Half Way There

Thursday, March 27, 2014

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We are officially half way through Lent! I can taste the wine and hear the sound of notification alerts already!

Okay, not so much.

Because I guess the point of giving up alcohol and social media for 40 days doesn't mean I can go crazy when I get them back after Easter. But let's be honest for a second. WOW, do I miss wine. That is one thing I don't think I could ever give up indefinitely. I have even been staying away from it on Sundays (which is technically "cheat day") and it's much harder than I imagined.

It's funny though, I don't miss social media as much as I thought I would. After maybe the first week going cold turkey, I stopped having the desire to pick up my phone every 10 minutes to check and see what everyone was posting. I've started getting more comfortable leaving my phone in my purse all day and not having it with me all the time like I was born with it attached to my hand. It's kind of liberating. Let's hope I can keep it up after Lent.
 
Once Easter rolls around, it will be nice to be able to have the ability to post a photo to Instagram or have a glass of wine at dinner with my friends if I want, but making these sacrifices has really given me some insight into how important balance is in my life. While it’s nice to be able to enjoy these things, it’s so crucial to enjoy them in moderation. I’m beginning to see more and more that balance really is the key to a happy and healthy life.

Have a fabulous Thursday!

Avocado Crab Meat Salad

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In order to save money, Mike and I try hard not to eat out more than a few times a month. As a result, we pretty much brown-bag it five days a week for lunch. After we got married, I got in the habit of packing up our lunches every night so that we wouldn't spend so much going out with our co-workers every day. It's really easy to spend a lot when you haven't planned ahead and everyone else grabs take-out all the time.

That being said, I am always looking for creative ideas for meals that we can take to work. I tend to need a little variety throughout the week and I know Mike appreciates not having the same thing five days in a row. I like to throw in something more exciting than just a piece of fruit and a PB&J from time to time. As a native Marylander, I knew this recipe from Taste of Home would be a hit the moment I saw it. I am obsessed with avocado and what better is there to top it off than a huge pile of crab meat? Sprinkle it with a little old bay and I'm all over it!

To keep the avocado fresh, I don't cut it until I get to work. That way all I have to do is slice it in half and add the crab salad. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I mean, come on, look at this picture...

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 Avocado Crab Meat Salad

Ingredients
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp ground Cumin
1/4 tsp Paprika
1 lb crab meat, cooked
2 spring onions, diced
½ cup fine diced red onion
Salt & fresh ground black pepper
2 medium avocado halved and pitted

Directions
In a medium sized bowl combine the mayo, lime juice, cumin and paprika then add the crab meat, spring onions and red onion.  Mix well and season to taste. Cover and chill in the fridge if serving later.

Halve the 2 avocados and fill with the crab salad mixture.

Enjoy!

Moment on a Monday

Monday, March 24, 2014

 
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, 'This is what it is to be happy.'” - Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
  

Stay Awhile by Jonah Smith on Grooveshark

Finally!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

 
As much as I've griped about winter on this blog in the last few months, I'm sure I've begun to sound like a broken record every time I start begging for spring to get here faster. Well no more, my friends, because today is the day.

HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SPRING!

While there may still be snow in my back yard and those beautiful little crocuses I posted about last week have shriveled up from the ice, I don't care! To me, spring is here!

Today, to celebrate the return of all things bright and beautiful, I came up with a little spring bucket list (which, as you know, I loved making) of things to do once the weather starts really warming up and the flowers are in full bloom.

1. Go for a hike in your local park. There are so many awesome walking and hiking trails to take advantage of, so get out there, get moving, and explore!

2. Fill the house with fresh cut flowers. There is nothing I love more than decorating every flat surface in my home with beautiful, fragrant blooms. You can bet that the minute our local farm starts selling their flowers, I'll be buying bunches of them.

3. Get your hands dirty and plant something. We are planning to start our own veggie garden this season and now that I've got my seeds in hand, I can't wait to start digging. I'll be doing another post with all the details on our first garden, so stay tuned.

4. Plan a picnic to a park. One of the first things that Mike and I do every spring is pack up a blanket, a few sandwiches, some fresh fruit, and a couple of good books and head to our local park to soak up the sunshine. There's nothing more relaxing!

5. Go barefoot! When I was a kid, there was rarely ever a day during the spring and summer when you could spot me with shoes on and not much has changed for me since those days. I still love the feeling of the cool grass between my toes. Traipsing through the yard with nothing but the earth under my feet just makes me feel nostalgic, I guess.

6. Dine al fresco. Whether it's at home or your favorite restaurant, there is no better way to enjoy the fresh air than dining outside.

7. Go to a farmers' market. There may not be much of a selection this early in the season but before you know it, the stands will be overflowing. Be sure to pay a visit to support your local farmers!

8. Listen. The sounds of spring are all around us. The birds chirping, the rain drops falling. New life is growing. Take some time to notice it.

Be sure to add these to your list of to-do's alongside all that spring cleaning! Have a wonderful first day of spring!

The City of Brotherly Love

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Over the weekend, we took a trip up to Philadelphia to do a little extended celebrating of my dad's birthday. My dad has been into coin collecting since he was a kid and so we thought it might be fun to pop up north for the day to tour the United States Mint.


We actually got to see a massive batch of pennies being made and it was so cool to learn about the process. From the formation of the blanks to the striking and inspection, we got to see how the coins are manufactured from up above the plant floor. When we first got there, not much was happening but right around noon the belts fired up and started moving. I was surprised to find out how few people it really takes at one plant to make all that money. We weren't allowed to take any photos inside, which makes sense, but it was still so neat!

 
 
 
 
After the Mint, we headed over to Independence Hall and took a tour. All of us have been there before but it just doesn't feel like a touristy trip to Philly if you don't pay a visit to the birthplace of our nation. There's just something about standing in the same room that the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were both signed and seeing the actual chair that George Washington sat in as our first president that gives me goosebumps.

 
 
 


The guide was very funny and told us lots of interesting stories that I had not yet heard about our founding fathers. We absolutely love the HBO miniseries John Adams and he was able to tell us about some of the inaccuracies of the show and share what really happened.





After walking around for a bit, we were getting hungry so we headed down to South Street to snag a couple of authentic Philly cheesesteaks at Jim's. There are so many places to get a cheesesteak in Philly (you've probably heard of the rivalry between Pat's and Geno's) but we thought we would try a new place that was recommended to us from some locals.


The minute we walked in my mouth was watering. There was already a line which I was thankful for since I had never actually ordered my own cheesesteak before and it gave me time to figure out what to say to the grill guy. There's a little bit of a trick to it but I ended up getting "one, provolone, with onions and peppers" and it was deeelicious!

 
 

Our trip to Philly would not have been complete without a stop to the Philly Pretzel Factory. Every time Mike has gone up to visit family in Philly he always stops to get a massive steaming bag of Philly pretzels. We picked up five rows (for a total of 25 pretzels) to share with friends and family and headed back home.


We had a wonderful trip overall and enjoyed spending the day with my parents. I have to say that I'm so thankful to live on the East Coast where we have so much history around us. I really do love living in Maryland and being so close to so many great cities!

I DID IT!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

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After logging out on Ash Wednesday, I can officially check this baby off my 101 list!

#93 - Go without checking Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for a week.

Woohoo! I didn't think I was going to make it a whole week, but somehow I've gotten through almost two! Only 32 more days until Easter... womp womp.

Have a wonderful week!

Hang in there!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

When I came home yesterday, I was feeling kinda gloomy and stressed. I had a long day at work and was pretty much ready to collapse and mope around for the rest of the evening. Aside from work, this long winter has really been getting to me, and even though we've had a few nice days here and there, it's dropped back to freezing again and it just makes me plain miserable.

In all of my moodiness, I trudged up the front walkway to our house and what was there to greet me? One small bunch of beautiful, glorious purple crocuses peeking up from the grass in our front yard.


There they were. A bright pop of life amongst all of the brown, just sitting there waiting to be discovered.

I am a firm believer in signs and I sincerely think that this was one of them. To me, these little flowers were a sign that Spring is indeed coming. A sign that there are brighter days ahead. A sign that I will feel better and these dark and cloudy days will pass. A sign that it's okay to feel a little gloomy and sad sometimes as long as you remember that there are so many wonderful things about life, too.

So, if you're having a bit of a tough time like me, let my little crocuses be a reminder to you: Spring is coming! Sunshine is coming! Keep your chin up and smile because better days are just ahead!

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Weekend Fun

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

After a long week, it's so nice to be able to enjoy a great weekend with friends and family.


This past weekend, we celebrated my dad's birthday and had a nice dinner at my parents' house. My dad's favorite meal is lasagna so, of course, that's what we had along with a big, decadent chocolate cake for dessert. It was so relaxing to just sit around visiting and telling stories with our families. I was a little upset that I couldn't enjoy a glass of wine with everyone since I gave up alcohol for Lent. My dad reminded me that on Sundays you can have a day off from your sacrifices but I kind of cheated and took my "break" on Saturday.

We had already planned to go to the Federal Hill Irish Stroll in Baltimore that day and bought our tickets a few months ago not realizing that it fell during Lent. We did the Canton stroll last year and had a blast so we were all really excited about going this year. It was probably pretty dumb to give up drinking right before you go to a pub crawl but I didn't want to completely cancel our plans. So instead I decided that if I allowed myself to drink on Saturday then I would abstain on Sunday. Complicated and probably the wrong way to go about Lent, yes, but worth it? Absolutely.

We ended up having a great time with our friends on Saturday and the weather was INCREDIBLE. I remember last year it actually snowed during the crawl so having beautiful, sunny 60 degree weather was quite a treat.






 
 


We had never really been to Federal Hill much so it was a good change of scenery. We wandered in and out of quite a few of the participating bars including No Way Jose, Ryleigh's Oyster, Stalking Horse, Mother's, Social Pub & Pie, and a few others. The food was just as awesome as the drink specials which made the day even better. If you're ever in the area, I definitely suggest checking it out!

Monday #2

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

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So let's talk about how I put handsoap on my toothbrush this morning instead of toothpaste...

I also hate to admit this, but this is actually not the first time it's happened. It's the second. Yes, second. I can't make this stuff up.

Chyea, so how's your week going?

Today just feels like a Monday all over again. It's been way too rough for a Tuesday. All I want is to crawl back in bed and hibernate until it's the weekend again. Who's with me?

Moment on a Monday

Monday, March 10, 2014

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
- Albert Camus

Feels Like Summer Again by The Wallflowers on Grooveshark

Water, Water, Everywhere...

Thursday, March 6, 2014


If there's one thing that I really hate when it comes to winter, (other than the fact that it never wants to end) it's dry skin.

Any other time of year, I normally don't have a problem with dry skin - which I'm very thankful for - but when the temperatures drop and the icy chill starts to set in, I get so many scales I literally start looking like a snake. My face, hands, feet, legs, and arms get all cracked and gross-looking. And I must say not only does it look bad but there is nothing more uncomfortable than itchy, flaky skin.

This year was particularly awful with the record lows we've had (curse you Polar Vortex!) and after nearly three months of torture, I was completely dried out and desperate for a change.

I decided to do a little research to see what I could find to help remedy my poor skin. I read about all kinds of oils, lotions, and creams, about avoiding hot baths, wearing sunscreen, and buying humidifiers. And I tried nearly all of them but somehow it still didn't seem to completely fix the problem. Surprisingly, there was only one thing that finally gave me some relief - WATER!

The funny part is that I didn't even realize I had made this a goal on my 101 list, so after only a week, I got to cross it off!

#17 - Drink 8 glasses of water every day for a week.

Woohoo!!

I was more than a little excited when I started noticing my skin changing after only a few days of guzzling some H2O. I was also pleased to find such a cheap and easy solution!

Obviously, hydration is not only important for dry skin in the winter but for your whole body year round so I plan to continue drinking 8 glasses of water a day for as long as I can. Hopefully I can make a habit of it!

So long Facebook...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

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So tomorrow beings the first day of Lent.

I've been thinking a lot about what sacrifices I wanted to make this year and I've decided to give up both alcohol and social media...

I. KNOW. What is wrong with me?!

There's a good chance that I'll regret it when I wake up in the morning but I think in the end, it's the right choice for me this year.

Giving up alcohol is not really something I will struggle with necessarily, but I think it will make me a healthier person overall. I hope that it'll help me to limit my consumption a bit more in the future and help to create better habits down the road.

The social media one on the other hand.. that's a horse of a different color.

I am a social media addict. Period. There's no way around it. Giving up Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for 40 whole days will be rough and I'm not looking forward to it, but I guess part of me just wants to try and take what I said at the beginning of the year about focusing on doing the things I love with the people I love to the next level. I want to try to limit my distractions and learn what it's like to live without being "plugged in" 24/7 again. At least for a little while.

For a few months now, I’ve been thinking a ton about social media and how it affects our lives. I’ve read a bunch of articles and blog posts on the subject and nearly all of them discuss how negatively we are impacted. So many of them list countless reasons why we should quit social media sites and start living real, normal lives again. This post by Jenni from Story of My Life and this article were a couple of my favorites. And this little video here made a pretty interesting point as well. 

They all got me thinking...

With social media, we become different people. We stalk. We compare. We judge. We procrastinate. We become unproductive, depressed, jealous addicts with an endless supply of information right at our fingertips. It’s unhealthy.
Not everyone falls into this category but I know that I certainly do. I probably check Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on my iPhone 20 times each every day. Most of the time there’s nothing even that interesting going on anyway. “Sally checked in at Noodles & Co.” “Josh just listened to ‘The Cave’ by Mumford & Sons on Spotify.” “Jenny posted a photo of her cat sleeping in the sun.” Who the hell cares? When did my life become everyone else’s play by play?
For me, social media has become a total time-suck and I no longer want to let it steal my motivation, my happiness, my real life connection with those I love.

That doesn't mean that I'm giving it up forever. There are a lot of good things that it provides. I've reconnected with family members and friends that I never otherwise would have had it not been for social media. I just thought that Lent would be a good time to take a step back and re-evaluate where it falls on my list of priorities. 

Now, for those wondering, I will NOT be giving up my blog. While I may want to put a little distance between me and my phone, I don't want to stop blogging. I think cutting out all of those other sites might actually help me to focus on my writing - which is a much better outlet for me - instead.
Let the withdrawal symptoms begin! Happy Shrove Tuesday!

Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Muffins

Monday, March 3, 2014

I hope that someday soon I can write a post that doesn't begin "I'm off work today because of snow storm so-and-so..."

We've gotten about four inches so far of "Titan" and while it is pretty and I enjoy having a day off work, I really would just like the warmer temperatures to stick around. We're supposed to get another six inches so Mike and I are hunkered down with all of the animals at my parents' house. My mom and dad went down to Florida to visit my grandparents so we are house sitting for them.

We had a very cozy little morning with our coffee by the fire and I got to thinking how much better it would be if we had some tasty muffins to go with. I remembered a recipe that I had seen on one of my favorite blogs Marshalls Abroad for these Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Muffins so I printed out the recipe and whipped them up.

They are in the oven now and they smell absolutely heavenly. Every recipe that I've tried of Amanda's has been delicious so I am sure that these will not disappoint.

Happy (hopefully last... ever...) Snow Day!

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Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar Topping

Ingredients
2 C fresh blueberries
1/2 lemon, squeezed juice + zest
1/2 C whole greek yogurt
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 C olive oil
1 egg
1 C raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Topping:
1 tbs raw sugar
1 tsp cinnamon


Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Whisk the egg with the olive oil and add in the greek yogurt. Stir in the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and vanilla, until just combined. Be careful not to stir too much or your muffins may collapse once out of the oven! Gently fold in the fresh blueberries with the squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest.  Fill a greased muffin pan with the batter at about 3/4 full for each cup. Be generous as you sprinkle on the topping on each muffin, and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until you can place a toothpick in the middle of a muffin and it comes out dry. My muffin pan made 12; a reader said her's made 16.