Monday, April 29, 2013

Weekend Update

We had a whirlwind of a weekend filled with fun. I worked on Friday night, napped on Saturday and then was ready to see friends all weekend. 

Saturday night, we met friends at a new restaurant, The Cowfish in North Hills. The concept of a sushi and burger fusion sounds extremely strange but the food and company was excellent. 
We ordered a little bit of everything and brought lots of leftovers home. For an appetizer, we all shared the blackened ahi tuna nachos, the thundering herd bison burger, a southern style burgushi roll called the Deliverance (top photo), and a shrimp and mango tempora roll. 

We cannot wait to go back and try more of their extensive menu.

Sunday, we overslept but made it in time to meet some of our favorite friends at another new spot: City Kitchen in Chapel Hill for brunch with bottomless mimosas. 

The food was tasty but the company was excellent. I'm so thankful that I met Allison on our first day of hospital orientation last year. And in three weeks she is going to be the most beautiful bride and marry her love.

Weekends and fun go by way too fast! 

Linking up with Shami and LeeAnn

Friday, April 26, 2013

high five for friday

Happy Friday! I'll be very happy when this Friday night shift is over, and I'll get to spend the weekend with the chef. We have a lot of fun things planned with friends this weekend, so I'm ready to get to work and get out. Is that how you're feeling today? 

1. In preparation for Europe and lots of walking, I bought my first pair of Toms. I've had a pair of the ballet flats but I think the regular ones are so much more comfortable. It's too bad that the flats aren't more comfy because lets be honest, they are cuter than these. But my feet will thank me that I bought these. 

2. My breakfast ..err...pre-shift meal of choice this week has been organic brown rice cakes (thanks for the IG photo Brooke) with almond butter, sliced bananas, and a drizzle of honey. 

3. I had the sweetest surprise last night while working at Pure Barre; my friend Kari made me a smoothie because I was working during supper time. It was a strawberries, peaches, pineapple, blueberries, and greek yogurt smoothie. Delicious and so sweet of her to think of me!

4. Aida got to go to Caribou with me for the first time this week and loved it. I loved it too because I love being outside but hate leaving her at home. She loved seeing all the people, and everyone commented on how sweet and pretty she is. I completely agree!

But I still can't wait for the day when we buy our first house and can have our own outdoor space.

5. My favorite snack this week has been these Energy Bites. I keep making them because the chef and I go through them pretty fast. I can't seem to stop at just one.

Hope you have a fabulous Friday! 

Linking up with Lauren, AshleeEmily, and Andrea

Thursday, April 25, 2013

London Planning

We are only a few weeks away from jet setting across the pond to start our European vacation. I have researched historical sites, activities, and last on my list is restaurants (but I feel like we can wing this one, unless you have cannot-miss-it-recommendations).

We will be starting our vacation in London, so I thought I'd share our itinerary so far. We're fine with the plans changing, but we have so much to pack into a short time that I want to be extremely organized for this trip. 

The chef found an amazing flight from Raleigh where we'll fly through the day and get there around 8pm which is so much better than arriving at 9am and trying to stay up all day. 

We'll spend our first day meeting up with the chef's friend, Peter who lives outside of London. We can't wait to go to a British pub and just enjoy the whole experience. And knowing both of these guys, we'll probably end up doing a pub crawl. And of course, I'll try fish and chips. I'm thinking I'll only like the chips, but I'll try anything (or almost anything). 

Our second day, Peter recommended we do the very touristy thing and go on the red double decker bus tour. It apparently gives you a great taste of the city before walking and seeing all of the sites. The pass allows you to hop on and off the buses all day and includes a River cruise of the Thames River. We'll hopefully pack the river cruise into this day as well. Just fyi, if you're booking this pass, it's cheaper to book online than to wait purchase in person. 
Our hotel pick for London is the Marriott at Grosvenor Square, which will be very convenient for our sightseeing.

For the third day, we're purchasing the London Pass with the public transportation included option. The pass gives you access to numerous sites such as Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Winsor Castle and so many more. If there is time, we might even start the pass on day two in order to see the sites. The other huge plus of this pass is that it allows you to skip the lines for different sites, which is a great time saver. 

Westminster Abbey
During the evening on one of these days, we are planning on seeing a show. We're leaning towards Wicked just because we love it so much and know it would be beyond fabulous in London. 
The fourth day, we have a late morning flight booked to Vienna. Good-bye London, hello home! I'm excited for every city but probably the most excited to go back to where I grew up.

So, do you have any recommendations of restaurants or any other cannot-miss-it sites while we're in London? I love recommendations and bloggers always have the best ones! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Energy Bites

I found these amazing energy bites on Pinterest and couldn't help sharing them for Taste of Tuesday. The chef and I have been hitting up a new workout place called Burn and have been looking for new pre or post workout snacks. These bites are packed full of protein, and I love that I know every single ingredient of my new "bars". Plus, they are cheaper than buying other all natural bars, and you can modify the add-ins for different batches each time. 

These Energy Bites have quickly become my new favorite snack before work, the gym, or during a long shift at work. You should definitely try them. 
Recipe from Riches to Rags with a few modifications
1 cup dry old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup dried blueberries
handful of sunflower seeds or almonds slivers 
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all the ingredients, chill for 30mins and then roll into bite sizes. Store in your refrigerator for up to a week.

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Linking up with Jessica and Ashley

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Planning for Europe

There is so much planning that goes into traveling, especially a European vacation. There are so many sites to see and foods to eat while in these amazing historic cities.

How did we decide where to go? 

Well, I have always wanted to go back home, which is Vienna, Austria, and experience it with my husband. I want to show him my favorite places in the city and relive my childhood. 

Schonbrun Palace Gardens - taken on my last visit home
One of my good friends from college got married the summer after graduating and soon moved with her pilot husband to Germany. They have been there for almost two years, and I've been dying to visit her in Europe. Originally, we were going to visit them but now the plan has changed and we're meeting  her in Salzburg, Austria. Salzburg is a stunningly beautiful city that I visited in high school but cannot wait to experience as an adult. 

One of Jeff's childhood friends is British and currently lives in London. He has visited us a few times and even came to our destination wedding in the Dominican. We couldn't pass up seeing him and visiting London

Lastly, we chose Paris because it's so romantic and how could we not go when we're so close? I cannot wait to see the sites, taste the delicious food, and sip on a coffee in a cafe. 

We chose May because it won't be too hot yet and hopefully before lots of tourists arrive, and all of the gardens will be in bloom like the one shown above. 

So you might be thinking that we're missing out on Italy, Spain, and Greece, we are on this trip, but we're hoping in the future to do a Mediterranean vacation. Maybe if I can overcome my motion sickness, we'll even try a cruise! 

Next week, I'll tell you what we have planned for London. Do you have any questions I can help answer about planning a European vacation? 
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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Stitch Fix

I promised to share my Stitch Fix and am finally getting around to doing it for today's Wearable Wednesday. 

I received four clothing items and one necklace in my first package. 

First up was a floral wrap style dress. In the online form, I specifically requested not receive anything with floral, but I tried it anyway to see if I liked it. You can't really tell in this but the top was way too big, and it highlighted my hips which is not something I'm into highlighting.

I tried it with a blazer and heels, as they suggested, and liked it more but not enough to keep it.

This top would have been a keeper except that just like the dress it was too large. Seemed to be a problem with my fix this time.

While I love chambray, I hated this top. It was my least favorite of the clothing pieces. I know some of you are into the tying of the shirt but it takes me back to middle school, and I just can't embrace this style.

My favorite item was this dress, and I really appreciated your comments on IG (aileenpp). I almost kept this one but a few people mentioned that it looked too big on top and that the side pockets made the dress look disproportional. I re-tried the dress on and completely agreed. I wanted to love this one because of the polka dots and the fabric was soft and light, but I didn't want to invest more money into alterations.

So, I ended up not keeping anything from my fix. To be honest, I was a little disappointed because I've seen so many girls with fabulous pieces in their fixes. I just didn't love that everything was too large on top and most of the pieces just weren't "me". Even though this fix wasn't the best, I'd like to give it another try and hope for a few keepers next time. Have you tried Stitch Fix? Did you love and keep any of your pieces?

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pork Chops and Peaches

A few days ago, the chef surprised me after a long shift, with this tasty meal. I love adding fruit to dinners because it adds natural sweetness and flavor to meals. This one is a definite keeper, so I thought I'd share. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 
From EMeals: serves 2
1/2 cup whole wheat couscous
2 tsp olive oil
2 bone-in pork chops
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 small peaches, cut into wedges
1/2 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
1 Tbs white wine

Cook couscous according to package directions. Keep warm. Preheat oven to 400. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Add pork chops to skillet, and cook 5 minutes per side, or until browned. Remove pork from skillet. Add peaches, onion and wine to skillet, tossing for 1 minute. Return pork chops to skillet and transfer skillet to oven. Roast for 20-30 mins, or until tender. Serve pork mixture over couscous, and sprinkle with basil. Serve with a side salad.

Linking up with JessicaHeather, and Ashley
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Beach Wedding

Wedding season has arrived! I absolutely love attending weddings and most of all love being apart of my friends' big days. This weekend, I had the honor of being a bridesmaid in my friend Brooke's wedding in Destin. It was absolutely gorgeous, and she planned every detail perfectly. I just wish time hadn't flown by so fast. 
Isn't she beautiful? I'll have a full beach wedding post for you with lots of details soon.

Until then, happy Monday!

Friday, April 12, 2013

workin on my fitness

Do you remember this song? Takes me back to college days.

At the end of college, I finally decided I needed to get in shape and get healthy. Why I didn't decide to do this sooner is beyond me. 

Ok, let's be honest, I got engaged, read Skinny Bitch and decided to go veggie and start exercising. 

I tried going to the gym at college and that worked for a while, but I didn't see results. 

After college and moving to Baltimore, I saw lots of blog posts and facebook statuses about Pure Barre and how it was changing bodies. 

There weren't any PBs in my area, so I started going to Baltimore Barre and in a month I lost seven inches between my waist, thighs, arms, and hips. I finally found my workout. 

Since we moved again, I found a Pure Barre and committed to going as often as possible every week. 
I love the that PB sculpts, strengthens, and elongates my muscles and body. While I love working out, I have a hard time getting motivated on my own, so I love taking classes because the instructors push me to dig deeper and find my shake and burn.
It has been a life style change for me to stop relying on good genes to keep me small, but to really want a toned body and work for it. I love these classes and highly recommend trying one out.

Linking up with Kelly's Korner

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Baby Back Ribs

Sunday night, the chef made one of my favorite Emeals so far. The ribs baby back pork ribs were incredibly tender and the meat fell off of the bones. We had extra couscous from Friday night's dinner, so we used it instead of brown rice side that was listed as the side. I wanted a little more green and veggies with this meal, so I added a side salad with items we already had.

You should definitely try this one. I recommend all the meals I post, but this one is really tasty, plus the chef said the ribs were easy to make. I can't wait until we make it again.

From EMeals: serves 2
1 rack baby back pork ribs (about 2lbs)
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves
1 green onion, chopped

Cut ribs into three sections and arrange in a small (4-5 quart) slow cooker. Combine soy sauce, honey, sherry, ginger, garlic, and rosemary in small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour over ribs. Cover and cook on low 7hrs or until tender (turning occasionally if possible). Sprinkle with green onion before serving over couscous.

2/3 cup whole wheat couscous
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 Tbs lemon juice

Cook couscous according to package. Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts and garlic; cook 2 mins. Combine cooked couscous, pine nut mixture, spinach, goat cheese and lemon juice in a large bowl, tossing to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

chopped red pepper
greens mix
goat cheese
sliced almonds
balsamic and vinegar for dressing

Linking up with Jessica and Ashley

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring Weekend

Spring seems to finally have arrived in Raleigh. We had a fabulous weekend, seriously one of the best we've had staying in town. 

I enjoyed a three day weekend off from work which was such a nice break. Friday, I cleaned almost every inch of our apartment, and you would not believe how much dog hair I found. 

The chef made a fabulous dinner for our friends, Allison and Jarod. 

I have been wanting to try this brie recipe and there was no better time than when we had guests and didn't have to eat the whole thing ourselves. 

Allison got a new kitchenaid mixer and made these amazing strawberry cupcakes.  They were so pretty and really delicious. 

Saturday, the chef and I got up early (early for me) and got going for the day. I was so proud of myself getting to three Pure Barre classes this weekend. And since we're trying to soak up the city and find new places we went to Cameron Village in Raleigh for lunch and then walked around enjoying the sunshine. 

We were then challenged on Saturday night by JD's sermon at the Summit before we met our neighbors and their parents/in-laws for dinner in Durham. I was so excited to finally find my favorite cider, Crispin on tap. I thoroughly miss Golden West in Hamden with it's ice cold Crispin, veggie burger, sweet potato fries, and surprisingly amazing brussel sprouts. Nothing here quite compares. Or if it does please let me know. 

And the best news of my weekend was getting a text with this photo. Laura and Justin are getting married! I couldn't be more excited or happy for them.

The best part: Justin proposed this past week in Italy. ahh, so romantic.
source: Photo stolen from Justin
So, happy Monday! Hope you have a large coffee to get you started with your week.

Friday, April 5, 2013

high five for friday

I'm so thankful this busy week is over, and it's Friday! As I told you on Monday, this week's posts have been a little sparse due to my crazy work schedule.

1. I'm thankful that 6 out of 7 night shifts are over. They actually were great shifts with adorable patients and great night shift nurses, I wish I could tell you more. 

2. The best part of the 6/7 nights was that one of my nurse friends, Allison shared them with me, and we met for coffee almost every night around midnight to give us a little boost to keep going. Because of this week, I'm very close to Gold. I love the Starbucks app.

(Remember the next time you or a family member is in the hospital, buy your nurse a coffee, it will do wonders for keeping her awake and happy. Don't just offer because she'll say no, just surprise her). 

3. A pedicure with Allison after working 6 nights was the most the best relaxing treat. Plus, we're getting ready for spring! It looks like it's finally coming this weekend. 

4. Pure Barre kicked my tail last night. A week without going is rough. Any nurses have a short exercise routine that they do during a long stretch of shifts when you can't go take workout classes? 

5. I have been scouring youtube videos for tutorials for my Naked Palette and have loved trying new looks. This is one of my newest favorite every day looks. 

Linking up with Lauren

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Thai Red Curry

As you know, the chef and I love trying different foods, especially ethnic foods. I have always loved curry, so I was excited when it showed up on our EMeals. We've tried different curry recipes and this one by far is a keeper. The flavors are great and other than a lot of chopping the recipe is easy. 

Recipe from EMeals: serves 2 
1 Tbs peanut oil
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp red curry paste
1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium tomato, chopped
13 oz can coconut milk
1 small Japanese eggplant, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup brown rice

Heat peanut oil in large skillet over medium-high. Add onion and cook for 3 mins. Stir in curry paste. Add red bell pepper and cook an additional 3 mins. Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add chicken, tomatoes, and eggplant and cook for 10 mins or until chicken is done. Add basil, cilantro, bay leaf, salt and pepper, and cook 3 mins.

Cook rice according to package directions.

Serve curry chicken over rice.

Linking up with Jessica and Ashley

Monday, April 1, 2013


Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory? 
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
Our God is not dead, he's alive! He's alive! 

Easter was a little different this year than last. We celebrated Saturday night by going to the Summit for church with another couple. My friend Allison and I braved getting up super early before night shift to go, and I'm so glad that we did. I loved the service and sharing it with close friends. 

I worked Saturday night but was thankfully off for Sunday, so we shared Easter dinner with our small group at our leaders' new house. I'm so thankful for friends in Raleigh who have become like family to us. I love sharing the holidays with them as most of us are away from family. 

And I'm a bad blogger and didn't take a single photo of our Easter. 

On a similar note of thanksgiving I am particularly thankful that three years ago today my mom survived major brain surgery. Life hasn't been the same since, but I cannot imagine life without her. She is the most kind, tender hearted, strong, amazing, best friend, and mom.