Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

...from this little pirate to you.

What are you up to tonight? We're passing out $40 worth of candy (we always get a ton of trick-or-treaters) while drinking wine and watching Orange Is the New Black. I can't wait. Enjoy! xo

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Work-Life Balance

{The gateway drug}
Flavio and I are leaning more in the direction of having kids - though we're not 100% sure we will, or if we do, when. It's exciting and scary. I know Flavio would be an absolutely amazing father and as I wrote in this post, parenting Guiri has been the gateway drug that's gotten us thinking about the rewards of children. One of my biggest reservations about parenting, though, is how to maintain a work-life balance after children.

When we were visiting my parents this summer, my mom told me she'd always struggled to find a healthy equilibrium between her personal and professional lives. When my brothers and I were young, my mom worked more than full time as a very successful administrator. I have always had so much respect for her - she is still at the top of her field and is a smart, hard-working woman. My dad is a very successful engineer who owns his own business and who spent much of my childhood traveling for work. My brothers and I had a longterm Irish nanny named Finola who was basically our second mother, and the three of us were in every afterschool program and extracurricular activity one could imagine because my parents were both working. I always knew my mother loved her work, so I was surprised to hear her recent confession that she wished she would have worked less, and instead, had lived more.  Profound words, no? She described the excitement of moving up quickly in her field, but said her advancement was always clouded with the sadness of missing some of our childhood milestones and family time.

So here's my dilemma: I love working and am afraid if we have a baby, I'll be unhappy staying home. But, I can barely leave Guiri home alone to go to work, and I know I wouldn't be happy leaving a tiny baby in daycare. After reading numerous studies on socialization and nurturing, I think the mother should be home with the baby for at least the first two years, if possible. And after, there is great value in daycare and preschool for young children. But, teaching higher-ed is so competitive in San Diego and I'm afraid leaving my job for a couple years would be professional suicide. So, true to nerdy form, I've been doing some research. How do women in the US do it? Is staying home for more than the measly six weeks of maternity leave professional suicide? Would I be unhappy and bored as a stay-at-home mom? I started googling and found this fascinating article/study on working women who opted out of the work force to stay home with their children. Ten years later, the sociologist checked back in with these women to see if leaving the workforce in favor of maternity had been the right choice for them. Most of these women eventually went back to work for varying reasons, and the article, citing various studies, sadly confirms that US women still can't "have it all"in terms of simultaneous employment and motherhood. Women who choose to leave the workforce to take care of their children are mostly shut out of high-powered jobs and upward mobility. Women who choose to stay in the workforce miss out on time with their children. Bah, it's all so depressing.  I think I'll have to move to Norway, with its 10 months of maternity leave at 100% pay, if I want to "have it all." The article did offer a glimmer of hope, though, as it seemed to reveal a formula for happiness and balance that struck me as a possible answer. The author writes:

 " ...Not a single woman I spoke with said she wished that she could return to her old, pre-opting out job -- no matter what price she paid for her decision to stop working. What I heard instead were some regrets for what might have been -- more time with their children, combined with some sort of intellectually stimulating, respectably paying, advancement-permitting part-time work."

Part-time work: Is that the key to balancing work and life as a mother? Certainly my career would suffer as there are plenty of other instructors chomping at the bit to get into the college system, and financially it would be tough, but maybe we'd be happier that way. It's a formula to think about, at least. As is moving to Scandinavia. :)

Not really related, but I found this article while researching and it's fascinating! American parents seem to no longer believe kids should do chores.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

This Imperfect Life

I have been tired and stressed and really hard on myself this week. I was crying to Flavio last night about feeling overwhelmed and spread thin, drowning in prep and grading, making mistakes, even missing a meeting, because I'm tired and overcommitted. I was feeling sad that I don't really have the time to do the non-work activities that make me happy and when I do fun things, I feel anxious because I know I have a mountain of work waiting for me. So Flavio, as he always does, talked me off a ledge, and encouraged me to schedule in at least a little bit of time for fun and relaxation, because work will always be there, and I'll be less burned out if I take a little time to do the things that bring me joy. Plus, he reminded me, this feeling of being overwhelmed is temporary, which is true, and really helpful to keep in mind. (Dear god, I will never take on 7 classes again. What was I thinking?!) Anyway, one of my favorite relaxation activities is reading before bed so I decided to pop on Amazon and see what looks good. I think knowing I'll have a fun book to read at the end of my long days will be one little way to keep my spirits up. To my delight, Amazon recommended a new anthology dedicated to one of my favorites, Nora Ephron, expected to come out next week. In it, Ephron was quoted as saying:

"When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you;
but when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel,
it's your laugh."

How true are these words? I'm in love with all things Nora Ephron because her legacy reminds us to lighten up, to laugh at ourselves, to embrace our insecurities, frustrations, and mistakes, and to find humor in the difficult. Not in a self-loathing way, but in a way that helps us see we're all in this same crazy boat, we all face the absurdities of life, so we might as well laugh at them, and tell about them. Maybe it's these imperfections that make for a life worth sharing with others.  I wondered if I should write about my gloominess in my blog, but decided to go for it because your banana peels are my banana peels - we all go through difficult times, so I'm going to embrace my hardships, and tell about them here when I'm feeling them, because that's what's going on with me right now, and writing about it helps me see it's not the end of the world anyway. After all, Ephron credits her success to "a sense of the absurd that makes it difficult to take many things terribly seriously."

Speaking of absurd, here are our pumpkins from last year. One by our friend, one by Flav, and one by me. Any guesses on which one of these is my handiwork? Clue: it's the frilly one. :)

Wishing you a silly weekend.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Throwback Thursday

We're exactly one week from Halloween and I still don't have my costume. Eeks! I've got some major work to do this weekend. Maybe I should dig up my 2006 Alice in Wonderland costume, and Flav can go as Alice's cholo boyfriend again...

We look so young!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

words to use more often

Swell. :)

{via pinterest}

Sunday, October 20, 2013


We lived it up this weekend. On Friday night my friend rented out an Italian restaurant in La Jolla for her fabulously over-the-top birthday party, complete with bottomless bubbly, dinner, and dancing. Flavio and I reintroduced a whole lot of delicious booze, bread, cheese, and cake into our diet and had a blast celebrating Kelly. It was nice to be up in gorgeous La Jolla for the evening - full moon, ocean breezes, and lots of 80s music!

Saturday morning I baked this pumpkin bread - it's been almost 80 degrees here so I'm trying to coax fall with seasonally appropriate foods. We spent the afternoon with my friend Katie and her dog in Coronado, and Katie took the sweetest photo of Flavio and me. Check it out!

Such a tender moment - a total framer. She also took a couple more, including one that I think will be perfect for Christmas cards. So thrilled, and impressed by her talent. Thanks, Katie! If you need a photographer, she will work for pumpkin bread. ;) We all had a blast, including the pups.

Saturday evening our friends hosted a dinner party that included Jager Spice shots and hookah by their bonfire. We agreed we are far too old for Jager, but it was fun to relive our college days. Lots of laughs, and great night.

Today we made brunch, and did some paleo cooking for the week, errands, etc. This evening we spent some time trying to get into The Walking Dead.  People, I don't know what the fuss is about. The acting is terrible and the storyline sucks. Halfway through the first episode I started writing this post and spotted Flavio playing on his phone. Needless to say, we turned it off and now we're watching the new season of Parenthood. I know people think Parenthood jumped the shark, but I still love the Bravermans.

We packed so much fun into this weekend and I'm not ready for it to end. I'm teaching an 8-week intensive Soc. class with 45 students and it starts tomorrow.  Overall, the next 2 months will be a very busy time at work (seven classes + co-advising the Sociology Club) and I'm feeling anxious tonight. I'm trying to do some deep breathing, and sipping chamomile tea. December 20 isn't that far off, right? It's one day at a time, I guess.

Looking over these other weekend pics is making me happy...

{Kelly is 30)
{Tanina's ricotta-lemon cream puffs}
{Coronado - by Katie}

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hate the same things.

Made me laugh.

So true. I knew Flavio was the one for me when I discovered we both hate parades, street fairs, county fairs, zoos, Disneyland -- most any place where there are crowds of oglers and sweaty tourists. He is the yin to my curmudgeonly yang. :)

We'll be avoiding the crowds this weekend, thank goodness, but lots of fun things happening. We're off to a friend's birthday dinner this evening, costume prep then a game night tomorrow, maybe some baking, perhaps some brunching, possibly some beaching - it should be 75 degrees and sunny. We'll see how it all goes.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. xo

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Paleo Challenge Wrap-Up / Recipes

I did a terrible job of updating my blog with progress reports as we worked through our 30-day Healthy Life Challenge with CrossFit Elysium, but we wrapped it all up yesterday and here's a re-cap.

Neither of us had a single cheat. We ate all paleo, for all 30 days. Plus, we tried to get 8 hours of sleep each night, did deep breathing to combat stress, and we kept up with our daily food journals and regular exercise routines. It was hard work and sometimes stressful, but worth it, we feel great, and I think these healthy habits will stick.

Weight loss: I lost about 5 pounds in 30 days with no real change in my workouts. Flavio, who has absolutely no weight to lose, lost about 5 pounds, too.

Decreased bloating: This was major for me. I felt noticeably less bloated while eating clean, my clothes fit more comfortably, and I saw a bit more definition in my arms and legs.

Stable blood sugar levels: Also an amazing change. Without the carbs and sugar, we both noticed pretty much immediately that we weren't experiencing any spikes and dips throughout the day and were no longer sluggish after meals. Overall, much more energy.

Decreased cravings for sugar, carbs and alcohol: I really think the challenge redefined our taste buds and helped eliminate unhealthy cravings. Example: We were eating baked sweet potato fries last night and I swear they tasted like pumpkin pie. Vegetables are so flavorful, fruit tastes really sweet and juicy, and salads with healthy fats and proteins are uber satisfying. I've missed wine with dinner and I really missed the ritual of baking, but I do not feel like I'm dying for non-paleo treats. In fact, we ate strictly paleo again today and I'm a little nervous to reintroduce carby/sugary foods into my diet.

What I learned about myself: The challenge helped me see that I am a better abstainer than moderator. The author of the book The Happiness Project (which I recommend) describes humans as "abstainers" or "moderators" with regards to their habits. Abstainers do best when temptations are eliminated completely (me). Moderators are most successful when they are able to indulge every now and again in an 80/20 model (Flavio). While I get panicky thinking I can never bake or eat pizza again (as a moderator would), I also now realize it's better for me to go cold turkey, re-set things mentally like we did during this challenge, and then set strict guidelines for myself post-challenge.

Where we go from here: Since Flav is a moderator and I am an abstainer, here's our plan. Eat paleo Monday - Thursday, allow some non-paleo indulgences on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays but overall still eat paleo all throughout the week. We really want to keep the clean eating going full-force because we both feel sooo much better, but we're also not ready to give up good pizza, wine, or baked goods forever. Plus, we like traveling, eating out with friends, etc. and food is very much part of those experiences. But we are absolute believers in the power of paleo and saw results in just 30 days - for us, paleo is the way to go long-term. When I'm tempted by non-paleo treats, I will weigh the consequences (bloating, insulin spikes, inflammation) and if it's not worth it, use this awesome strategy for saying no.

A few tips that made things easier: Overall, this is a really busy time of year for both of us, but the following helped keep us sane and on track - Choose 2 days/week as prep days (we cooked a lot on Sundays and some on Wednesday evenings); keep hard boiled eggs, cut up veggies, and lunch meat on hand for quick snacks; finally, cauliflower rice and sweet potato fries are the best things since sliced bread.

Some favorite recipes:

:: My favorite was this Butter Chicken with cauliflower rice (yum!)
:: Flavio's favorite was this Slow Cooker Kalua Pork (So good!)

:: We made our favorite meatloaf a couple times, but subbed the bread crumbs with almond meal

:: Totally enjoyed this stuffed zucchini

::  Cooked up my favorite chicken soup twice

::  Tonight we made this roast salmon with broccoli and it was fast/delicious, subbing rice vinegar w/ red wine vinegar

The best part is we ate a ton of veggies with most meals.

Final point: Cooking your own food is so important! I don't want to ever forget that, so I'm declaring it here and now.

It was a very meaningful 30 days. Cheers to healthy living and great food, no matter which path you choose!

PS: Day 1 of this Healthy Life Challenge.

Monday, October 14, 2013

8 Things About Me

On Friday I linked to the article 8 Things Every Happy Woman Should Have, and got to thinking about my own answers. At first I thought the questions were silly.  I mean, a "go-to drink" seems to trivialize true elements of happiness - you know, like meaningful relationships, health, kindness, and gratitude. But as I started thinking about my answers, I realized maybe the bigger point behind the article is to know thyself and to love thyself - because your unique 8 things make! I suspect some of my answers will change in years to come, so I'm putting them in my time capsule (aka blog) to look back upon some day. 

A go-to drink

Champagne or anything bubbly-based - I love a good French 75.

A go-to Karaoke song

There are many, but I love to do Salt-N-Pepa's 'Shoop'

A uniform

Love a belted dress, boots or heels, and a scarf. Pretty much wear this 5 days/week. Rarely wear pants - I feel like me in a dress. LOVE tights in the fall/winter (see cartoon - it's me every morning this time of year. Ha!).
A hair stylist they love

Jan Wilson - my hair stylist, my Thai mom, witness at our wedding, and one of my all around favorite people on earth.

An exercise routine

CrossFit, 3-4xs/week

A hobby

Baking, reading, movies, and now blogging.

A best friend

Shauna, my best friend and spirit animal of 22 years. Flavio is also my best friend. And so is Guiri. :)

A healthy sense of self

Still a work in progress. I am on the verge of turning 33 and am currently focusing on surrounding myself with positive people and energy, doing things that make me happy and healthy, and realizing the only opinion of me that matters in my own.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Haunted House

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I love getting our place all spooked up. I usually like to have our decorations up the first few days of October, but this year I've had very little time to dedicate to festive prep. Tonight we finally got around to getting our outside Halloweenified and though I still want to decorate the inside, carve pumpkins, and get my costume ready, I'm excited to have at least a few fun signs of the season up. 

{orange lights, ghosts}
{Flav doing a great job on the decor}

A couple of superfluous sleepy Guiri photos...

{Sunday night cuddles with dad}

Friday, October 11, 2013

Happy Friday + Fun Links

How is it already Friday?!  I feel like this sleepy cat and wish I could just nap in the sun right now...

This week has been good, busy, rainy, and sunny all in one. I've missed being on my blog, but haven't felt particularly inspired lately. Inspiration comes in waves, I guess. I have, however, been enjoying other people's contributions to the internets, and bookmarked a few links to share here today, in case you're in a web-surfing mood. I hope you have a most relaxing weekend. :)

:: The sweetest apple butter gifts - I might copy her packaging exactly.

:: 8 things every happy woman should have.

:: Dying to bake again (5 more days of our paleo challenge!!) and I need to make this bread asap.

:: Dying to drink again (I promise I don't have a problem!!) and I need The Spiced Pear in my life stat.

:: Can you read people's emotions?  I got 32/36, thankyouverymuch!

:: Thinking of buying this bar cart.

:: How to say no. (Fascinating study!)

{Photo via}

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Early Bird

{sunrise sky}

In my old age, I'm starting to realize there is something wonderful about being up early. For most of my life I've been a night owl and always scowled at those bright eyed and bushy tailed morning folk. But to my complete shock, I'm becoming one of them. Most mornings we're up at 5AM to work out. [Who am I?!] There are stars in the sky when we leave for the gym. We do our morning run and the streets are empty and quiet and the air is crisp. By the time our workout is over, the daylight is just peeking through and we drive home under hypercolor sunrise skies, chatting about the day ahead. At home, we blast Pandora, shower, linger over coffee, walk Guiri, and by the time I get to my 8AM classes, my head is clear and my body is awake. The wee small hours of the morning feel like stolen time. I'm glad to finally be discovering them.

PS: The one thing successful people do every morning

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Lost in Translation

It was mostly a chore-filled weekend, so I'm sure none of you are dying to see photos from my trip to Costco, etc. I'm lesson planning on this Sunday evening, so I thought I'd pop in and nerd out on a little sociology. Bear with me here - I think language is fascinating.

In sociology we teach a concept called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which suggests that language predisposes us to see the world in a certain way, and that the words we use are symbols that reveal much about our particular cultures, lifestyles, and values. To illustrate this concept, I show my students untranslatable words from other countries. Then we work together to determine what the unique norms and values of these cultures are, considering they use particular words that English can't identify. Artist Ella Frances Sanders illustrates untranslatable words and their meanings, and they are just wonderful...

You can see more of these lovely words here

I hope your weekend was filled with sobremesa, komorebi, waldeinsamkeit, mangata, or something else enchanting and untranslatable. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pets in Plaster

My classes are in what I call The Golden Period. Each semester there are 2 or 3 weeks, about a month into classes, where you can see that the students (and instructors) are really enjoying the learning environment - friendships have formed, midterms are still a ways away, students are understanding and applying the concepts, burnout is far off, and things feel abuzz with learning and curiosity. It's been busy, but overall exciting and I feel lucky to say I really love my job. One of my brightest students was absent earlier this week and when I asked her why she told me she was out because her dog got hit by a car and is now in a cast. A cast? I'd never heard of putting pets in casts - is that weird? But, of course pets need casts! That makes sense. While I was sorry to hear about her dog (who is expected to fully recover, by the way), the whole idea of pets in plaster made me curious. If Guiri were ever in a cast (knock on wood she's not!), I'd bedazzle that thing up with art and stickers and lots of colorful get well soon! wishes. I did some research and indeed, Animals with Casts is a Tumblr. While it's sad to see pets injured, I am happy in knowing their owners are getting them the care they need. Aren't these babies pitiful and sweet and heartbreakingly adorable? I just want to squeeze them.

I hope you have a wonderfully healing weekend.

You can see more cuteness here.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


{fall colors outside our house}

Fall comes quietly to San Diego. The sun is usually shining and the colors are mostly muted, so without any drastic temperature changes or splashy orange-red treetops, you have to be a sharp observer to catch its beginnings. This week brought slightly cooler evenings and I've been looking forward to trading out our summer bedspread for our winter comforter. I'm dreaming of nippy mornings, burrowed into flannel sheets. I find myself holiday planning, busy thinking about things that are still weeks and months away. Oddly, at the same time, I've been mourning summer, with its freedom and sunsets and drinks on our porch. But in the midst of all this pining, I realized something this evening: I'm missing the unique subtleties of this current transitional time, the beauty in the in-between. Coming home from work tonight, I noticed for the first time this year my evening drive means commuting under dusky skies. I took Guiri for a sunset walk in a sweater and flip flops  - a wardrobe combination unique to early October. As we approached our house at the end of the walk, our little home looked warm and inviting lit up in soft gold against the darkening night skies. Despite the slight chill, I could smell a neighbor's barbecue in the distance. Inside, I sliced up an apple, preferring it to the summery nectarines we have in our fridge, and ate it with the windows open and my legs wrapped under a blanket - maybe the best way to feel the end of summer, and the beginning of fall. I'm feeling more attuned to this between-season, with its subtle shifts in light, color, temperature, clothing, and produce.  I don't want to hurry these transitions, or the seasons themselves. It's tough - I usually find myself looking too far into the future or longing for the past, but I'm going to make a conscious effort to just be, and watch, and appreciate right now. Being mindful of the weather is at least a place to start, I think.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Last fall, Flavio and I found ourselves eating out a lot. Once the semester gets going, things get distracted and rushed and we realized we were in a rut where we were dining to-go more often than not. We decided to give ourselves a challenge: for the month of October we would not eat out - not even once. ONLY homemade meals. And guess what? We had a blast. We found ourselves trying new wines, getting creative with recipes, cooking together after work, and mostly being mindful of our meals and our money. 

This year we're on our paleo challenge (more than half way through now, by the way) and because of the dietary restrictions on said challenge, we're not really able to eat out anyway. We debated not doing Octoberfeast this year (the paleo challenge has been tough and we're feeling a little challenged-out), but when we remembered how doable and enjoyable it was, we decided to go for it. So! The 2nd Annual Octoberfeast is on! All homemade, all the time. No eating out until October 31 (except for a friend's birthday party on October 18).

Below are a few photos from 2012's 1st Annual Octoberfeast. There were plenty of nights with boring scrambled eggs, but these were some of our livelier dinners.