Saturday, January 31, 2015

mt. wilson hike...

one of the cool things about los angeles is that it is a short drive to be in the mountains or desert.  in fact, you could do all in one day.  last weekend we had a little adventure and went hiking and to a biker bar in the los angeles forest.

we did a 4 mile round trip hike to the top of mt. wilson, which had incredible views of the entire city.  the hike is fairly easy, but beware of mountain bikers and cold/windy weather. 







 after our hike we drove another 20 miles up the windy mountain road to a well known biker bar/restaurant.  it is called newcombs ranch, and although the service is slow the food is decent and the people watching is great!  we enjoyed lunch on the patio and even wilfred was welcome there.  it was a fun day outside of our south bay bubble and i am sure we will be back soon!







Friday, January 30, 2015

more books, less TV...

one of my new years resolutions is to read more and watch less TV.  there are not many shows that i follow on TV or that i will miss (mostly the Food network channel and HGTV, and of course the mindless channel changing), but i am ready to give up cable and make for more creative use of my time.
in fact, i made a "fun to do list" of creative and DIY projects i want to do more of:

~learn how to read tarrot cards (i have a deck and a how to book and my friend marie has inspired me)
~make a headboard for our mattress out of this beautiful fabric i bought
~sell more on ebay
~make my own cookbook
~read more (in fact i bought myself a kindle the other night! and i applied for a library card)
~listen to new podcasts
~get good at meditating

i am looking forward to the reconnecting with myself instead of disengaging through bad reality television.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

be here now...

i am learning how to be more present and leave feelings of sadness and anxiety behind as they do me no good!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

more!!!

after 3 + months of intense workouts with jarad, i am feeling great and continue to see results.  we will be doing a 10k run on super bowl sunday.  i feel stronger, leaner, and more toned.  the results become addictive and its important to recommit to my fitness goals, especially on the days when i lack motivation. 


Sunday, January 25, 2015

no longer and not yet...

the last week has been a difficult one, and i saw this quote that summed it up quite well...


last week we found out that we had a chemical pregnancy or an early miscarriage.  this news is devastating for a couple who has been trying to conceive for a long time.  i always hear that this is such a glorious time, but when you struggle with fertility issues that is not always the case.  no one ever tells you that you will develop this strong love/hate relationship with your body and just how well you get to know yourself.  and no one tells you how to cope or react to the emotional roller coaster you face every month.  you start out hopeful of a new month and chance to get pregnant, you do everything right building up to ovulation, then you are in a holding pattern for the next 2 weeks, the whole time carefully monitoring any cramp, headache, fluctuation in temperature or mood swing.  then comes the disappointing news that arrives when you get your period.  and no one but you understands just how in tuned you are with your body after you go through months of fertility acupuncture, 2 different doctors, BBT charting, countless pregnancy tests, chinese herbs, diet changes, ovulation predictor kits, many rounds of blood work and just the good old "gut feel". 

why does it feel as though your body is on the other team and betrays you every month?  for the last year and a half i wanted so badly to get pregnant, and we did.  unfortunately it didn't last more than 5 weeks, so you can imagine the excitement that was closely followed by extreme disappointment, confusion and anger.  i've had to take a close look at what i had wished for and adjust my goal.  i want to get pregnant and have a full term healthy pregnancy. 

at this point, i am ready to move on from this experience and recognize that although it is a let down, we are also encouraged by it.  it feels one step closer to achieving our goals of having a family.  what has helped me get through this last week is being outside, exercising, getting good rest and of course puppy cuddles.  i am so lucky to have the love and support of my family and my amazing husband, he wants so badly to be able to help, so i asked him to plan a fun date for us and surprise me.  i felt like it was important to have fun together and reconnect and leave the sadness behind.  so today he planned a hike in mt. wilson where we can bring wilfred and eat lunch at a biker bar.  as he said "being on the top of the mountain seeing all of los angeles will be a good reset."  and somehow it feels symbolic.  then we will follow up the day with a family dinner with some good comfort food! 


Saturday, January 24, 2015

mini cheesecakes...

i have a standing rule that if you are my friend and it is your birthday than i will make you a cake of your choosing.  my dear friend nani is having a birthday party at a bar in korea town and i asked what i should bring?  she suggested raspberry cheesecake.  over the last few years i have made a few different kinds of cheesecake, my two favorites being pumpkin cheesecake and goat cheese cheesecake.  but for a birthday party, i thought it would be fun to make individual sized cheesecake cupcakes.  this recipe is an adaptation of a martha stewart recipe and they are cute and tasty!

ingredients:

1 box of nilla wafer cookies
3 blocks of cream cheese (8 oz each)
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1 T vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3/4 cup of raspberry jam

how to:

it is very important to make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature.  in a large bowl whip the cream cheese with a hand mixer, then add your sugar, sour cream, vanilla and salt and combine.  once combined add one egg at a time until well combined and smooth.

in a muffin tin, place paper liners and put 2 nilla wafer cookies in each cup, this will be your "crust".  feel free to make a traditional graham cracker base or even use an oreo cookie in its place.  spoon a few large tablespoons of cream cheese batter on top of cookies until the cup is filled about 3/4 of the way full. i was able to make 2 dozen cheesecake cupcakes.

bake at 350 degrees for approximately 18-20 minutes or unil the sides are firm and the middle is "wobbly" according to martha.

allow them to cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but i prefer overnight if possible.  then take your raspberry jam and warm it through in a sauce pan, this will allow the jam to liquify.  spoon a teaspoon sized amount on top of your cooled cheesecake and put back in fridge to set up.  of course you don't have to use raspberry jam, you can substitute for your favorite flavor or even pie filling or fresh fruit. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

post holiday sedona road trip...

this post is a little late, but we had a great holiday season.  it started with a almost stress free christmas.  we did secret santa this year, so i only had to buy for one person in my family (and the kids of course)!!!!  i dread shopping during the holidays, i hate the crowds and buying gifts (at the last minute) just to have a wrapped and thoughtless gift under the tree.  i think everyone was happy with the way it turned out and we can do it again next year!



after christmas we had a nice relaxing day at home to clean up and pack the camper for our sedona, arizona road trip!  it was planned perfectly, we never spent more than 5 hours in the car on any day.  we left on a saturday and drove halfway to a town called blythe, which is right on the california/arizona border.  then on sunday we woke up early and continued our drive to sedona.  everyone who has been said we would love it, and they were so right.  you are surrounded by beautiful red rock formations everywhere and a cute little town.


we checked into our campsite and had some lunch and then checked out the hiking trails.  we decided to do one called "devils bridge"  i even walked most of the way across the arch.


 post hiking, jarad could not wait to hit the trails again, but this time on his mountain bike.  he found a trail and was in heaven! 


the weather in sedona was in the mid 50's during the day and at night it was probably around 20 degrees, we also missed a big snow storm the day we left!  the camper was warm and cozy, and we layered up and at night i would warm the camper with my blow dryer.


unfortunately 3 days in sedona was not enough, but we left and headed to vegas, where we spent a great gatsby themed new years eve with good friends and family, and of course our furry baby, wilfred.  we ate, gambled, celebrated a birthday, played games and enjoyed the 2nd half of our road trip.  we finally made our way home where we had a few days to recover before going back to work.  this will forever be one of my favorite holidays and road trips, and i can't wait to go back to sedona!

Friday, January 9, 2015

fitness update...

it's been about 2 and a half months since jarad and i started our daily workouts together.  i can honestly say that i am feeling better, genuinely tired at night and noticing results.  the holidays made it difficult to lose weight, so as of monday (jan 5th) i have been sticking to a strict diet plan.  it looks something like this:

breakfast:
coffee (of course)
green smoothie
***water water water

lunch:
salad with protein or lean cuisine
***water water water

snack ideas:
kind bar or quest protein bar
beef jerky
fruit
yogurt with chia seeds
graham cracker with almond butter and raisins
cottage cheese
***more water

dinner:
protein and veggies
***water water water and more water

my eating goal is to cut out carbs and sugar, and i am trying very hard to drink plenty of water.  jarad and i are in agreement that we must stick to this during the week and come the weekends we can treat ourselves.

some of my fitness accomplishments so far are:

bench pressing 75 pounds
running 3 miles
increasing the amount of weight i am lifting by at least 3 times (free weights)
increased muscle definition

Thursday, January 8, 2015

pumpkin cheesecake...

this is the 3rd or 4th year i have been making this, and it is always a crowd favorite.  it is a paula dean recipe and its easy and delicious.  it's a perfect dessert for the holidays and this is the 2nd time i have made it this season.  i made it for thanksgiving and now for our christmas eve dinner with friends.

ingredients:

for crust:
1 1/2 sleeve of graham crackers (crushed in blender), should be approximately 1 3/4 cup
1 stick of butter
3 T brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon

for filling:
3 packages of cream cheese (8 oz each)
1 can of pumpkin puree (15 oz can)
3 eggs plus 1 yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2  cups sugar
1 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
2 T all purpose flour
1 T vanilla extract

how to for crust:

in a blender or food processor crush your graham crackers.  in a bowl mix crumbs with 1 stick of melted butter and sugar and cinnamon.  press into a 9 inch spring form pan.


how to for filling:

in a large bowl whip the cream cheese, then add the rest of the ingredients and combine until well incorporated.  pour filling into pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  allow to cool and store in fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight is preferred.  often times the cheesecake will crack, and if it does, i will make a sour cream floater to cover the imperfections.  it is about a half cup of sour cream with a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla.  mix together and pour on top of cheesecake.  put back in oven for 5-10 minutes or until it sets up.

my apologies for no photo of the cheesecake, it got devoured quickly.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

grandma bea's cheese and onion squares...

for christmas my grandmother surprised all of us grand kids with a family cookbook.  i was thrilled to see some of jarad's family recipes in there!  his grandmother "bea" used to make these cheese and onion squares, i actually had them the first time i meet her and his whole family.  i truly believe cooking for others is a labor of love and i will treasure these family recipes.  for christmas dinner this year i am bringing a salad and appetizer, so i am going to surprise jarad and make these.  i sure hope they come out like he remembers.

ingredients:

3-4 chopped onions (fresh or frozen, but 12 oz)
1 stick butter
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup bisquick
8 oz block of sharp white cheddar cheese (cracker barrel brand is what the recipe specifies)
1 egg slightly beaten

how to:

preheat oven to 400 degrees.  grate the cheddar cheese (do not buy pre-grated, i hear it is just not the same).  melt butter and saute onions.  stir together onions, bisquick, milk ,egg and half of your grated cheese.  pour into a 9 x 13 dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.  allow to cool and cut into squares.  my mother in law says that bea used to make tons of these and send them as care packages (frozen) so that they could be reheated in the oven at a later time! 


Monday, January 5, 2015

vision board...

my friend nani inspired me to create a "vision board" for the new year.  she said she has been doing this for many years now and each year she reviews it to see what she has accomplished.  nani also stressed to me that money is no object when creating your board, you are simply making your wish list, so go ahead and dream BIG!  i created mine on pinterest and some of my goals for 2015 include:



~starting our family
~what my dream home would look like
~career and financial goals
~fitness and health goals
~travel ideas

although this is not my exact "vision board" here is an example of what they can look like.  it's a good idea to keep it in a place where you can see it daily.


in general my main focus for 2015 is to be the healthiest i have ever been and stress free.  as i told jarad the other day, "our family is my priority and everything else is back ground."  instead of writing my long list of resolutions i am focusing on my vision board and being happier than ever!



Friday, January 2, 2015

chili cheese thing...

my family enjoys this dish once a year...on christmas.  although it is not hard to make, it is reserved for christmas breakfast because it is so decadent.  we have always called it the "chili cheese thing" and my mom usually makes it.  this year is my turn, and i hope it comes out as good!




ingredients:

1 lb. grated yellow cheddar cheese
1 lb. grated pepper jack cheese
6 eggs beaten
8 oz sour cream
1 can ortega chilis (8 oz)
5-6 stalks green onions diced (optional)






 how to:

it is best to buy a block of cheese and grate yourself.  in a greased 9 x 13 dish layer all cheeses and mix in ortega chilies and green onion.  i also chopped up some pickled jalapenos as well, but this is also optional.  blend sour cream with beaten eggs and pour egg mixture over cheese.



bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until firm and golden.  blot off grease before serving.



Thursday, January 1, 2015

happy new year!

wishing you a safe and happy new years eve as we ring in 2015!