Hi and happy Monday, everyone! I thought I’d take the time to share some things that I’m anticipating and excited about right now. It’s great to have things to look forward to and in general, it’s good to be excited about life. Please take a moment to tell me what you’re looking forward to in your life. I’d love to hear!
Cirque du Soleil: Jesse and I are going to see Totem this Wednesday night. It was a late birthday gift to him from me. We plan to go out to dinner beforehand and making a full evening of it. We try and catch the Cirque du Soleil performances whenever they come through town because they’re always amazing. It always makes me want to change my mind about what I want to be when I grow up. Gotta start training young for those kinda skills though.
Hawaiian honeymoon: I know I’ve already mentioned our belated honeymoon, but it’s coming right up! We leave for Kauai April 25th and will be there for seven nights. Then, we fly to Oahu for the last three nights to visit some of our favorite stomping grounds. A couple things we already have planned are zip lining in Kauai and going on a bike tour in Honolulu or the North Shore. A former colleague of mine (from when I worked at a PR firm) just moved to Honolulu with her husband and opened a bike tour business there. They now have a location in Portland and one in Honolulu. So cool!
Animal Flow: The talented Mike Fitch himself will be here in Portland April 12th and 13th, at Recreate, leading the certification. I’m blessed with great employers who are hosting the certification and also paying for me to do it. It will be hard work, but valuable and fun too. Plus, have you seen Mike Fitch?
September MI trip: Jesse and I just booked a week long trip to Michigan September 24th – October 1st. My dear cousin is getting married on the 27th and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. She was like another sister to me growing up (kissin’ cousins, like our parents said), so missing it is not an option. It will be a beautiful wedding and a lot of fun too.
Leftover meatloaf: I will be sharing the recipe of my classic, go-to meatloaf later this week, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, we’ll be enjoying the leftovers for the next couple of days. As a kid, I detested meatloaf in any way, shape or form, but now I like it, especially the leftovers.
As some of you know, my husband and I experienced something new last weekend: floating in a sensory deprivation tank. We were both familiar with it, but had never done it before. After hearing more people talk about the benefits, including Jim Laird at the Train Like A Girl 2 seminar I recently attended, I decided that Jesse and I needed to go ASAP. So, I booked us each a 90 minute float at a place called, Float On here in Portland. For those who live in the Portland area, this is just one of several places you can go to float here in town.
Floating is meant to be a relaxing, detoxifying and meditative experience in which you float privately in 10 inches of water containing 850 lb of epsom salt (so much magnesium!). The water is the same temperature as your skin, which keeps you from getting hot or cold, and causes you to no longer feel where your body ends and the water begins. Also, because of the high salt content, your skin will not wrinkle while soaking. It’s encouraged to float in the nude and in total darkness, but there is the option to wear a swimsuit and keep the lights on. Bathing suits can get uncomfortable and become a distraction, which is why floating naked is recommended though. You’re in your own private room anyway, so going without a bathing suit is no big thing.
I had the luxury of being in what I called the, “queen suite” which featured a large float pool that was open and not inside a tank, like the others. I could literally make a big X-shape with my body and it allowed me ample room to spread out. It was like floating in a huge, shallow jacuzzi (minus the jets, of course). Jesse was in a medium-sized tank that had a door entry, like the one pictured above and was known as an, “Ocean Room.” There is a smaller sized tank option as well. It is more womb-like and many people refer to it as a “space pod.” You can’t stand upright when entering and have to step your feet in and then squat down to get inside.
Anyway, after getting the 101 from one of the employees, Jesse and I each made it to our designated float rooms. I put in the wax ear plugs, showered and then stepped into the float pool. Upon getting in, I pushed the big button on the wall to turn off the lights and immediately laid back into the water. I was there a whole three seconds when I felt the weight from my hair (it was pulled back in a messy bun) pulling my head back. I immediately sat up, which was a mistake because super salty water ran down my face and onto my lips (thankfully, missed my eyes). It tasted terrible and I knew I needed to get up to pat off my face before trying to get comfortable again. But then, I couldn’t find the light button in all the darkness. I felt my way around the walls and finally found it. I admit, I went into slight panic mode for about 10 seconds or so, and didn’t know how I was going to last 90 minutes. Not only that, but I got cold, which shouldn’t happen. I later found out from one of the employees that the tank temperature started dropping right at the time that my float started. He caught it quickly and adjusted it, but this explains why I was cold for a bit.
I shut the light off again after drying my face and re-situated myself, so that I could see the light shining under the doorway (remember, mine was a big pool and not inside a tank). I wanted my head slightly propped up for floating (to keep my spine neutral), but unfortunately, the bath pillow was too slippery and wanted to bob to one side every time I laid my head on it. I tried folding the head pillow over the ledge and leaning against it, but was so buoyant in the water that I floated away from it every time. This kinda made me laugh, actually! There was also a small noodle to use, but it was too light rest my head on, unless I held it with my hands (I did for a while too). Then, I just held my head in my clasped hands for a bit, which was quite comfortable until my arms got tingly. That’s when I realized I had to get comfortable with my head unsupported. I laid in a shavasana (corpse) pose and had the small noodle underneath the backs of my knees for a bit. I closed my eyes and my body finally began to ease. I remember getting into a dream-like state, but was still somewhat conscious (I recall dreaming about Hawaii). By the time I figured things out and got comfortable, I was probably 30-40 minutes into my float. The next 50-60 minutes went by in the blink of an eye and I would have sworn it was only a few minutes or so.
To “bring you back,” soft music starts to stream into the room, letting you know to gradually make your way out. You have plenty of time to slowly ease out of the water, shower and get dressed. Like a massage, they don’t want you to rush.
Afterward, I felt incredibly chill and my legs that had been really sore upon going in, felt much less sore. I felt sort of loopy and noodle-like too — so relaxed. I also noticed that my skin felt very soft from all the salt.
Jesse and I went down the street to eat Thai food for dinner afterward and I kept commenting on how good I felt, and Jesse too. When we got home, I felt so tired and still very relaxed. Once I finally slipped into bed, I felt like I was on a cloud and then fell fast asleep.
Even though I had a hard time getting settled in the beginning of my float (and Jesse did too), I would definitely float again. I’d know more what to expect the second time around and what it takes for me to get comfortable. I know that floating can be difficult for people the first time and some people don’t even get to the point that I did. Every time thereafter will be easier to relax and settle down. Jesse and I both plan to do it again in the near future.
If you ever have the opportunity to float, DO IT, but know that it may be difficult to relax and get comfortable the first time, or even the first few times. Like anything, you can’t completely make up your mind or formulate an opinion after the first time experiencing something new though.
If you have questions, feel free to shoot me a comment and also check out Float On’s FAQ.
Have you ever floated before? If so, what did you think?
I don’t rely on many foods that come in a package or can, but there are several that I consider staples in my kitchen. These products are legit, pure, minimally processed and something I can feel good about too. Sometimes, I mention what brands I use in my recipes, but I thought I’d put it together in one handy list. Here goes:
- Trade Secret Raw Coconut Aminos: this is the only brand I know of that makes coconut aminos, in fact. Use this fermented coconut product in place of soy sauce or tamari. It’s free of wheat, soy and additives. Oh, and it tastes salty and delicious too.
- Aroy-D and Natural Value full-fat coconut milk: this stuff is as pure as it gets without making it yourself. There’s no gums, thickeners, stabilizers, sugar, preservatives or additives. These are my only two go-to brands. Aroy-D comes in boxes and Natural Value comes in BPA-free cans. Aroy-D also makes a wonderful coconut cream that I love.
- Tessemae’s All Natural dressings/sauces: these are paleo-friendly (made from extra virgin olive oil) and come in a variety of delicious flavors. The paleo-friendly flavors even say ‘paleo’ on the label! The BBQ sauce is legit and I love the ranch (non-creamy) and cracked black pepper atop of ground meat and veggies. I find it in the refrigerated section at Whole Foods.
- Kerrygold grass-fed butter: I always buy unsalted, unless it’s out of stock, but I absolutely love this butter. It comes from Irish grass-fed cows and tastes delicious. I find it for the best price at Whole Foods, but I think it’s reasonable at Trader Joe’s too. I pay $3.19/block (equivalent to 2 sticks) at Whole Foods. I used to get it for $2.99, but Whole Foods raised the price a few months ago. Also, this is the butter I use when I make my own ghee at home.
- Vitacost organic extra virgin coconut oil: this is now the only place I buy coconut oil because I can buy a 54 oz container for about $22 at most, but often have a coupon code and get it for under $20. If you stock up on other things, you can usually get free shipping too. Once you buy from Vitacost once though, you’ll be notified of deals all the time, especially on Vitacost brand stuff. It’s totally worth it.
- Coconut Manna or MaraNatha coconut butter: these are the creamiest coconut butters of the brands I’ve tried, and so smooth too. I generally pick up a jar of either when it’s on sale and have found it for as cheap as $5.99. I never pay full price for either of these brands. Sometimes, I’ll refill my empty jar with Let’s Do Organic Coconut Cream Concentrate, which comes in a little packet. I soften it first by placing it in a bowl of hot water, and then empty the contents into the jar. This stuff is a little grittier and sometimes needs to be mixed with a little water before using (depending on what you’re using it for). The bonus with this stuff is that it’s cheaper. I always pay less than $3 for an 8 oz box.
- Bernard Jensen’s powdered gelatin: this gelatin powder is grass-fed and fantastic. You get a lot of bang for your buck and can use it in many different ways. It’s so good for your gut and skin too!
- Pomi tomatoes and tomato sauce: this brand is imported from Italy, so you get exactly what’s on the label, which is nothing but pure. In the U.S., companies don’t have to list an ingredient if the product contains 0.5 grams or less, so it’s possible you get added sugar or other unwanted ingredients. Pomi comes in boxes too, so there’s no worry of BPA. I love that the tomato sauce has a cap on the container too because sometimes, I just need a little bit.
Happy Monday, everyone! I am thrilled to have a more relaxing day after a hectic weekend of Christmas shopping and work on both days (though work wasn’t the hectic part). I don’t work today, but do need to finish wrapping my gifts and then get to UPS to ship everything out. I guess the UPS part could be a little bit chaotic, but I gotta get it done if I want my family to receive their gifts by Christmas Eve.
I really wish Jesse and I could both go home for Christmas, especially because it’s the first year in a long time that all the cousins will be together at my family Christmas with my mom’s side. As we’ve grown older, that rarely happens anymore. Not only that, but I’d love to see my grandparents and family on the other side too. My grandma, who is 88, was just diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery last week — there will be more surgery to come too. I don’t normally ask for this kind of stuff, but if you don’t mind, will you please send out some positive thoughts and prayers for her and my family? It would really mean a lot and I would be most appreciative.
I also would love to go home because it’s a winter wonderland back there and the snow is so beautiful! I’ve been seeing pictures and it makes me want to go out and play! I’d especially love to play with my little nephews in the snow. Plane tickets are just too expensive this year and it’s not within our budget (or even close). On the bright side, it’s giving us the chance to start some of our own traditions and have a Christmas tree too, which we wouldn’t have gotten if we had travel plans. Not having to deal with the crazy airport and possible delays is nice too. I’m still very grateful this holiday season and happy to be celebrating in our own way.
Anyway, here’s a little update as to what’s been going on with our 24 days of togetherness:
Day 1: Go out for breakfast or dinner
Day 2: Share your first memory of one another
Day 3: Take a walk and get a coffee or tea
Day 4: Share a favorite Christmas memory
Day 5: Buy a small gift for one another
Day 6: Drink a hot adult beverage
Day 7: Make paleo rum balls (recipe to come!)
Day 8: Go out to see a movie (we went and saw Catching Fire)
Day 9: Pick out a new Christmas ornament
Day 10: Workout together for a week (on a 3-day split)
Day 11: Watch Elf
Day 12: Make breakfast for dinner (we had bacon with an Italian chicken sausage and broccoli scramble)
Day 13: Share 5 things we like about our relationship (funny/cute things)
Day 14: Wild card
Day 15: Put a small surprise in each other’s stocking and don’t open until Christmas day
Day 16: Find and learn a game we can both enjoy (2 player card game, board game or otherwise)
Meanwhile, I’m slacking on recipes a bit. I feel like I got back into a rut after Thanksgiving. I’ve been making things that I’ve already shared before or that aren’t really worthy of sharing because they are so straight forward (like steamed veggies with butter and chicken sausage). If you have suggestions of recipes or the types of dishes you’d like to see, please let me know! I am totally open to ideas and feedback. Thanks in advance!
Along with celebrating Thanksgiving, Jesse and I decorated the house for Christmas over the holiday weekend. We even got our first Christmas tree, which I was really excited about (and still am, actually). We strung up lights around the house, hung our stockings, decorated the tree, played Christmas music and drank wine. It was wonderful and cozy.
24 Days of Togetherness
We decided to do something new and sort of cheesy this year too: 24 Days of Togetherness. I discovered this idea from Tina of Carrots ‘N’ Cake and thought it seemed like a fun holiday idea. Like Tina and her husband did this year, Jesse and I decided to pick 12 days together and then pick 6 on our own, that would be a surprise for each other. We also tried to choose things that are doable on most days and inexpensive or free. I’ll do a full recap on this once it’s over, but if you want to partake (don’t worry if you don’t do the full 24 days — just do however many days are left leading up to Christmas) and need some ideas, here’s some of the things that we chose together:
- Go out for breakfast or dinner
- Watch Elf
- Go for a walk and get a tea or coffee
- Have a hot adult beverage (make it at home or go out)
- Go see the Christmas tree at night in Pioneer Square
- Make rum balls (a paleo version, of course)
- Share 5 things we love about our relationship (funny things)
- Go out for a cocktail
- Workout together for a week (on a 3-day split…we’re very specific)
- Pick out a new ornament
- Buy each other a small gift
We decided we would take turns picking each day and pick first thing in the morning, so we can plan for it or do it that morning, if appropriate. So far, we’re having fun with it, even if it is a little cheesy. On Sunday, I chose the “go out for breakfast or dinner,” so we met up for breakfast after we both got done working that morning. Yesterday, Jesse chose one of that I made, “share your first memory of each other.” It’s fun to do something like this and focus on spending time together in other ways.
Jesse and I had a wonderful holiday, and hope you did too! Despite having a couple invites, we still decided to do our own thing and stay home, partly because we were already deep in our food planning. We also already had a vision of how we wanted to spend the day.
We both helped coach the holiday workout in town at the gym, but after that, we were home the rest of the day. I had already made some of the dishes and done some prep, so the food stuff was pretty easy. Shortly after getting home, we both called our families to check in, catch up and send our love. Then, midday while the turkey was cooking, we roasted chestnuts and drank wine. When dinner was all ready, we feasted and everything was delicious. Later on after dinner, we enjoyed our butternut squash pie with homemade half & half yogurt on top while watching, Home Alone. Oh, and we did so in our pajamas too — the best!
Our dinner included mashed cauliflower with lots of butter, bacon fat roasted Brussel Sprouts with bacon pieces mixed in, spiced cranberry relish and local, pasture-raised turkey. Oh, and pie too, as mentioned above. For the turkey, I brined it for two days (bought the brine from New Seasons — no sugar in it either!), then slathered it in grass-fed butter mixed with fresh herbs and stuffed it with lemon, onion and more fresh herbs. It’s the same way I made my first turkey last year and it tasted just as delicious as the second time around.
Hope you all had a joyous holiday as well.