Gone with the Week[end]

I took a break from blogging this weekend but wanted to tell you all some fun things that happened. Especially about my parents running a 5k together!

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Early Saturday morning they had their race at  a beautiful park and rocked it. My dad even came in 3rd place and my mom wasn’t far behind! I was very proud of them and had fun being a cheerleader. (And eating Einstein’s Bagels at the end.)

After the run, my dad treated us to Dunkin Donuts. When we lived up North we went there all the time but they aren’t very popular in the south. We just got one in our town and I was excited to go. My mom and I got a bag full of munchkins to share and they tasted fantastic.

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After the big race plus eating a giant bagel and donuts, I somehow still made my way to my favorite pilates workout class. It is only offered on Saturdays, so I really wanted to go because I only have a few Saturdays left at home. I didn’t really feel sick though, so you have the go ahead to eat donut holes before you workout. ;)

Also recently I used my growing basil plant to make fresh pesto pasta and it was delicious. The recipe was full of garlic cloves, walnuts, olive oil, basil, and parmesan.

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It was delicious and so satisfying. I even ate it for breakfast one morning!

Some things I am looking forward to this week are work with my kiddos, lunch/thrift store shopping with a friend, and a haircut. After the four year old told me he loves my curly hair, the five-year old told me I needed a haircut. Thankfully for his sake, I was already getting my haircut this weekend. ;)

What are you looking forward to this week?


 

 

Always Bars

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I like to call these bars, “Always Bars” because they can really be eaten at anytime of the day. They have protein (oats, eggs, chia seeds), fruit (apple sauce, coconut, optional: raisins), and fun (dark chocolate, cinnamon). They are not sugar free, but most of the sugar is naturally occurring in the dark chocolate, apple sauce, and raisins. They do however, calm a sweet tooth or give energy during that mid-day slump.

Always Bars

2 cups old-fashioned oats

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1 tbsp chia seeds

1/2 cup chocolate chips (or substitute raisins)

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (this is replacing canola oil and cutting down the fat content)

2 eggs

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

a shake of salt

Directions:

Preheat the over to 350°F and spray an 8 by 8 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until gently blended. Spread the batter in the greased pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until edges start to brown. Let the bars cool before cutting.

*The neat thing about this recipe is that once you add the foundation ingredients (oats, flour, sugar, apple sauce, eggs) you can really add the mix-ins that you enjoy most. Instead of chia seeds, maybe use ground flaxseed or walnuts. Don’t like coconut? Just leave it out and maybe add a few more chocolate chips or raisins. And if you want to make it more of a dessert, use a 1/2 cup canola oil instead of applesauce for a lighter density.

 

 

For the Love of Rain

Today was a very rainy day and I loved it! Something about rain is so comforting to me; I love my sunshine but, occasional rain makes me happy.

This morning I had an early doctors appointment, so I treated myself to Starbucks afterwards because I had a gift card. (I repaired some jewelry for my mom’s friend for no charge, but she ended up giving me a Starbucks card!)

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Tall blond roast coffee with half & half and a pack of Splenda. 

I was very sad however that the Starbucks logo is no longer on the sleeve! It’s some quote from Oprah and the tea company they just bought. I am all for tea but you cannot take away the Starbucks logo and change the deep Starbucks green to trash green… (I know, talk about first world problems, right?)

Once I had my coffee/energy, I decided since I was out that I would stop at T.J.Maxx and look for a rehearsal dinner dress. Wow, I love T.J.Maxx. I have never really shopped there because I thought it was expensive but I loved my experience there today. The staff were all very friendly and their dress department was huge and inexpensive. I actually ended up finding a dress that I think will work good for the rehearsal dinner. It was under $30 and very comfortable and casual because that’s more my style and what I feel best in. I think it will also be a practical dress for teaching one day and is age appropriate.

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Also, I managed to make it out of the store without buying a children’s book for my future classroom. (I have a stash of children’s book’s in the closet and cannot wait for my classroom to have a wonderful library to encourage reading.) It was hard, but I knew I could get better deals at Half Price Books.

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Around noon my mom and I headed to my sisters apartment to help clean out her closet and go to a dress fitting. About 3 weeks left till the wedding…crazy exciting!!!

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This picture is at my other sisters bridal shower less than a year ago…they are getting married within 10 months of each other. My dad is giving me 10 years till he pays for the next wedding. ;)

I also had a big thanks to give my sister because she bought my two little kiddos the most adorable bow ties! She knows the owner of Baby Bow Tie, plus there was a sale so it was the perfect time to buy them! I am giving them to the boys tomorrow and am really excited. Also, can we note how adorable the packaging is?? Its practical and cute, that way you can store them in the tins so they don’t get messed up or lost.

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Once we finally made it home from the rain/traffic, we ate some chicken and veggie stew while watching Cake Boss. It was a rest day in the exercise department for me and it felt good. Rain equals rest.

Hope everyone is able to have a rejuvinating and fun weekend! What one thing are you most looking forward to this weekend?

 

Pockets

I went to Pilates today for a Barre and Tone workout, which is very similar to the current fitness craze, Purre Barre. It’s sort of a ballet inspired workout and I love it! I took ballet when I was younger and still regret quiting because I loved it so much. However, Nicole back then was very different then now and I just didn’t have the confidence that said I was good enough, so I quit in fear of failure. Anyways, I love this class (which is only offered on Wednesday!) and never tire of a good pilé session.

After breakfast I headed to work, where our first stop was Mcdonalds to knock out two birds with one stone: lunch and play time.

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Despite a couple tears due to not receiving the “correct” toy, we had a great time. And I’m not going to lie, I love their unsweet tea with a pack of Truvia. :) Also, there was a painting on the wall with trees and birds to which the 5 year old said, “Some people think trees are just homes for birds, but people can live in them too!” You would never guess that his current favorite TV show is Treehouse Masters.

Also, can we pause a moment and thank whoever invented pockets?

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I found these gym shorts for $5 at the thrift store and was SO excited that they had pockets. I think I would be happy with every article of clothing I own to have cute pockets.

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After work I came home and ate leftover spaghetti and strawberries for dinner. Watermelon comes in first for the best summer fruit, however; I believe strawberries are a close second.

Then I picked up the kitchen a bit and made some iced tea.

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My mom and I will probably drink that whole pitcher (3 quarts) in two days.

Since I was still in a productive mood, I decided to whip up a new creation of bars I have been tweaking. They are currently cooling, but once I try them I will share the recipe soon!

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Also, if you need a song to help you cheer up or jam to I suggest you keep it Classic. I kind of can’t stop listening to it.

What kind of tea brand do you usually drink? 

Morning People

Today was very interesting because I slept in till 10:00! Ever since college (but especially since the past two semesters), I have learned that I am most definitely a morning person. I don’t typically jump out of bed and celebrate being awake, however; once I am out of bed, I’m up and at ‘em. I worked till 10:30 last night and haven’t been sleeping the best, so I think my body wanted to sleep when my alarm went off (so I let it). Some benefits I’ve noticed from being a morning person are:

1. Productivity: My mornings/afternoons are way more productive then my evenings. Evenings equal chocolate and Call the Midwife or a good book (and in bed by 11:00). Mornings equal work, errands, and exercise.

2. Exercise: Nowadays, if I don’t work out in the morning, my motivation level goes down from there. I am in LOVE with exercise classes this summer (yoga, pilates, and zumba) and have been going to them on the mornings I don’t have work. In fact, I don’t even really use the gym part of the community center anymore…I go to the exercise room for class and then leave. I don’t know what I am going to do when I go back to school!

3. Excuse for drinking caffeine: I like to think that because I wake up early, my body deserves caffeine. When really, I just love drinking tea in the morning because I feel older or fancy or something (or coffee at work because my employer has Italian Sweet Cream creamer and I love it). ;) So yes, this really doesn’t deserve to be a valid point but I like to think it is.

4. Better sleep: I have definitely started noticing that when I wake up early, I sleep a lot better then next night. Often on Saturdays when I would sleep in till 10 or 11, I would feel tired the whole day yet not be able to sleep that night.

And ultimately, I think since I am really enjoying this summer’s combination of productivity and relaxation it really helps me get out of bed happy in the morning.

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Anyways, so I was going to get out of bed for a cardio class but as we all know, I slept in. Instead I had a breakfast of Waldorf Salad, a Mojo bar and green tea.

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If you haven’t tried these yet, you are missing out. They definitely should be more of a “treat” granola bar, however; I sometimes eat them at breakfast cause they are so yummy!

Then I went out to try and look for an inexpensive, but classic dress for two wedding rehearsals I am going to in the next two months. It has sort of hit me lately that in 3 semesters I will be teaching in the classroom full time and my wardrobe does not scream “cute, confident, classic teacher” at all. Ever since I have gained some weight, a lot of my dresses don’t fit and lets be honest, most of my clothes are from Targets junior section. So my new goal when looking for an outfit is seeing if I could wear it when teaching and also to look my age.

Needless to say, I did not find a dress today, but there is always another time. I’m not a huge fan of sleeveless dresses (I like a little sleeve to cover my upper arms) so that made it a bit challenging. Maybe I should look online before I go to the store next time!

I cam home and had some lunch and also random eats.

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My dad got us hooked on Nutri-Bullets and hopefully we won’t be stopping anytime soon because they are GOOD. Today’s smoothie had kale, flaxseed, a banana, and frozen blueberries and strawberries. (Consumed while I watched and episode of What not to Wear.)

 

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For mid-day munchies I had a bowl of cherries and a dark chocolate oat cluster.

Tonight I am planning to go to Zumba later and plan tomorrows activities with my kiddos! Although, I don’t know how we are going to beat last weeks waterpark adventure.

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Happy Tuesday!

Gone with the Week

So far this summer has been really great. I love my job (nannying for two little boys), I’ve been able to catch up on sleep, get coffee with friends, and refresh my inner introvert. Although I wish to be in Italy almost daily, I am thankful for a happy summer.

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Speaking of beautiful Italy, I finally got around to making a 20 page shutterfly book of my journey in bella Italia. I think I’ve looked through it 10 times already…and I’m already craving gelato.

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I also love that I have been able to read FOR FUN this summer. During the school year, I can never justify reading a “fun” book because I know if I’m reading anything it should be my textbooks. (Although, it’s not like I ever end up reading all of them anyways…) On a recent road trip I read The Fault in our Stars by John Green. My employer gave it to me, so I was eager to read it. I am glad I read it, but to be honest it’s just not my kind of book. I did admire many of the cancer patients and I thought the twist on “cancer perks” was interesting.  It’s one of those books that makes you evaluate why I complain about small body issues when my body is healthy and cancer free.

 

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I won this running water bottle/wallet contraption at a workout class last night and was really excited! I’m not typically a person who wins prizes so it was kind of fun. :) Although to be honest, I’m not exactly sure how it works…do I put it on my wrist? or a belt? Suggestions welcome!

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I just got back Monday night from my sister and brother-in-laws place in Georgia. My BIL graduated from officers training and received his infantry blue cord. We are so proud of him, he’s worked so hard! He is currently waiting to receive his date for ranger school- which we are all anxious to find out when that is. He has definitely been at the top of my prayer list.

I love visiting these two and always have a blast! We did a lot of bike riding, had a grill out, ate ice cream, and went to a fourth of July fair.

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The fair had THE MOST AMAZING FIREWORKS I have ever seen. It was one of the neatest things I have witnessed (we were so close!) and I never wanted it to end. I will always have a love for fireworks. :)

Happy 4th of July! We are having some friends over and grilling out/swimming and enjoy the Texas heat. How about you?

Thank you in advance for the brave men and women who have made America a land of the free. God bless!

Italian Treats in the States

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Ciao everyone, happy weekend! My week was great and full of fun with the kids I nanny for. We went to 3 parks this week, fed ducks and turtles, made snakes out of paper plates, read the Booklets Baking Boo-boo three times, rode bikes, learned to identify snapping turtles, and enjoyed some great laughs together. I am thankful for my job this summer, I got hired by a wonderful family who instill in their children good morals and discipline and who love each other very much. I’ve heard pros and cons to being a nanny, and so far the pros outweigh the cons for me. I’m really looking forward to taking them to swimming lessons soon.

Anyways, since it was Friday and my mom had two coupons (for 2 free drinks) we headed to a place I have been really excited to try. Dolce Italian Cafe and Bakery recently opened and since it claimed to be authentic Italian, I had to try it out. I sure miss the quaint yet hurried environment of the cafes in Italy. The staff were very friendly and the pastries and gelato are made fresh daily (I asked haha). They also serve lighter choices such as pizza, paninis, and salads. If you’re wondering who the lovely lady is in the picture, that is my beautiful mom. We chose a light pastry with vanilla cream and raspberries to split. She is actually holding my cafe latte to make the picture more “Italian” but she really drank a mango tea. My dad is the coffee drinker and my mom is the tea drinker. Obviously that means they are perfect for each other- life’s all about balance, right?

The cafe had a peaceful shaded seating area outside that was splendid and before we knew it, we had chatted way into dinner time. We both decided we will be back and want to support such a brilliant local business. ;) What could be better then a taste of Italia in the states? Nevertheless, if you have a Dolce Cafe near you, I hope you will try it out soon. Italian cuisine is the very best.

Hope your weekend is terrific!

 

Changes: Inside and Out

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I finally parted with my size zero jeans today. Sure, they haven’t fit in months but for some reason I couldn’t part with them. I also am trying to come to terms with the fact that I just bought a size 8 swimsuit for this season. And that I tried on one of my sisters skirts and it didn’t fit my waist…and she’s older and taller then me. And that the scale reads about 15 pounds more then it did this time last year. I don’t know if I have gained more weight recently because I ate pasta twice a day in Italy, am working through some depression issues, or my body is still maturing. I’m not looking for a pat on the back or sympathy, I’m simply wondering why weight is still such a big issue for me. Sure, I’m a million times better then I used to be and I know a lot about nutrition and taking care of my body. But I still look around and feel big and disproportional and unworthy.

Sometimes I can’t wait to get out of the city and go somewhere with down to earth people who are 20 years behind the real world. (Perhaps a small town in Colorado?!) It makes me sad seeing people get caught up in the “Dallas” lifestyle, where material possessions are so important and proving to friends you are worthy and successful is a requirement.  I’ve really been missing my best friend lately but we are a thousand miles away. She puts on no facade and although her family is wealthy, she’s quite the thrifty person. Living in Colorado last summer showed me how I can survive just fine with 7 t-shirts and a few pairs of shorts. I was reminded again of that in Italy when I wore the same dress to church every week.  I don’t want to forget that, I don’t want to get caught up with worldly things. I want to poor my energy into the two adorable kids I’m nannying for this summer, not what cute summer dresses I can buy with the money I make. I memorized a quote from C.S. Lewis awhile ago and it makes me think every time…”If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only explanation is that I was made for another world.”

To Care is to Save

I promise to be back soon with the last updates from my study abroad trip in Italy!

However, until then I hope you will watch this short video. National Eating Disorder week was a little while ago, but I stumbled across this video and wanted to hug and thank every single one of those YMCA members. Because they cared and saw humans as precious, imperfect people, they were able to save an anorexic girl’s life.

If you know someone struggling with an eating disorder, I hope you too would be willing to help them find the recovery they need. I know that I will do the same.

Video Clip:

http://www.godvine.com/When-She-Was-at-Her-Lowest-Kind-Strangers-fb-gv–5241.html

Venice, Italy

Well, I am back from my semester in Italy. It’s hard to believe, because every morning I wake up hoping to see Florence out my window, but all I see is my swimming pool. However, I never finished blogging about my journeys so for the next couple of days, the adventures will live on!

Let’s talk about Venice, shall we? The sinking city, full of colorful houses and more boats than cars. We had a free day a couple of Mondays ago and me and a few friends hopped on a train to the bright and beautiful city.

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We ended up only spending an hour or two in Venice because we headed straight to Murano and Burano- the glass and lace island. I had no idea these islands existed until I came to Italy, but they really are two separate islands off of Venice, dedicated to glass blowing and lace weaving. Murano (glass island) was neat but Burano (lace island) was BEAUTIFUL. Burano is how you picture Venice- the colorful and bright houses, lace markets and gelato everywhere, and green parks scattered throughout the island. I could have spent all day in Burano but sadly only got about two hours to walk around the lovely island. I bought my sisters some glass earrings from Murano and got myself a lace ornament from Burano.

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We had a wonderful adventure spending a girls day in Venice, riding water taxi’s, and watching glass and lace be created. I would love to go back and spend more time there, but for the given time we had, it was a perfect day! If you’re planning  a trip to the sinking city, be sure to add Burano and Murano to your list.

See you soon with adventures of life in a ruined castle.

Ciao!

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