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the artful table – cooking for one

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Do you ever dine alone? Is a solo dinner your idea of bliss, or a lonely prospect? When you eat alone, do you treat your meal preparation and enjoyment with the same care you give to shared meals? What dishes work well for solo dining?

These are questions I’ve been pondering lately. Pretty much every day for the last twenty-plus years, I’ve been preparing at least one, often two or three meals for two or more people. We don’t have take out on the island, and I don’t do packaged convenience foods. Healthy home cooked meals from scratch are a big part of the love I give and the commitment I have made to my family. A significant portion of my time and creative energy each week goes into meal planning and preparation. I love this part of my life.

And also, sometimes, I yearn to just work through the dinner hour. Early evening is an energetic and creative time for me, and if left to my own devices, I would very likely use this time for creative pursuits other than cooking. I think I would see my studio practice and my writing practice bloom and prosper even more, if mealtimes in my home were simpler.

And here’s the thing – I am about to be left to my own devices, at least for a portion of the time. Don’t worry, it’s all positive change! My sweetie’s career is going well, and new adventures in his work will be taking him away from home for weeks at a time this year. With my daughter in Los Angeles, it will be just me and the pugs for many upcoming nights.

Now, I adore my husband, I really do. I feel truly blessed to be able to say, after 21 years, that I adore him and love spending time with him. I’ll miss him during his work time away. And also, I really relish my solitude. My creativity thrives in solitude. I love being able to follow my own energy through the day, and work and create in a rhythm that suits me and only me. This is a luxury we rarely get, so I must say I am looking forward to it.

Its been over twenty years since I lived alone, but I still remember the joyful rhythm of painting late into the evening then having a simple late supper with a single glass of wine and a good book. So I’ve been dreaming up simple solo meals, things I can get on the table in a few minutes, light and healthy and nourishing things that won’t weigh me down after a long evening of painting, or a quiet yoga practice. Pretty meals that will make me feel special, but not be a fuss to put together. Things like:

A spinach omelette with free range eggs from next door. Smashed chick peas and a glass of Tuscan wine. A roasted yam with caramelized onions and sauteed swiss chard. Gluten free avocado toasts. Red lentil coconut soup. A nicely seared organic grass-fed sirloin with an arugula salad. Seared tuna loin and edamame. A little lamb chop with steamed asparagus.

The ritual of eating is just as important as the dish served, don’t you think? And eating alone can bring out our bad habits, like standing over the stove with a fork, or watching the news with a plate in your lap. Which is fine, sometimes. But it’s also really fine sometimes to celebrate the ritual of the meal all by yourself. Set a lovely place. Light a candle. Place flowers on the table. Play soothing music. Eat mindfully. What a simple and wonderful way to practice self-care and self appreciation!

What are your favorite solo meals? Do you have any rituals that make eating alone feel special? I’d love to hear.

Big love,

About Bronwyn: Bronwyn Simons’ vision is of a world where we are all able to live daily lives of deep connection, purpose, and joy. She’s an artist, writer, teacher, and retreat leader whose work has touched and transformed hundreds of women’s lives for the better. Her next big adventure is the Artful Living in Mexico retreat at gorgeous Hacienda Mosaico in March 2014. The Artful Life Blog provides a daily touchstone for women seeking to live more soul-satisfying lives.

 

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have you set your goals for february?

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I know it’s a little late in the month to get rolling on this… the last couple of weeks have been full of change around here and I’m just getting around to picking up the threads I dropped in late January. Do you ever find it difficult to keep your goals on track when life throws you surprises? I’d be really interested in hearing your strategies. I think it’s just another good reason to leave a lot of spaciousness in your planning – always leave yourself a grace period. Isn’t that a lovely phrase? Just a little bit of extra time so you can move towards your goal gracefully.

Well, I needed a grace period before launching into my February goals. In late January, our sweet pug Chloe passed away, leaving a big hole in our lives and hearts and leaving our house a little bit too empty and joyless. I cried for days. Then I picked up the laptop and started looking around for any sweet pugs who might need rescuing. I asked Chloe’s little spirit to help me find the right pug to rescue, in her honour. I didn’t want to rush into anything, but I did want to begin the process, because it can take a long time.

Or not. As it turned out, there was a bonded pair of lovely fawn pugs who needed a home right away. The next morning we were on the ferry to Vancouver to go pick them up. Bella is a gorgeous lively seven year old girl, and her partner Kramer is older and disabled with lots of health issues and a ridiculously adorable lion-face. So they moved in, and we all have been getting used to each other over the last two weeks.

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Bella resting on my February Goals Collage

There is another change afoot in our household. My sweetie has made some career advancements of late, and his new work will be taking him away from home for big chunks of time for at least the next year or so. It’s a great move for him, and it will mean real improvements and changes to our lifestyle, one big change being that I’ll be keeping the home fires burning on my own for long periods of time. To be honest, I’m excited at the prospect of building my daily life around my own creative flow and my own desired schedule! But preparing for this transition has kept us pretty busy for the last few weeks.

So you can see why I’m only just getting around to assessing my January goals, and setting goals for the remainder of the month. For the most part, it looks like February will be about getting used to being on my own, and continuing to help the dogs settle in. I took some time today for my goal-setting ritual, sipping a cup of tea, creating a vision board (above) of what I want the month to feel like, and going over my master list of goals for the year to see what I can do this month to work towards them.

What are your intentions for this month? Six weeks in, how are you doing on your 2014 intentions? Is it time to take them out and go over them, and see what action steps you can take towards them in February? What is your theme for the month? I’d love to know.

Big love,

About Bronwyn: Bronwyn Simons’ vision is of a world where we are all able to live daily lives of deep connection, purpose, and joy. She’s an artist, writer, teacher, and retreat leader whose work has touched and transformed hundreds of women’s lives for the better. Her next big adventure is the Artful Living in Mexico retreat at gorgeous Hacienda Mosaico in March 2014. The Artful Life Blog provides a daily touchstone for women seeking to live more soul-satisfying lives.

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artful friday – art retreat in paradise

So… who wants to go with me to Mexico to make art, dance, meditate, and indulge in some deep self care, in a gorgeous, private, feminine, artful Hacienda with amazing tropical gardens, pool, gorgeous rooms and on-site private chef for poolside dining? Because there is still space left in my March retreat at Hacienda Mosaico. Please feel free to message or email me if you have any questions about this gorgeous opportunity!!! Here is a slideshow with some scenes from the Hacienda:

I first visited Hacienda Mosaico in 2006, to attend a mixed media retreat with my bff. I had facilitated plenty of women’s retreats by then, but had never actually attended one myself! At the time, this was a bold act of self-care for me. I knew I would have fun, but I had no idea what a delightful, healing, inspiring and deeply nourishing experience I would have.

You know how some people are just gifted at creating an environment? Sam Leonard, our hostess at the Hacienda, has a profound gift for creating a space of beauty, nurturing safety, creativity, and delight. The Hacienda is her creation, and her magic infuses everything from the brightly coloured walls to the custom-made art furniture to the tropical flowers to the fresh limes in our 5 pm margaritas.

As soon as you walk through the gates from the dusty street, you are embraced by colour and a sense of creative ease, and usually also by Sam herself! The softly bubbling fountains, the scent of blossoms in the air, the sense of artistic excitement – this place is a dream.

I’ve attended retreats at the Hacienda Mosaico, but this year is my first year of offering my own retreat there, and I am thrilled. We’ll have five full days of meditaton, movement, mixed media, and deep soul care. You can read more here, or contact me with questions. There is still some space left!

Hope to see you in the garden!

Lots of Love,

About Bronwyn: Bronwyn Simons’ vision is of a world where we are all able to live daily lives of deep connection, purpose, and joy. She’s an artist, writer, teacher, and retreat leader whose work has touched and transformed hundreds of women’s lives for the better. Her next big adventure is the Artful Living in Mexico retreat at gorgeous Hacienda Mosaico in March 2014. The Artful Life Blog provides a daily touchstone for women seeking to live more soul-satisfying lives.

 

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Lighting the Sacred Fire – Imbolc, Candlemas, St. Brigid’s Day

imbolc candlemas

Most of us know today as Groundhog Day, which seems like a pretty frivolous holiday. But Groundhog Day has its roots in ancient, subtle, and profound traditions that mark this day of the year (the day exactly between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox) as the moment of the arrival of the spark of life that will lead to Spring. The kindling of flames, the lighting of candles, augury by animals and weather, rituals of purification, the first sprouting of seeds – all over the Northern Hemisphere, for millennia, people have celebrated with these rituals on this day.

In the pagan traditions of the British Isles, today was Imbolc, and later St. Brigid’s Day. Brigid was the Celtic Goddess of fire/inspiration, smithcraft, and poetry. In Santeria, today is the day to make offerings to the goddess Yemaya, the feminine principle of creation. For Catholics, Candlemas is the feast of Mary’s purification. For some First Nations of the American Southwest, today is the day of the first sprouting of the seeds for spring planting.

When we are in touch with the natural cycles of the Earth, we may intuitively feel the subtle stirrings and inner spark of this time. If you are so inclined, you might want to do your own ritual of purification, inspiration, and renewal today. I love simple and practical rituals – something like cleaning your house, taking a bath in sea salt and purifying oils, then lighting a white candle, or a fire in your fireplace,  and spending some time with a friend or your journal. You might want to reflect on what nascent inspirations are stirring in your own life, what tiny seedlings are beginning to unfurl in your soul, and what you can do to nurture them the Spring.

Lots of Love,

About Bronwyn: Bronwyn Simons’ vision is of a world where we are all able to live daily lives of deep connection, purpose, and joy. She’s an artist, writer, teacher, and retreat leader whose work has touched and transformed hundreds of women’s lives for the better. Her next big adventure is the Artful Living in Mexico retreat at gorgeous Hacienda Mosaico in March 2014. The Artful Life Blog provides a daily touchstone for women seeking to live more soul-satisfying lives.

 

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create a vintage book art journal for 2014 – tutorial part two!

Last time on Artful Friday I showed you how to prep the pages of a vintage book for journaling. Today I’m sharing a fun, simple painting technique that I used in the first pages of my new journal. With this technique, you create decorative letters and shapes on a white background by first creating a full colour spread, then filling in the background with white. Enjoy!

*1-apply-main-colour *2-apply-second-colour *3-apply-drips *4-apply-pencil *5-apply-background *6-voila

If you haven’t prepped your pages yet, go back to the first tutorial and see how to do this.

Next, have some fun playing with colour! To avoid being overwhelmed, I suggest choosing three colours plus white, as I did in this spread. Get variety by mixing your colours with white. Create a layer of your main colour, let dry, then play around with your second colour, let dry, and finally add some small areas of a third, vivid or surprising colour. My palette here is Cobalt Turquoise, Indian Yellow, and a flourescent dark pink. All the variations come from mixing the colours with white. Adding white also makes your colours more opaque.

When all three colour layers dry, you might want to play with adding some drips of ink. Choose black, or a very dark version of your main colour, as I did. Drip some ink on the page then let it roll around. Fun!

Once the ink is dry, you can start drawing in your words or shapes. I did mine freehand with a white watercolour pencil. Use white, or the outlines will show in your final product.

Now you can start carefully painting in your background with a good quality white paint. A cheap paint will frustrate you, because the pigment won’t be as concentrated, and you will have to use many more coats to get good coverage! Take your time and enjoy the meditative quality of this part of the project. It takes some patience to get the lines crisp and the corners and points clean and clear, but it is worth taking your time. Using a small good quality angled brush will help a lot! You may need to apply two to three coats, and this will add pleasing texture to the final piece.

Enjoy! If you feel like sharing your results, you are welcome to post them to the Artful Life Facebook page!

Oh, and if you are soooo sick of winter right now, then come play and make art with me in Mexico in March!!!! Artful Living in Mexico retreat at gorgeous Hacienda Mosaico in March 2014.

Have a creative weekend,

Lots of Love,

About Bronwyn: Bronwyn Simons’ vision is of a world where we are all able to live daily lives of deep connection, purpose, and joy. She’s an artist, writer, teacher, and retreat leader whose work has touched and transformed hundreds of women’s lives for the better. Her next big adventure is the Artful Living in Mexico retreat at gorgeous Hacienda Mosaico in March 2014. The Artful Life Blog provides a daily touchstone for women seeking to live more soul-satisfying lives.

 

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