July 29, 2016

Travelling: Cancun, Mexico

Good morning! I just got back from a fabulous vacation and thought I would share it with you!

Now I know most people take winter vacations to escape the weather, but we in Arizona like to getaway in the summer! And oh, was it glorious!

We went and stayed in the all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva in Cancun. We decided to go with Ziva instead of Zilara. This was only because Ziva was available the weekend we wanted to go. We used credit card points to get us those nights and just had a marvelous time relaxing.

My favorite meal was their restaurant Tradewinds for breakfast. It was fair for lunch. They of course also have a buffet (El Mercado). We enjoyed Lorenzo's, their Italian restaurant and both my husband and I agreed their lunch far out-shined their dinner. La Bastille was their French adults only restaurant and we did enjoy that for a night. They had a bar called Saasil that was good, but for some reason usually really slow. We did try Habaneros for a quick lunch and it was good. Sadly, their desserts--even at Pasteles were not the cause of my weight gain. They were lacking...

The pools were great. There was a beautiful adults only infinity pool with bar that we quite enjoyed. We also enjoyed their swim up bar, beach, and restaurants. We tried kayaking, wandered around, played tennis (first time on a grass court), and lounged. I also got to hold and pet an iguana named Chester! Such a sweetie! Some words of advice, if you want to paddle board, they have limited supply. Paddle boarding and kayaking are included so get there when they open at 10. To access the tennis courts, you can wander around aimlessly trying to find someone who knows where to get equipment, or you can go to the gym and ask them for the equipment. The tennis court is on the third floor and the gym is across from the shopping areas.



Despite the weight gain and sunburn I would highly recommend it!
Now back to the real world for me!
Where are your favorite places to stay in Cancun?

July 27, 2016

What I Ate

The other day I realized I have two different types of food days. I am either an EAT IT ALL sort of person or an eat nothing person. OF course I prefer to eat it all, but my body thinks I am crazy and wishes I would stop thinking about food.

I decided to chronicle a couple of days of everything I eat, just to see how I do. I have never counted calories and really need to get to just eating clean. I am using a low carb method to try and kick my body back to an area I am comfortable with and can more freely "clean eat."

Not everything in the post is going to be healthy and I know that, so no need to tell me. I write it down to improve me and I encourage people to do the same. It can help you realize what habits you have that are helping or hurting you.

Now let's get to the food of the matter:

Day 1:
It is a work day. I prepped and made some of my healthy banana muffins and am enjoying them with a little bit of peanut butter. I also have my water bottle filled with some crystal light peach tea and am ready to go to work!

I get to work and finish the rest of my tea after assessments and medication passes and refill the bottle with water. Gotta drink all the water!!

That crystal light peach tea is my lifesaver. I love it because it helps suppress my appetite. So did the couple of mini candy bars and Baggin's Cookie someone gave me today (#fail) Because today, that is all that is holding me over. It is 4pm and I am finally getting a moment to eat. (I started my day with those banana muffins at 6am.)

So now I am eating a bed of spinach with cheddar cheese, pieces of turkey, pecan halves, and blue cheese dressing. And shoot! How did that Reese's cup get into my mouth after that salad?!

One thing you will never see me do that my husband does everyday for breakfast is make a smoothie. Unless it is wine, I am weird about drinking my calories. I would much rather just eat the fruit then blend it up. I have become really aware of what works for my body and whatever right?!?

Okay so then for dinner it is burgers. Since I have long work days, my dinner meal plans consist of something for my grill master husband. So he makes dinner tonight and I have my burger sans bun accompanied by some easy broccoli and cheese!


Day 2:
Not a work day! I start out with a glass of water and two pieces of deli meat turkey. Haha! Then I head to a workout class. I come back and eat some of that deli turkey wrapped with mayo, cheese, and lettuce.

More water. A handful of my favorite snack (semisweet chocolate chips and lightly salted almonds) Then I am off to my hair appointment!

I come home and grab some more of my chocolate chips/almond mixture and start on dinner. Kevin comes home and we eat some stuffed bell peppers.


Day 3:
Another day off work. A glass of water and then I make some scrambled eggs with cheese.

I blog a little bit and then make myself some tuna and put it over lettuce.

Catching up on some Real Housewives and more blogging. Oops, and a Reese's cup. (or 4)

I start the laundry. Clean the kitchen. Go to the gym, grocery shop, come back home and then finish the laundry. I drink a ton (600 ml) of my peach tea and have some pieces of turkey deli meat.

Dinner comes along and I make my husband's favorite Enchiladas. I keep some of the sauce and put it over some shredded chicken and cheese for me. In addition to this dinner, he now has lunches for the next couple of days!


Day 4:
It is a another work day! Cream Cheese pancakes this morning for me! I did really bad getting away and realize at 1pm that I haven't drank anything when I realize I haven't peed.

I grab my tuna and lettuce salad out of the fridge after downing some water. The rest of the day I snack, snack. snack and eat A TON of the almond and chocolate chip mixture.

Water happens here and there and work is done. I am on my way to a pub to meet some friends for Geeks Who Drink (anyone else into that?!).

I of course have a glass of wine and couple of bites of my husband's barbecue bacon burger. I know I shouldn't have, especially because that is his dinner. No worries, he has fries on the side that he devours and I have zero bites of. haha!


I really hope this helps you with what you eat during the day!

July 25, 2016

Feeling Hungry

Good morning and happy Monday! I hope everyone is ready to kick off this week! I know I am! Today I want to share a kind of funny thought process and story today...maybe some of you can relate!

I made my list and went grocery shopping. When I got back, I got ready to put my groceries away. I swear every week, no matter how organized I feel, there is a certain amount of re-organizing.

The refrigerator was kind of a mess from the past week so I emptied it, throwing away old leftovers. I felt bad as I dumped some guacamole I had forgotten about. I also had to toss a cucumber that had shriveled.

Once emptied out, I wiped it down and then piled in the new food.

It was lunch time. I took out some deli meat and lettuce and made some lettuce wraps. Then I ate them and realized I wasn't hungry in the first place.  I realized I do this quite frequently and I think that a lot of us out there that eat on a schedule or out of habit, but rarely because we are hungry. 

I need to listen to my body and become comfortable with feeling hungry. I think it would be a healthier lifestyle to adapt to. When I feel hungry, I like to drink some water or some peach tea and then if I am still hungry eat. My current problem is stopping when I reach full, but I am working on that. That and sometimes all I want is pizza.
I think there are a lot of things in life we recognize we need to work on but sometimes don't. It may not be time for new year's resolutions, but this is something I am going to try and work on.


Do you eat out of habit?
What is your favorite type of pizza?

July 22, 2016

Watermelon Summer

Summer calls for many great get togethers! Here in Arizona it is warm, warm, warm! Despite being so hot out, my summer weekends are almost booked solid. This means I don’t have a ton of time to be up in the kitchen making lots of dishes for visiting guests or to bring to a BBQ. Therefore, I always need my arsenal of easy yet impressive recipes. Summer recipes should be light and fresh and watermelon is the perfect vehicle! I love making watermelon margaritas for an easy summer drink, But I also like to eat my watermelon and have two other go to recipes for my watermelon.



Simple Fruit Salad
When you need something fast and easy. This is it!

Ingredients:

1/2 watermelon, hallowed out and cubed
1 pint of blueberries

Directions:

Combine watermelon and blueberries in a trifle dish or bowl. Yep, Two ingredients and combine. The flavors are really great together. You can also blend those together for your morning smoothie!


Grilled Watermelon Salad
Grilling is your other option! Classic summer options include anything grilled. Plus anything with a hefty amount of cheese is always a positive in my book!

Ingredients:

1/2 watermelon, hallowed out and cubed
sliced fresh burrata or mozzerella
1 jalapeno
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste


Directions:

Grill pieces of watermelon. Place on plate and cover with fresh burrata or mozzerella cheese pieces.

Finely chop jalapeno and let it steep in extra virgin olive oil for 20 minutes. Drain the oil and save it to drizzle on top of the finished dish with some sea salt.



What is your favorite way to have watermelon?

July 20, 2016

Breaking Protocol

Sometimes you break protocol.

As most of you know, I am a nurse. My job is to put patient's health and well being first. They may not always understand or like what I am doing, but I will always do what is best for my patient.
And sometimes break protocol in the process.

For instance,..

I may have peeled off my glove to do a difficult IV start so I could get a better feel and taken off my glove to hold someone's hand, among other things. Like every other nurse in the world. None of this happens because I am a hero or because I am stupid and don’t know about precautions. It happened because I am a nurse.

Yes, we should use protective equipment and precautions and yes, we do exactly that 99.9% of the time. But most of us will never turn away from a person (patient or not) in need for lack of personal protective equipment.


I remember when Nina Pham was diagnosed with Ebola after caring for the patient. The CDC cited a breach in protocol as the source of her infection. It may have happened. But we as nurses don't know everything and like every other human on the face of the earth, cannot be perfect. She was gloved, masked, gowned and wearing a face mask just like she was supposed but there is a long complicated process of donning, caring, and then disposing of equipment. For all of us, no matter what infection we are treating, it is so easy to have something go wrong.

I have also been exposed when not breaking protocol. I have been in a patient's room after a procedure called a cardiac catheterization and their groin site "popped" spewing blood. I put on gloves which is standard precaution, but nothing about a cardiac cath says wear a mask. But never the less, some of the blood squirted to my face.  I did not worry about the blood on me, I worried about the patient. Then after, yes, I scrubbed and was relieved I didn't have any open areas on my face.

It is hard to know when to pass judgement on a breach in protocol. If I saw someone not wash down equipment after going into a person with clostridium difficile, and then using that same equipment in a room with someone without the infection, that is a breach in protocol I would not forgive.

Protocol is there for a reason, but sometimes we have to lose it to make an impact on a patient or save a life. That is what makes breaching protocol so hard. You don’t want a world of nurses who will leave your child in need for lack of gloves. You want us to be careful and yet, willing to take risks on your behalf.


But who makes the determinations on which protocols are okay and not okay to break?
That is the question.

July 18, 2016

Mac and Cheese

Now, most of you know, I am a self made girl. I got married and had no job. I wanted to be able to provide for my new husband and make and prepare great dinners for my hard working man. So I had to learn! Learn I did, but strategically, I learned a couple of recipes from my mother in law. She gave me two recipes to keep her son happy: Navajo Tacos...and Mac and Cheese!

I cannot believe I haven't shared this recipe yet! This is really the best macaroni and cheese around. No bluffing.




Ingredients:

3-4 cups of water
1 cup of macaroni
2 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of milk
1 chopped green chile (optional)
2 cups of cubed cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:


Bring water to boil. Add macaroni and cook to package instructions.

Drain macaroni in colander and set aside. Off of heat, in the same pan, add flour to 1/4 cup of milk. Stir until smooth. Once smooth, stir in the rest of the milk. Add green chile and mix. Add drained macaroni and season with salt and pepper. Stir it together on medium high heat until it comes to a boil and then turn off heat. Add cubed cheese. Cover with lid until cheese becomes slightly melty.

Then serve and enjoy!


What are some of your favorite hand me down recipes?
Is there anyone who doesn't like mac and cheese?

July 15, 2016

Summer Shindigs: How to Have Fun and Still Feel Great

These past three weeks have been a blur! With all of the pizzabirthday celebrations, Fourth of July celebrations, and just summer weekend celebrations...it is no wonder I am feeling overwhelmed!

It is no secret that I like to have fun. But I truly believe in everything in moderation. You have to balance all your barbecues, pool parties, picnics, and late nights so that you aren't burnt out when you have to work and fat gaining weight from it all. I mean...I am just saying...

Overdoing on booze and food can leave you feeling guilty and sluggish. It is harder around this time of year with all the great summer stuff going on, but I am here to share how I keep my body and mind as balanced as I can during this time of year.


Stick with clears and wines
More parties equal more alcohol. If you can, stick with clear liquors for your drinks or a glass or two of wine. The more times alcohol is distilled, the less impurities and toxins there are. Therefore you are less likely to feel cruddy the next morning. Plus slow sipping and easy drinking makes for an enjoyable time. Try a Tito's, ice, and lemon or a nice glass of Sauvignon blanc.

Take a cool shower
After eating and drinking, balance the hot summer body with a nice refreshing shower. Make it colder than your normal shower. Trust me it will do your body a world of good!

Drink water
Duh, everyone says this. Despite knowing this, most of us don't drink enough water throughout the night. My advice is don't drink two events in a row. Example: don't drink the night away and wake up to have drinks with brunch. Pick and choose so you aren't super dehydrated (that was a technical term) and your body will thank you.

Eat right
Load up on foods that contain cysteine (such as eggs, cheese, oats, chicken, and fish), which helps break down acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, a headache causing toxin that is produced when your body digests alcohol. Eat before you drink if you can. Sure, everyone loves binging on the burgers/fries and pizza while drinking, but with a summer schedule that is jam packed, if you do that enough, you will feel really bad!


Let's do this and have a great weekend!

July 11, 2016

It is Okay to Relax

Today I feel stressed and I have no idea why. We finished our laundry room and I absolutely love it. I finally picked up my house after it turned into a mess throughout our tiling project. I haven't moved on to a single one of my other projects. I of course have been working which isn't anything new, Never the less, I had a great work out yesterday and will be back at it again today. I should feel accomplished. I should go home and treat myself to a glass of white wine and TV (I finally started watching House of Cards and am HOOKED!) but instead I feel stressed. I keep feeling like I need to be holding myself to a higher standard.
But here’s the thing:
Who is keeping track of what I can get done? Me.
Who cares if something doesn’t get checked off? Me.
What is really stressing me out? Me.
Me. Me. Me.

It is all about me.

I need to recognize the importance of relaxing. And if I don’t get it done, there is always next week. I just feel like when I am relaxing, I could be doing something. I can't guilt myself. It is time to reward myself for my achievements, not stress over the next project (guest bedrooms). I want to look forward to it!


What is your next project?
What do you to de-stress?

July 8, 2016

Five on Friday

Here we go with a little life update (read: picture overload) because a lot has been happening!

1. Dativersary Love
Saturday was our 11th dating anniversary. My husband was so nice to let me abandon him and celebrate my birthday with some girlfriends and to have one of my oldest girlfriends into town that weekend. My husband loves Jimmy Fallon thank you notes. This one night got me thinking about how much I love and am thankful for him. He certainly deserves to know how much I appreciate him and how I was better about telling him more often.

So sticky notes everywhere became a thing.

2. Booking it
So overall, I was not super impressed with the recipes. They are glamorous but not all that easy to make. The ingredients and dishes are a bit intensive. But, I was impressed with the photography. It was beautifully styled. This book is more of a coffee table book than a cookbook for me. But you need both types of books, so I recommend this as a beautiful coffee table book! I received this book from Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. 

3. Birthday Fun
I had an amazing birthday week. My mom and sister came to visit me and we spent a fun weekend eating, shopping, and hanging out.

I worked for my actual birthday. Three shifts in a row, but thankfully they were all good. Oh and one of my patients had his wife go out and bring me some cookies for my birthday! So sweet! Oh and my husband treated me to a lovely dinner!


Then my girlfriend, sister (again), and cousin all came to visit me and we had a great weekend!
And since it was not triple digit heat (still in the 90s though! Thanks Arizona!), we attempted some short hiking ventures. No worries, we were smart and brought lots of water.

And yeah no photoshop...can you believe my sisters beautiful blue eyes?!

Oh and some of my girlfriends and I went out for happy hour(s)!

4. Fourth of July
A little school night party never hurt anyone! I also seem to throw many parties last minute. But it was great! I made my fruit pizza and a bunch of other food. There is never a shortage of food in my house!

This years fruit pizza: 

Reds, Whites, and Brews! Cute no?!


5. All in Cle!
I am so excited that the Cavs won and that the Indians are doing so well. Now if the Browns could pull it together, this would be the most epic year! Oh and I am so loving watching swimming the Olympic Trials. Yay for sports!!


Now with all of this food and fun, I need to get back on track with the diet and exercise.
Let's go!

July 6, 2016

Burrata Pizza

It is a treat yourself kinda day today. Don't you think? Who cares if it is a Wednesday, You can treat yourself whenever you want! Despite all the fun things that have been going on with my lately, I have felt particularly nutty and busy.  Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I attempted to maintain a diet while amazing food was happening around me and then decided that I was being majorly HANGRY and taking it out of my family and friends and needed to cool it immediately and eat a pizza. If there is any doubt about anything in life, pizza is generally my answer! Especially when it is piled high with burrata cheese! Prosciutto doesn't hurt either!


Ingredients:

8 ounces of burrata cheese
3 ounce package of prosciutto
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of minced garlic
3 teaspoons of dried basil
3/4 cups of diced tomatoes


Directions:

After you make your dough, roll it out and bake it for 8-10 minutes.

Mix together olive oil, basil, and garlic.

Take your dough out and cover with olive oil and garlic mixture. Top with diced tomatoes. Place back in the oven for 8 minutes.

Take pizza out and apply burrata in clumps and cover with prosciutto.

Serve and enjoy immediately!


What is your favorite way to indulge?

July 4, 2016

Red, White, Blue, and Jam

So my mom has always made jam. It is really idyllic, she has an orchard on the front of the house that produces all of her fruit--and some vegetables! So common flavors for jams are peach, apricot, nectarine, and plum. My mom got together with me and I learned the art of jam making. Turns out it is a fair bit of work, but totally TOTALLY worth it!

So this year I came up with a new flavor just in time for today! Strawberry Plum! Jam out this fourth of July (or anytime) with this flavor!



Ingredients:

4 pounds of plums
2 pounds of strawberries
1/2 cup of water
1 package of Sure Jell fruit pectin
1/2 teaspoon of butter
8 cups of sugar
10 mason jars and two part lids

Directions:

Finely chop the plums and strawberries.

Place chopped fruit in a large stock pot and add 1/2 cup of water. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and then simmer on medium low heat for 5 minutes.

Stir in package of Sure Jell and butter. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil and stir constantly.

Then add sugar (measure exact amount in a bowl separately) and boil exactly for one minute, stirring constantly. Then remove from heat and skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle the mixture immediately into prepared jars (see how to prepare below). Fill each jar within 1/4 inch of top. Cover with lids. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hour.

You can then store unopened jams in cool, dark places for up to one year!

How to prepare jars:
Simmer jars in big stock pot for 10 minutes.
Simmer lids in sauce pan for 10 minutes.



Oh and bonus, here is my favorite jam recipe, apricot!


Ingredients:

3-1/2 pounds of apricots
1/2 cup of water
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1 package of Sure Jell fruit pectin
1/2 teaspoon of butter
7 cups of sugar

Directions:

Finely chop apricots.

Place chopped fruit in a large stock pot and add in water and lemon juice. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and then simmer on medium low heat for 5 minutes.

Stir in package of Sure Jell and butter. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil and stir constantly.

Then add sugar (measure exact amount in a bowl separately) and boil exactly for one minute, stirring constantly. Then remove from heat and skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle the mixture immediately into prepared jars (see how to prepare above). Fill each jar within 1/4 inch of top. Cover with lids. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hour.

You can then store unopened jams in cool, dark places for up to one year!


Happy 4th of July!
What is your favorite jam recipe?

July 1, 2016

How To Clean Cloudy Glasses

My parents do not have a dishwasher.

I have a dishwasher. And I love it. However, when I am at my parent's house, I notice that their glasses always look a little better than mine. Mine get a little cloudy looking. There is something to be said for taking some care of your items by hand. I say that because I have done extensive research in making sure that I am using the right detergent and seeing what works the best (at not leaving a residue.)

Now, I don't have time to constantly do all my glasses by hand. Sorry, but having a dishwasher has been nice and my time is just re-prioritized. (is that a word?)

But I also don't want all my glasses to be cloudy and nasty, so naturally there had to be an easy solution.


Enter vinegar. All you need to do is pour two tablespoons of vinegar per glass into a bowl, grab a clean cloth and soak in vinegar and clean glass with the soaked cloth.

If you don't have that many glasses, hand wash them with hot, soapy water, but if you are doing it with quite a few glasses, run them through the dishwasher after to remove the vinegar.


Does anyone else have this problem with their dishwasher?
Do I need a new dishwasher?

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