Props for props: enhancing your yoga practice

2012/04/19 Fitness No comments

Yoga teacher Kim Cherry travels everywhere with her bag of tricks. Need to deepen a lunge? She’s got two blocks handy. Ready to pull up into Dancer’s Pose? She’s there with a strap. Tight hips? She has a blanket ready to roll up for support.
Her aim is to enable her students to experience yoga postures more profoundly and more safely, creating new sensations that can lead to growth.
Certainly you may know that a good sticky mat helps keep your hands and feet from slipping in yoga class. That skid-free surface might be all the help you need to make for a masterful downward facing dog. But when one neighbor pulls out an array of bolsters from her bag, and another spends time before class arranging towels around his mat, you may wonder if it’s time to further explore the world of yoga props.
“Props are an instrument to get you into some semblance of a pose, to find those places where you can make space in the body. Props are a stepping stone to finding integrity,” says Cherry. “If you have someone trying to reach to their toes forcefully, you’re being counterproductive and creating a feeling of fight or flight. By using a strap you can experience the stretch of your hamstrings and keep the integrity of the pose.”
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Spring cleaning: cleansing your diet

2012/04/18 Fitness, Food No comments

Warming weather brings with it the urge to cleanse. We want to shed winter’s heaviness and get lighter.
Certainly there’s an impulse to clear out our closets and wash down our windows – it is called spring cleaning after all.
But there’s that other impulse, the one when the dandelion greens in your lawn look so appetizing.
The season’s new growth has us craving what’s green – kale and chard and even nettles.
Which is why embarking on a dietary cleanse this time of year may be easier.
For Mary Ellen Francescani, a Lancaster nurse practitioner, consciously changing her diet for a set period of time is part of her overall quest for a healthier life.
She says that people fast or do cleanses for multiple reasons: to change some undesirable food habits, to feel better physically, or for spiritual reasons. Read the rest of this entry »

Lions, alligators, and turtles, oh my!

2012/02/15 Travel No comments

Often our annual Florida vacations are beach driven, attempting to soak up as much sun, sand, and surf as possible to get us through Pennsylvania winters.But after a few days of ocean overload, we’re anxious to go exploring.The obvious inland choice: the Everglades. For years I had resisted the ubiquitous airboat ride. I couldn’t imagine enjoying nature with all of that noise. Boy was I wrong.Headphones dutifully donned, we headed out with Loxahatchee Airboat Rides to travel through the northern portions of the Everglades on an eco-awareness tour. Gliding over a river of grass, we twisted and turned as if floating on air until we were completely isolated, surrounded by sawgrass and cattails. Then, headphones off, we delighted in the orchestra of birdsong and insect buzz all around us. Herons, egrets, ibis, and spoonbill all wading and fishing in the shallows. The comical plop-plop-plop as rows of sunning turtles slid off their log to hide as our boat drifted closer. And then, as our intrepid guide gestured, we could see the slither of dozens of baby alligators, wriggling and climbing over their sleepy reptillian mother.

Wonder-filled we watched the busyness of life teeming in this subtropical setting until we were satiated. Read the rest of this entry »

Fitness trend revolutionizes training

2012/01/23 Fitness No comments

The workout is intimidating before you even get started.

You arrive in the dark to a warehouse tucked behind a stripmall or office park.

It’s a glorified garage with cold concrete floors, florescent lights and knotted ropes hung from the rafters, and a bare bones assortment of weightlifting equipment, wooden boxes, and inexplicably, piles of tractor tires.

And even more disturbing, sledgehammers.

There are no windows, no shiny mirrors, no treadmills with their own televisions. The music is industrial, insistent, pulsing underneath the more pervasive sounds of exhalation, the clang of metal, the thud of weight succumbing to gravity.

This is CrossFit, and it’s going to change your perception of exercise.

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Young foodies create cooking guide

2012/01/23 Food No comments

It may have started with a middle school battle for the best oatmeal cookie, but enterprising friends Phoebe Lapine and Cara Eisenpress have created their own cooking niche with their witty and whimsical take on everything epicurean for those with limited resources.

Their blog, “Big Girls Small Kitchen: A guide to quarter-life cooking” is a fresh, fun foodie website full of recipes for dorm room dwellers, those stuck in tiny apartments, and anyone cooking on a raman-noodle budget with gourmet dreams.

While geared toward “twenty-something” cooks, the recipes and entertaining tips translate well to any age.

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Winter harvest

2011/12/26 Food, Garden No comments

Touches of frost and snow may kill most of what’s in your vegetable garden, but hardy, hearty winter radishes only get sweeter with the chill. “The frost converts the carbs to sugars,” says Scott Breneman of Goodwill at Homefields CSA, where shareholders are reaping a pick-your-own bonus harvest. If our winter stays mild, the harvest can linger throughout the coldest months, offering welcome fresh produce right from your backyard. Our favorite for holiday parties is the festive bright red and green display of the watermelon radish. Sliced on a platter it offers a crisp, edible decoration. Black radishes give plenty of sharp heat during cold winter months, as do the hot and sweet shunkyo radish. The long white daikon radish is not only great to eat, but makes for a great cover crop as well by alleviating soil compaction as well as storing nutrients for spring planted crops to use. Direct seed in mid to late August with shade and heat protection and reap the benefits through the winter.

Nuts for pistachios

2011/12/26 Food One comment

Kim Zanni aims to be a taste maker, style setter, and basically achieve world domination on the scale of Martha Stewart.
On sheer nerve and all-out passion for her product, in just four years Zanni has grown her Gelato di Babbo business from hand scoops from a pedal-powered cart on the streets of Lititz to pint placement in the freezer sections of more than 90 mid-Atlantic grocery stores.
“I’m in gourmet shops like Di Bruno Brothers, family groceries like Darrenkamp’s and Oregon Dairy, and major chains like Giant, SKH, and Whole Foods,” says the 33-year-old Warwick grad.
A summer quest for premium pistachios in Bronte, Italy ended up inspiring more than just her pistachio gelato. She’s now debuting an entirely new product line, Zanni Foods, featuring the famed nuts as well as a new twist on another one of her best-selling gelato flavors.“I went to Bronte in Sicily because that’s where the best pistachios in the world are grown,” she says. “I came back with a whole new line of products to introduce to the U.S.” Read the rest of this entry »

Spirited Annapolis

2011/10/10 Travel No comments

When there’s a chill in the air and you’re looking for spooktacular getaway options, head to Maryland’s capital city to get your ghost on. It’s a great place to visit for haunted historical entertainment as well as hauntingly beautiful architecture and ambiance. Everyone seems to have a story to tell of ghosts that coexist with living residents amid the city’s 18th century building and cobblestone streets. On the campus of St. John’s College, in the graveyard at Church Circle, in local bars and restaurants, and even in the State House, the spirits reportedly linger.A number of historic city ghost tours blend well-researched history with tales of long-gone residents who seem to benignly stick around, playing occasional pranks and flickering the lights.The Historic Annapolis Foundation teams up with Watermark tours to offer terrible tales and suspenseful stories of spirits during weekend tours through town. Read the rest of this entry »

Glam-camping in the PA wilds

2011/09/25 Travel No comments

Just because you’re a nature lover doesn’t mean you enjoy spending a chilly night feeling every root and stone through your sleeping bag or waking up to stoke the fire before you can brew your coffee. Which is why the emerging trend of glam-camping has so much appeal. Spectacular sunrises paired with luxurious spa services, s’more roasting from the comfort of a chaise, and high-thread count sheets and fluffy pillows after a mildly strenuous day spent kayaking and hiking make for an outdoor experience to be savored.
Next time you head to the Pennyslvania Wilds for some back-to-nature time, leave the tents at home and get spoiled at a local resort or B&B instead. Read the rest of this entry »

Wildwood Days

2011/08/08 Food, Travel No comments

Stuck in a shore rut? Discover new ways to enjoy your favorites at The Wildwoods, where the kitchy Do-Wop culture makes for a mash-up of retro memories and inspired playfulness on the New Jersey island, culminating in a carnival cacophony of color, aroma, and sounds along the boardwalk.
Friday night arrivals throughout the summer are illuminated for arriving vacationers with a canopy of fireworks mirroring the amusement-lit piers. The resulting fanfare couldn’t be more welcoming. Cruise through town to take in the ‘50s throw-back architecture, a mixture of preserved nostalgia and restored Jetson’s campiness. Then dive into the press of boardwalk masses to take a spin on the merry-go-round or send your stomach churning on the new gravity-mocking “it” ride (which may be short for vom-it). Read the rest of this entry »