All Posts By

karissadevore

Travel

Travel Diaries: Taos

The last stop of  my epic New Mexico road trip was Taos, a town I have wanted to visit for years as it was a favorite haven of my late professor and mentor, Harald Becker.

When I am visiting a walkable town, accommodations in the heart of things are my top priority. In Taos this meant staying at the Historic Taos Inn, right on the main drag and easy walking distance to all of the shopping and restaurants in the area. The building is full of southwestern character and is home to both a restaurant and a bar featuring live music on a nightly basis. I totally scored on a great rate at this place because I went in April, which is not a busy time. If you can make it around that time I highly recommend it- the weather is beautiful and the area is not flooded with tourists.

I opted to stay in the main building, which had its advantages and drawbacks. On the positive side, I felt extremely secure and had easy access to the hotel amenities. The staff was friendly and they gave me great recommendations for things to do in the area. The walkway outside my door looked down over the bar area and there was a small table there, so I was able to come out in my sweats with a glass of wine and watch the musicians perform, which was a great way to wind down at the end of each day. The downside was that my door and windows might as well have been made of tissue paper for how well they blocked out noise. The music from the bar and the noise from the road outside were pretty loud. Even still, I had a great experience and will definitely stay there again- I’ll just opt for a different building next time.

For my first day I stuck to the town. I walked around the shopping areas and dropped into the tasting rooms for the El Chipara and Black Mesa wineries. Both were excellent and I ended up taking home a few bottles- particularly special was the Chocolate Caliente from Black Mesa, a spicy, chocolatey red dessert wine that is supposedly even better when warm. An absolute must-visit was Chokola, a small bean-to-bar chocolatier offering sipping chocolate, truffles and mousse. The place is really cute and I was seriously in chocolate heaven watching the amazing artisans make everything and getting to taste the fruits of their labor.

The next day I took to the roads to explore. My stops included the Taos Pueblo, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and Earthship Biotecture.

The Taos Pueblo is the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States. Archaeologists believe that the current buildings were constructed between 1000 ad 1450AD, making them approximately 1,000 years old! Many of the native people who live there continue in their ancestors’ traditions of intricate beadwork, pottery and other crafts. Some of them operate shops out of their homes, and when you visit the community they will welcome you in to see their products and view the inside of these remarkable structures. Be sure to only enter into homes to which you are invited. While the community is open to visitors, the homes of individual residents are, of course, private. Make sure you get cash, as most of the shops and refreshments don’t accept cards.

One lovely woman I met was selling fry bread, which I’m pretty sure is still clinging to my hips but was super delicious and worth every bite.

On my way to Earthship Biotecture I passed over the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and I couldn’t resist stopping to take some pictures. The gorge is massive and so deep that I couldn’t actually see the water running at the bottom. The pedestrian walkway allowed me to stand right over the center, which was simultaneously awe-inspiring and terrifying.

After managing to not fall into the gorge, I was on my way again. Earthship Biotecture was only a few miles down the road and it was the place in Taos I was most excited to visit. H and I have long dreamed of building our own net-zero home, and earthships have been a major source of inspiration for us as we have considered our future plans. We even have a friend who interned there for a few months and has always raved about the wonderful community there.

The experience of actually touring a functioning earthship and learning about how the different components work was absolutely fascinating. The builders of these homes have found ways to regulate temperature without using electricity, ways to grow and dehydrate food in the windows using the sunlight, and ways to re-use water for 3 different purposes before finally surrendering it.

The homes themselves are built mostly from recycled material and adobe, which are both easily attainable and extremely affordable. The colorful circles you see on the tan and green buildings above are all glass bottles, and many buildings incorporated dirt-packed aluminum cans that functioned as bricks when building walls. Rainwater collection provides water, and is ingeniously built into the roofs of different structures.

When I was driving back into town I saw Taos Mesa Brewing and pulled off to grab lunch and a pint. The beer there was great and I was really excited to see that a new vintage trailer hotel, El Mystico, was being built right next door! It looks a lot like El Cosmico in Marfa, which is HIGH on my desired trips list. Hopefully El Mystico will be finished the next time I come to Taos so I can give it a try!

I wrapped up my visit to Taos by spending some time in the nearby community of Arroyo Seco, which is home to some lovely art galleries, pottery studios and restaurants. Some friends of ours from college live near there, and I was able to enjoy dinner with one of them at the absolutely amazing Aceq restaurant.

Overall Taos was a delight. I wish I could have spent a few more days there, but with only a 5 hour drive separating us I know I will have many opportunities to return. Hopefully next time I can get in some snowboarding!

I would love to hear about your favorite road trip destinations! What makes them so special?

Happy Trails,
KD

Travel

Travel Diaries: My First Hermitage

My second stop on my road trip through New Mexico was The Lama Foundation in Questa. Situated far up a dirt road on the side of Lama Mountain, the foundation’s collection of eclectic buildings is isolated in the best way. It is a quiet, pristine environment. This is not a post of travel tips, nor will it be full of beautiful pictures. This is a glimpse into my heart and one of the most powerful experiences I have had in my life thus far.

The Lama Foundation community has some permanent residents who live there year round and renew their commitment annually, but in the summer it grows to include both interns and guests of all spiritual walks. Anyone looking to pursue their spiritual practice in peace and love is welcomed at Lama.

One of the foundation’s most unique offerings are their personal retreats. These retreats, referred to as hermitages, provide an opportunity for one to spend anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks in complete solitude, housed in one of the foundations’ designated retreat spaces and separated from the rest of the community by both space and designated paths.

I first heard of LF completely randomly, through an Instagram post I came across. For some reason I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and a few weeks later I found myself applying for a hermitage. The Hermit Guardian, Bobby, responded to me almost immediately and within 24 hours I had mailed my check. I was READY for this. I knew it was right.

When I arrived I was greeted by a tall, red-bearded fellow who turned out to be my email buddy, Bobby. He might be the nicest person I have ever met. After helping me gather some food from their larders (fresh vegetables, peanut butter, rice cakes, etc.) he gave me a tour of the property. I was amazed at the diversity of the different buildings and responsibilities of the residents. They have everything from a huge dome for yoga and meditation to a cottage industries building where they design, print and sell their own interfaith prayer flags.

Soon I was alone in the Maqbara, my home for the next two days. The shelter was minimal and lovely, all exposed wood, expansive windows and simple furnishings. There isn’t much to be distracted by- it sits up on the mountainside, high above the road and the rest of the buildings. The elevated position lends a sort of pure, isolated energy and the wind blowing around the walls is cleansing. I opened the windows to allow it to come through and move around me.

I came in not knowing exactly what my goals for this hermitage were. “Solitude, peace a communion with nature” I wrote on my information form, when asked about the purpose of my visit. Could I be more vague?

My immediate instinct was to make myself busy preparing my bed, putting away the food, and organizing my things. This urge made me realize that I had come for this hermitage in order to address and break the cycle of my habitual actions. I was looking for the pause- the feeling of what happens between the demands of everyday life. City life is so overstimulating, there is never a pause. There is the gym, then work, then the commute, errands, cooking dinner, etc. Then bed. And heaven forbid that every moment in between not be filled with Netflix or checking my phone. Sometimes I reach the end of my day and realize that I haven’t even looked at my wonderful husband, my partner, directly in the eyes. I’ve not given him my full attention for even a second.

That is tragic. That is not how I want to treat my beloved.

So, instead, I declined the urge and I sat down on the steps outside, looked up at the beautiful mountain and let my mind flow. I released my thoughts to wander as they may, and to quiet themselves.

My focus for the time began to hone in on recognizing my urges, acknowledging them, and processing them rather than immediately acting on them. When I began to feel hungry or thirsty, I let it linger a while and spent time really thinking about the delay of gratification. After allowing some time to pass I would prepare a simple meal, taking the time to enjoy the process of cooking and truly tasting the results of my efforts.

In my journal I scrawled, “Remember this feeling- standing at the tiny counter of the Maqbara, watching the sun set and cooking just fine on a 2 burner propane stove. So content.”

As the sun began to dip below the mountain ridge in the distance and the temperature dropped, I got up to start a fire in the wood stove and prepared candles on the windowsill, ready to light them when the sun vanished. There was something deeply satisfying about these simple acts.

My two days in the Maqbara passed in this way, full of intentional action, conscious pauses and a unique impression of time. I walked away a different woman, one who was both eager to return to the world with my newfound realizations but who also could have stayed in that tiny cabin forever.

If you are seeking solitude, a hermitage may be for you. My experience could not have been better (except to maybe have been a little longer) and I am so grateful for it.

Have you had a specific experience that was formative in your spiritual practice or personal development? I would love to hear about it!

Namaste,
KD

My hermitage read: Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho

Lifestyle

Timshel Reads: White Hot Truth

I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of the Launch Team for Danielle LaPorte’s newest book, White Hot Truth: Clarity for Keeping It Real on Your Spiritual Path from One Seeker to Another. I’ve been a devotee of Danielle’s work ever since I discovered The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul, so I was thrilled to be chosen for this group.

White Hot Truth is the perfect book for anyone who has felt exhausted, joyful,confused, manipulated, inspired and defeated on their spiritual path. Danielle gets raw and real about her own experiences and what she has learned, freeing the reader to examine their own journey without judgement.

The biggest thing I took away from this book, and from the discussions surrounding it, is that I am not alone in my occasional despair over my own spirituality. I’m not the only one who sometimes wonders if it’s all a waste of time. I’m not the only one who feels like a total hypocrite five times before breakfast. I’m not the only one who has feared the weight of family disappointment when choosing my own path. I’m not the only one…

I’m learning, slowly, to trust myself more sincerely. Danielle is the master of encouragement in this area, and I know that I will read this book many times over as I continue to grow.

Is there a specific book that has been heavily impactful on you? Have you been in contact with Danielle’s work in the past? I would love to hear your experiences!

Love and light,
KD

Travel

Travel Diaries: Santa Fe

Last week I packed up Ruby the Rubicon and took a solo road trip to New Mexico.

It was, in a word, awesome.

I love traveling with H and my family, but there’s something special about solo adventures that I cherish. Traveling alone sharpens my senses, strengthens my independence and gives me time to reconnect with my truest self. Plus it’s pretty great to be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want without having to meet the desires of a whole group or even just one other person.

My first destination was Santa Fe, which is one of the most unique cities I have visited so far. The buildings are a beautiful red adobe with incredible, colorful doors and strings of chile ristra hanging everywhere.

During my first day in Santa Fe I hit up all the touristy spots. I went to see the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, which was absolutely stunning inside and out. I walked through the shops in the center of town and visited both the Plaza and the Palace of Governors.

The number one thing I learned about buying souvenirs in Santa Fe is that, if you want something authentic, you are better off buying from the artisans in the Plaza or the native people who sell jewelry at the Palace. Many, many of the items available in the stores are imported from Mexico, and I even found a few things with “Made in Pakistan” stickers that had been partially scraped off. At the plaza I bought some beautiful tassels made by native women, and I loved the look of the ristra so much that I bought a string from a man who was making them on the side of the road. He gave me a better deal than I had seen at any of the stores in town, and I felt better about supporting a local artisan directly.

 

The second day was Easter, and many of the local businesses were closed. So, I started my morning with a beautiful hike at Chamisa, which was just a short 15 minute drive from the center of town. Then I walked down Palace St. to look at the beautiful homes. If you walk down Palace St. from the center of town, it eventually meets up with the renowned Canyon Rd, which is home to world famous art galleries and is truly a place worth visiting.

Things to know about Santa Fe:

  • It is an extremely walkable city, so wear comfortable shoes and prepare to explore on foot!
  • The food is expensive.  The cheapest options at even the more affordable restaurants I looked at hovered around $13, and nice restaurants can be much more. However, the food is excellent. So when you are looking at your budget for your visit, be prepared to devote more $$$ to food than you might in a different city.
  • Many local businesses observe Sunday as a day of rest, and are therefore closed.

My additional recommendations:

  • Sazón on Shelby St. was easily the most exquisite meal of my entire trip. I had a cocktail called the “Latin Lover,” which was topped with an edible orchid. The queso fundido was out of this world, and there was a special soup of the day with crab so good that I could have happily died swimming in a vat of it. It is one of the more expensive restaurants around, but the experience was worth every penny. Definitely make a reservation, or plan to eat in the intimate, well-decorated bar.
  • Kakawa Chocolate House on Paseo de Peralta had a wide variety of chocolate elixirs, truffles and bars. I tried their Rose Almond elixir, Chili elixir and Champagne Berry truffle. All 3 were incredible. Their hand-painted cup sets were so beautiful that I bought some to bring home, along with the Chili elixir mix. Kakawa has decent traffic in and out but it’s not loud, and it’s a place where you can linger over your treats without feeling like you need to rush out.
  • The Teahouse on Canyon Rd. is one of the more affordable restaurants in town. They have food available for breakfast, lunch and dinner in addition to excellent coffee/tea beverages and wine. Their Matcha Chai is incredible. I tried the roasted pears with pecorino toscana and truffle honey, which were an excellent complement to a glass of Fontanafredda Briccontondo Piemonte Barbera (the wine is as delicious as the name is long).
  • Cafe des Artistes on Canyon Rd. is the perfect place to stop for a snack while perusing the art galleries and sculpture gardens. Their Amaretto Cake is incredible, and they have a New Mexico Brut on the wine list that was crisp and refreshing.

Have you ever been to Santa Fe? Are there any other spots the rest of us should check out the next time we’re around? Share in the comments!

Happy Traveling!
KD

Lifestyle

Golden Milk

Golden Milk has been gaining popularity recently for its myriad health benefits and delicious, comforting taste. It can be enjoyed hot or cold depending on the weather and can be made with different milk and sweetener options depending on your personal preferences.

Golden Milk

2 cups Basic Almond Milk (or milk of your choice)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon organic maple syrup -or- honey -or- 2 pitted dates
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder -or- small piece of fresh ginger -or- 1 to 2 drops ginger essential oil
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch of black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender
Blend until smooth
Pour mixture into a small pan and heat to your preference, but do not boil!

Once your mixture is heated you may choose to drink it immediately or strain it through a cheesecloth into your mug. Either way this drink is both nutritious and delicious, straining it just removes the sediment so the last few sips won’t have any solids.

If all of the above seems like too much effort, you can also order this ready to use mix and add it to the milk of your choice. The same mix is also available to Thrive Market members for less (use this link for 15% off your first purchase).

I like to drink golden milk at the end of my eating window each day, right before I start my fast. This way I am loading my body with helpful nutrients, inflammation fighters and metabolism boosting compounds to assist my body while it cleans and heals itself.

Is golden milk a part of your life? Do you have a dynamite recipe we should try? Share your experience in the comments!

Happy Milking,
KD

Uncategorized

The Powerful Practice of Setting Intentions

Back in the “olden days” when I was in high school and college I used to set specific, highly structured goals at the beginning of each year. As January 1st drew nearer I would sit down and map out the next 12 months, creating a regimented plan of action that I would  stick to like glue. Since I graduated and committed to a life with H, my life has become much less predictable. In the 4 years since we made that commitment we have moved 5 times between 4 different cities and 2 states. Between the 2 of us we have had 7 different jobs and obtained 3 advanced degrees/certificates. It has been a crazy 4 years- we have shared more love, laughter and adventure than I ever thought possible. All in all I am overjoyed with the life we are making together, but my 12 month goal planning has gone out the window because I don’t even know what my life will look like in 12 months!

A few years ago I started to replace my old process with a new one of setting monthly intentions. These consist of bite-sized goals and general practices that could realistically be implemented in the few weeks ahead of me. I set intentions around the things that are most important to me- relationships, health, personal growth, service and ethical practice, to name a few. Some of my intentions are kept to myself, in a sort of sacred secrecy that both challenges me and allows me to be gentle with myself as I experiment with who I am becoming every day. Others are shared for the sake of accountability and exchanging intention with others.

For March:

  • Yama of focus: Satya (Truthfulness)
  • Niyama of focus: Tapas (Self-Discipline)
  • To Read: 1Q84
  • More: Drinking water, movement, writing, saying yes, conversation, reading
  • Less: Alcohol and caffeine, social media, sitting, looking at my phone
  • Relationships: Quality time and words of encouragement
  • Service: Seek out organizations who are contributing positively to the world and spreading love. Support them with donations and volunteering where possible.
  • Health: Find a combination of supplements I like and take them every day.
  • Learning: Listen to podcasts during commute and morning workouts.
  • Mindfulness: Get outside for 10 minutes of walking meditation at lunch.

Do you have your own process of setting intentions or creating goals? Share it with us!

With Love,
KD

Travel

Travel Diaries: Iceland

Iceland snuck up on me in a lot of ways, and boy am I glad it did!

A couple of years ago I was in a weird place. There was some funky stuff happening at my job and the dissatisfaction was seeping out from my “career box” to slowly infect other parts of my life. I was questioning my career path, itching for adventure and desperately needing to reconnect with my truest self. One night in the midst of all of this, I saw a post on Facebook that immediately peaked my interest. The poster’s name was Kym and she specializes in curating/leading small group trips around the world. I had been connected with her by a mutual friend who had traveled with her through the Balkans and had an amazing experience.

Kym’s post explained that she was organizing a group trip to Iceland in less than a month, and she was accepting applications for people who would like to join. As soon as I read it, I knew that I just had to go with her. There was no doubt, no fear about traveling to a new country with total strangers. I just had this bone-deep certainty that I needed to make this happen.

I applied and she accepted, we had a joyful and inspiring exchange of emails and a few short weeks later I found her in the Reykjavik airport. The week that followed was one of the best of my life thus far. We frolicked with Icelandic ponies, stood laughing in the freezing spray of waterfalls and marveled over the black sand beach at Vik. We swam in blue hot springs, screamed in unfettered joy at the Northern Lights and talked late into the evenings, all huddled together in the back of our camper van.

Part of the the beauty of Iceland is that you don’t need to go in with much of a plan. There is so much natural beauty to explore, you can easily just pull off the road when you spot something interesting and go check it out! The top 3 spots that I recommend are Vik, Stokksnes and Jokulsarlon.

Traveling by camper van is definitely the way to go if you ask me, it was great to spend the entire day exploring and just stop to sleep wherever we were when the sun went down instead of spending a ton of time driving back and forth to a hotel.

We spent a couple of nights in Reykjavik, where we had spicy noodle soup at Noodle Station (major yum!) and were thoroughly entertained by a row of bars and restaurants that all had American pop culture themes. My favorites were the Chuck Norris Grill and the Lebowski Bar (complete with bowling themed decor and of course the house drink… a White Russian). The Laundromat Cafe was also a great Reykjavik find, where you can do your laundry and drink at the same time!

Iceland changed me. It was the first time in many years that I have truly acknowledged and followed my instincts, and it was the beginning of finding my way back to myself. The string of decisions I made as a result of the strength and intuition I rediscovered on that trip have changed my life, our life, for the better.

You can get a glimpse of our experience below, and you can find Kym and her partner Eskil on Instagram at @kympham and @digernes.

Iceland by Camper Van from Kym and Eskil on Vimeo.

Have you ever taken a trip that left you completely changed? Share your experience in the comments!

Get out there and explore!
KD

Lifestyle

Yogi Tea

I was given this recipe during my yoga teacher training by a master teacher who has studied under Yogi Bhajan. It’s a healthy, delicious tea and if you include the black tea it can be a more beneficial alternative to coffee.

According to yogic science, the spices used possess the following properties:
Black Pepper- blood purifier
Cardamom- digestive aid
Cloves- beneficial to the nervous system
Cinnamon- strengthens bones
Ginger root- healing for colds and flu, increases energy, helps with nausea
Star Anise- antibacterial and antioxidant

I generally buy my spices in bulk at the grocery store, but you can also order most of them at a great discount if you join Thrive Market (use this link for 15% off your first purchase) or on Amazon, as linked below.

Yogi Tea by the cup:
10 oz boiling water
3 whole cloves
4 whole green cardamom pods, cracked
4 whole black peppercorns
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon loose black tea (optional)
2 slices fresh ginger root
Small piece of star anise (break one arm off of the “star”)
1/2 cup milk (whole grassfed milk, almond milk or coconut milk)
Organic maple syrup to sweeten as desired

Combine all spices in a mug and add boiling water. Let steep for 3-5 minutes, then strain (optional) and add milk & syrup as desired.

Yogi Tea by the pot:
12 cups water
2 tablespoons whole cloves
3 tablespoons whole green cardamom pods, cracked
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
3 whole cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons loose black tea (optional)
6 slices fresh ginger root
2 whole star anise
Milk and organic maple syrup to add to individual cups

Add water and spices to a large stock pot and bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for 2 hours. I make my tea this way and keep it on my stove all throughout the cold season. I boil it every day and just add water or more spices as needed.

If you want this tea on the go, these tea bags are a more portable option!

Enjoy!
KD

Lifestyle

Peppermint Cacao Coconut Balls

I recently attended a DoTerra demonstration where the consultant had made these amazing little chocolate coconut balls. They were so yummy, I had to get the recipe from her and try them for myself! I adjusted the recipe to suit my own preferences and maximize nutritional benefit.

1/2 cup almond meal or almond flour (I make my own! Instructions here.)
1/4 cup solid coconut oil
4 tablespoons raw maple syrup
1/2 cup cacao powder (I like the Thrive Market brand for quality and price- use this link for 15% off)
1 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 drops DoTerra or YoungLiving peppermint essential oil (I recommend only these two brands because I know they are safe to ingest- many brands available at health foods stores are for topical and aromatic use only)
Generous pinch of Himalayan salt

Reserve 1/2 of the shredded coconut for rolling the balls. Combine the other 1/2 and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and stir until combined. I find a fork to be helpful for breaking up the solid coconut oil. I would not recommend using a hand mixer, as it creates a consistency that is too gooey.

Once combined, form the dough into small balls and roll in the remaining shredded coconut. Place on a baking sheet and freeze for 15 minutes to harden. These tasty treats can be stored in your refrigerator for a week, or in your freezer for months! They’re rich and sweet- perfect for a sweet tooth attack without any harmful sugar or additives!

Enjoy!
KD

Lifestyle

Rose and Lavender Bath Soak

At the end of a long day there are very few things that are more relaxing than a hot bath with Epsom salt. Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate, which can be beneficial when absorbed through the skin. Its two most significant benefits are stress relief and soothing sore muscles.

I like to make my own Epsom salt soak using essential oils and dried flowers, especially when I have roses that I can dry and use. This salt soak can make a great gift, and the 4 oz jars linked below are perfect for that purpose! One jar = one bath.

 

Rose and Lavender Bath Soak
1/2 cup Epsom salt
20 drops Lavender essential oil
3 tablespoons roughly chopped dry rose petals
4oz glass jar

Mix the Epsom salt and Lavender oil in the jar and layer the rose petals on top. That’s all! Easy peasy. If you feel like getting creative, you can experiment with this by trying a bigger jar and layering in different salts, such as Himalayan salt or Dead Sea salt. You can also add a layer of dried lavender buds.

You can order dried rose petals as linked above, or you can dry your own! If you grow roses in your garden or receive some as a gift, it is easy to give your dying blooms new life by drying them and using them again. However, I would not recommend buying fresh roses specifically for this purpose, as it is more cost effective to buy the dried petals in bulk.

If you do have some fresh roses, keep an eye out for the point when they start to look a bit wilted and are no longer perky. At this point, trim the stem about 1/2 inch below the flower. Take a needle with thread and pierce each stem, stringing the roses on the thread. I like to double the thread to make sure it doesn’t break. Then, find a warm, dry place to hang your thread horizontally so the roses hang upside down. A dark place is ideal, but anywhere out of direct sunlight will do just fine. Leave the roses for 2 weeks, then check to make sure they are completely dry. Once your roses are dry you can remove the petals for use!

Happy soaking,
KD