April 30, 2012

Recharging Your Practice

As I mentioned in my last post about coloring, Yoga Life Studio hosted a workshop this weekend entitled "Recharging Your Practice".  Krista Shirley, Owner of The Yoga Shala in Orlando, FL came to Jacksonville, FL to lead the workshop.

Krista Shirley is a dedicated student and practitioner of traditional Ashtanga yoga.  She travels to Mysore, India each year to spend time studying at the Krishna Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI).  Krista humbly gives thanks to her teachers, Sharath Jois and Saraswathi Jois, for their guidance and love.  "It is a true honor to study with Sharath and Saraswathi so that my own practice and teachings may continue to grow on the right path under their tutelage."  Krista is a level 2 authorized Ashtanga teacher and founder of The Yoga Shala in Winter Park Florida where she teaches traditional Ashtanga classes in the Mysore method.

Over the course of the weekend, I was able to take some great - and yes I mean GREAT - pictures during the Mysore sessions (Just wait until you see the pics below.  Some of them are truly amazing!).

For those of you that don't know, the Mysore style of yoga practice is a particular way of teaching yoga within the Ashtanga tradition, as taught by Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois in the southern Indian city of Mysore.  The main differences in this method are:

  • the class is not "led" as a whole, but rather all instruction is given one-on-one within a group class setting;
  • students practice their own portion of the Ashtanga sequence of asanas at their own pace; and
  • the teacher assists each student individually by giving physical adjustments and verbal instruction. (source)

Therefore, in the pictures below you will notice that students are practicing a variety of asanas simultaneously, and Krista travels the room offering individualized adjustments, modifications, and advice.

OK - Enough of my jibber jabber.  

Let's get to the photographs!

Just getting started!

Adho Muka Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog

Trikonasana - Triangle Pose

Parivritta Trikonasana - Revolved Triangle Pose

Parivritta Utthitta Parsokonasana - Revolved Side Angle Pose

Virabhadrasana I - Warrior I Pose

Virabhadrasana II - Warrior II Pose

"Lift the heart; lengthen the spine."

Janushirsasana - Head to Knee Pose


Urdhva Dhanurasana - Upward Facing Bow Pose (i.e. Wheel Pose)

Kurmasana - Toirtoise Pose (Mia in her little shell) :)

Holy core work!

Sarvangasana - Shoulderstand

Hmmm...not sure what to say other than WOWZA!

Everyone moving on their own.  Simply BEAUTIFUL.

Double WOWZA!

By the end of the morning the studio was filled with sweat and surely didn't smell like roses (hahaha!), but we all felt thoroughly worked, relaxed, and at peace.  Ahhhhh - yoga. :)

In case you were wondering, I WAS a part of the Mysore practice.  However, my main responsibility was to take pictures (thus the reason you don't see me at all).  Regardless, it was an amazing, inspiring, and invigorating practice that I won't forget for a long time to come!

I am SO. SO. SO. blessed to be a yoga teacher...

...living my dream life...

...serving everyone that I can.

Question of the Day:

Do you LOVE what you do for a living?!  If so, tell me ALL about it in the "Comments" section below!  

I love hearing from people that love their jobs as much as I do. :)

Ally and Bo

April 27, 2012

Coloring 4.0

In my continued quest to be 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 continue to hone my skills in my medium of choice - crayons and markers.  Recently, I have noticed a significant evolution in my coloring technique (and yes, I just used the word "technique" in reference to crayons...get over it).  Specifically:

  • While in the past my coloring's would leave quite a bit of "white space", my newest pieces contain little to none of it.
  • While pursuing deeper pigmentation, I am using a much heavier hand with the crayons - pressing down firmly so that the wax completely shades the intended area.  This is quite distinct from my lighter-handed approach in earlier pieces (feel free to compare my pieces here and here with today's post).
  • In general, I am using darker color palettes - branching into blacks, browns, and grays, and also employing more jewel and obscure tones.

While I am coloring, I am not thinking about anything outside of the piece at hand.  Perhaps it is for that exact reason that I found myself coloring a LOT when Bo was out of town for work.  In just a little over a two-week period I colored all of the pieces below...fifteen in total, representing 30+ hours of coloring.

Crazy...I know!

To be honest, I'm not sure why I am drawn to mandalas...maybe it is their balance.  Whatever it is, I find coloring mandalas to be particularly calming and meditative.  I have also recently been drawn to geometric patterns and shapes.  Something about their abstract patterns really get my creative juices flowing.

Just as a refresher:  the word mandala originates from Sanskrit and means "circle".  Mandalas represent wholeness.  I find it interesting that mandalas are around us all of the time, whether we realize it or not (i.e. the Earth, sun, moon, and the abstract circle of friends, family, and community).  While we currently have 16 of my mandalas hanging in our guest bedroom, and several other pieces decorate our bedside tables and a stool, I think that my most recent pieces are going to stay filed away for a while.  Eventually, I might look into Mod Podging them for friends or family, making coasters, or doing who knows what!  We'll just have to see what my creative mind comes up with!

In the meantime...

...here is a closer look at my newest completed works:

#1 - Snake Dance

#2 - Seated Meditation

#3 - Blooming Hibiscus

#4 - It's a Rainbow Kind of Day

#5 - Photosynthesis

#6 - Pinwheels and Diagrams

#7 - In the Pink

#8 - Circus Balls 1.0

#9 - Circus Balls 2.0

#10 - Sunlight Through Your Window

#11 - Twilight

#12 - Forks, WA

#13 - Tangerine Tango 

#14 - Geometry: In Living Color

#15 - Alien Invasion

This weekend Yoga Life is hosting an Ashtanga workshop entitled "Recharge Your Practice" with Krista Shirley from Orlando, FL.  My Business Partner and I will be busy making sure things run smoothly, so you might not hear from me for a few days.  But I look forward to telling you all about it next week! :)

Question of the Day:

What do you do when you are lonely (or bored)?!  

Ally and Bo

April 25, 2012

Savory Corn Cakes & Wilted Fruit and Nut Spinach

Oooooo...I am quite excited to share today's recipes with you!  Bo and I had these two dishes for dinner a couple of nights ago, and we are both still talking about it.  I have a feeling that these delicious recipes will be in our regular rotation for a long time to come.  And what's even better is the fact that they can both be endlessly altered to create new and exciting versions of the same recipes.  What's not to love?!

So what, exactly, is IN these two recipes?!  Well, I gave you a hint at the end of yesterday's post:
  1. spinach;
  2. raisins;
  3. corn; and
  4. cakes!
What does that equal?!

What's that?!

You give up?!



...do you really want the recipes?!

First, I'll give you a little formula:

Recipe #1: corn + basic pancake ingredients (minus the sugar) + cast-iron skillet = ??? (see below)

Recipe #2: spinach + fruit + nuts + seasonings = ??? (see double below)

The answer to Recipe #1 is Savory Corn Cakes!  

While rummaging through my pantry, I found a can of corn, and for no particular reason, decided to read the side of the can.  Whaddya know, but there was a corn cake recipe on the side.  It got my wheels turning, and a few modifications and substitutions later, an even more delicious (and vegan) version of the recipe was born!  I topped the cakes with salsa because it is what we had on hand.  But you could easily change up this recipe by topping it with sour cream/guacamole/hummus/pesto, and/or adding peas or peppers (bell peppers or hot peppers would work) into the batter! 

Savory Corn Cakes
Serves 2-3

1 can of corn, drained and rinsed
1 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 T flax + 6 T water (i.e. This is a flax egg.  If you eat eggs, you can add one egg in its place).
1 C unsweetened, plain almond milk (or milk of choice)
2 T canola oil


  • In a small bowl, mix the flax and water.  Set aside.
  • Preheat a medium/large skillet over medium heat.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.  Mix thoroughly.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry mix.  Add in the flax egg, milk, and canola oil.
  • Stir to incorporate.
  • Pour in the drained and rinsed corn.  Mix thoroughly.
  • Pour 1/4 C dollops of cake mixture onto the preheated skillet.
  • Cook until bubbles appear, and pop, on the top of the pancake.
  • Flip, cook 1-2 additional minutes, until cooked throughout.
  • Serve immediately with sour cream, salsa, guacamole, or any other topping of choice.

The answer to Recipe #2 is Wilted Fruit and Nut Spinach!

Before going vegan, I loved creamed spinach (honestly, who doesn't?).  After making my Savory Corn Cakes, I decided that a fresh and lightened up variation of wilted spinach would be the perfect accompaniment.  Aided by the sweetness of the fruit, the crunchiness of the nuts, the brightness of the lemon juice, and the accompaniment of nutmeg, this Wilted Fruit and Nut Spinach is salivatingly good!

Wilted Fruit and Nut Spinach
Serves 2

1/2 16 oz. package of organic spinach
1/4 heaping C raisins
1/4 heaping C sliced almonds
1 T lemon juice
1 T + 1 tsp EVOO
1/2 scant tsp salt
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg (Don't skip this ingredient!)


  • Heat 1 T oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
  • Add the spinach, and toss to coat.
  • Cover for 1-2 minutes until the spinach begins to wilt.
  • Reduce heat to low.
  • Add the raisins, almonds, lemon juice, 1 tsp EVOO, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Toss to incorporate.
  • Cook for 3-5 minutes, on low, until flavors meld together.
  • Serve!

For variations of this side-dish, feel free to swap out dried cranberries or goji berries for the raisins, and pecan pieces, pine nuts, or chopped pistachios for the almonds.  The variations are practically endless!

Question of the Day:

Have you ever been inspired to get creative and make (or re-make) a recipe from a can or a box?  If so, how did it turn out for you?!

Ally and Bo

April 24, 2012

Lola Graduated!

I can't believe it, but our little puppy girl graduated with honors last night!  At just 15 weeks old, Lola received her diploma from Puppy Obedience School at Petsmart.  Bo and I were beaming!  Our "child" has learned so much in the last month and a half, and we couldn't be prouder. 

Lola "sitting" for the trainer.

Look how B.I.G. she is getting!  Over 30 pounds now!

After six weeks of obedience training, Lola can now perform the following commands:

  • sit;
  • watch me;
  • down;
  • take it;
  • drop it (most of the time);
  • leave it (this one is her nemesis....she's not a huge fan of "leave it" - especially on walks);
  • come; and
  • stay (for about 45 seconds, with food, that is).

Hi, Mommy!

"Sit" is the most-ingrained command that Lola has learned.  She will respond to the command for anyone, even strangers; and anytime you have food, she will sit automatically in hopes that her good behavior will earn her an edible reward.

We call her Ms. Piggy because she is insatiably hungry...all.the.time, and during meal times, is somehow able to scarf down an entire bowl of food in under 90 seconds.

We don't think she chews...only inhales...and swallows.

LOOK - I'm sitting! 

Please tell me that you have a treat for me...

Here's Lola with her good-lookin' daddy :)

Truthfully, Bo is a really great puppy-daddy.  He and Lola go on long walks, play fetch at least twice a day, play "catch me if you can" in the backyard (Lola recently surpassed Bo's speed), and enjoy quiet moments of snuggling and doggy kisses.  Not to mention, he gets up every morning around 5:30AM to take her out to pee.  For a man who is NOT a morning person, that is love!

It melts my heart to watch these two together!

Hi Mom!

I was in a rush taking pictures last night, so I apologize for all of the "green-eyed girl" pictures.  Don't let my horrible photography skills fool you.  Lola's eyes are brown...not green like her mom's!

All that obedience makes a puppy girl tired!

Seriously, who could resist that face?!  

I know I'm biased, but I think she gets prettier and prettier with age.  We always joke that if she was a person, as opposed to a dog, she would probably have a huge ego problem because, in addition to us, strangers stop and tell her how pretty she is all the time.

She's totally oblivious though, and is as rambunctious and humble as ever. :)

One of Lola's classmates, Stryder, was extremely timid and shy.  Here she is trying to say "hello" on a level that won't intimidate him. :)

Towards the end of the evening, Lola's trainer brought out the graduation caps!  As you can see, from the get-go, Lola wasn't particularly excited about her new accessory!

But she was a good sport and gave it a shot!  I can just here her now:

"Seriously, mom...dad?!  Do I really have to wear this?!"

Stryder, on the other hand, was quite the trooper!  He looked like a regular valedictorian with his graduation cap held high and proud.

"Enough is Enough.  I feel humiliated. Get this thing off of my head."

"Yeah, go ahead, Dad, look smug.  You won't do this to me again...I assure you..."

It's a good thing dog's have short memories.  By this morning, Lola had forgotten all about the graduation cap trauma.  She was back to her exuberant and playful self.  We are two very lucky puppy parents!

Next up - a post with TWO dinner recipes!  

I'll give you a hint: between the two recipes you will find spinach, raisins, and corn...and one recipe may come in the form of "cakes".

Guesses or ideas...anyone?!

Question of the Day:

Did you take your dog to puppy school/obedience training?  If so, do you think it made a difference in your dog's behavior?

Ally and Bo