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When author and illustrator Eric Carle grew up in Nazi Germany, his art teacher revealed a secret trove of forbidden paintings he had stashed away for safekeeping. “Degenerate” this style of art was called, with its playful brushstrokes, whimsical colors, and exaggerated proportions. Abstract art was to be shunned and destroyed during this dark period in history. And, art teachers were only allowed to teach realistic art. But, as Carle studied one painting of an innocuous blue horse, he was awestruck by the image stretched across the canvas. It stirred his soul and later inspired the classic tale of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and more recently, his book The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse. 

Artwork and stories have a powerful way of giving us wings. Through our imagination, we can sail to the moon in a wooden shoe or dive deep into the sea to hunt for gold doubloons. We can travel to fantastical lands filled with glittery wood nymphs and fairies or discover uncharted planets inhabited by aliens. Through story, we can become a ballerina, study ancient pyramids or even throw the first pitch at the World Series. Heroes and heroines, cliffhangers and comedies, romance and dramas, with each subtle plot twist or turn, the imagery in our mind takes on a life of its own. Whether fantasy, sci-fi, fiction, or true story, as we imagine each scene in living color, a spark ignites, creativity unlocks, and dominoes of possibility fall into place. 

When creativity is unleashed, we can access solutions and explore new ideas. We can dream up witty inventions, and solve world problems. Emancipated from coloring inside the lines, we soon realize that if a blue horse is possible, then anything is possible for us too! 

You can read more about the power of imagination over at ILLUMINE - Vol. 1 and, as you pore over the words and soak up the art in this inaugural volume, we hope that through the back door of imagination, creativity expands. 

- Doreen Grace
Illumine Art Director & Acquisitions Editor

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Year-End Reflections

As the year draws to a close, and we reflect on our accomplishments to clarify our vision for the year ahead and set new goals, it's tempting to focus on the gap between where we are and where we want to be, especially if the past year didn't go quite as we had planned. 

I had planned to finish another book this year then try to find a good home for it. 

I feel a wave of sadness as I write that sentence. Last February, we came home from a two-week vacation to find our new house flooded with 119,000 gallons of water from a broken pipe under the kitchen sink. We then spent half the year living in a hotel during the restoration. Sure, it was nice to redecorate and get some new stuff, and we met a lot of wonderful people along the way. But, it definitely wasn't the way I had hoped to kick off the New Year. 

I did eventually finish the manuscript I was working on like I had planned, but I didn't close the book deal with that agent I was working with, although I got really close this time. 

Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul series and a success coach says, "N
o matter how “bad” you believe this year has been, I guarantee it has been better than you think. And no matter how much (or little) you think you’ve accomplished in the past twelve months, I guarantee you’ve achieved more than you know!" 

Canfield goes on to list several accomplishments to take stock in during your year-end evaluation process that I hadn't considered:

·       Successfully dealt with an unexpected challenge
·       Experienced pure joy
·       Lifted someone else up
·       Cleaned up a “mess” in your life
·       Dared to dream big
·       Felt deep peace and contentment
·       Made the world just a little bit better in some way 
"By taking stock of these moments, you remind yourself that THIS is the kind of person you are -- and that these are the experiences you want MORE of in your life!"  - Jack Canfield

Canfield's words flipped my glass from half empty to half-full. I suddenly realized just how much I have accomplished this past year. And, instead of time wasted, I see growth.


Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, & Happy New Year!

Oyster Mushroom Quinoa

It came in a box. We peeled back the perforated panel and cut slits into the plastic liner, just like they said. We removed the inner block, scraped through the paste, and immersed the particle wood face down in a bowl of water to activate the spores. The package said to let it soak for six hours. But, we accidentally forgot about it until the next morning. We placed the slab back inside its cardboard case and spritzed the cavernous hole with a water mister every time we passed by.

At first, the blooms were grey and scary, like something you'd rather squirt with bleach if you found it in the shower. But then, the tiniest little footstools began to take shape. About ten days passed and new growth began to slow. 

We began to dream of what we would make ...

The flavor of oyster mushrooms is beyond the best! 

(I used to hate mushrooms as a kid so my mom might be surprised to read this.)

Oyster Mushroom Quinoa Recipe

  • 1 Cup Quinoa 
  • 2 Cups Water 
  • 2 Tablespoons Parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Stipe Length of Chopped Oyster Mushrooms
  • 1 Cup Chopped Portobello Mushrooms
  • 4 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • 5 Sliced Green Onion Shoots
1. In a medium pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then add 1 cup quinoa. Add salt and parsley as water comes to a boil. Cover with a lid and turn heat to low, then simmer for 15 minutes. 
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Chop mushrooms and dice garlic, then add to heated pan. Saute on medium for 3 minutes, stirring with a spatula. Cover with a lid and cook for 7 minutes more, stirring occasionally. (If there is still fluid in the pan, cook uncovered for a couple of extra minutes.) Add half the green onions and stir for one minute more. 
3. Place quinoa in a large serving bowl then, add the mushroom mixture on top. Sprinkle with remaining green onions. Salt and pepper to taste.

Bon Appetite!

• Makes 2 entree servings or 4 side dish servings.

The Oyster Mushroom Kit was something we picked up at a local market but, it can also be found here.

.: Vegan
.: Healthy
.: Organic
.: Vegetarian
.: Non-GMO