Highlights of 2015


Have you ever gotten tired or bored of a hobby that you once loved?  For example, I used to LOVE yoga, and I regularly practiced it too.  Eventually, though, I became tired of it.  I probably tried to force myself to do yoga for a while though because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to do yoga.

It just sounds so hip, healthy and flexible!  And it gives you an excuse to wear stretchy pants everywhere which is a very good thing.

Alas, you can only force yourself to do yoga for so long if you are not really feeling it.  I eventually stopped doing yoga, and I had not done it for six months or so.  Which is totally fine!  There are other fun ways to be active…dancing, running, walking, unwrapping chocolate bars to eat.

But today, I surprised myself.  I woke up and rolled out the yoga mat for a little twisty sweaty pretzel time.  Why?  Because I wanted to.  It felt right and natural again.

Isn’t it cool how some hobbies (and some people too) always find a way back into your heart in an easy, organic way?

I spose you could say blogging has found me again too because here I am!  And I am excited to share with you some highlights of 2015.

The biggest highlight of 2015 thus far has been my two-week trip to North Dakota and Minnesota to visit my boyfriend, Mark.  As promised to my family, here is a recap of some favorite memories from my adventures in this flat winter wonderland.

Our trip started off with something really fun…A WEDDING! One of Mark’s best friends from college was getting married, and Mark was an usher in the wedding.  The night I arrived in North Dakota, Mark and I met a bunch of his best college friends (most of whom were also in the wedding!) downtown for some pre-wedding fun.


This is one of my favorite memories from the trip because I finally met some of Mark’s best friends.  Long distance relationships are interesting because I hear so much about people and places without ever seeing or meeting them.  I am very happy to finally know the men that Mark speaks so fondly of.  I would be totally lying if I didn’t admit that I was pretty nervous to meet them all at first.  I am not a huge fan of being the center of attention, but it was hard to feel shy when these people were so kind, warm and hilarious.  P. S. Thank you Cory for teaching us all the “stanky leg” dance. :)

Another great memory was a sushi lunch date with Mark’s twin sister Brooke.  Sushi.  Wine.  Good company.  Not much more needs to be said to explain why this was a great time, eh?  We ate at a little place in Fargo, ND called Wasabi, and we all loved it.  After eating the perfect amount of miso soup, sushi and wine, we walked around downtown Fargo.  One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to explore local shops downtown so I was happy happy.


White wine for Brooke.  Pink wine for me.  And red for Marky.


We each chose a roll to order, and this portion ended up being the perfect amount for three hungry people!  We ordered a caterpillar roll, spicy tuna roll and, Mark’s favorite, the broken heart roll.  The broken heart roll is very yummy…how could it not be since it is fried and covered in spicy mayo?  Hehe.


In general, just spending time with Mark’s sister Brooke was a huge treat for me.  When we were all in high school in Montana, I got to see Brooke all the time!  Since we have gotten older and gone to college in different places, though, it has been a rare occassion when Mark, Brooke and I are in the same place at once.  I am so thankful for some quality time with this sweet girl!  We did manage to make it outside for a run one day; to my surprise, I didn’t spend every second of this freezing cold jog cursing my choice to leave the warm, comfy couch.  Apparently, when you wear four shirts and a monky hat, anything is possible.


Let’s not forget about the abundance of road trips during this trip, too!  Mark, Brooke and I drove back and forth from Grand Forks, ND, Fargo, ND and the twin cities in MN in order to spend time with all the family and friends we wanted to see.  We spent a lot of time in the car but we made the most of it by listenting to the new Taylor Swift CD and lots of OULA music.  I have always enjoyed riding in a car, looking out the window and listenting to music so I couldn’t complain :)


Our time in the cities was where some of my favorite memories were made.  It was so nice to spend quality time with Mark’s mom since I have not gotten to know her very well up until now.  We had many delicious meals, good conversations and we even went to the Mall of America.  Pictured below is the giant theme park located in the middle of the mall.  We thought about buying tickets for the roller coaster, but never actually did it…maybe next time!


Oh!  And I finally got to go to a Trader Joe’s store.  My intense and dorky love for all things having to do with food make grocery shopping a very intriguing and excitiing activity.  I could spend forever just looking around at the different types of food.  Reading the nutrition facts on products I haven’t seen before.  Lord help me.


Speaking of food, Brooke and I enjoyed making Oreo truffles with Mark’s mom.  They were so easy and yummy!  All you have to do is finely crush a package of Oreos (we used a mini food processor).  Then you mix the Oreo dust with one 6 oz package of cream cheese.  When the Oreo dough is rolled into small balls you dip them in chocolate and, if you’re feeling feisty, you sprinkle them with crushed peppermint before popping them in the fridge to firm up.  The easiest truffle ever!

No one panic.  It’s safe to say I got my fair share of chocolate during these two weeks :)


After spending some time in the cities, Mark and I made our way back to Grand Forks where he lives and goes to school.  Since Mark has no family in Grand Forks, it was just the two of us and we really enjoyed having a few quiet, low-key days in the midst of all the family time.  One of my favorite things we did in Grand Forks was our coffee and checkers date.  There is a super cute and cozy coffee shop called Urban Stampede in Grand Forks where we could get yummy drinks, stay warm, look at local art work, and I could beat Mark at checkers until the cows came home.  Board games at coffee shop dates are such a fun, inexpensive time that we always look forward to :)


There is lots more I could write about.  But, to be honest, my brain is tired of writing and my fingers are tired of typing.  And you are probably ready to stop reading about my obsession with food and Mark’s poor checker skills.  I understand.  image

To wrap up this post, I want to end with a new favorite quote.  I came across this quote while reading a book titled Hold Me Tight at a Barnes and Noble in Fargo.

“Love is everything it’s cracked up to be.  It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.  And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, your risk is even greater.”

This quote is powerful because it points out that loving deeply often requires courage. And risk taking too.

It is also encouraging because it advocates that taking the risk to be honest and open in your relationships is a worthwhile choice.

That’s the essence of why this trip has been a highlight for me.  I was blessed with many opportunities to be brave by opening my heart and sharing my honest thoughts.  And brave love is a recipe for beautiful connection with each other.

Plus I got to eat a lot of good food :)

What are the highlights of 2015 for you so far??



Glowing Skin Smoothie


How are you?!

Let me just say that I have missed blogging so much.  Luckily, I am currently on spring break from my second semester of my junior year of college, and I am hoping this means I have some spare time to spend sharing stories, recipes and laughs with you all. :)

For my spring break, I am spending some time in my home town of Billings, Montana.  After a fun weekend with friends in Bozeman, today was my first full day in Billings and it was great!  I started off the day with a jog in the rain and a short walk with my sweet baby girl Lizzie.

Just look at that face.


After some fresh air, I was craving a smoothie!  Which brings me to my next point: The Glowing Skin Smoothie.


This elixcer is magic friends, pure magic.  About a week ago I made it on a whim before heading to an OULA class and just a few hours after I drank it I noticed my skin had a healthy glow.  Or maybe I was just extra sweaty after class?  But maybe not because soon after class one of my sorority sisters said to me, “My oh my, why is your skin so perfect?”

Hmm…no one has ever said that to me before.  I’ve had a shiny forehead since the fifth grade so this was a shocking statement indeed.

Now I’m no doctor, but I’m convinced that the smoothie was a possible cause of my healthy skin glow.

When I made this smoothie, I couldn’t help but laugh because I felt like I was throwing every random ingredient I could find in my blender but I powered through and, man, am I glad I did.  The recipe goes a little something like this:

  • 1/2 cup of chopped, raw carrots
  • 1/3 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 small to medium sized orange
  • 1/2 ripe frozen banana
  • enough milk, almond milk or soy milk to get everything moving
  • ice

I know.

No, really I know!


Cucumbers and bananas in the same smoothie??

I know you think I’ve lost my marbles but have a little more faith than Lizzie and just try it :)!


And when you do, make sure you are using a quality blender or you might end up with banana cucumber salsa…and nobody wants that.


People may flatter you excessively with comments about the beauty of your skin after consumption of this drink.  Keep your cool.

On that note, I’m off to enjoy a day of catching up on homework, walking my dog, taking an OULA class and spending time with the family.  Let me know if you try the new smoothie :)

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Things I’m Loving Friday!


How’s it hanging?  Who is excited for the weekend?  What are your plans?!  AH So many questions!

So…I’ve noticed a trend among bloggers lately.  Friday is the day to make a big list of everything you’ve been loving lately.  And today is the day I jump on the band wagon!  So here we go, enjoy this little diddy about what is stealing my attention, time and love these days.


Biscoff Spread.  Holy smokes.  I mean, really, HOLY SMOKES.  Have you guys tried this stuff??  It is basically a jar of cookies that somehow got magically changed into a smooth, thick, cookie spread.  I’m sure it is really, really good for us.  Kind of like eating a salad.  I just don’t think I’ll be able to say enough to convince you how good it is.  So just get out there and try it.



Bean Cookies.  I really and truly am obsessed with this new and insanely easy, delicious creation.  The idea behind a bean cookie is that you replace the flour with a bean (garbanzo bean, black bean, ect.) and then you blend the smooth, velvety beans with everything good in life (nut butter, honey, chocolate).  The first time I made a batch of these I ate so much dough that I probably ate enough bean cookies to feed a few football teams SO the second time I made them with a friend which forced me to eat a socially acceptable amount of cookie dough (enough to feed a few football players).  Problem solved.  Click here for my chocolate chip garbanzo bean cookie recipe and keep an eye out for black bean brownie bites!




Weddings.  I am thrilled to announce that two of my best friends are getting married in the next couple of summers (Congrats Lauren and Corrie!), and observing their planning has set my wheels a turnin’.  It is a lot of work to plan a wedding!  So it only seems logical to start planning now.  Yes, now as in before engagement.  You don’t need a finace to decide what color of bridesmaid dresses you want and to decide whether you enjoy cream cheese or buttercream frosting more, no sir, you just plan away.  I mean I need something to think about when I’m folding my laundry.  What I am saying is that everyone should start planning their wedding right now.  No matter how single you are.  Just get a move on.  Your future self will thank you.  And man oh man does folding clothes go faster!


Ombre Wedding Cake | 27 Ideas For Adorable And Unexpected Wedding Cakes


Finally, I am obsessed with Jenna’s recipe for peanut butter cookies.  They look incredibly delicious and simple!  Basically, they are a disk of baked butter, brown sugar and peanut butter…sounds legit to me.  Click here to see her recipe!  She didn’t dip hers in dark chocolate but I think it is an okay idea ;).




My plans for the weekend include driving up to Seeley Lake to watch my best pal Hal run her third half marathon!  After the race we will spend the night at her family cabin.  I’m really excited!  My only expectations are that I get to do a little baking, a lot of giggling and that I am relaxed as my sweet babe Lizzie pictured below.  I hope y’all are too.  Happy weekend!!



How I Became an Instructor of the Funnest Workout Ever

Hi there!

Big surprise in store today.  I don’t have a recipe involving nut butter, oats, chocolate, oats, spinach, bananas or uhm…well…that’s all I ever eat.

Instead, I want to share a recipe for success :).

This post is all about my personal recipe for success in becoming an OULA instructor a.k.a. confident in my ability to dance, sing, yell, smile and inspire a group of people through movement, music and community.  I am so excited to share the ways this journey has changed my life and been an all around great decision.  It was so great of a choice that it is comparable to when I bought a pair of Chaco sandals or when I made the switch from Skippy to natural peanut butter.  I know, right?  The good stuff.


When I try to think of when and where this beautiful, sweaty, smiling mess all started, I think back to the first time I ever visited Missoula.

In the hot heat of summer before my senior year of high school, my friend Bethany and I came to Missoula for a tennis tournament.  At this point in my life, I was 99% positive of two things: that you should never wear a tennis skort without underwear and that I was really great at tennis.  So it’s safe to say that it my heart broke a little when I got crushed at my first match in this Missoula tournament.

When I finally finished blubbering after my embarrassing loss, my vision cleared up quite nicely and I thought, “Wow!  Maybe it isn’t the end of the world, because this here Missoula place is pretty neat.”

Like a sweaty, middle school girl on her first date, I fell in love fast with Missoula.  All it took was that one weekend for me to know that it was where I was meant to be for my college career, and when people asked my why I chose the University of Montana it was hard to explain because I couldn’t quite articulate the  magnetic pull of this eclectic city.

I just knew that my heart and soul was incredibly attracted and drawn to Missoula.  So kind of like how I am very attracted to Daniel Radcliffe and I can’t explain that either…wow.  Is it hot in here?  Back to Missoula!  Alright, yes, the great food had a lot to do with my instant love (the farmers market, the Good Food store, the awesome local bakeries within biking distance of the college campus, white mint Oreo ice cream at The Big Dipper…drooling on my keyboard).  But it was more than just the food (I swear!).  There was something magical about Missoula that dared me to come and explore.  After two and a half years of college, I fully believe that OULA was one magical part of Missoula that I was meant to find.


Fast forward to my sophomore year of college.  I can remember reading the group fitness schedule at my gym, seeing OULA on the schedule and wondering what the heck that was supposed to mean.

OULA….was it a typo for a Hula class?!

No, wait that’s not right, was it a hula hoop class?  Gee, I hope so because the lady pictured below sure is having a blast!

Unfortunately I didn’t own a grass skirt or a hula hoop so I stayed away from that strange, typo of a fitness class.  Until my sorority sister, Jeni, told me that OULA was not a typo but a dance fitness class where participants danced to fun, sexy, sassy, silly top 40’s songs.

In response I probably said: “OMG what?!  I love dance fitness classes!  All I listen to is top 40’s hits.  Sign me up this instant!”  I could not wait to try an OULA class once I figured out it didn’t involve grass skirts or spinning hoops.

I so wish that I had strong memories about the first OULA class I ever took but I do not.  And this is coming from the girl who will ask her boyfriend, “Do you remember our first Valentines date five years ago?  ME TOO!  Do you remember what I was wearing?  Oh, well it was that cute pink dress with….”  Mmm-hmm I am that girl.

What I can clearly recall, though, is the intense excitement I felt about OULA classes.  I was out there boppin’ around with my long uncoordinated limbs, twisting an ankle here and there, trying to drop it like it’s hot and I just couldn’t stop smiling.

OULA intrigued me because I loved how  I was exercising and smiling at the same time.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t find myself smiling very much in the weight room or sitting on the stationary bike.  Unless the song Baby Got Back is blasting through my headphones…then I can’t help but grin regardless of what I’m doing.  My point is that before OULA most of my workouts were about smiling after it was over.  Ahem, cross country meets ;).

But exercising with OULA was different than a sweaty forty minutes on the bike or running laps around the indoor track like a hamster.  I looked forward to everything about OULA…the start, the process in the middle, the end and how I felt afterwards.  The combination of a workout that made me smile and laugh plus the fact that I had so much fun doing it made OULA my new addiction.

So now that we know how I found this crazy little program,  the next question is how did I transition from obsessed OULA fan to even more obsessed OULA instructor?

Let’s take it back about 8 years when I was in dance classes as a young girl.  Here’s a quick summary of this fun time: I was the girl the teacher stuck in the middle of the stage to keep her feet planted firmly still while moving her arms in a circle for the whole song.  I don’t know, maybe I was supposed to represent the sun at the center of the universe?  That’s kind of cool, right?

While it has been my dream to be a dance fitness instructor of some kind ever since I took my first Zumba class in high school, my experience in dance as a young girl made me very unsure if I was a good enough dancer.

The more OULA classes I took, the more I got exposed to the soul of OULA.  And it felt like OULA didn’t really care how ‘good’ of a dancer I was because our instructors always encouraged us to forget about how we looked and to focus on how we felt.  Hmm.  Well I felt like a million bucks when I danced OULA dances so I started to think that this whole instructor gig might be possible.

Now flash forward to an ordinary Wednesday night, about five months later,  in my sorority house.

Jeni, my fellow sorority sister who was an OULA instructor and also a wicked awesome dancer, shocked the heck out of me with the way she reacted to my idea of going through training to become an OULA instructor.

She was ecstatic and so excited that I was thinking about going through training.  She genuinely believed in me right from the start and this inspired me to believe in myself.


Now (sorry!) flash forward to the summer of my sophomore year of college.  I am a camp counselor at the best place ever, Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp; I am spending my break catching up on some emails and, let’s be honest, indulging in a little Facebook and Pinterest time because that is a rare activity when you spend 85% of your time playing in the dirt with kids.

I check my email and see a new reply from an OULA fitness address.

My stomach tightens and my heart races a little because I now remember how I had emailed the director of community engagement asking when the exact dates of the OULA training in October were.

Although it sounds strange to say since it was only August, my month of October was already booked.  I was planning and directing my sororities annual basketball tournament that raises money for our philanthropy so I knew if the OULA training fell on the weekend before or the weekend of the tournament that I have to wait until next year for training.

With sweaty fingers, I clicked to open the email.

October 18, 2013.

The training was set for the weekend after the basketball tournament ended.  I couldn’t believe it.  At this point I only had forty minutes left in my break so I sprinted back to my cabin, dug out my debit card, ran back to the dining hall, typed in my information and BOOM.  I was registered for training and officially on a journey to becoming an OULA fitness instructor.

The rest of the day was awesome.  I skipped back to the cabin, I smiled even more than I usually do at campfire worship and I told anyone who had a pulse that I was signed up for the OULA fitness training weekend!!!! ME! I am doing it yes sir I am!  No one knew what I was talking about but I didn’t care.

At the end of the summer staff party, I taught the summer staff the only OULA dance I could remember.  Kiss You by One Direction.  As it turns out, I was forgetting a ton of the moves, the ones I did know I did wrong but none of that mattered.  It was so fun to help a large group of people learn a fun dance and to see the joy in their faces as they laughed.  I couldn’t wait for October 18, 2013.

And man did it come up fast.

The three day training immersed me in OULA culture.  We danced an hour long class every day, we learned about what makes a magnetic instructor, we participated in a Flash mob at a lady GRIZ game, we made new friends, we practiced instructing and, at the end of it all we lead two songs for a small group of fellow trainees and established, experienced instructors.  Oh!  And the founder of OULA.  No biggie, right?

After my training weekend, I had three months to practice and learn and grow to the point where I felt ready to teach and submit a video of my audition class.

I had to put in a lot of work to grow, learn and improve as much as I needed to pass my audition class.  There were a few main quotes that got me through it all.  Naturally.

The first quote was this:

This experience required me to believe in this idea of having patience in my abilities to evolve.

The next quote was this:


I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times I drove around screaming the lyrics to Ten Thousand Hours by Macklemore in my car during the training period of becoming an instructor.  It’s really a miracle I didn’t get pulled over.  My experience training for an OULA certification opened my eyes to the power of putting in the work.  There was no magic pill, no book I could read, no prayer I could say to grow in some of the ways that I had to.  I had to put in the hours and every minute paid off.

And that’s all she wrote friends.

Believing in myself,

Determination and patience,

Practice, sweat, and more practice,

A kind, encouraging support system of friends, family and mentors that wanted to see me reach my goal,

And a whole lot of passion because I was absolutely smitten with the goal I was working towards.

That is my recipe for success in gaining an OULA fitness certification and beyond.

My prayer for everyone reading this is that you too find a goal or cause that is worth fighting for because it makes you feel alive.  That you follow the strange, magnetic, mysterious pull of what you love and that you take a risk to fight for something big.


I hope you are surrounded by people who encourage you to see all that you are capable of if you try.  May you find the light in your heart that will inspire you to believe in your ability to grow, to be patient with your progress, to humble yourself and soak up all the feedback you can from your mentors and teachers, and to throw all the heart, sweat and soul into your work and practice that you can.

I <3 OULA.  Check out this link if you want to get trained!  Go ahead, click here :)


And no matter what you go for, go big.  Ooh, and do not forget to wear your underwear if you ever find yourself in a skort.  Chafing is highly likely to occur.  Hehe.



Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Hi hi!

How doing today?

I am good good good as I am curled up on the couch with a warm fleece blanket relaxing before I head out for a day of work at my seasonal, holiday break job at JC Penney.  But I don’t have much patience today for small talk today because these cookie dough bites are slightly, nearly, maybe THE BEST THING EVER.



A reason I am so jacked about these is because I was very nervous to try this recipe.  I was sure they would be a flop.

Why?!  How could cookie dough bites be a flop??

Perhaps because these cookie dough bites contain chick peas.

No, it’s not like one little bean just slipped in the batter; actually, the beans are the main ingredient friends.

When I told my mom what new treat I was planning on making, she was not too keen on the idea.  No sir she was not.  “Bean cookies?  Why??  Ew.”

So I didn’t have much support in taking on this new adventure, but sometimes you just gotta shake it off and do your thang.  Haters gonna hate, eh?

And take a gander at how the dough turned out.  Can these really be all that bad?  I think not!


They are actually delicious, extremely easy and really good for you!  They’re basically just a ball of baked beans with chocolate!  Hurray!

I wish I could say I came up with this genius  plan all on my own but it would be a lie.  I modified my recipe from the Texanerin Baker.

Here is what you need!

  • 1 can or 1 cup chickpeas (I used the canned variety after draining, rinsing, and patting them dry)
  • 3 to 4 dried prunes (these were not in the original recipe but I through a few in for extra sweetness!)
  • 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt (keeps ’em moist!)
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (I used the old standby, Peanut Butter!)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup of oats
  • a dash of salt
  • one teaspoon vanilla
  • a dash of cinnamon (optional but adds great flavor me thinks)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup dark or semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

Here is what you do!

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Get out your food processor.
  • ***I’m sorry guys but this is one of those recipes that is “food processor necessary.”  I’ve heard rumors that it will break a blender since the dough is so thick.  If you are REALLY determined to make these without a food processor…….you probably can.  The key is to get those chickpeas into a smooth paste.  This could be done with a strong, powerful, high-speed blender (but be warned about the breaking!), with a strong hand mixer, or some serious fork mashing.
  • Put everything in the food processor.  Beans go first.  Next add the yogurt and prunes.  Next add honey, oats and nut butter.  And finally add your salt, vanilla and cinnamon.
  • Blend Blend BLEND until it is smooth like wine! Really, really thick brown wine.  Mmm.
  • Then stir in your chocolate!
  • Scoop out small balls of dough…about 1/4 cup each…and place balls on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 10 minutes
  • Let cool and enjoy :D


Now the original author of these little gems says they are not good cold.  She insists that they are always reheated a little in the microwave before eating.

Now I don’t know about this because, personally, I loved the dough and I don’t think they are half bad cold.  But then again I do also enjoy eating cold spaghetti sauce straight from the jar sooooooooo….can I really be trusted….


It’s hard to say.  But I do know for certain that these cookie dough bites are the best thing I have baked in a long time!  Not to mention they are a great treat for gluten-free friends.  They can be vegan too if you omit the yogurt for more chick peas or a vegan yogurt substitute!

Besides a hot batch of bean cookies, here is what’s new with me!

I’ve enjoyed a relaxing, refreshing holiday break from school at home with my family and friends.

I visited my boyfriend who lives in North Dakota and I made it out alive without freezing.  What a relief!

I am excited for a semester filled with classes that I am excited to take!  Think classes such as introduction to guitar, methods of teaching health enhancement, and maybe a painting class. :D

My heart is smiling because it is almost time to return to MisSOULa…my favorite.

Well, I’m signing off to start the day.  Take the plunge.  Put the beans with the chocolate.  Just do it.


Quote of the Day