Three things I’m loving…

  1. In September 2011, my triglycerides were elevated at 184.  I had bloodwork done again a few weeks ago and they are down to 80!!  That is incredible and I’m so excited!  (Yes, excitement over triglycerides probably means I’m getting old.)   My nurse consultant was astonished at this drop and wanted to know what I had done.  I was vegan when they were high so that wasn’t it and we all know I’ve not secretly been exercising (oh no).  What then?  I cut out gluten.  That’s it.  Yes folks, it makes THAT much difference.
  2. Totally excited and amazed over EFT.  Just started and am so optimistic about the results!
  3. Sprouting seeds in my kitchen windowsill.  In the past couple weeks I have enjoyed sprouted lentils, adzuki beans, crimson clover, valencia peanuts (they were GOOD!), and buckwheat.  So very easy and nutritious!  All you need are seeds and jars and voila!

A mantra I’m loving now…

Cuppow wow.

Cuppow:  My favorite thing of the moment.

FYI:  I bought mine from Greyslater where shipping is MUCH more reasonable than through the Cuppow site.  And, to my delight, they used totally recycled packaging.  Bonus points.

I really figured I’d use my Cuppow the most for drinking coffee and hot tea but I actually use it the most for plain old water.  It is brilliant and, for some very odd reason that I can’t explain, makes me want to drink MORE water.

Is it just like an adult sippie cup?  Why yes, yes it is.  But… I love it!  Highly recommended!

Modality Review: Power of Breathing

I recently bought an audio recording called The Power of Breathing.

I’m a big fan of natural healing modalities and breathwork is, of course, a big one, one of the main ones, I’d say.  I decided to pay more attention to breathwork because of reduced lung capacity resulting from being on breathing machines with both back surgery and heart surgery.  I get short of breath very easily and figured working to enhance that couldn’t hurt.

This audio is very much like a guided meditation except that it focuses solely on your breathing.  There are three levels and an introduction.  You can listen to the intro once and then go through each level, spending enough time on one level to get completely comfortable with it before moving on to the next level.  I guess once you work up to Level 3 then you just do that one forevermore.  I don’t know.

To be perfectly honest, I’m trained as a yoga teacher so I can do breathwork on my own should I like to.  However, the guidance is really helpful to me.  I like going by something that is timed out, that reminds you to inhale and exhale and that has a method so this works nicely for me.

A bit first about the actual recording.

This recording is about as simple as it gets.  It has a dulcet voice telling you when to inhale, hold and “out” (as they say on the recording).  It has a lovely stream sound in the background and each time they say to exhale (aka. “out”), the stream makes a loud gushing noise.  So, perhaps instead of simple, I should say that it is about as predictable as it gets.  But, you don’t really need or want shock and awe with a breathwork recording, huh?

This is NOT like a lot of meditations.  There is no instruction to “closer your eyes and focus on the backs of your eyelids and gently let go of any thoughts that enter your mind.”  This isn’t that.  I likened it to a meditation previously because the very basis of meditation is to focus on your breath and this recording does just that.  It just doesn’t also admonish you to shoo away your thoughts and have a totally clear mind.  The focus of this recording is your breath.  Period.

I also really like that the sessions are very reasonable in length.  You aren’t going to be sitting doing breathwork for an hour or so.  The first one is about ten minutes and they grow just a wee bit in length with each level.  Ten minutes is totally doable and won’t hyperventilate you either, which is nice.

So, what are the results, you ask?  Well, I’ve not been doing this modality long but I can tell you that it feels good when I’m in the process of doing it.  Oddly, it makes me feel very sleepy right after I finish the recording.  I think that will pass though once I work my way up in the practice.  The key is consistency, of course.  You have to do this daily at least for benefit, which is very easy to do with how the recording is set up.

I plan to report again on results when I’ve been at it longer than I have been so far.

So, I have all positive things to say about the recording, the length, the ease of using it, the customer service (they were very helpful and prompt in response to questions I had) and the length of time it took to receive the CD.  All good things.  I only have two things I’m not so gung-ho on.  Price and format.  I paid $47 for this recording (it is being offered for $37 in the month of March).  For what it is, $47 is firmly on the high side.  And the format.  It is an actual, hard-copy CD.  It would be so lovely if they offered a downloadable version alongside the hard-copy.  Seems like a lot of waste to send a hard-copy from the UK whenever someone wants to try this out.

Overall, yes, breathwork is a great thing to try out.  This is a good way to do it if you want a good breath workout in a compact amount of time.

Disclosure:  The Power of Breathing is refunding my purchase price in exchange for this review. 

Into the Wild

Only once in awhile do I see a movie that really makes me think for several days afterward.  At this point in time, I can only name two others: The Life of David Gale and A Home at the End of the World.  However, as of right now, I’m adding Into the Wild to that list.

So, this is a pretty old movie and I’m a bit late to the game.  I came to want to see this movie in a very round about way, because of the music from it actually.  Before I got my hands on a copy, I read a lot online about Chris McCandless and was quite fascinated with him before I ever saw the film.

More than anything, the film is beautifully shot.  I loved all the scenery from Chris’ wanderings, especially those in Alaska.  The film was slow in spots (or so I thought) and eerily sad because, well because you KNOW how it ends after all.  I think Chris was portrayed as some sort of a modern-day saint because his fate was known throughout the movie; he was like God to many of the people he encountered, already dead in a sense, with insight and wisdom beyond what might seem humanly possible.  This really only added to the intrigue of him, I think, and made you feel at least somewhat sorry for him.

I’ve read online that there are a great many people who believe that Chris went to Alaska to die, that that was his purpose.  I disagree.  I think surely he had to know it was a possibility but maybe perhaps because of his youth or his adventurous spirit or his high moral standard he thought that fate wouldn’t apply to him.  I perceived an invincible (although not at all arrogant) attitude in him of sorts, although, of course, that could be completely wrong.  However, to not prepare for the Alaskan wilderness any better than he did shows over-confidence at least.  It seemed that Chris wanted to be friends with nature more than nature wanted to be friends with him.

But, I cannot fault him for that.  To live an adventurous life is to take things one step too far and, of course, everyone dies.  Chris wanted to live in the wilds of Alaska – and, really, who could blame him? – and he did.  Perhaps he was over-confident, perhaps he wasn’t prepared enough, perhaps he didn’t consider that death might be a result for him.  But, none of that is really the point, is it?  The point is that he LIVED.  He lived on his own terms, he followed his dream and made it happen.

And this is what mainly provokes thought.

However, I was also very struck by how connected Chris was to the natural world, even eschewing and running from human connections in favor of it.  He had family circumstances that pushed him from them but he had others along the way who wanted to love him and he ran from that too.  Only in the end did he see the need for both nature and sharing happiness with others.  Only when it was too late to do so.  But, the realization must have been worth something to him too.

I love that he lived with so little, that he lived so close to nature, that he chose to live that way, that that was happiness to him and that even through what must have been a horrific death, he acknowledged a happy life.

It also strikes me that Chris McCandless was just an ordinary guy.  He wasn’t famous in his life.  He did all that he did out of the desire to do so, not the desire to be acknowledged.  Only in his death has he been made famous.  It makes me wonder what ordinary people among us are harboring adventurous spirits and questions about life just as insightful and complex as his.  And what answers we could come to should we allow it.

I’m sure to Chris, this was all very normal.  He obviously felt that he was doing what he should be doing and saw nothing out of the ordinary enough for any fanfare whatsoever.  And this only adds to the appeal and mystique of him because for so many of us, following our dream is not even second-nature.  To Chris, it was first-nature.  To him, there was no other way to live.

It makes me sad to think that his death might in any way have overshadowed the life that he lived.  From everything I can gather about him, he would have much rather died young having lived a full life on his own terms than lived to a ripe old age being chained to a desk all of his life.   Alaska was not a death sentence for him; convention would have been.

I know that Into the Wild is a Hollywood adaptation of this story.  I know that many of the things that happened in the film very likely did not actually happen to Chris.  No one really knows all that he went through and the beautifully pale person who zipped himself up in his sleeping bag and gazed up at a cloudy Alaskan sky with tears rolling down his face to die probably really wasn’t.  What he actually went through would likely be more fodder for reality TV than material for an amazingly beautiful movie that inspired scores of people around the world.

However, it isn’t rocket science to posit that it is more the spirit of Chris and the film that inspires, not actually what happened.   The spirit of adventure, of minimalism, of optimism, of interconnectedness and of believing in your dreams.  The spirit of appreciating and being satisfied with what is on this earth already and not constantly needing more.

There are more layers and insights to this movie than could possibly ever be compiled in one blog posting.  Many people love Chris; some people think he was a fool.  Regardless, there is something about him that can appeal to anyone, if they will be honest and allow it.  Perhaps it will serve to show that living is possible no matter how many days one has on earth.

This movie has a secure spot in my top favorites and I will hopefully think about its spirit for years to come.

“Rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness… give me truth.” – Chris McCandless (more quotes from Chris here…)

I will be reading the book soon and watching the movie again this weekend.

Note:  While I would love to see Alaska, it is not my desire to give up everything and go live in the wild.  I am not physically strong enough even if it were.  I would like some of that spirit though…

Holiday pleasures that don’t cost a thing.

Image from Pinterest

  •  Snow, even the tiniest bit
  • Watching families greet each other at the airport.
  • Seeing the neighbors go for broke with their Christmas lights.
  • The taste of hot chocolate … with peppermint marshmallows!
  • A long overdue catchup session with your BFF.
  • Ugly Christmas sweaters.
  • The smell of evergreens as you walk by trees for sale.
  • Streetlights wrapped in twinkling lights.
  • Seeing everyone you love in the same room.
  • Choosing who gets to lick the spoon.
  • Tying a perfect (or not-so-perfect) bow!
  • Finding the perfect gift.
  • Take-out and a movie on Christmas Eve.
  • Realizing your mittens are warm enough.
  • Making a resolution—and meaning it.
  • Doggie Christmas sweaters.
  • The Pandora Jazz Holiday station
  • Recycled gift wrap from last year.
  • A favorite holiday mug.
  • Making a loved one’s favorite recipe.
  • Watching Christmas movies that you’ve seen a hundred times already.
  • An evening spent with all the lights off, curled up under the Christmas tree.

What would you add to this list??

(Some items on this list found here.)

Ode to Anthropologie.

It is no secret that I.  LOVE.  ANTHROPOLOGIE.

I tell people time and again that mainly I just love going into the store and looking at how they’ve displayed and styled things and what all I can turn into a fun DIY.  Of course, I also like shopping there too but since they tend to be pretty spendy, I try to buy things on sale.  (You know, because I can’t see spending $188 on a pair of lounge pants tend to be cheap.)

I went to Anthropologie at Saddle Creek in Germantown, TN on Thursday evening to finish up a bit of Christmas shopping (some of you will be quite happy!)  I saw several displays that I really loved, including a tree hanging upside down from the ceiling, decorated and all.  I only got two pictures of things I liked though and want to share them here.

First up… PLASTIC SPOONS!

This is nothing more than a styrofoam ball painted a pale gray and then covered in run-of-the-mill clear plastic spoons.  How cute is that?

Next up are little winter scenes made out of old jars and salt shakers.  Again, all there is to this is fake snow, a tiny tree and a jar.  Voila!  And they were selling these for $18 a pop.  Uh… yeah.  Even so, super cute and totally DIY-able.

(Forgive the crappy pictures… They were taken on my not-so-smart phone.)

They also had stacks of old Reader’s Digest books with belts around them and they looked really cute.  I have two lots of old Reader’s Digest books in my store, here and here.

They also had clever things like plain old vases painted bright colors, ordinary clear holiday balls with a bit of fake snow grouped together to hang from the ceiling, and plenty of stuff that I can’t remember.

It is like a playground for all the senses to go in there.  I absolutely love it.

Now, for a couple of items from Anthro that I don’t like to be without. My favorite, most-purchased items from Anthropologie are the Voluspa Candles, specifically the Santiago Huckleberry.  They smell amazing and really fill my house with a great aroma, even when they aren’t burning!  They are three-wick, in beautiful tins and really last a long time.  They make amazing gifts too.  This time, however, I branched out and bought a candle I’ve been tempted by many times when in the store: the Capri Blue Volcano candle in the mercury jar.  So beautiful!  I’ve not burned it yet but it too smells great just sitting around, not burning.  The sign of a good candle.  I also got a holiday candle – the Winter Sips Mulled Cider.  The clerk swore by this candle, saying she had bought up five of them to have on hand and they had already sold out once this season and had to be reordered.  So, I had to get one.  I’ve not burned it yet but plan to today.  I think I’m going to like it a lot.

I also bought something at my last visit to Anthropologie that will be a staple from now on.  I love it so much!  Wow!  It is… drumroll please… the Smith’s Minted Rosebud Salve.  I had been using Burt’s Bees lip balm but it really quit working as well as I would like.  I’ve heard good things about this rosebud salve before so I got some.  Love love love it.  Works perfectly, smells divine and comes in the cutest tin.  I highly recommend it!

I also love their Monogrammed Mugs for gifts… they are perfect!  I have one myself and it is one of my favorite mugs.  They are very reasonable at $6 each too.  Can’t beat that!

So, clearly, I love Anthropologie.  I also think it did a bit toward getting me into the Christmas spirit this year.  A little bit anyway.  And for that I’m thankful.

In other holiday-related news, this is my new favorite Christmas song.  Love love!!

 

(This post had 666 words in it exactly so I had to go back and add this sentence to correct that situation.  Yes, I’m totally superstitious.)

Killer Kale Salad.

I had the best salad tonight.  So so simple but absolutely killer.  And that’s why I call it the “Killer Kale Salad.”  :)

Killer Kale Salad

Kale – torn into large pieces and rinsed
One very ripe avocado – smashed
TBS vegan worcestershire sauce
2 TBS rice wine vinegar
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
Spices of choice – I used turmeric, garlic powder and s/p
Pecans
Chinese crispy noodles

Whisk together the smashed avocado, worcestershire sauce, evoo, vinegar and spices.  Add a bit of water if too thick.  
Toss together with kale, pecans and noodles.

Enjoy!

This was really so good and so easy to throw together.  It hit the spot!

Now, about my recent Thanksgiving post.  It came to my attention that my Quorn might not be vegan and, upon conducting some research, I fear that it was in fact not vegan.  It contains egg products. 

Le sigh…

I am a bit disappointed by this, sure, but I’m still very proud of the overall effort of my vegan Thanksgiving meal.  A good vegan friend of mine, for whom I have a lot of respect, recently told me that there is no such thing as a “perfect vegan”.  (And really, there is no such thing as a perfect human anything!)  I agree with this.  There’s always the chance that there will be something non-vegan to sneak in or that is overlooked or that I simply don’t know is not vegan, like the Quorn.  The point is, and what I’m the most concerned about, is the intention that I put into my food, into what I eat, into being vegan and that I do the best I can.

And I know that my intention is good.  And I’m doing the best I can.  And I’m learning each and everyday.  And I’m proud of that.

And Quorn is off the list.  :)

My first vegan Thanksgiving.

Although I’ve been vegetarian for a good long while, I only went “whole hog” (bad pun) at the start of 2011.  So then, this was my first vegan Thanksgiving.

And it was DELICIOUS!!!

Everything on that plate is vegan.  Do you have any idea how happy that makes me?  Oh yes, VERY happy!  This is what I had:

Quorn roast w/ potatoes, black sweet potatoes, carrots & asparagus
Spiced beets
Mushroom gravy (recipe here)
Green beans
Mashed potatoes (with more gravy!)
Brussel sprout salad with endive, persimmons and pecans
Fresh cranberry sauce
And the best vegan dressing ever thanks to my wonderful Mom! ♥

I also made a pumpkin pie (recipe here) but I burned the crust which really didn’t do favors for the end result.  Oh well… I had coffee instead.  Mmmm.

So, (my first vegan) Thanksgiving was a great success!  A great time was had by all (except my cat who wasn’t happy at all to be away from home … c’est la vie.)

In other food-related news, I’m very glad that Cuties are in stores again.  I love them!

So, now that Thanksgiving is over, I guess it is on to Christmas, right?  Just 26 days away, folks!  Are you ready?