Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016

The New Year is such a refreshing time. I'm not a big New Years Resolutioner, but I do love the simplicity that comes with the New Year and the fresh start.

The holidays are full of so much excess. Excess food, excess decorating, excess parties, excess shopping, excess traffic, excess mail...the list goes on.

And I'm a Christmas lover. I love the glittery, fun items that line the aisles at Target, the twinkle of Christmas lights against the dark nights that start so early in winter and anything involving peppermint and chocolate mixed.

But, I also love sweeping my home of the Christmas tree and clutter come January, refreshing the refrigerator with more fresh produce and not having the grocery store be a mad house each weekend.

Our holidays were wonderful, Christmas at home with our little family, then a week trip out West with various stops to spend time with Ben's family.

Everett loved this turtle Santa brought him that I saw Laura at Our Styled Suburban Life feature a few months ago. Each time it popped, he reacted in complete surprise, and it was hilarious and sweet as you can see in the video below.

video

I'm trying to have a January free of commitments after an end of 2015 that felt so full. So far, the only things on our calendar this month are a two year old's birthday party and a vet appointment for Cooper. I'll take it.

Right now, I'm also reviewing my race schedule for the year, and have decided on the following races:
I hope 2016 is starting out wonderfully for you and I'm looking forward to another year of sharing on the blog!
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Friday, December 11, 2015

Christmas List Favorites for 2015

I have been an all around slacker at blogging the last six weeks with no excuse, and especially getting out my yearly list! I've jotted down things on my phone when I see them (or left them hanging on our computers web browser for days...just to drop subtle hints), but I'm finally around to compiling them all together here! So here goes...

 
Five years post wedding gifts, and I need to replace my bamboo spoons from C and B. One broke, the other is on it's last leg, and I admit, I haven't kept them oiled up enough, but I love these utensils, and really want this set. It's affordable too, at $19.95!

This is a little self-serving to post, but I love this Jamberry Holiday Set. I love them all, but this one especially, and after using one for a raffle last week, I bought one for myself. I love the wraps, the polish is a beautiful color and the Nourish lotion smells great (and I'm not a smelly lotion person!).



I'm obsessed with these earrings. I love basic studs, and these put a little pop of pizazz on that. The teal ones are beautiful, but I think I'd get the most wear out of the silver ones. They were just 30% off at Nordstrom last week, so I'm hoping they'll go on sale again!

I really want to read the new Harper Lee novel, but know I'll never buy it for myself. And the holidays are the perfect time to ask the indulgent items you won't put on your list!


Remember when socks were a dreaded Christmas gift?? Boy was I a dumb kid, because good socks rule! As I've stated before, I loooooooove Smart Wool socks, and these Shea Socks from Bath and Body Works are a close second. They're so soft, and have grippers on the bottom. I love getting a pair in my stocking, and I love going to their big sale in January to buy the holiday varieties half off. =)

Starbucks Glitter Cold Cup
 
There must be a glitter theme for me this year, because I love this gold glitter cold cup from Starbucks. I don't see it on their website anymore, but I snapped this picture when I saw this in store and sent to my husband for a Christmas idea. I love cold cups with straws, and go through them all the time, helps my drinks not get spilled with the kids, and keeps them cold longer. This one is gliterry cute to boot!

Gift Cards

I am never opposed to gift cards; I think they're the best gift. Some people say they're a cold, or lame gift--to that I say, "no way!" It's shopping for free, and I love the choice of what I want, but forcing me to do something that I will enjoy, because let's face it, cash would go in savings, or towards a house project right now. So, gift cards are awesome!

This year, I'm all about gift cards to Stitch Fix, Target, Starbucks, Panera, Old Navy...the list could go on! But anywhere that makes my life more enjoyable, and gives my budget the ability to spend where I normally wouldn't be able to.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fall Favorites

I've had the pleasure of finding some awesome new items (and let's face it, most of them are food) this fall that I had to share.


As Ben said, "I'm going to eat this, and know it tastes like yogurt, but I can't get over the fact that its' cheese!" I found Elli Quark at Super Target after seeing it on Instagram, and they were kind enough to send me a variety pack of a dozen of their flavors to explore it further, and both Ben and I agree, delicious!

Here's how they describe their product, "Elli Quark is a spoonable FRESH CHEESE with a creamy texture similar to Greek yogurt, but with a richer, LESS SOUR taste. It also has a better protein-to-carb ratio than Greek yogurt, with HIGH PROTEIN and NO ADDED SUGARS or artificial sweeteners."
 

Frankly, I love it! It's two Weight Watchers points. Tastes great, and has fun flavors. I love putting some Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips on the Mint Chocolate flavor. Ben enjoyed the lemon flavor. 


These are delicious, hands down delicious. They are made with real ingredients you can feel good about, but don't fool yourself, they're not good for you, and it will require A LOT of self-control to not eat half the pot yourself (I may have done that...) if you make them. Austin loved helping me make them, and they were great with some vanilla ice cream on top!


Pumpkin Alert! Love finding new, gluten free, pumpkin products in the fall. These are delicious. They're not very filling for a serving, but most the time the shelf is empty at Wegmans or Target where they sell them, so I always grab a box if I can! 




I LOVE the Ibotta app for getting rebates on everyday grocery items. You can find some good deals on here and do some nice stocking up! The key is to only buy the things you need and not get caught up in the fun of the bonuses and whatnot and buy extra things you don't need. You can collect a big balance, and once you're at $10 or more (very easy to get to), you can cash it out into your PayPal account. 

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Diva Half Recap

I'm going to keep this race recap short and sweet. I'm not even sure I mentioned on here that I was training for a half-marathon, but thus, I was, and boy am I glad I did this race.

The race itself was meh. Not bad, not great. I did a race in the suburbs thinking logistics would easier. They weren't. You had to park early, you had to buy a parking pass to do so, and the parking lot closed an hour before the race started. It was a nice race, but not one I'd be rushing to do again.

Luckily, I went with some awesome friends and we all caravaned there together, and I ran various miles of the race with a couple of them.

Pre-Race Selfie
This race was hilly as heck. I knew the course would be hilly, but the announcer at the beginning of the race (who, for the record, was an idiot saying bone head things about women doing their make up before an all women's race--huge eye roll), said that the worst hill was at mile three, and you'd be good after that, WRONG. There were many hills after that, maybe not as steep, but longer, gradual ones that hurt just as bad, if not worse, later in the milage.

Here's the kicker. I PRed at this race. I was not planning to at all. My longest long run was ten miles, my foot had been hurting the week of the race, so I hadn't run in a week in order to rest, but it happened.

Around Mile 11 I realized I thought I could PR, I had been feeling amazing up until this point, but around then I started to feel like crap, hips hurting, feet feeling heavy, but I knew if I kept it up, I could get a nice PR. So, despite two quick stops to stretch out my hip, I booked it to the finish as fast as my tired body would carry me.

When I came to the finishers shoot, I was light headed and wanted to puke, but I grabbed some food, water and tried to suck it up.

All the ladies from our caravan post race
I still felt pretty crappy after the race, but then our friend Kate pulled out surprise mimosas in the van. I was no way in shape for the awesome looking Prosecco she brought along, BUT, the orange juice did the trick, and a big glass of that had me feeling back to my old self. Thanks Kate!

Kate tailgating with Post Race Mimosas

Check this out below. My last PR in 2011 at age 27, over four years ago. I remember being thrilled I could run a race at under a 12 minute mile! And here we are now, two kids, two surgeries and a lot of life later, a PR! Woo hoo! However, I really think I can do better, if I push myself harder with training. So now the question is, do I do a spring half and test that out?! Ben is doing his first half this spring, so his training will take up a lot of time, so we'll see...

Previous PR Race:

New PR Time at Diva:
(Harder to read, but says: 2:32:14)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

"What do you mean, he don't eat no meat??"

I'm married to a meatatarian. There's no way around it, he even calls himself that openly. Every dinner should have meat in his opinion. EVERY DINNER. Lunch probably too, unless it's a hearty grilled cheese. When Ben cooks, it's usually meat on the grill, so meatless recipes are just not going to happen on his watch.

That said, I've been trying to sneak a meatless meal into our weekly menu rotation to mix things up. I know a lot of people call out Meatless Monday. According to the global movement, found here, one meatless day a week improves your health, and is also great for the planet.

We don't have a particular day we choose to go meatless, but whatever works in our schedule. It's designed to save us a little money (as you may remember from one of my meal planning posts, we do a big meat shopping trip about once a month at Costco), and make us all try new things.

As long as I don't overload it with "weird" vegetables, or he leaves the table hungry, Ben will embrace the meal, as will Austin. Everett still loves most everything we put on his plate, bless his little heart, stay my baby forever, okay sweet boy?

It's safe to say, everyone's favorite meatless recipe, however, is when I make homemade macaroni and cheese (favorite recipe from The Pioneer Woman found here).

Either way, here are a few of my other meatless wonders that make it on our table. Some nights, I try to make them when Ben isn't home, since there are certain things (zucchini, kale, tomatoes, sweet potatoes) I know he doesn't have a taste for.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Everett's First Birthday Party

Our sweet Everett turned one last week, and the day before his birthday we had a few friends over to celebrate.

 

We did a loosely themed Sesame Street party. Although somewhere in the process, Harris Teeter lost the memo on a blue cake to match Cookie Monster.


What can I say though? It's a free cake. Harris Teeter gives babies a free "smash size" cake for their first birthday with your rewards card when you sign them up. Which is awesome!

Regarding my struggle on peanut allergy friendly cakes, I didn't end up having to make one, yay! Giant (another grocery store chain around here) sells Peanut Free Cupcakes, woo hoo! So Everett enjoyed one of the mini ones, and as you can see, he really loved it.

video

Everett's gift was much bigger than we normally do for birthdays, but it was really something for both the boys, a play kitchen. And so far, it's been a hit! Austin had been pretending to cook for us for awhile with random items, so it was perfect, along with the play food family members gave as their gifts.

A Recent Afternoon in the Kitchen!

The party was short, but sweet, in the morning and lunch time to accommodate afternoon naps, but I'm not sure who had a better time, the birthday boy, or his older brother!

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer Time

Well hello summer, why are you slipping by so quickly? The 4th of July holiday is over, and it's all a downhill slide from here. I actually started noticing it getting darker a bit earlier at night recently--crazy! I feel like it was just snowing. (P.S. Did you know we lose two minutes of daylight per day in August, so over an hour by the end of the month?! You'll notice it more now that you know this if you didn't before)

Summer has been wonderful so far. My gallbladder is out and surgery was successful and recovery went well.
Pre-Surgery Selfie
We've spent quite a bit of time at the pool. I love that we have community pools that are included in our HOA fees so we can go to one of the pools whenever we want and not feel bad if we're only there for a short period of time.


My husband is also in the middle of trying to redo our backyard. It's a process, let's just say that, and I'll show you the after pictures once it's a success, as he promises me it will be.

Everett is one year old next week so we've planned a little party at the house this weekend. I'm looking forward to having our friends over to celebrate E, but crazy that he's turning one! The year has both flown by, and it also seems like he's been a part of our lives forever.

I'm also a huge advocate of store bought birthday cakes both for sanity reasons and because I think they're delicious, but with his peanut allergy, looks like I'll need to make one myself (with a mix, I'm not a miracle worker here). I really want to try these Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes, as many of them are peanut and gluten free--our whole family is covered!

My current summer read is, "Dinner, A Love Story," and I have already pulled out recipes from the book, that's based on the blog linked above.

I just discovered this author, her blog and her quest to do a home cooked meal for her family nearly every night (while she and her husband both worked full-time with two kids 19 months apart, sound familiar?!) for the past ten years or so.


The month of August is a busy end to summer. The nice part about living in Virginia is, summer really doesn't end until September is over. The humidity and the high temperatures stick around for most of September and the awesome fall weather that still deems sunshine filled warm days, and crisper nights that require a light jacket, last well into November.

At least I'm hoping it sticks to that trend this year, I'm still recovering from last winter--I can't have the next one come too quickly!
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