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Archive for August, 2011

Good Morning

With the first day of school here and so many things changing… regular routines again, Fall approaching, …. I’m compelled to reconsider the morning. Dear, sweet mornings. This is where it all begins. This is the map of the rest of your day.

With Summer, especially as of late, I am drawn to slow quiet mornings. Coffee on the porch. A stroll around the gardens. Leading in to those lazy days of Summer. Well, why wouldn’t I be. Given this being my second to last Summer vacation with both of my babes at home. Yep. A freshman and a junior. Time is nearly up. I must make the very best of it before it is no more. I don’t mean they will suddenly disappear, but it sure won’t be the same. So I have certainly attempted to balance those early morning training clients, writing sessions, showings and slew of emails and phone calls with, well, slow lazy days with my babes.

Hmmph. How lucky is she? Right? Don’t let me fool you. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. The guilt and anxiety of not performing my regularly full schedule was pure torture. Sort of. As the days grew on it certainly got easier. Almost too easy. But in those first weeks, I battled fret, apprehension, concern… abandonment. And I was up and out of the house by 5:30 every morning. I just had the privilege of returning home a short time later after those early morning training sessions. And so the lazy mornings  recommenced, for a time.

There are so many things I remember in the morning. How fast life passes us by. How unrelenting. The speed at which a child grows. The ease at which we become complacent over even the most important things. This Summer has taught me so very much. To have started with such high hopes, such a long list of will do’s. So many of which turned to simple I-had-hopes-of. It’s quite easy for even the most diligent to find themselves taking days and events for granted.

But back to the matter at hand. Mornings. This my friends is the beginning. The answer and the end. When you start your day with power, with perspective, with drive, you can have it all. Dramatic? I tend to be. But really. If you change your view on the morning you can change your life. You see, how you start your day is how it will play out. Ever have one of those strangely rare mornings where you are up early, don’t turn the television on, exercise, move so productively through your day that everything played out even better than you could expect? That’s what I’m talking about.

I have learned over the years, by trial and error, that when I start my day with meditation, quiet reflection, a good workout, a good breakfast and a great, thankful outlook I am BETTER! I am more focused. I am stronger. I have more energy. I am a better me. Take some time each morning just for you. Even if you must set the alarm 10 minutes earlier. Go somewhere quiet. Do some gentle stretching and give thanks for all you have. Consider where you want to be, what you want to do and how you want your day, your life to look. Try taking a walk or running on that treadmill-slash-clothes hanger. Just leave the ipod on the table. You want to be alone with yourself, your thoughts. Find stillness. Just try it for 3 days. At the end of those 3 days spend some time considering how those days played out. Did you get more done? Were you happier? More focused? Did you feel more grateful?

My friends and clients have never reported back that this was terrible. They hated it. It can be difficult to begin for sure. The bed is warmest and most cozy just before you need to leave it. The pillow fluffed just right. But this is for you. The person, the life you can achieve is far more comfortable than all the down in the world. I often hear meditation is impossible. Sitting still and quiet- boring, minds race, anxiety created from the mere act of trying. I will touch more on meditation in my next post- Finding Zen… or Something Closer to Sanity. For now, find something just for you with no noise.

Consider recruiting your friends to join. You can hold each other accountable. Encourage each other. I don’t mean 5am phone calls, but if a text is necessary then go for it. Some things just work better when you have another playing the same game. Someone to talk to about it. But in the end it is all about you. It is about creating a better you. When we get to know ourselves better, treat ourselves better we become better people. Better mothers, fathers, better friends, better children. We tend to let things roll off us, decide not to fight. We take things in stride, feel peaceful. And ultimately we live better. All that negative energy, all the clutter, all of the things blocking our minds and bodies start to disappear. We make way for good things, positive energy. Our lives change. We live what we create. Create a peaceful, positive you!

It’s a great time to start! Add it to your new back to school – back to reality schedule. And let me know how it goes. Do you already have a routine like this? I would love to hear about it. Inspire us!

Live Well!
~S

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One of my favorite Summer treats (Fall treats, Spring treats…) is definitely Granita!

Icy, fruity goodness perfect on it’s own, topped with a bit of sweetened Ricotta, paired with some fresh fruit…
On sizzling Summer days like we are having now, this is a perfect perfect treat. And they are so easy to make.

Here are some of my favorite recipe

Lemon Granita

1c water
1c water
1 lemon, juice and zest

Heat to dissolve sugar and allow to cool. Place the mixture in a 9×13 baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for one to two hours. Using a fork scrape the frozen top layer into shaved ice. Return to freezer and repeat process every hour or so until the entire contents resembles shaved ice.

Try adding 1/2c limoncello!! You can also blend this with mascarpone for a thicker, more gelato like desert. The previous process will work for all of the following recipes. Although you will not need to heat them all. Only if you are using sugar and no blender to dissolve it.

Watermelon, Lime and Mint Granita

8c cubed seedless watermelon
2 whole limes, juiced
1/2 c mint
1/3c sugar or 1/8c agave

Blend in blender. Strain solids and freeze as before. You can leave out the mint if you prefer. I do sometimes.

Espresso Granita

2c Espresso
1/3c Sugar or because I don’t like things too sweet, 1/8c avage necter
Top this with whipped cream flavored with almond liqueur and shaved dark chocolate!

Lemon Verbena Granita

1 Lemon, zested
4 Sprigs Lemon Verbena
1 T Sugar
1 c Water

Heat the mixture. Remove solids. Allow to cool before placing in freezer.

Sangria Ganita

Use your favorite Sangria. Here is one of mine…

1 bottle Savignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
4 t orange juice
1c peach nectar or Schnapps
1 T lime juice
3T Agave or honey

No need to heat.

I’m sorry I had to forgo photos in this post. It was written a month ago. I had high hopes of making a few of these recipes. It turns out my freezer is far to full to allow for even a pan! I am working on remedying this. Check back for photos.

~S

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Preserving Home

As Summer starts to wind down, each year I begin to have moments of deep reflection. The season is so short here in New Hampshire and the winters so dreadfully long. What did I miss? So many things I never got to. I start each Summer with such high hopes and big goals. Camp fires nearly every night, long days at the beach each week, hikes and swims, barbeques and slow evenings with friends al fresco. But as it so often does, life gets in the way. Camp fires turn into couch and tv time because we are too tired for anything more. Slow evenings turn into late dinners and early bedtimes…. and even earlier wake up calls for more long work days.

They can’t all be perfect, but I do like to make the best of them. A half hour on the porch with my husband and a glass of wine makes the days seem worth while. We spend so much time running from one place to the next, work so hard and so long to fill our homes and lives with gadgets and goods. I’ve learned many lessons from my adventures in life, but one of my favorites, some time ago, yet find myself needing a refresher from time to time. It isn’t the things we have that make a life fulfilled. It is what we do with our time together that really counts. My favorite memories have never involved a television or smart phone, a computer or expensive shoes …ok, maybe some great shoes were involved, but I digress… A happy life, a happy home do not stem from the items within it, but from the people and their love for one another, their time spent together.

If you come to my home you will find your share of gadgets, but those aren’t the things I take pride in. I take pride in the feeling you get. The laughter you hear. I take pride in the gardens I have groomed and nurtured, the jars of sauces and jams I have created, the sense of love and care. My photos are never posed, never fake smiles, “professional” arrangement. They are of OUR times. Real times. Moments in our lives that mean something. We do not eat from boxes, in front of the television. Each night I make a large meal and we eat together, at a real table. Though nicked and dinged, battered and chewed, this table holds meaning. It is where we gather at the end of our days and get to know each other deeper. Share our experiences. Learn from each other. Laugh together- my favorite.

When I think of home I see a place not perfectly pretty or stocked with stuff. I see a place loved, lived in. It’s the simple things in life really, that make me feel at home. It’s cooking for my family, growing food that I know is safe, fresh, nutritious. It’s the curtains in the windows and pillows on the couch that I stitched myself. And though the dings on the wall and gouges in the floors tend to drive me mad, I’m learning to take them in stride. As a real estate agent I have been in hundreds of houses. Million dollar houses with pools and hot tubs, televisions in the bathroom, expensive furnishings. It’s always the country house with gardens and well used kitchen tables that warm my heart. Children’s height marked on trim, herbs drying on a rack, bowls of fresh picked vegetables on the counter.

Have you noticed how unhappy the world has gotten? How so many are miserable, only for not having a better car or bigger house? There was a time when these things didn’t matter. When happiness meant returning home each afternoon to a large meal, gathered with friends and family. Home. Old fashion, laid back, simple.

I am doing my best to preserve home. That simple, comfortable, laid back side of life. Where I can be found in the garden, dancing in the kitchen, covered in flour and a silly apron. With shelves of glowing, colorful preserves, herbs hanging, fresh-cut flowers next to the bed and hand-made goodies everywhere. A place where time stands still. Where those I love come together and forget the world. Where nature thrives and it is understood that it must. For without it, we can not be. Where magic radiates. Where music sings and fires burn.

That’s where you will find me.

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Garden Lessons

I have learned many things from my gardens. Many hard lessons about gardening.

Some lessons new and old-

  • When you think you have watered enough, water a little more
  • Never trust the rain…. or the weather man
  • Plant more tomatoes… and basil
  • Compost is your friend
  • Hard work pays off
  • Sweat washes away troubles
  • Don’t forget the Epsom salt
  • Carry a good knife
  • Plant Lavender for luck
  • Failures are just lessons. Learn.
  • Keep a garden journal. You really can’t remember it all.
  • Rotate your crops
  • You can never have enough canning jars
  • Tend your strawberries before the slugs do
  • Harvest your own seeds
  • Don’t be afraid to cut your herbs often
  • Farmers have always done it that way for a reason
  • Trust your instincts
  • Pay constant attention. It only takes a day.

Next year I will-

  • Plant potatoes, kale, pattypan squash and [insert yumminess here]  -all of which did not get planted this year …and of course more varieties of tomatoes!
  • Not forget to mulch
  • Get better sprinklers

Check back for updates…..

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Recently, a friend has been suffering from some severe strep throat/pain issues. Here is a recipe for an all natural remedy.

Brit, this one is for you….

Lemon Honey Gargle 

1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup warm water

Place lemon juice in a cup, add honey second. The honey will dissolve easier in the juice. Stir. Next add the warm water and stir until fully dissolved. Be sure the water is very warm to help. Allow to cool and gargle for 20-30 seconds. Repeat every hour.

You can add the antimicrobial effects of garlic by gently simmering a fresh clove in the water first. It won’t taste quite as pleasant and chances are you will use it less often, however.

Live Well!
~S

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Has it ever happen to you? You wake, stroll, unsuspecting to the kitchen for your first cup of morning joe… when BAM! You are attacked by an angry swarm of nasty little creatures- Fruit Flies!

Ok, the only one really angry here is me, but with damn good reason. Those things are disgusting! Nuisances. Dive bombing precious glasses of wine, feasting on prize garden bounty, multiplying seemingly mid-air. I hate them I tell you. Hate.

Well, today it happened to me. There I am, minding my own business. Just hoping for a pick me up after staying up with my daughter until 2am. Far past my latest bedtime. I swear, it was like finding myself in one of those cheesy B movies. Attack of the Killer Fruit Flies!

GAME ON!

Let me tell you how it went down. It was beautiful.

I started with the vacuum. Seriously. Take the hose and go to town! You can snatch the creeps right out of mid-air!  Mine has this great handle and long metal tube. It’s like holding a rifle. I feel like I’m stalking prey. I am. It’s a sight. I get this crouched stance, determination. My family, living with me. The stories they could tell.

Up next, a pile of rags, bottle of vinegar and water and some essential oil. As I perused my supply of oils, peppermint called out to me this time. Clean, natural, chemical free, zero product. There is nothing like a bug in my house to make me feel like everything needs cleaning, let me tell you. So I did. Every cabinet and surface available.

Then a bit of tea tree oil mixed with water sprayed around… ok, everywhere to keep any pesky critter from entering and a glass of apple cider vinegar with a couple drops of dish liquid for good measure.

Oh, and Buddy Guy. To sing me some sweet, soulful blues to soothe my temporarily angry, murderous soul.

At current, I have won the battle. There are no sightings of flying pests and only one drowned in the glass of apple cider vinegar. And the house smells minty fresh. I am victorious. For now.

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Remember my new bathroom curtain? Remember I mentioned having more ideas for the material? Well, here is one.

When I bought my new iPhone 4 months ago I also purchased this great case. Rubber with a sweet fabric front of black and white plaid. Love. But soon it became dingy and rather embarrassing. A quick wash in the kitchen sink with a bit of dish soap and it was back to new. Sweet.

Ah, but only so many washes would hold up. Before long it was a mess. The fabric was falling off. It was unacceptable. We pressed on. Until finally there was no saving it. And it looked like this…

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Bleck.

But no more! So back to that sweet material I found and thus made the fabulous curtain from. Ideas. Lovely ideas. But will they work? We shall see.

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A bit of spray adhesive. An exacto knife. Determination. And wa-lah!

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A new, and if I do say so myself, fabulous home made iPhone case.

I have always been one who sought after the unusual. Loves the unique. This makes me super happy. No one has one like it!

…..terrible photos, but it’s 1am.

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