Saturday, January 4, 2014

Starting 2014 Off Right... for now!

So with 2014 being here I of course jumped on the bandwagon of eating healthier and exercising and all that jazz

Fair warning this is a long wordy post!
But I promise you, both recipes are worth it!

Today I am going to share 2 recipes I have tried so far.

The first is the green smoothie you see below:
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The original recipe came from danielleburkleo and I had to tweak it a bit due to my allergies.
So here is my final recipe:

2 cups packed spinach (didn't use baby cause I had regular on hand)
1 cup semi packed green leaf romaine (cause it was in the fridge and needed to be used)
1 tsp chia seeds
1 not totally full tbsp of sunflower butter 
1 cup whole frozen strawberries 
1 banana
1 cup coconut milk and ice

The results -- it was not that bad honestly.  
I probably won't be craving it but it filled me up, it was pretty tasty and the texture was not bad at all.
Oh and I am already planning on making myself one tomorrow too!

A few things I found out:

-add the liquid and frozen stuff to the bottom of the blender then the greens as it took forever to blend when it was all dry greens at the bottom of the blender.

-it was high in calories (600+) mostly due to the coconut milk I used (300+) - this may not be the case with the almond milk it called for - but I think tomorrow's will be 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup water + ice

-the sunflower butter was very overpowering in the taste - which tends to happen with sunflower butter so tomorrow I will not add it in at all and see how much it changes

-i used strawberries as they were $2 cheaper per bag at the grocery store and worked fine but may be higher in sugar than blueberries so something to keep in mind

But overall I get the whole "green smoothie" concept.
I got a few servings of leafy greens in, an entire serving at least of fresh fruit, water, etc and it replaced my normal bagel.

Now on to my second recipe...
Sorry no pics on this one
We will call it: artichoke, lemon, spinach and asparagus abundance!

What you will need:

1 jar artichoke hearts in seasoned oil/brine
2 chicken breasts
couscous - I used non flavored
1-2 lemons
fresh spinach
garlic
asparagus
salt
pepper
a touch of olive oil
chili powder

How to for chicken:

Split chicken breasts or tenderize them
Salt and pepper your chicken
Heat up 2/3 of the oil from the artichokes in a pan along with a bit of olive oil (if needed)
Add chicken and cook
Add lemon juice and lemon zest directly to pan while cooking
Add chili powder to taste
Once chicken is about half way done, add in half of the artichokes - break up by hand before tossing in the pan - just to warm them up
Once you turn off the heat add 1-2 handfuls of spinach but keep an eye on it if you don't want it to turn that unattractive dark green 
Then just let sit until you eat

How to for couscous:

Start water as directed on box but use the last 1/3 of the oil from the artichokes plus water and lemon zest and juice
Season water/oil as directed with salt/pepper and extra olive oil (if you want)
Cook couscous as directed
Once you take it off the heat to finish cooking add in more lemon juice, artichokes - broken up and 1-2 handfuls of spinach
Let sit covered and absorb all those flavors

How to for asparagus:

Normally I would (done what the originally poster of this recipe did and) tossed them in olive oil and salt, pepper and garlic and placed in the oven but we were on a time constraint so instead I...

Cut them into quartered pieces
Placed in microwave safe bowl with enough water to cover
Covered tightly with plastic wrap
Place in microwave 4-5 minutes or until tender

I then added half without anything on them to the couscous 

The other half I tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic to taste

I took about 3 recipes I had found, I used 1 entirely to make the couscous - found here and my chicken recipe was supposed to be a stuffed chicken but once again we were on a time constraint so I created something with the same ingredients needed for the stuffed chicken. 

The other 2 recipes were where I had gotten the idea for stuffing my chicken with: artichokes, mozzarella cheese and asparagus.

So the verdict -- OMGosh so delicious!!
The hubs and I devoured this for dinner last night and lunch again today!
Totally awesome and only took me about 30 minutes total to make it all!

Some things I would change -
-put the spinach in chicken later so it doesn't turn so ugly in color (taste was fine)
-make wayyy more couscous
-cook asparagus longer or cut thinner
-add more lemon (I love the flavor it gives)
-added more garlic to the chicken (I figured there would be enough in the artichoke brine/oil)

But overall I am definitely planning on making this one again!!

So happy 2014!

Please share any healthy/fun recipes you have found so far!

And please let me know your thoughts on these two. 
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Weddings galore (9/1/12)

So this was the wedding for my Sunshine!
Sunshine and I have been friends since the 10th grade when I moved to The North Country!
It is kind of funny because we are opposites in every sense of the word!

She is coordinated -- I fall over my own two feet!
She is athletic -- I was the world's BEST bench warmer in volleyball!
She loves her some Gwen Stefani, K-Rock style music -- I am bopping my head to Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj
She is down to earth and a go with the flow girl -- I am high maintenance and high strung haha

But despite these things we have been best friends since we were 15!

So when she got engaged a year and a half after me I was beyond excited for her!

Now I was even more excited when she told me WE HAVE A DATE!!'

We had some mani-pedis
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We had a nice rehearsal dinner at a place called Coleman's here in CNY and then came back to my place where.... well things got a bit crazy!!
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Yeah look how classy we were at dinner....
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Well that quickly went down hill once the hpnotiq came out haha

The day of the wedding we woke up and got ready!
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How gorgeous is the hair and bride?
And yes we did go hang out under the dress... what you didn't do that at your BFFs wedding?
 photo FrankesWedding6_zps2e0f3e7e.jpgOh did I mention... she got married at the ZOO??!!

It was a great night with great food -- drinks -- friends -- dancing
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We got to have a mini high school reunion!  WooHoo to us!

All in all it was an awesome day!!

Obviously it has been a year since I should have posted this but eh things happen!

This same girl spent 6-8 weeks traveling across the country with her new husband this summer and it was awesome!!

Love you Sunshine!!

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Life is about perspective

So if you read this post or this post I have talked about why I blogged and started blogging a few different times.

Well today as I was driving home I looked up and realized the sky was half cloudy and kinda dark and half that beautiful brilliant light blue that you just can't help but be amazed at and I realized I am starting to understand why I started this blog….

I started this blog to "find" myself and my meaning in life - well I have {God willing} another 50-60 years ahead of me and I think I am going to be figuring this out for a long time!  But on the other hand I am beginning to push myself to truly discover why I am trying to find myself.

One meaning is to live by what I hope becomes my motto more and more in life - "Life is about perspective."  It is so simple and I tend to try and fall back on this {not nearly enough} and today that drive kind of drove this home {pun intended lol}.  I realized looking at the sky it was either beautiful or gloomy and dark - you had to choose how you viewed it!  Today I chose to view the beauty!!  And I thank God that I did!

So I guess to get to the point - I am starting to find myself.

I am realizing it won't just happen but slowly I am becoming the person I want to be.

I am understanding I have to actually work for what i want and make the changes necessary to be the big kid I always dreamed of being haha

But I am an ongoing work in process and I am okay with that!

How do you choose to look at life?
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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Favorite Books Eva

So as I was driving home today I realized I have never shared my favorite books with y'all!!

Now I know your lives were totally not complete without this post haha

So random fact about me - I love to read!!

I mean seriously I am a total book worm, my family and friends know once I start a book you will be hard pressed to get me away from said book until finished.

I started reading at a young age and never stopped!!

Now I have one problem when it comes to reading - I tend to read quickly and skip over details.

I get the majority of the book haha but I always end of finding new things out if I re-read a book.

So here are some of my favorite books ever!!

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
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Oh what can I say about this book?
I read it for the first time in 8th grade I believe it was.
I fell in love with this book!
There has always been something special about these four sisters.
The love they have for one another and their parents.
The faith that they never give up!
The simplicity of this book!!

I cried with everyone else when Beth passes away.
I was just as excited when Jo found love.
I was heart broken for Laurie when Jo denies him.
Just so many feelings and emotions in one book. 

I will never forget reading the part where Mrs. March tells Joe that she has always fought her own demons and it has taken her years to overcome and become a better person.

This particular part resonated with me so much because it reminds me of my own faith!
I have never not believed and as time has gone on I have realized that I am a constant work in progress.  I may will never be perfect but that does not mean the Good Lord does not want me to try!
It will probably be a life long journey for me to become the God Fearing woman I should be and I am okay with that!!

For me it started with believing and trying to be better and do better! 
And reading this book helps me every time I read it to reiterate that in my life!

2. The Giver by Lois Lowery 
This book talk about mind boggling and breath taking.
This was a book I read in middle school for the first time.
I immediately fell in love with this book from the first time I read it!
The mere idea that this utopian society exists without pain, hunger, fear etc at first seems so amazing.
Then you get into the nitty gritty and you are thinking Holy Moly!!
These people are nuts!!

But I couldn't help myself because naturally people don't want to experience pain, anger, jealousy etc.  
However once Jonas begins to experience he realizes it is worth it in the end.

Without knowing ugly and bad how will you ever know and appreciate beauty and good?
How would you know love?
How would you know faith?
And hope?
And joy?

The answer is simple you wouldn't and that was the point.

Once you know these things you can not help but want more of them even if that means having to experience the negative.

3. A Winter of Fire by Sherryl Jordan
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This book is similar to The Giver.
A highly divided society of slaves and royalty.
One person who controls their very heat and life source as we silly humans ruined the earth!
And screwed up the sun!

But then the book has a twist the next potential saver is one of the slaves!
That slave refused her whole life to simply sit back and conform and just let it be.
She knew she and everyone deserved more and were worth so much more!!

She found someone to believe in her and allow her to move forward!
When she did she proved that status, power, money and prestige do not mean anything!
It is about who we are on the inside.
It is about our spirit.
It is about us as a person!

We are capable of anything and given the opportunity or creating our own opportunity we will succeed!

4. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
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I loved reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe first.
It was such a great and classic story of good versus evil.
Of course I love that good won.

But then I was introduced to the entire series and truly fell in love!
I love all the parallels to Biblical stories and lessons and just how love, kindness, goodness, joy and faith always win!

For me this entire series is just so uplifting and beautiful!!
Truly one of my favorites!


5. The Wrinkle In Time Quintent by Madeleine L'Engle

I read this entire series when I was still in middle school but as of now I have only re-read the first ones.
This is another SciFi - good vs. evil series I fell in love with.
I think I liked this set because it mixed science with faith and good intentions.
I love that LOVE would win in these books!

I love that this family was not "normal" and lived by true values and cores and morals!
This book is always a go-to comfort for me.
Definitely worth the time and effort 


6. Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. 
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As I am looking through my list I evidently really enjoy that utopian sci fi books lol
I think I enjoy them because the lesson I always take away is - perfection is not what what we think.
Perfection is not totally equality by bringing some people down to meet the lowest.

Equality is about everyone being given an equal opportunity when possible!

This book taught me it is better to be myself and "die an original rather than live as a copy"
There is nothing wrong with embracing who we are!

But there is something wrong with trying to make everyone the same.
There is no such thing as the "norm" it is only what we allow society to tell us!

So for me it is about never losing site of how wonderful or flaws and imperfections are!
Because once we lose site of that we begin to want to be like the masses.

7. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
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So if you have never read the true Frankenstein - do yourself a favor!
It will make you rethink everything you know about the horror movies.
There is so much more to this story than just an "evil monster."
I won't say anymore but please tell me if you read it!


8. Sideways Stories From Wayside School by Louis Sachar
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So this entire series just brings me back to childhood.
I am almost 30 years old and still enjoy re-reading these cheesy books haha
They are just cute, simple stories with no lesson or point but to entertain and sometimes even as adults we need that!

9. Holes by Louis Sachar 
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Oh Holes!
A book that teaches you a lesson about hard work, accepting that life is unfair sometimes and that in the end everything works out!
Basically Holes taught me that the saying "everything happens for a reason" is sooo true!!
I love Stanley Yelnats!
And his dirty rotten stealing great granddad!


10. Babysitter's Club by Ann M. Martin, The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner and all RL Stine books 
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And this last set of books just screams my teenage years!
They are a compilation of the most impossible and unfathomable scenarios ever in the history of the world!

In what world would kids be able to live in an old boxcar and then be rescued by their super rich relative and have adventures every single freaking day?

Or would 12 and 13 year olds be responsible enough to baby sit babies and toddlers!
Shoot I am not even responsible enough now!

And let's not even go to RL Stine's stuff you all know how crazy those were!

But I love every single one of them!!

Now last but not least is my Bible.
I am still working my way through but it definitely deserves a place on this list.
I try to read at least a passage a day.
I try to take something out of each passage, a lesson, a thought, a life choice.
Whatever it is.
I as I said in #1 am a constant work in progress and am working on it every day!

So do tell - what is your favorite book?
Have you read any of these?
Any suggestions?

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

My 2 cents

Okay you probably A-could care less about my opinion and B-are sick of hearing about ths topic but I feel I must add in my 2 cents.

Earlier this week I came across this picture:
And at first I am like WTW?! {What The What?!}  I am thinking geez seriously who does this?  You have got to be kidding me etc.  

And then I realized wow I am hating on someone I don't know, who didn't ask me for my opinion and who does not give two poops about me!  

I am hating on her-{let's be honest here for a moment}-because she has the body I dream about with 3 kids and I have the pregnancy body minus the kids! 

That is the truth I was irritated originally cause she looks good and I want to but don't want to do the work.

Well as time went on I kept seeing more and more articles bashing this woman and I just have to add my opinion.

Here is the thing {in my opinion} -we as a society often have a tendency {just like me} to automatically either hate someone who has what we want or defend why we don't have what they want.

The reality is this woman is doing NOTHING WRONG!  Yeah fine maybe the wording on the pic could have been a bit different or maybe she could have worn a tank vs. bra but it doesn't change the reality.  She managed to stay fit with 3 children and a husband and employment - if she can so can the rest of us.

Instead what is happening is I have read every single excuse under the roof about why someone can't look like her and why it is "fat shaming" and why she is a fraud, liar, her kids are not being taken care of etc.  

GET OVER IT!!

1st if you don't like it - DON'T LOOK AT IT!

2nd if this makes you feel a certain kind of way - look at yourself not her.

3rd Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent - so why is a picture a woman posted on her FB page that you have to go like and seek out making you automatically write a defensive article about why you don't look like her?

4th If it is making you unhappy or you feel fat shaming is going on don't give her the publicity of posting on her wall, writing a bashing article, etc because even bad publicity is publicity!

At the end of the day me hating on her and her hard work is not going to make me lose weight, eat better, look better, feel better etc.  

The only thing that will help with all of the above is ME!!  I can not place blame on my "busy" life {FYI I work a 40 hour a week job, no kids, have a dog that doesn't require a lot of work and no real extras! AKA I have no excuses besides laziness lol} or "bad genes" or anything else.  I have to make the decision to make things happen!

And if I have outstanding circumstances that prevent me from losing weight, looking like this etc. once again my issues can not be with Maria it is with my unhappiness with myself.

Because truth is there will always be a Maria out there.

There will always be the person better than you, richer than you, better looking, thinner, etc. 

If I focus on everything I don't have versus what I do have I will never truly appreciate what God has given me here and today!

I guess my thought is - we can't continue to blame others for how we feel!

Nobody can MAKE you feel anything - it is our reaction to someone's actions or sometimes perceived actions and it is just so annoying when people try to blame others for why they don't like themselves or are unhappy.

There is no rule that says we have to look like this person or that person or have this hair or that hair - yes I know "society" says so - but once again why do we allow "society" to dictate what we perceive as ok?

I am very short {not societal standard}, I am "curvaceous" {nice way of saying a bit (a lot) overweight lol also not a societal standard}, I have brown hair and eyes {oh not winning again!} etc. but am I unhappy with my overall appearance - sometimes?  Why - cause I could lose some weight and I just have days where I am not happy!

See I feel that we assume because a person is _____________ {fill in the blank with skinny, pretty, smart, rich etc.} they are happier and better than us.  Truth - if you are not happy with yourself all of the money, power, beauty etc.in the world won't fix YOU!

This is a lesson I have had to learn and it is a hard one.

My appearance, my bank account, my hair etc does not define me!  I am define by the person I am, what I put out into this world and what I leave in the world!!

Sometimes we have to remember - life isn't fair, we are dealt a hand in life and it is up to us how we play that hand.

Make the most of what you have and learn to be happy with your!  Appreciate who you are and why others love you!  Don't focus on the ugly!  Learn to look at the beauty!!  

At the end of the day - life is all about perspective!!

P.S. It is okay to not be happy I am not saying you can't.  I am saying figure out what to do to make yourself happy rather than focus on things that make you feel bad about yourself because there are unfortunately a lot of them out there.  Some things I have found to help me {FYI-I am not perfect, I don't always take my own advice and I am no expert just throwing in my 2 cents haha}

1. my #365daysofgratitude on Instagram 
2. writing in a journal about what I have versus focusing on what I don't have 
3. surrounding myself by those that LOVE me for ME not because of anything I can give them, provide them or do for them 
4. taking time for me {yes anyone can do it even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom and pretend you are using it lol just take that 5-10 minutes!} 
5. reflecting on what I read in my Bible and how it applies to my life 

Hope this either helps you or at least provided some entertaining reading! :)  Happy Sunday Friends!!

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Lessons Learned

Hello I am back - yet again!  I just didn't have anything worth saying for a while lol but today I had to get this one out there.  Sorry no pictures or cute stories or anecdotes or DIY just some thoughts on what   I do to pay the bills.  :)

I am not sure how much you know about my world by day - I know I have told you I am a counselor by day.  Well where doesn't matter and neither does in what field exactly but there are certain areas that are important - what you need to know is I work with a "difficult" population - primarily mandated criminal justice patients.

If you would have asked me when I was in grad school if this is where I would be 4 years ago I would have laughed and told you you were crazy!  Fast forward 4 years and it somehow fits.

Prior to being where I am, I was a social worker for a nursing home.  That was something that 6 weeks into the job I hated it, came home crying every single day and started looking for a new job then and there and continued to search until I found my current job almost a year and a half later.

See I am a firm believer in a few "cliches" -
Everything happens for a reason
If it is meant to be it will be
Life is all about perspective and 
God always has a plan.  
These things have helped me not go completely insane many, many, many times!  So I believe that I was at my first job for a reason and I believe that my current job was meant to be because you see the week I was leaving for my wedding I got a phone call, interview and offer for my current job within 24 hours.  I remember calling To and telling him they offered it to me but I did not know how to put in a 2 week notice.

See the job offer and everything was finalized by Tuesday - I was leaving for my wedding on Friday!!  So To told me just write a letter of resignation RIGHT NOW!  So I did that and went away for almost 3 weeks I believe, came back finished up my last week and started my new job a week later!  It was a crazy whirlwind but it was meant to be.  My entire life God has blessed me with perfect timing but the funny thing is I never recognize it until so much later!

This was 2.5 years ago now and it has been an interesting journey.  You see unfortunately the population, building and very field I work in comes with much critique, stereotypes, judgement and a whole plethora of crap really.  I will admit prior to starting in the field I was guilty of much of the same things and I hate that because I try so hard to be as PC as possible and as nonjudgmental as possible but unfortunately I am human.

In my short time in this field I have learned so much about myself, the field, what it means to be a counselor, how you can help others and what it means to appreciate what you do.  See this is the first time where I don't go home crying from work.  I don't hate my job - I will admit I hate the politics that come with it and I also hate the unfortunately mountain of paperwork that often takes away from client time but aside from that I love what I do!

I love that a group of people who are often seen by society as "bad" have taught me so much!  You see so often the people I work with need nothing more than some structure and a helping hand.  Today I had to step back because I have started to lose myself and some of my compassion.  See if you know anything about "criminal justice" it often comes with some antisocial behaviors - which are not what you think they are lol.  So I as a counselor have had to learn this fine line between compassion and not being manipulated but it is often easier to become more rigid and strict rather than remember I have to step back sometimes!

It is so easy to get caught up in my "job" rather than focus on my passion.  I will admit I am that person that wants to help others - no I don't think I am going to "fix" anything or anyone because there is nothing to fix - I can only help.  I can provide tools, educations, new view points and a different perspective.  Because I want to help people that means I have to remember how to sometimes.  Now don't get me wrong, I never lose my "skills" so to speak but sometimes I am not as focused on remember not to get stressed out and not to worry and not to focus on not being "run over."

So back to today I have two co workers in particular that are great to go to when I need to refocus because they are honest, kind and good at what they do.  So today I had to bounce a few thoughts around and my co worker was able to help me reframe, refocus and remember why I do this!!  Lately I have been thinking what the hell am I doing?  Why do I spend my time here?  What good am I doing?  Am I even helping anyone?  Do I make a difference at all?  And I realized - wait this isn't about me!  My job is not about making me happy and making me feel good about what I do and it isn't about me making changes it is about what I help others to do!  The glory isn't for me but for them!

And this was a bit of an eye opener because I did exactly what I never wanted to - I got caught up in my job and forgot why I want to do this.  It is so easy to fall prey to other people's negativity and view on things and lose yourself.  I don't want to do that!  My co worker said something to me that I tell my group all of the time - "you have to decide for yourself what is right and wrong."

That was probably the point that it hit home - it isn't about the cynicism of others and getting caught up in what they "know to be true" it is about what I believe is right.  In order to best help people I must learn to always be true to me!

Long story short - life is about perspective - you have to choose how will you view the world.

Will you see people with a criminal past as always being "bad" people and manipulative or do you choose to see the times they make progress and use appropriate language and try to challenge their own beliefs and thoughts on their lifestyle choices?  Do you focus on the ugly in people or the good?  You will always find good if you look for it and this holds to be even more true with ugly and bad.  Just like I tell my groups - "you have to make choices for yourself, nobody can live your life, nobody can force you to do anything, you have to live your life for you!"

"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."

"Holding a grudge is like letting someone rent space for free in your head."

All lessons truly learned in the past 2.5 years.

Where have you gotten the most surprising of lessons in life?

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Things you should probably know

FYI:  This post was supposed to be posted back in April/May :)  My bad!!

Well now that it is Friday I can finally spill my beans to y'all!
So here are some things you should know!

1.  Hubs has been in Canada for work for almost 3 weeks!!  I have missed that man more than I realized I would!!  I am truly blessed to have him!!

2.  These 3 weeks have taught me I am stronger than I realized and very capable of spending time alone and being okay!

3.  I am a social creature!!  I love being around others!!

5.  It is Friday!!  What are you up to this week?

6.  I am cheating on the hubs… with a 4 year old but to be fair the 4 year old is two timing me too!

7.  It is actually easier to be a better and bigger person

8.  Every day is a blessing and the small things remind me of that!

9.  I have a wonderful family and am so grateful for them

10.  Having your little sister be your best friend is truly amazing!! <3 my life!

What should I know about you?

P.S. did you notice there was no #4 tehehe
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