Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I never liked diets

And here's one I really can't handle: The Great American Apparel Diet.

The women who put together this blog have vowed not to buy any new clothes (excluding things like underwear) for a year. I'll be curious to see how this turns out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Walk with me

This article in Shine quotes a Rutgers researcher who explains why couples who exercise together are also more connected. (The comments readers have on the article shed light on why couples who don't exercise together might get disconnected!)

I go to belly dancing and power yoga classes on my own, but once a week the Scholarly Gentleman and I take an Iyengar yoga class together.

How much does this help our relationship? Not sure. But I have noticed that it helps us come home from class and prepare and enjoy a much healthier dinner than we would usually eat. Last night I stir fried garlic, a hot pepper, ginger, carrots, zucchini, cabbage, and tofu with a mushroom broth sauce. This is a Szechuan recipe I learned from a New Haven restaurant and martial arts center many years ago. We put the stir-fry on brown rice, and it was delicious.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The holidays are coming: Cookies!

Was it really three years ago that I wrote about cookie decorating for Joe Kissell's Geeky Gourmet site? Since then, I've discovered I don't really like cookies that much. But I was glad that I finally cracked the mystery of how to get them perfectly decorated.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Flow yoga

Susan Powter stopped teaching her Fremont yoga class last month, so I've been back to belly dancing at Visionary Dance studios, taking the Power Belly class (belly dancing with a special weight belt) on Thursday evenings. I'm also doing Iyengar yoga at Taj Yoga at the Crown Hill Community Center on Mondays.

But I really miss the Ashtanga and Vinyasa styles of yoga that Susan was doing with us because they provide a tougher workout.

If you've read this blog much, you know that one of the biggest barriers to exercise for me is getting comfortable in a new class environment. A new studio. Strange classmates. A new teacher, with new terminology.

But somehow I got myself over to the Power Flow Yoga class at 11:30 a.m. at Ballard Health Club. Outstanding! The instructor, Carl, teaches the Baron Baptiste type of power vinyasa flow yoga; I'd read Baptiste's book, but had never done one of the classes. I found it to be completely do-able, and I hope to become a regular on Sundays. I encountered a couple of new poses, including The Fish.

And I liked the studio at the Ballard Health Club. It's underground, has a great sound system, and they dim the lights, and it's very easy to forget the rest of the world and focus on the, the practice. Susan used to have us work out to rock and hip hop, which I loved. Carl uses Nick Drake-style indie pop tunes, and that was a pleasant surprise.

Ballard Health Club offers several yoga classes including Power Yoga Wednesday evenings, Saturday mornings, and Sunday afternoons and Carl's Power Flow Yoga on Sundays (late morning). The club also has a variety of payment options, including memberships, drop-in, etc., this some of the most affordable yoga in town.


I have a love/hate relationship with the grapevine. It came with the house, and every other year, it has lots of grapes. They're Candice (also Canadice and Candace) grapes — a red grape that makes a wildly colored pink grape juice.

The vines get pruned every January or February. This year I was sure I'd pruned too harshly — all the way back to old wood — but there are certainly plenty of grapes now. Go figure.

The vine is trained to a high arbor, so harvesting the grapes involves climbing a fairly large ladder and plunging my head and arms into a jungle of grape leaves. Once a cluster of grapes is clipped, it then needs to be lowered through the tangle of vines, grapes, leaves, and arbor structure to a basket. This results in a hail of grapes, with about 3/4 actually making it into the basket.

One year I was snipping away at the grapes when I realized a pair of eyes were staring at me from the grape leaves — one of the cats had clambered up into the arbor to "help" me.

I harvested about half of the grape crop this past weekend, and have been giving grapes to the neighbors.

Candice grapes are supposedly a fairly unusual variety, but I saw some Candice vines for sale in the garden shop at the Ballard Market last week. This is your chance to embark on a love/hate relationship with a grapevine. Don't miss out.