Goodbye Summer 2011

box of strawberry popsicles
Natural strawberry popsicles- guilt free summer fun

Summer 2011 is ending this week, and I think it can be helpful to get closure on the last season and try to embrace the upcoming season.  Summer 2010 we had just moved to our new apartment, so there was a lot of settling in, slowly making the home look and feel like we wanted.  This past summer we were able to enjoy our home more.  We do have central air in this apartment, a first for both Lorenzo and myself, so that felt like a new luxury.  We wanted to save money on electricity but still use our AC on those humid 90 degree days, so we kept the thermostat at a higher temperature.  That worked very well, particularly with liberal use of our secret stay-cool weapon, natural fruit popsicles.  Lorenzo’s favorite is coconut and mine is strawberry.  They’re only 100 calories each, and I’m sure we saved a lot of money on AC because we were keeping cooler by eating popsicles.  Well come to think of it, we did have a lot of popsicles!  On my last shopping trip I bought more, but it will probably be the last time this year.  Now I have to have hot tea afterwards to stay warm.

Janet w/pansies
Summer flowers on our back porch, greeting us every morning

Another thing that stands out about summer is that I finally planted pansies in a window box.  We inherited a large window box planter at the end of last summer, and I had a very specific image in my mind of dark pink pansies for it.  This spring I procrastinated, but this summer I went and got the pansies and  and also a hanging basket of pansies.  I went with my “Little Sister” Jazzy from Big Brothers Big Sisters, so that made the purchasing and planting a million times more special.  Watching a 10 year old city kid make her first mud pies with a bucket, dirt, and a hose was pretty much priceless.  I’m looking forward to having even more fun this fall, and I hope you will too.

Sculpture Moment

Paige Bradley's sculpture "Expansion"
Paige Bradley's sculpture "Expansion" www.PaigeBradley.com

Today I saw a photo of a very interesting sculpture on someone’s Facebook page, and I thought I’d share it here.  It is done by Paige Bradley, and you can see her sculpture on her website here.  It’s worth a look even if you only like this one piece, because you can see the illuminated base of the sculpture, plus other backdrops with it.  Also she has a section of her site where she shows drawings, under the tab “works on paper.”

Before I mention my own thoughts about the sculpture, I wanted to ask, what does this sculpture mean/show/evoke for you?  Do you like it?  Why?  There are four different photos of this sculpture on her website.  This one here on my blog is the only one I could easily download, but it’s not my favorite of the photos.  Which is your favorite?

I am not always moved by sculptures, but I particularly like the light coming from within her.  Personally, it reminds me of the light generated by one’s energy centers, or chakras, emanating out into that person’s aura.   Energy blocks, denial, facades or deceptive self- images we hide behind can surpress our energy a little like the opaque parts of the sculpture.  For me the woman shown in the sculpture knows that her true freedom and wisdom comes from within, and from clearing the burdens and energy blocks she has within her own space.   My favorite two photos are on her website, where it shows the illuminated base of the sculpture as well.

“King Corn” movie inspires eating changes…..

King Corn documentary
Food for thought.....

We just finished watching “King Corn” which is a documentary movie we saw “On Demand” with our Netflix.com subscription.  Part of the movie covers how cheap corn is used as feed for cattle, which really isn’t the best for their health.  They are fed on feed lots where they can’t get much exercise due to crowding, and fattened up as soon as possible, in months in stead of years.  One guy in the movie said the cows are basically obese, plus it showed just a bit of how it gives them excess stomach acid and other health issues so they have to be given antibiotics all the time.

Well I think this movie has finally pushed us into changing our food buying and eating habits, at least with beef.  I will document in this blog how it goes for us so you can see if our resolve lasts.  Just check the lower right side of the page where you see categories listed and go to the Food category in the future to see other posts on this.  Up until now we have tried to economize and have bought our ground beef and frozen chicken at Trader Joes, and cold cuts and frozen tilapia at Aldi.  I had already decided to stop buying cold cuts period because for some reason they make me break out.  Because of this movie we will try to only buy beef from Whole Foods and we’ll make sure it’s grass fed not corn/grain fed. As far as our chicken, we are still debating what to do.  I think we are nervous about the cost, but we’ll have to investigate the cost difference between frozen chicken at Trader Joes and chicken pieces at the Whole Foods meat counter.  Most likely Trader Joe’s frozen chicken comes from a factory farm where antibiotics are given liberally.  Now do we change all that now, or just our beef buying habits?  How about you guys, dear readers?  So we’re definitely changing our beef buying, but for chicken we will research further.  Stay tuned!

The movie also discusses how much calories people consume with sodas which have tons of high fructose corn syrup.  We already don’t drink soda, so we’re OK there.  Years ago I heard how soda syrup can be used to clean corrosion off of truck engines, and that was pretty much it for me and soda.

Desserts & Repressed Emotions

fruit tarts
Mmmmmm look good

So most of us have seen huge dessert cases, either in bakeries or at stores like Whole Foods.  How do you feel when standing in front of a huge dessert case?  Tonight I went to the Whole Foods on the NW side of Chicago on Cicero Ave.  As an energy reader I work with many people and often help people who want to alter their eating habits.  I enjoy reading the unique issues that impact each person’s eating choices and experiences.

Repressed emotion definitely comes into play when standing in front of a huge dessert case.  It must be repressed emotion that blurs my thinking as I look at all of these mini fruit tarts at Whole Foods.  My mind goes in a loop between:

1.  How delicious.

2.  I want many.  They’re so tiny.

3.  They are $1.49 each.

4.  It’d be way too expensive with all the ones I want.  Better have none.

5.  (Loops back to #1)

I swear this loop goes round and round about three times in my mind, then I pull myself away either to go towards another part of the store, or to debate another dessert selection.  I never get the tiny fruit tarts, yet each time I see them so beautifully arranged, the mental loop begins.

desserts
Tonight's choice, one "chocolate bomb"

I ended up buying a “chocolate bomb” shown in the center row of this photo.  On the way home I realized some of the repressed emotions involved in my own dessert thought process and was able to let go of some of the blocked energy.  When Lorenzo and I split the small “chocolate bomb” at home it was fantastic.  Chocolate mousse with a dark chocolate shell- very light and “surprisingly good,” as Lorenzo says.  The “bomb” in the name is a real misnomer, as it’s a pretty delicate flavor.  I ate it so slowly, with hot tea.  I haven’t savored a dessert so slowly in years.  I know for sure it was because I had released some of my emotional baggage and was able to be more present with the experience.  How cool.  Same calories, greater experience.  Woo-hoo!

My next task is I’ll have to clear even more blocked, repressed emotion so I can actually think clearly about those mini fruit tarts!!!!

Cookies, part 1

photo of a box of cookies w/string handle
Love this packaging, Trader Joes Snaquarium Cookies

When I saw this cookie box and that it was only 99 cents I had to buy it, well, buy two.  I ate one box as I drove home from the store.  They really don’t taste that great, but the fact that I was eating tiny cookies shaped like ocean animals from a box with a string was really great for my inner child.  I’d show you the ocean animal shapes in a photo here, but I’m saving the other box for when I spend time with my “Little Sister” from Big Brothers Big Sisters this Saturday.  She’s 10 years old, and in some ways she’s 10 and in some ways she has been exposed to so many adult things in music videos and lyrics, etc. she’s partially all grown.  Also she may not have ever seen the animal crackers cookies boxes that come in a little red box with a string handle, so she won’t get the reference.  Will she love these cookies?  We’ll see.

chocolate chunk cookie from Trader Joes
A cookie you buy for the taste, not the packaging, melting in my hand

As a kid, a cookie just had to be a cookie for me to love it, except for those weird rum balls from the holidays.  Now as an adult my husband and I both watch our carb intake and calories and sugar to some extent, so for me a cookie has to be worth it.  Here is the cookie I’ve been nibbling as I type this.  It’s a Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chunk cookie which comes in a simple white bag, found near the bread rather than the cookies in the store.  Also their double chocolate chunk cookie is even better.  Often now we try to go weeks without bringing any cookies at all into the house, which certainly makes it easier to behave.  When we have cookies at home, like now, we pick a number of them in advance to put on our plate, and generally stick to it.  I am hypoglycemic so my carb, sugar, and protein intake have to be appropriate.  I had a big sandwich with lots of meat and only one piece of bread before writing this cookie post, to make sure my blood sugar would remain stable enough for me to enjoy my experiential writing exercise.  So, it’s a little more complicated then when you are a kid and you think you could eat cookies all day.  But with great power, comes great responsibility, right?  Here’s to cookies.

In praise of falafel and hummus from Salam Restaurant


falafel being made
Falafel being made at Salam Restaurant

Today’s blog post is dedicated to our love of falafel, and hummus, in particular from Salam Restuarant near our Albany Park Chicago home.  Here are 145 yelp reviewers giving stellar reviews on Salam’s yelp page.

So why is falafel bright green on the inside?  It’s because of all the parsley that it is green.  The batter is made up of parsley, chick pea, green onion, and secret spices.  🙂  Here we see them using what looks like a small ice cream scoop to create a formed scoop of the batter before it is dropped into a deep fryer basket and fried in vegetable oil.

falafel and hummus
Falafel, hummus, & pita, from Salam Restaurant

I chose a small order of hummus with pita to go with our falafel.  Boy was it amazing.  According to their yelp page, WGN proclaimed Salam to have the best hummus in Chicago, last October 2010.  Lorenzo couldn’t agree more.  He says it’s the best f*#@^ing hummus he’s ever had.  Can I write ‘fucking’ in my own blog?  Anyway, if you have never eaten this food you need to.  Really.  🙂

Creating your own waking up rituals- tea time part 1

How you start your day is an important way to improve how you feel throughout your day.  Positive rituals you create as part of your waking up process can help you to feel like this is YOUR day, and that you’re going to enjoy it.

soymilk, yerba mate tea, and honey
Taking a moment for tea time

In our house, Lorenzo and I are very much in love with our tea.  One of our favorite cups of tea is yerba mate, with Organic Valley chocolate soy milk, and honey.  Here is the wikipedia page on yerba mate.  Basically it is a traditional tea native to South America which has caffeine and other natural stimulants.  This brand we use Guayaki can be bought online or at Whole Foods and similar stores, and in bag form only at Trader Joes.  Organic Valley chocolate soy milk tastes so good you could even have a cup of it as an “I’m behaving” dessert.  🙂  Yerba mate has a pleasing smell, and with the honey and soy milk, it is very tasty.  I like to eat a high-protein breakfast, and then have a cup of yerba mate and sit and meditate.  I sit by our front windows where I have a nice view.

Many of my clients work outside their home, and their morning wake up consists of dressing in clothes that they don’t enjoy, skipping breakfast, and rushing out the door.  Their mind and energy is already focused in the future on their work and the hardest tasks of their day.  I understand this completely, but even in the busiest of days there is another way.  Most people could build two minutes into that time where you take a break, take some deep breaths, a few sips of tea, or just sit or stretch, and reflect on the big picture of your life, or something that you love.  Set the tone for your day, rather than letting your tasks and duties set the tone.  Serenity and peace of mind do not come to your life accidentally.  You have to plant it in your heart, one little morning break at a time.  Here’s to your peace of mind, and positive morning rituals that are uniquely yours.

“Cupcake Week” celebrates delicious new art piece and sugary goodness

So guess what?  Now Lorenzo is making art that inspires life in a whole new way.

copywrighted image of strawberry cupcake done by Chicago artist Lorenzo Ross
The Adventures of Ms. Strawberry Cupcake

Lorenzo’s latest piece “Adventures of Ms. Strawberry Cupcake” has inspired us to create and celebrate our own new holiday: Cupcake Week!  Here’s the inspirational print, now available on our etsy shop PsychicUnicorns

In this print Ms. Strawberry Cupcake is strolling by mountains of chocolate ice cream topped in hot fudge, of course.

Cupcake Week lasts from Feb 2/22/11 until Monday Feb 2/28/11 so you still have time to celebrate!  If you don’t know any gourmet cupcake places, they are all over Chicagoland.  You can search for cupcake bakery on yelp.com to get you started.

photo of four gourmet cupcakes
gourmet cupcakes from Sensational Bites in Chicago

Here’s what we did to celebrate cupcake week so far.  We went to Sensational Bites, a gourmet bakery that bakes cupcakes, pies, cakes, etc., in Lakeview, Chicago.  We read famed yelper Johnny T’s yelp review and knew that place was worthy of our celebration.  Here’s a link to the yelp page for Sensational Bites

This photo shows most of the heavenly cupcakes we consumed yesterday.  We ate the almond coconut cupcake in the cafe, so it is not shown in this photo. Clockwise from the top we ate: orange dreamsicle, german chocolate, raspberry truffle, and Butterfinger (peanut butter).  They were all close-your-eyes-and-savor delicious!  True story, I think I have been craving the raspberry truffle cupcake for the last six months, not knowing or finding exactly what I needed until my first rapturous moment yesterday when I took a bite.  That cupcake is actually filled with the mushy yummy raspberry chocolate part too.  My favorite, to say the least.  Lorenzo’s favorite was the german chocolate one, saying it’s one of the best versions of german chocolate he has had.  German chocolate is practically a personal religion for him.  🙂  I figured finding out which he liked second best would be more telling, but he replied “Picking one would be like saying which child you loved the most.”  So there you have it folks, art inspiring life.  Yummmmmm!

On Friday I will blog about our continued adventures during Cupcake Week.  Stay tuned.  If you are inspired to celebrate your own Cupcake Week, you may want to buy the Adventures of Ms. Strawberry Cupcake print to make it truly official, and as always eat cupcakes responsibly.  Hydrate and eat plenty of protein so that you can stay healthy and balanced, while swimming in sugary bliss.

Feed your creativity with Etsy, What is Etsy.com?

Art prints of Lorenzo Ross’ work are for sale on Etsy.com.  But wait, what is Etsy?  While Etsy is a hugely popular site, I believe it has a lot of room for growth in the future.  Etsy.com is like eBay for all forms of handmade art, sold directly by the artist, but much more.  Etsy’s fees for the artist are much lower than eBay, and furthermore they send adorable, encouraging emails to the Etsy “shop owners” to help the artists grow in areas like pricing, promotion, product photos, the psychology of sales, etc.  After all, just because you are creative and make a lovely product doesn’t mean you know anything about business.  Add that to the fact that Etsy is all about handmade, and it is a huge forum for shoppers who want something quirky and unique.  Etsy has a convenient search engine with easy viewing and buying, and the feel-good factor of communicating with and buying directly from the artist.

So as you see I could go on and on about Etsy, but we’ll save that for other blog entries.   So how can you begin to use Etsy?  You could follow this link to our PsychicUnicorns Etsy shop my husband and I have http://www.etsy.com/shop/psychicunicorns
While original paintings of Lorenzo’s cost hundreds of dollars, our prints with paper size 8.5″ x 11″ are $18.00.  Lorenzo will be doing a big range of styles in the future, so stay tuned.  While we can never constrain Lorenzo’s inspiration, upcoming art themes may or may not include diverse images of women, lions, cupcakes, cats and dogs, Obama, and yes perhaps even unicorns.

Feel free also to check out other art on Etsy.  There is a staggering range of art, as I said.  For example I love peacock feathers, and I have enjoyed searching for all the art that comes up when I search for peacock on Etsy.  You can just browse, or make your own Etsy account as an artist or as a shopper.  With your own Etsy account, you can choose an entire shop or an individual art piece as your “favorite.”  This helps you to remember things you like and may buy later, and also helps the artist because it increases their exposure to other shoppers, and validates they have a fan base.

Etsy itself will be just one of the many topics I cover on this Mon, Wed, Fri blog.  Future etsy-related blog entries will include more Etsy search ideas, and features on other Etsy artists.  Other blog topics I will have here are more about Lorenzo the artist, our rescue cats, our in-home dog boarding adventures, fun info about my life as a psychic, and our yummy Albany Park neighborhood, on the NW side of Chicago.  In the meantime, if you have any questions at all about Etsy, feel free to contact me and I will do my best to assist you, or you can go right to the source at http://www.Etsy.com.