Incredible STONEHOUSE FARM in Chicago (2)

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Yoga is originally from India. Most of the time, it is related to religion and spirituality. Therefore, it is a kind of spiritual cultivation. And meditation is an important method to connect the spirit.

I have been practicing yoga for five to six years. Most people practice yoga for keeping fit or loosing weight. For me, I never thought of being professional or urged myself to achieve certain positions. I was afraid of pains. I just wanted my body to be agile and flexible. Avoiding spraining the ankle or waist was my purpose for practice yoga.

Before I came here, I never practiced yoga outdoors.  It was so clean and fresh stretching my body in front of the lake. The Sun shined. It was serene. My body was being nourished and grown.

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This was animistic.

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One of my tasks was cleaning the beach.  This motif was created at the last event. We left it like this.

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Trimming trees and burning the branches. Everything was so new and exciting to me.

 

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Incredible STONEHOUSE FARM in Chicago (1)

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In Aug. 2015, I was a volunteer at Stonehouse Farm in Chicago. It is a yoga training site only open in summer. It provides training to yoga instructors and accommodation service. Scheduled activities are available every weekend during summer. I was a helper there helping to do laundry and cleaned up the site for different events. I worked there, exchanged for not only accommodation but taking part in yoga practice and events.

 

The name Stonehouse comes from the stone house on the farm. The house was built in 1863 and is one of the oldest houses in Illinois. People are proud of having a historical house.

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The day I arrived, there were yoga silent meditation days. During silent meditation period, people couldn’t talk to each other, and could not make eye contact. Everybody was just quiet, pretended that nobody was around you. If there were necessary conversation, people needed to be far away from the house and talked with very low voices.

 

This was the yurt where I lived.

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There were aged oak trees around. The first night, an acorn (the fruit of oak tree) dropped to the roof of the yurt. The sudden sound startled me especially in the dark silence. The green trees and the acorns appeared in the sunlight, fresh and peaceful.

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Yoga practice provides equanimity. People’s body is adapted to diet more naturally. Most of the time, vegetarian food was served.

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This was the lounge.

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Organic vegetables

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Fecund soil grew abundant apples.

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Interesting sites

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It was an amazing  place to stay.

Vegan Banana Ice Cream

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After reading this blogpost you will be totally amazed by what this yellow fruit can do. Bananas are not only high in potassium and a good blood sugar regulator, but they also make delicious ice cream. You don’t believe me? Then just continue reading.

When I first went vegan I thought that I would never find a perfect replacement for dairy ice cream. But this changed when I found out about banana ice cream. The funny thing is, it only takes a few minutes to make and it only contains one ingredient.

Let’s make some guilt-free ice cream!

First you have to ripen your bananas, this is essential if you want your ice cream to have a sweet taste. Once your bananas are spotty, you can peel them, slice them and put them in the freezer overnight. I would recommend to always keep some frozen bananas in your freezer, so you are always ready to make some delicious ice cream in a jiffy!

To make the ice cream:

  • put the banana slices in a food processor or high speed blender (I personally use a Vitamix blender)
  • let them thaw for about 20 minutes
  • add a splash of water, so the blades have something to grab on
  • process until a perfect ice cream consistency is reached
    (you might have to stop the blender a few times to scoop the frozen banana chunks out of the blade area and move them around, this assures that every piece of banana gets blended into a smooth consistency)

And voilà, you’re left with some delicious vegan ice cream. Of course you can spice up the recipe by adding more flavor to it.

Other flavor combinations could be…

Vanilla: add 1 tsp of vanilla extract before blending
Chocolate: add 2 Tbsp of cacao powder (or carob powder) before blending
Berry: add 1 cup of frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries) before blending
Mango: add 1 cup of frozen mango chunks before blending
Peanut butter: add 2 Tbsp of peanut butter before blending

And, don’t worry, even if you don’t like the taste of bananas, you will love this ice cream. Once you freeze the bananas, the strong taste kind of disappears, leaving you with sweet guilt-free soft serve ice cream.

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Let’s go bananas!

Seaworld quits Orca shows

SeaWorld has recently announced to end Orca shows. However, the 29 Orcas at SeaWorld won´t be released, but have to remain until the end of their life in SeaWorld. Tilikum, a whale captured at the age of 2 and separated from his family, suffers from a bacterial lung infection, due to a vet working at SeaWorld. They haven´t found a cure for his health concern and this might cause his death. Over the past weeks his condition worsened a lot, but he still receives treatment from the SeaWorld team. The movie “Blackfish” published in 2013 is about the famous killerwhale Tilikum, his captivity and the 3 relating deaths.

Unforgettable memory

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On March 10th, 2015, I started my super gap year, heading to The Philippines and Australia. My family and my friends worried a lot about my safety being a woman traveling alone to the countries that I had never been to. At that time, I knew nobody there. But I believed that people like me never intended to be bad and always tried to help others as long as I can, should be god blessed. I would be lucky.

The story happened in Tasmania, Australia. It was April 7th, Easter holiday. I arrived at Devonport, the third biggest city in Tasmania, around 1:00pm. I would get on the cruise ship, Spirit of Tasmania, at 7:30pm to Melbourne.

The ship was just in front of me, across the river. I stood at the dock. Looked like there should be ferry boats sending the passengers to the ship. But I could not see them.

The first thing I should find out was how to get to the ship and get the timetable. As it was still on Easter holiday, the visitor center closed. I went to the post office to send a post card for my German friend. I asked the staff there.

He told me there were two ways to get to the ship:

1, Swim across the river;

2, There was a bridge one mile away. There was no bus, nor cab in the city.

The ferry boat was only available during tourist season, which was in summer.

I was dumbfounded.  Walked there for nearly 2 hours!  I couldn’t believe it.  I should take air plane if I knew the situation in advance. I could never imagine that getting to the ship would be a problem. I stared at my big luggage, worrying.   But what could I do? It was the only way so far.

Then, there was a sweet voice behind me.

“I can send you to the ship. When do you need to be there?”

I turned around. A beautiful lady with silver hair was in front of me.

“Oh.  Really?  It is so nice of you. Thank you!  When is your convenient time?”

“When do you need to leave here?”

“Hum, 6:00pm is my best time. But I can be flexible according to your schedule.”

“It is ok, 6:00pm. you can wait for me at this post office.”

Oh, I was so pleasantly surprised to this kind offer. She wrote down her mobile No. Her name was Chris.

After that I walked around the city center for half an hour. Actually there was only one main street. I took my time watching the movie “Fast and Furious 7”. It was acted by Paul Walker, his last character.

I arrived at the post office at 5:40pm, Chris appeared in 10 minutes. She was driving her red BMW car with a girl. The girl was her navigator! She didn’t know how to get to the cruise ship and had the girl help her out especially giving me a ride!

Chris was a Swiss model when she was young, and lived in San Francisco for some years.There should be some reasons that I was sent to her, she said.

We hugged to say goodbye, tears in eyes!

During my travel, I have met different people. While I was in difficulties, there was always someone around me helping me out. I really appreciated for everybody in my life!

DIY All-Natural Room Freshener

 

Room Freshener

We all like our home to smell good. If you go to the drugstore, the possibilities are endless for buying a room freshener, with a fragrance palette ranging from Vanilla & Cream over Fresh Linen over Sandalwood. But they all have one thing in common, they are toxic. Unfortunately, nobody really thinks about all the chemicals that these products contain, not to mention the endangering effect they have on our health, one breath at a time.

In the last few years, I’ve been trying to cut down on all toxic conventional cleaning products and to buy eco-friendly choices or even make them myself. Making your own room freshener is not only fun and easy, it also includes just a handful of ingredients. There are countless ways of making your room smell cozy and welcoming, so there are really no boundaries when it comes to fragrance combinations. Other benefits of a homemade product are that it doesn’t smell fake like commercial air freshener do, and they are a great way to save money in the long run.

Since I have experimented with a few fragrance combinations, I found this one to be my favorite. The eucalyptus essential oil is antibacterial and has cleansing properties. The lavender essential oil is calming and has a positive effect on the nervous system.

Let’s get started.

What you need:

  • distilled water
  • alcohol free witch hazel (I used Thayers Lavender Witch Hazel)
  • eucalyptus essential oil
  • lavender essential oil
  • 2oz glass spray bottle

Essential Oils

How to make it:

  • fill a glass bottle 3/4 with distilled water
  • add the remaining 1/4 of alcohol free witch hazel
  • add 6 drops of each essential oil
  • shake to combine

Now, go and make the world a fragrant place, in a nontoxic way!

A different day

Imagine a girl who loves animals but is not fond of sealife. Imagine a girl who loves swimming – she learnt when she was four, after all – but not in the sea, not to mention the Ocean. This kind of girl should stay away from water as much as she can, shouldn’t she? Living in her comfort zone, without taking any risks, being safe…
Let’s assume, though, that the girl loves challenges and, most of all, she loves challenging herself. What is that girl going to do?
Now suppose that friends of her want to go whale-watching in the open Ocean and they invite her. What will her answer be? Challenge accepted, of course!
Gosh, I’m regretting it since the very moment I said yes – am I an idiot? What was I thinking about? Doesn’t matter, I’ll figure something out – lifejackets are on every boat, aren’t they? Ok, I’ll play the part of Jack Dawson in Titanic, I already know it. Breathe, Marta, breathe!
The boat starts its engine and…ready, steady, go! A snap and we are in the open Ocean. Sun is shining high, wind is blowing and:”What’s that thing over there? Right in front of you! Is it a fin?”.
Words can hardly describe the emotions I was feeling in that moment. Three – maybe four or more – whales were swimming not so far from us, lifting water all around them. They were huge, enormous, but their moves so surprisingly graceful. I couldn’t help but staying with eyes wide open, fully enjoying the moment.
All of sudden, the fear was forgotten. The only thing that mattered back there was those beautiful animals that were dancing for us. I was proud of myself, proud of having challenged myself, once again, to live an experience I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
Thank you Ella, thank you Katie: it wouldn’t have happened without you! *

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*This post was written before going skydiving: another great challenge is waiting for me! I’ll keep you posted!

What Is Managed WordPress Hosting and What Are Its Prime Features?

A majority of the websites that have been a victim of hacking would not have been affected if the fundamental safety precautions had been taken. And this is where opting for a managed WordPress host can be very helpful because of its security measures. Read on to find out what managed wordpress hosting is, and why one should use it!

What Is Managed WordPress Hosting?

Managed WordPress hosting makes use of a platform, which is devised particularly for WordPress with pre-installed CMS. You need not download and install WordPress as in the case of a conventional web hosting setting, which gives you the liberty to install almost any plug-in or theme. That being said, few managed WordPress hosts include a selection of restricted plug-ins, which may have a negative impact on the performance of your site.

Godaddy is a famous managed wordpress hosting provider.

Organizations that provide managed WordPress hosting offer backups on a daily basis, page caching for quicker website load times, auto plug-in updates, detection and removal of malware, and WordPress-focused security features.

You can rest peacefully, if you go for managed WordPress hosting, because you wont have to deal with any of the petty issues on your own.

Is Managed WordPress Hosting a Good Investment?

Whether or not you should opt for managed WordPress hosting, will depend upon your individual situation and so you should take the final call based on your needs. As for the pricing, this hosting solution is fairly priced, particularly for businesses that would generally need to pay someone to handle these issues. If you feel that you can deal with your hosting problems at the backend, it’s a good idea to stick on to your current solution.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to a logical assessment of the benefits and costs. Analyse if the features you get and time you save can help in saving more money than what you invest in managed WordPress hosting. If yes, don’t hesitate to vote in favour of this hosting solution.

As a managed WordPress hosting provider, Godaddy tries to offer customised solutions, depending upon the needs of its client, because the chances are high that the person who’s seeking a managed hosting solution would have a large network of blogs, and keeping its customers happy can easily fetch handsome annual revenues.

 

 

How to Travel by Work Exchange

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It has been one year since I have done work exchanges. These experiences will always be special to me because I had the opportunity to live with local families in different countries.

More than 3 years ago, I happened to read an article about travelling in Australia for a work exchange that included free meals and accommodation. It was with an organization called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farm (WWOOF). Travelers worked on the farm, lived with the host family and enjoyed the local culture. At that time, I thought I should try it at least once in my life. When I had the chance to start my gap year, the first idea that came to me was work exchange. It made long-term travel affordable and provided a unique experience. I did some research and found that there were three organizations providing work exchange for travel.

WWOOF: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farm

I registered with WWOOF Australia. It cost me about AUD100 for a one-year membership which included work insurance. One week later, I received a thick book containing a list of contact details for all the hosts registered with WWOOF Australia. I was struck by the endless list. I didn’t know how to choose. There are different organizations in different countries that work with WWOOF, which means if you would like to travel to multiple countries, you need to pay membership fee separately to different organizations. Your membership cost will increase quickly.

HelpX:  Help Exchange  www.helpx.net

I did some more research and found HelpX. This organization provides all the work exchange details online. The premier membership is twenty Euros for two years for one person or two friends. And there is a huge variety of work to choose from. Babysitting, farm work, carpentry, driving and even boat programmer. The work is usually for 4-5 hours a day, but this depends on the agreement you make with you host. You can browse the host list before you pay for membership, but you can’t contact the hosts. After uploading a profile and paying the membership fee, you have access to every section of the website including checking the reviews. There are more than 14000hosts in Australia and New Zealand, 10000hosts in other countries.

Workaway: www.workaway.com

This site has a similar database to HelpX. A two-year membership is twenty three Euros for a single person and thirty Euros for couples and friends. Once you sign-up, you create a profile explaining your background and skills, and then start browsing the list of hosts. You can email hosts that interest you and start a discussion with them to figure out if you’re a good match for each other. Most of the hosts are based in US.

 

I found out many hosts in US use both websites. But I suggest becoming a member of HelpX. As the member ship fee is a little bit cheaper, there are more hosts in other countries, more varieties for you to choose from.

I had a great experience with work exchange while I was traveling. I would like to continue having these special experiences.

Top 7 Tips To Not Annoy Your Friends As A Vegan

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A lot of people just cannot imagine going vegan, but for me it was a piece of cake. Surprisingly, the hardest part about becoming vegan was not the diet itself, but the social aspect. Tons of vegans share a passion for food, a healthy lifestyle and animals. But sometimes we just get carried away, talking about our diet for hours and hours and hours. This might not be a problem if your friends are vegan as well, but if your friends are carnivores they might get annoyed after some time. Here are some tips on how to prevent this from happening:

1. Don’t talk about veganism all the time
As a passionate vegan myself, I know how this feels. Switching over to a vegan diet made me experience some serious detox symptoms, but after that I started to feel amazing. Maybe you lose weight, maybe your skin clears up, or maybe you just want to tell the whole world that you just went vegan. Whatever it is, just enjoy the journey and don’t talk to your friends about it all the time. The key is to know when to stop.

2. Insisting that vegan cheese tastes like the real thing, because let’s be honest, it doesn’t
You might be vegan for some time now, and every once in a while you try some vegan alternatives for animal products. It could be that you don’t remember how the real thing tasted, or your taste buds just totally changed, but claiming that vegan products taste exactly the same as conventional food is not a good idea. Don’t even start this conversation.

3. Don’t fill up your Facebook page with upsetting images of animal cruelty
It is okay to post some veganism related content every once in a while, but don’t overdo it. You really don’t want people to block your feed or (worst case scenario) unfriend you.

4. Don’t force your friends to try your vegan food
You might have found the best vegan ice cream, chocolate cake or burger. So, what you can do is take a nice picture and post it on your vegan blog or Instagram account where you can share your new discovery with all your vegan followers. The best way to share vegan food with your other friends is to just offer them food without emphasizing on the fact that it is vegan.

5. Acknowledge that not everyone loves grocery shopping as much as you do
Some people might not know this, but vegans get very excited about food. And going grocery shopping is one of our favorite activities. Our mind goes something like this: “The produce looks so fresh. Oh, blueberries are on sale…maybe I should start making smoothies again. Oh my god, a new veggie burger. I wonder if this product is vegan…I should check the ingredient list.” So, whenever you have company while grocery shopping, try to keep your visit to Whole Foods (this store is particularly dangerous) short, or just avoid going there at all.

6. Don’t make any comments about your friends eating meat at a BBQ
If your friends invite you to a BBQ, it’s probably not a good idea to list all the negative effects meat has on your health. If you don’t want to be the outsider who sits in the corner, eating your veggie burger all on your own, then just enjoy the time with your friends and don’t think about the food that everyone’s eating.

7. Don’t force an entire group of your non-vegan friends to go to a vegan restaurant
This one goes without any explanation. The only exception would be if it’s your birthday dinner, because let’s be honest, it is your special day after all. Nowadays it is so easy to find vegan food at almost every restaurant, and if there is really nothing that you can have, then eat beforehand and order something small (little tip for all the vegans out there).

So, if any of you carnivores out there ever got annoyed by a vegan, I apologize. Generally, vegans are good people, but there is one question that drives us crazy and you should avoid it at all times: “But where do you get your protein?”