A Day in the Life…

6:45- Alarm goes off. Press snooze. Thank goodness I showered last night. 

7:00- Alarm goes off again. Fall out of bed and get ready for the day.

7:30- Stress about what I should wear to teach a science lesson at the elementary school today.

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Sweater: Target

Shirt: Old Navy (men’s small)

Pants: Thrift store

Boots: Payless

7:45- Walk to my car. Realize my windshield is covered in ice. Realize I don’t have an ice scrapper. Crap.

7:46- Grab a lid from my dashboard and scrap the ice off of a small part. Good enough.

7:55- Get to the school 5 minutes early. Why do I always stress about time but am rarely ever late? Thank you Dad for the “early gene”. 

8:15-10:30- Teach a science center about magnets to four, third grade classes for 30 minutes each.

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10:45- Smile the whole drive home because I CANNOT wait to be a teacher.

11:00- Eat lunch. (Homemade bean and corn enchiladas <– I love this recipe. It is easy and cheap and lasts me at least four meals.)

11:00-1:00- Homework, homework, nap, homework

1:00-2:15- Class

2:15-4:00- Devotional with friend (aka another heavenly scone)

4:00-6:30- Class

7:00- Dinner (cafeteria pasta and salad)

8:00- Meeting for the Student Council for Exceptional Children

8:20- Sign up for communications committee and bake sale baker/worker, and rsvp to the first special education event night this Friday. I can’t wait to hang out with some awesome special needs kids from the community!

 

9:00- Get hot chocolate after the meeting because it’s been a busy but good day and hot chocolate is always needed.

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9:30- Work on homework till my hot chocolate is gone and I’m ready for sleep.

And that’s a day in the life of Nicole. Ciao!

 

 

Homemade Breakfast Bars

I have mentioned before on the blog that I am a morning person. It doesn’t necessarily mean I always like waking up, but once I’m up I’m awake.

I usually have enough time in the morning to make something like oatmeal, eggs, or a smoothie and enjoy it for five minutes. However, sometimes I’m running late and reach for another granola bar to eat on my way to class or work. For some reason, I hate eating granola bars for breakfast. It’s like a phsycological game that I feel like my breakfast deserves a little more thought since it’s the first food my body has eaten in 8+ hours.

So, recently I created some oat bars to be my go to breakfast when I am in a rush. I mostly scanned what I had in the kitchen and hoped something substantial would turn out. Good news is, I think they turned out great. They are also sugar free, gluten free, and loaded with protein and fiber.

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bars:

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  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 4 ounces of apple sauce
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp PB2 (regular PB would probably work also)
  • 1/4 cup of milk

1. Completely mash the bananas in a large bowl

2. Once they are mashed, add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.

3. Bake at 350 degrees (in a 9 by 13 inch pan) for 15-20 or until edges start to brown.

4. Let cool 5-10 minutes. Cut up, store in a airtight container and refrigerate.

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*You can cut them into whatever size you like. If I am eating only this for breakfast, I usually eat two.

Scones.

A friend and I decided we wanted to do a devotional together once a week in order to take some time out for the Lord and keep each other accountable for things. There are so many devotional books out there but we quickly just decided to try Images of His Beauty by Tracy Davis Steel. We have currently only done two sessions of it, so I will review it later. We chose Tuesday mornings because we have a solid two hour break.

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This past session, we went to a local coffee shop right next to campus. They always have a tray of fresh baked scones at the checkout just waiting for you to give in. Somehow I have resisted until this week, and gosh have I been missing out! They are worth however many calories are in them (which I do not want to know). We split the Dark Chocolate Earl Gray scone and immediately we were taken back to Europe where delectable pastries were an everyday occurrence.

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After eating this scone, we made a drastic life decision. When we graduate next year, we are going to backpack around Europe for a month on a scone tour. We will walk everywhere to stay in shape and never have to turn down a scone. I’ll do a full review on the blog. ;)

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left to right: tea, smoothie, coffee, water

Side note, I think I have a drinking problem. These cups are all currently on my desk and consumed at various times today.

Congrats, we are halfway through the week!

Does anyone have any scone recipes to share? Favorite type of scone? 

Gone with the Week

We made it through the first week back to school! And thanks to the holiday tomorrow, I have a three day weekend. I enjoyed most of my classes this week and am excited to get the semester going. I also had orientation for my new job (pre-school teacher) and got my curriculum and schedule. I’m excited to get to mold young minds, serve the future generation, and spend time with my favorite people- kids!

I have not done much homework this week, however, I’ve stayed pretty busy.

Currently Reading: 

This weekend I am currently reading The Colonel’s Lady by Laura Frantz. I am halfway through and so far it is a great historical fiction/Christian fiction novel. I have really been into reading historical books about past wars lately (Unbroken, Wedded to War, The Colonel’s Lady…etc.). Also, lets just mention that everyone should read Unbroken because it is ten million times better then the movie. (And the Kindle price is also only $4.99!) I saw the movie first and thought it was good until I read the book. Sadly, the most important part of Louis life- the freedom, grace, and redemption from God was left out of the movie. I cannot help but feel Louis would be disappointed with the message of the movie.

Anyways, moral of the story is read the book whether you saw the movie or not.

Currently Listening to:

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I downloaded Clarensau’s album Death Met Grace and I love it. They have some worship music albums and some regular albums. Their pandora station is also wonderful and is similar to The Civil Wars who are one of my favorite artists.

Currently Drinking:

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I know. Could there be a better combination? Lola’s Almond Bliss coffee with girl scouts thin mints creamer. Since I realize coffee creamer is a danger sugar trap, I typically only drink this creamer on the weekends. During the week I mostly drink tea and the occasional latte, but on the weekends, I savor some sweet coffee.

Currently Exercising: 

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My hope this semester is to be more active. I don’t have a strict schedule or goals, I just want to be healthy and have more energy. I’m hoping to workout every other day because I really feel a  million times better with the extra energy. I am not a fan of my schools 500 square foot tiny gym, so I have been using fitnessblender.com when I don’t want to go to the gym. I just started using this website but so far I love it. You pick your time, level of intensity, and what area you want to focus on and it gives you a list of videos that fit your description. It really is a website for all fitness levels and even if you only have 10 minutes you can get in a heart healthy workout.

I also go on walks a lot because I consider them exercise and I love the peacefulness of a walk.

Currently Writing: 

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A week or so ago, I called my sister and had a slight breakdown. The realization of the near future of graduating and life being so different then I thought just got the best of me. I go through phases of anticipating the future and then fearing the future to the point of wondering why I am even here on earth. After an encouraging and raw pep talk, she encouraged me to write a list of goals for where you are right now. Not considering the future, just write what you would love to do right where you are.

I found this journal for $1.00 and quickly completed my list (and continue to add to it). I call it my 2015 “Reckless Reality.” And currently I’m filling the rest of the pages with encouragement, letters from people, scripture, and my never ending thoughts.

Currently Doing: 

Once I finish editing this blog post, I am going to make some lunch and then head to the library to work on homework. I hope everyone has a splendid Sunday and a merry holiday tomorrow.

Currently saving the best for last: 

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Shout out to the world’s most wonderful and giving dad! Tomorrow is his birthday and I wish I could be home to take you to Dunkin Donuts and share some chocolate munchkins and coffee. I love you to the moon and every star and back. Thanks for loving me!

First Days

Today was my first day of classes for my sixth semester in college. Per usual, it feels weird to be back but also good. I started my day with the usual green tea to help me wake up. My sister gave me this for Christmas and it’s wonderful. Definitely made my morning a bit sweeter.

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I did the whole class thing for the morning/afternoon, received several syllabi (and thus became overwhelmed) and took a solid 2 1/2 hour nap after classes. It’s cold and windy and I never sleep well the night before my first day, so a nap seemed like the perfect solution. I needed to go to Walmart (I’ve been eating trail mix, crackers, and M n’ M’s all day) but the cold got the best of me today and I couldn’t force myself to go. Hopefully tomorrow I will have the motivation to grocery shop (or whenever I get sick of trail mix).

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(Perks of being an Elementary Education major- sometimes we get to color.)

I saw some friends, went to the library to get organized, and spent the night finishing my latest book, Wedded to War. I love reading realistic fiction. I am now starting to read Serve God Save the Planet, which my sister recommended as a great book.

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As you can tell, today was a pretty chill day but I like it that way. I know I will be sucked into the stress of the semester soon enough. But for now, I am going to get ready for bed and miss this little guys snuggles for the next four months.

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Basil Pesto Recipe

In celebration/mourning of my last day of winter break, I made a big bowl of pesto pasta. My mom and I cannot get enough of it and thanks to our growing basil plant, we can often indulge our pasta cravings. This recipe is adapted from one in Italy but I changed some ingredients (different nuts and cheese) and portions. This pasta is extremely satisfying and I would argue, the best healthy “comfort” meal ever.

Also, I miss Italy a little more with each bite I take.

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Italian Basil Pesto

2 packed cups of fresh basil leaves

3 gloves of garlic

1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese

1/4 cup walnuts

1/3 cup olive oil

ground pepper to taste

Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and grind to a thick liquid.

Immediately pour over 12 ounces cooked noodles and serve hot.  (I prefer to use rotini or fartelle (“bow tie”) noodles with this pesto, but any noodle type will work well.)  

You can easily half the recipe or use more or less noodles, considering how “pesto-y” you prefer your pasta.

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? 

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