Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Legality of Marriage

Big day today on the path to being married. You plan all the "big" stuff, the church, the reception site, the flowers, the dress, etc. but you can't forget the legal stuff, you know the thing that makes it real. Today we applied for our marriage license. If you haven't applied for a marriage license in Minnesota, let me tell ya, it is eeeeeeasy, I did it on my lunch break (the service center is also right next to the cafeteria in the government center, it's awesome). You just walk in, show your ID's, have nearly completed application, sign said application in front of person, walk out with marriage license that you can use any time in the next six months, boom, done, legal to wed.

Going along with the legal stuff, I decided to change my last name when I got married. I'm not happy about, I never will be, I'm Italian and German, I'm not whatever this new last name is, but I thought it was the right thing to do, and I didn't want to live the rest of my life explaining the last name thing. Plus, I love my soon to be husband, and I want us to be one single, family unit with one name. So, last name changed, the old middle name I was born with "Ann"? Gone. My maiden name will now be my middle name. And today, there it was, officially my new name staring back at me from my newly printed marriage. Sure, I had told me people how many times the same thing I just told all of you about how I was changing my name, but there it was, legally in front of me.

So, per usual, I got all misty eyed and started tearing up at Window #7 of the Hennepin County Court House Service Center. Not that I'm not excited to be married, and Ben puffs up like a proud rooster every time it comes up that my last name will now be his, but it just felt like this new phase of life was starting, kind of how you feel after college graduation, and seeing the new name made me realize that.

Despite my weepiness, I managed to pull it together, just in time for the counter clerk to hand me a whole fun packet on things to do to legally change your name (Read: Expect a post b*tching about name change process roughly 2.5 months from now).

Then, I did the girl thing, and had the clerk take our picture, I had to document this monumental day, even if it was just the first legal step in becoming a married woman.
So there we are, the soon to be happy couple, completely the oh so romantic legalities that make one's marriage official.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Reminder: Walking Club Starts this Sunday!!

Hey Twin Cities area readers and walking enthusiasts! A reminder that our walking "club" starts this weekend at Como Lake in St. Paul. If you need to map quest where we'll be meeting, here is the address for the Pavilion at the lake: 1390 Lexington Pkwy N, St Paul, MN 55103. There is a free parking lot. Cindy, Ann and I will be there ready to greet you, and we have a special surprise for those joining us for our first walk together!!

Also, kids in strollers, or who can walk at a good pace are welcome, as are friendly pets.

As another reminder, if this is something you would like to be a part of, check back at my blog every Thursday before the scheduled walk, to see exactly where we will be meeting at the lake. Out of respect for everyone's time, we will leave promptly at 6:10 p.m. (giving anyone time in case they get lost).

Be sure to stop by one of the scheduled times this summer, can't wait to see you all Sunday!

Here is a tentative schedule:
May 2: Como Lake, St. Paul 1.5 Miles
May 16: Centennial Lakes Park, Edina 1.43 Miles
June 6: Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis 2.5 Miles
June 20: Shops at Arbor Lakes Man Made Lake (I need to get exact name) X2, Maple Grove 2.0 Miles
July 11: Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis 3.1 Miles
July 18: Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis, 3.5 Miles
Aug 1: Como Lake X2, St. Paul, 3.0 Miles
Aug 15: Lake Harriet, Minneapolis 2.8 Miles
Aug 29: Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis 3.1 Miles

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bachlorette Recap & A Great Cause

Phew, what a whirlwind past five days! This past weekend my lady friends threw me a Wedding Shower and Bachlorette Party here in the Twin Cities. I am lucky enough to have amazing friends, who traveled from near and far (Davenport, Rock Island, Ann Arbor and Springfield, Missouri!) to attend the shower and party.

My friend Sam was quite the hostess, making us all an awesome dinner and appetizers, and then arranged to have a stretch Hummer Limo pick us up and drive us around for the night! She also was really thinking, when she made sure we had chips in the limo to munch on in between stops, great job on the party Sam!! I can't wait to return the favor for her.
The Lovely Hostess and Me

This week, it's back to normal, my last wedding shower is this weekend with my future in-laws, so my Ben's parents are coming to town from Idaho and my parents from Wisconsin, it will be another busy and fun weekend.

Also, in my half marathon training, I'll be hitting the pavement for nine miles on Sunday. If anyone wants to join me for all, or part of it, to help keep me sane, I'd love to have you, doesn't matter your pace (well, if you're faster than me, plan on running a bit slower).

As most of you know, I'm a huge animal lover (cue adorable picture of Cooper from this weekend):
Anyway, my brother cued me into this, Pepsi is sponsoring a Pepsi "Refresh" contest where you can vote for a cause, and the top two will be awarded $250,000 each! I'm voting for this program called that provides housing for disabled veterans in return for them caring for retired military working dogs; two great causes in one. Currently, they are #81, and the contest ends up April 30, so get click here and vote, it's easy!! Also, link this on your blog or twitter to help out as well!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rompers and Challenge

OK, this is going to be a totally random post, but what's with rompers? I keep seeing them advertised, but I've never seen anyone wear them. They look like a moo moo with shorts to me. Has anyone worn one? (not in the 1970's either) Does anyone own one? What is the appeal here?
Don't babies wear rompers?? Are these going to be like Gaucho pants were five years ago? (Confession, I wore Gaucho pants in college, and now I look back at pictures and wonder why I did such a disservice to my thighs).

The next totally random thing. Tonight Jen from Prior Fat Girl competed in a 99 minute Stair Master Challenge, great job Jen! Now, I've got the next challenge for Jen, The Monster Dash 10 Mile Run on October 30, 2010. Jen said the only way we could get her to do this race was to challenge her publicly, well here I am Miss Jen!! With your stellar 5K times, I know you'll do great. I'm running it Jen, are you in, are you??

Monday, April 19, 2010

Target Field Sunburns

Hey Party People. Another Monday in the Twin Cities, and a beautiful one at that. This weekend Ben and I enjoyed the weather at at Twins Game, it was my first time at Target Field and all I have to say is, WOW! This is how baseball should be.
We both got our first "Target Field Sunburns," but couldn't have been happier about it, this could have NEVER happened at the dome!

This weekend I also decided to channel Ree, The Pioneer Woman, and make a few of her recipes. If you haven't heard of the Pioneer Woman, she's awesome! She lives in middle of nowhere Oklahoma, is married to a rancher and has quite the story, check it out! The best thing about her blog though, in my opinion, are her recipes. She has step by step pictures, and it's super helpful! This weekend I made her Cajun Chicken Pasta and Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares. Neither of them turned out exactly like the pictures, but they were both tasty. The Cajun chicken was so spicy that my mouth was on fire, but being that Ben lived for 3+ Years on Tex Mex food, he loved it and took leftovers to work for lunch today. They were both good recipes, I'll need to tweak them a bit before I try them out on the general public, however.

In give away news, we have a winner for the Luna Protein Bar Give Away, the winner is...

Cindy said,
"I will definitely use these during those hunger-pang moments. To keep me from diving from the potato chips. Muy importante!"

You are right on Cindy! You have won this six pack of the Cookie Dough flavor, please e-mail me with your info and I'll make sure these yummy snacks come your way, congratulations!
There will be another great give away coming up in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Story of Fate

Today was a busy day, I had calls, and lunch time Toastmasters, and things over lapping, but I was handling it fine. Sure, I was craving chocolate, and may have had a teensy bit of Diet Pop, but I needed something else. So, in the 30 minutes I had free from 12:30-1:00, I dashed to Jamba Juice to grab and a smoothie (Peach Perfection all fruit smoothie with Whey Protein, yummm) while I waited for beloved smoothie in the City Center I glanced in the window at Len Druskin, I'd never really been in there, but I saw a cute belt in the window. Jamba Juice was taking their sweet, sweet time making my smoothie, so I decided to peak my head in to check out the belt. I was on my way to the belts when I saw it, there it was, laying out on the table as if it was waiting especially for me, this beauty:
I've been looking for a necklace like this for a good four months, I love this style, LOVE this style, with the beads and the little flower on the side, but everything I've seen is either over priced, or looks like puke. Nothing like the styles I see gals wearing on TV that are cute and clean, and can compliment anything from a sweet sweater to a plain t-shirt. But this necklace, oh this necklace was different, it was everything I was looking for.

I prepared myself to be shocked by the price tag, $75? $100? I turned it over to find a $35 price tag, and then saw the sign and a light bulb went off as I realized everything in Len Druskin is 50% off, I literally gasped out loud. I looked around and saw there was no identical necklace to this one anywhere on the surrounding jewelery tables and I quickly scooped up the one I had been tracing my finger over, it was meant to be!

I walked out of the store with a smile of my face, thinking about how the littlest things can just make one's day...only to realize it was 12:52 and I had eight minutes to get back to my desk for a 1:00 p.m. call, so I slipped off my red heels, gripped them in my hand and darted through the skyways in my nylons. If you saw a flash in a black dress today during the noon hour downtown, that was me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Give Aways Galore!

So turns out, I'm not the only one into give aways. Tomorrow, in an effort to remind people to bring in their own mugs and reduce their carbon foot print, bring any reusable coffee tumbler to a Starbucks and they'll fill it with coffee, FOR FREE!! Nice!! Perfect treat to start off tax day, and, if you're like me, your tank is nearly on empty come Thursday, so it's a nice pick me up.
And now, onto my big give away! This is a product, I'm reallllly excited about. I found them about two months ago at Whole Foods and have been hooked every since, Luna Protein bars. According to Luna Bar's website: "LUNA Bar, the entirely natural whole nutrition bar for women, was created to meet the special needs of our bodies" Well, that's awesome for us gals, and I think they taste pretty freaking good too, whether it be the protein bars or the standard bars. And really, you don't have to be a woman to eat these. I gave one to my co-worker Eddie once before telling him it was made for women, he didn't know the difference, (I mean, is there an alarm that goes off that a guy gives up their man card when they eat one of these??) and he really enjoyed it, even after I told him it was a nutrition bar formulated especially for women.

Anyway, here's the stats on the Cookie Dough flavor of Luna Protein
Bars (my favorite):
Calories 180
Calories from fat 60
Total Fat 6g
Sat. Fat 4g
Total Carb. 21g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 15g
Protein 12g

Today, I'll be giving away a six pack of these Cookie Dough Luna Protein Bars:
Here are the ways you can enter to win:
1. Follow me on Twitter, @AlexaTC, and retweet this message, "@AlexaTC is sponsoring a Luna Protein Bar Give Away, check it out!" then, leave me a comment with a link to your tweet
2. Go to and comment below to tell me what flavor of Luna Bars (protein or regular) you want to try, or already is your favorite
3. Let me know when you will enjoy these Luna Protein bars and how they'll help you get or maintain your health (I eat mine as a mid-morning snack or after a workout).

So, there are three separate ways you can win!

Here is the fine print: This give away is open U.S. Residents only. Entries must be received by Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. CST. A Winner will be announced on Monday, April 19, 2010 and the winner has until Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. CST to contact me, otherwise a new winner will be picked. The winner will be picked at random.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Food, Food, & Give Away Preview!!

Last week I took my cousin Joanna's advice and hit up Costco for a big jar of Almond Butter, If you remember, I tried this last month for the first time, yum! Getting the Almond Butter out of the store turned out to be a challenge after I dropped the first jar I grabbed smack on the floor and the glass shattered, and the creamy butter splattered everywhere. I wish I would have remembered to take a picture, I guess I was too mortified trying to find an employee to help me out. Anyway, buying the Almond Butter there was the best deal I've found, the huge jar from there was the same price (roughly $7.50) as a small jar at Target. It tasted great on my apples as an afternoon snack yesterday at work. =)

If you're like me, you're always looking for new dinner ideas, and if you're really like, you get stuck in a chicken rut. I was in one last week, big time. It doesn't help that I buy bags of chicken breasts from Costco (again, love that wholesaler!), but seriously, how much chicken can one eat?! So tonight, I tried something different, I bought some marinated beef tips and cooked them in a pan with a little bit of oil and steamed some mixed veggies to make this stir fry.
It was delicious, filling, low carb, easy to make, and not chicken!! What a GREAT change. It took about 10 minutes to make, and Ben was raving about it too. If you're in the Twin Cities area, I bought the beef tips from the meat counter at the Lunds in Uptown, and they weren't badly prices, used about a half pound for two of us.

More blog excitement in my neck of the woods, yesterday I won a dozen deep chocolate VitaTops through a give away over at A Fit and Spicy Life, Mellissa's blog! Mellissa and I met at the PFG meet up in February, she sat at the same table as Cindy, Sarah and I. Mellissa writes about her exercise, dining out, cooking, and home adventures, check it out!

I'm a big fan of blog giveaways, it's such an awesome, exciting feeling when you win, and a great way to try a new product, risk free! That said, tomorrow there will be a fabulous give away right here on the blog, so stay tuned so you can be the next big winner!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

She's Out Of My League!!

What a great weekend it's been! I'm starting to feel like, maybe, just maybe, spring is actually here and there won't be anymore snow or wiping winds, can't speak too soon though!

This weekend we didn't have a lot planned, but still ended up doing a lot of stuff, I love weekends like this.

Last night, tried out a new restaurant I had heard good reviews of called Piccolo in Minneapolis. As I've stated before, I'm all about trying new restaurants lately. Well, Piccolo describes on their website that they have "moderate" portions, moderate?? moderate?? I don't think my dog could get full off one portion of their food. Ben and I each ordered the gnocchi, and when the server said, "OK, gnocchi to start?" as his response we both were a bit puzzled, but then figured it out when five, that's right FIVE gnocchi showed up on our plate. Don't get me wrong, the gnocchi was delicious, it came with a wonderful pistachio sauce, but it wasn't near enough to get me full. So, I ordered a piece of cheesecake the size of a saltine and been ordered some pork the size of a golf ball, again, tasted great, but we got more full off the bread basket (and I think they figured it out when they refilled it for a third time), then the regular meal. Moral of the story, we ended up getting sandwiches at Fusion (formally Zeno) in Uptown afterward. If you haven't checked out their remodel, do it! We sat in the lounge on comfortable couches and it was great.

Today Ben and I really decided to soak up the day together. Things have been so busy lately, we haven't had many days like this. We started out the day taking Cooper to the park by our house, and then went to an area coffee shop and enjoyed their deck, and their waffles. Lazy Sundays like today where we can do this are just perfect. This picture isn't too great with the sun, but you can see a delicious waffle and a happy Cooper.
We wrapped up today by going to see, "She's Out of My League" down at Block E (p.s. why is everything closing in there!?!). Oh MAN, this movie was funny. Two thumbs WAY up! I don't know why this hasn't done better at the box office.
Through pretty much the whole last 10 minutes of this movie, I could not stop laughing-- good thing there were only three other people besides us in the theater and two of them were too busy making out to even know what was going on. There are some classic one liners in this movie, if you can still find it in a theater, check it out!

Did I forget to mention I got in a 7+ mile run this weekend, woo hoo! Ran the green way to the new Twins stadium and back and determined I should start riding my bike to work some this summer, it's so easy! I wish I would have taken a picture on the run, but I didn't, so I promise to on the next long run.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

How to make a Chick Flick

Are you a sucker for chick flicks? (I'm raising my hand here). Do you sob over Nicholas Sparks novels? (I've only read A Walk to Remember, but it made me misty). Then you MUST check this out. A guy at work sent this to me, and it so dang funny. Not a lot of creativity coming from these movie makers, or Mr. Sparks it seems, but I guess the box office dollars keep rolling in, so why mess with success?!?

This week, I dedicated myself to working out EVERY day this week Sunday through Sunday, and so far so good! I've booked a lot of workout dates with other people, so that is really helping, having a workout buddy makes SUCH a difference. I took a buddy to spin class, met another for a run and tonight Ben and I headed to the gym together. We had planned to do a kickboxing class, but the teacher was late, and rude... I won't go into details, so anyway, I did the elliptical and then stepped on this evil machine:
Oh man, what a workout, I don't sweat a lot, but I was dripping, front of my shirt soaked through. The stair climber gets me every time, if you need to pump up your cardio, check it out!

Also, an update from our Pop Chips contest winner Amy!! Here she is with her winnings:

Now, I don't condone that University of Iowa shirt (I'm a Gopher through and through!), but I'm so pumped for Amy and her winnings. The good people at Pop Chips did better than they said, and sent her a whole CASE of snack size bags of chips in different flavors, YUM!

I'm thinking it may be time for another yummy give away in the near future, stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What makes a runner, a runner?

Fellow Runners (and wanna be runners),

Please read this article. It came out last fall, and Ben's cousin Annie pointed it out to me. Both Annie and I consider ourselves runners (it took a long time for me to embrace this title and say, yes, I am a runner), but neither of us have Boston Marathon qualifying times. We run for fun, for stress relief, for exercise, and to accomplish a goal. Personally, I run about a 12ish minute mile. Am I going to go the Olympics? No. Can I finish a half marathon and still be standing?? Heck yes! (As documented below while running the Monster Half on October 31, that's me in the Orange with the killer socks!)
So, if you're a runner like me, who loves to run, but isn't Michael Johnson, give this article (and the comments) a look, and tell me what you think. According to some in the running community, I'm not a runner, but instead a "plodder."

When I first read this article, I was steaming mad, but after reading the comments I was renewed that cocky runners are the minority, not the majority. We need to remember, it's not about how fast you go, it's that you're out there! You're running while others are on the couch, you're running when you could have easily stayed home! PLUS, with all this talk of health care lately, let's remember that the more active and healthy Americans are (no matter how fast they are) the cheaper our insurance premiums will be! (Stepping off my soap box now)

And Speaking of being healthy, Jen over at Prior Fat Girl has challenge for all of us on April 20th, check it out. I'm in, are you in?!?!?!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Another Manic Monday

What a great way to start my week, last night I found out I won a giveaway on my pal Cindy Elizabeth's blog for the new Hungry Girl 123 Cookbook, awesome! I had been contemplating buying this book, so this is great. I will report back on any yummy recipes I try out from here. If you haven't checked out Cindy's blog, you must. She's currently getting herself in shape through a "Couch to 5K" program and also is co-organizer of our walking group that starts next month (yes, next month is May, scary!).

This week, I tried a great new bar, and I had to share. I've tried Lara Bars in the past, and loved them, but Lara's Key Lime Pie bar, is absolutely delicious. It has a perfect flair of lime, along with a hint of coconut and of course the nuts that are mixed in for protein.
At 220 calories, the Key Lime Pie bar is a bit of a hefty snack, but it will keep you full in between lunch and dinner in my experience. The best thing about Lara Bars, is that they're all natural, you can pronounce everything on the label! For instance, their Cherry Pie bar that's currently sitting in my snack drawer has the following ingredients: Dates, Almonds and Unsweetened Cherries. They are also Gluten, Dairy and Soy free if you live by one of those diets.

Whipped up a favorite recipe last week that I have to share with you all, Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins off Spark Recipes, YUM! These are easy, and make a great breakfast on the run. At 93.5 calories per muffin, and how moist they are, I'm sold on these. I made them one night after dinner last week, it was easy, even for weeknight baking.
Pre-Oven Muffin Mix
Yummy Completed Muffins!

I forgot to mention in yesterday's post, that at my shower this weekend, everyone included a favorite recipe of theirs with their gift, score! I'm a huge fan of new recipes (if you can't tell), and I can't wait to report back to you on how they turn out. There are ones for brownies and chocolate peanut butter cookies, and also dinner items like Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken and a Fresh Tomato Pasta.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Weekend Wrap Up

I am pretty much spent this Sunday evening, so this will be a short, but sweet post, my readers. First of all, spring has sprung, and so have my allergies, oof-da! Are anyone else's allergies being a beast? As much as I love to see the buds on the trees this early, they're giving my respiratory system a run for it's money. This weekend, I was also in Wisconsin, so I think being where there's more nature, and farther south where things are budding even more didn't help either.

This weekend started out on the right note, going to Body Pump class, which turned out to be a blogger party! With Meghan as our instructor, Jen, Mary and I were all at the class and we got our butts kicked!
Kudos to Jen for committing to do this class with me, if it weren't for meeting her there, there was no way I would have dragged myself there at the end of the work week.

After class, Ben and I headed to Wisco for my first bridal shower, put on by my Maid of Honor Ashley and her mom Kathy for all of my family and family friends, it was a GREAT time! I'm so used to attending these showers, or helping organize them, that I wasn't sure how to handle the role of the bride. Everyone was so generous with their gifts, and traveling from near and far for the shower though, I feel very lucky to have such nice people supporting Ben and I as we get prepare for our marriage.
Opening an awesome over the sink Cutting Board & Colander, so excited to use this!

With the Best Maid of Honor ever!

The weekend wrapped up with a wonderful Easter with family and driving back home to the Twin Cities (and realizing that pretty much EVERY restaurant and grocery store is closed on Easter around here, it's nuts!).

I got in a 2.75 mile run tonight, not great, but I got out there, and didn't let my allergies beat me. Here's hoping the rain over the next two days will wipe out some of the allergens in the air. If it's going to be crappy weather, it may as well serve a purpose!

This week, I'm stepping up my Minneapolis Half Marathon training... it's time to get it on, stay tuned for details. =) Have a great Monday!