Everyday Inspirations


~ our world ~

Happy birthday
Today I wish a very happy 26th birthday to one of my very best friends. Like the best of friends do, together we have cried tears of laughter, anger and sadness. She is laugh out loud fun, amazingly smart, totally gorgeous and inspires me (and perhaps you) nearly everyday. You might know her -- her name is Ashley and she is my blog partner and co-founder of Everyday Inspirations. In her honor, today celebrate someone in your life. Who inspires you? 


~ food ~


A couple weeks ago I shared my recipe for Italian scrambled eggs, but I didn't tell you the best part. That meal was part of a "two-fer"--two meals made from the same ingredients. I hate to throw out beautiful, perfectly good produce, which can be tough to avoid when you have to buy it in quantities that feed more than one or two people. Luckily, you can use your leftover ingredients to make another great meal.

{grilled italian goat cheese sandwiches}

- Ciabatta rolls
- Tomato slices
- Fresh basil
- Goat cheese crumbles
- Bacon strips (optional)
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut your ciabatta rolls in half. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (two ingredients that, in my opinion, run circles around other boring sandwich condiments). Add a few leaves of basil, tomato slices (lightly seasoned with salt and pepper), and goat cheese crumbles. Throw in some bacon if you need a lil' meat in your sandwich.

Heat up a grill pan or panini press (Angie recommends one here) and grill your sandwich until the cheese melts. If you don't have a press, which I did not when I made this recipe, just place your sandwich in a grill pan, put a plate on it, and put something heavy on top of the plate. Voila! Instant press... and a delicious, simple sandwich!
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~ a better you ~

tips for eating healthy
I was talking to my friend today about his frustrations with eating healthy. One of his main complaints -- making healthy food takes too long. Here in the U.S. we are all about instant gratification and fast is never fast enough. I love to cook, but frankly, sometimes you just want something that doesn't take a lot of work or time. This is why fast food, Hot Pockets, frozen burritos or other fast and fatty food are so popular. So I thought I would share two of my favorite appliances that help me eat fast and healthy. I'm not being compensated to share these, I just love them.

First, the Breville Panini Grill. No, this isn't just for your sandwiches (though you can also make a damn good grilled cheese in about 1 minute). In the spring, summer and fall Nate and I love to grill. It's fast, healthy and delicious. But when it's the dead of winter or I'm home alone (I'll admit, the grill intimidates me) the Breville is my best friend. Just heat it up, salt and pepper the meat, and throw it on there. Six minutes later I have some super juicy grilled chicken and without any added oil. 

Next, the Magic Bullet. Now I'll admit, I wasn't convinced on this by just looking at it. I had a blender already and didn't really understand why I'd want one with individual cups rather than a large container. I'll tell you why -- it's SO CONVENIENT! The set up is fast with a small, light base, it's purees like a dream, and the clean up super easy since you're drinking from the same (dishwasher safe) container you make it in. Not too long ago my blender broke so when Christmas came around my mom came to the rescue with one of these babies. I haven't even had it for a month and I can't tell you how much I've already used it (much more than my previous blender). I always have some bags of frozen fruit on hand, so I just toss some in with the fresh fruit I have in the house and it's creamy deliciousness.  
Using these two lovely appliances, I made this dinner in literally ten minutes, which included time to take the dog out, make another side dish and take photos. Clean up took another five. And when I was done, the meal was scrumptious. These are both dinner for one, but they are easy to multiply for the whole family. I told you eating healthy can be easy!

Grilled Chicken with Tomato and Feta

Chicken breast
1 Roma tomato, sliced
fresh basil
feta (I used a about a tablespoon)
1 tablespoon vinaigrette dressing

Heat up the grill and salt and pepper chicken. Cook for 6 minutes on high or until cooked all the way through. Top with sliced tomato, fresh basil leaves, feta and your favorite vinaigrette dressing.

Calories: Approximately 180

Peach, Orange and Banana Smoothie

1/2 cup frozen peaches
1/2 banana
1/2 orange
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 scoop Muscle Milk vanilla whey powder

Combine all ingredients in Magic Bullet, screw on cross blade attachment and blend until smooth.

Calories: Approximately 223


~ home ~


A few years ago my aunt Aime sent me this heart-shaped ornament for Christmas. I love it so much that I keep it up all year long. It's currently on the bulletin board above our desk--a perfect place for when I'm at the computer writing about inspiration. :) (By the way, money from this ornament went directly to the campaign at One.org, in case you're wondering what "Inspi(red)" means.)

I always think that the best part of anyone's home is small, personal trinkets that tell a story and brighten your day whenever you look at them. What creative ways do you display these mementos?
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~ fashion ~

Sixties- and seventies-inspired looks were in full force on the red carpet at this year's Golden Globe Awards not to mention the always classic old Hollywood look. So how do you achieve those glamorous looks? Now you may not be wearing a low-cut Versace gown in your everyday, but these are definitely beautiful hair and make-up ideas you rock at work or a night out on the town. Here's what you need:

Hair: Pixie cut like the gorgeous Michelle Williams or full-bodied waves like January Jones
Make-up: Mod, bold lashes and bright lips that pop in bold reds or pinks

Hair: Long, loose waves like Heidi Klum or Anne Hathaway
Make-up: Feel your inner flower child or disco queen with smoky eyes and a natural pink or peachy lip shades

Old Hollywood
Hair: A sleek, pulled back up-do like Natalie Portman or long and shaped curls swept away from the face like Catherine Zeta Jones. Add a vintage comb or sparkling earrings for that extra glam.
Make-up: Dramatic eyes dark mostly near the lash line and lips in dark reds

~ how to ~


Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you're all having a fabulous long weekend. Mine is a nice mix of rest and productivity. In addition to accomplishing several chores that have been on my mind, I also (FINALLY) purchased a new phone. This is kind of a big deal since I have pretty much complained nonstop about the darn thing for months, anxiously waiting for my contract to end. Now I can stop stressing any time I need to make a call (seriously, I had to keep it under two minutes or the phone would shut off). And, happily, I now can stop throwing my phone. Not that that ever happened. Not even five or six or fifty times.

Because my phone can do lots of amazing things, it now has Kanye West's latest album on it. Oh man, you guys. I am so obsessed with this album it's not even funny. I even gave my iPod a much-needed rest and took the phone to the gym this morning so I could listen to Kanye as I did a hill workout on the treadmill.

If you read this blog regularly, you know how much I dislike the treadmill. But it's a necessity for me, especially when Salt Lake is experiencing bouts of nasty air. I've developed a number of little tricks for treadmill workouts, and one of them is using music. I know most people use music every time they run, but I only really like it at the gym. When I'm outside, I prefer to go without. In fact, during my last half marathon, I only used music for the last mile or two so I could push myself a little harder.

If you're looking for a way to jazz up your workouts, start using music as a tool, not a distraction.
- Pick an album or a playlist for your workout and determine the approximate number of songs you want to listen to during your workout (maybe enough for 20 or 30 minutes). Then cover up the timer (it's annoying, anyway), relax, and let the music guide you to the end.
- Cover the entire screen and let the tempo of the music dictate your pace. I find that certain songs make me feel like a rock star and want to run faster. I rarely feel that way if I'm just staring at the screen, waiting for the run to end.
- Pick a bunch of your favorite, most inspirational songs, cover the timer (see a theme here?), and use the music to help you visualize completing your goals. Visualization is truly a powerful technique and it's much easier to focus on crossing a finish line or completing a tough workout when you're not staring at red numbers the whole. friggin. time.

In case you'd like a jumping-off point, here are three albums that I can't get enough of while on the treadmill:
- Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (obviously--or, as my cousin Christine would say, "Obvi!") This album is SO GOOD. However, if you really don't like explicit lyrics, I'd stay away (even though the awesomeness of the album makes up for them). Also, there is a Chris Rock skit on it I can do without. Those are my warnings.
- INXS, INXS. You really forget how good this music was. I listen to it over and over and over, even at work.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers, Greatest Hits. An fantastic collection of the Peppers' very best songs. Can't complain about that.
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~ small inspiration ~

I have this bad habit of saving special things for some later date when "I really need it." I don't want to waste something good on this average moment in time -- I want it to be, well, special.

For example, take these stickers I got as a kid. I really liked them, thought they were so cute and deserved to be used on something nice, not just a folder or a card. So I saved them for a later date. Now here I am, 25, and still have these unused stickers. Problem is, they don't really mean anything to me now that they did back then. Ironically, their specialness has been lost in my hopes of preserving their specialness.

This may seem trivial, but I do this too often, thinking today's average moment (or average school folder) doesn't deserve to be made into something a little more extraordinary. Don't let them pass or you may lose your chance to make the everyday into something more.

~ our world ~


Did you guys read that the National Weather Service reported snow on the ground in 49 of the 50 states yesterday? I think that is such a neat story. It's one of those awesome facts that makes our world feel a little smaller and connects us all a bit more.
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~ food ~

thai coconut soup
Growing up, my mom was not the cook of the family. She has so many talents -- finance, business, music, writing, speaking and the list goes on. Food just wasn't her thing -- until I grew up. Then suddenly I smell homemade bread every time I go over and she makes this incredible Thai Coconut Soup. Seriously this soup is to die for! The recipe was specially requested by Ashley who I used to take soup to at work when my mom would make a vat of it and toss it in the fridge for leftovers. Even better, it's pretty dang healthy too!

{Thai Coconut Soup}

4 ounces cellophane noodles
6 cups chicken broth
1–2 red Thai (or jalapeño) peppers, seeded and finely chopped (plus slices for garnish)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
4 tablespoons Thai fish sauce, divided
3 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 chicken breasts cut into 2"x.25" strips
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups baby spinach
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro (plus sprigs for garnish)

Place noodles in a bowl and add enough warm water to cover. Let sit until soft, about 15 minutes, then drain. Combine broth, pepper, garlic, ginger, lemon zest, lime zest, lemon/lime juice and 3 tablespoon fish sauce in a medium saucepan. Season with salt to taste then bring to a simmer. Add noodles and cook for 3 more minutes. Transfer noodles to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm. Add mushrooms to broth and simmer for 3 minutes. Add chicken and coconut milk and bring to a simmer, stirring until chicken is cooked. Stir in spinach until it begins to wilt. Add chopped cilantro and season with remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce. Divide noodles into 4 bowls and ladle soup on top. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of pepper.

~ a better you ~


All day I have been super excited because I finally found a wellness class that fits into my busy schedule. Tonight Dan and I are doing some cardio and YOGA at the gym, and I couldn't be happier. (It's so great to be excited about going to the gym.)

I recently learned that yoga is used to prepare the body for meditation, to prevent everyday aches and pains from interrupting communication with the spiritual (by the way, that sounds totally obvious now, but it really had never occurred to me). Anyway, I personally love the idea of preparing my body to be more in tune with something bigger. It's really a nice feeling.

So rather than sit and analyze yoga further, I'm going to go get changed and have some dinner so I can head out. Sometimes it's better if I stop yapping and start moving. :) 
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