Monday, August 23, 2010

Whip 'Em Out!

A healthy lifestyle starts from the very beginning, and what better way to get your little one on the road to living luminously then to feed them "Nature's Miracle Food"...breast milk.
August is national Breastfeeding Month!!! Here's a little video in honor of what's best for baby...BOOBIES!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Meditation for Gratitude

This is a simple meditation exercise to help us not get caught up in focusing so much on what we want or what we think we need; but instead being completely grateful and mindful of the things we have.

Warm up Exercise
Write down ten things you are grateful for, or make a mental list in your head.

1. Find time to be alone and in a place where you will not be disturbed. (I have even done this meditation while showering before bed; because being a mom...sometimes that is as much alone time as you are going to get!) Sit in any way that makes you comfortable and read or think over the list of ten things you made before.

2. Generate a sincere sense of gratitude for each item on your list. If you are grateful for your health; feel thankful for this good fortune. If you have a car, no matter what condition, be sincerely grateful to have transportation. If you have a partner, think of their wonderful qualities and be grateful that they are a part of your life.

3. After you have gone through your list, sit quietly and thank yourself, God, the universe, or whomever or whatever you choose for the gifts you have been given. Resolve on a daily basis to be mindful and grateful for the blessings you have.

Happiness is a state of mind. By allowing compassion, kindness, gratitude and love into our hearts and opening our minds to them, we can all live a full, truly happy life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What do you mean I can't have Ice Cream?!?!

As many people know; I have a little problem with dairy. No, it's not that I have some weird aversion to it; but I have an intolerance for Casein (the protein found in milk and milk products).

While I've tried to "ignore" this fact for as long as I can; in recent years I've started cutting dairy out of my diet completely and let me tell you, I feel SO MUCH BETTER!

BUT...(and this is a BIG but!)

I was always sad about loosing three of my favorite "dairy rich" foods; ice cream, pizza, and macaroni and cheese and I vowed to find a way to get all three back into my life in some way, shape or form.
Well, it's been over a year and I have finally succeeded in making delicious "dairy free" (and wheat free for that matter; since I have a slight intolerance for wheat as well...but that's another blog altogether!) versions of all of them!!! It took a lot of trial and error but the outcome was well worth it.

I know there are a lot of people out there who have issues with dairy, so I thought I would share the best recipe (The ice cream one!) with everyone so that more people would have the chance to welcome this tasty treat back into their lives!

Lauren's Homemade "Dairy Free" Ice Cream

2 1/3 Cups of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (you can sub. soy or rice, but I found that I liked the taste of almond best when it came to ice cream products)
3/4 cups of evaporated cane juice
2/3 cups of almond oil (or macadamia nut oil or avocado oil..I go with what is cheapest because all three come out relatively the same)
1-2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract

Mix all ingredients together and put into an ice cream maker and follow the directions. I have a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker and it works great, no special changes need to be made. I have also made this ice cream by hand in a plastic bag with ice and rock salt, so it works that way as well.
I'd allot about two hours to let it "set up" in the freezer after it's mixed so that it's a little bit harder, but then scoop and ENJOY!

This recipe is for basic vanilla. You can add almost anything you like to this version to make different flavors. My favorite so far (and a favorite of my two toughest husband and my brother) is mint chocolate chip. Just substitute one teaspoon of the vanilla for one teaspoon of peppermint oil to the ingredients and then add vegan or dairy free chocolate chips during the last five minutes of mixing.

Welcome's been a while

Hey everyone!
It's been a while since I was on here and the timing just felt right to pick up and start writing again.
A lot has happened since I was last here and there's so much to write about. :-)
But, since I don't want to bombard people with "EVERYTHING" all at once I'll start slow...hehe.

Being a mom to an almost one year old is a pretty tiring job! Chasing after him non stop and (lately) planning his first big birthday bash has me a little more stretched than usual. But one thing I can always count on is a few quiet minutes before bed to curl up with a good book and just escape my hectic mind for a little bit.
The book I have been re-reading lately is
The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C. Cutler. There is something about reading the words of the Dalai Lama that truly touch my heart and uplift my spirits; and paired with the "Devil's advocate" and "modern man of science" role that Howard Cutler, a psychiatrist, plays it is the perfect dialog to bring peace, compassion and hope into my mind when it is at it's most chaotic and distressed.
It's a book, that I feel like everyone should read at some point in their life; because it is about finding your happiness and living it. But it's presented in such a simple straightforward manner, even in light of some of Dr. Cutler's arguments and questioning, the answer always seems simple; albeit one that requires a lot of hard work.
It was just a few short weeks ago that something clicked in my mind that seemed to change the way I looked at everything around me. I'm not sure what event or series of events brought this on, but suddenly I was seeing the world from a different angle. I felt a little disoriented and lost for a bit but then something led me to pick up The Art of Happiness again and start reading. But, instead of beginning from page one, I simply picked up the book and started reading the section about "Self Created Suffering". That's when it all started to make sense. I read the lines,
"All too often we perpetuate our pain, keep it alive, by replaying our hurts over and over again in our minds, magnifying our injustices in the process." [page 150] "To a large extent, whether you suffer depends on how you respond to a given situation. ...Although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations, you can modify the extent to which you suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation." [pages 151-152]" and I realized that I had somehow started making a conscious effort to stop making myself suffer. While it felt strange to not indulge in replaying my problems, over exaggerate the injustices in my life, and focus on the hardships I was facing, I started to realize that I was happier and more aware of how different events and exchanges really effected me and how I could change my reactions and lessen the negative feelings.
To make a long story short; I'm not perfect. I'm still very much a flawed individual and I am far from able to completely control my suffering; I have just taken that first step in the right direction, and there is still a long road ahead. But, each night as I sit reading another snippet from this book I see myself moving forward, little by little, towards a truer more complete happiness in my life. I am starting to live a more compassionate, loving life and paying closer attention to living in a way that brings me "true" happiness; not just simple pleasure or contentment.

I highly recommend this book to anyone; happy, sad, confused, lost, or even just curious. The Dalai Lama has an unassuming, simple way of looking at even some of the worst situations. And if you open your mind up enough, it's not that hard to read his words and say, "Yeah, that actually makes sense"

Love, Laughter and Happiness to all.

Photo Credit: Photo Bucket