Friday, January 30, 2015

Eating Omily: Winterizing the Homestead

When the cold weather sets in, certain steps have to be taken for comfort and peace among the ranks. These are some of ours:

I frequently have a snack when I do my aerial training, especially when it's cold out, because it just seems like I always need more calories to get through the exertion. It's probably more about that 90 second break to stuff something in my face, but whatever. I used to do the five-ingredient-or-less snack bars, but those are kind of a commitment: what if you don't want a whole bar? What if you want more than a whole bar, but less than two?

Then, quite by accident, I discovered this:
I don't know what's better: those crisp strips of toasted coconut, or getting a whole walnut, coated in cinnamon and cocoa powder...but does it matter, when every bite is this good, and a bag is only $6?? Didn't think so. Get it from Bread Alone, at Union Square Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and lots of other Green Market Locations. They have other flavors, too, but why bother?

Last night we went all out on the Winterizing effots with a delicious dinner of pulled pork tacos. I put a pork shank in the slow cooker that morning with half a jar of canned tomatoes, a chopped carrot, a chopped onion, a few chopped garlic cloves, dried thyme and oregano, the juice of a lime, water, and some of the bone broth I keep in the freezer. By the time I pulled it out of the slow cooker, the layer of fat around the shank, and the bones in the middle slid effortlessly away from juicy, flavorful meat. I tossed mine with some peach barbecue sauce I found at the farmers' market (which is where the pork shank came from, too, surprise surprise).

When I was looking up a recipe to start from, I kept seeing recipes that called for four or six tiny pork shanks, weighting just a handful of ounces each. Where are these pigs mincing about on these tiny forelimbs?? Our pork shank was a hair over a pound and two thirds! It fed both of us easily, but while lots of flavorful, rich braising liquid was left over, none of the meat was. This morning I put the thick braising liquid in a pan with some added water, and a handful of chopped kale and simmered it for an incredibly hearty and warming breakfast, perfect for cold endurance prep.
Sorry for the blurry picture; I think I was too busy salivating to see properly. This may actually be my favourite part of slow cooking animal parts...

In other Winterizing news, we've finally set up our home bar. It's class as far as the eye can see in our living room, and cozy cocktails to warm back up to our heart's content:
Kitty thinks so, too.
"Excuse me my good lady, a dry martini, garnished with catnip, stirred if you please, and make it snappy!"

Some day we'll have to break it to her (and possibly ourselves) that she is in fact a cat, but in the meantime she's pretty cute. From this angle, you can see some of our awesome booze choices: the two right in front are made locally, one right here in Brooklyn, the other upstate, and for sale at the Farmers' Market! Another Brooklyn-made liquor is just behind that vodka, with the red cap: Dorothy Parker gin is where it's at mixed with that artisan sweet vermouth, I'm telling you. Bond can keep his watered down vodka; I'll take a real cocktail. Although I may have to search out a good dry vermouth just so I can make these this Winter...

Are you finding amazing treats at the Farmers' Market? What steps are you taking to winterize your apartment for optimum fun hibernation? Are you also super excited about the hipster bone broth trend, but feel the need to tell everyone that you knew how awesome that stuff was AGES ago? Are you dying over those penguin martini garnishes??? I KNOW!!!

Tell me all about it in the comments. :-)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

When Yoga's Not About Yoga, but Everything Else Could Be

So, when this blog started out, it was a yoga blog. It quickly exploded its boarders, because yoga done right does not stay on the mat. And I'm a multi-passion person who heals and transforms in a variety of ways!

I got smart and divided up the post, allowing people to choose what they're interested in, or take the whole grab bag. I even transitioned aerial, a practice that at the time felt totally isolated from my healing modalities, to whole other blog on a whole other platform! (Diversifying is good, right? and Tumblr is the big thing with the kidz these days. Also the husband works there. Have you checked it out yet?? omily-nyc.tumblr.com!)

So this post of the triangle of posts on this blog is the post that is about yoga. Not tarot, not eating in tune with the planet, YOGA. But,

yoga done right does not stay on the mat!

And that's because while we all have our inner work to do, the outer world is so much more accessible, and nothing is more accessible for most of us than our bodies. We take that first yoga class for lots of reasons: our friends swear by it, we get offered a guest pass, we know we should be exercising more and yoga doesn't seem as intimidating as the gym, we dream of a longer sleeker body than the one Mother Nature gave us, we're desperate for stress relief...

...we stay because whether we like chanting, mudras, or dharma talks, the inner work happens. 'As above, so below' has a complimentary extension: 'as without, so within.'

Especially when you're still getting the hang of your inner work, starting with the body is a really accessible way in, and yoga is far from the only door: running, dancing, Zumba, ballet, golf, curling...whatever! Crocheting has been a powerful practice for me on a personal level, and it's been magical for me to offer aerial work as an outer practice that inevitably invites powerful inner work.

Which is why I'm ok with having no regular yoga classes on my schedule right now! Not only does yoga that's done right not stay on the mat, but it doesn't even have to start on the mat! I'm offering lessons in radical self-love and compassion during my half-hour ab and booty mat class at Bella Vita, and holding the space for discovery, growth, boldness, and surrender with my aerial classes at Om Factory. What more could a yoga teacher want?

Don't feel guilty if you don't make it to a yoga class as often as you'd like, or as often as you think you should. Your practice could be right under your nose: chopping onions for dinner, taking a walk around the block, ironing your dress shirts.

What outer work plugs you into your inner work? Take some time this week to observe and explore what happens in your inner world when you take part in activities in your outer world. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Live Omily,
~em

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Omily Tarot: Card of the Year 2015

A hair over two weeks into the new year, I finally got around to choosing my Card of the Year for 2015! I chose my goddess tarot deck as the starting point, with the understanding I could explore other deck's interpretation of my chosen card. I laid all the cards out in a pool, and shuffled them all around with my hands, closing my eyes to connect to my inner wisdom, and focusing on the sensation of the cards flowing under my fingers. Soon one felt just right! It was:

The Four of Staves!
At first, I was a little disappointed I didn't get a more 'special' card, like one from the Major Arcana, or an ace or court card, but I set that feeling aside, and sat down to see what my thoughts were just from looking at the image on the card itself. Of course, I was also influenced by my understanding of the stave as representing the element of fire, and the significance of the number four. The more I explored and followed my associations, the more excited I got about this card, and you'll see why. Here are my completely unedited initial thoughts about this card:

A celebration of building and growth. A time to celebrate, but also to firm up what you've created and prepare for the challenges ahead as you continue to grow. The sun shines down on you; the Universe blesses what you've done so far. This is a time of union: you did not accomplish this alone, you do not celebrate alone, and you will not go through the challenges to come alone. Far greater things await you, and with luck, the sun will continue to light up your way as you make that journey. Keep your inner sun alive: feed your passions, and stay energized! Connect to power sources greater than yourself. High Five! You did good. Your future is looking bright. Up till now, you may not have been sure of what you were doing, or of what the consequences of your choices would be, but you made the right ones anyway, and from now on, you'll operate with much greater clarity, and understanding. You are no longer in the dark, and you have the perspective to understand the results of your actions.

After my initial exploration, I looked up the interpretation given in the little white book that comes with this deck:

Four staves are tied together with generous garlands of flowers; they suggest the stable foundations of a home.

Meanings: Stability of ventures. A new home. Accomplishing goals. Satisfaction. Putting down roots.

I love the more literal layer of interpretation this adds! It's especially relevant because the husband and I have rededicated ourselves to getting our home consistently clean and organized, and then doing more decorating and designing with it to make it a true oasis of our shared life together.

From there, I did a quick google search, and read what www.learntarot.com had to say about this card. I picked a few items from the lists of meaning provided that resonated with me:

-Recognizing success
It's only January, and all the hard work I've put into aerial is already starting to show fruit. I'm so proud of myself, and so thankful for all the help I've had along the way!

-Observing an anniversary, milestone, or special time
In 2015, I'll celebrate my ten year anniversary of being with my husband, and my ten year anniversary of living in NYC, my special home, where my roots drink deep. It is definitely a year for a BIG party! (or two :-D)

-Enjoying some well-deserved rewards
I'm not about to stop working hard and continuing to grow, but I'm definitely ready to celebrate how far I've come!

-Taking part in a ceremony or rite
This year, I hope to continue my healing studies with a few different special ceremonies and rites. I can't wait!

-Opening to new possibilities
Exciting new evolutions are already happening in my career, and I know more changes are on their way!

-Claiming self-determination
Instead of feeling frustrated  when things don't go my way, this year, I take control and remember that though I can't always change situations or other people, I can always change myself.

-Letting go of limits
Limits can look an awful lot like security blankets, but it's time to throw them off and step into the Sun on this beautiful card!

Looking forward expectantly
-So much success and growth awaits me this year! It's time to get excited so I have the energy and motivation to make the most of it!

-Relishing the moment
Even as I look ahead, and celebrate how far I've come, I need to stay in touch with whats happening right now. If it doesn't feel awesome, I'm ready to make changes.

-Being surprised
I feel like I know a whole lot about what this card means, and what 2015 holds for me, but I know I need to be open for whole new layers to emerge that might not be so positive and pretty. Creation, change, release, evolution...the results are awesome, but the process can be tough. I am ready!

After all that, I went back to read my OWN interpretation of this card that I wrote nearly three years ago!! It echoes a lot of the ideas I've already discovered, but adds its own shades of meaning based on the Waite-Smith deck. Check it out here! I'm super excited that my interpretations have stood the test of time, and still feel fresh, relevant, and useful. And I promise, that zine is going to happen when the time is right. ;-)

Do you have interpretations or thoughts to add about this card? Have you picked a card for the year yet? What is it?? Let the Tarot help you access your own deep wisdom this year!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Eating Omily: Tiny Steps, a Second Chance, Nature...and a Guide to Acceptable Bacon

Happy 2015! Was one of your New Year's Resolutions to eat in greater accord with your principles? Don't worry! You don't have to go all crazy-granola at once! Although, fair warning, once you take the first step along that path, it does become a slippery slope, and then you go home to visit your family and find yourself getting shouty in the dairy department of the local big-chain grocery store...(WHY IS THERE NO HEAVY CREAM THAT CONTAINS NOTHING BUT HEAVY CREAM EVEN IN THE ORGANIC SECTION?!?!?!?!) Don't worry, the rage will pass. Just drink a lot! :-)*

But what was I saying? Oh yes! Baby steps! Which you can take! Without drinking-problem-inducing-levels-of-cognotive-dissonence-which-is-totally-healthy-right?! Ok. Just start with this. Eat real food. Take a peak through your pantry, freezer, and fridge. See a lot of boxes? Long lists of ingredients? Don't panic. You don't have to throw it all out right away. Just notice which things you love and eat a lot of, and which things just kind of sit there. Now, consider a closer-to-the-earth alternative for each item that you love.

Fish nuggets a regular staple? Try broiling Farmer's market fresh fish! You can just dredge it in cornmeal, or, (secret tip!!) instant potato flakes, to recreate the crunch you love.

Salsa disappear within days? You can buy that, ready-made in a variety of heat levels, at the Union Square Farmers' Market!

Obsessed with those heat-and-eat breakfast sandwiches to keep you full till lunch time? Bacon or sausage are waiting for you at Flying Pigs Farm, and you can buy artisan buns, baguettes, or tortillas at Bread Alone and Hot Bread Kitchen. Eggs and cheese are easy to find at a variety of vendors!

If the idea of breading your own fish, or assembling your own breakfast sandwich gives you the hives a little bit, then just try one swap out at once. Maybe you stick with familiar English muffins, and pre-grated cheese, but try scrambling your own egg! You can even do this in the microwave. It works particularly well for a sandwich that way.

If one swap is going well a few weeks later, try taking it to the next level, or adding another swap to your repertoire!

And yes, it's ok to decide that some swaps are just not going to work long term. I was super excited to make my own tortillas...for about two weeks. On the other hand, I can make two batches of pizza dough at once, and all the kneading gets done in my food processor in less than two minutes, which means I just need to be around to put it in the freezer after its first rise. Easy! The food processor also makes grating cheese super fast and easy, and I can toss it with a little cornstarch to keep it from sticking together, and then keep it in the fridge or freezer for those days when I want nachos pronto.

Is your head swimming with images of Suzie Homemaker and Laura Ingles Wilder? Ok, here's the thing: when I first got an inkling of how problematic our whole food system is for everyone and everything on the planet, here's what I did:

I chose vegetarian items at restaurants most of the time. Once a week, when I was near the Farmers' Market, I grabbed some basic fruits and veggies that I knew I would have bought anyway.

That's it. Can you handle that? Because that can make a difference.

What I'm saying is, you don't have to make it a badge of honor to do everything in as difficult a fashion as possible. But if you care, it's past time to start putting your money, and your elbow grease, where your mouth is! The planet needs you!

Speaking of money and elbow grease, I got the raddest Eating Omily Christmas present this year from the husband: a Vitamix! That's right! The Lamborghini of blenders! I can throw greens, fruits, milk, cocoa powder, chia seeds, frozen fruit, and ice right in, flip it on for thirty seconds (that's right, THIRTY SECONDS!), and out flows liquid gold: high-nutrition, delicious-tasting green smoothies! Have I told you lately how green smoothies have eased my life? Seriously. I love food. I love cooking, I love eating, I love exploring new flavors...but I'm also really busy, and sometimes putting together a nourishing meal feels overwhelming! Being able to to produce the sustenance I need in five minutes, and then take it with me to sip on the subway has reduced the stress in my life, and increased the vegetables, considerably!
Behold: The Vitamix 6000!!! Or, as my mother named it, the B24 Bomber!
It's not right for everyone of course, and a lot of people push it as a 'diet' or 'weight loss' method when we all know 'weight loss' as an attainable goal, or as a healthy thing to attempt, is complete bullshit**, but if sifting through that approach isn't too much of a trigger for you, I think green smoothies are something worth exploring. You don't need the Lamborghini of blenders: just one that's less than fifty years old, and a little know-how!

Of course, having a blender so powerful it can not only puree a soup, but HEAT IT via the power of friction is pretty cool, and I am beyond pumped to test drive the cocktail and frozen dessert recipes in the Vitamix Creations book...

Whew! Well, let me wrap this up by telling you a story about Nature, about Second Chances, about...Smoothies. Of course.

My step dad recently had a serious heart attack. It took him a while to recover, and his doctors were very clear: his lifestyle had to change. He was resistant to change as we all are, but ultimately, a grim prognosis is a powerful motivator, and he embraced reading labels, and cutting more processed foods out of his diet. Of course, I wish he had asked me for healthy diet advice, instead of the American Heart Association, which is funded in part by McDonalds, and is still pushing an absurd fat-phobic agenda, hence why I found myself reaching for a second mimosa to drown the rage attack when turkey bacon was the only breakfast meat on offer Christmas morning. TURKEYS DO NOT HAVE BACON!!! Anyway...

I still hold out hope for my step dad because I bought him a copy of my favourite healthy smoothie recipe book for Christmas, and together we sampled a few varieties and took notes of the ingredients he liked best over the next few days. Sadly, he killed his blender with his first smoothie attempt without me, but that blender was about fifty years old. Hence the disclaimer regarding the age of the blender earlier. I'm promised to send him our old, only five-years-old, quite serviceable blender ASAP. I'm just so proud of him for diving into the deep end of smoothies with spinach as a main ingredient! That's a far cry from what he was eating before, or from turkey bacon for that matter! He even texted me to ask where he could buy spirulina the other day!

Today was the first good snow I've been around for this Winter, so I took some time to walk in nature, and as always happens, I made some discoveries: in spite of my home being this huge city that people associate with concrete and tall buildings, I have way more opportunities to connect with nature when I'm here. I stopped at Prospect Park Pond, and witnessed a dozen species of bird swimming and feeding, each communicating in its own unique way. It's amazing to me that these birds can survive swimming in the water when temperatures are in the twenties! How do they do it??
A picture from today's Nature Walk. I love the heart in the tree stump! I wish you could hear the ducks all talking to each other.
Well, ducks, geese, and their brethren have something in common with pigs: fat! A lot of it, in a thick layer, close to the skin, overlaying the meat. Which means they have something else in common with pigs: bacon!

That's right! We've come full circle! Turkeys do not have bacon, but ducks do!

Hallelujah! There's hope for all of us!

*I can even laugh a little at the horrific added ingredients in all the heavy cream everywhere in Mansfield, Ohio! Ha. Ok, that's enough.

** Of course, eating nutritious foods, and exercising regularly are super healthy things that benefit everyone, and for some people who haven't been doing them before, starting to do them may result in weight loss (which statistically speaking will not likely stick around even if the good habits do), and there's nothing unhealthy about THAT. It's SEEKING weight loss, vs. seeking a healthier lifestyle, that's problematic, bad for you, and nothing but a huge cash cow for companies peddling snake oil to make it happen.

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Approach to a New Year: 2015

It's a New Year! How awesome is that?? I hope you were able to celebrate by shaking your booty (or I guess not if that's not something you're in to, but seriously??) with people you love!

Now it's time to get down to business. What rituals do you embrace to help you make the most out of the New Year?

New Years Resolutions are popular, and can be a great choice, but a lot of us have been burned by them and are looking for alternatives. There's a few I'm excited to take part in this year, and I wanted to share them with you, too:

30 Day Yoga Challenge!

Looking to access all the benefits you know a regular practice brings? Get it with the help of Om Factory! If you live in the NYC area, you can get a punch card, and get a punch for each day this month that you take a class! Maybe you won't make every single day, but trust me: the validation of that little hole punch will get you in the door more often, and if you make all thirty(-one?) days, you can join your Yoga Challenge Partners to party Omily in early February! Rad! Check out their schedule at www.omfactorynyc.com.

If you don't live in the area, you can participate online by posting pictures of your yoga practice with the hashtag, #OF30dyc. Participants in the online challenge will be entered into a drawing to win a pair of K.A.T. leggings! These leggings are designed and handmade in NYC by an amazing artist and teacher. I bought a pair for an aerial piece, and I am obsessed with them!!! Here are a couple pictures of me rocking a particularly excited pair in my performance. She also offers more laid back styles if that's your thing (but again, seriously??). If you can't wait to see if you're a winner to get your hands on them, just go grab a pair at her website: http://www.katschamens.com/index.htm
I mean, damn, don't you want a metallically gleaming butt? No?! Seriously??
New Year's Theme!

Resolutions are tough. Either they're vague and we don't know how to make them happen, or they're specific, but overly ambitious so we get discouraged when they don't happen, or we have a long list of attainable ones and then we forget most of them. Oops. Enter the inspiring Emmeline Chang!

She came up with the idea to focus on a theme for the year, instead of resolutions, when she herself was struggling with resolutions, but knew she had a challenging year ahead. The idea is that you figure out what emotion or energy you need to carry you through the year toward your goals. Read Emmeline's article for more information, and detailed steps for choosing your own theme!

http://emmelinechang.com/2014/01/create-your-theme-for-2014/

Tarot Card for the Year!

This is similar to having a theme for the year, and it's something I like to do every year in addition to resolutions, and this year, some of these new inspiring ideas. If you aren't yet a tarot student/reader, but are intrigued by it, this is a great way to get your feet wet. Get your hands on a deck, and no, it doesn't have to be a gift from someone, shuffle up, close your eyes, open your heart (and your third eye), and pick a card.

Before you get all excited googling every possible interpretation, especially if you're new to the tarot, take your time and write down whatever thoughts and impressions you have of the card. Take your time to really see all the images in the card, and write down your associations with those things. Think about people or animals that you see, colors that your eye is drawn to, small objects and subtle details that you didn't notice at first glance...THEN google away! You'll come away with tons of information about challenges that await you, and special gifts you can use to rock 2015.

Make a Rememberlutions Jar!

Thanks, Buzzfeed! Every now and then you really hit one out of the park.

This article offers an alternative to New Years resolutions that, instead of focusing on all the things you haven't done yet and hope to accomplish, invites you to celebrate all you DID accomplish, regardless of what you thought you wanted to accomplish back in January. It's pretty simple, and you can start now: find a jar, decorate it as you wish, and every time you do something kick-ass, or compassionate, or anything else that makes you proud, write it down, and stick it in the jar. On December 31st, you'll have a year's worth of incredible moments to remind you of what an amazing person you are, BEFORE you start listing all the stuff you're 'supposed' to do the next year. I am TOTALLY doing this. I feel like I need a specific one just for aerial, where my evil inner critic always comes out.

Check out all the details here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/alannaokun/im-so-im-so-proud-of-you#.pjgQBJl74

Think you'll latch on to any of these ideas? All of the above?? Go for old fashioned resolutions? Go for it! It's 2015! It's your shiny, brand-spankin' new year, and it's up to you to make it YOURS! :-D I'll be back in my next few blogposts to share my Tarot Card of the Year, my Theme for 2015, and maybe even my Rememberlutions jar! Keep an eye out for me on the #OF30dyc hashtag on twitter, too! If you have your own inspiring ideas to make the most of 2015, share them in the comments! The more ideas the merrier!

Let's do it!!! Kick fear in the teeth!

Live Omily,
~em