mindful moments

When I first reduced the animal products in my diet, I did it because I thought it would be healthier.

But as I began to practice a mostly vegan diet, it became a more ethical issue. I became deeply aware of the sacrifice that goes into every egg, piece of cheese, or steak dinner that is produced.

I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad. I still eat animal products in small amounts.

But when I do, I like to take a moment to acknowledge the sacrifice that makes my meals possible, and send some gratitude into the world.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the ways its animals are treated."
Mahatma Gandhi


candied maple nuts

The end of winter is just around the corner. I can feel it. Can you?

I think a lot of us in Beantown are in the same boat this year. Yes, a bit more snow would have been cozy and festive and fun. But you can just taste the impending warmth of the sun, the carbon tang of a charcoal grill, the salty breeze at a beach.

I'm so ready for it.

But if you'd like to wish winter a fonder farewell, you could enjoy these candied maple nuts.

They are reminiscent of the slightly salty, and very sweet nuts served from a cart on the corner of a busy city street. They are best eaten with chilly fingers and wind-nipped ears.

These have whole, simple ingredients, and are so yummy. But best of all, they are super easy. You can whip them up in just a few minutes, and clean up takes even less time.

I like to use Grade B maple syrup, as it has more of the rich and heavy maple flavor I love. You can use whatever kind of nuts you want. I like a half and half mix of cashews and almonds.

Candied Maple Nuts

2 cups raw nuts
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a large, nonstick skillet (I recommend cast iron). Turn heat to low, and slowly increase the temperature, stirring occasionally. As the syrup begins to boil, stir constantly. The syrup will begin to caramelize. You'll want to remove the pan from the heat when the moisture has mostly evaporated and the nuts begin to stick to each other. Spread on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper until cool. Store in an airtight container.


animal photos

I grew up with a lot of animals. My childhood was shared with 6 dogs, 6 cats, more birds and rodents than I can remember, and a few fish too. My mother must have been a saint.

J is not so much an animal person, so it's hard for him to understand my utter devotion to Maus...the way I cradle her like a baby, kiss her whiskers, and whisper sweet nothings in her ear. Okay, I'm a crazy cat lady.

But I'm crossing my fingers and hoping there are a few animal lovers in the blog-o-sphere who will appreciate these photos as much as I do. I was stunned when I came across a few of these the other day, and it inspired me to pull together the best animal photos I've got on my hard drive, in honor of the little critters (okay, mostly cats) who deserve more of the spotlight.

Our Toby...taken by my mom on old school B&W film...

Baby Maus...exhausted from being a rambunctious kitten

My wild little nephew, Wilbur

The only time I could catch Maus standing still as a kitten was when she was sleeping...

Taken by my sister in the butterfly exhibit at NY's Natural Science Museum

My mom's mischievous babe

Wilbur again...basking in the sun...

Are you an animal lover?


fantasy friday: strawberries 'n' cream grits from jackson

"That's all a grit is, a vehicle. For whatever it is you rather be eating."
Aibileen Clark
from The Help
by Kathryn Stockett

That's what Aibileen says as she adds strawberries and whipped cream to Mae Mobley's grits to make them special for her birthday. Aibeleen is the best, isn't she?

And what she says about grits is so true. I can remember making grits when I was small, and loading them up with enough butter and maple syrup to fuel a small rocket ship. Luckily, this recipe isn't quite so weighed down.

I suspect that Aibileen started with grits that had butter and sugar in them. To healthify this birthday treat, I did not replace the grits, but I did leave out those other base ingredients. The only sugar in it comes from fresh strawberries, and the whipped cream is replaced with coconut whipped cream. Sweet and rich, my version is what I imagine Mae Mobley's birthday breakfast tasted like, with a slightly healthier list of ingredients.

I loved both the book and movie versions of The Help. It was all of the things a good story should be...touching, exciting, educational.

But goodness gracious, most of all I loved how so many things revolved around food. Caramel cake, chocolate pie, fried chicken. You can bet I'll be working on healthier versions of such things. When I put the book down, I couldn't wait for strawberries to be in season before I tried making this treat. And maybe you can't either. But if you can, you should. The strawberries make this dish.

The coconut whipped cream recipe should make enough for about four servings of strawberries 'n' cream grits. But the grits recipe serves one.

Full of healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamins, this dish is as healthy as it is delicious. And is it ever delicious...

Strawberries 'n' Cream Grits

1/4 cup instant grits
dash of salt
5 drops liquid stevia or other sweetener, to taste
1/4 lb. fresh strawberries, cleaned and chopped
coconut whipped cream (recipe below)

Combine grits with 3/4 cup water and salt. Heat on high in the microwave for 2-4 minutes, until grits reach your desired consistency. Keep an eye out that they don't overflow! Stir in the stevia.

Top with coconut whipped cream (recipe below) and strawberries.

Coconut Whipped Cream

1 can full-fat coconut milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
5 drops liquid stevia

The night before you intend to use the cream, open your can of coconut milk and put it in the fridge, uncovered. This will allow all the fat to rise to the top. If you're lucky, like me, the parts will be separated as soon as you open the can. If that's the case, just scoop out the fat into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, put the coconut fat into a mixing bowl. It should be fairly thick,  like Crisco. Add 5 drops of stevia and the vanilla extract. Beat on high until well mixed and creamy.

Just like Mae Mobley, Maus turns 3 next Wednesday. I think I'll make her some of these grits to celebrate...and then eat them myself. ;-)


Want to join in? Just grab the image below to include in your Fantasy Friday post, and link it back to this page. Be sure to leave a link to your post, so we can see what fantasy world you've recreated!


why travelling makes us happy

There's a special kind of travel that the wanderlust-y yearn for. It's the kind of travel that takes us to another place to live and to feel. It's the undergraduate semester you spent in Spain. Or the six-week summer program in Kenya. Maybe it's the year you taught English in Japan.

Those kind of experiences can be transforming, and blissful.

I was thinking about that the other day, about my own experiences abroad, and the great deal of happiness I felt being a stranger in a strange land.

Sure, some of that happiness is a result of the place...the beautiful sidewalk cafes, the fascinating history, the joie de vivre of the people.

But I think that's oversimplifying it. I think that these experiences force us to examine ourselves in certain ways that are amazingly fulfilling. Studying abroad exists because it is such a valuable and transforming experience for us during the time when we are voraciously trying to figure out who we are.

So I got to thinking about what has made me happy when I've traveled, and why it is I've never thought about replicating that feeling in my day-to-day life. And I realized, I can. For some reason, we put this strange limitation on our own growth when we have to deal with the day-to-day. But I don't think we need to.

Here are six ways I believe travelling makes us happy...and they can be managed without leaving your hometown.

1. Expect less of yourself
When we travel, we take off our responsible hats and put on our fun hats. It doesn't matter if we miss a trip to the gym, or leave the bed unmade in the morning. There are more important things to see and do! At home, it's so easy to pile on a bunch of silly, unimportant pressures every day. If we can learn to let a few of those things go (easier said than done), we start paying attention to the bigger, more important, more fun things there are to do.

2. Expect more of yourself
For as many things as I let go of when I travel, I take on many things as well. I remember my first bout of panicked, clenching homesickness in Berlin...and waking up alright again in the morning. I remember getting food sickness, and vomiting my guts out in the middle of the night, all alone, for the first time. I remember getting on a bike after 15 years off of them, riding through city traffic, and falling off...multiple times. When we travel, we're forced to rely on ourselves. And we're brave enough to try these challenging things, because that's part of the journey. But if we pay attention, we have the opportunity to do brave, challenging things every day. Taking on those challenges teaches us how very strong we actually are.

3. Do new things
Just get up, get out, and do it. I am so guilty of the opposite. I have plenty of days where I don't want to get dressed, or I just want to get errands done, or I insist on staying local for dinner. Did I ever do that when I traveled? Heck no! There are interesting and thrilling things to do and see in our own backyards, but we have to get out and do them.

4. Find the 'new' in old things
One of my favorite things to do in a strange place is go grocery shopping. Suddenly yogurt and crackers become so interesting. It's good practice to look at what we see every day with new eyes. How would your city and your stores and your apartment look to you if you didn't see them every day?

5. Simplify
I love my stuff. I love my dishes and my wardrobe and my television. But when you travel, you're limited to what's in your suitcase. Bills don't follow you around. Emails go unanswered for awhile. I'm not suggesting you take a total hiatus from your life, but I bet you could find some ways to make it simpler. Get rid of some junk that's weighing you down. Unsubscribe from a few mailing lists. Stop reading fifty blogs every day! (Guilty as charged.)

6. Be whoever you want
Being in a foreign place makes me feel so mysterious. No one knows who I am, and I feel fundamentally individual. It's hard to feel like a stranger in your home. We build comfortable structures around us that remind us who we are, but those structures shouldn't keep us from waking up every day and deciding who we want to be right then. Those are the decisions that lead us to the things that make us happy.

All that said, there is something about traveling that we cannot get from staying in one place. I just feel it in my heart. And one of the best things I've learned is that there is no "right time" or "too late" when it comes to travelling. Sometimes we are meant to be at home, and sometimes we are meant to fly. So when wanderlust hits, I try to remember that we have all our lives to live, and it will happen no matter where we are.


mindful moments

I am happy when...

a candle is burning.
the lights are low.
Adele is crooning.
and the house smells like cinnamon.

Wishing you a peaceful evening...


t&c visit boston

Remember when I made a resolution to take more photos of the memories that matter? It's not going so well.

That's why I don't really have many pictures of our guests from this past weekend.

I didn't capture the delicious wilted kale salad and lentil soup we had for lunch on Friday.

No shots of Friday night's vegan pizza for the girls, served next to meat lovers' pizza for the boys.

My camera was away the whole time Maus basked in the attention of her Aunt T.

I missed that moment at the MIT Museum when the art student described the mechanical exhibit as "soo sexualllll..."

Remember veggie heaven and banana smoothies from Life Alive? I do, but I don't have pictures.

Then there was when I spent a ridiculous amount of money in a foreign bookstore.

We took a disappointing trip to Whole Foods, made worthwhile only by cashew and coconut butters.

I've got nothing to show for the hours of Rock Band, many cups of coffee, and lots of sister talk.

But I think I got the love part. And a few shots of the people who matter.

Thanks for visiting, T&C. Miss you already.


fantasy friday: kedgeree from downton abbey

Breakfast at Downton

It had to be Downton, didn't it?

The very first Fantasy Friday begins with the very first dish we saw served up at Downton Abbey, kedgeree.

Within the first few minutes, we see William pressing the newspaper to dry the ink. In the kitchen, Mrs. Patmore sprinkles the last of the hard-boiled egg into the silver tureen full of kedgeree. The servents are abuzz with news of the sunk Titanic.

"William, will you stop talking and take this kedgeree up? And mind the burners are still lit."

William carries it up, and we see Robert Crawley and the girls serve themselves as they discover the death of Downton's heir.

A traditional British breakfast dish, kedgeree has Indian roots, and usually includes rice, smoked fish, hard-boiled eggs, curry, parsley, and sometimes raisins or grapes. There are about a gazillion variations of this recipe floating around.

Traditional versions of kedgeree are actually pretty healthy, and a good way to start your morning. But as I know I have at least a few vegan readers and didn't come across any vegan versions, I created my own. Using brown rice also makes this full of whole grains.

The result is a subtle, but powerful dish. There is a delicate smokiness, a delicate spiciness, and a delicate sweetness. Put them together, and you get a complex flavor combination. It's really the only way to start your day when you're facing a full schedule of socializing, reading, scheming, and lounging.

Best served at an ornate table, whilst opening correspondence.

Vegan Kedgeree

1 package of extra firm tofu
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 tsp salt
1 extra large vegetable bouillon cube
2 cups brown rice, uncooked
1/2 cup raisins
2 tbsp oil
1 small onion
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp parsley

1. Press tofu to remove moisture. (I use a tofu press for a few hours.) When done, dice the tofu, and sprinkle the liquid smoke and salt over it. Stir it up, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
2. The next day, add the bouillon to 4 1/2 cups of water, and heat until boiling. Stir in the rice, cover, and turn down the heat to maintain a simmer. Allow the rice to cook until the water has been absorbed, about 40 minutes. Add the raisins about 10 minutes before the rice is done, so they have some time to plump up.
3. In the meantime, chop up the onion. Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Sauté the tofu until it begins to brown. If it sticks to the pan, you can add more oil or turn down the heat. Once tofu has begun to brown, add the onion pieces and continue cooking until they are soft and transluscent.
4. Add the tofu, onions, and spices to the rice and raisins. Serve hot or cold, garnished with fresh or dried parsley. (I enjoyed it hot when fresh, but ate the leftovers cold to prevent the rice from drying out...good both ways!)


Want to join in? Just grab the image below to include in your Fantasy Friday post, and link it back to this page. Be sure to leave a link to your post, so we can see what fantasy world you've recreated!


fantasy fridays

I've been hit with inspiration.

There are two things I really, really love: food and books. I especially love food in books. And food in movies, or tv shows. If I love a fictional setting, chances are, I want to get my hands on the food they make there.

This is not really new news. That's why there are plenty of people who have made up recipes for butterbeer, and why people like me collect recipes from Downton Abbey.

But most of these made-up recipes are sadly, pretty unhealthy. And that's why I'm starting a new series: Fantasy Fridays.

Beginning tomorrow, I will post healthy recipes on Fridays that are inspired by foods in books, television, and movies. While I can't promise that I will faithfully post every Friday, I already have a few ideas lined up and will do my best!

Here's the really fun part.

I want you to join in!

This doesn't mean you need to come up with healthy recipes (but you can). You can leave a comment with your post where you've recreated anything from a fantasy world. Any kind of recipes, outfits, objects, home decor...if you recreate it, post it! I'm not about to put any limits on the creativity. And if anyone can recommend a good link-up tool for the future, let me know.

So keep an eye out tomorrow. You'll see the first healthy Fantasy Friday recipe and you'll have the opportunity to comment with a post of your own, if you want.

Cannot wait.


happy valentine's day!

I love it. I do.

If you can ignore the marketing schemes and all the Debbie Downers complaining about how depressing Valentine's Day is, you can see that there's something much richer at the heart of it.

Single, married, young, old, rich, poor...

We can all give love.

I think J and I are really good about saying and showing how much we love each other any time of the year. But I value a day that makes us slow down, and enjoy it a little more.

Is there someone in your life who needs to hear I love you? Today's the day...

Inspired by this (much prettier) project, my V-day hearts were made with unsweetened chocolate and coconut sugar, with peanut butter and coconut oil blended in.

Happy Valentine's Day
I love you, dear reader.

Source: flickr.com via Clair on Pinterest

when the layers subside
and the fortune is empty

the pigment of our days
will echo pure

and i will be nowhere

if not with you

-kylie johnson


11 things

Yesterday, Rachel over at Healthy Chicks tagged me in a fun little blogger game. While I'm not usually into stuff like this (I know, everyone says that), this one is just a really fun way to get to know bloggers! And I hope it tells you some stuff you'd like to know about me, outside of who I am as a blogger. I threw in a couple of old photos, just to make it a little cuter. ;-) So yup...I'm doing it. If I tag you, puh-lease don't feel obligated to do it too...it just means I wanna read more about you.

There are six "rules".

1. Post these rules.
2. Post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions set for you in the original post (i.e., Rachel's for me).
4. Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.
5. Go to their blog and tell them you've tagged them.
6. No saying, "If you are reading this, you're tagged."

I shortened the rules just an eensy bit. Hope the blog police don't come after me...

11 random things about me...

1. I sometimes have a hard time falling asleep at night because I'm thinking about new recipes for my blog.
2. I have three chipped teeth, all on the bottom in the front. I don't remember how one happened. I remember quite clearly that the other two happened during an unfortunate accident when my siblings and I were practicing dramatic fainting on the couch.
3. I'm going to go take a nap after this, because I was up half the night thinking about my blog.
4. I often break my own health "rules". For example, I'm skipping the gym today for my nap. Life happens.
5. I wanted to be a marine biologist from about the age of 5 until about the age of 13. It is still a life goal to swim with otters. I still sleep with my stuffed otter. Uh oh...too many random things for one number?
6. I taught in a tough school district for a year, and learned way more than I ever could have taught...including how to take care of myself.
7. It took me a long time to admit that my favorite color is purple, because I didn't want to be a girl whose favorite color was purple.
8. I was the drum major of my high school marching band, and it was the highlight of my public school career.
9. I assumed J was a jerk before I met him, because I totally judged him by his appearance (hello, cute-face-athletic-build-and-baseball-cap meets former-high-school-drum-major).
10. I'm an ethnic mutt (Irish, Slovakian, French, German, Swedish, American Indian, English, and Italian), but participate almost exclusively in German and Slovakian traditions.
11. I love it when people call me "Clairie".

Rachel's questions for me...

1. Who's your #1 role model and why?

Ok, I know this is going to sound cliché. But it's really my mom. We're very alike, so I can see the things I might become in her, and that makes me proud. I admire her ability to stand up for, and speak about the truths she holds dear. She has always put her children first. In fact, both my parents are amazing role models for parenting skills.

2. If you were planning a dinner party TONIGHT, what would you prepare for your guests?

So you already know I'm about to go take a nap. Which means the menu would be simple, made from what's already in the house. Looks like it'd be white wine glazed tofu served over quinoa and lentils, seasoned with lemon and garlic. I'd saute chayote squash and onions as a side and serve silken tofu chocolate pudding for dessert.

3. What's your sign and do you believe in horoscope/zodiac kinda stuff?

I'm on the cusp between scorpio and libra, which means I usually read both horoscopes and pick the one I like better. I can't really say I don't believe in it. I'm very open minded! But I definitely don't seek it out and don't let it affect the way I live my life or the way I feel about myself or my future.

4. What is a deal-breaker for you when it comes to relationships or dating?

Lack of respect. Sure, J and I tease each other, but one of the things I really value in him is that he values me. I hope that doesn't sound self-centered, but as equal partners in a relationship, I am so glad that he respects my opinions, my intellect, my feelings (irrational though they sometimes are), and me as a whole person.

5. Are you reading any good books right now? If so, what? If not, what's the last GREATEST book you've read?

I'm currently reading A Naked Singularity and Democracy and Education. Both are really good, but very intense. You've been warned! I just finished reading The Help and I highly, highly recommend it. It's the best, most engrossing book I've read in a long time. But I'm not sure there's anyone left who hasn't read it.

6. What's something strange you simply can't live without - be it a beauty product, a food you crave, etc.?

This is a tough one. Strange and essential? I guess I'd have to say coconut oil. I use it in almost all my sweet treats, as a moisturizer, to remove makeup...it's not strange by itself, but once you start thinking about all the ways you can use it, it's crazy!

7. Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?

That would make me 35. Married, with kids (preferably two...twins). I would love to have a flexible part-time career, so I could nurture my own interests while primarily being a mom. Ideally, that career would have me involved in low income public schools, empowering kids to make better wellness decisions. And we'd be living in or near a city somewhere, with a little house and a big garden.

8. If you could travel anywhere in the world for a week, where would you go?

I'd probably want to take the opportunity to go somewhere new. At the moment, a week in Ireland in the country sounds amazing. Long walks and lots of photography every day, whole foods at every meal, and plenty of farm animals to snuggle with.

9. What's your favorite hobby, aside from blogging?

Eep! Just one? Cooking. But also reading and crocheting. Sorry...cheating again.

10. Are you shy when you first meet people or a bubbly, social butterfly?

I'm definitely introverted, and I often feel uncomfortable and anxious and awkward when meeting new people. I try not to overthink it though, so I think I usually do a pretty good job of acting like a normal social person. Right?!

11. Best way to blow off stress = ______

A good run. I'm not a runner, but if I'm stressed, there is nothing quite as amazing as running it out. I'm usually more motivated to do it, and the endorphins leave me feeling like a new person.

My 11 questions...

1. What's your favorite way to take advantage of a sunny day?
2. Do you have a reliable "wing it" meal that you depend on?
3. How do you take your coffee?
4. What is your absolute favorite book from your childhood?
5. When do you feel most at peace?
6. Flats or heels?
7. What's one habit you wish you had?
8. Do you hold on to a lot of guilt? Is there anything that is guaranteed to make you feel guilty?
9. If you had the opportunity to be a professional blogger, would you take it?
10. Best way to turn around a bad day?
11. What's the last time you can remember laughing so hard you cried?

I'm tagging Anna, Danielle, Smita, Jennifer, Jenna, Julie, and Megan!


banana 'nice' cream

Man, I am on a recipe roll. I hope you don't mind the lulls between food posts, followed by total inundation.

Sometimes, things just flow.

That's the way I prefer it. I love cooking. I love eating good food. I love being in my kitchen. But life is busy, and when I'm feeling pulled in ten different directions, I need recipes that don't slow me down.

Truth is, I sometimes just microwave frozen veggies and eat them with a little salt and vinegar. My go-to cure for a sweet tooth is peanut butter mixed with stevia. For goodness sake, I once made a salad with just lettuce and beans.

Thankfully, I also have a handful of easy recipes that are just a smidge more refined, and totally delicious. Banana 'nice' cream is one of them. I have seen this all over the blog-o-sphere, but given the risk that even one of my readers doesn't know about it, I decided it deserved its own post.

Banana 'nice' cream is nice, because it's vegan, has no added sugar, and can be whipped up in a jiffy. Oh also...it's amazingly delicious.

Peel a banana. Freeze it. Put it in the food processor. Nom.

There's little more to it. You can get super creative with this. Mix in whatever you want. Throw on some toppings. If I mix-in something that thickens it up, I add a little almond milk to get the processor going. I also usually add some stevia to sweeten up mix-ins like cocoa powder. You can experiment with that part. It's pretty hard to mess up.

Here are some ideas for mix-ins and toppings...

cocoa powder, peanut butter, nut butter, protein powder, cacao nibs, coconut whipped cream, melted chocolate, peanuts, nuts, coconut, extracts, cinnamon, fresh fruits, frozen fruits, nutmeg, sunflower seeds, cardamom, instant coffee, ginger, toasted soy nuts, pumpkin, maple syrup, agave marshmallows

And here is my ol' reliable recipe.

Chocolate Nut Butter Banana 'Nice' Cream

1 frozen banana
2 tbsp cocoa powder (I like dark)
6 drops liquid stevia
2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
1-2 tbsp nut butter
dash of salt

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

And if you've got other ideas for how to make banana 'nice' cream even yummier, please do leave a comment!


spiced pecan bunches of oats

I have to say, one of the hardest things about giving up sugar is finding the time to cook up healthy sweets. Snack foods can be particularly difficult, since it's not always easy to tote a smooshy pastry or a couple of melty truffles. My sweet tooth was kicking in before class the other day, and I had just a little time to pull together an easy snack.

A little of this, and a little of that...and suddenly, my kitchen gave birth to the healthy version of Honey Bunches of Oats.

I took these to school to crunch on straight from the bag, but I was later inspired to eat them with some unsweetened almond milk. I promptly decided to quadruple my recipe the next time I make them.

And quadrupling would work just fine, because this recipe is sized for one, the perfect serving for a few hours away from home.

With such a small batch, measuring the spices doesn't make much sense. Go with your gut (and your gut will probably tell you, more spices are better).

Spiced Pecan Bunches of Oats

1/2 cup oatmeal
1 tbsp raw pecans
1 tbsp white whole wheat flour
dash of salt
cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom, to taste
1 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp water
3/4 tsp baking powder
12 drops stevia
splash of vanilla extract
1 tbsp unsweetened non-dairy milk

To make a gluten free version, replace the flour with 1 tbsp ground flax seeds. I needed to add about a tsp more almond milk, and had to work a little harder to make my pieces, but the ones pictured have this substitution, so it can be done! If anyone tries a better substitution, leave a comment!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the oatmeal, pecans, flour, salt, and spices in a small bowl. In another bowl, melt the coconut oil, then add the water, baking powder, stevia, and vanilla extract. Pour into the dry mixture and stir until well combined. Add the milk, and stir until a sticky dough forms. Drop small blobs of dough onto a baking sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes, depending on how toasty you like your pecans. (I prefer very toasty.)

P.S. Don't you just love the smell of a blooming hyacinth? I think the reason flowers smell so magical is to remind us to breathe deeply. And they're so beautiful so we remember how miraculous life is. And each whiff of my pretty pink hyacinth reminds me to relax and enjoy life a bit more. =)