RD Snack Exchange 2019 / National Dietitian Day

Hi friends! If you don’t know, today is National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day!!! Yay, us! I can easily say I am so proud of the team of dietitians I work with both at work, through blogging, and friends as well. Each one of them is committed to serving individuals evidenced based nutrition education in each of their disciplines. See some of them below from my wedding! I’m excited to say there were 10 dietitians at our wedding.

So earlier this year one of my goals (see my post on my 2019 goals here) was to connect and network with some other dietitians who blog / run their own businesses / who are all around just awesome. I decided to host a snack exchange because who doesn’t love getting snacks in the mail!?

These ladies were so awesome for participating!

  • Jess Degore – Jess is a Registered Dietitian who is the author and owner of dietitianjess.com. Her private practice provides nutrition counseling and she specializes in sports nutrition, intuitive eating, and diabetes. Outside of nutrition Jess enjoys competing in triathlons, traveling, and checking out local breweries and restaurants. 
  • Kim Hoban – Kim is an intuitive eating and HAES dietitian and advocate. She shares easy and delicious recipes that are approachable for all. She’s also a new mama! She keeps it real and her blog is all about the three F’s; Food, Fitness, and FUN! Read her blog over at www.khnutrition.com.
  • Becky – This is Bex! She’s a Registered Dietitian (RD) and working as a bariatric dietitian. She loves to cook, explore the outdoors and encourage others to live healthy lifestyles. She recognizes the importance of a balanced approach to nutrition. You can find her at www.bexnutrition.com for nutrition tips and recipes. 
  • Melissa Morey – (Side note, I’ve actually known Melissa for years through school and beyond!) She’s an adventurer, photographer, living in the beautiful Traverse City, Michigan. She’s also a weaver and a wicked cake baker.
  • Jamie Rebecca- She’s a CT, registered dietitian on a personal weight loss journey! She discusses her journey, PCOS, mindfulness and much more! See her site www.thesleeveddietitian.com.
    • Instagram:
  • Lauren Pendergast – She’s a registered dietitian, foodie, runner, chocolate lover, weight lifter, and awesome blogger in the NYC area! Check out her site at www.nutritionbylauren.com.
  • Marissa McCormick – She is a registered dietitian working a full-time corporate gig out of Minneapolis, MN.  She’s a new mom & passionate about prenatal & postpartum nutrition/health and she recently launched her website www.marissamccormick.com as a way to help new moms find health & happiness in motherhood!  She share nutrition tips for pregnancy, breastfeeding & introducing solids to babies so mom’s can confidently nourish themselves & their families!  She loves to meet new moms on Instagram 🙂

My own partner was Jess Degore – she sent me a literal bag of goodies! From water enhancers, to electrolyte replacers, treats from her home State, granola bars, my favorite nut butters, tea, brownie mix, hemp seeds, and some delicious chocolate covered caramel. I felt so spoiled! We’ve also been emailing back and forth and turns out we have a good amount of things in common. I have enjoyed virtually getting to know her AND her and her husband might be making their way to Michigan sometime! It’d be fun to take this virtual experience to life 🙂 see below my goodies from Jess!

There wasn’t anything I didn’t like! I have not used my nuuns because I haven’t needed them yet but I’m falling hard for hemp hearts and True Lime packets!

That’s not all though, check out what other dietitians were exchanging with each other! To learn some more about the RD exchange or see other awesome dietitians I follow, look up to, get inspired by, and simply just love…head over to my instagram The_Beer_Dietitian and check out the story highlights saved from today!

Are you an RD wanting to participate in next year’s exchange? It’s a super easy, relaxed way to network with someone and also get a bunch of goodies in the mail too 🙂 Email me at Brewtition@gmail.com to get involved for next time!

What you Need to Know about Frozen Food

If you didn’t know…today is National Frozen Food day! I feel like frozen food gets demonized quite a bit – like carbs and fat – and I thought it would help to put some clarity behind frozen foods and how I used them in my life. I’ll do this by sharing some pros and cons. But first! I shared this side-by-side on Instagram today to show how seeing that something was frozen/processed food might make you turn away…while the image on the right might be viewed as glorified food prep. I’m not about lying to you all, I want to share my reality and what works for me.

(I enjoyed this meal! If I made it again I would still add my roasted zucchini but maybe I’d throw in some flax meal or nutritional yeast to ramp it up even more)

PROS

  • Convenience is a beautiful thing. I will always keep frozen fruits and vegetables as staples in my freezer. They are picked at their peak freshness, frozen, and sent on their way. You will still get plenty of nutrients and benefits from consuming fruits/veggies in this form.
  • Convenience is a beautiful thing – for other frozen foods aside from fruits/veggies! While there are some frozen foods that might be considered healthier than others, keeping some things on hand is helpful. Especially for those moments when your meal plan doesn’t sound good or you have unexpected changes in plans.
  • You can always add something to a frozen food. We keep frozen burritos on hand and I’ll use these when we don’t feel like cooking or we need something quick but we’ll add some veggies and rice on the side. If you’re someone who keeps frozen pizza on hand, keep things you can add to the pizza that make it more filling like vegetables or proteins.
  • Some frozen food is not as “processed” as you might think. I made a pizza dough from scratch which nutritionally is comparable to a frozen dough I’ve seen on the market. I used half of the dough and froze the other, does that make my dough “processed” to the point where it’s all of a sudden unhealthy? Nope. We just tend to put blanket statements on certain foods that end up scaring people into eating the same things all the time or shaming them for choosing a frozen food.
These are some of our staples – from frozen veggies to fruits, to meals / partial meals, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack/dessert. Frozen foods can fit in any meal plan.

CONS

  • Frozen food can have a lot of sodium. It’s not surprise that this is my first bullet point. But do you know how to read a label and tell whether or not it’s high in sodium? Miligrams and grams are confusing to most so check out the percentage. If it is 20% or higher, it’s a high source of a nutrient. So if you’re trying to watch out for high sodium foods, check the percentage.
    • Don’t forget to also check the serving size. If it is 13% sodium but but the serving size is 2 for the package and you’re planning to eat the whole thing…it’s now 23% sodium.
  • They’re sometimes low in fiber. Fiber is a nutrient that keeps us full and helps our digestion system run smoothly. Again, take a look at your nutrition label and if your goals it to feel full from the frozen food you’re choosing, check to see what percentage of fiber is in a serving. 20% is a high source, 10% is a good source, and 5% is a low source.
    • Remember the comment above about adding nutrients to frozen meals! If it’s a stir fry of veggies – use brown rice or throw in some flax meal! Any added fiber will help you feel full for a longer period of time.
  • The portion size is smaller than the packaging leads it on to be. I’ve often purchased a frozen food or meal and after I’ve cooked it I’ve thought, “that’s it!?” Sure one serving nutritionally does not look unhealthy, but are you going to eat one serving? The serving size is just a guideline it does not mean that serving size will fill you up physically or visually (both important!)

In short, can you make healthy choices when it comes to frozen food? Yes, absolutely! But can you also go into the frozen food aisle and use their meals as inspiration for something to make on your own? Hell yes! I used to do this a lot before I started taking a list to the store with me. I’d find a frozen meal that sounds good, look up a recipe online that’s similar, and make it from scratch. My cost might have been $10-$15 instead of $5.99 but I was left with a more nutritious meal and had leftovers too.

I will add that frozen food has come a long way from the TV dinners that so often come to mind when we demonize frozen food. I think what’s important to remember is that it’s your home and your choice. What works for me may not suit your needs/desires.

Do you keep any frozen food/meals? Or do you have any questions about frozen food that I didn’t cover? Ask below! If you’re a frozen food eater like I am, show me what you’re cooking up on Instagram and tag me @The_Beer_Dietitian. <3

How to Fit Fitness into your Life

When you think about becoming healthier or working on general wellness, a few general things come to mind: food, exercise, and self-care. Self-care can include food and exercise but it can mean much more than that (read more on that here).

Today, I wanted to focus on exercise. Movement. Activity. Whatever word you want to use to describe it is fine but choose a word that feels empowering. If hearing the word exercise fills you dread, choose a word that makes you excited or that you look forward to getting to do…not a means of punishment or chore. There are two questions to ask yourself: What is exercise to me and why am I exercising?

Sam & I hiking in the Upper Peninsula!

why do i want to exercises?!?

Why am I exercising? If you answered to lose weight – it’s not likely going to be something that sticks around because A) you may lose weight and then stop exercising or B) you don’t lose weight and you stop exercising because it’s not working. Try to develop a deeper meaning with exercise by asking yourself why is movement important to you? I do not have children but I want to one day. I want to develop habitual exercise that brings me joy so that my children find joy in movement as well.

WHAT IS EXERCISE!?!?

Second question, ask yourself what exercise is to YOU. It is really common to believe that exercise needs to be a certain length of time, exertion, or done on a piece of equipment. For example, “I need to work out 5 times per week for at least 30-45 minutes and I need to be sweating and my heart rate needs to be elevated…otherwise I might as well do nothing.” That’s a lot of, “need to” statements which inherently produce feelings of guilt when we don’t fulfill that “need.” Redefining exercise to suit your individual needs and desires can help you feel better about how you’re fitting it in.

Instead of focusing on minutes, consider your feelings. I need to workout for 30 minutes, could be turned into I want to focus on moving my body and feeling good, this Zumba class sounds like fun! No matter if it’s 20 minutes or 60, you’re more inclined to keep going it if it’s something you enjoy. Or for lack of a better phrase, if it sparks joy (thanks Marie Kondo) you’re more likely to desire it.

Nick, Jake and I – my marathon friends aka my crazy running partners

It’s true that there are recommendations/standards set for activity and we are encouraged to get them done in a week. What standards don’t account for is the variables we face every single day. I have worked with a mom who even after we looked at her schedule, found it more doable to fit in more movements throughout her day rather than 30 minutes at the gym or even on her treadmill at home. Don’t give me that, “YOU’LL HAVE TIME IF YOU MAKE TIME FOR IT” BS either. I don’t want to hear it and it’s not a helpful statement for someone who isn’t doing much for activity because of habit or injury.

ever picked up an instrument and knew how to play it perfectly right away? Didn’t think so.

It can feel difficult to get started with an exercise routine. It is also difficult to pick up an instrument and know how to play it right away too. Exercise is no different. My best advice is to start small. Wouldn’t it be great if instead of 0 exercises per week you could establish a positive habit of once per week?

You might think…one day?? What’s that going to do for me? Change. It’s going to cause sustainable change. It’s going to start you on a path to a better relationship with activity. I think when we join a gym, club, or class, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to instantly get the most out of our membership by going at least three days a week. This can lead to all-or-nothing thinking which doesn’t lend itself to sustainability or positive self-talk.

I will never stop dancing as a part of my active lifestyle.

So what to do? I encourage you to think of all the activities you have a positive association with. Mine include: Pilates, kick boxing, boxing, yoga, dance, running, walking, biking, elliptical, weight lifting, WODs (like Crossfit ones), short workouts, long workouts, workout videos, HIIT, or bootcamp classes. Notice you didn’t see sports? I’m not a fan! I’ve never been a fan, I turn into a 15 year old brat and I become increasingly unmotivated to participate. It’s just part of who I am.

You might even go to your friend Google and type in, “list of various types of exercise.” Maybe there’ll be something you’ve never tried or something you used to do but could modify and try again. Seated exercises are a fantastic way to get going.

Remember, just because you used to do a certain activity does not mean we can jump back in right where we left off. It’s important to treat yourself kindly and not judge yourself for modifying or starting somewhere less than where you were.

Okay so how am I supposed to fit in exercise?

As far as fitting exercise into your daily routine, if you already take a day to meal plan or just look at your week ahead, this is an opportunity to plan in one day a week of exercise/movement/activity. Look at each day, where could you fit it in and how? What will you do to ensure that it happens? Sometimes this means packing a gym bag the night before or laying out your clothes so that you’re cued to change into them instead of comfy clothes/pajamas. Or sometimes it takes accountability with a friend or coach.

After you’ve accomplished your one day…watch out for sneaky diet language like, well I ONLY worked out once this week. ONLY!? You’re taking steps to a healthier you! Try to reframe the sentence to, I am so proud of myself because I wanted to start working out once a week, I scheduled it, it felt really great to move my body, and it’s doable for my life right now. See how positive that sounds? Often time I think it’s our mind and thoughts (that are completely normal by the way) that get in our way.

Lastly, be okay with your routine needing to change. The only constant when trying to improve your wellness or lifestyle is change. Your life most likely won’t be the same week to week and year to year, so why should our workouts be? Remember that one off week or month does not define you as a failure. It does not mean you are note healthy, it means you had a week or a month where it didn’t happen and instead of asking yourself why…ask yourself how can I move forward today?

So tell me, how do you think you could start to build in exercise into your routine or change up your current routine?

Thoughts on Motivation & Will Power

Can you believe it’s only February 19th? Why do I say only? On our wedding day Steve and I made the day and the honey moon to follow (read more about that here) go by slowly and sweetly by saying, “it’s only 8:00 or it’s only Tuesday.” We have a tendency to wish or will our time away and with the buzzed feeling of the New Year most likely wearing off, it’s a great time of the year to start doing a self-check up. What is a self-check up? It’s when you reevaluate your goals, your life, your current situation and see if there’s anything you desire to reassess and readjust. A self check-up gives you time to praise, reflect (without judgement) and evaluate what you want to do moving forward into the next month.

Praising yourself is an important and often missed step of a self-check. We are so critical of ourselves and will say things like, I wanted to go to the gym five days a week and I’ve only been going once a week. Time to praise! You’ve not been going, “only” once a week – you’ve established a once a week routine that so far is working for you! Time to reflect on how you made this happen and how it makes you feel. Next, evaluate your goal of five days a week. Is it realistic? Can we work on two days a week instead?

I know what I need to do…I just need to do it!

Ever said that? I get it. It’s been a polar vortex out there which makes me want to cuddle up and binge on anything Netflix has to offer too.

But what about when it’s not a polar vortex? What about when it’s just February in a Michigan winter or July in the heat of summer and we don’t feel motivated to work toward our goals? Perfect example of where we can reassess and readjust. Do you “have to” workout or can you view it as, “I get to” workout?

Motivation is a feeling and will power is a fallacy. Change can happen inside and outside of your comfort zone.

Will power has nothing to do with making changes

It’s not easy to change our internal habitual language but a slightly different perspective can make a big difference. It’s also normal to not feel motivated. Motivation is a feeling and your will power has nothing to do with it. As human beings, we experience feelings. Sometimes we can experience many different feelings in one day…one hour even! To expect ourselves to feel motivated all the time and to rely on that feeling is simply unrealistic. Take the pressure off and remind yourself it’s normal that motivation ain’t in our hearts all the time. 

Secondly, ask yourself how you’re going to get through a certain task or work toward a goal without that feeling? Could you work on other feelings? I know myself enough that if I’m feeling happy, it’s easier for me to choose to move more or get exercise in that I enjoy. If that’s the case for you, what makes you happy? Is it playing with your pet or simply taking in a breath of fresh air or doing a Zumba video and not get on an elliptical? Finding a way to spark happiness instead of motivation might help.

Thirdly, break down your goal into a step-by-step process. If you know that you want to workout at least once before the week is up try writing a plan to accomplish this. For example: 1) Go to bed with my gym clothes laid out 2) wake up at ___ time and review the plan in your head with the idea that you GET to workout 3) relax and enjoy coffee for __ time 4) set alarm to remind me at __ time that I have fifteen more minutes until I get to work out 5) turn the volume up on some pump up music while I warm up

See how the goal gets broken down? Smaller steps help us see it more as a task oriented goal. While will power is helpful in very short term circumstances like crossing a finish line or taking the final step up a hill. Will power is not helpful in helping us not do something.

Build in time in the day to do what enriches you without judgement

It is very important to tell yourself you’ve built in relax time. I’m no stranger to scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram. Sometimes, when I planned in a work out I felt like I wouldn’t get my relax/screen time in…wrong! I always build it in. We all need some unwind time which looks different for everyone. For me, I enjoy watching shows (ahem, The Bachelor & Seinfeld lately) and reading positive messages on Instagram. I give myself time in the day to do that without judgement so I don’t feel deprived.

What do you think? Have you been waiting for motivation or will power? Do you know what you “need” to do but just “need” to do it? Let’s talk below! It’s tougher than that, but I’m here to help.

Five ways to Celebrate Galentine’s Day

When I was first introduced to Leslie Knope / Parks and Rec I fell in love instantly with the idea of Galentine’s Day (February 13th) and taking a day to celebrate friendship with the amazing women in your life.

Since my word for 2019 is progress, one of the things I wanted to work on was my relationships with my friends. It’s always important to build upon the friendships you have and make sure you’re making time for all of them. Everyone gets busy and life gets busy, so when you’re able to spend time together make it quality time. Thus, I thought I would share five ways to celebrate Galentine’s day if you need some ideas on how to celebrate the women in your life too!

  1. Go out for a slow breakfast with plenty of coffee, beermosas/mimosas, tea, or beverage of choice and spend time enjoying the start of a day with your favorite gal(s).
  2. Take a cooking class together and enjoy the mess and fun of learning something new!
  3. Drop-in on a yoga studio or workout of choice and sweat it out together
  4. Try a fancy new cocktail bar after work for happy hour where you wouldn’t go normally.
  5. Take a day trip to a new town and explore what it has to offer.

You could also invite your ladies over and watch the episode of Parks and Rec that features Galentine’s day. As a bonus, celebrate Leslie Knope style and serve up Belgium waffles!

How will you be celebrating Galentines? Feel free to share and tag me on Instagram @The_Beer_RD so I can cheers to all you lovely ladies!

Stir it Up Bakery – See the Able not the Label

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with Zoe Bruyn, owner of Stir it Up Bakery in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Stir It Up is a bakery with a mission to provide meaningful employment to individuals with special needs. Stir It Up is not only designed to provide a safe atmosphere where individuals can obtain skills but it is also an example for other bakeries/local business to hire those with special needs.

Photo by: Alicia Magnuson Photography

To share a little background on why I wanted to meet Zoe…I first learned about them at my friends’ wedding. Kayla and Nick Olle are area directors for Special Olympics and both are incredibly passionate about their athletes and Special Olympics as a whole. One of their athletes was hired by Zoe and when Nick and Kayla got married, they knew their dessert had to be from Stir It Up Bakery. They had a variety of cupcakes at their wedding and they were absolutely decadent and delicious!

One of the first things Zoe and I talked about was the statistic she learned, that 70% of people with disabilities are unemployed. (WHAT!?) Zoe, who has always been an entrepreneur and passionate about working with those with disabilities knew she needed to do something about that number. When she was ready to get started she entered an entrepreneur contest and won $5000 to start making Stir it Up a reality.

Photo by Alicia Magnuson Photography

Zoe started the bakery in her parent’s kitchen. The Cottage Law allows a person to legally bake and prepare certain foods in their home kitchens and sell them on a small scale, typically at farmers markets and direct to other consumers. She felt this was a relatively easy way to begin and did not require a lot of investment to start. She hired her first employee, Kyle, and they started selling their cookies, namely their staple Monster cookie, at West Michigan Miracle League on Saturdays. Very quickly, their cookies became very popular and they found themselves needing an oven that baked more than a dozen cookies at a time.

Photo by: Jessi Holden

As their bakery grew, she was able to hire more people and expand their business. She shared with me that her goal is to provide a work environment that not only is safe but also highlights her employees’ abilities, skills, and talents. There’s a stigma out there about hiring someone with a disability. Zoe firmly believes with the right training and support, your most loyal and hard working employees could be someone with a disability, they just need to be given the opportunity to learn. She treats her employees like any bakery owner would. However, she understands the need for gentle reinforcement and that the learning gap may be a bit longer, but the reward is a win-win for all.

Photo by Jessi Holden

Zoe also shared her advice and experience with entrepreneurship. She say’s in order to be an entrepreneur, you have an idea and you go with it. You learn as you go and sometimes the business doesn’t work out…but sometimes it does. She shared that Stir It Up is not where she wants it to be (yet!) and that the sky is the limit. From owning their own store front (they still rent out of a commercial kitchen) to the Stir it Up Bakery business/model expanding across the nation.

Currently, if you want to purchase any of these cookies or desserts you can place corporate orders on their website, visit them at their next Pop Up shop (find announcements for these on their social channels Facebook, Instagram), or visit the Bridge Street Market in Grand Rapids where they have their only wholesale items sold right now. She shared that Bridge Street Market has been very kind and supportive to them and other small, local businesses.

(Disclaimer not really a disclaimer: These cookies were purchased by me because I support this business, this was not a paid advertisement)

As for me, I’m going to go eat the rest of this monster cookie! If you visit them, let me know by tagging them and me in your next Facebook or Instagram post. Cheers!

Our Wedding Story

I decided now that we’re almost 6 months past the best day of our lives, I would do a little recap here on the blog. Get ready, it’s about to get lovey dovey.

To start, we wanted our day to represent who we feel we are as a couple. When we saw our venue, Warehouse 6, for the first time we left there knowing that we had to make it happen. Warehouse 6 is connected to Cento Anni which crafts all handmade wood products including the tables that the wedding venue uses. In fact, we’re waiting for a coffee table to be made for us from Cento Anni! One of our family members/family gave us a certificate for them as a wedding gift so that we could have a piece of furniture in our home to always remind us of our special day. I’ll be sure to share it on Instagram when it’s done!

We had been dating for four years and it got to the point where I thought every moment was IT…then he said, I’m NOT doing it this year! Turns out he stuck to his word and proposed day one of 2018

After Steve proposed on New Year’s Day, not at midnight, but in the morning when we had some quiet time together in our PJs …it was nothing short of perfect. Fast forward to August 11th 2018 and we got married on an incredibly hot day when everything happened in slow motion. Most people told me to savor the moments and that it would be over in a flash! I feel lucky to say, we felt like our day went by sweet and slow.

It started at my house, Steve stayed at his best man’s house, and I woke up incredibly early with my friend Kari (also our hair and makeup artist) who is THE best to have woke with me (I really think it was 5am or earlier). She started hair and I set out breakfast food and loads of coffee. Some of my girls were staying with me (and also got up incredibly early) and the others got there throughout the morning. Steve moved our TV into the area we were getting ready in and set up the dvd player with Parks and Rec. Perfection!

Lots of coffee, smiles, talks and the sweetest thing started happening. Steve arranged a gift chain for me from each of my girls. They started with a candle & lighter with my favorite scent, calming putty, my favorite candy (sugar babies), a comic about love, a shot + a mixer (for now), a sour and awesome beer (for later), and a love letter. Steve knows that I value words and so for his final gift to be a letter of how he was feeling that day meant the world to me.

We rent an apartment within a house (where no one occupies the downstairs) and our landlord Abby said we could use the whole downstairs for getting ready. This was SO nice because I was so calm being home all morning <3

After a little rush to get to the venue, makeup still being done, me running around in my lil robe, family starting arrive, and definitely eating (I was NOT gonna go without eating this day)…it was time to get my dress on. The day still went slowly but I’m pretty sure I power walked to the location where Steve was waiting for me at Windows on the Waterfront. Our photographer, Sydney Marie Photography, captured our first moment together, his first word was, WOW and pictures ensued from there.

After photos were done, I hid away in the kitchen and the caterers gave me rolls to calm the nerves/jitters. I did not really want everyone to see me before it was time. Early on during planning I didn’t think I cared too much about that, turns out I did. So I hid! But quickly things began to happen, my dad & mom were crying and I could not hear the music I spent forever picking out. I couldn’t see the decor and the chairs and even the hops/vines we had up…all I could see was Steve and feel my parents smile as they let me go to him.

Our friend Austin was our officiant and he spoke about us in a way that I don’t think anyone else could have. He talked about our lives coming together and the community of people we have. At that moment I looked out at everyone and felt an overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude. We spoke our vows and Steve got some pretty hysterical laughs AND everyone applauded. I said, “Okay well I better get applause too!” (Side note, I did). We poured a ceremonial beer from Grand Armory, their Nutter Your Business (a peanut butter porter) and Mother Schmuckers (a raspberry ale) and we FORGOT to take a sip together. I have to laugh because we did mean to sip it but we just stared at it and waited for the part where we could kiss.

The funny thing is that we wanted a group shot of everyone in our party to have a can of beer…turns out some people got thirsty ahead of time so these are two empty cans that were left!
I don’t remember what I drank but thank you Big Lake Brewing!

Afterwards, Steve and I got to sneak away to Big Lake Brewing Co with our photographer and get a beer. This felt like us because trying new beers is a favorite hobby of ours, except this time we were looking way fancier than normal. We went back and did our entrance, listened to some of the best speeches ever from my sisters, my maid of honor, the best man, and my dad…again I looked at everyone and felt incredibly lucky. Steve had one more surprise which was an incredibly delicious beer that the two of us could enjoy. If you haven’t noticed yet, craft beer was a theme which you’ll see in the photos below.

Steve’s dad grows hops so he chopped them down and they put them up behind our alter, I LOVED this touch
My sister Kelsey designed everything that was a sign or on paper for us
Where our real baby’s breath came from was awesome and we got SO much extra which lead to extra bouquets
Against each donut stand was a card that says “He Loves…” or “She loves…” because….and Steve and I filled in the blanks for each other.
I was pretty adamant that no matter what, I was GETTING these balloons. Best $40 ever.
We collect six pack holders and growlers, etc. We filled them with fake baby’s breath and pretzels!

We brewed our own beer for the wedding and Steve’s dad brewed some as well! His neighbor also made us a mead (see the sign below for our clever names!) and between these personal touches, the way our decor came together, the donuts we set out for dessert…everything was perfect. Without our families, this dream wedding would not have happened.

My sister’s a graphic designer so she made all our signs and my mom made these bottles with tons of photos of us all around the venue

I cried through all the first dances – I cry even now just thinking about them – and there was one point in the night where I asked Steve…this has been amazing, what time is it!? My body said midnight but it was actually only 8:30! This set the mood for our honeymoon because we made sure that no matter what day or time it was, we said, “it’s ONLY Monday” or “it’s ONLY 8:30.” I think this made the last couple hours of our day go slowly and our honeymoon seemed to stretch on and on.

We didn’t want cake (except for cake donuts) but did share some cheesecake for just us
We danced to, Bright by Echosmith as our first dance

All in all, I can say that our final song, “Wild Fire” by John Mayer gives me a feeling of hope to this day as I’m sure it will years from now. Even our best man had to sit down to take in that moment and just allow those emotions to get out! Everything about our day went so spectacularly which wouldn’t have happened without the community of people Austin reminded us of. I cannot t thank them all enough and I can’t wait to see what is to come.

Let me know if you have more detailed questions 🙂 Tell me, what’s something you hope for your future wedding day? Or what was your favorite or most memorable part if you’re already married?

Cheers!

35 Ideas for Two without Food

If there’s something I understand, it’s the feeling of knowing you have food at home and plenty of things you could do at home, but choosing to eat out instead. For me, this starts to take a toll on my body and my checking account. How DID my credit card bill get so high last month!?

Truly, there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to go out every so often except that it can cause people to struggle internally between wanting to eat healthier and not wanting the other person to feel, “deprived.” First of all, yes you can make healthier choices when you’re eating out and no you do not have to. Judging yourself for what you do choose will only continue a guilty cycle that ain’t fun for anyone. Secondly, you don’t have to sacrifice something you want to work on just to please someone else. Go out with someone because you both want to, you’ll enjoy it SO much more.

When I first met Steve, he used to eat out 3-4 and maybe more days a week. As we got more comfortable, we started cooking more together and he would remark that he felt better eating more home cooked food. We still have the, “but we have food at home” argument but now we try to make our nights and weekends full of intentional activities to reduce the amount of times we go out to eat.

Talk about finding something to do instead of eating out! Hiking is a favorite of ours…especially when we’re on vacay in Colorado 😉 Do bring snacks and water though!

I rounded up 35+ of our favorite things to do around the house or town. You can read any of them as oh great, a board game…OR read it as let’s have a game night and turn on fun music, set the stage with lighting and let those imaginations run wild. Enjoy!

Board Games(for two) we love:

  • Carcasson – this game is simple, easy to travel with, competitive and fun. Using tiles, you’ll build cities and claim land. Their instructions are straight forward unlike other games I’ve tried to learn.
  • Forbidden Island/Desert/Sky – these are all variations of a cooperative game that is SO fun. In Forbidden Island you’ll work to obtain artifacts before the island sinks. In Forbidden Desert you’ll want to sift through shifting sands before the sun rises and dries you up. In Forbidden Sky you have to rebuild circuits and actually not miss your ride on a rocket. They are all super fun and if you one of you dies, the game is over. Hello, teamwork!
  • Pandemic – Similar to the ones above, this is a cooperative game where you’re working to find cures for diseases before outbreaks occur across the world. Easy set-up and again, straight forward instructions which is important to me with board games.
  • Bonanza – This game may cause feuds so…you’ve been warned. You’re looking to plant and harvest beans for money (not cooperatively) and get the most coins to win. However, each turn there’s a chance to barter and trade beans with your opponents.
  • Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle – If you love Harry Potter you should already have this game, how true of a fan are you anyways!? But if you don’t have it yet, you want it. It’s a 2-4 person deck building game where you’ll play through each book, gain skills/spells, and battle all of the bad guys. Careful though, you can get to book seven and still lose completely. Steve and I have only beaten the game all the way through twice.
  • Ticket to Ride – a competitive game where essentially all you do is collect like-color train cards and go from destination to destination before someone else takes your route.
  • Codenames – You can play with 2 or more people but if it’s just you two, it’s still fun! A grid of cards with words on them will be laid in front of you. You have to get the other person to guess what card you want them to identify using ONE word. You can say, guess 3 cards and the word is _____. Trying to string together three unlikely words using one descriptive word can be difficult. We like the new “adult” version we got for Christmas 😉

Video Games (for two) we play:

  • Pokemon Let’s Go
  • Mario party
  • Super Smash Brothers
  • Kirby – any kirby game
  • Mario – any duo mario game
  • Mario Kart
  • The latest game systems are great but every once in a wile we bring out Super Nintendo, Sega and Nintendo 64 to change it up.

Other activities (for two) we do:

  • Sitting with candles lit, music on, fake fireplace on the TV and reading together (sharing a blanket, optional)
  • Meal plan together – I like it when Steve gets excited about a recipe, I almost always say YES let’s cook it. It helps me feel like we’re both making the choices for meals. Okay this one kind of involves food but only looking at food.
  • Pinterest/Phone game time – yea we like our nothing time and every so often we actually ask each other for it. We live in a small apartment so we are always in the same room and it’s nice to just do nothing together.
  • Go for a run/walk/hike/bike ride – I’ve run a couple of full marathons and a good number of half marathons. Steve is signed up for his first half marathon for his 2019 goal!
  • Sign-up for something together – If you’re into running like we semi are, it can be very exciting to be working toward a common goal/race together. Remember not to compare yourself to each other, I had to learn this seeing as Steve is 6’7″ and his stride is naturally longer than my 5″4 and 3/4″ stride.
  • Sign-up for a new class – Steve and I haven’t really done this but finding a groupon for a new fitness class or arts and craft class would be a fun new adventure.
  • Couples work outs! We actually really enjoy Googling workouts we can do together at home. We make it eventful with fun music, sweat towels ready and a walk afterwards to cool down.
  • Pokemon Go app- No shame here, we love this game. We like that it has encouraged extra walks especially in the evening and it’s fun to boot. Not a lot of skill required.
  • Heads Up! App – we like this game when we don’t have much going on but want to play something on the spot without pieces to take out or set up.
  • Puzzles – When you want to take out 500-1000 pieces of cardboard and stare at them for a couple hours…I actually love puzzles so if you don’t mind all the pieces, go get a new one!

Our favorite shows right now:

These can obviously have food or drink included if you want, but when we pick a show together it gives us a relaxing thing to do and enjoy together.

  • Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee – great for 15-20 minutes of TV time and something that is very casual. Though this show generally makes me want coffee at 11 o’clock at night.
  • The Great British Baking Challenge – okay so I’ll watch this in one room and Steve will watch his show (Jessica Jones right now I think!) in the other. We’re “together” in our activity but separate in our specifics.
  • The Big Bang Theory – no spoilers please! We’ve been watching on DVDs and only just starting season 11.
  • Horrible Netflix movies for as long as we can stand them. This usually happens when we don’t know what else to watch.
  • Random comedian shows on Netflix too – this is what we usually turn on when we can no longer watch one of the really bad movies.

Other, other things to do:

  • Stargazing – get out where the light pollution can’t reach you, take a blanket or two with you, and pack up some hot beverage or soup. We did this at the beach one time and it was magical.
  • Find a seasonal activity – ice skating, sledding, or skiing is in right now for us Michiganders! Of course our favorite time since we live right by Lake Michigan is summer so we can enjoy the water…Steve’s tall and a lot of times ski resorts don’t have his size shoe.
  • Go back to your favorite playground and play hot lava. Of course maybe go to a playground where there aren’t a bunch of little kids you might accidentally knock over.
  • Run errands, aka go to Target and walk around just looking at random things and talking about how we’ll decorate our future home. Sometimes on this date though it’s best to leave the wallet hidden in the car.
  • Talk goals – have a night where you’re both dedicate to sitting down and talking about your future. We did this when we were in the midst of wedding planning…what did we want our wedding to look like? How about life afterwards? Five years down the road? Ten? We found it brought us closer to adult together and collaborate on what we want our life to look like.
  • Play any of the video games or board games I listed and build a fort to really bring back the inner child in you.
  • House work night – Go around the house and find small tasks and things you could fix together.
  • Go to a zoo! I love the zoo…it’s definitely not Steve’s favorite activity but it’s a fun place to walk around. Or better yet find a new place/path/park/trail to walk through.
  • Declutter – we really enjoyed decluttering our apartment and bringing some things to donate and others we’re selling online.
  • Think outside of the box – you might find something on Groupon or a class that you would never take on your own like rock climbing, snow boarding, or painting.
  • Clean out the freezer/pantry – how many meal ideas could you come up with if you BOTH cleaned out the food storage? This can help get both people involved in meal planning and not have it fall all on one person.
I opted out of the free beer last time I went but a lot of breweries partner with yoga studios to offer an inexpensive class in a different setting.

I know there’s even more ideas out there for things to-do without going out to eat, there’s also plenty of fun ideas to do at home involving food! I’ll share those at a later time, so tell me…what’s your favorite thing to-do that doesn’t involve food?

Cheers!