My butt, January 2009

My butt,  January 2009
(who could miss it)

My butt, January 2010

My butt, January 2010
photos by Tom Peal

Welcome to You and All your Brilliant Parts!

In 2009 I lost 40 lbs and I got a new butt. How? Diet and exercise, that's the short answer. But all of the things I learned that made it emotionally possible, that allowed me to succeed when I had failed before - that will take longer. This blog celebrates the intelligence of the body. Please leave me a note to let me know what you think of this writing, if it's been helpful. I welcome your input and experience.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day One: Getting Still

Today is the first day of my juice fast, and I'm following Pamela Serure's 3 Days to Vitality program fairly closely.  I say "fairly," because I do things my way.

"Getting Still" is the theme for the day, and I think that's an excellent intention.  Since I have not been able to take off from work entirely, however, I have to integrate my stillness / relaxation activities with some job stuff.

I forgot to brush my skin when I woke up this morning, but I'll do it later.  I don't to the hot water and lemon first thing cleansing, because that's too acidy for me - I don't want to press my luck on that, even though I'm taking Nexium.

So, I started my day like I always do, with a shower, my version of Serure's morning bath.  Then, I did my own take on "morning meditation and breath work."  As I've mentioned before, I'm using Sabrina Mesko's Power Mudras: Yoga Hand Postures for Women; see post of March 9.  Today, I spent about forty-five minutes in meditation and prayer with these mudras:
Mudra for  Divine Worship (that's Om - I always start that way)
Mudra for Letting Go of Negativity (help with diet: "I release all negativity and make space for a lighter and healthier me" see post # )
Mudra for Anti-Aging (this uses breath of fire - good breath work)
Mudra for Healthy Breasts and Heart
Mudra for Protecting Health
Mudra for Meditation of Change
Mudra for Patience

I followed that with personal prayer - I'm a Christian.  Then I did a few yoga asanas - the tadasana and trikosana sequences, and the Five Tibetans.

And then, oh yum, the "Morning Drink": pinapple-papaya-strawberry, with flax oil; see post of March 11 .  Serure's recipe includes acidophilus, but I don't do that.  I've had trouble with acidophilus in the past, and Tom and I get our pro-biotics from our ferments.  I'll be adding kim-chee juice to my lunch for that purpose.

On the itinerary for today:

Mid-morning drink: Apple-pear-ginger (see photo above of juicer and ingredients)
Playing music - songs and guitar - my blessing of a job
A lovely walk
Lunch: Carrot-beet-apple juice
Make broth for dinner for three nights ...

Relaxing with my current read, Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now (lots of good focus on stillness there ...), writing in my journal ...
"Afternoon Snack Drink" if I have time ...
Evening show with my band 6:00 - 8:30; I'll be sipping my broth through the show for dinner.  Not ideal, but a fair accommodation.
Back home: dessert drink, warm bath with essential oils, maybe journal, go to bed.

More photos of my juicer:

Later, Jenni

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm an Amazon Associate now ...

Since I recommend books on my site, I've become an Amazon Associate.  This means that I'll get paid up to %15 on the price of a book, .mp3 or other item purchased by someone clicking through my site.  Like a billboard, sort of.

Here's my disclaimer:  Although I do not personally collect, use, store, or disclose data collected from visitors,, a third party, may serve content and advertisements, collect information directly from visitors, and place or recognize cookies on visitors’ browsers.  

I believe that placing of cookies happens when you click onto their site.

So, I don't know exactly what this will look like or how it will work yet, but keep in touch with me about how it works for you.

Later, Jenni


Hello, Transformational Specialists!

In 3 Days to Vitality, Pamela Serure suggests that you get all of the groceries and other items you need prior to the beginning of the juice fast, so today was shopping day.  She says to put all the produce out in bowls so that you can see all the great stuff you'll consume (no deprivation around here.)

How's this for pretty:
Using recipes from the book for each meal of the juice fast as my grocery list, I purchased as much organic produce as I could.  I got the organics at Whole Foods (the brand new one on Park Lane in Dallas - it's a beauty) and the conventional at Fiesta Mart.

Here's what I'll be consuming for the next three days:

Organic:  Pineapple, apples, pears, carrots, cabbage, celery, parsley, kale, spinach, cucumber, potatoes, green onion, butternut squash, fresh thyme, raspberries, blueberries (frozen.)

Conventional:  Papaya, ginger, grapes, beets, spinach, garlic, lime, strawberries.

I'll also be using flax oil in my breakfast juice, spring water for broth and drinking, and natural fragrance oils (orange, lavender, and sandlewood) for my baths.

A good point to remember is that this is a cleansing fast, so avoid exposure to chemicals and toxins for the next three days, and be careful immediately after the fast too in case you're vulnerable.  I remember seeing a news magazine story about a family that tried to sue a large chemical fertilizer company for the damage done to a man's health from exposure to the spray during normal use - it seems the man had been fasting and was vulnerable.  Hmm.  That stuck in my mind.

Later, Jenni

Monday, March 29, 2010

Celebrate Water

I'm so happy to have clean, safe drinking water every day that I want to celebrate with presents.
So, I donated to, and I made this slide show for you.

Please consider joining me in support of Water for People's goals while you enjoy the life-giving water that is so important to our weight-loss plan, transformational specialists.

Enjoy this slideshow of beautiful Tom Peal water photos, too, with soundtrack by Dallas' own Kevin Sullivan and The Hammerknockers.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pre-Fast Day One

Hello, Transformational Specialists!

We're right on schedule with our weight-loss plans, and it's time for the exciting preparation for cleansing with the juice fast.  If you've obtained the book 3 Days to Vitality by Pamela Serure, I'm sure you've gotten lots of great ideas about how to use this week's activities to make positive changes in your life.

Eating is only a part of our lives - we can make it into as big a deal as we want.  Eating, sleeping, shitting - that's the mundane stuff, right?  The basic housekeeping of your brilliant body.  Unlike one-celled creatures, we have developed to seek, secure, and prepare nourishment for our complex omnivorous systems.  Because it is our dreamy nature to do so, we've built a lot of history and culture to support that task.  But let's let go of all of that baggage for now - the good and the bad - and put eating in it's proper place.  Under our control.  I mean under the control of our higher, un-fettered, divine, wise, adult self.  Believe me, you'll enjoy all the great and beautiful things about food and cuisine even more after you gain control of it.  This is only one week in your whole beautiful life!

Just to make sure we're on the same page about this, dear readers, I'll quote Serure directly from chapter 9, The Prefast:
To help your body adjust to the changes in your diet and ease you into this program gently, it is essential that you follow a prefast for at least two or three days before your three day fast begins ...
A proper prefast will ease your body through the transition from solid foods to juice, and it will do this with a minimum amount of discomfort and shock to the system.  A prefast will also ease your mind and contribute to your emotional and spiritual state of readiness by getting you focused on the many changes that are soon to come ... 
If, for whatever reason, you cannot meet this minimum requirement, do not proceed with the program at this time ...
Note the grown-up gravity in that last statement.

So here's what we're going to let go of in the next three days, in preparation for the juice fast:

sugar (you and I have already done that, right?)
caffeine (I've eased down to green tea - no more for this week)
oils (starting today for me)
wheat (I've already given up white flour, but whole wheat abstinence will start today ...)
alcohol (I will be remembering every day ...)
meat (starting today ...  I also add eggs to this list)
dairy products (that means yogurt abstinence for me, because I've cut out cheese and milk)

Maybe you've lost some weight during the pre-pre fast - I lost three pounds.  Remember - I believe in slow weight loss, so I used my discipline to eat only good food, cut out sugars and other problems, re-dedicate myself to healthy exercise and other routines, and be mindful of and shave off portion sizes.

Waking up in the morning with an empty belly is such a reward.  I just feel better all day.  I hope you have shared this outcome with me through March!

Serure leaves the nature of our prefast in our hands, with guidance.  She instructs us to eat vegetables, dairy-free soups, salads and fruits.  We are to eat vegetables and fruits at different times, at least two hours apart.  Fruits (excluding high-acid fruits) are recommended for each breakfast of the prefast.  Likewise, she suggests raw vegetables for lunch and steamed vegetables for dinner (seasoned with fat-free tamari.)  She also provides a discussion of mono-diets, for those who are interested.

A minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of water is recommended per day, and Serure instructs us to abstain from carbonated water or other beverages, even naturally carbonated, because carbonation is hard on the stomach and we want to make things easy for our stomach.

I have some of my own ideas about healthy eating, so here's my prefast plan:

Breakfast: fresh fruit
Mid-morning or noon: steel-cut oats with a tablespoon of walnuts and stevia
Lunch:  cooked, raw, and fermented vegetables (including dense veggies like potatoes, in small portions)
Dinner: miso soup with seaweed and fermented veggies
Non-caffeine tea and lots of water through the day; fresh fruit at any time that is distanced from meals by at least two hours and not too late at night.

I do not skimp on portions - I eat as much as I want.  Considering everything in my diet for three days except the oatmeal, walnuts and potatoes is water-based and non-dense, I think that's appropriate as long as I reject compulsive or fearful eating.  I also avoid artificial sweeteners, candy, gum, etc.  They're not food.

Stay positive!  Write to me about your excitement!  I'm so happy we're doing this together.  I plan to post every day this week, if possible.

Later, Jenni

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tuning the Lute: Rituals to practice now and during the fast

There is hidden sweetness in the stomach's emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less.  If the soundbox
is stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and the belly are burning clearn
with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
The fog clears, and new energy makes you
run up the steps in front of you.
Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.
Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.
When you're full of food and drink, an ugly metal
statue sits where your spirit should.  When you fast, 
good habits gather like friends who want to help.
Fasting is Solomon's ring.  Don't give it
to some illusion and lose your power,
but even if you have, if you've lost all will and control,
they come back when you fast, like soldiers appearing
out of the ground, pennants flying above them.
A table descends to your tents,
Jesus' table.
Expect to see it when you fast, this table
spread with other fod, better than the broth of cabbages.
- Rumi, enlightened Sufi scholar and teacher, 1207 -1273
From 3Days to Vitality, Pamela Serure, 1997

I'll start my pre-fast on Sunday, March 28, in preparation for my juice fast beginning March 31.

In Part Two of Serure's book, the chapter headings are:
- Establishing Some New Rituals
- Exercises for a Spiritual Journey
- Setting the Stage
- The Prefast 
Those of you who are following 3Days to Vitality and have read it know that Serure's program is as much about cleansing mind and spirit as flushing toxins out of the body.  While I have picked over her suggestions and have happily substituted some of my own practices, I have found her approach generally sound.  Since I've already written about how I see mind, body and spirit connected, you may see why her approach is logical to me.

Serure recommends that the faster take a vacation from routine practices for the three days of the fast, taking off time from work if possible, and start preparing for that vacation well in advance (as one would for any vacation.)  While the three days of pre-fast beginning on Sunday prepare my body for the juice fast on Wednesday, I will spend some time each day preparing my mind and spirit for the benefits of the fast.  I'm sure you know that fasting has a long history in spiritual traditions and most religions; I plan to take advantage of my hard work in every way possible.  Just as I have musical, career, and physical strength goals, I also have spiritual goals that take work.

Serure's discussion of ritual is interesting - growing up Southern Baptist, I was not taught any rituals past saying thanks for food (which I highly recommend) and everything that goes on in a church service, including those in conjunction with weddings and funerals.  Also, my protestant heritage predisposes me to wariness regarding what may be seen as pagan-inspired ritual, repetitive prayers, etc.

But considering the rituals many of us engage in without thinking about it (everything from a first fart in the morning to cursing terrible drivers to getting a drink just because I'm in a bar to birthday cake to starting sentences with "I'm sorry but ..."), there's a lot to be said for personalized, mindful repetition of an action that feeds us spiritually.

Serure's suggestions are both spiritual and physical in nature:  skin-brushing, conscious bathing, meditation, "the ritual of sacred silence," enemas.

I don't do enemas, though her discussion is somewhat compelling.

I'll be re-reading all of this - she ain't my guru, but she's got lots of value to think on and use.

Later, Jenni


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Onward through the sunshine ...

Readers, I'll be on vacation for a week, so no more posts for awhile (hence all the posts today.)  I will also not be able to publish comments, but please keep them coming.

I walk beside you in your health journey wherever you are and wherever I am.  Enjoy feeling good! Use your strength and lightness!  Trust yourself!

Later, Jenni

Home-made Yogurt

Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz, 2003, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, White River Junctin, Vermont

When I realized how easy it was to make yogurt at home, I was amazed that it's taken me this long.  I started making yogurt back in January, and I haven't looked back since.  It saves money, I always have fresh yogurt on hand, and I don't have so many plastic containers to deal with.

Here's what you need to make 3 quarts:
- yogurt starter, which could be store-bought natural non-pasteurized, or your own from batch to batch.  Look for "live active cultures" on the label.  You'll need 3 tablespoons for 3 quarts.
- 3 quarts of fresh (as possible) low-fat milk.  Make sure it's not "ultra pasteurized."
- 3 quart jars with sealable lids (I use regular Ball jars.)
- a food thermometer (I bought one really cheap at Tuesday Morning.)
- a heavy-bottomed pot to heat the milk in, a stock pot to boil water in.
-  a warming container or system.  I use a small cooler with a broken lid - no longer suitable for camping.  Note:  I make three quarts of yogurt at a time because that's what will fit into my container.  Adjust this recipe to your own system.

Procedure - this is my system:
Part One:  Turn on your oven to 250; I take out my top rack.  Heat a gallon of water in a stock pot along with the jars and lids until boiling.  Simultaneously begin heating the milk on medium.  Stir the milk frequently so that less of a film will develop on the bottom of the pan and it won't scorch.  Get your container ready - in a stable location (I put it in the sink.)  Put the yogurt starter out so that it's not cold.

When the water boils, put the jars and lids into the container and pour the rest of the hot water in; close the lid.  This will heat the container.  Turn off the oven but don't open the oven door.

Heat the milk until it reaches 180 F.  Then turn off the burner and let the milk cool.

Part Two:  Cool the milk to 110 F.  Mix the yogurt starter in.  Don't be harsh with your mixing - these are live cultures looking for a new home.

Pour the hot water out of the container and jars.  Fill the jars with the milk / yogurt and seal with lids. Place the jars in the warming container.  Put the container in the warmish oven.

Part Three:  Leave the yogurt alone for at least 8 hours; overnight is fine.  Don't jostle it around - those microbes are busy.  Put a note on the oven to remind the household not to turn it on (yowch - that would be a mess.)

If the yogurt has not developed it's culture (firmed up) after 8 or so hours, gently stir in another tablespoon of starter per quart, make sure it's warm, and leave it.  This has not happened to me.

As you can see, it's all about maintaining a temperature that encourages the cultures to grow.  As it gets warmer here in Dallas in the coming months, I'll experiment with leaving the jars out in warm areas of my house.  Microbes are like all other living organisms - they have a relatively narrow range of temperature at which they're active, let alone alive.  My finished yogurt is in the photo at the top of this post - refrigerate and enjoy!

Later, Jenni

Aha! An extra week of pre-pre-fast!

When I said I had three weeks to ratchet down for Pamela Serure's 3Days to Vitality juice fast beginning March 28, I was oh so wrong.  Starting as I did on March 1, I actually have four weeks.

That fits in with my weight-loss plan just fine.  How about yours?

Later, Jenni

Stevia Sweet Sips

In classical Indian cooking, six tastes are recognized, and every meal will have some of each (in different proportions based on body type and other variables):  sweet,  sour,  salty,  bitter,  pungent,  astringent.

Sweet is what I want to talk about.  It's good to know that sweet is necessary; not evil.  If you try to cut out all sweetness from your diet it will be counter-productive.

Ayurveda is classical Indian wellness science; it teaches that food is how we sustain (or undermine) wellness in the body.  Iyengar tells us in Light on Life (written after a lifetime of study and practice when he was past 80) that "annamaya" is the first layer of material self, sustained by food, making up the food body, corresponding to the earth and water of planets.  This is old stuff - he didn't make it up (he just lived it his whole life and wrote about it in English, bless him.)

But people's attraction to sweet-tasting foods is so strong, wired from baby-hood, that it's easy to be caught and misled by sweet tastes.  For instance, we already know that refined sugars are addictive.  Thanks, reader Rebekah for helping us understand that from your perspective.

But there are many ways to include sweetness in your healthy diet that are non-addictive and appropriate to your nutritional needs.

Here are just a few:  fruit, meat, grains, nuts, milk, sweet potatoes and white potatoes, hard squashes, beets, carrots, teas.  Fruits - dried, fresh, and juice - can be used lots of ways.

The pineapple - papaya - strawberry blender juice drink described in my last post is a rewarding blast of fruit sugar when you need a boost - you'll feel like you must have been very good to deserve such a treat.

Here are three other "sweet sips" for your satisfaction.  They use the naturally sweet additive stevia, which is sold as a powder in health food stores; I buy it in packets.  Stevia is a product made from the "sweet leaf" plant, which can grow in Texas (I've seen it and tasted the leaf - it's sweet.)

1.) Hibiscus tea: sour, sweet, astringent
Dried culinary hibiscus flowers are sold by the bag in Mexican grocery stores under the name "Jamaica."  Pour boiling water over three or four of the buds to make three cups; they steep easily and create a very rich tea.  Sweeten with a packet of stevia (I use one packet per cup, then add more tea when I've drunk about half a cup.)

2.) Tamarind tea: sour, sweet
Buy tamarind paste in Mexican or Indian grocery stores.  Use about a teaspoon of the dense, sticky paste per cup of boiling water; sweeten with stevia.

3.) Sweet Almond Milk: sweet
Add a few drops of almond extract to a cup of low fat or skim milk.  Sweeten with a packet of stevia.  For a refreshing cold treat, put it in the blender with a few ice cubes and make a shake.

Also:  When you're out and want a treat, Starbucks has a great one.  Try a low-fat or fat-free "steamer," which is milk frothed up with steam, with a sugar-free flavoring.  My favorite is hazelnut.  I can't recommend artificially sweetened foods, but I must admit they fit my lifestyle sometimes.

Later, Jenni
P.S.  The top photo of the stevia plant is from wikipedia.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pineapple - Papaya - Strawberry Drink

It's amazing how long this has taken to sink in.  Industrial processing of food, additives such as preservatives and emulsifiers, added nutrients to make up for nutrition lost in processing, even packaging - all of these things serve the producer.    Processing has as its aim making foods "safe" for a long transportation and shelf life.  So it serves the consumer, too, if the only way you can get food is to buy it packaged from a shelf.  But fresh is best.  Don't you rediscover that every time you fix fresh food for yourself?

Through my life, "food" has been what I buy at grocery stores.  Gradually, over the years, I learned to prepare some fresh foods in place of the processed ones I'd bought; for years I never would have thought to make tomato sauce, vegetable broth, bone a chicken or broil a tuna steak.

I'm thankful for the large variety of foods I'm able to get in my city - I have little to gripe about, that's for sure.  The truth is, all of the ingredients I need to fix fresh healthy foods are right out there in the produce, meat, dairy and other sections of my favorite grocery stores.

It wasn't until I went on Serure's juice fast for the first time that it occurred to me to make fresh juice.  Even then, it seemed extravagant.  But now I've gotten used to drinking fresh juice, I would hate to do without it.

Here's a great recipe I've adapted from 3Days to Vitality.  It's the morning drink you have each of the three days of the fast.  It's made in a blender, so even if you never get a juicer, you can enjoy it.  I fix this for Tom and myself between meals when we need a boost, or in place of breakfast or dinner if we've been eating heavily or I'm cutting back for my pre-pre fast.

Pinapple - Papaya - Strawberry Drink

Combine in a blender and process until smooth:
Equal amounts sliced fresh pineapple and papaya, 6 - 8 strawberries to fill blender for two large glass servings.  Four tablespoons flax oil.  Water to help process and thin to desired consistency.  Save unused portion in the refrigerator and consume it soon.

Add flax meal if you want to delay the processing of sugar in your body.  Add ice for an especially refreshing drink on a hot afternoon.  Add yogurt, milk, or soy milk for a protein boost, a more substantive meal replacement.  Substitute frozen or fresh blueberries for the strawberries.


Later, Jenni

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Healing Mudras: Yoga for Your Hands, 2000, Sabrina Mesko, The Ballantine Publishing Group, New York
Power Mudras:  Yoga Hand Postures for Women, 2002, Sabrina Mesko, The Ballantine Publishing Group, New York 
Think about statues you've seen of angels, or paintings of saints, in which the figures have their hands held palms together in front of their heart, fingers up, in a gesture of piety.  That gesture is a mudra, and it's the universal hand posture of prayer.

Sabrina Mesko has brought years of study and thought to her two works on the subject, Healing Mudras, 2000, and Power Mudras, 2002.   When I lived in Austin 1998 - 2003, I quickly found and made a habit of visiting the wonderful metaphysical bookstore (of which Dallas has no equal) Whole Life Books .  I purchased Mesko's first book in 2000 and then was delighted when her second came out because my first was in tatters from use.  Mesko has since produced more materials, including a brand new DVD that I'm eager to see.

Mudras are meditation for restless folks like me - they give you something to do with your hands and breath, specific affirmations to meditate on, and some easy sanskrit chants (mostly internal, in my case) with which to bring the mind back from its wanderings.  When I was a girl, I learned in church that sanskrit was one of the languages The Holy Bible was originally written in, and I have ever since regarded it as a holy language.

Though both books are well-organized, the second features groups of two or three mudras to address specific needs.  For instance, in a grouping titled "Embrace Change" (a great focus for all of you transformational specialists out there), the mudras offered are "Facing Fear," "Meditation of Change," and "Patience."  I don't know about you, but patience is something I really need.  But nobody gives you patience - the world seems to just take it away.  You have to train yourself.

Here's one you'll like:  "Mudra for Vitality and Letting Go," in the grouping "Weight Issues."  Try it anytime; I find it helpful in the morning.  Practice this mudra for three minutes.

Sit with a straight spine.  Place your fists on your knees, palms facing up.  Concentrate on the base of your spine (chakra #1, yoginis.)  "Sit tall and attempt to stretch as if trying to get taller.  Be aware of the ground underneath you and the life force of the earth."  Breath with long, deep slow breaths.  Meditate on this affirmation: "I am releasing all negative energy and am making space for the new lighter and healthier me."  Optional sanskrit mantra (I like this one): Sat Nam (Truth is God's Name, One in Spirit.)  Quotes:  Power Mudras, etc., pp 96-97.

That's what works for me about mudra practice.  The time I spend on these meditations directly affects my emotional choices and ability to handle myself in the world.  Therapy is good - it has given me guidance and release.  Journalling is good - it helps me to know myself and analyze issues.  Good diet and exercise are necessary - they support my overall health and well-being.  But there's something about mudra practice that is different from anything else I've ever done and is a big part of my mental health right now.

The effects are subtle but definite.  When I spend twenty or thirty minutes of a morning in mudra practice, affirming my better self and what I want for my life, I become a more self-controlled person.  Since I understand self-control as a fruit of the spirit, I know this practice is connected to spiritual growth.  I have been naturally quick to anger; now I have a new "default" to go to in the moment of provocation that tells me "that's not how she meant that ..." or "isn't this silly, hah ..." or "I wonder what's happening on facebook ..." without any big emotional effort on my part.  I've already done the work.

There are deeper levels of transformation as well.  For some reason, I have been shy about directly asking for things, or even wanting things for my life.  If you know me that may seem strange - I'm always grasping at new ideas and striving for new vistas.  But that has been motivated by personality rather than true vision in my life.  My relationship with The Divine has been that of a prodigal daughter and bashful little sister, content with the swirling chaos of my existence, and while it's true The Bible tells us that "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these," we are also told to "give up childish things."  I am the steward of my life and have every reason to direct it with personal, studied vision.

Mudra practice has helped me see myself as unique and separate from others.  It has helped me see my core person, with boundaries and authentic, unique gifts.  I'm not afraid of myself, or of effects others can have on me.  It has shown me that I am a person with purpose and integrity separate from others, yet inextricably and joyously linked to all of humanity.  I have changed paradigm, and am healthier and safer for it.

Although I started experimenting with mudra practice back in 2000, I incorporated it steadily into my weekly routine only last year.  I have been characteristically resistant to routines of any kind in my life, especially anything "good for me," but the mudra practice has kept calling me back because the results are real and lasting.  My mind wanders, my feet fall asleep, but the practice still works.  I'm not looking for bliss.  I just want to show by the way I live my life every day how happy I am to be alive, how grateful I am; I want to show that by reflecting God's love.

Mudra practice is clearing my mind and re-shaping my emotional habits in order to do those things.  It is worth my time and attention.  It works.  I thank Sabrina Mesko quite often for this.

Later, Jenni

Tuesday brain food ...

SAINT OF THE DAY: St. Catherine of Bologna 1413-1463 – patron of art and artists and against temptations

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Sometimes we used to eat once a day... chicken backs. You could buy four chicken backs for a quarter. – Raul Julia

Thanks to my friend Pam for sending out Word of the Day!  Both of these bits of information seem oddly pertinent today.  The first, because I think I could use a patron saint against temptations, and the second because it's a good reality check regarding personal economy and global food context.  Things can certainly look different depending on which piece of the bird you get.

Later, Jenni

Monday, March 8, 2010

Week 2 of pre-pre fast

Last week's diet had it's ups and downs.

One up was a great bike ride Tom and I took on Saturday - 30 miles, the longest ever.  Some downs include forgetting I'd eliminated alcohol a couple of times (really, I forgot) and giving in to stress for a whole-wheat cracker and goat cheese binge one night.  It helps me that we only keep good food around the house - when I just let go and munch down, I don't do myself as much damage as in times past.

So you see why I give myself three weeks to ratchet down for the juice fast.

How's it going for you?

Later, Jenni

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Sometimes better is best.

Remember I said I wouldn't eat any cheese during my pre-pre fast?

Tonight I'm making yogurt, and the milk has been so milky as I've heated and stirred it ... mmm...

I don't make a habit of snacking on cheese (I had to give that up with other bad eating habits last year; cheese can be as bad as ice cream), but I have cheese with meals, especially vegetable soups or dals.  I've currently come to love queso fresco, and it's fun trying different varieties our local Fiesta Mart has on hand.  The brand I served up tonight, and it's great, is La Vaquita Fresh Salvadorian Style Cheese, Houston.  This link has an interesting story about the family that produces it.  Very milky!  Fresh cheeses are so fresh-tasting.

Yes, I am stalling from the point.

So, there was about 1 1/2 serving of the round left and I cut it up in little pieces and ate one of them, serving the rest to Tom, bless him, for we've gotten off our meal routine today and have gone past dinner.  And we shared the last piece.  I probably ate 1/5 of an ounce of this dense and delicious food, and really enjoyed the taste.  It's still in my mouth because of it's density.

So here's why better is sometimes best.

Although I chose contrary to my guideline (very un-aesthetic of me, un-puritan, imperfect and typical), I practiced new eating skills:  cutting and eating a smaller portion of (a historically binge) food, tying the evening's peaceful, pleasing milk and yogurt vibe with a celebratory food, and then writing about it.  Well, I guess that last's not an eating skill.  I digress.  Cheese makes me dreamy.

Although good may be the enemy of great when speaking of art, science, and romance, I think that better may sometimes be best in the realm of transformational development.

Later, Jenni

P.S. You know how homeopathy proposes that plant and other natural substances can be so profound in their impact that smaller amounts have the highest healing properties - to the point that some homeopathic remedies are based on plant or other essences that are nearly not there at all?  I think the same may be true for cheese ...  maybe chocolate too ...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Restorative Yoga Classes

Readers, I'll be taking off a couple of days because of workload, but I want to pass this time-sensitive information on:

Dallas yoga teacher Louise Applebome will be offering a series of restorative yoga classes at Move Studio in Dallas, Tuesday nights at 7:45.  Although this six-week course started last night, March 2, here's an encouraging word from the teacher:
There is still room in the series and MoveStudio will pro-rate the fee for new-comers.  So, by all means.  Let folks know we still have room.
They too can enjoy an hour and fifteen minutes of bliss every Tuesday night.
Or, encourage anyone to contact me for private or small-group restorative yoga sessions at my home studio at day/time of their choice.  Great idea for a date night--Partner restorative yoga before dinner and or bedtime!
Thanks so much.
Louise Applebome del norte yoga
214-696-1714 or 214-704-8980 
I don't have time right now to talk about how helpful restorative yoga has been for me, but I'll tell you that I use the techniques I learned all the time.  One of my binge triggers is stress, so it's been really important for me to learn how to relax.

Although I have not yet studied under Louise, I am convinced of her qualifications and the effectiveness of her approach based on her background.  Other restorative teachers in town that I can recommend as a student are Marge Rash at Iyengar Studio of Dallas and Mara Black at Dragon Fire.

Try it, you'll like it (and by the way, it's relaxing, not athletic), later, Jenni
P.S.  Upcoming topics:
"It's all in the recovery ..."
"Hunger ..."
"Dress for success (on the cheap) ..."
"Countdown to the juice fast ..."
"More adventures with home fermenting ..."
and of course, more recipes.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tom's cucumber pickles

Home pickling is way easier than I thought.  Tom and I have been trying different recipes and techniques for about a year, and we love making and eating these foods.  Honestly, what tipped us into home fermenting was our new lower-income lifestyle, brought about and intensifying over time since I quit my job as a teacher and became a full-time musician.  Plus, I was tired of dealing with all those condiment jars.  We don't have recycle service at our condos, and it's a pain to collect stuff (having to store trash around our little home) and take it to public bins (they keep moving them.)  I made a list of all the condiments we typically buy, and circled the ones I was willing to make.  Pickles, yes; mayonnaise, no.  Our subsequent results have been very satisfying for taste, and we've found out a lot more about nutrition.

Most pickles you can buy commercially are dead food.  That's what most of us grew up with and are used to - cucumbers pickled in vinegar and pasteurized.  Pasteurization kills bacterial cultures, which is a good thing in it's place.  But what about the good bacteria - the cultures we need inside us to digest food?  Is it possible that people are going around half-starved no matter how much they eat because of the absence of these traditional ferments from the typical diet?

Home fermentation is an ancient craft; it uses the healthy bacteria around us as food.  Take heart: you can safely incorporate home ferments into your diet and reap the benefits - you can learn to recognize the difference between bacteria that's food and bacteria that can make you sick.  In fact, I will say although I have no scientific support for this, I think the good bacteria helps you fight the bad bacteria.  Neither Tom nor I has had a cold or other bacterial (or viral) illness this year - news for us.

Tom's Cucumber Pickle Procedure

You'll need:
3lbs of cucumbers; small "persian" varieties available at asian markets are especially nice.
1/3 cup table salt
3-4 clean, sealable quart jars
large mixing bowl

Wash the cucumbers and cut them into one inch slices.  Put them in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on the salt; mix with your hands so that all sides of the slices are coated with salt.  Leave for fifteen minutes.

Put the salted slices into a colander and rinse them with fresh water; also rinse out the bowl.  Drain the slices and return them to the bowl.  Sprinkle or mix in seasoning; mix with your hands to coat.

Put the slices in jars, but don't pack them down.  Leave at least one inch of space at the top.  Seal with lids and store in the refrigerator.  The pickles will be ready to eat the next day, but they mellow over time.  Eat them up in about three weeks - they get mushy after awhile and the fermentation gets pretty intense.


Tom has tried two different purchased seasonings so far for our many batches of pickles.  We like spicy pickles, so that's what I can tell you about.

First, he used Noh Foods of Hawaii brand Korean Kim Chee Mix, which can be purchased in a packet at asian grocery stores.  Ingredients:  chili pepper, garlic, ginger, shrimp, salt, sugar.  Use half of the packet.

Later, he started using a jarred paste condiment found at Hong Kong Market:  Master brand Chili Garlic.  Ingredients:  chili, garlic, salt, sugar, sesame oil.  This was just an experiment, but it worked well, so we're using up the whole jar.  Use 1/3 cup.

For his next batch, Tom intends to concoct his own seasoning mixture - I'll pass it on when he does.  It's a logical progression for us to do this since we're moving away from purchased condiments and packaged foods.  Especially foods that come very long distances; the Chili Garlic paste comes from Taiwan.

Thanks for asking, later, Jenni