Category Archives: Good for Your Soul

A Crafty Christmas With Kids

My son loves art so much that I wanted to make the month of December really special for him.  So, in anticipation of this fun month I purchased a kit from The Land of Nod that includes about a month worth of crafts for my child.  This kit is also great for families that have more than one child.  

The kit includes:  6 Cards, 40 paper chains, 4 felt ornaments, stuffing, 2 picture frames, ribbons, stickers, buttons, glitter glue, sequins, printed papers, floss, cardboard confetti tree, crepe paper, tissue paper, crunch and stick wreath, glue stick, sticky gems, sticky dots, crinkle paper, construction paper, paper cutting stencils, plastic needle and easy illustrated instructions.  (The only item I needed was markers.)

Everything you need is self-contained in a super cute christmas case.  He will have a variety of different crafty activities to choose from and we can display them throughout our home for the holiday season.

I especially love watching his creativity through his artwork and this also helps with his fine motor skills.  What kind of crafty activities do you like to do with your kids over Christmas vacation?



Santa Claus is coming to town!

Now that my little boy is getting older, I have been questioned about the reality of Santa Claus!  Don’t get me wrong, we believe in Santa but some of the children at his school have really got him thinking!  This brings me to my quest of making Santa more real for my son.  Here are a few of the things I have done.

For the past three years my son has received an email message from Santa via Portable North Pole.  This site is super easy to use and very interactive for your child because it is completely customizable and best of all it is free.  This is especially nice to send send to family who live far away from one another.  It is the perfect way to let your kiddo’s know that Santa is watching them and making a note if they are naughty or nice!  For the purpose of showing you exactly what it to expect, I purposely picked ‘naughty’ so you could see what that message looks like.  Please click here and you can watch the video that Santa sent.  It is about 2 minutes long.

Secondly, I had to buy special wrapping paper that I keep hidden and Santa will be wrapping his presents with that special paper.  Santa also had a special stamp made just for my son.  (Santa bought it on Ebay, let me know if you are interested and I can forward you the vendor’s name.)  Santa will be using red ink to personalize his presents this year.

Santa's special Christmas stamp

Whew, this Santa business has been a lot of work this year, but I’m sure that my son will keep on believing in Jolly O’le St. Nick!

What sort of things do you do to make sure your kids still believe in Santa?


O’ Christmas Tree… Alternatives

I have been so busy this year with grad school that my home is lacking in Holiday Cheer.  Usually, I set up all of my Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving weekend and it is complete with a 6 foot tall tree that looks like it would come out of a Crate and Barrel catalog.  Not this year though…  My home is minimalist and if we didn’t have my son I think my husband and I would probably not put anything up this year.  With that being said, I have come up with a few alternatives to our normally decked out Christmas tree.

our small mighty tree

This year we opted to have a live tree.  We went to Osuna Nursery and purchased a tree that we could plant after the season is over.  They cost anywhere from 30.00 and up.  I thought this would be environmentally friendly and something we have not done before.  It has proven to be a great idea on my part!  With it’s 2.5  foot tall giant frame my son and I had it decorated in 20 minutes.  It was a snap, and my son was able to do all of it without getting bored.  It was also nice not to have to get out all of the ornaments and all I had to do was wrap it in a tree skirt to hide the container it came in.

Peace Tree

My next alternative to a tree is the what I call our ‘Peace Tree’.  I used tree branches that my husband was going to compost and added them to my a large vase.  Usually I put these large glitter peace symbols on our tree, but because we have a mini version this year, I  thought this would be a fun alternative.  The best part about this ensemble is that it didn’t cost me a thing!  These were all things that I had in my Christmas box of tricks.  :)

Are you breaking any Holiday traditions this year because you are short on time?


Health and Religion

Today is a special post from a very good friend of mine.  We met about 8 years ago in Boulder, Colorado at the start of a new semester at a new school.  Before meeting this friend, I knew little to nothing about her religion.  Over time she taught me about it and now I find it fascinating.  Today she shares a little bit about it with you.  I find it appropriate for this blog because of the focus on achieving wellness and balance:  mind, body, and soul.  You may have read about it in National Geographic magazine in an article about living long, healthy lives.  Read on.  I hope you enjoy this post as much as I do.


Mind, Body, and Soul.

We know it is important to take care of our “mind, body, and soul.” However, we often lose focus on one if not all of these things in our day-to-day lives.  Seventh-Day Adventists is one organization that tries to help people maintain this balance.  It is a Christian denomination that emphasizes the importance of healthy living through eating right, rest, exercise, and fellowship with others.  Back in 2005, National Geographic published an article regarding longevity that focused on Seventh-Day Adventists along with Okinawans and Sardinians.  The video can be found here.


Part of Seventh-Day Adventists’ commitment to healthy living is in its name.  “Seventh-Day” means that we should rest one day a week, specifically the seventh day or Saturday.  It is a day to put aside all your work, chores, and worries, and focus on your spirituality and relationships with others.  Initially, you may feel guilty about that load of laundry waiting for you or not mowing the lawn that looks like a jungle, but once you develop the habit to making time for yourself and loved ones, you will wonder how you survived without it.

Eating habits

When you eat your bowl of cereal in the morning, you can thank the Kellogg brothers.  Both Seventh-Day Adventists and vegetarian, John Harvey Kellogg and Will Keith Kellogg invented corn flakes breakfast cereal, and popularized cereal as an alternative to eggs and meat for breakfast.  Like the Kellogg brothers, many Seventh-Day Adventists are vegetarian, or least minimize their consumption of animal products, to be healthier.  Eating less meat and more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains is simply good for you.

One popular nutritional book is The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, which examines how avoiding animal products decreases the development of chronic diseases, such as cancer and coronary heart disease, and increases longevity.

Get going!

If you want help in developing a healthy lifestyle, feel free to contact a local Seventh-Day Adventist church, hospital, or school, and see what it offers.  They likely offer health-related events open to the community, but of course each church and hospital varies in its programs.  For example, the Albuquerque Central Seventh-Day Adventist Church hosts coed fitness classes every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.  Also, on October 7, 2011 at 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., there is a health expo to test for diabetes, take your blood pressure, and provide other health-related screenings.  Some are free, and some are for a nominal fee.  Personally, my favorite events are the cooking classes about how to cook vegetarian meals that are actually tasty.  Last time, I had “cheesecake” that I found out was made from tofu.  Other Seventh-Day Adventist churches in Albuquerque are Heights Seventh-Day Adventist Church and Three Angels Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

 Mind, body, and soul are all interconnected.  Like a three-legged stool, we become unbalanced if one is cut short.  Next time you’re at the gym or trying to beat your personal best time, remember to take time to care for other aspects of your health.  Let’s learn from each other, so we can become healthier and happier people.

Do You Meditate?

Every week I see another article touting the benefits of meditation. Wanting a little mental peace for myself, I’ve decided to try it. Where to start? There are religious methods, for example the Buddhist methods of vipassana (insight) and samatha (calming) (and seemingly endless subtypes, variations, and combinations thereof). There are secular methods of meditation as explained by Rick Heller of the Humanist Contemplative Group. Feeling satisfied with my own religion and spirituality, I’m looking at meditation as more of a way to relieve stress and/or get myself focused during the day. However you want to approach it, since the foundation of most meditation methods is breathing, I’m going to start there.

Ideally this would be my view during my 5 minute meditation.

I like small steps, so everyday before lunch, I’m going to close my laptop, turn off the lights and phone and sit in peace for 5 minutes, contemplating nothing but my own breath. Wish me luck!

Instead, this is my view and I'll just imagine I'm in the mountain scene above. Ahh, the power of the mind.

Do you meditate? Is there some practice (perhaps prayer) that you do and consider a form of “meditation”?


Prenatal Yoga Is Not . . .

. . . running, spinning, playing soccer, or boot camp.  There is no open road or grassy field to distract your mind.  There aren’t high fives and there’s no goooooaaaaaallllll!  No one is timing you or telling you to pump out a few more reps.  Yoga isn’t a competition.  It’s just you and your mat.  If you want to be distracted by treadmills and TVs buzzing, weights clanking, or chatter about workdays and other gossip, you wont’ find it in Molly’s prenatal class at Hot Yoga Downtown (the prenatal class is not heated).

In attending my first prenatal yoga class I was hoping to get a bit of a workout, maybe some nice restorative stretching, and some quiet time to just relax and settle into myself.  Done and done!

For me, this class won’t be a substitute for a 2 or 3 mile run.  It won’t take the place of a solid core workout.  It is, however, the perfect addition to my current workouts.  Molly’s class is not filled with props and lots of seated, resting positions; although blocks are available if you need them and Molly welcomes you to rest at any time.  Molly leads a modified type of vinyasa flow.  She started the class by explaining that she believes it’s good to be fit throughout your pregnancy.  I did get a good bit of core work and leg work in the class.  My heart rate increased, but not significantly.

More importantly, and since I spend some time working out otherwise, I got in a great deal of stretching, lengthening, and breathing.  Yoga always helps me smooth out my tight muscles.  It allows me to focus on form and my own individual physical self.  This is especially important now because things are feeling pretty different since my belly is housing a little one.

Most importantly, I got 90 minutes of freedom from all of my mental distractions.  I felt less like I was ignoring or escaping reality and more like I was taking the time to set aside some things and focus on relaxing my mind, yet also strengthening my mental state to handle challenges once I step outside the studio. 

I do enjoy the gym, playing on a team, working out with a partner or group, long runs, and yoga.  But I’ve learned that a balance of all those things is what keeps me well-rounded and sane.  I really do try to always apply this wisdom:  “Everything in Moderation.”  It works for me.  What works for you?


Mt. Taylor and the Continental Divide Trail

campsite near San Mateo Springs

My husband is an avid camper and backpacker.  He went out for a weekend to get away and explore a place he has never visited.  He ended up near Mt. Taylor.  Mt. Taylor is located northwest of Grants New Mexico and is one of the nations most endangered mountain ranges.  There he discovered huge mountain ranges that peak at over 11,000 feet.  The particular campsite that he found did not have a formal name but was near the San Mateo Springs.   So, he set up camp and his new hammock and enjoyed the cool 79 degree weather.  Gosh, I was wishing I was with him when the temperatures in Albuquerque were at 96 degrees!

 The first day they spent exploring and hiking near their campsite and taking in the fresh air that always smells so sweet to me in the mountains.  The campsite was hilly which makes it easy to hike and navigate.  The area was green and overcast most of the day which made hiking even more enjoyable.  The second day they ventured to the Continental Divide Trail.

Continental Divide Trailhead

This trail is over 770 miles long in the state of New Mexico alone and continues into Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.  This trail is very universal as you can hike or bike it.  I hope you have a chance to stop by and see this area of New Mexico.  Mt. Taylor is a beautiful place!


flowers that were found on the hike

Sunrise Springs Inn and Retreat

My husband and I discovered this great little retreat in Santa Fe that is eco-friendly, beautiful and affordable.  We ran into this place on our way to wine festival one year and now spend a few nights here and there during the summer time.  This fabulous place is called the Sunrise Springs Inn and Retreat and let me tell you, it is just that!  It is located on 70 acres and is about a 1/2 mile away from Las Golondrinas.  The grounds are gorgeous with its  beautiful koi ponds,  native landscaping, private hot tubs, a few saunas, meditation rooms and an art gallery.   It is the perfect tranquil retreat.

 What makes this place especially appealing to me is that is an eco-friendly retreat.  The restaurant on site is called the Blue Heron Restaurant and uses organic and locally grown ingredients.  It also serves organic and biodynamic wines and offers organic coffee in the rooms.  This place even has their own garden where the produce is used at the restaurant and their unusable items are composted back into the garden.  The complimentary breakfast also includes greek organic yogurt, fruits, and quality breads and pastries.

Sunrise Springs, Santa Fe, Las Golondrinas, eco-friendly resort

the grounds at Sunrise Springs.

There is a  jr. olympic size pool, a nice fitness room and you can even schedule a message for the ultimate relaxation.   There are two types of rooms, and  we have stayed in both.  Room one, is a garden view room which overlooks the grounds and has a balcony so you can sit outside if you wish.  It is spacious with a spacious bathroom, saltillo tile, and comfortable beds.   The second is a ‘casita’.  These are great and very private.  They have a  beautiful gas fireplace, a yoga room and a private courtyard and entrance.  That is my favorite!  The rooms are about 89.00 a night and the casitas are about 120.00.  I think that is a steal considering it is Santa Fe.  I hope you have a chance to visit this place.  It is a nice little getaway that is close to home.


Ayurvedic Eating in Albuquerque

Perhaps I can best sum up Ayurvedic eating and Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Cafe with this quote:  “When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” – Ancient Ayurvedic Proverb.  Ayurveda is the “science of life” and an Ayurvedic diet is part of living a balanced life.  I’ve just begun to learn about it, but you can find an introduction here.

Curious, I finally stopped in at Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Cafe on Silver and Yale to see what this restaurant has to offer.  Annapurna is a Sanskrit word meaning “complete food.”  The dishes are vegetarian, vegan, and are prepared according to Ayurvedic principles.  Meals are organic and prepared from scratch.  The seasons and 6 tastes are part of planning an ayurvedic dish.  The menu and more information can be found here.

I convinced my parents to join me for this outing.  We ordered the Malaysian Stir Fry, the Portabella Sandwhich, and the Veggie Burger.  The stir fry consisted of brown rice, tofu, seasonal vegetables, and a spicy marinade.  It was so rich with a fine balance of flavors.  The portabella sandwhich was a hit too.  The texture was great and it was very flavorful.  The veggie burger was least popular in our group, but still tasty.  The sandwhich and burger were accompanied by salads and a choice of sides (we chose fries and soup).  I ordered coconut water and was pleasantly surprised when it arrived in a freshly opened coconut with a straw and spoon to scoop out the white coconut meat.  So refreshing!

Annapurna's exterior walls are covered in colorful murals.

If you’ve been feeling like your diet is falling short of ideal, I recommend trying Annapurna’s (2 locations in Albuquerque and one in Santa Fe).  You’ll feel good about your meal, knowing it’s fresh, organic, balanced, and delicious.  Where do you turn for your good-for-you meal when eating out?


Urban Escape

Next time you need to relax, but you don’t have the time to drive to a hot spring and you don’t have the cash for a full spa day, I suggest Albuquerque Baths.  The concept is inspired by the long history of communal bathing:  Japanese bathhouses, Russian banyas, and Scandinavian saunas.  Longing for some quiet and relaxing time to spend with my dear mom, we visited Albuquerque Baths one afternoon this week.

We arrived at around 2:30pm and stayed until about, gulp, 6:30pm.  In the ladies’ locker room we changed into our swimsuits, rinsed off and headed outside to the quiet and cozy courtyard.  There, we alternated from deck chairs to the hot tub to the plunge pool (neither of us could bear the sauna that hot afternoon); often just dangling our legs and feet into the water.  During the time we were there, only 5 others arrived and left in the pool area.  The courtyard walls sheltered us from the surrounding sounds of the city and a peaceful waterfall contributed to the tranquility of the afternoon.  I highly recommend this as a great way to spend the afternoon by yourself, with your spouse, family, or friends.  (I know, I’m very thankful to have taken the time off for such mellow afternoon.)

In addition to the sauna, hot tub, and plunge pool, Albuquerque Baths offers massage, body scrubs, and salt glows.  For access to the pools and sauna it’s $15 per person, or $10 from 10am to 3pm.  Spa services are extra.  Their pools are filled with bromine; only residential pools may use salt water.  Click here for some info about bromine.  (Basically, it’s less irritating than chlorine and definitely does not smell as strong.)

Next time you need a quick escape, consider your local bath house :)

1218 Broadway NE
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Telephone: (505) 243-3721
(By the way, there is a ladies’ only session where swimsuits are optional.)