If you've ever met me or read through my blog, it's clear, I'm an animal person. Been one since day one. Growing up, my best friend was a Bernese Mountain Dog. We would take long naps on the floor, and I followed him everywhere he went. Rascal has long passed away, but that love has never diminished. There have been several puppies since, some family and some my own.
As much as I love these canine friends, I also love dressing them up. I'm not talking sweaters and tutu's, I'm talking sturdy leashes and sharp canvas coats. I have a strong opinion of what does and doesn't make a good dog product. It needs to be practical, sturdy, and somewhat natural. For instance, these rope leashes from Pompkin. Just the right amount of color to be fun, but every bit utilitarian. Strong rope and good snaps. If you're in need of a new accessory for your best friend, I highly recommend checking them out. Their leashes will not dissapoint.
As modeled by Kate Kelly's, Ghost & Sam.
As I sit here basking in the glowing warmth of Christmas Day, I'm finally getting a chance to process photos from Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday held up again for an amazing vacation. We took our annual Thanksgiving Day hike with the dogs, we drank good beer, and shoveled our bellies full of home-cooked favorites.
The vacation lasted for a full four days. Amidst the recent chaos, I had no idea quite how busy I was until I took the time to hit pause. I was reminded what boredom felt like. I enjoyed it too. Had it gone on longer, I might have gone crazy. Instead, its brevity gave me just the right amount of time to process. You don't realize how fast you're running, how much you're putting out instead of taking in, until you s-t-o-p. Sure, yoga allows me to pause each day, but it also involves rushing to the yoga studio, getting in my physical practice, sweating, and then biking home to quickly wrap things up before bed. It's not exactly stopping.
So, thank you Thanksgiving for giving me the break I needed. For reminding me that the best creativity is born from moments when you have nothing to do. For surrounding me with fresh air. Let's remember to stop every once in awhile.
Happy belated Thanksgiving.
Note: This post was previously published here as a part of my freelance work.
This recipe was born out of my deep love for chai lattes. While I enjoyed them greatly, I cringed a bit each time I saw one made for me. Out of a box, a pre-made concoction poured; each packed with sugars and preservatives that no one should be consuming. So I decided to try my hand at a natural version. At about the same time, I’d been looking to incorporate more turmeric into my diet. Turmeric has a scrolling list of benefits, but my primary reason was to help with inflammation in the joints. And so, this amazing, amazing drink was born. You can make it warm and drink it right away, or store it in the fridge for an iced version. When I do iced, I like to throw a tablespoon of chia seeds in there while it cools. So many health benefits in one simple drink!
1 Tbs Turmeric Powder
1 Cinnamon Stick
2 Cups Milk (Your Choice - Almond, Soy, Dairy, Hemp, etc)
1 Tbs Coconut Oil
1. Simmer turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, and milk on the stovetop for 15 minutes. Add more milk if it reduces down too far.
2. During the final minute, add in the coconut oil and stir.
3. Remove the cinnamon stick, and transfer mixture to a blender. I use my Nutribullet, but any blender will do. Buzz mixture for a quick minute to build foam.
Fall is a time of year that signals change. According to the ancient studies of Ayurveda the energies around us are shifting from pitta to kapha. Our bodies have stored up so much pitta from the fiery summer, and we need to cleanse it out to prepare our constitutions for a slower, cooler, sweeter winter.
There are so many cleanses out there, but what I’m going to introduce you to today is an Autumn Ayurveda cleanse. This is not a starvation diet. It will not make you skinnier. Instead, we’ll focus on slowing down the digestion to allow the body to rid itself of toxins. We’ll take a minute to be with ourselves, to slow down, to be selfish; so that the rest of the year we can be active and giving.
Twice a year, as we move into spring, and as we move into fall, it is healthy to allow yourself this time. Read on for a description of an Autumn Ayurveda cleanse. This routine can be followed for anywhere from 3-10 days.
While on the cleanse, you are going to eat a diet of kitchari for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Kitchari is made with mung beans, basmati rice, and a special herb blend that includes turmeric, fennel, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, ginger, natural mineral salt and asafoetida.
Each evening, make a batch for the following day. When you go to eat your kitchari, make sure it’s always warm. All throughout this cleanse, you want to consume only warm foods and liquids. You’ll start with a little bit at breakfast to kickstart your digestion, and then you’ll have your biggest meal at lunch. In the evening, consume a smaller portion for dinner. At lunch you may pair the kitchari with steamed vegetables or a soft/hard boiled egg if you wish. Just make sure that you’re not cooking anything in fat ie. olive oil, butter, coconut oil, etc. If you’re hungry, eat more kitchari. You should never feel starved while on this cleanse.
Here is how to make your kitchari.
1 Cup split yellow mung dahl
1/2 Cup basmati rice
1-2 Tsp kitcharee spice mix
1 Tsp grated or minced ginger
Cilantro and lemon to garnish
Salt to taste
Wash the rice and beans to remove extra starches
In a large soup pot, add beans, ginger, and chitchat spice mix with 10 cups of water. Let cook for about 15 minutes.
Add rice and cook for another 15-20 minutes.
In the mornings, you’ll use a tongue scraper first thing. Scrape from the back to the front of your tongue seven times to remove the residue that has built up overnight. Then prepare a warm drink of water or herbal tea. After you’ve had your tea, indulge in 15-20 minutes of gentle yoga. Nothing crazy, you want to take it easy while you’re on your cleanse. Just stretch it out and move with your breath for a short time. This will get the prana moving. Once you’ve had your yoga time, fill your belly with some kitchari, and go about your day.
While your cleansing internally, you can help activate the process from the outside as well. Either in the evening or in the morning, you will practice Abhyanga, a form of self massage. This helps release toxins held in the muscles, so that your internal system can flush them out. To perform abhyanga, first heat some water on the stove top. Then immerse a mason jar of sesame oil in the water, so that the hot water can warm the oil inside. To perform the massage, start at your feet and hands, massaging toward your heart with the warm oil. On joints, massage in a circular motion, and in between the joints use long linear strokes. Massage your scalp, around your nostrils, your ear lobes, get every crevice, but don’t massage over your entire face. After you’ve done your massage, let the oil sit for 20 minutes before hopping in the shower. This is a great time to journal or meditate. Once you’re in the shower, just rinse the oil off, don’t use soap.
Throughout your cleanse be sure to drink warm liquids. Heat your water, drink herbal tea (not caffeine!), or sip down warm organic unsweetened almond milk. You want everything that goes into your body to be warm.
In the evenings, you’ll take a slight laxative and powerful antioxidant called triphala. You’ll want to take this supplement on an empty stomach, so its suggested to do so right before bed. Heat up some water, like you would for tea, and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of triphala powder. Let steep for 15 minutes and then drink down, dregs and all.
On days 4-6 of your cleanse, you will practice therapeutic intake of fat (ghee). This treatment is designed to mobilize fat soluble toxins stored deep in the tissues. Thirty minutes after waking up, you will drink down warm ghee on an empty stomach. Each day, you will increase your dosage by two tablespoons, starting at with two on the first day. After you’ve taken your ghee, do not eat until you feel absolutely hungry.
Throughout your cleanse, take the time to reflect. You allocate this time for yourself, so be sure to pay attention. What thoughts and emotions come up? What differences do you notice in your body? Be slow, thoughtful, and introspective.
Fall’s here everyone, and there’s no better way to welcome it back than by dusting off the fall spices, firing up the oven and making fresh squash pasta noodles! These noodles, which can be made from any edible pumpkin or winter squash, have a delicate flavor and rich texture. We used this week’s gorgeous acorn squash from Emanuel Stoltzfus’s farm.
With this recipe, we choose to make layered Pasta Al Forno—or, if you like, a lasagna. We’re reluctant to call it that however because this one contains no meat, tomato sauce, ricotta or anything else you’d typically associate with this classic family-friendly favorite. Why? Because, Let’s face it, lasagna is rather boring. Tried and true, sure, but boring. We though we’d festoon our lasagna with all flavors and trimmings of fall—namely Macintosh apples (from Leola Produce auction), pistachios, sage and sweet, creamy, heavenly marscapone. We threw in a heavy dose of parmesan because, well…just because.
This dish is labor-intensive, but with day light shrinking and beach-going out of play, we thought you’d be able to find an extra hour or two to devote to making something memorable. For us, making fresh pasta is a great way to slow down and unwind. After you’ve gotten it down, it’s easy and imprecise, repetitive and soothing. Plus making fresh pasta is a great group activity to be shared with friends and family.
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
2 cups all purpose flour
2 egg yolks
1 acorn squash
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp all spice powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup pistachios
1 cup marscapone
2 cups parmesan
4 sprigs fresh sage, chopped
2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
Pre-heat your oven to 400F. Carefully cut the acorn squash in half and, using a large sturdy spoon, scoop out the seeds and inner flesh. Drizzle the squash halves with olive oil and sprinkle with a generous amount of salt. Place on a sheet tray skin-side down and roast for at least 45 minutes or until the squash is tender and brown. Don’t be afraid to roast this baby hard—the browner it is, the deeper the flavor will be.
Remove the squash from the oven an allow it to cool for a few minutes. Scoop the roasted flesh from the skin and transfer it to a blender and puree. Add the cinnamon, clove, all-spice, and more salt if desired. Set aside to cool.
On a clean surface, pile 2 cups of all purpose flour into a mound and dig a little cup in the center like a volcano. Drop the eggs and yolks into the crater and beat with a fork, slowly incorporating the flour around the rim. After the dough begins to form, begin working in 3 Tbl of the squash puree.
After about half of the flour has been incorporated, set aside the fork and use your hands to work the rest of the flour into the ball. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until it becomes “springy” to the touch.
Keep some cold water nearby to adjust the dough. It shouldn’t be too dry and caky, just ever so slightly tacky. Pasta dough is never an exact science. If it’s too sticky, simply work in a little more flour.
Once you’re happy with your dough, cut it into four equal size balls. Using a rolling pin, flatten each ball and fold it over itself. Roll it again. Do this a few times to knead the dough further.
Run the dough through your pasta machine several times on progressively thinner settings(or work it as thin as you can with a rolling pin) until you have a long sheet. Cut the sheet into roughly 10” x 4” inch rectangles and set aside on a well-floured surface to prevent them from sticking. Repeat until all the dough is used.
Finally, brush olive oil around the inside of an 10”x 8” baking pan and layer in two pasta sheets. Spread on some marscapone, shingle some apples, sprinkle some parmesan, drizzle some more olive oil and repeat layer upon layer until you have a lasagna. Spread any remaining squash puree in there too.
Top the lasagna with chopped pistachios, chopped sage and drizzle it with honey. Cover the baking dish in foil and bake at 350F for 20 minutes.
Note: This post was previously published here as a part of my freelance work.
Those whose wallets can actually afford a monthly facial are few and far between. The average Jane, like you and me, guffaw at the thought of blowing $200 for one hour of TLC. But that doesn’t mean we don’t care about our skin. Like every other women on this planet, we enjoy the intimate experience of doting on our bodies. We want that glow, those clean invisible pores, just as much as the fortunate of upper echelon society.
The truth is, you can meet your outlandish desire for professional facials and flawless skin somewhere in the middle. Great results don’t just come with money. Carve a little time out of your weekly routine, and squeeze in this DIY treatment once a week. I’ll show you how it’s done — the natural way, of course.
Step 1: Cleanse
You’re going to cleanse your face in layers. First, take some jojoba oil (your new best friend) on a round cotton pad, and remove any make-up you have on. You can also use q-tips to remove around the eyes.
Next, take a lightweight oil cleanser, like this one from Elizabeth Dehn, and wash your face with lukewarm water. This will help to remove impurities without drying out the skin.
After you’ve done that, especially if you tend to have oily skin, use a mild bar, cream, or foaming cleanser. I’m a huge fan of the Apoterra Skincare line, and this is where I use my Lavender + Green Clay Complexion Soap. I find that it helps draw out all of the dirt and extra oil in my pores. If you’re less acne prone or tend to have drier skin, I suggest her Aloe + Rose Clay Complexion Soap.
Step 2: Exfoliate
After the face is completely clean, it’s time to remove any dead skin cells sitting on the surface. For this, I’m going to have you make a face mask that contains powdered milk, oats, chamomile, and turmeric. I usually make a bunch at once, and store it in a glass jar, so it’s ready any time I need.
To throw it together, follow the measurements below. Put everything into a mortar and pestal, grind it to a fine powder, and then transfer it to a storage vessel. When you’re ready to apply, take a heaping teaspoon and throw it into a small bowl with 1/2 tsp raw honey, 1 dropper of jojoba oil, and a few sprinkles of water. Mix it up, then gently massage across the face and décolleté in circular motions. Spend a few minutes with this process to let the mask work its sloughing magic. Then let the mask sit for 5-10 minutes before gently washing away. Be sure to dry your face with a colored bath towel or paper towel because the turmeric’s color will come off on anything you use.
Mask Ingredients + Benefits
1 Tsp Powdered Milk - The lactic acid in powdered milk helps breakdown and remove dead skin cells. It’s also great for getting into those pores and washing them out.
1 Tsp Oat Bran - Oats are extremely soothing and healing for the skin. They help to remove redness and to restore moisture.
1 Tbs Chamomile Flowers - Chamomile is also extremely soothing. It helps calm down inflammation and will aid in healing any ruptures on the skin.
Step 3: Tone
Now that you’ve cleaned & exfoliated the skin, those pores should be pretty well emptied of any dirt and grime. To follow this up, apply a toner. Toning tightens the pores, removes any residual residue, and restores the pH balance of your skin. I’m a big fan of (wait for it) Apoterra’s Rose Hydrating Toner. It smells amazing and feels like you’re basking in freshness.
No matter the toner that you prefer to use, I highly suggest transferring it to a spray bottle. This way, you can mist your face with the toner, saving on cotton pads and giving yourself a very refreshing experience. It’s also a more tender application and is gentler on the skin. Since I like to use oil moisturizers, I find that it’s also a good way to leave the skin wet, so it readily soaks up the moisturizer that will come next.
Step 4: Moisturize & Massage
To top it all off, it’s time to apply a shot of moisturizer. I love jojoba oil-based products, like Apoterra’s Rose Nourishing Serum, because they are natural and extremely nourishing. It’s said that jojoba actually mimics the sebum in the skin which keeps your face from over-producing oil. Think of it like delivering a shot of nutrients from the outside in.
As you apply your moisturizer, take it as an opportunity to massage the face and increase blood flow. This will help combat the effects of gravity, aka aging. Every school has it’s own brand of face massage, so I highly suggest researching YouTube videos and seeing which resonate with you. Two of my personal favorites that you can start with are: Ayurveda Facial Marma Massage and Lymphatic Drainage Massage.
And there you have it, a little at home treatment. Do this all the way through once a week, and you’ll feel and look amazing.