Holiday rehab

We are six days post-Christmas and I have been comforting myself with yoga and chocolate. It's not that I am saddened by the passing of Christmas. I am quite relieved that it is over. Not surprisingly, I dived into the decorating, the cooking and the handmade gifts with too much fervor and now I need to rest...on a beach, somewhere tropical. Since that is not happening, I am substituting a continuous rotation of yoga and chocolate like you might do with heat and ice on an injury. I figure one of them is healthy, so I can't be doing too much damage.
Pictured above is a closer look at the advent calendar which I posted about here.  And below are some of the other decorations that I made, copying ideas I found on Pinterest.

What does your holiday rehab look like?


Morning list of grievances and appreciations

Morning list of grievances:
  1. Please don't throw random broken plastic boxes in the recycling. They are not recyclable.
  2. The dog is practically a skeleton--112 in people years. Please don't leave him outside in the cold at 6:30 am
  3. When I call to quickly ask you something please don't question me about my irrational comments as my three year old is screaming at me and the baby is demanding food, and I still havent even had tea or coffee.
  4. Please don't hide small morning essential items like the teapot strainer in the bottom of the dish drying rack below ten pounds of loud pots and pans. This makes it even harder for me to get my first cup of tea.
Morning list of appreciations:
Thank you...
  1. For staying up extra late to do the last of the dishes so I could wake up to a clean kitchen. 
  2. For feeding the dog and letting out the chickens so I didn't have to walk out there in the cold.
  3. For setting up curb-side trash pick-up so the garage is no longer monopolized by a mountain of recycling.
  4. For being available to answer my call about the trash schedule and texting me with the answer (so I could take care of the screaming 3 year old).
  5. For loving my ancient dog as if he'd been with you for 16 years (and cleaning up his poo in the middle of the night without too much complaining).
  6. For loving me even when I'm at my worst.
FYI: not recyclable.


Bodhi turns one! (and the holiday preparations...)

 Bodhi had his first birthday this week and we threw a small get together to celebrate. Of course, Jasona and I worked so hard all day that by the time the party came neither of us took photos! I blame him (of course) because he is, in fact, a photographer by trade.... but I should know better, because he never takes photos in this type of situation. Which I guess means that I need to do it and stop expecting him to do it. Oh, expectations. You get me every time.

The cake looks horrible against our rental's horrendous faux painted walls (are you getting a sense of my mood this evening?)...but it was delicious. And gluten free! This Vanilla Bean cake is literally made with white beans (and a dozen eggs)! I highly recommend it.  I doubled the recipe here, and made a layer cake. The frosting is buttercream: butter, sugar, and cream. I used this recipe--not overly sweet.

Finn has been waiting for this moment all night.
 You can see our advent calendar in the background-- Idea from Desi. She sent me the animal images. I used iron on transfers on muslin bags from this tutorial. That was my first iron on transfer experience and damn, there is a learning curve! I nearly quit after 3 shoddy numbers and multiple trouble-shooting google searches, but picked it up the next day and figured it out. Persistence has always been my strength. (I have many weaknesses, which I've been examining all day today-- more on that later).

And our tree... I love it. Chopped down by Jason, it is perfect. Finn and I made the little owls and Jason and I wrapped stars in yarn. It took me 3 weeks to get the lights right because I had 2 faulty sets. (What a mind-snapper* that is. It's cheaper to buy a new strand then to actually fix them.)

Snowflakes are hanging from above. Do you love making them? If not, look at this explanation on how to fold the paper. Why didn't I learn this in school? When I teach school again I will be certain to teach how to cut snowflakes--even if it's college. After learning how to make the proper folds I was a snowflake making maniac! I literally went to sleep visualizing patterns of how to cut complex flakes. (I am a little insane, and a nerd if you haven't noticed.)

Alas, there are two more days until Christmas and I have yet to manufacture (craft, if you will) about 10 gifts. The two small boys who call me 'mama' are no help in this department. I will not stress about it. This is fun, right? Right.

Yes. There will be gluten free cinnamon buns on Christmas morning along with baked eggs and pumpkin lattes. My mom always served us cinnamon buns as we sleepily emptied our stockings. This is a tradition I want to carry on.
I miss you mama.

But enough about me...what about you?

*my dad's term.  I miss him too. But he's just across the country, and fairly active in cyberspace so I'll see him soon.


Mystical Encounters Part 1: La Virgen de Guadalupe spoke to me in Mexico and I almost forgot.

My mac has been on the fritz with a psychotic track pad. I nearly threw the machine across the room the other day so there was no way I could possibly do my posts this week. I started  3 times only to have the curser randomly select text, click on links, close windows, etc. It's still not fixed *sigh*; I'm not sure what to do.

But enough about my techno troubles. Let's talk about the Virgin Mary.

December 12th was my mom's birthday (she would have been 65) and also El Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe, a huge celebration in Mexico and Latin America honoring the 'goddess' of the americas.  I love the story of the native Mexican, Juan Diego, who--in 1531--encountered the Virgin Mary on a hilltop. I won't go into the details, which you can read here, because I really want to tell you about the two encounters I had in Mexico with women who happened to be channels for the Virgin Mary.

Yes, that's right. I said "channels for the Virgin Mary".

At this point (if you don't know me well) you may be wondering if I'm some sort of devout Catholic or new age junky. Not at all. I just happen to attract psychics. I grew up Roman Catholic in a parish with a liberal priest and a family that didn't force me to go to church or  to believe in religious doctrines. I don't have the normal hang-ups of a "recovering Catholic", but I also don't practice the religion anymore (or any religion for that matter).

More pertinent background: 
Since I was a young child I've been inclined to have 'mystical experiences'--times when I felt an extreme sense of merging with something beyond my 'self', or to use a more common term-- 'out of body experiences'. (More about these so called mystical encounters  in future posts).

Here is the story of how I got an audience with the Virgin Mary:
Eleven years ago, a friend of mine offered me a space in her house in Mexico to live for a year. I was writing my graduate thesis and going through a difficult break up, so  I jumped at the chance (even though I didn't speak a word of Spanish at the time). Odin (my dog) and I packed up the truck and my brother flew out to California to drive with me to my new home in Mexico. I found a job teaching at a bilingual school soon after I arrived.
packed and ready to go.

It was a lonely, difficult time (albeit exciting and adventurous). My heart ached and I felt unsure of where my life was headed--a typical twenty-something dilemma for a woman of my generation. Diana, my Mexican host and friend, invited me to go to a fringe Catholic prayer group. She wasn't religious at all, but a friend of hers was.  I couldn't understand much of anything they were praying about (except that they often said prayers that were familiar to me--'Our Father', Hail Mary' and the like). They would pray and pray out loud in a group and even begin speaking in tongues. Because I didn't understand the language it was like meditation for me. The clearing of my mind, the focus, the energy of the other people-- was transportive.

I was at one of the prayer groups at someone's house when a woman (known to be a channel for the Virgin Mary) started to speak to me as Mary. There were perhaps 30 people there, so I don't know why she chose me (unless it was because I was the only gringa in the room). I still didn't know much Spanish and she spoke quickly and with emotion, so I didn't catch much. But there was a man with a recording device getting every word. A couple of weeks later he gave me a typed out transcript of what she said. It was personal, with some details of my childhood which seemed odd for a stranger to know.

I was skeptical; I joked about it (and still do), because it sounds insane and illogical,  but I also know there's more to existence than sanity and logic.

Odin at the hilltop shrine
Sometime around  December 12th of the same year I encountered another woman known to be vehicle for Mary. We were at one of those Mexican hilltop shrines drinking chapurrado and eating tamales (yum). It was dark and the fire was crackling and creating the kind of ethereal light that tends to make people look magical. She didn't speak any English but she began to throw in English words here and there--telling me that I needed to 'help the children'. Her face seemed to change completely in quality as she spoke--becoming placid and quite beautiful. 

I didn't stay with the fringe Catholic prayer group, but I was grateful for the spiritual energy they shared with me. They had their own path, and I clearly didn't share their beliefs. I don't know what the channeling is all about. I guess I'd call myself agnostic when it comes to this sort of experience. 

I do know that it opened me up to acknowledge the mysticism and spirituality present within me. I was finished with the adolescent and young adult view that I had things figured out and I was ready to embrace the idea that I know relatively nothing. I needed to let my'self' fall apart in order to experience peace.

It was a beautiful feeling and for that, I am grateful to "Our Lady of Guadalupe".

I need to cultivate my spiritual practice again-- give it more time and love. I feel like it's been stored away in the closet collecting dust. I'm ready to be good to myself again and open it up.
How about you? 

I can't believe he's almost 16 now. So sweet.


I'll miss you Candy Cane Joe-Joe's.

I thought living a one hour drive from the nearest Trader Joe's might save me this holiday season, but after a long day in the car* with two boys that wouldn't sleep, I broke down. They were stacked in a monumental display at the end of an aisle, their pink & red striped boxes flirting with me. I was weak; my stomach was empty. I tossed a box into the cart, Jason needs these, right? I don't know if we'll be back here before the holidays --they might run out. I tossed another box into the cart and contemplated a thrid. I won't eat too many. I'm supposed to be on a gluten free, sugar free, candida diet. I can't eat them.  

Well, maybe just a few.

Jason stops after two. "Any more than two makes me sick." So he says. I wish I had that reaction. For me, it's a minimum of four. I don't know what it is, but I find them extremely addictive. I could try claiming that it's because I've been on such a restricted diet, but it happens every year. 

oh, joe joe's.
And sure enough, I had a full blown allergy attack last night--I haven't had one that intense in months. I'm blaming the Joe's. It's not the Joe's fault, of course. They are fabulous and you should, by all means, have a few. It's just that I can't tolerate wheat or sugar at the moment. I still have more healing to do. But one day I will. I am determined.

*On Sunday, we drove to Tahoe and back--7 hours round trip in one day to look for tele ski boots, with a 3 year old and an 11 month old baby in the car. I'm not sure what we were thinking, but it worked out. Poor kids.


A foraged holiday wreath

After posting daily for the month of November I needed a few days off. I guess that's how I found the time to make this wreath last week. What else did I do with all of my extra time??? Not sure.

I've been inspired by images on Pinterest to make all kinds of holiday decorations with natural items that I can find in my backyard or close by. I've never been much of a "crafter" (as I mentioned in this post), but I've always wanted to be. I find it to be relaxing and creative--kind of like cooking.

Here are links with tutorials for variations of the twig wreath: 1 & 2.

Next time I would wrap the cardboard with some natural twine. I didn't realize that it would show as much as it did.

How about you? Do you decorate your living quarters for the holidays? Are you cooking up anything delicious? I'm always looking for more ideas...

Happy December!

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