Saturday, September 10, 2011

Learning to fall

If there’s one thing I would say I am surely lacking, it would be athletic ability. My fella is quite in love with snowboarding and I'd always thought it looked like fun. Which is why I decided to spend many weekends over the dreary Seattle winter tumbling down a mountain.  

My first encounter with snowboarding involved a lesson in Breckenridge with an instructor who liked to yell. It ended with me the walking down the mountain-snowboard in hand. While I’m not proud of it, I must admit that if I am not immediately good at something, I lose all desire to participate. This is probably one reason I am so lacking in athleticism. I mean, how many people are actually born great athletes? Most practice for hours on end only to develop average abilities.

Most days on the mountain went like this: falls too numerous to count-some painful and some funny, many humiliating encounters with more experienced snow people, an abundance of tears, some small successes, all while the ever-patient boyfriend stands by coaching and encouraging.

We even went to Jackson Hole on vacation where I discovered that “world class” means “too steep for my ass.”

I was determined not to give up on something because it was difficult to learn (again). In a last ditch effort, I proposed we spend a long holiday weekend (the last weekend of the season) in Whistler.  As we made our way down the first run, I fell three times in 15 minutes.  At this point, I was defeated and announced that snowboarding “just isn’t for me.” I gave it a good run and just plain didn’t like it.  Over it or not, I had to finish the run we started in order to get back down.  And it was the best run yet….

Suddenly it all came together-I was making turns and moving fast and NOT FALLING.  I threw myself back in the snow and laughed hysterically at how much fun it was!  As soon as I let it go, it all fell into place.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My happy place is often in the kitchen.  While I am under no delusions that I will be the next Top Chef, it’s certainly a nice daydream.  The chopping and stirring have a calming effect on my psyche.  At infrequent intervals I’ve successfully made stuffed Cornish games hens, Chilaquiles, cakes from scratch, and the secret-recipe Italian “gravy.”   

But, when work got demanding I didn’t have the time or energy for that sort of thing and abandoned cooking altogether.  I was just the cook that busted out one great meal every 6 months…and I felt guilty about this.  It was as if I was somehow failing my loved ones if I couldn’t delight them with elaborate meals (maybe this is the Southern girl in me).  On occasion, I threw together something simple but it felt like cheating.

Recently, two of my cousins got married within two weeks.  For both of their wedding showers, the host requested a recipe to get the bride started in her new marriage.  As I searched through my files I realized the recipe I most wanted to pass along was a simple but delicious turkey chili.  It was the perfect recipe-easily located ingredients, impossible to screw up, healthy, and 40 minutes start to finish.  

This is when I had an epiphany…it’s not the gourmet meals made on special occasions that define a cook.  You’re most remembered by loved ones for the staples eaten week after week.  When business travel forced me into too many airport salads, I didn’t miss Cornish game hens.  I missed that turkey chili.  Or, these spicy shrimp tacos.

Tex-Mex Shrimp Tacos

1 pound shrimp
I buy frozen bags from Whole Foods so it’s always on hand when I need it.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, diced
6 corn tortillas
1 avocado, sliced thinly
1/2 cup shredded Jack cheese
1 lime, cut into 6 slices

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat.
Add shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes
The shrimp are done when they turn pink-anything longer will make them tough and dry.
Add 1-4 peppers and sauce to desired taste-these are very hot. 
Heat all ingredients together for 2-3 minutes.
In a separate skillet while the shrimp are cooking, heat tortillas until just warm.
Top each tortilla with shrimp, sauce, shredded cheese, and sliced avocado.
Squeeze one lime slice on top of each taco.


These are the effortless things that make it feel like home.   

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Getting physical

My first order of business as I  began to look for that cliché “balance” in my life, was to get healthy.  I had returned from far too many business trips sleep deprived, bloated from too much “winding down” with wine, and feeling guilty about something foul I ate from room service.  Running would become my catalyst. 

I need a goal to consider anything worth doing.  My type A head needs a gold star or I’m just not happy.  And so I began training for the Vancouver Half-Marathon with a fantastic group of ladies through Running Evolution. 

Running is no easy thing to begin.  Three miles in 35 minutes was my humble starting goal.  However, I soon found there is a type of meditation in putting one foot in front of the other and just breathing.  And then there are my hips… 

Oooh, my hips. I’ve spent countless hours plotting their demise.  Now, I’m watching them shrink and growing to love them.  I said it-love them.  Not because they’re smaller, but because they’re strong enough to carry me through eight (soon 10!) miles. I have become grateful for them and actually begun to devote some brain power to keeping them as healthy as possible.

Running is funny like that.  Some will say it’s not good to push your body this way.  But, pushing my body has forced me to eat better, sleep more, drink less, and appreciate the amazing machine that we are.

Next up…adventures in learning to snowboard and trapeze flying.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A small escape.

Just outside of Austin, TX a woman named Sibby created a little escape that could not be more relaxing.  Sibby started a wildly successful bakery in Dallas known as Dallas Affaires.  They make decadent cakes that quickly became a birthday tradition among my friends.  

Now, she’s added cabins to her expansive property at Juniper Hills Farm and offers cooking classes using locally sourced ingredients when possible.

I took a long weekend with a group of ladies and managed to refrain from checking my Blackberry (well, mostly).  On the agenda: lots of wine, a little yoga, sitting by the pool, and cooking an amazing meal under Sibby’s direction.

We stayed in comfortable cabins stocked with house-made granola, milk, and fresh-squeezed juice. Each morning, the cutest little lunch box appeared stuffed with still-warm scones (aaahh).

During our cooking lesson, I took the time to question Sibby on how she manages to run an insanely busy bakery in Dallas while running this Hill Country escape hours away.  How could she leave with so much going on there? Her secret-find someone you trust to run the place while you’re away. Brilliant.

Friday, January 21, 2011

And so it begins...

I love work. Always have. As far back as I can remember, I took every opportunity to toil away in return for financial reward.  Somewhere along the way, I ended up in software.  Software companies love my type.  I’ve spent years hopping from flight to flight, traveling around the country, eating alone, and racking up airlines miles that I was too tired to use.   

After multiple mini-breakdowns, I hit a wall and realized…I’m not saving any lives here. Why am I spending all my hours working? Sacrificing my health, my friendships, my LIFE?

My goal is not to sell all of my possessions and join the Peace Corps.  As a matter of fact, I am keeping my software job.  I’m simply on mission to weave a little adventure into my daily life and maybe find a hobby or two.