Rose Petal Honey, Rose Petal Jam

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This past week-end while visiting my “in-loves” for Thanksgiving, Azra brought in some of the last of her prize roses for the table, and instantly the whole living room filled with their heavenly fragrance.  Honestly I wish each of you reading could smell their divine fragrance, for these are not any fragrant roses, because they smell like sweet rose honeyed candy!

All week-end I Zahra and I buried our noes into the lush roses that graced the tables, and were already feeling sad to leave them before the week-end was even over. Then just as we were sipping tea and enjoying the last that the evening has to offer the suggestion was raised that perhaps I might take one or two, and then I jumped up for joy because I have been wanting for years now to find untreated organic roses with this kind of fragrance to make sweet rose honey and rose petal jam.  And just like that a plan was set in motion, for I was gifted with the best thing–I was allowed to take ALL of the last of the large blooms from the garden home!

I was so excited, that almost as soon as we walked through the door I was pulling out one of my favourite cookbooks and stuffing my nose into the bag of roses to take the last few deep inhale of that sweet ambrosia!

In the end I decided to make infused honey–of course! and some simple rose petal jam, but really it is more like a paste.

The honey was easy, I set a small pot of last years crystallized honey on the lowest setting it would go, so as not to spoil the natural enzymes, and then added two big handfuls of rose petals and mixed them all in. I left the pot for a very short time, maybe 5-6 min’s not even really enough time to get warm, but the crystals broke down and made the honey runny again, and then I quickly poured it into my waiting bottle. This bottle will become sweet medicine elixir, and I will take small spoonfuls of it all winter long. This stuff really helps the deep winter blues let me tell you! I might even share some….

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Next I decided to make a simple rose petal paste recipe from my book Rose Petal Jam, and I have to say this is now at the top of my “most favourite things to do” list. The process is simple, you take sugar and a pestle and grind the rose petals into the sugar until they make a paste. This paste will keep for up to 2 years in a sterilized jar! But ohhhh the process of pounding and scraping the pestle into the soft rose petals and watching them transform into deep burgundy paste and the smell that they release is a powerful meditation and the smell stayed in the air and on my hands long after I was done my task!

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This honey paste will be used specifically for ceremonies, as roses are deep healers of the divine feminine. I often use roses and honey in my healing work with women who are tending to deep healing deep healing with their womb’s, and with their spirit. The sweetness of the honey and the distillation of the sweet roses are like the most soothing balm I could offer a women who is hurting. Both of these creations will become my offering in my winter healing work, for both myself and my clients.

In the meantime I offer you this poem by Mary Oliver…for she captures the bees and the roses with her words so well……

Hum

What is this dark hum among the roses?

The bees have gone simple, sipping, that’s all. What did you expect? Sophistication?
They’re small creatures and they are filling their bodies with sweetness, how could they not moan in happiness?
The little worker bee lives, I have read, about three weeks.
Is that long? Long enough, I suppose, to understand that life is a blessing.
I have found them — haven’t you? — stopped in the very cups of the flowers, their wings a little tattered — so much flying about, to the hive,then out into the world, then back, and perhaps dancing, should the task be to be a scout-sweet, dancing bee.
I think there isn’t anything in this world I don’t admire.
If there is, I don’t know what it is.
I haven’t met it yet. Nor expect to.
The bee is small, and since I wear glasses, so I can see the traffic and read books, I have to take them off and bend close to study and understand what is happening.
It’s not hard, it’s in fact as instructive as anything I have ever studied.
Plus, too, it’s love almost too fierce to endure, the bee nuzzling like that into the blouse of the rose. And the fragrance, and the honey, and of course the sun, the purely pure sun, shining, all the while, over all of us.

Mary Oliver

 

On Wildness…..

 Devotions to the wild woman

 Let it never be said that she was not wild enough.

 That she did not live enough passion, or love with enough abandon….

Let it never be said that she was too shy, or too timid to sing her heart songs,

 to bellow out loud, and off tune if need be, the sacred songs of her staff.

Let it never be said that she was not willing to lay it all down for a single flower,

a single sip of wine, or a drip of precious sweet honey…….

Let it never be said that the wild woman inside of you, never saw the light of day,

shining down through the dappled tree tops, as you lay on the forest floor.

Let it never be said that there was a missed opportunity to run wild and barefoot through the grass,

or swim naked under the full moon.

Let it never be said that YOU are not wild my sisters, because all of you are!

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Life, love, turning 40, and the juiciness of aging.

This week I turn 40 and it is going to be juicy! As a ceremonialist, marking it feels really important.

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Photo taken by Hayley Melrose

Some of the things I learned about getting older:

  • I am so much stronger then I used to be. I am not stressed out as easily over the small things, because I have seen and lived through so much.
  • I care less about what others think of me, and I have surrounded myself with friends and loved ones who support and love me, thorns and all.
  • I have SO much more patience then I ever did!
  • Because I am more secure in myself, I am freer with sincere compliments,  I find so huge joy in witnessing and holding space for the passion and inspiration that other women give me! There are so many talented and amazing people out there!
  • I know nothing!  The quote  “The more we learn, the less we know know.” {T Sheridan} rings absolutely true the older I get.
  • I am so deeply rooted in the person who I am at this point. I know my shortcomings and strengths, and embracing them all is something I work on daily. My layers are what make me who I am.
  • I have  a deeper reverence for life and a deep respect for the ending of it.
  • I have been to the funerals of children and seen the strength of their loved ones picking up the pieces after. Although my heart still aches and feels deep pain for their loss, holding my own kids tighter and loving them deeper was a gift to me.
  • This year I lost a dear friend to cancer. She left her body at the age of 42. Witnessing the beauty and grace to which she died was an inspiration that filled me with deep gratitude for the life I myself have. This was her gift to me.
  • There is so much more ahead! My husband and I estimated that by the time we are 50 our kids will be 26 and 22! We have so much ahead of us yet, so much living to do and so much to see, and we are planning to do it with style, so while we could not travel much in our 20’s living out of back packs, we can do it in our later years, and this time with real beds!

Getting here however has been quite a journey…..

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Photo taken by Hayley Melrose

Skipping all the gory details of my youth and 20’s which somehow do not feel as important these days, I wanted to share a bit about my journey as a mother and woman, as I feel like I have grown up beside my kids.

Among my friends it was no secret that I was the youngest of the group, our kids were the same age, but my friends and I were often as many as 10 years apart. I got pregnant with my son at the tender age of 24 and our daughter at 29, so by the time they were school age, the other mothers I was meeting in the playground were often easily 10 years older then me.

For the first few years of being a mother,  my youthful age made me insecure {Or perhaps insecurity is just a fact of being in your 20’s !} I observed the other mothers “appearing” to be more stable, more confident, married longer and having travelled the world more.

I observed this while my peers were doing all the things that they seemed to have already done, travelling to India, going on exciting new adventures, staying up late and  sleeping in, taking on new lovers and living the free life. I on the other hand,  drove a mini-van, owned a home, and was married with two kids by 29!-EEK!

So hitting 30 was a big deal for me, it felt like I was finally catching up to my life, age wise. I felt less insecure and more confident with what I had been working on, in both my family life and my career. By my mid 30’s I had managed to turn it all around and see the positive aspects of having been a younger mother. I had worked hard on my spiritual path, and the businesses I had created were becoming fairly successful, my kids were growing up beautifully, and I was not nearly as tired as some of the mamma’s who waited until their late 30’s to have kids.

But for all of this positive thinking my soul was calling out for more, my kids were getting older and needed me a wee bit less, and so I decided to throw all caution to the wind and take a big risk, something I had not done since I was in my 20’s–I sold both of my businesses and decided to follow my souls calling! Like the goddess Inanna, I put my ear to  the great below, and heard the call, I knew I must abandon everything I knew and take my own personal journey.

I may not have had a chance to get to India, but my husband and I were able to take our kids to travel all around Europe for five weeks after I sold my two businesses, and when I got back I spiralled into a very early mid-life crisis, this blog and everything I do today was the result of that process!

So here I am, my 40th birthday is Friday.

My kids are 15 and 11, and  my husband and I have been together for 17 years, and I honestly can say I love him more each year.

My life is more soulful, more grounded, and so much more deeply satisfying then it ever was. I am thankful for this everyday, and everyday I work on it a bit more.

I am also grateful to myself for giving up everything I had built career wise, and starting over with my life work. I have come so far since that time. The hard work and the confusion of not knowing how it would all turn out feels like it is paying off and so I say…….

Bring on 40, I got this handled!

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Photo taken by Hayley Melrose

 So, here is how I am planning to celebrate:

Actually I have already started celebrating, a few weeks ago I got part 1 of 2, of a new tattoo{you can se it peeking out in the photo above}–whoot!

Friday night we are going out for a quiet dinner, just me my man and our kids, which is perfect for me, no big party, no balloons, just me and my family *happy sigh*.

But here is where the juiciness comes in, the moment I decided I wanted to celebrate my age I meet a talented photographer who came over for a shamanic drum making session. After chatting the entire afternoon away I had a peek at her work and fell in love!  I thought, hmmmmm the timing of this can’t be anything less then divinely led.

So she and I booked a few photo sessions to capture me on the edge of 40, in the body that has supported and loved me no matter how neglected I have left it. We set out to capture the essence of my work, the play of light on my face, and as she reminded me to breathe, I summoned up all the gratitude and joy I have for my life. treating myself to these photo session was the most wonderful gift I have ever given myself!

BUT to top it all off, the day after I turn 40 we are all  heading out to spend 2 weeks with my “in-love’s”, who just so happen to live in Mexico! Then my sweet husband is sweeping me away for 2 nights in Sayulita just the two of us to celebrate being 40 grown up style–can’t wait!

 How did you mark a special birthday in your life? 

G-day. Empowerment for our girls.

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There was once a time, long, long ago, but not so long ago that it has been completely lost in the mists of time, that our young daughters were invited to sit at the feet of the elder women in the community.  There would be much laughter and “woman talk” and it was in this safe place that our girls would learn the secrets and mysteries of womanhood, eventually joining them in their rightful place as their minds and bodies turned from maidens to women and eventually, for some of them, into mothers.

As a young girl myself, I longed for this place, I always wanted to listen in on the conversations my mother and her friends were having, and if I sat still enough they would sometimes forget that I was there and go on talking about all the most interesting things….

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When my first moon blood came I was the usual age of 13 and by then all of my friends had or were close to getting their periods as well. It was a rite of passage, a much anticipated event, and for me and my friends at the time, it was almost a race to see who got it first, heaven forbid if your best friend got hers first!  My mother like many mom’s of the 70’s and 80’s handed me a box of pads and told me to make sure I hid them from my father because he did not want to see “those things” around the bathroom. She did not shame me, but she also made it clear that it was to be hidden from men because it was probably a bit unclean.

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Me age 5

Fast forward 25 years I now have my own daughter and I like all mothers want the best for her. I desire for her to love her body, to have a deep spiritual understanding of how precious it is, and how deserving she is of all love.  I want her to feel empowered around her menstrual cycle, around being a woman, and how strong her body and soul can be if she gives them a little attention.

Here are a few hard and sad facts that our girls face daily: Girls between 11 and 14 see on average 500 ads a day. Canada has the 9th highest rate of bullying in the 13 year-olds category on a scale of 35 countries. (Canadian Institute of Health)By the age of 14 more than half (55%) of Canadian girls already feel pressure to be beautiful. Nearly half (47%) of Canadian girls between the ages of 10 and 17 have avoided social activities like going to the beach, participating in physical activities, going to school or giving an opinion because they feel badly about the way they look. (Dove) While 13% of Canadian girls (ages 10-14) are comfortable calling themselves ‘beautiful’, this number slides to 6% for girls ages 15-17 and to only 3% for women (ages 18-64); the percentage of girls who claim to be confident declines from 76% of girls 10-14 to only 56% of girls 15-17.

Given these sad statistics it is no wonder that supporting women and girls to change things is my life’s work! I desire BIG changes not only for my own daughter but also for the women that I work with, for the women who read our book and also for myself!

I owe it to myself and to my daughter to cherish her, and to show her how to have a healthy body and mind. This takes work, a LOT of work, because most our generation was not taught the old ways of honouring our daughters. For most of us it was a stiff upper lip as we were swept up in the wake of the early feminist era, as our mothers strived to show men, that we as women could do it all.  Many of our mothers held jobs and ignored their soft emotional post-partum bodies in favour of going back to work as soon as possible, menstrual pain was ignored or medicated in an attempt to show men that it would not slow us down! Wearing white jeans during our “heavy days” was a thing  to be proud of, and stuffing tampons into our vagina’s  so we could go swimming and generally participate in all the things that boys could do all the time something to aspire to.

As important as many of these efforts were in empowering ourselves as women, much was also lost and left behind in favour of this new way. We as women lost our connection to our bodies and to the ancient connection of sisterhood. We lost our elders and gatherings, and the initiations for our daughters to mark the transition from girls into amazing young women. These rites of passage are important markers, and it is my passion and desire to never allow any of them to pass my daughter by!

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Me and my daughter Zahra 2009

This is one of the many reasons I am so excited to be participating in, and bringing my daughter to, an upcoming event here in Vancouver called G-day.

“G Day celebrates this rite of passage by tapping into our collective sense of curiosity and bravery. G Day is more than a one-day event, it is a global movement that reminds us all of the journeys we take as women. We want to honour the secrets and wisdom that have been passed down from generation to generation, only to now find its way to you.

We are a sisterhood of girls and women. Together, we create a circle of common experiences and we see each other for who we really are. Our goal is to create a space where girls can come together and celebrate what makes them unique and also what connects them to each other.

When asked how we would transform a city, our answer was simple. Give us more space to laugh and to cry together, to share stories and rituals, to sit and to talk. Bring us together and the world will magically transform. And so we invite you to explore all of the wonders of womanhood on this adventure called G DAY. We guarantee you will come away feeling empowered, accepted and ready for the journey ahead.”

It is an honour to join my dear friends Madeleine Shaw one of the owners of Lunapads in this day long exploration of what it means to be a girl, how amazing and beautiful this can be, and how to navigate the often turbulent waters of puberty, peer pressure, and the messiness that life can bring a girl in 2014.

In the Quiet Hush……chai

In the quiet hush of the early morning while the children are asleep, I keep company with ancient poets and wild mystics. The smells of their ancient lands full of exotic spices emanates from each page, while a pot bubbles on the stove making my imagination into a reality.  In the pot is chai tea, and to say I love it would be an understatement!

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If I am lucky, and plan well, this alone time ritual happens maybe 2 times a month and mostly on the week-ends. I shuffle out of bed before anyone else and my first thought goes to tea and a good book. Making chai became a daily and sacred morning ritual about six years ago, after too much coffee, a bad stomach and nerves, and the result has been miraculous for me. No more anxious jittery feelings, no more tummy troubles, or problems sleeping. I have one sometimes two cups of black tea during the day, it is always chai and I feel great!

The spices alone  contain many medicinal properties, most of the being good for digestion, and the ritual of making it is also very meditative and calming. The ritual of making chai is one I learned from my mother in law about 16 years ago. I was young and pregnant with our son Zubin and her chai was the greatest thing I have ever tasted!

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A very young me, 4 months pregnant with Zubin, standing with Azra my mother-in-love.

 Lately I have mentioned drinking chai on facebook and here on my blog and I always get folks and friends asking for the recipe, but I never know how to answer that question due to the  fact that I do it a little differently each time I make a pot.

However…..I was taught how to make a proper cup of chai, so I know I can pass that much on, as  my mother in law Azra, is a phenomenal Indian cook and chai maker, not to mention artist and yogi.

Over the years I have received many bags of ground chai powder from Sohrab’s aunties made to suit their individual tastes, some super spicy, and some full of lots of cinnamon or ginger etc…. I have tried many store bought brands, mixing them to suit my taste, but since the powder does not get used up very fast I never had to actually grind my own, so I thought I had better make some just to assure myself that I could!

So without further ado, here is the Indian/Pakistani chai recipe as taught to me by my sweet mother-in-love Azra, including how to make your own homemade chai spice powder.

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Chai Masala Powder Recipe

Ingredients

1/4 cup  cinnamon pieces

1/8 cup cloves

1/4 cup black peppercorns

1/4 cup green cardamom 

1 tbsp Nutmeg,  grated

4-6 dried Anice flowers

3/4 c dried ginger powder

Dry roast all ingredients except the dried ginger powder and the nutmeg in a pan, preferably cast iron on low heat until you can smell the spices heating up and releasing their oils, about 5 mins. Remove them to a plate and allow them to cool down. Once they are cool to the touch grind into very fine powder in coffee or spice grinder. Now add the grated nutmeg  and the dried ginger powder  Mix well and store in airtight jar.

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Masala Chai tea recipe 

Once you have your powder you can make the perfect cup of chai tea anytime.

This recipe makes four cups.

Take a large pot and add 3 cups of water to it and one cup of milk. If you like a milkier chai try making it equal parts, any type, dairy, soy almond etc….

1/4 teaspoon chai spice powder that you just made

Plus some extra spices to make it even spicier, and infused. This is the traditional way

Add 2-3 crushed cardamon pods

1-2 small sticks of cinnamon

3-4 black pepper corns

3-4 cloves

1-3 slices of fresh ginger depending on how spicy you like it

2-3 tablespoons of sugar or more!

My mother-in-love Azra swears by adding this much sugar, if not more, and it is surprising how it mixes into the chai after it has boiled, making it almost caramelized.

Now wait for the pot to come to the boil and then turn down the burner, then bring it back up again, doing this for a total of 3 times.

Now you may add your tea bags 4 total. We like to use India tea or failing that Tetley BOLD, as it makes a good strong pot.

It is said that giving your guests of honour a cardamon pod  or anice pod in their chai  is a gesture of respect, and I believe it, as both of my in-laws/in-loves like to chew on the pods and enjoy them very much. Of course they are always guests of honour in our house!

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Now enjoy your Chai!!

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Open 2014 with The Goddess and the Red Rattle Workshop

 Happy 2014 everyone! 

I find that each time the calendar changes it brings with it the promise of a new beginning, a fresh start and we all seem to feel it and in get caught up in it in many ways big and small. I am feeling good about this year although it started off a bit rocky, I am determined to swing that around and what better way then to get excited about my latest offering of a Red Rattle workshop with a dynamic friend of mine Teresa Campbell of West Coast Wild Woman Retreats.

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 Together we are planning a four hour blast to bring in the new year, starting with the creation of luscious Round Red Rattles filled with crystals and corn and setting the deep intention for rattling in the new year. The workshop will be a beautiful creative process, for the first half, with moi, giving participants the opportunity to set deep and wild intentions for themselves, freeing up their inner divine feminine.

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Moon rattles from Nikiah’s web-site www.redmoondesigns.ca

Teresa, who is a big part of the local yogini community and spoken word artist will then take everyone on a wild ride using dance with their newly made rattles to work with some of the most powerful goddesses such as Kali and Durga literally shaking and breaking open to all the possibilities laid out before them.

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Together we hope to have a fun and intention filled evening. Here are the deets:

Date: Sunday, January 26, 2014

Time: 6:00pm – 10:00pm

Location: James community hall. Truth & 10th ave. Vancouver B.C

Cost: $200 which includes everything 

To Register visit: www.redmoondesigns.ca  

 

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