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Friday, November 27, 2015

Mindful Sunset Destinations in Southern Oregon

What is a mindful walk with God? 

There are different definitions of mindfulness specifically one by Kabat-Zinn which defines mindfulness in general as "paying attention, in the present moment, on purpose, non-judgmentally, as if your life depended on it."

Another definition by Jiddu Krishnamurti is "conscious affectionate awareness of the moment."

Whenever I take a walk on an Oregon beach I am looking for my sentience without complaint in my mind-body. I feel the sand in my toes, the breeze in my hair and I simply notice the here and now devoid of any distracting thoughts about the past or future. 

"Prayer is the passport to peace" Thomas S. Monson

I know this, when I create sacred space for myself, I have full access to my intuition and instincts.

Slowing my daily pace down, I begin to notice nature's revery as she consistently brings blessings for simply the beholding of joy.  A seal was finding joy in its own sphere and influence beyond the rock pictured above. As I gazed at its ability to traverse the waters I enjoyed the setting sun just touching the cliff to the right.

We call this Oregon

As I took my walk alone, my son and his friends practiced their own teenage mindfulness as they felt the tide with skim boarding often surfing their way to little thought or care of mid-week school, sports or instrument practice schedules.

Mindful moments for teens begin with feeling the curl in the waves and allowing the entire mind-body to feel a way to act with the ocean. Again, no thoughts on the past or future given to depression or anxiety just the present moment requiring action towards the goal at hand.

Below I found a unique sunset as the summer fires in Southern Oregon relaxed the sun's brilliance through accumulated haze on the horizon.  I call the photo below "sun-dial" as the rock formations in the distance reminded me of nature's way of timing.

“Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.” 

For someone, the above retreat was created mindfully in pursuit of wonder and then left behind for the discovery of other beachcombers.

Notice here in these photos of my son and his good friend that they both have centered their attention or focus into their bodies in the present moment combining the physical senses and spiritual essence of their entire sentient beings. They are celebrating their awareness of emotional flow and nature's rhythm. The business or busyness of the week days have a way of disconnecting their sentience. Finding mindful activity such as skim boarding, hiking beach cliffs or surfing as a type of weekend deep play brings reintegration of self in relieving and grounded focus. The mind-body rejuvenates itself and prepares for the coming week that is often top heavy with social media, intellectualized class performance and/or a demanding rigor devoid of true balance. I find my son has the moxie and insight following deep play weekends to retrench his weekly schedule in favor of integrated balance including his worthy long and short term goals.

Honor the flowing nature of healthy focus.  Karla McLaren

Meditation becomes natural for the teenage mind-body as they slow their daily pace in pursuit of self.

As a mom of boys I find it incredibly rejuvenating in my own mindful practice to disengage from the daily schedule of the week, gather my sons and  their friends with their wetsuits, boards and wax and proceed to chase good surf along the Southern Oregon coastline. The joy in the journey is checking the daily surf reports, while grabbing local pizza and ice cream as we go !

In my field of study, mental health counseling, mindful practice is a form of what we call "grounding" in therapy. Grounding activities such as deep breathing and other meditative postures or actions call to be in the here and now or in the present moment. For me, being in the here and now means I can find full awareness focused in the present moment versus a dissociated or distracted state of being. For me, when I am fully aware, I no longer have the need for avoidance behaviors, addictions, excessive activity of any kind or perfectionist ways. I become fully engaged with the ability to deal with life as it simply " is " as I am grounded once again or connected to my entire sentient being and surroundings. 

Come and enjoy a mindful destination and journey for the mind/body/soul on our Southern Oregon beaches. Here's a link for your exploration and planning

The photo below was taken in my backyard in Southern Oregon. I attached a quote to it that I deeply value. I know when I create a mindful space for quiet prayer and contemplation I can continue to remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

Below are a few photos I captured recently of my beautiful mom. We enjoy taking evening walks together on the beach in Southern Oregon. I enjoy simply walking and talking with her as we take in the beauty around us.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Tina Marie's Easter Pie.....A Mindfully Prepared Italian Family Tradition

When I was a small child I was steeped in the traditions of  Tutti a Tavola ! There is something about a mindfully prepared and shared family meal that anchors a family. Not just at holidays, events and celebrations but regularly and reliably held family feasts. Although the specific foods that define a "feast" may vary, the experience is common to us all.   In my Italian family, "Tutti a Tavola a mangiare !" simply means "Everybody to the table to eat !" It was time to shut out the rest of the world and mindfully commune as a family.

In the humble beginnings of our very Italian Stolo Family heritage there was a curious pie that played its way through every Easter holiday. It had a way of caressing the adoring faces of children with chipmunk like cheeks full of Easter morning chocolates. With sugar smudged grins we patiently waited for Grandma Marie to arrive at the table with the wonder of the Easter Pie. With orders from our mothers to leave it alone, my cousins Johnny and Bobby Maulucci and I waited patiently as she carefully cut a piece for each one of us. It was thick, dripping with the oils of fragrant Italian cheese and layered with generous portions of pepperoni. As if it could get any better, it was wrapped with a delightfully sweet Italian bread crust that made it an Easter miracle. 

Years later I had the privilege of learning from my Aunt Tina Marie, I say this tongue and cheek as we happen to be very close in age, the art of the Easter Pie. She carefully has carried the tradition from her mother, my Grandma Marie mentioned above. With some of our Stolo family living so far apart these days, we cannot always gather around the same Easter tavola so we make the pie our special connection and constant to our Easter Day. My children now enjoy these rustic Italian flavors handed down through the generations with love. It's as if somehow our great Grandma Lucia Panico- Stolo is still lovingly preparing an Easter Pie for us through OUR hands. 

Recently my "Aunt Tina " Stolo-Dietz and her husband Larry paid us a visit here in Southern Oregon and taught us how to cook the coveted Easter Pie! We had the best time preparing the ingredients together and watching Tina and Larry step by step.

Tina Stolo-Dietz and Larry Deitz
Here we are gathered in my mom's kitchen ! She was the inspiration for this gathering as we wanted to create the tradition here in our hometown of Grants Pass, Oregon.

Pictured above, Tina applies enough pressure to roll out the Easter Bread dough (recipe below) to approximately 1/8 of an inch. You may desire it a little thicker but take care if you don't want a "bready" crust encasing your filling.

Tina places the rolled-out dough onto a foil pie tin.

My mom Angie (Angela Marie Stolo - Everhard) prepared grilled cheese sandwiches for us while we created the pies together. Yum ! She is another great cook.

Tina uses culinary sheers to cut the excess off from the edges of the pie dough.

Meet Tina, our keeper of the family tradition !

Meet Larry,Tina's sous chef extraordinaire! It's fitting this time of year that I share with you  a little about Tina and Larry and the example of service to others they provide. It literally would take an entire page to list the many ways these loving two have shared their ways with others. I will share a few here. On Thanksgiving, they donate their time to St. Catherine's Meals on Wheels delivering 70 dinners to senior citizens. 

In addition, they will be participating in the Special Olympics celebration in Los Angeles for the World Games helping the Knights of Columbus provide dinner as well as other venue needs. For Christmas, Tina and Larry hosted a party for 150 foster children with the Knights of Columbus. Two years ago they began an event called "A Day of Sharing", an extravaganza free to all children regardless of their current situation with the intent of providing a safe play environment with a variety of games, foods and arts & crafts, free of the concerns they may daily face.

Larry carefully lines the pie dough with a layer of pepperoni in the pattern pictured below.

Tina attempts to teach me the art of rolling out the bread dough to its proper thickness. I had to try this a couple of times to get it right. If you're not careful, it will become too thick around your filling. Thank heaven I had her tutelage as this took some practice.

Practice makes perfect and Larry kept me laughing through the process!!!

Don't go cheap on the cheese or pepperoni ! Get a plentiful supply and pick your favorite brand.

Cut chunks of the pre-sliced pepperoni to fill the pie over the first layer. It's obvious why this is so deliciously sinful, isn't it ?

Larry prepares the egg, parsley & cheese mixture by whipping it quickly with a wisk.

Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pepperoni so it looks like this.

Tina fluffs it up with a fork so the egg is dispersed around the pepperoni.

Roll out another thin layer of bread-dough crust and place it over the filling, creating rustic edges. Do not fuss or you will ruin the simplicity of this pie.

With any left-over bread dough, simply braid it and bake it for a preview treat !

Following the recipe, the pies are done when they are golden brown and an inserted skewer or toothpick comes out clean.

Cut and serve warm if you desire but traditionally we eat it at room temperature or cold from the refrigerator.

And, here is the final product ! Tutti a Tavola !

Stolo Family Easter Pie

This recipe makes 6 pies

Easter Bread Dough that serves as crust is as follows:

1 cup of oil
1 1/2 dozen eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1 pkg of yeast
2 1/2 cups of sugar
13 cups of flour
13 tsp baking powder

Mix together flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside.  In another bowl mix the oil, eggs and sugar. Warm the milk and allow the yeast to bloom. Once bloomed, temper the yeast into the egg mixture. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet to form a sticky dough. Allow to rise overnight.  

If dough is still sticky while rolling out, add a cup of flour with 1 tsp of baking powder. 


2 dozen eggs
3 cups of parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp of ground pepper
1/4 cup of parsley

Following assembly directions above ( see pictures ), once assembled bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes, switching pies around the oven at 20 minutes to evenly cook them.

And here's our big, fun Italian Family in Covina, California enjoying the Easter Pie 2015! This is the lovely home of my cousin "Johnny" (and his wife Sue)  mentioned above. Pictured from left to right are Anthony (Carly's boyfriend), Matthew and Carly Maulucci (John and Sue's children) and Sue Maulucci, Tina Stolo-Dietz and Larry Dietz.

Below is a picture of my husband and I and our three precious sons in front of the Medford, Oregon Temple.

My family - Medford Oregon Temple

Auguri di Buona Pasqua ! From our family to yours our Italian familia, some of us remain Italian-Catholic and some of us (including me) belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Below is some familiar imagery representing both faiths....We believe in Christ. 

Because He Lives

Because He Lives ...From Our Italian Family to Yours
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