California dreamin’

9 06 2010

Flowers I found while visiting Ficklin Vineyards

Back from California and haven’t stopped thinking about it since 🙂

The flight there was a huge success, I was able to just let go and leave my anxities behind…it also helped that our flight was so early (6:23 am!!) that I was too tired to even know if I was anxious or not. We flew from Boston straight to San Francisco where we had a 3 hour layover. Having not ate much for breakfast or during the flight, I was STARVING. Even though I don’t like to fly on a full stomach, I knew skipping a meal was not an option. We (my mom and Aunt Jackie), ended up eating at this cute restaurant in the airport that had delicious veggie sandwiches. One of my favorite foodie things about CA: fresh, ripe avacado’s! They’re everywhere and always on the menu at restaurants. Unlike the ones here in MA that are little green rocks when you buy them at the store, the ones in CA (as with all of there produce) are ripe, fresh, and perfect:)

Anywho, on with the trip. So after the extended layover we got on a teeny, tiny prop plane from San Francisco to Fresno (where my Aunt Barbara lives). This plane we had to board from the tarmac which I always find to be fun (it seems like something from the movies…I don’t travel enough). I had to make this moment memorable, so as we descended the ramp to the tarmac, I lost grip of my boarding pass and it blew away in the wind! The pass flew somewhere under the ramp so I ran to get it at the bottom but was stopped by the security guard. I guess they frown upon passengers going into unauthorized/unsafe areas. I had to have the security guard get the pass for me once I explained what had happened. All worked out and I was fine but what a great way to begin a vacation 🙂 Only me…

The first night of the vacation was spent at my aunt’s in-laws beautiful home for a low-key backyard burger cookout. They asked us to bring a fruit salad so our first culinary adventure was finding wonderful fresh fruit from Trader Joe’s for that. We also spent the second night at that house, this time celebrating Memorial Day with a much bigger cookout. This time we made Mango Lime Salsa which came out fabulous!

Mango Lime Salsa:

1-2 Ripe Mangoes (depending on how many people you are serving

1 Red Pepper

3-4 plum tomatoes

1 jalapeno pepper

1/2 onion (we used purple but scallions are good, too)

1 lime, zested and juiced

1/2 cup dried chile spiced dried pineapple (optional but SO good!)

I was definitely skeptical about the dried pineapple, I’m not a huge fan of heat in my food, but they added such a great element. They had the consistency of like a gummy bear or other chewy candy with the taste of pineapple and just a little spiciness that went with the rest of the salsa. Highly recommend trying that one.

After our two evening with the in-laws, the rest of the trip was a just a girls trip with my mom, aunts, and I. We actually did a major amount of shopping at Target the first day which made us laugh…did we really fly cross-country to shop at Target!? But cute clothes were bought and we had fun so it was worth it!

My favorite part of the trip were the relaxing ones. Each morning we got up around 7 (we’re all early risers in this family which I love; we enjoy the whole day) and my mom and I walked for about a half hour. I’m a pretty active person in my life but part of my transition and growth in the past year has been learning to appreciate more passive versions of fitness rather than obsessing about speed, intensity, and calorie burn. It was also a time for my mom to just be together, not always talking, but enjoying the peace and beauty of early morning. The weather in Fresno at this time of year is perfect: mornings are cool (low 70s) and it gradually heats up during the day to the high 80’s (no humidity!) and it cool down in the evening to the upper 60s while you sleep. Perfection. I also enjoyed the peace of leisure reading and relaxation. During the school year, reading for class and work often keep me feeling like I have too much on my plate to pick up a book for leisure. I was happy to have got through two books while there, and got the drive going to keep on reading all summer long:)

Of course the absolute favorite part of the trip was visiting wineries! I had been looking forward to this for the past three years since my last trip to CA. We decided to skip the long drive and formalness of Napa and check out some of the local wineries in the area. The first stop was at Ficklin Vineyards, a small vineyard specializing mostly in ports.

It was nice to be somewhere so intimate and small and get to really learn about the wines and the process. Although I don’t have a taste for ports yet, I enjoyed trying them and also got to try some of the reds they make, too. There were also a few photo op’s as the only ones there and we took full advantage:

After this winery we asked the tour guide what other places were in the area. He mentioned a few vineyards but also recommended a wine tasting bar down the road that sampled various wines from vineyards all around the region. We all decided that having many options was the best bet and headed there. It ended up being a GREAT choice!

We were able to sample 5 different wines for $5. We decided to split up, my mom and I shared 5 and my aunts shared 5 . We tried to choose all different ones to we got to try 10 different wines (and the woman threw in an extra for each of us so it turned out to be 12, oh lovely!). My mom and I are big red wine fans so we tried a Pinot Noir, Malbec, Shyraz, Vinto Tinto, and another one which I cannot recall at the moment. We loved the Pinot and the Malbec so we each bought one of those. Such fun! The woman who took us on the wine “tour” was wonderful and so knowledgable about the Vineyards that gave them their wines and the owners who make the wine. If you are ever in the Fresno area and want a fun stop to sample many wines I highly recommend Appellation California.

Much wine, many laughs, and wonderful food were had throughout the trip. We used each night to try new recipes, each of us contributing an idea or a tried and true favorite (my contribution was grilled apple salad with red peppers and goat cheese). Although it was not an excursion-based vacation, or one spent on a tropical beach, it was a wonderful way to spend time and bond with my mom and aunts as well as a time to relax and recharge.

I am happy to have gone and happy to be home too.


Control and recovering from type-A personality

27 05 2010

My inspiration for this post came today during my yoga class. We were in the middle of some more intense movement poses and my instructor kept using the the word “control” in reference to our ability to maintain difficult poses. I found myself getting SO stuck on that word…what place did control have in my yoga practice!? Shouldn’t I be more relaxed and zen!?!

Wow, Em, take a step back and relax. As I’ve been on my road of recovery from living as a type-A person, I have gathered a list of taboos. The world control is probably the top of that list! It just reminds me of the neurotic (yes, psych term) need to have your hand on over little detail, nothing spared! Its how I felt about my eating and exercise last year, it’s how I used to feel about making plans with friends, it’s most certainly how I believed I would maintain the insanely fast-paced life style that I lived in my last two college years. Funny how one little word can bring up so much emotion and energy.

Thankfully I also came to a new understanding of the word during the class. I began to realize that my instructor was not talking about some neurotic need to control, but rather a discipline to hold on and persevere despite the discomfort of the movements. It is about being able to remain focused on the moment and the position while hundreds of muscles, big and small, are screaming “enough”! Suddenly control was not such a bad thing after all.

I knew that going to this yoga class today was a must; I am leaving for my trip on Saturday and this was my last for sure time to get in a yoga class before leaving. The class was my chance at carving out some time and space in a busy, scheduled day to connect my mind and body and honor the present moment. The class fulfilled that expectation and much more.

I feel that I am in such a better place than I was a few days ago regarding this trip. The bundle of nerves that I was on Tuesday was in no way helpful or positive. I am letting go and practicing my non-type-A lifestyle 🙂

I hope to post again tomorrow and maybe even get a post or two in from my trip. I am extremely excited because I recently purchased a new Panasonic Lumix point and shoot digital camera and am also taking along Eric’s Nikon D60 for some days when I am feeling a bit more creative and also to get some delicious shots of the food we will be making! I have really wanted this blog to include pictures but I have not had a good camera accessible lately. That will be changing soon and I am planning to make this blog a lot more visually interesting and personalized.

That is all for now, hope everyone has a good night!

Learning about myself and a strange dream

25 05 2010

So today has been a bit of a rocky start for me. I could just NOT get out of bed this morning. I think the combination of allergies and a really long day yesterday just kept me rolling over and ignorning the clock. I finally got up around 9 (late for this early riser) and hopped in the shower. I was intending to go to the beach today with my  good friends but my stomach had different plans for me. I guess my stomach really tells me when I’m stressed and today it was screaming loudly. I get frustrated with it because I know thats why I feel the way I do and yet I have not found a way to stop it. I usually just ignore it but some days I really just can’t. I know that it has a lot to do with the stress I am having about my impending trip to California (I should be excited, right!?) Well I am SO excited for the trip, I’ve been planning for a few months and talking about it for a couple years. Its not the trip itself that I am worried about but just the flying. I know that I am a nervous flier and that thought has been in the back of my head for about a month now. I  know that seems a bit crazy/obsessive but for anyone who has travel anxieties you will know what I mean. I just find it funny that its so cyclical: I worry about not feeling well on the flight which makes me not feel well which makes me worry about how I will feel when the flight comes on Saturday. I honestly want to just let it ALL GO and just enjoy every bit of this vacation and that is my true goal. I have been in need of a true get-away for a while now and I don’t want to be the reason it does not turn out as wonderful as I have planned.

The trip will go something like this: early flight out of Logan on Saturday morning with my mother and aunt. We will have a comfortable flight, landing in San Fran 9 or so their time.  We will have a short layover and board a smaller plane and fly to Fresno airport. My aunt will be awaiting our arrival and we will head back to her home (a short 10 minute drive!) to begin our week of fun. Memorial day cookout on Sunday, trip to wineries at some point in the week, shopping, relaxing, sunning, and tons of healthy cooking and recipe experimenting!  One of my favorite thing about spending time with my mom and aunts is that we all love to cook fresh, healthy food. They love finding new recipes to try and we love buying fresh, local produce when we are in CA. This is one of the few opportunities I get to be with my aunt in CA and really spend time and bond with her. She has lived on the west coast for most of her life and all of mine so our time together has always been limited. I really look forward to seeing her and am so excited about this trip. All that being said, my trip will be wonderful and low-stress 🙂

On to that dream that I had. This is so wierd and I remembered it just as I was about to write this post. So in this dream there was my stressed self and then this other side of myself. I was supposed to be meeting my parents at some sporting event for my boyfriend’s brothers but I has having trouble getting there. The stressed me just felt like there were too many things that I needed to do before I could leave the house and get there. When I finally did get there, the other side of myself was already there, sitting with my parents and my boyfriend, enjoying herself and the game. I remember just sitting there watching her thinking how happy she was and how beautiful she looked…and she didn’t even know it.

This is definitely not me speaking vainly, I’ve struggled with my perception of myself for most of my life and have always had a hard time seeing myself as beautiful and attractive as I am. This dream struck me though because it was like being able to sit back and see myself for who I am and really accept and appreciate that. It moved me to think that I am becoming able to realize that (even on a subconscious dream level) because it’s something I have been working on for a while now. Even though I am frustrated with myself today for feeling this way and not going to the beach I am wanting to do, I think that being kind to myself, rather than angry, will serve me much better. As I have said, I am on a journey, and even though today felt like a setback I am making tremendous steps forward whether I realize it or not. I know that I will not be able to kick some of my anxious “habits” in a few days, but I am working hard at it and becoming much stronger every day.

Enjoy the day everyone, whatever it is bringing for you 🙂