My 4th Anniversary!

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Ben and I have now been married for four years! It sure has passed by fast. 🙂 I love him so much. My sister Heather was in town, we took her a long with us for our anniversary celebration!

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We decided to celebrate by visiting Peacock Alley. 🙂 It’s a delightful restaurant here in Bismarck, albeit a bit expensive. Ben was given a gift card at work, so we took advantage of it.

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I was so stoked to eat here! I enjoyed a hanger’s steak with a raspberry glaze, and Ben ordered two entrees for the same price as mine. 🙂 He liked the fries. My sister Heather ordered some halibut.

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We had so much fun together. The food was great, the atmosphere was classy, and it made for a wonderful memory. I would definitely eat there again… when we have the money. 😉

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Isn’t my Ben so handsome? 🙂 I decided to wear a simple outfit -a black t-shirt and black denim jeans. Plus a pop of teal, as it was our wedding color! I’m actually wearing the original rose barrette that I wore in my hair when we were married. 🙂

A Little Soda Diner

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Today Ben and I decided to go the Mandan Diner and Soda Fountain! It’s this fun little old-fashioned soda shop down by the Mandan Visitor’s Center. When we walked in, the service was very friendly (although that’s pretty typical here in North Dakota). They had a wall full of soda flavors to choose from, and you could even mix and match!

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Can you see us in the mirror? 🙂

I chose Coconut Lime, and it was very yummy! I’m not normally a soda person, but this one was pretty tasty. Ben decided to try a raspberry soda. His soda was pretty tasty too. 🙂

This little diner also serves soups and sandwiches, but we didn’t stay for dinner. They also had a bunch of old fashioned candy to try! I would definitely come back! It was a very fun date. 🙂

Eating In Moderation, Not Extremes

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(I love Panera Bread! So delicious, and so many healthy options! It’s a fun place to eat out. This isn’t an example of extremism -just a yummy picture.)

 

Day’s 7 post is all about taking a stand on a controversial issue or hot topic. I feel like I’ve covered a lot of topics during this challenge, two chief among them being weight loss and novel-writing. Although my novel is my passion, my blog is mainly for helping other women. So, I’ve decided to cover a controversial topic in the diet and fitness industries –extremism.

In our society, we have so many pressures as women to be perfect –perfectly beautiful, perfectly healthy, perfectly successful and so on. And when we’re not, there are a thousand products just waiting to “change our lives.” Most promise quick results in a short amount of time, dangling a golden carrot over our heads. While I know that intensive workouts and super restrictive –but healthy –eating plans can work for some people, it doesn’t work for others. In fact, most dieters end up failing. I personally believe that this is because we choose to run before we’re ready to walk.

I guess I am advocating for smaller changes over a longer period of time. Yes, eat better, exercise, get enough sleep. But in my experience, a 180 degree change all at once just isn’t effective. Make small goals and reach them. Then make slightly bigger goals and reach them. 🙂 There’s great wisdom to the rolling stone that slowly builds momentum. To me, we were designed to adapt slowly to the challenges of life.

Trip To Lake Charles, Louisianna

For our three year anniversary, Ben and I decided to go to Lake Charles, Louisiana! I grew up with Cajun food, thank to my dad’s amazing cooking skills, and was super excited to visit. And, it was lots of fun! I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

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When we first got to Lake Charles yesterday, we checked out the local visitor’s center. While there, I saw an amazing alligator sculpture, made by a a local artist. It’s like a 3D mosaic, and it’s super cool looking! We also got a Louisiana patch and some postcards from the gift shop. And, there were lots and lots of pamphlets to choose from!

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I also got to a see a real alligator! They have a free alligator observatory right next to the visitor’s center. It was kind of cool seeing an alligator so up close. It was also pretty obvious that this gator had the right idea -it was super hot and humid! Staying under the water was probably the smart choice. 🙂 There was another alligator chilling underneath some bamboo plants.

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After we unpacked our things at our motel room, we headed over to Steamboat Bill’s for some local cajun food! It’s a fun restaurant, with lots of cajun choices, as well as some more “normal” choices for the less brave. From crawfish to catfish to boudin to po’ boys to gumbo, there was lots of creole choices to choose from. We spent of a lot of time staring at the menu sign, trying to pick something from the huge list of choices (and by us, I mean me).

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And here’s me being goofy! You can see all of the food we tried. I ordered some catfish and fries, and Ben got some gator bites and a boudin ball (it’s a type of rice/sausage mix that usually comes inside a sausage). Really, we sampled each other’s food and got to try a little of everything! I liked everything, especially Ben’s gator bites. 🙂 I actually really liked the jalapeno ranch that they served with the entrees. 🙂

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And here’s us, the happy couple! I think Ben looks striking in his awesome hat and brand new shirt from the Boot Barn. It was a fun date, and we got to try a lot of fun things. We left full, and content. If you’re ever in Louisiana and happen to see a Steamboat Bill’s, I recommend it!

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Then, today, we checked out Sam Houston Jones National Park, so we could see a real live bayou! We were hoping to see some alligators in the wild, but it was probably too hot a day to spot any.

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But, as you can tell, the scenery was lovely! All in all, it was a fun trip, and a great way to celebrate three years of being married to such a fantastic man. 🙂

The Cupcake Cowgirls!

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Why do I love cupcakes? This seems to be a mystical question to me. Maybe it’s the mounds of buttercream frosting, or the single serving of cake (I hate slicing up cake!) or the myriad of flavors available to me. Maybe it’s the moist cake, and maybe it’s just all of the sugar, fat and calories playing havoc on my brain. Maybe it’s that one of my best friends, Chantelle, is a cupcake making ninja. Regardless of why I like cupcakes, I surely know that I do. While my husband’s dessert default is ice-cream, mine are cupcakes. So when I heard that there was a cupcake shop a couple of streets down from my house, I had to go! On Friday, this was my second time going, and I decided to share pictures of this delightful little place called The Cupcake Cowgirls.

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This little shop is so fun to walk into, with all of the decorations. It’s so cute looking, and its brand screams right out at you. I have tried two of their flavors –red velvet and vanilla birthday cake, and loved both. Usually, they have about 5 to 7 flavors available for the day. You can find a list of all the available flavors on their website, which is listed below. Penny, one of the shop assistants, was super friendly, and took the time to talk to Ben and me as we looked at the selection. It turns out that she is LDS and goes to my church (albeit at a different location), which was really cool! The service was great, and I had a great time visiting this shop. Ben ended up getting a jumbo cupcake from Kroger, which was a lot cheaper, but well, that’s kind of the way it goes. Cupcake shops will be more expensive, but there is a reason for that. 🙂

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What I didn’t know about The Cupcake Cowgirls, is that they were crowned Cupcake Wars Champions in October 2012! How crazy is that? I love that show! Seeing all of the different themes for each show, and watching people compete with the own cupcake making viewpoints is just so cool! I would have thought it was cool for them to just be participants. But winners? So awesome!

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Just going to this shop really reminded me that I want to take a cake decorating class when I get back to Idaho. Both Michael’s and Joann Fabrics offer Wilton Cake Decorating course, and I would love to sharpen up my cake decorating skills. That way one day I can make awesome looking cupcakes of my own!

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In case you ever are in the area, and want to check out this place, here’s The Cupcake Cowgirls’ information:

This shop is located at the following address:

The Cupcake Cowgirls
22632 Kuykendahl Road Suite A
Spring TX  77389

Their hours are from 10 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday, and closed on Sunday.

If you want to learn more about this awesome bakery, you can check out the The Cupcake Cowgirls Website.

Saving The Rainforest Chocolate Bar

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Last night, Ben and I went on a late night run to our local Kroger supermarket. As I was perusing the all-natural foods aisle, I of course zoned in on the chocolate. We were looking at the prices and shaking our heads, when we came across this delicious chocolate bar that was on sale for $2. Two dollars for a gourmet chocolate bar –let alone an all-natural gourmet chocolate bar –is well worth the price to me! So we brought this little treasure home.

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So what is this candy bar called? It’s called Endangered Species Chocolate, and is the Natural Sea Salt and Lime kind. They had several other flavors, such as almond butter, coconut crème, blueberry vanilla crème, raspberry orange crème, and even lavender mint crème. But, the sea salt and lime sounded really tasty. And it was! I loved that the chocolate bar was rich, and unlike other chocolate bars, didn’t taste waxy (that’s because there is no paraffin in this chocolate bar). It was dark chocolate, but it didn’t taste super bitter, a bit surprising for a bar that contains 72% cocoa. It also wasn’t super sweet, which was nice. The lime crème was amazing! The sea salt wasn’t too heavy, and give it just the right amount of zing, and the lime wasn’t too overpowering. All in all, this candy bar deserves a 5 out of 5 for taste.

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When you open the wrapper, it becomes really apparent that the back of the wrapper (not the foil, mind you) is a mini-flyer, filled with fun facts about the Fischer’s Lovebird, which is the bird displayed on the front of the candy bar. I thought it was really fun to read as I nibbled on chocolate. It’s very interactive, and I could see a lot children and adults enjoying the read as well.

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Here are some quick facts about the health and “greenness” of this chocolate bar. This candy bar is Non-GMO certified, Vegan Certified, Gluten Free, Kosher, and Ethically Traded. It contains organic ingredients, and is all natural. The cocoa used inside this candy bar is RainForest Alliance Certified, and the palm oil used is harvested using sustainable methods that protect current farmland and the rainforest. 10% of profits from this candy bar are donated to protect and preserve wildlife. How cool is that? I think it’s pretty sweet. 🙂

If you have a Kroger nearby, it might be a good idea to run out and try one, as its on sale. This bar is available at several others stores, and online, if Kroger isn’t in your locale. Either way, I’d definitely recommend it!

My Inspiration: This blog post was inspired by Through The Looking Glass And Down The Rabbit Hole, as she often posts delicious pictures of Japanese treats. I figured, why not post one about an all-natural sweet? 🙂

 

 

How To Meditate With Chocolate!

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For me, in order to feel indulged, I need to eat things that I love. And at the top of that list is chocolate. I love chocolate, and I need it to feel content. This being said, it can be easy to get out of control with my eating. It is important that I eat healthy, so I can take care of my body. So, I have developed a little exercise to help me control my chocolate consumption, eat healthy, and feel pampered at the same time: I do a chocolate meditation:

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Turn the lights off and put on some soothing music. Candlelight is great, but not necessary.
  2. Dress comfortably, preferably in something with soft fabric.
  3. Lay across your bed, couch, or wherever you feel most comfortable.
  4. Take one chocolate –yes one –this is important, and bring it up to your nose. Take in the delicious smell of chocolate.
  5. Gently scrape a thin layer of chocolate off with your teeth. Let the chocolate melt on your tongue. Take your time.
  6. As you continue to do this, enjoying thin slivers at a time, imagine you are somewhere luxurious. Sometimes I imagine myself on the beach, with waves of salt water lapping against my bare feet. Sometimes I imagine myself in a sumptuous palace, filled with ornate artwork, and servants catering to my every whim. It doesn’t matter what you imagine, as long as it is a pampering daydream.
  7. When you finish your chocolate, slowly get up. Take the sense of contentment with you as you finish up your day.

This helps me to renew and connect with myself, enjoy my chocolate, and make healthy eating decisions the rest of the day. And now, I connect chocolate with a sense of accomplishment, rather than guilt.