Let’s Talk: 7 ways to be more positive day-to-day.

Amazing3!

In this world where we have jam-packed days and our default mode is ‘busy,’ sometimes it’s easy to get swept up and forget to enjoy the day-to-day.

Here are a few quick tips that may help you stay positive and loving life every day:

        1. Express your gratitude.

          I know we’ve all heard this before, but it truly makes a difference.  Whether you keep a gratitude journal and simply record one thing a day that you are grateful for or you speak you gratitude out loud (to a friend, significant other, cat, or tree…you know, whatever works!) it is still a very helpful practice to put you in a mindset of seeing the world as a beautiful place that gives you so much.

        2. Surround Yourself with Positive People.  

          This makes a huge difference day-to-day.  You are a reflection of who you surround yourself, so make sure your circle is made up of people that will cheer to on and are genuine about living life to the fullest.  You are worth so much, and the people you spend your days with should remind you of that, not take that away from you.

        3. Take some time to breathe.

          Days fly by as we type away during our 9-5 or check or social media sites like the world would end if we didn’t.  Remember to always take a few moments each day to step back from it all and take a few deep breaths.  Center yourself and remember that you are alive!  You are capable of so much.

        4. Set an intention for your day.

          Sometimes, it’s hard to stay positive if 1) you’re taking on too much or 2) you feel like you’re working and working but not going anywhere.  Swimming upstream, if you will.  Setting a daily intention in the morning as you get ready for your day or at night before you sleep can help you focus and stay on track.  Make it simple and achievable, but still something to work towards during the upcoming day.

        5. Eat a healthy meal.

          Eating good foods will give you more energy and will make you feel sustained for much longer during the day.  Give your body the fuel that will make it work the best and you will notice a difference both mentally and physically.  Your body is precious and you should make sure to take care of it as best as you can (but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times to indulge!).

        6. Be kind.  

          I know, this one sounds easy, but it’s so often overlooked.  The more kind you are to others, the more likely you are to not only receive kindness, but to also see kindness reflected in your world.  This doesn’t mean you need to walk around with a smile on your face all of the time (please don’t, actually), but reaching out to someone that’s having a bad day or helping someone with their groceries is sure to brighten their day up as well as your own.

        7. Take a walk.  

          Last, but certainly not least (and my love will quite enjoy that this made the list!), take some time to go on a walk.  Take a friend or meander on your own.  Allow yourself to get lost in your thoughts.  Take a new route.  Look around you.  Find something you’ve never seen before.  This will not only inspire and energize you, but seeing and sharing the world in new ways is a perfect way to maintain your positivity.

ocean song

in love with the process.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve definitely been in ‘production mode.’

Working on my website, organizing and planning tsoana’s details, and, of course, fulfilling ceramics orders!

One thing is for certain, and that is that I really love the process.  It’s kind of like that phrase that goes something like:  it’s all in the journey, not the destination.  While I certainly like hitting the big goals and reaching my ‘destinations,’ I also like to step back and enjoy the details in the process.  Without the process, we would lack growth and understanding.  We would lack the fine details.  Without the process, tsoana and our creations loses the love.

Without further ado, an ‘ode’ to recent process:
gplus-79105944 gplus-226327999 gplus-712639774 gplus-914595519 gplus-1090504825 gplus-1229034112 gplus-1269525452
gplus904367454 gplus1767553698 gplus2062101705 gplus2069541213

Hope you’re having a great, productive week.  Let us know what you’ve been up to with the hashtag #worktoinspire !

Refreshing: Lemon Verbena Tisane.

Lemon Verbena is, hands down, one of my personal top 5 herbs.  More on the benefits of Lemon Verbena later.

15 - 33

For now, let’s talk about one delicious way to prepare this herb as a lovely and refreshing beverage.

First, what’s a tisane?

A tisane (pronounced tea-zahn) is the name of any infusion of herbs or spices.  Technically, ‘teas’ like chamomile, lemon balm, mint, etc. aren’t teas at all.  Tea leaves (for green tea, black tea, white tea, etc.) all come from the same plant:  Camellia sinensis.  Only teas that contain leaves which come from that plant are technically teas at all.

So, what does that mean for us?  Well, nothing really!  It’s just interesting to know!  And, before I had the amazing opportunity to spend time in Darjeeling, a town noted for its tea industry (more on that later, too), I had no idea that this was the case.  Maybe you didn’t either?

Okay, Great.  Let’s Get Started!

Agreed.

15 - 25

Ingredients:

Extremely Simple:

  • A Large Handful of Fresh Lemon Verbena Leaves
  • Hot Water (just under boiling)

Optional:

  • St-Germain Liqueur‎ to add even more deliciousness to this night cap.

15 - 12

Let’s Make It!

I’m sure you guessed, but it’s just like making a tea.  Put the leaves in a teapot and pour the hot water over.

Let this steep for ~5 minutes while covered.  If it’s not covered, you’re letting the beneficial essential oils of the plant escape, and we don’t want that!

I don’t use any sweetener, because it’s so light and refreshing as-is.

On occasion, I do like to add just a splash of St-Germain Liqueur‎ to add another layer of flavor that enhances the profile perfectly.  (And St-Germain Liqueur‎ is my favorite, always).

That’s it!  Now enjoy and end your evening well.  You deserve it!

15 - 27

steeping with my grandmother’s beautiful jars behind. always make me think of her ❤

Do you make tisanes?  Any tips, tricks, or favorite herbs?  Let us know in the comments below!

15 - 19

ps. I also started making some Lemon Verbena oil that I will use to make delicious meals in the future. How-to on this coming soon!

Xox,

Leah

Delicious: Cacao Banana Shake (+ More on Cacao)

15 - 5

I definitely have a sweet tooth.  I always have a bit of a chocolate craving, especially in the afternoons & evenings and have been playing with ways to satisfy my cravings without consuming too much chocolate.

I came up with this delicious Cacao Banana Shake that is always exactly what I want when I’m craving a little something sweet.

But First, A Little On Cacao

When you read headlines and articles about the amazing benefits of chocolate, they aren’t talking about milk chocolate you find in the store, but they are talking about raw cacao.  Lucky for us, it’s just as (if not more) delicious, but sometimes does take a little getting used to!

So what is raw cacao exactly?  It is the powder that is made after un-roasted cacao beans are cold-pressed.  Fat is removed (the butter) and living enzymes are kept intact.
Cocoa is also a powder and looks very similar, but, boy, is it different!  We get cocoa from roasting raw cacao at high temperatures, which changes the molecular structure, ultimately making it less nutritionally beneficial for us to consume.  In other words, it is the over-processed version of cacao.

There are many benefits to consuming cacao.  Here are a few of them:

  • Nervous system protection due to very potent antioxidants
  • Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and high blood pressure
  • Guards against toxins
  • Mood booster!
  • Rich in minerals (especially iron & magnesium)

So, what do you say?  Let’s get to it!

Pro-tip:  You might find that some brands (cough, Hershey’s, cough), has a product labeled as 100% Cacao on the front, but if you look at the ingredients, you’ll see that it lists Cocoa, which is not the same thing as Cacao, as noted above.  Be careful with tricky marketing designed to pull you in!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (Over)Ripe Banana, Peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder (or to taste)
  • 1.5 Cups of Almond Milk (or milk of choice.  Try to avoid dairy, as research has shown that dairy can inhibit the absorption of raw cacao’s nutrition.)

Pro-tip 2:  I buy my Raw Cacao Powder (and Raw Cacao Nibs – see below) in bulk so I can get exactly the amount I need.  And label them in pretty jars with fancy labels, of course.

15 - 915 - 7

Optional:

15 - 6

Let’s Make it!

Simple:

  • Put all ingredients in blender (I put milk in first, then the cacao so it doesn’t stick or clump on the bottom)
  • Blend for 20 seconds or until desired consistency
  • Pour into a fancy glass and let out a big sigh – it’s delicious!

15 - 2

*Thrive Market is a neat online food marketplace whose mission is to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone.  You can get a free membership for ~30 days and then it costs ~$50 for the year.  In exchange for your membership fees, they provide a membership to a family in need.  You’ll find great deals on organic, raw, and delicious food and there are many unique finds!  Note that these words are mine and not sponsored by Thrive, however the link is an affiliate linked to my account.

Xox,

Leah

A Garden is the Best Medicine.

plants - 4

I was feeling a bit under the weather this morning so I decided to take a day at home to rest and relax.  I am not great at sitting still, or letting my mind be still, so I went for a short walk to the community garden near my apartment where we have a small plot.

IMG_20150806_110907

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.” -Frances Hodgson Burnett in ‘The Secret Garden’ (one of my favorite books of all time!)

plants - 2

the bee & the borage!

plants - 8

chamomile flowers from our plot.

plants - 17

“There’s naught as nice as th’ smell o’ good clean earth, except th’ smell o’ fresh growin’ things when th’ rain falls on ’em.” from ‘The Secret Garden’

plants - 22

lemon blooms and fruits.

It is so healing to be among the plants.  To pull up some weeds.  To listen to the hummingbirds buzz and chirp and watch the blue jays fly by.  To hear the leaves rustle and the morning dew disappear, lifting back into the sky.  To look closely at blooming flowers.  So closely that you can see their little hairs and pollen, almost as if it’s oozing out of the center.

plants - 61

look at the colors, that detail, and that pollen!!

plants - 43

some feverfew in our plot.

plants - 37

succulents on the path.

plants - 55

amazing details.

plants - 52

curly-q beans!

When we lived in Michigan, we had an 800 square foot garden where we grew so much food!  I was canning and making jams nonstop just to keep up.  Now, that garden is bigger than our current little San Francisco apartment.  We waited two years on a waitlist to get our garden plot here, and it is much, much smaller than what we were accustomed to, but it’s been so nice to finally have our little piece of land to tend and grow beautiful, delicious plants.

plants - 66

the ladybug & the fennel.

plants - 69

This garden is also adjacent to a day-care center, so as I worked and watched in the garden, I could also hear songs about flowers and gardens floating through the air in high sing-songy, beautiful voices.  Garden and earth-lovers in training!

This is what I would call a perfect morning.

(for more photos from this beautiful garden, please visit tsoana’s through the lens section of the site!)

plants - 11

delicious strawberries from our plot!

Refreshing: Watermelon Strawberry Breeze

15 - 13

I didn’t realize National Watermelon Day was this past week, but this watermelon-based smoothie is a recipe you can enjoy any day of the summer!  Completely light, crisp, and refreshing, this Watermelon Strawberry Breeze is perfect to cool off and relax on these hot, fun summer days.

(Side note:  Who creates these whacky national days?  Is there a national day for everything now?)

15 - 3

Anyway, here is the (extremely simple) recipe:

Ingredients

Only 3 ingredients are needed:

  • 3 Cups Cubed Watermelon  (Chilled is best)
  • 1 Cup Strawberries  (Chilled)
  • 1 Whole, Peeled Lemon

You may also choose to add (but definitely don’t need to – still delicious, either way!):

  • Mint Leaves (as garnish or blended into the smoothie)
  • Crushed Ice (for a cooler taste. I personally like it without and prefer the full fruit flavor instead)

15 - 1215 - 1015 - 11IMG_20150806_153653IMG_20150806_153431

Let’s Make it!

Simple:

  • Prepare the fruit
  • Put everything in your blender
  • Blend for 20 seconds or until desired consistency reached
  • Pour into a tall glass
  • Garnish with mint if desired
  • Put your feet up and enjoy!

IMG_20150806_154049

Exploring SF: A Morning at Heartbaker

I went on a stroll this morning to one of my favorite cafes near my apartment.  I didn’t know it was there for the longest time, and it’s definitely a little hidden gem in the city.

plants - 26

Heartbaker, aside from having a perfect and adorable name, has a great selection of teas (from T-We Tea, who I recently discovered, and loved, at Renegade SF!), coffees, and sweet treats in the mornings.

galette

delicious pastry from Heartbaker (photo source: Heartbaker)

Today I had the T-We Tea ‘Chai This’ with elderflowers in the blend (delish!) and a chocolate ricotta turnover which was the perfect combo of chocolate, crispy bread, and cheese.  Who wouldn’t love that?

On the weekends they have brunch and they have daily lunch and dinner options.

The ambiance is wonderful and the staff is super friendly.  It’s low-key and comfortable.  Perfect to meet up with friends or have a slow, quiet morning to yourself (with some people watching, my personal favorite!).

plants - 32

I love their hilarious photos on the walls with food masks.  So creative and the whole place feels very genuine.

plants - 54plants - 9
Check it out yourself! Heartbaker can be found at 1408 Clement St. in the Inner Richmond, SF.

plants - 46 plants - 73

don’t forget the simple things.

I had a really lovely weekend with my love and his mother.  We explored some of my favorite areas along the coast (Monterey, Big Sur, Carmel, & Pt. Reyes) and really just got to slow down a bit and spend some time outdoors.

It’s all quite simple.  Life is beautiful if you look for the beauty.  And sometimes, if you’re lucky, you don’t need to look very far.

kayaking @ pt. reyes

kayaking @ pt. reyes