Sunday, March 30, 2014

Eat: Spinach 'n Orange Salad

On Thursday I decided to head home for the weekend (I know, how spontaneous of this I-even-plan-when-to-brush-my-teeth girl!). It was my Grandma's 84th birthday on Saturday so my whole family, my aunt's family, and my uncle's family were all going to be at my parents for dinner on Saturday night. Friday night was a relaxing night of just me, my parents, and the Sioux hockey game - Parker was out of town coaching another youth hockey tryout. Then Saturday night everyone got together to celebrate Grandma and I really think everyone had a blast.

Along with the steak birthday dinner we also had Grandma's favorite salad, Spinach 'n Orange Salad - I call it Easter Salad because all my memories of it are from Easter brunches growing up. I thought now would be the perfect time to share because it's such a springtime salad - maybe you want to make it for Easter or another Spring or Summer meal. Plus, it's topped with homemade caramelized almonds so maybe you just want to make it for whenever because those babies are delicious!

What you need:
8-10 oz. fresh spinach (or Romaine - we used a bag of 'Spring Mix')
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 large Navel oranges, peeled & cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup celery, sliced
4 green onions, sliced

What you do:
Wash, trim, and dry the spinach - if you used a bag of Romaine or some other type of lettuce this won't be necessary.

Heat sugar in small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar melts - it will look like the brownish liquid below once melted.

Add almonds and heat, stirring constantly until almonds become caramelized. Cool on foil or waxed paper. We spread them out on a cookie sheet.

When cool, chop or break it into bite-size pieces.

If necessary, tear your spinach or lettuce into bite-size pieces. Toss with almonds, oranges, celery, and onions. You can prepare all of this ahead of time and just add the dressing (below) when you're ready to serve!

What you need for the salad dressing:
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Dash of Tobasco sauce

Combine the above ingredients for the salad dressing. When you're ready to serve pour the dressing over the salad and toss to mix thoroughly. Voila!

Let me know if you try it! It's such a refreshing side dish at this time of year. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

a look at my week

one: after getting back from vacation on sunday we are already unpacked and our apartment is back to normal. i honestly wasn't so sure if this was going to happen before april.

two: have you seen Catching Fire? we watched it sunday night when we were boycotting real-life and fully using up our vacation time - so good! soooo good! so now i need to reread all 3 books obviously.

three: my mom came to visit and stay with us 2 nights this week which means this one-bedroom apartment's living room basically turns into one big bed which just looks so funny to me.

four: i am loving this quote lately. i saw it years ago but i just ran across it on pinterest again in the last week or so and i think it is such a great reminder. happiest girls are the prettiest girls.

five: this weekend i'm heading home for my grandma's 84th birthday! wowza. also, this means I only have to work until noon today. boom.

happy last-weekend-of-march! enjoy :)

oh hey, make sure you enter here to win $90 of paypal money!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Some things I learned on vacation {And a $90 Paypal GIVEAWAY}

Well the good news is we are officially unpacked, 2 loads of laundry are done, and we even managed to clean a little bit in the process. Thank goodness my mom came to visit and stay with us 2 nights this week or else we would have kept making excuses why we didn't need to do these things. On a side note, when I say 2 loads of laundry are done I obviously just mean the washing, drying, and folding - the actually "putting away" of the laundry probably won't happen until next Tuesday. I mean, does anybody actually put the clean clothes away right away? Vacation is great but jeesh, it's kind of a lot of work!

Every.single.time we go on vacation I overpack my carry-on. I always am lugging tons of things around the airport because I always pack certain "essentials" in my carry-on in case we were to lose our luggage. And every.single.time our luggage shows up on time and my over packing went to no use. Well guess what? We got to Jamaica - no luggage. It didn't quite make the quick layover and was still back in NC. Sooo guess who had a swimsuit in her carry-on? This girl. Which meant the fact that our luggage didn't show up until 6:30 pm that first evening didn't even matter because I was already soaking up the rays and was probably 3 pina coladas deep at the pool bar. Thank goodness I'm so OCD. Here's what the rest of my carry-on looked like:

For my own future reference and as a tip to you, always include any medications as some of the essentials to bring in your carry-on. I was getting a little nervous those weren't going to show up.

Guess what else I learned on vacation? Do not, and I mean dooooo not, give your husband full access to snap photos whenever he wants. If you do give him full access to your camera, do not be surprised when your memory card is scattered with his awkward selfies, non-photogenic bloopers, pictures of the hotel map or rum tap, and multiple photobombs. That's what happened to me at least:

What more? $90 of free moola! Doesn't get much better than that! Now that makes for one happy Thursday!

Happy Joyful Day // My Life as a Long // A Sorta Fairytale
Marry Mint // Becoming Adorrable // A Hundred Tiny Wishes
Notes from a Newlywed // Sprinkles & Sundresses // Lavender & Light
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

We don't allow ourselves to EMBRACE who we are

Or maybe this is just me? I certainly spend way too much time worrying about what other people think.

Something makes me happy but I don't want to brag about it. 

Something sounds fun but I worry it might make me look bad. 

That blouse is super cute but it's from an expensive store so people might think I have a lot of money. 

I totally want to go out to eat but people might stare if I'm in my yoga pants and uggs. 

Is this just me? If it is, help a sister out and tell me how to keep these thoughts from running through my mind. As I was thinking about writing this post two other posts that I've read recently also came to mind - Erin's and Ashten's.

We don't just embrace who we are. Not only do we worry way too much about what other people think, but I really think that we spend too many moments rationalizing our actions or putting ourselves down. 

For instance, we bought a new car last November (after I hit a deer and rolled my old one in the ditch) and we were able to buy a new Honda. If you do this, people will flat-out ask you if it's brand new and how many miles it had. It made me a little uncomfortable, honestly. So I caught myself answering with yes, but we found a really good deal. Or yes, but if we bought it brand new the interest rate was so much lower. You know what I should have answered with? Yes (big smile). I'm really happy.

Or think about this: how many times has someone given you a compliment on your looks, outfit, or hair and you respond with putting yourself down? I've done it a hundred times. People tell you they love your new dress or boots and you respond by telling them it looked way better on the manican or the boots were actually super cheap. I am guessing that a similar thing has probably happened to you with a new haircut, your purse, makeup, or anything else having to do with your appearance. Someone gives a compliment, which is meant to make us feel good, and it results in us degrading ourselves.

Now I don't know if this is a society-as-a-whole thing, a woman-thing, a 25-year-old-OCD-freak thing, or maybe it's just me - but I definitely think it's there. And I definitely want to be better about it. I don't want to be old and wrinkly someday and wish I'd let myself love my body in those skinny jeans or just had more fun.

If you went out last weekend do not worry about how you drank too much, savor the fun memories.
If you treat yourself to a new car, watch, or pair of shoes don't rationalize, use it every day and enjoy it.

If someone compliments you and you feel good about how you look, let yourself feel beautiful.
Life is way too short to worry about all that other stuff.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


... proving to you that I really did jump in a 25-foot hole to land in a mineral spring! Maybe someday I'll actually post the video but you might get annoyed by my high-pitched, blood-curdling scream. The walls of the hole are rocks with limestone that you can break off and rub into your skin. It was practically a spa treatment - and by practically I mean it was because a Jamaican man did rub limestone into my arms while giving a little mini-massage. In the spirt of full disclosure, I need to tell you that it felt really good.

... listening to my Jamaica playlist, closing my eyes, and day-dreaming about a cold pina colada on the beach. I wonder if the post-vacation blues ever get better? I'm guessing they will, in like July.

... dreaming about the Michael Kors wallet and shoes I saw this weekend at the Mall of America. And that is why I don't allow myself to go into stores like that.

... wanting this girl's hair. Raise your hand if you agree? Ok, so everyone has their hand up right now. If hair envy is bad I don't want to be good. Amanda is not only beautiful but she is real. Her blog has quickly become one of my favorite reads - about anything from her daughter, to real-life emotions, to her funny husband.

... eating pita chips, string cheese, hummus, and carrots. I hope this is healthy because I feel like it should be and it's delicious. It also tastes like such a springtime lunch!

... reading The Happiness Project. I started it on vacation and I'm not that far into it yet but I already highly recommend it.

... loving Cait's quote - "live a life that allows you to do anything you desire". Sometimes we are the ones holding ourselves back more than anything else. Reading her blog inspires me to just have fun in life.

... wondering why it's spring and my phone app says the temperature is below freezing. Holy mackeral, Mother Nature! Let's get your crap figured out.

... thinking about the amount of laundry, cleaning, unpacking, and other boring activities I need to do tonight. Man alive, going on vacation is so much work. It'll feel so good when our place is non-chaotic again, though.

...wanting to buy a new purse. Why does my husband not understand this addiction / hobby of mine? It's been months since I bought a new one.

... reading this blog and loving the dry, sarcastic sense of humor - Tabitha is a girl after my own heart. I always catch myself grinning from ear-to-ear when I read her posts and can totally commiserate with feeling awkward during a photo session involving yourself, your camera, and your tripod!

... reminding myself that I will never be a fashion blogger.

... thinking hockey is way better than basketball. No offense to March Madness or any basketball fans out there, but don't you get bored watching them score so.many.times? Plus, have you ever read a sports article about basketball? They say balls so.many.times. I'm immature.

... remembering why I love blogging so much. I'm not going to lie, the week-long break was nice and relaxing to not sit in front of a computer at all or plan blog posts. But now that I'm back it sure is good to be back. As always thank you to those of you who come here to read a few times a week - it truly means so much to me.

... going back to work. Yes, I just wrote a blog post on my lunch break. I'm that girl. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Now it's time for Detox and Denial

Hey, remember me?! Supposedly I'm the one who blogs over here... And I haven't written a blog post in 10 days - 10 days! I missed it. I missed writing, keeping up with all of you, and reading blogs myself but I sure looooved vacation. No internet; no phones; no driving, working, writing, or even thinking. It was pure bliss.

Jamaica was hot. We could not have asked for better weather. It was sunny, in the 80s, fun, and so relaxing - Parker relates it to standing on the sun! If you want to go somewhere where you'll be guaranteed sunshine and the need to cool off in the water while drinking fruity drinks, Jamaica is for you.

I'm the type of person who thinks that a winter vacation should include a tropical location, bikinis, and a whole lotta doing nothing. I don't feel the need to sight-see, pay money for activities, or really do anything that requires me putting on clothes or getting up from my sun lounger. But we did do a few things and go to a few places that turned out to be awesome. So because a week-long vacation should obviously result in a photo-filled blog post, let's get started shall we? Even if you skip what I write, at least look at the pictures - it was beautiful! :)

On the drive from the Montego Bay airport to Negril the shuttle drove up the hills to give us this amazing view. We then proceeded to stop at a hole-in-the-wall bar for our first Jamaican drink. I was a little worried I'd only have our 10-minute stop to drink my entire Red Stripe beer but I'm so silly - we just bring any form of alcohol with us in the car, obviously. What was I thinking?

I get the beer and Parker gets the fruity Rum Punch - it's how we roll. And yes, that is my PRETTY LITTLE PARTY SHIRT.

Bloody Bay in Negril was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been on.

Parker felt as though he should take 20 pictures of his favorite place, the swim-up pool bar. 

One afternoon we took the catamaran that drove us along the Seven-Mile Beach, dropped us off in the ocean to snorkel, and stop at the cave where they filmed Pirates of the Caribbean 2. This is now also the cave where a crab larger than my hand proceeded to come what seemed like 12 inches away from falling on my head.
I did my hair special for this picture - you like? #sarcasm #stupidwind

One of my favorite parts was getting ready for dinner each night and wearing fun, summer-y clothes like my latest obsession, my mint shorts.

One of Parker's favorite parts was waiting for me to get ready for dinner each night while he made use of the all-inclusive rum on tap in our hotel room.

We went to Rick's Cafe one night to see the famous cliffs where all kinds of people, natives and locals, cliff-jump. After hearing the slapping noise when people landed on the water wrong from the 40-foot jump, I chose not to partake. But it was really fun watching. And that previously that same day all 4 of us jumped 25-feet into a Blue Hole Mineral Spring; but I was a bad blogger and didn't take any pictures there. I promise it did happen and I will eventually get pictures from my brother to prove it.

The "pros" jump from the top. And by top I mean find the Rick's Cafe sign and look up and to the right - that is a man right there, nearly in the tree. He jumped/drove/acrobated 85-feet into the wavy water below. I think he's crazy. Also, Rick's Cafe is supposedly one of the best places to watch the sunset.

On our last day, we took a final walk all along the beach and had lunch at a hut on the beach called The Office of Nature. We picked our lobster from the cage in the ocean and waited while they cooked it. It was the most fresh and most delicious lobster I've ever had. We actually went there twice it was so good.

Fancy dinner for our last night there - Parker, me, Alyssa, and Ward.

It was pure paradise. The worst part about coming back was having to put on pants today and not having a fruity cocktail at 10:00 am. Man, real-life is rough.

If you have e-mailed me, tweeted me, written me a letter, or tried to contact me in any way in the past 10 days I will get back to you soon. Promise. As soon as I get through my stages of detox and denial. At least DWTS has started again.

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