Archive | January, 2017

Happy Happenings – January 2017

31 Jan

A few years ago I took part in a 60 day Facebook group happiness challenge hosted by a fitness/wellness counselor. The whole basis of the challenge was learning to let go and move past the things that have hurt us in the past, that we may be holding onto still, and that are preventing us to be fully happy in the present. During the course of those 60 days, we had homework and weekly activities that we were required to complete in order to remain in the program. As a result of those exercises, I learned a lot about myself.

One of our challenges was to notice and publicly share three things each day that brought us joy or made us happy, not matter how big or how small. At first, finding three positive things was a challenge, but then it switched to how do you choose only three! When I was drafting my end of year post for 2016, I was recalling all of the negative things that had happened, but I could hardly remember the positive, and that was devastating. In that moment, I decided it was once again time to focus on happiness.

Beginning on January 1, I shared my three things, and from that day on, I have shared three or more things that blessed my life or brought me joy. It was amazing to see how my outlook on life shifted, and how my small acts of gratitude became contagious within my little sphere of Facebook. Over this month, many have reached out to say how much they enjoy reading my “Happy Happenings” each day and how it is nice to see some positivity in a world full of evil.

My goal is to compile all of these moments through the year so that I will have them to look back on when New Year’s Eve rolls around again. I want to be overflowing with happiness and joy and blessings from a fantastic 2017. And I want to share this positive energy with all of you, so without further ado, here are January’s Happy Happenings!

  1. Spent the first 45 minutes of the new year lighting sparklers with Scott and Macayla.
  2. The worship band sang one of my favorite songs this morning – “Whom Shall I Fear” by Chris Tomlin.
  3. Traditional pigs in the blanket for lunch to bring good luck! img_0020
  4. Boys vs. girls Catch Phrase round 2 with Scott, Mom , dad , Megan and Austin.
  5. Last day to sleep in for holiday break.
  6. Trying a new recipe with Scott and it was delicious!
  7. Quiet time reading before bed.
  8. Was slightly amused when I discovered my scarf and hair bow perfectly matched the color of my work water bottle. I may like that color just a little! 😂🙈
  9. The Well was FANTASTIC tonight!! Such a beautiful Women’s Ministry is happening at DFC. Tonight we brought our shame into the light so it won’t discolor or discourage us in the new year. By bringing it to the light, it loses its power. 🙏🏻
  10. 9 minute power workout in my bedroom! Little steps = future big rewards! 💪🏻
  11. Seeing my work friends after a wonderful week off! Missed them!
  12. Tried a new recipe for dinner – vegan stuffed peppers and they were FANTASTIC!
  13. How cute it is when Scotty falls asleep on my shoulder while we’re watching TV. (I love you, hun!!!) 😍😘❤️
  14. My sister Megan officially KICKED CANCER’s butt!!! 5 years clean!! God is Good!!!
  15. A box of doTERRA essential oils was delivered. Love how these oils are safe and allow me to replace medicine – all natural healing and wellness is a game changer for me!
  16. Made it home safely on the slippery roads today.
  17. Joined my church’s challenge to memorize 24 scriptures in 12 months. The verse I’ve selected for the first half of the month is pictured.img_0042
  18. IT’S FRIDAY!
  19. Got a mile workout in during lunch on the walking desk treadmill in the library.
  20. Chocolate – enough said!
  21. Successfully packed all of our Christmas things in one bin! Christmas Tetris level- master.
  22. Reminiscing about past Christmas ornaments while taking them down is almost as fun as reminiscing while putting them up. Fun time helping mom pack away the “sister” tree.
  23. Yiruma iheartradio station while doing dishes is so relaxing.
  24. Chilly nights means adding another blanket to the bed. Busted out my 2005 “Let it snow” seminary blanket and had to laugh remembering all the chilly mornings with Aunt Khristy and Manda studying scriptures before school.
  25. Saw a rainbow while driving to my parents’ house this morning.
  26. Not sure how it started, but Megan, mom, dad and I ended up quoting most of the movie “Jingle All the Way” on the drive home from church.
  27. Sunday afternoon naps are the best!
  28. A coworker surprised us and brought in homemade coffee cake! Yumm!
  29. An Aldi opened up nearby and I had my first successful solo shopping trip there tonight.
  30. Going to bed BEFORE 11:30 p.m.
  31. I get so much joy from purging the office of 5 year old papers, projects and posters. Why were we holding onto all of that stuff?!
  32. All the girls at the office loved my LuLaRoe leggings and Carlie dress! Super cute, comfy and warm!
  33. Best cousin-in-law award tonight goes to Michael!! Thank you for coming over to jump start Scott’s car! We really appreciate it! And thanks for bringing Manda so we could chat and the boys so I could listen to them yell/sing through the window!
  34. Made it to work with enough time to sit, observe and snap a photo of God’s beautiful sunrise. #nofilter img_0049
  35. The custodians did a FANTASTIC job deep cleaning my new office!
  36. Listening to the soothing sound of piano music.
  37. First full day of work in my BRAND NEW OFFICE SPACE! After a year and a half with no walls or door, it’s so nice to have a private, comfortable, creative space of my own! Goodbye cubicle!!
  38. So much joy comes from crossing items off my to-do list! Felt so productive today.
  39. Nothing better than coming home on a chilly evening and curling up with a warm blanket and cheesy hallmark movie!
  40. Peppermint and Motivate in my diffuser at work – one of my new favorite blends!
  41. First time making eggplant parmigiana and it wasn’t horrible!
  42. Watched “Singin’ in the Rain” with Scotty!!!! ☂️🌧💧
  43. Fresh mango for breakfast! My favorite fruit!
  44. Saturday outfit of choice – LuLaRoe leggings and an Irma! Stylish, warm and comfy!
  45. Game night with Macayla, Mason, Scotty, Mom and dad. We laughed so hard while playing the marble game, 5 Second Rule and Apples to Apples. Great Saturday night! img_0059
  46. All caught up on The Bachelor drama.
  47. Michael to the rescue…again. Scott and I really appreciate it!
  48. Trying out my new diffuser – enjoying the smells of Wild Orange and Purify.
  49. Green smoothies are DELICIOUS!
  50. Friendly lady at the grocery store let me go in front of her because I only had two items and she had a heaping cart.
  51. Blogging
  52. The rain stopped and the sun came out right at 5 pm as I was leaving work.
  53. I love designing and interacting with the students on our various social media accounts.
  54. New year means turning over a new leaf at work – stepped outside my comfort zone and presented a few ideas I’ve been playing with. Not only were they accepted, I was complimented for my creativity and diversity.
  55. Collaborating as a team means our events will be that much cooler!
  56. Disney pointing to direct a lost student to the building she needed.
  57. Submitting an assignment a day early. Now to read 100 pages and write a journal (700-800 words) all before Sunday! Bring it on spring semester!
  58. Warm blankets
  59. Scott had dinner nearly finished when I got home from work – tried a new veggie burger recipe. Next time we’ll leave the sunflower seeds out – GROSS (I picked all mine out!)
  60. Relaxing shower before bed.
  61. Had a great meeting with the center for nursing research.
  62. Had a fantastic conference call with alumni relations and advancement. Both are onboard for an upcoming project!
  63. Had a great night at Dave & Busters kicking off Megan’s birthday weekend.
  64. Loved seeing all the photos of my cousin, Erin, who graduated from basic training on her mom’s (Aunt Anita’s birthday!)
  65. Megan thanks for letting me get my puppy fix this morning! Archie is lovable and ADORABLE!!
  66. Had a pretty good hair day! Sorry, no photos!
  67. Celebrated my wonderful, fantastic momma’s birthday with hibachi and froyo! Love you so very much mom and hope you had the most perfect birthday! img_0094
  68. Watching Megan and Austin attempt the bicycle challenge = HYSTERICAL!
  69. Great message today in church all about God’s promises!
  70. Celebrated Megan’s birthday with a delicious meal made by mom , with ice cream cake for dessert! Happy birthday lil sis! Hope it was as super duper cool as you are! Make this year 100% awesome!!img_0096
  71. Submitted my homework on time! It was a close call, I was worried I wouldn’t make it! Week 1 done!
  72. Seeing Grandma and Papa after they’ve been away on vacation for 3 weeks! Great to have them home!
  73. We pulled off a FANTASTIC birthday party for the college today complete with a message from our president and musical entertainment provided by the Men’s Chorus!
  74. At said birthday party, two different papers (local and student media) were there to cover the event as a result of my media alert! First time the local paper has come to anything I’ve invited them to at the college!
  75. Extra cupcakes from the birthday party meant I was sent home with a to-go box to share with Scott!
  76. Coverage of our birthday party was on the front page (just below the fold) of the paper. And yes, that is me in the photo the paper selected. As you can see, I really was broadcasting it live on Facebook! Hahaha!
  77. Splitting a left-over cupcake with a coworker for a much-needed afternoon sugar boost!
  78. Being “kid napped” by Manda on a quick trip to Walmart. It was fun to laugh and catchup!
  79. Thanks dad for reminding me how to check the tire pressure in my car! You’re the best!
  80. Happy birthday to my Disney Sister, Kellan! Had a blast chatting tonight!
  81. Thank you Michael for taking care of the pesky nail in my tire! You are a FANTASTIC mechanic! img_0579
  82. Ordering lunch from my phone at my desk and having it ready by the time I had walked over to the Student Center to pick it up! No waiting in the 20 minute line – FastPass, work edition!
  83. Discovering we had all of the ingredients necessary to make garlic kale veggie burgers WITHOUT a trip to the grocery store! It’s the little things in life! 🙂
  84. Great breakfast meeting at Bob Evans with a coworker and the woman a prestigious College of Nursing award is named after.
  85. Great comment from my Dean as I was heading out the door all smiles on my way to a meeting: “Give you a little freedom and you’re flying around building relationships and making connections!” She told me she’s always thought my work was good, but now, she’s seeing a happier, more creative and idea-producing side emerge!
  86. At said meeting, got my ad approved with only minor revisions to make!
  87. Nothing beats ending your night with a banana chocolate peanut butter smoothie! (Made with 1 frozen banana, almond milk, PB2 chocolate, and chocolate protein powder.)
  88. Singing along to my favorite songs on the radio on my way to work!
  89. So proud of my friend, Tracy! She’s the first nursing student to guest blog for the college and her post went live today!
  90. Pizza and cheesy TV sitcoms are the best way to spend a Friday evening after a long work week!
  91. Thankful for the firefighters who leave their warm beds in the middle of the night to keep me and my neighbors safe. Watching as they check out and clear the building across from mine as it’s alarms were going off. photo
  92. Surprise visit from my dad . It was nice having time to chat, just the two of us! Love you, dad!
  93. Afternoon nap
  94. Finally deciding the topic for my final project in my PR History and Modern world class.
  95. Laughing and joking around with Macayla and Mason! I love seeing how happy he makes her and how comfortable he is in our family dynamic!
  96. Dad and mom sent me home with leftover stuffed peppers and now I don’t have to pack a lunch for work tomorrow!
  97. Journal and final project proposal both submitted before the deadline! Learning so much in the class already and we’ve only just finished week 2!
  98. Angie encouraged me and I encouraged her to go on the “mindful mile” walk at noon with the wellness group. It may have been only 20 degrees, but once we got moving, talking and laughing, the time flew and we couldn’t believe how fast that mile went! img_0581
  99. Had a great workout on the treadmill tonight. It was also great having the whole apartment fitness facility to myself!
  100. Finally all caught up (with the exception of tonight’s episode) on The Bachelor!
  101. My nameplate arrived and looks wonderful on my office door! NOW it feels like my office!
  102. Discussing all the drama that is The Bachelor with my work friends.
  103. While I typically enjoy going to the gym alone, it was nice having Scott tag along this time! We each did our own workouts, but it was nice spending that time working on our physical health together.
  104. After 31 days in a row, my iPad now products “Happy happenings from today” and that makes me so happy!

Tater tot tragedy

18 Jan

We’ve all been there, you see a post on Pinterest and think “I can totally do that.” I had such a moment this evening and in my oh so humble opinion, it was an epic fail.

In the battle of four ingredient zucchini tater tots vs. the aspiring chef, the tots were victorious. What should have been a stress-free endeavor according to the original post that spiked my interest, turned into a frustrating experience.

Here were tonight’s highlights:

  • The tots just didn’t hold their shape. No matter what I did to shape them, even resorting to using a tablespoon as a mold, mine looked more like mini mountains of grass than the perfectly shaped cylinders  I saw on Pinterest.
  • What should have taken 15 minutes to brown, actually took FOREVER (read as 25 minutes), and the moment they browned they burned instantaneously. Luckily no smoke alarms went off during the making of these tots. 
  • Oh and turning them over halfway during baking, forget about it…they crumbled into pieces.
  • As for the taste, it was alright, probably should have used more seasoning I think.

I guess it’s possible my zucchini to potato ratio may have been off – I had two very small zucchini to two good size potatoes. I was also impatient and hungry, and in hindsight should have left them in the freezer longer.

So while the battle may have been lost this round, I may demand a rematch. Until then, maybe I’ll stick with store-bought!

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The Green Machine!

16 Jan

I love the color green, it’s one of my favorites. And I love smoothies, even in the wintertime. So putting the two together – why have I not done that sooner?

As I was off work today due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I decided to make my first ever Green Smoothie chalk-full of healthy, natural and delicious greens! One of my favorite ways to waste time (when I should be doing homework, or folding laundry, or making a shopping list) is watching various cooking channels on YouTube. And since we’ve started this new lifestyle, I’ve added a few new channels to the mix focusing on consuming foods raw and in their natural state. Needless to say, I’ve watched a dozen or so videos on different ways to construct the ultimate Green Smoothie and I was feeling up to the challenge!

Unfortunately for you,  I didn’t follow a particular recipe, nor did I measure my ingredients. So trust me when I say you’ll just have to trust your gut on this one, it won’t steer you wrong!

Here’s what I had on hand today:

  1. 1 frozen banana
  2. About a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  3. 1 Granny Smith apple
  4. About 1/2 frozen pineapple (I picked through a bag of mixed frozen fruit for what I wanted!)
  5. 2 heaping handfuls of spinach
  6. 2 heaping handfuls of kale
  7. 2-4 drops of lemon essential oil (I had doTERRA, use whichever brand you prefer, or juice the real thing if you have one handy!)

Now, here’s where things got a little interesting – I had everything in the blender, pushed the button to mix it all together and milk goes everywhere! As the blender was already assembled when I went to use it, I didn’t know there was a large crack in the base. (Ugg!!) Food processor to the rescue and the smoothie was saved!

Personally, I loved the taste! Hints of tropical paradise with the pineapple and lemon. Nice and creamy with the banana. And the spinach and kale made it a beautiful shade of green! This is one I plan to make again – even Scott enjoyed the taste!

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For dinner tonight, we incorporated the kale again by making this delicious Spaghetti Squash with Kale, Fire-Roasted tomatoes and chickpeas. Just a wee bit too much kick for me (may have added a dash too many of the red pepper flakes!) but overall fantastic and very filling! We had enough leftover to each enjoy it for lunch later this week – and that’s a win in my book!

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What’s in my basket?

9 Jan

I will be the first to admit that I hate shopping. It doesn’t matter what for – clothes, household items, or groceries – I absolutely hate shopping. The only exception being the bookstore, I could literally spend hours there and not have enough time!

Anyways, about a week ago, an Aldi grocery store opened up near our apartment and Scott and I were thrilled! We have heard my parents and friends talk about how great this store is and how inexpensive their selections are because of the different cost-saving initiatives the store have implemented company wide.

With my shopping list in hand, I prepared for my first solo Aldi shopping trip.

Here’s what I got:

  • 3 small zucchini squash – 0.99
  • Kalamata olives – 2.29
  • Flat leaf spinach – 1.79
  • 2 jars of peach mango salsa – 3.98
  • Organic kale – 2.49
  • A bag of sweet potatoes – 1.49
  • 10lb russet potatoes – 2.99
  • Crushed red pepper flakes – 0.99
  • 16 oz cucumbers – 0.79
  • 2 pts grape tomatoes – 3.98
  • White sliced mushrooms – 1.49
  • Cauliflower – 1.99
  • A bag of lemons – 2.89
  • Roasted garlic hummus – 1.99
  • Red/white quinoa – 2.49
  • 2 mangoes – 1.98
  • A bag of Granny Smith apples – 2.99
  • 6 Avocados – 3.54

Grand total: $41.14

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Now, as this was my first shopping trip, I’m not sure if that’s a good haul or not, but at least now I have something to compare future trips to. And, this was ingredients for four dinners…not too shabby.

What’s in your shopping cart this week?!

Wellness Wednesday – Vegan Stuffed Bell Peppers

4 Jan

The past few days we have done very good about avoiding meat and dairy products. I was even off to a great start this morning with my bowl of oatmeal and a banana and a lunch filled with a veggie “chicken” patty, cucumber, carrots, and apple slices. Before I left for work I even had in my first 20 oz of water for the day.

However, things went south when I got to work and learned we were celebrating two birthdays with a pizza party and chocolate fudge brownies. Being only 4 days into this lifestyle change, I caved. I told you I’d share the good, bad, and ugly and here it is.  I had two slices of Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza and a brownie square and another 20 oz of water. A few hours later, however, I was regretting that choice. My stomach was in knots and I felt like I needed to temporarily move in to the bathroom because I was visiting it so frequently they were going to start charging rent! Okay, enough of that.

For dinner tonight I knew I needed to get myself back on track. So I looked though our refrigerator, jumped on Pinterest, made a shopping list and went to work creating a new masterpiece.

Tonight I present you with vegan stuffed bell peppers. However, I tweaked the recipe ever so slightly to fit our needs.

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The original recipe called for a-couple-kinds of cheese, I eliminated those along with the cilantro because we don’t like the flavor of that herb. Another change I made was switching out quinoa for white rice and chopped up in the food processor. In addition, I substituted corn with a half bag of mixed vegetables to add a bit more color, crunch and flavor, and replaced petite diced tomatoes with halved cherry tomatoes. I kept all of the spices the same, however I didn’t have onion powder on hand so I just left it out.

As for as the taste – this dish has a mexican feel to it. I’ve decided to use the leftover stuffing for burritos, enchiladas or quesadillas later this week. The stuffing could even be warmed back up and eaten as a dish by itself, it’s that good! One thing I can tell you after devouring this meal, this stuffed pepper stuffs you! My tummy is happy and content and feeling a million times better than lunchtime.

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In thinking to the future and making this dish again, I would probably use a bit more spice – the flavor was good, but I personally like a bit more punch and pizzazz with the flavor. Switching out the ingredients in the stuffing could be fun as well – garlic, summer squash, sweet potato or even different kinds of beans may taste good.

Let me know if you decide to give these stuffed peppers a try! What alterations would you make to the recipe?!

The Veggie Takeover!

2 Jan

The New Year is often associated with resolutions…be happier, spend more time with the family, work less, lose weight, eat healthier. These are all great and I hope that anyone who makes them sticks with it through the long hall.

This year, I’m not participating in resolutions that will fall by the wayside before February. Rather, Scott and I are committing to making a lifestyle change to eat a whole food, plant-based diet instead. We began talking about this in early December 2016 after visiting with his family for the holidays and expressing our concern about some health issues. We were encouraged to make this change after listening to the health benefit testimonies from his family members who have been eating this way for a few years. They graciously provided us with multiple resources to get us started, including the documentary Forks Over Knives, which we finally had the time to sit down, watch and learn the many interesting facts and statistics it presented today.

I will be honest, a-couple-weeks ago we tried our first plant-based meal, a veggie burger, and it was disgusting, completely lacking in flavor, although it was pretty-looking plate. Two things happened as a result of that meal, first, I had a meltdown thinking about all the food I’d be giving up (beef, chicken, turkey, ice cream, cheese, sweet treats) and I lost it. I didn’t want to do this and I was angry because in that moment I felt Scott was “making me” do this, even though he wasn’t, he fully supported me not following him on this journey. Second, we began to learn what worked and what didn’t (namely, the beans we selected and the veggies we included), and that we NEEDED to find a different “burger” recipe and fast!

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Since that inaugural vegan meal, we have had success in the kitchen. We found a “cheese” sauce made with cauliflower that we put on baked potatoes one night and then used the leftover sauce on noodles for macaroni and “cheese” the next night with garlic and basil roasted red potatoes. While that dish had no dairy or animal byproduct, I was able to fool my brain into thinking it was the thick and creamy mac and cheese from childhood! That recipe is a keeper in my book!

For lunch today, Scott whipped up Avocado Pasta with cherry tomatoes and corn. As a side we had some pretzels with garlic hummus. The avocado sauce called for fresh basil, which we cut from our plant, so it great knowing one of the ingredients was grown by us! Another fantastic dish in the books! We have decided that anything that calls for avocado is going to be delicious!

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In addition to these, we have enjoyed making our own homemade guacamole for a tasty snack or side!

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I know not every meal will earn two thumbs up, and there will be days that I struggle. But I have decided to be 95/5, meaning 95% of the time I will be fully committed to this eating behavior, but if I am out with friends and want a piece of pepperoni pizza, I’ll have it. If I’m over at my parents house and my dad decides to grill up some hamburgers, I’m going to enjoy one. These times will be the 5% – the special treats, the once in a blue moon occurrences.

To hold myself accountable and to gain support from others who have made this lifestyle change, I’m going to be sharing my experiences with you – the good, the bad and the ugly, the highs and lows, the failures and successes. If you have any go-to recipes that don’t call for meat, dairy or other animal byproducts, please share with me!