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 🙂

[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 😉

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 😉

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 😉 )

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 🙁

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) 🙂

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 😉 )  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’ 😉

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 🙂

Happy WIAW everyone!

My Little Saviours

Okay, time to reveal the source of the ‘challenges and opportunities’ (known to others as ‘frustration’) that I encountered Tuesday night and Wednesday morning…

Here it is…

It looks so innocent doesn’t it?  Some might even call it ‘beautiful’.  Before it arrived in the post, I was even referring to it as the ‘Sexy Salsa’.  Now I just call it the ‘smartypants’ phone :-/

I thought it was about time that I embraced the new technologies of the 21st century and get myself an ‘android smartphone’ (I don’t have a clue what that means!)  This upgrade (£13.50 p/m) is actually cheaper than my old phone deal, so I should add it to yesterday’s ‘Big Budget Challenge’ post.

Well, it turns out that the ‘smartphone’ is way too smart for me.  I didn’t have a CLUE how to use the thing.  I was chuffed when I finally worked out how to turn it on after 5 minutes of fiddling… but it all went downhill from that point onwards.

The phone had automatically ‘synced’ with Facebook and my phone contacts list was then filled with the phone numbers of Facebook ‘friends’, rather than my regular friends.  I pressed the first name that appeared at the top of the screen to see if I could edit it.  To my horror, the phone started calling the person… Esther in Canada!!!  It took me ages to work out how to end the call (because I’m so thick when it comes to new technology).  THEN, I accidentally rested my finger on the phone… and it started ringing Esther in Canada again!!! aarrghhhh!

I gave up and decided to have another try in the morning.

M asked me if I’d read the manual.  I checked the manual and no, it doesn’t mention how to make a phone call or send a text as it ASSUMES that everyone already knows how to do this.  The manual just talks about ‘Facebook Chat’, ‘Snap, tag and share’ and other things that I have NO clue about.

I finally worked out how to send a text, but my fat fingers seem to press about 5 letters at once.  A 2 sentence text took me about 5 minutes because I had to delete every other letter.  I can’t wait to let my mum have a go (mind you, she can’t do worse than me lol!)

My second ‘challenge’ on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning was an attempt to move my blog to a new host.  My new hosting provider has a ‘1 click install’ which is described as being so simple that even a 4 year old could do it.  I’m sure a 4 year old probably could do it… but I failed miserably. It’s still not sorted, but I’m hoping that my wonderful tecchie friend ‘E’ will be my saviour on this one.

So after a rubbish Wednesday morning (which I’m happy to say wasn’t a complete waste of time as it’s been a great source of amusement for my friends), it was a relief to leave the house, the phone, the computer, and go to teach my kids’ meditation classes.

The kids were little stars as usual. Just watching them meditate filled me with such a sense of peace. Apparently, Lil’ L and some of his friends had been meditating during playtime, before I’d even arrived at school.  It was a very chilled, rewarding afternoon.  This carried on after school too.  I sneakily took a picture of Lil’ L meditating in the garden…

And here’s a pic of another 2 of his classmates meditating Wednesday evening (emailed to me by their mum).

Don’t they look so peaceful?

And finally, here’s a beautiful picture that another one of Lil’ L’s friends drew on Wednesday afternoon.

 

What a beautiful way to end a crazy day!

I’d love to upload these images onto my new smartypants phone but that’s one step too advanced for me.  Maybe I’ll ask a 4 year old 😉

Have a wonderful weekend everybody! xx

Have a star!

If you knew what I know about the power of giving,
you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.
(Buddha)

I can’t believe that I’ve been teaching ‘Wednesday Workshops’ for a whole school year.  The time has flown by!  I thought that it would be a nice idea to end the term with a workshop on ‘Giving’.  It was a wonderful afternoon, with the children far exceeding my expectations in terms of their understanding and reflections of the virtue of giving.  

For the last meditation, the children imagined that they were wish-fulfilling jewels, giving everyone in the world something that would make them happy.  We then sat in a circle and imagined that we were giving the person sitting next to us something that they would really like.  I wondered if the children would pick some crazy gifts just for a laugh, but they were incredibly sensitive and, with no prompting from me, decided to give gifts such as diamonds, friendship, love and a cuddle!  

For our arts and crafts, most of the children chose to make mala bracelets to give to friends/family as presents, while one of the boys chose to make ‘friendship’ badges, which he was going to give to the children in his class. 

All in all, it was a wonderful end to the term and I’m incredibly proud of all the children.  I awarded certificates in recognition of how well they’ve done in their meditation practice, and gave each of them gold stars and a treat 🙂

A baked treat that’s popular with these children is my dairy-free shortbread stars.  One time I made 40 shortbread stars for the children and within a couple of minutes they’d all been eaten!  These stars are also popular in our house as snacks and lunchbox treats for both Lil’ L and M.  Here’s the recipe.

Sesame Shortbread Stars (Dairy-free)

Dharma 4 Kids Festival

This weekend we went to the Dharma 4 Kids Festival at the Nagarjuna Buddhist Centre in Kelmarsh, Northamptonshire.  We had a fantastic time there and met some wonderful people! 

The event was really well organised, with lots of fun activities including art, drama, football, table tennis, table football, snooker, bouncy castles, as well as fun sessions on Buddhism.   

Lil' L playing gladiators with his new friend

There were quite a few teenagers at the festival and it was great to see activities specifically targeted at their age group.  They even had their own teenage marquee!  In the evening, there was a karaoke disco party in the teenage marquee which was invaded by a number of parents… including us.  I’m still not feeling 39!!

Larking about on the bouncy castle

I loved the relaxed atmosphere at this festival.  The place felt very safe so I was happy to let Lil’ L come and go as he pleased.  I think he really enjoyed having some freedom!  At one point I went looking for him to remind him that the kids’ Buddhism session was about to start, only to find that him and his friends had already taken themselves off to the meditation room.  That impressed me!  

Kids session with Kadam Bridget

The weekend felt like a real break for us.  The cafe and shop were open throughout the festival, which was a plus point.  I loved the soya lattes served in the cafe. (M and I had lots of them!)  Luckily, there were enough breaks in the rain for the lunches and dinners to be served on the front lawn. 

Lunchtime and the sun's come out!

Lil’ L made some great new friends this weekend, which he’ll hopefully see again next year.  I spoke to some of the teenagers who said that they’d been coming to the festival for the past 5-6 years and looked forward each year to catching up with their festival buddies.  I also made some great new friends and hope to see them again next year!