Relax, It’s Just Life!

Valentino (right) definitely knows how to enjoy the moment.

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve really come to enjoy and appreciate my yoga practice. It not only eases my anxiety, but it adds a deeper level of awareness and balance to my day-to-day life. That being said, sometimes, for whatever reason, I find myself struggling to find my balance or to really get into a pose. And this causes a lot of frustration on my end. Suddenly, I’m focused on what I’m doing wrong, or rather, what I’m not doing, instead of focusing on that fact that I’m there, on my mat, doing something for myself. In these moments, it’s easy to lose my sense of self and obsess over the failings of my mind and body.

So bless my instructors heart, when the other night she so helpfully reminded us to “have fun tonight and don’t take yourself so seriously!” Umm…Duh!!! Sometimes, I just need to hear the words from someone other than myself.

We all fall. It’s a fact of life. But hey, it’s not so bad. Summer is around the corner, life is beautiful, and we’re all doing the best we can! Let’s all celebrate who we are and where we are today. Wow, I am so. darn. cheesy.

On a related note, I’m sooooo looking forward to this upcoming Memorial Weekend. I don’t have anything in particular planned, but I am looking forward to some general time at the beach and enjoying the (hopefully) beautiful weather. Hope you all have a safe and enjoyable weekend!

I Feel Strong

This is a big deal for me. As someone who barely reaches the 5-foot mark, I usually feel little…small. But after about 5 weeks of practicing yoga 3-4 times a week, I really do feel strong. This isn’t my first foray into yoga. I discovered it during my years as an undergrad as a way to alleviate the stress I felt from my Organic Chemistry and Calculus classes. Since then, I’ve practiced on and off over the years. But lately, the last few years especially, it’s been mostly off. So now, five weeks later, I’m feeling good. Apart from making me feel strong, it’s made me a better runner and most of all, it has helped bring a sense of mindfulness that I’ve been sorely missing these past few months.

I am a very anxious person, and these sessions on my mat have made a world of difference to my mental health. Focusing on yourself and your breathing, the connection between mind and body, can seem scary at first. Especially for someone who can’t stand to be quiet or still for a moment, lest their floodgates split open and their worries come flooding out in a big rush. But once you let that fear subside, maybe acknowledge those thoughts briefly and then let them go, even if only for that hour, you can truly appreciate the control you have over your body. Your body can do amazing things if you give it a chance.  The highlight of my week involved my roommate and I squatting around the living room last weekend and suddenly hitting Hurdlers Pose. Even now, it brings a smile to my face. I never would have thought myself capable of that a few weeks ago.

I’m still working off those winter pounds that crept up on me (they actually starting accumulating in Fall…) but they feel less important right now. When I look in the mirror I see someone who looks happy, confident, and I swear, taller than their 5’0 height would suggest. I know yoga has a lot to do with it.

happy girls

Things I Like – Spring 2013 Edition

Well, it’s been quite the hot minute since I last wrote, hasn’t it? I thought I’d make it until May before inspiration struck again, but alas, here I am. And here are a few things that have been occupying my thoughts/time as of late:

Le Pen

Everything is better in color, right? These sleek, colorful pens are amazing. I’ve been filling up my calendar with them, writing shopping lists, and doodling with these pens for days now. And every day I like them a little more. Bonus points for not smudging – a MUST for lefties such a myself.

I purchased these recently from Amazon for $10. Not too bad.

The Milk Carton Kids

I absolutely cannot stop listening to these guys. Especially this song:

The Milk Carton Kids – No Hammer To Hold

The fact that they give a little shout out to Minnesota (in the snow….of course!) doesn’t hurt. But seriously, they are great. I’ve been listening to both of their albums constantly over the past few weeks. The harmony of the leads voices mixed with the gentle strumming of the guitars is in a word, mesmerizing. You need to purchase their albums and see them in concert immediately.

Romantics Anonymous

Don’t mind the English subtitles. This movie is too charming to miss out on because of a silly little language barrier. Briefly, it’s about a woman and man working in a Parisian chocolate factory. Expect plenty of beautiful shots of Paris, chocolate-making montages, and of course, romance. If you liked Chocolat or Amelie then this is a MUST. A glass of wine and a piece of chocolate while watching is highly encouraged.

Romantics Anonymous

I believe this is available on both Amazon Prime and Netflix, fyi.

(My roommate get’s credit for introducing me to this movie….so glad she found it!)

Acure Organics

Recently, I’ve been making a concerted effort to clean up my eating (think less greasy pizza, more veggies and lean proteins…on said pizza). And since I’m spending the time and money to make sure that what goes inside my body is organic and good for me, it seems only natural that the things that go on the outside should be the same. Enter Acure Organics.

I stumbled upon this line a few weeks ago at my favorite local health store, Pharmaca. This all-natural line of face and body products are free of artificial fragrances, parabens, sulfates, harmful preservatives and artificial colors. The company is family-owned and based in the US, and uses fair trade and certified organic ingredients. The most expensive product is about $30, with most products in the $10-20 range, making it very comparable to most drugstore brands (but so, so much better quality-wise). A little goes a long way with these products, and I can happily say that after about 3 weeks of using the cleanser, toner, anti-wrinkle complex and facial scrub that my face has never been smoother and healthy-looking. I recently purchased the moroccan argon stem cell shampoo and conditioner and the smell is out of this world amazing. My hair feels nice and shiny after just two washes. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this line. You can find the products online and in health food stores like Sprouts and Whole Foods.

Spring

Spring! Ain’t I original? I always say that Autumn is my favorite season, but wouldn’t you know, every time April hits I get a serious hankering to be outside all day, every day? The sun is out, flowers are blooming, and the beach is calling my name. My years in Southern California (and Arizona before that) have warmed my cold-Minnesota blood and I am truly happiest when basking in the sun. Honestly, if I could be any animal it would be a lizard. Give me a hot rock to lay out on all day and I’d be a happy camper.

I only wish  had a bigger yard so I could plant even more flowers, herbs and trees… which reminds me, has anyone successfully grown cilantro? My parsley, chives, basil, etc. are thriving but I cannot for the life of me keep cilantro alive for longer than a few weeks. Is there some secret that I’m missing???

**Please note: No one has offered me any sort of incentive to mention any of the above items. I just really, really like (LOVE) these things.

Step Aside Rachael Ray

Because THIS is how you do a healthy, easy 20-minute meal.

I posted the following picture to my Instagram with the caption “staple in my kitchen”:

That is definitely not an exaggeration. Chili garlic sauce is easily one of my favorite pre-made sauces. I put it in dipping sauces, marinades, dressings, etc. and I add it to soups or use it to dip my egg rolls into. I LOVE it. And tonight it was the showcase of my dinner. Twenty minutes is all it took to send me to chili garlic sauce heaven.

In this dinner, it is all about the sauce. I will be eating this dinner at least once a week from now on. I’m not even slightly joking. I’m already anxiously waiting for lunch tomorrow so that I can dive into round 2. I really, really hope that you give this a try!

Easy 20 Minute Garlic Chili Sauce Stir-Fry

Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 large carrot (2 medium carrots), chopped into 1/4 inch coins
  • 1 small bunch broccoli, chopped into small florets (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 yellow onion, chopped
  • chili garlic stir fry sauce (see below for recipe)
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil, 2 TBSP
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Prepare rice/pasta per package instructions (this is optional).
  2. In a small/medium sized pot, place both chicken breasts into the bottom of the pot and cover with water (enough water so that there is an extra 1″ inch covering the chicken) and cook over high until boiling. Allow the chicken to boil for 3 minutes and then cover with a lid and remove from the heat. Let the chicken remain in the pot, off the heat, for 15 minutes.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, in a large pan over medium-medium high heat add 2 TBSP olive oil. Place all of the vegetables into the saute pan , and add salt and pepper. Allow to cook for approximately 5 min, stirring frequently. After the five minutes, turn down to medium-low heat and cover. Allow vegetables to cook for another 5 minutes (this steams the broccoli nicely).
  4. Once the chicken is done (after the 15 minutes have elapsed) remove from the poaching liquid,season with salt and pepper and chop into bite size pieces.
  5. Add the cooked rice/pasta, chicken and chili garlic stir fry to the sauteed vegetables. Stir to combine and enjoy! You may garnish with some chopped cilantro, if desired.

Chili Garlic Stir Fry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP chili garlic sauce
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1 TBSP rice wine vinegar
  • ground ginger, a dash or two

Directions:

  1. Measure out and combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Adjust ingredient amounts as necessary.
  2. Add to your favorite stir-fry/pasta dish.

Please do yourself a favor and get on this!

 

A quick note: As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve been watching my eats the past week or so, so this was a low-carb meal, and while I’m generally not a low-carb person, I had already had my fill for the day and I wanted a light, yet satisfying dinner. So given that, I tried a new item – shirataki noodles. They are a Japanese noodle (found in the refrigerated portion next to the tofu/health foods in my supermarket) made out of a “water soluble dietary fiber” (YUMMM) and are extremely low cal and low carb. I prepared them by rinsing them and running them under extremely hot water for a minute or two and then adding them my stir fry. They don’t really have a taste, and kind of remind me of the noodles you find in Pho. I’m a fan, but the above meal would’ve been equally great with rice or your favorite pasta.

Here’s The Thing

Just a few days ago I was waxing poetic about how I can’t stand all the emails regarding New Years Resolutions and a “new healthy you!” A healthy diet is a lifestyle choice…blah blah blah.

Anyway, a few days later and here I am eating oat bran pancakes for breakfast. The truth is, those holiday pounds have added up! And although I can still fit into all of my clothing, there are a few extra pounds hanging here and there.

So, a few weeks of clean eating, more exercise, lots of water, and listening to those damn emails I spoke of last week are ahead of me.

20130123-202709.jpg

Oat bran pancake. Luckily, it tastes like french toast. I can get down with that.

Let’s just all agree that this is not about January/New Years Resolutions and more about the fact that I live in San Diego and bikini season is fast approaching…

P.S. If you are interested in the above “pancake” it’s really easy. It’s 1-1/2 Tbsp oat bran (you can find it in the cereal aisle, next to the Quaker Oats), 1-1/2 Tbsp nonfat greek yogurt, 1 egg, a dash of cinnamon and a dash of sugar/splenda/honey. Mix it together and cook in a pan over medium-medium high heat for approx 2 minutes a side (I just wait until the pancake starts bubbling and flip it). Easy-peasy. PLEASE NOTE: I did not make up this recipe, it’s all over Pinterest/the interwebs.

Two Weeks To a Healthier You!

Two weeks in to the New Year and my inbox has yet  to stop presenting/bating me with tips and guides to a new/skinner/healthier/more active me. The thing is, I keep clicking on these damn emails and then clicking on the damn links inside them, hoping to discover some new secret. But the truth? They’re all the same. Drink more water.  Eat lots of berries – they’re full of anti-oxidants. Don’t forget your veggies! Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Walk everywhere. Keep refined sugar to a minimum.

In other words, get your butt off the couch and eat good food.

Got it.

Luckily, red wine [in moderation] is considered good for you….

‘Coffee keeps me going until it’s acceptable to drink wine’

(saw it on Pinterest, naturally)

Anyone else feeling the New Years Resolution themed guides/emails/advice hate?

You’re My Best Friend

This title refers to two things: 1) my favorite Queen song (and perhaps my favorite song of all), and 2) my dog, Valentino, whom I consider my best friend.

Last night as I was updating my iphone, I realized that most of available memory was being used up by my photos. Now, I usually upload my photos via my photostream onto an album on both my computer and google plus account, so I don’t necessarily need all of  my photos on my phone. So I managed to trim down my photo count from about 1500 to just over 700. (It’s a process!). Of those 700, I realized that, easily, 500 of those were photos of my dog. That’s a lot. To take this obsession a bit further, I realized that about 1/3 of those photos are repeats. You see, I have this habit of scrolling through my photos and looking at ones of my dog when I’m bored, stressed out, can’t sleep, waiting in line for coffee, etc. While scrolling through these photos, sometimes I come across a particularly cute picture from several months/years ago that I really like, so I take a screenshot of it. That way I’ll have a copy of the photo in the front of the picture queue. Yah, I know…

Needless to say, I think the above paragraph encapsulates why this journal entry by Neil Gaiman struck such a chord with me. I completely understand where this fellow is coming from. My dog is more than a pet; he is my confidante, partner in crime, and best reason to get up in the morning (especially when the sun is barely up, the tile is freezing and I can’t find my slippers – he probably hid them under my bed or in his kennel, and my dog insists on going outside…not to pee, but to sniff around for 5 minutes while I jump around in a lame attempt to stay warm). I love him dearly. Enough so that he compromises 70% of my photo library. (In case you were wondering, the rest is made up of food, pictures of my outfit/hair to send to my sister for her approval/opinion, pictures of the beach, and pictures of my boyfriend…usually with my dog sitting next to him.)

Best friends help each other with yard work….or not.

I know I express my love for my dog on this blog fairly often, but I couldn’t resist adding another instance today. I’m sure fellow pet owners understand.

Buon Anno

As per usual, my New Years Eve and New Years Day celebrations were both marked by the presence of spirits, and an abundance of food.

The evening portion was fairly low-key and spent at a dinner party with several friends. I stuffed myself for the last time in 2012 with baked fish, vegetables, quiche, plenty of cheese, and chased it all down with plenty of good wine and champagne.

The wine and cheese portion of the night.

The day portion was equally lovely. We started with mimosas, bagels, and lox. The day ended with a trip to the movie theater to see Django Unchained* and, what else? More eating. This time Korean BBQ was the choice cuisine.

New Years brunch at the house

As far as the New Year goes, you won’t find me making any resolutions about healthy eating or exercising more frequently – these are things that are always on my mind. But for the last few months,  I have been trying to make an effort to be more kind and generous of spirit. I think I shall continue that, and hope that we all, to some extent, try to be kinder and generous to those around us.

korean bbq

Stuffing our faces in Clairmont Mesa

Although, I might make an exception to the above, and add “eat more Korean food.” It is seriously delicious.

Happy New Year friends.

* If you like Tarantino movies then you will LOVE it. I enjoyed it thoroughly –it was wonderfully acted, completely irreverent, heavy at times, and accompanied by a fantastic soundtrack. I should mention that in particular, Christopher Waltz is a complete delight in every scene he’s in. I look forward to watching it again.

You Know It’s A Slow Day…

When your day, thus far, has consisted of alternately watching the video below, and reloading the “Shipment Tracking” page on your Amazon account in hopes that it will finally update to say that your Space Heater has been delivered.

Why am I watching this video, over, and over again?

Easy – I’m trying to memorize it (almost there!) in anticipation that I will be able to easily roll it off my tongue in response to something my significant other has said. Duh.

Buon Weekend lovelies!

Let’s Not Get Crazy

BUT…if the Mayans were correct, I’m grateful that these are how I’m spending my last days.

Whatever you are doing this Season, I wish you peace.

And remember, you only live once. So don’t skimp on the eggnog!

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