Tag Archives: Buddhism

Spring Break

Today was my last kids’ Buddhist workshop of the Spring term.  I feel so privileged to have been able to spend Wednesday afternoons with such an awesome bunch of children.  Aged between 5 and 10, these children are already so skillful at meditating.  And some of the discussions this term have been so profound that they’ve left me wondering who’s actually teaching who?  I’m sure I’ve learnt as much from them (if not more!) than they have from me.  With children like this around, the future could indeed be very bright

The children also produced some beautiful artwork this term.  Here’s a small selection…

WW Spring Art 2013

Since we’re about to embark on Spring Break, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to do a little work on myself 😉  For the next two weeks, I’m going to unplug (no mobile, iPad, laptop, pc, internet, email, tv) and focus on studying my Buddhist texts, meditating and spending quality time with my boys.

I look forward to catching up with you in a couple of weeks when hopefully I’ll be fully refreshed and revived 🙂

I bid you all a wonderful Spring Break xx

8 Comments

Filed under Buddhism & Meditation, Holidays

Dharma 4 Kids Festival 2012 & A Chocolate Giveaway!

Hi everyone!

Here’s a few pics that I wanted to share from this year’s Dharma for Kids Festival. We went to this festival for the first time last year and enjoyed it so much that we decided to go again. Lil’ L had been looking forward to it all year!

The festival took place at the beautiful Nagarjuna Centre in Kelmarsh, near Northampton (about a 3-hour drive from Bath).

This place has such a relaxed atmosphere. It’s got a fantastic cafe with an outdoor seating area, where M and I love to sit, chat, and drink cappuccinos while Lil’ L’s busy having fun with his friends 🙂

The theme of the festival was ‘You Before Me‘ and, over the course of the weekend, there were workshop sessions, meditations and activities arranged for the children and teenagers based on the theme of ‘kindness’.

There was a dedicated art marquee where the children could make objects that they would like to see in a ‘Kind World’.

They made marzipan tormas and mandala sets out of paper and coloured rice. Here’s the results of Lil’ L’s torma making…

There was table football, table tennis, a karaoke marquee, bouncy castles, and gladiators.

And lots of opportunities for general larking about.

On the Saturday morning, I got a surprise call from my friend Nicky to tell me that her family were ditching their original plans for the day, and were going to join us instead 🙂 They got in their car and drove for 2+ hours simply to spend the afternoon with us (what total stars they are!) Seeing them at the festival made the weekend even more special for me. I wish I’d taken a few pics but I was way too engrossed in the chat. At that point, photography was the last thing on my mind!

We paid for day passes to the festival (M, Lil’ L and I stayed overnight at the nearby Travel Plaza) and I was happy to find that the passes included all meals. The food was fantastic! All veggie of course, which saved us having to sift through the buffet 😉

On the Sunday afternoon, the children had the option of taking part in a drama session, where they enacted ‘The Giving Tree’. I’m sure my American readers will be familiar with this story, but I’d never heard it before.

Lil’ L’s only encounter with the book till that point had been through reading one of the Wimpy Kid books. Apparently the Wimpy Kid is terrified of the author on the back cover. I have to say, I know what he means! You should have seen Lil’ L’s face when he realised that it was that book!

[source]

‘The Giving Tree is one of those special stories that has very few words, yet leaves a great impression on the reader. I’m sure everyone that reads the story will have their own take on what it’s all about. Seeing that I tend to read everything from a Buddhist perspective, for me, the story is first and foremost a lesson in where happiness truly comes from. I’m sure there’s also some environmental messages in there. Anyway, I’d be interested to know whether you’ve read this story yourself and what you think of it.

The children at the Buddhist festival acted out the story beautifully. Last week I thought that I’d try it with my Wednesday Workshop kids too. We first read the story using a powerpoint version I found on the Internet, then we watched an animated version from YouTube (there’s many version of the story on YouTube but I thought that this one was well suited to the kids in my groups).

We then acted it out. It was a bit manic but the kids were so enthusiastic and had a whale of a time. We decided that a more suitable title for our version would be ‘The Crazy Tree and Mad Boy’!

Since then, we’ve followed on the ‘giving’ theme in our Wednesday Workshops and, this week, after a beautiful meditation, the children made bookmarks to give to a friend or relative, and I gave each of them a cookie 🙂

It’s Giveaway Time!

Continuing with the ‘giving’ theme, I think it’s about time that I gave something away to you, my lovely blog readers. It’s been a while hasn’t it? Does anyone fancy some of my home-made raw chocolate hearts? You do? Well, I would be very happy to share some with you!

There are four ways that you can enter, and each way counts as a separate entry. So, if you enter all four ways, you’ve quadrupled your chances of winning. Happy days!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave me a comment below
  2. Follow me on Twitter (@Goodstuffsharon) and leave a comment below to let me know
  3. Tweet the Giveaway and leave a comment below to let me know
  4. Follow me on Facebook and leave a comment below to let me know

The giveaway is open to everyone, regardless of where you live.

I’ll select a winner at random on Friday, 5th October.

Good luck everyone!

And have a great weekend xx

 

 

21 Comments

Filed under Buddhism & Meditation

Lake District Camping, Mountain Biking & NKT International Buddhist Festival

We last camped three years ago. The three of us spent five nights squashed in my ‘3 man’ tent in the Lake District. It rained a lot, the tent leaked, I woke up to find my pillow was soaking wet and vowed that I would never camp again.

Three years later, here I am again, camping in the Lake District. It wasn’t exactly my preferred choice of accommodation but it was super cheap and all the B&Bs in the area were full (yep, as usual, I left planning to the last minute). 

We borrowed our friend’s slightly bigger tent and pitched it in the middle of a farmer’s field. After a night of relentless rain, I woke up to find that the rain had flooded in on my side of the tent and I was laying in a pool of water. You see, me & camping just don’t get along 🙁

But, despite the less than favourable camping experience, we had a fantastic time in the Lakes. Me & Lil’ L had a very special day at the NKT International Buddhist Festival in Ulverston. Thousands of people from all over the world attended the festival and the atmosphere was incredible. Everyone was so friendly. I never seen so many smiley faces 🙂

A lovely diary of the festival with video clips and photos is available at http://kadampafestivals.org/summer-2012/.

While we were at the festival, M went mountain biking. He had a fantastic day of exhilarating riding and beautiful scenery. 

Here are some of his favourite shots of the day…

When the three of us met up at the end of the day, we were buzzing from our experiences and had lots to chat about over dinner.  For our evening meals, we went to Ambleside which has an array of restaurants and cafes with menu options for vegetarians and vegans.

[Source]

 This small town has two highly popular vegetarian/vegan restaurants – Zeffirellis and Fellinis – and we sampled the menus in both.

The food was fantastic, especially in Fellinis. There are three dishes in particular that I’d like to try and re-create at home:
–  Sweet potato, broccoli and lentil sambar served with coriander and lime flatbread
– Chestnut, leek and wild mushroom filled pastry with baby roasted vegetables (Lil’ L loved this)
– Sweet potato and chickpea tagine with lemony couscous

We’re now back in the South where it’s actually been hot and sunny for a couple of days. It’s been perfect weather for the start of the Olympics. Let’s hope it continues!

I hope you’re having a great summer wherever you are. And if you’re camping somewhere in the UK, make sure you don’t forget your waterproofs. Next time I’m going to take waterproof pyjamas. Knowing my luck, I’ll need them 😉

10 Comments

Filed under Biking, Buddhism & Meditation, Dinners, Vacations

School’s Out! Planning Summer Activities on a Shoe-String Budget

The school summer holidays officially start for us today. I can’t believe that another school year has finished already. These years are flying by!

I’m really looking forward to spending some quality time with Lil’ L over the next six weeks. However, as I’m not working at the moment, I need to make sure that we keep spending to a minimum. 

We did lots of great free/ low cost activities last summer that we’re hoping to repeat or improve on this year. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far…

– Bike Rides
Inspired by the Tour de France, we’re going to devise our own ‘Tour de Bath’ where we explore different areas of the city by bike and record our ‘stages’ on a map, noting the distance and time.

– Hiking
There’s so much local countryside that we’ve yet to explore.  We’re going to pack some sandwiches, binoculars, a map, and waterproofs, and hike along footpaths and bridleways in the hills around Bath. Luckily my ‘smartphone’ has got GPS, just in case we get lost 😉

– Photography
Lil’ L loved the challenge I set him over the Jubilee weekend of photographing red, white and blue images. This summer I’m going to set him some more photographic challenges and show him how to edit photos and make online albums.

– Creating in the kitchen
Lil’ L has already devised a list of 15 new smoothies and milkshakes that he’d like to try making. During the holidays, we’ll work our way through his list, photograph the successes and blog about them.
I’m also really looking forward to teaching him how to make other treats, such as granola bars, chocolates, ice cream sundaes and so forth.

 

– Summer Reading Challenge
Last weekend, the children’s summer reading challenge was launched in Bath by Olympic Gold Medallist Amy Williams. It was such a pleasure to meet her! I didn’t get to hold the Olympic torch (like my mum did!) but I have now held an Olympic Gold Medal. It was beautiful… and way bigger and heavier than I imagined it would be!

The library reading challenge has really fired up Lil’ L. The first thing he wanted to do when he broke up from school today was to go to the library and borrow some more books!

– Maths Challenge
To keep our ‘maths brains’ ticking over, we’re going to take part in Carol Vorderman’s Online Maths Factor Summer School (I need this as much as Lil’ L 😉 ). The school costs £15 but is so worth it. Carol Vorderman has got to be the ultimate Maths teacher. Not only is she fantastic at explaining maths, but she actually makes maths fun. Her online schools are perfect for kids like Lil’ L who are yet to develop a passion for numbers.

– Summer Diary Writing
Lil’ L has recently started to get interested in writing and his stories are way more creative than anything I’ve ever written! I’d love to encourage him to keep writing over the holidays, maybe in the form of a summer diary or scrap book. As well as writing, he could add photos, ticket stubs, drawings and so forth.

– Family Activities at Local Museums and Galleries
There are lots of drop-in activities on offer at the museums and galleries in Bath which are free for residents, and I’m planning to make the most of them!  Does anyone fancy investigating Roman gods and goddesses and making Minerva’s wise owl? Or how about learning some Roman language and make a Roman book mark? I know I do! 🙂 
If you’re planning to be in the Bath area over the school holidays, you must check out the family activity programme. Here’s the link.     

[Source]

– Play Dates
It’s really important that I arrange some play dates for Lil’ L so he gets to spend time with his friends during the summer. I need to do this ASAP as I know diaries get filled really quick.

– Quality time with grandparents
Lil’ L rarely gets to have one-to-one time with his grandparents and this is something that he mentioned he would really like this summer. Next week, he’s going to spend a couple of nights with his nan and her two dogs in Dorset and he’s really excited about it! Hopefully, at some point during the summer, he’ll be able to have some one-to-one time with his other grandparents too.

– Family quality time
The three of us (me, M and Lil’ L) are really looking forward to spending a couple of weeks’ of quality time together during the school hols, which means switching all the gadgets off (phones, computers, etc) and giving each other our full attention. We really value our quality family time. For me, it’s priceless 🙂

– Buddhist Festivals and Daily Meditation
There’s lots of Buddhist festivals in the UK this summer, and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to attend at least a couple. As well as inspiring teachings and meditation sessions, there’s always lots of fun activities arranged for the kids. Lil’ L made some great friends at the festivals last year and hopefully they’ll meet up again this summer.


I’m also hoping that we’ll get into the habit of daily meditation, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. With Lil’ L’s help, I’ll set up a dedicated ‘meditation space’ upstairs. We’ll make it cosy with cushions and blankets, and light incense and candles. It’ll be great 🙂

 So that’s just a few ideas of what we’ll be able to do this summer on my shoe-string budget.  I can’t wait to get started!

I wish you all a wonderful summer. 🙂 xx

p.s. If anyone’s got a bit of sunshine to spare, we would really appreciate it if you could send it over here. Thank you 🙂

5 Comments

Filed under Biking, Buddhism & Meditation, General wittering, Living Rich on Less, Vacations, Walking & Hiking

WIAW Fun, Food & Fitness

Fun and Fitness

Since July is the month of WIAW Fun, Food and Fitness, I thought I’d begin today’s post with a quick rundown of my current exercise regime.

When I left salaried work a few years ago to set up my own business, I stopped my gym membership to save money. Ever since then, I’ve been exercising in the great outdoors. When I went to the gym, it was all about the exercise. Now it’s so much more. As well as helping me to stay fit, exercising outdoors gives me the opportunity to get some fresh air and take in the beautiful views. It helps me to feel connected to my local environment.

It gives me the opportunity to recite mantras and get connected spiritually.

I also love the opportunities it gives me to interact with members of the local community. There’s lots of smiles, ‘hellos’ and words of encouragement as I make my way along the road or tow path. 

 

For me, exercising outside has had a huge, positive impact on my well-being, both physically and mentally. I used to love going to the gym. Now, the thought of being cooped up in a sweaty room, with no fresh air, and with only machines and screens to look at just doesn’t appeal anymore.

At the moment, I’m running on average twice a week. I have two favourite routes, one flat route along the Kennet & Avon towpath, and a second hilly route up to St Catherine’s Court.

 

4-5 mile runs suit me perfectly and I run around 10 miles per hour now (a whole minute quicker than this time last year. Woo hoo!)

I also cycle 1-2 times a week. I love mountain biking at the weekends with the family, and tend to cycle into Bath once a week too.

 

I sold my car a few years ago (to cut costs) so these days  cycling, walking and running are my modes of transport. I love getting about this way, for the same reasons as I love exercising outside.

Over the past decade I’ve found the optimum level of exercise to suit my body. In my teens and 20s I was prone to knee injuries and seemed to always be at the physio. For the past ten years, I haven’t had a single injury. Long may it continue!

Fun and Food

For this week’s WIAW foodie party, I thought I’d show our eats from today.

Breakfast
A delicious bowl of porridge for me & M. In mine, I added ground cinnamon, mixed spice, almonds, walnuts, pecans, Brazils, ground linseed, shelled hempseed and goji berries. It was made with Alpro Original Soya Milk (the version sweetened with apple juice) and I lightly drizzled some Sweet Freedom Fruit Sweetener on top.

For some people, porridge is a winter breakfast but I can happily eat it all year round 🙂

Lil’ L chose to have a mix of granola and Shreddies, and I added in some flaked almonds, chopped walnuts, shelled hempseed and ground linseed for a nutritional boost.

Lunch
The night before, while we were washing up, I quickly made some tomato pasta for lunchboxes. It only took a few minutes to prepare. While the organic wholegrain pasta twists were cooking, I finely chopped some veggies – carrot, fine green beans, mushrooms, red pepper, red onion – and let them gently cook in a frying pan with a little olive oil. When the pasta was cooked, I mixed in half a jar of Seeds of Change Organic Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce and the veggies. I also added some sunflower seeds, shelled hempseeds, pine nuts and nutritional yeast for a nutritional boost.

Marigold Nutritional Yeast with Vitamin B12 is one of my all-time favourite health food/vegan products. It’s got a delicious cheesy/nutty flavour which works really well in pasta dishes. I also use it for savoury crumbles, pizzas, pesto and, ground with raw cashews, as a vegetarian replacement for parmesan.

It’s got an amazing nutritional profile. As well as being high in protein, it’s packed with B vitamins and zinc. Just one small 5g serving provides 220% of your B12 RDA.

You can buy the Marigold Nutritional Yeast from health food stores and online. I tend to buy mine from Harvest in Bath, or online from Goodness Direct.

Snacks
Lil’ L morning snackseeded flatbreads with home-made humous
Lil’ L post-school snack – small bowl of raw cashews (he loves these!)
Lil’ L pre-swimming snack  3 mini banana pancakes (leftover from Sunday) with chopped pecans and a drizzle of Sweet Freedom Fruit Sweetener
My post-school snack – a mixed bowl of raw nuts (cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds) and raisins.

 

I’m loving this snack at the moment, but I end up eating a pretty big bowlful. I’ve heard that raw nuts are actually a negative calorie food but I must check this out for sure!

Dinner
For dinner, we had one of our all-time favourite meals …. Veggie Fajitas.   This is my favourite kind of ‘fast food’ – it’s ready in less than 10 minutes, only uses one pan (gotta love the ‘one pans’!), it’s really tasty and healthy! I wish all ‘fast food’ could be like this!

You can make veggie fajitas simply by using veggies and seeds, but I also like to add in half a pack of Fry’s Vegetarian Chunky Strips for added flavour and texture. These can be bought in the freezer section of health food stores like Holland and Barrett.

 

 To make the fajitas, I simply stir fried some veggies, seeds and the vegetarian chunky strips in a little olive oil. I then sprinkled on some fajita seasoning mix (not too much as Lil’ L doesn’t like his dinners too spicy). Once I’d removed Lil’ L’s portion I added some Linghams Chilli Sauce to add more heat for me & M.

Just look at all those beautiful colours in the pan 🙂

The fajitas were served in Tesco wholemeal seeded tortilla wraps. We had two each, and Lil’ L took the leftovers to school the next day for his lunch.

Dessert
For dessert we had some fresh pineapple chunks and a fresh strawberry jelly. Lil’ L absolutely loves these jellies…. and I love the fact that they’re sugar-free, gelatine-free and contain real strawberries (which he normally runs a mile from!) Recipe coming very soon! 

After dinner Lil’ L and M tried one of the raw chocolate-coated lime creams that I made yesterday.  They got a big thumbs up 🙂 

Here’s how they looked before I added the chocolate coating…

They really do make a refreshing after-dinner treat.  Both M and Lil’ L loved the raw chocolate coating I added after the pic, whereas I prefer them without. Lil’ L said that I’m over-ruled so the chocolate’s staying!

Well, that was another great day of eats. Time to head over to the lovely Jenn’s and check out the yummy WIAW food gallery.

Happy Wednesday everyone! 🙂 xx

Do you enjoy exercising outside or do you prefer hitting the gym? 

9 Comments

Filed under Baking & Desserts, Biking, Breakfast & Elevenses, Dinners, Running