On Meditation

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With the day to day stresses that sometimes feel never ending, we’ve become increasingly more interested in finding ways to eliminate the anxiety that can inevitably manifest. The topic seems to be gaining momentum, and people have been increasingly more interested in opening a dialogue about the health of your mind & body.

I started practicing yoga about 12 years ago, and while I love the physical exercise aspect of it, I honestly don’t feel like session is complete without it having a strong mediative aspect — which some classes don’t always bring much attention to. I’ve had several classes that have brought me to tears (in a good way), all because I allow myself to get into a mental exploration of my own self.

Strangely enough, it wasn’t until recently that I started to incorporate this into my life’s routine outside of the studio. While I’ve always been a slightly anxious person, adulthood really seemed to emphasize the constant racing of my mind. It started to impact my sleep habits, diet, exercise, and relationships. In an effort to quiet my head and soften my irritability, I began incorporating some meditative techniques into my daily life, which I’ve found it to be so helpful over the last few months.

Some tools that I’ve personally found to be supportive —

Guided Meditation Apps
Headspace and Calm are both great apps that will slowly bring you into the process of incorporating meditation on a regular basis. I like to use Calm in the evenings once I’ve turned out the lights and gotten into bed — it helps me to escape from the frustrations of the day that are still lingering in my mind, and instead focus on the present. I’m personally a big fan of the Body Scan technique, which focuses on finding areas of tension in your body, and mentally releasing it through the breath.

Sleep Routines
Mine is simple but has made a huge difference for me — drinking a glass of water, turning the lights dim, burning incense, putting lavender oil on my wrists, and putting a sleep mask over my eyes while I use to my meditation app. Having a calming process that I’m familiar with, and look forward to, allows me to get into the sleepy mindset I need to get a full night of rest.

Self Care & Mindfulness
It’s very easy to forget about ourselves when we’re racing around trying to get everything done over the course of the day, but allowing yourself the time to do small things that make you happy will go a long way in the end. Even things as simple as a shower — closing your eyes and embracing the warm water, giving yourself a mini head massage with the shampoo, using an exfoliating scrub and noticing the tingle on your skin. Be present in the moment where you’re treating yourself, rather than rushing through just another daily shower.

Coloring Books
These have become all the rage, and I’m a total fan girl. A couple of weeks ago I had one of the most peaceful Saturday mornings I could imagine — I put some soothing music, made a cup of coffee, watched the snow fall outside, and colored in my new mandala coloring book. It was glorious and I felt so at ease afterward. It made me want to treat my body kindly for the rest of the day, and let me take a couple of hours to have some personal reflection. This is also another great tool to incorporate into your sleep routine for ten minutes before bed.

Have any of you been using meditation as a relaxation tool? If not, I hope I’ve inspired you to give it a spin. Take care, and happy Wednesday 🙂


— rkv 

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Roasted Cabbage Wedges

I still surprise myself with the foods that I prepare as an adult. Up until the age of 17 or so, you truly couldn’t pay me to eat cabbage (trust me, my Mom tried). I was always known among family & friends as the “picky eater,” but over the years have narrowed it down to only a few select foods that I won’t eat (basically anything pickled, fishy, or briny). My tastes have shifted radically, especially since living in Boston, and now I’m all about testing out unique ingredients.

While brainstorming ideas for March and St. Patty’s Day, I was definitely intrigued by the savory, classic dishes, and less so on things that Americans tend to brand as Irish (aka Irish coffee and shamrock shakes). Cabbage was certainly sort of a random selection for me, considering I had never prepared it before, but this dish seemed super easy and tasty…and it was!

I’ve also learned by now that butter, garlic, and lemon juice are magical ingredients to make savory meals come to life.

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Ingredients:
(makes 6 wedges)

1 head of green cabbage
2 lemons
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of room temp butter
1 tablespoon of minced garlic (fresh works too! I’m just lazy)
Salt & pepper to taste
Optional: fresh parsley, crumbled feta, crumbled bacon

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To Make:

Preheat the oven to 425. While the oven heats, cut the ends off the cabbage.

Slice evenly in half, and then each half into thirds, giving you six wedges. Each should be roughly 1/2 inch thick. Lay the wedges onto a baking sheet.

*Note – it helps to keep the core on each wedge, rather than to cut it off. It will keep them in tact while preparing, and you can just cut around the core while eating.

Dress both sides of each wedge with a light spread of butter, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper. Drizzle the juice 1 lemon onto the wedges.

Once the oven is heated, roast for ten minutes, then flip with a spatula. Flipping can be tricky, since the cabbage will sweat while roasting. Just to your best and let them be artfully disheveled.

While the other side cooks for ten minutes, prepare your bacon on a small pan and crumble once cooled.

After 20 minutes, your wedges should be fully cooked, with some crispy edges – it’s okay to let them burn up a little.

Plate and garnish with your cheese, bacon, parsley, and slices of your second lemon.

…and, enjoy 🙂

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Yoga Mat Cleaner

While I’ve been practicing yoga for nearly 10 years, I’m definitely a little lazy when it comes to cleaning my mat, and yeah, those things can get funky. My Sunday vinyasa class has an amazing smelling cleaner for community use, but there’s only one spray bottle, and about 30 students, so I usually get impatient and head home before giving my mat the cleaning it needs.

I had been wanting to make my own for a little while now, and since the ingredients used in it are so multi-purpose, last weekend I decided to whip one up!


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These two oils are great for a lot of reasons — tee tea is a natural antiseptic that can also be used as a topical treatment for conditions such as acne or fungal infections, and I like to keep the lavender on my nightstand, dabbing my wrists right before bed. The aroma knocks me out cold. Either can be picked up at Whole Foods or your local natural food section.

You’ll need:

  • 20 drops of tea tree oil
  • 20 drops of lavender oil
  • 1 small spray bottle
  • 1 cotton rag

There’s pretty much nothing to this little concoction, just drip the oil into your bottle, top off with water, and you’re all set! Mist your mat with the spray, and using a damp cloth to wipe down. Allow to fully dry before rolling back up, and you’re ready to go!


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Embracing Alone Time

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After reading a recent post from Julia of Lemon Stripes about the importance of down time, we too thought it was a great topic to talk about. And with chillier weather comes semi hibernation mode (before turning into full hibernation mode), and while it might seem a little boring at first, taking time for yourself is super important. Here are our ways of taking time for ourselves…

01. Creating to-do lists
Oh I know, sooo relaxing right?! It might seem daunting at first, but 2 of my favorite feelings come after getting my life in order – 1. the gratifying feeling of getting organized and being in control of your situation & 2. the inspiration that comes from making plans and putting ideas on paper. Make separate lists so things don’t become too overwhelming. Think day-to-day todo, long term goals and aspirational projects. It will recharge your feeling of self.

02. Going to the movies alone
The feeling of total control over what you see, when and where you see it is a very under rated alone time activity. Sure you could pull up something good up on Netflix, but you should really think about treating yo self once in awhile to a good old fashioned movie date. Maybe even preceded or followed up with some dinner or ice cream ;).

03. Experimenting with a new hobby (even if you’re slightly embarrassed)
This is the time to take those risks! Even if you feel a little self conscious, we can almost guarantee that no one is watching or judging! Usually people are too wrapped up in their own insecurities to even notice. Give that hot-yoga class a try, sign up for a 5K, give a new art or craft a shot (jewelry making, painting, photography, music), try cooking or baking something you’ve never made before, whatever strikes your interest. It’s okay to feel challenged, it’ll make you feel that much more accomplished afterward.

04. Pamper yourself
This can be a little tough, because sometimes we feel like we may not deserve to spoil ourselves, but trust us, you do! You work hard, and it’s alright to do something small for yourself to make you feel your best. Don’t get all crazy and max out your credit card or anything — everything in moderation! If you’ve been saving and eyeing that pair of shoes for like two years, get the shoes! This can even be smaller things like getting your nails done, a fresh hair cut, an amazing smelling face-mask, whatever brings you into your element and makes you feel as wonderful as you are.

05. Quiet time
We all struggle with this one, and we’ve all heard it before — turn off the tv, phone, iPad, computer, any and everything with a screen. It’s so important for our personal well being to give ourselves at least an hour to get away from the technology and consumes our daily lives, and just chill, man. This may make us feel a little anxious at first, but that’s to be expected — you’re basically going through withdrawal. Unwind with a book or magazine, straighten up your apartment, use it as a time to decompress and do something just for yourself.


 

Parmesan Asparagus with Heirloom Tomatoes

While I’m no stranger to some ice cream and burgers on these hot summer days, I’m also a big fan of eating colorfully and fresh. This quick little veggie appetizer goes great as a side dish for a light summery dinner (maybe with some lemony grilled chicken or a lean cut of steak), or even for breakfast served up with some eggs (poached, scrambled — your call!).

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You’ll need

  • 1 bundle of fresh asparagus
  • 3/4 cup fresh heirloom tomatoes (any tomatoes will do, but I just love how colorful these little beauties are)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • Drizzling of olive oil
  • 3-4 pinches of garlic salt (regular salt will do too)
  • 2-3 pinches of black pepper

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To Make

01. Preheat oven to 425

02. Trim the white stalks off of your asparagus and spread out the stems onto a baking sheet

03. Dice your onion, quarter your tomatoes, and mix in with asparagus

04. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with garlic salt & pepper

05. Top with grated parmesan and pop into the oven for 12-15 minutes. I like my asparagus to have a little crunch, but if you prefer it on the softer side, simply cook it a little longer.

06. Serve up and enjoy!

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Mount Monadnock

You may have seen us mention our hike in New Hampshire from a couple of weekends back, and now we’re finally getting around to posting about it!

We actually have renamed this epic hike to Profanity Mountain, because holy sh*t it was hard. We definitely didn’t quite know what we were getting ourselves into, but if you’ll notice in Exhibit B, picture #2, my body is lunging with all of it’s might up a massive incline — this was the entire hike up, for TWO hours. So yeah, needless to say we were exhausted, but so glad we did it. The view from the top was pretty unreal, and we were feeling mighty accomplished by the end of it.

So if you ever find yourself in this area of New England and are up for a bit of a challenge, this Profanity Mountain hike is a must. And now that we’re extremely experienced/advanced hikers (chyea, okay) we have a few tips for you. Check ’em out as you scroll!

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01. Good gear — moisture-wicking clothes, shoes with solid traction, and a headband will save your lives

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02. Snacks! — don’t leave home without ’em. We brought along a container of cashews, small turkey sandwiches, granola bars, and LOTS of water. If we didn’t have these, it’s quite possible that we would have passed out.

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03. Sunscreen — we lucked out and our day was pretty grey, but if it had been any sunnier, we would have likely been little lobsters. It’s easy to forget because you’re amongst so many trees, but your shoulders will definitely see the light of day, and a lot of it.

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04. Map it out — they’ll offer one to you, and you should take it. It’s pretty helpful in knowing which trail to take and figuring out what level you’re about to take on (plus they’re pretty!).

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05. Take breaks — if you’re pooped, you’re pooped! Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. Find a nice comfy looking rock, pop a squat, take in the views, and thank your body for being so good to you!

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Run it Out

We’re in the midst of getting our run on this summer (something we’re very excited about actually happening this year), and although we’re sort of new to this, we wish someone had broken it down a bit for us when we started! Here are G&M’s personal tips for starting to get into running!

1 // Cute & Comfy Gear

I hate to say it, but working out with cute clothes is just so much more motivating, amiright? It’s at least the first step for getting the courage to get out there, and it might be a tad superficial – but damn does it work. This goes for comfort as well. If you’re starting a new routine, get some new shoes that will accommodate for it! This can lead to being much more successful in your stride and keeping your joints safe. A_Piece_of_Toast_Athleta_140530-613715621823_afc041ccaf_b

 

2 // Have a Goal

We’ve been finding it much easier to keep with a routine if we have a specific race in mind. A couple of years back we did the Color Me Rad race together and loved every second of it. This weekend Reg is doing her first 10K, and in August Christa will be doing the 5K Lobster Loop in our home town. Having that single race in the back of your mind will keep you going for months.

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3 // Find your Groove

Whether it’s running with a friend, finding an app, or listening to Reg’s bomb-ass playlists, the best way to work out is a way that makes you happy. If you’re trudging along, just trying to get some more miles in, maybe long-distance running ain’t yo thang. You may be more comfortable with sprints or intervals, which make the time go by much faster! And vice versa, distance running can be a really meditative experience if you let it be.

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4 // Listen to your Body

Sometimes you’ve just had a long day, the weather is hot and sticky, and your front door knob just fell off (this happens to Reg all of the time). Pushing yourself on a day like this can sometimes be brutal. You can fatigue easily, get lightheaded, etc. Make sure to know when your body has simply had enough, and be done with it — hey, at least you got yourself out there in the first place. You can push your limits on another day when you’re feeling more motivated.

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5 // Eating Right, Hydrate & Stretch

This is so important for the longevity of your routine. You ain’t gonna break those goals with a belly full of chips, cotton mouth and tight hamstrings — it’s science. So prior to setting to the pavement, be sure to drink several glasses of water throughout the day, as well as your daily dose of fruits and veggies. Post run, be sure it stretch it out. Some of our faves are pigeon pose for the hips, the classic hurdler stretch for hamstrings and calves, and either a standing or kneeling quad stretch. Running also has a tendency to deteriorate muscle, so while you’re on the ground stretching, you might as well bang out some bicycle crunches and pushups.

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