Morning Rituals

Meditating Milo

How you start your morning can determine the rest of your day. We all have good days and bad ones, but I’ve found if I try to begin the day with a positive outlook and take a little time for some self-care I tend to be in a better mood than I am on days when I’m rushed and flustered in the AM.

Here are a few things I try to fit into my morning before I head out the door.

1. Sun Salutations: I used to be envious of people I knew that either didn’t work a full-time job or had a large disposable income because they seemed to have the luxury of multiple daily trips to a fancy yoga study. While sixty minutes of daily yoga at my favorite studios isn’t something I can always fit into my schedule or budget I can start off the morning with five or ten minutes of sun salutations.

If you’ve taken a Vinyasa yoga class you’ve probably done this repetitive sequence of positions which are known as sun salutations. I have taken to keeping my yoga mat laid out next to my bed so I can hop out of bed, throw on some gym clothes, and face the window for some morning flow. There are different sun salutation routines out there and sometimes I do follow a video to switch it up. But if I don’t want to spend too much time thinking about what I’m going to do for a sequence my standby is: Mountain Pose, Arms to the Sky, Forward Fold, Lunge, Plank, Downward Facing Dog, Cobra, Upward Facing Dog,  Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Cobra, Opposite Lunge, Foward Fold, Arms to the Sky, Moutain Pose with hands in prayer position to heart.

2. Hot Water: Before coffee and breakfast I have a cup of hot water with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to aid digestion and open up the esophagus. I don’t mind the taste, but if you want to try this and find it too tart you can add a little sweetener to your cup.

3. Bunny Love: I feed Milo and clean his space before going to work, but I also spend a little time giving him some pets and if he’s in the mood playing with him. If you have a pet I recommend having time to show them a little love before you head out.

4. Morning Pages: This comes from the book The Artist’s Way. The idea is to write three pages of anything and just put it aside. This way you’re not stressing about the words on the page being perfect but it’s a way to open up your creativity.

5. Quick Check In: I do a quick email check after I’ve gone through my other rituals. This way I can respond to anything that needs immediate attention and I can have a good sense of anything I need to be prepared for when I arrive at the office.

What are some of your favorite morning rituals?

Mindful Monday: Rituals

Cherry Tree

This week I’m focusing on rituals. The word ritual is a bit loaded since it holds a number of connotations and my association with the word has changed over time. Growing up I associated the term ritual as something you did in an organized religion during a high holiday or weekly ceremony. Over the years I’ve come to feel that a ritual is something that you can practice in the privacy of your own home and doesn’t always have to have a spiritual connection to it.

For me, ritual is a replacement for the word routine. I have a dislike of too much routine because it makes me feel like I’m in a rut. However building daily and weekly rituals has been a good practice in finding balance. Yes there are some days and weeks when I’m rushed and I don’t fit everything I want to in my day and I try not to stress out about that, but if I go too long without a routine I’ve come to find value in, its absence is felt.

I’ll be exploring specific rituals that I’ve adopted through the course of this week. Do you have any rituals that you’ve taken on?

365 Project: Recipes 136-150

Here is the latest batch of 15 recipes. This round is juice and protein shake heavy.

136. Zoodles with Sundried Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Source: Original

Notes: I hate when I see recipes that say 20 minutes and it never is really ready that fast. Will this was seriously about a 10 minute from prep to table dinner. I put a zucchini through my Veggetti and then sauteed the noodles for five minutes in 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. I threw in some basil, sundried tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella.

Rating: Liked

137. Algae Berry Smoothie

Source: Original

Notes: This was half a cup of mixed berries, natural flavored protein powder, 1 kale leaf, 1/2 tsp of spirulina, and almond milk.

Rating: Liked

138. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Source: She Likes Food

Notes: This is probably the best vegetarian version of a taco I’ve ever had.

Rating: LOVED

139. Kapha Detox Juice

Source: Recapo

Notes: As you can probably guess from my recipes I am trying to slowly adopt an ayurvedic lifestyle. There are three doshas and we all have elements of each dosha. Most of us have one or two doshas that are more dominate. I am Kapha-Vata because my body has predominately Kapha traits and my mind is very Vata.

Rating: Liked

140. Chocolate Greens Protein Shake

Source: Original

Notes: This shake was a combo of chocolate vegan protein powder, kale, romaine, parsley, spirulina, half a banana, and water. As I’ve mentioned before I don’t mind drinking straight up green juice but if you want to switch the taste up the chocolate powder and banana make this a treat without being overly sweet.

Rating: LOVED

141. General Tso’s Tofu

Source: Minimalist Baker

Notes: I did some ingredient swaps with this one.  I used stevia instead of maple syrup and I don’t use corn starch anymore. I use potato starch as a substitute.

Rating: Liked

142. Greens 3

Source: Juice

Notes:  Pressed Juicery is one of my favorite places to get juice if I’m on the go. I just got their cookbook and am obsessed. If you are thinking about juicing this is a great book to start with because the ingredients aren’t anything that’s hard to come by.

Rating: Liked

143. Almond Buttercup Smootie

Source: Juice

Notes: I added vegan protein powder so this was a meal vs a snack.

Rating: LOVED

144. Roots 3

Source: Juice

Notes: This was a beet based juice.

Rating: Liked

145. Carrot Bread

Source: Juice

Notes: This was good but a little dry as I find many gluten free baking recipes.

Rating: Liked

146. Almond Chia Smoothie

Source: Juice

Notes: The avocado makes this so creamy that you don’t need milk or a milk substitute, I just used water.

Rating: Liked

147. Lime in Coconut

Source: Juice

Notes: So refreshing and perfect for summer.

Rating: Liked

148. Cauliflower Rice Tabbouleh

Source: Juice

Notes: I used raisins instead of pomegranate seeds.

Rating: Liked

149. Lentil Dal

Source: Juice

Notes: I cooked this five minutes longer than the recipe called for and I still should have kept the lentils on the stove longer. The weren’t quite soft enough. Split lentils should get mushy if they are cooked through.

Rating: Okay

150. Peaches and Cinnamon

Source:  Juice

Notes: This is another one I added protein powder to and had for breakfast.

Rating: Liked

Wanderlust Wednesday: Aura Photography


So you can do just about anything in NYC. One thing that several of my friends already have done has had their aura photographed. I was curious so I asked another friend if she was interested in going to try it. We went to a store in Manhattan’s Chinatown called Magic Jewelry to try it.

You place your hands on sensors while you get your photograph taken. It’s like getting a Polaroid except splotches of color appear on across your photo. In groups of six, the reader will lay out the photos and go through what they mean. She explained that aura colors relate to chakra colors which I am a bit familiar with.

In my photo, there is mostly blue and purple which has to do with the throat and third eye chakras. She said that since my face is blue I have a job where I have to communicate with lots of different people and that the purple and pink hues around me meant that I was an intuitive person who cares about people. She guesses that I did some sort of work where I was serving or helping people but not in a physical way. Which she explained as “you’re not a doctor or anything medical but you do something to help people with businesses.” That is what I do.

The reader said if a color shows up on the left which is the left side of the photo so the color would appear by your right shoulder it signifies something in the past. If something shows up on the right side of the photo by your left shoulder it is something that will happen in the future. I had a bit of green on the past side of my photo. She said I went through a change about six months ago that I have mixed feelings about. Which assuming I believe in aura photography I would take that to mean the removal of my lap band which is something I’m still processing and in my mind, I haven’t decided if the pros or the cons win on this one.

She also said that the lack of color at the top of the photo means that I’m struggling with what it is I want to do next. She explained, “You have a lot of interests and thoughts. The best thing you could do is write out everything you think you want and prioritize what it is that you really want.” She then asked if I had trouble sleeping and that if when I do fall asleep if I had crazy vivid dreams. Those are both true. She said it’s because I think too much and I need to learn how to just make up my mind and let everything else I don’t need to focus on, go.

I’m not a subscriber to any one particular ideology and I really am only a denier if I perceive something to be hateful or harmful, this wasn’t at all. Honestly, is making a list and spending some time thinking about what kind of future I’d like to build a bad idea? Is that a bad idea for anyone? Okay, I’m game to try it.

If you’re curious about the specifics of what aura photography is this New York Times article gives a great and objective overview.

365 Project: Recipes 121-135


Hope you are having an amazing summer. Here’s the latest batch of fifteen recipes I’ve tried.

121. White Asparagus Soup


Source: Bitter Sweet Blog 

Notes: I didn’t serve this chilled. I made this ahead of time and reheated on the stove top for a dinner party. It was a nice change from traditional gazpacho to start of a summer meal.

Rating: Liked

122. Nordstroms Cilantro Lime Shrimp Salad


Source: San Antonio Magazine 

Notes: I have some odd food interests including regional snacks and sodas, famous restaurants, and department store eateries. I have some cookbooks from existing and defunct department stores. For this recipe, I used Trader Joe Veggie and Flax Seed Chips.

Rating: LOVED

123. Sweet Potato Brownies


Source:  Healthy Spirit Body 

Notes: I love this recipe but I wish there were more instructions about pan sizes and measurements in some cases. I used an 8X8 square pan but honestly, I could have used a smaller mini pan.

Rating: Liked

124. Madelines


Source: Lavender and Lemonade 

Notes: I made this gluten free by using rice flour in place of all-purpose flour.

Rating: Liked

125. Strawberry Poppyseed Madelines


Source: Adore Foods

Notes: I also added 1/2 a tsp of poppy seeds to this recipe.

Rating: Liked

126. Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce


Source: Savory Nothings 

Notes: I used ground meatless instead of sausage.

Rating: Liked

127. Strawberry Chia Seed Pudding


Source: Babble

Notes: I loved the last chia pudding I made but this one not so much. I think the difference is the nondairy milk. This time I used flaxseed milk. Last time I used canned coconut milk which makes the pudding more solid in texture which I prefer. I also felt this was too sweet for my taste.

Rating: Pass

128. Chai Tea Latte Pops


Source: Jessica Gavin 

Notes: Like the recipe above I think I would like this better if I used coconut milk from a can. It’s a much thicker consistency. This tasted more like flavored ice than something creamy.

Rating: Okay

129. Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad


Source: Mel’s Kitchen 

Notes: I used baby kale instead of basil.

Rating: LOVED

130. Parpadelle with Butter Sauce


Source: Huge in Japan 

Notes: I added fresh spinach to the sauce which sauteed while cooking.

Rating: Liked

131. Lavender Lemon Green Iced Tea


Source: Original

Notes: I steeped five bags of green tea in a pitcher with juice from 1/2 a large lemon, 1 tsp of lavender, and ice. I let it chill in the refrigerator till it was cold.

Rating: Liked

132. Dutch Oven Popcorn


Source: Food 52

Notes: I added parmesan and ground peppercorns as a topping.

Rating: Liked

133. Frozen Banana Nut Butter Bites


Source: Not Enough Cinnamon 

Notes: I used a nut butter blend and dark chocolate.

Rating: Liked

134. Summer Fruit Protein Smoothie


Source: Original

Notes: I used almond milk, 1/2 a peach, 1/2 a nectarine, and strawberry protein powder. I don’t like fruit flavored powder (I had this in a variety pack and didn’t want to waste it). Artificial fruit flavor tastes like children’s chewable medicine to me. I would try this again with natural or vanilla powder and fresh strawberries.

Rating: Okay

135. Slow Cooker Sole


Source: Original

Notes: I’ve made fish in the slow cooker before. I would have given this a higher rating but I felt I had over cooked it. I put fresh spinach on greased foil sheets and placed a sole filet on each spinach pile and seasoned with lemon, dill, salt, and pepper before wrapping the foil packs and placing in the slow cooker for 2 hours on high. That time has worked out well for me in the past but I should have put it in for an hour checked and then cooked in 30-minute increments until it was done. Live and learn!

Rating: Okay


365 Project: Recipes 106-120


Here’s the latest batch of recipes.

106. Tofu and Zoodle Stir-Fry


Source: Original

Notes: I sauteed tofu in a pan with garlic and coconut oil. In another pan, I sauteed zucchini noodles and added sugar snap peas and snow peas till they were tender.

Rating: Liked

107. Red Beans and “Rice”


Source: Original

Notes: I sauteed riced cauliflower with kale, the juice from one lime, and cilantro. I served with cooked red beans.

Rating: Liked

108. Pan Seared Tuna


Source: The Enchanted Cook 

Notes: I used yellowfin instead of ahi tuna and it worked well.

Rating: Liked

109. Avocado Sauce


Source: Original

Notes: I mixed half an avocado with 1 tablespoon of spicy dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon of vegan mayo.

Rating: LOVED

110. Chocolate


Source: 21 Day Goddess Workout 

Notes: I didn’t love how this tasted. Honestly, there are some great low sugar dark chocolate bars that most grocery stores carry so that’s where I’ll get my chocolate fix.

Rating: Pass

111. Slow Cooker Millet


Source: 8 Week Whole Body Makeover 

Notes: This is an easy breakfast that will stick to your ribs and keep you full all morning. This is from another Daily Om course that I decided to take after I completed the 21 Day Goddess Workout.

Rating: LOVED

112. Tempeh and Veggie Stir Fry


Source: 21 Day Goddess Workout 

Notes: I did cauliflower rice with this. If you wanted to use meat or seafood you could easily substitute chicken or shrimp for the tempeh.

Rating: LOVED

113. Lemon Beauty Smoothie


Source: Eat Pretty 

Notes: I am becoming used to green juices that I don’t really mind the taste or lack of sweetness. The lemon in this recipe is great though if you’re still trying to get over the hurdle of these types of juices being as sweet as a fruit smoothie.

Rating: Liked

114. Pumpkin Pie in a Jar


Source: 8 Week Whole Body Makeover

Notes: I love the breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes in these Daily Om classes but the desserts honestly aren’t that satisfying. I’d rather eat a piece of fruit (which you can do) if I want something sweet after dinner.

Rating: Okay

115. Slow Cooker Vegan Enchellata Bowels


Source: 8 Week Whole Body Makeover

Notes: This took about five minutes to throw everything in the slow cooker and made about four meals for me throughout the week. An easy one to add to my work lunch rotation.

Rating: Liked

116. Cinnamon Macha Chia Pudding


Source: 8 Week Whole Body Makeover

Notes: Using the Vitamix this was another one that took five minutes. I set it in the fridge overnight and it was four ready made breakfasts for me. There are different recipes for variations on this that I plan to try in the future.

Rating: Liked

117. Hazelnut Pecan Butter


Source: Love & Lemons

Notes: You can buy this nut spread premade. Honestly, the cost of making it at home is about the same because bulk hazelnuts and pecans aren’t cheap. You are saving yourself from added sugar and something that is overly processed though.

Rating: Liked

118. Strawberry Chia Jam


Source: Love & Lemons

Notes: This was easy to make and again you don’t have any added sugar. The only downside is this jar will only last you a week. As someone who lives alone, I can’t get through a jar of jam that fast but I’ll make this again as a gift or when I have people staying with me for a weekend.

Rating: Liked

119. Sweet Potato Fries


Source: Center Cut Cook 

Notes: These were baked and not fried. This was easy and the best homemade fries I’ve ever made.

Rating: LOVED

120. Sweet Siracha Mayo


Source: Original

Notes: I used vegan mayo. This was a great dip for the fries because I don’t really like ketchup.  I blended 1 teaspoon of golden lakanto (you could sub honey, maple syrup, sugar, or stevia if you like), 2 teaspoons of sriracha, 7 teaspoons of vegan mayo (you could also use regular mayo or miracle whip).

Rating: Liked





Favorite Cruelty Free Beauty Products


A couple of years ago I started paying more attention the products I was bringing into my home. I was surprised that many of my favorite brands of beauty products still tested on animals. That didn’t sit well with me so I began replacing cosmetics, cleaning items, and household items with brands that don’t test on animals. I wanted to share some of my favorite cruelty-free beauty products since I’ve been focusing on ways to be a little kinder.

Besame Lipstick: I love this company because the lipsticks are modeled after colors that were popular in decades past. My personal favorite is Cherry Red from the 1930s. It adds a vintage feel your look.

The Body Shop Moisturizer: I’ve been a fan of this company for years. Their skin care products are fantastic.

ELF Mascara: I’ve tried a few different mascaras and honestly if you don’t want to drop a ton of money these will give you the same results as other brands that will cost you two or three times as much.

Kiss My Face Deodorant: I switched to deodorant that doesn’t have aluminum in it because there are some health concerns around it. When your deodorant has fewer chemicals you will need to apply it more often which is a small price to pay. I do find that if I’m not working out or if it isn’t I really hot day this brand will really last the whole day.

Lush Bath Bombs: These make great gifts but you’ll probably want to keep them for yourself.

NYX Finishing Powder: I use finishing powder to keep my makeup lasting longer. If you apply after your done getting ready in the morning you won’t have to reapply as much throughout the day.

OGX Shampoos and Conditioners: By far my favorite brand of shampoos and conditioners and they have tons of great fragrances if you want to switch it up. Some of my favorites are Cherry Blossom, Coconut Water, and Macadamia Oil.

Queen Helene Face Scrub: These scrubs and face masks are great and affordable. I like the apricot scrub and the mint julep mask best.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation: I really just need a light foundation and this is perfect coverage and the fair shade matches my complexion.

Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste: Minty fresh and cruelty-free!