Spring Break Adventures Continued

Hola!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Just finished up a taco dinner (ironically, I did not do that intentionally) and am settling down with J for our weekly Monday night ritual of watching “The Voice.” Obligatory side note: WHAT did Adam do to his hair!? That blonde needs to go. 

Vacation in Charleston

Well, it’s been officially over a month since our little vacation, so I should probably finish up that part two post I promised, huh? Let’s get right down to it!

As I said in part one of my spring break re-cap, Justin and I spent the first two days of break visiting friends in the Chapel Hill, NC area. On Sunday morning, we packed up and headed south to Charleston, SC.

Upon arriving Sunday afternoon, Justin and I were super excited about our hotel. We stayed at the Holiday Inn-Riverview and it was in a killer location! Our window offered a fantastic view of the Ashley River and peninsula.

The rest of Sunday and the entire day Monday was devoted to exploring the peninsula downtown. Our hotel provided a shuttle service to and from the downtown area, which was awesome since we didn’t really want to pay for parking. The shuttle dropped us off at the Historic Charleston City Market and we could easily walk to so many cool downtown places from there!

Highlights from our exploration:

Charleston CoastThis boardwalk was awesome! There were swings to relax in, and plenty of benches as well. We enjoyed just feeling the ocean breeze and gazing out into the water. We could also see Fort Sumter, which was cool since we didn’t actually have time to go out and tour it.

King StreetKing Street shopping! Justin was a real trooper and let me indulge in my window shopping habit. What a guy 🙂

Gilroy'sGilroy’s Pizza Pub. Since Justin indulged me in my shopping habit, I indulged him in his pizza habit. (Seriously, the man is a freak about pizza. He could eat it every day!) We checked out a couple different pizza places but this was by far our favorite! Delicious pizza and a really cool atmosphere. It was the perfect place to eat and watch some March Madness!

Verde VerdeSpeaking of food, my favorite place was Verde, a locally owned and operated build-your-own salad/wrap restaurant. They use super fresh veggies in all their food — my wrap was delicious! A great way to fuel up with some healthy food since vacations are typically times to over-indulge (reference above pizza picture).

Rainbow RowRainbow Row. This colorful strip of townhouses is so unique and definitely worth checking out! Plus, it’s right on the coast and within walking distance of Battery Park. We loved walking around this area — so many amazing homes to see! Like this one:

CharlestonBeautiful!

Tuesday morning we headed out early and hit up the South Carolina Aquarium. We loved checking out all the exhibits and even got to see a dive show. I have to say though, my favorite part was definitely seeing Justin attempt to hold his breath as long as a sea turtle. He didn’t quite make it 😉

20140324_102053After the aquarium, we headed to Magnolia Plantation. We toured the house, which was cool, but by far the best part for me was the gardens! Absolutely breathtaking! I loved walking all the paths and checking out the flowers and unusual plants — so much to see and it was all so beautiful!

Magnolia Plantation

Magnolia Plantation Magnolia Plantation Magnolia Plantation Magnolia PlantationIt started to rain after we had been walking around for about an hour so we headed back to our hotel and relaxed the rest of the evening.

Wednesday we had breakfast at the top of our hotel (the top floor was a hotel with a beautiful panoramic view of theHoliday Inn ViewAfter breakfast, we said goodbye to Charleston and headed back home. Seriously, this was the perfect long-weekend getaway! We had a fantastic time and will hopefully get to visit again someday!

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Wedding Wednesday: Ceremony Decorations

Hey Mike! What day is it!?

Hump Day

The students at my school absolutely love quoting this commercial. I have to admit that it does bring some much-needed energy to help push through the day! Whoot whoot! 😉

Wedding Wednesday

Continuing on my decoration trend, let’s talk ceremony decorations!

Since the ceremony was happening outdoors, I wanted to keep the decor to a minimum and let nature do most of the work. We had white chairs arranged on the lawn in a semi-circle with a middle aisle. At the entrance to the main aisle, there were sets of three tall tree stumps of varying heights.

wine bottles and stumps // simple wedding decorEach of the stumps had a glass bottle (these were all beer bottles spray painted in wedding colors) holding a single flower. We varied the flowers to give it a little more pizazz.

easy DIY wedding decor

I really liked the way this turned out! It gave just the right touch without going overboard or taking tons of time.

The only other ceremony decorations were at the front of the aisle. A dear family friend of mine (basically a grandfather for me) constructed a beautiful arch for us. I absolutely loved it!

simple white wedding arch

Side note: I also really enjoyed this moment of the ceremony. 😉

We had some slate tiles to stand on since there was a chance of rain (and it did rain) so we wouldn’t be standing in wet grass or mud. Under the arch I placed an antique table that belongs to my family. I covered it with a simple lace doily from my mom’s house and set three pitchers on top.

simple wedding table for footwashing

The pitcher in the middle was a gift from our pastor. It was handmade (though not by him) and came with a matching basin. Instead of a unity candle, we decided to have footwashing. This is an important tradition in our denomination and we really wanted this to be part of our ceremony. I’ll give more details in a future post!

simple wedding footwashing

The other pitchers belong to Justin’s mother. They each had water in them; instead of our mother’s lighting candles, we had them pour water from the pitchers into the main pitcher we used for footwashing.

white coffee filter pom hanging at wedding

The only other decorations we had were a few white coffee filter poms hanging in the trees. These were made by my sister-in-law and provided a nice little touch.

Other than that, we let nature do the talking. And I was okay with that. 🙂

backyard wedding ceremony

Happy hump day!

All wedding photos are copyright Rothwell Photography.

***

I love maxi dresses; they are so simple but still look like you put in some effort! Today’s look:

Striped blazer, black maxi dress

Blazer: Maurices (exact old) ~ Maxi Dress: Modcloth (no longer available; cute option here) ~ Earrings: Premier Designs (exact old) ~ Bangle set: Shop Ruche (exact here) ~ Ballet Flats: Fergalicious by Fergie (similar here)

 

Catching up!

Ever since I got back from vacation, blogging has taken a serious backseat. Now that it’s finally starting to actually feel like spring, I’m spending a lot more time in the evenings outdoors with my fur babies (yay!!) and other shenanigans with the hubby.  Here are a few pictures to give you a snippet of life over the last few weeks:

The Good:

Art ShowChecked out my beautiful sister’s senior art show! So proud of her amazing talent (which I have less than none of).

CavernsVisited a cavern with my parents and Justin. The pictures turned out pretty awful but it was beautiful in real life!

FestivalSpent the day at a local downtown festival with the love of my life. Music, food, and lots of glorious sunshine!

The bad (for my health):

Chocolate shoesToo much wine and food at the aforementioned festival = sickness. 😦 But it was worth it to snag one of these beauties: a chocolate shoe lollipop!!

OreosMy youngest sister visited and brought me these. Tastes like an Oreo with Dunkaroo frosting — best combination ever?? I think YES. Unfortunately, I polished this package off way too quickly and need to log some serious hours at the gym to make up for it!

The ugly:

Granola failAn entire box of my favorite granola ruined thanks to a not-as-closed-as-I-thought container. Complete and utter lunch-packing fail.

WindshieldThank goodness for insurance! My entire windshield cracked after a stray rock hit it on our trip to Charleston. Yikes!

The Threads:

A round-up of work outfits from the last few weeks. I finally got to break out some warmer-weather stuff! Yay!

03-27 Look 03-28 Look 03-31 Look 04-01 Look 04-04 Look 04-07 Look 04-08 Look 04-09 Look 04-11 Look

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And lastly, today’s outfit! I’m totally loving this new dress from Target! And thanks to the Cartwheel app, it was 15% off. Score!

04-13 Look 1 04-13 Look 2

Dress: Target (exact here) ~ Cardigan: Target (exact here) ~ Necklace: Maurices (similar here and here) ~ Bracelet: J. Crew Factory (exact here) ~ Shoes: Nine West (exact old, similar here)

Spring Break Adventures, Part One

I’m back!

Last week I took a blogging hiatus because Justin and I took off on VACATION! It was spring break for him so I took some time off work and we hit the road and headed south!

We spent the weekend visiting friends in the Carrboro/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. Leah, one of my best friends from childhood, and her husband Kraig moved there about a year ago and it was so great to get to visit them and explore the area!

We got into town on Friday night and it just so happened that UNC was playing in the NCAA tournament so Chapel Hill was a happenin’ place! Every restaurant and bar with a TV was packed so since none of us were super invested in the game we decided to just walk up and down Franklin Street (an absolute must-see if you go to Chapel Hill; this strip had so many amazing little shops, restaurants, and bars) and soak up the atmosphere. It was so much fun! There was so much energy and excitement after they won– it made me wish that we lived in a college town again. So fun!

We spent Saturday walking around and exploring Chapel Hill. We hit up several markets and grocery stores (yes, you read that right. I love grocery stores and the fact that Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods were close by was enough to put me in a grocery shopping mood!) and also walked around UNC.

UNC Campus

Justin and I both went to smaller colleges so we were blown away by how huge the campus was! All the buildings were so beautiful and we really enjoyed checking it all out! Justin especially enjoyed getting to sample the water in the drinking fountain under the trademark gazebo. 😉

UNC Chapel Hill UNC Chapel HIll

Sorry about the light streaks; all these pictures were taken on my phone and it doesn’t take good night pictures!

After a day full of walking, we were all super hungry. We decided to eat at the famous Top of the HIll restaurant. We had a pretty long wait to get out on the patio, but it was definitely worth it! The restaurant rooftop is perfectly placed on the corner of a major section of Franklin Street so it has a great view!

Top of the Hill Top of the Hill

The food was so delicious that I scarfed up all my food before I even thought to take a picture! We all four agreed that the food was top notch and the guys loved the house beers they chose. My favorite part was just looking out over Franklin Street and people watching (yep…I’m one of those creepers who love watching other people!)

We also hit up Yogurt Pump after dinner which was the best decision! Their frozen yogurt was the perfect way to top off a great day and I only wish we lived closer so I could further fuel my fro-yo addiction.

Before we knew it, Sunday morning rolled around and we packed our bags, said goodbye to Leah and Kraig, and hit the road to head even further south to Charleston, SC! More on that adventure tomorrow!

***

A few outfit catch-ups from the last few teaching days!

pink cardigan, checked shirt, skinnies, leopard flats, chunky pearls

Cardigan: Target (similar here)~ Checked Shirt: Target (similar here) ~ Navy Ankle Pants: Target (exact here)~ Leopard Flats: Target (exact here) ~ Necklace: Maurices (similar here and here) ~ Renegade Bracelet: Stella Dot (exact here)

blue striped shirt, white jeans, nude pumps, statement necklace

Shirt: Target ~ Jeans: Target (exact here)~ Pumps: Target (exact here) ~ Necklace: Purple Peridot (exact here) ~ Link Bracelet: J. Crew Factory (exact here) ~ Bracelets: Chloe Stack (exact here)

purple cardigan, floral shirt, skinnies, black boots

Cardigan: Old Navy (similar here) ~ Flower cami: Old Navy (exact old) ~ Courduroy skinnies: Old Navy (similar here) ~ Boots: Forever 21 (exact here) ~ Necklace: Lia Sophia (exact here) ~ Earrings: Lia Sophia (exact here)

MY FIRST 5K!!

I am a new woman since y’all last heard from me.

I have now completed my very first race!

This is a big deal for me for several reasons:

1) I absolutely hate running. I have never liked running in any way.

2) I have had three knee surgeries, and my knee problems often limit my ability to run.

3) Even when I have music to listen to, I often find running to be boring and can’t motivate myself to keep going very long.

4) Did I mention I just hate running?

Seriously, though. Running is difficult for me due to all my knee problems and short legs; I am definitely not built for running. I have never enjoyed it and often find it hard to stay motivated to run. I get bored easily and find it hard to mentally focus during a run.

The biggest thing that helped me get through this race was the fact that I did it with a friend.

First 5k Race!

I trained two days a week with my friends Bethany and Lindsay and that was the best thing for me in my training! We would all talk and run which helped keep my mind distracted from any pain or desire to quit running. In addition, I was motivated to keep up with them! I didn’t want to slow them down so I busted my butt to keep moving and not stop running. Even though Lindsay couldn’t make the race, it was great to be able to train with her and Bethany!

The morning of the race I was super nervous, but as soon as I got to the starting line, I got really excited! The energy right before a race is awesome; everyone was so encouraging and just ready to get started! Once the race started I quickly fell into a good running groove and felt great! I loved getting to race amongst so many people; it was so much fun! The worst part of the race was a massive hill around the 2.5 mile marker — I wanted to stop and walk so many times but I just kept pushing myself and I did it! I ran the entire time and was so proud of myself!

Best news? I finished 5th in my age group! Granted, the race itself wasn’t that big but I’m taking what I can get! Bethany finished in 4th and I was so proud of her!

I seriously had so much fun that I think I’ll keep running and try to enter another race! Who knows . . . maybe I’m finally getting the hang of this running thing. 😉

***

No school today so no outfit to share! I did wear a green t-shirt to keep myself from getting pinched though. 🙂 Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Momma B’s Lasagna

It’s finally Friday! (Am I the only one who sings that song regularly on Fridays? I sure hope not!)

I am feeling a bit sore today because yesterday after running a mile for warm-up, my friend Lindsay and I tried a new NikeFit workout called “Dynamic Kettlebell” — it was intense!

Dynamic KettlebellI absolutely love the NikeFit app! This workout was 30 minutes long and kept us engaged the whole time. It worked our legs, butts, abs, and arms in different ways and I am definitely feeling it today! I just hope the soreness doesn’t stick around so I’m ready to go for my 5k race tomorrow. It’s my first ever race and I’m a little nervous; I am in no way a runner but I do love a challenge and I’m excited to participate in this event!

After my workout I was super hungry so I came home and started cooking up a delicious and filling meal — my mom’s famous lasagna! This was an absolute favorite of mine (growing up I requested it for my birthday meal every year) and it is always a crowd pleaser. I thought I’d share it with you today so you too can appreciate my mom’s amazingness. 🙂

Momma B’s Lasagna

Momma B's Lasagna IngredientsIngredients for meat sauce:

-1 pound ground beef

-1 Tbsp parsley flakes

-1 Tbsp basil

-1 1/2 tsp salt

-2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce

-12 oz tomato paste (I use the kind with no salt added; if yours has salt, I recommend not adding the full amount of salt listed above)

Ingredients for cottage cheese layer:

-3 c. cottage cheese

-2 beaten eggs

-2 tsp salt (I usually do a little less)

– 1/2 tsp pepper

-2 Tbsp parsley flakes

Extra ingredients:

-9 lasagna noodles (I use brown rice pasta noodles)

-1 lb mozzerella cheese

-parsley to sprinkle on top

Directions:

1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet and add the rest of the ingredients once you drain the meat. Simmer the mixture until the sauce is thick (approx. 30 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Momma B's Lasagna Meat Sauce2. While the sauce is thickening, boil the lasagna noodles. As the noodles are boiling, pre-heat the oven to 375.

3. Mix together the ingredients listed above for the “cottage cheese layer.” (Not gonna lie, this mixture doesn’t look very appealing but just trust me, it will be worth it!)

Momma B's Lasagna Cottage Cheese Layer4. Rinse the lasagna noodles in a colander. By this time, the sauce should be close to finished.

5. Place 3 noodles on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Next, put half of the cottage cheese mixture on top. It’s okay if the mixture doesn’t actually cover all the noodles; the meat sauce will even it out. (I use a spatula to smooth each layer).

Momma B's Lasagna Layer 16. Add half of the meat sauce on top of the cottage cheese and cover with a layer of mozzerella.

Momma B's Lasagna Layer 2

Momma B's Lasagna Layer 37. Repeat steps 5-6.

8. Top the lasagna with the final three noodles and cover with mozzerella. Sprinkle a bit of parsley on top.

Momma B's Lasagna Top Layer9. Cover the dish with baking foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Momma B's Lasagna Finished10. Enjoy!!

Momma B's Lasagna Slice***

Loved styling my new Stella & Dot bracelet into my casual Friday look!

striped cardigan, long necklace, jeans, nude pumpsCardigan: Bought at consignment store (similar here) ~ Lace Shirt: Express (exact old, similar here) ~ Jeans: American Eagle (similar here) ~ Necklace: Express (old) ~ Renegade Bracelet: Stella Dot (exact here) ~ Arrow Bracelet: Ebay (no longer available)

Wedding Wednesday: Operation Honeymoon!

First and foremost, today marks the last day of my 3-day juice cleanse!!

In the first two days of the cleanse, I made a huge juice in the morning and split it between breakfast and lunch. Yesterday, however, I was craving some change so I made a smaller juice for breakfast and then a different juice for lunch.

My breakfast juice was DELICIOUS! I’m going to call this my Peaches & Cream Morning Juice 🙂

Peaches & Cream Breakfast Juice

Ingredients:

-1 large handful of kale

-2 peaches

-10-12 strawberries

-1 banana

-a sprinkling of chia seeds (I added these to the juice afterwards)

This was probably one of my favorite juices so far — I stuck it in the freezer for about 20 minutes before leaving the house and it froze just enough to taste like a delicious smoothie! YUM!

For lunch, I made a greener juice.

Green Lunch Juice

Ingredients:

-2 handfuls spinach

-1 handful kale

-1/2 cucumber (I am not a huge fan of the cucumber taste in juice and I didn’t want it to be overwhelming. If you love cucumber, you could use the whole thing)

-1 pear

-1 apple (wish I had green apples for a true “green” juice!)

This juice was pretty good as well, although not as delectable as the morning juice. By lunchtime, I was just craving real food! While I wasn’t hungry (an 8 oz. juice is actually very filling!) I missed the texture of different types of foods. It didn’t help that it was my co-worker’s birthday and I had to stare at this all day long:

Temptation!

Yeah. It was brutal! I had to watch everyone eat it while munching on carrot sticks at my desk.

Yet another carrot

Pathetic, I know.

After a quick workout at the gym, it was time to head home and freshen up for DINNER. A real live dinner!! We went over to our friends’ house where they had prepared a feast!

First meal!!

My friend Kristen was the one who initially suggested doing the cleanse and we were both salivating watching her husband prepare lemon alfredo chicken pasta and perfectly steamed broccoli! This meal was perfection and it was definitely worth the wait!

A few tips for anyone considering a juice fast:

-Listen to your body! I tried a 3 mile run the first day of the cleanse and that was a mistake — my body was still adjusting at that point and I wish I would have done a lighter workout.

-Incoroporate whole fruits and veggies. I never would have survived on just juice so I munched on bananas, strawberries, and carrots in between meals.

-Do it with a partner! Kristen and I both admitted we would have cheated many times had we not known there was someone there to keep us accountable. We were both really proud of ourselves for sticking with it and not cheating or giving up!

While I’m actually glad I had this experience, I think I’ll stick to juicing just once a day for the time being. 🙂

Wedding Wednesday: Operation Honeymoon!

About this time last year, my workout routine was getting more and more intense to prepare for the wedding! There are few things more motivating to get your butt to the gym than knowing you’re going to stand in front of 200+ people in a form-fitting dress and have pictures in it that last a lifetime! Also motivating is knowing you’ll frolic on the beach in a bikini the next week on your honeymoon. Needless to say, I was working hard! I found that having an actual plan for my workout helped me adequately rotate muscle groups and make sure I was getting a good mix of strength training and cardio. I even created a workout chart I called “Operation Honeymoon” to help motivate me! I wrote down everything I wanted to do each day (i.e. Monday: 60 minute kickboxing class; Tuesday: 2 mile run, 30 minutes arms strength training; Wednesday: 30 minutes on bike, 30 minutes legs strength training, etc). My plan was for 6 days a week and I tried to keep mixing up what I did so I never got into a workout rut. I was really thankful for all my hard work once my wedding day came! There is nothing quite like feeling fabulous and fit on your wedding day! 🙂

If you are getting married and want to get in shape (or just want to have a healthy workout plan), I highly recommend created an actual physical plan of what you want to do each day. It helps keep you accountable and also gives you and idea of what you need to work on each time you go to the gym!

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Today’s outfit was filled with bright colors because it’s finally sunny and warm! (Never mind that it’s supposed to snow tomorrow…)

coral shirt with turquoise jewelry

 V-neck shirt: Old Navy (similar here) ~ Lace cami: Express (similar here and here) ~ Khaki pants: Maurices (similar here) ~ Leopard Flats: Target (exact here) ~ Necklace: Premier Jewelry (exact old)