Change the Scent of Your Life

My apartment is a whole National Park full of animal, earthy smells.  A chicken carcass rotting away in the trash can; dirty diapers piling on top of it.  Dirty socks left in the living room.  More dirty clothes in the bathroom. And although we took care of the trash before leaving for vacation, each scent left its print and we closed the house down to trap them there.  Coming home from vacation to these musty, old smells left me feeling down and I thought to myself, I need to create a fresh house scent!  I need to Change the Scent of My Life!  And then I spiraled into a whole marketing business crazy ideas because I loved the phrase, Change the Scent of Your Life so much, but that is for another blog post.  How my mind wanders.

scent of homeI love entering a home that smells wonderful.  That comforting feeling makes me want to hang out in that space.  I love smelling food when dinner is cooking.  I don’t like smelling food  previously cooked.  If you live in a newer home, your smell is probably more pleasant than a home that’s housed many families, each a thread weaving a tapestry ode to the Smells of Life.  My apartment has housed many families for many decades, and these families tended to stay a long time.  We’ve been here for 11 years. The tapestry’s in tatters; it’s not the freshest smelling place.

Scent is the first sense that’s activated when we’re born and is deeply connected to our emotional state, making the sense of smell a far greater influence on our behavior than we realize. I want the smells in my home to say, Hey there, Mable Nay! Hey there husband and Redbird!  Let’s all chill out together and relax and breathe clean, good smells!

I want to make my own fragrance because A. I can and B. Plug Ins and store-bought sprays kind of freak me out.  Although I’m sure the chemicals in those aren’t concentrated enough to cause any serious health damage, these products wind up as waste in landfills, as well as money in the pocket of corporate America.  I prefer to make my own soothing scent.

After doing some research into combinations of essential oils and mood, I decided on oils that would conjure serenity and good vibrations,  and create a scent that when people walk in my home they think, wow! this house smells good!

When combining essential oils, I like to use the 30-50-20 solution: 30% Top notes/50% Middle Notes/20% Base Notes.  And I rarely mix more than three oils at a time because I am a beginner and I like to keep it simple. Don’t waste your oils!

The 4 oils I have chosen to experiment with are:

Frankincense– Base – Woody/Spicy

Ylang ylang – Base/Middle – Fresh/Floral

Lavender – Middle/Top – fresh/herbal

Bergamont – Middle/Top – fresh/citrisy/slightly floral

Project in Process:

First combination: I will mix ten drops consisting of Frankincense, Ylang ylang and Lavender and let them melt together for 24 hours or so.  I will sniff and adjust until I find the right combination, and use it for my house spray; 10 drops of essential oil per 8 ounces of water.  I highly recommend playing with essential oils; mixing them up and finding  a scent to enhance the mood of the home.  You can find a lot of information on essential oils on AromaWeb.

For my house spray, once I find my perfect combination, I will spray it in every room and let it soak into the curtains and the walls and the wood.  Hopefully, we can freshen things up around here.

 

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A Toothsome Smoothie

Smoothie2I am excited to participate in a recipe assignment – #beautydetoxrecipe  – as a part of Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox Community.  I read her first book a few years ago, The Beauty Detox Solution, and found it practical and inspirational.

This blog assignment is to make a smoothie.  I happen to love smoothies and haven’t been eating very well, and could use a good dose of fruit and herbs.  I got to thinking, what fruit and herbs pair well together?  And then I googled it. If interested in Fruit and Herb pairings, the Blog ‘Organic Authority‘ is a good place to start, and the only place I ventured because I felt satisfied.

I chose parsley as my base green herb because it is easily accessible on my back porch.  I did a quick little search to see what suggestions Organic Authority had for me for parsley:

Parsley is one of the least “sweet” of the leafy herbs, but it still pairs with certain summer fruits. For best results, use parsley with tropical fruits and rich, robust seasonings like ginger. Pair with:”

Bananas
Coconuts
Grapefruits
Mangoes
Pineapples
Summer melons

This is looking good already!  I have bananas, ginger and parsley .  I could make a smoothie just out of this, and a a squeeze of lemon from the half of lemon in my fridge.  But I want to do a little more.

Smoothie1

Smoothie Recipie

1 banana (I almost always have bananas, fresh or frozen)

1 mango (took the Redbird on a walk and picked up at the corner store)

1 lime worth of juice (took the Redbird on a walk and picked up at the corner store)

a handful of chopped parsley (growing in the neighbor’s herb garden)

1.5 cups H2O

Throw ingredients in to high quality blender, and here’s where I give a shout out to my Vitamix, and blend until smooth.  If you are particular, put parsley and ginger in first with water. Blend on low, then add mango.  Continue to blend and increase speed, then add banana, and finally add lime juice, then blend on high for 30 seconds to one minute.

Enjoy! This made a mouth-watering smoothie, reminiscent of a delicious margarita!

Dear Travel

Travel pic

Blue Angels- taken from our roof in Chicago during an air and water show.

When I was young, I always pictured my life with you, Travel, moving around the world as nomads- hoping trains and freighters, writing stories about our adventures together.  That relationship, like many of youth, did not pan out. Although I love my life now, I wouldn’t mind reviving that passion between us, Travel.  I miss our sense of adventure.

I WANT to have the relationship we always dreamed of having, but I have a few modifications now, Travel.  I mean, I’m older, much older, and I have responsibilities.  Sure, I have a good time on vacation.  But I don’t LIKE the actual act of traveling, unless it is a roadtrip with days and days ahead to drive.  I like it when you are good old RoadTrip Travel.  But Airplane Travel, being around you gives me horrible anxiety.  Embarrassing amounts.  It’s like I think you are going to beat me in public, Airplane Travel. It’s like I expect you to give me a big old black eye while everyone stands around and stares from the eyes in the back of their heads, because they don’t want to look directly at me,  and these bystanders are shaking their heads against their own fears of an Airplane Travel beatdown.

And now, with RedBird, well, you don’t even take pity on me.  You just go on being your old Airplane Travel rude self.  And yet you make my heart race and I feel sweaty when I’m with you, and you almost always take us to an awesome location.  I just wish we had more time together.  Correction, I wish I had more time for Vacation.

That is how I want it to be between us now, Travel, you escorting me to my True Love, Vacation.  There, I said it.  Dreams change.  Don’t cry, Travel.  Maybe we’ll end up together when we are old.  When I have more time to spend with you. I’ll say a little prayer for the possibility.

Simple Like a Country Song

It’s a rainy Saturday morning; 10:30.  Redbird is napping.  My love is working for the weekend, as he often does and it works out because we require very little daycare.  The roof is leaking through the bedroom and kitchen ceilings.  And I have to make a confession I love Blade Shelton.  Or Sheldon.  I need to look that up.  And I think I might love country music.  This is something I never even considered, but I might be a country girl.

20120723_211701When I am home alone with Baby Bird, and here is another confession, we watch a lot of You Tube music videos.  Once we watched an entire Beyonce concert, and let me tell you, Beyoncé PERFORMS! I don’t really know many Beyonce songs, and I could never afford a ticket to her concert, but I’m sure it’s worth every penny, if you like good concerts.  I don’t really like going to concerts that much.   But on Saturday, when trapped in my leaky apartment alone with my daughter, I feel like I can have my own, comfortable, private showing of YouTube videos and orchestrate whatever concert I want.  And today, it is a concert of Modern Country Stars.  And I am lost in a long story of simple country life.

Maybe it has to do with spending ages 14-26 living mostly in Nebraska, where I actually rode in the middle of the front and in the back of pick-up trucks, listening to Lynard Sknyard yelling, Turn it Up!”  Beer bonging in headlights from cars and trucks blaring Steve Miller Band.  Bonfires by lakes and rivers and in cornfields.  Nights spent like this drip country into your soul, like an IV of morphine, making life seem simple and happy.

“Rain makes corn; corm makes whiskey; whiskey, whiskey gets my baby feeling frisky, washing all our worries down the drain, rain is a good thang.”  Some lyric by an experienced country song writer. I would agree.  I like rain.  I will let it remind me to keep life simple, like a country song.

“An ocean sky with white-capped clouds that made driving to you a high seas adventure.  You’ll always be Nebraska to me.”  A lyric by me, an inexperienced song writer feeling the soul of simple.

 

Art Friday: Paper Cranes

A photoshopped picture of a crane on a string of cranes. This is from the baby shower. I still have some hanging in my living room.

In the Spring of 2012, I had a miscarriage.   I didn’t know I wanted a child, but after finding out I was pregnant, I was overjoyed. I was so overjoyed, that I blurted out to my best friend, ‘I’m pregnant!’ at the tender stage of 6 weeks.  She gave me an ‘Are you kidding look?’  she was also 6 weeks pregnant.  Four of my high school friends were pregnant at the same time, and we were all 38.  So when I miscarried at 10 weeks, it was sad with an extra side of bitter.

Skip ahead 28 weeks later, I’m throwing a baby shower.  Please note: I WANTED to throw the baby shower. And I decided to make my own decorations.  Paper Cranes.  At the time, I didn’t know anything about paper cranes, except that I knew I could figure it out, they looked cool strung together, and I had a ton of brightly colored magazine paper waiting for a purpose.  So several weeks before the shower, I dove headfirst into a pool of YouTube videos on the Art of Origami’ing Paper Cranes, and I became a Boss.

What I didn’t realize until later, when my friend shed a tear over her love of the cranes and she shared with me the meaning of Origami Cranes, was just how special these cranes are.

From Wikipedia:

“An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. Some stories believe you are granted eternal good luck, instead of just one wish, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury. This makes them popular gifts for special friends and family. The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures (others include the dragon and the tortoise) and is said to live for a thousand years: That is why 1000 cranes are made, one for each year. In some stories it is believed that the 1000 cranes must be completed within one year and they must all be made by the person who is to make the wish at the end. Cranes that are made by that person and given away to another aren’t included: All cranes must be kept by the person wishing at the end.

A thousand paper cranes are traditionally given as a wedding gift by the father, who is wishing a thousand years of happiness and prosperity upon the couple. They can also be given to a new baby for long life and good luck. Hanging them in one’s home is thought to be a powerfully lucky and benevolent charm.”

During that time,  I focused on folding bits of paper, creating cranes.  Beautiful cranes.  These make for awesome decorations.  I used old magazines, National Geographic/Southern Living/Catalogs etc., I was saving for a project.  I found a great project and these cranes helped me heal.   Making them and stringing them together became an after work ritual; I’d make ten and string them together; make ten and string them together. I’m not sure if I made 1000, more or less.  Had I known the tradition, I would have made 1000 exactly.

This process, working with my hands to create something beautiful, opened me back up to new possibilities, and one of those cranes granted me a wish.

I spent a lot of time singing THIS SONG, but substituting the word crane for many of the words… try it.  You will see what I mean.

This is my Friday Shout out to the Art of Origami Crane Making.

One Suitcase, Three People

Da Beach!It’s a big one, this suitcase.  The size of which could fit a small adult human, crouched in the fetal position, with a few clothes packed around him/her for extra padding.  But we aren’t trying to sneak anyone on our vacation, we are just trying to pack 1 suitcase for 3 people. One of which is a baby, and God knows babies need ALOT of stuff.

We are prepping for a wedding in the Caribbean. To bring, or not to bring, that is the question.  Five nights, 4 full days, how much do we really need?

Mable = 3 beach outfits; 1 pair pajamas; dress for rehearsal dinner; dress for wedding; 2 nursing tanks; 1 nursing bra; 7 pair of underwear (why are underwear considered ‘a  pair of’ when they are only one?) 3 casual outfits, of which I can wear for the plane rides.  Socks; tennis shoes; flip-flops; dressy sandals.

Hubs = 2 beach outfits; one pair of pants for rehearsal and wedding; one shirt for rehearsal; one shirt for wedding; jeans; slacks or shorts (he generally doesn’t like shorts); four shirts to mix and match; 5 pair of underwear. Socks; tennis shoes; flip-flops; sandals.

Baby Bird = 4 beach outfits (she has so many cute swimsuits!); 6 onsies; 3 pants; 4 outfits; 1 dress for wedding; swim diapers; regular diapers; diaper cream; wipes; toys; sippy cup; baby food

Toiletries = toothbrushes/toothpaste; soap; make-up; coconut oil (I use it for everything: moisturizer, make-up remover; shaving, etc.) rubber bands for hair; comb; bobby pins; baby wash clothes; razors for me; razors for him; shaving cream for him; first aid kit.

We are also packing some food because we opted out of the All Inclusive package.  It was going to run us an extra $100 per day per person, and although there was a time when we would have easily drank our way through that extra $100 each, Baby on board.  And really , when you think about it, an extra $800 for a couple for all inclusive?  That seems like a lot when I am trying to budget.  We can definitely eat and have a few drinks on a lot less than that!

Food: Nuts; dried Fruit; baby food; baby oatmeal; packs of oatmeal for mom and dad; Electric Hot Water pitcher; Coffee; French Press; 2 bowls for mom and dad; one bowl for Baby Bird; 2 spoons for mom and dad; 1 spoon for Baby Bird.

What am I forgetting?  Will this all fit? Stay tuned!

Weekend Reflection

B&B in WIMeditation:  Do you meditate? I used to meditate like a daily religion.  I listened to podcasts of self-guided meditations and just zoned out for 20-40 minutes each day.  I never feel asleep, I just entered this trance-like state and really relaxed.  I continued this practice throughout my pregnancy and often wonder if that is why the Universe gifted me with such a chilled out baby. Sure, Baby Bird knows how to throw down with a fit, but overall, she is the Rebirth of Slick .

A.B. (After Bird), life turned upside down.  Everyone with kids said, ‘Life will never be the same,’ and I thought I understood what that meant.  After turning 40 then having my baby, I realized my life stayed pretty much the same for the last 20 years, with the usual ups and downs,  and no cliché advice could have prepared me for the changes.  I am still comprehending that indeed, my life will never be the same.  I will never have so much time to waste again.  Since the Bird arrived 6 months ago and adjusting to Life 4.0, I’ve meditated maybe twice a month. And I can feel the difference.  So I’m bringing back the daily meditation. Every. Day. 15-20 minutes.  I’ll let you know in two weeks how I’m progressing on this commitment. Two years ago, I entered deep into this awesome state-of-mind. I was doing deep breathing and chakra meditations; I was meditating with isochronic tones.  I was walking 5 miles 3-4 times a week, and attending a yoga class twice a week.  I was drinking green smoothies I made in my Vitamix and eating an apple a day.  I was ON FIRE!  People wanted to hang around me;  I wanted to hang around me! My intuition was spot-on and I noticed connections. I felt amazing. During this time I made a list for when I inevitably fell out,  to remind myself of the daily accomplishments I could achieve for a calm mind and a positive disposition. Five EveryDay Accomplishments to Make Life Better

  1. Meditate
  2. Break a Sweat
  3. Write 1200 Words/Art Project
  4. Clean for 20 Minutes
  5. Make and Drink a Green Smoothie

B.B. (Before Bird) I was hard on myself for having so much time and not enough motivation to use it wisely. I know now that I must take things slowly.  If I want to accomplish a strong and healthy life, consistent, small steps will get me there.  So I will begin with Everyday Accomplishment #1:  Meditate. I will start where I began several years ago.  This is the first website I used for Guided Meditation.  Some might find it “cheesy” but if you get past your mind’s critique and really allow yourself to listen and follow along, you will find some relaxation.

Scroll down this page and start a journey to your own peace of mind.

Art Friday

The backdrop of this one is from the Red Light district in Amsterdam. The images are from 7000-5000 BCE (the fertility idol and the pieces of pottery).

The backdrop of this one is from the Red Light district in Amsterdam. The images are from 7000-5000 BCE (the fertility idol and the pieces of pottery).

In elementary school, every Friday was Art Class. I not only looked forward to Friday as the last day of the school week,  sleepoversFridayNightVideospizzafreedom, I also looked forward to art class, my favorite class, signaling a time to relax, create, and prepare for the weekend.

Back then, art seemed so simple; so approachable.  A sheet with directions and set of supplies for everyone.  Sometimes you had to share supplies, and that was part of the fun.  Sometimes the assignment was boring, and sometimes it engaged me fully.  I want to re-engage with art and I’m bringing myself back to Art Friday.  We will see what that means going forward. What I hope to do is provide simple ideas that others can use to create art and engage in a visual expression of ideas. Or just inspire people, including myself, to pay more attention to art in the world.

Overall, I would like to create weekly projects to document and share on Art Fridays, or share artists who currently inspire me.  But today I am sharing with you some art I did B.B. (Before Baby), when I could spend an entire afternoon on a Saturday, sometimes an entire weekend, becoming absorbed in an idea or obsessing over a website, as I did for quite some time with The Met’s website.

Several winters ago, I obsessed over timelines and the timeline of human history, specifically art. In the pictures below, the cow, the woman, and the bird are all pieces arranged in Photoshop in an effort to place (very) old art objects in common settings .  Below is the main website I used to find the ancient art /artifacts to collage into my pictures: (honestly, I’ve spent hours totaling days on this site alone)  http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/

Step 1:  I identified from this site pieces I wanted to use, then I found backdrops on which to place the pieces.  The pieces inspired the overall ideas.

Step 2:  I photoshopped images together to create a collage.

Back then I wanted to take this project further by recreating the photoshopped images into actual handmade collages- made with bits of paper and such, and also to write accompanying essays on the pieces from the past and how each piece fit in to my collages, but that just didn’t happen, for whatever reason.

Question: Are photoshopped images really art?

Define: Art – Google Says:  “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

Bottom Line:  Don’t let yourself be bogged down by questions such as  What is Art.! Express yourself by making things and you will see life differently.

 

These pieces are from 5000-4000 BCE and placed on a backdrop I found on google awhile back and saved because I loved it! There was no 'artist' listed, and it is just a chalk drawing on asphalt- if you look closely, you can see the footprints on the pavement.

Pieces from 5000-4000 BCE and placed on a backdrop of a chalk drawing on asphalt if you look closely, you can see the footprints on the pavement.

The white bowl and stone bird are from around 8000 BCE. The bowl is from Syria, though the bird is from Papua New Guinea- nowhere near Syria, I google searched trees in Syria to place the bird in the bowl (nest). The bowl is made from Alabaster and is very beautiful, which is why I chose to place it in a native backdrop, as opposed to placing the bird in a tree from Papua New Guinea...

The white bowl and stone bird are from around 8000 BCE. The bowl is from Syria, though the bird is from Papua New Guinea.

4000-2500 BCE- The red bowl with feet (I love LOVE this piece!) is Egyptian, the nephrite (a form of jade) disc is from the Jiangsu or Zhejiang Province, China, and the Kneeling Bull is from Southwestern Iran. The water vessel necessitated a water backdrop, and the idea of surfing to collect h2o just makes me laugh...Work and Play.

4000-2500 BCE- The gorgeous red bowl with feet  is Egyptian, the nephrite (a form of jade) disc is from the Jiangsu or Zhejiang Province, China, and the Kneeling Bull is from Southwestern Iran.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Simple, Delicious Dinner

It’s been six months since the Baby Bird arrived, and I am finally feeling like getting back to interests I was exploring B.B. (Before Baby).  The larger idea that encapsulates these interests boils down to living simply and within my means.  Now that she’s here, growing and changing so quickly, I am even more motivated to live simply, as I believe simple living connects us to feelings of happiness and satisfaction, and I also want to set a good example for my daughter.  In trying to keep my life simple, I benefit by creating more space to think; more time for my family; less clutter.

My husband is our primary cook and caregiver, and as a musician, he is able to stay home with her while I work, and then he goes and plays gigs and teaches lessons when I am off of work,  a few to sometimes six nights a week.  (Note: during weeks when he is super busy, I am definitely a little harried at the end of the day!)  On these evenings when Baby Bird and I are left to our own devices, I like to (order out!) prepare a home-cooked meal that is fresh and made from a simple, few ingredients.

Last night I accomplished a simple, delicious dinner with the following recipes:

Garlic Butter Spaghetti   #pinchofyum

and this for a side:

Baked Parmesan Zucchini  #damndelicious

I put my own ‘available ingredients’ spin on both. For the spaghetti, I added mushrooms, and my husband added some chopped chicken he had frozen to his leftovers.  For the Baked Parmesan Zucchini, I omitted the oregano because we were out.

This made a delicious meal and I enjoyed assembling the minimal ingredients.  Click the links above to try for yourself, and let me know what you think! Simple or Not so Simple?