Thursday, June 24, 2010

Guest House

My home is happy when it's full of company. It's the Oscars of the domestic craft and an opportunity to practice my life's motto "what's mine is yours". More than orchestrating an elaborate welcome committee of ironed linens and luxurious goodies, when it comes to making your guests feel at home it's truly the thought that counts.

My strategy is always motivated by what I would love as a guest. As much as I crave the familiar when I travel, I also love taking advantage of being away from my routine (and my comfort zone) to indulge in things that I wouldn't normally be inclined to enjoy at home. I think the key is to think both inside and outside the box. Yes, you need to have a spare toothbrush and toothpaste on hand, but what about all the little things one forgets to pack? A stroll down the travel sample aisle can alleviate the need for your visitors to ask you for a razor or some shampoo. House all of the necessities in a basket and you'll be giving your guests permission to help themselves without having to say a word.

My favorite part of preparing for my guests' arrival is being creative in how I display all of the wildly indulgent accoutrements I've gathered for their stay! I like to find unique and unexpected containers from around my apartment. I bought this old tack box from Smith and Chang in Jersey City and stuffed it with a turkish hammam towel from my travels, a sea sponge and some soaps and oils for the bath.

A small vase of flowers next to where they sleep is a simple and beautiful way to let them know you're happy they're there. It doesn't have to be a grandiose the photo below, one stem cut from my flower boxes did the trick.

I like to save unsuspecting treats like perfume and lotion samples, which are fun to experiment with when you're away from home. They feel decadent when displayed on a silver tray.

I keep a pile of magazines and books in an old french market basket next to their bed.

A tour of the fridge and a pot of coffee made the night before allow your guests to wake up without you. Have fun with the preparations and let your enthusiasm infiltrate everything you do. "Love and beauty are within you. Try to express them through your actions and you will definitely touch the very source of bliss." -Amma

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Friendly Mantras

If I'm having a bad day I usually call up one of my girlfriends to remind me that my life is actually a bright and sunny place. They're remarkable, good friends, because they know exactly how to snap you out of it. Truth be told, our friends are usually a heck of a lot nicer to us than we are to ourselves. If we asked our friends to describe us they would make us blush. We might be told that we're compassionate, strong, beautiful and inspirational. If we asked ourselves we would probably just go on and on about how we're not good enough and it would be as if we were talking about a completely different person.

The problem with this unending negative chatter is that all of those seemingly innocent, self-deprecating thoughts string together to create deeply-rooted beliefs about who we are. After all, a belief is just a thought we have over and over's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Borrowing from neurologist Dr. Joe Dispenza in the brilliant (but weird) documentary, What the Bleep Do We Know, our brain releases thought-specific chemicals that circulate through our bodies and are absorbed by our cells. Every time we think "I am not enough", our cells are swimming in our negativity. The cells divide and their sister cells are born with more receptors to accept these popular chemicals. Addicted to our own mantras, we become what we think.

What would your friends have to say about all of this?! They would slap you across the face and tell you to quit making your body a breeding ground for such atrocities! Your inner circle is potentially the most accurate reflection of your true Self. They're able to see through your cloud of ignorance and identify you as a keeper. They've earned access to your heart with their consistent support and encouragement of the you you're often quick to shoot down. They walked you down from the ledge of "not enough" and empowered you to embrace your potential.

Your homework is to meditate on those positive mantras. Close your eyes and ask yourself what your friends would say about you and then create a mantra using their words. Every time you observe yourself undermining the words of your girlfriends, image what they'd say to get you back on track ("Snap out of it!"). Visualize your friends circled around you, each one reflecting the real you back to you. "I am wise. I am strong. I am beautiful". Repeat and be prepared to smile.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Yogi Dinner

Hell froze over last Saturday when Billy (carnivore and hater of green vegetables) suggested I cook gluten-free pasta for our friends Katie (vegan with a gluten allergy) and Keith (vegetarian). This coming from the man who drinks Coca-Cola to stay hydrated - I almost died from the shock. "Hey, if it's bad we can always just order a pizza." I appreciated his flexibility but that's not how I roll. Then again, I had to admit that vegan and gluten-free cooking was beyond my comfort zone of butter, flour and cream. Plus, I had a busy day on Saturday and needed to find something quick and easy to cook after teaching yoga for eight hours. I was hoping that with a little finesse I could make this gluten-free pasta work.

I needed maximum flavor in the form of vegetables (in any color other than green). My saving grace came in the form of cherry tomatoes. Roasted for twenty minutes at 400 degrees, they pop and ooze and (when drizzled with olive oil) make their own perfect sauce. I sautéed some shallots in olive oil and said a little prayer as I threw the DeBoles Gluten-Free Multi Grain Penne into the pot. The box said 12-15 minutes which sounded suspicious so I set the timer for 8 minutes in the hopes of catching it before it got soggy. No such luck. After 8 minutes it was pretty mushy but it didn't really matter once I doused it in goat cheese (for the non-vegans)! Goat cheese makes everything taste better, especially with the roasted tomato/shallot combination. (Note to my readers: You can obviously make this dish with any pasta you want. The roasted tomatoes are like candy and the goat cheese just melts in your mouth.) The final product? Billy went back for seconds! Katie was happy and I was thrilled that I'd managed to pull of a tasty meal without the use of butter.

I had set the table the night before knowing that there wouldn't be enough time when I got home from work. Instead of buying flowers I just used things already in my home. The thyme plant looked rustic and wild in the center of the table and I threw some lemons in an old ironstone bowl for color. I served my new favorite Cabernet, California Karma, which was a cheeky addition to our yogi dinner. There was no time to cook dessert so I bought fresh cherries from the farmers' market.

More than the food, I truly enjoyed the gift of a relaxing evening with good friends. We talked from the heart and laughed till we cried. Ellie loved being the center of attention and was so excited to play with her godparents. She collapsed at the end of the night, exhausted from happiness.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lipstick Kick

As many of you know, I've gone off the lipstick deep end. I find this to be noteworthy because for years I was unconsciously convinced that yoga teachers didn't wear makeup. I'm not sure where I picked this up, but I've been obeying my self-imposed uniform for years. Tired of my neutral palate, I dove into color and I finally feel like my lips match my mood! This post is dedicated to those of you who've asked me to dish the make and number of my new favorites. Hey, yoga teachers can look good!

On the far left is the perfect neutral pink; Chanel Rouge Allure #82. In the middle is a bright but clean color from Chanel; Rouge Coco #34. The one on the far right is a "won't lose you in a crowd" fuchsia that I adore (which I'm wearing in the above picture); Giorgio Armani, Rouge d'Armani #514. I apply the lipsticks with a lip brush for a more casual look (no pencil). You're gonna look so colorful demonstrating handstand!