Day 10 of the Kick the Sweets Challenge!

image

Woah, woah, wait.  It’s only been 10 days??  -sigh-  I’m going to be honest with you guys.  I’m having some serious withdrawal symptoms.  I’m not going to lie and pretend I haven’t cheated a little.  Maybe starting this challenge on the same week my husband and I got a puppy was not the wisest decision, haha!  Nevertheless!  I am determined to make this work!  I’ve already seen some progress.

Weight lost: 1 lb

Sweetest temptation:  Muffins at work

Hardest moment:  The day Murphy pooped all over the carpet and there was nothing to eat for dinner but tortilla chips.

Toughest realization:  I need to buy healthier foods and get rid of our stash of cookies.

Percentage of soul lost:  4%

80 more days to go!  I CAN DO THIS!

Watch out for some delicious dessert-alternative recipes!

~Megan

5 Things to Think About BEFORE Getting a Dog

image

Tyler and I adopted a PUPPY!  We had been talking about getting a dog for what felt like a century before we FINALLY decided we were ready.  Meet MURPHY!  He’s a Redbone Coonhound/Australian Shepherd mix from Hope Animal Rescues in Godfrey, Illinois.  He, along with his mother and litter mates, were rescued from a local animal control facility.  You’ll be seeing a lot of this little guy!

image
Our Murphy at 12 weeks old!

I’ve worked with animals all my life – dolphins, cats, penguins, wallabies, goats, sea lions… you name it – but I’ve never worked with dogs.  So, me being me, I did hours upon hours of hours of research on puppy care, training, breeders, shelters, and rescues.  I’ve compiled enough information to keep even the most curious people busy for a year or two.  Now that I have a few tricks up my sleeve, let me share with you some of the things we learned while looking for our furry friend!

Are you ready?

Before you even start looking for a dog, really take the time to figure out if you’re ready.  Granted, you can never be totally ready – getting a dog will change your life, in more ways than one- but you need to committed to your pet for as long as he lives.  That means every single day, even the chaotic, poop-everywhere kind of days.

What are you looking for in a dog

Are you looking for a couch-potato partner?  A jogging companion?  A hefty protector?  An agility master?  These are all questions you need to ask yourself before you find yourself a pup.  If you’re only interested in long naps interspersed with episodes of ‘Making a Murder’, a Border Collie is probably not for you.  Or if you’re hoping your Pomeranian will be the next disc dog champion, you’re probably going to be disappointed.  Do some research before committing to a particular breed.  You’ll want to make sure it’s not only a good match for you, but also for your dog.  Your non-shredded sofa will thank me later :-).

What are your plans?

You may come to find that adopting a dog is darn near impossible.  Some applications can be very extensive, requiring all kinds of information.  Is the dog going to be inside or outside?  Will it have free range of the house or be kept in a kennel?  What are your plans for potty training?  How will you approach obedience training?  All of these are very important questions.  Consider them carefully.  What I’ve found is the longer the application, the more reputable the breeder/shelter.  Make sure you have your own list of questions, too!

To puppy or not to puppy?

Most people are dead set on getting a puppy, but always keep an open mind.  I have a passion for training animals, so I really wanted to start with a puppy.  Eleni and I will be the first to tell you, though, having a puppy is A LOT OF WORK.  You’ll be cleaning up messes, avoiding sharp puppy teeth…you’ll be frustrated, tired, and on the brink of giving up.  You’ll look into those big puppy eyes and think, “How can something so small have such a large attitude??”  They’re cute for a reason!  But if you think you’re ready to raise a puppy, you won’t regret it!  If you aren’t so sure, consider adopting an older dog!  They might just come potty trained, house trained, MORE than ready to be loved, and desperately in need of a forever home!

Have you considered adopting?

While I have nothing against good, responsible breeders, Tyler and I chose to adopt from a rescue.  The number of dogs living in shelters is astounding.  The best part of adopting is that you get the chance to save two lives- the dog you adopt, and the one who gets to take his place.

I hope these tips have given you something to think about!  Now go out and find your pup!!

~Megan

Tips for your honeymoon in Mexico!

Engagement season has recently passed, and all you bride-to-bes out here are probably into PLANNING MODE. Part of the wedding planning process is the honeymoon planning, which is extremely important. It will be your calm after the storm, and you will sleep a lot (it will be necessary). If you are thinking of going to Mexico for your honeymoon, like my husband and I did, here are some things to help you plan, as well as some things that will help you once you’re there!

  1. Set a budget. This one may seem obvious, but there is a reason it is first. Depending on how you plan your honeymoon (travel agent, plan-it-yourself, hotel vs. resort), different fees can rack up. I would suggest having a budget for booking the honeymoon, and a separate budget for when you get there. If you spend your whole budget on your plane ticket and resort, you won’t have anything left for sightseeing and adventures! Making seperate budgets for booking/souvenirs/adventures will help keep you from overspending.
  2. They have different money! In Mexico they use pesos, but most places will accept American dollars, too. However it is good to have some pesos with you while you are there. One way to do this is to use a credit card (I have CapitalOne and had no snags). Once you get to the resort, the front desk can give you an amount of money and charge it to your credit card. Be sure to set up a ‘traveling status’ on your card before your trip or your bank might think it’s fraud, shut down the card, and create an unnecessary hassle.
  3. Get your passport. Ok you should have done this a while ago, because it can take up to 3 months to get everything finalized. If you plan on going on your honeymoon within a week after your wedding, I would suggesting getting a passport in your maiden name. You won’t have time to change your name before the trip, and it is easier to have your name matching on all documents while you are there. If you want tips on how to change your name AFTER the honeymoon, check out Megan’s post!
  4. Consider your resort options.  I would 100% recommend staying at an all inclusive adults only resort in Mexico. My husband and I stayed at Secrets Maroma, and it was incredible. I loved being able to walk up to any bar at any time and get whatever I wanted (which was pretty much a margarita, daiquiri, or mudslide)… but the best was the food. OH THE FOOD. I love food, and being able to get whatever I wanted without having to worry about price was a dream come true. Anyway, enough talking about the food (I’ll just think about it fondly as I write…). A family friendly resort is going to have a different vibe than an adults only place. Do you want kids running around you while you try to relax? If you don’t care, good for you- but I wanted no interruptions during my days of doing nothing.
  5. Plan adventures, don’t sit on your butt the whole time! I know, after wedding planning, you’re tired. But don’t let that stop you from making new memories in your new marriage! In Mexico there are so many historical places to visit, or adventures to experience. My husband and I did a tour of Tulum, snorkeling, zip lining, cave diving, four wheeling, and there were so many other options, too! It was worth getting up early to get those wonderful experiences. I do highly recommend planning through the resort you stay at (another reason why I recommend a resort). We worked with Apple Vacations (they pretty much did our whole trip). They give you a time to be at the front, and a guy comes to drive you where you need to be- no hassle at all!
  6. Always have tip money with you. Now, remember when I suggested an all-inclusive resort? That usually implies ‘tips included’… and it might even say that on your paperwork. However, I learned that people still expect tips. Whether it’s at the resort during dinner, or your driver to and from adventures, or the man who brings you your bag at the end of the trip, EVERYONE is working for that tip. Which makes sense, since the minimum wage is Mexico is CRAZY low. Be generous and give tips when they are appropriate. As long as it is an amount your comfortable with, I’m sure the workers will be very appreciative.
  7. Beware of naked beachgoers and people wanting to sell you crap! These were my two real complaints during my honeymoon (which are so extremely minor and did not affect the amazing time I had). First of all, people lay around with however much OR little clothing they want. I saw boobs when I did not expect it. Some people are fine with that, and more power to you. However, when you aren’t expecting it, it’s a little more of a shock. Secondly, there are people walking up and down the beach that are trying to sell you hats, jewelry, blankets (it’s hot, who buys blankets on a Mexican beach?), and much more. If you politely shake your head and move along, they will go onto the next leathery American and you can go back to doing absolutely nothing.
  8. Watch what you eat and drink. In no way am I saying to count calories… they do not exist for the first year of marriage as far as I am concerned. I sacrificed too much the year before the wedding to look how I wanted in my wedding dress… I deserve this now. Anyway- I’m sure you have heard that you are not supposed to drink the water in Mexico. This is true. They usually provide water bottles in your room, and we used that to brush our teeth- no chances taken! Some people say to ask for water with no ice while you are at resort’s restaurant, but we didn’t do that and we survived. You will also have opportunities to eat new and exotic sounding foods, but beware. It doesn’t matter that it’s Mexico- if you eat steak tar-tar (raw steak) and escargot (raw snail) in the same night, you will pay. I know from experience. BRING TUMS. BRING ADVIL. BRING PROBIOTICS. I just saved you, you’re welcome. If I didn’t have these things on my honeymoon, oh Lord it would have sucked. Live outside of your food comfort zone, but for the love of God take some Tums.
Happy planning! If you have a more specific question, feel free to comment below.
No matter where you have your honeymoon, it will be a memorable trip with the love of your life. Now where’s my margarita?
~Eleni

90 Day Challenge: Kick the Sweets

image

I’m a little late on the bandwagon.  Everyone started their New Year’s resolutions and I was over here like, “Are you going to eat that cookie?”  After all the wedding stress and dieting, I decided I would let loose on the honeymoon,  And then I let that continue on to the next week.. and the week after that…and then, well, you get the point.  It’s been almost 4 months since our wedding and it seems like the scale has been weighing a little heavier every day…  It’s time to face it – the scale’s not broken.  It’s just so fun to live with abandon and pretend like that candy bar’s not going to catch up with you.

Something you should know about me is that when I get into something, I’m REALLY into it for about a month, and then I move on to the next thing.  I’m not good at diets because I commit too hard too quickly and fizzle out before I even see results.  It’s a curse.  This time I’m doing something different.  Instead of cutting out EVERYTHING that’s fun in life, I’m going to start with one category of foods and give it up for 90 days.  I’m going to start with SWEETS.  *sobs*  Yes, you read that right – sweets.  Cookies.  Soda,  Donuts.  Candy.  Cupcakes.  All of it.  Now, 90 days seems like a long time and like I said, one month is usually my limit.  But by giving you updates, I’ll have someone holding me accountable.  Will you join me?

Here are the game rules:

No desserts, soda, candy, etc.

This does not include everything that has sugar in it, because c’mon, that’s just cruel.

Eat as much fruit as you want.  That’s okay in my book.

Yogurt is fair game.

Diet soda is acceptable but only on occasion.

Complaints can and will be said at any time and for any reason.

WE START TOMORROW!

Along the way, I’ll be updating you with my progress (share yours, too!), posting dessert-alternative recipes… it may turn out to be kind of fun.  But I make no promises.

Let’s do this together!

~Megan

My big fat Greek reality. 


Many of you have heard of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and the trailer for the second movie came out very recently. My (Greek) dad refuses to watch the first movie because he says it is a bunch of bull, but  my mom and I have both discussed that we could be millionaires if we knew a movie about Greek life could be so entertaining… because most of the movie’s content is for real.

If you haven’t seen the movie, go watch it really quick. The movie is really well done. It has family drama, a love story, obstacles that the lovers have to overcome, and comedy along the way.This film sticks out to me though because of the Greekness. While you laugh at the situations, I live them.

Before we begin, here’s  a very brief history of my Greek heritage. My dad was born in Sparta, Greece (wait while someone screams, ‘THIS…IS…SPARTA!!’). He was moved to the United States with his parents when he was not even two years old. He learned English by watching Seasame Street as my grandparents ran their dry cleaning business. My maiden name is GORANITIS. Yes, I know it sounds like a disease, yes it’s hard to say and spell- welcome to my life. I am half Greek, have a name that oozes Greekness, and could’ve made so much money if my family made it into a movie first.

Here is a list of things seen in the movie, and I will give you the scoop on whether they are fluff , or if it applies to my Greek life

  1. Greeks live in Chicago: TRUE. My dad’s family moved to Chicago when he was in high school, and there is definitely a Greek community there. They even have Greek fast food places!  My grandparents live on a street with other Greeks- they stick together.
  2. Greeks always own their own business: TRUE. While this may not be the case for ALL Greeks, it seems to be a trend for those who immigrated here with their families. Notice that in the movie, Voula’s family owns a dry cleaning service- so did my grandparents until they retired. And Voula’s family also owned a travel agency- the only travel agent I know is Greek… not sure why this is a thing.
  3. The kids have to go to Greek school: TRUE. I WAS THAT KID. For about 2 years, my dad would drive us to Greek school every Tuesday night at the Greek Orthodox church. While I did learn a few things, class was mostly the Greek school teacher trying to discipline the troublesome kid, who happened to be the priest’s son…
  4. Greek women are always  cooking: TRUE. This one is 100% true for all of the full Greek yiayias (Greek for ‘grandmas’) out there. Every time I visit my yiayia, she has a massive Greek meal ready to go. Every. Time.
  5. Greeks’ homes are modeled after the Parthenon: FALSE. While there are many Greek statues/flags/pottery inside Greek houses, I have never seen any gaudy Greek things outside of the house. Of course this is just with MY family…
  6. Greeks use Windex to fix everything: FALSE. I feel like this staple in the movie had to do with 2 things. First of all, Windex probably gave them a lot of money to make this movie. However, I have noticed my dad goes through.. let’s call them “phases” where he is obsessed with something and tries to convince everyone else that this is the ONLY  way to go. I think this concept was grasped through the Windex.
  7. Greeks will tell you “Give me a word, ANY word, and I will give you the Greek root”: TRUE. My dad is 100% guilty of this one. Especially when we were in Greek school, EVERYTHING came from a Greek word. The funny thing is, most words DO have a Greek root so…
  8. There is a scary old lady in black that hates people from Turkey: KINDA TRUE. There is always a grandma dressed in all black (a sign of mourning a lost spouse, but they wear black the rest of their life), who does not understand ONE word in English. She probably hates people from Turkey, but can’t tell you because again, no English.
  9. Most Greeks are named Nick: TRUE. I have an Uncle Nick. I have a cousin Nicki… everyone is Nick.
  10. Greeks cover their living room furniture in plastic: TRUE. You may not believe me on this one, but I’m not joking. The main living area in my grandparents house has 2 couches and 2 chairs- all covered in plastic. It’s not as uncomfortable as you would expect.
  11. Greeks have over 20 cousins: FALSE. I have 4 first cousins, so this one doesn’t match with my family. However I think most of the time this one is true for Greek families.
  12. Greeks only want their kids to marry other Greeks: TRUE. You remember the part in the movie where Gus is upset that Toula is going to marry a “xeno”? Xeno is Greek for ‘foreigner’. I know what you’re thinking- wait, he’s from Greece and is in America, so he would be the foreigner, right? Not to them! My grandparents called my mom a “xeni”, feminine version of ‘xeno’ for YEARS after my parents got married. This one is so real that it hurts.
  13. Greeks say weird things like “Nobody talk to me about nothing no more!”: TRUE. There are a few things that get mixed up in translation and leave Greeks putting a bunch of negatives together in a sentence. Also, I didn’t know it was weird to say “close the light” until my husband looked at me like I was crazy one day when I said it. In translation, it’s “close the light”, not “turn off the light”, so my dad learned it that way and it rubbed off on my mom. I am hoping I will rub off on Ryan so I don’t seem as crazy when I say it.
  14. A Greek orthodox baptism has a kiddie pool for adults: FALSE. The church scene is pretty legit, from the priest to the ornate walls… however there is no kiddie pool. Adult baptisms have a large gold basin looking thing. And no, getting baptized in the Greek church does NOT make you Greek.
  15. Greek grandpas came to this country with only $8 in their pocket: TRUE. I get the same story from my grandpa every time I see him. But it’s kind of cool how this one is true.. he literally came to this country with his wife and 1 year old (my dad), had almost no money to his name, and started a new life in a new place. How many of us would have the guts to do that today?
  16. Greeks spit on you for good luck: TRUE. This is also a true thing. Although, we usually don’t really spit, we just go through the motions of it. No one wants to hock a loogie onto a bride.
  17. Greeks yell OPA when they dance: TRUE. We yell ‘OPA’ a lot, even when we are not dancing!
  18. Greeks accept their foreigner in laws and buy their kids a house for their wedding: I WISH.
So there you go! That is a list of the things that stand out to me during the movie. However there are a few more things that I feel need to be further explained in order to appreciate the movie:
  • That instrument playing throughout the whole movie is called a bouzouki. It’s like a Greek banjo.
  • The “moussaka” (pronounced MOO SAH KAH, emphasis on the KAH) that a young Toula is eating is a Greek version of lasagna, with layers of eggplant instead of noodles- DELICIOUS.
  • When Athena says a priest is coming to ‘bless her house’- when Greeks move, they have the priest come sprinkle holy water in each room in order to ward off demons. I have seen this happen, it’s interesting.
  • Ian’s parents confuse Armenian with Greek.. I have heard people think the Kardashians are Greek… GREECE IS NOT ARMENIA.
  • We do eats lots of lamb and drink some ouzo.
  • Spanakopita is mentioned at the engagement party (where it is pronounced correctly- take note!), and it s a delicious spinach pie with spinach and feta wrapped in phyllo (pronounced FEE-LO). If you don’t like spinach, don’t worry- we have a ‘just cheese’ version called tiropita (pronounced TEE RO PEE TA)
In closing, being Greek has its perks. I feel a great connection to my Greek heritage and would never trade it. But as Gus so finely puts it at Toula’s wedding:
We all different, but in the end- we all fruit.
~Ἑλένη   (Eleni)