Friday, February 15, 2013

Fitness and Food

I guess it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense that I am going to be talking about exercise and eating in one post, but it's where my mind is at the moment, so that's what I'm doing.

I am in need of something to focus on post trip and so I have decided to create two goals for myself. 

The first is to work-out/exercise 4-5 days per week.  This will be easy for now, but I'm sure it will be much harder when I start working again in a few weeks.  I'm going to figure out a schedule in the next couple days and I'm hoping that will help me stick with it.

The second has to do a little with our trip and a little with my love for food and cooking.  On our trip there was a dish in each country that jolted my tastebuds and left me craving more.  Here are a few of my favorite food photos from our trip:
Fish & Chips in New Zealand
Panzerotti at Luini in Milan
Svickova in Prague - delicious!
Ottoman dish with eggplant in Istanbul

Street noodles Bangkok
Khmer Vegetable Amok in Cambodia
Wearing my apron at my cooking class in Hanoi Vietnam

Dumplings ready to be steamed in Seoul South Korea

My plan is to recreate my favorite dish from each country over the next few months.  I have already attempted one dish recreation, but I wasn't entirely satisfied with the result.  I made Svickova while we were in Richmond visiting Paul and Meredith, it tasted great, but the texture wasn't quite right.  So, I am going to set out to try that recipe again along with attempting several others.  I haven't figured out a recipe for each country yet, but for now this is where I'll start:

Italy - Ribollita (a soup made with white beans and veggies and thickened with bread)
Czech Republic - Svickova (marinated beef with a divine tasting sauce and bread dumplings - this is the one I tried a few weeks ago)
Turkey - Not sure yet
Israel - Shakshuka (vegetables in tomato sauce with a poached egg)
Jordan - Not sure yet
India - Chicken Korma (chicken with a ginger cashew sauce)
Maldives - Not sure yet
Sri Lanka - Not sure yet
Bangkok - Basil Noodles (thai noodles stir fried with basil and chili sauce)
Cambodia - Khmer Amok (chicken or fish in a coconut curry sauce)
Vietnam - Vietnamese fried spring rolls and lemongrass chicken
South Korea - dumplings

I plan to blog my cooking experiments and provide recipes, depending on how they turn out.  To all my friends in Houston, hope you are hungry and can come over for dinner and help us eat my experimental world cuisine.

Wish me luck!

Monday, February 11, 2013


A few weeks ago I wrote this: 

The past few days I've been feeling pretty lost, which is kind of funny because we aren't on the road anymore.  Actually, I think it's the sitting still that is leaving me feeling so confused.  We spent every day for the past five months living each day in the present - enjoying the people, culture, art and experiences that surrounded us.  Now, I find myself completely focused on the future - what type of job do I want, where will we end up living, should I go back to a legal job or find something more personally fulfilling?  These thoughts unfortunately have led me to spending the past two days getting caught up on episodes of Grey's Anatomy and delving into the Downton Abbey series.  The fact that I have spent the past two days in front of the television makes me feel even worse, and yet, I'm not sure what to do about it.

I expected acclimating into "normal" life after this trip to be hard, but I don't really think that I expected these to be the feelings I would have...

I never posted it because I felt conflicted about putting this thoughts out there for the world to see.  I decided today that I would post these thoughts as a part of a larger post, one that is a bigger picture post. 

So, here it is, the bigger picture of life since we returned to the U.S. 

We got back on December 22nd and fell immediately into the holiday celebrations with my family in Dallas.  In some ways it felt the same as any other Christmas in Dallas, except Charles was with me (a first) and I was somehow different.  It was a difference I didn't really come around to though for a few more weeks.  Those first few days of being back from our trip were filled with telling stories to family and friends, attending Christmas mass, dinners with family, wrapping presents, and sharing in the overall joy of Christmas.  It was great!  But, I don't really think that it truly hit me that our adventure was ending, we were still on the travel high and it continued as we left Dallas to head to Sarasota, Florida to visit Charles' family. 

After the long drive from Dallas to Sarasota we were happy to relax and enjoy the beautiful beaches, sunny afternoons at St. Armand Circle, and most of all hanging out with Charles' brother Andrew and his family and Charles' parents.  We had a great time celebrating Christmas and exchanging gifts, celebrating Charles' parents wedding anniversary, kayaking and playing on the beach, and overall just being together.  It was a great visit and we shared many photos and stories from our trip, but in a way we were still on our trip.  Here are some photos from our Christmas in Florida:

Lola - so happy to be traveling with us!

Opening presents.  Lola waited patiently to tear up the balled up wrapping paper
Heading to the beach

Beach soccer
Family Portrait
Kayaking and Paddle boarding

Andrew giving the SUP a try

The whole fam out on the water.
Playing skittles on New Years Eve


Saying goodbye to warm Sarasota
After we left Sarasota we headed up to Richmond Virginia to meet the newest member of the Watson family!  Charles' younger brother Paul and his wife had a baby on New Years Eve and we planned to spend our last few weeks of our trip helping them adjust to life with a newborn.  We arrived in Richmond and settled into their basement and helped with all sorts of things around the house - a few basement repairs, cooking, diaper changes, bottle washing, bouncing sweet baby Hayden, and anything else that needed to be done.  We had a great time and really loved getting to see Hayden grow and change over the course of the three weeks we were there.  I enjoyed getting caught up on tv shows I had missed (Grey's Anatomy, Parenthood, and Downton Abbey) and started a knitting project to keep me busy.  We both updated our resumes and applied to a few jobs and spent our free time discussing what comes next.  Although we still don't know the answer to that question I think we are both adjusting to the fact that not knowing is ok.  Here are a few pics from our time in Richmond:

Taking Hayden's photo - One Week Old
Hayden's first trip to Ledbury

Hayden the center of attention at Ledbury

Proud parents celebrating with birth year port

Another birth year port celebration

Sweet baby
 We had one last stop planned on our way from Richmond to Houston - a job fair in Atlanta.  Charles has worked with a company that places teachers at private schools around the country, it's actually how he found his last job in Houston.  So, we thought it would be worth it to stop in Atlanta and get a jump on the job search process.  The added bonus was getting to spend time with our friends the Wildmans!  We spent a week in Atlanta with Andy and Caroline and their three precious kids, it was a blast.  We also got to watch the super bowl with our friends Brooks and Missy.  All in all a very worthwhile week.

As we said goodbye in Atlanta our plan was to make our way back to Houston as quick as possible.  But, we ended up stopping to stay with some friends in New Orleans instead of driving the whole way in one day.  What started as an evening with friends in NOLA turned into staying for Mardi Gras parades the next day.  We figured we were still on our trip and Mardi Gras seemed like the best way to spend our last night before we came back to Houston.  So, we went to the Nyx Parade and the Druids Parade with Claudia and Brad and had a wonderful time!  On our way back to Houston we took the long way (something we always say we want to do, but never seem to have the time) so we could stop at some of the old sugar plantations on the banks of the Mississippi.  It was beautiful!

Mardi Gras in NOLA

New Orleans Plantation - Oak Alley

Oak Alley

Last stop of the trip!

So, we're back and becoming reacquainted with Houston - traffic, our closets, the grocery stores, and having a bed of our very own.  It's strange.  I find myself reminiscent many times a day...thinking about an afternoon in Italy, a sunset in Jerusalem, the honking in India, or the thrill of not knowing what tomorrow holds.  It's funny because I still don't entirely know what our future holds, but it's different, when you're not on the road.

So, there you have it.  I'm still just as lost as I was when I wrote that post above a few weeks ago.  But, I think I'm doing better about focusing on the present day and not worrying about the future.  The posts here on the blog will probably be less exciting than they have been this past year, but I still plan to write, so come back and check in soon to see what we're up to.