“It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas….”

29 Nov

We are finally all settled into our new casa, and just in time with Christmas fast approaching!!  I love the holiday season, and Christmastime is my favorite.  I always get especially nostalgic with the smells of cinnamon, pine, and gingerbread floating in the air.  I love how all the twinkly lights instill a warm cozy feeling even though the air outside is crisp.  And the sounds of Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” always makes my heart grow three sizes.

When you travel cross country as frequently as we do it isn’t really reasonable to lug  a bunch of Christmas decorations along.  So to avoid a hefty price tag, we had to be creative, and take advantage of the wonderful sales going on at Michael’s.  (It’s a good thing since we used 1200 lights for our tree!!)  We chose to keep our tree simple with poinsettias, pine cones, and a big bow topper (which I made myself!)  One of my favorite traditions has become to collect an ornament or two from all the places we have traveled to, and I was excited to finally be able to add some to our tree this year!!

A Christmas Cable Car

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We found these at The Christmas Store in Gig Harbor, WA

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Mele Kalikimaka

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We found our most perfect tree on the eve of  Thanksgiving (I know, I know “It’s not even Thanksgiving.” )  It happened to be the most convenient option for us, and in my defense we didn’t actually decorate until after Thanksgiving.  After we hauled our 8.5 foot Oregonian Douglas Fir up 2 flights of stairs we were so glad we didn’t go for a bigger tree.  With 1/2 a foot of space left from the top it could not have been a more perfect fit.

I’m still working on a centerpiece for our table, and maybe a few other decorations, but it’s beginning to feel a lot more like Christmas!!  I hope everyone has a happy holiday season!!

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Another New “Home Sweet Home”

25 Nov

I am still stuffed from a wonderful turkey day thanks to my brother and sister-in-law, her lovely parents, and the best neice and nephews a girl could ask for. Thanksgiving is always a great time to pause and reflect on the things you are most thankful for, and I love scrolling through various social media feeds and seeing all that everyone is blessed to have. One of the things I’m most thankful for this season is the ability to travel in such a unique way.  We have been able to explore so many great locations, and our newest one is no exception.

I absolutely love our new “home.” Our newest adventure has brought us to the South Bay of San Francisco where we will spend the next 3 months in lovely Sunnyvale, CA. I instantly fell in love from the moment we drove into our new neighborhood. The tree lined streets, bright fall colors, and views of the Santa Cruz mountains from every direction are just a few of the things that had me hooked.

The weather has been perfect. Highs in the 70s, lows in the 40s, and blue skies for the most part.  We live less than a block from the Cal train station which takes us into San Francisco.  There are tons of restaurants, wineries, and outdoor activities all at our convenience.  Not to mention things to do in San Francisco alone.

Historic Murphy Avenue is just a short walk away and makes up a block of quaint shops, delicious restaurants, and every Saturday is home to one of the best farmer’s markets I’ve ever been to.

Historic Murphy Avenue

Yummy Asian Pears

Farmer's Market

Farmer's Market

They have tons of fresh organic produce, fresh flowers, and even fresh fish. (We were especially excited to find Hawaiian Ono, Ahi tuna, and Pokē!)  There are also a lot of little food booths and live music, including a steel drummer!

Steel Drums

I can easily see this becoming a weekly ritual.

I love exploring a new community, and it is quickly becoming apparent that it will be easy to call this place home (at least for 3 months:)). 

Savory Bread Pudding with Spinach & Mushrooms

24 Nov

About 4 months ago Tyler and I decided to start following a pescetarian diet. Which basically means we don’t eat any meat, but we still eat seafood.  We thought the holidays would be a little tricky, but it turns out there are tons of delicious meatless recipes to choose from.  When Tyler suggested a savory spinach and mushroom bread pudding I have to say I was a bit apprehensive.  But it turned  out to be so yummy I had to share.

Bread Pudding

   

   INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 3 1/2 cups cubed stale whole-wheat country bread
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion, (1 medium)
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper, (1 small)
  • 4 cups sliced mushrooms, (12 ounces)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère, Emmentaler or Manchego cheese (3 ounces), divided

   PREPARATION

  1. Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add milk, hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; whisk until blended. Add bread and stir to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat an 8-by-8-inch (or similar 8-cup) ceramic or glass baking dish with cooking spray. Put a kettle of water on to boil for the water bath.
  3. Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain, refresh with cold water and squeeze out excess moisture. Set aside.
  4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until tender and golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic; stir to blend. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until any excess moisture from the mushrooms has evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
  5. Add the mushroom mixture and 1/2 cup cheese to the egg mixture; stir until blended. Scrape into the prepared baking dish; sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese evenly over the top. Place the baking dish in a larger pan, put in the oven and pour boiling water into the larger pan to about halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake until the pudding is set in the center, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool slightly; serve hot or warm.

We got the recipe from Eating Well which always has delicious healthy recipes.  It takes some time to prepare (I gave myself an hour), but it’s totally worth it!!  Enjoy!!

Resolving Resolutions (or getting there)

18 Nov

Thanksgiving is less than a week away!! I can’t believe how fast time has flown by. Before we know it Christmas will have come and gone and it will be time to implement my New Year’s resolutions. I have been doing some research, but I need to get on the ball.

A friend recommended a great free podcast that teaches you to speak Spanish. It’s called Coffee Break Spanish, and its so easy to follow. It’s kinda funny because the two people teaching the lessons are Scottish. So you have these people with really thick Scottish accents teaching you Spanish. I’ve listened to a few lessons already and really enjoyed it. There is also an option to buy more course materials for more visual learners like myself. I still don’t know if it’s going to be the language course I select, but it’s nice to know I have choices. I recommend checking it out if you’re looking to learn Spanish. And I welcome any advice from others who have found courses they liked.

Spanish

I have also been giving some thought to what biographies I would like to read, and have been polling suggestions. Naturally I googled the top best selling biographies, and one that caught my eye was Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.Its the story of an air force lieutenant who was one of three survivors of a plane crash that left him stranded in the Pacific Ocean for days only to be taken as a POW of the Japanese military. I actually saw an episode of shark week that told this very intriguing story, and the book came highly recommended by my mother in law. I think this and Steve Jobs’ biography are on my list, but I’m still taking suggestions. Any advice?

The one resolution I have been considering the most, however, is the commitment to do no less than 10 minutes of cardio 5 days a week. Especially after three weeks of travel, unhealthy eating, and virtually no exercise other than walking the Vegas strip in one day. I. feel. worthless.

The whole point of committing to this particular resolution is to improve consistency right? That is why I chose 10 minutes. I mean, let’s be honest, no matter how tired, unmotivated, or blah you feel 10 minutes of activity is easy peasy. Whether you choose to hop on the treadmill, go for a quick dip in the pool, or take a brisk walk, 10 minutes is nothing.

I have decided to conduct an experiment, and I have recruited my best friend Kate over at Hesson Haus to join me. I know how easy it can be to incorporate this amount of sustained cardio activity into my schedule everyday, but I was curious about what type of results I could actually achieve when it comes to weight loss. I have decided to monitor these results for a span of 30 days.

So here are the rules:

  • During this time I will do NO MORE, but NO LESS than 10 minutes of cardio activity every single day. I will try incorporate some weight training when I can, but the commitment of cardio will be consistent. That is the point after all.
  • I will weigh myself once a week. I have a very handy scale that measures weight, body fat percentage, and muscle mass. I will also monitor any changes in my body measurements.
  • Kate & I will post results each week. Accountability is a great motivator, and having a partner helps to ensure success.

I hypothesize that, for me, the difference in the numbers I see on the scale will be minimal, as in no more than a 5 pound weight loss. I believe it takes a more rigorous routine to see big results, but it takes consistency to maintain those results. I also predict that my overall feeling of well being will improve, and being healthy and feeling good is the most important thing.

My goal in this experiment is to develop a routine that will make it easier for me to stick to my resolution, and more importantly help to establish a lifelong routine of a healthy active lifestyle. Hopefully, it serves to inspire others along the way. All it takes is 10 minutes. Join us! And link back to this post if you want!  The Countdown begins Monday!

exercise

“Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning’s End”

12 Nov

Wow!!  It has been nonstop for the past few weeks!!  We have been busy checking things off our Maui bucket list, visiting friends and family back home, and driving cross country for our next adventure.

During our last week on Maui we were able to fit in one more awesome surf day, a day of scuba diving off the coast of Lanai, and hiking Four Falls one last time (My favorite hike on the island!  Blog post to come.)  Saying goodbye was hard.   The friendships and memories we made left us feeling like we were leaving home again, but as much as it saddened me to leave I have no doubt we will be back.  I feel we will always be spiritually tied to the island in some way, so instead of saying goodbye, I say a hui hou, which means until we meet again.

Maui No Ka Oi

After checking off our Maui bucket list we hopped on a plane and headed back home where we spent a week catching up on some much needed quality family time, as well as visiting with great friends.  One week is never enough time to see everyone and do all that we want (especially when our week is interrupted by having to have one of my wisdom teeth out…ugh!), but we were grateful for the time we had.  It’s funny how traveling makes me really appreciate home, but going home makes me really appreciate the opportunity to get away.  What do you think that means?

Once we got our fill of  Port city we headed out for a 5 day road trip that included an opportunity to take in the beauty of the Grand Canyon, and a 2 night stay in Vegas, baby!!  I think I was more in awe of Vegas than the Grand Canyon.  I mean, seriously, the extravagance of it all was amazing.  It was sensory overload.

At first I didn’t really think Vegas was going to be all that much fun for us.  We don’t really party anymore.  We don’t gamble often because I never, ever win.  Ever.  And we prefer to go to bed at the reasonable hour of 9 pm because we like our early morning coffee time together.  Yeah, I guess we are just a couple of old fuddy-duddy’s.  I prefer the term “old souls”.  We didn’t think we would ever plan a trip just to go to Vegas so, since it was on the way we decided to spend a day exploring.

It turns out we had a blast!!  We stayed at the Luxor, and got a great upgrade to an 800 sq. ft. spa suite on the 22nd floor, complete with a sitting room that included a purple velvet fold out couch.  Classy!  We took our time walking the strip, ducking in and out of all the hotel casinos and enjoying all the over the top details.  I even gambled some.  And won!!  Tyler was not as fortunate.  All in all it was a great time, and I would recommend a trip to check out the glitz and glamour of “Sin City” to anyone!

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San Francisco Peaks

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

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Vegas

Vegas

Vegas

Vegas

Vegas

Vegas

2,000 miles and 4 hotels later we reachedour new home sweet home!  At least for the next 3 months.  One of the things I like most about travel nursing is that most contracts are 13 weeks, and that is the perfect amount of time to truly get to know a place; to immerse yourself in a different culture and experience somewhere different like a local.  Traveling has definitely helped me to be a more open minded person, and the knowledge I have gained from meeting so many different people is invaluable.

Every new location has also taught me something about myself I didn’t know.  In Washington I discovered a new found enjoyment for the outdoors, and hiking and camping became some of our favorite past times.  I absolutely loved the cath lab I worked at in Austin, and I gained an even clearer sense of confidence for my skill as a cardiac nurse.  The opportunities to learn were innumerable.  In Maui I became very connected with nature and grew a real appreciation for all the beauty the Earth has to offer.

I also can’t believe how much Tyler and I have grown over the last year.  Traveling definitely has its challenges, but Tyler and I welcome them together.  We have learned so much about each other living this nomadic life that we otherwise may not have discovered.  I am so excited to see all that the bay area has in store for us, and I look forward to finding out what I will learn next!

 

Kalalau Trail

23 Oct

After much research, Kalalau trail was at the top of my list of trails to hike while we were on Kauai.  It offered a great physical challenge, lots of adventure, and plenty of beautiful views.  Round trip the hike is 22 miles and would require us to pack in food and equipment, and would take at least 2 days to complete.  Sounds amazing right?!?!  But with only 6 days to explore the island we knew we would have to plan that experience for another trip.  Ugh, I guess we are gonna have to go back to Kaui! 😉 

We decided instead to hike the first 2 miles in to Hanakapiai Beach and back.  It was an amazing experience, and definitely motivated our desire to complete the whole thing.

It took about 20-25 minutes to reach the trail head from our B&B.  Parking was tricky, but we finally found a good spot.  We started a little later in the day than we had planned, around 1115, but it worked out great.  There were definitely lots of people hiking, but it wasn’t overly crowded.  There were even times when it felt like we were the only two on the trail.

Hiking

Hiking

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The trail was well tread and meandered on for two miles.

Hiking

Hiking

Hiking

Hiking

Hiking

hiking

hiking

Hiking

I was astounded when we caught our first glimpse of the Na Pali coast.

Hiking

The views were jaw dropping the whole way.

hiking

Hiking

Kalalau Trail

Hiking

HikingHiking

Hiking

 Hanakapiai Beach finally came into view.

Hiking

We knew we were really close when we saw this sign.

hiking

(Paradise sure can be dangerous)

We eventually came to Hanakapiai stream….

hiking

….where we boulder hopped….

hiking

….all the way down to….

hiking

….Hanakapiai Beach.

Hanakapiai Beach

Hanakapiai Beach

We stopped for some rest and a snack, and made a new friend before heading back.

Hiking

Kalalau trail is definitely on my top 5 list of favorite hikes.  If you are ever on the island I recommend checking it out.  Even if you only walked a mile or so in you wouldn’t be disappointed.

New Year’s Resolutions

22 Oct

Okay, okay I know what you’re thinking….It’s not even Halloween!  How can you be thinking of New Year’s Resolutions?  Well, I say to you, you can never plan too far ahead for anything:).

I recently had a discussion with Tyler about all the things in my life I have always wanted to accomplish, but never really thought were possible; become fluent in spanish, learn to cook like Giada De Laurentiis, play the piano and the list goes on and on.  I decided these things weren’t impossible, they just require the initiative and discipline to follow through.

I got really excited as we were talking, and decided I would set goals for myself 3 at a time.  I promptly voiced that my first three goals would be to learn Spanish, play the piano, and train for a sprint triathlon.  Tyler just looked at me and shook his head.

What? I could totally do it.

He nicely suggested I not take on so much at one time because I might get burned out more easily and give up.  I hate when he’s right.  Then I remembered a blog post I read by A Beautiful Mess.  I was inspired.  I decided to be more specific in my goals, but instead of giving myself until 2013 to accomplish them, I would turn them into resolutions for the year.  I wanted goals that would have a positive impact on my life and would stimulate my brain.

So here are my 2013 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Learn Spanish.  Becoming fluent in Spanish would be an amazing accomplishment for me.  When I worked a contract in Austin, TX, a lot of my patients spoke Spanish as there first language.  It was then that I started seriously thinking about learning to speak it.  Although we had translators, I think it would have been so much more therapeutic if I would have been able to communicate with them on a more personal level.  Spanish is such a beautiful language, and I think being bilingual  opens up so many doors in that you are able to understand a different culture in a whole new way.
  2. Read 1 Biography every 3 months.  I love, love, love to read.  But I have noticed rarely do I read anything other than fiction novels.  Unless you count Redbook or Women’s Health magazines. I don’t.  There is just something about taking a break from the everyday, and getting lost in another world.  But its time to expand my library.  People are fascinating, and I always love to hear stories of perseverance & rising above it all, or just how someone handles what life throws their way.  I thought that reading trues stories about notable celebrities, historical figures, or successful moguls might inspire me.  At the very least I think broadening my library will introduce me to new writing styles which could prove to be very influential.
  3. Do at least 10 minutes of cardio exercise 5 days a week.   This may actually be more difficult than learning Spanish.  Just kidding.  I actually like being active.  However, I would not call myself a “gym person.”  On average I probably work out 2-3 times per week, and some of that is in the gym on the treadmill or elliptical and doing strength training exercises.  But a lot of it is done by just getting outdoors and having fun, which I prefer.  I love hiking, biking, surfing, playing (at) tennis, swimming, etc.  However, I don’t see the types of results when it comes to weight loss that I would like.

Part of this is probably my diet, but a lot of it has to do with consistency.  I will be really diligent about going to the gym for a few weeks, and then life happens and before I know it it’s been a month since I’ve been.  My overall goal is to be as healthy as I can be.  I figure if I do that everything else will fall into place.

I hear all the time you should try to do at least 10 minutes of activity everyday.  So that is what my goal is, to strive for consistency.  Sure there will be days when I do more than 10 minutes of cardio, but for 5 days of the week there won’t be any less than that.  Wish me luck!

So why, you ask, am I planning these resolutions so far in advance.  Well, for someone who likes to gather as much information as I possibly can, this gives me plenty of time to formulate a plan.  I find that I am more successful with the follow through if I have an outline or strategy in place.  A little neurotic I know, but it works for me!!

I have two months to research the types of biographies that would be most interesting to me, and the best way to go about learning Spanish whether it be Rosetta Stone or taking a class.  It also gives me time to work out an exercise routine that works for me.  Although, I may have to start working on this resolution a little earlier with the season of eating upon us.  

I like the idea of blogging about my progress because it helps hold me accountable. Hope you enjoy my journey, and as always any suggestions for good books to read, resources to learn from or just healthy encouragement are welcome!