The last two days have been filled with preparations and celebrations for my awesome little(r) sister Katie. Every year I try to bake something a little extra special for the occasion. In the past there have been mint chocolate chip cupcakes, cookie dough cupcakes and (a not-so-successful attempt at) marshmallow-stuffed chocolate chip cookies. This year I was leaning toward another attempt at marshmallow goodness when I came across this ring ding recipe from Smitten Kitchen.
Now, I don’t know about you guys, but ring dings were a pretty big deal for Katie and I when we were growing up. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to recreate the delicious treat. It was quite a process, and I admit I need some work injecting icing into cake, but the result was pretty tasty.
Mmm mmm good.
Today my mom and aunt were coming into town for a birthday lunch with Katie, which meant some cleaning had to be done. However, I was able I get in some yoga time between baking and dusting.
Last night I opted to do a gratitude meditation before bed, thinking of everyone and everything I am thankful for in my life, and when I was done I sat and repeated a mantra of “Grateful” for a few minutes. This I the first time I’ve done this before bed and I have to say, it was a great way to end the day and clear the mind before getting into bed.
This morning I did my own personal practice, which included a flow of sun salutations and hip and hamstring stretches. Basically whatever I felt my body needed. I finished up with a little handstand practice and then I was ready to start my day.
Now it’s time to continue the birthday celebration! It’s hard to believe tomorrow is day 30. Time flies!
This morning I woke up feeling groggy, a combination of working until 1am and the head cold that came to visit yesterday. The last thing I wanted to do was turn myself upside down in downward dog when my head felt ready to explode sitting right-side up. So I decided to take it easy on myself and go back to my quick favorite Opening to Hanumanasana with Adi on Yoga Today (though, you’ll notice if you click the link that I actually do this practice on YouTube). Even though this class is only 25 minutes, it is full of juicy hip openers (which, if you couldn’t tell by now, I love!) and, more importantly today, not too much upside-down time. It had been a while since I’d done this one, and as much as I love it, I always dread the pose where you are in a sort of super wide pigeon, with your foot rolled to the outside. I used to have the worst time with that pose, especially on my right side. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it didn’t make me want to cry or punch someone today. I’m letting things go guys!
I spent the afternoon working on an online training to become a volunteer tax preparer, which was my favorite project in AmeriCorps and something I’ve wanted to get back into for a long time. When I got home, I was hungry but still had some work to do before I made dinner, so I decided to roast some chickpeas. This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but for some reason I never have–odd, since I always have several cans in the house at all times. Anyway, I did a quick search on the googs and discovered the blog How Sweet It Is which devoted an entire post to roasting the little ‘banzos! Excellent. I followed her method and decided to go with rosemary, garlic powder and salt for my maiden voyage of making what is sure to be one of my new favorite snax.
All ready to go in the oven!
As you can probably see from the second photo, they ended up a little, shall we say, well done. However, my good friends will tell you that I tend to prefer things on the crispier side, so I was ok with it. Next time, I either won’t keep them in so long or will lower the temperature of the oven. However the flavor was great and they were a perfect crispy treat to tide me over until I was finished reviewing filing statuses.
And now it’s time for a little dinner, movie and early bed time to get rid of this cold once and for all! I’ve got a lot of upside-downing ahead of me tomorrow. 🙂
For the last few days, I’ve been in Harrisburg visiting the man-friend. We have been on the go non-stop! Cut down a Christmas tree, got decorations, and made a ton of food. In the middle of it all, I’ve managed to squeeze in some handstand practice using the tips I learned at the Inversion workshop on Friday. Yesterday I was able to stay up off of the wall for a few seconds! Feels good to make progress.
I don’t have much time, but I wanted to share yesterday’s recipe: Butternut Squash chili! It turned out really well, although it could have definitely been spicier. Also, next time I will add Cous Cous, as that helps to thicken it up and give veggie chili that meaty texture you get from ground beef. I found the recipe on Pinterest, but you can find the actual website here.
Of course where there is chili, there has to be corn bread, right? Who better to get a recipe from than one Ms. Paula Deen. Check it out! Usually I veganize recipes like this, but since the man-friend already had buttermilk on hand, I decided to use it. However, an easy way to make vegan buttermilk is simply adding 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per one cup of soy milk and let stand for 10 minutes–easy!
Time to try my hand at eggplant parm for the first time. I hope you all had a great weekend!
I’ve made it to the half-way point of my 30-Day Challenge! Already I feel a million times better than I did on Day 1 (that is a technical measurement). Now that my practice is pretty much back to where it used to be, I feel as though I can finally get back to goals that I had set for myself a while back. One of those goals was to attain a full Hanumanasana, or split pose.
Not me…my hair is curly…
Since I have been noticing greater flexibility in my hammies, I decided to choose a practice that would stretch and lengthen my hip flexors, which are extremely important factor in whether or not you can do Hanumanasana. I chose Lunging into Freedom from Yoga Today. It is a shorter practice, and feels even shorter because she includes a guided savasana in there (often they will lead you into savasana and then advise you to stay for 5-10 minutes) but man, was it effective. Some of the lunges (including lizard pose) were extremely intense and had me focusing on my breath to get through them. Yet, unlike some hip-focused classes, this one was quite balanced, with plenty of vinyasas to get in a bit of upper body strengthening and bridge poses to clear the hips after the deep lunging. Next up, I’ll choose a class that includes Hanumanasana to see if I’ve made any progress!
Yoga Snax Remix: Remember this scrumptious treat that I wrote about last year? Well I was really in the mood for some avocado toast today, so I made quick work of toasting some good 7-grain bread and mashing a perfectly ripe avocado…only to realize I didn’t have any lemons or limes! It crossed my mind to just salt the avo and put it on the bread, but that seemed boring. I scanned my kitchen cabinets, saw the balsamic vinegar and was reminded of the awesome bruschetta I shared with my best friend last week at Eataly. So with that inspiration, I drizzled a little balsamic over the avocado-blanketed toast (rather than mixing it in with the avocado like I would the lemon–a little balsamic goes a long way, trust me) and I have to say–it was pretty delicious. Creamy avocado mixed with a little salt was nicely complimented by the sweet balsamic. Give it a try some time!
I may not have blogged yesterday, but that doesn’t mean that I forgot to practice. I had to catch a bus to Philadelphia in the morning, so it was this handy-dandy Yoga Today practice for me. It ended up being a great mix of hip openers and strengthening core and arm balances. There is a misconception that you have to be super strong arms to accomplish arm balances, but in fact, a strong core is really the key; Neesha’s inclusion of knee-to-nose planks and navasana (boat pose) were not only strengthening, but also got the core muscles firing, making it easier to tap into that strength when it came time for the arm balances. However, I especially needed the hip openers since I had a long bus ride ahead of me.
Today’s challenge was finding time to practice. As I said, I’m in Philadelphia for the weekend with the man-friend, who so kindly invited me to join him on his work trip. Since he didn’t have to work until later, we had a long, leisurely brunch at a restaurant called Farmicia, which turned out to be an amazing recommendation from my friend Lindsay. We feasted (not an understatement) on baked Brie, french toast with apple-cherry compote and a mexican omelette with potatoes, after which our waiter had to roll us out the door. So. Good.
After that, the man-friend had to go to work, which would have provided a perfect time to do yoga….except that too much food had happened. I was also torn because the Jets game is on, and for those of you who know me, know that the NFL is a fall sunday staple for me. So what to do? I made a pretty fair (if I do say so) compromise: I watched the first half of the game, and then found this 30-minute practice from Sarah on Yoga Today to do during halftime (and a little bit of the 3rd quarter).
Just a few notes on this practice: There is a lot of intense hip-opening, which is necessary to prepare for Bird of Paradise pose in under thirty minutes, but was a little too intense for someone like me who has very tight hips. I was also having an off-day concentration-wise (which I think can also be a symptom of squeezing in your yoga practice rather than having a time carved out for it). But overall, it’s a good practice when you’re short on time.
Alright guys–that’s it for today! Time to go enjoy more of Philadelphia on this fine Sunday (i.e. head to a bar to watch the afternoon games :))