Clearly, I’ve been MIA. Life has been progressing beautifully though. Follow me here…..
Life’s Better Baked <— New and Improved, Better Than Ever Blog!
Clearly, I’ve been MIA. Life has been progressing beautifully though. Follow me here…..
Life’s Better Baked <— New and Improved, Better Than Ever Blog!
As you might have noticed, I’ve been a tad absent from the blogosphere lately. April was an intense month, to say the least…
My best friend from HS passed away.
I got completely wasted for the first time in months.
I got a back piece.
Work got insanely HECTIC.
I filed my taxes for the first time as Independent.
I slacked on my healthy diet.
I dyed my hair.
I made shitty truffles.
My taxes got fucked up. (My parents’ tax lady accidentally claimed me on their return..)
My face broke out.
I was BROKE.
I isolated myself.
I cried a lot.
I almost quit my job. A few times.
I started having an influx of negative emotions.
I was at my breaking point.
I turned to yoga and meditation to save me. And they did.
I decided to put all of the things that I’ve gathered over the years and put them to use again (I’d previously pulled myself out of a depressive/anxious episode the previous year). Only this time, even more than before. This time I will stick to my rituals. This time I will CHANGE for the good. For the better. I am a child of the universe. I can only live for this moment. Dwelling on the past or dreaming of the future are only things that will hinder my progess in the NOW moment. And NOW is what will bring me THERE… later.
Here’s a few of the things I want to incorporate this month to help me HOLISTICALLY feel, emotionally and physically, my best:
1. Meditate for at least 10 minutes per day. (I currently do this most days.)
2. Yoga whenever possible. (I already do yoga daily, the more the better.)
3. One or more Green Smoothies per day. (Like I said I slacked off last month. I FELT the difference my diet has had on my energy and emotional state.. not to mention my face. )
4. Incorporate more raw foods. (Get back to my salad a day.)
5. Use the Neti Pot 2-3 per week. (Recently purchased and used it once. It was kind of weird, but I did feel clearer and cleaner afterwards!)
6. Dry brush before I shower. (I have done this a few times..)
7. Utilize positive affirmations. (Retrain my thoughts to be positive, not negative.)
8. Work on energy healing. (Currently dabbling with the Emotional Freedom Technique.)
9. Finish “The Tao of Detox” and start reading “The Kind Diet.”
10. Plan a detox for the end of the month.
Oh yeah, and start blogging again on a regular basis!!!
So-even though it was a shit month and I felt like my entire life fell apart amongst the storm clouds-there were a few amazing moments amidst the crap that made me see the clarity of life. I am here for a purpose.. That’s why the universe hasn’t weeded me out yet. I am a strong, independent woman. (Yes, I feel like I can finally start using this term.. Up until now I described myself as a “lady” because I still felt like a little girl inside.) While I still feel young and naive at times.. I think I am finally starting to blossom into the woman that WILL succeed in this world. Just like the lotus flower, I CAN make it out of the darkness and muck.. to shine-bright and beautiful.
Namaste’ for now..
It’s another cold and dreary Texas day. Once again I find myself struggling to keep my spirits up.. A common occurrence it seems when the weather is like this. It’s no wonder they call it the “Rainy Day Blues.” Yet, there has to be something besides the lack of sunshine and warmth that’s contributing to my not-so-sunny disposition.. right?
You may already be familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, a condition in which the sufferer has moderate-severe depression throughout the winter months. Once the weather begins to heat back up the depression ceases, and the person is happy once again. The medical industry lumps this anomaly into the same category as other types of depressive illnesses, prescribing medication and talk therapy to it’s victims. However, these sudden seasonal blues are not so uncommon within our worldly realm.
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of natural medicine that has been practiced for well over 5,000 years. Translated, the Sanskrit word “Ayurveda” stands for, “The Science of Life.” Every person has a dosha (which is determined by physical and mental characteristics - find out yours here) that you must keep in constant balance otherwise face consequences such as physical and/or mental illnesses. One such illness is quite similar to our medically known “SAD.”
In Ayurveda, it’s normal for people to get seasonally upset if they are not careful to take the necessary precautions to prevent it. A Vata imbalance occurs during the winter months – so those who are already Vata in dosha need to be especially careful. I am Vata to a tee, and this winter I have been obsessively preoccupied with the concept of a raw vegan diet. Instead of indulging in the butter and cream-laden “heavy” meals I should have been having, I was focused on eating raw salads, snacks, and smoothies. Not to say these meals don’t have their place, because they most definitely do. (And I have no intention of cutting my smoothie and salad habit short.) You just need to alter those meals to accommodate for the changing seasons and prevent any ailments that may try to manifest.
Some common issues experienced by people with Vata imbalance include emotional depression (hello.. SAD!), extreme irritability, overwhelming anxiety, inability to relax, trouble sleeping, nail biting, lack of concentration, heart palpitations, and a spaced out feeling, just to name a few. I noticed a lot of these symptoms getting gradually worse for me as the winter progressed. And just as the diagnosis for SAD states, my symptoms get better as the climate warms. My happiness seems to increase at a steady rate to the rising temperatures.
Since Vata types have a hard time sticking to routines (sleep/wake times, eating schedules, ect.), it’s easy for them to become unbalanced. That’s why it is SO essential for them to find and establish a routine that is right for them. Typically, Vata wants to shoot for waking up around 6am-8am and going to bed between 10pm-12am. (I have been staying up later than midnight, thus I am groggy and grumpy in the morning – sometimes during the day.) You will also want to incorporate some type of exercise and yoga practice specific to your dosha.
Vata types need exercise that is grounding and nurturing. Swimming, bicycling, and walking are all great forms of exercise that can help to calm the mind. A daily Hatha yoga practice (at the same time every day, preferably) is very helpful in centering and balancing the Vata mind, as well as establishing a routine. You should also aim to meditate at least one time per day (here is a great Chakra meditation to try!). One resource even offers sex up as a “more suitable alternative” to exercise during the winter months!!!
In addition to your routine, you want to choose warm, nourishing foods to help balance you. Vata people should look towards sweet, sour, and salty tastes to satiate their palates. Also, during the winter months, spicy foods can help to counteract the cold atmosphere. Foods should be warm, heavy, and oily (no low-fat diets allowed!!!). Butter, milk, and cream are your friends! (If you are vegan, substitutes such as Earth Balance butter and almond milk are acceptable. ) Avoid caffeine and drink alcohol sparingly. Also, warm drinks of all kind are preferred.
You want to focus on cooked foods – not raw, fresh produce (that was my mistake this winter in my quest to “go raw”). Indian and Mexican cuisine are ideal due to their spice and oil content (Hell ya, those are my favorites! ). Soups, stews, and casseroles are great for Vata types. If you do choose to eat raw, be sure to include plenty of oil and other healthy fats to keep yourself balanced. (An example would be a salad dressed in an oily vinaigrette – with goat cheese and avocado for good measure.)
Also – when it’s cold out – it’s best for Vata types to stick indoors and stay bundled up at all times! I’ve known Vata types that layer 4 shirts at once to keep their centers warm (and undoubtedly - mind balanced)! You might also want to consider getting a grounding mat (this is on my wish list!) for the times you are cooped up inside and unable to have physical contact with the earth below you.
The sun is starting to peek through my blinds now – you have no idea how happy this makes me! I guess it’s time to get on with my day.. I work until 7pm and then I’m going to pick up some Vata-balancing groceries to make myself some gratifying, grounding grub!
Do you ever feel unbalanced or ungrounded in the winter months?
Hope you have a Happy Hump Day!
Or HOLE-y, rather…
See what I mean?! It was sad having to cut him loose, but the boyfriend said he was taking beneficial energy away from the plant and other fruits. So now he’s just chillin on my kitchen counter….
At least there are lots more growing away out there! I bought this little tomato plant from Wal-Mart a few weeks ago and it’s really taken off! (Don’t worry, I got organic stuff to replace the Wal-Mart chemicals that I’m sure are very abundant in that potting soil!)
In other news..
I made myself a delicious *NEW* salad yesterday! I went on a wonderful excursion to Central Market Tuesday night with my lady Sage and picked up all kinds of organic goodies! Here are the makings to my salad:
Baby Spinach and Arugula Blend
Red Onion, sliced
Red Kale, chopped (I love how vegetables named “Red” are always so clearly “Purple” lol)
Basil and Onion Crumbled Goat Cheese (delicious!!!)
Raw Sunflower Seeds
Disregard the avocado.. I didn’t actually have time to include this in my salad.. Of course feel free to throw that in! (I’m a little obsessed w/ these creamy things too!!)
I’ve never tried kale before.. honestly it was sort of intimidating me. But just one look at this beauty and I could not bypass it. Such pretty colors! (Turns out it tastes okay too! Was also a wonderful addition to my smoothie today. Recipe for that later.. ;))
For the dressing I got inspiration from Averie’s Creamy Lemon and Herb Dressing. I threw together the following – Veganaise, lemon juice, fresh dill, dried oregano, fresh ground pepper, and some olive oil – and it turned out quite well! (Although next time I’ll add a little more Veganaise as mine came out too runny.. I didn’t measure anything though!)
All in all, it turned out to be a very scrumptious lunch. I enjoyed it while sitting next to my computer at work.. Here’s the finished product all packed up and ready to go!
Well.. looks like I’m running short on time for this post.. ‘Bout to leave work and get all packed up for my trip to see my family this weekend! Super excited to see my nephews (aged 4 and 7) play in their very first Little League game tomorrow! GO BEES!!
Here are some inspirational (and funny) quotes about yoga to get you ready for your weekend practice!
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured. ” ~B.K.S. Iyengar
“Yoga is the fountain of youth. You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.” ~Bob Harper
“The yoga mat is a good place to turn when talk therapy and antidepressants aren’t enough.” ~Amy Weintraub
“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.” ~Sharon Gannon
“Yoga is possible for anybody who really wants it. Yoga is universal…. But don’t approach yoga with a business mind looking for worldly gain.” ~Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois
“Yoga is bodily gospel.” ~Reaven Fields
“I was in yoga the other day. I was in full lotus position. My chakras were all aligned. My mind is cleared of all clatter and I’m looking out of my third eye and everything that I’m supposed to be doing. It’s amazing what comes up, when you sit in that silence. ‘Mama keeps whites bright like the sunlight, Mama’s got the magic of Clorox 2.’” ~Ellen DeGeneres
“Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy. Constant practice alone is the secret of success.” ~Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika
“Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.” ~Patanjali, translated from Sanskrit
“Warrior pose battles inner weakness and wins focus. You see that there is no war within you. You’re on your own side, and you are your own strength.” ~Terri Guillemets
“I tried yoga once but took off for the mall halfway through class, as I had a sudden craving for a soft pretzel and world peace.” ~Terri Guillemets
Man, it’s been a busy week! Sorry for my lack of posts.. SXSW in Austin, my boy did the lighting on the main stage, and Bright Eyes did a spectacular show Saturday night (which I got to see front and center from the lightbooth. You can download it @npr.org)! I also got to spend the weekend showing JC’s (that’s my boy) sister Haley a good time for her first trip to the heart of Texas!
I’m currently working on a massive post for later this week.. (might be multiple posts, I haven’t decided yet) so in the meantime I’m going to leave you with a few recipes to catch you up on some of the yumminess that was going on last week in the midst of the fun!
To start with, I had my first experience cooking lentils! I used Averie’s Chipotle Salsa Lentils recipe, yet tweaked it quite a bit. I had some extra produce I needed to get rid of before it went bad.. Thus creating:
Clean Out Your Crisper Spicy Lentils
Does anyone else call the vegetable tray in the refrigerator a crisper?
2 c (1 bag) green lentils
4 c water
1 c chopped (baby) carrots
1 c broccoli (I used frozen)
1 c red onion, chopped
1 whole jalapeno, diced (hey, I’m from Texas!)
1/4 cup tomato, chopped
1 cup salsa
squirt of ketchup
the following seasonings to taste – oregano, garlic salt, ground black pepper, paprika, cumin, chili powder, & cayenne pepper
Simply allow lentils to come to a boil in the water, simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, cook another 15 minutes until lentils are tender.
Alongside the lentils I paired a not-so-vegan salad..
Goat’s milk cheese is amazingly delicious! It is also lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol than other cheeses – while not losing the rich, creamy texture. (I use goat cheese in place of cream cheese on my bagels.) It also provides more calcium and fewer carbs! Most lactose-intolerant people are also able to eat goat’s milk cheese without causing any digestive disturbances.
I had an intense chocolate craving, so I whipped up this to remedy it:
1 frozen banana
about 1/4 c almond milk
spoonful of cocoa
handful of dried coconut flakes
agave to taste
Start with almond milk and frozen banana chunks in the blender. Gradually incorporate everything else and blend until smooth. Top with coconut flakes and enjoy!!!
Another day I made my homemade black beans. After soaking a bag of black beans overnight, I cooked the beans with water (about 2 inches above bean level) in a crock pot (on low) for around 12 hours. Halfway through cooking, I added 1 1/2 jalapenos, 1 white onion, 1/2 red onion, 1/2 tomato, 1 large jar of salsa, and the following seasonings – chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic salt, ground black pepper, and paprika to taste.
With the beans I put together these delicious..
Black Bean Lettuce Wraps
romaine lettuce leaves
homemade black beans
opt. cayenne pepper hot sauce
I’ve been drinking Green Smoothies almost every day. I definitely notice an increase in my energy on the days when I include these in my regimen. While eventually I would like to include other supplements, so far I’ve been keeping my recipes relatively simple.
Here’s one yummy example:
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 fresh mango
2 c fresh strawberries
2 handfuls of collard greens (chopped)
agave to taste
Blend all until smooth.
The last recipe I’d like to share is for my easy Naan bread pizza. Naan bread is a traditional Indian bread. I buy a whole-wheat variety that I like to top w/ all the goodies to make a supremely satisfying pizza!
Whole-wheat Naan Bread (pre-packaged or homemade)
sliced red onion
freshly grated parmesan
dried oregano (substituted for basil)
Toast the Naan bread in the oven at 400 degrees until lightly brown. Top with pizza sauce, veggies, and cheese. Return to oven until cheese is melted. Let cool (this is the hardest part!) and dig in!!!
I hope you had a great weekend and start to this week! Until next time…
I am writing this in the hopes that getting the idea out of my head and into the universe will help me (with time, patience, and hard work that I am prepared for!) to whittle down my student loan debt by the time I am thirty.
I began college in the fall of 2006, as naive as they come. I was also never taught how to manage money before. I didn’t received an allowance growing up, so I never learned to budget nor save for anything. I attended university for 3 1/2 years, racking up massive student loans to pay for both my tuition and multiple apartments. My friend Jackie graduated a few months before I had made my decision to leave school. I think the fact that the only job she could land coming straight out of college was managing a Mattress Firm (she’s moved on to greener pastures these days ) is what really did it for me. Why was I about to waste anymore time, money, and energy on something that may not pan out for me in the long run?
After quitting school, I remained in San Marcos for about 6 months – screwing off mostly, but working full time as well. I did not, however, save up any money during that time. Quite the opposite actually – and that is part of the reason why I ended up back at home. I have never been good at saving money. It’s just not one of those things in my repertoire of shit I am good at, in fact, it’s relatively high on the list of things I am not. I love money, and just as much as I love getting it, I loooove spending it! The only issue is that while I was in school, I often used the excess money from my loans to live beyond my means. Instead of being wise and investing that into paying off my loans in the future, (again I said I was naive – which means young and dumb, of course) I spent the extra money on an iPod, clothes, and other such material items that I related (at the time) with my happiness.
Now here I am, 2 years since I quit school, with my loans rearing their ugly heads at me – so to speak. Just today I got off the phone with Sallie Mae (a word to the wise – NEVER take out a loan with this company. Their customer service is just plain awful and they harrass you 20 times per day..minimum.) and I was sent to their collections agency for not making my previous payments. I was told I needed to pay $969 within the next 3 weeks (or they begin litigation, eek!) and then I can begin making payments of around $150 per month. So, just like that, my savings are nearly depleted. So obviously NOTHING gets achieved from trying to ignore these guys (lesson learned).. The next step is to start actually making an attempt to get my debt in line.
I accumulated roughly 30K (maybe a little more with interest) throughout my stint in university. I am 23 right now. That gives me around 6 1/2 years to pay off my debt (that’s less than $400 per month!). I have complete faith in myself.. I just need to learn to stick with a budget and put every spare cent I can into decreasing the seemingly massive amount. Thanks to Holly (the couch potato athlete) for her posts on debt relief! (They couldn’t have come at a better time! ) I signed up on Mint.com so I can start a budget and savings plan. I intend to learn at least one profitable side trade (sewing, glass blowing, and crystal wrapping are at the top of my list!) to also put towards my debt.
For the first time ever, I am excited to see the hundreds of dollars go.. Because that means the sooner I will be finished with this madness! I can already feel the sweet relief of being debt free. And that’s the exact emotion I will continue to allow myself to portray. No longer will I feel like a slave to these companies! In no time at all (because let’s face it, the next 6 1/2 years are going to fly by as fast as the last did..) I will be on top of my finances. That’s a feeling worth more money in the world.
Do you have any short or long term goals?
*My short term goals include reading more (1 or more books per month), washing the dishes after I use them (I’ve gotten into the worst habit of letting the dishes stack up!), and being more aware/in control of my emotions.
*My long term goals include paying my debt, purchasing a nice (energy efficient) car, learning to belly dance, and working on forgiveness.
As for food, I’d like to introduce…
Sam’s Simple Salad and In-a-Cinch Vinaigrette
I usually have this for lunch while at work. I’ll pack it to go and bring the vinaigrette on the side. It’s very yummy and if I skip a day or two I’ll find myself with intense cravings!!
Bed of Organic Spring Mix
Thinly sliced red onions
Sliced cucumber (I cut them in half as well)
Sprouts (these are Alfalfa)
Raw sunflower seeds
*If I’m not going raw, I will add shredded parmesan, goat cheese, or feta.
Juice of one lemon
Splash of Red Wine Vinegar (equal parts to the lemon)
Season w/ Garlic Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Add Olive Oil to taste – Simply wisk together with whatever utensil you see fit
Couldn’t get any more simple. That’s what I looove about it! I can hear my tummy rumbling, sounds like dinner time for me!
Hope you have a good night!
Happy Friday everyone! I wanted to take a moment to discuss a very powerful mental tool that can help you get out of any type of rut – be it mental, emotional, EVEN physical! Affirmations, put simply, are things that you say or think and believe to be true. And if you believe in them with all of your little heart, they have the power to create or change any circumstance. You may think this is crazy talk.. How could a thought, something abstract, manifest itself into something as concrete as your physical being? While I don’t want to completely go into the Law of Attraction and all that jazz (in this post at least), I do want to show you through my experiences how life-changing and useful these little guys can be.
For as long as I can remember, I have always had this little nag in my head. I had no clue why, but something was always keeping me from being entirely happy. Nothing was really wrong with my life, however, I still dealt with endless anxiety, perfectionism, and dysthemia (again I’ll go into all of this in a later post). The mental struggle was never ending.. And the only person I was fighting was myself. Then I discovered the power of positive affirmations.
After living in San Marcos and going to university at Texas State for 3 1/2 years, I had to leave and move home with my parents. The reasons why I left will remain undisclosed, I will just say I was not in a good place. Or as Radiohead so cleverly says it, “For a minute there, I lost myself.” Not only was I withdrawing from my previous lifestyle (partying, excessive alcohol, smoking (herb and ciggs), staying out late), I was also going through withdrawal from the pharmaceutical drugs they had me on prior to moving home – Klonopin and Ritalin (both very powerful and verrry addicting). Add on top of that living in a small house with my mom and dad, my sister and her kids coming over on a daily basis (don’t get me wrong, I love my family but I had zero alone time – which is vital for me). Basically everything I had grown used to in my life had been completely turned upside down. I had no friends, no privacy, and no car. I was also jobless, money-less, without a prospect in sight – my parents live in the middle of nowhere and nothing is walking distance (especially in the Texas heat!). To put it nicely, I was in hell.
I let my situation get the best of me for quite some time. I would sit for hours on end dwelling on the past and things I could not change. Finally though, I got fed up with sitting on the couch gorging on TV and cheap, processed foods. I decided to change. My friend Jenny had once mentioned the book The Secret, right before I had witnessed her life transform into this amazing existence (one I sometimes shamefully envied). I decided I had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. I bought the book and studied it thoroughly. The concept excited me. This was something I had never done before – actually fight that little voice in my head that was constantly sending me negative messages, and replace them with positive ones instead!
During this time I also began doing yoga 3 times per day (morning, noon, and night quite literally), journaling my feelings, and experimenting with meditation. In my journal I had three sections – worries, self-image, and affirmations. I would begin by writing down my daily woes, followed by updates on my physical appearance (I was trying to lose the couch potato weight I gained). Lastly, I would write some affirmations (this was, no pun intended, the secret to how I got my life back). After they were written on paper, I would sit for 3-5 minutes and meditate. I would repeat the affirmations to myself, things like “I am beautiful, I am strong, I am..(insert attribute here).”
After a month or so, I started to see a change. I manifested a car (thank you Rose!) which in turn provided me with a job. My job, while mediocre at best (hello minimum wage/corporate slave labor!), allowed me to save up money and visit my friends. While visiting San Marcos one weekend I met a boy whom I started a 4 months long open-relationship with – who offered to let me move in with him in Austin until I got onto my feet (things ended shortly after I moved up here but the universe always gave me a place to stay)! So I applied at my old job (doing the tech support I am doing today) and got a call 30 minutes later!! The interview was the next day, I got the job, and here I am now – 10 months later – living in Austin, taking care of business!
I use affirmations on a daily basis to help with my mental well-being. Just the other day I was rearranging my bedroom and I actually used affirmations to help myself move my queen-sized bed across the room!! You might not believe it, but it’s true! I just repeated to myself “You are strong, you can do this..” and pictured myself moving the mattress where it needed to go – and it worked! Needless to say, I was very proud of myself (and my muscles, apparently all of this yoga is paying off!).
Now for the yummy stuff! Last night I made garlic knots and a deep dish pizza (using left-over dough to make my crust ). Turned out SUPREMELY delicious. I actually just ate the last two pieces for dinner. MMMM!
Here’s my adapted recipe:
1 3/4 c hot water
1/4 c olive oil
1 t sea salt
1 1/2 T dry-active yeast
4 cups unbleached bread flour
Mix all ingredients except for the flour, let yeast fully dissolve. Slowly add the flour until a dough is formed. Let proof (I put mine in a warm oven and it was done in 30 min!) until dough has doubled in size. Roll out the dough, cut into strips, roll and tie into a knot. Let proof again until knots are double in size. Bake at 400 degrees until the knots are nice and brown, around 12 minutes. Brush on garlic oil, recipe below:
Garlic Infused Oil
1/8 c olive oil
2T butter (or butter substitute)
4 (I used 5) garlic cloves
handful fresh parsley, chopped
Heat all ingredients on medium-low while the knots are baking. Brush on knots while still warm. Love this recipe forever.
To make the dough into pizza – I simply rolled out a circle, pressed it into a pie pan, and folded the edges to make a thick rounded crust. Bake until lightly brown. Then add pizza sauce, red onion, tomatoes, feta, parmesan, and garlic-herb goat cheese. Sprinkle with basil. Bake until crust is brown and cheese is melted. Then DEVOUR!
Hope you have a great weekend!
What kind of little precious do you have? Pets, children?