Sun, Snow and Sand

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Hello friends,

So sorry for my extended blog absence! I have been running around for the past four weeks – lots of travel and skiing, not enough yoga, definitely not enough work (January is slow for flowers) and now on top of it all, I’ve been in bed for days on end with a wretched dizzying cold. Lame. I am a terrible patient normally, but this illness knocked me down so hard that I’ve had little choice but to lay on the couch indulging in Netflix binges (just started Sherlock and Boardwalk Empire – sooo good!).

I have a few Ashtanga posts that have been marinating in the old noggin recently, but given my lack of energy, those will wait for a few days to manifest.

So for now, here are a few little snaps of these past few weeks of fun in the sun, in both Colorado and Antigua.

xo,
Frances

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Radio Silence

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Please excuse my silence through the end of the week. I’ll be in a land of sun and sand and no wifi. Most people might think that sounds lovely, but I would take the plugged-in arctic chill any day over this.

I’m off on an adventure, one that I’ve dreaded, feared, lost sleep and meals over for many many months…but the time has come, ready or not.

I’m off to battle demons, inner and outer, with hopes to find victory, peace and forward momentum at the end.

I’ve got my girly armor on… new dress, new hair, pink toenails and I’ve been front loading lots of yoga and exercise to keep my head sane(ish).

Into the fray!

I’ll be back next week my friends.

Love Frances

 

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Snapshots Of Our Mountain Holiday

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We arrived back in Denver on Friday, but Christmas already feels long gone. We had a wonderful five days of retreat in the mountains – just what we needed. The cool mountain air and perfect Colorado sunshine was restorative and invigorating.

Thaddeus and I spent the holiday together just the two of us and it was wonderfully relaxing. We skied hard, slept copious amounts, ate plenty, lay in bed for hours watching Netflix and took strolls around the charming town of Telluride.

After four nights there, we popped over to Ouray for a visit to the vapor caves, a lovely hike and a night at a beautifully restored historic hotel. Before our long drive back to the Front Range, we enjoyed a quick morning dip at the Orvis Hot Springs, which have quickly become my new absolute favorites.

Here are a few iphone snaps of our Christmas vacay! Enjoy!

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Road Tripping + Relaxing

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We have returned from our wonderfully lazy and fun Crestone gettaway.

Despite my best intentions to go for big hikes, do lots of yoga, meditate for hours blah blah blah, what we really did was sleep, eat and laugh! We went for a daily leisurely stroll too. And honestly, I think that was much more in line with what I actually needed. I feel happy, rested and very connected right now upon my return to the big city.

Nine plus hours of sleep for 5 nights in a row. Heaven! Long soaks in the healing waters of Ojo Caliente. Superb! The final season of The Office. Oh my goodness! Excuse me for tarnishing any shiny spiritual veneer you might have imagined on me, but that stuff is freakin’ hilarious!

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Rest + Rejuvenate: A Blogcation

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It’s been sloooow round the blog recently. Sorry about that! Life is feeling very full and fast right now and I’ve been struggling with making time to write. Inspiration abounds, but sadly, my energy does not.

Tomorrow we leave for our first trip away from Denver (minus wedding work weekends in Aspen) since we returned from India in February! We are so ready for some time away from the city and from the busyness of school, work, etc., etc.,

Thaddeus and I really need this quiet time for relaxation and rest, and for spending quality time together to nurture our relationship. When life gets busy, as you well know, that is one of the first things to get overlooked.

We are leaving our little pup with my mum in Boulder so we can truly kick back and live without a schedule for 5 days. Thaddeus and I will be in Crestone CO with our dear teachers, Dan and Sue. We plan on sleeping a lot, getting a few healing treatments, meditating daily, writing, reading, practicing yoga and qi gong, going for long walks, cooking lazily, playing a little harmonium, visiting the ashram and generally chilling. We are also going to spend one night down at Ojo Caliente to soak in the springs and enjoy a little walk down memory lane.

Oh, and did I mention, it’s my birthday on Wednesday! I’m definitely going to need to reflect on this whole getting older thing… 😉

So, I will not be blogging for the next week. I need a little time off anything and everything that feels like “work.”

I plan to return with gusto next Monday!

Thank you for your continued readership and support.

Ever grateful!

Love Frances

Fifteen Fun Things To Do This Fall

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I love autumn. I find the change of seasons to be so invigorating.

Fall is such a great time to play outside. It passes all too quickly though, so I always try to make the most of this beautiful time of year.

Autumnal food tastes so satisfying and nourishing. Fall fashion is much more interesting than summer because of the opportunities for more texture and layering. And Halloween is pretty much the most awesome holiday ever. Caramel apples, fun costumes, ghost stories, what’s not to love?

So many reasons to relish this season…..

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Nothing Quite Like A Hot Sweaty Therapeutic Russian Beating

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I am a self-proclaimed spa junkie. Whether I’m fortunate enough to be in a plush terry robe at a fancy resort or jumping into cold plunges at a Korean Spa in a stripmall or simply relaxing in my own bathtub with essential oils and salt in the water and clay on my face – I am a happy girl. I love to soak, sweat, get scrubbed and rubbed and shined ’til my skin glows and my muscles feel like jello. I would rather a spa visit in my birthday suit than a fancy dress and party any day.

One of my absolute favorite discoveries here in Denver is a place called Izba Spa. It is a traditional Russian banya spa located conveniently walking distance from my house. The massage therapists there, mostly Russian men, do deep sports massage and therapeutic bodywork. It can feel like a bit of a butt-kicking, but the effects are worth it. Apparently Izba therapists are the official team masseurs for the Avalanche hockey team.

In honor of my husband’s half-birthday (every couple has their quirky thing, one of ours is being very celebratory and silly over half-birthdays), we went to Izba for an hour and a half of serious heat and beatings.

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A Walk In The Woods

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The past two months have been totally packed with school work and new jobs. Because of this, we haven’t had the chance to get up to the mountains at all and that’s a crying shame because we live in Colorado for goodness sake!

Today, after Thad taught Mysore, we had the whole day free to play. We headed up to the mountains with Artemis to take her on her first real hike. We did a three mile loop in a beautiful area near Conifer. The hike started out in an open meadow and then wound its way up through stands of Aspens and Lodgepoles and Ponderosas.

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Essential Oil Of The Week: Rose Geranium

dryland-herbs_rose-geranium-208x300All essential oils are pretty wonderful and magic in my opinion, but this week’s feature is one of my absolute favorites. I personally think this is the single most important essential oil for every woman to have because of its great healing properties for the skin, hormones and the reproductive system.

Rose Geranium (Pelargonium roseum) has a broad range of uses and a beautiful and complex sweet fragrance of roses and citrus. It is very cooling, anti-inflammatory and uplifting, a wonderful oil to have handy for the dog-days of summer (a hydrosol spritz is a lovely way to garner the benefits of this plant – so good for the skin!).

This astringent and antimicrobial essential oil is very balancing for the hormones and can reduce PMS symptoms as well as menopausal hot flashes. It supports the adrenal cortex to actually balance hormones. Adding a few drops of Rose Geranium into a warm bath is a wonderful way to soothe your body and relax during your cycle. It promotes healthy detoxification and gently reduces water retention in the body.

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The Lotus and The Artichoke: Vegan Recipes From World Adventures.

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Occasionally I get stuck in a rut when it comes to cooking. I guess this happens to everyone. You just start using the same ingredients and same spices all too often and pretty soon, dinner time starts to get a little boring.

Luckily, when I fell into this rut recently, the universe gave me a kick in the culinary pants in the form of this new and super inspiring cookbook, The Lotus and the Artichoke. 

For the past few months, I have been following the posts on Facebook of Lotus and the Artichoke writer Justin Moore. I routinely drooled over the pictures of colorful vegan creations he posted, telling myself, “I should really try to make that.”  So, you can imagine how thrilled I was when he sent me a copy of his brand-new cookbook! Awesomeness.

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Let me confess something right off the bat – I am not normally keen on following recipes. I have a few fancy vegan cookbooks on my shelf that I rarely crack open simply because the recipes are too elaborate, require too many unusual and hard-to-find ingredients or high-end complicated cooking tools that most people don’t have in their kitchens.

Justin’s book is not this way. His recipes are shared in the the way I want to cook. They are creative, healthy, spiced with pizzaz and packed with variety. They call for lots of different types of vegetables and protein sources, which is great if you’ve been relying too heavily on one thing or another in your cooking routine. He also includes good substitution options for various ingredients as well. Thaddeus (who is not much of a cook) has prepared a number of these recipes recently and he has been able to follow them very easily and create the most scrumdidlyumptious dinners for me. I consider that a huge testament to the quality of a recipe.

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The coolest thing about this cookbook is the breadth and scope of flavors and dishes. Justin is a world adventurer. He explores the world with an eye for photography and a palette for exotic cuisine. American by birth, but currently living in Berlin, Justin has traveled in nearly 40 countries. The Lotus and the Artichoke was born from his passions for travel, food and exploration.

Part of the exploration factor in play here is that many of the traditional dishes described in his book are NOT originally vegan, but through creative experimenting, he has perfect plant-based renditions of all these unique preparations. For example, vegan gulab jamun (you know those tasty donut-tasting balls in syrup you get at Indian restuarants?) – who knew those could be made without dairy products! Not I! Justin even has a tofu panneer recipe that simulates the yummy texture and taste of Indian cheese. A-mazing.

207163_415563275170283_1104497438_nThis is Justin – he’s rad.

The Lotus and the Artichoke is presented not by categories of food but by continents. Before each continent, Justin shares photos and stories from his travels throughout various countries there. Looking at this cookbook gives me both serious munchies and wanderlust!

Food is such a universal connector. Sharing a meal with someone, even if you can’t speak their language, can be a really bonding and beautiful experience. You can tell from reading Justin’s book, that he’s had some unforgettably special moments with people over meals in all corners of this big world.

I’m a big fan of The Lotus and the Artichoke and I bet you will be too.

Buy a copy of the COOKBOOK.

Visit his WEBSITE

Like on FACEBOOK

and…..

Try this creamy and delicious soup recipe yourself!

Thad made this for me the other night and I seriously could not get enough of it! Yum.

xo

F

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Carrot Ginger Zucchini Soup

 serves 4 / time 30 min

3 medium / 3 cups carrots peeled, chopped

3 medium / 3 cups potatoes peeled, chopped

1 medium / 2 cups zucchini chopped

1 small red onion or 1 shallot chopped

1 inch / 2 cm fresh ginger finely chopped

1-2 garlic cloves

1 tsp cumin – ground

1 tspn coriander – ground

1/2 tspn turmeric – ground

1/8 tspn nutmeg

1 Tbs vegetable broth powder

1 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes OPTIONAL

1/2 tspn black pepper ground

1/2 tspn red paprika ground

1/2 tspn salt

2 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs lemon juice

1/4 cup white wine (or water)

1 cup soy/nut milk

3 cups water

Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add garlic, onion, ginger, pepper, cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, nutmeg. Mix, fry until garlic and onions are slightly browned, about 3 min.

Add carrots, potatoes, zucchini. Mix well with spices, cook 5 min.

Add lemon juice, wine. Stir regularly, cook partially covered, until veg is soft and cooked, 5-7 min.

Turn off / remove from heat. Purée veg to creamy pulp with immersion blender.

Return to medium heat. Add soy milk, broth powder, nutritional yeast, salt. Stir well, simmer 2-3 min.

Add water gradually, stirring regular, maintain low boil, cook for 5 min.

Continue to cook on medium low, reduce to desired consistency.

Garnish with fresh parsley, crumbled nuts, sprinkled paprika, ground pepper. Serve with bread or crackers.

Variations:

Vedic style / No garlic and onions: replace with pinch asafoetida (hing), 1/2 tspn brown mustard seeds. Nutty taste: add 1/4 cup lightly toasted ground sunflower seeds with nutritional yeast and broth powder. Straight-up Carrot-Ginger: Use 2 or 3 more carrots, omit zucchini. Alternately, replace zucchini with 1 or 2 cups chopped pumpkin. Potatoes can also be replaced with sweet potato or more carrots. Euro-herbs: use fresh basil, thyme, rosemary instead of cumin and coriander. Add 1 Tbs tomato paste and/or 1 chopped tomato for a slightly richer, fruitier flavor, too.

Pictures: Ashtanga Yoga with DG

My dear friend Lauren was kind enough to send me a few photos that DG took of us little Ashtangis in the shala during our time in Kovalam last month. To any of you out there interested in traveling to India to deepen your yoga practice, I would highly encourage you to look at David Garrigues’s Mysore Intensive in Kovalam.

Working with DG, you will get so much personal attention and assistance in your practice, plus you get to hang out by the beach with a bunch of awesome people from around the world. Many yoga people ask me whether I’ve been to Mysore on any of my trips to India. Often these people are surprised when I tell them that I have very little interest in practicing with Sharath at Mysore. Perhaps I will go one day just to see the place, but for now, if I’m going to save up my money to fly all the way to India to practice yoga, I would rather be with my teacher (who is an amazing asana technician, thoroughly steeped in the lineage) who can give me one-on-one instruction and very personal guidance in my practice. DG’s instensive are pressure-cookers; a lot of powerful work gets done there.

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Hope everyone is having a great weekend! It’s snowing heavily here in Denver so we are headed up to the mountains tomorrow to make some turns – I heart CO!

Love and Blessings,

Frances