Sunday, April 12, 2015

Petra Elizabeth

On February 23, 2015, the best thing happened to us. Our daughter was born! In the last year, we've done and seen some amazing things, but all of that pales in comparison to the joy our Petra Elizabeth brings us everyday. It's incredible how something so small can bring so much happiness. She's currently only 11 pounds and fits easily in our lap, but the fact that she is a living, breathing creature that was created from nothing is just incredible. She blows my mind every day by simply being. And the sweetness of holding her while she sleeps on my chest? Don't get me started. I don't think there's a better high in the world.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Homemade Biscuits

I've always loved biscuits. There's something about them that feels so right--like a warm hug on a cold day. Sadly, I've always believed that biscuits are also really difficult to make. Well, last Saturday was a glorious day because I was proven wrong! Delicious biscuits can actually be quite easy. As I pulled these out of the oven within about 20 minutes of starting the recipe, I exclaimed to myself, "Well, call me Betty Crocker!" That is how I felt. The texture, the taste, and the simplicity...these are perfect. 

Homemade Biscuits
Yield: 8 biscuits
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup buttermilk*

*To make buttermilk, pour 2 teaspoons of vinegar in a measuring cup, then add milk until you reach 2/3 cup line. Let sit for five minutes before adding to ingredients.

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt, and baking soda. Next, cut chilled butter into dry ingredients using a pastry cutter (or a fork if you're like me and don't own a pastry cutter) until mixture is crumbly. Then add buttermilk and mix with a fork. Knead the dough a few times on a lightly floured surface.

Roll or press dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Then using a circle cookie cutter (or glass, or measuring cup--whatever you can get your hands on that is the shape of a circle), cut into circles and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until fluffy and slightly browned, about 10-12 minutes.



**Serving Suggestion: Serve with honey butter. Simply mix equal parts honey and softened butter, then spread on biscuits. Enjoy. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

South and Southeast Asia in 7 Months


What a trip. Bradford and I dreamed and talked about traveling to South and Southeast Asia together since basically the day we met and he couldn't stop talking about the time he'd recently spent in India. He was so passionate and enthusiastic about his time there that it made me want to hop on the next plane there. Well, it took about six years, but we finally did it. In February 2014, we purchased one-way tickets to Bangkok. In April, I quit my job, and in May, we were gone. We visited 8 countries and 86 cities in seven months.

Before leaving, we had a rough idea of where we wanted to go, but that's it. We booked everything as we went, rarely planning things out more than a few days in advance. We decided to stick to South and Southeast Asia for a couple of reasons: (1) this region of the world is so far from America, we knew it would be difficult to get back soon, (2) some of these countries are pretty rough so we wanted to experience them before children, (3) things are CHEAP in this part of the world!

Below are the countries we visited.










And for those really interested, below is a list of all the cities we visited:
(Disclaimer: India is a HUGE beast of a country...we hardly even scratched the surface, believe it or not.)

THAILAND: (Leg 1): Bangkok, Trang, Koh Muk, Koh Kradan, Koh Ngai, Hat Yai, Su Ngai Go Lok
(Leg 2): Hat Yai, Bangkok, Aranyaprathet
(Leg 3): Nong Khai, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Bangkok
(Leg 4): Bangkok, Lopburi, Ayutthaya

MALAYSIA: Kota Bharu, Perhentian Islands, Kuala Lipis, Kuala Lumpur, Georgetown

CAMBODIA: Poipet, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh

VIETNAM: Saigon, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi

LAOS: Muang Khoa, Phongsali, Udomxai, Nong Khiaw, Muang Ngoi Neua, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane

INDIA: Chennai, Pondicherry, Chidambaram, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai, Rameswaram, Madurai, Kanyakumari, Kollam, Aleppey, Kochi, Mettupalayam, Ooty, Mysore, Sravanabelagola, Shimoga, Hampi, Hospet, Margao, Colva Beach, Arossim Beach, Aurangabad, Ellora Caves, Ajanta Caves, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Bhavnagar, Shatrunjaya, Udaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar, Jaipur, Delhi, Agra, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Deshnok, Amritsar, McLeod Ganj, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Varanasi, Sarnath, Kushinagar

NEPAL: Lumbini, Pokhara, Kathmandu, Patan, Nagarkot, Baktapur

SINGAPORE: Singapore

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pico de Gallo

There is something so simple and perfect about pico de gallo. It's essentially three fresh, healthy ingredients blended together with additional spices to create a powerful, flavorful garnish. As a California native, I practically consider Mexican food a food group and find myself eating some form of it almost everyday. This pico de gallo is the perfect dish to add some freshness to those meals. 

Pico de Gallo
Yield: about 3 cups
Total Time: about 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

6 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro 
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 lime, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pinch garlic powder
1 pinch ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Stir all ingredients together in a bowl. For best taste, let sit in the refrigerator (covered) for at least 3 hours before serving. Enjoy!




Chocolate Chip Coconut Energy Bites

Since the arrival of our sweet daughter, schedules and meals have been a little unpredictable at our house. On top of that, I'm nursing which means that my appetite has increased dramatically as my body produces milk. I was very excited when I found this recipe and these little energy balls have proved to be delicious and effective at sustaining my energy levels when I feel like I'm lagging a little. They manage to satiate my hunger when there's no time to eat a full meal. 

Chocolate Chip Coconut Energy Bites
Adapted from I Can Teach My Child
Yield: 24 bites
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, coconut, and chocolate chips. Add peanut butter, greek yogurt, honey, and vanilla. Mix well until fully incorporated. Refrigerate mixture for one hour. Remove and form into 1-inch balls. Store in an airtight container (or freezer bag) in the freezer. 

When you're feeling lethargic, pop a bite and energize up!



Friday, January 30, 2015

India


{View of the Bay of Bengal in Chennai}

When I think back on our time in India, I think to myself, "what a trip". I've never done drugs before, but I think a 3-month stint in India would satisfy just about anyone's desire to remove themselves from the ordinary and experience something totally and completely different. For my first few weeks in India, I was completely enamored and mesmerized by the country. Sure, there were piles of trash and cow pies in the streets, but the colors were so vibrant, the smells so fragrant, and the people so warm. It was like nothing I'd ever experienced before yet oddly I felt a sense of familiarity also. After about a month, the wear and tear of seven hour bus-rides, non-air conditioned trains, and over-friendly crowds of people started to get to me.

After month one, India seemed to play a game with me: it would give me a horrible, disgusting experience that made me want to leave the country immediately, then it would follow it up with an incredible, enlightening, delicious experience that made me want to stay forever. In some ways, it felt like an abusive relationship. After two months traveling through India at a very rapid pace, we started to slow down in month three (mainly, I think we were enjoying the cooler weather of the North) and did our best to savor our last weeks in such a unique, special, vibrant country. 

I have so much to share about India...we visited more than 40 cities and I'm still processing all that we learned and saw there. For now, I'll share a sampling of photos from our time there.  


{Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur}


{Cool guy who then turned into a creepy guy on a bus somewhere between Palitana and Ahmedabad}


{Thali meal served on a banana leaf in Rameswaram}


{Goa}


{Elephant crossing at Mysore Palace, Mysore}


{Niligiri Mountain Railway, on the way to Ooty}


{Sikhs at the Golden Temple, Amritsar}



{Buddhist monk in Kushinagar}


{Amber Fort, Jaipur}


{Jodhpur: "the blue city"}


{Pushkar}


{Kerala backwaters in Kollam}


{On top of Victory Tower at Chittorgarh Fort}


{Golden Temple, Amritsar}


{King of the road, Jaisalmer}


{A sampling of the many friendly Indians you'll meet while enduring hot temperatures, long stops in the middle of nowhere, and cramped quarters on a secold-class Indian train ride}


{Fruit vendor in Kanyakumari}

{Dawn boat ride on the Ganges, Varanasi}

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Baby Girl Nursery Inspiration







For a couple years now, I've looked forward to decorating a baby nursery. I think it started when a co-worker sent me a link to laybabylay.com and I saw how a nursery doesn't have to be pastel and "soft". It can be cool and edgy and still function as an awesome space for a little one.

It's been difficult to give in to the nesting instinct that pregnancy brings while traveling for six months and then living with family for another month. Before we had our own space, I put together this inspiration board for a nursery so at least I could have a place to "virtually" create a space for baby girl. We're finally starting to get settled into a home (just in time for baby to arrive) and I'm more than ready to get this nursery in order for real. 

1. Urban Outfitters Claire Oring Mermaid Stretched Canvas Print - $34.00
2. RIFLE PAPER Co. Bangkok Illustrated Art Print - $40.00
3. Etsy (theloveshop) The World Is Your Oyster Print - $18.00
4. Urban Outfitters Magical Thinking Geo Pendant - $69.00
5. Banquet Atelier & Workshop Fluoro Heart Print - $50.00
6. IKEA Bild Yellow Elephant Poster - unknown
8. CB2 Junction Low Dresser - $799.00
10. Land of Nod Milo Glider (White with Copper Base) - $649.00
11. Etsy (VLiving) Embroidered Indian Elephant Pillow Cover - $20.00
12. houzz Leather Moroccan Pouf, Gold - $90.00
13. Jenny Lind Fixed Side Convertible Crib: Natural - $129.00
14. Home Depot Ficus Pandurata Bush in Pot - $16.98