Monday, May 20, 2013

Jumping In

Apologies for the long absence after my promise to be a dedicated blogger. In the last three weeks: (a) my boyfriend Brian almost died of heatstroke in a rural Vietnamese hospital after running in a 10k where the race company ran out of water halfway through, (b) we interviewed and accepted jobs at a school in Maputo, Mozambique, and (c) we got engaged and are planning a wedding for this December!

If you're gonna jump in, jump in ALL the way :-)

Lots of updates and recipes to come on delicious smoothies I've invented. But for for now I will give you the engagement story.

I am definitely not a morning person. Capitalizing on that, Brian decided it would be a fabulous idea to wake me up and propose to me on Monday morning. From what I remember, it was very special. Apparently, my answer was, "What??? Brian?!?!" He continued, "Is that a yes?" And I finally responded, "Of course!" Then I proceeded to administer two shots to his leg as part of his medical recovery. And here we are.

He used a pearl ring that my grandfather gave my grandmother in the 1940s when they lived in Japan. While I absolutely love this ring and it means the world to me, we will most likely switch it when we return to the US in July for a diamond ring from the same time period that belonged to his great aunt.

My family was already planning a Christmas trip to Puerto Vallarta, so we are thinking of piggy backing on that, inviting his family to join us, and whipping together an intimate ceremony. Yes, I recognize this is crazy to plan in seven months. BUT we are not going to be able to plan anything that is not a destination wedding while living in Africa. The beauty of this situation is that everything is planned via emails with wedding planners who are experienced in not having brides on site, and we show up to a fantastic party. I know it will be more work than that, but it seems like the easiest way to have a lovely experience with our families with minimal stress. I will certainly keep everyone posted as to how this evolves.

For now...I am tingling with excitement about being engaged and embarking on this new, African adventure with the best partner on the planet. <3 br="">

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Blender Bender

That's right, I'm on a bender! It's smoothies, smoothies, smoothies. I can't get enough. I'm throwing all kinds of weird stuff in there: spinach, cucumbers, mint, apples, mangoes, papaya, bananas, celery, lime juice, green tea, almond milk. I've got ginger, fennel, parsley and green beans just waiting for me to get even crazier. Slowly letting go of sweet fruit comforts and gearing up to try some savory concoctions.

I want to share recipes and pictures of my experiments, but will mostly share pre-blended ingredients rather than resulting drinks...because...well, the colors are not too appealing. Maybe I'll get better at appearances once I get the hang of the flavors, but I can assure you that they are delicious and give such a vitamin buzz when imbibed. And since I'm not doing a total deprivation detox here--just a slight lifestyle adjustment--I will be revealing a guilt-free watermelon martini recipe.

Before I get into ingredient combos, however, I will give some basic tips.

*Blending versus juicing. There are camps that advocate for one over the other. I am blending because I am not prepared to buy a juicer right now. I'm not to concerned about which is better nutritionally because they both are better than not having any fresh food at all.

*Best blender. Dedicated green smoothie bloggers swear by either the Blendtec or Vitamix brands of blenders. I wish either were available in Vietnam, but alas, I will have to wait until this summer to purchase one in the U.S. Future update to come on which I decide to buy and how deeply I fall in love with it. I'm currently using my Phillips blender, and it's working fine. I have only had problems with the motor when making cashew butter or almond milk, but it's still alive and spinning.

*Order of ingredients. For best preservation of the motor, it's best to blend liquid and softest ingredients first and then add firmer fruit and veggies one at a time. If the blades aren't catching, just jiggle the machine or add more liquid.

Don't be afraid to experiment! If the result is not so tasty, just hold your nose and rejoice in all the healthy things you are putting into your body

Apple, Celery, Cucumber, Watermelon, Aloe and Lime

1/2 C water
1 apple sliced
2 stalks celery
1 cucumber in chunks
watermelon (2 servings?)
juice of 2 limes
1-2 TBS aloe gel

 Aloe is a bit of a bitter taste, but it can be masked by sweet fruit. I don't mind it, but my boyfriend hates it. I keep a whole aloe leaf in the fridge and cut two inch chunks for smoothies. If you've never worked with the leaf before, just cut away the outside green part (never eat this or your intestines will be very unhappy!), then toss the clear gel into your blender. I keep the green scraps in refrigerated for a few days and rub the gooey side on acne spots, bug bites, and sunburns. Individual aloe leaves are super cheap and widely available in SE Asia, and I used to have a huge aloe plant in Virginia.

I've spent enough time fiddling with html as I try to make this blog pretty, so it's time for bed. But stay tuned for several more smoothie recipes tomorrow.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spring Healing

I love that my birthday falls in the spring. April is such a refreshing month of new beginnings. This year there was a full "pink" moon and a partial eclipse on the night of my birth, and I was definitely feeling all that intense energy. I dabble in New Age-y stuff and was directed to some interesting celestial commentary by beautifully tuned in yogi, Michelle Lloyd. I've been feeling stagnant lately and carrying some heavy emotions, so I was interested to read on Depali Desai's site: "The issues, emotions and things arising around the time of the Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse in Scorpio at 5° 46′ on April 25th, 2013 may feel highly “cause and effect” oriented. Deep, intense, powerful rush of emotions and swelling up of a core issue that requires healing is very likely."

And from Molly Hall: "Eclipses can sometimes be destabilizing in some way. But breaking apart could be the very thing that leads to true healing, inner treasure or solid footing."

Healing. Yes please!

But healing is not passive. It's spiritual, psychological, emotional, and physical. I'm approaching it from all angles. And I've got a plan. Detox, meditation, journaling, yoga, and exercise.

The Food Matters 7 Days in May Green Juice ChallengeFirst step - Detox. Whole food, fresh juices to replace breakfast, lunch, and snacks.Well-balanced dinners without meat but maybe a little seafood. Wheat-free, as usual. And dairy-free as much as possible. Motivation and juice recipes from Food Matters  Green Juice Challenge. There's tons of stuff out there about how to make green juices. More on that later :-)

 Second step - Meditation and journaling. Since I took some kundalini classes from the amazing Sharon Cassius at Atmanjai Detox Center in Thailand in February, I've been very interested in the power of pranayama and mantra. I just finished reading Healing Mantras by the late Thomas Ashley-Farrand and chose a specific mantra to begin my healing journey. More details to come, but I will say that after reciting it for even a few minutes, I am compelled to journal all kinds of issues and emotions that arise.

Third step - Yoga. I've been attending a wonderfully grounding yin practice with the incredibly intuitive Daphne Chua every Monday. What a way to start my week!

Fourth step - Exercise. This has been the hardest part for me. Working out was my life ever since I was a kid. Gymnastics and cheerleading took up all my free time and there was nothing else I would rather do. As an adult, I find the gym so boring. And without a competition to prepare for or a team relying on me, I struggle to stay committed. On top of that, lingering lower back, hip, and leg injuries always seem to get in the way. I met with a physical therapist and learned how to better stabilize my lower core and back muscles, but I'm on my own for rehab. I've been swimming, taking Zumba, and attempting some slow jogs, but not consistently. plus, I'm really missing the strength training element. I have an appointment today with a new boutique gym in my neighborhood, so hopefully something will come of that.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Meaningful Makeover

Rather than tell the novel that has evolved over the last year and a half, I will simply say that Saigon has been quite the adventure. While I still don't love it, there are many things about it that I definitely enjoy and many people within it who mean the world to me. Last year taught me a great deal about the strength of my heart, my endurance for challenge, and how to find the greatest gifts in the hardest times. There are still some bumps, as I now accept is to be expected, but they are much more manageable and in better perspective now that I have am feeling strong and supported.

The meaningful makeover I'd like to accomplish for this blog parallels that which I'd like to give myself. I want (it) to be more inviting. I want (it) to be more authentic. I want (it) to be more thoughtful. I want (it) to be more entertaining. I want (it) to be more well-rounded. I want (it) to be more attractive. And I want (it) to be easier to maintain.

So welcome back to my blog. I'd love for you to follow me and provide feedback as I give myself and my blog a meaningful makeover!