Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Zeal Mandala

Zeal Mandala

Several years ago I created a series of circular designs, or mandalas, as a part of a healing-creative-prayerful time.  During the week I was working on each mandala the books I would read, the people I talked to, and the shows I watched all reinforced the theme of that particular mandala.  It was really uncanny.  That's why each mandala is like a powerful nonverbal prayer to me.  In my heart, I know creating each of the designs was part of my healing, and I still treasure them.  

One of the odder mandala names was "Zeal" not a word we normally use.  The dictionary defines it as: great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.

Last month, as we were scheduling my husband for chemo, this particular mandala popped up on my computer screen.  Now, to be fair, I have thousands of photos that occasionally pop up because I can't figure out how to make them go away.  Regardless, when I saw that bright little mandala icon it warmed me heart.  So much so, that I printed off a copy to put on the fridge.  I thought "Zeal" was kinda a funny prayer for chemotherapy, but since I wasn't really looking forward to the love-of-my-life going through it, I guessed I could use some enthusiasm.

Wow, what changes a month can bring!  Within days of putting up that mandala my husband, Shawn, decided he was NOT going to go the chemo or radiation route, instead he was going on a 100% Plant Based Diet.  Suddenly "Zeal" was an excellent affirmative prayer to have on my fridge.  Every time I have to plan a meal, make a lunch, or find something to feed the kids from our new diet, there it is to cheer me on.
Release Mandala
Several weeks later, my youngest son brought me another mandala print-out.  He doesn't know how he did it - he was really doing his Spanish, but somehow it printed.  This had never happened before, and I looked on it almost as a gift from above. The name of the freeform mandala is "Release".  Which I, unknowingly at the time when I created it, gave to a woman whose husband had cancer.  This comes full circle to me.  Zeal and enthusiasm for what we can do, and then release the rest.  We can do this.

I'll be happy to share my process for making mandalas in a future post if there's any interest so let me know if you want a tutorial...or if you just want to color one in, you can print them for free for personal use off my website www.lisabaus.com.  I have 30 different prayer mandalas I created in the series available there.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Building Raised Beds

The best time to build a raised bed is Autumn if you want to layer materials that will need to decompose over the winter.  I know August is a little early...but we had the time and nice weather so the boys went to work on our raised beds.  Now I'll have time to work on them this fall!
7 yo loved watching how Papa was cutting

The raised beds are 4'x10' (the recommended width so it can be weeded easily).  We decided for beds to be 10 feet long with a walkway in-between.  This allows for a sitting spot during weeding, and the crosswalk provides a way to get to the other side without walking all the way around.  

Each boy took turns holding boards and drilling some, too.

It's made of untreated wood because you don't want to use treated wood for food you are eating.  It's 12" lumber because you want your raised bed to be deep enough to really work.   This will also make it easier to weed.  My least favorite gardening job.
First box almost done; it just needs corner reinforcements
Here they are in place 
Now that the frames are built I can lay down a layer of cardboard, and then start the "Lasagna Gardening": layers of compost, manure, soil, and shredded newspaper. Ideally, we want those things heaped up out of the frame 18-24" in a few months so that when it settles we'll have a nice 12" of growing medium for next year.  We'll see.  
Of course they have to use them as a balance beam...for now

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Welcome to my Studio

Soldering Station
Welcome to my art/glass studio...feel free to take a look around.  On the left, I have lots of art books on the shelves, with baskets to hold supplies.  The bulletin board holds inspirations and ideas.  The file cabinets hold more books and supplies, while the wood creates on top hold some glass and finished pieces.  (Notice the lovely yellowed foam picked up at a garage sale for the cushioning...)

I'm left handed, so I really wanted the soldering iron to be on my left and away from any potential visits from the boys.
My long table with light box on the end
This rocking chair has since moved upstairs, but I really miss it for my muses.  On the left is my wonderful, best garage-sale-find-ever, old wooden table.  It's something like 10 feet long...I love it.  On the right, is my cutting station, in the middle is a bare work area, and on the left (closest to the door) is the light box I built into it.  Well, I really had my husband cut it out for me, but you get the idea.

The grinder (the red machine by the window) has a splash guard around it I created to keep down on the glass dust it sprays in a radius around it. 

All in all, I love going into my own creative space - whether I'm puttering around, developing new ideas, or working frantically to get something done by a deadline.  This sunny yellow room always brings me joy.  In fact, I think I'll head there now...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Blackberry Smoothie Recipes

Did you know blackberries cover up the green of kale or spinach in a smoothie?  It tinges the whole smoothie a dark purple.  Pretty handy as we try to increase veggies in the boys' diet.

Blackberry Yogurt Smoothie (lighter color)
1 c. blackberries
1-2 bananas
1 c. any yogurt
1/2 c. rice milk
2 small pieces of kale with stems removed

Dairy Free Blackberry Smoothie (darker color)
1 c. blackberries
1 banana
1 c. rice milk
1 small piece of kale with stem removed

Put in a high powered blender and blend.  If you don't have a high powered blender you can use a regular one, it just may not be as smooth.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Blackberry Picking

The boys are awesome berry pickers!

Luckily, there is a blackberry farm down the street, and every year we go pick our own blackberries.  While the kids eat some berries raw, the berries also make great smoothies and jam.  Blackberries grow wild around here, but those have thorns on them.  

Homemade contraption the farmer made to hold  the bucket using hose and hanger wire
We've gotten a break from the temps in the 100s and it was beautiful weather for picking blackberries.  Although my youngest was not fond of the bugs, he was able to entertain himself by taking some pictures.  (The good news is that the blackberry farm doesn't spray their blackberries...the bad news is the bugs know this.)  There were kids whining a few aisles over, and it made me even prouder of my boys and the great picking they did.
Day 1: We ate up the berries in the box on the left

Monday, August 8, 2011

100% Plant Based Diet

summer bonanza of local fruit and veggies
No doubt spurred on because he has breast cancer and knows he is fighting for his life, my husband has made the monumental decision to entirely change the way he eats.  Starting immediately.  Frankly, I had never thought it possible that Mr. Frozen Pizza and Ice Cream would become...Mr. 100% Plant Based Diet. 

Some people may call this way of eating vegetarian or vegan, but my husband prefers to proudly state he is on a "100% plant based diet".  Last week we watched a video called "Eating" that does an excellent job outlining the ill effects of an animal based diet, and the power of a plant based diet to rebuild the immune system.  Since then we've also watched a surprisingly uplifting film on Netflix called "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead", too.  

Our dinner that first night was oatmeal.  Not very well rounded, but hey, at least he wasn't putting toxins in his body.  I quickly scrounged up a lunch for him for the next day...I believe it was a lettuce and tomato salad with Italian dressing along with Wasa crackers and PB for a snack.
Our new breakfast of choice
For five years, I've been on a low-fat diet because of my MS like symptoms, and so we do regularly eat vegetarian meals each week.  Also, for one year we've been doing dairy free for my middle son who has asthma.  His Naturopathic Physician gave us many great dairy free alternatives and that helped with that transition a lot.  So we've had some experience changing the way we eat, but this definitely notches it up a level, or two, or three...  

Bye bye junk food cereal...
Our whole family is going 100% plant based for our health.  My husband, Shawn, needs to heal from cancer, I need to heal from MS-like stuff, ds1 has bad eczema and dyslexia, ds2 asthma, and ds3 is developing allergies.   ALL of these things can be affected by diet.  Wow.  And wouldn't it be nice to lose some weight and not get sick all the time.   

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Hidden Blessing

Playing "Conquest of the Empire"
I'm a firm believer every situation brings an opportunity for good.  It doesn't make the situation good by any means, but life "is what it is" and if you make the most of it...well, at a minimum it's more endurable.  

Each person has their own "Caesar" and empire to build
While Shawn recovered from surgery he played several board games with the boys to regain his stamina.  This was a blessing for the boys, as well as Shawn,  who all enjoy playing strategy games.  

These games also expose the boys to geography and history.  My 7yo ds can't wait to begin our studies of Ancient History this fall.  He already loves Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome because of the games he's played, books he's read, and documentaries he's watched.