This week, I listened to Jamie Oliver’s Ted Talk and it was a lightning bolt moment for me. If you’ve visited my blog in the past, you know that I have a love for real, wholesome, nutrient-rich foods. It wasn’t always this way for me. I can remember as a little girl, I would negotiate with my older sister to eat my vegetables for me so I could finally get up from the dinner table. When she wouldn’t oblige, I would then attempt to hide them in my milk. Smart, right! Or so I thought…until a new rule was added to the dinner table – I had to finish all of my milk before I could get up. I guess I wasn’t as sly as I thought. I remained a picky eater throughout my childhood with a sweet tooth controlling a good portion of what I consumed. Despite my efforts, my parents did their part in attempting to instill healthy eating habits and continuing to offer whole, nutritious foods. Now as a mother, I get it. They knew what was good for me and wanted it for my sake — not their own. I’d like to think their efforts are finally paying off. After I found out I was pregnant a few years ago, I started to really think about how our food choices not only affected me and my husband but a tiny little human as well. I began to question why we ate what we ate, to think more intentionally about our choices and to seriously consider the future diet of our family. I quickly realized I had a lot to learn. And our fast food consumerist culture wasn’t going to make it easy. I started by looking at our food consumption as part of our overall lifestyle – how we choose to eat is a part of how we choose to live. A quick-fix-fad “diet” isn’t going to sustain our long term health or help us make wise decisions about how we feed our little ones. We need the knowledge to know what our bodies need and why, the access to foods that are real, and the ability to say yes to what is good for us and no to what may be more convenient. After listening to Jamie Oliver talk about this topic all the thoughts in my head truly came full circle.
With a clear path, I have a project I want to complete in 2015 that relates to colorful foods and helps to educate both parents and children on the benefits of bringing more color into the kitchen. At times I have thought this project may be silly or futile but I now know it has purpose: to do my small part in the bigger movement of educating children about food, inspiring families to cook again, and empower people to fight obesity. Mr Oliver, I’m in. You have me on board. The image above has a tiny preview of what I’ll be sharing in the weeks to come, and I’m really looking forward to it. Until then, I hope you will listen to his talk and perhaps it will strike a chord with you as it did me. Enjoy the weekend. xo…*holly
I was honored to be a part of this month’s issue of 225 Magazine. They asked me to share about our experience living abroad, including our favorite and most challenging part. If you’re interested in reading it, its available online here (and local friends in Baton Rouge can pick up a copy around town!). Do you have any other questions you’d like to know about our decision to move abroad? Let me know, and I will attempt to share them in future posts!
We didn’t really know what to expect before getting to Tel Aviv. We had seen photos of the apartment that we’d be living in, and I searched around on Pinterest trying to find any images that gave me an idea of what it would be like. The fact that its on the Mediterranean coast left me with high hopes…but I really had no clue of the beauty that would unfold before us. Our first full day in town, we took off walking without a map just heading up to the coast. It takes about 10 minutes to get to this spot from our apartment:
Like I mentioned in our last post, we only had a couple of days before Greg’s dad got to town and we took off again. But after that trip, we had two weeks before Greg’s classes started to enjoy our city altogether as a family. It was the perfect introduction to our time living here. We explored neighborhoods, found our favorite bakery in town, bought bicycles, played on playgrounds, and went to the beach more mornings that I can count.
One of our favorite things is how there are cafes on nearly every corner. And the food is absolutely delicious. It’s been hard for us not to want to stop and try them all out! Once Greg started school it got a little easier since we aren’t out and about all day long;)
Once Greg’s classes started a routine quickly set in. He takes a 30 minute bike ride along the coast everyday to get to Tel Aviv University. We spend time altogether in the morning before he leaves, and then its just Remy and me for the rest of the day. It’s been good for me to slow down and enjoy this time with him. We both agree that we couldn’t be in a better city for this season of him studying abroad. It has surprised and delighted us in ways that we didn’t expect, and we’ve been really thankful for our time here so far. We also agree that we didn’t realize how much we would miss our family and friends back home (we knew we’d miss y’all…just didn’t know it would be this much!). Needless to say, Remy’s and my trip back home next week is coming at the perfect time:) A few weeks with those we love and then back to this city that is stealing our hearts every day.
The Dead Sea is located about an hour southwest of Amman. We decided to rent a car for the venture so we could go at our own pace and visit other areas nearby during our stay. Driving in Amman is an adventure all in itself! I’ve driven the streets of Paris and navigating through a city that large doesn’t even begin to compare to the way people drive here. Remember when I mentioned they don’t use car seats? Well we learned they also don’t use their rearview mirrors but they do use their horns…a lot. Thankfully, Greg got us around and we’re still here to share about our visit to the earth’s lowest elevation on land…the Dead Sea! Since we’re living in Jordan right now we chose to stay on the Jordanian side, but you can also plan a trip here to stay on the Israeli side. After checking into our resort we quickly drove up to the Dead Sea Panoramic Complex for a late lunch and our first view of this gorgeous place. Looking out past the haze and the sea, on the other side lies Bethleham and Jerusalem…
We returned to our resort for the rest of the day to simply enjoy the air conditioning, the pool, and the view. Hooray for a room with a balcony overlooking the sea!
Greg couldn’t wait for me to get in the sea to see what it was like (he’s been in it before). The water itself felt wonderful – not too hot or too cold – and it had an almost oily consistency to it. So different than anything I’ve ever experienced. You can only stay in the water for 10-20 minutes max because of the rich mineral concentration. I didn’t think I was going to let Remy get in because we’ve heard how terribly painful it can be if you get the salt water in your eyes. But once I was down there I couldn’t help but let him test out the waters with me. So as the sun began to set we floated on water for the very first time…
Remy loved the rocky shore line where he could toss rocks into the water. I love this photo with the sun setting behind the mountains of the Holy Land, him looking out that way (it’s still surreal for me to even type this and that I get to share this with him when he’s older and can understand)…
The next day we made a trip to Mt. Nebo and Madaba that I’ll share about that in another post. We then spent the afternoon swimming and getting a true mud therapy bath. I surprised myself putting that mud all over my body. It was really warm and icky! But it was worth it because its supposed to be incredible for your skin and getting in the salty water to wash it off felt so refreshing.
We were thankful for a weekend away from the bustle of the city, to enjoy a slower pace and new experience. We’ll visit the Dead Sea again from the Israeli side next month when Greg’s dad comes for a visit. Speaking of which, its hard to believe that we’re nearly half way through our time in Jordan. We leave at the end of this month for Tel Aviv, and I feel like we’re just getting settled into our rhythm here. Remy has been such a champ through all of the traveling and changes. I’m so impressed with his ability to adapt…sometimes better than his mama and daddy;) Hope you are well wherever this finds you. xo, *holly.
PS: I post photos daily about our adventures to my Instagram if you want to follow along.
We arrived in Amman just over a week ago, and we’re slowly getting into a rhythm for how we’ll spend our time here. We flew out of Nashville to Chicago, and then had a direct 12 hour red eye from Chicago to Amman that went surprisingly well. Remy fell asleep for about 6 hours on Greg’s lap, and we found various ways to keep him entertained the rest of the time, including some of these great ideas about traveling with a toddler. Our attempt at traveling as light as possible came out to on one checked bag per person, our carry ons (with our study/work necessities included), Remy’s stroller, and of course, his potty seat;) When we arrived, there was a man waiting to take us into town, which is about 45 minutes away. We piled into his small car and quickly realized seat belts were not the norm here. Nor are car seats. Remy rides on my lap anytime we take a taxi, which is usually at least once a day. On the highway heading into Amman, we passed cars with children piled in the back seat hanging their arms out the window. And then we passed an Ikea, and then a half dozen camels and a shepherd with his herd just a kilometer down the highway. It was the perfect introduction to this interesting city. To be honest, I knew very little of what to expect. I’ve never been to the Middle East and all I carried with me were my assumptions about day-to-day life in an Arab city. We chose Amman because it is the best option for Greg to be immersed in both the language and the culture, getting every opportunity possible to use his Arabic, and it is a safe city unlike other countries bordering us. What I’m quickly learning is that its a city of sensory overload. So much to see, so much to take in. We’re currently living in Jabal Weibdeh, one of the oldest districts in town with steep winding streets overlooking the city center. Being in this area has allowed for us to truly get a sense of what life looks like for the locals. Our guest house was originally built for a member of the Ottoman army over 100 years ago and still has many of the original aspects to it, including these floors… It’s quickly becoming routine to stop for a cappuccino and fresh apricot juice at our favorite spot up the road, Rumi Cafe… The facades of most homes and buildings are white limestone. Greg and I both agreed it reminded us of parts of Greece we’ve visited. The city is built around various hills so in the evening as the sun sets, the homes built into the sides of the hills glimmer with light, and its so very beautiful to see. We can walk down the winding streets to the center of downtown in about 15 minutes. It is there where you get the most authentic Arab experience from anywhere else in the city. It is loud, busy, and full of people who will stop to look at you if you are clearly not from around here;) And everyone, men and women young and old, stop to pinch Remy’s cheeks or offer a smile to him. There is a vegetable souq (market) where vendors yell back and forth with competing prices trying to get customers to buy from them. There’s some of the best falafel and kanafeh you’ll ever eat in your life. And its all right off the street – nothing fancy but oh so very delicious. Another district up the hill opposite of us from downtown is called Jabal Amman. It’s an area we’ve really grown to enjoy with wider streets and large side walks shaded with beautiful trees. I didn’t expect there to be much greenery in this desert land but where they do have it, it is quite beautiful. There are things that remind me of home where I find comfort, such as the garden and grounds of our guest house, the cafe up the road with freshly made juices and coffee, the kindness of the people both here at the house and on the street, the American friends we’ve connected and gotten to spend time with so far. But there are challenges as well. The language barrier is the most obvious, and Greg is doing a great job utilizing his knowledge of it wherever we go. While he’s in his lessons, I often times feel helpless when I want to run into the grocery or stop by the market to pick something up. And I don’t take taxis without him so Remy and I are limited to our little area of town while he’s away. I’d say having a toddler is probably the most challenging aspect for us yet. It’s our first time traveling out of the states since becoming parents, and we’re learning that the way we used to travel without a little one isn’t necessarily the most practical way to travel with one. We’re trying to figure out how our every day lifestyle should look so that we’re able to get the most out of our time here. For example, we don’t have air conditioning (and the high today was 99 degrees!). And we don’t have our own kitchen to be able to cook meals while Greg goes to his lessons for the late afternoon/evenings. It means I am trying to figure out how to feed Remy and myself without eating falafel every single night;) Not being able to speak or read the language leaves me with limited options (most signs in our neighborhood are only in Arabic, very little English). So while we are truly enjoying this city and its people, it doesn’t come without its unique set of hardships that are growing and shaping us – and making us quite thankful for little things we take for granted back home. Please feel free to drop a note or say hello if you’re reading this. It means a lot to hear from friends and family since that is an obvious thing we miss dearly from our lives this side of the pond! Enjoy the day. xoxo, holly.
PS – follow along with me on instagram for day-to-day images of our time: @maisoneverett