Farro Frenzy!

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I first discovered farro at True Food Kitchen (one of my favorite restaurants!) when it came with the delicious roasted chicken dish I ordered. I was blown away with how tasty it was and yet I had never even heard of — excuse me, waiter, how do you pronounce it? — FAHR/roh! Once you get the hang of saying it, you can put some of the Italian accentuation back into it because it is indeed an Italian grain (and the oldest cultivated grain in the world). And it’s a godsend in my book because it’s delightfully chewy, super versatile and easy to make. You can do so much with this antioxidant-filled whole grain (it has gluten but has weaker levels than wheat, making it easier to digest) since the grain absorbs flavors really well. So this was my attempt at recreating one of my favorite side dishes at True Food Kitchen and, as a meal, it turned out super yummy! Here’s my recipe:

Farro

Chicken Stock

Dried Cranberries (a handful)

Spinach (a handful)

Pine Nuts (walnuts work too)

Combine one part farro and three parts chicken stock in a pot and bring to a boil. Bring the heat down to low and toss in your dried cranberries. Let it simmer for 15 minutes and you’ll see the cranberries plump back up. Once the stock has almost been absorbed, add your spinach and let it wilt for a minute or so. Dish it up and sprinkle some chopped pine nuts on top. And presto! You’ve got yourself a healthy and tasty meal.

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Backbends on the Brain

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Backbends have been quite an obsession of mine in my yoga practice since the new year began (and since I’ve started practicing with Yogaglo). I feel very driven at the moment to bend my body in poses that completely open up my heart. Backbends have always been fascinating to me because one needs to have a lot of strength in the pose, as well as an incredible sense of lightness. It’s the balancing of sukha and stiram, ease and steadiness, in these postures that the yoga gurus spoke of.

When I’m in these back-bending poses, a powerful feeling of vulnerability comes over me, as the entire front of my body is opening and expanding. But I find that this type of vulnerability, if I breathe and relax, is very liberating. It’s like I’m releasing all kinds of positive emotions like compassion and love and offering them up into the world. I sort of feel like Leeloo, the supreme being, in the last scene of The Fifth Element (one of my favorite movies), experiencing the emotion of love for the first time ever (sorry for being a spoiler if you haven’t seen it). She strikes an impressive backbend as a beam of light shoots out of her chest and she saves the world. Obviously, back-bending isn’t always this dramatic, but you can catch my drift. Backbends generally serve a great purpose for me right now, as they make me feel alive, compassionate and like I can save the world with my supreme-beingness!

I think I got the back-bending bug when I first saw these Daniel Stark photographs of Kathryn Budig in Santorini, Greece. Wouldn’t you love to have a photographer follow you around somewhere on an island, while you wear a flowy, cotton dress and slip into some effortlessly beautiful yoga poses? I would! Have the best weekend!

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Gypsy Blues

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I’ve been feeling like a total nomadic gypsy lately; constantly in route to another destination and never being able to just settle into one space I can call my own. Most of the 4.5 years that my boyfriend and I have been together has consisted of me travelling back and forth between my mother’s house (where I still primarily live for the time being) and his house.  A couple of years ago, in the middle of one of my bouts of frustration concerning this going back and forth craziness, I realized that this living-out-of-a-duffel-bag-lifestyle  has been a part of my life since my parents got divorced when I was very young. Instead of packing up my belongings to head over to my father’s house for the week, I’m packing a few things to spend time with my boyfriend for a day or two at a time. I know I am choosing this way of living for very good reasons, but it’s tiring!

While I have always been drawn to gypsies and secretly like the idea that my current lifestyle is the closest thing I can come to ever being a gypsy, I am a serious homebody at heart. And soon my nomadic lifestyle will change. My boyfriend and I have some plans in the works and I couldn’t be more thrilled about the idea of inhabiting ONE place. While my days of constantly uprooting myself are soon coming to an end, I’m realizing that I have learned and could learn more of, what yogi gurus call aparigraha, to be free from hoarding or collecting. Something that gypsies learned centuries ago. They take only the essentials and keep a few special knick-knacks they find along their way that will eventually be left behind and replaced with some new-found objects. It’s this cycle of throwing away what isn’t needed and making room for new things that serve a purpose in my life that has been a lesson that I haven’t entirely grasped yet in my “travels,” if I may call them that. I’ve  learned I don’t need to bring three pairs of boots to my boyfriend’s or the last four seasons of How I Met Your Mother with me. Although those things somehow make me feel safe and cozy, because they are things that I can call mine, they don’t need to go with me. I do feel that I need some objects in my life that give me a sense of contentment, but it is the cultivation of non-attachment to those things that will ultimately be better for my soul. So that when I lose my favorite necklace or someone steals my lap top, I can still be ME and live my life.

Here’s an appropriate quote from B.K.S Iyengar in Light on Yoga, on the topic of non-hoarding: “the yogi makes his life as simple as possible and trains the mind not to feel the loss or the lack of anything. Then everything he really needs will come to him by itself at the proper time” (35-36). Perfection! In keeping with the gypsy theme and their mastering of aparigraha (yogi’s and gypsies go well together, I feel), here is some of my favorite photography inspired by those earth-wandering gypsies.

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And here are some of Iain Mckell’s beautiful photographs of modern-day gypsies:

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Images via: We Heart It, Honestly WTF, Inspire Bohemia, Tumblr, Born To Be Wild

Forget the Plans

TO GO WITH STORY BY STEPHANIE PERTUISETThis undated photo received 20

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” -John Lennon

In order to keep my head on straight, I set intentions for myself everyday. They are mostly mental/emotional intentions that I write down, the usual ones being let go, don’t be so hard on yourself, take your time; be patient and the most frequent one I write down, breathe. These intentions follow a pretty long list of things to do in my day (along with the enormous amount of pressure I put on myself to get things done). But today I want to abandon my calculative ways and let the day bring me what it may. Things can wait. So today’s page of To Do’s just says: forget your plans, Tori. Just be. I’m already feeling light as a feather. Enjoy yourself this week, everyone:)

Photo Source: The Red List