Mojo Monday

(PC Tina Masciarelli) Haywood Community College, campus arboreatum & dahlia garden. Mill Pond 1

The second installment of my Mojo Monday series is inspired by On Being and a recent blog post about sacred texts published in celebration of Earth Day. John Muir wrote, “When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.” This felt like a really big long magnificent breaking storm of a week where stars were colliding rather than shining together. Big highs (Earth Day 2016) and heartbreaking lows (death of a music legend, x2). This week I’m reflecting on places to play and places to pray—and why we need them both.

{one} music


Prince (from The Guardian)

The world was knocked slightly off its axis this week with the loss of two music legends and incredibly gifted guitarists—Prince and Lonnie Mack.

When news that Prince had passed away blew up my Twitter feed, I was shocked. His energy seemed so eternal. As the tributes and video clips flew around the Interwebs it was interesting to see how many folks were influenced by his music. One of the best performances that I saw was posted on Facebook by my friend, Brian Lewis. Here’s how he introduced it, “2004 Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame ceremony. Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, others, and, yes, that’s Prince. For the first couple minutes ‘My Guitar Gently Weeps’, Prince is strumming along almost as if he’s trying to find the simple chords Petty is leading with, but then watch the song completely transform at the 3:30 mark when Prince takes it to a whole new level and doesn’t give the song back until he’s wrung every last drop out of it. And of course, he heaves his guitar into the audience before walking off stage like the badass he was.” Now watch the clip.

More than the music, there was the man. Artist. Creative. Intellectual. Philanthropist. Tavis Smiley spoke out to share details about his longtime friendship with the legend. It reminded me that we all have different versions of our own story. There is the version that the outside world sees. The snapshot. The loud and obvious parts. The self that we dress up and take out for a ride. And then there is the version that we are to ourselves and those close to us. The meaning-makers, the vulnerable side.

Seeing this play out in the media this week reminded me that we all have flip sides to the same coin. Remembering that about others can help keep judgement in check while also inspiring humility in our own lives. That realization felt important to me this week.

Lonnie Mack, a blues-rock pioneer who is said to have influenced an entire generation of guitarists like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Duane Allman, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards, also died this week.

Regardless of the genre of music I listened to over the last few days, I caught myself tuning in closely to the guitar. Whatever happens in that afterlife space, I want to believe that one hell of a jam session went on this week.

RIP, play on sirs. 

{two} community

One of my local farmers markets reopened for the season—with vegetable & herb starts, baked goods, local meats, eggs, honey, milk, shrubs, handmade items and even worm tea. I’ve never been so happy to see our farmers, growers and producers! (My kids reminded me that I say that at the start of market season every year. Glad to know my obsessions are consistent.)

Support of local agripreneurs keeps farms viable and preserves access to local products while protecting farmland and the rural character of the region.

I also completed Buy Haywood’s Find your Adventure! 2016 Agritourism Guide and sent that project off to the printer. Very excited to launch the next twelve months of promoting Haywood County farmers, growers and producers!

{three} Ensaladilla Rusa

IMG_0382Herbs are planted, spring crops are coming up, lettuces are growing in pots on my patio and my farmer tribe is back at market. I couldn’t be more excited to be in the kitchen! I came by some fresh spring peas this week. I also noticed several dill plants coming up volunteer in the footpaths of my Potager garden (of course they needed to come out and eaten right away). Hmmm, what to do? We had plenty of sunshine, good friends, great music and local beer on the calendar with absolutely no desire for a big fuss and muss menu. How about tapas! Small plates, big flavors. My husband helped write the recipe inspired by one of his favorite dishes from when he lived in Spain. Tapas are built on passion and instinct, two things I can immediately relate to.

The sweet spring peas and my own garden fresh dill perfectly complimented smoky piquillo peppers that my husband had in the pantry. We also used Greek yogurt and extra virgin olive oil (to cut the heavy mayonnaise feel). Here’s the recipe!

Ensaladilla Rusa


3 lbs red potatoes, peeled, boiled and diced
1 lb organic baby carrots, boiled and diced
8 oz baby spring peas, blanched
5 oz Piquillo peppers, drained and roughly chopped (1/2 jar)
1 celery stalks, finely diced
1 cup diced green onion, appox 3 stalks with green & white parts
Lime juice from 1 lime
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
3  Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more or less for desired texture and flavor
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
Salt & pepper to taste
Paprika, for garnish


  • Prepare the potatoes and carrots. I love using Ina Garten’s method, they come out perfectly cooked every time! Here’s how she does it: Place the potatoes (and carrots) and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes and carrots in a colander, then place the colander with the mixture over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow the potatoes and carrots to steam for 15 to 20 minutes. 
  • Blanch the green peas for 3 minutes in boiling salted water, shock in an ice water bath to stop cooking.
  • In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Chill until ready to serve.
  • Dash with paprika. Serve & enjoy!

**We served this dish with lamb sliders made with local ingredients. Small enough to be finger food but hearty enough for a meal.**

{four} contemplate & reflect

BenchEarth Day is well known as a day of action. Activists around the world come together in neighborhoods, town squares, schools, universities, Main Streets and forgotten streets to rally for environmental protection and conservation. This year, it felt more timely for my family to celebrate by slowing down and quietly reflecting on the state of things. Going full speed as an activist holds power. I’ve been there. But there is something equally powerful about slowing down, treading gently, looking for tiny signs of possibility found in a sanctuary built and preserved by the optimism of others. Read more about the Corneille Bryan Native Garden.

On this particular visit, I happened to notice a tiny moss in bloom. The little flowers looked like white star bursts hovering over the carpet of green. I must have sat on that same bench a hundred times and never noticed it before. Once we got home, my husband pointed out that the same moss, blooming, is also growing between the stones on our patio. Go figure.

Slowing down, taking stock, sitting quietly can be a powerful act of reclamation amid life in a hyper-connected digitally stimulating world.

{five} places to play


French Broad River Greenway

Whether you live in a city or the country, taking time to play can be very restorative. Run. Walk. Bike. Frolic. Letting your spirit loose in the fresh air, mixing with complete strangers, can be invigorating.

{six} sunsets & good friends

Now that the days are longer and the evenings warm, I really enjoy spending leisurely time with my favorite people on the weekends. My go-to party? Host a sunset potluck. Everyone brings something to share and the burden doesn’t fall on the hostess.


I love intimate garden parties! It is a great reason to pull your outdoor living spaces together for YOU to enjoy all season long. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Your space can be as simple as a quilt and some comfy pillows under a shade tree, local libations, good food, great people and a sunset. You’d be surprised how Zen that feels.

Take outdoor living to the next level with a dedicated eating and lounging area. Inexpensive furniture is sold everywhere now—from hardware stores to Target. Tag sales can also be a great place to score inexpensive decor.

Don’t have room to roam? No problem! Find a community space to party…the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway…a nearby river or lake…a community park. The point is to bring together the people who add meaning to your life. The location is just window dressing.

{seven} ENO life

FullSizeRender(1)When the sun goes down, hanging from a tree is still my favorite activity.Whether the kids are home or it is just my husband and I, waiting for the sun to fall is the most relaxing time of the week.

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the national parks. While the official “birth date” falls on August 25, there is no time like the present to get your “outdoor groove” on! Grab an ENO and flashlight and hit the trails.

You can find single and double ENO nests at many outdoor retailers or online. Add a string of lights and you’ve taken R&R to the next level. Bird song, spring peepers, setting sun. What stress?

Places to Play and Places to Pray

More and more I realize that a wildly rich and balanced life is one with time to play and let your spirit run…and time to slow down, take deep breaths and notice the little things. Beauty is both in the frolic of a child (inner and otherwise) and in the reflective time where the smallest things stand out brilliantly. That is full, bold living in my book.

Happy week all! I’d love to hear what inspired living is for you, both big and small.


**All photos taken with my iPhone, Nikon 5100 or as noted**