The Hungry, Hungry Healthy Eater

So it has been a while since I dove into writing. For some reason the whole, career shift, mental shift, life shift, really made me just take a step back from everything. I’ve spent the last two months really evaluating my choices over the past several years, my relationships with friends, family, and acquaintances, and just really taking a mental health month. From all of this time-out phase, I have learned so many valuable lessons.

1. Life is short, so DO the things you WANT TO DO.

Before I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter I feel safe in calling myself  a runner. I loved running. I loved the mental check out that happened whenever you set off with no end goal in sight, just an awesome play list and the mindless relaxing task of enjoying the sights around you, totally in control of where you go and how long you are gone. I felt so at pease when I ran.

But then kids happened. And life happened, And baby weight happened. And for about 4 years… nothing could really spark up the EXTRA planning, motivation, and organization involved in scheduling runs around commuting to work, having kids, working around a husband who used to work away sometimes more than he was home, choosing to run over sipping on my favorite glass of wine, and all those other excuses we are really, really good at coming up with, as normal human beings.

But then I worked from home. And plan periods, and lunch breaks became “let’s DO THIS” breaks and, “lets try adding a mile on” breaks. And before you knew it, I was able to run to the end of my road and back in 20 minutes (2 miles… not very far but a HUGE step for me.)

Now, a full 5 weeks into summer and I am up to a solid 6 mile run, and it feels AMAZING to get back into that routine. I signed up for my first 1/2 Marathon to run with a very close friend, and I am SO EXCITED!

So if there is a goal you’ve been “thinking about…” just go for it! Life is short, so ENJOY IT.

2. Holding a Grudge is… NEVER. WORTH. IT.

There is no secret in the fact that this previous school year has been an incredibly difficult one for me. I interviewed for several administrative positions that I wasn’t really ready to take, but it took interviewing and second rounds of interview to really put my priorities in check; and of course those work “feuds” that seem to sneak up on you and just seem to linger on… and on… and on.

Nothing is more stressful than the passive aggressive “disputes” that happen in the work force. We all have them. Whether you work in the school districts, industry, public transportation, or business offices, we all have that “person” or even “people” who apply those passive aggressive stressors on our lives. I avoided faculty rooms like the plague this past year, because when you have a husband who doesn’t have a schedule, works 60 – 80 hour work weeks as a normal routine, those petty complaints about summer break not being long enough, or catty comments about your boss are really hard to sit and swallow.

For some reason, we are hard wired to only hit the “reset” button whenever a crisis hits us. Suddenly those feuds, and petty arguments are nothing more than lost time between friends who lost track of why they became friends in the first place. Guiltily, I too, have struggled with this but managed to repair the ones that mattered before it was too late.

3. Work Stress doesn’t have to come “home” with you.

This clearly has been mentioned in previous posts as I never realized how much stress was added to my life with all the extra unnecessary drama of the work place, faculty rooms, and even the commute. Once my kids could wake up on their own and were no longer pulled from their beds at 5:45 in the morning, life became much more peaceful.

4. Family Comes First

I feel like this could apply in so many different ways during the past two months. Family is Forever; You can’t pick them, but you gotta love them; etc. There are so many cliche’s that go along with family, it’s impossible to even keep track of them all. Over the years, I have gone through several phases of relationships with my siblings; from childhood adoration of those older siblings, to teenage best friends, to heartbreaking distance; the first harsh reality of adulthood when you realize how different you really are; to acceptance of the people you are and the relationships you have together; and then finally to growth, where you discover new ways to appreciate each other and the incredibly different phases of life you may always be in from each other. Each of my siblings including the siblings I have gained through marrying my husband are all a varied levels of complicated, and irreplaceable relationships to me. When one of our siblings is hurting, we hurt with them. When one is celebrating, we celebrate with them.

This summer has also reinforced to my that my family will ALWAYS come first to me. My daughters and my husband’s needs will always fall ahead of everything else in life. These are the people who build me up, and keep my world spinning. Last year we went through a slight health scare which ultimately ended up being nothing, thank goodness, and I’m not sure if it was that scary reality check that really enforced the bond of a husband and wife, or if it’s the complicated and extensive history going back almost 15 years, or if its just that we are lucky enough to have found that true soul mate; regardless, celebrating our 5th year anniversary will most certainly be the highlight of my July.

5. True Friends are Friends Forever.

I have been blessed with a handful of friends who I know will be in my life forever. Some are from childhood, others from my previous job, and still others are friends developed through my husband, and continue to grow and help to shape the mother, and friend I am. I also have a unique blend of long-term friends that I only get the opportunity to see once or twice a year. But those times when we are reunited, we are so busy catching up on each others lives that it’s like the time between visits doesn’t even exist. (One of the major perks to social media…)

I have also spent so much time investing in relationships that were never really there in the first place. These people are the ones who bring you down, use artificial bonds and temporarily fill spaces in your life. My best advice, become incredibly good at determining the difference between the real friends, and the ones who are only temporary.

6. I love Food. This will NEVER. CHANGE.

And finally, the hard hitting lesson from the past few months: I. LOVE. FOOD. I am not a dieter, a health fanatic, or disciplined in any way shape or form. I love to eat, all things delicious and flavorful. I really enjoy carb-loaded foods, sweets, and wine. God I love wine. So when I splurge and attempt a recipe involving roasted vegetables and Salmon… about 2 hours later… I AM STARVING. But I digress…

Today I will share with you the light, and incredibly healthy meal my family and I shared Sunday, including a simple salmon suggestion from a good friend (definitely on the growing friends forever list) along with some hearty roasted vegetables.

IMG_0720

To begin, I must address the darling purple potatoes that have been frequenting the produce isles at Aldi’s all summer long! My girls LOVE PURPLE POTATOES! The roasted vegetables are a simple combination of the tiny potatoes from Aldi’s and broccoli florets tossed in olive oil and seasoned with garlic salt and pepper. They were delicious…!

IMG_0711

I strongly recommend placing your vegetables in the oven about 10 minutes prior to placing the salmon in the oven as well.

To prepare the Salmon:

IMG_0714

The salmon filets also came from Aldi’s and were my first experience with fish filets that still had skin on them. Not an enjoyable task, but I did slice off the outer layer before baking. (Feel free to laugh… I honestly wasn’t sure whether or not to leave it on…? I’m still not really sure!) Brush your salmon with a quality olive oil, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, and lay a few slices of lemon on those bad boys.

IMG_0715

One mistake I made: I am not a lemony person, and I took the additional lemons and squeezed a little over top the Salmon. I do not recommend doing that if you aren’t big into Lemon flavor on your fish. Just the slices laying on top should be more than enough.

Fold up your little cute Salmon foil packet, and place it on to the baking sheet beside the vegetables. Continue roasting and baking for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

IMG_0717

And when you pull the sheet out of the oven, with a whole 25 minutes of your life invested in this dinner, you’ll be super proud when your family is eating healthy and enjoying the flavors…!

Unless they are like me.

And they are starved… 2 hours later.

I want to be healthy and enjoy eating salmon and vegetables… however, I am a RED MEAT AND POTATOES GIRL. I’m also a wine girl. Mainly, a wine girl.

IMG_0720

Happy Healthy Eating! (And then unhealthy snacking a few hours later…!)

Cheers!

  • Whitney

shimmering-twig_small

Advertisements

Product Review | Stella & Dot A Stellar Time

So, many moons and mood swings ago, I used to sell jewelry. It was after my Pampered Chef phase, but before my “let’s go to college YET AGAIN” phase. I started it as a side business to assist in paying for various extra costs for our wedding, and ultimately ended up spending more on the product, supplies, and presentation, than I ever made back. Lesson learned: I do not have the home show/ frugal money sense or personality to work in an atmosphere like that. I loved the social aspect of the business though, with the flexible schedule and opportunity to meet and make connections with ladies all across western Pennsylvania.

Fast forward to 2017, and I’m perusing the Facebook stream of positive vibes, after discovering the “I don’t want to see posts like this” filter button that was so discretely hidden from me for who knows how long, when I happened across a post from a high school classmate. Kayla was that naturally beautiful person, who went from crazy athletic to crazy mature beyond her years, like overnight. She was always about 3 steps ahead of the rest of us in life, and I always admired her sense of focus and drive. She and her husband knew what they wanted out of life, and they went for it, all the while, being fashionably and photogenically picturesque pursuing their version of the “great American dream.” So, I might be getting a little mellow dramatic here, but I just want to paint a picture of how I envision Kayla and her life with her high school sweetheart and two beautiful children.

One of the absolute greatest benefits to Facebook is the ability to find connections with people you may have always known, but never necessarily fell into the same social circles. Or, if you had interconnecting friends in high school, may not have really thought much beyond who you spent your day in and day out with. Back in our high school era cell phones were a new trend and very few had them. Those that did, certainly didn’t use them to connect with friends while in the same building with them. We were much less interconnected in each others lives, but can now use that to our advantage, rediscovering each other and watching all of our children growing up. The ability to find and reconnect with people you’ve always known but may not have taken the time or had the opportunity to develop friendships with these people, is the peak of social media. Finding others who are also in the throws of parenthood, saying goodbye to the “good ole’ days” of a social life, and finding that motherhood bond with others is priceless.

Getting back to Kayla and her beautiful family; while scrolling through my newsfeed, I noticed an announcement she was making about starting a new business. Instantly feeling the nostalgia of taking on a new venture (and having recently dove head first into blogging) I couldn’t help but jump on board and immediately volunteer to host a party. I had no idea what the brand of jewelry was that she was selling, but simply knew, she was excited and starting a new chapter in her life, and I wanted to help and share in that new adventure. So after a few delayed social media messaging sessions, we had a date, a time, and a theme. “Girls Night In” was going to be straight Mimosa’s and Cupcakes. Seriously, does a girl need anything more than cupcakes, mimosas, and jewelry on a Friday night? NO. NO WE DO NOT.

SD_logoLG-banner-logo_full

Prior to the party, Kayla set me up with an online account and continued to promote her line through her classy style and impressive photography skills using her Instagram account, which I strongly recommend each of you find and explore her new adventure. She arrived at my house the day of the event with at least an hour to set up. While she was putting together he beautiful display we were able to catch up about the past few years of life, and while we were able to creep on each other through social media, there were so many aspects of our lives completely missed. It was really intriguing to just pick each other’s brains about life for an hour or two before everyone arrived.

Her displays were so elegant, and the jewelry… WOW, the jewelry was definitely worth every penny. I was totally impressed and admitted almost immediately how this jewelry blew the line I used to sell out of the park. The line is newer to our area, and I believe everyone who was able to stop by was also impressed by the quality of the jewelry. This is not your typical cheap costume jewelry. Kayla was wearing a beautiful necklace she had owned for several years and it looked brand new.

Stella Dot-04

Once closing out the party it was a matter of days before my free and fifty percent off items arrived. The packaging was so classy and professional. I have to admit, I saved the boxes! The care and quality in the packaging was incredibly impressive.

Stella Dot-01Stella Dot-05Stella Dot-06Stella Dot-07

The materials were such high quality and the options were ENDLESS, that I seriously changed my mind about 5 different times trying to figure out what to order. (Kayla will vouch for this…!)

Stella Dot-09

This leather wrap bracelet is definitely my favorite and has just enough gold on it to go with just about any outfit. I wear it daily with two very special bracelets that are near and dear to my heart. (Yes… yes, I do have friendship bracelets with some of my bests, and I never take them off. My husband makes fun of me for this at every opportunity possible.)

The next item up on my list of great bracelet finds is this pretty little white and gold number.

Stella Dot-14Stella Dot-15Stella Dot-17Stella Dot-20

This one paired up really well with the first bracelet I opened, and I do wear them quite often together, but I try to not wear the white as often with the harsh reality of two toddlers running around like maniacs.

The third and final bracelet on my list of Stella and Dot must-haves is this silver and cool minty blue bracelet.

Stella Dot-10Stella Dot-11Stella Dot-12Stella Dot-13

How can you not LOVE a piece of jewelry that says, “hello gorgeous” before you even meet it?!

I love all of these new pieces of jewelry and did a serious re-evaluation of my former jewelry purchases, weaning out the cheaper and slightly over-bedazzled styles of my meal attempt at selling jewelry.

At this point, I feel very safe in saying I will be making several more purchase from Kayla’s Stella and Dot website, which you can access HERE, and strongly recommend having her over for a fabulous girls night in of your own! Isn’t this what we new Moms, experienced Moms, young Moms, older Moms, and soon-to-be Moms do? We collaborate, and we support each other. So trust me when I say, investing in this product will not leave you disappointed.

Cheers!

  • Whitney

shimmering-twig_small

Love in all Forms

Valentines Day. The day to spread some love. The day to show appreciation. The day to share a kind thought, sweet treat, or simply share friendship with others. Valentines Day brings so many critics arguing it’s simply a money maker capitalizing on obligatory traditions of having a relationship, buying chocolates and flowers, going out to dinner, and playing on the consumer’s emotions. I choose to view it in a different way.

The way I view it, Valentine’s Day is an expression of love. And love, as we all know comes in many forms. Love can be the affection between a husband and wife who have developed a life-long commitment to each other, built a family together, and chose to fight through those moments of weakness and struggle, always holding on to the very vows that bound them together in the first place. Love can be that of a mother to her child, the unconditional love that is fierce, and indescribable. Mother’s have the ever-forgiving, thick skin of a strong human who created a human, raised a human, and are just that, human beings. One who learns from her mistakes, who is not perfect, but will always do her best and give her all for her child, regardless of their level of appreciation. There is the love of a sibling. Those who we do not choose, but are chosen for us. The ones who have that familial connection. The saying, “blood is thicker than water” comes to mind every time I think of that sibling love. You don’t have to always like them, but you will always love them is often connected to sibling love.

Then there is the love of a parent to the spouse of their child. This is sometimes a very undervalued relationship. This love is built solely on trust, as those parents are entrusting their son or daughter to be loved by the person they are giving them away to. To love, you must trust, and they have chosen to both love and trust this person with their most precious piece in life, a child. I pray every day that I will have the courage to trust and love the people my daughters choose in the future as my parents and my husbands have done for us.

The next type of love is that of a friend. Friend love is tricky love. It’s the kind that comes in different levels. The first level is a friend who is “friendly.” There is no intimacy, just fellowship, the type that is transferable and applicable to all you are professional with. This level of friendship is not permanent, and is not painful. These are the people who come into your life, you enjoy each others company and eventually exit due to changes in circumstances, changes in jobs, changes in emotional status, etc. These people have a purpose and a value, but it is not a long-term emotional commitment.

The second level of friendship includes the friends who we believe to have a level of intimacy with. Often times, we spend a few years developing these relationships. We think we can trust them, and sometime even share intimate details of our lives with these people, wanting more from them. Many times we have decent relationships with these people But the reality is, we cannot fully trust them, and end up feeling some sort of pain, disappointment or anger towards this relationship at one point or another. These people are good, too good really. A wise old friend once told me about the “Snowman Theory” (patent pending, he would always add.) The largest circle was the group of people who acted like friends. The middle circle was the group of people we think we can trust and rely on. And the smallest circle was the group of people we really could trust. It was his belief you have less than a handful of true friends in your life.

This is not to discourage those friendships and that form of love in the second level of friendship. These people play a valuable role in our lives, they are part of it and we must just learn to appreciate their value and not look for anything more in these people than what they can really offer. Which now leads me to the third and final groups.

The final group of friendship is the true love. These are the people in your life who may have entered in childhood and will always share a special bond with you. These people may go weeks, or even months without seeing you at times, and it doesn’t matter. They know you, they value you, and they understand you. These people are honest with you at all times. They are not artificial, and you never question what they say or do or purposely exclude you from. In many cases, you may not meet these people until later in life. You may also be blessed with these people all throughout your life. These are the people you group text at all times of day, confide your deepest secrets in, seek their wisdom and advice, and send group pictures of your glasses half empty after an incredibly trying day. Yes. These ladies are the friends you love. You know these women will always be in your life, regardless of where life takes you.

In my short 30 years I have felt the love, wrath, and value of all three types. Honestly, in the past year alone I have experienced the most intense versions of each, both good and bad. I have learned so much from each kind and will never forget the “Snowman Theory.”

Recently, you might have noticed an increase in the ever-trending Gal-entine theme. Galentine being the female alternative to having a relationship, feeling the pressures of commitment, and being scrutinized for the possible lack of a love life. If you’ve ever watched the movie, He’s Just Not That In To You the idea of Galentine is one of the major story lines playing through the movie. So today, I choose to celebrate you, my Galentines. My forevers, my lifelongers. You know who you are, whether you entered my life at the age of 8, 25, or 28.

So use today, as a day to celebrate all of the love in your life. It’s there, you just need to remember it comes in so many forms.

Cheers!

  • Whitney