From Brooklyn

While in Brooklyn, I came upon a little card with a little quote.  It seemed just right for my heart at that very moment.  I don’t know why, but I bought it and brought it home.  It read…

“I told the sun that I was glad,

I’m sure I don’t know why;

Somehow the pleasant way he had of shining in the sky,

Just put a notion in my head that wouldn’t it be fun.

If, walking on the hill I said ‘I’m Happy’ to the sun.”

…John Drinkwater

Inspiration: France

A couple of years ago, my family took our first trip overseas together.  We have all traveled many a times before but never all 6 of us together out of the country at once.  My sisters and I had given my parents a trip to France for their 25th anniversary and they decided that we should go as a whole family.  Of course my sisters and I readily agreed.  It took a couple of years to actually go but finally we made our way to the south of France, outside of Toulouse.  My mother found a home for us to rent and we settled in for a wonderful French filled week.  Words cannot even begin to describe the amazing beauty of the home and the setting.  Seriously.  It was perfect!

DSC00260

DSC00390

Family France Trip 2010 212

Set gently on top of a hill, it was surrounded with fields that blew gently in the breeze.  There was a cheese farm up the road where we bought fresh cheese from the owner.  Part of the Roman Road ran through the area and was perfect for walking.  We did do some exploring, but the majority of the day was spent going to market to buy food and then cooking it.

DSC00393

DSC00397

DSC00536

DSC00394

As there are four girls plus my mom, we have plenty of cooks in the family.  We decided that we would each take one night and be in charge of the food preparations.  (I guess technically the nights we ate out were my father’s nights.)  Now, when given an assignment like that, we all wanted to create a feast, so our days quickly became about planning menus, sourcing food, and cooking.  And boy, did we cook.  Sometimes we did not end up eating until 10pm, but that was part of the experience.  There was an amazing concrete table right outside the kitchen that was perfect for feasting.  Even though the home was beautiful, it is hard to eat inside when you are in France, or anywhere for that matter, when nature and your surroundings are so beautiful.

DSC00573

DSC00584

Family France Trip 2010 320

Now, I will clarify that Italy has my heart.  It is my first love and will always be my true love.  I had been able to travel to France at least four other times and had loved each trip.  This trip was different.  It resonated with me in a way that France never before had.  I fell in love with not just France, but living French.  Things that I have incorporated into my life now.

I think that is part of traveling - being exposed to new and different things, or seeing things in a new way.  I don’t think I ever come back totally the same person.  It might be little things, but they change my life.  So, here is a list of some of what I discovered and fell in love with…

Citrus Press

Who knew that squeezing lemons could be so easy.  The kitchen had the most amazing old press.  It looked like it was an antique and worked so well.  It got every drop out of the lemons.  Totally sold!  I bought one when coming home.  I still have my eye out for one that has a little more age and charm and is straight up solid metal.

Canopy Bed

Okay, so I would never have thought I would want a canopy bed.  I never liked the looks as they seemed a bit Victorian and I prefer more of a rustic/minimalist look when it comes to design.  I guess that is because I never slept in one.  That sold me.

Family France Trip 2010 217

France 2010 171

My sisters and I all shared a room (not that we had too as there were plenty of rooms and beds, but we like to be together).  We were traveling in May so the nights got chilly even though the days were warm.  We thought it only fair that we would rotate who got the floor and who slept in the bed.  My younger sister and I started out in the bed and my older sisters slept on the floor.  Every night they would tuck us in and wrap the curtains tight around the bed so that we had a warm little cocoon.  It was so unbelievably cozy.  The coziest bed I have ever experienced.  So much so that my older sisters let us two younger ones sleep there the whole time we were so in love with it.  I desperately want a canopy bed!

Steak

I really prefer vegetables over meat.  Up to this point I did not really care for steak at all.  (Meaning I did not like it.)  At the end of the trip we spent a couple of days in Toulouse.  There was a little steak restaurant down the street from our hotel that we decided to go to one night.  As I was in France at a steak restaurant, I figured I would eat a steak with gorgonzola.  I don’t know why I ordered it when I did not care for it typically.  Oh my goodness!  It was absolutely delicious.  The best steak I have ever had.  Unfortunately, I cannot tell you what the name of the restaurant is.  But I am forever thankful for such a delicious meal and wonderful experience.

Fennel & My French Kitchen

In the kitchen of the house we stayed at, they had a selection of cookbooks that we used as resources for our meals.  (Thankfully the home owners were British and most of the cookbooks were in English.)  One such cookbook was “My French Kitchen” by Joanne Harris & Fran Warde.  This is a must-have in my opinion.  The Baked Red Pepper recipe is what made me fall in love with fennel.  In addition to the baked red peppers, we also made the White Bean & Tomato Salad, the Warm Tuna & Potato Salad, the Artichokes with Vinaigrette, the Onion Tart, and the Gratin Dauphinois.

France 2010 156

DSC00600

Gotan Project

One night, at the local restaurant, there was this beautiful, emotionally stirring music playing.  The whole meal we were memorized by how fabulous it was.  We asked if they knew who it was…Gotan Project.  Love their music!

For anyone traveling to France and looking for a vacation rental, I would highly recommend Pure France!

Eating (almost) raw

So this past month I have been trying to eat mostly raw.  Eating raw  started with wanting to detox for health, but I have been loving it.  With life being so busy, it is hard to always be intentional about what I am eating and making sure it is not only organic, but right for my body.  I have a sweet tooth and love bread, but my down fall is drinking black tea with milk and honey ALL day.  I have been amazed at how the things that had the strongest hold on me have been easier to let go then I thought.  With tea, it was only the first week that I really missed my morning cup.  After that, I did still struggle with a caffeine headache but not the longing.

With eating raw, the first week was definitely the hardest.  I was prepared for it though.  I bought 4 cookbooks and looked up tons of recipes online.  I knew that I needed a plan to follow and go to recipes right there when I needed them.  Plus, I did stock up on some of my favorite raw treats (Sacred Chocolate being one of them).  Now that I have over 3 weeks of eating raw complete, I feel so much more confident in my ability to stick with it.  However, I do have a confession…the first two weeks I allowed myself to cheat…dates with girl friends for coffee, etc.  Plus, I have used some of the wrong ingredients in preparations – I am learning still.  All in all, I would say I have eaten almost raw.  This is not a life change.  I am thoroughly enjoying it, but I know in the end, I would never want to live the rest of my life eating raw.  Originally my plan was to eat raw for a month to detox my body and try to see if I noticed changes in my health.  Now that I am in love, I think I might go a bit longer.

What made me fall in love with eating raw?….My New Roots….Even with 4 cookbooks and tons of recipes, I was not loving the food I was making.  I did not want left overs, let alone a large helping.  (It might have been a good thing because my stomach shrunk a ton the first week and definitely helped lose some weight.)  Even my uncle who is known for eating anything, was good just tasting my food.  I knew that there had to be a way to make raw food that I would enjoy.  I just was not comfortable experimenting on my own yet and knowing what ingredients were truly raw (ex. which vinegars or oils to use).  The first recipe I tried from My New Roots, the Raw Tacos, was delicious!  I was excited.  Thrilled even.  And totally in love.  Finally, I had made something delicious other than a salad or smoothie.   I made my own guacamole instead of using avocado slices.  I also did not have any cashews on hand, so I totally omitted the “sour cream”, but I honestly think it was not needed.  I made it two times in a row it was so good!  The recipe made tons and fed me for days literally.  I used whatever greens I had in the fridge…spinach and kale.  This week I tried the Raw Pad Thai.  It says it makes for 6-8, but it makes TONS.  Maybe my stomach has shrunk but I still have left overs and have been eating it for days.  Good thing it is so good.  Next up from the blog, Ecstatic Raw Chocolate.

So, the benefits I have noticed:

  • lost weight effortlessly (totally am eating whatever I want whenever I am hungry and have not increased my exercise routine until this week)
  • better skin
  • improved digestion
  • need less sleep at night (I wake up naturally 1-2 hours earlier and feel ready to get up but man am I tired by 9pm!)
  • exercise is easier

I have not noticed the health result I was hoping for, but with all the other results I have seen, I am definitely going to keep eating raw for a bit longer (with exceptions – my sister’s birthday is coming up).  We shall see…

*With any diet change, consulting a physician or dietitian is recommended.  This post is chronicling my own experience.