Monday, April 29, 2013

Guest Post from Melissa!

hello strawberry halls forever readers! i'm melissa from i carry your heart. i'm excited to be guest posting here today. i'm a 28 year old wife, mama, and marketing professional from twin cities. i have a 2 year old daughter named azalea, who is equal parts crazy and cute. i hope you'll stop by my blog and say hi when you are done reading. 

when katie said she was looking for people to write a post on travel, i jumped at the opportunity. i love to travel and while i'm no where near an expert on the subject, i've been to 37 states and canada, mexico, and europe. there are many more places i'd love to see! since katie is currently in europe, i thought i'd share some highlights of my 2006 trip to london, england and venice, italy. spoiler alert: i got engaged ;) 

~ london ~ 

i loved london. it felt like a european version of new york city to me. we did a mixture of touristy stuff and also just some exploring on our own. 

we stayed in the high street kensington area and visited buckingham palace, tower bridge, trafalgar square, westminster abbey, etc. 

after a few days in london, we took an easy jet over to venice for super cheap. that was an experience in itself! the flight attendants looked like high schoolers. :) 

~ venice ~ 

venice was the most magical city i've ever visited. there are no roads or cars on the whole island, just canals and boats. 

there was an endless supply of sidewalk cafes, with cheap wine and gelato. i think we ate gelato every day! 

we did all the touristy things like san marco plaza, doge's palace, and the bridge of sighs, but we also loved exploring off the beaten path as well. 

a little back story on the engagement: my husband and i had been dating for 4 years when we went on this trip and a few people told me "you are totally going to get engaged," but i brushed it off. little did i know, thatcher had been putting together plans for a while. on our second night in venice, he took me on a long walk through the winding passageways of the city until finally we sat on the steps of a church overlooking the canal. we chatted for a bit then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. there were many happy tears as i said yes and put on my ring. such a fun story to share, even nearly 7 years later.

hope you enjoyed my post! have you  been to europe? what are your favorite destinations? 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Guest Post from Brittany!

I am so happy that Katie is letting me guest post for her while she is having fun jet setting and escaping the crazy April snow here in Minnesota. So naturally it has me reminiscing of some trips that I have been on in the past.

One of my favorites trips was a couple years ago over spring break my boyfriend Jamal and I along with a few friends went a couple hour north to Duluth to get away. I love Duluth and go there at least once a year during the summer but this was the first time I had visited during the winter/spring time and it was GORGEOUS.

We stayed at a casino about 15 minutes from Duluth so the guys could get in some gambling time and then we drove to Duluth and walked around Lake Superior  We were just a few of the people there and most of the shops were closed since it was the off season but it was one of the most beautiful things I have seen.

Thanks for reading. Stop by and say hi :)


Monday, April 22, 2013

Guest Post from Emily!

I am so excited to introduce a few of my readers to you while I am on vacation! They are each sharing memories from favorite vacations they have taken, so that we can all live vicariously through them.  First up is Emily, you MUST check out her blog!  She has an adorable son and loves to share tasty recipes, awesome DIY projects, and her favorite fashion & beauty trends. So sit back and relax and pretend you're on one of these amazing beaches with her!

Hi Everyone, I'm Emily from Simple Suburbia!  I'm a 20-something wife and first time mom to an almost one year old (I'm totally in denial about that part).  My husband and I have been together for over 10 years and in that time we've done a decent amount of traveling.  While Katie is galavanting all around Europe, I decided to share one of my favorite vacations with you guys!  I actually wrote this post ahead of time because I'll be in Florida while Katie is on her vacation!  When I decided to write this post, I couldn't decide which vacation to write about - it was a toss up between our Caribbean cruise and our Hawaiian honeymoon!  I decided on the cruise!

First of all, here's a picture of me (from our cruise) so you can put a name to a "voice"!  Please note that I'm now a Casper version of that person.

We did a 7 day cruise with Carnival (no, we didn't get stranded anywhere).  We had somewhere new to go every day (no days at sea) and I wouldn't have it any other way!  I know some people like days at sea, but I'd rather be out exploring new islands!  Plus, I had plenty of time on the ship in the evenings.  We did have some fun times on the ship, though.  Here's our ship:

Here's our room.  We were lucky enough to get a balcony room on the back of the ship (highly recommend)!

Lounging on the lido deck!
I'm the third from the right!
I miss my tan!
We ate in the dining room every night.  Our server was awesome and you can get as much food as you want.  I may have had chocolate lava cake every night.  I'm not joking.

I was overly excited about the infamous towel animals!

Our ship left from Puerto Rico and we visited Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, and St. Thomas (not in that order).  We were able to do all sorts of excursions on the islands.  Nick & I love to snorkel and snorkeling in the Caribbean is pretty awesome.  The water is crystal clear and the fish come RIGHT up to you!
Those masks are SO flattering!

Barbados: no zoom!
We also went on a few island tours.  This is not something we would typically do, but my Dad recommended it and I'm so glad we listened to him!  The tour guides take you to the best photo spots and show you island secrets.  One of our guides even had fresh island fruits for us to try!

Here we are trying some 190 proof white "island" rum.  I do NOT recommend this, haha!
St. Lucia
I found Pumbaa on one of the beaches!  Seriously, this big huge guy was just having his afternoon nap right on the beach.  I couldn't decide if it was cool or creepy, but it was definitely a photo op!

One of our excursions was a hike through the rainforest in Dominica.  It was amazing!

We also visited beaches that were basically heaven on earth.

Hawks Bill, Antigua

Magen's Bay, St. Thomas
On our last day, we were able to spend some time in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico before catching our flight home.  Such a cute, historical town!

Come on over and check out my blog.  You'll find a few a ton of pictures of my son, some pictures of my yorkies, recipes, crafts, and everything in between!  Thanks for having me, Katie!  I hope you're having an absolute blast in Europe!

Simple Suburbia

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fitness Friday & Bon Voyage!

If you've been reading my health & fitness friday posts, you know I've been training for a half marathon and possibly a full marathon.  I haven't signed up for a half yet.  I know, I know.  I am having a hard time choosing one.  There is a half going on near Minneapolis every weekend in June, but I have weddings the first 2 weekends, and I work the the other 2 weekends.  One of the weddings is in town though, so I might still sign up for the race that day.  It really depends on how I feel when I get home from Europe.  I'm sure our trip won't completely undo my training- but I know I won't have time for any real training while we are gone.  If I don't feel ready in June, I will probably sign up for the Red, White, and Boom on July 4th.  However, in light of the Boston Marathon tragedy and the amazing runners who were there, as well as the running community that has pulled together this week, I was inspired to do something crazy this week:

Yep, I am officially registered for the Twin Cities Marathon! I love love love this race!  It was my first marathon, and that day was truly the best day of my life other than my wedding day.  Nothing can beat the energy of the crowd, the scenic route, and the amazing finish line at the state capitol.  As soon as I finished this race in 2010, I knew I wanted to run it again someday.  I can't say I am feeling 100% confident.  I have had major doubts if I would be able to ever do it again after my hip surgery, I am going to try though!  

Well, I will be heading to Europe tomorrow morning!  I have packed some running gear- but I am really not going to stress too much about training, it is a vacation after all.  Happy trails, everyone!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Past vacations together.

Mark and I have been busy this week getting all packed and ready for our European adventure!  Our flight leaves Saturday morning, we connect in Newark, and from there we will land at Shannon Airport in Ireland!  After a few days in Galway and Dublin, we will fly to Germany and spend a few days in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.  Then will will drive to Salzburg for one night before finishing up the last couple days of our trip in Munich!  I've been thinking about our past vacations together and wanted to do a little recap.  Mark is hands-down the easiest person in the world to travel with, so all of these vacations have been super fun!

Our first vacation together was actually when Mark came to visit me in California when I was in grad school.  I moved to Coronado, CA about a month after meeting Mark for a semester of clinicals that I completed in San Diego.  Great timing, right?  Since I knew we had a good thing going on though, I invited him to visit me.  I showed him around my favorite parts of the city and we had a great time relaxing on the beach too.

The next vacation we took was a mini-trip to Duluth, MN.  We were up there for my birthday, and even though it was freezing, we had a great time!

One of Mark's favorite things in life in Notre Dame football, and we were able to go to South Bend for 2 games in the 2010 season.  We also stopped in Chicago during both of these trips to catch a Cubs game.

I believe the next real vacation we took was our honeymoon, other than a bunch of little weekend trips.  We went spent 10 days in Riviera Maya, Mexico and it was fantastic!  Seriously, I loved it so much! I could write an entire post about this trip, maybe I will!

A couple months after our honeymoon, we also got to go to Steamboat Springs, CO.  We stopped in Denver on the way to catch a Rockies game, which was also really fun!  In Steamboat, we rode horses, took a hot air ballon ride, did a lot of hiking, and played several rounds of golf.  It was great!  We also drove there, and I love a good roadtrip!

The next trip we took was back to Coronado, CA.  My mom lives there in the winter and we went out to visit her at the same time my dad was out.  I can't get enough of that place.

We spent another long weekend in Duluth later that year to celebrate my birthday and our 1 year wedding anniversary!

This past September, we went to San Francisco and Napa Valley for about a week.  We had a great time wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma, and then spent a few days exploring SF- including going to a Giant's game.  This trip is one of my favorite memories with Mark, especially the day we biked across the Golden Gate and wandered for hours through all parts of the city.

We've both take other vacations separately throughout the years of course, but traveling together is just about my favorite thing to do! I can't wait for our next big adventure!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Prayers for Boston

I don't think you have to be a runner to have your heart broken by the events at yesterday's Boston Marathon.  However, being that I am a runner, I can't help but think of my own marathon finish lines and picture how terrifying it would have been.

The Boston Marathon is a race I will probably never run.  I don't anticipate ever qualifying for it, but I think there is always that tiny little dream in every runner's heart to get their BQ and line up in Hopkinton.  It deeply saddens me that this race will never be the same and that the thousands of people who trained, qualified, trained even more, diligently prepared, and traveled to Boston, will have this horrible even overshadowing what should have been one of the proudest moments of their life.

My cousin lives in Boston and thankfully is safe.  One of my running friends lives in Boston and was watching the race, thankfully she is also safe.  My prayers go out to those who were not safe and those who are not feeling safe in their city today.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Weekend Recap

Hey guys, guess what?  I'm going to Europe this week!  I have a lot to do still, but I am hoping the week flies by.  Saturday can't come soon enough.  Isn't that what everyone says on a Monday morning though?

This weekend started out with a coffee date with my friend who wanted to know about my yoga program.  She is a fellow OT, and catching up with her about work and yoga was great!  I had a teaching lab on Friday afternoon for yoga, which went pretty well.  I can't believe I only have 1 more of my "core sessions" left.

On Friday night, Mark and I had dinner at my parent's house to celebrate my dad's birthday.  His birthday was actually last weekend, but we couldn't get together until Friday to celebrate.  It was a fun and relaxing evening of wine, food, and birthday cake...oh how I love birthday cake.

On Saturday, I got up bright and early for my long training run.  I did 9 miles on the treadmill because it was snowing like crazy out!  The run went better than expected, but I was really tired for the rest of the day!  I pretty much spent all afternoon on the couch.  That night we went out to a fun wine bar in Uptown with a few friends.  Right after we were seated, I looked at the table next to our and who was there other than my boss!  What are the odds, right?  But I happen to really like my boss and it was fun seeing her.

I spent the entire day at yoga on Sunday.  I had to be there early for my mentor's Jivamukti class, then had a mentorship meeting, then I had to make up a core session that I had missed.  I was really happily surprised to see my friend, Keriann, there also for the core session!  She had to postpone her teacher training for a little bit because her 6 year old daughter had a relapse of her cancer this winter.  Her daughter is doing well, though still undergoing chemo, but Keriann has been able to resume her training and it was so great to spend the afternoon with her!

Sunday evening, we watched the Master's (hellloooo Adam Scott!) and then we watched "We Bought A Zoo" which I thought was really cute.  I love Matt Damon, and I am a total sucker for movies about animals.

Well, that wraps up the weekend- now only 5 more days until we are jet-setting!!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Yin Yoga Teacher Training

Today for Health & Fitness Friday, I want to talk about the training I was at last weekend to become certified as a Yin yoga teacher.  I spent 15 hours last weekend with 40 yoga teachers in the Twin Cities learning all about this therapeutic style of yoga.  Yin yoga is different from other types of yoga because it shuts down your muscles and removes them from the equation.  Yin focuses on stressing your joints and making space within them.  The purpose of this is to alleviate unwanted tension in the fascia, connective tissues, ligaments, and even bones.  Yin yoga is done on the floor and uses multiple props like bolsters, blocks, blankets, and the wall.  To learn more about Yin Yoga, visit which was created by Bernie Clark, expert Yin teacher who wrote one of our books for the weekend.

The teacher who put on this training is really amazing.  She is one of my favorite teachers at Yoga Center of Minneapolis and has extensive training in Yin Yoga and yoga therapy.  Visit her website, Om with Michelle, to learn more about her and check out her class schedule if you are in the area.

We started our weekend on Friday evening with a little introduction and a nice long Yin practice.  Saturday morning we discussed Taoist philosophy, which is essential to understanding the meaning of yin and how it exists with yang.  We also talked about the fascial lines and meridians in the body that Yin asanas target.  After that, we spent all Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday learning about the Yin poses.  We broke each of them down and practiced teaching them to each other.  We ended our weekend with another class led by our fabulous instructor.

At the end of the weekend, I was awarded with my certificate!  I am getting so close to finishing my 230 hr teacher training, which will allow me to register with Yoga Alliance.  Once I have that in place, I will be looking for a studio to teach at and I am hoping to be able to teach some Yin classes, as well as  the faster-paced Vinyasa that I like.

Email me if you have any questions about Yin Yoga or if you want to learn some of the poses to do on your own!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

MN Blogger Yoga

If you are a Minnesota Blogger, please join me for a yoga class on May 11th! I will be teaching a class from 11:30-12:30 and we will have an hour at the end of class to socialize and get to know each other!

The class will be located at the recreation center at Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis.  Directions can be found here.

This is a free class, but a small fee will be collected to cover the cost of the room rental.  I will also be collecting donations for a community service project that I am involved in (more info to follow), but this is completely up to you if you want to donate.  Please rsvp to if you plan to attend!

I'm also asking for volunteers to bring refreshments for after the class- nothing fancy, just some easy snacks/drinks.  Let me know if you are able to do this.

You will need to bring your own yoga mat and any props that you want to have.  I will not be including any poses that require props, but you are more than welcome to use them if you wish.  

**I am not a pre-natal yoga instructor, but you are more than welcome to attend if you are pregnant. I can offer basic modifications to you, and you will never be asked to practice a pose you aren't comfortable with.**

Email me at with any questions!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Need Your Help!

I've been dying to tell you all about my weekend at Yin Yoga teacher training, but I haven't found the time yet to sit down and write about it, so check back later for that!  Today though, I am asking for travel tips/advice for our upcoming trip!

We are heading to Europe in about a week and a half!! I can't believe how fast it is coming up, but I keep thinking about all that I still need to do!  Mark and I have both been to Europe, so we aren't complete newbies, but we've never been to the places we are visiting.  SO, if you have been to these areas or have any general packing and traveling tips- please share!  We will be visiting:

Galway, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland
Garmich, Germany
Munich, Germany
Innsbruk, Austria
Salzburg, Austria

We'll be traveling to other places in between these areas, but these are the main places we'll be.  We have a lot of stuff planned, but also have some free days still for exploring.  I'd love to know if you have restaurant recommendations or stores to visit a long the way.  Also let me know about any must see attractions that we might have missed!  Any advice is wanted!

Thanks everyone!!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Occupational Therapy Month!

April is Occupational Therapy month, so today I want to talk a little bit about my job.  I know that a lot of people out there don't know what OT is, and I am always complaining that we get lumped together with physical therapists without getting any of our own credit!

Here is a good definition of OT from Mayo Clinic
Occupational therapists work with individuals who have conditions that are mentally, physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling. Occupational therapists assist individuals to develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills.

The word "occupation" comes from our belief that we all have "occupational roles" that contribute to who we are (i.e. mother, son, spouse, employee). The goal of an occupational therapist is not only to help clients improve basic motor functions, cognitive and emotional abilities to return to these roles, but also to compensate for loss of function. Their goal is to help clients have independent, productive and satisfying lives.
How does OT differ from PT? According to OTplan: 
Occupational Therapists (OTs) get patients back to doing everyday tasks. Occupational therapy focuses more on evaluating and improving a persons functional abilities.

Physical Therapists (PTs) assist patients with movement. Physical therapy focuses more on evaluating and diagnosing movement dysfunctions as well as treating a persons injury itself.

This is a hilarious (in my opinion) video that quite accurately describes OT and PT roles in a rehab setting.  You probably don't think it's funny if you aren't an OT, but if you happen to be an OT or a COTA (certified occupational therapy assistant), watch it!

OT is consistently ranked among the top careers every year:

7th best healthcare job in 2013  according to US News & World Report

7th best Master's degree for job in 2013 according to Forbes.

One of the top jobs for job security according to CNN.

Occupational Therapists can work in a ton of different settings, so it is sometimes confusing to explain to the general population.  OTs are working in hospitals, rehab centers, schools, pediatric therapy centers, skilled nursing facilities & transitional care units, specialized treatment facilities and home care, to name a few.  We can work with people of all ages from newborn to geriatric.  We evaluate and treat any physical, cognitive, emotional, behavior, sensory, social, developmental, or environmental limitations that interfere with a person's ability to function in any of their given roles.  If you read my blog, you know I work in a mental/behavioral health setting.  I work with the general mental health population at a large hospital, and with a very specialized population at an eating disorder treatment center.  If you want to know more about what I do, feel free to ask- I love talking about it!

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