Winter Solstice

Last weekend we got our first snow of the season, and it fell on the outdoor holiday lights in our neighborhood, turning the crisp little white lights into glowing orbs.  The days have been becoming shorter and now we have arrived at the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice. The lights outside hold our attention, draw us in with their beauty, and help us forget about the darkness–and maybe even celebrate that darkness.  It is truly the season of light.

During this season of light it is important to go inward to connect with your own inner light.  The yoga teachings (sutras, chapter one) talk of “the light within that is free of all suffering and sorrow.”  We often block our own light without even knowing it.  So as we sit now at the solstice, here in the dark, dust off whatever is blocking your bright light.  Prepare to leave behind whatever is hindering it from shining its brightest, so you can bring your truest, most brilliant self into the new year.

Sharing some light with you!  To help you celebrate the solstice, here is a fantastic recipe for vegan/gluten free cupcakes.  Be prepared to be amazed!  Even my extraordinarily fussy people in my house love these!!

Gingerbread Cupcakes (Vegan) with Cinnamon Lemon Glaze

  • Servings: 12 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: super easy!
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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 12-cup muffin pan with oil.

Create two bowls, one for dry ingredients and one for wet.

Dry ingredients (whisk together):
1 1/4 cup Pamela’s Artisan Gluten Free flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients (whisk together):
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used avocado oil)
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon lemon oil (could probably substitute lemon zest)

Whisk everything together and then spoon into the muffin pans.  Bake for ~20 minutes.  Take out and let cool before you frost them.

Lemon/Cinnamon Glaze
This will take another 5-10 minutes but it is totally worth it.  It hardens up and is a great complement to the moist cupcakes.

Whisk together in a bowl and then spoon/smear onto the cupcakes :
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Enjoy!! Recipe adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

No Service

I was away for the past two weeks in a beautiful spot in central Maine.  My family and I rented a lakeside house in an exquisite spot that we return to, like migrating birds, each year.  It is a place where trappings, wardrobe, and haute cuisine don’t matter.  It is a place where your view is drawn back time and again to the breathtaking lake, the mountains in the distance, the sounds and sights of loons and eagles, and jumping fish.  And there was no internet service, so we felt completely unplugged.

These two weeks were such a gift.  We talked more.  We played more games together.  We swam and did water sports every day (rather than be shamed out of the 100% club–those that go in the water every day).  We connected with each other and took time to ourselves as well to relax without pressure, schedules, and service.  In short, without all the wonders of technology, we were able to recharge.  The devices that we are accustomed to checking and reading drain us in ways we don’t even realize, leaving us feeling depleted, disconnected and unable to focus.  The time without them on the lake was like a pouring in of nature’s energy.

Practicing yoga down by the water on the dock was among the many highlights of my time away.  I found myself reflecting on Pantanjali’s eight limbs of yoga, and toward the end of our stay I specifically began reflecting on brahmacharya, the yama which calls us to use our energy correctly–it’s called “the right use of energy.”  Rather than directing our energy outward to external desires, brahmacharya suggests we turn the energy inward, toward finding peace and happiness within ourselves.  Being at the lake certainly made it easy, and I came home feeling rejuvenated.

As I begin a serious reentry into life (launching new classes, sending our son off to college, getting our other son set up into his sports and routines…..) my challenge is to keep this peace and tranquility with me, and to be parsimonious with how I spend this now full battery of mine.