Autumn Always

September 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”~Albert Camus

We all have our favorite season, and my personal favorite is the Fall. I love everything about Autumn. Always. It’s a special time of year that ignites wonder, sentiment, and nostalgia. The crisp, chill air, morning mist on the ground, brilliant Red Maple Trees, the tastes of Fall; ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, caramel, apple cider & homemade pie, the spirit of Autumn; Holly & Sage, the backyard harvest & making preserves, the sound of crunching leaves under foot, hillsides of foliage turning a kaleidoscope of colors. Fall marks a time of magnificent landscape changes in many parts of North America. Enjoy the season!

Catnip

Dante LividiniCatnip from the Wisetrees series, Illustration, Courtesy and © Dante Lividini 2014.

Forests play a prominent role in many folktales and legends. In these dark, mysterious places, heroes can lose their way, face unexpected challenges, and stumble on hidden secrets. Part of the age-old magic of forests lies in the ideas that people have had about trees. In myths and legends from around the world, trees appear as ladders between worlds, as sources of life and wisdom, and as the physical forms of supernatural beings -nature spirits were thought to inhabit trees and forests. The mythology of early India, preserved in texts called the Upanishads, includes a cosmic tree called ‘Asvattha.’ It is the living universe, an aspect of ‘Brahman,’ the World Spirit. This cosmic tree reverses the usual order. Its roots are in the sky, and its branches grow downward to cover the earth.

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Dante Lividini, Mother Nature from the Wisetrees series, Illustration, Courtesy and © Dante Lividini 2014.

Dante Lividini is a New England-based illustrator, graphic novelist and 3-D animation artist whose work, constructed with considerable imaginative care, invites a mythological journey. With a Master’s Degree in Literature from New York University, and a background in teaching, Dante cleverly weaves the art of storytelling of all that is mysterious and miraculous in the natural world throughout his work, infusing it with meaning, depth, and metaphor.

Starsewn

Dante Lividini, Starsewn, a Graphic Novel featuring the Woggli, Illustration, Courtesy and © Dante Lividini 2014.

Dante’s evocative Wisetree’s, graphic novels Starsewn, Medusa and Evolve, are all deeply rooted in Nature and Myth. Prompting a rare kind of empathy towards his subjects, thoughtful connections between Rustic Gods & Nature Spirits, Half-Humans & Heroes, Biosphere & Biophilia, Trees & Time, and the realms above and below human experience, blossom. We discover an unfolding meditation on those existential dilemmas that surround us all, and a world of its own in the making. Resonating otherwordliness and sublime beauty. Visit Dante’s Portfolio and Behance to see more of the artist’s work.

Art Of The Textile

September 20, 2014 Comments Off

Artists entering the design market to collaborate -a growing trend within the interior design world, producing designs that look to the future while simultaneously taking inspiration from the past, has real staying power. Featuring innovative textures and finishes and manufacturing techniques never seen before, resulting in modern one of a kind hand-crafted pieces. To honor the past, there are recreations of intricate patterns and traditional designs found in the natural world, as well as the resurgence of graphics from the archives of celebrated creative talents of the 20th century, such as Fornasetti. The great impresario of Italian design and wit. And with the growing number of environmentally conscious designers, there’s no need to choose between style and responsibility, as many textiles are being made with sustainably sourced and eco-friendly materials, manufactured with conscientious environmental practices in mind -good for your home and the world at large. These are some of my favorite independent designers & companies creating artful bespoke designs.

Ceramica

Ceramica Bardelli Tuli-Tuli, Tuli-Charme & Tuli-Poni Ceramic Tile Collections by Ronald van der Hilst, Three sets of hand painted tiles available in various decorative themes and dimensions to create an inviting fresco garden interior. Ceramica Bardelli founded in 1962, produces and markets high quality Italian ceramics worldwide. Famous designers, both past and present, such as Giò Ponti, Piero Fornasetti, Tord Boontje, Ruben Toledo, Nigel Coates and many others sign a one-off home decor collection in the world’s most beautiful homes. For Dutch-born artist and landscape designer Ronald van der Hilst the tulip has become a constant theme in his work for the past 10 years. As a passionate flower lover from early age, he was touched by the marvellous history of the tulip of Antwerp. Van der Hilst has designed tulip settings for the historical garden of the Rubens Museum, Museum Plantin Moretus, Castle Den Brandt and the Kalmthout Arboretum.

Fornasetti

Cole & Sons Fornasetti I & II Collection Wallpapers, Two iconic and covetable wallpaper collections delivering a Fornasetti repertoire of 30 magical themes, from the distinguished British house of Cole & Son, purveyors of fine hand painted wallpapers since 1875. Today the company retains it’s original spirit; still designing beautiful and innovative collections inspired by their archive -representing all the styles from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Collaborations with contemporary designers combined with the company’s support for hand crafting, ensure Cole & Son continue to produce wallpapers faithful to the brand’s distinguished history. The Fornasetti collection is selected from fine drawings in the archive of Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988), that conjure up Piero’s spirit and genius, while the use of wide width friezes, borders, digital panels and double width papers gives this collection diversity in the ways in which they can be used. The Fornasetti name is one of the most recognizable in the decorative arts today. Once celebrated as one of the most original creative talents of the 20th century, the company’s highly whimsical products are no less engaging or visually captivating as they were when first introduced shortly after World War II in Italy. The legacy and artistry of Fornasetti continues and becomes accessible to that many more consumers.

Cle

Clé Limestone Collage & Malachite Tile Collections by Deborah Osburn, Clé features two types of tiles: unique tiles created by impassioned artists & artisan studios and classic tiles designed to form heirloom surfaces. This lovely limestone tile collection was designed by Deborah Osburn, Clé Tile Eboutique founder and creative director. The passion for tile making, along with an affection for art, fashion and design inform her collections, that include the use of masterful hand painting, hi-tech lithography, and experimental forms of hand crafting never seen in the production of tiles. Osburn is always in search of artwork that exemplifies the fine craftsmanship of master painters. She has been searching the globe for a range of designs that offer a modern and exotic base of visuals, so that every stroke of the brush brings to life the perfect imperfections of a hand painted tile. Malachite, a surface that is deep, rich and appealing for its shades of green and its swirls of natural formation, has the makings for a beautiful bespoke wall installation juxtapose wood or concrete.

Trove

Trove Wallpapers & Printed Wood Veneer, Founded in New York City, Trove is led by Jee Levin and Randall Buck, who are both accomplished artists and the creative force behind the brand’s ingenious concepts; Trove’s designs push the limits of scale and repeats with unique patterns that are 12 feet high and 3 to 6 feet across. All of Trove’s wallcoverings are printed on commercial-grade paper, using high-quality non-toxic wax-based coatings and archival inks, which have a lifespan of 140 years. Trove’s expertly designed products are eco-friendly and recyclable. Levin and Buck’s work is a clever interpretation of the simple, yet fascinating beauty of our natural environment. Trove also recently introduced a line of printed wood veneer wallcoverings, made from renewable materials. They have that warm glow that comes from wood feel, but without the obvious wood-grain effect that you often get with veneer.

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Coral & Tusk Textiles, Founded in 2007 by Stephanie Housley together with her husband Chris Lacinak, Coral & Tusk is inspired by a love of animals, travel and adventure. First enchanted by the natural world during childhood trips to the Eastern seaboard, Stephanie’s frequent travels now span the globe. Magical experiences everywhere from Wyoming to Nepal inform the imagery and humor behind Coral & Tusk’s designs. A RISD-trained textile designer, Stephanie first creates her cheeky scenes and irreverent characters as original pencil drawings before she painstakingly redraws them stitch by stitch using special computer software. Finished by hand in Coral and Tusk’s Brooklyn loft, every machine-embroidered pillow, doll, napkin and artwork retains the story-telling spirit and hand-drawn allure of the original illustration. A mix of smart design, magic and mischief is at the heart of every Coral & Tusk embroidery.

 Coles

Claire Coles Embroidered Wall Panels, Claire designs and produces embroidered wall panels and couture wallpaper murals for interior designers, architects and private clients. All Claire Coles designs are handcrafted in her London studio, working closely with her clients to produce bespoke works that reflect their vision. Leather, silks and vintage papers are collaged and intricately embroidered to create a range of decorative surface patterns inspired by flora and fauna. Combining a range of textures and materials with the use of stitch, Claire has developed an innovative textile process. Her unique and luxurious embroideries transform walls into works of art. Claire also works in collaboration with luxury brands producing custom-made surface patterns. Clients include: Missoni, Anthroplogie, Paul Smith, Liberty of London and Penguin Publishing, and she has recently launched her collaboration with champagne house Perrier-Jouët.

Farrier

Jeanette Farrier Hand-Stiched Kanthas, Made from layers of discarded sari joined by simple running stitch which, typically produces a wonderful rippled effect, the uses of Kantha range from utilitarian quilts to exquisitely embroidered heirlooms. Travelling in India at the end of the 1990s, costume designer Jeanette Farrier discovered the magical textiles that the women of West Bengal create from recycled cotton saris. Exponents of the traditional art known as ‘Kantha’, these expert seamstresses fold and stitch the soft cloth into an ultra-fine quilted fabric which is warm, durable and, with its myriad patterns and colours, of great beauty. The ethos behind Jeanette’s work is that just as these wonderful textiles are valued and precious, so are the women: they are paid well and are able to work in their own homes. Today there are two villages outside Kolkata whose livelihood has been transformed through sewing Jeanette Farrier’s Kantha cloth.

Basic Goodness

September 17, 2014 Comments Off

Buddha

Discover Your Basic Goodness with Pema Chödrön & Dale Asrael, September 26 – 28, 2014, at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Rhinebeck New York. As leaders in teaching meditation and how it applies to everyday life, Pema Chödrön and Dale Asrael are widely known and well-regarded for their insightful, down-to-earth interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism for Western audiences.

About

Pema Chödrön is an American Buddhist nun and one of the most prominent Buddhist teachers in the West today. A student of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, she is resident teacher at Gampo Abbey monastery in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Chödrön is interested in helping establish Tibetan Buddhist monastacism in the West, as well as continuing her work with Western Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings. She is the author of numerous books, including When Things Fall Apart; The Places That Scare You; The Wisdom of No Escape; Getting Unstuck; Start Where You Are; Comfortable With Uncertainty; No Time to Lose; Always Maintain a Joyful Mind (lojong teachings); Practicing Peace in Times of War; and Living Beautifully With Uncertainty and Change.

Dale Asrael is now an acharya (senior teacher) in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, founded by Chögyam Trungpa. She is core faculty at Naropa University, also founded by Trungpa, since 1992, and teaches in the post-graduate Buddhist Studies, Contemplative Education, and Counseling programs, and is an upadhyaya (Buddhist minister). She leads meditation retreats, dathuns, sutrayana seminaries, ngondro instructor trainings, and other programs internationally. In 2011, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the head of the Shambhala lineage, appointed Asrael the dean of meditation instructors.

Ecosattva Action

September 11, 2014 § 2 Comments

Climate change, perhaps the greatest crisis of our civilization, threatens a sustainable environment that can support life on Earth. A short window of opportunity exists to shift this challenge into a radically new way of being and living. To meet this task requires a profound reorientation of our relationship to the earth and its resources, including a move from our fossil fuel economy to renewable energy. Underpinning this shift is a transformation of consciousness from seeing the world as an object to exploit, to knowing and living our profound interconnection with all things.

Bodhisattva

As part of Earth Care Week, every Sunday from October 5 – November 2, 2014, 12:30 to 2 p.m. EST, the Dharma Teachers International Collaborative and One Earth Sangha will launch a set of five online conversations in the name of “Ecosattva” training with leading Dharma and mindfulness teachers: Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, Ruth King, David Loy, Bonnie Duran, James Baraz, Chas DiCapua, Susie Harrington, Vinny Ferraro, Catherine McGee, Chris Cullen, Anandabodhi, Santacitta, Santussika Bhikkhunis, and others. The series follows the People’s Climate March, September 20-21, 2014, taking place in New York, and a three-month online interactive program beginning ‘Earth Day’ 22 April 2015, scheduled to follow. Offered free to everyone with the invitation to donate, the conversations will be hosted by Dharma teacher Thanissara Weinberg and One Earth Sangha as part of Maestro Conference’s Conversations That Can Change the World.

Here & Elsewhere

September 9, 2014 Comments Off

Vojnar

Kamil Vojnar, Power Makes You Blind, mixed-media on paper, 17 x 17 in, 2013, Courtesy Galerie BMG © Kamil Vojnar.

A new series of work titled “Elsewhere” by the Czechoslovakian born, France-based, mixed media photographer Kamil Vojnar is on view now through 5 October, 2014 at Galerie BMG Woodstock, NY. As a self-taught photographer and painter, Kamil’s unique approach involves multiple layers of imagery using different photographs and textures. Sometimes he layers on canvas creating one-of-a-kind pieces, while others are digitally collaged on fine art paper in small editions. In both instances he varnishes the image with oil and wax, often applying additional oil paint, rendering each piece unique. His work is haunting, erotic, disturbing, tragically beautiful, and intriguingly unresolvable. His technique of multiple printings and re-printings of the same images combined and re-combined through collage, hand painting, and patina, mimics a process of constant interpretation in denial of fixed certainties. With a poetic sensibility and quiet strength, Vojnar’s work eloquently expresses all the sadness, uncertainty, and insurmountability that are hallmarks of our time.

Kiefer Retrospective

September 7, 2014 Comments Off

Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer, The Orders of the Night (Die Orden der Nacht), 1996, Emulsion, acrylic and shellac on canvas, 356 x 463 cm, Seattle Art Museum, gift of Mr. & Mrs. Richard C. Hedreen. Photo: Seattle Art Museum © Anselm Kiefer.

The Royal Academy of Arts will present the first major retrospective of work to be held in the UK by Honorary Royal Academician, Anselm Kiefer, a man described as “a colossus of contemporary art,” 27 September -14 December, 2014. This will be the most significant exhibition of the German artist’s work ever held in the UK, spanning his entire 40 year career to date and unveiling new work created in direct response to the spaces. Kiefer’s extraordinary body of work includes painting, sculpture and monumental installations. Uncompromising in the subject matter he tackles, Kiefer’s work powerfully captures the human experience and draws on history, mythology, literature, philosophy and science. Destined to be full of brave and provocative work, always large in scale, ambitious in scope and astonishing in execution, this exhibition will be a testament to the career of a man driven to confront himself and the audience with the big and complex issues of our world’s past, present and future.

Weekend Racer

September 6, 2014 § 2 Comments

Porsche_01

Dutchman Weekend Racer ’68 Porsche 912, South African custom shop Dutchmann recently unveiled their latest master project, a beautifully restored 912 series Porsche. The epitome of legendary style and elegance, with signature design principles that have long linked Porsche with beauty, artistry, technology, and innovation. The fully restored 1968 shell containing Porsche-only elements from a variety of vehicles, purposefully merging contemporary technology with the classic components -the 911/912 modular platform being well-suited for the integration of contemporary Porsche elements, boasts a 1974 engine, 1989 seats, suspension from 1974 and 2013 headlamps, encased in 1968 lenses. A nod to Porsche’s powerful design history. Instant new classic!

Porsche_02

Dutchman Weekend Racer ’68 Porsche 912, Custom Porsches seem to be in the middle of a resurgence, and the craftsmen at Dutchmann have done a breathtaking job of restoring this car to its former glory, showcasing Porsche’s place as one of the most iconic automobile manufacturers in the process. The vehicle’s chrome exterior oozes classic style, as if transported straight out of a 1970’s action thriller! No surround sound system. No electric windows. No stability control. No power steering. Luxury at Last. Love. Artfully restrained design, lending visual form and grace to the notion of speed. At Dutchman, each vehicle they build is uniquely conceptualized and custom specified by a design team, pre-sold, and then built by master craftsmen.

Weather Diaries

September 3, 2014 Comments Off

“Everything is relative. The experience and understanding of existence depends on from what place and angle or side an observation is made, on when the observation is made and who is observing.” ~Rúrí, Artist’s Statement; Relativity, 1992, Iceland

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Nikolaj KristensenEna With Eyes Shut, By Cooper & Gorfer from The Weather Diaries, Nordic Fashion Biennale, © The Nordic House, Iceland & SEEK 2014. Image courtesy of Gestalten.

The Weather Diaries is a prolific collaboration between some of the most gifted designers of the West Nordic Islands and artist duo Cooper & Gorfer. It is unique in its symbiosis of installation and narrative photographic imagery, taking you deep into the ingenuity of these three island nations where common is the ubiquity of isolation. Aesthetic and metaphorical, it deflects the conventional rhetoric of fashion.

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MundiThe Wind Portrait, By Cooper & Gorfer from The Weather Diaries, Nordic Fashion Biennale, © The Nordic House, Iceland & SEEK 2014. Image courtesy of Gestalten.

 Instead of seasonal trends, it explores the inspiration of creative minds, probes links to cultural identity, and scrutinizes the impact of the inescapable physicality of nature and weather. Sublime, and at times fantastical scenery of the North inspires moody yet undeniably wondrous results.

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Guðrun & GuðrunSára, Armgarð and Alda on a Hill, By Cooper & Gorfer from The Weather Diaries, Nordic Fashion Biennale, © The Nordic House, Iceland & SEEK 2014. Image courtesy of Gestalten.

“Their pictures are imbued with understated drama and an enigmatic tone. Unlike the discrete passer-by who single-handedly waits the decisive moment, Cooper and Gorfer carefully direct choreographed productions. The time they invest in creating a picture can be likened to that of a painter in a studio.” ~Dragana Vujanovic, curator Hasselblad Center

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Guðrun & GuðrunGirls as Twins, By Cooper & Gorfer from The Weather Diaries, Nordic Fashion Biennale, © The Nordic House, Iceland & SEEK 2014. Image courtesy of Gestalten.

The resulting portfolio showcases the works of both young and established Nordic designers and artists such as Mundi, Shoplifter, Jör By Guðmundur Jörundsson, Steinnun, Barbara í Gongini, Gudrun & Gudrun, Bibi Chemnitz, Nikolai Kristensen, and Najannguaq Davidsen Lennert, Kría, Jessie Kleeman and Rammatik, exploring the roots of Nordic fashion and design traditions.

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KríaLola, India, Swing, By Cooper & Gorfer from The Weather Diaries, Nordic Fashion Biennale, © The Nordic House, Iceland & SEEK 2014. Image courtesy of Gestalten.

Additionally, the book, published by the Berlin-based Gestalten, also features a number of insightful essays on the Nordic Countries’ relationship with clothing and fashion, as well as a collection of interviews with the featured creatives. Actual ‘weather diaries’ also feature in the book as a series of excerpts which date back to 1975. Written in a north Icelandic town Akureyri by Baldur Helgi Kristjánsson, the personable memories are accompanied by a series of beautiful landscape photographs, again by Cooper & Gorfer.

 Weather_Diaries_03

Bibi ChemnitzSara and the Dog, By Cooper & Gorfer from The Weather Diaries, Nordic Fashion Biennale, © The Nordic House, Iceland & SEEK 2014. Image courtesy of Gestalten.

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Barbara I GonginiJuanita with Black HandsBy Cooper & Gorfer from The Weather Diaries, Nordic Fashion Biennale, © The Nordic House, Iceland & SEEK 2014. Image courtesy of Gestalten.

About

Artists Sarah Cooper & Nina Gorfer, have similar backgrounds in architecture, art, design and photography, and have been working together since 2006. Cooper & Gorfer’s solo exhibitions include: Hasselblad Center, Dunkers Kulturhus in Helsingborg, Kulturhuset in Stockholm and Museum Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt. They were awarded the Swedish Art Book Award for both SEEK Volume 01 Iceland and My Quiet Gold. Their work belongs to a narrative tradition within photography, with roots in 18th and 19th century painting. Based on the personal and collective stories of place, where the pictures become condensed impressions showing the latent and ephemeral rather than the obvious. They live and work in Gothenburg, Sweden.

This 20 minute film offers a glimpse into the behind the scenes of The Weather Diaries. Produced by: The Nordic House Iceland in collaboration with Cooper & Gorfer. Filmed in Iceland, Greenland and on the Faroe Islands, it brings you closer to these remote places and showcases the people whom Cooper & Gorfer collaborated with to bring this project to life. Sharing their reflections on isolation and the force of nature, consumerism, and the roots of creativity and human nature, that set the tone for the project.

Weather_Diaries

The Weather Diaries: The Nordic Fashion Biennale, by Cooper & Gorfer, Hardcover, 184 pgs, Published by Gestalten, 2014.

Sarah Cooper and Nina Gorfer take an unusual approach to their topic by telling its story visually. The curators of the third Nordic Fashion Biennale present the work of both young and established West Nordic designers in a striking collection of photography that they shot on-location throughout Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Greenland. Showcasing the fashion in dramatic natural settings, their images are fused with a dark romanticism and, like much of their work, are reminiscent of eighteenth and nineteenth-century painting. Defying categorization, Cooper & Gorfer’s photos bring together fashion, photography, and painting. Their work goes beyond pure documentation and is interpretive, narrative, and utterly distinctive.

Savor Summer

September 1, 2014 Comments Off

Once established in the garden, Mint grows and spreads like wildfire, and throughout the Summer, rewards you with an endless supply of the fragrant herb to inspire culinary endeavors. Prolific, hardy, and perennial. Mint has been used for centuries for its healing powers, taste and aromatic qualities. The herb even has its place in ancient Greek mythology. According to legend, the Green, fragrant herb used to be a beautiful nymph named ‘Menthe.’ She was turned into a plant by jealous Persephone who didn’t appreciate her husband Pluto’s affection towards Menthe. Pluto could not turn the plant back into a nymph, but he could give it an appealing aroma.

Mint_01

Fresh Mint is the perfect ingredient for a refreshing Summer meal. With Summer coming to an unofficial close, a great way to continue to enjoy this herb fresh, without any cooking, is in Pesto. This Mint Pesto Recipe is so light and delicate. It tastes herbal and green and adds a pop of color and garden-fresh flavor to any main-dish. All of the flavors are just superb combined -ingredients that fuse together for a deliciously balanced vegan, raw & gluten-free sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups packed organic fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup packed organic fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 large clove garlic, quartered
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Place basil, mint, walnuts, oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic and salt in a food processor; pulse a few times, then process until fairly smooth, or to the desired consistency. Keep at room temperature until ready to serve. If you’re not using the pesto immediately, you can store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks; let come to room temperature before serving. Makes 1 cup. 20 mins. prep time.

Garden Note & Tips

Like any other herb, the best time to harvest Mint is in the morning while the volatile oils in the plant are at their strongest.

Since pesto is a ‘raw’ sauce, the flavor of the olive oil is crucial to its success. Use the best cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil you can comfortably afford.

Cover tightly and store chilled for at least an hour to saturate the flavors. If storing overnight, pour a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil over the top of the pesto to help keep it bright green.

Mint_02

As a flavorful accompaniment to many dishes, Mint Pesto is delicious and unexpected on sandwiches, and matches perfectly tossed with pasta (hot or cold), and adds depth and richness when mixed into brown rice, or a Raw Zucchini Salad: 1 freshly harvested medium organic zucchini, cut into long thin ribbons, 1/2 tsp freshly made Mint Pesto, 1 Tbsp chopped walnuts & fresh mint for garnish. Savor Summer!

Art Of Happiness

August 29, 2014 Comments Off

What happened when Grammy award-winning producer and musician Imogen Heap hiked the Bhutanese Himalayas with The Happiest Place film team -then got her hands on hundreds of hours of sound samples from this remote Buddhist Kingdom? Something beautiful.

 Inspired by her trek through this magical country, and their considered steps into the future with its rich culture and heritage firmly in tow, Imogen Heap wrote two striking pieces of music for The Happiest Place film score. In this behind-the-scenes clip, Heap explains how the sights and sounds of Bhutan -temple bells, the crackling of fires, the thwick of an archer’s bow, Buddhist monks and nuns chanting, the shoeing of a horse, inspired the creative process. Cycle Song & Climb To Sakteng are from Imogen’s newest album Sparks.

 Secrets from The Happiest Place, Director Ben Henretig, TEDx Stanford, 2014. The talk offers a sneak peak of footage from The Happiest Place film and explores what may be at the heart of Bhutan’s contentment -their strong sense of connection to each other, to the natural world, and to a sense of purpose.

Many know Bhutan as one of the happiest places on earth, as the last Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom and the only country in the world to use ‘Gross National Happiness’ as its primary yardstick for progress. The Happiest Place, tells the story of filmmaker Ben Henretig’s incredible journey to uncover the secret to Bhutan’s happiness. In 2011, Henretig joined a team of four adventure athletes on a quest to cross the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan by foot and bike. The journey gave rise to the feature-length documentary that explores what people in the West can learn from Bhutan’s unique policy of ‘Gross National Happiness’ about living happier, more meaningful lives. With unprecedented access, the film offers a glimpse into a forgotten world that may have hidden within it the key to ‘responsible progress’ in the 21st century. In Bhutan’s rugged mountains and pristine forests, in the smiles of farmers and archers, in the hillside monasteries and ancient fortresses, we see reflected the grace of generations of wisdom. A fragile beauty that is emblematic of all those natural spaces, traditions and cultures around the world that are slowly disappearing in the wake of progress.

Personalize Wellness

August 27, 2014 Comments Off

Fig

For anyone who is looking to add a healthy dose of mindfulness to a daily routine, the app Fig reminds users to slow down and enjoy the simpler things. Personalized wellness goals for body and soul. Inspired by city slickers with high stress careers and unhealthy lifestyle habits, Fig aims to better life one small goal at a time. The app provides a wide variety of categorized tasks and goals recommended to users as well as the ability to craft one’s own custom goals, such as drinking more water, responding to old friends or remembering to meditate.

Fig_01

Create your own wellness guide by quickly selecting activities from common goals. Choose across 6 holistic categories -eat, move, refresh, connect, feel, and go further. Browse over 300 expert-written activities or customize and create new ones. A personal and enjoyable way to pursue your wellness aspirations. Take the journey of holistic transformation with simple activities. Share your journey with friends and loved ones. Flourish together. Available from iTunes.

Culinary Aromatherapy

August 9, 2014 Comments Off

Lavender

Summer is a great time to cook with Lavender, bringing the beautiful aroma inside. Despite Lavender being synonymous with Provence (France), it is ‘English Lavender,’ varieties of ‘angustifolia,’ that are best for culinary use as the flavor is more mellow. English Lavender has been used traditionally for culinary purposes, aromatherapy applications, and for centuries, as an herbal remedy, for both its relaxing and uplifting qualities. Lavender has an ‘androgynous’ aroma and flavor, it is both savory and sweet, with a distinct herbal edge.

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The delicate flavor of Lavender flowers gives this Lavender Shortbread Cookie recipe a particularly grown-up taste. Fun and fancy! These are so delicious and have the perfect combination of sweetness and Lavender, with a hint of Lemon -mild, somewhat exotic flavor. Being shortbread, they will fall apart easily when taking them off the baking sheet, so be careful. Depending how thick you make them, the recipe makes anywhere from 2-4 dozen. You can experiment by making some thin and round and others thicker and rectangular. Either way, you’ll love them, and will want to share! Perfect for fragrant & sweet Summer garden gifting.

Ingredients

  • 3 sticks of Earth Balance (non dairy butter) room temperature, or 1 cup coconut oil
  • 2 1/2 cups baking flour or oat flour
  • 2/3 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3-5 Tbsp finely chopped fresh organic lavender buds
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1-2 tsp rosewater
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions

1. In a medium-size bowl, cream butter, granulated sugar, and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Add lavender and lemon zest. Stir to combine.

2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, and salt. When thoroughly mixed, add to the wet batter, then add the rosewater, and stir until well blended. You should have a thick cookie batter. Divide dough into 2 balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and flatten to about 1 inch. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

3. When ready to prepare the cookies, preheat oven to 325. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes (less if thinner) or until the cookies begin to brown at the edges. Remove from the oven, cool for a few minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Chamomile

A fabulous Lavender shortbread deserves to be served with a proper cup of aromatic tea. An organic herbal blend of beautiful and fragrant Chamomile and Lavender flowers with soothing Lemon Balm, makes for a complementary synergy. What could be better? Settles your nervous system and relaxes your digestive system as well. If you prefer to leave the Tao of Tea to the masters, Traditional Medicinals makes high-quality organic herbal teas, including my personal favorite Chamomile with Lavender Tea. Pioneers in the wellness tea category that continue to lead the way.

Garden Note

When cooking with Lavender it is key to ensure using culinary/edible Lavender and not Lavender prepared for things like potpourri which can be treated with chemicals. If you don’t have Lavender growing in your own garden, culinary Lavender may be purchased at well stocked grocery stores, herb/spice stores or apothecaries, as well a grown in a pot or home garden for picking anytime. With a small amount added to many recipes, a ho-hum dish or cup of tea can be elevated to having international flair!