Yoga Membership!

It is hard to believe that my yearly membership to the yoga studio is almost up! It was a big decision for me to purchase the yearly membership. I have been one of those people who gets the gym membership but NEVER goes to the gym. I didn’t want to waste the money again. More importantly, I didn’t want the yoga studio to turn into the gym- a place I think I ought to go spend time but never do. I was worried that the studio would go out of business, or that I would get sick and not be able to use it. What if I got a new job and moved away? What if my favorite teacher changed her schedule and I had to go to other teachers? Now that I am writing this a year later, I am embarrassed by all of these worries.

This decision demonstrated just how much I can overthink really simple decisions- especially any decision that includes a big purchase. I decided to make the year an experiment. I kept track of every class that I took. I knew that I needed to attend 60 classes to break even. An amazing thing happened. Instead of trying to make the 10 visit pack last a little longer, I started going to yoga even more. I started trying new teachers. I started to find times when I could squeeze it in because I enjoyed it so much.

At this point I have far exceeded my 60 class goal, and there are some weeks when I can manage to get to yoga 3 times a week. It feels so good! I once attended a retreat with a yogi who told us that when you move from two classes a week to three, you see your practice transformed. I can’t wait to see what kind of transformation it brings and what it will mean for my yoga and my life.

Braised Cannellini Beans and Kale

I’m always looking for new recipes. This time of year I want warm and hearty dishes. This recipe from Williams Sonoma has been a big hit. I have made a couple of different variations of it based on the ingredients I have available and the amount of time that I have. I have used dry beans as the recipe indicates, but I have also made it with cans of beans. I generally double the recipe so that there are leftovers. I have skipped the fennel and added shallot. You can modify the ingredients based on what you have on hand.

This recipe is a great option to make when you are cooking for company. I like to make side dishes that can serve as main dishes for me. This one is perfect! I usually add one other vegetable and then make some kind of meat for my guests. This is great on its own with a gluten free baguette. If you eat eggs, try serving it with a fried egg for brunch or lunch.

3 Tbs. olive oil
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and diced (optional)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 cup dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise
1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

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Directions:
In a Dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the fennel,  and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the thyme sprigs, beans, broth and water, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Uncover the pot and remove and discard the thyme sprigs.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add the kale and cook, uncovered, until the kale is tender but slightly toothsome, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately. Serves 4.

The REBOOT is WORKING!

Nike Screen Shot 5 miles

I can officially say that this reboot has accomplished its goal. Today I ran 5 miles for the first time in a very long time. I have been trying to run a couple of times a week for the past few months. Most of the time I run around 3 miles. Last week I let it creep up to 4 miles, and I started to wonder…would it be possible to get to 5 miles again? Soon? In my mind, the five mile mark represents the threshold into the longer distances that I love. I did it! Today!

I was sitting on the couch watching TV. The sun was out, and it was in the mid 60’s. Still I was tempted to stay on the couch until I realized that knowing I CAN run is enough motivation to actually get out there and do it. I can run again! At one point during the run I looked down at my phone and realized that I was actually running faster than usual, and it felt amazing. Once I hit mile four, I ran with a big smile on my face because I knew I was going to make it to mile five. The vegan diet, the yoga, the rest, the grace to accept my body in all of its various states, it has all led me back to this point. This joy.  I couldn’t be happier.

Living the Life List: Plant a Garden

When I was 19, I created a life list or bucket list. At the time it seemed like a great idea, but the exercise left me surprised by how little I understood what I wanted in life. Most of the things on the list are simple pleasures mixed in with a few extraordinary feats (a.k.a. Mt. Everest). One item on the list was to have a garden, and I have been able to grow something almost every year since I created the list. My current yard is mostly shade, but I found a sunny spot and took out one of the foundational plants I didn’t like to make room for some heirloom tomatoes.

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Of the three varieties that I planted, the Cherokee Purple variety has been the first type to ripen. They are delicious!

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I’m not a big fan of raw tomatoes, especially the tasteless grocery store variety. These heirlooms are beautiful and bursting with flavor. I get a real sense of satisfaction from planning, planting, and eating whatever I can coax to grow. While life list items like “plant a garden” seem mundane at first glance, sometimes I wonder if my 19 year old self was wiser than I give her credit for being. Maybe she knew that simple pleasures are actually life essentials- the little markers that shape each year and bring us satisfaction and even joy.

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Tomatoes, fresh basil (also from the garden), olive oil, salt and pepper.

Big Step or Baby Step, Give Your Comfort Zone a Vacation!

I promised myself I would get out of my comfort zone. This weekend I decided to be spontaneous and keep that promise. We headed to Montauk, New York to check out Hither Hills State Park. Knowing that campsites are typically booked months in advance, we loaded up the car and hoped for the best.

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My brother mentioned Hither Hills State Park to me a couple of weeks ago. I did a little research and was intrigued. The description of Hither Hills in a New York Times article won me over. While I don’t camp, I do love the beach. I will do just about anything to spend time there, so off we went. If this was successful, it would be the first time I had been camping since I was a little kid.

When we approached the woman at the desk to ask if there was any availability for the night, we where shocked when she said that there was one campsite left. This, we realized, was the Hither Hills equivalent to a lottery win. The people in line behind us assured us that this never happens. After celebrating our good fortune, we headed to campsite C19.

Once we set up the tent, we went to the beach just 100 yards away. It was my favorite time of day- around 4 PM. It was beautiful.

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Despite my fears, I survived the night.  I got up once and went outside to admire the constellations of the summer sky. It took my breath away. I laid on the picnic table and soaked it all in. Amazing.

We went for a run the next morning and then had breakfast at our campsite.

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Not only did I have a great time and discover a new place, but I also realized that my comfort zone is overrated. I surprised myself and had fun doing it. What’s next? What can you do to get out of your comfort zone? Big step or baby step, you will feel energized by DOING it.

Do What You Love!

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I am running again after 2 years off the road. When I was physically unable to run, I felt stuck. Lost. Finding yoga got me UN-STUCK. For me the journey back to running began when I was finally willing to let it go and to embrace something new.  Now I have both- running and yoga. My runs aren’t the longest or the fastest, but I’m running again. I am doing what I love!

Gratitude for the physical capacity to run is motivating. I get up at 5 AM and run because I CAN!

What do you love? What’s keeping you from doing it? What old love is it time to rekindle? What new love lies ahead?

Vegan Lemon Sage Asparagus & Mushroom Pasta

Last week my mom sent me a recipe from The Minimalist Baker that I couldn’t wait to try. The original recipe was for Vegan Lemon Asparagus Pasta. I made a few minor adaptations. I added some sautéed portobella mushrooms and sage. I also used less pasta because I like there to be plenty of sauce. It was delicious. Here is a photo of mine, but you should click on the link above to see the photographs on John & Dana’s website. They are beautiful.

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While I love fresh vegetables and fruit, every once in a while I really crave something creamy. This recipe satisfies the craving. Enjoy!