Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Upcoming Travel & Early Morning Yoga

I'm at work late for a meeting tonight, so here's my first post from my classroom! I'm excited to get home, though, because tonight we're planning out some travel for winter and spring.

It's our first Christmas as a married couple, and we agreed to spend it just the two of us. Then we thought we'd take it a step further and use Christmas to travel, since we have eleven full days off together. So now it's a matter of where to go...

I'm signed up for approximately 32 distinct travel websites and receive something like 18 travel deals each day. So for the last few weeks I've been searching for the perfect deal. We would love to return to Europe, where we spent our honeymoon in July, but perhaps some new cities, like Munich or Paris. Can you imagine Christmas in Europe? How gorgeous and romantic! We hope we can work something out, even though prices can be high during the holidays.

Our next trip, which we have actually planned, will be our first real vacation with friends. We're taking a cruise in the spring (Spring Break, woo hoo!) to the Caribbean! We'll be sailing on Norwegian Cruise Line's Epic, a huge ship that sounds like a blast to explore. I haven't sailed NCL yet, but we've done Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival, so I look forward to comparing our experience. Our ports of call include St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and the Bahamas, plus a few days at sea. Tonight we're working on booking our flights to Florida, and I'm hoping for Virgin America. We've flown with them a few times, and they really set the standard in terms of atmosphere and service for domestic flights. Plus, you can't beat their prices!

Early Morning Yoga
This morning I woke up early to squeeze in a workout before school. 5:00 might be normal for some, but my body was not happy. I tried to go to sleep at 10, which turned into 10:30, and I couldn't fall asleep until closer to 11. I was hoping our cable would still be out, but alas, I was able to access our OnDemand Exercise TV channel. Damn.

So, coffee table pushed aside and yoga mat laid out, I suffered through some morning power yoga. Scout loves watching me do yoga and occasionally "pounces" on my ponytail when I'm upside down. It's pretty adorable and a great distraction from my tired arms. The workout was a new one, under "Yoga Bootcamp" if you have OnDemand. These types of workouts can be hit or miss, depending on the instructors. I've found a few I love, especially Tandy Gutierrez and Elise Gulan, so they're a guaranteed great workout. I also recently got into the Butt Bible, which is killer for not just your glutes and legs but also your upper body. I like videos because they get me through my strength training fairly quickly, and I haven't yet found a yoga class I love in West LA.

Tonight we're making a whole chicken, which is currently cooking in our crock pot. I simply combine equal parts (about a teaspoon each) of cumin, black pepper, salt, paprika, garlic powder, parsley, and oregano, and rub it all over the chicken. Stick it in the crock pot and turn it on. Usually, we cook it on high for 3-4 hours, but today we're attempting to leave it alone all day (our crock pot has a timer that stops the cooking at a certain point, so we cooked it on low and set it for 7 hours). Hopefully it turns out well! Pictures and a review to come!

Whole Chicken
The complete meal: chicken, steamed broccoli, cottage cheese, and applesauce.

  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 whole chicken
*Special equipment: Crock pot

Combine all spices, then rub the spice mixture all over the chicken. Place the chicken, breast side down, in the crock pot. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 8-9 hours (you can check your crock pot's recommended cooking times based on the chicken size). To check if the chicken is done, use a sharp knife to make a small incision between the leg and body. If the juices run clear, your chicken is ready!

Crock Pot Chicken Broth
It's so easy you'll never buy chicken broth again! After you make your crock pot chicken and pull all the meat off the bones, throw the carcass back into the crock pot and add 10 cups of water. Leave the crock pot on low overnight, about 8 hours. Strain the broth, and viola! You have homemade broth!

I'm sure I could have spiced things up (forgive the pun) with bunches of fresh parsley, basil, or other fresh herbs. I also could have added some vegetables, like onions, celery, or carrots, to boost the flavor. But even at its most basic, this broth freezes wonderfully and can be used as a base for any recipe that calls for chicken broth. Enjoy!


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