Thursday, January 31, 2013

Not a Good Excuse

Hello and happy Thursday!


Even though I have a sore throat, I am still smiling.

I didn't follow last night's dinner plan because I wasn't feeling well and was craving some comfort food. Not a good excuse, I know. However, I managed to stay within my nutritional ranges for the day so it wasn't a complete loss!

Yesterday's stats from www.sparkpeople.com
I played Just Dance on the Wii after dinner and got my heart rate up! Dancing is a super fun workout. I absolutely love that game!

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I have been tossing around the idea of hosting a giveaway. Have you ever heard of Thirty One?

photo from www.thirtyonesgifts.com
I have some pretty awesome readers and I really want to give back! Let me know in a comment if you would be interested in a Thirty One themed giveaway! And check back soon for more details.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Awful, No Good, Very Bad Run

Whenever I left the office at 5:00 p.m. yesterday, I stepped outside to feel something I haven't felt in a long time; 50 degree weather. After a week or so with below freezing wind chill, this weather felt amazing! It had been raining all day so everything was wet, but it wasn't raining when I walked to my car. I had a big smile on my face as I walked and thought "I am going for a run tonight!"

By the time I got home and ready for my run, it started to sprinkle. "That's okay", I thought. I have run in the rain before. It started to get really dark as I set my garmin forerunner up for my workout. I began with a 5 minute warm up. When the warm-up was over, I looked at my watch to see "1 mile run" as the first interval. That was not what I signed up for; I can't even run a full mile! By this time it started to down pour and I was stopped. I was hungry, wet and frustrated. I choose the wrong work out and I was stopped there, in the pouring rain, trying to see my garmin screen in the dark. (It does have a backlight, I was just really frustrated at the time and didn't think to use it.) So, after a minute of getting my garmin set to the correct workout (2 min. run, 3 min. walk intervals) the rain just started coming down in sheets and I felt defeated. I was a minute and a half in to my run when I stopped. This was turning out to be an awful, no good, very bad run. I decided to call it quits, go home and make dinner.

Not all running days are good ones, but the good ones make it worth it. So I am going to try again when the weather gets better!

After my "run", I decided to jump right in to trying a new recipe for dinner.

Impossibly Easy Mini Cheeseburger Pie
I found a new recipe for mini cheeseburgers on a calendar at work yesterday. Just because it's winter doesn't mean we can't eat like it's summer! The mini cheeseburgers turned out great! Garnish with diced tomatoes, pickles or ketchup and they really taste like a cheeseburger.


Ingredients:


Ground Beef Mixture:
1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion chopped
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Baking Mixture:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup pancake mix
1 egg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Spray 12 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray.

Cook beef and onion over medium-high head 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Cool 5 minutes; stir in worchestershire sauce, garlic salt and cheese.

In a medium bowl, stir baking mixture ingredients with whisk or for until blended. Spoon 1 scant tbsp baking mixture into each muffin cup. Top with about 1/4 cup burger mixture. Spoon 1 tbsp baking mixture onto burger mixture in each muffin cup.

Bake for about 30 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Serve with garnish of ketchup, diced tomatoes and/or mustard.



Since I still have an outstanding goal to complete three more video blogs recipes before I turn 25 on Monday, I decided to feature this new recipe in a video blog!


As you can see, this recipe is super simple. I was really thrilled with the outcome and even more happy that I only have two more video blog recipes to go!

What did you have for dinner last night?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spicy Poblano and Corn Soup

Last night, I tried a new recipe for dinner. It took me about 30 minutes and had minimal ingredients; my kind of soup! The best part, however, was how good it tasted. You really HAVE to try to recipe. I made very slight changes to the original recipe. The way I made the soup is as follows:


Spicy Poblano and Corn Soup


Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups soup and 2 tablespoons cheese)

Nutrition per Serving: 239 calories; 4 fat; 42 carbs; 13 protein

Ingredients

1 (16-ounce) package frozen baby white corn, thawed and divided
2 cups fat-free milk, divided
4 poblano chiles, seeded and chopped (about 1 pound)
1 cup refrigerated onion
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions

1. Place 1 cup corn and 1 1/2 cups milk in a Dutch oven. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat.
2. Combine chopped chile, onion, and 1 tablespoon water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave at HIGH 4 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, place 2 cups corn and 1/2 cup milk in a blender; process until smooth. Add pureed mixture to corn mixture in pan. Stir in chile mixture, salt and pepper, and cook 6 minutes over medium heat. Ladle soup into bowls, and top each serving with 2 tablespoons cheddar cheese.


As you could have guessed, our dinner plan for Monday was Spicy Poblano and Corn Soup. Here is what our entire week looks like:

Monday: Spicy Poblano and Corn Soup with Salad
Tuesday: Easy Mini Cheeseburger Pies with Salad
Wednesday: Chicken with Veggies
Thursday: Chicken with Veggies
Friday: Calzones
Saturday: Bowling Birthday Party

Did I just type "birthday party"? My in-laws get all of the "kids" together once in the winter to celebrate our birthdays. Between me, my husband and his brothers and sisters, we all have winter birthday months! Mine just happens to be on Monday. I can't believe how fast this year has gone. It seems just like last week I began my 25 by 25 list.

On the eve of my 24th birthday, I decided to make a list of 25 things that I would like to accomplish before I turn 25 years old, on February 4, 2013. Here's the list, in which I refer to as my "25 by 25" list:

1. Try 25 new recipes (25/25 done)
2. Complete a 5K
3. Try 3 new bike/walking trails (3/3 done)
4. Try tofu for the first time
5. Read 5 books regarding healthy living (3/5 done)
6. Post 5 video blog recipes (2/5 done)
7. Reach "Onederland"
8. Go on 12 dates with my husband
9. Treat myself with a professional massage
10. Travel out of state 3 times
11. Crochet a blanket
12. Cook something for our mothers, "just because"
13. Host a bonfire with friends
14. Invite my father-in-law over for dinner 5 times
15. Host a picnic with family
16. Search for beach glass at the lake
17. Go canoeing
18. Swing dance in Cleveland
19. Shop at a whole foods market
20. Try a new fruit or vegetable
21. Try a new workout
22. Complete a home project
23. Take our dog on 10 walks and blog about them
24. Try a new restaurant
25. Pay off a credit card ($1,000)

I have a few things to cross off of my list while I'm thinking about it.

During our cruise vacation this past year, in November, I treated myself to a professional massage. Goodbye #9!

9. Treat myself with a professional massage
A few weeks ago, I finished a little blanket for my 3 year old brother. See ya later #11!

11. Crochet a blanket

I recently finished my fourth healthy living book and I am almost done with the fifth.

5. Read 5 books regarding healthy living (4/5 done!)
So far, it looks like there are three goal I will not be completing before I turn 25 on Monday.

I will not be reaching Onederland (199 lbs) as I am current weighing in at 235 lbs. This past year turned out to be a year of maintaining my loss from 2011, and I am okay with that!

I will not be swing dancing in Cleveland. There was a dance this past Saturday we were planning on going to but the roads were too bad. I figured living to 25 was more important than completing that goal, so we decided to dance at home, instead!

The other goal I may not complete before Monday is posting 3 more video blog recipes. A lot goes in to the prep for those and I think I put it off a little too long.

My husband told me how proud he was of me for completing so much on my list and I am pretty proud, too! We had a lot of fun this past year; I think my list has been a total success! I've got a few more days to work on finishing my last book and maybe squeezing in another video blog for good measure. We'll see how far I get!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Power of Positive Thinking

I try really hard to maintain a positive outlook on all things in life. This is not something that comes naturally to me, and it is something that I work on daily.

Positive thinking is a powerful thing. If thinking positively isn't something that comes naturally to you, no need to worry! Thinking positively, if practiced, is something that can become a great habit for even the most pessimistic of people (i.e. the "old" me).

I have a feeling that it would be very easy for most of us to dwell on the bad things happening in our lives.

I have had a miscarriage, multiple sclerosis, polycycstic ovarian syndrome, a blood clotting disorder, I am obese and struggle with weight loss; the list goes on. For any one of those reasons, I could easily want to sit in a corner and cry, cry, cry. Have I had my moments of doing that? Yes; I am not superwomen. However, there is a time for it, and even if the negative issue remains, the time for feeling sorry for yourself should not last forever. Feeling sorry for your circumstances will only bring you down, and you have so many reasons to be up, up, up!

Don't think so? Well let's see...

Are you able to read this right now? Good for you; you have the blessing of vision!

Are you able to take a deep breath without pain? Congratulations; what a wonderful gift you have!

Are you able to stand up right now and walk? Look at you! You are on a roll!

The list can go on and on, but I will stop there. The important point I am trying to make is that by focusing on some of the little things we may be taking for granted, we can cheer ourselves up and start looking at our problems in a more positive light.

Today, I am going to remind myself of the following great things in my life:

~ I have a wonderful husband who loves and supports me
~ I have a job that brings us financial support
~ I have a loving group of family and friends
~ I have a home, a place to go to rest

What are some positive things you choose to focus on today?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Things You Need to Know

Dear readers, friends and generally awesome people:

There are some things you need to know about this past week and how we spend most of our Saturdays.


First of all, we got hit with a ton of snow. While it was incredibly scary to drive in this past week, it was equally beautiful and a peaceful sight to see in the mornings while drinking my hot cocoa.


My sweet husband got me "just because" flowers. He says it's just because I'm great, and I say they are just because he is great. It's an ongoing debate.


This morning (after finding out that I had lost the weight I had gained from the previous week, bringing me back down to 235 lbs. Yay!) I made a killer cheddar cheese omelet. Fluffy cheesy goodness. Pair that with my Oolong tea and some 80's music and there you have a great Saturday morning!


Most Saturday mornings, like this one, start off with us both at the stove; my husband making pancakes for himself and me making an omelet. It seems all nice and fine until one of us hooks our iPhone to the docking station and blasts the Tears for Fears Pandora Station. That's when the real party starts.

With tunes like "Just Died in Your Arms", "Tainted Love", "Don't Stop Believing" and "Summer of '69", it's inevitable for a cooking utensil to be used as a microphone and dancing to occur. There was a lot of swinging hips, jumping around and snapping fingers.

Naturally, we have to dance according to the era of the music playing, and our dog Topher is never impressed.


How did you spend your Saturday morning? What did you have for breakfast?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Best Frozen Meal Award for January 2013

I am not a stranger to frozen meals. I often choose frozen meals as my lunch during my usually busy work day. After many years of trying different frozen meals, I feel as if it is safe to consider myself a frozen meal extraordinaire. It's kind of a big deal; I know!

What does this have to do with anything? Well, I'll tell you. I came across what I would like to award the "best frozen meal of January 2013". I wanted to give this frozen meal the award for "best frozen meal of all time", but I'm not completely ready to commit to that decision. As you can imagine, it's a big deal, too! I haven't tried every frozen meal out there yet, so until then, I can only say that this frozen meal is my favorite for this month.

I introduce to you, Smart Ones Chicken Enchilada Suiza.

photo from www.eatyourbest.com

Congratulations, Smart Ones! You did an amazing job. This frozen meal was filled with (read the next three words very slowly for dramatic effect) spicy cheesy goodness. Did I mention the cheese? I can't believe this meal is under 300 calories! And, the spice makes it so I drink extra water with my meal, which is really good for reaching my goal of drinking 64 ounces a day!

I highly recommend my frozen meal pick for January, 2013.

Have you ever tried this frozen meal or do you have a favorite of your own?

If you could pick between Smart Ones or Lean Cuisine, what is your pick?

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Smart Ones and I was not paid for this post; all opinions are my own, honest opinions.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pecans are NUTS!

I feel betrayed.

I have heard great things about eating nuts as a snack. Something that I hadn't heard was how many calories are in them. Pecans for example; I snacked on a cup of pecans only to find that there were over 800 calories in one cup of pecans. What?! That's nuts!

Since I was completely shocked to find how many calories were in pecans, I decided to look further in to nuts; a so-called "healthy way of snacking". I found an interesting article from www.sparkpeople.com on the subject.

photo from www.sparkpeople.com

You can find the entire article, by clicking here. Some highlights I have selected are below:

"We’re not nuts for saying it – a daily dose of nuts is a healthy way of snacking. Ditch the guilt and dig in. The only caution, keep it to about a handful.

Nuts have had a long-time bad rap as a high calorie, indulgent food that we should decline whenever tempted. True, nuts get more than half of their calories from fat. But there’s more to it than that. We’ve got three reasons to fit nuts into healthy living: (1) Eating plenty of nuts could actually lower the risk of heart disease, particularly for women. (2) Nuts are high in protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber. (3) Eating nuts in reasonable portions can also be a good way to maintain a healthy weight, or even lose weight!

Healthy for Your Heart
How can a high fat food such as nuts be good for the heart? The biggest danger to the heart and arteries comes from saturated fats, found mostly in meat and high-fat dairy products. The fat in most nuts is unsaturated, the "friendlier" kind of fat that lowers LDLs, the so-called bad cholesterol. Cashews, almonds, and peanuts are full of monounsaturated fats. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fats similar to oils found in fish such as salmon.

Nutty Nutritious
Nuts are nutritious too. In the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid, nuts are included with the protein-rich foods in the meat, poultry, fish, eggs and beans category. A one-third cup of nuts provides about five grams of protein and is equivalent to one ounce of lean meat. Almonds, cashews, pine nuts, peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts are particularly high in protein.

Nuts for a Healthy Weight
People who eat nuts regularly do not typically gain weight. Some even lose weight! The nutrients and fat in nuts tend to make you feel fuller longer. When you feel full from a small snack of nuts between meals, you are less likely to have the urge to pig out at your next meal. Nuts seem to satisfy appetites without causing weight gain, unlike high carb, low fat snacks such as pretzels, which don’t seem to be very filling. The people who lose weight while eating daily controlled portions of nuts seem to naturally self adjust their calorie intake. This means they naturally eat fewer calories in later meals as a result of feeling satisfied from nuts.

Of course, moderation is everything. About 1 to 1-1/2 ounces of nuts are recommended per day to fall into the healthy category. This is approximately one handful. If you eat much beyond that, you’re eating a lot of calories (about 170 calories per handful of peanuts). Since it’s hard to practice restraint with the whole jar or bag nearby, get in the habit of taking your one handful in a special nut bowl, or use a recycled mint tin for a portable container.

Nut Add-ons
Don’t want to eat nuts alone as a snack? Use nuts as an ingredient for an easy way to control your nut portions if you don’t trust your snacking habits. There are many creative and delicious ways to add nuts to your meals. For example, t
oss a handful of nuts into a salad, stir-fry, pasta, or rice dish."


Do you eat nuts as a snack? What are your favorite kind?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Making Sleep a Priority

Sometimes it feels like there aren't enough hours in the day. If you agree with that statement, raise your hand.

image from google images
Okay, put your hand down; you look silly with your hand raised in front of a computer screen.

It's easy for me to think the only way to find more hours in the day is to cut them out of my time spent sleeping. This, however, hasn't been working too well for me. It has completely backfired. Now, I have the time but I am too tired to get what I need to get done, done.

I guess word has been getting around that I've been tired lately, too. Maybe it's because I texted my mom "I'm so tired" the other day, but that is beside the point. Her words of advice, simple yet true: "Make sleep a priority and you'll see a change!"

I plan on listening to my mother's advice. I also plan to plan a little better. Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan. After writing and reading a word so many times, it starts to look odd. Anyways, what I am trying to get at is that by planning ahead, you may be able to fit in some of the things you have been wanting to do, but can't seem to find the time for.

For example, I haven't been exercising lately, because I haven't been planning ahead. That is about to change!

Exercise Plan for the Week:

Monday - Wii Fit - done!
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday - Wii Fit
Thursday - Rest
Friday - Wii Fit
Saturday - Rest

This isn't a crazy intense workout schedule, but it's more than I have been doing lately.

Eventually, it's my goal to have workouts be second nature to me and not something I will necessarily have to plan. In the summer, it's a lot easier to manage this. It's a lot easier to go for a walk with the dogs, or play an active game outside. For now, planning my workouts is something that will be necessary.

Do you plan ahead for your workouts?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Browned Butter Gnocchi

Tonight, I tried a new recipe for dinner. My husband loves gnocchi so when I saw an easy recipe for browned butter gnocchi in Cooking Light magazine earlier this month, I knew I would just have to give it a try! I modified the original recipe (to be more cost effective) and it turned out pretty great! My modified version of the recipe is below:

Browned Butter Gnocchi

Serves: 3
Nutrition Per Serving: 368 calories; 12.8 fat; 56.6 carbs; 7.9 protein

Ingredients:

1 - 16 oz. package prepared gnocchi
3 cups chopped broccoli
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tbsp. grated parmesan


Directions:

1. Cook gnocchi in a large Dutch oven according to package directions. Add broccoli during the last minute of cooking; cook one minute. Drain.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and oil; cook seven minutes or until butter browns. Add gnocchi mixture and pepper to pan; toss to coat. Sprinkle each serving with parmesan.

This dish would probably be better with pine nuts and romano cheese added to the mixture, but I substituted parmesan for the romano and excluded the pine nuts to save a little money.

This dish is also a good dish to have on a Monday. Why, do you ask? Well, have you ever heard of Meatless Monday? According to the Meatless Monday website, going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel. To read more about Meatless Monday, you can visit the website by clicking here.

Do you participate in Meatless Monday?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bringing Meal Plans Back

I'm bringing meal plans back... yeah!

If you didn't read the above sentence to the beat of "Bringing Sexy Back" by Justin Timberlake, then you may think I'm crazy. If you did read the above sentence to the beat of "Bringing Sexy Back" by Justin Timberlake, then you are just as crazy as I am and we should start up a fun crazy group together. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, just keep reading and pretend this paragraph never happened.

So, a life without meal planning and grocery shopping hasn't been working for me. When we don't have a meal plan or any groceries in the house, I do things like suggest we have Chinese food for dinner. Then, I eat the leftovers for lunch. Then, I just want to order more Chinese food; but I refrain.

Chinese food, while I love you, I don't think this is going to work long term. We have different aspirations in life. I'm sorry. I just can't see you anymore. 

Meal Plan for the Week:

Sunday - Lasagna Roll Ups
Monday - Browned Butter Gnocchi
Tuesday - Chili
Wednesday - Chicken with Veggies
Thursday - Chicken with Veggies
Friday - Calzones
Saturday - Spicy Poblano and Corn Soup

Now that I have my meal plan for our dinners this week, I am ready to go grocery shopping!

Lasagna Roll Up
My mom just texted me and offered to take me grocery shopping since she has some things to get today, as well. I think that I may be just a little too excited at her offer! I feel like I was just invited to a secret club. I remember when I was a little girl, my mom and grandma (and I am pretty sure my great grandma for a little while there) would all go grocery shopping together on the same day each week. The same day, the same group, every week. I am convinced that grocery shopping with a pal makes it more fun and less of an obligation, so I am looking forward to going grocery shopping with my mom this morning!

I think I will spend some time reading and relaxing after that, and then get started on dinner. According to my plan, I am making Lasagna Roll Ups, tonight.

What are you having for dinner, tonight?

Do you grocery shop for an entire week, two weeks or do you go shopping a few times a week/as needed?
- I try to grocery shop only once a week, on Sundays.

Do you go grocery shopping alone or with somebody else?
 - I always prefer to go with somebody else. My husband usually goes with me every week. I think I have only grocery shopped alone a handful of times.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Get Through It and Move On!

This week has been a rough week for me. I have been sick and tired, therefore I have been choosing the quickest most comforting meals for lunches and dinner this week. I am definitely going to be bringing back meal planning to my life. It's desperately needed.

Last night, I made lemon pepper chicken with a side of butter parsley pasta (my own creation; I have to get crafty when I choose not to grocery shop for a week) and green beans. My struggle with food this week may have also come from not having enough groceries in the house. So while I tried saving money, it definitely back fired on the nutrition front.


These things happen to the best of us. I am not counting on a loss on the scales this week, I am actually bracing myself for the opposite. The thing to remember in these times is that you can't give up! There will be days when you just don't feel good, motivated, etc. Get through it and move on!

And now, some very exciting things to look forward to:

Tonight, my husband and I have a date night. Tomorrow, I am meeting a few of my friends out for dinner. Sunday, I have a lunch date and will then be doing a photo session. Monday, I have the day off of work for MLK day!

My goal for the weekend is to eat as well as I can at the restaurants I will be visiting and enjoy my time with the people I am with. Then, on either Sunday or Monday, I will be grocery shopping because I am not doing a repeat of this week. I will have healthy snacks available in my house and healthy dinner plans scheduled. Next week is going to be a success!

Do you have any weekend plans that you are looking forward to?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Below Freezing

Even though I'm still battling a chest cold that has come back with a vengeance, I made an effort to take Max on the last few walks before completing the goal for my 25 by 25 list this week.

It was freezing cold (quite literally below freezing) but Max didn't seem to mind. He actually acted more excited than he usually does on our walks this week. Maybe it's because he doesn't get out as much in the winter as he does in the warmer months.

I am happy to be able to cross off another item on my 25 by 25 list! I am slowly working on the last remaining goals and will be really excited to see how much I get done before my 25th birthday next month!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Washington, D.C. - Part Two

After our morning walk through Arlington National Cemetery, my husband and I drove over to 17th and Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. We parked our car and walked the remainder of the day. I totaled the mileage and found we walked at least 7 miles that day.


We couldn't have planned a better day in January to go for a walk in Washington, D.C. It was a little foggy in the morning, but it warmed up to a decent temperature when the sun came out for the afternoon.

 

 We walked the entire length of the reflecting pool to the Lincoln Memorial.




After visiting the big landmarks, we visited a couple museums. We visited the National Archives to see the actual Constitution; the Museum of National American History, and; the Air and Space Museum. We had a blast visiting the museums; I really hope we go back some day. There is so much to see!


My husband was really excited when we visited the White House. We actually got to see (what we believe was) the president and his entourage. As we were walking down Constitution Avenue, we noticed that this very busy street was all of a sudden desolate; no traffic in sight! There were policemen everywhere, and the street was silent. A minute later, five policemen on motorcycles came flying down the street with at least four black tinted out SUV's and more police cars surrounding them. It was a really neat thing to see as a tourist. I'm sure the locals are use to that sort of thing.

Something that I don't think I'd ever get use to though are the hot dogs from the street vendors. They were amazing! I am drooling just thinking about how good those hot dogs were, right now.


If history is not your thing but you love food, there is still plenty for you to experience in D.C. "We the Pizza" for example, is reason enough to make the trip to Washington, D.C. This was honestly the best pizza I have ever had, hands down!



My husband got a slice of the BBQ Pork with onions rings on top; enough said!


After eating at "We the Pizza", we decided to look for a place to get a sweet treat. After all of the walking we did that day, we deserved it! We both got instantly excited when we realized that we were in Washington, D.C., home of the president, American history and Georgetown Cupcakes; yes, the one with their own t.v. show on TLC.


We waited in line at "D.C. Cupcakes" for 45 minutes and left there with $63 worth of cupcakes.




Out of the 2 dozen we left the store with, I have had 3 cupcakes to date with only 1 cupcake left. We gave away an entire dozen when we returned from home. Since I missed my little brother's birthday party, I made sure he got a special cupcake of his own. Whether or not they know it, these cupcakes have to be the most generous gift I have ever given. Words cannot describe how good these cupcakes are and how much I wanted to eat every last one of them!


Spontaneous trip to Washington, D.C. was a success!

Have you ever gone on a spontaneous vacation? If so, where to?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Washington, D.C. - Part One

This past weekend, my husband and I went on a spontaneous trip to Washington, D.C. And when I say spontaneous, I mean it! The idea to "get out of town" for the weekend popped in my head around 4:00 p.m. on Friday. Thanks to a quick internet search, I booked the hotel less than 15 minutes later and we were packed up, on the road by 6:00 p.m.

We stayed in a hotel in Arlington, Virginia. To my surprise, I booked a room with a balcony. The city lights at night were breathtaking!


We didn't go to sleep until about 2:30 a.m. We were excited for what the next day would bring. My husband has never been to Washington, D.C. before and I was excited to go back! We woke up early on Saturday and ate breakfast at the rooftop restaurant in the hotel.


One of the many great things about this trip was the fact that the hotel we stayed at was about 5 minutes from everything we wanted to see.


After breakfast, we went to Arlington National Cemetary to witness the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.



We walked about 2 miles throughout the cemetery, which is home to many steep hills. Walking around the cemetery was touching. I definitely had tears in my eyes a few times throughout our walk that morning.



We spent a short time visiting the Kennedy Memorial before finding out way out of the cemetery.


Spending the early morning in Arlington Cemetery made me very grateful for all of those who have served and are still serving our Country.

Have you ever visited Arlington National Cemetery?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Vegetable Garden

I know that it may be a little too early to start thinking about vegetable gardens, but with the awesome weekend we just had (temperature in the 60's) I just can't help but think of Spring!

If you like to plan ahead like me, you can find a list of the 10 Easiest Vegetables to Grow in an article by Sparkpeople.com by clicking here. My husband has already told me that he wants a lot of green beans this year; I'm glad to find those on the "easy" list!

photo from last spring

I didn't plant a large vegetable garden last year, however; two years ago, my husband and I had a large vegetable garden filled with tomatoes, green peppers, green beans, radishes, carrots and squash. Aside from the tomatoes (I just don't know what went wrong, there!) we had a very successful garden. Squash was probably my favorite vegetable to plant that year because of how much we got and how frequently we got it (not to mention, squash is one of my favorite vegetables to eat)!

Have you ever planted a vegetable garden before? What are you favorite vegetables to plant?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Goodbye, Mr. President!

We are ready to leave Arlington, Virginia. We've got a long drive home, so I will give up an update on our amazing trip to Washington, DC as soon as I can!

photo of the White House from yesterday

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hello from Arlington, Virginia!

Hello from Arlington, Virginia! Are you surprised to hear that? Yeah, we are too!

I made a spontaneous decision last night to just pack up and go! I think the decision was made via text with my husband. It went somewhere along the lines of this:

Me: I just want to get out of town! Can we go out of town for the weekend?
Husband: Let's do it!
Me: Start packing!

Minutes later, I found a hotel close to Washington, DC at a reasonable rate and booked it! I decided we could figure out the rest on our long (6 hour) drive to Arlington, Virginia!

We didn't get in to the hotel until 1:30/2:00 a.m. The city was still hustling and bustling at those wee hours of the morning! I had no idea that downtown Arlington would be so impressive! We were awestruck as we stood on our 14th story balcony at 2:00 a.m. As we looked out at all the skyscrapers and down below, I kept pointing at people saying to my husband, "...there's another person, and another! People are everywhere!" I think I was having a minor case of little-girl-in-the-big-city syndrome.

The view from our balcony at 2:00 a.m.
I can't wait to see what today will bring when we cross over the bridge and spend our entire day walking around Washington, DC. I could honestly spend the entire day exploring the block we are on in the city of Arlington. The large buildings are so impressive; I am definitely from a small town. I think my eyes are going to be wide and my mouth will be dropped many times today. I'll make sure to post a picture of such, as well.

Well, I guess it's time for me to shower so we can go to the "rooftop restaurant" for breakfast. There is literally a restaurant, on the roof top, of the hotel we are staying in. Picture me with eyes wide and my mouth dropped when I found that out at 2:00 a.m. I barely slept last night just for the anticipation of seeing that view!

Have you ever just picked up and left town for the weekend?

Have you ever gone to Washington, DC? What was your favorite part of DC?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Has Winter Got You Down About Exercise?

Has this winter got you down about outdoor exercise? You can find 7 Smart Ways to Stay Active This Winter in an article by Sparkpeople.com by clicking here!

photo from sparkpeople.com

If you've got a cold like me though, you may want to stay indoors until you are feeling better. Especially if you have any illness effecting your lungs! What started as a dry annoying cough a couple days ago has progressed slightly to constant burning in my lungs. I have been taking medicine and have been trying to hydrate often. Cough drops have been my very best friend these past couple days. I am hoping to beat this thing before the weekend is over. It is suppose to warm up today and tomorrow; which would be great for an outdoor run. I am crossing my fingers for an opportunity to run outside this weekend, but know better than to push myself too much when I am sick.

What are you plans for the weekend?
- Aside from resting to get over my cold, I have a birthday party for my little brother to attend on Saturday. He is turning 3 years old.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Peanut Butter, Pretzels and Chocolate

The free-for-all food table at work got the best of me yesterday.


All I have to say about this is: peanut butter, pretzels and chocolate. Amazing!

Lately, I have been bringing in chicken tortilla soup for lunch during my work day. As part of my 25 by 25 list, I posted the video blog recipe for that soup on YouTube last night.



Let me know if you ever give this recipe a try! If you like a spicy soup, I highly suggest adding the hot sauce. It really made it much better, in my opinion!

I think that after successfully dodging the illness that my husband has had for the past few days, I have finally caught a minor chest cold, myself.. I really wanted to go for a run last night, but didn't want to make the cold progress. So far, it is just an annoying dry cough. I am taking extra Vitamin C and hope to kick it before it gets worse!

How successful have you been at avoiding illness during this flu season?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cooking Light Magazine

I was flipping through my Cooking Light Magazine last night and found a few cool things that I wanted to share with you.

Cooking Light - January/February 2013 Edition
Cool thing # 1 - Simple 100 calorie food swaps.

Cooking Light - January/February 2013 Edition
Cool thing #2 - A new recipe that I really ought to try; browned butter gnocchi...

Cooking Light - January/February 2013 Edition
Cool thing #3 - I would like must have these portion perfect goodies...

Cooking Light - January/February 2013 Edition
I did a mid-week weight check this morning and so far I am down another pound this week (down five pounds total since the new year)! This pound was lost from eating healthy and drinking all of my water each day. I may have lost more if I would have added exercise to that list.

I have been a bit lazy with exercise this week (seeing that it is Wednesday and I haven't done any exercise since last week). I think that I may resort back to scheduling workouts for the week. I use to do much better when I had a schedule to follow. These past few nights I have been relaxing and doing things such as, reading Cooking Light Magazines. If it isn't too cold tonight, I might go for a run outside or I may revisit the gym that I haven't seen since last year.

What workouts have you been/plan on doing this week?