Archive for the ‘spring’ Category

Cooking, Sicilian Style!

April 15, 2017

Next week I will be leaving for Sicily, where I will be hosting two back-to-back yoga retreats.  I have been so incredibly busy, with teaching classes and workshops and planning Sicily 2017!  You haven’t seen many blog posts from me, but I hope to post more often these next few weeks!  I am very excited to share this sun-kissed island with this year’s yoga retreat participants.

Last time there in Autumn of 2014, we did a cooking course with the chef Maestro Peppe Barone.  It was a great experience.  He and his staff welcomed us.  We cooked and later ate the fabulous meal we cooked under Chef Peppe’s guidance.  Afterwards, we walked the lovely Baroque town of Modica.  Below are the photos from 2014.  We will be going to the same cooking school with my yoga groups this year.  I sure hope you are not hungry as you see the photos below!  The food that stands out in my mind -and taste buds- are the cannoli!

I am so excited for my yogis!  They are in for a treat.  Of course the food below belonged to the Autumn menu.  The spring menu will be completely different and equally delightful!

The enchanting town of Modica (Sicily)

The enchanting town of Modica (Sicily)

The beautiful interior of the cooking school and restaurant in the heart of Modica

The beautiful interior of the cooking school and restaurant in the heart of Modica.  Beyond the doors on the right is a lovely terrace surrounded by lemon trees.

Michelin Star Restaurant

A Michelin Star Restaurant, Fattoria delle Torri has the honor of having received many awards!

Action!  One of the chef's assistants teaches Don how to make the pasta for the ravioli.

Action! One of the chef’s assistants teaches Don how to make the pasta for the ravioli.

Ricotta Ravioli

Ricotta Ravioli made with the pasta in the previous photo.

And the finished product!

And the finished product!  Perfection.

Making Caponata

Making Caponata.  Every village makes caponata slightly differently! Since we were in Modica, Chef Barone added pure dark chocolate powder to the caponata. When I told my uncle in Grotte about this, he crossed himself twice, saying over and over again incredulously, “Chocolate in the Caponata?” 

An interesting note about Modica.  Modica is known for its chocolate!  When Columbus went to the Americas, Sicily was under Spanish dominion.  Some of the men who traveled to the New World with Columbus were Sicilians from Modica.  They brought back chocolate beans and the ancient Aztecan recipe for making chocolate.  To this day, chocolate is made in Modica using the ancient Aztecan recipe.  View this interesting article on the history of chocolate and Modica.

A serving of caponata. I can almost taste it!

A serving of caponata. I can almost taste it!

Making arancini (rice balls)

Making arancini (rice balls):  Saffron makes them yellow.

The arancini before getting pan fried to become orange-golden like oranges (Arancini refers to "oranges")

The arancini before getting pan fried to become orange-golden like the color of oranges (Arancini refers to “oranges”).  In the center, you may discover melted cheese or a bit of ragu.

Action in the kitchen...making pasta

Action in the kitchen…making pasta

One of the pasta dishes....

This is what the pasta looks like after it is cut into tiny pieces…

One of the meat dishes...

One of the meat dishes…

And what would life be without cannoli?  This was studded with pistachio.

And what would life be without cannoli?  Ok, now I know your mouth is watering! This was filled with ricotta and studded with pistachio nuts.

Week One Group from 2014 sits down to enjoy an incredible meal.

Week One Group from 2014 sits down to enjoy an incredible meal.

Afterwards, we walked the town of Modica to explore and digest! Otherwise, how on earth would we be able to do our afternoon session of yoga?


In Modica, we saw this street called Via Ritiro (Retreat Street) and had to do a yoga pose!

In Modica, Karin and I saw this street called Via Ritiro (Retreat Street) and had to do a yoga pose!

Modica!  It's a jewel of a town.

Modica! It’s a jewel of a town.

A Yogi’s Vernal Equinox

March 26, 2017

About once every six weeks, sometimes more often, I meet with a powerful group of women to explore books on spirituality and/or to have a unique experience with the vast theme of Spirituality.  Before the holidays at the end of 2016, I hosted my group’s Spiritual Book Club.  We hired Rory Link, an urban shaman, author, poet, visual artist, musician, Renaissance man, and friend, who guided us on a Spirit Quest with loud rhythmic drumming and visualizations.  We made wonderful discoveries and we can’t wait to have Rory come back for another round of spirit quests.

On Wednesday evening, my group celebrated the Vernal Equinox with poetry, quotes, and other Spring inspired readings. We also brought to the table a seed or intention that we would like to “plant” for this SPRING season of rebirth.

Colored eggs

Colored eggs (done up with markers and colored pencils)

Michele brought eggs and a chart explaining what various images depict or symbolize.  Me, being me, had to cover my egg with at least one of every image on the list below.  I brought the egg with me to Ocean Shores this weekend.  After doing a lot of gardening and planting of vegetable seeds, I took time to plant the decorated egg!  Rick joined me in planting it right next to my dad’s fig tree, which grows big lush leaves and tiny starts of figs, but has yet to produce a ripe fig in this wet rain forest we call second home.  Together Rick and I shared our intentions for this season of renewal!

What the images symbolize

SHARED READINGS:  We next shared the following readings.  It was pretty magical place for me to be, drawing on the egg and listening to everyone read.  I used to do a lot of art, but, for some reason, I rarely draw anymore.  As I was drawing, I was reminded of how lovely it is to draw.  Below you will find some of our shared readings.  The first three are the ones I read.

One of the spring ritual suggestions I read about is to end your days with prayer.  “The earth is always a good teacher- and especially in spring.  End your days this season with this prayer from the Native American Tradition.”

Earth Teach Me to Rememberby John Yellow Lark

Earth teach me stillness

as the grasses are stilled with light.

Earth teach me suffering

as old stones suffer with memory.

Earth teach me humility

as blossoms are humble with beginning.

Earth Teach me caring

as the mother who secures her young.

Earth teach me courage

as the tree which stands alone.

Earth teach me limitation

as the ant which crawls on the ground.

Earth teach me freedom

as the eagle which soars in the sky.

Earth teach me resignation

as the leaves which die in the fall.

Earth teach me regeneration

as the seed which rises in the spring.

Earth teach me to forget myself

as melted snow forgets its life.

Earth teach me to remember kindness

as dry fields weep in the rain.

Ute, North American

The Gift

Lift one foot. Surrender

Place the other. Claim

Step by step life unfolds behind me

The future beckons me forward

The path wasn’t clear until I chose it.

It will be gone once I have passed.

The gift is in this choice to surrender and claim

This choice to create my life one step at a time.

The gift is right here where I am.

And I found this lovely poem by Mary Oliver called Spring:


a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her—
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.

And from the genius of Goethe:


When I take part in shared readings, I always make discoveries.  The book below is one such gem.  Kristen brought this book and read from it.  The poem is from the book is below.


And here is the poem by Marge Piercy about the promise of spring:


image1 2

And an inspirational quote by our 28th President, Woodrow Wilson:


And lastly, an inspirational spring poem by Li-Young Lee:

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.
From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.


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