Tuesday, February 26, 2013

be a part of the wish tree

Recently, I started thinking about the idea of a wish tree.  It is a magical thought. 
That something as sturdy, strong and beautiful as a tree can hold our dreams on its branches.
A tree that looks at God all day and lifts her leafy arms to pray.
That we could just hang them there.
And release them to the universe.

Together they would sit.
Our wishes.
Dreams of babies. Love. Hope for the future.
Happiness. Health. Homes filled with laughter and joy.
Whatever your wish may be.

I'd like to create that tree. That wish tree. For all of us.
A tree with just my own wishes seems so lonely.
So, I hope that you wish with me.

Below is the wish piece by Yoko Ono (1996):

Make a wish
Write it down on a piece of paper
Fold it and tie it around a branch of a Wish Tree
Ask your friends to do the same
Keep wishing
Until the branches are covered with wishes

Here's how it will work.
Leave a comment on this post with your wish. 
I will write it down for you and tie it to a branch of the Wish Tree.

My hope is that this tree will be filled with wishes from all around the world.
I'll post updates of our tree covered with wishes on this blog throughout the summer.
If you're so inclined, do as Yoko suggests and ask your friends to do it as well.
For your convenience, there is a button on my sidebar that you can grab. 
{You do not have to be a blogger to participate. 
If you're anonymous, please leave initials or a nickname of some identifier with your comment. }

I hope all of your wishes come true!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Vegan Recipe: Lentil Soup with Wilted Spinach

So we've been keeping at this vegan thing and I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes with you. I live off this soup in the wintertime. It is packed with protein and nutrients while warming your insides on a cold day. Plus it is downright delicious! 

***Note: I used red lentils because I had some in the house and didn't think it needed salt or pepper. Give it a try! 

Lentil Soup with Wilted Spinach 

Makes 4 servings
Time: Roughly 40 minutes

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed thoroughly 
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 cups packed baby spinach leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

  • In a large soup pot, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant and turns golden brown. 
  • Pour in vegetable broth and add lentils and bay leaf. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer.
  • Cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, until lentils are just tender, adding water if necessary to maintain a broth around the legumes. 
  • Stir in lemon juice and the spinach and cook for 2 more minutes, or until spinach has turned bright green and waited. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve warm. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

10 things I never knew before infertility

There is a lot I didn't know before experiencing infertility. But here are a few of the most memorable things that come to mind.
  1. I never knew sex could not be fun.
  2. I never knew that egg white like mucous is actually a signal you should celebrate.
  3. I never knew how hard it could be for some unlucky people to become parents. 
  4. I never knew that some people actually experience heartbreak when seeing pregnant women on the street.
  5. I never knew that over 150,000 assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles are performed each year in the US, resulting in almost 50,000 babies. {Makes me feel a little less alone}
  6. I never knew that the physical pain I feel every month around ovulation and my period is not normal. {Thanks endo!}
  7. I never knew that there was an amazing network of women in the blogging community that support each other and show such tremendous understanding and compassion for one another.
  8. I never knew how much I'd be willing to put myself and marriage through to try to conceive a baby.
  9. I never knew how much stregnth would result from this struggle.
  10. I never knew that over faith would grow, my heart would heal and I could say out loud and mean it....I'm gonna be happy no matter how this chapter of my life ends. 

What have you learned from this journey?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

winter love. or not.

Are you one of those crazies that loves winter?

Not me, no way.

Spring...where are you?
Please come back to me quickly.
The warm weather makes me so happy. About this time of the year, I get restless and sick of the cold. I've already gotten in all of my fave winter activities so I'm ready to bring on the sunshine.

But there are two things that I love about winter: ice skating and snowshoeing.
Both are really good exercise, a great way to keep the winter pounds off and have a little fun while you're at it. We are fortunate to live really close to the snow which is nice because we can enjoy it without having to shovel our driveway every day.

Here are some pics of A and I enjoying these winter activities.
ice skating during the holidays
snowshoeing in Lake Tahoe

What are some of your favorite activities this winter?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

our great grape escape

A and I traveled to Napa for his first cycling race of the 2013 season, the Cherry Pie Criterium. The weather was perfect...a sunny yet brisk day in the wine country. I'm always really excited when his races are in locations that make good weekend getaways.

Our hotel was conveniently located between the race event and the wineries for easy access to both. We got an early check-in at the Ivy Hotel Napa, dropped our bags and headed to our first winery.

V. Satui, in St. Helena, was the right choice as it has tons of picnic tables with a view of the vineyard. It is also one of the few wineries that has a gourmet deli on premises and we were starved. The pesto sandwich, pasta salad, crab cakes and broccoli salad we enjoyed for lunch were delicious.

But the best part wasn't even the food, it was the breathtaking scenery. January through March is mustard season which many believe is the best time to visit Napa. The valley floor is blanketed in a vibrant carpet of bright yellow mustard flowers.

Despite many visits, I was ignorant to the winter phenomenon known as mustard season in the Napa Valley. As locals tell the story, Spanish friars who established missions up and down the state in the 1700s sprinkled mustard seeds as they went, leaving a canary-colored path in their wake so that others could find their way. 

no filter
Next stop: Castello di Amorosa just outside of Calistoga. 
This winery has a castle with 107 rooms on 8 levels and covers 121,000 square feet. Among many other features it has a moat, a drawbridge, defensive towers, an interior courtyard, a torture chamber, a chapel/church and a knights' chamber. It is like stepping back in time to the medieval period.

As spectacular as the castle is, my favorite part was cruising through the vineyard and hanging with the sheep and goat roaming on the property. I know, I'm a wierdo!

To end the day, we visited one of my all-time favorite wineries, Mumm Napa. Located in Rutherford, they are renowned for their seated patio tasting room. It was so relaxing gazing at the rolling hills and grape vines while enjoying some of the best sparkling wine in the region.

Then after a long day of wine tasting, we dined at Ristorante Allegria in downtown Napa because it had many positive reviews on Yelp. And let me tell you....I had the best meal I've ever eaten - hand's down. Homemade wild mushroom ravioli with sautéed bay scallops, tomatoes, fresh baby arugula with a light roasted garlic sauce. 

The next morning, we woke at 4am to prepare for race day. It was a freezing cold 39 degrees so A had a hard time warming up. But I'm so proud of him for giving it his all. He didn't place as well as he hoped he would. But if it isn't first place, he's not satisfied with his performance. However, the race motivated him to train harder for next time.

my man in third position
Before we hit the road to head back home, two more stops were on the agenda. Domaine Carneros, which sits on a hilltop, reminded me of an estate that you would see in the South.

It was nice to sit on the patio and enjoy some sparkling with an amazing cheese pairing. However, I wasn't impressed with the location. The view overlooks the most travelled road in Napa with tons of cars driving by.

However, the sparkling wine did not disappoint. My favorite was the Le Reve Blanc de Blancs which is French for "the dream" which it was.

Afterwards, we went to Robert Mondavi to do a wine tour. A was interested in learning about the process of winemaking. However, the history of Robert Mondavi was fascinating to me. He was kind of the godfather of Napa Valley, whose technical improvements and marketing strategies brought worldwide recognition for the wines of the region. 

Love his famous quote "whatever you do, pour yourself into it".

Thursday, February 14, 2013

little blue box

Happy Valentine's Day y'all!

I'm pretty much on cloud nine right now because my hubby is amazing. Besides being my best friend and loving me unconditionally 365 days a year, (which makes me pretty lucky as it is), he surprised me with the sweetest gift to express his love today.

How lovely is he?!?
And then on top of it, he gave me the most gorgeous long-stemmed red roses.

I'm blown away! A isn't always the most affectionate guy but he shows me his love daily in the little things that he does for me and in his concern for my well-being. He knows he doesn't have to buy me expensive gifts for me to know that I'm loved.

But it sure does mean so much that he went through all of the trouble to find out my ring size and go to Tiffany's to buy this gift. It's the effort and the thought that mean the most. Especially if you know A. Shopping is not his thing AT ALL...especially high-end stores. 

I will cherish this ring always for everything that it means. And it doesn't hurt that it's gorgeous and came in a little blue box.

What did I do for A?
Nothing nearly as extravagant as what he did for me.
But he is a simple man. 

he loves candles that remind him of the beach

A festive Valentine's table setting. A nice Italian dinner and cosmo martinis. A vegan cookbook. A candle and some love coupons.
He was happy.

What did you do to celebrate the love in your life?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

on your mark, get set, go

{warning: this is more of a stream of conscienceness than a well crafted post)

life is just one big competition, isn't it.
striving to get into the best schools. studying to ace the big test. working hard to get ahead in the workplace. securing the optimal husband. you date and date holding out until you think you've got the best "catch".

doesn't matter what you played or competed in. people always strive to be the best. to win. first place.

we always want to look our best. some of my friends are getting botox in their 20's. preventative, they say. needles in the face to prevent wrinkles, stay beautiful and look young longer.

gotta have as much as you can.

gotta have the biggest one you can afford. 

and the list goes on and on. it is simply exhausting if you stop and think about it.

we are rarely satisfied with what we have. if we are single, we want to meet someone. if we are married, we long for the days of freedom. if we have children, we want a break from them. and it doesn't stop there. no, our kids have to be the best dressed, the smartest, the cutest, and the funniest. what pressure we put on ourselves.

we want everything. to have it all. even when what we want is in conflict...making it impossible to ever have it all. how then do we have find contentment?

my girlfriend recently said "remember in high school when we spent all summer floating in the pool, eating girl scout cookies...not a care in the world. we didn't even get fat from all of those cookies." she's right. we didn't get fat but we felt fat. we were youthful...but didn't feel beautiful. we didn't have many responsibilities but it felt like the weight of the world was on our fit in. for boys to like us. to get into college.

i long for just a week to clear my mind of all of my responsibilities and the pressure that i put on myself (notice that i said...put on myself) let alone a whole summer like i had back then. but i didn't know how good i had it and savor every moment. that is the point of all this...i think. if only we could train ourselves to really "live in the moment" rather than wishing we were in some other place - past or present. or in some other circumstance.

it doesn't really matter what stage of life we are in. as long as we still have some life left to live. i look back to my college years and remember thinking that my "life" would really begin once i graduate. then all of my friends were getting married...i felt like the last single woman on earth. that i would never have that big, beautiful, pouffy, white dress and be the blushing bride. 

interesting. i didn't dream about staying home in flannel pjs, watching movies on a friday night. compromising on everything from the tv channel to what to have for dinner (which is a more accurate picture of marriage...but that is whole other blog post altogether). 

and now i'm doing it with children. 
i see the baby pictures posted on facebook. the smiles and precious faces. and i want one. but i can't. i'm not going to say that i think a baby will make me happier because i know better than that. but if i'm being honest, at least a small part of my pain does comes from not achieving the goal. feeling like i don't measure up. that i'm being left behind.

they say, admitting something is the first step to overcoming it. so there, i said it. my arms are empty. my spare room is not a beautiful nursery. i have no baby to buy cute clothes for. no weekly baby bump updates or dimpled pictures to post on facebook. no baby's firsts to report.

but you know what...that is okay. i'm enough. baby or no. and i won't allow myself to be robbed of the second half of my 30's by infertility...wishing i was in some other circumstance (motherhood). 
i just won't.

Monday, February 4, 2013

almost but not quite vegan

After I read the book Skinny Bitch, A and I became vegans. You can't read about the horrific way that animals are slaughtered in this country and how bad animal products are for your body without at least considering an alternative lifestyle.

It didn't last long. Mostly because it is really hard to eat vegan when you are traveling, at restaurants, parties etc. But we did switch to buying all organic, hormone-free products whenever possible. We've always been pretty healthy eaters but we became a little more stringent about what we consume.

Then I read The Kind Diet. Darn you, Alicia Silverstone. Her section on milk explains how we are the only mammals that drink another animal's milk. The milk that is designed to help a calf grow and gain a hundred pounds rapidly. {That sounds healthy.}  And it explains how cows are milked with a metal machine that pulls on their utters. It is painful and they often get infected and that puss gets into the milk. {Um, yuck!} Yup, you guessed it. We don't drink milk anymore. It is all about the almond and coconut milk over here.

With each book, we've continued to make small adjustments towards being more vegan. 
But the really cool thing is that A is actually leading the charge in our household these days. He's getting ready for crit racing season to start up and found this animal-based protein for his shakes. Then he bought the book, Thrive, which is all about the vegan lifestyle for optimal performance in sports. He's really into it which makes me so happy. I don't think we will switch to being completely vegan but if we can do it most of the time...that is better than nothing. 

Ironically, eating more vegan will likely help improve my endometriosis symptoms as well. The dietary changes that are recommended to control endo are: (1) increase foods that flush out toxins and help healing {basically fruits and vegetables}, (2) incorporate super foods into your diet {quinoa, spirulina, chia, goji, acai, flaxseed, seaweed} and (3) avoid inflammatory foods/drinks {dairy, meat, sugar, gluten}. Most of the food we've been consuming lately follows that pattern.

We've been cooking up a storm and found some really delicious vegan recipes. I'll be sharing our favorites with you on the blog as I know how hard it is to find good, easy vegan recipes.

Here is one of our favorite raw, vegan recipes that we made last week.

Mango Coconut Bars

3/4 cup fresh or soaked dried dates
1/2 cup chopped mango
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup cooked quinoa 
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon zest
Sea salt to taste
1/4 cup shredded coconut

In a food processor, process all ingredients together except coconut. Remove the mixture from food processor: work coconut into it by hand. Shape into 12 bars. As the bars dry, they will firm up. The next day you can enjoy healthy, homemade energy bars full of tropical flavor and a high electrolyte content.

If you know of any good vegan or vegetarian recipes, please share the links in the comments.

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