Monday, August 19, 2013

Watermelon, Feta & Mint Salad

This is the ultimate summer salad. It would be perfect to bring to a post-beach BBQ or picnic, and its my new go-to for any leftover watermelon. The saltiness of the feta complements the sweetness of the watermelon so well. Since it is so simple, the key is to use high quality ingredients, particularly for the feta and olive oil. You can try different combinations by adding spinach, arugula, cucumbers or slivered almonds.  Enjoy!

Watermelon, Feta & Mint Salad
1/4 watermelon
4 oz. crumbled feta (my pick: pastures of eden from trader joes)
6 sprigs fresh mint
Good quality extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper, to taste

Cut watermelon into cubes and add to a bowl. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic over the melon, then crumble feta on top. Tear or chop mint and add to the bowl. Sprinkle sea salt & pepper, and mix until combined.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Green Smoothie

Ever since we got our vitamix, husband and I have become slightly obsessed with our morning smoothies. So much so that  I’m actually starting to believe that husband is secretly a Vitamix salesman. (But truly, if you're on the fence about getting a good blender, do it. It's worth the investment.)

We’ve been experimenting with all sorts of recipes and combinations, and my go-to is the green smoothie. Green smoothies can be intimidating, but I promise, they don’t taste like greens. Or dirt. With the right proportions, they're sweet and delicious. If it weren't for the color, you wouldn't know you are drinking spinach.

So, here it is. The pretty-much-perfect green smoothie:

  • 8 oz. Coconut Water
  • 1 Scoop Protein Powder (my protein powder of choice)
  • 2 handfuls spinach or 1 handful kale
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds or 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • Small handful of almonds
  • 1 ripe or frozen banana
  • ½ cup frozen mango
  • A few ice cubes

Add the liquid first, then the powders, then the greens, then the banana & mango. The trick is to put the most solid items on top, to push down the other ingredients so it blends evenly. You certainly don't need a Vitamix to make this, but you do want a blender that can really pulverize those greens.

If its not quite right, here are some tips:

  • Add more fruit if its too watery. 
  • Add more coconut water if its too thick.
  • If you like it a little sweeter, add honey or an apple.
  • If you like it creamier, you can add some avocado or greek yogurt.

Once you’ve got it down, start experimenting with other ingredients - just maybe not papaya. Kale and papaya might taste a little bit like dirt.

If you get obsessed too, you can check out more smoothie inspiration on my Pinterest board. Enjoy!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Walking With Giants

When we were planning our trip to Thailand, I couldn’t stop talking about elephants. Who isn’t fascinated by elephants? They are majestic and beautiful in a strange and prehistoric way. And you get to ride them in Thailand. My inner five year old was freaking out.

As I started doing research, I learned that the process of domesticating elephants for work and tourism is inhumane. The parks had mixed reviews, and some travelers were disturbed while riding the elephants, as the mahouts were brutally jabbing them with sharp hooks to get them to perform.

I just knew we just couldn’t support those places with our time and money. Luckily, I found the Elephant Nature Park and booked it immediately.

The center is beautiful and inspiring. Their founder, Lek, is a Thai woman on a mission to rescue abused elephants and to educate her country about humane training methods. She’s now has rescued 35 elephants and 400 dogs. (I’m not kidding. Four hundred. Animal Hoarders would have a field day.)

All of the elephants have disturbing stories and scars: some had broken legs from being forced to beg in the streets of Bangkok, others had mangled feet from stepping on mines while logging in Burma, and several were blinded from being forced to work.

At the center, they are rehabilitated in their natural habitat, and you can visit for a day or stay up to two weeks. We opted for the day, and learned how to be a mahout, which involved feeding them, hanging with them, and bathing them in the river. It’s hard to describe in words what it was like to interact with these guys up close. It was exhilarating, and a little terrifying, and nothing short of incredible.

No riding elephants, but I couldn’t have asked for anything more. If you're interested, you can support the park here.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Guest Post: For the Love of Yoga

Friends, meet Krista, my guest blogger for today. Krista has worked with me at Invisible Children for the past year and a half, and we quickly adopted each other as sisters. She is one of the wittiest people I know, and shares a love for reading, cooking, writing, and yoga. Plus, she's a mom and an all-around badass. Enjoy & check out her blog at

This isn't me. But it could be in 2 years time. Gotta have goals, people.

Namaste. Savasana. Pranayama. 
Gibberish, right? Yes. Unless you're a Yogi. Which I think I have become.

First things first, it's (apparently) a known fact that exercise positively contributes to your overall health and wellness. Well, I don't like to exercise. There was a time where I took up running, and there was also a time where I purchased a Jazzercise DVD and did it twice. I'll be honest and say I tend to not stick with things, and I would prefer the fat to just fall off my body while sitting on the couch. A bonus would be if I could just sweat out all my impurities while sitting in a lounge chair next to the pool instead of a hot yoga studio. 

Well dear reader, I am a changed woman. Because I now practice yoga. I bought a mat and everything.

Recommended by a friend (who has been at it for four months and has effectively transformed her body), I decided to try it. First class? I hated it. It was too hard, too hot, I thought I was dying, and I'm pretty sure I saw Jesus. Pick yourself up and try again, as my mother always says before I punch her in the face. So two days later I went back. Easier class (intro beginner amateur hour), little less hot, little more stamina. I started slow, and began trying all the different classes, sweating my way through my lovehandle reserve of beer, and carbs, and artificial sweetener. 

A co-worker of mine goes to Yoga for the purpose of centering herself, relaxing, and getting in touch with her heart & brain & feelings. While all of those are certainly valid reasons, that is not why I go to Yoga. I attend for the sole vain purpose of getting so in shape that people stop me on the street to ask me what the heck I've been doing to look so fantastic. That hasn't happened yet, but I really feel like it could happen soon (sidenote: I can usually be found walking near my work in Barrio Logan around noon M-F.)

Case in point: you should try Yoga. You never knew your legs could bend that way, or that you could sweat so much without passing out. You'll feel stronger, and more flexible, and you'll reduce your jiggles (you know the ones.) And just in case I haven't successfully swayed you to sign up for a free week, here is a shortened list of the benefits of Yoga:

Decreases: blood pressure, respiratory rate, and hostility.
Increases: energy levels, joint range of motion, and the chances your thin jeans will fit.
Improves: posture, concentration, and the chances your thin jeans will fit. 
My final push for you to do everything I do - Yoga is actually fun. After you leave the class and go outside and breath air that doesn't feel like it's coming out of a humidifier, you feel awesome. And thin. And liberated. 

Join me, won't you? I'll be the one grunting in the corner. 


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bali Packing List

Husband & I are currently exploring Thailand and we're off to Bali tomorrow for some serious R&R. I've always been fascinated with Bali, and I can't wait to visit. My parents vacationed there when I was 11 months old and its actually a pretty incredible story. They were 30-something somewhat-newlyweds, living in Colorado with a house and a new baby (#yourstruly) and great jobs and all the skiing they could ever want, but they had a strong desire to live in and travel around South East Asia. My dad put in for a transfer, they sold their house, and moved to Malaysia... with a baby. I've always admired them for it, but now I'm approaching my 30s, I'm beginning to understand their  adventurous spirit and courage in choosing life experiences over comfort and security. Its a piece of my family history that I treasure, and I like to think its where my love for travel was born.

I've always wished I could remember living in Malaysia and traveling to Bali with them. While this trip is nothing like moving my entire life, I'm still beyond excited to go and make new memories. And of course, blog the heck out of it to share with all of you.

With that, these are my packing essentials for Bali (and really, any summer trip):

  • Tiny, Beautiful Things: A collection of advice columns from the online columnist Dear Sugar. My dear friend Lindsay recommended this book to me & I'm devouring it. Its beautiful, honest, heartfelt and inspiring.
  • Life's Operating Manual: Tom Shadyac's book, structured as a dialogue between Truth and Fear, is so packed with wisdom that I'm reading it again. Its an incredible conversation starter and I'm looking forward to discussing it with husband over long dinners in Bali's jungles & beaches.
  • Farm City: My thoughtful friend Amy gave me this book about a year ago. I'm a little ashamed its taken me this long to start it, but I can't wait to not be able to put it down.
  • My nifty fifty lens to try to capture some of the best moments, a head lamp packed by husband for night adventuring, and of course, our tickets.
  • Sunscreen & a floppy straw hat: to practice safe sun exposure, because I plan on getting a lot of sun.
  • Warby sunglasses: I'll defer my love for Warby to another time, but check them out. They're stylish and cost effective.
  • My most lightweight lululemon yoga pants (similar): I can't wait to wear these while doing my sun salutations at The Yoga Barn.
  • Cute tote: that's easy to pack, great for day trips, and has a sweet message (hold on to something good & don't let go).
And of course I had to do a tiny bit of shopping before the trip. My best finds were:
  • A new JCrew suit: in this adorable floral pattern. I die.
  • These perfect summer sandals: from Hallelu.

What are you planning for your summer adventures, and what's on your must-pack list?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Best of Pinterest: Spring Recipes

It's (un)officially summer in San Diego! As a so-cal girl through and through, I'm loving the warm weather, the long days, and the spring & summer produce in our CSA. Asparagus, artichokes, avocados, blood oranges, blueberries, fennel, peaches, strawberries. Honestly, it doesn't get much better.

I've been inspired to make Spring recipes that I've been pinning all year, and these are first up on my list. What are your favorite spring & summer recipes?

Sources & Recipes: 1,  2,  3,  4,  5, 67, 8

Monday, May 20, 2013

Get Moving

We’ve all been there: the rut. The point when you’ve gotten out of the exercise routine and starting back up seems impossible. I mean, its Newton’s law. It takes more energy to put something in motion than to keep it in motion. We’re going heads up with physics, people.

But its possible to get out of it and actually enjoy working out. I promise, because I’ve been there. Here’s how to get to that place:

1. Start somewhere.
It doesn’t matter where. Just do something. Put Beyonce on youtube and dance around your house. Jog one block around your neighborhood. Okay, maybe two. Let your dog pull you along on a hike (pictured, above). Your body will complain at first, but the biggest hurdle is just getting going.

2. Next time, do a little more.
One Beyonce song and then one RiRi. Four blocks around the neighborhood. Hike a decent hill. Push yourself past the point where it starts to hurt, and you’ll be amazed at how fast you progress.

3. Find something you enjoy.
This was game changing for me. I can’t deal with the gym. I just can’t. I spent years trying to guilt myself into going. When the self-guilt-trip worked, I’d just cruise on the elliptical and do a couple sit ups and hate it the entire time. It wasn’t until I discovered yoga and pilates that I actually looked forward to working out.

4. Find deals & try new things.
I’ll admit – I got a little addicted for a while. I bought pilates groupons, yoga groupons, boot camp groupons, dance class groupons… You name it. Most studios also have an introductory deal, so you can keep things cheap for a while if you studio hop. I've learned the hard way, though, that the key is making it sustainable is choosing studios / gyms that are close by and that have convenient class times.

5. Go with friends.
For built-in accountability & to make it something you look forward to. There have been many mornings when I’ve wanted to bail on a workout, but I know I’d be letting my friend down if I did. So I wake up instead of throwing my alarm out the window. 

6. Focus on the positive.
I truly believe that viewing exercise as a punishment or a chore does not work. Reframe how you think about it. Change "I have to work out because I ate so much pizza last night" into "I have the opportunity to work out today." Its amazing that you get to invest in your fitness and your health. Focus on your new confidence, your improvements, your new guns, or how great you feel after working out. It’s much more effective.

7. Set a goal.
I find that I sometimes need something to look forward to for motivation when #1-6 aren’t enough. Maybe it’s an upcoming vacation or friend’s wedding, signing up for a 5K, or a numerical goal like an 8 minute mile. Honestly, is that fast? I don’t run, but it seems fast to me.

I tend to be an all-or-nothing person.  So when I stop working out, whether it’s from getting sick or traveling or a brutal month at work, it’s really hard to get back in and these tricks always help me jump start the routine again. If you find something sustainable, set challenging but realistic goals, and start to feel the positive benefits, I know you can do it too.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

You Are More Beautiful Than You Think

You may have seen the Dove Real Beauty Sketches circulating on facebook and twitter this week. Granted, I'll keep buying my soap from LUSH (its made more naturally and sourced ethically), but this campaign struck a chord with me and with so many others.

It's brilliant because Dove flips marketing on its head. Instead of telling us that we are not enough, that we need their product to feel somehow more complete, they show us that we each have a natural beauty and intrinsic worth. It exposes that we are often our own worst critics, and suggests we should extend the same truth and grace to ourselves that we extend to others.

For me, this video was so compelling because it goes beyond beauty. I think it struck a chord with so many women because we are not only hypercritical of our outward appearance, which we relate to our worth all too much, but also of larger issues of our value.

Maybe I shouldn't speak for all women, but speaking for myself, this message rings so true. I've been realizing recently that I hold myself to an impossible standard in my work and personal life. There are times I feel like I'm succeeding, but most of the time, I can't meet my self-imposed standards. Between career, marriage, friendships, a hyperactive puppy, trying to invest in my health through exercise and eating well, and blogging, it often feels like something is dropping. And with that comes a lot of negative self talk. I'm a failure. I'm a bad wife. A horrible friend. I hate my lack of self control. I wish I could change my body type. and on and on. I tell myself things I would never project onto other people. Wherever this comes from, it is not rooted in truth.

Its a process, but I'm working on re-writing my internal narrative, trying to see myself as others see me, and meditating on gratefulness instead of fixating on imperfections.

And this is a good place to start. Imperfections are what make life interesting, and you are more than you think you are. I am more than I give myself credit for.