Tea Time

I have a confession to make……I am a coffeeholic. Yes it’s true. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is turn the coffee pot on. The minute I pour the first cup and taste the warm goodness, I am automatically in a good mood. Recently, I have embarked on a journey to wellness. I am quickly approaching 40 and I am trying to slow down the aging process. I recognize what I put in my body can either help or hurt me. My very close friend and weight loss wizard @preparedmealsli began schooling me on the effects clean eating can have on your system (If you aren’t following her on Instagram you need to). Boy oh boy was she right. I made small changes like eating more leafy greens and making sure I was properly hydrated. I can tell you this friends, by the second week of this new life style I had more energy, my head felt clearer and was able to focus better, and my cravings for sweets disappeared. I began to enjoy the taste of real food.
One habit I introduced into my daily routine was replacing a cup of coffee with green tea. I read up on the benefits and I figured why not I’ll give it a try. I picked up a box of green Matcha
tea from the company Salada and since then, I’m hooked. There were so many brands on the shelf to choose from but Salada’s teas are delicious and they offer a large variety of refreshing flavors. I’m picky when it comes to tea and so far, I have loved everyone I’ve tried. My personal favorite is the peach mango. I make a big batch of it and serve it cold. My kids go crazy for it and I’m happy because it doesn’t have sugar like the juice boxes they drink. I also got creative and made green tea ice cubes. In the morning I rub them under my eyes. It is so refreshing, and my skin feels so tight.
If you haven’t read up on the benefits of match tea here are a few reasons that might interest you to start incorporating it into your daily routine, it’s:
Rich in antioxidants
Boosts energy
Detoxifies the body
Prevents cancer
Aids in weight loss
I highly recommend you head to your local grocery store and stock up on Salada teas. I promise no matter what flavor you pick you won’t be disappointed.

virgo

Thoughts about Coffee Cake

Coffee connects people. I’ve enjoyed many sessions of friend therapy and deep conversations over coffee. Now if we add a delicious accompaniment to coffee, we have absolute heaven. Particularly if that coffee cake is sweet, a little sinful, and spiced with the adventure of travel. My favorite coffee cakes have been enjoyed in different cities around the world and shared with wonderful people that I have met along the way.

On an unexpected trip to Argentina, I didn’t know a soul or have any idea which places to visit. Every morning I enjoyed alfajores, a sandwich cookie with dulce de leche in the middle, and coffee. A kind waiter would come and sit with me and help me plan my day, drawing elaborate maps on napkins for me. Alfajores are a perfect combination of a well-crafted pastry and a rich history having been brought by the Spanish who learned of them from the Moors. I think they tasted even better because of the waiter’s kindness to a stranger.

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Paris in April seemed more like more like a dream than reality. The people, the food, the culture – it was glorious! I drank amazing coffee imported from Madagascar. I paired this with pain au chocolat, a delicious croissant-like pastry filled with a chocolate that captured the richness of flavor that the French are so adept at creating. Those were the best mornings, shared with groups of people met at the discotheque, after dancing all night.

coissant

In Chile I remember listening to music fused with samba and rock en español while enjoying berlines, doughnuts introduced by the great influx of German immigrants in Chile. The conversations usually centered around the government, the economy, and Auguto Pinochet, always a controversial topic for Chileans. Berlines are filled with “manjar”, the local name for dulce de leche. Berlines are a progressive fusion of South America and old Europe, as is Chile.

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Whether it’s at home or abroad, give yourself a slow morning with coffee and a sweet treat. Enjoy every bite of your next coffee cake. Be present to the silence, or the conversation, and most of all, savor the connection with yourself and with others.

Guest Blogger, Nicole Biscotti, @nicolebiscotti

 

 

Memorial Weekend Must Haves

Whether you are playing hostess this Memorial Day, attending a BBQ, or enjoying local venues you should be heading to the store to stock up on all the necessities to make this a Memorial Weekend one you and your family will never forget. In my house we love healthy options. Don’t get me wrong you will find the standard hot dog and hamburgers on our grill in addition to some keto and vegan friendly recipes.

parfMy first stop is always to my local dollar tree. I love stocking up on decorative plates, utensil, napkins, and festive decorations. When I am there, I always grab the clear cocktail cups. Instead of serving drinks in them, I layer them with blue berries, whipped cream, and strawberries for a refreshing and kid friendly dessert. Throw them onto a cute serving platter it so simple it takes all of five minutes to make your dessert table pop with color. I love the dollar tree because everything is $1. I am all about saving money while throwing a party that looks like it stepped out of a Martha Stuart magazine.

Next stop is to the local grocery store. In place of chips I serve fresh cut cucumbers and veggies with a homemade onion dip. I also buy veggie burgers and black bean burgers for my vegetarian guests. Layer them with some guacamole and a tomato and your guests won’t be worried about counting calories. My super easy side dish is a spinach salad with strawberries, red onion, feta, and a red wine vinaigrette will complement entrée you serve.

yogurtThe perfect party provides options for your guests. When setting up my bar area I always have out beer and wine. No BBQ is complete without an ice-cold beer and hot dog however, not all my guests are drinkers so I make a fizzy sugar free lemonade. It’s a crowd favorite. I try to eliminate as much sugar from my diet as possible so this lemonade has all-natural ingredients.

*2/3 cups lime juice (from fresh limes)
*1 tsp of stevia extract
*7 cups of water
*Ice for serving
*Fresh strawberries, blueberries, and mint for garnish.

nailsNext stop is to my local nail salon, Daisy Nails with my daughter for matching red, white, and blue manicures. We always shop Pinterest before we go to get some inspiration. Don’t forget it’s going to be a long weekend. Make sure you have a good bug spray. I prefer organic brands that do not have any harsh chemicals, as well as having sunscreen on hand at all times. Last but not least remember to have lots of cute outfits on hand especially those white skinny jeans and denim shorts so you are prepared for any occasion

How My Partner’s Depression Changed My Life

The minute I met my ex-husband I immediately fell in love. He was handsome, charming, and charismatic. We had an instant connection. We seemed to make each other so happy. We laughed all the time. I didn’t realize it then but there were signs that something wasn’t 100 percent right but I over looked it because I was in love and I was also young. We met when I was 22 and fresh out of college.
Within a few months of dating his behavior began to change. At times, I felt like I was on a roller coaster, there were so many ups and downs. Things would be fine for a few months and then bam all of the sudden he wouldn’t want to wake up to or go to work. He was very distant and private. The harder I tried to get close to him he would push me away. Our conversations were empty; the laughs had turned in petty fights over the fact that he didn’t want to help in daily chores such as paying bills, or taking the garbage out. He had a hard time sleeping at night and wanted to sleep during the day because he was so exhausted. I often felt like a nag or as if I was acting more like his mother rather then his partner, but then it would pass. Some life changing event would snap him out of his funk for example, the birth of our daughter. Things were good for a while but slowly I could see his behavior changing again. I could never understand why or what it was. I had no idea that it was the dreaded word depression. I always thought, maybe he just didn’t love me, or he wasn’t happy with me and I would try any everything to please him. It was exhausting. I didn’t even think about myself anymore getting our relationship back to that happy place was all I could think about and concentrate on. I got so used to this cycle of highs and lows however, when we were in a good place, I always had the fearful thought of when the next low would come because I always knew it would. I began experiencing anxiety over this. I would be in such fear because each low was worse than the last. At our lowest point, he lost his well-paying job that provided our family with health benefits; luckily I had a good job and was able to make it by with the help of my family. For over a year and a half he refused to find a career. He worked odd jobs but mostly laid on the couch watching TV or would hang out with his friends. I was the enemy in his eyes because I would tell him he needed to see someone, that this wasn’t normal and his response was, “I am fine everything will be ok, I’m just not happy with you.” I heard this line countless times throughout our marriage that I couldn’t hear it anymore. I was beaten down mentally and had little self-esteem. One day I walked out, put my house for sale and didn’t look back. It may sounds easy but it wasn’t. I am still in therapy of the loss of my love and the life I hoped to have.
If any of this sounds familiar you are not alone. It isn’t easy to recognize the signs of depression in your partner and it isn’t easy to get them to recognize they need help. Make sure you find a therapist to help you cope and manage your relationship before it gets to a point where too much damage has been done and it can’t be fixed. Don’t let depression win.
7 Signs of Depression:
•Feelings of hopelessness
•Loss of interest
•Mood swings
•Anxiety
•Abnormal Sleeping patterns
•Changes in appetite and weight
•Thoughts about death or suicide

Coincidence Or Is It?

There have been times in my life where situations or events have happened and I thought to myself, wow what a coincidence. Was it really though? Lately I’m not so sure. I’m starting to think nothing happens by chance but there are signs pointing us in the right direction.
One beautiful fall morning I decided to go to my favorite local farm stand. They serve the best coffee and apple cider donuts. As I sat at my table sipping my coffee and admiring the beautiful fall foliage, I spotted a familiar face walking towards the door. I jumped out of my seat and ran to the door to greet of all people, my cousin with open arms. I could not believe my eyes. She lives an hour away and woke up that morning and decided to take a drive to Long Island because she had a craving for an apple cider donut from Kerber Farms of all places. What a coincidence or was it, that we ended up at the same place, at the same time; or perhaps it was the universe drawing us together
Currently, at this point in my life I am at a crossroad. My husband and I have decided to separate after 14 years of marriage. Needless to say, there are many questions going through my head. For example, am I making the right decision, will I ever find happiness, how do I heal the pain? The list of questions goes on and on.
Most of the time I am walking through life blinded by the hectic pace of work and motherhood so I often miss the signs around me. That fall morning when I saw my cousins face, I knew it was a sign that everything was going to be ok. She and I share a special connection although we do not see or speak as often as I would like she always has this way of appearing when I am in need of some emotional support. As you know a woman never tells their age, so I will say as a thirty-something, single mother of two, there will be days when I am clawing to hold on to my sanity and I receive a random text from my cousin simply saying “I’m thinking of you and sending prayers,” and this coincidence pulls me down from the edge of the cliff. It’s like we are connected on some wave length. A frequency. A divine power.
Science may say it is some quantum force that pulls us together. Something like the six degrees of separation. But I like to think of it as a spiritual connection that binds the wave lengths from one loved one to another. Something to ponder over a good cup of coffee.
Why not take this day to recognize the signs the Universe is sending to you?
Journey on….

Virgo

 

Blaze A New Trail

Now that the warmer weather has hit Long Island, I have awoken from hibernation and I am having a hard time taming my spring fever. I cannot get enough of being outside in nature feeling the warm sun beat down on my skin. At times, I often cannot decide what I want to do first. There are so many options. Do I want to go to the beach, take out my paddle board, or hit up one of my favorite outdoor restaurants? Decisions decision! Honestly, my favorite outdoor activity lately has been hiking.
The kids and I discovered a great set of trails nearby in a little town called Cold Spring Harbor. We stumbled upon this hidden gem walking through this quaint village. As we began our journey up a steep incline my 5-year-old was so intrigued. He was filled with wonder as to what awaited him at the top of the steps. Would there be fairies, owls, a magic tree? We had a blast discovering nature together. The best part was, no one was asking for an I-pad or smart phone. We were engaged in conversation and connecting to the world around us. The beauty that we discovered filled us with positive vibes and paved the way for meaningful conversations and laughs. It also provided an opportunity for me to teach my children the importance of being mindful. That’s when you allow your mind to shut out the noise from daily life. It’s so important for me to teach my babies how to tune into their inner-self and use mother nature to guide them through the process.

familyhike
Hiking isn’t just good for your mind it’s good for your body. Hiking is a powerful cardio work out that can:
*Lower the risk for heart disease
*Improve blood pressure
*Strengthen your core
*Build strength throughout the rest of your body
*Help control weight
*Most importantly boost your mood. “Research has showed that hiking has a positive impact on fighting the symptoms of stress and anxiety,” says Gregory A. Miller, PhD, president of the American Hiking Society.
No matter where you are in your life, single, married, or dating hiking offers you the same benefits. If you haven’t done so lately, get out and find some hiking trails. Discover something while being engulfed by trees and the sounds of mother nature whispering in your ear. Trust me your body and mind will thank you.

virgo

Are You Expecting?

Are you expecting? I was.
Several blog posts ago I focused on perfect love and to date I continue to work on my ability to give and receive love effortlessly.
These last 40 days provided me with the opportunity to travel further on my love quest. After much soul searching and peace searching, I found the root of my love challenge. I was expecting! What an enlightenment! My discovery allowed me to walk on, and I confess the road was rocky in my pursuit of peaceful, effortless love.
My extended journey led me to a trinity of sources and each one provided me with the clarity I was looking for. The first person was (is), Jesus Christ. The compassion of Jesus and His ability to love in the face of adversity, continues to astound me. Saint Paul describes the emptiness of action without love in 1 CORINTHIANS, CHAPTER13 . Although I know I will never reach Jesus’s level of perfection, His model of love pushed me to conduct a short but meaningful activity that I developed for myself. I divided a sheet of paper down the middle. On one side of the paper I listed five words that I felt defined the qualities of love.
1. Loyalty
2. Obligation
3. Selflessness
4. Attentiveness
5. Indulgence (which is different from understanding and/or sympathy)
On the other side of the paper I listed five words that I felt defined the qualities of compassion.
1. Understanding
2. Sympathy
3. Concern
4. Kindness
5. Consideration
Suddenly I realized my definition of love was exhausting me in my efforts to show love and in my husband’s efforts to meet my expectation of love. In that moment compassionate love blazed genuine. Didn’t it make more sense to look at love as a soothing value rather than a responsibility that most of the time causes angst?
In my search to fully comprehend my new discovery, I stumbled upon my second source,
Jaggi Vasudev Sadhguru in his talk on how expectations ruin love. I listened intently as Guru explained, “love, most people go into relationships to give love and to get love.” He additional shared, “however, expectations ruin the relationship.” An aha moment! Guru went on to say “not even a god or a goddess can meet the expectations of another and in time the relationship will sour, and why does an individual feel unfilled when each piece of the life is complete by itself?” As I listened the tension of my idea of love began to ease. The calculations of who did what and how many times, and whose turn is it, and if you loved me you would do it began to fade away and be replaced by the peace that comes with compassion.
Wanting to learn more I traveled further down the road where I met my third source, Aruna Shields, on the free meditation app InsightTimer. Aruna guided a six-minute meditative interpretation of the Tao Te Ching. Basically, the Tao enforces the human spiritual perfection and the art of ruling through applying the Tao principles. Personally, I took the “art of ruling” as applied to myself, meaning that by meditating on the principles I can preside over or govern the improvement of my spiritual being. Each of the Tao principles unlocks a mystery. The first principle, “the you who can be discussed is not the eternal you,” shook me to my very core and detonated a fury of feelings I had never before recognized. I realized that my ability to give and receive love hinged on the expectations of others and if me and my choices caused disappointment it would result in judgement and gossip. Crippling! How could I love and give love if I was not true to myself? Here is where the real work began, and in the words of Guru, “when we devoid ourselves of expectations, we set ourselves free.” ❤

To journey is to discover…. I’ll see you there.

India