art ~ jewelry ~ interfaith devotions ~ peace to you...


my bookshelf: garden of virtues


by Christina Keffler and Rebecca Donnelli and illustrated by Suzanne Etman

I was browsing through my bookshelf, for this post, and came across this colorful cover and positive content. Anytime is the perfect time to talk about a book of virtues, and many families tend to focus on this subject around the holidays.

This book is especially nice as a guide to help parents instill positive virtues in their children. For each of the 53 virtues, there is an explanation, an example on how to practice them, motivation, cultivation, and reflection. The theme is liking the parents to a "farmer" who "plants and cultivates" seeds of goodness in their children, while "weeding" out bad habits and establishing positive family rules. 

It's written in a way that any of the 53 virtues can be presented in any order. One suggestion is to focus on a virtue a week. Each virtue is given about four pages and has a lovely illustration. I've taken the virtue of compassion from the book to give you an example of how each virtue opens:

COMPASSION: Understanding another person's pain and suffering and being willing to help. Believing you can make a difference in the lives of other people.

SEEDS TO PLANT: Serve others in time of need.
WEEDS TO PULL: Avoid being self-centered.
FAMILY RULE: Be passionate about caring.

This is a simple and small book, but so helpful in creating the kind of change needed for a world based on love, tolerance, justice and compassion. It really does start at home with our children and grandchildren. With 53 virtues covered, there's a lot us grownups can learn too!

I found several copies of Garden of Virtues on Amazon, if you would like more information.


art picks: love letters - by kay

All I can say is WOW! Letters, colors and peace signs all rolled into one make me a happy lady. By using brilliant color and a glassy texture on 3D wood letters,  Kay Larch has developed a technique she calls "PAINTED MOSAICS". 

I couldn't wait to share Kay's art with my blog readers, so instead of featuring her work for my regular Friday post "In Her Words", she's a guest of "Art Picks"! I asked Kay what inspires her to create such amazing art and why she includes peace signs. 

In her words: My art is happy, peaceful and colorful because that is how I feel and how I wish the world would feel.

These letters come ready to hang on your wall.
You can find ALL the letters of the alphabet at Kay's Etsy store

I feel happier now that I've enjoyed Kay's artwork! 


devotions: stronger than. . .

by Artzink

Goodness is stronger than evil.
Love is stronger than hate.
Light is stronger than darkness.
Life is stronger than death.
Victory is ours through Him who loves us.

~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu


in their words: the purpose-filled life of the van manens

Dave and Helene Van Manen
I would like you to meet my dear friends, Dave and Helene Van Manen, a couple who live the purposeful life many of us only think about living. They are words and thoughts in action! I have known them for many years and know first hand the level of their dedication to what they believe. Let me use a few of those words to describe this awesome couple... compassionate, understanding, peacemakers, happy spirits, nature lovers, giving back and award winning musicans.

In their words: "Peace is as peace does. Talking about peace does nothing. It is one’s daily actions that make a difference. Our lives, our loving and our work is our testimony to peacemaking in our lives, family and community."

Children's camp at the Mountain Park Environmental Center
Dave is inspired to make a difference with children on the local level by having created an award winning environmental learning center at the Mountain Park Environmental Center in Beulah, Colorado, USA. The Center is in the middle of a clearing, surrounded by pine trees, in a very peaceful mountain setting. The whole Center has been planned environmentally friendly with things like "water-less" toilets, etc.

Helene, through her work coaching women in business and women on retreats, lives her values of peacemaking. Helene is a person you can talk to because she listens with her heart, which makes her the perfect retreat coach choice. The rooms at the Center have been decorated with the help of local artists and are a dream to stay in!

Women's retreat at Mountain Park Environmental Center

 Helene: "Women need more support for being successful at every level and in turn then make a difference in the lives of their children and everyone around them. Women need more support, for their health and self care as well as for their finances. As a Women’s Business Coach, I do this and more."

I first met Dave and Helene through their singing and music. Both inspiring and beautiful, their voices captured my heart as well my children's. We've listened to them sing about taking care of the earth, recycling and creating peace and more. Their music continues to have a positive influence in the lives of my grandchildren. That's a wonderful gift!

Click on this photo to hear samples of their songs

Helene and Dave also have a CD collection of adult Van Manen music to soothe your soul. Their newest release is Earth Chants ~ Earth Songs

I asked Helene one last thing...Can you give us some ideas on how each person can make their world a more peaceful place?
"Release and let go of any prejudices you have. Work on yourself and your inner life. Then in turn, look around at your family and your community and dig in and make a  difference where it is most needed."


interfaith thanksgiving service: unity is alive and well

The Fourth Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service presented by the Pikes Peak Inter-religious Clergy Alliance was held and hosted by Unity Church in the Rockies on Sunday November 20, 2010 in Colorado Springs, Colorado USA.

Stain glass at front of Unity Church alter

I was there among people of many faiths, cultures and lifestyles who gathered together in a small church on top of a hill in gratitude for the religious diversity of our city and the hope that diversity provides. To give thanks for our blessings and to share hope for a peaceful world. There was an air of warmth and acceptance throughout the program of which eight different faiths and churches shared their thoughts and beliefs on hope.

Lawrence Palmer of Unity Church, attending couple, Allison Hill representing the Baha'i Faith

Churches and Faiths represented:

The host church: Unity Church in the Rockies (Christianity)

Temple Shalom (Judaism)

Baha'i Faith (Baha'i)

First Congregational Church (Christianity)

Two interfaith charity organizations were featured:

Assists homeless families in the region.

Helping neighbors in need.

The Pikes Peak Peace and Justice Commission was also mentioned as a great resource in our community.

After the one hour program everyone gathered for a wonderful potluck feast and conversation.

It was announced that in February there will be a third "Evening in Jerusalem" meeting to be held at Colorado College.  The purpose of the "Evening in Jerusalem" series is to provide a safe, social environment for Jews, Christians, Muslims and people of other faith traditions to meet, make friends and develop interfaith service projects. For more information use the link above to The Pikes Peak Peace and Justice Commission.


no knead bread - healthy grain version

Feels like a good time for a food break!

Way back in April I mentioned I would post a multi-grain version of Jim Lahey's no-knead bread. Now that cold weather is back, I fired up the oven and worked out a version that I like. It doesn't have as much whole wheat, as the dough was too heavy to rise, but I did add some other good stuff to make up for it. It's moist and flavorful without being too "grainy". 

Adapted from Jim Lahey at the Sullivan Street Bakery via Mark Bittman at New York Times

Yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf

1 1/2 C. bread flour, a little more for dusting
1/2 C. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 C. soy flour
1/2 C. wheat bran
2 T. ground flaxseed meal
1/4 teaspoon plus a tad more, instant yeast
1 t. teaspoons salt
1 t. black pepper blend. I use an orange, ginger pepper mix
1/2 t. crushed rosemary
1/4 C. raw sunflower seeds, hulled
1/4 C. raw walnuts, chopped a bit fine
a blend of water and apple juice to make 1 5/8 cups - I use a little more than 1/2 C. juice
(Do not leave out the apple juice! It counters the slightly bitter flavor of the soy flour)

1. In a large bowl combine EVERYTHING but the water mixture. Add the water mixture, and stir gently until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. (my home was at 65 degrees)

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450°F. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pot once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.


art picks: it's a zen thing

Zafu Meditation Cushion Cover by Eclectic Armadillo

These works of art attract the zen in my soul. The simplicity of line, color and shape instantly calm me. Not to mention how wonderful it would be to decorate my space with every one of these fabulous finds!

Sumi-e Raven in a Tree by Brazen Design Studio

Blackened Ash Vessel by Green Leaf Wood Studio

Double Ancient Garden Screen by Red Grass Designs

February Visit by 88 Editions

Namaste Pebble by sj Engraving


devotion: it starts at home

Custom Family Rule Sign by Toe Fish Art

“If there is beauty in the person,
there will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house,
There will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
There will be peace in the world.”

ancient Chinese proverb


save the date: for human rights

Women in Congo
December 4-12

Please sign up for Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon, the world's largest letter writing event. Your words have power!

Amnesty International's twelve cases for letter writing.

Resources to help you write your letters.

If you are a blogger, check out Bloggers Unite!


in her words: the mandala magic of anat

Persian Priests Blessing Mandala

The mandala art of Anat Bar Shalom, of Mandalamagic1, is truly breath-taking! The meaning of her last name is "child of peace". Anat was born in Beer-Sheva, an ancient town from the bible, capital of the desert of Israel. (I had the honor of visiting Israel just a few years ago and hope to return one day.
) At my request she speaks about her art and shares her thoughts about peace below.

Air Element Butterfly Mandala

In her words: "I spent long periods living in nature. There, I learned to see the beauty of God's creation and appreciate the symmetry and harmony that exists everywhere around us, starting from the beauty of sunsets, flowers in their awesome shapes, the unbelievable color combination of forests, the colorful ocean and more. These days I'm fully connected to the sacred geometry and I see shapes and color combination in a meditative state of mind. All that's left for me to do is pass it on to the paper or canvas."

Native American Mandala

About Peace: "Peace is a very complicated word when you grow up in the Middle East! As Jewish, I always wanted to see the justice of the Palestinians together with the justice of the Israelies. We had many gatherings of Jewish-Muslim people that brought thousands of people together for a 3 days event where music was played, conversations were happening and the togetherness was so exciting! Unfortunately, those great gatherings faded away and now I only have the hope that one day all the people will understand that religion and borders are just an illusion that creates so much suffering and sorrow around the planet."

Cycle of Life Mandala
Description from her Etsy shop: In the Cycle of Life Mandala there are 5 hidden Stars of David within each other. They stand for birth, childhood, grown up, old age and death. In the middle, in blue and white we can see the cycle of the moon -it is the moon in the sky but also the inner moon in every one. If while the inner moon is dark, we will act out of love (אהבה), the moon will start to fill up and create inner peace (שלום), out of this we will develop happiness (אושר) that will lead us to abundance (שפע) when the moon is full. Out of abundance we will radiate light (אור) even when the moon is growing smaller. The light will create serenity (שלוה) that will lead us to the ultimate, unconditional love.

The first letters of the six words make the combination of fire in hebrew 3 times (אש), to remind us the need of the fire of life to make this cycle go. Around, we can see 6 pomegranats to symbolize abundance, hearts for love, flowers for growth and more "hidden" things for you to discover...

Earth Element Mandala

A mandala is a sanskrit (old indian language) word that means "A sacred circle".  Many ancient nations used mandalas for healing throughout the history. Observing or coloring a mandala works on our meditative brain waves and help us relax and calm down.

Anat also offers a wonderful selection of mandalas to color yourself


my bookshelf: material world

Material World: A Global Family Portrait
by Peter Menzel

What an interesting concept! Thirty families from thirty countries were photographed outside their home with all their worldly possessions laid out in front. I was fascinated with the full page photos and stories of each family.

Countries were chosen from the 183 United Nations membership (in 1993-1994) to reflect a cross-section of the world. A common method of choosing the families was to knock on neighborhood doors looking for typical families that fit the statistics the author was looking for.

Material World gave me, and the children in my life, a visual understanding of my fellow world citizens that few books or even some movies are able to do. Even though Material World was published in 1995, it still has a permanent place on my bookshelf!

Interesting link: NOVA PBS Science Programming

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