Monthly Archives: August 2011

Tea time…

Aug 31, 2011 // by admin // Blog, food, tea // No Comments

Anybody that knows me knows that I am not a coffee drinker. I’ve never been a fan of the taste; and despite having the occasional mocha latte, I usually stay away from any type of coffee or espresso. However, I can almost always be found carrying a cup of tea – no matter what time of year – and one of the cabinets in my office at work is filled with a variety of teas so I can fulfill almost any craving. And I’m always looking for new teas to try. This morning I decided to try two new teas, one that was recommended to me, the other that I selected on a whim because it looked good.

Numi Velvet Garden White Rose – a blend of Fair Trade Certified organic White Tea and organic Rose Buds

I have to say this is probably going to become one of my new go to teas. For as much as I love black tea, in the last couple years, I have taken a liking to white tea. It has a lighter flavor and the least amount of caffeine of all tea varieties (on average 15 mg for white, 25 mg for green, and 47-60 for black tea). Just don’t steep it too long, over-steeping causes bitterness in the tea. Given that I am prone to anxiety, the less caffeine that I drink the better. And I have always loved flowery teas – rose, hibiscus, dandelion. I just love the taste. This tea is the perfect combination of flavors, I love the blend of the white tea and rose buds. It’s light, aromatic, and soothing. The hint of caffeine is also a nice pick-me-up at the end of a long morning or in the middle of the afternoon. I do not have a stockpile of this tea yet, but I expect that after my next visit to the grocery store, I will.

Teekanne Herbal Wellness Tea – Energizing in Raspberry Refresh – a blend of hibiscus, blackberry leaves, rosehips, raspberry leaf, spearmint, lemongrass, Siberian ginseng, red clover, and natural raspberry flavor

Okay, so I’m not so fond of the “natural raspberry flavor” that is in the ingredient list, but I do have to say, this tea does taste delicious and carries on the theme of my love for flowery teas. This one is a fruity, flowery tea and completely herbal. It’s a good pick me up too. It’s actually a little tart, I’m not sure if that comes from the natural flavor or the blackberry and raspberry leaves, but it’s good and I love the tartness. I wasn’t looking for a sweet tasting tea and the tartness of this really hit the spot. It’s a great alternative to caffeinated tea, especially for days when I’m already a little bit stressed out. Caffeine adds to the anxiety, while this just provides a nice hot flavorful beverage. I’ve got a stock of this in my cabinet already and think I probably will keep it that way for a while.

I love having tea time and love trying new teas. These are two teas that I definitely enjoy for very similar and different reasons. I look forward to continuing to try new teas and reporting back periodically on how I like them.

Are there any tea varieties that you love that you think I should try? Do you prefer loose leaf varieties or tea pouches?

The Versatile Blogger Award

Aug 30, 2011 // by admin // Blog, creativity, Uncategorized, writing // 4 Comments

Receiving awards is always fun. My yogini friend, Christine, from my 200 hour yoga teacher training recently awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award. Being me, I did a little digging trying to figure out who thought of this award and when it was first given out. The origin of the award is very much a mystery, but at its heart, is the desire to help your blog readers learn more about you and to recognize and share recently discovered blogs.

My friend Christine - YogaTwistOnLife (photo credit: Gleam Photography)

Christine and I met during our level 1 teacher training (the first 33 hours of the 200 hour certification). Christine started her blog at the beginning of our teacher training journey and is now a very much seasoned blogger. It’s been fun watching her blog evolve from a journal about our teacher training experiences to a forum for sharing insights on her travels and hobbies, and tidbits about the practice and teaching of yoga. I’m honored that Christine awarded me with this award and I’m happy to pass it on to others who are just as deserving.

Here are the Official Rules of the Award.

  1. Thank the award-giver(s) and link back to them in your post.
  2. Tell your readers seven (7) things about yourself.
  3. Give this award to up to fifteen (15) recently discovered bloggers.
  4. Contact those bloggers and let them in on the exciting news.

Seven things about me (that you won’t learn from the “about lisa” page on my website)…

  1. I’m a certified public accountant, licensed in four jurisdictions – the Commonwealth of Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the states of Maryland and New York. I have four active licenses because when I worked in public accounting, I had to have a license in the state of my home office and the jurisdictions that my audit clients were located in.
  2. I was my sister’s maid of honor. I’ll never forget receiving the call from my sister, while I was on vacation in the Bahamas that she and my brother-in-law got engaged. I was so excited for her. And three days later, she asked me to be her maid of honor, which of course I said yes to. I have always been happy that I was able to be part of my sister’s special day. It’s a day that I don’t think I will ever forget.
  3. I love olives – any kind: regular, oil-cured, kalamata, manzanilla, etc. You name them, and I eat them. Growing up (and who are we kidding, not much has changed), I could make meals out of olives. My dad would put out a bowl for guests and I would be told to wait until the guests arrived. When I was a kid, my grandfather taught me to put regular black olives on my finger tips and then to eat them off of my fingertips. So, I love olives. And yes, I love olive oil, too, for cooking and dipping bread into.
  4. I’m a pescatarian. Despite the fact that I eat vegetarian the majority of the time and also enjoy some vegan meals, when I made the decision to eat vegetarian, I didn’t want to give up fish. I found that it was really red meats, poultry, and pork that would make me feel sluggish after eating them. Fish didn’t have the same effect, and so, I didn’t stop eating it. I also happen to be a lover of sushi. Now all that being said, I mostly eat vegetarian and only have fish once or twice a month (and usually in some kind of sushi style preparation).
  5. I’m a brother… at least that’s what I am in my professional business fraternity, we are all brothers there. My fraternity was founded in 1904 as an all men’s business fraternity. In 1976, after Title IX became law, the fraternity voted to allow women to join, making Alpha Kappa Psi, a co-ed professional business fraternity. Although the issue of what to call women has been a recurring topic at our biennial Chapter Congress meeting, women continue to be called “brothers”. This is part of the tradition and I’m in support of that tradition never changing.
  6. I ran cross country my sophomore year of high school. For a long time I thought I wanted to be a runner, and so, after ankle surgery the summer of 1993, I decided that I would give running a try and joined the cross-country team. I ran that fall and then decided to give track a try the following spring. I determined that running wasn’t my thing and went back to the dance studio to take more tap lessons.
  7. I’ve had two surprise birthday parties thrown for me – for my 20th and 30th birthdays. Both were thrown by my family and friends and I was clueless about both. Who knows what exciting things will be planned for my 40th birthday, but there’s no need to start considering that for another 6 years.

I think that ‘s probably more than just 7 things about me, since I can’t just write a list, I have to have commentary on each one. I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about me. And now the real exciting part, passing the honor along to others, so without further ado, the Versatile Blogger award goes to:

  • Virya Vinyasa by Jes Hrivnak, the journey of how a type A personality learns to love Bakasana face-plants
  • The Vegan Season by Lindsay Boyd, a blog all about vegan eating
  • Adventures in Vegetarianism by Miriam Miller, a blog about the exploration of vegetarian cooking – from kitchen to restaurants in DC and around the country

For other blogs that I like and that inspire me, check out the Yoga Resources page on my website.

Knitting up a storm

Aug 28, 2011 // by admin // Blog, creativity, knitting, meditation, Yoga // No Comments

my size 19 bamboo knitting needles from ChiaoGoo

I learned how to knit when I was about 10 years old from my mother’s mother, my grandmother. For as long as I can remember, she would always have a pair of knitting needles or a crochet hook and yarn with her almost everywhere she went. I have several afghans that she knitted or crocheted over the years. And at 89, you will continue to find her crocheting – mostly baby blankets for my nephews. I didn’t do much with knitting after the summer that she taught me, but I did remember bits and pieces of what she told me.

In 2009, I had a desire to pick up knitting again. I bought a “teach yourself how to knit” kit, some yarn, and a few extra needles to get started. That year, I completed one project and started one, which was put down shortly after starting it. Whatever I thought knitting would do for me, it wasn’t doing, so I just stopped. In 2010, while I was preparing to go up to NJ for the holidays, I decided that I might as well bring my knitting stuff with me. Afterall, I would be in NJ for a week, staying at my condo alone. And when I wasn’t visiting with family and friends, I would need something to do, that did not involve eating, shopping, or watching TV. It turned out to be a very smart decision.

While I was visiting New Jersey over Christmas, a blizzard (or near blizzard) decided to come for a visit dumping 5 to 6 feet of snow on us. Needless to say, I was condo-bound for a couple days and needed something to do – that wasn’t eating or watching TV, and reading wasn’t on the top of my to do list. It was the perfect opportunity for me to try knitting again. I found my knitting groove that week. I managed to finish 1 unfinished project and complete 2 short scarves from start to finish. When I was no longer condo-bound, I went out and bought a bunch more yarn to bring back to DC with me.

I got back to DC and the year of the scarf started. I decided that many of the important women in my life would be getting a handmade scarf in 2011. In general, I’ve always felt that there are few things better than receiving a handmade gift.  You can visually see and emotionally feel the thought that went into the gift. A handmade gift may not cost a lot of money, but in my years of giving handmade gifts know, they generally take a lot of time. The giving of time to make the gift is what makes it difficult to put a price on a handmade gift and makes it so special. The year of the scarf started by making scarves for my mother and sister for their birthdays. They were the first 3 scarves that I made in 2011.  I had a lot of fun making the scarves and the act of knitting was very calming and relaxing. Seeing how much my mom and sister liked the scarves when I gifted them cemented why I wanted to keep making and giving them away.

Lion Brand Yarn (clockwise from top left): Fun Fur Orchid, Fun Fur Prints Tropical, Homespun 329 Waterfall

A few weeks into the new year, I started my yoga teacher training and I was the knitting yogini. Training was held almost every weekend (Saturday and Sunday) from February through mid-April. And I would bring my knitting with me to the yoga studio. It was almost guaranteed that you could find me in the yoga studio’s tea lounge for almost an hour every morning of training – knitting. And during the week between training weekends, I would pull out my knitting to help me relax. Over the course of my 200 hr certification, I completed 13 scarves and 2 wraps.  I found that I would get lost in my knitting. It was like sitting in meditation.

I’m still only at a point where I knit and pearl – so I make many scarves or wraps that I can do with either a stockinette or a garter stitch, and garter tends to be my favorite. I find it to be the most relaxing and meditative, since I can get lost in the repetition of the movement and I don’t have to think about changing the stitch. It’s the same reason why I haven’t ventured into patterned pieces or shapes yet.  (One of these days, I’ll try to make a pair of sock slippers. When I do, you can expect that it will find it’s way here.) The repetition allows me to become aware of where I am, aware of my breath, and aware of my thoughts. It’s not quite the same as sitting down for samatha meditation, but still requires finding a comfortable seat and physically stilling the body.

I started a new project – another wrap – after teacher training over Easter weekend. Without teacher training, it took me much longer to finish the project – picking it up and putting it down many times over the last 4 months. Although the need for the meditative benefit still exists, I have not made the time to pick up my knitting needles. However, it seems like kickstarting my knitting goes hand in hand with severe weather conditions. Due to Hurricane Irene passing through the DC area, all of my weekend plans were cancelled or postponed until later in the weekend (Saturday to Sunday) or to later in the fall and I all of a sudden had a completely free weekend to do whatever I wanted. Spending the early morning hours blogging about passions colliding and catching up with a friend over breakfast, I spent the afternoon and evening hours, knitting up a storm.

pattern of finished wrap (used size 19 knitting needles; see below for instructions)

made a cuff with the yarn i had leftover (used my size 17 knitting needles for this)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rainy Saturday was the perfect weather to help bring awareness and calm back to my mind and my body. I finished the wrap, which I really do love, and made a cute wrist-cuff with the leftover yarn. (I’m hoping I have enough of the three yarns left to make a second cuff for a pair or possibly make a muff. I think they’ll be fun in the fall or winter.) This morning the rain continues, but is expected to stop in a few hours. After breakfast and maybe a nap, I plan to pick up another unfinished project and continue knitting up a storm.

How did you ride out the storm? What did you do while being stuck inside the house all day?

**********

Instructions for Wrap (modified from a 2-hr shawl pattern I found on Lion Brand’s website)

Materials: 3 skeins each of Lion Brand Fun Fur Orchid and Lion Brand Fun Fur Prints Tropical; 1 skein Lion Brand Homespun 329 Waterfall (if this color scheme doesn’t suit you, select complimentary yarn shades using the same ratios: 1 Homespun yarn and 3 each of 2 different Fun Fur yarns)

Knitting needles: size 19 for wrap

Instructions: Pull yarn together from each of the three yarns to create one thread. Cast on 20-22 stitches based on desired width. Knit each row until wrap reaches between 68 and 72 inches long. Bind off after reaching the desired length.

To make the cuff, I followed the same approach, using size 17 needles and casting on 7 stitches. I then knitted each row until I reached the desired length to fit around my wrist and bound off the project. I used a plastic needle and the ends of the yarn to sew the two ends together to create the cuff. I think that 16 to 18 stitches and the size 17 needles would have resulted in a cute muff. I may be trying to make one of those later today. Happy Knitting!

When passions collide…

Aug 27, 2011 // by admin // Blog, Photography, Uncategorized, Yoga // 3 Comments

Jes & Me - instagram-like effect using elements (thank you to the tourist who offered to snap the photo)

It’s no secret that I’m very passionate about yoga. There was that one day that I came to my mat and something clicked. I found so much more than just a way to exercise. In the last 8 months, I deepened my practice by attending teacher training at my yoga home and became a yoga teacher. Now, I get to share my passion for yoga on a weekly basis with yogis in the Tranquil Space community.

Yoga isn’t my only passion, though. I also have a passion for photography. About 5 years ago, I invested in a digital single-lens reflex (“dSLR”) camera. I’ve always enjoyed looking at the world around me, whatever microcosm I’m in, and seeing something interesting and capturing it. The investment in the dSLR was to take my photography to another level and prompted me to take workshops around DC, online courses, and buy books that taught me how to (1) use the camera and (2) different techniques for capturing images. For about a year, I went out almost every weekend and found images to capture. I always had the most fun finding creative close-ups. I also bought editing software and took online courses to learn how to use it. Then, work and life got busy and I put my camera down for a while (a good 2 1/2 years). About a year ago, I made an effort to rekindle this passion and this summer, I did that when I took a DC PhotoTour. (Check out my photos page for images from the DC PhotoTour.)

protecting my gear from passing thunderstorms (so of course, we got none)

As I worked to build my website, I realized, I wanted images of me in various yoga postures to put on the website. And so over the last few months, I’ve been working on amassing a collection. And I’ve been lucky to have friends, who have taken the pictures for me. One thing that I didn’t have though were images of me in yoga postures down by some of the iconic monuments in Washington, DC. Well, yesterday, my friend, Jes, and I had our first attempt in getting some of those images. Jes and I both love photography and we both love yoga. Jes is actually getting ready to begin her journey towards the 200 hr yoga teacher certification right now. And last night, in the calm before the storm, we went down to the National Mall, dressed in some of our favorite yoga attire, armed with our cameras, and had some fun.

Jes and I both have a creative eye for composition and we each gravitate to our favorite ways to compose. We played with close-ups, taking pictures on angles, different locations, and different postures, learning each step of the way, what worked, what didn’t work, and what we’d like to try again in a different outfit. We even stumbled upon one of the best spots (in my opinion) to photograph the Washington Monument. Here are some of the results:

Me in Camatkarasana (Wild Thing) (photo credit: Jes Hrivnak)

Jes in Anjaneyasana (low lunge)

Up close in Chaturanga Dandasana (photo credit: Jes Hrivnak)

Jes in opening her heart Virabhadrasana I (warrior I)

Me in Garudasana (Eagle) (photo credit: Jes Hrivnak)

Jes in Garudasana (Eagle)

Me in Chaturanga Dandasana (photo credit: Jes Hrivnak)

Jes in Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward facing dog)

Me in reverse Virabhadrasana (reverse warrior) (photo credit: Jes Hrivnak)

Jes in Camatkarasana (Wild Thing)

Jes & Me - the self-portrait

After our playtime outside, we hung out for a while (starting with a grocery store run to prepare for the impending storm) ate dinner, had some delicious herbal tea, shared photos, edited photos, and chatted. Plans are in the works for another yoga photoshoot, so-to-speak. There are many more places in DC and specifically around the iconic monuments and memorials that we want to take pictures. It was definitely lots of fun and a really nice way for two of my passions to collide.

What are your passions? Do you ever bring two of your passions together?

did you make your bed today?

Aug 25, 2011 // by admin // Blog, self-care // No Comments

My bed... made at 6:25 AM this morning.

“Did you make your bed today?” For as long as I can remember, that’s what my mother would ask me every morning before  school. And up until about 5 months ago, I actually didn’t understand what was so important about making my bed. And moreover, how important making my bed was to me. Growing up, the bed was made every day, because my mother made me. In college and for many years post college, I used to only make my bed when I was having people over. I didn’t really see a point, when I would be out all day and crawl back in at night. But when you have guest, having a made bed makes the apartment feel homier and more so, gives a tidier appearance. It’s funny though, the daily bed making routine didn’t actually start until I had a cleaning service come to my apartment.

I got a great deal through LivingSocial for Green MaidWorks, who happens to charge extra to change the bed linens and make the bed, so I wanted to make sure that I did those chores myself before they arrived. My apartment was spotless when the service left that day (and I’m starting regular monthly service in September). I felt so relaxed as I looked around the apartment. My apartment looked cleaner than it did the day I moved in (and on move in day, it had looked spotless).

So what’s the significance of making the bed for me? It provides me with some order in an otherwise chaotic environment. It’s very grounding and rather refreshing when you come home to a made bed. The bed is generally the second thing I see after I walk into my apartment. Having it made makes me feel grounded and relaxed. On a subconscious level, I think I’ve been feeling a sense of accomplishment from it. Thinking that at least, I’ve done that, if I haven’t done anything else around the apartment. It’s also a feeling of being back “at home”.

Cleaning and laundry are not and have never been my favorite things to do, laundry generally waits until it has to be done and cleaning, well, cleaning is done when I absolutely have to. I will “clean” for the cleaning service, by tidying up my belongings and making it easy for them to get to surfaces and the floor. I wash my dishes when I’ve cooked and try to keep the kitchen and bath looking nice, but I don’t just clean to clean. And when I do clean, it’s generally because the dust has built up and it’s really more of a necessity, it’s a chore. Growing up, Saturday morning cleaning of mine and my sister’s bedrooms was on my chore-list. Making the bed was not only on the weekend chore-list, but it was a daily chore. And so for many years, I had a mental block, rebelling against the requirement, but something changed.

Making the bed is a reminder of growing up and essentially, a reminder of home. And that makes it very grounding. In a time in my life where things are constantly changing, where I’m beginning new adventures, and starting new journeys, a strong foundation is extremely important. Coming back to feelings of home and of growing up helps to restore the grounding, rebuilding the foundation in my energy system. It’s reconnecting me with my roots and bringing a feeling of stability. In a world that is extremely chaotic, a little bit of stability and a strong foundation are a very good thing. The two minutes that it takes to make the bed every morning is well worth the stability and foundation that comes from it.

So, did you make your bed today? Do you ever make your bed? Have you ever thought about why you do or you don’t? It might be worth a little exploration and who knows, maybe you too will start making your bed every day (if you don’t already).