26 for 26

April 14, 2014

Last week was my 26th birthday. The big 2-6. I had a very relaxing birthday. I opened my cards/gifts, went to work and then had a fun dinner with husband at HopCat. I have been there a few times, but it was his first time there. I am...obsessed... with their crack fries. If you ever get a chance to go there, order them. They could possibly be the death of me. Last year I put together a list of goals for my 25th birthday. I loved it so much, I decided to do it again! There were a few that I didn't accomplish from last year, but I was happy to see I did accomplish a majority of them! Here are my 26 for 26...

1. Meditate twice a week for 5 minutes (Mondays and Thursdays in the AM)
2. Read a minimum of 6 'fun' books (not textbooks)
3. Run the Big10 10K (Go Hawks!)
4. Run a half marathon
5. Run a full marathon (Detroit Free Press Marathon!)
6. Take a spontaneous weekend vacation, in which we have to get there by flying
7. Pass all my CHFC exams for the year
8. Take a food or nutrition class
9. See a concert that is not a classical concert or a musical. Has to be 'popular' music.
10. Go on a shopping trip of at least $300  
11. Keep up with Facebook birthdays, family birthdays and anniversaries
12. Take more walks with husband
13. Go camping for a whole weekend
14. Go to church more consistently
15. Stay consistent with finances by meeting our monthly budget goals
16. Play more board games and watch less TV
17. Bike through Michigan trails
18. Invest in a desktop computer
19. Go a whole year without dyeing my hair
20. Make more templates and possibly start an Etsy shop
21. Visit a place that was investigated by Ghost Adventures (anyone else obsessed with this show?)
22. Enjoy everyday!
23. Go to an amusement park
24. See an Iowa Hawkeyes game live
25. Think more positively 
26. Lay on a beach and watch the stars

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When We Went On A Cruise

April 13, 2014

Hello world! We got back from a week long cruise exactly a week ago. Last week I just decided to do a whole lot of nothing. Recovering on sleep, eating poorly (because it was my birthday week) and not exercising what-so-ever. And you know what? It was pretty nice! So now this week I get to catch up on some productivity that I have been lacking on. 

We took a week long cruise with husband's family, little ones and all. It was a family vacation his parents have been dreaming of for a few years now. His family is veterans at cruises, and I am a newbie. It was my first time, and I will not deny I was a little skeptical if I'd be a huge cruiser. It was a lot of fun and being on a ship forced me to relax and lay around (what you're supposed to do on vacation). We also got to see some pretty amazing countries. I'm a little antsy to get back to a couple of them. We went to Cayman Islands, Mexico, Belize and Honduras. We did an excursion at each country, which gave us the opportunity to explore a little bit. It's always sad to say good-bye to a good vacation! Enjoy a few photos! :-)

My brother in-laws took the oldest niece and nephew out on wave-runners in the Cayman Islands. 
While the rest of the family did a dolphin excursion, husband and I did a cave hiking excursion in Mexico.
In Belize, we got to explore some of the Mayan Ruins.
Falling in love with Honduras. It reminded us a lot of Costa Rica... I suppose I just love the rainforest!

No vacation would be complete without some beautiful sunset pictures.

The sunrise on our last day out to sea. Miss you already, Caribbean!

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Explore: Chicago on St. Patrick's Day

March 23, 2014

I have always wanted to see the Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick's Day and I'm so glad that I can finally cross that off my bucket list. We spent Saturday in the city starting with the dyeing of the river and ending with green beer and seeing good friends. The dyeing of the river was not as momentous as we thought it was going to be, but still fun to see. It was a bit breezy, but the sun felt really good. After the river there is a big St. Paddy's Day parade, we didn't hang around long enough for that. If you have a chance to ever see the green river, I recommend it! The green usually lasts for a few weeks (I remember seeing it 2 weeks after the event and it was still pretty green)!
Pre-green river, you can see the green off in the distance. Waiting for it to come our way!
 I am not Irish, but I am 'Iowish'. Love sporting my 'Kiss Me, I'm Iowish' shirt on St. Paddy's.
 Until next time Chicago, until next time.
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Recipe: Blueberry Vinaigrette Dressing

March 20, 2014

Every Sunday we meal prep breakfast, lunches and afternoon snacks. For my main course at lunch I usually have a salad with chicken and a fun dressing. I have never been a huge salad person, so I need to make sure I always have a flavorful dressing to pair it with. It's been a lot of fun exploring and creating dressings. The past few weeks I've been in love with this homemade Blueberry Vinaigrette dressing I made. It is SO tasty and perfect for my Spring fever! 

1/2 cup blueberries 
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoon lemon juice

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor. Chill to serve. The recipe yields abouts cup. 

Its a perfect dressing to jump into Spring with! Aside from rejoicing that Spring is officially here (woohoo!) I'm currently making a list of books to read this season. I would love any recommendations! Lately, I have been enjoying non-fiction about people or events, but I do love a good  fiction/novel every now and then. Please feel free to recommend any! Happy first day of Spring, everyone!! 

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Weekly Goals and Apple, Orange, Ginger Juice

March 17, 2014

I had a lot of high hopes for blogging last week, but they all dissipated into a sea of anxiety. Last week was a big week in our household. The hubs had an audition for Masters school in Wind (music) Conducting and I had my first exam towards my Chartered Financial Consultant designation. We had 1 goal last week and that was to do well in our endeavors. And guess what!? We did! Hubs got the email that he was accepted and I got the relief of a pass. We have a lot to celebrate...and it will begin with a slice of white chocolate raspberry cheesecake from The Cheesecake factory this evening. I.Can't.Wait.

My goals this upcoming week:
  • Begin reading Life of Pi (hooray for fun reading!)
  • Meal plan for the week for $40.00 or under
  • Run 3 times this week for at least 2 miles (come on, Spring!)
And because Spring is beginning to make its appearance, I'm going to share one of our favorite juice drinks this season. We have make this almost every couple days now - we're obsessed.

Apple, Orange, Ginger Juice
In a blender add....
1 Red Apple, peeled
1 Orange, peeled
1/2 piece of Ginger, peeled
1/4 cup of ice and 1/4 cup water
2 Stalks of Celery (we added this in the last time we made it..and it was so good!)

Blend together until juiced. You can add more water in it if you need to. Enjoy your refreshing drink!

What are some of your goals this upcoming week? We have been feeling very antsy for Spring - are you starting to feel the spring fever as well?

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The Grand Traverse Pie Company

March 7, 2014

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I have a massive sweet tooth. If there is a cupcakery, bakery, cookie cafe, ice cream shop, you name it, I will find it! One of the perks of Michigan is there is so much fruit! We really had no idea before we moved here from Iowa. And, of course, with fruit...there is pie! We drove by the Grand Traverse Pie Company one of our first weeks in Lansing. You know those local cafes/restaurants you see and mentally note, 'I need to eat there'. That was the Grand Traverse Pie Company. Its bright colored awning was calling our names! We finally went into the cafe two Sundays ago (I can't believe it took us as long as it did to go in) and now, it might be hard to keep us away from it.

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The Grand Traverse Pie Company is a sweet tooth's heaven - pie's galore! When you walk in you are instantly faced with all the beautiful and delicious looking pies. It was a tough choice, but I decided on a slice of the Mission Cherry Crumble, since cherry is my favorite pie flavor. I paired it with some cherry coffee. The environment of the cafe is casual and relaxed; we were even surprised to see they have a fairly extensive lunch menu! The cashier was very friendly and informed us they have a rewards program, the Pie Dough Club, it's free and you get a free slice of pie when you sign up and on your birthday. Looks like I will be eating a lot of pie these next couple months! The best part? They have multiple locations across the entire state of Michigan!
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If you live in Michigan or are passing through, I recommend adding the Grand Traverse Pie Company to your list of things to do/places to see. It is worth the stop (and your stomach will thank you)! 

Now I need to know... what is your favorite flavor of pie?

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Recipe: Beef Stew

March 6, 2014

We love crock pot recipes! Throw the ingredients in and forget about it until you get home - perfect!  This is our Vegetable Beef Stew recipe. It has been the perfect comfort food this long and cold winter and we make enough to last several days. It's also loaded with veggies, with minimal ingredients. We usually prepare all the veggies the night before and store them in a Ziploc bag overnight. That way in the morning we literally just dump everything in the crock pot and get our day started.

1 package of Stewing Beef
Green Beans (we used about 1/2 a pound)
1 Sweet Potato
1 Tomato
2 Carrots, chopped
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/4 cup Onion, chopped
1 32 oz container of Beef Broth
1 small can of Tomato Paste
A dash of Rosemary
A handful of Parsley, chopped
A pinch of salt

Chop all the veggies up and throw into the crock pot. Add stewing beef, beef broth and tomato paste. Stir until well mixed, then add seasonings, stir. Let all the ingredients cook in the crock pot on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Serve and enjoy!

When we make this recipe, we average about 10 servings. When we made this last, we bought all the ingredients from Krogers and our total cost was $11.34 (this will vary depending on where you buy your groceries). We also have a Krogers card which discounted the beef broth by $.89, the stewing beef by $.49 and the tomato paste by $.10.  This meal costs us (with the discounted prices) about $1.13 per serving. It's an all around win! I hope you enjoy! 
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It is official: Detroit Marathon 10.19.14!

March 5, 2014

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The hubs and I have finally decided and registered for a few races. Our line up right now is the B1G 10K in July and the Detroit Marathon in October! It is my first marathon and the hub's second marathon. I'm a mixture of excitement right now, but I know it will turn more into terror when that date approaches. We're still trying to decide on a half marathon. We found the Wine Trail Half Marathon, which is totally my kind of half, running through wine trails with wine rewards at the end. Our hesitation is it's a little pricier than a few others we're looking at. We still have plenty of time to decide, so there is no rush. 

It just feels good to finally get that Marathon registered for... that makes it official!  
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