Travel Thursday

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Nutcracker has ended and my finals are officially finished, so for the first time in what feels like forever I have a moment to sit down and write... not for research and not for a grade, but just for fun.  As I was thinking about what I wanted to write about I saw Caitlin's most recent Wanderlust Wednesday post and I thought it would be fun to take a page out of her book blog.


Right about this time four years ago I was heading to India where I would study for a month with a group of students from my college.  The night before we left I was sick, sleep deprived, and hadn't even begun packing.  Needless to say, I was not even remotely prepared for the madness that the next month would bring.


We traveled extensively throughout the Northern parts of India.  We started in New Delhi and from there ventured to Dharamsala, Varanasi, Bodhgaya, Jaipur, Amritsar, Khajuraho, and Agra.  We spent Christmas Day at the Bodhi Tree and rang in the New Year with Aloo Gobi and Bollywood hits.



We studied the five major religions of India: Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism.  We visited temples and spoke with Monks, Imams, and Priests.  We visited countless temples and holy sites.




We watched people fervently practicing faiths which I had previously never heard of.  I was forced to examine my own faith, my lack of devotion, and my beliefs about those who didn't believe in Jesus.  I questioned how some of these religions could be so similar to my own yet also so different. 


When people ask me what India was like I find it hard to give an answer.  I was there for a month yet was never in one spot for more than two nights.  There was so much to see, so much to take in, so much to learn, so much to process. 


India was beautiful.  It was colorful and vibrant and full of life and laughter and music and chaos and incredible smells.




India was also heartbreaking.  It was full of poverty and corruption and sickness and impositions on freedom.  


India was confusing for me.  There were times when I just couldn't understand why certain things happened and why people believed certain things.  Below is a picture of an open-air crematorium where bodies are burned 24 hours a day.  The ashes are then dumped in the Ganges river where faithful Hindus bathe daily.  The fumes settle over the city in a thick black smoke and our entire group became ill during our time there.  The question that hung over all of us was "why?!"  To our Western brains the practice seemed barbaric, not to mention unsanitary.  But does that make it wrong? 




I like to think of myself as open-minded and culturally sensitive.  But India showed me just how limited my views were.  It challenged the belief that I needed to know why certain things happen in order to respect them.  There was a point where I had to stop analyzing, stop questioning, and simply watch.  Absorb.  Learn.


I'd like to go back to India someday.  I'd like to stay in one place for an extended period of time and really get to know what everyday life is like there.  I'd like to go with a humble and open heart that is ready to learn, even if it cannot understand.  


Life Lately...

Friday, October 17, 2014

 

...has primarily consisted of reading and classes and reading and writing papers and rushing to dance rehearsals and reading on the bus and trying to find a ride home and reading and sometimes finding time to eat and collapsing into bed at the end of the night and dreaming about the things I've been reading such as psychosis and schizophrenia.  Grad school, y'all.  It's no joke.

  

Last week I was pretty dang stressed and my sweet (not to mention fine looking) husband sent me flowers.  In a pumpkin. Melt my heart, whydoncha.



It's officially cooled down 'round these parts which means the need for cozy has gone up exponentially.  All I want to wear is leggings, all the time.  Except that I really only have one top that's long enough to cover my bum, and I have a hard and fast rule about not wearing leggings without my bum covered, especially since I buy cheapo leggings and holes seem to materialize out of nowhere. (do holes materialize? there's your existential thought for the day.)  Anyway.  This was a serious problem on Thursday when i got up at 5 am and had two quizzes and was on my you-know-what and basically pants were just not an option.  Since my only arse-hiding tunic was in the laundry I improvised with Ty's smallest flannel.  Cozy to the max.

This weekend is going to consist of baking apple things, hanging out with my favorite woman, and cuddling with the-guy-I-think-I'm-married-to-but-feel-like-I-haven't-seen-in-forever.  Oh, and reading.

What are you up to this weekend?

Transitional Style With Twice

Thursday, September 25, 2014



Living in LA for the past few years has really taught me the value of thrift store shopping.  I've always hated malls (well, except for the ones that house Cinnabons) and living within walking distance to so many great vintage and thrift stores has pretty much eliminated the need to ever set foot inside a mall again.  I especially love Crossroads because everything is already sorted through so I know that anything I find will be in great condition and in style.  Plus, it's nice to know that by buying secondhand I am helping somewhat to lower my carbon footprint.


Recently I stumbled upon an online store of the same variety called Twice and was immediately hooked.  I snatched up this Anthropologie dress with a 50% off coupon I'd found, bringing the total to $32.48 with free shipping.  It was originally $184.80!  It's a beautiful, high quality piece that transitions perfectly from late Summer to early Fall and I have a feeling it will be a staple in my closet for years to come.  It fit perfectly, but even if it hadn't Twice has a 30 day full refund policy and they'll even pay for the shipping.  It's a win-win!  If you're interested in checking out Twice you can sign up here and get a $20 credit!



Have you ever bought used clothes online?  What was your experience like?

Dress: Anthropologie via Twice
Shoes: Old Navy (old, similar here)

Currently on Repeat

Saturday, September 20, 2014


The windows are open.  The sky is cloudy.  The throw blanket is ever-so-slightly necessary.  The dog is snuggly and muffins are baking in the oven.  This song is on repeat and weekend mode is in full effect.  Happy Saturday, friends.

Beat by the Heat + a Green Smoothie

Thursday, September 18, 2014


It seems that all I can talk about lately is this heat wave we've been experiencing for the past week.  The neighborhood we live in is pretty old (well, old by California standards) so most of the houses, including ours, don't have air conditioning.  It's crazy how the extreme heat can permeate every piece of your life.  The house is hot so I don't want to get out of bed.  It's scorching outside so I don't want to walk to work.  Even the dog can't find the energy to do much besides lay under the dining room table (which, I found out after joining him down there, happens to be the coolest spot in the house.  Smart dog.)  I'm well aware that other areas of the country get way hotter/ more humid than this but this is LA and we are wusses when it comes to extreme weather of any kind.  Besides, those other areas have a/c, yes?



Cooking has been a completely elusive activity this week.  I don't even want to go near the stove and I'm scared to see on our bank statement how much money we've spent eating out just this week alone.  Pretty much the only thing I can muster up the energy to make is this green smoothie.  It's cold and refreshing and provides enough energy to sustain me on the walk to my blessed, chilly office.  I know that everyone and their mother has a green smoothie recipe on the internet these days and this one is probably quite similar to those save for one thing; I add fiber.  Most people think of fiber supplements as a necessity solely for the elderly but the truth is that not getting enough fiber in your 20's is a big nutritional mistake.  I swear my quality of life has increased immensely since adding more fiber to my diet.  I won't go into details but... just trust me on this one.


Thankfully today is a bit cooler and I'm grateful not only for myself but also for all the people in this city who work as manual laborers.  I'm not sure how they do it.



Green Smoothie
makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium banana
  • 2 Cups washed, chopped kale
  • 1/3 Cup frozen pineapple
  • A few slices frozen peach
  • 1/4 Cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 Cup plain unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp Fiber Powder
  • 2 Tbsp flax seeds
  • handful crushed ice


Instructions

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  Add more almond milk if desired.  Serve immediately.

5 Very Important Updates

Thursday, September 11, 2014

That shirt is probably the best gift I've ever bought.

1.  As of last weekend I am officially a member of the LA Unbound dance company!  I'm so stoked to be on stage performing again come December, even if it means I'll be wearing this.

2.  I can officially cross "Call 911 Because I Think I'm Having A Heart Attack Only To Be Told It's Probably Gas" off my bucket list.  Yeah, for real.

3. My home-brew master of a husband just won first place at the county fair for one of his beers.  (see photo above)  The beer is called "Thomas Hefferson" and it was all the paramedics could talk about as they were watching me try to convince them I was dying.  So blase.

4. I'm REALLY excited to start school.  Like, I already have my schedule mapped out and my outfit picked out and have told myself the same lie I've been telling myself for 14 years that THIS will be the year that I do things on time and don't stay up til 3 AM writing a paper that's due the next day.

5. I know I said I wasn't ready, but with news that next Monday is supposed to be 100 degrees (!!!) I'm getting a teeeensy bit jealous of those of you who are starting to enjoy Fall weather.

It's not Fall yet!

Thursday, September 4, 2014



 The internet is hardcore trippin' right now about PSLs and leggings and boots, while in LA we are currently still enduring enjoying 90+ degree weather.  I want to stand up on a building and shout "Wait! It's not time yet! We still have three more weeks!"  While I know that some people count Labor Day as the unofficial start of Fall (and end to white clothing, which is BS in my book)  this year is supposed to be an El Nino year so I am planning on rocking my summer uniform for as long as possible.  Don't get me wrong... I love Fall... cloudy mornings and hot coffee and Friendsgiving are a few of my favorite things.  But Summer is my all-time favorite season and since I don't start school until Sept 29th I'm happy to enjoy the sun (and maybe a few more beach days!) in the meantime.



I have been living in these boyfriend shorts all Summer long... they are SO comfy and I love that I can roll them to whatever length I'm feeling like at the moment.  This hat has also gotten plenty of use this year.  I bought it a couple of years ago but it wasn't until this Summer that I felt gutsy enough to wear it without feeling like a John Mayer wannabe.  It's a bit hard do see in the pictures above but don't worry, I took the most awkward self-timer-selfie of all time so that you could see the details.  You're welcome.


What about you? Are you enjoying the last few weeks of Summer or are you in Fall mode yet?

Shorts: Old Navy (currently on sale!)
Tank: Old Navy
Hat: Forever 21 (old) Similar here
Earrings: Forever 21 (old) Similar here
Sandals: Rainbow factory (if you've never owned Rainbows you must make the switch... you'll never look back)

Nextdoor

Tuesday, August 26, 2014



I recently stumbled upon a great free app called Nextdoor.  It's a private social media app for the neighborhood in which you live.  It has been such an awesome way for me to get to know the people in my neighborhood and stay informed about all the goings-on; from lost animals to suspicious activity to block parties.  It's also been an excellent resource for referrals for things like plumbers and contractors.  I'm a big fan of being an active part of my community so this has been such a neat addition to my home screen!  If you're interested you can sign up HERE.

What are some ways that you stay plugged in to your community?

Caramelized Leek & Heirloom Tomato Tart

Monday, August 25, 2014


One of my favorite things about Summer is the increased appearance of heirloom tomatoes.  There is something so fun about picking through the different varieties and picking the perfect one (for me it's typically the one with the funkiest shape- don't ask me why).



 On Saturday night Tyler and I made a long evening date of cooking a seasonal, multi-course meal which included this fantastic tart.  The combination of flavors is so comforting and it's the perfect dish to eat on the porch on a warm Summer night while sipping some wine.  Mmm... Fall, hold off a little longer please?


Caramelized Leek & Heirloom Tomato Tart
Adapted from Small Gatherings

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 leeks, white & tender green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp minced fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 medium heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup pitted Kalmata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to top


Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Roll out a sheet of frozen puff pastry and allow to come to room temperature.  Press into a greased pie pan or cast-iron skillet.  Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the leeks and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in basil & oregano.
  4. Spread the leek mixture evenly over the puff pastry.  Arrange the tomato slices over the entire crust, then sprinkle with the Kalmata olives and grated Parmesan cheese.  Drizzle with olive oil and bake 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and tomatoes are bubbling.  

Planning Ahead

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Even though I am not a particularly organized person I have always LOVED planners.  In fact, I think it's precisely because I am not a particularly organized person that I love planners.  I tend to forget about things ten seconds after they are told to me so it is essential that I write everything down (I was definitely that girl in college who would show up to class having completely forgotten there was a test that day...) As the Fall quarter approaches I am on the hunt for a new, grown-up academic planner.  Here are a few that I'm currently eyeing... 


Sarah Pinto 2014-2015 Stripe Weekly Planner

Straightforward, streamlined, and classic.  This one has both monthly and weekly views, which is a must-have for me.  Plus, it's totally affordable!



I have to admit, the cover of this planner is totally what drew me in.  I'm a sucker for good design! It also has tabs so you can easily flip to the current month.  This one's a top contender.





I've heard a TON about the day designer and I'm really intrigued by it.  It's much more than a planner; it's a goal-setter, priority-maker, and dream-organizer.  While at this point in my life I can't really justify shelling out $60 for a planner it's a good one to keep in mind for the future. 





Again- simple, streamlined, and cute design.  This one is smaller than the others and could easily fit inside a purse.




This one is currently my top contender.  I was totally sold on that cover!  There are added sections for keeping track of assignments and exams, which I obviously need.  All of her designs also come in "personal" and "family" editions for those of you who are lucky enough to no longer be in school.


Do you have a planner you love?  Tell me about it in the comments, I'm always up for suggestions!

#MindBodyMat

Monday, August 11, 2014



Today I'm starting a wonderful new pilates series from The Balanced Life called #MindBodyMat.  MindBodyMat was created by Robin Long- a pilates instructor who is passionate about helping women find balance as well as look and feel their best.  I first started following her blog during the Pilates Summer Series and was amazed at what a difference 8-10 minutes of pilates every day could make!  I felt stronger, healthier, and more confident.  Robin's new series is all about taking time each day to care for your body and your mind; something that I often fail to do during the hectic summer season.  I am so excited to get back into a pilates routine everyday and I'd love for you to join, too!  You can find more about the series here and sign up here.  (Oh, and did I mention it's totally FREE!?  Can't beat that!)

Image from The Balanced Life

A {Very Dramatic} Return Post

Saturday, August 9, 2014


 Well, hello there!  It's hard to believe it's been three whole months since I've posted here.  The hiatus wasn't out of forgetfulness or busy-ness; the truth is that I really needed a break from the "blogging world."

This blog started out as a place to document our lives to share with our friends and family; our vacation photos, weekend recaps, and random ramblings.  It soon evolved into a more creative outlet for me; a place to experiment with fun recipes, to share photos of the city that I love, and to talk about struggles with anxiety and depression.  I began to come into contact with other bloggers and learned that there is a whole "world" to blogging that I never knew existed.  There is a whole culture to blogging that I began to feel the need to assimilate into.  People other than my family & close friends started visiting this blog and it felt good.  It felt validating.  Pageviews and numbers started to get more important in my mind and I started offering swaps, tweeting, and commenting on other blogs out of a sense of obligation.  I had heard a lot about the "community" and "genuine friendships" that had been formed through blogging and, to be honest, I craved that.

I don't want to make it sound like these are bad things.  I think it's really incredible that some people can make money through blogging, and I do believe that real, genuine friendships can form over the internet.  I've definitely "met" some wonderful, inspiring women through blogging and for that I am grateful.  But I also started to realize that what I was needing was real, tangible human connection, and an outlet that didn't include sitting at my laptop.  So a break was in order.  I made more coffee dates, took more dance classes, and had more real-life adventures.  And it was good.

I know there's a good chance you are rolling your eyes at this lame revelation and that you honest-to-God could not care less.  Which is fine- I don't blame you!  I'm really not trying to make this seem all melodramatic (though that's how it's coming off...) To be honest I just miss having this blog as a creative outlet and for now that is simply what it will be.  I'm not going to get caught up in trying to write what I feel like I'm supposed to be writing or what will supposedly attract more readers.  I'm not going to stress out over keeping a strict posting schedule or promoting myself.  There are far greater things out there to fret over!

Happy, Happy, Happy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


This morning I woke up feeling like it was my birthday because, well, it is!  I have always had sort of a love/hate relationship with my birthday.  I love the idea of birthdays; of celebrating someone for a whole day simply because they are alive.  But, I don't know, there's all this pressure to feel special and wise and new.  What if you don't feel special on your birthday?  What if you have to work and take care of the kids and you're exhausted or you're sick or you have a migraine?  What if it just feels like another humdrum day?  Is it a wasted opportunity to feel amazing that only comes around once a year?

My dad loves to tell the story of my 1st birthday party (pictured above.)  He said that I spent the entire day running around with balloons in my mouth yelling "happy, happy, happy!"  I didn't know it was a special day, but I did know that there was family, there were balloons, and there was cake.  What more could a one-year-old want?! So today that is my goal.  Today I have family, balloons, and cake.  I'm not pressuring myself to feel special or older or wiser; I'm simply going to take this day as an opportunity to be happy, happy happy!

Mother's Day X 2

Sunday, May 11, 2014


I am very blessed to have had two women in my life that I called "mom."  I had a beautiful mother for the first thirteen years of life who exuded joy, beauty, and grace.  Then, nine years later, another woman entered my life and filled a long-empty void.  There is a stigma surrounding the term "mother-in-law" but early on in our relationship Tinina and I decided we wanted to drop the "in-law" part.  This woman has been such an incredible example to me, and has truly become one of the closest people in my life.  She is often the first person I call when I'm upset, one of my favorite people to celebrate with, and the person whose qualities I most hope to emulate in my own life.  She is so similar to my own mom that I'm certain they would have been best friends.  Two years ago I not only gained an incredible mother, but I also gained a best friend.  Someone asked me this morning if Mother's Day was a hard day for me, but it's not because it's a day that I get to celebrate two amazing women who have blessed my life immensely.  Happy Mother's Day!!