A Gentle Transition

tree + blue clouded skyThe past few days it’s been warm. In the 70s and I’ve ditched my jacket. October had some very cold days and nights.

But November has been a breath of fresh air before heading into winter. The change in seasons stepped back for a bit to let us enjoy a gentle transition.

pink flowers yellow leavesThe bright colors of the leaves only lasts for a few weeks, so I like to take pictures and notice the differences. The type of light and shadows. The blue of the sky. The fluffiness of the clouds. Each day, even minute to minute, there are subtle changes.

The contrast between yellow autumn leaves and pink summer flowers is striking. Within a couple of weeks, they will mostly be gone.

yellowish green treeThese trees will look different. A more permanent chill will have set in. But for the next few weeks, I’m enjoying the transition.

Have a good weekend!

Autumn/Winter 2015: Free Yoga Classes in Boston

duo yoga poseSummer is indeed over. But not the free yoga classes! There are many free yoga classes to choose from now that we are into fall and headed toward winter. This is the first year that I have noticed so many. Enough for me to compile a new list. I’ll be trying some of these classes too! There are Meetups in the area to check out.

Hands To Heart Center Yoga – Yoga for the People provides free yoga classes for people living with poverty and trauma in Boston. Check out their website and Twitter for class schedule.

Plus, free pop-up classes seem to be the rage! As this trend continues, I’ll add those classes as I find them to the Facebook page. New posts and listings go up there several times a day, so make sure you keep up!

Like the summer list, and Facebook page, this list will be a work in progress and there will be updates, so keep checking back. Namaste!

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MONDAY

Troops for Fitness Yoga
Ronan Park (Dorchester)
6:15pm

As part of the Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness program, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department is offering free yoga classes with U.S. Army Veteran Roxanne Hope Randall. Classes started at the beginning of October and go through November 30th.

TUESDAY

BPL Yoga: Intelligence for Body, Mind, & Soul
Boston Public Library (Central Library, Copley Square)
12pm – 1pm

Acclaimed yoga teacher, author, and entrepreneur Rebecca Pacheco will lead these yoga classes for an all-levels class to unplug and recharge body, mind, and spirit. You will be surrounded by books, history, and the library’s peaceful hush in the historic Abbey Room of the McKim Building. Classes start on January 12 and are held weekly until February 16. What a great way to start the new year!

Yoga Classes at Boston Medical Center
Moakley Building (830 Harrison Avenue, Boston)
6pm – 7:15pm

These yoga classes are not just during the summer and are open to community members in addition to BMC patients and staff. They are held indoors and part of the Program for Integrative Medicine & Health Care Disparities. Take the elevator or stairs down to the basement. The classes are free, but there is a suggested donation of $5.00. Currently there is a flyer online [click here], but it is old. If the online flyer is updated, I will link to it here.

Complete Candlelight Flow
8pm – 9pm
Pop Allston (89 Brighton Ave, Boston)

Yoga Hub, founded by Ali Singer, is offering this class designed for yogis to advance their practice through building a comprehensive understanding of yoga techniques and philosophy. Upon arrival, each student receives a candle as a symbolic token of union with the Self and with others. No experience is necessary. Free mat rental is available. While the class is free, there is a suggested $5 donation.

WEDNESDAY

NTC Yoga
Nike Boston (200 Newbury Street, Boston)
7:04am – 8:04am

Nike+ Training Club offers this athletic vinyasa-style class taught by yoga and Pilates instructor Jacqui Mimno to target often overlooked elements of training. You’ll improve joint mobility, while simultaneously working on upper body and core strength. You need to register each week for the class on their online calendar, which updates on Sunday at 3pm. These classes are held indoors year round, so you can enjoy them even when summer ends!

Troops for Fitness Yoga
Ronan Park (Dorchester)
6:15pm

As part of the Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness program, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department is offering  free yoga classes with U.S. Army Veteran Roxanne Hope Randall. Classes started at the beginning of October and go through November 30th.

THURSDAY

Yoga Classes at Boston Medical Center
Moakley Building (830 Harrison Avenue, Boston)
4:30pm – 6pm

These yoga classes are not just during the summer and are open to community members in addition to BMC patients and staff. They are held indoors and part of the Program for Integrative Medicine & Health Care Disparities. Take the elevator or stairs down to the basement. The classes are free, but there is a suggested donation of $5.00. Currently there is a flyer online [click here], but it is old. The Thursday class starts at 4:30pm. If the online flyer is updated, I will link to it here.

FRIDAY

Troops for Fitness Yoga
Ronan Park (Dorchester)
6:15pm

As part of the Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness program, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department is offering  free yoga classes with U.S. Army Veteran Roxanne Hope Randall. Classes started at the beginning of October and go through November 30th.

SATURDAY

Winter Workout
The Liberty Hotel (Charles Street, Beacon Hill, Boston)
10am

Back in 2009, The Liberty was one of the first hotels in Boston, or anyplace in the area for that matter, to start offering free yoga classes in the summer. They set the trend and still offer free classes in collaboration with Equinox. Guests of the hotel and members of the community are welcome to take the class for free. Classes are year round. In the summer, classes are outside in the courtyard. In the cooler months, they are indoors. Check with the concierge to find the exact class location, since it appears to change.

  SUNDAY

Reggae Flow
9:30am – 10:30am
Pop Allston (89 Brighton Ave, Boston)

Yoga Hub, founded by Ali Singer, is offering this reggae-inspired yoga class. No experience is necessary for this class, where postures build through a progressive sequence, designed to cultivate total harmony in body and mind. Free mat rental is available. While the class is free, there is a suggested $5 donation.

Yoga & Beer; the Key to Happiness
Night Shift Brewing (87 Santilli Highway, Everett)
11am – 12pm

These yoga classes take place at the brewery every so often and there is one coming up on October 18th. Take a look at their event calendar for confirmation before you go.  Kat O’Leary from CorePower Yoga teaches the vinyasa classes.

Yoga For Runners
Boston Marathon adidas Runbase (855 Boylston Street, Boston)
6:30pm

These free vinyasa yoga classes are taught by Liz Vail. A customized yoga flow will bring balance to overworked muscles used when running and will also provide strength to the areas of the body that are needed in order to run more efficiently. All levels of yoga experience are welcome, but it looks like you need to register each week.

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Image Credit: “Yoga Pose” courtesy of lobster20 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Apples 2 Apples: Spencer + Mutsu

applesNot only do I love the board game, but over the past few years, I’ve found my love for apples increasing.

Back in 2009, I blogged an apple taste test, Macoun v. Braebern. They were both good, but I chose the Braebern and it was my apple of choice for several years, even though I ate, cooked and baked with other apples too.

A couple of years later, I attended TECHmunch in Boston and heard Amy Traverso speaking as part of a panel discussion. This may have been the first time that I learned about her book,The Apple Lover’s Cookbook. I planned to get it right away, but didn’t and now find myself thinking that this book is becoming a necessity.

There are so many different types of apples and this is supposed to be a very good season here in New England. I want to learn more about apples and of course eat them too. Chronicle, a local lifestyle television program, recently had a wonderful show all about apples.

They mentioned some urban orchards that allow apple picking and talked about the Roxbury Russett, which originated in the Roxbury section of Boston, where I was born. My parents, who grew up in Roxbury, talk about how when they were young, they could just randomly pick apples and other fruits on trees that were around the city.

When my brother and I were little, my parents would take us apple picking in the fall. By then we had moved out of the city to the suburbs. My father loved taking us on long drives and we’d go all over New England. We’d get fresh apple cider and my mom would make apple sauce, apple pie and buckwheat pancakes with apples. Just the memory of the scent of apples cooking, usually with cinnamon, makes me smile.

When I was at the farmers market at Dewey Square last week, I saw so many new to me varieties of apples. I decided to try the Spencer and Mutsu. Below are descriptions of both from the New England Apple Association’s blog.

Ripening in mid- to late September, Spencer is a conical apple, nearly solid red-pink in color, with green highlights. Its flesh is crisp, juicy, and more sweet than tart, though less sweet than its Golden Delicious parent (Spencer’s other parent — surprise! — is McIntosh). Spencer is an all-purpose apple, especially good in pies and sauce. It does not have a lengthy storage life.

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They make outstanding sauce and cider. Also known as Crispin, Mutsus have a sweet, light flavor when cooked, and hold their shape well. An excellent dessert apple, they are also especially good in salads.

Mutsus are a late-season apple ranging in color from greenish to yellow, with an orange blush. Their firm, juicy flesh is creamy white to pale yellow. They can grow quite large (a pie made with Mutsus may require as few as three apples).

Mutsu has its origins in Japan, from a Golden Delicious crossed with an Indo, a Japanese seedling, in 1930. It was introduced in the United States in 1948.

I ate these apples raw and loved them both. There was no side-by-side comparison, so I can’t describe them that way, but they were sweet enough for me and super juicy.

The plan is to make Apples 2 Apples a continuing series of posts about apples, so we’ll see how it plays out. Plus, there may be a surprise announcement to come!

Pumpkin Spice Season

iced pumpkin spice latteMy favorite Starbucks Reward is my free birthday drink.

Outside of that, I can’t be bothered with how many stars I’m going to earn for buying this or that.

I really like pumpkin spice. Since the weather was quite warm on the day I decided to get my drink, I enjoyed an iced pumpkin spice latte with soy milk. It was heavenly.

I’ve written about how it is so strange to me that the seasonal conversation about pumpkin spice centers around it being a thing for white people.

A recent blog post about pumpkin spice on Black Girl Dangerous gets to the heart of matter about how this conversation has seriously twisted the truth. It really makes me think about how for many years, as a person of color, I was made to feel strange for enjoying pumpkin spice.

The writer of the post, Sasanka Jinadasa, a Sri Lankan American, gives us a short history of the ingredients that make up pumpkin spice: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice.

Below is a taste of her post, but I hope that you’ll click over and read the entire thing and learn why she wants to #decolonizepumpkinspice.

Sri Lankans are proud of their cinnamon, a natural crop with a violent history, in which Portuguese traders, Dutch “allies,” and British colonists used a combination of guns and debt to monopolize the cinnamon trade in my parents’ homeland. …

The same culprits (Portuguese, Dutch, British) monopolized South and Southeast Asian nutmeg through the spice trade. The same thing happened to ginger. …

As for pumpkin? A squash native to the Americas? Who do you think grew that first, the Pilgrims? Think just a little further back. …

It’s not pumpkin or pumpkin spice that’s the problem; it’s the commodification of our resources as somehow exotic when used in non-white foods and comfort when used in white foods. And when we mock certain foods as “white foods,” particularly in America, we’re capitulating to a lie—the lie that anything we eat in the diaspora isn’t touched and flavored by people of color.