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Happy Birthday Mom!

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Today is my Mom’s birthday!

 

I wish I could take the day off work to just hang out with her all day!  My mom and I have a great relationship, and I love talking with  her spending time with her, joking with her, cooking with her, walking with her, working out with her, and just about doing anything with her!

 

We love you so much, Mom!  Have a happy Birthday!!

 

 

How to Indulge on Vacation Without the Guilt

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I love to eat healthy most of the time, but when I go on vacation (and in everyday life too!) there are certain instances where I want to indulge.

When on vacation, sometimes it can feel like everything is out of whack because you are going to sleep at a different time, waking up at different times, eating different foods, and maybe eating more sweets or treats than you would usually enjoy.

This is totally OK, and I don’t want anyone to think it’s not!  If we never went on vacation and broke our regular routines, then we wouldn’t appreciate our little routines and healthy habits…and we may go crazy (well, at least that would happen to me!).

However, when going on vacation, there are some habits that I like to bring with me so that I can enjoy the extra bowl of ice cream at night without the extra guilt.

Breakfast

We all know how important breakfast is in our regular schedule, and it is just as important while on vacation.  I found it helpful to eat a breakfast that I would normally eat to really set the tone for the day so that I didn’t feel like a slug from the get go.  On my trip to Florida, I packed a little pre-portioned baggie of Sunwarrior protein powder with me and asked my mom to add bananas, peanut butter, Greek yogurt and oats to the grocery list so that I could prepare my overnight oats for breakfast before bed each night.  It may be a little boring eating the same thing each day, but it got my day started right and I honestly looked forward to my overnight oats!

Snacks

While on vacation, meal times can get weird and I found that my family was eating dinner way later than what I am used to, so I was hungry way before it was time to eat.

One of the evenings, my mom decided to order a pizza from a local pizza place called Flippers that we had heard great reviews about.  This was definitely a treat, as I have always loved pizza but rarely eat it so that I never get sick of it.  While my tummy was growling as the pizza seemed to take forever to arrive, I made myself a little side salad appetizer as a snack so that I didn’t want to scarf down the entire pizza the minute it came in the door.   The fiber and water in the veggies and beans filled me up, but left just enough room for me to enjoy a piece of tasty pizza with the rest of my family.

Workouts

When I am at home, I workout 5-6 days a week.  The point of vacation is to relax and give the body and mind a rest.  Honestly, this is a pretty hard task for me to accomplish because I feel like my brain is always running a million miles a minute, but I find that if I plan workouts rather than schedule them it helps keep me sane!

Some mornings, I woke up and walked with mom, one morning I ran 3 miles, a couple of mornings I completed a crossfit inspired circuit that required zero equipment, and some mornings I did nothing!  Because I had a handful of workouts that I knew I could do, I was completely ok with just waking up when I was ready and seeing what my body was ready for.

After my little sweat session, I was more than ready to relax in the sun for the rest of the day 🙂

While I was searching various things on the internet, I came across an amazing workout from  Women’s Health Magazine that literally requires ZERO equipment, uses moves that we have all heard of and tried before, but puts them in 5 different exercise orders so that with only 6 moves you have 5 different workouts.  Pretty awesome if you ask me.  It’s called the “Do Anywhere Crossfit Workout” and I can guarantee that it will forever be in my workout library .

So there you have it.  I know I am not perfect, and I truly enjoyed the extra rest, relaxation, and treats, but enjoying those treats has given me more motivation to start out this month of August, and this work week on a great foot. The extra rest has left my body time to repair and left it itching to get back into the gym!

Time for You to Share:

  • Do you worry about working out while on vacation?
  • Do you worry about what you eat while on vacation?

Happy Father’s Day!

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Happy Father’s Day to all of the great dads out there!

 

Thanks Dad for being at each performance, family event, vacation, and holiday with a video glued to your hand to document each moment and memory.

Thanks for being a support system, and allowing us to “learn things on our own.” even if it wasn’t always the easiest option.

My Sister (Brenna), Dad, Me, and My Brother (Kenny)

My Sister (Brenna), Dad, Me, and My Brother (Kenny)

I love you, Dad, and have a happy Father’s day!

 

Breathing Fire

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I started this early morning with a bowl of overnight oats.  Today, I actually ate them before teaching my 6am spin class because I was so hungry.  I kind of flip flop back and forth between eating just a snack before teaching or working out early morning and actually eating my breakfast.

I love that when I make overnight oats the night before, no matter what time I decide to eat the oats are ready and waiting for me.

Dinner

Last night, I decided to try a new-to-me recipe for a jalapeno slaw with coconut line dressing topped with shrimp.  I saw the original recipe in Clean Eating magazine and knew that I had to try it.

 The dish was tasty and came together very quickly, however, there was one little mishap….I should have taken the membrane and seeds out of the jalapeno.  Honestly, sometimes when I leave all of the spiciness in the jalapeno I can’t even tell it’s there….but believe me, last night it was there and super spicy!  So, based on my experience, when making this recipe remove the seeds and membrane, unless you want to breathe fire all night.

Shrimp Over Jalapeno Slaw with Coconut Lime Dressing

Yields: 2 Servings

Cook Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut almond milk
  • 1/8 cup unsalted peanuts
  • Zest and juice 1 lime, divided
  • 1/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, divided
  • 1/2 head of Napa cabbage
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • about 12 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Prepare dressing by combing coconut milk, peanuts, 1/2 of lime and zest, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor.  Set aside.

Chop the cabbage, jalapeno, and pepper.  Toss together to create slaw.

In a small bowl, mix together shrimp, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Have a medium saute pan heated to medium high heat, saute the shrimp until cooked through.  Once cooked, add the remaining lime juice and remove from heat.

Pour the dressing over the slaw and mix thoroughly.  Divide the slaw among two plates and top with 6 shrimp.

ENJOY!!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

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Today was an absolutely beautiful day in good ole Fort Wayne, so my mom and I took advantage of it by going for a nice walk with my mom’s new dog, Gypsy.  There is a little loop through our neighborhood that my mom had been walking the pup on and she wasn’t exactly sure of the mileage, so I strapped on my Garmin so that we could map the route.

My mom really wanted the route to be 4 miles, so we had to do a couple of additional twists and turns in order to get the mileage right, but we got it!

After the walk I showered and got ready for the day, and the next thing I knew it was time for lunch.  Whenever I am home, I completely take advantage of raiding my parent’s pantry, so I made sure to load my plate up with plenty of veggies and some tuna for a nice and filling salad.

Shortly after that it was time for me to hit the road and head back to Indy.  I wanted to be back in town by at least 5pm because I had my 5th Body Pump team teaching session at 6pm.  I am honestly loving the team teaching aspect of Body Pump and I think I am going to be lonely when I don’t have anyone up on the stage with me to interact with.

When I got home it was 7:30pm and I was hungry.  7:30pm is pretty late for me to have dinner, and I just completed a workout, so I wanted to make something fast.

The meal was kind of a spontaneous decision, but turned out delicious.

Veggie Marinara Mix-Up

I simply steamed 1 cup of cauliflower for the base.

I then sauteed some red onion and yellow bell pepper until they were tender.  Once the veggies were tender I added 1/2 cup of marinara sauce and 1/4 block of tofu.  I allowed the entire mixture to heat through.

Once the cauliflower was steamed, I placed it on a plate and topped it with 1/4 cup of cottage cheese.  I know that may sound a little strange, but in my family we put cottage cheese in our lasagna, so I thought it would add a nice creaminess to the sauce as well as a little extra protein.

I then topped the cauliflower and cottage cheese with the veggie, sauce, and tofu mixture.

It was delicious and quick.  I will definitely be making this dish again 😉

How Does Your Garden Grow?

As Mom was finishing up the gardening yesterday, she realized that she had some leftover starter plants for cucumbers and tomatoes.  I absolutely LOVE fresh tomatoes and cukes from the garden during the summer, however, growing them myself is another situation completely.  But my mom potted up a couple of starters for me so that I could take the plants to Indy and attempt to take care of them myself.

Wish me luck, because I honestly have trouble keeping anything alive that lives in a pot.

I mentioned yesterday that every year on Mother’s Day my mom plants flowers for the yard and gets her garden ready for the summer, but my mom doesn’t grow her garden the old fashion way.  She uses something called and Earth Box.

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These Earth Boxes are essentially a portable controlled planting environment.  There is no weeding involved, it is impossible to overwater the plants, and the planters last forever.  I think my mom has had hers for 10 years now.

She was first introduced to these planters by my grandparents who are constantly moving and don’t usually live in an environment that is ideal for a garden.  They used their Earth Boxes to plant a garden when they had a cabin in Alaska, when they lived on the sand in Florida, and in the dry heat of Arizona.  They were able to tote their boxes around and have delicious, home grown, fresh tasting vegetables in all climates.

Because of the scientific creation of these boxes, they are basically fool proof as long as you water them daily!  Although I have never planted in the Earth Boxes and taken care of the Earth Boxes on my own, I have eaten their produce and I highly recommend it.  According to my mom, they are easy to take care of, and one of the best things about them is that there are no weeds.

You can plant a wide variety of plants in the boxes, too.  We have planted cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, flowers, chives, green peppers, jalapenos, wild flowers, green onions, and many other things that I can’t even remember!  Everything tastes great 🙂

Now, my plants will not be growing the the controlled environment of the Earth Box, but hopefully I am as successful as my mom is with her garden.

Question of the Evening:

  • Do you grow a garden in the summer months?
  • Have you ever used an Earth Box?

Women Can’t Bulk Up

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Seriously, the weather here is completely confusing me.  The first official day of spring is not until tomorrow, so it is technically still winter and here in Indiana we have been having near 80 degree weather for the past week.  Now, I am not complaining by any means, I am just shocked that it is so nice out!

I took a little break from the to-do list at lunch time to go for a quick 3.8 mile run in this beautiful weather, which then made me crave none other than a smoothie for lunch.

Choco-Raz Protein Smoothie

It was completely delicious and cooled me down after my run while filling my belly 🙂
Women and Strength Training

I learned many things while I was traveling and working on board the cruise line as the fitness director.  I learned about different cultures, about what is personally important to me, and more about the body than I ever thought possible in such a short amount of time.

Strength training has always been something that I just sort of “did” because I knew I had to incorporate it into my routine, but there was never a rhyme or a reason as to what I was doing.  I would simply throw it in at the end of an intense cardio workout because, like most women, I was/am a cardio addict.

I must say that part of the reason why I didn’t focus more on strength training in the past was for the fear of “bulking up.”  We see men pumping iron in the gym, going to the designated “boy area” toning specific muscle groups, and we automatically think that if we do the same thing that we are going to look the same.

Nice to look at...but I don't want to look LIKE that

Well guess what ladies, that is not true!  Women physically cannot bulk up the way men do.  

While working on the cruise ship, the other fitness director was a male who was very muscular and had a history of competing in Strong Man competitions.  Was I intimidated?  No, but did I think that the same workout that worked for him would be effective for me?  Of course not.

Eventually, we began training together.  I completed the exact same workouts as him.  We would single out a different muscle group (chest, arms, back, legs, shoulders) and work each group a different day of the week.  We would switch up the way we were lifting and the various exercises every four weeks so that our muscles did not adapt, and I was so happy with the results!

Not only has my strength increased and I am beginning to have different muscle tone than I had ever had before, but it has also helped with my cardiovascular endurance.  The strength in my body allows me to propel through a cardiovascular workout with ease, which gives me motivation to complete another half marathon.

Simple things like push-ups are now easy and something that I enjoy doing.  When before I would always opt for the “female” version.  And did I bulk up?  Absolutely not.

No bulk here!

My biggest worry is that now that I no longer have a gym membership and I cannot complete strength training workouts as regularly, I will lose my muscle strength and tone.  So, now I have the dilemma of getting creative with my strength training routines.

Benefits of Strength Training for Women

Burning More Calories

The more muscle you have in your body, the more calories it takes to feed them.  Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is the number of calories your muscles require to survive in a comatose state (when  you are doing absolutely nothing!).  When you have more muscles, your body requires more fuel, meaning you are burning more calories without necessarily doing more activity.

When we complete a cardio only workout regiment, often times we are using our muscles for energy rather than our stored fat.  When we use our muscles for energy our body stores more fat.  So the numbers on the scale may go down, but we still have a “soft” appearance in those problem areas that we all want to get rid of.

Increase Bone Density

By putting a slight amount of stress on our bones, it causes our bone density to increase which helps to prevent osteoporosis.  It is never too late and it is never too early to start resistance training.

Decreased Risk of Injury

When you strength train you are also strengthening your connective tissue and stabilizing your joints.  It is important to have strong thigh and leg muscles to prevent knee injuries, and it is important to regularly stretch and strengthen your back in order to prevent lower back injuries and pain.

How to Incorporate Strength Training into your Routine

There are so many ways to incorporate strength training into your regular routine:

  • Attend group fitness classes that focus on teaching participants how to use weights:  Body Pump
  • Incorporate pilates and yoga 2-3 times a week into your regular routine
  • Use free weights
  • Use selectorize machines (the weight machines that focus on specific muscle groups)
  • Body weight exercises
  • See a personal trainer

Other Articles Related to the Topic:

Homemade Protein Bars and Bowling

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When we arrived home from playing with puppies, I was in the mood to whip up a new and tasty snack: Homemade Protein Bars.  I found some recipes on Jamie Eason’s web site and had been wanting to try them for a while now, but since I had no kitchen on the boat I had to wait until I was home.  

The recipe called for oat flour, and since we didn’t have any I simply put oats in the food processor to create an oat flour and it worked great!

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I thought that these would be perfect for Brian to have as a snack between classes.  Also, when planning snacks, sometimes it is a little bit hard to incorporate protein simply because I don’t always want to include something like tuna or cheese, and these are a great alternative!

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Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bars (Based on the recipe by Jamie Eason)

Yield:  8 servings (cut into 16 squares, 2 bars equals one serving)

Cook Time:  24-28 minutes

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup NuNaturals Stevia BakingBlend
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups oat flour
  • 2 scoops Sunwarrior vanilla protein powder
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Nunaturals Stevia BakingBlend
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup Vanilla Almond Breeze (I usually would use unsweetened but Mom only had the sweetened)
  • 1/4 cup Fage 0% plain Greek yogurt
Directions
Combine 1/4 cup Stevia and 2 tsp cinnamon in a small dish and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8×8 glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  
 
In a large bowl combine the oat flour, protein powder, baking powder, salt, stevia, egg whites, almond breeze, and Greek yogurt.  Mix until thoroughly combined, but don’t overmix.  
 
Pour half of the mixture into the bottom of the 8×8 baking dish.  Sprinkle half of the cinnamon and stevia mixture on top of the batter in the baking dish.  Pour the rest of the batter into the baking dish and top with the rest of the cinnamon and stevia.  
 
Bake for 24-28 minutes.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Cut into 16 squares, 2 squares is one serving.  Bars will be slightly dense. 
 
Nutrition (for 2 bars)
Calories:  93.31g  Fat:  1.52g  Carbs:  13.46g  Protein:  7.62g

Enjoy!!!

 

After the baking was done, Mom had dinner ready for us!! She made a delicious meal of marinated shrimp, quinoa with cayenne, black beans, and corn, and steamed asparagus.  A completely nutritious and delicious meal!

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After dinner, Mom, Dad, Brian and I headed to the bowling alley.  We are slightly competitive as a family, and Mom decided to bring her own lucky bowling ball.  Mom and Dad used to be on a bowling league and are secretly pretty good at it…Brian and I are, however, not that good at bowling.

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I was able to get a couple of strikes…as well as a couple of gutter balls!

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Brian got some strikes as well!!

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Brian and Dad were the high scorers for the first game.

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Mom and I were the high scorers in the second game.  I still didn’t break 100 😉  It was a great way to spend the evening! 

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This morning, I woke up super early again simply because of the cruise ship schedule that I am used to, but I headed right down stairs to make myself some more oatmeal with Sunwarrior, peanut butter and strawberries.

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Now, Brian, Mom, and I are getting ready to head to Zumba…this is Brian’s first time and it should be interesting! 

Finally Home

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After a 14 hour flight from Hong Kong to Chicago then a 1 hour flight from Chicago to Indianapolis I finally arrived home in one piece!!

Somehow I was able to stay awake through the majority of my flights and the entire day.  After driving around Indianapolis to see all of the new additions to the city due to the super bowl and visit my sister at her salon, Brian and I came home to visit with some friends who had come over to say hello and welcome back!  I must admit that it was strange not having any of my cruise ship friends with me, or constantly looking at the clock to make sure that I was on the ship in time…but other than that it truly felt like I hadn’t left and everything picked up right where I left off!

I am still feeling a bit jet lagged, and woke up at 4am unable to return to sleep.  So, I decided to be productive and do all of my laundry before Brian woke up to get ready for school.  It always feels good to get something accomplished first thing in the morning.

Brian and I then headed to get my engagement ring cleaned at G. Thrapp, where we had the engagement ring made.  It has literally been 5 months since it has been properly cleaned…and they could tell!  I am going to have to go back again soon so that we can make sure that it is as clean as possible.  We then hit the road to head North to Fort Wayne to visit my family.  I was able to sleep in the car a little bit, but it still doesn’t make up for the night of sleep that I missed.

We then simply hung out at home as I shared my stories and pictures from my 5 months abroad.  It is great to finally show my family who I have been talking about and where I have been!

Mom and I then got to work in the kitchen preparing dinner and dessert.  It may have been a while since I have prepared a meal in the kitchen, but I still haven’t lost my touch.  Mom started making salmon with veggies in a Romertopf clay baker.  It is one of the gifts I had received for Christmas that I haven’t been able to use yet, so mom and I experimented with the cooker and were pleased with the results.

According to the web site “Cooking in porous, unglazed clay will increase flavor, tenderness and enable food to retain its natural nutrients and vitamins.”  The dish was delicious, the salmon tender, and the veggies crisp and flavorful with no added liquid!  I am very excited to experiment with this new kitchen device.

Mom had a recipe for “The Best Carrot Cake Ever” that she wanted me to prepare, and I must say while I love clean and healthy eating, it felt oh so good to be back in the kitchen with my baker’s hat on!   Brian, Dad, and Mom went back for seconds of the cake 🙂

Now, I am off to bed early in hopes to have enough sleep to complete a good workout tomorrow!  Sweet dreams 😉

Big News

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Hello out there blogging world!

It seems like forever since I have posted last, and I think that everyone deserves an update. 

I have big news:  I am coming home.

Today, I am officially off of the cruise ship and in Hong Kong awaiting my flight home.  This may seem like an abrupt and crazy decision, but since I haven’t been able to daily document my life there are a lot of things that I have left out of the blog.

 

I don’t regret my decision to take this job because I have learned so much about myself, about the body and overall health, about different cultures of the world, and about what direction I want to take my career.  However, the job was not what I was expecting it to be.  I thoroughly enjoyed the days we were at port and my time outside of work, but unfortunately that was only about 2% of my time on board the ship.  By leaving now and coming home, I am able to keep this a positive experience.  If I were to stay another six months, I feel that I would have a bitter taste in my mouth about the whole experience and not have much benefit of staying. 

 

This was not an easy decision to come to.  I made several pros and cons lists, and things just kept pointing to me coming home.  Right before I made my final decision, one of the guests in my spinning class told me about a dear friend of hers that had died in a plane crash just before she left for the cruise and how it really made her think about making use of your time wisely because you never know what can happen.  She told me that she felt empowered that she did feel like she was using her time wisely…but I couldn’t help but think that if I stayed for the next six months that I wouldn’t be making the best use of my time. 

 

Now that I am on my way home, I am so excited to see Brian, my family, and friends.  But I am also excited to start a career in a real “adult” job, continue my education in the health industry, continue to plan the wedding, and open a new chapter in my life. 

 

I have had so much support from my friends and family back home and from my friends on board the ship, and I will never forget my time there. 

 

Watch out world, because Treble in the Kitchen is back and ready for action! 

Since it has been literally months since my last update you, I will give you some highlights of where in the world I have been. 

 

For the past couple of months, we have been cruising through Australia and New Zealand, and I must say that the weather has been most surprising.  Some days have been nice, sunny, beautiful Australian summer weather, but for the most part it has been very unpredictable.  On our last voyage from New Zealand to Australia, we actually had to cancel a location and dock late in the day because of rocky seas and bad weather. 

Before this contract, I had only been on one cruise in the Caribbean for 5 days for a vacation with my show choir in high school.  During that cruise, I honestly could not tell that we were actually on a boat because the sailing was so smooth.  Since starting my contract on this ship,  I have had my fair share of rocky seas.  The gym is at the front of the boat at the very top, which means that it is one of the rockiest places.  At some points it literally feels like you are on a roller coaster because the ship is bobbing up and down so much from the swells in the ocean.  Honestly, I kind of like the feeling, but some people get very sick.  It is a strange sensation that you really can’t describe. 

 

Highlights of Australia and New Zealand

Petting and Feeding Kangaroos (Australia)

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  • The kangaroos at a wild life sanctuary were literally hopping around EVERYWHERE!  We were able to touch them and feed them all we wanted! 

Touching and Seeing a Koala Bear (Australia)

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  • When I was in elementary school, my school’s theme was Australia, so we were always learning about it and doing a project on it.   Our mascot was the Koala and ever since I have wanted to actually see one in real life!  At the wild life sanctuary, my wish came true! We were able to pet the koala, which made my hand smell like eucalyptus because they eat so much of it! 

 

Paragliding (New Zealand)

 

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  • I have never really done anything super adventurous aside from going on a really big roller coaster, so when some of the girls from the spa and some of the guys from the casino decided to go paragliding, I HAD to join them!  I honestly didn’t even know what paragliding was when I signed up, I just knew that I wanted to do something crazy and I am sooo glad that I did it!  Literally, the paragliders drove us up to the top of a mountain.  We got all strapped into our gear, and the next thing I knew the paraglider I was attached to was telling me to run off the edge of the mountain…so I did and then we were literally gliding through the air attached to a parachute.  It was surprisingly one of the most peaceful things that I have ever done.  I felt like a bird just gliding over the world.  It was one of the best experiences ever and I definitely plan on doing more crazy things like that J.

Climbing Mount Manganui (New Zealand)

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  • This wasn’t a strenuous climb, but it was an adventure.  We went up a “goat trek” which is simply a trail that isn’t paved.  There was one point where I was literally clinging onto the rocks, but it was so totally worth it!  It was strange because at the bottom of the mountain, the weather was chilly and extremely windy, but at the top of the mountain it was beautifully sunny and warm!  Exactly the opposite of what I would have expected to happen.  (do you see the cruise ship in the background?)

 

There is so much more for me to share about this experience, and I can’t wait to begin my new life on land.

Happy Holidays and Travel Updates

The internet on the boat is iffy and expensive…but I am still here!!

25 Questions: Holiday Style

  • Eggnog or hot chocolate?

Eggnog.  I love a good, rich hot chocolate as well, but to me, nothing speaks Christmas like eggnog.  I usually only have it once or twice during the season, but I can’t imagine a Christmas without it.  Yesterday morning (my Christmas morning) I woke up and got ready to eat breakfast at the buffet as usual.  Sad that I couldn’t have my usual cinnamon rolls with my family, I was a)so excited to see eggnog at the buffet for breakfast, and b) really shocked because that is typically NOT a breakfast item…but I had to have it! J

  • Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

Santa still wraps our presents.  There are no gifts under the main tree until Christmas morning, and we are not allowed to peak on Christmas morning until my parents are ready…yes me and my siblings still do this…and we will be doing it next year when I am home for Christmas!

  • Colored lights on tree/house or white?

We have colored on the tree in the house and blue icicle lights outside.

  • Do you hang mistletoe?

Nope

  • When do you hang your decorations up?

I think it really depends on the year.  It is all up to my mom since she is the one at home, but I honestly don’t mind putting up the festive décor right after Thanksgiving!  The sooner the better J

  • What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

Every year we have lasagna for dinner at Christmas.  Sometimes we switch up our appetizers, our Christmas Eve meal or whatnot, but without a doubt we always have lasagna Christmas night, and because it is so special we like never have it throughout the year so that we really are craving it when Christmas comes around.  It is seriously the best lasagna that I have ever tasted…stuff in the restaurants doesn’t even come close.

  • Favorite holiday memory as a child?

When we were younger we used to do a holiday celebration at my Great Grandma’s apartment in Michigan and I just remember always driving through the snow and having the whole trip seem like an adventure to get to Grandma’s house.  We would have a fancy little dinner with her and get all dressed up in our holiday attire.  Just spending time with family by playing cards and watching a Miracle on 34th Street. It was perfect J

I also remember one year that me and my siblings really wanted Giga Pets (remember those) for Christmas.  My parents continuously said no way and that we were definitely not getting them for us.  When we were opening our gifts we each got our own Giga Pet!  At that moment I “knew” santa was real J

  • What is on your Christmas wish list?

This year I didn’t even make one!  I am such a list person that I just enjoy making my list every year and sending ideas to my mom constantly, but I really didn’t expect to get anything…so when I got two boxes of gifts to open on Christmas I was sooo happy!!! J

  • Do you open a gifts on Christmas Eve?

No way!!!! Brian’s family opens on Christmas Eve…but for my family there is no way that we open anything before the actual day!

  • How do you decorate your Christmas tree?

We use all of our collected random and homemade gifts each year.  One year, I think I tried to string popcorn and cranberries to add that kind of a touch to the tree, most years we add those stringy silver icicle things.  We also have a smaller tree that we call our “international tree.”  Whenever my grandparents travel they always bring us back little ornaments to add to the tree, so I am collecting some ornaments along my travels to add to the collection!

  • Snow? Love it or dread it?

I would love snow from the week of Thanksgiving until New Years and then after that spring, green, and warm weather can come J

  • Real tree or fake tree?

REAL! We always argue about finding the “perfect” tree. When I was younger we would actually go to a Christmas tree farm!

  • Do you remember your favorite gift?

Favorite gift…that is a hard one!  I think that this year my gifts were my favorite because I wasn’t expecting anything…my mom could have sent an empty box and it would have been my favorite I think haha.  Just to have a little taste of home was perfect!

  • What’s the most important thing about Christmas for you?

Family and traditions.  Being away from everyone and everything that I love this holiday season has really made me realize how much I really do love my family and spending time with them.  I don’t have a big family, so the traditions we hold on to are what make the day special for everyone.  I can’t wait to come back next year and do every tradition to the max!!!

  • What is your favorite holiday dessert?

Our house literally becomes a bakery during the holiday season.  We don’t eat cake or pies for Christmas, it is all about the cookies…although some of them are not cookies technically.  My absolute favorite holiday treat to eat are buckeyes…and I have had a craving for them this entire week!  My favorite holiday treat to make are cherry coconut bars and of course decorated sugar cookies

  • What is your favorite tradition?

This is a tough one because my family has so many goofy little traditions.  I think that my favorite tradition is the homemade gift that my siblings and I make for each other.  Now that we are getting older, the gifts are actually pretty good!  It is always so hard to come up with an idea, but then once you come up with it the whole process is top secret from everyone (except mom who usually helps out!) until Christmas morning.

  • What tops your tree?

We top the tree with a “tree topper.”  It is not an angel and it is not a star.  It is a red and gold decoration thing that just goes on top…It’s hard to describe.

  • Do you prefer giving or receiving?

I love giving gifts on Christmas, my favorite thing is to find the perfect gift and then keep it a secret until Christmas and watch the receiver open it J  Watching them open the gift is probably my favorite part!

  • What is your favorite Christmas song?

I can’t pick just one so here are the songs at the top of the list

  1. Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  2. Joy to the World
  3. Carol of the Bells
  4. Oh Holy Night
  5. Silver Bells
  • Candy canes, yuck or yum?

They are cute decorations during the holiday season.  My mom gets a giant candy cane (like the kind that you would put in the yard) and puts it on the antenna of her car…my sister does that too.  I also think that they are tasty as stir sticks in your hot chocolate or eggnog.

  • Favorite Christmas movie?

Again, I can’t choose so here is the top of the list

  1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  2. Elf
  3. Rudolph’s Shiny New Year
  4. A Christmas Story
  • What do you leave for Santa?

This is one of the goofy traditions that my family still does…we leave cookies, milk (or eggnog), a carrot for Rudolph, and a letter J (yes we still do it!)

  • Do you have a Christmas morning tradition?

YES!  Usually, my siblings and I all sleep in one room together for a big Christmas night sleepover.  I then wake up at the earliest hour possible (I am a morning person) and then wake up Kenny, my brother.  I have Kenny go peak downstairs to see how things look.  In the mean time I try to convince Brenna that she needs to wake up 5 hours before her usual time because it is Christmas!  Kenny and I then go and try to wake our parents up, we then wait for mom to shower and Dad to set up the video camera (this really turns into a production).  When Mom is finally ready we all head downstairs to the family room and open the gifts in our stockings first.  We then move to the homemade and family gifts under the International Tree.  I then make cinnamon rolls and we have cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  We then move into the living room and open all of the Santa presents under the tree.

**I told you we had a lot of traditions

  • Do you prefer to shop on-line or at the mall?

The mall.  I love the smell of Christmas time and being surrounded by so many people and seeing the decorations!

  • Christmas letter or Christmas card?

This year I did Christmas letters simply because I am so far away and can’t talk to everyone in the family that often.

  • Favorite thing about Christmas this year? (I added this one in)

The crew on board formed a crew Christmas carol choir.  As soon as I heard that this was going on I couldn’t NOT join!! I quickly was given the title of music director and loved every second of it.  Most (probably everyone) had no musical training and were just doing the choir for fun, which was great to see.  I had a couple of solos too, which was fun.  We performed on Christmas Eve night just before each seating for dinner, and because it made me so happy to see everyone else so happy it made me extremely emotional!

Christmas day I then had to work in the morning teaching our stretching class and our abs class.  Since it was Christmas, the gym was pretty slow so I was hanging out at the front desk when a man came into the spa said that he was looking for a girl from the spa last night dressed like me that sang the Christmas carols.  My manager quickly told him that it was me!  He then went on to tell me how happy the carols made him and how my singing was the highlight of his entire cruise.  That made me so happy!  I then had a little bit of a rough day just because every time I would even think about Christmas anything I would just get emotional.  Later that evening, my roommate came into our room where I was hanging out and told me that the man who enjoyed my singing so much was talking to my manager who explained that it was my first Christmas away from home and that I was having a hard time.  He said that he understood the feeling of being away from family and because I made him and his wife smile, they wanted to make me smile so they bought me a little stuffed animal holding a Christmas carol booklet that plays Christmas songs!!! That totally made my day!

Benefits of Working in the Spa on a Cruise

The gym is a part of the spa on all cruise ships, and because of that we are able to receive free treatments.  In fact, it is encouraged so that we can cross promote those treatments to our clients!  I am clearly trying to take as much advantage of this amazing opportunity as I can.  So far, I have had a lime and ginger salt scrub which seriously made my skin the smoothest that it has ever been and included a full body massage, and the second treatment I had was a Thai poultice massage which again was amazing and included warm herbal bags massaged onto the skin.  I have also had a treatment called ionithermie done which detoxifies the body from the outside and stimulates the muscles while circulating algae through the skin.  I loved the treatment, but some people find the electrical stimulation of the muscles weird.

Where I Have Traveled

  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Nagasaki, Japan
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Phu My, Vietnam
  • Laem Chabang, Thailand
  • Ko Samui, Thailand
  • Darwin, Australia
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Hobart, Australia
  • Port Chalmers (Dunedin), New Zealand
  • Wellington, New Zealand (Where Lord of the Rings was filmed)

Things that I have learned while traveling.

  • Thailand has beautiful beaches and resorts and very cheap clothes.  I literally bought dresses for $2.

  • Hong Kong’s skyline makes NYC look little.

  • They actually where the little pointed hats in Vietnam.

  • Australia is very clean.
  • Southern Australia and New Zealand are not hot.

  • I think this was the biggest shocker.  The weather is like below 70 degrees and it is their summer right now.  I just automatically thought that all of Australia and New Zealand were scorching all the time, but I was wrong.

I miss everyone dearly, and although I am enjoying this experience, being away for the holidays has truly allowed me to see how important my friends and family are to me and I can’t wait to come back home to everyone!  I hope that everyone had a merry Christmas and has a happy new year!