Monday, March 26, 2018

Holy Week: Monday

"The blessings of the temple are available to us all—young and old and everybody in between.
It is in the temple that we remember who we really are and see with clarity who we really can become."
~Jean A. Stevens

Photo found here

Events: Jesus Cleanses the Temple, Heals the Blind and Lame
Prophecy: "Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people." (Isaiah 56:7)
Summary: Three years prior to this Easter Week, Jesus Christ had cleansed the temple in Jerusalem and called it "my Father's house." On this day of Easter Week, Christ once again clears the temple of money changers but, in his role as Messiah, claims the temple as "my house." He teaches in the temple, and the blind and lame come to Him and He heals them.
Scripture Reading: Christ cleanses the temple, heals blind, and teaches: Matthew 21:12-18; Mark 11:12-19Luke 19:45-48

Seeing how upset Jesus was in the account of Jesus cleansing the temple and the depictions of this story in art always used to surprise me. But I've come to realize that he acted strongly because he felt so strongly that it is important to be respectful of sacred things.

This reverence for that which is sacred has guided how I learn about other religions, their books of scripture, their cultures, their dress. People of many religions are often mocked for their beliefs or their outward symbols of belief. Mormons, Muslims, and Jews alike. I want to be more careful when I speak of or observe another's beliefs, which they hold sacred. It IS important to be respectful of sacred things, things you deem to be sacred. It's also important to be respectful of things that others hold dear.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Holy Week: Palm Sunday

"It is fitting that during the week from Palm Sunday to Easter morning we turn our thoughts to Jesus Christ, the source of light, life, and love. The multitudes in Jerusalem may have seen Him as a great king who would give them freedom from political oppression. But in reality He gave much more than that. He gave us His gospel, a pearl beyond price, the grand key of knowledge that, once understood and applied, unlocks a life of happiness, peace, and fulfillment."
~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Photo found here

Event: Jesus's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
Prophecy: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." (Zechariah 9:9)
Summary: Jesus Christ rides into the city of Jerusalem on a donkey, and is greeted by multitudes of people shouting Hosanna, waving palms, and laying down clothing and branches for Christ to walk on. They recognize Him as their King. “And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” (Matthew 21:9)
Scripture Reading:
Triumphal Entry: Matthew 21:1-11Mark 11:1-11Luke 19:28-44John 12:12-36
Prophecy of Triumphal Entry: Zechariah 9:9

When I was in Jerusalem in November 2015, I walked the half-mile route down from the Mount of Olives on the way to the Old City of Jerusalem. Not only did it provide a stunning view of the city, but I was reminded of the significance of this place in biblical history.

From the Mount of Olives, you can see a green area, which is the Valley of Kidron—the site where King David first established Jerusalem. Most cities in Israel were founded around springs of water rather than defensible positions. King David established his city above the Gihon Spring in the Kidron Valley. This was also an area that didn't belong to any one of the 12 tribes of Israel, so it was a neutral place to locate the capital city of united Israel.

Olive Trees in Jerusalem. Photo by me.

In reading the four gospels in the New Testament, we know that the Mount of Olives, adjacent to Jerusalem's Old City up on a ridge to the east, played a significant role in his life. It served as a place of refuge for him. On Palm Sunday, fulfilling prophecy, Jesus descended the Mount of Olives on a donkey in a long procession which we have come to know as "the triumphal entry" into Jerusalem.

The road from Bethany to Jerusalem, down the Mount of Olives, is a steep descent and winds its way past a Jewish cemetery. These burial grounds have been used to lay to rest more than 150,000 Jewish faithful including important rabbis from the 15th to 20th centuries. They believed that when the Messiah returned, they would be closest to being resurrected so they could enter Jerusalem in triumph.

But Christ's followers knew of his divinity and believed him to be the Messiah. Palm Sunday commemorates the day of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We call it Palm Sunday because of the palm fronds and leaves that were laid out before him on his path to Jerusalem, a custom symbolizing victory. He was greeted by multitudes of people shouting Hosanna and waving palms. They recognized him as their King. This set in motion the events leading to His Atonement, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Holy Week

"Every attempt to reflect upon the Atonement, to study it, to embrace it, to express appreciation for it, however small or feeble it may be, will kindle the fires of faith and work its miracle towards a more Christlike life. It is an inescapable consequence of so doing. We become like those things we habitually love and admire. And thus, as we study Christ’s life and live His teachings, we become more like Him."
~Tad R. Callister

For years, I have felt that the commercialization of Easter, with its chocolate bunnies and egg hunts, was lacking in terms of howI want to celebrate Easter and springtime. Springtime brings with it a feeling of new birth. Baby animals, eggs, tulips, and fresh grass all add to this feeling of newness. And Easter is about Jesus Christ, his life, atonement, crucifixion, and his resurrection, a new birth.

To capture this feeling, I've decided to take time to study the last week of Christ's life during Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday this year. I've found various suggestions and guidelines online and plan to share my thoughts each day during Holy Week. And I'd love to hear what you do to commemorate the events of the last week of Christ's life during this week.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

If I were...

"I used to just crastinate. Then I decided to go pro."

As I've mentioned before, I have loads and loads of half-written, unpublished posts. Time has been taken with homework and other obligations for the past couple of years while I've been in my Executive MBA program, which I'll write about at some point. But until then, I think I ought to just start publishing some of those posts. Get myself back in the swing of writing. So here's a fun one to start.

If I were a month, I'd be April.
If I were a day of the week, I'd be Friday.
If I were a time of day, I'd be dusk.
If I were a sea animal, I'd be a beluga.
If I were a direction, I'd be west.
If I were a gemstone, I'd be a sapphire nestled between two diamonds.
If I were a tree, I'd be a redwood or a jacaranda or a Japanese maple or a Sequoia. Because who can decide when it comes to these exceptional organisms?
If I were a tool, I'd be a power drill.
If I were a flower, I'd be a gardenia on a summer afternoon in southern California.
If I were a kind of weather, I'd be a cumulus cloud on a crisp autumn day.
If I were a musical instrument, I'd be a cello.
If I were a color, I'd be sky blue.
If I were a fruit, I'd be a strawberry.
If I were a classic element, I'd be earth.
If I were a periodic table element, I'd be oxygen.
If I were an amino acid, I'd be methionine.
If I were a food, I'd be cheese, oh glorious cheese.
If I were a place, I'd be home.
If I were a material, I'd be lace or maybe wool.
If I were a scent, I'd be lily of the valley.
If I were an herb, I'd be rosemary.
If I were an item of clothing, I'd be a scarf.
If I were a song, I'd be Ashokan Farewell.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Three-day Fast; Take Two

"Like is either a daring adventure or nothing at all."
~Helen Keller

You may not consider the topic of this post as an adventure, but I sure do. Remember when I did a three-day fast that one time almost THREE YEARS AGO?!!? I had intended to make extended fasting a more regular part of my lifestyle due to the many health benefits it provides, but apparently I didn't make it a priority and nearly three years has past.

Well, I'm at it again. Encouraged by a few articles about immune-boosting benefits of fasting as well as first-hand experience by my friend Randy, I started yesterday, Monday, April 3rd.

Since I've fasted for 24 hours numerous times before (without food or water) and successfully completed an extended 3-day fast (with water) once before, I know a little of what to expect from myself. So for my own personal reflection, I'm going to track my thoughts and experiences as I did last time during the 3-day fast. So far I've found it useful in reminding me how to approach it this time around.

Day One (Monday, April 3, 2017):
As expected, the first half of the day proved to be not too difficult to abstain from food. By the second half of the work day, maybe around 3pm, I was getting a little antsy for something to eat. Luckily, I'm already a dutiful water drinker, so I just kept drinking.

Unlike last time, I gave KDJ a heads-up that I was fasting and would probably be grumpy by the time I got home. She was very encouraging and had also completely eaten dinner by the time I got home, so I wasn't really tempted by any delicious smells of tacos, like last time. I'm glad I thought to give her the heads-up. Lesson learned from last time.

Interestingly, like a repeat of last time, I found myself looking at every food recipe on Pinterest, or every online advertisement about food. I'm not sure that I sought these out, so much as noticed them more readily now that I wasn't eating. But I certainly have several meals I'm already thinking of whipping up this next weekend. :)

A headache started coming on sometime in the afternoon and into the evening. I continued drinking water, but decided to take some ibuprofen to ease the headache while I was finishing an assignment for school (did I tell you I'm getting my MBA?). The headache eased a bit and then persisted when I woke up twice in the night, once at about midnight only a couple hours after I went to bed, and again at about 4am. One of those times I took some more ibuprofen. I'm lucky that my stomach isn't bothered by ibuprofen without food. Most people in my family have to take it with a little something to prevent stomach upset.

I know this whole 3-day fast is designed to be a natural way to reset my system and be healthier so I don't NEED to take pills for pain or anything. Eating better, and especially eating less sugar, will help with any pain or inflammation. But I decided that to ease myself into it, I would do it. Plus, I know full well that those headaches had to be sugar-withdrawal headaches. Once I get through them, I'll be fine.

Total water intake: 88 ounces (less than I planned, but not bad at all at about 15-20 ounces more than my average)

Day Two (Tuesday, April 4, 2017):
5:13pm - Today has been a busy day at work with several meetings, so I haven't had much time to think about food. Lucky for me, my norm in meetings is to sip on my water cup and drink an entire 16 ounces of water. Today, in one 90-minute meeting I drank 32 ounces.

A good friend and co-worker stopped by my desk for advice around 1pm with a king-sized Snickers bar he was eating for lunch. It looked yummy, but I wasn't severely tempted as I expected I might be when I first saw him eating it.

Have had a very low-level headache on and off throughout the workday today. More off than on.

One good thing is that I remember to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste to work today.

Total water intake: 96 ounces

Day Three (Wednesday, April 5, 2017):
3:07pm - Woke up with a headache. Ugh. Low-level, but still. I hate when that happens. Isn't sleep supposed to help your headaches? Sugar withdrawal, be gone!

Fasting can be difficult because most people around you are not fasting. Today I not only had a department lunch run (luckily it was ordered in, so I'm saving it for later), but after a brisk early afternoon walk, I came back to my desk to find a disgustingly delicious looking cinnamon roll slathered with very sweet (but strong smelling) frosting just sitting on my desk trying to tempt me. Wow. I'm a sugar addict. It smelled so good. I immediately tried to give it away, but no one wanted it. Instead, I transferred it from the plate to a Ziploc bag and plan to give it to the homeless man who always stands at my freeway exit on the way home. There's probably a pound of sugar in it, but I'm sure he'll enjoy a rare treat.

I'm feeling a little tired this afternoon. Not bad, just a little less energy. Maybe it's my mind wrestling with the sugar addiction. I really want that cinnamon roll. And oh the frosting. YUM! But nope. No can do.

7:43pm - Went shopping to get some bone broth to help ease myself back into eating tomorrow. Randy recommended Kettle and Fire beef bone broth, so I got two cartons of that. I also decided to try a few different kinds of Pacific bone broth.

Total water intake: 120 ounces

Day Four (Thursday, April 6, 2017):
Today I'm a little weak, but not terribly. It's interesting because I feel like I could probably go another day, though I don't think I will.

3pm - Opted for a late lunch/snack to break my fast. Had about 3/4 cup of the Kettle & Fire beef broth. Good flavor, but bland at the same time. Bland because there is no added salt. But it would be a great base for a stew or soup. I was very full after eating that. I forgot about the stomach shrinking.

6pm - Ate some steamed zucchini from my Rumbi lunch that was purchased for the department lunch the other day. (I took it home and have had it in the fridge since then.)

Total water intake: 80 ounces

I'd say I don't feel a 180 degree change, but I do feel better. I've lost a total of 14 pounds since I started. I know that probably 5 pounds of that will hop right back on as soon as I start eating, but still, that's a good jump-start for me.

And? No sweets for me until at least Easter. And even then, I'm going to try to go basically sugar-free. I'm starting with the obvious stuff; sweet treats, candy, added sugar to things like flavored yogurt, etc. But I'll be honest, it's a big deal for me to steer clear of desserts and candy. So I'm patting myself on the back.

Maybe I'll do this fast once every other month.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home,
a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and
creates a vision for tomorrow."
~Melody Beattie

I have loads of half-written posts that I need to finish and publish, but I wanted to pause for a moment on this Thanksgiving morning to reflect on that for which I am most thankful. Since lists and I like each other, here goes...

1. I'm thankful for my family. Their love, their support, their humor, their interest in me, and their encouragement (they are great cheerleaders!). It's nice to know that you have a whole group of people in your court.

2. I'm thankful for my job. It may not be all I wish for and I may not love every minute of it, but overall it's a good place to be. And the alternative is certainly not a place I want to be right now. Good people. It's giving me experience. It's paying my bills and for that I'm grateful.

3. I'm so thankful for my home. I love my home and being in a nice warm, cozy place is pure luxury, I know.

4. I'm thankful for the formal education I have had and am now getting. So many teachers, so many topics, so many lessons learned. My life is forever enriched by all of them and the desire for life-long learning continues to burn within me.

5. I'm thankful for trees. And for mountains. And the ocean. And sunsets and sunrises. CLOUDS. I'm thankful for clouds. For the rain and treasured foggy, misty mornings.

6. I'm thankful for friends. New and old. Those who have come and gone and those that are here to stay. I'm immensely grateful to those who warmly reach out to me. Reaching out to others comes relatively naturally to me, but it's like a breath of fresh air when someone else takes the lead.

7. I'm thankful for God. The comfort and peace that come with having a relationship and connection with God is a blessing. Knowing and imagining what my heavenly parents are like gives me hope and peace.

8. I'm grateful for Zumba. It breathes in new life every time. Endorphins! And my Zumba teacher, Jennifer. Her smile and cheerful nature is infectious.

9. My bed. Oh, I'm so thankful for my bed. It's the best.

10. The internet. I'll say it. I'm thankful for the internet.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Recipe: Broccoli Bites

Eat food.
Not too much.
Mostly plants.
~Michael Pollan

Bright and early this morning, I picked up my Bountiful Baskets co-op order, the first in a very long time. I forgot how much I love getting all these vegetables. Plus getting up early starts my day off well because I feel so productive.

I've been trying to make a concerted effort to eat more healthfully, to eat REAL food. Real food doesn't have labels. Therefore, eating real food requires spending more time (not necessarily more money) preparing food. More time reading recipes. More time planning the week's meals. But I've noticed that as I make a focused effort to eat well, all of that time becomes much more meaningful and therapeutic.

Food is medicine. Food is fuel. And food is fun. Recently, I completed an online course with Stanford University, through CourseEra, called Stanford Introduction to Food and Health. I'd recommend it. As I went through the course, I was reminded of all the reasons cooking at home is generally best: it's healthier; it's tastier; you know what's in your food; it's therapeutic and rewarding to spend 15 minutes preparing your meal or a few hours once a week making meals that will last.

And so, I'm making an effort.

Today's Bountiful Baskets offering

With a table full of vegetables (and some fruit) this morning, I knew I had to be creative with my food preparation. All of this for $28 (regular basket plus a St. Patrick's Day add-on - everything in the plastic bags is the add-on) and I'm certain it will last me at least two weeks.

So far I've made a batch of vegetable soup with onions. leeks, garlic, broccoli, carrots, fresh thyme, dried herbs (Costco's blend is terrific), and some salt and pepper. I may add some chicken at a later time, but it was pretty tasty.

Because I not only had the two heads of broccoli you see in the picture, but an additional three heads already in the fridge, I decided to make some broccoli bites. I've read a few recipes in the past (probably on Pinterest) and decided to try a batch of these.

Broccoli Bites

For a first time shot, they turned out really yummy, but I'd still change a few things next time. Although, I didn't measure many of the ingredients, here is the recipe I came up with, with a few modifications I would make next time.
Broccoli Bites by Emery 
2 cups of broccoli, lightly steamed and chopped (do NOT over do it; the broccoli will cook a little more in the oven)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs
1/4 onion, finely chopped and maybe sauteed
1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
Any fresh or dried herbs, to taste (Costco's seasoning mix would be great)
Salt and pepper, to taste 
Mix it all together in a large bowl. With hands, form small patties and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, depending on the size of your patties, allowing to brown a little. Turn over once after the first 15 minutes. Serve warm alone or with your favorite dipping sauce.
This recipe makes about a dozen 2.5 inch patties or 2 dozen 1.5 inch small patties.

Delicious! And I still have three broccoli heads left!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Top Ten at the 2016 Golden Globes. Long and flowy stole the show.

"People will stare.
Make it worth their while."
~Harry Winston

And I'm back with another fashion post. I'm still cranking out my posts from my trip to Jordan and Israel, so keep checking back. They'll be back-dated, but you can always click on the Jordan/Israel label and get all the posts with that tag.

The red carpet at the Golden Globes this year certainly made up for last year's, which was really a non-event for me. This year's choices proved to keep my eye much better.

Viola Davis is just beautiful. The dark navy, the flowy skirt, the sheer fabric, the silvery sparkle. Though it was a bit busy with sparkle, she looked stunning. Just look at that smile.

Viola Davis in Marchesa
Golden Globes 2016
Photo credit

Alicia Vikander, whoever she is, chose a white gown that looked a little bit like wainscoting or beadboard to me. I liked the fun, feminine look until I got a view from the side--the sides were non-existent. But from the front, I think it was a fun number.

Alicia Vikander in Louis Vuitton
Golden Globes 2016
Photo credit

Julianne's dress didn't blow me away, but I liked the color which went well with her coloring. I think I would have liked it a smidge better if the thing wrapped around her neck had been left out.

Julianne Moore in Tom Ford
Golden Globes 2016
Photo credit

Amber Heard's flowy pink number by Gucci had a lovely, ethereal feel to me. The flowers circling the neckline were a nice touch with her matching lip stain. The pink/peach color variation was really pleasing too, soft on the eyes.

Amber Heard in Gucci
Golden Globes 2016
Photo credit

And then there's the teal and gold that Calista Flockhart wore. I love the color combo. The dress had a lot of potential, and I like it, but I think the neckline could've been different or maybe if there were well-placed seams in the bodice. But still, it looked great.

Calista Flockhart in Andrew Gn
Golden Globes 2016
Photo credit

Keeping with the blues, Queen Latifah's gown caught my eye. She looked lovely. A fresh and clean look with a little sparkle is always a good choice.

Queen Latifah in Badgley Mischka
Golden Globes 2016
Photo credit

Although her makeup and hair weren't as flattering as they could've been and I wished that she would've smiled, Uzo Aduba looked great in this black sequined gown. I haven't been able to learn the designer yet, but I'll update if I do. Simple with a bit of flair.

Uzo Aduba in unkown designer
Golden Globes 2016
Photo credit

A surprise favorite, Olivia Palermo's short multi-colored dress was a break from my usual style, but it was fun and it worked on her slim frame.

Olivia Palermo in Delpozo
Golden Globes 2016
Photo credit

Caitriona Balfe is just stunning. Isn't she? If you don't know her, she's the lead in Outlander. She spent years as a runway model, which is evident in her poise and the way she carries herself. Her black dress with the lacy tulle-like overlay and ruffly sleeves was great. Funky, but it works for me. Plus, I'm just in total awe of her, and frankly she wouldn't NOT make the list.

Caitriona Balfe in Alexander McQueen
Golden Globes 2016
Photo credit

And then there was Sam. Blue got me again. Sam Heughan was the best dressed man at the Golden Globes. Again the deep blue with his reddish hair was just a great combo. Don't know Sam? Well, watch Outlander and become acquainted. I insist. You won't be sorry.

Sam Heughan in unknown designer
Golden Globes 2016
Photo credit

And there you have it. What were your favorites?

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Let there be light. And a little frill!

"If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun."
~Katharine Hepburn

I decided awhile back that my lamp was really blah and that it needed something to liven it up. I took straightway to Pinterest and determined that I needed some pompom trim. And here is the result.

Tada. Let there be light.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fort Point: A Thanksgiving Treat!

"Anyone who doesn't
have a great time in San Francisco
is pretty much dead to me."
~Anthony Bourdain

The San Francisco weekend continued to be very relaxing with mornings spent sleeping in, reading, and puttering around. On Friday, we ventured out to the Haight. Shep found a couple records at Amoeba and we did a bit of Christmas shopping for Marina and Emily at the sock shop.

After that Shep took me on a city drive, stopping for a late lunch of Gordo's burritos and fresh, warm gai mei baos from Lung Fun Bakery on Clement. Wow, those gai mei baos were the best I have had in years. Warm, sweet, and so fresh. We have a few good Chinese bakeries in Salt Lake, but their gai mei bao recipe is just different and not as good, in my opinion, probably because they come from a different region of China than most San Francisco Chinese.

We ended up at Fort Point, one of my favorite places, where we took a thousand pictures. My childhood memories are filled with time spent at Fort Point and every time I come, I have to make a visit and take pictures. Also, we were trying to get more pictures for the annual family calendars, so... let the picture dumping commence.

Lots of GG Bridge traffic impeded our path down to Fort Point.

Is it one of your favorite places now too? There's something about the water, the wind, the view, the bridge, the red brick, the history, and the memories that combine together to make me love this place.

The rest of the weekend was spent eating kouign-amanns from B Patisserie, driving around the city, breakfast at Sabrina's (meeting her kids for the first time), watching Amazon Prime's The Man in the High Castle, and relaxing. Shep was a perfect host, chef, and driver, making this a great Thanksgiving weekend getaway for me!