In these last few days with Chuck Miller, he has invited to come to the beginning over and over again: the beginner’s mind, the beginning of the series, and the foundations of each and every pose. He has invited us to discard our very fast and flowing practice and instead move slowly and deliberately not allowing ourselves to lose track of any breath sequence. I am exhausted and I haven’t even gone everyday. Alex and I have been trading off days so that one of us can watch Walter. It is really interesting to notice the exhaustion in my body from a practice that seemingly, on the surface, has been very slow and produces very little sweat (and as we know all Ashtangis measure the difficultly of a practice by how much sweat it produces!).
I finally got a chance to get out into my yard and garden. It was a perfect Northern California day. It was sunny, but cool and I had our nanny, Sandy, for the next 4 hours to watch after Walter while I devoted undivided attention to my plants. Such luxury! I began with mundane tasks. Out came the weed-eater and I took care of all the edging and those darn weeds that grow up between the paver stones on our front walk way and near the sidewalk. Then I yanked out some trees that were cleverly volunteering amongst my jasmine. They were clever because they looked very similar to the jasmine, however, the jasmine is in full bloom and they weren’t producing any fragrant and delicate white flowers. So out they came! Digging them out led me to discover a new place that snails like to hide: the jasmine so out they came and the smashing commenced.
I have found lately that my practice has become ordinary and I am not quite sure if it is good or bad. I suspect, as most things in life, there is a bit of both in it. My alarm goes off each morning* at 5:30 a.m. I roll out of bed, throw on my clothes, jump on Alex’s bike and off I go to practice. I admit that I don’t generally really wake up until somewhere in the standing poses and definitely by the time I hit seated poses. I have pretty much always worked out early in the morning and the only way I continue to do it is to minimize decision making in the morning. I can’t think about it too much or my bed with my snuggly husband still in it will call me back and I will drift back to sleep.
I have been mad grilling lately. It has been so darn hot lately that there just doesn’t seem to be a reason to turn on the stove when I can grill outside and drink tasty things. So on my weekly trip to Whole Foods last Friday (did you know they offer really good specials on something every Friday? The deal is generally good enough that I schedule grocery shopping around that day. Your frugal housewife tip of the day!) when the fishmonger offered to slice me up a fresh slice of tuna, I jumped at the chance. My mouth was practically watering. It was a gorgeous piece of fish.
Growing up in my family, every Saturday morning we made either french toast, waffles or pancakes (they were rotated on a schedule). Now that I am older and my hips can’t take that kind of assault on a weekly basis, Saturday morning breakfast has been relegated to special occasions. Father’s Day was one of those special occasions. I rarely do waffles these days so I decided that we would break out the waffle maker. Waffles must always be served up with a side of bacon and topped off with fresh berries from the farmer’s market. They were quite tasty!
Caffeine keeps me going. I realize that in an ideal world I should not need chai in the morning and iced coffee in the afternoon, but I have a toddler and I do. The afternoon iced coffee is a recent addition for the summer. My friend Donna, suggested it to me and I have run with it. It is a perfect cool and refreshing pick me up and carry me through the process of making dinner to the finish line of Alex coming home from work at 7 p.m. (some days I literally am counting down to that point). It is a simple thing and has made me ridiculously happy lately so I thought I would share.
Walter loves these muesli bars. I keep them in a large airtight jar on the window seal of the kitchen. He knows exactly where they are and several times a day walks over and points at them and says, “ah, ah, ah” which is his version of “moooommmm, I want some muesli bars now or I might keel over and pass out right now from lack of muesli bars.” While the bars aren’t exactly bad for him, they are densely caloric so him eating lots of them is probably not such a good idea. I am trying to instill good eating habits in him, but sometimes it is a bit of a challenge! So he is limited to a bar or two (I cut them up small) at afternoon snack and occasionally dad let’s him have one for breakfast on the car ride to yoga in the mornings. I found the recipe in the May Yoga Journal and made a couple of tweaks to it.
Yesterday, I was on a bit of a cooking spree. It has been very warm here lately (yes, I know Northern Californian warm is not really that warm, but it is worse without a/c!) so the afternoon called for margaritas and guacamole on the patio. Then while Alex and a co-worker discussed all things programming and Walter snoozed, I migrated to the hammock with a magazine. It was a lovely afternoon.
So along came dinnertime. I usually don’t have any extra energy on the weekends to cook. We are trying to see friends or get other things done and by the end of the day, I am just pooped. However, still feeling nice from my afternoon in the hammock, I felt energized enough to embark on dinner (or maybe it was the tequila, it does seem to have an odd energizing effect on me). It was still warm out so I wanted something nice and light, but still tasty to top off the day. This Spring Vegetable Pasta (from America’s Test Kitchen of course!) fit the bill. I really enjoyed how the recipe cooks the pasta almost like it is risotto. It gave the pasta a multi-faceted taste to it instead of just blah white pasta. I started in on it a bit later than I intended, so Walter was asleep by the time I finished and Alex and I got to enjoy a fantastic meal on the patio by ourselves – those are the little things that make me happy!
Ok, I am officially in love with America’s Test Kitchen. They are just fantastic. Everything that I have made from them is not just ok, but excellent and I will be making it again. Their recipes attack dishes that are difficult to make generally. However, their explanation and technical expertise is superb. They walk you through everything in such a manner that the dish turns out wonderfully. Ok, enough said and now on to my delightful creation of the day.
I have been craving scones lately and blueberries just happen to be in season and so tasty they burst with flavor when you bite into them. So naturally I really wanted blueberry scones. I have tried to make scones in the past and they just never turn out quite like I want them to be. I have this taste (along with a picture of course!) of these crumbly sweet, and moist (without turning into cake) scones and I wanted to find them. So I went a searching. I admit that my first stop was the aforementioned America’s Test Kitchen and lo and behold they have a recipe. I begin to read it and it really seems to address all the issues I generally have with scones.
Today the craving was particularly intense, I felt like baking and I had some leftover chai from this morning so an afternoon snack of chai and scone was just what I wanted. It did not disappoint! They were so good that I had two (justified by the fact that Walter also loved them and ate a good portion of the first one). They will be making an appearance at yoga tomorrow so I don’t eat the rest!
I used to be one of those crazy hardcore gardeners. We had a greenhouse, started out all our plants from seeds, generally grew about 15-20 different fruits and veggies and had about 250 square feet under garden space. We did it all and it was so tasty during the summer when everything would come in. Every year we had our first bean harvest day when there was enough green beans to cook. I would blanch them, and then toss them with sea salt and shallots sauteed in butter. It was heaven. Yes, there was the zucchini that was so proficient that it continued to grow bat sized squash after we ripped it up and put it into the compost (we referred to it as zombie squash), but there was also my peach tree where I would just sit and eat peaches to my heart’s content when they came in. I always thought I would cut them up and freeze them for smoothies, but they all seemed to disappear before that could happen. Alex and I worked on that garden for a good 2 ½ years and then something happened. I got pregnant and my energy went straight in the toilet. I had no idea it would happen so quickly, but it did. Then add to that my complete revulsion with all things veggie. I made Alex sit far away from me every time he ate a salad and the garlic and onions hanging in the garage made me want to puke. The saddest thing was that it was August and everything was going strong and we were getting so many veggies in.
Once Walter came, the garden limped along. We had some fantastic visitors right after he was born that helped with our spring planting. We got some veggies and fruit in. Then there came the craziness of buying a house and it just so happened that it happened in August, again when there the harvest was at its peak! The new house is much more nicely landscaped than the old house and I have been working to try and put in things here and there, but I just have a really hard time trying to find the time to get out there and do things. This year we have bought only seedlings and no seeds and still there are veggies sitting on the table outside which have been waiting for over a week to get planted. I know, I know, it is just part of running after a little guy. He loves to be out in the yard with me, but it takes much longer to do things with him too. I feel like as time goes on, I have to admit that more and more of my previous life (before Walter) is not going to come back and I just need to let it go. I wouldn’t change anything and am happy to have my little guy, but a part of me still misses my old garden.