Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The BEST Italian Soda Recipe

The BEST Italian Soda Recipe

One of my favorite "fancy" drinks is an Italian soda! It is so flavorful, bubbly, and creamy! It is pure deliciousness (and yes, that is a word, right?).

I often get Italian sodas when I go to a coffee shop, instead of getting coffee. Don't get me wrong, I like the blended coffee drinks, but coffee itself (especially strong coffee) is just not my thing.

Growing up, my mom would sometimes make these drinks for us (and we thought we were SUPER fancy as kids when we would get these), but she would always make them with raspberry flavoring, and we always referred to them as "Pink Stuff". It wasn't until years later that I realized other people drank these too, and that they were actually Italian sodas (ha).

What you will need:

  • A tall glass
  • Cream soda-- I like the A&W brand that comes in a two liter bottle
  • Ice cubes
  • Flavored syrup-- I prefer the Torani brand syrups, mostly in the fruity flavors. Although, we have discovered that amaretto Italian sodas are pretty stinking tasty too.
  • Milk or cream-- pretty much any type of milk will work for this: skim, whole, half and half, or heavy cream
*Important: I have ginger ale pictured here, instead of cream soda. (I was out of cream soda, and didn't have a chance to run to the store). I have wanted to try this recipe with ginger ale for a while. BUT I have to say that I can't recommend it. It made for a much less sweet drink. Almost sour, in a way. By all means, if that sounds like something you would enjoy, go for it! But it just didn't float my boat.

What you do:

1. Pour about two tablespoons (more or less to taste) of your flavored syrup in the bottom of your glass. Some of my favorite flavors include raspberry, peach, strawberry, and blue raspberry. I have found that I am not a big fan of passion fruit flavoring-- but feel free to give it a try! Let me know what you think!

2. Add 3-4 ice cubes. Sometimes I add more, but I like really cold drinks in general. So, again, it is up to your discretion.

3. Gently pour in your cream soda until it is about an inch from the top of your glass. You could also use seltzer water here instead if you wanted to cut some of the sugar out. 

4. Top off with whatever dairy you are using. 

5. Enjoy!
If you try this recipe, I'd love to hear your thoughts! What worked? What didn't? What suggestions do you have to make it better? 

*Side note: Sometimes (and I haven't figured out exactly why, or why it only happens sometimes) the drink will look like it has little chunky bits floating in it. It doesn't change the taste of it, but it just strikes me as odd. Let me know in the comments if it happens to you too, or if you know how to keep it from happening!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What I fear most...

What I Fear most...

I think it would be safe to say that some of the most common fears among adults include things like death, heights, and spiders. My greatest fear is not on that list-- the dark. I think that most people associate fear of the dark with children. I would venture to say that they make that association rightly, given that SO many children fear the dark, but grow out of it over time. 

I was one of those oh so lucky individuals who did not grow out of being scared of the dark. 

I guess I should be thankful that my fear of the dark is not a paralyzing one that causes great anxiety-- it only causes a little bit. I guess I should also consider myself lucky that my biggest fear is not even one of great magnitude. 

But, nevertheless, I am afraid of the dark. I make my poor husband get up and turn lights on for me if I have to go any long distance in the house at night (which is rare) and I always have him turn the lights off for me, so that I don't have to walk in the dark. 

Part of my issue with the darkness is that it takes my eyes much longer to adjust to the darkness than your average person. I don't know why, but it seems like it has always been that way for me. Then, of course, while my eyes are in that period of adjusting and have no real idea what they are seeing, my imagination runs wild with all sorts of stupid scary things. 

Thankfully though, I don't have to just be scared. I don't have to suffer with fright. Because even if I am feeling scared, I can take solace in the knowledge that Christ with keep me safe. I can pray, and can take comfort in knowing that God is watching out for me. I think that Veggie Tales said it best when they said "God is bigger than the boogie man". Which, by the way, just happens to be one of my favorite quotes of all time.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

10 Unexpected Ways to Get Active

10 Unexpected Ways to Get Active

I don't know about you, but I love the idea of getting active and staying active-- I love how great I feel when I am more physically active (both physically and mentally!). One of the things that I don't love quite so much about exercise is how monotonous it can get to be. Sure, a routine visit to the gym is enjoyable-- especially as that rush of endorphins hits afterwards-- but even the most exciting gym routine can get to be a bore. When that happens, instead of becoming a couch potato, try one of these ten exciting (and maybe even unexpected) ways to stay active.

And of course, I am no expert in any of these things. Always be sure to check with your doctor beforehand!

1. Body Weight Exercises

Okay, okay, you got me, how on earth is this exciting? Or unexpected? Maybe it isn't, BUT I am including it on my list for a few reasons. I used to think that choosing to do body weight exercises instead of lifting weights at the gym was uber dumb, but my husband recently convinced me otherwise.

By choosing to incorporate more body weight exercises, you gain great control over your body-- I am convinced that it greatly increased my proprioception! Not only are body weight exercises something that you can do ANYWHERE (no gym required), but you can also incorporate some pretty cool moves. For instance, learning to do a handstand, which is definitely a body weight exercise, is next on my to do list!

2. Trampoline Fitness

This is one of my favorites! Go jump on a trampoline! Just be safe. One of my favorite things about this option is that there are so many ways to try it! You could find your local trampoline gym, most of which offer wall to wall trampolines to go jump on! Some even have trampoline obstacle courses, or even trampoline fitness classes, which are beyond fun! Or, if you don't have one of those near you, and you have a large trampoline in your back yard, get out there and get jumping! And if you don't have one of those, you could totally invest a little money to get a small indoor one to bounce on and burn some calories while you watch t.v. or fold laundry (which, if you can jump and fold laundry at the same time, let me know, I want to know your secret!)

 I have even read some claims that working out on a trampoline can burn as much as 1000 calories an hour! Now, I know that seems like an outrageous if you know a more accurate number, please comment below!

3. Bouldering

Bouldering has become one of my most loved ways to spend my weekend! Now, unless you are a part of the climbing community, you probably don't know what bouldering is (I know I didn't until I started doing it). Bouldering is a form of rock climbing, which can be done both outdoors or in a climbing gym. It differs from top rope climbing because you don't climb as high and are not strapped in to any ropes or harnesses.

Sounds dangerous, right? Well, like any sport, it has its risks, but along with those risks, you take certain precautions to keep you safe. I am by no means an expert, but I do know that I would never go climb anywhere without a crash pad underneath me, and  a friend to spot my head and neck. I could write an entire article about why I love bouldering, but for now, I am just going to seriously encourage you to look into it!

4. Dance

There are SO many forms of dance that you could get involved in-- ballroom, jazz, ballet, swing, tap, hip hop...seriously, the options are endless! Dance is such a great way to improve cardio fitness, improve your core, and to have fun! Many dance studios now offer beginner classes for adults. I took a ballroom class at my local community college and fell in love with it!

5. Hiking

Not only is hiking a great way to improve cardio, and muscle endurance, BUT what better way to de-stress than to get out into nature, breathe the fresh air, and enjoy some trees? This one can be a little bit trickier depending on where you live. When I personally think of hiking, I think of mountains, lakes, and evergreen trees. I guess that is what happens when you grow up in Oregon haha. But if you live in the midwest, like I do now, there may not be mountains as easily accessible. That does NOT mean that you can't get out there and find beautiful places to hike-- that's what Google is for, right?

6. Play with your kids 

I understand that not everyone who reads this post will have children...but if you have kids, get outside and play with them! Chase them around the yard, play tag with them at the playground, just have fun! I am always shocked at how out of breath I am after playing with little ones, and I am always equally surprised by how much fun I have with them!

7. Water Aerobics

I have to admit that I haven't actually tried this on, but I definitely want to! I have been told that it is a great, low impact way to get in that daily exercise-- especially (but not limited to) if you are older. I like the idea of the low impact exercise especially since I am currently pregnant, it sounds particularly appealing. 

8. Water Sports

Some people might consider my number 7 and number 8 to be one in the same, so let me explain. When I think of water sports, I think of things like canoeing, kayaking, and white water rafting. Not only are these three things great for toning up your arm muscles since you generally have to paddle yourself around, but the are also great for your core muscle groups as well! I also think that they are great cardio activities because you can vary your level of effort and thus vary your heart rate. 

My personal choice in terms of water sports is definitely the white water rafting (I always go through a river guide company, I'm not good enough to go without a pro). White water rafting is both an exciting way to have fun as well as getting a great workout-- I am always very exhausted and sore the next day after rafting!

9. Kickboxing

What can I say about kickboxing? It is a great way to get your heart rate up, take out any extra aggression you might have lying around, and to have a ton of fun. I like to take the kickboxing classes that are offered occasionally at our local gym. It is also a nice way to meet other people and to possibly form some new friendships. Or, you could always make it a ladies night thing and go kickboxing with your girl friends!

10. Roller Skating

I saved the best for last! Roller skating can burn up to 600 calories an hour, and is literally a total body workout! You of course use your legs (duh), but there is also a lot of core strength involved with roller skating in order to remain upright. Skating has so many options as well! You could just skate recreationally, at your local skating rink during public session. You could look into joining a roller derby team, or a speed skating team (both quad skating and inline skating are options for this), or you could learn artistic roller skating. With artistic roller skating, there are multiple different disciplines-- figures, dance (like ballroom, but on skates, its awesome!), and freestyle (jumps and spins) are just a few of them. You should totally check it out!

And finally my list of ten different ways to get activity is concluded! I know it was a long post this time, and I thank you for sticking with me through it! 

Do you have any thoughts on any of these? What do you like to do to shake up your exercise routine? What are some other things you might have included on the list? I want to hear from you! 

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Best Advice

I have received a lot of advice in my short 23 years here on earth...some good, some bad, and some REALLY bad.

I can honestly say though, that the best piece of advice (and most frequently used piece of advice) that I have gotten, came from my pastor. Regarding marriage.

Before my husband and I got married, we did some premarital counseling with our pastor, and at one point he told us, "Never go to bed angry" and later to restate the same concept, "Don't let the sun go down on your anger". Now, at the time, I kind of just shrugged it off, half ignoring what he said, but I think that is the single most important thing that he taught us (or that anyone taught us) about marriage.

Like all couples, my husband and I have heated discussions, arguments, and sometimes even yelling fights. I can tend to get really worked up, especially when things around me are changing rapidly, or when I am feeling unsure and insecure...which basically describes much of my year these past twelve months. I am also the type of person who would rather just leave the situation temporarily instead of talking it out immediately. I also happen to be the type of person who holds grudges. (I know, I'm not painting a very pretty picture of myself, am I?) I do believe that if we hadn't gotten the advice to not go to bed angry, that my marriage would be a lot worse off.

This is because, no matter how angry or how upset I get, no matter how much I just want to avoid the situation and not deal with the issue that is at the root of the problem, by agreeing beforehand not to go to bed while still angry, I/we are putting a limit on how long we will let the problem go on. Eventually, sometime before bedtime, we will have to talk about it, and we will have to resolve it. Now, does that always mean that the root problem is immediately fixed, the stressor gone, and we go about our lives merrily? No, not necessarily.

What is does mean though, is that we both take the time to talk about what is bothering us, and how we feel. It means that we take a moment to apologize and most importantly, to ask forgiveness from each other. From there we are then able to take a better look at the root problem, and calmly figure out what our next steps are in handling the situation.

It may sound cheesy, it may not be perfect, but it is what works for us.

What about you? What works for you in terms of conflict resolution with your spouse or significant other? I'd love to hear your thoughts.