December 30, 2015

I Will Not Resolve To...

Prepare! We are all about to read a lot of resolutions and goals. Tis the season! I like hearing and seeing what everyone plans on doing. There are a lot of things I plan to do myself, but I also thought, there are absolutely things that I will not be resolving to do:



I won't jump out of a perfectly good plane. AKA, skydive. Nope, no way. I have a deal with gravity. I'll keep my feet on the ground.

I won't run a 5k, 10k, marathon, etc...I will save the early morning call, the money, and my knee from any undo harm. 

I won't switch to Wordpress. I would like to be a great blogger, but to an extent, I am lazy and cheap. Plus I already know what i'm doing. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

I won't get a dog. I am sorry, I like my house without pet hair and plus I have a soft wood floor that would get all scratched up with a dog.

I won't cut out chocolate entirely. Sure I plan to cut back this year, but it is my only vice. I don't smoke, I have never had a carbonated beverage in my life, I have never tried drugs, and I don't drink coffee. Chocolate, you can stay.

I won't get all the things done I dream to do. Only the ones I plan out thoughtfully to do. (deep one there)

I won't take less pictures. In fact, I plan to take more. :-)



What will you not be doing this year?

December 28, 2015

Little Moments

I began to write a look back with a timeline of the big milestones from this past year, but then I got to thinking... years from now, we will probably still remember all those big events, but I want to remember the little things to. They make our day to day life what it is. I decided to capture a glimpse into the little details (okay and some big ones) of our year together so that someday, many years from now, we can can look back and smile and say "Oh forgot about that!" I hope to make this a yearly tradition!



Basically it was a great year of big and little things. 
New Year's here we come!

December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Yesterday we had our own little Christmas in Tucson. We woke up, put Christmas music on and plowed into unwrapping some gifts. It was everything a Christmas before Christmas should be– festive, relaxing, and happy. Kevin made out with some new sweaters, a sound bar, and some games. I came away with a nail polishes and scarves. Seriously perfect!


Today I work and then after Christmas my family is coming to visit to do an after Christmas celebration.

Despite the fact that I work Christmas and won't spend that time with my family, I am so lucky to have a family that makes time around my work schedule special. I will work to make those days equally special to them. But today, I will take care of other people and their family members today.


My wish to you today is to have a Merry Christmas with all the cookies you can eat and love to you and yours!

December 23, 2015

Holiday Work Wishes

I know I have written about this a lot, but working holidays is something I do not want anyone to take for granted. While most people will be spending the next few days enjoying their families, indulging in holiday foods, and enjoying their days off of work, many healthcare professionals will be hard at work at a place that never closes: the hospital. Some nurses are fortunate enough to have positions that don’t have holiday shift requirements and some nurses actually quite enjoy the festivity of hospital holidays and spending time with the patients who can’t go home for the sake of their healing and recovery.

Some nurses don’t celebrate the same holidays because of cultural or religious reasons and they happily volunteer to take those shifts for those of us who want to participate and we all appreciate their selflessness.

I often take holidays because one day when I have kids, I will want to spend Christmas morning with them and I hope that one day someone will take that shift for me as I have done for others.

I have spent my fair share of holidays at work sharing holiday cheer with my patients and families. Some holidays are quiet and uneventful while others are full of accidents, family disputes, and a fair few disasters. You just never know!

So happy holiday season to all of us who may be spending our holidays at work. I pray we all make it home safely to our families. I am thankful for my health and ultimately happy that I could make the holidays just a little bit brighter for the patients who don't have the option of going home.



Happy Holidays everyone!

December 21, 2015

Throwing a Star Wars Themed Party

Saturday my husband and his friends all came over and watched all the Star Wars movies. Where was I you ask? Work of course. But I joined them for the end of the last one and then we all went and saw the new movie.

My husband did a really good job with the help of his friends to throw an awesome Star Wars watch party! Below are some of the details and some drink recipes!



Since this was an all day affair, the group started the morning with a big group of cinnamon rolls with frosting that made the shape of the Death Star. My friend Hannah graciously helped out with the baking! Then for lunch some Bantha Bread, Galactic Chili, and Hoth Beers. Throughout the day they munched on some themed chocolates and cakes. Kevin started the Jedi and Sith Drinks (recipe below) and some Bantha Bread and Mustafar Meatballs (with spaghetti of course) for dinner. The chocolate molds served extra duty by letting Kevin making the ice for water themed as well!

Let me give you this recipe for the drinks. Using the same base was an easy way to make some pretty great looking force drinks.

The Sith and Jedi Drinks
Adapted from here

Ingredients:

3 parts vodka
1 part triple sec
dash of lemon juice
1.5 part blue curacau (for the Jedi drink)
1.5 red pomegranate schnapps (for the Sith drink)
champagne

*part can also mean ounce

Directions:

Pour vodka, triple sec, and lemon juice in a shaker over ice. Add your blue curacau or schnapps depending on what side you are on. Then strain into champagne glass till it reaches half way. Pour champagne into glass until it reaches the top.

May the force be with you!

_________________________________________________________________________________



I just have to say I am a proud mama to see my husband host his friends and all of them come together for such a fun party. I woke up early because apparently I am an adult. When did I become that person that no matter when I go to bed (which was late after the party) I wake up at the same time. Welcome to adulthood I guess. So now here I am bringing you this blog post, ignoring the mess in my kitchen.

I wish I had the force blogging. I just don't think it is with me, but dang I sure do try.
Here are ten ways the force is not with my when I blog:


1. I never really do my hair. It is always thrown in a ponytail.

2. My closet is super limited.

3. I don't and will not have a blog Facebook.

4. I am never on my personal Facebook.

5. I don't take staged photos.

6. I don't show at Target.

7. My nail polish chips way too often.

8. I don't know or want to know SEO or how to create my blog designs.

9. I don't get paid opportunities to blog.

10. I, sadly, take most pictures on my phone and have no props or backgrounds.


The best part of blogging? It allows you to be yourself...making all the above irrelevant.

May YOUR force be with you!

December 18, 2015

Preparing for a Big Meal

I like to host. I have hosted Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas. All successfully. This year I am hosting Christmas TWICE. Yep, you heard.

And let's face it, these holiday meals are all big meals. I honestly don't do a 16 pound turkey for dinner any other time besides Thanksgiving. Same goes for the nice ham on Easter or roast for Christmas.

I don't like going into these meals stressed, especially when you have other people around you and counting on you. Therefore, I like to get a lot of my prep done early. No surprise here, I seem to be doing that a lot lately. BUT hey...it's working! :-)

Advanced prep lets you be a happier host. I am all about that! Here are five simple ways I prep my kitchen for a holiday meal:



Make sure you have all your cooking gear
I know turkeys have those pop out timers, but do yourself a favor and get yourself your own cooking thermometer. They are crucial! Also, since you are adding more people, make sure you have enough pie dishes and pans for all your amazing plans! (Hey, good rhyme Lauren!)

Plan your menu
With the above said, plan out your menu. This way you know what dish everything is going in and what bowls will be used for what so you don't run into a day of situation not having what you need.

Make room
That is right, clear out your dishwasher before you start, make room in the fridge for everything and organize it all!

Make a plan for the table
You want to make sure you not only have all your cooking gear needed, but also everything you need to set a beautiful table!

Make some food ahead
Do what you can and freeze or refrigerate it before the big day. When you plan your menu, you can plan what needs to be made day of and what can be made beforehand.



Those are the primary things I try and do before my holiday meal.
What things do you do to prepare?

December 16, 2015

Being the Best Nurse I Can Be (as explained by GIFs)

Nurses work really hard. The other day, a doctor told me that I should go back to school to be a nurse practitioner. This doctor told me it is hard to maintain being a good nurse for a while. There is a lot of burn out.

That very same day, there were some of my fellow nurses who seemed annoyed that they had to be at work, had to be taking care of sick patients, and it sounded to me a little less than compassionate.

This made me realize. I am PROUD to be a nurse. Yes, I do a lot, but I will work hard everyday for the rest of my working life, to be the best I can be for people who NEED me.

Nurses are the best because we....

have so many residents to think about
27 Reasons Why Nurses Are Secretly Angels Living Among Us

And of course some of the patients think they are the only one I am taking care of.
...but people still expect them to show up the second they ring the call bell.


And sure, I am by no means perfect, but I always try and keep a smile on my face.
It is the same face when...

A patient that has tested all my patience and is discharged.

A patient/patient's family thanks me for taking care of them.


And while it is stressful there are always moments that make me understand why I do what I do.
It is the moments when...


There is great teamwork.

I see a patient progress and improve based off what I did.


I think I will be a nurse for a while...
And happy!


What makes you realize how much you love what you do?

December 14, 2015

Butternut Squash Soup

There are days where your brain just doesn't work. Like when I went to the grocery store to get a spaghetti squash and didn't realize until I got home that I bought a butternut squash.

Oops. At least I love butternut squash soup!

When I make butternut squash soup, I use a nifty little tool my in-laws got me called the Wonderbag (not paid in anyway to promote this!) If you haven't heard of a Wonderbag, it is a heat retention cooker. Basically it is like a crock pot that uses no electricity. (I have it in blue!)

Wonderbag was started by a woman who had grown up in rural Africa who created the idea as a way empower all women. For every Wonderbag purchased in the United States, they give a Wonderbag to a woman in Africa.

Pretty neat!







Ingredients:

1 butternut squash (peeled, de-seeded and cut into cubes)
1 yellow onion, diced
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of thyme
4 cups of stock
I use what I have, this year I used turkey stock after thanksgiving! You can also use chicken or vegetable stock!

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot in medium high heat. Add the onions and saute.

Add the butternut squash and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes.

Place the pot with the lid on in a Wonderbag for 2 hours.

Take the pot out of the Wonderbag and blend using a blender or food processor.

Season with salt and pepper if you wish (the husband does that) or top with thyme or almonds or even some shredded cheese (lauren does that!) and ENJOY!


What is your favorite kind of soup?
Do you have any unconventional cooking items in your kitchen?

December 11, 2015

De-stress Your Season

It is the time of year where we all have everything to do! I love Christmas and Thanksgiving, but they are close together and it can be hard to do everything you want.. I vote to move up Thanksgiving one month earlier. Anyone else with me?

Well since that is not happening, this year, I came up with five things to do on/before Thanksgiving to get ready for Christmas. This will make it so that I will be able to focus on the fun that is the Christmas holiday season!



Fix Your Address Book
Organize your address book, make sure it is updated and accurate. Send a text/email to ask for new addresses you need updated. It will make doing your Christmas cards easier too. Put a star next to the list of people you will be sending cards to. Go buy stamps too. You can never have too many around this time of year!


Pick Your Christmas Cards
This year was hard. I tried to do mine before Thanksgiving and they turned out terrible. They appeared they were printed on cheap paper and by a cheap printer with cheap ink. But I guess they say everything happens for a reason. I used some Cyber Monday seasons to order some new Christmas cards. I think next year I may start looking even earlier too. Obviously this means taking a picture before this time of year too...


Make Your Gift List
Be thorough in thinking of what you need for everyone. This will include: 
Family
Friends
Neighbors
Bosses/Co-workers
Teachers/Babysitters (if you have kids)
Neighbors
Gift Exchanges
Hostess Gifts for Parties

Then fill in possible gift ideas! Then when you go shopping, you have this list. Furthermore, when there is a spur of the moment sale, you aren't caught off guard and have a generalized plan to help you! No impulse buys around the holidays!


Let Technology Help You
This year my husband made a purchase that I thought was crazy...turns out, it was quite genius. He got us this remote that can help us turn on and off our Christmas Tree lights and a couple of other nice lights. This will be a perfect addition to the holiday season when you are wanting to de-stress on the couch watching a Christmas Vacation. It really de-stresses you any time, but when there are more lights, to turn on and off, this does help! Who knows, there is probably more technologically savvy things out there to help us! Seek them! 


Put up Your Christmas Tree
So this year I got mine all up and done so that after Thanksgiving I could focus on the outdoor lights (with the help of my husband who doesn't think ladders and me mix, haha). But then again, I traveled for Thanksgiving. Would I do that if I was hosting Thanksgiving too? Maybe. We will have to see...


What do you do to help organize/de-stress your holiday season?

December 9, 2015

Navajo Tacos

Growing up in New Mexico surrounded me with a lot of Southwestern/Mexican flair in my food. It is no wonder that when I need comfort food, I turn to it. My husband also grew up in New Mexico so he feels the same. 

Now growing up in the same town, you would think we ate a lot of the same foods, but when I entered my (to be future) in-law's home and ate Navajo Tacos, I was forever a changed girl! These are a staple in my husband's house. I loved going over and eating them and had always been nervous about making them myself. I don't know why, because my husband and I got into the kitchen together and made these hot little things and it was EASY and FANTASTIC.

This recipe uses my husband's classic meat mix. He uses variations of this in tacos and burritos. It also features Fry Bread which is not only amazing in this dish, but a great dessert. Yep! At the end of your meal, your Fry Bread turns into a great dessert Sopapilla! Just slather some honey onto it and you won't be sorry!


Ingredients:

Fry Bread:
1 1/4 cup of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of milk
2 cups of vegetable oil for frying

Meaty Mix:
1 lb of ground beef
3/4 cup of water

Toppings:
shredded cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce
diced tomatoes

Directions:

Brown your beef in a skillet, drain. Then add all seasonings and water and stir in. Cover and simmer on low. Set aside.

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Then add milk. Mix together to form the dough. Kneed on a lightly floured surface.

Break off pieces of the dough and flatten. (It works the best with your hands!) They should be about 1/2 inch thick and as big as you want one taco to be.

Place into hot vegetable oil. Cook dough about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side or until golden brown. Place on a paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil.

Place fry bread on plate, top with meat, and cover with cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. Then ENJOY!


What are some of your favorite comfort foods?

December 7, 2015

Take a Moment

Anyone that knows me, knows that I like to plan and can be a tad OCD sometimes with details in my life. People are probably going to laugh when I have kids because I have a feeling I will have to let a lot of things go (like making sure my dishes are always done) for the sake of a happy home life. I have to laugh because I am not sure why I continue to plan every detail of my life out, because frankly life never works out how I plan it, and I am learning to be more than okay with that.

When I entered college I was set on being an information systems engineer because I heard it paid well. High achiever much?! Fast forward and now I am an underpaid, under thanked nurse. I couldn't have ended up on more opposite ends of the spectrum. Better yet, I love every minute of it! Thank gosh sometimes plans don't always happen the way we plan them. When I was three I knew I was going to be a star ballerina. Let’s just say I am grateful that never happened. (Those who know me on my feet can attest that would probably be the worst!) Me feeling and being a very introverted, private person and now having a blog where I probably over share to whom ever is reading. Yeah, funny how things turn out sometimes.


Don’t get me wrong, I love planning. I appreciate it when my husband or friends plan out activities we are going to do when we’re together. I appreciate knowing big event dates in advance to mark on my calendar. I appreciate going on a vacation where travel and accommodations has been checked into (thank you husband!) Planning in itself is not a horrible thing but when I get wrapped up in it and forget to enjoy my life then it is a major problem. I am going to be honest here and say that I do this a lot. I don't want to get so wrapped up in the planning of certain things that I forget to sit back, breathe and enjoy it. I have made a to do list of all I need to do this week. That list is what inspired this post, so believe me when I say this post is pretty selfish of me.

Honestly, some of my best memories have come from things that I never planned on happening, hangouts with friends that were spur of the moment, friendships I never expected, surprises that truly surprised me, and spontaneous decisions. I am truly grateful for those moments, it is in those that I have really experienced life. Sometimes we get so caught up in our busyness that hanging out with a friend just becomes one more appointment rather than something we want to do. I have definitely had those and it makes me sad. My relationships are what is most important in my life and when I get so caught up in my plans I am not only suffering but so are the people in my life. I want to enjoy my lunch dates with the people I care about or the shopping trips with my best friend and not have to worry that in thirty minutes I have to be someplace else. Life is too short for us not to enjoy every moment!

Just cause I tell myself this, doesn't mean this is easy for me. I have to learn that it is okay to get five things rather than twenty five done in a day. It means that I have to take care of myself so I am not run down. It means I have to learn that everything does not have to be done in a day.


Enjoy your time today and every day!

December 4, 2015

Weekend Update: Thanksgiving and Birthdays

Well, better late than never. The weekend of Thanksgiving was a great one for me! It was a time of celebration giving thanks and celebrating the birthdays of my littlest sister and husband.

Thursday // (Thanksgiving)
I had the day off, so we drove to my parents house and enjoyed a yummy meal!
Oh and of course, lots of football!
It was so good to see my family.





Friday
We drove to my in-laws house and celebrated with a Thanksgiving meal that day. It was also my husbands birthday. I seemed to only think of a very practical gift...but I have a surprise planned out for him soon!



Saturday
We had breakfast with my husband's family and my husband did some computer work for his parents. Then we went on over to my parents house and celebrated my sister's birthday and sang to both her and my husband and enjoyed some cake!

 

Then unfortunately my weekend was over and we drove back to Tucson.

Sunday
Worked.
Then watched the BRONCOS win!
Seriously, it was a happy night in my house.
Plus I think for the first week this season, I won both my fantasy football games in the two leagues!


Can we have long weekends like this more often?

December 2, 2015

Muir Woods

When we took our trip to Napa/Sonoma, on the way out we stopped by Muir Woods. Boy! Do I wish I was able to spend more time there than I did! It is beautiful! We did the boardwalk but I would have loved to have time to do some hiking there.

You get to see all these amazing coastal redwoods which are just so tall! All for a $7.00 entrance fee which is totally worth it! It is one of those places that you cannot believe is so close to a big city. It is a serious escape. The beauty and peacefulness is just amazing.

Now for a photo dump. It is days like these that really make me want to really dig in and learn photography better. I could not even adequately capture the true beauty...

And yes, for your added viewing pleasure, if you scroll down far enough you will see a picture of my husband planking. #fitpic










Have you visited Muir Woods?
What are some of your favorite escapes?

December 1, 2015

Welcome December

Can you believe it is already December! There are so many things to look forward to this month!
Movies
My favorites are Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, and Christmas with the Kranks.

Lights and Decor
Who doesn't love decorating their home and going out and looking at Christmas Lights?! It is so wonderful!

Gift Giving
Giving gifts to each other is fun!

Sparkle and Shine Fashion
I can wear glittered nails, a shimmering dress, a glitzy shirt, and sequins and just be happy!

Partaking in Traditions
We always watch my favorite movies. I love decorating my tree right after Thanksgiving. I make cookies, he wraps the presents, etc...We do what we can traditionally despite my un-traditional work schedule.

Welcome December!
Bring it on!

What are you looking forward to this month?

November 30, 2015

Guide to Napa and Sonoma Wineries

I took a second trip to Napa with some friends to get away for a weekend. The valley is so beautiful that I absolutely did not mind visiting again!

I truly believe that you can do these valleys on a budget. We used Airbnb both times and stayed outside of Napa/Sonoma valleys.

Before you go I would plan ahead kind of a path you would like to go and see if any deals are out there you want to pre-purchase.. Last trip we did, this trip we didn't. No matter. This trip I was more into getting my deals on Yelp and some on an app called WineryFinder. Just a word of warning, the winery finder app had some not honored deals and was not the most user friendly app. Thank gosh for Yelp! 

Oh and please, always have a safe driving experience when drinking and always remember that Saturdays are always super busy.


You can look back on a recap of my previous trip here. There I said one day I would write down some of my favorite wineries so I thought I would take the time to do it here. So without further ado, here are some of my favorite wineries if you want to go take a visit:

Jacuzzi:
Much better reds then whites. They are right across from their sister winery Cline.

Cline:
I prefered Cline to Jacuzzi. Their zins are great! We went to a reserve tasting in their villa this trip. It was the first weekend it was opened and it was beautiful experience. Probably my favorite winery.

Two Amigos Wines
Eh. Downtown Sonoma tasting room. Wouldn't go again...

Bartholomew Park Winery
Seriously we had some rude service. Wine was not all that good either. There are some pretty good looking hiking trails off of the estate though which is pretty cool.

Schug Carneros Estate Winery
This was a great little place with a beautiful estate! 


Andretti Winery
Pretty standard.

Honig Vineyard and Winery
By appointment only, it is a great place to go slowly and sit with small pours.

Cosentino Winery
Love love love! Visited last year too! Great new outdoor patio since my visit last year.

Sequoia Grove Winery
This was a surprise one for me that I really liked! Good service and decent wine!

Hagafen Cellars
This is a kosher winery! We actually bought a bottle of tempranillo here because the price was right. Friendly staff too.

The last trip we also went to Ledson, Alexander Valley Vineyards, Castello Di Amorosa, and Girard. All were worth a revisit, but I wanted to explore some new ones too. 



Oh and I created a little list (cause I love lists) of 10 things you need to know to do Napa right:

(in case you were wondering)

Don't bother me, I'm in Napa Valley ... except ...:
via

1. Bring good friends.

2. Start with a good breakfast/brunch before you go out.

3. Drink all the wine.

4. Pretend to master the swirl, sniff, sip. 

6. Don't worry about social media, you are tipsy and no one wants to see all the fun you are having without them.

7. Accept that your tongue may turn red.

8. Take lots of pictures. Some won't look good...you are tipsy.

9. Look for specials like I said above.

10. Everything closes at 5. So should you...it would just be too much wine.


Stay tuned for my trip to Muir Woods! I needed more time there!
What are some of your favorite ways to do travel on a budget?

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