I Dream of We: The Honeymoon is OVER!

IMG_9603My husband and I returned from our honeymoon in Greece just in time for Thanksgiving. Most people envision the honeymoon as the newlywed couple flying off to an exotic country, exploring and catching sunrays. It was my idea to honeymoon in Greece so I was more than excited. We traveled to Athens, the capital and visited Santorini, an island off the coast of Greece. I expected to fill ourselves to the brim with a variety of delicious Greek food and be amazed by the breath taking views of the country. I expected tons of sightseeing and romance. What I did not expect was to learn…

While in Santorini, my husband and I wanted to explore the island. Unlike Athens, taxis were not readily available. Although the bus system was commonly used, the schedule was in Greek and we couldn’t understand it. My husband suggested renting an ATV or a Moped for traveling around the island. The cautious and the nurse side of me said to myself “that this doesn’t seem like the greatest idea”. The roads of Santorini were narrow and hilly, with no barriers to the cliffs and the Aegean Sea below. It was definitely NOT something I would decide to do on my own. I was actually surprised of how fearful I was.

During our search for a rental shop, we found a place that rented UTV’s, which had the same open feel of an ATV but has two seats. When the salesperson told us how much it would be to rent, my husband was ready to say never mind and leave. It was pricey and he wasn’t sure if I really felt comfortable enough to do it. I knew he would say no if I wasn’t comfortable. So I encouraged him to just live in the moment and let’s do it. I believe that this was my first marital test. As we drove along the cliff side in an open vehicle, I reflected on why this experience was so important. It taught me to support and encourage him when he feels unsure. It taught me to trust him even though it scares me.

Although I know everyday we wont be driving along the cliffs, I realize that much of life will be filled with uncertainty. There will be moments when my husband feels unsure in his leading decision and will look to me for encouragement. I realize that there will be times where I need to trust the strength that God has placed in him. We truly had the time of our lives in Greece and I’ll cherish the memories for a lifetime. Even more so, I will cherish the lessons learned.

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I Dream of We: I’m Not Ready for Marriage

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As most of you know I moved back to Maryland and started a new job this past August. During my first couple of weeks at the job, I was sent an email to sign up for the Employee Rewards Program. I was excited to see all of the free stuff and discounts I qualified for! I clicked the link in the email only to be redirected to the employee education site about phishing and email scams! It was a test and I fell for it! This was the same way I felt only weeks after getting engaged. Getting married was a scam and I fell for it!

Society paints marriage as some magical happy loving thing. Weddings have become massive parties with through the roof costs. It’s easy to get bated into it without really being ready. While you may never be “ready”, some early realizations can give you a better understanding of what you are walking into. These were some of the things I wasn’t prepared for:

Exposed

Marriage doesn’t change anything it only amplifies what’s already there. When I got engaged, I was not prepared to come face to face with my flaws. A book called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas, says “What marriage has done for me is hold up a mirror to my sin…” I had to take a good look into the depths of my selfishness. This was the hardest part. You have to make a decision to either continue being that way and suffer or grow. I chose growth, which is a journey that I continue on every day.

Service

When you are single, you look for someone who can bring something to the table. What can he do for me? Are his finances in order? Does he have a good job? Once he’s made it through this vetting process, we often still have a mindset of what can he do for me. I realized during my engagement that marriage has more to do with me finding ways to serve my future husband better, rather than him serving me. So I had to transform my mentality from what he can do for me to what can I do for him?

Forgiveness

If you struggle to forgive, don’t get married! Well, at least consider seeing a counselor or other professional to work on forgiveness. The best relationships require a lot of it! I wasn’t prepared for the amount of forgiveness that my relationship would require even for the little things. I also realized that forgiveness is a process that begins with the choice to forgive.

Love

I still believe in love. My fiancé and I have a great love story that’s too long to tell for the purposes of this blog. People get married for many reasons but the foundation of my reasoning will always be love. However, love is also glamourized. The process of becoming one with my fiancé has made me realize that love most of the time isn’t a feeling…it’s a choice. I’ll never forget that one time my fiancé and I were having a heated discussion about something in the car on our way home (which I can’t even remember what it was about!) We were both frustrated. He passes the turn for my house and I figured he was distracted from the discussion. I said to him sharply, “Did you mean to pass my street?”. He looked at me and said, “yes I’m going to go put gas in your car so you don’t have to worry about it in the morning” My heart melted because even though we were disagreeing and he was frustrated with me. He chose to love instead! He didn’t need me to show HIM love either to give ME love. Why is that? Our #1 source of love will always be God’s love exclusively. Only Christ can make us happy. Because Christ loved us, we can love others. My fulfillment from love doesn’t come from my fiancé but comes from being loved by God. Even when he showers me in it, it just feels like an extra added bonus! So to be married ultimately, you need to have an understanding that above all you are loved by God. When I got engaged, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This process has not only helped me grow closer to my future husband but to Christ as well.

Cinnamon Apple Pie Overnight Oats

With just two weeks left before my wedding, I have even more motivation to lose a stubborn 5lbs. When I’m trying to lose weight, oatmeal is always my go to because of how filling it is. I fell in love with overnight oats because as a nurse I needed food thats quick and portable. Overnight oats can be prepared the night before and its ready to go when I am in the morning.

Photo by Andrew & Carrie Purcell.

Here is my recipe for my favorite type of overnight oats:

  • 1/3 Cup of Rolled Oats or Old-fashioned oat
  • 1/3 Cup of Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • ½ Cup of Non-fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • Dash of Nutmeg
  • Dash of Cinnamon
  • ½ Small Apple Diced

There are so many variations to overnight oats but this one is truly  my favorite! To create this dish, layer the uncooked oats, almond milk, Greek yogurt, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and apples in a mason jar or your cutest bowl. Pop it in the fridge for the night and take it out in the morning. You can sub the apples for your favorite fruit like pineapple, cherries, or blueberries. You add peanut butter or chia seeds. You can even add peanut butter and sub the apples for banana. So many to choose from! Rotate the overnight oats with other fruits for variety. Make five at a time for a quick on the go breakfast for girl boss!

The Restaurant Series: B52

71F2183A-9318-4683-9EAE-46617DAEF525After watching “What the Health” documentary on Netflix. I made the decision to significantly decrease the amount of dairy products I consume. I wouldn’t call myself vegan but I do like to enjoy an occasional vegan meal. I’ve been vegetarian for almost 10 years now. On my tour of vegan restaurants in Pittsburgh, I found myself at B52, which is located in the Upper Lawrenceville area. There is usually street parking within walking distance. Initially when I looked up the restaurant, I found the website unimpressive. It redirects you to facebook and grubhub to even look at the menu, which I found odd. However, I decided to give it a try anyhow and I was glad I did! Their “mezzes” or appetizers include a variety of delicious dips served with fresh warm pita bread that leaves you wanting more. The Seitan Shwarma Sandwich and the Spicy Kofta Tofu Sandwich are some of the best vegan sandwiches I’ve ever had. With a simple cost of $9 for a sandwich, the restaurant is quite affordable for vegan food. Their carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, which was their dessert of the day, was big enough to share. They also have a chocolate list which is just enough sweet after a filling meal. The downside to B52 is that there is limited and tight seating. However if you have a chance to go during non-peak times, it is definitely worth the trip. Happy Eating!

Taco Tuesday : The Veggie Street Taco

The Veggie Street Taco Recipe 

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Ingredients:
2 corn tortillas (80 cal each)
3T Asiago cheese (or your favorite cheese!)
2T Black Sean Salsa
1/2c red potatoes
1t olive oil
2T guac
2/3 Cup chopped onion, pepper, zucchini, & squash medley

Preparation:
This is the perfect veggie taco for your Taco Tuesday Fix! Coat a non-stick frying pan with Olive Oil cooking spray. Sauté chopped onion, pepper, zucchini, & squash medley for 2-3 minutes. Add red potatoes, olive oil, and garlic salt for flavor. Sauté for a few more minutes until everything looks golden brown. Set the veggies aside and put the corn tortillas in the pan. Sprinkle half the asiago cheese on each tortilla. Warm until shells are soft and the cheese is melted. Serve the tacos layered with veggies and potatoes, salsa, then guacamole.

Tips:
-Precook potatoes for a quicker and easier sautéing
-Add your favorite protein for a more filling taco.
-Enjoy with a side of apples for dessert.

Happy Eating! 

 

The Restaurant Series: Another Broken Egg

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This weekend I visited Huntsville, Alabama for my Alma Mater’s Alumni Weekend. Many know that Huntsville is known as the Rocket City. However, what most people don’t know is that Huntsville is filled with many great restaurants. So of course while I was in town I took the time to visit one of my favorites, Another Broken Egg. This restaurant is a Brunch spot, with most of the locations having hours from 07:00 am – 2:00 pm and are somewhere in the South/West Coast.

My fiance and I dined in on Easter Sunday, which is usually a busy time for most Brunch locations. There was about a 35 minute wait for a table. Luckily, they had games such as Corn Hole set up outside, which made the wait seem very quick. We ordered the New Orleans inspired Beignets for an appetizer, which was a sweet start to our meals. They also come in half-orders which is great for those who fill up easily on appetizers. I decided on the Huevos Rancheros for my meal, which was delicious. Although I went with coffee for my drink of choice, there is also a full bar for those who prefer mimosas or bloody mary’s.

One of my favorite things about Another Broken Egg is the antique-inspired china. The atmosphere is a Sunday afternoon at grandmas vibe. Overall, my rating would be an 8.5/10. They would have had a perfect score however, the tortilla shells were a bit difficult to cut into. Usually, they are fresh, light, and crunchy. All in all, Another Broken Egg has multiple other tasty items, including the Cinnamon Roll French Toast and Eggs Benedict. They are also vegetarian friendly, which gives a women like me much to choose from!

Rating: 8.5/10

 

The Restaurant Series: Pirata Pittsburgh

So I have been in search of trendy places in Pittsburgh to take my sister, who just moved here from New York City last year. Pirata, located in the Cultural District of Downtown Pittsburgh is the first place to give me the feel of trendy New York City in Pittsburgh. The Caribbean and Afrobeats music playing inside sets the tone for the Caribbean influenced restaurant and Rum Bar. When you are seated, the server hands you what they call the “Rum Bible”, which has a variety of Rums from different countries. They had me sold when I saw Barbancourt, which is a Haitian Rum! We started our meal with the vegetarian empanadas, which were amazing. Being that my sister and I are both pescatarian/vegetarian, dining can sometimes be a challenge. We tried the Escovitch Salmon, Macaroni Pie, and Fried Plantain. Overall, the drinks were awesome with much variety from Old-fashioned to Tropical. The food is overall on the spicy side with more seasoning than most restaurants. However if you have a taste for Caribbean food and/or are looking for a trendy spot in Pittsburgh, Pirata is right for you!