Currently – v.03 {2015}

Being Suki

Loving that it’s officially spring and that the days are only getting longer.

Loathing procrastination. Unfortunately, I’m quite good at it.

Watching more Gilmore Girls – I’m still on season one after all this time!

Feeling refreshed. Ryan and I took some time off work earlier this week to get away. With Fresca in the backseat, we drove down to the super dog-friendly Carmel. We went to the beach, drank wine, and took it easy.

Currently Currently

Planning our upcoming trip to Belgium. I’ve finally booked all of our accommodations for the trip, so we have a general idea of what areas we will be in. The plan is to start off the 2-week trip in Brussels, Ghent and Bruges. The second half of the trip, we will drive all over, including a day with a guide in Bastogne (significance during WWII).

CurrentlyWorking on a life audit. After reading this post, I’ve been inspired to take on this task myself. It resembles the 101 in 1001 lists I used to do.

Wishing for clarity. The reason I did the life audit was to do a bit of self spring cleaning. After attending the 2015 Women in Leadership conference recently, my desire for growth and career development has been reignited.

I have a few ideas brewing in the back of my mind. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to save up enough money, as well as prepare myself for being at the bottom of a huge learning curve.

Looking forward to weekend wine tasting. The winery we are a member of is offering a Riedel tasting workshop. We bought tickets for Ryan’s mom and his boyfriend as a Christmas gift, and it’s finally happening this weekend. I’m always excited for wine tasting and learning!

What are you currently up to?

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See New Mexico : White Sands National Monument and a Full Moon Hike

Travel

I first heard about White Sands National Monument in Abby’s post about her road trip to the West Coast. Seeing the photos of such a surreal spot put it at the top of my list of national parks to check out. I knew that we would have to visit if we were ever in New Mexico.

You know where this is going, right? After all, we were in New Mexico in October.


White Sands National Monument at twilight

With Alamogordo and White Sands National Monument a little under 200 miles away from where we were staying, we decided to make a day trip of it. It would be a lot of driving, but we knew we didn’t want to get to the dunes until late afternoon (when it wouldn’t be as hot). We started off in the AM, making stops along the way and found ourselves at White Sands around 4:30 in the afternoon.

It felt like we had arrived on another planet.


We played in the dunes for a bit. Considering it was late afternoon, it was still quite hot out. It probably didn’t help that the heat was reflecting off the sand.



At 6:30, we joined a ranger-led full moon hike.

Seven times a year between the months of May and October, White Sands National Monument hosts a full moon hike, giving visitors the opportunity to visit the sand dunes under the light of the full moon. Our trip coincided with the full moon, and we were lucky enough to score two spots on the hike. Registration opens two weeks before each hike with spots for 40 participants, so a little bit of pre-planning is advised.

White Sands was already on our list, so the full moon hike was definitely the icing on top!




As the sun set and the moon rose, we relied heavily on our eyes adjusting to the darkness and using the moonlight to guide us. The temperatures dropped just a little bit, so we were glad to have an extra layer with us. Our ranger led us around the dunes, all the while explaining what plants and animals survive in this somewhat harsh environment. Most of our photo taking took place during twilight, but I did get this shot after dark.

Full Moon Hike at White Sands National Monument

The website makes the hike seem more strenuous than it is. It’s always better to be a bit more cautious anyway. If a full moon hike isn’t your thing, there are a few other options. As always, any trip to a national park is so worthwhile. More information on other tour options: here!

Visit White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument Visitor Center
19955 Highway 70 West
Alamagordo, NM 88310
575.479.6124
More info: website

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Forage #3 : Braised Paprika Octopus with Wild Rice

Cooking, Reviews

When Forage asked over Instagram whether or not they should include octopus on the menu, the seafood lover in me made sure my voice was heard. Since I’m the type to follow through with my vote/word, I signed up for another week of the meal delivery service! They also happened to have Kokkari’s famous lamb meatballs on the menu that week, so it was a pretty easy decision.

Forage - Braised Paprika Octopus with Wild Rice

We chopped up the octopus at the end for easier consumption, but yes, it came as a tentacle, suckers and all. Just as pictured below.

Forage Forage
The insulated bag and recipe card with the instructions.

Forage - Ingredients
Ingredients labeled and pre-prepared

The onion juices got everywhere, but for the most part, the ingredients came in their own individually pre-sealed packs.

The recipe was SO SIMPLE. It helps that everything they pack up for you is ready to go. You just cut open the pouches and put them in when the recipe calls for them.

Forage Forage

I heated the cast iron, threw the wild rice in with the sauce and onions, and then seared the octopus when the wild rice was all done.

Final result! Look at that tentacle…

Forage - Braised Paprika Octopus with Wild Rice

The Good – It took about 20 minutes! Finally, I was able to get my cooking time down. This is probably my favorite of the three meals that we’ve gotten so far. The octopus was tender and delicious. I definitely wouldn’t normally go out and buy octopus, though it might occasionally make its way into our kitchen through our seafood CSA. The portions were the perfect size.

Our last meal, cured rabbit, was a little on the salty side. Knowing that, I opted to use less lemon vinaigrette on the salad and less sauce over the wild rice. It was a good call because even with the smaller quantities we used, there was enough flavor with each bite.

The Bad – None really. Unfortunately, they ran out of the lamb meatballs, but I still did get my octopus! They credited us for that half of the meal, but instead of $ back onto our credit card, it’s a credit towards a future purchase. Not that we mind too much…

We really enjoyed the octopus, and I know we’ll be ordering from them when we’re too busy to think up dishes on our own.

About Forage – We Gather. You Cook.

Forage is a weekly subscription service that delivers fresh/pre-prepped ingredients that enable you to replicate restaurant recipes in 20 minutes or less. With Forage, you can stop wasting time figuring out what to make, searching for parking at the grocery store and throwing away food that goes bad before you get a chance to eat it.

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My Five Favorite Ways to Relieve Stress

Partners

I consider myself fairly lucky. My life isn’t particularly stressful, or at least I try not to let it get to me too much. Sometimes those things that cause worry are unavoidable (like finances, health trouble, and work woes), but it’s really all about how you let it (or NOT) affect you. Here are my five favorite ways for relieving stress (no particular order):

1) Gratitude

My top method for coping with a stressful circumstance is practicing gratitude. This little exercise can be done in a journal, out loud, or even just to yourself. It helps to take note of all the things that are going your way in life. It puts into perspective all the stresses and also helps to determine whether or not something needs to change in order for it to stop stressing you out.

2) Massage

About four years ago, I found a massage therapist with a practice in my neighborhood. He was reasonably priced and accommodating with my schedule. Since then, I’ve gone in once every month and a half or two months for “maintenance.”

I am a sucker for a good massage, however. Even between these massages, I sometimes “cheat” and find a cheap Chinese foot massage place where a foot massage is really a full body massage. My body feels wonderful, and the tension of the worries melt away.

3) Surrounding Yourself with Love (Animals Encouraged)

Love and animals! They love you no matter what. Somehow, they know when you’re down and need a few extra snuggles. Definitely one of my favorite ways to cope with stress. They’re particularly helpful for keeping you grounded in the here and now. Their only concerns are of the present, not the past or future.

Fresca

4) Sleep

Super important and one that I easily take for granted. The more rested you are, the better you can function. Sleeping well can clear your mind of all the clutter that life brings.

5) Exercise

This one is new for me since I wasn’t really that into exercising before. BUT, I’m 100% behind it. Getting those endorphins from physical activity and sweating it out really helps in dealing with stress. If the gym or a fitness class isn’t your thing, head outside for some fresh air. I recently joined ClassPass, and I love that I can try out different studios in the area.

RESCUE Remedy

Stress is a normal part of life and a little bit is actually healthy. Having ways to deal is great, but sometimes I can’t stop my day and hit the gym, schedule a massage appointment or get some extra sleep. That’s when something like RESCUE Remedy can come in handy!

RESCUE Remedy RESCUE Remedy
RESCUE Pastilles

Developed by a doctor, RESCUE Remedy comes in a variety of forms to help you relax, stay calm and feel less stress. The products are natural/homeopathic, gentle and safe. It’s tax season for this number cruncher, so it’s definitely something I’m keeping handy during the busiest times at work!

What stresses you out and how do you manage that stress?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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February 2015 in Pictures

Creativity Strikes!

The shortest month of the year more or less breezed by. Hard to believe we’re just about getting through the first quarter. I tagged fewer photos with the #365infocus project hashtag, but still managed to do a pretty good job of posting daily.

The format changed a bit because for some bizarre reason, the application I was using to download Instagram photos started spitting out files that couldn’t be opened up by Photoshop. I found a work-around through Lightroom, but it takes a few extra steps.

Without further ado, here’s February 2015:

February 2015 in Pictures

Lots of Fresca photos. She’s somehow managed to injure herself, but we haven’t yet found the cause. The spot right above her nose has gotten scraped up. Any close-ups of her now will reveal a missing patch of fur.

Ryan and I enjoyed Valentine’s dinner at our friends’ pop-up in Oakland. We also saw the Keith Haring exhibit at the de Young before it left town.

If you get a chance to see Batkid Begins, I highly recommend it. It’s an uplifting movie that will make your eyes water just a little bit. We were invited to the local screening for participating in a Clever Girls campaign awhile back.

I wrapped up the month by attending the informative and inspirational Women’s Travel Fest over the weekend.

How was your February?

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