of my   self Ialso feel a lot better and find myself thinking more optimistically. And some of the things that I felt had less control over started to become a better situation.

Normally I believe in maintaining a balance in your life, and that what you give is what you get.  But it felt like so many awful things were happening and I didn’t understand it, eventually I didn’t even question it. I was overwhelmed. It’s presence was stifling and as the problems piled up I began wallowing in them, it was an unnatural feeling and I didn’t know how to get out of it. Somehow I hadn’t realized how mean I was being to myself, and how there really wasn’t any need for it. When I made myself a priority in my life, instead of being so focused on the problem, I found it easier to manage the problem and send them packing.

Like a pendulum things just seemed to be swinging back  to a wonderful place. And even though I didn’t enjoy that unnatural state of ick, the experience does enhance the appreciation I have for the good that’s come my way. Maybe it’s like going through a rain storm and then having a rainbow in your rearview mirror. It’s going to rain in the morning and I wonder if I’ll see another rainbow. Either way I think it’s going to be a lovely day.


Time Out…

This week I made a conscientious  effort to make time for myself. Initially I thought I could take a day just to spoil myself, I soon realized that was not possible. So I just decided to take my moments when I could, a little shopping here and there. At first it felt weird, some what uncomfortable, like I was forgetting something or needed to do something, perhaps there was also a tinge of guilt.  I then realized that even when I tried to relax, watch a movie or something that is supposed to take your mind off a situation I was still tense as if that little dark cloud named Filbert still hung over my head. This revelation came, much to my chagrin, and I pondered how I could not have seen it earlier.

I decided that I needed to remedy this situation as soon as I could, but was not sure how. I made a small list of things that I enjoy doing and decided to go back to them. When I perused the list, I realized they were all creative/artistic endeavors. First I ordered a set of new pens and got a small sketch pad, I have been doodling ever since. Then I began to read more, which made me start to jot down my thoughts. There are even pictures with chicken scratch written stories in the mix. Piece by piece I felt like I was regaining myself.

But the biggest moment was when I spent time with music. You see I have been looking forward to Kids on the Slope (坂道のアポロン) an anime directed by Shinichiro Watanabe and music provided by Yoko Kanno. My excitement for this project is due to the fact that they both worked on Cowboy Bebop, one of my all time favorite animes. The first episode is title Moanin’ after the song by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers. After I watched it I had to play it, so I grabbed my Ipod and just had 9 minutes and 31 seconds of heaven. All the stress started to melt away, as the music filled my being. If you’re a jazz fan, I hope you’re familiar with it. If you’ve never heard it but are interested here it is:

Oh the auditory bliss was extraordinary. After listening to Moanin’ the album I had to listen to the album Somethin’ Else. From there I went to Cannonball Adderley and then to Dave Brubeck. I once heard someone explain that jazz happens when you play between the notes. Thinking this way allows for great artistic freedom. The time signatures for the songs were uncommon, lending to an interesting sound. I think the unique sound is what draws you in. The album Time Out is a quintessential classic.

What I couldn’t believe is that some wonderful person recorded the entire record and posted it. And it’s a record, with the pops and crackles. Man I wish I had a record player. Here it is and

The title of the record reminded me to take time out for myself. The tracks reminded me that I of a few key things:

Track 1 Blue Rondo À la Turk – remember to have fun.

Track 2 Strange Meadow Lark- remember to take a slow and meaningful glance at all the small things that are around you.

Track 3 Take Five – remember to take time to do nothing. Remember that while Brubeck was playing piano and Joe Morello was playing drums the rest of the band was not really playing, they were just enjoying the music till it was their time to join in.

Track 4 Three to Get Ready – remember to take your time getting ready. All too many times I find myself rushing through things and not enjoying life. Which makes me wonder if I am not enjoying it, then why am I doing it.

Track 5 Kathy’s Waltz – remember to dance. Even if you have no one to dance with, even if everyone is staring at you, when your are filled with the desire to dance I think it’s something you must obey. Or any other activity that helps you to express yourself.

Track 6 Everybody’s Jumpin’ – remember to move. Exercise is such a great way to release stress. Don’t discount the therapeutic value of a constitutional.

Track 7 Pick Up Sticks – remember to play. Age does not matter, you are never too old to play and have enjoy yourself.

That’s my list of things to remember. I hope everyone’s having a great day.


Yogurt In All Its Glory…

I think it’s funny how sometimes someone across the world without knowing it, can be on the same kick as you. My friend Tien has come back to the blogging world after a little hiatus. And her latest post touched upon a post that I was thinking of doing. Lately I’ve been into yogurt, my health quest continues. Well, Tien did something with yogurt that I haven’t tried yet. She baked with it, Soft Yoghurt Buns to be specific.

The things that I have been doing are not recipe specific. It really is about getting the process right (and it’s actually relatively simple) and adjusting the few ingredients to taste. I have been playing with both “regular” yogurt and Greek yogurt, which has a sharper bite to it as well as a very creamy texture. First I get a tub (I’m not sure if I am the only one who thinks it sounds sort of fun saying tub) of vanilla or plain yogurt. Then I either:

  1. Make a smoothie with it. I normally throw in whatever fruits (be they fresh or frozen, and you can freeze your fresh ones to make it extra chilly) I have that sounds like they would compliment each other. Yesterday I used a whole banana that I broke into pieces, a cup of strawberries, and about a cup of vanilla yogurt. I put in an extra teaspoon of sugar to taste. I’ve also put in juice to make it a bit looser in the past.
  2. Or I eat it plain (I’ve been using the Greek yogurt a lot of the time) with a fruit sauce. I like to take a frozen fruit and simmer it with a simple syrup. The last time I used about a half a cup of blueberries and simmered it with water and sugar. Usually a simple syrup is a one-to-one ratio, so if you put in half a cup of water you then add in half a cup of sugar. I used about an 1/8 of a cup of water and two teaspoons of sugar. I think the water may have been a bit more than sugar, since I didn’t want it to be a sugar bomb. For an accent I added a wee bit of vanilla extract, but I didn’t love it that much.  I’ve also done it with peaches, and that was super yum.

I know ice cream is sweeter/tastier, but low-fat yogurt has its own character and once you accept its tart tangy quality you can use it as a compliment to fruits or whatever else suits your palate. Some people use it as a substitute for sour cream, I have yet to try that. But I am looking for other ways to incorporate it into my “lifestyle” (I hate what the word diet has become, we make it sounds so mean and restrictive). There are so many health reasons to eat it regularly; healthy weight, maintain of digestive system, and a good source of calcium just to name a few. Plus when you blend in fruits, you up the fiber and vitamin count. All good stuff. Additional bonus, the smoothies are quite fulling. And now I’m going to go make one. Yum!!!



Ashes, Ashes We All Fall Down…

My friends, I have written, revised, rewritten, and completely changed the topic of this post over the past two weeks. The truth of the matter is that I am not sure what to write. Of course there is the option of the seemingly obligatory, I am not dead statement when one takes time away from their blog. But that specific compulsory statement makes me think of some sort of blogger graveyard. I think a lot of people blog for different reasons, some (and really it’s a lot) want to get some sort of recognition, while others may just want to write their thoughts like a public diary of sorts. I am not certain what my exact reason is, I think I just like the creative process and the people who I’ve met.

However, lately I just haven’t made it a priority to post, it’s not like it wasn’t on my mind, but it just got pushed to the back. In fact I started versions of this very post and was called away a few times, each time I attempted to resume my thoughts on the subject matter had shifted in some ways. I felt bad about not really posting, but at the same time, I didn’t feel like dialing it in. But as my friend Liz pointed out (and mind you this is me paraphrasing) that our blogs are not graded. This made me realize I had been generating unnecessary guilt and stress for my lack of blogging. Aren’t friends the best at telling you what you need to hear to make your heart feel a bit better.

This made me wonder why I hadn’t been posting. I think the overall malaise stems from a general burned out feeling. You know how life is, you have the things you have to do and from time-to-time those things tend to occupy most of your day if not all of your waking hours. I think from there I was stricken with low to lack of motivation. This motivation issue seems to developed systematically. At first I had things I wanted to do and thought to just put them on the list of things to do, which hence forth shall be called: “the list”. Then those things I wanted to do were juggled around till they found themselves on the bottom of the list. Considering time and money, a lot of them started to be moved off the list till there were none that occupied the list.  After they were removed from the list it then became laughable to conceive of these things I would like to do, because there were no allowances for them. After a while I forgot that there was such a thing as something I would like to do. What a sad turn of events.

Unfortunately, I think this happens more than we would like to admit in our grown-up lives. We just get so involved with our day-to-day lives and the things we don’t want to do, but have to do, that we neglect our dreams and passions. We become practical to a fault, and inevitably misery ensues. I found myself behaving and feeling uncharacteristic. More times than I care to remember, I was irritable, short of patience, and not feeling optimistic. There was a little grey storm cloud (whom I like to call Filbert) over my head.

I think another way of looking at it was that my lifestyle was out of balance. I didn’t have enough of the things that I loved in my life. Much to my chagrin I would never say that I was a person with a specific dream. I had flights of fancy, I’ve been determined and accomplished, and I’ve had things that I would like to do, but I am sorry to say that I don’t recall having a dream that I thought I would chase. Now all of this may be semantics, but I think there’s a bit of logic to it. I think for myself, I define a dream as something your heart truly desires therein which your actions then reveal themselves to follow/have purpose. Now to distinguish it from other goals further, I think there is an element of passion, you tend to invest all of yourself into this purpose, more than your other life choices.

After having said all this, I have begun to think that dreams are integral to your mental sanity. It’s almost as if it helps allows us to maintain a sanguine viewpoint on life. Maybe your love of your dream then becomes your drive/motivation. I also think these dreams are nourishment for your soul/inner self (or whatever you may call it). Having and chasing your dream may reinvigorate,  refresh and revitalize you. I have decided to draw up some dream plans (how overly organized of me, at least I didn’t phrase it as a dream scheme). My strategy is to list out all the dreams I can think of, and incorporate them into my life one at a time. Probably start with the small ones first, baby steps, right.

And so, if you’ve made it through this rambling post, one thank you, and two what do you think of dreams? Or, conversely (perhaps three), do you feel like the everyday minutia has eclipsed all the fun in your life?