Archive | April 2014

Lately: smiles and celebrations

Hello, hello, long time, no talk! I didn’t intend to be absent for so long, but things got a little exciting around here last week…Brandon came home! Lately there’s been a lot of smiles and celebrating going on around these parts : –)
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Obviously I couldn’t resist making a sign, and because I’m a secret poet I had to rhyme Winking smile

I wish I could bottle-up the emotions I felt as I saw him walking towards us; it is a feeling I’ll never forget. Having him home is so surreal! Simple things like getting coffee and bagels together, going to the grocery store, watching t.v.; it’s these little things that I missed the most. I’m so happy to have him back.  Even just being in the same time zone is SUCH a treat because we can actually communicate throughout the day. This may not sound major, but it was something we couldn’t do as a result of the Australian/U.S. time difference so it’s a wonderful feeling.
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We met my best friend Julia’s newborn baby boy, Jackson, the day after B arrived home…he is so precious!

Brandon planned a Vermont getaway for us over the weekend which was unforgettable. A fun road trip with just the two of us was the perfect way to celebrate his homecoming together. We toured (and gorged on ice-cream)  at Ben & Jerry’s, visited Lake Champlain Chocolates and Cabot Cheese, had (too many) drinks, danced and sang the night away at a David Nail concert, and mostly just enjoyed being together again.  I don’t think I stopped smiling all weekend!
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Is there anything better than free ice-cream samples? I think not.
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What a small world…we even saw friends at the concert! Hi girls : –)
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This would be my hang-over cure bagel. Maple walnut cream cheese for.the.win.

To top off the weekend, I headed to Connecticut to celebrate my sister & the bride-to-be at her bridal shower hosted by her future sister and mother-in-law. To say this shower was beautiful is an understatement. It was EXQUISITE. The decorations, décor, food, festivities, and people were amazing. What a special day for my sister. Love you Deb and Lauren!
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Future sisters!
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It is truly the season of bridal showers! Last week I also attended my friend Suzanna’s shower and it was such a fun day. Can’t wait for that wedding!
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There’s one more thing that’s been celebrated around here lately:
Last week I received my acceptance letter into the Master of Science in Food and Nutrition program at Framingham State University in Massachusetts, beginning in September of this year. I am BEYOND excited. This program acceptance is what I’ve been working towards for the last year-and-a-half, and besides that, it also means that Brandon and I get to move back to Massachusetts this fall. Hip-hip-hooray!  Thank you all for the kind words and support <3
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The celebrations will be continuing this weekend, too! I’m off to Atlantic City for Kimmie’s bachelorette with 8 beautiful ladies. It’s her last fling before the ring and I can’t wait! GET ME TO FRIDAY. Have a great rest of the week, friends. xo

Ever been to Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in VT?
What’s your favorite B&J flavor?
I am a die-hard cookie dough lover, but I tried the ‘candy bar pie’ flavor this past weekend and now I’m hooked!
 
New Jersey friends, any recommendations of fun, girly, day-time activities in Atlantic City in case the weather isn’t conducive for bathing suits?

Two years gone by

Hi friends, Happy Easter Monday! I hope you had a memorable day and weekend with your families. I spent Easter with some of my favorite people.
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We were missing a few other favorites (furry friends included) but one in particular was constantly on my mind:
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Today’s the day that I (along with his family and friends) have been waiting for for over two years now: today Brandon comes home FOR GOOD! It’s hard to believe that two years have gone by, but somehow they have. And now we can officially kiss our long distance relationship goodbye…AMEN! I’m headed to the airport tonight with his family and oh.my.gosh. the butterflies in my stomach are out of control. I swear I will have a permanent smile plastered on my face for the next year.  When I knew he was boarding his plane last night, the smiles just didn’t stop. Someone pinch me, I can’t believe it’s finally here! 
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I couldn’t be prouder of my love for his accomplishments over the last two years. In that time, he made lifelong friends and a lifetime of memories. I am so happy we were able to share part of his Australian journey together.
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Anyway, I have so much to share but for now, here’s the recipe I promised last week. I made this way too many times last week…literally for 3 out of 7 days this was on my dinner plate. Whoops. I guess you could call me an incredibly boring eater, but like I said, it’s just too good to stop! And yes, I have a cauliflower problem.

Cauliflower Poppers
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Ingredients:
3/4-1 head of cauliflower
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic salt

Directions:
1) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large mixing bowl, mix olive oil, nutritional yeast, and garlic salt together.
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2) Wash and chop cauliflower into florets; then place in mixing bowl with the other ingredients.
3) Stir all together until the cauliflower is mostly covered with the yellowish mixture.
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4) Place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, then turn each piece over with a fork and bake for another 25-30 minutes, until browned.
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5) Try not to eat the entire batch…good luck! 
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This dish is gluten-free, dairy-free, and relatively low in calories, too. It has quickly become my staple side-dish… I am hooked!  I suggest making a double batch if you are serving four or more people, otherwise, you might run out too quickly. Just a tip!

Counting the hours until we’re off to the airport tonight, yay! Wish me luck : –)
Also, best of luck to all of the Boston Marathon runners today, I’m cheering for you. And to my dear friend Michelle, who continues to be my inspiration day-in and day-out, I’m thinking of you. Love you, girl xoxo

How was your Easter?
Do you like cooking with nutritional yeast?
I was a bit afraid at first, but now I love it!
What’s your favorite cauliflower recipe?

28, feeling great: Confessions

Happy Friday, friends! It is safe to say April is the month of birthdays around here. First was Brandon’s (he is only 6 days older than me) and on Wednesday my sister and I turned 28. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again..where does the time go? I really do not know. What I do know is that I wish my twin sister her very best year yet. 28 is proving to be a huge year for her already! To start, she’s getting married and she just started a new job. Who knows what else the year will bring? I couldn’t be prouder of her. Anyway, since it’s Friday and all, I’d say it’s time for some confessions:

1) It always seems that every year at least one person asks me what it’s like to share a birthday as a twin.
I love getting twin questions, and I always answer this one in one simple word: AMAZING.
It’s amazing to share a birthday each year with your very best friend.
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It’s amazing to grow up and have joint birthday celebrations (twice the cake, twice the friends, twice the fun!)
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It’s amazing and a true blessing to be a twin.
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2)I should have been a wedding planner
As much as wedding-related activities can be stressful, it has truly been such a fun process with my sister and it was SO fun to make her wedding invitations this past weekend.  Although we were very tired of gluing and assembling after 150+ invitations, they came out better than we ever imagined. Looks like I should have been a wedding planner…or maybe just an invitation maker!
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3)I couldn’t have felt more loved on my birthday
Seriously,  I am so blessed. I have the best boyfriend, family, and friends around. The flowers, cards, packages, multiple phone calls and all of the messages I received throughout the day were so touching. Even though I had to be  in class all day, I couldn’t stop smiling from the amount of love I felt. Thank you all for your kindness. 28 feels great so far!
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Also, this was by-far the highlight of my food-related birthday treats:
A Dairy Queen Confetti Cake Blizzard. OMG. All I can say is, if you have a DQ in your area, go order this NOW.
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4) I am positive I have a cauliflower problem
Ever since my Mom introduced me to a gluten-free, dairy-free “cauliflower poppers” recipe that involves nutritional yeast as a main ingredient, I have been HOOKED on cauliflower. I’ll share the simple recipe soon, it is a definite keeper!
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5) 11 days remain…
The countdown is dwindling…Brandon is home in 11 days and counting! I have to pinch myself on a daily basis; I can not believe we are almost down to single digits. Ahhhh!  Wishing my love a wonderful last week with his mates down-under.
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I hope you have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Anyone else ever want to be a wedding planner?
Have you cooked with nutritional yeast?
Do you like Dairy Queen?
I am literally obsessed.

a happy birthday wish

A happy birthday ode to my one-and-only. Happy 28th, B! Can’t wait to celebrate with you in 3 weeks <3

Ode to Brandon
28 years, where does time go?
A silly question, one we’ll never know.

Yet every year on our birthday we tend to ask
why does time go by so fast?

For the last two years you’ve been down-under, in the tropics and sun
leaving everyone back home envious of your adventures and fun.
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But most people don’t realize the sacrifices you’ve made
leaving home for an international opportunity, things could change, relationships could fade.

You left having no fear at age twenty-six
a tall, handsome, American ready for his Australian fix.

Fresh off the plane in 2012 with no family or friends
can you believe it now, when you think about then?
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First up was wrong-side of the road driving coupled with a stick shift, too,
you were an instant pro, excelling as you always do.
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Then nailing down an apartment with quite a view
I’ll never forget living there, sharing those moments with you.
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Meeting new people, making best mates
becoming an avid cross-fitter with a constant 5:30 p.m. date.
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You’ve seen New Zealand, Dubai, all of Australia and more
true experiences that have opened so many doors.
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Leaving home at 26, soon returning, now 28
this opportunity it must have been fate.

It showed you the world, exposed you to new  people, places and things,
even when you missed home, you embraced this time and all that it could bring.
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Two years have come and gone, where did they go?
For you, they went fast, for me they went slow.

My wish is to never spend another birthday apart;
can’t wait to have you home, love you with all my heart.

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xoxo

a spring in my step…April confessions

Hey friends, happy April 1st! Since it’s the beginning of the month and all, why not start with confessions?

1) Alleluia, Amen, Praise the Lord…it’s April!
This may sound dramatic but I have been waiting for this day ALL YEAR LONG. It’s not just because I’m sick of winter though (even though I am SO OVER it). The real reason I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of April is because today’s the first day in two years that I can actually say ‘Brandon’s moving home THIS MONTH!’ {Insert happy dance here}. I am 100% positive that there is a spring in my step today.
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This was the welcome sign I made for his Sept./Oct. 2012 visit home…ahhh the memories. I get chills just typing this!

3 weeks until the best day ever at the airport.
3 weeks until a hug, kiss, and hand-hold can physically happen.
3 weeks until goodbyes won’t exist.
3 weeks until our new beginning. 
Can’t wait, can’t wait, can’t wait!!
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2) My Nana is my idol.
Nana turned 87 over the weekend and even though Boppa wasn’t well enough to join us, we made the best of it with a girls dinner on the ocean full of cocktails, live piano music, laughs, and tears. At 87, I can only hope to be as loving, vibrant, witty, youthful, full-of-life, and as fashion-forward as my Nana.  Leopard scarf and matching leopard flats at 87? She is my idol.
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3)Black ice is no joke.
Two days before my sister’s bridal shower, I fell and sprained my foot…Ooooof it was painful.  I wish I could tell you that I sprained it doing something athletic, but that’s just not the case.  I was actually volunteering when it happened, and all it took was a slip on a patch of black ice.Black ice is no joke, my friends. I was in so much pain that I proceeded to crawl to my car and cry for 30 minutes. I ended up not walking on it for most of Friday and Saturday, so by the day of the shower, it felt strong enough to walk on. I’m very lucky it wasn’t worse!   I was more-so freaking out about not being able to wear heels than my actual injury ( I know, it sounds shallow),but a new dress with no heels? That wasn’t happening. I’m pretty much all healed, with the exception of a nasty bruise. I’ll spare you a picture!

4) Once again, I have an iced coffee addiction.
Thanks a lot Dunkin’ Donuts for introducing the ‘Cookie Dough’ iced coffee flavor. So much for not spending money on coffee…now there’s absolutely zero hope for me in that department! My goal is to try and stick to my two coffee per-week limit. However, since it’s only been out for two days and I’ve already had two, I am fairly certain I am already failing miserably.
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5) I have a pancake problem.
It seems like ever since I adapted to a gluten-free (for the most part) lifestyle, my love of breakfast foods has grown and grown. I could seriously eat smoothies, pancakes and waffles all day every day. Last week I had a pancake craving around lunchtime so I tried a similar version of this sweet potato pancake recipe from Tina at Carrots ‘N’ Cake.  Now I’m hooked!

Cinna-Pumpkin Spice Sweet Potato Pancakes
Adapted from Carrots ‘N’ Cake
Ingredients:
1/2 cup sweet potato (cooked and mashed)
1/3 cup almond flour
1/2 cup egg beaters (or 2 eggs)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Directions:
1) Clean, peel, and chop a small/medium sized sweet potato into chunks, then put it in a microwave safe dish with a small amount of water, cover with saran-wrap and cook for 4-5  minutes, or until soft. Let it cool off, mash with a fork or potato masher until smooth, and measure out a 1/2 cup.

2) Preheat skillet on stovetop and coat with cooking spray. Then combine the 1/2 cup of sweet potato with the remaining  7 ingredients in a mixing bowl (or food processor) and mix well. (I used my hand-mixer).
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3) Once your skillet is heated, add the desired batter amount you’d like and cook evenly on both sides.
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4) Add your desired toppings and serve immediately.  I topped mine with almond butter, raisins, and slivered almonds, but the combinations are endless (granola, pecans, cashews, anything!)
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#pancakeproblems

What are you looking forward to the most about April?

Has anyone else tried the new Dunkin’ flavors? If so, what’s your favorite?