January 30, 2014

Hiatus

Dear friends, I need to take a little break from blogging for a bit. Sometimes life gets in the way and right now I am just not in the place mentally or emotionally to keep up with blogging.

Hopefully this will not be a permanent break but a short hiatus to sort myself out and return as much to normal as possible.

Ciao

January 20, 2014

Weekly Wishes #13





Hi friends. Hope you had a wonderful weekend.

I am glad today is over. It wasn't my best day but thankfully it's in the past and tomorrow promises bigger and better things. Not sure what those are but I'm hopeful. At the very least it has to be better than today.

Welcome once again to Weekly Wishes.

Last Week's Wishes
  • Stick to my meal plan.  Yay! I did it. 
  • Finish my book. Check!
  • Read my bible every night. Almost had this in the bag but my Ipad was acting funny and I couldn't read the bible plan I follow. Poor excuse considering I have a real bible. 
  • Work out 4 times. I managed to get my lazy butt to the gym somehow and I am happy I did. I feel super motivated to continue my weight loss journey. I know that each day is a step towards my goal. 
  • Be fearless. I tried. I asked for help from a friend, something I rarely ever do. Never got a response to my request which sucks. I have a serious fear of being disappointed and sadly I was but I'm glad I took the chance. I didn't die. I know that disappointment isn't fatal.

This Week's Wishes
  • Workout on the weekend. No slacking off and no excuses. 
  • Clean. My bedroom is a mess. 
  • Go to church on Friday.
  • Polish my fingernails. They're looking rough.
  • Stick to my bed time curfew. 






Head over to The Nectar collective to participate in the weekly blog link up and share your goals/wishes for the week. 

January 19, 2014

Whole30: Week 3 and a Recipe

Hey lovelies,
Happy weekend!
I am half way through my Whole30 journey and still enjoying the experience. 
Like I've said many times, I love everything I cook and that is important for me. I don't feel like I am missing out on anything. Sure I can't have candy and cakes and ice-cream but I really don't need to eat those things. 
I've gotten to the point where a treat is a banana with raw cashews and unsweetened coconut chips. I get the same feelings of euphoria when I eat this treat I would get from eating ice-cream but without the guilt and weight gain. 
I am not saying I'll never eat any of those things again but right now I don't have to. 

There aren't many meals this week because I pretty much made the same things from last week. Hey, when you find something that works you stick with it.
I made apple coleslaw using my home-made mayo. It was really good and went along nicely with my sweet potato fritters. 

Go online folks and look up paleo mayo. AHMAZING!!!
 I used the method that took all of 5 minutes with my immersion hand blender. Easy and good. 

Sweet Potato Fritters
1 large sweet potato
1/2 red onion chopped 
1 tbsp coconut flour
1 egg
garlic flavor Mrs. Dash
tbsp coconut oil

Directions
Grate the sweet potato, add the chopped onion and seasonings. Add the egg, Mrs. Dash and coconut flour. Form the sweet potato in little balls and flatten into a fritter. Add them to a pan with heated coconut oil and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side. 
Eat and Enjoy!



Sweet potato fritters, grilled chicken breast and apple coleslaw. 

Grilled Pork Chop, smothered with cinnamon apple and ginger. Cauliflower Rice and Asparagus. 

Bacon, Spinach and Onion Scramble served with Fruit Salad.

January 15, 2014

Currently

Listening to....

Reading....

Loving....
everything about Lupita Nyong'o
Watching....


Craving....

January 14, 2014

Whole30 Week 1 & 2

Hey lovelies. 
Happy Monday!! 
Hope you guys had a great weekend. I had a three day weekend so I'm happy. 
Spent most of the time on my couch watching old episodes of Law and Order: SVU. 
Don't feel sad for me, I was chilling and relaxing. I also had brunch with some dear friends, so I did get out of the house. 

Ok, so this is week I am heading into my 3rd week of my Whole30 journey. Whole30 is Paleo amped. It's a more restrictive Paleo meant to really get those cravings for sugar, carbs and any other non-paleo foods out of your system. 
I decided this was the way to go to get the new year started since I pretty much exercised no control over my eating while in Thailand. 

I have to say that it really isn't hard to live a Paleo lifestyle. Well let me say it this way actually, if you're preparing your meals at home it isn't hard. If you're eating out a lot then you will experience many challenges. My cravings for sugar and carb are pretty much gone. I actually crave veggies if I have cravings. Weird!

These are some of my meals over the past two weeks. I usually make egg muffins and eat those for breakfast during the week. I love eggs so it's not a problem to eat them every day. I also make Chia pudding if I run out of egg muffins. 

Over the weekend I also tried my hand at making mayo. It turned out really well . I used Olive Oil but will try a lighter oil next time such as grapeseed.

After Whole30, I plan to loosen up a bit with my eating but stay Paleo compliant. 
Wish me luck!
If you're struggling to figure out what to do for dinner or lunch, feel free to borrow from these meals for ideas. 


Grilled Steak with Mushrooms and Sautéed Spinach served with Sweet Potato

Steak and Eggs with Spinach

Cauliflower Fried Rice and Fried Sweet Plantains

Grilled Salmon, Cauliflower Rice and Green Beans

Cabbage and Chicken Stir-Fry

Sweet Potato and Beef Hash with Fried Egg

Veggie Stir-Fry, Salmon and Sweet Plantains

Sweet Potato Fritters, Grilled Chicken and Green Beans

Weekly Wishes #12


Hi lovelies. Welcome to Weekly Wishes link up over at The Nectar Collective.
Ok, so let's take a look back at last Week's Wishes
I did a marginally good job on the wishes/goals. Didn't finish the book. Inshallah(God's willing) I will make it happen by the weekend.
  • stick to my meal plan
  • finish the book I am reading
  • work out a minimum of 4 times this week

This Week's Wishes
  • Stick to my meal plan. 
  • Finish my book
  • Read my bible every night
  • Work out 4 times
  • Be fearless
Wish me luck!

January 10, 2014

A Poem

Stumbled upon this poem on a lovely blog called Dani and Lola and was immediately struck by the power in the words.
I hope you find something you need...

The Type 
Everyone needs a place. It shouldn't be inside of someone else. -Richard Siken
If you grow up the type of woman men want to look at,
you can let them look at you. But do not mistake eyes for hands.
Or windows.
Or mirrors.
Let them see what a woman looks like.
They may not have ever seen one before.
If you grow up the type of woman men want to touch,
you can let them touch you.
Sometimes it is not you they are reaching for.
Sometimes it is a bottle. A door. A sandwich. A Pulitzer. Another woman.
But their hands found you first. Do not mistake yourself for a guardian.
Or a muse. Or a promise. Or a victim. Or a snack.
You are a woman. Skin and bones. Veins and nerves. Hair and sweat.
You are not made of metaphors. Not apologies. Not excuses.
If you grow up the type of woman men want to hold,
you can let them hold you.
All day they practice keeping their bodies upright--
even after all this evolving, it still feels unnatural, still strains the muscles,
holds firm the arms and spine. Only some men will want to learn
what it feels like to curl themselves into a question mark around you,
admit they do not have the answers
they thought they would have by now;
some men will want to hold you like The Answer.
You are not The Answer.
You are not the problem. You are not the poem
or the punchline or the riddle or the joke.
Woman. If you grow up the type men want to love,
You can let them love you.
Being loved is not the same thing as loving.
When you fall in love, it is discovering the ocean
after years of puddle jumping. It is realizing you have hands.
It is reaching for the tightrope when the crowds have all gone home.
Do not spend time wondering if you are the type of woman
men will hurt. If he leaves you with a car alarm heart, you learn to sing along.
It is hard to stop loving the ocean. Even after it has left you gasping, salty.
Forgive yourself for the decisions you have made, the ones you still call
mistakes when you tuck them in at night. And know this:
Know you are the type of woman who is searching for a place to call yours.
Let the statues crumble.
You have always been the place.
You are a woman who can build it yourself.
You were born to build.
By: Sarah Kay

January 8, 2014

Lessons from a Traveler



Traveling has the uncanny ability to reveal aspects of your personalty that no other experience can.
Often times the unpredictability, the bumps and the general out-of-the-boxness of travel push you to limits and expose nerves that would otherwise remain hidden. 

I am no travel expert by any means but I am a usually an introspective person. Travel allows for introspection. Plenty of time to think about your experiences and how they've changed you hopefully for the better.
You gotta have something to do when you're traveling on an overnight train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok with all the lights turned out and you're lying in the top bunker of an ancient train hoping not to fall off.

Here are some of the little lessons I've picked up along the way. Lessons that made my travels enjoyable, memorable and relatively stress free. There were moments of personal growth and opportunities for me to learn about myself.

  1. Be Flexible. This has to be the number one lesson you learn before embarking on a travel experience. Think contortionist flexible. There are things that will go inevitably wrong despite your best efforts and meticulous planning. Getting upset or flustered will not help and can actually make things worse. Be open to other options, plan B or C or even D. Sometimes you have to take the 12 hour bus ride instead of the 2 hour plane ride when your plan fails. Go with it. You never know what adventure awaits you. 
  2. Develop a thick skin. Seriously. As a black woman traveling, I've had to develop the skin of an elephant. There are times when people have pointed at me and laughed or talked about me in front of my face. At first it was upsetting but I realized it was their ignorance that caused them to behave that way. They have the problem, not me. Now I just look at them and graciously say hello and they are often times very embarrassed and quickly look away. The reality is that sometimes you are the anomaly. Some people have never seen anything like you before and they are curious, shocked, appalled, whatever. Don't let it ruin your experience. 
  3. Eat where the locals eat. It's often cheaper and chances of getting food poisoning a greatly reduced. I employed this strategy in Thailand  and Istanbul as I made my way along the streets in search of street food. I ate soooo much street food from places that were seriously questionable in my very Westernized mind but because the locals flocked to these places I figured I'd be ok. Not sure if it's a fool proof strategy but it worked for me and I had some of the best meals. 
  4. Be open minded. The truth is not everyone lives the way you do, values the things you value or look the way you do. Things will shock your senses, surprise you and maybe even scare you a little when you travel. Different can do those things to you but when you accept this, your experience will be so much better. Not gonna lie, Thailand was my first trip to Asia and it was a lot different from anything I'd ever experienced. I was a little overwhelmed in the beginning, the squatting toilets, the language, the traffic (Bangkok) and the grime and dirt (again Bangkok) was a lot to handle. I had to take a deep breath and look beyond those negatives to see the wonderful things the country had to offer. I am glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed my time despite all the unpleasant factors that existed. 
  5. Say hello to strangers. I know your parents taught you otherwise but I am gonna tell you that this is one time you don't have to listen to them. When my travel buddy got sick, I had to go out on my own. A simple hello was all it took for me to meet some very cool people. Along the way my friend and I met other travelers at restaurants, bus stations and at our hotels. We exchanged experiences, advice and laughs. Some of these people are now friends which means I have places to crash and people to hang with in the future.
  6. Put the plan in your back-pocket. Random experiences are what have made my travels memorable. Getting in a cab and driving 150km each way to see a waterfall in Oman, getting on the back of a motorbike with a stranger, saying yes to dinner with someone I met while walking in Istanbul. All unplanned and unscheduled. Loads of fun and good memories. Man do I have some great stories to tell. 
  7. Use your brain and trust your guts. I love adventure and will pretty much say yes to any opportunity/invitation for adventure. When you travel especially as a lady you will get many invitations to do things i.e spending the night with someone(turned that one down). I've said yes to many things but I've also said no quite a few times because I didn't get good vibes or things just didn't seem kosher. Use your brain and take the necessary precautions to be safe. Trust your instincts, any slight feeling that you shouldn't do something mustn't be ignored. 
  8. Get outta that box. Demolish those four self-erected corners and get out there.Be willing to do things you would never normally do. Eat something that you would never usually try. I ate silk worms and crickets in Chiang Mai. Not as bad a one would think. Point is, don't limit yourself to things you're comfortable or familiar with. Traveling will present many opportunities to try new things, go for it! You may be pleasantly surprised. 
  9. Be yourself. Authenticity is your best accessory. Those who will like you will and those who don't well, they can piss off. lol. Honestly, when you travel no one really cares what you wear or how awesome your matching luggage is. I know I don't. I care about meeting people who come across as being genuine and real. Those are the people I want to spend all day at the beach with and drink Chang beer while sharing our crazy travel stories. 
  10. Smile. You're traveling for heaven's sake. You're a pretty lucky cookie. Plus people are drawn to smiling people and they will tell you how beautiful you are. You'll make friends and be invited to share an elephant ride. It's especially useful at hotels. The staff will be glad to do anything to keep you smiling. Trust me, this really works. 
Ok, those are my pearls of travel wisdom. If you have any other lessons you've learned please share. I am always happy to learn from others. 
Happy Travels my loves.
Ciao!

January 7, 2014

Weekly Wishes #11



Hey lovelies, it's that time again. The weekly wishes link-up sponsored by
The Nectar Collective.
I've written about my goals for the year already. Check it here, if you haven't read what they are.
I wanted to keep up with the weekly wishes posts because they've help me keep on track with achieving my goals. By having specific goals each week, I feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

You'll notice that I've also included my goals for the month of January. By making my goals into more bite-sized pieces I stand a better chance of being successful.
So here are my goals for the week:
  • stick to my meal plan
  • finish the book I am reading
  • work out a minimum of 4 times this week
This month's wishes/goals:
  • read 4 books. I love to read but haven't been spending as much time as I would like. I want to get back into making the time for one of my favorite hobbies. 
  • complete the Whole30 program. 
  • manage my time better. I spend a lot of time doing meaningless things and I end up feeling a little guilty because I neglect the important things i.e work for school. I want to be more productive
  • deep condition my hair every week. I need to take better care of my hair and show it some love. I want a big ol' afro and need to have healthy hair to achieve this.
  • read my bible everyday. 
  • go to church every week this month
  • use my camera more and learn how to use the tripod properly. this will be a recurring goal, still learning and growing. 


Head over to Melyssa's blog an check out all the awesomeness she has going on.
Ciao!!

January 6, 2014

Elephant Riding, Tiger Petting and Bug Eating. My Adventures in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai was the only part of my trip that was planned and by planned I mean I had a rough list of things I wanted to do when/how I got there.
I was on a mission. I had to...
take a cooking class. 
ride an elephant 
lay down with tigers. 

No biggie.
My bucket list was going to get a lot shorter. I was so excited I didn't mind the 12 hour bus ride it would take to get me to my adventures.

First up. Get on an elephant. There were so many options ranging from cheap to super over the top expensive. There were elephant shows (didn't want this, the elephants aren't treated well), overnight elephant trekking companies and just about anything that appealed to your interests.
My cooking class instructor was actually the one that suggested this company  for the elephant tour and arranged everything for me.
Check out their website. The company is locally run and has a very authentic feel. There are no frills and pomp. Everything is simple but organized.
They teach you how to care for the elephants and how to communicate with them.

The staff is friendly and  even though most of them don't speak English well, they try to communicate with you and make you laugh.
You can tell that the guys who work with the elephants really love and care for them. They are so comfortable with the animals and it's amazing to watch the interaction between man and beast.






love this pic. she looks so happy!


straddling an elephant hurts, like a lot. 



haha, getting down wasn't gonna be easy.


Next stop was Tiger Kingdom. I hadn't thought about doing this until a few friends of mine visited Thailand and posted pictures. I had no idea that such a place existed. Of course once I found out about it, I had to do it. 
Everyone asked if the tigers were drugged. Ummm...no. Drugged tigers don't do this....


Or this...btw I was in the cage when these shenanigans were going on. 
Such playful little devils. 








The experience of being with the tigers was beyond surreal. I didn't feel afraid at all, which is either really brave or really stupid. Maybe I'm an adrenaline junkie or a fearless super hero.


Finally....
Eating bugs wasn't necessarily part of my bucket list but I was hella curious to try it. Rushing headlong into what some call danger but I call adventure is my MO.
I am always up to try something different and what could be more different for a Westerner than to eat deep fried insects?
Luckily, I had company. I was hanging out at the night market with a lovely couple I had met at my hotel. The husband wanted to try but the wife refused.
I mentioned after seeing a few people walking around with packages of the fried delight that I wanted to try it. The husband literally jumped for joy at having company.
The wife suggested we pay the vendor a few Bahts for a selection we wanted to try instead of buying a whole big bag. Smart!
I picked the fried silk worm and going on the recommendation of the vendor picked the lighter colored crickets. They tasted better in his expert opinion.
choices

choices

finally settled on the silk worm and the brown crickets

right before I took the plunge.


The worm was ok. tasted a bit like those tiny little dried shrimp they use in Pad Thai sometimes. The crickets were weird. They were dry and hung around in my throat longer than I would have liked.

I had such a blast in Chiang Mai. Words can't even begin to describe just how amazing these experiences were. I realized that I am fearless. If I can apply this to everything in life, I'll be unstoppable!

Go to Chiang Mai people. Now. Go. I want to see your pictures and hear about your adventures.

Ciao!!!

January 3, 2014

I Heart Bangkok...Sort of a Lot


Posing at Wat Pho Temple in Bangkok
If its aesthetic beauty you're after, Bangkok isn't for you.
There is a certain gritty and seedy quality about the city that either pulls you in or will have you wanting to jump on the next plane or bus outta town.
The thing is, you have to take your time to get to know the place and slowly but surely you develop a peculiar sort of love/admiration for the way the city seems to thrive through the chaos and noise.

It took me a couple days to warm up to Bangkok. Honestly I wasn't immediately impressed with the city. It's loud and filthy, but I soon realized that there is a lack of pretentiousness that I find alluring.
You don't need to dress up fancy or be something you aren't. You can be yourself and go about your business as you please.
It's also pretty impressive to see the way life plays out amidst the constant rush of traffic, the bustling markets and the mass of bodies moving through tight spaces made even tighter by vendors peddling street food and bric-a- brac.

Bangkok was the first stop on our journey. We spent 3 days market hopping and eating as much street food as we could possibly consume. If you're looking for good street food, then Bangkok is where it's at folks. Ridiculously Cheap and usually delicious, it's the way to eat.
Another evening we headed over to Sukhumvit Soi 11 between Nana and Asok where we spent some fun hours bouncing around to a couple bars and clubs (Oskar, Levels and Bash), drinking Chang beer and dancing like fools until our feet hurt. It's a different party scene in these parts. Lady boys and prostitutes and the men who seek them out are your dance floor companions and believe me when I say it makes for great entertainment.

We also spent some time walking around in Khao San and Soi Rambuttri. These roads are great for shopping and for scoring a cheap Thai massage. I am addicted to Thai massages and can't imagine how I'll manage when I go back to Abu Dhabi. I'll never be able to get six dollar massage over there for sure.
I had a great time strolling along the street eating Banana pancakes and sipping coconut water while trying not to spend all my money on fake Ray Bans and I Heart Thailand t-shirts.

The smells of the city are strong and not always pleasant. Taxis try to rip you off every chance they get and traffic is horrendous but you have to visit just once. Stop for a couple days (that's all you need) on your way to somewhere else.
It's worth the memories.

Some yummy street food before we partied. Need your energy.

My new friend 

party time


Fun with my buddy

Crazy party guy at Levels club. The crazier the better for me.

My travel buddy

Really fun bar with amazing drinks in  Sukhumvit Soi 11

The Frenchie who tried to seduce me. Lol, a cute French accent ain't enough buddy.