December 27, 2009

Is Resolution a Dirty Word?

In the past few years I have come to dislike the word 'Resolution'. Basically a resolution is just a declaration of one's determination to do or not do something. Common examples are to Quit Smoking and Start Exercising however when we make it a "Resolution" we often give up after one or two slips. The word resolution seems to have an 'all or nothing' feel to it.

So this year I invite you to set Goals and Intentions. Keep them small, simple, and set realistic time lines. Whatever your goals are step back and make sure that you're setting yourself up to succeed. Is it too much too soon? Is it a goal you truly want for yourself or is it being determined by an external pressure? Are you giving yourself enough time to take a few steps back and then move forward again?

I have various goals for this year but there are two that I will share.

First Goal: Play my guitar. I was teaching myself for awhile and then it got tucked in the corner. I love playing and teaching myself however if I don't use it someone else can. I don't have to be rock star and I don't have to share my playing with anyone else. However if I am not using the lovely instrument I have then it's time to let someone else. My intention is to practice playing 3-4 times a week. The goal is if I haven't learned one simple song (right now I am thinking Untouchable Face by Ani Di Franco) by the end of March then I will sell or donate the guitar.

Second Goal: Complete my first duathlon. I have made it easy on myself and picked a mini-du out for this coming May. I don't need to beat any time goals but I have to finish and I have to enjoy it. Part of enjoying the race will be training properly for it, after all injury or drudging through isn't fun. Registration opens in January and I will register and set my intention to complete this goal.

So that's my two cents. Whether you choose to use the word resolution, goal, or intention keep in mind they should all be reasonable, they should be achievable, and they should be important and personal for you.

Love Each Day.

December 21, 2009

Recipe Review: Power Scones

I love scones but they tend to be high in fat. When I discovered this recipe years ago in Shape Magazine I was delighted. The scones are still delicious but lower in fat and you can make them in smaller portion sizes than a standard scone. I like these particularly around the busy holiday times. They're great for a light breakfast with the family, as a gift, or to grab on the go.

1 2/3c all-purpose flour
3/4c rolled old-fashioned oats
1/3c sugar
1/3c whole wheat pastry flour
2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
6tbsp butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1/3c lowfat buttermilk
2lg eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
additional buttermilk for glazing
4tsp brown sugar mixed with 1/2tsp ground cinamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Pulse dry ingredients in a blender until the oats are finely ground (I tend to throw in an additional teaspoon of cinnamon in the batter, it gives a little more flavor). Transfer to a large bowl. Rub in butter until the mixture forms a coarse meal.
In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour over oat mixture. Using a fork, toss until a moist dough just forms. Turn out onto a floured sugace and pat into a 7in circle. Cut into 8 wedges and arrange 1/2in apart on baking sheet.

Glaze scones by brushing lightly with buttermilk. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake 18min, until scones puff and are pale golden.

December 16, 2009

Mindful Giving: Homemade Holiday Treats for Dogs

A few times a year I make my little guy some homemade dog treats. He loves them so that's huge incentive. I also love baking but this way I don't get stuck with dozens of cupcakes or cookies. In the past I have given the treats to my friends and family with dogs and they're always well received and appreciated. Whether put in simple container with a bow or a fancy dish they always make a good impression. I've been using this recipe for about ten years now and received it from a family member, so I can't cite the original source.

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet.
In a large bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, cornmeal and salt. Mix in the oil, egg and water to make a soft dough that is not too sticky. You may add more flour if needed. Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Flatten slightly. (or you can roll dough out and use a cookie cutter).

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until nicely browned and firm. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

December 7, 2009

Review: Mountain Hardwear's Mistral Jacket

Mistral Jacket

When the weather began to cool I knew I needed a new piece of outerwear for my bike commute, outdoor adventures, and every day life. I wanted something that had room for a couple under layers but wasn't bulky and it had to be wind resistant. After a bit of research online and hitting the real life store I selected the Mountain Hardwear Mistral Jacket.

The Mistral had everything I was looking for. It is a close fit without being tight and it keeps out the wind. The zipper pockets are roomy and have a nice soft lining for warming my hands. The sleeve pocket is also helpful for keeping lip balm, ID, and other small items. What sealed the deal is the incredibly soft fleece. I feel like I am wrapped in a blanket however the articulated sleeves and women's cut also allow for full range of motion.

Now unfortunately our temperatures have dropped below freezing this last week. I was worried that my Mistral would have to go into the closet for a bit in lieu of my Columbia Bugaboo 3-in-1. While the Bugaboo has served me well the fleece inner layer is white which tends to show wear quickly and it also feels bulky. I feel like the little brother in The Christmas Story when I wear it (click here for a visual aid). Then I realized my Mistral is compatible to zip in to the Bugaboo or any other Trifecta System compatible shell. I love it even more now!

The Mistral is a great jacket that can take you year round. From the cool nights of summer to the cold temps of winter (paired with the right shell) the Mistral is a great all around jacket.

December 2, 2009

Book Review: Cirque Du Soleil The Spark Created by Lyn Heward and written by John U. Bacon

My interest in Aerial Dance began with my first Cirque Du Soleil experience. Quidam was their first touring show to come to Denver. It was the most amazing feeling watching the performers and being caught up in their magic. I have been to each touring show that has come to Denver since then. Six different shows in all and each time I feel a sense of awe and inspiration. After delving into Aerial basics and realizing how hard it truly is, I had more respect for the artists and wanted to know how do they keep that spirit alive and how can I incorporate that feeling in my daily life. Apparently I was not alone.

I came across a wonderful, yet quick read, called Cirque du Soleil: The Spark - Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives within Us All. Created by Lyn Heward and written by John U. Bacon the book details how one Sports Marketing Agent turns to Cirque Du Soleil to reignite the fire in his career and other aspects of his life.

While taking a sabbatical from work, Frank tags along with one of his athletes and she begins the training program to see if she has what it takes to be a member of Cirque Du Soleil. During that time Frank stays at the artists' residence and goes through various trials of his own. His education and training are not limited to the performance elements but set design, costuming, make-up, marketing, and so much more. Frank learns how every member of Cirque from the receptionist and chefs to the performers and directors play pivotal roles. Without each individual spark there would not be a fire.

As Frank talks with each of his guides on the journey he, and the reader, pick up key lessons. These simple ideas can be brought to each of our lives. Some of my favorites are:

"Constraints on time, money, and resources can be motivators! Some of our most inspired ideas have arisen from the most Spartan situations."

"Most people hate deadlines. It hasn't occurred to them they can be a good thing"

"To relax I go hang gliding....When I jump off a cliff I cannot think about anything else now, can I? The world below melts away."

"You don't have to be an athlete or an artist to reinvent your life, your work, or your world."

Whether your curious about being behind the scenes at Cirque Du Soleil or you've been looking for a kick to revamp and evolve your life this book is an excellent read. Also a great holiday gift for someone ready to reclaim their own spark.