Remember Me?

I’m backkkkkkk!

It has been nearly a year and a half since I’ve written, and while I can’t promise regular updates, I can say that I’ve missed writing.

Well I should clarify. Personal writing. I do a lot of writing. Just normally it’s about brand results or strategy. I try to pepper my personality in it when I can, but let’s be real…that’s not what they’re paying me for.

I often think I live a boring life. If you asked me what’s new, I would probably respond “nothing.” But that can’t be said if it’s been a year and a half since we checked in. So I guess I owe you some updates.

Update #1:
I went to Italy in May of 2014 with one of my closest friends, Jill. Italy?! You might ask. What the hell did you eat in Italy? Tomatoes? Cheese? Well…if that was all I had eaten, I would still be one happy gal. But fun fact – Celiac is so prevalent in Italy that all children are tested at age 5. And if one has Celiac, they receive a government stipend since it’s generally understood that gluten free food is more expensive. And because of that, restaurants are incredibly gluten-free friendly. All I had to say was “Yo solo cheliaca” and I had dishes not on the menu brought out to me.

Jill was such a sweetheart and only slightly judged me the first night when I ordered two main dishes and two desserts because I found out I could have gluten free lasagna AND eat my gluten free pizza TOO. If it wasn’t for all the walking we did, I would have gained, easily, 20 pounds. I had gelato every day (and twice if possible). Jill and I one night each ordered a bottle of wine and got majorly judged by the owner. But hey…when you’re young and in Italy and the wine is good….

And now she’s getting married in less than two months! But that’s a whole other story.

Update #2:
I bought a car. This is much less exciting than Italy, but seems relevant. My very much beloved 2000 gold Maxima that I’d had since high school eventually required so much work that it wasn’t worth the money. It also had some brake issues and made me nervous to drive it. So a few days before my birthday, I bought my first car. Yep…that’s about all there is to tell. Oh. It’s a 2010 Acura TSX. And it’s black. Because you were curious.

Update #3:
I turned 26. So now this blog title is 3 years out of date. Clearly I’m on top of things. Really, this only means I can’t be on my parent’s insurance anymore. Birthdays are officially less exciting.

Update #4:
I bought a house. I guess this is worth spending some time on because it seems like a big deal (clearly I’m downplaying this because I officially feel broke). I decided earlier this year that I should consider purchasing one because the end of lease was coming up, I didn’t want to move just to move, and I had some money saved.

To make a VERY long story short, I got a really good deal on a 2 bedroom, 1 bath house and build a renovation loan into the mortgage. I gutted the kitchen, had everything painted, redid part of the bathroom, got new light fixtures, etc. etc. And no, I haven’t showcased the before/after photos. My mom even realized her artistic gift and painted something for my living room.

It’s been a labor of love with so many people helping me throughout the process. Might sound a little cheesy, but I’m grateful, thankful, blessed.

Update #5:
I got a cat! If you follow me on ANY form of social media, you know this. His name is Edison and he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I won’t say too much about him so I don’t get judged too quickly as a cat lady, but he’s pretty awesome. We play tag and fetch and he comes when I call. So basically he’s a dog that uses a litter box.

Update #6:
I’m running a half marathon. Yep. You might want to reread that. I signed up on a whim and then convinced a friend to do it with me. It’s October 11. In Cincinnati. And I should clarify that I’m in the 3:1 group which means I run three minutes and walk a minute. But I think it still counts. My back and hip have held up so far. Oh, and it’s all women which is exciting!

Update #7:
I went to Alaska in February with my friend/coworker, Jordann. That was also sort of a whim decision. It was only 25,000 sky miles and we wanted to see the Northern Lights. We got really fortunate and had the best showing of the season that night. Absolutely breathtaking. They danced! If you have the chance, go see them. It’s worth surviving the -30 degree weather.

I also went to Ireland with my dad. Major bucket list item done – I’ve wanted to go since I was a little girl (I mean…I did Irish Dance after all). I had a work trip to London for just a few days, and decided to extend the trip. And my dad, who I get my Irish roots from, flew over to spend that time with me. We were only there a few days, and I’m dying to go back!

I know I’m missing a bunch of things, but those are the major things I can think of. Also, my creative juices are leeching out and suddenly I’m much less inspired. So wow – aside from Italy, this had almost nothing to do with food. But hey…that’s life. Until next time!

Disappearing Act

I’m currently sitting in the San Jose airport waiting to fly to LA to spend the next two days working from Cali before spending the weekend with my Kwanster. But when I checked into the airport this evening on Foursquare, it told me I’d had 7 airport check-ins this month.

Sigh.

That’s where I’ve been.

I was (and still am planning on!) writing about my brother getting married, maybe Christmas and the awesomeness of the poncho I bought yesterday.

But for now, I’m tired.

So I’ll write about them. Promise. Oh. And I’ll write about seeing Rev Run. But not about how I sang It’s Tricky to him because that didn’t actually happen. But I do know every word!

And if you stick around, I’ll give you the recipe for the paleo pancakes I’ve been making at least once a week.

Sheesh. I just promised y’all a lot. Guess I have to follow through on all of this!

But for now. In case you’re ever at the San Jose airport, the chairs have plugs in the armrests. It really is the little things.

Singapore

And I’m back. So where was I? Oh right…back in Singapore after the bathtub adventures of Thailand.

So Singapore is hot. And humid. People always seem surprised when they ask me how the trip is and I respond hot. Remember people…I didn’t wear makeup this entire trip. Nothing. I had moisturizer with sunscreen on but I don’t think that counts. And there wasn’t a point because I would have literally just sweat it off and I didn’t feel like looking like a raccoon while on my explorations.

The first day back, it happened to be overcast with a breeze so Luke and I explored all over the city. I got to see two coffee shops he’s worked with on his Be Disloyal card, do some more shopping, and see what all the hype about chicken rice was.

 

I spent most of the time in Chinatown looking for a good Dragon token to bring back since it’s the year of the Dragon and I happen to be one, but I never found one I loved.

We walked down Orchard Road which is the Rodeo Drive of Singapore – except a little more approachable. I found the most amazing flats at Tory Burch but of course they were out of my size (but seriously…how does that happen. I have freakishly large feet so I’m not exactly sure how they ran out? Anyway, rude.). So of course we went on an exploration to find if the only other store on Orchard had them which led me to be able to introduce my brother to the world of Louboutin, Alexander McQueen and Lanvin. He actually managed incredibly well. And that store did not have my Fox flats – and they’re unavailable online, but you can check them out here.

The next day involved more shopping and exploring Arab Street. And me getting reflexology. I spent the previous night researching where to find it, but I actually stumbled upon a place after getting bubble tea while Luke studied for the GRE. By the way, mini bubbles or pearls are deadly and never get them. You may choke.

Anyway, reflexology is no joke. Unfortunately the lady that did it, didn’t speak much English, so she couldn’t tell me exactly why the area she was pushing on on my foot made me wanna cry, but she did tell me I needed to drink more water. Which was ironic because in non vacation life, I drink a lot of water. But I was worried about not finding a bathroom on our explorations so I had drastically cut my intake. Apparently she could tell.

The evening ended with me eating Pepper Crab. For those who don’t know me well, I don’t like seafood. In fact, I can’t stand it. I’ve tried it in every capacity – all types, all styles, but just can’t do it. I know…it’s a personal failure. So when I was told we were going to Chili Crab, I was a little skeptical (okay, mainly I was thinking that I hoped they had chicken on the menu).

While I didn’t LOVE it, it wasn’t bad. I ate a few legs and managed to make a mess in the process. But apparently that’s what you’re supposed to do.

 

I had a full final day in Singapore as I didn’t need to leave for the airport until 11pm. Luke and I went to go see Row at her office (she works at Google) and reap the perks of the free lunch. She also has a killer view of the harbor. She then went with us to get what would be my final bubble tea experience. That happened to be at the mall that was the Rodeo Drive of malls…or I guess the Orchard Road of malls.

Here’s where it gets cool. My brother has a mustache as I’m sure you’ve seen from the photos and the Singapore division of Esquire Magazine wants to bring awareness to Movember (No Shave November) which brings awareness for Prostate cancer. So they asked my brother to be part of a photo shoot to be included in their magazine!! Let me say this in the most laymen words possible…my brother is going to be in Esquire Singapore. My brother is cooler than yours.

So they asked him for his suit measurements which my brother didn’t happen to know, so he asked me for my help. So I took him to Prada. Hey…if you’re gonna get sized for a suit, might as well get sized for an expensive suit. Ridiculously fun.

 

 

On the high of pretending like we belonged in Prada, we did the one thing I put on my request list for Singapore…Marina Bay Sands. Marina Bay Sands is a hotel/casino that was built by investors from Vegas. But the reason I wanted to go to it was for the view. You can pay to go to the second highest level OR you can do what the smart people do (ie. us) and go to KU DÉ TA, a club at night, but a bar during the day. It’s also on the highest level of the place.

 

Luke and I got champagne sangria in the afternoon, and just talked. He moved out when I was in 8th grade, so we haven’t spent a lot of time together as adults. Thankfully, not only were we able to do it on this trip, but we didn’t have any sibling spats.

That evening, Luke, Row and I went to get pig feeler soup (sorry..didn’t take any photos of that) and saw major celebrations happening along the river for Moon Pie Festival. Still not sure why the celebrate Moon Pies, but they go all out for it. We also then went to what might be the coolest bar I’ve ever been to, where I may or may not have stolen 2 coasters. But as I decided it would take them longer to track me down than it would for me to get out of the country, I took the risk. If you’re ever going to Singapore, I’ll tell you about it. Otherwise, it’s a secret.

I then took the 36 hour trek back home with stops in Sri Lanka, Dubai and NYC. I’ll be happy not to see an airplane for awhile. Although I am taking a Megabus tomorrow for a girl’s weekend in Chicago. And then, a travel hiatus.

So that’s all she wrote. Except I have to share my recipe for peanut butter pumpkin cups with you soon. Because they’re delicious. And I owe you that much.

 

Dubai, Singapore and Thailand. Oh yeah.

I’m horrible at writing trip recaps. I don’t know why, but I just am. But I went on a huge trip, and you’ve requested photos. I’d also like to look back in a few weeks/months/years and remember all the greatness.

First of all…I have a recipe to share with you shortly, but it’s currently in the freezer, so I’m not quite sure how it turned out. But it involves chocolate, peanut butter AND pumpkin. What up?!

So my trip.

I won’t talk about the long flights involving screaming children, a woman stealing my blanket and feet that swelled so badly I had trouble walking to Immigration. Now that’s out of the way, I’ll talk about the fun stuff.

I had a long layover in Dubai, and had been introduced to a woman that lives there through a woman I met at a conference in Cincinnati. Amazingly, she agreed to not only pick me up from the airport and show me around the city.

As a complete side note – all photos of me on this trip will be of me not wearing makeup. I’ll discuss the reasons why later. But yep…not a stitch of makeup the entire trip.

So Robyn and Bug took me around different markets where I got coconut water, scarves and road the water taxi.

The buildings in Dubai truly are amazing. I got to look up at the world’s tallest building. Yep…it’s pretty freakin tall. The girls taught me a lot about the city and the country – apparently Dubai was crushed by the economy and there are buildings around the city that were stopped mid-construction. It’s also illegal for a man to touch a woman unwillingly (in any sense..on the arm, back, etc.), so men will pin themselves against the wall of an elevator if he’s in it alone with a woman.

I did get a lot of strange looks in the airport being the only single white woman around. And I won’t lie…I was slightly nervous waiting for the girls to pick me up. I didn’t know about the law – all I knew was I was tired so not at the most aware and also alone. But you don’t experience new things if you don’t push yourself out of your comfort zone.

I must make a note about the hospitality of strangers. Bug and Robyn were beyond amazing. Aside from picking up a stranger at the airport and showing her around the city – they lent me money and bargained so I bought buy my scarves. Paid for my dinner. Let me shower at their apartment. Made me a cup of Rooibos tea (for those who don’t know, it’s a South African tea that makes me pine for the country. Like home in a cup. The girls also called me a taxi and gave me money for the ride. I am forever in debt.

From Dubai, I flew to Singapore to visit Luke and Row! I managed to catch them at potentially the most crazy time in their lives – hosting me, going to Bangkok, packing to move back to the States, and planning a wedding.

We spent the first night of my trip in Singapore with an exploration of Little India. There are going to be lots of photos of food – most of which I won’t caption. If you wanna know what’s what, feel free to ask in a comment.

Also, a important note about my eating on this trip. There was a lot of food I couldn’t eat. Especially food that I wanted to eat. Sticky buns. Oh sticky buns. And street food. But there was also a lot of food I did eat. Like rice dishes and pad thai. But in full disclosure, I was sick almost every day. I’m beyond fortunate that mainly my stomach issues got extreme at night when I was back in a more comfortable place. I never knew what was making me sick, but I would make the assumption it was often in the sauces. You do the best you can, but at the end of the day, gluten isn’t a popular discussion in Singapore or Thailand, so you take risks as to not starve.

Saturday afternoon, we flew to Bangkok (note..this was my 4th airplane) to spend a few days. Bangkok is Luke and Row’s favorite city, so it was nice to spend their last trip there with them.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was the weekend market in Bangkok. The Chatuchak Weekend Market is HUGE. And I don’t use caps lightly. We were there from 9-2 and only seemed to scratch the surface of it. Everything was so cheap, but I was able to get some great shirts, amazing jewelry, and purses that I keep getting compliments on.

The next day, Luke and I went exploring. I can’t currently think of the names of these lizards Luke is obsessed with, but they’re not Komodo dragons. They are huge. And slightly scary. And they swim very strangely, not moving half of their body. I would not like to run into one in a dark alley is basically what I’m saying.

We then got some lunch and went off to explore some Buddhist templates – Wat Arun and Wat Pho. Wat Arun is made of broken pottery. It’s gorgeous. But the stairs are scary steep to climb and there aren’t handrails. I may have a slight fear of going down stairs, so we didn’t climb all the way to the top.

Wat Pho is the home of the largest reclining Buddha in the world. It’s amazing. I don’t really know how else to describe it.

We then stumbled upon a wholesale food market while looking for the flower market. It was clearly where restaurants bought their food because there were piles upon piles of ginger, buckets of onions and bags of potatoes with sacks of rice. It was fun to get a glimpse of what real life in Thailand is like.

We also need to take a moment and pause to talk about the bathtub in the hotel room I was in in Bangkok. I know I’m obsessed. Sue me. I’ve never seen such a luxurieus tub. The thing was supposed to overflow AND it was a jacuzzi. I took a bath all 4 days we were there.

I loved Thailand for a lot of reasons. Bangkok had the major hustle and bustle of a big city which felt natural to navigate. The water taxis were interesting to navigate – you were either on or off, there was no waiting for you to make up your mind. We saw people get left multiple times because they got off at the wrong stop and realized too late. But probably the real reason I loved Bangkok so much was for their beverages. Thai Ice Tea is to die for. But Bubble Tea will always have my heart. Known as Pearl Milk Tea over there, I often had it and then wasn’t hungry for another meal. But I was okay with that because I had had bubble tea. Freakin amazing.

So then we went back to Singapore (5th flight). And you know what…you’ll have to read about that later. This post is already ridiculously long. The next post will involve chicken rice, fresh pineapple juice and sick photos of Singapore. Oh, and me eating seafood.

Bon Voyage & Health Update

So tomorrow afternoon, I leave for my trip to see my brother and his fiance.

I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’m actually going.

Maybe because I’ve been so busy at work that I’ve forsaken my workouts, social events and cooking. Or maybe just because I’ve been anticipating this trip for so long that I can’t believe I actually just checked in for the first flight online.

This is actually the longest I’ve gone in my teenage/adult life between international trips. That sounds super pretentious…but I’ve been very fortunate to have been exposed to the world at a very young age. In high school I would go to Mexico every year on mission trips, then switched to a study abroad program in Asia when I was a sophomore in college, to South Africa junior year, to a graduation trip in Nicaragua.

Travel is my life.

This trip is going to be the first international trip I’ve taken as a gluten intolerant person. And I won’t lie…I’m kind of nervous. But my brother and his fiance are amazing and understand that there are certain things I can’t eat. I also have packed an amount of snacks that almost makes me turn my nose up at myself. Not for the time overseas, but for the travel there and back. Airports are the gfree person’s biggest nightmare. Easy to eat food (think burgers, pizza, sandwiches) don’t lend themselves to gluten free. And I refuse to do what I did on the way back from SXSW and eat frozen yogurt for dinner (not a bad dinner, but not filling for a 12 hour flight).

So I bought Larabars, Luna bars, trail mix, some gluten free chocolate covered pretzels (it is a vacation after all), and fruit based products. I feel like a mom of 3 children who constantly has food on her.

On a more serious note, I finally feel ready to talk about the health issues I’ve been battling. Mainly because there are no answers, so I don’t have a solution for you.

I’ve been having severe pain in the upper left area of my stomach that has been waking me up from sleep. In the world of digestive health, apparently anything in your stomach area that causes that much pain is a bad thing. Food became painful to eat in the sense that as soon as I ate it, it hurt. So I lost my appetite. And then I lost my energy.

I’ve had blood drawn, an ultrasound, a CT scan and a colonoscopy. The only answer they have is that there are levels in my blood that signify an infection in my intestines..but they aren’t sure where.

I share all of this with you, not for your sympathy. Far from it. After years of few answers, I’ve realized it’s easier not to talk to others about it because there aren’t answers. Answers are neat and tidy. My digestive system isn’t. Instead, I write this because I want you to feel comfortable reaching out for any “awkward” health problems you might have. My dad tried to make me feel uncomfortable the other way with the level of detail he was sharing about his health, and was shocked when I told him the details people talk to me about. And I love that.

When you’ve had every digestive test possible, you’re happy to tell people what to expect. Or at least I am.

So peace out for now. But I will leave you with some of my favorite pictures from previous trips I’ve taken. Don’t miss me too much.

 

1. Getting up there was some work, but enjoying the view on the Great Wall of China

2. Technically Hawaii isn’t international, but it sure felt like it.

3. The faces. Seriously. The faces (Katie don’t kill me!)

4. My best friend, Abby and I on Senior Spring break in Mexico. She is my life.

5. Potentially my all time favorite photo. Taken in South Africa, it portrays all of my girls for exactly who we are.

6. In South Africa, the monkeys attack.

7. Just falling off Table Mountain.

8. My ultimate dream come true. I live for African elephants. Gentle giants who are smarter than any human.

9. There is no editing to this photo. Nicaragua really is that gorgeous.

10. Karen became an honorary Norman for this trip

11. I will never.ever.seriously ever. go zip lining again in my life. Clearly this photo was taken before.

Life is Too Short

I know this is a blog about food. Er, was supposed to be a blog about food. But as most of my blogging as tended to happen from 30,000 feet where the internet sucks so badly I can’t upload the photos I’ve taken, I’ve resorted to blogging about my life. And my thoughts. My apologies.

As an avid writer in high school and college, there is nothing I love more than a good poem. ee cummings will always have my heart with “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond.” I’m also an emo sucker for a good quote. You caught me. I adore the quotes on Pinterest (aside from food, it is my number one board I pin to…and you can view it here). In fact, the lock screen background for my phone is a quote by Jack Kerouac reading: “Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”

So because no one really knows what to do with this week with the 4th being on a Wednesday and Canada Day being on a Monday (gotta send some love to my Canucks!), I thought I’d share two of my favorite poems/quotes – one new and one old (unfortunately neither are blue…or fortunately since I’m not planning on getting hitched in the near future).

I’m also doing this at a key point when someone interviewing me to learn if I was qualified for something (I’ll spare you all the details), asked what my five year plan was, and I told her I didn’t know. I have a 10 year plan, but in 5 years…I can’t think of where I want to be. I’ll be 28, almost 29, so maybe I should have some stuff figured out by then. But for now, I’ll take it by quarters.

The first comes from my advertising days – and was brought to my attention as a viral video of the week. Damn you Wieden + Kennedy! This poem also came to me at a much needed point in my life when there seemed to be very little hope (no pun intended).

The next, came today via Jamie (remember..he just got married. You can see the photos here). Anyway, he knows me pretty well to know I like corny, but true stuff like this.

 

You’ll notice there’s a trend about life and what to do with it.

Do what would make the past, present and future you happy. Suck the marrow. Carpe the diem.

Have fun. Dance in your seat. And enjoy the corny stuff. Lord knows I do.

Travels and Photos

I have a post in my draft folder that includes photos from all my trips recently, but I’m currently on a flight to San Francisco and the Internet on the flight is too spotty for me to trust it. But since I have abandoned all of you (albeit, leaving you with beautiful photos of myself), I thought I’d update you on my journeys and how I’ve been able to avoid eating gluten along the way. I’m also going to attempt a few photos as a hail mary.

In the past month (think mid-May), I’ve been to NYC to visit my Nina Bean, bought a day of last minute cheap flight to DC to see my best friend, Abby, currently on my way to San Fran for work…and in two weeks heading to LA to visit my Kwanster. My Sky Miles are loving me right now. My health not so much.

I have a tendency to lose my voice whenever I start to/actually get sick which leaves me sounding like a late night phone operator. Hilarious for the first day or two. Annoying anytime after that. Feel free to give me a call for some entertainment on your end.

With all my traveling, I do have to think a lot about not only what/where I’ll eat while not in my food comfort zone, but also what to snack on while flying. Traveling makes me hungry. And takes away my motivation to eat healthy. Horrible combo. So I’ve taken to packing my own snacks, mainly so I’m not tempted to buy garbage – candy looks so good when you’re running on zero sleep and miss your bed. Lara and Luna bars have been my biggest saving grace recently. Luna bars are not by any means Paleo, but it’s better than a Butterfingers (sounds flipping phenomenal!). And if I’m really struggling, I buy nuts. These are the times I miss Goldfish and Cheez-Its, but nuts will do. Beggers can’t be choosers.

In terms of eating in different cities, my friends have been absolutely amazing. Nina essentially let me choose any gluten free specialty restaurant and didn’t complain when I wanted to go back to two of them twice. Abby patiently laid in bed with me while I researched gluten free options at restaurants even making a call or two herself for some gluten free bagels in DC (that quest was a fail – NYC, you win!). 

For those of you fine folks who are wondering what I eat when eating out, especially at a restaurant where they don’t have clearly marked gf options, here are some of my go-tos:

omelettes – eggs, veggies, cheese – always a safe choice for me. and amazing. even better when eaten with cream cheese.

salads – no bleu cheese, croutons or suspicious dressing, but usually a good option for when I get the motivation to eat healthy.

bunless burgers – it’s a little sad to have a hamburger without a bun, but always a good option for when I’m really hungry.

Speaking of bunless burgers…I celebrated Father’s Day, but more importantly, my parent’s 34th wedding anniversary, yesterday by tagging along to dinner and a Second City show. We went to Rookwood in Cincinnati (get the deviled eggs!!) and I had a bunless burger. I also crashed my parent’s photo. They’re good sports. I’ll leave you with that, and a few other fun photos from the past weeks.

Until next time, I’ll rock out with my new bionic hearing. I’ll tell you about that some other time.

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