Friday, December 1, 2017

Hanukkah a Mini Guide to the Jewish Holiday

Hanukkah is a joyous, festive Jewish holiday. This year as you wish a Happy Hanukkah to others, you'll have read this blog and understand a few of the customs and symbols associated with the holiday better. 

Hanukkah spans eight nights and eight days and begins this year on the night of Dec. 12, 2017. It commemorates the Israelites/Maccabees' victories over the Greco-Syrians in regaining the ancient Temple in Jerusalem (approx. 164 BCE-142 BCE). This enabled Jews to practice our religion freely. 

Legend goes that when the ancient Jerusalem Temple was reclaimed, there was only enough oil to burn in the eternal light for one night. A miracle occurred, and the oil burned for eight days and eight nights. The custom of lighting eight candles (one a night) on the menorah is a celebration and tribute to the miracle of light and religious freedom. Perhaps that's why this holiday came to be called The Festival of Lights. 

What are traditional Hanukkah colors? Accessories, from table linens to toys and serving dishes are customarily blue and white or blue and silver colors. The most obvious explanation for this color scheme is the Israeli flag, designed by the Zionist movement in 1891 and officially adopted in 1948, is blue and white.

Hanukkah is observed differently around the world. In America, a child may receive presents, attend a Hanukkah Party, sing songs, and play a game with a dreidel ( a spinning top). In Sephardi/Spanish Jewish homes, you might see the menorah, hanging suspended at the doorpost of each house.

Eating is a big part of any Jewish holiday. One traditional food served in the U.S. is a fried potato pancake called a latke (a symbol of the oil). To entertain during this holiday at my house, I prepare Vegan Potato Latkes and offer the recipe to you. You don't have to be Jewish to like them, so give it a try.

Potato Latkes (pancakes) Vegan and Gluten Free (Makes approx. 15 pancakes)

Ingredients: I use Organic Ingredients Whenever Available

4 large all-purpose potatoes, peeled

1 medium yellow onion chopped fine
1 flaxseed egg: mix 1 Tablespoon whole ground flaxseed meal with 3 Tablespoons water and let sit for at least 20 minutes before using
2 Tablespoons gluten free Matzo Meal or gluten free old fashioned ground oats
a pinch of salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil or olive oil spray

What to Do:

1. Mix up ground flaxseed meal as described above.

2. Grate potatoes with the grating blade of a food processor.

Note: If the potato mixture is left too long in the air, it will turn an unattractive gray color. Work quickly or add 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice to the mix, before you portion it out.

 3. Place the grated potato in a colander and press down in order to remove as much liquid as possible.

4. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together, except for the oil.

5. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet, until a drop of water sizzles when dropped into the oil. Drop about two tablespoons of the mixture into the pan for each pancake. Flatten pancakes with the back of a spoon to get a somewhat uniform size (about 2-3 inches in diameter).

6. Fry pancakes at medium heat four or five minutes. Turn carefully and cook on the other side for about the same amount of time.

7. After each pancake is cooked, drain on a paper towel.

8. Top with apple sauce, fruit compote, cinnamon, or other sweet spice.


Another custom of the holiday is to give small gifts such as golden or silver metallic paper covered chocolate coins (gelt) to each child after the blessing for the candle is chanted and the Hanukkah candle is lit each night. That means children are getting at least eight presents in all.

Susan from Organized 31 was kind enough to give me permission to use her photo and let me supply a link to her post, which illustrates blue and silver gift bags to hold these small treasures. The crochet directions come from Sara Rivka from Creative Jewish Mom. What a crafty idea and follow through.

A handmade Hanukkah gift is a special way to celebrate. #hanukkah
source, Susan at Organized 31

What's the correct spelling for Hanukkah? Hanukkah is not easily transliterated into English, and accounts for why there are so many ways to spell it. Hanukkah and Chanukah are the two versions that are most widely used and accepted. 

When we gaze at or meditate about light from the Hanukkah candles, it may help us look inside ourselves more deeply. Recently, I've been reflecting on a quotation from Rabbi Naomi Levy, author of Einstein and the Rabbi: Searching for the Soul.

"We are carrying God's light within us. It burns like a pilot light, always available to help us and guide us. It's our responsibility to honor and tend that light, to keep sharing it and spreading it." 

That's an important reason why I blog.

How do you shine your light in the world? Do you feel by sharing your gifts, you make the world a better place to be? 

Please comment. You're welcome to share your favorite holiday practice or tradition with my readers and me. Let the light of brotherhood and sisterhood shine.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

This Nov Use Purple to Inspire You

Purple is my November color, symbol of creativity and higher wisdom. Those who respond to purple may have an artistic or dramatic flair. Some wear it, because they intuitively know it balances thinking and calms hyperactivity. Purple can help you too. Use it to give you a sense of connection and to soothe your spirit.
Gaze at the mandala below. It suggests the continuous circle of life. If you desire completion, continuity, or a new beginning, envision a purple mandala. Place a purple drawing or representation of a mandala in your home meditation  area. Then, while you mediate, know that purple energy supports you in each moment as thoughts and feelings freely flow through you. 

Lavender is a calming essential oil made from flowers that are purple. It's a traditional remedy for insomnia or restlessness at night. It also works to heal scratches, burns, headaches, and worry. When you have trouble falling asleep, imagine a field of Lavender flowers. Sprinkle a few drops of Lavender essential oil on your pillow or tip of your nose. It helps you drift softly off to dreamland.
In the color spectrum, purple has the shortest wavelength and vibrates at the highest frequency. Purple paint is a blend of relaxed, cool blue with excitable, hot red. This hue is often associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition. Purple also signifies wealth, wisdom, dignity, grandeur, devotion, independence, and magic. In some cultures, purple symbolizes mourning, decadence, and the supernatural.
Want to put more purple into daily living? Wear an Amethyst ring or bracelet to feel protected and serene. Place purple crystals in your work or home environment to feel less pressure about deadlines and reduce stress.

Place purple orchids or another purple flowering plant beside your computer, tablet, or reading area to take note of its beauty, relieve eye strain, and give you a fresh perspective.

Put purple in your life when you are learning to integrate new skills. Use purple pencils, markers, or other drawing material to encourage your imagination to work in practical ways.
Purple is the color of the crown chakra, the energy center that supports trust, devotion, inspiration, and wisdom. Focus on the area at the top of the head and envision purple. It can help you to feel unity within yourself, with others, and with the Universe.
November is a good time for purple. The color conveys grateful energy. Think of purple's rich color before you start a project or are at a gathering. It will help you view your experiences as building blocks to greater understanding and knowledge. 

Purple is a great Thanksgiving color, one that reminds you to count your blessings. Perhaps its ability to inspire will motivate you to serve red cabbage, radicchio, eggplant, or purple grapes at a festive meal this season.

Red Cabbage, Japanese Eggplant, Radicchio

The holidays are fast approaching, and I wish you'd consider purchasing the interactive self-care journal Colors of Joy. Its color themed activities include ones that feature purple. 

Purple Chapter Start from Colors of Joy

Colors of Joy is an eye-catching addition to any woman's self-care journal library. In fact, it makes an attractive gift for all the women you care about. See more and order Colors of Joy  on my Website. If you prefer, order it through Amazon Books. 

Before you go, please comment by scrolling down below and posting your comment in the space provided. I'd love to know about your relationship to purple. For me, it's a unifying color that makes me feel happy, peaceful, and alive. How does purple make you feel? Do you wear it often and for what reasons? Did my blog post and illustrations help you in some way? Please comment below. 


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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Use Indigo and the Third Eye Chakra to Increase Intuition

Indigo, the mysterious blue color of the nighttime sky, is associated with the Third Eye Chakra. This energy center stimulates intuition, clear thinking, insights, wisdom, and spiritual awareness. 

The chakras are the energy system that delivers vibrational messages from mind to body and vice versa. Gazing at, visualizing, or meditating on an indigo object like a flower works with the conscious and subconscious mind to restore vitality to places in the mind or body that need it.

Nighttime is the right time for rest and sleep. In sleep, insights and inner wisdom comes to the fore, especially when the Third Eye Chakra is balanced.

Create and maintain healthy habits throughout the day, and it will improve Third Eye Chakra health. Make sure to exercise or play a sport during daylight hours and spend time in sunlight to get enough vitamin D. Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption, and eat meals that feature brain food (which is explained below), as well as refrain from eating a large meal at night.

Participate in relaxing activities starting at least 2 hours before you turn in for the night. Read a paperback or hardcover book, instead of reading text from a backlit device. Tablet light is disruptive to your natural sleep rhythm. Nix late-night TV watching too. Many programs are stimulating rather than soothing. Light from the television screen can suppress melatonin, the sleep hormone. Try listening to music or audio books instead.

Be consistent with bedtime routines, and get to bed at an hour that will allow you to catch at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Sound sleep increases the flow of energy to and from this chakra. The pineal gland, located at the same level as the eyes and found in the middle of the brain, is influenced by the Third Eye Chakra. The pineal gland regulates melatonin production and sleep and wake cycles. Make sure your bedroom is free of electronic devices, and blinds, shades or drapes on the windows assures your sleep area is in complete darkness. Total darkness stimulates healthy activity in the pineal gland and production of its associated hormones.

The Third Eye Chakra is located in the space between the eyes, eyebrows, and behind the forehead, and is sixth in line from the base or Root Chakra.

To keep the Third Eye Chakra (6th Chakra) finely tuned, take steps to stabilize the chakras that come below it. Learn ways to re-align the other chakras by clicking on the links that follow. 

How to Use Blue and Throat Chakra Energy to Eliminate Pain.

Anja is the Sanskrit Name for the Third Eye Chakra, and it means the inexhaustible, infinity, and to perceive and command. Anja has powerful energy, made even more potent through meditation, yoga, and other spiritual practices. Meditation and contemplative activities like journal writing and tai chi enhance smooth function of the nervous system and stimulates parts of the brain that support healthy activity in the pineal gland.

The Third Eye Chakra's sound is OM and its pronounced as "AUM." Listen to Chanting from Meditative Mind and Notice the Woman's clothing. Chant this sound and experience the sound vibrations in your body, mind, and spirit. Then, observe whether you feel more peaceful and still. If not, chant again.

Another way to regain equilibrium in the Third Eye Chakra is to recite affirmations aloud. 

Try My Original Third Eye Chakra Affirmations or Write and Recite Your Own

My vision is clear and perceptive.
 I accomplish tasks effortlessly.
I create my reality, and whatever I envision comes to pass.
I am at peace in the silence of the Universe.
My spirit vibrates with the Infinite potential of the Universe.
I am wise, intuitive, and use third-eye power to expand vision.

Brain foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids include: flax and chia seeds, olives and olive oil, walnuts, Brussels sprouts, kale, watercress and other dark leafy greens, and fruits like avocado and blueberries. Each nourishes the Third Eye Chakra. Dark chocolate, which contains omega-3 as well as caffeine, helps with mental clarity. Look forward to chocolates’ delicious taste as well as its ability to enhance your mood.

Get in the habit of eating intuitively. Often, a food craving means your body knows what nutrient it needs. Blueberries (indigo color) have a positive influence with memory and ability to learn. Berries are a fine Third Eye Chakra food, because they contain powerful antioxidants that improve cognitive thinking and reasoning. 

Some people have sensitive third eye chakra ability and are telepathic. They have highly developed empathic powers (the ability to understand and sense the feelings of another). Empaths
 can imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling. This is a gift. 

How do you think you'd act if you could put yourself in the shoes of another, and come from that place when you relate?

A word of caution now. If you experience physical symptoms like insomnia, nightmares, vision trouble, anxiety, and headaches often, consult with your health care provider to rule out any physical causes. Then, look for an imbalance in your Third Eye Chakra. 

Listen to this meditative music from Taos Winds Spirit Music to “Awaken Your Third Eye.” Taos Winds Spirit Music.

Wear indigo colored clothing or decorate your home or office with this as an accent color to support Third Eye Chakra healing. Look for signs that your intuition is working well and you have "aha" moments often. List all the issues or situations you want to see with clearer vision, and revisit them after doing activities that strengthen this chakra. 

Ask yourself whether you're ready to use Third Eye Chakra Energy to help release negative thoughts and worry. Anja energy can draw out the wisdom that's needed, to bring healing and create a greater sense of peace in you.

Which situations or circumstances do you want to understand better, and which ones do you suspect you are powerless to change? Have you ever thought to gaze softly at the color indigo? It's a comforting color to me. What about you? Please comment in the section provided below. Share the Love on Social Media too.

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Take Steps to Stop Bullying

Bullying is a serious matter even kindergarten and elementary school children may be faced with. “Children and adolescents who are involved in bullying (either as an aggressor, as a victim, or both) put themselves at risk for a number of emotional and behavioral problems, now and in the future, and require support to learn how to develop healthy relationships.” To see an extensive list of dangers from bullying see this.

This problem is not limited to school age kids. It impacts health, safety, and well-being of individuals of all ages and radiates out to the nation and world we live in.

October is National Stop Bullying Month and your chance to Go Blue! Celebrate Blue Shirt Day®World Day of Bullying Prevention™ on October 2, 2017 by wearing your blue. Find out where and when additional October activities are being sponsored in your area and take part. Do your share to raise awareness about bullying prevention. If your town or city doesn't have activities on the calendar, take the lead and organize one.
Here's a description of bullying from the National Crime Prevention Council 
Bullying is:
·       Fighting, threatening, name-calling, teasing, or excluding someone repeatedly and over time
·       An imbalance of power, such as size or popularity
·       Physical, social, and emotional harm
·       Hurting another person to get something 

What Can You Do to Reduce Bullying?

Read on to discover many tips and ideas to help you. Credit Goes to the American Psychological Association at, Here's their contact info: 750 First St. NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242  | Telephone: (800) 374-2721; (202) 336-5500 | TDD/TTY: (202) 336-6123

Bullying: How parents can take action to prevent bullying


"For the Parents of kids being bullied:

Observe your child for signs they might be being bullied

Children may not always be vocal about being bullied. Signs include: ripped clothing, hesitation about going to school, decreased appetite, nightmares, crying, or general depression and anxiety. If you discover your child is being bullied, don’t tell them to “let it go” or “suck it up”. Instead, have open-ended conversations where you can learn what is really going on at school so that you can take the appropriate steps to rectify the situation. Most importantly, let your child know you will help him/her and that they should try not to fight back

Teach your child how to handle being bullied

Until something can be done on an administrative level, work with your child to handle bullying without being crushed or defeated. Practice scenarios at home where your child learns how to ignore a bully and/or develop assertive strategies for coping with bullying. Help your child identify teachers and friends that can help them if they’re worried about being bullied.

Set boundaries with technology

Educate your children and yourself about cyberbullying and teach your children not to respond or forward threatening emails. “Friend” your child on Facebook or Myspace, and set up proper filters on your child’s computer. Make the family computer the only computer for children, and have it in a public place in the home where it is visible and can be monitored. If you decide to give your child a cell phone think carefully before allowing them to have a camera option. Let them know you will be monitoring their text messages. As a parent, you can insist that phones are stored in a public area, such as the kitchen, by a certain time at night to eliminate nighttime bullying and inappropriate messaging. Parents should report bullying to the school, and follow up with a letter that is copied to the school superintendent if their initial inquiry receives no response.

Parents should report all threatening messages to the police and should document any text messages, emails or posts on websites.

For the Parents of kids engaged in bullying:

Stop bullying before it starts

Educate your children about bullying. It is possible that your child is having trouble reading social signs and does not know what they are doing is hurtful. Remind your child that bullying others can have legal consequences.

Make your home “bully free”

Children learn behavior through their parents. Being exposed to aggressive behavior or an overly strict environment at home makes kids more prone to bully at school. Parents/caregivers should model positive examples for your child in your relationships with other people and with them.

Look for self-esteem issues

Children with low self-esteem often bully to feel better about themselves. Even children who seem popular and well-liked can have mean tendencies. Mean behavior should be addressed by parents and disciplined."

Stand up against hate, racism, and discrimination. Change lives and the future by teaching your children to practice inclusion, equality, civility, and unity. Take positive steps that show you're kind rather than cruel. Say no to bullies everywhere.

Has bullying been a problem that has affected your family, friends, or acquaintances? Was it dealt with in an effective way? Please share any tips, ideas, or thoughts about this important subject in the comments section below. 

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Favorite Fall Fruit and Vegetables

Miso Sesame Seed Glazed Sweet Potatoes on a Bed of Quinoa, with Beet Greens and Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts Roasted with Minced Garlic
Sweet Potatoes with Glaze in Roasting Pan 

Look for scrumptious fall fruits and vegetables including sweet potatoes, apples, Brussels sprouts, butternut and spaghetti squash, and pears at farmers markets, your home garden, health food stores, and in produce sections of neighborhood markets. Each is loaded with nutrients you need to maintain health, and at the peak of flavor in the fall. In-season local produce is usually less expensive and fresher than stuff that is imported and/or has to travel thousands of miles to get to your market. We like to serve our family the freshest foods at economical prices, don't we?

Note: I’ve mentioned this before in earlier posts, but it bears repeating. I encourage my readers to purchase certified organically grown foods. Ongoing research on organic foods as a group shows that the likelihood of exposure to contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals can be greatly reduced through the purchase of certified organic products. 

Now Back to my Fall Favorites.

Starting from 12 o'clock, yellow then orange fleshed Sweet Potatoes, at 9 o'clock is a deep purple skinned piece of Japanese Sweet Potato. When it is cooked, its flesh looks yellow/light green

SWEET POTATOES are sweet tasting, and are a comfort food for me. Perhaps it's mouthwatering taste is the same reason that this tater is so popular for Thanksgiving dishes and autumn meals. Although sweet potatoes taste sugary, eating them without butter or other fatty topping is helpful in lowering your glycemic index and reducing your hunger and sweet cravings. Orange or golden yellow fleshed sweet potatoes are rich in fiber and nutrients including Vitamin C. Eat the skin as well as the rest of this vegetable to reap the best nutritional reward. Sweet potatoes are a good source of potassium, Vitamin B6, and magnesium too. All work to lower stress, and munching on a sweet potato is a healthy way to fill yourself up without filling you out. Sweet Potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which can prevent Vitamin A deficiencies, promotes healthy eyesight, and generates retinol production for healthy skin. Look for the recipe for miso sesame glazed sweet potatoes in an upcoming blog post.

For a treat you and your family are sure to love try this delicious Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts recipe from Katie Koteen at Well Vegan.  

APPLES are juicy, loaded with goodness, and make a perfect snack when you’re at home or on the go. Farmers nowadays grow thousands of varieties, ranging from sweet to tart. Red and Golden Delicious are among the sweetest apples. Pink Lady and Crispin are sweet and tart combined. Braeburn and Fuji apples are slightly tart. Granny Smith apples are the most tart, but retain their texture best during cooking. Whole apples are a much better nutritional choice than apple juice. Whole apples are richer in dietary fiber. Juicing drastically reduces the polyphenolic phytonutrient concentrations found in the whole fruit. Apples are loaded with vitamin C, and almost half of an apple's vitamin C content is just under the skin. That’s why it's important to eat apples with their skins. Apples contain insoluble fiber and water, which provides bulk and liquid in the intestinal tract that cleanses and moves food quickly through the digestive system. In addition, apples have soluble fiber, pectin. This nutrient helps prevent cholesterol from building up in the lining of blood vessels, which in turn helps prevent atherosclerosis and heart disease. Taste wise, apples are their best from September to November.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS provide special cholesterol-lowering benefits. The most nutritious way to cook them is to steam them. The fiber-related components in Brussels sprouts do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract, when the sprouts have been steamed. Want to lower cholesterol levels? Eat more steamed Brussels sprouts. This bold tasting green vegetable tops the list of commonly eaten cruciferous vegetables. Total glucosinolate (a phytonutrient and anti-cancer agent) content has been shown to be greater than the amount found in mustard greens, turnip greens, cabbage, kale, or cauliflower. Consuming one cup of Brussels sprouts at 38 calories provides 195 percent of the DV for vitamin K, 125 percent of vitamin C, 3 grams of protein, and 10 percent or more of vitamin A, vitamin B-6, folate, potassium, and manganese needs for the day. Brussels sprouts fulfill your DV for calcium, with 37 mg per cup. 

My favorite way to prepare Brussels sprouts is simple and satisfying. I buy 2 cups of Brussels sprouts or roughly a pound. I like the kind that is sold loose or on the stalk. That way, it's easy to pick and choose the best. Select small Brussels sprouts, as they are the most sweet. Clean off wilted outer leaves and cut off bottom. Soak and then rinse in cool water, cut in half lengthwise, and place in a baking dish.

Mince 5 or 6 cloves of garlic and sprinkle on sprouts. Pour 1/4 cup water over the sprouts and stir so water and garlic is spread throughout. Roast in a uncovered baking dish or roasting pan in a preheated 425 degree F oven for 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour. You'll know the dish is ready, when Brussels sprouts are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. 

Place on a platter or into a serving bowl and drizzle on 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil. Add fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste. If you'd like, add a splash of fresh squeezed orange, lemon, or lime juice for zing.

BUTTERNUT AND SPAGHETTI SQUASH are favorites too, and the posts on my other blog describe why. Each post includes serving suggestions so have fun checking them out.

PEARS are a luscious fruit that keeps you hydrated, because it contains so much water. It also packs a variety of helpful nutrients. Each medium-sized fruit provides about 24% of the Daily Value of fiber. Much of its fiber is in the form of pectin, which reduces cholesterol and decreases the risk of heart disease. Its fiber also helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, ensures bowel regularity, and reduces the risk of colon cancer. An ideal snack food that is a good source of vitamin C, pears provide 190 mg of potassium. Pears have phytonutrients, including anti-inflammatory flavonoids, anticancer polyphenols and anti-aging flavonoids. Studies regarding pear nutrition have linked the fruit’s consumption with lower levels of constipation, kidney stones, high cholesterol, and even diabetes. 

Well folks... that's my take on Favorite Fall Fruit and Vegetables. Eat colorful fall produce to maintain your health and enjoy their distinctive, tasty flavors. 

Before you go, please take a moment to comment. Scroll down, past the bottom of this post to tell me about ways you like to serve fall fruits and vegetables. What new tips or facts did you learn about fall fruits and veggies? Why not let me know what are your fall favorites?

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