Sunday, December 29, 2013

Six Years Later...

As I type out the title, I'm still amazed at that number { 6 }. It has been six years since Sal and I went ice skating on a baseball field that had frozen over, six years since he asked me to be his girlfriend, six years since I said yes. At that time, we never knew what we were asking or saying yes to, we just knew that we wanted to be together at that time. 12/17/07 (hence my blog title 12.17 Love Notes & Travels) has now become such a meaningful date to the both of us; both of us, not having imagined still being together and honestly, more in love than ever.

We're trying to save as much as possible right now, but that didn't stop Sal from sending me gorgeous flowers that day. We made sure we got our kickboxing session in bright and early. It was snowing, and Sal was supposed to have school so we decided to just relax for the rest of the day and go out the following night.

We were in my room, when we heard a knock. My mom immediately asked me to get the door, but Sal being the gentleman that he is, started towards the door shouting he'd get it. We got to the door at the same time, and as he opened it he moved backwards, remembering, and there was the beautiful bouquet of flowers. Laughing, I received them and just looked at Sal. He had completely forgotten that he sent them to me. My mom then said, "why do you think I called Kristyn to answer the door?" Needless to say it was quite memorable. Sal and I ended up making a healthy dinner that night, enjoying each others company.

The following night we decided to try 'Brio A Tuscan Grille,' a little restaurant they recently added to a nearby mall. We were both indecisive about where we wanted to go, and even still as we walked into the restaurant, but it was elegant with great prices. We were in awe when we saw the restaurants decor, and we quickly noticed how the atmosphere seemed to put you at ease. Though it was busy, we got a table right away, and began flipping through the menu. I wasn't about to order something healthy though, especially when I saw they had a bruschetta sampler, which was probably the most delicious bruschetta that I've ever had, and I would go back there in a second just for the appetizer. We ordered a bottle of wine, not only because we thought it'd pair well with our celebration, but also because I had forgotten my ID, and I was worried if I ordered a glass for myself, that she would have carded me (thankfully she did not). While Sal went with the lasagna, I chose the shrimp and crab cakes, with vegetables, which were divine. I have to admit, I would go back in an instant.

Afterwards, we had plans to head into the city with my brother and his girlfriend, for our yearly tradition to see the christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. We do this every year; however, last year was a pretty emotional trek into the city, or I should say while we smiled in front of the cameras, because our pictures came out terrible. It seems silly now, even the day after, but that night when we came home to look at the professional pictures we had taken online, I cried. Every year we try and order the pictures, which has become somewhat of an anniversary present in itself, and it's nice to be able to look back on them through the years. This year we made sure we bundled up probably even more than last year, but this time the pictures came out perfect, and instead of waiting to order them online, we ordered them right then and there. I guess that's what happens when you're not expecting anything, and just go with the flow. We even took a few pictures on our own, and one especially nice couple took a picture of all four of us, which I must admit, is probably the best picture of the night. We snapped a few pictures, and then we headed back to the car, hoping that parking wasn't going to cost a fortune. We're not the type of people to hang out in the city for hours on end, but we like to enjoy the atmosphere before leaving. If we didn't go into the city, I don't think it'd feel quite like Christmas.

When I tell people that we just celebrated our six year anniversary, they immediately look to my left hand, expecting to see a diamond, but they don't. Sal and I are still young, despite having been together for six years, and we are perfectly fine with where we are in the relationship... though some days you might catch me staring at the rings in the glass cases.

Thank you love, for another amazing anniversary... Here's to many, many more. I love you Sal. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

No Bake Cookie Dough Bites

If you know me, you know that I'm obsessed with all things cookie dough... and if you don't know me, well now you know. So whenever I find a cookie dough recipe of any kind, I always want to get in my kitchen, bust out my Kitchen aid, and bake, bake, bake. I was always in the kitchen baking just a few years ago, but then I started to watch what I was eating... I mean my hobby was great and all, until I started to realize that I would be one of the many people to eat these delicious treats, especially because the baker must taste test! It quickly became a problem, and I started to use Pinterest to find alternative sweet treats, that were still just as sweet, but healthier! It was easier than I thought it would be. I was also able to find plenty of healthy recipes on Tone It Up, and that's where I found this featured recipe: No Bake Cookie Dough Bites.

Remember how I said I love cookie dough? Well I was determined to make these; however, I feared that they wouldn't taste like cookie dough bites. My fears were null and void when I took that first bite though, because they tasted JUST LIKE COOKIE DOUGH. I couldn't believe it. These bites quickly became a staple for my after breakfast snack at work. They're easy to throw in a plastic bag, and go. If you're like me and always on the run, then these are definitely great to make for the long work week!

No Bake Cookie Dough Bites by Lauren Conrad

yield: 12


- 2/3 cup raw cashews
- 1/3 cup oats
- 2 Tbsp agave syrup
- 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sweet cocoa nibs or dark chocolate chips

{opt. 1 scoop Perfect Fit Protein}


1. Combine oats and cashews in a food processor and grind into a flour- like consistency. 
2. Add agave, maple syrup, and vanilla, and blend again until smooth. 
3. Transfer your dough into a mixing bowl and stir in the nibs or chips by hand. 
4. Roll the dough into 12 chocolate truffle sized balls. Enjoy or refrigerate!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Paper Love Stationary {Giveaway} !

This has been a long time coming, ever since my friend Ardiana over at Paper Love Stationery designed my blog, I've been wanting to host a giveaway with her fabulous paper products. She has her own Etsy shop that features custom designed paper goods for all occasions, from wedding invitations and bridal shower invitations, to blank cards for holidays and thank you notes. She's always looking to please the customer, whether it's by changing the colors to match the colors for the wedding or if it's changing a thank you card layout into a note card just to say hello! She provides "a true representation of our clients' visions, styles, and personalities."

The time has finally come that I can now host a giveaway and it's the perfect time, since Christmas is well on it's way {13 days away}! Whether you're looking for a stocking stuffer or want to mail last minute holiday cards, I have the perfect greeting cards for you!

Paper Love Stationery {Giveaway}

     What You Could Win: 

Set of 8 'Merry Christmas Wreath' Note Cards with coordinating Kraft Envelopes

     How To Enter: 

You must follow my blog Love Notes & Travels & Comment telling me your favorite Holiday Tradition.

     Additional Entries:

Follow me and PaperLoveStationery on Twitter & leave a comment telling me you did. 

Follow me and PaperLoveStationery on Instagram & leave a comment telling me you did.

Follow PaperLoveStationery on Facebook & leave a comment telling me you did. 

Post about the giveaway to any social media outlet {Twitter, Instagram, Facebook} & leave a comment telling me you did.

     *Open to US residents only. 

     Giveaway Ends: 

December 17th, 2013 @ 11:59 PM EST.

Winner Announced. Thank you for entering!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Twenty-Four, but Still a Kid.

Sal is twenty-two days older than me, and never lets me forget it either. This year he turned twenty-four, even though he still acts like a child. I didn't take off of work, instead we made plans to go out both nights on the weekend of his birthday, both Friday and Saturday (I know I'm turning into a party animal, watch out!). Plans were thrown together in a haste that Friday night, and before I knew it I was driving home from work, getting ready, and heading out to one of the local bars that was hosting a country night! We arrived and I was a little hesitant because there weren't many people there, but as soon as I heard the music, I was set for the night. Usually, we have to put money into a modernized jukebox in order to hear the music we like, so it was nice being able to just enjoy the atmosphere with friends.

The bar quickly filled up, and friends started arriving. Soon enough the shots were being poured, and drinks were being passed around. Knowing I had to work the next day, I chose to drive everyone. It was a good choice, as I was able to enjoy the show, so to speak. Sal didn't have any shots until the clock struck 12, which is a pretty good feat with his friends. As soon as the bartender found out it was his birthday, all hell broke loose. I couldn't help but laugh, but I took as few pictures as possible. Before I knew it, we were out on the dance floor; Sal is quite the dancer, even with a few drinks in him. Even though Sal and I said we'd never go to this bar, ever, I'm glad we did because country night wasn't all that bad.

The following day was Sal's actual birthday - November 30th, and that's when we had plans to go to Dave & Busters for the night (I told you he's a child). Before we left though, I knew I had to give Sal his birthday present that he had practically begged me for, so when he opened it, it was no surprise. I tried tricking him by telling him I didn't buy him anything, but he didn't even mind. So I eventually gave him his gift - a GoPro wrapped in princess wrapping paper! While he opened it I smiled, because he was genuinely happy, and I'm glad it was because of me.

I couldn't bask in all of the happiness though, because we had to leave. This was the first year that my brother was allowed to come being that he turned 21 this year. Other friends arrived little by little, but we were already playing games, and getting competitive, trying to win the most tickets. If you've never been to D&Bs, I suggest you go as soon as you can - it's like Chuckie Cheese for adults, with drinks and prizes! After playing for what felt like hours, we decided to take a short break for some snacks, and I may or may not have eaten a whole order of spinach and artichoke dip... okay not the whole thing, but close enough, which my brother informed me while laughing that I probably just consumed 1000 calories. Whoops! I wasn't going to complain about calories when I was having a good time. The waitress ended up messing up our order, so lucky enough for us we were able to all eat and refuel for under $15.00! We played a few more games, but then we headed home, having full bellies and a card filled with tickets. While none of us traded in our tickets for prizes, we knew we'd be back soon enough. to get bigger prizes. We didn't leave before snapping a Christmas card though!

Happy Birthday Salvatore; I hope you had one amazing birthday! I'm glad I could spend yet another birthday with you - that's 6 years in a row! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Beautiful Struggle

It's honestly a struggle for me to wake up and go to work sometimes, but not because of the usual reasons that people can't get out of their beds to head to work. I, for one, absolutely love my job. Of course, I have days that aren't as great as the days before, but I keep persevering and hope one day everyone knows, and understands, what I do. {side note: I'm a Child Life Specialist: I am a trained professional who helps children and their families understand the hospital environment and diagnosis through education, therapeutic intervention, and play.}

The reason why it has become a struggle is because of the drive. In the almost 6 years that Sal and I have been dating, Sal is more likely than not always the driver. If I can, I choose not to drive. I'm not sure why, or when this started, but I don't like being the driver in the car for more than a 5 minute drive. Is it just me, or do you wish you could blink and arrive at any given destination that you please? What's even more strange is that I absolutely love traveling, and exploring new places, as long as I'm not the one in the driver's seat. This drive to work isn't just down the street... it's about a fifty minute drive, which qualifies as long in my book, especially with my gas guzzler of a SUV. Fifty minutes is a long time to sit there thinking, and singing the same ten songs on country radio (NASH FM, please play a better variety). So by the end of the day, when I finally pull up to my house, I worked an eight and half hour shift, and drove two hours. It's no wonder that I have no energy to go out with friends.

Of course there are mornings when the sun is shining so brightly, there isn't any traffic on the road, and the ride seems to go faster than normal. Then there are the mornings when I sit in traffic, and wind up being late to work... these are the mornings that I watch the clouds fly by, the sun rise slowly into the sky, and I realize I'm luckier than most. Instead of complaining about my drive, I try to look at the positive things in my life, no matter how small those positives are. I begin letting my wind wander to the day I will have once I arrive at the hospital - hopefully better than the last. It's easy to sit there and beep at drivers that should probably go back and retake their driving test, to raise your blood pressure, and be angry at the world, but sometimes these things are uncontrollable. I always focus on my breathing, and breath as deeply as I can during my ride. Yoga has taught me this, and I'm so grateful that I have been able to bring this to all aspects of my life.

Life is beautiful, despite days that are filled with struggles.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

Last year, Sal and I ran in a local 5K Turkey Trot together, after having trained for weeks on end. We  never ran before we started training, and after a few weeks, I felt invincible. Of course, there were many times when I wanted to give up, but I didn't. We made it to race day, and ran our hearts out. This year was a little different because Sal was unable to run, though he was signed up. It turns out that Sal injured his leg and the doctor suggested (actually, he demanded) that Sal not run any more. When I heard the news, I was slightly devastated, and not because he was injured, because I know Sal will just persevere and push himself past the injury, but because I had lost my running partner. I laced up my shoes that morning, put layer upon layer on, and popped my earbuds in place, going through the motions I'd go through on any race morning. We waited at the start line together until we were about to start; that's when Sal headed to the sidelines, and I knew I had to give it my all. Despite the cold temperatures, and the empty space at my side, I ran. I ran even though I hadn't run in weeks, all while repeating in my head, the faster I ran, the warmer I'd be... the faster I ran, the sooner I'd see Sal. He was my motivation during that run, just like he's my motivation during many days.

When I made it to the finish line though, I didn't see him, and he didn't see me... there were thousands of people at the race. It was my fastest recorded 5K - 29:02. I was shaking, so I kept walking and grabbed a bottle of water, an orange slice, and a roll. I quickly decided my body needed liquids more than solids, after a quick bite of bread. I searched frantically, until I saw the back of his head in the crowd. I ran to him, as fast as my already sore legs would run, and called his name. We were both upset that he hadn't seen me cross the finish line, but he smiled and said he was so proud that I had finished, especially without him. I'm glad I didn't just roll over when I heard my alarm go off that morning, glad I called Sal to wake him up that morning, and glad I had finished yet another 5K on my own. You are stronger than you think you are. You don't always need someone there by your side, but having someone at the finish line is an indescribable feeling.

We quickly left because by that time Sal's feet were frozen, and he could no longer feel his hands. My heart was still racing, and my blood was warm as the adrenaline was still coursing through me, but I knew it would wear off fast, so I didn't hesitate when he said let's go home! I finished off a water bottle, and talked with Sal about the race, as we drove home. We were both looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with our families... Sal at his house, and mine at a formal restaurant. We decided a few years ago that we would see each other at some point during Thanksgiving, but that we would spend it with our family separately. I am all for spending holidays together, but Thanksgiving seems like an important holiday to spend with your own family. It works for us. I had some time before we were going to our dinner, so I took my time, enjoying watching the Thanksgiving Day parade with my brother and mom, while chowing down on pumpkin muffins she had made for us while I was running.

When we arrived at the banquet hall, we were greeted with 'Happy Thanksgivings,' and while I was sad that these individuals were all working, and my being there was not helping them be with their families, I hoped they'd be able to see them after their shift was over. The spread was incredible, from butternut squash raviolis, turkey, and a mashed potato bar, to pies of all kinds and chocolate covered fruit! While we tried to take our time, pausing after appetizers, and again after dinner, we were stuffed at the end of our three course meal, that ended up being four or five for my brother and dad. The atmosphere was perfect, and I truly felt like I was enjoying dinner with my family at home. We cheered with champagne, that might've been the best I've ever had, and then drank wine during dinner. It was relaxing, and it felt right, unlike many holidays prior to that ended with everyone in different rooms. I enjoyed having my family right there with me for a few hours. No cell phones were brought out, and the conversation never lulled. There was no stress in the kitchen, and even though there were no leftovers, I kind of consider that a blessing. Not being able to stuff your face with turkey and mashed potatoes all night, is definitely a good thing for me. I counted my blessings sitting at that table together, and my family is definitely at the top of that list.

When we got home, we relaxed in the living room, lighting a fire, and turning on a movie. We sat on the couches, and laughed for what seemed like hours. I could not have been more thankful, could not have been more blessed.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with their loved ones.