Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Random 7

Okay, I was tagged by Vanessa to join in on this 7 Random Things thing. I am one of the least technically savvy people I know. My daughter had to set up my blog. I depend on my kids and my husband to keep all the technology in our home up and running. I had to email V and admit that I have no idea how to go about this! I did check her blog, and it was full of links and color and everything I do NOT have on my blog!!

Anyway, here are the instructions:

The rules: Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those who are tagged need to write on their own blog those 7 facts as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven other people and list their names on your blog. Then you leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog.

HA!!! I just did a color change! I am really progressing, huh? Well, I don't personally know 7 people who have blogs, so if YOU have a blog and you are reading this, consider yourself tagged.

Here are my 7 Random Things About ME::

1. I have moved 23 times in my life. (Yeah, it's getting old.)

2. I am a book-aholic. It's truly a disease. I love books, I save them, I collect them, I hoard them, I sneak them into the house and shove them onto the bookshelf, pretending (to myself) that they've been there all along.

3. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher. I let myself get talked out of it. Now, I homeschool my kids, teach yoga and teach knitting. I was a technical trainer for a while in the professional world. I guess you can't deny your true calling.

4. I long to be an artist, but I am a scientist, through and through. I love to cook... with a recipe. I love to knit... with a pattern. I think myself very daring if I make a small change in a recipe and it actually tastes good! My inner artist is begging to come out!!

5. I really don't like other people's feet. I even hated trimming my kids' toenails when they were babies! Feet are just sort of knobby and sweaty and bumpy and... gross. Fine words from a sock knitter, eh?

6. I'd prefer a nice bowl of tortilla chips and salsa to a dessert, any time. I love tortilla chips. I despise cheesecake. There are those days I NEED chocolate, but that doesn't really count as dessert... does it? I could survive on chips and salsa, I think. Toss me an avocado once in a while and I'd be a happy camper.

7. I enjoy washing dishes. That's right, I like it! I don't like to wash big pots and pans and baking dishes; Mike does those:-) I just like the warm water, the soap, the instant gratification of a pile of clean dishes. Seriously, we only run our dishwasher about once a week! Don't get me started on all the cleaning chores I DON'T like!!!

Okay, there's my 7, about as random as you can get.
Enjoy the rest of your week!!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

House of Champions!

May I brag about my kids, just this one time? Thank you. All 3 of my kids began fencing last fall. First, it was just the boys, but they made it sound so great that my daughter had to try, too! They all love it. It is a once weekly class and they won't miss it for the world.

Yesterday was the annual fencing tournament for recreational fencers! All 3 of my kids were nervous. Kaitlin was nervous because she had no idea what to expect; she suspected she would be one of very few girls, (she was correct!); and her age category was "open fencing," which was Connor wasn't too nervous; he was up for the competition, just uncertain of where he would end up... and that boy likes to WIN. Kyle was extremely nervous. He is the youngest kid in their fencing class and usually loses. He had never fenced anyone in his own age group and I think he just wanted to prove to himself that he is a good fencer.

I'll spare you the details. Kaitlin and Connor had to fence each other several times. They usually go back and forth winning in class, but yesterday, Kaitlin won. In the end, Kyle won a silver medal for the age 10 and under category! This was big for him; he had to defeat a lot of kids and I could see his confidence soaring. Connor won a tie for third place in the open fencing, and ended up with a gold medal for the age 12 and under category! It took the sting out of losing to his sister:-) A real confidence-booster for him, too. Kaitlin ended up winning the gold medal for the open fencing category! Her final bout was won by one point. She fenced a young man who is actually a competitive fencer, and a very good one, but he was fencing yesterday with his left hand in the recreational tournament. She was so proud; I don't think she thought she could actually win. I believe all of her dancing really helped her footwork, which was graceful and controlled. Mike and I are just bursting with pride!

Moving on. Thanks for your comments and suggestions and ideas about how to continue knitting despite my shoulder issues. I must confess: except for an initial slowdown, I have not cut back on my knitting! I have tried to be very conscious of my position, constantly adjusting my shoulders, taking more breaks, stretching out frequently. I am searching for shoulder stretches and reading a lot about shoulders. I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I'm still working on the shawl, which is coming along nicely. I wish it were finished already, as I've had many opportunities to wear it! All in good time, I guess. Also, working on the foot of my first tennis sock! I am using the Sockotta yarn, cotton/wool/nylon blend, and a plain "vanilla" sock pattern with the leg/cuff cut down. They are pretty and very soft, and I hope they will bring me luck on the tennis courts:-)
(That's Luka, checking out my sock)

Okay, I did say we are a "house of champions," but perhaps I should say the kids are fencing champions, and Mike is a golf champion, but Cheryl is NOT a tennis champion. Not by a longshot. I played in my first league on Friday. Marcia was my partner, luckily, because she is pretty good. We lost, 7-5, 6-1. Everything I have ever done wrong, I did wrong. I swung on the volleys (out of the court); I didn't follow through on my forehand (out of the court); I twisted my racket on my backhand volleys (out of the court); I did some dumb one-handed backhands... out of the court! Okay, room for improvement, right? It was still fun, believe it or not! The ladies we played against were super nice, we didn't get creamed, and now I know what I need to work on:-)

It's sort of a rainy day and I'm craving homemade baked macaroni and cheese. Here is a simple recipe for our favorite:

Baked Mac and Cheese

1 lb. elbow macaroni or other small pasta, cooked and drained
2 Tbs. butter or Earth Balance
2 Tbs. flour
2-1/2 C milk (lowfat, soy milk, or rice milk all work fine)
2 C grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 chopped green onions
breadcrumbs for topping

Melt butter in saucepan over med. heat. Whisk in flour, then add milk and cook about 5 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in 1-1/2 C cheese and season with salt and pepper. Combine with noodles. Stir in green onions. Pour into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish that has been sprayed with oil. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, then sprinkle on some breadcrumbs. Bake 30-40 minutes, until the top begins to brown.
I'm off, for now. More soon!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Flip Side

I really wanted to share all the wonderful things I experienced at the yoga workshop last week. I wanted you all to realize how really great it was! I hope you did.

And now, for the flip side.
(I know some of you are too young to remember vinyl records, (Vanessa), but the flip side is the OTHER side of the record, the side that does NOT have the hit song on it!)
Here is the flip side of my yoga experience:

I talked with Max frequently throughout the week, adjusting my body to the postures, trying to figure out which things would work best for me. We worked at length with my shoulders, which are sort of tight and "crack" a lot, and have a somewhat limited range of motion. He kept assuring me that we could work with them and that they would get better.

On Thursday, I returned from the lunch break a little bit early. I decided to knit a few rounds on a sock I'm working on. I was chatting with another woman in the class who was also a knitter. Max came trotting over to me. Excitedly, he said, "Cheryl, how often do you do that?" I stared blankly. "Do what?" "THAT!" He pointed at my sock. "Oh, knitting? Every day, I guess. Why?" "How long do you knit for every day?" "I don't know." I faltered. I had a sneaking suspicion that something bad was about to happen. "Sometimes a few hours a day, I guess." I knit while the kids are taking piano lessons. During soccer practices. And games. During fencing. While watching American Idol. A lot.

Max was... ecstatic. "That's it!" he said. "That's what?" "That's what's causing your shoulder tightness. I sat right here and watched the movement of your shoulders and it's not good. You've got to stop!" "Stop what?" I stared blankly. I looked at the woman sitting next to me. She looked horrified. "Surely you don't mean... stop... knitting?" Now I was horrified. Max said, "Well, no, not stop, you don't have to stop knitting, you just have to cut back. Do it a lot less. Find something else that you want to accomplish so you don't have an empty feeling. I think your shoulders will feel a lot better!" He walked away, smiling, obviously pleased with himself.

I almost fell over. I was stunned. I stared at my knitting friend; she stared back at me. "I can't stop knitting," I said. "NO, you can't," she agreed. "You can't stop. You shouldn't stop. You don't have to stop." She was sputtering. I nodded in agreement. I don't have to stop! She said, "Sometimes I prop my elbows on pillows while I knit. I bet you could modify the way you hold your needles." I grabbed that one. "Yes! I'll modify! I'll adjust! I can still knit!" She nodded, and we smiled at each other, encouragingly. And then Max rang the bell (actually, the bowl), and class began.

Okay, I'm not going to stop knitting. But ever since Max mentioned it, all I can think about is my shoulders. I stop every few rounds and stretch them out. I do a few asana, just to make sure they aren't freezing into a knitting position. (Would that really be so bad?) And... I feel guilty. I don't want to fill my time with something else; I want to knit. I can't run, because of my ankles. My chiropractor told me that tennis is not the best thing for my back. And now my yoga teacher wants me to stop knitting?? I think we are all in agreement here: there is surely, most definitely, some sort of compromise... right?

Now you all know the flip side of my yoga experience. To tell you the truth, I almost didn't write about this. I didn't want to tell anyone! I thought about it a lot and decided if there IS a compromise, or a modification, my friends could help me find it. So, what are you waiting for? Help me! Any suggestions are welcome.

I wonder if I could actually knit while doing yoga??

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sorry I Left You Hanging!

Waiting with baited breath for the grand finale:-)

Okay, first, I must send out wishes for a happy mother's day to all the women in my life. You might not have children, but you have nurtured someone, or perhaps a furry "someone", and nurturing, loving, caring for anyone who needs it, that's what mothers do. I celebrate the Great Mother in all of us.

Back to yoga. The final session was very poignant. I know I wasn't the only one on the verge of tears for most of the day. As always, Max was the Master Teacher that he is, and he directed and handled our energy to perfection.

Most of the session was spent giving us final instructions in how to be the best teachers we can possibly be. We learned how to order our verbal instructions and how to speak so others can best understand us. We learned the best ways to sequence our classes to keep our students safe. Jamie gave us some final pointers in human anatomy and suggested points to reference in every posture.

The final pose we studied, practiced, learned and taught was handstand. This was planned to perfection. Max told us, at the beginning, that handstand is a very rajasic pose, meaning that it generates intensity and heat. He told us that handstand is a pose that is inspiring, exciting, confidence-building, and even life changing. We all got to experience handstand, several times. We all got to teach handstand to another person and to help them experience handstand. Max was right. The energy in the room exploded! We were all happy, excited, proud, accomplished. It was the loudest day of the workshop. Everyone was touched. We all left feeling capable of teaching yoga, capable of changing our own lives, capable of helping others.

Later last night, we all gathered at Jennifer's house to relax and connect with each other one final time. It was the perfect finale, filled with happiness and hope. I introduced Mike to Max. I have to add that Mike does not practice yoga and really, has no interest. I could tell that he definitely felt Max's presence. He really enjoyed everyone he met and had a great time. I don't know if he will turn into a yogi, ever. I'm still glad he was willing to share the experience with me and keep the possibility open.

So, I do have one more thing to add: I know some of you reading this have already experienced the wonderful things yoga can do for your body, your mind, and your spirit. Some of you have tried it, and are not convinced. And, some of you have yet to dip your toes into the vast ocean that is yoga. I urge you, all of you: try it, and try it again. You might not find the style that is right for you immediately. You might not find a teacher you connect with on the first try. Keep on trying; it is SO worth it.

I hope I get the opportunity to teach you, or to learn from you, or both.

Om, shanti-

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Well, I made it through an amazing week. What I feel right now is gratitude. I'm grateful for this fabulous opportunity to study with Max, to learn a fraction of Jamie's anatomy knowledge, to have met such wonderful people. Everyone should have a chance to spend a week like this.

I want to share all I learned today, all I felt, all I experienced, and I will... tomorrow. We had a little "wrap up" party this evening and it's 11:00 pm and I'm so ready for sleep. My heart is full.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Day 5... Almost There....

Happy Friday! It's with mixed feelings that I end this week. First of all, the workshop is not over. We have a session tomorrow, Saturday, noon-4pm, so I still have another day of learning opportunities left! Still, I am 5/6 of the way done. I feel proud to have made it through this far, my body is tired, I have tons of information to sort through. I feel both excited about all I have learned, yet overwhelmed by everything I still don't know!

We started with morning asana with Max. Reviewed positions in postures and worked on sequencing as well as added a few new postures to the mix. Max talked about ahimsa and assigned us homework: to write about how we incorporate ahimsa into our lives and how we could do better. I think about this a lot. How can I write only one page? :-)

In the afternoon, Max talked with us about Presence, Gratitude, Forgiveness and Peace. One thing that really stuck with me: we talked about all the attributes that give someone Presence; what makes us want to be around some people? We mentioned awareness, calmness, happiness, vitality, a good listener, making eye contact, in the present moment. No one mentioned that you have to be good looking, or smart, or athletic, yet these are all the things we THINK we have to be. Why is that?

He talked about gratitude. You cannot feel gratitude and resentment or anger at the same time, so if you can find something to be grateful for, your anger and resentment will diminish. Humility builds balance and when you are humbled, you are able to forgive. Forgiveness allows for Peace.

As you might imagine, it has been a very emotional week. Doing a lot of bodywork and a lot of deep breathing brings a lot of emotions to the surface and we have all experienced it. I feel like I just need some quiet time. I feel vulnerable, very raw. Emotions are close to the surface; it takes very little to make my eyes well up with tears. Others have expressed feelings of anger, but I haven't felt that. People have shed tears in certain postures, or during sivasana. It has really drawn us close together as a group. It is an amazing dynamic.

Later, Patricia's husband, Bob came to our class. He lined up along with other class members to represent a "typical" yoga class, with flexible people and tight hamstring people and everyone in between. Max and Jamie "taught" the class, showed adjustments, how to make everyone feel comfortable yet challenged in the poses. The end of the day we spent working in some adaptations of more advanced poses, like ustrasana (camel), Natarajasana (king dancer), and Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel). They were supposed to be "easier." Let's just say my thighs are still burning!

Til tomorrow...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Yoga: Day 4

Another interesting and enlightening day!

Jamie started us out with asana practice this morning. The first hour or so was pretty vigorous and I was standing in a patch of sun shining in through one of the skylights. It was so HOT! I finally had to move my mat into a tiny corner that was not in the sun so I didn't pass out! Luckily, Jamie moved into some more "healing" poses. I don't mean that they were easy, because they weren't. However, we got to move our mats to the walls so I was able to get away from that sunny spot:-) We learned poses you can do to relieve or stretch injured hamstrings, sciatica, and other back imbalances.

After lunch, we sat in a circle and everyone shared their physical injuries. This was amazing! Out of 33 people, only 2 people had NO injuries in their bodies! Everyone else is currently dealing with something: shoulder injuries, knees, hamstrings, groin, back, neck, compressed discs, broken or sprained parts, and more. This opened my eyes to a few things: first, I am not alone in my injuries. I even met another woman who sustained a rather serious injury from a yoga class and we commiserated! Second, I need to dig deeper into my student's injuries. People really don't like to talk about them, or they forget about them, or they don't think the injuries will matter in yoga. They will matter, they do matter, yoga teachers and other body workers need to know about them.

After this, we practiced teaching shoulderstand and all variations, and adjusting people in shoulderstand. I had sort of mixed feelings about this part. First of all, some of the things we learned about some of the asana were very different from things I have learned in the past. I asked a lot of questions! Max and Jamie assured me that the things they were saying are correct. I felt confused until other students started coming up to me and saying that they ALSO learned things the way I learned them. I don't mean to be cryptic here, but I don't want to cause further confusion, either. At any rate, we all sort of decided that Max and Jamie are teaching the very safest ways to practice and teach the asana. I'll just add their information to my bag of tricks and use it as I need it.

During the practice session, I was told that I am "too nice" when I teach, and that I need to be more forceful with my directions. So, LOOK OUT yoga students!! Get ready for boot camp! That's an order!
Just kidding. I appreciate all the input and direction and I'll do my best to learn from all the things I'm being taught this week.

Today I met even more yoga teachers, so now I have an entire list of classes I am anxious to try. Feast or famine, huh? Also, I met a lady with fabulous curly hair! She lent me her curly hair book, gave me a list of curly hair products, and referred me to her curly hairdresser. I am dreaming of having beautiful curls, just like Megan's!!

Good night, now.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Day 3: Noodle Arm Day

This morning, my arms hurt in every single direction. Out to the side, overhead, back, arms straight, arms bent, across the chest... yup, they all hurt. My legs feel like I've run many, many miles. Isn't yoga great?

Okay, I'm still popping up early in the morning, excited to see what's in store for us at yoga! Perhaps "popping up" is a bit of an exaggeration, considering the condition of my body, but I am still eager! This morning began with 2 hours of yoga asana with Max. We learned some new breathing exercises, reviewed the asana from yesterday, added new ones. We learned new tips and teaching techniques, ways to work smarter in each pose.

The best part of this workshop has been meeting the other students. I am surprised by the number of yoga teachers in the class! They teach all over the Kansas City metro area, and beyond. People teach in yoga studios, fitness centers, churches, homes, everywhere! The yoga community here is so diverse. I am getting a real sense of community and connectedness that I have been longing for. I am looking forward to sampling some of these classes around the area.

Yoga people are very genuine. Everyone has been friendly and open and very supportive. It is fun learning where people have trained, who they have studied with, who they like to work with, and about all of their experiences. I feel like I am on the right path in my yoga journey. Everyone has validated my experiences and hopes for the future.

The afternoon session was taught by Jamie, all about anatomy. It is so amazing that the human body is made up of so many different parts, and that we can all be put together just a little bit differently. There are many things that can go wrong, but nearly everything can be corrected or healed, partially or completely, if you are willing to put the time in doing the work. I now have some great references for all sorts of injuries or illnesses! I can't wait to put together a program for myself, working on my back and my hip, and my tight shoulders. I believe that once I see progress in myself, I will be able to help many other people, too. And that's what yoga is all about.

I'm off to bed now, for real!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Yoga Day 2: It Was a LONG Day...

We didn't finish today until 6:15 pm. The very last thing we worked on was chaturanga dandasana (the yoga push-ups). Note to self: do NOT save this pose until the end of class! My arms were like noodles and I could barely hold myself up! Other students seem to do fine, though, so maybe it's just me....

Okay, this morning's asana class focused on teaching basic poses. Max really likes you to teach something very basically, emphasizing only two or three points, then repeat it several times, adding something each time you repeat it. I did learn a few fine points about teaching some of the asana, including virabhadrasana I and II (warrior I and II), trikonasana (triangle), and sarvangasana (shoulderstand.) I also learned new ways to actually get into the poses. I really tried to focus on my breathwork this morning, knowing that if I do it, you will do it, too:-)

The afternoon session was the long one. Jamie Elmer arrived. She is a yoga instructor and a pilates instructor and assists Max and is, apparently, the anatomy/physiology expert. She certainly knows her stuff! Wow.

Max started out by telling us that in our lives and in our yoga practice, we need balance. There are three major centers: the physical, the mental, and the emotional. Most of us tend to feel most comfortable in one of these centers, and we need to make an effort to balance all three of them. Being more balanced leads to a feeling of "wholeness" or "completeness", which leads to more happiness! I had no trouble finding myself and figuring out what I need to work on.... how about you?

We had a bit more discussion about the bandhas, when and how to engage them, the benefits of each. (hint: especially in balancing poses!!)

We then moved into learning how to teach the poses and how to perform adjustments. We got into poses and deliberately (or not!) messed them up, and took turns trying to adjust each other. It was fun, but a lot of work. The best part was working on things I have actually seen in my classes and not really known how to correct them, even though I knew they were wrong. It was great to have the collective energy and knowledge of the class to work through these things. I know this will improve my teaching; I can't wait to give it a try!

As I mentioned, the final asana was chaturanga dandasana. Max and Jamie came around and adjusted each of us individually. By this time, I was... less than stellar. And I really needed some chocolate. I have a whole new level of sympathy for my students. Seriously. And maybe, that's the most important lesson of the day.

Til tomorrow....

Monday, May 7, 2007

Yoga Workshop: Day 1

The day just flew by. I can't believe the first day is over already!

The morning started with a few comments and introductions from Patricia Gray, owner of the Yoga Gallery, and Max Strom, our guest teacher for the week. Everyone got settled in for a week full of great information. The class is geared towards teaching yoga. The students seem divided equally between those who already teach yoga and those who wish to teach. Both men and women, a wide span of ages represented, all levels of ability. It's very comfortable.

The morning session consisted of a yoga asana session. It was not too vigorous, but perfect for allowing Max to assess our levels and us to sample his teaching style. One thing he showed us was how to easily alter a very basic class to make it more difficult for advanced students. He demonstrated how holding a pose for a long time or moving quickly through a vinyasana sequence will increase the difficulty level of the class. He also emphasized teaching every asana in every class to multiple levels. He reminded us that, no matter how hard we try, we will always have someone in the class who is at a different level. We must focus on giving everyone a workout that is appropriate for their level and also keep each student safe. This is information that will definitely be useful in my classes!

In the afternoon session, we spent a lot of time focusing on pranayama: teaching breathing, connecting the breath with the body, ALWAYS focusing on the breath. One thing I hadn't realized before: the order in which you teach a posture really affects the way the posture is learned. If we teach a posture with 8 or 10 points and the breath is the 9th or 10th thing we mention, if will probably be forgotten. The students are really trying to focus on the first two or three things you mention; the later things get lost. We need to mention the breath FIRST. This is something I'm definitely going to work on in the classes I teach.

We started learning the particulars of some of the asana, how subtle changes and rotations in your arms or legs can affect the asana, proper positioning of the pelvis, legs, arms, shoulders, etc. It was very powerful to actually experience how a minor change in body position can affect your breathing, your stability in a posture, or even cause injuries. (okay, I didn't actually experience that:-)

We closed the class with a demonstration of the power each of us holds in our own hands. We performed an "adjustment" on another student without actually touching them. We sent our energy through our hands to another person's heart center and were able to actually see a change in breathing or position, and feel the energy moving us. Totally awesome.

I'm tired. I know tomorrow will be even more intense, so I'm going to try to relax and go to bed early tonight! (famous last words.....)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Now You See Me...

Apparently, now you don't! I don't know what's going on or how I get so busy that the days just fly by! It gets harder when Mike has to travel and I have juggle the kids' activities and schedules and my own, and also cook meals, do laundry, and keep the furballs off the floors. So, let's catch up!

I must start with knitting. I finished the textured rib socks. You read correctly: they are DONE! I do love them. They fit like a dream and are beautiful, too. I'm not sure if I'll keep them or gift them. It's pretty warm for wool socks right now, so I guess I'll just wait and see. It was so inspiring to actually finish them that I immediately started knitting like crazy on my lace shawl, then started another project! I started working on the Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell from the newest Interweave Knits magazine. I really like the pattern. I don't LOVE it, but it looked easy and I had some yarn I've been holding onto for about 2 years now and it just seemed like the right pattern and the right yarn. What yarn, you ask? Okay, don't laugh. I had 3 skeins of TLC CaraMia yarn that I bought on sale at least 2 years ago. The gauge was right on and the yarn is soft and easy to knit with. I love the fabric. I just hope the yarn holds up well, as it is...inexpensive.

Speaking of yarn... I drove over to KnitWit in Olathe yesterday to take advantage of their sale: 30% off all yarn! I bought all of this:

For: another Lucy bag, the Little Silk Shrug from Lace Style, the Ogee Lace Skirt from Interweave Knits,(that's for my daughter), and a pair of tennis socks for moi! Yes, I have decided to knit some tennis socks for myself. The hardest part was selecting a yarn. It couldn't be all wool, or too thick, or too thin and flimsy. I wanted some cotton, but not too much. I chose Sockotta. It is a cotton/wool/nylon blend that I think will hold up well and also produce a sock that stays up! I know, this will also depend on my ability to knit at the correct GAUGE, which is not my forte, but I'll figure it out, one way or another:-) More detailed info on the projects will follow, as I knit them, if and when I get to them. (I do have lots of yarn in my stash, all designated for projects, so we will see what mood strikes me next!)

Just a word here about a knitting book I love: Lace Style by Pam Allen and Ann Budd. It is part of the "style" series, along with Scarf Style and Wrap Style, and I love them all. Lace Style is filled with lace patterns, ranging from easy to difficult, fine yarns to heavier, small projects to a complete, full-length dress! The photographs are beautiful and inspiring and I'm sure you will enjoy browsing through this book.

Moving on to food, another favorite subject! I'm continuing to explore the raw foodstuffs. For the record, I don't have any intention of becoming a total raw foodist, or converting my family, or anyone else, for that matter. I am interested in eating healthier and also, anything that will help ease my digestive woes. So, on I go. I've tried a few new recipes: first, I made some "raw" hummus. You actually simply soak the chickpeas and then use soaked chickpeas instead of cooked ones to make hummus. Simply add the chickpeas, olive oil, water to thin, lemon juice, tahini, garlic and salt to your VitaMix and blend til it's smooth and creamy. The taste is delicious. It is a bit more bitter than traditional tahini, so you will need to use the lemon juice and salt to adjust it to your taste, but it's really, really good.

This morning I made almond milk. I soaked almonds overnight, then just blended them with water in the VitaMix. Okay, you are supposed to strain out the solids through a cheesecloth and I ran out of patience, so my milk has some almond bits floating around in it! I only wanted it for breakfast, on raw oats or raw granola, so I don't really mind. OH, it's really bland. I added some honey and some vanilla, which helped, but I'm now considering adding some maple syrup. (I do like it sweet:-)

I will give you two recipes today. The first one is called "Mediterranean Kale" from Raw Food Made Easy by Jennifer Cornbleet. This book has a lot of very basic recipes if you are new to raw foods, like I am. This dish can be made with kale or swiss chard or spinach or whatever. Marinating the greens in the dressing makes them softer and tastier.
Mediterranean Kale (1 serving) (easy to double or quadruple)
4 kale leaves, stems removed, sliced into thin strips, then chopped
1-1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1 Tbs pine nuts
3-4 sliced black olives (kalamata are good!)
black pepper to taste
Place the kale in a bowl with the olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Toss well with your hands, working the dressing into the greens. Add the red bell pepper, pine nuts and olives and toss gently. Marinate at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving. Adjust salt, add pepper if desired.
The second recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson. I've been looking for things I can prepare ahead of time and I suddenly remembered my crockpot! This is a dal recipe. Not exactly traditional, but easy and the whole family loved it. I served it on basmati rice and put out tamari, lemon juice and cilantro as optional garnishes.
What a Dal

2 Tbs olive oil
1 lg. onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger root
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1-1/2 C dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 C water
salt and pepper to taste

Pour oil into crockpot and set on high. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, cover and cook while you assemble the other ingredients. (just cook until it starts to soften, to take the raw onion taste out)
Stir in all the spices and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Turn setting to low.
Add lentils, kidney beans and water, cover, cook on low for 8 hours. Season with salt and pepper before serving to taste. If desired, you can puree 1-2 cups of the finished product and then return it to the crock pot, to make a smoother texture.
(I used a bit more water. It looked sort of dry to me, so I added even more at the very end. Maybe up to 4 C altogether.)
I plan on using a few more crockpot recipes this week, so I'll let you know how they turn out. Why, you ask?? Well, it is finally here: my week-long yoga intensive workshop with Max Strom!! It is right here in Kansas City, so I will be able to come home each evening (and often at lunchtime!), but my days will be spent at the Yoga Gallery, immersing myself in all things yogic. I am going to try to post during the week about my experiences and thoughts and feelings during the workshop, so please, check back, so you can share in what I am sure will be an awesome week.
I'm off to complete my pre-workshop reading. Have a beautiful week, and stay dry:-)