The blessings of a small town

I've said it a zillion times and I'll keep saying it --- the greatest part about living in a small town in the community!  Rob got scheduled last minute for a four day cross country flight to California this weekend.  I was totally bummed and hate being home by myself.  Plus I've been totally spoiled and he hasn't been away overnight, besides duty, since the detachment to Alpena.  I didn't have high hopes but the weekend actually turned out to be a great one!  Instead of hunkering down with Netflix and wine like usual, my days were filled with some much needed girl time.
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On Saturday, Kyleigh and I woke up early and made the 1.5 hour drive to the big city (Jackson).  We had empty coolers packed in the car (for our grocery haul!) and big shopping goals.  Thank goodness this girl likes to shop like I do because we spent almost 12 hours shopping in Jackson!  Target, Starbucks, the outlets, and of course, the main attraction: Whole Foods.  We had tacos and tableside guac at Babalu for lunch and kind of forget that we weren't back in Northern Virginia!
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On Sunday, some of the local girls who are in my 21 Day Fix challenge group came over to do some yoga and have brunch (21 Day Fix approved, of course!)  I made sweet potato and chorizo hash (so delish), cinnamon raisin ezekiel french toast (I had big expectations but this recipe needs a little tweaking), and fruit and greek yogurt parfaits.  It was such a fun morning and something we need to do more often!
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On Monday night, I got fro-yo with Nikki, Cara, and Rachel and then watched The Bachelor at Nikki's house.  Perfect girls night (and made me much less sad that Rob wasn't there for our usual Monday nights!)  Tuesday, the VT-7 officers spouses club had a social at Weidmann's.  Blair, Kyleigh and I went for a couple glasses of wine and ended up staying to play trivia.  I'm pretty sure Tuesday night trivia might have to be a new tradition!  This weekend was perfect proof that its the people, not the place, that make a duty station!

Walkin' With My Feet Ten Feet Off Of Beale

Rob and I made a deal that every year for our anniversary we would do a quick getaway to celebrate.  It doesn't have to be fancy or far away, but we decided that we always wanted to make it a priority to get away and spend some quality time together.  We are lucky because our anniversary (January 21st) always falls right next to the long MLK holiday weekend!  Our first year we stayed in a cabin at Stevenson Ridge in Virginia.  Last year, we stayed at the Beau Rivage and gambled at the casinos in Biloxi.  This year, we spent the long weekend in Memphis, Tennessee!
The Peabody Hotel Memphis, TN
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Rendezvous BBQ Memphis, TN
Rob had to fly on Friday so we drove up early Saturday morning.  Memphis is about a four hour drive from Meridian (but in bounds for Rob!!)  Neither of us had ever been but were so excited to check everything out.  My friend Blair is from Memphis and gave us an extensive list of suggestions for things to do which was so helpful!  We checked into our hotel, walked around the nearby area and along the Mississippi River, and then watched the parade of the ducks in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel.  Such a fun tradition!  We grabbed barbecue, of course, for dinner at the Rendezvous and then headed to check out the famous Beale Street.  We grabbed a drink at Silky's and then scalped tickets to the Grizzlies game.  I'm not a big basketball fan but the game was a lot of fun and FexEx Forum is a gorgeous stadium.
weekend getaway to Memphis, TN
scalp tickets memphis fedex forum
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We woke up on Sunday super excited for brunch!  Brunch is tied with Target as the number one thing that I miss while living in Meridian.  Automatic Slim's was directly across the street from our hotel and I was totally sucked in by their menu.  Rob and I split the chipotle chorizo omelette and the oreo waffle (!!!) and everything was delicious.  After brunch, we headed to Germantown to do some "big city" shopping.  You know, like Target and Starbucks ;)  This outdoor mall was a girl's dream, with Kate Spade, Lululemon, and Anthropologie.
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Sunday night we had dinner at SOB, South of Beale.  We both remembered watching the episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives that featured SOB so we had to try it.  With cinnamon spice popcorn, duck fried rice, srichacha onion rings, and the most amazing duck patty melt, this place did not disappoint!  It might have been my favorite meal I ate all weekend!
Tamp and Tap Memphis TN
We woke up early Monday morning, grabbed coffee and breakfast at Tamp and Tap, before heading to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  As a Tri Delta, visiting St. Jude has always been on my list of things to do.  Last year, a close friend and co-worker's son went to St. Jude so the trip was even more meaningful than I could have imagined.  We were hoping to get a tour (they do tours of the hospital M-F) but unfortunately they were not giving tours due to the holiday weekend.  This just means we will have to make another trip back soon!
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As for the "traditional" year three gifts (because I am ALWAYS looking for ideas on other blogs for these!), Rob got me leather gloves and a leather travel journal (and a cast iron skillet because I really wanted one haha!) and I got him this watch.

Three Years.

It's really unbelievable how fast three years goes by.  On one hand, it feels like my wedding was just a few months ago.  On the other, I can't even remember what my life was like before I got married.  It is such a weird balance.  At what point do we have to stop calling ourselves newlyweds?!?

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Happy 3rd Anniversary Rob!

Stop Feeding Them to the Dog and Make This Brussel Sprout Salad Recipe!

In 2014, I tried and fell in love with a ton of new foods.  Spaghetti Squash, salmon, butternut squash -- all new to me last year and all current favorites!  I made the decision that I would keep that trend going and keep expanding my food horizons in 2015.  Up first?  The most dreaded vegetable of my entire childhood.  The one that my mom wouldn't even dare make because she knew we would not try it.  BRUSSEL SPROUTS!
Healthy Brussel Sprout Salad Recipe | Reddy Or Knot
I have to admit I was a little nervous to try brussel sprouts again but after seeing Bobby Flay make a brussel sprout salad on Food Network, I decided to give it a try.  I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised!  The brussel sprouts are crunchy, similar to a broccoli salad, and the flavor matches well with fruit and bacon.  I made a homemade dressing and did not have to add much to this flavorful salad, just enough for a little kick!
Brussel Sprout Salad Recipe | Reddy Or Knot
Brussel Sprout Salad
Ingredients:
Salad
3 Cups of Brussel Sprouts, sliced thinly
1 Gala Apple, cubed
1/4 Cup Craisins
4 Slices of Bacon, crumbled
1/2 Onion, chopped small
Juice from 1/2 Lime
Dressing
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoons Honey
1 teaspoons Brown Mustard
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
Salt and Pepper

Directions:
Mix brussel sprouts, apple, craisins, bacon, and onion together.  Squeeze lime juice over top and toss.
Combine ACV, honey, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper.  Add olive oil slowly while whisking to incorporate.
Add dressing to salad and toss until well coated.
21 Day Fix Approved Salad Recipe
Linking up with WIAW

Friday Favorites

A couple of favorites from this week:

1. Bring On The Sunshine!
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I am currently headed to sunny and 75 Tampa, Florida for the weekend and I could not be more excited!  One part business trip, one part girls weekend--it is going to be amazing!  I'm sure it will be a photo overload so feel free to follow along here!

2. Make More, Buy Less
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In an effort to make more food at home this year, I bought this bread maker off of Amazon and cannot wait to use it!  Such a grandma thing to spend Christmas money on but Rob and I were counting down all week for it to arrive! Thank goodness for Amazon Prime and free two day shipping ;)

3. Will you accept this rose?
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So excited to have my Monday nights back!  My family has been avid Bachelor/Bachelorette fans since Season 1 and ever since we started doing a bracket with Sean Lowe's season, the obsession has just grown.  The first episode means in depth note taking and character analysis.  My sister has won two seasons and Rob has won two seasons.  I'm hoping this is my year to win!  (My final three are Britt, Ashley I, and Kelsey but please don't tell me any spoilers if you read them!)

4. Organizing Fever
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The start of the new year always brings the promise of "doing things different".  For me, that means a year of being clean and organized.  It may not last all year but I'm going to take advantage of the mood when it strikes.  Project #1 -- organizing the pantry.  Our fridge stays pretty organized because we buy/eat so much produce but the pantry is a different story.  So much junk, so much chaos!  Not as emptied out as I would like, but 100% better than before!

5. Create your own shine!
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Linking up with Five on Friday

An Honest Review of the Three Day Refresh

I'm going to be 100% honest and up-front with you....I didn't want to do the Three Day Refresh.  At all.  I have never really had any desire to do a juice cleanse/detox diet/reset because quite simply, I have always thought they were kind of a fraud.  I know how my body reacts to cutting out entire food groups completely: I lose weight and then the second I eat normal again, I gain it all back.  (I ate only Pria bars and sugar free jello for like a month in high school to fit into my prom dress and ended up throwing up at Prom after eating a real dinner with my date...but that's another story for another day!) So how did I get sucked into doing the 3-Day Refresh in December of all months?! Because Rob wanted me to and since he does every crazy program and idea with me, I owe it to him.  So against my better judgement, I said I would do it.  We ordered our 3 Day Refreshes and every day leading up to it, I dreaded it.  I watched videos, psyched myself out, and generally was just ready for it to be over (meanwhile Rob was so excited and couldn't wait!)
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The 3 Day Refresh is completely vegan and designed to clean up your nutrition, your digestion, and just generally get you back on track either after a little overindulging (think post holidays) or before a big event (think weddings, reunions, etc).  I won't lie, I am a huge carnivore so the fact that the Refresh is vegan was hugely intimidating to me!

We started on a Tuesday so we planned our meals and went grocery shopping on Monday.  I freaked out a little about the lack of eggs/meat but it was probably the easiest meal planning I've ever done.  The refresh comes with a booklet with fill-in-the-blank meal plan for each day and a list of recipes you can choose from.  To make things simple, Rob and I decided to just pick our favorite and do the same thing for three days.  Our total at the grocery store was $27.
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Tuesday:  I woke up and drank vegan Shakeology with 1/2 frozen banana for breakfast.  Nothing drastically different since I drink Shakeology every day (just normally not the vegan kind).  I did a 30 minute PiYo workout and felt like I had normal energy.  About an hour later, I had a big glass of iced tea and an hour after that I did my first fiber sweep.  The fiber sweep was the thing I was dreading most.  I'll be honest, I heard people gag and have to plug their nose to even get it down.  I have such a weak gag reflex I thought for sure I would struggle with this.  But I'm so confused!!!!  What are people talking about?!?! It wasn't bad AT ALL!!!  I mean it wasn't something that I would choose to drink all of the time and kind of had the consistency of sawdust in water but it wasn't disgusting or anything!  It had a very neutral, lemon-y flavor and went down in a couple of gulps with a straw. If you have ever drank apple cider vinegar (the bombshell spell, anyone!) this is NOTHING compared to that!  After the fiber sweep I packed, did laundry, and chugged water.  I heard some people get headaches from not drinking enough water so I tried to stay on top of my intake (Note: I never once had a headache).  I will say this (sorry if this is TMI)---I must have peed 50 times on Tuesday alone!  I definitely wouldn't have survived if I was at work and couldn't use the bathroom every five seconds.  For lunch, we had a tropical stirfry of red bell pepper, onion, and pineapple in coconut oil that was delicious!  We also had a vanilla protein shake that tasted like a super sweet treat.  I had another glass of hibiscus tea in the afternoon and still felt pretty normal.  I had a cucumber tomato salad with oil and vinegar as a snack in the afternoon with another big glass of water.  Hunger hit pretty hard at the 4pm mark but that is pretty common for me in general.  I tried to push my dinner back until 6:30-7ish so that I wouldn't get hungry at night.  For dinner, we had boiled kale with lemon juice and pine nuts.  We also had another vanilla shake.  I thought the kale was going to be terrible but it was surprisingly delicious.  Like so good that I think I will make it as a side dish on a normal night.  I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of food!  We went to bed at a normal time and I slept pretty well minus waking up to pee.

Wednesday:  I woke up and, of course, weighed myself immediately (and lifted my shirt to see if my abs came in yet ha ha)  Down 1.3 lbs!  (Rob was down 3 lbs!)  Rob had to go to work (a simulated flight not a real flight! Don't worry he would never attempt to fly not fully fed!) but said he felt pretty normal.  We stuck with our same meal plan as day 1.  Wednesday was by far the hardest day for me.  We ventured out to check out Christmas trees in town and I missed my afternoon snack time and this was probably the lowest point for me.  Rob wanted vegetable broth with dinner (it's optional on the plan) so we hit Winn Dixie on the way home.  I was out of water, hours from dinner, and feeling mentally weak.  Walking through the aisles of "real food" was torture!  We came home, ate the cucumber tomato salad, and just lounged around watching Kardashian re-runs and decided it was best not to over-do it.  The vegetable broth with dinner was delicious and Rob even called it a "three course meal" haha  My friend Blair was hosting Wine Wednesday so even though I knew how hard it was going to be, I felt like I had to go.  I filled up a wine glass of tea and somehow avoided eating macarons and bruschetta.  A serious test of my will power!!!  One thing that surprised me is how well I slept during the refresh.  It usually takes me a while to fall asleep and I wake up easy but I fell asleep fast and slept hard all three night!

Thursday: The final full day!  Rob and I were both down another pound each.  I felt more energy and my mood was definitely improved from Day 2.  Rob was off work so we binge watched Netflix and took it easy.  I feel like doing the Refresh during a time when you can relax makes it feel like a treat.  (although I can see the benefit in doing it when you are super busy and therefore not constantly thinking about food too)

Final results: In three days, I lost 3.7 lbs and Rob lost 5.8lbs.  More importantly than that, I realized that I can do hard things.  I ate a VEGAN diet for three days!  If you don't know, I spent my first 24 years of life avoiding anything and everything green and for three days, I ate kale for dinner....and loved it!  But in all seriousness, my body felt great.  My stomach felt smaller, my cravings were practically non-existent, and my skin felt clearer.   I felt....refreshed!  I can see myself craving the refresh when I have that icky, overindulged feeling.  I liked that I was able to eat real food, not just drink liquids and think that really helped me feel more satisfied.



So how does the Three Day Refresh compare to other cleanses/detoxes?  Well, this is the only one I have ever done so this is the only actual experience I can give you.  I can give you numbers though.

Cost: The Three Day Refresh cost me $52 + the cost of food (so I guess roughly $13).  For comparison, a three day Suja Juice cleanse costs ~$162, a three day Blueprint Juice cleanse costs ~$228, and my sister in law Erin did a five day local juice/soup cleanse in San Diego and it cost her ~$300

Calories:  One of the things I really like about the Three Day Refresh was that I could actually eat (and chew) real food, not just liquids.  With that said, the daily calories are all pretty comparable.  The Three Day Refresh is roughly 900-1,000 calories.  The Suja cleanse is ~1,060 calories and the Blueprint cleanse is between 860-1040 calories.


The REAL Final Results:  I don't think anyone doubts that a refresh/cleanse/detox will make you lose weight but my skepticism came in what happens AFTER the refresh is over.  I said from the beginning that this would be an open, honest review so here it is:

Rob and I did the 3 Day Refresh IMMEDIATELY before going home from Christmas.  We KNEW that we were going to eat whatever we wanted over that week and would certainly gain.  After 7 days of travel and holidays, I came home and had gained 4 lbs.  To me, that was pretty reasonable.  But here is the interesting thing:  In six days after we got home, we kind of got back into a routine but not really.  (ie. drank shakeology but ate pizza for dinner and worked out two or three of those six days) and I lost 3.7lbs.  So overall after two weeks of travel and binging over the holidays, I only gained 0.3 lbs from my Post-Refresh lowest weight EVER.  To me, that speaks volumes to this program!

Would I do it again?  DEFINITELY!  Especially before a big event or after an indulgent vacation!  Interested in trying it for yourself?  You can get it HERE (Click Shop --> 3 Day Refresh)

Pork Burgers with Asian Slaw

Craving asian but don't want to give up your night to that icky post-fried food coma?  This recipe is for you!  Flavorful pork burger + cool, crunchy slaw = all the flavor with none of the guilt.  You may want to make a double batch to save leftovers for the next day's lunch!
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Pork Burgers with Asian Slaw
Ingredients:
Burger Pattys:
1 lb Sage Pork Sausage (I used Jimmy Dean but feel free to use ground pork to keep it strictly Paleo)
2 Tablespoons Green Onions, chopped
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper
Slaw:
3 cups Coleslaw mix 
1 Green Apple, chopped into matchsticks
2 Tablespoons Green Onions, chopped
1/4 Cup Cashews, chopped
1 teaspoon Seasame Seeds
2 Tablespoons Coconut Aminos or Soy Sauce
Juice of 1 Lime
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1/4 teaspoon Ginger
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
Mix all slaw ingredients together and set aside in fridge.
Mix Sausage, green onions, garlic powder, salt and pepper and form into four pattys.  Grill (or pan fry) to well done.

Makes four servings
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Linking up here

Chocolate Covered Cherry Baked Oatmeal

Is your New Year's resolution to eat breakfast everyday?  Or to eat healthier?  Or to only eat things that taste delicious? Whatever your resolution is---you need to try this Chocolate Covered Cherry Baked Oatmeal recipe!  These baked oatmeal bites taste completely indulgent, but at only 95 calories a piece, they won't ruin your New Year's resolution!  Tart red cherries and greek yogurt give the perfect amount of tang to balance out the rich chocolate flavor, and the hearty oatmeal will keep you full until lunchtime.  I like to heat them up for a few seconds in the morning and eat them hot!
Chocolate Cherry Baked Oatmeal

Chocolate Covered Cherry Baked Oatmeal
Ingredients:
2 Cups Old Fashioned Oats
3 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder (Unsweetened)
1/3 Cup Coconut Palm Sugar (or Brown Sugar) 
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Container Black Cherry Greek Yogurt
1 Egg
1 Egg White
3/4 Cup Almond Milk (Unsweetened)
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2/3 Cup Sweet Cherries, chopped (Defrosted if frozen)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 and spray 12 muffin pan.
In a large bowl, mix oats, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl, wisk together yogurt, egg, milk, and vanilla.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.
Stir in cherries and spoon evenly into muffin tins.
Bake 18-20 minutes at 350.
Healthy Baked Oatmeal Bites

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