Friday, April 11, 2014

Back to Blogging!!!

Finally back to blogging! The the start of the year was a not what we were expecting, to say the least! I noticed it was a lot of sadness, heart ache, and stress. Although we still had blessings coming our way, and wonderful things happening with our friends and family, I could still see the sadness and stress in the people around me as well as myself. We had two family members diagnosed with diseases. Through prayer one is in remission, and the other seems to be adapting okay. We also lost a dear friend on January 28, Brandon. He was one of the happiest people I knew. He always knew how to put a smile on your face, he was positive, and life of every party. I thought to myself, he would want us happy, smiling, having fun, celebrating...living life. Than I noticed my cousin Bethany had been posted pics and was #
100dayshappy. I thought you know what?? I need this, I need to be reminded of all the happiness that is around me, even if I don't feel it all the time. So I started the challenge April 3. I also noticed I wasn't the only one going through this and some of my friends, said hey what is this you are doing?! I explained and sent the link to them. 

Check it out: http://100happydays.com/

I encourage anyone that needs a pick me up or to start looking at the positive in life so try this out. I will post everyday via facebook or instagram but only blog about one or two pics a week. You are welcome to join me in this adventure and/or join the challenge. You in?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Money Saving Tip and A New Recipe

Hello all, 

Hope your new year is going well. A quick update on my 30 day challenge. The goal was to workout 30 minutes a day, read something inspirational (daily), one selfless act a day, and a 30 day photo challenge. I thought the easiest part would be the photo challenge as I love documenting everything!! However, it was the workout routine, since January 3, 2014 I have worked out a total of 532 minutes. That totals to an average of 29.5 minutes a day...my goal is to average 30 minutes a day, not to shabby! In the area of inspirational readings (daily), I decided to read a daily devotional bible my grandmother and grandfather gave me years ago. It was one of the last things my Grandma Bev gave me before passing away and I am only reading it now. It is going well. I don't have time to read it everyday with school work but I am only a few days behind, and it is has been nice to have me time. If you know me, you know I am constantly on the go....I like it that way but lately our lives have changed so I am enjoying the quiet time. Another great sense of relief has been the gym. Loving my oldie by goodie gym buddies and the new ones that have joined this year! It keeps the motivation going and boat season is only 92 days away. I will post the 30 day photo challenge at the end of the month. Lastly is the selfless acts, this was becoming a challenge as I see the same people Monday through Friday. So in an effort to uphold the challenge we have donated some furniture to family, clothes to City Mission and Laura's Home, and honestly just being kinder to others, even ones that don't treat me the same way. 

For today's blog I wanted to share a money savings tip with all of you and a new recipe. 

How to cut your grocery bill in half! For YEARS my husband has been telling me to shop at Aldi's. I was always apprehensive, kind of one of those...it's to good to be true...type things. Well now my mom and aunt are shopping there and they suggested it as well (I know I listen to my mom, crazy <rolling eyes>). We normally spend $200-250/pay at Giant Eagle or Heiniens and that is with coupons. It was becoming a bit much every month. So we decided to check out Aldi's in Macedonia. One word...SAVINGS! We bought double the food for half the price. My average grocery bill is now $120/pay...that's right it was cut in half! We are able to get meals for lunches, at least 8-10 dinners, snacks, and a few extras (such as dishes to bring to parties). The only thing I would NOT recommend there, is there queso dip, everything else is fresh, well preserved, and cheap. They don't have fresh herbs and or a wide variety of fruit. I recommend getting fresh herbs from the West Side Market (only a buck), or try your local farmers market. I prefer fruit from Farmers Market in Solon, but I am not always able to make it there. Check it out and let me know what you think. I can only recommend the one in Macedonia, I have not tried others. 

So with my new groceries I decided to make a healthy salad I found on Pinterest. I tweaked it a little and I think for the better :) Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 avocados (peeled, pitted, & cubed)
1-2 Steak tomatoes (cubed)
1/2 ball fresh mozzarella (cubed)
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. basil (dried, but fresh is always an option)
salt & pepper  to taste

Mix together and serve, it is also nice the next day for lunch. It may not look it but it is.  


*I used an image from online because I forgot to take a picture. Copyright image goes to: http://www.chefjenny.com/2012/02/avocado-tomato-mozzarella-salad.html

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words



The 30 day challenge is going well so far, I started this on January 3. In the last 6 days I have taken 4 pictures, done 3 selfless acts and worked out 130 minute. Soooo I am more on track than off track :) 

I wanted to share one of the pictures I put in my 30 day challenge, it is not from January but it is one that means a lot to me. It is a picture of my father in law and I. His name is John, (if you don't know him, I am sure you do because he talks to EVERYONE!!). John has been a great influence in my life over the past 10 years. I have told him this but not enough. He is one of the most selfless people I know. He cares deeply for his family. He is always trying to put others above himself. He babysits the tiny humans and fur babies of the family at the drop of a hat, he wants people to have a good time and will make sure of it. He is there for all his kids and their wives, if even just to listen to them complain or vent. He is a peacemaker, if there is drama on the horizon he is putting out the fires. He has a blast where ever he is, I took note of this on many of St. Patty's day adventures and PIB extrusions. If we need a ride anywhere he is willing to play DD. I know people say they have the best dad or FIL but I have to say John Fennell takes the cake in the FIL department. He has been more of a father figure to me than I could ever ask for. Love you John! 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

30 challenges for 30 days: Which ones would you choose?


Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a great New Year's day. We spent our first day of the new year with friends and family! The nice thing about our friends is they are family and our family is also our friends, well the ones that still communicate are haha. Its cheesy but it is the truth. I have said this for years. There is not a group like my No I will not be doing 30 challenges in 30 days but two of my aunts posted an article on Facebook last night about making new habits. I always like a challenge so I accepted this one. Here is the link to the article naming all the challenges.

http://www.marcandangel.com/2011/12/25/30-challenges-for-30-days-of-growth/

I decided to pick 4 challenges for the month of January. If I make it through all of these I will start 3-4 more in February...lets hope I can.


Every morning, watch or read something that inspires you. – Sometimes all you need is a little pep talk. For the next 30 days, before you eat breakfast, or leave the house, watch a motivational video or read something (quotation, blog post, short story, etc.) that inspires you.
    • This morning it was a bible scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:2 KJV: And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. To my understanding this means although you can have all aspects of Christianity down if you don't give back to others you have nothing. Even if you don't have a lot of money you can donate your time and compassion. You would be surprised how much it means to someone to just listen, or volunteer at shelter, or clean your closet out every month and donate to city mission, rehab centers, etc. If you have more....give it, you can't take it with you. A usually prayer over any donation that it is well received and goes to those in need.
Document every day with one photograph and one paragraph.– For 30 days bring a camera with you wherever you go. Do your best to take one photograph that represents a standout experience from each day. Then, before you go to bed each night, write one paragraph in a notebook or journal that highlights your day. If you do it all digitally you can unite your daily photograph and paragraph in one digital space (like a personal blog), which can be easily reviewed in the future.

    • There were two items from yesterday that I wanted to share for today. One was a video of my niece playing peek a boo with a jewelry catalog, and the other is a picture of a pair of slippers. It is not so much what is going on in the video or the image itself but the meaning of the two. It is our family spending time together, giving to each other, and loving one another. No matter how crazy it can get we all truly care and love one another. The slippers were a gift, its small act of kindness but the person that gave them to me has been through a lot this year, and through her difficult time she still finds time to think of others. She is a true inspiration. These little things remind me to walk in love and think of others.
Perform one selfless act every day. – In life, you get what you put in. When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life. Do something that’s greater than you, something that helps someone else be happy or suffer less.
    • I made some donations on New Year's Eve in the form of warm clothing. I have not done anything today, but the day is young :)
Exercise for 30 minutes every day for 30 days. – Your health is your life. Don’t let it go. Eat right, exercise and get an annual physical check-up. The 4-Hour Body is an insightful and entertaining read on this topic.

    • Headed to the gym tonight with a friend, hope to get an hour of cardio in. I feel gym buddies make the time go by quicker.
These are excellent challenges and meaningful ones...it doesn't have to be the start of a new year to do so. Which ones would you pick?



Monday, December 30, 2013

Wrapping up 2013 and ready for 2014!!

2013 is coming to an end and to me this year was defiantly not what I expected. So much has changed in the past year it is a little scary. I went back to my post on January 5, 2013 to review my goals for 2013. They were to magnify my goals from 2012. I planned to grow more spiritually/religiously, straight A' s for my MBA program, travel to three new places, run a half marathon, and sign up for warrior dash. Some of those goals were accomplished and others were altered. 

I did grow in my relationship with God but I have seen my faith get tested more this year than ever before. It really shows me how God can bring you through even the toughest of times. Jason and I had many financial blessings and were able to help others, as well as become better stewards for what God has given us. I am not perfect but I continue to grow and learn. Our bible study is doing well but even with that we know we need to grow. We will be having a pastor come to each session to teach us more about the word. I believe there is always room for improvement. If you stop learning or trying to become better than what is the point? I am grateful for what I have but I believe it is important to grow as a person. 


Regarding the MBA program it is going well. Had some bumps in the road this last month with having my personal life effect my schooling. Sometimes even when we try to remain strong our brain is telling our bodies a different story. I am finished with my first year but I hope to continue my education. 


I did not run a half marathon but I did run a relay marathon with some amazing women. I have signed up for the Cleveland 2014 10K run in in an effort to raise money for Huntington's Disease Society of America. The disease is genetic and runs on my husband's side of the family. You will see more of the organization this year as I hope to raise money for the cause. Click on the link below to learn more and donate to my page. The Fennells appreciate all your support.


http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/NicoleFennell/team-run-for-hd-chicago


GOALS for 2014

Depending on how the year goes I hope to enter the half marathon through Akron in addition to the 10K. This year I have defiantly noticed how far I can push myself with workouts and strength. I hope to continue this for 2014. I would like to participate in more runs and become and active member in HDSA. I want to continue my education and learn as much as possible. I want to live my the phrase...get over it! My husband has a great attitude when it comes to this and I hope to have it embedded in my brain by this year. I have also set career goals for myself and pray I have grace in favor in that adventure. Lastly I want to make more time for Jason and I to spend together. We had a very busy year with family, friends, school, and work. I would like us to spend more time with just us, I friend gave me this advice recently and I plan to run with it. 

Honestly this year has been very trying but so much fun at the same time. In our travels we went to 4 new places including Chicago, Clearwater, Cape Coral, and St. Pete's. We shared celebration in our friend
s having beautiful babies and welcoming a new family member to the Fennells. My brother in law proposed to his girlfriend and we all excited for the upcoming wedding. We became boaters and had an amazing summer meeting new people and making new traditions. We cannot wait to go back come April. Its like a vacation every weekend. We plan to use it as much as possible, just like this past summer. Let's just hope for better weather!!! No more hoodies in July :). There have been a mountain full of wonderful beginning this year. However I am ready for 2014 and to say good bye to 2013. I wish you and your family a Happy New Year and to have many blessings in the upcoming year. 


Love Nik 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

5Ks for a Cause

Last weekend the Rack Pack completed their 4th year for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K. We raised over $1,000 for the American Cancer Society. We walked in honor of survivors and people we have lost to breast cancer. Breast cancer awareness has come so far in the past decade between raising money for research, awareness coming from grass roots foundations to multi-million dollar corporations, people showing support to families and survivors, and now the Cleveland Clinic has found a vaccine for the cancer. All of this got me thinking..a lot of people say how bad it is these days with money and morals....to this I say your wrong. There are more people willing to help than do nothing. I see this everyday in my work place and through the amazing family and friends I have. Our team will do the walk next year but we won't stop there. After I completed the walk, I thought....look how much awareness is out there for breast cancer, there are so many other diseases that need this awareness and research brought to the forefront. One of those diseases that has hit home in recent months with our family is Huntington's.

Huntington's runs on my husband's side of the family, with the change in healthcare the family is now able to get tested without it being considered a preexisting condition and testing can be covered by insurance. Some members have decided this would be a good time to see if they have the gene. After researching more and more about HD I wanted to become more involved with Huntington's Disease Society of America. I have found that they have a local walk in Twinsburg every year. I will be on the committee for this walk and hope to recruit a great team to raise awareness, money towards research and support for families with Huntington's. I will be running for HDSA on my 10K and half marathon in the upcoming year. I hope through the runs and the walk we can bring more awareness of this disease and help others.




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Homemadeish Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese with a Kick

This week I attempted a Pinterest challenge with recipes. I am constantly pinning things but have not had time to make them. I prepped this week, so I wanted to change things up. I felt like we were eating the same thing over and over. So I will be sharing our menu this week on what worked! So far so good!

Sunday we started off with homemadeish tomato soup and grilled cheese with a kick. I took the base of a Pinterest recipe, and made it my own. It came our very well and was half the time of the original recipe.

Tomato Soup:

1 Large can of condensed tomato soup
3/4 cup of chicken broth
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
Pince of salt
1/2-1 tsp of fresh ground black pepper (depending on preference)
1/4 cup of heavy cream

Cook the can of soup for a couple of minutes, add heavy cream and stir. Allow to cook on low for 2-3 minutes, continue stirring and be sure not to burn the soup. Add in garlic, pepper, olive oil, and salt. Cook on low and stir as needed.

Grilled Cheese:

French Bread
Horseradish Cheese
Sharp Cheddar
Butter

Cut the bread, butter the outside pieces of the bread that will be on the skillet. Place the cheeses in the middle and flip once the sides have turned golden brown. It should look something like this:

Total Time: 35 minutes