Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Five

One. Currently Drinking. A week of indulgent foods while on vacation in addition to a week of junk food at home while being snowed in has left me feeling bloated and just plain blah. I have read that the best way to quickly beat bloat and start feeling back to normal is to increase your water intake. The plan?  Make a big pitcher of detox water each morning to drink through out the day.

Two. Currently Loving. This week marks the end of Parks & Recreation. This show is a quirky spinoff of The Office which I have been passionately following for the past 7 years. Chris Pratt is adorably stupid in the show. Truly believably stupid. I hated to see it end but loved how they wrapped it up. {Spoiler Alert!} I loved that they hinted to Leslie or Ben becoming POTUS and that Larry became the permeant mayor of Pawnee. They were on Late Night with Seth Meyers with a final rendition of Lil' Sebastian. 

Three. Currently Reading Listening. On our drive down to Florida last week, Anna and I started listening to the book The Girl on a Train. It was very slow for the first hour of the book but quickly became interesting and kept us entertained on the long drive. The bad thing? This book is 12 hours long when listening on Audible. So we were unable to finish it on our drive. I am finishing it this week while at the gym. Another note, the narrators are British and their accents took awhile to get used to listening to. I highly recommend it if your looking for a thrilling "Gone Girl" type novel.

From Amazon: "Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost... And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?"

Four. Wishlist Worthy. This snowy week has me craving summer more than ever. Top of my wishlist? A summery dress paired with a great pair of sandals. 

Five. Snow, Snow and more Snow. This list would not be complete without mentioning the crazy weather that has blanketed NC these past two weeks. Tuesday we had 2-3 inches of snow then Thursday another storm system added 5-6 inches of snow. We lost power for most of the day yesterday (Was not expecting that!) due to trees causing down power lines. At lease one member of our family enjoyed the snow.

Hope you all have a great weekend no matter the weather in your area! I'm looking forward to getting out of the house a bit this weekend. Going a bit stir crazy in our apartment. 


Linking up with TiffClareKarliAmanda & April .

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Walt Disney World Resort: Fun Outside the Parks

It's a surprise snow day here in NC. Last night there was no reports of ice or snow in the forecast.  Then this morning I woke up to 6 different phone calls from the school system. It changed from 2 hour delay to closed for school and staff all just hours before school starts. I am happy that I decided to stay in bed and wait on the final decision. 

I finally got the chance this morning to upload the hundreds of pictures from our conference trip to Walt Disney World. The reason behind the trip was attending the National Association of School Psychologist conference which was held at the Swan and Dolphin Resort in Walt Disney World. I made plans with friends from my grad school cohort to attend the conference and squeeze in time at the parks in between sessions. The conference was held Tuesday- Friday. We arrived Sunday around lunch and took time to explore resorts on Disney property. There truly is a lot to do just exploring the different resorts and restaurants. 

First, Anna and I checked into Pop Century Resort and grabbed lunch at the nearby Art of Animation Resort. The weather was beautiful that afternoon so we took the time to walk around and explore the campus while catching a few rays before meeting up with Megan and Robbie. Then we used the complementary buses to head to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The complementary buses are great for heading from your resort to the parks. However, they are a bit of a pain when traveling from resort to resort. Think a 45 minute trip when it may have only taken a 20 minute drive. 

We arrived at Animal Kingdom Lodge with perfect timing- it was dinner time for the animals!! From the overlook at the resort, we could see the giraffes and zebras feeding. 

Check out that baby trying to pick up food off the ground! So precarious with such long limbs.  We also took advantage of the activities being held outside while there. The resort was hosting marshmallow roasting by a fire pit. 

After enjoying roasted marshmallows we headed to the monorail to check out a few other resorts. Our last stop was the Polynesian resort where we met up with June and enjoyed tropical drinks as well as a delicious dinner!

We ended our night watching the Electrical Water  Pageant  from the beach at the Polynesian Resort. It's a 5 minute light show set to music on the lagoon. It hasn't changed a bit since my family visited over 10 years ago. 

After the light show, we took the ferry back to the Magic Kingdom where we took a bus home. It was a cold boat ride but we could see the fireworks and the castle lit up from the water.

I could have spent a week just exploring the resorts and taking in all the amazing Disney magic. Can't wait to share more on our time in the parks and highlighting how much fun you can have in Disney as an adult!

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Weekend Recovery

Well hello there!! This past week has been a complete whirlwind of travel, learning, friends and squeezing in every minute of fun at Disney! I look forward to sharing with you all about my trip later this week.

We got back to NC late Friday night. It was surreal to be returning to 10* weather with snow on the ground. Saturday was spend resting up and unpacking. I drug Joe out of the apartment for a quick date night at a Longhorn. They are currently running a 2 for $24 deal which you can split an app and choose from several delicious entrees. We both got the steak which was amazing and such a great deal! Fun fact- we went to dinner super early (4:30 ish) since we had a late breakfast and not much lunch. There was already a 30 minute wait when we arrived at the restaurant! When we left about 2 hours later there was a line out the door. It has been a year since we moved to the area and I am still amazed at the wait time at restaurants.

Sunday was spent outside enjoying the warmer weather and enjoying a Pure Barre class. I have to say after being out a week the burn was intense yesterday.

I'm still recuperating from the trip and trying to process all that I learned. Looking forward to getting into a normal routine again especially when it comes to clean eating!

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Five

Let's all give a warm welcome to Friday friends! This week has been horrendous at school. Spring fever has hit the kids I work with with a vengeance. I have a feeling that its not going to break until Easter.  I am more than ready to book it out the school house doors come 5pm and get my vacation started! Vacation? Well, almost. I'm headed to the National Association of School Psychology Convention in Orlando.

{One} Nerd Fest 2015.   I'm driving down to Florida bright and early Saturday morning with one of my girlfriends from graduate school, Anna. We will be meeting up with two other girls from our cohort June and Megan on Sunday. This will be our 4th NASP conference together! I am looking forward to learning about new research in the field and also squeeze in a little time in the parks! 

{Two} Hair Envy. I am loving Lauren Conrad's new short do. I love my shorter locks and am now crazing blonder hair. This braid adds so much character and texture. Love. 

{Three} Valentines Day.  No matter what your feeling on celebrating Valentines Day I know there is one thing we can all agree on- Chocolate. I love those heart shaped chocolate boxes that feature a variety of different candies. The tricky part is figuring out the flavor you are about to bite into. I found these hints on how to tell what is inside before you try a bite!  

Caramels are usually square.
 Chocolates with soft centers, such as truffles and whips, are round. 
Rectangular candies are typically filled with nougat. 
Oval candies most often contain butter fudge. 
Nut Clusters are usually round and have a chunky surface.

{Four} Wishlist Worthy.  I am loving Lilly's new arrivals. This jacket would be perfect for cooler Florida nights. I would not be surprised if it makes it way into my luggage somehow :) 

{Five} Happy Galentine's day to each and every one of you! Hope you have a wonderful day filled with coffee, candy and cleaned out inbox. :) (I can't be the only one that does it right? All mail items read= happy heart)  I will be celebrating Galentine's day a little later in the week when I'm reunited with my school psych gals! 

Linking up with TiffClareKarliAmanda & April .

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Today I wanted to share a simple and healthy buffalo recipe. My favorite part was that it did not require going out and purchasing any additional ingredients. Everything you need for this recipe can (hopefully) be found right in your pantry!! Thanks to baking them on a cookie rack the bites were crispy and I did not miss the fried batter at all! These are perfect for an easy homemade appetizer. I also think they could be a great tossed with a bit of sweet and sour sauce and thrown into stir fry! 

Buffalo Chicken Bites 

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large egg
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup buffalo sauce
1/4 cup ranch dressing 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Fit a baking sheet with a wire rack. Spray the rack with cooking spray. 
Place flour in a large bowl and season very generously with salt and pepper. In another bowl, whisk egg  with 1 tablespoon water until well combined. Place the breadcrumbs in a third large bowl, and drizzle with olive oil; toss to coat. Stir cayenne pepper and mix well.

Place chicken pieces in the seasoned flour and toss to coat. Working in small batches of 3-4 pieces, shake off any excess flour from chicken pieces and transfer to egg mixture; stir to combine. Transfer coated chicken pieces to the breadcrumb mixture and toss until chicken is completely coated. Place the pieces on the baking rack evenly apart. Bake until golden brown and chicken is cooked through, 20- 25 minutes.

In a small bowl, pour the buffalo sauce and toss chicken to coat. Serve immediately with ranch dressing for dipping. 

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

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Monday, February 9, 2015

February Goals

Good morning friends! I hope the weather was just as beautiful this weekend where you are as it was in eastern NC.  Yesterday afternoon, we decided to take advantage of the weather  and headed to the Tobacco Trail with Charlie. Apparently, most of Cary had the same idea because it was packed. Charlie seeks out attention from anyone nearby when we go on a walk so it was quite an experience trying to keep him calm.  Even though he is almost two years old he has not mellowed compared to when he was a puppy.  At least the walk wore him out a bit and he rested all night. I am hoping February brings warmer weather and we can go on more walks without freezing!
If you read my recap of my January goal progress you can see I was a bit lofty with my goals as well as a bit lazy with the implementation J. So for February, you will see a lot of the same goals.

1. Plan a group outing with Friends. – This one is already on the books and am looking forward to a girl’s night out in Raleigh!

2. Take Charlie on a long walk 3 days a week. – Lord knows that we both need to exercise… so barring rain, sleet or snow we will be taking a chance with the cold and get outside! 

3. Organize, clean and sort my jewelry. -  I have a ton of fashion pieces that I don’t wear anymore that just needs to be tossed. Also, my silver jewelry desperately needs cleaning. I am hoping to take them to the jeweler and get them professionally cleaned. 

4. Learn how to make my own latte at home. – My morning vice is quickly becoming a skinny vanilla latte. I desperately need to get my own ingredients to help me save $3 every other morning. 

5. Try one new recipe a week. – I am slowly learning that eating healthy does not mean chicken and veggies each night. I am excited to try new recipes and maybe find a new favorite! 

Any recipe recommendations to try?

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Honest Shakeology Cleanse Review

Alright so today I am back talking about Shakeology and the three day cleanse I told y’all about last week.  You can read all the details about what is recommended to eat on the cleanse here.  A quick summary of the cleanse is that you substitute two meals (breakfast and lunch) as well as one snack (afternoon snack) with a Shakeology shake.  For dinner, it is recommended to enjoy a large salad with lean protein.  You can also have a piece of fruit during the day if you get hungry.

I started the cleanse last Wednesday. I never felt hungry during the day and enjoyed not having to worry about packing my meals for lunch. Thursday I enjoyed shakes for breakfast and lunch. I ended up getting a bit hungrier than normal that evening after my workout so I enjoyed a sweet potato with my grilled chicken salad. Friday was the last day and I was starting to crave something I could munch on instead of sip during the day.  I started off with a shake for breakfast and enjoyed a piece of fruit as well. We ended up having dinner early with my parents so I never had the last shake. Instead I celebrated with a steak salad, some bread and then a giant piece of cake (whoops!).  As you can see, I followed the rules of the cleanse very loosely. Even with not following the plan exactly I still lost 4 pounds and am maintain the weight loss these past few days!

Thoughts After the Cleanse

I only enjoy Shakeology when it is blended with ice like a smoothie. I cannot stand the texture when it is blended with water in a shaker bottle.  Since I don’t have access to a blender at work, I made two servings at breakfast and carried them to the office. That was a bit tedious to remember each day.

Drinking cold shakes when it is freezing outside is not pleasant.

Personally, one to two day cleanses are best for me. I have struggled with being in a good place emotionally with food. Strict diet plans for longer periods of time tend to be a trigger for me. I don't want my body to feel restricted which can lead to a binge. I have talked briefly with my struggles in the past here.

It is important to listen to your cravings in moderation. I was able to lose weight even with enjoying bread and cake at dinner. The trick is don’t eat the whole cake or the entire bread basket.  I have always had the mentality that you have to eat XY and Z to lose weight.  With proper nutrition, you can enjoy treats occasionally and still lose weight!

I enjoy the taste of Shakeology but not enough to enjoy a shake three times a day for three days. That is way too much "chocolate like" flavor for me.

Would I do it again?

I would not do it for the total three days. Personally, I missed real food and felt myself getting pretty obsessed with food. I like the idea of doing a one day “refresh” every other month or so.

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Weekend Recap & January Goals

This morning had quite a dreary start as it was cold and rainy on my way to work this morning. My coffee run this morning is the only reason I currently have a little pep in my step! My coffee addiction is currently out of hand and need to start trying to make my lattes at home ASAP. Anyway... This morning I wanted to share a quick recap of my weekend and how I did on my January goals. Spoiler alert: I may have been a bit too lofty on my goals for this month.  

Friday night, Joe and I treated my parents to dinner while they were in town. I hate that we moved away from my hometown but thanks to doctor appointments at Duke we see my parents pretty regularly. A few weeks ago my Dad turned 60, so we made our dinner a belated birthday celebration complete with mile high strawberry shortcake! We enjoyed dinner at Nantucket Grill which is quickly becoming one of my favorite local restaurants. They have the most amazing selection of cakes and sweet treats which you always need for a good celebration. For dinner, I branched out a bit and tried the grilled steak salad. I always thought the combination was strange but it ended up being surprisingly delicious!

I told you that cake was huge!! I enjoyed the chocolate peanut butter cake and I could not even finish it. Which is saying something because I am always enjoy sweets to the last bite. 

Saturday morning I woke up itching for a workout. I headed to Pure Barre and then completed a short 2 mile run afterwards. As a treat to celebrate the end of the month I snagged this cute barre tank that I had my eye on. The cotton is so soft and light. It was perfect for barre class as well as my run afterwards. 

Saturday afternoon Joe and I headed to visit our friends from college and their newborn baby. They are the first in our group of friends from college to have a baby which is a huge milestone for our group. I loved getting the chance to visit and catch up with them and their adorable little girl.

Saturday night we took advantage of Triangle restaurant week and went to dinner at Capri Restaurant in Raleigh. Unfortunately, we were both unimpressed with the restaurant and the service. Since visitig Capri this past summer I had high hopes of enjoying delicious food while reminiscing on our trip.   It is rare that we completely strike out on a restaurant choice.  We made the best of it and decided to continue our Italian celebration when we got home with a bit of limoncello. I had forgotten how amazing this liquer tastes. I kept it simple with 1:1 ratio of limoncello to sprite. 

Sunday night we watched the Superbowl party at home while enjoying home made buffalo chicken bites. I adapted the recipe that I shared Friday so that it was the perfect serving size for two. Looking forward to sharing this later in the week. 

January Goals 

Alright now onto my January goal recap. I tried to set 5 attainable goals for January. I'll be sharing my February goals later this week. 

1. Reduce the amount of sweets I eat in a week. – Did not meet. This month I noticed that I tend to use sweets as a comfort food when I am stressed. All the sweets are currently out of out apartment and this is something I still am working on. 

2. Plan a group outing with friends. – Almost met. I enjoyed an outing with friends this month to see Wicked. However, since I planned it myself it doesn't really count. I already have a date on the calendar for a girl's night in February! 

3. Read one good book. -  Almost met. I picked up Big Little Lies from the library and am currently reading it when I get a chance. 

4. Take Charlie on a long walk 3 days a week. – Did not meet. This goal was a bit lofty considering the freezing weather we had mid January. I was able to take Charlie on a long walk about one time a week. 

5. Limit extra purchases. – Met! This one was the hardest for me as I was constantly picking things up but then just putting them back before I got to the register. I celebrated with purchasing a Pure Barre tank I had my eye on. :) I hope to continue to keep limiting extra purchases as much as I can these next few months. 

Well, that is all folks! That was one long post. Hope everyone has a great day!

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