Plan a “Kuku” picnic with tips & recipes from the Persian holiday Nowruz

Newroz celebration in Istanbul. Photo by Bertil Videt.

The first picnic of the year is a thing of beauty: tender daffodils and hyacinths poking through last season's dusty, yellowed grass. Herbs getting bushy and fragrant. The air is cool, but the sun is warm. If you're looking for an excuse to get outside and celebrate, you're in luck: the Persian New Year, known as Nowruz, is the time to do it. But before you scope out a sunny patch of grass, there are a few things you should know. Why Nowruz? Sure, you could just plunk down a blanket and … [Read more...]

Make Saint Patrick’s Day even better: pour a mug of Guinness…cake!

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Your friends are about to come over for your annual Saint Patty's Day bash. They're expecting the corned beef and cabbage, the glittery green shamrocks on walls and hats alike. They're even expecting frosty mugs of beer. But they might not be expecting a cake they can "drink." We've been down this road before: ultra moist Guinness Chocolate Cake with Bailey's Buttercream. But this year I gave the recipe a festive spin by serving it in a frosty beer mug. Not to worry -- this isn't about … [Read more...]

Easy DIY Sushi Doll for a fun Doll’s Day celebration

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We grow out of playing with dolls. We bury their plastic limbs in toy boxes - boxes that are now covered in dust or long-since donated. Some even say dolls are for babies. But this is simply not true -- dolls are powerful symbols, and the Japanese festival called Doll's Day (a.k.a. Hina Matsuri) is a great example of how they can be used to celebrate heritage and the art of letting go. A Display of Heritage Doll's Day starts in February, when families display their dolls in a special spot, … [Read more...]

7 Russian Dishes Worth Celebrating

Julia Lipnitskaia, Russian figure skater. Photo by David W. Carmichael. Gold medal winner Stefan Groothuis during his race. Photo by M. Smelter.

Frankly, I'm embarrassed by the press' coverage of the Olympics - it feels like the popular kids ganging up on the 'outsiders'. While I don't expect everything in the press to be all to be sunshine and rainbows, mean-spirited articles and blog posts whose primary goal has been to "poke fun" of the culture and people is a failure - a total disregard for the true purpose of the Olympics. We deserve more. They deserve better. The Olympics are a time to step up and celebrate each other - our … [Read more...]

Cook a “5 senses” Valentine’s Day Dinner with these world-wise tips

A older couple in love

While I love my husband dearly, there are times that our love feels so comfortable I'm at risk for taking him for granted. But then I smell some garlic frying in oil, maybe some tomato sauce bubbling on the stovetop, and I know he's making me pasta for dinner. It's nothing complicated - a simple gesture, really - but I know in that moment he loves me. Food, prepared with care, is the meaningful gesture that can fix  just about everything, especially an in-the-rut relationship. To me, … [Read more...]

I have a mother

Photo by

In celebration of "Tell the Truth Day", I want to tell you about something that happened to me a few minutes ago. I was looking at a photo of a little girl sleeping in the outline she drew of her "mother," tears streaming down my cheeks. Maybe you saw it, maybe you didn't. For those whose hearts were also broken today by the photo, thinking this small child was an orphan, please read this statement by the photographer Bahareh Bisheh : "This little girl is my cousin and she actually fell … [Read more...]

Martin Luther King’s Radical Notion: Extreme Peace

Betsy Graves Reyneau, 1888-1964, Artist

Thanks to this blog many well-meaning, genuinely curious people ask me: "Do you really think peace is possible?" They say "really" with those drawn out vowels that mean they think I'm either a) ignorant or b) naive. When I sit and think about it, I realize they're right, on both counts. I am ignorant. When I was in eighth grade, my class went on a trip to Greece. One night while we were there, an explosion shook the very foundation of our hotel. In the midst of the chaos, the rumor-mill … [Read more...]

5 Secrets to Springtime in January, thanks to the Hindu Harvest Festival

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You know that old saying, "It's 5 o'clock somewhere"? Well the same can be said of springtime. Even while ice and and snow pummel the northern hemisphere and hot days sizzle in the southern, there are plenty of people celebrating springtime in India and other South Asian countries... Yes, in January. After the wild hair seventy degree day we had a couple of days ago, Ava and I were ready to say goodbye to winter, too. So how do we get there? This January 14 marks Makar Sankranti, the … [Read more...]