Monday, February 29, 2016

Inspiration For Creating A Yoga Practice With Yoga At Home Book

I started doing yoga about eight years ago, around the time I turned fifty. I had thought about trying it for many years but had always felt too intimidated to walk into a yoga studio, where I was sure everyone was young and skinny, and able to do all the poses with ease.

My first class was truly amazing and most of my preconceived notions turned out to not be true. Sure, mainstream media shows us the gorgeous yoga models and movie stars coming out of yoga studios with their mats, but yoga really is for everyone who makes the commitment to practice it.

Last year when I had a physical I was very surprised to learn how healthy I was. I was totally grateful in every way, but surprised none the less. My blood pressure was normal, my cholesterol just fine, and all my tests came back normal. Now for someone who is my age, has some extra weight I'm carrying, doesn't eat healthy all the time, and feels stressed out every single day, this was downright amazing!! And when I talk about being stressed out, I mean really stressed, about money, how am I going to find my own place to live, how my kids are doing, and so much more that I don't even talk about.

So you can see why I was so surprised to learn how healthy I am. It's a great blessing to have your health, and one I don't take for granted, especially when I know of so many people who are sick. So I had to ask myself, why am I in good health, when my circumstances wouldn't indicate that that should be the case?

And then I thought about my yoga practice, something that I do usually three times a week, for about forty minutes. I truly do believe this is the answer.

Now don't for a minute think I'm some super yogi who can twist myself into a pretzel and does headstands all day long. Not at all. It's not about how far I can stretch, or what poses I can do. What yoga does for me is that I am more flexible, more balanced, more in tune with my body and my mind.  And that's a lot, that's everything.

I don't have the money or the time to go to yoga classes, so from the very beginning, I started a home yoga practice. At the time I was still married and had two kids at home, and was busy running a household. But I made it a point to take my yoga mat in the bedroom when no one was home, lit a candle, and just started doing poses. It took awhile to make it a routine, but I stuck with it, and eventually it became something I needed, and something that brought me great emotional comfort, especially after I separated from my husband. Those were very dark days, and I cried a lot on my mat, and yoga was one of the things that helped pull me out of that hole.

Both physically and emotionally, I believe yoga has the power to make us stronger, happier, and healthier people. But like anything worthwhile in life, it takes effort and commitment to make it happen. If I can do it, I know anyone can.

I know a lot of people struggle to practice yoga at home. It's great to go to a yoga studio and be surrounded with other students and a caring teacher to guide you during class. But in reality, very few people can go to classes a few times a week, so an at practice becomes essential if you want yoga to become a real part of your life. It's hard to find the motivation sometimes, this is so very true about a home practice, but the reward is so worth it.

Last week I picked up this very inspirational book about starting and maintaining a home practice called Yoga At Home by Linda Sparrowe. It's filled with great stories and photographs from students and internationally recognized yoga teachers. It gives an intimate look at well-known teachers practice spaces and what motivates them to share their love of yoga with others.

I found the book to be very motivating and insightful, and made me grateful for this look into other people's yoga practices and lives. It reinforces my belief that yoga is for everyone, that yoga can bring something special and sacred into our lives if we let it.



Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Easy Raspberry Crumble Recipe and Remembering My Father

I grew up in Southern California where our backyard was filled with fruit trees. Every summer my Dad made lemonade every few days because, being very frugal, he didn't want to see all of the huge amount of lemons we had go to waste. My father wasn't a very patient man, but he took his time making the lemonade just right, and giving me the first glass always made me feel special.

Oh, how I wish I had those lemons and all of the other fruit we had on our trees now!! Sometimes I just can't believe the price of fruit nowadays, and how much I took for granted that wonderful year round availability of it.

When I was a kid, every year in our Christmas stocking there would be a big, beautifully ripe orange. And I always wondered why Santa bothered to give us an orange when there was a whole bowl of them siting on the kitchen table.

Many years later my mother told me the reason. My father grew up poor in New York City. His mom died young and his dad turned into an alcoholic. It was hard for him to have a decent meal at times, let alone the luxury of fruit to eat. So for him, an orange was special, an extra that only some lucky people were able to have and enjoy.

When my dad grew up, he made his new home in Southern California, the land of orange groves everywhere you looked in those days. And he made sure that each of his kids always had an orange in their Christmas stockings.

Anyhow, on to this recipe for Raspberry Crumble, which is really delicious. It's also super easy to make, and I eat it for dessert and breakfast. If you are eating it for dessert, a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a little whipped cream makes it even yummier.

Though I made this crumble with raspberries, the recipe adapts perfectly to other fruits like blackberries, pears, or apples. Crumbles are great no matter what time of year it is, but I will be so happy when summer arrives and the price of fruit at the grocery stores goes down.

And I'll be thinking of those many, many glasses of lemonade my Dad made for us, another thing I took for granted, and only learned to appreciate years later.

Recipe for Raspberry Crumble


 3 cups fresh raspberries
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt


 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, add the butter, brown sugar, oats, flour, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. Mix all together, then with a fork, break into small, loose pieces of dough.
 Layer the raspberries in a ceramic baking dish.
Spread the oat mixture evenly on top of the berries in the dish. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 25-28 minutes.
Let the crumble set until just warm and serve. Can be topped with vanilla ice cream, or whipped cream.

Serves 4.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Old-Fashioned Banana Cake Recipe From The Barefoot Contessa

It's almost spring and that means there are lots of family celebrations, Easter gatherings, family birthdays, and more coming up.

It's nice to be able to bring a cake to any of these events that is moist and delicious, and everyone asks you for the recipe. This cake is all three of these things, and another one of my favorite Barefoot Contessa recipes. It is from the How Easy Is that? cookbook.

Yes, I have had an Ina Garten crush for many years. She is just the most warm and gracious person on her Food Network TV show, and a fabulous cook, of course.

All of her recipes that I have tried have always come out great, and her books are always so beautiful, and filled with so much helpful information that the home cook will find useful.

So, if you need a delicious cake, filled with banana and walnut yumminess, this recipe for Old-Fashioned Banana Cake is one I really recommend making.

Barefoot Contessa Recipe for Old-Fashioned Banana Cake


3 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, divided to use 1/2 cup on top of cake

For Cream Cheese Frosting

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners, sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 2-inch round cake pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the bananas, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on low speed until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and orange zest. Mix until smooth.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. With mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and mix just until just combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, turn out onto a cooling rack, and cool completely.

To make the frosting, mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until just combined. Don't whip. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

Spread the frosting thickly on top of the cake and decorate with remaining walnuts.

I shared this recipe last year but made it again recently. Everyone loved it, so I wanted to share it with you all again. Enjoy!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Nordstrom Roseville Galleria & The Honest Company: Meet Cathy Alba #nordstromroseville #thehonestcompany

photo by IG @nordstromroseville
Do you live in the Roseville, Rocklin or Sacramento area in California? I have a fun and free event to share with you!! Meet Cathy Alba, a senior brand educator for The Honest Company at the Nordstrom store in the Roseville Galleria. Cathy will be located in the Kid's World Department on the 1st Floor.

The event will feature a raffle, free gifts and samples of their products. The event starts at 10am.

Have you tried The Honest Company products? I have tried the lip balm, hand sanitizer and love their healing balm.

photo by IG @nordstromroseville

See you there!!


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Easy Cheesy Veggie Soup Recipe

I had meant to get this recipe for this soup up last week, but I got hit with a stomach virus. Three days of laying in bed with a heating pad on your tummy, and other things that were quite unpleasant, are enough to make you quite grateful when you do start feeling better.

So today I am out of bed and trying to get on with life, which includes sharing this delicious recipe for Cheesy Veggie Soup. I love the creaminess and cheesiness of this soup. There is something so comforting to me in a great bowl of homemade soup, and this one is one of my all-time favorites.

You can add or subtract your favorite veggies, or use what you have on hand. But definitely do use broccoli because it's so good for you and is really tasty in this recipe, even if you aren't a big fan of it.

I didn't make soup when my kids were growing up, but I really wish I had. Often times it was just about getting dinner on the table as quickly as possible and trying to make something that all five kids would like. But I can make soup now and share it with my family, and hopefully they will know that it's made with love, and it will provide comfort on a cold winter night.

Recipe for Cheesy Veggie Soup


  • 5 1/2 tablespoon butter, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery 
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3 1/2 cups unpeeled and cubed red potatoes
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 oz)
In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add carrots, celery, and onions, sauté about 6 minutes until veggies are softened. Add garlic, chicken broth, and potatoes, season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, cook 10 minutes. Add broccoli and cook another 15 minutes, until veggies are softened.
Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, whisking constantly 1 minute. While whisking vigorously, slowly pour in milk. Cook stirring constantly until mixture begins to gently boil and thicken, stir in heavy cream. Remove from heat and once all veggies are tender pour into the soup and stir. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese.
Makes 6 servings.
Recipe inspired by Cooking Classy.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I feel like shouting from the rooftops about how delicious these cookies are!! If you're a chocolate fan you will absolutely love these, and if you aren't, you'll love them anyway.

I was looking for a recipe to make cookies with white chocolate chips when I came across this one from The Pioneer Woman. I wasn't thinking about chocolate batter, but when I found this recipe I knew I had to try it.

It does call for white chocolate chips and regular chocolate chips, which ends up in so much yummy goodness. This recipe makes about three dozen cookies, and it's pretty easy to make.

These cookies are perfect to share with friends or coworkers if you want them to think that you have mad skills in the kitchen. That is, if you can bear to part with them!!

Recipe for Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies


2 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl once. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Mix in the vanilla

Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, and add in batches to the mixer, mixing until just combined after each addition. Gently fold in the white chocolate chips and chocolate chips. 

Using a cookie scoop, add 1 tablespoon portions to a baking sheet. Bake until the cookies are done but still soft and chewy, about 8-10 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What's Up With 2016 and A Recipe For The Best Banana Nut Bread Ever

Like so many other people, I welcomed in the new year with a glass of champagne and high hopes that 2016 would be fabulous. Well, so far it's been quite the disaster.

From the dreaded middle of the night phone call from one of my kids, that ended up with a trip to the emergency room, to job losses and jobs not gotten, I have to ask myself what the heck is going on?

And there's the terrible flu that has hit all of my grandchildren and one my daughters so hard, the car that broke down, money that should have come but has not ... it's enough to make me crazy.

I know enough about life by now to know that the beginning of a new year doesn't really change anything. Nothing magical takes place just because it's January 1st. But of course, what choice do we have but to go forward, and have faith that things will get better.

And I know they will get better, and that maybe the things that have happened somehow needed to happen. I don't know why, I don't have the answers, but I can pull my family around me tighter, still be thankful for our many blessings, and keep strongly going forward.

So to help me cope with all this, I made banana bread. Yes, that might sound a little silly, but I never underestimate the power of a cup of tea and a little treat. Trust me, it can be a comfort when you feel that life is just dumping too much on you at one time.

This banana nut bread is really delicious. It's soft and moist, and smells amazing. And it's a great way to use up those bananas that have turned brown that nobody wants to eat. I always recommend wrapping it up tightly in tin foil so that it retains that moistness and great flavor.

It's always an option to double the recipe to make two loaves, giving the extra loaf to somebody you know that might be having a hard time. It's a sweet gesture that can make all the difference to someone who is feeling down.

Recipe for Banana Walnut Bread


  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for preparing the pan
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork (about 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with baking spray or melted butter.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside. Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a small bowl, set aside.
With a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg mixture, beat another 1 minute. Add the bananas and mix just until incorporated.
With a spatula, add the flour and mix together. Fold in the walnuts. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes.
Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer the loaf to a wire rack to finish cooling.
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