Sunday, September 30


rain, rain, rain to make us happy through most of Saturday
loving the time with my mamas, teaching prenatal yoga
then afternoon naps, family trip to The Jumpy Place
right in the middle of afternoon birthday party madness
but the little didn't care, he loved to run and run and bounce
and we loved watching him spend himself silly
bean and rice bowls for the Texas game
early to bed for me, curling up with a great novel--
how I love being deep into a fat book, all the delicious hours ahead

Sunday dawned grey and green, late pancakes
a long baby nap means yoga for mama
before I head back to the kitchen to make muffins and 
pumpkin walnut granola, and surely we will be out
in this gorgeous, breezy fall day before it is over
and the babe is asleep and the hubs and I fold laundry
while watching Mad Men. I love our life.

How was yours? Linking up with Amanda.

Friday, September 28

healthy eating strategies for the busy mom, pt 2: inspiration

No doubt one of the most dreaded question in a mother's life is "what's for dinner?" My son is too young to ask it yet, but heck: I don't even like asking it myself. This is why yummy food blogs and Pinterest boards are so vital to keeping me inspired, and keeping us well fed. These online resources are quickly eclipsing real paper-and-glue cookbooks in terms of actual number of meals cooked, though, of course, cookbooks still hold a place near and dear to my heart, and near at hand in the kitchen. Of these, there are two that I find myself reaching for, month after month, year after year:

the re:bar cookbook  I've had this cookbook longer than I've had most things in my life: close to ten years. It is the inspired product of my favorite restaurant in my former home of Victoria, BC, and a strong contender for favorite restaurant of all time. I never tire of this one, and after all these years, there are still new recipes that pop up at me every now and then, and make me fall in love all over again. My life wouldn't be the same without their peanut sauce recipe (page 40, I know that without having to look it up) and their Big Barn Bowtie Pasta dish, a fall dish of caramelized cabbage, sage and brown butter, is a perennial favorite in our house.

super natural every day  Heidi Swanson is my number one food muse. I will shout my love for her from the rooftops. Her cookbooks and website account for close to half of all the meals I cook, or want to cook. No joke. Her second cookbook, published in 2011, is a marvel and a treasure. It doesn't hurt that her photography is as appealing as her recipes. She hasn't failed me once. Her buttery Bran Muffins are a great way to start the day; her White Bean, Cabbage and Potatoes dish is a marvelous way to end it at the dinner table. (We eat a lot of cabbage in our house.)

Meal planning went from being a chore to a pleasure once I discovered Pinterest, which I use mostly as a food mood board. I pin recipes that look and sound good to me as I come across them on the many food blogs I subscribe to, that way they don't get lost in the shuffle of read items. What's especially great about this is that food bloggers typically post recipes specific to the season, so it's easy to get excited about stuff that would be good to eat right now. When it's time to plan meals for the coming week, I simply scroll through, get inspired, get hungry, write up my grocery list, and boom: done. I love how handy this is, with the iPhone app, I have food inspiration always at the ready, which means that odd like bits of time can get used for cookery brainstorming sessions. (Note: I haven't tried the service Plan To Eat, but I think it sounds great, and if this meal planning business is a particular hardship for you, you might want to check it out.)

101 Cookbooks  Heidi Swanson, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. This site, and the culinary genius behind it, has transformed the way I eat. I cannot say enough good things about it, so I won't bore you with superlatives, except to say: go get you some. It's almost time to start making this soup again, which is only my very favorite soup recipe OF ALL TIME. Caps are necessary here, people. I am serious about soup.

Everybody Likes Sandwiches  We do. We also love cole slaw, and granola, and that's why everybody should check out this site. This pumpkin walnut granola is at the top of my to-make list.

The Smitten Kitchen  Deb has a new cookbook coming out. While I'm waiting for it, I might just make the cacio e pepe pasta a few more times.

Naturally Ella  These tacos! That it all. (Also--more stunning food photography! Swoon.)

Dinner: A Love Story  Beautifully written about the why of family dinner, not just the what.

The Sprouted Kitchen  Ok, ok I am very late to this party. I don't think I can go very much longer before making these muffins.

I'm always looking for new sources of foodie inspiration, especially as it's about to finally be fall here in Texas, the season to get excited about cooking again. Squash! Stews! Squash stew! I'd love for you to share some of your favorites, and also any meal planning/marketing strategies that serve you & your family. Bon appétit!

Tuesday, September 25

healthy eating strategies for the busy mom, pt 1

my simple salad, with corn and black beans

As a stay-at-home mama of a busy toddler, eating solid, sustaining food is a non-negotiable: I need the fuel to keep up with him. Also, since I tend towards getting hangry--meaning that when my blood sugar plummets, so does my mood, often dramatically so--eating early, often and well is key to keeping our days flowing smoothly. Here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks that help keep me full and happy all day long. (Well, most days, anyway.)

Have a go-to meal  This comes in handy when arriving home around lunchtime, hungry. There isn't a lot of time to think about or prepare food, so it helps to have one thing you can make that 1)  will be quick, 2) will make you happy, and 3) you most likely have all the components already in the house. For me, this is avocado on toast. Toast piece of bread (I am partial to this one), butter it, rub the cut-side of a clove of garlic on buttered toast, top with a sliced or mashed quarter or half avocado, then sprinkle with generous amounts of salt and pepper. Eat. Sometimes I will do this atop an egg-in-the-basket. It also works well on half a whole wheat pita. Or a tortilla. You get the idea. Often this will serve just to tide me over as I prepare a salad or noodles, and feed the boy.

Dress it up  Homemade dressings are one of the most important tools in my arsenal. On any given day I'm likely to have 2 or 3 in the fridge to choose from. I have many favorites. (Often appropriated from other recipes for my own purposes.) I use them on salads, but also on rice or quinoa bowls, with noodles, or to add zing to leftovers. Salsa fits nicely into this category as well. Here's another standby, a Thai-inspired, fat-free sauce from a most beloved cookbook:

Spicy lime sauce (adapted from the re:bar cookbook)
1 cup hot water
4T brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1t sambal oelek (or chili-garlic sauce)
4T fish sauce
2T soy sauce
6T lime juice 
Dissolve sugar in water, and let cool. Blend in other ingredients. Especially loves to mingle with rice noodles and quinoa-edamame bowl. I got hungry just typing that.

Dress it down  Often when I make a cole slaw or quinoa salad, I store it in the fridge, undressed. This gives me the option of using one of many dressings I may have on hand, and it stays fresher and more appetizing (read, less soggy) for a while longer. It also makes it easier to make compound meals out of various elements in the fridge: I might cook some black rice noodles, mix it up with a simple salad, and toss the delicious mess with some shredded spinach, all of it drenched in spicy lime sauce (see above.) Yum. Is it lunchtime yet?

Shred it  Seriously, once I started thinly slicing up baby spinach before adding it to salads, it got a whole lot more mileage. I will eat way more sliced spinach than I will whole-leaf. Who knew. Also? Mandolines are amazing. (I have this one.) I can't believe how much inferior cole slaw I painfully and made without one. Never again. Cole slaw is one kick-ass, zesty way to get crispy veggies on your plate. And, cole slaw with rice noodles and peanut sauce? Stellar.

Blend it  If the answer to the agonizing question of "What can I eat nooooow?" isn't avocado toast, it's likely a smoothie. Smoothies are my favorite form of nutrient delivery. Extra bonus points for being portable. My two main standbys are the green smoothie with protein powder (search on Google or Pinterest and watch it explode with recipes; I am partial to pineapple) or the following:

PB banana "milkshake" smoothie
3/4c vanilla or chocolate unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop protein powder
1 banana
1T peanut or almond butter
2-3 ice cubes 
Combine first 3 ingredients in blender in order listed; blend. Add remaining two, and blend again. Share with toddler. (In lieu of protein powder, a few tablespoons of oatmeal and/or chia seeds add a nice thickness to this one. I bet a frozen banana would be awesome, too.) Please note: this won't make a very sweet smoothie. Add agave nectar or maple syrup to taste.

Get a head start  This one kinda goes without staying, but eating well fast on weekdays is so much easier when you've done a bit of legwork on the weekend. It's a very happy week when I've taken time on the weekend to replenish a few of these staples: dressings (see above), base salad (undressed!), plain cooked quinoa or rice, hummus, granola, muffins.

Make more  Another easy score: when cooking staples like quinoa or rice, make more. Extra quinoa gets thrown into salads or noodle bowls for an easy protein kick, or gets folded into muffins. Same goes for rice, although leftover rice most often gets the fried-rice treatment. Fried-rice-style quinoa? Get outta town.

The bowl principle  A favorite restaurant of mine, The Steeping Room, serves a fantastic meal called The Buddha Bowl: it is made up of kale, sweet potatoes, tofu, with the grain of the day, and the bean/pulse of the day, and the dressing of your choice. I'll often do riffs on this with two or more of the following: quinoa, simple salad, cole slaw, edamame, spinach, rice or buckwheat noodles, tofu. Or, a cool-weather favorite: sauteed onions, brown rice, kale, lentils. And what to say of rice, refried beans, avocado, salsa and tortilla chips? You get the idea: Gather ingredients. Put in bowl. Dress. Eat. Post a picture to Instagram. (Also: the glory bowl.)

Please note: my 20-month old lives, despite my most valiant efforts, almost exclusively on bananas, crackers, cantaloupe, peanut butter sandwiches, and yogurt and granola, none of which need a whole lot of preparation. Your mileage with children who eat like regular humans may vary.

Check back later this week for my favorite sources of inspiration, pantry and fridge staples, and meal planning strategies. Also, I'd love to hear some of your go-to recipes and tricks! Please share in the comments. Or, better yet, link to your Pinterest food board!


Friday, September 21

this week

This week has really taken it out of me.

There have been four doctor/vet visits in all, all of them involving someone I love (including me) being poked by sharp needles. I popped my hamstring in yoga class and limped for a few days. I got pulled over for a WAY overdue inspection sticker.

So, every night I have been in bed before 10pm, reading.

There has been an iced mocha, an iced americano, an iced pumpkin spice latte.

We have been eating "kale and--": kale and Annie's mac and cheese, kale in tacos, kale in quesadillas, then going around again.

Inspired by Hannah's Making Space Cleanse, I have found moments to sit, and soak in quiet. To wittle down my "need-tos" and "to-dos". I have been letting the floors get fuzzy and feeding too many pretzels to my son.

I am doing what I can, and not much more.

It's been hard. And it's been okay.

There has been rain, and rain lilies, and now a cooler, greener world.

Making a practice of pausing, breathing, noticing. Speaking softly, both to myself and to others. Or trying to. Allowing myself to be just as I am, allowing the moment to be exactly as it is.

Looking forward to the weekend oh-so much.

Peace to you. Happy fall.

Tuesday, September 18

there is no cure for hot and cold

"The way to resolve our resistance is to meet it face-to-face.

When we feel resentment because the room is too hot,

we could meet its heat and feel its fieriness and its heaviness.

When we feel resentment because the room is too cold, 

we could meet the cold and feel its iciness and its bite.

When we want to complain about the rain, we could feel its wetness instead.

When we worry because the wind is shaking our windows,

we could meet the wind and hear its sound.

Cutting our expectations for a cure is a gift we can give ourselves.

There is no cure for hot and cold. They will go on forever.

After we have died, the ebb and flow will still continue.

Like the tides of the sea, like day and night--this is the nature of things.

Being able to appreciate, being able to look closely,

being able to open our minds--this is the core of maitri."

-Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

(emphasis mine)

Sunday, September 16


"Rain makes its own night, long mornings with the lamps left on."
-Anne Michaels

savoring a long, slow sunday morning
my turn to sleep in, waking to find my boys
wandering outside, silas dragging the pillowcase he just this week
appropriated as his blankie

tea for a change, and watching silas sloppily but successfully eat granola
then knitting on the couch, and the rain started
how we cherish the sound of rain, the smell of damp earth
how it draws us in, invites us to linger
over tea and poetry, and old journals

feeling a stirring of hunger, eggs maybe
wanting something I can pour maple syrup on
it will soon be time to change out of PJs--so odd
for me to still be in them, so late--
but not just yet, not just yet

Playing along with Amanda. Won't you share, too?

Tuesday, September 11

try something new: a 40-day practice

this was taken in our friends' bedroom, where we were housesiting over the weekend

It seems like the whole blogosphere is preoccupied, come September, with re-establishing rhythms or implementing new routines, which is necessary for all the members of the family, not just the youngsters returning to school, after a summer of goofing off. In the yoga community, when wanting to break an old habit or create a new one, practitioners often turn to a 40-day practice. This means committing to doing, or not doing, one specific thing for a period of 40 days. I've often read that "yogic science tells us that it takes 40 days to create or break a new habit." I can't vouch for the scientific claims of that statement; however, 40 days feels like just the right length to commit to. Not too long, so it seems manageable and you won't get discouraged, but not too short, so you have time to explore a variety of days and circumstances.

I'm a big fan of the 40-day practice, and have done a few over the years. After an especially wonderful yin yoga workshop earlier this summer I committed to a 40-day practice of doing butterfly pose in the evenings. I'd slowly moved away from practicing cooling poses in the evening, and the workshop reminded me how good they felt, and how much I missed them. The 40 days covered a tumultuous period of time for our family, involving two major trips. If I hadn't made that commitment, there are many days when I would've skipped practice even though I really needed it. That's one really nice feature of this kind of endeavor. Even for a seasoned practitioner like me, who knows how good yoga makes me feel and how much I benefit from it, the temptation is often great, especially at the end of the day, to slack off and to skip it. Having committed to a 40-day practice takes me over that hump of hesitation and settles me onto the mat where, truth be told, I am always happy to be.

I don't make it to the mat every night now that the 40 days are over, but I do so often, and when I don't, I miss it. That length of time was enough to make practicing cooling poses in the evening what feels right, what I really want to be doing. In fact, I am retooling my evening routine now to shut screens off around 9pm, and devote the time before bed to self-care and grooming, yoga, and reading real books in bed. I feel so good about that change.

My new 40-day practice I've hinted at here. Now that Silas now regularly sleeps past 6am, I can do that most wonderful thing I've been dreaming of ever since I became a mother: waking up before he does so I can have some quiet time to myself at the start of the day. Once I'm up, I splash some water on my face, then sit on my cushion, take three deep cleansing breaths, do a few upper-body stretches, then recite this aspiration for my day. Simple. If given the time, I'll stay longer, do some breathwork, and maybe even meditate for a whole 10 minutes. The mornings I get to do all that are lovely. But just having settled on the cushion for even a few brief moments centers me, roots me, and makes me feel accomplished: one more day of 40 in which I kept this commitment to myself.

I've mostly used the concept of the 40-day practice for yoga; however, you could do any number of things. You could commit to 40 days of green smoothies, 40 days of reading a few pages of fiction, 40 days of getting outside with your family no matter the weather or circumstances, 40 days of mindful breathing, journaling, no Facebooking, no gossipping, no gluten, etc, etc. 40 days is a nice length of time in which to explore making changes that have been nagging at you without having to commit to changing your whole life. 40 days is short enough to be doable, yet it is long enough to change your life.

Won't you join me? I'd love to hear what changes you've been meaning to make, old habits to break, or new ones to embrace. Maybe a 40-day practice be right for you? Would you be interested in a small, mindful community of support and accountability to see you through your own 40-day practice? Do share your thoughts in the comments below!

Thursday, September 6

doing something different

This week I've added a new small practice to my mornings, now that Silas wakes up--oh glory of glories--somewhere around 6:30am, and that I can actually wake up before him. I sit on my cushion, in the corner of my bedroom, and after a few simple upper-body stretches, recite the following aspiration: "May I see what I do. May I do something different. May this be for me a way of life." The aspiration is from Pema Chodron, and expresses accurately and succinctly what it means to live a life of awareness: to observe our habitual ways of reacting and responding to our circumstances, to the small events of our days, and to, as Pema says, "see neurosis as neurosis"; to shift away from those habitual patterns, to try something different instead; and to do it over and over again.

I had an opportunity to see this seed practice bear fruit yesterday. Both of our vehicles were in some state of disrepair, which it would be too long and boring to explain. Suffice it to say that there were tears, despair and self-pity yesterday morning when, all dressed and ready to head to the gym with the little man at 8am, I found the back tire of the only car I could drive completely flat. It's still 100 degrees everyday here in Central Texas (I KNOW) and the thought of being stuck out on the road with a flat tire and toddler in tow prevented me from inflating the tire and going to the gym anyway. Quickly flashed through my mind images of days and days stuck at home with Silas, unable to go anywhere (did I mention that car also didn't have a working A/C?), too hot to even go outside. Though the morning was muggy and almost slimy feeling I made the best of the situation: since I was already dressed for it, I strapped the boy in his stroller, and went for a quick walk down the road.

Moving my body, being outside, helped the gears of my mind shift out of despair mode and into action mode, and soon I had a plan. Not too long after I had a babysitter, and appointment at a tire shop. Before I could go, of course, I had to inflate the tire.There I was, sweaty and febrile, stomping around the backyard, trying to find an outlet for the cord that would power up the tire inflator, cursing the godforsaken Texas heat and my bleached, brittle yard, when a loud voice in my mind shouted "I can't handle this!" And just as soon as those words echoed in my brain did a smaller voice chime in, like a sweet but firm tap on my shoulder, whispering "You're handling it."

That stopped me in my tracks. It was true--I was handling it. I was cranky but I had a plan. At that moment the morning's seed practice burst out into fruit, and I was able to see the habitual pattern--the talking to myself, narrating my miserable experience, reinforcing the feeling of despair and self-pity--and do something different instead, which was to acknowledge that, as is almost always the case, everything would be just fine. That I was up to the task that my life was presenting me, and that the biggest obstacles lay not in the flat tire and pounding heat and bleached grass and injustice of it all--that the biggest obstacle to happiness and connection in that moment was my own mind. And that my mind was something I could change in that very instant.

Silas had a blast at a new friend's house, where they had a train table and an outdoor slide and many other wonders. I got the tires AND the A/C fixed, knitting and listening to podcasts and reading blogs while I waited. The day's challenges were met, after the initial meltdown, with equanimity. I was even singing along to the radio on my way back. I had handled it, and all would be well.

For that day at least. And now to do it all again today, and tomorrow, and surely again the day after.

Tuesday, September 4

the start of something new

I know that I'm not the only one who feels that September marks the beginning of something new as much, if not more, as January does. Even for those of us who have long been out of school--and especially for those of us who tend towards unhealthy affections for all things stationery--September, with its old promise of new school supplies, new outfits, new teachers, new friends, new chances, is wildly enticing. I remember, in grade school one year, before the start of class, I spent hours in elaborate daydreams about the various personas I would affect once school started, one for every day of the week: romantic girl on Monday, tough chick on Tuesday, etc. Back then, I believed that, once September rolled around, I could even become a brand new person. That seductive thought isn't entirely gone, though now I'd settle for being just one new person for all the days of the week. I think that would be less confusing for my husband.

Or better yet: just be newly comfortable in the skin of this same-old person would be great. My friend Laura and I have been talking extensively this past week about the curative powers of clearing clutter: how it opens up space and possibilities. Over the past week, I've been clearing clutter off of my to-do list, taking care of tasks that have been nagging at me for months. Buying the domain name for this here blog last week felt like a huge step into new possibilities: declaring to myself and the world that I am serious about this space, that I am passionately committed to it. This past weekend, I've tackled a similar task: completely overhauling my yoga website, and switching it from Wordpress to Blogger--sorry Wordpress, I just have no love for your clunky interface. There was an immediate imperative to do so, since I am starting to teach two brand-new classes this week, about which I am super excited. I feel that giving my website a new look will open the door to greater and better things for my teaching. But even beyond my being happy with the site itself, I feel even happier about the mental space that's opened up now that I no longer have that task hanging over my head. What freedom!

I have also taken on the task of sorting my son's clothes, and moving them from the cubby in our en-suite bathroom which serves as a changing table, to the chest of drawers in his bedroom. At 19 months he had bunches of clothes that no longer fit, and bunches more that had been given to us and needed to be sorted, washed, put away. I cannot tell you the feeling of glee and accomplishment I got from having this done. More than once I have gone into his room, opened each of the drawers in turn, gazed at the neatly folded stacks of clothes, and sighed a happy sigh. 

And while my son is the one going back to school--two days a week at a local Mother's Day Out program--with a new classroom and new teachers and friends, I'm also stepping into a new space in terms of my work. My word of the year is expand, and I feel like I'm only now coming into the fullness of its possibilities. After a slightly difficult summer, and a restorative time away, I am so thrilled to be coming home, after dropping my son off at school, and turn to my work: this writing, my teaching, both of which I have great, exciting ideas for. I've ordered new Moleskine notebooks, stocked up on my favorite Muji pens on my recent layover at JFK airport. I'm clearing space in my home--my own closet is next!--and refreshed my online spaces. Any day now the oppressive Texas heat will drop and the feel of our days will match the freshness I can feel inside my heart. September, how I love you.

I'd love to hear from you on this. What new spaces are you creating and stepping into this month? Where are you looking for the fresh and new in your days? What is creating that expansive feeling in your heart? What supplies or treats are you celebrating the unofficial New Year with? Perhaps a bouquet of freshly-sharpened pencils? Leave a note in the comments!

:: A few housekeeping notes: I have updated the link love in the sidebar, and created a separate page to hold all of those lovely links. I've also recently figured out why the pictures I've been posting have been all fuzzy-looking. Here's to looking a little sharper. yes? ::