Thursday, November 20, 2014

Charitable Baking.

You know how I said I'm happier in the mornings? Well, the last few days on my drive to work I've being singing in the car. 


So out of character! But I secretly kind of love it.

Now to completely segue away from my early morning chipperness, it's time for me to admit...I am awful about taking pictures. Especially when I'm baking.

This is only important because last night I thought it would be a great idea to blog about what I was baking...and I all but forgot to take pictures.

It's probably because I'm a "marathon" baker and I know I have a lot to do without a ton of time to do it in, so stopping to take pictures never crosses my mind. I need to get better about it.

For example, last night I made some cookies for a bake sale at work today (to benefit the Children's Adovcacy Center) and I definitely meant to take pictures during the process and completely forgot. So here's what I have (and it's not much, please pardon the terrible lighting):

This was the dough for what I'm calling my "painted" Pumpkin Spice cookies. I wanted it to be fall colors, and so I dyed one quarter of the dough each of the following: maroon/red, orange, brown, and green. Then I separated each quarter into eighths before smushing them together to refrigerate. 
And ta-da! This is how the "painted" cookies turned out. They're sugar cookies with some pumpkin pie spice added, topped with sanding sugar before baking. Nothing crazy, but they tasted great!
Another picture of the painted cookies. I think the fall-color theme I was going for turned out pretty nice!

Another terrible picture, taken at my desk (just now). I made gingersnaps too!
Now I WISH I had a better picture than that, but these gingersnaps are delicious. Everything about them is wonderful. The dough is delicious (yes, I eat raw cookie dough and I don't care what you think!) the cookies are good straight out of the oven, or the next day when they truly live up to the name gingerSNAP.

I was smart enough to scan the recipe last night before I went to bed, and I have it for you now! Just one note - my mom specifically asked if I made them with margarine, and when I said no she said they probably wouldn't turn out right. Well, she was right. They turned out better (her words, not mine!). So here is Mrs Westergren's Ginger Snap recipe - the only recipe I have ever made, because why mess around with the good things that are just handed to you?

So that's that! Some charity baking, rolled in and sprinkled with sugar. And tonight I look forward to eating the few oddments I saved :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bumpy start, but also Yoga.

This is how today started (an IM to a friend at work):

I was kidding with that last bit (kind of).

It ended up going original problem meant I needed to self-submit something to IT, and when I went to do that it turns out I don't (yet) have access to the self-submission thing. The guy who helped me submitted tickets for both, woohoo! Less work on my part and only 20 minutes on the phone.

This also happened:

Clearly the two of us (my computer and I) have issues with one another sometimes.

Now, all that aside, I want to update on morning yoga.

I've been doing really well. I started on Nov 3rd, so that makes this the 3rd day of the 3rd week (I swear that was not intentional! I just now realized when I looked at my calendar!). I have so far only missed two days!

First, a round up:

  • I noticed I am happier and have a more positive outlook - I really am a go-with-the-flow kind of person, but I feel like I complain wayyyy less
  • I have more energy (generally in the mornings)
  • I'm less achey and tight in general (not that I was super achey before)
  • My flexibility is definitely improving, even when I feel "tight" I can just about put my palms on the floor from standing with slightly bent knees - during "Stretch and Flex" at work today someone commented on my flexibility (ego boost, haha).
  • I'm getting stronger. Not by leaps and bounds, but by enough that I don't fatigue so quickly. Hopefully this changes as Cam and I hit the gym, at which point I think focusing on maintaining flexibility and mindfulness through yoga will be my target goal.
  • Headaches are pretty non-existent - I had one from sleeping funny the other day, but that's it.
  • My blood pressure has normalized!
So if you recall my original goals (to lower my blood pressure and minimize headaches) this morning yoga thing has certainly helped!

To go into specifics (in case anyone is interested or looking to start something like this):

I kind of threw the established Ekhart yoga plan out the window. I like a lot of things about their site - there is a ton of information and access to a huge number of videos and routines. They also have multiple instructors - 13 "in house", plus guests. Now, I haven't done many of the beginner videos (I've been doing yoga long enough that I consider myself in the "intermediate" phase) but I feel like their instructors are used to a more experienced audience. Sometimes the flows go faster and with less instruction than I would like, and I don't always feel like enough time is allowed to get the full benefit of certain poses.

Another reason I gave up on the routines is that it works better for me and makes me happier to work on whatever I want, with the time I have (after running late 3 days in a row I had to readjust things). For example, today when I woke up my neck was stiff and sore. I did close to 20 minutes to alleviate the tension in my neck and upperback. I started with free flow, then did Sarah Beth Yoga's routines for Neck and Shoulder Tension, followed by her Quick Upper Back routine.

I need to rep Sarah Beth Yoga for a second here. First of all, I love her flows. I actually haven't tried one I don't like, and I've tried most of them. But I also love her instruction and techniques. She's a great motivator (which is crazy to think since it's all videos!) because she constantly reminds you to focus on personal goals, to work to achieve them, and to not get discouraged in the day-to-day, simply because your body will feel different every day. She also gives breathing cues and really teaches you "how to" practice. I love Vinyasa flows for this reason - it's all about your body and your breath and reconciling movement between the two. On top of that, I love background music she chooses (you wouldn't think that would be such a big deal, but it is).

Also, I want to point out that I really appreciate that she takes the time to record the routine and then overlay the sound (music and vocal). It is much less distracting because there are no fillers ("ahh, umm, you know" etc) - the routines are clear and concise as far as spoken instruction goes. AND she has an inset video if there is a way to alter a pose, which is fantastic and very helpful and thoughtful. Having followed along with a multitude of videos I can tell you this makes a huge difference for home/self practice.

If you're thinking about trying out a yoga routine I cannot suggest her enough. Most of her videos are great for all levels (if you're a beginner you're probably a ways off from the Arm Balance series...I know I'm still working up to it!). I have not found any yogi online who I like as much as her. She also ends almost every video with a really insightful definition of Namaste, and I love that. It has changed how I think about my own connection to people, but not in an overly hippie-new age way. (That's my way of saying she's pretty normal.)

So here you go...Tumblr - YouTube - Facebook - Instagram...for Sarah Beth Yoga. GO NUTS.

I also had this crazy (to me) realization the other day: The amazing sensation of stretching will never go away. It is something I will always be able to look forward to...I will get more flexible, but there will always be an endpoint at which a stretch feels really good. That is so amazing!

Okay, I'm done. I hope whoever is out there reading is enjoying!

Maybe please one day seriously I'm begging someone will gulp comment? Pleaaaase??

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Miss Fix-It

This was my lunch break today...ages ago a friend asked me to fix the thumbs on these glittens. I started making said friend a new pair instead, but I haven't had time to do the second. So today I "finished" these during lunch. It was a nice way to spend a half hour, especially since it's brutally cold out.