Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cookie Dough Greek Yogurt

I'm always, always in the mood for an after dinner treat. I'm not sure it's because that's how I was raised (after you finish all of your dinner, you get dessert), or because I just have a sweet tooth, or two or three, but every night that I go to sleep with dessert, I'm a happy camper. My absolute favorite dessert has to be ice cream, and frozen yogurt comes to a close second. Even in the dead of winter, I am always suggesting to Sal that we go and get ice cream. I've been pretty good with watching how much ice cream I consume in any given month though, and I haven't been craving it as often, but when I found a recipe for a healthier version of my favorite ice cream, I couldn't resist.

 I was scrolling through Instagram, when I came across a, what seemed to be, delicious treat - cookie dough greek yogurt. Once I saw it, I knew I needed to raid my fridge to see if I had all of the ingredients, and lucky enough for me, that day I just happened to have them all. There aren't many ingredients, which makes this dessert even easier to make, and when you taste it, it will be worth all of the effort you put into making it. It doesn't taste exactly like cookie dough ice cream, but it comes pretty close, as close as you can without all of the added fat and calories.

Cookie Dough Greek Yogurt by The Suburban Girl Gone Country

yield: 1 serving size


1 small container of Fage 2% greek yogurt
1 tbsp nut butter (I used almond butter)
1 tbsp sweetener (I used stevia)
1 tbsp mini chocolate chips 
1/4 tsp vanilla extract


1. Take open container of Fage 2% Greek yogurt, and mix in nut butter. 

2. Add in sweetener, and vanilla extract. 

3. Stir in chocolate chips, and sprinkle some on top! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Because you never realize what an integral part of the family your dog is until you're driving to the animal ER in your workout clothes, hands shaking, breaths shortened, praying that this isn't the last drive you'll ever take with your dog.

Now believe me, I've been in situations like this before ... With my first dog being sick, and with Maddie when we first got her as a puppy, and even though we hadn't made any memories together then and I was still a mess, visiting her at the vet whenever possible. Now nine years later, as my mom and I stood at the receptionists desk, I was shaking horribly, trying to hang on to Maddie's leash, crying as I was cleaning up the blood that was dripping on the floor. She had started bleeding when I was petting her as soon as we got home from the gym. Blood was in her urine, and I was terrified that her kidneys were shutting down. We were brought into a room immediately, and as we shared what had happened with the vet I could only think the worst. She kept repeating what a good patient she was being, and I kept thinking this cannot be it, I won't let it. She was brought in the back, and time seemed to tick by unbearably slow as my mom and I talked, trying to laugh and smile, but looking unbearably exhausted and pale.

Maddie reappeared and the vet told us we were going to treat this as a UTI, because she has found crystals in her urine/blood sample. After a quick shot, and instructions for antibiotics we were sent on our way, and Maddie already looked like she was feeling better, back to her old self. 

It amazes me how dogs slip into our lives, and it doesn't matter if we've had them in our family for 1 day or 9 years, they become our best friend... The one we can wrap our arms around at any given moment and hug, the one that knows when something is wrong and comes up next to us, laying her head on your leg, the one that waits for you by the door each and every day, the one who's loyalty never breaks. A dog is really a man's best friend. I'm not sure what I'd do without Maddie, and as she sleeps on the ground next to me, I'm at ease. We go back to the vet to find out if the antibiotics have cleared the UTI, and I'm hoping they have, because I'm not ready to say goodbye. I need her, maybe a little more than she needs me. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

2014: New Year, New Resolutions

Last year Sal and I made it a point to sit down and write out our goals for 2013, whether they were small short term goals like staying fit and toned, or more difficult to achieve like landing my first full time job. Each of us wrote down 13 individual goals, which I thought went well with it being 2013, and even though we didn't cross off every goal, we were able to cross of a few, and a few of the big ones I might add.

Accomplished Goals in 2013:

1. Travel to multiple states and maybe abroad

 - Check! Sal and I definitely traveled from as far as Niagara Falls to as close as Pennsylvania.

2. Land a Child Life Specialist Job

 - Check! I was able to land my first full time job less than half way into the year, at a great hospital nonetheless.

3. Run more than 2 5Ks and start training for a 10K

 - Check! Above and beyond - don't sell yourself short. I completed four 5Ks in 2013 (Foam Fest, the Color Run, the Dirty Girl Run, & a Turkey Trot), and while I haven't started training of any sort, I haven't stopped running!

4. Keep my body fit and toned, with the help of Tone It Up, the gym, and running 

 - Check! Never give up on your body; love it each and every day. I ran, kept up with some Tone It Up workouts, and ever got back into kickboxing.

5. Read at least 30 books

 - Check! If you know me, you know I love to read. It wasn't at all hard to read 30, especially when I have a bookcase full of books!

6. Spend more time with family

 - Check! Because really, they are the ones who matter.

7. Start a house fund

 - Check! With the help of my new job, I am now able to save, save, save.

I completed more than half of my goals, and the goals I was unable to meet, I moved to my 2014 list of goals. I wouldn't suggest pushing goals into the new year, but I am more determined than ever to cross off every last goal on my list.

14 Goals in 2014

1. Travel to multiple states and abroad! 
2. Take & pass the GREs
3. Apply to graduate school, and never stop learning
4. Run more than 3 5Ks and start training for a longer run
5. Start writing my book - (finally) get these ideas down on paper
6. Keep my body fit and tones with the help of Tone It Up, the gym, CKO, and running
7. Read at least 35 books
8. Become a Certified Personal Trainer & encourage others to get fit and feel great about themselves
9. Get Engaged
10. Buy a new vehicle
11. Move out into my own place
12. Start a Project Life Scrapbook
13. Save, save, save. 
14. Find balance in life, between work, family, friends, and workouts. 

What are some of your 2014 goals? I'd love to know what everyone is trying to achieve this year! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

DIY: Holiday Gifts

I love giving all year long. If I see something in the store that would be perfect for someone I know, I usually buy it and give it to them right away. During the holidays especially though, I try and think of thoughtful gifts for those around me. When I can, I enjoy making gifts because they're that much more meaningful. Pinterest has become such an inspiration when it comes to DIY projects and gifts. I usually just pin things and let them sit there, but this Christmas I decided to change that. At the hospital I work at, there were several people that I wanted to give a gift to this year, and it was easy to choose what I wanted to make for them: a holiday mason jar filled with sweets & a little bag of nail polish!

Have A 'Sweet' Holiday Jar by I Heart Naptime

What You'll Need:

Mason jars 
Hershey Kisses
'Have a Sweet Holiday' Printable
Modge podge or Glue

Here's How:

1. Print out "Have a Sweet Holiday" printables. 

2. Cut and modge lodge each sign to mason jar. 

3. Fill mason jar with hershey kisses and seal.

For Your Mistletoes by Ivy in the Bay

What You'll Need:

Nail polish
Foot lotion
Small baggies

Here's How:

1. Print out 'For Your Mistletoes' printable; I used card stock paper, because it seemed stronger. 

2. Fill small baggies with tinsel first, then add the nail polish and foot lotion. 

3. Finally add the printable on top of bag and secure with staples. 

Your coworkers, teachers, and friends will love these thoughtful gifts, I can promise you that! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Christmas at Our House, It's Tradition

I still don't want to admit that Christmas has come and gone, and maybe that's why I haven't posted about Christmas yet. We anticipate all year for Christmas, and then it's gone within a blink of an eye. I had to work on Christmas Eve, which was something that I have never done, but I wasn't mad because I was able to bring a little holiday cheer to the children that were stuck in the hospital on Christmas. We received so many donations at the hospital that we were able to make bags for the children to open up on Christmas morning, because Santa visits the hospital. Every child that still believes in Santa doesn't realize that; they think that since they're not home, Santa will forget about them, and my job is to make sure the hospital experience is as normal as possible, so of course Santa comes to the hospital! While I didn't get to see the joy on the children's faces on Christmas morning, they were on my mind as I opened my own gifts. After we had packaged the gifts in bags, I headed home to help set up yet another Christmas Eve at our house. It's become a tradition that we all look forward to, no matter how much we stress about it. It doesn't matter who comes or what we eat, all that matters is that we're surrounded by loved ones. Isn't that what Christmas is about... not the presents or the feel in the air, although that does contribute to the happiness, I know it's all about the love. As family started to arrive, I started to feel that love, fill up the room. As family, and friends started to arrive, and the coats were sprung across the bed, I began to think how truly lucky I was to have this love in my life, to know that each individual was there because this meant something to them too... it had simply become a tradition.

The night quickly slipped away as wine was poured and delicious homemade food was devoured. Tutus were brought out and pictures were taken by the tree. It could not have been more perfect, with friends and family all around, even if I did wind up with an overabundance of pictures being taken on my phone {thanks Mel}. I wouldn't have changed a thing.

The next morning, I awoke to the smell of bacon, eggs, and cinnamon rolls... not an unusual smell to wake up to on Christmas morning in my house, because my mom made sure that we always shared Christmas breakfast together. I couldn't sleep any longer, even though it was still early. I think no matter how old I get I will always wake up early on Christmas morning, whether there are presents under the tree for me or not. It's just a tradition. Plus how could anyone go back to sleep after smelling bacon. 

We passed each other the gifts we had picked out and wrapped up, but we didn't unwrap together, instead we watched as each individual person unwrapped their gift, because what's the sense of rushing? What's the sense of passing along your well thought out, meaningful gift and not being able to see the joy on their faces, that is unless they know what they're getting... like my dad had known, after we had went shopping together so he could try on new cowboy boots. He still acted surprised when he opened the box I had wrapped. It was the joy in everyone's eyes that made the presents well worth it. We could have gotten each other nothing, and no one would have cared, but that feeling ... that feeling you get when you know you gave the perfect gift... it's indescribable... even as I sit here trying to type this... I'm unable to, and I would safely assume there are more people out there with these feelings. That morning we spend as a family, alone, but together. That morning quickly slipped into the afternoon, and before I knew it we were headed to Michelle's house to celebrate with her family, and eventually my Aunt and Uncle's to end the night. That is when I saw Sal. Some might think it's weird that we don't spend Christmas day together, but it doesn't bother us, it's what works for us. We each respect our families and our times together, and realize this time with our family is important, there will be plenty of time to spend with each other and our own family in the future. We didn't exchange gifts this year either, which people reacted to with confused looks as well, but again, it worked for us. Instead of material things, things that we could buy ourselves, we decide to save that money and go on trips and adventures together throughout the year. 

Christmas is a time to spend with those you love, to share that love, but not by showering each other with gifts, but by being with one another, sharing stories, laughing, and creating tradition after tradition

Sunday, January 5, 2014

On Turning Twenty-Four

Just writing that number makes me cringe. I may or may not have cried when I turned twenty, yes
twenty... so twenty-four was no better. Whether it was because of my brother's constant taunting that I'm so close to thirty, or just the fact that each year seems to be passing faster and faster, and I'm left wondering where the last year went, I can't be quite sure. All I know is that twenty-four doesn't feel much different than twenty-three did, and I think that all has to do with that old saying, "you're only as old as you feel." I can honestly say that I don't feel old, not in the true sense of the word old. Sure, I am probably more tired than I've ever been, but I think that comes with working a full time job, and trying to fit life into.. well, my life. The weekend of my birthday, I decided that I would do what I wanted to, without worrying about who showed up or didn't. In the past years, I always tried to make everyone else happy, but I figured now was a good a time as any to make myself happy on my birthday. I chose to go ugly sweater, drunk bowling. Yes, you read that right... we would be bowling in ugly sweaters, or in my case, a tutu, because I was the birthday girl. When I told my friends the idea, most were down to come, because bowling is not something we do anymore, and drinking during just makes it a lot more fun. Some wore ugly sweaters, Sal ended up wearing a Santa suit, and my best friend and I wore tutus.

We ended up finding a great deal on Groupon for two hours of bowling, shoes, and a pitcher of beer, for six people, and it worked out perfectly. We bowled, and ended up getting pretty competitive, or that might've been just Sal and I, because no one else was really trying or cared all that much. For them it wasn't a matter of winning, like it was for me. In the end though, everyone ended up snapping pictures, and laughing harder than we ever thought possible, ignoring the game completely, and having to ask the guy behind the desk for more time to play and finish the game.

We walked out of the bowling alley singing, not ready for the night to end, since the clock hadn't even struck midnight, announcing that my day of birth had arrived. We decided to go to Applebee's for half price apps, or in my case a delectable drink and a traditional dessert. After convincing our waiter that it was actually my birthday, he brought out my dessert with fellow coworkers at his side, and they sang their ever enthusiastic birthday song, and I kept my head high and my hands clapping, taking in every word! The night ended as quickly as it began, but really my birthday had just started. I took the day off from work, and I was ready to make the day mine.

My mom and I went for manis and pedis that morning, and I almost fell asleep in the chair while the lady massaged my feet, because let's face it, who doesn't love a pedicure with a complete foot massage. We headed home too soon after, and I relaxed until later that night when I opened my presents and headed out to dinner at a local hibachi restaurant with all those I love - my parents, brother and his girlfriend, Michelle, Sal, and one of my uncles. I had been craving it, and wanted to try a place I had never been too. It brought back the memory of my mom taking me to hibachi whenever I received straight A's on my report cards way back in the day, something I will never forget. The food was delicious, and the company was even better. Even though the seats aren't ideal for conversation, they are ideal for enjoying the atmosphere and the food. So while I smacked my head on the back of the chair while trying to catch a shrimp in my mouth, everyone had the best view in the house.

Before we headed home, my brother and Michelle decided that they wanted to make their gingerbread house, so Sal and I stopped and bought whatever was left in the store (Disclaimer: on December 22nd, there isn't much left). We ended the night putting together our gingerbread sleigh, while Kyle and Michelle put together their original gingerbread house. It was a fun way to finish off my birthday, with yet another Christmas tradition, because really what's the point of having your birthday so close to Christmas if you're not thinking about Christmas?

Here's to another year of adventures and life lessons. 

Just remember... everything's more fun in a tutu, especially on your birthday.