Clean eating Pumpkin Pie ice cream

So yesterday my boss and I were bored at work and decided we wanted something sweet and different than the usual. We ended up whipping up an amazing vegan, gluten free pumpkin pie ice cream. It turned out to be more slushie like but it tasted absolutely amazing.

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I modified it a little for my tastes and with what we had on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. 4 bananas
  2. 1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée
  3. 1/3 cup brown sugar syrup
  4. 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  5. 2 tsp cinnamon

To make the syrup I mixed 1/3 cup packed brown sugar and 1/3 cup boiling water. You’ll have some extra leftover but it’s great in coffee, on pancakes and anything else you might cook up. I put all of the ingredients in a blender and mixed it all up. I put it in the freezer over night and viola! It was amazing and completely guilt free.

100 Days of Meditation Day 5: Dozing away

I may have spoke too soon about the sleeping thing.. I woke up twice in the middle of the night last night, but didn’t have too much trouble getting back to sleep, so it wasn’t too bad. Overall, my sleep did feel restful, and I guess that’s really all that matters. I have definitely noticed that I’ve been a lot less groggy in the mornings, and that’s something I can totally be on board with.

Anyway, before I start babbling about all things random I’m going to get on with tonight’s session and sign off. I already talked an arm and a leg off about coffee, so I won’t keep you unnecessarily long. Today’s session I just felt like I was drifting off the whole time. I didn’t really find my mind wandering to concrete things, but I just kinda zoned out completely. There really was no focus to the meditation and I’m not sure if it’s due to the fact that I did it an hour later than usual or because I’m exceptionally tired. Either way, I don’t feel like I got a whole lot out of tonight, except that it was a lot easier to sit through.

Until tomorrow, namaste

Another Little Piece of My Heart… and a cold brew coffee recipe

Facebook’s “on this day” feature is an interesting little creature. Sometimes I look at my old posts and wonder what I was thinking. Other times, I look at it and am like, “Damn straight that’s true.” Finally, occasionally, it gives me something that I end up thinking about all day. Today was one of those days I had a thought provoking post.

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Honestly, this post makes the statement a little bit ironic because a piece of my mind is going in to this post, but it stuck with me all day and I felt the need to say something. I was raised to put a piece of my heart in to everything I do, to be authentic with people, and just give a damn in general. I’m not saying I was raised to be a pushover, I’m a strong and independent spirit. However, I was taught that while my current job isn’t my career or dream job that I need to put my heart in to it and care while I’m there. I also learned that being genuine is worth a heck of a lot, even if people think it’s crazy. Additionally, I learned that you should treat every opportunity as if it may be a game changer.

I moved to the east coast a little over a year ago, and what I’ve observed is so far from any of that it makes me want to go back to Iowa some days. Granted, at the same time, I’m aware most people don’t go after what makes them happy, they’re just in it for the money. Anyway, I’m getting side tracked… I’ve been working for an up and coming coffee shop for the past year, and have literally poured my heart and soul in to every cup of coffee I’ve served our guests. There are many reasons why I’ve done this. For one thing, the company I work for has an amazing mission and core values, they’re focused on being open and authentic. I can literally say they’re my kind of people, and I couldn’t be happier working for them, even though it’s been the hardest/most stressful job I’ve ever had. I love getting to educate our guests on different aspects of coffee culture, explain why cold brew iced coffee is ten times better than pouring hot coffee over ice or letting hot coffee cool, and I could probably go on about this for ten years. I’m like a cheese monger, but for coffee. I love the idea of trying something new and falling in love with coffee in a whole new way. This is all coming from someone who used to think that gas station cappuccinos were the best thing ever… They’re not even a real capp.

Again, I find myself side tracked, *sigh* you can expect this a lot when I start talking about coffee. I don’t know why some of my passions lie in coffee, but they do, and I’m gonna roll with it because I love it.. Anywho, working for this coffee shop for the past year I’ve seen a lot of people come through, in front of and behind the counter. There are people with a true love of coffee, people who just want to get a paycheck (hate to break it to you, you’re in the wrong business for this…), some just want something to do, and some just light up like a Christmas Tree when they get going. Working in coffee is a lot of hard work, but it can be so worth it sometimes. I’ve had people ask a simple question about coffee and I’ve explained a long drawn out process only to have them tell me how much they appreciate that I’ve taken the time to give them a better understanding. I’ve given guests recipes to make things at home, and concocted some of my own creations.

I’ve also worked in a bagelry and a big restaurant whilst living here, and the general consensus I’ve come to is that people don’t give a rats ass about what they’re doing. It makes absolutely no sense to me how people can’t put in any sort of effort. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that you are just working here for now, I’ve had in-between jobs, and temporary positions. I just don’t get how people can go through life and just skate through without putting in a little heart in it. A little piece of your heart can go a heck of a lot farther than a piece of mind. Just think about it for a little bit.

Now to the recipe:

Orange Hazelnut Cold Brew Coffee

1 Orange
2 cups packed coarse-ground Hazelnut Flavored coffee
2 Quarts filtered water

Zest half of the orange, and add to the hazelnut coffee inside of a coffee filter. Tie the filter shut with a piece of string. Add the water and let it sit at room temperature for 14 hours. Remove the filter with zest and coffee and filter cold brew if necessary. If the coffee is too strong, you can dilute it with more filtered water, but it’ll vary pending your tastes. You can store it in the fridge for up to a week.

I never would have thought to add orange to coffee, but a small little hipster coffee shop added espresso to orange juice once and I was in love. I’m obsessed with cold brew coffee and the next obvious step was infusion. You can add more or less zest to fit your tastes.

100 Days of Meditation Day 4: Weight of the World

I don’t know what happened to Day 3’s post, but I didn’t realize until this afternoon that it wasn’t showing up on the site, so I apologize. It’s up and posted now, and trust me, I did my meditation yesterday. I felt a sort of excitement when it got close to time for me to meditate (I’ve found around 7:30-9 is the best time for me to meditate. J is house sitting for his aunt and uncle for two weeks, so this will be a great kickstart to my practice, it’ll give me two weeks to establish it before I have to really, solidly, address it with him. It’s not that I don’t think he’d be okay with it, I just know he’ll think it’s stupid. I need to find a way to approach it so he understands how much it means to me. I figure if I have 2 weeks under my belt already I may have an enlightening thought or two to help back me up. Speaking of enlightenment…..

I’m not sure if it has anything to do with the meditation or the fact that J is out of the apartment, but I feel like I’m sleeping ten times better than usual. I’ve been going to sleep before 9 and don’t wake up before my alarm. Usually, I wake up at least once a night, or am up at like 3am and try to force myself to get more sleep before I need to be up at 4:30-4:45. Honestly, it’s probably a bit of both. On the one hand I really miss J when he’s not here, and I don’t have anyone next to me in bed, and on the other, I love not having to share a bed. Either way, I’m going to give at least some credit to the meditation, because the meditation deserves it.

Anyway, on to today’s session… I was searching the app store and found this app called OMG I can Meditate! and while I really do enjoy the wild mind guided meditation, I also want to try multiple different meditation guides through this challenge. This will help keep my interest up, and it’ll help me find the things I like and don’t like. The app has some stuff you have to pay for, but they also have a good number of free guided meditations, so I decided to just give it ago. Today I listened to Week 1; Day 1 and chose the 16 minute meditation. The thing that I really liked, and stuck out to me was there were 4 different length options so that I could choose between 12 and 18 minutes for my session. Since the wildmind meditation I’ve been using the past two days is 12 minutes I wanted to challenge myself to go a little bit longer.

There were a few things I noticed during this practice. First of all, my back wasn’t as tense and sore as it has been the past week or two. This is another combined effect between the meditation and J, I believe. He gave me a pretty great back rub yesterday when I told him it was bothering me, but I also know that meditation is great for all sorts of pain and health issues. Secondly, as I got in to the meditation I felt as if there was this pressure weighing me down. I mostly felt it in my arms and shoulders, and am not sure if it was supposed to insinuate the pressure I put on myself, or the weight of everything I carry and try to take responsibility of. In retrospect, it wasn’t really an uncomfortable weight, but it was definitely pressing and kept me slightly distracted.

Finally, I felt more alert today than I have since the beginning of this challenge. It seems as if each day I’m a little more alert than the last, so we will see where this trend leads. For the first time I kept finding myself wandering to different aspects and thoughts. Putting away dinner leftovers, things I needed to accomplish at work, the schedule I need to help write the next two weeks, etc. I definitely found myself trying to guide myself back to my breathing more than usual. I think this is why I enjoy guided meditations so much. When I’m listening to a voice in the background guiding me, it’s harder to find my mind wandering off because I’m focusing on my breath and the speaker. I’m sure I’ll be able to move away from the guided meditations as I get further in to the practice, but for now they’re exactly what I need.

You would think that 4 minutes wouldn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not that long of a period of time. I definitely noticed that towards the end of the meditation, I was starting to get antsy, and wondering when it would be over. I pushed myself through to the end, but it was definitely harder than the past three days. I’m going to try and aim to stay at the 16 minute mark for a few days and then push myself to go a little bit longer. If I can get up to maybe 30 minutes in the next couple of weeks I’d be really happy with that.

Another weird thought that kept coming up in my head as I meditated was, “If I’m focusing on my breathing how am I supposed to observe it? Isn’t becoming aware of my breath making me choose my breathing pattern?” It just kept swirling around and around in my head. It’s like if you start to think about blinking, you start to manually blink. Doesn’t the same apply to breathing? How do I observe my breath without disrupting my breathing pattern?

Honestly, sometimes I wonder where all my crazy random thoughts come from. Oh well… Until tomorrow.

Namaste

100 Days of Meditation Day 3: Is this thing on?

I realize this is just day 3 and my meditations have been only about 15 minutes each day, but I’m finding myself excited to hit the ground sitting. This is probably due to the fact that my life is so chaotic currently that the 15 minutes I make an effort to sit down and quiet my mind are like a mini-vacation. Today was hard, not only did I find myself wandering a lot, my I feel like I was focusing so much it was detrimental. I found myself with these abstract images that related to the thoughts I was working to quiet for a few minutes. Despite the restlessness of my mind today I was excited to step another day further in to this journey. 

I know I need to work on my posture, but my back has been bothering me. So sitting up straight hurts a lot right now. I may have to try a pillow behind my back tomorrow or something. 
I found myself wondering today, “Is this thing on?” Regarding the practice, is it possible to be doing this wrong? It’s been so long since my last regular meditation practice that I’m not sure if I’m even reaping any benefits. I suppose I’ll just have to keep going and see where this journey takes me. 
Namaste

100 Days of Meditation Day 2: Meditation Routine

Well folks, we survived day two, and today didn’t feel too difficult. I’ve decided that an evening meditation is perfect for me because as a barista, I’m up early most mornings, and getting up even earlier to meditate will just make me too tired. I would eventually like to work my schedule so that I can do a quick 5 minute meditation in before work in the morning, but I’m going to start with baby steps, work on my evening meditation before I try and take leaps and bounds.

Today was definitely hard in the sense that I ended up getting stuck at work late, and I almost fell asleep on the couch before I even started my practice. My mind even tried to talk me out of it, saying I could just sit twice tomorrow. I resisted, pulled through and sat through a wonderful meditation. I really enjoy meditation guides to help me keep my mind from wandering, they are kind of a jolt in a sense that when my mind starts to go off in a million directions during my practice it helps me to hear that voice and bring me back to where I want to be focused.

The past two days I’ve enjoyed a wonderful breathing meditation from wildmind and have found it easy to get myself in to and isn’t too incredibly long. As tired as I felt, and as much as I dozed off yesterday, I’m happy to report that none of that occurred today. A couple times I found myself so deep within my meditation that I didn’t really know where I was within it, but I was awake and alert the whole time. I guess I just need to make an effort to do my meditation before 9pm. Wow, now I just sound like an old lady, but seriously, I’m a major morning person, and go to bed before 10pm most nights.

You know, it’s funny, I haven’t regularly blogged in so long that I feel like I’m just writing with no sort of structure, but maybe that’s what I need right now. Just word vomit all over the page and get back in to the groove of writing. To be completely honest, part of the reason I’m doing this challenge is because I wanted to have something to write about, daily, for a set amount of time, so that I could get back in to the groove a little bit easier. Never fear, I promise the next 100 days won’t be just about my meditations, I fully intend to write posts on other topics throughout this journey, but for me, this is just a starting point. A kick in the pants so to speak, allowing me to have at least one thing, every day, that I can use to stretch my writing muscles and find my groove again.

That’s about all I have for the night, until tomorrow, Namaste.

100 Day Meditation Challenge

Whoa, two posts in one day? Now that’s just crazy talk. Have you ever just jumped in to something, and ran full speed towards it, but hesitated at the last second? I feel like that’s exactly what happened with this blog. I was incredibly excited to start it and get things rolling and then I reached the edge of the cliff and I just couldn’t jump. I could probably use years of therapy, but up until recently have been too stubborn to admit it. I used to see it as something bad to need therapy, but I’ve come to the realization that it can only better my life. Silently, I’ve always suffered from anxiety, depression and eating disorders. Due to these things I carry around a lot of self doubt, unnecessary baggage, and many other things that I know hold me back in my day to day life. Yet, despite how much I hold myself back every once in a while that distorted veil I see the world through breaks open and reveals the kind of person I truly am and other people can see.

So what does any of that have to do with anything relevant? Well, you see, there was one time, when I was a freshmen in college that I caved for like five minutes and went to see a therapist. He was the therapist my parents sent my little brother to when they got divorced and he started having anger issues. The trigger of this visit was that I had an anxiety attack in the middle of my first college exam, and I walked in there 100% expecting to be handed a prescription for a medication. I live in the U.S. and that’s the norm here. Oh, you have a problem? Here take this drug that has a long list of side affects that we will later treat with other drugs. Sorry, I’m getting side tracked now, I promise, no more medical system bashing… Anywho, what I got was something that would strike a chord with me and stick with me even when my life ended up all sorts of topsy-turvy. He prescribed me meditation, once a day, for a minimum of 5 minutes. He even provided me with a book to read called The Relaxation Response and gave me a guided meditation.

Now, this was 4 years ago, and I can’t even begin to explain the things that have happened in the past 4 years, but I can tell you that meditation completely changed my life. I fell out of practice just a few months after this prescription, but I always find myself wandering back around to it. Well, this is one of those times where my spirit wandered back around and actually persistently stuck with me for a few weeks. My life has been so crazy hectic this past year, and I’m in desperate need of some balance.

So, without further ado, the real reason I sat down behind the keyboard tonight. I’ve decided that I need to challenge myself to find that balance, to bring the calm back in to my life, and maybe make some long overdue changes. Today marks the 1st of 100 days straight of meditation. I don’t care how crazy my schedule looks (I’m currently scheduled to work 6 days this upcoming week), I’m going to make sure I sit, for a minimum of 5 minutes a day, and just be still.

Today I did 8 minutes, because it’s a really bad idea to drink Celestial Sleepytime Tea and then sit down, in the dark, and listen to a calming meditation. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Has your life become a whirlwind of crazy? Are you over-working yourself to make ends meet? Is your stomach constantly in knots because you’ve got a world of worries on your shoulders? Are you none of the above? I challenge everyone, to follow along with me on this journey. It’s going to be a bumpy road, and some days 5 minutes may feel like an eternity, other days 40 minutes will fly by so fast you won’t even realize the world won’t collapse without you for a while. I promise, we’re in this together.

Namaste