Friday Favorites 1

Hi all!

Hope everyone is basking in the fabulousness that should be Friday. At this point, I’ve been to my 9:15 Sculpt class with Alexis at ODD, showered, and made myself a nice lunch. Usually what happens around this time on Fridays is that I struggle to try to be productive 4-5 hours, doing very little work and watching way too much Netflix. Around 6, I decide that I’m hungry, I make dinner and then I start thinking about the fact that I have to get up at 6 in the morning to run with DTLA (we’re doing 12 miles tomorrow!). I then bum around for another few hours before calling it a night around 10.

While it is likely that this Friday won’t look very different from the usual, I thought that it would be fun to update with some of the little things that have made this Friday pleasurable despite its somewhat mundane nature.

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Pumpkin Spice Roobios from TJs. Oh hey, Fall.

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Baked sweet potato fries (seasoned with paprika, cinnamon, and salt) topped with almond butter. Weird? Maybe. Delicious? Certainly.

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Newly purchased nail polish. “Sew Psyched.” It’s all in the name.

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The new love of my life. Big plans of roasting some pork shoulder this weekend.

Cheers and Happy Weekend!

GWHG

What I’ve Been Up To!

Ciao peeps,

This week has been a crazy one. My students took their midterm/first exam last week and so I spent last weekend traipsing through them. I had 38 of them but it wasn’t too bad. I did a little bit each day and so by Sunday evening I only had to go back through and grade the final essays. This was somewhat challenging since I had to scan the essays to check that they had addressed all of the required components but I got cozy in bed, graded them in small batches and after an hour and a half or so, I was done. The more challenging part was returning them to the students on Thursday and having to deal with backlash. #TAstruggles

I’m not grading this weekend but it’s already been a busy one. It’s that time in the semester where things are starting to pile up. On top of all the day to day stuff for my classes and TAship, fellowship application deadlines are approaching so I have to work on research proposal drafts to get out to my recommenders. With all of this going on, I’ve had to be really diligent about maintaining a healthy regime. I’ve started running about 3 times a week, which has allowed me to get my mileage back up.  I did 11 and a quarter miles with the DTLA running group this morning which felt awesome (not during, but after!). It’s really exciting to be back to where I was when I was training for my half. Most people in the group are training for the Rock N Roll half marathon that’s coming up but since I’m just running for funzies, it takes a bit of the pressure off while still motivating me to get out there and push myself.

During this really busy period, time management and preparation have become so critical. Despite having a really intense dark chocolate withdrawal experience last week (which resulted in me going out of my way to Lassen’s to buy 4 bars of chocolate that I’m already more than half way through :/), I’ve been able to maintain pretty good eating habits. The key has really been food prepping on the weekends. I know that many people swear by food prep and preach of its wonders, but you really don’t know how great it is until you come home at 8:30pm after a 15 hour day (yes, 15 hours. 5:30am-8:30pm. My Wednesdays are brutal.) and there is something healthy and homemade already in your fridge for you to pop into the oven and microwave. I’m planning on doing a post on food prep (hopefully at the end of this week!) to rave about it more and hopefully provide some helpful tools/tips that might help you guys incorporate it into your routines. Look out for it!

In addition to food prepping, I’ve been really conscious of scheduling my workouts ahead of time. I’m generally pretty good about this anyway but more recently, it’s become all the more important for me to actually put workout time/classes into my iCal so that it doesn’t get compromised in all of the craziness. My workout routine has definitely evolved as a result of my schedule which has pros and cons. I haven’t been getting as much gym time, which I’m not happy about, but on the flipside, I’ve been doing more running and yoga.

I’m really excited about having yoga play a larger role in my health routine, as I’m trying to strengthen and build my practice. Last week, I went to an awesome “Strong” class at ODD that focuses on building strength for inversion poses as well as learning the proper techniques to avoid injury and feel safe while in the poses. The first thirty minutes of the class are spent getting warm and and doing muscle conditioning for the poses (think lots of core work!). I really enjoyed this part of class because we were able to break into pairs and do some partner exercises that were not only helped strengthen the core but also mimicked the feeling of being in an inversion that we would know what what our bodies/muscles are supposed to feel like in the poses. The last half of class was basically guided “playtime.” We were working on forearm stands so Joerael (the instructor) gave us some tips and modeled the pose for us and then we pulled our mats near the wall and started trying it on our own. There were only 4 of us in the class total so it was great to get some individual attention and feel supported, literally and figuratively. Can’t wait to go back next week!

Here’s what this past week in workouts has looked like just to give you guys an idea:

Sunday

3 mile run to “Sweat” yoga at ODD

Monday

8 mile run through Elysian and down Sunset

Tuesday

Gym Sessions focusing on lifting. Since I’m only getting to the gym once a week, I’m really trying to get the weight stuff in when I’m there.

Evening “Flow” yoga with Briana at ODD

Wednesday

3 miles run to 6:30am “Sculpt” yoga with Alexis. Running down Sunset at 6 in the morning is becoming one of my favorite things. So nice to meet the city before it wakes.

Thursday

“Chill” yoga followed by “Strong” yoga (described above)

Friday

“Sculpt” and “Chill” with Alexis

Saturday

11.26 miles with DTLA running group

I’m pretty excited about working out this week because I’m planning to go to a lot of cool free classes that BurnThis is hosting in honor of Marie Claire launching their new fitness section. Classes are being offered all week at fitness studios around LA but I won’t be able to attend them all because of conflicts with classes. Off course the Barry’s Bootcamp class is happening on Wednesday which is the one day in my schedule that is completely packed. I really want to make it to that place. :/ Though Barry and I won’t be hanging this week, I am planning to go to classes at Body by Simone, Flywheel, and Platinum Pilates and I’m pretty stoked about it (did I just say “stoked?” This West Coast life is getting the best of me…). I’ve actually already been to two classes at Body by Simone using the gift certificate that I got in my Racked LA Swag Bag. I loved my workouts there but since it’s all the west in West Hollywood, I don’t know if I’ll get there too often. That being said, I’m really excited to go back for this event. I’m hoping to take some photos and post about it for you guys.

So I’ll end this post with some photos of recent eats and whatever other random photos I might have collected over the past couple of weeks that give you guys an indication of what life has been lookin like.

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Amazingness from the Wednesday farmer’s market on the USC campus.

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Paleo pizza using Zenbelly’s crust. Slowly becoming a weekly tradition.

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Paleo “cauli” egg fried rice with bacon and scallions. Delish low carb play on a Chinese food favorite.

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My duck legs right out of the oven!

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Plated and garnished.

Until next time.
GWHG

Chocolatey Pumpkin-Spice Latte

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You guys may not know this about me but I’m really into fall. You know, the season. Upon moving to LA, one of my major concerns was the lack of seasons to be had in this city but I was determined to keep fall alive no matter what the weather gods had in store. As I sit here, recovering from the heatwave of 100+ temperatures that we had last week, I am not discouraged. Summer got its last hurrah and now it’s fall’s time to shine. What better way for fall to make its annual debut than in a delicious drinkable milky treat?

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I used to be a big Starbucks girl. I’m embarrassed to say that I made many a pit stop in downtown Chicago on my way to my high school to spend six bucks on a something sugary in grande size. In my older age, I rarely find myself at the coffee chain, largely because I realized that there is so much better coffee to be had for my money. While I have numerous independent coffee shops that I frequent for quality beans, these places don’t typically offer the fun seasonal drinks for which Starbizzle is known.

Being the paleo girl that I currently am, the thought of buying myself one of these drinks, even as a treat, kind of repulses me. All the sugar and weird chemicals in those flavored syrups make even the tastiest of seasonal beverages so much less appealing. It occurred to me that the best way to deal with this situation was to hit up the kitchen….

This recipe is super simple, requiring just a few ingredients and a little time. The great thing about it, like most homemade versions of things, is that you can customize it to your tastebuds. I tend to like my lattes on the creamy side, without too much sugar so that the flavors of the coffee come through. This recipe caters to these preferences but feel free to adjust ingredients as you see fit. It’s also vegan and paleo friendly. :)

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Serves 1

 

Gather:

1/2 brewed coffee of your choice (I used this amazing snickerdoodle flavored decaf that I got from the farmer’s market)

1/2 C coconut cream (or milk. I used cream because it’s thicker and creamier, like I prefer)

1/4 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I use the Trader Joe’s brand)

1.5-2 TBL pumpkin puree (I used the one from Trader Joe’s)

1 tsp raw honey* (or more if you have an intense sweet tooth but remember there’s sugar in the chocolate too!)

1 TBL dairy-free chocolate chips

1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 T vanilla extract

1/4 tsp cocoa or cacao power for sprinking on top

 

*For strict paleo version, use agave or another vegan-friendly sweetener. You could also omit all together and add another TBL of chocolate chips. :)

Do:

1) Brew coffee if not yet brewed.

2) Add coconut milk, almond milk, pumpkin puree, honey, and chocolate chips to a small saucepan over medium/medium-low heat.

3) Stir regularly until all ingredients have combined, chocolate chips have melted, and mixture is well heated.

4) Keeping the saucepan over the heated eye of the stove, turn off heat and add pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract. Stir until combined and dissolved.

5) Pour mixture into the bottom of your coffee mug and pour hot brewed coffee over top.

6) Sprinkle cacao power and more pumpkin pie on top.

7) Indulge.

 

Happy Fall!

Weekly Workouts + What I’ve Been Up to in the Kitchen

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Hey guys,

I’ve decided to reinstate my weekly workout posts. It’s not a big deal but it’s a nice way to let you guys know what I’ve been doing to stay active. I’m slowly getting into a workout rhythm for the semester. There are a couple of days that I’m playing around with regards to when to schedule my workout / what kind of workout I should do. Rather than trying to come up with a strict plan for everyday of the week, however, I think I’ll hold out until the night before or the day of to see how I’m feeling and just go for it. It’s very easy for me to fall victim to monotony so I think it’ll be nice to have some built-in spontaneity — if that’s not too oxymoronic. :P So here’s what I’ve been up to this week.

Monday – 10K Run to Silverlake reservoir + “Align” Yoga at ODD.

This was my first day trying the “Align” yoga class. It’s only offered once a week at One Down Dog and since it worked in my schedule, I thought that I would check it out. Unlike the “Sweat” and “Sculpt” classes that I usually go to, this class slows things down to focus on breath and posture, hence being called “Align.” This hour and 15 minute class is conducted, for the most part, without music, prompting you to pay even more attention to your body. While I absolutely love my faster-paced classes, “Align” was quite refreshing as it gave me the opportunity to think about building up the foundations of my practice. I’m hoping in incorporate more classes like “Align” into my schedule so that I can strengthen my postures and hopefully (!!!) finally get my headstand off the ground. Pun intended.

Tuesday Gym workout + “Flow” yoga at ODD

I started this gym sess with 20 minutes of a the preset “rolling hill” workout on the wide stride and then followed up with a 20 min AMRAP of the following cardio/core set: (I got through 3 full rounds)

  • 10 burpees
  • 20 ballet squat pulses with 10 lb weights at hips
  • 10 full ballet squats with 10 lb weights held between legs
  • 30 half get-ups (15 on each side)
  • 40 Russian twists (with 10 lb weight)
  • 50 high knees
  • 1 minute elbow plank

Wednesday – 6:30am “Sculpt” Yoga with Alexis at ODD!!

Yoga with weights. <3

Thursday – “Express” Gym Workout (I was kind of sore but needed to get my muscles warm)

This workout started with 20 easy minutes on the wide stride followed by about 20 minutes of shoulder/arm/core work.

Friday – “Sculpt” Yoga (again. clearly I’m into it.)

 

So now that I’ve recapped my workouts for the week, on to the fun stuff. The food! Here’s some of the stuff that I’ve been playing around dans la cuisine.

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Got a spiralizer for my birthday (thanks mama!). So much zoodle fun!

 

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Obsessed with these paleo biscuits from The Zenbelly Cookbook.

 

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Moroccan Meatballs from the Well Fed Cookbook.

 

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Veggie bowl topped with chocolate mole. Working on getting this recipe perfected and posted for you guys soon. :)

 

Ciao for now brown (and purple) cows.

Racked LA Giveaway

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Hi guys!

I’ve been meaning to post this feature for a while but am only now getting around to it. Back when I had just gotten back to LA from my summer adventures, I was lucky enough to win an awesome gift bag from Racked LA. If you’re not familiar with Racked.com, you should change that. They’re a great resource for anyone looking to take advantage of their city. With restaurant features, free fitness events, and great articles about local happenings, Racked.com is definitely a site to bookmark. I’ve come to know the site primarily through it’s “Fit Club.” A few times a month, Racked LA Fit Club holds events at different fitness studios around the city, providing a great opportunity to see what the LA fitness scene has to offer. Studios range from those focusing on spinning, to yoga, to treadmill/Pilates intervals. It’s a great way to not only add some flavor to your workout routine but also try some things that you might not generally go for.

My primary way of staying on top of all of the awesome Racked Fit Club events is through Instagram. In August, I came across a Racked Fit Club giveaway post for a fitness swag bag. To enter, you had to answer the question “What is you all time favorite workout song and why?” Since music is so critical to my workout success, I thought it would make sense for me to enter.

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A couple of days later I went to a Racked Fit Club event at FitMix (remember those running/pilates intervals that I mentioned) with my friend Stephanie and upon checking in with Instagram after the class, I found out that I’d won! I was really excited. It always feels great to win things but to win workout-y things incites a special kind of excitement in me. Can you guess what my winning response was? Just guess….

I’ll give you a hint.

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My entry response was “Canned Heat by Jamiroquai because it immediately makes me think of Napolean Dynamite’s epic dance performance and all seems possible.” The Racked LA team actually dug (yes, “dug,” as in the past tense of “dig” as in I’m living my life in the 1960’s. Don’t judge.) my response and selected me as the winner. So flattering! My fabulous taste is music is finally being acknowledged and appreciated!

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So here’s what was in the bag.

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1. Super cute workout tank by // OUT. Love the glittery lateral back strap!

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2. Sporty workout tank and $100 gift card for Carbon38. So far I’ve gotten a really cute green yoga bra with the gift card. Still holding out to use the rest on something fun.

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3. Workout hoodie by Koral activewear. I’ve been wearing this over my new Carbon38 yoga bra on the way to class. So convenient for coverage while still allowing me to get some air.

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4. Copy of The Beauty Detox Foods by Kimberly Snyder
5. Copy of Please Meditate It’s Good For You by Olivia Rosewood
6. Gift certificate for 5 meditation classes at Unplug Meditation Studio.
7. Funky hair ties by MyKitsch.
8. A $25 gift card for Pressed Juicery (!!).
9. A gift certificate for two classes at Body By Simone. (I will have to be sure to do a fitness feature with a review of this studio when I visit)

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10. Two pairs of Pointe Studio socks. Perfect for Pop Physique-ing and just bumming around the crib.
11. An inCase running armband. This was so perfect! I had literally just lost my old one and was prepping to get back into the running swing. Racked LA, my saving grace.
12. Wimberlean Workout DVD complete with resistance bands. I haven’t tried this yet but needless to say, I’m excited.
13. Delicious Paleta energy bars along with a handy info and recipe book.

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14. Super cute yoga sweater by Alternative. Perfect for fall yoga (and clearly for summer yoga too seeing as how I’ve been wearing it like 3 times a week…)! It was hard to photograph so it just sort of looks like a big pile of fabric in the first picture so I have to recruit Maria to take a photo of me wearing it. Excuse my appearance. I clearly didn’t prep for the photoshoot.

And is if that wasn’t enough, it was all stashed in this great yoga bag, designed with straps to hold my mat at the bottom. This has officially become my “yoga bag.” Great for holding my towels and water for sculpt at ODD.

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If you guys are interested in knowing some of the other songs that people love working out to, or if you’re in the market for some new workout tunes, head on over to THIS POST on Racked LA to download the spotify playlist that the editors created based on the giveaway entries. I’ve been listening to this since the end of the competition and I must say, it’s pretty groovy (…I asked you not to judge).

So obviously the takeaway from this post is that Racked is awesome. Now that I’m done bragging, I can go run off into the sunset with all of my fabulous fitness goodiessss!

Cardio Ab Row Machine Workout

Hello lovlies!!

As I tried to convey in my last post, life is a bit crazy at the moment. The good news is that despite the reality that this semester is going to be absolutely insane, I feel really good about it. I’m on campus pretty much all day from Monday-Thursday and then I have Fridays class free. In theory, I would get a ton of reading done on Fridays but I’m thinking that I might just make them scheduled personal health / blogging days. Judging from these first three weeks, it’s clear that my brain is going to be in no condition to be academically productive on Fridays so I think that it would make sense for me to make them personally so. Of course, for me, that means, exercise (10:15 Sculpt at One Down Dog is definitely a staple of my Friday schedule for this semester), grocery shopping (dropped by McCall’s Meat and Fish this morning for a meat stock up. Can you say meatballs? Love that place!), and cooking (made Ginger Scallion Pork Meatballs with Sesame Zucchini Noodles from the Zenbelly Cookbook for lunch with Jenny!). In about 40 minutes, I’ll be heading out for a hike at Runyon with Sarah, before returning home to make myself a lovely dinner and chill out with Netflix and get to bed. I’m planning to start my Saturday by doing 10K with the DTLA running group plus 2 miles back to my apartment from downtown so I’ll need to rest up. :) This is what Fridays should and will be from here on out.

The jam-packed-ness of my schedule this semester is really pushing me to think about what’s important to me, as I have to be extremely selfish with my time. I was, and still am, a little concerned with my ability to keep up with blogging but the discomfort that I feel when I think of letting it go tells me that I need to figure out how to continue posting. In my last post, I set a goal of updating once a week, which I’ve already failed to accomplish (I didn’t post anything last week!) but I’m not being hard of myself about it. I started this blog because I thought it would be a fun and personally productive project to pursue and if I allow it to stress me out, it defeats the purpose. So instead of trying to impose a stringent post requirement, I’m simply going to update when I feel like it. This is not to be snippy or sassy in any way, but to acknowledge that if blogging is something that I do because I enjoy it, I should trust that feeling that it ignites in me will be enough to motivate me to post when I need to. This might be 3 times per month or 8. Who knows? But because this act of sharing my life through writing has become very near and dear to my heart, I’m confident that it will maintain its role in my life, even if that role looks a bit different than it did last school year.

Now that I’ve put that out there, I can get to what I really set out to do in this post and that’s share a workout. I haven’t done this in a while. When starting GWHG, I imagined it to be much more workout focused, but as it turns out, the recipes and life updates came to define the site more than exercise routines. Because I was working out at Energi over the summer, I really wasn’t putting together any of my own workouts. What I did do, however, was collect new moves and workout structures that I could incorporate into my routine back here in LA. This one that I’m sharing today, I actually did for the first time while I was in Amsterdam. I didn’t really learn how to properly use rowers until this summer at Energi, and I realized how great they were for both cardio and strengthening and sculpting the lower body and shoulders. When I saw that the gym in Amsterdam was equipped with rowers, I had to have a go at them.

This workout is great for strengthening and toning abs while keeping your heart rate up. It’s awesome if you’re short on time at the gym and want to get the most out of your session. I suggest doing it for 4 rounds and clocking yourself in order to challenge yourself the next time. I’ve also done it for as many rounds as possible within 20 or 30 minutes and it still kills. Enjoy!

Equipment:

Row Machine

Medicine ball

Interval Timer set to do 6 rounds of 30 seconds on, 10 seconds off

 

Workout:

Row 300 meters

Start Interval Timer (30 seconds of work / 10 seconds of rest)

  • Plank Jack Tucks
  • Cross Body Ups
  • Burpees
  • Russian Twists (with or without medicine ball depending on your level)
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Double Leg Stretches (with or without weight depending on your level)

Repeat 4x (or as many times as possible within a certain time period)

Comment for explanations of moves! I’m trying to keep this quick but would be happy to explain!

 

Ciao for now!

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Still Alive

Soooo…I’ve clearly been M.I.A. This last month has been absolutely insane and I honestly don’t feel like I’ve really had time to sit down and update. I kind of hit the ground running when I got back to LA a few weeks ago. I was working hard to get settled black into the West Coast and relax a bit before what I knew would be a crazy couple of weeks. Last week at this time, I was preparing to celebrate my 24th birthday. It turned out to be an absolutely amazing day. I’m pretty sure that it was the best birthday that I’ve ever had. Definitely the best of my adult (?) life so far. Here’s a photo that captures the magic.

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I started classes on Monday and since I hadn’t really had time to rest or prepare for it, my plan was just to power through as best as I could and then use this long weekend to get my act together. Somehow I managed to survive so now it’s just a matter of me taking advantage of this weekend to get on top of things. While I have a fair amount of work to do for both my graduate classes and my teaching assistantship, it was really important to me that I make time to post today, even if it’s just a short one. It’s already very clear to me that this year is going to be a lot busier than my first year with classes, a TA-ship, and work at the writing center but I’ve really enjoyed blogging for the past 8 months or so (has it really been that long?) and I’m committed to keeping this thing going. I have some interesting ideas of things to share with you guys including cookbook reviews and some beauty regiment tips/ideas in addition to posting some of the workouts that I’ve been doing this summer. My plan is to commit myself to updating at least once a week with at least one recipe post per month. While it might not be much, I think it’s a good goal to set for myself at the moment.

Despite the intensity of this past month and this coming year that I’ve just attempted to convey, I’m really excited about starting my second year or graduate school and my 24th year of life. I’ve been having good vibes about 24 for a while now and after my birthday celebration last week, I’m pretty confident that this will be a good year for me. I think it’s going to require a lot of time-management and organization but I really like where I am right now in life and I’m super excited to dive in and share it all with you guys.

One of the things that I’m excited about is TAing an undergraduate discussion section. At USC, graduate students don’t actually get to teach entire courses on their own but instead lead weekly discussion sections that supplement the lectures that are given by faculty. This semester I’m TAing for a Black Social Movements course which has already been pretty interesting in both subject matter and experience. I met with my students for the first time yesterday and they seem like great students. I was initially a little blah about having to TA but over the past couple of weeks, I’ve warmed up to it and I’m looking forward to building my teaching skills and devleoping/discovering my teaching style in the classroom.

In addition to TAing, I’m pretty excited about my grad classes. Last year was a little clumsy in terms of figuring out my interesting and finding courses that were fitting. This semester I’m taking a qualitative methods course in the sociology department and an ethnography course in the anthropology department. Both of these courses are designed to help me get more hands on with my research, meaning — it’s time for me to start my field work. I’ve been looking forward to and dreading this moment for some time now but it’s nice to have courses that will walk me through it. I also feel way more comfortable in LA this year and more confident in my ability to make connections and find sites for my studies. I will try not to bore you guys too much with this stuff but it’s going to be a huge part of my life this semester so I’m sure that it’ll naturally come up.

Anyway, I said I would keep this short and sweet and I do actually have things that I need to get to. I will be posting again soon as to meet my weekly goal.

Ciao until then.

GWHG

Blueberry Peach Crumble

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Bonjour mes amis,

Now that I’ve gotten in the habit of updating on the go, I thought I would get this post going as I head to the gym. This WordPress iPhone app is so handy! Anyway, I come to you with deliciousness. Last week I took a break from the savory to try something seasonal and sweet. I ended up at the downtown Chicago farmers market after my morning workout last Thursday and the peaches and blueberries were calling my name. I was pretty sure that I wanted to try a crumble but I was unsure of which fruit I’d put in it until I got to the market. Sometimes it’s nice to let nature help plan the menu.

I’ve always been a fan of cobblers, crisps, etc but these desserts don’t often make their way into a healthy diet. I’ve especially struggled with this since going paleo. I had come across some interesting recipes for paleo crisps and crumbles and I thought it might be a good day to attempt one myself.

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This recipe is paleo but if you’re not into that jazz there are a number of substitutions that can be made. I’ve tried to note them on the ingredients list as I realize that some of the ingredients would rarely be found in a non-paleo kitchen.

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Gather:

(For filling)
1 lb firm peaches (about 4 peaches for me)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T honey (would probably be delicious with maple syrup as well)
2 T arrowroot (this is for thickening, can sub with regular flour if not paleo)
3/4 C fresh blueberries
Dash salt

(For crumble)
1/4 raw sliced almonds
1/2 almond meal
1 T coconut flour (can sub regular flour)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 salt
2 T honey
2 coconut oil, cold (solid but soft)

Do:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Peel and slice peaches. You can do this a number of ways. I boiled mine for a few minutes, allowed them to cool, and then I was able to easily remove the skin. This might not work depending on the ripeness of your peaches. If peaches are pretty firm, it’ll probably be easier to just peel them with a nice or peeler. Anyway, after they’re peeled, slice them to your liking.

3. Place peaches in a bowl and add lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, arrowroot powder and salt. Mix together and then add in blueberries. Stir carefully as not to smash them. Let filling sit while you make crumble to give it a little time to gel.

4. Put sliced almonds, almond meal, coconut flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and whisk together. Add honey and stir until combined. Add coconut oil and slice into the mixture with a fork or your hands. Allows the mixture to clump together. It may not clump as much as it would with regular flour but that’s fine.

5. Add filling to an oven safe baking dish or pan. I used a small cast iron skillet greased with coconut oil.

6. Add filling to dish and top with crumble. I used my hands to drop the clumps on top of the filling in a crumble-like fashion.

7. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until the crumble has browned and the fruit bubbles. I placed mine under the broiler for a couple of minutes so that the crumble could brown further.

Et voila.

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Pros and Cons of Traveling Light

Ciao.

Now that I’m all done with my summer travel, I thought I would take the time to post my conclusions from my little carry-on only experiment. For those of you who might not know what I’m talking about, these posts (1, 2) lay everything out. Overall, I’m really happy that I didn’t take a ton of stuff on this trip. There were so many occasions where I was aware that not having a crazy amount of luggage made things a lot easier, especially during the solo segments of my journey where paying for a taxi on my own would have been pretty expensive. Here is a quick run down of what I think are the pros and the cons of the carry-on only life.

Pro: Easy to navigate cities on public transportation and through crowded streets. This, for me, was the number one advantage of packing light. Because I mostly visited major cities, the airports were generally well connected to the centers via public transit. Trying to get to your hotel/hostel/AirBnB in a foreign city on public transit when you have a lot of luggage is 0 fun. Trust me, I done it and it sucks. This time around, because I was holding everything on my back, I had very little trouble hopping on and off trains and buses to get where I needed to go.

Con: Washing machine dependency/clothes washing dilemma.  A major determinant in ones ability to “survive” for longer periods of time without much luggage is access to a washing machine and/or facilities to hand wash clothes. I’m honestly not big on handwashing, especially for larger articles of clothing. I also had sweaty workout clothes to deal with. That being said, I was heavily reliant on staying in places where I would have access to a washing machine. Because I was conscious of this when booking my lodging, however, I didn’t really run into any problems.

Pro: Save money on baggage fees and transportation.This “pro” goes along with the first one in some ways. Being able to opt for public transit instead of taking a taxi, which can get very expensive, can save you a fair amount of money, (especially when you’re dealing with monetary exchange rates that are not in your favor!). If I ever got discouraged while traipsing through a city with my backpack, I just reminded myself of the delicious dinner that I would have that night with the 30 euros that I would have spent on a taxi. So worth it! Also, if you’re planning on making use of low-cost regional carriers in Europe, it makes your life so much easier to be able to carry on since the fees to check baggage are often more than your ticket itself.

Con: Can make gift-buying a challenge. If you intend to bring back big elaborate gifts for friends and family members, this could prove difficult if you only have a carry-on. Many of the blogs that I read suggested that you leave room in your suitcase when packing to accommodate for the things you’ll acquire. But when packing light is a major challenge to begin with, as it was for me, it’s hard to actually make this happen. My backpack has an extension on it that I didn’t use at the outset of my trip because I knew it would make it the dimensions too large for some of regional airlines that I would be flying in Europe. The good thing this was that I was able to extend it on my last leg from Dublin back to the States since I got a free checked bag on my international flight. That being said, I only picked up little things in most of the places that I visited at the beginning and then bought more stuff in Dublin because I knew I had the extra space. Some good ideas for great gifts that don’t take up too much space/weigh too much are jewelry (which explains why I have 4 new rings to my name), spices, light-weight scarves, and small figurines.

Pro: A Small Suitcase does a conscious consumer make. The flipside of the above “con” is that having limited space makes you all the more conscious of the things you buy. Because I knew that everything I bought would take me closer to my luggage capacity, I would have to ask myself if I really wanted it. There were a number of things that I would have bought on impulse that weren’t really all that special had I had the space.

Pro: Perspective. As someone who is fairly type-A, I sometimes find myself overwhelmed with things. It’s very easy for me to overthink things and make life way more complicated than it needs to be. Packing light, for me, was refreshing in that it eliminated a lot of stress by allowing me to see that not having everything that I’m used to having is just not that big a deal. I, as many of us, use a lot of products in various capacities throughout my day. But just because I use them doesn’t mean that they’re actually necessary. It sucks to not have both my exfoliating day face-scrub and my skin-toning night facial bar at my disposal but in reality, my day face scrub works perfectly fine at night as well. All of the brain energy that I put into choosing the perfect outfit for a specific outing is really not necessary as it’s ultimately of little real consequence. The simplicity of packing light allowed me to gain a bit of perspective on how little I actually need to “survive” on a day-to-day basis. I’m hoping to take some of this perspective back into my everyday life.

 

GWHG

Summer2014: Palermo and Santorini

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Now that I’m down to only two more hours of my eight-hour flight from Dublin to Chicago, I thought I’d get started on my next post. Hopefully reminiscing about my time in Sicily and Greece will help these last couple of hours fly by….

After Roma, the girls and I headed to Palermo. I was really excited about this since Sicily was one of the few place left in Italy that I really wanted to go to. Sicilian culture has a reputation for being very strong and very distinct from general Italian so I was curious to see what that life was like. We only spent a few nights in Palermo and honestly, I don’t think we needed more. Apparently when most people go to Sicily, they pass through Palermo as a day trip but spend most of their time in the small beach towns. None of us were aware of this, however, so we didn’t plan to leave the city. Palermo was definitely an experience. I found it to have a unique charm compared to other Italian cities, one that isn’t bound up in aesthetic beauty or historical significance and has more to do with its quotidian nature. Sicilians were just living their lives, unphased by the presence of three random American girls. Unlike their cities that heavily cater tourists, Palermo was unmoved, which was refreshing in many ways. There were some churches to peruse and some other small attractions but the great thing about Palermo was its realness. Sometimes, it was a little too real. Heated family arguments in the streets. Men being slapped by women, who I suspect, had done them wrong. While some of these scenes were uncomfortable to witness, the random street gatherings that went on into the wee hours of the morning and the delicious home-cooked style food made us feel more at home despite our obvious foreignness. The Sicilian spirit was definitely alive and thriving in Palermo and it was awesome to soak it up for a while.
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Part of soaking up the Sicilian spirit, for me, was eating lots of caponata. I think I tried it at 5 different places total. I had actually tried to make caponata from a recipe a few months ago without having actually tried it. I was pretty geeked to have it in its region of origin. And you bests believe that it’s on top of my list of vacation-inspired recipes to post on the blog. ;)

Oh so I should mention that we rented a gorgeous apartment in Palermo. Probably the most beautiful apartment we stayed in. The view was great.

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When we weren’t enjoying the gorgeous apartment, we were either eating or at Ciocolatta Lorenzo. This cafe stands out in Palermo as it definitely does not fit the model of the typical Sicilian cafe. It feels like a little bit of Brooklyn thrown into Palermo. With free wifi, delicious coffee, scrumptious baked goods, and a beautiful outdoor sitting area, it’s not surprising that the girls and I fell in love with this place. The people working there were also awesome. The one guy, who we called Lorenzo despite not actually knowing that to be his name, spoke to me in French. This was flattering in the sense that he took my French to be relatively good and weird in the sense that he assumed me to be French before American despite the fact that most of my friends were speaking American English. #blackgirltravelstruggles

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Since I still have at least an hour left, I’m just gonna jump right into Santorini. Despite this probably being my favorite stop on my trip, I don’t know that I have a ton to say about it. It was more about being there and taking in all of the island’s beauty than about doing specific activities. Oh and eating! Backtrack: It was about taking it’s the islands beauty and eating.

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I knew I loved Greek food before ever having gone to Greece but eating in Santorini has really sealed the deal for me. Simple, fresh, healthy ingredients that deliver incredible taste. What more could anyone ask for gastronomically? I’ll just this time to give you a visual recap while I try to keep myself from drooling.

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While I pretty much loved everything I at in Santorini, the resto that Sooze and I went to on our last night definitely takes the cake. It’s called Nikolas and it’s located in Fira (also written was Thira) in the main center of the island. We were staying in Oia (pronounced Eeya) which is at the Northern tip of the island while Fira is more towards the midpoint. We ate in Oia on most occasions but after eating at Nikolas, we wished that we would have spent more time eating in Fira. Oh my goodness, so yummy. This place is an absolute MUST GO when visiting Santorini. It was unreal.

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In addition to eating, I did get out on the water. On our last day, I did a boat tour that started at the tip of the island and came up the caldera, stopping at the red and white beaches as well as the hot springs. It was quite lovely. They crew suggested that we sit on the front of the boat, the very front with out feet dangling off so that when we went down into a wave, we got wet. It was sooooo much fun. I felt like a kid again.

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The girls and I also went to chill in the black sand at Perissa Beach for an afternoon. I had a little bit too much fun playing with my champagne in the sand and taking photos. I had grandiose plans of posting a cool picture of my feet on the black sand and hashtagging it “blackonblack” but that dream never came to fruition.

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So that’s actually pretty much it. I would like to go back to both Sicily and Santorini but will definitely go beyond Palermo next time. I still have flying time left but the onboard entertainment is calling my name so I’m out!

Next post Istanbul!

Sabs