Sunday, May 31, 2015

Killer Leg Day Circuit

Saturday morning I was in a time crunch since I had to take Amanda's car to go get inspected. Conveniently she always seems to be busy whenever the car needs something done so we had to swap cars for the day! Anyway, my uncle is a mechanic and helps us out but he only had time at 9am. Which meant I got up extra early to get my workout in before meeting him!

A lot of you are probably going "why not wait until after to workout?". Yes that's probably the easier option considering I was home by 10am but if I don't work out first thing when I get up the chance that I will actually work out at all goes automatically down to about 40%. Then, if I have to wait until after lunch it goes down to about 15%. I'm just not one to workout in the afternoon or evening, it has to be right after I wake up. 

Saturdays are leg days since that's the one day of the week where I usually don't have to be anywhere at a specific time (i.e. work or church) so I like to take my time. I didn't have that luxury this particular Saturday but that didn't mean I was going to take it easy on myself! 

This circuit only took me 30 minutes but I'll be darned if I wasn't pouring sweat and my legs were shaky and jello at the end. It was killer! But I really enjoyed it.

I've gotten some questions about the new workout program I've been following lately and it honestly is a mix of everything. I have found that my body really, really responds to this. It's a lot of lifting but the supersets are all plyo/cardio moves with my bodyweight to keep my heart rate up. 

Like this leg day circuit for example! I've noticed that my legs especially are responding nicely since I've incorporated this type of leg day the past few weeks. 

So here's what I did: 

The deadlifts are a higher rep since I was using my dumbbells which for this set I used 30 each for a total of 60lbs. That's less than half what I can usually do in the gym which is why I doubled the reps for at-home! As long as your legs are still shaking by the end of the set it's all good :) 

I did three rounds of the circuit and rested a full minute between the rounds. Each round took me 10 minutes but with the rests added in the total time was around 32 minutes! 

Like I said, I really like this type of workout for my legs. I do a weighted exercise to fatigue my muscles and then hit them hard with a cardio weight like the jumping lunges then go right back in to another weight exercise. It keeps my heart rate sky high and keeps my muscles guessing at the same time! 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hill Sprints Workout

Tuesday morning after my shoulder workout, I began to question my sanity. I suddenly wanted to try out some hill sprints, and I figured it was no time like the present. 

I conveniently live on a hill so I literally just had to walk out my front door for this workout. It was a good workout but maybe not on the most humid morning ever. I didn't realize this at first but I soon did once I began sprinting. That's when I thought to myself that I must be insane putting myself through this.

I got it done, though! And this is something that I'm definitely going to incorporate a few times a week after my lifts in the morning. 

So here's what I did: 

Sprint up the hill as fast as possible
Jog back down at a moderate tempo
Rest 10 seconds
Sprint your little heart out again 

I repeated this three times, and then rested for a full minute or else I legit was going to throw up. 

The timing worked out perfectly for me since it took me about 20ish seconds to sprint all the way up the hill, and then 30ish seconds to jog back which left me with the 10 seconds. The timing was completely arbitrary since that's just how it ended up working out for me the first time I did this. 

I liked how it worked, though, so I stuck with it! I did 3 sets of 3 rounds of sprinting if that makes sense. I ended up doing 9 sprints total but just broken up in to 3 sets since I needed a full minute in between a round of 3 sprints. It ended up taking me 11 minutes, and I was POURING sweat on top of the sweat I already worked up from my shoulders circuit! 

I'm a big fan of sprints, though, which probably makes me sound crazy but hey you guys already know I'm a runner at heart. My town has plenty of hills of all shapes and sizes so I'll definitely just work my way around and try this out with various hills! I did a short version since I already did one workout plus I was just trying this one out for fun. I ended up doing this again Thursday morning and it went much, much better! It was a lot cooler and not nearly as humid so I was able to do more rounds without worrying that I was in danger of heat stroke or something. 

My hamstrings and quads definitely felt it the day after so I think it was a success! 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Favorites #18

Good morning everyone! I forgot to post this last Friday before my trip to Connecticut so these are a mesh of favorites from the past two weeks!

1. Surprise from Rachael!

Can we talk about how Rachael is THE SWEETEST person ever?! She sent me and Amanda a box full of goodies, and I can't thank her enough! I'm so thankful that I've been able to connect with her since it was a happy coincidence that I found her when one of her recipes got featured on a blog I follow regularly. I don't think it was actually a coincidence at all because her friendship has become such a wonderful blessing in my life! In fact, we're hoping to plan a little road trip soon this summer to meet in person because that needs to happen! The package was so thoughtful and sweet. She included so many yummy things that me and Amanda have been in snack heaven! Plus, everything was gluten-free so Amanda could enjoy everything too!

2.Kashi Hummus Crisps

So remember when I found a love for Special K barbecue crisps? Well, these hummus ones are even better! My coworker and I had to take a bit of a road trip last week for a home visit to see a participant. It doesn't happen all that often but we had to drive about an hour and a half both ways which meant it was a little road trip! On our way back we stopped at a Sheetz for some snacks since what's a road trip without snacks? I found these Kashi crisps and fell in love!

3. Amazon phone cases 

I will admit that I can be pretty cheap, and will save money wherever I can. This often means that I will sacrifice quality on certain things where I don't really consider spending a lot of money on something that is better quality completely necessary. For example, phone cases. I have never spent more than $5 on a phone case because I just don't see the necessity. I go straight on Amazon, and get all my cases on there! I make sure that they all qualify for free shipping which actually is more common than you might think. I hardly ever pay for that much shipping on Amazon because I'm able to find distributors that don't charge. I have been perfectly happy with all my phone cases that I've gotten from Amazon! I've have my iphone 5 for the past two years, and have probably spent a total of under $20 for all the phone cases I've put on it combined. They don't break either! I'm pretty easy on phones meaning I've never broken one (fingers crossed) so I don't worry about using cheaper cases. I love all the fun colorful options I can find, and I usually get the hard cases that sort of snap on to your phone. I've had nothing but success and highly recommend them!

This is the one I have on my phone currently! 

4. The Platinum Pooch

So I had mentioned before that Layla recently got groomed for the first time. We took her to the Platinum Pooch since my aunt takes Lola there all the time. In the past with our other dogs, we've done the grooming services at say PetSmart or Petco but never at a private groomer. We've never had a longer haired dog so professional grooming was never really a priority. Well, Layla is pretty much a long-haired polar bear and requires a lot more grooming attention! I was really happy with both the price and quality! When I first called to schedule the appointment, the lady was very helpful and professional. She wanted all sorts of information and things about Layla. I also like that she makes sure all of the dogs that come in to her are up to date on their vaccines and such. I'm not sure if that's a basic policy because like I said, we don't have much experience with groomers, but I think it's a good idea! We had to bring in proof of Layla's vaccinations for her appointment. The groomer adored Layla (as most people do haha), and said she did really well. As soon as we mentioned she was half-sisters with Lola, the lady was sold! Lola's wonderful reputation always proceeds her!

5. Psalm 42:11

"Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again- my Savior and my God!"

I love this verse because so often in times of trials or tribulations, we can forget to praise God. It only seems that when something goes our way or when things fall in to place that we think to praise God. Except that's not the only time. We need to remember that God is sovereign and has a plan for each and every one of us. Which means, even in the midst of hardship, he's still miraculous, merciful, loving, faithful, and full of grace. Just because our circumstances might have changed for the worse, God has not. He never changes, and is always there for us. You might be going through a hard time, but there are still things to praise God for, and to be grateful. For example, the fact that he created us, died for us, and loves us. I think those are three pretty big things to be thankful for no matter the situation! Those things are also certainly worthy of praise and worship even if we might be upset about what's going on in our lives. So, I like to keep this verse in mind because it helps me keep things in perspective. I can always put my hope and trust in God because he will never lead me astray or forsake me. No matter what I'm going through, he is still my God and my savior! 

What are some of your favorites from this week??

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Memorial Day Workout

I made it home Monday afternoon a little bit before 4pm, and I was exhausted from driving all day but at the same time I was amped up for a workout. I desperately needed to just work my legs, and get a good sweat going. Amanda and my mom had gone with my family for a dinner but I wasn't home in time to go with them. It worked out, though, since I had plenty of time to workout and get myself settled back in before work on Tuesday!

I debated about the last hour in the car if I was actually going to make it for a workout. I ended up doing it because I honestly didn't know what else I would do with myself. Laying around didn't sound appealing since I had been driving all day, and wanted to stretch my legs out. It was WAY too hot for a run so I opted for one of my trusty random circuits! 

Here's what I ended up doing

10 standing shoulder press
100 high knees
10 spider push-ups
20 alternating bicep curls
100 jumping jacks
25 jumping lunges
20 box lunges (10 per leg)
Sprint up&down stairs 5 times
100 mountain climbers
25 kettle bell swings
50 russian twists
100 jump rope
25 jump squats
Sprint up&down stairs 5 times

Then, I finished off my workout with 30 minutes of incline walking on the treadmill. I do about 3.5-4mph at a 10% incline to really work my abs and quads. My legs needed stretching out after driving all day! For sprinting up and down the stairs, my staircase is about standard I think with 15 steps or so. The end of the circuit was brutal with going straight from the jump squats to sprinting the stairs! I did two rounds of the circuit which took me about 30 minutes and then with the walking it was a total of an hour workout. 

I'm glad that I got it done! It was definitely needed after the long weekend plus I know I indulged a lot. I have no regrets, though, and I'm back on track! 

I easily could have just skipped my workout but really I'm the type of person that doesn't know what else to do with all that extra time haha! I still had plenty of time to get my other stuff done, and more importantly catch up with Layla. Yeah I know I sound crazy but we were able to get in some good quality time! For example:

1. Give Layla a billion kisses as she tackles me when I get in the door
2. Get dressed to workout while she smells everything in my bags
3. Tell Layla how much I missed her as she tackles me again
4. Workout while Layla tries to play wrestle with me
5. Finish workout and give Layla more kisses
6. Snuggle with her as I wait for dinner to cook 
7. Shower and unpack. All while singing along to my music and adding Layla's name in place of certain lyrics (no shame, none at all)
8. Put in a load of laundry as she follows me around
9. Pack my lunch for work while Layla tries to sleep on my feet
10. Promise her that I'll never leave for four whole days again.

Basically as soon as I came home she was glued to my side. It was funny because Amanda was convinced the poor thing was depressed all weekend while I was gone! It was so sweet after Amanda and my mom came home since the three of us caught up on Food Network's Spring Baking Championship. I finally let myself lay down on the couch and as soon as I did Layla hopped up to snuggle! It was different than usual, though, and melted my heart. She curled up on my chest (as best as her 64lb butt could haha) and nuzzled her head under my chin while I had my arms wrapped around her like she was a little baby. Usually when we snuggle she just lays all over me but this time she wanted me to hold her haha! She's such a goofball but I did miss her terribly while I was gone for the weekend.

Now, I'm off to work on catching up on other posts! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Weekend in Connecticut: Healthy Road Trip Snacks!

Hi guys! Sorry that I've totally been off the grid, but I plan on getting some catch-up posts soon! I had full intentions of posting Friday Favorites on Friday morning before I jetted off to visit my best friend in Connecticut but then I completely forgot...typical. So, I thought I'd do a few wrap-up posts about what I was up to this past weekend. Full disclosure: I did not track a single thing or workout at all, I was fully focused on just spending time with one of my best friends! 

Megan moved to Connecticut in January for her new job, and even though I'm thrilled for her since it's an awesome opportunity, we literally have not been farther apart than 10 miles since we became close friends our freshman year of college (six years ago). Which means this has been a bit of an adjustment for us but it gives me an excuse to go on road trips for a girl's weekend!

We both had Memorial day off of work so I picked this past weekend to go see her to save some PTO. It's a bit of a road trip, around 8 1/2 hours, but I don't mind since a) it saves me money spending on gas vs. flying, b) I absolutely hate hate hate flying and pretty sure I'd have a panic attack doing it alone, and c) I like road trips! Eight hours is about my max driving in the car so it worked out perfectly. Another bonus is her parents live exactly halfway right along the way so I stopped Friday at lunch time to catch up with her parents! They're basically like another set of parents to me (I have like six parents at this point haha), and call me their Pittsburgh daughter!

It was such a great weekend in terms of just realizing even more of the blessings in my life, I mean it's just incredible to me! I'm so thankful for all the people in my life, and I even came home to the SWEETEST surprise from Rachael on Monday afternoon. I'll get to that at some point, but she's the best!!

So, Friday after a quick workout, I hit the road around 8am since it would get me there right in time for dinner. I had plans with her parents to go to lunch to take a break from the road, and to catch up with them! I hadn't seen them since December so I was really excited to be able to spend some time with them. It literally works out perfectly that they are right along the way, I just had to hop off the highway right to their exit and then get right back on!

Since I spent most of Friday in the car I prepared some healthier snacks to bring along. I'm the kind of person that hates stopping unless completely necessary. Like we're talking either I'm about to run out of gas or my bladder is gonna burst. I think it has a lot to do with my dad doing that when we were younger so basically road trips are a game of "how long can I possibly go without making any stops" #challengeaccepted.

So there was no way I was going to stop for anything as silly as needing food haha! I always bring my own since it saves me time and money. It's just about planning ahead!

For some reason, goldfish to me just go hand in hand with road trips. It's something we usually packed for the drive when I was younger so they bring back memories! 

Besides the goldfish here's what else I packed: 
2 vanilla NuGo bars
chocolate rice cakes
100-calorie pack of chocolate chip wafers

The hard part was packing protein but what I did was have a protein-packed breakfast before I left, made sure to have chicken on my salad at lunch, and then the same with dinner. I just tried my best to balance things out without tracking anything and having limited options. Again, I wasn't too concerned since it was only going to be three days which in the long-run isn't going to hurt! I was back on track yesterday and today so it'll all even out eventually. 

For lunch, I stopped to see her parents and they took me to a really great salad place. I got the mandarin chicken salad, and made sure to eat all the chicken to hold me over! Like I said, I was probably under on my protein for the day but a few days isn't going to matter much. 

I hit MAJOR traffic about an hour and a half outside where she lives, like right as soon as I crossed over in to Connecticut from New York. It was insane, the three-lane highway was bumper to bumper for miles and miles and miles. Good thing I was alone in the car because I would not have been nice company at that point. I was completely spent from driving the whole day already that I just wanted to get in and see Megan. I broke my no-stopping rule because I did not want to get stuck in this traffic once I really had to go to the bathroom or needed gas. It legitimately took me over half an hour to go not even four miles to the nearest exit. I needed to take a breather from the traffic or else I was going to explode! 

There was a gas station but there wasn't a bathroom which just added to my frustration and I couldn't find a place to be able to run right in and out. I had to back track and drive around this little random town and then finally I found a Starbucks a few miles up the road. Usually I just dash right in and out to use the bathrooms but I felt kinda guilty doing that without buying something. Especially since it was nearly empty and the employees definitely would've noticed. So, I picked up one of these yogurt parfaits and I'm glad I did! Because it turns out I was going to be stuck in traffic for another 2 hours, and this held me over nicely. 

It was surprisingly delicious and ended up being most of my dinner! When I got to Megan's around 8pm she had ordered take-out which I picked at a bit but I was so tired at that point. She poured me some wine and we crashed on the couch with some Netflix, and called it a night soon afterwards! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Strawberry & Almond Butter Wrap

In a classic Sam move, I was packing my lunch the other night, and decided to try something random. Amanda was in the kitchen when I started and her comment was: "that looks....interesting", and I told her well it's either gonna turn out awesome or I'm gonna need a back-up plan for lunch tomorrow. 

Considering that I'm posting about this I think you can take a good guess that it turned out a success! I won't even mention how many random things I've thrown together that haven't made it to the blog. Too many to count ha! 

The thought occurred to me as I was standing in front of the fridge and trying to figure out what I wanted to eat for lunch. I suddenly got the weirdest cravings for crepes, and then my eyes landed on two things: wraps and fresh strawberries. And then a light bulb went off in my head! 

What if I made a wrap for lunch mimicking a crepe?! Sounded good to me so I decided to go for it! 

Besides, I couldn't pass up a chance to use these strawberries! I love that everything is coming in season, not to mention the drop in prices of fresh produce. These guys were perfectly ripe and sweet! 

These are one of my favorite brands of wraps. I can usually only find them at the one grocery store near my house but it's so much more expensive than Trader Joe's that I hardly ever go. I usually only go there in case of emergencies like for one or two ingredients on the fly so this past weekend when I was there I decided to pick up these! 

Strawberries and almond butter are one of my favorite combinations! For crepes I always use a hazelnut spread but we were out, and I wanted almond butter anyway. It was freshly homemade so of course I couldn't pass it up! I make it just like the honey roasted peanut butter in the food processor or our ninja blender. For almond butter, I like the dry roasted and 50% less salt almonds from Trader Joe's, comes out perfectly every time! 

So for the wrap here's what I used: 
1 wrap
2 tsp almond butter
1 1/2 tbsp plain greek yogurt
1 packet stevia
1 cup strawberries

I started out with the layer of almond butter, and then put the greek yogurt on top of it. I wanted the greek yogurt to be in place of whipped cream that you would find in a crepe, and this is where Amanda commented "interesting" since we weren't sure if the wrap would get soggy or not overnight. Not to worry, though, it was perfect the next day! Actually I think it worked out better since everything sort of came together while sitting in the fridge. Or what the food experts would say "marry" which I just think is a funny word when talking about food haha. 

I sprinkled the stevia over the greek yogurt to sweeten it up a bit before topping it off with the strawberries! 

The finished product! I have one today for lunch, too, and I can't wait! The next five hours cannot pass by quickly enough. 

What's a recipe that you've thrown together last-minute?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Honesty Hour: The Loosely-Tracking Thing

So since I've been loosely tracking lately, I figured it'd be a good time to do a post because let me tell you it is not as easy as it might sound. Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full. Well, easier said than done! It's something that I'm slowly trying to gain back, but there have definitely been bumps in the road the past couple months.

Okay before I get in to the rest of this you might be asking me "Sam you're so confusing, what on earth do you mean by loosely tracking?!". I can guess this because Amanda has pretty much been confused about what I've been doing for the past couple months. Well first and foremost it means: I track when I feel like it. There aren't really any specific rules, and I don't plan out my macros for the next day anymore. I put stuff in every day but then things might change, I might eat stuff that I don't necessarily track, or I forget to delete things that I was planning on eating but didn't. I don't always check my total macros to see what they are for the day, I just sorta plug foods in and go. Some days are more relaxed than others, but I mainly use the app still for adding in new recipes that I've created to see the macro breakdown or checking the nutrition facts for local restaurants when I'm eating out. Stuff like that.

 In fact, I'm about halfway tempted to just completely delete the app from my phone because even now I like to know what's in certain recipes that I calculate. I don't necessarily always track them, but I just like to know the ratio of macros in what I make. I think it's time that I tackle that but I will be 100% completely honest, the thought of doing that gives me anxiety. I'm able to do it if it's a treat but on a daily basis? Still a struggle. So deleting the app off my phone entirely would truly challenge me in ways that I've yet to conquer. 

The first and biggest hurdle so far is I struggle with fats both intuitively and mentally. It's always been one that way for me from my restrictive days because I was told by my doctor that I wasn't getting enough fats specifically. Usually you'll hear a lot of girls say they were afraid of carbs but for me it was definitely fats. It threw off my entire hormonal balance since I wasn't producing enough estrogen because I was at a low body weight because I wasn't eating enough. Well, you get the idea. It wasn't healthy for me, and a very very common misconception is that fats are 'bad'. I definitely was in that mindset for about two years. Well, they're not bad! In fact, your body NEEDS them. 

I'm easily able to intuitively eat protein without guilt or hesitation because I'm always like "straight to my quadzz please", and carbs I also understand I need for fuel for runs and lifts. I'm able to ration with myself and be like "well, I ate oats for breakfast so maybe at lunch it'll be more of a protein ratio. dinner can be a lean protein and veggies. maybe a starch if I didn't have oats for breakfast" etc. Protein and carbs are easy for me to balance. 

Then, throw in fats and I completely stall. Uhhh...did I even macro?

I don't know what it is about them, but I think it's just because fats can be hidden in a lot of foods to me. For example wraps and breads, almond milk, olive oil, coconut oil, even protein powder or something like that all of which I eat on a daily basis. I forget about that because I'm just thinking about peanut butter. I mean, I think I'm always thinking about peanut butter haha! 

My point is I'm afraid that I won't account for all those little hidden fats. Yeah, they can only be a couple grams but those can add up! Especially when my maintenance fat macro is about 50g (calculated by a professional coach, so please comments to yourselves!). And the fact that I just want to eat a lot of peanut butter. 

Anyway, the reason I'm blabbering on about this problem with fats is that I clearly was skimping on them in my fear of going over on fats. I would hesitate before eating something with a higher fat content (i.e. peanut butter) because then I second guessed myself that maybe I already had enough fats for the day. I was playing it too safe and ended up not meeting my usual fat quota for the day. 

How did I know this? I started craving almond butter. 

For some reason, that is my body's go-to signal when I really, really want almond butter. This happened to me two years ago when my body was practically screaming at me for food. And for some reason, almond butter and almond milk do the trick. It's like I can't get enough. I could eat almond butter out of the jar with a spoon, and chug almond milk out of the carton. I mean I usually do those things anyway but within moderation! 

It was weird because we usually have almond butter in the house but it always ends up playing second fiddle to peanut butter for obvious reasons haha. But then all of a sudden I kept passing up the peanut butter for almond butter. One day I stopped to think about that, and then it clicked. 

"I'm not getting enough fats, am I?" 

Amanda also commented the other week and asked if I had lost weight. She said something off hand like "I always just worry a bit about you". I took a step back, and mentally thought about what I ate on a daily basis-- usually lean meats, egg whites, fresh fruits & veggies, and possibly oats. Sounds healthy, I know, but where were the fats? I wasn't allowing myself hardly any nut butters or cheeses because I was trying to account for all those other little fats. It turns out, I was wayyy under. No wonder I dropped some weight because I wasn't making up for those calories in protein or carbs either. 

I was unknowingly putting myself in a deficit, and then my body started to let me know. At first I did all the typical things like make sure I was getting enough water, enough sleep, eating enough fiber with fruits and veggies, etc. Just covering the rest of my bases in case the cravings for almond butter indicated something else my body needed. 

At the end of the day, though, it was pretty simple. My body needed more fats so I'm listening! Legit just downed a tablespoon of almond butter before writing this haha! Lately I'm making sure to incorporate more nut butters, and I'm not complaining because I just dip my little tablespoon (or finger) in to the jar and have at it! I know, I have no house manners as Amanda likes to remind me. In my mind, though, if we can share a jar of nut butter and dip our fingers in it then we're pretty close haha! Out of consideration for Amanda, I do make sure to clean the spoon each time I dip so that I'm not "germing up the jar" as she puts it. 

We'll see how it goes and if my body gets happier. Right now I still crave almond butter every so often but it's getting better as I feed my body more fats. Even though there are days where I can eat everything in sight, I have to take it slow. I have to reason with myself because even though my body is telling me something, I have to add it back in gradually. Just like with my reverse, I have to give my body enough time to adjust to the changes! I guess the one good thing about this accidental cut shows that my metabolism was on point. After spending how many months rebuilding it, I'm glad that it actually did my body good! Even if it wasn't my original intention to lose weight, the fact that I did tells me that my metabolism is doing much better. When I first started with my coach, I wanted to lean out a bit but my body was stubborn because my metabolism wasn't as repaired as we originally thought. Since my body wouldn't cooperate, my coach recommended reversing. The funny thing is, I started seeing the results I wanted once I began increasing my calories (**not always typical!!**). Just goes to show the human body can surprise you! 

So, there's been a learning curve but I'm taking it one day at a time. I knew that it would be hard to go with loosely tracking but I also didn't want to quit cold turkey. More honestly I didn't 100% trust myself either to just dive in. Maybe some day soon, possibly the next few weeks, I'll delete myfitnesspal off my phone entirely which might either give me a heart attack or a sense of relief. I can't explain it but I know that depending on something to track my food is not healthy long-term but it also played a huge part in helping me learn about macros and restoring balance so it was also good for me. Does that make sense at all or just make me sound crazy?

Anyway, this sure hasn't been easy but then again as they say: if it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Saturday Trip to Bridges!

Hello all! This weekend we didn't have the best weather but Amanda and I were still able to squeeze in a quick trip to pick up some plants on Saturday morning before the storms hit. There's a local farm that's about 15 minutes from our house that my aunt introduced us to about two years ago now. They grow all the vegetables and flowers, and then sell them for people to plant in their own gardens.

Since Amanda has been determined to get her garden to be successful this year, we made our annual trip this past Saturday!

They have a ton of variety of vegetable plants to choose from! There's also plenty of fresh herbs, and a whole other greenhouse for flowers. 

Someone rode along for the trip! She loves car rides and does so well. She hung out in the car since you can park right in front of the greenhouses (don't worry we make sure to leave the windows down for her!). We left her in charge of greeting every single person she could as they passed our car haha! 

Also, she just got groomed for the first time on Friday! It was about time since her hair and tail feathers were getting out of control. The lady absolutely loved her and said she did really well! I admit, I got nervous for her since she's never been to the groomers before. But she looks so pretty :)

The way it works is you pick out a cardboard box flat, and fill it up with whatever you want! Amanda picked out a little bit of everything. I told her as long as I get my usual basil plant, I don't really care what else she puts in her garden! 

I also specially requested these guys because I think they're the cutest little flowers! I always like to have some newly planted around the house each summer. I love the bright colors, and how fuzzy they look! 

A new addition this year were the beet plants! I did get really excited when we found those because I love beets, and if they actually grow I'm going to try making my own beet hummus! 

We filled up two flats with everything ranging from basil, parsley, a billion types of tomatoes (I have no idea why Amanda wanted so many haha), beets, and other veggies! 

But the highlight every year? The fresh asparagus! I have never had better asparagus than what we've found at Bridges. It is so crisp, fresh, and not to mention gigantic! These aren't no flimsy little stalks of asparagus. In fact, I usually don't eat asparagus raw but as soon as we got in the car, I dug in! I shared some with Layla and she loved it, too. It's entirely safe for your dog to eat, so I usually give her the ends of my pieces that are a little tougher. She's not picky at all so she doesn't mind one bit!

I love going to Bridges because I think it's great to be able to hand-pick your produce from an actual farm, and the prices are so reasonable! The other reason I like going is the owners also breed Rottweilers and they honestly have some of the most beautiful dogs I've ever seen. Last year when we went the guy was showing me one of the puppies and if Amanda wasn't there to stop me, Layla would have gotten a Rottie sister haha! Their dogs are so pretty and sweet, I keep telling Amanda that one of these times I'm actually going to get one! My dog craziness cannot be contained. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Favorites #17

1. Sky Spills Over by Michael W. Smith

I am obsessed with this song!! In fact I'm listening to it right now for the second time in a row as I work on this post. It came on K-Love the other day and it was just that type of song where as soon as I heard it I cranked up the volume. Drops in the Ocean still also has that effect on me, too! Then, I promptly went home and bought this song haha! I love the beat, lyrics, melody, message, I mean everything possible that I could like about the song I love. One of my favorite ways to start the day is with positive and upbeat music such as this song! Some people might like to read scripture or have quiet time first thing in the morning but I find that music is how I like to start my day with God. 

2. No Wait App

I had no idea this app existed until last week when we took my dad out to dinner for his birthday. I had been looking to make reservations and was bummed out when the restaurant never offered them but they suggested using this app as an alternative. It turns out it's really cool! Not all restaurants are on it but you can search on the app to see if the one you want is, and then you can see whether they're seating or if there's a line. If there is a line, you can put your name in! It'll tell you how many people are ahead of you and the approximate wait time. Sienna Mercato was on the app, and I was able to keep checking to see if a wait had started or not. Luckily it didn't since there was tons of traffic on our way in, but it was nice and convenient to be able to check! If you do have to put your name in for a table, you just say how many is in your party and then they'll text you. Once you download the app you have to fill out an account and stuff including your phone number so that the restaurant will know how to reach you. It's crazy how people come up with ideas for all these apps! 

3. Cookies 'n Cream Protein Shake

As I said earlier in the week, Margot is a genius and I'm so glad she gave me the idea for almond milk ice cubes because I've had this protein shake after every workout this week! I'm a fan of anything cookies and cream, and my one cousin and I were joking that no one should bother creating any other flavor haha! Everything could be just cookies and cream, and we would be happy. 

4. Sienna Mercato 

Amanda and I took our dad to dinner last week for his birthday, and his pick was Sienna Mercato. I would love to go back there soon, but the only problem is fighting our way downtown to get there. We made the mistake last Thursday because we didn't know there was a baseball game going on. It was INSANE, and legitimately took us an hour to get from my work to downtown which is probably only a whopping 3 miles tops. As we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic I reminded myself why I avoid the city in the first place, but Sienna Mercato ended up being worth it! We were pressed for time to get to the show but our waiter understood, and took great care of us! We were able to get our appetizer, entrees, and ice cream in all under an hour. The food and service were both great, and I would definitely like to go back again! My favorite part is how they support local farms which I always think is a great cause. 

5. Ephesians 6:18

Pray in the spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 

Raise your hand if you're like me and often need to work on your prayer life! I will be totally upfront and admit that prayer is a weaker area in my faith that I have consciously been trying to change. Don't get me wrong, I still pray on a daily basis but they're short little things that I throw up randomly to God. I really want to work on spending longer periods of time praying, and also praying for others. Usually before when I would pray it was something about me and what I needed, and I'm not saying that's always a bad thing but it's not the only thing I need to pray about. As I've been working on this I've noticed that my prayers are changing. It's more about asking God to change myself to be what he needs me to be, rather than praying to ask God for something that I think I need. For example, when I would pray about making a decision for grad school I would ask that God would show me the best option that would lead me to be the person he needed me to be. To learn the things that would end up shaping me to be the person to do his work, whatever that might be. So I love this scripture because it is a reminder to me to work on my prayer life, and to stay in the spirit at all times. It's not about when I would throw hail Marys to God to help me get through something. I want to always be praying whether if I am in a hard situation or not. When my BSF class started Moses this past September, the first thing that struck me about Moses was he was a great man of prayer. He wouldn't take a single step without God, and when I read about his relationship with God my heart longed for something like that. Again, I admit I don't always do that but I've been working on it and the more I pray, the more I notice the change. So keeping this scripture in mind helps me a lot!

Oh, and the most important Friday favorite this week? Margot comes home tomorrow for the summer!! I can't even tell you how excited I am to see her, and all of the plans we have together. We've been sending recipes on Pinterest back and forth to each other like crazy haha! If you opened our direct message, I'm pretty sure it would cause immediate drooling because of all the yummy recipes that are on our list to make! 

What are some of your favorites from this week??

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cookies 'N Cream Protein Shake

I would first like to start off this post by letting you know that Margot is a complete genius. She gets full credit for the success of this recipe since she gave me the idea of a critical ingredient: almond milk ice cubes! 

Say what? 

I've been experimenting lately with creating a cookies 'n cream protein shake, and was talking it over with Margot. I wanted to make it thicker but didn't want to use frozen banana in case it tasted too banana-y or even regular ice cubes because that might water it down. I wanted something to give the shake a mild flavor but needed it to be frozen to give it a thicker texture. Then, she was like well why don't you freeze almond milk in to ice cubes? And, then, I told her she was the smartest person alive and wanted to hug her via text message. Pretty soon I won't have to do that, though, since she'll be home in a few days! FOR THE WHOLE SUMMER!! 

So now that we've established Margot is a genius, we can get on to the recipe! It's very simple but it is something that you need to prep ahead of time since the ice cubes need to freeze overnight. 

All I did was take a standard ice cube tray and fill it up with unsweetened vanilla almond milk. You can use any kind of milk you want with this recipe! Almond milk is just my favorite in general. I froze about 10 ice cubes since I didn't know how many I would need but ended up using only about half of that. 

So for the recipe you'll need: 
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of instant Oreo pudding
4-5 almond milk ice cubes 
1 1/2 cups almond milk 
3/4-1 scoop vanilla protein powder of your choice 

You can use any protein powder but this is one of my favorites to use in protein shakes since it dissolves nicely, and the macros are really good too! 

Put everything in a blender, blend, and enjoy!

I topped mine off with whipped cream, 1 mini Oreo crumbled up, and then a drizzle of Walden Farms chocolate sauce. Of course the toppings are optional buuuut are they really?!

Sorry that the pictures are a tad blurry but I had just finished a killer leg workout on Saturday morning when I made this, and my legs were shakin' big time! So it was hard to stand still enough to get a good picture! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Greek Food Festival & Weekend Catch-up!

So on Friday morning I got to have one of my rare mornings where I could actually take my time, and have breakfast and coffee before leaving the house! I always love those mornings especially because I have time to call Layla over and tell her "it's time for morning cuddles" and she hops up in to my lap haha! Yes, I might have taught my dog to cuddle on command for my own personal benefit...

The reason I got to take my time was that I only had to work a half day since I ended up working a few late nights during the week. Like I said, I love the flexibility with my job! 

I took my time with my workout, and then had a greek yogurt parfait for my post-workout breakfast! And, of course, you'll never find me having breakfast without coffee. Important side note: but I recently got a caramal vanilla latte creamer and it's amazing! 

Back to the food, I know, I'll stay on track from now on I promise. It had: 
7 oz plain chobani greek yogurt
1/3 cup strawberry halves
1/4 cup cereal 

I'm loving how all of the fresh fruits are coming in season! 

No, this isn't how we cuddle in the mornings but when I got home the lazy bum was so tired she hardly had her usual energy when greeting me. Usually I wait until she calms down and sits and only then will I bend down to pet her, but on Friday she had just woken up from her afternoon nap and promptly fell back asleep! I was petting her and she started closing her eyes and kept slouching over until she fell all the way to the floor haha! I've said it a million times before but she is seriously such a goofball. 

For dinner, the whole family met up at a Greek Food festival that has sort of become a tradition in our family the past couple years. When my mom first had her aneurysm in May 2013, my aunt, grandma, Amanda and I were driving home from the hospital when we saw the signs. My family will never pass up Greek food so we figured we would stop! Then, last year to celebrate my mom's 1-year anniversary we took her to the festival so it was only fitting that we take her again this year! I still can't believe it's been two years since everything happened, and if you want the full story you can check out what my sister Amanda posted on her blog. God has certainly done amazing things for my family! 

Now, in my opinion, the main thing how this Greek Food Festival differs from the one by my house that always happens in June, is that this festival puts feta on their fries (insert three billion heart eyes emojis). I'm thinking of tipping off my one friend who's mom is in charge of most of the food at the festival by my house that they should start putting feta on their fries, too! 

The one thing that I always have to get is spanakopita. It is my all-time favorite Greek dish, and it's basically spinach and feta pie with the filo dough as the crust. It's flaky & crunchy from the filo, gooey from the warm feta, and loaded with spinach! 

And, of course, gyros! I like that at this festival they also have vegetarian or chicken options in addition to the traditional lamb. These gyros are also very messy and you have to eat a lot of the fillings first to even try to get the pita closed! No complaints about that here though. 

Amanda and I split part of one since she wasn't sure how much gluten she'd be able to handle. I didn't want a whole gyro since they're enormous and I wanted room for the spanakopita and fries, and some pastries too! Baklava is another favorite of mine. Everything was absolutely delicious! Mediterranean food is definitely my favorite cuisine.  

Saturday for lunch I met up with my best friend from college who was in town for a wedding. She recently moved to Connecticut this past January so I was really excited to be able to see her! I'm actually going to visit her over Memorial Day weekend so I knew I was going to be seeing her soon, but I'll take any and all visits I can get! 

Then, my best friend from high school was in town from Michigan where she's currently getting her PhD. So, Saturday night her and my other best friend from high school met up for ice cream, and then sat out on her deck just drinking wine and catching up! It was the perfect night weather-wise, and plus sitting around drinking wine is definitely my kind of girl's night. I don't like going out at all, and this way I can still be home and in bed by 11pm haha! I have no shame in being a grandma. 

For Mother's Day we kept it pretty simple. Amanda made my mom these chocolate chip scones for breakfast before church from Amy's Healthy Baking, and they were delicious! Then, we went to my dad's house for lunch since he was having my aunt and grandma over for a grill-out and we wanted to be able to see them on Mother's Day as well. After lunch, we came home to spend more time with our mom! Dinner wasn't anything fancy, but the important thing is that we were able to spend time together since two years ago we wouldn't have thought that possible! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Potted Potter & Sienna Mercato

For my dad's birthday, Amanda and I got him tickets to see Potted Potter. It was playing in one of the theaters down town so my dad suggested we grab dinner before the show. Pittsburgh has definitely hopped on board with all sorts of trendy restaurants lately, I was really surprised! The only problem is they're all downtown and I'm just not willing to fight the traffic to get down there. 

Since it was for the birthday boy we let him pick, and his suggestion was Sienna Mercato! The restaurant is split in to three separate levels. The first is called Emporio and it's mostly meatballs which sounds random but it's really popular! The second level is Mezzo which is the one we went to. Then, the third level is a roof top patio where they serve craft beers and appetizers. Even though all three are Sienna Mercato, they're considered separate. Like you can't just restaurant hop all three levels at once! You pay and order separately at each one. 

I'm usually not one to follow trendy restaurants or care all that much. To be honest, that's not my scene at all because I'm the sit-out-on-the-deck and grill type. I'd much rather eat at home than go out to fancy places! 

But I was a big fan of Sienna Mercato! My favorite part is it's all farm-to-table where they get all of their produce and meats from local farms around Pittsburgh. They had a whole list of the farms they support at the back of the menu which I thought was neat! It's always awesome to hear of places supporting local farms. 

Me and Amanda were also slightly obsessed with the bottles they left on the table for us to refill our waters. 

I also like the atmosphere in general, and the decor. It was very rustic with a lot of woodwork, worn bricks, and antique furniture. 

I ordered the arugula salad! It looks much bigger in the picture but the portion sizes were perfect! We all split the cheese plate as an appetizer where it's a sample of five fresh cheeses again from local farms in the area. All of the cheeses were amazing! My salad had arugula, little slices of fingerling potatoes, pecorino cheese, and pistachio pieces with a pistachio vinaigrette. The other thing that won me over is they put on the perfect amount of salad dressing. That's huge in my opinion! Every time I go out to eat I order the dressing on the side because I feel as though the lettuce is drowning with the amount they pour on. This pistachio vinaigrette was on the creamier side but it was very light, and I was actually able to taste the arugula and the other parts of the salad! 

My dad ordered a pasta dish with braised beef, and it was simply amazing! The beef was so tender, and I loved the sauce. I think it was wine or vinegar based which again made it on the lighter side. I'm not usually a fan of heavy cream sauces so I loved this dish. 

The show was absolutely HILARIOUS! Talk about comedic genius! The guys who developed this are probably borderline crazy haha but they sure know how to entertain an audience. There was even an interactive Quidditch came with the audience which was fun. Two little kids were volunteers to be the seekers for each team, and their job was to tackle the one actor who dressed up to be the snitch. He was in a giant yellow ball and ran around randomly flapping his arms while blowing on a bazooka haha! 

The best part was it was only two British guys, and a collection of random stage props. I'm pretty sure a lot of it was improvised, too, because at one point the second actor did something really funny that I don't think the first one expected and he nearly lost his cool! He was pretending to narrate from the book at that time so he just held it over his face but I could tell he was laughing from the way his arm was shaking, and how the people down front were responding. 

If you're a big fan of Harry Potter and parody then this is the show for you! The cool part is it originated in England but now they play shows all across America, too. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Favorites #16

I'm warning you guys now that I probably will not be posting much in the next few days. Thank goodness for being able to schedule posts ahead of time so that I can get the usual Friday Favorites up without having to do it myself! It's going to be a jam-packed weekend because I'm celebrating my dad's birthday, Mother's Day is Sunday, there's a greek food festival that's calling my name, and my best friend from high school and my best friend from college both texted me saying they'll be in town for the weekend. Which means there will be lots and lots to do! I can't wait!

So here's the usual with some of my favorites this past week:

1. Vitafusion Calcium gummies

Yes I am 23 years old, and yes I am only able to remember to take vitamins if they are in gummy-form. These calcium vitamins are amazing, though, I actually look forward to taking them haha! The funny thing is Hannah would always snag some when she came over so when I found a pack of 2 at Sam's club for the price of 1 at regular stores, I obviously picked them up! Since I'm the best cousin ever, I gave her one of the bottles, and now I'm her favorite person ever. If you can't tell, we're very simple people. It doesn't take a lot to get us excited! I do think it's important, though, especially for women to take calcium supplements and I have been told specifically by my orthopedic doctors before. Just overall with my genetics, smaller bone frame, and running activity they have always recommended me to be on a calcium supplement. Having these gummies around ensures that I take them!

2. Sadie Robertson's Instagram

Duck Dynasty is a big favorite in my family, and I absolutely love the show in general. Not only are they all hilarious and make entertaining tv, I love the family values and emphasis on faith. I saw an interesting article posted awhile ago about why (if you're a parent) you'd want your young daughter to follow Sadie Roberton's Instagram versus whichever of those Kardashian girls are 17 years old (Kendall maybe?). I'm not entirely sure which Kardashian it is because I can't stand any of them, but I think it was either Kendall or Kylie. Maybe it was Kylie. I have no idea, I'm gonna google it eventually but the article had very good points. Sadie is so sweet, modest, and inspirational. I love following her because she's a very good role model for young women!

3. Oakland Greek Food Festival

This food festival is kind of becoming a tradition the past couple years. We first found it in May 2013 when my mom was in the hospital, and saw it on our way driving home. There's always a big Greek Food Festival in Oakmont every year so as soon as we saw the sign for this one we wanted to check it out! I will never ever under any circumstances pass up gyros, spanakopita, or baklava. We then took my mom there May of last year to celebrate the 1-year anniversary! It's crazy to think that it's been a whole 2 years since everything happened, but not a day goes by that I don't wonder in awe of God's awesomeness. After all, He gets all the credit for how far we've made it!

4. Potted Potter

As part of my dad's birthday celebration, Amanda and I bought him tickets to see Potted Potter since it was coming to Pittsburgh. Basically it's a parody of all 7 of the Harry Potter books condensed in to 70 minutes and it's hilarious! The entire audience was in stitches pretty much the entire time because everything they did was funny! All three of us are big fans of the books, and I heard really good reviews so I wanted to take my dad. The three of us went out to dinner before catching the show, and I'll get to posting about the dinner soon because we tried out one downtown that I've never been to before!

5. Beet Hummus

Guys I think I'm in love. I wish I could hug whoever decided to put beets and hummus together because I think they're the smartest person alive. This stuff is seriously out of this world! The best part is they leave CHUNKS of beets through the hummus, and it makes me so happy. I've actually seen some recipes lately for homemade beet hummus which I'm definitely going to need to try out soon!

What are some of your favorites from this week?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Your Questions About Layla Answered!

So it's no secret that Layla is a huge part of my blog. Again, I make no apologies because the little bugger makes me happy :) But, I get a lot of questions about her and figured this would be an easy way to just condense the most common ones. 

1. What kind of dog is she?

Layla's a Golden Retriever! Which kind of leads into the second one. 

2. Is Layla pure Golden Retriever? Why is she so light?

As for her coloring, I can't answer specifically since that's all genetic. I do know that she is purebred, there's a fancy little certificate that proves it but I could care less about that! Both her parents were very light in coloring so I think that contributes to it. People always ask us if she is a specially bred white Golden but she's not! Just lucked out with the gene pool :) 

3. Why would you get a dog from a breeder when you can rescue?

Layla is the first and probably only animal that I will ever get from a breeder. Nothing against breeders or people who go to breeders! I just prefer to rescue animals because I know it's hard for so many to find good homes. All of our cats and previous dogs were rescue animals. 

There was one major reason as to why I caved and agreed to go with a breeder: my mom. We needed a dog that could be molded to our lifestyle with my mom. I know that a rescue dog could as well and believe me, we tried! I couldn't tell you how many dogs I looked at but there were too many that just didn't suit our needs. I actually found one dog and we brought her home but it was a disaster. The dog turned out to be nothing like we had been told. She was territorial, had no training, and extremely aggressive with the cats. It was way too stressful and Amanda came to me, pleading to get a puppy because she needed a dog that she could start with at square one to raise with our lifestyle. 

So I finally agreed once we sat down as a family, and both my mom and sister voted for a puppy. And we knew there was only one place we would go which is where my aunt got her golden, Lola six years ago. She's absolutely perfect and what we were looking for in a dog. When we found out a puppy from one of the newest litters would be half-siblings with Lola, we were sold! Yeah, we paid a pretty penny for a purebred but I wanted everything that this breeder is known for: family dog, friendly, even temperament, smart, easy to train, loveable, loyal. I mean everything that is true to a Golden Retriever's nature and this lady has perfected specially breeding those characteristics! 

I have no regrets because Layla has turned out to be exactly what my family needed. She is so loving and gentle, and my mom absolutely adores her! She is the perfect snuggle buddy for my mom, and keeps her company during the day. I also trained Layla to adapt to my mom with simple commands since my mom still uses her cane to walk. It's not always necessary now though since Layla has learned to be conscious of my mom's movements. 

I'm not going to lie, it's been a pretty neat experience raising a puppy. It's a different kind of bond than what I've had with my other dogs because Layla regards me both as her leader but also has a blind trust in me that older dogs can have a harder time developing with people. I'm not saying it's impossible for them to do that, but since Layla has only known love, she's trusted me and all other people completely since day one.

4. How big is Layla?

She's not yet full-grown but she was 6 pounds when we got her at 2 months old and now she's pushing 70 pounds...and still growing!

The first day when we picked her up! She was such a tiny bean! 

5. How old is Layla?

She just turned a year old in December! She was born December 14th, 2013

6. Is Layla your dog?

This one can come off as confusing because I do live with my mom and sister so Layla is technically a family dog. However, it's pretty clear that I have a very close bond with her. I'm not home during the day as I work full-time but when I am home and on the weekends, she's by my side constantly. She even sleeps in my bed! She has plenty and I mean PLENTY of love to go around, though, so she's always sweet and loving with everyone. She just happens to be my little side kick :) 

Hahaha I always laugh at Cosmo's face in this picture "no, no, no I do NOT want to be your pillow right now"

7. How did you train Layla?

I did a lot of research on raising puppies and training them in the months before we got Layla. We had plenty of time to prepare because we put ourselves on the list in November and had until February until we actually picked her up. I read some books on both training and behavior, Googled a lot of stuff, created a whole Pinterest board (#lolz), and watched YouTube videos. I had never raised a puppy before and wanted to be prepared.

Let me warn you: nothing can ever fully prepare you for it if you've never raised a puppy. It's a lot of work. Completely worth it but a lot of work!

The most helpful books that I got out of the library were:
Caesar's Way
Be The Pack Leader
How to Speak Dog
The Other End of the Leash

For the basic commands, I just watched a lot of YouTube videos! They were also great for learning how to teach bite inhibition, how to stop chewing, and socializing. I made sure to expose her to as much as possible from the start so that she would learn to be comfortable and confident in any situation. I think that also helps a lot with developing trust because if a dog can see that you will properly lead them and guide them through new experiences, they'll trust you more. I don't want to baby her but if I see if she's nervous, I might give her a reassuring pat or a simple command to give her something to do to increase her confidence. Just so that she can see it's nothing to be afraid of, even if it's something as silly as the vacuum running. That way if she's confronted with a situation where she's unsure, her response will be more likely to look to me for guidance rather than potentially result in fear aggression. I'm not saying it's a proven method or will work for all dogs, but it works for Layla!

With potty training, we did crate-train her for this one. I used to be adamantly against crates of any kind but Layla hasn't used hers since she was 6 months old. Our breeder recommended crate training and it's what my aunt did with Lola and there's no denying it's efficient and effective. I only had to take Layla out in the middle of the night the first night she was home and once when she was 4 months when she had diarrhea. Other than that she sleeps through the night and has never woken me up to go outside. I think that when used properly and effectively, crates are fine for potty-training young puppies. She doesn't need it now because from day one we set healthy boundaries with Layla and taught her what was appropriate to chew (her toys) and what wasn't. She doesn't need a crate when we're gone because she doesn't get in to things she's not supposed to. Her bag of dog food is even right in the dining room where she could easily rip into it but she doesn't touch it! 

Always looking to play!

The main thing? Getting her to stay calm and remember her manners when greeting people. It's something I still work with her every day and has been THE biggest challenge with her training. She goes absolutely berserk with joy over meeting new people. I mean I have yet to see another dog even rival her enthusiasm for people and other dogs. I'm not even exaggerating and you could probably say "well that's my dog, too" but no I'm serious. I've never seen or dealt with a friendlier dog in my life. No lie it's been a pain because it's an entirely new learning experience for me, and she still has a long way to go with it but I would rather have her be over-friendly than under-friendly. I can confidently say that I trust this dog around everyone of any age and all other animals. She's a total sweetheart and only wants to love!

Overall, my biggest piece of advice: consistency! Affection is definitely necessary but discipline needs to be a bigger priority or your dog is going to try to run the household. I will be the first to admit, Layla is spoiled BUT she is not in charge. She knows who the boss is and that is the result of consistency.

About 10 months old here. 

 8. How did you train her to run with you?

I'm working on that post! Like the rest of her training it just took patience and consistency. I'm no expert at dog training but I'm happy to share the tips that I found most useful when introducing her to running. Remember, though, not all dogs like to run! Layla happens to love it so it was easier to train her since she enjoys running with me. 

I hope this answers a lot of your questions!