Good Eats

What have I been up to lately? Practicing and playing matches of course. I catch up on my fave TV shows (Grey’s and a few others). I read here and there. But you may or may not know, I LOVE to cook. Cooking, baking- basically whipping up something delicious in the kitchen is so fun to me.

As a professional athlete and health conscious person, I try to eatpretty healthy most of the time, but I cannot deny my affection for chocolate and sweets. My teammates and roommates have realized I love to make scrumptious, sugar-coma inducing sweets- as long as I can pawn them off on other people 😉

I’ve tried to take some pictures of my recent completions, but oftentimes sometimes we are so hungry or the dish tastes SO good, we don’t even have the time to think and document it. Like the pumpkin pie I most recently made for Thanksgiving. I promise I made one, it just ended up in our bellies before the whole ‘take a picture’ idea could be remembered.

Worth noting- Kristy is my partner in crime in the kitchen. We’ve tackled a lot of these recipes together, and Coop is full supportive 🙂 We’re Pinterest obsessed and realized that 90% of my pins are food recipes and ideas. Sorry I’m not sorry!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing EVERYONE a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving 🙂

Being in another country away from your family and friends for holidays is tough. It makes you think about what and who you’re missing. And on this Thanksgiving (as with most of them) I want nothing more than to be waking up in my bed in West Chester, having my dad whip up some French toast while we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; and start digging out the Christmas decorations with Hanson’s Snowed In CD playing while mom mans the kitchen. (Us Hagglund’s are not one bit ashamed to say that we LOVE the Hanson Christmas CD. Our Xmas music go-to) But alas, I haven’t actually had that Thanksgiving in 6 years now.

Even though I want nothing more than to have that Thanksgiving morning at home, I am so thankful that it is a memory these days.

For the first 4 Thanksgiving’s I missed, I was out playing volleyball at UW. Every year we had a match the day before and the day after Thanksgiving; we’d practice the morning of, with Jim always calling, “Pilgrims! Come here!” to start it off. UW was such a blessing for me and I am thankful that I played volleyball at that program, got my education there, and lived in Seattle. The friends, relationships, and experiences from those 4 years are untouchable.

Last year’s Thanksgiving I was in Vienna, Austria in my first season as a Professional Volleyball Player. How blessed am I to be able to say that I lived in Vienna for 7 months, being payed to play a game I love? It still doesn’t register to me that I’m a ‘Professional Athlete’ most days. Even with it’s ups and downs (there were plenty), there were so many life lessons I figured out, places I got to see, and new experiences I would NEVER otherwise be exposed to and I am thankful for the good and the not so good that came my way.

And now I’m in Nantes, France. Currently in my second professional season. Still waking up in the morning, and if someone asks me what I do for a living, the first two words I say are “I play…” I’m thankful for my Kristy and Coop, my fellow Americans keeping me sane, as well as the rest of my teammates and staff who only want us to succeed and be happy.

I’m glad that Thanksgiving memory at home is just that: a memory. It means I have been LIVING. So many adventures- new places, new people- I have been blessed to have opportunities to travel and try new things and see the world.

Like I said earlier, being away from friends and family on holidays is tough, but it’s because those people are so loving, so supportive, so precious to me that makes it tough. I am THANKFUL that you all make the holidays hard on me, because missing you would be easy if you all weren’t so amazing.

I hope everyone has a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

We (Coop, Kristy, Kristy’s boyfriend Shawn, and I) celebrated a day early. I made the meat, stuffing, gravy, and some pumpkin pie; Coop whipped up the most unbelievable yams as well as mashed potatoes, and Kristy brought the green bean casserole, some red velvet cake, and of course wine 😉 We had a small but amazing feast and celebration together.

Couple funny stories

First, I couldn’t find an actual turkey here in France. I tried the 2 main super markets without luck. So I had a contingency plan. I picked up a turkey leg and some other turkey ‘ball’ (I think it really was the turkey’s butt). I also wanted to grab a small chicken since Coop and Kristy didn’t usually have turkey for Thanksgiving anyways. So I grabbed one from the ‘special offer’ sale section and headed on my way. Little did I realize that I didn’t grab the ‘poulet’ (chicken), but some ‘pintade’… Guinea Fowl! What the heck?! Yeah, well there was no turning back! I told Kristy about my blunder and she says, “Well, are we still gonna eat it?” “Heck yes we’re gonna eat it!!!” It turned out to be a big hit too. Maybe we’ll even buy it again sometime 🙂

So, like I said we ate our large Thanksgiving meal (no one in their right mind wants to and is able to practice self restraint on Thanksgiving) Wednesday evening. Pretty late too, since our practice let out at 8pm. We walk into practice the next morning, still pretty swollen from dinner and what prey tell is our coach setting up? The SCALE. Yes. We were weighed in less than 12 hours after our Thanksgiving meal. That is just cruel and unusual. And ridiculously bad timing!

Happy Halloween!

I started talking to my teammates about Halloween a few weeks ago. Halloween in Europe really isn’t. Yes, a few stores, especially candy shops will have some pumpkin type candies and decorations, but Halloween is not the holiday it is in America with the trick-or-treating, costume parties, pumpkin patches, haunted houses and such.

So my French teammates have never really celebrated Halloween… and what does that mean for us? Party time 🙂
Last night everybody got dressed up and we had dinner and lots of desserts at a friends house. My teammates went ALL OUT. Seriously above and beyond any costume expectations I had. I’ll try to post the pics of their costumes when I get copies 🙂

Kristy and I took a semi-easy way out, dressing up as the 3 time Olympic Champion duo of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings but with a little twist- we were the zombie versions 😉 It even got a us a retweet from Kerri on twitter. Yes, we were super excited about it. No, we’re not ashamed to admit it!

3x Beach VB Champions of the Underworld!

It was a really fun little evening. I made pumpkin cranberry bread with pumpkin spiced cream cheese dip (it is to die for), and brought along some baked pumpkin seeds and candy corn, which most of the girls have never seen before. Hope everyone at home has a safe, fun, and spooky Halloween!

Always the Bridesmaid…

Our 3rd and final tournament of preseason is over, and our third 2nd place all wrapped up. Boo. We played in Riom, France which is a 5 hour drive from Nantes.

Riom, France

The tournament was only between 3 teams- us, Albi, and Beziers- all 1st division French teams we will play this season. It was an interesting format as well: we played both teams Saturday and Sunday, each 2 out of 3. Overrall we went 3-1 (beating Albi twice, and splitting with Beziers), but we dropped one set more than Beziers so 2nd it is.
The good news is we definitely made progress compared to our performance last weekend. AND I got to see Alesha Deesing!

Me and Dees 🙂

I haven’t seen Dees in maybe a year, but we played together back in 2007 when I was a freshman at UW and she was a senior. It was awesome playing with her then, and I wish I could do it again!
We are now officially less than a week away from our first real league match! 😀 I’ve been looking forward to this for 7 weeks, time to really get down to business!
Some highlights from the week before:
We had a *mostly* day off last Monday… until that evening. The club hosted a press conference and ‘meet the team’ event for the public. Although it was tough on us because it was such a long function (4 hours… and it gets extra long when you don’t understand anything people are saying) but it’s so awesome to see the sponsors and supporters of the club, and that they’re actually invested and excited about our team.
On Tuesday night I had everybody come over to my apartment for Mexican Night 🙂 We had Wednesday off, so we finally got to blow off some steam Tuesday night. I whipped up a full taco bar- shredded chicken, ground beef taco meat, black beans from scratch, fajita veggies, pineapple peach mango salsa, and all the toppings. Did I mention the margaritas? First off, more than a few girls have NEVER had a margarita before (that kind of inspired Mexican night). Second off, it was actually really difficult to find tequila and a margarita mix in the grocery store. There was only 4 types of tequila to pick from. I was walking up and down the aisles, “Here, Jose Jose Jose… where are chu??” No Cuervo around, just 4, not so well stocked brands to choose from. But it got the job done! It was a really fun, relaxing team night. And the margaritas were well received 😉

Pineappe Peach Mango Salsa… to die for

On Wednesday, Kristy, Coop, and I did some shopping- our favorite past time. I bagged my first real purchase here, a cute winter jacket from H&M. Nothing extravagant, but I love it, and am sure I will put it to good use shortly with the weather changing.
Thursday night the American trio whipped up a cauliflower pizza! Kristy and I are a wee bit pinterest crazy, and LOVE all the funky/healthy/yummy recipes you can find on there. So we’ve been planning on attempting this for a little while. It’s a pizza made of cauliflower crust, so kinda healthy. It was pretty good, except it pretty much just made me crave normal pizza. I’m a bit like my mom: the crust makes the pizza!

Cauliflower Pizza

Friday we set out to Riom for the tournament. It was a 5 hour drive that we took rented vans for, but the drive went relatively quickly. First off, I watched the season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy and was tearing up every 15 minutes! LOVE THAT SHOW! And then I started trying to learn how to scout matches on Data Volley. Data Volley is a program that helps you to ‘code’ and scout a volleyball match. I’m very familiar with it from college and USA, but my coaches here are just trying to learn. It’s tough for them because it’s all in English, so I’m trying to make it a little bit easier for them. I now understand how important the support staff and statisticians that are ‘fluent in data volley’ are!

Entrance to the restrooms at a gas station. Got me really ‘excited’ to use it.

Home Sweet Nantes

After 5 days in La Baule, I was sure happy to get back to my apartment in Nantes. Even though training camp was at ‘the beach,’ we only saw it 3 times. 2 of the 3 was during workouts, and the other time was for 15 minutes when we first arrived. It was a long trip with lots of practices and workouts but it was a great experience.

I was most excited to get out of my top bunk and back into my large, grounded, unsqueaky bed in Nantes.

Besides volleyball conditioning and practices we had 2 team activities while in La Baule. On Wednesday we went kayaking in the Atlantic Ocean! I’ve paddled around lakes and bays before, but I’ve never actually been out on an ocean. Not that we went so far out, but it was neat! And definitely a workout! We got to a certain part of the water and practiced the proper protocol if a fellow kayak-er was in trouble: gather the rest of the boats side by side and hold them tight together. The injured kayak-er would then have their boat laying across the front of all other boats. Once our position was secure, the instructor climbed out and ran across all the boats- sounds easy, right? Nope! Me, our head coach and 3 other teammates all tried without the same success. I got maybe halfway across before resorting to crawling and then jumping into the water 🙂
On Friday, we had our second team activity- a high ropes course! I haven’t done a ropes course since I was 15, and I was pretty pumped for it. We got to bounce around in a fun section before the real stuff began. After listening to all the safety instructions we set out for our journey in the trees! There were some REALLY difficult obstacles to get through/across/around, and then there were a bunch of nicer ones where we basically just zip-lined our way through (my faves). It was a great activity to communicate, problem solve, and support one another.
Friday was our last evening in La Baule (still had 2 practices Saturday before we could leave), but after the evening practice our coach explained that he’s been really happy with the week, with our effort and energy in practices and the activities. He said something along the lines of: we work very hard, in every aspect, and then sometimes, it’s alright to go out and indulge. So he allowed us to take a short walk to a restaurant that makes the most INCREDIBLE waffles, to indulge in those and have some ‘off-the-court team time.’ I am still dreaming about those waffles… actually it’s the ‘chantilly’ or whipped cream they put on top that sold me. My mother, a whipped cream connoisseur, would have definitely approved 🙂
But now we’re so happy to be back in our little city. Today was a well deserved day off. Took a little stroll through the Nantes Jazz Fest, but that’s for another post 😉  Bon Nuit!