Friday, January 31, 2014

It warmed up today. I was so happy to be able to walk to work. It's such a meditation. 
This is a house I pass on my walk- 
There's something about it that I love. I think it's all of the wood. I love to imagine the front windows filled with green plants- this reminds me of a mini greenhouse.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I am quite fond of this Pomegranate White Tea I just bought from Trader Joe's. 
It's delicate and pink, with hibiscus flowers, lemongrass, pomegranate, and a hint of citrus.
 Having a cup is a lovely way to end the evening.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Niall and I usually get to go on dates on Wednesdays. With the Oscars coming up, cold weather continuing, and lots of good movies showing, holding hands in a dark theater is our perfect afternoon right now.  
We went to see Her today. I thought it was a beautiful film about trying to find connection.
I made Pad Thai with tofu and broccoli tonight, using this Post Punk Kitchen recipe. It was rather good.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I love our burrowing kitty. He knows how to keep warm on these cold days.

Monday, January 27, 2014

It's a bitterly cold Monday.

What a good morning to have a big cup of coffee with a friend.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I love Skype. It makes the distance feel not as great. I had the chance to see and chat with my mom (and step-dad in the background) tonight, even though they are in a small town outside of Gainesville, FL and I'm here in Chicago, IL. It was nice. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

My sweet friend Wayra turned four years old this past November. Because of busy schedules, we couldn't have a big birthday party until today. It was wonderful. 

There was storytelling. Here's a photo of Suzanne, Wayra's mama and my good friend, sharing a story with the group...

There was a dance party and singing and live keyboard playing! 
 We started the party with making cool homemade instruments out of recycled materials- so the kids had the chance to shake their toilet paper roll rattles and paper plate tambourines at this time.There was a great moment during "Jingle Bells" where all the kids jumped up and down in unison.
There was a fabulous piñata with ribbons to pull to release the treats, rather than a stick to break it into pieces. Suzanne told me this kind is a Cuban piñata and that the delightful butterfly one we used had been passed from family to family. 

Of course there was a great big fancy cake. 

Wayra says she loved her celebration. I did too!

Friday, January 24, 2014

I love living on Lake Michigan.
This was my view when taking out the recycling:

This morning I'm thinking of my friend Erin, driving herself and her three cats to Maine today. There's a candle going strong on my coffee table for them, as I'm sending them love on their journey. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I am a big NPR fan. Niall got me this cool internet radio awhile back. I love running from the car to the kitchen to finish listening to a program like this one: Fresh Air's interview with Ann Patchett

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Niall and I love to go to this little movie theater down the street from our apartment. Today we went to see The Wolf of Wall Street. Words to describe this movie: hedonistic, excessive, all about greed, full of debauchery. It definitely contains some over-the-top things to get disgusted and upset by - it takes you to a different world and time. It has some great performances and moments. I think I would recommend it, though I felt slightly sick afterwards.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I'm holding my mom in my heart in a big way today. Grateful for our shared teacup tattoo, symbolizing our bond and all the coffee/tea dates we have had over the years. Grateful for this sweet carved bear she gave me - it's made out of honey calcite, which represents clarity of insight and action, confidence, persistence, and intellectual power. Grateful to have such a strong, insightful, joyful woman as my mother.
One of her favorite Rumi quotes is "Let the beauty you love be what you do." She lives that way and inspires me to do the same.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy National Day of Service, in honor and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I just re-read part of King's brilliant Letter From Birmingham Jail. It's a remarkable piece to read.

I left the massage table up last night because Cass loves it so much.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I had a great night with my dear friend Erin. She came over for Reiki and talk and salad and ice cream. 
She is moving to Maine, so this was the last time I am going to see her for awhile. I love this lady. Reiki is a powerful, spiritual hands-on healing method that was first introduced to me by my mom, who teaches and practices it. Erin and I used to work together and had a spark of a friendship. Then, we took Reiki classes from my mom together via Skype and our bond deepened, through lots of Reiki and conversation. I am so grateful I got to share this time with her.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I love the Soda Stream Niall gave me. It's truly a wonderful thing to make sparkling water whenever I want. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Every year I like to do a Burning Bowl ceremony. This is where you intentionally close out the previous year and open up to the possibilities of the new year. On New Year's Eve, I held this ceremony with my sweet friends Suzanne and Wayra. Wayra is four years old and this was her first time doing anything like this. 
We smudged with sage to clear the space. We wrote down what we wanted to let go of in the coming year. My mom, who introduced me to this ceremony, described this part as making a gratitude list for these things we would like to let go of- because they have served us in some way. Then, we burnt these scraps of paper (Wayra was fascinated by this part). We used a candle resting in sand from the lakefront. Then, we bundled up and trudged to the lake to bury the remnants of the scraps of paper on the snowy beach. 

The next part was to think of what we would like to bring into the year. We made a list of the things that we wanted to embrace. These scraps of paper we held onto. It was a lovely ceremony and wonderful to share with a little person. I came home and placed my intentions for the new year in a special place, so that they can be remembered and infused with love throughout the year. 
Something I have learned in my Reiki (a hands-on healing method) training is to light a candle as a prayer of intention. Niall and I have been brainstorming and planning for our future lately. So, I have been lighting candles for these dreams for the year. This morning I did so, while also lighting this little candle with the intention to stay in the present moment while all these plans and dreams are brewing.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Niall took some incredible detailed shots of Cassius today. Oh, how we love this cat.  

While this was going on, I was busily cleaning the day away. Cass likes to keep an eye on what I'm doing.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I got to visit the North Park Nature Center today with a friend. I just love this place. It was snowy today. There was a gray sky. There were animal tracks going across the frozen lake. There was a redness to the plant life and a stillness in the air. We spotted two deer as we were leaving. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Last night I had the chance to go with a friend to see a powerful show put on as part of the Chicago Circus Fest. Amazing! The woman who introduced the two performances said that we would need a baggie to put our brains in afterwards. She was right. Our minds were blown.

The first performance was by a woman from Finland, Ilona Jantti. Her company is Ilmatila and her performance was Muualla/Elsewhere. She interacted beautifully and endearingly through dance and aerial performance with animated images on a screen behind her. Here's a snippet of what she does:

The second performance was out of this world. It was called Smoke and Mirrors and it was by Ricochet, a 
company of two people (Cohdi Harrell and Laura Stokes) based in New Mexico. Chicago Circus Fest's description of Ricochet mentions "poetic acrobatics" and that's exactly what we saw last night.  
Here's a bit of that:

I'm so glad I got to see these two performances! 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Early this morning I made a birthday quiche for a friend at work. So fun. I used this recipe from the wonderful website of vegan goodness Post Punk Kitchen. Delicious.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A dear friend gave me this sweet jade plant for my birthday. Jade plants are known to be symbols of friendship, prosperity, and good luck. I love having it in my kitchen.

Friday, January 10, 2014

My mama has been getting into knitting. She made me this remarkable scarf/shawl for Christmas. 
I absolutely love it.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Today Niall and I had relaxing afternoon at our wonderful neighborhood coffee shop, Metropolis.

For once in my life I didn't want caffeine, so I opted for the lovely Hibiscus tea. 

It was a pretty great date.

I've been thinking of the Chicagoland bees. I hope some of them are staying relatively warm and surviving. Last year, I had the chance to start volunteering with the beekeeping program at Garfield Park Conservatory. This conservatory is an amazing place and I have learned so much. Inspiring and exciting. 
My friend recently drew my attention to this illustration by Hannah Rosengren:  

I absolutely love this print and plan on having it hanging in my home one day. 
It's nice to think about spring right now.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

If you have a cat in your life, I highly suggest you purchase a Da Bird wand toy. Cats absolutely love it! When in motion, it looks like a bird flying through the air and is very exciting for our feline friends. 

It is also wonderful for cats to stalk. 

And sometimes even hold onto for awhile. 

One of my 2014 goals is to spend more time making Cassius' life stimulating. A big way to do this is through playtime. It is easy to get caught up in life and not give him the quality time he needs. Of course all cats need playtime with their humans, but I think this is especially true of single cats who don't have any other cats or dogs to pal around with. Interactive playtime is a daily necessity for Cass. And quite fun for me too!

I love Tuesdays when I get to hang around home - cleaning, cooking, padding around - with Cassius nearby the whole time. I hope Cassius likes it too. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Coldest day since Niall and I  moved here all those years ago. Steam coming off the lake. 

We have the sweetest Christmas tree up this year. We have gone to the wonderful Gethsemane Garden Center for the past few years to pick our special tree out. I'm savoring the last few days with this warm view in our living room. I love coming home, plugging the lights in, and curling up on the couch with Cass and Niall next to the tree. What a cold night- how fortunate I am!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Such a snowy, busy day. The temperature is dropping to -14 or so, with wind chills of about -40. Bitterly cold- colder than it has been here since Niall and I moved here ~11 years ago. I hear that it hasn't been that cold in 20-30 years. Grateful for warm home and heart.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

On my meditative walk to work this morning I spotted this lovely tree. I had Wayra, my favorite four year-old friend, over tonight. We ate hummus, drank tea, told each other stories, and read the classic and wonderful books Madeline & Oh, The Places You Go! (I'm so glad I still have these beloved copies from my childhood on my bookshelf).