Photoblog: Cali, Colombia

A couple weeks ago, I escaped down south to visit my cousin in beautiful Cali, Colombia.

We spent the long weekend or puente (note: something I’ve learned about Colombia is that almost every weekend is a long weekend!) catching up after a long year of not seeing each other and enjoying the tropical climate of Cali.

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Between chatting poolside, exploring the flavors of Cali (like arepas filled with meat, plantains, cheese and topped with different salsas), salsa dancing (it’s the salsa capital of Colombia!) and cooking delicious brunches, I felt completely and utterly relaxed when I got back to Bogota.

My cousin’s house is a dream. It’s an open air house with a beautiful garden, full of every fruit tree you can imagine and the most beautiful birds in every color.

We cooked many meals from local ingredients and flavors (and when I say local, I mean like direct from her garden! Papaya, tomatoes, oranges, arepas, herbs!) 

Sunday I decided to show her how we do brunch in Boulder, Colorado: eggs and ham, chocolate-banana oatmeal pancakes, papaya and chia smoothes, coffee, mimosas with fresh squeezed OJ, and more!

What do you think? I think we did Boulder proud!

I could have stayed swinging in the hammock for the rest of my life.

Photoblog: Cali, Colombia

Learning to be Alone.

The title of this post sounds sad and lonely; but I promise you it’s not! In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s a reflection on finding peace and happiness in those moments of necessary solitude that we almost never allow ourselves.

A very wise friend/personal hero of mine has a philosophy he shared recently:

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I don’t think I could agree more with his philosophy. I realized recently that for the last 24 years, I’ve spent nearly all of my time with another person (parents, roommates, friends, boyfriends, etc) and have never really stepped back to take a good look at my reflection, completely alone and completely independent of anything/one else.

That’s what this whole move has been about for me. Spending time alone, with myself. I’m not a hermit. I still go out, meet new friends, visit with family; but I’m learning to appreciate the solitude in my new life here. The simple things like having breakfast in complete silence and being fully conscious and aware of where I am in that moment. Going on walks in my new neighborhood, spending an hour everyday writing or reading a book before bed. (All of which I did in my own life, but without the conscious effort of self reflection).

Last week I spent the 24 hours in meditation at an Ashram in nearby Villa de Lleyva. I’d never spent that much time alone in my own thoughts and it was interesting: I learned more about myself in that 24 hours than I may have in the last 24 years. It’s something about shutting off everything around you. All the noise, all the negativity, and the outside thoughts. You begin to hear yourself a little differently and you pay attention because you can’t hide from your thoughts without the outside noise.

I still have a lot of growing to do but I’m open to it. I know that learning to be alone is the best achievement so far.

(Ps- If you’d like to know more about the amazing work that BC does, check him out HERE! He’s truly a beautiful human being.)

Learning to be Alone.

Atma in Suesca, Colombia

Shortly after arriving in Colombia, I decided to spend a couple of days with my Aunt and her family at their farm in Suesca (about an hour and a half from the city). It’s a beautiful valley full of trails, rolling hills, and rock climbing. Plus, the silence of being aware from the city is refreshing.

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The farm is called Atma, which means “soul” in Hindi. It was fitting because I felt myself doing a lot of soul searching while I was there. (It was so peaceful and calm that it was impossible NOT to soul search!).

Their home is the epitome of farm to table. Much of their food is grown right there on the farm or milked from their cows, or baked in their kitchens. Lettuce, fruits, honey, eggs, cheese, ghee, bread… you name it, they probably make it.

One night, we made fresh cheese (with milk from their cows) with home grown lavender, freshly baked bread, and honey they cultivate from their Africanized beehives. It was a simple and beautiful dinner, made even more beautiful by the fact that it was made at home with lots of love. #appreciate

My days were spent riding, hiking, meditating, doing yoga, or hanging out with my cousins in a beautiful place.

Isn’t that a spectacular sunset? How do you get away?

Atma in Suesca, Colombia

Brunch with Friends.

One of the things I miss most about life in the US/life in Boulder are weekend brunches with friends.

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One of the highlights of my week was gathering around a table (whether at home or in a restaurant) with everyone and laughing and sharing stories about our week or the night before. Mimosas flow like water and heaping plates of bacon and pancakes are passed around to try.

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In the last few weeks I was in Colorado, The weather was beautiful and we had taken to making a “family brunch” together at least once a month. On my last Saturday in the Rockies, all my closest friends stopped by with champagne and a side dish in hand to help me celebrate with my favorite meal of the week!

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I made my version of a crustless quiche (pretty much a frittata) with herbs de provence, mushrooms, spinach, and gruyere. On the side we had herbed biscuits, potato and pepper hash, candied bacon, and baked brie with marmalade.

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The boys smoked cigars and the music played all afternoon while we drank bottle after bottle of champagne. It was a very perfect, very special day spent with my loved ones under beautiful Colorado skies.

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Until the next family brunch guys! Cheers and Thank you again for my send off! <3

Brunch with Friends.

Family Easter

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Hanging out with the cutie Santi. He’s getting so old, so fast!
Arrived to my dad's house one morning to find my grandpa making bloody mary's from scratch. Fresh squeezed tomatoes are key!
Arrived to my dad’s house one morning to find my grandpa making bloody mary’s from scratch. Fresh squeezed tomatoes are key!

I realized I never shared some photos I snapped from Easter Sunday a few weeks back!

In my family, food is what unites us. Whether it’s preparing it all together or sitting around a table for dinner has always been emphasized. No phones, no TVs, just pure conversation, sometimes debate, and always good food.

This year, my family spent Easter a bit scattered (Aaron in Colorado, Mateo and my dad in Scotland) and Santi with his mom, and aunts and uncles off doing their own thing. I spent the day with my grandma and my mom, having a relaxing Easter together in the backyard with great music, champagne, and food. Wanting to take advantage of a brand new, state of the art kitchen, I put myself in charge of Easter dinner!

Springtime cooking is my favorite! It’s a little bit lighter and fresher than the heavy, comfort foods of winter but still have the ability to warm you from the inside out.

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After Mass, I started us off with a light brunch: Lemon Ricotta and Avocado Toast (on rosemary country bread), topped with cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes.

Avocado Toast is trendy AND delicious ;)

My recipe is super simple!

  • 1/2 lemon (zested and squeezed)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta (whole or part skim milk)
  • 1 very ripe, large avocado
  • 1 quarter cucumber peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup heirloom toms, halved
  • salt and pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • crusty bread, sliced and toasted

Grate the zest of half a lemon into about 1/2 cup ricotta. I accidentally bought whole milk, but part skim works well. In a separate bowl, roughly chop/smash your avocado with a little salt and pepper. Try to keep it a bit chunky, rather than smooth guacamole-style. Lightly fold lemon juice in (again, not too much as to prevent it from becoming too smooth).

On toasted slices of bread, spread a layer of ricotta and then spoon on a heavy layer of avocado (the more the better, trust me!). Sprinkle with more salt and pepper and chili flakes. Top with cukes and toms. Enjoy!

It’s seriously the perfect snack, light lunch, or brunch!

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After brunch, I got to work prepping for dinner. To stay with a springtime theme, I decided to make Mimi Thorisson’s Creme Fraiche Herb Roasted Chicken. However, instead of creme fraiche, I used non-fat Greek yogurt and all the fresh herbs my mom had in the garden (rosemary, thyme, parsley, and sage), and stuffed it with carrots, onion, lemon, and garlic.

On the side, we prepared prosciutto wrapped asparagus (drizzled with olive oil, salt, herbs, and lemon) and a beautiful Citrus Salad (butter lettuce, cara cara oranges, grapefruit, blue cheese, and hard boiled egg).

We finished our amazing meal with one of the most insane cakes I have ever had the pleasure of eating/making: Wild Blueberry and Ricotta cake. It is TOO. DIE. FOR. The perfect blend of light flavors and rich texture, it was moist and everything you want from a cake. I can’t recommend it enough. Make it for tea and coffee, or for a pot luck, or on a Monday night and enjoy it for breakfast every day for the rest of the week.

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I found the recipe on Bon Appetite’s website, but replaced the raspberries for wild blueberries and, of course, dressed it in it’s best Easter hat.

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It was a delicious afternoon! How do you spend family dinners?

Family Easter

Hungry and Alone: Dinner for One.

Living alone is definitely much different than not living alone.

Not only are most of your hours spent alone (until, of course, you begin to make friends)… but I never realized how much my food schedule revolved around someone else’s. My usual routine is to head to the store once a week for basics (eggs, cheese, bread, fruit, coffee and almond milk) and then, depending on what was decided about dinner, we would go to the store or order in daily. Breakfast was toast and coffee and lunch was always some variation of basics or leftovers.

Now that dinner is a one-woman-show, I find myself not really needing it. Or wanting it. Since I moved in alone, I’ve been sustaining myself on coffee, arepas (a kind of Colombian corn tortilla) and queso campesino (every day cheese)…. until last night.

I realized last night (Saturday) at about 11pm that I was utterly and completely starving! Picking at this and that like a pigeon had finally caught up to me. My instinct was to go to the fridge, but I knew the contents would likely disappoint: you can only eat so much cheese and arepa. Then I reached for my phone to order take out… Quickly realized I didn’t know of any local places who delivered after 11 pm.

I subdued my appetite with a little wine and Danish cookies, however this morning pangs of hunger reminded me that I should eat properly again. Didn’t you notice a lack of foodie photos on my Instagram this week!?

I spent a lazy Sunday morning drinking coffee and eating papaya on the porch, (again, serious appetite suppressants) but when 4pm called, I decided to raid my fridge of the last random bits and ends for a proper meal.

After tossing last weeks carpaccio and some chicken, I decided to sauté up everything else that was left: Arugula, garlic and rosemary, capers, and some iberico cheese in a little white wine. I topped that with 2 over medium eggs and called it a day.

Not too shabby for an impromptu kitchen fridge clean out!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetI’m not going to lie: Living alone is difficult.

Hungry and Alone: Dinner for One.

One Way Ticket: Bogota.

Early Sunday morning (like 2 am early…) I was packing and repacking my two suitcases to make sure neither was over 50 lbs (proven difficult with a wishy-washy scale). It’s a really interesting job trying to condense your life into a couple suitcases and a carry on; what makes the cut to travel with you? What stays behind? Should I take these books or this purse? It’s kind of liberating, but also really frustrating because WHAT IF you decide to go to that 70s themed party and those Lita’s you left behind would have worked perfectly with the flared pants you don’t yet own?

Somehow I figured it out and left a few pairs of shoes behind (yes, the Litas), packed the books in my overweight carry on and I was off to the airport. I’m not sure if it was the pressure and emotion of knowing I was leaving the U.S. without finite plans to return but this was hands down the most grueling travel experience I’d ever had. As it was, I was running on 3 hours of sleep from Friday night (woohoo Korean Karaoke!!) so my exhaustion level was up there and then I had an EIGHT HOUR layover in Dallas.

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Thank god for the Admirals Lounge. I spent the day comfortably napping, showering, drinking vino, and watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

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When the last leg of my flight landed in Aeropuerto Eldorado in Bogota and I went through immigration, it was 1 am and I had been traveling for nearly 24 hours! A proper bed was a welcome sight.

Monday morning I headed to the grocery store after lunch and explored a little. I’ve been in many a Colombian grocery, but this time I made a point to become familiar with it. The mountains of tropical fruits and veggies is remarkable! Many of them you can’t find in the states, and the eggs are in the dry goods section, next to the flour and corn meal. I’m already researching some local dishes to recreate!

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Eggs in the dry goods aisle!
Eggs in the dry goods aisle!

I’m not going to lie, I haven’t done much in my first few days here except visit with lots of family but that’s because I’ve been SO sick!

My cutie cousin Sofia.
My cutie cousin Sofia.

I’m a big time believer in your body moving and expelling energies depending on your state of mind and physicality, and the emotional toll that such a move and change like this takes manifests itself physically through fevers and sweating. Maybe I’m shedding my old life?

Or maybe I just have a bit of altitude sickness? Either way, getting sick when living alone SUCKS. I remember I got sick one of my first weekends in the dorms back at CU and it was awful! All I wanted was my mommy, but I was 18 and I had to woman up/ask my roommates to maybe bring me a snack from the dining hall. This is my first time living completely alone and there is no mommy OR roommates to ask for help… or dining hall for that matter.

Note to self: Always pack a thermometer and some cold medicine. 

In my new apartment!
In my new apartment!
Carpaccio made with my grandpa and enjoyed with a bottle of Finca Las Moras Black Label 2012 Malbec.
Carpaccio made with my grandpa and enjoyed with a bottle of Finca Las Moras Black Label 2012 Malbec.

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One Way Ticket: Bogota.