SUNDAY BEST SPECIAL EDITION: OUR BRAND NEW PROJECT LITTLE GREEN KETTLE

Little Green Kettle - vegan blogHi everyone! I can’t believe I was able to hold my tongue until today regarding a very special announcement. I’ve mentioned here and there that something was in the works but now it’s finally up and running and I’m so excited to share it with you today.

I want you to meet Little Green Kettle, my new blog and something I’m really proud of. The unbelievable response it has had in only a few days continues to overwhelm me. The message and content that will fill its “walls” is so important to me that I’m squealing with excitement over announcing my brand new “baby blog”.Little Green Kettle - Health and wellness blog

Little Green Kettle is a site about healthy and sustainable eating, the power of activism and making a difference in this world, it’s a health and wellness blog covering topics such as yoga, meditation and wellbeing, it’s a delicious cooking blog that will hopefully inspire your time in the kitchen. That being said, we’ll be doing lots and lots of cooking, we’ll be sharing stories about activism and the incredible people making a difference all around us. We will practice lots of yoga and get immersed in a world of change, looking at how the small choices we make, impact the big things around us.

I’m keeping this post short so that you can head on out to the Little Green Kettle and do some reading there. Not sure where to start? I recommend the About page and the Welcome post first, here you can read a bit about what we’ll be up to at Little Green Kettle. Still have some time after that? We’ve already got some great posts on a Trip to the Farmer’s Market, Seane Corn and her amazing work around the world with her foundation Off the Mat into the World, a delicious spinach, kale and citrus salad, yummy vegan temakis and a post about Comfort Foods.

New posts are coming in every week and we’re going to have some incredible collaborators from the fields of psychology, medicine, health, physical fitness, yoga and so much more. You can subscribe to the blog via email on the website, join us on facebook and twitter (all of this can also be done through the buttons on the website). Once you’ve stopped by for a visit, if you like it and feel like spreading the word, please share in whatever way you can! We’re trying to reach as many kind hearted people as possible so that we can all start making changes together.

This is Little Green Kettle. Thank you so much for stopping by. I’ll see you in a couple of days with a funny story about creativity, two young boys and mischief.Little Green Kettle - healthy and sustainable eating, whole hearted living

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UPDATE FROM MY VAST EXPANSE

Spanish countrysideHi everyone! I’m changing things up a little bit today and instead of bringing you our traditional Sunday Best edition I wanted to simply stop by and say hello since I wasn’t able to write this week. I also have an amazing story to tell you and have some very special photos to show you. I hope you got the chance to read my post titled ‘Beyond the Line of Trees’ about the incredible place I found last week (if you didn’t, or wish to read it again click here). Madrid sceneryIt has become my little sanctuary and such an incredible place to just walk around and see the look of excitement in Nala as she jumps and strolls down the hills. Two days after I wrote the post I mention above, we went back there very early in the morning. I decided to explore a different hill this time and as I was approaching it I saw a white figure in the distance. I walked closer and I couldn’t believe my eyes. This is who we saw, right in the middle of the city, between two highways in my little piece of heaven.

meadow

horse grazing

It was a huge day for Nala since she had never seen a horse before. She was incredibly intrigued but kept her distance. We sat down in awe of this creature being so free and grazing the hills in the morning sun. Just as every animal should be. It was apparent that he wasn’t a wild horse (we’re in the middle of the city after all), he was groomed and had a brace around his head (sorry horse lovers if I’m using this term incorrectly!). Straight ahead there was a small house with a wall around it and I could hear other animals, so I’m guessing this beautiful white horse lives there and is let out by its owners to graze freely. I’m not sure if that place is a farm or just a house with many animals, but there weren’t any people around and the horse was happy walking around and wagging its tail.

for the animals

Nala was mesmerized and kept looking at him and eventually started grazing herself! She usually does this so don’t think it was because of the horse, but it was such a treat to see both of these creatures doing the same thing at the same time. I looked at this horse in a way I had never looked at any other before, partly because of some changes I’ve been making lately which you’ll hopefully hear about very soon in the new blog (if I can find the time to do it that is!).dog and horse grazing

The next day we went back to find him but he wasn’t there. The hill was empty and Nala kept looking around in the direction where we had seen him last. I hope we get to meet him again some day. It made this special place even more special.

I hope you have a wonderful Sunday! I’m off to lunch with friends and I can’t wait for them to try the two treats I created for this meal, a crispy crunchy pressed salad and homemade vegan peanut butter cups, both from Alicia Silverstone’s amazing book “The Kind Diet” (highly recommended!). We’ll talk about it more soon in The Red Bookcase. Have a great day!

BEYOND THE LINE OF TREES

Beautiful natureI’ve lived in my neighborhood  for three years now, a lovely town outside the city where you can still hear the birds sing and have actual forests nearby (I’m talking bunnies here!). We recently discovered this beautiful park only 5 minutes away from our house and had only caught a glimpse of it. It’s on a hill and has a beautiful quiet feel to it.When you’re at the bottom all you can see is the rising hill and a line of trees.

SceneryToday I finished my lesson planning early and Nala and I went back to the park and ventured up the hill. I wasn’t prepared for what lied behind the line of trees, and unfortunately my photos didn’t capture what we were looking at. Suddenly we were in front of this giant meadow and this vast expanse. Hills and valleys intertwined in front of us and suddenly in the middle of these two highways I’m always driving on, there was this giant piece of untouched nature, we both stood still for a moment taking it in. The photos simply don’t do it justice! Do you see that area in the background that seems to have a grayish hue? Well, between that and the foreground there was a giant valley and beautiful rolling hills. I need to take my actual camera there this weekend!

Spanish landscape

Nature and its wondersI realized I’ve always been a fan of forests that seem to cover you and hide little trails and creeks. But vast and wide open spaces like this one seem to make you breathe a bit deeper and make you quiet down. Similar to the feeling of grandness you get when you visit the grand canyon and you just feel completely surrounded by its natural beauty. This was no grand canyon (I’m painfully aware of that don’t worry..), but I’ll take what I can get! The feeling was just as wonderful.

Dog loversWe sat in the meadow in the middle of these yellow flowers and just looked at these flowing fields and listened to the sound of the highway far away. The only thing that was missing, although it was playing in my head, was Joe Purdy’s amazing song “Wash Away”.  I leave you with some photos and some of the lyrics to the song. I hope you find your little meadow behind the line of trees, whether it’s a coffee shop, your favorite beach or your backyard. Or maybe the Grand Canyon! If you’re lucky to live close by.

NatureIn the words of Mr. Purdy …

“I got troubles oh, but not today

Cause they’re gonna wash away

They’re gonna wash away”

Listen to this beautiful song here or on Spotify if you’re a member. If you like it please purchase it through itunes and help support the artist! This song ALWAYS makes me smile. Tomorrow I’ll take it to my “vast expanse” and listen to it as I’m staring out into the fields.What do you think of this place?! Do you have your version of this? Do you feel like sharing it in the comments? We’d love to hear from you!

FARMER’S MARKET

farmer's market standHappy Saturday everyone! For some reason I woke up bright and early in spite of the foggy winter morning we had today so I decided to jump out of bed put on some jeans and go to the farmer’s market for some goodies. Here are some photos of my little morning expedition.
farmer's market in Madrid

The thick fog made this even more fun, and the cute doggie below was doing his veggie shopping as well.

dog at farmer's market

There’s nothing like the bright colors nature provides right? Isn’t this amazing?

Shopping for veggiesOur local farmer’s market is particularly special. The farmers are extremely friendly and they kept giving me presents and free tastings! I tried some fresh tomatoes and cherries on the spot, and they gave me a huge bunch of fresh parsley as a gift at the end. Lucky me!

Madrid farmer's marketI’m a huge vegetable fan and can’t keep away from them. My hubby and I have been trying to reduce our meat consumption lately so today I got to go crazy buying all my goodies since we’ve been saving so much money on our regular groceries. The great thing about the farmer’s market is that it’s an easy way to see what’s in season and buy as local as possible. Too bad we only have it on Saturdays!

Farmer's market

I have this little habit of trying to buy from all the different vendors. They each have their own specialty and I get to chat with all the funny and quirky  characters. After I finished buying all my goodies, I bought some whole grain bread, some organic noodles for later, and went back home where I had a hungry doggie and hubby waiting for me. We had some fresh cut strawberries on the side just because they looked so incredible! We couldn’t wait. Here’s a picture of all the delicious treats I bought today.

VegetablesThe apples, peppers and eggplants aren’t in the picture but they were just as colorful and delicious as the rest of these beauties. I hope you have a great Saturday and I’ll see you tomorrow for Sunday Best!

 

 

WHILE TIME FLIES

sunset at the santa monica pierHappy 2013 everyone! I can’t believe how fast time is moving along. I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and that you’re prepared and full of energy for the new year. This feeling of time going by incredibly fast is something that I’ve been thinking about lately. I’m sure I’m not the only one that sometimes feels time is passing at warp speed and this often makes me wonder if I’m listening closely and feeling deeply while enjoying the ride. Perhaps it’s my return to yoga that has brought me closer to thinking these things, or perhaps my pursuit of yoga was a result of feeling I wasn’t always as present as I wanted to be. Either way, my wish for all of us in this new year that is starting is that we are able to be present, that for several moments a day we can forget about our endless lists and errands, and focus on the moment. The wise Bob Marley said it best when he shared with us his wonderful line in Redemption song “emancipate yourselves from mental slavery”. Not that thinking is bad at all, but overthinking takes us out of enjoying what is happening around us. I know that when I started to become more aware hundreds of wonderful things started changing and happening around me. Connecting yourself to your surroundings opens your heart to helping and understanding others, something that we need a lot of in these crazy times we live in.

One thing you probably know about me by now is that I love traditions. My friends laugh when I keep asking about their family’s traditions and which ones they continue to put into practice. For some reason, the carrying on of traditions is very important to me and I’m constantly stealing things I love from other people or other cultures. One tradition I’ve fallen in love with recently is the Ayurvedic tradition of Sadhanas. Sadhana is a word in Sanskrit that is used to talk about a means to accomplish something, and although it’s usually used in a spiritual sense, many followers of Ayurvedic tradition use it when talking about practices as simple as roasting spices or cooking and is seen as a meditative activity that connects you to your spiritual side. For me, it’s a very powerful and simple act that takes me right where I want to be, exactly in the present moment. Whether you’re spiritual or not, these small meditative actions can start to spark little creative fires and wonderful feelings inside of you. After reading about this, I suddenly put two and two together and remembered the wise words of my mother: “when you have a problem, have worries on your mind or feel stressed…make a loaf of bread”. People that grew up in farms probably did Sadhanas every morning while they milked the cows and fed the horses. They also probably started their day with a clearer mind and an open heart. Of course the idea is not to drown these activities with noises, TV or distractions. If you were one of the farmers, it’s all about you, the horses and the sound of the birds in the background.

So as a welcome to 2013 I hope that we can all be more present and live every second to the fullest, there’s no need to write about all the fringe benefits this will have because they will quickly start falling into place for you, trust me! I hope you have a year full of creativity and surprising beautiful moments. I leave you with one of my special places to just sit and be present, the Santa Monica Pier in California at sunset. Happy 2013!

BURSTS OF COURAGE

be braveI was watching a very silly movie the other night about butter carvers in small town America. A funny and silly satire about a town that is famous for its butter sculptures. This post isn’t about the movie, but it is about something that occurred to me while I watched it. In the film a father tries to give his daughter a little courage boost after she is scared over something she has to do. You know what I’m talking about, those moments we all have where we feel we need someone to push us through the door of that job interview, or a difficult phone call. Those moments in which our feet just won’t budge and we’re  super glued to our chair? Well, in the movie, this character tells his little girl “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”. He doesn’t stop there though, he moves on to list a bunch of incredibly crazy scenarios, and his daughter then joins in with some crazy ideas of her own. Imagine having a job interview, being scared stiff, and suddenly imagining these unlikely and mostly impossible situations in your head, 5 minutes before heading in:

– You walk through the door and there’s a miniature hurricane.

– You walk through the door and there’s an angry mob of people with torches and pitchforks.

– You walk through the door and get robbed.

– You walk through the door and your entire family is watching you answer your future boss’ questions.

– You walk through the door and all your third grade bullies are there waiting.

– You walk through the door and get the sudden urge to take your clothes off (after which you’ll never get the job).

– You walk through the door and your future boss is your bitter ex-girlfriend or boyfriend seeking revenge.

Now start getting creative:

– You walk through the door and there’s a giant paper shredder that has destroyed your resume (and your tie).

– You walk through the door and are greeted by little green men asking you to board their mother ship.

– You walk through the door and realize you have to speak to 50 telemarketers before you get to the actual interview.

– You walk through the door and the zombie cast from the Walking Dead is happily waiting for you.

Now imagine my favorites from the movie:

– You walk through the door and there’s a zero gravity environment and your head hits the roof leaving you incapacitated.

– You walk through the door and there’s a Justin Bieber concert.

I can assure you one thing, if you spend 5 minutes in this imaginary crazy world of possibilities of what might go wrong, the actual fears will get right into perspective for you and soon you’ll be laughing and realizing that the worst case scenario isn’t really the worst case scenario after all. No matter how brave we all are, we all have these knee trembling moments every now and then, and to me this is a true antidote that will get us past the threshold.

Today’s photo is of my favorite part of the Christmas season: Twinkle lights. Christmas came early last night as we were decorating our tree (photos coming soon). I bought these a couple of days ago because they looked like the beautiful glass lights I had growing up  as opposed to today’s very artificial led lights. They were big, round and red, perfect for Christmas.

ON AN ISLAND IN THE SUN

Weezer said it best, “on an island in the sun we’ll be playing and having fun”. That’s precisely where and what I was doing during my days of absence in the blog. Yes, for a whole week I was in the beautiful Dominican Republic for a much needed vacation. However, this wasn’t the main reason for our trip. I was going to the wedding of two of my dearest and closest friends who made the awesome decision of getting married in a tropical island paradise and giving everyone an amazing week in the process.

I have the very strange habit of waking up really early when I’m on vacation. I try and I try but my internal alarm clock usually goes off before 6 am. This time however I made lemonade out of lemons and while everyone was asleep I went for a run on the beach and watched the sunrise. The top photo is of the first sunrise and my first glimpse of the beach during our holiday. I felt so free running next to the ocean while I listened to some music and felt the waves splashing on the shore. This was one of the highlights of my week, next to some precious time with my hubby and our friends and family, not to mention the incredible and emotional wedding. One of the most wonderful events I’ve ever been to. The photo below says it all right? It was a magical day, an incredible ceremony at sunset and an amazing party at the beach. It was so wonderful and emotional for me. Same goes for my hubby,  you can see him smiling in the background in the photo below after completing his best man duties.

Did I mention the fantastic food and how kind and wonderful the Dominican people are? Top this with warm weather all day long and a beautiful warm blue ocean… if you hadn’t noticed already, I was in heaven. Of course I brought some photos and stories to share with you so enjoy some today with lots more to come. Thanks to my dear students for giving me the week off to go running on the shore and spend an unbelievably special day with friends! And thanks to two very special friends who are starting their life together for giving us these incredible memories. It couldn’t have been better!

Enjoy the slideshow below!

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BACK TO SCHOOL

madrid buildingHi everyone, I´m just popping in to show you this incredible building I saw in Madrid today. I was walking with a friend trying to find a children’s bookstore, and after walking up and down the street a few times we finally realized it had sadly closed its doors. Before we realized it we were staring at this beauty neither of us had seen before. I’ve been in this neighborhood many times but this little gem had been hiding behind a street corner. The reason I was in that part of town to begin with was the fact that for the past few days and the next couple of weeks I’m back in school for my young learner teacher certification! This means that really soon I’ll have amazing ideas and projects to share with you here so that you can do them with your little ones. It feels great to go back to school and be the student for a while again. It’s a very unique kind of class, very creative and interactive, and after every class we leave with big smiles on our faces and ready to try out what we’ve learned.

Some of these great ideas are coming soon, but in the meantime I wanted to share a little piece of wisdom I read about today as I was planning a couple of lessons for my younger students. We all have a curriculum to adhere to, a course book to follow, and parents to please, but students, especially young learners are a lot less interested in the amount of topics we cover in one lesson as it is for them to feel cared after, understood and taken into account. This is not to say that we should throw our lesson plans out the window, it just means that if we take care of these other aspects of teaching as much as our grammar exercises, it’s definitely more likely that learning will occur. This was written by a teacher who is currently working in South Korea, and I definitely think this applies to children of any nationality. Take the time to get to know your students, to listen to them, to make them realize how special and smart they are, and the subject you’re teaching might become an exciting part of their day and be more memorable. They’re also more likely to continue coming back for more, wide eyes in tow. More to come soon so stay tuned!

A SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY

Every Thursday, I’m a volunteer English teacher at a very special and one of a kind place, the CEPI center. Roughly translated CEPI stands for ‘centers of immigrant participation and integration’, and they are home to hundreds of users from all over the world, where mostly low income families go to for free assistance in everything from psychological treatment, job placement, education, legal assistance, day care and pretty much anything else you can imagine. It’s all free, sponsored by the government, run by some extremely hard working and wonderful people, and almost entirely supported by volunteers. To paint you a little picture, a family of four immigrants without papers and without a job and sadly sometimes without any means of supporting themselves visits the CEPI, and while the mom and dad are attending a session for job placement and legal advice, the kids are being well taken care of at the center’s day care, taking dance or guitar lessons, at a scouts meeting or at summer camp. After the meeting the parents might also join in on the activities by attending cooking classes, workshops for women, sessions on how to write your CV, Italian, French or English classes (where they get to meet yours truly!), and all sorts of professional training from hotel management to hairdressing, cooking, bar tending and geriatric care. It’s all open to anyone who wants to learn and it’s all 100% free.

The minute you walk in, you notice this very unique and wonderful atmosphere, wonderful people that have smiles on their faces in spite of all the struggles they go through, and it’s all because they now we’re there for them expecting nothing in return and hoping to help and spend time with them. I’ve been a volunteer at many different moments in my life, but I’ve never been involved in anything as substantial and incredible as this. Especially because it’s not all fluff, this place is making a real difference in the lives of these families.

This week it was the center’s 6th anniversary and they had this very special event in front of government officials, and I felt so honored when they asked me to speak at such a wonderful event. I was extremely nervous of course, in spite of all the speaking in public I do with my classes. Not only did I speak, but I was first in line! Boy do I hope I did ok! The front row was filled with government officials and there I was standing before them, microphone in hand talking about what my experience as a volunteer has been, the wonderful lessons I’ve learned along the way, the amazing and supporting staff that make me feel so at home, and of course my students. By then I was so emotional and excited that when it was time to listen to Pape, our volunteer French teacher from Senegal, I just broke down and started crying (as did everyone else that was present). Pape has such an amazing and heartbreaking life story and spends every spare minute he has working at the center, showing us that sometimes those who have the least are willing to give the most. You couldn’t listen to his words without feeling your heart jump to your throat, and at that moment I felt so incredibly happy to have joined this team a few months ago. The words of two other volunteers followed and then a beautiful demonstration by the center’s Karate teacher, and his incredible speech about how he teaches a violent martial art that actually prevents future violence. 

Not that we needed to get even more emotional, but the children followed him by showing their drawings and speaking about values like integration, equality, peace, solidarity and collaboration. You could hear the ‘aaawws’ and ‘ooohhs’ a mile away.

The teens from the center’s guitar class gave us a little concert after that by playing “Every Breath you Take” by The Police and “Wonderwall” by Oasis.

The event was closed with some very special words from government officials and staff, we were all interviewed by the press (it was the very first time for me!), and after that we all joined in for a little party, some Peruvian and Spanish food and some sangria. My students came to hear me speak and I stayed there chatting with them until the very end, when they gave all of us girls a beautiful red carnation on the way out. I felt so happy and blessed to be a part of something like this. Since I’ve started my work at the center I’ve met people from Mexico, Honduras, Spain, El Salvador, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Italy, Senegal, Venezuela and Bolivia, just to name a few. In the end, we’re all the same, and in this very special place, we get to spend some time together and help each other. There’s no bigger lie than to say volunteer work pays nothing, I can tell you that…

Happy 6th Birthday my dear CEPI! May we celebrate many more together.

THE THING ABOUT SUMMER AND CHANGES

The first time I wrote a blog was a couple of years ago, and this beautiful shot of The Lawn at Central Park was one of the first photos to make the cut. I took it in the summer of 2010 and it marked the beginning of something very special, the launch of my little enamel and jewelry design business Jewels in the Attic and all the exciting adventures that have come with it. The photo below was taken this summer when I went to Bilbao, Spain to attend the annual BBK Live music festival, and once again, a trip involving a rolling lawn has marked one of the big changes in my life. Let me explain for those of you that might be new to this blog. I’m Kim, I’m a Venezuelan, ex New Yorker, current Madrileña who has spent the last 8 years working as a jewelry and enamel artist and as of April 2012, a mere two days after my 30th birthday, found my second passion in life. I’ve heard so many people say that you find your true self after 30 and I’m not sure if that’s entirely true for everyone, but something strange has been happening to me since that day, and new beginnings have reared their beautiful heads without me having any control over it.

A few months ago, I was feeling restless after so many years of working on my own in a little studio, having a blast, but slightly isolated from everyone else, and I started craving something different. I wanted to be around people and start something new. I wanted something that would still go well with my business, but where I could work with others and maybe even make a difference somehow. So, when the time came to choose what my next adventure would be, I looked into my other favorite things, the English language and the wise words of my husband that had been echoing in my head for months (I would say years but I don’t want him to think he’s always right! Which by the way is actually the case most of the time). Long story short, I went back to school and got certified as an English teacher. Many moons ago I had the experience of teaching English to young children, but I was very young myself, and never really thought of it in a serious way since I was going down such a different road with my business.

Nothing prepared me for what was going to happen. It turns out everyone was right, it’s never too late to dream and its never too late to accomplish either. I’ll fill you in on more of the details in future posts, but basically I’m now wondering… How do you say thank you when you find two jobs you simply love?

The only downside to having two occupations now is that there’s a lot less time for everything, which is why I’ve joined my passions to create ‘Blackboard and Brush’ and hopefully now I’ll  have more time to spend with you guys. Prepare to be in the midst of very special and colorful pictures, tales of the teaching world and the characters I’m meeting along the way, and of course, what we always love to talk about: creativity, living creatively, working creatively, and now teaching creatively. Thanks for coming with me in yet another storytelling adventure!