Well, I took a looong break from blogging.
2015 was a busy, busy year!
So busy that I lost my domain name and can unfortunately never get it recovered because it was sold in an auction. Like, what?!
Anyway, this free domain will work for me for now!
I’m just happy I didn’t lose all of my posts and I can still post new blogs for you to read!
I may write a few posts about our last few travels while living in the UK but we are now living back in Seattle and missing the travel life terribly so! It is nice to have this break being home for now, though. Our itch to travel and be mixed among other cultures is already ready to be scratched and we have only been back for 3-4 months!
But, other priorities win at the moment: we are starting a family! Due in April, we have a little boy on the way. It is exciting, overwhelming and still hard to imagine even though he gives me gentle reminder kicks his appearance will be soon every single day.
So, my future posts will be all about being new parents and our Baby Boy!! (No, he has not been named yet).
I am looking forward to writing for all of my readers again!
Prague, Czech Republic – 21-25 Feb 2015 – 4 nights/5 days
To see all of the photos (unedited) check out my FLICKR page!
Prague is an amazing city full of beauty and culture and delicious food! We chose Prague because we had A LOT of friends tell us that it was their favorite European city and with so many rave reviews we had to see it for ourselves!
PRAGUE DAY 1
Our journey started out early in London to get to Gatwick airport for the less than 2 hour flight and by the time we landed we were ready for a nice meal. After we checked into our airbnb.com apartment we followed our senses that lead us to this amazing restaurant tucked away in an alley corner.
Restaurace V Cípu on Michalská street. Little did we know that this would not be our only visit to this little gem of a restaurant.
In America they’re called Chips, in England they’re called Crisps and, apparently, in the Prague they’re called Petals!
As far as food goes, we had no idea what to expect but we soon learned that most traditional meals consist of meat, potatoes and cabbage. The beers were great! We mostly drank Staropramen and Pilsner Urquell – go with the Staropramen over the pilsner if you have the choice.
Our first meal in Prague (I’ll warn you now – all food pictures were taken after a few bites had been had… I kept forgetting to take them!): First of all, potato dumplings: OH MY WORD! I am going to make a batch of these for myself at home. This just might be my new favorite side dish and I think I’m going to start making them for Thanksgiving & Christmas dinners as well. I’m also going to attempt a sweet potato version. All I wanted to do was eat all of the potato dumplings left in Prague and I’d be a happy (fat) lady!
The Chicken Florida was a chicken steak (fillet) with melted cheese on top with pineapple and peaches and the gravy… ooooh the gravy… that was the cherry on top. TJ enjoyed a nice half of a duck with bread dumplings (different than potato dumplings). The bread dumplings are softer and lighter than the potato kind but the potato has a better flavor.
After we fueled up we headed out on the town to see what we could see! We knew there was a famous bridge with a view of a cathedral on the hill so we thought we’d head toward the water to take a look.
Journey to Charles Bridge
We found it! Charles Bridge + Cathedral View
Above is the Old Town Bridge Tower that connects one side of the bridge. You can go up to the top.. so we did! View from the top:
Walking across the bridge is an event in itself! First you have to navigate through the tourists and while doing so you see loads of what I call “scam markets” that I’ve seen all over Europe, including in London. They’re just little stands set up by a local person selling way over-priced tourist souvenirs. Watch out for these… you can likely buy the exact same thing in the city somewhere for a more reasonable price.
The bridge is famous for a few reasons. #1: The Statues#2: Apparently this bridge started being built back in the 1300’s (whoa, old!) and #3: There was a vicious battle against the Swedes back in the 1600’s and a lot of people died there were also some executions that took place and the Old Town Bridge Tower served as a place where the Swedes displayed some of the severed heads of the Czech victims… (yuck).
We made it to the other side!
Now that we made it to the other side of River Vltava (don’t ask me how to pronounce it!) we made our way up the hill to see the view from the St. Vitus Cathedral. It was a surprising hike up to the top of the hill, more steep than I imagined!
We finished the night with a celebration of the Chinese New Year!
It hadn’t even occurred to us that there would be some sort of celebration but we found it in Old Town Square. Dinner was a some delicious (non-greasy) chinese chicken and chow mein and a little traditional chinese dance show!
Sorry no video last week or this week! I have pre-recorded a few episodes but trying to find the time to edit this month has proven to be tough! The gym has been so busy and this month has felt like it has been going on for a really, really long time even with staying busy. I really wanted to make today’s post a vlog but I knew I wouldn’t have time to put it together so here it is in written form!
1) The Chalene Show by Chalene Johnson
I started following Chalene Johnson a few years ago. I think I found her first on Instagram and was immediately hooked by her fitness videos and the fact that she is who I want to be when I grow up! She is an excellent role model in the health and fitness and industry. I soon started following her on Facebook and she was always posting about her podcast but I had never been one to be a fan of podcasts but I soon learned that’s because I’ve been hearing all of the wrong shows! One day, only a couple of months ago, while walking to work I realized there was no music I wanted to listen to and Chalene’s show came to mind! I powered up my podcast app for the very first time and randomly selected one of her episodes. I think I’ve listened to nearly every episode since and I am always excited when I new one shows up!
Chalene’s show is primarily health and fitness related and she interviews people from all across the industry but it is not limited to this area. She is a mother, a wife, an entrepreneur and she covers all of these topics on her show. One of her episodes she interviewed a man by the name of Michael Hyatt and this brings me to my second favorite podcast.
Show recommendation: (Dec 23, 2014) Top 5 Millionaire Mantras
2) This is Your Life by Michael Hyatt
This podcast has REALLY helped me as a beginner entrepreneur and I believe even people who have been running their own business for many years can still learn and Michael Hyatt is my recommendation. His podcast covers topics such as leadership, goal setting, blogging & other social media, building relationships with both in business and in personal life. He is a Christian man and relates his life back to his own faith, he has a family that he talks about frequently and he really knows his stuff! Even if you don’t consider yourself an entrepreneur or business person take a listen, anyway!
Show recommendation: Episode 9 (Sept 3, 2014) Slay Your Dragons Before Breakfast So They Don’t Eat Your Lunch
3) Inside Creative Writing by Brad Reed
For all the writers out there go and listen to Brad’s creative writing podcast! I’ve learned so much from this guy. I’ve listened to every one of them. Unfortunately, it appears he may have stopped producing the show last summer with Episode 14 being the last one but don’t let that stop you from checking it out especially if you’re keen on completing a novel and just need some tips and tricks from an expert.
Show recommendation: Episode 11 (Jun 3, 2013) To Adverb or Not to Adverb?
4) Elevation Church with Pastor Steven Furtick
I love listening to this man PREACH! Based out of Charlotte, North Carolina Steven Furtick delivers engaging, funny and moving sermons. The best part about this podcast is that it is video so you can really feel like you’re a part of the congregation in your very own home. It appears to be a large non-denominational Church and if I lived in Charlotte I’d be there every week just to see this guy live. If he is this moving via a video podcast it must be a great atmosphere in the Church. Steven does a great job of really bringing scripture to every day lives and how we can relate it back to us. I even take notes!
Show recommendation: (December 20, 2014) There’s Been A Change of Plans
5) Writing Excuses
Yes, another writing podcast! One of my goals for 2015 is to write more and to hopefully complete a novel that I have been working on the last couple of years. I am half way done with the first draft so I am getting all of the motivation and learning I can while I write!
This podcast is pretty fun and also kind of nerdy because the speakers are really hardcore writers; they KNOW their stuff. The episodes are 15 minutes a piece (“Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart”) and it’s amazing the amount of context they get into one show. It’s fun listening to a group of people who all have their own ideas to bounce off one another and see how the show plays out and I’ve learned a great deal from this group (even though I don’t really love the sound quality, some of them tend to talk louder than the others and I find that I am adjusting the volume regularly – especially listening on headphones). I can’t seem to figure out how to find previous episodes except to go to their website www.writingexcuses.com If you want writing motivation this could be your group!Check it out!
Show recommendation: 10.2: I Have an Idea; What Do I Do Now?
Okay, folks! That’s all I have for today! Get listening and start learning something new! ENJOY!
Hey, hey! It’s a new year!!
I’ve been absent from blogging the last couple of weeks due to my BFF Michelle and her husband Brent visiting us during the Christmas holidays and into the New Year (I miss them so much already!).
I’m super pumped to be starting up Vlogging again (video blogging). I know it kind of flopped when I first tried to get it started but I’m trying again!
I’m going to be posting new videos every Tuesday or atleast every other Tuesday.
It’s just a goal of mine that I’ve been wanting to accomplish while living over here in London.
So for today’s post, it’s all about the VLOG.
I’ve created a longer video than I will be in future posts but I really wanted to go back through 2014 and recap all of the fun things that happened. It was really hard to narrow it down… I first tried to just pick 10 things, but it ended up being 20 and even still I’m missing quite a few fun events!
Yes, people, I admit it: I have been keeping this great secret from you.
Okay, so ever since I finally just broke down and bought a cheap food processor, my whole world has changed! Seriously though… go buy one. Even a small cheap one just to make this recipe:
(serves 2 OR 1 large portion for yourself… can’t fool me!)
2 FROZEN bananas
(Best to freeze them when they’re ripe. Peel them, halve them, stick ’em in a freezer bag and… voila!)
Almond Milk or Coconut Milk – pour in as needed, no more than 1/2-3/4 of a cup.
-Seriously – that’s all the ingredients.
This is where the FUN part comes in – adding ingredients!
My go to is 70% dark chocolate – I break off just a chunk of it, not very much to be honest and add it to the food processor. Occasionally, I will also add just a small dollop of peanut butter (the pictures shown here have PB in them, as well as the chocolate chunks).
Other fun ideas: Cinnamon, Raspberries, Blueberries, Mint, Vanilla etc.
Maybe you’re in the mood to be a little naughty?: Oreos, Peanut Butter Cups, Caramel, etc.
Add bananas to food processor; pulse just to break them up.
Add your ingredients and a little milk; pulse more.
You may need to take the lid off a few times to give it a stir with a spoon until it starts to become creamy.
Add the milk as you process to thicken it to your liking (it doesn’t take much). Careful not to put too much or you’ll be drinking your ice cream!
As soon as it comes to a thick consistency leave the processor on to really incorporate all the ingredients or break up the chocolate chunks.
Careful, though, this can be quite filling so eat slowly and enjoy! This TOTALLY kicks any ice cream cravings to the curb.
I’ve been making enough for 2 servings and putting the other serving away in the freezer so I have a special treat ready for the next craving that comes around. Also, I’ve been keeping loads of these frozen bananas ready because you just never know! They’re great in smoothies anyway 🙂
I hope you enjoy! Let me know your combinations of ingredients!
“Your hair looks great today!”
“I love your shoes!”
“You have a beautiful smile!”
Compliments. Daily we receive compliments in some form or another from friends, family members, strangers. When caught off guard, sometimes, a positive affirmation about ourselves can leave us standing there blank, empty handed, how do I react?! It’s simple really…
I remember when I was younger, like elementary years, I LOVED receiving compliments and I was pretty good at saying “Thank You” to the person who gave it to me. To be honest, I was too shy to know what to say after that and, as it turns out, that was okay.
Somewhere over the teenage angst years and into college, as much as I enjoyed receiving compliments here and there, they started to make me extremely uncomfortable. I just didn’t know how to ACCEPT a compliment and be done, I did not know how to react to a compliment anymore. During this time, I also learned to be very good at GIVING compliments, so much so that giving compliments is something I feel so comfortable with that I have heard myself giving a compliment in lieu of receiving one! Anyone else ever do this?
It wasn’t until TJ, my husband, pointed out to me while we were dating that I didn’t take compliments very well. He wondered, at one point, why it was that I couldn’t just say a simple “Thank You” and accept the compliment. Done. That was it, smile and move on. Not until he pointed this out to me did I began to consciously realize what I was doing. For example,
“Hey Lisa, I love that dress!”
“Thank You!” (but I can’t stop there because compliments made me feel uncomfortable) “I bought it at H&M and it was on sale, I think the sale runs through Saturday, you should go take a look!”
I don’t think my recommendation-bouncing-off-a-compliment like that has ever had anyone racing to the stores to go and get something on sale.
The fact is, someone was telling me something nice about my appearance and for many years I always felt the need to follow up their compliment with a statement. If you are guilty of this, STOP. It’s basically a slap in the face to the person who gave you the compliment, it’s another way of saying “Thanks, but I really don’t believe you.” Most people are actually GENUINE when it comes to giving compliments. I’ve never expected (nor wanted) anyone to say anything more to me than a simple “Thank You” when I hand out compliments – so why did I feel the need to start doing that myself? Probably an insecurity somewhere, just as I mentioned above, “Thanks, but I really don’t believe what you’re saying because I think this dress is rubbish.” Or whatever the situation. Sound familiar?
After becoming consciously aware of how I reacted to compliments, I began to change that. This is still something I work on today that I do want to follow up with a fact BUT I have learned not to follow up with any statements unless I’m prompted further questions, ie: “Where did you buy that dress?”
So – what SHOULD you do when someone compliments you?
1) Make eye contact 2) Smile 3) Say “Thank You”
Be humble. Be kind. Lead your life with love.
Just a little something that was on my mind today. I hope you enjoyed it 🙂 I know it’s not the direction I normally write. But hey, my goal is to write more for 2015 – I want to expand my audience! So don’t be surprised if you see more simple posts such as this.
Christmas Party 2014 with my Virgin Active group – I haven’t had that much fun in a long time!
The night began at the gym – I already had a couple of clients that evening so I had brought my outfit for the evening with me to get ready in the locker room. It was great because two other of my female co-workers were getting ready there at the same time and it was just the start to what ended up being a great evening! I haven’t had girl time like that in FOREVER so being able to chat and borrow each others jewellery and make-up was just a great feeling.
Here’s a photo of the three of us after we’re all ready! Part One of the evening was mostly just sitting or standing around the club waiting for food from Nando’s to arrive. If you don’t know what Nando’s is, it’s basically a very well-known chain restaurant in London. They are famous for serving chicken – you can get A LOT of chicken, they are also famous for their sauces which are, generally, very spicy. For more than a year living in London I had never tried Nando’s, mainly because I heard how spicy it could be, then in my first week of working at V.A. my team had a meeting there and it turns out that it is quite delicious! It seems to be a favorite amongst health and fitness people as it has healthier options.
Where’s the food?!
While waiting for the food to arrive we started popping open the beers and wine and mingled amongst one another – and without food for the last few hours, it didn’t take long for that cheap beer to start settling in. I don’t like drinking a whole lot in one setting – I’m more of a one glass of wine/beer kind of gal maybe once a week, but for a Christmas Party, I’ll make an exception.
Finally the food arrived and everyone is just starving – we eat the chicken, rice and mashed potatoes like we hadn’t seen food in a year. And took photo’s galore:
After all of that fun we had a little awards ceremony as well as passed out secret santa gifts! It was so fun to see all of the fun little things people had bought for each other. I lucked out and brought home a bottle of wine! Red wine, too! My fav!
Once part one of the party was over we all hung out for awhile trying to figure out how we would make it to Mare Moto – the nightclub and PART TWO!
So we took some selfies while we waited…
Eventually, we made it to Mare Moto. Our manager had passed out drink tokens so a few drinks were covered for the evening. It was GREAT fun!
There was not a lot of drama, at least, not that I saw – but there was a lot of dancing and smiling and people just enjoying the evening!
In my opinion, it was a much needed, very fun night!
Naturally, I had to pull a “Miley Cyrus” and do a silly tongue picture… I don’t know why those things seem like a good thing to do at the time HA! I’m sure we’ve all been there… maybe.
That was my Christmas Party for 2014!
Great way to end the year and I’m looking forward to bringing in 2015 with a bang! This will be our 2nd year celebrating the new year in London and this time, my best friend will be here!!
I had this long drawn out blog written about what home means to me but all it really boiled down to is that home is where family is and that says it all.
North Carolina was my first home and, therefore, it will always have a special place in my heart, even if I never live there again. Last month, I had to take a quick trip home from London as my Grandma Reva (1923-2014) had passed away.
It was a fantastic trip, despite the circumstances! I mean, it had been a year and two months since the last time I was in America and a year and five months since I was last in NC. It was a much needed trip.
Here are a few photos to remember my Grandma Reva – she was the BEST Grandma growing up. I don’t have any of my childhood photos uploaded to this computer so here are the ones that I do have.
My childhood is filled with memories of being at her house. We lived close to her so we were always visiting!
I remember the nights when I would sleep over, her guest room (overflowing with her collection of bear stuffed animals) was directly across from her room and every night I could hear her say her prayers – praying for each one of her family members and would remember those who had already left this world, for example, my Papa Ray.
And here are a few photos from the funeral.
The funeral was lovely and it brought so many family members together! It was so heart-warming and, for me, having not seen my loved ones in so long it was overwhelming the amount of love I felt.
This was really sweet, everyone was allowed to write a little message to be buried with Grandma. The family members also participated in a balloon release, it was all very special!
She was laid to rest, as she had planned for many years, next to her sweetheart, my Papa Ray, in the graveyard of her Church where she had attended for, well, I don’t know how long but for at least my entire life.
After the funeral was over, I had a few days to spend with my immediate family members. I stayed at Brandon and Sarah’s house (my brother and sister in law) and got to enjoy so much time with my 4 nieces!
I’ve posted all of my photos from the trip onto my FLICKR account… SEE THEM HERE.
Listen, I know I have a BOATLOAD of personal posts to catch you up on. The sad part is that some of them are already half-written but I didn’t finish for whatever reason at the moment.
It’s about that time of year where I start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Whether you make and follow or make and break your resolutions, I believe it’s important to get into the habit of goal setting. If I had to pick one resolution for the entire year it would be: Write More.
For me, January is like a “reset” button. I like to start FRESH and I like to anticipate it’s arrival knowing that, in a couple of weeks, new goals begin! I am actually very good at monthly goal setting throughout the year, but it always feels like those last few weeks from Halloween to the end of the year I start to lose control and feel a little jumbled. As most of us do, we probably find ourselves indulging more on the things we love to eat: alcohol, sweets, butters and creams galore. I am no exception to those indulgences.
January 2015 will be my THIRD year in a row to take on: Dry January. That is, no alcohol for the entire month – my only exception to this rule is New Year’s Eve. Dry January officially begins after I’ve woken up on the 1st of January, not immediately after the clock strikes midnight, then it ends after I’ve woken up on the 1st of February. I hope to see some of you join me for this year’s Dry January! Give your liver a break (and try the herbal supplement: Milk Thistle!) and choose tea or sparkling water instead of alcohol. Reset your brain!
This January I am also kicking it up a notch in the reset category. I have a serious addiction to grains and in the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that it’s been creeping back – maybe it’s the cold weather but I’ve got this “I don’t care” attitude towards how much pasta I’m consuming and THAT’S NOT GOOD. I spent a lot of time breaking the habit of overeating in the grain department and I’m stopping that train the minute I see it picking up speed. Right Now. So, this January, I’m undertaking the WHOLE30 challenge. That is, 30 days of clean eating! I’m doing this specifically to RESET as I would like to get back to my old ways of eating where it was mostly “paleo” (before I realized what paleo was).
As I will have visitors here until the 5th of January, I am officially starting the WHOLE30 challenge on the 5th of January and going until the 4th of February (Essentially, Dry January will extend to the 4th of Feb as no alcohol is involved during WHOLE30). I will do a separate post for what is allowed and is not allowed for the WHOLE30 challenge for those of you who are interested and want to join me!
I’m not waiting for January to begin this challenge – I’m taking active steps to start a transition as I know the hardest part will be giving up my daily bowls of oats. I am, for the first time in a few years, switching my everyday breakfast to a new concoction! It’s called: Banana Nut Porridge the recipe is from the blog: Against All Grain and I found it on Pinterest as I was browsing WHOLE30 recipes to get ready/try out for next month. Fortunately, this porridge makes A TON of servings (the recipe says 4, but I’m only using 1 cup for my serving and this is proving to be at least a week’s worth of breakfast). I’ve made it this morning to test it out and I am IN LOVE. I am glad there are more servings because now I have this whole week to try something new and see how it plays out. I still will be eating scrambled egg whites with this, as well – need my morning protein fix!
I love this recipe for an oat replacement because: The texture and flavor is FANTASTIC – if I didn’t know better, I’d probably think there were oats in here! I’m only wondering if it will keep me as full for as long as oats usually do. I’ll report back at the end of the week.
EDIT: It’s now been a full week since I switched from oats to banana nut porridge for breakfast. The result: I AM HOOKED. I, literally, no longer want to eat oats in the morning anymore and I will tell you why: #1) Stayed Full. This porridge has never given me a “heavy” or “full” feeling, I simply feel satisfied. This feeling lasts throughout most of the morning meaning that when I wanted a pre-lunch snack I found myself craving oranges and apples! Because my breakfast wasn’t converting into sugar (as oats do) I wasn’t craving sugar or wasn’t hankering to eat a carb-loaded lunch. I am simply freaking amazed by how that changed in a matter of days.
#2) De-bloated. I’ve read a lot on modern day agriculture and how the wheat and grains we consume today aren’t really all that healthy for you and yet, I still eat it! When I switched to this breakfast this past week I had zero problems with bloating (which is actually a HUGE deal for me). When I noticed this I immediately wanted to make sure the rest of my food intake for the day was healthy and grain-free. Consuming all my carbs via fruits and veggies. I am over-the-freaking-moon with this result. On day 6 I consumed my biggest wheat meal of the week that included a tortilla wrap – oh boy how the bloating set in a couple of hours and the next morning (as I write this) my pants are feeling a bit tighter. Seriously? Can all this be because of grains???
#3) No Crazy Cravings. Because I was consuming my calories from mostly fruits and veggies all week and cooking my own meals, I found that I wasn’t craving anything except a little bit of dark chocolate – and generally, when you get me around chocolate it’s hard to have self-control but this week was easy to say I’ve had enough or I don’t feel hungry so I’m not going to eat it. This is a new thing for me! I know when I eat more healthy I find that junk foods I once loved don’t have the same appeal – but that usually takes me a couple of months to reach that point, this was DAYS, people, DAYS!
CLICK HERE to be redirected to the original recipe!
I didn’t have any Coconut Milk (approved WHOLE30 item) but I do have Almond Milk (unapproved WHOLE30 item) to use up before I begin the challenge – I used almond milk this time. My next batch will definitely be with Coconut Milk! But it is delicious all the same!!
SO, WHO IS WITH ME? WANT TO JOIN ME FOR DRY JANUARY and/or the WHOLE30 CHALLENGE?
I will be posting recipes and meal plans throughout the month of January (in an effort to follow my NYR: WRITE MORE).