Monthly Archives: September 2011

This week in food…

Sep 30, 2011 // by admin // Blog, food // No Comments

I’ve spent the last three weeks enjoying some of my lunch and dinner favorites and trying some new things. In the midst though, I’ve done cereal or pizza for dinner multiple times and there was really no home-cooking at all, except for the luscious green smoothie (blend of ½ a frozen peach, 1 ½ apples, spinach, hempseeds, and wheatgrass powder), I made three Mondays ago. Making more of my meals at home has been a goal, but it seems that I am never consistent with it. It comes with the idea of cooking for one. I much prefer cooking for others, so if I’m only cooking for myself, then I’m more likely to be lazy and eat out. And given the opportunity to go out with friends, I generally take that opportunity, which usually means eating out rather than in.

So, all that being said, not every week is an exciting week in food. And I’ve found myself busy doing lots of things, but eating exciting, fun foods was not always on the to do list over the last few weeks. So, I’m a little behind on sharing my week in food (only about 2 weeks or so – since this post is timely). Though, the last three weeks have been good, with highlights sprinkled throughout. Here are the highlights of my last three weeks in food, but don’t ask me when I had what, I simply have a catalog of pictures that tell the story (September 11 to October 1).

Homemade Green Smoothie

The Western Addition from The Pi Truck (my regular Tuesday lunch that I share with a colleague)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asian Noodle Salad with Soba Noodles from Java Green

Vegetarian Wrap (filled with seasonal roasted vegetables) from the Sixth & Rye food truck

Homemade Potato Chips from the Sixth & Rye food truck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free Pizza from Pete's Apizza, topped with kalamata olives and fried eggplant (eggplant is not gluten free)

 

 

 

Antipasto Platter from Pete's Apizza (corn and fava beans, squash with dill, grilled peaches with ricotta)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Chocolate from Northside Social (isn't that cool hot chocolate art?)

Vegetarian Bento Box from Teaism

 

 

Hot Chocolate from Northside Social (aren't those baristas talented?)

 

 

Salty Oat Cookie from Teaism - I've enjoyed a couple of these

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Tots from the DC Slices food truck on a Farragut Friday

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just another rainy Wednesday…

Sep 28, 2011 // by admin // Blog, Events // No Comments

Over the course of the last month, I began to wonder if this Washington became the other Washington, the one that gets lots of rain and mist, doesn’t have as many sunny days, and would have a higher probability of higher mold counts all year round. This Washington, Washington DC, has felt like it is under water with rain on many weekdays and weekends throughout September. I felt like I got so lucky when I did yoga on the beach, that the rain had cleared and the skies were bright blue. I’m looking forward to more days like that.

copyright: iclaud (http://iclaud.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/splashing-in-puddles/)

This morning, though, was another rainy Wednesday morning. I felt lucky that I remembered my umbrella and decided to wear my raincoat. I got up and even by the time I left (about 7:30) it was still dark outside. And the rain, well, the rain was coming down hard. At the end of the workday, my shoes still hadn’t dried out (it’s time to find rain boots that will fit my feet). And of course, this morning there were delays on the metro. I was feeling pretty frustrated at first. Then I stopped and took a step back, thinking about what really was happening. My shoes may have been soaked (and still are), but the rest of me was dry. Although there were train delays, I was still in my office by 8 AM. And when I got off the metro, I was pleasantly surprised that the massive downpour had stopped, at least long enough for me to go to Starbucks and get to my office building without the use of an umbrella. So, after taking inventory of the morning, really, it wasn’t that bad at all and quite honestly, the day is actually off to a great start. (And it kept getting better as the sun came out by lunchtime.)

copyright: Sarah Elizabeth (http://livingsunnysideup.blogspot.com/2010/05/39-splashing-in-puddles.html)

Then I set my intentions for the day: be present, patient, & kind, let go, and stay dry (or get wet playing in puddles). Yes, that’s right, stay dry or get wet. (Getting wet was no longer an option since it did dry out by mid-day.) After reflecting on the morning and how as a “grown-up” I am generally so worried about getting wet, I remembered what it was like not to care about that, the times when you would walk in the rain and deliberately jump in the puddles. Remember those days, when it was highly likely that there would be a lively discussion with either mom or dad about why you shouldn’t jump in the puddles after you came back into the house soaked. I think as a kid, I didn’t appreciate letting go and jumping in puddles. Hey, as a kid, I also didn’t like to get sand on me at the beach or dirt on me in the yard. Somewhere along the line all that changed, I don’t melt in the rain, so who cares if I get wet or my hair gets a little frizzy, and a little sand or dirt can be washed off. At some point, I learned to let go and enjoy. When that happened, I can’t exactly pinpoint, but I’m so happy that it did.

We are all constantly changing and growing. Embracing the changes and growth rather than fighting them is yet another way that I find contentment in my life. It’s a way of letting go and being present. I had actually hoped that today I’d be able to jump in a few puddles or simply stand in the rain without an umbrella and since it couldn’t be today, it will definitely be another day. I wanted to take a moment to just be a kid again, to let go, and have fun. I still was able to let go today, it just wasn’t in the rain. Before writing this, I took a moment to turn my world upside down and get a change in perspective. It felt so good. And if the DC weather keeps up, I’m sure i’ll have that opportunity to jump in a puddle or two sometime relatively soon.

When was the last time you jumped in a puddle or stood in the rain without an umbrella? Do you ever wish you could go back to your childhood and relive the days when you did without hestitation?

Update: So it did end up raining last night, and I did get to walk in the rain without an umbrella. No jumping in puddles though, next time. :)

Turning my world upside down…an update

Sep 27, 2011 // by admin // Blog, headstand, inversions, Yoga // No Comments

my friend Johnna in headstand

On September 12th, I decided to challenge myself to turn my world upside down, every day for 100 consecutive days. Here’s my progress so far…the first 16 days…

Days 1-4: successful! Turned my world upside both at the wall and away from the wall.

Day 5: took a break

Day 6: wonderful headstand where my teacher helped me correct some misalignments (twisted body, collapsed side body, and position of feet)

Day 7: took a break

Days 8 & 9: success! Headstand in class, invigorating and relaxing all at the same time.

Day 10: Headstand at home after teaching, felt relaxed.

Day 11: took a break

Day 12: headstand at home

Day 13: took a break

Day 14: Headstand as I prepared for class.

Day 15: allergies acting up, so no inverting. :(

Day 16: Headstand before class… felt really invigorating, but a little unsteady. I wasn’t completely relaxed.

So, I haven’t been as consistent as I had hoped I would be, but I’m still doing it. With a pose like headstand, you really only want to get into the pose when you know you are ready for it and when you know you are in a frame of mind and body that you will protect your neck. If I’m too tired, not feeling well, or sometimes, when I’m by myself, I prefer not doing this pose. It’s scares me to think that if I move wrong I could injure my neck. That being said, when I’ve come into headstand in these last two or so weeks, I have felt incredible. The craziest thing about headstand and any inversion is that when you are properly aligned the asana doesn’t feel like work, you have the perfect balance of sthira and sukha (effort and ease) and feel light as a feather.

Sthira-sukham asanam (the practice of observing effort and ease) is one of Patanjali’s yoga sutras. (Sutra II.46) As with all of the yoga sutras, there are many translations of the Sanskrit. As translated in Living Your Yoga (p. 23), “the posture should be steady and comfortable”. As translated in The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras, Kindle edition (location 3547-3557), “the natural comfort and joy of our being is expressed when the body becomes steady (asana)”. Both of these translations, plus my very simplistic interpretation all focus on one thing, finding a balance. You push yourself so as to challenge yourself, but not so far that you it takes incredible effort to hold. This has been our theme of the month at the studio – finding that place where we can find effortlessness.

I love thinking of this in my inversions. In a headstand, when I find that perfect balance, I feel like as a feather (as if the asana is easy), and I am not pushing myself extremely hard to stay inverted, yet because I am not pushing myself, I almost feel as if the pose is too easy, and I may doubt myself and release sooner than I need to. It took me a long while to get to this point of being able to find the balance in my headstand and I know that when I am ready to begin growing into handstand and forearmstand, I expect that it will be a slow journey there too. This is reflective of life off the mat too, finding the balance between trying to hard to make things happen and sitting back and waiting for something to happen.

On my mat, every day is different. I strive to achieve the balance between effort and ease in each asana, while accepting that how deep I can go may be different than the day before or the day after. I continue to learn to laugh when I fall out of a pose and to not forget to breathe when I am unable to come into a pose. I am learning not to be frustrated and to take each experience on the mat and use it to grow my practice. Off the mat, I sometimes struggle applying effort and ease. I continue to seek to learn from my experiences and not allow myself to get frustrated when things happen that don’t go as planned or the way i thought they should or how i want them to. This is an evolving process and as I have continued my practice on the mat, I have found that it is easier and easier to do this off the mat. As I continue this journey to know myself, to be present, and to give up control, I sometimes find the balance between effort and ease, and with that comes a contentment that is indescribable.

Have you turned your world upside down lately? When was the last time you found the perfect balance between effort and ease? How did it feel?

It’s tea time…again…

Sep 26, 2011 // by admin // Blog, tea // No Comments

For the most part, I drink teas that are in tea pouches, but there are those occasions, where I have the right supplies to enjoy loose leaf teas. Some of my favorite teas are of the loose leaf varieties. One of my favorite things about drinking loose leaf teas is that you can generally get more than one serving of tea out of loose tea leaves. After the tea steeps, I remove the tea infuser, enjoy my tea, and then go back for a second and sometimes third cup using the leaves from the first. The ability to get two or three cups of tea from each serving of leaves in the infuser makes using loose tea leaves very economical (even if the leaves seem to cost a little more on the front end, a canister of loose leaf tea seems to last forever, since a little goes such a long way) and a tea infuser, generally only costs a few dollars ($5-$10 usually for one that you pull out of a cup and $20-$50 for a tea infuser tea pot). I have a few different infusers and they are generally easy to find at any store that you can get kitchen gadgets. So, if you don’t drink a lot of loose leaf teas, consider investing in an infuser and trying these and other loose leaf tea varieties. (More loose leaf teas to be featured in future editions of It’s tea time.)

Today’s tea time features…Tea Forte White Ginger Pear and Tea Forte Flora.

Tea Forte White Ginger Pear – a blend of ginger, blackberry leaves, lemon balm, white tea, mallow flowers and natural flavors.

As I’ve said before and it’s worth reiterating, I’m not a fan of “natural” flavors in my teas and other products for that matter. I much prefer enjoying tea that is all ingredients and no “flavors”, but that is not always an option. This White Ginger Pear tea is one of those teas. I really enjoy the flavor (although we can tell the pear is coming from the natural flavors and not from dried pear). This would fall into the fruity tea category. It’s light and has a subtle sweetness to it, so there’s no need to add sugar unless you want it very sweet. There is also a tiny bit of tartness, which is a nice balance to the sweetness. And because it’s a white tea, there is that little caffeine kick that you get, which some mornings you really need. I can enjoy this tea either hot or cold, which is good for when you make it and then it sits on your desk at work for an hour. I feel like it’s a little sweeter when it’s cold, but that is probably just me. I particularly enjoy this tea in the morning, but I’m sure you can enjoy it throughout the day. This isn’t my everyday-go-to tea, but it’s one that I enjoy from time to time and I do have a canister of it above my desk at work. It’s a nice sweet treat on a cold morning.

Tea Forte Flora – a blend of hibiscus flowers, cinnamon bark, and licorice root.

So, this tea is all natural with no natural flavors. And of course, that’s part of the reason why I like it, but it’s also a flowery tea. I’ve written about other teas with flowers in them before and how much I enjoy the flavors. The addition of the cinnamon and the licorice to this tea give it a really nice depth of flavor and balance. It’s surely not a one note flowery tea. The cinnamon and licorice are very grounding, so this tea is great for warming up and getting grounded. These flavors are very homey and very fall. I especially like this tea now as the fall weather is starting to settle in and my energy is a little out of whack. This tea calms me and helps me come into a bit more balance. So, if you enjoy flowery teas, this one is definitely a must try. I have a cup every few days and think that as we move from the warmth of summer into the cool of autumn, it will likely be a more regular feature in my pantry and on my desk.

Have you had tea time recently? What are your favorite loose leaf teas? Please share your suggestions, as I am always looking for new teas to try.

The first official day of fall…

Sep 23, 2011 // by admin // Blog, Events, food // No Comments

So it’s Friday and the first official day of fall. Happy Autumn! I cannot believe how fast 2011 has flown by. Before we know it, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas will also be distant memories and we’ll be ringing in a new year. I like using the change of seasons as a time to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m going. Fall has historically been a season of starting anew – we would go back to school, I started my first full-time job, and my sister got married in the fall. And fall is when the birthday season in my family begins (October, November, December, January, & February – at least one birthday a month for the next 5 months). In addition to a time of new beginnings, there are many other wonderful things about fall. These are some of my favorites (in no particular order):

- cooler temps that allow for wearing jeans, leggings, sweaters, and of course, knee high boots;

multiple opportunities to enjoy hot chocolate – snuggling on the couch, by a bonfire after a hayride, at local coffee shops;

- squash is in season, so lots of orange and yellow vegetables in my diet (pumpkin and butternut squash, specifically);

- warm soups that help ground and balance an out of whack vata dosha (vata dosha is a body type in the science of ayurveda), such as butternut squash;

- pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin custard, pumpkin bread – sense a theme, I do love pumpkin and so much, that it warrants separate recognition on this list;

- peppermint hot chocolate, pumpkin spice lattes, and gingerbread lattes from Starbucks – nice sweet treats on cold work mornings;

- watching the leaves change from shades of green to brilliant reds, golds, yellows, and oranges; 

- the Charlie Brown holiday specials: “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”, and “A Charlie Brown Christmas”;

- football season begins – GO GIANTS!!! (For better or worse, this jersey girl is a NY Giants fan. And I try to watch the Giants games whenever I can, but at a minimum, I follow the score.);

- more opportunities to visit with my family (birthdays and holidays are always grounds for spending time in NJ).

Fall is a great time of year. Hoping that this fall brings you opportunities for new beginnings, reflections on times past, and enjoyment of some of your fall favorites. Happy Autumn!

What are your favorite things about fall?