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.


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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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The month of craziness

Well hello there, it's been awhile. I have to admit, the summer has started with a crazy bang. Why don't I just put things in categories to make life easier, okay?

Wedding in Minnesota
I spent the first weekend in June in the Twin Cities attending my good friend Cindy's wedding. I had a fantastic time with my friend Ashley who lives in Wisconsin who came as my date.

Ashley and I with the Golden Glove outside Target Field
We had a nice kidless weekend with a walk all over downtown on Saturday morning, delicious meals with my college roommates and former co-workers who I love, getting a much needed hair cut by my old stylist, and of course Cindy's wedding! There was a lot packed into the nearly exactly 48 hours I was in Minnesota (I could do a single post alone on all the pictures I have from the weekend).

With Jen M, the Beautiful Bride Cindy and Jen H
Cindy and I met about six years ago, and immediately clicked. She is a great friend, and has come out to visit us in D.C. a couple times since we moved here. Recently, Cindy also asked me to join her Jamberry Nails team as a Independent Consultant. After some heeing and hawing and I decided to join, and boy am I glad I did. Which leads me to my next item...

Jamberry Nails Independent Consultant
Since the end of April I've been selling Jamberry Nail Wraps as a part of Cindy's team. I've always loved the product, as referenced before, and was telling Cindy how I love doing my nails, but:
1. Never have time to wait for polish to dry and always smudge it
2. Hate that it chips so easily with how busy I am
3. Never have time or budget to go and get gel manicures that don't smudge

She convinced me that since I use Jamberry, maybe I should sell it to other people who probably feel the same way (and get a discount on the products I use). I also used to work in cooperate sales, and do miss using that skill set, so this is the perfect for me, and I love the time I spend on it. Ben keeps teasing me, "you said this was going to be a hobby and now you're in love with it!" =)

If you've never tried Jamberry, feel free to check out my site, let me know if you have any questions or if you want to host a party yourself and earn free items! I won't talk about it often here, but a link to my site will always be on the right side of screen.

Gallbladder Surgery

After having months of odd side and back pains, I got a diagnosis in May that I have a ton of gallstones (officially described as, "too numerous to count," by the ultrasound tech), and need to have my gallblader removed. I'm having it done later this month, and have to admit I'm a bit nervous, but also excited to get it out and start feeling 100% again (I feel like I have morning sickness again about 50-60% of the time right now).

I'm grateful that laparoscopic surgery allows for a minimally invasive approach to the procedure, and easier recovery time. I've never been intubated before, however, and I just have to not think about that aspect of things and go with it. I'm grateful my mom will be coming to help with the boys while I recover since I won't be able to lift over ten pounds for two weeks after the surgery is complete.

Everett Peanut Allergy:
About two weeks ago, Everett had a strong skin reaction to peanuts (picture below) after I made Thai Peanut Chicken in the crockpot. Side Note: Delicious recipe though, here's a link to it!

Everett's Reaction to Peanuts

After seeing a child allergist, it was very apparent he has a peanut allergy (but thankfully, no other foods right now).

Although his allergy doesn't appear severe right now, we have to treat it as if it is (as in, carry an epi pen and children's benedryl at all times) because of the way children's immune systems constantly change. They said we should know by age four how his allergy will be for life, and we'll do testing every six-nine months between then and now.

I feel so bad for him having to deal with this, and honestly did not take the news very well. I have adjusted to a better attitude now, but hold out hope he is one of the 20% of kids who out grown their allergies, or at the very least, his stays non-severe. Another allergy learning curve for our family!

The last month has also included a trip to Boston for work, continuous small projects around our house (yard work particularly), the air conditioning starting to crap out on my car and deciding how to deal with that and just life in general of course!

I hope all of your summers have started well with crazy, FUN, times! 

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My Favorite New Gluten Free Product Finds

With the DC Gluten Free Expo approaching, it got me thinking about all of the new gluten free products that have popped up with the diet's popularity (which can be both a blessing, and a curse).

Although I try to eat foods that are naturally gluten free, since so many gluten free substitute items are filled with butter, sugar and other additives, there are some things, you have to find gluten free versions of, and here are some that I recently have been loving.

Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar Snacks

Eighty Calories (two Weight Watchers points) and seriously sharp. These pack a flavor kick most little cheese snacks don't and are delicious. We go through a bag of these pretty quickly, as both Ben and I pack one in our lunch each day.
Freschetta Gluten Free Pizza

Finally!! The best gluten free frozen pizza EVERRRRRRRR. It beats pizza I've had at many restaurants. The price may make someone's eyes bulge ($9.99 at Target and Wegmans), but you would pay more at a restaurant, and now if we need a quick meal, everyone else can have their gluten filled pizza, while I make this gluten free one. They also offer a personal size pizza as well. I also bake it on a cookie sheet to avoid cross contamination. Austin has eaten this pizza too and loves it! Right now, it comes in two varieties: Cheese and Pepperoni.

Chex Gluten Free Granola 

Delicious, Delicious, Delicious. I love this stuff. Like most granolas, you have to limit your serving size, but sprinkling this in a little yogurt is absolutely wonderful, and then the bag goes a long way. I am always impressed with General Mill's gluten free offerings, including this one. Between the Chex cereals, oatmeals, and Nature Valley bars, I love a main stream company that has embraced gluten free. They make being celiac a little bit easier!

Stonyfield Organic Greek and Chia Yogurt

This yogurt is sooooo good! I've found it at Whole Foods and Target, and I love the Red Berries flavor (especially love it topped with a little GF Chex Granola noted above). It tastes great and fills you up, and I'm trying not to buy TOO much of it so I over eat it and get sick of it, but I've been eating it a lot lately!

Yasso Sea Salt Caramel Greek Yogurt Candy Bars

I've been looking for these since I saw the new variety of flavors on Yasso's website, and recently found them at Target. Let me tell you, they did not disappoint! Completely delicious, four Weight Watchers Points, and are an awesome treat. It's hard to not eat one every night!

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