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a far flashback friday

April 15, 2011

Life (which right now can better be understood as “thesis”) has been consumed with school related to-do’s as the semester winds down.

Though, that’s probably the wrong phrase to use because it seems like it’s winding UP.

I didn’t want to disappear for too long from my blog and thought this might be a nice opportunity to showcase a couple of older posts!

Here are a couple of my favorites:

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First up is a series that I am determined to continue is “The Travel Diaries.” The two that I’ve posted so far are from my spring break last year when I was backpacking through Europe and was in Italy with my sister (read: one of the best times of my life).

Just taking a look back at them has made me want to add more as soon as I can! It also makes me really wish I had some gelato right now.

Sure, I hit up Ben & Jerry’s earlier this week for their free cone day but it’s just not the same…

That time I went to…Cinque Terre.

That time I went to…Milan.

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Next up I thought I would leave you with some food. Honestly, I know. How can I possibly give you some recipe posts when I just sent you down a memory trip to Italy and the best Italian ice cream and pizza of my life? I’ll make it up somehow.

Depending on what you’re in the mood for (let’s face it, you know you want some good old-fashioned pasta and meatballs, right?) you can pick from protein power house foods like peanut butter for dinner or get tropical with some quinoa.  

Hmm…Protein would probably be ideal for me right now with my thesis and all instead of gelato…

Or you can venture into a breakfast mode and make yourself the easiest pancakes ever. The ingredient list is so short it’s ideal for those mornings when you “just remembered” you were supposed to go grocery shopping on your way home last night.

At the end of the day (heck, during the day!) we all want some dessert. Don’t lie.

Bring on the Girl Scouts inspired cake-balls!

No fear if you’re short on time and can’t get together some cake balls just yet.  Go grab some cereal and marshmallows instead and get your snap, crackle, and pop on in the microwave for an easy, quick single serve rice krispie treat

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While you click away, I better finish getting over this bridge called senioritis, which, spell-check, is a real condition.

You know it’s bad when you break out the corny jokes.

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If you had to pick one country to travel to and visit for a week, where would you go first? I could go for a tropical location right now. I’ve never been to an island!

If you had to pick one type of food to eat for a whole year, what would you pick? Oooo, that’s a tough question for me. I would take it back but I’m interested in your thoughts!

lessons in life

April 11, 2011

It’s almost officially one month until I graduate and as I was looking at my calendar I was thinking back on my four years at college and all of the lessons I’ve learned.

Some were reinforced, some awakened, some brand new.

This one was strengthened.

I’ve had this picture saved on my desktop for years and every time I see it I smile and get a little boost of confidence and encouragement.

(*I don’t remember where I got it/ I don’t have the source link.)

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Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. —Joshua 1:19

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What’s a life lesson or motto that you try to stay true to?

Just because it’s Monday…name the most delicious food you ate this weekend! I usually don’t eat much meat but I was craving a cheeseburger. It rocked my world. And I think it may have pumped up my muscles. (Well, maybe not.)

what’s not to love

April 7, 2011

Besides the fact that I’ve been pretty busy with school work, I’ve really been taking some time to enjoy a couple of simple things in life right now.

And if I’ve learned anything at all, it’s to appreciate those moments of bliss, little delights, and savory unexpected loves.

Here’s a quick list of what I’m loving:

[Please make note that I abstained from including chocolate, nutella, and peanut butter from this list. Though, trust me. They are frequent visitors to my desk. Keep your friends close. Keep your enemies closer.]

1. The days are longer! While some may think this is ideal for getting more work done, (and those some people may be right) it’s also mentally uplifting. It’s tough when your body “thinks” the day is over just because it’s pitch black out at 5PM. With more daytime, there’s more sunlight.

More sun, more shine, more smiles.

Corny? Yes. True? Double yes.

2. Flowers are really starting to bloom. Even if we’re not quite there with daisies, they’ll be making their appearances soon enough. And while I’m not one for receiving flowers (save yourself the money and me the dishonest “thank you”), they’re uplifting and encouraging to see.

Hey, if they can make it with all this crazy weather, then I can make it through the end of senior year.

3. You might have noticed a trend by now that ties along with warmer weather and sunshine. Obviously this means ice-cream places are replacing their boarded up windows with cheery staff. Because you know they love putting rainbow sprinkles on your cone as much as you love eating it. And another thing! This photo was taken in California last summer. Yes, I had to travel to Cali to go to a self-serve fro-yo place.

The best news ever? There’s one opening up down the street from me.

The bad news? I might be gone by then.

Then again, this might be very good for my unemployed bank account.

Yes, making faces in photos makes the fro-yo taste even better (if you can even imagine that…)

4. Speaking of yogurt, I’ve been devouring this Chobani stash like no one’s business. Actually, that’s a lie. I’ve been limiting myself. I keep telling myself that the protein will only help me improve with work and assignments. But I want them to last forever, and while that’s not possible, I can at least make my stash last until the expiration date.

PS. I was never one for flavored yogurt besides the basic berry flavors.

Oh, Chobani, you have more than converted me. Thank you again, Emily, for the sweet hookup!

5. The other night I went to a Bible Study group for the first time. It was beautiful and honestly just what I needed, especially during Lent. The discussions were enlightening, the people were great, and the timing was perfect. I can’t even be sad that I didn’t know about it/them until it’s basically a countdown until graduation.

That’s when you know it was good.

That’s when you know God has His plan.

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What simple thing(s) are you enjoying right now?

Which do you prefer: hard ice-cream, soft-serve, or frozen yogurt? I’m all about the frozen yogurt. My go-to order is the chocolate and vanilla swirl in a cup (ALWAYS) with colored sprinkles. That changes when it comes to self-serve, though.  The Northeast really needs to get it going with the self-serve shops. We are missing out over here!

home alone time

April 4, 2011
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This past weekend was pretty quiet for me social-wise.

At first I was disappointed when I found out that my friends were each going home or had to work, but then I realized it was an opportunity for me to just enjoy the limited number of weekends I have left being a college student and local resident of Newport.

The sunny weather and the chance to get some work done (or not) more than made up for my friends being out of town.

On Sunday morning specifically I got up early (getting out of bed before 8am on a Sunday is definitely classified as “early” when you’re still in college) and went out for a walk to take in what signs of spring I could.

The weather was gorgeous with bright blue skies and not a cloud in sight. Seeing flowers start to bloom and grass beginning to take on their green hues made me smile and crave for the summer weather.

The time to myself was really the perfect opportunity to just enjoy “being” and to appreciate the sights and smells and energy of the town I’ve come to call home for the past four years. 

And sometimes, a little quiet time to yourself can help you realize that you’re your own best friend who will not judge you if you put your pajamas on at 5PM sharp.

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What do you do when you have no “socializing” plans?

Do you ever go a weekend without seeing friends or family?

goals of april

April 1, 2011
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First off, Happy April!

(Let’s skip the “showers” part and get right to it with the flowers. You don’t mind, do you?)

My tagline for A Side of Simple is “living life one mile, one bite, one prayer at a time.”

But I haven’t mentioned much about the prayer part. It’s a huge part of my life so I should share it here. 

In April I’ll be finishing up the season of Lent, as well as  preparing for, and then celebrating Easter. It’s far more than just a time to dress up in pretty skirts and blouses or an excuse to eat more chocolate. It’s a beautiful celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

As I continue to prepare for this celebration, I’ve been setting time aside each day to read Bible passages and reflect on them. I’ve come across a number of them that have really resonated with me lately and that I continue to go to and reflect on. Everyone has their favorite quotes and sayings, so here are a few of my favorite passages.  

  • “Each time [God] said, “My Grace is all you need.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

  • “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:9

 

  • “Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” — Proverbs 3:6

 

  • If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” — James 3:13
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I think that whatever our beliefs or practices are, though, that we can make some more room in our lives for meditation, reflection, and good deeds. This includes doing things for and being there for not only other people, but yourself.

So here’s to a great month and a goal to focus on good health for yourself and others, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

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Goals for April

  • Pray
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Do you have any goals for April?

Did you make goals for March? How did they go?

What’s your favorite quote or what’s one that you go to for inspiration and comfort?

dark chocolate melts my heart

March 28, 2011

I’m a full supporter of the whole “chocolate is healthy for you” school of thought.

Evidence 1.

Evidence 2.

There’s more where that came from but I don’t think this is really a matter that needs much evidence.

Recently, though, I came across this article from Healthline. It talks about the controversial downsides to chocolate consumption (obesity) versus the benefits of the delicious dark dessert.

I think it’s foolish to detract from a food’s (particularly chocolate’s, or better yet, cocoa’s) health benefits because of the possibility of people overeating it. It’s common sense that if you’re going to overeat or to overdo anything it can be harmful to the body and your health. Just because cocoa has some heart benefits like lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol and increasing levels of good cholesterol doesn’t mean you should clean out the rack of Nestle’s Chocolate Easter Bunnies in your grocery store.

The article reads, “New research suggests that the cocoa ingredient may lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels while preventing diabetes and improving the health of blood vessels” (Dotinga). But the article continues to warn that these benefits to your health won’t outweigh (no pun intended) the effects of weight gain and potential fat if you consume too much chocolate.

Researcher Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, says, “In other words, not all chocolate or cocoa is created equal.” This statement truly is an obvious one for anyone who understands how different foods affect the body differently. You always have to consider other ingredients, additives, and even the manner in which the food was processed. It’s usually a good rule of thumb to select the most unprocessed variety and to just eat real food.

The best option is to reach for dark chocolate with low sugar and the highest percentage of dark cocoa you can find. Trader Joe’s Swiss 72% cacao dark chocolate is a much better choice than a heavily loaded bar with fat, sugar, and other additives candy bars like a Mound’s or even Hershey’s milk chocolate. If you have to have your Hershey’s, though, fear not. Just opt for a milk bar with almonds in it. You’ll get the healthy fats of the almonds, you’ll feel more full and get your chocolate fix, and you’ll be consuming less sugar and less saturated fat than if you just had a Hershey’s milk plain.

I thought this article was really interesting because it touches on the health benefits of chocolate but also deters us away from them because of our society’s mental thought process when it comes to food. We tend to overdo it when we hear something is good. Obviously, a diet high in chocolate isn’t going to do anyone any favors, least of all your heart.

But moderation does the body good. So grab a piece of dark chocolate if you’ve got a sweet tooth.

Just don’t eat the entire jar of Nutella in one sitting…

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What do you think about the health benefits of foods like chocolate? I think they’re great. I also think it’s common sense to just eat them in moderation, though. Obviously chocolate can’t count as a meal or replace vegetables, fruits, and whole grains! 

How do you get your chocolate fix? I like to have a little bit of chocolate each night after I have dinner. A nice mug of hot chocolate is always good to sip on, too, especially when you’re working away at assignments. I try to vary between that and wine when doing homework. Kidding…sort of.

easy quick oat pancakes

March 26, 2011

When it’s Saturday morning and you just want your mom (for no particular reason other than the fact that she’s your mom), it’s time to whip out Aunt Jemima.

Oh yes I did just go there.

If you’re going to have syrup, make it butter rich.

And come Saturday it’s officially the weekend, though I may start celebrating on Fridays every now and again.

Syrup and pancakes are necessary.

Wait. Come back.

Don’t let the texture or look scare you away. These are just as good as those white fluffy pancakes you’re comparing them to in your head. In fact, they’re probably even better.

I promise these taste delicious. Just make sure you add some extra chocolate chips for good measure (or lack OF measuring skills).

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 Easy Quick Oat Pancakes

(serves 1)

Main Attraction

-1/4 cup of quick oats

-1/4 cup of flour (I used GF white rice flour but you could easily use another 1/4 cup of quick oats or any other flour)

-1/2 cup of milk of choice (soy, cow’s, almond, rice, etc.)

-1 teaspoon of baking powder

-1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

-dash of cinnamon

-some (more) chocolate chips

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together. Let sit for at least five minutes. Grease/butter pan and add batter to medium-hot skillet. Flip when bubbles appear on top.
*These stuck to the pan for me at first so I just greased it more between pancakes.  

Toppings of choice should include chocolate, syrup, peanut butter, butter, or anything else that reminds you of home.

Enjoy. It is Saturday.

No excuses. Play like a champion.

Make these now.

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Do you change-up your breakfast routine on the weekends? Usually I don’t. I really stick to my favorites, but this morning I wanted something different and only pancakes would do it!

What are your favorite pancake toppings? If I’m going to have pancakes, I want at least some syrup. I’ll also add yogurt, peanut butter, jelly, or anything else I’m in the mood for. It depends what I’m craving!