Kicking off 2013 Determined to Accomplish my Resolutions!

~Chrissy’s setting some goals and making the most of 2013~

resolutionIn the many, many years I’ve been making New Years Resolutions, I can only successfully say I managed to follow through with one of them for an entire year.  I only made one resultion that year.  My goal was to find and prepare a new dish at least once a week for an entire year.  In order to help motivate my way through this goal I began a food blog.  The blog idea was what really helped me accomplish my goal for that year.  The act of writing out each post and then hitting the publish button, gave me such a sense of triumph that I was actually really excited to make my self-made weekly deadlines!   After the year was up and I reached my goal, I kind of sort of ditched my food blog and made other resolutions that I didn’t end up keeping.   If you’re interested in checking out my adventure in cooking in 2010, you can find it at http://recipehunting101.blogspot.com

Needless to say even though my success rate isn’t very good,  I’m bound and determined to carry out my resolutions this year.  I’m even going to take from a lesson learned from my success in 2010 and post about my 2013 resolution adventures.   I’ve decided to divide my resolutions for the year out into three key areas of focus: Mind, Body & Environment.  In each area of focus, I’ve set some intial goals but I want to leave them broad, open-ended and fluid, so as the year goes by I’ll continue to set more and more goals in each area.

1. Mind:

  • Do something I normally would avoid doing.  This is something I’m going to leave wide open for whenever the moment strikes.
  • Write daily.  Be it in a journal, a blog post, or that novel I’ve been wanting to write.  Once a day, I am going to sit down for at least 10 minutes, to exercise my mind and write about something important to me.
  • Learn something new.  I’ve been wanting to learn how to crochet forever, so I plan on making the time to sit down with my Mom and have her teach me.

2. Body (aka.Health & Wellness):

  • Improve my overall health.   It’s extrememly broad, I know, but I’m breaking this down into two areas of focus: food & exercise.
    • Food.  I’ve already began my process for improving my health through food.  I’m doing a 3-day juice cleanse, which works to allow your body to cleanse, detoxify and heal itself naturally from within.  I promise to write a post about this whole experience of drinking only juice/water/tea for 3 whole days!  I’m also planning to eat primarily organic foods and will resurrect my recipe posts here on Once Upon a Friendship by sharing healthy meatless monday recipes at lease twice a month!
    • Exercise.  Unfortunately, I have a very strong aversion to exercise but I understand the enormous benefits it has for our bodies,  so I am resolved to up my exercise game plan.  In one of my Pop Sugar Must Have Boxes (which if your interested in learning more about, I blogged about my love of these monthly subscription boxes here) I received “Mandy Ingber’s Yogalosophy” DVD.  I have had it sitting unopened next to my TV for a couple of months now.  Apparently Jennifer Aniston loves this yoga workout.  That’s gotta mean I will too, right?  🙂

3.  Enviornment 

  • Start a Garden.  This ties in perfectly with my goal to eat healthy and organic foods.  What could be better then to grow my own food?  I’ll be honest and tell you I’m a tad scared about this resolution.  In fact, it worries me the most out of all my other resolutions for the year.  I have a hard enough time keeping houseplants alive, how am I going to manage to grow a garden?  This could be very, very interesting but I’m up for the challenge!

Gosh, until I wrote them all out, I didn’t realize just how much I’ve decided to take on for the year!  Wish me luck (I’m going to need it!)

~Chrissy

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My latest Obsession: The PopSugar “Must Have” Subscription Box

~Bought and Paid for by Chrissy~

I have a confession to make, I am obsessed with the PopSugar Subscription Boxes.   Every month, I get as excited as a kid in a candy store on Christmas whenever  that white box with the pink PopSugar logo on it shows up on my doorstep!  Before I go on, I should probably explain a little about what subscription boxes are.  The premise is simple, you agree to pay a set price every month for a box full of different items.  You’ll find companies that gear their boxes towards the beauty buff, or pet lovers, or parents, or the eco-conscience, etc….   I’ve tried a few different companies over the last year and without a doubt, PopSugar is, hands down, the BEST one out there for the woman wishing to spoil herself with fun and exciting things.

Every month, for $35, you get a new box, filled to the brim with top of the line, super amazing products.  The variety of items sent each month is what really sets this company apart.   You’ll find food, beauty items, home goods, fitness products, books, and fashion items all stuffed inside each and every box.  The fun part is opening your box and seeing what your $35 has gotten you this month (They state each box is actually worth $100 or more, and I have found this to be true).   I haven’t been disappointed in anything I’ve gotten yet.   If the cost is deterring you remember you can cancel anytime and with Christmas coming they also would make a really fabulous gift for someone special on your list!

This is what I got inside my October Must Have Box (I’ve estimated the actual cost of each item here too):

Dylan’s Candy Bar Gummy Bears (5 oz) – $3.00                                                                                                                            
*These look absolutely amazing.  It’s been ages since I’ve torn into a gummy bear.  They are going with me to work today!
 
Pirate’s Booty Aged White Cheddar snack bag (1 oz) –  $1.00
*Always a treat to eat.  I am a big fan of Pirate’s Booty already.
 
Unilever Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy shampoo and conditioner (13 fl.oz. each) – $5 each
*Some people feel shampoo’s have to cost a bunch in order for them to be any good.  I don’t believe that, and will gladly give this shampoo and conditioner the old college try!   
 
Red Flower Japanese Peony Candle with Rose Petals (6 oz with 50 hours of burn time) – $38.00
*I was shocked when I found out how much this candle costs.  Yowzers!  It isn’t something I would buy for myself in a million years but it is a definite treat as it smells amazing. 
 
J.K. Rowling‘s “The Casual Vacancy” Hardbound book- $35.00
*This was on my must read list, so it was a pleasant surprise to see it in my box.  I buy most of my books with my Kindle.  It feels good to have an actual book in my hands again though!
 
Crescent Moon ExerSocks for Yoga & Pilates – $8.00
*I’d like to say these will be great for all the yoga I do, however I have a feeling these will be worn while I am lounging around my home.  They nice traction on the bottoms so I won’t have to worry about slip sliding around on my wood floors!
 
O.P.I. Pink of Hearts Nail Polish Duo – $13.00
*I have always been a fan of OPI nail polish.  The colors included are: “You Glitter Be Good to Me” and “I Think in Pink”.  ~Pink is my signature color~ (Name that movie!)  I’ll have pink, sparkling toes in the next few days! 

Added all together I estimate this box to be worth $108.00!  If you’re interested in learning more about the “Must Have’ box, or subscribing, click here: http://popsu.gr/fsc.  I can always use the referrals as in no way, shape or form did I get paid or get my box for free to write this post (If you get referrals you get discounted boxes, yippee!).  I am just a proud consumer of an amazing product which I wanted to share with you!

~Chrissy

Mango Green Smoothie Recipe

~a recipe straight out of Chrissy’s blender~

For about the last two weeks or so, I have been obsessed with making healthy smoothies.  Normally when I am in the kitchen, I follow recipes I find on-line or in cookbooks pretty much to the letter.  Rarely, do I attempt to go off the cuff, making my own creations.  This is mainly because, I want my food to taste good.  I worry if I start adding things willy nilly, I’ll screw the dish up royally!  No one wants their dishes to taste bad!

I’ve found smoothies are fairly hard to screw up though.  All you do is toss various fruits, liquids, veggies, etc into a blender and, “Ta Da”, you’ve got a yummy smoothie.   Without a doubt my favorite creation has been my Mango Green Smoothie.  The finished smoothie may look like something a Witch would brew, but trust me, looks are deceiving.  This is super easy to make, and is one amazingly, yummy drink!  You can’t even taste the spinach which gives this smoothie its green color.  I think this would be one great way parents could get their little ones to eat their spinach!

Mango Green Smoothie  (serving size 1-2)

Ingredients:
1/2 fresh Mango
1/2 frozen Banana
5-6 frozen Strawberries
2 heaping handfuls of Spinach Greens (the more the better)
1 tbsp Chia Seeds
1 cup Orange Juice
Directions:  Blend in a blender until smooth.
 
Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
~Chrissy
 
 

A Girl Trip Bucket List

Alicia & Chrissy, KC Girl Trip 2012Alicia and I recently went on a Girl Trip to Kansas City, MO for a weekend.  We shopped, ate amazing food and pretty much chill-axed the whole time.  It was the first trip we’ve been on together since the late nineties.  (Geesh, time flies by way too quickly!)  Now that we live within a days drive of each other I imagine we will be able to go on more of these weekend getaway’s in the future.  KC is a great city filled with all sorts of fabulous things to do and see, and it’s also just so happens to be a great halfway point for us to meet up at.  While KC will more then likely be the location of most of our Girl Trips to come, we have developed our own special kind of bucket list with the Girl Trips we dream about taking one day.  These are the places we would love to see together because in some way, shape or form, they symbolize our friendship and growing up together.

Trip 1 – A Literary Excursion to Prince Edward Island.  Why Prince Edward Island?  Well it just so happens to be the home of a beloved literary character, Anne Shirley, from the series of books, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  Alicia wrote about her love of all things Anne a few months ago which you can read here.  When we were young girls we both devoured these books and watched the tv series over and over again, so this would be such an amazing trip to experience together.  Alicia is the one who stumbled on the Anne Vacation Itinerary on the Prince Edward Island tourism website.  There is so much you can see and do that are all related to Anne of Green Gables.  You can visit many of the settings from the books, like Green Gables, Avonlea Village, the Haunted Wood and the Lake of Shining Waters.  Doesn’t that sound simply wonderful?

Trip 2 – A Culinary Excursion to Hingham, MA.  So, what about Hingham, located near Boston, MA would make us want to fly all the way there to grab some grub?  A restaurant called, Wahlburgers.  Wahlburgers is owned by Mark and Donnie Wahlburg.  Do those names ring a bell?  I urge you to read a former blog post I did here, about a concert Alicia and I went to when we were teenagers, Marky-Mark and the Funky Bunch.  While we both really liked Mark Wahlberg, we were truly fanatical about a group called New Kids on the Block.  For quite some time in our teen years, we both ate, slept and breathed NKOTB.  Our favorite NKOTB member was Joey McIntyre but Donnie Wahlberg came in a close second!  Of course, if we ever do manage to take this trip we would find a few other things to do and see while in the Boston area, but eating at Wahlburgers is our #1 priority!

Trip 3 – A Theatrical Excursion to NYC.  Another shared love that stems from our childhood is a movie called Newsies.  It is a musical based on a group of newspaper boys who strike against the big newspaper companies of the day in New York City during 1899.  I will admit to the fact that a movie full of really cute boys may have had some influence on just how much we loved this movie, but it is also a really great story with loads of fun, catchy, toe-tapping tunes!  To this day we both still enjoy watching Newsies, and whenever one or the other of us catches it playing on tv we’ll send out a text, “Newsies is on!”  It wasn’t too long ago when I happened to stumble on a short video for the Broadway Musical, Newsies.  I quickly posted it to Alicia’s Facebook wall and another dream Girl Trip was added to our list! (I am really hoping Newsies will eventually go on tour and come to a city a bit closer to us, like KC, because that would make this trip that much more easier to cross off our bucket list!)

We have three Girl Trips on our bucket list so far.  Hopefully, one of these days when time and money prevail, we’ll manage to actually take one of them! We would love to hear all about the great Girl Trips you dream about taking with your BFF’s, too.

~Chrissy

A Few of Our Favorite Things – Week of April 1st

Our lives are often times very hectic and chaotic. We don’t always stop and appreciate the small things happening all around us. In this day and age, it is important to make a conscious effort to recognize the small things or moments that fill us with joy and wonder or make us insanely happy.  Below are a few of our favorite things or special moments we’ve experienced from this past week.  We’d love to hear about yours as well!

Alicia & Chrissy’s Favorite Thing- 

*Fun New Apps.  This week we both have a favorite new app that we have both downloaded and fell madly in love with, Instagram.  We know that Instagram has been around for quite some time for all you iPhone users out there, and quite frankly we were both a tad bit jealous of all the lovely photo’s our friends would post on Facebook and Twitter.  I mean how can you make every little humdrum photo look absolutely amazing?  Did it really work that way?  Well this week we found out it does!!!!  What we didn’t know until this week was Instagram is more then just taking photo’s, it is a whole other world of social networking.  Alicia summed it up well in a text I got from her late last night that said, “So, Instagram appears to be a cross between FB, Twitter & Pinterest.  Would you agree?” So, now we have one more place for our friends to comment and like various things from our lives.  Isn’t it wonderful! :^)

Chrissy’s Favorite Things-

*Dinner with my Mom.  April means my Dad starts his yearly golf league and my Mom and I begin our traditional Thursday night out.  We’ve been doing this for years and years.  It started back when I was still living with my Parents, as a teenager, and we’ve continued it to this day.  Every Thursday night we pick a different place to have dinner, chat about the week gone by and often times do a bit of shopping afterwards! I always treasure time with my Mom!  She is an amazing woman and I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful role model in my life.  Love you Mom!!!!

*Yummy Snacks.  Kind Bars are my new favorite snack.  The two bars I enjoy the most are the Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants and the Cranberry Almond + Antioxidants!

Alicia’s Favorite Things –

1.  Sunblock – Why would sunblock be on my list of favorite things this week you may ask?  Well, this past week I worked at the kids’ school as a Substitute Play Ground Monitor for two days.  That in and of itself is an experience, let me tell you.  Add into the scenario unusually warm temperatures and you have one hot Momma!  (And folks, I’m not talking “hot” as in good looking.  I mean hot, sweaty and soggy Momma.  Ha ha!)  The first day out it was almost 90 degrees…in April.  (And here I thought moving away from California would get me out of those early season hot days.)  I unfortunately did not think about bringing sunblock.  I’ve never worked a job where sunblock was a necessary tool for my day.  So needless to say, my fair Irish skin got a little crispy.  To add insult to injury, I left with a Farmer’s burn (you know, that ever so sexy line where your shirt was) AND I was only burned on the left side of my body and face.  So, I learned my lesson.  When I came back to work a few days later, I brought my sunblock AND I stood on the opposite side of the play ground to even myself out.  So I am grateful to whomever invented sunblock.  All the fair skinned people of the world thank you!

2.  Spring Flowers –  I love Spring and all that comes with it.  I love planting new flowers, weeding, digging in the dirt, and giving love to all that grows in my yard.  Well, except the weeds!  This year is an exciting Spring for me as we are in a new house and I always love seeing what sorts of plants will make an appearance.  The woman who lived in the house before me was amazing at planning out her gardens and just made the whole yard beautiful.  She had quite the green thumb.  Thankfully, I have a pretty green thumb as well, so the yard is still flourishing and I am having fun adding a bit of my own style to the garden she left in my hands.  I’ve discovered Peony plants, Hydrangeas, Shasta Daisies, Black Eyed Susan’s, Pinks, Geraniums, and so many more.  My back porch has a high roof and there are hooks that I just had to utilize.  I’ve always wanted hanging flower baskets so I have installed them and am in LOVE with the sweetness they add to the back yard atmosphere.  There is something special about having the flowers hanging about adding scent and color to the yard.  Here is a picture of one of my baskets I took using Instagram:

Well there you have it!  Our weekly highlights of favorite things!  What were your favorites this week?

A Few of Our Favorite Things This Week

Our lives are often times very hectic and chaotic.  We don’t always stop and appreciate the small things happening all around us.  In this day and age, it is important to make a conscious effort to recognize the small things or moments that fill us with joy and wonder or make us insanely happy.  Our plan is to start sharing our fun finds or special moments with you once a week from here on out.  We’d love to hear about yours as well!

Chrissy’s Favorite Things:

1. My Friends.  I received an email from one of our best girlfriends wanting to plan a Girl’s Night In soon. I love getting together with girlfriends. It is the absolute best, most relaxing and therapeutic feeling ever! (The only bummer is Alicia and our other out of town friends don’t live close enough to come as well.)

2. My Mail Delivery.  Yesterday, when I opened my mailbox I was delighted to find the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer had arrived. My friend, Shannon, calls this newsletter Food Porn and I couldn’t agree more. 😉  I can’t read it without getting totally hungry!

3.  A New Dessert.  I decided to try a recipe for Black Bean Brownies which I found on Pinterest. (If you are interested in the recipe you can check it out here.)  I was initially thrown off because they didn’t have a lick of flour in them and, of course, beans in brownies doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Be that as it may I was intrigued enough to give it a try. Boy, was I delighted and shockingly surprised when they turned out to be really quite good.

4.  A New Movie.  I happend to see a new 5 minute trailer for the movie Snow White and the Huntsman.  I can’t tell you how excited I am to see this movie.  I’ve always enjoyed the Snow White story and love that this movie tells it in such a dark, dramatic way.  Charlize Theron plays the Evil Queen and although I never would have pictured Kristen Stewart as Snow White, she seems to pull it off well. 

Alicia’s Favorite Things:

Well I am on vacation this week!  We have visited New Orleans, Louisiana & Destin, Florida!  It has been a much needed family vacation and we are having a blast! The only bummer is that it has to end.  Be that as it may, I still have several favorite things that I used this week while on my vacation!

1.  My family.  I have to put them first this week since I am on vacation with them!  We don’t get long, quiet breaks (just the 4 of us) all that often.  So having this family time is just unbelievable!  I love my husband and children so much and I’m enjoying this time to reconnect and relax with them.  🙂

2.  My Kindle.  My brother gave me my Kindle a few years ago as a Christmas present and it is probably one of the best presents he has ever given me!  My Kindle is totally rock awesome.  I love that when I finish a book, I can “shop” on my Kindle while driving through the back highways of Louisiana and get a new book, instantly!  Scott and I also love playing the New York Times Crossword Puzzle on it.  It was interesting to figure out how to play this game while he drove the van, but we managed.   It helps pass those long hours of driving to your vacation spot!

3.  My Kindle Book for the trip:  “Nearly Departed in Deadwood” by Ann Charles.  This book has me hooked, line & sinker!  It reminds me of the Stephanie Plum series that I read a while back and I just love the mystery, comedy & a little bit of romance all mixed together!  I also have to admit that Chrissy has turned me into a “series” junky and I love that this is the 1st book in the series, so I know I’ll have more to read.  I hate saying goodbye to those characters that you grow to love in books, so a series is great!  I highly recommend it!

4.  My go-to jewelery piece for this vacation has been my Metal Works necklace that I bought last summer from Premier Designs.  I love, love, love this piece as it can be casual with a T-Shirt or go with a nice blouse and work for a great dinner out.  It is 38″ long, but I tend to double it up quite a bit and wear it layered, which looks fabulous.  Or go longer and it is super fancy! 🙂  (The catalog insert here shows the necklace as item F)

5.  Another favorite item of mine this week is my beach bag filled with all of the necessities for lounging on the white sands in Florida.  I have all of the beach towels for the family, sunblock, my Kindle, our camera, a bag for sea shell collecting and of course some water!  A good, big beach bag is a must have when on a vacation like this!

So there you have it!  A few of our favorite things!  We hope you liked them and maybe even discovered something new in the process!  Have a fabulous day!

~Chrissy & Alicia

I’ve Died and Gone to Heaven over Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Almonds

Trader Joe’s came into my city over two years ago and my husband and I immediately fell in love.  It is our absolute favorite place to stop for groceries.  We would probably visit daily if it weren’t for the fact that it is clear across town.  Darn you Trader Joe’s.  You couldn’t have had the foresight to know your most loyal and hopelessly devoted customers lived a good 20 minutes out of the way!

Woops, oh dear! I’m sorry.  I’ve done it now. I’m going to have to pause for a quick song break. There is just no getting over it once a song pops in my head. If you are not an avid Grease fan and did not have this happen to you after reading the last sentence in my first paragraph, you can skip over this part and continue reading on below. If you are an avid Grease fan, then you’re welcome!

Ok, I’m good now.  Where were we….

More often then not, my husband is the one who tends to get out to that neck in the woods, so he’ll stop in and pick up some things.  Last week he bought home a new find, Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Almonds.  They are coated in dark chocolate mixed with sea salt and turbinado sugar.  I’m not sure exactly what turbinado sugar is but I really don’t care because, wow, these amazing.  The mingling of these salty and sweet flavors leaves my taste buds singing, “MY, OH MY!”  Eating just one is impossible.  I am officially addicted.  If fact, I even snuck a bunch of them in my purse with me to the movie theater last weekend.  We went and saw Channing Tatum, err…I mean, The Vow!  Why would this be a confirmation of the addictive propertes of these almonds you might wonder?  Well, since I was a teeny tiny girl I have almost religiously followed a certain movie theater tradition, eating a box of Junior Mints.  So, I broke down and ditched my beloved movie theater tradition for the sake of these out of this world almonds.  I can’t get enough and I fully expect an intervention in the coming months.

~Chrissy