Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Favorites

So...where is this year going?

Because in just SIX SHORT DAYS Hubs and I will celebrate our FIRST wedding anniversary!

If all goes well, next week we'll be spending some time in the Folly Beach-Charleston, South Carolina area, where we spent our honeymoon last year.


Kayakin' at Sunset in Folly!


But not before we make a PIT STOP at my parents' house to eat the top layer of our WEDDING CAKE!



Cake + Beach. I shall be a happy gal indeed :)

I may or may not eat the entire thing. But we'll see.

I mean, why else would I do this crazy boot camp thing AMIRIGHT????


***

Moving on! Here are a few favorites from the past week:


ONE. To get us a little more pumped up with our St. Jude half marathon training, my friend Lauren sent me this article: The DOs and DO NOTs of Running Your First Marathon from TheOatmeal blog. So funny - even if you're not a runner.

Source: The Oatmeal


TWO. We visited my parents' house this week so I could take my wedding dress and veil to be heirloomed (preserved), and WOW was it hard to leave it at the bridal shop. I may or may not have felt a few tears in my eyes when we walked away from the store. BUT! It was nothing my mom's homemade apple pie couldn't remedy!


Sub-par picture, yet a wonderful, homemade taste :)


THREE. While we were out, Hubs and I grabbed some lunch at La Madeliene - a fun little cafe right across the street from the shop. A group of us ate there the day we found my wedding dress, so it's pretty special to me. Not to mention the food is incredible and they have the BEST tomato bisque on this earth. SO GOOD.







FOUR. "10 Things I've Learned in My Career" by Joanna Goddard on her blog. Very encouraging for those of us who are still just kind of...trying to figure out life.


FIVE. This is post #99 on my little bloggerdoodle. Which means post #100 HAS to be something special, right? I'm currently in brainstorm mode...merherherrrrr.


Happy Monday, folks!

Friday, September 19, 2014

BENterest

Y'all.

My husband has discovered my Pinterest account.

Not in the sense that I was hiding it from him. I mean in the sense that he never really paid much attention to all of the hype about Pinterest - it was just a thing.
Until yesterday.

Boy oh boy --- what can of worms have we opened here?

After our workout yesterday morning, Hubs happened to pick up our iPad and - for some reason - was drawn to the little "P" that is the Pinterest app (like a fly to a zapper!!!!). I have no idea how this happened or what provoked this action, as I was a little busy trying to de-grass and de-stinkify myself from the morning. AKA ASTROTURF.

{One of these days I might muster up the courage to take a post-workout photo to illustrate just how hard core we look, what with our scratches and bruises and sore muscles covered in fake grass and sweat.}

{{Actually, that's pretty gross. So maybe I'll show you my dirty floor mats instead.}}

But as I was slowly drifting off into a pre-work nap (<- YES), I was startled by these words coming out of his mouth:

"So I found this recipe on Pinterest...."

AWAKE.

What?

I'm not sure if I've ever heard a guy say that before. Not that guys can't enjoy Pinterest - I KNOW everyone can get hooked on enjoy Pinterest and there is likely something there for everyone. It just caught me WAY off guard that my husband - a huntin', fishin', social media hatin' country boy - even looked at Pinterest...even for a short amount of time!

But then again, he also loves food. And Pinterest is cluttered with pictures of food. And hence, recipes.

I was kinda busy yelling "WHAAAAATTTTTTT" to even hear what kind of recipe he found.

Sorry, honey. I couldn't hear you over my exasperation.

But then he repeated it, and then listed a few other recipes he found, and then I laughed.

After which I realized I would need to hit the grocery store at some point that day because we now had a new plan for supper that night. And a Pinterest board dedicated to Ben's favorite foods.

I have no idea how to feel about this.


Photo credit/PLEASE READ:




Photo credit/PLEASE READ:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Quick & Easy Weeknight Meal: Steak Tacos

Hola peoples!

Something WONDERFUL happened down South this weekend.



We had a nice little cool snap and it FINALLY felt like fall!

Actually, it felt like Christmas to me, but maybe that's just me.

I was pumped. A chilly start to the morning meant a FANTASTIC run on Saturday.





We originally only planned on a four-mile run, but the weather gave me so much energy that I couldn't stop and cranked out another mile. It felt FANTASTIC and I could have stayed outside all day. So serious.

All the Fall fans say HEYYYYYYYY!!!!!

We're a little more than 15 weeks out from our St. Jude race, so we're moving slowly but surely forward with our training. It really helps that we've found a nice running group for Saturday mornings - we keep each other accountable AND entertained :p

Despite some way, way, waaaaayyy too early mornings during the week, it feels like we are finally settling into a nice routine lately - and I, for one, couldn't be more thankful! I actually really look forward to getting up early on Saturdays to head out for a run, and BONUS because we're usually done with most of our errands by noon. Free day = SCORE.

Most of the week's dinners end up being quick "go-to" recipes (in hopes of being asleep before/by 9pm!), but I have been able to experiment a little here and there. One such experiment happened last week:



...and it was DELIGHTFUL.

I originally bought these Simple Truth Fajita Strips to use in a batch of stir-fry, but changed my mind one evening when I couldn't stop thinking about guacamole.




Sooooooo steak tacos it was!

I don't know if I've ever tried these fajita strips before last week, but for the next 10 or so weeks they JUST MIGHT be a staple in my fridge! Everything came together in LITERALLY about 10 minutes. If that. Our bellies were fed, our tastebuds satisfied, and we were relaxing on the couch before 7:30 that night.

We had no idea what to do with ourselves. I mean, free time? Really? Is that even a thing anymore on a weeknight?




I sprinkled only a little seasoning* with some fresh cilantro on top (A MUST), then wrapped everything in corn tortillas since they are a bit lighter, but these tacos would be just as great with whole wheat or full-fledged flour torts. And I DEFINITELY recommend making the guac alongside of this - there's just something about fresh guacamole that makes tacos taste even more incredible.





TACOS FOR LIFE.





Quick & Easy Steak Tacos

Serves 2


What you'll need:
1 package of Simple Truth Sliced Fajita Strips (fully cooked)
4 corn tortillas
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of one lime
chopped cilantro, to taste
dash of cayenne pepper*
dash of onion powder*
dash of chili powder*
dash of cumin*
salt/pepper to taste
suggested toppings: mozzerella cheese, chopped tomatoes, fresh guacamole, hot sauce

What you'll do:
Heat oil on medium heat until hot, then stir in fajita strips and season with powders, peppers, and lime juice. Stir to coat, then turn heat down. Serve hot on warm tortillas with preferred toppings.


*I use these ingredients together frequently, so I keep them mixed in a small jar for easy access :)




Note: As part of our team's participation in the upcoming St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis, we're aiming to raise a few dollars for the organization as well. Every dollar that we raise will go toward helping families whose children are being treated at St. Jude Children's Hospital, so that their focus can be on getting their child well again - and not on expense. If you're interested in contributing to our little pot, check out my page and read more about it!



Thursday, September 11, 2014

For Thursday

Anybody need a little pick-me-up to help us launch into Friday?

Try these on for size :)


one. Puppies. Need I say more?





Photo cred: Google search



two. THIS ARTICLE about Instagram food. Love it.

three. Robin Sparkles. Eeeeverryybody come and plaaaayy...Throw eeeevery last care awaaayyyy.....




four.  Today. #Thankful



five. "The Party" - a HILARIOUS post by the Hyperbole and a Half blog. I was crying from laughing while reading this.

Photo cred: Hyperbole and a Half


Feeling better?

Let's rock on into Friday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

This is me today:



My arms are sore to the point I can FEEL it when I walk and, ergo, swing my arms!

I understand you, Raquel Welch....I understand you. Do not be ashamed!

Today's workout kicked my hiney. No joke. More sprints, more 45-pound bar in the weight room - YIKES! (no complaints, I love it!) But regardless, it felt GREAT (later. MUCH later) and it feels even greater knowing that after tomorrow's session, we're done until Monday! Whoop whoop!!!!

However, right about now all I REALLY want to do is curl up in bed with a book, some music, and THESE wonderful mashed potatoes.




The photo does no justice, you HAVE to believe me on this.

Since starting this new (read: intense) workout program, my appetite has been a little whack. It usually happens when I have to adjust to a new change in routine. Chicken sounds dry, veggies make me cringe, bread scares me, etc. (I'm weird) And while I do get hungry, nothing ever sounds appetizing.

Except for cake. Always cake.

HOWEVER, after getting home later than usual on Monday evening, ALL I could think about was warm mashed potatoes fresh off of the stove.

Even though we've been eating on the lighter side, we figured it would be okay to splurge on some 'taters as long as we racked up on veggies, too. So we paired it with some (unpictured) steamed zucchini squash and lean grilled chicken and all was right and happy with the world again.



My belly was all "OMG WHAT?????!!!" and begged for more. But I had to resist (a little)!

It's such a simple recipe that it seems silly to post, but it's always a hit with us as well as our families. It may take a bit of grunt work on the prep side, but it's totally worth it for smooth, creamy, perfectly mashed potatoes. Enjoy! :)



Homemade Mashed Potatoes

Serves 2-4


What you'll need:
3 medium to large potatoes
2 tbsp milk (more if you want them smoother and less chunky)
1-2 tbsp cream cheese
2-3 tbsp butter (more if you like the flavor)
1/2 pack of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning
dash of salt
dash of pepper
dash of Tony's and oregano (optional)

What you'll do:
Peel and chop potatoes into small to medium chunks, then boil until soft (roughly 15 minutes). Drain potatoes and let them cool slightly. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients to taste. Smash mixture with a fork or potato smasher to desired consistency.

Ideas for other mix-ins: sour cream, bacon bits, green onions, Italian seasoning, shredded cheese (I vote  CHEDDAR) :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Excitement!

Before we proceed with today's oh-so-exciting post, can we just PAUSE for a moment and relish in the fact THERE IS ANOTHER ROYAL BABY COMING?????????


Oh Georgie.

Oh Wills.

Oh KATE and your gorgeous hair and clothes!!!!

I am ever so PUMPED.

Let the media frenzy commence!

***

Moving on! Random fact: I'm sore in places I didn't even realize had muscles.

I'm talkin' BOOT CAMP, yo.

It's crazy. This is my third time doing this program (over the course of three years #newbie) and I'm STILL learning new exercises. Today we had to sit on the floor of the weight room, do an overhand grip of the benchpress bar thingy (I'm SO technical ;) ) and PULL OURSELVES UP OFF OF THE FLOOR while keeping our feet on the ground and our bodies in a straight line.



It's a simple move, basically, but an INCREDIBLY hard one for sure!

((How I feel 4 days a week!!!! :D )

Oh, and can we briefly talk about how I have roughly about ZERO percent upper body strength? It's actually QUITE hilarious. Yesterday we were bench-pressing like BOSSES (<- read: normal folks) and when it's my turn...well...it just didn't work.

I tried. I really did. With all of my might, I tell you!

Sure, I could go about halfway up on each rep, but any higher than that and my left arm decided it pretty much was done and REFUSED to move any higher! My right arm, though, it was a beast. So I can tell you I looked PRETTY SPIFFY doing a nice crooked, diagonal, shaky bench press rep.

Or twenty.

At least it worked SOME sort of muscle though, right? Now, it could have been my imagination (<- even though it NEVER EVER is) (EVER) (<- HA!) - but I may or may not have seen the coach give me one of those "Seriously?" looks when he walked by.



Can't exactly say that I blame him, though. I was pretty much thinking the same exact thing while I was on the bench. I laughed a few hours later when I could finally breathe again! :)

No, I am not strong. But that's why I'm doing this! To get better!

And hey - it's all about improvement, right?!



Question:
What is something you'd like to improve on?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Run for the Omelettes!

So I did something crazy last week. So crazy that I'm actually wondering WHAT could have POSSIBLY even began to tempt me into it, but not crazy enough that I'm regretting it...yet.

...although my quads and glutes may give you a COMPLETELY different impression.

...as well as the way I'm walking at the moment.


Mer her.



You might remember my mentioning a certain pulled muscle in my back early last week. Well, a few days later I somehow convinced myself it was COMPLETELY better and decided to sign up for a 12-week 5 a.m. fitness bootcamp that began on MONDAY. That's right. Labor Day.

For TWELVE WEEKS.

Brilliant, am I right?

We're three days in and I am FEELING IT.

In all honesty, though, being sore is a fantastic feeling. I've done this program twice before since moving here, and although it's no doubt one of the hardest things physically (and at times mentally) I've ever done, I KNOW it's worth it. It already is!


But let's back up a bit, shall we?


After my parents' visit on Friday, we suddenly remembered around, say, 11:30 or so that night that we were meeting our St. Jude Half Marathon team for a 6 a.m. run on Saturday. WHOOPS.

So, going on about 4-ish hours of sleep, we pushed ourselves through a very hilly, very HUMID morning run. We all struggled - and definitely had to walk a few times - but we felt so great afterwards!

...Plus we knew that The Broken Egg was waiting for us soon afterward!






Whoop whoop!

#RunForTheOmelettes!

I ate on the lighter side and chose a dish filled with fruit, quinoa, granola, toasted coconut, and a sweet cream drizzle. YUM.



However --- I was only slightly jealous of the Mister's choice, which was an omelette that had all sorts of wonder within: crab meat, crawfish, spice, and some kind of something that tasted even better than hollandaise sauce!




I may or may not have stolen politely requested a bite or two :)


I'm pretty much obsessed with loving this new tradition of ours.


By the end of the day, the hilly run started to kick in as our glutes and quads started getting sore - but it was NOTHING compared to what was waiting for us on Monday morning!


NOTHING!





Our alarms went off at 4:05 on Monday morning (Labor Day WHOOP!) and we were at our training by 4:45. The weigh-ins, push-ups, sprints, jumping jacks, and yelling started at exactly 5 a.m., when we were reminded that this was a completely no-nonsense training, and that we would be in the best shape yet if we cooperated, and there were no questions, no arguing, and no walking.


"RUN, don't walk!" they said.


Have I mentioned that our coach is a former SEC-standout -SLASH- NFL player?

That he's approximately the size of Goliath?

That his arms are bigger than my legs?

Or that his mere presence makes you tremble in your running shoes?


It's...a tad scary, I won't lie. But it is the biggest adrenaline rush and the hardest challenge that somehow winds up being pretty enjoyable.

Well, maybe afterward. But by 6 a.m., I'm a fantastically happy person!!!! 

But that very well could be the endorphins :)

Funny enough, I am still walking like an old lady. Thanks to our Labor Day shenanigans, I spent a nice chunk of the holiday (post-workout) recouping in our recliner with a book and a heating pad to mend my sore little back (thankfully, there's no serious pain, just soreness from the exercise :) ).

...because Tuesday was Leg Day at boot camp (YAY SQUATS!)

...and today was what I'll call HIIT day (YAY SPRINTS!).

So if you need me at any point over the next 12 (now almost 11!) weeks, I'll probably be curled up in the fetal position on a football field, covered in morning dew, sweat, and shreds of artificial grass...and being screamed at by a giant.

Gross is the new skinny.




Question:

What's the wildest thing you've ever been convinced or challenged yourself to do?



P.S. Have you ever done a bear crawl? My hips hurt. And pretty much everything else does, too. Even my fingers.

No complaints! :)