Browsing all posts tagged with health Archives - Eco-Chick Escapes
It was Cristi’s birthday (that’s her aglow above on the left), and a group of us were out to celebrate it in style. In Stowe, that meant Michael’s on the Hill, which is celebrity chef-owned by Swiss-born Michael Kloueti (his wife, Laura, runs the business side of things). The couple moved to Vermont and founded the restaurant when they had children, and have spent the last decade creating a local institution.
Not only is Michael a world-renown chef, having worked in restaurants from Hawaii to New York City, but he and Laura recognize the importance of healthy, locally-grown food. The restaurant is a member of the Vermont Fresh Network, Local First Vermont and Slow Food, and “the usage of local, organic products is of premier importance.”
From top right (counter-clockwise) are Starre Vartan, Healing Arts practitioner Cara Joy, Kristen Rosfeld and Kelly Cunningham.
All of that is in evidence when you sit down at your table in the circa-1820′s farmhouse with giant wrap-around porch which affords gorgeous views of the Green Mountains; everything on the menu is based on both seasonality and nearby availability, which means local meats (some in our party had the venison and local pork), seafood and fish from the nearby New England Atlantic coast, and of course, a host of harvest vegetables during the second week of October when I visited to see the last of the brilliant leaves blanket northern Vermont valleys.
Smoked Local Trout with Heirloom Bean Salad & Horseradish Cream
Kripalu is many things, but really it is just one. It’s one of those rare places where you get to explore just ‘being’. Because that’s not an easy place to get to – between taking care of ourselves and our families, doing our best at our workplaces, not to mention the myriad random details life throws at the modern person, it’s no wonder the Monkey Mind* sometimes seems like he’s taking over.
Because our lives are so full (sometimes wonderfully, sometimes frustratingly) finding the space to be quiet with ourselves doesn’t happen as easily as we would like. Places like Kripalu offer us a variety of tools by which to better understand our own processes and habits, whether they be mental, physical, psychological or spiritual. And it is only by being able to both look and learn to modify those things that we are able to make the true changes in our lives that we really need to move forward, live more consciously, feel healthier, and love more openly.
In other words, Kripalu rocks. (Because yes, all of the above can be plenty of fun too!)
Last month I was lucky enough to be invited to Kripalu to check it out – I had never been. I signed up for the “R&R Retreat“. The center offers both open-plan visits like the R&R as well as retreats and programs around a specific focus, like yoga (at all levels), couples communication, heart health care, chanting and dancing, and more.
The R&R program includes three meals a day (more on that below), and yoga classes three times a day (at three levels each time – so one can take a Beginner class in the morning and a more advanced one later in the day) as well as open classes in ecstatic dance, meditation, nutrition, mind-body communication and other health and spiritual topics. (Check out a sample schedule here.) There are also live music performances, films, and lectures, and plenty of on-your-own activities like hiking the grounds, going for a canoe ride, or napping (I can’t imagine any kind of getaway that doesn’t include at least one nap a day).
Upon check-in, after a lovely and leisurely ride from my home in coastal Connecticut to the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, I organized my things in my Standard Plus room (this always makes me feel more relaxed), which was relatively spare and not gigantic, but cozy in a modern sort of way (see my photo below). The bathroom’s tub was deliciously deep and I definitely enjoyed it one evening post-yoga. My room was located in the newly-constructed annex, an impressively green addition to the main building, and it was extremely quiet every time I was in my room, which is a necessary part of being able to truly relax.
The fact that I am writing this post from an actual hammock should demonstrate to you my dedication to the art and craft of hammocking (yes, it’s a verb, at least in my world – as it should be). Growing up, I availed myself of the large hammock in my backyard on a pretty regular basis – after mowing our acre of lawn, when I needed a mid-Summer’s nap, or when I needed to get away from my grandma’s pretty demanding routine.
Yellow Leaf Hammocks make the variety of hammocks you see below, which includes a number of colors, patterns and styles (love the chair version – perfect for reading!) and they also have impressive social and sustainable cred, including economic health, environmental stewardship, social equity and cultural stewardship.
The company calls themselves a ‘social enterprise, not a charity’:
In Southeast Asia, hill tribes such as the Mlabri are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of society. Hammocks have been the means to securing civil rights, combating deforestation, creating basic infrastructure and achieving financial security for hill tribe villages in this region of Northern Thailand.
As a hunter-gatherer society with no concept of land ownership or relationship with the outside world, the Mlabri way of life was devastated when the land around them was claimed and deforested. Impoverished, without citizenship, and enslaved by opportunists, their future appeared bleak.
Yellow Leaf aims to engineer a turnaround in which marginalized ethnic groups such as the Mlabri apply their artisan talents towards creating a micro-economy that will elevate them from their former state and maintain their cultural identity, with the added benefit of eradicating toxic farming methods within the communities we partner with.
Get your hammock on AND support people in need with honest work. How much more awesome can it get?
All photos courtesy of Yellow Leaf Hammocks except where indicated.
I had traveled much of the world, but had never been to the glorious Pacific Northwest until I met Simon, (now) my boyfriend of two years. In fact, his Oregon provenance was immediately appealing – surely I’d get to check out this new-to-me place if we got together – when I first heard of him from a friend. (His deep intelligence and mix or adorable and handsome later sealed the deal).
Sure enough, I’ve gotten the chance to visit twice now, and Washington and Oregon turned out to be even more naturally beautiful, more smartly peopled than even I had anticipated. During my trips to Seattle and Portland, Corvallis and Eugene, I found a part of the world I had always dreamed existed – a world of 90′s grunge sensibility crossed with tech influence and an outdoors-first style and attitude – and the food! The food was, for want of a better all-encompassing term, kickass.
Which brings me to one of the finest meals I’ve enjoyed, an apps and drinks extravaganza at The Walrus and the Carpenter in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Since I visited, the restaurant has been featured on the front of the New York Times’ Travel Section, Frommers and others.
Our lovely hosts and some seriously pretty drinks – the Death in the Evening and the Le Perroquet.
Thanks to Theresa and Zach, my boyfriend’s brother and sister-in-law, we ate there not so long after it opened, and took a seat outside on the patio where we commenced a several hour fest of libations and small dishes. The food was so fresh, so full of terroir (the French name for the ‘taste of a place’) that I went to sleep that night dreaming of what I’d just eaten – and woke up the next morning wishing for more.
Travelling is, after all, about being in a place that’s different from where you usually live – whether that’s a subtle difference or a profound one is as much about how varied the food actually is – and how much care and attention one puts into noticing it. Eating at a restaurant that puts the focus on foods within a given watershed, foodshed, state or region can lend a sense of what that place is, essentially.
Washington State vino.
In Seattle that’s a cold and briny bite of seafood followed by a quaff of full-bodied red wine from grapes that are comfortable with a damper clime. It’s fresh vegetables that tell of the season without a glance at the calendar, and a wholesome, tangy vibe to the food that keeps the damp out. There’s a hint of mushroom everywhere, as if the whole mist moistened inlet is secretly harboring those things that grow from the fallen. It is all quite earthy. And Ocean too, of course.
The locally-based menu changes with the seasons, so what I have taken shots of here may or may not be available, depending on the time of year. The cocktail menu is a little more static, with a perfect mix of the creative and the classic.
The Porch Swing cocktail.
All images by Starre Vartan.
Wanderlust is a yoga-arts-music (and general awesomeness) festival that takes place in various locations around the United States and Canada every summer. I heard from a few friends about how much fun they had last year, and so I’m really looking forward to this year’s festivities. While I would like to attend them all, I’m keeping it local (and my carbon footprint lower) and will be celebrating the summer solstice by heading to Stratton, Vermont from June 20-24th But there are also Wanderlusts in Colorado, Whistler, Canada, and California.
My Top 10 Reasons I Can’t Wait for Solstice at Stratton:
1. Being surrounded by (and inspired) by hundreds of yogis, health-food lovers, locavores, earth-lovers and spiritual folks who value what I do.
2. I consider Vermont to be one of my spiritual homes, and celebrating a solstice in the Green Mountain State with enlightened people will have to be amazing!
3. I have been to Stratton Resort in the winter to snowboard, and it is a beautiful locale and accommodations there are top-notch. It will be fun to enjoy the mountain in the summer.
3. My wonderful boyfriend, who is a yoga teacher and writer, will be accompanying me. I love sharing the things I care about with him.
4. I’m going to be staying with my good friend that I’ve known since High School, the healing arts extraordinaire, Cara Joy, who specializes in ThetaHealing, Sound Therapy, Human Design readings, and Ashiatsu massage. She’ll be working in the Healing Sanctuary tent for the duration of the festival.
5. I’m going to be reporting on all the fun to Eco Chick and Eco Chick Escapes readers (as well as our Twitter and FB friends).
6. I can take outdoor yoga classes! As you might remember, I LOVE to practice outdoors.
7. I love learning new things when I’m ‘on vacation’ – I’m not much for lying on the beach and doing nothing, and Wanderlust has a number of amazing speakers I’m looking forward to hearing from, including Tim Walsh, who is not only the husband of a former Eco Chick contributor (Kim Jordan Allen), but an amazing teacher and wilderness guide.
8. Ani DiFranco will be performing! I have loved Ani since I was 18 years old and have seen her live shows several times. She’s a powerful, soulful singer and an amazing guitarist. I will be front row center cheering and hooting when she comes on stage!