Tuesday, 11 November 2014


Until recently, I had a rather distinct distrust of any man with a beard.  What is he hiding under there?  Is he a spy working amidst covert operations for a secret foreign government agency?   How do you kiss a man with a beard?  Is the beard a particular style choice, or is he just lazy?  My father never had a beard – maybe that’s why I didn’t have a chance to bond with facial hair earlier. 

Since I moved to the Venice Beach area, however, beards have become an every-day part of my life.  Everyone here has a beard.  I think I might even like them on some guys.  I definitely have a massive crush on Chet Faker and his ginormous beard, so that could be it.  I just want to crawl inside and live there. 

So, a couple of Chet Faker numbers on the latest Power list.  I recently bought his latest album and have been playing it on constant repeat.  If my students mind, they haven’t said anything. 

Settle Down – Kimbra
Sleepyhead – Passion Pit
Pistol of Fire (Mark Ronson Remix) – Kings of Leon
Need Your Love – The Temper Trap
Recover – Chvrches
Train – Goldfrapp
Take My Hand – Dido
Cigarettes & Loneliness – Chet Faker
Youth – Daughter
Gold – Chet Faker
The Keeper – Bonobo
Exchange – Massive Attack
Goodan Daginn – Sigur Ros




Until recently, I had a rather distinct distrust of any man with a beard.  What is he hiding under there?  Is he a spy working amidst covert operations for a secret foreign government agency?   How do you kiss a man with a beard?  Is the beard a particular style choice, or is he just lazy?  My father never had a beard – maybe that’s why I didn’t have a chance to bond with facial hair earlier. 

Since I moved to the Venice Beach area, however, beards have become an every-day part of my life.  Everyone here has a beard.  I think I might even like them on some guys.  I definitely have a massive crush on Chet Faker and his ginormous beard, so that could be it.  I just want to crawl inside and live there. 

So, a couple of Chet Faker numbers on the latest Power list.  I recently bought his latest album and have been playing it on constant repeat.  If my students mind, they haven’t said anything. 

Settle Down – Kimbra
Sleepyhead – Passion Pit
Pistol of Fire (Mark Ronson Remix) – Kings of Leon
Need Your Love – The Temper Trap
Recover – Chvrches
Train – Goldfrapp
Take My Hand – Dido
Cigarettes & Loneliness – Chet Faker
Youth – Daughter
Gold – Chet Faker
The Keeper – Bonobo
Exchange – Massive Attack
Goodan Daginn – Sigur Ros



Saturday, 8 November 2014


I would like to state first off, before I begin my diatribe, that The Raw Juicery is a great local juice cleanse company here in LA.  I only have positive things to say about their products – the juice was great, the delivery friendly, and with a Gilt City deal, more affordable than any other cleanse I had been looking at.  So if you’re in LA and you like juice cleansing, I totally recommend them. 

I, however, was not born to juice cleanse. 

To start, I was completely, completely unprepared to start a juice cleanse.  During a late night online shopping session, I bit the bullet and ordered a cleanse from Raw Juicery.  I postponed the delivery, however, as a girlfriend would be staying with me for almost two weeks, Halloween was coming up and my birthday was fast approaching.  So I booked it for two days after my birthday….. and completely forgot about it.  Even when a girlfriend of mine was on her own juice cleanse at Halloween, and I was berating her for her craziness while stuffing Kit Kats into my mouth, the whole thing still slipped my mind. 

So come Wednesday morning, after a rather debauched night of excessive drinking and no sleep, I stumbled home at 6.30 am with every intent of just crawling into bed and staying there until I had to get up for work.  Come 7 am, a very chirpy young man called the intercom to announce the arrival of my juice box.  Bugger.  So I consider this massive box full of ice and 18 bottles of juice and figure this is probably the very best time to start a cleanse – after virtually a month of celebrations and drinking and chocolate and definitely not getting enough sleep. 

I should point out that I’ve probably never gone a day without food in my whole life.  Even when I’m sick I find a way to eat something.  I’m that girl you gift a bag of grapes when she’s ill.  I knew this whole just drinking juice thing was going to be a challenge. 

Day one actually went exceedingly well considering how tired I was.  I only worked in the morning and then was able to rest for the remainder of the day.  Come 6 pm I was feeling slightly nauseous and my neck hurt a little, but fresh air and a long walk around the Marina del Rey jetties fixed that.  I went to bed without feeling hungry at all and slept like the dead. 

Day two was truly horrendous.  They recommend that you don’t do any strenuous exercise on a juice cleanse, but when I got a call asking me to cover a hot power yoga class, I didn’t really have any choice but to suck it up and sweat through the pain.  Needless to say, having lost every ounce of water in my body teaching power yoga at 106 degrees, I felt pretty rotten the rest of the afternoon.  After my evening class, I came home, devoured both remaining bottles of almond milk I had left as part of the cleanse, and tried to satiate myself with a bowl of sugar snap peas (I figured a few harmless peas weren’t really breaking the cleanse!).  I went to bed early again, and proceeded to have the most horrific nightmares all night. 

By the third day I was totally over this s**t.  I drank the juice during the day as proscribed but promised myself that I would have a proper dinner at the end of the day – juice cleanse be damned!  I put the ingredients for a vegan chilli in the slow cooker and went to work for my final class of the day.  I came home to find my housemate also cooking for a friend of ours, a bottle of red wine already open on the kitchen counter.  He offered me some, and I drank two glasses, along with a large plate of chilli and brown rice and dahl.  I felt much, much better. 

I suppose the positives of this experience were that I didn’t touch any alcohol until the end of the third day, and I had no caffeine at all, which was good for me because I know I had been having too much of both recently.  It also encouraged me to think more carefully about how much I enjoy healthy options for food – I was desperately yearning for vegetables and fruit and brown rice and fish through the whole ordeal.  A cleanse is supposed to be a reset and I think that applies to the way you consider food too.  I guess I probably lost a few pounds but overall I generally felt miserable, sore and tired during the cleanse.  I had headaches all three days and I felt like a gremlin was dancing around my abdominal cavity for the larger part of the third day.  How do people do this for more than three days?! 

Meanwhile, I have returned to the joy of food.  No more juice cleanses for me.  At least I can say that I’ve tried it – and never really need to do so again.  


I would like to state first off, before I begin my diatribe, that The Raw Juicery is a great local juice cleanse company here in LA.  I only have positive things to say about their products – the juice was great, the delivery friendly, and with a Gilt City deal, more affordable than any other cleanse I had been looking at.  So if you’re in LA and you like juice cleansing, I totally recommend them. 

I, however, was not born to juice cleanse. 

To start, I was completely, completely unprepared to start a juice cleanse.  During a late night online shopping session, I bit the bullet and ordered a cleanse from Raw Juicery.  I postponed the delivery, however, as a girlfriend would be staying with me for almost two weeks, Halloween was coming up and my birthday was fast approaching.  So I booked it for two days after my birthday….. and completely forgot about it.  Even when a girlfriend of mine was on her own juice cleanse at Halloween, and I was berating her for her craziness while stuffing Kit Kats into my mouth, the whole thing still slipped my mind. 

So come Wednesday morning, after a rather debauched night of excessive drinking and no sleep, I stumbled home at 6.30 am with every intent of just crawling into bed and staying there until I had to get up for work.  Come 7 am, a very chirpy young man called the intercom to announce the arrival of my juice box.  Bugger.  So I consider this massive box full of ice and 18 bottles of juice and figure this is probably the very best time to start a cleanse – after virtually a month of celebrations and drinking and chocolate and definitely not getting enough sleep. 

I should point out that I’ve probably never gone a day without food in my whole life.  Even when I’m sick I find a way to eat something.  I’m that girl you gift a bag of grapes when she’s ill.  I knew this whole just drinking juice thing was going to be a challenge. 

Day one actually went exceedingly well considering how tired I was.  I only worked in the morning and then was able to rest for the remainder of the day.  Come 6 pm I was feeling slightly nauseous and my neck hurt a little, but fresh air and a long walk around the Marina del Rey jetties fixed that.  I went to bed without feeling hungry at all and slept like the dead. 

Day two was truly horrendous.  They recommend that you don’t do any strenuous exercise on a juice cleanse, but when I got a call asking me to cover a hot power yoga class, I didn’t really have any choice but to suck it up and sweat through the pain.  Needless to say, having lost every ounce of water in my body teaching power yoga at 106 degrees, I felt pretty rotten the rest of the afternoon.  After my evening class, I came home, devoured both remaining bottles of almond milk I had left as part of the cleanse, and tried to satiate myself with a bowl of sugar snap peas (I figured a few harmless peas weren’t really breaking the cleanse!).  I went to bed early again, and proceeded to have the most horrific nightmares all night. 

By the third day I was totally over this s**t.  I drank the juice during the day as proscribed but promised myself that I would have a proper dinner at the end of the day – juice cleanse be damned!  I put the ingredients for a vegan chilli in the slow cooker and went to work for my final class of the day.  I came home to find my housemate also cooking for a friend of ours, a bottle of red wine already open on the kitchen counter.  He offered me some, and I drank two glasses, along with a large plate of chilli and brown rice and dahl.  I felt much, much better. 

I suppose the positives of this experience were that I didn’t touch any alcohol until the end of the third day, and I had no caffeine at all, which was good for me because I know I had been having too much of both recently.  It also encouraged me to think more carefully about how much I enjoy healthy options for food – I was desperately yearning for vegetables and fruit and brown rice and fish through the whole ordeal.  A cleanse is supposed to be a reset and I think that applies to the way you consider food too.  I guess I probably lost a few pounds but overall I generally felt miserable, sore and tired during the cleanse.  I had headaches all three days and I felt like a gremlin was dancing around my abdominal cavity for the larger part of the third day.  How do people do this for more than three days?! 

Meanwhile, I have returned to the joy of food.  No more juice cleanses for me.  At least I can say that I’ve tried it – and never really need to do so again.  

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


Recently there were fears of a kale shortage.  Seriously, ten years ago who ever thought we'd be worrying about a kale shortage?  But it's suddenly so popular and a major seed distributor ran out of seeds and now everyone is clutching their kale to their panicked hearts (for fun you must read this post-apocalyptic kale shortage story from the New Yorker). 

I struggle a little with kale.  I don't like it cooked.  I don't like it juiced.  I've only prevailed with it thus far because everyone with a health-bee in their bonnet says I should.  I've grown to enjoy the odd kale salad though, depending on what you mix that tough old green stuff with.  My kale salad depends heavily on what's in the fridge but it always has one compulsory component - dates.  Dates make everything tasty.  Would I enjoy a kale salad without dates?  Maybe not, but I'll keep throwing them in there and feeling virtuous about my kale-eating proclivities.  Until it becomes too expensive to buy at the farmers' market and then I'll just go back to good old cos lettuce.  


Sweet and Savory Kale Salad 
Serves 1

A small sweet potato (about 150-200 g), half and sliced
A few handfuls of fresh kale, about 4-5 stalks, roughly chopped
4 dates, roughly chopped
Half an apple, roughly chopped
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
A handful of sugar snap peas, roughly chopped
2 tbsp of slivered almonds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp agave or honey

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F.  Toss the sweet potato in a little olive oil and season with salt.  Place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.  Toss sweet potato again and then bake for a further 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  
Toss the sweet potato, kale, dates, apple, tomatoes and sugar snap peas together in a bowl or on a serving plate.  Top with slivered almonds.  
For the dressing, mix together the oil, vinegar, mustard and agave.  Drizzle over the salad and toss to serve.  


Recently there were fears of a kale shortage.  Seriously, ten years ago who ever thought we'd be worrying about a kale shortage?  But it's suddenly so popular and a major seed distributor ran out of seeds and now everyone is clutching their kale to their panicked hearts (for fun you must read this post-apocalyptic kale shortage story from the New Yorker). 

I struggle a little with kale.  I don't like it cooked.  I don't like it juiced.  I've only prevailed with it thus far because everyone with a health-bee in their bonnet says I should.  I've grown to enjoy the odd kale salad though, depending on what you mix that tough old green stuff with.  My kale salad depends heavily on what's in the fridge but it always has one compulsory component - dates.  Dates make everything tasty.  Would I enjoy a kale salad without dates?  Maybe not, but I'll keep throwing them in there and feeling virtuous about my kale-eating proclivities.  Until it becomes too expensive to buy at the farmers' market and then I'll just go back to good old cos lettuce.  


Sweet and Savory Kale Salad 
Serves 1

A small sweet potato (about 150-200 g), half and sliced
A few handfuls of fresh kale, about 4-5 stalks, roughly chopped
4 dates, roughly chopped
Half an apple, roughly chopped
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
A handful of sugar snap peas, roughly chopped
2 tbsp of slivered almonds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp agave or honey

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F.  Toss the sweet potato in a little olive oil and season with salt.  Place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.  Toss sweet potato again and then bake for a further 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  
Toss the sweet potato, kale, dates, apple, tomatoes and sugar snap peas together in a bowl or on a serving plate.  Top with slivered almonds.  
For the dressing, mix together the oil, vinegar, mustard and agave.  Drizzle over the salad and toss to serve.  

Monday, 20 October 2014


A long time ago I wrote a post about selecting music for yoga classes.  I mentioned, and I quote, “Perhaps sexually explicit songs aren’t a good idea.  So, that pretty much rules out virtually anything by Kings of Leon, then.  Sad”.  I lied.  I’m a faithless, dirty liar.  I have a KOL song in virtually every playlist these days.  I don’t even follow the rules I set for myself, for heaven’s sake. This list is all about a bit of female power vocals though – Robyn, Ellie Goulding, Electric Youth, Haerts, Florence (you can never have to much of gorgeous Florence, right?!).  I messed around with this one again and again before I was happy with the mix. I’ve got it – I love it.

The River – Nitin Sawhney
Breezeblocks – alt-J
Bittersweet – Ellie Goulding
With Every Heartbeat – Robyn
Sweet Disposition – Temper Trap
Cosmic Love – Florence and the Machine
All the Days – Haerts
Love Is Just Another Way to Die – I Am Strikes
Real Hero – College feat. Electric Youth
Hunger of the Pine – alt-J
Cold Desert (Milo Remix) – Kings of Leon
Anthems of a Seventeen Year Old Girl – Broken Social Scene
Last Mile Home (Acoustic) – Kings of Leon
Green Arrow – Yo La Tengo

Normally I'd embed a player but SoundCloud currently HATES me and wont' let me embed despite the fact that I've enable public embedding accesss..... blah blah blah.  But you can find it at https://soundcloud.com/alison-skillen/sets/female-rebel



A long time ago I wrote a post about selecting music for yoga classes.  I mentioned, and I quote, “Perhaps sexually explicit songs aren’t a good idea.  So, that pretty much rules out virtually anything by Kings of Leon, then.  Sad”.  I lied.  I’m a faithless, dirty liar.  I have a KOL song in virtually every playlist these days.  I don’t even follow the rules I set for myself, for heaven’s sake. This list is all about a bit of female power vocals though – Robyn, Ellie Goulding, Electric Youth, Haerts, Florence (you can never have to much of gorgeous Florence, right?!).  I messed around with this one again and again before I was happy with the mix. I’ve got it – I love it.

The River – Nitin Sawhney
Breezeblocks – alt-J
Bittersweet – Ellie Goulding
With Every Heartbeat – Robyn
Sweet Disposition – Temper Trap
Cosmic Love – Florence and the Machine
All the Days – Haerts
Love Is Just Another Way to Die – I Am Strikes
Real Hero – College feat. Electric Youth
Hunger of the Pine – alt-J
Cold Desert (Milo Remix) – Kings of Leon
Anthems of a Seventeen Year Old Girl – Broken Social Scene
Last Mile Home (Acoustic) – Kings of Leon
Green Arrow – Yo La Tengo

Normally I'd embed a player but SoundCloud currently HATES me and wont' let me embed despite the fact that I've enable public embedding accesss..... blah blah blah.  But you can find it at https://soundcloud.com/alison-skillen/sets/female-rebel


Thursday, 9 October 2014


Oh Ali, why on earth would you expect anything more than a teabag in an American café?  They throw their tea into the harbor, after all.  During the fifteen minutes I waited for the waitress to finish setting up the café after opening time, I had a lot of time to decide between tea and coffee, and I eventually decided on tea.  It’s not that there’s anything wrong with tea bags really, but they’re messy and I always feel like I’m paying far too much them.  


While all this dilly-dalllying was going on, I was excited about ordering bircher muesli for the first time since I arrived in LA.  When I ordered, the waitress asked me if there was a bircher in the fridge.  I looked, there was.  She instructed me to take it.  She asked me if I would like a bowl.  Yes, I decided, it would be nice to have a bowl and enjoy the small luxuries of eating breakfast out.  She handed one to me so that I could spoon the muesli from its plastic cup into the bowl myself.  I may have smirked. 



Very basic and slightly lazy service aside, the muesli was yummy and their menus are actually really good.  Their selection of ready-made salads, pastries and cakes looked nice too, but if I was living in the area I’d probably be coming in for their long list of salads and sandwiches to order.   


It’s ridiculously overpriced for what is essentially a glorified deli, but in Silver Lake I’d say it’s one of your best options for quick and healthy food.  Also, it’s so rare that I see bircher on the menu that I would go back and snatch it out of the fridge again – but not until at least 15 minutes after opening time, just to make sure I don’t have to wait so long to be served.  


FoodLab on Urbanspoon


Oh Ali, why on earth would you expect anything more than a teabag in an American café?  They throw their tea into the harbor, after all.  During the fifteen minutes I waited for the waitress to finish setting up the café after opening time, I had a lot of time to decide between tea and coffee, and I eventually decided on tea.  It’s not that there’s anything wrong with tea bags really, but they’re messy and I always feel like I’m paying far too much them.  


While all this dilly-dalllying was going on, I was excited about ordering bircher muesli for the first time since I arrived in LA.  When I ordered, the waitress asked me if there was a bircher in the fridge.  I looked, there was.  She instructed me to take it.  She asked me if I would like a bowl.  Yes, I decided, it would be nice to have a bowl and enjoy the small luxuries of eating breakfast out.  She handed one to me so that I could spoon the muesli from its plastic cup into the bowl myself.  I may have smirked. 



Very basic and slightly lazy service aside, the muesli was yummy and their menus are actually really good.  Their selection of ready-made salads, pastries and cakes looked nice too, but if I was living in the area I’d probably be coming in for their long list of salads and sandwiches to order.   


It’s ridiculously overpriced for what is essentially a glorified deli, but in Silver Lake I’d say it’s one of your best options for quick and healthy food.  Also, it’s so rare that I see bircher on the menu that I would go back and snatch it out of the fridge again – but not until at least 15 minutes after opening time, just to make sure I don’t have to wait so long to be served.  


FoodLab on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 25 September 2014



Do Americans not use the expression ‘sickly sweet’?  Apparently not.  When I explained to the waitress at Rawvolution that my iced latte was too sickly sweet to drink, she looked strangely alarmed.  “Sickly sweet?  What does that mean?”  I explained that it was far too sweet.  I guessed at the time that was sweetened with Stevia which I loathe with a passion (I looked up the Longevity recipe later and realised that it was made with seven drops of the evil stuff) and couldn’t bear to drink it.  When she realised that I didn’t mean the coffee had made me want to puke, the waitress looked relieved and offered to take it off the bill. 



In a desperate attempt to be healthy, I had gone to Simply Raw in Santa Monica to find breakfast, only to discover that it was closed ‘until further notice’.  Rawvolution was the next best option and so traipsed back down Main to indulge in an Apple and AB sandwich. 



The only question I have is, how is anyone supposed to eat this without being completed saturated in syrup.  Picking it up with your hands is a messy adventure and you’re sure to get it all over yourself and the ipad you’re trying to read a book on.  Tackling it with a knife and fork is also a chore as the apple bread is not easily cut.  Delicious, but a very sticky, messy adventure.  


Euphoria Loves Rawvolution on Urbanspoon



Do Americans not use the expression ‘sickly sweet’?  Apparently not.  When I explained to the waitress at Rawvolution that my iced latte was too sickly sweet to drink, she looked strangely alarmed.  “Sickly sweet?  What does that mean?”  I explained that it was far too sweet.  I guessed at the time that was sweetened with Stevia which I loathe with a passion (I looked up the Longevity recipe later and realised that it was made with seven drops of the evil stuff) and couldn’t bear to drink it.  When she realised that I didn’t mean the coffee had made me want to puke, the waitress looked relieved and offered to take it off the bill. 



In a desperate attempt to be healthy, I had gone to Simply Raw in Santa Monica to find breakfast, only to discover that it was closed ‘until further notice’.  Rawvolution was the next best option and so traipsed back down Main to indulge in an Apple and AB sandwich. 



The only question I have is, how is anyone supposed to eat this without being completed saturated in syrup.  Picking it up with your hands is a messy adventure and you’re sure to get it all over yourself and the ipad you’re trying to read a book on.  Tackling it with a knife and fork is also a chore as the apple bread is not easily cut.  Delicious, but a very sticky, messy adventure.  


Euphoria Loves Rawvolution on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

(via)
Last week I attended the class of a colleague of mine and she told everyone that they should take a restorative class with me because my Australian accent makes the experience all the more relaxing.  Ha!  I’m not sure about that, as I try not to talk too much in a restorative or yin class, but I appreciated the compliment as such classes are not my natural forte.  I lean towards vinyasa and physically challenging classes in general because I have the attention span of a gnat, and I spend most of a restorative class reminding students that it’s a challenge to remain still, mostly for my own benefit rather than their own!   


A lot of yin and restorative classes I’ve been to over the years have included a soundtrack of repetitive bells, cymbals, sitar and chirping insect noises.  Over an hour of repetitive chimes and bells seems to generate a savage itch in my brain so I lean towards so rock, blues and folk for my restorative and yin classes.  A lot of this list is from a compilation made for me by a girlfriend who hoped it would help me sleep.  It didn’t really help me sleep, but with the lights low and a dozen yogis propped up on bolsters and blocks around the room, it does seem pretty relaxing to me.  


(via)
Last week I attended the class of a colleague of mine and she told everyone that they should take a restorative class with me because my Australian accent makes the experience all the more relaxing.  Ha!  I’m not sure about that, as I try not to talk too much in a restorative or yin class, but I appreciated the compliment as such classes are not my natural forte.  I lean towards vinyasa and physically challenging classes in general because I have the attention span of a gnat, and I spend most of a restorative class reminding students that it’s a challenge to remain still, mostly for my own benefit rather than their own!   


A lot of yin and restorative classes I’ve been to over the years have included a soundtrack of repetitive bells, cymbals, sitar and chirping insect noises.  Over an hour of repetitive chimes and bells seems to generate a savage itch in my brain so I lean towards so rock, blues and folk for my restorative and yin classes.  A lot of this list is from a compilation made for me by a girlfriend who hoped it would help me sleep.  It didn’t really help me sleep, but with the lights low and a dozen yogis propped up on bolsters and blocks around the room, it does seem pretty relaxing to me.  


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