Hike to Devil’s Chair

This weekend featured a wonderful hike to the Devil’s Chair. I have done this hike a few times before and it is always an enjoyable experience. The trail isn’t too strenuous and the expansive view at the end is a huge payoff.

This time around the added bonus was taking some of my husband’s students from the hiking club he runs at his high school. It is a pretty amazing experience to see students who have not done many outdoor activities before, discover nature through a new lens and feel the accomplishment of a good hike.

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The trail is 7.4 miles total, with a 1,000 ft. elevation gain. It is steep in some parts, but overall, the gain is too slight to even notice. This is an excellent hike for both experienced and newer hikers. Beginners may find it difficult in some spots, but it is still accessible to anyone willing to push through a little incline.

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Fun was had, by all.

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What are some of your favorite hiking spots?

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New Playlist for the Gym

I have been in desperate need of a new play-list. I think I have still been using the same playlist from when I ran The Run Through Redlands Half-Marathon.

I still have not been running very much, only as much as 3 miles here and there. But, I have been investing a lot more time at the gym and needed a new batch of music to get me motivated.

This list contains 23 songs and is 1 hour 28 minutes.

  • “All About That Bass” Meghan Trainor incredibly infectious
  • “Anaconda” Nicki Minaj I know, I know…but, I just.can’t.stop.listening.
  • “#Beautiful” Mariah Carey I am on a huge Mariah kick, it happens about once per year.
  • “Bindya Chamke Gi” Gunjan I love the international, vibrant flow.
  • “Breath” (Chromeo Mix) Lenny Kravitz Great beats!
  • “Cupid Shuffle” Cupid Classic favorite
  • “Dancing With Myself” The Donnas This version is incredibly energetic 
  • “Doo Wa Ditty” Zapp Classic, classic, classic
  • “Emotions” Mariah Carey Mariah kick, still in effect
  • “Empire” Shakira I love the way this song builds up to an epic level
  • “Hideaway” Kiesza Blogged about this song here 
  • “Hunter” Pharrell Williams Silly, but upbeat
  • “I Like It” Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull I always have to have at least one Pitbull song
  • “Keep It Up” Fannypack Great beats for jumping jacks or jump roping
  • “Let Me Think About It” Ida Corr Makes me feel like dancing!
  • “Put Your Graffiti On Me” Kat Graham An absolutely ridiculous song, but makes you move!
  • “Run The World (Girls)” Beyonce I can do anything Beyonce says I can!
  • “Scream & Shout” Britney Spears & Will.I.Am. Super fun and upbeat
  • “Sweat” Snopp Dogg & David Guetta Good reminder
  • “What Have You Done For Me Lately” Janet Jackson This song always makes me dance
  • “Wiggle” Jason Derulo Pure silliness and fun!
  • “X” Xzibit Makes me feel pretty gangster
  • “You Drive Me Crazy” Britney Spears Always a fun song! I switch off pretending I am Britney and Melissa Joan Hart.

What is on your current running or work out playlist?

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Bacon Kale Salad

Quite often, when people find out I am vegan, they have some sort of response that involves bacon. Even though I get tired of hearing this, I get it. Bacon is good. But, when you really think about it, it’s not necessarily the pig portion of the bacon that makes it good. It’s the wonderful mix of spices and texture that give it it’s appeal. Without the flavorings, it would just be a piece of pig fat and I am doubtful that many people (although there may be some…) are craving that. Fortunately, the flavoring is easy enough to replicate, and it’s accessible to have those components of bacon, without harming any of our animal friends.

I have experimented with creating this version of bacon with shiitake mushrooms, but, when I am feeling lazy, I buy this brand. It has the texture and seasonings I love and adds a nice, smokey component to meals.

I used this bacon in a kale salad for dinner, last week.

I started off by removing 2 bunches of kale from their stems.

15407255965_b26a600367_o I lightly steamed the kale for about two minutes, just to give it a nice, bright color, but not wilt it down.

I also sautéed:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • garlic salt to taste

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I made a quick dressing of the following ingredients, whisked together:

  • 2 tablespoons of tahini
  • 1 tablespoon of Bragg’s Amino Acids
  • Juice of 1 lemon

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I massaged the dressing into the kale, then topped

  •  chickpea mixture
  • diced strips of 4 pieces of tempeh bacon
  • 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
  • 1 diced avocado

This salad was amazing! It had a balance of vibrant and smoky notes. The bacon flavor was very prevalent and the smokiness was heightened by the chickpea mixture. The avocado and dressing added a nice, fatty, creamy texture, and the kale kept it all feeling healthy and fresh. The salad is packed with calcium and healthy fats.

This is how vegans still enjoy their bacon.

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2014 in Books: September, the Rainbow Rowell Edition

September was an excellent, but also bittersweet month of reading. I read three Rainbow Rowell books, and now feel despondent that there are no other books left of hers that I have not read.

Rainbow has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I read Eleanor & Park back in April and was struck by how realistic her writing was and how accurately she described the complexities of a relationship between teenagers with varying issues.

The same rang true for the rest of her books. I was impressed that no books were very much alike. She definitely has a witty writing style, yet the plots of her books are all so diverse and unpredictable. I also appreciate the manner in which she writes about love and relationships, without giving into predictable cliches and gag inducing romance.

I read the remaining books in the following order:

1. Attachments: I ordered this book off Paperback Swap shortly after finish Eleanor & Park. However, it got lost in my ever-growing (and slightly shameful) to-read pile, only to be discovered this month and quickly ravaged.

I could not put this book down. It is about an IT guy (Lincoln) who develops a crush on a co-worker (Beth), by reading the emails between Beth and her friend (Jennifer).

I absolutely loved all three main characters. Lincoln is an adorable, likable nerd and I would love to have a friend like either Jennifer or Beth. Their email interactions were hilarious and reminded me of many emails that got me through some tough days, with good friends. (I miss those, by the way. Girls, if you are reading, I could use more!)

I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

2. Landline: I still argue with myself about which Rainbow’s books are my favorites (I seriously have spent quite a bit of time lost in this thought), and Landline is definitely one of the top contenders. Just. Wow.

Georgie and Neal are a married couple who have a far from perfect relationship, but lots of love between them. Events transpire that prompt Georgie to reflect on choices she has made throughout their relationship and bring a new perspective to the current day.

I just loved how real the issues in this book are and how Rainbow is able to essentially create a love story that is realistic in today’s society of goal achieving, child rearing and loss of perspective.

3. Fangirl: This book is about a set of twins setting off to their first year of college. They are authors of fan fiction and face the trials of moving away from home, dealing with difficult parents and finding identity individually.

I absolutely loved the fan fiction premise. I am definitely one to obsess over my latest interests and can certainly understand being pulled into a reality that is seemingly better than your own.

I loved how Rainbow describes that oh, so difficult, but exciting time of transition from adolescence to early adulthood. She, once again, does a fantastic job of realistically portraying those awkward, cringe-worthy moments that develop into lessons.

I obviously love Rainbow Rowell and look forward to anything she publishes in the future. Check out her super cute website!

Have you read any Rainbow Rowell books?

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Lately…

I always love posts from some of my favorite bloggers where they just catch readers up on what has been going on with them lately. Here is my version…

1. I have been having so many bursts of creativity. All of a sudden, I just have a plethora of ideas I would love to put into place. I am not sure how good they are or not, but it is pretty amazing that I have been on this streak of ingenuity. I have some new ideas for my current blog design (which is desperate need of a makeover) and ideas are popping up about where to take my other blog Spiritual Bahanas, (check out the premiere of Music Monday: here ).

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I also have tons of thoughts about new things to implement for work, my yoga classes and at home. It is difficult to find the time to put these all in to place, but it sure is nice to know my brain is still flowing.

2. I fear that I constantly smell like garlic and no is telling me. I cook with large amounts of garlic and cannot seem to get enough of it in my food. Yesterday, when I came home, I realized my house really smells like garlic (I used tons in the tagine dish I made. I also included; quinoa, lentils, squash, red bell pepper and carrots + tons of spices).

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This made me question if this is what I smell like and I just no longer notice. I guess I should pay more attention to if people move spots away from me in yoga class or if my students scoot away from my desk, when I am talking to them.

3. I am really, really trying to train my dogs to walk appropriately on a leash (i.e.-not jump and try to bite the leash [PENNY] or pull me down the road with freak-like strength [SUZIE]). I read Cesar Milan’s book over the summer and felt ready to tackle the task ahead of me. I am wondering if he should put a disclaimer on his books: “these methods WORK for all breeds, except bulldogs,…good luck with that.” 

I am still having a very hard time with appropriate walking behaviors. I have seen small (very small) improvements, but Suzie still yanks me down the street if she sees a cat. She pulled me so hard last week, I hurt my neck trying to re-gain control and it threw me into a migraine the next day. I had to leave work early to see my chiropractor, who is well-versed in the damage those dogs have done to both my husband and I . They are lucky they are so dang cute.

15382092575_53fed50c61_oPS-so help the next person who “jokes” “whose walking who? Hahahaha“…just.stop.!!!

4. My next essential oil purchase will be Clary Sage. I have been having worse cramps than usual the last couple of months, and found that this may help. Has anyone else every used it before? I would be interested to hear feed back.

Well, that’s what has been going on in my life. Tell me something that has been going on with you.

 

 

 

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Vegan Cheese Spread

My friend Eddie and I got together the other night to discuss and brainstorm ideas for our new blog Spiritual Bahanas. Creativity requires food and wine, so I set about to try this vegan cheese recipe I have had my eye on.

Vegan cheese sounds like such a paradox, so I guess we can call this a delicious spread, and that it is. I was a little nervous, since I had never attempted this type of recipe before (I was particularly intimidated by the Agar. I think it’s the name of it that inspired some fear….like a frightful Game of Thrones character.)

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The recipe I used was from Maple Spice (all things vegan and nice!). Debbie posts three different variations; chive, sun-dried tomato & basil and chili & rosemary. I tried the sun-dried tomato & basil version and doubled the recipe to make an extra large batch.

I question if it’s because I have not had cheese for so long, but this sure did taste like the real thing to me. The texture was solid and spreadable. The olive oil added a nice touch of fattiness and the sun-dried tomatoes and basil added a delicious flavoring. The cheese spread really well and paired perfecto with Kashi crackers.

15159124407_463c208f23_o We needed lots of enforcements to get us through our creativity session. Along with the cheese and crackers, we also had chips + hummus (topped with fresh tomatoes & parsley), sautéed mushrooms, crackers & tomatoes to dip in olive tapenade and sun-dried tomatoes, plus Trader Joe’s amazing peppers stuffed with olives and garlic. And, we cannot forget, delicious vegan cookies from The Loving Hut.

15345347682_1befeebfc1_oThis all paired nicely with red wine and lots of fun conversations and planning. Colored pens were, in fact, necessary.

15315474406_e83ca3cd1e_o Eddie and I have some fun things planned for our new blog, and hope you all will check it out. Stop by Spiritual Bahanas and let us know what you think!

 

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Headache & Sleeping Potions

One of my favorite things about essential oils has been sharing them with others. I have found so many positive benefits, how can I possibly keep them to myself?

I made both of my sisters and some friends a few of my favorite blends.

The first one is the Headache Potion. I carry this around in my purse. I rub it on my temples, forehead, behind my ears and my neck and shoulders, if I have a headache. (Bonus: I actually found that it also helps with cramps, I rubbed it on my lower back and it eased some of the pain.) I love the tingling sensation from the Peppermint oil, it starts to work immediately and has saved me from many tension headaches.

Both of my sisters used it this past week and had positive feedback. I am glad it helped!

In a roller bottle, I mixed:

15053982230_72de9c8c9b_o My next favorite is the Sleeping Potion. Every night, I roll this on my own, my husband and my step-son’s feet, every night before bed. I also roll it on my shoulders and under my nose because I just love the way it smells.

I really do not have problems falling asleep, but I noticed my quality of sleep has been better since using this potion. Even when I am not getting as much sleep as I would like, I am sleeping much sounder and feel better in the mornings.

My sister used this the past week and said it did help her sleep, however, it made her dreams extremely vivid. She had one of those dreams where she knew she was dreaming, but could not wake herself up. She often has these reactions to any sleeping aid, I remember Melatonin helped her sleep, but gave her nightmares. Although this did prove effective, be warned if you tend to this type of reaction to sleep aids.

This potion contains:

15237581951_70f792a593_o Do you have any favorite essential oil blends?

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