December 30, 2011

Coloring 2.0

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am a professional colorer. 

I know that may sound silly and juvenile, but I am as serious as one can be about an artistic hobby.  Coloring is my art form.  So in that sense, I suppose you could call me a "sort-of-artist" (I say "sort-of artist" because I don't sell my work or consider it my full-time job.  It's just something I do in my spare time)

I find coloring to be creative, calming, and meditative.  It is the perfect stress-relief tool because while I am doing it I am not thinking about anything outside of the project at hand; and after hours of detailed work, I have a beautifully colored piece to show for all my time and effort.

Since mid-October I have colored eleven more mandalas.  As I explained in my original coloring post, the word mandala originates from Sanskrit and means "circle."  Mandalas represent wholeness; and personally speaking, remind me of my relationship to God.  It's interesting to realize that mandalas are around us all of the time in the form of the earth, sun, moon, and our conceptual circles of friends, family, and community.  Currently, Bo and I have hung a grouping of 16 of my colored mandalas as a headboard.  Now that I have completed eleven additional mandalas, Bo and I are trying to decide how we can display them in a unique way that will not make our house seem like the "mandala house"!  After all, there is a limit to all good things...even colored mandalas...

Here is a closer look at my newest creations:

Note: Bo has proclaimed himself the official "Coloring Naming Director." hubby's just a little weird sometimes (that's why we go together so well!).

#1 - Star Flower

#2 - The Triangle Dance

#3 - Pretty in Pink

#4 - Shalom

#5 - From Darkness to Light

#6 - Thai Lotus

#7 - Cathedral Ceiling

#8 - Aztec Christmas

#9 - Ring Around the Rosie

#10 - Hands Adjoined

#11 - Octopus Eyes

So there you have it...all my lovely new mandalas! 

Just so you know, I don't always color mandalas.  In fact, I received a new adult coloring book for Christmas.  It is filled with intricate drawings of nature.  I actually colored one yesterday, but it is going to be a gift for my step-mother (and therefore, just in case she is reading, I can't share it with you on the blog).  Regardless, look for an upcoming post about those colorings in the next few months!

Up next -   a traditional (vegan) chicken finger basket (complete with homemade sweet potato fries and homemade honey mustard sauce!)  Yum-o!

Question of the Day:

Do you have any suggestions for how we can display my newest colorings?!  I would LOVE to hear your ideas!

Ally and Bo

December 29, 2011

Dijon Green Beans Almondine

Since I can remember, every holiday season my mom's side of the family and my dad's side of the family have gotten together in the days immediately leading up to Christmas day for separate holiday parties.  This Christmas my mom's side of the family gathered on December 23rd (Christmas Adam, as I call it!), and my dad's side of the family met on December 24th (Christmas Eve, get it?!).  My dad's side of the family decided to make things easy by meeting for a late lunch at P.F. Changs (memories of the movie A Christmas Story come to mind), but my mom's family decided to do a potluck.  With twenty-one people in attendance, and many of them bringing the tried and true holiday casseroles (i.e. squash, corn, sweet potato, dressing, etc.), I decided to make something light, yet equally delicious.

Unfortunately I forgot to take ANY pictures of my dish.  Oh well.  I assure you that the entire pan-full was consumed by the first go 'round!  As people went back to the food line to fill their plates for a second time I heard: "Where are the green beans?" "Are the green beans all gone?"  "Who made the green beans?"  "Can I get the green bean recipe?" read that correctly! 

The green beans were one of the hits of the potluck!  That just goes to show you that good food can be simultaneously healthy and yummy.

This isn't a picture of my dish.  I forgot my camera that evening. :(

Dijon Green Beans Almondine
Serves 10-12

2 lbs. of fresh, trimmed and snapped green beans
2 T Smart Balance (or butter)
2-3 T Dijon mustard (I used 3T)
1 T lemon juice
1-2 cloves of garlic (I used 2)
1/2 tsp salt
2 T fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp dry)
1/3 C slivered almonds


  1. Melt butter over medium heat in a large pan (or Dutch oven).
  2. Add garlic and saute until lightly golden (2-3 minutes).
  3. Add green beans, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. 
  4. Toss to coat.
  5. Cook until beginning to tenderize (5-8 minutes).
  6. Sprinkle salt and thyme over the green beans.
  7. Garnish with slivered almonds.
  8. Serve immediately.

The almonds give these green beans a wonderful texture.  I love the mild heat that the Dijon lends to the recipe, and the lemon juice brightens the flavors so that the garlic and mustard are not overwhelming.  Overall, a huge hit and a wonderful way to do something a little different with the tried and true green beans.

The family had a great time at our annual Christmas party.  In fact, some of us even took time away from the festivities for a photo-op.

Mom and Mike (i.e. M&M)

Mom and Forrest, my biological brother.

As for my dad's side of the family, after we finished our late lunch at P.F. Chang's on Christmas Eve we headed over to my Mee Maw and Pee Paw's house for a visit.  We spent the evening watching the Cowboys football game (Bo's a die-hard fan!), sharing old family stories, and opening presents. 

People who know my Mee Maw and I say that we look a lot alike.  My Mee Maw was a true knock-out when she was younger!  Even now, in her seventies, she hardly has any wrinkles (I hope I get that lucky!).  What do you think?  Can you see the resemblance?!

Bo and I received more presents that we could have hoped for this Christmas.  Some were on our lists, and others were pleasant surprises.  Regardless, we are thankful for each and every one of them, from our iPod docking station to our backpacks and new perfume, and everything in between.  I even received a little something sparkly: Vera Wang flats that can be worn throughout every season of the year (and I plan on doing just that)!

Until next year, try and keep some of that warm holiday spirit in your heart!  Holidays are just days, but the spirit of giving, loving, and sharing our homes and our hearts with all of our loved ones can be with us every day of the year.

Question of the Day:

Are there any special foods or recipes that you wait to whip up until the holiday season rolls around?!  I would love to hear about them!

Ally and Bo

December 27, 2011

Yoga Classbook Project & a Yogini Friend

I'm back!

After quite the airport journey (I'll spare you the story and just tell you the ending), Bo and I are back home in Corpus Christi.  As always, it was a little sad to leave my family in Alabama behind, but I will say that having the blog makes the "goodbyes" a little bit easier.  One of the things that I love most about my blog is the feeling of connectedness I get from writing each post.  Even though all of my blood relatives - and many of my closest friends - are states away, writing each blog post makes me feel like I am talking/sharing/communicating with each one of you. 

I know you are probably wondering about my Christmas vacation (i.e. How many parties did I go to?  What did I cook?  What presents did I give and receive?, etc.), but all those questions will just have to wait because this post is about this:

And how I turned it into that:

So what is that exactly?  Well, let's just say that I intended on sharing this post with you BEFORE my Christmas holiday, but I didn't get around to it before it was time to pack up my suitcase and hit the airport!

That is the "before" and "after" of my Yoga Classbook Project.

What, you might ask, is my Yoga Classbook Project?  Well, let me explain.  It all started with this...

...a dining room table full of yoga asana sequences. 

I don't always follow these sequences exactly when I teach, but they do serve as a guideline and for my instruction.  Needless to say, my notes runneth over!  These notes were disorganized, in all shapes and sizes, and were quickly getting bent, torn, crinkled, and stained with use.  So, I decided to do something about it by organizing my notes by class type, shielding them in page protectors, and placing them in a three-ring binder.

Step #1:  Organize into seven minor class categories (Family Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Chair Yoga, Hard Body Yoga, Invigorating Yoga, Calming Yoga, and Dude Yoga).

Note: I do not teach seven styles of yoga.  I teach one style of yoga: Integral Yoga Hatha.  These categories merely represent the focus of the class, which is always taught in the Integral Yoga tradition using the designated poses, and their variations and modifications, for Hatha I.

Step #2: Combine the seven minor class categories into five major class categories (Family Yoga, Chair Yoga, Hard Body Yoga, Invigorating Yoga, and Calming Yoga).

Step #3: Place each yoga class into a sheet protector (I placed two per sheet protector, front to back).

Step #4: Label five tab dividers according to the five major class categories.

Step #5:  Place tab dividers, and their corresponding class page protectors, into a three-ring binder.

The final product is well-organized, easy-to-use, and light-weight.  I can't wait to carry my classbook to the studio this week :)

The weekend before Bo and I left for our Christmas vacation, I visited a good, yogini friend in Houston.  Fransisca lives in Santiago, Chile and we originally met at Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville during the 200 hr. teacher certification program.

May 2011

Since we live nearly half a world away from each other, I wasn't sure when we would actually be able to see one another again.  We have always kept in touch via email and Facebook, and we have discussed the possibility of Bo and I coming to visit her in Chile, but the reality of a face-to-face visit seemed to be a minimum of a year away.  Well, God had other plans!  What a gift to be able to see Fran so soon...and to meet her family as well!

Fransisca and her mother, father, and brother were visiting Houston for a few days before heading over to Miami for the holidays.  Since Corpus is only a 3-4 hour drive away, we thought it was the perfect opportunity for visit!

Fransisca and I were instant friends.  Some people might say that it was the fact that we both speak Spanish, or that we love yoga, or that we have both endured (and overcome (!)) medical hardships, but the truth is I just think we have similar hearts.  Fransisca and I just "click," and our friendship, although relatively young, is deep and genuine.

One of the highlights of our reunion was visiting a local furniture/art gallery.  One of Fran's family friends is an artist who's paintings were being shown there.  The furniture was exquisite, and "if I were a rich man, yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum" (yes, that was a play on the lyrics from Fiddler on the Roof), I would outfit my entire home in its confections.

One of Carmen's creations.

Fran and I in front of one of Carmen's beauties.

We also shopped, ate, and just visited during our time together in Houston.  Although I had only visited Houston once previously (and had not been impressed), I enjoyed my time in the city's downtown near the Galleria.  There were a plethora of restaurants, stores, malls, and hotels within walking distance.  All in all, we made good use of our convenient location and explored some variation of each of the aforementioned locations.  At one particular stopping point, I caught a cute shot of Fran assisting her father! :)

Meanwhile, Fran's mother and family friend, Carmen (the wonderful artist mentioned above), decided to rest their weary feet!

In the end, although we only had two days together, Fran and I rekindled our special friendship.  I LOVED speaking Spanish non-stop for two days (just ask Bo, he could hardly make me speak English for a day or so after I returned!), but the true highlight of my trip was just being able to hug my sweet-hearted friend.

I will close this post with an unique side note:

While we were at Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville, both Fransisca and I received spiritual names.  Fran was given the name Santoshi which, in Sanskrit, means contentment.  From what I know of Fran, through all of life's trials and tribulations, she is the most beautiful embodiment of contentment I have ever. seen.

Next up:  The green bean recipe I cooked for a family Christmas party (trust me, it was a HUGE success)!

Question of the Day:

Have you done a craft project recently?  If so, what was it; and was it a success?! 


Do you have a friendship that, although relatively new, is deeply meaningful?

Ally and Bo
Reader, whoever you are, I am thankful for you and I am so happy to consider you a part of the ABC blog community!

December 19, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to one and all!

Although I don't have time for a full post today, I wanted to stop in and wish everyone a wonderful holiday season.  Tomorrow Bo and I will be heading to Alabama to spend Christmas with my family.  However, we have a lot to do before catching our flight in the morning!  I have dozens of blog post ideas floating in my head, but unfortunately they will all have to wait until I return on the 28th of December! 

What can you expect when I get back to blogging?!

  1. a yoga project and a visit from a yoga friend;
  2. soup, soup, and more soup recipes(!);
  3. "breakfast of champions" recipes;
  4. a "blue" book review;
  5. New Year's resolutions; and
  6. much, much more!

Question of the Day:

Do you have any requests for blog topics?  I am totally open to your suggestions!

Ally and Bo

December 15, 2011

Secret Daughter & Short-Cut Indian Dinner

On Tuesday evening I finished reading Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda.

On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to Asha. But in a culture that favours sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter's life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son. Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband Krishnan see a photo of baby Asha from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion for her. Somer knows life will change with the adoption, but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles. Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and Asha, "Secret Daughter" poignantly explores issues of culture and belonging. Moving between two worlds and two families, one struggling to survive in the fetid slums of Mumbai, the other grappling to forge a cohesive family despite their diverging cultural identities.

Secret Daughter is a different kind of novel than I have been recently reading.  There is no element of science fiction, no utopian/distopian sub-plot, and no romantic journey or romantic triangle.  Regardless, I think it's always a good idea to change-it-up every once in a while, and this story was a perfect example of why that is. 

Sometimes I get stuck in a reading rut.  I think that I like one particular type of book and only that particular type of book.  But what happens when that occurs is that I shut myself off to so many wonderful stories in different literary genres.  Had my friend Colbi never lended me Secret Daughter, I don't think I would have picked it up on my own.  But as it was, Colbi did lend me Secret Daughter, and I am very very pleased that she did.

  • Secret Daughter had me at Chapter 1.  Sometimes I find 20-30 pages chapters to be overwhelming.  I say to myself, "Do I really have enough time to sit down and read 20-30 uninterrupted pages right now?"  So the shorter chapter of Secret Daughter were refreshing.    I found that I could pick up this book at any time during the day and make a few pages of progress.
  • I appreciated the multi-dimensional quality of the story.  Because every chapter was narrated by a different character in the book, I, as the reader, gained a multi-faceted understanding of the cultural and generational dynamics at play.  Even moreso, I became attached to not only the main protaganist of the story, but also to the secondary and terciary characters.
  • The book highlights many ideas and themes, including the gender roles in India vs. America, emotional expectations regarding fertility, parenthood...but even more specficially motherhood, and the journey to accepting and understanding one's heritage.

According to a review by Paul Weiss:

Some readers will almost certainly be disappointed at the lack of closure that the finale of the story brings to all of its characters. For my money, this open-ended conclusion keeps SECRET DAUGHTER out of the potentiall pitfall of becoming trite or sappy. Life, after all, goes on. Families and cultures are dynamic, evolving things and, as individuals, our life on this earth is all too short. Our individual contributions are only a small part of that development. If we can all agree that the murder of infant Indian girls is unacceptable in a modern world whether it is in India or North America, then I think we can also agree that Shilpi Somaya Gowda, the novel SECRET DAUGHTER and the story of little Usha's life, has made a notable contribution toward that change.

My point?  If you are looking for a great story that might be a little different from what you normally read, pick up Secret Daugther!  Trust me.  It will have you at Chapter 1 too!

After reading Secret Daughter I found myself really craving Indian food.  All the talk about vegetarian curry dishes and naan had my stomach grumbling pretty loudly.  Since going vegan, Indian cuisine has become one of my favorites.  Perhaps this is because so many of their dishes are vegetarian.

Why, you might ask, are so many Indians vegetarian?

According to the article Vegetarianism in India, "the rise of vegetarianism in India goes back to more than 500 B.C., when India saw the rise of Buddhism and Jainism.  These religions preached the principle of ahimsa or 'non-violence'"  In addition to these religious reasons, many Indians also become vegetarians as a result of poverty.  After all, vegetables are cheaper to both produce and purchase than meat!

Back to the recipe at hand!  Like I said, after reading Secret Daughter I was really craving Indian cuisine.  I had a lot of vegetables on hand in my refrigerator; and thankfully, I also had a short-cut ingredient in the pantry!  The end result was full of vegetables, textures, and curry! YUMM-O!

Short-Cut Indian Dinner
Serves 4

1 medium russet potato, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 large crooked neck squash, diced
3/4-1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 T sunflower oil
Patak's Tikka Masala Sauce
1 C quinoa
cilantro, for garnish


  • Heat the sunflower oil over medium high heat in a large non-stick pan.
    • Note: I use sunflower oil in this recipe because it has a higher smoking point than olive oil.  Because I will be cooking the vegetables on medium high for several minutes, I didn't want to fill my kitchen with smoke!
  • Place potatoes in the pan, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and cook until beginning to brown (approximately 8 minutes).
  • Add the diced carrots, and cook for an additional 5-8 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, add 1 C quinoa to 2 1/3 C water.  Allow the water to come to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Fluff after fully cooked.

  • Add zucchini and squash to the vegetable mixture with a dash more salt and pepper.  Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until all vegetables are soft and brown.

  • Serve over quinoa with a garnish of cilantro.

Next up - A yoga craft project I recently completed!

Question of the Day:

Have you ever tried Indian food?  If so, did you like it?

Ally and Bo

December 13, 2011

Creamy Avocado Kale Salad with Roasted Vegetables

This past Saturday, the day that Bo and I were preparing to go to the Tacky Christmas Outfit Party, I wanted something filling and healthy for lunch.  Knowing that we would be consuming several sugar cookies that evening, I wanted to pack as many nutrients into my lunch as I could.  Since we are leaving for Christmas vacation soon, we have been trying to eat up what we have in our pantry and refrigerator.  With that being said, I look into the refrigerator and saw:

  • a bunch of kale;
  • a head of cauliflower;
  • a pound of carrots;
  • one crooked neck squash; and
  • very-close-to-its expiration-date avocado hummus.

So what does one make with these ingredients? 

To be honest, at first I wasn't sure.  I figured that maybe if I just started throwing things together it would come to usually does...usually...and thankfully this time it did!

Step #1: I tore the kale into bite size pieces.

Step #2: I made a dressing with the very-close-to-its expiration-date avocado hummus.

Step #3:  I roasted some vegetables with oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne.

Step #4: I tossed to my heart's content! :)

Oh, wait?!  You mean you actually want the recipe now?

Are you sure?

Okay, okay... you go! ;)

Creamy Avocado Kale Salad with Roasted Vegetables
Serves 2

1 bunch of kale
1/3 C avocado hummus
1/4 C vegetable broth
1/4 tsp cayenne, divided in half
1- 1 1/2 T lime juice
1 small head cauliflower, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 crooked neck squash, chopped
1-2 tomatoes, sliced in half
1 1/2 T sunflower oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper


  • Toss chopped cauliflower, carrots, squash, and tomatoes with the sunflower oil, salt, pepper, and 1/8 tsp cayenne until fully coated.
  • Place in a 400 degree oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes (tossing every ten minutes) until beginning to brown and slightly tender.
  • Meanwhile, tear kale into bite size pieces, and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Blend the hummus, broth, 1/8 tsp cayenne, and lime juice until smooth.
  • Toss the creamy avocado dressing with the kale.
  • After vegetables have finished roasting, add them to the kale salad and toss well.
  • Serve immediately while vegetables are warm and kale is beginning to wilt.

This salad turned out much better than I had anticipated!  There was a beautiful balance of flavors: the slightly sweet kale, tossed with the creamy avocado dressing (with just a hint of lime to brighten it up), and the savory-sweet perfection of roasted vegetables.  

I have to say, roasting is one of my favorite kitchen techniques.  The process of roasting brings out the best and most subtle flavors in every ingredient.  In this recipe, the carrots were slightly caramelized, the cauliflower was perfectly soft...but not mushy, and the tomatoes were bursting with sweetness.  Roasted perfection.

And honestly, if we eat first with our eyes, doesn't that just look scrumptious?!  The colors, the perfectly coated kale, the delicately browned vegetables...hmmm-hmmmmm...I think I am salivating...AGAIN! ;)

Next up - a book review and a book-inspired recipe!

Question of the Day:

How do you use your leftovers?

Ally and Bo