The Grass is Always Greener…

Well Easter has come and gone. I hope you had a wonderful weekend spent with people you love! We had a nice day in Tahoe- went skiing, did some relaxing and ate lots of ham.

I must admit I was feeling a little homesick on Sunday though. Luke’s friend was in town and they were on a mission to ski as much as possible. It was really windy and cold,  so I left the mountian early and ended up spending a bit of time at home alone.

I called some family and friends to see what their Easter plans were. Most of them were attending some sort of get together  – brunch, mass, dinner – with their families. I did my best not to feel bad for myself, but I couldn’t help wishing I was spending the day with them instead of sitting on the couch alone.

I sometimes feel like I have to choose between being close to the people I love or living in a place that lets us create the lifestyle and careers we want. My family lives in Toledo, Ohio, and while it’s a great place to raise a family, it doesn’t exactly have the outdoorsy lifestyle or natural beauty we love in Tahoe. Plus the job market is dismal there.

This dilemma is something I think a lot of other young people face. We’re told we can be/do whatever we want – travel the world, have a great career, live in a big city. As a result, we focus on building our independent lives and achieving our goals, which usually results in taking us away from home.

But giving up our aspirations to move home also doesn’t seem like a viable option. Won’t we be considered failures if we don’t reach for and achieve all the opportunities afforded to us? And in my case, if we don’t settle in a good location, won’t our kids eventually leave us and not come home?

I guess there is a tradeoff that we all eventually have to make. I really have no idea what end of the spectrum we’ll eventually end up on.

For the time being I am just going to focus on living in the moment. The life we lead in Tahoe has made us incredibly happy and right now it feels like where we’re supposed to be.  I’m sure the right path will make itself clear in time.

Do you guys ever grapple between being close to those you love and living the lifestyle you want?

One Year As “Mrs. Batman”

Well, one year of wedding bliss is behind us. This past Sunday was one year to the day from when we said “I Do” in downtown Chicago. And what a whirlwind year it’s been!

St. Vincent DePaul Chicago Wedding

Before I got married people told me that the first year was the hardest, so I braced myself for an adjustment period and maybe a few arguments. Looking back on this year though, I must say this year has been nothing but happiness!

In fact, it dawned on me when a friend was telling me about her relationship woes, that I have not cried once this entire year. And I am a pretty emotional person who used to have a good cry about once every 1-2 months. Realizing that I have not shed a single tear (and it wasn’t an “easy” 12 months with our move and starting a new job)  just shows me how truly happy Luke makes me.

The same friend who was crying to me about her guy asked me for my one year of marital “wisdom.” I thought this was funny. What could I possibly know of value after just one year? But I thought about it and decided that my advice would be this:

Marry the right person.

Vauge, I know. So how do you know when it’s the right person? Well in my opinion, it’s about three things:

1. Sharing similar values and interests and dreams.

2. Finding someone who compliments your strengths and weaknesses and personality.

3. Choosing someone who you genuinely love to be around…. a lot. Someone you can have interesting conversations with, who makes you laugh, who is kind, considerate and who you don’t argue with often.

Oh, and it also helps if you think they’re super hot. :)

Now thinking back on our wedding, there’s one part that I smile most when I remember that day….our wedding swing dance! Here it is again for your viewing pleasure- don’t miss Luke’s big moment around 1.18.

Happy anniversary Luke! I am the luckiest girl in the world to have spent even one year as your wife. Love you to pieces.

I Took My First Yoga Class Last Night…

I took my first yoga class last night at High Altitude Fitness. It was very enjoyable I must say. I don’t know why I haven’t taken this up before?

Click Image for Source

We started off sitting on our mats, crossed legged with no shoes on. Our hands rested on our knees with our palms facing up. We did some breathing exercises where we were encouraged to “push aside” everything going on in our lives and focus on our bodies.

At first I thought – uh…you mean I’m supposed to NOT think about that project I have at work, or how Bethenny Ever After is on tonight OR how my game of Angry Birds is going? Impossible! :)

Soon though, I found myself lost in the class, focused on my breathing and relaxation, while everything else sort of melted away. Again- why did I never do this before?

One of the big reasons why I dug this yoga class is because it helped with my anxiety. Unfortunately, I am prone to feeling anxious – my body just handles stress worse than others. When going through even a slightly stressful situation, I feel short of breath, my chest gets tight and I have a constant nervous feeling I can’t shake.

People who haven’t had anxiety don’t get it. I get a lot of “just stop being nervous” or “it’s not a big deal though.” And while my head knows it’s nothing to worry about, I just can’t shut my body off! It’s the pits.

Several years ago I stopped drinking caffeine. That helped. And I also learned how to live through times when I felt anxious. Hugs from Luke help ease it too. :)

It’s gotten 100x better since moving to Tahoe. I think it’s a mix of living in such a beautiful place, getting more exercise outside and working at a ski resort. Oh and still not drinking caffeine – one week I accidentally made regular all week and didn’t understand why my anxiety was out of control!

Anyway, back to the yoga class. It was pretty crazy to me how much more flexible I became as the class went on- mainly because I was focused on relaxing my muscles. I never realized how much tightness I carry around in my shoulders, hands and legs all the time.

We did several balance poses, strength poses where you hold yourself up, and even headstands! I was told later that headstands are a fairly advanced move, so I was happy that I was able to do them without a problem.

At the end of the class, I felt really good. My hips and back – sore from sitting 8 hours a day – were open and stretched, my heart rate was up, but I didn’t feel run down or exhausted, and my head felt clear and relaxed. I slept like a log too.

Have you guys done yoga before? What do you do to ease stress and feel relaxed?

Pork Belly With Caramelized Veggies

Yesterday we decided to take a break from skiing and spent the day doing other activities – going to church, making a mexican breakfast, rock climbing, watching March Madness and cooking a favorite of ours, an easy pork belly recipe.

If you haven’t had pork belly before, you’re missing out! This is an incredibly succulent, savory cut of meat that, if cooked correctly, will fall apart with a little nudge from your fork.

I had only eaten pork belly in a restaurant before, so I was excited when Luke brought some home from Whole Foods last week. Luke does all our grocery shopping because I can’t stand doing  it and he always surprises me with new things to cook at home.

I searched online for a good recipe and came across  Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio’s pork belly recipe, which was also named GQ’s favorite meat dish.

The original recipe has a bunch of fancy steps like skimming fat, crosshatch incisions and scoring the meat that I just eliminated. Afterall- my Twitter says “wannabe chef” not “Top Chef contestant” and who has time to do all those little steps when the meat already looks delectable the way it is??

Pork Belly with Caramelized Veggies


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds pork belly, skin on
  • 1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, white part only, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • About 3 cups brown chicken stock

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While it preheats, salt and pepper your cut of pork belly and cook fat side down (the side with  more white) in a large skillet that has been heated with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Cook the pork 15 minutes until that side is browned.

While pork cooks, coarsely chop all your veggies (except the garlic cloves).

Once the pork is browned, pour off half of the excess oil/fat and add all the veggies to the same pot. Cook the veggies about 20 minutes until soft, adding pepper to taste. Return the pork belly to the pot and add two cups of chicken stock.

Bring the stock to a simmer on the stovetop and then place the whole skillet into the oven. Braise (aka bake) for 1 hour, then add the remaining cup of stock. Cook for another hour to hour and a half until you can cut into the pork easily with a fork. Your veggies should also look caramelized.

This was the part in Tom’s recipe where things got all fancy – including his suggestion that you throw away the veggies and just use the broth they left behind. Is he crazy?! Those veggies are to die for!

I opted to just cut into the meat and savor all the vegetables right out the oven, and I was not disappointed. :) We paired ours with some sweet potato fries tossed with cinnamon and cayenne pepper.

What a delicious Sunday dish! The pork was tender and juicy while the vegetables were crunchy with a sweet, caramel finish.  I highly recommend you give pork belly a try.