Love Always Wins

I feel a ridiculous amount of joy when I’m able to connect with somebody in the elevator on my way into the office in the morning. When the woman in line at Target and I bond over our love for the same simple chapstick that we each buy in bulk.When the sweet and incredibly shy man who has repeatedly made me the perfect sandwich for 2 years at my favorite lunch spot finally looks me in the eye and grins at my attempt to start conversation, when I swear to god I’ve tried to get a smile out of him forever. And when I order a coffee and the barista grins and proudly says “Well look at that!

Beautiful moments shared with complete strangers rock my world. This little love note made my day. And it reminded me that no matter what shape or form it comes in or who delivers it love always wins. 
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Recipe: Chocolate Pomegranate Bark

When I met Ryanne, a close friend of mine, one of the first things we bonded over was food, especially one of the key things in both our diets: chocolate. Seriously. We’ve been through a lot since then. But one of our favorite things to do is cook, especially if the 49ers are playing or the Bachelor/Bachelorette is on.

Ryanne and I work together but she recently had her babygirl and is working from home. But we still chat via Skype everyday so it’s almost as good as sitting across from her at the office. As usual we picked a recipe during the week and got together over the weekend to catch up and cook. We decided to make Chocolate Pomegranate Ginger Bark to give as gifts to friends for the holidays. Because chocolate makes us happy, and we obviously want to share that happiness.

We found the recipe on Pinterest, but you can head over to the blog B&D (Baking & Design) for the recipe. It’s delicious and I had to practice a lot of self-control while gift wrapping it because I wanted it all for myself.

Enjoy!

Pomegranate Bark

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Wodka & Split Ends

It’s Monday, but technically it’s Wednesday so I am treating it like-so. I leave on vacation on Wednesday night so I’m having my new favorite cocktail while I search for the vent my landlord claims exists in my apartment.

I was given a washer and dryer yesterday and I couldn’t be more excited to do laundry, or more thankful for my amazing friends Ryanne & Pat. Unfortunately there is everything except a vent for the dryer.. but apparently it’s here somewhere… (highly unlikely) So I’m searching for it while slightly intoxicated. Sounds pretty logical to me.

Okay, let’s get to the important part. The cocktail. I call it “Wodka” but I’m sure there is a real name for it, I just don’t know what it is and I like wodka better anyway. It’s so much better than it sounds. Plus, 6 limes for a $1 make ya holla.

1 oz of vodka
1 oz fresh lime juice
3 oz water
crushed ice

Boom. Delicious.

WodkaI had my hair cut on Saturday and I am so happy about it. Call me shallow, but sometimes all you need is a good drink, one of your best friends over for dinner & a haircut to get you through the day. Life is good, this wodka is better, and I don’t have split ends.

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Reality Check & Staying Humble

I watched the bill on the register add up “$5…$10…$13…$18.59..” I politely stopped the woman at the cashier who I’ve known for years. I was at Reams, our neighborhood grocery store I went to with my mom growing up.

Can you please remove the most expensive items in order to drop the price to $17.00?” A year ago this would have made my heart stop & my eyes possibly well up with tears from embarrassment. There were at least 4 people in line behind me. Instead, I gave them a warm smile & apologized for the delay.

I’m two days from pay day & this is normal. I’ve planned for groceries & gas until then. I watch my budget carefully each month & I only purchase the things that I need. Let’s just say there aren’t any random shopping splurges or moments that lack gratitude in my life. At first this was an adjustment for me. But now I remember that living on my own is a luxury, and that this is my reality.

When I was younger I imagined that I would feel some sort of shame and embarrassment in this situation. Thankfully my life has dramatically changed and I have been exposed to the real world and the strict rules my independence casts. And I’m more than okay with it, because my struggles are blessings in others eyes.

As I grabbed my bags of groceries and walked out of the store I did not feel anything negative. In fact I felt proud that I had remembered my limit, made a plan, and stuck to it. The man directly behind me smiled and gave a little chuckle with a nod. It gave me comfort knowing that he understood. It was an overall humbling experience, and it certainly won’t be the last.

I live a very fortunate life. I have a job I love, a roof over my head, warm clothes, a meal on the table, clean water… a family that helps me when they can. I could go on. I swear my prayers turn into rambles because of this exact reason.. I am so thankful.

So many people live paycheck to paycheck (or on food stamps) with children, illnesses, and unstable living situations. And they accept that with grace. I look up to those who make it work, find creative ways to make do, and walk out of the store with their head held high knowing that it doesn’t reflect on them. It’s just life.

When I wake up in the morning and my eyeballs are swollen shut from sleeping so hard I just lay there and think “Wow, this is mine.” And that is what motivates me to work hard everyday and accept these reality checks when they happen (and they happen often) These are the things that keep me grounded.

I found a fantastic new food blog called Budget Bytes. I was so excited when I found it because each recipe is not only delicious but there is a price on all the items it calls for. Tonight I made Garlic Parmesan Kale angel hair pasta. It was guilt-free love, and is now a new favorite recipe of mine. Quick, easy, healthy, and inexpensive ($4, as a matter of fact)

Whether you’re on a tight budget or not I recommend visiting Budget Bytes. And don’t forget to welcome moments like this with love and strength, because we all need a reminder to stay humble :)

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Finding My Fitspiration

Good morning sunshines! I start a strict meal plan & workout routine this Thursday. Kelsey & I are doing it together which is a bonus because I always excel with a partner, especially when it’s my gym-loving best friend.

I decided to hit the gym early today before work. It’s 5:30 a.m & I don’t know how people do this! Luckily there is a lot on my mind so it was fairly easy to wake up. I am still deciding if I should go all natural or purchase a pre-workout. Right now I’m sticking to 2 cups of black coffee & a plain rice cake with some all natural peanut butter (dying for bananas right now) Do you use pre-workout?

It’s leg day & I tend to feel a little self conscious in the weight area when I’m solo. I’m looking forward to gaining confidence in that area. What are your favorite ways to stay motivated to stick to your routine & healthy food choices? Do you use a pre-workout or do you stick to good ole’ black coffee? I’d love your feedback. They say that it takes around 3 weeks to form a habit… Here’s to day one :)

Pre-workout day 1

“It takes 4 weeks for you to notice your body changing, 8 weeks for your friends, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world. Give it 12 weeks. Don’t quit.”

 

Fall Favorites: Toddys + Pumpkin Cookies

When the air is crisp & the leaves begin to change all I want to do is cuddle up in my little abode with a comforting meal. I made perogies with Italian sausage for dinner the other night (I’ll add cabbage on the side next time) & had a sweet tooth that needed some attention afterwards.

Here is the recipe for the perfect hot toddy with a side of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. This was my first time making cookies & I was so pleased with how easy & delicious they were. We had a Breaking Bad marathon & ate way too many cookies, it was the perfect night.

What are some of your Fall favorites in your home?

Hot Toddy + Pumpkin Cookies

Hot Toddy

  • 2 ounces whiskey (the Canadian in me prefers Pendleton )
  • 1-2 tablespoons of honey (depends on personal preference)
  • 4 oz of boiling water
  • Juice from half a lemon 
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg 
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 slice fresh lemon + for garnish (optional)

1. Pour the whiskey, water, and honey into your favorite mug.

2. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves & lemon juice. Garnish with your slice of lemon & add a pinch of nutmeg when it’s ready to serve.

The Easiest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies… Ever

  • 1 can of pumpkin (15 oz)
  • 1 box of spice cake mix
  • 1 bag of chocolate chips (I use 1 1/2 bags.. we love chocolate at my house)

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Put spoonfuls of the dough on a cookie sheet

3. Bake for 12-15 minutes

The things I encourage you to do: #1

Smoke expensive cigars and invite Dean Martin to keep you company. Learn to salsa. Mambo all night. Walk barefoot to feel grounded and swim to places you’ll never completely touch. Call the family members that made distance taste so bitter for so long. Allow yourself to be sweet. Kiss the rugged man whose love is unavailable but has a smile that leaves a mark.

Jump in your car and drive to a handful of strangers for a weekend of adventure. Let your feet hang off the boat at midnight and howl at the full moon without feeling silly. Curl up in bed with your journal and tell your secrets, find comfort in them being safe there. Wear high heels and dance until your feet burn. Take the long way home from work, roll all the windows down, and blast your favorite song. Make mad passionate love, and do it often. Order an extra glass of pinot and have that last piece of cheese (you know you want it)

Eat tomatoes right off the plant and don’t take note of the small dirty spot. Slip into your favorite Summer dress and wear that lipstick you love just because. Take hikes on your own and marvel at mother natures gifts. Splurge on over-priced “organic” sandwiches and pellegrino every once in a while. And do all of this without having to give anyone in the world a single explanation.

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