Monday, May 29, 2017

Getting back in the habit

Very hard to see coyote on my morning run!

So, I’m trying to brush up on my writing chops as summer is coming and blogging about our travels is a must.  A three-day weekend seems the perfect little teaser for a summer with time off.  I can get so much done with an extra day in my weekend; one kids yoga class taught and one two mile hike into the hills, two runs totaling 8.5 miles, 3 days in the garden with countless weeds pulled, 4 meals prepped including leftover cheese enchiladas, veggies from the garden, mini-frittatas and some chocolate peanut butter fudge for good measure, 5 errands run to procure food for the weekend and week to come, 6 sessions sitting in the sun to rest from all this, 10-20 yoga poses in the garden to stretch out weary muscles, and 30 some report cards started (I wish I could say finished, but I still have a couple of weeks to wrap those up.)  That seems like a very full three days.  I can’t wait to see how many adventures fill my summer vacation. 

Harvesting veggies from the garden!  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Breaking the silence

So, I've had many meaningful, thoughtful things to say over the last few months and yet I've balked at blogging about them.  But it took the inspiration of a cool gift from my husband to get me blogging again.  I guess it is true, I'm a material girl!  I fell in love with this cutting board a couple of months ago and perhaps I mentioned how cool I thought it was a few times.  Though this is certainly Greg's busiest work week of the year, he managed to deliver this awesome present to his completely surprised wife! 

The cups in the board are removable, so as you chop you can separate out your broth ingredients, your compost and then clean up becomes organized and sustainable.  I love it!  I'm already putting it to good use chopping up chard, radishes and herbs from the garden.  Thanks Greg!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Writers Block

November came and went.  A period of unrest for our country surrounding the election, put into my mind a phrase from my childhood, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  I felt resistant to putting down my thoughts into words during that time.  Then December came and with it, classroom colds, seasonal activities, and commitments that kept me busy right up through the holidays.  So this week, I am finally well, less exhausted, and ready to open myself up to the page and see what comes.  Instead of giving myself a particular goal, like writing a blog once a week or once a month and having my writing feel like just another to do on my list, I would rather have in mind to write when I feel inspired.  This may happen several times this winter and spring, or I may not write again until summer vacation.  It is my hope that allowing myself this freedom will create space for creativity and an opportunity to love writing once more. 

It is interesting to me that last time I blogged in October, I felt that making time to write needed to a priority in the new year, a scheduled activity, and trying to implement that in the last couple of months seemed impossible or it snuffed out any creative ember from the get go.  One goal I do have for this year is to spend less time in front of a computer.  To spend my mornings in quiet meditation and movement and my evenings in reflection and relaxation, is something I would like to do more of this year.  While that may limit blogging, I am hoping it may inspire me to start journaling once again, on paper!  I have paper journals from age 8 on up, granted I got less regular about those journals in college and beyond and in recent years have struggled to do so at all with the exception of an occasional entry in a mutual journal kept with my grandma, my husband or my mom.  I don’t know what the new year will bring for me as a writer but perhaps by relinquishing my expectations something new or renewed will come. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

On writing

I have been very recalcitrant in my blog writing over the past month or two.  To be honest, I sort of blew my writing wad on documenting our European travels and craved a break when we returned.  But also, as school got started, I felt swamped by all the classroom demands and justified putting my writing on the backburner.  As my birthday approaches once again, some invisible voice chimes in about being true to one’s self and making time for what is important.  It may well be grandma’s voice, or just my Jiminy Cricket conscience sitting heavily on my shoulder whistling into my ear, “Write more this year!”  So, though I haven’t much time or energy tonight, I am getting these few words down, to remind myself that this is a priority.  I carve out time to run in the early hours before the sun is up, while most of my city still sleeps.  Teaching yoga and taking classes, these commitments are scheduled into my week.  So why not map out the time to put words down, a time for reflection and expression?  Rhetorical questions, I know.  But questions for me, that are worth asking.  If you were to carve out time for something more that nurtures your soul and your self during your work-week, what would it be?  Just wondering…for me the written word equals a release, an opportunity to share, to be heard.  What is your release, your therapy?  Our lives are full and busy, we all must find ways to slow down, look back on the events of the week and determine a path on which to move forward.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Casting about

At the end of my long run on Saturday, I crossed paths with a fisherman.  This gentleman was wearing his fishing vest, bucket hat adorned with artistically engineered flies, and of course, his trusty pole was in his hand.  Oh, I forgot to mention, there was no water in sight.  This fellow was barefoot in the park casting into the sprawling expanse of manicured lawn.  Despite my disheveled sweaty state, I began to formulate creative banter that I might engage in with this dry fly fisher.  The first quip to cross my mind was, “Are they biting?”  This struck me as perhaps too obvious a question, so I reconsidered.  Perhaps, I could ask him if he felt like a fish out of water, but no too cliché.  Finally the thought, “Dang, I didn’t know the drought was that bad!” crossed my mind but didn’t quite escape my lips.  It was then I realized as fun as it might be for me to comment on this guy’s strange choice and space for recreation, it was not necessary for me to comment.  Though my intent would be playful, it might be perceived as a criticism of his choice. This man was doing something he enjoyed and though he could not be in the traditional place for that activity, he had found a way, to be outdoors, to be moving in meditation or practice of the sport he enjoyed.  Also he seemed unconcerned with doing something that was somewhat unconventional and unique in public.  Truth be told aside from being tickled by seeing this interesting activity unfold, I admired him.  My words could stay in my head, so he could enjoy his land fishing in peace.  

Perhaps inspired by the casting about I had observed on Saturday morning, I spent the long weekend searching for something.  A long stroll to the farmer’s market and back on Sunday, was pleasantly laced with whispers of Autumn.  The cooler air we enjoyed this weekend foreshadowed the fall season, perhaps that is what I was seeking.  Labor day, an extra day off, began with a hike on Mt. Baldy Trail.  Though the hills were buzzing with weekend warriors enjoying their free time, this lesser known trail offered solitude and reflection.  Maybe my desire was to find a place in nature to be alone and thoughtful.To be honest, I am not sure what I was hoping to find this weekend, but along the way, I found movement, nature, quiet times, naps, and good food.  Who can ask more than that?

Speaking of good food, one of the recipes I’ve been playing with in the last few weeks is a gluten free veggie friendly pizza recipe.  Here is my most recent take on this meal with options for toppings according to your mood and taste.

Zucchini Pizza Crust

3 cups grated zucchini (squeeze out excess liquid)
2 grated garlic cloves
1 egg (beaten)
1/3 cup almond meal
¼ cup coconut flour
1 cup grated mozzarella
(Mix all of this together well)

Bake at 450 for 15-20 min pressed into a pizza plate or cookie tray greased with olive oil or sprayed with coconut oil.

Possible toppings: burrata, shitake mushrooms, other veggies, homemade pesto, fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce, shaved pecorino, spinach, artichoke hearts, olives, pine nuts, what-have-you!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Keeping it fresh

When the weather is really warm, yes I’m talking about those 100 plus days we’ve been having in Southern California, heating up the house to cook can seem torturous!  So, I’ve started looking at the weekly weather forecast before planning our meals.  If it is going to be north of the nineties, we are either grilling or going raw with the menu. 

Summer lunches are such a treat.  Even though Greg is back at work, he can often come home for lunch and though I know we won’t be sharing this meal for much longer when I return to the classroom, for now we are enjoying lunches at home. 

Here are a few examples of how we are keeping it fresh, even as the mercury keeps rising.

Summer Salad

This is a quick and simple preparation.  Toss arugula with some farmer’s market tomatoes (or backyard if you’ve got ‘em, our garden is deader than a doornail due to the drought).  Toss in some shredded basil, fresh mozzarella, toasted pecans (or pinenuts), and dress with a simple balsamic vinegrette. 

Veggie tacos

We do some version of tacos each week, whether its fish or veggie, lunch or dinner. We grill the corn tortillas just to get them warm and slightly crisp.  Either grill your zucchini and warm the tomatoes whole on the grill, then dice (or you could sautee with a little oil in a pan, we have a side burner on our grill, so I’ll often use that versus heating up the kitchen).  I usually season with some cumin to get that tacoy flavor.  Here we have topped them with a spicy sour cream (just stir in some Tapatio) and some crumbled ricotta salata (or you could use cojita cheese).

Tofu steaks with peanut sauce over rice and salads

We did fire up the rice cooker for this one.  Simply marinated tofu steaks (firm tofu cut in half to reduce thickness) in homemade peanut sauce (I’m sure I’ve published my recipe for that somewhere in this blog) then grill until warm.  Serve over rice drizzled with more peanut sauce and be sure to include lots of fresh veggies. We had some leftover purple cabbage salad (which I usually serve with fish tacos) and I spiralized a zucchini and sliced up some bell pepper to make a healthy and colorful plate. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Self Discipline

Self proclaimed fitness freak that I am, one might not guess that I too lie in bed before a workout debating the merits of sleeping-in versus running five miles. Yet, this happens more often than not. Once out the door and struggling through that first mile uphill, does it get any better? Well, I am committed to running at that point but my inner voice still bargains, “You could turn around now and have 1 mile under your belt and go back to bed.” At this point, I usually attempt to distract myself. How is my breathing? Can I even that out? What about my stride or my posture? Can it be tweaked to be more efficient or aligned? I hear my Nike running app lady whisper into my ear a surprisingly slow time for my first mile, my pace is as apathetic as my attitude. This is where I start to question, again as a form of distraction to the discouraging mind,…why exactly do I run?

 I run 10 -12 miles a week during the school year. During the summer when I don’t teach elementary, that number climbs to closer to 15. However the question remains, why do I do it? I’m not training for anything. I do not plan to run a half marathon or place in a 10K. I’m certainly not currently running for speed, in fact when I note those slow paced miles, I remind myself that I am not running for speed but for practice. That word practice is laced with some pretty strong undertones of achievement. “Practice makes perfect?” As a yoga practitioner, I know there is no perfect expression of any pose and that yoga practice, is not practice for a performance but a form of physical meditation, a habit of mind and body. Just as I have a yoga practice, I have a running practice and though both of these share a physical component, the true work that happens out there on the trail, or on the mat, is that of the mind. When my mind tells me I don’t want to do the work, an internal struggle erupts. Whether or not we realize it, most of us talk to ourselves. Perhaps not out loud (though some of us can’t help that sometimes) but we all have a story we tell ourselves. Sometimes it is not the nicest story. Here is what I have learned. Self discipline is not about self punishment. It is about learning to expect the best of yourself but treating yourself with compassion along the way. That negative self-talk will most likely creep in, doubting, second-guessing, blaming or outright shaming. What the practice of yoga and the practice of running have helped me to develop is a second voice. (Don’t worry I’m not talking multiple personality disorder, I’m talking about developing a counter point, an advocate, a friendly and supportive internal message.) While the self-negating voice might intone, “You are slow.” “This is pointless!” “I don’t want to do this.” “You can’t ignore the nagging physical discomforts of this work!”, the nurturing inner monolog retorts, “You don’t have to be fast.” “This is a practice, there doesn’t have to be a point.” “Why not? Let’s explore that.” “Investigate the discomfort, learn about your body, would it feel better if you engaged a different muscle or altered your alignment?” That back and forth, that conversation with one’s self really equals reflection and with reflection we get to see who we are at this moment in time and who we are striving to become.