Reflections from summer

Here is the collage of scenes in watercolor I had mentioned in my post ‘Feeling Nostalgic‘. It’s a collection of pictures I painted from photos I’d taken during summer at San Antonio, Orlando and Miami.

When we visit places, we really soak in the experience – the colors, scents and sounds but as soon as we’re back home, we get entangled in the mesh of a thing called ‘life’. It is then, when we browse through the pictures and videos, we try to relive those moments. But it’s only while painting some of those memories do they come most alive. The process is so meditative…. it is much much more than just looking at a picture; it feels as if I am transported back into that precise moment! And so it was when I created this collage – the pink flamingos at the Sea World, gigantic cypress trees lining the River Walk, the castle from the Magic kingdom, and the warm emerald waters – everything came back to life once again!

Nutritious Barley Salad

So as promised in my last post, I am sharing the recipe for Barley Salad. A couple of months ago I came across a few health benefits of drinking barley water. So I went ahead and bought the smallest bag of barley I could find (what if I didn’t like it!). Unfortunately I forgot all about it as it sat in the back of the kitchen cabinet. Then very recently just as my daughter announced that she was turning vegan, (I am in the process of turning vegetarian) I started creating some space in the kitchen for new ‘vegan’ food options and it was during this period I rediscovered the little bag of ‘barley’.

I decided to try the barley water but then wondered about how to use the left over barley. Adding it to a salad seemed like a good idea.

So here is the recipe. Add a half cup of pearl barley (after thoroughly washing and rinsing) to about 3 cups of boiling water. Let it cook on medium high for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to medium low for 15 min (until the barley grains are soft al dente not mushy). Next strain the water (to drink later) and reserve the cooked barley for the salad.

Now for the salad

Ingredients

1/4 cup of cooked barley

1-2 tsp cooking oil

1 tbsp raw peanuts

1 stalk of green onion, chopped

1/2 cup of finely shredded green cabbage

1/2 cup of finely shredded purple cabbage

1/4 cup of chopped carrot

1/4 cup of finely cut green beans

1/2 tbsp of finely chopped ginger

1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder (optional)

Salt to taste

1/4 lime wedge

Method

Heat the oil in a saucepan on medium and add the peanuts. Let them turn brown, remove them in a small bowl and then add the green onions, green beans and carrots to the saucepan. Stir the mixture and after 2-3 minutes add the rest of the vegetables along with salt, ginger and cumin powder. Keep stirring the pan and after 3-4 minutes as the vegetables turn softer (not mushy), turn off the heat. Squeeze the lime, add the barley and stir everything evenly. Garnish with the peanuts!

Voila! your salad is good to go! Enjoy it while it’s still warm.

Some interesting pointers on Barley

People with gluten sensitivity should avoid this grain as it has gluten and can cause nausea or cramping.

However it’s a good source of fiber and so helps maintain good digestion and a healthy body weight. Beta glucans in the barley reduce cholesterol and high blood sugar. Also this grain is great for folks with kapha dosha!

This is all for now. If you have any other ideas of using barley, please share here. I will love to read!

Feeling nostalgic?

Come Monday morning and I was overcome by a wave of nostalgia and it got bigger by the hour. Living far from your folks across the globe, does that to you and it’s always a single thought that provokes a cycle of old memories. I googled about how to deal with ‘nostalgia’ (haha) and ended up even more overwhelmed than before as my eyes ran through some ridiculous and boring suggestions! The grey overcast and drizzle outside was not exactly helping me either. My dog was not in the mood for a conversation! There was leftover food from the day before so there was no cooking needed. And I didn’t know what to paint!

So I (reluctantly) stayed with my thoughts that were playing on a never ending loop – old memories, childhood, friendships, choices and on and on….but you can only take so much! Taking a cue from my kids who had played a you tube video on diwali lights the night before (I had loved it), I picked a video on nature – it was long and had some relaxing music to go along – and I let this video play for a couple of hours while I went around my business. Every time I was plagued by a thought, my eyes traveled to the screen, and I instantly felt better.

And so Monday went by (thankfully) and by Tuesday I was back in the mood for some painting. I started on a collage of scenes in watercolor from pictures I’d taken this summer. When I’m done, I’ll post them here for sure. I was still nostalgic but the colors kept me focused on the work.

But the universe was listening to me I guess…..

This morning I picked up Happiness is the Way by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer – these words stood out – “I can control my thoughts. My feelings come from my thoughts. Therefore, I can control my feelings”. As I continued to read, everything began to make sense. I realize now that every emotion stems from a thought and this is why it’s so important to pay attention to our thoughts because they will soon be accompanied by feelings! If I want to feel positive, I should magnify and encourage the positive thoughts and if I have a negative thought (sad, worrisome or angry) coming up, I should immediately discourage it – you know nip it in the bud!

Thinking about a happy past or missing a loved one is totally normal and it’s ok to do that as long as one doesn’t get trapped in the never ending loop of emotions. I have now learned that sending love and gratitude to the person or the memory and then moving on to the task at hand is more useful than wallowing in my thoughts. One might wonder “why not just distract yourself with a book or a movie or your phone”? Well this can work too but sometimes we are too confused to even distract ourselves.

Today is again a very cold and wet day. But I turned on the fairy lights inside and decided to share my thoughts (positive ones) with all of you.

Hope you find this post useful. Have a great day!

It’s a beautiful day

Is it? Sure enough there’s sun shining down brightly and an absolutely cloudless blue sky, but every day is beautiful in some way or other. So why today?

I was wondering about all this as I sat by the large window, relishing sips of ginger and black pepper tea and bites of something I had prepared for the first time – a barley salad (I will share the recipes in a future post).

My point is, I think I found this day extraordinary only because I was looking at it from a different perspective. First I picked a spot that I don’t usually, maybe because it’s further away and requires climbing steps (lazy me). And secondly I picked something healthy and wholesome to munch on. I was enjoying the view so much that I found myself relishing every bite of my breakfast as well as feeling inspired enough to pen this post!

This makes me think how many times I might have overlooked the specialness of a day just because I was in a rush or going about my day working the same old boring way!

Well now I am ready to take on the day, chores and all! A little bit of novelty brings a breath of fresh air to the day.🌿