Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day

Hi, friends! Happy Monday!

When I started this blog last month, my intention was to share it with the world on Valentine's Day. After all, it's something that I love dearly and felt that it was only fitting. But then I procrastinated and wasn't totally prepared. So here I am, sharing my leap of faith on leap day!

My first and second post will tell you a lot about me and this little blog, as will my about me section. But if you know me even a little bit, then you know that I love to write. As I close out my 20s and enter into a new decade this year, I'm bringing my "I wish I had" and "what-if" statements into fruition. So guys, here's to 2016, and it being the best year yet!


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Oh, social media.

**Ladies [and gents?], I promise I didn't forget about this little blog of mine. Instead, my week started with a nice dose of reality. I said hello to a cold [for the 5th time this season. Ugh!] and the last week of classes [until March 2nd]. But I'm finally using less tissues and have managed to get AHEAD on school work. So, I'm back! :) And with a confession...

I spent a solid ten minutes this morning looking through a girl's Instagram that...
 I. BARELY. KNOW. 
And why did I do that? Because her life looked so perfect and I was so jealous. But the key word there? LOOKED. I'm not saying that to make myself feel better or to downplay her life. Because my life is good and so is hers. It's just that I know how social media works. I guarantee someone has looked at my pictures and thought the same thing. The truth is, we only post the good stuff. But I couldn't help myself: Married, beautiful children, dream job, gorgeous house, vacations. People make their lives look so effortless and amazing. And for half of a millisecond, I wished I had her life. And then I snapped back into reality and was so thankful that I am where I am. So instead of focusing on the negative, I decided to name 5 things that I'm thankful for.

1. My family. I know that's kind of cliche, but in a time where I see friends losing their parents, I can't help but be thankful for them. If you don't live near your parents, call them to say hello and tell them you love them. Trust me, that's one thing you'll never regret.

  
2. My health. Somehow I'm sick for the 5th time this flu season, but I can handle a few runny noses and sore throats. I'm just thankful that I'm healthy enough to use my legs to run and my arms to lift weights. It's much too often that I degrade my body, so instead I'm going to praise it today.

3. My friends. Seriously, I don't know where I'd be without them. I don't tell them nearly enough either. Their friendships mean the world to me.



4. My education. I complain and cry way too much when it comes to my classes. I can't help it- they stress me out. But there are too many people that don't have this opportunity for one reason or another. So I'm thankful that I have the motivation and a great support system to get me through.

5. My past. You guys, my life is really good right now. And there are so many days where I'm afraid something horrible is going to happen because that's just what I'm used to. I have to constantly remind myself that the bad is gone. Of course, crappy things will still happen, but it won't be a constant like it had been. You have to get through the rain to see the rainbow, right? 

So there we go. I needed to write that. And I encourage you to do the same. Like I said in my first post, it's taken me a long time to get where I am. So just know that whatever you're going through, it's just a phase & it won't last forever. It's ok if you can't find one positive thing right now, or are going through a breakup, or are fighting with someone you love, or are struggling to get pregnant, or haven't figured out what you want to do with your life. This too shall pass! And trust me, there's a reason for it all. :)

XO

Friday, February 12, 2016

Take me there! Part 1.

*FYI: In a battle of me vs. Photoshop, I lose. Every time. 
So instead of a cute collage, this post is coming to you straight up the old-fashioned way. ;)

I struggled making this list, because honestly, how can you narrow it down to just 5 places that you want to visit? Hence, why this is only part 1.

Seattle
Ever since I can remember, this has been the number one place I've wanted to visit. And here's the kicker... It's because of the movie Sleepless in Seattle. Does that make me lame? I don't really care. Maybe I'll be fully disappointed once I'm there, but something tells me that I won't be. 


Paris, France
 Does this one really need an explanation? Amour.


Queensland, Australia
Just look at that picture. Between the city and the beach, I feel like you can't go wrong. Plus, The Great Barrier Reef. Enough said.


Montana
I have friends who visited last summer and had nothing but positive things to say. I mean, how could they not? And not to mention that their pictures were to-die-for! Yellowstone and Glacier National Park are a must see.


Fiji
Does this one need an explanation either? A hut over the water? 
Um. Yes, please! How cool would that be?


Something I've really always wanted to do, though? Travel to all 50 states. We have so much beauty that is right here in our backyard! I need to get on that. ASAP.

XO

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Super Bowl

On Monday morning, when this post was originally supposed to go up, I realized that I should have actually posted it last week. Oops. I never promised to be efficient. Anyway...

I Snap Chatted (you can follow along: el_michelle86) my two Super Bowl dishes on Sunday, and a few friends/family members asked for the recipes. So, I decided to share them on here.


My take on the recipe:

2 - 10oz cans chicken breast
1- 8oz package of softened cream cheese
1/2 cup - Ranch dressing
1/2 cup - Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/2 cup (or your desired amount) - Shredded Mexican cheese blend

Combine all of the ingredients together, bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. You can add a little extra shredded cheese to the top and bake for one more minute, if desired. I serve the dip with tortilla chips. But the past few times I have made it, I've dipped cucumbers and carrots in it for less carbs. It's actually just as delicious because you're still getting the crunch! ;)

Cookies and Cream Football Dip

For the dip:
1 - 8oz package of softened cream cheese
1 & 1/2 cups - Powdered sugar
1 stick - softened, room temperature butter
16 crushed Oreos (I added 18 this time)

Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and butter together. Set aside a few tablespoons for the laces later (I actually cheated and bought cream cheese frosting for the laces, though). Mix in the crushed Oreos. Put the mix onto desired serving dish or wax paper, shape into a football.

For the topping:
4 Oreos (open and scrape the filling out)
2 teaspoons - Cocoa powder

Finely crush the Oreos and mix with cocoa powder. Spread the topping all over the football mix to completely cover it. Use the remaining cream cheese frosting to create your laces on top. 

We used Nilla Wafers, Oreos, and pretzels to dip, but I'm sure any kind of cookie or graham cracker would taste delicious.


Can we talk about how proud I am of this dip? Also, how adorable is that serving dish!?

I think I'm going to make it again for Easter. I want to use the dip as dirt, and put bunnies and carrot shapes around it. We'll see how that turns out- I'll be sure to share!

I hope everyone had a fun Super Bowl Sunday! That day is up there with Thanksgiving and Christmas for me. Next year, though, I'm taking Monday off! :)

XO





Thursday, February 4, 2016

Real Life


I started this blog with the hope that I could reach out to people that are going through both good and bad times in their life. I know that I won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I pride myself on being a pretty relatable person.

I live an ordinary life. I'm the youngest of three girls. I have a loud Italian family. I've fought with my siblings. I was teased growing up. I've hated my body. I've loved my body. I've traveled some, but not enough. I've had best friend drama. I went to college. I moved away from home. I got married. I got divorced [that was hard for me to type "out loud"]. I moved back home. I started grad school. I figured out who I am [let's be real, though. Do we ever really know who we are?] And all of that before the age of 30. 

In the spaces between all of those moments, though, I have lived my life. So while I know I'll talk about all of the things that I wrote above, I also want to talk about the in-between. The moments that are so overwhelmingly wonderful, and gut-wrenchingly hard. The days where you're sure nothing will ever go right. Or the days that are going so right, you're scared out of your mind. I can list so many of those days off of the top of my head. Those are the stories that I want to share. I want to be real and honest. Because on all of those good and bad days, I would've killed for honesty. To know that I wasn't alone in those feelings. THAT is exactly what I needed. THAT is why I started this blog. And THAT is what I hope to be for all of you.


XO,

Lauren




Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Zip Lining

Last March, I traveled to St. Lucia with my work family. While there, I got to cross a few things off of my 30 before 30 list. One of them being zip lining...


I only got a few pictures, because I was afraid to carry my cell phone and drop it. Ya know, because I was holding on so dang tight to the rope.


 It was such a neat experience, though! We went through the rainforest, and it was absolutely gorgeous! I think it was the perfect first experience for me since we were high up, but not too high. ;) 


Side note: These pictures just don't quite do it justice. But at least I have it captured in my memory! :)

I've heard that the zip lining in Costa Rica is amazing (and a bit more adventurous). I think I'll add that to my bucket list!

XO,

Lauren