Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Success in Being Healthy!

I know, 3 blog posts in 2 days!  It's crazy!  Work has been crazy slow this week due to Spring Break and crappy weather.  Thanks Utah for deciding to drop back into the 30's now that it's April.  We all REALLY appreciate it!  I just thought I should blog about the progress I have made in being healthy.

I know I've written what seems like 405858392 blogs about attempting to get in shape and be healthy and all that fun stuff.  Well I am finally starting to make progress. And it's all thanks to John.

After coming back from our Florida trip I had decided that I was FINALLY going to be successful about going to the gym.  I hadn't really talked to John about it, but in my head I was making plans to be healthy.  Then one Sunday night (actually it was about 3 weeks or so ago.  A week and a half after we got back. Whenever that was) John and I are laying in bed.  He out of nowhere asks me what days I want to go to the gym.  Now I have asked John at least a few times if he would ever want to go to the gym with me.  His response had always been a resounding NO.  So when he asks me what days I want to go to the gym my gut reaction is "why do you care what days I go to the gym?".  As it turns out, he was asking me because he had decided he wanted to start going to the gym.  I have no idea what prompted this complete change of mind, but I really didn't think I should question it.  So the next night we went to the gym and got John a membership. 

John is the type of person that when he sets his mind to do something he does it all the way.  There is no cutting corners or slacking off.  John set up a schedule for us and has not let me slack off once.  We go to the gym 5 days a week. We do cardio every day and then work out different muscle groups.  I have never felt like I was getting so much out of my gym membership.  In the past, when I had gone to the gym it was strictly to use the elliptical or treadmill and be on my merry way.  Now I use all of these crazy machines and leave sore EVERY SINGLE DAY!  Luckily its a good sore. . . most of the time. . .

On top of going to the gym 5 days a week, John has really helped me eat healthier too.  We've dropped soda from our diet completely (goodbye Dr. Pepper.  We had a good run.  You are still my go to soda of choice. Don't worry this isn't goodbye forever, just for now). We've started eating more fruits and veggies.  I think we've only gone out to eat once since starting this journey.  We casually count calories.

It has been so nice having John to help me accomplish my goals.  Having a gym buddy makes it so much more fun.  Having that gym buddy be your boyfriend is even better :)  No offense Ky!  And having that gym buddy live with you means you can't slack off and sneak junk food into your diet.  Or at least you can't do that without him finding out.  Or without feeling guilty about it later.

We are in our 3rd week of gym attendance.  I feel so much better about myself and am hopeful that all of the goals I have set for myself will FINALLY prove successful.  Here's to a cute bathing suit body for Connecticut this summer!  And to maybe finally running a 5k in LESS than 40 minutes!

Until next time,

Tara

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Every Tuesday night John does a web show right around 7.  Because of this show, John typically stops and gets a sandwich from Blimpie on his way home for work and chows down before the show.  That leaves me to make whatever I want for dinner without worrying about whether or not John will eat it.  (For those of you who don't know, John is a fairly picky eater.  He's getting better, but it's still a struggle balancing my desire to try new recipes with his picky eating habits).  I look forward to Tuesdays and the opportunity they present to try all sorts of new recipes.

Last week I tried a recipe I found on the good ol' Pinterest.  Seriously I love that website!  It is a fantastic source for crafts, recipes, outfit ideas, wedding planning, adorable animal pics, random life hacks, quotes. .  .you name it you can probably find it on Pinterest. It's awesome.

I based my dinner on this recipe I found on Pinterest.  I did modify a bit though.  Here's what I changed:

First I just used regular ol' black beans from a can.  As it turns out, I didn't happen to have a spare black bean burger hanging out in my fridge.  I drained and rinsed the beans and added cumin, granulated garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper, and ground red pepper.  They were really tasty and I probably could have just eaten that for dinner but alas the potato was baking so I stuck to the game plan.

I didn't have any pepper jack cheese at home and I really didn't feel like going back to the store.  Yes I live a stone's throw away from a grocery store.  But I was feeling lazy and I had other shredded cheese at home so I just used what I had.  I ended up using a fiesta blend or maybe it was a Mexican Style blend of cheese. It had cheddar and Monterrey jack and maybe another kind of cheese.  Whatever it was, it was tasty.

I don't know if I didn't cook the potato long enough, but it did NOT scoop out of the skin easily, nor did it mash well.  As it turns out I'm not really picky about how my food looks as long as I know what it is and that it is edible.  Here is my finished product:

I am by no means a professional food photographer.  Can't you tell?  

This was really tasty.  I know John would never go for it, but I would definitely eat it again.  If you like avocado and sweet potatoes I definitely recommend this dish.

On a somewhat different note, how does one take a good picture of food?  All of my plates (except for one random plate I acquired probably from a college apartment) have some sort of color or pattern to them.  No matter what camera I use, the food just doesn't look as appetizing as the professional photos one sees in magazines (or on other blogs for that matter).  I'd like to think my cooking is an actual representation of the normal, every day, non professional cook.  I don't worry about my food looking like it came out of a 5 star restaurant.  It's all eaten within 20 minutes of getting on the plate, so why worry about how pretty it looks? This got me thinking about possibly including more recipe/craft type posts here, showing what a NORMAL person can produce based off of magazine recipes and Pinterest.  Because lets face it MOST people aren't professional chefs.  Most people don't devote their entire lives to creating the best pictures of inanimate objects that they consume immediately after taking the picture.  While I would love to be able to produce 5 star restaurant quality food every single day and then be able to take a picture worthy of magazine covers to display said food, it's just no realistic for me. After all I am Just an Average 20 Something. . .

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Florida Vacation. . .with pics!!!

Hey everyone!  It has been FOREVER since I've posted and even longer since I included pics in a post.  I've finally joined the 21st century and got a smart phone so uploading pics is a LOT easier and way less time consuming.  Eventually I will post all of the pics from 2014 that I want to share, but until then here's some pics from our  vacation to Florida.

We decided to  go to Florida when our friend Steven invited us to his wedding.  Typically I don't think we would have flown all the way to Florida for a wedding that wasn't a family member, but there was a lot more we could do there than just go to wedding.  My dad lives about an hour away from Orlando and I have a very good friend that lives in Jacksonville.  So John and I decided to take a Spring Break if you will and visit Florida.

Dad so graciously bought us 3 day, park hopper tickets to Universal Studios.  I have been wanting to go to Universal ever since the Harry Potter parks opened.  The park hopper pass allowed us to take the Hogwarts Express between the 2 parks, which is WAY better than walking.  Here we are waiting for the train







I also got the awesome opportunity to try some Butterbeer

If you go to Universal Studios and don't at least TRY the Butter Beer you are missing out.  I don't think I could drink it all the time, but it really is delicious.

The Harry Potter parks are a must see for any Harry Potter fan.  They are a lot of fun and really help bring the books to life.  You have to ride the Castle Tour and Escape from Gringotts.  Those rides were epic and the queuing for them are great too!  I've never had so much fun waiting in line for 45+ minutes as I did waiting to ride the Harry Potter rides.  Even just walking around Diagon Alley and Hogsmede is fun.  Walking into all of the shops and buying candy from Honey Dukes or joke toys at Weasley Wizarding Wheezes was a blast.  You can also explore Knockturn Alley, which is cool.

While the Harry Potter parks were by far my favorite part of Universal Studios I enjoyed the rest of the park as well . We got to watch some pretty cool shows and ride some other epic rides.  Shooting Aliens on the Men in Black ride and getting soaked on the Popeye water ride was a blast.  Despite getting a horrendous headache my first day at the park I really had fun hanging out with John and my Dad and Step-mom. Word of advice to anyone planning a trip to Florida.  Drink LOTS of water and make sure to eat on a regular basis too.  Universal Studios allows you to bring food and water into the park to help cut the costs of expensive park food.  And if I remember right from my trip to Disney World a few years ago, they do as well. Take advantage of that!  It's really hard to enjoy the parks if you have a headache because you are dehydrated or haven't eaten! 
This picture is a must if you go to Universal Studios.  And look at what a great job Dad did at getting this!!!

nothing like checking out Fear Factor live. Not as crazy as the actual show, but it was a nice way to relax and eat some snacks.  If you need a break from all of the rides and craziness, stop by and check it out.


Wednesday and Thursday (as well as Monday of the following week) were spent at Universal Studios.  Friday John and relaxed pretty much all day.  We ran to Wal-Mart to get some last minute wedding stuff, got our hair cut (John) and got our nails done (me).  Then we got all fancied up and went to the wedding.

Unfortunately I don't have any great pics from the wedding.  John and I apparently were horrible at taking selfies that night and a lot of the pics I have took on a very red hue because of the lighting.  But just know it was a LOT of fun.  While we didn't know anyone other than the bride and groom, John and I managed to really have a good time (with the help of an open bar :)  ).  John and I don't get dressed up and go out drinking and dancing ever so it's a nice change of pace when we go to a wedding.  And ever since the wedding John and I have started talking a little bit more seriously about our future wedding, whenever that will be.  And no this is not an engagement announcement.  There is still no ring on my finger. . . YET :)  Thanks Steven and Kate for a great night!!  Sorry I have no awesome pics to show for it.  Maybe I will get in and try to do some editing  at some point.

Saturday John and I drove up to ST. Augustine to meet my friends Russ and Alesha.  They spent a couple hours with us at Universal Studios on Wednesday, but I didn't come all the way to Florida to spend just a few hours with my good friend Russ!  For those of you who don't know, Russ and I have been friends for 6 or 7 years.  We met doing early morning custodial way back in the day at BYU.  We've been close ever since.  I consider him almost like another brother.  He is from Florida originally and moved back to Jacksonville after graduating (and brought his then fiance Alesha with him).  I haven't seen them since they moved to Jacksonville and I just HAD to meet their little one.  So they graciously met us in St. Augustine to spend the afternoon.  I loved walking around and chatting with them, and hanging out with the kiddo.  She and I had so much fun just walking around.  I loved it.  It was nice to get to know Alesha better as well.  I had met her only a  couple of times before they moved so I really enjoyed talking to her more.  I knew she was awesome because she landed Russ, who is just so cool :)  My hunch was confirmed after spending time with her and getting to chat about the possibility of getting engaged and all that other girl stuff us girls have to talk about whenever we get together.   And I'm glad John got the chance to meet Russ.  Russ is so important to me as a friend and John is obviously important to me.  Russ meeting John and "approving" of him was so great.  And John saying he enjoyed hanging out with Russ was pretty cool too.  It's always nice when 2 important guys in my life meet and get along.  I think John has finally met all of the important guys in my life and they all seem to approve.  So we can move forward and get engaged any time now.  haha

Checking out the fort.

Russ is such a good dad.  And look at that cutie!  Isn't she adorable!!!!!

We had so much  fun in St. Augustine and can't wait to see Russ and Co. again when they come out to Utah in June!

Saturday night we hung out with the newlywed couple again.  It's always interesting to go out when we aren't in Utah. The atmosphere and people are so different outside of the "Utah Bubble".  We had a good time eating dinner and getting drinks with Steven, Kate and some of their other friends that were visiting from out of town.  While I love all of my LDS friends and hanging out with them, it's always nice to go out with people that have a similar lifestyle to us.  Not that the LDS lifestyle is bad by any means, it's just different.

Sunday John and I drove out to Cocoa Beach.  Cocoa Beach is MAYBE 20 minutes away from my dad's house, which is so cool to me. Finding parking at the beach in the middle of March on a weekend is by no means an easy task, especially since we REALLY didn't want to pay for parking.  We are pretty sure we ended up parking outside of a strip club, but hey, parking was free for 3 hours so we were ok with it.  John and I enjoyed relaxing on the beach and collecting some seashells.  We found some way cool ones that we are planning on displaying as soon as I go out and buy a vase.  John taught me how to body surf which was fun.  I don't think I ever actually did it correctly, but I had a blast pretending to know what I was doing and hanging out in the ocean. I love the beach and how relaxing it is (even when there is a HUGE crowd every where you turn).  To me, there is nothing better than laying out in a bathing suit with the sun shining down on you and being able to hop in the water to cool off if need be.  Whether it's a lake or the ocean, I just love that setting.

No we are not on a nude beach.  I just happen to be wearing a strapless bathing suit top.  I promise.

The obligatory beach kissy picture.  We are just so cute right?
John and I had so much fun in Florida.  I'm so glad we got to visit so many different people and see so many new places.  Vacations are always nice, but it's nice to get back to our routine as well.

Soon I promise I will get pics up from 2014. We did so much last year that I  want to share with everyone!  And we still have most of 2015 left to go!  We have a couple more fun trips tentatively planned, both to Connecticut.  We also have concerts we want to go to, races to run, recipes to share, crafts to try, and just our normal life.  I am going to try to post more frequently, I promise! 

Much love!!!

~Tara

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Joys of Being an Adult



It’s been a stressful past couple of days for me.  I’ve had customers get mad at me for not going WAY out of my way for them.  I’ve had customers lie to my bosses about something I said in order to get something for free. I’ve had customers get mad at me for trying to get them to make a final payment.  It’s been stressful for me at work.  Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE my job.  Most of the time it’s very laid back and stress free.  The past couple of days though have been pretty rough.  Typically customers are very nice and friendly and make work that much better.  But man, when a bad customer comes along, they are VERY bad.

On top of that, John and I have run into a bit of a financial bump.  Without going into detail, money that we thought was a sure thing has turned out to be not so sure.  John and I approach situations like this very differently.  John tries not to worry about stuff that is pretty much out of his control.  He takes the “we’ll figure it out and make it work” approach.  I, on the other hand, get VERY stressed.  I basically spent all last night crying and trying to figure out what I can attempt to sell in order to come up with the money we need.  I started thinking that we were going to get evicted, become homeless, have to get rid of the dogs, break up, and be miserable for the rest of our lives.  That’s just the way my brain works; I automatically think worst case scenario.  Most likely, none of these things are going to happen.  Our rent check isn’t going to bounce.  We will just have to watch our spending for the next little bit.   John and I got to have a very “adult” conversation about bills, money, and all that fun stuff that adults get to stress about.  Talks and situations like this really make me miss being a little kid.
Why are little kids always in such a hurry to grow up and live on their own anyway!?  I remember as a kid being so eager to move out and do whatever I wanted.  Now I would give anything to live back at home with my mom and let her worry about bills and stuff.  Sorry mom!  Granted being an adult means I make my own rules, cook what I want for dinner, and clean when I want.  But man I hate bills. I hate having to worry about paying those bills.  I hate stressing about money. 

I know everything is going to work out and that John and I will be just fine.  I know that I am probably worrying about absolutely nothing.  John and I have a very solid relationship.  We’ve gotten through hard times before, so why should this time be any different?  It shouldn’t and it won’t.   So things get a little tight for the next little bit until this problem works itself out.  As long as John and I stick together everything will be fine.
Until next time with what is hopefully a more upbeat post (maybe even with pictures!),

~Tara

Thursday, January 22, 2015

New Year's Update



We are 3 weeks into the New Year. . . yay?  Just kidding.  2015 is going just great so far.  First a quick update on Christmas with 18 people, 4 dogs, 2 cats, and a bird.  It was SO great to see my family, especially my brother’s kiddos.  I haven’t seen them in forever, and had never even met my nephew.  I loved spending time with them.  They have each developed such a unique personality since the last time I got to see them.  The oldest is quiet and content just playing games on a tablet or phone.  I may have downloaded some Frozen themed games for her amusement.  And I might still play some of those games even now. . . just sayin.  The middle child is a little spit fire.  She LOVES to play.  On more than one occasion (about 4038298347 times over the course of 4 days) the words “Aunt Tara PLAY with me!” were spoken.  I got to spin around in circles really fast, give piggy back rides, crawl around on all 4’s like a horse, and all sorts of other activities that amuse young kids.  I definitely got a good workout in!  I absolutely adored every second of it, even if I was plenty exhausted by the end of the week.  She also put John in “jail”.  It was hilarious.  Apparently John was breaking the rules because he was watching David, my younger brother, play on his tablet.  John is only allowed to eat, sleep, and relax.  I guess I make John work too hard and he needed some relaxing time.  And there’s no better place to relax than jail.  It makes sense to me.  Anyways I loved seeing the little ones and can’t wait to see them again!  Another fun side note about the trip to my mom’s.  John and I won the Trivial Pursuit game!  My family plays Trivial Pursuit whenever we gather.  I don’t know why, but hey, it’s a tradition so why stop.  As the family gets bigger we have to play in teams, so naturally the couples all team up.  John and I have come close to winning previous games, but were denied the win because we didn’t know the EXACT word (we still count it as a win).  But this last game we proved victorious!  John’s knowledge of the Yankees and my knowledge of Jay-Z and Beyonce led us to a win.  We were pretty stoked about that.  It’s the little things in life people!

While the 4 days in Colorado were fun, John and I definitely are accustomed to the peace and quiet of our home. It’s always nice to get back to the day-to-day.  I got to take the week following Christmas off of work.  I tried to take advantage of this time off by cleaning, but really I didn’t accomplish a ton. I just cannot seem to keep my house organized!  I was able to get some stuff tidied up, but you better believe the house is pretty much a disaster again.  I really try but when I get home from a long day at work the last thing I want to do is clean up.  It’s bad people. . . REALLY bad. 

My New Year’s Resolutions are going. . . ok.  I haven’t been the best at going to the gym, but just when we got settled back into the daily routine my dad and step mom came for a visit.  So there’s that.  I’m hoping to really get into the swing of things now that things have settled down again.  I have been really good about cooking. For anyone that had the same struggles I did with not wanting to cook or knowing what to cook MAKE A MENU!!!!  It really has kept me in line and avoided trips to fast food restaurants.  Every Saturday I sit down and figure out what we are going to eat for the week.  On Sundays we go to the grocery store and pick everything up.  It has helped SO much!  I write out the full meal in a notebook and write a summary such as “Balsamic Chicken” or “Beef Tenderloin” on a white board.  This helps me know what I need to pull out to thaw.  Then I get home for work and dinner is all ready for me to cook.  It really has helped a TON. 

I have also successfully stopped drinking the Dr. Pepper.  I don’t even crave it any more.  I am really proud of this accomplishment.  I was drinking 2-3 sodas a day before the start of the New Year.  Now I drink a very little amount of coffee in the morning and pretty much stick to water the rest of the day.  I sometimes drink a glass of lemonade at lunch or a glass of wine with dinner. But for the most part my beverage of choice is water.  I thought it would be a lot harder for me to quit drinking soda, but really it hasn’t been that bad.  I’m hoping I don’t slip back into the habit, but I feel confident I can keep away except for special occasions. 

Couponing and money saving are going decently. I’ve been trying to be pretty selective about what deals I purchase and what deals I pass on as far as couponing goes. So far I think I’ve done well.  I’ll have to take pictures of deals I scored and what not in future posts.  For those that still don’t think it’s worth it to coupon, trust me it is!  You won’t see immediate savings right away, but they do add up!  Especially in a world with a plethora of rebate apps available that pay you just to buy a product you already had on your shopping list.  Why not take advantage of that?  It’s a great time to coupon!!! 

That about sums up the first few weeks of the New Year.  I desperately need to upload pics of our adventures soon.  Beware, a photo dump is coming! 
Until next time,

Tara

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New Year's Resolutions



I’ve been thinking a lot about whether I want to set “New Year’s Resolutions” this coming year.  In the past the only resolution I’ve been able to even somewhat keep has been “no more caffeine”.  I quickly abandoned that resolution the second the next New Year came around.  As it turns out I LOVE Dr. Pepper.  Having only ever really successfully completed one resolution I hesitated to sit down and really set some serious goals.  Would it be worth my time?  Am I just setting myself up to be disappointed come February when I have failed at all of my resolutions?  These are the questions I have been asking myself as the New Year approaches. 
After thinking very seriously about it, I have decided to set some goals for 2015.  I don’t want to call them “New Year’s Resolutions” because I think that just begs to not be accomplished.  I feel like I am at the best point so far in my life in so many different areas.  I finally have a dependable job that offers me reliable pay.  I might not make a ton of money, but I finally feel like I can set a budget and even put some money aside for savings.  I am in a very stable relationship with the most supportive of boyfriends.  He might not go to the gym with me and he might not like every new recipe I try out but he supports me no matter what.  If I say I want to eat healthier or want to go to the gym on a regular basis he is right there pushing me off my lazy butt.  I have a great friend who seems to have the same fitness goals as I do.  Granted she lives in Boise but she is always there to support me in my gym adventures, run races with, and vent to when I fall off the work out wagon.  I am in such a great place in my life that even if I fail miserably at each and every one of these resolutions I know I will still be happy and satisfied with my life.
So here goes. My list of goals for 2015.  I have thought long and hard about this and am only listing the most serious goals I want to accomplish.
Run a half marathon.  Kyrene (my race buddy) and I are really wanting to run the haunted half in October 2015. We are figuring out a serious plan to make this a possibility in the next few days.  While a half marathon might not happen this year, maybe a 10k?  We have accomplished a 5k, but can always improve and progress right?

Lose some weight!!!!  This hopefully goes hand in hand with running a half marathon.  As I have previously posted, I have gone up a couple sizes in the past year and a half or so.  Funny how that time line corresponds with how long I’ve been with John. . .   No I’m not blaming John for my weight gain.  Since starting to date John a LOT of things in my life has changed.  I’ve had a couple different jobs, we’ve moved a couple of times, we’ve gotten busier, etc.  Now that our life has kind of slowed down and at least stabilized a bit I think it’s a good time to get serious about shedding those few extra pounds and just being healthier in general.  My sister-in-law gave me some great ideas after I posted about wanting to be healthier.  She has inspired me to set a menu every week, which definitely helps me not go out to eat every night.  I hope to get better about eating healthier, going to the gym, and making smarter decisions in general.  Some subsets of this goal are:
a.       Stop the soda drinking.  You have no idea how much this pains me.  I seriously LOVE Dr. Pepper.  And I am addicted to caffeine.  I get a horrible headache without it and am a bit cranky.  But soda is bad for you and does not help with weight loss, so away it will go.
b.      Cut back on fast food.  If I absolutely HAVE to go out to eat I need to choose healthier options.  But ideally I won’t be stopping at McDonalds for chicken nuggets at all.  Thank goodness fast food joints have some decent salads these days J
c.       Go to the gym at LEAST 3 times a week.  The only adjustment to this is if I decide to go for a run outside while training for the big race.  But for the most part I choose the gym over outdoor running.  Something about being able to watch tv while on the treadmill makes working out a bit more bearable. 

Save some money!  I need to assign an actual dollar amount to this  but until I sit  down with my spreadsheets and pay stubs and figure out what I can feasibly afford to save every month I am keeping this pretty generic.  I’ve been working on paying off some debt (yay student loans!)  so that’s where a lot of my extra cash has been going.  I want to continue to keep ahead of loan payments but also put some money away for a rainy day.   I think I will focus all of my cleaning checks on paying off debt and put any money I make in overtime at Big Mountain into savings.  Or something like that. Like I said, I need to think this one through a little bit more.

Become a better couponer.  Yes I said it, coupons.  I first realized how much money I could save by watching Extreme Couponing.  Granted that show is a bit unrealistic.  But the reality is you really can save some serious money using coupons.  I have done it myself a time or two and have watched some youtube videos featuring real people in real situations save some serious dough.  I have finally found a blog to follow that really helps piece together great deals.  I just need to be dedicated to it in order to really reap the benefits of couponing.  I’ve been casually couponing for the past year or so but I really think I want to delve into this.  It takes some time, but I think the money I could save is well worth it.   We’ll see how beneficial couponing is I guess.

Alright so there you have it.  My most serious goals for 2015.  I really think I can keep most of these.  I just need to be dedicated to it, and not succumb to the laziness that I have fallen victim to time and time again.  Hopefully Kyrene and John can help me stay focused on the fitness goals, as those are the ones I really want to accomplish this coming year. 
I hope you all have success in any New Year’s Resolutions you might be embarking on as well.  Hopefully we can all stay motivated and have a great 2015!

Until next time,

Tara