Saturday, May 30, 2015

Double Date Night

Last night, my husband and I had an impromptu date night with two of our best friends! 

First, I must tell you, today is the final day to enter my Balance Bar GIVEAWAY! Not as many people have entered this giveaway as my last {blame it on the nice weather; less screen time}, so your chance to win is even greater this round! Get in there!!

While my husband and I had a date night planned at the beginning of the month, it didn't work out so we decided to just wait. Earlier this week, we decided this Saturday would be the night we went out for our date, but then I got cold feet. I called off our sitter because I just wasn't feeling ready for somebody to do our night time routine with Piper. Wah wah.

My husband and I made a rash decision last night that we would just bring Piper with us for our "date night" and do it then. We would go out early enough so that we could be back home for Piper's evening routine. It was going to include a trip to Babies R' Us and dinner with the three of us. That didn't end up happening, though. Something just as great happened, instead! We found out our friends {that we hadn't seen in a while} were also free for dinner, so we asked my mom if she could watch Piper and then we were on our way to a double date night! Alright!




My husband and I met our friends at Texas Roadhouse around 6:30. I had a couple beers and the prime rib. It was really, really nice! We had so much fun catching up with our friends.

After dinner, my husband and I went to Babies R' Us and bought formula, some screens for the windows in the car (still not sure if we'll be using them or taking them back) and some baby sunscreen so we can have some fun in the sun with our little girl this weekend! Bonus: we were home by 9:30. Just in time to begin the dream feed with Piper at 10.

I'm so glad that my husband and I were able to go out last night because we are going to make it a goal to not go out to eat next month. I wouldn't call this our last supper or anything, we will still have yummy meals next month, but we definitely are going to be eating more fresh, healthy meals in June, too!

Readers, where is your favorite place to go out to eat?

Friday, May 29, 2015

No More Running

Phew. I'm not going to lie to you; my body is aching! It's a good ache, though. I've been doing something a little different lately. I've been working out in my living room and sweating up a storm!




My workouts before I had Piper were so different. I use to run, a lot. I would switch it up from time to time and do a little Zumba, but running was my main form of exercise.

Running was hard for me and I loved the challenge! It was so rewarding when I accomplished a goal I didn't think I could accomplish. I worked my mile down from 17 minutes to under 10 minutes. The more I ran, the better I got. I loved seeing the progress!

Now that Piper is here, I have been doing something a little different when it comes to my workouts. Even though I love to run, I have decided that I won't be running for a little while. Why? Well, for a couple reasons, actually.

1. My knees. My poor, knees. Being pregnant this last year and running while overweight before that has taken it's toll on my knees. They creak and crack up any stair and they just plain hurt. I've decided that I'm going to give my knees a break from running until I've lost some more weight. (My doctor advised it, as well.)

2. Time. I've been working up a lot of sweat in half the time of running just by doing workouts with weights and my stability ball in my living room during Piper's naps. Time is precious; I think everyone can agree on that. If I can get the same (if not better) results in half the time, that's the choice I'm going with these days!

I have a treadmill, and I also go on walks with my daughter at the park. I have a jogging stroller, so I could definitely jog if I wanted to; I just won't be running like I use to for a little while. Once I lose more weight, I'll revisit it. My heart loves to run, but my knees are telling me to cool it.

Readers, what is your favorite form of exercise?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Daisy for My Lady

The sky yesterday was straight out of a fairy tale, I tell you. Bright blue, big white puffy clouds, and the sun shining all day; it was beautiful! It was 85 degrees around 4:00 p.m. That's when I decided to put my baby in a spaghetti strapped romper and head out for a walk at the park!

I walked Piper around in her stroller for a little over an hour. I played Pandora from my phone; she loves to listen to music. As I pushed her in the stroller, we just kept smiling at each other. I saw some wild daisies growing, so I had to pick one for my little lady.




After about 45 minutes, Piper drifted off to sleep and I was left with just my thoughts. I was thinking about how nice the air smelled like fresh cut grass, and how good the sun felt on my shoulders. I also thought about how blessed I am to be spending this time with Piper. I know I've said it a million times but I always dreamed about being a stay at home mom and my mind just can't get around that my dream has come true. I am so grateful to my husband for switching jobs years ago so this could happen for us. This time with Piper is so precious and neither of us would have it any other way.

After our walk at the park, we went home to find Nick working on a project for Piper. He has been working on a wagon for her, customizing it like a rat rod. It's so cute because he has been building a rat rod of his own for a couple years now and since we got her this wagon, all of his extra time has been spent working on hers instead of his. He is just so excited to be making something for his daughter. Since we've been married, he would tell me all of his ideas of what he would make for our child one day. Now the day is here, and all I can do is smile.




After some family time, I started to make dinner. I made a chicken stir fry, but not just any chicken stir fry. I used the recipe from Gimmie Some Oven. It was a recipe for chicken and asparagus stir fry, but I decided to add some onion and green peppers, too. So, so good!




This tasted just like a dish I use to get from a local Chinese restaurant. We'll be making this one again, soon! Maybe weekly?




Readers, what are your favorite vegetables to use in stir fry?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Teriyaki Burgers and Intense Workout

Last night, I made Teriyaki Burgers. They were so good! I had mine with no bun, over lettuce with a pineapple on top. Oh, and with a drizzle of some extra teriyaki sauce. So delicious!




I followed the recipe from SkinnyTaste {for the most part}. I had a bottle of teriyaki sauce in the fridge, so I used that instead of making my own sauce as per the recipe. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it turned out just as great!






Today, I have been super productive. I got an intense workout in this morning. Who knew that I would be typing "intense" and "workout" in the same sentence over a new stability ball and leg workout that I tried fort he first time, today? Not I!

I love using YouTube for my workouts at home. The two workouts I followed today were hard and fun! I have found that if I'm going to get a good workout in, my best time to do it is during Piper's morning nap.




After the workout and Piper's nap, I made breakfast. An omelet with provolone and watermelon. Piper helped me make my breakfast, and when I say that she helped me, I mean she watched my every move with great curiosity. This girl is going to love food, I can already tell!

Readers, what is your favorite kind of burger? What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend 2015

{Psst. Don't forget to enter my Balance Bar Summer Shape Up GIVEAWAY!}

Hey guys! How was your weekend? Ours was really, really great!

I took some time this Memorial Day weekend to really sit back and think about all of those who sacrificed and continue to sacrifice so that we are able to live out our American dream. 





As Americans, we have it so good that it's really easy to forget that simple truth. It's good to have a holiday to help us remember that this life we have wouldn't be the same without our veteran's and those in active duty, now. So, thank you to service men and women and to their families. We are some very thankful people over here!




This weekend, we relaxed; a lot. We also had a lot of fun! Piper tried out her new swing {which took place of our beloved tire swing that use to hang from the big tree in our back yard}. I warned my husband that we would barely swing her when we went to put her in the new swing, but it turns out, this girl isn't happy unless she swings "high". {Don't worry, high to her and high to us are two very different things at this stage. I'm sure her father will really show her what high means next summer.}




My husband and I spent a little bit of time and got our vegetable garden in this weekend. It was such a beautiful weekend for planting. No wonder most people use this weekend to plant. We use to host a Memorial Day picnic every year, so planting was far from our minds around this time. We would always get our plants in late. Not this year, though. Everything is in and we're happy! We are growing squash, zucchini, cucumbers, jalapenos, red peppers, green peppers, green beans and tomatoes. Phew. Harvest time is going to be delicious!

Speaking of harvest time, planting always reminds me of my most favorite quote:

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant." 

Robert Louis Stevenson, I like you.

Readers, are you growing any vegetables this year? What is your favorite quote?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Burrito Bowl with Easy Guacamole

{Psst. There's still time to enter my Balance Bar Giveaway. Just click this link!}

"You can definitely make this again" is what my husband said when he gave this burrito bowl a try for dinner last night.




I agree. I will be making this again, and again, and again! Wow, this was good. And fresh!




Burrito Bowls 
with Easy Guacamole
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Deconstructed Burrito (sans tortilla):
1 cup - Brown Rice
1/2 - Onion (chopped)
15 oz. - Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
2 - 4 cups - Spinach (your preference)
1 tbsp. - Olive Oil
1/2 can - Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies (optional)
Salt to taste

Guacamole:
1 - Avocado
1/2 tsp. - Salt
1 - Roma Tomato (diced)
2 tbsp. - Fresh Cilantro (chopped)
1/2 tsp. - Minced Garlic
1 pinch - Cayenne Pepper (optional)




Directions:

Make rice according to box.

In a large skillet, add chopped onion and 1 tbsp. olive oil. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add black beans and spinach. Toss until spinach is wilted and beans are heated through. Season with salt to taste.




Add all ingredients for guacamole to a separate bowl and combine until smooth.

On your plate, layer rice, bean mixture and guacamole. Add a tbsp. or two of diced tomatoes and green chilies for an extra kick!




Make it look pretty, then mix it all together. That's how I roll.




Readers, would you rather have a burrito with a tortilla/wrap or a burrito bowl?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

More to Goal of Losing

My week has been great, so far! Why has it been so great? Well... because it's been filled with babies. 

Two of my best friends from high school had babies within the past couple weeks. How great is that?! I got to meet one of these adorable babies yesterday! I was actually set to meet my friend's baby with the other friend who was pregnant but her baby decided to come early that morning, instead! I just couldn't be more happy for these girls! And let me tell you, Piper is 3 months old -- strike that, she's turning 4 months old tomorrow {how?!!) and I already forgot how amazing it feels to hold a newborn. Oh my gosh! Just amazing.

I digress.

I have come to a real deep realization about myself these past couple days. I haven't fully collected my thoughts on this realization, so bare with me as I let my heart speak.

I use to be extremely motivated to lose weight. I wanted to lose weight to be healthy, but I'm finding out now that wasn't the only reason why I wanted to lose weight. 

Deep down inside, I knew that if I ever wanted to have a child, I would need to lose weight. 

So yes, I had a goal of losing weight. The thing that I didn't realize before, however, was that my heart had a silent ending to that sentence. The sentence that only my heart knew was that I had a goal of losing weight so that I could become pregnant, and have a baby one day


My daughter, Piper, and I during a morning feeding, yesterday.

My heart didn't really let my head know too much about my true reasoning for wanting to lose weight because it was afraid. My heart was afraid that even if I did lose the weight, I might still not be able to have a baby. So, I believe my heart kept that secret until my dream finally came true, with Piper.


Piper at the park.

Now that I'm ready to get back to losing weight again, I find myself struggling. I am struggling with motivation. My greatest motivation to lose weight is gone -- or rather, finally here. In a sense, I have accomplished my greatest goal. This makes it very hard to find the motivation to continue on. I don't know how to fully explain how I feel. I guess it would be similar to somebody who plays the lottery. When you finally hit it big, I mean the biggest you can hit, do you continue to play the game? You just won the greatest lottery you can win! Do you go back to buy another ticket the next day? This is hard. I need to dig deep.


Those cheeks! I'm so in love.

So what do I do now? Do I move forward, trying to lose weight halfheartedly? Or do I find a new motivation? What motivates me, doesn't necessarily motivate you, and vice versa. This search for motivation will have to be personal, and only I can find for what I'm searching. I plan to continue sharing my journey with you, wherever I go. I hope you'll continue along with me.

Readers, what is your biggest motivation in life, right now? Has it changed from the past?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Instagram Stories

I decided I would share some of my recent Instagram pictures and give you the back story to them, today. This may be something I decide to do from time to time in the future. I know that not everyone has Instagram, so here are a few pictures from the past week!




Yesterday was a really great day! I ate healthy meals, all within my calorie range. I also walked two miles with the sunshine on my back, and my cute little daughter by my side. Okay, she was actually in front of me, since I was pushing her in the stroller.

After our walk, we took a break at the park. I showed Piper the swings {the ones that she will be using in no time at all}. She really enjoyed looking around!




Earlier in the day, I had made myself an interesting breakfast with cilantro that I picked from my new herb garden. I posted the "recipe" on my Instagram account. {Speaking of which, if you haven't heard from me here, you can always see what I'm up to on there}.




Last week ended especially well when my husband came home early from work, on a Friday, flowers in hand. What a great way to kick off an amazing weekend!




Piper has been playing with her feet any chance she gets these days. This started early last week and I think it's just the cutest thing, ever. She smiled at me the other morning as I was grabbing a diaper and she was putting her big toe in her mouth. She is one flexible, girl!

Readers, do you use Instagram?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Good Eats of the Week

This past week, I've been eating healthy {most of the time}. 

Below are some of my good eats from the past week:


Breakfast: Hard boiled egg, turkey sausage and raspberries.


Snack: Yellow and red bell peppers.




Dinner: Turkey sausage, asparagus, yellow pepper and onions with rice.


Dinner: Portabella mushroom pizza with diced peppers and fresh basil.


Dinner: Tortellini with diced tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil.


*Splurge* Old fashioned oats, peanut butter and chocolate chips.

Readers, what are some of the good things on your plate this week?

Friday, May 15, 2015

How I Got Pregnant with PCOS

Exactly one year ago today, I found out I was pregnant with Piper. I wrote about the day that I found out I was pregnant a the post called "The Positive Test". You can click the link to read more from that day.




Being here now, a year later, I am blissfully aware of how blessed I am to have had all of my prayers answered. I have Polycystic Ovarian Disorder (PCOS). My husband and I went three years without being able to conceive a child; then, in the fall of 2012, I found out I was pregnant. My first pregnancy had only lasted about 7 weeks. Losing that baby broke me in a way I had never been broken before. It took courage, but I made a very important conscious choice after that traumatic event. I chose to put my faith in God and I continued down a path that would prepare my body for another pregnancy, one day. A year ago today, that day came. 






These are the things that I believe helped me to conceive, carry and give birth to my miracle baby, Piper Grace.





1. Prayer and Faith
I prayed every single day of my pregnancy. I prayed for my baby to be born healthy; that I would truly be able to meet my baby, and hold her in my arms. I was painfully aware from the past that this was not a guarantee, but I had hope and I was at peace with letting God do His Work on me and my baby. There comes a peace like no other when you simply let go, humble yourself, and submit yourself to Gods will.

2. Chiropractic Care
About 6 months prior to conceiving Piper, I went to the chiropractor as I had some upper back pain. During treatment, she noticed my lower back was also out, and asked if I had regular periods. (I did not have a regular cycle at the time.) When she told me this was something chiropractic care could help with, I was intrigued and began treatment in hope that it would help. At first, I was seen every two weeks and then progressed to once monthly as my cycle became more regulated. I was seen by Dr. Katie Kutterna from Progessive Chiropractic for about 6 months before I conceived Piper. Dr. Kutterna played an important role in helping my dream of becoming a mother come true. For 6 months, Dr. Kutterna worked on the area of the back that has nerves which specifically correlated with the function of my uterus (and thus, fertility). She helped my body prepare to conceive and carry my first born child. I could never thank her enough! (I also went to my chiropractor throughout my entire pregnancy and postpartum to help alleviate any pain from carrying Piper, in utero and out).
disclaimer: not all chiropractors may believe in this treatment; it is important that you find a chiropractor that suites your own personal needs.

3. Living Healthier, Losing Weight and Exercising
I also believe that my healthy living choices helped me to conceive Piper. I took prenatal vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C and folic acid for over a year before becoming pregnant with Piper. I also lost a total of 40 pounds before I conceived. I lost the weight the healthy way, too; through eating healthier, drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep and regular exercise. It took time, but time worth spent.




Today, I celebrate. I celebrate an amazing year, and the beautiful baby girl that God has blessed us with. Piper Grace, you are the light in our lives. You were loved before I even met you.

{You can read more about Piper's birth story, here.}

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Balance Bar Summer Shape Up Giveaway

Did you know that according to a recent study, almost half of Americans say summer is where it's at when it comes to feeling most balanced? I concur.




It makes sense. Here in Pennsylvania, we just recently got a taste of what summer has in store for us. We had sunny, beautiful days in the 70's and 80's and I made sure to take full advantage! I went on many walks at the park with my family, enjoyed some backyard living under our big shady tree, and ate healthy, delicious dinners on our stone patio with my love; now that's the life for me!




As we are approaching June 21st {the official start of summer}, my friends at Balance Bar and I believe it's the perfect time to get outside, enjoy the beautiful weather and start feeling more balanced! To help you feel good inside and out this summer, Balance Bar is sharing Gabby Reece's tips for staying active and enjoy smart eating.

Tips from Gabby Reece, a worldwide fitness and wellness role model:

Make it your own: There is not one right way to get it done. There is the right way that works for you. When it comes to eating healthy, find the foods you like and implement those into your daily diet. The same goes for exercise. If you hate the gym then find something outside that is manageable for you. This is not about torture; this is about creating a lifestyle that you can do week after week.

Watch the calendar: Use summer for motivation to shape up but don’t wait for June 21st. If you wait until summer actually starts, you’ll feel rushed and end up crash dieting or doing a crazy workout schedule. I personally like to keep a calendar in my kitchen and cross off the days as I countdown to bikini weather. The visual reminder – right where you eat – is helpful in keeping you on track.

Sign up a friend: We tend to be more successful at accomplishing some type of exercise if we have an accountability partner. Solicit a friend and maybe use this as your time to connect. You can train for a 5k together or join an outdoor boot camp; there are a lot more options now that the weather is improving. 

Plan to snack: Take snacks (like fruit, nuts or a Balance Bar®) wherever you go to prevent mindless eating. If I have an afternoon or early evening workout planned, I make sure to have one of these handy an hour or so before so that I have plenty of energy to get in a good workout. 

Variety is key: Make as many meals as you can at home so you can control your nutrition. These are some of my favorite recipes,– fresh and full of veggies for springtime! To keep things interesting and fresh at my house, I try to rotate foods. One night I may go for something heavier with veggies and grains, and then the next night focus on proteins. I really try to change up the food and create a great deal of variety.

Each day is a new chance and it's never too late: If you fall out of your summer shape up routine one day, don’t sweat it. Forgive yourself and move on – and just keep moving! 

To see some of Gabby’s favorite fitness moves, go to http://bit.ly/1HL3eO8 and for more of Gabby’s tips for balancing fitness and a busy schedule go to http://bit.ly/1Qj0pYC. Also, t
here will be a Summer Shape Up Twitter Chat with Gabby Reece on May 19th at 4 pm EST.




Now, on to the Balance Bar Giveaway!

Balance Bar is giving away Balance Bare Bars and a Balance Bar Headband {like the one I'm wearing in the picture above} to one lucky reader! I received the same pack from Balance Bar and I must say, those Balance Bare Bars are out of this world good! 

It's easy to enter to win this giveaway! Use the rafflecopter, below. {U.S. residents only, must be age 18 or older to win. Giveaway ends 05/30/15}.


{I have received product as part of a sponsored collaboration with balance bar}.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tip for Tuesday: Healthy Choices

Yesterday was a great start to the week! I tracked my food/water intake and even got in a nice long walk with my girl, Piper. It was such a beautiful day! I pushed her in the stroller around our local park and she really enjoyed the ride. Just another day at the office!




My eating was pretty good yesterday. I have a lot of healthy food choices on hand at the house because I spent a little time planning ahead for this week. Planning ahead meals and snacks really makes a difference as to how my week will go. When I have healthy choices on hand, I eat healthier. Simple as that!

Healthy Choices of the Week:

Breakfast choices:
Oatmeal with fruit
Breakfast burrito
Omelet

Lunch choices:
Salad with egg, tomato, cucumber
Turkey avocado wrap
Tuna sandwich

Dinner menu:
Monday - Grilled Chicken Salad
Tuesday - Fish with Asparagus
Wednesday - Teriyaki Pork with Veggies
Thursday - Steak Salad
Friday - BBQ Chicken Grilled Pizza

Snack choices:
Celery with peanut butter
Balance Bar
SnapFit
Raspberries
Bell peppers
Bananas
Kiwi

If you notice, I like to give myself some different choices for breakfast, lunch and my snacks. If I were to eat the same thing every day, that would get boring, so I make sure to have at least three choices to choose from for my meals. The dinner menu is flexible, as well. Sometimes I'll switch up my days depending on what I am craving more. 

The great thing about planning ahead and having healthy choices on hand is that I have everything I need to make these meals and snacks at home, so there's no wasted time running out for ingredients throughout the week. I get my grocery shopping done for the week before the week even begins!

Readers, what healthy choices do you have on hand for this week?
*Stay tuned for a Balance Bar GIVEAWAY starting tomorrow!

Monday, May 11, 2015

My First Mother's Day

Can I just start by saying that my husband treats me so very good? He made sure that I had a great first Mother's Day and I couldn't be more grateful. Don't tell him, but the truth is that my Mother's Day was going to be great regardless of his acts of kindness. I mean, how couldn't your Mother's Day be great when you're the mom of the sweetest little girl around?






Nick surprised me with some mommy coupons that I can redeem any time I need a break. He is such a good husband and dad, he already gives me a break whenever I need it, but this was just so sweet. It made me smile!




He also spent a lot of time making another one of my ideas come to life. If I think of it, he can make it happen. I love this guy! He made me an herb planter for right outside my door.




Not only will I have fresh herbs for whenever I'm cooking, but this planter also removed a safety hazard for Piper. It filled in a drop-off that was right outside our door.




Piper will be crawling {and dare I say walking} before we know it. This was a great Mother's Day present; just one less thing for me to have to worry about once the time comes! It was dangerous to have for adults, let alone a child. I'm so glad we found a nice {pretty} solution to that problem. We may even add on some additional drop down planters.






My first Mother's Day started off very peacefully. Both my husband and daughter were still sleeping when I woke up around 6 a.m. Nick had woken up with Piper around 4 a.m. and so they were taking and early morning nap.

I let the dogs out, admired my new herb planter and relaxed by the pond. It was such a warm, beautiful morning. I just couldn't help but think God is so good. He has blessed my family so abundantly. Not only am I a mother, but I'm a stay at home mother to this incredible baby girl. I live each day with such a grateful heart.

When Piper and my husband woke up, I fed her while Nick made us coffee and some fresh strawberry muffins for breakfast. What a treat that was! He is such a good baker.


Piper with Busha, Grandma, and myself.

It wasn't too long after breakfast that we were off to visit Nick's mom's side of the family. Piper got to meet her great grandma {Busha}. Busha is my husband's grandmother. Piper and Busha clearly love each other, already. Piper was laughing and smiling as soon as Busha started talking to her. It was the sweetest thing.

After we visited with Nick's mom's side of the family, we visited with my mom's side. We didn't get any pictures from that visit. My nana and papa were there and we all spent some time together on the back deck. It was so warm we actually had to go inside and take a break from the heat. Piper is not a fan of hot, hot weather {just like her momma}. Bring on the air conditioning!

The night before, Piper, Nick and I made canvas painting for my mom, his mom, and one for me to keep as well. If you ask me, the girl is an artist. I just love her handmade sunshine.




Readers, what did you do this Mother's Day? Who else celebrated their first Mother's Day this weekend?