Thursday, July 24, 2014

4. Mr. Darcy

The puppy love of my life.

I love him and I can't get enough. Can't.get.enough. He is the most handsomest pup in all the land, I tell you. Oh, and boy does he know it!

What a stud. I can't believe this little pup has been in our lives for almost three months now. And he's growing so fast!! He has the attitude of a tween-ager for sure. Remember how I bragged about how smart and brilliant he was at 9 weeks, bell-trained and everything? Umm, yeah. After I posted that, the next day he tore the bell off the wall and refuses to go near it. He can be in the other room, and as soon as he hears somebody accidentally bump it on the counter, he'll come tearing into the kitchen like a wild banshee ready to tear the thing to bits. Since then, he just sits and stares at the door when he needs to go out, which is awesome but a lot less "alerting" to the humans.

Oh, and he likes to be fancy. He has taste, y'all.

10 Things About Mr. Darcy:
  1. He does not like toys with stuffing in them. If you give him one, he will immediately chew it to bits.
  2. He prefers his lemonade with strawberries, thank you very much.
  3. He can't wait to howl along with the clock chimes every hour on the dot.
  4. He loves chasing ice cubes around the house on hot days. And on particularly miserable and humid hot days, you will find him plopped down in front of his fan. (But he'd much rather sit inside the fridge.)
  5. When Daddy leaves for work in the morning, he can't wait to plop down on his pillow and sleep in with Mama. And then, of course, Mama would much rather snuggle with him than get in an early yoga session.
  6. He gets super excited when Mama let's him lick the empty nut butter jar.
  7. After walking through the park, he insists Daddy drives him around the block so he can feel the wind in his ears as he hangs out the car window for a much needed cool down.
  8. He loves snacking on carrots, but a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese are his favorites.
  9. He can play tug-of-war for an hour and not get bored. He's awfully kind about it too, making sure you have enough of the super slobbery end so you won't lose your grip when he fixes to tug like crazy. Bless him.
  10. He's exactly like Daddy. Doesn't want to be cuddled, sleeps through thunderstorms, and moves about 50 hundred times before finding the perfect spot in front of the fan.
As I said before, he's cute and he knows it.

I can't bear being away from him. Going to work most mornings and saying good bye is heart-wrenching (for us both, I'm sure). Actually, I contemplated (once or twice) not taking our vacation trip to Maine this fall because the idea of leaving him all by his lonesome, with my in-laws or boarded, just breaks my heart. Maybe we could take a shorter trip and take him with us? [Let's keep this thought between us. Mr. B doesn't need to know everything, mmm'kay?]

He's Mama's favorite.

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, July 21, 2014

Latest Snacking Obsession {Review}

I've been MIA this past week. I apologize. But it was my birthday. I celebrate all week long. ( <--- read all month long, actually.) I'm a huge fan of birthdays, and everybody's birthday should be a special day spent doing your favorite things with the people you love. Last year my bestie treated me to a picnic lunch at the Cleveland Museum with a side tour of the Botanical Gardens (where, at the time, she worked). Oh, and THE Starbucks stop must. It was a beautiful and hot day, of course. I melted. This year was quite different and it was absolutely wonderful. I've never celebrated my birthday week in jeans and long sleeves. What glorious chilly weather! Perfection.

This week Mr. B surprised me with a half dozen balloons to celebrate (and, yes, those will be tied there until they're dragging on the floor and Mr. Darcy tries to take off with them). I adore balloons; nothing shouts "SPECIAL OCCASION" like balloons. And candles. Balloons and candles are a must.

Allow me to quickly throw out a few other words regarding my week/weekend birthday celebrations in order to avoid an overly-long detailed celebration post, and to quickly get to the actual point of today's review obsession.

Multiple Starbucks trips.
A Mexican dinner outing where I ended up with a big sombrero on my head and a chorus of loud off-key singing.
Daddy's ribs.
My favorite food dish of all time.
Birthday Sundae Bar.
Lots of puppy time.
Oak Ridge Festival.
More coffee.
Birthday wishes.
Sleeping in past 6 A.M.

And these tasty power snack balls. <---point of this post (See? I'd get to it eventually....)

These are fabulous. My pastor's daughter, Stephanie, and daughter-in-law, Amber, came together to create a wonderful web site called, Wild Saints. {Please head on over and check it out!} It's a new project, and on here these talented and gorgeous ladies provide DIY tips, fashion, kid-friendly recipes, videos, and more on their blog. In one of their YouTube videos, they shared this lovely snack recipe. Y'all, I was all over it. When I finished watching, I went straight to my pantry, brought out all the ingredients, and quickly mixed up a batch (fitting the recipe to my own tastes, of course). Because of the size I made my balls, I was able to get two dozen out of one batch. This will vary depending on the size of your balls. I cannot stop eating these. A huge fan of them, I decided to bring the ingredients to work and let the tweens in my yoga program make these as their healthy snack. They loved them. So did the parents. My co-workers devoured the leftovers. I came in the next day bombarded with multiple "When are you making these again?" demands.

The only thing I did differently than the original recipe is omit the vanilla and replace it with water. The snack balls are sweet enough with the honey, you won't even know you're missing it. If extra liquid is needed, just add a few tablespoons of water. (And, you know, I like the darkest chocolate you can find.) Definitely cannot get enough of these. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Mid-day snack. Late-night snack. Crumbled on yogurt. Fan-freaking-tastic. I think it tastes like cookie dough. I keep mine chilled, and eat them straight from the freezer.

However, I'd like to get the sugar content a tad lower since I'm liking these for an everyday breakfast snack ball. (They go perfectly with my morning cup o' Joseph.) Otherwise they're perfect for a "dessert" when eating clean, and as the ladies suggested, or as travel treats.

A few days later I brought another batch into work to share because it was the day-before-my-birthday treat.

'Cookie Dough' Power Snack Balls
*recipe slightly adapted from Wild Saints

Makes 20-24 snack balls

2 c dry quick oats
1 c chopped 85% dark chocolate (or your favorite dark chocolate chips)
1 c ground flax seed
1 c raw almond butter
2 T chia seeds
scant 2/3 c honey

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. (If too dry, add in 1-2 T water.) Roll mix into balls and set on platters to chill in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. Keep stored and covered with wax paper in an air tight container in the fridge or freezer.

Nutritional information per snack ball (varies depending on size of ball; I got 24 balls): 145 Calories, 8 Fat, 5 Protein, 4 Fiber, 8 Sugar

*I know, you're asking where's my birthday cheesecake? It's coming. I'm still celebrating. Hello 28!

**Oh, and don't forget to check out my 30 Before 30 List. I'm working my way through it...slowly.

With Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I'm currently....

Watching.... The Immigrant. Jeremy Renner's indie movie, which came out last year in other countries, never hit theaters here and it yesterday became available on Netflix. After waiting over a year for this movie, I was super excited and got up extra early this morning to watch it before heading into work. No wonder it never made it to theaters. Not enough JLR that's for sure. And I don't think the plot line was solid, and there was way too much unnecessary showing of...stuff that I fast forward most of the movie. And he's not even in it that much!!! Definitely a movie to skip...grrr. Thankfully, JLR's Kill the Messenger will be hitting theater's this October.

Eating.... fruit and sandwiches. Can't.get.enough. I just had the juiciest peach of the year for a mid-morning snack. OhhEmmGee. I've been all over Peach Caprese lunches and putting berries in my mugs of fresh lemonade, and the sandwiches at Starbucks are deeelicious. Hello, Summer.

Planning.... the finishing touches on our new deck, which demolition removal started today!! FINALLY. It's been an irritating five weeks.

Reading.... Ugh. Ever his a reading slump? Well, I never have past two books. That's been my previous running streak of must-abandon-because-I-don't-have-time-for-this-awful-writing-excuse-for-a-book. Until this past month. If it's not a non-fiction book about food/health or a children's literature book, then it's been completely awful and I abandoned every one. I'm talking a bad five in a row here, one of which included the highly-praised The Goldfinch. What?! Who ARE you people that think this was 5-star great?! One of my co-worker's agrees. I'm picking up Fangirl next, and hoping to get out of this rut.

Inspired by.... my yoga programs at work. Especially my tween one last night. These young girls are definitely inspiring, not just in their attempts at practicing yoga, but in their dreams, journaling, goals...just hearing their chit-chat. Gah, I love my job.

Excited about.... MY BIRTHDAY!!! It's my birthday month, week, weekend! Woot. Woot. Celebrating with the family all weekend, which is exactly what I'll need once this hectic week comes to a close. Six programs in five days. In the midst of Summer Reading. Who was I when I planned this schedule back in April? Just stick me with an espresso IV.

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Marketplace + a Kale "Chipotle" Bowl

Mr. B and I spent the morning of July 4th walking around the Hartville Marketplace and Flea Market. It's a huge deal around these parts, and I love going and finding great deals on produce, gifts, and little knick-knacks you didn't know you needed. Hartville Marketplace is open on a daily basis (except Sundays), but the outdoor farmer's market has shorter hours, and the mass flea market is featured on special holiday weekends, like 4th of July, Labor Day, and their biggest event, Memorial Day Weekend. People come from all over during these weekends, and it can get quite crowded and fast. Fortunately, we live less than 10 minutes away and can get there nice and early. Besides the fantastic Marketplace, a restaurant, collectibles shops, and gigantic hardware store are also in the area. (And that hardware store is insane!)

Anyhoo, it was definitely less crowded on The Fourth than when we went with my in-laws during the Memorial Day Weekend event. Holy frijoles. (Oh, but it was so much fun, and I found the cutest birthday/Christmas gifts. <--- Hey, it's never too early to shop.) This time I stumbled upon a quaint little coffee shop, and purchased these fabulous coasters, perfect for my coffee bar.

Along with the coasters, Mr. B and I scored on a plethora of produce, including blackberries, cherries(!), leeks, baby potatoes, tomatoes, and kale. A ton of kale.

However, by mid-week I realized I'd forgotten completely about most of the kale now dying in my fridge. So the other night I was determined to not let any of it go to waste; I was salvaging every last leaf. Kale salad. Sauteed kale. Kale chips. A list was running through my head of all the different ways I could quickly use up my leafy greens. But then on my drive home I really craved Mexican. Chipotle to be exact. But, as most of you know, Mr. B and I hardly eat out, and very rarely do we ever during the week. While it would have been much easier on my tired self to drive us to Chipotle, yet by the time we would have arrived (almost a half hour away), waited in the looonnnggg line, and then paid, I could have made a simple dinner using up the already bought ingredients at home. And that's just what I did.

With a couple (wilted) bunches of kale on the counter, and Chipotle on the brain, I did my best to use up my produce to create a quick and delicious meal of my own. Voila! My Chipotle inspired Kale Bowl. Mr. B thoroughly enjoyed this.

Kale "Chipotle" Bowl

Serves 4

1-2 huge bunches of kale, chopped (once sauteed, about a cup and a half)
1-2 T olive oil
1 1/2 c brown rice, cooked (I like mine with a decent amount of lime juice, and cilantro if I have it on hand.)
1 lb. lean ground turkey
homemade taco seasoning
3/4 c water
1 c zucchini, chopped
1 c leeks, chopped
1 c corn
1 c black beans
salt and pepper, to taste
toppings: tomatoes, avocado, plain Greek yogurt, salsa (cheese and tortillas, optional)

In a large pan, over med-high heat, saute kale in olive oil. Set aside. In same pan, cook ground turkey, chopped zucchini and leeks (use onions here if you don't have leeks). Once almost cooked, drain grease if needed, add corn, black beans, taco seasoning, and water. Simmer until thickened and water is absorbed, stirring often. Taste and, if needed, add salt and pepper. Assemble bowl: start with a layer of kale, a big spoonful of rice (I always keep a container of cooked rice in the fridge; it makes for a fast dinner ingredient), and a helping of the turkey mixture. Next top with chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, yogurt, and a small dab of salsa. Or you can take Mr. B's route and enjoy it all on a flour tortilla or two.

Nutritional Information per serving (w/o tortilla and cheese, or topping options): 
510 Calories, 14 Fat, 38 Protein, 9 Fiber, 3 Sugar

And if you're ever in the Northeast Ohio Akron/Canton area, visit the Hartville Marketplace. It's a great day trip! Can't wait to run up there and do a produce re-stock this Monday.

With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Little Wednesday Inspiration

Because I need a whole lot of Jesus today. And maybe someone else does, too.

Newsboys' "We Believe" came on the radio today as I made my drive into work. There's no better feeling knowing God is bigger than whatever difficulties, struggles, differences, annoyances, hurts, or dilemmas I may be facing. No matter how copious or trifling.

Hebrews 12:2  says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,who for the joy set before endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (NIV) There are no truer and comforting words, my friends.

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, July 7, 2014


In case you aren't on Instagram, or don't follow me, here's a peek at my Insta-Life lately.
[*All photos are taken from my Instagram account.]

Daddy enjoying his Father's Day Pie.

Date night turned into a let's-wander-around-the-Market-District-and-spend-an-insane-amount-of-money-on-11-items.

Jewelry layering at its finest.

The only time I can hit my mat is when he's napping. The life of a dog owner :)

Daddy's girl :)

With Love and God Bless,

Friday, July 4, 2014

A 4th of July {Morning} Celebration

Happy 4th of July!

We're celebrating America's birthday, and to kick things off we're digging into a big plate of my Red, White, and Blue Waffles. It's my favorite vegan waffles made with blueberry Greek yogurt, and topped with strawberries, banana slices, and a drizzle of raw Ohio Maple Syrup. Head over here for the waffle recipe.

I'm hoping the rest of my day includes a big plate of ribs (it's National Barbecued Ribs Day!), corn, and watermelon.

With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Berry Elvis Protein Smoothie

IT.IS.HOT. I'm sweating just thinking about the humidity. Ugh. Add in the crazy amount of bugs.... I can't even take Mr. Darcy outside without making sure every inch of my body is covered. I have the kind of blood mosquitoes love. Yep, I'm that sweet. I appreciate your recognition of my irresistible self, but when the biting is causing bruising...KNOCK.IT.OFF.

I am not cool, calm, and collected. I'm hot, irritable, and a sweaty mess.

After a 6 am bout outside with Mr. Darcy, shooing away the bugs from me and him (poor thing), I'm in need of something quick and cooling to start my day. Lately, I've been downing this yummy, rockin' concoction. It's full of protein, fiber, natural sugar, and taste. Just the right amount of sweetness and creaminess to kick off any summer morning. I like to mix mine up, throw it in the freezer while I finish getting ready for work, and then grab it as I head out the door. (Along with my iced morning coffee, of course.)

Is it too early to say I can't wait for fall?

Berry Elvis Protein Smoothie

Serves 1 (or 2 as a snack)

1 c unsweetened almond milk
1/2-1 c water
1/2 c sliced strawberries (frozen works well here)
1/2 frozen banana
1 heaping T raw peanut butter (or your favorite nut butter)
1 heaping T cottage cheese
1 T chia seeds
1 scoop soy vanilla protein powder
handful of ice, if needed (depends on desired consistency)
Pinch of xanthan gum (optional ---> used to thicken smoothie)

Place all ingredients in a blender; puree until desired consistency. Pour into chilled glass(es) and enjoy!

Nutritional information for one smoothie: 410 Calories, 17 Fat, 15 Sugar, 35 Protein, 11 Fiber

With Love and God Bless,