Yoga in the Prairie

Monday night my mom and I went to a local yoga studio for what was our first ever yoga class. I'd done some yoga DVDs at home, but usually found myself getting confused or not sure if I was doing it correctly. Needless to say I was excited to have an instructor provide hands on help. My mom was really nervous and barely talked during the car ride over. When we pulled up the studio was dark so we thought that maybe they were closed or that the instructor wasn't there yet so we just waited in the car a bit. The sky was threatening to rain and anyone who knows me knows I love rain so I took that as a good sign.

Once we saw people coming out of the studio we gathered up our gear and headed on in. We were welcomed by the instructor who also happens to be a regular customer of mine at the coffee shop. She showed us the cubbies where we could put our things and where the mats and props were if we needed to use them.

We set up our mats and waited for the other yogis to arrive. Including my mom and I there were six of us. The atmosphere was really laid back and fun. We could shout out any questions we had about the poses and many of us almost tipped over at least once. One thing I wasn't prepared for was how physically tiring it was. I knew it wasn't easy, but I was starting to get out of breath and my hands were shaking from having to hold myself up for so long in downward dog! The class time was dedicated to twists, which the instructor said were neutralizing poses, so if we were feeling hyper or down, it'd bring us back to center.

The class ended with us relaxing on our backs and the instructor came around with lavender oil on her hands and just held them above our faces for a little bit so we could get some aromatherapy action. That part of class was so soothing! We said farewell to the instructor and the other students and walked out into the rain feeling a little more uplifted.

I really enjoyed myself and look forward to going back next Monday. The concept I like most about yoga is that one can always get better. Even if you're like me and struggle with each pose, it's nice knowing that if I keep up with it and practice someday those poses won't be such a struggle. That's an exciting thought :). Namaste!


Have you ever had that feeling where you felt like you were in a blue funk, but had no idea why? Or felt unreasonably nervous about going to the grocery store? If so, then you'll know what I'm talking about.

This isn't one of my typical food or music posts, but I'm curious if other people feel like I do.

Lately I've just felt, for lack of a better word, out of it. I can't put my finger on one thing that's making me feel this way, but all I know is that it's frustrating to deal with. I feel bored, yet I want to go do something and even though I want to do something I have no motivation to do so.

Recently, I've also started up some of my old uncontrollable anxious habits. I'll yawn as if I'm trying to catch my breath, tighten my chest to push the air out of my lungs, and cough for no reason. They're all really annoying and happen on their own. A quick Google search told me I'm experiencing symptoms of anxiety, but what am I anxious about? Sure I've got things on my mind just like everyone else, find new job, cope with current job, move out, find love, lose weight, you know, average things. Unfortunately, I can't put my finger on what is behind my nervous habits.

There's a strong history of mental health problems on my mom's side, but I've always felt that my dad's calmness and stability was somehow passed down to my brother and I and that would protect me from some of that nasty stuff from my mom's side. Might be wishful thinking, but I feel that I may have gotten some of those mental issues. I know that medication can be helpful for some, but I don't want that for myself. I've always been of the holistic healing mindset and think that the practice of mind over matter would be more beneficial for me. Don't misunderstand though, I'm not talking waving my arms around and chanting kind of healing, I'll totally go to the doctor if I've got something wrong with me (if I had insurance), but I'd rather try and help heal myself without medication.

So I ask you, when you're feeling stressed, sad, anxious, nervous, jittery, what do you do to calm yourself?

I'll keep you all posted on my progress and what I come across that helps me. <3

Cappuccino Biscotti

This Memorial Day weekend I tied my apron on and made biscotti. I've never made biscotti before but I was inspired by a friend's twitter post to give it a try. After browsing around the internet for a yummy looking recipe I found this one, Cappuccino Biscotti.

I prepped all my ingredients just like those television chefs do and got to work. Everything went well except for when I was supposed to roll the dough into two loaves. My 'dough' was soupier than cookie dough! Now I'm not a novice when it comes to baking but I'm definitely more comfortable with a frying pan in my hand than a baking sheet.

I knew that if I added more flour I'd run the risk of over beating the mixture and I'd end up with concrete blocks instead of delicious biscotti. The only way I was going to be able to turn this soup into rollable dough was to add more flour so that's what I did. Very carefully I added flour while the stand mixer was on low until it turned into a very sticky dough. I figured this was as good as I was going to get it so I plopped it out onto my floured Silpat mat and divided the dough in half. I coaxed these two loaves into logs on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

The rest of the process went smoothly. I baked the logs for 35 minutes, let them cool for 10 minutes, then sliced them on the diagonal and baked for an additional 10 minutes. The first thing my mom said when she saw them was, "They look real!" I agreed, they looked like biscotti you'd see for sale in a coffee shop. These were just okay. I think they could use a little less clove next time. I can't wait to try making other varieties of biscotti!

What If Everything Is Perfect The Way It Is?

Even though the first day of spring has come and gone, stubborn snow is still sticking to the ground. It's the time of year when Minnesotans start going crazy with Spring Fever and graduates start panicking about finding a job and repaying loans. I'm in the last category.

In May I'll be graduating (for the second time) and will have two degrees under my belt. With so much education you'd think it'd be easy finding a job right? For me, not so much. Unlike most people I have no 'dream job.' What I do know is that I want to be happy, support myself, and enjoy weekends off.

But what if everything is perfect the way it is? I have a job, albeit I'm beginning to strongly dislike it, I have a roof over my head (even if it is my parents), and I've made lasting friendships. Minus the lousy job situation and still living with my parents at the age of 24, I'm kind of happy with the way things are. Unfortunately I know that this 'easy living' can't last. It's time to grow up quickly.

So while spring starts to warm up the ground and people's dispositions, I'll continue to job hunt at the kitchen table hoping the right job will find me.

The XX - "VCR"

It's not often that a music video makes me feel anything. Sure I may be entertained for four minutes or think, "What the hell did I just watch?" But for the The XX's new video for their song "VCR" it's a different story.

I think one of my dear friends put it best, it's the "simple sweet gestures" that make it so beautiful. The way the girl chews on her sleeve, the shoe falling off the boy's foot after he kicks through the wall, and how he gently plays with the girl's hair.

So often we see music videos from mainstream pop or hip-hop groups that are so over-the-top and in-your-face that it loses any sense of anything actually artistic. This video does quite the opposite. The viewer is led through a series of wonderfully created images of two teens exploring what seems to be an abandoned building. What affected me most about this video was how long the images and what they convey lingered in my mind. It made me long for a love like the two teens in the video so obviously have; comfortable, simple, and true.

I invite you to view the video and see how it moves you.

Japanese Lunch

Lately I've been obsessed with Japanese food. The light and airy flavors paired with savory soy sauce are addicting! I don't live anywhere near an Asian market so I have to use ingredients I've bought here and there from co-ops and make hodgepodge versions of Japanese food at home.

My favorite successes so far have been fried tofu and udon soup. For today's lunch I followed a recipe I found online for dashi stock and used that as my base. Dashi stock in Japanese cooking is what chicken broth is to Western cooking. It's really easy to make; just soak a piece of kombu kelp in a pot of water for 30 minutes then add a handful of bonito flakes and boil for five minutes. Strain and it's ready to use! Some recipes called for using dried anchovies, but I didn't have any of those.

In my soup bowl I put one sliced green onion, two sliced and blanched mushrooms, udon noodles, dashi stock, and cubed tofu. In
another version I added cut up pieces of nori. What I really wanted to make was miso soup, but I don't have any miso so I settled for using just dashi stock and it turned out really well.

Here's a picture.
On the side I had a small cup of sushi rice mixed with jade pearl rice and a cup of match tea.

Happy New Year

Well it's time for one of those cliché, "I haven't posted in so long!" posts.

The past year and the current year have taught me a lot about change. Changes in life, situations, and feelings. I've always loved change, even when I'm not enjoying the uncertainty it gives me. I look forward to the future and wonder where I'll be living, what I'll be doing, what friends I'll make, what friends I'll lose, and more importantly how happy I'll be.

Like I said earlier, the past year taught me a lot. I learned that I'm not quite as prepared as I'd like to be for the real world. This unpreparedness has lead to a lot of fear about my competency in holding down a "career" job. I've worked small service jobs since high school, but nothing that will prepare me for the future. I've relied on my schooling to help with that. Now's the time when I have to push myself for what I want and not be afraid.

I also learned what it means to lose friends (something I'm far too familiar with) and gain new friends. With every friend lost there are two more to replace that one friendship I held so dear. New friends give you a new pair of glasses to see the world through and the ones I've made this far have done just that. I've learned what it's like to truly enjoy life and know that I have a great group of people standing beside me when times get rough.

I've also strengthened old friendships. I thought I knew people, but really I had no idea (how cool they were)!

So as 2010 keeps rolling I hope to make some big changes that will impact my life in very positive ways. I know there will be hardships and not everything will go my way, but what doesn't kill me will only make me stronger.

Have a very happy 2010 everyone!