Who Doesn’t Love a Giveaway??

Hi all! Just a super quick post today to tell you about a really awesome giveaway, as I am in the midst of getting sick and quite exhausted and about to crawl back into bed before I have to get ready for work…

Some of my blog friends and I have joined together with Swanson Vitamins for a great giveaway. We are giving away 2 $50 gift cards to Swanson Vitamins!

If you are not familiar with Swanson Vitamins, they have a huge selection of supplements (vitamins, herbs, protein, etc) at great prices. In addition to that they also have a pet health section, a great selection of teas (and you know I love tea), and a wonderful selection of healthy food and beverages all at really great prices. As someone who worked in the supplement industry until just recently, I can tell you that they have some great quality products available and their prices are some of the best around.

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{Full disclosure: this giveaway is sponsored by Swanson Vitamins and they are providing one of the gift cards, however I am not being compensated for this post in any way and all opinions are my own, as always}

So, now I’m sure you’re wondering how to enter… Simply follow the directions in the widget below, you have the opportunity for up to 10 entries. The giveaway is open to US residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Moving, Medical Issues and Christmas Surprises

There are a lot of thoughts swirling around in this brain of mine right now, and I am trying to sort them all out, so this week’s post might be a little more random than usual…

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~ My dad’s medical issues are continuing and he’s back in the hospital again for his foot. They haven’t even set a date for the bypass surgery because they are still working on the foot. I found out late Tuesday night that he was going back in the hospital again Wednesday morning, so my anxiety is pretty high right now. Plus my mom has finally gotten things set up with her new doctor, but she hasn’t started radiation yet, so that’s hovering at the back of my mind.

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~ My determination to move to Oregon at the end of January has been reinforced with the new developments, I really hate being so far away from my family even though they are much closer than they were before they moved in July. It’s still too early to start applying for jobs, but I’ve been checking out what’s available and looking into apartments in the area. Part of me wishes I could just be there now, but I know that I can’t afford to break my lease, so I have to wait a couple more months.

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~ While my anxiety is super high right now, I am doing pretty good avoiding the “eat all the food” urge that generally comes with it. Of course I pretty much slept all of yesterday, and spent all night in bed because it is so freaking cold, so that is probably why.

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~ There is a possibility, as long as my days off at work don’t change, that I might actually get to spend Christmas with my family! I’ve mentioned it to my brother, but I haven’t said anything to my parents yet, so shhhh! I don’t want to get their hopes up if it falls through and I kind of just want to show up and surprise them. I just have to decide between renting a car or taking the train… car is cheaper, faster and more convenient, but I’ll be leaving straight from work and usually sleep during the day so I’m worried about driving tired, whereas I could sleep on the train. I haven’t really celebrated Christmas since I moved to Washington, so it would be amazing if I could be with my family this year.

~ I’m still determined to reach for my dreams, though I’m frustrated at not being able to afford tuition right now, and at the lack of support I received. (I mentioned this last week). I’m hoping the move and the lower cost of living will help and that I’ll be able to fit tuition payments into my budget. Or maybe I’ll win the lottery (though I have to play for that to happen). I don’t have it worked out yet, I just know that I’m not giving up on myself.

Ok, I think I’ve exhausted most of the stuff swirling in my head right now… Please stop by and say hi to Amanda, the amazing host of Thinking Out Loud. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out some of the other posts as well.

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Without Words~ 11/9/14

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Now Read This… 11/8/14

Are you ready for this week’s must reads?

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10 Tips for Growing Your Blog from SITS

It’s All About Perspective from Nut Butter Runner

It It’s Important to You, You Will Find A Way from Happy Food, Healthy Life

Bloggers Benefiting Others {Introduction} from Fitting It All In

How Water Affects your Mood from The Lean Green Bean (via Fresh Food Perspectives)

27 Life Lessons in 27 Years from Peace, Love & Oats

Finding Your AND at the Back of the Pack from FitFluential

 

What are your favorite reads this week?

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Healthy Snacking Part I~ Nuts and Seeds

When I am craving a snack, I usually lean towards something savory or crunchy. One of my favorite things to snack on are nuts and seeds, they pack a punch with protein and healthy fat, and really help to carry me through to my next meal.

As you all know, I am a huge fan of almonds and at any given time I probably have 4 or 5 cans of Blue Diamond Almonds in my cupboard, but I also love a lot of other nuts and seeds as well. Of course my favorite Blue Diamond flavors are the Rosemary and Black Pepper and the Salt and Vinegar (The Honey Dijon ones are pretty good too).

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Sunflower seeds are almost always featured on my salads. I love the taste and the little crunch they add. I prefer to get the ones that are roasted and salted, because I like that extra flavor a touch of salt adds. When they aren’t in my salads, sunflower seeds often find their way into my tummy as a quick snack. Just a handful will usually give me enough of that crunchy salty flavor I am looking for in a snack.

Peanuts are another nut I really enjoy. There are sweet nuts out there and I love the honey roasted kind, but I also really love a good dry roasted peanut.  One of the great things about nuts as snacks is that you don’t really need a whole lot of them to be satisfied, or at least I don’t. Usually a handful is plenty, though occasionally I’ll go back for a second.

This time of year, I really like walnuts. I used them a lot in baking and love just eating them straight out of the bag (or out of the shell if I have a nutcracker nearby). I tend to eat my walnuts plain, without any seasoning, though candied walnuts are pretty awesome too.

Another big time favorite of mine is pumpkin seeds. I love them roasted and salted, though will eat them pretty much any way I can get them!

On rarer occasions I’ll grab a handful of pistachios or pecans, though I tend to stick with the big guys listed above most frequently. One nut you won’t see me grabbing for a snack (and is the reason I avoid most mixed nut blends) is cashews. Sorry, just not a fan of the cashew.

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One of my favorite ways to eat nuts is trail mix, though the calorie content can get pretty high depending on what is included. I really like to make my own with all of the nuts listed above (I use plain almonds and will go for unsalted versions of most of the nuts) plus dried fruits and dark chocolate chips… it’s super yummy and I’ll portion it out into snack size servings and have it on hand to enjoy for a couple of weeks.

What are your favorite nuts and seeds to snack on?

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Falling Back, Discouragement and October Success

It’s Thursday… let the thinking begin!

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~ I have always loved the time change in the fall, mostly because it gave me an extra hour of sleep and who doesn’t love that! This year I really struggled though. Since I work overnight now, the extra hour just meant that I worked an extra long shift. And then I struggled for the next couple of days when it came time to fall asleep. While my paycheck will enjoy the extra hour, my body had a really hard time adjusting this year.

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~ Speaking of struggling, I am having a very difficult time right now believing in myself and my dreams. The lack of money and the lack of support I’ve received from those around me when I talk about my dreams is discouraging. I know that I have changed directions several times in my life, but I have always been interested in, and passionate about, writing, fitness, nutrition and helping others which is why I finally feel like I am on the right path after so many years. Unfortunately the people in my life have seen me change direction so many times that I think they feel this is just another phase and don’t really think I can do it. The lack of support and financial barriers are making me really doubt if I will reach my goals.

~ On a more positive note, I feel like I had a very successful October in many ways. I stepped on the scale on November 1st and was shocked to discover I had lost almost 9 lbs! I think taking the pressure off myself really allowed me to find a rhythm and my enjoyment in cooking again helped me stick with real food rather than resorting to convenience foods. I really want to keep this momentum going through November and beyond.

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~ I’m starting to worry that I won’t be able to move to Oregon when my lease is up at the end of January. I’m stressing about finding a job down there, because I have to find a job before I can move. But I don’t want to get into another lease here in Washington either and month-to-month rent where I’m living now is an extra $150 a month. I still have almost 3 months to go, but I’m just really nervous.

~ There are so many ideas for the blog circling in my head right now, I’m just having a hard time actually executing them with my schedule. I tend to lose a lot of productive time to sleeping and commuting right now. I need to figure out a way to better use the time I have to wait at work before the first bus so that I can get more done, but I’m not able to do blog related stuff on my work computer and I no longer have a laptop. I am toying with the idea of working on posts on paper while I’m waiting, but then I still need to have the time to actually sit down and transfer them to the computer… I just need about 5 more hours in the day, then I’ll be set.

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~ Speaking of time constraints, I have been doing really well with doing short chunks of exercise throughout the day (night) as I can fit them in. I squeeze in 10 minutes here and there with a goal of 5 10 minute sessions every day (not counting my walk to and from the bus). Some days I’m successful, other days I get in 2-3 sessions, but anything is better than nothing, so I’ll take it.

~ And on that note, I’m going to conclude today’s thoughts so I can get some more posts written and prepared for the week!

Don’t forget to stop by Amanda’s blog to check out some more great bloggers who are Thinking Out Loud!

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What I Ate Wednesday~ Kitchen Adventures

I sometimes forget how much I love to cook. I get busy (and lazy) and came come up with a million reasons why it’s easier not to cook for just one. But I love the Food Network and can get inspired by some of the shows to head to the kitchen. Since Netflix picked up some of the Chopped seasons, I have been getting very inspired indeed. {I have no affiliation with The Food Network or Chopped, this is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own… }

Now, I am not a food blogger, and I never use a recipe (or make something the same way twice), but I still enjoy getting creative in the kitchen every now and again. Last week I got on a little Chopped marathon on my days off and did a bunch of creative cooking. I thought I’d join up with Peas & Crayons and share some of my creations for some What I Ate Wednesday Action…

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(I apologize in advance for the horrible photos, when you work nights and sleep all day, you don’t get a lot of natural light and have to make do.)

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Sausage, Sautéed Veggies and Pasta~ I’ve done the sausage and sautéed veggies before, but changed up the veggies a bit this time and added some pasta. It was quite yummy and made enough for a couple of meals.

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Shrimp Fried Rice~ I went a little overboard on the rice and my rice to other stuff ratio was a little off, and I could have used a bit more seasoning, but all in all this turned out pretty good, and again, I was able to get a couple of meals out of it.

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Shrimp Quesadillas~ While they did not photograph well, these were amazing! I make plain quesadillas all the time, but this is the first time I’ve really gotten creative with them. I had some extra cooked shrimp and a few left over veggies (red & green bell pepper, red onion & a roma tomato), so I just diced them, and mixed them all up with a little Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming and added them to the tortillas and cheese and came up with pure deliciousness! I will definitely be doing these again!

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Apple Crumble~ This was another trial and error piece. It was the first time I had baked with apples and I didn’t peel them, so the skin was a little tough, next time I will peel the apples first. But I basically diced up a granny smith and a honeycrisp apple, topped with some butter and topped with an oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour mixture. Aside from the texture on the apple skin, it came out really well.

I have quite a few more ideas that I am hoping to make this week (and will share with you next week if I do). The number one thing I want to make combines one of my favorite snacks and two of my favorite flavors… I bet it’s going to taste amazing!

What have you created in the kitchen recently?

Posted in Food for Thought | 4 Comments

Now Read This… 11/01/14

Happy November!!!

Here are some great reads from the last couple of weeks in the blog world…

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Learning to Fall from Honeystuck

Tips to Help You Get Started Vlogging from SITS

How to Create a Blogging Media Kit from Peanut Butter Fingers (guest post from Katy Widrick)

5 Ways to Get Off Your BUTT and MOVE this Winter from Fit and Free with Emily

Turning Negative Thoughts Around from Living the Before

Meaning vs. Happiness from Fitting it All In

5 Ways to Determine if Health Coaching (the Career) is For You from Mommy, run fast!

Learning to Savor Each Bite- The Importance of Eating Slow from Ingredients of a Fit Chick

How to Receive Your Heart’s Desire from Life Sprinkles

Do You Hear What You’re Saying? from Talk Less, Say More

 

What are your favorite posts from the last week?

 

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Hot Drinks for Cool Nights

I’ve been talking for the last few weeks about my love of tea. While I find tea to be very relaxing, there are two other hot drinks that I really enjoy in the fall and winter. And I love them in their innocent forms as well as adult versions.

The first is hot apple cider. I love a good hot spiced cider in the fall, but it’s something I have never made on my own before (I think I’m going to need to try it out this year). I usually pick up hot cider while I am out at events. If you ever see me with a hot drink from Starbucks, it’s their Caramel Apple Spice.

Generally I enjoy hot cider with a dash of cinnamon, or a cinnamon stick. I’ve had it with caramel flavoring added (like at Starbucks) and I’ve had it just plain. But to really kick it up a notch, I enjoy an adult version with a little spiced rum added!

My other favorite hot drink is probably pretty obvious… of course it’s hot chocolate! Because so many things go great with chocolate, there is a lot of versatility with this one. I have never made hot chocolate from scratch, though that’s something else to try, but I do doctor up the mixes a bit. While I generally make my hot chocolate with water, I like to add a little milk to the mix before I add the water, not a lot, maybe a tablespoon or so. I’ve only done this with regular cow’s milk, but I think almond milk (especially a vanilla flavor) would also work well.

Sometimes I’ll drink my cocoa just like that. Other times I’ll give it a twist with vanilla, peppermint or raspberry extracts. I might just add a candy cane to the cup, or sometimes drink it with just a topping of whipped cream. The only way you really won’t see me drink hot chocolate is with marshmallows… I am not a fan of marshmallows, unless they are roasted over a campfire.

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To really add some fun to hot chocolate, I take it to the adult level and add either a peppermint liqueur or a flavored vodka. One of my favorite combinations is hot chocolate with raspberry vodka, though the vanilla and whipped cream flavors work well too. You could do a lot of other things with hot chocolate as well… maybe some Fireball or an orange liqueur? I just think the flavor of chocolate really lends itself to some great pairings.

What drinks to you enjoy on a cold evening? Do you keep to the innocent side or spice things up a bit and drink adult versions?

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Productivity, Planning Ahead and Losing a Day

My titles are getting more and more random for these Thinking Out Loud posts, but since these posts can be pretty random at times, I guess that’s ok! As always, head on over to Amanda’s blog and check out some of the other great reads this week!

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~ I pretty much lost all of Wednesday. It was really as if the day didn’t even happen. Of course it did, I just pretty much slept through all of it (or at least most of it). I got home from work about 6 am, did a few things on the computer (read played Diner Life and Klondike on Facebook), then was in bed and asleep somewhere around 8:30 am. I woke up around 3:30 pm, did a few things around the house, played on the computer a bit more, realized I was completely exhausted, and went back to bed about 6:30 pm. I woke up about 11 pm and have been awake ever since (it’s about 7:30 am as I type this).

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~ Because of this, and my extremely unproductive night ( a couple of episodes of Chopped, some reading and more game time), I decided that I was going to focus on 24 hours of productivity. I put together some plans and kicked off my official start time at 5 am this morning. Because I like to give things catchy names, I am calling this “24 Highly Productive Hours.”

~ So far this morning I have changed the filter in my water pitcher, unclogged the drain in the shower, washed dishes, folded laundry, updated my plug-ins, updated my GoFundMe page, put together a new study schedule and read 20 of the 608 posts in my Bloglovin’ feed.

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~ I always get inspired to cook after I watch Chopped, so I have some really yummy meals planned for this 24 hour period. I plan to document them for next Wednesday’s post. I also plan to write a week’s worth of posts today if possible since I’m having such a hard time posting during the week. And yes, I realize that for most people, Thursday is considered part of the “week,” but it’s actually my Sunday, therefore part of my “weekend.”

~ One of the reasons I was so tired yesterday is that I think I’m coming down with something. The weather has taken a dramatic change over the last week or so and this usually brings on a cold for me. So far it’s just a lot of tiredness and some minor throat congestion, but the extra sleep was certainly welcome!

~ I just realized that it is almost November and I am in a minor panic. My least is up at the end of January, which is when I was planning to move to Oregon. That’s only 3 months away! I have to find a job, a place to live, save up some money, coordinate moving, and all that stuff. One my list of projects today includes some detailed planning to get myself prepared.

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~ And this weekend is the time-change. I have always loved “fall back” because it meant an extra hour of sleep. I realized that this year it means an extra hour of work… I’m not so sure how I feel about that.

What are you thinking about today? Have you ever “lost” a day.

Posted in Thinking Out Loud | 4 Comments