Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Valentine's Day 2015: The Heart of the Matter

Each Valentine's Day for the last three years has been spent with one of my best friends. For the past two years I've worked on Valentine's Day (I'm sure other years prior, but I'm counting full time job hours). The hospital has been such a great place to be, and I try and make it a great day for the children and families that are stuck there. This year it was filled with cupcakes and Zumba! For the past seven years, I've had a boyfriend who spoils me to no end each and every day of the year, not just with material things and food, but with his undivided attention, love, and support. Even though we've been dating each other, every Valentine's Day that comes around, we don't make a huge deal out of it, because we show each other how much we love each other day in and day out. To us, it's not about one day, it's about day after day. So that's why I choose to go out with my friend on Valentine's Day. Sal and I still have our night out together and he still arrives to my door with flowers or has them delivered, but it doesn't need to be on Valentine's Day. 

Sal had flowers delivered to the hospital where I work. Receiving a phone call saying I had something downstairs in the lobby waiting for me was definitely heart wracking, but definitely made me smile when I picked up the box and saw what was delivered to me. It made me feel so special, and gave me a smile to wear the rest of the day. 

This year, my friend and I were going to go to a fancy restaurant, but it ended up being booked with reservations, so we decided to go to our favorite burger place, with wine (Zinburger is great for those of you that haven't gone)! We arrived even though it was snowing, and were seated immediately, with no wait ... which is funny because on any random night we'd go there, there would be a wait! I guess burgers aren't that romantic, well for us they certainly are! We immediately started off with a bottle of wine, even though they were out of one of our favorites, Reisling. We poured our glasses full, and began our usual conversation, catching up and gossiping and forming our plans for the summer, which will be epic. We placed our orders for our delicious burgers and sweet potato fries, and when they arrived, we still continued to talk as we stuffed our faces. It's funny because each and every time we go there, we say we're only going to order half of a burger, and we end up ordering and eating a whole one. We were full, but there was still more wine, so our night went on. 

Time went fast, and we found ourselves closing the place, so we headed next door to Cups and filled our cups with way too much frozen yogurt and toppings. Why we do this to ourselves, I'll have no idea, but it was too good to resist. We said goodbye feeling way too stuffed, and headed home. I arrived home and Sal pulled up with homemade cookie dough ice cream. Don't worry, I didn't eat it that night... I am definitely not a glutton for punishment. I did savor it and still am savoring it a little at a time because it's just so good. 

That Sunday night, Sal and I decided to go out just the two of us, on a date. He arrived to my house with two roses in his hand, and a cute little pillow that says I love you. I smiled as he led me to the car, and the whole walk there I just kept thinking about how lucky I am to be with a man that truly appreciates me. We walked hand in hand into the hibachi restaurant we would be dining at that evening, and we breathed in the smell of those Japanese noodles, steak, and lobster that would soon be coming our way. Sal, of course, headed to the indoor pond they have filled with fish, and then we ordered the best girly drinks ever... yes, you read that right... Sal enjoyed a nice Mai Tai with fruit! Once we were seated, we couldn't wait to place our orders. We ended up being next to a great group of people, and we made the night really fun. Our soups and salads arrived, and then our main entrees were cooked in front of our eyes, and it was a hilarious sight to see. I even tried the Sake! 

Dinner was beyond amazing, and worth every penny. We enjoyed every last bite, and will definitely be heading back there soon! We enjoyed every second of the night we spent with one another, and if I could spend every night with him, I would. Love is a beautiful thing, and it brings out the best qualities in both of us. It didn't matter that we hadn't gone out on Valentine's day, or that I didn't give him anything, all that mattered was that we were together, and we were truly happy. The heart of the matter is not having to be with each other for every single "holiday," or needing to get one another things to show that you love them... the heart of the matter is the love that is shared between the two of you... and that you tell and show that person you love them every day. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

TIUNJ Yoga Meetup & Brunch

I swear, I could rave on and on about the Tone It Up fitness community, and how over the years, I've been able to connect with and meet so many beautiful, inspiring women. So when Kristyn, at Creative with Kristyn, wanted to put together a NJ meet up, I was all ears. She was planning for a yoga meet up, followed by brunch nearby. She picked an awesome spot that had a beginner's yoga class that she figured would be great for everyone, even if a few of the girls had never done yoga before. She was recommended to try a spot for brunch afterwards, and made reservations for guess what - 15 women! I couldn't believe how many we had coming.

I invited my friend who just got into Tone It Up, and so we woke up bright and early and headed to the yoga studio. We parked, signed in, and waited. I was able to snap some pictures of the art in the studio. It was such a warm and inviting place, except for the lady at the front desk. When she realized how big our group was, I think the nerves got the best of her, and she started shouting to make sure we had all filled out our paperwork. Not so namaste. Once we were all settled on to our mats, things got weird. Okay, probably not weird for most people who have done different types of yoga before, but I'm a vinyasa girl - I like the flow of the moves and positions, and I like feeling like I'm actually working out. This yoga did not flow. We did several different moves, but I felt like I never got the chance to really lie there and focus on my breath, or end each move and give it closure. It was different though, and I'm glad I gave it a try.

We got the group all together, and took a great big picture at the end. It was exciting to see so many awesome women coming together. Kristyn passed out little bags of Perfect Fit Cinnamon protein tied together with an awesome friendship bracelet (how sweet, right?!). Most of us were going to brunch afterwards, and it was walking distance, so we began our trek outside while snow was falling down, which made for a very cold walk. It went fast though, and before you knew it we were waiting to be seated inside the toasty restaurant. Unfortunately, there were so many of us that they had to split us up and four of our girls had to sit at another table. We all ended up having a great time getting to know one another though, and we enjoyed such delicious food. I ordered eggs with sausage and tons of veggies with a side of potatoes, which was unlike anything I'd ever had, and it was hard to stop myself from scraping the empty plate and licking it clean. It paired nicely with my green tea.

It soon felt like I was having brunch with girls that I knew for year. Each and every girl was so open with their lives and experiences, and it was a breath of fresh air. It's a funny thing, friendships... sometimes, they just form so easily, and you can't even remember how it started in the first place. I'm glad I was able to attend, and I cannot wait for more meet ups to be planned.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Date Nights Are A Must

I don't think that will ever change. Even when Sal and I are living together, even when we are married and have children, I think we'll still be going out on little date nights. And why shouldn't we?

We have been dating now for over seven years, and believe me, the butterflies have not gone away. I still get excited to see him everyday, and excited when we plan little date nights, whether we go out or spend the night cuddled up in a blanket together. We make sure that we plan to go out on a date at least once a week, especially now since we've both been so busy, it's even more important to spend even a little time doing something we love, together. With Sal at his new internship, and teaching at CKO, and me at my full time job, and teaching at CKO as well, we rarely have time to see each other and hang out like we used to, as I'm sure many have found out when being thrown into the real adult world. So, every week we make sure we plan something special together, and I'm not talking a big elaborate dinner at a 5 star restaurant either.

This past week, we decided Friday would be our night together, after I got out of work. We planned to go to dinner and a movie. I chose Steak N' Shake so we could grab some burgers, fries, and milkshakes, something we haven't eaten in forever! I had coupons, so it was going to be even less expensive than we had planned for the entire night. The coupons didn't work (long story), but we still enjoyed every last bite, and left the restaurant hand in hand.

We headed to the movies afterwards, and bought our tickets for American Sniper. If you haven't seen it yet, you really need to get your butt to a movie theater real quick. It was such a powerful, raw story, about something that we don't normally allow ourselves to think about sometimes, war and how it affects each and every man and woman that gets deployed and sees things that we could not even imagine, and how they deal with coming back to their families. We grabbed each others hands during certain parts of the movies, and I found myself resting my head on his shoulder every once in awhile, just to feel close. The movie didn't bring me to tears like some people who I know, but I was inspired to change my thought process, and to really appreciate each and every day I live in here in freedom, with the people I love and care about.

So since we're only here for such a short amount of time, why not still date the person you're with? Why not go out together and act as if you're going out on a first date, every time you go out? I'm pretty sure it's one of the keys to having a successful relationship, and if you're hesitant, I say, give it a try! Text each other at work that day, make plans to even meet at the restaurant or place you're going to, in separate cars just to build up the excitement! Get dressed up and just spend the night together - no phones, no fighting, just being the two of you! I promise you, it's worth it.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Healthy Bites: Cookie Dough Overnight Oats

Two healthy recipe posts in a row? Uh oh! You might be able to tell, but I've been majorly focused on my personal training, and wellness business in the works. Yes, you read that right. This is MY YEAR, and I am the one calling the shots. So I've been training, creating, and pushing myself past limits that I thought were set too high for me to reach. It's funny how we are always looking at others and saying, "well I can't do that," instead of saying "why can't I?" YOU CAN! I tell my kickboxing class all the time, you are capable of more than you think you can do! It's just a matter of pushing past our thoughts, and going for it.

I've been testing some healthy recipes out in the kitchen. I'm always one to follow a recipe, but once you have the basics down, you can pretty much mix and match ingredients to really make something new and delicious. I'm a huge fan of cookie dough, and if I could eat cookie dough ice cream every night before bed without it affecting me, I would. So I figured what's better than going to sleep, waking up, and eating cookie dough? Few things come to mind. So I've perfected that sweet cookie dough taste in overnight oats!

Cookie Dough Overnight Oats [1 serving]


1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1 tbsp plain or vanilla greek yogurt
1 tbsp almond butter
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
splash of maple syrup
pinch of salt

2 tbsp chocolate chips/cocoa nibs


1. Mix all ingredients in mason jar, except for chocolate chips and shake well.

2. Place in refrigerator overnight.

3. Add in chocolate the next morning; mix in and sprinkle on top! You can leave it out to get room temperature, or enjoy right out of the fridge!

4. Grab a spoon and enjoy!