So quickly Lemon learned she would never get the lead …
Her role was always supporting with a zest or a squeeze.
She had accepted her career as : “the faintest essence” or “the tasteful garnish.”
In the business of breakfast, lunch and dinner she was always the slice of bitter on the dish.
But then she learned she could be a star
in changing courses to desserts.
As “The Lemon Bar” or “The Lemon Cake”
she found her purpose in life was to celebrate!
I have always had a super soft spot in my heart for lemon. It is, without a doubt, my favorite dessert flavor! 🍋
Although I find excuses to have lemon desserts all year long, with summer now just around the corner, it is the perfect time to bake lemon bars!
This lemon bar recipe is one that I have adapted from my neighbor, Melanie’s, family cookbook. She truly makes the best lemon bars I have eaten in my life, so I didn’t change very much from her original recipe. I even got the beautiful lemons to make these bars from the Meyer Lemon Tree in her backyard.
Time: 55 min. Yield: 12 bars
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 tsp kosher salt 1 stick softened butter at room temperature
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all crust ingredients into mixing bowl
Beat on low speed, scraping sides of bowl, until mixture is crumbly (about 2-3 minutes).
Press mixture onto the bottom of a 8X8 ungreased pan.
Bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.
3/4 cup granulated sugar 2 eggs room temperature 2 tbs all purpose flour 1/4 tsp baking powder 6 tbs fresh lemon juice (about two lemons) 1 tsp lemon zest
Combine filling ingredients into mixing bowl
Beat on low speed, scraping down sides, until mixed well (1-2 minutes).
Pour over hot crust.
Continue baking for 18-20 minutes, or until filling is set.
Let cool completely.
Sprinkle top with sifted powdered sugar.
Every morning I climb the steepest hill
with the remains of my orchid’s fallen blooms
and those hibiscus that softened with rot in my hair.
Their lives having amounted to only the brevity of my joy.
And I wonder if they did or did not have souls
as I lay them under the lemon tree.
And if they did, but especially if not,
I pray that now, they may be free.
I feel you in the song of summer :
the buzz of honeybees and hummingbirds fill my chest
in a resonance that lingers long after the guitar strums
and the bashful plucks at blades of grass
under a tree of butterflies and bittersweet fruit
your eyes shine like nectar in the blooms of shade …
when I think of your kiss : like sunshine and lemonade.
The moon pulls at the hem of her blue dress and her hands slip away from mine.
She leaves what she can no longer carry on the sand :
The starving sea turtle who ate too many plastic jellyfish.
The poisoned octopus offers me just one of his three landfilled hearts
with his dying wish:
“If you won’t take it who will?”
World Oceans Day became internationally recognized by the UN in 2008 and has been growing in popularity and participation every year since. The day was created to recognize the implementation of worldwide Sustainable Development Goals and to encourage public interest in caring for our oceans.
Living near an ocean is new to me, having lived most of my life in landlocked states like Idaho and Colorado. Before, my awareness of the detrimental effects of plastic pollution on our environment had always been in the back of my mind, but not something I took daily responsibility for. Now, having the privilege to visit the ocean regularly, this awareness has quickly moved to the front of my mind, as I’m reminded of the immediate and lasting impacts our waste has.
As we all know, this impact is especially true for our single-use plastics (water bottles, plastic straws, styrofoam take-out boxes, etc.) that are only useful to us for an average of 12 minutes, while it takes an estimated 400 years for these plastics to decompose. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a garbage truck worth of these plastics are dumped into the ocean every minute, that is 5-13 million metric tons a year! They estimate that by 2050 the weight of plastics in the ocean will exceed the weight of fish in the ocean!
The particles from these plastics are unfortunately consumed by marine life, as they mistake the foreign objects for food. Sea turtles often mistake plastic bags as jellyfish and end up starving, never knowing they didn’t actually eat a jellyfish. Not to mention the toxins from these plastics are linked to a plethora of health problems for marine life and for us humans, who consume the fish.
This is a very daunting and troubling issue that is not going to be solved by just a few. To make a change we all need to do what we can, starting with just one simple thing in our lives. That could be bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, using a reusable water bottle, or refusing plastic straws at restaurants. The World Oceans Day website, as well as many others like Plastic Oceans have plenty of great resources and ideas on how we can do our part!
There is one thing they don’t tell you about singing lessons.
And the one thing is that it’s more than just singing lessons…
It’s soul work.
It’s digging deep into your roots to explore your depths and expose your truths.
And every lesson is a different story …
One day it could be that hands are shaking, heart pounding, desperately aching kind of love story between you and music
and the next day reads as a serene fantasy:
a garden blissfully blooming — breathing as one with the spirit of music.
But never is it ending.
You have to keep working.
Keep showing up.
Tending the garden that is wild and most days messy,
but always promising.
Always yielding discovery, beauty, music, love.
Singing is an incredibly vulnerable activity, requiring the full commitment of your mind, body and soul. The ultimate goal is to find harmony within these (at least for long enough to get through the song you’re singing). You have to cultivate a compassionate space within yourself. Some days it is much harder to get to this space because of all the other stuff you may be experiencing in your life that is cluttering your mind, creating unnecessary tension in your body, and causing negative self-talk that is crushing your soul.
I have been a student of singing for eighteen years and have studied with over a dozen different voice teachers, each with their own skill sets and methods of teaching. As a student I find some lessons to be much more of a struggle than others, and it usually comes down to my mindset and where I am emotionally going into the lesson. In college many of my voice lessons became therapy sessions, as I was regularly in turmoil over my future or feeling completely overwhelmed with schoolwork, social obligations and upcoming performances. Will I be good enough to sing my role in the opera? Will I be good enough to even make it through this day? It was an inner battle I was forced to fight with my anxiety rising in my throat, trying to relax my uptight shoulders and clenched jaw; attempting to also put aside the flash cards in my head for my biology test tomorrow, the seating chart for the wedding I was planning, and the other ten new pieces of music I was learning for the choir tour next week. All these stressors were coming out in my voice while trying to focus on the task at hand: my breath, my technique, my diction, my delivery of the Bellini piece I was currently singing. Many lessons ended in much-needed tears, as it had forced me to really confront all that I was dealing with, realize I could not carry all that weight and I needed to just surrender to the love of music.
I have been a teacher of singing for four years and have found the job to be incredibly rewarding because I get to essentially help guide my students to this more compassionate space for themselves. It is a challenging process because every student is different, some with many more layers to get through than others. My goal is to create a welcoming and loving environment where students can learn to make big mistakes and sing silly voice warm-ups freely, learning to accept themselves at their very raw core. Some beginning adult students will not make it through many lessons because the peeling back of these layers they have built up through the years can be unbearably uncomfortable, stirring up too much, and that is completely fine. Those students might get more enjoyment out of learning a different skill that is less immediately demanding on the vulnerability of the soul, such as singing in a choir. For others, the love of music or their sheer determination to thrive as a solo singer will conquer self doubt and they will learn to enjoy the turbulence and nakedness of using their voice in new ways in front of others.
If you are interested and want more information about voice lessons, take a look at my lesson page or feel free to contact me! I just started teaching online lessons via Skype and Zoom. I will be accepting new students starting July 1st. 😊
Then rolled and shaped with care in my palms, I coat them in butter and dip them in sugar.
Arranging my verses on lined cookie sheets
I kiss them with chocolate and bake them to eat!
1. Devour the days when kisses give you toothaches and love’s the sweetest bake.
2. When following dreams aprons may get dirty, but results turn out sweet!
I love baking for my friends, family and music students! I wanted to incorporate a bit of this creative passion of mine into my blog.
The first recipe I will share with you has become my go-to for the classic chocolate chip cookie! After trying dozens of recipes, I truly believe this one to be the best (based how I prefer my cookies to be, of course.) Everyone has their favorite cookie texture and way to enjoy them. If you like your chocolate chip cookies to be super soft, fluffy and a little fudgy, you are going to LOVE these!
What makes these cookies so special is the use of cornstarch as a thickening agent. I originally learned about this addition from one of my favorite blogs, Sally’s Baking Addiction. It truly does make them extra thick and soft.
Chill your dough!
Chilling the prepared dough for at least an hour will create the thickest and most fluffy texture. You don’t want to skip this step.
Room temperature ingredients …
Eggs and butter mix more evenly at room temperature and give you the best textural results. It will take some thinking ahead. I try to leave my eggs and butter out of the fridge for a couple hours before starting to prepare the dough. If you don’t have that time, you can also place the egg in a bowl of room temperature water and and warm up the butter in small increments of time in the microwave (I’m talking 8 seconds at a time max. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally melted the butter and had to start over with a new stick. Yes, I’m that serious about the outcome of these cookies ha!)
Salt your sweets!
1 tsp may seem like a lot of salt for a dessert, but believe me when I say the salt takes these cookies to a new level and amplifies the flavors. Of course, feel free to do less than this. I have tried it with 1/2 – 1 tsp and just prefer the more pronounced sweet & salty flavor.
Choose and vary your sugars wisely.
Brown sugar increases softness while white sugar helps cookies spread while baking. If you want thicker, doughier, chewier cookies, go for brown sugar. If you want more biscuit-like cookies, go for white sugar. This recipe uses a bit of both.
¾ c. Room temperature butter (aprox. 65 degrees Fahrenheit) ¾ c. Dark brown sugar, packed ¼ c. Granulated sugar 1 lg. Egg, room temperature 2 tsp Pure vanilla extract 2 c. All-purpose flour 2 tsp Cornstarch 1 tsp Baking soda 1 tsp Kosher Salt (if you don’t have kosher salt substitute with 1/4 tsp table salt) 1 ¼ c. Chocolate chips
Mix butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy. At least 2 minutes with mixer. Then, beat in egg and vanilla until combined.
In separate bowl, whisk to combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.
Slowly combine dry mix into wet ingredients, while stirring, until dough forms. Add chocolate chips last.
REFRIGERATE AT LEAST 1 HOUR. Covered in bowl.
Remove dough from fridge. Allow to thaw on counter for 10 min. Before forming cookies.
Preheat oven to 350 F. (I recommend lining a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone liner for most even bake.)
Roll dough into balls (about 1.5 tbs at a time).
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until color on top/sides just starts to change.
Optional: add extra chocolate chips on top of cookies right out of the oven. Just press them in.
Another cookie poem …
Sugar, butter mixed & whipped
sift the flour eggs are whisked
baking powder chill the dough
It only takes a taste to know
if it’s good
there’s no resisting
chewy, gooey, cakey or crispy
When ovens ding those angels sing
and I have to try a fresh baked cookie!
I swear this is my last corny cookie poem (for now) ...
When I was little it seemed so silly that story, I mean, about the mouse and the cookie.
But now I see there are certain cookies that will always leave you wishing for more more more!
My words can often fail me in my quest to find the “right” ones. I’ll easily let you take my tongue while I become a smiling skeleton. And the time to speak will quickly pass me before I can decide to stay as quiet as expected or say what is shouting inside.
I may not fully understand, but I do know that we are created equal, everyone deserves love and kindness, and no one should feel unsafe or unvalued. Racism and injustice should not be stood for. Black Lives Matter.
The Hawaiian language has over 200 different names for rain. The breadth of these names describe the form and qualities of each type, as well as the specific times and regions of the islands these rains can be found. The Hawaiian culture recognizes rain not only as an integral part of survival, but also as a friend and spiritual guide. To talk about the rain is much more than small-talk in Hawaii, it is a conversation and language in itself. The physical intricacies of rain color parts of your day and life differently and help to understand the depths of others. Hawaiian ancestors trusted the different rains to determine when to plant specific crops, fish, harvest, and so much more. Most of us have lost so much of our connection to the land. I can only hope to notice and welcome more of these sacred, rainy visitors.
1. My love is the rain Soaking through the sheet of night Time folds into sky
2.Gardens refresh us Flowers are forms of water Our souls drink the rain
The rain dripped down the faces of leaves then tapped unbreaking a dance in the streets.
We laughed in gleams shone brighter in night to finally feel climate that sung us alive.
In Hawaiian poetry mentions of rain or rains may signify joy, life, growth, greenery, love, good fortune (light rains, mist), grief, sorrow, and tears (heavy rains), the presence of gods or royalty, sex, beauty or hardship.
Some of my favorite Hawaiian rain types:
kili, much beloved rain
ko’iawe, light moving rain
ua nāulu, showery rain
ua lani pili, rain downpour
ua ho’okina, continuous rain
ua hikiki’i, slanting rain
ililani, unexpected rain
uakoko, rainbow-hued rain
Lēhei, leaping rain of upcountry Maui
kuāua hope, spring rain
ka ua ‘awa, grieving rain
ʻeleua, dark rain
kuāua, hopeful rain
ehu, fine spray rain
Lani-paʻina, crackling heavens rain
ʻUla-lena, invigorating, yellow & red rain of Maui
Mololani, well-kept rain of the Lehua flower & Ohia tree
W.S. Merwin, was a beloved poet and conservationist who lived in near-solitude in Haiku on Maui from 1970 until his death in 2019. His work was highly influenced by his passion for restoration of depleted flora and his connection to the elements on the island. I am looking forward to visiting his plantation soon where he restored hundreds of species of palms.
Merwin wrote several beautiful rain poems. Here is one of my favorites of his:
I wake in the dark and remember it is the morning when I must start by myself on the journey I lie listening to the black hour before dawn and you are still asleep beside me while around us the trees full of night lean hushed in their dream that bears us up asleep and awake then I hear drops falling one by one into the sightless leaves and I do not know when they began but all at once there is no sound but rain and the stream below us roaring away into the rushing darkness