Thank You

I want to write a thank you letter to the world. In the past few days/weeks, the outpouring of love and support has made this unexpected injury and “time out” a gift rather than a nightmare.

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Abby’s 5 Essential Cookbooks

**This post is inspired by‘s series of “5 Essential Cookbooks”.**

Living in small urban apartments with even tinier kitchens, my cookbook collection has to be kept pretty small. If a cookbook is going to enter the house, it has to be both inspiring and useful. I like books that have good advice on what to actually DO with food, rather than a collection of glossy pages with overstylized displays.

These are the ones I return to day after day, week after week for inspiration, instruction and delicious food.

Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook: The classic red and white plaid cover is a classic all its own. This was one of the first cookbooks I ever had. I think my parent’s gave me a copy when I got my first apartment. It has everything from how to hard boil an egg (the most used/dog-eared page) to fancier, classic dishes. It’s also a great reference for substitutions and conversion, which are always useful!

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” books are the best reference tools out there. There’s a good reason why there’s one of them on pretty much everyone’s shelf. It’s an amazing reference tool and full of interesting twists on every type of veggie and legume imaginable. When I see a new fruit or veggie at the farmer’s market, this is my go to book for figuring out what to do with it.

Clean Food: Love this way this is organized by season, with fresh recipes and lots of inspiration. This is a new book for me, so I’m still exploring it, but so far everything I’ve made from it has been absolutely delicious!

Veganomicon: Pretty sure this is the pinnacle of vegan cooking right here and even though I’m not vegan, I’ve cooked pretty much everything out of this book at least twice. Every recipe is stellar and the substitution guide for making other recipes vegan friendly is indispensable.

Delicious/Pinterest: Not traditional cookbooks, but I use these two platforms for bookmarking, tagging and saving lots of recipes. Delicious has better search functionality, but Pinterest is making a strong showing with it’s great graphics.

What are your 5 essentials?

A Month in Books: March 2012

Spring has a way of sneaking up on you and stealing all your time. For me, it’s blogging time. What little I had is now even less.

Where am I?

Between 9 and 5 I’m working, after 5 I’m teaching, and after teaching I’m sleeping. Sandwiched somewhere in between, I still read. Lunch hours, bus rides and the precious few minutes before I zonk out at night I sneak in a few pages. Luckily, I’ve hit a really great run of wonderful books and authors. It’s almost as though Karma is acknowledging what little reading time I have and gifting my with some fantastic stories and characters to make up for it.

How do you sneak in those quiet moments for reading (or other leisure-pleasure) activities when life gets busy?

Here’s March … a little late, but really good!
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Text Neck

texting image via shutterstock

Text Neck is apparently THE new thing.

Apartment Therapy had a recent article about “text neck“, that slouching, slumping motion of the head and neck from constant texting/game playing/use of handheld devices.  On the heels of Apartment Therapy, Lo over at Y is for Yogi has a great post on some yoga poses to counteract text neck.

In addition to all the other great suggestions to fix text neck, I wanted to throw in my two cents (of course).

Here are some simple yoga poses to help relieve the symptoms. You don’t even need to get out of your desk chair, the couch or the bus seat to do them.
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Mirror Mirror

When I practice yoga at home or in the studio, there are no mirrors. I love not having mirrors around as I’m a person who is  easily distracted by visuals.  I embody the “OOOH SHINY Syndrome” at its finest.

It was disconcerting at first when I borrowed a practice space the other day at a local gym, just to have a place to rock out on my mat for a bit, and I found myself surrounded by mirrors. Yikes! So much potential for distraction, was my immediate thought.

Sneaking peeks at myself in the mirror, what I noticed is that I have come a long way in my physical practice. I know that getting too caught up in the way the poses look physically is a very, very bad idea, but I couldn’t help giving myself a little pat on the back. The mirrors gave visual affirmation to what I’ve been feeling: I am getting stronger and more flexible.

At the same time, I knew with a visceral knowing that underneath the skin and muscles and bone, I am so much stronger in spirit, more flexible and courageous than my physical body shows. That the internal mirror of my yoga mat reflects far more truth back at me than a polished, shiny object. This purple sticky mirror, where I pour out my heart and sweat, shows me every moment where I am growing and where I still have work to do. This is the mirror that reminds me to breathe and to explore and to be aware … and doesn’t remind me that my hair looks horrific or that I have an epic wedgie.

** I still think my chaturanga looked pretty cool, though 🙂 **

A Month in Books: February 2012

Not a lot volume-wise for February, but quite a bit better in quality. Only one real stinker. The rest, a mix of romance, mystery and literary fiction kept me one very happy and interested reader.

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Why I Teach

About a year into teaching and reading “yoga books” I stumbled across a quote from Judith Lasater in Living Your Yoga that has by turns puzzled and inspired me.  Judith says,

“I teach for myself and practice for my students.”

Back in April of 2010, when I first blogged about that quote, I didn’t quite get it. I knew the words were important (obviously, as they have stuck in my subconscious for the past two years!) but I wasn’t sure if they were true for me. Instead, the reverse was reality: I practiced for myself and I taught for my students. My time on my mat was for me and my time in front of the class was for them. Yet those words stayed in the back of my brain for 22 months, germinating and waiting to blossom.

It was during a sunny, winter morning home practice when it finally clicked what Judith was talking about. It was a subltle but major internal shift as I worked a little deeper into a tall twist.

My practice is ALL ABOUT my students.

I practice for them. I practice so that I can be the best teacher I can be. When I teach, that time is for me, to speak from my heart to my heart … and if I’ve got a solid practice behind it, that heart is wide open with every opportunity to connect to the five, ten, fifteen, sometimes twenty-five or more hearts in the room.

Teaching is when I find my grace. When faith and trust in my own ability to heal surfaces. It’s frightening and wonderful gift. Judith, you are so spot on!!

My practice is for my students.

My teaching is for me.