My Life in California

Happy weekend, guys! I’m finally feeling like myself again after a doozy of a cold last week, I hope none of you get it. Tis the season, right? I’m sitting here, sipping on my first cup of coffee in a week (I KNOW HOW THE HECK AM I STILL ALIVE?) and I realized I haven’t given any blog updates on how things have been going since the big move. So while this happy caffeine buzz lasts, I want to share a little about what I’ve been up to since moving to California about a month ago!

The San Francisco Bay Area sure is beautiful. I’m in love with the green hills all around, the palm trees that line some of the streets, and the views of the bay. I live in the East Bay, and so far I love it. To be fair, I do miss home (Colorado will always be my “home”)…but it’s helped that the winter here is so mild. People have been complaining about the 40s and 50s here, and I’m just happy I don’t need a winter jacket.

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I bought this pretty little plant baby, and I love her so!

I’ve been settling in to my new job, and it’s very fulfilling and challenging. My coworkers rock, I’m slowly building up to a full caseload, and I’m learning so SO so much. It’s hard, pretty much all the time I feel like I’m flailing, but I know I’m where I’m supposed to be right now. It’s so good, to finally be working and actually loving what I’m doing, and I’m really grateful for it.

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One of my coworkers brought back these amazing Harry Potter enamel pins from Universal Studios. See? I fit in so well with these people!

I’m back to ballet again, I found a great studio in the Bay Area that offers tons of adult classes. It’s pretty intense–a lot of local professional dancers take the class, and everyone is amazing, but it’s been so cool to be in class with such talented artistic people. I love watching them in class and trying to imitate their artistry (and failing miserably, of course). Ballet just fills my soul with joy!

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My daily mantra…and my coffee vessel of choice

Weekends have mostly been spent relaxing, studying, and exploring the area slowly. I don’t really have friends here yet (other than my coworkers), so it’s been a little weird and lonely at times…but I know I’ll meet great people eventually! I think it just takes time to really integrate yourself into a new community and get out there and actually meet people. It’s something that can be sort of challenging for me, because I’m definitely an introverted person. It takes me a little while to warm up to new people and really be myself. So I’m trying to really push myself in that area. Work in progress, right?

I’m still trying to find a good balance of how I spend my time…right now I’m learning so much and having to study in a lot of my free time, so I haven’t had as much time to participate in my hobbies as I’d like. I’m trying to learn French so I can go to Paris with my family later this year, and I’m hoping to carve out some dedicated weekly time to work on that. I’m also not getting as many creative outlets as I’d like right now–there are times that I really get the itch to create, and right now I just don’t have a ton of time to fulfill the need. Again, work in progress.

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Just a selfie to demonstrate that I’m happy here. #Shameless

Anyway, I don’t want to go on and on and bore you to bits. I just wanted to share a little of what my life has been like since I uprooted myself. As hard as it’s been to be alone in a new city, starting a new job…I really feel like I’m meant to be here right now. It feels right. I’m happy here right now! Thanks for letting me gush on for a while there. I’m trying not to be too doofy, but California is treating me pretty well so far.

xo

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In the Kitchen

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I love food. Pretty much my whole grid is made up of food (and my pets, of course!). But I don’t share my love of eating and cooking on the blog very often, and I want to change that. So today I’m introducing a little mini-series called “In the Kitchen,” where I’ll share some of the recipes I’ve been making lately.

This year, I’ve really gotten back into trying new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen, and this first “In the Kitchen” is going to be a fun mix of different things!

  1. First up, a lemon orzo salad! I went to lunch with my grandma early in the summer and ordered the most delicious, light but filling, lemon-y orzo salad served over spinach. I couldn’t stop thinking about the salad for days…literally, I dreamed about it. So I searched the internet for recipes and ended up with this one, which is the recipe that orzo dreams are made of. Seriously, my entire family loved it, and it’s my new go-to recipe for parties or having friends over. It’s really easy to make, and it’s also easy to just cut back on the amount of cheese for my fellow lactose-intolerant friends out there (the recipe calls for feta, but I actually used a bit of parmesan instead). Plus, it makes a TON, so it’s perfect for a large group of people, or you can have leftovers for days (which is my jam). I like to serve it over fresh spinach or lettuce! In the Kitchen via Imperfect Chevron
  2. To make my brother’s birthday extra special, I decided to make chicken coconut curry — a task that seemed a little ambitious considering I’ve never made curry before, but luckily it turned out great! I made this recipe, and made a few alterations. The recipe calls for poppy seeds, but I used a little extra thick coconut milk instead. I also added cooked potato chunks, salt, and a little curry powder to make it a little more flavorful. All in all, I felt like this recipe is a winner, and kind of a no-fail way to make a really impressive dish to wow your relatives into thinking you’re a cooking genius. Side note, this recipe is not spicy *as is* so if you want a little heat, add some of your favorite spicy spices (cayanne, red chili powder, etc.). Next time I make it, I’m going to add some spicier chili peppers.
  3. The team at A Beautiful Mess always has inspiring and creative vegetarian meal ideas, and when I saw their recipe for Polenta Pizza Bites I was salivating. I finally got around to making them this fall, and they were both easy and tasty. I liked them as a meal, but they’d make excellent appetizers as well. The polenta gets nice and crispy on the outside, and stays soft inside. I didn’t need to cook my polenta for as long as the recipe stated, but I sliced it fairly thin…just keep an eye on your polenta while baking so you don’t accidentally burn it.
  4. I’d been wanting to make this Spaghetti Squash Bake for a long time, and a few weeks back I went for it (even though 2 members of my family don’t care for spaghetti squash and have made their opinions loudly heard). Everybody tried it, and ended up really liking it, which was a major “I told you so!” moment. The biggest thing with this recipe is it takes a little prep work (you have to cook the squash in advance, which is really easy but takes upward of 40 mins usually). But it’s the perfect casserole to cook while you’re watching football or hanging around the house this fall. And, it’s a recipe that you can customize for your eating needs, i.e. you can add mozzarella or parmesan cheese, you can use lactose-free cheese, or you could skip the cheese altogether. Up to you!

So, that wraps up the first “In the Kitchen” with 4 tried and true recipes to add to your arsenal. Now go forth and cook well. (:

xo