Saturday, June 28, 2014

Down to Earth

Deep down I know if I had to choose between the city and the country, I would choose the country every time.  The way my soul was made to thrive and find happiness surrounded by fields and trees and the sounds and smells of nature is just fitting for me.  But then again, I do also love the electricity of the city, the vibrancy of all the people and buildings, and the endless shopping, dining, and plays for me to enjoy.  

So fortunately no one is making me decide this choice today, but since it's summer time and the sun is shining more, I'm ready to be outside and soak up all this summer has to offer.  This past weekend myself, my husband, and my dad took a ride to Whistle Pigs Farm for pick your own strawberries.  It was the perfect setting with even more perfect strawberries.  

The task of picking your own food is very soothing to me and brings me down to earth-literally.  It's a way for me to appreciate how fresh produce is grown and then harvested, and then for me to eventually savor.  It is important for us all to be grateful for what our earth grows and lets us taste and enjoy.  Strawberry picking was a fun hour to bask in the sun, sample a few strawberries (I told the lady she should have weighed me before and after for pricing), and celebrate the simplicity of strawberry picking on a summer Saturday.  

I hope everyone takes a chance this weekend to get outside, enjoy the sun and beauty of the days, and do something that will literally and metaphorically, bring you back down to earth.  Happy Weekend!


Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Reading List

I always loved getting my summer reading list at the end of school every year-Nerd Alert, I know.  But there was something about buying new books, taking the time to savor each one, and getting hooked on someone else's world I always looked forward to each summer.  I can spend hours in one place reading when I take the right book off the shelf, and I seem to want to be lost in the story of the book sometimes more than my own real life (isn't that the point of most books?).  And sometimes we all need that.  An escape from our present life and a chance to unwind and allow our minds to explore another experience and learn from an author's beautifully woven web of words.  I am forever the biggest fan of fiction novels, usually ones that either challenge my mind or put me at ease.  Either way, it is the first official week of summer, and I wanted to share my favorite books I've read so far leading up to summer.  This post is probably more geared towards the female audience, but both Prodigal Summer and Freefall to Fly are two amazing books to be shared by both men and women.  So find your favorite sunny or shady spot, pour yourself a glass of iced tea or iced wine depending on the time of day, and allow yourselves to open a new book and discover a new story.  All of these books can be found at 

The One and Only by the talented author Emily Giffin seems to be a top summer read on all book lists this year and with good reason.  It's written so well and it's wit and humor keep you entertained all day into the night.  

Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons is a book that will guides you through a woman's journey of finding her path and encouraging women to to believe in their purposes, no matter what they may be.  A quick read that will leave you earmarking more than just a few pages.  

I read Catching Air by Sarah Pekkanen in less than 48 hours.  Partly because it involves two couples owning a bed and breakfast (which I think I subconsciously want to do in life) and partly because it is such a good story with just the right amount of suspense and excitement.  The visuals created by her writing style allow you to truly feel a part of the story and give you a break from the rest of the world.  

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver is by far one of my favorite books.  I read this book for the first time when I was in high school and forever realized my life will eventually end up on a farm in the country.  If you love nature, country life, love stories, and the realization that this world is much smaller and more connected than we all usually see, than you will fall in love with this book too.  Barbara Kingsolver is my favorite author who has the ability to impact you with such power with her words on pretty much every single page.  This book takes three different people's stories from one county and stitches them together to make this book a very fast page turner and possibly fall in love with an inanimate object such as this book.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Healthy Neighborhood Bites

When I'm searching through my refrigerator and waiting for the perfect healthy snack to appear on my shelf, I am usually disappointed when it's not there.  I truly enjoy going grocery shopping to buy healthy foods and always have it in my best interest to turn them into delicious, fresh, low calorie meals and snacks, but sometimes the day gets away from me and before I know it I am reaching for the bag of chips or some cheese (aka the whole block).  

So when I know I am going to have a busy week or not enough time or energy to keep my own house stocked with clean and green food, I head out the door and only have to go a few miles, and I have multiple health food choices all locally made just for my hungry appetite. 

A new eat-in or take-out salad restaurant to hit the scene of the Back Mountain this past year.  And thank goodness! Hasn't everyone been wanting a place where you can go and create your own salad with any toppings you would ever want or not even know you want and have the most satisfying salad? Well then look no further because Red Leaf has given us this option. They use locally sourced ingredients whenever possible including lettuce from Rowland's Farm, which really is the most fresh and crisp lettuce I have ever tasted and many more fresh veggies to come as the summer season continues.  The team working at the store is just as awesome, putting in long hours to feed our community with a never ending supply of health benefits and happy and satisfied bellies.  Whatever you are craving in the moment, they can create, from a traditional garden salad, caesar salad, waldorf salad, tex mex salad, to my favorite salad of carrots, cucumbers, red beets, feta cheese, hard boiled egg, craisins, and some walnuts. No matter what kind of salad you want, it can be created at Red Leaf!

Canteen 900 always serves me some of my favorite lunches.  I'm a fan all their salads (minus the meats for me), and I love to build my own panini. It is always a treat for me to take an hour or two out of my day and take in the delicious food and vibrant atmosphere at Canteen.  Their staff truly delivers service with a smile and a great attitude-I think it is because you just can't be upset when you are always serving fabulous meals.  And when I want to be extra healthy they whip up a fresh fruit or veggie juice or a smoothie.  I'm in love (yes I think it's possible to be in love with a drink) with their beet, apple, carrot juice.  My go to smoothie is the peanut butter, banana, soy protein, and coffee for the perfect pick me up for a midday snack to keep your feeling energized for the rest of the day, and I have the wonderful chefs at Canteen 900 to thank for it!

My last choice is the newest to arrive on the scene for vegan/vegetarian fare that draws all people who are hungry for raw, flavorful foods.  They have created a space right in downtown Luzerne that has become a little mecca for delectable meals that are 100% raw, vegan, gluten free, and delicious.  I am a vegetation, sometimes vegan myself who is always searching for healthier, but still tasty vegetarian options, and it has been challenging to find in this area of NEPA.  But now only five minutes from my house is this wonderful place that keeps growing and inspiring the community to try new ways of eating while still enjoying the meal and staying healthy.  The owner and his team are taking on a new hurtle in the area and are sharing the struggles and especially triumphs with any of us lucky ones who makes time to stop in for a meal they will definitely be back for again! (Like my parents who are not vegetarians and ate both lunch and dinner every day their last week.)

I hope everyone checks out these local healthy places and is able to share their comments and feedback! 


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Father's Day Gift Guide

I was just reminded the other day that Father's Day is this Sunday. I'm usually on top of my holidays and have cards and gifts purchased weeks even months in advanced. But until yesterday I totally forgot about Father's Day. At first this makes me feel like a thoughtless daughter, but then I tried to give myself a little slack and realized I truly try to appreciate my father every day. 

I am the only girl of three children and have formed such a special bond with my dad . As a daughter reading this, I think we all find that soft spot in our fathers heart one way or another, creating memories that only fit in that space.  My dad and I have always been a good duo, working out together, traveling on spring break for every year in high school just the two of us, cooking in the kitchen, or just eating twizzlers and watching TV together.

No matter what we are doing together, my dad is always smiling, inspiring me to enjoy the journey and not rush to the destination. I am very lucky to have my dad in my life and that he always answers my 6:30am phone calls on my way to work with a jubilant good morning and encouraging words to help me through my day. 

He is a man who has truly allowed me to become my own person and appreciate being passionate about life. We all should take this day to remember the man or men who have allowed us to feel protected, loved, cherished, and encouraged. And it also doesn't hurt to give them a gift no matter how large or small to show them a concrete reminder of just how much you love having them as your dad. I chose some local options and ideas for gifts this Father's Day, but of course the ideas can be replicated anywhere in your own local shops.

For the man who can't get enough beer and wants to experiment with making his own. Beer Solutions in Wilkes-Barre has everything you need to make your first batch up right in your own kitchen.

Burlap and Bourbon is a mens store in Scranton and is newer to the downtown fashion scene and offers a great selection of casual wear from jeans to super soft cotton tees and sweatshirts. It has a great vibe and a very kind and energetic owner!

If your Dad is like mine he usually says he wants a hose or new work gloves for every gift.  So why not take it to the next level and get him a whole new gardening set of tools and gloves or an awesome hose reel that makes it so easy to move around your yard and wind up when your finished. Dallas Hardware is always willing to help you find what you need and can order many items for you as well.

For the price of gas and a packed lunch take your dad up to Rickett's Glen State Park to hike and see the beautiful water falls. It is a seven mile loop or you can shorten it to your desired distance and no matter how far you go, you will be amazed by such beauty so close to home. There are many places to stop and eat and take in the sounds of the water rushing over the rocks creating such a tranquil and peaceful setting. I recommend going earlier in the day to beat some of the crowds especially on the weekends.

Note Fragrances is a very unique fragrance boutique in downtown Scranton that is owned by a highly skilled and professional perfumer who is so graciously sharing her talent with the community. She has developed a one-of-a kind formula for a final product that will allow your senses to truly appreciate the art form of fragrances. Stop in and select a scent for your dad or even better, make a date with your dad and you both can create your very own scent.  The experience is very fun and allows you to experiment with an array of smells and aromas.

If your dad loves being outside and observing nature, a bird feeder may be the perfect gift. Sometimes bird feeders or bird baths don't seem like an item of need so treating your dad to a beautidully designed bird bath or a squirrel proof bird feeder is always a nice option.  All of these items can be found at Wild Birds Unlimited in Dallas, PA.

Happy Father's Day!


Friday, June 6, 2014

To the Core

I am forever attempting to keep my stomach bikini ready and hoping to look in the mirror one day and see defined abs. (Maybe I need a new mirror?) I know we all have our stories of struggle and what makes our stomachs feel a little flatter or what makes them look like we stuffed a loaf of bread under our shirts (it actually probably was that loaf of bread I ate to create such an illusion).  As I am getting older though, I am learning I don't just want the outward appearance of strong abs, I actually want inner strength in my core.  

That inner core is what connects our entire body and allows us to maintain an overall balance.  If you have ever tried to do a workout move involving just your arms or just your legs, if you focus on your abs you will realize they are always engaged.  That core is keeping our bodies stabilized.  Using our core to stand up straighter and take a few extra deep breaths is essential in literally holding all of us together.  

So on the days when you just don't feel like moving or don't have the time for an hour long sweat session, take 15 minutes to go through these ab exercises below once, twice, or even three times if you're feeling ambitious.  Usually if we are strong and feeling empowered on the inside, it will resonate to what is exposed on the outside.  So check out these ab moves I have almost come to love and have found to be exercises to challenge and strengthen our inner and outer cores.  

My leggings are designed by Me2roo who has an incredibly talented artist and designer who created a brand that is woman friendly for all sizes while still maintaining an awesome style and the most comfortable fit.  These leggings are available across the country in many health and fitness centers or can be purchased online at  You will feel SO good when you put these leggings on, you will not want to take them off!  The yoga mat I am using is a Jade yoga mat and is awesome. It's sweat proof and provides great support. They can be found online or locally at Balance Yoga Studio

Perform each exercise for 15 reps and repeat this routine 2 to 3 times through.  


Start in a seated position with your legs making a v-shape and your abs engaged, shoulders back. As you lean back also straighten your legs. You should feel this in your entire core. 

Russian Twists

 Stay in the v-sit position and twist from side to side. Hold on to weights for an extra burn. 

Leg raise and crunch

 Lay back flat with arms behind your ahead. Lift your legs up at a slight angle. Straighten your legs, toes pointing towards the sky and crunch up. 

Side plank and dip

 Get into a side plank position and then lower your side towards the mat. Repeat on other side. 

Plank with Tummy Tuck

Start in a plank position. Bring your knee towards to the same side elbow. Alternate sides for a goal of 15-20 reps.  


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Art of Relaxation

It’s half way through the week and even though I have a wonderful week of vacation starting in a few days, I know it’s time for me to take a few extra breaths and unwind. Stress creeps up on all of us in so many different forms and often hides itself discreetly in our shoulders, our jaws, our skin, and in our minds. It is a creature we all would like to have the solution to control and keep at bay, but it has a funny way of cementing itself in our every day lives. 

I can openly admit that I often find my stress expressing itself in the form of overeating, exhaustion, and I hate to admit it, but some times anger. It is so easy for me to believe that an extra piece of chocolate cake or skipping my work out to watch television is going to melt my stress away. However, I have found this method to not work so well (most of the time). I am learning the better medicine to treat this stress is to get up with a smile, go for a run, give my body some healthy nutrients it needs and deserves, and count my blessings before I scream. I am practicing this method almost every day and am yearning to make it a daily habit and part of my normal routine. 

I know I like to believe I don’t sweat the small stuff and have an overall balance in my daily life. Some days I do, but some days I can’t see past the fog of tension and tiredness and all I can do to get through it is let it take over me. 

We all may have our own ideas on what will take the stress away, but one quick fix (we all love these kinds) I like to make for myself is at home scrubs I can keep in my shower or next to the tub to literally scrub away the stress on my body and refresh my mind. These scrubs most of you will be able to make by searching through your kitchen cabinets or just by a quick run to the grocery store. I am always looking to find the next best beauty product to work, but sometimes you will find you can create it yourself. Take an evening to use the Relax scrub and breath in the aroma of lavender as your mind and body slowly release tension. Start your day fresh with the Awaken scrub to get that extra whiff of coffee without even taking a sip. And after a long day at work or a day spent in the sun, use the Glow scrub to refresh and nourish your skin while still feeling bright and clean. I hope you all enjoy these scrubs as much as I do and please share any tips or new ideas you create as well!

1/2 cup coconut oil 
2 cups lavender epsome salt (Dr. Teal’s is great and you can find in most drug stores)
1/4 cup dried lavender 
2 tsp of lavender oil

1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup raw sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw-most grocery stores carry this brand)
1 lemon zest and juice 
1 tsp lemon oil

1/2 cup coconut oil (Spectrum Coconut Oil for Body is awesome-Amazon carries the whole line)
1 cup raw sugar 
1/2 cup ground coffee