Friday, September 30, 2022

Dessert Outdoors


Image by <a href="

    The people who give you their food give you             their heart.  ~ Cesar Chavez

    Laughter is brightest in the place where food is         good ~ Irish Proverb

    Cooking and eating food outdoors makes it                 infinitely better that the same meal indoors                 ~ Unknown

    The e-mail to my Saturday hiking club announced that I was a trail taste tester for Outdoor Eats.  I invited them to join me in tasting my first taste test.  My e-mail included "post hiking treat - think churro" and "a possible dessert for my long walk next year."  

    My best friend, M asks, "Will it be like the churros we had in Madrid? Crunchy, cinnamon warm dough, and dipped in thick chocolate?"  

    "No," I typed back adding,  "Who carries a deep fryer on a thru hike or eggs and heavy cream to make a mousse?"

    "Then I don't think it is a good name," she wrote.

    "Think churro inspired.  The recipe is called a churro pie."




Three Creek Metro Park,
Columbus, Ohio by BEMS
I've been trekking with my hiking club almost every Saturday.  Club membership is relatively simple: 1) you like hiking and; 2) you are friends or have a connection to M (my best friend).  At the beginning of COVID, we wore masks and socially distanced by walking single file, an arm length away.  We still tried to maintain our connection.  Conversations consisted of yelling to the head of the line: "my son hates classes on-line" or "my daughters are teleworking at my home until COVID is over."  When M's mother died we could only hold her hand wearing our knitted gloves.  COVID made us do friendship and hiking differently.  I think we became better people on these hikes together.  

    COVID made us change our three trail hiking routine.  We became explorers of all 23 trailed Metro Parks.  Since then we've continued to traverse clockwise around Columbus several times.  We learned that our city's park system is home to over 230 miles of trails showcasing central Ohio wet lands, prairies, streams and woodlands. 

    Last week the club chose Three Creeks Park to hike.  The park is named for the three way confluence of the Big Walnut, Alum and Blacklick Creeks.  These waters then flow into the Scioto River, then the Ohio and will eventually end up in the Gulf of Mexico.  Three Creeks is one of several parks located in the southwestern corner of Franklin county.  Most of the trails here are paved for multi-use, dog friendly, and ADA accessible allowing everyone to enjoy the outdoors.

    Saturday morning, the trail was moderately crowded.  The Army Reservist group  just finished up their run as I got out of my car.  The men, drenched in sweat, were dressed in full camos.  Looking at them made me hot and I hadn't even started my hike yet.  Club members joined me and there were other hiking groups starting like us.  We were getting our miles in before the Buckeyes played later that afternoon.  


Three Creeks Metro Park
Columbus, Ohio by BEM

We chose the trail loop that led along one of the creeks and circled around two fishing ponds home to Canadian geese.  The loop is forested with giant sycamores, maples and oaks and a meadow filled with yellow plumes of goldenrod, purple asters, and exploding white puffs from the milkweed.  We gave a wide berth to all flowers, because the honeybees and yellow jackets were out in force, loading up on nectar for the long winter months.  I remember the crows who followed us along the path.  They squawked at us as we passed perched high up in the trees.  They never let us get too far ahead of them  before taking flight.  I watch them hold out their wings and gliding on a jet stream before landing ghostly sycamore trees several yards ahead of us.     




by Julie Lariso

Steaming cup of champurrado,

panecitos, cinnamon churros---

mmm, mmm! Delicioso!

Lovebirds chirp: Pio! Pio!

Larios, Julie. and Julie Paschkis (Illustrations) "Market Breakfast." Delicious! Poems Celebrating Street Food Around the World,  Beach Lane Books. 2021. 


 Churro Pie Recipe Taste Test

Dear Chef:  

    I can dive into the science of eating outdoors: vitamin D, increases endorphins, reduces stress... (you probably already know this).  Somehow eating outside things just taste better.  My hiking club was excited for the opportunity to be part of a taste test.  This was the first time we had an after hike treat. 

    Oh!  I need to mention my hiking friends are foodies.  Their palettes have been shaped by the Columbus' food scene.  I'm not sorry for busting the fallacies out there claiming that most of our restaurants serve-up Midwestern meatloaf, mash potatoes and gravy or there is a Wendy's hamburger shop at every corner.  It is the opposite; Columbus has a diverse selection of foods.  My city is blessed with international transplants who are sharing their recipes.  Plus there is an assortment of chefs that are experimenting by blending their traditions...Mexican with Chinese.  My hiking friends love a wide assortment of foods, spice blends.  I wasn't surprised to their reaction to the taste test by identifying ways to improve it.

Pre-trail pack-up by BEMS

  Your recipe for Churro Pie took only three minutes to prepare: dump pudding spice mix into bowl, stir in the water, crunch the cereal and graham crackers (note: carrying these items in my backpack helped start the crunching process), and serve it up.  I want to stress the process was sped up by having the ingrediencies prepared before the hike.   All you had to do was dump, add water and stir.  This pre-hike prep also cut down on carrying extra weight in my backpack (weight coming from all the food packaging).  When I weighed the ingredients before packing it up, it came in at 5.8 oz.  It sounds like a lot, but keep in mind, the pudding package states it serves 4 people (1.45 oz/person).  

Churro Pie by BEMS
Taste test 1 comments:  "Explosion of cinnamon."  "It needs something to round out the cinnamon - chocolate?" "Maybe adding the milk will help." "It is too sweet for my taste." "A no-bake churro pie reimagined for the trail."  "Cutting weight - maybe only use the cereal and don't break it up so much.  I like the crunch."

    I have to agree.  The cinnamon was overpowering.  From a nutritional standpoint, I look for calcium food sources on the trail - it helps with my leg cramps.  Adding the milk to the pudding would provide me with with an additional source calcium versus popping a supplemental pill.  The milk can also add a fat source and protein too - needed in the winter months.  

    I made the recipe again following the suggestions of my hiking friends.  The second time, I added 1/4 cup of dried milk to the pudding mixture.  I kept the water amount the same.  I also only used the cereal.  And for M, I had a small container to drizzle chocolate syrup on the mixture.

Taste test 2: comments:  "The milk tones down and rounds off the spices. It demonstrates what Samin Nosrat and Wendy MacNaughton said...fat enhances the flavors."  "The drizzle of chocolate is a nice touch - gourmet on the trail."  "I like this better,  It isn't so sweet."  "You have the crunch from the cereal and the smoothness from the pudding...really tastes good.  I like it much better this way."

    I intend on using my revisions to the recipe on backpacking hikes.  I also plan on bringing the extra cereal as a "snack" to be paired with nuts and dried fruit and this dessert.  



Sunday, March 20, 2022

Practicing your way back into creativity

Cassett, Mary (1878-79). 
Woman Reading.
Joslyn Art Museum. Omaha, Nebraska
Creativity is the brain's invisible muscle -- that when used and excercised routinely -- becomes better and stronger.”
~ Ashley Ormon

“Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.” ~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

“Do it again.
Play it again. Sing it again. Read it again. Write it again. Sketch it again. Rehearse it again. Run it again. Try it again.
Because again is practice, and practice is improvement, and improvement only leads to perfection.”
~ Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, and Grumblings for Every Day of the Year

This last two years have been hard.  Hard in a way, I have not been unable to write and paint in a way that my heart, soul and hand are in concert together.  The world has made me exhausted:  COVID, political unrest, public exposure of racism, isolation, and now another war.  I am turning back to my blog hoping it has the electricity to to jump start my creativity.

Maybe it is spring and the time of awakening. Maybe it is the eve of Ares, the beginning of the zodiac.  The time of not sitting back but getting off your bum.  If this past blah I've been infected with were a shell, I want to break out of it.  I want to sing along with the spring peepers and not let anyone slow me down.  I want to touch the new buds on the American Beech trees that will shed off last year's leaves.  

I want to take a step forward, fresh with new energy that is coming my heart.    


This Is Just To Say
William Carlos Williams - 1883-1963

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold


The big question is: what habits can I re-establish and put into place to light the spark?  What can I do differently this coming year?

I have been thinking a lot about these two questions.  One idea is to have a sabbatical.  I have been working in my field for over 30+ years.  COVID has shown me that I need a beak.  My work life has changed so dramatically and up to this point I keep telling myself go with the flow.  But this idea is sucking my joy away.  I have to ask myself why am I staying.  I'm not ready to retire, yet I need time to think about what I want to do next.  There are other opportunities out there for me.  I need a break to discover these.  

Julia Cameron writes in her creativity recovery manual, The Artist Way a recipe: 1) handwriting 3 journal pages, 2) walking and 3) artist visits.  I envision my sabbatical to include these elements. 

More to come..... 


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Woman with Flowers in Her Hair

Woman with the Flowers in Her Hair by
Homelight 2019


The unconscious mind works in symbols, whereas the conscious mind doesn’t need to code things into symbols. Our conscious minds communicate through concertizing abstract ideas into words. Our words, at best, serve as a crude estimation of the abstract ideas we wish to convey.

Meditation and contemplation were part of the painting process. Symbols and colors would appear. It is a thing or color representing something abstract. Personally, I see symbols as Motherfather Spirit telling me stop, be alert and take notice. Contemplating their appearance helps me be open to what is needed or eliminated in my life.

The following symbols appeared in my meditations repeatedly and were included in my painting.

Bluebird: Harbinger of Spring, renewal and transformation, growth. cheerfulness, happiness, prosperity, hearth and home, good health, new births, the renewal of springtime, etc. Virtually any positive sentiments may be attached to the bluebird. Messenger bird of Xi Wangmu.

Navajo Song for waking up and greeting the morning sun.

Bluebird said to me,

"Get up, my grandchild.

It is dawn," it said to me

When I put her in, my best friend said Zippideedodah. I remembered this being my favorite song as a child. The song put me in a different place.

Dogwood flower: Symbol of rebirth and resurrection. Victorians saw the flower as a signal for love and strength. The Dogwood flower comes in many colors.

The dogwood kept showing up.

I also see the flower representing the four directions of a compass and the center being where two roads meet. A crossroad being a place in your journey when a decision needs to be made. It is a place where there is a balance of opposites. In many stories, it is a place to meet guardians to help you: Hecate, Vanth, Elgaba and Brighid. Wise women to assist you with your decision. All you need to do is ask. This is something hard for me. I have problems asking for help. I am first to help others, why not the reciprocal?

I am nearing a crossroad. I am ending my present position and trying a new career. I want to use art in this new career. My wish when I come to the crossroad that I will meet interesting people to show me how.

Colors of the dawn based on western European traditions:
  • Reds: excitement, energy, passion, love, desire, strength, power, and passionate
  • Oranges: energy, balance, enthusiasm, warmth, vibrant, expansive, flamboyant, demanding of attention
  • Yellows: signifies joy, happiness, optimism, idealism, imagination, hope, sunshine, summer, gold, philosophy, and friendship.
  • Purple: spirituality, ceremony, mysterious, transformation, wisdom, enlightenment, honor, mourning, and temperance.
  • Turquoise: symbolizes calm.

Dawn for me is about new beginnings. A new day to shake off what isn’t working and forgive. A new day for joy.

Knowledge and wisdom beyond intellect. Ability to see what isn’t seen. The owl announces change and transition. Important changes are about to take place.

I did not purposely paint the owl into my painting. The owl appeared after the last glaze. It appeared very ghostly, and I chose to maintain the owl’s presence by faintly painting it in.

The Celtic Triple Spiral or Triskele: Is a female power sign and one of transition through growth. It also is said to mean one cannot be healthy without all three elements joined together: mind, body and spirit.

The Three Rays of Awen:
The Celts used this symbol for transformation experienced through the power of fire. This symbol can be found in the Dogwood flowers.

Tuning Fork: a two-pronged steel device used by musicians, which vibrates when struck to give a note of specific pitch. The bluebird stands on it. I keep returning to Jonathan Davis’ article on how to restore harmony within and with others (2015). Davis writes about the Hawaiian practise of Ho’oponopono (I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you) helps retune one from discord to calm. Each day is an opportunity to reset and try again to be a better person.

Scars Symbols were a leaf like symbol inspired by Henri Matisse. Each scar placed into the painting were ones I self-identified through an exercise shared by Louis Reed, Energy Medicine Institute. Louis Reed was a guest lecturer at Amber Kuileimailani Bonnici Women Unleashed Winter 2018. These were painted over during a glazing process. One of the scars turned into the owl.

Aqua Aura Quartz: The properties of the stone are said to help one to realize self truth, even the truths you refuse to know or believe. It is a crystal to give you mental clarity and help develop your spirit. The crystal is also said to help you balance your masculine and feminine energy and release feelings of anger.

I have Aqua Aura Quartz on my desk at work. A small crystal fell off while I was dusting. The tiny quarts was painted into the heart area of the women with flowers in her hair.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Woman with the Flowers in Her Hair: Part 2

Homelight. Woman with the Flowers
in Her Hair, 2019
“She wore flowers in her hair and carried magic secrets in her eyes. She spoke to no one. She spent hours on the riverbank. She smoked cigarettes and had midnight swims...” ~~― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.” ~~Iris Murdoch

“We need to spread more seeds and fill this Planet with love to be surrounded by flowers just everywhere! It starts by simply opening up our hearts and hands to one another. It's in simple things where true Happiness may flourish.” ~~ Ana Claudia Antunes, A-Z of Happiness: Tips for Living and Breaking Through the Chain that Separates You from Getting That Dream Job

Steps in Completion:

The Woman with the Flowers in Her Hair
By Homelight 1/10/2019

Let me tell you about the woman
with the flowers in her hair. I awake
moments before the dawn showers. When
sunlight paints hymns of pinks, cheery
oranges, playful yellows blended
Into divine purple -- rainbow hues
revel my beauty.

“Zippidee do dah,” I sing. “It’s going to be
a wonderful day.”

It is me with the flowers in my hair,
standing in my power -- heart aligned
to create my “today’s story.” Everyday
a choice for more joy, for more love, for more
expansion along my spiral journey.
Nightly rituals to make right within, I shed
sloth off yesterday’s walls, outgrown
habits-- rocky people all forgiven
I am reborn into the sunshine
lite, renewed.

“Zippidee do dah,” I sing. “This day will be

I love that woman with the flowers in her hair.
I am strong, kind and gaily spread
infectious laughter. It's in the tunes
I whistle to make feet tap, hips sway
with merriment. I am a woman
with flowers in my hair -- opening hearts
to possibilities in all things. I am woman
who love life.

“Zippidee do dah,” I sing, “What a wonderful

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Woman with the Flowers in Her Hair

Homelight, The Woman with the Flowers
in Her Hair. 2019
One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.” 
~~Joan of Arc

Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it
~~Oprah Winfrey

"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass." ~~Maya Angelou

“bloom/beautifully/dangerously/loudly/bloom softly/however you need/just bloom” ~~Rupi Kaur

Conform or be transformed?

I recently came across several articles about these two words: conform or be transformed. The gist of the articles was that many of us measure joy and happiness on how much stuff we have.  The articles described the external variables we use in measuring happiness:  our job, the car we drive, or where we live, how we look and dress.   There is a toll in believing these are the key ingredients for happiness.  When I find myself under stress I begin to conform to these computations.  I forget that happiness and joy comes from within.  

There is another variable that lurks and influences how I get stuck.  The damn mirror and bullies and naysayers don't like the facets that make me who I am.  My inner critic is addicted to their messages and repeats them in my head.  Out of fear or having anxiety, I push away my way of making chocolate cakes or gardening or choosing black versus the bright colors my real self likes to wear.  I feel bad for trying to fit into a "dictated mold" and I feel bad that I have conformed.  Ultimately, I sit and stew that I am sacrificing who I am to feel prescribed happiness and joy.   


Our Deepest Fear
By Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us;
It's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Williamson, Marianne. A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles." New York, NYHarpersOne, 1992. 

Note: The quote, “Our Deepest Fear” often is quoted as being part of Nelson Mandela's inaugural speech, "Our Deepest Fear" does not appear in the speech. Marianne Williamson herself has noted this mistaken attribution.


My recent painting, "The Woman With the Flowers in Her Hair," I dedicated it to a quest for happiness and joy in my life.  While I painted I reflected:  Why don't I welcome my own style?  Why am I unsure about what I really like or don't like? Why is it easier for TV and the magazines to inform me?  

I began searching for what it really feel to be happy? (Not what my family or friends feel happiness is, but me.)  I landed on this song by the Cowsills:  The Woman with the Flowers in her Hair or The Rain, The Park and Other Things.  For those not familiar.  It was a sunshine pop song of 1967 by a family band (reminding me of the Partridge Family Show).  

The lyrics talk about a woman wearing flowers in her hair and is in the park.  It takes courage to pull this look off and then to have the confidence to go out into a public space.  Listening to the song, while painting; I began to wonder what happened to my courage.  Why am I allowing people to dictate my journey?  My journey?

I Love the Flower Girl by The Cowsills ( lyrics on video )

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Nebula the Muse: Part 3

Homelight. Nebula 2019
A bird does not sing because it has the answer.  It sings because it has a song.  Chinese Proverb.

Every life has a soundtrack. Jodi Picoult

I've spoken before about music and how it can uplift my spirit.  Below is my playlist for Nebula:

Nebula the Muse’s Playlist:
Attacca Quartet. “Ent’acte.” Caroline Shaw: Orange, New Amsterdam/Nonesuch, 2019
Bareilles, Sara. “Brave.” The Blessed Unrest, Epic Records, 2013.
Bedingfield. Natasha. “Unwritten.” Unwritten, Phonogenic Records, 2004.
Benatar, Pat. “Invincible.” Seven The Hard Way, Capitol/Emi/Sbk/Chrysalis, 1991.
Caillat, Colbie. “Brighter than the Sun.” All of You, Republic, 2011.
Chapman, Tracy. “Talkin Bout a Revolution.” Tracy Chapman, Elektra Records, 1988.
Coldplay. “A Sky Full of Stars.” Ghost Stories, Parlophone UK, 2014.
Collins, Judy. “The Times They Are A-Changin’” Amazing, Chrome & Nickel, 2015.
Coltrane, John. “Stardust.” Stardust (Remastered ed.), Prestige, 2007.
Cravalho, Auli’i. “Know Who You Are.” Moana (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Walt Disney Records, 2016.
Crow, Sheryl. “All I Wanna Do.” Tuesday Night Music Club, A&M, 1993.
Crow, Sheryl. “Soak Up The Sun.” C’mon C’Mon, A&M, 2002.
The Cranberries. “The Pressure.” In the End, BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited, 2019.
Donovan. “Lady of the Stars.” Golden Tracks, Purple Pyramid, 2000.
Earth Wind and Fire. “Star.” That’s the Way of the World, Columbia, 1975.
Etting, Ruth. “Life Is a Song, Let’s Sing It Together.” Easy Come, Easy Go, (Original Recordings 1931-1937), Open Spotify. 2012.
Florence and The Machine. “Shake It Out.” Ceremonials, Republic, 2011.
Jett, Joan and the Blackhearts. “Don’t Surrender.” Notorious, Blackheart/Epic-Sony, 1991.
Hackman, Marika. “i’m not where you are.” i’m not where you are, Sub Pop Records, 2019.
House, Rachel and Auli’i Cravalho. “I am Moana (Song of the Ancestors).” Moana (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Walt Disney Records, 2016.
Khan. Chaka. “The Woman I am.” The Woman I am, Warner Brothers, 1998.
La La Land Cast. "Another Day of Sun."  La La Land (Original Motion Picture Sound Cast), Interscope Records, 2016.
Lambert, Mary. “Secrets.” Heart on My Sleeve, Capitol, 2014.
Latifah, Queen. “U.N.I.T.Y.” She’s a Queen: A Collection of the Greatest, Motown, 2002.
Loper, Cindy. “Girls Want to Have Fun.” She’s So Unusual, Portrait, 1983.
Lovato, Demi. “Confident.” Confident (Deluxe Edition), Hollywood Records, 2015.
Madonna. “Express Yourself.” Like a Prayer, Sire/Warner Bros,1989.
Michaelson, Ingrid. “The Way I Am.” Girls and Boys, Original Signal, 2007.
Naim, Yael. “New Soul.” Yael Naim, Atlantic, 2008.
Panton, Diana.  “I Believe in Little Things.” I Believe in Little Things, Independent Label Services, Inc. 2017.
Panton, Diana, “So Many Stars.” If the Moon Turns Green, Independent Label Services, Inc. 2017.
Ross, Diana. “I’m Coming Out.” Diana, Motown Records, 2017.
Spice Girls. “Wannabe.” Spice, Virgin Records, 1996.
Sting. “Sister Moon.” ...Nothing Like The Sun, A&M Records, 1987.
Tank and The Bangas. “Interlude (God Push Me).” Think Tank, Feedbands, 2017.
They Might Be Giants “Put it to the test.” Here Comes Science. Disney Sound/Idlewood, 2009.
Van Morrison. “Moondance.” Moondance (Deluxe Edition), Warner Bros. Records, 2013.
Weather Report. “Milky Way.” Forecast: Tomorrow, Columbia, 2006.
Wonder, Stevie. “Another Star.” At the Close of a Century, Motown Records, 1999
Yellowjackets. “Emerge.” Raising Our Voices, Mack Avenue Records, 2018.