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Senior Year Shenanigans: Lumberjack Gone Sun Devil

El Hefe Selfie with the ASU Crew  Stronglikemycoffee.comLife Update: Four years of college will conclude at the graduation ceremony this Friday afternoon! I’m absolutely ready to dawn the cap n’ gown and celebrate with my family. Graduation has been a long-awaited close to my chapter in this sleepy mountain town, but not an occasion that should pass without taking full advantage of this past LAST WEEKEND OF COLLEGE. The downtown scene in Flagstaff has been the source of many fun nights this year, but I hoped for something a little less hipster-hobo for this particular outting.

Soooooo I became an honorary Sun Devil as I stayed with my friends who attend ASU in Tempe, AZ! We had all been talking about craving a good fun weekend where we could DRESS UP, have a couple drinks, dance, karaoke if the opportunity arose, play some pool, make some new friends, and enjoy the warm weather.

Night out in Downtown Tempe  Stronglikemycoffee.com

Drinking martinis and shooting pool: I am better at one of these things than the other. (Why can’t we get points for sinking the white ball in a pocket?)

We started our night on Mill Ave. at El Hefe, where we had about 8 tattoos less than everyone else there. I felt like we needed some black fish net tights to fit in (can you imagine!?) :) We got a table though, and I split a Mamacita Margarita with another girl in our group. We were pacing ourselves because we had planned to hop from place to place! The next bar had a pool hall in the back, so we took our martinis to the tables and played a few games. I love playing games when we go out, like the Cards Against Humanity at the Wine Loft or darts at a local Flagstaff bar.

Other noteworthy stops include the Underground Bar where two piano players took requests (they were playing ‘Baby Got Back’ when we walked in) for karaoke singers, and Moonshine the country bar (my personal favorite for the atmosphere/music.)

We finally called it a night around 3am. My body just doesn’t sleep in, so I was still awake a little after 8am with one thing on my mind: COFFEE. We made a Starbucks run and sat by the pool because 90 degree weather is such a treat for me ;)

3 iced coffees poolside  Stronglikemycoffee.comTaking so much time off from studying the week before finals is not typical for me….I’m a straight A student/perfectionist with a tendency to make extra trips to the library and late night study sessions during this time. But I put in the work all semester long and I’m feeling pretty confident going in to finals week. I would totally regret it if my last memories of college were just a blur of papers and presentations. Now I have plenty of sunshine and new friends in my memory bank to pull me through these last four days!

More motivated than ever. Happy studying, friends! :)

Last weekend of college collage  Stronglikemycoffee.com

The Last Week of Summer Break

It has been 105 days of Summer Vacation.

As much as I love my family, I am beyond ready to return to college life for SENIOR YEAR. My car is packed, my apartment is ready, and I’m cruising down the highway as we speak! The past 7 days have been the busiest and craziest days…here are some highlight:

 The Green Goods:

Last week at work, our receptionist asked if anyone would like to “adopt” some of the office plants. I have a brand new unfurnished apartment…something green sounded nice!   I got some funky flowered plants (don’t ask me what they are). Well….they needed pots. And planting soil. And metal stakes. My “free” plant babies cost $30. These damn things better not die. ;)
My first house plant (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

The Book List:

I stocked myself up with PLENTY of reading material for the school year too! One day after work, I had some time to kill while I waited for the temperatures to cool off enough for an evening run. The selection at the used bookstore in the mall this week? JACK POT. As I browsed the store, the stack of books in my arms grew taller and taller. The cashier actually came to me TWICE to hold my books at the counter.

“That looks very heavy.” You underestimate my muscles, mister.

But thank you ;)

My favorite find of the day = Someday, Someday, Maybe because of the author. Lauren Graham AKA Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls AKA my favorite show ever and ever. I’m three chapters in and already hoping she writes a sequel.

New Used Books for Summer Reading List (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

The Last Home Long-Run:

On Sunday morning, I tackled a 12-mile long run before the 7 o’ clock hour. The route was different than usual because 3 miles in I took a sharp left turn that led to some greener views. Sightings: 1 coyote, 2 scruffy mutts, and 5 hungry ducks.

Summer Sunday Long Runs (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

A Jittery Habit:

I’ve picked up a habit of running to the deli next door for an afternoon Iced Americano with 3 pumps of sugar-free cinnamon dolce and a splash on non-fat. I have this “treat yourself” mentality going on right now. I’ve had 4 this week. Starbuck’s is capitalizing on my cold cravings and I’m okay with that.

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Baseball Oreos:

Our office hosted a Bake Sale fundraiser for one of the employees. Instead of buying goodies, I will be participating by contributing something to sell. Pinterest is my go-to for crafty-crafts and I was immediately attracted to “Baseball Pops” AKA white chocolate-covered Oreos.

Popsicle sticks + Oreos + White Melting Chocolate + Red candy melts

Baseball Oreos Pinterest Recipe (Stronglikemycoffee.com)
Interning as Usual:

All summer long, I have worked in the corporate office of a major national manufacturing company.  This has been an eye-opening experience since so much of my projects are directly related to my business courses. I’ve really enjoyed working in an office-setting….mainly because I get to dress up in heels and blazers and pencil skirts. Playing dress up is never a bad thing.

Office Intern (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

Lot’s of “goodbye” meals.

First, the department at work planned a mid-week lunch. It was my choice of restaurant. Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar & Grill :) No shop-talk allowed!  I got a salad with shrimp skewers, avocado, mango salsa and light balsamic vinegrette on the side. (It reminded me of the version I made two years ago…)

Shrimp Salad from TK Bar (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

We also met up for a last summer dinner with my mom’s BFF and her daughter. We were too busy girl-chatting for pictures on that one ;) Yesterday some girlies from work all went out for lunch at my favorite: Panera. Garden Veggie Soup with a Thai Chicken Salad:

Panera Bread Lunch (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Friday morning I walked into the office for the LAST day of my summer internship. Outside of my office was a breakfast spread that was noticeably different from previous company potlucks: It was healthy! Our office enjoys celebrating birthdays and special occasions with potlucks, most of which include donuts and streudals. They themed this one “healthy” in honor of moi and covered the table in fruits, nuts, granolas, yogurt, hummus and crackers. So sweet!

Office Breakfast Potluck Healthy Spread (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

Plus an awesome last dinner at a sushi bar, Ooka. This week was full of some hilarious, ridiculous moments. It included lots of packing and cleaning and errands. But it also became a little overwhelming at time, and by Friday night I wanted a drink! I wanted to sip, relax, laugh and have a great last night. It was a success :)
 

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Sending me off to school fat & happy and ready to take advantage of our amazing recreation center!

My summer was a long one. Two trips to New York and two medical procedures. Two trips to Flagstaff. One spectacular concert. Working full-time. Running morning and evening. Baking and cooking. Trips to San Diego and Newport. The only thing I didn’t get to was a baseball game. But the Dbacks are just a two-hour drive away, so maybe I’ll catch an AZ game pretty soon. ;)

BRING ON THE NEW SEMESTER.

What’s in your coffee cup?

I’ve fulfilled my intern duties with a coffee run. Iced Americanos for everyyyyyyybody!

Iced Americanos with nonfat milk // healthy coffee options (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Now that we have the office on an espresso high, let’s get to talking about WHAT WE’RE PUTTING IN OUR COFFEE CUPS.

I tend to assume everyone is as obsessed with coffee as me. Tea drinkers are in denial….I will convert you! ;) just kidding, steep on my herb-loving friends.

Today I’m looking at the fun, fancy and fattening ingredients that invade our coffee cups and sabotage our indulgence.

If coffee is a daily (or, you know, hourly) occurrence, then the sugary and fatty additions will add up quickly. ***If a caramel frappuccino is a twice-a-year treat, then girrrl you get that whip cream!***

Healthy coffee alternatives (stronglikemycoffee.com)

The cup of coffee itself, the heavenly-scented and dark-roasted liquid crack, begins with an innocent 5 calories plus metabolism-boosting properties. Drinking your coffee BLACK is probably the “healthiest” way to go. (I recommend sipping through a straw though to save your teeth!)

Let’s be honest though…..black coffee is no fun.

Not when there are 168534 possible combinations of flavors and styles for the caffeinated concoction.

My personal FAVE of the moment: Iced Americano with non-fat or almond milk plus a packet of stevia. Yummmm. This particular combo is fat-free/sugar-free. Primarily espresso, water and ice. The milk will add 10-50 calories depending on how dark you like it.

Creating a healthier coffee cup (stronglikemycoffee.com)Coffee Toppers:

Whip Cream: topping off hot chocolate or fraps with whip cream adds 120 calories and 13 grams of fat.

**Alternative: ask for extra foam. Frothy and delicious :)

Caramel or Chocolate drizzle: sugar sugar sugar = empty calories. Just skip it.

Flavored Syrups: A grande latte is fun, but a vanilla latte is better…..flavored syrup adds 25 grams of sugar and 140 calories to a grande latte. That more than DOUBLES the sugar and calorie content of the drink.

**Alternative: ask for 2 pumps (a grande usually contains 4 pumps) of a sugar-free vanilla/hazelnut/cinnamon flavor.

….CUE the anti-artifical sweetener frenzy…..

I know, I KNOW. How can I condone “sugar-free” syrup with all of its chemicals and artifical sweeteners? Isn’t it basic Health 101 that “sugar-free” does not mean healthy?! Well, I abandoned 100% clean-eating last month so I am not a strict stickler for absolute commitment to unprocessed ingredients.

I look at it like this: for me personally, a coffee shop latte is a treat. Twice a month, maybe. So like most indulgences, the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is indulging in moderation and making healthy swaps when available. Two pumps of sugar-free syrup will not turn my healthy diet upside down, nor will it cause immediate digestive consequences.

However other alternatives include sweetening your brew with some stevia or a drizzle of honey.

Is soy milk a better choice than skim?

I had to do a little research on this. For lightening my at-home brew, I opt for almond milk because it is creamy and adds very few calories. It’s rarely an option at coffee shops though. Soy is typically available, so how healthy is the non-dairy alternative?

When it comes down to it, skim milk is lower in fat and higher in protein than soy milk. So unless you have an aversion to lactose, soy milk is not superior to skim milk.

Missy loves her coffee (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Okay your turn. How do you pump up your coffee?

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