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Moon, Light and Shadow

ART, POETRY, LOVE – THE MAGIC OF JOURNEYS

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Luna on Upful

Upful Journal is an independent online journal with the vision of uniting Trinidad and Tobago as a community based on a mindful, positive, compassionate attitude and way of living. I am proud to say that I am a part of the Upful Team, contributing in my own way. Here are my articles (and one recipe) which were published over the last few months.
“Our mission is to act as a resource that presents ideas and information that trigger conscious thought and growth among readers, thus exciting a ripple effect of personal, environmental and social change.
We believe that change must begin within each individual and that it can be as simple as shifting an attitude and an action to be better aligned with a mindful way of life.
From this belief we are determined to be a relatable resource, much like a friend, to our readers. We want to share all of the wisdom and insights of mindfulness and higher conscious thought in a way that is accessible and non-intimidating to our average reader.
By planting small seeds of awareness within their consciousness we hope to inspire them to think, and to be intrigued to learn more and live a happier more fulfilling life.”
Read more about Upful Journal here: http://www.upfuljournal.com/about/
 
If you would like to write for Upful read here: http://www.upfuljournal.com/write/

Art & Wine Promenade at Northwood

West Palm Beach is not a bad place to live, if you’re mobile. My Mom has a car and she gets around just fine and never really had to learn the public transit system here. There are buses and the Tri-Rail. My cousins also have their own cars and they smiled when I asked if there wasn’t a way for me to explore on my own, without a car. I guess, in that respect, I liked Toronto more. In all fairness however I didn’t really try hard enough which I regretted when Mom and I went to Northwood tonight.
Northwood, ‘the trendiest neighbourhood in West Palm Beach’, is a collection of historic districts, fading industrial areas, and blocks of small bungalows and grand Mission-style homes that is now hopping with cafes, boutiques, and a monthly Art & Wine Promenade. This is what drew me to the place and within minutes I so happy that we went.

Continue reading “Art & Wine Promenade at Northwood”

Christmas Moments 2012

At Mum’s home.

My cousin took me for a drive through Snug Harbor Estates. It’s a whole neighbourhood that goes all Griswolds for Christmas. It was absolutely beautiful. Photos alone don’t do justice to the overall feeling seeing 15′ candy canes and beautifully decorated trees. I felt like a kid again. 🙂

Christmas won’t be Christmas without Ralphie. There’s a TV channel here in West Palm Beach that is showing 24 hours of A Christmas Story! Of course an Indiana Jones marathon is on as well. All I need now is A Charlie Brown Christmas, Love Actually and Home For The Holidays and I’ll be set.

Broccoli, Cauliflower & Spinach baked in Cream of Mushroom Sauce, Kale & Mushrooms in Garlic Sauce, Roasted Potatoes, Caramelized Carrots and Fresh Salad – Mum’s and my contribution to the Family Christmas Potluck. It’s no wonder I’m already hungry. Hoping to hold out until one when the family gets together. 🙂

Merry Christmas to you and yours. 🙂
Luna

Whoa Nelly In Boston

Today is the second day of the conference. Yesterday, eleven of us waited in the shelter for our Peter Pan bus then filed out single file bracing against the cold wind. Exclamations of “Whoa Nelly”, “Jesus Christ” and “Damn” escaped people’s lips in between sharp intakes of breath. Yesterday I managed to cover two thirds of the show floor before my shoulder started to hurt from the weight of my handbag. It was not so much what was in it but rather the fact that the empty bag itself weighs about 6 pounds. Needless to say today I’ve opted to carry only my camera bag. My camera will be worn around my neck, and my lipgloss, phone, cash and ID will easily fit in the camera bag. There, problem solved. It was really good to see everyone again, business associates who have become friends over the years. And the IFAI History Museum was particularly interesting to me, being a fan of history and all. The Industrial Fabrics Association International is celebrating it’s 100th Anniversary this year so everyone is in a great mood. The larger suppliers even have happy hour at their booths this year! Mini lobster sandwiches are to die for.
The food is one thing I am definitely enjoying in Boston. Last night, to celebrate my Aunt’s birthday we went to this little Irish pub called The Black Rose. It was warm and cozy and earthy and noisy, everything you’d expect from a pub of this sort. Of course we all had to try the New England Clam Chowder and it did not disappoint: creamy, rich, well seasoned with lots of clams. I ordered the Sam Adams Mussels for my main course never expected that a portion would contain twenty-five mussels! It was too much for me. It was ok enough but would you believe I actually prefer the mussels back home at Chaud Café? The spinach and artichoke dip was a bit disappointing as well. Back home, this is a favourite of ours at All Out Sports Bar. Maybe I’m just missing my girls.
At that little pub I got a nice surprise: it began to snow! Not a lot, but the light flurries sparkling against the pub windows and blowing about under street lights was enough to thrill me. This was only my second time seeing a snowfall.

View from our hotel floor toward the car park.
Oh well, I’m off to the breakfast buffet and my Tazo Zen Green Tea with lemongrass and peppermint.

You can read the rest of my Bostonian Posts here.

Rainy Day Sea Vegetable Soup

With all the rain and gloomy weather this morning it was definitely a day for soup. I bought some sea kelp noodles a few days ago and wanted to try my hand at an Asian style vegetable soup. Sea Kelp Noodles are a sea vegetable in the form of an easy to eat raw noodle. Made of only kelp, sodium alginate (sodium salt extracted from a brown seaweed), and water, kelp noodles are fat-free, gluten-free, very low in carbohydrates and calories and provides a rich source of trace minerals including iodine, which kelp is well known for. It’s a great alternative to pasta and rice noodles. At first I thought they might taste ‘seaweedy’ but they were surprisingly neutral.
Here’s my recipe:
1 cup sea kelp noodles
2 cups bean thread noodles
1 cup chopped green beans
1 cup shredded and chopped carrots
1 cup diced red bell peppers
2 cups baby spinach leaves
2 cups chopped button mushrooms
1 small onion – diced
4 cloves of garlic – crushed
3 small pimento peppers – chopped
6 cups water
2 table spoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
dried chili flakes and cayenne pepper to taste
sea salt to taste
In a large soup pot bring water to a boil. Add the sea kelp and bean thread noodles and oyster sauce.

Heat olive oil in a skillet and add your aromatics (garlic, onion, pimentos) stirring with a wooden spoon until their flavours are released. Add the red peppers, carrots and green beans and saute until medium soft.

Add the vegetables to the noodle soup including the mushrooms and baby spinach. Reduce heat. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Some Days Just Aren’t Meant For The Office

Today is a day like that. I woke up this morning feeling a little surreal after some strange dreams. Upon checking the net I realized that yesterday was National Ice Cream Day. Now there’s a happy idea. I have no idea if it’s an American event (no doubt invented by Haagen Dazs or Ben & Jerry), but it doesn’t matter. I didn’t have ice cream yesterday and the little kid in me was beginning to pout at the thought of having missed out on an opportunity to indulge. There is a challenge I’m facing this week and I’m not sure I’m ready. I’ve been a bit worried about it this weekend and I didn’t really spend any time preparing for it. Rather than start my work week today and add work drama to an already confusing tumble of emotions I decided to spend some time with myself. My inner kid and I were taking the day off.
I put the kettle on, prepped my Stash White Christmas tea, (yes, I am aware it’s the middle of July but I like the white tea, peppermint and ginger root), and sang in the shower. Today is a day for singing, dancing, being creative and especially for venting! I figure that the weird dreams have a story they’d like to tell me so journaling is on the agenda for today. But before that comes the fun. I’ve learned that I reach my true self when I’m writing, or cooking, or just being creative with paints or crayons. To prepare for the upcoming challenge I’m going to have to be really honest with myself. My way to tap into that honesty is through my creative core. 
First things first: Cooking.
Lunch: Wakame Soup with Baby Spinach,
Mushrooms & Green Beans
Snacks: Black Olives,
Smoked Gouda & Port Salut Cheeses,
Crackers with Roasted Melongene

Dinner: Mushrooms, Green Beans & Garlic
with Angel Hair Pasta, Basil & Olive Oil

I’m enjoying my day so far. Some creative writing and photo editing are in order and a swim at 5pm. Have a wonderful day folks. Tap into your creative too, it will make you smile.
Luna

Zucchini

Zucchini The Great was the star of Caesar’s Veggie Circus and he was very vain about that. Every night before the show he would sit in front of his mirror primping and preening, telling himself he was greater than all the other acts in the circus.

“You are so much more talented than Bok Choy and Pak Choi, those Chinese acrobats.” He said out loud to his reflection as he twirled his moustache. “Anyone can tumble across the floor. And there is nothing special about Asparagus, throwing knives at a board. Pfft. Useless talent really.”

Someone knocked on his door, “Five minutes Mr. Zucchini!” It was Jalapeno, the fire breather. Zucchini the Great grunted. “Now there is a useless talent: fire breathing, Jalapeno would be better off being our fry cook.”

Zucchini the Great stood up and puffed up his chest. “Yes, I am really beautiful and the best one here. Now it’s time for the show to really start.” He made his way to the circus tent and stood waiting at the entrance, watching those two clowns, Carrot Top and Sasquash. “Do they really think anyone came to the circus to see them?” he muttered under his breath.

Finally Ringmaster Fennel, made the announcement: “Now for the star of our show: Zucchini The Great!” The crowd clapped and roared in anticipation as he made his way to the center of the ring. He stretched his arms above him, puffed up his chest smiled at the chick peas in the front row who squealed with delight. 
“Zucchini! Zucchini!” they chorused as he climbed up the tall ladder to the high wire. He arrived at the little platform, momentarily annoyed for the few seconds he had to share the spotlight as Cucumber handed him his balance pole. “Break a leg Mr. Zucchini!” 
Zucchini the Great took the balance pole and walked out onto the highwire with ease, thinking to himself “I’m way cooler than Cucumber.” The crowd oohed and aahed as he neared the middle of the high wire, and paused for a moment, looking down at his adoring fans. He could see the cherry tomatoes bouncing up and down in their seats. He continued his way across the wire, with just a few feet to go. “Everyone loves me because I am the greatest. I really am the best. I bet I can even do this with my eyes closed.” 
To his great dismay Zucchini the Great suddenly faltered, dropping the pole and losing his balance. He teetered back and forth, finally falling. He landed in the vegetable net some twenty five feet below and lay there frozen. The crowd was silent. In a flash String Bean the contortionist was pulling him off the net and laying him gently on the floor. Saucy, the Plump Tomato (and String Bean’s wife), was kneeling at his side. “Are you okay?”
He was all right but Zucchini the Great wasn’t feeling all that great anymore. How could he have fallen? He was ashamed. Everyone was surrounding him now including the Eggplant Wizard, Chive the Sword Swallower and Broccoli the Strongman. They all seemed so concerned, even Ringmaster Fennel who was known to get steamed when things didn’t go according to plan. Zucchini the Great sat up. “That’s it Laddie,” said the Irish Potato, helping him up, “On your feet now.” 
“Come on, you can do it.” encouraged Cucumber. Zucchini the Great felt guilty for looking down on him earlier. In fact, he felt really bad for looking down on all of his fellow performers. Here they all were helping and encouraging him. Would he have done the same for any of them?
“The Show must go on” said Ringmaster Fennel, “Zucchini, are you ready to get back up there?” 
 Zucchini the Great straightened up, boosted by the support of his friends. “Yes!” 
In quick time he was climbing the ladder as the crowd clapped and cheered. He deftly made his way across the high wire and finished his act with a flourish. Bok Choy and Pak Choi met him at the bottom of the ladder and hoisted him up onto their shoulders. “Zucchini! Zucchini!” cried the crowd. The Chinese acrobats brought him to the center of the ring for his final bows in the spotlight. Zucchini the Great looked around at his fellow performers. He beckoned to them to join him in the spotlight as he could not have done it without them. 

The night was a success, and Zucchini the Great learned a valuable lesson. Even if he fell again one day, he knew he’d have the support of his friends to get back up. After all, every vegetable deserves a second chance.

Yellow

I’m out on our back patio watching the inviting blue of our swimming pool ripple gently in the Saturday afternoon breeze. My sister sits at the table beside me, blending tortillon in hand, putting the final touches on her new baby’s first pencil portrait, and we share a bottle of wine. Two slices of yellow fin tuna thaw in the kitchen in preparation for our seared tuna, baby spinach and portobella mushroom evening meal. It is a beautiful afternoon, sitting here listening to the leaves of the palm trees whisper to twittering and chirping birds. Life seems perfect, and full of promise.

“Yellow is the colour of sunshine. Van Gogh said that.” my sister replies when I remark on the seemingly perfect pairing of her bottle of yellow tail shiraz and my yellow fin tuna.

Somewhere Towards The End by Diana Athill lays open on the chair next to me and I am just about to begin her chapter on books and writing. I am enjoying this book which makes me think alot about my mother and my grandmother, even though I see more similarities between myself and Ms. Athill. Her book has sparked in me a need to paint, to draw, to grow flowers and to write. Above all to write.

Here’s to evenings such as this one, surrounded by loved ones and fueled by the creative energy of others.

Tomato

One of my fondest childhood memories of my Grandma is of her cooking tomato choka. I can still recall the aroma of those tomatoes while she slow roasted them on the flame of her gas stove. That smoky sweet aroma which promised a tantalizing meal made our mouths water every time. My cousins and I would hop around her in the kitchen as she chopped her onions and chadon beni, and she would “Tut tut!” at us to shoo us away from the hot stove. Roasting tomatoes were known to spit after all and Grandma didn’t want us anywhere near the hot oil either as she fried two cloves of garlic with slices of scotch bonnet pepper in a big pot spoon. 

Tomatoes roasting on the flame
Photo courtesy The Ivory Hut

Of course Grandma would be preparing her famous sada roti while the tomatoes were roasting. Once they were roasted, the charred skins would be removed and in a bowl she’d mash the whole tomatoes with the back of a fork and mix in her onions and chadon beni.

Sada Roti on the Tawah
Photo courtesy http://www.chennette.net
The sada roti would be on the tawah, browning up nicely and when we heard her say “Come now, hurry up and set the table.” we knew it was almost time: Grandma was going to chunkay the tomato choka! This was always fascinating to see as it required quick reflexes and perfect timing. She would have a lid for the bowl in her left hand ready and waiting, and the big pot spoon of very hot oil with garlic and peppers, fried just enough to leech all those aromatic flavours, in her right hand. Into the bowl of mashed tomatoes went the hot oil. The contents of the bowl would sizzle and sputter and she’d cover the bowl quickly, sealing in all that flavour for a few minutes. Smelled like heaven. 

Then, by the time Grandma turned around we would be sitting like little angels at the dining table and she’d laugh and bring the sada roti and her famous tomato choka to the table. When I grew older I learnt how to make the dish from Grandma herself, although I don’t think I ever really matched her particular ‘sweet hand’. 

Tomato Choka
Photo courtesy Cynthia Nelson

The Trinidadian words you may not have known the meaning of:

Choka: Roasted Vegetable that is mashed into a paste and seasoned with onions, garlic, pepper, salt and oil.

Sada Roti: This is a plain roti (flat bread), made of white or wheat flour. It is a popular breakfast option in Trinidad, in combination with tomato choka, baigan choka (eggplant), and other vegetable dishes.

Chadon beni: A herb with a strong pungent scent and flavor that is used extensively in Trinidadian cooking

Chunkay: To add hot oil with roasted aromatics (hole cumin seeds, scotch bonnet pepper and sliced garlic) to a vegetable dish or soup for added flavour.

Tawah: A flat or slightly concave griddle made from cast iron or steel. It is used to prepare roti and other types of breads

Sweet hand: The tastiness with which we can prepare a meal so that those who partake of it keep coming back – and begging – for more

Click here for The History of Tomato Choka

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