As promised last week, I wanted to share with you my quick go-to recipe for an all-purpose disinfectant spray. I use this spray on everything: my yoga mats; bathroom mirrors; wiping sticky hand prints and dust from surfaces; door handles; kitchen counters, and so on. I will confess sheepishly that the pleasant, clean scent of the spray alone makes me want to pick it up and clean everything around me. All you need is a few minutes and a few basic, clean ingredients to create this magical product.
DHARMA WANDERLUST YOGA MAT CLEANER AND ALL-PURPOSE DISINFECTANT SPRAY
Small spray bottle
Pure white vinegar
A few drops of essential oil (I recommend tea tree oil for its disinfecting properties, but I also enjoy calming lavender; eucalyptus or fir needle have a clean, fresh scent)
Fill about 2/3 of the bottle with water.
Fill the remainder of the bottle with vinegar.
Add a few drops of essential oil. I like to add about 3 drops of tea tree oil and then one or two drops of lavender and/or other oils. I don’t recommend mixing more than two oils at a time.
Screw on the lid, shake well, spray your mat or any other surface in your home, and enjoy a chemical-free cleaning experience!
Do you have a favourite DIY cleaning recipe? Please share it in the comments below.
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“On a more personal level, I think we need to move beyond the emotionally illiterate world of online “like” buttons. If you see, via Facebook or other platforms, that a friend has done something interesting or has gone through something tough, like a family death, don’t just “like” their post or write a one-line comment. Phone them or Skype them and have a real human interaction.”
“In the podcast, Cain explains that introverts can be extremely, genuinely social—even for long periods of time—and enjoy being so. But for true introverts, putting on this extroverted front over a period of days or weeks isexhausting.
This phenomenon has a name: it’s called “emotional labor,” and it’s what you experience any time you project (or, to put it not-so-nicely, fake) an emotion or attitude that doesn’t come easily.”
I have been a big fan of Enya’s music since I first heard The Celts in the early 90s. Enya’s music continues to accompany me through joyful times and difficult situations. Most recently, while saying goodbye to our cat Meeshu, the veterinary clinic played The Celts album in the room where Meeshu and I shared a few final moments together. I am delighted with the new album and glad to find the music consistent with Enya’s previous material.
I promised to teach you to knit. So, allow me to begin by sharing our first instructional knitting video in a series of three. In this week’s video, I provide you with a quick tip for choosing the perfect yarn for your first project, show you my favourite cast-on method and teach you the basic knit stitch using the Continental method of knitting. If you have any questions, please do leave a comment below.
In the second video, to be released on Oct. 17th, I will show you the purl stitch, the lovely sister of the knit stitch. In the first video of the series, to be released on Oct. 24th, I will show you a few variations with the knit and purl stitches, to allow you to play and practice, and teach you how to cast off your first project. To be the first to receive an update in your email inbox as soon as the video is released, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Over the past weekend, unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to spend much time on my knitting projects. That was the case for a couple of reasons: (1) Thanksgiving dinner and (2) preparing for an upcoming craft show.
We hosted Thanksgiving this year. Usually, Pawel’s parents host the dinner at their home, but I decided to take on the pleasure this year. I realized this weekend that it was a good decision, as our younger child was feeling under the weather and we wanted to stay close to home, instead of having to drive for 45 minutes there and back.
In any case, our family in Canada is small, and since my parents had a prior commitment and my sister celebrated Thanksgiving with her partner’s family, it was just the four of us, Pawel’s parents, and Pawel’s sister.
We had a lovely dinner for seven people, if I do say so myself. 😉 Here are the photos of the dishes I prepared:
Butternut squash, pumpkin and cranberry soup. The cranberries were an intuitive last-minute addition to the soup and I must say, the tart fresh cranberries mingled well with the sweet taste of the pumpkin and squash.
Field greens salad with apples and fennel, with a dressing that I whipped up intuitively. The secret ingredient was raw honey.
Roasted harvest vegetables.
Roasted brussel sprouts. These are a favourite of mine and I could eat them as a snack anyday! If you have never tried roasting brussel sprouts, simply toss washed and halved brussel sprouts (with the core trimmed and the outer leaves removed) with EVOO or coconut oil and sea salt. Spread them evenly on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 400F, turning them once after the first 15 minutes. If you are a fan of kale chips, you will probably like this dish.
Slow-cooked lamb roast with cranberry sauce on the side. My mother-in-law always prepares turkey for Thanksgiving, and although we love it, I wasn’t in the mood for turkey this year. Lamb is a big favourite of ours and the cranberry sauce paired beautifully with it.
And of course, apple and cranberry pie for dessert. Although I love pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, and make great pumpkin spice muffins, I have never enjoyed pumpkin pie. It’s just not my favourite. Instead, we go for apples and cranberries in this delicate flaky pastry.
You may be wondering about whether I followed my usual Ayurvedic eating and food combination rules with this meal. The answer is no, because I do believe that it’s okay to venture off our usual path every once in a while. Instead, I focused on cooking and baking with love and chose the best ingredients while allowing my intuition to guide me to play with a few flavour combinations. The result was a good one for our taste buds and for our bellies.
And now, we’re back to preparing for the Made by Hand Show, to be held next weekend in Mississauga. We will showcase several items that have never been featured on our website.
Call me strange, but I have always enjoyed doing push-ups. Even in elementary school’s gym class, I was the girl who would lift her knees up off the floor to attempt the full push-up variation. No, it didn’t look pretty or impressive in any way, but I suppose I was a bit Type-A with my fitness goals.
When I was first introduced to Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga in 1998, Sun Salutations intrigued me with their smooth flow. I relished the fast-paced but graceful movements that released tension from my body. Yet, Chaturanga Dandasana (four-limbed staff pose) was a confusing transition pose for me. I remember thinking, “Aha! Lowering down into a low push-up position from high plank is so much easier than having to press back up!” Of course, a few years later, I realized that the reason it felt easy to me was because I was cheating! I didn’t lower into the pose with control. My hips drooped low, my belly sagged, and my elbows splayed out to the sides as I tried to get Chaturanga and Upward-Facing Dog over with in order to make it to the place where I really wanted to be: Downward-Facing Dog, taking a delicious break for a few breaths. The power of confession!
Chaturanga Dandasana is a pose that is often approached as a quick transition pose in the Sun Salutations portion of a Vinyasa / Ashtanga practice. However, it’s important to maintain focus, integrity, and strength in this pose as it can be incredibly informative for the physical and emotional aspects of our yoga practice.
I prepared this step-by-step guide to help you find this focus, integrity and strength in your own practice. I recommend working on these steps with a qualified yoga instructor and using my tips only as a supplement for your personal home practice.
1. To prepare for Chaturanga, come to rest on your hands and knees, positioning a block on the mat at the medium height directly underneath your chest. Align the elbows and shoulders directly over the wrists and the hips directly over the knees. Inhale and allow the belly to soften. On the exhale, lift the pelvic floor and the belly. Keep this core connection as you inhale and allow your elbows to open out to the sides, keeping your hands firmly planted on the mat, pressing down through the thumb and index finger parts of the hands. Exhale, and hug the triceps in toward the midline. Now, your arms and core are firmly engaged. Stay here for up to five full breaths.
Take rest in child’s pose for five or more breaths. Then, if you feel ready for the next step, proceed as follows.
2. Continue to keep the engagement of the upper body and core as you inhale and stretch one leg back, pressing the ball of the foot firmly into the mat. Exhale and repeat the same motion with the other leg, planting the balls of both feet into the mat. Continue to breathe deeply as you keep the arms strong, the triceps hugging in, keeping the elbows soft, reaching the heart forward toward the top of your mat and keeping your gaze forward without straining your neck. Keep your core strong by continue to lift the pelvic floor and belly upward. Spin the inner thighs up toward the ceiling to broaden through the lower back while pressing the heels toward an imaginary wall behind you. Broaden through the scapula. Continue to breathe deeply and hold plank pose for up to five full breaths.
Lower the knees down to the mat and rest in child’s pose for five or more breaths. If you feel strong after holding plank, continue to step 3.
3. Repeat the steps outlined above to make your way back into plank pose. Ensure that the block is at the medium height on the mat directly underneath your chest. Inhale and lower your knees down to the mat. Exhale and continue to hug the triceps in toward the midline as you bend the elbows toward a 90-degree angle, coming to rest your chest on the block. Inhale to press back up to your hands and knees and take rest in child’s pose for five or more breaths. If this Chaturanga prep felt good and you continue to feel strong, repeat it again, this time hovering the chest an inch or two above the block. To challenge yourself further, practise staying in this pose for an extra breath or two.
Continue to practise Chaturanga with your knees down on the mat until you feel strong enough to proceed. Remember that you might even need to stay with this variation for a few months before you feel ready to move on to practice the same move with straight legs. Be honest with yourself and never rush into anything that does not feel right.
4. To try the straight-leg variation with the block underneath the chest, repeat step 2. Inhale to prepare. On the exhale, with the legs strong and inner thighs firmly pressing up toward the ceiling, start to bend your elbows toward a 90-degree angle, with the arms hugging in toward the midline. Continue to lift up through the core as you work to gently lengthen the tailbone toward your feet. Hover the chest above the block and if it feels good, hold the pose for an extra breath or two. To come out, either press up to high plank, with the entire body engaged (see step 2), or simply press back to the hands and knees. Rest in child’s pose for five or more breaths.
Repeat this until you start to feel stronger. Again, you may need to continue practising with a block for a while. Honour your body and the work will pay off.
5. To move into the full version of Chaturanga, start in high plank. On an inhale, bring the heart forward, keeping the shoulders and elbows over the wrists. With a strong core and legs to support you in the pose, leading with the heart and gazing toward the front of the mat, start to hug in the elbows toward the midline of the body as you exhale and bend the elbows toward a 90-degree angle. Hover here as you inhale, imagining the block positioned under your chest. Do not allow your shoulders to lower past the elbows!!! On an exhale, still keeping the core and legs in the same position, straighten the arms to return to high plank. Bring the knees down and press back to Child’s Pose to rest for five or more breaths. To challenge yourself further, hover in Chaturanga for an extra breath or two before pressing back up to high plank.
Here is a video of a slower transition from plank to Chaturanga, and back up to high plank.
Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, keep practising and always honour your amazing body!
Smoothies have become my comfort food. They soothe my hunger pangs and the shaky nerves that can come with the big BACK TO SCHOOL day.
My older boy, D, started his first day of senior kindergarten today. We both stood in front of the school, he behind the gate and I in front of it with my younger boy, A. Both D and I struggled to put on a brave face and smile through the anxiety. I’m confident that once he walked into the building, the anxiety did start to thaw as he was reunited with his friends.
As for me, my distraction came from A, who happily skipped along on our way home to play and prepare dinner… And yes, prepare smoothies! Oh, how glad I am that my children love smoothies! Healthy nutrition is one of my top priorities as a parent, and working with kids’ particular palates, it’s not always simple to get that healthy and nutritious food into their bellies without a power struggle of some kind. Enter smoothies.
Ayurveda is my healthy living guide, and it dictates that fruit should always be consumed separately. However, I love to use fruit as a natural sweetener in smoothies. In addition, I never, ever combine fruit with dairy (I rarely consume dairy, in fact) and any other animal protein. I feel it’s important to state these guidelines before venturing into today’s recipe. As a woman with a primary Vata dosha, too much fruit and improper food combinations can quickly give me an upset stomach. I try to adhere to these Ayurvedic guidelines with the food combinations in meals I prepare for myself and my family. Another extremely important tip is to use room-temperature ingredients. Ice-cold drinks can weaken agni, the digestive fire, interfering with healthy digestion.
Without further ado, here is what I used in my belly-friendly green smoothie today:
– about a cup of vanilla-flavoured unsweetened almond milk
– one ripe chopped banana
– one large ripe mango
– a bowl full of baby spinach
– a small bit of grated ginger (I freeze the ginger root to make it easier to grate), to taste
Simply add all the ingredients into the blender in the order listed above, and blend to a smooth consistency.
The result is delicious and kid-approved.
Feel free to follow the above guidelines to custom-craft your own smoothie. For the liquid, in lieu of the almond milk, other good choices are organic soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk, or even distilled water. I recommend using a ripe avocado, pear, or banana, in addition to another ripe fruit of your choice. As for the greens, baby spinach or kale are the traditional options with which most people are familiar. However, collard greens or even beet greens are also excellent. If you are not accustomed to the taste of greens in your smoothie, feel free to start with smaller handfuls of greens and gradually train your taste buds to (hopefully) enjoy them. The fruit is not enough to tempt your sweet tooth? Feel free to sweeten the smoothie with a few pitted dates or maple syrup until your taste buds become accustomed to the sweetness of the ripe fresh fruit.
In the mood for CHOCOLATE? We have the perfect chocolate banana protein smoothie for you, and we even have a vlog to guide you along!
All you need are a few simple ingredients:
– almond milk (or your choice of milk)
– a ripe banana (we couldn’t get our hands on a ripe enough banana for the above video, so we apologize for any confusion)
– approx. 3/4 cup frozen berries (your choice)
– tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
– tbsp unsweetened nut butter
– a dash of cinnamon
– a few dates or a bit of maple syrup (completely optional)
Watch the video for additional information! Blend and enjoy!
Are you a parent whose children are heading back to school today? Feel free to share your tips on dealing with nerves/anxiety, as well as about healthy nutrition throughout the school year. Curious about other healthy living tips and recipes? Leave a comment and let us know what you would like to see next on this blog!
At 6:35 in the morning, the house is quiet. Well, at least, I would expect it to be quiet at that time. This is my ‘me’ time. I wake up at 5 o’clock on most mornings and proceed with my daily ritual. While oil pulling with coconut oil for 15 minutes, I feed our two ever-starving cats — seriously, those two cats have the biggest appetite — and get dressed. I brush my teeth and drink a tall glass of warm water with lemon juice. Then, it’s time for cardio, weights, pilates, or yoga, or a combination of the above. After an hour, I sit down to meditate.
My body and mind are fully awake, and I’m ready to sit quietly for some time before my day begins. I set my meditation timer app to 15 minutes, and assume my typical mudra of crossing the middle fingers on both my right and left hands over the index fingers. Oh, wait… I sense some hesitation on your, the reader’s part. You’re telling me you’re not familiar with that mudra? Why, that’s the universal ‘Keeping my fingers crossed’ sign, isn’t it? Moving on with my story… Don’t look so puzzled, please. I promise to answer your question shortly.
You see, dear reader, my meditation practice is different every day. Some days, my mind slips into a calm state with ease and satin-smooth elegance. On other days, my brain decides to talk to me. I ignore it, gently brushing it off with a polite smile — no, it’s actually a smirk that hints to my brain, politely, to ‘shut it.’ What does it say when it speaks to me? Let’s see, let’s see…
“Maybe I should have started this meditation first thing after waking up?”
Then I pinch myself and think,
“No way! I’m not awake enough at that point to commit to a meditation practice.”
And then a typical soliloquy begins:
“The kids will be up soon. I need to ensure I have enough time to cook steel-cut oats for our breakfast. And I still have to pack lunches. I should probably prepare the slow cooker for tonight’s dinner, as I will not have time to cook later this afternoon.” And so on…
Thankfully, I do have more calm meditation practices than those soliloquy-ridden ones. And I keep coming back to my cushion.
So, at 6:35 on this particular morning, as I sit on my cushion in my quiet practice room that also doubles in purpose as a ‘TV room’ (the only one in the house with a TV set in it), I am suddenly asked by my younger son to come out of my meditation. I hear his little bare footsteps as he’s walking down the stairs. I can picture him hugging his well-loved bunny with his right arm, sucking the thumb on his left hand. He stops behind me and says, “Can I watch TV… A little bit?” And so ends my ‘me’ time and begins the typical busy morning of a mom. As for the meditation timer? I look down at my iPod and see that I still have eight minutes to go until the lovely bells ring thrice to bring me out of that blissful meditative state. Obviously, that timer has got nothing on my child. Do I wish that the timer app would win from time to time? Heck yes! Hence my crossed fingers mudra! 😉
What’s the moral of this story? We’re busy. There, I said it, and I will not repeat it again because I don’t believe in giving that banal discussion any more time than it deserves. Many people try to start a meditation practice. Many more practice yoga, the kind of yoga that makes us move our bodies to still our minds. But as for traditional seated meditation? How many of us actually make that commitment?
I decided, recently, to treat my seated meditation practice with the respect it deserves. Some days, I will find five minutes to sit, and on other days when I feel like I’ve won the lottery, I hear those sweet little bells after 15 minutes and sigh happily. In any case, the important factor is that I made the time to sit on my cushion and dedicated time to this ever-evolving practice. It keeps me curious.
Here’s my offering to you: a free five-minute guided meditation practice.
The entire video is longer than five minutes, simply because I provide a few guidelines for those who have always been curious about meditation but haven’t had a chance to try it before. I hope the introduction will help to ease any tension you may feel about trying to meditate for the first time.