I Dream of WE: Priorities, Keeping Love on Top

57D66C54-93DE-43D7-BC8F-143E986F317DOn November 26th, I started a new position as the new Nurse-in-Charge (NIC) of the Ambulatory Surgery Department (ASD) and Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). This position would mean a nice pay increase (amazing right?!). However, it also meant more responsibility and longer hours. I’ve spent the majority of my more recent years in nursing working part-time. Nursing is a career where shifts and time off is never guaranteed. Therefore, I worked part-time for more flexibility in my schedule. Just over one month into the position, I am finding myself less patient and increasingly exhausted. As a newlywed, I now have to manage becoming a “boss” as well as having a happy home life. I see how easy it is to say “I’m too tired to….”. So to others who are also striving to make their marriage a priority, here are a few things that I have learned:

  1. I Miss You Like Everyday…

My husband and I have a shared google calendar that keeps us updated with what each other is doing. I schedule my work times and my on-call times into the calendar so that he always knows when I’m free. Therefore, if he suggests a date night or a weekend getaway, it alleviates me always saying…no I’m working that day or no I’m on call (which can be really frustrating being on the receiving end of that after a while). Technology can be great in that way. Also, it helps to send flirty text messages throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be long or in depth. However, receiving an “I miss you” or “I’m thinking about you” from my husband during the busy days as work keeps me going and feeling connected while we’re apart.

 

  1. Say No, No, No, No

The desire to make more money and save more money makes it easy to pack on the hours. My husband had to remind me that sometimes time is greater than money. Sometimes I have to say no to that extra shift when asked. For him, sometimes it means saying no to the XBOX live party, so he can spend time with me for a couple hours when I get home from work.

 

  1. Always Stay Gracious

Because of my vigorous work schedule, my husband often has to step in and take care of things while I’m working. Thankfully his work schedule has flexibility and allows him to do so. Whether it is trip to the grocery store or fixing something I didn’t have a chance to get to, he always seems to get things done when I’m not around. I realized how important it is to not take that for granted and to say thank you for all he does.

 

  1. Crazy in Love

This may have been the hardest thing for me learn because it doesn’t come naturally to me. Growing up in a Haitian household, where blatant displays of affection wasn’t something I was used to seeing, has made me prone to shy away from affection as well. Being crazy in love and outwardly affectionate was something I had to learn to feed one of my husband’s primary love languages.

 

  1. A Perfect Duet

I probably will never be an Xbox gamer and my husband will probably never join a book club. One thing my husband and I both share is our love for music. After church on Saturdays, we’ll spend an hour or two just playing music together, with me on the piano and him on the drums. It became something we could look forward to every week. We also like to challenge each other to a game of Wordament. Although I continue to crush him in every round (don’t tell him I said this!), it gives us an opportunity to do something together and regularly when time is limited.

I haven’t figured it all out yet. I’m still learning to balance work and keeping love on top. However, I’ve realized that every new day is an opportunity to start over and create a love that lasts until the end of time!

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!

Tofu Stir-Fry Made 3 Different Ways

Prep Time 15 Min | Cook Time 15 Min| Total Time 30 Min

First Recipe: Kung Pao Tofu Stir Fry
Author: @iDreamOfAlice
Recipe type: Entrée
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 3

Ingredients
1 Cup of Minute Rice
1/2 package firm or extra-firm tofu
2-3 cups Broccoli
6 Cups of Spinach
6 Tablespoons of PF Chang’s Kung Pao Sauce
Pam Olive Oil Non-Stick Spray

Second Recipe: Mexican Tofu Stir-Fry Bowl
Recipe Type: Entrée
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 3

Ingredients
1 Cup of Minute Rice
1/2 package firm or extra-firm tofu
2-3 cups Fajita Mix (Onions, Green Peppers, Red Peppers)
¾ Cup of Asiago Cheese
3 Tablespoons of Black Bean Hummus
6 Cups of Spinach
Garlic Salt & Pepper to Taste
Top with Salsa, Sour Cream & Guacamole
Pam Olive Oil Non-Stick Spray

Third Recipe: Tofu Florentine Bowl
Recipe Type: Entrée
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 3

Ingredients
1 Cup of Minute Rice
1/2 package firm or extra-firm tofu
2-3 cups Chopped Onions, Green Peppers, Red Peppers
¾ Cup of Feta Cheese
6 Cups of Spinach
Garlic Salt & Pepper to Taste
Olive Oil Non-Stick Spray

Instructions
1. Cut tofu widthwise into 4 equal pieces; cut each piece crosswise into 1/2-inch squares. Place tofu on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels.
2. Heat a large wok or skillet over medium to high heat. Spray with non-stick spray to coat pan. Add tofu to pan and season with garlic salt and pepper to taste; stir-fry for 8 minutes, turning until brown on all sides. Remove tofu from pan and place in a separate bowl.
3. For the first recipe, steam broccoli and spinach. Cook 1-minute rice. In three small bowls or meal prep tubberware, layer 1/3 cup cooked rice, spinach, broccoli, then 10 pieces of tofu on top. Add 2 tablespoons of Kung Pao Sauce to each bowl.
4. For the second recipe, sauté the onions and peppers, then add the spinach. Cook 1-minute rice. In three small bowls or meal prep tubberware, layer 1/3 cup cooked rice, 1 Tablespoon black bean hummus, spinach, onions & peppers, then 10 pieces of tofu. Sprinkle ¼ cup of asiago cheese on each bowl over tofu. Top the bowls with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.

5. For the last recipe, sauté the chopped onions and peppers, then add the spinach. Cook 1-minute rice. In three small bowls or meal prep tubberware, layer 1/3 cup cooked rice, spinach, onions & peppers, then 10 pieces of tofu. Sprinkle ¼ cup of feta cheese on top of each bowl over tofu. Voila!

Notes
*Each serving is a 300-350 calorie meal.
**Save other meals in the fridge to meal prep for the week. Happy Eating!

 

Staying Motivated Beyond the New Year’s Resolution

93950ED8-A35D-4687-977C-41976079EDD2We’ve all done it before… It’s January first and we write down 10 things we want to accomplish in the year. For most people, health and wellness is usually included in this list of goals. However, by the time February comes, we’re a long ways from our goals and our resolutions are a distant memory. So what are some ways to remain motivated throughout the year and actually accomplish your health goals?

Here are my 4 tips:

Create a vision board

Where do you see yourself? What would you like to accomplish? Grab a poster board from your local craft store and some old magazines. Cut out anything you see in the magazine that reminds/inspires you of your goals then paste them onto your poster board. Once you’ve designed yours, hang it up some place where you’ll encounter it often. I have my vision board right next to my bed, on the side where I usually wake up. Every morning I am reminded to be healthy, to exercise…and surprisingly it works!

Don’t Beat Yourself Up Over Setbacks

So you slipped up and ate the cupcakes at your work party… It’s okay! Setbacks happen and recognizing them as such will help you move on from them. Often times, setbacks makes a person feel like all their hard work is ruined so they give up. Remember that every minute of every day is another opportunity to make a good health decision and get back on the right path.

Family/Friend Support

Another great way to remain motivated is to enlist the support of friends and family who will hold you accountable. My fiancé and I turned our fitness goals into healthy competition to keep each other on the right track. My favorite exercise includes playing Dance Central on the Xbox with my sister. Surrounding yourself with people who have the same desire for fitness places you in the position to accomplish them. “Birds of a feather flock together” right?

Celebrate The Little Wins

Reward yourself for sticking to your goals and achieving each milestone, no matter how small. If you’re trying to lose weight, remember that weight maintenance is a win and not a loss. When you’re deciding what to reward yourself with, try to celebrate yourself with non-food related rewards, such as a new hairdo or a manicure. Remember: Beyonce wasn’t built in a day, so celebrate the process!