Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Positive and Green Holiday!

This is year I am going to be doing things a little different when it comes to gift giving. There are so many fun things to do besides buying a gifts. Making gifts almost seems to be a thing of the past. I think this year I shall bring it back. I'm going to make strawberry cordials (strawberry liquire)for some of the adults in my family. Remeber the days when we were all making Kahlua? Same idea, but different. I'll put the cordial in a pretty, recycled bottle. Other gifts from the kitchen are: cookies, breads, jams, jellies, chutneys, vinagers, etc. So fun to make and to give.

My sister-in-law came up with the idea of 'The gift of time'. This year our family will pick a name out of a hat and spend time with that person. The time spent can be: going out to lunch, going to a movie, taking a hike, playing frisbee, volunteering in a soup kitchen, etc. What a great idea! Oh, and it must be no more than $25.00. Great idea, Mary!

When wrapping the gift that you do buy, remember to use recycled paper and ribbon. Another wrapping idea is using scarves. The Japanese have been using cloth as wrapping paper for centuries. Great idea!

May you all have a very Happy, Healthy and Positive Holiday!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Focus on the Positive

It can be difficult to stay optimistic about our lives these days with such economic dread upon us and much more predicted in the near future. Yes, we do have to be careful about our world and inidividual economic situation. We can do that by staying in the present moment, being focused on the tasks at hand and being positive that we will come out of this dire time. Focusing on the negative only enhances it. I just read an article in the S.F Chroncile titled,'Pursuing Happiness in Perilous Times'. The article is talking about how in the midst of one of the biggest economic meltdowns more than 30 psychologists, biologists, philosophers and educators will be in town to discuss the history, the significance and the state of human happiness. Robina Courtin, the organizer of this conference called, 'Happiness and Its Causes' says, "We can't guarentee the dollars, but we can guarentee a happy mind'.
This growing field of exploration is finding incredible research about the link between mental and physical health related to our attitudes about what we thank about. The old saying, 'Your attitude determines your altitude is now being scientificaly proven!
It is more important now than any other time in history to use our mental control and focus on the positive. Turn off the TV, radio or computer. Listen to the birds, feel the warm sunshine on your face, enjoy the autumn leaves. There is so much goodness in the world. Enjoy it! Amplify it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Broadcast Positive News

We have all been in situations when someone bursts into a conversation and says, "I have some great news!" Immediately everyones attention is focused on that person. Positive news does more than get attention; positive news pleases people. Positive news develops enthusiasm. Positive news even promotes good digestion.

I urge you to transmit positive news about your day to your friends and family. Everyday. Recall amusing and pleasant things you have experienced during the day. Let the unpleasant things lie dormant, don't add to that energy, unless you want more of it. Bring home sunlight everyday to your family. Look to see how you feel after a week on focusing on the positive. Let me know what happens!

This article was paraphrased from the book 'The Magic of Thinking Big', by David J. Schwartz. Chapter -'Make Your Attitudes Your Allies' pg.175

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Global Kindness

My husband and myself just got back from a 2 1/2 week trip to Greece. We were invited to an authentic Greek wedding in a small city called Larissa, about a 3 hr. drive north of Athens. The week before the wedding the bride-to-be's family hosted dinners at their house every night. This Greek family lives outside Larissa in a small farming village named Agia. We meet my mother and my cousins at the Greek families house when were arrived from Athens. My cousin was a foreign exchange student with the family 20 years ago and has keep in contact very well. As we sat at the outside big round table after our initial welcome, we saw dozens of villagers coming to the families home to pay their respects to the bride and to welcome us.

Traditional Greek meals were prepared for all of us and the families friends which totaled about 40-50 people every night! Most of the villagers couldn't speak English and we all tried our best to speak a little Greek, but we could all feel the genuine connection between us. I can still picture in my mind little tan older faces with big smiles and missing teeth. But the love, the warm kindness was conveyed in such a pureness of heart, that I can't forget it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Say Yes To Life

This excerpt is taken from Spa Magazine - Healthly Living, Travel and Renewal; July/Aug. 2008 By Dr. Jeffrey Brantley and Wendy Millstine
"Yes" is a popular and widespread expression of joyful aggreement and hearty acceptance. Try saying "yes" through the present moment to the ever-changing, mysterious flow of life. Breathe mindfully for about a minute. Set your intention. For example:"May this practice give me happiness and energy." Notice and gently name the different experiences as they arise in this moment. As you name each one, simply add "Yes". For example, "Worried thoughts - yes." Ache in your back - yes". Gently whisper "yes" without intellectualizing or resisting. What do you notice?
All thoughts, emotions, and actions can become something beautiful when you are truly present and open to the possibilities available in the present moment. Through mindfulness, intention, and acting wholeheartedly, you can enjoy the love in your life in ways deeper and richer than you may ever have imagined.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Fish and the Eel

I was recently snorkeling along the Kohala coast in Hawaii. A small group of friends and I hiked through a nice golf course to get to this great snorkeling area. We got our masks and snorkels on and headed out to the reef ledge near by. Lots of big yellow Tangs the size of dinner plates were swimming about. Blue Parrot fish and multi-colored Wrasses swam right past us. For some reason all of these fish were larger here than I have ever seen anywhere else. It must be a perfect habitat. A few golf balls were strewn about the sandy bottom or lodged in coral stands. I was watching this one big fish (a Grouper) with a black body and purple fins swimming rapidly along this one coral ledge. He (or she) would swim fast, then stop as if it was looking for something it had lost. All of a sudden a big whitemouth spotted eel pokked its head out. The fish swam over quickly to the eel. I though for sure there was going to be a fight and one of them would eat the other. The eel swam out of his coral cave to meet the fish. Then the two of them swam together for a few yards and the eel popped back into another coral cave. The fish searched frantically from entrance to entrance to find the eel again. The eel would come out, swim for a short while and pop back into another cave. Eels remind me of boa constrictors, but have a blunt end. I watched this cat and mouse game for at least 15 minutes, facinated by this display. I concluded that they were playing hide and go seek for fun! They were friends. It was a very cute display of affection and connection between two very opposite species of the sea world. I think we can all appreciate this!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Striped Bass

Continued story from 'Hot Fudge Sundae's' . . .

After Nate and I left Ghiradelli Square we turned down Van Ness Avenue going south. I said. "Naty, do you want to go down the crookedest street in the world?!" And of course what do you think a seven year old boy would say, "Yeahh, that would be cool!". "Alright, lets go!", I said as I turned upward onto Lombard Street. We both admired all the beautiful homes as we ascended, finally getting to the top of the hill. The view was crystal clear and we could see Mt. Diablo. The grid pattern of the San Francisco landscape rolled out below us like a tapestry. Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge and little neighborhoods were all in perfect alignment. Lombard Street had the blooming hydrangas in full force- light blues, pinks and purple bubble-like gum flowers. Nate was awed by this experience, he even commented on the pretty houses lining the street. He wanted to park and get out to walk the street. I explained that no one is allowed to stop on the crookest street in the world. When we got to the bottom Nate wanted to do it again, but I said we need to go to Chinatown to get some fish and vegetables.
We went directly to Montgomery Street into the heart of the real Chinatown. Not many tourists in this area. As we were driving there we passed alot of appartments that had clothes strung on ropes between houses just like a scene from Italy. "Auntie Kristi, look, theres somebodys' underwear", my little Nephew observed. And they were the biggest men's briefs I'd ever seen. We ended up parking at the top of a hill, I had to remember how to turn the tires into the curb correctly. Nate and I made our way through the heavy street population into the produce market. Since there is little sense of personal space we were upclose with the ladies haggeling over vegetables. It was somewhat easy keeping an eye on blond haired Nate. I gave him the lechee nuts, basil and lemon grass to carry as we made our way to the fish market. The first fish market we went into had crates of l big live snapping turtles, frogs and aquariums loaded with fish. The fish monger was yelling at a customer, it was hot and congested, so we left and went to the next fish store two doors down. The second store was much more pleasant, clean, air conditioned and calm. The fish in the tanks looked clean. Nate was amazed at all the tanks bubbling about. He loved the catfish in particular. I pointed to two striped bass I thought looked good. The fish man got his net and scooped them out, put them on the floor for my approval where Nate was standing. Then with my nod he grabbed the wooden club and wacked the fish on the head. Hopefully it was quick and painless for for our little friends. Nate was speechless. I personally think it is good for people to know where thier food comes from and some of the processes involved. Our over-sanititized American culture misses this point. The fish monger put the fish on the wooden chopping block and cleaned them. Nate had never wittnesed such an event so closely. He was impressed with all the fish guts at the back of the board. I've never known him to be so quiet for so long. We talked about this all the way home to the Bay Area hills. We ended up grilling the bass the next day at our Thai meal feast. When we asked Nate if he liked the fish, he said,"No, not really". Oh well, the experience was worth it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Providing Comfort for Our Marines

This week the Jefferson Award has been awarded to Lavella Cassinelli who is the chair of the Community Quilts program. More than 10 years ago, Mrs. Cassinelli discovered her passion for quilting. She took classes in quilt making and assembled a group of fellow quilters to start quilting for those in need. In 1997 she became chair of the Community Quilts program. "Whenever it's time to take the finished quilts and deliver them to the people, it makes me feel so good", said Cassineli. She said the Community Quilts program produces and delivers more than 1,000 quilts a year.
The Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base is a project close to Cassinelli's heart. She is a native of Monterey County (Soledad). Through the program , the Marines recieve full and queen-size bed coverings. "It makes their rooms look more like home, and it's just comforting to them to know that people are thinking about them and sending them large quilts to put on their beds", said Cassinelli. "Its great for their moral".
We are definately thinking of our Marines, our Heros and everyone else who help keep our country safe. Happy Fourth of July!!!

This positive news was adapted from the San Francisco Chronicle article written by Shelah Moody on June 29, 2008. For more information about the Community Quilts program, visit

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hot Fudge Sundaes

My 7 year old Nephew, Nate, is now out of school for the summer. Last Thursday I decided to take him to the famous Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco. Mid morning we headed over the Bay Bridge viewing Alcatraz Island on the right. Nate asked, "Are there still people in prision there?" I said,"No, no prisioners have been there for many years since the 1960's." "Where did they go?", Nate asked. "That is a very good question", I said, how precious and innocent are these observations from our younger generation. Our day consisted of many of these question/answer periods. As we neared the Fishermen's Wharf area the cable cars were coming and going from Powell Street to the Wharf, letting passengers on/off right in front of the Buena Vista Bar. The sprawling green lawn of the Marina was surrounded with lush, colorful flowers. Vistors from other countries abounded the Marina. I heard alot of French being spoken. The day was a perfectly warm 85 F. Clear and warm. Nate and I hit the beach. As we drew in the saltly air, we could see the letters looming overhead behind us, GHI, a lamp post, then RARD, a tree, and finally ELLI. "Look behind us Nate!" "There it is! Ghirardelli Square!" "Wow!", Nate said. I can imagine how big it must had seemed to him. "Let's go check it out", I said. We dried off our bare sandy feet, put our shoes on and headed to the chocolate factory. After arriving at the chocolate factory, I realized that lunch was not served. So, being a 'good, repsonsible Aunt' I took Nate promptly to McCormick and Kluetos for a fabulous seaside, incredible view lunch. The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the 'Pirate ships" were all in view. Nate made great conversation, asking me questions like, "What is your favorite thing to eat?" and "What do you like to do?" It was wonderful. Then the subject of dessert came up. I asked Nate,"Have you ever had a Black n'Tan?" No, he said,"What is that!?" For all of you born prior to 1980, we all know what a Black n'Tan is. For those of you who don't it is simply two large vanilla ice cream scoops, one has hot fudge(Black) and the other has caramel(Tan) on top. The ice cream is smoothered in mounds of whip cream, some chopped toasted almonds and a red cherry, of course. Memorable and delicious.
Nate and I high tailed it straight to the chocolate factory. We looked at the vibrant picture menu of twenty different ice cream combinations. "Where is the Black n' Tan", I asked the cashier. She had never heard of it. "Its not on the menu, but you can have caramel sauce with the hot fudge sauce as well", she replied. We took one of those and Nate ordered the same with milk chocolate fudge sauce(another new twist to my suprise). We settled ourselves in front of the factory part of the restaurant and watched the giant wheels turning around to crush the cocao nibs on the granite stone. Our hot fudge sundaes'(Black n'Tans) arrived and they were more beautiful than I remembered from twenty years ago. Nate and I ate as much as we could, exactly half for each of us. We were in ice cream heaven. Then we proceeded to China Town, the authenic, locals only part of Stockon Street. That is another story to be continued in two weeks . . .

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Connecting People and Their Interests

I was thrilled to see this article in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, June 1, 2008 about a young man who developed a website call . Armen Berjikly's initial intension was to develop a website to help his friend research multiple sclerosis. Through his site tons of research was available to anyone. Armen found that by connecting with people with similiar issues was an incredibly powerful tool in helping others. That was the foundation and model Armen used to launch With Experienceproject people could connect with others about any topic. People can come to the site and type in something that is important to them such as, 'I like dogs, or 'I love to cook'. That's all you have to do in order to connect to like minded individuals. There is no registration fee. Registers only have to have nick names. Its an incredibly positive, supportive culture! Go to E-mail to view the article.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Silicon Valley Green Fair this Weekend!

The Green Fair is going to be a very informative and fun event! There will be 200 main presenters who will be showing:
Natural Gas Cars you can Recharge at Home
Electric and Hybrid Vechicles by Toyota and Honda
Greening up your home and businesses
Organic food(and samples) in the Great Green Market place
Celebrities: Ed Begley, Jr. and Will Durst
Drawings to win: $2,600 to win a Street Legal Electric Scooter from GreenEMotor
And much, much, more . . . Go to for more information

Friday, May 2, 2008

Idea Grows on Trees in California

This is an article from the Contra Costa Times Newspaper dated 2/26/08 by Sara Steffens.

A woman by the name of Nataha Boissier founded the nonprofit organization, North Berkeley Harvest, that gathers unwanted fruits, vegetables, herbs (produce) from peoples homes and donates it to Bay Area schools and soup kitchens. What a great idea!

If you would like to volunteer your time or produce and to learn more about this organization go to the website or by phone 510/812-3369.

A similiar organization in the South Bay, Santa Clara County, is called Village Harvest. They are at or by phone at 888/378-4841.

Happy Picking and Giving