Ital (eye'-tal): of or from the earth; vital; life giving; natural.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Honey Coconut Peanut Butter

Last weekend we made our monthly trip to Price Smart (think Costco) and loaded up our new cupboards with lots of yumminess. We went a bit nuts with the nuts so of course I just had to make some homemade peanut butter! Here is my super simple recipe, but I warn you, you may eat all of it in one sitting, it's that good!

1 cup roasted peanuts
1 Tbls honey
2-3+ Tbls unrefined coconut oil
1/4 Tsp salt (you may omit this if you use roasted/salted peanuts)

Place the peanuts, honey and salt in a food processor or blender. Blend on high while adding in the coconut oil until smooth and creamy. That's it!!! Enjoy!! Really. I had to stop myself from eating all of it straight out of the food processor! It was warm from all the blending and goopy and wonderfully coconutty! You may need to add more oil than the recommended 3 Tbl in order to get it to the right consistency. It really depends on how oily the peanuts are. If they were roasted in a bit of oil or butter, you may need less coconut oil. And be sure to get the unrefined coconut oil otherwise, it won't have the coconut flavor!

Happy Eating!
Peace and wellnes,

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Lizard, the Rock and the Pipe: A Parable

There once was a Boy who was kind and compassionate. He had big ideas. He had a big vocabulary. He had a big determined soul. And he had a big desire to be accepted by the Big Boys in his neighborhood.

One day when the Boy was outside playing with the Big Boys, he came upon a Lizard. Now, the boy was fascinated with the many lizards that lived around his neighborhood. He would spend time watching them climb and run and eat bugs. He asked many questions about the lizards and generally enjoyed their company. However on this particular day, perhaps to gain favor with the Big Boys or perhaps it was just the Winds of Fate testing the young Boy, he determined that this particular Lizard was poisonous and should be banished. So the Boy found a Big Rock to throw at Lizard. Boy did not anticipate Lizard's sharp reflexes and quick speed. Lizard was gone to safety a millisecond after Big Rock left Boy's hand. Big Rock landed instead on a large water main pipe, smashing an impressive hole in it.

The Big Boys, knowing that the situation was not good, scattered. Boy stood alone, crying next to the broken pipe. Water continued to gush from the pipe all day and long into the night. When Sun came up again the next day, water was still pouring from the pipe, out into Boy's street and the many streets beyond his little neighborhood. The people had to step carefully around the puddles and the cars drove slowly through the raging waters. It was as if the rains had come and flooded the little neighborhood.

Boy looked around and questioned, "Why is there water everywhere?" Boy's father answered in a rather rough voice, "YOU, did this!" Boy hung his head in silence as he thought about how had caused the water to run through the streets. He thought about Lizard. He thought about life. He thought about how his actions affect those around him---and how this can be in a positive way or a negative way.

Boy's parents talked a lot...to boy, to each other, to other family members...in order to find the best path through the situation. Boy's parents were more upset by Boy's attempt at harming Lizard than by the broken pipe. Life and nurturing Life for all creatures great and small is what they try to foster in their family.

Many moons and suns went by. The pipe got fixed. Boy moved to a new neighborhood. And Lizard got a new Big Rock to sun himself on in the hot and humid afternoons.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I recently attended an I Ching workshop which revealed more to me than I realized at the time. The I Ching is an ancient Chinese system for understanding and communing with nature, the cosmos, the elements, each other...

The Yin Yang Principle, Feng Shui, Tai Chi, the Tao, Chinese Astrology are all based on the I Ching or Book of Changes. The underlying philosophy is this: Life is Flow; Things Change; Our job is to accept Change and find Balance.

One of the biggest realizations for me during the workshop is that balance does not always mean 50/50. For example, the earth's atmosphere is balanced at 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen. In humans, females are balanced with 70% female hormones and 30% male hormones and vice versa.

Many of Mo and I's struggles have come out of the belief that we each must contribute 50% to all aspects of the relationship. He earns 50% of our household income and I earn 50%. He cooks 50% of the time; I cook the other 50%. I bathe the kids half the time and he the other half and so on. In most cases this "balance" of contribution failed and left us feeling angry and frustrated. With this new perspective on balance we are rebuilding the infrastructure of our relationship. We are seeing with new eyes how each of us can contribute to make for a more sustainable, healthy and peaceful family life.
I learned a lot more during this powerful workshop and will be writing a number of posts about it in the coming weeks.
Until soon...
Peace and Wellness,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cornmeal Porridge

When I originally wrote this post, we had just moved into a new apartment. We waited at least a week for our stove and refrigerator to be delivered. Then we waited another 2 weeks for them to come hook up the stove. We were given a microwave oven as courtesy gift from the department store where we bought the stove and fridge so that became our main stay for any sort of "hot" food for the first month or two. I'm not really into microwave cooking and I actually try to avoid them at all costs. Ours will soon be sold as it is just something to store the bananas on, really.

I still make cornmeal porridge (a lot). My kids love it and it is quintessentially Jamaican. The recipe remains the same as below, but I cook it on the stove top and I find that I need to add about a cup of water. I also increase the raw sugar to about 1/4 cup or I substitute it for honey or agave nectar. Enjoy!


It's recipe time! A staple breakfast item here is cornmeal porridge (call it the oatmeal of Jamaica). It is also known as the food of the people because cornmeal is super cheap and super filling. (As heard in the second verse of Bob Marley's song, "No Woman, No Cry".) It has become one of Shine's favorites so we have been eating it every morning. Lately, I've been making individual servings in the microwave.

Microwave safe bowl
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp raw sugar
1 Tsp all spice

Mix cornmeal, sugar and all spice in bowl. Add coconut milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave on high for another minute. Stir and Serve.

The sign of a good Jamaican cook is creamy cornmeal porridge with no lumps. I have a long way to go in this regard because mine is always lumpy. You can make this on a conventional stove top and it is much easier to get a creamy, lump free porridge because you can constantly stir it while it thickens. If you make it on the stove, just keep the ratio of 1 cornmeal to 2 milk/water and sweeten to your liking. Enjoy!

Friday, August 19, 2011

At the End of the Day

This summer began with a lot of great expectations. Opportunities seemed to be around every corner...opportunities that would permit us to travel, advance our careers, permit us time to spend together as a family, build community, secure our finances, expand and grow. But as is the nature of life, things change...

We had a number of set backs. Jobs, that Mo and I thought we had, disappeared at the last minute and squashed any plans of sending the kids to summer camp or retreating to the mountains for a long family weekend. Our decision to move to a new apartment complicated some already fragile family relationships and strained an already pinched budget. Health emergencies arose with family and friends both here and abroad. Mo actually collapsed from exhaustion and spent a night in the hospital. So, the last couple of weeks have been stressful to say the least.

In the thick of it, I mourned the loss of all I had hoped our summer would be. I cried for everything I didn't have or was taken away from me. I felt like we had lost all the ground we had gained when we moved here and that we were again taking 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. I realize now how selfish I was being. It's just that Mo and I have been struggling for years and we just want a break...some breathing room...

Life is hard. There are challenges. And when one obstacle is overcome, there is another waiting around the corner. I can't get caught up in what is missing from my life...because when I look around, I see that my life is overflowing with so much. At the end of the day, I sit down with my family to enjoy a simple meal and a gorgeous sunset and I know how truly blessed I am. I give Thee thanks with a full heart...


Sunset from our balcony

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rae Studios is featured!

I am the featured artist on the blog: Sea Shells by the Sea Shore! Enjoy the excerpt below. For the full interview, please click on the link.

Sea Shells by Sea Shore: Latest Featured Artist Interview- Rae Studios:
What are some things that bring you joy or inspire you?

I love nature. It fuels my soul and jump starts my creativity. I love sitting outside with my cup of coffee in the morning watching the coconut trees rustling in the breeze. When I decided to move to Brooklyn to attend art school, a friend of mine said, “Are you sure you will be able to survive there? I don’t know anyone who needs trees as much as you do!” Well, I did survive and trees really do grow in Brooklyn, but I’m really thriving now that I am surrounded by gorgeous green mountains and the blue, blue sea.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The New New Place!

As promised, here is the tour of our new place. It is in a beautiful complex with lots of outdoor space, uber yummy mango trees, coconut trees and avocado too! Those are the town houses to the left. We live in the apartment building featured on the right...on the top floor!

This is the visitor's parking as well as the main entrance to the building. Ours is the second balcony from the left up on the top...rather hidden behind the big tree in this shot...

Lots of pretty trees. There are even those fancy Fan Palms which you can kind of see here...

This is where the mango and avocado trees live...yummmmmmmmmmmmm!

Resident parking is actually under the building or on the ground level. What I love about this building is how open it is. You can see the floors above.

Look, Poppo! Mailboxes!! No more mail stuffed under the front door!

And there is a laundry room on the ground level as well. It is actually much bigger than this picture shows. This is just one corner on one side...

And a clothes line too!! Yippee!! This is the small clothesline area. There is a bigger one behind a pretty white fence over where the mango and avocado trees live.

We've also got an elevator, which is great for hefting laundry from the top floor all the way down here!

Once you get off the elevator on the top floor you can look down and see this cool architectural feature.

The building consists of three wings or blocks around a central hub. This is the view between wings.

This is our hallway or wing looking back towards the central hub.

Here's the same view just at a slightly different angle.

And here is our house! Please come in and make yourself at home! Coming soon, a proper "Welcome" mat and some lovely potted plants!

Inside. It's cozy and spacious all at the same time!

When you step through the front door, you are immediately in the kitchen. Hello, fancy new stove!

One of my favorite features of our new home is the slatted wood ceiling! Here in the kitchen it is painted a lovely white. It is left the natural wood color in the rest of the apartment. It gives off a nice scent as soon as you walk in! And it is about 20 feet high in the living room!!

We have 2 full bathrooms. Here is the downstairs one. Again, it has the wonderful wood ceiling! Oh, and there is a window in every room...

Next to the bathroom is the kidlets' bedroom. This is the only room with a plaster ceiling, but it is cool and cozy in here!

This is a not very great picture of the study/den/architecture office. It's next to the living room and balcony. But it has a great window with a view...see below...

Going up?! The master suite is in the loft above the kitchen. P.S. We love Spiral Staircases! P.P.S. I know, Mama, the geebas!! No worries, we will make it geeba friendly...

We have a second full bathroom upstairs and yes, those are jets in the tub!!!

There will be some great art made in this walk in closet turned studio!! Just wait and see!

Looking out the bedroom door to the main living area...

Going down...

The living space is small but we have this super cool balcony that makes it a whole lot bigger!!

Our make shift table and our view!

View to the right...

View front and center...and well I don't know why I didn't take the view to the left. I did try to take the view at night, but the photos don't do it justice...you'll just have to come see for yourself!

Someone is feeling right at home...

She likes it, she likes it!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

We've Moved!

Our summer is wrapping up with another move! No, no, we are still in Jamaica...and still in Kingston, just in a bigger and brighter space...with a view!! My life is in piles and boxes but I promise to post pictures just as soon as I locate the camera charger!

I hope you are enjoying your summer wherever in the world you may be!
Until soon...
Peace and Wellness,