Meet Sweets!

I sat down with Sweethome to talk routines, winter, coziness and dreams -- to get us all pumped for the upcoming Winter Cleanse.  

I started practicing yoga with Sweethome at North Portland Yoga in the fall of 2014. I had just moved back to the Pacific Northwest, was building a tiny house, was unsure of what would come next—and I deeply craved a spiritual practice and a space for me to investigate this new time and this new place. A dear friend brought me to a class with Sweethome and I was hooked. Sweethome offers a strong yoga practice, but what I love most is the space that she creates for inquiry and connection. Connection to ourselves, to “that which knows us better than ourselves”. Connection to each other, through the blending of our voices in chant and the honest (and rare)  conversations that follow. And connection to place-in the Pacific Northwest, on this planet, in this universe. She’s the real deal. 

We will be leading a Winter Cleanse together that will blend 10 days of Ayurvedic cleansing practices and support with 10 cozy mornings practicing yoga and meditation with Sweethome. It's all kicking off January 16th at North Portland Yoga -- Register Here! 

Until then, get to know Sweethome a bit better!


 

WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

I am up early, 4-6 am. I light the candles on my altar. I make a cup of coffee. I do some writing. I practice mantra and the lovingkindness meditation. Now I am also pulling tarot cards. It is always changing. Sometimes just meditation, sometimes gentle movement. 

And then I move into my day. I take care of my animals. I teach yoga throughout the day.I am cultivating a discipline of writing. I am always thinking about how I am going to make connections throughout the day. Sometimes that is through collaboration. I have video, music, and service projects that I am involved with at this time, but sometimes that collaboration is through simply participating in the world. I just love the interactions that I have with strangers. 

Sometimes I forget to eat. Sometimes I make dinner and sometimes I don’t. Though I get great satisfaction when I supply my girls with a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. And I like days where i make a big pot of food for my household. I have a minimalistic life, and I like it that way. Sometimes I don’t have a good handle on being organized and efficient, but in general I do feel prepared for what is to come. Sometimes I get a lot done in a day and sometimes it feels like simply living.

I feel fortunate in the big picture—even when I am fumbling.

 

WHAT MAKES WINTER SPECIAL?

One of my favorite things about Portland in the winter is that one week when it snows, and the city shuts down. In those moments, you have nowhere you have to be. No where to go.  You are always in the right place because that is where you are.

The winter sort of stops things.

I also like the sky in winter, the light of winter, there is a softness to the light.  The softness of the rain. Winter is a soft time of year, an internal nesting time.

HOW DO YOU NOURISH YOURSELF IN THE WINTERTIME? HOW DO YOU GENERATE LIGHT WHEN FEELING THE DARKNESS?

I love to give and giving is a part of this whole season. I love to give the things that I make  with my hands: bead work, knitting, in the summer it is the fruits of my gardening.

I also like “New Years” and the invitation to set intentions, to investigate the unknowns of what is to come.  In winter, I take care of my inside world, the inner psyche—and our surroundings are an expression of that. During winter I take care of the inside of my house—the inside of myself. I clean up. I prepare. 

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? 

Right now I am reading a tarot book and the Sun Magazine. I have also been listening to the On Being podcast, I recently enjoyed an  interview with the poet Marie Howe --- It made me want to be a student of hers. 

WHAT MAKES A GOOD TEACHER?

Someone who can begin with a subject and talk you into a sweeping expanse touching upon many other things, you forget where it all began, but then they bring you back and it all connects . A good teacher reminds us that everything is connected when we don’t see it. We might get lost but a good teacher brings it all back together. I think in order to do that, a teacher needs to be loose enough to not be preoccupied by their own self involvement…they don’t have to prove their point or be too rigid, because what they actually say is not as important as what is speaking in everybody else.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BRAVE?

Allowing yourself to be scared….if you are not willing to be scared you will never be in a situation where you need to be brave. 

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR PLAY?

I experience play when I am teaching. I am in love with the world when I am teaching. When I am biking, that is a sort of play. I had a great day the other morning because every interaction with strangers was funny and witty and we felt connected. 

FAVORITE MANTRA? 

I don’t have a favorite—they swim in and out as needed.

I am teaching a class at SunGate studios “Mantra for Life” and with it I want to establish a practice of mantra that supports health wellness, so that is where my focus is at now.

I WANT TO GET DREAMY DURING THE WINTER CLEANSE...WHAT IS A RECENT DREAM OF YOURS?

I see an old friend. I am happy to see him. I walk up and we hug but my left arm is tucked up to my front side like someone with a broken arm in a cast, yet my arm was not broken. We held each other close, but my arm was there, separating us. I hold people close, yet with distance. I know this about myself.

THE CLEANSE WILL ASK US TO GET CURIOUS ABOUT HOW 2016 WILL UNFOLD... WHAT ARE YOU MOST CURIOUS ABOUT FOR THE NEW YEAR?

Hmmmmm…. I’m curious about how my life will shift with one of my daughters leaving for college. She and I have a close relationship and have since she was born.  

I am also curious about where my business will take me—my work is a big part of my life and my lifestyle. I am curious about how my work can be more impactful to the world. 


Thank you Sweethome! Find more info about Sweethome's classes, events and more at www.teacupyoga.com

And if you are interested in participating in the Winter Cleanse with Sweethome, sign up! It's going to be a juicy one!

Simply Sweet Cranberry Pear Tart

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Full disclosure, this recipe is highly inspired by this recipe, contributed by a reader of my  f-a-v-o-r-i-t-e  food blog My New Roots. It is a beautiful site with incredible recipes that are nutritious, clean, and delicious to boot! Much love to My New Roots.

I did take a few liberties with the recipe and I want to share it here now because it is an incredibly simple dish to make for the holidays that is:

  • Not loaded with sugar.
  • Packed a nutritional punch. (Thank you chia seeds and cranberries!)
  • Stunning to look at.
  • Really delicious—for days.

I first tried this recipe this Thanksgiving. Unable to make it back home for the holiday, my husband and I ventured to the mountains of Asheville, NC and stayed at a charming Airbnb that had an ample, light-filled kitchen. It was a pretty dreamy time, exploring Asheville and the charming mountain towns all around. It was crisp, clear and cold outside, and the light was divine. This little tart was a great ending to our simple Thanksgiving meal, and it held up quite nicely on our drives through the mountains. Yes, we ate it straight out of the pan in the car after a long hike—and it tasted better than ever! I think from now on a pie will accompany us on all road trips! Decadence!

The greatest bit, was that the ingredients were so portable. So this little tart would be great to whip together if you have limited time or resources and you want to make something that will really stand out for an upcoming holiday get together. I packed all the crust ingredients together in a ziplock bag, brought along a pint of cranberries, two pears, a few satsumas, a baggy of chia seeds, and a jar of coconut oil. Not too shabby.

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Oh-and I have to give a little shout out to this crust. It is awesome. It is vegan, if that is important for you, and it tastes like the most delicious little shortening cookie, but whole pie sized.

Not to mention, it is so easy to make. Pies everyday!

And now, to the tart!

For crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (can be white,  pastry, whole wheat or sprouted wheat or combination. I used 1 cup pastry flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 T Cane Sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice (approximately juice from 1 satsuma orange)
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped (optional—but REALLY good)

For the filling:

  • 2 pears, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cranberries, fresh
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 T chia seeds
  • 6 T orange juice (approximately juice from 2 larger satsuma oranges) or water
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (I used ground vanilla bean—decadent!)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 inch grated fresh ginger
  • A bit of orange zest

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the chia seeds with the water or orange juice and set aside until a gel forms.

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3. Combine all of the crust ingredients in a bowl and mix. Dough should be fairly thick, but moistened all the way through.

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4. Grease a 9” pie pan with a coconut oil and press crust evenly into the bottom of the pan and up the sides.

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5. Place slices of one pear in a layer on top of the crust.

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6. For the remainder of the filling,  mix the cranberries with remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Add the chia seed gel and fold it into the mix. Pour filling on top of crust and pear layer and spread evenly.

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7. Slice the remaining pear to top the cranberry mix. (Note—if you use the whole pear, it will likely cover the tart—which is just lovely. I may have been snacking on pear while I was cooking~oops~ so mine is a bit skimpy on top. It was worth it! )

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8. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Allow tart to cool completely before removing from pan.

Beautiful right! Who knew that cranberries were so magical? I want to use them everywhere now.

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And, to get in the spirit, a little festive tune (or two or three!!)

I have to admit, I LOVE the She and Him Christmas album—inventive but not too far away from the Christmas songs I know and love. Here is a favorite from their album (I am digging the role reversal).

How about one more from those two,  Christmas Day.

And finally, my all time favorite, Pat a Pan.

Nothing is better than the sound of voices singing together. It always makes my heart sing.

A happy holiday to you and yours,

Enjoy!

Simply Sweet Cranberry Pear Tart
Recipe Type: Sweets
Author: Denise
A delicious, low-sugar, tart. A feast for the eyes!
Ingredients
  • For crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (can be white, pastry, whole wheat or sprouted wheat or combination. I used 1 cup pastry flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 T Cane Sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice (approximately juice from 1 satsuma orange)
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped (optional—but REALLY good)
  • For the filling:
  • 2 pears, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cranberries, fresh
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 T chia seeds
  • 6 T orange juice (approximately juice from 2 larger satsuma oranges) or water
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (I used ground vanilla bean—decadent!)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 inch grated fresh ginger
  • A bit of orange zest
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine the chia seeds with the water or orange juice and set aside until a gel forms.
  3. Combine all of the crust ingredients in a bowl and mix. Dough should be fairly thick, but moistened all the way through.
  4. Grease a 9” pie pan with a coconut oil and press crust evenly into the bottom of the pan and up the sides.
  5. Place slices of one pear in a layer on top of the crust.
  6. For the remainder of the filling, mix the cranberries with remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Add the chia seed gel and fold it into the mix. Pour filling on top of crust and pear layer and spread evenly.
  7. Slice the remaining pear to top the cranberry mix. (Note—if you use the whole pear, it will likely cover the tart—which is just lovely. I may have been snacking on pear while I was cooking~oops~ so mine is a bit skimpy on top. It was worth it!)
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Allow tart to cool completely before removing from pan.