Posts Tagged ‘music’

Product Love: Skullcandy Pipe iPod Speaker Dock

photo courtesy of http://www.skullcandy.com

If you are looking for a compact, stylish speaker/charging dock for your iPod, look no further. I got this for my husband for his birthday last year, and we couldn’t be happier with it. Not only does it look good, it sounds amazing.

What I like:

  • Big sound, small footprint (about 8″ long with a 2″ diameter)
  • Charges as it plays
  • Remote control with a range of up to 20 feet
  • Looks neato!
  • Sounds fantastic! You will be amazed at how loud you can crank it up                                                                                                  (and then turn it back down again when your kids complain)

Music Love: The Ting Tings

If you are not already familiar with the indie pop fabulousness that is the Ting Tings, you should be. If you are, congratulations! Now introduce them to your kids so we can derail some of this Beiber and Miley Cyrus nonsense.  Their 2008 album We Started Nothing is upbeat and will have you booty-shakin’ from start to finish. They have a new album due out this year, which should be worth a listen. In the meantime, enjoy this:

Yoga Love: Reverse Warrior

Reverse Warrior brings an intensified stretch to the hip flexor of the back leg as well as deeply opening and stretching the front ribcage. This pose is also sometimes called Peaceful Warrior, with the raised arm representing the warrior lifting his sword heavenward, away from battle,  in a gesture of peace.

From Warrior II, root strongly down through both feet and rotate your front hand so your palm faces up. As you inhale, lengthen the spine and sweep the hand skyward while letting the back hand gently sink down to rest lightly on your back leg. Reach the crown of your head upward, lengthening the neck and lifting the chin slightly — let your gaze follow your raised hand. Make sure that the front knee is still stacked squarely above the ankle and not collapsing inward. Breathe into the front ribcage, letting the intercostals (the muscles between the ribs) expand.  Be aware of your lower back and keep it long to avoid any compression.  Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths. To come out of the pose, exhale and bring your arms back into Warrior II position, then step your back foot forward to meet the front foot. Switch sides and repeat.

What would you like to see more or less of in future Weekend Edition posts? Do you enjoy the current format, or would you like to see something new? I welcome all comments! Have a glorious weekend!


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Product Love: SOS Cleaning Pads

This product is an oldie, but goodie, as they say. Beloved by my mother and grandmother SOS pads have remained virtually unchanged since they first hit the market in 1917. Since it is an older product, a lot of modern home-keepers may be unaware of this kitchen lifesaver, so I thought they deserved a spotlight. They are basically small pads of steel wool infused with a foaming soap and they are scrubbing dynamos. They are perfect for baked-on messes that won’t soak away. I find myself using them frequently as of late, since my less-than-stellar dishwasher often leaves stuff behind on my dishes that won’t come off easily until I dampen an SOS pad and rub lightly. The pads are quite large, and since they are made of steel, are prone to rusting if left wet on the side of the sink. I solve this problem by cutting each pad into halves or even quarters as needed with a pair of kitchen shears. My mom swears by wrapping used pads in foil and tossing it in the freezer to prevent rusting.

Music Love: Florence & the Machine

I’m digging Florence & the Machine lately. The dreamy vocals and catchy melodies are  heavily atmospheric and often have a dark edge to the lyrics, yet somehow leave you feeling strangely buoyed up .  The “Florence” of Florence & the Machine is Florence Welsh, an English songbird with a powerhouse voice. Her video for “Cosmic Love” is beautiful and haunting. If you want something a little more upbeat, give “Dog Days are Over” a listen. Or, for sheer rock-n-roll that will make you get up and dance, try “Kiss with a Fist” — the videos are great too.  Either way, you won’t be disappointed. And by all means, let me know what you think or let me know what music you are loving lately.

Yoga Love: Virabhadrasana I  (Warrior Pose)

photo courtesy of http://www.yogajournal.com

Warrior pose is strongly grounding pose that strengthens your legs, shoulders, arms, and back, challenges your balance, and stretches your  hip flexors. To move into Warrior 1, start out in Tadasana, inhale deeply. As you begin to exhale, place your hands on your hips and  step your left foot back 3-4 feet, turning the toes of your back foot forward at a 45-degree angle. Your front toes should point straight ahead. Make sure that your weight is centered evenly on both feet and the the front leg is bent in a deep lunge, bringing the thigh bone as close to parallel with the floor as you are able.

Glance down at your front knee and make sure that it is not rolling inward, but that it is staying stacked directly above your ankle. Also check to make sure that in your lunge, the knee is not extending past the ankle joint. If it is, this will put undue pressure on your kneecap and could lead to a knee injury. Correct this by widening your stance. Next, draw your attention to your back foot and press down with the outer edge of your foot.

Next, check your hip alignment. Both hips should be facing squarely forward and even with one another. With hands still on hips, pull the right hip (or left hip, if the left foot is forward) back gently until it aligns with the left. Another good way to tell if your hips are squared is to visualize which way your belly button is pointing. It should be pointing straight ahead rather than diagonally off to one side. If you are having difficulty squaring the hips, try stepping the front foot over to the right an inch or two. (Or to the left when the left foot is forward,)

Finally, inhale deeply as you fully extend your arms and raise them above your head, alongside your ears. Take a moment to make sure your shoulders are not coming up to the ears. If they are, relax the shoulders and draw the shoulder blades downward. Extend strongly through the arms all the way through the fingertips. If you find that raising the arms creates tension in the neck and shoulders, feel free to modify the pose by returning the hands to the hips. Yoga should be a  means of releasing tension in the body, never creating it.

Hold Warrior 1 for 5-6 full breaths. When you are ready to come out of the pose, return the hands to the hips on an exhalation. As you inhale, step the back foot forward to meet the other. Repeat on the opposite side. End your micro-session by adjusting your alignment in Tadasana and taking several deep breaths, ending with a final exhalation through the mouth, like a sigh.

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Wow, it’s been a long time since I did a Weekend Edition post. Embarrassingly long, actually. So long that I realized today that the addition of the Simple Meals series makes “Recipe Love” redundant. Since the Weekend Edition is all about self-indulgence and good times, I’ve opted instead to feature music that I’m particularly digging right now. Hope the change is a good one.

Product Love: Amazon Kindle

photo courtesy of http://www.Amazon.com

I got a Kindle for Christmas and I more than love it. I take it everywhere and hardly let it out of my sight. Some background: I have always been a reader. In the past year, alone I’ve probably read about 15 books. I love books. I love the smell of books, I love bookstores and judging by covers and first-paragraph reading as a means of determining whether to get the book or not. Also, I arrange my books on my living room bookshelves in a particular way. No, not by subject or author, but by color. Books are pretty and tactile. So ‘Why’, you might be asking yourself, ‘would a self-proclaimed book lover eschew the very thing she loves and get a Kindle?’ Well, remember that part about books being tactile? They are also substantial. As in, when we moved this past fall, a substantial portion of boxes was taken up by books. Oh, and substantial has another meaning as well. As in, a medium-sized box of books weighs substantially more than you might expect it to.

In other words: Despite my love for books (or perhaps because of that love) I realized that I couldn’t continue to accumulate them at the rate I had been doing. It was either stop reading books, stop buying books, or start getting rid of books. The first two options are just silly. The last one is nearly blasphemous. The Kindle seemed a good alternative to the other, uh…alternatives. In fact it’s been better than I anticipated. Here are a few reasons why:

  • FREE books: need I say more?
  • One-handed reading: It’s unbelievable how much more convenient this is. And since the Kindle is flat, you can set it down for no-handed reading. Am I blowing your mind yet?
  • Read multiple books at once: I never thought I would do this, but it’s awesome. I can read a serious, often heavy biography like Cleopatra, A Life and if I need a break, just jump over to something lighter like Booky Wook 2. I can carry them both with me along with a bunch of other titles all the time!)
  • Built-in dictionary: nice for those books that are chock full of big words you don’t quite understand.
  • Instant gratification: I only regret that the Harry Potter series has wrapped. Can you imagine uploading the book the instant it comes available? Genius.

Music Love: Neon Trees

There has been a lot of hype about Neon Trees around here lately. A lot of it stems from the fact that they are a local band (from Provo, Utah) that is really hitting their stride right now. A lot of it also stems from the fact that they rock. I’m a little late to the Neon Trees party, but I am really digging them right now. Especially the song “In the Next Room” from their 2010 album Habits (available right now on iTunes for only $7.99!). Cure fans will immediately pick out a subtle nod to “The Lovecats”. Enjoy!

Yoga Love: Eka Rajakapotasana

photo courtesy of http://www.athletica.net

I have quite a bit to say about Eka rajakapotasana, so for today, I’m going to leave the details of the pose to Yoga Journal:

Step by Step

Begin on all fours, with your knees directly below your hips, and your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Slide your right knee forward to the back of your right wrist; at the same time angle your right shin under your torso and bring your right foot to the front of your left knee. The outside of your right shin will now rest on the floor. Slowly slide your left leg back, straightening the knee and descending the front of the thigh to the floor. Lower the outside of your right buttock to the floor. Position the right heel just in front of the left hip.

The right knee can angle slightly to the right, outside the line of the hip. Look back at your left leg. It should extend straight out of the hip (and not be angled off to the left), and rotated slightly inwardly, so its midline presses against the floor. Exhale and lay your torso down on the inner right thigh for a few breaths. Stretch your arms forward.

This is me, breaking in to add an important detail: The placement of the knee, as mentioned above can vary the intensity of the pose, so too can the placement of the front foot. The front foot can be tucked back, closer to the hip or moved forward, closer to the shoulders. The further forward it is, the greater the intensity of the pose.

Then slide your hands back toward the front shin and push your fingertips firmly to the floor. Lift your torso away from the thigh. Lengthen the lower back by pressing your tailbone down and forward; at the same time, and lift your pubis toward the navel. Roll your left hip point toward the right heel, and lengthen the left front groin.

If you can maintain the upright position of your pelvis without the support of your hands on the floor, bring your hands to the top rim of your pelvis. Push heavily down. Against this pressure, lift the lower rim of your rib cage. The back ribs should lift a little faster than the front. Without shortening the back of your neck, drop your head back. To lift your chest, push the top of your sternum (at the manubrium) straight up toward the ceiling.

Stay in this position for a minute. Then, with your hands back on the floor, carefully slide the left knee forward, then exhale and lift up and back into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose). Take a few breaths, drop the knees to all-fours on another exhalation, and repeat with the legs reversed for the same length of time.

This is me again, breaking in one more time to add that a more relaxing variation of the pose, one which I will discuss in greater detail below, can be achieved by lengthening the torso and folding forward over the front leg. Place your forearms on the floor for support, if necessary, or, if you have the flexibility, walk the hand out from your body until you can rest your forehead on the floor or a block as pictured here:

photo courtesy of http://www.athletica.net

The literal translation of the name of this asana is “One-legged king pigeon pose”, which is a mouthful, even in yoga-speak. You may also hear an abbreviated form of the sanskrit name in your yoga class: kapotasana. This pose is a deep hip-opening pose that most yogis have a love/hate relationship with. It can be deeply intense, and yet deeply relaxing at the same time. For the uninitiated, “intense” is a nice yogic way of saying “painful”. However, you shouldn’t let that scare you away. I tell my students that this pose is all about surrender. This asana is really about learning to let go. To truly find serenity in this pose, one needs to let go of tension everywhere else in the body, let go of negative self-talk, and let go of pre-conceived ideas as to our personal limits of flexibility. As you begin to let go of some things, it is vital in kapotasana to also embrace others. Embrace, for example the sensation. The intensity. And, if you insist on calling it that, the pain. Take the opportunity to embrace the breath as well. Kapotasana is, in my opinion, the single best pose for novice yogis to learn to tap into the power of ujjayi breathing and let it aid your relaxation. As you feel the stretch in and around the hip joint, breathe into the hip. Breathe so deeply that you actually feel the hip area expanding with your inhalation, creating space around the hip socket. Notice also, how the intensity seems to ease right at the end of your inhalation. Carry that sense of ease with you throughout your exhalation. Focus on the breath and embrace relaxation. At this point, I would also encourage you to try a hand mudra, sometimes called the Jupiter Mudra which helps you to focus your energy to break through barriers.  Do this by interlacing your fingers and crossing one thumb over the other. Next, extend your index fingers, bringing the tips of them together. If you are still struggling to find peace in this pose, you may find that a simple mantra, repeated in your mind several times, can work wonders. Two of my favorites are “Joy, peace, bliss” and “Peace, harmony, well-being”.

Be well and have a fantastic weekend!

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