Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Real Food

Alright folks, I need to know your thoughts about food.  Not just any food…I'm talkin' "clean food", organics, natural foods.  R and I have been talking about our diets lately and trying to pay more attention to what we are putting into our bodies. It is pretty alarming if you think about it.  Up until now, I have been eating foods that "taste good" and satisfy my cravings.  I wouldn't consider myself an unhealthy eater, but I never really put that much thought into it otherwise (thanks to my young age/ fast metabolism). 
After reading up on ways to "eat clean" and all that encompasses, maybe I have become victim to being a processed food junkie and sugar loving maniac all this time?! Hmm it's all just so confusing. Check out this blog, 100 days of real food, to see what this family of four pledged to do (and has now gained national popularity for their lifestyle change).  For me, its not about the losing weight.  Not only do I want the benefits of sustained energy, clearer skin, and less mood swings ( i.e. sugar withdrawals!), but more importantly, I want to be proactive in protecting this body I have been given and potentially lowering my risk for disease (especially with my family medical history..can you say paranoid!!)  

So, I will continue to ponder this lifestyle transition….slipping from time to time with a spoonful of nutella…in hopes that we can someday make it a habit of choice in our house!  And I quote from my naive intuitive husband a few days ago, "If we know that certain foods are bad for us, then why does everyone ignore the supporting research and still eat it?!"  Think about that. I'm guilty as charged on all accounts that is for sure…and not proud of it.  Anyone else?

Ok, now that I have made everyone feel guilty and annoyed about "food talk"…moving on to our mindless weekend recap.
 Friday happy hour with R's office poolside in a private cabana! We are so lucky to be a part of the "family"…and the fact they include me in everything.  I've never been such a "clingy" wife, but I'm getting used to it…and like it!
Saturday at the Surry Hills Festival.  Live music, great food (i.e. fiesta corn fritters pictured bottom right), and cute market shops.  R got a candid of me sifting through handmade moroccan leather purses.  
Gorgeous sunny day to sit on the lawn and people watch at the festival.  We both felt like we were transported back to our hometown of Austin for the day…and that made us happy! 
And a great way to end the day…Game Night!  Our friends have the perfect place for entertaining and it's always a good time.  Fancy cheeses and fruit spread, hand rolled sushi, rice cakes, and peanut butter choc chip blondies were shared.  
 Caught in the act this week...R and Teddy reading on the balcony, a sailboat through the trees in the distance, sunset walk close to home, enjoying the summer weather and cool breeze.  

This week in the kitchen:
Fresh Blueberry Muffins. No judging as this is packed with "uncleanness"... sugar, saturated fats, and processed white flour. Oops, but so yummy!  
Tofu sausages with grilled onions and spinach on a whole wheat pita.  And I was so sneaky as to not tell R about the mystery meat until he finished his last bite! Although he enjoyed it, he requests that "the next time you cook tofu, just don't tell me."  Fair enough.  Me, on the other hand, didn't quite enjoy the alternative meat source.
Thought for food was pan seared salmon on top of a bed of Fennel, cabbage, and citrus slaw with brown rice.  Surprisingly hearty and healthy!  
And I keep forgetting to tell you, but I started a beginners photography class at a community college! It is a seven week program where I attend once a week during the day, which I am two classes in so far.   I'm afraid that it's not going to be enough time to learn all that I want with my camera and photography, but it's a starting place!  The pic above was one of my homework assignments.  Maybe this will encourage me to get out and capture my surroundings more often!  

Have a great week!  

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I don't know about you, but I have been jamming to the new Taylor Swift 'Red' album while cooking in the kitchen since it came out!  Judge me if you want.  One song in particular makes me think of my little sis….who will celebrate her 22nd birthday tomorrow!!!  How fitting?!  Also, the number 22 holds a lot of meaning to us and our mother.  So, I hope that her birthday will be extra special as it should be!  
My little sister…wow, what are the words?!  Just a few short years ago I was playing mommy's little helper, changing her diapers, and driving her around the cul-de-sac in our pink barbie convertible.  
Now, she is teaching me about love, forgiveness, and compassion.  In less than a year, she will be set "free" from her college bubble life and embark on a new chapter.  A scary thought for me, but exciting to know that I will get to continue and watch her grow into the eloquent woman that our parents raised her to be.  
This young woman may seem to have been given "it all" with those big blue eyes, gorgeous blonde hair, and radiating smile (can you sense the jealousy I have hehe).  Behind all of that, though, is a girl who had to grow up too fast.  A girl who was always "beyond her years", but after experiencing deep loss and tragedy, she was more so than ever.  My sister and I have always been best friends/attached at the hip, and never really started arguing with each other until my senior year in high school.  Now, more so than ever, I appreciate our deep sister bond and love for one other that is unlike any other.  Once tested by tragedy, and now, using those life experiences to grow as person who can give back to the community and help others.  I am so blessed to have this beautiful person in my life.
Happy birthday, Kenz!  You make me proud.  
 ..even from the other side of the world!!

Thanks for supporting R and I in our journey!  Hate that I can't be there to watch you blow out your candles.  

On to less important things, this week has been all about routine.  Walking Teddy in the morning, yoga mid afternoon, cooking dinner at home, enjoying our meals and nightly chats on the balcony, late walks together with Teddy after the sunset, Big Brother (yes, we are hooked and we only have a few more weeks to go!), and early bedtime!  This is a new development for us as our life in Dallas was anything but structured.  Every night was a different obligation or dinner with friends (which we miss that part) and midnight bedtimes, but don't you just love quiet weeks like this sometimes?!  We sure are.  
Yes ladies, this is what I walked into last night…R giving Teddy a blow dry after his bath. Hahaha I couldn't get over it.  Look at those angelic faces..just spending some "dude time" together I guess.  
And this little gem…is always parked in front of our building!  Lucky me.  I stare into it every time I walk by and have fallen more in love with the baby blue and vintage vibe each time I see it.  

This week in the kitchen:
 (Skinny Italian) Turkey Meatballs with Spinach baked on a whole wheat pita and Gwyneth Paltrow's No-Fry Fries.  (I combined two different meatball recipes, hence the two different links).  These were a major hit with R!  On his last bite, he said "what are these green things in here?!" Spinach success!
Chicken and Dumplings a la Martha Stewart.
One of my favorite dishes I have made yet!  And somewhat healthier than a traditional Chicken Pot Pie (which I love!)

Have a great Halloween weekend everyone!  Feels weird not seeing pumpkins and festive decorations everywhere.  I wonder if we will have any trick-or-treaters?! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sunsets and Sun Salutations

Our weekend wrapped up with a breathtaking sunset to appreciate.  
 And while I am in the appreciation mode, I am thankful for yoga.  For challenging my body in new ways and cleansing my mind in others. 
  Here, we are in a private session with our favorite instructor out at Bondi Beach.  Yes, practicing yoga in public.  Add that to my list of "never before's".  I enjoyed it so much, though, that I don't think it will be my last.  So, the next time you see some "hippie weirdo" doing yoga at the beach, think of me..and know that we all have it in us.  It's just a matter of letting go and allowing yourself to be :)
 Teddy's first walk across the Harbour Bridge! Loving the breeze and sunshine..
I love taking advantage of all the events Sydney has to offer!  This month is the International Food Festival and the Night Noodle Markets in Hyde Park.  Think prawn dumplings, spring rolls, duck noodles, bbq pork buns, and strawberry & lime cider. I had so much fun with a girlfriend and her friend one night, that I brought R back with me the next!  Safe travels to my friend who will be joining her husband in Boston for the next month or so.
Saturday afternoon at the Paddington Markets.  Eclectic and cute.  Topped it all off with a cheese platter and walk through the neighborhood.
This spot along the harbor is on our daily walking trail with Teddy.  We like that he makes us more active together. The weather has warmed up nicely and we spend as much time as possible on our deck reading, eating, or just thinking.  We still haven't noticed a difference without central AC, but we are nervous for summer.
On Sunday afternoon, we treated ourselves to a "Gold Class" seat to watch the movie Argo.  We all really enjoyed the highly rated film and thought it was worth the reclining seats and waiters.  

This week in the kitchen:
Chicken Parmesan Dippers with whole wheat pasta and Marinara sauce.  (I would cut the sugar in half).
Alfredo Chicken, Vegetable, and Rice Bake. (I used the leftover chicken parmesan dippers).
Thought for food was a Steak Salad with avocado, lime, onion, tomato, cilantro, and crispy corn tortilla strips on top. Gluten free!
Cool Dude.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Back into the swing of things

After being away for nearly a month with all our travels, I was looking forward to getting back into a routine in this place that is now becoming our home.  We sure had a productive and enjoyable one…
Dinner at the Opera Bar with friends before the show at the Opera House.  SO many giggles for the witty comedian, Aziz Ansari.  They do say that laughter is the best medicine…I would agree after that night.  
We spent our Saturday afternoon "branching" out and trying new things.  First things first…R drove us for the first time on our own!!  This is a big deal for us.  We have been nervous to venture on the left side of the road with right sided steering.  We just kept repeating, "stay left"…and it worked!  We are a part of this program called "go get" where you pay a small monthly fee and reserve a car in advance.  Lucky for us, there are a lot these cars scattered around our neighborhood so it is very convenient to have one waiting for you if needed!  We took the car to a plant nursery, where I wanted to not only spruce up our deck, but also buy some edible herbs to cook with.  Do you get as frustrated as I do when you buy $8 worth of fresh herbs for a recipe only to throw away everything but a few leaves?!  So, I'm trying to fix that. We walked away with some flowers, greenery, basil, lavender, mint, and cilantro (called coriander here).  I spent the afternoon potting the plants, hoping that I wasn't already killing them.  We shall see how long this lasts...
On Saturday evening, we picked up fish and chips and enjoyed them with friends on our patio. One of R's coworkers from Dallas is here on a month assignment, so we have enjoyed welcoming her here.  Once the sun went down, we headed to the classic movie theatre nearby to see Killing Them Softly starring Brad Pitt.  Hmmm don't know what to make of it.  R did not like it and I kept wanting to fall asleep (might have been the influence of wine).  Great reviews by the critics, though.  
I guess you could say that Teddy has comfortably settled into Aussie life.  Whether it be running around the parks in the sunshine, taking naps per usual, or watching the cruise ships go by on the patio, his life ain't so bad.  We were a little worried his first few days with us when we could hardly leave Teddy alone without him crying and freaking out.  Since then, I have been researching and chatting with Cesar Millan (the dog whisperer) to re-train the dude to chill when we leave him in his kennel.  So far, so good.  

This week in the kitchen:
Chocolate coca-cola cake. Do you like how I go with dessert first?
Stuffed green peppers with brown rice, ground beef, onions, and garlic.
 Crostini with brie cheese, strawberries, honey, and basil.
Edamame fried rice with leftover marinated chicken breast.

All of these recipes courtesy of pinterest:
This weeks thought for food was a combination of sous vide and seared scallops on risotto cakes with a  light citrusy salad and garlic aioli sauce on the side.  One of my favorite weeks for sure!  I feel like I have already learned so much about cooking techniques and using different ingredients that used to scare me.   What will be next?
And I will leave you with this…just another sunset that I will never take for granted.  In all my days spent in Sydney so far, not one has gone unappreciated.  I hope I can continue to live my life with this in mind..

Friday, October 12, 2012

As If We Had Never Left..

..Texas.  I must admit, I was little anxious going back home for the first time for many reasons.  I was afraid that visiting home would cause me to be so homesick that I wouldn't want to go back to Australia.  Also, what if my family and friends didn't like the "new me" per se and our relationships felt different?  How was I going to see everyone that I wanted spanning across all of Texas in such a short amount of time?  I guess its an interesting experience getting a "tease" of life back in Dallas after only being gone for three months.  But once I hit those sliding doors through customs and hugged my sister, everything was alright.  We appreciate our families for meeting us in Dallas or somewhere along the road!  Too bad we couldn't be everywhere!
Happy mom!  Having brunch on the patio.  We missed you Tim!  
Breakfast at Cracker Barrel with some of my favorite people!  Don't know where I would be without them.  We sure enjoyed those rocking chairs and southern cooking!
My beautiful and strong grandmother, Gappy. We enjoyed meeting her at "our spot" one morning for some quality time. For some reason, I got too excited and forgot to take a picture of our dinner in FW with my Uncle and Aunt and cousins! Darn.  We had a good time, though, with lots of great things ahead for the family!  Please pray for my cousin who started his career with Dallas Fire Rescue today!!  
 Guy time!  R enjoyed the Cowboys game with his Dad, bro, and J…even though they lost!  What a great day to catch up, tailgate, and get back into American sports.  I know R was sure missing going to the games!  We then enjoyed dinner as a family on a rooftop deck with the sun setting in the distance.
Long lunch dates are our specialty!  Love catching up with this friend who keeps me in check and supports me immensely.  
True supporters of the horned frogs..rain or shine!  Starting a new fashion trend in those slimming ponchos.  Lets just say that the girls almost made it to halftime.  Apparently we hopped in a "party cab" complete with Michael Jackson tunes and the music video to accompany it.  Interesting..
Celebrating game day indoors (as it rained non stop all day) with good food and great friends!!
My visit wouldn't be complete without a stop to see my growing baby b's!  You might recognize the oldest as the ring bearer in our wedding.  We are so blessed to have this FW family in our lives!
Another must was lunch at McKinleys with my sis per usual.  We took things outdoors and enjoyed a picnic at the botanical gardens!
Dinner with the twosome at Woodshed and then drinks with my sisters sweet friend!  Always good to spend time in FW! I think I most enjoy laying around in my sisters day bed (which happened to be mine in college) and reminiscing of college life.
CM gelato..and pumpkins!  At least I could experience the beginnings of fall as we are in spring here.

What a whirlwind week it was, but wonderful.  Looking forward to seeing everyone again in December!  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Two Years Ago Today

Two years ago today, I became a wife.
A wife to a man who will forever be a boy at heart.

Two years ago today, I walked down the aisle to the bright and unknown future ahead, hand in hand with my sister.
My sister, a forever friend, bonded together through loss and love.
Unconventional without my parents present in the physical, but not lost on everyones minds.

An intimate setting beneath the oak trees, with the buzz of downtown Austin in the distance, reminding us that life goes on.
The hum of my friend and sister in the bond playing the violin, the giggles and happy tears of my bridesmaids and best friends, the cheer of the crowd as my sweet baby B approached the altar, and then, the forever moment.
A stream of tears falling from my grooms face. Happy tears.  
Tears of joy, excitement, anticipation, patience, and most importantly, unconditional love.

Love that changes with the times, like that fall October night before us.  
Love that started so purely beneath the stars at the age of fifteen.
Once just friends, and now, best friends.

Sharing a life together.  
Growing our family in the future, with hopes of giving our children a life our parents gave us.
Always with caution though, knowing that neither of us is guaranteed another day here on this Earth.  
Until then, we will live to be our best selves, side by side.

Two years ago today, we vowed to love and honor one another.
Today, two years later, we are still learning and growing.
Learning about ourselves and each other.
Only twenty-four years of age, but a world of experiences and love to fill a life.

(you can thank this reflection of our second anniversary to a sleep deprived seventeen hour flight)

Not only did we have a wonderful celebration of our second anniversary in Singapore and Phuket as you saw, but we came home to an even better surprise!  
Good news….Teddy is now safe and sound in his new home!
We picked him up on the way home from the airport fresh off our seventeen hour flight from Dallas!  Needless to say, we were a little delirious…which turned into tears and an argument with our cab driver who got us lost for thirty minutes and then proceeded to try and charge us $50 for using his phone for five minutes (which we were using to call the quarantine to help us find the place since he was of no help and our phones were dead).  We almost thought we were never going to see Teddy!  But, it was all worth it in the end.  

Yesterday we spent our actual anniversary acclimating Teddy to Aussie life...
 Brunch at a sidewalk cafe. 
Corn and zucchini fritters with bacon and green tea...yum!
 Play time at the beach!
 Ferry rides and walking trails along the water with views of the city.
Picnic at the park.
Champagne by candlelight to end the evening.
I think Teddy can get used to this.  

We are still on a high from getting to see our friends and family in Dallas.  Everyone made us feel so special and it was as if we had never left.  I will share some pics from our past week soon!