06/24/17

6 years

2191 days since we met, and every day is better than the last…

One of our first dates in 2011

Happy first date anniversary, husband! This life together is just everything.

 

xoxo

06/23/17

How to make friends (and not get hashtagged #Targetstalker)

Have you seen this? Ball Pit Turns Strangers Into Friends
No? Go ahead and click on it. It’s only a few minutes and sooo worth the watch. I’ll wait.

……….. *this is me waiting*………….

Back? Great! What did you think? Amazing huh? Don’t you think we need more ball pits in the world?

I mean making friends when you’re a kid is SO easy. Whether it be a ball pit, playground, sandbox, or lunchroom table at school, making friends as a child pretty much consisted of 3 actions:

1. Make eye contact.
2. Laugh at something together, OR share something with each other, OR like something the other person has/is wearing/etc.
3. BFFs.

Of course there are those special exceptions, like when an adult forces you to be friends, like how I met my dear friend Meghan way back in once upon a time time (6th grade). Our teacher asked us if we would befriend this poor child who was just a social outcast in our class. I guess she pegged us as the “nice girls” and within moments we were game-planning how we would befriend the girl. Flash forward to 2017 and Meghan and I are still great friends.

Unfortunately, when the school and college days are over, and you’re faced with jobs, relationships, responsibilities and babies, making friends becomes a thousand times more complicated. And I don’t think it’s for lack of trying. It just becomes more of an awkward ordeal than when we were kids. I mean just try going up to that friendly looking individual walking around Target, gripping the same Starbucks drink as you are, and try to drum up a conversation about that stylish lamp in her shopping cart.

Suddenly you find yourself on her Twitter with a hashtag #Targetstalker.

Right now I’m very fortunate to have an awesome group of girlfriends whom I have met over the past few years (yes, as an adult!) that completely have my back, and can laugh with through all of our life adventures. Some of them I met through mutual friends; some through teaching or volunteering; others through blogging and social media! I have been lucky enough to have never had to follow someone around a grocery store. Yet. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

I’ve seen a lot of talk lately on social media about adult friendships. When the ball pit video was making the rounds, I knew something was definitely up. Maybe it’s more noticeable when you’re in your mid-30’s that making new friends IS quite the feat. Maybe it’s because by the time we’re in our 30’s we’ve lost friends, been hurt, etc. and we know how it could pan out, so we avoid it altogether? Maybe we feel like we just don’t have the time in our busy lives to get to know someone new.

However, when you realize that good friends are a necessity, you put the work into finding them, and cultivating them. Sometimes there’s an instant connection and no work is needed at all. Sometimes you feel the need to give a person an application. (I’ve never done this. Just for the record). 

Here are my tips for meeting new people, and making life long friends. I’m no friendship expert (I’ve had my share of disasters!), but maybe you’ll be able to take something from this post and get out there and mingle!

*Join a Meetup group, interest club, volunteer organization or sports league. Finding others with common interests is the best way to drum up conversations and make connections that will lead to potential long-lasting friendships. Oh, and make sure you talk to people and don’t just stand there like a statue. Smile, make eye contact, crack a joke or two. Otherwise you’ll end up on Instagram, yet again. Hashtag #weirdstatueperson

*Strike up a conversation with someone. I mean, ok, you could totally compliment Target lady about her lamp choice without potentially ending up on Twitter. But it’s necessary to learn how to feel people out. If she says “thanks” and walks away quickly, don’t follow her. If she says “thanks- I think it will go great with the color I just painted my living room”, feel free to proceed with step 2 and ask her about the color. Look for those natural opportunities to extend conversations.

*Use social media to your advantage. Branch out from online connections and find ways to get to know one another in real life! Make sure it’s mutual. For example: host a volunteer day (like volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House!) and invite some of your blogging buddies, or online fitness pals to come along. It’s a great way to do something nice for others while making some new friends! 

*Keep things no pressure. Friendships should progress naturally. Don’t expect to be BFF’s in a day.

*As relationships evolve from acquaintances to friends, always remember to be reliable, honest, loyal, trustworthy, a good listener and a good friend. What does it mean to be a good friend? It means you have something to bring to the table. Dumping all of your “woe to me’s” onto a person day in and day out is exhausting, and it will push people away. Friendships need a good balance of give and take. Make sure you recognize your own strengths and know what you can contribute.

*Choose your friends wisely. Don’t befriend someone just because. If a friendship becomes unhealthy, stressful or demanding, move on. There is no time for negativity and unhealthy relationships at our age!

*Introduce new friends to your current friends. That’s the easiest (and best) way to build a network of awesome people to surround yourself with!

Do you find you have trouble making friends as an adult?

 

06/20/17

Easy oven baked ribs

I can’t recall the first time I had ribs. 
But I remember NOT liking them.

I’m not much of a “eating meat off the bone” kind of lady, so gnawing on chicken wings, T-bone steaks, and ribs just isn’t my thing.

But then, I decided to play around with making a version at home and that’s when these delicious, tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs came into my life. 

And I was forever changed. 

These ribs are totally fool-proof, can be whipped up on a slow-paced Sunday afternoon, and are definitely a crowd-pleasing dish. You can serve the alongside a dollop of potato salad, or remove from the bone and serve over a bowl of creamy polenta. Mmmmmmmmm……..

The best news? If you omit any bbq sauce, these ribs are Paleo and low carb! Here’s the recipe! 

Foolproof ribs
Serves 2
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
3 hr 30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
3 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 full rack of pork baby back ribs
  2. 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  3. 2 tbsp. sea salt
  4. 1 tbsp. black pepper
  5. 1 tsp. red pepper flake (optional if you don't like heat)
  6. 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  7. 1 tbsp. onion powder
  8. 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  9. 1 tsp. chipotle powder
  10. 1 tbsp. liquid smoke
  11. the juice of 1 lime
  12. **Optional- your favorite bbq sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250(F).
For the rub
  1. Combine all of the seasonings together with the liquid smoke, lime juice, and coconut sugar. Mix with a fork until well combined. Set aside.
Prep the ribs
  1. On the back of the ribs there is a thin membrane to remove before cooking. I usually run a sharp knife down the enter length of the back of the ribs, then use a spoon to tuck under the white membrane and peel off. I usually use a knife to pry up a corner of the membrane, then I just pull it down the entire length of the ribs. It's ok if it tears, just find a new spot and repeat the spoon method again until it's all removed.
  2. When the membrane is removed, rinse the ribs and pat dry.
  3. Massage the rub on the front and back of the ribs. Wrap loosely but completely in foil, place on a sheet tray and bake at 275 for 3 hours. No peeking!
  4. At 3 hours, unwrap the ribs and turn up the oven to 350. Bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes. **If you like your ribs saucy, this would be the time to baste your ribs with your favorite bbq sauce.
  5. Finish outside on the grill to ensure a crispy exterior, or broil an additional 5 minutes on high heat watching carefully not to burn the ribs. Enjoy!
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06/19/17

Currently: June edition

Hi friends! June has been a super busy and eventful month so far, and we’re only halfway through! 

First things first… wedding pictures have arrived and I am completely in L-O-V-E all over again!

Goodness, gracious. Kristen Marie Photography is incredibly talented, right? Swoon! Don’t worry- I’ll be sharing more later on this week. ๐Ÿ™‚

Last week I was in Chicago for work and Brian flew up to spend a long weekend with me after my work retreat concluded. It was the perfect weekend getaway and we totally made the most of those three days! Not only did we see the sights of Chicago, but we also caught a Cub’s game AND a Dave & Tim concert! My favorite part of the weekend was definitely going to Wrigley. 

I grew up a baseball fan because my grandfather, Aurelio (Abuelito) was a fan. He taught me the rules, who to root for and why, and how to fall in love with the game. We’d play catch and home run derby at Horizon Park and I learned to love to play the game too. He was a HUGE fan of the Yankees, the Braves, and Cubs. I have fond memories of sitting on the recliners of my grandparent’s house watching the Cubbies play on WGN. Abuelito taught me all of the names of the players, and how to read the stats. We would sit and cheer on Sandberg, Maddux, Dawson, and Grace while snacking on Bugles and Yoo-hoo. We collected baseball cards and Starting Line-Ups, and drove to Fulton County Stadium as often as we could to watch the Braves. He DREAMED of coming to Wrigley one day. To sing along with Harry Caray and admire the Ivy. He never got the chance to, but I hope, in some way, he is here with me today (that’s him in the picture on my phone). As I sat on those historic seats, all that I kept thinking in my head was “I made it to Wrigley, Abuelito!”

Last week I also wrapped up promoting an amazing event with Scotties Tissues

Back for their 4th year, Scotties Facial Tissues partnered with animal rescue organization up and down the east coast in an effort to get eligible cats and kittens into loving adoptive homes. Each organization – The Animal Protective Foundation (Albany, NY), Boston MSPCA (Boston, MA), and the Humane Society of Tampa Bay (Tampa, FL) all received $5,000 each to go towards the re-homing of cats. 

I’m SO happy to report that during that event over 400 cats and kittens have gone into loving forever homes! Thanks to all of my fabulous Orangespoken readers who helped to share the event details. We couldn’t have done it without you! And congratulations to Gina M.! You won a $25 Amazon gift card and a Scotties tissue care package for helping to spread the word! Check your email for more details ๐Ÿ™‚

And last but not least… a little confession time! 

No, no, I’m not recreating a Mrs. Doubtfire scene… just trying out a new-to-me skin product! Here’s my confession: I don’t have a skincare regimen. Call it lazy (or call it cheap!), this is just not an area I have prioritized. My go-to has been washing my face with soap or body wash, then slapping on a layer of BB cream with sunscreen or tinted moisturizer before heading out the door. As I approach my 38th trip around the sun next week, I decided to dive in and start taking better care of my skin. After chatting with my friend Mary Kay by Loren, she helped me choose the perfect Mary Kay products for my dry/normal skin. For $45 I purchased the botanicals kit (pictured on the left below) which includes a foaming cleanser, mud mask (pictured above), a refreshing serum, and a daily cream! She also gave me samples of their Timewise kit to try out (aimed at preventing or addressing imperfections and damage from the sun or aging). I love that a small amount of each of the products goes such a long way too! I decided to go ahead and take her 21 day skincare challenge as a birthday gift for myself this year.

Loren has some AMAZING deals going on right now if you’re looking to try out a skincare kit for 21 days! You can receive the Botanicals kit I purchased for $45 ($58 retail), the Clearproof acne kit for $40 ($45 retail), The Timewise Miracle Anti-aging set for $82 ($95 retail), or the Timewise Repair and Reverse set for $185 ($205 retail). All you have to do is choose the skincare line that fits your needs, purchase it at the discounted price, use the products for 21 days (twice a day), take a before and after picture, and leave Loren a review on her Facebook page once the challenge is done! The best news? Your products will last long after the 21 days is through! 

On and here’s my post-mask face. ๐Ÿ˜‰ So fresh and so clean clean. 

So what’s new with you, friends? 

 

06/12/17

How to make a healthy bowl for dinner!

Out of all the searches that drive readers to my blog, the top search phrase has always been “healthy cooking for beginners” (click here for my healthy cooking 101 post!).

I get a LOT of questions about how to meal plan, how to shop and how to cook. Iโ€™ve had people tell me that their eating habits are horrible because they โ€œcanโ€™t cookโ€, and resort to pre-packaged foods, fast food and dining out. Iโ€™ve heard this on the blog, social media and even in person. 

Well, Iโ€™m here to tell you that healthy cooking is EASY. No seriously, I promise! It all comes down to confidence, planning, effort, and resilience! Continue reading

06/1/17

Oat Flour Pancakes

I first saw pancakes made with oat flour (ground up oatmeal!) a few years ago. I remember trying them and being floored at just how delicious they were! I made them so much that I kinda grew tired of pancakes! (I know what you’re thinking- how? HOW?!).

Until today. 

These fluffy flapjacks are gluten free, refined sugar free and full of flavor! Here’s the recipe: Continue reading

06/1/17

Tampa Cat Adoption event w/ Scotties! #Giveaway

I grew up being a dog owner. 
And we had a LOT of them: Sugar, Coach, Chloe, Claire, and Shadow (who is still here with us today!).
From the day I was born, a dog was part of our family and so owning (and loving!) a cat was never on my radar. 
 
It wasn’t until I moved in with my (now) husband, that I became a cat owner. It started as just something I would try because Brian loved cats and always had one growing up. I was hesitant, but decided to give it a shot. 
One cat turned into two cats, and now, I feel like I can call myself a tried-and-true real life cat person! 

Continue reading

05/29/17

Chipotle sweet potato fries with Chimichurri aioli

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope you are having a restful long weekend celebrating with family and friends, and remembering those who lost their lives for the freedom to do so. <3

Whether you are looking for something to whip up this afternoon to go alongside your grilled burgers or steaks, or if you would like to bookmark this recipe for the future, these sweet potato fries are going to be a HIT whenever you make them!

They are spicy and flavorful and are a perfect, PERFECT match to my cool chimichurri aioli dipping sauce. 

Not a fan of spice? Feel free to half the amount of chipotle or cayenne pepper in the coating. They will still be delicious! Continue reading

05/25/17

Stretching and Massage with DeepRecovery.com (#giveaway)

Disclaimer: I’m not a physical fitness expert, so please consult your doctor prior to starting any form of physical exercise or change to your diet and/or lifestyle. 

Stretching is NOT something I’m good at. 

Let me rephrase- I know how to stretch, but I don’t always dedicate the time and effort to stretch!

Why? Who knows. Sometimes I forget, sometimes I feel like it’s too time consuming. Sometimes I feel like it HURTS and so I avoid it (hello foam rolling and deep tissue massage!). But I NEED to make a better effort to work on flexibility and healing every day.  Continue reading

05/25/17

Honeymooning (and a honeymoon-inspired recipe!)

When we first began planning our wedding, I was on the fence about going on a honeymoon.

I was just about to begin a travel-heavy new career, and the thought of taking off right after the wedding (and right before a super busy travel month in May) wasn’t appealing.

But the more we thought about it, and the more we talked about it, we realized that going on a honeymoon meant something to us. 

Your honeymoon tells the world, and maybe you, who you are. -Ginger Strand

We had a beautiful 5 years of dating,  Continue reading