Good Friday, CPA Exam, Easter & Lactation Cookies

Three-layers-wall

After a few months of studying and way too many trips to Starbucks (embarrassed to admit how many grandes), I finally took the BEC section of the CPA exam on Good Friday.  It was by far, hands down, without a doubt, the hardest exam I have ever taken.  In.My.Life.Ever.  I felt the Audit section was a little easier, but everyone is different.  Now is the fun part… the waiting game.

Paleo-pancakes-berriesWhile I wait the 2-3 weeks for my results, I am taking a break from the CPA all together. (hallelujah!!) This way, I can catch up with life a little, hang out with friends and make some yummy meals!  This weekend was no exception!

Friday: Paleo Pancakes!  I added a berry mixture and this gave the pancakes a sweet kick that was so delicious!  I posted my recipe for paleo pancakes a few days ago, but it’s simple – eggs, bananas, cinnamon.  Done!

Saturday Work0ut: Tested out the new running swag!  I bought the Yurbuds Inspire Talk for Women and tested them out this week.  The problem with me and earphones is the same problem everyone has… they don’t fit right.  The ones that come with iPhones hurt my ears really bad and I’m sure the amount of sweat that gets in them and my ears when I workout isn’t good.  So I decided to give the Yurbuds a try and guess what, I LOVE LOVE them!!  They aren’t too big, fit perfectly and “lock” in place.  Also, I can hear my music but also hear outside sound too, which is helpful when I’m running outside.  The turquoise/light blue color is fun too!

Running-swag

After that early morning workout, I went to an Easter Egg Hunt with my friend and her awesome 20 month old… so much fun watching the little ones gather eggs!

Egg-hunt

Emmie had fun Saturday afternoon!  She got to play with her friend, Boomer, and run around (off-leash!!) until she couldn’t run anymore.  She slept the whole way home and was perfect the rest of the day (<— yeah, she’s not always perfect!)  I am so thankful for friends with dogs and backyards!

Puppy-play-date

Saturday night, I went to my church’s Easter Service.  The series we are in is called “The Way” and it’s a look back into the life, the land and the way Jesus took.  We got to see video footage from when my Pastor went to Israel and it was really awesome!

Three-layersSaturday later night, I went with some great friends to Three Layers, a coffee house, wine bar, hole-in-the-wall-middle-of-nowhere gem!  This place was really cool and had live music.  The best part was the venue for sure.  You could relax of a sofa and chairs, sit at high tops, play board games, watch tv, sit at the wine bar or even sit outside in the zen café!  We checked out all the areas (ok it’s small but they make great use of the space) and ended outside where we met a real Easter bunny!

Sunday morning came very early and I went to the 6am sunrise service at the beach.  There is nothing more amazing than watching the sunrise over the ocean while worshiping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Resurrection Sunday!  Unfortunately, the weather was too yucky so they cancelled service.  Fortunately, Moosehaven had a 7am sunrise on the river, so over the bridge I went! (after stopping at Dunkin Donuts for more coffee!)  Here’s a picture I took from the service!

Sunday-service-on-river

The last part of my weekend I am very excited about was making Nutella Milkies!!  Milkies are my version of lactation cookies.  Before you get all weirded out, these cookies are just full of yummy goodness that helps lactating women produce more milk!  I’m visiting a friend tomorrow who is nursing her newborn and I’m so excited to introduce her to these.  A blog post to come soon about the cookies 🙂

Nutella-Milkies-cover

That about wrap it up for me.  What was the best part of your weekend?  What Easter traditions do you have?

 

 

10 Ways to find YOU before saying “I DO”

again-rings

The cycle of life seems to go like this… your born, go to school, hate boys,  love boys, hate your parents, hate yourself, get a job, love only yourself, meet a boy, “YOLO”, go to college, have your first real heartbreak, hate boys, get another job, need acceptance by worldly things, meet another boy, incur debt, think he’s “the one,” get engaged, graduate college, get married,  start a career, get divorced, think YOLO again and realize it’s not the same as your teens and start all over again.  Maybe there’s a kid with you and maybe you’ve moved a time or two but this seems to be the life cycle and to most, this is “normal” this is “life”.  This is, life happens.

Happiness is measured by things and satisfaction judged by attention.  Checking things off the life to do list seems to be the only thing on the agenda and you end up running around like a chicken with your head cut off, wearing so many hats and not knowing which one is really you.  You question true love and life becomes consumed with updating your status on Facebook and pictures of how “awesome” your life is on Instagram.  Or you attempt to create this facade…

Ok, maybe this is extreme and come on, this “could never happen to you,” right?  Well wrong.  No one is immune.  If it doesn’t happen to you, there’s a good chance it will happen to someone close to you.  And what is “it?”  It could be divorce, unhappiness, or living through Facebook updates and checking those what-comes-next-things off the to do list.

McKinley Irvin posted “32 Shocking Divorce Statistics.”  I don’t think these are shocking at all, but I think this article sums up everything… here’s just a few:

  • 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce.
  • 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce.
  • 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce.

And guess what?! The ages are not surprising either…. 80% of women getting divorced are under the age of 30!

I definitely don’t have life figured out but I have learned a thing or two the past few years I thought were worth sharing.  Maybe you will find this useful or perhaps you will find my ways irrational and childish, but for me, before I say “I do” (again), I’m on this path to FIND ME first!

10 Things to do before you say “I DO”

#1 – Read the gospel.  Get plugged in at your church.  There is no love greater than the love of the Father.  God’s love is unconditional.  John 3:16 went viral with Tim Tebow but the words have always been there.  Until you know God’s love, there is no way you can show love and be loved the way God intended.  Live your life for the glory of God.  Not yourself.  Yearn for God-like love and when you find it, it will be epic.  ❤

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#2 – Graduate college.  Start your career.  The college years are really just an extension of high school nowadays.  Having schedules made for you, deadlines set, spring and summer breaks, all status quo from high school.  Difference – less parental oversight, a license to drink and more opportunities to get in trouble.  When I was getting my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, no matter how “grown up” I thought I was, I wasn’t.  Finding my career though, has taught me a few lessons about working with people, self development, professional standards and real deadlines for long term projects.  I’m just in the very beginning stages of my career, but I am finding myself along the way!

Also, make sure you have all your other certs in place too.  Maybe it’s a license like the CPA or Bar or Boards.  Or some other letters you want to get after your name.  Achieve your personal goals first, then you can focus on other things.   In the short term, this will suck.  But for me, having my CPA is something I have been dreaming about for a long time.  Once I have it, no one can take it away and I will be done with my “schooling/educational” goals then.  Right now, that’s my focus.  What’s yours?

again-graduate again-cpa-study

#3 – Buy real furniture.  Decorate.  Establish a permanent address.  Finding yourself really doesn’t start until you have a firm foundation.  Plants can’t grow and thrive without strong roots.  Plant yourself and get established somewhere on your own.  The on your own part is critical.  Stop depending on someone else.  Unfortunately, the path for most young people seems to be this – be dependent on your parents – be dependent on a boyfriend/girlfriend, have a dependent (kid/significant other), get married and now you have dependents for life.  No where in there is independence!  We think we are independent because we went to college or pay rent, but until you plant your roots and be completely self sufficient, you can’t be independent.

again-christmas-decorate

#4 – Babysit. Babysit. Babysit.  Kids are wonderful and amazing blessings from God.  I know some of the coolest kids but they have also taught me so much too.  Kids look “fun and easy” and “complete happiness.”  They do bring joy but they also take change your life. Young people can’t wait to have kids and rush into marriage kids everything to experience the happiness.  Well let me tell you, happiness can be found within you!  You don’t need any extra stuff to have happiness.  As long as you got #1 down (read above if you missed it) you have happiness living inside you!  While you’re find yourself, I encourage you to babysit.  Try spending the night watching over a baby. Experience the full responsibility a LITTLE more.  When the baby wakes in the middle of the night, you wake.  When the baby cries, you sometimes cry.  This is real life.  Find YOUR happiness within, then share your happiness with others.  Not the other way around.  This sweet, smiling girl is the most beautiful little girl (to me) but the best thing I can share with her is MY happiness, who I am, so she can become a strong independent young lady one day and not rely on others to make her happy.  <— but not to fast though!

again-baby-mia

#5 – Experience life without the “all about me” attitude.  Once you start to find you, you need to start to share you.  Maybe this means makes a few sacrifices to make someone else’s life a little better.  Maybe you trade in your late night Saturdays to serve in your Church early Sunday mornings.  Maybe it’s choosing to donate your time at a shelter or your money to go on a missions trip.  Or coach a youth sports league.  Or what I did, adopt a dog from a kill shelter.  A few things I’ve learned from having my dog:  1) saving a life is more rewarding to you than the dog. 2) the wagging tail happy-to-see-you-dog when you get home is better than any adult greeting 3) teaching your dog something new feels like you’ve just accomplished a huge goal yourself 4) if you thought you couldn’t love a dog that much, you will be proven wrong.  My dog, Emmie, is truly the light of my life.  She’s a huge responsibility and sometimes I wish she could walk herself when it’s really cold outside but she has taught me patience, forgiveness (she pees everywhere!) and love.

again-adopt-a-dog

#6 – Get involved in a professional organization.  Whatever your career is, network with wiser, more experienced people.  This is the best thing you can do for your career.  Up until now, you’ve gone through school with peers.  Everyone was on the same playing field, learning the same and having very similar experiences.  There is so much you can learn from a mentor and sponsor, the possibilities are endless.  Take a leadership position.  Don’t worry about your age or inexperience.  Your youthful spirit, ability to adapt to change and creative endeavors make you a gem.  Use your lack of experience and knowledge to lean on others.  Humble yourself.  Make a name for yourself and become an independent professional!  Read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In book!

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#7 Start your mornings a little earlier.  Grab coffee and read something.  Maybe it’s the news, the Bible, a professional book, or even a blog 🙂 find something to read and share that with someone during the day!  <— this might mean you have to go to bed earlier too… welcome to the real world!

again-coffee-trip

#8 Blog about it.  Blogging is such a great way to create your own community and focus on YOU, your passions.  Most importantly, sharing your passions.  I started my blog a little over a year ago as a way to occupy my time with fun recipes while I was going through some rocky roads.  I love consolidating all my favorites in one place and now use it as a reference to share recipes with friends.  I also love reading other blogs too.  Learning about the adoption process of my friend and watching families grow  makes me smile.  If you’re reading this and you’re between 20-30, life is just getting started.  So many things are changing and will changing and blogging is a great way to document these.  Older than that?  You know more than I do and I would love to learn from you!

The first picture below is a page from Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Melton.  It’s a wonderful book that’s a compilation of Glennon’s blog posts and other writings.  I laughed and cried my way through this book.

The second book, Blog Inc by Joy Deangdeelert Cho, is a book I got for Christmas and am just starting to read it.  It’s a great resource and inspirational book.

again-quote again-blog

#9 Find your hobbies.  This one seems silly.  I know.  But think about it this way.  When I was 8, I loved Barbie and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.  When I was 16, my life was all Dashboard Confessional and Yellowcard concerts, Abercrombie & Fitch shirts that were size XL and boys with bleached hair.  At 20, I wanted to know where the party was Friday night and how to look older than I really was.  When I was 23, I wanted to be done with school, married and happy with a white picket fence.   At 25, I want to challenge my body with runs and rides.  I want to explore the world, go camping and live a simpler life.  I want to learn another language, pass the CPA exam and go on a missions trip.  I want to spend more quality time with my family slow down a little bit.  I want to watch my puppy grow and enjoy life with my friends.

The only thing constant about my life has been me changing.  I’ve changed my interests, wants and desires.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has changed either.  I’m sure you have too.  There’s nothing wrong with this at all.  In fact, this is learning who you are and FINDING YOU.  So I challenge you to find you, find your interests.  What’s your dream?  How can you achieve it?

I’ve always wanted to do a wine and canvas type thing, so I did!  I’m not great, and in fact I’ve decided to stick to my better talents from now on, but without challenging myself, I would never know!

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#10 Buy a dress.   Not a wedding dress.  Your day will come, my dear friend.  In due time. In God’s time. But buy a dress that makes you feel beautiful.  You’ve accomplished so much and should be so proud.  Dress up and go on a real date.  With a real man.  Who invites you to a really nice dinner.  Is a complete gentleman.  Opens doors and complements you.  The whole 9 yards.  You are beautiful and deserve to be treated the way you feel.  When you feel beautiful, confident and independent, you will attract the type of man God has called you to be with.  Only when you find who you are will the time come for you to take the next step.  This might be when you’re 30, 35 or 40.  Aren’t you glad you aren’t rushing, but found you and found happiness within!?

Or maybe you’re already married and the you is lost (or never found?!).  It’s not to late to find you in there.  It will be harder, but you can do it.  Do it for yourself, for the people who love you and for your future generations, mentees and friends.  Love is definitely worth fighting for but before you can fight, you have to train.  Train yourself by finding who you are, what you want and learning just how amazing God created you to be. Then share that love with others.

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Thank you for sharing your time with me and I hope you embark on this journey with me with these 10 ways to find YOU before saying “I DO” – for the first time, or like me, for the next last time! 🙂

XO

Cassie

Lucky ’13

cassie-emmie-2013

I can’t believe 2013 is (almost) over!  This year has been one of the best years of my life!  I have learned so much about myself, stretched my comfort zone, taken some amazing trip, laughed, cried, sang and danced (however, no one will find evidence of the latter 2).  I can say I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life and feel completely blessed for all the big and little things God has done this year.  I look forward to each and every day that comes and cherish the moments I get to share with family and friends.

At the beginning of this year, I shared with a friend how 2012 wasn’t the best of years for me (probably one of the worst actually) and if I wanted 2013 to be better, I had to change me.  I had to change my attitude, my direction, my focus and really evaluate what was important.  I started this year with a LIST (yeah, I’m a list person) of things I wanted to do in 2013.  This way, If I was bored or ran out of ideas, I had something to go to try something new.  This was perfect!   I highly recommend starting 2014 with a list and doing the same!

Cassie’s 2013 List

1 – Go on a Winery Tour – I’ve never been on a winery tour before and with my love of wine, this definitely made the list.  A few months ago I visited the San Sebastian Winery  in St. Augustine, FL and took a tour of the facility.  Honestly, I was disappointed to learn that we wouldn’t be doing a deep dive into the winery and wine making process and that the vineyards are actually located in the Panhandle.  However, I had great company and the short tour gave me a small taste (literally) of a winery.  Now I have bigger dreams…  Napa or Italy anyone?!?!?!

san-sebastian san-sebastian-winery

2 – Complete the Katie Ride – The Katie Ride is an annual road ride in Amelia Island benefiting the Katie Caples Foundation to increase organ donor awareness.  The Y had a team I joined and complete my first ride back in April!  I blogged about my Katie Ride adventure here and was hooked on cycling after it!

KR sigh

3 – Try Hot Yoga Hot Yoga seems to be popping up everywhere and before I judge something, I’ve learned I need to try it.  I do like yoga and would do it more if I had more time, but a run just seems more efficient. The idea of hot yoga is great, but I didn’t know if it was for me.  So I bought a Groupon for 10 hot yoga sessions at Radiance Bikram Yoga Studio and  guess what?!  Yeah, I love it.  I love it for the sweat.  I love it for the relaxation.  I love it for the deep breathing.  I love it for the all-about-me-time a yoga practice brings.  I even love it for the no-make-allowed-smelly-feet-sweatiness I get when I go!  The last part of that is why there will be no pictures posted of yoga. 🙂

4 – Take Tennis Lessons – I used to play tennis.  I even played for my high school many, many years ago!  I loved it when I played but I hadn’t picked up my racket in years.  So I put on my list to take tennis lessons and start playing again.  And guess what… I did!  I took a lesson at the Y and hit around with a few friends.  Time constraints and an injury held me back but I am glad I got to try it again! (Below is a picture of my dad and I before we hit the courts one evening)

cassie-dad-tennis

5 – Start the CPA Review – When I got my Master’s a few years ago, I told myself I would start the CPA exam right away.  Well that didn’t happen.  Life did.  So this year I make it a point to make the CPA a priority and I am currently studying for the first exam!  It is going to be a very long however-many-months-this-takes to get through it, but I am motivated more than ever to study, pass and move forward with my career!

cpa books

6 – Go Camping.  I bought my Kelty gear and hit the trails backyard one evening.  Ok, so I didn’t go camping for real but I did sleep outside, on the ground, in a small tent, with a sleeping bag.  I figured I had to test out all the gear for the real thing.  The best part about camping was waking up to the sound of birds and the sunrise.  It really was priceless.  So peaceful and amazing.

kelty-camping

7 – Visit a U-Pick Farm.  I love fresh fruits and veggies.  I love going to farmer’s markets but I haven’t picked from the ground in a really long time.  I vaguely remember picking blueberries and peaches as a kid and wanted to try this again. So on the list it went.  I couldn’t find any farms in the northeast Florida area that had fruits or veggies this time of year except the U-Pick Strawberry Farm in St. Augustine.  So I made a little day trip with some friends and picked fresh strawberries!

u-pick-farm

8 – Go to a Dog Park.  If you’ve been following me awhile, you know I love the dog park.  It’s such a safe, mostly clean place that dogs can go and socialize and be leash free.  The dog park people are also a hoot and I love listening to their conversations.  I’m guilty of being a people watcher and the dog park makes this really easy and fun.  (That’s my nice way of says some dog park people are weird!)  This year I wanted to make a point to go to the dog park as much as I can.  I bought a Groupon for visits and took a few trips there.  Most recently, I took my pup, Emmie, for a puppy play date at Dogwood and it was awesome! I think she loves this place!

emmie at dog park

9 – Visit Susan in Colorado. I have been wanting to go to Colorado in the summer/fall for many years but kept making excuses about why I couldn’t go.  Well, not anymore.  This year I planned a long weekend to visit Boulder, CO with a side trip to Aspen.  It was absolutely beautiful and definitely  a place I want to visit again!  They say people visit Colorado for the winters and stay there for the summers.  I can definitely relate to that!  I posted on my trip to Boulder and Aspen earlier this year.

10 – Coach Girls on the Run.  I coached GOTR a few years ago and love the program.  The curriculum, coaches and girls are so much fun and I’m always sad to see the season end.  I couldn’t coach the past few seasons due to the timing of practices and my work schedule, so I decided to get a site going on Saturdays at the Y so I could.  This past fall season, I coached again and had such a great season!

girls-on-the-run

11 – Complete a half marathon.  Completing a half marathon has always been something I’ve dreamed of doing.  I think the distance is perfect and something I could test myself at.  I tried to do a half in June in Chicago and it didn’t pan out due to injury.  Two weeks before Thanksgiving I decided to do the Thanksgiving Day Half here in Jax.  The run was cold but amazing!  Now I can’t wait to keep doing more!  Anyone have and good cities they would suggest?

run start

12 – Adopt a dog – I adopted my happy little puppy on October 13, 2013 from Their Lives Our Voices.  She was a rescue and we think she’s a husky lab mix.  In just 2 months, she has outgrown a collar and gained over 15 pounds!  She’s getting move used to people and loves other dogs.  She’s obsessed with giving kisses and has stinky breath!  <— BAD combo!   I love every minute with her – except for that time when I found poop under my bed.  And that time she drank all the toilet water.  🙂  Oh the joys of having a puppy!!  She’s so cute and loves toys and taking naps on the tile.  She likes to talk when she wakes up from naps and loves doing tricks for treats!  Meet Emmie…

meet-emmie

13 – Get a new job.  That’s right!  I got a new job about 2 months ago that I absolutely love!  It’s the perfect fit for me and was the last piece of the puzzle in order to be able to start studying for the CPA exam!  It couldn’t have come at a better time and offers so many new channels for the future!  I don’t think people are just given opportunities but their hard work and determination align them with opportunities.  The whole “I’m just waiting for the right opportunity” doesn’t exist in my book.  I believe that you have to work hard and seek the opportunities.  When they come, you can say – I’ve taken a great opportunity.

Surprisingly, this list wasn’t a stressor at all.  In fact, these were actually motivating things I looked forward to (well I guess you have to appreciate CPAs to look forward to that one!).   Looking back and reflecting on this year just brings me joy.  Personally, professionally, spiritually, emotionally and physically, I think I have had one of the best years of my life.

2013 might not have been your year but don’t give up!  2012 sucked for me (to sum it up in one word and spare you the details) and I took that to make 2013 the best one yet.  If 2013 wasn’t your year, start 2014 off right!  Maybe that means making a list of things you want to accomplish, short term goals or steps to achieve something.  Maybe it’s taking a class, finishing school, reconciling with a loved one, traveling to a new place, doing something you’ve never done, helping other or overcoming fears.

Once you write it down, DO IT!