30 Days of Blogging: Color Palettes

I absolutely love looking at color palettes.  I search for inspiration in them, and dream of what I can do with each and every different color, and all the craft projects I could make to showcase different accents.  When I was a kid, each year at the start of school, my biggest level of excitement was when we’d get a new box of crayons.  I always begged for the 96-crayon pack, and by the end of the year they’d be worn down to then nubs (even the “ugly” colors…no discrimination here).  I’d fill coloring books up, page to page, and would draw constantly (though not well).  I just adore color…it’s so inspirational and makes me happy!

So, with that said, of course I couldn’t pick just ONE color palette as a favorite!  Here are a few of the ones that I’m currently loving.

1.  Provence Palette

ProvencePaletteI absolutely love the bright, vibrant colors of this palette.  If we have a daughter, I’d really like to decorate the nursery in these colors, because I feel like they’re bright and cheerful enough to carry on from baby to child, maybe even adolescence (depending on whether she wants to keep it).  It doesn’t scream “baby” to me, which I really like.  Plus, there’s enough neutral in the palette where you can paint the walls in the neutral grey, and use the other colors as accents throughout the room.  I like to keep the walls neutral, so that you don’t have to repaint them as often, and you can change-up accents whenever you want, creating an entirely new look for the room, fairly easily.

 

2.  Leeked Tones

Leeked TonesThese colors just remind me of freshly cleaned kitchens.  No idea why, but I see them and think of sunshine and sparkling counters, bowls of fruit and cooking.  I love the grey blue color for the walls, with bright white cabinets, and maybe butcher block countertops.  Plus, you could incorporate the lime green color in plates and accents throughout the kitchen (artwork, even), and maybe as accents in a back splash.  We need to remodel our kitchen, and I’d love to incorporate these colors into the design when we do it!

 

3.  Moroccan Hues

moroccan huesEvery time I see these colors, I think about our time spent in Morocco.  It was such an amazing vacation, and we had a fantastic time.  We’ve already incorporated a great deal of this color palette into our spare bedroom downstairs.   The walls are the orange color, and the duvet on the bed incorporate several of the colors in the photo.  We’re going to have some of the photos we took in Morocco blown up on canvas to hang, which would really tie it all together.  I’d love to put in really dark hardwood floors to complete the look, but we’ll have to wait on that for a bit.  I love the colors in this palette, mainly for the memories that they evoke.  Walking into the room always makes me happy!

 

I could go on forever with more colors that I’d love to put in our home, but that would be overkill.  For now…these are some of my favorites!  What do you think…any other colors you would add?

 

Much love,
K.

30 Days of Blogging: iPod shuffle!

This is an easy one…open your iPod (or random musical device, even streaming music counts) and copy down the first 10 songs that play!  I’m looking at my iPod, and using that, so here is a brief glimpse of the wide range of music that I listen to:

 

  1. Titanium – Sia
  2. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Straight No Chaser
  3. Boston – Augustana
  4. Still Here – Kristian Valen
  5. Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
  6. Blue Christmas – Glee Cast
  7. L’ora Dell’Addio – Josh Groban
  8. Going Under – Evanescence
  9. When I’m Gone – Three Doors Down
  10. I Will Follow You Into The Dark – Caroline Glaser

 

What about you?  What’s on your playlist?  I have a pretty eclectic taste in music, so it’s always interesting to see what will come up when I put my music on shuffle, but at least it’s never boring!

Much love,
K.

30 Days of Blogging: Life Lessons

life lessonsEvery day I learn something new about life.  I think that to learn is to grow, and the minute you stop learning you die.  Maybe not physically, but emotionally and mentally, for sure.  When I think back over my past 32 years, I think about all the life lessons I’ve learned.  There’s been a lot of them, to be sure, but a few stick out in my mind.  The biggest one, though, is fairly simple.

Don’t let expectations of how you SHOULD be force you into something you’re NOT.

When I was growing up, it was always expected that I would do well in school.  Pay attention in class, earn good grades, do extracurricular activities…those types of things.  What’s weird, however, is that college was never part of the equation.  No one in my family had ever gone to college before, not even in my extended family, so it was never really talked about that I’d be any different.  In fact, the expectation was the opposite.  Everyone just expected that I’d stay at home after high school.  I’d find a local job, find a man, settle down and get married, and have some children.  And, let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with that plan!  If that’s what you want out of life, then absolutely, it’s a great plan!  But, if it’s not really your cup of tea, then there’s a problem.  And, obvious or not, that plan wasn’t my cup of tea.

Sadly, my parents weren’t onboard with my plan, which was attend college and move away from home to pursue a career.  And, especially in the beginning, I can see why.  College was new and scary for them, they’d never had a child move away.  All in all, it wasn’t sounding like a good thing, so I can definitely understand their lack of support and hesitation.  Emotionally, it would have been so incredibly easy to just cave and do what was expected of me.  There was a lot of guilt and pressure to toe the line (so to speak) from my parents, and at times I could feel my determination to carry on waiver.  There was a lot of heartache, and some harsh words, and it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make, but I decided to stick to my guns and go to college.

Looking back, no regrets.  It was, hands down, the absolute right decision for me.  I thrived in college, learned so much, and accomplished my dream of going to law school and being a licensed attorney (even though I don’t currently practice).  It was years of hard work and dedication, late nights and too many caffeinated beverages.  I worked more part-time jobs than I care to count, and had to make some tough decisions during my years there, but I learned so much more than what was in a book.  I learned life skills, decision-making skills, coping skills.  My critical thinking really developed, and even though I had no background in corporate marketing or program leadership, I’m happy to say that I’ve done really well in both areas, mainly due to the skills that I picked up while on my own in college.  All of that maybe wouldn’t be true now, had I caved and followed what my parents expected of me.

So, that’s my greatest life lesson, up until now.  It was hard learned, hard-fought, and especially hard-won, but worth every struggle.   What about you?  What is your greatest life lesson?

 

Much love,
K.

Friday Favorites: Healthy Snacks!

I’m not too much of a snacker, in general, but I do struggle with the hangry when my blood sugar dips.  Due to that, I’m always looking for healthy snacks that get me to the next meal, raise my blood sugar, and turn me back into something that resembles an agreeable human being.  So, here are my favorite healthy snacks!

 

1.  Popcorn

jar-topObviously, I’m not talking about the loaded down with butter and salt popcorn (though that is quite tasty).   Unflavored popcorn (though bland) is actually quite a healthy snack!   If you walk down the snack aisle at the grocery, there are an overwhelming number of boxed, microwaveable popcorn options on the shelves.  Avoid them!  It’s much cheaper (and healthier) to just buy the kernels and pop your own.  All you need is a microwave safe bowl, a microwave safe plate, and popcorn kernels.  Put 1/4 cup of kernels in the bowl, cover with the plate, and microwave until you hear the popping kernels slow down to about 2-3 seconds between pops.  Voila!  Popcorn, minus the waste of the bag.  Because I enjoy flavor on my popcorn, I usually add some spices to my already popped popcorn.  Cumin is really nice (use sparingly), as is garlic powder and kosher salt.  If I’m feeling extra lazy, I’ll just lightly salt the popcorn and dig in!  The best part about it is you can totally doctor it up to your taste!  Just remember, the more butter and fats you add, the less healthy it becomes.

2.  Hummus

460px-Hummus_from_The_NileHummus is everything that I love in a snack.  It’s creamy, healthy, tasty…I could go on and on.  Plus, it’s another snack where you can completely tailor it to your individual tastes.  I really like to pair hummus with carrot sticks for a veggie, but it’s also really good with pretzel crisps or a pita (for some extra calories, the pita is amazing).  You can buy a lot of different types at the grocery nowadays (ten years ago you’d have to go to a specialty store), but it’s also incredibly easy to make on your own.  I go both ways…if I’m feeling lazy I’ll buy some, and if I’m feeling more culinary with some extra time, I’ll whip up a batch of homemade.  I enjoy both, and don’t feel guilty about taking some shortcuts.  Just be sure to look at the label to make sure it doesn’t have a ton of “extra” stuff that you really don’t need (if you can’t pronounce it, you probably don’t need it).  One of my favorite recipes (brace yourself, it calls for peeling the chickpeas…and it really does make all the difference) is from Smitten Kitchen.  And please, for the love of all that’s good and holy, don’t skimp on the olive oil!

 

3.  Energy Bites

6907215929_29ed2b0329_zI’m sure many of you have heard of the Lara Bar craze.  I get it…they’re chewy, unprocessed (for the most part), and delicious.  They’re also expensive as crap!  Plus, I don’t usually want an entire bar, so then I’m left with half a bar that dries out and is pretty gross when I want some more (usually the next day).  Which is why energy bites is a much better alternative for me.  If you get on Pinterest, you can find plenty of recipes on how to make them, but most of them have the same method.  A grain (usually oats), some seeds, some nuts, a sweetener (I prefer honey), dried fruit, maybe some chocolate, and a binder (either a nut butter, or a sticky fruit).  Gimme Some Oven has a great recipe for Cranberry Pistachio Energy Bites, and it’s my favorite (I’m a sucker for pistachios).  It takes a little longer than the 15 minute prep time, but the results are totally worth it!  I like to make these before J and I go on a hike, because they’re great on the go, and are easily transportable.  Plus, these are fantastic for road trips, because they’re not messy and you can pre-pack them and pull them out as needed.

 

4.  Fruit

fruit-bowlThis one almost seems too easy.  But, raw fruit is a great healthy snack, and is easy to grab when you’re pressed for time.  For many fruits, the peel holds a lot of the fiber, which helps you feel full longer (obviously, this is only true for fruits that have edible peels), so don’t peel them if you don’t mind the taste.  When I’m at work, I like fruits that are easy to eat and not incredibly messy, so berries or grapes are usually my go-to.  However, when I’m at home, I prefer messier fruits, like plums and oranges.  My favorite fruits, overall, are blackberries and raspberries.  They’re tart and juicy, and easy to eat.  Plus, the more color to the fruit, the more nutritional value!  Another great way to eat fruit, especially in the summer, is to spread out whole pieces of fruit (berries, melon balls, and grapes work best for this) in a single layer, on a baking sheet. Then, place in the freezer and let the fruit freeze.  This really offers a sweet, cool treat during the hot summer months!

 

5.  Avocado

72468dd777e471da_cottage-cheese-avocadoI absolutely love avocado, and it’s one of my favorite “snacks,” when I have the time.  I don’t usually keep avocado in the house, so it’s more of a treat when I remember to pick one or two up at the grocery.  One of my favorite snacks with avocado (I have several) is avocado with cottage cheese.  The creamy avocado with the cold cottage cheese…it’s awesome!  Plus, cottage cheese (especially european style) has a more dry texture, so I really like how it tastes with the avocado.  If you feel like adding some more flavor, without a ton of extra calories, a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction would be really tasty on this as well!  When looking for avocados, I’ve found the best way to see if they’re ripe is to peel off the little nub where the stem would be.  If it’s green in there, it’s not too old.  Also, a gentle squeeze to see if it’s hard as a brick is a good trick too.

 

There you have it, my favorites in healthy snacking!  What are some of your favorites?  Feel free to let me know in the comments, as I’m always looking for new ideas!

Much love,
K.

30 Days of Blogging: Bucket List

These days, everyone has a bucket list.  You know, that list of things you absolutely want to accomplish before you die…the “bucket list.”  I have no idea where the name came from, to be honest, and I don’t even have a list to name, bucket or otherwise.  But, this question came up, and it made me think about some major things I’d like to accomplish in my lifetime.  Admittedly, most of mine are centered around travel, because it’s such a huge part of J’s and my life.  I tend to think in terms of places to see and experience, so these three bucket list items are concerning travel only.  I’ll save the rest for another time!

1.  Hike Kilimanjaro

kilimanjaroJ and I have talked about hiking Mount Kilimanjaro for a few years now.  Up until now, I’ve never been in good enough shape to even contemplate the hike, but now that I’m more active I’d really like to give it a go.  We’d like to fly into Africa, acclimate to the time difference for a few days, and then start the hike up the mountain.  After that concludes, we’d like to spend a week on a safari, just seeing the various animals and really experiencing Africa.  Plus, I’ve also come across a place in Kenya called the Giraffe Manor, and I’d love to stay there and see all the giraffes!  It would nearly wipe out our vacation for the year, but I think this trip would be worth it.  Definitely an experience of a lifetime!

 

2.  Visit Israel

Jerusalem-Israel-Dome-of-the-Rock-R-Duran-best-picture-galleryI have wanted to visit Israel for as long as I can remember.  When we lived overseas, we had discussed booking a “Holy Lands” cruise that hit up a few spots in Israel, but the cruise was eventually cancelled due to unrest in the region.  I’ve been fascinated with the Middle East for years, even going so far as to study Arabic for my undergraduate degree, and Israel would be such an amazing place to visit.  The history, religion, food, culture…I absolutely cannot wait!  I only hope that things settle down there soon and that there is, finally, peace in the region.  I have hopes that it’ll happen, at least in my lifetime, and I would love to be able to visit and take our children with us.  J is also incredibly interested in seeing this area of the world, plus there are some amazing scuba diving spots in Israel, so it could really be a well-rounded trip (culture, diving, eating – for me, and sightseeing).   Plus, J is huge into photography, so I think he could really get lost in the opportunities for amazing pictures in this area of the world.

 

3.  Hike Petra

PetraThis goes hand-in-hand with a visit to Israel.  Since we no longer live overseas, if we were to take a trip to the Middle East, we’d try to get a lot of things accomplished while there.  J and I both love hiking, and we would absolutely love hiking Petra.  We’d like to hike in at night, so that we can see the sun rise over the monuments, which I think would be stunning.  This was another trip that we had planned while living overseas, but due to instability in the area (though not in Jordan specifically), we cancelled our trip.  However, this is at the top of J’s list, so I doubt we’ll have any trouble getting there in our lifetime.  I think this would just be a 3-4 day add-on trip to Israel, and along with that we’d probably try to see the Egyptian pyramids, so I’d like to end up spending 3+ weeks in the Middle East, altogether.  There are still opportunities for our jobs to take us to Dubai (I’m holding out hope), but so far nothing concrete has come up.  If so, I could see so many things that are on my list…it would be fantastic!

So, there are three of my “bucket list” items.  Even without a physical list, I feel like as soon as I mark something off my mental list, it’s filled up with five new things.  It’s definitely a never-ending list that is constantly changing, but I think I prefer that because if I ran out of things to see in this world, then I’d be at a loss.  What are some of your “bucket-list” items?

Much love,
K.

Recipe Monday: Prosciutto, Arugula, and Egg Pizza

Over the past two weeks, J has been in Asia on business travel.  I’ll be honest, when J is away, cooking at home usually falls by the wayside.  But, after the first week of eating like a college student again, I was ready for a home cooked meal (to be honest, so was my waistline).  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make, so I spent a few minutes walking through the grocery before I came up with a meal that sounded delicious for dinner:  Prosciutto, Arugula, and Egg pizza!

This is a recreation of a pizza that I had while in Seattle, WA last May.  I know many of you are sitting here thinking, “Ummm…is she really going to put an egg on her pizza?”  Yeah, J thought the same thing when I ordered the pizza at the restaurant, but let me tell you, it is DELICIOUS!  I don’t mean to shout…ok, yes I do.  DELICIOUS!  The crunchy, salty prosciutto, paired with the creamy mozzarella, topped with a slightly runny egg and peppery arugula?  Oh my word, it’s just beyond belief good!

I was being lazy when I made this, so be forewarned.  I’ll admit, sometimes I make my own pizza crust, sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes I make my own pizza sauce, sometimes I don’t.  This dinner was all about ease of cooking, so I took the shortcuts where I could get them.  Pre-made crust?  Check.   Jarred pizza sauce?  Check.  Pre-washed arugula lettuce mix?  You bet your ass.  The only thing I technically “cooked” was the egg I topped it with.

Start with a pizza crust.  You can make your own, you can buy a pre-made one.  At the end of the day, it’s personal preference.  I went with the small pre-made pizza crust.  I topped it with jarred fire roasted pizza sauce.  From there, it was all about assembly.  I topped the sauce with two thin slices of prosciutto, and then thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese.  I put it in the oven, and waited for the bubbly goodness to happen.

Meanwhile, I dug out a skillet (see, this is where I “cooked”…so it counts as a home cooked meal) and heated it up with a small smidge of olive oil.  I broke an egg into the skillet and let it cook (without breaking the yolk) until the clear “whites” of the egg turned white and hardened up.  Then I turned off the burner and let it set while my pizza finished cooking.

Once finished, I brought out my pizza, and topped it with the pre-washed arugula lettuce mixture.  On top of that, I put on the egg and let the heat from the egg and the pizza wilt the lettuce.  And then…it was ready!  Time to eat!  Total time spent on this dinner was 15 minutes, max., and that included cooking time for the pizza.  Simple recipe that was quick to make, and healthier than take-out!  Hope you give it a try, and love it as much as I do!

Much love,
K.

30 Days of Blogging: Fitness Goals

tumblr_m5d4aoMZSB1romj9mo1_500I am a goal-oriented person.  If I don’t have something that I’m actively working towards, I become the laziest sack of poo this side of a college student that took 9 years to get a General Education degree.  I find that having goals helps focus me and really ups my drive to accomplish.  Without them, I could easily sit on my butt for days on end, accomplishing nothing and being completely happy about it.

My fitness goals are varied.  I’d like to maintain my weight loss.  It took a year for me to lose 60 pounds, and I’d prefer not to gain it back any time soon.  I’ve recently discovered trail running, and love it, so I’d like to run some more trail races.  As it’s coming up on winter, they’re few and far between (at least in this area), so I’ll have to wait for spring to roll around again.  I’d like to continue training, and there are plenty of 5k races to keep me busy in the meantime.  My goal for next year is a half marathon (there are two that I want to run: Indiana Women’s Trail Run and the Disney half) and a Tough Mudder.  The Tough Mudder I plan on running with some coworkers, so that will help my motivation to actually do it and finish.  It should be a ton of fun though!

Otherwise, regarding fitness overall, I’d like to work on my flexibility and core strength.  I plan on signing up for yoga classes after I cancel my current gym membership, so I think that will help a lot.  Yoga also helps so much with my overall mental health, as it really allows me to de-stress and relax, especially with all the work stress that I deal with on a daily basis.  Plus, I can do it anywhere, with hardly any equipment!  Perfect for travel!

What are your fitness goals?  Anything you’d like to start again, or pick up new?

Much love,
K.