Everyday Inspirations

 
 

{angie}
Remember the spring Ash and I have been dreaming about here, here and here? Well I'm sooooo overjoyed to say goodbye to chapped lips and bitter winds and hello to the flora and fauna of spring! Here is my ode to the beauty that is only just beginning to bloom. 
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Guiltless chocolate chip cookies
{angie}
We all try to eat healthy, but let's face it, we all get cravings for our favorite treats. One of my most common cravings is a grand, old classic: the chocolate chip cookie. I love to bake, but I know as soon as I make cookies I'll want to eat them all--not so good for my waistline. So I decided to rework a few recipes to make this healthy substitution. With no added sugar, butter or oil, they provide the taste you crave with the guilt-free contents you need. 

{Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies}

3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup applesauce
1 egg
2 tablespoons honey

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup flour
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded  
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
7 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine the bananas, vanilla, almond extract, applesauce, egg and honey. In a separate bowl stir together oats, flour, coconut, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans. Drop spoonfuls of the dough about an inch apart onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes. 

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

 

{ash}

I love shopping for spring. It is so refreshing.

This year, I've banned dark colors (read: all that black I own) from my wardrobe and am embracing light, sweet colors, fabrics, and accessories. Best of all, I'm doing so on the cheap. If you should know anything about how I shop, it should be that I never pay full price for anything. Seriously. I am a big believer in clearance racks (and discount coupons), sales, and special events. I believe it's totally possible to shop at the stores you love without going broke. If there's one thing that is more refreshing than adding fun spring pieces to your wardrobe, it is knowing that you saved a LOT of money doing it. (And I just adore the receipts that tell you exactly how much!)

In honor of the first official day of spring (March 20), here are a few of my favorite spring wardrobe additions:
two-tone watch.
This watch was actually a Christmas gift from Dan, so I've been wearing it for a few months now. I love how it works so beautifully with my spring wardrobe. The rose gold is the perfect accent to this light colors.

peach striped tee
I have a major soft spot for nautical stripes -- show me a navy-and-cream-striped shirt or sweater, and I guarantee I'll fall in love. I picked out this soft tee because it's a spring version of a classic. The peach stripes are such a perfect color.

green beaded necklace
I love green. Though I suppose this is more mint, right? This necklace is beautiful and flirty, and goes with everything (it totally pops next to that peach striped tee). I'll be getting a lot of wear out of this.

short sleeve cardigan
If I could wear a cardigan every day, I totally would. I love how versatile they are. I swooned when I found short sleeve versions of them and bought three great, neutral colors (ivory, light navy blue, and light gray). These babies will get more wear than that necklace, guaranteed.

vanilla sugar frosting lotion
Funny enough, this is another Christmas gift that is proving to be quite useful for spring. I only just rediscovered this lotion in my cabinet and have used it ever since. It's a surprisingly light, sweet scent that works for spring.

an ivory bag
I carried a big black bag through fall and winter, so adding this ivory handbag to my wardrobe made an instant difference. I also love that it goes with everything -- any color shoe, any color outfit (I'm definitely a one-bag-at-a-time woman).
 

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{angie}
One wise woman once said to her brother, "don't worry about things until they happen--otherwise you may be worrying about something that may never come to pass." Which is difficult to do, but good advice. Analytical creatures like me will look at something from every angle until they drop dead or one of the possibilities happens. But there's no use worrying about something that may be until it's arrived, because well, it may never happen and then you just waste your life worrying for no reason. It's much better to wait until it happens and then problem solve when it does. Try to release what may be and think about what is. It's difficult, but possible. And when my brother threw this advice back at me tonight, I figured I'd do my best to take it. 
 

{ash}

Like most of the world, I have Japan on my mind. My heart is heavy with every news story that announces an updated death toll, the effects of radiation, pleas from the Prime Minister. I cannot imagine what the Japanese people are experiencing. I guess I keep thinking that life can turn upside down in the blink of an eye.

But there is still hope and inspiration. In fact, just now I took advantage of LivingSocial's donation match. If you give $5 (which, come on, is doable -- many of us spend more than that on lunch), the site will match your donation. Ten dollars for five? So easy. Already, nearly $775,000 has been raised (at my last check) -- and there are still over 14 hours left. That amount of money filled my heart. When we all get together, when we all give just a little, we can make a difference. I guarantee you that your donation will be priceless to someone overseas. 

I believe we can all do beautiful things together. And even though I get a little heartsick when I see what humans are capable of, moments like this remind me of how amazing we can all be together, that tragedy can open the doors to beauty.

If you're able to give, please consider these websites. (Thanks to Google for this reliable list.)

Oh, and I just realized it's St. Patrick's Day. Sorry for my lack of green-focused blog material. I guess going for a training run instead of an Irish beer kinda threw off my celebrating. ;)

Lots of love!
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rain out the window
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{angie}
Few things beat the sounds and smells of spring rain. Pitter pattering against the glass; A dark, blue-gray hue is cast on the world; New life drinking in the abundant water; Daisy girl pondering the rain out the window. 

Even if you don't love the rain as I do, there are some pretty great benefits--Mother Nature's free car wash. After a long, icky winter I forgot how nice my car looks when it's black and not gray. A few hours in the parking lot and now it's all shiny and clean. 

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Shot by Ash during a lovely walk on Sunday, March 13.
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{angie}
I know, I know. Here I go again getting sucked into dramatic reality television. But I couldn't help it. I watched episode 1 and then I had to watch the rest. 

Now let me start by saying when I first started watching I was like, oh great, Brad again. Wasn't he a big enough jerk the first time dumping both girls? But after watching through this season, I was impressed by how much he has grown and progressed personally. I actually found myself liking him. 

Chantel and Emily were always two of my favorites, though just as Brad said, different as night and day (and can we confirm that ABC intentially dressed the brunette in black and the blonde in white? Um, yes.) When it came to the finale I can't say I was for #teamemily or #teamchantel. I genuinely really liked both of them and felt they both fit with him in their own way. I saw Chantel as a strong woman--smart, experienced and fun. I saw Emily as a sweetheart--the quintessential southern belle sweet with a sad past. I really felt either way would be great for Brad and I was excited to see who he'd go with. 

So he picked Emily. After tonight, I can't say I'm that impressed with her. Not because of the rumors behind her past and whether or not all that is true--I'll give her the benefit of the doubt on that. But the way she handled herself tonight it is obvious she is being guarded in their relationship and not holding up to what she agreed to. He was very open with his intentions from the beginning--he wanted to get married, settle down in Austin (and he expected his wife or fiance to move there), be a father, and generally have the life he's worked through a lot of therapy to get. I feel by continuing on that journey, all of the girls were basically signing that they were okay with that. Of course, I don't know the full story, and I completely respect that it's not really my business, but I guess I feel she is giving up on her end of the deal. I hope she gives it a chance, but it just didn't seem like she was in it tonight. Let's hope for their sake I'm wrong, but she seemed very disconnected. On a random tangent, what was up with him constantly rubbing and touching her?  

In the end, I'm actually really happy for Chantel. I think she is absolutely adorable and I have a lot of respect for the way she handled herself. She asked the hard questions and never once bad-mouthed him (at least not publicly). She recognized her feelings and didn't deny any of it, while still accepting the outcome. And can I say, holy crap she looked gorgeous in the black, one-shoulder gown with feather accent he dumped her in (I always thought them having to get all ready to get dumped was so harsh). I'm happy for her that she is in a new, happy relationship and has moved on. 

So is it all a fairytale? Nope. Just like any relationship, even people on "The Bachelor" leave the show dealing with the real challenges of life and relationships. But while things aren't always perfect, it's still possible to live happily ever after (for the most part). The end.
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We had a killer view from the library today. Of course, this isn't it, but it is a gorgeous view of downtown SLC, Memory Grove Park, and the Capitol. The only thing we need are leaves in these trees.
{ash}

I was fortunate to spend this beautiful, warm, almost-spring day with a former professor. Kim and I had a wonderful brunch at Salt Lake's Oasis Cafe before heading to the downtown library. There, Kim spoke to a group about the role of the media in today's world. I felt totally spoiled. Two hours at brunch, plus the chance to listen to an expert (and my friend) speak on such a crucial topic... I was like a little sponge, soakin' it all in.

There are times I greatly miss the classroom -- more than I can even describe. I miss that designated time for important conversations, the chance to delve deeply into a topic. Yes, I have meaningful conversations with friends and family, but it's the formality of the classroom that makes a difference to me. It's the guarantee of being in a place where someone will challenge my beliefs and push me to think in new ways.

I've never been the kind of person who is content to accept my education the way it is. I have to challenge myself to further understand the world around me... just because (instead of because I have a paper due). But I've also always been the kind of person who falls short when it comes to understanding the decisions made about my world -- and who makes them. Politics is an incredibly unsexy subject (to most), but the idea of not understanding the way my state and country are run frightens me. But I don't want to be a finger pointer, a person who figures I have all the right answers and everyone else is just "dumb" (doesn't that mentality frustrate you, too?). I want to know why people think the way they do, whether or not they agree with me. I'm hungry for knowledge and inspired by how many places I can go to feed that appetite.

Oh, sweet readers, I hope you don't mind me going off on my tangents lately. I've been conducting a lot of self-reflection, a lot of soul searching. I am happier now than I have ever been. I'm in love with my life -- my family, my sweetheart, my friends, my job, my home. I am content and calm, and I'm ready to change my world for the better. And I believe the best way to pass on that love is through (a lot of) self education and taking the steps necessary to help others love life, too.
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{angie}
Saturday brought many inspiring things:
  • Beautiful sunshine pouring through my window. Finally it feels like spring is on its way.
  • Finished "How to Train Your Dragon." How did I not know this was the cutest movie ever? Got it on my Netflix. Loved it! 
  • Shopping for bridesmaid dresses for my beautiful friend, Megan. Utah locals, Lily & Iris is totally the best place in town--gorgeous gowns. 
  • A run on my favorite trail with my favorite, furry trainer. One day my goal is to be pulling her to keep going, not the other way around. 
  • Free Chilck-fil-A. I think Ash would agree, both of those words are heaven. 
  • Reuniting Daisy with an old friend. I bought her this toy when she was still tiny and she instantly fell in love--so much so that she tore the cotton out. Just took a few stitches and the crocodile (?) was as good as new. For about 30 minutes anyway.
  • Date night with the hubby. Never can complain about some good, quality time together. 

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