Book Club and Puppy Love

(Painting of my dog Emmett by my 12-year old nephew Matthew Lee)

This afternoon I hosted book club at my house (we’re on year eight!) and we enjoyed a lovely lunch in my backyard. I always enjoy catching up with my friends and indulging in yummy food. My pick this round was The Art of Racing in the Rain. This endearing tale is narrated by a dog named Enzo and I found the book to be surprisingly spiritual. I chose it because I couldn’t resist the cute little video of Enzo the dog on the Amazon page. I’m a total sucker for dog stories. I remember crying in my sixth grade classroom as our teacher read us Where the Red Fern Grows.

For my birthday earlier this month, my brother got me the movie Hachi. He had seen it on a plane and had a feeling I’d enjoy it as much as he did (and he’s not even really a dog person). The story is so touching that I went through a whole lotta tissue watching this one and even woke up with puffy eyes!

And the other day I watched this episode of Underdog to Wonderdog about an amazing dog named Faith. I got teary within the first few minutes of watching this heartwarming pup.

Like I said, I’m a total sucker for dog stories.

Dogs give such unconditional love and are so present. They teach us how to be better human beings (check out Eckhart Tolle’s Guardians of Being for simple, inspiring reminders from our four-legged friends).

My pup Emmett is getting on in years, which made reading Enzo’s story that much more tender for me. But of course, Emmett has no idea how old he is! In fact, he got himself into trouble tonight by breaking yet another plate that fell from the counter as he tried to lick it. Guess he wanted to enjoy some of the delicious book club leftovers, too!

Book Club (or Should I Say Food Club?)


On Sunday, I enjoyed book club with my dear friends.  We should probably call it food club, though, since the incredible meals tend to overshadow the book discussion.  And with delicious food like this, who could blame us?!

Our book selection this time was the Guersney Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  I enjoyed the book and how it unfolded over correspondence.

Ahh, but enough talk of the book and on to the food… For appetizers, Christina made a fancy version of Scottish eggs (a quail egg rolled in chicken sausage and breadcrumbs and then fried to a yummy crisp).  They were amazing!!


Our main dish was this scrumptiously rich dover sole stuffed with crab and shrimp.


And here’s the ultra-talented chef, Christina!  Thank you, Christina for working your culinary magic.  I love getting to hang out with the book club ladies!  I’m guaranteed good laughs, great food and a grand old time.

AEDM Day 16: The Exploding Box

exploding box

Today’s creation: the “exploding box.”  After seeing my Unfolding Your Life Vision collage books and my collaged dream boxes, a lady launcher made me one of these surprising structures since she knew I would appreciate it.  I love how the box is simple yet complex. And that it unfolds!

I tried to follow a pattern that I found online.  However, I don’t do so well with measurements and instructions, so I ended up just reverse engineering it from the one I already had.

exploding box

I haven’t figured out yet how I want to decorate the inside pages.  I might play with seasons, directions, elements and/or stages of my life.  I’ll save that for another AEDM post!  What fun!

Speaking of fun, I had my friends over for book club this afternoon.  We dined outside in the warm sun and chatted a bit about Jodi Picoult’s page-turner My Sister’s Keeper, but mostly we just gabbed.  I love the excuse to get together and catch up.

P.S. – Some of you have asked for instructions to make an exploding box.  I found another link that looks like it makes more sense than the one I tried to use, so check out these directions.

P.P.S – Here’s a link to my finished Year-in-Review exploding box.

Empanadas of My Soul

Kristen’s book club selection was Isabel Allende’s sweeping historic novel Ines of My Soul.  I was engrossed by this tale of the strong and independent Spanish conquistadora who is said to have helped build Santiago, Chile.  In the story, Ines has a talent for making empanadas.

Since we book club ladies love our themed meals it was a great excuse for Francisca’s famous empanadas (from her mom Ines’ secret recipe).  With rolling pin in hand, Francisca gave us a lesson in how to assemble these savory treats.

We learned how to fold and seal the dough to keep the spicy goodness from seeping out.  We crimped the edges with a fork and coated the pastry with a glistening egg wash.

We dined on a cheese platter and fresh tomato salad with red onions and cilantro as the emapanadas cooked to a golden brown.  I can’t tell you how utterly amazing these empanadas were.  We each took home a few and I am looking forward to eating one tomorrow!

Some of my favorite book clubs have been when we do something interactive together like practicing yoga, teaching each other how to knit or sharing our creative projects.

It’s my turn next!  What suggestions do you have for a great read?  Would love to hear.  Thanks!

Bohemian Book Club


Our book club pick for this round was artist Beatrice Wood’s autobiography, “I Shock Myself.” Francisca dished up a delicious bohemian spread of lentils, quinoa, beets, salad, pita bread, hummus and all sorts of other goodies. Christina picked tangerines from the tree.

As an homage to the creative process, Francisca asked us each to bring pieces we’ve been working on. Christina, Francisca and I shared some knitting, Kristen brought photos and of course Lily brought her latest creation…


… Jacob whom we all met for the first time.


We are on our seventh year of our book club. And even though we hardly talk about the books, we know it’s more about just spending time together laughing, eating, enjoying each other’s company and…


just being silly together (Francisca and I sporting our “Blue Steel” Zoolander poses).

Ahhhh, another perfect book club afternoon!

Friday Night Knitting Club – AEDM Day 16

Just returned home from a late night at book club. Another gathering filled with fun, laughter and good food. Our book this time was The Friday Night Knitting Club so as an homage to the book, we met on Friday night, Christina cooked a meal of delicious vegetable lasagna (per a scene in the book) and we knitted together. Christina and I taught the other three gals how to cast on, knit and purl. I loved getting to share this pastime with my friends and getting them hooked on the relaxing quality of knitting.

Since I don’t have any photos of art to post today, my art is a quick haiku in honor of our dear book club…

The book club ladies
Lemon surprise pudding high
Scarlet letter shirt

We knit 2gether
We eat, pray, love 2gether
We laugh 2gether

[tags]National Blog Posting Month, NaBloPoMo, Art Every Day Month, knitting[/tags]

Eat, Pray, Love…. Repeat

Friends. Food. Fun. What could be better on a gorgeous, warm and sunny San Francisco afternoon? The book club ladies (sans Francisca) gathered at Kristen’s house in the Sunset to revel in Elizabeth Gilbert’s fantastic memoir “Eat, Pray, Love.” While discussing the author’s personal pilgrimage through Italy, India and Indonesia to find her true self, we feasted on antipasti including caprese salad, grilled asparagus and scrumptious figs with blue cheese. We shared how we related to her journey as we devoured to-die-for orecchiette pasta with chicken sausage and red chili flakes smothered in a tangy cream sauce. We pondered how the she might be integrating all her learnings into her day-to-day life post-travels as we gobbled up chocolate, vanilla and hazelnut gelato dripping with gooey chocolate ganache. Obviously, we had no problem taking a cue from the Italy indulgence theme from part one of the book.

Since the book club ladies weren’t able to attend my Freedom Party a couple of weeks ago, they gave me a heartfelt present. It brought tears to my eyes (there’s always some laughing and crying at book club!). Each gal picked out a special stone carved with an inspirational word like “Dream” or “Courage.” The fifth rock simply read “Friends” symbolizing the enduring strength of our friendship. Whenever I’m reading in my hammock in the backyard, these precious pebbles will be there to remind me that these four wonderful women will always be there for support and love.

As we wrapped up the day and I got into my car, the clear view of the ocean beckoned. Instead of heading straight home, I spontaneously drove out to the beach – one of my favorite spots when I used to live in the city. Just like in the book, I felt pulled to have some time just for me. I cast off my flip flops and waded in the cool, salty surf. I just love how the sound of crashing waves is so meditative. Even in this calm, peaceful place I noticed, though, that my mind still wandered. And since instead of berating myself for mind chatter I’m practicing holding myself with compassion, I just went with it. Riding the wave. I recalled how about seven or eight years ago I performed a letting go ritual on this same stretch of sand. I had written down things that were frustrating about my job, my life, etc. and then tossed them into the sea.

In that moment of reflection, I really related to a quote from the book, “I think about the woman I have become lately, about the life that I am now living, and how much I always wanted to be this person and live this life, liberated from the farce of pretending to be anyone other than myself.” My heart swelled with gratitude. This book has opened my eyes even more to my own personal journey and to deepening my own spiritual path. And by following an urge to do something nice just for me on this sunny afternoon, I gave myself the gifts of enjoying the present moment and of honoring who I am now and who I am becoming.

[tags]book club, Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love[/tags]

Book Club: Yoga Mamas

It’s hard to believe that my book club back from my Gap days is still going strong after nearly six years! We five friends always enjoy delicious food, side-splitting laughs (especially around dessert time) and fun conversation (we try to get some discussion about the reading, but mostly just gab)! I’ve really enjoyed watching our lives grow and change – new homes, kids, jobs, etc. – and knowing that I can always count on my “book club ladies” for love and support.

My inner Martha delights in creating themes for my book club meals. For my turn this year I paid homage to my recent yoga teacher training and also when my friends and I used to take the lunch-time yoga class at work. We enjoyed a light, quick summer read called “Yoga Mamas.”

To start off our day together, I led the gals in a brief yet grounding yoga class. Then we feasted outside on a raw food extravaganza. (I slaved away in the kitchen for nearly 8 hours the day before chopping, cutting, and assembling all sorts of veggies and nuts.) After all that work, though, the dishes turned out to be amazing! I made a few from Cafe Gratitude’s recipe book “I am Grateful” including my favorite dessert “I am Devoted,” a heavenly coconut cream pie without any refined sugar, flour or dairy. And a too-die-for “lasagna” from “Living Cuisine” with an incredible macadamia nut ricotta filling and zucchini noodles.

All in all, the book club ladies had a wonderful time soaking up the sun and relishing in the nourishment of friendship and food. Couldn’t have asked for a better day!

[tags]book club, Yoga Mamas, yoga, raw food, living cuisine, Cafe Gratitude[/tags]