Thursday, January 30, 2014

Under Construction

So, Gumption is getting a make over! As we speak. I'm so excited and can't wait for you to see!

That has been one of the reasons for this bout of silence, but we also didn't have internet for almost a week and both hubby and I were down and out with flu/sinus infections. But we are both doing better, the internet is back, and I should be back next week with the new look of Gumption and more fantastic content. 

Hope to see you again then! :)


Monday, January 20, 2014

5 easy tips for eating healthier now

Hi all! How'z it? (As South Africans would say.)

While January is in full swing, I still tend to think of January/February (hey, we can even push it into March) as "the new year". So, in keeping with bettering ourselves in 2014, I have tapped into the editorial and nutritional brilliance of my dear friend, Monica. I think most people want to either lose weight or "eat healthier" at the start of every year, but what does that look like? Monica and I have been close friends since high school and I think she is just the best. She blogs over at The Dietitian and the Dog, and although she is knew to the blogging world, her writing is superb - humorous, honest, and healthy! 

Monica and Madeline

Here are Monica's five tips for being healthy this year, plus her response to a few items I heard were questionable. 

1. Drink more water. There's nothing more hydrating and sustaining than good old fashioned tap water. No need to spend money on bottled water, in fact, it may be missing the fluorine that tap water has and then you're setting yourself up for risk of cavities. If you're a professed 'water hater' (you know who you are, dehydrated souls) try slicing cucumbers/oranges/apples/melon and letting them marinate in a water pitcher for a day. Your water will be magically flavored. You can also try carbonated water, but I'm not trying to sit next to Burps McGee afterward.

2. Taste the rainbow. No, not you, Skittle fiends. I mean FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. They are nature's candy! Nothing in our food supply is more potently anti-cancer due to their concentrated anti-oxidant levels. Fruits and veggies are also mostly water, so again here I go on my hydration tirade. They've got fiber, flavor, can be cooked/roasted/poached/grilled/eaten raw/frozen/smoothi-ed and harbor lots of magical little things called phytochemicals that work in mysterious ways to combat cell damage and that cannot be isolated into pills. Aim for 2-3 fruits a day, and 4-6 servings of vegetables. Try sneaking cauliflower into rice and macaroni and cheese, and snack on fruits between meals.

3. Go Fish. Sorry Nemo, but fish are indeed food, and not friends. (See quote "Fish are Friends, Not Food.") No other source of protein is as anti-inflammatory and not to mention delicious and versatile. All fish have omega-3 fatty acids, which are a happy kind of fat that protect against heart disease and combat inflammation. To avoid mercury buildup, stick to SMASH - Salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardine, herring. Canned tuna is always a good choice as well. Beware of farmed fish, which usually contain higher levels of mercury and are pent up and fed unnatural and pretty nasty feed.

4. Yo!, Gurt. Introduce yogurt into your diet, ideally, daily. Yogurt, especially the Greek strains, are packed with protein, calcium, and most importantly, probiotics - which are happy friendly bacteria that displace more virulent strains and promote bowel regularity and health. Probiotics have been shown to reduce the incidence of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and gas. Try plain, nonfat Greek Yogurt, and add fruit or honey to taste.

5. To be Whole is Holy. Rid yourself of refined grains, and aim to make most of your grains whole. It doesn't have to be just whole wheat bread, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta. There's an arsenal of whole grains commercially available now - quinoa, barley, spelt, kamut, amaranth, buckwheat, the list goes on!  Try quinoa hot in the morning like oatmeal, or buckwheat pancakes. The fiber, B vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that are stripped away in processing refined grains will be so happy you saved them.

I asked Monica about the following: orange juice, tofu, and whole wheat bread. From a source that will not be named, I heard that these were actually bad for you. Here's what she said to that:

1. Orange Juice - not the devil, but it's easy to overdo. I use it as more of a treat and when I do, it's fresh squeezed and full of pulp and no extra additives! Literally.. orange in a juicer. And just 1 cup of it. Or in a mimosa. The other crap they market as orange juice is a waste. Pure sugar. Lots of Vitamin C but it's much better to just... eat a REAL orange. Imagine that!

2) Tofu - Complete source of soy protein, rich in calcium, low in fat. What is the issue?!?!? There is some evidence that soy products and their phytoestrogens which act like weak hormones can mess with the hormone system and are linked to breast cancer but nothing terribly compelling and I definitely would not avoid it. It takes on any flavor and is easy to prepare and cheap.

3) Whole wheat bread (they said you should only eat whole GRAIN). What looney tune are you getting these things from?? The gold standard of whole wheat bread is anything that on the label reads "100% whole wheat" is legit only whole wheat flour. Anything that says "whole grain" ismisleading, it can still have white flour in it!! However, I am all about different types of whole grains like oats, quinoa, spelt, kamut, rye, etc. Just make sure when you read the ingredients there's no 'enriched' flour or white flour!
now I want a sandwich :(

Thanks so much for the tips, Monica!

Are you trying to eat better this year? What changes are you making?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Follow me on Bloglovin!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin 

I changed the address of Gumption, so make sure you change this on Bloglovin or any bookmarks. :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

First Class vs. Economy

Is it worth it?

As I briefly mentioned in my great Christmas surprise, I won a free upgrade to "upper class" on Virgin Atlantic Airways! It was Christmas Eve and the Virgin staff decided to have a competition: briefly sing a Christmas song in front of everyone, as boarding takes place, and you could win a free upgrade. So, I did. And I won! And oh was it worth it!

The 15 minutes of nerves were nothing compared to the six hours of complete and restful sleep I got, as I flew from Johannesburg to London. And the food was definitely better. And the duvet cover. And the foot rest. And the pajamas. (Yes! Pyjamas!?)

But is it worth it? To my great embarrassment, I seriously struggled being back in economy the other three legs of my trip (London - Miami; Miami - London; London - Johannesburg.) I could hardly sleep, my TV set thing didn't work (on one leg), and there are no free pyjamas. (Ok, that's actually fine.) But in all seriousness, the upper class tickets are about FOUR times as much as the economy tickets! (I just had a mild heart attack.) Really, go check. I could probably plan a whole additional holiday for that price.

Even though upper/first class makes travelling long distances UNBELIEVABLY comfortable and luxurious, do you think it's really worth it?

I kind of can't decide.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Introducing!: Gumption

Last year, I started taking an e-course on blogging. The course was created by one of the writers of A Beautiful Mess, one of my favorite blogs. It's an exceptionally helpful and honest course on how to either start blogging or how to get your blog to where you want it to be. Elsie's writing is candid, fun and personable. I highly recommend it!

So, in an effort to take my blog to where I want it to be, and in light of thing I have been learning from the course, I have some new and exciting changes to announce!

First off, the title of this blog, Something Slightly Resembling Gumption, has had a special place in my heart for a long time. You can read the story of how and why I named the blog that here. Even as my life has changed and this blog has evolved, the name always seemed to fit. I've always loved what it means to have gumption and I always need a bit more of it. At every stage of my life, in various circumstances and events, I have needed something slightly resembling gumption.

But it is a mouthful. I've vacillated over what I should change the name of my blog to, but I couldn't seem to part with "Something Slightly Resembling Gumption", or find anything else that I felt encompassed what I want this blog to be about. This led me to really define what my blog is all about.

So, as 2014 begins, so begins another new beginning for this blog. Gumption is behind everything I write; whether personal experiences, travel adventures, trying out new things, or just having the courage to write and hear what people think. Therefore, I have decided to rename this blog to simply: Gumption.

Gumption is a lifestyle and travel blog that strives to inspire people from all walks of life to live a life of gumption and a life to the full. At Gumption, I share personal reflections, stories of inspiring people and moments, and so many of the little things that make my life richer, even magical at times! While inspiring my readers to live a full life, I also want people (but especially women) to see and believe that you can “have it all”: a life full of joy, growth, contentment, and adventure. Sometimes I talk about current affairs or events of historical significance (I was an international relations major in college and am just not ready to abandon my inclinations towards academia). Other times, I share things I’ve learned, or am learning, in and about life. And still on other occasions, I just share the things in my life that make me happy – my newest baking venture, home d├ęcor changes, or something unique to whichever country I find myself living in at the moment.  

Over the past couple months, I've started creating some weekly and monthly features, but there are more coming! More South African specific posts are on their way and 2014 will also bring some guest bloggers to Gumption. 

I am so excited for the future of this blog! I hope you will tag along. And whatever you find to relate to here, I hope it inspires you to live a full life and a life full of gumption.


PS - Gumption is getting a make over which will be revealed soon! :)

(Also, the picture above is an extremely old one, but it is a photo that always reminds me why I want to live a bold and brave experience so much more when you do. :) 

Friday, January 10, 2014

True Tales of Gumption - Tim Harris

I think (I hope?) I've always had a soft spot for people with disabilities or challenges that make them not fit in as naturally, but ever since working with students who have various challenges that soft spot has grown ten fold. I don't think I've mentioned what I do...I currently work with high school students with learning challenges. Our team helps both with skills development and actual subject material. I'm still scoping out if I want to be a teacher long term,but for now, I'm really enjoying it.

So, today's person of gumption is Tim Harris. He is a restaurant owner in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He also has Down Syndrome. Even if you don't know much about down syndrome, you can probably guess that the majority of people with his and similar challenges do not often get to do things like own their own restaurant. Tim's perseverance, abilities, and courage to work against the stereotypes and expectations (or lack thereof) of him, is incredibly inspiring.

Hope this kicks your weekend off to a great start!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Christmas around the world

If you were busy being festive and celebrating Christmas, you might have missed that I ended up going home to the US on Christmas Day and surprising my family. I traveled almost as long as I spent in Florida - four days. I flew from Joburg to London, London to Miami - four days in Miami - Miami back to London, London back to Joburg, and THEN Joburg to George. In George, my wonderful husband picked me up and we drove an hour to join his family in Plettenberg Bay. It was all a bit of a whirlwind, but just so wonderful. The above picture was from a walk on the beach I took with my family in Miami; it was quite a cloudy, drizzly day. Here are some more pictures, if you'd like to see.


After Christmas shopping with my brother (left) and South African brother (right)! The family I lived with for two years here in SA were in the US over December and stayed with family for a week.

We went to the Florida Keys and found this visor that gave my dad hair. Ha!

Sunset in the Florida Keys. No editing. :)

Brotherly love.

My South African sister.

My niece with her first pickle. She wouldn't bite it. 

Plettenberg Bay. We went to a different beach the next day and saw a seal swimming in the surf!

The most amazing husband in the world who made all this possible!


A sneak peak of something extraordinary I got to do! :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Reflections for the New Year

Happy New Year! 

I hope your holidays were wonderful and that your 2014 is off to a great start! I traveled over 40 hours between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day, so I am quite happy to be back at home and easing into normal life again. (And by easing I mean that I started work again today, but most of Joburg didn't, so it's still quite around this city.) I'll share some pictures and happenings from my holiday later this week.

Do you make new year's resolutions?

I used to and I think I've always liked the idea of them, but I rarely stick with them past March or so (big surprise). I do, however, think it is a brilliant idea to reflect on the year that has passed and think about what you want the next year to be and things you would like to try for.

I found some questions that are a great start, especially if you've never done this!

Here are some of the ones I've answered as I reflect on 2013 and 2014:

4. Where do I need to allow myself grace? On the days where it's hard living abroad. Those days will always happen and for legitimate and understandable reasons. And I will probably continue to adjust living in another country for a long time. 
5. Am I passionate about my career? I'm really passionate about blogging and want to keep working to somehow make this apart of my career. 
6. What lessons have I learned? To rely on God, to be humble, to embrace learning and growing and challenges. To be light and have fun! 
25. How can I be kind to myself? Be encouraging about the positive things and the victories! I too often focus on the negatives and where I don't feel I measure up. 

When I think about some of these questions and about 2013 for me, I feel like I actually have a lot to be  proud of and a lot to look forward to with this next year.

How did last year go? What's something you want to work on in 2014? What's a positive thing about 2013? (Don't forget to think about those! :)