Saturday, September 1, 2012

It's Already September? - Old Orchard Beach

Oh boy. It's been a fun week, despite the looming dread of it being the last week of summer before school starts up again. I've been constantly trying to decide if I miss Texas or not, and I think I've finally come to the conclusion that I don't. The heat was nice while I was there (and in comparison the 80 degree New Hampshire days seem downright FREEZING) but the freedom to go out during the day and not roast or break out into a full-body sweat is kind of nice. Plus, I really missed my family and my house and how absolutely green everything is! The ground, the trees, the plants, the bushes, the food! Even the pond water! (Ew.) I do miss the pool though. Oh man, do I miss that pool.

Monday I had a muffin and some homemade juice for breakfast, then went out to pick up Jordan! It was the first time seeing her all summer, so that was pretty great. We picked up some chia seeds at the Local Grocer, which is a health food store a few miles from her house, and then headed back to my house. After a delicious lunch of grilled cheese on Italian bread with some yummy salad, we went for a walk around the neighborhood. We watched Take Me Home Tonight which is a really hilarious movie with Topher Grace (whom I absolutely L-O-V-E) and we got to see our friend Kelsie who left for college the day after. It was a bittersweet reunion if there ever was one. Also on the itinerary: ice cream! We drove down to the Sandwich Creamery where they sell organic ice cream made right on their farm. I got banana pancake flavor because it sounded kind of odd, but it was delicious! (and for dinner - organic hot dogs and corn on the cob, just for future reference)

Tuesday was just as fun. I started my morning with a 6-1-6-1-6-1-6, which is part of a program where beginning runners train for a half-marathon. Basically all the '6's indicate six minutes of walking, where all the '1's indicate one minute of jogging. All in all I was out for half an hour, which gave me lots of energy for the rest of the day. After having the best strawberry-chia-peach-protein shake ever, Hannah and I (whom I was also seeing for the first time in two months) walked around town a bit, and spent about an hour or two in the library. I found Demetri Martin's book "This Is A Book". I'm about halfway through, and let me tell you it is pretty hilarious. I'm not usually one for comedy, but it's great. Hannah and I had our usual sit-in-my-kitchen-and-just-talk for two hours, then walked down to the beach and laid out on the docks for a bit. When we got hungry, we went back home and made the same lunch that I had on Monday (because it was just that good).

Wednesday I was feeling all out of sorts and also quite broke, so I just went to work on the farm with my mom. It was such a nice day, hanging out with her and all the great people at the museum. We went on an herbal walk where we learned about some healing plants, and then just walked around the buildings and tidied up what need to be tidied up! Dinner was my own delicious concoction: cheese quesadillas with peppers and onions, topped with avocado, left-over corn, and all-natural salsa. Nom nom nom. It was a nice prequel to Thursday, when my mom and I went shopping at TJ Maxx and I picked up some adorable clothes for school. I always cherish the days that we get to spend together, just the two of us, because they are so few and far between. She is seriously my favorite person in the whole world. For lunch we had D'angelo's turkey and veggie wraps, which were delicious but so filling, and for dinner we made more homemade spaghetti and sauce with chicken sausage, which we made because we watched a TEDTalk talking about holistic ways of preventing cancer growth through consumption of antiangiogenic foods like tomatoes.

Friday may very well have been the best day of the week. After some vanilla organic cereal with rice milk, I packed some granola, banana chips, sunflower seeds, and blackberries, and picked up Jordan for our beach day!!

We drove down to Scarborough, Maine and went to Old Orchard Beach. I love everything about OOB. I mean, the small-town feel of the streets around it, the big sandy beach, the pier with all the cute shops, the carnival, the cute guys....

We sat on the beach for about an hour, despite the lack of sun. I just love the atmosphere of a beach - it's so lighthearted and fun and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. Plus, it's always great hearing the multitude of languages being spoken.

After we got a little sandy and a little bored, we walked around the streets and grabbed a plate of french fries - which I know are not exactly "healthy", but man, they smelled just like fair food and I couldn't resist. We walked through the somewhat-deserted somewhat-creepy carnival for while, trying (and failing) to stare at the cute carnival workers as discreetly as possible.

Once the fries were gone, we opted for some mint chocolate chip Gifford's ice cream over the fried dough that we were both craving. I don't know how much healthier ice cream is, but probably not much. (Oh well, everyone gets a break in their diet sometimes, right?) Then we made another round through the carnival, because hey - why not stare at the cuties some more?

Overall, I had so much fun. I just love the ocean and how a couple hour drive can take you somewhere that'll make your whole day feel like a vacation. I'm seriously considering going back next weekend, especially if it's sunny. 

And now it's already Saturday, and already September, and already my last weekend before senior year. I decided to refocus my healthy food choices now that it's September, since my ambition kind of faded by the end of the week. For breakfast I decided on some all-natural cereal of some type or another, with a banana and a nectarine chopped up on top. I took some decaf earl grey tea with me when the parents and I went down to the local farmer's market - which is absolutely fabulous. So many local farmers (duh) with fruits and veggies and freshly baked bread and homemade cheese and their own breakfast sausage and even some raw milk (which is supposed to be super healthy in terms of probiotics and nutrients, but it still grosses me out). 

My plans for the rest of the day include reading "The Night Circus", which is such an amazing book, and some sun bathing. Maybe baking, I haven't decided. This month I am looking forward to:
  • the leaves changing color, if they choose to do so before October this year. The different colors of the leaves make for great pictures.
  • the beginning of fall! It's my favorite season by far.
  • starting my senior year of high school, filling out college applications, *hopefully* having an easy homework load this year
  • seeing all of my friends again!
  • making apple muffins and pumpkin bread and all those classic fall staples
  • continuing with my all-natural healthy diet. My goal: to learn about which foods have which nutrients so that I can load up one what my body needs and also find out what my diet is lacking.
What are you looking forward to this month?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

All-Natural Moist Banana Muffins

Last Sunday was my first day back at home, and also my first day on my new healthy diet! Right after a major stock up on all-natural foods at the grocery store, I decided to make some delicious banana muffins based off of this recipe. I made them a few weeks before when I was living with my aunt and they turned out aaamaaazinggg. This time however, instead of following the recipe exactly, I put my own spin on it.

First, the ingredients (I'm listing what I used here, which is slighty different from the King Arthur Flour recipe):

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup mashed banana, about 2 medium or 1 1/2 large bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (or any other variety; soy, rice, cow, almond, etc)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
When I made these muffins, I didn't use any chocolate chips or nuts because my mom is lactose intolerant, and that's why I also used coconut milk instead of cow's milk. To start, I melted some unsalted butter then mixed it with the pure cane sugar.

Then I mashed up two over-ripe bananas, leaving them kind of chunky to make the muffins have little banana chunks, which is so delicious.

To make the muffins extra moist, I added half a cup of unsweetened applesauce. Half a cup was just right; they were super moist but not too dense.

I mixed together the egg, milk, banana, applesauce, and butter/salt mixture then, with two teaspoons of vanilla for extra flavor. Stir until a uniform color and consistency, but I left it a little chunky from not mashing the bananas too much. If you want really uniform muffins, then feel free to mash the bananas a little extra for a smoother batter.

For flour, I recommend using King Arthur whole wheat flour, however I decided to use wheat grains and grind my own flour. Getting two cups took about twenty minutes so of course I recruited my dad to do some of the hard work ;)

Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir it a bit, then add the bowl of wet ingredients. Stir it well until you get a thick batter and all the flour is dissolved.

Pour the batter into a well-oiled muffin tray. Make sure to fill the individual cups nearly to the top since (at least for me) the batter doesn't rise much. I'm not sure if it was because it was so moist and heavy, or because our oven basically sucks, but when baking the muffins they just swelled a bit but never really formed good muffin tops. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-23 minutes. When they're done, be sure to let them sit for about fifteen minutes before digging in - even though they smell so good that you'll want one immediately!

Despite their flatness, these muffins were AMAZING. They were super moist, even now and it's three days later! They came out of the pan with no problems, and were perfectly cooked all the way through. The banana taste was so rich and delicious, with just a hint of apples and vanilla which was phenomenal. These muffins were very light, even being so moist, and I think that they are the perfect breakfast muffins. Everyone in my family, and even my friends, absolutely loved them. Best part: they are 100% all-natural!

My overall rating: 5/5 stars! Delicious!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Healthy living - day one.

Remember "the plan"?

You know...the plan where I come home, eat healthy, start exercising, learn yoga, then go on to live a long and healthy life? Right. That plan.
Well, I'm home. I guess that means the plan is officially in motion! AHH! *happy dance*

I started off my day by hitting snooze. Twice. (Seriously, though - who wants to wake up at 7 AM on a Sunday after falling asleep just six hours prior? Not this girl.) My mom eventually came in to wake me up. Because I was starving, my first plan was to eat some breakfast.

I had a small bowl of healthy, organic, gluten-free, fiber and protein rich cereal that looked more like rabbit-food than people food. I topped it off with some fresh blueberries and coconut milk for extra flavor. Overall, it was pretty delicious!

Then the parents and I went out to Market Basket and Fiddleheads, which is a health-food grocery store. We stocked up on all-natural grains and granolas, and got tons of fresh fruits and veggies. Whenever we could buy something that was organic, we did. I'm proud to say that everything we put in our cart, including the turkey sausage, was 100% all-natural. I'm less proud to say that I finally found out how much eating healthy can break the bank - our total came out to $203! Ouch! At least my conscious was happy, even if my wallet wasn't.

On the way home I snacked on a granola bar made with organic peaches, whole wheat oats, and Greek yogurt. After unpacking all the groceries my muscles in my arms and hands were aching, probably as a result of the sudden humidity that I'm not used to, combined with carrying around two ridiculously heavy bags yesterday. My mom made me a protein shake to help my muscles repair with whey powder, carrots, some melon, an apple, a banana, and a nectarine.

While I was drinking that, I munched on some Xochitl all-natural tortilla chips and some salsa.

Later on we bagged and vacuum-sealed some peppers and onions that my dad picked from the farm to freeze and eat later. I was thinking stir-fry, but I guess since they're going to be frozen they'll end up in quiche or pasta sauce later.

For dinner, my dad and I made our own spaghetti with freshly ground flour, and cut out the noodles using a spaghetti press/grinder/thing that turned out perfectly sliced spaghetti noodles. Some of them stuck together in the pan, which is why they look so thick, but the taste was absolutely amazing and the whole process was simple enough for two people to do in half an hour! We made a quick sauce with diced tomatoes, onions, peppers, and some spices, and then threw in some lean turkey sausage. It was such a good dinner and really filling! I even could have gone without the turkey sausage and substituted in a side salad to make it vegetarian.

After dinner we went for a painfully slow walk with my dog, who needs to stop and sniff everything. Note to self: walking at one mile an hour, stop and go, for twenty minutes does NOT count as exercise. I'll need to start walking on my own if I plan on breaking a sweat. I swear, even the mosquitoes were moving faster than us.

For dessert we had homemade banana-applesauce muffins (which I baked this afternoon - expect a recipe coming soon!) and I tried a bit of some all-natural baklava. It was surprisingly good, although very sweet. I much preferred the muffin.

Now it's only 9 o'clock and I'm so tired I think I may just go to bed. I have a big day planned tomorrow, so I'll be needing some more sleep that I've gotten the last two nights for sure.

Home again, home again.

Wow. I'm still kind of shocked. After being away from my home and my parents for more than two full months, to finally be home and sleeping in my bed and having family dinner again is wild.

Yesterday was my last day with my aunt and uncle. Friday night we weighed my luggage (which weighed in at 75 lbs - just a tad too heavy! Whoops!) and did a lot of last minute rearranging so that I could get through security all right. We went for our last evening walk and had our last ice cream sandwiches and watched our last bit of TV. It was a really nice evening that we got to spend together, and I'm sure we'll be doing it again sometime, but for now it feels like an ending.

Yesterday we were up bright and early (and by that I mean BEFORE the sun...ugh, reminds me that school is coming). After a  night of little to no sleep, I slept the entire three hour drive to San Antonio and woke up feeling much more refreshed. We hauled my bags off to the baggage claim and then just stood around outside security, not knowing what to say but not wanting to say goodbye. Eventually we shared some tearful hugs and I headed off to security all by myself.

It was my first time flying alone. Scary, right? I got through security fine, even with my backpack stuffed to the gills and my "personal item" (aka carry-on number two) practically spilling over with all my crap. I had to do some quick rearranging when we finally boarded because my backpack wouldn't fit under the seat OR in the over-head compartment. Is it just me or are planes getting smaller and smaller?

Unfortunately I didn't manage to take any pictures, but our ascent was amazing. I have flown a few times before with friends and family, but I always forget how breathtaking it is to be at the same level as the clouds and see how smooth they are underneath and then how chaotic and fluffy they can be on top. It was quite a site and for most of the flight I just sat, completely breath-taken, staring at the clouds.

I had a 50 minute layover in Detroit, which was uneventful. I ate some of the blueberry muffin that had gotten squished in my bag, and talked to my parents for quite awhile. Finally it was time for the last leg of the flight! It was a short one - only about an hour and a half from Detroit to Manchester, and luckily I  was seated next to a cute Asian boy about my age to keep things interesting (although he did sleep the whole way...shows how good company I am). Before I knew it the day was over and I was ready to see my parents!!!

Although they weren't there. Seriously. I got off the plane, a huge smile on my face, ready to run into their waiting arms...and they were nowhere in sight. So I called my mom. Here's how that conversation went:

Mom: What?
Me: Mom? Uh...yeah, we just landed. Where the heck are you?
Mom: I'm - oops - I'm in the bathroom - I'm about to pee myself okay callmebacklaterbye.

My mother is crazy. I waited, practically in hysterics, until I saw her come rushing out of the bathroom towards the baggage claim, afraid she missed me or something. Anyways, we hugged and laughed and brought my stuff out to where my dad was waiting in the parking lot, at which point there were more hugs. Because all of use were starving we went out to dinner at Bugaboo Creek, which is by far the most classically woodsy-type restaurant ever. We're talking singing moose heads and stuffed fish on the walls. I mean this place just screamed "hick town". Ohhh New Hampshire...gotta love it.

By the time we got home it was nearly midnight, which wouldn't have seemed so late if I wasn't running on two hours of sleep in the last 24 hours. My dog (who looked so tiny and fat and potato-shaped compared to the lean, mean, fighting machine basenji that I was used to seeing) was so excited to see me, which was pretty endearing - even though he's already over that and back to ignoring me. I can't even describe to you how nice it felt coming home. Everything seemed cuter and more quaint and warmer and safer and I just wanted to lie down in my (uncomfortable) bed and never leave.

Looking back, I can say that this summer was the most life-changing summers I've ever had. While the internship at my aunt's private practice was great, it was nothing compared to the experience I got living with her. By being away from home and the protection of my parents, I was able to become more independent. By not having anyone to tell me what I should and shouldn't do, I became more responsible. By always trying to be on my best behavior, I became more mature and polite. By being surrounded by such loving and happy people, I became more loving and happy. By being away from home and the people I love, I became more grateful for what I have. I know that I benefitted from this experience in more ways than I can even imagine right now, but I can say this: I wouldn't change a thing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

That post where I say "plan" a lot.

I have a plan.

I make plans a lot. It's kind of a thing with me (see my previous rant on Personality Types). I make plans to read three chapters now, and then go swimming for half an hour. I make plans to buy three pairs of jeans and a handful of shirts when I go shopping next week. I make plans to do homework for half of my subjects now and the other half during study hall. Point is: I just like making plans. It keeps me organized.

So anyways, right now I have made a plan. This is kind of a big one. I've been planning it for weeks actually, and it's not just a plan, it's a lifestyle change. My plan is to be healthy.

Okay so maybe that's a little vague, and don't all the professionals say that vague goals never get accomplished? Well yeah, of course they don't because we don't know where to start. That's why this 'plan' isn't just a plan, it's a lifestyle change.

I'm not exactly the healthiest person. I spend too much time watching television on the couch and I eat too much dessert and not enough vegetables and I don't get the recommended thirty minutes of exercise a day and just overall I don't feel very 'in-shape'. I mean, it's never really been a huge problem because my metabolism rocks and I'm still pretty thin and I can do the basic daily activities like walking home from the bus stop or climbing three flights of stairs without getting winded, but that's not exactly 'healthy', is it? Answer: NO.

Just because I am surviving, doesn't mean I'm thriving. I wanna thrive. I like the idea of being the best I can be.

A few weeks ago I was at a loss for what to do while on the internet so I started clicking on things and searching for stuff and I don't really remember how but I ended up reading some articles on nutrition and weight loss and eventually I found this program on called a Calorie Tracker (My Plate). The premise was that you entered in the foods you ate and how much of them, and it would spit out your daily calorie consumption, as well as some other facts like how much fat, carbs, sodium, fiber, protein, what have you's.

The first few days I was eating almost 2,000 calories a day (which is apparently the recommended daily calorie intake, but honestly for someone my size to have that much I would be gaining three pounds a week at least). Not only was I aware of that, but I was eating some pretty startling things! Did you know that just two Ball Park hotdogs have over 1340 mg of sodium? That's more than half of the recommended daily allowance! One slice of cheesecake has more than 42 grams of fat. That's gross.

Suddenly I was looking at the things I ate with a new light. A bagel with cream cheese for breakfast wasn't as healthy as I thought. Eggs were packed full of cholesterol and I wasn't getting nearly enough protein. Just eating two Oreos for dessert was still nowhere near as healthy as a fruit salad. These were all things that I knew in the back of my mind, but having them all put in black and white was kind of scary. I mean, I wasn't eating McDonalds for every meal, but where were the fruits and veggies?

Thus began my journey into the world of nutrition. Logging meals led to nutritional facts which led to healthy-eating blogs and the big, delicious world of organic foods. I watched TEDTalks on the amount of sugar that companies put in things where sugar doesn't belong, like milk and packaged fruits. I learned what quinoa was, and then learned how to pronounce it. And then I started talking to my parents about this, and it turns out the health-food bug had bit them too, even though they were halfway across the country (great minds think alike). Suddenly, this desire to eat well was a family thing.

Now I am here with my aunt and uncle, and although I can't exactly start my "all-natural all the time" diet that I want, I'm eating fruits and vegetables and Greek yogurt (and still the occasional slice of cheesecake) and I feel good. I haven't felt bloated and lazy and I was actually able to sit through reading 100 pages of the worst summer reading book ever without falling asleep. Best part is, this isn't even part of the plan.

The plan starts on Sunday, which is my first full day back in good 'ole New Hampshire. Basically the plan is as follows:

  • Eating all-natural, mostly organic foods. I know how apples get sprayed with nasty chemicals and corn gets injected with the leftover experiments of high school chemistry students and let me just say I hated chemistry class and I don't want any of those toxic gene-altering chemicals in my body, thank you very much.
  • Being a weekday veg. Graham Hill outlined in this TEDTalk why he is a weekday veg and honestly, it sounds like a good idea to me. It's been proven that eating all these red meats and animal fats increases our risk of developing cardiovascular disease and heart disease and all these other bad things by...a very large amount, basically. (There are actually statistics here.)
  • No soda. We know soda is packed full of sugar. We know soda is acidic in nature and eats away at our esophagus and stomach. We know it has high fructose corn syrup and it can cause diabetes. So, why do we still drink it? I haven't had soda in over a month, and coming from a regular ginger ale drinker, this is huge. I plan to keep up this streak. (This also applies to sugary fruit juices and pretty much anything fizzy.)
  • Cow's milk is out. Our bodies are not designed to digest lactose, but because of our completely Americanized diet, they have. I mean, I could go into another huge rant about milk production and pasteurization here, but I'll keep it short. The way milk is made and processed is gross. Substitutes: almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, soy milk, etc. Greek yogurt and unpasteurized cheese are still on the menu, though. (Also, I am trying to figure out what to do about butter...)
  • Physical activity, of course. The CDC recommends 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity a week for basic health benefits. For even greater health benefits, they recommend 5 hours a week. This is as simple as 20-50 minutes a day, and these activities include swimming, riding a bike, or talking a walk. It's seriously that easy. The CDC also suggests muscle strength training at least two days a week that works all major muscle groups. Guess what counts as muscle strength training? That's right, yoga. 

I guess in a nutshell, there's my plan. Overall health and wellness - woot woot! I know that at first it won't be easy and I will probably be craving some serious chocolate and ice cream within a week, but I'm more determined about this than I was about getting a 4 on my AP Psych exam (which is to say, pretty freaking determined). They say it helps to visualize your goal, right? Well I can just see myself drinking green smoothies on the way to school, driving right past that pink and orange Dunkin Donuts with the delicious blueberry muffins and sweet iced tea....

Just kidding. ;)

What to expect: I plan on using this blog not only as motivation, but as a recipe book. Plan on seeing amazing pictures of me and my mom's delicious concoctions, as well as links to my favorite recipes. I'm going to let this be the chronicle of my journey towards a healthier lifestyle!

Personality Types and Traits

I'm a Type A personality. It comes with being a capricorn. Although truthfully, that's not right. I'm not strictly a Type A, because Wikipedia offers some pretty helpful descriptions of A versus B personality types and I'm not so black and white.

Type A

The theory describes a Type A individual as ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status conscious, can be sensitive, care for other people, are truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving "workaholics" who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.
In his 1996 book, Type A Behavior: Its Diagnosis and TreatmentFriedman suggests that Type A behavior is expressed in three major symptoms: free-floating hostility, which can be triggered by even minor incidents; time urgency and impatience, which causes irritation and exasperation usually described as being "short-fused"; and a competitive drive, which causes stress and an achievement-driven mentality. The first of these symptoms is believed to be covert and therefore less observable, while the other two are more overt.[5]

[edit]Type B

The theory describes Type B individuals as a contrast to those with Type A personalities. People with Type B personality by definition generally live at a lower stress level and typically: work steadily, enjoying achievements but not becoming stressed when they are not achieved. When faced with competition, they do not mind losing and either enjoy the game or back down. They may be creative and enjoy exploring ideas and concepts. They are often reflective, thinking about the outer and inner worlds. May have a poor sense of time schedule, Can be predominately right brained thinkers

Granted, most people are not so exactly defined. In terms of personality traits, very few people are either 100% this or 100% that. I identify with some parts of being Type A (mostly those parts recognized in the first paragraph); I am ambitious, organized, sensitive, truthful, impatient...basically everything listed in that first section. Although the second paragraph (which sounds rather rude and scathing to me) doesn't apply to me all that much. I'm not filled with "free-floating hostility" or an overly "competitive drive". In fact, I'm not very competitive at all.

I also identify with many parts of being a Type B; I'm creative and reflective, I enjoy achievements, and I don't mind losing or backing down. I have a carefree attitude about many things that aren't school-related, as well as some that are. I like relaxing, spending time on my own, going out and enjoying nature...things that are low in stress. The idea that these two personality types are so black and white, cut and dry, one or the other - that doesn't sit right with me.

These two categories are so broad and hold so many individual traits that finding someone who is truly a Type A and fills every requirement on the extensive checklist must be near impossible. I mean, I guess I can see it being approached as a psychological diagnosis, like the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (a checklist of various characteristics to determine if an individual is a psychopath). If you fit 'x' number of traits under the Type A category, then you can be put under that classification. Although wouldn't it make more sense to have Type A traits and Type B traits? Example: Type A traits include punctuality, organization, ambition, impatience, etc.

I don't know what the point of this rant was. I guess it was to say that people can be described, but not defined. They can be introverted, studious, punctual, fun-loving, and witty...but to pick a bunch of traits and suddenly make it a type? People aren't so black and white. Take love, for instance. Most of us have ideas of characteristics we want in a partner (tall, knowledgeable, music-lover, adventurous...), but to limit our interests to a specific 'type'? That's just dumb.

Monday, August 20, 2012

San Antonio and TED Talks

I'm approaching this blog post with very little idea of what I want to talk about. Why don't we just begin with me? (as always...)

Yesterday was an absolutely fabulous day. My aunt and uncle took me up to San Antonio which is about a three hour drive from their house. (Of course I put on some music and instantly fell asleep). The city itself is very beautiful, kind of like a Southern version of Boston (well, that was the only other city I could compare it too - my city experience is limited).

We went to visit the Alamo first, which was basically a few old buildings and a nature park enclosed by a big stone wall. I wasn't much into the history myself, but the park reminded me a lot of Savannah, Georgia - the big trees, the hanging branches, the fountains. We also went into the Alamo gift shop and I got my parents some authentic all-natural Texan fire-roasted salsa! After that, we took a stroll down the River Walk.

The River Walk was absolutely incredible. Basically, it's a river running through a lower section of the city surrounded by sidewalks and a million different riverside restaurants and caf├ęs, and all-in-all it's a huge tourist attraction. I have pictures. But they're on my iPod and I don't know the easiest way to get them on here and I'm too lazy to find out so....

Since the most exciting thing about going somewhere new is the food (obviously), for lunch we went to a tiny Italian bistro and I may have eaten half of a 12" pepperoni pizza and then proceeded to feel ridiculously guilty...maybe. I consoled myself by going to Haagen Dazs and getting some mango sorbet and strawberry cheesecake ice cream. Delicious.

After all of that social interaction and association with the public, my introverted self was exhausted and grumpy and not in the mood to deal with anyone so holed up in my room and watched Jamie Oliver discuss childhood nutrition on TED Talks. (For those who don't know what TED Talks are - in summary they are short discussions given by professionals/smart people about a specific topic - more info here.) I have been diving deep into the world of organic food and nutrition this past summer (a post on that is soon to come) and his talk was amazing. He demonstrated the amount of sugar that children get just in the five years while they are in elementary school - let me tell you, this was disgusting (and it didn't help that I was eating some dark chocolate English toffee from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory either...).

But listening to just twenty minutes of Jamie Oliver ranting in his *ahem* adorable English accent about childhood obesity taught me so much, and I've decided that it's going to be one of my goals to listen to as many TED Talks as possible (originally my goal was to listen to all of them...but there are over a thousand and that doesn't really sit well with my other goal of watching less television, no matter how educational they are). So yeah, let's add that to the list, shall we?

Now, after a day of some rather poor food choices yesterday, I'm back on track with Multigrain Cheerios for breakfast and a turkey, lettuce, and cheese wrap for lunch. Okay, okay, not exactly "healthy" but still - the best I can do given the circumstances.