March 27, 2017
Overnight Oats - 3 Ways

Overnight Oats - 3 Ways

March 27, 2017
Overnight Oats 3 Recipes
On my quest to stop eating sugar, I adopted overnight oats as my go to breakfast. I used to have a sweet tooth and I thought I wasn't going to be able to live without sugar but after a few months I stopped having cravings.

Being a foodie I eat first and foremost for pleasure. I need to enjoy what I eat otherwise I'm not satisfied. I won't feel full until I've tasted something that I really like. For instance, if I eat a meal that is not my cup of tea, I will need dessert. Now, there are two ways in which I feel satisfied by a meal:

1. I love the taste of it (even though sometimes it may not be the healthiest thing in the world, i.e. cheese, chocolate...)
2. Maybe I'm not crazy about the flavor but it's healthy, therefore I like it. I guess that has something to do with the subconscious... I feel so good after eating healthy food.

So since I started this sugar-free diet, I've been adding to my recipe box meals that are healthy and that I love the taste such as overnight oats.
Overnight Oats 3 Recipes
Overnight oats are a time saver. You prepare them before going to bed and you wake up to a pretty much served breakfast. You can even take them to work with you if you are on a hurry. Pour the overnight oats in a small glass mason jar and put it in your bag. So no excuses to have a proper breakfast!

Another advantage is that you can use your favorite fruit or nuts and mix them in any way you want. There's no right or wrong. They are very easy to make, all you have to do is start with the base recipe below and then add any ingredients you fancy. I've given you 3 options: apple, pumpkin and berries.
Pumpkin is my favorite because it's like pumpkin pie in a jar!

Overnight Oats - 3 Ways: Base recipe


1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup milk (any type: almond, soy...)
1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 fair pinch salt
1 - 3 tsp honey

Add oats, milk, yogurt, salt and honey to a 16 oz. (500ml) jar or bowl. Then add the rest of the ingredients listed below depending on the flavor you want (don't add toppings until the next day). Stir, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Overnight Oats 3 Recipes
overnight oats oatmeal breakfast take-away mason jar

Overnight Oats - 3 Ways: Apple

1/2 cup chopped sweet apples
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp chopped pecans, for topping

overnight oats oatmeal breakfast take-away mason jar apple cinnamon walnuts

Overnight Oats - 3 Ways: Pumpkin

1/3 cup pumpkin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp dried cranberries, for topping
1 tbsp raw unsalted pumpkin seeds, for topping

overnight oats oatmeal breakfast take-away mason jar pumpkin pie

Overnight Oats - 3 Ways: Berries

1/2 cup fresh berries such as strawberries (chopped), blueberries or raspberries
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

overnight oats oatmeal breakfast take-away mason jar strawberries cranberries
Adapted from Cooking Classy

Do you see food as a necessity or pleasure? How do you satisfy your cravings?

Check out more delicious recipes here

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March 13, 2017
California, I love you / Being an Au-Pair

California, I love you / Being an Au-Pair

March 13, 2017
being an au pair in california

When I brainstorm ideas for blog posts the first thing I think about is how you can benefit from my experiences. Many friends ask me about my year as an au-pair. It’s a great way to improve your English without breaking the bank1.  So today I’m going to introduce you to the world of au-pairs.

I'm from Spain and I've lived in England, Ireland and the USA. Living abroad is something I always recommend. Everyone should do it at some point in their lives. It should be compulsory! It opens your mind and it's such a rewarding experience. Even if it’s just to have stories to tell your grandchildren, do it.

Living in California had been my dream since I was a little girl. The Golden State is portrayed like the best place to live in countless movies or TV shows. Beautiful people and houses, palm trees and beaches. Maybe it’s all stereotypes but I became obsessed with it. I mean, who didn’t want to live the O.C. life? 

In 2008 I had finished university but I wasn’t ready for a steady job, I felt I still had to live my biggest adventure to date. I started looking into options to move to California. I didn’t want to continue studying since I already had a degree so I looked into job positions. Getting a visa is the hardest thing so the best thing to do is go with something arranged from home like an exchange program. And that’s how I became an au-pair.I applied for the program and asked to be matched with a family in California. If you want a specific location it takes longer to find a host family but after a few months I got an email saying that there was a family for me near San Francisco. The process of application is quite tedious since you have to fill in many forms, get a medical report, a criminal record certificate and a psychological test. At that moment it never seemed to end!


Here’s a quick summary of the main characteristics of the au-pair program. The program is for ages 18-26 and you have to spend at least a year with your host family. Then, even if your visa has expired, you can extend for 6, 9 or 12 months. There are many advantages. As an au pair, you receive a weekly stipend of $200 during your stay with your host family. Your hosts provide room and board, so you won't need to worry about paying for housing or meals during your time in the U.S. Your hosts also provide you with up to $500 per year for classes at a local college or university. Finally, they also pay for your plane ticket to their location and then back home when you’ve completed the program. Many people are worried about doctor bills since there isn’t universal healthcare in the US but au-pairs an accident and sickness insurance. This is a work and travel program, so once you successfully complete your time with your host family, you may stay in the United States for an additional 30 days. You can use this time to travel around the U.S.; however, you are not permitted to work.

In August 2009 I packed my bags and was ready to go. When I arrived in the United States I had to attend a comprehensive Orientation and Training program that takes place in New York. I was given training in childcare and safety and had the chance to visit New York! It took place at the New Yorker Hotel where I shared a room with 3 other girls. It was a really fun experience and I made some great friends from all around the world.

new york radio city broadway
m&m new york
new york squirrel central park
Even though it was overall a wonderful experience there are hard times. The one that I remember most vividly was when the training program ended. We had to say our goodbyes and head to our host family’s home. That moment of realization came as a heavy blow2. I had agreed to spend a whole year with strangers in a house across the country and the moment of truth had finally arrived. I was at La Guardia airport and I was terrified. After all, whether you make it or break it3 as an au-pair will depend on your relationship with your hosts. I was extremely lucky. My host family is a loving and caring family with whom I still keep in touch. They welcomed me into their home with open arms and treated me like one of them. As hard as it is for us to devote one year of our lives to strangers, you have to think that they are probably feeling the same way. Host families are opening their houses and letting a stranger take care of their little ones. 

Unfortunately, all that glitters is not gold4. Not everyone was as lucky as I was. I had friends who didn’t get on well with their hosts. Some switched to different families, others were not ready for this experience and went back home. I know people who were doing house chores even though you are not supposed to. Also, some had to deal with troubled parents. However, even at hard times having a good relationship with the family depends on your mood or predisposition. If you want things to work out, they will!

Another issue you may face is homesickness. A few months after moving to California I started thinking about home and I began to appreciate little things that I always took for granted. However, I wasn’t alone. Each month, our Local Coordinator (a person who lives nearby and is always there if you need help) organized a meeting for all of the au-pairs in the area. We did a different activity every time. For instance, I helped out in the San Francisco Food Bank, visited Alcatraz and went ice-skating among other things. That’s how I met most of my friends. I already talked about the unbreakable bonds and friendships I established in this article.

being an au pair in california
being an au pair in california
being an au pair in california

The most rewarding part of this experience? The people I met. Some of those friendships are going to last forever and I couldn’t be happier to have those people in my life. The worst part is that you can see them as often as you’d like to. However, they are a great excuse to travel! We can meet in a different location every year or visit each other at home. I also got to visit San Francisco a few more times. A year after coming back to Spain I was invited by my hosts to go back for a few weeks. And I’ve visited them two more times after that. This summer I will see some of this wonderful people at my wedding.

If you’d like to know more about being an au-pair or have any questions hit me up with an email (memoriesofthepacific@gmail.com) or leave a comment below. I’d also like to know if there’s anyone interested in more posts on this topic because. If so, I’ll write more “becoming an au-pair” posts.

xo Cristina


TRAVEL ESSENTIALS


English corner

Even though most of my readers come from the US, there are people who read the blog to practice their English. Since the teacher in me never sleeps I decided to create an English corner on my posts to explain useful expressions.

1breaking the bank - to use up all your money
2heavy blow – emotional impact 
3make it or break it - used to describe a decision, event, or period of time that is very important because it can make something succeed or fail ompletely.
4 all that glitters is not gold - not everything that looks precious or true turns out to be so.