Tag Archive | Life

meatless monday, mostly meatless meredith

Hey friends! Happy Monday/MLK Day. Today is my last day of “winter break” and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in shock about it. Where did January go? I am happy that I feel like I accomplished a lot of my wedding to-do list in my time off from classes, however, it’s still shocking how fast time goes by as we age. While I’m sad to see vacation end, I’m also excited to get back into a daily routine and get this show on the road with classes. I can’t wait to be done already!!

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hehehe!
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Anyway, since I haven’t blogged much at all in the last couple of months, I haven’t had the chance to share what I’ve been eating lately. Since this has always first-and-foremost been a food blog to me, I want to stay honest about it. Ever since December, I’ve been dabbling with eating a (mostly) plant-based diet. Brandon and I actually declared December as a “Meatless Month”, with the exception of a few pieces of bacon here-and-there (whoops), and seafood. I’m just not interested in cutting out seafood…life is too short and I love it too much! Anyway, to me, this isn’t a diet. It’s a lifestyle. This diagram does a good job of explaining what exactly what a plant-based diet consists of:

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There’s been a few reasons behind this switch, one because I’ve never been a huge “meat” person, and two because I’ve always generally felt better (on the inside and out)when I’m eating mostly plant-based foods.Truthfully though, my entire mind-set shifted entirely after seeing the movies Forks Over Knives and Food Inc. in one of my classes this semester. (Watch these movies!!!) I am so happy to now have more awareness and knowledge surrounding the prevalent health issues linked to animal-based diets, and after learning about the secrets behind the meat industry, I now feel that eating meat and most other animal-based foods just isn’t for me. Trust me, I know this isn’t for everyone, and I’d never push this on anyone! In fact, I can and will still cook  with some animal products, be around it, and serve it; it’s just not something that I, personally, want to eat anymore.

I think my main concern (and my family’s main concern) was where I would get my protein from. I stopped eating dairy a few months ago (with the exception of cheese pizza and ice cream now-and-then because like I said, life is too short!), so that hasn’t been too difficult for me. Vanilla almond milk=my favorite! However, it’s astonishing how many people believe that if we don’t eat meat, we will be protein deficient. That couldn’t be more false! Instead of meat protein, I’ve been focusing on getting my protein from other things: like grains, seeds, seafood, nuts and legumes. Here’s some of the things I’ve been making/eating:

2-bean taco salads
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Roasted vegetables
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Shrimp, quinoa, and vegetables
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Broccoli slaw quinoa salad
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Flourless blueberry pancakes with walnuts and gluten-free granola
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Rice pasta, grilled shrimp, and roasted cauliflower

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Arugula quinoa salad with peanut-butter rice cakes
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Peanut butter protein bites
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Anyway, I’m not preaching anything here, I simply wanted to share this with all of you in hopes to show that eating a mostly plant-based diet can still be delicious and nutritious, and maybe some of you will want to go “meatless” once and a while, too. I’ll be back this week with a recipe; talk to you soon, friends!

What is your favorite meatless meal?
Lately, mine is a big salad with quinoa and vegetables, and I’m loving experimenting with more cauliflower-based dishes.
Would you ever switch to a mostly-plant-based diet?

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Friday Confessions: moments

Hey friends! Long time, no talk. Time sure has slipped away from me this summer. It is SO hard to believe we’re almost to Labor Day.  I don’t know how you’re feeling about it, but I’m quite honestly having mixed emotions.  Since the end of summer is upon us (I hate saying that but it’s true… I start classes in less than 2 weeks!), I wanted to be sure I wrote about some of my favorite moments through the last few months. After all, even though I originally started this blog to share recipes,  it has truly become a space to also express my feelings and write about memories I never want to forget.

We all have moments that stick out in our minds…happy and sad moments, freaking-out moments,  life is oh-so-good moments, etc. I’ve certainly had my fair share of cries and hysterical moments this summer, but all-in-all, there’s been a lot more happy moments that stand-out in my mind more than anything at all. For one, Brandon came home,  for another, my sister got married, and just yesterday we signed a lease and move in one week! While the summer has also had its challenging moments, mostly it’s been incredibly special. I will always look back on these few months and cherish these times.   My favorite moments were:

Moments with my parents: It’s been incredibly rewarding to live with my parents this past year. Having this one-on-one time with them day-in and day-out as an adult has been so special. I’ll always hold dear to my heart the early morning work-outs and walks with my Mom, movie and dinner dates with my Dad, bike rides, mother/daughter day-off trips, and grocery shopping together…man-oh-man I’m going to miss my parents. I will never be able to thank them enough for their generosity this year and I will always treasure these moments.

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An evening stroll in Kennebunkport

Fried food date with Dad (YOLO)
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Bike ride cuties

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Moments with friends: I haven’t seen nearly enough of my girlfriends these past few months, but no matter how far apart we live, the second we’re together, it’s just like old times. Much love to my girls.
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Moments with my other half:Although I’ve only seen my sister ONCE this summer (I can’t even believe that’s the truth), every second of  being together was wonderful. Best friends forever and always.

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Moments with grandparents (and the grand-dogs):
It has been a summer of adjustment without our Boppa around for all of us, especially for Nana. For that reason, we’ve tried to keep her busy and keep her surrounded by loved ones at all times.  Moments with Nana and my Mem are always full of laughter and love, but they’re never quite long enough. My parents would agree that moments with their “grand-dogs” are never quite long enough, either.
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Moments of celebrating love:
It is the summer of weddings and I have loved it! Witnessing some of our closest friends and family members exchange heartfelt vows has been so special and has warmed my heart. Plus, attending them with Brandon has made them even more special.

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Moments of togetherness:

I have not spent nearly enough time with Brandon this summer as I’d hoped, but we are so excited about our upcoming move and future endeavors. I’m thankful for the special moments we have had this summer, and can’t wait for future together.
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Moments at work: The biggest challenge I faced this summer was creating a work/life balance for myself. While I didn’t exactly excel in this balance, I am really proud of the improvements I made in my managing skills and food-service skills, along with the commitment and dedication I showed throughout the season. I truly couldn’t love a small business more.  

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Do you have any stand-out moments of the summer?

What’s up for Labor Day?
I will either be moving or working, so please share some fun plans so I can live vicariously through you!

small victories, big victories

Hi there, happy Monday and happy March! I know I’m a few days late, but I am still ecstatic that the calendar is no longer on February.  I kid-you-not I did a happy dance on March 1st. To me, March symbolizes the start of sunshine, spring air, tulips, brighter evenings, and most importantly, one month closer to Brandon coming home. Hooray!

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Anyway, February was a crazy month for me and I know March will be even crazier. My sister’s wedding is less than 3 months away, my classes are full-swing, and I start working weekends again verrrry soon.  For that reason, I’m making a diligent effort to take things day-by-day rather than looking ahead,  and I’m making sure to recognize each task accomplished off of my to-do list as an individual victory, even if it’s just a small one. I am a strong believer in recognizing accomplishments because my parents have always been big on this.  Growing up, whether we lost a tooth, learned the capitals of the USA, or scored in our basketball game;  every achievement was recognized, big or small. I remember those moments specifically because they made a point to celebrate them! It really helped me to slow down and live in the moment. Currently, if I think about the months ahead as a whole,  I start stressing out in a bad way. In order to start March off on the right foot, small victories are going to be big victories in my book. 

Recent victories:
-Aced my Chemistry 2 test = victory
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-Bought my bridal shower dress = victory

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…. just giving you a sneak-peek! : –)

-Attended Kimmie and Jimmy’s planning meeting/cake tasting and made some big decisions = victory
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(I helped taste, obviously!)

-Picked the bridal shower menu with Mom = victory
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-Concocted a delicious low-sugar no-bake dessert =  victory
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This recipe was too good not to share. I adapted the recipe to make it gluten-free (using gluten-free oats), dairy-free (using almond milk), and very low-in sugar, too. Plus, these are incredibly easy to make. Enjoy these for a healthy, Monday treat!

No Bake Low-Sugar Chocolate Nut Butter and Oat Cookies
Adapted from Sugar-Free Mom

Ingredients
½ cup peanut butter (almond butter or any sun-butter would work too)
4 tablespoons butter ( I used Earth Balance)
½ cup dairy-free chocolate chips (sugar-free or regular would work, too)
2 cups rolled oats (I used gluten-free)
½ cup milk (I used almond.  Any milk would work)
powdered stevia packets ( I used 2)
0ptional topping: ⅓ cup sugar free chocolate chips, melted

Directions:

1. Add the nut butter, butter and chocolate chips to a small sauce pan and heat on low, stirring until melted.
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2. In a large mixing bowl add the oats and milk. Then pour the chocolate nut-butter mixture into the oats.
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3. Taste the mixture, and if you think it’s sweet enough, skip the stevia. I wanted it sweeter, so I added it in.  Mix well.

4. Using a small cookie scoop, form the dough into balls and place them onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
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5. You can leave them in a ball formation and refrigerate them to harden, or flatten them into small discs. I flattened mine with a fork and I loved that they looked like a cookie but had a more substantial thickness to them! You could also drizzle melted chocolate over them if you choose to. (I skipped this step because I ran out of chips.)
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6. Refrigerate until hardened.

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A few of these are going into my lunch bag as I type! Have a great Monday, all!

Were your parents big on celebrating accomplishments?
Did you have any big/small victories this week?
What’s your favorite no-bake cookie combination?
Mine is chocolate and peanut-butter, no question!

Reflections

Happy (belated) New Year! What a whirlwind the holidays are. Each year, it feels like they go by faster and faster. Anybody else feel that way? The last time I blogged, I had just finished finals, Brandon was about to come home, and Christmas was about to occur.
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Fast forward to today and suddenly I’m back in classes, Brandon has returned to Australia and Christmas is over. Where does the time go? Anyway, I was looking through my phone (and my nearly 3,000 photos…yikes) and I started to reflect on this past year. I love  how that’s so easy to do with pictures! I’ve never been one to state so-called ‘resolutions’ for the new year, but I do believe in goals, so I thought I’d state my reflections on the year instead, along with a goal to go along with each of them too.

Reflections 2013
-Personal growth happens when we least expect it
Looking back, I think I grew more as a person this past year than ever before in my life, but I never really thought so at the time. For all of last year, I was mostly just a basket of nerves. I was nervous to move beyond my comfort zone, nervous to change career paths, nervous to head back to school, move internationally, live with my boyfriend, make new friends and nervous to think about what direction my life would go in next. All of these things pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me grow. Yes it was scary, but I undoubtedly grew from it, without even expecting it.
Goal: Do one thing every month that pushes me out of my comfort zone.
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-Australia was a blessing
Moving across the world was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also the greatest thing I’ve ever done too. It forced me to grow, ignited my love of traveling, introduced  me to things and new friends, and gave me a lifetime of lasting memories, too . As hard as it was to be away from home, for me it’s harder to be away from the one I love, so everyday has its challenges. That being said, I know (now) that I made the right decision for our future, but it sure wasn’t easy at the time.
Goal: Travel to Australia with Brandon again one day.
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Distance makes the heart grow fonder
Truth is, I didn’t always believe this, but I am a whole-hearted believer now. Long distance relationships, like any relationship are based on commitment and trust, but with long-distance, I feel the belief you have in your relationship and in one another is a key component, too.   With this commitment and belief forms an unbreakable bond, and if this year has proved anything to me, it’s this. I’m thrilled to say that as soon as April hits, the long distance will be over and Brandon will be home!
Goal: Date nights once a week, minimum!
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-A week off from exercise is actually GOOD for my body
If you told me this a few years ago I would have cringed at the thought. I took a 5-7 days off from exercise at a time a couple of times this year, and it truly helped me both mentally and physically. I am so happy to be past my exercise addiction habits and ways of thinking. Rest does the body good.
Goal: Take breaks from exercise, whether needed or not needed

-I need to sleep more
I have been guilty of being sleep deprived for as long as I can remember, and this year was no exception. I need to remember how good I feel after an 8-hour sleep compared to a 5-hour sleep. My energy levels are better, my concentration is better, my mood is better…everything is just better.
Goal: 7-8 hours of sleep a night
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-I ran a lot but I’d like to run more
Since I stopped playing basketball at age 18, I haven’t felt like I’ve had a ‘sport’. This year, I really connected with running and now it kind-of feels like ‘my sport’. I’m not running a marathon anytime soon, but a second half marathon may be in my future, and it’s just so nice to look forward to running.
Goal: ‘3’ has always been my average number, so I’d like to increase my average running route from 3-4 miles to 4-5 miles by the spring-time.
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-Group exercise is addicting
I can thank Australia for this reflection. It’s there that I fell in love with bootcamps and Les Mills workout classes, and I looked forward to them almost daily. They were addicting, but in a good way. I miss them everyday.
Goal: First purchase when I move back to city/Boston area living is a gym membership…can’t wait!
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-Age is just a number
The thought of turning 28 this year sort-of makes me want to cry. ‘Late-20’s’ oh my. I kick myself just writing those words, but I can’t help thinking it!  When I look at my Mom and Dad I just hope I am just like them in my 60’s, not looking or acting a bit like ‘60’ at all, since age really is just a number.
Goal: STOP thinking of aging as a sad thing and start thinking of it as exciting part of life.
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-As you age, you learn who your friends are
Moving away was truly telling about my friendships. Oddly enough, I felt moving away brought me even closer together to a few of my best friends. Even though I’m not in the same city or state as them right now, I couldn’t love them more.
Goal: Have a girls weekend once a month.
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-Family is a precious gift
My family means everything to me, and this year, more than ever, their support was crucial to my well-being. I can’t say thank you to them enough.
Goal: Make togetherness a priority this year and every year.
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And on a less serious note:
-I have a cookie butter problem
I’m not seeking help for it since it’s too delicious, but I just wanted to acknowledge that I eat far too much of it.
Goal:  Try new nut butters….there has to be others that I like just as much, right?

-Puppies are a key to my happiness.
This might sound sappy, stupid, whatever…I am a true believer in this. Puppies always make me smile, no matter what. My sister’s puppies actually lick my tears. Sometimes I fake cry just so they’ll do it (truth).
Goal: Puppy by year end (NO MATTER WHAT!)
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I’m thankful for a wonderful 2013 and looking forward to a bright 2014.

Do you have any reflections this year?
Anyone else  have  a goal of getting a new puppy, or a pet in general?

I love Cori’s new puppy!

When the little things become the big things

Hello hello! How has it been a over week since I last posted? Seriously, where does the time go? One will never know, and I for one can not believe that this past weekend marked one month that I’ve been back from Australia. I wouldn’t exactly say I feel “settled-in” due to the fact that I’ve barely been home between working and classes, but I will say that since I’ve been back, I’ve realized that it’s little things that are making the biggest differences in my day-to-day life and helping me adjust into life at home again.  You know, little things like a compliment from a stranger, a pat-on-the-back from your boss, or a good grade on an exam. I used to think I needed monetary things to lift my spirits, like buying a new suit or the latest handbag, but now it’s just the opposite. Thank you, home, for bringing me back to reality and to my roots.
Some of the little things helping me lately have been:

-Random acts of kindness:
Can I just say that my Mom rules?  I don’t know how she does it, but somehow, someway, she spreads kindness everyday and truly makes me feel special. 
Things like: Saving me homemade macaroni cheese in the fridge(Meredith label, might-I-add):
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And leaving me the best coupon ever in my purse. $.99 cent iced coffee? Seriously this made my week.
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-Out-of-the-blue motivation
I happened to see this license plate on my way to class the other day (‘enjoy life’ shortened). I wasn’t in the best mind-frame to begin with since I was on my way to take a Chemistry exam followed by two hours of lab (I was actually VERY grumpy), so seeing this instantly helped me snap-out of it.
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-A girls night out
I haven’t been able to leave the state of Maine since I’ve been back, and I can’t describe how much I miss my girlfriends. So this past Friday, I bit the bullet, went to work super-early to get my Friday jobs accomplished by 1:00 pm, and hopped on a 3:00 bus to Boston to spend the evening with my Boston besties. There is nothing a little bit of girl time can’t cure, that’s for sure. Love you girls!
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-A refreshing workout
Sometimes, a good run is just what the doctor ordered. I ran with a windbreaker on for the first time in over a year last week and I smiled the ENTIRE 4 miles. That crisp, cool, fall air was just what I needed.
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-A visit with a loved one
My Mem is one of the most important parts of my life.I’m so grateful I’m back so that I can spend time with her, hold her hand, visit, and hug her again. It was the best hour of my week.
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-Personalized notes
Since I was a little girl I have always loved receiving mail and writing mail. I think it’s the honesty and personal touch of handwritten notes that’s so special, and whenever I receive them I literally get teary. (I know Brittany likes handwritten notes! I am totally checking out that website, by the way!)   This week, I received two special cards in the mail and I was so touched. Thank you Michelle and Sue xoxo.
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-Flowers just because
I am truly blessed to work for people that are like a second family to me. Last night, they handed me this beautiful bouquet from their garden and I was so touched!

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Even though I may not have won the megabucks, gone on a shopping spree or bought the newest Apple product, all of these little things have meant so much more to me than those things would, and they are truly the big things helping me smile today.

What is helping you smile today?

Anyone else love coupons as much as me?

Who else is loving fall running weather?

Thursday thoughts

Thursday…finally. Can I get an Amen? Since I’ve been working all weekend, every weekend since I’ve been back and I have night class Monday through Thursday night, Friday night is my only true weekend night-off. However, tonight my normal  Biology lecture and lab got cancelled, and I couldn’t be happier. To be honest it kind of feels like Christmas!  Class cancelled=no one hour commute=night off=YAY!

Anyway, here’s some random thoughts on this Thursday:
-I am super psyched for my twin sister’s wedding. This past week, my sisters, cousin, and best friend (about half of the bridal party in total) all got together and purchased our bridesmaid’s dresses. We made a great afternoon of dress fittings even more fun by stopping next door for a couple of margarita’s afterwards. Shopping + margaritas = my kind of afternoon!
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-I don’t remember ever disliking a class as much as I dislike Chemistry at this time. Atomic numbers, compounds, mols, elements…UGH. The one thing I do enjoy is the teacher (she is awesome!), so I’m trying to focus on that positive.

-I am becoming even more of an ice cream fanatic since I’m working around it all the time. Would you be able to resist homemade Peppermint Stick or White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle? If you can you are a stronger person than I!
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-I can not praise Bic Bands enough. I have been wearing mine to work, to work-out, and to go-out. I just love my sparkle band!
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I’m still unpacking and settling back into my room at home. Since I haven’t lived here since high school, I’ve been finding a lot of things my childhood….like this jacket. My proof that I was once a cheerleader Winking smile
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-I have been a big-time fan of Alexia sweet potato fries for awhile now but hadn’t yet tried the sweet potato “puffs”. Um… lets just say I’m never making my own sweet potato fries again.
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-One final thing… I need a puppy in my life. Anyone out there have a King Charles Cavalier Cocker Spaniel? OMG obsessed.
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How’s your week?
Have you tried any new food products that you like lately?
Do you have a puppy? If so, what kind?!

Now and then

In the last few weeks amongst unpacking, working, schooling, exercising, and trying to settle back into as much of a ‘normal routine’ as possible, I’ve had a lot of reminders of how different my life is now compared to then; then being the past— whether it’s a month ago, a year ago, ten years ago, just the past.  These reminders have stemmed from old pictures I’ve found, familiar faces I’ve seen in public, and comforting voices I’ve recognized on the phone. All of these reminders got me to thinking…sheesh my life has changed.

From being a fully employed city-girl one year, to an international exchange student the next, and now currently a full-time student/ rural-America girl in the present, I’ve sure had my fair share of change. But I guess change is what makes life exciting, right? I tend to think so.  I haven’t had a single second to be bored this past year, and while I truly don’t regret a second of it, I have to admit, after all of the excitement of moving to Australia and the mixed emotions of both sadness/joy over moving home, it does feel peaceful to be in one-place, unpacked, and at home for awhile. So when I got to thinking about just how different my life is now from then, I had to get it out on paper (or in this case, on the blog).

Now…Occupation
Year: 2nd half of 2013
Age: 27
Occupation: Student  + ice-cream shop/mini-golf/ bbq manager (Loving it btw!)
State & Country: Maine, USA

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Then
Year:1st half 2013
Age: 26
Occupation: student/barista/gelato scooper
State & country: QLD, Australia
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Now: Favorite Exercise
Running (check out the sheep behind me! #maineliving)
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Then:
Basketball
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Can you guess which one is me?  Winking smile

Now: Favorite Pizza
Veggie with cauliflower crust,  who would have thought?!
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Then:
Deep-dish cheese from UNO’s please 
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Now: Favorite Accessory:
Chunky necklaces
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Then:
Visor sunglasses (#soembarrassing)
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Now: Favorite ice-cream
Red Raspberry Chip with sprinkles (or anything with sprinkles!)
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Then:
Mint Chocolate Chip
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Now: Favorite Breakfast
Oats, oats, oats!  (And Greek yogurt with fruit)
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Then:
Cereal combo
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Now: Best Friend
My twin sister
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Then:
My twin sister
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Guess some things never change <3

You tell me, what’s a fun fact about you, now versus “then”?