Tag Archives: love

Thriving Thursday: Magic Water

Every morning I wake up and have a warm glass of this Magic Water. It boosts my immune system, detoxifies my digestive tract, balances my alkaline, and starts me on the track towards a hydrated day. It was recommended to me by my naturopath last year and I didn’t bring it into my normal routine until last month.

Ok, ok, I know you’re itching to hear it what it is … LEMON WATER! Believe it or not, lemon water provides all of the following benefits:

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1. Balances your pH. Most modern humans are horribly acidic. They absorb all the toxins in the air and food and it provides the perfect environment for diseases and other problems to grow. An acidic body is ripe breeding ground for inflammation, allergies, arthritis, skin problems, depression, digestive problems, stress, and chronic disease. Although the lemon is acidic, when metabolized by your body, it has an alkaline effect. For more info on the value of an alkaline body, check this site.

2. Detoxifies your digestive tract. Lemon is a natural diurectic meaning it make you pee! More urination clears toxins and unwanted material from your body. Warm water stimulates your digestive muscles and helps the solids flow more freely (if you know what I mean).

3. Detoxifies your blood (and skin). Lemon juice promotes the function of your liver, the organ that cleans your body. In the long run, this means cleaner blood. Happy, clean blood makes it harder for diseases to spread and helps the skin and hair stay healthier and clearer.

4. Boosts your immune system and other intangibles. Lemons are full of Vitamin C (anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, immune system booster), potassium (stimulates brain and nerve function), Vitamin B (energy production, tissue repair, growth, and development) and important minerals that help build strong bones and teeth. STOP. wait. read this paragraph again…

5. Keeps your mouth busy.  Lemon juice is full of pectin fiber and will keep you full for a few hours. This means I can start my day off with lemon water and Grainless Granola and don’t get hungry until about 5 hours later. Pretty incredible. Also, as mentioned above, the lemon juice stimulates your liver. A slow running liver makes for slow metabolism but a quick and healthy liver means move over Beyonce, I’m slimming down!

6. Keeps you off the bad stuff. Throughout the morning many of us need a pick-me-up. When I drink the Magic Water, I no longer need a coffee or even a cup of tea. For those of us drinking coffee (or energy drinks) laden with sugar and dairy, Magic Water can be a great option.

There’s no way you’re not convinced by now, so here’s what you do.

Instructions

  1. Fill an 8oz glass with warm water. I do 1/2 cold water then 1/2 boiling water because the water in Peoria is no good.
  2. Squeeze 1/2 a (real) lemon into the water. Fake lemon can have sulfites.
  3. Stir and drink up!

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You can bring it to work, you can drink it while you’re getting ready, just factor it into your routine!

Sources
My Naturopath – Dr. Kelly Austin of California Natural Health
http://factslist.net/2013/01/why-you-should-drink-lemon-water-in-the-morning/
http://www.livestrong.com/article/215380-drinking-hot-water-lemon-in-the-morning/
http://lajollamom.com/2011/01/drink-warm-lemon-water-in-the-morning/

 

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries. I’ve only had them once or twice in restaurants but I ALWAYS love them. So when I saw this post from Snack Girl, I figured I’d try it. Holy Bajolies these things are good. I did it a tiny bit differently from Snack Girl’s original recipe so here is my version:

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We ate them with Santa Fe style scrambled eggs: eggs, almond milk, red pepper, spinach. Then salsa and avocado on top. YUM.

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Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (yams)
  • coconut oil or grapeseed oil (because it’s high heat)
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Peel sweet potatoes then cut them into thin lengths. The thinner the cuts, the more crispy and delicious the fries.
  3. Lay out the sweet potato in single layers on the baking sheets.
  4. Sprinkle them with oil then with all the spices. Be conservative with the spices.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes then grab some tongs (or burn your fingers) and flip every fry. Continue cooking for 5-10 minutes or until the fries are golden brown.
  6. Enjoy!

Ashley Life Update: It’s snowing here again! The second storm in a week! Since I can work from home most mornings and my workouts are all here too, I’m loving this. I can just sit at our dining table, working and looking at the pretty snow 🙂

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Marvelous Monday: Hot Dogs, Museum, and a Luxury Hotel

Living in a relatively small city immediately after graduation was (and still is) a big shock to me. It’s not because of the different types of people and it’s not even because I’m far from home, it’s the lack of variation! I realized it when I was walking around Chicago this weekend. No one stares at me because I have short hair and am wearing a gorgeous red coat. I know this sounds hyperbolic but I’m totally serious. I’ve found myself toning down my level of “urban” and it wasn’t until this weekend that I fully realized it.

Needless to say, it was wonderfully liberating to be in Chicago again this weekend. I met my best friend in the entire world, Sarah. She flew from North Carolina to meet me and, of course, it was epic. Somehow, when we get together, we manage to find the most incredible deals on some really swanky experiences. So instead of writing it all down, I’ll show you some photos!

*Credit to Sarah for most of the photos. Pick them out by spotting the good ones.*

Day One:

858717_10100863993292329_723608124_o^ This restaurant is called the Pump Room (in the Public Hotel). Before we got here, Sarah found a voucher for a gourmet meal on GiltCity.com. Mixology cocktails, tuna tartare, apple and brie toast,  lobster ravioli, and a caramel corn salted sundae. We ate until midnight and then collapsed in our hotel room.

Day Two:

We obviously had to see The Bean (cloudgate). This is by far my favorite monument in any city that I’ve seen. It is really a gorgeous shape and it brings together every view of the inside of the city. Also, it’s REALLY fun to take pictures with it.

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We both felt like absorbing a little culture (and keeping out of the freezing weather outside) so we checked out the Art Institute. The building was very beautiful and the exhibits were right up our alley (they even had one of Studio Gang Architects).

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Then we ditched the cultural stuff and headed about 15 minutes outside the city to Hot Dougs. This place serves the most unbelievable hot dog I’ve ever seen. We checked out the reviews online and decided on the following: Duck dog with foie gras and truffle aoili, rabbit dog with ricotta cheese and raspberry preserves, 2 normal dogs with all the toppings, and cheese fries.

We had to wait outside in 20°F for ONE HOUR to even get inside this place. It was packed. But once we did order, it was pretty affordable and the dogs were to die for. The only time Sarah and I are ever quiet is when we are hungry and when we are mowing down food like this.

IMG_1022 ^ We even got to meat (haha) Doug himself!

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That night we stayed in and enjoyed our most luxurious hotel room and some deep dish pizza.

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This hotel room needs some further explanation. As I mentioned, Sarah and I find the most amazing bargains. I found this hotel room at Swisshotel (they are usually upwards of $200) for $110 a night on Bookit.com. It was SO worth the effort. This place was so nice that we WANTED to stay in and enjoy it. I took photos of the tiny details so you would understand.

IMG_1030 ^ Bedside table: light switches for the whole room, an alarm clock AND ipod player, and outlets on the lamp. Perfection.

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^ A CLEAN tub and a shower. Also, please note the phone next to the toilet. If you’re wondering, of course I used it.

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^ When the maids came in, they straightened up our shoes and toiletries and the room was sparkling.

IMG_1031^ There was a Keurig coffee maker with free K-cups. And wine glasses and bottle openers. These people knew we were coming.

We spent Sunday chatting and doing some shopping (aka bargain hunting) before Sarah had to fly out. It was MUCH too short of a stay but absolutely wonderful all the same. There’s nothing like the company of your best girlfriend 🙂

DIY Monday: Happy Couch Pillows :)

Happy Monday Ya’ll! I am so happy January is over. That was a tough month for me. It’s always kind of shaky getting back on your feet after the holidays. Combine that with some harsh weather and you get a very sad, cooped up kind of life. But only for January! And now it’s February and spring is a whole month closer!

So this weekend I got Saturday off at the very last minute and I got TWO whole days off in a row. Woohoo! I took complete advantage of it by snuggling in for some terrible TV for pretty much the whole two days. I also decided it was time to break out the new sewing machine I got from my parents for Christmas.

It is unbelievably cool. They’ve invented so much neat stuff since the last time I sewed (about 10 years ago?) So I got the requisite pant and shirt sleeve hemming out of the way. And then I began on our new couch pillows!

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Some old (18″x18″) pillows from Goodwill, simple cotton fabric, and about two hours of machine time and I had these babies! I took a lot of inspiration from Pinterest but I needed to make some that wasn’t too girly (in consideration for the man I share a house with) but was also kinda funky and cute. I love them.

I used this awesome guide for fold over pillows.

TIME: 2 hours sewing time

COST: about $10 each

LEVEL: beginner – pillows are SO easy. The hardest part was sewing in circles for the eyes.

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What do you think?

Happy February! 🙂

Fun Times Friday: Lunch Date and Line Dancing!

Happy Friday everyone! You made it. Since you’re coming up on some blissful rest days, I thought I’d give you a few ideas for a day out. Here in Illinois, it’s bitterly cold; last Saturday we had a heat wave when it got up to 45°F. Mike and I are beginning to get cabin fever couped up inside all day long. So since, it was my date day last Saturday, I got us out and around town as much as possible. All while staying under a budget.

First we picked up lunch from a wonderful little bakery/caterer/deli in Peoria. It’s called the Cracked Pepper and they had pepper grinders everywhere!

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These were my favorites. Isn’t the gold so pretty?

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Then, because the sun was out, we drove down to the Peoria waterfront and ate our lunch on a bench outside. We bundled up so we wouldn’t freeze and it was so wonderful to just sit in the sun. And cheap!

Then, ever the scavengers for cheap activities, we headed to the Caterpillar Visitors Museum to check out all the big machines Mike helps build. He gets in for free and I only cost $7. Sweet! Keep a lookout for student, senior, employee deals in your area to save yourself some dough. You can find out events and discounts in local (free) papers and handouts in newspaper stands.

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I lost track of what all the machines were called… But they’re cool! And Mike helps make them 🙂

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This is the WHEEL of the biggest truck made, ever, in the world. It’s used for mining and the bed of it is 35 feet wide. In the museum, they fit a movie theater in it. So sweet.

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The simulator driver things. I had really wanted to get my operators license until I tried this thing. Mike was awesome. Me, not so good. Lol.

Then that night…drumroll please…we went line dancing! What?? I never really thought about it but, of course, line dancing in the midwest is the real deal. It was about 20 minutes from our house in a real barn called Stone Country Saloon. There was a massive dance floor and tons of locals (none of them wearing plaid oddly enough). It turns out that when I get a couple beers in me, I’m really pretty good at line dancing. I pick up the moves like a champ. By the end, I had people coming up and teaching me the steps. I guess that’s normal in these places but I felt privileged.

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Mike stayed at the bar to watch most of the time but jumped in when he felt he could do it. Isn’t it weird how much more nervous to mess up men are when it comes to dancing? Maybe it’s their lack of hips. I don’t know.

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But I’m in love. I’m going back this weekend. I want to get to know the patrons there. And the awesome saloon owner, Dan. And I WILL get good at line dancing before leaving the midwest.

On top of all this wonderfulness, the cover on a Saturday is $7 (a little steep) but the beers were $3 (makes everything ok).

What are some sweet deals you’ve found in your area? I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Thriving Thursday: Sweet Teryaki Salmon

Confession: I HATE fish. I actually really dislike seafood in general. I’m not one of those picky, “I hate the consistency” people but oysters?? Truly the consistency is like snot. And fish? Any kind of fish is just so salty and YUCK. I’ve disliked it since I was a kid. When my mom made her delicious fish for dinner, I would eat a bowl of cereal.

However, (this is how I know I’m an adult) I LOVED this fish I cooked last night. Everyone always talks about how good fish is for you so I figured I’d give it another try. Teryaki was the closest I could get to make it taste like chicken. Haha. So I adapted a recipe from one of my cookbooks and came up with this. It is SO delicious. Sweet and tangy all at the same time.

Money Saving Tip: Wild-caught salmon can be really expensive ($13 for 2 fillets??) so we ate small portions with lots of veggies to make it last for the next day’s dinner too.

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Sweet Teryaki Salmon (3-4 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 Bragg’s liquid aminos (healthy soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp. stone ground mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. raw honey
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 wild-caught salmon fillets or steaks
  • Whatever you would like for your side (bed?). I used leftover mashed sweet potatoes (from the Sherpherds Pie) and added sautéed red peppers and mushrooms (YUM). It would also be really good with a spinach salad, roasted veggies, and/or quinoa.

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix first 6 ingredients until combined. Set aside 1/4 cup of marinade in fridge for basting.
  2. Combine salmon and marinade in a plastic bag and marinate in fridge for 1 hour.
  3. While it’s marinating, cook your side.
  4. Lay marinated salmon on parchment paper in a deep baking pan.
  5. Broil or grill for 4-5 minutes on each side.
  6. Brush with reserved marinade.
  7. Enjoy!

We’re getting very close to the weekend. I hope you all have happy Thursday’s! 🙂

 

Friendly Friday: Thank You Technology

Once upon a time there was a group of five girlfriends. They were all gnarly and raced bikes together. When they got off the bikes they would sit down for pizza and a beer and laugh for hours and hours. Then these girls graduated from college and spread across the country like lighting bolts, forever changing the points they touched down in. They spread to be teachers in Boston, medical students in North Carolina, nurses in Colorado, bike marketers and women’s activists in California, and holistic health advocates in Illinois.

Every so often, thanks to some sweet technology, they actually get to reunite and laugh together again. Check out Once a Month’s blog to see how easy it is to keep in touch. Reunite with the old and wonderful friends in your life.

Once a Month: Coming Together While Miles Apart

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My friends are amazing. This is going to happen much more often from now on. I love and miss them so incredibly much but they’re all doing so well in life. They brighten my day 🙂

 

Happy Monday: Weird Love

Saturday was a VERY long day of work for me. Let’s just say I was surrounded by screaming kids in a room with lots of echo. For NINE hours. Teachers: how do you do it?? Anyway! It meant that Sunday involved a whole lot of nothing. Mike and I watched both NFL playoff games and some really terrible television (my favorite kind).

We also had some spare time to talk about our relationship. We do that every once in a while. Just dive into what we think we’re doing well or what is missing for one or both of us. Of course we talked about some stuff that has been a work in progress for the last several months. But we also talked about how close we feel to each other having had to adapt to in this foreign environment: small town in Midwestern USA.

Being here has only increased our love and respect for each other and confidence in our relationship. The way we are learning to work through our relationship and personal problems is pretty awesome.

On that note, Mike sent me this the other day and I think it’s wonderful. Maybe you will too!

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I hope that wherever the love comes from in your life, that you’re getting a lot of it today. Happy Monday! 🙂

 

Monday Mayhem: Cyclocross Nationals

Gooooooood Morning! This weekend was Mike’s birthday. We decided to drive three hours up to Madison, Wisconsin to see some friends race and check out the city. What an awesome 48 hours it was.

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Mike’s best friend, Kevin, decided to make the 5 hour trek from Cincinnati, Ohio to surprise Mike and spend the weekend with us. I have never seen Mike genuinely surprised and it was so wonderful. After a few awkward moments of, “What the heck are you doing here??” They were both so happy. The sarcasm and inside jokes started immediately and lasted all weekend. Luckily I know them both well enough that I could be included.

Madison is a really great city. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. Wisconsin University has 42,000 students. In a city of 250,000 residents, they have a huge impact on the fabric of the city. Their downtown is full of hippie dippie restaurants and shops and we all felt right at home 🙂 On top of that, I love the urban design and architecture of Madison and would love to spend some real time there.

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After we woke Mike up with Happy Birthday and cupcakes, we spent all day Saturday watching Cyclocross bike races. They are a combination between road racing and mountain bike racing. Basically racing in parks and on hills and through mud and over obstacles. Unfortunately, Wisconsin in January is very wet and very cold. The mud was about 6″ deep and it was 20°F. Mike, Kevin, and I were SO happy to be spectators instead of racers. We got to watch our friend, Katy race. She’s incredibly strong and came in 6th! Not bad for collegiate nationals!

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We also got to spend some time in the indoor pool and jacuzzi and our hotel. It came in very handy when our hands and feet were completely frozen. Can you imagine how the racers felt??

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Some awesome businesses we visited in Madison: The Great Dane Pub and The Old Fashioned Restaurants (cheese curds with garlic sauce and grass-fed beef burger, YUM)

All in all it was a fantastic weekend. Mike’s birthday was a success. We were all reminded how awesome bike racing is and are starting to get excited about the upcoming road racing season. I also, thankfully, remembered that there is life outside of Peoria and that I have friends! Haha. I’m struggling a bit here but looking forward to being able to plan some of our future over the next couple months.

Happy New Year! Now Lose the Guilt…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Hahaha. Sometimes I extra love my new hair.

So first let me say, I HATE NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS. I think people make them too quickly, without much thought, and then break them just as fast. The idea that everyone needs to make one and then spend tons of money and time accomplishing it is commercial and annoying.

However, if there is something you’ve been trying to improve in your life, the first of the year is a great time to take the first of many baby steps. I know the weight loss thing is pretty popular but I think that goal is too broad. Focus on something small, work it in slowly, and do whatever it takes to make it a regular part of your life. Reading this blog is a good start!

My New Years Baby Step (that’s what I’ll be calling from now on) is: LOSE THE GUILT. People in my family happen to be great at guilt trips. That’s means that not only do I get them frequently, but I give them to myself, AND other people. Guilt is a huge part of what used to make me tick but it also made me constantly anxious. So I’m done with it. If someone wants something from me, they can ask. If I need a favor from someone else, I will ask them instead of being passive aggressive and guilt tripping.

I feel guilty when I eat to much of the wrong food, when I don’t exercise five days a week, when I forget to wish my friend a Happy Birthday, whenever! It’s invading my brain and I’m done with it.

This is going to be a tough one. Changing the way I think is probably the hardest thing I could baby step to but what’s life without a challenge? And this one will be worth it I think.

What will you step towards this month?

ps. Sorry about the lack of posts last week. I decided that my vacation was going to be as little effort as possible. And, for the most part, it was! So thanks for understanding. From now on, when I go on vacation, so does this blog.