Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Learning to Cook

One of my life goals is to become a great vegetarian cook.  I don't have much free time but I do try out a new recipe every now and then.  An added bonus is that when you cook at home, you know exactly what goes into the food and can make your recipes a lot more healthy or diet-specific.   I own roughly a zillion cookbooks but, regardless of that, I recently acquired one more:  Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food.  

This one, along with Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, which are both one part recipes and one part technique, have only increased my desire to hone my skills.  I'm realizing that more than specific recipes, I want to learn specific techniques that I can then modify depending on what ingredients I have on hand.

Things I want to learn how to make:

-A good basic vegetable soup and a good basic black bean soup

Yum!  What would you like to be able to cook?

{Photo credit: foooooey}

Blog Award!

A big giant thank you to Allison from Life Unqualified who passed on this blog award to me!  It means that she thinks I show honestly and sincerity in blogging, which means a lot to me.  Check out her blog too!

Now I have to list 10 honest things about myself and pass on the award!

1.  While my favorite movies are dramas (Amores Perros, American History X, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Water), the movies I could watch on repeat all day long (and do, thanks to TBS, ha!) are Wedding Crashers, Bridget Jones' Diary, Knocked Up and Old School.  I can never get enough!

2.  I shut myself off from most of the world in order to work, go to school, do reading/papers and work out but I do wish very often that I had more friends and a wider social net.  I am hoping once school is done in May to get back to that.

3. That being said,  I need alone time like I need air and it is often hard for me to honor that without feeling guilty.

4.  I'm pretty superstitious even though I know it is silly.

5.  My least favorite thing to do ever is to unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher.  Maybe not least favorite thing ever, but pretty close.

6. I have a lot of trouble thinking of ideas for blog posts.

7.  I'm allergic to roses, jasmine and lavender, which makes perfume shopping and flower owning very difficult.

8.  I'd like to learn how to paint.

9.  Being in a long distance relationship is one of the hardest but most worthwhile thing I've ever done.

10.  I still sleep with my baby blanket.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Words to Grow By.

"We can always choose to perceive things differently.  You can focus on what's wrong in your life, or you can focus on what's right."
~Marianne Williamson

{Photo credit: abductit}

Revelry Review: DC Bread and Brew

On Friday I ate lunch at a place that opened up not all that long ago near my work called DC Bread and Brew. As most of you know, I am a mostly vegetarian/meat avoidant/pescatarian/flexitarian/plant-based diet person, as well as trying my hardest to stay healthy and lose weight, and as such I often have a challenging time eating in restaurants.

I was first drawn in by the cozy atmosphere (but that could've been the icky D.C. weather!). The menu changes daily, but there are always pizzas, sandwiches, salads, soups and quiche, as well as a few types of bigger main entrees. The choices that day ranged from a curried okra and coconut rice dish to a spinach and tomato pizza. There were many vegetarian and vegan options. There was also an assortment of baked goods, which I veered away from, but some readers might like to know that they included vegan options as well. The staff seemed friendly and the food was fresh. You can read more reviews here.

I ordered a half of a sandwich (hummus and roasted veggie on whole wheat) and a cup of soup (an amazing vegan creamy squash soup that had basil and coconut milk with a tiny bit of spice). The best part? This yummy meal won't break the bank ($8.25, which is a steal in this area) nor widen the waistline.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Joy Diet: Week 1

The first week of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck has come and gone for The Next Chapter Book Club.  This week's menu item to add joy to your life was "nothing".  

Beck writes, "Whether you're doing the program as an overall life enhancement, or using it to face some kind of trauma, I'm almost certain you need nothing--a good strong dose of nothing, and soon.  Okay, enough word play.  What I mean is that the best way to break through any barrier is to access a point of perfect stillness at the center of your being, a self deeper than your senses or your mind."

As someone who constantly lives, works, studies and plays at full speed, I needed to be reminded that we often need to replenish the well.  Through yoga, I have seen the benefits of a meditation practice and what breath work can do for your health and spirit.  I was happy to see that the very first menu item in the book was going to force me onto my meditation cushion.  In fact, for the first few days, I got onto the cushion first thing in the morning.  And it was helpful for clearing mental space and setting an intention, but it wasn't enough.  Once I got a taste of nothing, I wanted more.

It was with that idea in mind that I started setting my alarm clock for an hour and a half earlier than I am used to.  The first day it was nearly impossible to force myself out of bed but I did it.  I went to the gym, I wrote out my morning pages and then....I did nothing.  I sat out on the balcony in the early morning quiet as daylight arrived.  The next day I got into a yin yoga pose on my living room floor and just breathed, treasuring the few minutes of silence before the day began.  15 minutes of nothing became too few and I found myself getting up even earlier just to savor the quiet time.

The combination of exercise, journaling and nothingness led to this week begin one of my most productive in recent weeks.  I can't wait to see what the rest of the book has to offer!

{Photo credit: Darwin Bell}

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Words to Grow By.

"No matter how qualified or deserving we are, we will never reach a better life until we can imagine it for ourselves and allow ourselves to have it."~Richard Bach

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Season of The Biggest Loser.

"Unless you faint, puke or die, keep walking."~Jillian Michaels

"The Biggest Loser" is a BIG way!

This season's contestants are the largest yet. And while I am not a fan of the extended infomercial that is each episode (seriously, cut out the product advertising and it could be a 30 minute show!) and I am not a fan of the wrong idea it gives to the many people watching that need to lose weight (19 pounds is not doable in a week if you also have a life AND probably not exactly healthy), I still watch. There are some things I do like about this show:

1. If it encourages even one person to get off their couch and into the gym or convinces them to count calories or do something to improve their life, then I think it's a good thing.

2. The theme of the season is second chances and I love it. I love that Abby, a woman who tragically lost her husband and two children in a car accident, will most likely end up in an entirely new place mentally and physically by the end of the show. I love that Daniel is back to prove to the world that sometimes you do slip up and you do need a second chance to get to a goal weight.

3. This season seems to be a lot more about teamwork and less about the competition itself (though I'm sure that will come through later when some of them starting thinking about the cash!). I love that both trainers are working with everyone and that the teams are not made up of relatives or friends. So far the players seem to be mostly encouraging each other and not being snarky. (I said for the most part--obviously Julio needs to continue to prove himself or he is going to be voted off the island sooner rather than later.)

4. I love see the personalities and the drive of the contestants, as well as watching them grapple with whatever got them to being so overweight. This is probably the main reason that I love Shay. Like I said on Twitter last night, I am squarely on Team Shay (with a side of Daniel).

5. I love the motivation it gives me. I woke up this morning and wanted to stay in bed. Really, really wanted to stay in bed. But you know what? If Shay can weigh around 475 lbs and spend her entire day working out, then I can get my butt out of bed and go run for 45 minutes. And that's exactly what I did.

6. And lastly, while I think Jillian Michaels is the scariest thing to ever happen to television, I appreciate that she can make even the strongest person tremble with fear and cry like a baby. As well as force them to go well beyond what they thought they were physically capable of.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekly intention: Focus

My intention for this week is to commit to keeping my focus.

At any given moment, there are multiple things vying for my time and attention.  There are my responsibilities at work, my commitments for school, my friends and family, assorted errands, etc.  I occasionally let it get to the point where I feel like I am drowning.

I find that while I know I can accomplish more by focusing on one thing at a time, I tend to try to either do more than one thing at once or I do one thing while worrying/thinking about/contemplating at least five others.  Not very productive.

Since there are so many things I need to do this week, I am making a commitment to focus on one at a time until I work my way through them all.  Every time I feel overwhelmed, I will consciously come back to this commitment and remind myself that focusing is the only way to wade through it.

What is your intention for this week and how can you work to make it come alive?

{Photo credit: ihtatho}

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Next Chapter Book Club: The Joy Diet

The Next Chapter Book Club starts up today with its latest pick, The Joy Diet: 10 Daily Practices for a Happier Life by Martha Beck. We will spend the next several weeks reading the book together and then blogging about it.

The book itself has ten "menu items" of behaviors that make up the joy diet: nothing, truth, desire, creativity, risk, treats, play, laughter, connection and feasting. This first week we will read and think about the "nothing" portion of the book. I am very much looking forward to find ways to incorporate more "nothing time" into my overpacked schedule. Finding moments to breathe and appreciate life are more and more rare these days. I am also looking forward to sharing my experience with a group of like-minded women. My experience with these type of books is that having people to share you thoughts and reactions with can make all the difference in the world. I also have an unnatural obsession with positive psychology, particularly around happiness and gratitude, so this fits in perfectly with that.

I am so looking forward to having a book to jumpstart my thinking and my journal writing. While doing a google search, I came across these companion worksheets that I might use as well.

Here's to a great few weeks!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Okay, okay...I admit that I have been totally horrible about blogging since September started. I blame one thing: graduate school. Well, graduate school plus work plus a visit from my sister plus a visit from my boyfriend get the idea. As a way to get back into blogging, I present you with a list of "Things Making Me Happy Right Now":

-Cooler weather. Autumn is by far my favorite season!

-Ordering a few new rockin' TranquiliT pieces from the fall collection that just came out this week. There are definitely a few other pieces I still have my eye on as well.

-The Jewish high holidays. A time of much-needed reflection and rest.

-Winning two tickets to hear AJ Jacobs speak, as well as a copy of his new book.

-Yogi Tea in Peppermint. I've been downing multiple cups a day.

-The Next Chapter book club that I just joined.

-Kimberly Wilson's next Tranquilogy teleclass, Fall Festivity.

-The return of good tv, especially The Office, Grey's Anatomy (sadly, it has been arguably not-so-good anymore) and The Biggest Loser.

-A visit to Maine and Cape Cod in October for a wedding.

-Thanksgiving in Maine!

-Being done with the semester on December 9th!

{Photo credit: mysza831}

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy September!

September is here! Finally!

My favorite month has arrived and these past two days in Washington, DC have actually felt like autumn. I can't wait for the leaves of the few trees we have here to change colors. I want to paint pumpkins and drink apple cider. One day I will live somewhere that has a more pronounced fall than the one we have here and I will love every second of it!

My graduate school classes start back up again tonight. They are a reminder of the structure that I crave in my life and that naturally starts to set in with the new school year. That said, here are my humble goals for this month:

-Stay on top of my reading for class. Program "study time" into my Planner Pad.
-Work out or do yoga at least 5 days a week.
-Eat healthy and hopefully lose between 5 and 10 lbs
-After a procedure I am having done on my legs on September 18th where I can't work out for a week, still get on the treadmill and do some doctor-approved walking.
-Do a lot of journaling, especially as it gets closer to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, particularly around the topics of renewal and forgiveness.
-Study up on advanced Spanish grammar so I can pass my oral exit exam for school.

{Photo credit: algo}