Danja Lifestyle / December 2023 / Volume 1 Issue 3

Nostalgia is a beautifully balanced image of the past woven into the midst of joyful presence.

- Anonymous

Welcome to the Nostalgia edition of Danja Lifestyle, our monthly newsletter devoted to cultivating a living yoga practice both on and off the mat. The holiday season is finally upon us, and what better way to kick off the festivities than with our special December issue? We've gone all out to bring you an extra special edition, bursting with exciting extras that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit. From a relaxing meditation to delicious recipes, we've got everything you need to make this season one to remember. So sit back, relax, and let us take you on a merry ride through the memories and traditions that make this time of year so magical. Happy holidays from all of us at Lifestyle!

Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll find inside this month’s issue of Danja Lifestyle:

December 2023
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    Warmly,

    Daniel, Jake, Colleen, and the entire Danja Family of Teachers

    MINDFUL MEDITATION Winter-Ease Yoga Nidra & Meditation

    In this month's mindful meditation, Daniel Sernicola invites you to slow down and find ease and rest through a guided yoga nidra relaxation practice (trust us, it's deeply relaxing!) and a guided meditation. You can practice this at any point of your day that is convenient and accessible to you - preferably at time that is quiet when there is an opportunity for reflection and when you are less likely to be interrupted.

    POSTURE TIPS Dancer's Pose / Natarajasana

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    This month, you're invited to strengthen the body and mind through Dancer's Pose.

    Physical Benefits: 

    • Improves balance and focus
    • Can boost energy and fight fatigue
    • Can help build confidence and empowerment
    • Strengthens the feet, ankles, core, back, and arms
    • Opens the front of the body, the chest, abdomen, hip flexors and the shoulders

    Helpful Tips:

    • If balance is a challenge, try doing this pose against a wall
    • You can use a belt or strap to assist with the pose. Loop the belt around your left foot. Make sure the strap comes over your shoulder from the back. Then walk your hands down the belt, elbows pointing to the ceiling, hands behind the back, slowly lifting the foot

     

    RECIPE OF THE MONTH The Comfort and Joy of Our Favorite Dishes

    The holiday season is here and what better way to celebrate than with delicious food and festive treats! We're excited to share with you our bonus recipes for the month, including a savory Spaghetti with Peas and Pancetta dish that will make your taste buds dance with joy. Our Stuffing is moist and fluffy, and our Snowy Mashed Potatoes are the perfect side dish for any meal. End your meal on a sweet note with our delectable Eclair Cake, Seven Layer Bars, and Sugar Cookies that have become an internet sensation! Don't miss out on these mouth-watering recipes that are sure to impress your family and friends this holiday season. Happy cooking!

    Spaghetti with Peas & Pancetta

    Get your taste buds ready for a delicious treat! Daniel has modified this Tyler Florence recipe to bring you a mouth-watering main dish that is both easy and tasty. This comfort food classic is sure to impress your friends and family, and have them coming back for more. Try this dish and become the star of your next dinner party!

    INGREDIENTS:​​

    1/2 pound spaghetti

    extra virgin olive oil

    6 oz pancetta or thick cut bacon, diced

    1 onion, minced

    1 bay leaf

    1 c. sweet peas, frozen or fresh

    1 oz goat cheese

    1/2 c. fresh grated parmigiano-regiano

    1/4 c. fresh flat leaf parsley

    juice of 1 lemon

    fresh ground black pepper

    1/4 c. fresh basil, hand torn

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    METHOD:

    In a large stockpot, cook spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes, pasta should still be a little firm.

    At the same time, heat a 2-count drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta or bacon and stir. When fat starts to render, after about 3 minutes, add the onion and bay leaf. Cook and stir until the onion caramelizes, about 10 minutes. Now add the peas and cook for 2 minutes just to heat them through.

    Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the starchy water for the sauce. Fold the goat cheese into the hot pasta and give it a toss so it melts. Scrape the pancetta {bacon}, onions and peas into the pasta pot {toss out the bay leaf}. Add the parmigiano, parsley and lemon juice. Slowly pour in the reserved pasta water to dissolve the cheese and thin it out to a sauce consistency. Hit it with a healthy dose of olive oil and a few turns of fresh ground black pepper to give it bite. Return noodles to the pot and gently toss to coat in the sauce. Split the pasta between two large bowls and shower it with shredded basil.

    Classic Stuffing

    Looking for a delicious and easy-to-make stuffing recipe that will complement any meal? Look no further than Colleen's husband, Josh McFall's Classic Stuffing recipe! This recipe features a perfect blend of celery and onions cooked in butter, herbs, and seasonings. The mixture is then tossed with dried bread cubes and broth, topped with a bit more butter, and baked until hot and golden. The result is a mouth-watering stuffing that will be the perfect addition to any meal.

    INGREDIENTS:​​

    2 small yellow onions diced

    4 stalks celery diced

    2/3 cup butter

    1 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning OR 1/2 teaspoon ground sage

    black pepper

    salt to taste

    12 cups dry bread cubes

    2 - 4 cups chicken broth

    2 tablespoons fresh parsley

    1 tablespoon fresh herbs sage, thyme, and/or rosemary OR 1 teaspoon dry herbs

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    METHOD:

    Preheat over to 350° F.

    In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and poultry seasoning (and rosemary if using). Reduce the temperature to medium low and cook until tender - about 10 - 12 minutes. Cool slightly.

    In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, onion mixture, parsley, and fresh herbs.

    Pour 1 cup of broth overtop and toss the cubes. Add the remaining broth, a little bit at a time, until the cubes are moist (but not soggy) and gently toss. You may not need all of the broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Place the bread mixture in a baking dish, dot with additional butter if desired, and cover.

    Bake for 35 minutes, uncover and back an additional 10 minutes.

    Snowy Mashed Potatoes

    We all know that the holidays are all about family, friends, and food, and what better way to celebrate than with a dish that has been passed down for generations? Laura Boser-Kane's Grandma Kane's potatoes are the perfect addition to any holiday meal. With their crispy exterior and fluffy interior, these potatoes are sure to delight even the pickiest eaters. Plus, the recipe is so simple that anyone can make them!

    INGREDIENTS:​​

    6 medium potatoes

    4 oz soft cream cheese

    1/2 cup sour cream

    1 teaspoon salt

    pepper to taste

    1 clove crushed garlic

    2 tablespoons chopped chives

    1/4 teaspoon paprika

    1/2 teaspoon butter

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    METHOD:

    Cook potatoes in boiling, salted water - sbout 15 min. Drain then mash. Place in large bowl or mixer. Add cream cheese, sour cream , salt, pepper, garlic. Mix well. Stir in chives. Spoon into lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle paprika on top and dot with butter. Bake at 350° F for 30 minutes.

    Six-Layer Cookies

    Are you in the mood for a delicious and indulgent dessert? Look no further than Jake Hays' Six-Layer Cookies recipe! This delectable treat is a family recipe passed down from Jake's grandma Ayers, and it's sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

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    INGREDIENTS:​​

    1/4 pound butter

    1 cup graham cracker crumbs

    1 cup shredded coconut

    1 12 oz package semi sweet chocolate chips

    1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

    1 cup chopped nuts

    METHOD:

    Cook potatoes in boiling, salted water - sbout 15 min. Drain then mash. Place in large bowl or mixer. Add cream cheese, sour cream , salt, pepper, garlic. Mix well. Stir in chives. Spoon into lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle paprika on top and dot with butter. Bake at 350° F for 30 minutes.

    Grandma Clark's Eclair Cake

    Are you looking for a dessert that will leave your loved ones begging for more? Look no further than Edwin Clark's Eclair Cake from Grandma Clark! With layers of graham crackers, creamy vanilla pudding, and rich chocolate, this dessert is sure to satisfy any sweet craving!

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    INGREDIENTS:​​

    2 regular size packages French Vanilla Instant Pudding

    9 oz container of Cool Whip

    1 Box of graham crackers

    1 can ready-to-spread chocolate frosting

    METHOD:

    Layer graham crackers along the bottom of a baking dish, breaking the crackers to fit if needed. Pour a layer of pudding over the graham crackers, about 1/2 to 1 inch thick. Then layer graham crackers on top of the pudding and continue the process. Graham crackers, pudding, graham crackers, pudding and so on. When you get to the last layer cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight so the pudding becomes nice and firm for slicing.

    To serve, add a layer of whipped topping on top and sprinkle with crumbled graham crackers or vanilla cookies.

    Pot de Creme

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    This recipe comes to us from Lynn McKeown. It's the perfect finale to a decadent dinner and the best part is how surprisingly easy it is to make!

    INGREDIENTS:​​

    9 oz semisweet chocolate

    1 1/2 cup whole milk

    1 cup heavy cream

    6 egg yolks

    5 Tablespoons sugar

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    METHOD:

    Chop chocolate in blender. Put all other ingredients in a small sauce pan. Use a rubber spatula to stir constantly. When edges begin to bubble, pour in blender over chopped chocolate. Process until smooth. Chill at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve with whipped cream.

    The BEST Sugar Cookie EVER!

    We are excited to share with you a legendary recipe that has been enjoyed by millions of people worldwide - Katrina Smith Bahl's Sugar Cookie Recipe. Katrina, a dear friend of ours, developed this recipe over 25 years ago and shared it on her food blog, inkatrinaskitchen.com, which quickly went viral. The secret to its popularity lies in the perfect balance of sweetness and texture that makes these cookies simply irresistible. 

    What makes this recipe even more special is the personal connection between Katrina and our team. She and our founder, Daniel, have been friends since elementary school and were even in show choir together in high school. So not only is this recipe tried and true, but it also comes with a heartwarming backstory. 

    INGREDIENTS:​​

    1 cup granulated white sugar

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1/2 teaspoon almond extract

    1 egg

    2 teaspoons baking powder

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    3 cups all purpose flour

     

    Be sure to check out Katrina's delicious Christmas Cookie Frosting to add the finishing touches to these delightful cookies.

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    METHOD:

    Preheat oven to 350° F.

    In the bowl of your mixer, Cream butter and sugar until smooth, at least 3 minutes. Beat in extracts and egg. (PLEASE NOTE there is 1 egg in this recipe.)

    In a separate bowl, Combine baking powder and salt with flour and add a little at a time to the wet ingredients.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: If the dough looks crumbly keep mixing for 30 seconds to 1 minute longer. The dough should be pulling away from the sides of the mixer.

    If the dough still looks too dry or stiff for your mixer, turn out the dough onto a countertop surface, flour surface as needed. Wet your hands and finish off kneading the dough by hand.

    DO NOT CHILL THE DOUGH. Divide into workable batches (2-3 chunks), roll out onto a floured surface, and cut. You want these cookies to be on the thicker side (closer to 1/4 inch rather than 1/8).

    Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack.

    The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe EVER comes from inkatrinaskitchen.com. Used with permission.

     

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    Left: Katrina is pictured in the first row, fourth from left. Can you spot Daniel in the top row? This photo was taken in 1997.

    PLANT OF THE MONTH Jade (Crassula ovata)

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    If you're looking for a low-maintenance plant that adds a touch of green to your home, a Jade Plant is a perfect choice! With its thick, glossy leaves and easy-to-care-for nature, it's no wonder that it's a popular indoor plant. To keep your Jade Plant thriving, make sure to plant it in well-draining soil and place it in a bright window that receives indirect light. Remember to water it frequently during the spring and summer, but reduce watering to once a month in the winter. And don't forget to use a 20-20-20 fertilizer during the growing season to promote healthy growth. With these simple steps, you'll have a beautiful and flourishing Jade Plant in no time!

    INSIDE DANJA Animals & Dinosaurs Everywhere!

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    Left: Restored composition elephants from Daniel's collection.

    At Danja Yoga, we're not just about yoga poses and breathing exercises - we're also about creating a community that feels like a second home. That's why we decorated Studio A with zoo animals and Studio B with dinosaurs! These beloved toy figures have become a meaningful part of the Danja community, providing a unique and playful touch to our space.

    But why did we choose zoo animals and dinosaurs specifically? It all goes back to the minds of our co-creators and founders, Daniel and Jake. As a child, Daniel loved playing with toy figures of zoo and farm animals, and even insisted on having his favorite animals on top of his birthday cake each year. Now, as an adult, he collects and restores these toy animal figures. Jake, on the other hand, began collecting plastic dinosaur figures at a young age and has continued his love for these extinct creatures into adulthood.

    So, the zoo animals and dinosaurs in our studios are not just for decoration - they represent the passions and childhood memories of our founders. And who knows, maybe during your next yoga class, you'll use an Elephant or Giraffe as a drishti point to help you focus during a balance pose, or catch a glimpse of a Tyrannosaurus Rex while easing into a restorative pose. Whatever the case, we hope you enjoy our conn ection to nature and bringing the outdoors in.

    WHAT WE'RE READING The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele

    "When we run from life, try to manage life, or leave our energy scattered here and there, we feel differently than when our whole self shows up with our thoughts, words, and actions congruent and unified. When we are centered in the moment, we can fully meet the ordinariness of life as well as the challenges of life."

    If you have taken yoga classes and want to delve deeper into the philosophy behind it, The Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele is the book for you. As an experienced yoga teacher and life coach, Adele provides a comprehensive guide to the first two paths of yoga - Yamas and Niyamas. In her book, she explains the meaning of Yamas and Niyamas and gives each one a dedicated chapter, complete with real-life stories and yogic quotes. Adele also suggests a focus of practice and encourages journaling for four weeks on four different aspects of each chapter. With its accessible and engaging style, The Yamas and Niyamas is an essential read for anyone interested in the ethical practice of yoga.

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    DANJA COMMUNITY Meet Vance Stewart

    We are thrilled to introduce Vance Stewart, a longtime member of our Danja Yoga community. Vance is a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and has won numerous state and regional titles for poomsae and sparring. He even won a silver medal in the junior Olympics for sparring in Tae Kwon Do. But that's not all; Vance is also a passionate gardener, a talented artist, a devoted volunteer, and an avid traveler. He has even made over 10 different soups this season! Vance's next goal is to learn how to make Kimchi, and his favorite plants are blueberry bushes and American Trumpet Pitcher Plants. Vance also has family in France, where they reside in Forge-Les-EauxNormandy. Despite being raised in central Ohio, Vance is a Michigan fan, Go Blue! We are delighted to have Vance as a part of our community, and we hope you'll say hello next time you see him in the studio.

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    MONTHLY MUSINGS Our Favorite Holiday Memories

    As a child, I couldn't wait to go to my Nana and Nanu's on Christmas Eve for our traditional Italian Feast. Dinner was followed up with opening of presents and of course, lots and lots of homemade Italian cookies!

    I was fascinated with my Nana's holiday decorations and loved rearranging her presepe or Italian Nativity scene.

    The highlight of the night was when firetrucks came around my grandparent's neighborhood and handed gifts to all the kids. The night would usually end with my Nana sharing Italian candy called Torrone that my Nanu gifted her. After he passed, I continued the tradition and made sure she had a box of this candy every Christmas. Years later, I give the candy to those dear to me each holiday.

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    When I was growing up, there was a period of time where many members of my large extended family lived in the same area. This meant that holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas were always fun and exciting as all of us would gather to eat and celebrate the holiday together.

    Christmas Eve nights would be the height of excitement where everyone would gather at my Aunt and Uncle’s house. Their home would be filled with the aroma of an amazing dinner (coffee afterwards!) and the sound of laughter from every room with everyone recalling funny stories of previous times spent together. I’d snuggle next to my Grandma listening to everyone’s stories. Many I’d hear year after year, but each time they were told, it was like hearing them for the first time due to the excitement and laughter from everyone involved.

    After we’d leave that night, my Dad would drive us home with all of our gifts and goodies in tote. My Dad, Mom, sister and I would ride home mostly in silence with only the sounds of Christmas classics from artists like Andy Williams and Bing Crosby playing lightly from the radio in the background. I’d look at the passing houses lined with Christmas lights feeling so full (socially and physically!). Letting the excitement of the evening soak in and knowing the next day would be full of surprises from Santa and visits from the rest of the family, however, in these moments everything would feel fully whole making these some of the best holiday memories.

    Colleen O'Brien McFall

    CSimply put, I LOVE CHRISTMAS! One of my favorite Christmas memories that always stands out for me is the memory of my younger brother Andrew on Christmas morning. He was always the first to wake up. He would pop out of bed, run as fast as he could down the hall, across the kitchen, then down the stairs to the rec room where all our Santa presents would be waiting for us on Christmas morning. As soon as he’d lay eyes on what Santa had brought, he’d turn around and run twice as fast back up the stairs, through the kitchen, across the hall and burst into my room, bouncing up and down and hollering “Santa was here! Santa was here! Get up! Get up! Come see! HURRY!!!”. I’ve never been an early riser and getting out of bed has always been a chore for me but the excitement and the overwhelming joy from my brother was all I needed to wake from my slumber. His excitement was contagious and before I knew it, I was racing behind him to see what Santa had brought us that year. Eventually the chaos of us running through the house and squealing with anticipation woke the rest of the house. Shortly thereafter my older sister and brother, along with my parents, would trickle downstairs to join Andrew and I. Thinking back on this time, I don’t remember the specifics of the gifts or toys but I will always remember the excitement, the exuberance, the joyful chaos and the love of my family.

    Fast forward to today, my husband and I have created our own Christmas tradition with our fur family. It’s a little different in that we allow ourselves to sleep in, my husband wakes me slowly with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, we make our way slowly downstairs to the Christmas tree, but when we arrive, we encourage the chaos, the excitement, and the joy to begin all over again!

    Here's a video of Christmas morning at the McFall house!

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    Edwin Clark

    When I was growing up, there was a period of time where many members of my large extended family lived in the same area. This meant that holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas were always fun and exciting as all of us would gather to eat and celebrate the holiday together.

    Christmas Eve nights would be the height of excitement where everyone would gather at my Aunt and Uncle’s house. Their home would be filled with the aroma of an amazing dinner (coffee afterwards!) and the sound of laughter from every room with everyone recalling funny stories of previous times spent together. I’d snuggle next to my Grandma listening to everyone’s stories. Many I’d hear year after year, but each time they were told, it was like hearing them for the first time due to the excitement and laughter from everyone involved.

    After we’d leave that night, my Dad would drive us home with all of our gifts and goodies in tote. My Dad, Mom, sister and I would ride home mostly in silence with only the sounds of Christmas classics from artists like Andy Williams and Bing Crosby playing lightly from the radio in the background. I’d look at the passing houses lined with Christmas lights feeling so full (socially and physically!). Letting the excitement of the evening soak in and knowing the next day would be full of surprises from Santa and visits from the rest of the family, however, in these moments everything would feel fully whole making these some of the best holiday memories.

    We hope you've enjoyed this edition of Danja Lifestyle. If you have feedback or question, please email us at info@danjayoga.com. Look for our January edition on January 15.

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