Being Adaptable and Staying Positive

I have changed course many times in the last 5 or 6 years since beginning college. I started college at Paradise Valley Community College to run track and study business. I knew it was common for people to switch majors throughout college, but I did not realize how difficult it could be to decide on one. Throughout my two years at PVCC, I fluctuated between business, exercise science, mathematics, and eventually landed on teaching English. I was able to decide on teaching English because I reframed how I was approaching my major. I was struggling to pick a major because I did not know what I wanted to do with a degree once I got it. I decided that I might be better off picking a job and then going back and finding an appropriate major that would set me up for success in that career field.

            I knew that I wanted to see the world and I knew that if money wasn’t a factor that I would be a teacher. So, I boiled it down to wanting to teach, wanting to make money, and wanting to travel. After doing some research I found that teaching English abroad would be the perfect way to achieve all three. I could make a decent wage, live abroad, and teach! My plan, while abroad, was to also study the education systems I taught in so that I could eventually come back and figure out how to help our education system here. What I didn’t realize at the time I made this plan, was that my motivations were backwards.

Celebrating finishing college before going right back to college!

Celebrating finishing college before going right back to college!

            When I transferred to Arizona State University to begin working on my degree in secondary education and began interning in schools, I realized just how poor our education here is. At first, this reinforced my desire to go abroad. I was just going to steer clear of the craziness that is going on here and head out. But, in my last semester of the program during my student teaching, I became interested in graduate school. With graduate school, I would still be sticking around for a while longer, postpone my teaching a little bit, and setting myself up for bigger possibilities for a career in education. Still with the teaching English abroad plan in mind however, I applied for a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MTESOL).

            I realized upon starting the semester in the MTESOL program, that MTESOL is a much more research-based degree based on the theory behind second language acquisition and not necessarily a teaching degree. This realization did two things for me: one, I decided that second language acquisition, while interesting, was not really a career path that I wanted to dedicate myself to, and two, I realized I have an interest in research. So, now I have switched majors at the Associate level, the Bachelor level, and now the Masters level. I have decided to switch out of the MTESOL program and am now in the application process for getting into a program called Learning Sciences.

            Learning Sciences is a little more focused on educational research and considers the systems behind learning in a variety of contexts. I think it is a cool degree because it goes beyond just education in the classroom and studies what learning looks like in other environments and systems as well. I excited for yet another change of pace and can’t wait to see what I can accomplish in a program that I feel is better aligned with my motivations. I have come to realize that I do not need to wait to try help our education system in the future when I can get started on it now.

            Ultimately, the point of this post is not to go on and on about the different kinds of graduate degrees that ASU offers, the point I really want to illustrate is that it is completely fine to decide that you don’t like something and switch gears. You can do all this planning and have it all laid out and the suddenly something new enters your world and changes your perspective on things. Or, you might get started and have an epiphany a few weeks into your new graduate program that perhaps you did not fully understand your own motivations. Whatever happens, it is important to be adaptable. Destinations change so it is important to enjoy the journey. I can view my change in programs as an expensive mistake, or I can view it as a valuable lesson. The choice is mine, and mine alone. I know I can adapt and roll with the punches and I am good at finding the positive outlook in any situation. Having a positive mindset is the key to being adaptable. I believe that if you can develop a positive mindset, you can handle anything. If you are stressed out or unsure about what you are doing or where you are going, you have the power to change all of that. Even if you don’t know what road you are on, know that it is the road for you.

 

3 Quotes to Ponder:

I’m a big fan of quotes and phrases as a source of motivation and a way to stay positive!

I’m a big fan of quotes and phrases as a source of motivation and a way to stay positive!

 “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose on thought over another”

“The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts”

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end”

 

Comment below how many times you have switched majors/careers or one of your strategies to stay positive!

Our first Solo Thanksgiving

We’re so thankful for eachother :)

We’re so thankful for eachother :)

We are both in agreement that Thanksgiving is the best holiday. How can you beat a holiday that is just about coming together, being thankful, and enjoying an amazing meal with your family? There’s not the pressure of buying the right gifts for people like Christmas. There’s not a bunch of extra stuff to plan. It’s just about family and food for us.

 

This was a unique Thanksgiving for the both of us, as we had never spent a Thanksgiving just the two of us. It turned out to be an opportunity for us to have our own special meal together. No coordination, no pressure, just the two of us enjoying an incredible combination of classic Thanksgiving dishes and some new healthy spins. It turned out perfect.

 

So, with Justin having to work on Thanksgiving, I decided that I would take this opportunity to make us our own Thanksgiving dinner. Which seems like such a daunting task, but with a little planning and advice from my dad (who is an amazing cook) I got everything prepped and planned out on Wednesday. The menu consisted of both our favorites as well as some healthy vegetable side dishes. I was planning on cooking: pressure-cooker turkey breast, roasted Brussel sprouts and bacon, riced cauliflower stuffing from Trader Joe’s, mashed potatoes, orange rolls and crème brulee for dessert.

Our Thanksgiving Table Spread! Justin bought flowers on his way home from work and they looked beautiful at the center of the table.

Our Thanksgiving Table Spread! Justin bought flowers on his way home from work and they looked beautiful at the center of the table.

Justin went to Trader Joe’s and picked out a nice 3lb frozen turkey breast and we set it out to thaw in the fridge and brined the turkey Wednesday morning in an apple cider vinegar brine with fresh herbs. We went to the store on Wednesday as well to make sure we didn’t forget anything we needed to make dinner. Thursday morning, I got up early and had to run to the store as I realized I had forgotten to grab an extra pint of cream for the whipped cream (and I couldn’t do without). Then I started prepping all the food.

The first thing to be made was the crème brûlée as it needs to set in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours to cool (see my dad’s recipe here) . After getting that in the oven, I washed and cut up the Brussel sprouts and set the rolls out to rise. With the crème brûlée cooling in the fridge, the Brussel sprouts ready for roasting and the rolls rising I cleaned up the house and set the table. Because Justin wasn’t planning on being home until around 7 I had about 5 hours to relax before getting the rest of the food cooking. According to my dad, as long as you prep everything in advance you just need to time everything correctly and the last hour will be crazy but everything will turn out perfectly.

To my surprise, Justin actually got off work a little early and we were able to finish the cooking together! So we cooked the rolls first, started boiling the potatoes and got the turkey all browned and ready to put into the pressure cooker. Once the rolls were finished, we turned the oven up and started roasting the Brussel sprouts and started the turkey, because in a pressure cooker a 3lb turkey takes only 30 minutes! Once the turkey was depressurizing, we started making the riced cauliflower stuffing, mashing the potatoes and moving things over to the table. In the last 10 minutes, I made the gravy and added the roasted pine nuts to the stuffing and we were ready to eat!

This delicious California Cabernet Sauvignon from Big Six is aged in bourbon barrels for 3 months which adds the flavors of vanilla, caramel and oak to the cassis and black currant of the Cabernet Sauvignon flavor.

This delicious California Cabernet Sauvignon from Big Six is aged in bourbon barrels for 3 months which adds the flavors of vanilla, caramel and oak to the cassis and black currant of the Cabernet Sauvignon flavor.

The food was delicious, and I think this was the first time I have eaten a whole plate of food at Thanksgiving and didn’t feel overly full. Switching out the traditional bread stuffing (which Kylee actually isn’t a fan of) for the riced cauliflower stuffing was such a great choice. It wasn’t as filling because it is made of vegetables and was so delicious. Justin had never had orange rolls before, and they are a Plott (Kylee’s Step-Mother’s family) family recipe and they definitely did not disappoint!

We cannot forget about the amazing wine we had! We went to Total Wine on Wednesday and picked up a delicious bottle of wine to pair with our food and it was phenomenal. Sometimes people have this idea that wine has to be expensive to be good, and that is totally not true! We highly recommend this wine if you’re headed to a dinner party or just looking to try something new, and you can check it out here at Total Wine.

We had an incredible time enjoying our food and each other’s company. We spent the night setting up our first Christmas tree together, taking pictures, dancing to country music, and of course drinking some wine. Even though we weren’t able to be with our families this year, we made the best of our circumstances and had an amazing holiday together. We cannot wait to spend more holidays together and work on starting our own traditions.

What are some of the holiday traditions that you have adopted over the years? What are recipes that are a must on your Thanksgiving table? Drop us a comment below we would love to hear from you!

~Justin & Kylee

 

 

Pay for fun, Not for slots - How we spent our weekend in Vegas!

We had spent most of the year saving up for Vegas, so we were ready to take full advantage. You can burn through your money ridiculously fast in Vegas so you have to be smart about it. Our strategy was to bring a bunch of cash, leave it all in the hotel safe, and only take out a budgeted amount for the day. The priority of that budgeted money was food and fun. After we exhausted ourselves during the day having fun, then we could go spend any excess money on gambling.

The Wynn Hotel is beautiful!

The Wynn Hotel is beautiful!

We didn’t even gamble our first night in town. We arrived in Vegas around 10pm, went to dinner at the hotel, and then hit one of Toby Keith’s country bars on the strip. We hadn’t been dancing in a while so that was on the list of priorities. On a Thursday night, Toby Keith’s wasn’t too busy and it had a bit of an older crowd. Which is actually fine for us because we find it really fun to dance among older people. They’re funny, happy to teacher old fashion styles, and don’t care about anything so they just own the dance floor. Also, the bartender there gave us each a full cup of Jameson when we ordered our drinks so that was a plus! Most bars in Vegas seem to short you on alcohol and charge you extra so it is worthwhile to bring your own to have in the hotel.

So glad we were able to see Absinthe

So glad we were able to see Absinthe

There are a few different business along the strip that buy tickets for shows in bulk and sell them at discounted rates. These are very worthwhile and we used them twice to go see Zumanity and Absinthe. Both of these shows were awesome. The circus acts that the casts perform in these shows are absolutely incredible and inspired us to get back into working on our handstands. Zumanity was really cool and great show for couples to go see. Absinthe was our favorite due its really entertaining comedy and amazing acts! The shows can get pretty pricy so it is definitely worth finding those discounts if you can. However, you should definitely plan to see a show in Vegas because they were phenomenal. We also went to go see the Chainsmokers play. They always deliver and play a great show!

Kylee enjoying Taco Bell at 6:30 AM the day after her Birthday!

Kylee enjoying Taco Bell at 6:30 AM the day after her Birthday!

The food in Vegas does not disappoint. We are huge fans of Gordon Ramsey so every time we go to Vegas now we go to one of his restaurants. Last year, we went to his Pub and had an incredible meal there. This year, we treated ourselves to his steakhouse which was absolutely delicious! We couldn’t resist getting his world famous beef wellington which was fantastic. Another standout restaurant we tried was off of the strip. It is a nearby tapas restaurant called Firefly. If you go to Vegas you really need to go to Firefly. The tapas were so good it was like we were in Spain! For desserts, we had to go try Christina Tossi’s Milk Bar. We got an assortment of items such as birthday cake, crack pie, bagel bombs, and a variety of cookies. Definitely recommend going to Milk Bar if you’ve got a sweet tooth! We also found this really great bar called The Golden Tiki. They had fantastic tropical cocktails and cool atmosphere. And if you’re looking for a late-night (or early morning in our case) snack, you cannot forget the Taco Bell Cantina that is open 24 hours, and serves alcohol!

For gambling, you really have to pace yourself. It is super easy to feel like you want to up your bet or put in your money. We tried to keep each other accountable and remind each other to cash out if we were winning. We also tried to stick to playing games that would last a while. Craps was a great game to play because there is a lot of different ways you can go about playing and it is a fun group game. We also enjoy those penny slots because you can stretch $20 pretty far and make it last a while. Gambling is a lot of fun you just have to control the excitement because it is easy to get carried away! We definitely have fun gambling but we tried to direct our attention and spend our money in other ways. Slot machines are generally like throwing money down the drain, or if you’re like me, spending $40 on macaroons and then dropping all of them on the casino floor! Same concept. All the excitement, none of the glory.

Vegas is really what you make it! It is fun to go as a group and party and it is fun to just go as a couple and hang out. You’re going to have a good time and you’re going to spend a lot of money either way. Be prepared to do both! All in all, it was a fantastic birthday weekend celebration and we really made the most of our time in Vegas!

Here’s some more pictures you can click through below.

  • Justin & Kylee