Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Strawberry Sweets

 How cute is it that my ice cream matched my shorts?! The Saturday before Easter my family and I went on a fun outing for some strawberry ice cream.  There is this cute little farm market out in fort mill by Springs Farm.  This farm has pick your own strawberries this time of year but the market sells all sorts of seasonal fruits and veggies as well as baked goods with the fun produce.

They also make their own strawberry ice cream.  It was a hot sunny day.  We mostly spent the weekend roasting on my parents back patio so a fun drive to a farm and some ice cream was definitely in order.  This little market has picnic tables out front so you can sit and enjoy your sweet treats.

That weekend reminded me so much of summer adventures.  Typically fall is my favorite season but there is something about the warm weather, sunshine, and dreams of beach life that has me loving spring so far and looking forward to the lazy fun of summertime.  Cheers to warm days, ice cream, no plans, and seeing where the day takes you.

How do you like to treat yourself? 

Monday, April 24, 2017

How I Meal Plan and Organize My Week

Today is the first day of the bikini series with Tone It Up!  Go beach babes, you got this!! I will be joining you soon :) This week I actually didn't plan or prep anything because I am camping in West Virginia with thirty 4th graders and all of our meals are being provided at the campsite.  I am just going to enjoy the experience and still try to be as healthy as possible with what I have.  

I wanted to share a little of how I typically prep for success for my upcoming week.  It's kind of funny because I used to not be a planner at all.  Then I went to grad school and it all changed.  I had to be super organized - working 2 jobs, taking graduate classes, keeping up with homework, internships, and social obligations - not to mention planning meals for all this running around and trying to fit in workouts. 

Since I am on a budget I started meal planning as well as planning out all my events all together.  I wanted to know what I was doing for the upcoming week so I could plan meals around it or have healthy options to bring with me.  Eating out was never really an option because of the added cost that brings.  

Now I am not in grad school but still living a pretty hectic life I have found peace of mind in being a little prepared for what is coming.  So every week I get out my computer, colored pens, my Passion Planner, and a notepad for lists and get to work.  I check a few things.  1. My school calendar 2. My personal calendar 3. Offline [a fun app that posts events in Charlotte] 4. Tone It Up's weekly schedule for workout 5. My tone it up Nutrition plan.  

First, I put everything into my planner according to the time I want to accomplish things.  I even make sure to write down journal time in there because there is power in writing your goals down and I need that time set aside for prayer and self care! Then I add in workouts from tone it up or classes like bootcamp or yoga that I typically go to with friends during the week.  Lastly I plan out my meals.  I plan out what I am going to eat for every single meal each day of the week.  I try to make it as simple as possible and tone it up has taught me how to reuse ingredients for multiple recipes so nothing goes to waste!  This also helps you be creative with your meals multiple times throughout the week instead of just getting things to make one meal like I used to do [My old roomie / current bestie would be so proud] After the meals are planned I make my grocery list and head out to Trader Joes.  Sometimes I will even prep for the week especially if there is something like muffins I want to eat multiple days but not always.  I pack my lunch for work every night so while I am at it I prep for all my meals for the day ahead. 

I find that I am calmer and more likely to reach my goals when I set aside this time every weekend.  Meal planning and organizing my life with my calendar I feel has made me a bit more successful from week to week.  Of course things always come up but I am not ever far from my planner to check and make adjustments.  Or if I happen to go out to eat I consciously make a healthy choice and then just shifts some meals around. There are so many ways to prepare for the week ahead but I find the most important thing is to think about what you truly want to accomplish.  At the end of the day or the week what will you be proud of yourself for when you look back and plan to do those things!

How do you set yourself up for a successful week?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Recent Reads

I love to read.  Reading, much like writing, inspires me.  I get so engrossed in other peoples stories.  Maybe my love of reading is a reason that I love the theory of narrative therapy so much at work.  Everyone's story is their own and there is such power in sharing our stories.

I often have to consciously not read when life is really busy because I get sucked in and won't do anything else until the story is complete.  I love how reading can take you to other places, people, lands, stories, time periods, etc.  The possibilities are endless in books.  I love stories that evoke feeling and thought.  The ones that leave you in a daze after reading because it's sometimes hard to come back to reality are those that I think about over and over.

One of the reasons I love my breaks from school so much is that I get a chance to read.  Funny aside one beach trip we took as a family - we all literally sat on the beach and read until dark then would walk to the house shower and eat then go back to our books - we counted and among the 5 of us for one beach trip we must have read over 20 books.

Over spring break I got the chance to read two new books that I thought I would share with you all:

The Magnolia Story
by Chip and Joanna Gaines

I mean I am a huge fixer upper fan so this one was a must read on my list.  [Can I just get Joanna to come decorate my apartment/ houses for life?!!?!] I love how real and authentic they are on TV and the book goes so much deeper than that.  They talk about their lives and their journey to fixer upper.  What we see on TV is the glamorous houses they decorate and the empire they have built in Waco but the book goes through the struggles that they experienced to get there.  One of my favorite parts about their story was how, even in the tough times, Joanna trusted in God's will.  Her life is a testimony of surrendering.  Chip is just a genuine caring person, not afraid to work hard, get his hands dirty, and truly serve other people.  No matter what.  This book is a must read for sure.

Two by Two
by Nicholas Sparks

I have read all Nicholas Sparks books and seen all the movies.  Every time a new one comes out I get my hands on it and read it.  I don't care that most of his stuff is super romantic.  I love love and the whimsical way he writes about it.   This book though was very different.  You are not sucked into a super intense romance the way that you are almost all of his other stories.  I will have to admit this one took me a while to read - something that is not my norm as an all in one sitting fast reader.  I was very aggravated by the wife in the story.  Once I got that this novel was not a romance of how the husband and wife met, fell in love, and are rekindling that I actually started to like the story.  The story is really about a dad and his relationship with is young daughter.  I would recommend it if you are a Nicholas Sparks fan and interested in seeing another angle of his stories but be prepared for it not having a love story.

And for a bonus I thought I would list some all time favorites [pictured]:  Jesus Calling / Eat, Pray, Love / Little Women / One Thousand Gifts / LC Celebrate / Safe Haven / Surprised by Joy

Also PS please excuse the dog hair on my pants.  That's the life of black pants with a dog who jumps on the bed! #real

If you have any book recommendations I would love to hear it! I plan on doing more of these book review and round up posts in the future so if you have something to share let me know. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter Sunday

Hi sweet friends.  Hope your Easter was absolutely wonderful.  I know Easter is not about me and my dog but I just couldn't help but share our photos.  We had treats to try to get Finn to sit and take a nice Easter picture but instead he was so excited about the treats that the photos are a hot mess.  Love this pup. He always keeps me laughing.

We [me and Finn] celebrated the day with my parents and one of my sisters. It was very low key but Mom made sure to keep to traditions with what we had for Easter dinner.  She incorporated a lot of polish food for the holiday because my Grandma is polish!

Sunday morning was kicked off at church but we had to get there extra early because it's always so crowded! After church we relaxed outside because the weather was gorgeous and mom cooked our dinner.   We ate in the mid afternoon so my sister could head back to Raleigh that evening.

Sometimes Easter is so hard to process and understand.  For one we have all of these secular ways to celebrate the holiday - baskets full of candy and eggs show up in the morning from a bunny.  I mean what?  If you really take a second to think about that, it's quite confusing.   How does that have anything to do with the fact that our Lord and Savior who DIED for our sins just a few days earlier was raised from the dead?  I would really like to know how all of that started.  I am genuinely interested.  I love getting my treat filled basket, don't get me wrong, but this year I started to think about why these are the traditions we seem to hold sacred.

I love days where I get to sit out in the sun, be with family, relax and read good books, and eat delicious food to celebrate an important holiday!

What are some of your Easter traditions? 

Monday, April 17, 2017

When I Miss the Mountains

I am a mountain girl.  I love the beach don't get me wrong.  But there is something about the mountains that brings me an overwhelming feeling of peace.  Maybe it's the fresh air, the outdoor adventure, and the vibrant expression of the seasons through nature.  The mountains were home for 6 years of my life and I loved being able to go hiking at any opportunity.  

Now, I live in the Queen City, which I love, but I don't get to walk out my door and explore a new hiking trail through the mountains.  Sometimes I just miss that.  

The Whitewater Center near Charlotte is full of hiking / mountain biking trails.  I decided to take the plunge and get a parking pass for the year because I was homesick for Boone and outdoor adventure.  I love going over to the USNWC because it just feels like my kind of people.  Everyone is wearing their Chacos, people are hanging their hammocks up from every tree simply spending time outside, there are kayakers constantly in the water, and the trails are definitely something I have been taking advantage of.  

Last week, I was on Spring Break.  I had huge plans of just sitting by my pool and tanning, but then the doors proceeded to be locked and the office told me it won't open until memorial day [what! it's so hot here before then and I am going to need a pool and a tan pronto but I digress] So instead Mike and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and go hiking.  

It was a gorgeous spring day.  We decided to do the lake loop this time, it's a 3 mile hike that's pretty easy but takes you around all of the various "lakes" I think it was the best of both worlds being by some sort of body of water and hiking outside. 

I got my mountain fix in and came home feeling more centered and like myself.  Sometimes I really just need to reconnect with my mountain loving self and go for a hike.  

What is your favorite outdoor adventure? 
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