Tag Archives: Wednesday Workshops

Spring is in the air! The Joys of Blossom… and Living in the Moment!

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great weekend! ūüôā

On Saturday we had glorious weather in Bath, so I took the opportunity to get out into the garden and do some tidying up.¬†¬†It was so warm that we even managed to eat our lunch outside ūüôā

It¬†really does feel like Spring has arrived in Bath.¬† The crocuses and primroses are popping up everywhere in our¬†little garden…

along with the daffodils and cute little narcissus ūüôā

 

One of my favourite things about Springtime is blossom.  Trees look so severe in Wintertime without their leaves, but come Springtime, their bare branches are covered in the most delicately coloured, beautiful flowers that are an absolute joy to see.

One of my favourite types of blossom is found on the japonica tree. 

This tree is situated outside Lil’ L’s bedroom, and¬†it’s such a nice¬†sight to be greeted with as¬† I open his curtains first¬†thing¬†in the morning.

To reach school, we have to walk up a very steep hill.¬† Even though I consider¬†myself to be¬†pretty fit, I’m totally out of breath as¬†I reach the top!¬† But what I focus on as I’m climbing (and huffing and puffing!)¬†is the cherry tree that marks the end of the hill.¬† This tree is absolutely glorious at the moment…¬†

with¬†the most beautiful blossom ūüôā

And check out how blue the sky was on the school run today!

¬†In last week’s Wednesday Workshop (a little primary school Buddhist class that I teach each Wednesday) we read the story of the Four Princesses and the Kingshuk Tree (a beautiful story!) and I used the example of blossom to teach the children about impermanence¬†and the importance of living in the moment.¬† Most of us are so busy in our lives, with our heads filled with a million and one thoughts and plans, that we risk losing sight of all the beauty that surrounds us in our natural environment.¬† When we do live in the moment, everything becomes brighter, clearer, more beautiful.

Time to enjoy the blossom… it’ll be gone before we know it!

Has Spring arrived where you live?¬† What’s your favourite thing about this season?

 

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Filed under Buddhism & Meditation, General wittering, The Garden

End of Term & WIAW – Cambodian Wedding Day Dip & Spinach Pancakes

Hi everyone!¬† I hope you’ve had a great Wednesday so far! ūüôā

Unbelievably, we’ve nearly reached the end of the first Spring term already!¬† This term has gone by so¬†fast!

Today was my last Wednesday Workshop sessions and I thought we’d finish with a bit of girl power and¬†read the beautiful story of Buddha Tara.

My mum bought me this beautiful statue of Tara for my birthday a couple of years ago. I love her!

The children that I’ve taught this term have been absolutely amazing!¬† It’s been such a joy to spend time with them ūüôā¬† As it was the end of term, the children got a certificate for their achievements in mastering meditation, plus a¬†chocolate and¬†biscuit.¬†¬†I made these star biscuits yesterday.¬† The recipe yields about 40 little stars, so there was plenty to go round!

Right, time to scoot over to the¬†lovely Jenn’s Peas & Crayons WIAW party.¬† I’m really late today, so I’m going to have to be super quick in showing my eats¬†for today.¬† Here goes…

Breakfast
Hot lemon & water (before school run)
Super cold weather = need for a warming bowl of porridge.  Today I added raw cocoa powder, chopped brazils, pecans, walnuts, ground linseed, goji berries and a little St Dalfour strawberry spread for sweeteness.  It was d.e.l.i.s.h!

Lunch
The other day I realised that I’d received all those wonderful cook books for Christmas, but hadn’t actually round to trying out any recipes.¬† This seriously needs addressing!¬† Today, I chose to try the Cambodian Wedding Day Dip¬†in Hugh¬†Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg¬†Everyday.¬† Not only was¬†I intrigued by the name of this dip, but¬†is also contains lots of my favourite ingredients¬†– mushrooms, curry powder, peanut butter and coconut milk.

Here’s how¬†my Cambodian Wedding Day Dip turned out:

And how did it taste?  Pretty scrummy.  I served it warm, with some toasted pitta strips.  It was quite rich and spicy, so a little goes a long way.  I only had a small amount but I found it really filling.

Here’s a link to the recipe in case anyone fancies trying the dip.¬† The online recipe says that it serves 2, while my cookbook says it serves 8.¬† I halved the recipe and think it would easily serve 4.

Drinks, Snacks, Desserts
Nettle tea, 1 black coffee, water, fruit smoothie, a couple of shortbread stars, a bite of Lil’ L’s cinnamon bagel, banana, piece of granola bar

Dinner
For one night only I lifted the embargo on one of Lil’ L’s favourite dinners… spinach pancakes.¬† You can’t imagine how excited he was to have one of his old favourites return for a night! ūüôā

Here’s a bit of back story to the pancake saga…¬† when Lil’ L was really little he said that his favourite colour was green.¬†¬†With this¬†in mind, I craftily started to make lots of meals in his favourite colour ūüėȬ† One¬†of¬†the earliest meals I made was bright green spinach pancakes.¬† He absolutely loved them and, from that day on, never wanted white savoury pancakes again.

I was really pleased that he loved the spinach version so much but then he started to ask for them every Wednesday after his swimming lesson.¬† Can you imagine how boring my WIAW posts would be if I hadn’t put a stop to it?¬† After about a year of eating spinach pancakes every Wednesday I was totally and utterly sick of them.¬† I never wanted to see a spinach pancake again in my life!¬† I told Lil’ L that we needed a break from the pancakes and though he was really disappointed, he finally came round to the idea of having some variation each Wednesday.¬† That was just over 5 months ago…

Anyway, enough time has lapsed for me to bring back the old favourite, but I’ll make sure it only makes an appearance once in a while ūüėČ

Apologies for the use of an old photo (taken the last time we had the green favourite) but there was no light left by the time we had dinner tonight (7.30).¬† I’ve tried taking photos at this time of night but they just come out blurry or orange!

These pancakes are so simple to make.¬† I simply add all the ingredients to a blender and whizz it.¬† Tonight, I tried the¬†Cambodian Wedding Day Dip as a filling and, for my tastes buds, the blend of flavours went really well together.¬† A perfect Winter warmer ūüôā

I hope you enjoy the spinach pancakes¬†as much as Lil’ L does. But remember variety¬†is the spice of life ūüėČ

Happy WIAW everyone! xx

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Filed under Breakfast & Elevenses, Dinners

WIAW – Scrummy Porridge, Rice Salad & Roasted Veg Pesto Pasta

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a wonderful week so far ūüôā

I’ve just got back from a wonderful afternoon with my ‘Wednesday Workshop’ children. During term time, I teach two workshops every Wednesday afternoon on Buddhism at Lil’ L’s primary school. We meditate, read and discuss a Jataka Tale, and then do some arts & crafts or perform a play. Today, the subject of our meditation was ‘our precious human life’.

[Source]

It’s the first time that I’ve led an analytical meditation with this particular group of children and it went really well. Not only were the children totally chilled out all afternoon, but so was I! That’s just the sort of afternoon I needed ūüôā

Just before we dash off to Lil’ L’s swimming lesson, I thought I’d make an early entry into Jenn’s WIAW party and share today’s eats.

Breakfast
Hot lemon (drank as I tried to wake up… mornings are soooo dark at the moment ūüôĀ )
Yummy warm porridge made with Alpro Fortified Soya Milk, a sprinkling of cinnamon and mixed spice, topped with chopped pecans and walnuts, goji berries, ground flaxseed and a drizzle of agave syrup. This was the perfect breakfast for a dark, damp morning.

Lil’ L is loving Ready Brek at the moment. It seems to be one of the better children’s cereals. It’s made with wholegrain, no added sugar or salt, but fortified with B1, B2, Niacin, B6, Folic Acid, B12, Vitamin D, Calcium and Iron. He has it with the same toppings as me, minus the goji berries. I haven’t found a single dried fruit yet that he actually likes!

For a fruit and calcium boost, he also had a glass of Innocent fruit smoothie mixed with Kara fortified coconut milk.

Lunch
For lunch, I had some turmeric rice left over from last night’s dinner (brown rice cooked with turmeric to add flavour and colour), to which I added shredded romaine lettuce, pieces of sun dried tomato and roasted red pepper, black olives, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and a drizzle of oil from the sun dried tomato jar. It was delicious… and took less than a minute to make ūüôā

Drinks & Snacks
Nettle tea, water, fruit smoothie, 1 black coffee, handful raw almonds, 1 orange, 1 cinnamon bagel

Dinner
When we get back from swimming, I’ll be cooking vegan pesto pasta with roasted vegetables. Into the roasting tin, I’ll throw some chopped carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, red onion and some pumpkin seeds. The veggies will be lightly roasted while the pasta is cooking. I’ll then mix in the vegan pesto, roasted veggies, a sprinkling of pine nuts and nutritional yeast, and a drizzle of walnut oil.

Since I haven’t made the dinner yet, here’s a pic from when I made it last month.

It’s a great dinner for those nights when you need something quick and don’t fancy toiling in the kitchen (plus there’s very little washing up ūüôā )

Right, gotta dash! I look forward to checking out all the delicious eats over at Jenn’s tonight and gathering inspiration for next month.

Happy Wednesday everyone! ūüôā

 

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Filed under Breakfast & Elevenses, Buddhism & Meditation, Dinners

Buddhas, Shortbread Stars, Winter Soundtrack and WIAW!

Gosh the weather has been rough the last couple of days!¬† We’ve had wind, sleet,¬† and a spell yesterday where it rained ‘slush puppy’ (Lil’ L’s words).¬† I hope you’re managing to stay dry and warm.

Today, it was the last Wednesday Workshop of the term¬†so, this morning,¬†I was busy making certificates …

Wrapping little Buddhas to give¬†to the children at Christmas gifts…

and making shortbread stars for them …

I used my Sesame Shortbread Star recipe, but omitted the sesame seeds just in case any of the children had allergies.

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time in the kitchen over the past few days, and this has given me the opportunity to listen to lots of great tunes and put the finishing touches to my Winter Soundtrack.¬† The Winter version is way more mellow than the Summer one.¬† Here are my top 8 tracks (in no particular order).

Winter Soundtrack 2011

1. Joe Goddard ft Valentina  РGabriel

2. SBTRKT feat. Lil Dragon – Wildfire

3. Emeli Sande – Heaven

4. Drake feat. Rihanna – Take Care

5. Wretch 32 feat. Etta Bond – Forgiveness

6. Coldplay – Paradise

7. Lana del Rey – Video Games

8. Birdy – People Help the People
This is such a beautiful song!¬† She’s¬†only 15!

Wow do I feel chilled after listening to those tunes again!  This is going to be a very laid back WIAW entry this week.  Thanks once again to our lovely host  Jenn @ Peas and Crayons.

Breakfast
Hot lemon and water (before school run)
‘Festive’ porridge (eaten as soon as I got back from the school run, which was cold, wet and dark.¬† I wanted to eat this porridge super hot, hence no photo ūüėČ )

Lunch
2 slices of toast with cashew nut butter, quickly eaten before I had to dash to school
1 orange

Snacks & Drinks
Nettle tea; 1 Black coffee; 1 shortbread star; no way near enough water!

Dinner
Thai-style noodles in coconut milk.  At last a photo!!


This noodle dish¬†is a firm family favourite.¬† Lil’ L¬†loves this meal,¬†providing that I finely chop the peppers and pak choi for him.¬† I’m not sure why as he normally eats large chunks of pepper but, in this dish, it has to be finely chopped.¬† Whatever it takes hey? ūüėČ

This shot of the noodles¬†made me realise that there might have been a slight improvement in my¬†photographic¬†skills over the last¬†6 months.¬†¬†I first took a¬†photo of this meal back in June and I was really pleased with it.¬† Having looked at it again today, I’ve realised that¬†the old photo is¬†totally pants!¬† I certainly haven’t got ‘natural’ photographic skills, but perseverance seems to pay off ūüėČ

Or maybe it’s my cooking presentation skills that have improved?
Or maybe both have improved??
Well, at least things seem to be moving in the right direction!

I’m still not off the ‘auto’ setting on the camera though.¬† Every time I try and set the camera myself, the pictures are blurred or over-exposed.¬†¬†Thank goodness the camera know what it’s doing ūüėČ

Dessert
For dessert, we had stewed apples with¬†crunchy coconut croutons¬†(seeded, wholegrain bread cubes coated in coconut oil, Sweet Freedom fruit syrup and dessicated coconut).¬† It’s amazing how Lil’ L won’t eat a bowl of stewed apples on its own, but add a topping and he scoffs the whole lot and then exclaims¬†‘delicious!’

Well that’s me done for another week!¬† Time to head over to Jenn’s, check out¬†all the beautiful foodie photos and get inspired ūüėČ

Oh and don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win 10 of my home made raw chocolates!¬† The closing date is this Friday, 9am GMT¬†x


What are you¬†listening to this month?¬†¬†Do you have a favourite track that sums up¬†this season for you, or¬†perhaps a track that¬†sums up how you’re currently feeling?¬† I’d love to hear from you! x

 

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, Buddhism & Meditation, Dinners, Soundtracks

Magical Meditation & WIAW!

Hello everyone!¬† Hope you’ve had a great day!

I’ve just come back from another magical afternoon with my workshop children.¬†¬† I led three meditation groups this afternoon (2 workshops and 1 playtime session).¬† Today ,we did¬†‘Wishfulfilling Jewel’ meditations.¬† It¬†was beautiful to see the children¬†in such¬†peaceful meditative states,¬†followed by¬†enthusiastic, animated¬†discussions about their¬†experience of the meditation ūüôā

[Source]

While I keep the meditation session short (5-10 minutes), one boy carried on meditating for another 35 minutes whilst the rest of the children watched a film. He was totally absorbed in the meditation and completely still.  It was incredible to watch!

At playtime, I’m teaching a Year 6 (10 year old) girl how to meditate. Today, she joined in with Lil’ L and his friend who had already come into the classroom to meditate.¬† Lil’ L¬†led¬†the introductory breathing meditation, then I continued with the¬†wishfulfilling jewel.¬† For some reason, this meditation seemed to have physical effects on the children.¬† Two of them¬†said¬†that their hands were tingling and the tips of the girl’s fingers had¬†turned¬†red and¬†hot.¬† Lil’ L¬†actually heated up during the meditation and was sweating.¬†¬† However, soon after¬†meditation finished, he¬†cooled down.¬† I’ve never witnessed anything like this before, so I’m not sure what it means.¬† I’ll have to consult¬†the experts ūüėČ

In the workshops today, we started watching ‘The Legend of Buddha’ (an English-speaking Indian animation film).¬† I must have seen this film¬†at least six times already (and saw the first half twice today!) but it still moves¬†me every time I watch it.¬† The kids love it too!

Next Wednesday is the last workshop sessions of the term.¬† The children have worked so hard and, to show my appreciation, I’ve got a little present to give to¬†each of them.¬† I’m really looking forward to seeing their faces when they open it.¬† I can’t say what it is¬†yet, as I don’t want Lil’ L to find out, but I’ll reveal all next Wednesday ūüėČ

I also had some pretty cool eats today, and as it’s time for the lovely Jenn’s ‘What I Ate Wednesday’ party, I’ll share them with you.¬† Here goes…

Breakfast
Hot lemon & water
3 vegan blueberry buckwheat and oat pancakes (left over from last night’s dessert).

This is¬†one of those flukey shots where I took one photo and it actually turned out¬†okay.¬† Normally I take a gazillion photos to get one that I’m happy with, so this was a very rare occurrence!

Lunch
At the weekend I trialled a festive version of my classic lentil and nut loaf.¬†¬†This basically meant that I added nuts that I consider to be ‘festive’ (hazelnuts and chestnuts) and¬†glazed the top of the loaf with¬†lots of delicious¬†cranberry sauce.

 

I only got round to tasting the loaf today.  As I needed a quick lunch, I simply ate it cold with a side serving of raw kale coated in Good Hemp oil and sprayed with B Shot raspberry balsamic vinegar.

Check out how sunny it was when I attempted to take a photo!¬† We’re still having some crazy weather for November!

The cranberry sauce glaze was lush! 

Snacks & Drinks
Nettle tea
Peppermint tea
A little water (not enough)
Black coffee & 1 Amaretti biscuit (to test that they were edible ūüėČ )

Today I made a batch of¬†Amaretti biscuits, which I’m planning to give as presents to friends, family and Lil’ L’s school teachers.¬† I got great feedback when I made these biscuits last year,¬†so I’ve been¬†looking forward to making them again.¬† They are really¬†easy and¬†quick to make! (recipe below)

There was no light by the time the biscuits were ready to be photographed, so I've had to resort to an old, bad photo from last year ūüôĀ

Here’s the recipe:

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Makes approximately 40 biscuits.

Ingredients
325 g / 11.5 oz / 3 1/4 cups ground almonds
300 g / 10.5 oz / 1 1/4 cups unrefined caster sugar
3 organic, free-range egg whites
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 170C / 325F / Gas 3.  Line baking sheets with parchment.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until firm.  
3. Gently fold the sugar, almonds and extracts into the egg white, until you have a smooth paste.
4. Roll the mixture into small balls (approx. 1 tbsp mixture per ball).  Flatten slightly and place on the baking tray approx. 2cm / 3/4 inch apart.
5. Bake for 20 minutes or so, until lightly golden (the biscuits will remain soft until they cool down).
6. Leave to cool completely before gently peeling off the baking paper.

These biscuits last for weeks.¬† They start off crunchy and eventually become soft and chewy (but still as delicious) ūüôā

This is¬†one of the rare occasions that I¬†use eggs in my baking.¬† I bought them¬†from a local guy who keeps a few hens.¬† I grilled him to find out how he looks after and cares for the hens¬†… I even asked him if he loves them!¬†(cue amusing response to the ‘mad’ lady ūüėČ )¬† Anyway, I’m satisfied that these hens¬†are well cared for,¬†so I’m happy to purchase their eggs.

Dinner
Tonight, we had chestnut and green lentil soup.¬† This soup is so tasty and Lil’ L absolutely loves it!¬† He’s had it for dinner twice this week already.¬† Today, we served it with a sprinkling of shelled hempseeds on top, and warm seeded ciabatta¬†on the side.

Click here for the recipe.

Lil’ L and M also had a serving of the festive nut loaf (to test it) along with some crispy kale.¬† They both loved the loaf, so it looks like it’s definitely going to feature on the Christmas dinner plate.

Dessert
Tonight, M made one of his ‘speciality’ smoothies for dessert… chocolate, banana and blueberry smoothie made with Alpro soya milk.¬† A great (sneaky) way to get some blueberries into Lil’ L’ ūüėČ

It’s been a fantastic day all round for me!¬† I hope this Wednesday has been a good one for you too!¬†

What has been the¬†highlight of your day?¬† For me, it was definitely the kids’ workshops.¬†

What was your favourite eats?¬†Hard for me to choose today, but I’m going to go for the Amaretti biscuit, closely followed by the chestnut soup.

I’d love to hear from you!¬† In the meantime, I’ll pop¬†over to Jenn’s party and¬†get some¬†inspiration for some more great eats ūüôā

Happy WIAW everyone!

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, Buddhism & Meditation, Dinners