August 31, 2016

How To Stay Energized All Day

One time on the radio, I heard a talk show guy who said that personality tests showed that people who like really bitter tastes (like black coffee) have some of the same personality traits as serial killers. The talk show host says that may be true (as a black coffee drinker) but he said the people that really scare him are the people that are able to function without any coffee. I found that funny because...I am that person. There are ways that aren't reaching for caffeine that can help you feel and stay energized all day long!
Stay Hydrated
This seems like a no brainer, but I feel fatigue quickly when I am even slightly dehydrated. My girlfriend at Chicistry has some good tips to stay hydrated!

Get Outside
Sometimes this is hard for us nurses sometimes with unorthodox hours, but just getting outside for even 10 minutes...even when the weather is gloomy can help. Just take a few deep breaths and enjoy the fresh air.

Have Some Chocolate
Yep. I think that little sugar rush can give you some zing. It is my mood boosting supplement (for better or for worse...) Peppermint makes people either sneeze of puts you at ease. For me it simulates me so I combine that with chocolate and am rocking and ready to go!

Eat Breakfast
Even if it is light, just eat a little something

Get a Good Night Sleep
Everyone has different amounts of sleep they need, so find what works for you and get that every night!

Turn Up The Music
This is the best way to instantly lift your mood and feel energized.

Cool Down The Shower
I am not telling you to take cold showers, but if you can get your shower a little cooler than scalding hot, it will give you the benefits of waking you up and of even making your skin and hair shine.

Get Your Labs Checked
If none of the above is working, check your iron, magnesium, and vitamin D levels. When those are low, you can feel slow and sluggish.


What do you do to keep yourself feeling energized all day?

August 29, 2016

Blueberry Pancakes

Being in the desert, I often don't brag about the summer. Summer just brings heat, heat, and more heat. But one good thing it brings? Fresh berries! So what better way to use a surplus of blueberries? In some warm, fluffy, irresistible pancakes.

My trick is to use some brown sugar for some sweetness and sour cream for tenderness in every bite. Now I don't often do anything super fancy for recipes so you should be surprised that I took some lessons and listened to bloggers. They say you can get an amazing fluffiness in your pancakes by separating your eggs and forming soft peaks with the egg whites. So I did it and I am glad I did. Trust me, you should do it!


Ingredients:

3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 cup of light sour cream
3 tablespoons of whole milk
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of baking powder

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla, sour cream, milk, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder.

In a separate bowl, add blueberries and and coat in flour.

Add the flour and blueberries into the wet mixture.

Put egg whites into a bowl and use a handheld mixer to form soft peaks.

Then fold in egg whites into wet mixture and stir.

In a large skillet melt some butter or cooking spray and then ladle 1/4 cup scoops of batter.

Cook pancakes until edges begin to brown and the top of the batter begins to bubble. Then flip and cook for another minutes and repeat for all the batter.

Top pancakes with syrup and a couple extra blueberries, or make some blueberry syrup and enjoy!

adapted from here


What are some of your favorite way to use summer berries?

August 26, 2016

Five on Friday: Football Edition

Today I need some distraction. I have a leak in my roof and about doubled over when I found out the repair price. I am getting a second opinion today, but in the mean time I need something happy to think about. How about football?!

I am so ready for some football! Nothing makes me happier than cooler weather, fantasy football and Sundays on the couch! And when there are days the NFL has games in London, it is even more amazing because I start watching football in bed! I love it!

So since I can't stop thinking about football, here is a Five on Friday: Football Edition!
One
Tomorrow is my Fantasy Football draft. Everyone has different advice, but here is my one tip for all of you out there. All too often I see people freak/rush when something like tight ends start getting taken and then you abandon your next pick because "oh no, all the tight ends are getting taken." Don't fall for it! Stay calm, cool, and collected and get those big running backs and wide receivers that are going to score you the points! Other than that piece of advice, here is a guide to rocking your fantasy football league this year!

Two
Speaking of the draft, since I host the draft party, I gotta prep not only who I want, but I also have to prep some food! You can also try any my tried and true favorites for football season all listed in one place here!

Three
What are the chances that my boss will give me the schedule I want during football season for the optimal football/social schedule...we will soon find out! haha!

Speaking of my schedule, I work during the season opener. Denver vs. Carolina. I am hoping to get sent home early that day. I asked my husband if he would wait to watch the game with me and his answer...hell no! Denver Broncos always win in this house...

Four
And while NFL is my bread and butter, I will cheer for my college teams! Go Ohio State and Arizona! I hopefully will have some good tailgates this fall. Check out my tailgating basics for a sure fire awesome time!

Five
Okay, not football related, but sports related. I watched so much during the Olympics. Maybe for my couch potato status, it is a good thing that it only comes on every four years! Apart from swimming, diving and women's gymnastics were my favorite to watch.


Are you ready for some football?!
What were your favorite Olympic events to watch?

August 24, 2016

What's In My Day Hike Backpack

A day hike to me just seems so beautiful and so easy. The feeling of just grabbing the car keys and heading out is exciting. When the time comes and I just want to get out and go, I want to think very little about what mother nature may throw at me during my outing, so I have things I always keep in my pack. Of course, depending on where I am hiking (weather and travel conditions) and the length of my hike, somethings may be added to my pack. None of these items seem to ever get subtracted though!

Here are the items I always have. I may not be a boy scout, but I always wanna be prepared!


Chapstick:
You are working harder and so breathing harder will cause a chapped lips.

Sunscreen:
I am white and I am outdoors and I don't want any more skin cancer. Put on your first layer before you even leave!

A Knife:
Something I feel like I should keep just in case.

Snacks:
Because you always should have some of those! My favorite part of my pack! Almonds often fill me up so a mix of almonds and chocolate chips are usually always making an appearance at the bottom of my bag.

Socks:
You never know when you will need a spare pair! (that rhymes) Plus if they get wet, nothing feels better than some warm, dry socks.

Hat:
Cover your face from the sun and heat. Plus it covers the ugly and sweat.

Bandaids:
If you start to feel yourself get a blister, you should immediately stop and cover with a bandaid. I keep a couple of different sizes and some triple antibiotic ointment in case something were to happen.

Small Flashlight:
Keeping a small one doesn't take a lot of space and it feels like something I should have.


And bonus, outside of my pack, I always bring a friend. I enjoy company and then heaven forbid anything happens, someone else is there.

As for my packs, my day pack is an old camel back and if I need something bigger I have an old medium sized outdoor gear backpack and then for actual backpacking trips (which I hope to go on my first soon) I will use my husband's old backpack. So nothing really to suggest in terms of what pack to use.


What are your go to essentials when you hike?
Do you have any backpacks you like?

August 22, 2016

Spinach Dip

Imagine the creamiest spinach dip that you have ever had. It makes your mouth water huh! Well after you think of it, just go ahead and make it! You have my mom to thank for this one...

Speaking of my mom makes me think I should be responsible. My goals this week: schedule a hair appointment, schedule doctors appointments, and go grocery shopping. Word to my mother.

Anyway, back to the dip! It takes so little time to make and makes for a gorgeous appetizer or snack. Serve it up with some with some dippers and trust me, you will be satisfied. Sometimes I have leftovers and I will warm up the dip for 3 minutes for a hot variation! 



Ingredients:

5 oz of frozen chopped baby spinach, thawed.
1 cup of mayonnaise
1 container (16 oz) sour cream
4 oz of cream cheese, softened
1 package of Knorr Vegetable Recipe Mix

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and chill for about two hours. Serve with your favorite dippers* and serve in bowl or in a hallowed out bread bowl, tomato, or cucumber.

Favorite Dippers: cucumbers, tortilla chips, bell peppers, crackers, or my favorite...Ritz Toasted Chips.

And no, this is in no way sponsored by Knorr or Ritz, but I use those and it is GREAT.



What are your goals this week?
Does everyone but me add artichokes into their spinach dip but me?

August 19, 2016

Comparison

I have just enjoyed the heck out of myself watching swimming in the Olympics. I swam in high school, and while I miss it, I do not miss the training. But all that aside, I don't know if I could have done any other sport. I liked the aspect that I trained for myself, I swam for myself and no one else. Now while that sounds selfish, let me explain...

When I am on my own, I speed whenever I want. I build a steady pace whenever I want. I push myself to go faster. I could also let my mind wander. Sometimes I would be too busy thinking, that I would forget how bad my legs were hurting and would just keep going.

I get weird sometimes when I am really working with someone else. I will slow down, my mind will tell me I can't do anymore, I compare myself and therefore, my confidence dips. Sometimes I would think "just give up because you can’t go that fast."

Which, when you think about, is a pretty good reflection on life.

My younger sisters did tennis. My youngest sister I think was like me. When I would watch her play, if she was playing someone good, her serves, hits, basically her whole game-was good. When she played someone who was not as good as her, she "played down".

I think sometimes when we focus on our own pace, our own creativity, our own pains or passions,our own plans, our own goals–that is when we do the greatest things. When our confidence is highest is when we achieve the most.

Especially in this day of social media, comparisons happen. We all scroll through our various social media feeds comparing ourselves. We all do it, but it is knowing when you need to only compare yourself to yourself. Everyone is on different swims in this life (so to speak) and you can only do what is ultimately best for you.

How do you do that? Focus on your own achievements, your own successes and your own pace. That is how you move forward. You may not be the fastest in the pool, but you are the best because you are doing it in your own way.

August 17, 2016

Easy Appetizers

I love a good appetizer! I think part of entertaining is be able to think on the fly. Some of the time when you entertain, you realize that there are a lot of of times where you need to entertain on the fly and just use what you have. You don't have time to go to the grocery store, so you have to improvise. So these are yummy appetizers for the everyday, unexpected need with items you have in your fridge.


Blue Cheese Tomatoes:

Slice a tomato and top with blue cheese crumbles for a flavor profile that is out of this world.

Ranch and Cheese Peppers:

Chop green bell peppers and cover with ranch dressing. Then top with slices of Parmesan cheese and enjoy the zing with every bite!

Peanut Butter Celery:

Oh what, you do this already for your kids?! Well, I am kind of like a kid...but I don't like raisins and I didn't have chocolate chips, so I did not add ants to the log.


Besides ordering in pizza, what do you make when you have surprise guests?

August 15, 2016

That Time Lauren Won

So remember March Madness? Yeah well, picture this...March Madness is about to start and I am filling out a bracket to compete with my husband. While I am filling out this bracket, I really just want to write is it fantasy football season yet?!?

But no, I fill it out guessing as I go because...not a big watcher of basketball. Here were some of my thoughts:

Wait, The Ohio State isn't in it?!
Oh well let's pick that school, at least I have heard of them.
Oh sure, I'll pick Dayton...its in Ohio and the coach is the brother of U of A basketball's coach. (yeah that pick didn't work for me...)

Anyway, after all was said and done I wanted some increased stakes, so I told Kevin that the bracket loser had to plan a date for the bracket winner. Really a win win because we get to go on a date no matter what, but boy was I happy when KEVIN had to plan a date for ME!

I could not believe that my pick to win UNC did not win. That was quite the end of the game!

Anyway, life has been busy, but, I finally got my date!

He took me shopping and then to dinner! It was great! I did buy a bed for the guest bedroom and I can't wait to finish that room! And show you all!


I don't know if I have ever had to wait so long to receive my bet winnings.
I should have charged interest...

August 12, 2016

Five On Friday: Life Lately

I have been meaning to write a "life lately" post to share some of our most recent happenings but instead I'll condense it into the top 5 today!

One
We had my husband's cousins and sister in town for the weekend! It is always a fun time! We went on a little hiking and played lots of games and ate lots of food! Sorry for picture overload.
 


Two
Did you know that a little store called Nordstrom is having a sale? Yeah, me neither. Seriously I am a little tired of hearing about it. Or maybe just jealous because I wish Marshalls and Home Goods would let me constantly blog about them. I do follow a few fashion bloggers and really enjoy seeing their posts about upcoming trends, but damn, all I am hearing is Nordstrom!

Three
This fall is going to be amazing on TV. I mean first and foremost, it is almost finally football season! I am so stoked! Oh and then all the fall season shows: Gilmore Girls, Scream Queens, The Blacklist, 24, Grey's Anatomy, Hawaii 5-0, Madam Secretary, Modern Family, and then after that Orphan Black and House of Cards in the spring next year. I swear it sounds like I do nothing but watch TV...

Four
I can't imagine living more than 4.5 hours away from my family. Things happen and you just want to be close to family. I have said it before, and I will say it again...everyone with a good momma will learn...
Five
The Olympics have my attention! Swimming of course has been my favorite. I love all the swimmers and could write about each and every one of them, but I do have to say that I love that Lilly King is taking a stand on the sport being built on honesty and integrity was just perfect!


What are your favorite TV shows that you are excited to see again?
What is your favorite Olympic event?

August 10, 2016

Easy Pad Thai

So relatively recently I have been getting into Thai food! Peanut sauce is so easy and inexpensive to make at home. Just whisk it together in minutes, pour over your favorite noodles and vegetables, and you have an easy, flavorful, healthy meal in less than 15 minutes. No need for takeout when you can make your own peanut noodles in no time! The peanut sauce portion of the recipe can be doubled. Peanut sauce will keep for at least 1 week in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This makes it easy for you to meal plan and for nights where you need a fast and easy dinner! Take in instead of take out!

Ingredients:

Pad Thai
2 1/2 to 3 cups of thin rice noodles
1/2 cup carrots, roughly sliced
1/2 cup red bell peppers, roughly sliced
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup peanuts
1/2 cup + other vegetables, optional (baby corn, corn, water chestnuts, peas, snap peas, scallions, green beans, asparagus)
1 cup diced protein, optional (chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, or tofu)

Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup of oil
1/4 cup of honey
2 tablespoons of vinegar
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder (and I may even add more next time)

Directions:

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Add the carrots, red peppers, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, peanuts, optional vegetables and protein; set bowl aside.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the peanut sauce and stir or whisk until smooth. Taste sauce and make flavor adjustments if desired.

Pour sauce over noodles and vegetables and toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately; or cover the bowl, refrigerate, and serve chilled. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and serve chilled or reheat gently in the microwave before serving.


Besides Peanut Noodles/Pad Thai, what are some of your other favorite Thai dishes?
What are some of your favorite "Take In" meals?

August 8, 2016

5 Things I Buy Used and 5 Things I Don't Buy Used

Purchasing items secondhand is just plain smart and a huge budget saver. But that is not always the case. While you may think you're getting a deal on that item secondhand it may be full of of problems. Here is a short list of 5 items to buy used and 5 items you should just buy brand new.

This also goes with my post of things I splurge on and things I save on!
5 Items to Buy Used

Cell Phones
A refurbished, and even a just plain used cell phone, is seriously just as good. The value of cell phones depreciate so rapidly. For half the price, I will take last years model. It serves its purpose just fine for me! People will say that people can leave nasty software on cell phones, but a factory reset on a cell phone is as simple as it comes. Plus, cell phones undergo a lot of wear and tear shortening their lifespan. You can drop them and break them. Therefore, you don't need the newest one...

Vehicles
We have purchased all of our vehicles used and have saved tens of thousands of dollars in the process. Seeing as vehicles are items that depreciate in value--don't spend all your hard earned money on them.

Bikes
Bikes, especially kid bikes are a great item to buy used. Kids outgrow bikes like shoes so chances are you are going to want to buy them as cheap as you can! But adults, don't count yourself out. Mine works perfectly great!

Textbooks/Books
Don't ever pay full price for your textbooks! And unless you just absolutely HAVE to be the first one to read your favorite book series don't buy books brand new either! You can rent them from the library, buy digital, or buy used!

Furniture
I am not saying I have done this with every piece of furniture I have, but good money can be saved by purchasing good quality secondhand furniture. Shopping on Craig's List is a great way for me to find really great quality furniture. Always check for structural damage, broken drawers and shelves, or chips off the corners. You can even re-paint it and re-furnish it if you get it for a good enough deal! I did that with my bedroom drawers!

Bonus: Houses
Personally I don't need to build my home new, I can take old and make it new! I love it!



5 Items Not to Buy Used

Makeup and Perfume
Don't buy used makeup - sanitary and health reasons fit in here. You don't want to get an infection or some bizarre disease because you were too cheap to spend a few bucks on makeup. Additionally, don't buy used perfume! You don't know how old it is, how long it's been open, if anything else has been added to it, etc.

Understuffs and Shoes
Underwear, socks, swimsuits & lingerie - just don't do it. Ew gross, oh and shoes (in addition to gross) will be poor fitting because they are often formed to someone else's feet.

Bike Helmets
The bikes are usually okay, but bike helmets are not expensive and safety first here! You wear a helmet to protect your head so don't wear one that you buy used because of the possibility of damage. Especially a child's helmet! It may look in great condition but you can't tell if it's taken a hit! And who knows who's sweaty head was in it before...

Tires
I didn't even know some people buy them used, but I am sorry...I think it is a big no no. It is hard to tell if car tires were once part of a wreck and if they have been in an accident, they can be unstable and unreliable. That is not safe. To me, it is like driving on the spare, you can do it, but you shouldn't do it all the time.

TVs/Laptops
So like a cell phone, a TV depreciates in value, but I always buy the latest and greatest so that it lasts the longest. Unlike a cell phone, a TV just sits there and doesn't get worn and dropped like a cell phone does. As for laptops, unless I have a really reputable source I don't buy used laptops. Mechanical hard drives have a limited life span and are more prone to die the older they get. Plus if you don't know how to do all the reformatting and reinstalling, you could find some nasty software lurking...

What do you buy used versus new?

August 5, 2016

San Xavier Mission

San Xavier Mission is a beautiful landmark right outside Tucson, Arizona. It was built by Tohono O'Odham laborers. The frescoes and religious icons just are beautiful and brilliant. In a desert the bright white building is just striking! Still today mass is held here serving the native community for which it was built.




The most noticeable thing about the mission is that the east tower was never finished because the builders ran out of money. The whole church is unfinished and you will see that because some of the murals are done in pencil.

Outside of the mission you will see ramadas. Ocotillo cactus branches are the roof of the ramada and under you will find some amazing fry bread that you just have to try. I make some homemade fry bread for my Navajo Tacos, but trust me, this bread is worth it!

You can look out over the mission walls and explore the hill next to the mission and see Tucson out in the background.


Until next time San Xavier!

August 3, 2016

A Better Ponytail

So in getting ready for work, most of the time I want to spend as little effort in my hair and makeup as possible. But then there are days where I still wanna look somewhat decent.

What is a girl to do? Come up with lazy ways to get a desired effort.

As a nurse, my hair out of my face is a must. Here are my top five ways to have my hair up and looking good!


Use a Big Clip
This is my husband's favorite way to have my hair!

Low and Loose
This happens for me most often. This works for those of us who have hair that just wants to lie flat no matter what we do to give it volume. So embrace it and just put it in a very low, loose pony. Put it back or to the side and enjoy!

Fake it
I mean...we all do it, right?! We put a butterfly clip under our ponytail and it just looks higher and fuller.

Braid it Up
Whether it be a french braid, side braid, or two braids, this is the most effective way of keeping all hair out of my face and looks great!

When all Else Fails...
Put it half up, half down. I see some girls on Instagram who have that down to an art form. I use the above mentioned butterfly clip and can usually get it to look decent. Worth a shot right?!


What do you do to get fast an easy updos?

August 1, 2016

Low Carb Mac and Cheese

These past couple of weeks have been my worst diet wise. I usually can go a couple of days with good eating and then hit with a bad one. It is all about balance! Part of my off balance could be that I haven't really had time to be in the kitchen cooking meals every night. My meal planning and cooking keep me on a good streak.

What is a girl to do when she is craving bad foods but should eat good foods? Make a clean version of it of course!  I love this low carb mac and cheese and I am sure you will too. If low carb is not your thing, the real deal mac and cheese is also good. I made both in the same night even for my husband and I! It really is an easy and yummy recipe.


Ingredients:

3 zucchinis
4 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon of mustard
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:


Peel zucchini and slice peeled zucchini into 1 inch rounds. Boil water and place zucchini into water and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until zucchini are opaque and tender.

Drain and then in your pan, simmer heavy cream and mustard. Add shredded cheese until melted and add zucchini.

Then serve and enjoy!


What are your favorite "clean versions" of comfort food?

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