Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

After talking about it since May of last year, it has finally happened.

Ok. So that is a lie. I’ve actually been telling people that I wanted to live somewhere other than Chicago ever since I returned from living abroad in ’06. I used to joke that I’d live in Austin or Boston because well, it rhymed and I am corny like that, and also because I heard they were fun cities to live in. I love Chicago, it is such a wonderful, beautiful and friendly city. It is my home. I grew up there. A part of me will always belong in Chicago. I don’t think I’ll ever fully leave; it is likely that I’ll be back someday. But I’ve always felt this strong draw to get out, to experience living elsewhere and to challenge myself to live outside of my comfort zone. I need a change. I love growing and experiencing new things and staying in one place my whole life limits that.

So last year when everything changed and I started to reevaluate my life, I recognized that I wasn’t truly being the most authentic version of myself. While I am extremely grateful for my friends in Chicago who have come into my life recently, I still felt something was missing. I realized I was a dreamer and a talker but not really doing anything about said dreams. As part of The Year of CarynI immediately began to take action towards putting my plans in motion for figuring out what I needed to do to make myself truly happy. 2012 was the start of doing things now and just because it is 2013, a new year, that doesn’t mean the momentum from 2012 has to stop.

After I visited DC for the second time last year, a friend said, “You should just move here” and with that it hit me that there is no better time than now to fulfill that dream. This is the perfect time in my life to pick up and move to a new city. I don’t have a boyfriend or a husband or any children, and I don’t even have a full-time job for that matter right now. If there was ever a time to have a new beginning, this was it.

People ask why DC? The truth is I have friends here so that made the decision easier, but it was honestly just a gut feeling. So far my gut hasn’t steered me wrong and has led me to great adventures and tremendous growth. When I visited over New Years, I almost signed with two other apartments, but for reasons here and there I had reservations. I nearly gave up but then on whim I skyped with these two girls and that was it. Again, in my gut I instantly knew they were the right choice. I quickly signed the lease and had 13 days to sell all my furniture, sublet my apartment and pack everything up. The last two weeks have been a complete whirlwind. People say moving is super stressful but because I know in my heart that this is where I’m supposed to be now, I was calm and not stressed.

Turns out my life fit into only 16 boxes. What wasn’t sold or donated (which was an embarrassingly large amount of clothing and chotchkes) was brought back to my parent’s place. I decided to ship everything instead of renting a truck and driving it out myself. They came and got my boxes and it felt like you move for free without the hassle of the heavy lifting or the stress of driving it out there yourself. Plus, it was all trackable and insured.

boxes

My apartment was perfect; I’ll miss living on my own in such an affordable spacious place. Closing the door to my apartment was harder than I expected. It was truly symbolic of that chapter in my life coming to an end. I had managed to collect gift certificates to various local places and enough booze to last me a lifetime so it gave me great pleasure to share it with friends instead of throwing it out (once opened, you can’t ship it). I am grateful that I got to say goodbye to so many friends over dinner while also spending two days with my parents before leaving town.

Fast forward to Friday, February 1st. Timing couldn’t have worked out any better, even if I tried. I was able to hug and say goodbye to my parents at the airport gate because their flight (they left for a cruise the same day) was to leave only 10 minutes after mine. I was reminded just how much more personal and emotional it is to say goodbye at the gate like we commonly used to do pre-9/11, rather than being rushed away by curbside security. Looking after them as they walked toward their gate was very emotional. I was excited about this new adventure but saying goodbye not knowing when I will see my parents, my puppy, and friends again was difficult. It was horribly bittersweet. When I studied abroad or went to Tanzania, there was always a known return date in the near future. I know that I am only a 90-minute flight, a call or even FaceTime away, but this time I have no idea when or if I’ll return to Chicago. I’ve never lived (permanently) away from Chicago and am used to going home when I want. It will be hard to not be able to go home for the weekend on a whim, at least without having to buy a plane ticket first. I am blessed to have such a close, loving and supportive relationship with my parents and that makes it harder than all other goodbyes.

Whenever I go away for a big trip like studying abroad in Italy, volunteering in Africa, or even going away to over night camp as a kid, my mom always wrote a letter for me to read on the plane and this was no exception. After our hugs and tears and goodbyes at the gate, they sat on their plane and I on mine, at the same airport, texting in a group chat. It was utterly adorable and made me smile through my tears. I was totally that crazy girl on the plane with tears streaming down her face for no apparent reason.

As I was walking off the plane, feeling oddly stuck between two worlds, my new apartment building called to tell me all 16 of my packages had arrived a day early. It seemed to snap things back to reality and things were already off to a good start. I immediately began unpacking and making this place my new home.

I know that I am just beginning my new adventure and that I chose and needed this change in my life. Everything in the past year has led up to this. Although my family is extremely important to me and I will miss them tremendously, I am excited to begin this new journey and to be closer to so many wonderful friends.

I am proud of myself for taking an active role in making my dreams a reality. I am proud that I didn’t procrastinate this move. I know this is only the beginning and that it isn’t going to be easy at first. There will be a lot of adjustments and change and it will come with a large amount of challenges, struggles and compromises. I will need to be patient and open to new experiences. The thing about change is that it forces you outside of your comfort zone and disguises itself as something painful and uncomfortable. But once you accept it, you forget you were ever worried in the first place. It becomes the norm. You just have to trust the change.

As I was saying my goodbyes, I couldn’t help but get the lyrics to Semisonic’s Closing Time stuck in my head, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.This is my new beginning. Now it is time for me to embrace the change and challenges that may come and just enjoy this new adventure.

After talking about it for so many years, it has finally happened.

Source: gitamba.com via Caryn on Pinterest

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.*This post was supported by UMoveFree. All comments are my own.*

Eating Clean: Cauliflower Crust Pizza

When people are trying to eat healthy, one of the hardest things to give up is pizza. There is a reason it is American’s favorite food. The gooey hot cheese, the perfectly soft yet crunchy dough, sweet tangy sauce and yummy toppings are just too delicious to refuse. Oops, even that got me drooling a bit. But you don’t have to throw your plans of eating clean and healthy out the window for that one slice of greasy pizza. Luckily, there is a healthy alternative for pizza.

Enter: Cauliflower Pizza!

Unlike regular pizza that has dough made of flour and sugar, this crust is made out of cauliflower!

Like you, I was a little skeptical about using cauliflower to make a pizza crust. I mean I don’t want it ON my pizza, why would I want the foundation to be made from it? But trust me when I say that for a healthy alternative to pizza, it is pretty impressive and tasty.

Hold up, let’s be honest here. It is not the same as eating a flour pizza crust, so I won’t pretend it is. It still feels like you are eating pizza, you just can’t go into it expecting it to taste the exact same. But it doesn’t feel like you are eating cauliflower either. In fact, if you tried it before you knew it was cauliflower, I’m not sure you’d guess what it was. It still has that same cheesy and delicious taste just so much healthier! Do you like a crispy crunchy edge to your crust? Cauliflower pizza does that too.

Pizza is one of my favorite foods but I don’t like the guilt or how I feel physically after I eat it. Between a veggie crust and veggie toppings, I feel good eating this. Just like flour pizza, you can add a variety of toppings all to your heart’s desire: mushrooms, spinach, onions, black olives, squash, eggplant, cheese, zucchini, and tomatoes, really, the options are unlimited! You can top the pizza with whatever you like, just make sure the toppings are pre-cooked since you’ll only be broiling the pizza for a few minutes.***

So yes, pizza CAN actually be healthy and taste good too!

Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome and will most definitely be making it again. I hope you give it a try and enjoy it too!

RECIPE: (adapted from here and here)

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Ingredients:

1 head of (riced) cauliflower
1/2 - 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese* (I used part skim)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 - 2/3 tsp Italian seasoning
2/3 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp garlic salt
Salt & pepper to taste
olive oil (optional) ** 
Pizza sauce
Choice of toppings***
*Depends on how cheesy you like it. I’d use more if I could.
**This made my pizza more oily than I would have liked. Next time I’ll skip it.
***Meats and veggies need to be pre-cooked before placing them on the pizza. After the crust is baked, the pizza is only under the broiler to melt the cheese, not long enough to properly and safely cook meats and veggies.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (I used aluminum and it ripped easily)
“Rice” the Cauliflower:

Take 1 large head of fresh cauliflower, remove stems and leaves, and chop the florets into chunks. Add to food processor and pulse until it looks like grain. Do not purée it by over-pulsing. I am pretty sure you can use a cheese grater if you don’t have a food processor. Put the grated cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl and cook for 8 minutes (time depends on microwave power, so you may need to reduce or add to this cooking time). There is enough natural moisture in the cauliflower so there is no need to add water. It will cook itself. One large head should produce approximately 3 cups of riced cauliflower. The remainder can be used to make additional pizza crusts immediately, or can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Place the cooked Cauliflower Rice on a tea towel and squeeze out all the water. as much of the water as possible. You want it as dry as possible so there won’t be extra moisture in the crust. Excess moisture will prevent the crust from crisping.
In a medium bowl combine the dry Cauli-Rice, egg, mozzarella, and spices and mix to combine well.
Cauliflower rice mix
Press the cauliflower mixture into an even thickness (about 1/4 – inch thick) on the prepared pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is firm and golden brown.
Baked cauliflower crust
Remove the pan from the oven and turn on the broiler.
Top the cooked crust with sauce, cheese and toppings of your choice.  Place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and melted. Approx 5 minutes.
cauliflower pizza ready to eat

Look how yummy that looks! I only added cheese this time, but next time, bring on the toppings! ENJOY!!

In full disclosure, mine turned out a little mushier than it was supposed to. As you can see, this is what happens when you don’t get enough moisture out of the cauli-rice. I clearly needed to put it back in and cook it a little longer. When I used a spatula to scoop it up at first, it crumbled into a gooey glob of goodness! Because it has a lighter consistency, it is hard to eat with your hands; it is much easier to use a fork. If you ask me, I’ll take eating pizza with a fork any day if it means I can feel better about what I’m eating.

gooey goodness of cauliflower

{If you try this out, I’m interested to know your thoughts! If you adjusted the recipe at all,
what did you do and how did it work out?! Feel free to share comments below!}
I am not a dietician and don’t pretend to be. Please consult your Dr. for questions and nutritional advice. Recipes and comments are my take on Eating Clean recipes. I cannot guarantee that recipes are 100% Clean. They are loosely based on what I interpret or consider acceptable options for this lifestyle.

The Best #Blackout Tweets from Super Bowl 47

The Ravens may have beat the 49ers but reading the blackout tweets was way more entertaining than the game. You’d think the most unusual thing about the game would have been that the coaches of both teams are brothers, but weirder things have happened, folks. This Super Bowl will be remembered mostly because of The Blackout.

For 37 minutes, the stadium went dark. Someone likely (unfortunately) got fired and thousands of people stared at their TV’s waiting for the game to resume. I seriously couldn’t help but wonder what people were doing if they weren’t following along as people live tweeted the blackout. They missed out on quality entertainment. It was so much more amusing than listening to the commentators attempt to pass the mic around in order to fill the silence. They had an entire 1st half to discuss and a halftime show but they found nothing to talk about. Way to go, CBS. I’ll give it to America, some people are really witty and funny. Here are some of my favorite Tweets that I saw:

9 months black out

blackout

Superbowl Blackout

Superbowl Blackout

Superbowl Blackout

Superbowl Blackout

Superbowl Blackout

Superbowl Blackout

Some of mine:

Blackout super bowl

Blackout super bowl

Superbowl Blackout

And the winner of the night: Oreos.
I applaud Oreos for a job well done. The best part about their (very simple and on the spot) tweet is that while other companies had spent millions on commercials, THIS is one of the best, if not the best ad of the night and it was free! And it was not even on TV. Way to own social media Oreo. Well done.
{What were some of the best tweets you saw during the blackout?}

Adventures in Baking: Super Bowl Edition

It is really hard to duplicate what you see on Pinterest. Working with melted chocolate is very complicated because it hardens quickly. Even though I used a toothpick to get a fine line, it is still really hard to keep it clean and so pretty. When you attend a party as a guest in someone’s home, you should never show up empty-handed. I wanted to bring something fun and theme appropriate so I made deliciously fresh and fun Chocolate Covered Football Strawberries.

It was supposed to look like this:

Mine turned out like this.

chocolate covered football strawberries

You can hardly tell a difference, right? At least mine has goal posts.

{Have you been able to duplicate a pinterest photo successfully? Share your story.}