day 50 – Happy New Year’s Eve


To become even more authentic, real, genuine in thought, word and action.

To be the very essence of reliable, accountable and dedication to self.

Be the change

To be faithful, considerate and kind to my body.

To validate, assure and affirm others.

Be the evidence

To write, compose and pen with integrity.

To create, produce and empower with words.

Be the light

To breathe, exhale and let go more.

To relax, decompress and be composed.

Be the serenity

To imagine, ignite and encourage dreams.

To be helpful, donate and give anonymously.

Be the energy

goodbye 2012- it’s been good- thank you

day 49 – Countdown/364

On the 364th day of the year, after taking stock/inventory yesterday, it might be an auspicious time to complete yet another gratitude list.  Formerly, I posted an alphabet idea for listing your appreciation.  Perhaps today, a simple numerical list will suffice.  When you see everything as a miracle, because you have been given a second chance at life and know it, then you can be thankful for well over 364 million moments, never mind days.

In the top ten, I would have to include my husband, children, best friend and family .   Last year, the biggest disillusionments, confrontations and disappointments  were my greatest teachers.  The moments of peace and serenity were like calm seas and easy to ride.  The storms were just opportunities for growth.  The journey, relationships and lessons I learned, were all worth the ego-deflation and pain I put myself through for not letting go, going with the flow or understanding the truth behind the truth.

Yes, it is an appropriate time to be grateful for the clarity, the soundness of mind, the capability to listen, discern and evaluate all that took place up to 2012.

 the beauty that surrounds me, is inside of me and creates me

I explode with immense gratitude

day 48- The year in review

In order to proceed with what you want more in your life and before you can envision what you would like to accomplish or work towards next year, it might be wise to re-evaluate, take stock and inventory of this last year.  This way, we can decide what to delete, discard, change, start or re-invent, next year.

So, that’s what I am doing.  And I love to answer questionnaires, which led me to make up my own.

Feel free to print the screen or just this page for yourself.  You might just want to respond to a few at a time, take time to think them through or jot down your first thoughts.

I am sure it will give me clarity, understanding and insight.  May you also find it helpful and if more questions arise on their own, allow them to ask themselves and give yourself time and space to hear your own feedback.

And whatever you do- Be kind to yourself while still holding on to your integrity. I intend on dropping my personal two-by-four clobbering stick I use to knock cruelly on my own head for good, starting today.  Hopefully, revealing that will keep me accountable.

How was this past year different?

Did you go through any internal or external changes? What were they?

Was something revealed to you?

Has your perception of anything changed?

What relationships were tested?

How did you handle the situation?

Looking back, could you have avoided anything or done anything different?

What lessons were learned?

Are there recurring character flaws that keep popping up time and again that may be interfering with your own serenity? List it.  Explain it.

What is unresolved?

What’s still bugging you?  Anything?

Is your sense of self, clearer, more confused or doubtful?

What were specific things you did to improve your mental or physical health?

What fun things did you do that you initially were resisting?

What were the highlights of the year?

Did you try anything new?

Did you put any useful habits into place?

Did you make any new acquaintances you would like to get to know better?  What were the qualities you were attracted to?

Are there any friends you lost touch with or did not see as much this year?  Do you know why?

What events/people enhanced your experiences?

Did you work on self-love, self-nurturing and self-compassion? If so, how? If not, why not?

Did you create new boundaries or tear down any walls?

What worked for you, made you happy?

What didn’t fare so well?

Remember – Stay truthful to self but also grant yourself mercy – Cecilia





day 47 – Sweet Seattle

One of the best gifts (they were all fantastic and thoughtful) I received this Christmas was The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook – Sweetness in Seattle the latest 2012 tome by Tom Douglas. My Seattle connection, aka J and M, were kind enough to lug the volume (with 125 recipes and a bounty of pictures) home for me.

I have over 300 cookbooks and have read them all. From cover to cover.  In fact, I am an incessant and varied reader. I am not fast, but I am extensive and have a wide range of interests, that I take seriously at one time or another and love to delve into deeply.

As you know from past posts, I have been everything from low-carb to gourmet to vegetarian to basic to raw to vegan and the one important belief I have held on to is that it should be organic and of course, delicious.

The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook  is about the sinful.  It is decadent and I am salivating as I write.  The scrumptious prizewinning pecan brownie recipe is here!! Famous “Nora Ephron” peanut butter sandwich cookies!  English muffin sammies filled with savory fixings, sweet notes, tips, photos and a well- written introduction!!!Heaven! Crostatas, cookies, cakes, cupcakes and creams!  Help!

There’s a recipe from the book I will be adapting because I am thinking of bringing it to our annual New Year’s Eve soiree at my sister’s. We can all start watching our waistlines the next day.  The original recipe calls for the addition of bananas but not everyone likes them so it is suggested I omit them.  It also calls for homemade pralines but I will use my gift of roasted sugared pecans from Seattle.  Pralines/pecans can be purchased at Trader Jo’s most of the year. This Maple Cream Pie calls for a pre-baked pecan pastry shell filled with Maple Pastry Cream and then topped with more fresh cream and sprinkled with Caramelized Pecans.

Undoubtedly my daughter the baker/chef will try a few of these recipes while she is home from college.  I guess I need to wait till after she leaves to detox.





day 46 – Outstanding Gifts

I hope everyone’s Holidays were happy and drama free.

Presents and giving and expectations abound at this time of year.  I had some memorable moments and some memorable gifts.  The moments were free and the gifts were some of the least expensive.  It was the thought, the time and the care put into the event or item that mattered.


The time and effort all significant others put into celebrating with our family, gift-exchanging and general conviviality.

The time and effort my mother-in-law spent preparing, decorating and feeding us on Christmas Eve.

The time and effort my mom spent knitting scarves for my two kids who live in cold weather climates, now.

The time and effort everyone made to get along with everyone else.

The time and effort it took V to make all the dishes and prepare all the platters with mindful attention to detail and thoughtful expression on Christmas Day. It was remarkable.

The time and effort E spent picking out a special gift for me and taking her sister and brother everywhere, whenever.

The time and effort J spent picking out special presents for all of us and how she takes care of M, my son. 

The time and effort M spent taking a walk with me, making special time just for his mom.  His coming to visit us with J.

The time and effort my husband spends every day working without complaint, thirteen hours a day, sometimes six days a week, so we can live comfortably – and the little plastic CA license plate he placed in my stocking that says I am loved which means so much to me.

I could ramble on how grateful I am for this wonderful Christmas! I loved my writer’s box filled with tools, notebooks and reference books.  I loved the art and mirrored tray and rose quartz. I loved my Seattle gift bag full of goodies.  I loved my animal print loungewear, my animal print shoes and especially  – the picture my mom gave me of all three of my kids when they were 6, 3 and 7 months. I loved all my gifts.  But the best was having us all home together, at the same time.  Now, 22, 19 and 17.

What were your favorite gifts?  Were there any special moments you deem noteworthy? Was there a present you felt you gave that came from the heart and also took time and effort?

I hope everyone enjoyed what I gifted them too.  The act of giving is therapeutic for me – it seems shameful; it is so rewarding.  May I remember it is the time and effort everyone put into it that I found so significant.  Perhaps that is an outstanding gift in and of itself; time and effort.  


day 45 – Meditation

If you don’t already, I challenge you to start a meditation practice, soon.  Rouse your curiosity or interest.  Maybe, like me, it slowly faded out of your daily routine during the craziness of the holidays.

This morning, I ushered in the day, once again, with my forgotten friend.  I had been remiss and I had the need to still myself, my thoughts and my chaos, with an urgent nudge from my own inner turmoil.

By becoming still, you transform.  It might seem like a paradox but when you just close your eyes and listen within, in a quiet-minded motionless kinda hush, a lot of change can occur.  When we just are – we can hear our inner rattling of commotion, what we call ‘monkey brain’ or what I like to refer to as ‘the three stooges’.  Then, after awhile of letting it go, letting the noise subside, emptying the vessel so to speak, you can concentrate on just your breath and listen to a suspended nothingness.  Meditation is a spiritual axiom, a connection to our Divine Source of Energy.  There is no right or wrong way, because it is personal.

I intend to start my day and my New Year with meditation practice and make it a priority.  I am recommitting.  Everything else will fall into place.  The bond with Self I seek, happens. The link to my intuition, reveals itself.  The contact with my Higher Self, deepens.  My Divine Source morphs into my anchor.  My meditation practice time becomes my hook up and how I plug into the center of the Truth.

Give yourself five minutes to start.  Begin within.  True change originates inside. Peace exists.  Serenity can be achieved.  Understanding of self with all the multi-hued layers of insight is attainable.  I am grateful to be back on the proverbial cushion.

To thine own self be true.

day 42 – Travelogue – Seattle

I indulged in rabbit stew and a buttery, slightly sweetened butternut squash soup at the Local 360 restaurant.  All of their food is sourced from no farther than 360 miles away, hence the name. Washington has game, dairy, seafood, berries, cherries, and nuts to name only a few resources.  The creamiest, sweetest milk and butter from local and no hormone given, free to roam and live and eat grass- fed cows. I believe they massage them as well.

Which brings me to Beecher’s handmade cheese house on Pike Street where we fondly experienced their signature smooth, sharp and dreamy macaroni and cheese.  Displayed next door is a floor to ceiling glass enclosure where cheese is made for all to see and be educated about (always learning) in immense containers.  Supposedly, Martha Stewart’s favorite cheese is Beecher’s Flagship cheese, which is used in the sauce we partook of.  I am sure she shops back east from their Flatiron, NY store.

We also ate and I brought home roasted and caramelized pecans, bought at a stand in an indoor food court by the Space Needle.

After exploring the theatrical, twinkly night view from the top of the World’s Fair Needle and the exquisite, ethereal and colorful Chululy gardens and glass museum, we ate at Skillet Counter, in the food court. Again, I devoured butternut squash soup (even fresher and creamier, less buttery than the first one from Local 360) and picked at my son’s incredible lemony pancakes.  Crisp and lusciously fried up on the outside, fluffy and tangy with an essence of vanilla on the inside that lingered in your mouth, these were absolutely the yummiest, most delectable and tender battered up cakes my taste buds had ever tasted, ever.  Next opportunity, that is what I am ordering at Skillet Counter, no matter what time of day or night.  And as simple, bare and unassuming as the place may appear, it actually may be the first chain of eateries I want to be taken to, next time… a la In ‘n Out Burger when out of towner’s come back to visit us in CA.

Pike Street Market is unbelievable.  Imagine stand after stand of artisan food, supplies, groceries and goods with samples for everyone, dedicated fellow foodies oohing and ahhing too and a boisterous roar of activity, languages, song and laughter.

I ate cherries, observed fishmongers entertain, listened to modern washboard minstrels, and beheld every manner and vast quantities of remarkable crustaceans, unfamiliar crazy looking fruits and unusual vegetables I had never even conceived or heard of.

I tasted and purchased cinnamon almonds, rose petal jelly, chocolate hazelnut sauce and apple ginger chutney.

There were numerous and assorted types of pastas, sauces and homemade wares, including soaps, soups, dips, breads, t-shirts, etc.  It reminded me of the Ferry Market in San Francisco or Eataly in Manhattan.  The best of the best local fare  – served up in the quickest, closest, oldest manner of selling your wares. Ahh. A delight and a pure rush to all the senses.

On the morning of my return, we ate brunch at Toulouse Petit, a corner-dining establishment that had a wait and a line outside the entire time before, while we ate and after we left. For a darn good reason.  A bustling staff hustled and continuously brought customers delicious fare from the busy kitchen. I had fresh crabmeat eggs benedict. I had to have more fresh seafood.  The day before we had gorged on fried fish in baskets on the pier by the Aquarium.  Looking back, it seems inconsiderate and debauched of us to devour seafood by the fish museum.  Needless to say, I came back a few pounds heavier, even with all the walking and sightseeing.

After brunch, and right before we had to head out to the airport, the clouds lifted and I was able to peek at snow-capped Mount Rainer.  The Cascade Range is visible from hilly, steep Seattle, across the Puget Sound.  I was amazed repeatedly, all weekend and in retrospect, at how J easily parks backwards and on a slant, as M runs out to purchase a parking ticket you stick to the inside of your window.  I suppose the strategic placing of automobiles is not to test you on your parking expertise and maneuvers, but to keep the vehicles from sliding down the precipitous hills.

M and J graced our threshold today.  They are visiting and staying with us for the holidays.  I desire to relive and to continue the discourse of our wonderful weekend together.  Our Seattle ex-pats are home.  Our New York college faction is here, cooking up a storm for Christmas Day.  Our tree is brimming with colored paper, ornamental boxes and cutesy decorated winter-themed bags.  Our family is one again, all three significant others adding interest to, enhancing  and revving up the hilarity, the festivity and joy!!  Let the teasing season begin.  My husband and I are beside ourselves with happiness, smiling from ear to ear, giving each other knowing, emotional nods.  We drink in our brood as they watch My Little Ponies, play X-Box together and create new memories.  It’s all about the kids, it’s all about our love, it’s all about the family….and….of course….it’s all about the food.

Make sure to put out special Christmas cookies and eggnog for Santa Claus and elves, tomorrow night.

day 41- Travelogue – food in Seattle

Chef Tom Douglas is the Seattle star restaurateur and put this Northwestern city on the map for destination dining.  Courtesy of my hosts, I was treated to two desserts from his famous Dahlia Bakery, our last stop on the Chocolate Indulgence Walking Tour.  A signature cookie and brownie. Completely and utterly decadent, we strolled for hours, in and out of sweet shops, regaled by stories and the history of cacao.  Cutting edge earphones with volume control provided us all the chance to hear every nuance and question; an educational wealth of information was bestowed upon us as well as a gourmand treat.  See what I mean about my theory that the academics seem to have more value in colder climes?

Every bite, every calorie, every step in the freezing mist that hovered all day was worth it.  We ate an awful amount of sugar related product.  I highly recommend this tour to non-diabetics.  The sugar high alone kept me going for hours and good thing, because we had a musical to watch that evening that my son had also gifted us.  Wicked.

We had gourmet popcorn every which way, a combination of nuts, seeds, marshmallows, caramel, chocolate, etc. at KuKuRuZa.  Freshly made on the premises chocolate gelato and treats at Cupcake Royale, Obama’s favorite salted caramels at Fran’s Chocolates, chocolate tea at the Perennial Tea Room, homemade, thick delicious hot chocolate accompanied by home spun gingered marshmallows and whipped pumpkin flavored cream at The Chocolate Box and (drum roll) White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Tarts at The Confectional, fronting Pike Street Market where we had to ward off passerby’s asking for samples too.  “Sorry, only for us chocolate fanatics!  Cannot spare a single specimen.”  The Chocolate Indulgence tour of Seattle is a banquet of chocolate that pays homage to the coveted cacao bean and was a great kick-off to those 5-10 pounds I put on starting around Halloween!

On yet another outing, we had a lengthy stay at the Quintessential Gourmet Flavored Oils and Vinegar Storefront on the boardwalk boasting huge corner windows and stainless steel bins full of a wide range of delectable oils/vinegars.  Each vat has spouts and you pour the intoxicating liquids into teeny-waxed cups. Bits of bread are prepared on trays.   This was a delightful and filling field trip.  Dipping, saturating and tasting bread from countless combinations was not enough, we poured oils and vinegars and shook them up together and tossed back the mixtures like we were doing shots of tequila, albeit much healthier.

My favorite combination is the Blood Orange Olive Oil with Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar.  Exquisite. I ended up buying a lengthy list of oils and vinegars and having them shipped.

More feasting tales tomorrow…..