Houston, we have a solution.

Thank you Houston, for showing me such a wonderful welcome! Houston International Hostel and their amazing hosts, were a nice soft place to land after jet propelling myself away from the East Coast and into the warm (ahem, scorching) embrace of the big ‘ol Texas state.

YogaOne on Travis St. promptly kicked my butt into high bliss gear, forever changing my perspective and causing me to float nearly 3 inches off the ground after what felt like a five-hour long 8:15 Hot session. His name was Clemente. He was my instructor. He found my breath. Namaste.

Pho Saigon Noodle House on Milam was right on time with their delicious summer rolls and steaming hot bowls of brothy, herbaceous goodness. Sorry no pictures, too busy scarfing.

Cali Sandwich was the bomb-ski cheap eats spot, with $2 sandwiches of grilled pork, pickled carrots, fresh cilantro all on crusty warm baguette – honestly, there is no going wrong with that. I crashed there twice, just to work for a while but maybe more so to try the light and crispy fried spring rolls. Here’s a hint: Tear up some of the sweet basil leaves and add them to the nuoc mam they bring with the rolls…oh yes darling, that is the spot.

Discovery Green was my alternate office location during my weeklong stint in Houston, the boathouse offers up a great veggie burger for $5 and you can catch wi-fi and a few power outlets when you need to recharge. Bonus, I happened to be there during the week of the International Jazz Festival…WINNING.

Kudos to the Houston Metropolitan Transportation Authority – they’ve done it right. The only other public transportation authority that I can safely say has a good idea of how to run a clean, prompt, easily accessible  public transportation system is my favorite city: Toronto. IMHO. The Houston Downtown Metro (700) links you to nearly every point in the city, where you can connect to a bus – running until 1:30 am most days to many outlying areas of the Greater Houston Metro. You can recharge your QCard at any stop along the 700 route, and most of the drivers and operators I found to be very helpful and friendly.

The Museum District of Houston (where my Houston Hostel was HQ’d) is cool and funky and gives off an inviting vibe, I caught the Museum of Fine Arts Houston – MFAH  and Helmut Newton’s exhibit; it was a Thursday so admission was free, which was a nice surprise; bummer I missed the Menil Collection and will have to make sure I stop by during my next visit.

The Uptown Tasting Room hosted a networking event by InHouston – if you attend the next one, prepare to be overcome by the sheer volume and vibrancy of the attendees. Everyone is armed with fistfuls of business cards and robust handshakes. It’s big. Texas big. The wine was exquisite, reasonably priced and the offerings vast and varied. I chose a Malbec (Argentina) and a Red Blend (Merlot and Cab from New Zealand). Salud!

Cezanne Jazz Club was a hidden treasure I am so glad I took the time to find. Tucked away at the top of the stairs in the attic of the Black Labrador Pub, like some old record player that transports you back to another time and place; Cezanne hits every note in pitch perfect key. If I listen closely enough I can still hear the deep thump of string bass gently dancing the red wine in my glass while I tap my foot to his beat. Seating is tight, so get there early if you can. Stay for a while.

For the best Jamaican food you have ever had and the largest portion size you’ve ever seen, be sure to stop by The Reggae Hut on Alameda. Marley plays overhead, ceiling fans whir and wobble; close your eyes for long enough and you’ll swear there’s sand under your feet in this Jamaican island jerk shack. Everything is made from scratch – including the lemonade and the sorrel tea. Chicken and Beef patties, with a soft, flaky, slightly curried crust. Thick, juicy cuts of chicken with bits of jerk seasoning rubbed lovingly into every nook and cranny. Smoky more than sweet but mouth-watering and flavor-packed down to the bone. Peas and rice, steamed vegetables and spicy sauces accompany. Just be ready for a doggie bag or share with a friend, because you are not going to finish this plate. Promise.

Houston, I found, has many a varied thing to say; whispers if you listen closely enough, smiles brightly and wide to welcome you there – sometimes punches you in the arm and wonders what took you so long in the first place.

The locals don’t have to tell me twice how much I will love it there. Bags are packed, hold me a seat; I’ll be home soon.

Houston, we have a solution.

Thank you Houston, for showing me such a wonderful welcome! Houston International Hostel and their amazing hosts, were a nice soft place to land after jet propelling myself away from the East Coast and into the warm (ahem, scorching) embrace of the big ‘ol Texas state.

YogaOne on Travis St. promptly kicked my butt into high bliss gear, forever changing my perspective and causing me to float nearly 3 inches off the ground after what felt like a five-hour long 8:15 Hot session. His name was Clemente. He was my instructor. He found my breath. Namaste.

Pho Saigon Noodle House on Milam was right on time with their delicious summer rolls and steaming hot bowls of brothy, herbaceous goodness. Sorry no pictures, too busy scarfing.

Cali Sandwich was the bomb-ski cheap eats spot, with $2 sandwiches of grilled pork, pickled carrots, fresh cilantro all on crusty warm baguette – honestly, there is no going wrong with that. I crashed there twice, just to work for a while but maybe more so to try the light and crispy fried spring rolls. Here’s a hint: Tear up some of the sweet basil leaves and add them to the nuoc mam they bring with the rolls…oh yes darling, that is the spot.

Discovery Green was my alternate office location during my weeklong stint in Houston, the boathouse offers up a great veggie burger for $5 and you can catch wi-fi and a few power outlets when you need to recharge. Bonus, I happened to be there during the week of the International Jazz Festival…WINNING.

Kudos to the Houston Metropolitan Transportation Authority – they’ve done it right. The only other public transportation authority that I can safely say has a good idea of how to run a clean, prompt, easily accessible  public transportation system is my favorite city: Toronto. IMHO. The Houston Downtown Metro (700) links you to nearly every point in the city, where you can connect to a bus – running until 1:30 am most days to many outlying areas of the Greater Houston Metro. You can recharge your QCard at any stop along the 700 route, and most of the drivers and operators I found to be very helpful and friendly.

The Museum District of Houston (where my Houston Hostel was HQ’d) is cool and funky and gives off an inviting vibe, I caught the Museum of Fine Arts Houston – MFAH  and Helmut Newton’s exhibit; it was a Thursday so admission was free, which was a nice surprise; bummer I missed the Menil Collection and will have to make sure I stop by during my next visit.

The Uptown Tasting Room hosted a networking event by InHouston – if you attend the next one, prepare to be overcome by the sheer volume and vibrancy of the attendees. Everyone is armed with fistfuls of business cards and robust handshakes. It’s big. Texas big. The wine was exquisite, reasonably priced and the offerings vast and varied. I chose a Malbec (Argentina) and a Red Blend (Merlot and Cab from New Zealand). Salud!

Cezanne Jazz Club was a hidden treasure I am so glad I took the time to find. Tucked away at the top of the stairs in the attic of the Black Labrador Pub, like some old record player that transports you back to another time and place; Cezanne hits every note in pitch perfect key. If I listen closely enough I can still hear the deep thump of string bass gently dancing the red wine in my glass while I tap my foot to his beat. Seating is tight, so get there early if you can. Stay for a while.

For the best Jamaican food you have ever had and the largest portion size you’ve ever seen, be sure to stop by The Reggae Hut on Alameda. Marley plays overhead, ceiling fans whir and wobble; close your eyes for long enough and you’ll swear there’s sand under your feet in this Jamaican island jerk shack. Everything is made from scratch – including the lemonade and the sorrel tea. Chicken and Beef patties, with a soft, flaky, slightly curried crust. Thick, juicy cuts of chicken with bits of jerk seasoning rubbed lovingly into every nook and cranny. Smoky more than sweet but mouth-watering and flavor-packed down to the bone. Peas and rice, steamed vegetables and spicy sauces accompany. Just be ready for a doggie bag or share with a friend, because you are not going to finish this plate. Promise.

Houston, I found, has many a varied thing to say; whispers if you listen closely enough, smiles brightly and wide to welcome you there – sometimes punches you in the arm and wonders what took you so long in the first place.

The locals don’t have to tell me twice how much I will love it there. Bags are packed, hold me a seat; I’ll be home soon.

Daniel (Vegan) Fast: Day Zero

Hello, howdy, hey there neighbor!

This Spring finds me in such a place, what a little seed I have been riotous beneath the ground and just waiting to warm up enough to burst through!

Yesterday was Day Zero of a 30-day Daniel Fast for me and two of my very closest friends, today is Day One. This will be the first inter-faith fasting I’ve participated in. Both of my friends have a firm belief in God as a Higher Power, whereas I believe in God as a system of Love energy within which we all operate and thrive. #COEXIST

This fasting period is an exercise in synchronization. There is a rumbling afoot, tasks and plans are reaching the proverbial tipping point. Mind/body/spirit tuned in together; fasting for me is a reset of the systems. Digestive, immune, nervous – detoxify and cleanse. Clear. Act.

I will share this journey, if you will have me.

“Journey more to know your power.”  Cougar

Pre-fasting activities were a little different this time around, as I have two friends joining me whose fasting objectives include a dietary overhaul. I was trying to find a fasting ‘program’ with a gradual learning curve as opposed to water/juice fasts.

I decided on the Daniel Fast. Termed for Daniel of the Christian Bible, who fasted from rich foods under King Nebuchadnezzar’s rule.

I hold no religious persuasion, in other terms this is a pratical fast using  vegan health/dietary guidelines as we know them today. Whole, unprocessed food. Fresh water. Fruits. Vegetables.

Day Zero Menu

Breakfast

The King’s Oats:

Unsweetened Almond Milk, Sesame Seeds, Cooked Brown Rice, Oats, Unsweetened Apple Juice, Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg – Combine ingredients and cook in a saucepan on medium heat until thick and bubbling (Topping: Cubed Green Apples, Sliced Bananas)

Lunch/Snack

Lemon Water (Served Hot or Cold)

Crunchy Kale Chips (you can change the seasoning mix to taste)

Dinner

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms (marinated in apple cider vinegar, sage, olive oil, rosemary, thyme, garlic and onion powder, paprika, salt & pepper)

Eggplant Bolognese over Whole Grain Rotini

Assorted Fresh Fruit (Pineapple, Cantaloupe, Frozen Grapes and Kiwi)

Little one loves grapes best after they’ve been in the freezer for an hour or so – mini fruit pops.

And lastly, a batch of my Fresh ‘n Spicy Pineapple Salsa. I added a Chipotle and Ancho Chile this time; one pepper too many for the kids but it’s perfect for the grown ups. You can opt out of a pepper or two if you need to tone the heat down.

In other news, I feel great! Eliminating sugar and drinking nothing but water has punched up my energy levels considerably.

Day Zero Mantra:

“How you do one thing, is how you do everything.”

~Bikram Yoga Instructor

Puerto Rico…retrospective

As a treat to myself and my Valentines (see: JKN) a trip to Puerto Rico for Saint Valentine’s Day was in order – huzzah!

Here’s a pic I snapped of an incredible dish, Snapper Al Ajillo (Garlic Sauce). You can tell from my son’s face that the food from this place is a.maz.ing (I am trying to track down the photo of the sign! oops!)

Please visit the Isla Verde restaurant strip in Carolina, do yourself the favor *you will thank me later*