Letting it all go…

As I transition into this new phase of my life I am realizing that subconsciously I am carrying a lot of anxiety and it is manifesting in a number of ways. Mostly my body is not happy with my anxiety and is seeking unhealthy ways to cope with the unknowns. Lately I have been mixing my normal healthy eating with terrible eating and its throwing me completely out of whack. I was going to do a cleanse next week to bring in the summer but I don’t think I can wait any longer.

I not only want to cleanse my inner body, I want to rid myself of all the toxins and negative vibes and trauma I have endured over the past 3 years. I want to wipe the slate clean and start a new. This past weekend I made a organic and fresh scrub for cleansing my skin. This scrub is divine!

I have super sensitive skin and this scrub did not irritate me at all. Further, I don’t think my legs have ever been this smooth. The lavender is great for calming and the oil moisturizes like crazy.

I am practicing sauca (yoga principle for cleanliness) and finding peace by cleansing both my inner and outer body.  I hope you enjoy!

Lavendar Lemon Sea Salt Scrub

Ingredients:

2/3 c sea salt
1/3 c olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
10 drops lavender oil

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Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and them place in air tighter container.

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mix together until oils are combined

scrub

original recipe from this month’s issue of yoga journal

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Ahimsa & Aparigraha

Non Violence and Non Hoarding

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Ahimsa and Aparigraha

These two yamas have been driving me as of late. I have been working to shift my mindset in these two because I feel I struggle the most with holding onto thoughts, which ultimately lead to self- harm. This past Wednesday night I went to a lecture on the yamas and niyamas and have been inspired to target specific areas so that I can grow and move closet to bliss (isn’t that the dream?).

While driving to work this morning I heard this amazing story of using yoga in Kenya to bring peace to those who have encountered violence through social struggles. Check out this amazing story: http://www.npr.org/2013/04/12/177004536/yoga-project-changes-lives-in-nairobis-slums

Happy Friday!

For Real the Best Smoothie…EVER

I know each time I post I set up the recipe with “This is the best!” For real though, this smoothie is the best.

I ADORE my fellow yogis. Two weeks ago we had “Smoothie Sunday.” Smoothie Sunday was a magical affair that involved smoothie samples. A few of us brought our favorite shake to share! The combo that won my heart involved cinnamon. Two classmates used cinnamon in their shakes and my world changed.

One of my classmates brought an amazing smoothie that combined dates, cinnamon, and banana. That’s right… heaven. I’m sharing this recipe with the world because WORLD YOU DESERVE IT. Thank you Marvin for enlightening my taste buds. I of course changed it up to make a green smoothie, got to get that spinach in!

Great for an on the go breakfast!

Great for an on the go breakfast!

Cinnamon Date Green Smoothie

Ingredients:

Plus spinach

Plus spinach

1 tsp cinnamon
8 ice cubes
1.25 c of vanilla almond milk
1 banana
3 dates (pitted)
1.4 c of cold water
2 c of spinach

Directions:

Place ice in blender and pulse.
Remove pits from dates

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Place liquids in blender and then pile greens on top.

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Set to liquefy and blend until smooth.

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Pulsing the ice before helps with texture

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Looks scary, tastes amazing!

Karma Yoga: Ravenswood Food Pantry

Karma Yoga Origin: Bhagavad Gita

Karma Yoga: To do from a place of love
Karma Yoga: Path of doing the right thing, following personal dharma
Karma Yoga: Ego giving up the desire and letting the divine take control

Lincoln Square TTers represent!

Lincoln Square TTers represent!: Kim, Marvin and I

To complete my yoga teacher training program,  is it is expected that we perform some sort of  Karma Yoga. I attempt to surrender my ego each day at work, however it does not seem like its enough. There is always something more that we can do, always another way we can connect with one another and shift the inequalities in our world. Darren Main does a fantastic job in Yoga and the Path of the Urban Mystic explaining Karma Yoga. Main reminds readers that Karma Yoga is not self indulgent, the ego must be removed.

Saturday morning I woke up at 7:45 am, my one day to sleep in. The temperature read 36 degrees with rain. Normally, 36 degrees would make me excited (coming out of winter), but not this morning. The bleak skies, my exhausted body, and my cold fingers made me want to crawl back into bed and give up on the entire experience. An internal conflict ensued: Who was I to whine it was raining? People were waiting in line for hours for food and I considered not helping because I wanted to stay toasty, absurd!

I decided to hold true to my commitment and show up for the job, and I am glad I did.

The Ravenswood Food Pantry is located in the parking lot of Ravenswood Elementary school. The demographic of those who waited in line varied greatly. There was an array of Asian cultures, Latino cultures, African Americas, and Caucasian people. They toted carts, boxes, and recycled grocery bags. Each “client” exercised amazing discipline and demonstrated an unrelenting commitment to their families and themselves as they braved the cold.

The Pantry offered canned goods, fresh veggies, chicken cutlets, and grains.

Buns

Buns

so many volunteers came  out to help!

so many volunteers came out to help!

Beef Stew: my job for the day!

Beef Stew: my job for the day!

k8Handing out food was rewarding and I am glad I was able to make the process of the pantry easier. I am walking away from this experience with a few thoughts in mind. First, when you open your heart to the universe, the universe returns the love. If we take the time to discover who we are, what place we have in this world, we can utilize our energies and talents to provide the community/world the love and support it needs.

Carrots!

Carrots!

I also adore the group of people I have begun this yoga journey with. Over the last month or so we have formed a bond that is based on positivity, passion, and love. I realized this past week the tremendous effect work has had on my mindset. I have been in a negative and traumatic space  for the past 3 years, and am now just learning what it means to be in a positive environment  The positivity in our group is not forced or scripted, it is organic and authentic which has lead to harmonious relationships.

baby bunnies

baby bunnies

As we passed out food our toes began to freeze. Kim and I did some dances to warm our feet. There were times where I wanted to leave, get into my warm car and drive home to dip my feet into a warm bath. I did not leave though. I reminded myself that cold toes are a privilege. People waited in line with shoes that barely had any weather protection and I was complaining while wearing rain boots. If cold toes are the biggest of my problems then I am one lucky lady.

I do not believe karma yoga is only about helping others by handing out food or some other volunteer work. The “good” I received won’t come to me in weeks or months. Instead I received my good karma today. I was reminded of how incredibly lucky (whatever that means) I am to have the privileges and life I have. I have an amazing supportive partner, Mr. Husband. I am healthy and strong. (sort of :)). I have an amazing group of strong supportive friends  I have an amazing business and business partner. I have  family. My karma will not be returned in some grandiose gesture, rather my karma came to me when I did my cold toes dance.

k7

k2

Growth

“I have come to a point in my life where there is nothing more important to me than my own growth. I have three boys whom I love dearly. They are my greatest joy. Yet my own growth is still more important to me. How can I say that? Because if I don’t grow; they suffer. If I don’t grow; the people I work with suffer. In a sense, if I don’t grow, the world suffers, because we are all interconnected and impact one another in powerful ways.

We have two choices: We grow or we die. It’s that simple. Growth is forward movement; anything else is stagnation, or worse, regression. I would even go so far as to say that growth is the answer to the age-old question of the meaning of life. It’s the whole point of our journey: to grow and evolve so we can remove all the parts of ourselves that keep us from living in the light, living from our essence, living as our authentic selves. When you remove the blocks, you create flow in your life and go into new thresholds of personal potential. That is the goal and growth is the only way to get there.” Baron Baptiste, Journey into Power

This quote was shared with us on our first night of yoga training and I have not stopped thinking about it, enjoy.

Ms. March

March is women’s history month… or so they say. Everyday is women’s history . Women’s history is one of my biggest passions. My focus in undergrad and grad school was women’s social history and women’s ability to navigate social change (specifically revolutions).

There are so many female historical figures that I find to be inspirational. I look to the women of the past to guide my advocacy and provide me a framework for real tangible feminist change. My goal in life is to dismantle patriarchy and I am honored to be a part of a long history of women who have worked to do the same.

In the recent months I have made some major changes in my life. I have decided to stop hoping and wishing that I could exercise my agency in my career. I have decided to reclaim my power by starting my own company. My company fuels my passion to empower women (specifically girls) to challenge the systems of oppression in our country and take ownership of their lives.

coincidence? luck? I received this message at Jewish Christmas Chinese dinner

coincidence? luck? I received this message at Jewish Christmas Chinese dinner

This evening I stumbled upon this video and could not help but weep. I feel privileged to call myself a feminist because of the groundwork the women have laid before me.

It is not a secret that Gloria Steinem is one of my heroes (maybe my all time favorite). I admire her tenacity, ability to shift over time, and humble attitude. While I watched this video I connected with her understanding that if she was going to change society, she was going to have to do it on her own terms.

For the past three years I have tried to convince myself that the work I was/am doing in the classroom was/is chiseling away at patriarchy. While I do believe the work I have done is imperative to shift injustice in our country, it is not targeted in the way that I NEED it to be. Steinem recognized that her work at the Times was never going to give her the voice she needed within the movement, and I too recognize this.

I feel connected to the courage Steinem demonstrated when she started Ms. and can only hope that I make as big of an impact as she did as I move into this new time in my career.

Click the link below to watch the video. I hope it inspires you and reminds you that you have the power to be a part of women’s history by controlling the impact you make each day.

http://video.wttw.com/video/2331391073

"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”

The Green Monsta

My delightful husband is being a wonderful partner and helping me maintain the healthy yogi lifestyle I enjoy 🙂 We have been drinking Green Smoothies each morning and I must admit… I feel wonderful! The amazing thing about these smoothies is the lack of spinach taste. You only taste the fruit but reap all of the benefits of the greens (benefits listed at bottom of post).I have consumed more greens this week than I have in quite sometime. I have had a smoothie in the morning and spinach and kale salad for lunch. My body is very happy with my choices.

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Because of our massive consumption of spinach we had to adjust our normal grocery route and went out of our way to go to the legendary Stanley’s.

spinach

(10 lbs of spinach for $10, score!)

Annie’s Green Monster Smoothie

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  • 1 scoop of whey vanilla protein powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of spinach
  • 1/2 cup of baby kale
  • pb2 (can be purchased at Wholefoods)
  • 6 ice cubes
  • 1/2 c of water
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 tbs flaxseed

Place all ingredients into blender and liquefy.

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Stephen places a tablespoon of cocoa powder in his. You can substitute the banana with avocado

Stephen’s Green Monster Smoothie

  • 1 scoop of whey vanilla protein powder
  • 1 orange
  • 1 apple
  • 1 banana
  • 1 1/2 c of spinach
  • 1/2 c of baby kale
  • 1 tbs flaxseed
  • 1/4 c of water
  • ice cubes

Place all ingredients into blender and liquefy.

 

The Benefits:

According to the research we have conducted, Green Smoothies are great for your metabolism, digestion, and provide you with an insane amount of vitamins. Since the greens are already pulverized your body can absorb the nutrients faster which allows you to benefit quicker. Further it helps regulate your digestion and gives you a ton of nutrients that we often don’t get on a regular basis (i.e. vitamin K). These smoothies also help your skin, hair and nails.

To read about the benefits of green smoothies check out the links below:

Holiday Work Cheer: Part 1

Stephen has had the honor of working for the United States Trustee over the past two semesters. The staff treated him with such respect and he had such a wonderful time working for the department. He learned a ton and will definitely remember his experience. I wanted Stephen to go out with a bang and say thank you to everyone. Also, holidays are a terrific excuse to bake. Stephen brought to work an assortment of holiday treats and the staff was quite pleased.

UST Holiday Menu

Annie’s Special Cookies (M&Ms, Pretzels, and Whopper Cookies)
Oatmeal Cookies with white cholcoate chips and dried cranberries
Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Recipes

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Annie’s Special Cookies (M&Ms, Pretzels, and Whopper Cookies)

(adapted from myrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup chopped salted pretzel sticks
  • 1 cup milk chocolate M &Ms (I used the Christmas color ones to add a festive touch!)
  • 1/2 cup of whoppers (they grind up while being mixed)
  • Cooking spray or parchment paper

Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Add eggs and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla, beating until blended.
  2. 2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended. Beat M&Ms, pretzel sticks, and whoppers just until combined. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
  3. 3. Bake at 350° for 10 to 14 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove to wire racks, and cool completely (about 15 minutes).

Oatmeal Cookies with white chocolate chips and dried cranberries

(adapted from Smittenkitten)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, cranberries, and chips.

The dough needs to be chilled before baking it. If you do not have a lot of time you can pop the dough into the freezer. If you are going to use the freezer, scoop the dough onto the baking sheets first.

The cookies should be two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

http://www.fifteenspatulas.com/homemade-peanut-butter-cups/

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I am not the best at presentation. Personally I have little patience and am not the best at taking my time to make things look great. In my world if it tastes great who cares if its not perfect. However, I do enjoy presentation… just isn’t my forte. I wanted Stephen to be able to easily transport the goods and excite the crowd with a bit of a presentation. I journeyed to Target (where I have spent TOO much of my time as of late) to try and find a tin to send the cookies in. Much to my dismay, the tins were tiny and $5.00! Talk about exploiting the Christmas spirit. They also had a disposable baskest but I wasn’t sure how large it was and for the price I didn’t want to risk it. After wandering the isles for some time I finally figured out a cute, cheap and easy solution… gift boxes! Target has holiday themed gift boxes for $2.50. I was able to buy two boxes and fit all of the goods with extra room.

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Hanukkah, done right!

“Ya know I hate this time of year… they got ALL the Christmas stuff on sale. All we got is this lousy kiosk… oh and don’t even get me started on the prices. Of course it’s the most expensive thing in the store.”- Old Jewish Woman at Michael’s craft store

While this quote is incredible and perfect for multiple reasons (mainly I love the whining), the woman has a point. Hanukkah decorations are definitely hard to come by and when you do finally find them, they are usually pretty ugly.  This year I decided to take Hanukkah into my own hands and make some of my own decorations because I wanted to celebrate the 8 days with a bit of style.  With a little inspiration, scrap book paper, and Matisyahu I am pretty satisfied with our decorations!

I try to keep our blackboard up to date.


We are trying to transition our tree to blue and silver. Right now we only have silver balls. However, I am a complete sucker for big vintage bulbs. “Happy Hanukkah” banner is from Target (2.99).

Dreidel Banner: Scrap book paper, twine, scissors, tape

I drew the dreidels and letters free hand. You can easily make stencils by printing images off the computer. I selected a variety of paper with blue hues. I taped the tips of the dreidels to twine and hung the banner with tape. I covered the tape with cut out Stars of David.

Paper:

  • dark glittery blue
  • blue and white polka dots
  • white and blue snowflakes

Center Piece: clear vase, gelt, dove chocolates, silver ornaments

Hanukkah Party

I also tried to make some Hanukkah themed food! And of course… a Jewbread house building competition!

Menu:

(See below pictures for recipes)

Cranberry Bliss Bars (Starbucks knock offs)

Latke

Assorted Cheese

Chocolate Dreidels

Glogg

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The Spread

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Cranberry Bliss Bars- heavenly

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Chocolate Dreidels

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Cheese

Image (2)Hard at work on our houses!

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Thank you Geltfiend for making an awesome Hanukkah sweater!

Recipes:

Cranberry Bliss Bars

http://www.food.com/recipe/cranberry-bliss-bars-starbucks-copycat-203229/photo

Latkes:

  • 6 eggs (whipped)
  • Trader Joes frozen hash browns (3/4 of bag)
  • 3 tbs grated onion
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tbs salt

Beat eggs by itself and then mix all ingredients together. Heat peanut oil on high and fry patties until golden brown. Serve with ketchup  sour cream and apple sauce.

Chocolate Dreidels:

Break pretzel stick and inset into marshmallow. Melt milk chocolate chips (microwave slowly, dont burn!). Take a bit of the melted chocolate and use it to adhere the hershey kiss to the bottom of the marshmallow. Drip dreidels in melt chocolate and viola!