Quiet Time

Via Vladimir de Thezier

This week I came across this in my Facebook feed: Stop the glorification of busy. I don’t know where or who it came from — it’s one of those things that have spread virally. But the post that I saw came with a link to this NY Times column by Tim Kreider on the perils of perpetual busyness and the human person’s need for idle time. It resonated so much with me. I admittedly am naturally inclined toward indolence, and I don’t like it when I get too busy to do the things I like to do — like indulge in my hobbies, spend time with people I love, and especially, stare into space and do absolutely nothing. And a statement from the article put so succinctly why these do-nothing periods ought to be prized and protected:

“The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration…”

Idle time provides the necessary incubation period for random nebulous thoughts and experiences to fly around freely and ultimately come together in those breakthrough “Eureka!” moments that spur inventions, discoveries, and other movements that change the world. Kreider further wrote that ironically, we need idle time to get things done.

This week happens to be one for “idle” time — as in time of prayer and no work. It’s Passover week in Judaism, and in many Christian cultures, it’s Holy Week. Here in the Philippines, Holy Thursday and Good Friday are non-working holidays, and most commercial and leisure establishments are closed, and all other activity in the city seems rather muted. Well this could be because a lot of folks have fled to the beaches for the long weekend. But for many others, it’s time for spending time with family, doing visita iglesia, and/or retreating into reflection and prayer.

Midori posted some ideas some time ago on Carving Out Quiet Space, and it’s a great read. For today’s post I thought I’d share with you some more inspiration for your own quiet nook in which to spend your quiet time.

Via Homedit

An enclosed space would be ideal, if only to minimize the outside world intruding into your sanctum. The image above is of the interior of the beautiful Tree of Life Chapel in Portugal. While it may not be practical or feasible to construct an entirely new building, the warm, welcoming wood and the graphic lines may be something that you want to apply to your room.

From Designation: Unknown and Embracing my Inner Wonder Woman Along the Way

But you don’t need to occupy an entire room, a corner will do, as in this space which only includes a chair, a side table, and a few visual pieces.

By Tom Spencer via Soul of the Garden

It doesn’t even have to be a corner! This window sill does beautifully.

All that silence and nothingness can seem intimidating for the perennially busy. An element that facilitates some sort of activity that goes hand-in-hand with the introspection could be just the thing.

Via 24-7 Prayer

This here is a “prayer tree” which you can look at or stick with prayers and names of family members you want to pray for. Click on the image for more ideas like it.

Via Fine Art America

Gardens make awesome prayer spaces. Nothing recharges and gets you in touch with your life than life itself springing forth from the earth.

Via My Walworth County

Here’s a novel idea, at least for me — labyrinths. These are not meant to confuse or make one lost, but rather serve as paths for quiet walks. These walks are said to quiet the mind, restore balance and relieve stress. They can be indoors or outdoors, and as big or as small as space allows.

Via UUWorld.org

Via Tribe

So here’s to some quiet alone time! May the concerns of work and chores not encroach on yours!


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Recipes for an Egg-cellent Easter

Spring has arrived but it seems that someone forgot to tell Mother Nature! It is so cold and grey here in Louisville that I find it hard to believe that Easter is this weekend. The weather has made me downright anti-social, so I’m tempted to follow See Jane Blog’s lead and host an Easter egg-decorating party to help me and my friends shake off the winter blues. I love her party favours and printable invitations!

Image: See Jane Blog

I haven’t dyed eggs since I was a kid, so I was really impressed to find that so many bloggers have moved beyond the basic dunk n’ dye method to create several stunning options. And because I hate to see good food go to waste, I have included some awesome recipes to use up those eggs!

Brights

Bright colours are just what I need right now to shake me out of my funk but traditional eggs can be a little gaudy. However, not these ones:

Image: Spoon Fork Bacon

This one is so simple that even the kids can do it but the results are remarkably refined.

Image: How About Orange

For those who are as obsessed by Pantone as I am, these are the Easter eggs for you!

Image: Studio DIY

I love the idea of using candy to give eggs a little pizzazz. And it matches one of this year’s biggest fashion trends, the caviar manicure.

Image: Brown Paper Packages

Just about anything can be used to decorate eggs; these cheery ones were made by with flower-patterned paper napkins and Mod Podge.

Image: Taste.com.au

To match the vibrant hues of these eggs, I suggest Chakchouka, eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce. To do this with Easter eggs, you will need to blow out the insides. To learn how, check out this tutorial. The yolks will be a little scrambled, but will still work in this recipe.

Subtle

If you prefer a more subdued colour scheme for your holiday decoration, there are lots of pastel and neutral options out there:

Image: Rosalind Creasy

For those who are concerned with chemical dyes, Rosalind Creasy shows how to achieve a rainbow of subtle shades using fruits and vegetables.

Image: Joy Ever After

And regular brown eggs look anything but plain when patterns are added with a white-out pen.

Image: Better Homes and Gardens

A mix of plain and coloured eggs makes for a thoroughly modern and understated centerpiece.

Image: Martha Stewart

Another way to add texture to your eggs is to wrap them in lace (also a big fashion trend this year) before dropping them in the dye bath; the result is extremely elegant.

Image: Pickled Plum

The easiest way to make Easter eggs is to hard-boil them but, seriously, how many egg salad sandwiches can one eat? Instead, why not make Japanese Flavoured Tea Eggs, which are as sophisticated as the subdued colours shown above.

Graphic

Black and white is not a traditional Easter colour scheme but for those who want to match a more modern décor, here are some suggestions:

Image: Fraeulein Klein

The key to these are simple, bold graphics and awesome fonts.

Image: Alisa Burke

This style matches well with a visually simple dish, like tamago nigiri, Japanese omelet sushi. While it looks easy, it can be quite a challenge to get the technique just right. Smoky Wok offers a wonderful recipe and photo tutorial and you will have lots of eggs to practice with!

Image: PIRQ Blog

No matter what style or recipe you chose, I hope that you have a wonderful holiday weekend full of egg-cellent fun!


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A Spring Table

image via mochatini

Who cares that there is a negative wind chill in the double digits and snow on the ground outside? It’s officially spring! and that’s as good an excuse as any to throw a party. Here are some table setting ideas that are a breath of fresh spring air, because whether you’re hosting Easter dinner or a spring-themed brunch, a perfect meal begins with a well dressed table.

image via on Sutton Place

No spring soiree is complete without flowers. You don’t need to spend a small fortune at the florists to style a table full of flowers. A few supermarket bouquets and some pretty jars or simple vases are all you really need. Put a handful of flowers in each container, the result is unfussy and pretty.

Sissinghurst Castle Dinner Plate from anthropologie

Sometimes all you need to create a spectacular table is the right set of dishes. These painterly plates from Anthropologie are bursting with spring blooms. I’m envisioning these with crisp white linens and gold plated utensils.

image via intimate weddings

A single colour like white, yellow, or in this case, Robin’s Egg blue, is a good starting point when designing a table. Making a bird’s nest out of twigs or grass is an easy way to create a quick centerpiece. The beauty of painted eggs, or even the simplicity of unadorned eggs, makes a lovely substitute for flowers.

image via house and home

A tempting dessert table is a lovely way to turn a meal into a special occasion. Pastel coloured treats and vintage serving platters are a dreamy combo for Easter brunch or dinner. If you don’t own a cakestand here is a great tutorial for making one out of vintage dishes.

image via Red Sole Diary

Of course, you can always ditch the pastels and go bold; lemon yellow and sky blue evoke spring in much the same way, plus they are invigorating. The tulips are definitely in keeping with the casual, fun-loving vibe of this table.

family photo eggs from a subtle revelry

For a family breakfast or brunch I love this idea of personalized photo eggs for place orders. Such a cute way to decorate. Plus it’s a good excuse to dust off those egg cups and put them to use.

Happy Friday Everyone!


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Coffee Art

Image from Coffee Hunter

If you have a coffee habit like myself, chances are you take your morning (or mid-afternoon) brew very seriously, and are possibly regulars at the local cafe by your office or home. You’ve also probably been to some cafes that might have an added bonus to your preferred cup — in the form of coffee art.

Photo by Cairns Dining via Flickr

Coffee art can be a delightful surprise, and can add to the experience of enjoying your favorite beverage. While it presumably started in Italy (the land of espresso!), it developed and gained momentum in the 1980’s and 1990’s in the United States.

Image from DesignCrave

The artwork is created on the top most layer composed of an emulsion of foam and crema. Since these two components are unstable chemically, the art lasts only for a few moments before sinking back into the rest of the drink.

There are two widely known ways to produce latte art: free pouring and etching. Techniques and styles in producing latte art vary from region to region and on how the drink is prepared.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Free pouring is more common in American cafes, and usually does not require more preparation time compared to etching. While more complex patterns are possible through free pouring, the rosette and heart shape are the most popular designs.

Even with the simple base patterns however, baristas take liberty in developing a personal flair for their latte art, sometimes customising the basic pattern into something more unique.

This and preceding images by tonx via Flickr

Etching on the other hand requires a little more attention to detail. In order to create the detailed drawings and patterns, a small tool such as a coffee stirrer or a similar item is needed, sometimes adding some foam on to the crema as well. Since the foam dissolves more quickly, etched art typically has a shorter lifespan.

Depending on the skill and experience of the barista, the designs on coffee art can be more complex and detailed.

Images by Keiko Kojima (original)

I also found funny and unique designs.

Image from Trend Hunter

Image by Okelsiy Pikalo Invents

Coffee art certainly makes your drinking experience deliciously beautiful and interesting!


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Fertililty Symbols

Via Inhabitots

As somebody who hails from a place where it’s hot and humid for most of the time, I am quite fascinated by where the seasons are so radically distinct, and felt in the most in-your-face way. I don’t experience the bite of winter nor the accompanying longing for spring, nor the giddy high when this longing is finally fulfilled.

I find it intriguing how a lot of the customs that are practiced even in my corner of the world revolve around celebrating spring, the season of fertility and rebirth. For instance, a lot of weddings happen this time of year, and I’ve only recently realized how appropriate it is! Weddings are traditionally a prelude to child-bearing, and what better season to procreate than when the earth is sprouting seeds, shoots, and flowers?

So for today’s post, we’ll celebrate spring by celebrating fertility symbols!

Woman of Willendorf

She used to be called Venus of Willendorf (modern-day Aggsbach, Austria) and she’s estimated to be 20,000 years old. That’s a lot of zeroes, which means she’s way older than the Venus of Roman mythology, which is probably why the name didn’t stick. She has no feet, and she can’t stand on her own. Her face is covered by horizontal bands which many figure to be plaited hair. Archaeologists have unearthed many other figurines that look very much like her. Scholars think that her disproportionately large breasts and belly, and very detailed nether parts, point to her having been used as a fertility symbol in ancient times.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Eggs & Bunnies

These are nowadays are used as Easter symbols, but they are so because they represent fertility. Eggs are themselves evidence of fertility, and bunnies, well, they are known to reproduce really quickly and easily.

Via Inhabitots

Via Simply Living, Living Simply

Lingling-o

These are female fertility charms that are used in indigenous cultures in the Philippines and in certain parts of Southeast Asia. Its key characteristic is in its shape — rounded with a slit in the bottom. The negative space in the middle is said to resemble an embryo with an umbilical cord attached. The shape too makes it easy to be worn as ear ornaments, but they can also be used as pendants.

Via Baybayin Alive

Chopsticks

It’s strange, I know. But it just so happens that the Chinese term for chopsticks, zhu, also also translates as “many sons”, and because of this chopstick sets when given as wedding gifts are said to bring luck.

Image via Live Auctioneers


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