et Voila! | Côte d’Ivoire

Here we are in Abidjan…poised to begin another adventure together, this time alongside our son.

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I immediately fell in love with the food available here…from delicious pastries to fresh seafood but I felt like a fish out of water and searching for something to make this new place feel like home. I was initially a little uninspired to write about our arrival here because I was struggling a bit to fit in those first days. Lots of new things in my life…new city, being a new mom, new environment, new language, new friends, new routines, etc. Never being one for liking too much change, this is always an adjustment for me but one I end up appreciating and even relish in the end and one I know will get easier with time and practice. New doors are opened to me, new ideas and new experiences abound.

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Dirty 30 | Diapers & Dinner

Really, the only thing dirty about my birthday this year is the amount of diapers I find myself changing. As I leave my twenties and enter my thirties, I’m curious about what lies ahead of me. I’m less than a month away from moving to Cote d’Ivoire for two years alongside my husband, our two dogs, and our newborn son. So, I’m already off to a great start!

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Challenging Myself | Weight Loss Challenge

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve said I’m going to dedicate myself to losing weight and getting healthier, but every time I fail to change for the long-term. It’s always the best of intentions but I can’t help it…I love food! I love butter and sweets and seconds! But this year, I’m turning over a new leaf along with my husband and members of our families (parents, siblings, uncles). We have devised a competition to get us all motivated and healthy together.

Strength

Taking the lead from my husband’s fantasy football league, we are all paying $50 into a pot. At the end of the year, September 1, 2016, whoever has decreased their BMI the most, will win the pot of money, which has already reached $500.

Over the course of the next year, I’ll be posting healthy recipes I’ve tried along the way! I have the great benefit of having a dear friend of mine who is a great inspiration and motivator {Andrea Orth Fitness}. I’ll be teaming up with her to create and share healthy recipes, even 21 Day Fix-approved recipes, that are anything but boring rabbit food (as my dad would call it).

First up, Kale Power Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette.

21 Day Fix Approved - Kale Power Salad

Another Decade of Adventure | First Up: Ecuador

This week, my husband and I are reflecting on our first date 10 years ago. As I was headed off to college and he was enlisted in the military, the world of possibilities was wide open for us. As we look back to that night that we spent sitting across the table from one another and talking for hours, we relish the path that we have taken together that has brought us through great adventures and travels, that have challeged us, and the struggles along the way that made use stronger as individuals and as husband and wife. We would have never imagined that we would be reflecting at 10 years while sitting in the middle of Africa! As we look forward to the next decade together, we love the unpredictability of where we will find ourselves in 2025 and what we will have experienced along the way.

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Moving Overseas | Lessons Learned

I’ve been meaning to post this for several weeks now but it got lost in my draft section with all the other posts I have been writing lately. Better late than never, I suppose!

Things I’ve learned from our first move overseas:

Most importantly, no matter how much you plan, prepare, and strategize, you will never get it all done, never be as prepared as you think you should be and it will be stressful! So agonizing over everything is just not worth it…just relax and enjoy the time with your family and friends and soak in the experience.

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Challenging Myself | Behind the Apron

As I realize that we have already been in Rwanda for almost 3 months and time is quickly flying by, I sat down to think about what are my goals during our 2 years here {well, now 21 months} and in life in general. From the get-go I have said this was going to be a great opportunity to finally take some time to challenge myself and to delve into the things I love most, which I didn’t always have time to dedicate to in the past or the energy to do so at the end of a workday. I’ve really only done this intermittently since arriving here in December with trying to get adjusted to the food and the change from what I was used to as well as trying to get ourselves settled into our new home here.

With all the unpacking done, although not all organized, I began to think about how fleeting our time is, seems like just yesterday: I was playing without a care in the world with my neighborhood friends or at the pool or playing soccer; graduating high school (the 10 year reunion facebook page brought me back there really quickly!); meeting my husband; graduating college; and the list goes on and on. The same can be said for the two short years that we will be in Rwanda and whatever posting after that. I know I’m not the only one who has ever said, I’d love to do this or spend more time doing that, but you don’t always seem to get around to it. Next thing you know years have past but your desire hasn’t wavered or maybe your interests change slightly.

I decided today that I would set out a list of goals for myself that I want to accomplish in the next 2 years, although most would carry over afterward as well. This is not simply a new year’s resolution which usually gets forgotten once the year gets rolling when other obligations get in the way or are an excuse to use to tell yourself why you are neglecting those resolutions you set for yourself. The goals I have outlined for myself are ones that I can look at on a daily basis and evaluate how I’m doing and what improvements I should make to my goals as I achieve them or realize new ones as well. It is a way that I can say, “you are only cheating yourself!”… a sort of personal accountability.

In my last job we had performance appraisals at the end of each year, where we had to rate ourselves and be rated by management for how well we accomplished the objectives that were set out for us in a number of categories and what was the “so what” of what we spent all year working on. Having used that metrics system for a number of years now, I think I naturally resorted to using a similar approach to my own goals focusing on three specific areas: personal, professional, and interpersonal. Of course, this blog and my culinary journey is a big part of my personal goals – actually has it’s own sub-category.

Over the next two years, I plan to spend more time improving my cooking skills, sharing those I’ve learned, recipes and cuisines I’ve tried, improving my food photography skills (and photography in general as it has always been a passion of mine), and challenge myself to expand my palette. This means you all get a front row seat to what I do in these two years and what I see on travels to explore Rwanda and Africa at large!

As far as professional, this category covers a wide array of goals focusing on challenging myself in the workplace, taking every opportunity to grow and learn new skills, and to increase my network of resources for now and in the future. This is an area that I would argue I have been successful with in the past, however, as I embark on new experiences with Embassy employment in the coming months, it is something that I want to ensure I start right off the bat to get the most out of it.

For interpersonal, I want to work on things like being more social and adventurous in the opportunities that come my way with regard to other people. Many of my friends and coworkers in the past have always scoffed when I’ve said that I am a shy person. Since meeting my husband, the charismatic social butterfly that he is, I have been able to become more comfortable in social settings when I don’t know anyone and occasionally even relish the opportunity to put myself in situations that growing up would have scared me. I would say to some degree that this has helped improve my public speaking skills by increasing my confidence in being able to communicate with others. Of course, this is an area where I know I can continue to improve. This lifestyle of moving every couple years, is a perfect way to force myself into these situations, so why not take full advantage of it.

All this is to say, that I hope to share some of my accomplishments with all of you not just the culinary related ones!

2015: A New Year | New Places, Cuisines, and Adventures

After a several month hiatus from {A Hint of Ginger} filled with preparing, packing up, and saying goodbye to friends and family, my husband and I are starting off 2015 in Rwanda. His job as a diplomat at the US Embassy in Kigali has brought us here for the next two years. The whirlwind of the last few months have been filled with excitement, anxiety, and anticipation. As we settle in to our new life here, we are already keenly aware of the opportunities that living in Africa will provide us, including a chance to explore East African cuisine. Stay tuned for tales of our foodie and travel adventures and as I learn to adjust to high altitude cooking.

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New Year’s Eve and Day | Celebrating

My husband and I are big fans of having lots of get togethers to try out recipes, enjoy great company, and make lots of memories with them. New year’s eve was a perfect excuse to do just that! Our potluck menu was filled with way more food than we needed…scallop dip, artichoke dip, caprese and prosciutto skewers, ham and swiss sliders, spicy elk meatballs, baked penne, buffalo chicken dip, pecan pie, seven layer peppermint bars, and champagne jell-o shots with pop rocks on top. We had so much, I didn’t even make the baked brie that is always a huge hit. Our night was full of laughter, friendly competition during a few rounds of {landmines} and {catch phrase}, lots of noise makers and poppers at midnight, glitter, and resolutions for 2014!

Even better than a wonderful New Year’s Eve with friends, is New Year’s Day with family! After waking up relatively early and quickly cleaning out the kitchen and air mattresses and confetti in the living room, I went to work getting my appetizers together for celebrating the start of 2014 with my family {Praline Pecan Baked Brie, Butternut Squash Tart with Fried Sage and Shaved Parmesan, and Stuffed Endives}. This year, with all of us on my mom’s side scattered about for Christmas, we decided to just do a simple get together of appetizers only to be easy and casual. Of course, in my family nothing is ever simple, easy, or casual. We tend to feel like there will not be enough food and we all get so excited to try new things out that we have found online or from a friend or to stick to family favorites that everyone loves. This get together was no different….each family brought at least 3 appetizers on top of what my mom had put together as the host. But the benefit of appetizers is you can try lots of different things…only problem is you can quickly stuff yourself. It was absolutely worth every single calorie consumed.

Happy New Year from {A Hint of Ginger}!!! May this year bring you good cheer, great opportunities, and cooking inspiration!

{Butternut squash tart with fried sage and shaved parmesan, stuffed endives, celery stuffed with blue cheese, shrimp, fruit skewers with coconut and cool whip dip, praline pecan baked brie, a platter filled with olives, meats, fruits, and cheeses, asparagus wrapped with cheese and roast beef, meatballs and dipping sauces, buffalo chicken dip, veggies and dip, nut and pretzel party mix, seven layer peppermint bars, champagne jell-o shots, and lots of other munchies}