Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Why Yoga

If there's anything I've determined in my twenties, it's that life is crazy. It never slows down when you're working full time, building a foundation on your career and marriage, making an effort to spend time with friends and family, being there for your coworkers and trying at least in some capacity to stay sane. There has to be an outlet (or a few)--whether it's jogging, reading, going to church, cooking dinner, or binge-watching episodes of Downton Abbey (guilty). 

These days, I've turned to yoga as an outlet a couple times a week. Why Yoga?
...Because it feels so good to stretch for long periods of time. When I used to play basketball in high school, all I really wanted to do was lay there and stretch while my teammates ran endless drills. 
...Because it kicks my butt. We need to push our bodies out of their comfort zone sometimes. Keeps us humble. 
...Because it makes me feel strong...a six pack is literally impossible, but sexy shoulders? I'm in.
...Because it's important to feel ridiculous once in a while (seriously, duck pose is just not happening...)
...Because yoga is really just practicing breathing, which we all need to learn to do once in a while in this crazy life.

Our instructor says that if you are aware of your breath, you are practicing yoga. I always think of waves pulling in and pushing out as I breathe.

*Photos from our honeymoon in Costa Rica during one of the greatest sunsets I've ever seen.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday thoughts

Oh, hello, Monday, you old buzzkill. I used to think everyone around me had an easier time coping with life. But growing up is the realization that we are all experiencing the same feelings. 

We all cry, we all pray, we all get furious, we all doubt ourselves, we all screw up, we all want to be the cool kid, we all miss our moms, we all have bad habits, we all accidentally explode food in the microwave, we all have secrets big and small, we all fight the urge to run away, we all crave childhood summers, we all wish for more time, we all want a better life…

Of course these are generalizations, but you get the picture. We’re all human. As Plato is quoted as saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”

In 2014, I've promised myself to practice thankfulness -- being more mindful of the good coming my way in life. There is so much to be thankful for. 


Monday, December 9, 2013

A day in the mandarin orchards

Wintertime in our region means bountiful citrus in the form of a delicious little superfruit called the mandarin orange. I'll eat three in a row without hesitation every day in December. No joke. Last year, Andrew and I checked out the Mountain Mandarin Festival for the first time, and this weekend, we toured a few farms during Orchard Days. Mandarin farmers in five towns open up their storefronts, barns, homes and fields to the public, to offer fresh fruit by the pound and other mandarin goodies like mandarin-enhanced honey, chocolate sauce, barbecue sauce, olive oil, you name it...

View the grower map HERE, and read on to see our adventure...

Monday, November 4, 2013

How to make a wreath of leaves

Sometimes Sundays feel like a "last chance" day. I'm cramming in errands, baking, getting a head start on the work week and catching up on things around the house. And of course, we're supposed to relax and watch movies and generally do nothing in between there as well, right? 

On Saturday, we went on a hike in Auburn along the river and on the way back stopped for lunch at Ikeda's Market. Out front, they were selling these beautiful leaf wreathes for like $15.99 each. I was tempted to buy one, knowing our front door was sullenly bare, but I resisted, listening to that voice that says "you could make that!" ...or the one that shouts "no more spending money this month!" We all know that last voice.

I was out in the front yard yesterday noticing all the beautiful leaves from the neighbor's maple tree that had fallen to the ground. They were just too beautiful to on to see how to make your own wreath...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Secret banana "ice cream"

Fall is here!!! Kinda...I'm dying to slip on my boots again, and the forecast still shows temps in the 70s. So, with warm California weather still hanging on, I thought I'd share my new favorite frozen dessert recipe. And listen up! It's the easiest recipe in the world. No, really. It has two ingredients and results are the consistency of Wendy's frosty. Ok, now you're listening...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

DIY wedding guest (photo) book

I knew I didn't want a traditional guest book for wedding guests to simply write their name on a line like an attendance record. I wanted them to do a little work and to write us something nice and heartfelt or funny we could look back on for years (Andrew and I are both writers, after all). :) But I wasn't into the Jenga pieces, thumbprint trees, river rocks and other off-beat guest books you might see at weddings nowadays. They are awesome and creative, but it was hard for me to imagine them lasting a long time or being displayed after the wedding. I also wanted a way we could keep a small album of our engagement photos. So, I decided to make a photo album that guests could sign...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Our wedding

I'm sure you've heard many couples say that their wedding day was the best day of their lives. I've had many best days, but all I know is I've never been as happy and had as much fun as our wedding weekend. And even when you try to breathe and soak it all in, it still flies by too quickly. It was magical summer night with sunlight gleaming through the trees long into the evening, laughter everywhere we turned and a super moon shining overhead as we danced. 

It's funny how everything you planned so intently, everything you scheduled and thought out and mulled over for months can all wash away in your mind as you get caught up in the day. It's easy to just go through the motions and worry things won't go as planned. But it's better to just kick back and let it all happen. Not everything went just as I had planned it to a tee (the guys forgot their boutonnieres, my dress bustle ripped), but looking back it all went as perfect as a wedding day can go. Because in the end, as a friend told me, it's really not that day that matters most, it's every single day afterward. 

And there's a little white church on a hill in Bodega that will always remind us of June 22, 2013.

Here are a few of my favorite moments...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The red bookshelf

When Andrew and I moved into our house in Sacramento, we inherited an old bookshelf my parents had in their "to donate/sell/get rid of now that the kids are out of the house" pile. :) It was stained wood and a had a little wear and tear from over the years. So I went on a journey to the bright-chandelier-lit, mega hardware store that is Home Depot and sought out the perfect shade. 

I decided red would make our living room pop. I bought some sandpaper, a paintbrush and a pint of Glidden's "Red Delicious" paint. The guy at the paint counter warned me: don't be surprised if it goes on pink first.

And it did.

I sanded it first, slapped on a rough first coat and polished it off with a more detailed second coat. 

A little tip: When you're buying paint, step outside of the store with your color swatches to see how they look in natural sunlight. You'll be amazed how different color looks compared to under those florescent store lights. 

Another tip: don't forget the underside of the shelfs! I did. Saving that project for another weekend!

And here's the final product... every house should have a red bookshelf, right? :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First summer storm

We had our first storm of the summer yesterday. It poured up in Grass Valley when I was home and then again down here in Sacramento around dinner time. 

Our patio flooded, the cats stared out the back door in awe...and then the sun came out...that amazing orange-gold glow that can only happen after a good rainstorm. I ran to get my camera in the bedroom because the natural lighting was too good to pass up. 

When I came out to the backyard again and looked up at the sky, a huge rainbow had appeared. Don't you just love nature?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Summer fruit tart

I probably should be blogging about my wedding and showing you honeymoon photos, but FIRST, a recipe. Summer is one of my favorite times to experiment with cooking. Blackberries and peaches and everything yummy is in season, and the days are longer so the oven can come on when it cools off at night. This galette recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook (a Bible of baking tips and drool-worthy photography - shout out to Erin for gifting me this as a wedding present!). 

The actual recipe uses apricots and blackberries, but I substituted for what I had (peaches from the Natomas farmers market and plums from a neighbor's tree. I also used Martha's regular pie crust recipe, because I didn't have cornmeal for the pâte brisée recipe. So, it's a total adaptation - I can never really truly exactly follow a recipe to its exact specifications. I blame my mother for this trait. :)

For the pie filling, mix the following:
- Ripe or overripe summer fruit (peaches, blackberries, apricots, plums, etc.), sliced 
- A handful of sugar
- A few tablespoons of flour (or more depending on how wet your fruit is)

For the crust:
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1 1/4 stick butter 
- 1/2 cup ice water (very cold - this is the secret!)

Mix the flour, salt and sugar. Cut in the butter until the mix is crumbly and not lumpy. Pour in the ice water to form a dough.
Roll out the dough in a large circle and place in a pie plate. Pour in the fruit mix and bring in the edges of the dough in overlapping folds. Brush the edges with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar (optional but a really good idea). Bake about one hour or until the crust is golden brown. Let set at least 10 mins before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream (also optional and also a really good idea). 

This tart is also really good the next day after spending a night in the refrigerator. 

Yum, yum, yum. I want to make another one...