17 December 2014

A Tip for Lovers



I have a little tip for all you love birds.

You know how the night can slip away into nothingness? A.k.a web bull crap?

I think the absolute best thing you can do for your hotty partner and yourself is to slip away to bed just a WEE BIT EARLY. I mean, even thirty minutes will do it. To climb into bed together when NOT being a dead tired zombie is completely heavenly and luxurious. We're talking love and snuggles and hopefully taking each other's clothes off!!!!!!

 I say dishes, laundry, work and web browsing can wait.  :)

MK

16 December 2014

How to Get a Reduced Price For the Retreat


We've had a few inquiries regarding a discount for couples who attend the retreat. This time we were thinking we wouldn't be able to offer that.

HOWEVER - last night we decided to see if we could come up with a plan that would be helpful. Because I swear, I truly want to do anything possible to help someone make this happen.  So here's the plan...

We will offer a $300 discount for each person you are able to inspire to attend. It doesn't matter if it's a spouse, friend, sister, boyfriend, acquaintance, co-worker, Facebook friend, or reader of your own blog.

So if you bring two sisters, you get a $600 discount.
If you bring a spouse and another couple and one of your Facebook friends, you get a $1,200 discount. You could potentially come for free if you were able to encourage enough people to attend.

I hope this will make it possible for some to come.

If you have at least one other person lined up to attend, please do write us so we can arrange your discount.

Much Love, Mara

P.S. The photo above is in Cuenca, Ecuador. All over the city they have little knitting shops where women sell yarn and also hand knit things to sell. I'm obsessed! I'm constantly poking my head in the little shops to see the latest sweaters. 

15 December 2014

Christmas in New York - PART II

Tips for Christmas in NYC

Dear readers, we're back in NYC now!!!! All is good in the world. We're here with my sister and her 3 children and playing Aunt & Uncle until early January. We're doing laundry at the laundromat, washing dishes by hand, moving the car on no parking days, cooing with a newborn, grocery shopping at the Food Coop, and walking groceries and kids up the stairs to a cozy apartment on the third floor. And dear Danny is cooking meals for us all like crazy. It has been beyond wonderful to be here.

In honor of my favorite city in the world, here's a continuation of my very best tips for Christmas in New York. A few years ago I wrote a HUGE LIST of things and those are all still highly, highly recommended (including an Indian restaurant COVERED in Christmas lights, the best place to get tamales, and the most amazing live nativity on Christmas Eve.)  But here's PART TWO. I guess Christmas in New York truly is just that good.  :)

Secret Santa for Children in Need 

Our neighbors told us about The Henry Street Settlement in the Lower East Side. They provide a TON of services for families and children in need. At Christmas time, they have a list of children's names on their website and they have scanned letters that the children have written to Santa. You can choose one or several of the children and go shopping for them (apparently "Elite" Nike socks are what all the NYer kids want this year!!) Unfortunately at the time of this post, the gift drop off deadlines have passed (so next year!). Other options: Winter Wishes Santa program with NewYorkCares.org. New York Cares Coat Drive with NewYorkCares.org. Letters to Santa Program with the United States Post Office.


Handel's Messiah at Trinity Church on Wall Street

Listening to Handel's Messiah every year is a major tradition for me. There are MANY places to see it, but the performance at Trinity Church on Wall Street definitely stands out (the iconic NY location cannot be beat - have a listen here.) We will be going there this week- can't wait. And of course there is the performance by the NY Philharmonic at Lincoln Center. And also a festive, multi-faith Messiah Sing-A-Long at the Beth Elohim Synagogue in Park Slope. We just went there with Brooklyn friends and LOVED it.


Trinity Church Messiah



Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

We love to go to the New Year's Eve choir performance at the Brooklyn Tabernacle (usually they have performances at 7 pm and 10 pm, but do confirm). Trust me, you will ring in the new year like never before. We're talking a gospel sing-a-long with an entire room full of people with their hands in the air and praising Jesus. ha! The experience kinda blew us away and the singing seriously took the roof down. Be ready for the donation basket to be passed and for lots of people to give you high fives and hand shakes when you walk in the door. Brooklyn Tabernacle, 17 Smith Street. Get in line early as it fills up! 


Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir


Downtown Brooklyn Street Lights + Junior's Cheesecake

While in Brooklyn, don't miss seeing these awesome street lights that are fairly new and lining the streets of downtown. We are huge fans. If I was really on my holiday A-game I'd end this Christmas outing right at Junior's Cheesecake. They seriously have INCREDIBLE cheesecake - possibly the very best in New York. And they also have a matzo ball soup with H-U-G-E matzos. Have some of each for me!

Christmas lights in Brooklyn

Junior's Cheesecake


Soup Dumplings at Joe's Shanghai

This is the best kind of food to warm your soul on a cold day. Go to the location in Chinatown for the best experience. And make sure to have the waiter show you the proper way to eat a soup dumpling. Joe's Shanghai, 9 Pell Street, Chinatown



Sledding at Prospect Park

Some of New York's best sledding is at Prospect Park. The eastern side of the Lookout Hill is a great place to go (F Train to 15th St. Park entrance is at 15th St. and Prospect Park West.) I wrote a post about our sledding experience HERE. So, so, so fun!!!!

Sledding in Prospect Park


Chinese Banquet at Pacificana

We have some friends with Chinese heritage and they often celebrate holidays with Chinese banquets. So fun, right? So one year we all went out for a Chinese banquet after seeing the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights. It's really the PERFECT thing to do as the Brooklyn Chinatown (Sunset Park), is very close by. And Pacificana will not disappoint. Go with a huge crowd and eat family style, using the turn table in the center of the huge round dining tables. They even have red linens and fancy chandeliers to add to the ambiance. Pacificana- 813 55th St. @ 8th Ave., Sunset Park



Iceskating on Christmas Morning in Prospect Park 

Some friends I know have a tradition of going iceskating in NYC on Christmas morning...and we finally did it last year. It was delightful even in the very cold morning air and so worth bundling up for. Going earlier in the day is better, if you'd like to beat the crowds. Our friends go to Rockefeller, but we loved going to the Prospect Park rink for the almost hidden location, gorgeous view, beautifully designed rink, and a cheaper price. They recently redesigned the rink in a new area of Prospect Park called "Lakeside."
Iceskating at Prospect Park


The Nutcracker at BAM

Love, love, love the Nutcracker at BAM (in Brooklyn). The show is SO well done and the theater is not as huge, so you feel closer to the action. This year I took my niece and nephew to the show. My niece takes dance class nearby BAM, so she was especially excited. :)

BAM Nutcracker



TREES!

Yes, yes, yes. Fight the crowds and go see the Rockefeller Tree. It's glorious. Other fantastic trees: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Natural History Museum (origami!), Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, Bryant Park. These places have special tree lighting ceremonies with music, treats, singing. There is also a special tree lighting ceremony along Park Avenue each year (54th St. to 96th St.) I've always wanted to go! I think tree lighting nights are the perfect way to start off the season.



Store Windows + Saks 5th Avenue Light Show

While you're at Rockefeller Center, absolutely go see the store windows on 5th Avenue. They are delightful every year. Barney's (660 Madison) and Bergdorf Goodman (Fifth Ave. and 57th St.) usually have my favorite windows. And don't miss the magical light and music show on the front of Saks Fifth Avenue that plays every few minutes. It's usually so well done!! We love it.


Brooklyn Flea

The Brooklyn Flea is the North Pole of New York City where all the elves have the best kind of gifts: hand made or vintage. And keep in mind that the food vendors are not to be missed. Go with an empty stomach and sample delights from Brooklyn's best artisanal food makers. (I wrote more about Brooklyn Flea here.)



Sushi at Hatsuhana

Danny and I LOVE sushi but save the best sushi restaurants for special occasions or holidays. Hatsuhana is a favorite for a festive holiday dinner as they are STEPS from everything Christmasy in Midtown. Nothing tastes better on a cold night than some warming miso soup. Hatsuhana: 17 E. 48th St. btwn Madison & 5th Ave. (ask for a seat at the sushi bar!)





Chocolate Editions by Mary + Matt

This Brooklyn chocolate is straight from the elves who specialize in graphic design. :)  I adore their packaging (my friend, Abby, even frames it which is not a bad idea!) And the two chocolate makers are really delightful people. Where else can you get caramel flavored chocolate? See Chocolate Editions to see their awesome website and order on-line.


What did I miss?? I'm a complete sucker for this stuff.

Hope you have a MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

-Mara


12 December 2014

Big News: Dates Announced for Our Next Retreat in Ecuador!




Dearest Readers,

We have been busy behind the scenes and are beyond thrilled and humbled to be able to now officially announce our second Body + Soul Camp. This retreat is for anyone who wants to work on healing their body and their soul and wants to be supported and loved during the process. The last retreat went so well that we decided we couldn't not do it again.

The dates will so perfectly coincide with VALENTINE'S DAY (& President's Day) and we couldn't be happier about celebrating love in all it's forms with all of you. We happen to think that healing and happiness has a lot to do with love. :) I mean, just look at the name of this freaking blog. :)

The plans for this next retreat are blowing my mind. We have made some changes and I'm so pleased that everything is working out so perfectly. And, we have a surprise announcement...

For this retreat, we'll be hosting you in the ANDES MOUNTAINS of Ecuador! We couldn't help ourselves. This is our favorite area of Ecuador, so we felt we should change the location.



Important Information:

Dates: February 13 to February 19, 2015

Where: The hills above Otavalo, Ecuador

What: A Body + Soul Camp focused on...
-Learning ways to heal and thrive through vulnerability and love.
-Learning how to react in a better way to your trials.  
-Learning how to be the best kind of partner - now or in the future.
-Cleansing your body of bad habits & addictions to harmful foods (such as sugar, processed foods laden with chemicals, unhealthy fats, caffeine)
-Allowing space for your body to DETOX and operate the way it was meant to without energy being wasted on processing more damaging foods coming in. 
-Teaching you how to incorporate more WHOLE & LIVE foods into your life with vegetable meals, and raw juices. 
-Incorporating Yoga & Meditation as a way to strengthen and cleanse your body and heal your mind.
-Rejuvenating your body, your skin and countenance, your energy.

Who: YOU. All of you dear people, including both single and married individuals; women and men. This retreat is for those who would like some loving support in healing their lives and becoming the best version of themselves. 

Why: Because it would make a great Christmas gift or Valentine's gift for yourself. But really because this is your LIFE and it is worth it to make it the best dang life it can be. Time to take care of yourself. Time to recharge yourself for 2015. 

Setting: Green mountains, hills, and valleys that will take your breath away.

Property: Casa Mojanda, a GORGEOUS lodge & organic farm in the Andes (after staying there ourselves, it has become our new favorite place to stay in Ecuador).

Airport: Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport / UIO (Approximately 1 1/2 hours away from the retreat.)

Weather: Even though we'll be at 8,500 ft., the weather during the day will likely feel like spring &/or summer because we'll be right on the equator. Evenings will be a little cooler & cozy. Take THAT, February!

Price: $1,850/per person* (Includes accommodations, all food, tuition for all classes, therapies, massage, and retreat activities.) 

Sign Up: Register HERE to reserve your spot.

*Updated Addition: If you are able to inspire another person to attend, we would like to offer you a reduced price. See HERE for details.









The Retreat Activities (some are NEW!):

Multiple Classes with Danny & Mara on the Topics of
-Living a Life Motivated by Love
-Self Worth & Vulnerability
-The Language of Love
-Healing From Trials (applicable to all life circumstances including relationships)
-Choosing Happiness

We want to be your mentors in healing! We want to provide a space for you to heal. We want to help you succeed. We want to teach you every tool we have that can help you on your path.

Daily Oil Pulling Each Morning
Oil Pulling is extremely cleansing to your body and keeps your mouth healthy. This will be followed by a lemon juice cleanse, which alkalizes and cleanses the body.

Daily Meditation, Yoga, and Breathing Exercises with Alexandra, an Experienced Teacher 
Alexandra is extremely gifted, very inspiring, and a spiritual power house. I can't wait for you to meet her. These activities will be designed to CLEANSE and support your body, clear your mind, and bring energy and vibration to your body. You will experience greater strength, greater coordination, greater power, more peace, more clarity, more connection to your spirit, more connection with others, and more love.

Individual Walks with Danny & Mara to Taxopamba Waterfall 
Like the "Walks in the Park" we used to do in Brooklyn. Just with a waterfall. :)

Group Activities with Alexandra, a Trained Gestalt Psychologist/Ayurveda Educator
-Affirmation Therapy (A beautiful group exercise that will help you to begin to deeply believe in your beauty, worth, and potential.)
-Vulnerability Therapy (Here you get to actually practice vulnerability instead of reading about it. No, do not let that make your palms sweat. :) I promise that it is doable and an extremely meaningful experience for your soul that you won't forget.)
-Dance Therapy (It's so fun, I promise! Even if you suck at dancing, like me. :) You'll have the opportunity to let go, laugh deeply, and thrive in your own skin.)

A Class on Raw Foods & Detoxing with Tony, Our Experienced Raw Food Guide & Cleansing Consultant.
Learn about how to heal your body and change your life with FOOD.

Group Gatherings in a Yurt
I didn't know what a yurt was, either, but they are dwellings common in the mountains of Ecuador.

Detoxing/Healing Massage
We will have an amazing masseuse attending to us during the week. Makes me want a massage NOW just thinking about it.

Soaks in an Japanese Hot Tub
Outdoors and warmed by coals, with GORGEOUS Andean views all around.

A Bon Fire Night

Nightly Movies in the Movie Room (warmed by a fire)

And, more major additions...

Shopping at the Famous Otavalo Craft Market -Blankets, rugs, sweaters, woven bags, jewelry, baskets, ponchos, alpaca items, hammocks, hammock chairs, wood carvings, and soooo much more.

A Group Hike at Mojanda Lakes

A Textile & Craft Tour -A local guide we know will take us to the country's most esteemed local weavers; basket makers; instrument makers; and a nearby embroidery town. This was my mother-in-law's favorite experience in Ecuador during her recent visit. See the pictures below.

















Who is the Retreat For?

This event is designed for individuals. But, of course, doing individual work is the KEY to having a great relationship. So any marriage or relationship (now or in the future) will also benefit GREATLY from the classes and the entire healing experience. We welcome single men and women, married or dating couples, friends, and family members. All ages are welcome!

Also, don't feel you need to be living a healthy lifestyle, or be a certain weight, or be a pro at yoga to come to this. The food experience will be doable (and enjoyable!!) for anyone who wants to take care of their bodies. The yoga/meditation is designed to accommodate both brand new beginners and advanced students.

The retreat is for English speaking guests.




A New Plan for Food:

We are changing things slightly for this retreat. We will be eating raw food until dinner only

During this week of celebrating healthy eating and taking care of our bodies, you will receive extra support from Danny & I, the retreat staff, and all the people attending - so it won't be as hard as it would be in your own home or work place.

Breakfast will focus on detoxing with lemon water, green juice, green smoothies, and fruit throughout the morning.

Lunch will be detoxing as well with a filling and delicious RAW meal including soups, main dishes, salads, and side dishes. Raw brownies may be involved. :) [And don't think we're going to feed you carrot sticks! These raw meals truly are amazing.]

Dinner will feature some cooked vegetarian dishes by the chefs at the property. Their food is super flavorful, healthy, hearty, and delicious.

We decided to do raw food until dinner only because frankly, the Ecuadorian cooks at Casa Mojanda are INCREDIBLE!! We couldn't let you stay there without experiencing their food. The head chef used to work as a nanny for the owner and she worked her way up into the kitchen. She is self taught (which we couldn't believe) and now serves a wide repertoire of meals including Asian, Mexican, Indian, Ecuadorian. Everyday during our visit, we couldn't wait to see what she would prepare for us. The kitchen will happily (and deliciously) be able to cater to those with special dietary needs (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, etc.)

A large amount of the food will come from the organic garden on the property. Otherwise, the food will come from local farmers. The farmland in Ecuador is extremely fertile so you'll be eating the most abundant and mineral rich fruits and vegetables. The kitchen is immaculate and the staff is well skilled at preparing food for foreigners and Americans. Bottled water will be provided for you and will be used in all the cooking. Produce will be washed/disinfected for use.





Accommodations:

The rooms at Casa Mojanda are in little cottages and they are SO beautifully done, well kept, and comfortable. The owner has impeccable taste. Plan on comfortable white linens and towels, hacienda style rooms with thoughtful details, and an incredible art and Ecuadorian craft collection throughout the property that will make you ooh and ahh. Some rooms will be private. Some rooms will be shared with individual beds. We'll do our best to accommodate any needs. A fun note: The owner is a former Brooklynite and used to live in Brooklyn Heights on Orange Street!





















On Traveling Alone or With Someone:

Should you choose to come alone, you might think you would feel awkward and lonely spending a week in Ecuador. But I've got news for you...you will be surrounded by people who love you and honor you and want to be with you. Know that when readers of this blog get together, it is UNREAL every time. We are all kindred spirits. I cannot even describe to you what wonderful friendships await you. And even if you feel shy, the retreat is designed to bring people together so you will quite easily experience love and togetherness and friendships like you've never experienced before. It happens every time. You will feel connected to all the people there. So have no fear. Come alone if that is how things will work best on your end. Of course, absolutely come with your spouse, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a family member, or a friend if you'd like!! It would be an incredibly bonding and beautiful experience, one that will undoubtedly strengthen, enliven, and recharge your relationship while also allowing for individual growth and experiences as well.



Transportation, Flights, Timing:

The property is 59 miles from Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport and the drive and scenery is quite beautiful (you'll want to keep your eyes peeled for volcanoes in the distance.) We have wonderful and safe drivers who will be available to pick you up and take you straight away to the retreat, no matter what time of day you arrive. They will also return you to the airport at the end, unless you have other travel plans.

Start Time: The retreat will officially begin at dinner time (6 pm) on February 13 (you may arrive at the property any time that day.)
End Time: The retreat will end after lunch (at 1 pm) on February 19.

*Please note that your flight and ground transportation costs to the retreat are not included in the tuition price.



Safety:

Quito Airport is new, safe and modern. You should have no problem getting through the airport to our drivers. The property owners, guides, and drivers we have chosen are extremely professional, secure, and fluent in English and Spanish. Know that we feel confident you will be in good hands throughout the experience. Also, know that Ecuador is one of the top places to retire among American retirees due to the fact that the country is known to be safe and stable. The only note of caution: just like most cities throughout the world, pick pocketing is common. But with a little bit of extra awareness of your belongings in the airport and the Otavalo Market, you should be fine. Please write us if you have any concerns or questions.



Travel in Ecuador:

If you're feeling adventurous, see the end of this post for some recommendations for things to do before or after the retreat. Last time, a handful of people did do some additional traveling and I heard they had an amazing experience.



Register Now!

Space is limited for the retreat. There has been a LOT of interest in us doing a second retreat, so don't delay booking if you feel this would be a good fit for you. We would be SO thrilled to welcome you and feel confident that you'd have an experience of a lifetime. Click HERE to reserve your spot.

Do You Have More Questions?

We'd love to email with you, chat by phone, or Skype with you. Don't hesitate. Write us at mara@ablogaboutlove.com

Read More Info.

If you've read all this and would like to read even more, I've got it... :)
Danny & I hosted our first retreat in Ecuador last September. Read about it HERE & HERE.
We also attended a similar retreat ourselves last summer. Read about it HERE & HERE.

OK, now book this thing and let's have an amazing week together in Ecuador!!  :) :) 

Much love to all,

Mara
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