Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Happiest Place on Earth...

Okay, so maybe the Yuengling Brewery isn't the 'happiest place on earth' but anywhere you get a history lesson about the country's oldest brewery followed by free beer is pretty amazing in my book!  

The day started in one of the best ways possible.  My husband and I were celebrating 10 years since we started dating and I was woken up with a sweet kiss and breakfast waiting for me.  Pretty great start to my Saturday.  Logan had planned an afternoon of activities for us.  He started off by telling me how much I inspire him and this 30 before 30 challenge was an example of that, so he wanted to help me cross something off my list.  (I really did marry one of the good ones.)  We enjoyed our breakfast, got dressed and were on our way.

The brewery had a decent crowd of people.  We had a cute little tour guide who was studying history at USF.  Not a bad gig for a college job!  She showed us around the facilities and we learned all about the process of how beer is brewed from start to finish, including the bottling line.  The coolest thing we saw was the canning process.  It is pretty cool to see how they get that cold delicious beer into the aluminum cans.  

The tour took about an hour and took us back to the hospitality house where we were treated to two free beers.  They had their special Oktoberfest beer available, which of course I had to try.  I followed that up with their Porter which has a very creamy silky finish that was delicious.  

As we finished our beers and picked out some goodies from the gift shop, Logan shared the next stop on our agenda.  He explained that one of his favorite things about me is how much I value traditions and creating memories.  One of the stories that I have told him over and over again was how my dad would sneak us into Busch Garden's through the maintenance entry so we could spend the afternoon riding roller coasters, followed by a hot dog at Mel's Hot Dogs.  So of course, while we were in the area, Logan had to treat me to a Chicago Dog and a Yuengling Lager.  If you have never been, it is a Tampa staple and you truly are missing out on an experience!

The rest of the day was spent the way most of our Saturdays end up, just hanging out, laughing with each other and enjoying each other's company.  It was a great reminder why we have shared 10 years together and an awesome way to cross another item off my list.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Living in the Moment

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend about priorities and balance in life.  We were discussing our jobs and the amount of stress, worry, and hours of the day we put into our careers.  Why do we do that to ourselves?  Sure, we want to have a good job so that we can pay our bills every month.  Is the only way to be successful by working 60 hours a week, and constantly thinking of what else can I be doing for my company?  That was how I lived my life for years.  I always wanted to get ahead.  I was always looking for that next challenge at work, and I definitely ranked my job as the number one priority in my life.  It paid off.  I was awarded employee of the year for my company in 2010.  All my hard work was noticed.  Then I thought about what I sacrificed to get there.  I had no hobbies, no time to spend with friends, and while I am blessed to have a very supportive husband, my marriage was suffering.  

It was around the time that I made this list that I decided to make a personal change.  I would still work hard when I was at the office and have no problem putting in late hours when I need to, but work will no longer come first.  Life will come first.  Relationships will come first.  I was reminded of a quote from Abraham Lincoln:  “And in the end it is not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years.”  Spending all my time worrying about work is not 'life in my years.'  (Just to stay honest, I had to look up who said that quote.  I remember statements that I like, but am terrible at remembering their authors.)  

So I made new promises to myself.  I will work hard and be passionate about my job, but when I leave work, I will actually leave work.  I will discover hobbies and new passions in my life that are completely my own, for me, and no one else.  I will dedicate time to growing myself as a child of Christ.  I will make an effort everyday to develop my relationships with my friends, family and husband.  I will be the woman God made me to be.

Last night I was enjoying a night of keeping promises.  I was at a concert spending time with my two wonderful aunts and loving husband.  My work email was off, and I was doing two of my favorite things (listening to live music and spending time with family.)  During the concert, a song came on that I thought was a perfect summary for this year in my life.  I thought it was a great fit for this blog and my intentions with creating it.

 "Living In The Moment"

If this life is one act

Why do we lay all these traps?
We put them right in our path
When we just wanna be free

I will not waste my days

Making up all kinds of ways
To worry about all the things
That will not happen to me

So I just let go of what I know I don't know

And I know I'll only do this by
Living in the moment
Living our life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home
Living in the moment

I'm letting myself off the hook for things I've done

I let my past go past
And now I'm having more fun
I'm letting go of the thoughts
That do not make me strong
And I believe this way can be the same for everyone

And if I fall asleep

I know you'll be the one who'll always remind me
To live in the moment
To live my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home

I can't walk through life facing backwards

I have tried
I tried more than once to just make sure
And I was denied the future I'd been searching for
But I spun around and hurt no more
By living in the moment
Living my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

She's a vegetarian (Mary Moon, Mary Moon)

Starting on Monday, July 9th, I dedicated 30 days to living the meatless lifestyle.  Because of this change, I know there were a few more Wilburs running free.  

One of my hopes/goals of my herbivorous diet for a month was to discover more entrees using vegetables as the star.  I've always been a huge veggie lover, but have limited them to strictly side dishes.  Also, it seems that many websites I looked at limited 'non-meat' entrees to pasta dishes which are heavy carbs.  I discovered new and fun ways to prepare my greens and have shared the best recipes below.

Biggest challenge:  Dining out!  It is so easy to make fun, filling, flavorful meals at home, but dining out makes it very limited.  I ate a lot of veggie burgers, ordered side dishes as my main meal, salads without protein (not filling at all) and pasta dishes.  This does not help you lose weight if anyone is considering a vegetarian diet for weight loss purposes.  I feel like I have been carbing up which was the opposite of my plan!

Because I love a little food porn, here are some of my favorite recipes and some photos to make you nice and hungry and ready to binge eat without the guilt.

Veggie Sandwich:
This sandwich is very filling and delicious!  I layer tomato, avocado, red onion, cheese and sprouts on honey wheat bread.  I made a horseradish herb mayo that I spread a thin layer of on one side and the other side was stone ground mustard.  The small hint it adds to the sandwich is the perfect final touch.  To make the horseradish herb mayo, simply mix mayo with horseradish and your favorite herbs - I used fresh chives and dill.

Bang Bang Cauliflower -   RECIPE HERE 
Here is how mine turned out:
So Yummy!

Portobello Mushroom Burger:
We had a ton of left overs from 4th of July so while Logan ate regular burgers, I made my own portobello mushroom burgers that were amazing.  Here is what I topped it with:  herb mayo (same one I used on my sandwiches), sliced avocado, melted mozzarella cheese, caramelized onions, sauteed spinach and tomato. 
I served them with zucchini fries with an onion dip on the side. RECIPE HERE

Go to snack/appetizer:
Caprice Salad:  Juicy tomato stacked with fresh basil and mozzarella cheese then drizzled with balsamic.  Yummo!

Go To Pasta Dish:  I chopped up and sauteed spinach, mushrooms, scallions, garlic, fresh basil and zucchini then tossed in a red sauce. All the veggies gave it the texture of a meat sauce that I love.  The first time it was served over pasta.  I also served it over spaghetti squash for less carbs and topped it with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  I was able to get 4 meals out of the sauce.  

Cheesy Brussels Casserole.  RECIPE HERE.
I used fat free cheddar cheese and brown rice to keep this dish as healthy as possible.  Turned out very tasty and filling.  It says it is enough for 2 portions, but I was able to get 4 out of it with no problem.  I just added more Brussels and kidney beans, but left the other portions the same.

 The most amazing Eggplant Parm recipe ever.  RECIPE HERE.  Fried Eggplant wrapped around a basil, ricotta and Parmesan mixture topped with a red sauce and mozzarella cheese then baked.  Served with a side of spaghetti squash.  I will be making this again and again.

This meal was very indulgent.  Avocado Fries with a basil and ricotta aioli dipping sauce served on the side of my 'grown-up' grilled cheese.  The grilled cheese consisted of a sun-dried tomato spread, goat cheese, roasted peppers and sauteed spinach with shallots.  Oh My was it amazing!  Avocado Fries RECIPE HERE

Oven-Fried Okra
Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Baked Tomatoes topped with sauteed spinach,
mozzarella cheese and a balsamic drizzle

Peppers stuffed with Chickpeas and Couscous