Little Known Fact….

I do a lot of reading about financial health mostly online but intermittently I will read a book or two. One of my favorite blogs is Daily Worth which is a financial blog that is geared towards women. I am no guru in investing in fact I can barely define the word. I am also no big time money maker….I mean I am a nurse for gosh darn sakes. What I am good at though is saving money. I can save money like my life depends on it!!! Anyways, this is besides the point. Over the past month in my readings I read a lot about gratitude and wealth.

These articles tout that the more grateful you are in life the more money that you will make! I am not sure that I buy that but what I do believe is that changing how you think about the world and your life no matter how slightly towards the positive will open you up to opportunities that you did not see before.

I think it is easy in life to get caught up in what is not going well or what you do not have. In reality we are far luckier then we know, it is all about what we choose to focus on. I unfortunately fall victim to the glass is half empty instead of half full more often then not.

I know for me my job is a big point of contention. I am an ER nurse in a busy city hospital. I get to see both the best and the worst of humanity….unfortunately I tend to see more of the worst of what we have to offer as humans on a daily basis. I am underpaid, under appreciated and often overwhelmed. Being in this environment has taken a toll on my outlook. Before I tell you about what I am doing this year to change my outlook on others and life I would like to share with you something that very few people know about me.

One thing that I have always done even as a kid that has helped me feel both grateful and loved is that I have saved almost every single card that has ever been given to me. Now a days in the world of email, text and Facebook I find cards that I receive even that much more special. To me it is someone that cared enough about you that they took the time to buy a card, write something thoughtful and either mail or hand deliver to you. I have boxes upon boxes of cards that I have acquired over the years. Last year though I decided that being able to see the cards on a daily basis would just make me happy and it does. Every time I look at all the cards that I have received over the year I just feel loved and happy.

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My card display that is on the back wall of my bedroom. Can’t you feel the love!!

As part of my new year’s resolutions I have decided to start a gratitude journal where I write down one thing I am grateful for everyday. They say it takes 21 days to build a habit. I have coffee every morning to start off the day so I decide that the first thing that I would do after sitting down with my coffee is to write in my gratitude journal. I figured the easiest way to build this habit is just to add upon something that I already do on a daily basis.

Shortly, after starting this task my sisters also started their version of a gratitude journal. It is called a 100happydays. This is a free program where you submit a picture of something that makes you happy everyday. It can be anything!! Meeting up with friends, your morning cup of coffee. All you have to do is take a picture of it and then post with the #100happydays. You can be as public or private as you want to be. You can post the pictures to Instagram, twitter or Facebook. If you choose to be more private about your happiness you can just email the picture to the group running the 100happydays program!! I was excited about this for two reasons. For one because my sisters were doing it and the other because it is easier to keep your goals and build good habits when you know that someone else is counting on you.

So I challenge you to shift your outlook on life by writing down or taking a picture of one thing your are grateful for each day for the next 30 days. See how starting your day off in a more positive way affects the rest of your day. You have absolutely nothing to lose honestly…except being a little happier for what you have and where you are going.

J is for Judy

I met J is for Judy in nursing school. We were classmates. From the very first moment I met Judy she had me in stitches laughing. Judy is just one of those people that you just want to be around. If you could imagine doing a program in nine months that normally takes people two years you may start to understand the stress that nursing school had on us. Always overwhelmed, tired and annoyed at our program there was a lot to talk about. Judy had a way of taking these nuancies of nursing school and making them a laughing matter. Her frank honesty, slight cynicism  and humor made school a whole lot easier to get through.

After nursing school Judy moved to Las Vegas and I stayed in Virginia. Some how we both found CrossFit, Paleo and Blogs. I urge you to check out her blog J is for Judy. You won’t be disappointed. On her website you will find unique, easy and tasty Paleo recipes, adventures in CrossFit and product reviews. She also includes life adventures to include her experiences as a military wife, dog owner, and much more. Lastly, every week you have the mid-week mixer to look forward to. This is where she shows you how to make a completely new mixed drink using fresh ingredients. Um…how can you not check out her blog!! To entice you even more I often my find myself in a fit of silent giggles reading her blog. Her slight inappropriateness and blunt honesty won’t  disappoint. What are you waiting for go check it out for yourself: J is for Judy

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P.S. Her name isn’t really Judy 😉

Thanksgiving in Pictures……

With my job I have to work lots of holidays. To add insult to injury my husband is a firefighter and he also has to work holidays. I always try to work the same holidays that he works but it doesn’t always line up. Anyways I was supposed to work Thanksgiving and I signed up to work that day but miraculously I got the day off. I worked the day before and the three days after so there was no chance of us going to see family for the holiday. Ironically, I was able to weasel my way out of working Thanksgiving last year as well and it was the first time in my adult life that I have ever cooked a turkey. I thought this year that since it was just my husband and I, that we would give the Paleo Turkey Day a try. Here is our thanksgiving feast in pictures!! Enjoy.

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My day started out by receiving beautiful flowers from my husband…”just because”…..nice way to start out the day

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Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce (so good!!! Just like the can 😉 Not really, but one year my mom spent hours making homemade cranberry sauce and when we all tasted it she asked if it was any good. Within the next breath she was like, does it taste like it’s from the can? So it has been a running joke in our house.

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Can’t have turkey day without a turkey!!!

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or stuffing for that matter. This no bread allowed stuffing was delicious. I have never been a stuffing fan but I could eat this all year round!!

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And there were veggies. My husband made the green beans with feta and I made the roasted broccoli with crisp prosciutto and balsamic vinegar. Both were yummy and the green beans tasted even better as leftovers.

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Yum!!!

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Of course I couldn’t let Thanksgiving end without my favorite meal of the day…DESSERT!!! What you are looking at here are two incredible desserts that are more or less pretty darn healthy. To the left is paleo pumpkin, coconut & maple custard cups (which by the way came out amazing…just like pumpkin pie but better) and to the right I have chunky monkey “ice cream” bon bons. I was amazed at how easy the bon bons were to make. The “ice cream” is just frozen pureed bananas. Genius.

All of my recipes with the exception of the stuffing came from nom nom paleo. I was in awe at how easy the recipes were to follow. Each recipe had step by step instructions with pictures!! I highly recommend checking out her website and new cookbook.

And what holiday is not complete without dressing up your dog……

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She loves it…..I swear 😉

Chicken Poblano Chicken Chowder

Over the past weeks I have noticed a couple of things about myself. The first is that I am starting to enjoy cooking and the second is that I am becoming both a better and more opinionated chef. I know that I am enjoying cooking more because for one I do it more often. For the last five years, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to cook dinner 1 – 2 times a week. By the time it was on the “resolution” list for the fifth year….my husband would answer with a sarcastic “OK” and a little roll of the eyes knowing in his heart of hearts that he was going to be responsible for most if not all of the cooking duties. Now I regularly cook on my days off and want to cook. One of my main reasons for cooking is that I like variety….its the spice of life…..my husband on the other hand could probably eat the same meal everyday for the next 20 years. At some point I got tired of having tacos three times a week!! I also like knowing that all my food is fresh and nutritious. I know exactly what went into the food…..something that you will never know when you eat out.

Secondly I think I am finally becoming a better chef which means all of my years of watching Top Chef religiously is paying off!!! Yes!!!. I was never a bad cook. I could follow a recipe fine. Most of the food I would make came out relatively well but all I could do was follow the recipe. I would pretty much have a melt down if I was unable to repeat the recipe exactly….I mean like two year old on the floor….tears kinda meltdown…..embarrassing…um yes…Now a-days, not only are there no meltdowns if I forget an ingredient but I know how to sub for it on the fly. Lastly, if  a recipe didn’t come out well, I would blame myself. Not only do I not blame myself but I have ideas about how to make the recipe better in the future.

With that said…..I still look for relatively simple and short recipes. While I am enjoying cooking I do not want to spend all day doing it. This latest recipe Chicken Poblano Chicken Chowder was according to my husband “The best soup I have ever tasted”. The only drawbacks to the recipe was that the directions were kind of confusing and it took longer to cook then advertised.  Instead of using the “dutch oven” as suggested I just steamed the cauliflower and then used the frying pan for the bacon and chicken.

The recipe from the “Nourished” application states that prep time for this recipe was 15 minutes and cooking was only 40 minutes. Well that was a lie. All and all it took about 1.5hrs with two people cooking and chopping in the kitchen.  The recipes also fails to incorporate into the cooking time that the poblano peppers have to already be roasted. By the way it takes an hour to roast Poblano peppers in the oven. We didn’t have that kind of time so we just sautéed them in the skillet. Not perfect but it worked fine. Be sure to include the peppers though!! They really add to the flavor of the soup. Even though this soup takes longer then advertised it is well worth it and it is definitely one we would make again. I probably would choose to start cooking at like 430pm and not 6:00pm….whooops.

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Although my cooking has improved, my presentation has not….. It tasted just as good in a tupperware dish as it would have in a pretty bowl.

Beauty and the Beast

The reason that I decided to give CrossFit a try almost a year ago today was mostly aesthetic. I was not really getting the results that I wanted from my personal trainer and the classes offered at the gym. The main reason I was not getting results is that I was not going to the gym on a regular basis. It was not fun. I remember every “body pump” class I went to that I would look at the clock almost every five minutes to see “how much longer.” When you dread doing something…..well you don’t do it.

When I started CrossFit I was in awe at how sore and short of breath I was even after a ten minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible). At first my motivation for going to CrossFit was that I knew it was going to be a good workout and that I was inching one step closer to my aesthetic goals. I knew that I was going to work hard the whole time. When I had a personal trainer I knew how to hit a topic that they enjoyed talking about, hence distracting them from the task at hand (I was a master at that). At CrossFit there is no talking during the workout. There is a timer, a task and competition. Nothing makes me work harder then competition either with myself, the clock or others.

As I started to attend CrossFit more and more it started to become less about how in shape I was going to get but what I was going to be able to do. It started to become more about how much weight I was gonna clean or how many ring rows could I do in a row. Then something crazy happened. I stopped worrying about how I was looking all together because I knew that I was working my butt off, I was going to the gym consistently and I was getting better. CrossFit has gotten me to not only go to the gyms on a consistent basis but to want to go. CrossFit has not only given me fitness but also self-confidence. I know I am not alone in this transformation by this video that I found on NClab

Check out this AMAZING and INSPIRATIONAL video below:

Water, Water everywhere but not a drop of it I drink

I am pretty sure that I have been consistently dehydrated since I was 10 years old. I have never liked drinking water and I am not sure if I ever will. I remember as a young gymnast filling up my one gallon jug water bottle religiously before every practice and then dumping it all out when I got home. I hardly ever drank more then a couple of sips. I do not ever remember being thirsty despite never drinking wanter. I just remember the more water I drank the more I had to pee which seemed like a rather large inconvenience to me so I just chose not to drink water.

I have followed along this path of abstaining from water ever since I can remember. In fact the few times I ventured out to drink more water I was welcomed by more thirst. This seemed absolutely ludicrous to me. This was probably my body rejoicing in joy at finally being given something it had craved for years. I would have merrily gone on my way abstaining from water as much as possible until two daily life events collided: Nursing and CrossFit. I have never been so dehydrated in my life since I began a career in nursing especially in the job I work now which requires rotating shifts. This picture below pretty much explains why I am dehydrated 24-7:

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I used to be a morning person but having to switch my work schedule around from mornings, evenings to nights and then back has confused my body so much I am not sure what “time of the day” person I am any more. I never used to drink coffee ever….unless you count a white chocolate mocha with a generous helping of whip cream from Starbucks….pretty sure that doesn’t qualify as coffee. Anyways, when I began night shift I was afraid that I would fall asleep on the job so I would drink as many cups as possible before the shift to the point where my hands were physically shaking. I didn’t even like the taste at first. I would fill about half the cup with cream or milk and like a pound of sugar to make it tolerable. Now a days  I drink coffee with coconut milk and no sugar.  Each day I drink at least two cups prior to any shift I work. I have always had aspirations to drink water at work but it never happens because it is always so crazy. Somedays  I am lucky to get a lunch break. On the abnormally crazy days my arrival home  is followed with a large glass of wine. A couple of work days in a row and it is easy to see how and why I might be living in a dehydrated state.

Insult to injury is my new fitness regimen of CrossFit. I work out on average 4 times a week sweating more then I have ever sweat in the past. All of these things combined have led me to feel cotton mouthed during several workout over this last couple of months. You would have thought that feeling like I was in the middle of a Sahara desert for half the week would have motivated me to drink water, but you would be wrong.

The thing that has gotten me to drink more water is my competitive spirit!! I learned in the book “Becoming a Supple Leopard”  that “being dehydrated by even by 2% can cause a decrease in VO2 output of 5% to 10%.” What!! I am not doing as well as I could just because I am not drinking enough water!! For me to be only 2% dehydrated would be a miracle. It is funny how most of my life I have told myself “I should” drink more water but when I realized how much it was affecting my performance it became “I must.”

I am a goal setting nerd and I figured that the only way to get myself to drink more water was to set a goal. Of course there are applications now a days for everything so I downloaded the “Waterlogged” application. It is a free application that allows you to set your “water goals” for the day and then track your progress throughout the day. The goal is to fill up the water bottle for the day. I find it strangely satisfying and motivating to record my water for the day in order to fill the water bottle on the application. This is definitely an example of how setting measurable milestone will help you in reaching your overall goals.

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And with that I think I will go have a glass of water……………..

Ocean Salt

I love everything about CrossFit. If that is not obvious, then this must be your first time reading this blog and in that case welcome ;). Oh by the way….I love CrossFit. I have never sweated so much working out as I have in CrossFit.  Prior to CrossFit, upon returning from the  gym, my husband used to joke with me  if I had even been working out or if I had just gotten coffee instead because not only would there be no sweat but I would barely have a hair out of place. Now a days I am not only drenched with sweat after a workout but literally dripping. I love it!!! I feel like the sweat is my reward for working so hard.

Here comes the only draw back to CrossFit. Since I sweat so much my skin has been on a rampage ….boo!!! I have not had break-outs on my face since I can remember until I started CrossFit. Not cool….so not cool…..I have already been through those awkward teenage years….no need to re-live them.

Clearly I am not giving up CrossFit so I must find another way to solve this problem. A head-band may be an option but I have not gone there yet. I have though found a wonderful facial scrub. I have only used it twice but it has made such a noticeable difference I wanted to share it with the world. In trying to eat non-processed, natural foods it only made sense to try and use natural soaps and lotions. So far, I have experimented with products from the bath and body shop called LUSH. They make soaps, shampoos, lotions…you name it from fresh ingredients. All products are in a recycled bottle and all products have an expiration date (because they use fresh ingredients). I haven’t bought a product that I didn’t like. The items can be a bit pricey but everything lasts for a good amount of time. My only complaint is that some times that staff is a little too helpful. Sometimes I just like to browse in peace.

Anyways, I went to the store last week in hopes of finding a natural miracle to help with my skin…and I think I did. It is called Ocean Salt. It is a face and body scrub that is absolutely divine. It is not an every day wash maybe like twice a week but it has already made a remarkable change in my skin. You can feel the sea salt exfoliating the instant you put it on. My skin is silky smooth afterwards. Plus it smells like the ocean air and I love the beach!!!

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