Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Favorites

Friday is here and my bags are packed to head to my mom's this weekend.  It's fun to look back and pick out my highlights of the week.  I hope you enjoy these as well!

1) Shopping the sales from last season is making me (+ my wallet) very happy.  As hard as it is to wait, I love finding pieces on sale that I have been eyeing for a while.  Patience is a virtue!  I am also totally guilty of buying multiple colors when I find a piece of clothing that I love.  I couldn't resist these two skirts below, both in the colors that I have been searching for (coral and royal).  The dress was one I saw last season from J.Crew on a gal I used to work with and thought it looked so cute!  I found it at the J. Crew Factory online store and took advantage of the extra 30% off promotion.  I love that you can dress it up with fun statement necklace, flats or wedges!

2) Appetizer and Entree tasting with our caterer.  Becky, Dustin, Kristine, Chris and I all went to our caterer's testing kitchen to meet and sample with the chef. The great news is that all of the food was amazing and it will be hard to narrow down what we will end up serving!

Items we sampled included:

4 Appetizers:

- Stuffed Mushroom Caps (a favorite)
- Lemon Basil Chicken Lettuce Wraps (a favorite)
- Bruschetta (a favorite)
- Quiche

2 Salads:

- Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons and Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese (a favorite)
- Roasted Vegetables with Feta Cheese (a favorite)

4 Entrees:

- Chicken Marsala (a favorite)
- Beef Brisket + amazing sauce which I can't remember the name (a favorite)
- Penne Pasta in a Light Cream Sauce with Sundried Tomatoes add Artichoke Hearts (a favorite)
- Rotelli Pasta in an Italian Meat Sauce (a favorite)

My biggest concern is picking items that will go well with one another and that gives our guests variety!  What will we choose??  You must attend the wedding to find out :).

3) Grabbing dinner and drinks with Deena and Jessica.  I love getting together with friends and sometimes life gets so "busy" that I need to remember to try and take more time to simply relax and let loose with friends.  A good margarita and bowl of chips is just what the doctor ordered!
Thank you, ladies!

4) Bus Trivia.  I was a little annoyed on Monday when the bus driver announced he was going to tell jokes and trivia on the bus each morning.  But it makes me so happy!  This driver is a "Fred" (read the Fred Factor to learn more).  He is happy and loving his job.  He is trying to lighten up the bus crowd and make our commute a little more enjoyable.  Today's trivia question was "What is the longer street in West Seattle?"  My guess was California Street which actually is also the longest street is Seattle, too!  Did you know that?

5)  Dad and Karen! Karen's Birthday was yesterday and my dad found out that he is going to Houston to interview with Bertolli Olive Oil.  I only thought it was appropriate to put them in here since they both had an exciting week.

Time to get working!  Happy weekend to everyone :).

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Recipe + Coping Mechanisms

When my alarm clock went off this morning, I tried to think of every excuse possible to sleep in a bit motivate me to wake up and get moving.  I am so happy I did because I love getting a work out done and out of the way! Check!

Last night after the gym I headed to Trader Joe's in search of ingredients for the Apricot Chicken dish I have been eyeing.  I had a similar dish at Olive Garden which was surprisingly one of their lowest calorie dishes and I have wanted to replicate it for a while now.

I loved it!  It was easy and delicious.  I ended up packing it for both my lunch and Dustin's (meal prep!) Next time, I think I will add the onions they suggested or add a touch of chili powder to balance out the sweetness.  I always make a huge batch of brown rice for the week, so I love the simplicity of this new recipe as a way to jazz up a staple food that is already in our fridge.

The past few weeks, I have been determined to make a few changes to our apartment. Mainly because I am bored with our home decor and I change my mind every time I browse a pretty home blog. I tend to see house projects as a coping mechanism.  There are so many things that are happening that are out of my control, so I like to put my energy into things that I can control.  Make sense?  Call me crazy but the tiniest things make me happy right now, like changing throw pillows!  I am sure I am driving Dustin bonkers :).

For example, last week I had Dustin pick up new throw pillows at Target that were not available at the City Target but were in stock at another store close to his work.  They were navy blue and they were affordable.  But once I had them on the couch they looked cheap and small.  A part of me thought that I should keep them because they were budget friendly, but then I eyed a new set at Pier 1 with a slightly higher sticker price.  They were softer, bigger and looked so much better (in my mind).  So I swapped them out.  I am so happy that I did!  I am going to return some white cushion covers to justify my more expensive swap.  The best part?  I don't even think Dustin knows that I changed them.  That is when I know that my mind is overthinking a bit too much.

So while in project mode, naturally I needed to find new prints to help tie all of the colors together.  The  previous throw pillows that I had before went really well with the colors in my wall map.  Keeping with the "travel them" I came across this Space Needle print and a colorful photo of Cinque Terre.  I visited Cinque Terre for a weekend when I studied abroad in Italy. Our group completed the hike between the 5 fire cities and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  The colors in the city + hiking along the coast line was simply perfect.  I love that I think of that hike every time I see that photo now.

The last small change I made was moving my brass hurricanes from our room to the side table.  I really like these and I wanted them to be in a place where I saw them more.

The hardest part about our living room is that I feel like I am decorating a corner of a shoe box.  We don't have a fire place or pretty windows to decorate around.  There is no focal point and it lacks natural light.  I think it is something I only notice and many others don't seem to be bothered by.  My last apartment had a pretty brick fireplace and lots of windows!  I really regret not playing them up a bit more when I decorated that space.  On the other hand, this apartment not only has a great location, it has a washer/ dryer, ample closet room and is very spacious which makes up for the shoe box living room ;-).

So here is the room after lots of moving/shifting things around. I am happy with it, for now!  Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Eventually, I want to upholster our dining room chairs with new fabric.  I'll let that sit with me a bit before pulling the trigger.  What are some of your coping mechanisms when things in life seem a bit crazy and chaotic?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Weekend Recap

I had a good weekend and it was nice to switch things up a bit.  My mom had two of her good high school friends come into town and visit with her this weekend.  Because of this I only stayed with her on Friday.

I think this was a good break for me.  I have been bottling up some frustrations over the week with our mother/daughter relationship.  So it was a healthy break for me to not be there for the whole weekend.  Even though I most definitely felt guilty.

On Saturday night, I invited one of my best friends, Farrah, up for dinner and drinks.  Typically, Dustin and I really like exploring restaurants and bars within walking distance from us (when we do stay in West Seattle), but I really wanted to try a few new places.  We started our night with dinner at Circa in the Admiral District of West Seattle.  I really liked their beer selection and loved that my burger came with a fresh Macrina bun.  It certainly stood out from the normal pub burger one would order!

After our dinner we decided to meet up with Dustin and our good friend, Phil, for drinks on Alki.  Margaritas were calling our name so we ended up at Cactus, right next to Morgan and Preston's old town home!

On Sunday morning we attended a baby shower of one of Dustin's childhood friends.  The shower was all the way in Port Angeles which took up the majority of our day just driving there.  Our friends Spencer and Mallory tagged along as well!

We got a little loopy being in the car for so long . . .

After our all day long excursion, Dustin and I agreed that some pizza and wine sounded good!  We headed back up to Pizzeria Credo after having such a great first experience there.  Their service is wonderful and I love their wine list and their Con Carne pizza.

Last night, I booked a flight to visit Thayer and Addison!  I was not able to attend Addison's Birthday party this year due to my mom's health.  Not that my mom is stable again, I really wanted to spend some time with Addison before my months start to get crazy with wedding planning.  I am thankful that I was able to find a low cost flight!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!

I am happy that the work week is wrapping up and looking forward to the weekend.  Here some of my favorite things that I enjoyed this week -

1) Refresh Mint Tea.  I have been sipping this tea all week long.  I have been struggling a bit with mild stomach pains and mint helps treat upset stomach.  It is caffeine-free so safe to drink at all times during the day :).  I like to drink it with a bit of agave, so good!

2) Gifted magazine subscriptions.  Morgan gifted me the Southern Living magazine subscription as a Christmas gift.  I love this idea because each month when I get a new magazine in the mail I am reminded of the fun gift she gave me!  Thank you, Morgan!

3) My new iPad stand from Target.  Something so simple has been rocking my world lately.  Not only does it hold my iPad while I jam to Pandora, but it is also the best for when I am following a recipe and I can place it right next to the stove as I cook.  Find it here.

4) Which leads to my next favorite from this week, green protein pancakes!  Call me crazy, but these are amazing.  Both Marissa and Megan tried them before I did using a similar recipe via Peanut Butter Fingers.  Even Dustin has been "enjoying" them in the morning.   It's also a great way to use up your bag of spinach before it goes bad!

Recipe (based on my modifications):

- 2 egg whites and 1 whole egg
- 1 handful fresh spinach
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal
- 1 table spoon agave
- Cinnamon to taste

5) New workouts.  These two workouts kicked my booty this week.  I completed 20 minutes on the elliptical before going through each workout.   Again, both of these are via Peanut Butter Fingers.  Needless to say, my arms are hurting today, in a good way!

6) Fresh flowers.  This is a favorite every week and I am trying to make sure a bundle of flowers is picked up on my weekly grocery store runs because it really helps liven up our small apartment.

7) Bachelorette + Bridal Shower Planning!

I have been receiving some exciting emails that are starting to discuss our Las Vegas plans and getting so so excited!  I have the best group of bridesmaids and am so thankful to everyone who is planning to come and taking time out of their busy schedules!

I also have been communicating with Maureen back and forth regarding my Bridal Shower in March.  She just emailed me yesterday saying invitations were going out soon. Lots of exciting things going on :).

8) Trader Joe's Organic Coconut Oil.  I love love love love this stuff!  I have incorporated this item fully into my daily beauty regimen.  I started using it as my sole facial & body moisturizer and I cook with it too.  But this week I tried it as a hair mask.  I massaged it into my hair on a night where I knew I would have to wash my hair the next morning.  I let it soak in all night long and just tied my hair up into a twisted bun.  I was hesitant that my hair would be greasey the next morning but it wasn't.  My hair has been soft and smelling delightful all week long now!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Running : Part 2

Here is part 2 of my mini-running series in order to address and answer my first blog post request: "How did you start running?  Any tips or tricks?"   I want to talk about my favorite gear that makes working out much more comfortable (for me) along with some fun tricks that keep me motivated!  

(all images via Lululemon)

Most of my favorite gear is from Lululemon.  I know this store has a high price tag and may sticker shock some folks but I stand by their products.  They produce high quality products that don't fade, lose shape, chafe and most importantly their material breathes.  Another reason I purchase from Lululemon is because of their flat waist bands.  I have a large incision scar that was irritated from the scrunchy band on my Nike running shorts which made for uncomfortable work outs.   I started out running in Champion and New Balance gear.  Champion lost its shape way too easily and the material didn't breath which caused me to break out on my chest area (yuck) and my pants would not stay up when I ran outside (embarrassing).  New Balance was fine but the thin waist band did not sit well for me.

I work out heavily in this gear 4-5 times a week and I am still using the same pieces I bought almost 3 years ago, that makes each purchase completely worth it in my book.  Price per use!  Also, I should note that I consistently shop Lulu's sale rack online.  I know what size I am for the most part and rarely buy full-priced items.

1)  I love that I can wear this top year round.  The best feature is not only that it is loose (and allows air flow) but you save on your wash load since you don't need to wear a sports bra with it.  I see it as a two-in-one deal.

2)  I use these running pants not only for running but every day work out pants.  I love that it has pockets so that I can store my keys and my iPod/iPhone.  It makes it easier to do cardio work outs at the gym without having an arm band on or having to hold/set my phone down.

3) This is a great basic top for layering that breathes really well.  I love that it is long and stays put when I move around a lot.  I can't stand when my tanks rise when doing mountain climbers, burpees (or as Thayer calls them "4 counts"), etc.  They almost always have one of these on sale so they are easy to pick up.

4.  This head band is a winner in my book and they are really affordable.  They come in a lot of fun colors, keep your hair out of the way and has a sticky band to help it stay put!  I also tend to get head aches from head bands but have never seemed to have a problem with this one.

5.  I only have two of these long sleeve beauties.  They hold up perfectly, keep me warm and breathe extremely well.  The thumbs holes are great for cold runs and they are thin enough that you can add a layer on top (I will wear a vest) without feeling bulky.  If you are lucky you will find one hardly used at Goodwill like Megan did!

6.  These shorts are great for running, they don't rise up and they have a pocket!

7.  I discussed these shoes in a previous post.  I went to a running store in Greenlake and was able to work with a team member there to find these shoes.  I am on my 5th or 6th pair now.  They support my arch which ended up being the reason why I experience pain with my previous shoe.  I also buy new shoes every 6 months or so.  Otherwise I start to get really bad chin splints that take forever to go away!

Here is the guide they used:

Here are some (fun) tricks and tips that help me stay motivated!

- This quote, "Change is not a future event, it is a present activity."

- Follow fitness bloggers online and their IG accounts.  Sometimes when I am on the bus making up excuses of why I should't go to the gym I see a photo on my IG feed that makes me change my mind! I also like to pick up new work out ideas and recipes.

- Pretend like your enemy is working out next to you!  It pushes you harder.

- Eat mini meals through out the day.  It gives you energy and won't weigh you down leaving you feeling groggy.

- Use the interval setting on the elliptical.  I keep reading that short bursts of high intensity training are the best!

- Keep work out DVDs in your DVD player and weights near by.  When I don't feel like going out into the cold to the gym I like knowing that I can still get a workout in at home.  Jillian Michaels is my favorite.

-Use Groupon or Living Social to try new activities.  It is a good way to save a pretty penny and also gets you to try new things!  Last year, I did hot yoga in the winter time and my body was totally prepared when I started to run outside again in the Spring.

- Surround yourself with people that have similar health habits.

- Don't do anything to the extreme.  You will lose fuel and give up a lot easier!  Consistency is key.

- Most importantly, you need to decide if you want to adapt to a healthier living style.  Not a fad or diet.  Just simply a different way of living!

Running : Part 1

I had my first blog post request!  Morgan asks, "How did you get into running?"

A few years ago I was interviewed by Runners Feed that discusses this topic more in depth.  You can find the article here that is titled, "Running From Crohn's Disease."

I owe my love for running to Megan and Marissa.  Megan really helped push me to start running/working out as a mechanism to relieve stress.  Marissa pushed me to distances I never thought I would go.  I started wanting to run longer distances when Marissa would take off to run another 7 miles after our workout.  Not saying I felt the need to "compete" with her, but it was the best push!

Races were a good way to push me and really helped motivate me during this time.  I signed up for the Bloomsday Run that is incredibly popular in Spokane and the Gonzaga community.  It is a 12 K which is 7 miles in distance.  Knowing that I signed up to run 7 miles was an excellent way to propel me forward.  I also knew that I would be running this with a lot of friends and wanted to be able to "keep up".  I had a lot of friends that ran in college.

Knowing that races were a good personal motivator for me,  I signed up for a womens sprint triathlon with Marissa.  I thought that would be fun since the race incorporated three exercises. It was fun to train for as well because if you got tired of running you could always swim or bike instead.  I swam in high school so I thought it would be a good challenge and it was!

The last race I have competed in was my first half-marathon!  I regret not doing another one last year when I got into running longer distances after work.  The biggest thing that kept me from doing another one is how expensive they can be!

There are two main reason why I love running and why I believe I have stuck with it for so long now.  One is the way it helps me relieve stress. They say you never regret a work out and I find this statement to be 100% true. I also love the way I feel afterwards.  Endorphins really do make you happy! Running is very self - empowering. You can see/feel your body become stronger and the distances you can cover with just your two legs and a pair of good shoes is also pretty amazing.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Weekend Recap

Hello!  Today is President's Day and my boss gifted our office the day off.  Our company never takes smaller holidays off so this is a treat.  Because I have today off, I stayed an extra day down at my moms.

My weekend highlights include:

- Friday morning I discovered a new J Crew Factory store nearby and scored a chambray shirt and some new earrings.  I think I could have spent hours in that store!  I was happy with the items I walked away with.

- I ran into Deena at Home Goods while on my search for navy blue pillows (that I never found).  While we continued running errands together, Deena scored an amazing new white desk for the empty nook in her new apartment. We have been discussing this space for a while, so I am happy she found something!

We both ended up purchasing the same basket!  I placed mine on top of our entry way table to keep the "walk through the door" clutter contained!

- Stumbled across this cute blog, The Inspired Room.  I can't wait to spend more time on this site and go through her in review for room inspiration!

- I had coffee with one of my best college friends, Erin, who was in town from Salem, OR.  Erin is working as an Occupational Therapist.  I love how successful, motivated, down to earth and smart my friends are!

- Celebrated 6 years with Dustin.  Dustin had to work but I was able to meet him for lunch at one of our favorite Teriyaki shops.  We decided to forgo a dinner out since we ate a lot of heavy foods this weekend.  Our dinner was light - fresh chicken salads and angel food cake for dessert.  It was weird to give gifts since we just celebrated Valentine's Day.  However, I found a Seahawk Fleece for Dustin that he loved!  Dustin gave me an envelope with two Groupon date nights in it.  One for the observatory deck atop the Columbia Tower and the other for the Underground Tour of Pioneer Square.  I love Groupon because it makes you venture out to something new!

- I watched UP with my mom, which is one of our favorite movies to watch together.  Followed by an episode of the Kardashian's (it is our guilty pleasure but we both get a kick out of watching it). Mom was so sweet and asked me to stay up longer with her.  So we watched the news for a bit as well into the wee hours of the night.

It was a good weekend, overall.  I love being able to cherish moments with my friends, mom and Dustin over the weekend.  It really gives me the fuel to power through another work week! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

6 Years

Tomorrow (February 17th) marks our 6th dating anniversary!  It is hard to believe we will soon have a new date to celebrate, our wedding anniversary.

A lot has happened over these 6 years.  We started dating when my parents were still married, Megan and Craig were not even dating, I had not been diagnosed with Crohns disease yet, my mom was cancer-free, I had never run over 3 miles (nor did I even care for running), Addison was not even conceived and we were freshman in college.  Phew, we sound ancient.

Today, Dustin and I have both graduated from Gonzaga University, got engaged, live in West Seattle together and have both been working at our dream jobs for over 2 years.

I apologize but this post might be sappy and personal.  Don't say that I didn't warn you!  But this gives you a glimpse into our relationship over the years, no relationship is perfect and I don't think I can stress that enough.

It is hard to believe all that we have endured over these years, because they have not all been fun and games.  As any couple can relate, we had a honeymoon phase during the first 2 years of dating.  Our biggest "struggles" included Dustin constantly studying (the engineer life) and my silly stupid college roommate drama.  Two years into our relationship and we have never even experienced a real fight yet.

When I returned from Italy and I don't think I could have ever prepared for what would come within the next year.  I was at the airport in Rome checking my bags (after just finishing a pub crawl), 4:00 am and I found out Thayer was pregnant.  A few months later Megan and Craig got engaged.  Several weeks later my dad flew to Spokane to tell me that my parents were separating.  Within a month my stomach pains had escalated so much that I had lost over 20 pounds.  My colonoscopy showed 3 stomach ulcers and severe inflammation in my intestines indicating that I had Crohns Disease.  We put our family dog down in April and during the same month I had surgery to remove the infected parts of my small and large intestines (after treatment was unsuccessful).  I was able to return to summer school (after taking the semester off) to finish a semesters worth of school in 6 weeks.  I came back to Seattle just in time to throw my sister a Bachelorette party, attend her wedding as Maid of Honor and turn 21 all within 2 weeks!

Dustin stayed by my side the entire time.  Skyping and sending me letters in Italy, traveling from Spokane to Seattle multiples times each month just to sit next to me on the couch over the weekend.  Why?  I could barely make it to the movies, out to lunch or to Target without catching a fever due to my low immune system  I remember telling Dustin several times that I was struggling because I was had a hard time making our relationship a priority and I knew it wasn't fair to him.  And guess what?  He still stayed with me.  We had a strong love during it all.

Flash forward a few years and Dustin and I finished up our final year at Gonzaga.  What was our next step?  Would we be separate or together?  We knew we were meant to be together because we loved each other very much. But we did struggle quite a bit during this transition.  Dustin had three job offers immediately.  I did not get a job a quickly as I wanted to which resulted in me living with my mom for one year post college to take another internship.

While living at home my mom, my Dad remarried to wonderful woman, Karen.  The same exact week of their wedding, our house was broken into and precious sentimental items and valuables were stolen from my mom and I.  A week later, Dustin's beloved Grandfather passed away and then his family dog.

A short while after, I moved to Ballard (a quaint Seattle neighborhood) to fulfill my dream/goal of living 100% financially independent. I also accepted a job downtown Seattle at an advertising agency, something I always wanted.  Dustin was very supportive even though this was 45 minutes away from where he lived (not counting traffic time).  Struggles during this time included traveling to see one another, work hours, poor communication and lack of quality time with one another.  Again, not an ideal situation but after lots of conversation, hard work and dedication we came out on top and were growing stronger in our ever evolving relationship after college.

Looking back, that all sounds like a piece of cake!  After finding out about my mom's diagnosis, I was sure that might bring turmoil to our relationship.  But it didn't because we had already learned and how to love and communicate during the toughest times.  Along with my mom's sickness, my dad lost his job, Dustin's grandmother continues to suffer from Alzheimer's Disease and my grandfather passed away.  Who would have guessed that our strongest year together would be during a year of sadness and disease.  Even the transition of moving in and living with one another was seamless.

Last week, Morgan shared this article on her blog.  It is beautiful because it defines true love.  I could not help but tear up as I stand confident that Dustin and I have a love this deep.  Even during the lowest of lows and the highest of highs.  Not the type of love that is staged on Pinterest with balloons, banners and picnic baskets.  Not the type that needs to be exaggerated over social media and on extravagant dates.  It is hard to wrap my mind around the things that Dustin and I will face in our future.  It seems we have already been through so much at the young age of 24 and 25.  I love you Dustin and I can't thank you enough for what you have given me these last 6 years through the good and bad.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Breakfast for Dinner

Last night we made breakfast for dinner, drank mimosas and watched The Internship.  If you haven't seen it, go get it!  I think Dustin was laughing the entire time.  Highlight of the night?  When Dustin popped the champagne bottle.  The cork flew across the room with champagne spraying everywhere in the kitchen and family room.  I was also really happy that the cork cracked the new Ikea frame that I recently bought ... not. 

Desserts Dustin bought and kept hidden from me!  He also surprised me with flowers at work and a mani/pedi gift certificate at my favorite West Seattle nail spot, right up the road!  When he told the lady who he was buying it for she looked at him and asked, "she is the small one, right?".  Thanks nail lady!

I am currently enjoying a lazy morning, drinking coffee and paying some bills before heading down to my mom's.  Last time I did this?  It has been a while!

Friday, February 14, 2014


Happy Valentine's Day!  It's been a great excuse to decorate our home in lots of pink, cheesy chalkboard sayings, drink from cute straws and have fresh fresh flowers and I will miss it. 

Dustin and I had our Valentine's Day dinner last night at Salty's on Alki.  It is hard to be disappointed with a dinner view of the Seattle skyline, Great Wheel and the Stadiums.  Our wallets were also a bit happier knowing we avoided the pricey menus that only offer a limited selection.

We started out with a calamari appetizer and ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.  One day I swear we will actually learn the proper way to taste the wine when the waiter pours it for us.

Warm bread kept us full until our dinners arrived!  Seafood stuffed shells for me and the Captain's platter for Captain Dustin.  It was fun to reminence about all of our valentine's dates in the past, some impressive and others not so impressive.  The one that gave us the best laugh was our date at Kim's Teriyaki in Spokane after Dustin spent most of the night studying.   I think Dustin lived at the Engineering building at Gonzaga University.  Oh the things you go through when you start out dating at a young age with zero funds.  Our favorite dates included ones where we cooked a meal for the other and the time I gave Dustin a Monopoly board game that still remains unopened.

We skipped on dessert because we thought going to the ice creamery up the street from us sounded much more fun!  You can't lose with Husky Deli ice cream!  We closed the place down and had to leave once the closing lights started flashing.

Tonight we are planning to watch movies and cook breakfast for dinner.  I am so pumped!  I am also giving him this candy flower vase!