Monday, August 29, 2011

If You Go Down to the Woods Today (well, up actually)

I arrived safely in Los Angeles yesterday morning after the longest flight of my life!
Not a bad flight, I was just impatient to get to Ben and the puppies. Now here I am, with my darling at last!
Our evening was splendid, we went for a night hike in the Santa Monica mountains, and were afforded the most beautiful views of LA for our stumbling (okay, my stumbling) up the hills and down the ravines.
Dinner was courtesy of the salad bar at WholeFoods, oh how I have missed thee.
Today however we are off to Yosemite!!

In honour of Ben and myself and our inaugral camping trip I have adapated a ditty for the occasion:

If you go down to the woods today
You're in for a big surprise
If you go down to the woods today
You'll never believe your eyes
For Amy of the urban streets
Is off to see Yosemite
Yes today is the day Amy and Ben go camping!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Headed to LA

Look at this:


Yes, paradise on the California coast.
Now back to me.

The gorgeous Jazmine and I on the very same coastline 
This will soon be this little chickpea's reality. For a few wonderful weeks I shall be joining my darling Ben in Los Angeles, of course it wouldn't be home without the addition of Jazmine and her little brother L.D. (also known as 'the Captain').
I will be blogging about our adventures and whatever else might cross my path. So stay tuned everyone!
For the next two days I will be in transit (or is that one? The time difference messes with my mind a little...) so I promise a post when I get my land legs (that should be hands actually) back.
Stay safe everyone, and see you soon!

A Million Brilliant Points of Light

I am so fortunate in my life to be surrounded by extraordinary people.
Linked to so many amazing human beings through my work, my friendships, those who I call my family; everyone who takes up heart space.
Like a million brilliant points of light who shine in my night sky, who make up my astronomical map; each one of them anchors me with a connection that I treasure every day.
You can't see stars during the day, but they are still there, shining behind the sun; just another star really.
There is nothing like looking at a grey sky and knowing that behind those clouds, in the true background of the sky, there are a million brilliant points of light still radiating their light towards you, even though it isn't apparent right now.
There is more than what you can see with your human eyes.
There is more beyond that sky.
You might think you are alone.
That the sky is grey, and only grey. Choked with rain, drowning in sorrow and precipitation.
But behind those clouds, there are a million brilliant points of light.
And they shine for you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Butterfly Just Flew This Way!

What a lovely surprise to be perusing the beautiful Christina's blog (the one and only Athletarian) and find out that I had been nominated for the Butterfly Award!
Thank you so much Christina! I love reading your blog and your upbeat sunny attitude. Keep running beautiful!


Name your favourite colour: Difficult right off the mark! My favourite colour to wear is navy blue; otherwise it has to be yellow!

Name your favourite song: For running: ‘Teenage Dream’ by Miss Katy Perry. For snoozing: ‘Blue Monday’ by Flunk. Of all time: ‘Iris’ by the Goo Goo Dolls

Name your favourite dessert: My darling Casey makes dried pears dipped in dark and white chocolate and then dunked in nuts. I would live off these alone if it were possible.

What wizzes you off: People with no manners. Please and thank you are not dirty words, waving when someone lets you overtake is still appreciated, and there is no shame in smiling at someone when they smile at you.

When you're upset you: Sleep. Complete chickpea shutdown.

Your favourite pet: I love all my babies. Look who is even trying his hand (or should that be paw?) at blogging. I’d love to see a guest post from Toby’s perspective, that’s for sure!
Have no doubt, this cat knows exactly how beautiful he is.

Black or white: I’ve always had a little trouble seeing the world so clearly split so I’m going to be contrary and say, shades of grey...
There are some things though where I have criteria.
White is my choice for: crisp button down shirts, bed linen, picket fences, house paint, roses and wine.
Black is the only way to go when it comes to: trousers, workout clothes, little dresses for dates, sports cars, and most importantly – coffee!
Chickpea dream car. One black Maserati - yes please!
Happy to dream for now...
(Source)
Your biggest fear: Losing the love of my family and friends. They help me through so much in my life, I honestly have no idea what I would do without any of them.
They even smiled all the way through the 5km walk we did this past weekend.
In torrential downpour. These people still my heart.
 Best feature: My smile I think. Mostly because it is something that I can pass on to people, I only hope that it’s contagious!

Everyday attitude: Happy to be here. When I get down I just remember that tomorrow holds no guarantee all I can do is hold onto today and give it the best I’ve got.  

What is perfection: Perfection is a sunny Saturday afternoon on the beach with a beautiful man (you know who you are darling) with two puppies running around my feet, the wind in my hair and nowhere else on earth to be but right where I am.
Wait for me!
 Guilty pleasure: My beautiful Benjamin, a large half strength Americano to start my heart every work day, reruns of MASH, British police shows (love Midsomer Murders), and always licking the frosting bowl clean!

Now it is my turn to pass this award onto some of my darling blogger friends:
Cait - the divinely talented Arty RunnerChick
Julia - the inspirational mind (and feet) behind Pain, Pride and Perseverance
Dana - she of the hippie chic and gorgeous hair at My Little Celebration 
Vanessa - runner extraordinaire of Gourmet Runner
Allison of the ever bubbly Happy Tales Blog
Keri of the blue eyes and swift feet at The Blue-Eyed Runner

Only three sleeps until I fly out now!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fallen in Love With...Friday

Well, well Fridays are certainly rolling around rather quickly at the moment!
For all that I concentrate on not wishing my life away, I can't wait for the next eight days to pass quickly beneath my feet because that means that I will be on a plane and off to see my darling in Los Angeles!
Okay, enough bragging, sorry everyone but I am just a little (okay, a lot) excited about being with Ben again.
So in honour of my impending trip this edition of Fallen in Love With...Friday will be travel themed.

  • Instead of waiting for an airport shuttle bus to the car park how about the latest in automated vehicles recently opened at Heathrow? The specially designed pods are summoned by waiting passengers and travel back and forwards from the British Airways terminal to the car park. Such a great idea!
  • Got a wonderful view from your hotel room and you want to see what it looks like throughout the day as life and light move through the city? This little weather proof digital camera can be set up to record what happens over time while you go out and enjoy wherever you happen to be!
  • Whenever I get to the airport and checked in the first place I go is the book store or newsagent. I might already have three books in my carry-on bag but I always need just one more in case I can't settle down. This time I am making myself take books that I already own that have been on my reading wishlist for a while. So far the contenders for precious suitcase room are: 'Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System' by Raj Patel (yes, I am a community nutrition nerd), 'Will Write for Food' by Dianne Jacob and 'Venice: Pure City' By Peter Ackroyd. Hopefully that such a diverse range of reading materials will keep me entertained for fourteen hours!
  • I am one of those people who loves planning things to do before I get somewhere - even though I usually end up veering off plan, which is where the best adventures happen, believe me! So I signed up for the PureWow LA newsletter which has been dropping daily emails to this chickpea about exciting places, eats and treats in the city of angels.
I am off to enjoy a cup of tea and make my packing list! Happy Friday everyone!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kairos and a Cookie

In ancient Greece there were two words for time.
Chronos, which is the time we live by everyday, sequential time, something that can be counted by your lovely shiny watch.
The other, was Kairos; a time between time, that cannot be counted and in which something special happens.

Chronological time rules most of human existence, we schedule meetings, time for working out, eating, and nearly every other task.
Kairos, that time apart, is an effort to find, but a worthy pursuit.
I have written about everyday grace many times before, but Kairos is something a little more than that. It is more ritualistic, for some it is religious, but it does not have to be.
It is an endeavour to get to Kairos; we must create the right conditions, force ourselves into that time between time, still the clocks of Chronos that chime in our head all day. We must search for that quiet space inside ourselves where an undefined time swirls and feeds something inside us, sometimes deeper than we know.

Kairos might be a ritual we allow ourselves once per week, a moment alone in a pursuit that pleases us entirely, a space inside us that feeds our soul and does not answer to the tick of the clock. It could be a Saturday afternoon walk by yourself in the quiet. A glass of wine, a book and a cat curled up on your lap on Friday night when everyone else is out of the house.

Kairos can also be shared, a time for our family, friends, community of our hearts, to spend moments together forging connections that are based on deeper understanding and enjoyment that goes undefined, happiness felt, not spoken. A sushi lunch date with a friend once a week. Sunday morning pancakes with the family.

Kairos does not have to be scheduled, it can be spontaneous a one time ritual that still means so much. This afternoon the house was quiet, the day was wrapped in grey clouds and I was alone in the house with a batch of freshly baked cookies singing their siren song. I knew that there was a moment of Kairos waiting for me, I just needed to recognise it and grab the opportunity to nourish that part of myself that often gets forgotten in the everyday. I made it into my own afternoon ritual; I plunged some coffee, the bitter nutty smell promising something in the time beyond, picked out the cookie that most appealed to me with it's greedy chunks of chocolate still soft from the heat of the oven, and pushed my chair into the best position to view the deep green garden and soft woolly clouds. I settled myself, took a breath to clear the hands of time away and opened the doorway in my mind through which I access time between time. The coffee and chocolate melted together in harmony, more than just the sweet and bitter; they spoke to me of the work I had taken crafting the cookies, the beauty in waiting for them to bake, the treat of allowing myself an indulgence of both chocolate and time.

I recommend you find Kairos in your own life. Make time to access that place of no minutes or hours. By yourself, or with others. Take time for a little ritual. Place yourself between the hands of the clock where you can't see them move and find that something great beyond the chime of Chronos.

It's all about chunk to dough ratio!

Chocolate Chunk Spelt Cookies


Ingredients:
60g butter, softened
60g raw caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
180g wholemeal spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
75g dark chocolate chopped into chunks

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a cookie sheet with baking paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, then add vanilla and egg and beat to combine.
  3. Add flour and baking powder and mix until incorporated. The mixture might be a little stiff but keep working at it, the pay off is worth it!
  4. Add chopped chocolate and mix through batter.
  5. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place evenly spaced apart on the lined cookie sheet.
  6. Cook for about 15 minutes and then remove to cool on a wire rack.
  7. Enjoy, in a moment of Kairos.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Happy Vege-versary to Me!

One year ago exactly I woke up and decided I was a vegetarian.
I had been pondering this decision for some time for a few different reasons.
Firstly, I had been having some stomach problems for a while and eating meat (and wheat) seemed to aggravate them.
Secondly, I had just read Alicia Silverstone's 'The Kind Diet' and the gentle way she speaks about her lifestyle choices, and the benefits of a vegan diet had me inspired to see if such a change would have similar effects for myself.  
I had also started running a little more seriously and become devoted to 'No Meat Athlete', a fabulous vegetarian/vegan running blog.
I had chosen a somewhat challenging time to begin my new lifestyle as I was just about to depart for Italy, the land of salumi, bresaola, prosciutto, not to mention spaghetti bolognaise, bistecca all fiorentina (beefsteak Florentine) amongst other meaty and fishy delights. 
While I was travelling I enjoyed gorgeous cheeses, fresh fruit and vegetables, amazing porcini risotto, spaghetti with zucchini flowers, gelati in a rainbow of colours, and countless other delights.


Upon returning home I learned how to prepare different beans and lentils, started cooking new grains, and discovered some enthusiasm in the savoury side of the kitchen that I thought was reserved for baking alone.
Also, in the grand tradition of this chickpea, I purchased quite a number of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks and collected recipes wherever a scent caught my taste buds. 


Over the past twelve months I have discovered a way of eating that works for me, that makes my tummy tingle with excitement at every meal time (and in between). I still cook meat for my omnivorous family and friends, and although I have tried and enjoy some of my vegan baking adventures I still cook with eggs and real butter.
More important than labels though is that I have found a way of eating that leaves me at peace with my body, and every mouthful I take. I believe that everyone is a little different in what works for their body, and for me, plants are the way to go! 

To celebrate Mum, Dad and I had Sundried Tomato Lentil Stuffed Field Mushroom with Baked Kipfler Potato and Caramelised Leek Salad.


Sundried Tomato Lentil Stuffed Field Mushrooms
Serves 3-4 depending on the size of your field mushrooms!


Ingredients:
1 400g can of brown lentils (or equal amount of lentils cooked from dried)
1 onion, diced
3 sundried tomatoes packed in oil, 1 teaspoon of oil reserved, tomatoes chopped finely
1/4 cup of black olives, chopped
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
Pinch of dried oregano
3 - 4 medium field mushroom, stalks removed
1/3 cup grated cheese

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius and place mushrooms on a lined baking tray, undersides up.
  2. Once the oven is at the right temperature, put mushrooms in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, then remove.
  3. Now, use the reserved olive oil to fry off the onion then add lentils, sundried tomatoes, olives, tomato paste and dried oregano. Cook until warmed through then remove from heat.
  4. Spoon lentil mix into mushrooms and then sprinkle with the cheese and place back in the oven to melt the cheese.

Baked Kipfler Potato and Caramelised Leek Salad



Ingredients:
500g Kipfler potatoes, scrubbed and thickly sliced
1 leek, white and light green parts only, chopped
1 cup green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
Large pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons flaked almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons macadamia or olive oil
Large handful of rocket leaves

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the sea salt. Scatter over a lined baking tray and bake for about half an hour , until nice and crispy.
  3. While potatoes are baking fry leeks with the remaining oil until soft. Add flaked almonds and continue cooking until almonds are lightly browned, remove from heat.
  4. Steam beans in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.
  5. Place potatoes, leeks mixture and beans in a bowl and toss with another pinch of salt and the rocket leaves.

After dinner, since it isn't really a celebration without some cake! I made Mum and Dad an apple and walnut cake from Tessa Kiros' charming 'Apples for Jam' and served it with ice cream and freshly whipped vanilla bean cream.

After smelling this brown sugar, cinnamon and walnut apple delight baking in the oven all afternoon I will definitely be working on adapting it to a more chickpea friendly version.
Now, I'm off to enjoy the end of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original with Gene Wilder) and dream candy coated dreams.
Happy weekend everyone.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fallen in Love With...Friday

Welcome to Friday everyone, it certainly has been a busy week. Time has been travelling so quickly for me since the half marathon, and while I am glad in a way because each day that passes quickly brings me closer to being in California I also hesitate to ever wish any of my life away because each day should be treasured.

Today as I was wandering through the glorious midwinter afternoon back to my car I started thinking about tonight's post and what I had fallen in love with this week. While there are links below to some things that have made me smile at how you can make friends even halfway across the world, made me hungry and made me think, this week, tonight's post is about how I have fallen in love with being aware of my happiness, something I have written about before, but really, can anyone be too happy?

This week I have fallen in love with being aware of my happiness, and I have to be honest, I don't care if people are looking at me a little strangely nowadays. I am in love with being happy. I want to be around happiness all the time. I want to shout from the rooftops about how happy I am, how I feel like there is a blue sky inside me and its cerulean beauty is written all over my face.
It is so easy not to tell people how happy you are. Sometimes it almost feels like bragging, like all we should bond over is shared miseries, compared miseries.
I can't help myself though. I am so acutely aware of how lucky I am to be this happy, about how I choose this happiness every day, every little moment.
Not that I don't get stressed, or scared, or even sad; however 99% of the time I feel like I am rolling in a paddock of lily scented bliss. In the times when I am a little down, especially when I am tired or lonely, I am aware that I need to make the effort to bring myself back to this happy. I know that it so clich├ęd to have a 'happy place' but it's more an awareness of the peace that you can find inside yourself even when the outside seems so overwhelmingly opposite to this.
I imagine if we were all born with some sort of celestial count down to our final days then we wouldn't waste a second of our years choosing to be unhappy.
Does happy mean perfect?
No. But I own the flaws that are mine and while some of them are charming and just part of my character, there are others that need a little fixing. That's okay because there is beauty in that discovery and moulding of myself.
Does happy mean no pain or worry?
No. But it does mean knowing that I am stronger than either of these and choosing the brighter side instantly weakens the power that pain and worry have over me.
So go ahead, look around your life and see how much you have to make yourself happy; what makes you lucky to be exactly where you are, living a life that is only yours to live.
Fall in love with being happy.

This week I have been so honoured that I have made friends with the amazing Cait (The 'Arty Runner Chick') who was so sweet about some prose of mine in a wonderfully reflective and insightful post of her own. Thank you for being such a lovely blog friend Cait!
A huge thanks also to everyone who has been leaving thoughtful comments on my recent posts. It is nice to know that my ramblings make sense to others :)
Tomorrow also marks one year since I became a vegetarian and to celebrate I think I'll have to make this beautiful Middle Eastern Pizza with Minted Tahini Sauce found on my new Aussie blogger friend Alissa's blog, Just Eat Love.
I have been caught up reading Geneen Roth's newest book 'Women Food and God' which is a thought provoking page turner about our relationships with our bodies, our lives and how everything is really revealed by how we choose to eat. It has certainly made me reflect on behaviours I have displayed in the past and how  it is important to be kind to ourselves.

I hope everyone has a wonderful start to their weekend this Friday night and I can definitely predict some baking in the chickpea kitchen this weekend.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Art of Rambling

I love to ramble, with words or with my feet.
Some days I love to walk in the sunshine and be swept away by memory and haunted by thoughts of a future that may or may not play out. Other days I like to roam inside, when the gloom and wind of the day have trapped me and there is nought to do but explore the rooms inside my mind; discovering cobwebs that need dusting away, a precious brass lamp of a forgotten moment remembered, or a floor that needs washing with a few tears.
Lonely days might leave me wanting someone to fall in beside me on my looping way back to the start, or might leave me content with the emptiness of being by myself inside.

To ramble is to just be. To let your feet or your pen decide where you go next.
To ramble is the gift of letting yourself be without purpose just for a little while. The destination is the journey itself. It is a capsule of just being exactly where you are with no pressure or expectation of what might be next.
It is to let every step, every letter, be felt, to be in that moment entirely.
It is to live without examining for a few breaths.
To escape the anxiety of what you cannot control or decide.
To ramble is just to be.
To ramble is to be free.


So go.
Go where the wind or the words take you.
Find pretty moments and words and wind them around your fingertips and in your hair.
Just be for a little while.
I am out there too in that un-momentous moment.
Revelling in the rare and precious beauty of every breath.
There I go again, just off rambling...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No Room Here for Fear


For a long time I was part of the resistance.
In fact, I think that I could have possibly been the leader of the resistance.
The resistance to change that is.
I would put up roadblocks whenever I sensed the slightest disruption to my current lifestyle, even if I knew that the change was for the better, that it could bring growth and opportunity and happiness; I would dig in my heels until I either had to submit to the change and admit that I was wrong, or miss out on the chance to grow altogether and never know what might have been. 
I will never know what I missed out on during those early resistant years of my life, really the first twenty two and a half years of my existence.
But I was lucky enough that something happened and made me realise that what I was resisting was not the change. 
It was the fear of what was next. 
The fear of what I would become when I accepted the change. 
I was afraid of being better, or more, or closer to what I really wanted in my life.
In staying the same I knew what to expect, I knew who I was, where I was and I didn't have to risk disappointment because every outcome had been pretested.
I was leaving too much room for fear and it was crowding out happiness.
When I realised that I was wasting space in my life on being afraid I knew that a major spring cleaning was in order.
There was no room for fear in the life I wanted to lead.
So I listened to the fear, and then like an unwelcome houseguest I told it to pack its bags and leave.
Now.
I watched fear's back retreat into the distance of a past where I felt stifled, stagnant.
Then I let happiness in. Her sunshine filled the rooms of my life and left room for others too.
Joy came and stayed.
Adventure led me far and wide, my travel mate at home and abroad. Without fear I could truly experience and grow and learn from each adventure, whether the end was happy or sad or in between.
Then love. Love came waltzing in and thank goodness my life and heart are elastic waist banded because Love was the happiest, most joyful adventure I had found to date and it swelled the girth of my life no end.
It's not to say that some fear is not healthy, fear is a useful warning system that can help us avoid disaster. But we shouldn't be afraid of our own lives. There shouldn't be room for fear in the everyday.
Because fear crowds out happiness, joy, adventure, love.
Here, in my present, in this life that I own there is no room for fear.
Sorry fear, my life is full of happiness, joy, adventure and Love there is simply isn't space for you.
No room here for fear.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sweet and Sweaty Weekend

This weekend has been salty and sweet, an important balance in the flavour of life I feel.
Saturday was definitely the sweet end of the spectrum as Jess, Mum and I attended a high tea with Mum's workmates at the Room with Roses in the city. The venue is in a building called the Brisbane Arcade which was built in the early 1900s and nowadays houses fine fashion houses and other speciality stores, amongst these the Room with Roses, a fine English tea house serving brunch, lunch and high tea to the people of Brisbane. I have been here before several times for tea and each time I have been more than happy with my meal and the service. Saturday was no exception, there were scones, savouries and petit fours a plenty, all chickpea friendly!
My favourite was definitely the raspberry scone topped with raspberry jam and vanilla whipped cream.
Beautiful Jess and Mum! Check out those scones in front!
It was lovely to share tea with some wonderful women and spend an afternoon enjoying a little leftover luxury from a bygone era.

This morning was the salty, sweaty section of the weekend's activities. Jess and I took part in the Brisbane Times 10km race. It was a lovely morning for a race with blue skies, unexpectedly hot weather for winter and a slight breeze off the river that the route followed.
Here we are before we got our sweat on!
I really enjoyed the race this morning. Although I still got my usual bout of nerves as we toed the line, as soon as Jess and I started running I forgot all about that and just enjoyed every moment of spending an hour with my little sister, doing something we both enjoy on a lovely Sunday morning. We chatted during the race, and just having her there was such a gift. As we get older and our lives become busier and take off in different directions it is nice to have that space where it is just the two of us again for a little while. I really treasure every moment I get to just have her as all mine again. Thanks Jess for such a wonderful morning!
Also thanks to our wonderful support crew, Mum and Dad, you definitely deserved your ice cream!

Salty demons!
Yes, one of our main motivations was race bling. This is Jess's first (of many I think!)
After the race the remainder of Sunday returned to the sweet spectrum, and whilst I promised a banana muffin recipe I'm sure you'll forgive me when you take a buttery, almondy, vanillary (all the -y words that make life worthwhile I think) bite of these biscuits.



White Chocolate Almond Fancies


Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon plain flour
3/4 cup icing sugar
155g butter
1/2 cup ground almonds
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
100g white chocolate
1/2 cup flaked almonds, toasted

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two cookie sheets with baking paper.
  2. Sift flour and icing sugar into a medium bowl and using your finger tips rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. 
  3. Add ground almonds, eggs yolks and vanilla bean paste and knead lightly with hands until it comes together in a firm dough.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Roll out with a floured rolling pin to 4mm thickness. Cut out rounds with a 6cm fluted cookie cutter and place on lined cookie sheets about 3cm apart.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just firm and lightly golden on the edges.
  6. Slide baking paper onto wire racks and leave cookies to cool completely.
  7. Once the biscuits are completely cool melt the white chocolate by placing in a microwave safe bowl and heating in short bursts (about 30 seconds) and removing between each to stir chocolate with a metal spoon. Spread chocolate onto biscuits using a small knife and press into flaked almonds.
  8. Set aside on wire racks until chocolate is completely set.
Ooh fancy!
This weekend has been the perfect melange of sweaty and sweet. I think in life it is that balance of saccharine and salt that makes life so interesting, and worthwhile. There are times when it seems we are living in a salt mine and the tears we cry are bitter and never ending. If you are patient, and you take the time to look you can find the sweet that balances the palate of life. Those moments so beautiful that they wipe the memory of the tears, and the trials away. I hope everyone had a sweet weekend, I can't wait to see what delights lay in store this week.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fallen in Love With...Friday

Every year in August, when winter should be winding down and spring is on our minds and in the fashion magazines, a colder wind starts to blow to remind us that the cold season is not over yet. In Brisbane we call them the Ekka winds; named after the agricultural show that comes to town at the same time every year, bringing livestock, lolly stuffed show bags, fairy floss, the fireman's calendar (all proceeds go to the children's burn unit at the Royal Children's Hospital) and without fail, a massive city-wide dose of the flu.
This week's list is all about comfort, those things that are designed to ward off the last of the winter season, and promise us that warmth is just around the corner.

  • Food is comfort in my mind and when I'm not in the kitchen cooking it, or at the table eating it, or on the couch reading about it; I love watching films about food, or where food plays a major part. For me, this week's television viewing has been all about 'It's Complicated', 'Julie & Julia', 'Chocolat', and, 'Because I Said So'. Inspiration definitely abounds!
  • Even though winter in Brisbane pales in comparison to myriad other cities I still find myself spending a lot of time indoors out of the cold. All this time in the 'great indoors' leads me to thinking about home interiors and decorating so when a post about the 20 Unforgettable American Movie Interiors caught my eye on Apartment Therapy I indulged in a little vicarious decorating pleasure. My favourites Meryl Streep's home from 'It's Complicated' and Cary Grant's amazing cliff hanging home in 'North by Northwest'. 
  • This week I have found myself with a slight obsession (okay so maybe it didn't only start this week) with layer cakes, that decadence seems to be the perfect comfort, whatever the season. Saveur has a beautifully moist chocolate layer cake on offer, with strata of slick shiny chocolate frosting cushioned between three luscious rounds of deep cocoa laced cake. Coconut is the harbinger of summer; cocktails and the scent of sunscreen, so what better than this gluten free coconut layer cake from epicurious to beckon warmer weather to our shores?
  • Finally, the ultimate winter indulgence is to plan an escape to a warmer climate, which this chickpea has done! In three weeks tomorrow I will be taking off for the warm shores of California! To see my beloved Ben, dip my toes in the waters of the other side of the Pacific and soak up some end of summer sun. I can't wait, my suitcase is being progressively packed and I am counting down the days.
This weekend is packed with beautiful adventures too. Tomorrow I am off to high tea with Mama Chickpea and Jess at the beautiful Room with Roses, and on Sunday Jess and I will be taking part in the Brisbane Times 10km, winding our way through this pretty city. Oh, and I have a banana muffin recipe to share too! Happy weekend everyone.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

See Beauty?

The Oxford Dictionary:
Beauty (mass noun): a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form , that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.

Close your eyes for a moment.
Imagine if we lived in a world without sight.
How would we define beauty then?
Which aesthetic sense would be stimulated by the presence of true beauty, without the curtain that sight sometimes draws over our other senses?
If we sensed beauty with our ears would we cry with wonder over the delicate breaking sound each raindrop makes as it hits the pavement, would each note in a symphony paint the brush strokes of a masterpiece worthy of Monet, every word of a song shine with the light of a sunset.
Were beauty felt with the fingertips would the touch of a flower petal transpose its beauty from sight to touch, could the warmth of our hand inside our lover's convey the same intense beauty as looking into their eyes, the brush of a silk dress against our skin be as pretty as wearing it?
If we could taste beauty would pretty be the burst of a ripe sweet strawberry, would glamour be the darkest chocolate melting into bitter sweet bliss on our tongue, would allure be the first summer peach pie with an all butter crust and vanilla ice cream?
If beauty had a scent would the warm yeastiness and earthy browning flour smell of baking bread take the place of great monuments, would the jasmine drifting through a summer night outdo the wonder of the stars, would the tang of the ocean air coming over a bluff be as paradigm shifting as the first time someone lays eyes on the sea?

Perhaps we would sense beauty with our intellectual senses; loveliness would be measured by the size of someone's mind, not the size of their thighs. Mensa candidates would be the new Victoria's Secret models, ground breaking scientists the new celebrities and starlets, great authors the new pin-ups and page three girls. Beauty would be in someone's word and thought, not in the skin deep combination of genes.

I like to think we would sense beauty with our hearts.
In the deepest of places, we would know what true beauty is.
True grace would be what we do for others, in our family, in our community, for humanity.
Allure would be the passion with which someone talks about their life and all the parts it is made of.
Elegance would be the way it feels to move freely, to talk with love, and to hold someone close in your arms.
True beauty would lie in how much of our hearts we could give away, how heavy and light it would grow for others and in each beat reminding us how precious these days are.

So next time you want to look in the mirror, close your eyes.
See beauty in a different way.