March 27, 2017

Desert Living

Spring officially springs on the calendar on March 20th. In Tucson, the meteorological winter (I didn't even know that was such a thing) ended on March 1st. It was the 4th hottest winter on record. So I wanted to end the winter season with my favorite...time outside.

I love hiking. I found a new love for it recovering from my ACL repair. I recently tried a new trailhead. Pima Canyon Trailhead. It was lovely! Probably now my most favorite trail here in Tucson. 


Going from desert to not feeling like you are in the desert is just so amazing! I mean look how green and beautiful this hike is...there is even water!

I took a million more pictures, but I will stop. Anyway, if you ever find yourself in Tucson, I highly recommend this hike! I would rate it at moderate. It is a down and back trail. Six miles in, six out. We went halfway in and then back out. I will absolutely try the whole hike in the future!

So while everyone else is happy to see Spring come and winter end, I sadly say goodbye to winter. I will spend all the time outside I can before it is too hot!

What are your favorite outdoor activities?

March 24, 2017

Red Chicken Enchilada Soup

My dad is a master chef with no recipes. He just knows how to make food. That is great, but it makes it hard to learn. Part of my exploration in the kitchen is a drive to have recipes and teachings to hand down to future kids of my own. Occasionally I do get a little like my dad and "just know" how to make things but don't really have a recipe. 

Now on the other hand, that is annoying. I know there is this cheesy red chili soup that my dad makes, but I knew asking him for a recipe would elicit me a "just throw what you want into a pot." Because literally, it is that easy for him. I do not know how he is so successful in just making amazing food.

So I used my Pinterest prowling skills and found this recipe and adapted it to some of the things I knew my dad did and it turned out AMAZING. (which is funny because the blogger says she adapted it to use real cheese and not velveeta....you bet my dad's recipe used velveeta though!) Kevin who is usually about ceremony, waiting till I get to the table to eat, was already halfway through his bowl and asking for seconds. So I would say it was a hit!

Oh and did I mention that it literally takes 20 minutes to make? Yeah, nothing better than that on a busy weeknight. Especially when you have your mom's homemade red enchilada sauce. Her and a bunch of girlfriends always get together to make it. I love it--and no, I do not know her recipe. :-(


Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1/2 of a white onion, diced
2 tablespoons of garlic powder
1/2 cup of flour
3 cups of warm water
3 tablespoons of chicken bouillon powder
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 1/2 cups of red enchilada sauce (or as much to your liking, I use homemade but you can use just a regular sized can)
1 can of Rotel (diced green chili/tomatoes)
4 ounces of velveeta cheese, cubed
4 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese
tortilla chips and sour cream (optional to top)

Directions:

Heat the oil in medium high heat in a large stock pot and add onion and garlic powder. Saute until the onion is almost translucent.

Add in half of the warm water and the flour. Stir and then add the chicken bouillon powder. Continue mixing and add the remaining water. Stir until a little thickened and add the chicken and can of rotel (juices and all).

Stir and continue stirring until mixture simmers. Add in velveeta cheese and shredded cheese stirring to combine, melt, and simmer. Be careful to keep stirring so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.

Serve the soup with toppings and enjoy!

March 22, 2017

What I Learned About Myself Recovering From Surgery

Will you ski again? After tearing my ACL, this was the question I got the most. How did I tear my ACL you ask? My husband and I went up to visit my family in Ohio and we decided to all go skiing in icy New York. Since I am used to all the great snow out west, I started skiing in the terrain park. You see where this can go wrong...you see I am a terminal intermediate. I will never be an amazing ski pro, so why I took a small little jump, I will never know. 

Just for the record, I would have been fine, but there was a hole at the bottom of the landing. My husband who is an advanced skiier even slipped in it. Ugh.

I knew when I got back up and tried to step into my ski, that I couldn't. I knew it was bad. I didn't have any strength. I don't even remember if I was in pain, I just knew that I had a road ahead of me. Turns out I was right. I had endless hours of PT, surgery, making Kevin follow me hand and foot, etc... 

And then there were things I could have never imagined in front of me. The nausea and itchy feeling since the pain medications didn't agree with me, the guilt of inactivity I had when I had a good knee, etc...

I declined going to the hospital or seeking any medical treatment while back east. I was very careful and did a lot of ice and elevation and waited to fly home and see my PCP to get an appointment for an MRI. I can't explain it, I just knew what was wrong and knew there wasn't anything anyone could do until I got home anyway.

Monday, I talked about how much I had learned about my marriage during my recovery, but I also learned a fair bit about myself.
Three big things I learned along my journey:

I am patient, but now I am far more patient. So is Kevin after worrying and putting up with me.

A life event like this is an emotional roller coaster. I did not cry during any process (including the actual tear itself) until a couple days after my surgery sitting on the toilet wondering how I got to feeling like this. Poor Kevin didn't know what had happened, but glamorous or not, let yourself feel the way you need to feel.

Don't worry. Yes, I did keep skiing after my injury. Yes, you will be you again. It is easy in the situation to think that you will never be normal again, but you will and there is no reason you shouldn't be. Freak accidents happen. I sustained a severe ankle sprain walking down a flight of stairs. I have also broken my pinky toe by walking to breakfast. Accept that life is freak and hard sometimes and be strong and keep doing you.


So if you have been knocked off the horse in life right now, know that you are not alone. Life is a learning curve.

March 20, 2017

In Sickness And In Health

This post has been in my drafts for a while. Three years ago today I had surgery after tearing my ACL/MCL/LCL in my left knee. I wrote a little bit during the recovery process (because what else was there to do besides watch TONS of TV?) but never really posted anything (apart from this pity party post).

So today on the third anniversary of my, albiet common and minor surgery, I am going to post about how amazing it is to have a great partner and what it taught me about my marriage (yes, really). I really can't believe it has been that long since the experience...
Of course, I already knew I had a wonderful husband, but we made vows in sickness and in health and during the whole process, Kevin was supportive, encouraging, wise, and kind. I had never experienced the feeling of not being able to do things on my own, but I was able to be completely reliant on him. He had to be exhausted and stressed, but he never complained. He continued to serve me essentially without expecting anything in return. Therefore I realized, that marriage is not always 50/50. Even with things smaller than surgery one partner may give, be, and help more. That is okay. Just as long was we both give 100 percent of love and devotion to each other.

So today is not our anniversary or a significant day to remember in our relationship per se, but it will be forever be a day I am reminded of how much I have learned and love in my marriage.

March 17, 2017

Lime Bars

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I hope you all are wearing your green so you don't get pinched! I am also eating some green and enjoying some citrus love! My lime tree is just blooming faster than I can use limes. Come on over if you need some limes!

So why not share a yummy and easy recipe for lime bars?!
You're welcome!




Ingredients:

For the crust:
1 cup of cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups of flour
For the lime layer:
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of flour
4 eggs
Juice of 4-5 limes
powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Spray a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Mix chopped cold butter, sugar, and flour in a food processor or mixer until blended.

Press mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

While that is baking, whisk together lime layer: the sugar, flour, eggs, and lime juice. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Before pouring lime layer over pastry mixture, re-whisk.

Bake for another 20 minutes or until top is slightly browned and lime layer is set.

Cool completely and sprinkle with powdered sugar then cut up and enjoy!

March 15, 2017

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict. So delicious and kind of a treat! If I am ordering out for breakfast, eggs benedict is what I order. Usually people only order them in restaurants and never make them at home. Challenge accepted. I made these for my family once celebrating some birthdays. My mom remarked that this was an impressive thing to know how to make and to make well. "Great for special occasions" she said...

Mom signature of approval? Plus her saying this is my signature dish? Cue the heart eyes emoji! But the trick to this recipe is that it is not homemade.

Let me explain. I have tried making my own hollandaise sauce so many times (I think I did so many experiments that my husband was sick of me...) I have even tried mock style sauces and they just aren't as good as using the powder.

Yep, you heard me. So grab a pack of hollandaise sauce mix and prepare to have a very amazing and easy breakfast! One that you can make on the special occasion breakfasts, but is also easy enough for a weekend breakfast.

This recipe makes six servings. You can do down to four with the amount of sauce you have from a packet. If you want to make less than four servings, you will have some sauce left over.


Ingredients:

1 package of English muffins
1 Hollandaise Sauce Mix Packet (plus ingredients according to packet, usually butter and cold water)
1 packet of Canadian bacon or ham
12 eggs
optional: asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, avocados, or whatever other toppings you want with your Benedict.


Directions:

Half English muffins and lightly toast. Place two halves on each plate.

Make Hollandaise sauce according to package instructions. Lightly fry Canadian Bacon/Ham (I have also used just straight cooked American Bacon and it was good too!)

Put meat on top of each half of English muffins.

Each half of English muffin will then need a poached egg* (see below my shortcut for a poached egg.)

Then apply any optional toppings** (see below for some of my favorite Egg Benedict combinations.

Then drizzle in sauce and sprinkle with some paprika. Enjoy!

*Lauren's trick to "poach" an egg.
Poaching eggs are hard, so I have a trick way that gets you a perfect egg with ease! Heat a medium sized frying pan. Crack two eggs sunny side up into pan. With the lid of the pan, take a little bit of water (about a tablespoon) and pour into the pan. Cover with lid leaving a small crack for steam to escape. Add water as needed to create steam. You do not want the eggs drowning in water, just enough water to create steam. You will notice the egg yolk turning pink. Take out of pan when slightly pink as it should be ready.

** Egg Benedict Combinations:
Classic: English muffin, Canadian bacon/ham, and poached egg with sauce.
Traditional: English muffin, Canadian bacon/ham, poached egg, and spinach with sauce.
Country: English muffin, Canadian bacon/ham, poached egg, and asparagus with sauce.
Californian: English muffin, Canadian bacon/ham, poached egg, sliced tomato, and diced avocado with sauce.
Sonoran: English muffin, Canadian bacon/ham, poached egg, avocado, and sauce with a little hot sauce added.
New Mexican: English muffin, American bacon, poached egg, and sliced green chili with sauce.
Burger Benedict: English muffin, hamburger, Monterrey jack cheese, spinach, tomato, poached egg, and sauce.


What is your favorite "fancy" breakfast?

March 13, 2017

Why I Don't Want to be my Own Boss

I just blew your mind didn't I? Some of the blogging community is rocking it being full time bloggers, but others have jobs outside of the blogging world. Many are looking for dream jobs and ladders to climb, but me...not so much.

I have forayed into management. I was climbing the ladder and really advancing into my career. Now I am back out of it and couldn't be happier. Do I miss certain aspects of being a boss? Sure, but I love that I am no longer working the demands of 50-60 hour work weeks trying to sustain my staff and such? No. Do I miss not being able to turn off work? No.
I think a lot of the problem is we are told how important hard work is. But I think those that work the hardest often have to give up everything else. I am just not willing to sacrifice my life for a job.

Do I love my job as a nurse, yes. But I always knew despite how much I love my job, I would be able to put my husband's job first. I do not mind this. I can go to any city and work and he cannot. My husband puts me first in every other imaginable way possible.

Plus I think he is the one that gives up more when we have kids. I mean who doesn't want to spend time with your kids?! He will be working and I would spend more time with kids. What happens if he is working and misses our kids first steps? He works hard so that I can do what jobs I want and when I want.

I am beyond blessed to do what I love, when I love, and how I love.


Give yourself permission to be whomever you want to be.
Anything is possible.

March 10, 2017

What to Bring in Your Carry-on for a Long Distance Flight

So the other day I was on a flight from Salt Lake City to Phoenix. There was a woman with a HUGE carry-on that she wanted under her seat to have access to. This is a flight that has a total flight time on 1.5 hours...how could you need that much stuff?  I guess we will have to add her to the list of bad airline passengers. Bring Everything Brianne? Seriously, I feel like even when I need things I can compact them! Previously I have listed nine travel essentials and trust me, they don't take up a lot of space. Now that I have taken many longer flights, I wanted to share what I have learned is worth packing for those.

Half of long flights are overnight so the lights are off half of the flight. The key to jet lag is to try to get on the time of where you are as fast as you can. So no matter how tired you are on the first day, you should try to get on the local time, and if you can start while on the flight (by sleeping or staying awake) that’s even better. Personally I found that my jet lag is much worse on the way home, versus when I get somewhere.

Even though sleeping and watching movies I haven’t seen yet are my favorite things to do on long flights, I still bring a little entertainment with me, but it is the other items that are really important.

So here are nine items to bring in your carry-on for a long flight in addition to my nine travel essentials:

one. A Neck Pillow: Sure they may give you a pillow, but it is not supportive enough. Don't wake up with a crick in your neck hampering your plans, it is just not worth it!

two. Socks: Some people may think I am crazy, but I love bringing my warm cashmere pair with me to keep me comfortable while sleeping in planes...sometimes it can get cold, and you don't want that! 

three. Headphones: This one should actually be on my list of nine and my camera can move to the other luggage. You never need your camera on the plane, but you absolutely need your headphones!

four: Sanitizing Wipes: So many people, so many germs. Wipe down your surfaces, you don't have time to get sick.

five. Medication: Some multivitamins, prescriptions (try and stay on your schedule), something for a headache, etc...you may need something!

six. More Snacks: Plane food just may not do it for you. Doesn't hurt to have some extra snacks on hand. I love a combo of almonds and semi sweet chocolate chips!

seven. Hand Cream: Like I said, those flights can be drying, so having a little lotion can do some wonders 

eight. Jewelry: I don't often check any jewelry that I would not be okay with losing. I keep it with me.

nine. A Couple of Essential Beauty Items: This is especially important if you are checking your main bag to your destination. You might want to consider bringing a change of clothing and your beauty items in your carry-on (or just adding another small bag with these emergency essentials in case your bag doesn’t make it).


What do you bring in your carry-on for long flights?

March 7, 2017

One Outfit

Wow, so someone asked me, if you have to choose one outfit to wear for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I would like to see fashion bloggers answer this question, but it really got to me, so I decided to think it through.

Something comfortable. Something I feel sexy in. Something dressy. Something casual. Something flattering. Something classic. Something trendy. 

What could possible encompass all of that?
A little black dress of course.

It breathes, it moves, and it isn't skin tight.
I can eat, move, and be classy in it.

Pair it with a chunky pair of heels and some great accessories (including arm candy as pictured above) and you have yourself a perfect outfit!


If you could wear one outfit, what would it be?

March 3, 2017

Ten Things To Do In Maui

Maui. It starts with an M, just like magic. You can find everything here on this island. I truly had a fun time when I was there. I based in Lahaina so I have a post about what to do there, but there is whole island to explore in Maui!

Here are ten spots that are truly magical in Maui Hawaii. Note, this does exclude Haleakala because I was not sure with the weather and the crowds, if it would be worth it. I may be a party pooper, but it is my party! Haha!
one. Bamboo Forest
I couldn't get good pictures here because of the time of the day, but make sure you make the time to do this hike. There is a hike you take to get into the bamboo forest, but trust me, it is worth it!

two. Feed The Eels
If you find some tide pools, grab some raw chicken and throw it in and wait. You will meet some pretty cool new friends.

three. The Road to Hana
I mean, bucket list item right here! Drive safely and counterclockwise! We did stop at the Huelo Lookout (MM 4.5) and quite honestly I would skip it if I did it again, but I would stop again and recommend you stop at Wailua Falls (MM 45) There were so many other places I wanted to stop hike, but going with a big group, people wanted to do a lot of different things. We ate at a stop called Bruddah Huts BBQ (in Hana as you are heading towards Kipahulu) and it is sure tasty!!

four. Banyan Trees
They are found all over the island and are truly spectacular!

five. Seven Sacred Pools
So I think this place in it's prime was probably pretty amazing. Now it is kind of run down with people, but I wouldn't miss this as a quick stop.

six. Nakalele Blowhole
Great ocean views and fun wonder of nature to see!

seven. Maui Winery
I love wine, and the history and grounds of the one winery on Maui were spectacular to experience. Their specialty is pineapple wine which was not as bad as others had said. I recommend doing a tour because the rich history (the tasting room dates back to the 1870s) gives you goosebumps. One con is that I feel the more people they had, the less attention and smaller the pours you got.

eight. Black Rock Beach
Quick Tip Alert! When you get here, walk down and look to the right for a cave. Upon first glance it looks like there is not a lot of room to explore, but it truly does open up into a spectacular cave.

nine. Waihee Ridge Trail
This was such a neat hike. We came early and were sure to grab some walking sticks. Be sure you do because some of the mud can make the hike a little slippery! But once you get going, the views are incredible. You are so high up that you feel closer to the people viewing the island in their helicopters than to the people down at the beach!

ten. The View From Anywhere
Just sit back and take it in! Here are some of my pictures I took just hanging out and enjoying the Maui lifestyle.
 
 


Maui has my heart and I would love to go back!
What is your favorite thing to do in Maui?

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