How the power of positivity can (literally) help you climb mountains…

I think I’ve started to lose my mind. I had a good 25 years, made it to my quarter century birthday,  did a few bucket list things, dyed my hair blonde…by any standard, I had a good run – but I’m afraid my voice of reason has left the building. You know that little voice, the one in your head that tells you not to do certain things because they’re dangerous/could cause you bodily harm or physical damage/overall death (i.e. jumping off buildings, setting yourself on fire, etc.)? Yeah, well, I think it’s gone missing. I know for sure it used to be there, but that was before all the half marathons. Before the sky diving. Before the zip lining. Before eating Uni. I haven’t heard from it in a while and I’m getting a little concerned. Especially after this past weekend. The weekend that I VOLUNTARILY participated in a little running event called the Ragnar Relay Race.

Now before I start & for those who do not know me – I am a passionately avid runner. I love everything about it – the silence, the clarity, the pain, the cramps, the runners high…I’m all about it. I embrace, I live for it. So when my friend asked if I wanted to “do Ragnar”, I figured why not? – I had done Reach the Beach, a couple half marathons, a few dozen 5Ks, so of course I can run THIS. People, please please please do not assume that “of course” you can do anything (this course or any course for that matter). What’s happened in the past, was in the past, don’t take it as Bible. This is the perfect example of what not to assume because if this wasn’t a test of stamina, endurance, mental toughness and overall grit… I don’t know what is.

Quick Background: Unlike a typical race/tough mudder/spartan/etc. this is a stop start, 24 hour, multi distance race, up a futher muckin mountain. This is not something you start, bust ass for a couple miles and obstacles & then it’s done. I mean I guess it is, but then you do it again. And again. And if you’re really lucky, AGAIN. It’s like torture for a full day and 1 sleepless night.

Looking back on the past 48 hours, aside from exhausted and sore (current status: immobile. If walking – envision new born baby calf finding out they have legs), I learned a few incredible things about my mind, my body and my friends. I’ve been able to take a step back and realize what truly matters, aside from the every day bullshit and nitty gritty that I’ve become so engrossed in. My intention with this post isn’t to preach or solve anyones problems, I just hope that by sharing, it will resonate with you&help you through whatever obstacle is dominating your life. Take what you want, ignore what you don’t, but I hope you can read with an open mind.


Ragnar<3

6 Radnar Realizations

1. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking

During my 4th leg of the race (6.8 miles total, 4 of while were uphill..after 2 pre dawn runs and one mid day run), I was absolutely gassed. It was something I’d never ever experienced before (literally and mentally), I could actually feel my body failing. I could feel my feet get slower, my legs get heavier. I had almost no control over where my feet went – I would go to step over roots and despite my best efforts…I’d run through them. And by through, I mean I stumbled over a couple hundred of them. It was as if my body wasn’t mine and there was nothing I could do besides let the momentum of the mountain carry me to the finish line. But between the uncoordinated jogging and tripping over everything in my way, I realized something life changing. I actually felt it in my core. It was the notion that no matter what happens, my mind is the only thing I can control. The thoughts flooding my brain are MINE. Positive or negative I am the one putting them there.

On mile 3, I made a CHOICE: To only allow myself to think positive thoughts. I was so close to physically giving up, I’ve run enough to know when my body has just about had it. But here I am, 3 miles up a mountain – I can either pass out and get eaten by a bear OR I can run, run towards water. Run towards bananas. Bananas and peanut butter. Bananas and peanut butter and Quest bars. I can DO this because I am too stubborn to give up. I can do this because my MIND is telling me I can. I read somewhere that you can choose to make yourself miserable or you can choose to lift yourself up, the amount of work is the same – so I ask you the same question, because it’s no one’s choice besides yours.

2. Don’t stress about what lies ahead or behind

Listen – when you start that terrifying new journey (be it a race, new life adventure, new job, new relationship), you have NO IDEA what lies ahead. Is it a complete uphill? Is it all downhill? Is a barracuda waiting to eat me? What am I leaving behind? Why on earth am I leaving my safe space? Do yourself a favor and just stop. Throw all those questions out the window because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. In life, in running, in anything, you just start. You put one foot in front of the other and you begin a journey. There is no point in giving yourself an anxiety attack wondering if it was the right decision or what you will encounter. You will never enjoy it if you’re too busy worrying about what might happen, you can never appreciate the beauty in newness if all you see is unknown. As cliche as it is, enjoy where you are because you will never be here as you are again.

3. Let yourself be exactly where you are

On a similar note, let yourself be where you are. As an athlete (and an incredibly competitive one at that), I was convinced I would run each leg in its entirety. But listen, until you get past that first hill – you nearly kill yourself in the first quarter mile – you never ever know. Don’t get so hung up on what you think you should be doing or who you think you should be that you forget to BE. “Should” should be removed from our vocabulary when talking about ourselves. Imagine if we didn’t worry about “should” and instead immersed ourselves in where we ARE and where we WILL go – not where we should be and should go? How freeing that must feel? In my opinion, “should” should suck it.

BFFs with RBF

4. Sometimes you need someone to tell you that you’re amazing.

Somethings that person is YOU.

Being a part of a team is amazing – whether it’s your family, your friends, your coworkers – it’s incredible. There are times when you just need someone to tell you that you are a kick ass person. You can climb mountains, you can run at 3 in the morning and you can push yourself past your breaking point without actually breaking. Sometimes though, the world is asleep and you’re alone, and MAN that silence can be deafening. What’s important to remember is that sometimes you need to be your own cheerleader. You need to be able to build yourself up when you’re at your lowest point. Guess what? You’re a badass and that’s OK. But you can be scared and that’s OK too. I can’t tell you how many affirmations I told myself in the wee hours of the morning (after a nice 20 minute nap) as I went for my third run in 13 hours. I just kept saying: “You are good enough. You’re more than that in fact. You are running while the world sleeps. You can do this. You’re a freaking animal. You can do this”

…and like I said, sometimes you need that extra push and just as I ran out of affirmations with a half a mile left, I felt my FitBit buzz – I’d reached my step goal for the day…before 6am.

When your eyes are open, there is a support team all around you, no matter where you are, all you have to do is look.

5. Fuel your body

Drink water. Drink a shitload of water. Drink so much you feel like your eyeballs are swimming. Hydrate. Before you run, after you run, while you run. If you never run a day in your life. Drink water. You will be absolutely amazed how much hydrating can change your life. I know it seems simple, but it’s truly astonishing. On a similar note – fuel your body. Running is not a time to calorie count. Shove your face with Quest bars, drink a protein shake, eat real food if you have time to digest. Add carbs. You need it. And when you’re not running – do they same! You’re body is a machine and it needs fuel to run, don’t deprive yourself of too much, but don’t indulge too much either. Life is a balance – find what works for you and WORK IT.

6. Use it to lose it

Listen, it’s TOUGH. Mountains are really freaking difficult (literal and metaphorical) But you know what else is? Life. Everyone is going through something, getting over something, or searching for something. Use this time to figure out where you are and which “something” you’re “something-ing”. It’s going to be hard, but you know what? It started which means it has to stop. It goes up which means it has to go down. It gets harder which means it gets easier. Like the red trail (the hardest run of my life) – eventually it will end. It may be 4 miles of uphill. It may involve stumbles, falls and bruises, but eventually you turn that corner – you can hear people cheering and just like it started – it ends.


In the words of my new favorite book: Carry on Warrior. You’re doing a badass job of being You.


xoxo

D&D&D

Fit to be Thai-d

Hi spring chickens!

As we all start to thaw out, shed the sweaters and look forward to warmer weather…so kicks off the season of dieting, juicing, moving into the gym and cutting cals to try to undo the only meltdown that happened over the winter – the one when no one was looking: Sneaking snacks. Binging on booze. Packing on pounds. And covering it all up with a chunky scarf and/or cardigan. Unfortunately, as the temps heat up and we start to shed the layers, reality hits and we realize that there are some layers we can’t just peel off. Although initially it’s a bit of a reality check, the best thing is the ONLY constant is change – for better or worse it’s your decision. Do you want to frolic around in a bikini and be comfortable in your own skin OR do you want to hide under a coverup because the thought of a suit makes you want to cry? Choice people, choices! And the best part is, you can love how you look and feel by taking HEALTHY POSITIVE steps.

BREAKING NEWS!!! Yes – we all want beach bodies. No – you don’t have to crash diet to get one.

But how to do it? Short story – carb cycle and eat five meals a day. There’s no quick fix, not even Victoria’s Secret models look like Victoria’s Secret models – so don’t strive for something that’s quite literally impossible…Just try to be better than the person you were yesterday and take it day by day! (ok – off my soapbox) Long story – well I guess that was a long story and we don’t have time for the REAL long version.


So I’m here to help because the real questions is: Where on earth did it start? How did we get HERE?! Take a look at your recycling. Your bank account. Your newly downloaded apps like “foodler”. The fact that you’re on a first name basis with the delivery guy. You may (or may not) be surprised that the answer simple… and it’s at the bottom of a styrofoam container. Like many of you know, takeout is a slippery slope: it can turn from your “once a week cheat” meal to “well, it’s monday/tuesday/wednesday/etc. so I deserve it” meal. And it’s a tough habit to break–

To help ease the transition from General Tso’s to kale, I’ve created a dish that is so delish you’ll wonder how it can be “diet” approved.

Tastes like Thai, looks like thai, but will get you fit faster than you can say “OH MY…” since there are almost no carbs, wheat or dairy… I call it:

FIT TO BE THAI-D

So good, I'm tongue Thai-d

So good, I’m tongue Thai-d


Makes 2 servings

Total cooking time: 30 minutes

Why to make it: gluten free, dairy free, low carb, low fat and YUM-azing

fit to be thaid.001


IMG_4860

Grab your grub:

  • 1 medium Spaghetti squash
  • 8 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 of a medium white onion (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 stalk green onion
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 lime

Get Sauced

Get Sauced

Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon PB2
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon gluten free soy sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons sugar
  • Chili powder

 

 


Thai-M to Get Cookin!

  1. Cook the spaghetti squash: First cut the squash in half the long way and scoop out the seeds. Depending on how much time you have, there are 2 ways to cook it, micro or oven.
    • If cooking in the micro fill a microwave safe dish with an inch of water, place 1/2 of the squash cut side down and cook for 15 minutes. (repeat for second half)
    • If cooking in the oven, preheat to 400, fill a baking dish with an inch of water, place both halves cut side down and cook for 45 – 60 mins. I go micro – it’s way faster.
    • Cool and “fork” out the middle creating spaghetti type noodles
  2. While the squash is cooking, lightly coat a frying pan with olive oil or coconut oil
  3. Heat pan over medium heat
  4. Once pan is hot, add chicken – sear on each side for 1 minute, then turn heat down and continue to cook all the way through
  5. Set chicken aside
  6. Crack egg and scramble in the pan. Cook for 1 minute
  7. Add onions, green onions & bean sprouts: mix everything together. Cook until white onions are tender (about 5 minutes)
  8. Add the cilantro, spaghetti squash and sauce (recipe below)
  9. Cook for another 5 minutes until the flavors have a chance to mingle
  10. Add chicken, squeeze some lime over the top, serve & enjoy!

Let’s Get Sauced!

  1. Combine the tomato paste, soy sauce and fish sauce (stir until mixed)
  2. Add sugar, chili powder & PB2
  3. Carefully stir until all ingredients are mixed together (should be red/brown in color and creamy in consistency)

With 1/2 the calories and none of the fat, this super simple meal takes about 30 minutes to make and 30 seconds to eat. A diet with Thai is something everyone should try!

CheersCherubs!

D&D&D

The revolution of the resolution

revolution of resolutions

revolution of resolutions

It’s early in the morning, the sun is just barely peeking through the trees – their bare branches reach outward like hands begging. For what? Snow? Spring? A feathered friend?

A car waits at the red light outside our apartment.

The tile floor is cold on my feet as I scamper to the kitchen. I feel myself being watched. I hear something. Oh my god, what was that?

A menacing growl echoes through the hallways.

The cabinets have been emptied.

Take out containers are overflowing from the recycling.

I turn the corner and see a wildebeest staring at me. Fat from the feast.

Bloated. Gluttonous. Acne ridden…?

Then I realize… it’s me. I stop in my tracks and look at myself in the mirror. The ugly truth judgmentally staring at me. Knowing when the “cheat days” turned into the “cheat weeks”.

And I remember the holidays. The “let’s just order take out”. The booze. The sweets. The treats.


Like so many others before me, January 1st marks the day of resolve – to start over with a fresh outlook on the upcoming year, oh the possibilities! We will make this year the best one yet. Eat more salad. Floss. Read 100 books. Finish knitting that scarf you started in 2007.

But this year is going to be different. I’m not going to promise myself that I will only eat lettuce and water to lose weight. I’m not going to aim for Victoria Secret body status. I’m not going to look for the quick fix.

I’M NOT GOING TO DIET.

I need a change. I need a lifestyle. I need something I can maintain. I need the 24 day challenge. For those of you who don’t know, the 24 day challenge is basically a jumpstart to a healthier you. It teaches you habits & lifestyle – much more maintainable than diets & try-its & juice its (we all know how a juice cleanse goes… usually pretty shitty). It consists of 5 meals a day of healthy carbs, lean proteins, nuts and veggies. In addition to a few supplements, it’s designed to break bad habits and create lasting new ones.


So here we are. Day 1. The cabinets have been cleansed of junk & processed foods. Replaced with brown rice & quinoa. The fridge has been purged of juices, cakes & casseroles. Filled instead with lettuce, squash & ground turkey. We’ve stashed the wine & stocked up on soda water.


For those that want to follow along – I will be documenting our progress. The good, the bad & every craving in between. The journey to a healthier year starts now. The revolution of the resolution is here.


Hope you’ll follow along –  Happy Twenty-Fit-Teen everyone!

D&D&D

 

What I learned from my first Thon…

Marathoning

Let’s set the stage: It’s the end of August. In the past two days the weather has changed from cool and crisp to oppressively humid. It’s only 7 am it’s already breaking 75. All around, a down right miserable day to run 13.1 miles. And a complete nightmare if it’s your first half marathon. Ever.

Enter the jogging gypsy, cardio queen, new shoes wearing, already sweating and not really caring, determined diva of the east: Me. Ready to run. Break records. Smoke the competition. and most importantly… cross the finish line.

Yadda yadda…let’s just cut to a hundred gels packs, water cups and miles later: It’s done. I’ve officially completed my first half marathon. A huge accomplishment and major check off the ol’ bucket list – excuse me while I just pat myself on the back *pat*pat*. At the end of the day, although my time wasn’t what I had hoped for, I did it and it actually felt good! That being said, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine – it was hours of sweat, tears, stretching and prepping – but I learned SO much.


Before this summer, I never imagined that training for a race would be that much different than training for a sports season – I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life participating in competitive sports (specifically lacrosse), so really what’s the difference? A-fricken-lot. I always heard that I was fast, which to me was fast = good runner. Wrong. Well, half wrong. I was a good runner for short periods of time, but had little stamina and endurance for any run over 2 miles. So when I started my training, 4 miles was like a punch in the face. The first run was a rude reality check, this was NOT lacrosse. This was an entirely different type of run. So I researched, talked to fellow jogging junkies and found a program that worked for me and after 3 months of training these are my ten tips for training for a race.


1. Run

Yes. Believe it or not, this is important (go figure!). And believe it or not, I didn’t actually realize this until I started training. I’ve always been able to just go out and run a mile or two – regardless of how long it had been since my last run. However during training, if I skipped my 4 mile run, I felt it. My long runs were slower, my short runs were miserable and I felt like I was running through sludge. As long as I maintained a consistent running schedule, no matter how tired or unmotivated I felt, it made the next run that much easier.

2. Make a schedule

Do yourself a favor: go to Target, buy a calendar, write down your running schedule and cross off EVERY run you do. It helps to stay on track, plan your week/month and most importantly hold you accountable for your training. For my schedule, I would do 3 “short runs” during the week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and a long run on Saturday. This way I had Sunday to recover and Tuesday and Thursday were walk days. For me, my short runs were between 3-5 miles, usually starting low and slow in the week and building to longer runs near the weekend. Track to a race (or a couple spread through your training) to have something to work towards. Completing a couple 5K’s before the big race will help you feel confident and accomplished before tackling the beast.

3. Plan your long runs

Being competitive, I wanted to start with an 8 mile run and in my mind it was like: OK, I can run 5 so therefore…I can run 8. No. Just no. Don’t fall into the trap of justifying your miles – just because you can run 6 miles, doesn’t mean it is basically 10. It means it’s 6. Not 7. Not 6.5. It’s 6. Work your way up slowly because it’s a LOT of wear and tear on your body – building the muscle and stamina to run 13 miles when you’re not used to it is difficult. Accept it, acknowledge it and listen to your body, if it tells you to stop, then stop. If it tells you the run feels good, go with it. It’s 10% physical, 90% mental (at least in my opinion)

4. Be a star before you start

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right. The mental game is as important as the physical preparation, if not more important! I heard somewhere that you can trick and train your subconscious mind into thinking a certain way. If you constantly tell yourself: I love to run, I love how it feels, I love the clarity it brings me – you will actually start to think that way. If you associate good feelings with running, your mind actually WANTS to run and looks forward to running (not just running, but any challenge). If you constantly tell yourself that running is miserable and terrible, your brain will begin to associate negativity with the activity and you won’t enjoy it – heck you won’t even want to do it. Stay positive, it’s your biggest hurdle and your biggest asset.

5. Train with the right equipment 

Do yourself a favor and buy the follow things:

1. Running friendly headphones (I bought yurbuds and they are unbelievable). Find something that won’t fall out 3 minutes into your run and they actually stay in for the WHOLE run. Also, make sure they headphones have “next” and volume control buttons on the wires, it will make your life 10,000X easier

2. An arm band to hold your iPod/iPhone/musical device. Also helpful to buy a “belt” (which is a fancy 2014 way of saying.. a fanny pack for runners) to hold your gels and water bottles

3. Gel packs. Learn to love them, they are a life saver

4. A running watch or app that tracks your mile time

5. Good quality sneakers. More on the next bullet…

6. Find the right sneaks!!

I thought for the LONGEST time that I was a Nike girl forever, Free’s all the way. They were great shoes, don’t get me wrong, but I was buying new shoes every couple months because I was running through the foam soles. And at $100, that’s not a cheap purchase every 60 days! So I got fitted at a specialty store and found my new best friends (insert heart emoji). It was the best money ever spent and an absolute MUST if you want to go for faster, longer, better runs.

7. Stretch

I’m a huge advocate for stretching – whether you work out or not, stretching is key to a happy, healthier life. After I started getting into my longer runs (8, 9, 10 milers), my shins, knees and hips started aching… all the time. The game changer was when I went to the chiropractor, he taught me a bunch of fantastic hip flexor, groin and calf stretches. Stretching was key to my training. Also – try yoga on the down days or off days. It is an awesome way to give your body a break while keeping it moving while working through trouble areas.

8. Make a playlist

As silly as it sounds, find music you like and make a playlist! For the longest time, I would put my iPod on shuffle and just go running. About 15 minutes into my run, I would be pressing the next button like a maniac trying to find something I wanted to listen to. So I signed up for the premium Spotify and made a “running only” playlist (called light it up check it out, has a little bit of everything) – songs I ONLY listened to when I was out training. This is super important because it will keep the music fresh, fun and something to look forward to.

9. Buy clothes you want to run in

I’m not saying you need to do a complete wardrobe overhaul, but buy a few pieces you are excited to wear! I’ve noticed that whenever I go running in something cute, I want to run and run longer. I know it’s stupid, but it’s like an interview. You have to be confident, and how can you be confident if you aren’t wearing a kick ass outfit? Shallow and silly? Absolutely. True? You bet.

10. Have fun and watch your body change!!

Listen, when you get down to it, if it’s not fun and it doesn’t make you happy…stop doing it. Whether it’s running or something else, do what makes you a better you. If you’re not a runner, you’re not a runner, that’s fine! Who has time to be miserable?

If you have become a runner, congratulations and welcome to an awesome community! It unbelievable to watch your body change – whether it’s your stamina, physique or energy level – it’s truly motivating. Trust me, when I started running, I never imagined seeing 13.1miles roll across my running app, but last weekend it happened and it was an incredible feeling. I’ve noticed my body changing, I’m more in shape and I’m happier! I can only hope that training will do the same for you

Have fun – enjoy the journey – and keep at it!

D&D&D

Hummus-t have dish

Good morning little chickpeas! Yesterday I was pointlessly perusing Pinterest searching for hilarious animal gifs motivational quotes and MMMMMazing recipes to test and share with all my fabulous readers. I know I’ve been merely mediocre with with my meal posts lately so I was determined to find “A Must Have Dish” and after hours of messing around hard work, I found it – A truly delicious, add some citrus, wonderful wing-er, weekday meal that is honestly HUMMUS-T have meal dish: Hummus Crusted Chicken.


Hummus-t Have Dish

Hummus-t Have Dish

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time until devouring: 30 minutes


Cooking confession: I was so eager to bake this little bird that I forgot to shoot my usual ingredient image – so apologies, you will just have to imagine what salt, chicken, hummus and lemon look like

What you need:

  • 4lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tub of hummus (I prefer original) – 1/2 to use on the chicken, 1/2 as a dip
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt, pepper and paprika

Let’s get cookin:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°
  2. Pat the chicken dry and salt & pepper each breast
  3. Coat with a layer of hummus (you will use about 1/2 the tub) & place in baking dish
  4. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the chicken
  5. Sprinkle paprika on the entire dish (just a dusting)
  6. Cut the lemon into thin slices and place around the chicken
  7. Cook for 25-30 minutes until the juices run clear
  8. Eat & Enjoy!

Chef note: I made baked sweet potato & green beans (cooked in GF soy sauce) for a side, perfect complement to this savory dish. 


Trust me when I say, that easy and effortless is essential to my life right now – I am in the process of moving in with my boyfriend and it’s absolutely chaotic at work – so anything that I can prep, cook and eat in under 45 minutes, is my new best friend.

All for now my little chicken nuggets – blog with you soon!

D&D&D

Stop. Think. Listen.

Stop.Think.Listen

Stop.Think.Listen

Before I even get into this post, I want to formally say that, although this originally started as a Food, Fitness and Craft blog (or at least that was my intention) I’ve recently felt compelled to write about other topics not associated with my original mission statement. As a young adult and very new addition to the blogging community, I’m still finding my “voice” and lately it’s been dying to talk about happiness, adventure and life challenges.

But hey – the blog is Dine & Dash (&DIY) for when the fit hits the shan… and let me tell you a LOT of “fit” has happened lately:

  1. Homeless hopelessness: My roommate no longer wanted to live in the area I have to in order to commute to work – and a 1 bedroom apartment is lonely, scary and most of all expensive. Of course everyone has to live their own life and do what is best for them in order to be happy, so I fully supported her decision – but that affirmation and acceptance doesn’t make the reality any easier.
  2. Relationship wretchedness: My boyfriend was offered a job in North Carolina (ironically the day before our trip to Outer Banks, NC) and was considering accepting and moving by August 1st. Having just lived through a two yearlong, long distance relationship, the thought of being a plane ride away instead of a 2 hour car ride, was absolutely heartbreaking. In my mind I always assumed things would get easier and now, in just 10 days, things were looking like they were about to get much more difficult.

With my future so heavily dependent on the decisions of others, I was beginning to panic:

How on earth could this all work out? How can I afford to live on my own especially since 1 bedroom apartments were barely cheaper than 2 bedroom apartments? Do I need to move closer to my job – in turn moving me further from my family and friends? Do I need to move home fore a while to save money? Can I see myself in North Carolina? What kinds of opportunities are there for me anyways?

I’ve always been a big believer in “everything happens for a reason”, but honestly, I was beginning to lose faith. So many loose ends and literally just weeks to figure it out, forced to make decisions that would impact my life in huge, gigantic, enormous ways – either financially, physically or emotionally. The best part? We were leaving for our Great American Road Trip…just casually packing up the Corolla, getting ready to vacation and sightsee, while knowingly leaving behind turmoil and uncertainty. Not exactly the reality I wanted to put on pause for a week.Nonetheless, we had purchased concert tickets, booked hotel rooms and compiled a list of must see sites and places to eat.

So we went – travelled the entire northeast coast, saw farms, oceans and mountains. Truly breathtaking views that forced a sense of clarity. I refused to let the stress and irresolution cast a shadow on this once-in-a-lifetime experience, so the whole time I kept telling myself:

Have faith

Everything will work out

Everything will be OK

Over. And over. And over again.

No matter what, everything will turn out how it is supposed to

There is a plan

Everything will be OK

Over. And over. And over again.

I’d like to take a small step back… Remember my last blog post when I said “there’s a change in the air, I can feel it”? Well change was here: full blown, tornado speed winds of change, shaking my foundation, threatening to uproot my home, comfort and security. Not saying I’m some kind of psychic, I’m just saying that when that little voice in your head is speaking to you, you need to listen. When that little voice is screaming, yelling and punching you in face, you need to stop and pay attention. 


Needless to say, we a lot of time to talk about our options – I mean a 7 day trip is a lot of QT…7 days in the CAR is like being conjoined. We talked about everything: he moves to NC, we move to NC, he declines the job, I look for a new job. he moves out first, I move out later. You know, typical relaxing vacation conversation.

I also reached out to my friends and family – seeking advice and comfort, finding solace in my mom, grandparents and family friends. All who kept telling me: project positive. think positive. be positive, and with little options left, that’s what I did. In contrast to a recent post about how to MAKE your own happiness, this post (inspired by a good friend) is about how to THINK your own happiness…in just 3 simple steps: STOP. THINK. LISTEN. What I’ve learned in the past two weeks, a crash course in positivity.


1. Stop

Stop thinking how awful everything is, how terrible the situation is, how helpless you may feel. Put your mind on pause and allow your brain to be BLANK – truly empty of thoughts (both positive and negative). Breathe and relax. Prepare yourself for openness and acceptance. Know that if you take the time to stop, you are able to clearly look at your life and the problems that seem insurmountable. When you actually stop, you finally have time to Think.

2. Think

As mentioned, I kept thinking the phrase “everything will be alright”… almost ad nauseam. In the car, falling asleep, laying on the beach, running, writing, cooking, shopping, driving, getting dressed, hiking. You get it. I kept imagining everything working out, all the kinks straightening themselves out. I pictured pure joy, living in a place where I was truly at peace and happy. I listened to music that made me happy, friends advice that was selfless and sound, I listened to nature. I waited for signs.

3. Listen

Let me tell you, if you look for them – signs that is – they’re everywhere. It’s in the air, the people around you, the late alarm clock, the traffic jam, the surprise call from a friend. It’s like the universe is constantly showing you what to do, but no one takes the time to listen. LISTEN. Once I shut my mind off, began to project positive and clear my mind of all the negative, you would be amazed to know how much my life changed: my boyfriend got a job, not in NC, a plane ride away… but SIX minutes from my apartment. I found a new roommate. I connected with my grandparents. I had a stellar week at work. I reconnected with old friends and made memories with new ones. I listened: to my body, my intuition, my gut, the world, the signs. Just a quick story:

I met up with my mom and one of her lifelong friends one day at the beach (now this was before I knew I had a roommate and wouldn’t be homeless. Before I knew my boyfriend wouldn’t be a plane ride away in NC). They talked about an old friend (let’s call her Jane) who had passed away – what a wonderful, caring phenomenal woman she was, what an inspiration she was. They said she used to walk the beach for hours and collect heart rocks because it meant that someone was looking after you and everything would be alright. They talked. I listened.

My mom and I went for a walk later that day to chat and vent – now I truly owe my mother for everything: she has been my rock, a voice of reason in times of turmoil and a shoulder to cry on when life felt impossible. When she speaks…I’ve learned to listen. She told me “it’ll all be OK, look for the signs”. Sound advice from a brilliant woman. I gave her a nod and mumbled, “ok ok” and hand to god, I look down and see a heart rock. A perfectly shaped heart rock. Who knows if they’re common and I’ve just never even noticed them, but like I said, signs are everywhere you just have to look.

The next day, my boyfriend got a call from the job near my apartment and the day after that he accepted their offer.


I don’t know if things would have happened any differently had I been thinking “this blows, why is this happening. Life sucks. I hate this” the whole time. Who knows, maybe it would have happened exactly the same and everything would have unfolded as described. But even as I’m writing this, reliving the whole terribly enlightening experience, a cool summer breeze blows through my window and I hear “Dirt” playing somewhere in the distance…the theme song of our Great American Road Trip (during the time when all the “fit was hitting the shan”). Another reminder to project positive.

Stop, think and listen, because if you picture the place you want to be…you have no choice but to get there. Whether you believe can or you can’t, you’re right. I’m choosing CAN. I’m choosing positive. Because so far, it’s been a pretty life changing thought.

What about you?

D&D&D

Great american road trip

Happy post 4th of July weekend everyone! Despite the horrible holiday hurricane that postponed every parade, firework show, BBQ, and poolside party, I’m thankful I had a few minutes to patriotically post from the comfort of my couch (and not feel guilty about hunkering down while everyone else is celebrating). I know I haven’t been sharing as many DIY crafts as I had anticipated when I started the blog (I have about 4 projects that are halfway done…), but there’s just been a lot going on – and lately, the majority of my time has been dedicated to planning the Great American Road Trip of 2014.

In my last post, I talked about making your own happiness, appreciating more and letting go of the bullshit. So here I am, 1 week 2 weeks later, and planning (what I believe to be) the best road trip of all time  – with my main squeeze. We decided to take 5 days and travel – just get out and go – to see things we’ve never seen and spend some much need QT together. Where are we going? I’m so glad you asked

Great American Road Trip


NJ Day 1: The beautiful state of NJ to watch one of my all time favorite artists: the Zac Brown Band. Now, I know that country music is an acquired taste – to me, it tastes like chocolate crack: Sweet, savory and addicting. If you don’t love them, part of me can almost understand, but the other half of me questions if you’re even American (I mean Chicken Fried… c’mon that’s a classic). The best part of the whole thing, or at least the most serendipitous part, is that the tour is called “The Great American Road Trip Tour”. I’m just saying, fate is a fantastically wonderful thing.


VA Day 2: The goal is to wake up early and make our way to Philly to get world famous cheesesteaks for breakfast. Nothing says Road Trip like eating beef and dairy before 11 am. From there, we are heading to Virginia Beach, to sun…booze…and break it down on the dance floor. If anyone knows anywhere we need to eat, places we need to stop on our way or bars we need to dance on – please feel free to post a comment (or at any other stage in our trip, seriously all suggestions welcome!)


NC Day 3: We’re going to begin roughing it by driving to OBX (outer banks) to fish, camp, see lighthouses and (as the locals say) “shell” – which is literally glorified beach combing/searching for (you guessed it) seashells that have washed up on shore. As much of a party girl I was in my past life, I can honestly say this the portion of the trip I am most excited for – just being outside, listening to nothing but nature, and having time to BE.


VA Day 4: We continue our camping extravaganza, but this time it’s along the Appalachian Mountains in beautiful Shenandoah. From the pictures it looks unreal, completely picturesque, however the latest weather report predicts rain/hail, so fingers crossed that it bangs a sharp left and misses us completely. I’m not asking for 85 and sunny, although that would be nice, all I want is partly cloudy and humid so we can make some time to tube down the Shenandoah River – tubular.


?? Day 5: This stop is a secret – sorry! But, depending on the experience, I may post about it later.


Day 6: Head home, super sad, but all good things (even the world’s greatest road trip) must come to an end.

That’s it! We will definitely be hitting up some of the restaurants featured on Triple D (AKA Diners, Drive Ins and Dives) and other “must eat/must see” landmarks along the way. To be totally transparent, I haven’t been this excited about something in a long time… it will be a much needed break from reality


So why am I sharing this, why does or would anyone care? That simple answer is: you probably don’t. But I made a promise to myself – stop waiting for my life to begin and start appreciating that it’s already here. It’s only going to be as wonderful as I make it, so take a breath an learn to enjoy

There is change in the air… I can just feel it

D&D&D

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness: D.I.Y, D.I.F.Y.

It’s 2 am and as Katy Perry so famously said… I’m wide awake. Again jolted awake in the dead of the night by some stress induced dream that makes me break out in a cold sweat, startles me out of a deep sleep and forces my mind to run in a million directions…


…What am I doing with my life. Did I choose the right job. Should I move to the west coast. Should I move to the south. Am I in the right relationship. What can I do to save more money. Will I ever pay off my student loans. How can I afford to ever settle down. Do I need to make a change. How do I make a change. But most importantly: HOW CAN I BE HAPPIER?


I hate to use the stereotypically phrase “20-something”, but (for lack of a better term) if any 20-something is reading this, I know you’ve asked the same kind of self-doubting, insecure, anxiety ridden questions sometime in the past 6 months. If you haven’t, please drop whatever you are doing immediately, embark on a career as a life coach and take me on as your first client because honestly, lately, I feel like a hot mess express. Hilarious, true and terrifying. But the scary thing…the truly nerve wrecking thing…is that it’s not even the first questions that panic me… it’s the last one. Happiness.


Webster defines happiness as a state of wellbeing and contentment which sounds overwhelmingly mediocre if you ask me.

Ralph: Oh Beatrice, I love you so much. You’re the woman of my dreams. I cannot believe how lucky I am to have met you. What do you think? How do you feel?

Beatrice: I’m content.

DOA. Do not resuscitate. Absolutely lackluster. Awfully uninspiring. Basically a buzzkill to something so spectacular… or at least something I thought was spectacular.

But honestly, in a world full of selfies, #Throwbackthursdays and 100 days of happy challenges, it makes me wonder: are we too self involved to understand or fully appreciate the meaning of the word…Are we actually happy or narcissistic nobodies?

Not to be emo, but I can’t help but think of an age old question:

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it even make a sound?

And question if it’s morphed into:

If something fantastic happens and nobody sees it on instagram, did it even really matter?

I refuse to accept that Happiness is no longer defined by what happens, but who and how many people see it. Why should our joy be based on how much other people “like” it?

So, I decided to try an experiment – no duck faces, hash tags or filters – just a few self affirmations to cut out the bullshit. 10 small steps to live a life that matters.


1. Appreciate More

Not the big things or the life changing things (although those are important)… but the little things we take for granted: the first cup of coffee after a long night, vanilla soap, your favorite snack, when spring finally turns to summer, the perfect pair of jeans, seeing an episode of Law & Order you’ve never seen before (even though you’ve seen every other one 50,000 times).

2. Learn from what irritates you

Whether it’s people, experiences, projects or work – LEARN. A wise woman once told me, “god will keep putting the same type of struggle in your path until you learn how to handle it.” Deal with it, learn from it and move the F*** on.

3. Feel exactly how you want to feel

Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty or embarrassed about your joy, anger, depression or love. It is what it is and in order to grow you need to experience it. It’s ok to be sad, but it’s equally ok to be HAPPY. Embrace the suck, but welcome the wonderful.

4. Accept when there is nothing you can do

Sometimes you can’t change a damn thing, part of the story is already written – believe it or not, it’s true – but you can always rewrite the ending: sometimes all you need to do is DO. Nothing is set in stone, so if you don’t want to settle, don’t. Grow some balls and make a change.

5. Make decisions. Don’t make apologies

You have to do what is best for you – if you try to make everybody happy, you make nobody happy, and that includes yourself. Just because the path difficult, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be travelled, it just means you’ve got to cut more shit down to get where you need to go.

6. STRETCH. DRINK WATER. BREATHE.

7. Accept that others have their own struggles

Sometimes it’s not you, people have bigger fish to fry and bigger battles to win. Don’t take things personally that shouldn’t be.

8. Be with those who make you a better YOU

Don’t spend time with people who don’t support you, love you and want the best for you. If you think someone doesn’t have your best interest at heart, they probably don’t. Always trust your gut.

9. Know that things are just “things”

What’s most important is what’s left when all the “things” are gone. You are only as strong as your morals, beliefs and people you surround yourself by. Strive to make memories with people that will laugh with you when you’re young and beautiful, but also when you’re 97, turned into a cauliflower head and have to eat dinner through a straw.

10. Allow yourself to just BE

Angry, upset, jealous, quiet, calm, introverted, extroverted, hungry, a couch potato… whatever… just BE. Allowing yourself to do this, will inadvertently force you to appreciate everything around you.


It’s day 1, hour 1, minute 1. I can say for certain not everything is going to change immediately, but I know I’m going to try. Sure, I may have to read this 700,000 times, write a note on my mirror or even set reminders on my phone – but I think it can help.

Happiness: Do It Yourself. Do It For Yourself.

Who’s with me?

D&D&D

Quite a-PEAS-ing…

Hello friendly followers! First of all I want to say, that I am wicked sorry for being out of touch for so long – it’s been a crazy couple of weeks traveling for work, attending graduations, seeing family, going to parties – being a suburbia  socialite is not as easy as the Kardashian’s make it out to be.

So tonight, for the first time in what feels like eons, I can finally sit down, empty my mind and just write – and after a weekend full of turkey burgers, watermelon and wine – I have to say, it’s a welcome mental vacation. Of course with brain de-strain comes new recipe revelations and my latest is quite an appeasing little palate treat- one that will have you saying, “Holy pea shoots and lima beans, that is some lip lickin’ loveliness!”

It’s some good ol’ fashion Pea Soup!

I have to admit, I’ve never actually tried pea soup, so I thought:

If I’m going to give it a shot, it might as well be homemade – from soup to broth – I want it fresh! (that’s how everyone thinks right?)

So here we have it my little pea pods, Homemade Pea Soup (with homemade chicken stock)


The Pea's Pod, The Cat's Meow

The Pea’s Pod, The Cat’s Meow


Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of 16oz frozen peas (YES FROZEN PEAS)
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 1 green onion
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth (I had homemade left over, but you can used canned if you want – Crock Pot Chicken Broth recipe to be posted soon!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon slice (optional)

Combine the peas please!

  1. Put all the ingredients (except the lemon & cheese) into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil
  2. Once it has a reached a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes
  3. Carefully ladle the mixture into a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy
  4. Spoon into a bowl, garnish with cheese and lemon

This made about 2.5 servings (great for dinner and lunch the next day)


Seriously, so stupid simple and a FANTASTIC meal for someone who is currently balling on a budget because the main ingredient is a bag of frozen peas! Enjoy – can’t wait for you to try it and let me know how a-PEA-ling it is to you 😉

Bon-a-PEA-tite!
D&D&D

Cluckin’ Good Chicken Salad

Luttuce be thankful for this clucking good chicken salad

I had a feeling this week was not going to be a stellar Chef Kelsey week, so I preemptively bought a pre-roasted mini chicken. These little nuggets of goodness are one of my favorite “lazy week” purchases for a couple reasons:

1. There is literally no effort involved in making this meal. Just purchase, bring home, serve, eat.

2. There are roughly 1.5 million recipes you can make with the leftovers. Score

3. Once all the meat is gone, you can make delicious homemade broth with the carcass (A foul word, but so fun to say…pun intended)

Unfortunately, I do not have the time, patience or energy to list all the fantastic leftover recipes right now, so I’m just going to tell you the one and only one you need to know (there are actually a ton of leftover revamp recipes I want to share and am totally looking forward to telling you about later). So ladies and gents, broads and bros, flap your wings and stomp your talons for:

Cluckin’ Good Chicken Salad


TIME CHECK:

Total time: 25 minutes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes


get the goods from the hen house

get the goods from the hen house

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayo or Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 cup of chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup cranberries (not shown, these were a last minute add)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt & pepper to taste
  • About 3/4 cup Rice Krispies (enough for a thin layer to cover the top of the dish)
  • 1/4 tablespoon butter for topping

Chicken Mixin'

Chicken Mixin’

 Time to get Cookin Little Chickens!

  • Preheat your oven to 350º
  • Measure it, mix it & throw it in a pan: Follow the above measurements & combine all the ingredients (besides the Rice Krispies and butter) in a small bowl.
  • Lightly grease the inside of a small casserole dish
  • Spoon the mixture into pan and spread evenly
  • Take two handfuls (one at a time) and crush the Rice Krispies over the top of the dish
  • Cut the butter into very small chunks and “sprinkle” over the top of the crumbled Rice Krispies
  • Place in preheated oven for 20minutes until the top is golden brown, remove & let cool
  • You can eat it plain, put it on a bulky roll or make little lettuce wraps
  • Makes about 3-4 servings

Short, sweet and to the point, this super simple meal is a perfectly healthy option for a busy night. So skip the Subway & give this quick and easy recipe a try – don’t be a chicken, try it… I dare you!

Have a good dinner my little chickens!

D&D&D