Vacation: From Washington DC to South Carolina- Days 1 & 2

Hey all!

It’s been a while since I’ve ventured to these parts, and while I’ve missed my outlet to share what’s been going on, life and food wise, we’ve been busy!

We recently just came back from a much needed and wonderful vacation, with which I’d like to share with you all!

Vacation, whether it be going away or staying close to home, is needed in this busy, sometimes stressful world we live in. We all work hard, both inside and outside of our homes, and leaving the normal responsibilities of life behind, even just for a little bit, definitely puts some pep back in all our steps!

I’ll be breaking our vacation down into different posts, to not inundate you with loads of pictures and words. We really had a wonderful time, and I hope you all have some plans to do what you love this year, whether it be travel, or just stay home!

Day One: Washington DC Bound!

The week leading up to our road trip vacation was a little chaotic, which made us crave some freedom! We were so excited to hit the road, mostly in part because we knew my momma would be staying at our house and caring for our sweet pups. Love my momma!

Our day started out not so bright (rain, rain go away) but definitely early, and we hit the road excited to get to our first destination, Washington DC!

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We stopped to get our beloved Starbucks, because well, vacation mode!

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The drive was nice into DC, cloudy but full of sunshine from our car! Love driving with the hubs, we have some of our best conversations in the car.

When we arrived to Washington, just a little after five hours, we were hungry. Okay, I’m lying, I was hangry. So after driving around for a little while and not having a clue where we wanted to go for lunch, we ended up at a really cute restaurant on Connecticut Ave! The irony! Lillies Restaurant & Bar was a nice treat to start our trip, and we definitely would recommend this restaurant for anyone in that area.

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Lillies is a family owned-and-operated Italian local neighbourhood restaurant, located steps away from the Woodley Park Zoo. It features modern Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

We shared an appetizer of their calamari served with a herb aiola sauce, and it definitely curbed the hunger beast that may or may not have come out 😉

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Since we felt like continuing our shared lunch, we opted for their Herb Chicken dish and it did not disappoint.

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Herb marinated chicken in the house sauce, served with wild rice and steamed vegetables

We licked the plate clean, the hubs eating the rice and I enjoyed the vegetables with the tasty sauce!

After eating, we decided to visit the Smithsonian National Zoo! The sun was shining and it was free, so perfection!

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After the zoo we drove to our hotel for the evening, the Hyatt House in Herndon, VA. We  picked this hotel based on location and a great price. I would recommend it, it was clean, spacious, and had a free breakfast buffet!

After relaxing for a little bit, we showered and got ready for our dinner reservations at the Founding Farmers. After doing some research, I really enjoyed what this restaurant company stands for and I’m so glad we got the opportunity to dine there.

The values of the American family farmer are at the heart of all we do at Founding Farmers. Like the more than 47,000 family farmers who own our restaurant, we strive to work hard and operate with a genuine concern for our land and our community. We believe that everyone should be able to enjoy high-quality food that is delicious, and grown with care.

(To hear more about the restaurant, visit their website and then go eat there!)

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We started our dining experience off with none other than a well deserved bottle of vino!

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Cheers to vacation!

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For our appetizer we ordered the Bread, Chips, Crisps. This was served alongside four different dips, Romesco, Pimento Cheese, Green Goddess and Onion Dip.

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Here is where my love of pimento cheese became a reality. Oh my word, if you have never had it, go get some. Better yet, just make it yourself. It is so easy to make! I see that in my future summer festivities!

For my entree, I tried to remain with a healthier choice so I ordered their Rotisserie Chicken with green beans. It was very good!

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We wrapped up dinner, finishing our wine and talking about what the future week would entail. Then we headed back to our hotel because we had a 7 1/2 hour drive the following morning!

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Day Two: Road Trip to South Carolina

Day two started off early (again) because I was super enthusiastic to head down south! We got ready, put our bags back in our car, and headed to the free breakfast buffet the hotel had to offer.

Trying to be good in my low carb lifestyle (for there were many meals consumed during this trip that didn’t live up to that hype, haha), I went simple with an egg omelette and sausage with salsa. It was rather good!

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Back on the road again, we left the dreary Washington and headed straight for our lunch destination in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The hub’s love for BBQ runs deep, so after driving for about five hours, we went to Fuller’s Old Fashioned BBQ for their well known BBQ buffet.

Here’s my take on the buffet, it was good! Although, a lot of the food I felt was off limits for me, since I wanted to stay somewhat on track to my healthy goals, they had a great variety of BBQ, Chicken, and all the good ole’ southern comfort foods.

My plate consisted of chicken, okra, shrimp, corn and I caved and tried my first hush puppy! Mmmm, I get it now. Oh that I do.

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After lunch we continued down to South Carolina taking a very scenic route, and it was such a beautiful drive through the country. I would do it again in a heartbeat. The sun was out, the music was on and we were crossing a destination off our bucket list!

We went from this….

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To this!

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We arrived to our final destination around 4:00 pm, just in time to check into the Plantation Resort. We settled in, we explored the area, then went to the grocery store to stock our refrigerator with water and snacks. Afterwards, we relaxed and hit the hay because our vacation was just getting started!

Stay tuned!

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Weekly Review: Good Eats, Friends Date & The Weekend

Another week of March has come and gone, what?! In exactly five days we are going to be into April and I am so excited! April is my favorite month! Why you ask?

It’s BIRTHDAY MONTH!

One of my favorite parts of life is being able to celebrate my beautiful sister’s and my birthday together since they are only two days apart! This year will be different, for the mister and I are traveling during birthday week, but that doesn’t mean anything in regards to birthday month! 😉

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I thought we’d have coffee together on this dreary Monday and just recap our last week. Was yours good? I hope so! Not a lot of sunshine the past few days, but I know that it’s coming. “Be patient Melissa.”

Monday

Monday was a typical day in the life, meal planning, grocery store for vegetables, cleaning & organizing, and of course some time in the kitchen!

I made up a delicious Beef & Veggie Taco Pasta for dinner. Low carb √, healthy , dairy free  and easy √ ! I’m going to have to make it again, so I can share what I did, but all you need to do is make taco meat, add all the vegetable you want, pasta of choice, add a little pasta water to help make a sauce and there you have it!

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I also tried out a new recipe for dessert Almond Flour Blondies. I substituted swerve sweetener for the sugar, and halved the amount brown sugar called for by using truvia brown sugar. Then used dairy free chocolate chips. OMG. Get on that recipe. It’s good!

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Wednesday

Wednesday started out on a happy note, the sun was shining and I got to enjoy a lovely breakfast while reading my early birthday present from a dear friend!

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Trim Healthy Mama cookbook is amazing! So if you are looking for great recipes to add to your current way of eating, get on that! Thank you so much to my Lauren for the awesome surprise!

I then joined some of my favorites from work to see Beauty & the Beast! It is everything you dreamed it would be. At one point I did feel like I might be tripping (although I never have so hmmm). Just go see it!

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We ended up getting a late lunch at J. Timothy’s Taverne and it was really nice spending time with these lovelies outside of work.

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Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad

I’m very grateful to have a job where we can all get together on a Wednesday, it really made for a great midweek treat!

Thursday

By the time Thursday came around, I was feeling the need to slow down {for no apparent reason} so the day is a blur. I’m sure I spent most of it relaxing and looking at recipes, because that’s what a foodie does, when she wants to do nothing!

We did have some delicious Roasted Cauliflower & White Cheddar Soup paired with some leftover ham. I used Kerrygold’s grass fed white cheddar (which I know is not dairy free) but sometimes, we have to indulge a little!

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Friday

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Can you believe this sunrise? That’s what Friday started with before work, and it was just gorgeous. I really need to start using my “adult camera” more. I am amazed at how beautiful nature, life, everything is, if we just take a moment to really see it.

Before we knew it, the weekend was here!

Saturday & Sunday

Our plans for the weekend were up in the air and I’m happy with how relaxed it was.

We enjoyed a delicious weekend breakfast.

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We went grocery store hopping- Market 32, Costco, Adam’s and Whole Foods in one weekend! (I would live in grocery stores if I could)

We hit up Whole Foods Hot/Cold Bar for some lunch.

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I found some great new items to add to my list of wholesome products I love. We are prepared for some healthy good eats this week!

We ate our favorite The Best Turkey Sloppy Joes over spaghetti squash.

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We marathon watched Bridget Jones, all three of them! Well, the dogs and I did.

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We spent time with our family for Sunday dinner.

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This handsome boy is always on the go, so that’s the best we did! I still love it.

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And we ended our weekend on a sweet note. Sugar free Strawberry Banana Jello, strawberries and coconut whip!

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All in all, a great week of good eats, some wonderful moments with the ones we love, and another week to be thankful for.

Until next time, enjoy all your moments, whatever they may be. They all count!

Weekly Review: Food, Things & A Baby

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Hey guys! Wow what a week it has been, I hope it was a great one for you! I had a very long weekend that got stretched just a bit more with the snow storm, so I am rested and happy!

I really believe long weekends are the perfect solution for life. You have time to relax, get things crossed off your to do lists, spend time with people you love, and make memories! It’s just what any of us need to get ready for our upcoming days that could be full of work and obligations.

Friday

The weekend started last Friday for me, and it was such a lovely day! I had a doctors appointment in the morning {which allowed me to realize my next steps in this crazy journey to healthy}, and then met up with my favorite people to spend the day! My momma, sister and nephew!

We went to an appointment with my sister, then out to lunch at Ruby Tuesdays. It’s always a great spot due to their salad bar. Why don’t more restaurants do salad bar? Its amazing! While I am usually jumping right up to the chance to stand in front of all the options (give me all the food), I decided on their BBQ Chicken Salad because it sang to my heart.

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BBQ seasoned grilled chicken with roasted corn, black bean salsa, tomatoes, smoked bacon, avocado, and cheddar cheese. Tossed with BBQ ranch and finished with a drizzle of BBQ sauce and tortilla strips.

What is their not to love?! I sadly said no cheese please, but with the creamy avocado it wasn’t missed!

We then walked around the mall and let this little man make a forever, fuzzy friend!

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Love our day dates together with my ladies and favorite boy!

Saturday

On Saturday the hubs and I spent some time together and did errands in the morning. We ended up going out to lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings which wasn’t planned but the hanger monster came out. When it happens, she MUST be tamed, for reals. It should be a medical diagnosis, just saying. 😉

I ordered the Garden Salad with Chicken and had it with their southwestern ranch dressing.

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Grilled or Crispy chicken spun in your favorite BUFFALO WILD WINGS sauce. Served over a lunch portion of fresh greens topped with cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, onions and croutons served with fat free ranch dressing.

Oh my goodness, it was so good! While the dressing is not on my plan, I’m striving for a mostly dairy free lifestyle with some exceptions. So I don’t feel guilty.

When the beast was happy, aka ME, we ventured home because it was game night with some of our favorite peoples. I didn’t take my phone out once during that, because while I would love to share photos of my beautiful friends, I really just enjoyed their company. So here is my face, in case you wanted to see it. No? I’ll share anyways.

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Sunday

Sunday started out with a nice workout, followed by his + hers protein shakes using my new Vitamix blender!

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I did some journaling, meal planning and then spent the rest of the day hanging out with my favorite guy and these furry faces!

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Dinner was simple but so good. Steak and roasted vegetables, mmmmm.

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Monday

Weekends go by so fast and I was sad to see my mister go to work Monday morning, but I kept busy doing all those grown up chores.

I made some Low Carb Chocolate & Coconut Amazeballs to have a delicious treat that adds in some more fat to my diet (doctors orders).

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I may have drizzled on some sugar-free chocolate because, well it just made them better.

I also recreated one one of my favorite meals at Applebee’s, the Oriental Chicken Salad! I made it a lot healthier and it was a nice treat for a Monday.

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We watched some TV and then were settling into bed when I got the call that my beautiful sister’s water broke! AHHHH!

::insert snow storm here::

Tuesday

While the snow fell and we were all trapped indoors with a travel ban, I paced through my house all morning. I wanted to be with my sister but it just wasn’t in the cards. I knew so many people were watching over her from above, and the love being sent to her from family and friends, came in bountiful measures.

So while we waited, and she waited continuing to bake my perfect little niece, I baked too. Just in the form of a Low Carb Kentucky Butter Cake!

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Get on this people! So good, and even better cold so put that cake in the fridge!

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Before we knew it, this perfect miracle came into our lives, and the rest of my week has been about this little one.

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It was a great week, no absolutely perfect week.

We are blessed, hearts exploding, happy people over here.

Last Date of 2016

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If there is one piece of advice I could give anyone in regards to relationships, it would be this….

Date each other.

No matter how many years you’ve been together, no matter how your situation has changed, kids, jobs, life….

Date each other.

Your hearts deserve that happiness called the beginning of every relationship, the love bubble. You deserve to keep that feeling alive throughout your lives together, and the best way to do that….

Date each other.

Our last date of 2016 was a good one, it left our hearts happy and was the perfect end to a year full of much hard work and joy!

Our first stop of the day was to Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens, to spend some time with one of my most favorite little beauties, butterflies.

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It was relaxing, happy and so wonderful to have them all flying around us.

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Some even enjoyed some quality time.

I have always had the belief that a butterfly that lands on you, is a little angel in your life that has passed, coming to visit. I don’t know why this has always been my belief, but nothing is going to change that. It’s a beautiful thought and it makes me happy!

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After that magical moment, we went to Yankee Candle Village. Oh my goodness, is all I can say. There is so much to see, and so much you can buy! I really enjoyed our time there, looking at everything, smelling the candles and just being with my husband.

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I was able to finally get something that I have wanted for a long time, my mantra bracelets! Words are very meaningful to me, I am a quote junkie and certain things just call to my very sentimental side. These bracelets represent all that the past years have been and what 2017 will be, a continuation of our infertility journey, our journey to parenthood.

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After spending what seemed like not enough time to soak in all that Yankee Candle had to offer, we took a drive to Richardson’s Candy Kitchen.

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Because what is the end of the holiday season without candy, right?

Immediately upon walking through the door, you are greeted with the most amazing smell of chocolate everything. How do people work there?!

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I was happy to see that they have a selection of sugar free candy for those of us that can’t have sugar. I know it isn’t the best choice, but we all need to live a little!

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We continued to drive around the area to site see for a little while, not much to report but we enjoy our drives 🙂

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Later in the evening, we went to Chandler’s Restaurant for dinner. I had high hopes for this place, but the food wasn’t amazing. We still had a good time in the cute and cozy environment.

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Calamari

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Pork Tenderloin Marsala with Pecorino Romano Spaetzle

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Crab Cakes

I love dates that last all day and feel very blessed that we have been able to continue this tradition. Life is busy, we both work (which we are grateful for) but making time for each other is very important in our lives. We are definitely looking forward to what 2017 has to offer!

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If you haven’t gone on a date in a long time, try to make it happen! You will feel like a new couple, I promise you!

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Christmas 2016

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So this is Christmas and what have you done,

Another year over a new one just begun.

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And so this is Christmas, I hope you had fun,

The near and the dear ones, the old and the young.

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A very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year,

Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.

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And so this is Christmas for weak and for strong,

The rich and the poor ones, the road is so long.

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And so happy Christmas, for black and for white,

For the yellow and red ones let’s stop all the fights.

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A very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year,

Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.

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So this is Christmas and what have you done,

Another year over a new one just begun.

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And so this is Christmas, I hope you had fun,

The near and the dear ones, the old and the young.

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A very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year,

Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.

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War is over if you want it, war is over now.

-John Lennon

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and wishing you the absolute best New Year!

A Mother’s Heart

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I have been raised by one of the most selfless mothers. She raised me to love, be kind and most importantly, she showed me what it is to be a good human being.

I have valued beyond measure all she has taught me in life, thus allowing me to learn things I didn’t expect to know.

If it weren’t for the strength of my mother, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this post about my heart, a mother’s heart, who has no children.

For over fives years, we have prayed, cried, struggled, but still tried to expand our family. We have met obstacles, defeat and sadness, but we still have hope that our persistence will lead to a miracle.

As difficult as it is to write out the words no children, I most of the time do not see myself that way.

I have loved a sweet little bean that couldn’t stay with us long, for four years. I will never know what that little bean would have turned into, because for one reason or another, they weren’t meant to stay here with us.

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I have faith that despite when we had our loss, that there is another story to be told, we just have to keep going, turning the pages as they come.

This journey is not something we expected, but we are embracing each day, and moment with each other as we faithfully wait for what is meant for us.

I yearn to hold our child in my arms, and even though this child does not exist yet, I love them. I have hope that the love my husband and I share, will help create the miracle we long for. I have never wanted anything so very badly, but find myself patient with this  very long, sometimes heart wrenching journey.

If you find yourself going through a similar circumstance, please don’t lose hope. I truly believe it is in these moments, when you truly find yourself and the life that is meant for you. It is a beautiful life, no matter how much you don’t understand your own personal struggle. So be patient, and most importantly be kind to yourselves during the wait. You deserve that.

While we wait, our arms may be empty, but our hearts are so very full. I do have a mother’s heart, and I can’t wait until the day I finally get to use it.

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This post is to honor and remember all the pregnancies and babies lost before their beautiful lives were truly known. October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It is a day that many parents both dread and are thankful for. All pregnancies and infants lost are something we carry in our hearts every day. You may not see them, but we still feel the love and pain all the same. Every child, both living or unfortunately not, are beautiful miracles- some just aren’t meant to stay. We will never understand the why, but to find strength in a community that unites because of this common pain, does bring us all comfort. To all the little perfect angels that watch us from above, we miss you, we love you, we celebrate you, we mourn you, we honor you.

Life Lately…It’s Fall!

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The end of summer has come and gone so now it’s time to enjoy the beautiful season of fall! While I’m sure we were all sad to see the longer days of sunshine leave us, there is something so wonderful about this current season.

From the crisp, fresh air to the absolutely breath taking views of the leaves changing colors, these are just a few things that the lovely autumn has to offer us!

I know I am not alone in saying when fall rolls in so does my desire to be in the kitchen more. This is the time to make more hearty meals, bake more and time to slow down and enjoy the people in your life. Since fall is already here and the days seem to go by much faster as we age (thanks momma, for always driving that point home 🙂 ) I am trying to embrace all our moments. There is no better time to do something than the present because every day is such a gift. Maybe that is what fall is all about. Learning to slow down from the hot and busy summer, and to really be grateful for everything you have in this life.  It’s like a yearly reminder that the holidays are coming, and there is so much to be thankful for, every single day.

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There are many wonderful activities to do in the fall and I am hoping to cross these off my list this year!

Fall 2016 Bucket List

  • Big E  Done!
  • Apple picking
  • Make Low Carb Pumpkin & Apple Treats
  • Cornmaze
  • Haunted House
  • Pumpkin Carving/Decorating
  • New England Day Trip to see the leaves
  • Go on a fall picnic
  • Autumn Hike

These are just a few things I hope to do, I’m sure there are so many more!

Until I am able to cross off those activities, I’ll take a step back and reminisce about the past month or so.

There has been fun activities with some of my favorites…

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There has been some delicious eats….

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Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad…last salad of the season!
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Philly Cheesesteak Mini Meatloaves
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Low Carb Blueberry Cheese Danish Coffee Cake

There has been the continued hard work on our new deck…

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There has been many strolls with these lovelies….

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Quiet time too….

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We also celebrated 12 years of dating each other by going out to Marketplace Kitchen & Bar for dinner! While it was a bit noisy, the company was amazing and we shared this awesome appetizer that I will one day recreate. So simple, but yet, so tasty.

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Fresh mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto, over garlic spinach and vodka sauce

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There is nothing more that I love to do, than just spend time with this handsome face. He really has been my rock, my best friend, and life entertainer for these past 12 years. I feel so blessed to have spent these moments with him, and hope for as many more that we are able!

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What are some of your favorite fall activities?

 

 

 

 

Five Things I’ve Learned in Five Years

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June 10th, 2011 was a beautiful day. It was the day I married my best friend and life partner. I wouldn’t change anything about that day, despite how things have changed over the years. I am more in love and a better person since I met my husband. He has shown me more patience, honesty, kindness and trust than I could have ever imagined.

For twelve years he has stood by my side through both thick and thin. Not just during life struggles but even with my own battle with my weight. Never once has he made me feel ugly, embarrassed or any less beautiful than when I met him. He continues to support me with all my endeavors, and I am forever grateful for being blessed with having him in my life.

I have learned many valuable lessons through the years, lessons that have shaped me as an individual but most importantly, lessons that have helped keep our relationship wholesome. I thought I’d take a few minutes and share what has worked for us.

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Communication

I feel like this is the biggest and most important part of any relationship. Whether it be family, a friend or your partner, good communication is always key. I have not always been the best at spilling my guts when it comes to how I’m feeling. I hold a lot of what I feel inside and when I’m most vulnerable, I let it out and then some. It has not been effective in any way to making me feel better in the past, because things are said that were not meant. I have made a huge effort to speak up about things before they get to a point where this can happen. I’ve never had a problem talking with my husband, he is always willing to listen, but I did have to learn to actually listen and accept his advise. A relationship is a two-way street and the most successful communication comes from both parties being fully engaged.

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Respect

Life can be very stressful at times. Between different schedules, work, finances and other personal matters, tempers can get heated without intention. At least mine can. I married such a gentle soul, I am definitely the hot pepper of the relationship! With that in mind, no matter if my husband chose to marry me, this whole package, hot pepper personality or not, I make the choice every day to respect him. He makes it easy, but I choose to respect him because he deserves it. We all do. Every day I try to show him kindness, love and appreciation. I choose to respect his decisions and desires in life, because there is no I in this team. He is a vital part of our life, and I am so fortunate for all he does for us.

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Support

Life can change so quickly and a lot of the time it’s not by choice but by outside forces. The best relationships can get severely rocked by these circumstances and you must always lean on each other, supporting one another as best you can. Life is never going to be picture perfect, but wait, what is that? Life is what you make out of it, and it’s your own kind of perfect no matter what struggle you may have. The best relationships come from those who survive a storm together. At times, one may need to support the other more but it’s the constant give and take that makes a relationship survive and flourish. I know that my husband is my rock, but I’m a tough girl too. We lean on each other when needed and sometimes we can just stand tall separately. The most important thing you can do, is let your partner know that you are there all the time, if needed.

 

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Friendship

Friendships in life come and go. Some stay the long hall but a lot of relationships are found during certain seasons in your life. People relate to those who are going through similar phases at certain times more. There is nothing wrong with these types of friendships, because you met for a reason. I believe in order to have the best relationship with your partner, you need to be their friend as well as their lover. I 100% feel that my husband is my best friend and in conversation, he feels the same as well. We have the best times together, whether it be talking, going out, or just sitting quietly on our couch. He is my absolute favorite person and one of the best friendships I’ve ever been blessed to have.

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Laughter

Life can be so serious sometimes, and difficult. We all experience loss, rejection and uncertainty throughout this journey. I completely agree that the best medicine is laughter and it’s even better when you can laugh together! Nothing can perk up a bad moment faster than an inside joke or a funny thought. I think it also keeps a little spark in your relationship to be a little quirky and sarcastic. There is a lot of spice in this life, you just have to remember to be present and use it!

I am by no means a relationship expert and I do not claim to be. I just know what has been working for us for these years, and I wanted to share. What works for us, may not work for you but that’s ok. Find your own values, learn the lessons that make you a better person and/or couple. Most importantly, do what makes you happy!

I am thankful every day for what I’ve been given, and I don’t take my husband or our relationship for granted. I cherish every moment I have with him and hope we have some happy, healthy years ahead!

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I wish the same for you!

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