When in…..

When in

Seoul, South Korea and Lizards

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul the capital of South Korea is a city my husband has visited many times, including this past August. He enjoys the culture, temples and especially the food in South Korea. Fun fact….Did you know that Seoul is the home of fried chicken and barbecue??? Who would of thought!! This was right up my husbands alley and now I see why he visits so often. While there he visited the Coex Centre in the Gangnam district, home to Asia’s biggest underground shopping mall complete with casino, kimchi museum and traditional Buddhist temple. While there, he also visited the Joseon Royal Tombs, Garden of the Gods that has the tombs of the Joseon dyanasty. The Joseon dynastry lasted for 519 years and produced 27 kings! And if you like the Olympics check out the Jamsil Olympic Stadium aka the Seoul Olympic Stadium home to the 1988 Olympics. But it not just and Olympic stadium, it also served as the stadium for the 10th Asian Games in 1986, music concerts, and the centerpiece for Seoul sports.

Here at home, we were sorta settling into the 3rd week of school. School starts in August in the South so we were trying to get our school groove back from footloose and fancy free over the summer. And of course this was the week that all the after-school activities started, tons of paperwork for fundraisers and events for the year were being sent home and the parents opportunity to visit with your child’s teacher to review the curriculum for the school year. After a week full of activities, I was FINALLY getting a chance to stop, catch my breath and absorb all the info I had received ……or so I thought. It was Thursday evening, the house was quiet and was about to settle into bed when I saw it….a shadow cast from my nightstand lamp on the wall. At first, I thought it was my eyes playing tricks on me from sheer tiredness and having filled out tons of school forms. But no. There was clearly a shadow on the wall. But it wasn’t just any shadow….it was a small shadow with legs….4 legs to be exact. Due to the position of the shadows, whatever it was was closer to me than I thought. Completely frozen, I finally found the courage to turn my head to see what was there……a LIZARD!!!! Let’s be honest…..yes, I squealed and yes I jumped out of bed to the other side of the room. Considering where I live you would think I would be accustomed to this sort of thing but alas, I’m not. It starred at me and I starred at it. I have no idea how it got into our bedroom but didn’t have time to process the logistics. And then to my horror it scurried behind our bed. Ugh!!! At that point I had to think quickly assess the situation-my husband was on the other side world, I was NOT going to bed with the lizard in our room, it’s night time and my kids are fast asleep so we can’t leave. I knew at that point it was him or me! Thus began the hunt to find the lizard, which happened to blend in with everything. By the time I found it I had……moved 2 nightstands, flipped the mattress and box spring to vertical positions, knocked over a plant, etc. Chaos has ensued trying to find the lizard that our room looked like a tornado hit it. Once I finally found the lizard, I trapped him in a cup and put him outside (it took a TON of courage). I did call my husband and explain what I had just encountered….which was met with a ton of laughter (yes, he laughed at my pain). Nonetheless……I survived.

Our bedroom…surviving chaos

Here are you surviving chaos tips:

  • Bundle Paperwork: If deadlines permit, complete school paperwork all at one time and send them to school all at one time. This frees up your weeknights for other activities, keeps you organized, and sane.
  • Be Strong & of Courage: No matter what life throws or crawls at you, be brave!! Find your inner strength to conquer your fears (this applies to life in general, not just lizards).
  • Backup plan: If this had been a more dire situation….snake, tarantula, fire, etc have a plan to call someone for backup or leave the house. Always have a plan, you never know when you will need it.
  • Wine: This is self-explanatory.

Family, Surviving Chaos

Loving Abroad

Absence makes the heart grow fonder…

When my husband first started traveling, I thought I was prepared and would be comfortable while he was absent. The beginning trips were small, 2-3 days but as his achievements in career progressed, the business trips grew longer to 5 days and now 7 full days. When his role expanded to a global position, not only were the trips longer but we also had to coordinate the time difference, which really hindered phone calls. I thought I was prepared for this type of separation -I wasn’t. It was harder than I expected , sometimes more than I was able to handle and more than I wanted to deal with. So I needed to be creative…..how could stay connected while we were so far apart? So, I started putting cards with hand written notes in his suitcase. While he was busy working on logistics of his trip, I would go and hide them in his suitcase. I became an expert at finding good hiding places in his suitcase…..between shirts, inside shirt sleeves, in his toiletry bag, inside a pant leg, etc. The possibilities were endless! And these cards were not your run of the mill cards; I would specifically choose cards that were quirky, odd, funny, romantic or matched whatever was happening in our lives at that moment. He was so thrilled to receive a card and find it in the most unsuspecting places and when he was least expecting it. He would call me and tell me what part of his trip (or where he was in the world) when he found it and how he found the card, which was always the best part and the most hilarious! Thus started our tradition of writing cards to each other whenever one of us was traveling. He has kept every single card I have given him…..a whole drawer full (he travels a lot!) These cards gave me the opportunity to write all the things I hadn’t had time to say or the courage to say. To make up for missed opportunities. The idea of him reading a heartfelt note about what was on mind and on my heart brought me comfort over long distances and during the long separations.

Although I would write all kinds of things in his cards…appreciation, thanks, funny stories, etc, it wasn’t always about the content. It was more about receiving a personal note from a loved one, a small token of affection, or that I took the time during all the chaos to write something especially for him. If this note was going to be the last thing he would see or my last opportunity to say what was on my heart, why would I not take that opportunity? I encourage you to find ways to connect with spouse during travel times. What may seem like a small gesture or insignificant action makes a huge impact on someone else. It definitely gets us through the long trips and tougher parts of having a traveling spouse. How do you stay connected during times of travel?

When in

San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

What’s warm sunny and beautiful all over……Costa Rica!! Who doesn’t love sun and gorgeous sandy beaches? Costa Rica has plenty of beaches and so much more to offer. With year round warm weather (23.7 °C (74.7 °F), its the perfect spot for winter vacation, summer vacation or any vacation. But don’t forget your umbrella, especially from May to November which the “rainy season” or green season. It rains everyday, sometimes twice a day!

One of our favorite cities to visit is San Jose, Costa Rica – the capital and largest city in Costa Rica. With more than 1 million people passing through the city, there are lots of things to see and do while your there. From theatre to European architecture to museums there is something for everyone. The National Theatre of Costa Rica is sight to behold with its European architecture and lavish Italian furnishings inside. With plays showing several times a week, be sure to stop and enjoy the architecture. And don’t forget to check out the San Jose skyline featuring the San Jose Highlands. Made of towering volcanos to the north and mountains to the south, its a perfect view.

When your done sight-seeing, head to one of the many beaches in Costa Rica to soak up some sun. There are many private and public beaches to choose from which all offer scenic views. If your looking for something more secluded, hope on a catamaran or yacht to take you to private beach. Our favorite…the Calypso Cruises! The Manta Raya yacht will take you to Tortuga Island across the Gulf of Nicoya. Once on the island you can experience a guided tour, snorkeling, bar service, live music, food, etc. It’s all inclusive and definitely worth the trip. And to top it all off, you get first hand experience with the wildlife on the island. Pigs, parrots, hermit crabs, and like freely roam the island and love people. Don’t be surprised if they walk right up to you looking for a handout…..from your lunch!

Food, Surviving Chaos

Hearty Beef Stew

Beef Stew

For all those cold winter days, how about a beef stew to keep you warm. This recipe is easy to make, savory, hearty and easy to customize. Its super healthy because it is packed with lots of vegetables and its a family favorite all winter long. Bon Appetite!

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of beef for stewing (cut into 1 inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Carrots
  • 1/2 cup of Onion
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Celery
  • 1 cup of quartered Red Potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Onion Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Dried Parsley
  • 1 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 & 1/3 cup of water

Let’s Make It!

  1. Place meat and vegetables into Crock-pot
  2. Combine spices together in separate bowl then add to Crock-pot mixture
  3. Add 1 and 1/3 cup of water to Crock-pot
  4. Mix ingredients together and cover with lid
  5. Cook on LOW for 7 hours or HIGH for 4 hours

Surviving Chaos

  • Freeze It: Divide up your beef stew for easy freezing and you’ll have quick weeknight meals or lunch options
    • Beef stew can be stored for up to 3 months in the freezer
  • Use slow cooker liners in your Crock-Pot for easy clean up

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When in

Staying Healthy While Flying

Now that our travel season is underway, I figured this would be the perfect time to share our favorite tips on staying healthy while on the plane. As all travellers know, when your in the airport your focused on getting to (or running) to make your next connection, scouting out the best place to eat, or reading the ever evolving arrival and departure flight board to see which gate your supposed to be at. So its so easy to forget to put on hand sanitizer or just simply wash your hands. With as much traveling as my husband does all over the world, we’ve managed to determine a good game plan to keep him healthy. We definitely do the basics….hand sanitizer, cover you cough or sneeze, etc but did you know there are other things you can do while your on the plane that will keep you healthy? Lets discuss….

Wash your hands….often!

So this concept isn’t technically new but it is definitely worth saying. It’s so important to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds….yes you can spare 20 seconds!! 20 seconds is equivalent to singing the Happy Birthday song (in your head). Think about all the door handles, bins, armrests,etc you touch in the airport and you will see why you definitely need to wash your hands. Additionally, don’t touch your face (eyes, nose, and mouth) unless your hands are clean. These areas are by far the easiest way to introduce germs into your body. A sleep mask is a great trick for keeping your hands out of your eyes and helps you get more restful sleep.

Hand Sanitizer

Also not a new concept but it needs to be in your carry-on bag….so you can actually use it! Hand sanitizer should be at least 60% alcohol and should be used an as alternative to hand washing. This is quick and effective way to keep your hands clean and with all the wonderful scents they come you will smell lovely to the person sitting next to you.

Pick the window seat

When flying, choose the window seat instead of the aisle. Once you’ve sat down, stay there and don’t get up. Why? People are pretty much moving/walking around on the flight (unless the fasten seat belt sign in on) which helps spread any possible germs to others. Additionally, people who sit in the window seat don’t get up….which reduces the number of people moving around….and also reduces your chance of coming in contact with any germs. Its a win-win. A word of caution: be sure to use the restroom BEFORE you sit in a window seat….because if you have to get to go to the bathroom it defeats the whole purpose.

Open your air vents

Open the air vents above your seat to improve ventilation and angel it to blow air AWAY from you. Basic science: germs can be spread via air circulation. Opening the air vent keeps air ventilation flowing so germs don’t get a chance to “stop” and land. You basically get a wind barrier from germs from an air vent. Clever!

Use Sanitizing Wipes

So this trick may get you some strange faces or raised eyebrows but it is totally worth it. Use sanitizing wipes to wipe down the tray table and arm rest. The tray table is the dirtiest place on the seat…..have you ever seen a flight attendant wipe them down….NO! Wipe it down yourself and save yourself from a headache or cold or whatever else is still hanging around. Sanitizing wipes are cheap ($1) and can be found everywhere so buy more than one and put them in your carry-on.

Stay Hydrated

Be sure to drink plenty of water. Basic science: drinking water allows your body’s natural immune fighting mechanisms to work properly and keep your mucous membranes in your nasal and throat passages from getting dry. It is recommended to drink 8 oz of water for every 1 hour of flight time but be sure to adjust this amount to fit your body’s needs. NOTE: Remember that window seat….in order for all this to work properly follow this process: 1) Drink water before the flight 2) Go to the bathroom before boarding or before take off 3) Sit in the window seat.

BYOE – Bring Your Own Entertainment

The second most germ place is the seat pocket full of magazines in front of you. The seat pocket get used for everything….food, tissues, diapers, trash, etc. Bring your own magazine, movies, games, etc on your next flight so you have don’t even have to touch the seat pocket. Head to the Surviving Chaos->Family section of my blog for easy entertainment ideas that you can make ahead for the whole family! If your looking for book recommendations, head to my Books of 2019 post or my Instagram Stories “Books” for some ideas. I add my latest reads to my Instagram page. Additionally, almost all commercial airlines offer from Wi-fi for movies, T.V shows and games you can stream on you laptop and/or tablet….so put it to good use. Just don’t forget to download their app so you can access it.

We hope you found these tips helpful; we know some of them are not traditional but they have kept us (and my husband) healthy on flights. Do you have any tips or tricks for staying healthy while flying? Let us know!

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Food, Surviving Chaos

Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Taco Soup

Tuesdays are for tacos or so the saying goes. But how about a twist….Taco Soup! If your looking to change up your Tuesday dinner routine, put some soup on!!! This slow cooker recipe is a perfect addition to your fall or winter Taco Tuesdays; the longer it cooks, the deeper the flavor. And don’t forget to pair it with some avocado and tortilla strips. Buen Provecho!!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 14.5 oz canned low sodium pinto beans, drained
  • 14.5 oz canned low sodium black beans, drained
  • 14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 14.5 oz canned corn, drained
  • 2 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth
  • 1.25 oz taco seasoning

Let’s Make It!

  • Add all ingredients to Crock-Pot
  • Cook on LOW 4 hours (up to 8 is fine)
    • The longer the soup cooks, the deeper the flavor
  • Remove chicken and shred/chop
  • Return chicken to soup. Enjoy!!!

Surviving Chaos

  • Vegetarian option: Leave the meat out entirely and add more of you favorite beans.
  • Don’t forget to freeze: This soup freezes really well for up to 2 months.
    • Freeze in small portions for quick and easy lunches.
  • Customize it: Switch out the chicken for ground beef or ground turkey.
    • Be sure to brown the ground beef or turkey first.