How to Connect

How to be in touch with nature at any time?

Look at the Sky.

Feel the wind and air movement.

Water is everywhere – give thanks to water when you drink, shower.

Mentor yourself – give yourself constructive feedback.

Sweat.

Go outside and greet the sun.

Sing and pray – to connect with our spirit.

Treasure and appreciate.

Kindness towards ourselves and others.

(Wisdom from thedetoxsummit.com – August 4-11, 2014)

20140809-001223-743560.jpg

Finding Tranquility in an Indian Restaurant

Why am I always amazed about life?  It is really the simple things in life that give us the biggest pleasure.

A friend and I decided to have Indian food in San Mateo, and we discovered this new restaurant called Vedas serving Northern Indian food after Googling “Best Indian Food in San Mateo” (love the people who have asked this question before us.)

Vedas restaurant(Courtesy of Yelpers)

Like a lot of Indian restaurants, this one’s decor is simple, but the smaller details show that the owners pay attentions to the eaters’ experiences – hand-made decorations on the vases on the table, infused water with cucumber and lemon, putting an extra table next to a table for two for us to have more space, etc.  The owner ordered the food for us and constantly checked our needs.  The garden patio at the back also makes this place tranquil and special.

What we had were delicious: Anokhi Chaat (Crispy tortillas (ours was crispy eggplant for non-gluten eater) with avocado, herbs, chopped veggie), Scallops ke Sooley (grilled scallops with coconut and balsamic), Avofruit Salad (Avocado with seasonal fruit and veggie), Basil Makhmali Tikka (boneless chicken pieces, nicely-spiced), Bhindi Do-Pyasa (okra with onions, tomatoes, cilantro), the oh so wonderful Vegetarian Biryani (chunks of veggie cooked in spices, saffron, garam masala-flavoured basmati rice infused by naan bread on top), and Rosemary Naan.  And yes, the owner gave us two small mango lassi for free – perfect taste and not too sweet (the secret was adding a little salt to it!)

The whole experience was not just about the food, it was the tranquility of the place, the attention of the owner and the waiter, the conversation with a good friend, the appreciation of the ingredients of the food, the discussions with the owner (the wife is from Venezuela with Italian and Spanish parents – how interesting), which have made the experience joyful.

In Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, he said, “Stillness conquers heat. Tranquil and calm set the rhythm of the world.” (Translation of the last 2 Chinese sentences below.)

There are many things that can bring back tranquility, calm, and balances to one’s life – one of them is the pleasure of a flavourful meal with a friend.  Simple cherish at its best.

大成若缺.
其用不弊.
大盈若沖.
其用不窮.
大直若屈.
大巧若拙.
大辯若訥.
躁勝寒.
靜勝熱.
清靜為天下正.

From Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching

July – National Watermelon Month

An article from health.com caught my attention because it is about my and many others’ favourite fruit in the summer – watermelon.

In the “5 things you didn’t know about watermelon”:

At 46 calories per cup, watermelon offers 20% of your daily intake of vitamin C and 17% vitamin A, according to the USDA.

It has more lycopene than raw tomatoes. That can stop free radicals from damaging your cells and immune system. But store it in room temperature to maximize its antioxidants before slicing, according to the nutritionist.

The juice can relieve muscle soreness because of the citrulline it contains, especially in the rind.

It’s a fruit AND a vegetable and can be traced back to the squash, pumpkin and cucumber family.

It is 91.5% water, said the USDA.

I should add that although watermelon is a sweet fruit and has a high glycemic Index of 72 (GI measures how fast the carbohydrate turns into sugar; over 70 is high), it has a glycemic load of only 4 (GL also takes into account how much of that carbohydrate is in a serving; below 10 is low.)

It is a superfood for everyone that is cool and tasty, too!

20140705-171309-61989970.jpg (photo courtesy of bingwallpaper.anerg.com)

Ways to Stand Out

Happy July 4th to America!

As I was walking around the City (the Bay Area residents refer to San Francisco as “the City”) in the past few days, I notice how non-uniform the buildings in the City is. They are a collection of eclectic shapes, colours, styles, and ages. Nonetheless, a few have always caught my eyes.

20140704-171324-62004765.jpg
(Cafe Niebaum-Coppola (yes the Director of Godfather), now called Cafe Zoetrope, on Columbus Avenue leading into the Italian town.)

20140704-171624-62184320.jpg
(The City’s landmark, the Transamerica Building.)

20140704-171819-62299380.jpg
(The Bloomingdale Mall in the Union Square, the shopping district.)

20140704-175111-64271188.jpg
(3 high rises in the Financial district – triangular, cone, round-shaped all standing next to each other.)

20140704-175219-64339019.jpg
(A clubhouse for a China village clan in Chinatown.)

20140712-152649-55609383.jpg(Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill, shaped like a fire hose.)

 

Goodness from the Kitchen

purple lily

There are often recommendations that you should apply natural ingredients on the face and body, use no chemicals in house-cleaning, and eat non-processed and organic food rather than using their highly processed and chemical counterparts.  But, where do you get these organic and natural ingredients – aren’t they very expensive and difficult to find?

I draw some great ideas from two books I have recently read: The Organically Clean Home by Becky Rapinchuk and The Recipe for Radiance by Alexis Wolfer.

Look no further.  The ingredients may already be in your kitchen and refrigerator.  Here are a few DIY examples:

  • Want to do something about your fine lines round the eyes?  Try the Plump ‘Em Up Eye Mask, said Alexis.

         1/4 banana, ripe

1/4 cucumber, peeled

1 tablespoon raw honey

Puree in blender and let sit for 30 minutes; then apply a thin layer under your eyes for 15 minutes and rinse with warm water.

(If you have dark circles and puffy eyes, turn to your raw egg-shells.  Wipe your finger along the inside of the egg-shell and apply a thin layer under your eyes for about 15 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.  Egg white is excellent in tightening up your skin and fine lines.)

  • Want to wash the pesticides and germs off your produce?  Try Becky’s Fruit and Veggie Wash.

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup water

Mix ingredients in a spray bottle; spray on the produce and rinse with cold water.  The wash can be stored up to 1 month in the fridge.

  • How about an unknown spot in your carpet?  Try this natural carpet spot remover from Becky.

Enough distilled white vinegar to cover stain

Baking soda

Cover the stain with the white vinegar and sprinkle baking soda on top of the vinegar – you will see the stain bubble up from the carpet. You can let the mixture sit on the carpet until dry and then vacuum up the residue.

  • Want to restore your stainless steel to bling?  Just put some vinegar on a spray bottle, spray a little on your stainless steel, and wipe off the vinegar with a paper towel or a soft microfibre cloth in the direction of the grain (vertical or horizontal line on your appliance).  Then apply a little  olive oil on to your soft cloth and then wipe the cloth in the direction of the grain again. Viola! (See the Kitchn for more “How to” posts.)
  • Want to keep your hands smooth and nice?  Rub some virgin, organic, cold-pressed coconut oil all over your hands and fingers.  Just love this one, especially before I go to bed!

My Favourite Maya Angelou Quotes

It is rare for an individual (who is not a statesman, a country’s president, a religious leader) to receive such out-pour of gratitude, respect, and admiration from all walks of life – young girls, politicians, business people, sportsmen, media, poets, writers, actors/actresses, academia, etc.  She was Maya Angelou, a poet, writer, night-club dancer, singer, honorable doctors, and a true inspiration for many; she died on May 28, 2014.  Maya was invited to write a poem in honour of the 2008 Beijing Olympics – “Amazement Awaits”:

…We are here at the portal of the world we had wished for
At the lintel of the world we most need.
We are here roaring and singing.
We prove that we can not only make peace, we can bring it with us.
With respect for the world and its people,
We can compete passionately without hatred.
With respect for the world and its people,
We can take pride in the achievement of strangers.
With respect for the world and its people,
We can share openly in the success of friends.
Here then is the Amazement
Against the odds of impending war
In the mouth of bloody greed
Human grace and human spirit can still conquer.
Ah … We discover, we ourselves
Are the Amazement which awaits
We are ourselves Amazement.

Do rest in peace.

Here are a celebration of a few of my favourite quotes of hers:

Maya_ForgetMaya_ChangeMaya_gratitudeMaya_CourageMaya_SuccessMaya_LoveMaya_Amazing

Day and Night of Las Vegas

A conference took me to the City of “never sleep”, Las Vegas, last week.

While this is a city that shines at night, it has a certain charm during the day as well. It is not just a “sin city” but also a city that is energetic and is truly suitable for tourists – shopping, eating, drinking, gambling, sports betting, partying, strolling, clubbing, conferencing, relaxing, going to spa, attending grand shows and musicals, touring the Grand Canyon, and even getting married. Even for Americans, it has always been their fantastic, fun and leisure spot.  Every year, more than 90,000 people get married in Vegas.

20140523-231258.jpg

20140523-231345.jpg

20140523-231410.jpg

20140523-231553.jpg

20140523-231620.jpg

20140523-231654.jpg

20140523-231714.jpg

20140523-231734.jpg

20140523-231800.jpg

20140523-231823.jpg

20140523-231851.jpg

20140523-231904.jpg

Want to Know More about the Science of Happiness

I have been on the emailing list of the UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Centre, which combines science and practice to explore the science of a happy and meaningful life –  the roots of happy and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruistic behavior.

Even better, they are offering a free online course in September to learn about the roots of happiness.  Research suggests that up to 40 percent of happiness depends on our habits and activities, and so happiness is not purely due to genetics. Each week, students in this course will learn a new research-tested practice that fosters social and emotional well-being—and the course will help them track their progress along the way.  What an enlightening course!

If you are interested, you can find more information here.  I am all for it.  Radiate happiness!

Radiance

Just Do It

Recently I have been loving these series of exercises relating to high-intensity training in intervals.  They do make me sweat and feel good afterwards.

This 7-minute workout came from the May-June 2013 issue of the American College of Sports Medicines Health and Fitness Journal.  These 12 exercises of 30 seconds each and 10 seconds of rest in between have similar impact as a long run combined with weight-training, but all in 7 minutes. Whether this exercise is intense enough depends on how hard you push yourself, and the exercises are for anyone, especially those who are worried that they sit too much and have too little time for regular long workouts.  You don’t even need to get out of the house.

From reading user experiences, these types of workouts are best done 2-4 times a week, or in 2 rounds with a brief resting interval in between, and in combination of longer workouts.  But with any exercise, just by doing it already results in beneficial molecular changes in your body.

You can watch a video here or download apps here and here.  No more excuses, right?  Let’s do it!

Courtesy of New York Time blog

Courtesy of New York Times blog