5 Things I Am Grateful For Today

Here are 5 things I am grateful for today.

1. My warm, cozy house, and especially my warm bedroom with it’s soft mattress and heated mattress pad, and my Space Chair.

2. Tranquility Bubble Bath from Aura Cacia.

3. Gym Tim for making my weight workout so much fun and so inspiring.

4. My incredible yoga students who blow me away with their dedication, their discipline and their unending cheerfulness, even in this frigid weather.

5. Green juice.  And the Vita Mix. And the Champion Juicer. And dulse flakes. And chia seeds.  My 21 Day cleanse ends tomorrow, and I feel incredible.


Windowsill Goddesses

So today was a really low energy day.  I think the Cleanse is getting to me.  I got up and did Ashtanga with Christine and Cheryl at 6:30, came home and drank my Serious Green Juice and then fell asleep during Holosync (holo-snoozed it today).

I really wanted coffee.

I did 2 loads of wash, cleaned out and refilled the birdfeeders, , made kasha, and did a lot of dishes.  I rather like doing dishes.  I didn’t grow up with a dishwasher, so even though I have one now, I very rarely use it.  I fill the sink up with hot soapy water, put on a podcast (Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.  This American Life. The Moth. Radio Lab. Speaking of Faith. Buddhist Geeks. The Accidental Creative are some of my favorites), and I wash the dishes by hand. And stare out the window. And think.

I think about the podcasts I am listening to as I wash the dishes.  I stand in awe at their creativity. I marvel at how much research and work it must have taken to make something so wonderful, so inspiring, so interesting, –all while up to my elbows in hot soapy water.

And I have a very definite system for doing dishes.  This system was taught to me by my stepfather when I was about 11.  One night he watched me do 2 stacks of dinner dishes, including pots and pans, and after I was finished he made me wash them all over again, only this time, THE RIGHT WAY.

Here is the system:

All dishes are queued up and washed in this order:

Anything that directly touches the lips gets washed first, when the water is at its hottest and soapiest.  This would include: silverware and glasses and cups.

Next come plates and bowls.

And lastly, pots and pans and spatulas and ladles, etc.

Knives and forks are placed heads down in the drainer (so as not to poke or pierce a wayward arm or finger).  Spoons can be drained heads up.

“Doing the dishes” includes wiping down all surfaces,  including the range, and cleaning out the sink, and drying and putting away everything.

I hated him the night he made me re-wash all those dishes, but his system has given me both solace and a place to start whenever I was faced with a messy kitchen.  And in college, this was every single day. Unlike my roommates, I always knew where to begin.  I began with the silverware and glasses.

Because of my system, when I do dishes I can just go on “auto” and stare out the window at the birds at the January feeder.  Or I can contemplate my Windowsill Goddesses.  Here they are:

Ganesha, Lakshmi, Neytiri

Ganesha isn’t a goddess, he’s a god of course, but I elevated him to goddess status, just because of the questionable sexuality of his  elephant part.  Who knows if it’s a male or female elephant, right?

So from left to right we have: Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles; Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity; and Neytiri, Queen of Pandora (my latest action figure from the movie Avatar).

It’s a nice little scene in my kitchen.  Me, laughing at Wait, Wait, the smell of pear-scented soap, the flitter of birds at the feeder, and the watchful eyes of the goddesses, making sure everything is done THE RIGHT WAY.

Cleanse: Day 17

So, it’s day 17 of my cleanse.

Here is a list of what is going to stay:

“Serious” green juice for breakfast.  It may not be the “only” thing I eat for breakfast the way it is now, but it’s going to be a major player.

The big mid-day meal. This is so working for me.  Love this.  I usually  get home from the studio between 7:30 and 8 PM and then eat dinner.  Bed time is around 10.  See the problem?  No time to digest.  So just a very light snack for dinner so there can be a “fast” before “break-fast.”

Coffee as a treat.  I roll so much more serenely through life without that coffee buzz (though today I was incredibly tired and I really wanted a boost.)  Yerba Mate is allowed on the Elimination Diet, and that is naturally caffeinated, so I will try that when I need a lift.

Severely limit sugar. I already know what sugar does to my system, and it’s not good.  This won’t be hard.

Limit dairy.  I already do, and although I’ll miss cheese, this won’t be much of a hardship either.

Sprouted grain bread. I am not gluten intolerant, but bread just feels like a gastro burden that I don’t need.

What’s coming back:

Wine! But only on Friday night.  Oh wine, I have missed you. Friday nights have been soooo depressing.  Not only is there no good food to eat, there is no glass of Pinot to signal that I am entering a new time zone: the Weekend Zone.

More variety of food.  I really miss bananas (especially in smoothies) and tomatoes and eggs.  I miss strawberries and peanut butter and fake meat. I miss oatmeal.  It will be great to have my vegetarian chili again, and an omelette on Sunday morning.

What has been good is that I am feeling light inside, and I have a lot of energy.  According to the scale at the gym I have lost 5 lbs in the past 2 and half weeks.  And while that is good, I don’t put a lot of stock in the scale. Scales are all different,  so I depend on the tape measure, and how my clothes fit to tell me how I’m doing. Much to my dismay, there hasn’t been any big changes there–yet!  I am hoping by continuing with the Elimination Diet after the Cleanse, to become more lean.

All it takes is patience and persistence over time, and thankfully, I am good at that.

Moosewood Vegan Chocolate Cake

On Saturday G and I went up to Ithaca to horse around.  It was sunny and we were in need of organic veggies anyway, so it was a good excuse to blow this burg for the afternoon.

Went to Moosewood for lunch.  Moosewood was a complete treat since we haven’t eaten out at all since this Cleanse began 15 days ago today.

It was heaven to go to a restaurant where we could order off the menu and know we were still abiding by the Clean rules.

Well, sort of.

The no-no foods on this cleanse are pretty draconian, such that even Moosewood, famous for all things organic and pure and vegan and holy, didn’t have an entrée that was totally “clean” for us.  So we cheated.  And it felt great.

The closest entrée on the menu to what we were allowed was a fish cake. But it had shellfish in it (not allowed shellfish.)  And it was breaded (again, no.)  And it was topped with aioli (no), and came with roasted potatoes (no), asparagus (yes!) and a wedge of cantaloupe (yes!).

I ate the fish cake, but skipped the potatoes.  Ordered a side of marinated chickpeas instead.

The whole thing was scrumptious, and beautifully presented, and the portion sizes were spot-on perfect.  It was sane, clean, beautiful, and delicious.  And best of all, I didn’t have to make it.  Ahhh…

Because it seems as if I have been doing nothing but cooking and shopping for the last 2 weeks.  Seriously.  My entire life is now organized around this new way of eating.  It’s practically all I ever think about.

I’m waiting for the day to come when this way of doing things will just feel like ho-hum, the norm.  And I will have a vast and varied repertoire of healthy menus that I can pull together 1, 2, 3.  No muss, no fuss, no thought.

But that day has not come yet.

So after we scarfed the entrée (just kidding, there was no scarfing, we ate slowly and mindfully), the question of dessert arose.

To indulge, or not to indulge?

We indulged.  On my urging.  Because after all, I had not had even a crumb of birthday cake on my “special day” and had been feeling woefully neglected ever since. So we split a piece of their Vegan Chocolate Cake.

Now, I am completely critical of chocolate cake.  I make one of the best ones I have ever tasted.  I know every ingredient that goes into making a kick-ass one and can detect if anything is off.  To be perfect, the texture has to be not too light and not too dense; it can’t be too wet or too dry; and the frosting has to have the perfect butter to sugar ratio. In a word, I’m a snob.

Now for me, a Vegan Chocolate Cake is, by definition, not really a chocolate cake.  The word “vegan” automatically cancels out “cake.”  Am I right?  It might be a good dessert on some level, but it’s not a real chocolate cake.

Because a real chocolate cake contains butter, milk and eggs, which a vegan chocolate cake cannot have.

But I am here to announce to all the world that the Moosewood Vegan Chocolate Cake is the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted, bar none.  It beats mine by a mile, and it blows every other chocolate cake I have ever tasted out of the water.

I am now wondering if any of their cookbooks have the recipe?  I’m going to have to check on that.

But on second thought, it might be better if I don’t have that recipe.

An Unexpected Gift

Last night I got an unexpected gift.  It wasn’t a birthday gift, it was better.  Way better.   First, a little backstory.

Back in August the yoga studio was robbed.  Someone took a bank bag containing my entire month’s income of cash and checks.  It wasn’t a lot of money as these things go, especially since it was August and a slow month anyway.  But it was the rent.

Even more than the money, I was completely freaked that someone would steal from ME.  I could not wrap my head around it.  It made me feel sick to my stomach. I knew it couldn’t be anyone who had ever practiced at MSY, but who would go rifling through my (stupidly unlocked) filing cabinet and take my bank bag?  It drove me crazy to think about it.

I notified the bank as well as all the people who had given me checks in August.

I watched a few hours of surveillance video from my building’s system before I realized that even if I saw something or someone on it, the film quality and angle was so off that I wouldn’t be able to identify anyone.  The most I could tell from the tape was that it was a person.

I filed a police report, but because I live in Mayberry and Andy and Barney comprise the local law, there wasn’t much hope on that score.

All the people who wrote checks, wrote me new ones to replace the stolen ones, unasked.  (I have the most wonderful people!)

I was raw and sad about it for quite awhile.  But I consoled myself by telling myself that the person who took it probably needed it more than I did.

Last night the bank bag came back to me with all the checks in it, but the cash was gone.  I know who took it. It is a sad story, but it is finally resolved. The person who returned it is not the thief, but a relative of the thief and plans to repay me the missing cash as well.

Now THAT was a gift!  All my students who knew about the robbery said the same thing: that they pitied the poor person who took it, because the karmic load from stealing from a yoga studio?  Dude, that is heavy.  The person who stole it did in no way need it.  It was done out of sheer orneriness and just for kicks.

And the karmic load is indeed bearing down like a ton of shit.

Gifts, part 2

So as you know, I’ve been on this cleanse for the past 11 days which involves 2 liquid meals a day, and one solid meal.  The liquid meals are breakfast and dinner.  I am doing the “book” version of this cleanse rather than the “kit.”  The author, Alejandro Junger, sells a “kit” for $350 that gives you all the powders to make your 2 liquid meals, plus a whole bunch of supplements.

I really didn’t want to go that route, though.  I wanted to do it the old fashioned way and make my own juices and smoothies. That way, I figured, I wouldn’t be dependent on him and his “kit,” and would learn how to eat real food, like a real person, even though it is sometimes inconvenient (not to mention expensive).  ($350 is actually less than I have spent on groceries so far, so the kit is a bargain, if you can believe that.)

I already own a Champion Juicer, which is an amazing machine and I love it.  I swear that thing could juice a 2 x 4.  I also have a fairly decent blender for smoothies, but it was starting to whiz and growl after the second day.  I priced Vita Mix blenders and they started at $350 and went up from there.

$350?? For a blender??  You kidding me?

I put out a query on Twitter asking if anyone had one, and if so, did they recommend it.  I got mixed reviews.  Everyone who had one liked it, but some people said they really didn’t use it that much, and that I would be just as happy with a good blender.

But when I read the online reviews of the Vita Mix, and looked at the videos, then looked at the contents of my fridge and all the good stuff in there that I could really smoothie up if I had one of those puppies, I really wanted one.

But still, the price kept me on the curb.  I decided to limp along with my groaning Oster.  After all, it valiantly  saw me through 2 summers of fresh strawberry daquiries and other assorted high volume blending tasks.

I went over all the pros and cons with G, who is also on the cleanse, and told her of my decision.  She agreed.

Then, the day before my birthday, FedEx delivered a very heavy box.

Yup.  Vita Mix!

This beast makes my Oster look like a kiddie toy.  The motor on this thing!  Holy shit!  And the cannister is twice as big, and it purees and blends really hard things, like nuts.  It can even make ice cream.  The recipe book that came with it is chock full of amazing recipes I can’t play with yet, but once off this cleanse, I am going to be The Queen of Blending.

I can’t believe I am getting all rhapsodic over a blender.  And what is perhaps even more horrifying is that I wanted this blender.  I have always held that to give a woman an appliance as a gift is grounds for divorce, or murder.

Picture it. Christmas morning, husband to wife:

“Here honey, I bought you a Dustbuster!

Sickening, isn’t it?

(You know that scene in Love, Actually when Emma Thompson gets the CD instead of the bracelet?  Yeah, sickening like that.)

But this Vita Mix was the perfect gift for me this year, my year of vibrant health.

I really don’t need another bracelet.