Friday, February 28, 2014

"I am funny." - said my husband

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post but it makes me happy and warm.

I will no longer stay in any hotel that does not offer a personal Keurig in each room. This breakfast blend is amazeballs right now. Parker's hockey team has their very last tournament this weekend, go wolves! So yesterday was my Friday and yes, it is currently only 6:30 because we have an early game this morning, but it sure beats being at work! 

Also, I'm pretty sure I'm getting sick - or I suppose it could be allergies but I can't possibly understand how there's anything I could be allergic to right now when everything around here is as frozen as The Day After Tomorrow. You know what's not good when you're sick? Sitting in a freezing cold hockey arena. You know what is good? Hot brandy - never tried it but I might ask Parker to stop by Liquor Land on our way to the game.

And today I'm linking up with Lauren, Lisa, and Jessa and had so much fun doing this with Parker yesterday afternoon. I finished the sentences myself and then Parker finished his sentences while we were driving here yesterday. Note to self and anyone who wants to get their husband on their blog: work on the post while you are in the midst of a 3-hour car ride. He is trapped, has nowhere to run, and therefore will be forced to participate :)

 
To find out what to do and to link-up head over to Lauren's blog!

Hers
I am so ready for winter to be over.
I want a house.
I have no doubts I married my soulmate.
I wish I lived closer to my friends and family.
I hate mediocrity. Step it up a notch, people.
I fear that life is going to fly by and before I know it I'll be old, wrinkled, and reminiscing.
I hear train horns from a mile away.
I search for pita chips every time we grocery shop and am rarely successful.
I wonder what I'll be doing 10 years from now.
I regret not staying in touch with certain friends.
I love my family more than anything.
I ache when I run.
I always brush my teeth before bed.
I usually have a glass of wine at the end of the day.
I never stay awake in a car ride. Lights out.
I rarely skip breakfast.
I am not always relaxed. At all.
I lose my headphones and/or phone cord often. But I always find them again.
I'm confused when I try to type, edit, or do anything with html.
I should run more often.

His
I am funny.
I want food. And a baby. And a puppy. And a house. And a mancave.
I have great family and friends.
I wish I lived in my hometown.
I hate complacency and ranch and mayonnaise. Hate 'em.
I fear not making the connection flight when we go to Jamaica.
I hear dead people (Oh wait, that's I see dead people.)
I search for vintage hockey things for my future mancave.
I wonder what it would be like to own my own business.
I regret nothing. 
I love my wife.
I ache in my wrist.
I always put my best foot forward.
I usually eat a lot of food.
I never leave a messy plate. Clean plate club.
I rarely dance. But when I do, I rock it. Cuz I do - I can jig.
I am not always the one to initiate cleaning.
I lose track of things.
I'm confused when people don't like hockey.
I should start training for a marathon.

For the record, I've already sneezed 12 times since writing this post. I now need to stop at the liquor store for brandy and Target for kleenex, cough drops, and aquaphor. Happy weekend and everything else!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What to look for in a sponsorship {in my opinion}

Ideally, I think I would work 9:00-3:00. I'd wake up in the morning at a very non-ungodly hour, get in a workout before heading to work, and then not having to be at work until 9:00 would give me the opportunity to actually shower and possibly even dry my hair before heading in. I'd put in a 6-hour work day and even be willing to not take a break and just eat lunch at my desk if it meant we could make this schedule work. Just a thought. Then I'd come home, sit down around 3:30ish and have an afternoon that probably looks a lot like this:


Okay, maybe not every afternoon would be like that but having an ice cold beer on a sunny afternoon while working on this here bloggity blog is kinda nice. Believe me, I would know. For the next couple of weeks my work hours actually do only go until 3:30 each day so, no not every afternoon will be like this one, but I am looking forward to a little extra time to devote to my blog and myself. 

Let's be honest, most of us work full-time jobs (whether it's something we get paid for or not, i.e. being a mom) and are constantly trying to juggle many-many things, while still making time for a hobby we have come to love: blogging. I want to help my blog grow and I put in a lot of time and thought before spending money on sponsorships, giveaways, etc. Time is precious, people - I know I don't have to tell you twice. So I thought today I would share what I think are the most important aspects to look for when choosing a blog to sponsor. After sponsoring many blogs in the past few months, I have found these "perks" to benefit me the most:

1. Similarity : You should choose to sponsor blogs that you would consider to be similar to yours. For example, obviously I will never sponsor a high-fashion blog or a cooking blog. I would not gain many readers from a blog of that type because they most likely wouldn't enjoy reading about my souffl√© disaster that happened while I was wearing sweatpants. Sponsor blogs that would be in the same genre as yours. For the record, I've never made a souffl√© but supposedly they're not easy...?

2. Guest post : A guest post is the perfect way for the readers of so-and-so's blog to (almost) be forced to read a post written by you. It introduces them to your writing style and the type of blogger you are. Including links back to your blog and some of your most popular posts will hopefully make them want to stick around. Basically, this is your "biggest" form of exposure.

3. Social media mentions : I have talked before about the power of social media. When the bloggers that I am sponsoring tweet about or pin a post of mine I notice a large jump in pageviews. 

4. Facebook group : This was a new experience for me and is also the biggest reason I chose to write this post. In the past 2 months I have sponsored a handful of blogs whose sponsorships included being invited to the Sponsors Facebook Group - I.have.loved it. It's a great way to communicate not only with the writer of the blog you are sponsoring, but also the other bloggers sponsoring that blog. Obviously if you all chose to sponsor the same blog you must have something in common - meaning, they're totally cool too and you should go check out their blogs. Hello, even more new readers and friends! Also, with most of these blogs I have been invited to the Facebook group as soon as I purchase said sponsorship, even if my 30-day sponsorship doesn't start for 2 months! I have found that it has been such a great way to interact and get to know other bloggers and I definitely see it as a huge "perk" of a sponsorship.

Because of sponsoring some great bloggers the past few months and loving the perks that came along with their sponsorship, I have decided to tweak my own sponsor options. They now include much more than feature posts and social media mentions. I want to help my sponsors grow their blogs as much as possible but I also want to get to know you, too! Check out the new sponsor options (here) and use the code NEWFRIENDS30 to get 30% off any ad space until Saturday, March 1st.
Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions or are curious what blogs I have sponsored and would highly recommend! I haven't had any horrible experiences but definitely have found some to be better than others and would love to share with any inquiring minds :)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WHO do you want to be?

It was right around 5:00 this morning and I was laying in bed, savoring the final few minutes before I needed to get up. Parker had already walked out the door to head to the gym and I had already gotten out of my cozy bed to make the coffee. I was hoping to fall back asleep, even if I only had 10 more minutes to do so, but I never did. The coffee maker was gurgling, steaming, and giving off that heavenly aroma of freshly-brewed beans that kept wafting into our bedroom. Meantime, the howling wind outside was fighting to be heard, only making me want to stay in bed even longer.

Running through my mental list of the day's plan and to-dos is normally one of the first things I do every morning. I can't help it. No matter how hard I try to relax and go with the flow, my OCD brain and high-strung attitude takes over. But when I was laying there this morning, I stopped myself from running through the list of what I need to do - today, tomorrow, or the rest of my life. Instead, I changed the question to be who do I want to be - today, tomorrow, or the rest of my life.

I haven't liked the person that I am lately. 

It doesn't matter that I haven't been able to cross "go to the gym" off my to-do list in my planner the past few weeks. The important part is that I haven't been the healthy and active person that I want to be.

It doesn't matter that I haven't made every dinner that I actually plan on cooking at home. The important part is that I haven't been feeling like I'm caring for my husband and being the best wife I can be.

"I'm only human. And I crash and I fall down."

I try so hard to please others, make others proud, and worry about what other people think - a lot of people do. We put so much pressure on ourselves but never actually worry about just ourself and what we need in order to feel happy and fulfilled.

I want to be positive, active, busy but relaxed (not sure if I'll ever manage that one), a healthy eater, and just plain happy. I want to live to be 100 and I want to be happy along the way. So instead of thinking about what I need to do everyday, I'm going to start thinking about who I want to be everyday and go from there. Starting today.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Shotskis and Classy ladies

If you've never done a shot-ski in your life, you need to do one. You are missing out on one of life's greatest, most fun, sticky-chinned moments. If you have done a shot-ski before, I want to be friends with you. Which is why I'm friends with Samantha. That and the fact that if we met at a bar to do a shot-ski together, we'd probably be able to talk for hours because of all the things we have in common. Bottoms up!

Well hello there beautiful readers of Life Style Love. I'm Samantha, not to be confused with the other Samantha that you're used to, but the one who blogs over at It's all in the details. Make sense? Good. If not, let's try this. I'm Samantha and so is she, but we are not one in the same. See? Now that we've got that cleared up, let's move on.

Anyways. Where am I even going with this post? Oh ya. I've recently decided that the other Samantha and I are pretty much the same person (except we're not - I already pointed that out). Wanna know how? Suuuuure ya do!

Without being too obvious, we have the same first name. And what a lovely first name it is. I have my father to thank for my name. My wonderful mother wanted to name me Desiree Michelle. No offense to any of you out there with that name, but come on, Mom. Really? Do I look like a Desiree Michelle? I don't think so.
Pictures of pictures are good first impressions, right?
Speaking of names, not only do Samantha and I have the same first name, but our middle names are pretty darn similar. You know, if you add a few letters to mine or remove a few from hers. But for the most part - samesies. Ree (me) & Marie (her). Point proven. I used to HATE my middle name, but once I got out of middle school and the twelve year-old mindset, I started to love it. It also helps that it's part of my Grandfather's name and also my mom's middle name. They are two extremely important people to me.

We both have a person of the male species living in the same household as us. Mine is my fiance, JC, and hers is her husband, Parker. How perfect would it have been if they had the same name? Thanks a lot, guys.
 

Another reason to add to why we're twins? We basically bought our loves the same Valentine's Card. Ok, not the exact same card, but from the same Etsy Shop - Rowhouse14.
Mine to JC.
source
Samantha's to Parker.
source
I mean they practically say the same thing. Samantha was just a little bit more forward than Samantha. I guess that's what marriage does to you, right? ;)

Speaking of weddings (kind of), we have almost the same wedding date! JC & I are getting married on September 27th, 2014 and Samantha & Parker got married on September 24th, 2010. SO close. Although Samantha was kind enough to only share a few posts about her wedding day, I'll bombard you with every last detail of the planning and probably every last detail of the weekend after it happens. Don't you wanna come read my blog now? I promise to include lots of pretty pictures of centerpieces, bridesmaid gifts (that I actually made!), and even stationery! Soon enough they will all be pictures I actually took or of my actual wedding and not just Pinterest inspiration, but ya gotta start somewhere, right?

Oh looky here. Pictures say it all. Especially about who has a better photographer.
 

I'm not entirely sure where Samantha took her shot ski, but I would venture to guess it was somewhere tropical and fun like Key West. I wasn't in a tropical location, but I promise I also wasn't in a creepy location like it appears. Well maybe so, Coyote Ugly in Nashville - post dancing on the bar. Oops?

Is there any other way to end a guest post than a shot ski? I think not.

I hope I've convinced you that I'm cool enough to be Samantha's twin and also that you'll stop by and say hi every so often. I'll do my best to make you laugh whenever I can and always share any good baking recipes when I make them. Now I've got you, right? Just say yes and we can move on :)

Thanks for having me, Samantha! xoxo, Samantha (gosh this isn't confusing at all)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Why I Do It | GF-FC-BH Link-Up #8

Do you ever ask yourself why you do it? Why do you make yourself go to the gym? Why do you choose a salad over a burger? Why do you run until you think you might actually die?



I've been thinking about this lately. Mostly because it's been a cold, dreary winter and let's be honest, the last thing I want to do when it's like that is go to the gym. I can think of lots of other things I'd rather do than bundle up to get from my car to the YMCA, work out, and bundle up my now-sweaty body to get back to my car; but we still make ourselves do it.

Looking good in a bikini 5 months from now is not a good enough reason for me - mostly because 5 months and sunshine-y weather seems lightyears away. I need more instant gratification and more right-now reasons why I should do that arm workout or get on the stair-stepper. So I've decided that this is why I do it:

1. It keeps my skin looking good.
When I exercise regularly my skin naturally stays healthier. I think it's partly due to sweating out all the bad toxins and partly due to the healthier food choices that result when I do regular exercise. Either way, I have less breakouts and more glowing skin which does wonders for a woman's attitude.

2. It gives me more confidence.
Even if my body has not physically changed in ways that other people can see, feeling the sore arm muscles or tight hamstrings makes me feel so much more toned. Add that feeling to the healthier skin and I feel like a much more beautiful, confident person.

3. Workout clothes are cute and shopping is more fun.
I love clothes, shoes, headbands, socks, or really any other accessory so I love to treat myself to new workout attire. I also love shopping, but shopping and trying on clothes is only fun if I feel good about how I look. Just knowing I've been maintaining healthy habits makes me feel that much better when I'm standing in a fitting room or looking at myself in the mirror.

4. It prevents stomach-aches and headaches and I have more energy.
I am a person who gets stressed out fairly easily, which oftentimes results is just not feeling well in general. 60 minutes at the gym really helps me relieve stress and stop worrying. I notice a huge drop in daily headaches when I exercise each day. Plus, I catch myself walking faster or running up the stairs just from starting my day at the gym.

5. It makes me happier.
That one doesn't need much explanation. I just feel happier.

I think it's good to remind ourselves why we do it, outside of losing weight or looking good, in order to stay motivated. I hope these thoughts can help me this week to reach my goal of getting to the gym every morning.

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Brittany and I have decided that this is going to be our last Get Fit, Feel Confident, Be Healthy Link-Up for now. Personal goals and healthy lifestyle changes are such long-term projects we want to take a break from linking up each week so that we can all come back together later on this spring and share an update how we've been doing (and hopefully be bikini-ready for summer!) :)

Fit + Fab

Will you please join in the fun with us?! Here's what you need to do:

1. Follow us on Bloglovin (Brittany and Sam) or GFC. Leave us a comment letting us know so that we can follow you back!

2. Write your Get Fit, Feel Confident, Be Healthy post on Monday. Link-up at one of our blogs!

3. Grab a button (above) and link back to our blogs in your post.
4. Meet new friends who are on a similar journey as you! One of the best parts of this link-up will be meeting other ladies who are sharing their ideas and stories so make sure you check out the other fit+fab women who are linking up!
Use the hashtag #getfitandfab - tag us on instagram and twitter so we can follow you on your journey!
Instagram: @brittmrasmussen and @samanthamarie_8
Twitter: @brit_rasmussen and @samanthamarie_8

Friday, February 21, 2014

Introducing: His + Hers Link-Up

It is insanely early as I am writing this right now - like before 5-o'clock in the morning early so please excuse any typos, unfinished sentences, lack of creativity, or mistakes in general. I blame it on being half asleep as I write this. Or maybe the 2nd martini from last night hasn't worn off yet. Or maybe it's because I haven't had any coffee yet. Basically, the way I see it, this is extreme dedication to this ol' bloggy-blog right here.

Today's post is quite the treat for you because I have a fun, one-time link-up to tell you about. This is your chance to get your man on the blog - your husband, best friend, brother, dog, fish...we don't care! Parker has made an appearance in this space of mine a few times - he wrote a post here, but if you want to get in a few giggles I would highly suggest you watch his vlog here. I hope you join us {me, Lauren, Jessa, and Lisa} and link-up with us next Friday, February 28th! Here are the deats you need to know:


1. We all link up on the last Friday of the love month (aka: the 28th).

2. Finish the sentences of the following prompts:
I am 
I want 
I have 
I wish 
I hate 
I fear 
I hear 
I search
I wonder 
I regret 
I love 
I ache 
I always 
I usually 
I never 
I rarely 
I am not always 
I lose 
I'm confused when 
I should

So for example:
I am always happy when he is around.
I want a puppy.

3. Then, have your boyfriend, husband, significant other, best friend, whatever, finish those same sentences!

4. Link-up with us and share your sentences and your man's sentences! It will be fun to read about all of you and "your person" in life. We have no free gift or form of bribery to help you convince your guy to participate - you'll have to figure that one out all on your own ;)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

WIAW: My first time!

It's no secret around these parts that we love food in our home. I pick on Parker because in the midst of a completely serious conversation one day about food, weight loss, exercise, etc. he said "I just love food and no one can take that away from me!" The complete honesty on his face when he said these words was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. 

So I figured because of our love for food and my unfortunate obsession with embarrassing myself by photographing almost every meal I eat whether I'm in public or not, I should probably try out this What I Ate Wednesday link-up. Since I didn't really plan ahead I just picked a variety of pictures that I have snapped of my meals over the last week or so. 


1. Coffee. Coffee coffee coffee! This is basically how I start my mornings on the weekends, although I wish there was enough time to start every morning like this - weekdays included!

2. Breakfast cereal. My newest favorite because it's sweet, tangy, and a little salty and keeps me full for hours. Vanilla Yoplait Greek yogurt + 1/3 cup fresh blueberries + 1/4 cup slivered almonds.

3. Qdoba Craft 2 (nachos & soft-shell tacos). I mean, can you blame me?

4. We love breakfast food for basically any meal-time of the day. My current favorite is having avocado with my eggs.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Because they say you should write like you're talking with a friend...

I completely forgot until about 5:47 pm last night that some people didn't have to work yesterday. Why does it seem like realizing that just made my week seem that much longer? Plus, it's days like yesterday when I miss being a teacher for the random days off. Although we normally had Professional Development on days like President's Day so I probably would've been in a classroom learning about bullying or the new online grading system anyway. 

This is what I was doing last year at this time:


The goggles and ski poles make me look like a pro, but really I'm not. I've just got the gear because in my opinion, if I'm going to be making my way down a snow-covered mountain faster than walking-speed on 2 separate snow skis that are not guaranteed to stay next to each other, I might as well look good doing it.

Which reminds me that I need to go shopping before we go to Jamaica in less than 4 weeks, eek! This is the time where I would use a smattering of emojis if I were typing this on my iPhone - sun, margarita, monkey covering his ears, bikini. The monkey has absolutely nothing to do with Jamaica, I just mucho overuse those monkeys.

This also reminds me that I should probably take the next 3 weeks off from work so I can work out Biggest Loser style - all day, every day - until we go.

Speaking of work, I think it might be fun to think about all the things I'd rather do today than go to work:

Work out (see above)
Go to Target
Clean our apartment
Pluck my eyebrows
Write in my planner
Drink coffee and watch Netflix
Work out again
Daydream about our vacation
Read blogs

I promise there is a point to this post today and that is to introduce you to the pretty ladies below. Go stalk them on all forms of social media and check out their blogs. They probably write posts that actually have a point and/or are beneficial to the reader. On a serious note, their blogs have turned into some of my favorites to read. 

I suppose I better get over myself and my unrealistic daydreams and go shower up for that job of mine.

Samantha: Blog // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest



 
 Laura: Blog // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest


Sara: Blog // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest

Monday, February 17, 2014

What's Cooking this Week | GF-FC-BH Link-Up #7

I am such a planner - sometimes it's good and sometimes it's my downfall because I cannot necessarily just go with the flow. Every Sunday, at some point, I sit with my planner open for about 20 minutes. I think about what I want to accomplish this week, generally this includes looking at what I didn't accomplish last week. I take a look at Parker's hockey schedule for the week and we plan out our dinners. I write in my planner when I will work out each day. Taking a look at the week helps me to get a feel for how the week is going to go - I'm not going to lie, I don't love surprises.


Some people might think that it's too much planning (I mean really, is that even possible?) Or people might think you need to just flow and adapt, rather than have your entire week planned out. But it works for me. 

Does everything always go according to plan? Absolutely not, and we adapt. Sometimes we don't want to wake up at 4:30 to work out so we change it up and go after work. Sometimes we eat leftovers instead of grilling because it's 12 below outside. Sometimes I plan on running errands on a Tuesday night but just don't want to. But if I have a "plan", I go to bed on Sunday night relaxed, refreshed, and ready to take on the world the next morning.

So what's cooking this week?
Monday: Soup and Grilled Sandwiches
Tuesday: Shrimp Stir-Fry
Wednesday: Chicken Fajitas
Thursday: Out to eat because my parents are in town!
Friday: Leftovers because Parker has a hockey game

Do you plan out your meals and/or workouts, too? 
Or have you found other strategies that work for you?

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This link-up will happen every Monday, but it is absolutely not necessary that you join in every single week (although we'd love to have you!) Get Fit, Feel Confident, Be Healthy is all about ANYTHING having to do with your journey to a more fit, fabulous, and healthy you in 2014!
This can be:
Your goals
A recaps of how you did the week before
Your new favorite workout songs
A salad you made for dinner that was healthy and delicious
Something you struggled with last week
Ways you've been able to successfully relieve stress
Fit + Fab

Will you please join in the fun with us?! Here's what you need to do:

1. Follow us on Bloglovin (Brittany and Sam) or GFC. Leave us a comment letting us know so that we can follow you back!

2. Write your Get Fit, Feel Confident, Be Healthy post on Monday. Link-up at one of our blogs!

3. Grab a button (above) and link back to our blogs in your post.
4. Meet new friends who are on a similar journey as you! One of the best parts of this link-up will be meeting other ladies who are sharing their ideas and stories so make sure you check out the other fit+fab women who are linking up!
Use the hashtag #getfitandfab - tag us on instagram and twitter so we can follow you on your journey!
Instagram: @brittmrasmussen and @samanthamarie_8
Twitter: @brit_rasmussen and @samanthamarie_8

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Did you know? (Weekend Edition)


Did you know that the more Valentine's Days you spend together, the more low-key they get? We used to do gifts, date night et cetera. This year we enjoyed Friday-morning breakfast with sparkling grape juice, made a stuffed pork roast after Parker's hockey game Friday night, and spent the evening on the couch with Netflix. (Honestly though, it was perfection.)


Did you know that I wore yoga pants all weekend?

Did you know that if you spend the day out of town, watching 12-year olds play hockey, and freezing your tootsies, your husband will reward you with a margarita and chips+salsa?


Did you know that the Missouri River does not actually run through Missouri. Boy did I get a Geography lesson from my husband in the car this weekend. Mind. Blown.

Did you know that planning out your meals and workouts on Sunday for the week will make you more accountable and successful in your healthy routine? Or I guess I read that somewhere, so that's the plan at least.


Did you know that the USA Men's Hockey team beat Russia? Thank the good lord for twitter and live tweets since there was absolutely no satellite radio station on Sirius XM Radio that was broadcasting the game.

Did you know my husband gets extremely ornery when other people know more about what's going on in the hockey world than he does? That made for a really long 3-hour car ride.

Did you know that hotels really aren't so bad if you get a squishy king-size bed and a huge walk-in shower?


He uses that travel pillow everywhere. It's sort of embarassing.

Did you know I was like the freaking Data Police this weekend. The Share-Everything Plan that encompasses my, Parker's, and my brother's phones is about .5 GB from reaching it's limit for our monthly cycle that runs until Tuesday. Talk about living on the edge.

And on that note, I need to stop writing so I can go watch the Jamaican bobsled team. Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it's bobsled time - Cool Runnings!

PS - I am not even the slightest bit embarrassed to know that entire cheer. If you don't know what movie that is from, you should be embarrassed.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Eat: White Chicken Chili

I shared this photo on instagram a few weeks ago and have had quite a few requests for the recipe since then so, because I always deliver, I bring you today's blog post. It's also a great recipe to make on the weekend because it can be a little time-consuming. Although it doesn't require a lot of "hands-on" time, it does take awhile from start to finish. But just from our one time making this recipe we probably got at least 6 meals out of it (for the 2 of us) so it's definitely worth the time. And believe me, we're big eaters so it yields a pretty good-sized batch.

Plus, pre-cooking on the weekend can be kind of fun anyway - if you've got tunes (see below) and wine. Always wine.
Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks on Grooveshark

So click that play arrow, get your jam on, and take on the world.


Ingredients:
1 lb. dried great norther or navy beans, rinsed
6 c. chicken broth
1 tsp. chicken stock base
2 onions, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2, 4-oz. cans diced fire-roasted green chilies
2-3 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 c. cooked, shredded chicken
1 c. sour cream
3 c. shredded monterey jack cheese
salt + pepper, to taste
Optional garnishes: chopped green onions, fresh cilantro leaves, lime wedges, diced tomatoes, chopped Serrano chilies

Cooking Instructions:
1. Rinse beans and combine with the broth and stock base in a large stockpot. 
Simmer, covered, until beans are tender (about 2 hours).
2. Saute onions in oil until golden in color; add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Drain the chilies and add to the onion mixture along with the cumin, oregano, and cayenne. Mix well.
3. Add onion mixture and chicken to the stockpot. Simmer 20-30 minutes until the beans are soft. Salt and pepper to taste. Add sour cream and monterey jack cheese; continue cooking until cheese melts. Serve with optional garnishes.

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Use the "Pin It" button below to save this recipe to your food board on Pinterest! Anyone else feel like all you "pin" is food?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

WHY A DATE NIGHT MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER


Yesterday was one of those days, and I feel like everyone knows the implications of "one of those days" so I don't think there's any reason to elaborate on that. At the end of the day I felt tired, frustrated, and a little sad. All I was thinking about was how we should move to the Virgin Islands where life must be better. At least it'd be warmer and I'd probably always have a daquiri in my hand.
Right when I got home Parker said we're going out to dinner ... on a date ... wherever I wanted to go. 

And man, he was all showered up and freshly shaven so I knew he meant business. 

Is there anything better than a man surprising you with a dinner date night or is that just me? Doesn't take much to please me I guess. I picked my favorite restaurant that has scrum-dilyuptious food and Cosmos that were obviously made in Cosmo Heaven by a Cosmo God. We were able to get a cozy spot at the bar, talked, laughed, paid our bill, and went home - where we both fell asleep on the living room floor while watching the Olympics and sleepily made our way to bed at some point in the middle of the night. Romantic, huh?

It was just what I needed. We had a blast last night, I forgot about the things that were bothering me, I was reminded that I am so lucky to share my life with such a great man, and I feel like a brand new person today with a totally refreshed attitude. Sometimes a spontaneous date night is just what the doctor ordered.

1. Getting dolled up, wearing the stunning boots, and slapping on lipstick does wonders for the soul. It also feels pretty good when someone tells you that you look beautiful.


2. Speaking of your soul: I promise you that no matter what your day was like, when you're on your date and you smile or your man makes you laugh, it automatically makes your heart happy.

3. And if that doesn't work, have a cosmo. Because like I said, cosmos are practically made in heaven and when all else fails they are always a good backup.


4. Driving through snow flurries, hand-in-hand, makes you feel pretty darn lucky. It reminds you of when you were 16 years old, just dating, and couldn't even get through a 10-minute drive without holding hands. 


5. Talking about your dreams helps you forget the day-in and day-out activities. On your date don't talk about work, don't talk about what to make for dinner on the weekend, don't talk about what you need to do tomorrow. Let your body and mind relax and just dream. {My husband is much better at this than I am.}

So maybe it won't make everything better permanently, but it sure helped me a lot.

Now go get your man, make him read this, and tell him he's taking you out. If he has any problems he can take it up with me.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

This is my place


This is my place. This is where I've been going since I was one week old and where I still choose to spend much of my time. We came here as a family; I brought friends here in high school; Parker came here once we started dating. This is where I took my senior pictures and where all of our extended family chooses to get together. This is where my brother will get married next summer. It's where I've had some of my fondest memories.

We ski, wakeboard, lay out in the sun, spend time on the boat, play yard games, grill, go on walks, take our 'showers' in the lake, watch movies, and have margaritas on the deck; but those things are not what makes it my place

It's the sense of calm I feel when we finally turn onto the gravel road - my body relaxes, the wheels in my brain stop turning, and I can finally forget about the to-do list in my planner. It's the belly-laughs when someone takes a huge spill out on the water. It's the conversations had during morning walks or time on the deck. It's the quiet time in the basement, snuggled up with a blanket, watching a movie while the snow comes down outside. It's the go-pro videos that will forever preserve these memories the best we can. 

It's my place.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

10 Tips for Newbie Bloggers

You know how you totally think you rock at doing laundry and then your mom tells you one day that you shouldn't use fabric softener with the moisture-wicking clothing because it ruins the entire moisture-wicking element? You thought you were a laundry rockstar because hello, you're 25 and know how to wash your dirty socks - until she told you this and you realize you've been messing up and ruining your clothes. Whoopsy-daisies.

Think of this blog post like that. I am by no means a professional or even good at this whole blogging thing. But when I first started, I totally would've bought a how-to tutorial because I completely just learned as I went. I've been thinking about this post for a long time because when I finally learned about some of these things (through Google, other blogs, etc.) I was amazed; amazed at how much more difficult I was making it; amazed that people would actually want my pictures that big; amazed that people make money on this hobby. And so on. 

So this is a compilation of some of the things I wish someone would've just taught me in the first place. Take it for what it's worth. And if you have additional tips or questions please share in the comments below!


1. First Impression
When I run across your blog I want to know 2 things: 
  • What's your name? 
  • How can I follow you in every way possible? 
Your name and follow buttons should be at the top of your blog, easy to find, and easy to see. By follow buttons, I mean some sort of link / image / word / etc. that I can click so I can follow you on any form of social media that you use (more on this below). This is not weird or stalker-ish of me. This is just how it is. I also will most likely click on your "About Me" page next so that I can decide if we should be friends find out more about you - so make sure that's easy to find.

2. Social Media
You should use different forms of social media to help you promote your blog and connect with readers and/or other bloggers. The most popular ones: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, although there are many others as well. Share links to your blog posts (see below) across these different forms of social media to promote your post among your followers.

3. Link Shortening
Most bloggers "shorten" the link to their blog post before posting on social media. It's shorter (obviously) thus requiring less characters and tends to be more appealing to the eye. Common shorteners are goo.gl, ow.ly, and bit.ly. Basically on each of those shortening websites you just need to copy and paste the permalink, click shorten, and it gives you a shorter version. 
Side note: How many times can a person use a variation of short in one paragraph? Jeesh...

4. Promoting your Posts [Hootsuite]
I remember thinking: I'll never be able to promote my posts enough! How in the heck am I supposed to be able to tweet 5 times in a day, with my tweets spread out evenly throughout the day from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm?! I have a job, people! And, like, a life! And that is where Hootsuite comes in. Cue Hallelujah Chorus. It's seriously freaking awesome. You can add different social networks to your dashboard, create a Tweet or Facebook post, and tell Hootsuite to post it at 5:37 pm on Saturday, February 15th. I normally write a blog post, head over to Hootsuite, and schedule the times I'll promote the post via social media. Like I said, awesome.

5. Pinterest
Speaking of social media, the use of Pinterest has greatly increased since I started blogging. People are using it to promote their posts, find new ideas, and save favorite ideas. Some people say that you should write one "pin-able" post each week. This might be a recipe, a diy project, tips to...blah blah blah, an outfit, and so on. If you do share something on Pinterest that followers of yours "repin", it will greatly increase your blog pageviews. This post of mine is my most-viewed post because of Pinterest. I would recommend making a board specifically for pins from your blog.

6. Your Photos
Another thing all of us readers want to see - big pictures. They should fit well in the width that is allotted for your blog posts but the bigger the better. Also, it's so much more appealing to the eye if all of your pictures are the same width. I try really hard to do this but sometimes it's darn near impossible to get a vertical picture to be the same width as a horizontal picture. That part is up to your discretion but it's something to keep in mind. Also, PicMonkey is a great online tool for editing, creating collages, cropping, and resizing photos.

7. Choosing to Sponsor
Once you're ready, sponsoring other blogs is the best way to grow your blog - get your blog out there for more people to see. I don't like to spend money and can be pretty cheap so I wanted to think long and hard about which blog my money was going towards before clicking Pay on that Paypal invoice. Being new though, I didn't really know what to look for out of a sponsorship. Based on my experience sponsoring other blogs, these are the things that I look for in a sponsorship before clicking Pay:
  • Testimonials: I always read what other bloggers have to say about their experience sponsoring this prospective blog. When I sponsor somebody, I want to feel like I am more than just a transaction over the internet. I want them to want to get to know me, read my blog, and work to form some sort of a relationship. Testimonials can really help you decide if that blog is something you want to be a part of. {In turn, I also work very hard to do this with my sponsors.}
  • Social media mentions: This.is.huge. Guest Posts and Feature Posts are great so new people are almost forced to be introduced to you. Your button hanging out on a sidebar or at the bottom of a post for 30 days certainly doesn't hurt either. I know that I have gained readers from both of these sponsorship components in the past. But if the blogger you sponsor tweets about you to their 847 followers, pins your post to be seen by their 1,328 followers, or mentions you on Facebook or Instagram to their much-higher-number-than-yours followers, this does wonders.

8. Be a good (Blog) Friend
I am horrible because I read tons of posts and don't comment or don't share them. Partly because I'm sometimes reading on my phone and it's not always easy to do one of the above, but I'm not going to make excuses. Commenting on posts, sharing them on twitter, or tweeting at the blogger are a few of the only ways that blogger will even know that you've been reading their blog. It also is what forms relationships / connections / friends in this blog world. I'm trying to get bet about this and have found a few things that help:
  • If you run across their post via their tweet and read the post on your phone, don't worry about trying to do the whole comment form on your iPhone (which tends to be time-consuming, extremely frustrating, and normally doesn't work anyway, thus making you want to throw your phone across the room). Just respond to their tweet via twitter. Something like: "@________, yum that looks so good! Reading on my phone so couldn't comment but I'll definitely try that out!" Do not use this sample tweet if it was a post about their husband, children, painting projects, or unrelated to a recipe.
  • Buffer is awwweeeeesoooommmme. Cue Hallelujah Chorus for the second time. Basically, you can add a Buffer button to your toolbar that allows you to share (via social media) a link to the blog or blog post that you have open in that window. I use it mostly for Twitter, but you can connect multiple social media accounts. The other perk? It automatically shortens your link (see an example here). 

9. Ask for Help
First of all, I Google everything. Every single question I have I type into my Google toolbar, click search, and 97.4% of the time it leads me somewhere that helps me. I completely made up that statistic but I bet it's pretty darn close. Secondly, e-mail somebody if you have a question - a friend, a fellow blogger, or a blogger that you've maybe never talked to before. I can think of a handful of bloggers off the top of my head that have answered a question, made me a button, or helped me with html for free.

10. Be You
It's easy to say but not always so easy to do. Don't worry about the fact that someone else posts much more often than you; or that someone else has totally fashionable outfit posts that make you feel like a slob; or that someone makes such delicious meals for their family that make your spaghetti seem lame. Write for you, about things you care about, and let yourself shine through in your writing. That's what we want to feel when we read.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Loving my Workout Playlist | GF-FC-BH Link-Up #6

A cosmo is basically health-in-a-fun-cup because they're low-cal.

You know what makes Mondays better? Besides the obvious getting dumped on with snow so every single person in the city is stuck at home and can't go anywhere, thus work being cancelled...? Music makes Mondays better. And today, my friends, is your lucky day because in honor of our Get Fit, Feel Confident, Be Healthy Link-Up I'm going to share my current workout playlist. If you've ever wondered what makes me get out of bed at 4:38 in the morning to go bust my butt at the gym, this playlist is it. Well, that and the dream that hopefully someday I'll look like this. [Yeah, probably not gonna happen. Only because I'd never dye my hair blonde.] #agirlcandream

Wow, anyway, about that playlist. Here it is:


My favorite parts about my playlist?
  1. I get to hear my iPod shuffle tell me I'm listening to "Run your butt off" in it's annoying computery voice. So there's that.
  2. It's such a great mix. Keith Urban makes you want to look sexy. Wilson Phillips makes you feel like you can take on the world. And Ke$ha reminds you of all the things you do have going for you that lots of other young women don't.
  3. I put in some sort of alphabetical order - in this case it's Z-A instead of A-Z. That way when I get my heart set on listening to a certain song I can find it fairly easily. This isn't easy if there's no order to my playlist since I workout with my iPod shuffle which doesn't have a screen.
So there you have it. I'm not promising it's going to make you happy at 5:00 am or even get you out of bed, but it might help!

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This link-up will happen every Monday, but it is absolutely not necessary that you join in every single week (although we'd love to have you!) Get Fit, Feel Confident, Be Healthy is all about ANYTHING having to do with your journey to a more fit, fabulous, and healthy you in 2014!

This can be:
Your goals
A recap of how you did the week before
Your new favorite workout songs
A salad you made for dinner that was healthy and delicious
Something you struggled with last week
Ways you've been able to successfully relieve stress
Fit + Fab

Will you please join in the fun with us?! Here's what you need to do:

1. Follow us on Bloglovin (Brittany and Sam) or GFC. Leave us a comment letting us know so that we can follow you back!

2. Write your Get Fit, Feel Confident, Be Healthy post on Monday. Link-up at one of our blogs!

3. Grab a button (above) and link back to our blogs in your post.
4. Meet new friends who are on a similar journey as you! One of the best parts of this link-up will be meeting other ladies who are sharing their ideas and stories so make sure you check out the other fit+fab women who are linking up!
Use the hashtag #getfitandfab - tag us on instagram and twitter so we can follow you on your journey!
Instagram: @brittmrasmussen and @samanthamarie_8
Twitter: @brit_rasmussen and @samanthamarie_8

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mom

Happy Birthday...

...to the only person I trust to do my eye makeup and pluck my eyebrows.

 ...to the first person I call when I'm excited, sad, nervous, unsure, or just want to talk.

...to my favorite person to shop with, martini lunch included.

...to the amazing woman who was at every hockey game, dance show, or chicka-chicka-boom-boom performance for my brother and I.

...to the most selfless, compassionate, generous, hard-working woman I know.

...to my best friend.

Happy birthday, mom! I hope I can someday be as good a mom as you. Thank you for teaching us what life is all about. I love you more than you'll ever know.

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