Birthday Celebration

Today my mom turns another year older! Yay! Wait.. oh.. not ok mom? Sorry..  IMG_3748.JPG  And while I love teasing her on her birthday (I’m such a nice daughter..), I like to think about everything I love about her! My mom has been the most inspirational person in my life and for that I am so grateful to call her my mom :) IMG_3747.JPGMy mom always seems to make me feel happy and reassured when I am sad or unsure of myself. I would continue on about how awesome my mom is but I know that you all don’t want to read that kind of sappy stuff. Besides, I am sure that most of you have similar relationships with your mothers (or others).

With all of that said, I always try my best to make sure that my mom has a good day on her birthdays. She has always gone above and beyond for my birthdays, so I try my best to return the favor. And besides.. I like to celebrate ;)  IMG_3750.JPG In my family, we always let the birthday person chose where to eat dinner. My mom chose Kona Grill. For those of you living in the northern suburbs of Chicago, I highly recommend eating at this restaurant.  IMG_3753.JPG I was VERY hungry when we went for dinner, so I ordered sushi.. in addition to my meal.  IMG_3756.JPG It may not have been the best idea.. because I was unable to finish the main course. I did love the Pad Thai though! Definitely eating this for lunch tomorrow :) It was so flavorful & a tad spicy- perfect combo!  mom&ibdaydinner Me and the birthday girl!  IMG_0166

And of course we had to get an ice cream cake. What’s a birthday without one? momcake The birthday girl & her cake.  IMG_0171 And my diet is down the drain. Oops.

Now it’s your turn! Let me know what you love about your moms (or mother figures) in the comments below :)

Caribbean & Bahamas Recap- Days 1 & 2

As I promised, I made a video recap of my vacation! Instead of making a ridiculously long video, I decided to break this video apart by days/locations. I am still trying to decide whether or not I want to combine locations or not. We will see!

So I kept this video very short and sweet. The point of this first video was to show the prep for the cruise. I guess I was trying to pump you all up or something. I don’t really know, lol. The next video will definitely have more talking but not too much, so don’t worry!

As for an actual recap of my first and second day on vacation, I wrote a post already on the first day & you can all check it out here if you have not already. As for the second day, we returned to Downtown Disney before boarding the ship. I didn’t film that second trip because I was feeling lazy I didn’t bring my video camera with me. My main goal for going to Downtown Disney again was to find an Olaf stuffed animal. I know, I know. Why in the world does a 19 (almost 20) year old girl want a stuffed animal? Well, it’s because I love Disney’s Frozen movie sooooo much. In fact, it may be my favorite Disney movie as of now!  Every time I look at Olaf I can’t help but to smile. His silliness makes me laugh! With that said, I wanted to find an Olaf stuffed animal to bring with me to college. Don’t judge people. Olaf is just too cool.

Unfortunately I was unable to find Olaf. Apparently Disney’s Hollywood Studios is having a special Frozen event going on right now so they demanded all of the stores to send them their Olafs. As a result, I do not yet own an Olaf.  IMG_3712 Despite my Olaf struggles, I did have a great time walking around with my family. Afterwards, we hopped on a bus and headed to Port Canaveral to board our ship. After boarding we settled into our room & had dinner in “The Enchanted Garden”. I was pretty tired that day (maybe because I got 2 hours of sleep the two nights before and maybe 6 the night before) so I didn’t feel like taking photos. Sometimes you just have to enjoy the moment, ya know?

Well, I hope you all enjoyed the video. The next video will be on our stop to Cozumel, Mexico. It will probably be on here either tomorrow night or Wednesday night.

Homeeeeeee

Wow. Is it just me.. or do vacations seem to fly by?! When I was walking through the airport to get back to our car I felt as if I had never even left the airport. Such a weird feeling.  bags With that all said, I am home again.. hence the title! Despite this week flying by, I have done soooooooo much. Like.. it is actually making me tired just thinking about how I am going to write about it all. Ugh. I can be so lazy sometimes :P  DCIM100GOPRO However, I managed to film my trip. Soooo.. I will probably end up making a video that will bring you on all of my adventures. Besides, the video will probably be more entertaining for you all to watch rather than reading a post on what I did. Boring. Let’s have some fun!! Am I right?!

With that said, I will start editing the video tomorrow. Depending on how lazy productive I may show you all the video anywhere from tomorrow night to Monday night. I can’t wait to show you all :)

Chicken & Andouille Jambalaya

I love mixing things up when it comes to food. After realizing that I hadn’t made Jambalaya in over a year, I decided that it was time to make it once again. This time, I tried using a new recipe. While I originally planned to follow this recipe, I ended up not following it exactly.  IMG_9838

Modified recipe:

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Andouille sausages
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 cups uncooked brown rice
  • 6 cups (approximately) fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

To see the original recipe, click here. The jambalaya I made tasted great, but I still have more improvements to make :)

Want to see my post on the last time I made Jambalaya? Check it out here!

Have you ever had Jambalaya?

What’s your favorite recipe?

 

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Açai Berry Bowl

açaiberrybowl Smoothie places and açai bowl cafes are selling their açai bowls anywhere from $5-8. That’s almost $10 for a bowl of fruit. Anyone else think that’s crazy?! With that said, I decided to show you all just how easy it is to make your own. Not only will your açai bowl taste great, but it will be significantly cheaper & nutritious!

Video on how to make it :)

Here’s what I chose to put in mine:

  • 1 packet of frozen açai berries (use 2 for more açai flavor)
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups almond milk (or any other milk)
  • 1 scoop whey protein (optional)

Topped with:

  • Monkey Granola (granola, chocolate chips, dried banana)
  • Chia seeds

This bowl was ridiculously easy to make, so give it a try! For more fun, try adding your own favorite toppings!

If you make try making one, be sure to post it on Twitter or Instagram & to tag me :)

 

Downtown Disney

Hey guys! I am actually writing you from Florida today! IMG_3577.JPG

IMG_3579.JPGI am so happy to be on vacation.. because I really needed one! Everything has been go go go since Christmas.. so it’s been a while since I have been able to relax! With that said, I will be taking some time to relax.. which means not posting. HOWEVER, I already wrote a few posts in advanced :) So don’t worry!  IMG_3582.JPG As for today’s happenings, we ate dinner at the House of Blues.  IMG_3586.JPG After a day of travelling, we were starving.. so we couldn’t resist ordering appetizers. IMG_3587.JPGCorn bread with shrimp.

IMG_3588.JPG After spotting Jambalaya on their menu, I knew that I just had to try it! However, to my surprise.. I feel like I have had better Jambalayas. In fact, the Jambalaya I made this past week tasted better to me. Maybe I am a little biased.. but I could not help noticing that there were very few vegetables in the Jambalaya. While I still enjoyed eating their dish, I was still a tad disappointed. IMG_3592.JPGDespite the large amount of food we ate, we could not resist stopping in Ghirardelli for some chocolate & icecream ;) IMG_3596-0.JPG I ended up ordering a sundae with a cookie on the bottom and icecream on top. It was soooo good but soooo bad for me! LOL. I guess this is what happens when on vacation :P imageAfter enjoying my sundae, I came across this insanity. Guys.. I may have freaked out a little.. imageI loooove Vera Bradley so much, and my college friends would have to agree with me.. haha. I may have decorated my dorm with lots of Vera Bradley..imageNot only do I love Vera Bradley.. but I am a huge Disney fan. So, when I saw that Vera Bradley made a Disney line.. only sold on Disney property.. I became very very excited. How could I not? With that said, I may have made a splurge ;)

Well, I hope that all of you have a lovely weekend. For now, enjoy the posts I have planned for you & I will talk to you all later :)

Tea Talk Tuesday

For those of you who do not already know, I am obsessed with tea. More specifically: green tea. Can’t get enough of it! With that said, I thought it would be fun to start Tea Talk Tuesday. I will be hosting a Tea Talk Tuesday every Tuesday. The purpose? To chat with you all & enjoy some tea while at it! So grab yourself a cup of tea and let’s chat! Or if you prefer coffee.. you could do that instead!  TeaTalkTuesday Let me start off with how upset I was & still am about Robin Williams passing away. I grew up watching Robin Williams on screen. He has never failed to make me laugh and put a smile on my face. Sure, his lines were mostly written for him, but he did an excellent job acting out those lines. Now that I think of it.. I don’t know of any movies that I disliked with Robin Williams in them. I guess I will miss his friendly looking face on the screen. Not to mention, I just watched a trailer to the next Night at the Museum. I wonder how the movie will change with him not in part of it. Such a shame.

On a brighter note, I have been obsessing over Divergent. I was obsessed with the book 2 and a half years ago.. and now I am obsessed with the movie. The casting was perfect, in my opinion. Well, it probably doesn’t hurt that Four (one of the main characters) was played by a fine looking fellow ;)


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Not to mention, Shailene Woodley did a great job playing Tris in the movie.

 
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Speaking of their acting, both Theo James (Four) and Shailene Woodley (Tris) both won awards at the Teen Choice Awards last night. I usually don’t care about the TCA to be honest, but I was happy to hear that Divergent won action movie of the year and that Theo & Shailene won best action actor & actress.

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Not only did she win an award for Divergent, but she also won an award for The Fault in Our Stars. I have yet to watch or read The Fault in Our Stars.. and I am not sure if I want to. I know everyone is raving about how great of a book & movie it is, but I also heard that it’s sad. Why would I want to willingly make myself cry? I don’t know. What do you guys think? Should I read the book? Have you already read the book and/or watched the movie?

While we are talking about books, I want to know what you all are reading! I am currently reading Boys in the Boat and am liking it so far! I am not that far in, but I can already tell that it is gonna be a great book. My mom & a few teammates have already read it and they all loved it. In fact, there are a lot of people who have zero rowing experience that read the book and loved it. It makes me so happy to hear that more people are being exposed to rowing :) If any of you need a book to read, read Boys in the Boat! Then we can talk about it together :) Also, I saw it at Costco for $7.99 which is a great deal! I think I bought the book for $28.95 at a regatta.. so that sucks.


On another note, I am soooo pumped for school to start again! I miss walking to class & going to practice. Wow. I never thought I would hear myself say that.. but it’s true. I miss all of my friends and teammates! College is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun. I have made so many great memories already :)

Speaking of practice, this week is the first week that I don’t have any school or tourguide (lol, sorry Carrie!) responsibilities. With that said, I have been able to finally train harder. Don’t get me wrong, I have been training pretty hard this whole summer. I mean.. I beat my personal record on a 10k test by a lot.. so I think I have been doing pretty well.. but now I am doing better. I only have one month left of summer training and I really want to make sure I come back in better shape than I left. I hate losing progress. It sucks. Plus, I have to improve by a lot on my 2k tests this year. My goal for the end of this year is around 15 seconds faster than my PR (personal record) from this past year. With that said, my first 2k back (in October) needs to be no slower than 10 seconds from my PR this past year. If I go slower than 10 seconds, I will be off track for my four year 2k plan.. and nobody wants that! So yeah, I have a lot of work to do.

 Well, I think that is about it for today’s Tea Talk Tuesday! If you guys want to hop on board use the TTT photo at the top of this page in your own post, but be sure to link it back over here :) Most importantly, I want to hear all of your thoughts!

Roommate Adventures

Hi guys!! For those of you who are following me on Instagram, you may have seen lots of pics from Chicago & my roommate, Carrie. After my chemistry course ended, Carrie flew in from Idaho & stayed a week. 20140811-104357-38637033.jpgNeedless to say, we did a lot of things this past week. We also goofed around a lot.. if you can’t tell from the picture above.. 20140811-104357-38637154.jpg Because I have an entire week to fill you all in on, I will try to break this post apart by days. Starting with Tuesday20140811-104357-38637274.jpg Besides taking a very unflattering picture, we started our Tuesday off at my favorite breakfast place: Egg Harbor. As usual, all of our breakfasts turned out fantastic. Egg Harbor is always a winner :) After breakfast, we walked around town and went biking. It was pretty hot outside while biking, but we still had a fun time exploring the trails & the forest preserve. 
  IMG_9642 On Wednesday, we hopped on a train and headed to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I hadn’t been there since I was in 8th grade during Christmas time with my sister & uncle. So I guess it has been a while!  mecarrielion  I forgot how pretty the Lincoln Park Zoo was! Everything was so green & pretty.  IMG_9674  I also had a great time taking pictures of the animals :)  IMG_9680  Caught Carrie off guard here, but the photo turned out so natural looking :) I love these kinds of shots.  IMG_9681 My pic was posed though.. but that’s ok!  IMG_9693 One of my favorite things about the Lincoln Park Zoo, is that it is in the city. I love city parks & how much there is to do around them. 20140811-104357-38637388.jpg I had a little too much fun… IMG_9723  Is it just me or does it look like he was staring at me…  IMG_9725 More prettiness outside of the zoo.  IMG_9726  After the Zoo, we hopped on a bus & walked to my favorite hotdog place: Franks ‘N Dawgs.

IMG_9727Carrie loved all the houses in Lincoln Park (and so do I), so I snapped a pic. IMG_9729 By the time we arrived, we were so hungry! It’s been a while since I have been to Franks ‘N Dawgs, so I forgot what hotdog I used to get. I think they may have changed the menu.. because I didn’t recognize most of the hotdogs. With that said, I decided to try their BLT dog. And boy, was it good!  IMG_9732 Carrie tried the Southerner, and was impressed. Nobody makes hotdogs like these guys do.  IMG_9733  After Franks ‘N Dawgs, we had to stop at Molly’s Cupcakes. How could you not?  IMG_9734  Usually, I order their chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake.. but I decided to switch it up this time and try their cookies ‘n cream cupcake. Let’s just say.. I am going to have a very difficult time deciding on which cupcake to get next time..  IMG_9736 And Carrie tried their butterscotch cupcake.  IMG_9737  After an insane amount of delicious food, we headed to Navy Pier. IMG_9745

IMG_9753  And of course we had to go on the ferris wheel! Side note: anyone else look at this and think of Divergent? I sure do!

IMG_9754  The view from above IMG_9755

IMG_9760

IMG_9761  mecarrieferriswheel As for Thursday, we met up with one of my grade school friends & walked around the farmer’s market. Afterwards, we headed to my favorite shopping mall: Oakbrook Mall. 20140811-104358-38638006.jpg Once we arrived at Oakbrook Mall, we ran into Lord and Taylor. Carrie had never been in a Lord and Taylor, so I had to show her around! To make things more fun, we looked for designer dresses and tried them on! 20140811-120327-43407563.jpg The problem with trying on designer dresses.. is that you end up wanting them. Too bad their pricey.. and I don’t have a place to wear it to.. boo.  carrieandimall There were so many pretty flowers at the mall, so we couldn’t resist taking a picture with them!   After Oakbrook Mall, we picked up Divergent from Redbox. I read Divergent around 2 and 1/2 years ago and was obsessed with the book. Such a good book. Anyway, I was too busy in college to see the movie, so I finally was able to rent it. My overall thoughts? Absolutely amazing! I usually don’t like movies about books I have read, but this movie did not disappoint me. Now I am dying to see the next movie (Insurgent). Ugh. I hate waiting!

As for Friday, we headed back to Chicago. My mom got out of work early, so we all headed to the Science and Industry Museum.  IMG_9773   IMG_9775_2   IMG_9779
IMG_9780 More sweets.. IMG_9783 I also took a picture with my good pal, Walt.  IMG_9785  While we were at the Science and Industry Museum, they were having an exhibit on Walt Disney and his journey as an animator and entrepreneur.

IMG_9786 IMG_9786It was so cool learning about how Disney created his famous films and the effect that his company has on the world today. It was absolutely mind-blowing. I can’t believe how much work they put into one film. Serious talent and patience right there. IMG_9794  After spending some time at the museum, we stopped by Millennuim Park for some sight-seeing. IMG_9796

IMG_9798

IMG_9805 And of course I had to show Carrie the Bean! IMG_9812

IMG_9813After sitting in traffic for a long time, we headed to a local restaurant and had dinner. The rest of the weekend, Carrie and I walked around my town a lot and shopped. Carrie’s town doesn’t have many stores, so she had a lot of things to buy.

Overall, we had a great time together! I am going to miss her, but hey, I’ll see her again in a month when school starts again!

Now just a few questions for you all: 

Have you ever been to Chicago?

Have you seen Divergent?

Buh-Bye Chemistry

I can’t believe that I am forever finished with (general) chemistry. Wow. I am also proud of myself for learning a full year’s worth of college chemistry in 8 weeks AND getting good grades :D Chemistry has always been my hardest class, so I am feeling pretty accomplished right now :)

 Besides chemistry, I have been cleaning my room & spending quality time with my mom. Usually, I keep my room very clean. I hate messy rooms.. but it has been pretty messy for these past few weeks. I kept telling myself to focus on chemistry rather than cleaning my room (I often want to clean instead of studying… oops!). With that said, I began to deep clean my room.  20140802-203111-73871858.jpg  After reorganizing my room, I began to dust. That is when I noticed the dust collect on my blinds. Gross right? With that said, I began to clean each blind. It took me around 2 hours and 45 minutes to do, but it was so worth it!

20140802-203716-74236494.jpg After hours of cleaning, my mom and I decided to get lunch/dinner at a new Japanese restaurant called the Seasons of Japan. To our surprise, this restaurant was set up very casually. You walk up to a cash register and order your food. No waiter. No assigned seating. 20140802-203716-74236135.jpgWe both ended up ordering chicken teriyaki bento boxes and were surprised by the low prices at this restaurant. We were expecting this place to be more of a restaurant, but it was more of a fancy fast food restaurant. 20140802-203716-74236858.jpgWhile the food was satisfactory, I was a little unsure of their iced green tea. I have never seen iced green tea that was so bright in color. It also seemed a bit strange that despite the bright color, the taste was very weak. The iced tea tasted like water. If you focused hard enough, you could just barely taste a hint of green tea. I have to wonder if they used artificial coloring..

After our meal, we rented Heaven is for Real from Redbox. I had heard from a few of my friends that it was a great movie, so I was excited to finally see it for myself.  I ended up enjoying the movie, but I wasn’t blown away by its quality. Like most movies, I feel like the book was probably a lot better. One aspect of the movie that really got me thinking was the image of Jesus presented.   According to the movie, a young girl with a similar experience to the main character, painted the image above of what Jesus looked like (after her encounter). Shockingly, she painted this vivid image at the age of 8 years old. WAIT. WHAT?! In addition to her miraculous painting abilities, the boy said that the painting accurately depicted the Jesus that he encountered during his time in Heaven.

Now do I believe this? I have no idea. I have always tried not to associate God or Jesus with any images, but I do have to wonder if this is really what Jesus looks like. I guess images should not really matter when it comes to our faith, but this was definitely intriguing. I guess I will just leave this as an unknown mystery.

Food, Grandma, & Shopping

Hellooooooooo people!

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This morning, I woke up pretty hungry so I made myself a rather large breakfast. My breakfast consisted of chopped bell pepper, onions, & tomatoes with scrambled eggs and freshly made juice.

20140727-115349-42829382.jpgIf any of you are interested in trying this juice, just use:

  • 3 carrots
  • 2 apples
  • 1-2 handfuls of kale
  • 1/4 orange

And voila, you have a vitamin packed juice!

But let’s rewind a few days! 20140727-115721-43041867.jpgFriday afternoon, I decided to go and spend time with my grandma. Before heading over I made sure to finish my workout for the day (assigned by my coach). Friday’s workout consisted of completing a 40 min steady state, so I chose running. Rather than taking it slow, I pushed myself and ended up with a faster pace than I usually run. I was very tired while running it, but I wanted to see where exactly I was at and how hard I could go. Pushing myself seems to be paying off. I feel like I am getting a lot faster now :)

(pic above from their website^)20140727-115722-43042533.jpgAfter my run, I took a quick shower and headed straight to my grandma’s house. We then decided to grab dinner at our favorite place to eat… the Bohemian Garden. I have been coming here with my grandma since I was a little girl. My brother and sister aren’t huge Bohemian food fans, so this has been a special place that my grandma and I go to together. 20140727-115720-43040581.jpgAs for food, I have been ordering the same thing since.. well.. forever. I can’t seem to pull myself away from their delicious pork tenderloin and potato dumplings. So good!

20140727-115721-43041466.jpg With their entrée comes a side of soup or salad. That day they were serving cream of cabbage soup, so I gave it a try! I think I have found a new favorite soup from there!

20140727-115720-43040291.jpgMy grandma, on the other hand, is more adventurous than I am at the Bohemian Garden. She always seems to try something new.

20140727-115721-43041154.jpgThis time she ordered their polish sausage & their bread dumplings. She wasn’t able to finish it all, so I was able to try a piece & was impressed by how delicious they were! I highly recommend you try visiting the Bohemian Garden if you are ever near Downer’s Grove!

20140727-115719-43039983.jpg An hour later I had a sweet tooth. Bad Brittany, I know. So we headed over to a nearby froyo place and got some frozen yogurt. I may have gone overboard on the toppings.. oops! :P 20140727-115506-42906512.jpg After our froyo trip, we decided to stop by Target and buy Frozen! My grandma was telling my how she never saw it, so I insisted that she watched it. It may be my favorite Disney movie right now.. 20140727-115506-42906404.jpgMy grandma ended up loving the movie, but then again who doesn’t?! I was so happy to relax with green tea (of course), my grandma, and a cute movie :) 20140727-115506-42906274.jpg Saturday morning, my grandma surprised me by coming over to our house. My mom and I always go to our town’s French Market every Saturday, so I was happy to show my grandma around. Needless to say, she loved it there! Afterwords we decided to walk around the downtown area of our town. Little did we know, there was a sidewalk sale going on! I was able to find so many great things for practically no money! It was great :) 20140727-115505-42905411.jpg After shopping, we grabbed lunch at my favorite BBQ place ever: Real Urban BBQ. Seriously. The. Best. Place. Ever. 20140727-115505-42905928.jpgTheir ribs are ridiculously good, but I love their chopped salads too. I love how fresh and flavorful their chopped salads are. They are very generous with their vegetable portions, which makes the salad 1000x better. Sorry Portillos, but these guys make better chopped salads than you do..

I also ordered a side of mashed sweet potatoes, which are also amazing.. no shocker there. Not only is their food perfect, but their iced tea & lemonade comes in mason jars. I think they know the way to my heart…

If you ever are craving a chopped salad & are from the north shore area of Illinois, then check this place out. They currently have two locations, one in Highland Park & one in Vernon Hills.

20140727-133953-49193296.jpgAs for last night’s workout, my coach wanted us to complete 2 x 10k. For the first 10k I beat my personal record (PR) by a lot. I felt, and still feel, so proud of myself for that. It’s very hard to beat PRs when you are on the rowing machine by yourself vs with your teammates. Somehow, I managed to do well anyway. I really think that it’s because I have been pushing myself harder lately. I guess I’m going to have to keep working hard!

 As for the rest of today, I only have one plan.. and it’s studying. I have a chem test tomorrow & I want to make sure that I do very well. This week also happens to be the last week of summer school, so I will probably be stressing out over the two tests I have in the span of four days. With that said, I may or may not write very much in these next four days.

Wish me luck this week!

How did you all spend your weekend?