Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I came upon this poem the other day by one of my favorite poets - Sharon Olds, it touched me deeply as it synchronized with my eldest daughter arriving home from college, I am thankful for my beautiful daughters, and poets like Sharon Olds who manage to capture the real feelings of unconditional love we have for our children...

First Thanksgiving 
~ By Sharon Olds

When she comes back, from college, I will see
the skin of her upper arms, cool,
matte, glossy. She will hug me, my old
soupy chest against her breasts,
I will smell her hair! She will sleep in this apartment,
her sleep like an untamed, good object,
like a soul in a body. She came into my life the
second great arrival, after him, fresh
from the other world—which lay, from within him,
within me. Those nights, I fed her to sleep,
week after week, the moon rising,
and setting, and waxing—whirling, over the months,
in a slow blur, around our planet.
Now she doesn’t need love like that, she has
had it. She will walk in glowing, we will talk,
and then, when she’s fast asleep, I’ll exult
to have her in that room again,
behind that door! As a child, I caught
bees, by the wings, and held them, some seconds,
looked into their wild faces,
listened to them sing, then tossed them back
into the air—I remember the moment the
arc of my toss swerved, and they entered
the corrected curve of their departure.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Food For a Frosty Day...

This morning I awoke to a delicate layer of frost covering everything outside.
Inhaling the cold air and breathing out like a dragon
I began to plan food that would fit the frosty day....

The soup recipe below includes a traditional, rich aromatic spice mix from Ethiopia called
Berbere, which includes garlic, ginger,pepper, basil, rue and other herbs...
I was able to find it at our local supermarket..., if you have trouble finding it, I know that it 
is available online.  Trust me, its worth the effort.

Join me in a spicy, flavorful bowl of Carrot & Potato Soup ~ Ethiopian style with a dollop of zesty Lime and Cilantro Pesto 

Followed by one or two moist, fragrant, Hazelnut, Cardamom and Apple Muffins (gluten free of course:)

Here's the recipes ~ Enjoy!!!

Carrot & Potato Soup

3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
half a leek cleaned and chopped
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 large carrots, cleaned and chopped into cubes
2 large potatoes peeled and chopped
8 cups of vegetable broth
2/3 cup of coconut milk
half teaspoon of Berbere spice mix
2 bay leaves 
Kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

~ o ~

Saute the garlic and leeks on medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan till translucent.
Add the carrots and potatoes next, and stir until well combined.
Add the Berbere spice and make sure to stir well covering all the vegetables, after a couple of minutes add all the broth, season with salt, add bay leaves,  bring to the boil.  
When it reaches boiling point, stir one more time then turn the heat down low and gently simmer with the lid on the pan for approx 40 minutes.  Vegetables should be soft but not mush.
Add the coconut milk, stir well.
Check to see if more salt is needed.

Before serving, add fresh ground black pepper...

Serve with Cilantro Pesto ~ recipe follows.


Cilantro Pesto

1 bunch of fresh organic cilantro well washed 
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Blend all ingredients to make a sauce consistency 
(I use a hand held blender and get great results.)

Drizzle a tablespoon over the steaming soup - delish!

~ o ~

Hazelnut, Cardamom and Apple Muffins

3 eggs
3/4 cup of sugar (I use organic brown.)
generous splosh of vanilla essence
1/3 cup of coconut milk
1/2 cup of cubed cooked squash (I used acorn.)
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1/3 cup of almond flour
1 1/3 cup of GF flour mix (I use Pamela's)
3 heaped dessert spoons of Chestnut flour (or favorite ground nut flour)
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 cup of coarsely chopped hazelnuts
1 large, peeled and chopped apple 
1 teaspoon of ground cardamom

~ o ~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Blend squash and coconut milk together till it makes a creamy puree. (try not to eat this - its so yummy!)

beat eggs, vanilla, sugar, grapeseed oil  then
mix the squash mixture with the egg mixture. 
Add the chopped apple to this mix.

In a separate bowl mix the almond flour, GF flour, chestnut flour, and baking soda, and cardamom -  mix well.

Add the dry flour ingredients to the wet, egg mixture,
stir carefully and blend well.

Finally add the chopped hazelnuts, and mix well.

Fill prepared muffin pans (I prefer with papers,) with a generous
tablespoon in each paper.

Bake for approximately 18 - 20 minutes.

When ready, allow to cool for 20 minutes before chomping!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

El Dia de los Muertos


This year I really wanted to celebrate Day of the Dead...  
So I created this altar with love and intention and focus on loved ones who have passed.

I found the preparing, researching and creating things for the altar so satisfying, as if I'm still able to do something for the people that I love even though they are no longer living.

Marigolds, candles, skulls, pan de muertos (day of the dead bread,) help to create color and "alive-ness" of this special once a year shrine

In Mexican folklore and other Latin countries it is believed that on these special days - arriving October 31st and leaving November 2nd, spirits of our departed ancestors and friends return to us and join in to celebrate life and death with feasts and festivities... Special foods are prepared, "ofredas," created of the deceased  favorite foods and drinks which are then taken to the cemeteries, there the graves are decorated with flowers, candles are lit and whole families can be found gathered at the graves of their deceased relatives sharing stories and memories.   It is tradition for families to stay and picnic with the spirits of their ancestors, usually staying through till the morning.. till the spirits leave once again until  the following year.

I think its a beautiful, healing way to remember loved ones.  


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Playing Dress Up For Halloween...
















Sunday, September 25, 2011

Trusting In The Process & All That Comes With It...

Young Madonna

A year ago I told Artist Sophie Frieda that I wanted her to teach me how to paint in oils, when she asked what subjects appealed to me? What did I want to paint? I told her "Madonnas."

 I've been drawn to images of "The Mother," "Divine Feminine, " "Theotokos," or The Feminine Face Of God" for many, many years, and realized that this longing needed to be explored through art, so when Sophie agreed to teach me the principles of oil painting - I knew that once I understood some of the basic techniques I would try my hand at something that has been calling to me for as long as I can remember.

Above is my first finished Madonna.

She took a long time to complete.  On some days I found myself quite productive and made significant advances, and yet at other times,,, I  found myself frustrated and grudgingly having to wipe off all the paint that I'd carefully applied, because I knew that I'd "lost the plot" as it were in those precious two hours of class.  Leaving me wondering if I'd bitten off more than I could chew.

 Deep down though, I knew she was there, as if waiting in the wings to make her appearance.  Deep down, I trusted that when the time was right - even if I had to go a hundred times to class and paint nothing else, she would eventually appear to me and come through me,  I knew that it was my job to be patient, and allow myself the luxury of time to learn as much as I could about the process of painting a portrait AND to trust that everything was just as it should be...

One night before a class, I had a dream, and in it the Young Madonna spoke to me and said "I am ready to be completed."

The next day in class, I told Sophie about my dream.  She listened intently then gave me more encouragement and tips to work on the eyes, as they were and I believe are the key to making a painting work or not work... I'd spent class after class trying to make the eyes "see" and have expression They were the most difficult part of the painting with out a doubt.  Sophie popped off to make tea for the two of us, and I studied my Madonna and told myself that I would finish her today.  I picked up my brush and began painting...

Ten minutes later I stepped away from the easel, Sophie entered the studio with two cups of tea, and excitedly I asked her to come and look....  "You Did It!!!"  she exclaimed "you've figured out the eyes," and I had, I knew it..., my Madonna was complete.

I felt as if I'd given birth to a living person..., she's her own being..., she doesn't look like anyone I know, and I  feel a sense of love and pride for her...I am joyful in the fact that I've been able to bring her into the world... something I hadn't thought was possible - until recently...

Now she hangs on our wall at home, and in the weeks since I brought her home, I've been asked by various folks, friends, family if she was painted by me?  When I tell them "Yes", people are surprised then pay great compliments and tell me I'm an artist...

You know what's funny?  Until this particular creative endeavor I would have talked people out of their compliments by saying "oh no, its not that good," or "this or that's wrong with it," or "I'm not an artist!"

I've noticed that I'm not alone in this behavior,  many people, especially women tend to react like this when being complimented about their creativity.

 One of my favorite authors and storytellers,  Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes  talks about this very thing in her book "Seeing In The Dark," Myths, Stories To Reclaim The Buried, Knowing, Woman.   She talks about how to reclaim our creativity, and that when we create we are listening to the "psychic nudges to get us to unfurl," so that we can become what we came here to be... and yet we often sabotage and put down our creations, as she says "Perfection is the enemy of done."  She urges people not to go unconscious in response to our work as others are watching and listening to us and seeing how we act... such as our children, our family and our friends.  That instead of continuing the cycle of negativity about personal expression we can become "exemplars," for each other and know that "the world will be poorer without our creativity in it."

So yes,  I am learning how to paint in oils, and as important if not more, I am allowing the goodness and kindness of peoples words into my heart and it feels so right.

Thank you.





Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Taking Time For Tea (& Friends.)

Warm scones (Gluten Free) from the oven (recipe following,) freshly made blackberry jam, delicate cucumber sandwiches and an abundance of piping hot tea (Earl Grey please!) = Perfection when combined with the company of a couple of special friends.

Funny how tea tastes better from little china cups and saucers

Real friends are like food and water - essential.  You know, sometimes I wonder where I would be without them.  I have quite a few "friends," but just a handful of "Real" friends...  They are the people in my life that stay with me through thick and thin... who watch me say and do wonderful things and support me, and who watch me say and do silly things and support me, note the use of the word "support" and not "judge?"  Another way I'm able to recognize a real friend is by how I feel in their company... I simply feel better, more energized, inspired, happier, good about myself  I perk up like a bunch of flowers in a vase after getting a helping of cool, fresh, well water -  I stand straighter.

Too much time had passed since I'd visited with these dear friends - almost the whole summer (how did that happen?)  So easy to fix though - I sent an email invite, and put the kettle on - ITS THAT EASY!

Whats holding you back from making time to have TWF (Tea With Friends?) 

Love these quotes:-

"She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It's good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind."
~ Toni Morrison

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing... not healing, not curing... that is a friend who cares. 
~ Henry Nouwen

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship. 
~ Thomas Aquinas

Want the recipe for these scones?  So easy...
(make vegan by just substituting with your favorite alternative milk, shortening and egg.)


21/2 Cups of your favorite Gluten Free flour blend

1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder

4 Tablespoons of Butter

2/3 Cup of Milk

1/3 Cup of Sugar

1 Large egg, beaten

1/2 Cup of extra tasty bits e.g chopped apricots, or raisins, cranberry & white chocolate (tasty combo)
                                            chopped toasted walnuts & choc. chips, orange zest and dark choc. chunks..
                                            the list goes on..., but you get the idea - get creative!!!


Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine egg and milk, beat together.

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar.  Rub the butter into the flour mixture until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.  (or if you have a food processor zip zip whiz for a couple of seconds.)

Add the egg/milk mix to the flour mix , stir well, add your extra nuts fruit, chocolate etc...

Mix well, and spoon a heap a generous tablespoons worth of mix onto the cookie sheet - there should be enough mix for approx. 9 scones.

Bake for approx. 15 minutes (should look a little toasty brown on top.)

After baking allow to cool for 15 minutes.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

A New Blog - Welcome...

Welcome to Neinah's Nest...

Its the end of one season and the beginning of another, and I am filling my spare time with the rituals that signal summer's departure - blackberry and huckleberry picking, then making into jam.  Clearing spent flowers from the garden beds... bringing fall colors from the outside in -  think gourds and pumpkins, rose hips... the last of the dahlias... strings of brightly colored chili peppers... apple spice scented candles... delightful ways to enhance the senses, and make the nest more cozy as the nights close in...

These deeply embedded rituals make the turning of the season easier - embracing the goodness and  abundance in nature makes the transition of leaving summer and stepping into Autumn more joyful..., creative and meaningful.

A Bowl of Delicately Flavored Huckleberries

Flame Colored Dahlias and Apple Spice Votives Burn Brightly Together

Mouthwatering Chilis Inspire New Recipes 

As I move through the seasons, I will be bringing recipes, thoughts and ideas, poetry, art and all things good that move and inspire me to create and to blog...

I look forward to meeting you here.