12.26.2012

Seasonal Spa Day

Years ago I was a bridesmaid in a wedding and the bachelorette party was a spa weekend in Palm Springs.  It was fabulous and that weekend I decided that I shouldn't wait for a friend to get married to have a spa day.  I came home and told my sisters we should try to have a spa day every time the season changed. 

Over the years I have marked my calendar with the first day of spring, winter, fall, and summer.  Some years we get to the spa on those days and some years we might miss one or two seasons.  But overall we try to make it to the spa to take a few hours out of our crazy lives for ourselves.
  
The weekend before Christmas we had a spa day at the Pacific Waters Spa at the Hyatt in Huntington Beach.  This was my third trip to Pacific Waters and I enjoy the space.
The spa is tucked into a corner of the Hyatt but you can tell you are leaving the hotel and coming to a new area because you cross a koi pond with a water feature.  Soothing running water welcomes you into the spa and you can tell relaxation awaits.....
This spa has some features I love.  A salt water spa, steam room and sauna, rain showers, inside and outside relaxation rooms, tea, spa water, and  snacks.  During the summer is is nice to sit outside and during this stay it was nice to sit by the fire inside.
Spa treatments are not inexpensive and I find the once every three months to work within my budget.  I usually get a facial when I go to the spa and I love it.  I feel like my face is glowing when I leave, but that might just be the low lights of the spa......
Seasonal Spa Day is something I always look forward to.  I think it is important to take care of myself and to make ME a priority in my life.  I feel that if I am health and happy, then I can be the best version of myself.  And let's be honest, the best version of ourselves is who we always want to be.

12.24.2012

Xmas Farmer's Market

I started this blog to track travel, eating, and farmer's markets.  Looking over the past few months, I have been lacking in my farmer's market posts.  Sorry about that.  I do miss the farmer's market some weeks and that makes me sad because then I don't have many fruits and vegetables to eat.  But I have been going during the month of December and the Whole30 thing even inspired T to join me a few times.  This past weekend I went to two farmer's markets (on Saturday and Sunday) to get some items for Xmas meals and to stock up on some supplies to take to Mammoth (T has been up there for a week and sent me a farmer's market list to bring up after Xmas).

So here is what I purchased this week at the Farmer's Market:

Brussel Sprouts:  cut the stems, chop them in half, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.  Shake the pan a few times during the roasting process.  Serve with more salt if needed.

T loves these and makes them so they are crunchy and crisp on the outside.
Sweet Potatoes: I love sweet potatotes.  They are one of my favorite things to find at the farmer's market.  T has been making sweet potato fries when he roasts the brussel sprouts.
sweet potato
Broccoli:  I have been stir-frying this with spice sausage.  Yum!
broccoli
Mandarins: A T request, but I love when these show up in the market too.  My favorites are satsumas, but I always taste test these before buying (as you should if they have samples at the farmer's market).  I like the sweet ones.
madarines
Cabbage: Green and red.  A T request from Mammoth as our hosts are going to make something delicious with it.
red and green cabbage
Mushrooms: adding these to salads
mushrooms
Avocados: These are also amazing right now and T sent me a recipe for a Christmas Salad that has avocado and pomegranate seeds in it. I have tons of pomegranates from my Mom's tree from the jelly making day so this salad will be making an appearance this week.
avocados
Strawberries: I am sorry to say, I bought strawberries at the Farmer's Market this weekend.  I am going to use them in a Christmas brunch fruit salad.  I have a hard time buying strawberries in December because they pale in comparison to the strawberries of summer, but they tasted good and I bought them.
strawberries
Not pictured:
Bok Choy: I grabbed this for some healthy stir-fry.
Cauliflower: a T request for Mammoth.
Blueberries:  a taste test had me buying blueberries for a Christmas brunch fruit salad too.

12.17.2012

Scenes from Solvang

This past weekend the Middle Sister organized a wine tasting trip in the Santa Ynez valley with some co-workers and the Little Sister and I joined them on Saturday.  You might remember from last week that T and I are doing the Whole30 and wine is not on the list of things I can eat.  Sigh.... but I had a good time seeing Solvang and the surrounding wine country.
The Little Sister and I drove up early and then started walking around Solvang when we couldn't get a hold of the Middle Sister (her phone was on silent).  I have been to Solvang a few times, but the Little Sister never remembered going there and she loved it.  She does want to go to Copenhagen eventually and this Americanized version of a dutch town charmed her.  It is charming. And fun to walk around.  Which is what we did.  The weather was cold and crisp with a bright blue sky.  We walked a bit and the Middle Sister called.  We met her at the Fudge shop (my sisters have a thing for fudge), and then headed on our way.
The Middle Sister and her co-workers had a few wineries they wanted to try so we headed out to Foxen Canyon.  The sun hid early in the day and the weather turned cold.  We all had jackets and we wore them!  On a recommendation, we stopped in at Demetria and it ended up being my favorite stop of the day.
For dinner we went to a place called Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos.  Apparently this place makes flatbread pizzas for places like Whole Foods and opens up a space in their building a few nights a week to make it a restaurant.  Fun!  The only down side was that there was not a lot I could eat.  I ended up having two salads and the kale one was great!
The next morning the sisters and I seemed to be up before everyone else, so we explored a sleepy Solvang and they tried some ebelskiver (dutch pancakes?).  They said they were good.  They sure looked good!
After breakfast we wandered around the town watching the storm clouds over the windmills.
We met up with the rest of the group and stopped in Los Olivos before heading home.  
It was a great weekend and I am glad I got to go.  The sisters and I agree,  we need to take more trips like this! ...... and next time...... I hope to try some of the wine.....

UPDATED:
The little sister wrote about our trip and you can read it here!

12.09.2012

Holy Whole 30!

How should I start this story.....?  Let's start last Sunday night.

I had just returned from my backpacking adventure in San Jacinto and was excited to sleep in a warm BED next to T.  I was almost asleep (I am lucky to be one of those people who falls asleep within 5 minutes of going to bed) when T started talking to me.  It is typical of him to start talking to me

  1. When I am almost asleep 
  2. When I am sleeping and he wakes me up 
  3. When I am sleeping and he doesn't wake me up, but apparently I talk back to him.  

Typical.  Lucky for me I was in Stage one when T talked to me and he started talking about a book he was reading called "It starts with food".  This book advocates a 30 day body reset by changing what you eat.  He asked me if I wanted to do it with him for the next 30 day and I said sure and went to sleep.

Holy Whole 30! Guess what I signed up for? Paleo eating through January 2nd.  What does this mean? Yes to meat, vegetables, and fruit.  No to everything else.

Everything else.

All those other food groups.... like wine.  See you later wine, we can hang in 30 days.

And everything else, but you know what, it's not that big of a deal.  It is only for 30 days.  Granted those days are through the holidays, but I'm not worried about it.  I just think it must be how my Middle Sister feels being a vegetarian.  I just have to navigate food a little differently.

T mentioned it was a bad time to start anything like this, but I started it for him.  He has been feeling off for the last few months.  So off that he has gone to the doctor.  This from the guy who avoids doctors for the most part.  The doctor couldn't find anything wrong. Meanwhile someone at work had been talking to him about all these different books about food and health.  I guess this is the one that stuck.  So I started the Whole 30 because it is much easier to control what you eat when you are doing it with a loved one.  I joined T's Whole30 team.

One week into the program, I don't have much to report EXCEPT that T has started cooking way more.  This semester I had a pretty crazy schedule that included early mornings and late nights (one working and two for Italian class) and I got to come home to T cooking dinner this week.  I would give up wine just to have that (well maybe). He has been finding all these paleo recipes and keeps trying new things.  Awesome!

T has reported sleeping better and not having the mid-afternoon slump he has had in the past.  He also said he has more energy and better focus at work.  Those all seem like really good things.

So for the next few weeks we are doing the Whole 30.   We will make it even though it is Christmas, because it is just 30 days and it's not that hard to do something for 30 days.

Wish us luck!

12.05.2012

Backpacking San Jacinto State Park

This past weekend I had my first backpacking adventure in the Mount San Jacinto Wilderness.  Don't I look prepared for it in this photo?
I went backpacking for two nights with a Recreation class. My friends were teaching the class and they had asked me to be a driver for them.  I had kind of talked them into teaching the class and was excited to have a chance to go on my first backpacking trip with them and the students.
The trip was in the San Jacinto Wilderness, but basically it was just outside of Idyllwild. I've camped in Idyllwild many times (cabins, as a camp councilor) and didn't realize the San Jacinto Wilderness was so close.  It was cool to realize I had been in this area as we drove up the hill.
The weather this past weekend was not the best.  It was raining on our drive up the mountain and cold when we started the hike.  It wasn't raining on the hike up, but it was chilly and damp.  One cool thing was that fall had come late to Southern California so the leaves were changing color and decorating the trail.   The hike up was about 2.5 miles and everyone went at their own pace.  I was more toward the back (I have mentioned I am not that fast of a hiker before) but that was no problem.  The group ahead of me would stop for breaks and everyone would catch up with each other.
My friend Matt (one of the instructors) had given me everything I needed to backpack except clothes and boots.  He let me use all of his stuff and even brought all my food!  I was very spoiled on my first backpacking trip. Here is Matt cooking dinner for me the first night.  I had the Beef Stroganoff with Noodles.....

 And here is my tent alla Matt.  I did carry everything but my food up the hill including my tent.
The weather that night was VERY cold.  We all got in our tents at about 4:30pm when it started to rain and get windy.  I was so cold that night I wore every piece of clothing I brought to bed, including three pairs of socks.  I was still very cold all night...
The next morning I woke up and Matt made me some instant coffee and I was ready for the day hike.  Most students went with Mark (my other friend) on a 12 mile hike to the top of Mount San Jacinto.  It is the highest peak in Southern California, according to Mark, and the pictures from the top were awesome.  The view was not good because of all the weather, but some students brought back pictures of trees covered in ice.  Very cool.

Me?  I decided to do the short (3mi) hike to Tahquitz Point.  I mentioned before that fall had finally come to Southern California and my favorite thing on this hike was walking through the ferns.  In the summer the ferns would cover the ground and be a sea of green.  This time of year, they are a carpet of gold under the canopy of trees.  I had never seen anything like them before and would stop to take pictures whenever I saw them.  Truly enchanting.

  
 Another cool thing about this area is that the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) travels through part of it.  I had just finished reading Wild, a story of a girl hiking part of the PCT and was excited to get to say I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail!
The views on the trail were pretty amazing.  Below you can see the weather we were above.
Backpacking in the wilderness is a little different then camping in a camp ground.  For example, where are you aloud to camp in the wilderness?  At a camp ground each site is marked, but in the wilderness? It turns out the sites are marked as well.  You just need to know what to look for.  In the San Jacinto Wilderness spots to camp are marked by two rocks, a log, and two more rocks.  See the picture below.  Once you know what to look for, it is easy to find a place to camp.
The second night was an other cold one.  I think most of us turned in again at 4:30 (it was still windy) but on this night I remembered that Matt had given me hand and feet warmers!  I still wore a lot of clothes to bed, but boy did those feet warmers make a difference!  The low that night was 35 degrees....
The next morning everyone had breakfast and then packed up for our hike home.  It was still cold but I think I might have been adapting a little because it didn't seem as cold.  Matt snapped a picture of the group before we headed out.

I had a great time backpacking this past weekend.  I felt safe with the group and pushed myself out of my comfort zone just a bit.  The students were nice and I had my own personal chef the whole weekend.

Backpacking San Jacinto State Park gets a big thumbs up from me!