Friday, August 23, 2013

I Hope You Dance

I've been a little MIA from this blog, but still enjoy reading other blogs on a daily basis for inspiration, motivation and sometimes "just because".

I typically always find an interesting recipe, a great workout idea or the true gems are when some of the blogs I follow post more introspective topics that speak to my heart.

I plan to get back on the posting train, but as of right now I'm in the midst of getting really excited for my bachlorette weekend, which is starting in just a few hours! It's amazing that this weekend will be in celebration of my upcoming wedding to the most incredible man who helps me up when I feel weak, believes in me more than I believe in myself sometimes, and who genuinely cares for me and our relationship.

I was recently flipping through some of our photos together and noticed that a lot of them involved a common theme when we're at weddings - dancing!

Here are some of my favorite photos sprinkled in with the Lee Ann Womack's song "I Hope You Dance." (Warning: The below is little cheesy I know, but I'm feeling extra mushy lately about this man :)

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.


I hope you dance....I hope you dance.


I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin',
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin',
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin' out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.


I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance


I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance, 
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.


I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Parmesan Truffle Popcorn Recipe

Holy yum.

Parmesan cheese. Sea Salt. White Truffle Oil.


It may not look like much, but it's better than anything you've ever bought from the store.

After Justin and I inhaled this, he said he didn't know how we ever bought popcorn from the store before this, and I totally agree.

Homemade popcorn is so much cheaper and healthier. You can buy a bag for less than $2 and it makes at least 15 servings. We typically make about 3-4 cups at a time.

I was recently flipping through a magazine and came across a healthy snack idea. It said that 3 cups of popcorn with 2 tsp. Parmesan cheese and some sea salt was only 120 calories.

This inspired tonight's snack; however, ours included a secret ingredient - white truffle oil. Its aroma and flavor just take this popcorn over the top.

The back of the kernel bag gives directions on how to make the popcorn. These directions pretty much say to heat canola or vegetable oil in a pot over medium high heat. Place a kernel in the center and cover. When this kernel pops, you add your desired amount of kernels to the pot, making sure to keep it as one sparse layer. If you add too many kernels, they won't all pop.

I like to slightly crack the lid once I put all of the kernels into the pot to give it more air, and I recall reading that it helps keep the popcorn from burning.

Once you hear the kernels stop popping, quickly remove from heat and into a serving bowl. I generously sprinkled fresh Parmesan cheese, sea salt and a light drizzle of white truffle oil and then sifted the bowl around to coat evenly.

Enjoy!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Simple, Delicious Pork Tenderloin in Slow Cooker Recipe

During the week, I'm all about quick, simple and delicious meals.

I've especially loved using the crock pot to help me. Nothing is more amazing then coming home at night from the gym and having dinner waiting for you.


My work is close to home, so I go home for lunch every day. Thankfully, I use a few minutes of this time to throw what I need into the slow cooker in preparation for dinner. You can even do it in the morning if you can't take your lunch break at home.

Planning in advance for meals is key to eating healthy. If I don't have my normal staples in the house, I cannot throw together a quick, healthy meal. I'm always planning my next feast :)

This slow cooker recipe was almost a goner because we lost our wine opener and the recipe called for 3/4 cup red wine. I considered scratching the whole thing, but then called Justin for some words of widsom. Naturally, he recommend googling a substitute. Genius. He always has a calm response to my nonsense, mini meltdowns.

Without further ado, here is the super yummy pork tenderloin recipe. Oh, and it's cheap! I highly, highly recommend!


Simple, Delicious Pork Tenderloin in Slow Cooker Recipe
Serves 3-4
Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients:
1.5 pound pork tenderloin
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 cup water
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 chicken bouillon cube
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

Directions:
- Place pork tenderloin in the slow cooker with the contents of the soup packet. Pour water, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and crumble bouillon cube. Turn the pork in the mixture to coat. Carefully spread garlic over the pork, leaving as much on top of the roast during cooking as possible.
- Cook on low for 6 hours. Serve the cooking liquid as au jus on the side.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Favorite Workouts

Whenever I'm in the mood for a good interval run or feel inspired to tone my arms, I typically refer to a few tried-and-true workouts that always leave me fatigued and satisfied. Below are some cardio and toning routines that have become my favorites.

Arms
This workout from Tone It Up is my favorite one for toning my arms. The movements are simple, but I instantly feel the burn. Make sure you use weights that challenge you. It's interesting because I don't feel the burn with 3 pound weights, but when I use 5 pounds, I'm struggling to finish. I guess this shows how much I need to work on my upper body strength :)



Legs
I have a hard time committing to a toning workout if its not a Body Pump class, but this Tone It Up leg workout is fun, challenging, and leaves me super sore the next day.


Cardio Circuit
I randomly gave this workout a whirl when all of the cardio machines were taken at the gym, and it left me utterly sweaty and sore. It combines cardio and strength, which makes one effective workout that takes 20-25 minutes. Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers has a number of other great cardio circuits that make cardio fun and fly by if you're not in the mood for the elliptical or treadmill. Also, I substitute high knees for box jumps and mountain climbers for jump rope if I don't have the equipment.


Walking Workout
Sometimes I just don't want to run or do the elliptical, but want something challenging. This walking workout by PBF looks like a breeze, but leaves me huffing and puffing. Honestly, running would be easier then trucking up these inclines.


Treadmill Workouts
This is my absolute FAVORITE treadmill workout when I'm in the mood for a distance run on the "dreadmill". I easily get bored if I'm running a steady pace on the treadmill so intervals or progression runs like this one keep my mind occupied and my body sweating.


 Tone It Up teamed up with Shape Magazine last spring and posted several HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, and I wrote them all down. When I'm whipping myself into shape, I typically try and do these at least twice a week. Some are less than 30 minutes and really push you. They've made me so much faster and stronger as a runner, but they also quickly leaned out my body. When I did their HIIT runs twice a week, I noticed results after the first week, and peak fitness after a couple months. Here's an example of one:

 
Hope you enjoy these workouts as much as I do!



Friday, February 1, 2013

My Blogger's Digest: II

In the mood for something light, but interesting to read? Check out some blog posts that stood out to me this week :)

So Hum Mantra - Jen from Peanut Butter Runner shared the mantra So Hum, which can be used in your yoga practice or meditation. Jen explains the meaning behind the mantra beautifully. It really resonated with me.

Chicken Crust Pizza - You may have seen the cauliflower pizza crust recipes swirling around Pinterest; however, did you ever think to try ground chicken to make a crust? I certainly have not, but Gina's photo and recipe sound delicious.

77 Healthy Crockpot Recipes - Need I say more? I have loved trying out new recipes to make in our crockpot. Since Justin and I have been working out in the evenings, our dinners need to be quick and healthy.

Skinny Superbowl Recipes - Buffalo chicken dip to guacamole to stuffed mushrooms, this website has it all. I love using Gina's Skinny Recipes when I'm in the mood for baking cookies with a healthy twist.

Superbowl Recipe Ideas

I was surfing my Pinterest board for recipe ideas to make for Sunday's big game and found so many that I can't decide between. We're hosting a pot luck at our place so everyone is bringing something fun! So far we have chili, buffalo chicken dip, meatballs, and dips for veggies. Here are a few that I'm thinking about:





 
What are you making for the superbowl? Any must-try recipes?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Green Smoothie + HIIT Workout

Avocado in a smoothie is the best idea EVER.

I've been wanting to make a green smoothie for some time now. Finally, I had a couple ingredients to make it happen. And it was yummy! A definite keeper.


Green Smoothie
Serves 1

Ingredients:
- 1 cup spinach
- 1/3 avocado
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup plain Almond milk
- Optional sprinkle of Truvia or stevia for sweetness

Directions:
- Add to blender and enjoy!

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Mmmm the avocado made this so creamy. It was delicious. You really can't taste the spinach. It had a hint of natural sweetness from the banana, but I added a sprinkle of Truvia for just a tad more. This smoothie was a great way to refuel my body after a sweaty gym session with protein, healthy fats, and fiber.

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Last night I was in the mood for a run. Not just any run, I wanted a heart-pounding, sprint until you can't any more, run. Whenever this urge strikes, I turn to HIIT (high intensity interval training). My go-to interval workouts are on the treadmill. Tone It Up has a great collection of HIIT workouts for the treadmill and overall toning. Check out their Pinterest page for some ideas (see above link)!

Last night I did about four miles on the treadmill with this workout:


I absolutely love this workout. It's short, intense, and gets the job done. Also, you can scale it to any fitness level. HIIT workouts are beneficial because you burn more calories, lose more fat, during a shorter period of time versus doing longer steady state cardio. I followed Cupid's Cardio up with my favorite Body Pump class, which satisfied my sweaty, hard workout craving.

Do you have a favorite workout? What do you like to do when you're really wanting to push yourself physically?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What I'm Loving Right Now: Beauty Products

There's just something about a new, nicely packaged makeup product. It just demands to be admired.

I always love removing my new mascara from its beautiful floral box and placing it on top of my used collection. It seems to sparkle amongst the smeared and powered bunch.

My favorite way to find new makeup before committing to the pricey cost is to sift through my friends' makeup collections and beauty products - especially my friend Jo Jo's (aka Jolene) supplies. She has it all. And she always has something new.

Last time we had dinner together at her apartment, it turned into makeover night and we tested out some wedding makeup ideas :)


While Jo Jo played makeup artist, she showed me one of her mascara gems..."They're Real!" by Benefit.


This mascara is perfect for making your eyelashes fuller and longer. It adds a bold amount of thickness without it being clumpy. I like to reserve it for weekends and my going out look :)

My favorite every day mascara is Clinque High Impact Curling Mascara. I don't even need an eye lash curler with this one. It lengthens and curls my eyelashes perfectly.



Need something to fluff up your day-old hair? Or maybe you need to hide a little grease after a long day? got2b Powder'ful volumizing styling powder will do just the trick. Jo Jo swore by this, and I picked it up the next day. It works wonders!


I feel like such a makeup rookie having only discovered eyeshadow primer a year ago. This cream keeps all the work you put into your eyeshadow looking just the way you left it without it smearing or disappearing. I tried a sample of the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Prime Potion from Sephora and quickly used it up even though I tried to make it last as long as possible. It was that good. When Jo Jo had it too, I knew it was a sign.


A quality facewash has always aloofed me. FINALLY I have something to praise about. Purity Made Simple by Philosophy cleanses my face while removing makeup and moisturizing at the same time. I rarely need to apply extra mosterizer after it. I read several recommendations about it online before putting it on my Christmas list. I give this two thumbs way up :)



The last must-have beauty product that completes my routine is my favorite shampoo and conditioner, Biolage. It adds volume and keeps my hair cleaner for a longer period of time. I especially like that it doesn't leave a shiny film like cheaper shampoos that tend to add build up and weigh my hair down.




What are your go-to beauty products? Any recommendations?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Side Crow!

Headstands scare me. My mountain climber won't come off the mat. And I'm a wuss in chair pose.

However, I did side crow on Saturday and now I can't stop doing it!!


My shoulders and arms have been so sore! I didn't realize doing the pose over and over again would leave me in agony for two days. Now I know why we only hold arm balances for a limited number of breaths in class and not 10 minutes.

Either way, I'm so happy to have this pose in my practice. It's renewed my excitement for yoga. My new studio, in my new city, has really opened my mind to try new poses on the mat. I used to always go for the safe variations, but I've realized if I just try, those little tries add up to one satisfying result.

Apple Sausage Spinach Salad

It's interesting how weather dictates my cravings. Today's warmer temperatures finally put me in the mood for a fresh salad.


This is more of a combo idea rather than a recipe, and I thought it'd be fun to share! I always love seeing how other people mix and match different ingredients that I would never think of combining.

The two stars of this salad, other than the pink crisp apples, are the sweet Italian chicken sausage and The Laughing Cow blue cheese.


 My salad includes spinach, red onion, chicken sausage, blue cheese and apples. For dressing, I used quality olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. Yumm!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Grateful

There are so many things I love about the weekend.

Hanging out with great friends.

Staying up late and sleeping in.

Snuggling.

Pancakes.

Being lazy around the house with the one I love.

Going on adventures, trying new places, and eating new foods.

But my favorite "me" part about the weekend is going for a run whenever I feel like it. I get to sleep in, be lazy, and eat breakfast in bed with my love. Then when the sun is shining, I lace up my bright green shoe strings and hit the pavement. I don't have an exact number of miles; I just run by feel. I let my mind wander. I let my thoughts soak in all the gratitude I have for this life.


Sometimes my mind drifts to a place where I where I barely remember running. It feels like I went through a time warp, and the details of where I went or how far I ran are a foggy dream. However, Saturday's run brought me to a place that I wanted to hold on to and never forget. I felt a wave of gratitude for Justin. I simply felt thankful to have such an amazing person like him in my life. To say amazing doesn't even do justice to the role he fills in my heart. I felt overwhelmed with a feeling of pure happiness for the relationship we've built together. How simple it is, but filled with so much bliss.

Not every run leaves such a lasting impression on me, but I'm thankful for runs like these that ground me even when I feel like I'm flying.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Snow Bunnies!!

In honor of the inclement weather here in North Carolina, I thought I'd share some of my fun, REAL snow pictures from our trip to Michigan!!

I typically could care less for snow around here because it's just plain cold and it's not really pretty. However, up north it is absolutely magical, and I was mesmorized by how picturesque it made everything! I felt like I was living in my own winter wonderland fairy tale :)




My Blogger's Digest

Blogs are pretty much my main source of information for recipes, workouts, and overall knowledge of ideas to make leading a healthy lifestyle fun. Without them I'd be in the dark about two ingredient pancakes, substituting mayonnaise for Greek yogurt, or the idea that working out on a regular basis isn't crazy but actually kind of normal :)

I really do love decompressing at the end of the day and catching up on some of my favorite blogs. Here's a short list of a couple posts that stood out to me. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Blog Posts That Caught My Attention This Week:

Taking Responsibility - Ali's blog is one of my favorites. She's so down to earth and witty in a way that I wish I could be. This post really resonated with me because she addresses the issue of comparing ourselves to others.

Fail Better - The above blog mentioned this post, and I related instantly. Lauren, the blogger of Health on the Run, brings perspective to seeing failure as a blessing. Something we've all heard before; however, she lists what she thought were failures and how they actually translated into becoming life successes down the road. Her list will make you want to reflect on your own.

My Favorite TJ's Items Along With a Giveway - If you love Trader Joe's then this post will make you want to run to your nearest location and pick up all these goodies. I'm saving these ideas for the next time I'm near a Trader Joe's, and I'm going to stock up!

Articles:

60 Must-Read Health & Fitness Blogs for 2013 - I always love finding a new blog that I can connect with and learn from.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Healthy Pancake: Only 2 Ingredients

1 banana + 2 eggs = 1 pancake

Who knew?

It is so, so, SO yummy! Even my fiance asks me to make him one.


Two Ingredient Pancake Recipe
Serves 1

Ingredients:
1 banana
2 eggs

Directions:
- Mash banana in bowl
- Add two eggs and mix together
- Heat skillet over medium low heat
- Spray pan with oil or melt coconut oil to coat
- Pour mixture into pan and let cook on this side for ~10 minutes (don't cook on high or else it will burn!)
- Flip pancake and let cook for another minute or two
- Serve pancake on plate and add fruit or Greek  yogurt

Additonal Ideas:
- I like to spread Greek yogurt on top with either nuts or fruit
- Spread peanut butter on top instead of syrup or Greek yogurt
- I also like to mix a little cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice into my banana/egg mixture and on top of Greek yogurt
- This can also be made with one egg

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This reciepe is popular all over the blog world and I originally found it on Carrots 'N' Cake. Check out her secret tips for the recipe! Here's another version by Anne from Fannetastic Food with pictures.

I've been wanting to share this recipe for so long and finally got around to it. Hope you love it as much as me!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A New Me

You have exactly one life in which to do everything you'll ever do. Act accordingly.
- Colin Wright

I stumbled upon this quote amongst one of my Pinterest boards. It captured my attention and at that moment I felt compelled to reflect on it and now act on it.

I have one life. I have so many dreams and aspirations. So many things I want to be. Many of those would be best accomplished now before life includes more responsibilities.

I want to volunteer. I want to make a difference in a child's life. I want to become an active member of a church. I want to grow a stronger relationship with my faith. I want to live a balanced lifestyle.

I want to be the best person that I can be; however, I feel like I have all these ideas but don't act on them. Why have I not volunteered yet? Why have I not formed a greater relationship with my faith? What am I waiting for?

I made a list on Sunday of what I wanted to act on this week. There is an online community called "She Reads Truth". I've downloaded the app on my phone and will now receive daily Bible verses to reflect on privately and then engage with together on the online community. Right now there is a Soul Detox plan, and I am in desperate need of it. I feel relatively at peace with myself, but when my mind is quite I always find it drifting toward one issue that still needs to be resolved. I've been trying to handle it for too long on my own and have realized I need help from someone greater than myself.

Also on my list for the week was to commit to being a volunteer. A couple months ago I found a nonprofit, Communities in Schools, whose mission is to lower the dropout rate and increase on-time graduation rates. My local branch has a mentor program that will assign me to a student. I'll meet with them once a week during their lunch break. I am so excited for this. This nonprofit stands for everything that I've wanted to do in terms of making a difference in a child's life. I can't wait to be a part of it.

I'm so happy to have begun putting these goals/dreams/wishes into motion. It feels good to take control of who I wish to be as opposed to coaxing through the ins and outs of life. I do have a few smaller fun goals too. Justin proposed the idea of doing 30 day challenges each month instead of one daunting New Years resolution. We have so many ideas of how we want to improve ourselves and this way we can devote ourselves to one thing at a time. For example, this month our challenge is to workout every day for 30 days. It's a typical January resolution but it's been so much fun to plan workouts together. We come up with ideas of things we typically wouldn't do alone or together such as rock climbing, going for a walk, and taking a yoga class.

We have some other challenge ideas for the following months such as write a chapter in a novel, read a book every day, or eat a serving of vegetables every day. They're such fun ideas and I'm so excited to accomplish some together!

Overall, I'm looking forward to challenging myself to becoming the well-rounded person I've always wanted to be. I know that I'm capable of more than who I am today, and hope to never look back and wish I could have achieved more. Making a difference in a child, my faith, my relationships, and myself as a whole makes 2013 sound so exciting!