Behind the scenes: How to take beautiful pictures

Thursday, May 30, 2013

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In a world filled with blogging professionals, Pinterest specialists and touched up photos, art born from such different venues amazes the spectator, but unfortunately also increases our own feelings of inappropriateness. It makes us feel as if we are the only person wearing pajamas standing in the middle of a formal dress up party, like the ugly duck in the pond.

Reality is already subjective, and the internet has the power to further transform reality into a shiny blur of real life. The one we wish we had, and maybe we do have, but not always that perfect or through those special lens. 

And yet, no artist hangs his pictures so that people may stare at the back of the frame, because even though we all know that every frame and that every piece of art has a back, we rather not see it. We don't want to see the "behind the scenes", the structure that actually holds the beauty on its arms. We seek beauty.

However, there is no beauty without the structure, no art without the messy brushes, no Pinterest project without the unpublished trial paths that led to the final product. And finally, no life story without the back of the frame. Where the nails were pierced, the canvas cloth teared, the fibers stretched to the bone. The structure that holds beauty.

I turn to the number one best seller book in the history of the world, where one can read about beauty but also about the back of the frame. The entire picture, the beauty we seek, and the "behind the scenes" we rather not think about. The story of a Savior that showed that the path to glory and beauty passes through the pierced nails, the teared skin and the stretched arms. 

"Behind the scenes" is what feeds beauty. Art is complete when all the "behind the scenes" moments have ran their course. The life that produces the most beauty is the one that accumulates more "behind the scenes". 

And when the nails are too sharp, the tears too deep and the bones about to break, I am reminded to imagine what lays on the other side of the canvas, about to be uncovered in Eternity. 

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Savor your veggies: how to help kids eat healthy foods

Friday, May 3, 2013

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Healthy eating can be done in two different ways: Out of fear of disease, gulping down as many recommended ingredients as possible, hoping that the magic concoction will delete any possible disease from our hardware; or out of pleasure, a deep belief that fresh, wholesome and pure ingredients taste better. 

The first option creates stress, guilt feelings and the fear that perfection may never be reached. The second option relaxes the body, turns cooking and eating into a creative and joyful experience, and does not seek anything else besides living in the moment and savoring every bite.

The table is the sacred place where the tablecloth warms the room, the beautiful china rests next to the full set of silverware. There is soft music in the background, my favorite: Chopin. The meal is not rushed. A fresh serving of vegetables or salad makes its appearance first, before any eyes see the main dish. Why to set dishes for competition and blur their unique appeal?

The boys practice with their eating utensils. How to hold the fork and the knife does not come naturally but as walking and talking, it is a process, not a goal. As well tasting each and every ingredient, because it takes time to tune ones palate to different flavors, an ever ending journey of discovery.

However, how to navigate all this romanticized dinner experience inside a culture that values speed and results? It helps the process when one day of the week is set aside to chop and steam, or roast ingredients, maybe fresh out of the farmers market, like broccolis, mushrooms, zucchinis, peas, corn, kale, sweet potatoes and even some fish and chicken. While some ingredients soften to the steam, there is plenty of time to wash and chop into individual containers, herbs like basil, parsley and cilantro, and succulent cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. It does not hurt to go ahead and chop also enough for the week: onions, carrots and garlic. 

The result is a refrigerator full of fresh and ready to use ingredients for the week just waiting for creativity spikes. Special names written at the menu entice the children: "Rainbow in a Bowl", for some cooked grains like rice, buckwheat or quinoa with favorite toppings. "Wrap the Power Burrito", with the leftover grain, some beans and the previously prepared vegetables. The options are endless: "Omelette to the Rescue", "Planetarium Pizza", "Treasure Dive Soup", and more. 

It does not hurt to finish with a pleasant dessert like baked apples with some sugar and cinnamon or yogurt with frozen red fruits. Real foods that create real experiences.

When meals are restricted to the table, including the snack time, there is conscious eating, focused on every bite, not multitasked. There is healthy eating, yes, but that is not the goal, it is the consequence. 

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