Think Positive Monday: Gratitude Leads to Happiness

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(Think Positive Monday: sharing tips and keeping me in line to live a happier and more positive life)

If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?

What better week than the week of Thanksgiving to talk about gratitude?

There are countless studies showing that simply being grateful for what we have as well as showing gratitude towards others leads to overall happiness. 

This week and every week I try to pause and think about all the things I am grateful for. The big (a nice home, good health, a job, a loving family) and the small (flavored coffee, cheese, my best friend’s laugh, the way Maggie greets me when I come home). Sure, sometimes I forget and sometimes I’m just too stressed, upset, or plain selfish to be grateful every day. This needs to stop. 

By being grateful every day we are being more mindful, in the moment, lowering stress, connecting with others on a positive level, and generally leading a happier life. 

By looking for new things to be grateful for each day (even when things aren’t picture perfect) we are living a more full life, noticing how colorful and vibrant the little parts of each of our days really can be. Being thankful during hard times can help us move forward, adjust, or heal. By being grateful to our friends and family we showing them respect and love as well as encouraging them to continue acts of kindness to others. Both create a firm foundation for strong friendships. Grateful people are more inclined to do kind acts and give back to their community. Finally, it is hard to be negative when your mind is full of grateful thoughts. 

So after the last of the turkey leftovers are eaten and the scent of pumpkin is replaced by pine needles, I’m not going to stop being grateful. Some tips on fostering a grateful mind: pause a minute before you go to sleep to think of what you are grateful for today, start a gratitude journal, or tell a different friend each day why you are grateful for them. 

Don’t save gratitude for a special occasion or say something like, “I’ll be grateful once I get this promotion”. If you can’t be grateful for the present what kind of life are you living? Gratitude needs to happen consistently, like a vitamin you take daily. Try out an attitude of gratitude and see how your temperament and relationships change. What do you have to lose?

 

 

Celebrating a New Chapter!

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I had full intentions of coming here yesterday, on Monday, to start a brand new series that I”m very excited about. 

But, life got in the way. Like it does.

But it got in the way in a wonderful way. 

We have very exciting news to share from the MacDonald household. (no, I’m not pregnant).

Ryan has accepted a job offer for after he graduates from law school. He will be leaving the DA’s office behind and moving on to a new city and new experiences and I can’t wait to be part of the journey with him. 

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I’ve been a little quiet lately while we were in the midst of countless interviews and waiting time periods. We knew a move was most likely inevitable but had no idea where life was going to take us after law school.  

After months of stress, worrying and hoping, we now know where we will be come next year. 

I feel like I can breathe again. We are so very excited to start this new chapter of our life. 

Thank you for all the support!

Katie and Ryan

September at the Beach in Avalon

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This weekend was heaven – a pure recharge for the soul. It has been a rough past month for us, and I hate being vague like that, but not everything is blog worthy, and a weekend at the beach was just what we needed.

We traveled down to Avalon, NJ with my family. This is the town that I vacationed in as a very young child and it contains so many memories for me. 

September at the beach is a magical time.

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The sun is still warm, but the crowds are gone. Although you may need a sweatshirt on the beach, it’s still restorative and peaceful. I’m a devoted North Carolina beach girl – in favor of warmer water temps, wider beaches, no lifeguards, and FAR less crowds. However, New Jersey beaches also have their own beauty, and September really lets that beauty shine through. 

Just look at that sky – how can you look at that and not believe in hope? And that’s what we got this weekend. I much needed dose of hope. 

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End of Summer Punch Recipe

We’re headed off for a quick getaway to the beach for one of the last weekends of the summer. I’d thought I’d leave you with one of my favorite drinks to make for summer parties and get togethers.

I call it my Sweet Summertime punch. It’s easy to throw together last-minute, refreshing, and tastes just like summer.

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I was upset that the weather didn’t corporate for my photos. This punch deserves to be photographed on a lovely wide wrap around porch with crisp white wicker furniture and a sun shining down just so. I’ll never be one of those always perfectly photographic bloggers. What’s the fun in that anyways?

But even in the clouds, the drink will fill you with all the summer goodness. I love the pink color too.

Ingredients:

1 Bottle of Moscato

1 Bottle of Diet Sprite or Sierra Mist

1 Can of Pink Lemonade Frozen Concentrate

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Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a large pitcher. Serve ice-cold!

Enjoy!

Cheers and happy Friday!

 

katiedrink
 

 

Jamaica Part 1

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Hello mon!

We’ve returned from our Jamaican vacation. It was everything a vacation was supposed to be. We relaxed, we unwound. We drank and we ate. We bonded with family and got nostalgic over old stories. We tried new things and let loose. We opened our perspectives and remembered the important things in life. 

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For a week my entire family (89-year-old Pop-Pop, Clyde, myself and Ryan, my brother Eric and his wife Veronica, and my parents, Pat and Jim) stayed at the Secrets Saint James in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

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I simply have too many pictures I want to share, so I”m dividing up my Jamaica post into two postings. I know looking at vacation photos are low on many people’s list of fun, but I love looking at vacation and travel photos and learning about new places. 

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Secrets Saint James is an all-inclusive resort about 20 minutes from the airport. It’s connected with Secrets Wild Orchid and the two resorts share amenities and restaurants. 

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The grounds, the beach, and the pools were pristine and impeccably clean. It felt like heaven on earth. 

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We arrived on Wednesday morning. Upon landing in Montego Bay, full of excitement to get to the resort, we discovered that Southwest had lost my mom’s luggage. Even though we were on a direct flight from Baltimore….

After searching the airport for an hour and filing the necessary claims, we headed through customs with the hope that the bag would arrive later that afternoon. 

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We piled into a shuttle bus and began the short drive to the resort. This short drive was such a different experience than our honeymoon, when we stayed at Sandals White House a full hour and forty minute drive through the country and mountains. 

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Upon arriving at the resort we were treated like royalty. While sipping champagne and Red Strip we got checked in and showed around our area. Our family chose to stay in the “Preferred Club” section of the resort, which included a more private pool and beach area and a private lounge that had a buffet of food and a private bar available all day. 

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Since we had two semi handicap people, my 89-year-old grandfather and my foot surgery healing mother, it was nice to be in this smaller private section. 

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Our rooms were not quite ready yet so we headed to lunch by the beach. Once we were able to check in we were in awe over our rooms complete with a jet tub by the bed and another tub out on our ocean view balcony. 

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Thank goodness my mom packed a bathing suit in her carry on bag so that we could all head out to the beach and jump in the water. Heaven on Earth! I’ll let a few photos do the talking for me:

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Above is the sunrise view from our balcony. Sadly, my mom’s suitcase did not come that first day, or the next. Yep, it took three full days. One day for it to arrive in Jamaica. Another day for the airport to find the missing customs form that I filled out for her and a whole other day for it to be delivered to the resort. She was without any clothes or makeup, except for a bathing suit, cover up, and the black pants and t-shirt she were on the flight. It put a little damper on the first part of our trip, but after spending hours on the phone with the airport the problem was solved. 

If I had to hear “no worries mon!” one more time in regards to this incident..

Once her suitcase arrived we all celebrated with drinks at the pool swim up bar. The resort as a strict “no shot” policy but the bartender was convinced that my mom needed some extra celebratory fun and awarded us all with “little drinks”. It was a lot of fun!

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It was fun to try out the 7 different restaurants at the resort. The first night we went to the traditional Jamaican restaurant. The second night was Mexican night and the third night we celebrated at a seafood restaurant in the pool beach area. My mom was so happy to have clean and pretty clothes to wear!

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Ryan and I had a lot of fun on the Hobie Cat sailboats, we went out with a guide one time to refresh our sailing skills and then took it out again. Just lounging with my family in the pool was a blast. My Pop-Pop who usually never swims was so hot and relaxed he got into the pool AND got his head wet! This is the man who throughout every single childhood vacation to the beach he would never get more than his feet wet. Meanwhile his grandchildren are fish!

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Stay tuned for Part 2 later this week!

xoxo Katie

 

 

 

Spring Clothing Wish List

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Today I woke to the sound of snow melting off my roof and birds chirping outside my window. Yes, birds chirping! A sign of life! A sign of Spring! I’ve never been more ready to throw my winter boots into the back of my closet and say goodbye to bulky sweaters. I want to care about how I look again.

Yes, you heard that right. This winter I kind of let things go. Why bother when you’re buried under layers? Shaved legs? Done up hair? An outfit that could be considered an “ensemble?” Ha!  Somedays it felt like the only thing that mattered was “which scarf to where?” as that was the only thing people saw.

I’m ready to do my hair, experiment with new make up and wear girly dresses.  Are you with me?

I’m a shopaholic. I buy things when I’m stressed or sad or need a pick me up. In order to avoid us going to bankruptcy I like to “imaginary” shop online. I pick one store at a time and I give myself a hypothetical budget and then see how many things I can put into my online shopping cart. You may call this “online window shopping”. It relieves the some of my shopaholic needs and gets me excited to break out my spring clothes.

Here are my top picks for Spring!

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1. Wide Striped Pleated Dress (Loft)     |      2. Suede open flats (Old Navy)

 3. Floral Sequin Peplum Top (Banana Republic)     |      4. Embroidered silk top (Anthropologie)

5. Black and white with pink piping flare dress (Banana Republic)     |      6. Polka Dot Ankle Jeans (Express)

7. Laser cut lace dress (Antrhopologie)     |      8. Pleated Chiffon Maxi Dress (Nordstrom)

Loving soft, romantic, and whimsical looks like that Antrhopologie dress and shirt. Why is Anthroplogies always outside of my budget? Aren’t those red suede shoes adorable? I’m surprised they are from Old Navy- they’d look darling with the white and blue striped Loft dress.  Also blue everything!

What clothing items are you eyeing up for Spring?

xoxo Katie

 

“Skinny” Buffalo Chicken Dip

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You’re going to love this lighter version of Buffalo Chicken Dip! All the taste with half the fat. It’s perfect for this weeks Super Bowl Sunday!

As you can tell by my past recipe posts, I love creating/finding healthier alternatives to my favorite foods. During Superbowl parties, you’ll find me hanging out with my drink around the food. I’m just not a sports girl. I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried. I just can’t get into it and can never remember the rules. We all have our priorities. So before that turns into a completely different blog post, let me get back to this awesome dip!

Superbowl parties are often full of bowls of super unhealthy food (see what I did there?). Wings, nachos, dips galore, pizza, chili, cookies, and cheese cheese cheese! I’m left with stealing all the celery from the wings platter. Not anymore!

This lighter buffalo chicken dip is guy tested and approved and tastes amazing with fresh crunchy celery. So be the star of your party with this easy to make and crowd pleasing dip:

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Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1/2 cup  hot sauce(I use a little less because I can’t handle a lot of spice)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups (14 oz  raw) cooked shredded chicken

Directions:

1. Mix the first 5 ingredients together until smooth.

2. Add the chicken and put this in the crock pot on low for 3-4 hours.

3. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. It needs to sit in order to “firm up” a bit

4. Serve warm with celery or other veggies and tortilla chips.

Happy snacking!

xoxo Katie