Tuesday, December 4, 2012

.:date night in!:.

it's that time of year where every dollar counts, right?

i think it has been that time of year for me ever since....i graduated college. whether you are a recent college grad, pinching pennies to save for Christmas presents or just want to be more mindful of your spending (hello early New Year's resolution), here are a few good ideas for date nights IN!

while drew and i both have full-time jobs, we hold ourselves accountable for living within a budget to pay our bills, etc. well, as most of you probably know, living within a budget can be boring and can mean a lot of nights making your own food, doing your own dishes and probably watching a movie you've already seen, but we always try to get creative so we don't feel the urge to go out and spend money!

here are a few of ideas that we enjoy....

chicken for me, with a small piece of his steak....

steak for him--both are great with wine :)

breakfast for dinner--how fun and SO good!

zucchini lasagna--it's always fun to try something that you wouldn't typically make.
think of it as.....exotic???

it isn't often that we do crab legs, but when we do, it's for a special occasion
and WAY cheaper than getting it in the restaurant. bonus:. they're insanely easy to make!

when was the last time you had grilled cheese??? you can play around with
making it fancy by adding bacon, tomato, avocado. cheap, easy to make
and easy clean up! (yes, that is boxed wine, we keep it classy)

who doesn't love kabobs?! winter, spring or summer,
these are fun to put together and go well with beer or wine!

taco night--tacos are by far my favorite! try to switch it up,
make mexican lasagna or try yout hand at homemade guacamole!
 plus, it gives you an excuse to buy a couple
Coronas or make Margaritas! who can complain about that?

nerd alert:. Scrabble is our guilty pleasure, but it is actually really fun-
i had never played it before we dated! board games can be a fun competition
and if it's your style, you can throw in a few drinks and really make things interesting!

hello romance and s'mores! bonfires are great for playing music,
getting away from technology and just talking to each other!

another guilty pleasure:. how can you go out when you have such a good helper with the dishes?
ok, maybe all these ideas are lame to you, but we really enjoy staying in and keeping things simple (*read: save money*). we also like that we can make our own meals and keep them as healthy (or unhealthy) as we want. don't get me wrong, we have our lazy nights when we go grab Noodles or Chipotle in our sweats or when we want to dress up and go out for dinner at Stella's, but at the end of a busy work week, spending time together is what is most important!

other date night ideas on budget:. keep your eye open for Groupons, Living Social or Crowd Cut deals. on several occasions, we have bought these to make going out more affordable or to try a new restaurant. plus, they also have activities that may be fun to explore together!

any good date ideas that i am missing?! it's winter time and it would be nice to come up with some more ideas for these next few months of hibernating!

always striving for more,
dee b.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

i have never used my blog to vent, but i am going to take a small moment to get something off my chest.

i do not understand why i am always sick!!!!!!! in the past few months, i have had a double ear infection with strep, head cold, stomach flu (for the first time, ever) and recently diagnosed with strep, again. obviously, being sick isn't fun for anyone, but i REALLY hate being sick. i don't do well missing work, not being able to work out or doing stuff around the house; i pretty much suck at sitting still.

since drew and i started dating, we focused on holding each other accountable with getting enough sleep, having a healthy diet and getting enough exercise, but not too much. after being completely miserable at the end of July with the ear infections and strep, i really took initiative to take even better care of myself. i consistently get 7-9 hours of sleep, eat a ton of fresh produce, drinking green tea like it's going out of style, exercise plenty while giving myself rest days and wash my hands (i am the person at work who opens the bathroom door with a paper towel).

anyway, i feel like i deserve to be healthy and in the past few months, i have been more sick than healthy and i am unbelievably frustrated with it all. after getting diagnosed with strep this week, my Dr. decided that it would be best to consult with an allergist/immunologist to see if they can shed some light on what could possibly be going on. in the meantime, i get to continue 2 anitbiotics and continue doing what i am doing. 

thank you for empathizing with me just by reading this post. it is saturday and i am off to bed quite early. heaven forbid, i don't get 8 hours of sleep.....

always striving for more, 
dee b. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

afternoon pick-me-ups:.

if any of you are like me, you are probably close to being in a sugar comatose, thanks to Halloween. you also may feel like you are SO ready to get on a big health kick before the Holidays (after all, you don't want to be the one that the relatives 'poke' fun at.....again), BUT you are going to start after all the Halloween candy is gone.....right? i get it. before you reach for the 'almost empty' stash of Halloween candy, that is probably getting stale anyway (don't be ashamed, we've all done it), take some time to read this! i am a HUGE fan of snacking because eating 3 square meals a day is just boring. also, i sit in a cube all day and there are many moments of  'i'm bored, i think i'll eat'.

here are a few of my favorites (when i am doing myself a favor):.
homemade green tea and orange

coffee and larabar (recently discovered these, awesome!)

chobani, anyone? i told you these were a staple!

roasted and salted almonds (tip:. do not bring the entire bag to work with you...)

side salad with LOTS of veggies--it's like having 2 lunches!

unfortunately, i wasn't able to capture the candy bars, cheez-its or office cupcakes, but you guys get the picture, right? other favorites are apples (with or w/o almond butter), carrots, cottage cheese, string cheese and apple sauce. 

seriously, i am horribly guilty of having my tough afternoons when i hit up the vending machine or a co-worker's candy dish in a moment of vulnerability, but overall, i try to keep it light and healthy. i feel more energetic and focused to finished out the day. recently, i was reading an article that discussed how to avoid the after lunch or late afternoon crash (you know exactly what i am referring to--total post grad problem) and the suggestion wasn't a 5 hour energy. the suggestion was to keep it light; what do you feel like eating in the middle of summer? aside from ice cream, most of the time it isn't going to be a carb loaded, sugar ridden food, but rather something light and citrusy. by keeping it light, you will most likely be eating a food that will provide a steady release of sugar avoiding that rapid spike and dramatic crash (that 5 hour energy moment). think fresh fruit and veggies, green tea (especially if you are sensitive to caffeine in the afternoon), yogurt, pistachios, or a granola bar. extra bonus, if it is a source of protein!

do you guys have any suggestions for me to expand my afternoon pick-me-ups? 

always striving for more,
dee b.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

a healthy fridge!

several times i have been asked, 'what do you eat?', 'i need help eating healthier' or my favorite, 'what the heck are you eating now?'. i'm not writing this post to declare that i am the cleanest and healthiest  eater. i'm 23 years old, i still live for happy hours, late nights and quick meals on the go. so, i am writing this post to help with a few guidelines and maybe help you with making healthier substitutions at the grocery store! 

ok, let's start at the top of the fridge. cottage cheese is wonderful for many reasons. you can eat it plain or mix it with fruit or veggies and it is packed with casein protein-a slow digesting protein. note: i try stay away from anything that straight 'low fat' or 'fat free'. read it as 'filled with junky air to make it less dense'. you can barely see it the top right corner, but it's a carton of Archer Farm organic brown eggs. another great source of protein and it REALLY helps that the chickens were fed well (i am hoping to write another post soon about what is worth buying organic and what you can buy from a conventional source). no, i didn't purposely skip over the 'to-go' box hoping you would miss it, it's probably left overs from a happy hour. again, i am not proclaiming to be perfect. the other tupper-ware is my salad for lunch! however, i will not take responsibility for the Red Bull that is tucked away on the left, i am not a fan of energy drinks!

moving down to the second row. Chobani is a staple around our house. It is packed with protein and awesome on the go for breakfast, before a workout, or to hold you over until dinner time. they are SO yummy and SO much better for you than it's popular competitor, Yoplait. i know, it can be hard to swallow paying over $1 for a yogurt, but your body deserves it, trust me! besides all that Chobani, there is a pack of edamame, one of my favorite snacks to have while i sit in my cube. this is a great snack heated up a bit with some soy sauce and sea salt! beneath the edamame is tortellini. we try to keep a small stock of 'quick' meals on nights we work out late or find better things to do than cook. next up is meat and poultry. drew and i love to hit up the local Trader Joe's for our meat. the prices are reasonable for great organic, grass fed meat and chicken. here, i believe we have ground hamburger, various cuts of chicken and porks, stuffed and regular. now that we have gone organic with our meat, i don't think we will ever go back! meat is one thing that is worth splurging to buy organic or grass-fed. happy animals=happy, nutritious  meat!

deli drawer--this can get a little random, but we can never go without string cheese! another good source of quick protein (notice a trend here?). most of the time we also have a bag or two of shredded cheese and/or a pack of tortillas!

bottom shelf--here is obviously where our bigger stuff resides. drew drinks whole milk while i enjoy coconut milk. reasoning behind this? i eat a lot of dairy between yogurt and string cheese, so i try to cut down on dairy by drinking coconut milk. plus, it makes my morning oatmeal taste SO much better. the whole milk? well, that is what drew likes, so that is what drew gets :)

kefir! as you can see we love kefir just about as much as we love Chobani. kefir is a great probiotic for gut health/digestion, it also is an awesome compliment to any breakfast as well as a something to put in your stomach without actually 'eating'. while plain kefir is recommended (less sugar), we cannot stop buying the fruity stuff, especially raspberry or blueberry. when trying kefir for the first time, do yourself a favor, buy a flavored one. plain kefir can be a little tart since it is essentially fermented yogurt, but i promise it is delicious and your tummy will thank you! i think there is a pitcher of green tea off to left. i LOVE keeping a pitcher of green tea on hand, it's cheap and easy to make and it's a nice alternative to pop, coffee, and water. plus, no one can deny the mile long list of benefits you can get from green tea!

last, but certainly not least, the 'crisper' drawers--i can get strategic about what i put in these because i don't want it to go to waste! in this picture, i believe there is a mixture of produce from Trader Joe's and Target! there is for sure a bag of organic kale, it's my newest addiction!  this particular trip, i know i picked up cucumbers, grape tomatoes, brussel sprouts (cannot get enough), yellow onion and most likely carrots. when i am buying produce, i try to buy items that can be used multiple ways (i.e in a salad, can be steam/grilled/baked as a side or maybe just something to munch on in my cube). this saves waste and money! a future goal for myself to expand my produce list beyond the 'typical' and force myself to find a way to use it!

now you may know a little more about our diet than what you may like, but we do take pride in stocking our fridge with quality food! while we may be struggling to still get 'our feet beneath us' after graduation, we found that we would much rather spend extra money on groceries than we would on clothes or 'material' things. (i know, hard to believe for those of you that knew me through college!).

either way, i hope this can somewhat help you next time you hit the grocery store!

always striving for more,

dee b.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

.:my LAST 1/2 marathon:.

when i signed up for this race, i didn't expect it to be my last one. while i wasn't surprised when my doctor told me that after this race i needed to quit running and take on less impact activities,  i had a 'minor' freak out. what was i going to do with all the time that i had spent running? how was i going to stay in shape and more importantly, how was i going to 'escape' to keep my sanity?'.

i began cherishing every training run and every run resonated emotions that i have ever noticed before. i found myself in tears, more than once, running my typical route to my typical playlist not only realizing that these moments were limited, but also frustrated. i was frustrated that my knee was having a hard time keeping up with the rest of my body. i knew my knee was bad, but apparently, i was ignorant at how rapidly it was deteriorating with every mile that i had ran. as the run became closer, my training transitioned to the elliptical. three weeks before, i was feeling confident that i would be able to at least finish strong....and then i got sick with strep and a double ear infection. needless to say, by the time i hit the starting line, i wasn't running for a PR anymore, i was running to finish. my only goal now was to run the entire way.

the morning of the run, my mom, brother and i drove to the starting corrals (in a Camaro, might i add-my brother knows people, nbd). we stretched, hit the restrooms and said a prayer before joining the rest of the runners. my brother headed to the front of the pack, knowing he was going to kick ass, while my mom and i hovered in the 2 hour time group reminsicing about my first race, our first race and how this crazy world of running brought us closer. 

the course was absolutely breathtaking. from the streets of Vancouver, to the Redwood trees of Stanley Park and along the seawall of the coast, the views were spectacular. Lululemon did a great job keeping us entertained along the 13.1 miles. there were neon people rappelling off the Lululemon factory, mermaids hanging out by the bay and our turn around point was in front of the FIRST Lululemon store, cool, right? thank goodness the views were great because it helped take my mind off how not in shape i was. even after 6-ish ibuprofen, my knee was stiff and sore by mile 4 and it all went downhill from there. i honestly can't even remember our time, it defintely wasn't a PR, but i ran the entire way, thanks to my mom! my mom was an awesome companion, either staying by my side or going ahead a few steps to keep pushing me. and my brother? he killed it coming in around 1:36. what a stud!

of course, i have pictures to share:.
obviously, still feeling good....

in the zone:.

contemplating how much that sucked...
his first and last time coming to my running events
we did it!

honestly, i thought i was going to have a lot of emotions over not running anymore, most of them being sad, but the way my body felt after this run made it easier to walk away. it's been 6 weeks since i last ran and my knee has never felt better (ok, maybe it did when i was 14). i am grateful for everything that running has done for me. from weight loss, to being a great transition out of competitive sports and to seeing beautiful scenery, i realize that i am stronger mentally and physically to move on yet again to something better for my knees. as my brother keeps getting himself more involved in the running world and my mom continues to succeed in her journey, i'm not jealous or bitter, but i am happy for them. i hope running brings them all the things that it brought me.

always striving for more,
dee b.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

.:Summer Vacation 2012:.

i have been trying to think on how i want to recap our vacation in Seattle and Vancouver last month, but i decided the best way to do that is through pictures!!!! you guys don't want to read a novel on how awesome it was, you'd rather see it, right???


lovely link ride in Seattle after being up since 3:30 a.m.....
visiting Pike Place Market made the long day of traveling worth it! 

we HAD to wait in line to get coffee at the very 1st Starbucks....

we drove across the border to Vancouver.....in a mini-van.....

Canadian money is WAY prettier than US

our home for the week

Stanley Park:.
from Redwoods to walking along the bay, the sites were breathtaking. we decided to rent bikes and explore....


although we had to pile in the mini-van for a 2 1/2 hour drive to Whistler, it was the highlight of the vacation for all of us. while i could have done without the gondola rides and being suspended higher than comfortable, the views were completely worth it! 

home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. 
my oldest (yet little) brother.

party's here!
unbelievable, right?

wishing my feet were on the ground at this point.

another highlight for me was having the BEST mocha at a small shop called JJ Bean. we found it in the corner of the farmer's market on Granville Island. i had to make a special pitstop to get another one before we left!

this picture isn't great quality, but this was at dinner our last night in Vancouver. we haven't gone on vacation as a family for a few years and this was a first having all of us bring our significant other. honestly, i couldn't have imagined a better time! 

another highlight: this was mine and drew's first time going on vacation together. between catching flights, navigating in a new city and spending a lot of money traveling with someone, especially a significant other, can be nerve-wrecking. again, i couldn't have imagined a better vacation with him. we made so many new memories and inside jokes; he is the best traveling buddy, ever! i am really hoping we can afford to start traveling more soon! 

i am sure some of you may be wondering how the magnificent Inaugural Lululemon Seawheeze 1/2 marathon went, but unfortunately, you will have to wait for the next post. i have more pictures and stories to capture my last 1/2 marathon! i truly promise it won't take me long to get that post up, but until next time....

always striving for more, 
dee b.

Friday, August 24, 2012

.:my friends are better than yours:.

seriously, my friends deserved this post WAY sooner than now!

so my birthday has come and gone (approximately a month ago), but i haven't had the proper amount of time to devote to recap it-

23, no big deal, right? that's what i thought, but my friends had other ideas...

first off, i don't really believe in the whole 'birthday week' thing, but with that being said, i wish i would've spent my 'birthday week' any other way than being sick. being home from work just about all week with a double ear infection and strep throat, i was just hoping to be able to get off the couch in order to go to 'dinner' that drew had planned for us. little did i know, i was expected to do a lot more than dinner....

although still feeling a little under the weather (and not being able to hear out my left ear), i fully intended on making the best out of my birthday! one of my closest friends, lisa, took me out to breakfast at grandview (yum!). after breakfast, lizzie (drew's sister) and i hit the Mall of America! it may be possible that i probed lizzie a few times about what drew had planned for my birthday (we were celebrating it the day after, saturday), so i could get an appropriate outfit. lizzie did an extremely good job of acting very non-chalant about not knowing. anyway, when i got home from shopping drew had brought home some crab legs for dinner and we had a low key evening in.

saturday morning/afternoon, we had a blast goofing around at the science museum, watching a movie at the Omnitheater and having a wonderful lunch at cossetta's (highly recommended for all pizza/pasta lovers!).

after the science museum, lisa 'cleared' plans with drew to steal me for happy hour for a couple hours. me, being the casual, yoga pants wearing freak that i am, i went to happy hour pretty dressed down thinking i had an hour or so to finish getting ready before drew and i had dinner reservations, wrong!

on our way home from happy hour, drew had called me and told me to go in through the back door because his dad was working up front and had his tools out (this was the second reminder to go in the back, but i was oblivious because this was totally logical). when we pulled up in the back, lisa asked if she could come in and use the bathroom. lisa lives maybe a mile away from my house, but i didn't even think that this was a little weird, so i happily obliged!

well, i will let the pictures tell the rest....

lisa was always known as the mother figure throughout the college; from cooking to cleaning to making sure we were always healthy and happy! she is also the #1 planner and organizer.....i like to say that we balance each other out. a very special thank to lisa  for everything that you did to make sure my 23rd birthday was unforgettable. <3 

the ladies-thank you!

best friends since day 1 of kindergarten 

my totally awesome older brother and sister-in-law drove 2 hours to join in! not only did they  join in, but they brought our new addition, helen!

drew's mom and grandma, thank you for helping with the food!!! 
childhood neighbors, forever friends--such an amazing surprise that you made it!
still not believing that he pulled it off???

and last, but not least, a special thank you to Drewy, the old ball and chain

i think it is fair to say that i have an awesome group of friends and family who i am very grateful for--i could not have DREAMT of a better way to turn 23!


always striving for more,
dee b.

(not pictured, lizzie and all of her friends--super sweet of you guys to stop by :) )