Croatia 2015 — Zadar | Ugljan

My sister went back home a couple of days ago, but while she was here, we managed to sneak in a 2 day trip down to Croatia to jump in the ocean and enjoy a little bit of salt and sunshine. Her trip as a whole did not go as planned. Once we found the kitten, whose name is Loki by the way, we were sort of locked into watching him and regularly giving him medicine, which prevented us from doing all the things I had planned. Of course, we were more than happy to stay at home and take care of the little guy, but when Loki's eye took a turn for the worse and his energy and appetite plummeted, the vet thought it would be best for him to stay there a few days. We were grateful for the break and given the fact that Kenza was flying out of Zagreb anyway in just a few days, we just spontaneously packed the car and hit the road! Some very nice people let us stay in their summer house, because last minute booking in Croatia in August is next to impossible. (Thank you for that, kind friends!)

Since we were staying near Zadar, we thought it would be fun one day to hop on the car ferry and check out an island nearby. We set off early Saturday morning to Ugljan island after some quick researching, with donuts in hand. We drank good coffee on the ferry out of actual coffee cups and Odin was a dream and so well behaved — I was so proud! All that training really paid off! Once we got to the island we explored looking for little hidden beaches and swimming areas that allowed dogs, which proved to be more difficult than we had expected (there are no dog signs EVERYWHERE). But in the end the journey always ends up being the part you remember, even the part where we hiked over sharp rocks in flip flops in 100 degree heat for 45 minutes to find a secret cove which ended up being basically a garbage pile and an abandoned fire station. 

After a good lunch in Preko to lift our spirits and a couple of cold, cold beers, we rented a peddle boat and just took off with Odin on board. It was hilarious and so much fun to see our wet dog walking around the little boat. We swam around a little, snapped some pictures, and headed back to the car ferry. That night we had big plans to go out, but after another beer and a pretty great lightning storm that we watched from a bar on the beach in Zadar we got sleepy and decided to go to bed (we're all getting old, even my 20 year old sister, and let's face it, going out sucks). The next morning we hit the road again and sat in a gnarly storm and some horrible traffic before saying goodbye to Kenza. I miss her so much already. :(

Even though it was quick and not the most well planned of vacations, it was fun and spontaneous and hilarious and I don't think any of us will forget Odin's unique swimming technique or how he sprinted straight into the ocean as soon as he saw it! And now, here are a lot of pictures...

This is the first beach we stopped at, and the water was too perfect to pass up. And even though there was a no dog sign nearby, Odin didn't seem to care and ran straight in. Also, can we just talk about that last picture for a minute? Hello, how is that my life? How is that my husband? How are those my boys? Ugh, it's too good.

We stopped for a really GREAT lunch in Preko — the food was so, so good — to lift our spirits after finding a million no dog signs on every single beach. Preko is a very cute little town on Ugljan and I highly, highly recommend checking it out and eating at Roko. 

A few snaps from our peddle boat, including a very soggy and salty pup. This was so much fun. I jumped off at one point and Odin almost lost his mind trying to figure out a way to save me. In the end he just ran around the boat trying to get Damir's attention and trying to work up the courage to jump in to save me himself, and then let out the saddest cry ever. Words cannot describe how much I love my dog. :D

By the way, we're back home now with little Loki, who has more energy than any creature I've ever seen. His eye is still not doing that well, but we're doing our best and hoping we can restore some amount of vision so he can have a better life. But we're in love with our newest little guy and we're committed to giving him the best life possible!

Five.

Here are five things that I feel like sharing from the past week...

It is apparently squash season here in our little piece of paradise. I'm still trying to come up with new ways to eat zucchini (it's never ending) but I'm pretty excited to add these other squash to the mix.

It also happens to be tomato season — Damir and I were nervous we wouldn't get any tomatoes this year, but man were we wrong, and man am I happy that we were wrong. They're so delicious and I harvest a basketful every morning. Which means that I need to get to canning for the winter ASAP!

In other garden news, it looks like we're going to have QUITE the pumpkin harvest this fall. And I am so excited for pies and pumpkin-beer chili and all kinds of things. Gosh life is bountiful and delicious here!

This handsome man managed to get his Olympic A cut in the 100 breaststroke and rank 5th in the world in the 50 breaststroke. It wasn't the best meet for him, but he's excited for the next year and so am I. I'm proud of him. I wish I was 5th best in the world at something!

And last but not least, if you follow me on instagram or happen to be friends with me on facebook, you're aware of the fact that a couple of days after Damir left for world championships, Kenza and I found the tiniest kitten sitting in the middle of a busy road, unable to see anything. He seemed unaware of where he was and when Kenza got out to see if he was ok/move him to a safer place, she saw that he was very emaciated, dehydrated, and really weak. His eyes were completely clogged with mucus and he could barely breathe, so she took him and thanks to a bunch of amazing people here, we were able to get him to a vet late at night who helped revive him. We've spent the last few days nursing him back to health — Kenza especially has been up every night with him, as I have Odin and we want to make sure Odin respects the kitty's space — but I'm happy to report he's doing much much better. He had an operation on his eyes yesterday to remove corneal ulcers. The prognosis looks good in one eye, but we're concerned about the other eye right now and whether or not the cornea will rupture in the next few days. His eyes are sutured shut right now to protect them and promote healing, which is sort of hard to watch, cause he's really the cutest thing ever. But we are very hopeful and very happy to have the little rascal in our lives. He's got a BIG personality, and I'm not sure what I got myself into, but I'm ready for it!! Oh and Odin is doing really well handling the sudden shift in attention. He's interested and cautious and gentle and doing his very best to accept this new addition to the family. Bring on more fur and feathered babies!! And real babies!! 

Snaps!

This little lady is here for a visit for a few weeks and I couldn't be happier to have her with me!! I just wish the weather would cooperate and give us a few sunny days to have some fun.

Harvesting dragon tongue beans and a tomato in my shirt — my preferred method when I forget a basket. We're in bean heaven these days.

Also zucchini heaven. And I WAS feeling overwhelmed about all of these suckers until I figured out the most amazing thing to do with them on the grill. I should share it here. Maybe I will.

It was so unreasonably hot and humid last week (and now it feels like winter) that I actually took advantage and laid outside while considering getting into odin's pool. Well I did. I did get in Odin's pool. 

I'm still running regularly and still loving it. So is Odin. 

First part of the onion harvest but damn this rain that is not letting them dry! 

We also harvested one third of our potato patch on a particularly hot and sunny day and are now enjoying homegrown potatoes on the regular.

We went to visit some friends at their weekend place a few weeks ago and they treated us to a lunch of freshly caught fish! 

Tea & Thoughts: Wellness

Since most of my friends are 9 hours behind me and I can't bother them right now with what's on my mind, I thought I'd use this blog of mine to get it off my chest. Because what else is it for if not that? And see, I even gave you a picture of a nice cup of tea, so get comfy...


One thing that I have felt particularly bombarded by recently is the idea of "wellness". There are wellness sections or tags on many blogs I read (including this one!), drugstores claim to promote wellness, people can become experts in wellness, and it almost feels as though if you're not actively pursuing wellness and all that it entails, then you're not doing something right. In fact, I've even read that 2015 has been dubbed "The Year of Wellness". Ok, that's great, but what does wellness actually mean? "Wellness is a state of optimal well-being that is oriented toward maximizing an individual’s potential. This is a life-long process of moving towards enhancing your physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental well-being" (source). Sounds valid and like something we should all be working on everyday of our life.

Except that the type of wellness I am feeling pressured to pursue by external sources is sort of different. According to instagram, tumblr, blogs, and TV, wellness means: photogenic smoothie bowls with 10,000 ingredients, top of the line exercise gear, perfect glowing skin, tight pilates bodies, nut milk and coconut water, ridiculously expensive non-toxic beauty finds, chia seeds, logging each and every meal in a journal, and the rare indulgent bite of pizza or bread, to keep things balanced you know. And all of that seems to fit into only one of the categories mentioned above — the physical element of well-being. But what about the other elements?

This might be an unpopular opinion but it seems to me that this is all just a new way to hyper focus once again on our looks, bodies, and social statuses without it coming off as shallow. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that it's trendy to eat nutritious food and consider what chemicals may be in the deodorant you use — that is all valid and important. What I don't like is the fact that we're still comparing ourselves to one another, only now it's about who eats the most quinoa and the least amount of baguettes, and who can take the prettiest picture of a pitaya smoothie bowl (what is that exactly? I admit I like the color). This is just a new form of targeted marketing designed to leave us feeling inadequate, yet again. 

If 2015 really is "The Year of Wellness", then we have to consider all of the elements described above, and then some. And what's more, I think the best practice would be to define each of those elements for ourselves and figure out how to realistically work each element into our lives, rather than subscribing to a premade photogenic yet often unattainable definition.

Here's where I put my money where my mouth is and define each of the above categories for myself and my own, unique set of circumstances:

PHYSICAL

Undeniably, being physically healthy is a very important element of what wellness means to me. When my body doesn't feel or move well, it's very hard for me to be happy. When I don't eat a balanced, nutritious, and delicious diet — either by indulging too much or not indulging enough — I can feel my physical energy start to shut down. The physical element of wellness for me means that my body is able to function properly, and do all the complicated work it needs to do to allow me to enjoy my life as much as I can. This requires exercise, good quality and good tasting food — including at least 2 pasta dinners a week, wine, bread, cheese, potatoes, which the internet keeps telling me are big no-nos — lots of water, regular stretching, and good sleep.

EMOTIONAL

My emotions are arguably the hardest area for me to manage. I have some pretty gnarly hormonal shifts every month that make me swing in every direction. It's exhausting to experience in my own head, and probably worse for people who have to deal with me. I have always been a big believer in letting myself be the emotionally charged person that I am and trying to work out why I feel the way I feel about things. If I'm sad, I let myself be sad, while trying to understand what is contributing to that sadness. But I struggle to allow myself to feel joy and express it. I think that just like suppressing joy and happiness can become a habit, expressing it can also become a habit. Emotional wellness in my life means owning my emotions, not letting them own me, and remembering that its important to let the world know when I'm happy. 
 

SPIRITUAL

My spiritual wellness takes active, focused, daily work. It requires effort, because it slips away from me too easily. Meditation, yoga, learning about other faiths, and being surrounded by nature are the ways I find my own spirituality. But then there are brief, passing moments where all it takes is a walk in the forest or a swim in salty ocean water to help me feel balanced spiritually. I find myself humbled by the wonders of the world and feel a bit more connected to our world and its natural rhythms. I'd like to be able to experience that more. 

INTELLECTUAL

This is an area that I've been neglecting for some time. It's not nearly as important to me as some of the other categories, but I can feel that there is something lacking in my life and I have a nagging feeling it has to do with this element. For me intellectual wellness means making sure that I am aware of what is going on in the world around me, keeping my mind sharp and active by always learning new things (i.e. taking random classes on Khan Academy), traveling and absorbing new sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and ideas, and diving in to learn as much as I can about the things that interest me, like sustainable agriculture, health and medicine.
 

SOCIAL

Social anxiety is another one of my major challenges in life. I've been dealing with this one since I was a little girl. I tend to build up a lot of resentment in social situations, and I am often annoyed with myself so I assume everybody else must be annoyed with me too. I also have a history of letting relationships turn sour often because I am not clear about my boundaries to begin with and I ultimately can't handle the resulting relationship. To practice social wellness, I am trying to be more generous with people and reserve my judgements and assumptions (a work in progress). I am trying to always make sure people feel comfortable around me while at the same time clearly defining my boundaries.


 


ENVIRONMENTAL

There is no doubt in my mind that my own well-being is very much connected to the well-being of my natural and social environment. The air I breathe, the water I drink, trees that surround me, the home I live in, the people I interact with — all of these things impact my own state of wellness directly. So I feel a responsibility to impact my own environment in a positive way, primarily by growing as much of my own food as I can. I also feel a responsibility to appreciate and admire my own environment and share its beauty with everyone I can.


The coolest thing about this exercise is that while I was writing all of these out, I realized that they all impact each other. Each element flows into all of the other ones, emphasizing the concept of a "holistic" lifestyle. My spirituality impacts my mood, which impacts my physical self, which turns around and impacts my mood again, which changes how I interact socially and in my environment and what I pursue intellectually, which turns right back around and impacts my spirituality.

So what I'm basically saying is, photogenic smoothie bowls and trendy Soul Cycle classes are good and healthy, but true wellness is a little more complex and dynamic than that. And it doesn't really matter if your version of wellness does or doesn't fit into the picture that's being thrown at all of us these days. We all need to define our own values and interests and be proud of them. 

Be well!


Thanks for looking at a picture of a cup of tea and reading my thoughts!

An Evening in Ljubljana

Last Wednesday, Damir and I got all dressed up and drove to Ljubljana to spend a nice evening celebrating Slovenian independence, or I have read that technically it's "statehood" day. See how the castle is all lit up in blue and red above? On the way down, we stopped at a great restaurant in a random town just off the freeway because we were starving. I snapped the handsome picture of my man below (right) and we enjoyed our first actual date in a long time. 

We watched a bit of the show, which I found to be unique and brilliant even though I didn't understand anything — the dialect up where we live is very different from other parts of Slovenia. Afterwards we treated ourselves to a glass of red wine because the evening was warm and balmy and the moment called for it (so going against my ramadan goals, but you know, I'm happy we have that memory now) and then an ice cream cone from the shop I spotted the last time we visited. I had a strawberry cheesecake dream concoction.

That city is a special one — at least what I've seen of it. It's immaculate, the food is great, and the architecture is spectacular. I will take any chance to go down and enjoy a bit of city life with my husband. I have more to share from another recent visit to Ljubljana, but I wanted to get these iphone snaps on my blog as soon as possible!