Tag Archives: Family

Combating holiday feast weight gain

To avoid holiday weight gain, people often make the mistake of under-eating during the day to make up for the feasting of the evening. This is bad because

a) you will likely be extremely hungry and mow down on rich holiday fare

b) the food you will be eating more of is probably less healthy than what you would normally eat

and c) depending on your body type and what you eat that day, you may lose a bit of muscle mass…and gain fat mass.

If you are going to work out before a feast, lift weights. The insulin coursing through your veins after dinner will be anabolic and your muscles will get ample signals to grow.

If you are going to work out after a feast, lift weights or do cardio. Preferably sprints or intervals, but try not to vomit. Doing cardio before a big meal might end up just making you hungrier, but doing it after will stimulate the hormone epinephrine (which tells the body to release fat and glycogen  stores) to balance out the ridiculously high blood insulin and sugar levels.

After our Christmas dinner tonight (Mom wanted to have leftovers for the rest of our family visit), I did a workout that anyone could do – anywhere. Not gonna lie, I started to cramp up at the beginning, but it passed quickly… Worth it.

Download the free iPhone app Seconds and create a high intensity interval timer with 1 minute hard 1 minute easy, 15 rounds, for a total of 30 minutes of work.

The Shut Up and Do It Workout

  • 10 minute jog

Choose whichever of the following exercises you feel like at the moment and do it for 1 minute, repeat with different exercises until the 30 minutes are up. If you don’t have dumbbells or something heavy, just do the ones you can.

  • Jumping jacks
  • V-ups
  • Box jumps
  • Mountain climbers
  • Fire hydrant kicks
  • Squat jumps
  • Lunge jumps
  • Booty leg lifts
  • Lunges
  • Dumbbell swings
  • Bridges
  • Dumbbell snatches
  • Alternating crunch up-toe touches
  • Leg lifts
  • Pushups
  • Pull ups
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep dips
  • Dumbbell flys
  • Jumping jacks
  • Butt kicks
  • Long jumps
  • Step ups (one leg at a time)

GO DO IT!

one of the unexpected benefits of lifting + a recipe

Hello from the Texas hill country! It is blue bonnet season, and they are absolutely stunning. I think one of the coolest things that a First Lady has done is how Lady Bird Johnson planted millions wild flowers all along the highways in Texas. Now, every Spring, the sides of the roads are blanketed in wild flowers. There are blue bonnets, Indian paint brushes, and daisies.

Being home has been soothing. I can actually sleep here and I’m not quite the cracked out stress ball that I am at school.  My cousin, Kelly, is visiting my mom and Steve at the same time as I, so we have all been hanging out together constantly. Home cooked meals, laying out in the sun, working out, kind of studying MCAT… and watching movies. Kelly also does CrossFit, so today we did her gym’s WOD and it was awesome! And for a WOD, it was long – 37 minutes.

The WOD

45 seconds headstand, 45 seconds rest

45 seconds tricep dips, 45 seconds rest

45 seconds hollow rock, 45 seconds rest

45 seconds pistols, 45 seconds rest

45 seconds burpees, 45 seconds rest

repeat 5x

Me and Kelly! And Mom taking the photo because she wanted a “girl power photo” ;)

With my extra spare time here I have been thinking about a few things. One of them being reasons for why I lift. I realized that feeling physically strong makes me feel more emotionally strong. Its like, if I can lift this 150 pounds or whatever than I sure as hell am not going to let that comment or indiscretion knock me sideways. As I am writing this, I was going to go on about the empowerment of lifting and physical strength (which is true), but I began thinking about those who are not physically able. They are certainly emotionally strong – probably far more than your average person. So, I decided to do a little reading about how those with disabilities empower themselves, and I found this  article from Lillie Ammann. She suggests that people with disabilities empower themselves by getting out there and trying to not limit themselves from the activities that they enjoy. Also, to focus on the positives in life rather than what is lacking. Both of these recommendations easily apply to everyone. Like not letting fear keep us from going after our goals are doing what we want.

Ammann also wrote a few recommendations for those able bodies, like

  • Treat everyone you meet with respect and courtesy, and don’t ignore or exude pity to disabled people you meet.
  • Offer assistance without being condescending, but don’t be offended if it is declined.
  • Don’t occupy the facilities that are reserved for the handicapped.
That got rather off topic, but it is always good to get brought back to reality and count ze blessings! Another blessing of the week was the epic success that was this  lunch. We have fresh rosemary growing in our front yard and I wanted find a way to use it with chicken and black walnuts (my favee). 

rosemary walnut crusted chicken

Recipe: Serves 2

adapted from My Recipes

  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts, black if possible
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions – Preheat oven to 425°. Combine egg white and mustard in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken to mixture, turning to coat. Combine panko, nuts, and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a shallow dish. Remove chicken from egg mixture; discard extra egg mixture. Dredge chicken in panko mixture. Arrange a wire rack on a large baking sheet; coat rack with cooking spray. Arrange chicken on rack. Bake at 425° for 13 minutes or until chicken is done.

So delicious!! And this would definitely work for dinner too, perhaps with some kale or pasta and olive oil!

Benefits:

Walnuts * a fabulous source of 0mega 3 fatty acids. Walnuts have been found to decrease LDL cholesterol, decrease inflammation, improve endothelial cell function, and decrease risk of excessive blood clotting, all of which decrease heart disease risk. They may also help reduce metabolic syndrome symptoms and decrease tummy fat. They are rich in antioxidants and may help protect against some cancers.

Chicken * an excellent source of lean, complete protein as well as B vitamins.

Poker face

Finally, I am back in action! Since getting home late Sunday night, I have been cooking up a storm, but simply haven’t had time to blog about it. To get back into the groove of things, I started by making a recipe or two from magazines. When creativity is lacking, there is no harm in looking to other’s – I assume that is why y’all read my blog after all! If you think about it, starting a blog is quite an egocentric activity. Unless you keep it completely private, you are assuming that people want to read what you have to say. Part of why I haven’t been blogging much lately is because I want the content I post to have meaning and value to you. I don’t want to just slap up a recipe or ramble about school. Providing useful recipes, workouts, and information about health-related topics is my primary goal for this blog, but sometimes it is hard to make the time create more meaningful posts.

Anywho, the reunion was wonderful. Just like last year, the entire family stayed in a house on Lake of the Ozarks and each day was filled with tubing, BBQ, fancy schmancy Wii games (that I can’t figure out how to play), ice cream, and swimming.

gramps and I

Spending time with my family brings me back to my roots. The stress of school, personal demons, and the daily grind melts away and I am left with my core self, which is both good and bad. Without all the distractions of daily life, the flaws that I see in myself become unavoidably clear. I need to be more patient, more agreeable, and more giving on other people’s terms. It is not challenging to be agreeable, patient, and giving on your own terms. What really counts is when you can be those things at the most inconvenient of times. I also want to be more vocal about my thoughts and feelings for others.

I really love people.

Instead of seeing the negative or irksome qualities in a person, I always see their best qualities first. And if I finally do notice someone’s lesser qualities (which is usually pointed out to me by another), I typically spin it in a positive light. For example, if a girl is a bit over the top and dramatic, instead of labeling that as obnoxious or self-centered, I would say it is because she is very confident and has highly developed social skills (and can work a room like no other). Or, I can justify a negative quality with something positive that outweighs it. For example, I have a friend who flakes on me often, but instead of thinking of it as rude, I simply think it is because she leads a very busy life and handles it with insane dedication and work ethic. It is nothing personal, she just wants to please (by saying yes to plans), but simply doesn’t have the time.

Usually, this way of thinking is good. For the most part, I think it enhances my relationships with others and lets them grow when others would cast off a friendship prematurely. Very rarely do I justify wrong behaviors or qualities to the point of getting myself hurt in the process, although it has happened. Anyway, back to the point, I have all these positive thoughts and emotions tumbling around in my head about my family, friends, and even people I don’t know very well, but I usually don’t express them. Half the time, I am probably walking around with far too stern of a face. I should probably smile a bit more and speak up a bit. Who doesn’t want to know how fabulous they are?

Moral of the story: Spend time with your family. Remember the truly important things in life are love, relationships, and one’s happiness and health. Notice things you want to improve about yourself and hop to it!

Im going to end this crazy tangent right now and present to you the recipe that got me back into cooking.

Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Basil Oil

watermelon and goat cheese are a match made in heaven

Recipe: makes 3-4 servings

adapted from Martha Stewart

3 cups watermelon, cubed

1 cucumber, cubed

2 tomatoes, sliced

1 tsp lemon juice

1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup basil leaves

salt

pepper

Directions: Blend the basil and oil in a blender until just combined, so there are still a few chunks of basil. Set aside. Slice the tomatoes, cucumber, and watermelon and place in a bowl. Toss with lemon juice and goat cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with basil oil.

does anyone notice my ridiculous captions?

Benefits

Watermelon * a great source of vitamin A, C, B1, and B6. The antioxidants derived from the vitamin A help fight inflammation which contributes to many ailments, including heart attacks, diabetes miletus, and arthritis.

Tomatoes * also contain a LOT of vitamin A and C. Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that has been shown in studies to reduce the effects of smoking. This does not mean it is okay to smoke, but if you do, it is a VERY good idea to make sure are getting lots of vitamin A daily. Tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, which has been proven to halt the growth of cancer cells!

It was even better the next day!

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July from Lake Tahoe! This weekend has truly been a blessing. Carlyn and I drove to Tahoe early Friday morning to her parent’s new home on North Shore. It is the longest period of time I have been able to spend with her throughout our entire friendship. She is the busiest girl I know. She wants to be a vet and apparently getting into vet school is even harder than med and law school combined. I have to fight for a sliver of her time between her two jobs, internship, and school – so obviously spending an entire weekend with her and her fam has been extra special. We have gone hiking…

We have tanned…

We have eaten delicious food and made fresh mojitos…

And simply enjoyed the beauty around us..

In 4th of July spirit, I have a recipe that can easily be made red, white and blue! Just add a few red sprinkles or cherry chunks ;)

Vanilla Cashew Blueberry Cookies

sugar free but delish!

soo creamy

Recipe: Makes ~10 cookies

Dry ingredients - 

1/2 cup whole wheat white flour

1/2 cup NuNaturals baking blend stevia (can sub in sugar in equal quantities)

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup blueberries

optional: dash cinnamon and/or tbsp brown sugar

Wet ingredients - 

1 tbsp butter, melted

3 tbsp cashew butter

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions – Preheat the oven to 350. Combine all the wet ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Combine all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl (except blueberries) and mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet bowl and mix with a spatula until well combined. Fold in blueberries. Take a spoonful of cookie dough, roll into a ball, and flatten onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes.

they were a hit –  literally gone in 10 seconds

Benefits:

Cashews * may help prevent gall stones and are a prime source of copper, tryptophan, magnesium, and phosphorous. Low copper intake can lead to anemia, osteoporosis, elevated LDL cholesterol (bad), and join problems. Inadequate magnesium can lead to muscle cramps (the kind that wake you up at night in agony), headaches, high blood pressure, and fatigue. While obviously high in fat, most of it is monounsaturated and may help lower triglyceride levels and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.

Blueberries * have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of all fruits and veggies. Their anthocyanidins counteract free radicals, which damage cells and tissues. One study demonstrated that blueberries improve memory and learning capacity in aging animals. They also protect against all forms of cancer, especially colon and ovarian cancer.

Something different

I know it is pretty late for a post, but I wanted to write about something a bit more personal while it is still June 5th. Today, 13 years ago, my dad passed away from lymphoma. I was only 8 years old, so at the time I didn’t comprehend the finality of death. It took years for me to fully internalize what happened. Knowing the definition of death is nothing like the moment you finally understand the concept of eternity. Until that moment in time, the looks of pity and sympathy reveal a sense of bewilderment rather than sadness.

I used to think that crying was the only way to mourn, or the only right way. As I have gotten older, my way of coping with his death has transitioned more from salty tears to reflection and honoring his memory. Of course, tears still come (and always will) but I have learned that there is no right or wrong way to react to the death of a loved one. I always used to worry that I was abnormal for so many things.

It is so normal, almost painfully so, for us to worry that we are abnormal.

Since my father’s death, I have been told time and time again what a loving father, brilliant doctor, hilarious badass, and genuine person he was. I knew him for less time than most of his friends and family, but I cling to my memories like gold vanilla bean gelato and want to share a few of them with you.

As background, he was 6’4 with extremely long legs and an affinity for cowboy boots, blue jeans, and pearl snaps. He liked fast cars, fast boats, and hunting. A real man’s man. (A seemingly dwindling breed?…) He didn’t really know his own strength. I used to get ‘tummy aches’ all the time, almost every night. Whenever I was at dad’s house, I would ask for a tummy rub just like I got at moms. He tried his best, but always ended up pressing a little too hard, and rather than relieving any pain, I usually just felt dinner coming back up. Seltzer and saltines would have to suffice.

Although he couldn’t quite master the belly rub, he was very capable at gentility. For some reason, I always used to get horrendous knots in my hair. Like f*cked up huge. I would wake up in the morning for school, stumble to the bathroom, and discover a hard ball of hair at the nape of my neck the size of a grapefruit. I always just wanted to put it up in a ponytail and ignor it so as to save my tender-headed scalp from the pain of dealing with it, but this was never okay with dad. No daughter of Brian DeDecker was going to go to school looking ragged. I think a part of him wanted to prove that a single father could make his little girl look just as cute as any mom could. He would sit me down on the living room floor armed with a plastic green brush (the kind with those wretched little balls on the end) and a bottle of Johnson and Johnson green apple scented detangler. I think he called it rat spray or something… He would whittle away at the knot until my hair was smooth, but utterly soaked in green apple spray. Finally, a solid 20 minutes later, he would send me off to school with my backpack and lunchbox.

The lunchbox was always a source of entertainment both for me and my classmates. I wasn’t exactly cool in elementary school. Quite the opposite actually. I was a total nerd, socially awkward and always buried in a book. Thank God for my one friend (I love you, Loryn). At lunch, I would open up my purple insulated sack to find enough food to feed my entire row of classmates. There was always a turkey sandwich of sorts, 2 or 3 string cheeses, 2 bags of chips, carrots or apples, and not 1 but 2 chocolate puddings. And probably 5 other things I am forgetting. I never left lunch hungry and usually had surplus left over for trading.

There are many more memories I could share, but I shall leave it at that. I will always wish he were still here, but I am thankful for the time I had with him. One of the best things we can do is to live in a way that honors our loved ones and keep their memory alive. I will post again tomorrow or Tuesday with some recipes. I hope this wasn’t too debbie downer of a post!

Love love.

Spring has sprung!

Today is the first day of Spring quarter. It is the first quarter in almost two years that I don’t have 8am class every single day. The course load looks like this:

Requirements for Human Nutrition

Nutritional Assessment

Intro to Nutrition and Metabolism

Biochemistry Lab (SIX units – Ahhh! But I am waitlisted…)

Bioenergetics of Metabolism (my backup if I don’t get into that lab)

Looks like y’all have more nerdy, science-based posts coming your way! :) With the exception of the lab, I think these courses will be less challenging than what I have been taking. They are more specific, and thus more fun! I am also trying to get an internship, but am not having any luck. I have emailed and called at least 10 endocrinologists and 15 professors and not one has responded with anything positive, if they even responded at all. I don’t think grad or med schools are going to want a girl with zilch experience, even if she has good grades. Fabulous.

I picked up the Neener last night from the puppy sitter. She got chubby! I bet that was the sitter’s tactic of keeping her quiet – nothing like wad of sticky peanut butter to take the yap out of pup… That’s okay, I’ll just take her on a few extra long walks this week.

After not cooking all week in Park City, I was so excited to get back in the kitchen! This morning I made something fabulous.

Eggs Benedict with Citrus Cured Salmon, Maple-Cream Glaze and Fried Capers

Fudge ya.

Recipe: Serves 1

1 whole wheat english muffin

2-3 oz smoked salmon

1 tbsp fresh orange juice

salt

2 eggs

1/2 tbsp capers

grapeseed oil

1 tbsp cream cheese

1 1/2 tbsp half and half

1 tsp maple syrup

Directions -

1. Massage the smoked salmon with the orange juice and salt. Let marinate while you cook. Toast the english muffin.

2. Spray a pan with grapeseed oil and place on the stove on medium heat. Crack two eggs into the pan and cover with a lid. Reduce heat to medium low. When the egg white is opaque but the yolk is runny, remove from heat.

3. While the eggs are cooking, put a tiny pan on the stove on medium high heat with grapeseed oil. Add the capers. Periodically stir them while they fry. They are done when they are browned.

4. Mix together the cream cheese, half and half, and maple syrup.

5. Put the english muffin on a plate. Top with the smoked salmon, then the eggs, then the maple cream, then the capers. Enjoy!

Benefits:

Capers * contain lots of the antioxidants flavonoids and isothiocyanates, which offer some DNA protection! They have been found to slow oxidation of fat during cooking and digestion and aid in the regeneration of vitamin E (thus increasing it’s availability to your body).

Smoked salmon * Salmon has one of the highest concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids! Studies show that eating omega 3 rich fish just twice a week can lower blood triglycerides (which are bad for your heart). Salmon is also rich in tryptophan, vitamin D, protein, B vitamins, and selenium!

Eggs * the yolk is where all the nutrients are! It contains tryptophan, selenium, iodine, B vitamins, and phosphorous, many of which are necessary for optimal metabolism. The egg white has 6 grams of complete protein!

Masala spiced lentil and sweet potato hash browns – BAM!

I am so glad today is Friday. I need this weekend to study and catch up on my life. It seems to be flying by lately… I added a furry new addition to our house on Wednesday and she is quite the time suck! But I am saving that for a future post ;)!

I had been craving sweet potatoes and hash browns and had a bag of lentils I really wanted to make something with, and thus

Masala Spiced Lentil and Sweet Potato Hash Browns


was born. And oh my god they are amazing. They are crispy but not grossly deep fried. They have an amazing masala spice flavor that is perfectly complimented with garlic and sweet coconut oil. You can have them for dinner with sauteed veggies or breakfast with eggs! Or lunch with turkey bacon? I don’t know. Thats what I did.

Recipe: Makes 10 hash browns

1 sweet potato (2 cups grated)

green lentils (1 cup lightly cooked)

masala spice

onion

carrot

2 whole eggs

2 tbsp whole wheat white flour

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

2 1/2 tbsp coconut oil

salt

Directions -

1. Soak your lentils in warm water with a few drops of lemon for an hour. Drain.

2. Put about an inch and a half of water into a pan. Add a couple baby carrots, some chopped onion, and masala spice to flavor the water. Bring it to a boil. Add your lentils. You can use 1/2 cup or more if you want leftovers. Do not cook until they are super soft. Cook them until they are just under cooked to how you would like to eat them. Mine were just slightly chewy after about 5 minutes. You don’t want them to be too watery for the hash browns. Drain them well. Remove the onion and carrot pieces.

2. Grate your sweet potato using the larger hole setting on your standard grater. (The holes should be about the size of a standard pencil eraser rather than a small peppercorn.) Now you need to remove the moisture. Take a hand towel (that you can bleach later) and lay it flat on a table. Spread the grated potato evenly over the upper half (longways). Hot dog style, fold the other half over. Press hard to absorb moisture. Then roll it up and squeeze more. Then, scrape your potato shavings onto a large napkin.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the 2 cups of grated sweet potatoes, 1 cup of drained lentils, 2 whole eggs, 2 tbsp whole wheat white flour, and lots of masala spice.

4. Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a large pan at medium heat. Add a portion of your chopped garlic. Once the garlic is light brown, turn the heat down a little and add your potato mixture to the pan. I made 4 hash browns in the pan and did 2 rounds of 4 and 1 round of 2. Use a spatula to firmly press the hash browns down into little pancakes.

5. Once they are browned to your liking on one side, flip. Continuously press them down with a spatula, as this will help them stick together. Salt them.

6. Once they are browned on both sides, transfer the hash browns to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Amazing. My entire house has been raving about them.

Benefits:

Garlic * packed with antioxidants that fight aging, cancer, and heart disease! Garlic can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and eliminate free radicals (which cause cellular damage). It is also used to treat asthma and yeast infections.

Sweet potato * high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, and B6! The antioxidants in sweet potatoes work to eliminate free radicals (which damage the body) and are anti-inflammatory, so they can help alleviate symptoms of many conditions.

Coconut oil* coconut gets a bad rap because of its saturated fat content, but its fatty acids are mainly medium-chain triglycerides, not long-chain. The long-chain triglycerides are bad for our cholesterol levels, but coconut has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Animal studies suggest that medium-chain triglycerides can increase metabolism.

Eggs * the yolk is where all the nutrients are! It contains tryptophan, selenium, iodine, B vitamins, and phosphorous, many of which are necessary for optimal metabolism. The egg white has 6 grams of complete protein!


My 21st birthday – best birthday yet.

My 21st birthday was last last friday, January 28th. I woke up for my 8am class and was greeted by cute little signs in the hallway…

its probably a good thing you cant read all of the 3rd one

thats not my name…… :)

and at the end of the trail I found all of my house mates with a huge, wrapped birthday present!

so cute I cried..

They had each written a letter and put them into a big frame with pictures of all of us. It is definitely one of the sweetest gifts I have ever gotten. After that, I went to class, took a midterm, and when I returned home I found bouquets of flowers and this…

from my dear mama!

That evening 15 girl friends and I went to dinner downtown and I purchased my first legal drink!

the 3 of my 4 housemates and I before going out

“the Decimator” indeed.

Unfortunately, I failed to take a single picture with the whole group. :( Afterwards, we went downtown to a couple bars, had a few drinks, danced, and returned home to crash!

All in all, it was the perfect birthday.

New Zealand wrap up

After 12 days in lovely New Zealand, I am home! Getting back was a bit more difficult than I had anticipated. After a three hour flight from the South island to the North island and a 12 hour flight to the US of A, I arrived at LAX. I figured I could just take Amtrak to Davis, so I hopped on the Flyaway bus. Once at the Amtrak station (after being propositioned to be “taken out to hollywood tonight” and then “driven up the beautiful PCH to Davis” by a total stranger), I learned that there isn’t actually a train to where I live. So I took a 3 hour bus ride to get to a 5 hour train ride and then topped it off with another hour and half bus ride. It was just so much fun. During the third bus ride I realized that I didn’t have a key and my housemates weren’t home yet. Oops. It’s all good, though!

I didn’t take pictures every day but I will post some of the best that I have to sum up the remainder of my trip…

My step sista Brittany’s house, see all the Tibetan flags and things?!

Her driveway and horse

New Zealand has the coolest yogurt flavors.

Unfortunately their greek yogurt has the same nutritional profile as regular yogurt..?

Pastoral

Farariki beach, which my mom just called “Freaky Beach”

And the best meal I had on my trip..

Zucchini bruschetta with goat cheese and mint

Amazing goat cheese salad with fresh pears, walnuts, endive, and croutons

BBQ scallops with chili, lemon, olive oil, and wild rocket

Beef carpaccio with gorgonzola Dulce, lemon, chili, rocket, and grilled baguette

Pan fried snapper with tomatoes, red onion, basil pesto, and lemon

Clearly, we feasted.

Although the trip was truly great, I am excited to be back home and get back into the swing of things. This includes cooking and blogging new recipes! The discovery that I enjoy some cheeses has opened up a whole new world to me…

Happy 2011 everyone!

Bird poop in New Zealand is clear, but in the States it is white….

I am not sure if the title of this post means anything, but I feel that it is worth noting.

Day 3:

Madre and I woke up and had breakfast at the hotel and then set out for what is said to be the prettiest section of the Queen Charlotte trek. Unfortunately for us, it began to rain pretty hard about an hour in. I did manage to capture a pretty photo between the bursts of rain.

After the 4 hour hike, we decided to drive all the way across the country horizontally to Westport to go on one of the most beautiful treks in the country, the Heaphy.

The drive was gorgeous. We passed through so many different terrains, including pastoral scenes of sheepies, jungle, thick wooded forests, and vineyards!

God?

We arrived in Westport late on Christmas Eve and Madre almost had a panic attack because no hotels were open. Eventually, we found a gem of a motel and crashed there. As I cozied into bed after a long day, I smelled this really strong odor of garlic-butter-onion-aioli. Is it me? I smelled myself and it definitely wasn’t me. I tossed and turned, each motion granting me a fresh whiff of garlic butter, and eventually fell asleep. The following morning is when I learned that you are always supposed to pull back the top blanket on a motel bed. The rich buttery scent was eminating from my blanket, which I had previously been so cozily curled up in. To be honest, the stench would have actually been half way appealing if I hadn’t been sleeping with it.

Day 4:

We woke up early and went to the lobby for the free continental breakfast and were met with fruit from a can floating in a vat of syrup, stale toast, sugar saturated yogurt, and fake eggs with canned mushrooms. Mmm.

Grossed out but full, we hopped into the car and drove to the portion of the famous Heaphy trek that we intended on hiking. It was gorgeous.

About 2 or so hours in, I started getting pretty loopy. My feet were heavy as stones and instead of focusing on the gorgeous scenes around me, I was looking at the ground. The sounds of nature were drowned out by my pounding heart and inner monologue “IM HUNNGRRYYYY!”

Just another hour… keep on walkin’. Ordinarily, I am against listening to music while hiking, especially in a foreign country. One should focus on taking in all the details of their surroundings and ingraining the beauty in their memory. You never know if you will be back there again, or if it will even exist. But desperate times call for desperate measures. I pulled out my ipod and started my favorite dance/workout playlist. It was like someone had injected me with adrenaline and seratonin. My pace quickened… I felt great. My favorite song came on and suddenly I could breathe, I could run, the trees parted for me and I was so free. It dawned on me…

I AM IN NEW ZEALAND! THIS IS AMAZINGGG!

With my mom’s back to me, I broke out in dance. Yeeee!

Finally, we reached our lunch destination on the beach. I devoured my canned chicken, crackers, nuts, goat’s feta, and apple. I layed out and napped while mom explored and then we headed back the way we came.

I spotted a creek of what looked like blood..

After seeing that, I quickened my pace a bit. I kept looking over my shoulder for a swarm of mosquitos, or towards the water for a stampede of frogs…

5 hours after we began, we arrived back at the car. We drove to Nelson and arrived at about 10pm last night. This morning we had a nice breakfast at the hotel (not really photo worthy though..) and are going to go pick up my step paps from the air port.

I miss reading all of your blogs! My reader has 78 unread! :(