3.30.2016

Semi-Wordless Wednesday {Springtime in Colorado}

From our most recent springtime blizzard! 


Poor tree couldn't take all the snow...




Taken the very next day... such strong buds!

What you can't tell from these pictures, is that after walking around in this snow, with the sun shining beating down on me for about 20 minutes... I had to take my coat off!

3.28.2016

Settling into a Rhythm of Non-Rhythm

I've talked before about how our routine right now isn't always the easiest since while certain things stay the same, most days area different. However we finally seem to have found a nice rhythm, a semi-routine, that works for us all.

In the mornings Gwen has school. Mondays and Thursday I go to yoga class, about every other week I observe a class on either Tuesday or Wednesday. The afternoon/evening has swim lessons twice a week, alternating with yoga teacher training twice a week. Fridays are blissfully free and clear!

My fill my non-yoga mornings with errands, homework, housework, and on Fridays... hair dye. :-)

Every day, no matter what is coming later, I pick Gwen up, we walk to the mail center then head home for lunch. We do homework, then she gets to relax with a show. When its warm we take Daisy for walks. When its cold or we're feeling lazy, we read and play Legos and games. The days are always full.

A photo posted by Meegs (@tattooedmeegs) on

Though it still plays out that no two days are the same during the week, at least we have a rhythm now week-to-week.

Until today when Gwen started her 3-week spring break... but that's another story. Ha! (Oh boy...)

3.25.2016

Spring

After a bang of a start, we ended up with a pretty mild Colorado winter. Every month the temps bounced up into the 50s, 60s, or even 70s, before dropping back down and gifting us with some snow. But that snow would be gone pretty quickly, thanks to the crazy sun.


Its actually been officially spring for 5 whole days now, but it felt like spring for longer. This whole month we seemed to have turned a corner, that hard, hot sun is back (it's back to regular air conditioner use in the car!); and the air holds a lot of promise. Buds are popping and green is returning, and while I've actually not minded this winter so very much, I'm excited for the regrowth that comes with spring. Not to mention all the fun plans we have for the weeks and months ahead!!


Now all this doesn't mean we are done with snow... we actually just got a little bit last week, got really nailed on Wednesday (see below) and Colorado has been known to throw out a freak snow storm in May (they had a Mother's Day one last year! Crazy)! But that sun, its really back, and I think, for the most part, we've turned a corner now.

A photo posted by Meegs (@tattooedmeegs) on

3.21.2016

the Rebirth of Baking

Other then two boxed mix brownie batches and a batch of ready-to-bake cookies, I haven't baked a dang thing since we moved to Colorado. That is crazy to me and makes me a little sad. During our last 6 months in PA, I was probably making Irish Soda Bread every two or three weeks (not to mention these scones, and these muffins... yummm).

I missed it, and as this past Thursday was St. Patrick's Day, it seemed like a good time to give this whole high altitude baking thing a try. I was a little terrified that I would end up with a rock hard, collapsed bread pancake! But there's nothing to do but try, right?!

Not a bread pancake!

The general adjustments I found online were to reduce leaveners and sugar, increase flour and liquid; also increase the oven temp and reduce cooking time. That translated to (my original, with adjustments after):

High Altitude Irish Soda Bread

Sift together:
2 heaping cups all-purpose flour [plus 3 T]
1/2 t. baking soda [reduce to 1/4 t.]
2 t. baking powder [reduce to 1 t.]
2 T. brown sugar [reduce 1 1/2 T brown sugar]
1/2 t. salt

Cut in:
3 T. softened butter 
Add: 
1/2 cup raisins

1 cup buttermilk (or scant cup regular milk with 1 T. vinegar to sour) [plus 1.5 T milk]
 

Mix thoroughly.


Turn out dough on floured board (don't skimp on the flour, its a sticky dough!), sprinkle a bit more flour on top, flour your hands, and knead for 2-3 minutes. Shape into round loaf.


Place in greased 8 or 9 inch cake pan. Cut a "cross" on top, about 1" deep, with buttered knife (this helps get the heat down inside).

Bake in 350 375 degree oven for 25 - 45 minutes or until golden brown. Check after 20 minutes and see how browned it is on top, cover with foil if needed to keep cooking the inside without burning the top.


Let cool for 10 minutes+ before slicing.


Not bad for a first foray! I might play a little more to see if I can get a slightly lighter bread, but this bread is a denser one anyway, and its good like this. So I'm pleased!

3.18.2016

Accountability Update

I wrote about a month ago about some new health goals (mental, physical) that I had started two weeks prior. The general update is that things are going really well. I feel good, strong, and I saw a weight on the scale that I haven't seen since before my pregnancy with Gwen. I've lost inches since the last time I bothered to check. Better yet, what I'm doing feels sustainable.


I'm "on my mat" more (most of the time my home practice is not on a mat!), eating or drinking way more greens in all forms, and seem to have reset my sweet cravings a bit.


I was oil pulling regularly until about a week ago, when I decided to give it a little break, as my dread of doing it seemed to be outweighing the benefits! I'll give it another try soon.

My flossing is on point.  ;-)


It feels amazing to be taking care of myself better, and it allows me to care for my family better. I have so much more to give to them because I feel better, fuller.

So I continue on!

3.16.2016

3.14.2016

Potato Leek Soup {recipe}


So I don't always have the most time for cooking lately. I talked last week about how Tuesday and Thursdays there's no time for cooking because of Yoga Teacher Training (make ahead meals are the name of the game). Mondays and Wednesday we have swim lessons, which leaves way less time for dinner prep too. So when Friday rolls around and I do have time to cook, I try to make the most of it!


I got a pretty leek in a fruit/veggie box, so I decided that potato leek soup was definitely called for. It is such an easy, delicious soup, and fast! While some soups require long simmers, this one comes together in about 25 minutes, start to finish.

You can see the cast of characters above, potatoes and leek (obviously), broth (or bouillon cubes and water if you don't have the broth you thought you had!), garlic, cream, and spices.

1. Start by cleaning your potatoes (I did 5), and your leek. Leeks are tricky beasts, and love to hide grit and sand in their leaves, so start by cutting off the thick root end and the tough dark greens, then rinse them thoroughly.

Chop the leeks into small pieces.

2. Melt some butter in a pan and get those leeks going. You want to cook them until they are soft and getting some color.
While they cook, mince some garlic (I did 3 cloves). When the leeks are almost ready, throw the garlic in to get some color too.

3. Cut your potatoes into cubes. When the leek/garlic mix is done, throw the potatoes in, then add your broth (I did about 5 cups). Give it a stir and start to bring it to a high simmer/low boil.


4. Add your spices. Customize here! Definitely add some bay leaves (I did 3), rosemary, and pepper; but other then that, go crazy! I love sage, so I added both fresh sage leaves and ground sage; I also added red pepper flakes (for a kick), and some parsley. 

5. Now throw the lid on, and let it cook until the potatoes are tender. 

6. (Optional) While things are cooking: The finished product is a super smooth, creamy soup... but since I was eating this as a main dish, I wanted a little crunch on top. So lets make a topping! 

Take some of those sage leaves and some cashews, and chop them up small. Melt some butter in a shallow pan.


If your cashews are raw, then throw the whole lot in together. If the cashews are cooked, then put the sage in first. Start toasting everything up until its golden, crispy, and fragrant.

Set aside.

7. Once the potatoes are tender, and everything is nicely cooked, pull out the bay leaves, then break out your immersion blender (or carefully use a standard blender) and go to town! You want a nice smooth soup.


8. Once that's done, add your cream. You don't need a lot (I probably only had a 1/4 cup left), but it makes a difference. It adds a decadent nature, that just can't be beat. I'd go up to a 1/2 cup here. Stir well, and then check your seasonings. You may need a little more salt, maybe some more sage, definitely add some cranks of pepper.

9. After that, ladle into a bowl, add your crumble and enjoy!!


This was such an easy, enjoyable meal. Let me know what you think, if you try it!

3.11.2016

Breakdowns and Breakthroughs

We're about halfway through Yoga Teacher Training at this point.

I look at that sentence and hardly know where to begin to go on from there. The gift that this process has been to me so far. I thought I knew what I would be getting from this, and then we started our module on pranayama (breath work) and meditation. I was blown out of the water on the very first night.

I broke down. Tears on the mat, tears in front of my fellow yogis in training. The days and weeks leading up to that moment had been harder then I'd let myself acknowledge. There is so much wonder and beauty and freedom in this new Colorado life of ours. It feels blasphemous to even dwell on anything other then the crazy amount of blessing we've received here. But there is also a health dose of loneliness and self doubt, and pushing that down is doing me no favors.

We store emotions in our body in so many ways, and yoga, especially combined with breath work (and meditation), is a great way to break through that. Those tears, they were what I needed. They were healing, a release and a balm.


Last night was a really beautiful night at yoga teacher training; we worked on pranayama and meditation for the first time. It had been a really rough afternoon, and even before that the past weeks have been harder than I've been letting myself feel. It all came to a head last night, but thankfully the fates knew what they were doing. Our breathing exercises, our gentle practice, and our 10 minute meditation... they broke me wide open. My heart was exposed to everybody there, and they embraced me (literally and figuratively). I am so blessed to be on this journey with such beautiful people. I am so glad that I have these friends here in Colorado. I'm especially grateful to have @maram_yogagirl as one of my guides on this journey. She is a sister of my heart, and I don't know what I would do without her. In today's leaning tree pose (day 2 of the #dreambigwithtfm challenge), I'm choosing to take a bind, to continue with that openhearted feeling. While I know they will be bad days ahead, I also know that I can always find space on my mat, to breathe into my worries and lighten them so they can float away. I thank the universe every day for bringing yoga into my life. Show me what you've got @fitwithrachelmarie and @maram_yogagirl (and can't wait to check in with @laurasykora @masumi_g @twofitmoms @gaiam ) #openheart #treepose #yoga #yogaeverydamnday #vriksasana
A photo posted by Meegs (@tattooedmeegs) on


You don't replace friends that have been with you for years in the matter of months. But the lies that had been taking root in my soul, "You have no friends here. You are alone.", are just that. Lies. And that night they were shattered. On that night I was broken into a newfound wholeness.

I have beautiful friends. In Pennsylvania, and here, in Colorado. For Pennsylvania it will take a little more effort to maintain those relationships. For Colorado, it will take time to nurture and grow those relationships. All good things take effort. All good things take time. You plant seeds, and your reward for feeding them and waiting on them patiently is a bountiful harvest of sweet fruits.

It can be painful to grow, but it is also necessary and transformative. When I take the time to breakdown, then I can see how bountiful life is. When I allow myself the room to breakthrough, I realize how truly not alone I am.

I cannot wait to see where the next 2.5 months take me. 

3.07.2016

Cold Quinoa Salad {recipe}

One challenge that yoga teacher training has presented is dinner. Twice a week I'm at the yoga studio from 5:30 pm (leaving the house at 5) until 9. Before is too early to eat dinner, after is too late. They do give us a break to eat, but it really needs to be something quick, something yummy at room temp, and it needs to be healthy and filling. About a month ago I was playing around in the kitchen and came up with this cold quinoa "salad" that fits the bill. It was a hit, and now I make a big batch on the weekend for Trav and I steal bowls from all week. It always gets eaten, and its a hit for any meal of the day.


I figured I'd share in case anyone was looking for a super easy, very customizable meal, that's great for on the go.

Cold Quinoa Salad

Quinoa
Chicken or Veggie Broth
Broccoli and Cauliflower (about a head total)
Small Onion
Garlic, minced
Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper, Other favorite seasonings - to taste
Optional: Feta crumbles or cashews

1. Start by toasting up your quinoa (I normally do 1.5 - 2 cups, uncooked) in either butter or oil until it starts to get a little color and that wonderful nutty smell. Add your chicken or veggie broth (whatever amount of water the package calls for, replace that with broth). Cook according to package specifications.

2. While your quinoa cooks, roughly chopped up your broccoli and cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. (I cheated this time and bought a package of mixed florets, so I basically just had to cut them all in half or thirds.)


3. Melt some butter, coconut oil, or olive oil in a pan and add the veggies. Sprinkle with a little salt (and red pepper flakes if you want a kick!), and saute until they gorgeously browned.


4. While the broccoli/cauliflower cooks, dice a small onion, and a few cloves of garlic. When the broccoli mix finishes, poor it into a large mixing/serving bowl, and add the onion to the pan.

5. Stir your onions, and cook until almost browned. Add the garlic, and cook until tender, and golden. Add to bowl along with the cooked quinoa.

6. Add a health pour of extra virgin olive oil, enough to mix throughout all the ingredients (I use basil evoo); and any other seasoning you'd like: salt, pepper, basil, parsley, red pepper are all good ones.

7. Mix well, and pop in the fridge to chill.

8. Whenever you want a quick, delicious meal, scoop some into a bowl and add a sprinkle of feta crumbles or cashew pieces. Enjoy cold or take it with you anywhere and eat room temp.


What do you think? What would you add to your quinoa salad?

3.04.2016

Surrender and Believe

Things are still crazy here. This are still busy and tiring and exciting and... I think I've started 10 posts in my head all saying, HOMG there is too much, I can't keep track of it all, busy, busy, busy. Notes and google calendar are my best friends right now, because I really do feel like I would forget everything if it weren't written down. I remember things best when I have a regular routine, so the fact that almost every day is different lately is driving me a little crazy.

But...

I'm surrendering to the process. I'm doing my best to let go, let it all wash over me, and just enjoy all the learning, growing, and changing that happening in life at the moment. I'm trying to embrace what is the current normal, and know that in a few months, that normal will change.

The only sane one in this place!
And always there as my calm in the storm.  ❤

Trying, doing my best, accepting... its always a work in progress, right? And some days are easier then others.

Some days I get all the things done, and we find out that Gwen is getting a Respect Award in her school ceremony (PROUD MAMA), and I feel like maybe we're doing it right. Other days its a mad dash to not finish any to do list.

I truly do believe that amazing things are being cultivated in all of our lives right now, and that come Autumn we will be able to really see the rewards from all of the hard work and crazy days we are putting in at the moment. Until then surrender and believe are the names of the game.