Uncategorized

It’s Apple Season!

It’s apple season here in Maine! During my last visit to my parent’s house I picked a 5 gallon pail of apples from their heirloom Wolf River apple tree. These large apples are great for baking and I’ve been cooking up a storm-apple pie, apple muffins, and one of my favorites-apple butter. Over the years I have learned to love this fruit butter; the preparation is simple, it smells and tastes delicious and as it is rarely sold in stores these days, it makes a great gift. Looking to make a batch of your own this season? Below is my recipe for an apple butter sweetened with another Maine staple- maple syrup.

Maine Apple Butter

4 cubbed apples (10-12 regular apples or around 8 Wolf River)

2/3 cup maple syrup

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

3 tbs lemon juice

Wash apples. Cut out cores and cube apples leaving peel. Cook apples on medium-low heat stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes or until soft. Scoop softened apples into a blender and blend until smooth and the peels have disappeared. Poor mixture into pan and cook over low heat stirring frequently until the mixture has become very stiff, about 30-40 minutes or until it stands up in the bowl of a spoon without running to the edge and has a buttery consistency.  Remove from heat and add maple syrup, spices and lemon juice. Taste and adjust syrup and lemon juice as needed. Spoon into prepared jars leaving 1/2″ head space and removing as many bubbles as possible. Process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes, turn off heat and allow jars to sit for an additional 5 minutes before removing.

Apples

Uncategorized

Blackberries!

Our new home came with a surprise- blackberries! They’ve finally started to ripen, so I picked every berry I could. While I’d normally save small batches to eat fresh, add to cereal, etc., we are headed up north for a wedding. Not wanting to lose the berries, I decided to make a small batch of jam. My recipe is below can be easily modified for the amount of berries you have (use half the sugar as amount of fruit).

1 1/2 cup of berries (crushed)

3/4 cup of sugar

1 1/2 tbs lemon juice

Add ingredients to large, non-reactive pan. Blend ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil until mixture is greatly reduced and thick (about 5-10 minutes depending on the heat of your stove). Spoon into prepared jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Blackberries 1 Blackberry jam

Yoga Mat

How dirty is your mat?

You shower after class. You wash your yoga clothes. But if you’re not cleaning your yoga mat you could be exposing yourself to dangerous germs.

Bacteria from your skin and floor can colonize on your mat causing infection. Not worried yet? Your yoga mat could be harboring more bacteria than your cell phone, which you’re directly exposing vulnerable areas of your skin including your face. Using a dirty mat can expose you to a myriad of diseases including the common cold and flu, rash, athlete’s foot, coryne bacteria that causes acne, planter’s warts (caused by the herpes virus) staff infections and even MRSA.

So what’s a yogi to do? The best protection is to purchase your own mat and bring it to class with you. Sharing mats greatly increases your risk of getting an infection. However, you can still  get sick from your own germs and germs your pick up at the studio, so even if you have your own mat always clean your mat after class (see some of my mat cleaning tips here) and be sure it is completely dry before putting it away. I also recommend folding your mat in half before rolling it to keep the top as clean as possible. If you must borrow a mat, don’t rely on the student before you or the studio to have cleaned it for you. Take responsibility for your own health by cleaning the mat thoroughly before using it, preferably with an alcohol based cleaner or Lysol spray. Before you leave be courteous to the next student and give the mat a good wipe down after class. If you’re sick, consider skipping class and keep rashes, warts, etc. covered. Using products such as a personal mat towel, yoga socks, yoga mitts and keeping as much of your skin covered as possible can also reduce your exposer to unwanted infections. Finally, don’t forget the importance of good hand washing before and after class.

Keeping your mat clean is practicing saucha, or cleanliness, a key self-discipline in the yoga tradition and is just good hygiene. Don’t allow an infection from a dirty mat cause you to be uncomfortable or keep you from your practice.

Home Practice

Friday Flow

Did you miss class this week? Try this practice on your own at home, remembering to modify and take breaks as needed. Happy practicing!

Begin lying on your back
Knees to chest
Bridge flow
Ab work
Knees to chest
Cat/Cow flow
Spinal Balance flow
Child’s Pose
Downward facing dog
Sun salutations
Flight of the Bird/Hug flow
Twisting lunge
Child’s Pose
Eagle
Crow
Camel
Staff pose
Tabletop                                                                             
Boat pose
Forward fold
Seated twist
Forward fold
Knees to Chest
Dead Bug
Bridge or Bridge variation
Legs up the wall or Shoulderstand
Reclining butterfly
Final relaxation

Knitting

Unexpected Lessons Learned from Tour de Fleece Prep

This year I have the pleasure of helping to organize the Tour de Fleece team for my favorite local yarn shop, Maine Yarn & Fiber Supply! What is Tour de Fleece, you ask? It is an annual Tour de Fleece spin-along during the Tour de France. They spin, we spin. A real spinning-themed spin-along. This year the event begins Saturday July 4 and runs until Sunday July 26th, 2015.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been preparing for the event- cleaning off my spindles for new projects, polishing the empty spindles and going through my fiber deciding what I want to spin next and what new fibers I might want to buy. My excitement mounted as I planned events for the yarn shop to bring spinners together during the tour, and as I planned my own projects. One evening when I showed my husband a freshly finished skein I was particularly proud of, he complimented me and then asked a very pointent question, “Do you ever use all this yarn you make? I’ve never seen it.”  Why didn’t I use the yarn I worked so hard to make, I wondered.  Was I worried I would ruin it, that I would chose a pattern that was unworthy of the yarn, or that I’d discover that the yarn didn’t hold up after all? What was I waiting for? Well, I ran straight upstairs, grabbed a favorite skein and a needle and immediately cast on a new project- a baby hat that I thought I had enough yarn to compete. Every time I work on this hat I am reminded not to wait until everything is perfect and to let go and just do it, and ask myself what else I may be holding back on.

Baby Hat

Beauty

5 Reasons I Love Jamberry Nail Wraps

Jamberry wraps are all the rage these days. But with all the dangerous ingredients in beauty products today, you may be wondering if they are safe before jumping on the band wagon. I am happy to say that these wraps are safe, fun, and easy to apply and remove. Here are a few reasons I love them, and you may too.

1. They are non-toxic. Jamboree nail wraps and nail lacquers are 5-free, meaning they contain no toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, dibutyl phthalate or camphorso you can rest easy knowing you are not exposing your body to these chemicals and they are even safe for kids. And the wraps easily remove when reheated so there is no need for dangerous polish removers.

2. They are latex free. People with allergies to latex can safely wear these, and those who work or live with people who have latex sensitivities can rest easy knowing they are not putting their patients/clients/family/friends/etc. at risk.

3. They are gluten free. Unlike many nail polishes, Jamberry wraps are gluten free, so gluten sensitive friends you can safely enjoy these, too.

4. No chipping!  They are made out of a non-chip vinyl, so once you apply them you have beautiful nails that will last about two weeks on your fingers and six weeks on your toes and will look just as good on they day you remove them as the day you applied them, without any harmful chemicals or UV light.

5. They are made in the USA. Jamberry products are 100% made in the USA so you can feel good knowing you are supporting American business.

Practice Tips

What’s in my bag?

Lately celebrity yogis have been sharing online and in magazines what’s in their yoga bags. Here is what’s currently in mine, and a few ideas for what to keep in your own.

1. Tingsha bells

I love using tingsha bells to signal the end of final relaxation (SAVASANA), to focus the mind, and to balance the energy in the room.

2. Jo-Sha Yoga Mat Wipes

These essential oil wipes smell great, have no oil or harsh chemicals, and are perfect to freshen up or give your mat a wipe down at the end of class. They come in both dispenser and individually wrapped forms. I like to offer the lavender wipes to my students after class to keep their mat clean as well as benefit from the calming and relaxing scent.

 3. Toe Sox

I always keep a pair of these in my bag, and love that they keep my feet clean and safe from contact with germy studio floors and give me extra grip on the mat, especially while teaching when my focus on my students.

4. Alba un-petroleum

I absolutely love how this lip balm feels and tastes. The cherry flavor is my favorite! I also love the SPF protection this lip balm provides.

5. Kind bar

I like to pack a snack in case I need some extra energy before or after class. These bars are delicious and do the trick! Right now I am loving the Cashew Ginger flavor.

6. Journal

Great for writing down a quote I want to share with my class or post-meditation thoughts , I always keep a journal handy for when I’m needing a little inspiration or when inspiration hits.

7. Water Bottle

I am a big believer in hydration and always carry a reusable BPA free water bottle. Lately I’ve been using my Mauna Kea Nalgene bottle that my husband and I picked up on our honeymoon on the Big Island. It’s huge (32 oz) and brings back great memories whenever I take a sip.

8. iPhone

While I forego other types of technology during class, I like to have my iPhone handy to plug in and play music, check my calendar, leave myself a reminder or to look something up quickly.

Depending on my day and what I am doing before or after class, I may throw in some other essentials like my wallet, deodorant, some essential oils or a change of clothes.

So what should you pack in your bag? Really it depends on the type of class you’re going to and your personal needs. I recommend students stay hydrated so a water bottle is a must. If you’re going to a hot yoga class you may want to bring your own yoga towel. In the winter, you may want to bring a pair of warm cozy socks. If you are going somewhere right after class you may need a change of clothes, deodorant, a hair brush, etc. And of course, we cannot forget the yoga mat! I’m really big on hygiene and always suggest students bring their own mat if possible. Try experimenting with what you carry with you and you’ll quickly find what you use most often and what is worth taking up space in your bag.