Tonight I lit my 3 wick lavender candle and began my 291st yoga session. Twice a week I indulge in Yin Yoga which is a gentle, restorative style of yoga that allows the body to ease into poses through the use of gravity and stillness. Holding poses for 3-5 minutes and breathing deeply makes the practice meditative,and soothing. I discovered a good yoga instructor on YouTube called The Yoga Ranger who has excellent Yin Yoga classes that meet my needs. During tonight’s practice, she prefaced a particular pose as being challenging. I was gearing up to meet the challenge with my usual gusto when I saw the pose and realized it was not a challenge for me anymore.

Years ago when I suffered a knee injury that limited my mobility, the pose, half saddle, was an uncomfortable challenge. Instinctively I knew the pose was going to make my recovery better, so I would work the pose regularaly to increase the mobility in my knee and leg. Fast forward to the wonderful journey I’ve been enjoying for 291 days. I dropped into the pose with little effort and a sense of wonder.

When the world seems out of control and the constant bombardment of negativity clouds the senses, I find comfort on my mat. When I would practice 2 or 3 times a week, I felt yoga was a chore turned treat when the session finished. Practicing yoga everyday is a wonderful treat. I get to challenge my body and mind everyday.

Namaste

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I woke up this morning with a fair amount of anxiety because I agreed to take this little guy to a doggie meetup.  My dog is 7 months old and he’s in the full bloom of puppyhood. Every dog he sees he greats with a sloppy and enthusiastic, “Hi, FRIEND!” He loves to play and he has a hard time realizing when the play needs to stop with his human family. So spending quality time with other dogs was a new frontier for us.

My friend, who took this great picture of my pup, brought her two female chihuahuas to the park.  My pup went into instant play mode while her mature dogs were like, “Back off, sonny.  Grown ups are trying to chill.” He handled it all in stride even though he couldn’t stop himself from sniffing the bottom of one particular chihuahua.

He got some clap back for his aggressive attention, but to my relief, it was all good.  He was able to socialize with other dogs and he didn’t exhibit a mean streak.  I would like to believe that in time the puppy grapes will turn into fine wine.  But for now, I weather the challenges and appreciate the goodness in my dog.  He’s a good boy.

My Pinterest baking adventure had hit a road bump after the first week of June due to an uncharacteristic heatwave in the midst of California’s June Gloom.  My youngest announced that I hadn’t made a Pinterest dessert in 4 weeks which I quickly corrected with a 3 week sabbatical.  Nevertheless, I tied on my apron (not literally) and got back into my baking.

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Lazy Cookie Bars was a great way to jumpstart the baking frenzy.  These chocolate chip cookie bars were easy to make.  Using a cake mix and a few ingredients I typically have on hand for all occassions, this delicious treat became a hit.  The pan was polished off in little over 3 days.

lemon

Lemon Mousse was my desperate attempt to use up a bag of lemons sitting on my kitchen counter.  This recipe was a little fiddly for my tastes, but the results were epic.  I like to make quick and easy things.  When a recipe calls for refrigeration, pre-frozen utinsels, and any other time consuming machinations for a food that will be consumed in less than 5 minutes, I typically bypass the recipe in exchange for something less involved.

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Cherry Amaretto Latice Pie was a not-so-subtle request from my husband.  I typically make pies around the fall and winter holidays, but for DH I made an exception.  I cheated a bit on this pie and used a premade cherry pie filling and crust from Trader Joe’s. I added amaretto to the filling and called it a day.  Everyone loved the pie.  Since the liquid ratio was a little off, the pie turned out a little looser than I would’ve desired, but in the end, the slices of pie were consumed with enthusiasm and no one was complaining.

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Devil’s Food Cake was made for my youngest birthday.  The devil is in the details of making this cake.  The recipe literally disappeared on me in the middle of making this cake.  I spent a great deal of time chasing this recipe down, but the server where this recipe was stored was down.  Being in the middle of making this cake, I had to search for a similiar recipe to complete the cake.  The recipe I used to finish this cake did not use sour cream and I didn’t want to guess on how much to use, so I left it out.  The cake turned out fine.  It was one of the better chocolate cakes I’ve ever made.

keylime

Key Lime Pie Bars are to die for.  I love key lime pie.  I bought key lime juice to have on hand for this receipe.  I had a bit of a mishap in warming the egg yolks to room temperature.  I used the microwave to give me an assist and I ended up cooking the yolks.  Yech!  6 eggs later, I managed to get it right and the results made me walk my dog for 3 miles to hopefully burn off the calories.  The only suggestion I’ll make is to add a layer of minimally sweetened whipped cream on top to balance the sweet tart taste.

Dark Chocolate Chewies by Yesterfood

Dark Chocolate Chewies were the best chocolate cookies I have ever made.  I will attribute the chocolate goodness of these delicious cookies to the quality cocoa powder I bought from Whole Foods.  The best results for anything are in the ingredients.  I’ve learned over time if you use the common ingredients found on the average market’s shelves, your results will be common and average.  When it comes to the staple ingredients, always go for the finer version.  These cookies compliments coffee.

To the joy of my family, I’m back on the Pinterest journey.  In anticipation of the hot days of summer, I will try to keep my adventure to cooler treats.  I see an eggless chocolate mousse

I promised my family I would bake one item from my Just Desserts Pinterest board after my 40 days of Lent every week for the remainder of the year.  This promise was made because my youngest son encouraged me to bake what I pin.  Well in 2 weeks I’ve made 3 tasty desserts.

Week 1- 7up Cake

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This oldie but goodie dessert has a long standing place at family reunions, potlucks, and bake sales.  Oddly enough, I have never made it before.  As I combined all the ingredients, I wondered about the missing rising agent.  Well, I figured out the cup of 7up soda WAS the rising agent in this delicious cake.  As I marveled at that fact, I vowed to my husband I will take a professional baking class one day.  The science behind baking is fascinating.  My family polished off the cake in  four days.

My oldest son and I combed through my Pinterest board looking for my next great bake.  As we salivated over the beautiful pictures, I noticed I had an affinity for lemon and coconut desserts.  I’m the only one in the family who loves coconut, so I may be passing on those pins.

Week 2- Kettle Korn

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This choice was a bit of a cheat. I had made this particular recipe before, so making it again was not a big deal.  This time I experimented with using coconut oil instead of canola oil.  I have to admit that coconut oil adds a nice flavor to the popcorn.  The boys loved it.  My husband did not get to try it. So…

Week 2 (part 2) – Lemon Bars

lemon

My love for lemon manifested into a delicious recipe I had never tried.  Lemon bars are one of my go to desserts when I want to make something fruity and I’ve tried many different recipes.  This was the first recipe that I’ve tried that had 6 large eggs in the ingredients.  The family loved them.

As I scan my pins, I’m leaning toward making cookies.  Hopefully if the weather cools down by Saturday, I’ll be whipping up a new cookie recipe.  I’ll keep you abreast of my adventure.

 

Doggone It, Doc!

I took our sweet puppy to the vet to get his booster shots. Mind you, I Yelp the heck out of any place I dare to do business with. Yes, I know Yelp has its issues with fake reviews on either end of the spectrum, but I like to believe not every review is a bought plug or vindictive dagger.  Anyway, my first choice was not picking up, so I went to the second on the list.  The second choice had two Yelp listings. One listing was full of glowing remarks. The second was the complaint line. I rolled the dice. 

Well, the last vet office I visited was pristine and welcoming. Unfortunately, my visit was a one and done because I had to put down my tortoise. This very office was dingy and old.  Dog pee greeted us at the door next to an orange cone asking us to be careful. Giving the place the benefit of the doubt, I proceeded to get Cosmo his boosters. Oddly enough the simple $68 visit escalated to double the cost because they began upselling services. If you love your pet, you want what’s best for your pet, so you go along. At the end of the visit, I was told my pet had a parasite that needed an aggressive treatment that would cost 11 weeks of visits and $1600. WTF?

I tapped out. We needed a second opinion. I may not be a veterinarian, but I can smell bull crap a mile away. So I went to my first choice. Guess what I was told? My dog has the parasite, but every dog has it. The parasite would be a problem if my dog was old. So in order to rid our puppy of the parasite and fight fleas (luckily we don’t have that problem), he gave us a $50 medication. 

Doggone it!

Doggie Woes


Today I woke up to a destroyed vegetable garden. I had taken time to fence in my kale, but my dog managed to bypass the fortress to have his way with my meager crops. Luckily I had just harvested a small bounty he had not yet destroyed and pruned my plants to the perfect height. 

After having a restless night of sleep, a stressful trip to the pediatrician, and a breakfast of a banana and coffee,  I was in a mood for that elusive rush of endorphins people are supposed to get from bonding with their dog. So wearing my nice clothes and cute ballerina flats, I go outside to bond with my dog. He blesses my feet with happy puppy pee and streaks my clothes with freshly dug soil. Oblivious to the carnage a mere few feet away, I pat him on the head and give him scratchies behind his ears. He’s loving it and like the Grinch I feel my heart grow a little larger.  

I grab the shovel to hold my breath and lovingly pick up his poo. As I make my way to shovel up my pet’s putrid poo, I see a familiar stalk under the canopy my dear husband had put up for our pet’s comfort. With happy eyes, Cosmo, snatches up the stalk like a prize and gnaws on it with a happy thump of his tail. I feel sick as I backtrack to my garden…

The carnage…

The rich dark soil…

In a panic I look for my potted mint. My oldest saved his Mother’s Day gift to me from certain destruction.  Thank goodness! Happily, Cosmo trots up to the fortress ands thumps his tail with his ball in his mouth. Maybe one day I will look back on this and laugh. Maybe. 

Every year I abstain from something that I take great pleasure in for 40 days.  One year in college my sister/friend and I gave up chocolate.  That was a hard 40 days.  We convinced ourselves that Tootsie Rolls were not chocolate, so we ate about a pound of the faux chocolate for 40 days to make up for the good stuff we craved.  The horrors!

This year I went old school and I gave up sugar in the form of anything that can be looked at as a dessert. Today I was showcasing my Just Desserts Pinterest board with over 350 pins.  My sons were shocked by all the delicious looking treats I was casually gazing at without a moment of angst.  I’m hoping I am demonstrating willpower. In the meantime, my youngest asked me to make at least one thing off my board every week for the rest of the year so I can actually accomplish something off this particular board. To his delight, I shook hands with him and said I’ll start right after Lent.

Will I do it? Yes. They have heard the stories of me taking cake decorating classes where I made a cake a week.  They have encouraged me to take another class, but I rather do other types of desserts.  Anyway, now my sons are counting down the days until Easter.  


I’ve been off the bloggers’ grid for a while because of a pretty significant change in our household.  For the past month our hunt for our  dog intensified.  I can’t say how it happened, but our family was on the hunt.  My husband never had a dog and seemed to not be a fan of man’s best friend.  My oldest son was partial to our family of zebra finches.  My youngest son was and still is a huge fan of cats.  I was the only one beating the drum on getting a dog.  I felt the menfolk in our family would benefit from having an interactive pet.  While I continued to beat the drum, I got push back from all sides.  Even my father warned me that having a dog would cramp our style and we didn’t need that kind of burden in our busy lives.

Well, I’m pretty easygoing about things, so I resigned myself to not having a dog and I was fine about it.  In my heart of hearts, I knew the truth about adding another heaping of things-to-do onto my plate.  Let’s be honest, I would have to deal with the lionshare of the work and I’m pretty comfortable right now.  I spend my mornings schooling my children, the afternoon is spent doing errands, housework, or chauffering my boys to one place or another, and my evenings cooking meals and trying to relax with some mindless television, knitting, or spinning.  In the cracks of my day, I shoehorn exercise and reading.  If I could get a nap, I feel guilty, but so relieved to have that moment to unplug.  

Suddenly my husband was watching Cesar Milan every Saturday.  I would join him and we would discuss the episodes as if we were discussing a housewife from one of those reality shows.  He would look at the shelters’ websites, research dogs, and investigate rescues.  My friends would send me links to craiglist listings or post pictures on my Facebook wall.  I would share these pictures with my husband and he will silently contemplate each offering.  I felt like I was in the ocean where the waves were gently pulling me further away from shore while my husband was going in another direction entirely.  I could be listening to an engrossing podcast and get rudely interupted by commentary on one dog or another.  Many times I wondered if we had our own Freaky Friday and switched bodies because he was 100% into the dog search and I was 50%.  Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs.  I grew up with dogs.  I fantasized about having a big dog to hug and run with during my morning jog.  I had dreamt of having a german shephard puppy, but dreams and fantasies are far different than reality.  When I got my pushback, I was content to leave the dreams and fantasies alone.

Being a poop or get off the pot sort of woman, I pushed the envelope and encouraged a visit to the local shelter.  Looking at all the dogs gazing back with sad, resentful, or hopeful eyes broke my heart.  I felt the worse for the pitbulls because I knew the odds were not in their favor for adoption.  Then we saw a dog we both loved, but we couldn’t have him.  Then we continued our search finding dogs that we loved but were spoken for or were too broken to be adopted.  One time we had gone to two shelters in a day and the shelters were in two cities nearly 45 minutes apart.  Finally I saw a chocolate labrador puppy that drew my attention.  Something told me to stop the madness and pick him as the family pet.  I was the only one who really took to the puppy, but I was okay with that.  Unfortunately, we lost the bid to have the dog because another family was willing to bid a small fortune to have him.  Feeling I had given it all that I had, I was content in knowing we tried.  As I strolled back to the parking lot thinking about my breakfast, my husband dragged me back into the shelter to point out the dog he and my cat loving son LOVED.

What?

What about my breakfast?

WHAT?

Well, here I sit looking at Cosmo sleeping like an angel.  He’s 4 months old and all PUPPY. I feel like I’m tending to a baby all over again.  He’s a good dog.  He’s a smart dog.  Yes, my plate is too full.  I haven’t watched one show to completion.  My knitting has barely been touched.  I still fill my cracks in the day with exercise and reading, but I’m tired. My husband loves this dog and I’m happy that he’s found this puppy joy.  My bird loving son is completely on board because he has also found the puppy joy.  My youngest is okay with it.  In the end it all worked out.

Today my kitchen blew up over a box of cereal.  After the gym, I did my regular grocery shopping.  Knowing that my oldest was out of his favorite cereal, I picked up a box.  Now my soon to be 13 year old eats like a bottomless pit.  I’m fortunate to have a son who enjoys my cooking and eats with abandon.  He is not afraid of trying new things and his palette is pretty sophisticated for a young teen.  So when it comes to food that he likes, he’s very territorial. 

So I brought in the box of cereal to his unbridled glee.  There was a hug, a kiss, and a jubilant trip to the cabinet to get his bowl.  Patting myself on the back, I start to leave the kitchen to shower off the gym when I hear, “Stop eating my cereal!  You have your own cereal which you don’t eat.  Stop eating mine!”

I made a u-turn to see what caused the commotion.  My youngest son had helped himself to the cereal.  My youngest is a very picky eater.  He has been known to reject something he would normally eat because he spotted seasonings.  He is that picky eater who could hate a food he once loved in a 24 hour period.  So my picky eater had rejected 3 boxes of cereals he once loved and was having a turn at his brother’s favorite. OMG!

After 5 minutes of talking my oldest down from a complete meltdown, I hit him with some facts.  

  1. I buy food for the family.
  2. Just because it is his favorite does not mean it is his.
  3. If he wants his very own box of cereal, he should purchase a box, write his name on it, and claim ownership.

So that was my morning.  How was yours?

About two years ago I suffered a knee injury that sidelined my running for nearly a year.  I had difficulty with basic mobility and walking.  Being a stubborn type of woman, I pushed through the pain and forced myself for go on long walks even though it was very painful to take a step much less 3 miles of steps.  My visit to the doctor garnered me a prescription for painkillers which slowly robbed me of my hearing, an xray which was inconclusive, and a field trip slip to a physical therapist who marveled at the fact I was a runner with skinny calves.  Yes, I had hit the jackpot in healthcare.

Feeling frustrated, I dumped the painkillers and abandoned my physical therapist after a month. While searching for a means for recovery that didn’t require medication and the low grade body shaming I received from my PT, I restarted my yoga regimine.  My pain was in the soft tissue near my knee.  The exercises my PT wanted me to do were fine for building the muscles around my knee, but I knew yin yoga would provide me more of what I needed to get to the source of my pain.

Yin yoga is a practice where you hold poses for five minutes to lengthen ligaments at the joints.  The long holds allows the body to open up.  I noticed my flexibility was increasing and my pain was lessening.  During yin yoga, there is a lot of talk about the invisible web enveloping the body.  A pain or discomfort in one part of the body affects another part of the body.  Also the lengthening in one part affects the rest of the body.  This idea of a web set my mind and body on a healthy journey.  Instead of thinking of my body as parts, I was thinking of it as a connected living organism that needed gentle maintenance.  Soon I was running and lifting weights without pain. 

This morning I had a wonderful yoga class that left me satisfied in mind and body.  I embraced my web like a treasured shawl as I felt the muscles in my arms, legs, and abs.  I may have skinny legs and not look like your typical runner, but I know I’m a runner.  I know I may not rock a six pack or have muscular arms like Michelle Obama, but I know I’m strong.  I may not look like the most graceful and flexible gymnast, but I am flexible.  I just need to keep honoring my personal web.