Day in the Life

Restorative Yoga

Curves & Carrots Part II Headers (31).png

Restorative yoga is a form of yoga that seeks to find physical, mental and emotional relaxation.  There are props oh so many props, bolsters, blankets, blocks and many more.  I have been participating in several restorative yoga classes, usually when I am feeling extra stressed and have the need to be soothed. I have never left one of these classes feeling unfulfilled. I'm always glad that I went.

So, it was with some delight and trepidation that I was asked to be a regular teacher of a restorative class on a Sunday afternoon.  I said yes of course, then silently inside had a panic attack.  I have never taught one of these classes before and having a regular gig was just a little intimidating.

Thank goodness, I found a 30-hour training locally, what a godsend!  This training is giving me a framework for developing classes and learning more of the philosophy of this type of yoga.

relax.png

I have always said there are two prerequisites for doing restorative yoga, that is breathing and lying down!  But it is so much more, it’s about surrendering and enlightenment. In some of the faster paced yoga classes like Vinyasa and Hatha it’s about finding your edge and staying there.  Restorative is the complete opposite of this, it’s about finding your comfort level and relaxing using props or feeling support of the ground beneath you, it’s about meditation and slowing down in our fast-paced lives.

So off I went to teach my first class.  90 minutes…...whaaat!!  That’s an awfully long time to fill.  I had spent days putting together just the right mediation, researching restorative poses like a PhD student.

I was a bag of nerves when I arrived at the yoga studio, everything had to be right, the lighting, the music, the temperature of the room.

People started wandering in to take the class, yikes this is really happening I thought to myself.  We all got settled, I took a deep breath, invited everyone to close their eyes and started with a soothing meditation.  It was at that moment when I relaxed, threw all my expectations out of the window and decided just to be, just be present in the moment with my students and with myself.

The 90 minutes went by with comforting poses, feelings of trust and clarification and a deep support of the poses that were presented.  I felt like I was in my element, I had found my thing, and I was and am eternally grateful that all went well.

Now onto developing the next class and hopefully many more.

Things That Made Me Happy This Fall

Curves & Carrots Part II Headers (28).png
  • Cooler days, and even cooler evenings.
  • The smell of leaves falling and autumn coming.
  • Walking Toby around the reservoir.
  • Incredible week of traveling, shopping, & watching movies with my wonderful goddaughter Ruth.
  • An amazing two days in DC, years since I’ve been and it was wonderful to discover it again.
  • The Newseum in DC, what a wonderful presentation.  Favorite bit, Pulitzer Prize winning photos, dramatic, and beautifully disturbing.
  • Celebrating a family birthday Hubby had a great day/
  • Leaving for Seville to see Jenny and Elliot, what a trip of a lifetime that turned out to be!
  • Exploring Seville by foot, bike and bus. Such an ancient city, so rich in history.
  • Discovering what Tapas really is.  Introducing ourselves to real sangria.
  • Developing a daily espresso and gelato habit!
  • Exploring the cathedral and being in awe of the Christopher Columbus monument there. 

Sevilla, Part II

Curves & Carrots Part II Headers (27).png
alter.png

Oh, so much to do and so little time - that was the biggest problem we had while in Seville.  The city is not that large and it is packed with ancient artifacts, which means we walked (a lot) and around every corner we did that gasping “wow”.

angie1.png

One of my favorite things about these deeply historic European cities is that you may find on a tiny little cobbled street a pair of huge shabby oak doors and then you open them up and you find this dazzling church inside complete with priceless art, beautiful stonework and an indulgent alter.

 

 

 

Life at home can get frenetic and one of the things I love about getting away is it changes your perspective.  It gives you a chance to take a breath about those huge issues that are really small issues that are bothering you.  Heck, you can’t do anything about it from three thousand miles away.  I had not felt this chilled and relaxed in a long time.

gelato.png

 

 

The gelato is so delicious.  I think I ate my weight in it during my trip.  There are gelato stores EVERYWHERE, so it’s just too easy to pick up a scoop several times a day.  I gave myself a challenge to try every flavor, I just may have succeeded. 

 

I managed to pick up a cooking class while in Seville.  It was so well organized and a wonderful experience.  The meeting point was in a local market and the first hour of the class involved searching for the ingredients we would need for the menu.

paella.png

Then we went back to the cooking classroom and started cooking.  We made gazpacho, creamed spinach and chick peas, but my favorite was making paella from scratch.  The whole process took about 2 hours (but did not feel that long because they kept us well supplied with sangria).  From making the chicken stock from the carcass, to deboning a chicken the right way, to just the right amount of saffron and how you toast and crush it, to the adding of the rice at the end. 

Little known facts.

  • When you add the rice do not do not stir it.
  • You simmer the paella until there is almost no liquid left and there is a crust on the bottom.
  • If you order paella at a restaurant and it takes less than 30 minutes to come out, it is not paella!!!

I think one of my favorite times in Seville was at night.  The locals all disappeared in the afternoon to miss the heat of the day (sensible people) but at about 8pm everyone appeared, the tapas bars were hopping, children were playing in the plaza, the light began to fade just enough that there is an ethereal glow over everything especially those ancient buildings.

cathedral.png

This is the cathedral, which has a mixture of Roman, Arabian and Catholic influences.  If you climb the tower (which I have) you will not find any steps, just lots of ramps…in case you want to ride your horse to the top…. which I did not!

angie2.png

We were sad to leave but did so with many happy memories of spending time with Jenny and Elliot and exploring yet another striking and ancient city with a hope that we will return one day.

Things That Made Me Happy This Summer

Curves & Carrots Part II Headers (25).png
quilt.png

Quilting.  I transformed our formal living room (for goodness sake who uses that anymore)  into my sewing room. It is the perfect space for a sewing desk and cutting table, an ironing board, a couch and many many completed quilts and a whole lot of whimsy.

Wet weather happy flowers.  It rained…a lot.  But I do not mind the rain, as long as I am watching it from the inside.  And yes, it was a bummer not to be able to get out too much (Insert sad face here from Toby).  But my flowers absolutely loved it, I have never seen them looking this great at this point in the season.

Longwood Gardens and its fountain display…with fire (how do they do that?). Last renovation of the fountains was in the 1930’s so you know this was going to be good.  All the amazing fountain displays are synched to a soundtrack. We went to the Beatles night (really good) and the Jazz night (even better).  I could do a whole post on Longwood Gardens. It's in the south of Philly with Italian Water Gardens, massive tree houses and just acres and acres of manicured flower beds.  Oh, and the beer garden, cannot forget the beer garden.

Walking Toby (when it was not raining). Seeing the pure joy on his face as he chases (and misses) squirrels and bunnies although he did catch a couple of ground hogs.  I never regret taking him on a walk.

Farmers Markets. Got to love that local organic produce.  My favorite this summer was the honey guy.  All the different flavors of his honey are yummy and I invested in some Royal Jelly Pollen which is a superfood and is tasteless so can go in tea, coffee, on your cereal, in your yogurt whatever you chose.  The anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties of bee pollen are off the charts.

Seeing Joe and Chelsea and hiking a beautiful mountain.  Climbing to the top of a mountain is physically and metaphorically thrilling.

Becoming a 2-dog family... even if it is for just 2 weeks.

Going to the movies.  We saw Dunkirk, this is very much a British film about 400,00 troops that got stuck on the beach in France and could not get home because they were pinned in on all sides by the enemy.  So, a flotilla of small fishing boats from UK harbors came and saved thousands of young soldiers.  Very moving and worth a viewing when it comes to On Demand.

Face timing with Elliot and Jenny and planning our visit to Seville to see them.

Teaching yoga – I have been hugely intimidated about teaching yoga.  Teaching kids can be a breeze (if it were not too crazy) and they do not care if you are doing it right or not because they have no idea.  But when I teach adults I want to give them a quality product that they paid for.  I have been subbing for the gym where I belong and getting over the nerves was not as bad as I thought it would be.  Rather, teaching is a joy and I am finding my yoga voice (it’s a thing!).  I look forward to teaching much more and developing as a yoga teacher.

Trying out some new workouts Pilates and Body Pump – which by the way hurt so you know it’s going to be difficult to walk the next day.  But you know what they say, no pain no gain.

And so, my summer was full and eventful. 

Until the next time, 

Angie 

Goddaughter Week

So, I have collected quite a few goddaughters in life.  A job I take very seriously in terms of keeping in touch with them and (attempting) to be a positive influence in their lives (sometimes easier than others with my wacky personality). 

It has become a wonderful event to have these girls come visit on their own for a week or two.  I have known these girls since they were babies and now to reacquaint myself with them as they are now young adults is a really special adventure for both of us.

Emily, Catherine and Sarah have already been on their trips and it was truly a magical and a distinctive event to spend that one on one time with them and get to know them as the amazing young adults they have developed into.

The most recent goddaughter week was Ruth.  Born a week apart from Elliot and the daughter of a very dear friend, we got to spend many, many hours together even though it was hard for Ruth and her family being in the UK and us being in the USA.  Somehow it was not too hard to stay in touch.

I loved watching Ruth develop from a small baby (gosh she was so shy) to a child to a preteen and now to a young adult (who is not at all shy!). Watching her grow up was just a joy.  To say she is rocking, it is an understatement.

I planned the whole week out with FUN in mind.  This is what we got up to: 

  • M Day – Manicures, Massage, Mall – one of many necessary shopping trips.  Retail therapy and all that.
  • Sculpture Garden tour – this turned out to be an epic fail as the heavens opened and it pelted with rain all day.  We licked our wounds, ran to the store to get popcorn and then settled in for a movie marathon.
  • Trip to DC - this was the highlight of the trip.  Ruth had never been and it’s been years since I was there so we wanted to pack it all in. Here are a few things we did.
ruth.png

 

This is us standing in front of the Whitehouse.  We had hoped to get to as close to the South lawn as we could to get some good pics but the whole area was cordoned off by the secret service (why do they not smile when you ask them a question – so rude). So this is as far as we got.  It turns out President Trump was going to his weekend retreat and so he took off in Marine 1 (his helicopter) which we saw so that was a small (very small) compensation.

 

 

 

The Newsuem, new one to me, opened in 2007. This is a strong recommendation if you are in the DC area.  It was amazing, we were there for 2 hours only because we had other things on our wish list but we could have stayed there considerably longer.  So much stuff in there about news history and how news is made and broadcast but our favorites were the legacy of JFK and the gallery of Pulitzer Prize winning photos from journalists, outstanding, emotional provoking and some that just highlighted the injustice of so many.  We may have shouted…. on the inside!!

congress.png

The Library of Congress, must be one of my favorite places to visit.  Not only is the rotunda (the place where they keep all the book stuff) outstanding, but the architecture and the mosaics are spectacular.  Little known fact, we had lunch in the basement of the Capitol and we found a secret (well not so secret) tunnel to the Library of Congress that not many people find and we felt like we were in a Dan Brown book as we went on our adventure.

The Lincoln Memorial, we walked miles to get here but it was totally worth it.  The workmanship in the building is intricate and seeing Lincoln in that huge scale was truthfully inspiring.

We were weary but extremely saturated by American history (in a good way) when we got home.

The next day Hubby took over as I had lots and lots of papers to grade.  They went on an impressive 30-mile bike ride and they came back suitably exhausted and sun kissed, much fun was had by all.

The last day we went to a National Quilt Show, an event I have been looking forward to for months and it was so lovely that Ruth was here to share it with me.

All the way there I was shouting in my head “restraint Angie, show restraint”

As soon as I got there that went out the window!  So many beautiful fabrics and so many gadgets for quilting that I do not know how I lived without.

goddaughters.png

I did come away with some gorgeous fabrics that I am very excited to turning into something beautiful and several knickknacks that I have no idea how I have lived without.

And then it was the last day (insert sad emoji face here).  We had a good sleep in, to help with Ruth’s overnight flight, and of course did one more trip to the mall for the last-minute needs/necessities/ok I just want it cause it's shiny.

I hope this trip was memorable for Ruth because for me it was a joy and a delight every single day.  Because of the 3000 miles between us not sure when we will meet face to face again but this is one girl (like all the other goddaughters) where FB messaging will be on overdrive.

Thank you, Ruth, so much for coming! 

Visiting Seville (Part I)

Curves & Carrots Part II Headers (23).png
seville.png

Jenny and Elliot are currently living in Seville and because we live vicariously through our children we planned a trip for late September thinking that the temps would be perfect (we were wrong - still insanely hot), and the city would be bright and beautiful (we were right on that one). With over 300 days of sunshine we knew it would be a trip of a lifetime and we were not disappointed.

Seville is in the Andalusia part of Spain and is famous for its food, hospitality and flamenco dancing (more of that in Part 2).

jennyel.png

So many old old buildings. I mean 5th Century onwards with a prominent gothic style which we love.  Seville also has a large bull fighting arena (which we did not go to) and a great deal of Moorish buildings, which when the Moors abandoned their mosques, the Christians took them over and made them very Catholic and they were very, very beautiful inside and out.

Yes, the place was stunning but the biggest joy was spending time with these two.

Found a random cow that needed a kiss right after we found a Starbucks where I could get a decent cup of Earl Grey tea (deep joy).

Fish markets were everywhere. These were kinda creepy langoustines and all the crab, scallops and shrimp looked amazing but…. sigh…. due to my severe shellfish allergy, I could not touch any of them.  And yes, I go everywhere with my EpiPen and my stash of Benadryl.

angiewcow.png
fishmarket.png

We went to Cadiz which is thought to be the oldest town in Europe.  It has over 150 watch towers and we climbed the tallest one to get this view.  I guess they wanted to see their enemies coming in every direction. 

cadiz.png

The day we were there, there was weird choir festival going on in front of the cathedral.  I would not say they were good but they were very colorful.

When we visit our kids it’s such a special time to get to know them better as young adults and these two are as much joined at the hip as they were when Elliot was younger. It is such a special thing to see a child and parent not only respect but like each other.

We made it to the beach and explored some of the outstanding architecture in Seville.  More to come in Part II. 

Until next time, 

Angie

 

 

Where the Heck Have I Been?

Curves & Carrots Part II Headers (19).png

Been MIA for a while from the blogging world - a combination of some serious writer’s block, finishing a semester with a lot of very intense children’s yoga lessons (can you imagine 20 kids doing the Very Hungry Caterpillar yoga!), and the beginning of summer where my mind and my body was begging me to breathe, be still and so, I did.

But I’m back. Life has been full and fulfilling in the meantime.

We went to New Hampshire to spend time with the lovely Joe and Chelsea and climb some mountains.  On this day the sky was so clear we could see Canada in one direction and Maine in the other.

 

We said goodbye to Elliot and Jenny, who had been home for 10 weeks (oh how I loved having them here).  They have embarked on their next adventure to Seville, Spain via Portugal. They are having a ball. We Facetime a lot.

We took lots of beautiful walks around the reservoir and because the spring and summer have been so wet (oh when will it ever stop raining?) everything is very lush and green.

We took some day trips.  This one is to Longwood Gardens - my happy place, acres and acres of gardens full of flowers and fountains. 

And the adventures continue, some wonderful things planned in September including a trip to Seville to see Elliot and Jenny.  A trip to New Hampshire to do more hiking and spend time with Joe and Chelsea and a fun visit from one of my special god-daughters, Ruth. (I have several and they are all special!)

Until the next time,

Angie 

Meet Toby

I was recently asked to write a blog post for the dog site: Mattie & Margot (www.mattieandmargot.com). I have written about Toby before, my trusty Vizsla with a huge personality.  But I thought it was worth putting him on the blog again. Enjoy meeting Toby (again!). 

Toby is our 4-year-old Vizsla who I am convinced is more boy than dog.  Toby arrived into our lives shortly after we lost our beloved Golden Retriever, Biggles.  I am convinced that Biggles chose Toby for us.  Biggles was my soul mate dog who stayed by my side through many dark times.  Four months after he died and I was still doing the ugly cry. My hubby threw me in the car one day and took me to a rescue.  Toby came home with us and has been one of the centers of my life ever since.

Here's Toby. Those eyes are deep and full of wisdom. 

He is a very active and playful dog.  He just loves the snow! 

We have a grown son who lives in New Hampshire and Toby’s favorite thing to do when we visit is to hike a mountain. When he gets to the top there is much celebrating. 

Toby loves, loves, loves to have an ice cream. God help anyone - man or dog who comes between him and his ice cream. He is famous for the silent snarl, but the show of teeth leaves no one in doubt about his intention, “You touch my ice cream, I'll get you!"

We are a British family living in the States, came here 24 years ago for Hubby’s job.  We love living state side, we have had so much fun living here and in many ways I feel much more America than I do British.  Except on July 4th, then my patriotism for the UK comes out strong.  Apparently, Toby feels the same way

My standard phrase on July 4th is: "We could have won you know, we only sent 10,000 soldiers." Apparently this does not go down very well, but the neighbors understand that the house and the dog will be all decked out with Union Jacks on Independence Day!

Toby also has a special relationship with my youngest son, Elliot. When they are together they are really stuck like glue.  Neither of them seem to mind this predicament.

Toby is such a sensitive dog who has a special relationship with his dog owners. This can cause some serious separation anxiety and he can be a little, let’s say, defensive if he feels an approaching dog may not be friendly. He does not really give them a chance…does that good ole silent snarl for good luck.  He is so sensitive I thought we would train together as a service dog and partner.  All was going well until he did his famous silent snarl to all the participating dogs and we were asked (very kindly) to leave.  Being expelled from class, not our proudest moment.

So, this is my Toby, he is my shadow, my Velcro dog with all his faults and nuances.  I cannot imagine life without him, he brings joy, love and many doggie messes, like sticks in the house, the odd dead squirrel (not kidding!) and an abundance of energy.

We would not have it any other way!

I Really Like Flowers

I am not much or a horticulturist. I consider myself a keen beginner because I rarely know the name of a plant. Instead, I know a plant based off its color, shape and its ability not to be eaten by deer. This is a big problem in my neighborhood and I swear those deer think there is a buffet waiting for them at our house!

We had a very, very rainy May but now we are in June and the sun is shining. I have been able to get outside and put the finishing touches on my pots and flower beds.

This is what my front door looks like - I am particularly pleased with it this year. Marigolds are always a great choice, they are relatively cheap and withstand the heat well.

I do have a decent number of star gazer lilies around and the deer love to munch on them, but if I spray them with something called Guard Off, which is the delightful mixture of coyote and cat urine (yum) they seem to survive.

There is a famous poem by A. A. Milne (of Winnie The Pooh fame) called Delphinium Blue and Geranium Red.

There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed
Of delphiniums blue and geraniums red,
And all the day long he'd a wonderful view.

So, I felt the need to replicate.

Could not find a dormouse but Gnorman the Gnome will be a good replacement for right now!

And last but not least, a pot of fragrant lavender is always a huge win. This is my sanctuary where I sit and reflect, meditate and enjoy tea.

I hope you all are blessed to have a special place of beauty, too. 

Until next time, 

Angie 

 

Food and Festivals

It’s been pretty quiet around here.  Hubby had a 3-week business adventure in Paris (I know, feel bad for him) and as a result, unintentionally, I stayed close to home.  But things have gotten a little more interesting since hubby got back stateside.

During the weekend, we decided to check out a Chinese Lantern Festival in Philly.  A couple of years ago we were in Seoul, Korea and their lantern festival was amazing so we were eager to get the experience again.

It was pretty cool, but a little small so I think we felt somewhat cheated for our $17 entrance fee, especially as the one in Korea was so much more elaborate. It was a nice night to be out and wander around China Town.

Shifting gears - Interesting fact, still doing the raw food thing and normally this time of year I am severely afflicted with Springtime allergies, but this year not so much as a moist eye.  The only difference I can think of is that I am eating so much raw local fruits and veggies, which is desensitizing my usual malady.

This time of year, there are so many yummy seasonal fruits and veggies it is not hard to get variety in my diet.

The rest of my life seems to be yoga, teaching yoga, teaching nurse education and if I have time, reading and cooking, not such a bad way to spend my time!

Until next time, 

Angie