Crochet your heart out!

I tried to learn how to crochet once. My grandma started a piece and showed me what to do to get the intricate details of her beautiful masterpieces. My interest in the art lasted about 30 seconds before I would run away to study or do something non-crochet related. Looking back, I think I was just scared to try something new that was difficult. Over the last year since my grandma has passed, I’ve found crochet to be something that brings me closer to her and the warm memories that I have of her. Since she was no longer around to teach me, I turned to YouTube and found solace in the channels Iheartstitching and Simplyhookedcrochet. Since I continue to have the attention span of a hummingbird, I found that using a large hook and simple patterns allowed me to complete projects at a tolerable pace. I still struggle to maintain a consistent tension, but it’s about the journey right? Here is my first blanket 🙂

20150216-203302-73982846.jpg

Advertisement

What are your goals for 2015?

20150103-224039-81639489.jpg

Happy New Year! I love this time of the year because New Years represents hope, optimism, and opportunity for the upcoming 365 days. This year I have several goals, but the main one is to be more engaged in my efforts and actually get stuff done. I love starting projects rather than finishing them and this leads to a lot of frustration and disappointment.

But not this year!

I’m documenting my goals for 2015 to keep myself accountable.

If this were the last year on earth for me, these are the things I would like to accomplish:

– Make more homemade meals (once a week)
– Practice my Dari and Spanish (weekly)
– Complete more DIY projects (once a month)
– Yoga (every day)
– Run or do something active (every other day)
– Study for American Board of Pediatrics exam in October (every day)

By the end of 2015 I know that I’ll be happy and fulfilled to have met these goals because they have been unfinished goals for so many years.

Wish me luck and let me know what goals you gave set for the year. I hope that we can make 2015 a year of love, laughter, and adventure!

The Joys of Vacation

Hi folks! It’s great to be back in the real world, outside of the hospital, where people are generally healthy and happy. I’ve had a great few days off catching up on sleep and spending time with family and friends. Highlights of this week have been:

Road Trip to Zion National Park – I visited the beautiful Emerald Pools and the daunting Angel’s Landing, where I made a pact with a higher power to live life more fully so long as I survived the hike. It was a great experience and I recommend it to anyone who loves fresh air and picturesque views.

Amazon vacation purchases – A year ago, in the midst of residency, I started ordering myself gifts which would arrive at the start of my vacations (silly, but effective). For this vacation, I received two Dari books to practice for my 2015 goal of becoming fluent in my mother’s language of Afghanistan, a book on the introduction to crochet in remembrance of my grandmother who passed away in April, Quiet the book that will remind me why I should feel proud to be an introvert, and new crafting tools (hot glue gun and staple gun). I was ambitious to think that I would accomplish even a quarter of this stuff in one week, but I like to think this got the ball rolling (or that I started the first stitch LOL). I’m looking forward to sharing some book reviews soon and am currently half way through the entertaining Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain’s first rant book.

Jewelry Making – Why is jewelry so expensive? Michael’s is known for their unbelievable sales and they did not disappoint this week. I have some great beads to make delicate jewelry that actually fits my unusually tiny wrists. I’m so excited to share pictures soon of some finished work.

Food and Gluttony – I’m not much of a glutton and spent most of thanksgiving eating my dad’s famous lasagna. The tradition continues. One of these days, maybe closer to Christmas, you’ll get a play by play of the secret recipe! Keep in mind, this dish is meant for sharing!

Yoga – I’m working on getting my aunt, who has Rheumatoid Arthritis, to utilize yoga for healing. I find that those who have the most daily pain tend to be the least likely to stretch and it’s probably because they think that their body should be doing more than it can for that particular day. However, if you listen to what your body wants and needs, you will find a great balance that will leave you energized.

Running did not happen this week, but will be starting up again very soon. The Carlsbad half marathon is approaching and I’m still on the fence about whether to do it or not…

Happy Holidays and I’ll talk to you soon!

Sabrina

Dari: Day 1

Dari is one of the two main languages of Afghanistan and has been around since the 10th Century. It is beautiful and every time it hear it spoken I feel a mixture of calm and frustration. You see, I am the only person in my family who doesn’t speak Dari. My mother, bless her immigrant heart, was born in Kabul and had fears that knowing Dari would make it difficult for me to achieve “the American dream.” So while I was fortunate to avoid ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, I did have concern that part of my heritage was lost.

As an adult, I found the amazing-ness that is Rosetta Stone but they didn’t have comprehensive Dari lessons, leaving me disappointed and full of head nodding/awkward smiles at family gatherings.

Today, things are changing. I’m teaching myself how to speak Dari and inviting you on the journey. Which brings me to: the alphabet!

20141109-094007-34807459.jpg

This language is read and written from right to left According to Omniglot, there are 7.5 million people who speak Dari. Of course, I want to learn it so I can speak to 20 people near and dear to me.

I’m not sure how exactly this will go, but my goal is to learn at least one new word per day. The word that I have chosen for today is: family.

Famil (Faw-mil), which for Afghans can be pretty large, but I love it!

Homemade Secret Recipe for Aush (Afghan soup)

20140914-163013-59413751.jpg

My favorite winter dish from childhood is called Aush / Osh and is a traditional soup from Afghanistan that my grandmother taught my mother before she moved to the United States. It’s the perfect remedy when I feel ill or just need that winter comfort food, followed by a nap of course. Before I left for medical school, I decided that it was time to learn how to make this dish and now I am excited to share it with you!

What you will need (serves 6 hungry adults):
One large pot
Canola or olive oil
2 medium yellow onions (chopped into 1 inch pieces)
4-5 cloves of garlic (pressed)
1-1.5 pounds of ground beef or turkey
1teaspoon of turmeric
1 tablespoon of coriander
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 pound of pasta (fettuccini or farfale work well)
Chicken boullion
Ground black pepper +/- crushed red pepper
1 can of garbanzo beans
1 can of kidney beans
1 cup of yogurt
1/2 cup of sour cream
Dried mint

20140914-163012-59412495.jpg
First I’ll need to turn on some music and get an apron on before I coat the bottom of the pot with oil and turn the range on medium to high heat. I let the onions brown, then add my garlic. Be prepared for some good scents at this point. Next, I add the meat and cook it until it is almost completely done. I’ll add the turmeric, coriander, and tomato paste next.

20140914-163012-59412927.jpg
At this point, I add just enough water to make it look like a soup. It will taste bland, so the chicken boullion will get sprinkled in until it tastes a little salty (trust me, it will be worth it in a second!). Sprinkle or toss black and red pepper to your preference. My family likes it spicy so I usually add a crazy amount that makes a sore throat numb!

20140914-163013-59413342.jpg
Now I add the pasta to the soup and watch it absorb the salty broth. The garbanzo and kidney beans go in next, along with more water to keep it like a soup. I turn up my music and taste the soup, adding a little more of each spice depending on how much water was added. This is the fun of Afghan cuisine, because our recipes get passed down by observation, not paper, and every time I make this dish, the amount of spice I use may change. After about 5 or so minutes of simmering, I temper my yogurt and sour cream by mixing a little soup in the dairy before I add it to the soup to prevent curdling.

After I finish admiring the large pot of beautiful golden soup filled with with meat, pasta, and beans, I usually take a minute to call my mom to tell her how excited I am about making another delicious batch of Aush. Food is how my family bonds together!

I pour some Aush into serving bowls and sprinkle dried mint on top, then watch it be devoured by my hungry friends and family. I hope that you have the opportunity to make this tasty dish and please let me know how it goes!

With love,
Sabrina

5 Things Alaska Taught Me About Adventure

This month I made the impulsive decision to travel with my husband to the last frontier – Alaska. The plan was simple: fly to Anchorage, rent a car, and see/eat/do as much as possible in one week. I didn’t realize how many of my expectations would be exceeded and how many of my assumptions would be squashed. These are the main five things that Alaska taught me about how to live a more adventurous life.

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst

This is in reference to weather. I had always been under the impression that Alaska is a continually winter wonderland, but visiting in September blew that assumption out of the snow bank. Every day of the trip averaged 50-60 degree Fahrenheit and most of the days were sunny. When rain arrived towards the end of the week, I remembered the advice from a trusted hotel employee who said, “Don’t let the rain slow you down” and invested in some ponchos to complete some of the most memorable hikes of my life.

20140913-134118-49278693.jpg

Always try one bite

I used to be a really picky eater, but my mentality over the years has evolved where I try one bite of everything before deciding if my palate is pleased. This eating lifestyle has led me to experience some delicious food and Alaska did not disappoint. Salmon, halibut, clams, crab, and oysters were some of the fresh sea wildlife that I had the opportunity to sample on this trip. My favorite new food that I tried on the trip was a spin off of “Eskimo ice cream” at the Alaska State Fair, originally a combination of fruit and seal fat used to sustain Native Alaskans and now a mixture of berries, coconut oil, and soft serve. While my palate has been thoroughly satisfied from the trip, my husband is still searching for a person who can get him a sample of seal meat.

20140913-133941-49181169.jpg

Minor injuries are part of the fun

As a resident physician the “work hard, play hard” lifestyle can take me from working 80-100 hours/week to hiking in North America’s northernmost rainforest. Prior to this trip, I had just completed a pediatric intensive care rotation with very little time for cross training in the gym so of course I developed some injuries while hiking several hours a day in Alaska. My most excruciating injury was to my ileotibial band, leading to a sharp lateral knee pain with every downhill step. I was so invested in enjoying this trip that I somehow found the mental toughness to keep hiking and just be cautious while going downhill. The landscape views were so worth the pain!

Wildlife thrives in secluded areas

The most wildlife I had the opportunity to see while growing up in San Diego was at the Zoo. Maybe I had the misfortune to run into a rattlesnake while hiking with my dad, but nothing prepared me for the beautiful abundance of wildlife that thrives in Alaska. Moose, bears, bald eagles, sea otters, orca, and porpoises were among the awe-inspiring creatures that I saw during my trip. I am, and I hope you are, an advocate for measures that keep the Alaskan environment secluded enough for these animals to survive.

Motion Sickness does not have to slow you down

One of the highlights of the trip was to the Kenai Fjords where we went on the last 9 hour boat tour of the season. I had no idea how many glaciers existed in this region! I have had lots of bad experiences with motion sickness while riding in ambulances and helicopters for work, but I had no idea what it would be like to ride in a boat for nine hours. Yes, after six hours I had emesis, but it was totally worth the experience of seeing wildlife and glaciers from sea.

20140913-134300-49380944.jpg

I hope you visit the places that you want to see in your lifetime and I hope this influences your decision to see Alaska!

Hello Alaska!

I took the polar plunge 🙂 and bought tickets to Anchorage, Alaska today. I’ve wanted to go there for years, even if just to see the majesty of the mountains and glaciers. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen a glacier in person. I heard that they are blue, is that true? Well I’ll let you know because I’m going to Alaska!

The last time I had a near encounter with the giant arctic state was as a medical student when I almost convinced someone to let me travel to a clinic in Bethel, which apparently is only accessible by boat or plane. Doesn’t that sound exciting? Once they realized I did not have a medical license yet, I was rejected. But who cares about that now because I’m going to Alaska!

Why not somewhere else they’ll say? I knew i had made the right decision when i spoke with my dad and all he said was, “Can you bring be back some Northwest art?” I love it! Yes, Turkey and Greece and Italy will come. And Southeast Asia and everywhere in between. But with the time and money that I have right now I know that this is a great decision that I will remember for the rest of my life. Because I’m going to Alaska!

Now what should I do when I get there?

Xoxo, Sabrina

That time I ran a marathon

Let me start from the beginning…

September 2013:
I hate running. It hurts to run. I’m not “built” to be a runner.

October 2013:
My friend Eileen ran a marathon?? Cool! I’d love to run a marathon one day. 

November 2013:
Per Eileen’s instructions, I buy “The Non-Runners Marathon Trainer” and start reading. Maybe I can run a marathon…(few days later)…I’m going to do this! 

December 2013:
Somehow I am waking up early and running for 30 minutes every other morning. What?? My favorite memory will be the quiet winter sunrises along the mountains.

20140802-214125-78085740.jpg

January 2014:
Keeping it steady! It was great to start training before the new year because I knew that I would keep up the training since it was not based on a “New Years resolution.” Work is starting to get busy, but I am focused and am now able to run up to 5 miles and completed a life goal of going around the lake by my parent’s house.

February 2014:
Still excited as ever to run on a frequent basis. I am now able to run up to 8 miles without stopping. One thing I have realized is that I am very hungry after 6 miles and need to get some sugar in my system to stay energized. I’m rewarding myself with cute running outfits!

March 2014:
My 30th birthday…Life is starting to get in the way of my running plans. My grandma is ill and everyone at home is very nervous about how much longer we have with her. I’m using running to help me clear my mind while I try to juggle the grieving that my family is feeling with the demands of work. I successfully ran a total of 10 miles during this month, some of it with walking, but I’m proud nonetheless and never anticipated to be a “long distance runner.”

April 2014:
My loving grandma has passed. I’m heart broken. I am also working 80-100 hours a week at the hospital (not by choice!) and am exhausted. I somehow managed to run my first half marathon (13 miles) and felt a mixture of emotions. This race taught me to bring snacks for miles 6-13, to bring a hat and sunglasses for the many hours I will be outdoors, and to drink more liquids than I think I need to minimize post race aches and pains.

20140802-214231-78151110.jpg

May 2014:
My mind seems ready for the race, but I have very little opportunities to practice. Night float, lack of sleep, and long hours at work are killing my goals to run up to 20 miles. I think the most I was able to do was 11 😦 But there is no turning point now. I have wanted this for too long. I’ll make it happen. It’s not like I’m trying to win the race!

June 2014:
Race day! I actually slept the night before without any fear! I decided that if I need to walk, I will, and that is okay. I am most interested in the experience rather than the “perfect race” that I imagined at the beginning. Life is crazy and you can’t anticipate what challenges you will face. All you need to decide is that you will do your best. I can only describe the race as this: LIFE CHANGING. The race was physically and emotionally exhausting. I met some incredible people along the way with stories of their first marathon, their challenges, their determination to accomplish this challenge and it really fueled me. So did the peanut butter sandwiches (thanks husband!) I am so happy that I did it.

20140802-214309-78189438.jpg

Lessons I learned from running a marathon:
1) Life is short. There will NEVER be a perfect opportunity. If you want to do something, just do it. 
2) Running is way more fun than I previously thought. It’s made me happier because I’m doing something for myself.

I need a vacation…

One thing that I have learned from residency, from 80+ hours of work per week in the hospital, is that one week of vacation every few months is just not enough time to “get my groove back.”

After what shall now be called “My life after WDS 2014”, I have finally woken up to the idea that this is my life and I built it. My unhappiness is a product of my own creation and I am shocked by how much I don’t enjoy the day-to-day. I always imagined that as a grown up I would be so crazy happy; instead I’m exhausted with sprinkles of joy as one or two days off from work breezes by every 14 days or so.

I’m honestly brainstorming what I want from life and how I’m going to get it. Today’s google search was focused on travel hacking thanks to Nomadic Matt and Chris Guillebeau. The idea of owning more credit cards to get miles sounds like what my mom calls an “unnecessary risk” but she also has going outside without a jacket in that category. I’ll keep you posted on this one. I’m skeptical, but that is what has always held me back from having fun, so we will see. There are 50 countries between me and my bucket list so I could really use some extra miles 🙂

20140728-210545-75945694.jpg

A little secret about me…

Hi mom! This is my first blog post so most likely my mom will be the only one who reads this. Who am I kidding? She doesn’t know what a blog is. 

So a little secret about me…I’m a superhero! I know you are surprised; so was I when I found out about my extraordinary life from Dee Williams at the World Domination Summit 2014 #WDS2014  . What is my special power? Well, I found out that I have a voice! Who knew? I realized that I am just as important as everybody else and that I deserve to be heard. So here I am excited to speak/type my little heart out and I know that someone out there is listening. Nice to have you here! Enjoy!