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Merry Christmas!

“Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness.”

Auguste Escoffier

 

May you have good food, genuine happiness and loads of love this holiday season!

2016 GIFTGUIDE ROUNDUP!

Hey all,

Are you realizing that you missed someone on your Christmas list? Maybe you’re just a good old-fashioned procrastinator. Maybe you weren’t going to get anyone a gift, but now that Christmas is around the corner, you’ve changed your mind. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself scraping for a holiday gift, here are my favorite gift guides this year, to help:

FOR THE NOURISHED-LIFESTYLE ENTHUSIAST: may I recommend my own gift guide, here.

FOR THE FOODIE: 2016 Best Cookbooks 🙂 here

FOR THE WOKE OR WANTING TO BE WOKE: resist gift guide (this is a screengrab from my email/the newsletter; so here are the links to the products above:)

  1. https://marketplace.plannedparenthood.org/apparel/t-shirts/across-the-line-wicked-jezebel-feminist-v-neck-t-shirt.html
  2. https://shop.aclu.org/product/ACLU-Sticker-Variety-Pack-25-Stickers
  3. https://blackphoenixalchemylab.com/shop/limited-edition/yule-2016/tyrannophobia/
  4. https://thinkprogress.org/a-t-shirt-that-fights-back-100-of-proceeds-go-to-the-trump-investigative-fund-22aa620722fa#.g8kyxv1lu
  5. https://donate.naacp.org/page/contribute/naacp-gift-membership

FOR THE INSPIRED / CREATIVE: Lily Lotus. Again, here’s their newsletter screen grab. If you go into their boutiques say I sent you for 15% off!

 

 

Easy Yoga Asana for Holiday Stress Relief

Here is a useful piece I wrote for my Holiday 2016 Newsletter. Ask me for a printed copy in person, or download the full PDF here.

Let’s be honest: between work, school break, parties, family obligations, travel, gift-giving, etc. the holidays can turn from fun to stressful very quickly. Here are some easy asana that will help you relax and re-center:

yogaloha holiday christmas pants yoga

  1. Child’s pose (balasana): Kneel on the floor, with your knees open wide, toes un-tucked, and big toes touching. Lay your torso down between your thighs and rest your forehead on the ground. Reach your hands all the way forward, then exhale to settle your hips to your heels and your arms to the ground.  This is a resting pose; stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. It gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles; calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue. A variation is to bring your knees in to touch and rest your arms down by your sides, to further stretch the shoulders and allow the spine to gently round.
  2. Butterfly (Supta Baddha Konasana): start laying down on your back on an even surface. Bend both knees and bring the soles of your feet in to touch (prop up your knees with pillows, blankets or blocks if this is too much on your hips). Relax your arms wherever is comfortable (by your side, on your belly, overhead, etc.) and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and stay for 1-10 minutes.  This posture stimulates the heart and improves circulation; stretches the inner thighs, groins, and knees; and helps relieve the symptoms of stress, depression, & menstruation.
  3. Legs-up-the-wall (viparita karani): Simply lay down on your back on an even surface. Lift your legs straight up over your hips, so that your body resembles a capital letter “L.” For even more comfort, you can do this at the wall and rest your legs against the wall. Wiggle around until you find a position that feels good; then hold still. Relax  and breathe. Hold for 5-15 minutes. Benefits include improved mood, increased energy, reduced anxiety and depression, and healing for menstrual cramps, migraine, arthritis, varicose veins, urinary disorders, respiratory ailments, insomnia, high and low blood pressure and digestive issues.
  4. Wild thing (camatkarasana – pictured): Start in a side plank with your right hand on the ground, fingers spread. Inhale to lift your hips higher and float your left leg up off your right leg. Bend your left leg and step your left foot to the floor behind you. Keep that left leg bent and your right leg straight. On an inhale, curl your back until your chest opens up toward the sky; curl your head back and lift your top arm out from your heart-space. Stay for just a few deep breaths. Return through side plank; repeat on the other side. This pose opens the chest, lungs, shoulders, legs & hip flexors. It builds strength in the shoulders & back and treats fatigue, anger, depression & aggression.


The Best Christmas Cookies {Recipe}

This season I kept it simple. Usually, I participate in a blogger Christmas cookie swap, and end up baking a lot and trying new, interesting recipes, but not this year. This year, Kiyo googled “Cookie recipes,” texted me one of the first results, and I’ve used it twice.

It’s this recipe; the first time I made it, I used two types of M&M’s instead of chocolate chips (because the colors were more festive, albeit more unhealthy), and walnuts (because, ew, why would you ruin cookies with nuts?). They turned out amazing. Everyone I shared them with (admittedly, a small number of people, but still) said that I nailed it. And of course, I took total credit, because for once, I’d followed a recipe almost completely. I thought I deserved a little credit, right?

This weekend I made the recipe again, but I halved it and added cacao powder; and subbed the chocolate chips/walnuts for crushed up Andes mint chocolates. Both sets of cookies came out so perfectly chewy, yet intact. I loved them so much, they were gone in exactly 1 day this time. This is one of the ways I’m keeping it simple this holiday season (the even simpler option would have been to make no cookies at all, but I just love cookies too much to ever go that far).

 

What are you making for Christmas, if you celebrate?

Using Essential Oils During the Holidays

Here is a useful piece I wrote for my Holiday 2016 Newsletter. Ask me for a printed copy in person, or download the full PDF here.

Nothing triggers happy memories as strongly as a delicious scent or flavor. Remember, you can always add more oil, but you can’t take it back out; so always start with just one drop and you can add more from there. If you buy quality essential oils, they are not diluted, so use them sparingly (they can be very strong). When using them topically, always dilute essential oils in carrier oils (such as almond or coconut oil). You can use many essential oils internally (more on that here) and best part is, they’re dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian. 

doterra-holiday-joy-essential-oil-blend

Try mixing your own holiday blend (think peppermint, cinnamon, clove, etc.), or buy doterra’s Holiday Blend oil, which is made with these warm, spicy, sweet flavors:

  • Wild orange
  • Siberian fir
  • Clove bud
  • Cinnamon bark
  • Cassia
  • Douglas fir
  • Nutmeg
  • Vanilla absolute

christmas cookies

  1. Add a couple drops of oil to your coat, scarf or wrists throughout the day (make sure you’ve diluted the oil first, if you’re putting it onto bare skin)
  2. Use your Holiday Blend in a diffuser
  3. Add 5-10 drops of oil to a spray bottle of water and mist your Christmas tree, your car, or your sheets
  4. Bring your bottle of Balance (doterra blend) with you to take a whiff of straight from the bottle in stressful situations
  5. Add a drop of oil to a bowl or vase of pinecones – DIY potpourri!
  6. Add a single drop of peppermint oil to your hot cocoa or mocha
  7. Add a drop of peppermint, cinnamon or clove oil to your Christmas-cookie batter
  8. Use essential oils instead of spices to make MULLED WINE: add 1 sliced / peeled orange and ½ cup sugar to 2 cups water in a pot. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Reduce heat & add 1 bottle red wine, 1-drop clove oil and 2-drops cinnamon oil. Slowly reheat but do not boil. Serve warm in mugs & garnish with cinnamon sticks. Serves 4-8.

christmas beverage mulled wine


2016 Holiday Newsletter

valerie-bretts-holiday-newsletter-2016

Make sure to pick up a copy of my 2016 Holiday Newsletter from me in person, or click above for the online PDF version.

yogaloha holiday christmas pants yoga

Happy Holidays!

2016 Holiday Gift Guide

merry christmas yoga yogaloha

December has arrived! Time for my annual gift guide. I love making these! This year, I wanted to choose all conscientious companies/items. I also wanted to be able to get discounts for you guys, so I included those with each item 🙂 It’s a shorter list this year (6 ideas); if you like lots and lots of items, scroll to the end for my full (personal) wish list. What’s on your wish-list?! 

2016 holiday gift guide

Subscription to Atlas Coffee Club

Use code ValerieCoffee to get your first bag FREE! as part of the coffee subscription that takes people around the world of coffee!

atlas coffee club

This is the gift of deliciousness AND productivity! Good for anyone you know who likes to get shit done (or who plans to with their New Years Resolutions).

atlas coffee subscription atlas coffee subscription

Plus, subscriptions make the best gifts, since it’s something the recipient can look forward to and enjoy multiple times.

atlas coffee club

On average about 50% – 60% of the coffees this company offers are fair-trade certified, direct trade, or go through a coffee cooperative. However, ALL of the coffee comes from farms that use sustainable farming practices (and they pay above-market prices for the coffee to ensure the farms can continue to produce high-quality coffee in this sustainable way).

atlas coffee club

Oh yeah, and of course, the most important question: does it taste good? The answer is a resounding YES! I loved using these beans to make regular coffee, as well as homemade cold-brew.

Speaking of subscriptions…

Subscription to Book of the Month Club

book of the month club feminist books

Use code FRIEND50 for 50% off a 3-month membership! This is another fantastic gift, especially for anyone who loves to read or wants to get into reading! Watch this video I made for full details:

Lily Lotus *Limited Edition* Chakra Long Legging Rainbow Wash Lunar

lily lotus chakra tie dye leggings

Mention this gift guide to get 15% off Lily Lotus items at their two Hawaii boutiques!

lily lotus chakra tie dye leggings

Made in the USA (90% Organic Cotton 10% Lycra), this high-waist lifestyle piece is great for all activities! Slip on these cozy, beautiful leggings for a versatile option that looks great with tanks, tunics and t-shirts. Perfect for practice or just to wear (#athleisure). You can get them with or without the chakras up the leg. I just LOVE the beautiful colors, which look painted-on. I have these in a different color scheme, and I get compliments on them constantly.

lily lotus chakra tie dye leggings

im with standing rock t shirt gift

Actress Shailene Woodley has joined forces with Standing Rock to protest the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Construction of this pipeline through the Missouri and Cannon Ball Rivers poses a serious threat to the water supply of the Native American tribes—and all 18 million residents—that live along its course. In Lakota, they say “Mni Wiconi,” which means “Water is Life.” When you buy this unisex shirt (there’s also a sweatshirt available), not only are you showing the world that you demand change to protect our waters, but you’re also helping fund Up to Us. They’re dedicated to organizing, educating and activating communities on how to become leaders who are willing to stand up in the face of adversity and demand dynamic change to create a world that works for all of us.

Click here to learn more about what is happening at Standing Rock and/or to make a donation and see how you can help.

Slow Food Membership

become a slow food member

A Slow Food membership comes in multiple prices, and is a great gift to the world as well as the recipient.

become a slow food member

The membership includes:

  • discounts and special invitations to local, national and international events, including Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto
  • an exclusive print magazine that showcases what is happening in the Slow Food movement locally, nationally and internationally and access to special members-only offers and previews
  • opportunities to get involved in national campaigns and local activities and projects
  • a membership card that proclaims commitment to Slow Food values; devotion to living Slow helps make “good, clean and fair food for all” a reality

HoneyColony Equilibrium Superfood

HoneyColony Equilibrium Honey and Herbal Superfood

Click here to get 20% off Equilibrium Superfood (12 oz; through 12/31/16).

Equilibrium Energy Superfood is ideally designed for athletes or anyone who lives an active lifestyle. I’ve been adding it to my tea, but it would also be good on toast or in recipes. Through naturally stimulating the nervous system, enhancing brain function, supporting muscle relief, and providing anti-inflammation support, each jar will keep you energized.

superfood honeycolony honey

HoneyColony is dedicated to cross-pollinating with companies who uphold high-quality standards that value planet, humanity, honesty, and fair-trade practices (their site includes informational articles, and many other healthy products). Real people hand-select all the brands and products on the site.

Equilibrium Energy Superfood is HoneyColony’s own special blend of organic and wildcrafted [vegetarian] ingredients; at the core is raw honey. From there, 11 other superfoods are added (active prebiotics, phytoplankton, blue algae, medicinal mushrooms, adaptogenic herbs, ORMUS, ginger, turmeric, bee pollen, bee propolis, royal jelly)—each organic or wildcrafted, potent, and boasting it’s own numerous health benefits. Combined, these 12 ingredients bring harmony to the body and mind by and reducing stress, toxins, and negative energy. Equilibrium Superfood is made in small batches to ensure high quality, exact measurements, and consistency in every Biophotonic jar.

2016 holiday gift guide

So, maybe that was plenty of options for you; or maybe you are making homemade gifts; or maybe you do not do gifts around the holidays. But, if you need more recommendations or just love browsing lists like these, I wanted to just add my own, much longer, *personal* wish-list (below). This is just an ongoing list that I compile throughout the year as things catch my eye / fancy:

  • LUSH argan oil/rose shampoo bar with the tin for traveling
  • A small-size hiking backpack (from REI, LL Bean etc. NOT one of those camelback water backpacks)
  • Anything from (or gift card to) Ginger13 (store in downtown Honolulu)
  • Any gold ROLA jewelry (from Fighting Eel)
  • A waterproof go pro
  • Coola Mineral Face SPF 30 Matte Tint (sunscreen)
  • Poppy & Someday Tinctures
  • Neshama Project Necklace (not picky about which one but gold please, no silver)


tsp Spices

tsp spices

Last year I discovered the cutest thing: tsp Spices.

DSC_0056

These little boxes contain individually-wrapped teaspoons of spices! This clever packaging lets you get full use of your spice dollar. It’s also less wasteful than ordinary spice bottles. Twelve teaspoon packets is only 6 grams of packaging weight, compared to the 17 grams of typical plastic spice jars, which usually end up in landfills. And the tins and boxes are fully recyclable.

DSC_0057

tsp spices are protected from light, air and moisture, so they always taste fresh. They’re pre-measured, so you don’t need to hunt down those elusive measuring spoons. They’re organic, so you can be confident you are getting 100% pure flavor, none of the fillers or additives allowed in conventional spices. These make the best hostess gift for your Thanksgiving or other holiday events coming up!


Happy Halloween!

halloween monster wall yoga

Oh hey guys! Happy Halloween!

halloween monster wall yoga

These are photos from a cool wall in Kaka’ako (in Honolulu, Hawaii). We took these for Yogaloha (remember, today is the last day to buy a class ticket for a big Halloween discount! Buy here). I’ll be at the studio tonight; we are open for classes at 5:30 & 7 pm.

halloween monster wall yoga

You might remember this wall from my recent vlog (if not, watch that here).

halloween monster wall yoga

Father’s Day Gift Guide 2016

valeriebrett fathers day

Since my mom is cleaning out her house, she recently sent me a bunch of great #tbt material; so of course, I had to share an old photo when I went to the zoo with my sister (on the left) and our dad. I don’t know where we were exactly, since we certainly had no zoo on Virgin Gorda, where I grew up. I do know that my sister’s outfit is awesome, and I remember we got that teddy bear in London, so perhaps that’s where we are in this photo. Not much has changed in all the intervening years: I still have the teddy bear (although he is now barely held together after countless nights being snuggled); I look pretty much the same, although taller; my sister still wears high-wasted skirts; and most importantly, my dad is still super loving, supportive and amazing.

FullSizeRender

A little gushy, sure; but that’s what Father’s Day is all about, right? Our fathers and father figures, at their best, provide support (be it all or some combination of financially, emotionally, intellectually, etc…) throughout our lives. I know that I’ve always felt emotionally supported by my dad, and I’ve also always found it very difficult to repay that love, specifically when it comes to holidays. I’m sure most good parents would say that their children’s love is the only gift they need, blah blah blah… but sometimes it’s nice to be able to hand someone a tangible gift that they will actually enjoy. It’s common, even if the child is “grown up,” that the parent is more financially stable and secure than the child (especially now that college educations are unfathomably expensive, but that’s a conversation for another time). Basically, your parents have more money than you, so what’s a good gift and what’s a good price-range?

 

If you are skilled at art or a craft, a handmade gift is always a sweet option. Here is a gift guide for the rest of us (from most to least expensive):

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Dharma Yoga Wheel

Let’s start with the most expensive item and get that out of the way: Dharma Yoga Wheel. One of these will cost you $60-240 (there are a couple different material and size options). This is a fun toy for dad’s who are into yoga and/or fitness, but it’s still a great gift for those who can’t be bothered to exercise. I can almost guarantee that any dad / father figure, whether his children are newborn or grown up, is tense and sore in the neck/shoulders/back. Solution: simply lay down on this wheel and stretch out. It’s like a foam roller but cooler, and easier to use, in my opinion. It’s also mush stronger, so if you want to try more fun and advanced moves with this, you can. Check out this cool product on their website, or grab one on Amazon here.

doterra oils for fathers day

dōTERRA Essential Oils

I recommend Balance ($27) or Frankincense ($94) for dads, since neither is feminine (and sometimes men are ridiculous about things like “smelling like flowers;” ugh). Anyways, both of these oils smell amazing (slightly musky) but Balance is more for aromatherapy while Frankincense has myriad healing uses. You can buy these directly from me (I have both in stock) or order online here and here.

father's day gift guide 2016

Hanging Luggage Scale

This is so helpful for savvy travelers who don’t want to get hit with the idiotic overweight baggage fee. Simply lift your bag using this scale. You can buy one for $20 or under, and an added bonus is that if your father-figure is super Dad-ish, he can use this to weigh fish too!

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Mike’s Hot Honey

Sweet and spicy is a fantastic combination; I know because my favorite pizzeria in Astoria had a pie topped with spicy salami and honey, and it was heavenly. This artisanal product can be ordered online and ships from where it’s made in Brooklyn. There are only three ingredients, so you know it’s good, but if you are adventurous (aka broke) you can try making this yourself: honey, chilies, vinegar. Its free if you succeed, or $15 here if you don’t.

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Ritual of the Savage

This is a fast, fun read that is perfect for summer, because it’s an uncomplicated thriller with just a few characters. I’m working on a full post about this book, but basically: set between California and Hawaii in the 1950’s, a veteran turned unsuccessful PI is recruited to help his ex-wife’s brother, who is messed up in something sinister involving a large pharmaceutical company (his employer). I recommend it for dads in particular because it’s very James Bond-flavored. Plus, it’s only $10 on Amazon!