Category Archives: Birthday

Simply Yoga: Week 2


I’m ashamed to say it. I skipped beginner yoga week 2. Gasp! I know, I know. What a hypocrite. But, before you start judging me, let me tell you why I missed yoga week 2.

A birthday night out in Philly for my sister! That’s a good excuse, right? Especially when my yoga studio is an hour and half away. Or, if I’m stuck in Philly traffic, which has the uncanny ability to bring out the ugly in me, three hours :).

Mad Mex for dinner and margaritas. Apple cider margarita? Yes please! Doesn’t the birthday girl look awesome?

Painful feet after a night out. Quite a quick picture recap. Mainly b/c we’ve got yoga to review!

Dedicated student that I am, I felt the need to make up for my absence in my beginner yoga workshop. What’s a better remedy to my lack of attendance, than to review last week’s session? Okay, enough justification — let’s get started. Beginner yoga fans, read on for your Sunday yoga lesson. The rest of you lovely readers, continue anyway ;).

simply fit. simply clean. simply yoga.

Week 2

Practice a three part breath: Breathe through your nose into your lower belly, then feel the breath move up to your lower chest followed by your low throat. Make sure to focus on the breath. This is a key component in furthering your practice. Use your hands for guidance. When you exhale, your breath will move from your throat to the chest, to your lower abdomen. Read once more and give it a try. So relaxing.

Friendly reminder! Don’t forget to use this breathing practice throughout the movements. Let’s move on.

Cat & Cow: Begin in a neutral, tabletop position, like my lovely model, Jess, below:

Try to align your neck with your spine, and don’t lock your elbows. Fingertips face forward and hands should be placed directly underneath your shoulders. Same with your knees: directly underneath your hips (and hipwidth apart). Now, move on to the cow pose by rounding your back, and, again – don’t forget to breathe through all of these movements.

While exhaling, move to the cat position by scooping your back. You’re on, Jess!:

Moving on to one of my favorite poses, the downward facing dog. Apparently this pose is quite difficult, and our instructor informed us that while in various yoga classes, we will likely be corrected by the instructors regarding our form. My form (which will likely be corrected when I’m actually in class next week):

Notice my hamstrings are tight and I cannot get my heels to the ground. Practice makes perfect :). Also, my arms hyperextend (thanks again, genetics!), so this is something the instructor told me to make note of — obviously the sticky was lost on that post-it. See my hyperextended arms above? Boo, Nat.

In the following picture, I’m doing a “prep” of the downward dog, by bending my knees a bit, to allow for assistance into the move.

Do not lean into your armpits, as reviewed in class. Please see example below:

That took some serious core strength.

Simple seated pose: Sit on a folded blanket if you prefer, to create a comfortable seat. Find your sit bones (or as less civilized people such as myself refer to them: “butt bones”) and your breath, and allow it to help you twist through the movement.

One hand on the belly, and twist towards that arm, while keeping your spine & neck aligned throughout the twist movement for as long as possible. Do not strain yourself. Rest for a few seconds at the end of the pose.

Good work ;). Bridge pose, anyone?

Bridge pose: Lay on your back with your knees bent. Tuck your arms underneath your shoulders.

Raise your hips a bit to understand the flow and structure of the movement.

If possible, raise your hips entirely, but do not allow them to extend above your knees.

The bridge pose is helpful in aiding digestion and with tired legs, among many other benefits.

Wall pose: This move is fairly easy and helps with backaches and stretching, while also aiding in relieving the body of wind. Yup, I said it. “Wind”. Pull yourself together. And then try this move. Sit against the wall as the birthday girl models below:

Use the leg closest to the wall to start climbing your legs up the wall. See picture below. She’s so graceful:

Tehehehe. It will likely be easier for you if you do not attempt this move with a mat, or a makeshift mat, as we used. The end result should look like this, with your booty flush to the wall:

Don’t make me say it again. Remember to…breathe! All together now. B-r-e-a-t-h-e. Allow yourself to relax into this pose for several breaths. Then laugh at yourself as you try to unplaster your legs and booty from the wall. While your back is on the floor, pull a leg to the chest to relieve some more wind. Ha.

I told Hil to “flex your foot” here. She thought I said “flex your butt”. I was wondering why her entire body kept moving up and down slightly, while her foot remained unflexed. So funny.

Poor Hilary. I swear I got you a really good birthday gift. Totally worth all this embarassment.

Lastly, and equally as important as the rest of the poses, is savasana. It’s meant to relax your mind and body. So simple, and really, so effective. As you lay on your back with your eyes closed, relax your mind, fingers, toes, tongue (yes, tongue), face and just be.

Some impressive yoga benefits, many of which are specific to certain poses:

  • Relaxing stretches
  • Helps improve digestion
  • Aids in preventing osteoporosis
  • Provides gentle massages
  • Beneficial in fighting asthma, high blood pressure and sinusitus
  • Relieves pain
  • Calms mind and body

I need to stop wearing see-through shirts for yoga. On that note, namaste :).

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Simply Celebrate


It’s that time of year. The Mama’s birthday!

For our birthdays, my mom makes whatever we desire for dinner. For her birthday we take her out to eat (unlike Janetha’s awesome birthday dinner for her madre). We’re lame. At least the restaurant was gorgeous:

Notice the death stares. The sisters are still acclimating to my incessant picture taking.

Check out this stunning family (and Miguel sporting his black eye – not so stunning):

Drumroll please! The star of the party:

This restaurant was beautiful, the food options were enticing and the meals were plated nicely. I must say, I was so excited for this dinner. We were patronizing a farm-to-table restaurant, which supports the environment through its own garden and purchasing locally grown food.

Stunning setting:

And these goofs:

Appetizers included outstanding kalamata olive bread and homemade herb crackers, as well a mix of salads and Miguel’s steak tartare. Told you he was steak-obsessed.

Moving on to dinner:

Sometimes pictures are simply better than words.

Gifts were opened:

A candle was extinguished:

And, you guessed it, dessert was devoured…

After the bill was paid and the valet was summoned (really… it’s that kind of place), we returned home for a little dog-on-dog action. Playtime, folks, playtime.

Riley, and Miguel’s pup, Chico:

 

Delicious food, beautiful views, a happy family and playful pups.

Now, that’s what I call a simple celebration.

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How to Enjoy Homemade Soup (without making it yourself)


 

Step 1: Find a boyfriend that cooks. Preferably one that belongs to a food club; this way you know he’s not a sham.

Step 2: Buy him a fabulous birthday gift, but make him work for it first. Scavenger hunt, anyone?

Looking high…

…looking low.

After a search through every room in the house, he went back through, stumbled upon a crazy Fourth of July hat, and managed to use his Mensa brain to uncover a strategically placed…

Pillowsac! Disappointed? I would be too. Miguel wasn’t. Good thing it’s his birthday and not ours.

Step 4: Spectate has he proceeds with the laborious process of removing a bean bag the size of a full size bed out of a package the size of a duffel bag on his birthday. Don’t judge. I had a good view. Now you do too.

Step 5: Sing “Happy Birthday” prior to forcing him to blow out fake candles.

Step 6: Lastly, take the birthday boy out for an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet! Attempt to pace yourself. Give up hope at pacing him.

(Please excuse the forehead scars. Blame rugby.)

Step 7: Do as your boyfriend says when he reminds you by saying, “Don’t you want to take pictures of this for your blog?”

Chicken, mushroom & kale soup ala Miguel

Chop shiitake and button mushrooms, as well as kale and red onion. Unfortunately (or fortunately), we don’t measure anything when we cook. By “we”, I mean Miguel, since he did all the dirty work in this case.

 Saute in olive oil. Add chicken (if you desire), wild rice and chicken or vegetable broth.

 Add spices to taste: garlic, onion, sea salt, white pepper and coriander.

Recognize a job well done, while clothed in the best t-shirt you own. This will be posted on the blog after all.

Play with puppy.

Enjoy soup with whole wheat roll after simmering for about 30 minutes.

The soup was delicious, as one can likely imagine. I promise to have more thorough instructions on recipes in the future.

Oh, yes. And wish the chef a very happy birthday!

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