Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I've been talking a whole lot about home improvements, and hopefully I'll be talking some more soon! We've gotten the go ahead to take out the less than appealing, OFF CENTER window that doesn't open out of our front living room wall. The poor planning/ill building of the construction crew (circa 1940) that set up our transitioned cottage used particle board on the outer wall LAKESIDE. I'm not sure if any of you live on/near a lake or if you ever have, but you need two things. Good windows, and a solid front wall. Otherwise, you're going to end up replacing the entire front wall of your house.

waaaaaaait a minute, that's exactly what we're doing.

sheeeesh. I KNEW this knowledge was coming from somewhere! You see, particle board + wind + rain + snow storms + hurricanes = the deck fell off. OFF the front of the house. Because the front wall crumbled as the particle board came apart.

Long story short, we're going to take out the bad wood, replace the off center "icky" window with three 6' windows. ::dances:: and have the deck rebuilt. I'd like to think that we'll be ambitious and finish the painting of the living room and kitchen and put down the laminate in the living room about the time that my darling friend tears the wall out.

After all, it would be nice to only have to put the house back together ONCE...right? :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Black Bean Chili

I've been bragging.

About black bean chili. This delicious, warm concoction makes a spring in my step and a smile on my face. It sends me to a place that others say only chocolate can take them.

It's made with turkey. Surprised?

Me too. If you had told me, the meat-and-potatoes-don't-you-dare-take-away-my-beef-girl, that you were going to make turkey chili for a dinner party or barbeque, I wouldn't rsvp.

In my opinion, some recipes need beef.
(like my bolognese sauce. hubby says it's the reason he married me- that sauce doesn't work with turkey. I tried.)

I have two recipes. One skillet style and another crockpot edition. I'll post them separately for you all to enjoy.

Onto the main event!

Black Bean Chili


  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed, drained, and divided (I prefer low sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups medium salsa
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (14 oz) can fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream for topping (extra sharp cheddar is also delicious)


1. Combine 1 1/2 cups beans, 2/3 cup of the beef broth, and sugar in a food processor; process until smooth. Combine bean puree and remaining beans in a bowl.

2. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. After coating your pan with PAM, add ground turkey; cook until browned, stirring to crumble (approximately 3 minutes). Remove turkey from pan.

3. Add onion & bell peppers to pan; cook until onion is just browned (about 5 minutes). Return turkey to pan. Combine with chili powder, cumin, oregano, and crushed red pepper; stir well to coat. Stir in bean mixture, salsa, tomato paste, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If you can wait that long.

I warned you, this stuff is delicious. You'll never look at turkey chili the same way again.

I'm still tweaking the recipe to allow for a truly thick, hearty, break your spoon chili. The flavor of this one makes up for the thick-but-not-the-thickest chili I've ever had. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tex Mex Beef Tacos

Taco Night leftovers + romaine lettuce = HAPPY KAREN

This post is seriously overdue. I have all the usual excuses.

"I'm so busy!" always.
"I work two jobs!" so do a lot of people.
"our water heater exploded!" sure did! (this silly couponer was afraid of losing her stockpile!)
"we put down hardwood floors" mmhmm! in the bedrooms, and we'll be putting laminate in the living room soon.
"I have nothing to say!" Now that's just b.s.

On to the important things, like ground beef and black beans...
Hubby loves tacos, (but not the "boring" all beef kind) I love hubby, (and eating healthy) so I searched and hid a low fat taco recipe in the dinner plans for a boring Wednesday night. That was two years ago, and since his request has always been for the "special" tacos.

I personally think the secret is in the chipotle peppers. Make the extra effort to find them at your grocery store (you may have to look in the Mexican or Spanish section depending on how your store is set up).

The recipe is as follows:

Tex Mex Beef Tacos
adapted from Cooking Light
you can find the original recipe here.

1 Cup White Onion Chopped

2 medium clove (4g) Garlic

1 lb Ground Beef 85% lean meat

1 12oz can sweet yellow corn (drained)

1/4 teaspoon alt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

8 oz can Hunt's Tomato Sauce - 100% Natural

1 container (1 4/5 cups ea.) Black Beans - Canned Drained & Rinsed (50% Less Sodium)

1 container (1 4/5 cups ea.) Dark Red Kidney Beans - Drained & Rinsed

Goya - Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce, 6 Tbsp (3 or 4 peppers, chopped, relative to how hot you want it.) Proceed at your own risk, these babies are T-O-A-S-T-Y. Do not get the sauce in your eyes!

Heat large skillet (you'll need a pan with a lid!) over medium high heat. Coat with cooking spray.

Add minced garlic, chopped onion and beef to skillet. Break beef into crumbles and cook until browned. (about 6-8 minutes)

Stir in beans, salt, pepper, chiles and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce your heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Each serving is 1/2 cup of taco meat.
Nutrition: 226 calories
21g carbohydrates,
8g fat,
18g protein,
497mg sodium,
4 g sugar.

Generally, hubby eats his on whole wheat tortillas with jack cheese and lettuce.

I prefer mine piled high on romaine with fresh salsa (or 0% fat greek yogurt if I'm feeling dangerous ;) )

Since mangoes were on sale, I made mild mango salsa. (recipe to come!)

Needless to say, I was excited about lunch the next day.
True Love: 307 calories of DELICIOUS.

I hope you all enjoy these. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011


The past two weeks have been full. Two jobs as well as home improvement (photos to come!) have kept me quite busy. Now that I have some free time, I was looking over my weight loss progress since May.

It has happened to me, friends. The most dreaded word in weight loss.


You heard me. Don't make me say it again. I don't like the taste it leaves in my mouth. Let's review the numbers.

From May 12th- June 12th (Month 1) I lost 12.6 lbs.
June 12th- July 12th (Month 2) I lost 4.4 lbs.
July 12th- August 8th (almost to 3 months!) 1.4 lbs.

I can almost hear the cartoon music as Wile E. Coyote falls off the cliff.

I've been bouncing in a 5 lb range since early July. I've seen numbers lower than I've seen in distant memory, but I've got plenty left to lose! I can't help but feel disheartened. I'm going to go over what's been going on. I'm sure that my eating habits have slipped, and I haven't been out on my bike as often as I'd like. I'm sick of being stuck here, and I want to break into the next decade already! eeeeeek.

sorry for the negativity, loves. I'll be better soon :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

You're not going to be one of "THOSE" people, are you??

One of what, exactly? It's no secret, I'm a big(ger) girl and I've never been small. Age age 10, I was already 5'5". Now, at 24, I'm 5'9" and large framed. Since May of this year, I've lost 25 lbs. Eat less + move more = smaller me.

You would figure most friends and family would be celebrating, right? They know hubby and I want to have children someday, so wouldn't they be supportive of a healthier me?

I guess not. I've gotten more than one comment about what I eat (my co worker offered another friend a piece of bread in the break room because she figured I "wouldn't eat it." It was almost as if I had to remind her that I eat bread. My mother expressed concern about me exercising when she found out that I biked in the morning, walked at lunch and walked after work. (that day only, the third walk wasn't planned) "you're not going to be one of those are you?" One of what? Those healthy, fit, moms or moms-to-be? HELL YES I AM. I love weight training, feeling sweaty after a workout, and being in (better) control of what goes in my mouth.

It seems that my weight loss has an effect on everyone around me. I get plenty of "you look awesome!" "wow! you look great!" But I also get "do you eat?" "You're having cake- it must be a cheat day!" (I DON'T HAVE CHEAT DAYS. I EAT WHAT I WANT AND EXERCISEEEEE!) "Don't get too skinny, you'll look silly because you're so tall. "

Evidently she meant the skinny, gaunt, I-eat-nothing-but-egg-whites-and-ride-the-stairmaster-for-3-hours people. (I reminded her that the condition to which she's referring is MEDICAL and called A-N-O-R-E-X-I-A)

It's important to remember that everyone has their own set of problems, and currently mine include being too heavy. So therefore, I'm trying to weigh less. I have a good amount of weight to loose, and I'm doing it step by step, slow and steady, AND I EAT ALL THE TIME. I stuff my face at least 6 times A DAY.

So this is just an announcement for the masses to quit making assumptions about people who watch what they eat and exercise.

I'm done with the soapbox, feeling frustrated, and I'm moving on to this weekend much more positive. Promise.

And for the record, I eat plenty of junk. Ask my MFP pals that have seen my diary. PSSSSSH.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Feelin' HOT HOT HOT.

Seriously. I'm burnin' up over here! On the East Coast we're in the middle of day three of triple digit heat. (I'm warm just thinking about it!) Right now outside my 70 degree climate controlled office, the sun and haze is beating down on the city, smothering EVERYTHING.

Photo from

Lucky for us East Coasters, this heat dome was suffocating the Midwest for a few days before it moved it's way East. While it's scary to think of the dangers associated with heat waves, it was nice to be able to plan early AM workouts knowing that lunchtime would be unbearable. [It's over 100 right now, right outside my office. blllllleh.]
Yesterday morning I was able to get 40 minutes of running/ walking intervals in with Rocky, and this morning Mom joined me (as well as BOTH puppies!) to walk before I left for work. Even at 6:30 A.M., it was over 80 degrees at my house.

This is the heat index for the Eastern half of the country:

Photo from Washington Post Online

The news coverage of the heat wave in the Midwest continued to highlight the possibility that this current heat wave could become like the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995. During one week in July 1995, over 700 people died in Chicago. SEVEN HUNDRED. The temperature was 106 degrees, with a heat index of 126. Absolutely stifling. All this media coverage brought me back to freshman year sociology where we read "Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago" by Eric Klinenberg.
photo from

A phenomenal read, this book covers research the author conducted to determine why the week of heat in Chicago was so deadly. The most shocking things are that most of the victims died at home, and the number dead was "more than twice the number that died in the Chicago Fire of 1871, twenty times the number of those struck by Hurricane Andrew in 1992." Unbelievable.

There are weather tragedies that don't involve hurricanes and tornadoes, people!
Stay hydrated and be safe!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fact or Fiction?

In my morning emails I received a link from Eat This, Not That!, an awesome book series (and website!) started by Men's Health. Eat This, Not That! is also one of my favorite Today Show segments. The article today was 15 Biggest Nutrition Myths. While I might not agree with everything they've presented, the article was awesome for the most part. You can find the full article here, or just scroll down!

The article below was written for Men's Health. I did not write any of it. I've only appreciated the work, and decided to share with friends.


15 Biggest Nutrition Myths

From "Eat This, Not That!"

MYTH #1: High fructose corn syrup is worse than table sugar

Whether or not added sugar is bad for you has never been in dispute. The less sugar you eat, the better. But whether HFCS is worse than plain ol' table sugar has long been a contentious issue. Here’s what you need to know: Both HFCS and table sugar, or sucrose, are built with roughly a 50-50 blend of two sugars, fructose, and glucose. That means in all likelihood that your body can’t tell one from the other—they’re both just sugar. HFCS’s real sin is that it’s supercheap, and as a result, it’s added to everything from cereal to ketchup to salad dressing. Plus it may be affecting your health in ways not yet fully understood by the scientific community. Is it a good idea to minimize the HFCS in your diet? Absolutely. It’s best to cut out all unnecessary sugars. But HFCS’s role as nutritional enemy #1 has been exaggerated.

MYTH #2: Sea salt is a healthier version of regular salt

Everyday table salt comes from a mine and contains roughly 2,300 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon. Sea salt comes from evaporated seawater, and it also contains roughly 2,300 milligrams of sodium. That makes them, well, roughly identical. Advocates point to the fact that sea salt also contains other compounds like magnesium and iron, but in truth, these minerals exist in trace amounts. To obtain a meaningful dose, you’d have to take in extremely high and potentially dangerous levels of sodium. What’s more, traditional table salt is regularly fortified with iodine, which plays an important role in regulating the hormones in your body. Sea salt, on the other hand, gives you virtually zero iodine. The bottom line is this: If switching from table salt to sea salt causes you to consume even one extra granule, then you’ve just completely snuffed out whatever elusive health boon you hope to receive. Plus you’ve wasted a few bucks.

MYTH #3: Energy drinks are less harmful than soda

Energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, and Full Throttle attempt to boost your energy with a cache of B vitamins, herbal extracts, and amino acids. But what your body’s going to remember most (especially around your waistline) is the sugar in these concoctions; a 16-ounce can delivers as much as 280 calories of pure sugar, which is about 80 calories more than you’d find in a 16-ounce cup of Pepsi. What’s more, a University of Maryland study found energy drinks to be 11 percent more corrosive to your teeth than regular soda. So here’s the secret that energy drink companies don’t want you to know: The only proven, significant energy boost comes from caffeine. If you want an energy boost, save yourself the sugar spike and drink a cup of coffee.

MYTH #4: Diet soda is harmless

The obesity-research community is becoming increasingly aware that the artificial sweeteners used in diet soda—aspartame and sucralose, for instance—lead to hard-to-control food urges later in the day. One Purdue study discovered that rats took in more calories if they'd been fed artificial sweeteners prior to mealtime, and a University of Texas study found that people who consume just three diet sodas per week were more than 40 percent more likely to be obese. Try weaning yourself off by switching to carbonated water and flavoring with lemon, cucumber, and fresh herbs.

MYTH #5: Low-fat foods are better for you

As it applies to food marketing, the term “low fat” is synonymous with “loaded with salt and cheap carbohydrates.” For instance, look at Smucker’s Reduced Fat Peanut Butter. To replace the fat it skimmed out, Smucker’s added a fast-digesting carbohydrate called maltodextrin. That’s not going to help you lose weight. A 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that over a 2-year span, people on low-carb diets lost 62 percent more body weight than those trying to cut fat. (Plus, the fat in peanut butter is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat—you’d be better off eating more of it, not less!)

MYTH #6: “Trans-fat free” foods are actually trans-fat free

The FDA’s guidelines allow companies to claim 0 grams of trans fat—even broadcast it on the front of their packages—as long as the food in question contains no more than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. But here’s the deal: Due to an inextricable link to heart disease, the World Health Organization advises people to keep trans fat intake as low as possible, maxing out at about 1 gram per 2,000 calories consumed. If your cupboard’s full of foods with almost half a gram per serving, you might be blowing past that number every single day. The American Journal of Health Promotion recently published an article urging the FDA to rethink its lax regulations, but until that happens, you should avoid all foods with “partially hydrogenated oil” (meaning, trans fats) on their ingredients statements.

MYTH #7: Foods labeled “natural” are healthier

The FDA makes no serious effort to control the use of the word "natural" on nutrition labels. Case in point: 7UP boasts that it’s made with “100% Natural Flavors” when, in fact, the soda is sweetened with a decidedly un-natural dose of high fructose corn syrup. “Corn” is natural, but “high fructose corn syrup” is produced using a centrifuge and a series of chemical reactions. Other "natural" abusers include Natural Cheetos, which are made with maltodextrin and disodium phosphate, and “natural advantage” Post Raisin Bran, which bathes its raisins in both sugar and corn syrup. The worst part is, you're likely paying a premium price for common junk food.

MYTH #8: Egg yolks raise your cholesterol

Egg yolks contain dietary cholesterol; this much is true. But research has proven that dietary cholesterol has almost nothing to do with serum cholesterol, the stuff in your blood. Wake Forest University researchers reviewed more than 30 egg studies and found no link between egg consumption and heart disease, and a study in Saint Louis found that eating eggs for breakfast could decrease your calorie intake for the remainder of the day.

MYTH #9: Eating junk food helps battle stress

You’ve been there: Stressed out and sprawled across your sofa with one arm elbow deep in a bag of cheese puffs. In the moment, it can be comforting, but a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that people who consumed the most highly processed foods were 58 percent more likely to be depressed than those who ate the least. Your move: Find a healthy stress snack. Peanut butter and Triscuits do the trick, or check out the next myth …

MYTH #10: Chocolate is bad for you

Cocoa is a plant-based food replete with flavonoids that increase blood flow and release feel-good endorphins. Plus, it contains a healthy kind of saturated fat called stearic acid, which research has shown can increase your good HDL cholesterol. But here’s the rub: When most people think of chocolate, their minds jump immediately to milk chocolate, which contains far more sugar than actual cocoa. Instead, look for dark chocolate, specifically those versions that tell you exactly how much cocoa they contain. A bar with 60% cocoa is good, but the more cocoa it contains, the greater the health effects.

Myth #11: Granola is good for you

Oats are good for you, and the same goes for oatmeal. But granola takes those good-for-you hunks of flattened oat, blankets them in sugar, and bakes them in oil to give them crunch. The amount of fat and sugar added to each oat is at the discretion of food processors, but you can bet your last cup of milk it’s going to far sweeter and more fatty than a bowl of regular cereal. Take this example: A single cup of Quaker Natural Granola, Nuts & Raisins has 420 calories, 30 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of fat. Switch to a humble cup of Kix and you drop down about 90 calories, 2.5 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of fat.

MYTH #12: Bananas are the best source of potassium

Your body uses potassium to keep your nerves and muscles firing efficiently, and an adequate intake can blunt sodium’s effect on blood pressure. One 2009 study found that a 2:1 ratio of potassium to sodium could halve your risk of heart disease, and since the average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day, your goal should be 6,800 milligrams of daily potassium. You’re extremely unlikely to ever reach that mark—and never with bananas alone. One medium banana has 422 milligrams and 105 calories. Here are the sources that earn you roughly the same amount of potassium in fewer calories: * Potato, half a medium spud, 80 calories * Apricots, 5 whole fruit, 80 calories * Cantaloupe, 1 cup cubes, 55 calories * Broccoli, 1 full stalk, 50 calories * Sun-dried tomatoes, a quarter cup, 35 calories

MYTH #13: Oranges are the best source of vitamin C

Far more than a simple immune booster, vitamin C is an antioxidant that plays a host of important roles in your body. It strengthens skin by helping to build collagen, improves mood by increasing the flow of norepinephrine, and bolsters metabolic efficiency by helping transport fat cells into the body’s energy-burning mitochondria. But since your body can neither store nor create the wonder vitamin, you need to provide a constant supply. An orange is the most famous vitamin-C food, and although it’s a good source, it’s by no means the best. For 70 calories, one orange gives you about 70 micrograms of vitamin C. Here are five sources with just as much vitamin C and even fewer calories: * Papaya, ¾ cup, 50 calories * Brussel’s sprouts, 1 cup, 40 calories * Strawberries, 7 large fruit, 40 calories * Broccoli, ½ stalk, 25 calories * Red Bell Pepper, ½ medium pepper, 20 calories

MYTH #14: Organic is always better

Often, but not in every case. Organic produce is almost nutritionally identical to its conventional counterpart. The issue is pesticide exposure—pesticides have been linked to an increased risk of obesity in some studies. But many conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are very low in pesticides. Take, for example, the conventional onion: It’s got the lowest pesticide load of 45 fruits and vegetables tested by the Environmental Working Group. Also in the safe-to-eat-conventional group are avocados, sweet corn, and pineapple. In general, fruits and vegetables with impermeable skins are safe to buy conventional, while produce like celery, peaches, apples, and blueberries are better purchased organic.

MYTH #15: Meat is bad for you

Pork, beef, and lamb are among the world’s best sources of complete protein, and a Danish study found that dieting with 25 percent of calories from protein can help you lose twice as much weight as dieting with 12 percent protein. Then there’s vitamin B12, which is prevalent only in animal-based foods. B12 is essential to your body’s ability to decode DNA and build red blood cells, and British researchers found that adequate intakes protect against age-related brain shrinkage. Now, if you’re worried that meat will increase your risk for heart disease, don’t be. A Harvard review last year looked at 20 studies and found that meat’s link to heart disease exists only with processed meats like bacon, sausage, and deli cuts. Unprocessed meats, those that hadn’t been smoked, cured, or chemically preserved, presented absolutely zero risk.

Monday, July 18, 2011


This past weekend was hubby's one-weekend-off-per-month, and to increase the time we actually spend together, I took Saturday and Sunday off from the restaurant. Two entire, unadulterated days of nothing...sort of.

Saturday, Rocky & I did 3 miles on the bike trail behind our house. It wasn't my best time so far (44 min) but pup was happy, regardless.
Later, I went grocery/new clothes shopping with Mom while hubby & my visiting father in law went for a 10 mile bike ride. You read that right. First, the boys visited WHILE EXERCISING. So proud of them!!! Second, I voluntarily went clothes shopping. My mother, in her infinite wisdom, decided that my "old faithful" jeans I've been sporting since...FOREVER, were hideous. (Hubby agreed, and here's photographic proof)
Unless I belt them where they belong, they're, well...hanging off me. I have to butts in these pants. My own, and the space for the extra one I used to have. Long story short, I'm down TWO jeans sizes, and my extra long "Sweetheart" jeans from Old Navy suit me just fine! We had a lot of fun browsing the clearance.
We had steaks on the grill at Mom's, with fresh asparagus and romaine salads, so gorgeous that I would love to share a photo, but... I ate it before I thought of that. :) I'll get better at this blogging business, I swear!
To add even more to a full day, after dinner hubby, two friends and my father in law set out for night golf, while said friends wife & I had girl time. (Frozen yogurt! YUM!)
Once I actually have a golf game, I'd love to go on one of these night outings. Sports + glow sticks?! I'm in. I've been told I have great form, I just need more patience. Patience? Who me?!? At the end, (midnight!!) one friend spent the night, my father in law had a great time, and both hubby & myself were spent. Bedtime!

Thankfully, Sunday was much more low key. We headed out to the boat after a late breakfast so hubby and our buddy who spent the night could fish. I was happy just to be on the water and curled up with a great read, Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult. It was nice to enjoy the gorgeous weather. When Bob (our house guest) needed to head home, I took Mackenzie out for some exercise. Just after we started on the bike trail, a bicyclist stopped me and asked if our dogs could hang out. For most dog owners, this "puppy play date" exchange may be normal, especially when you exercise on a dog friendly bike trail like we do, but she has a MINIATURE BULL TERRIER. We're talking about a pint size (27lb) version of my baby girl, Mackenzie. My little lady doesn't like running, evidently, and we only did 2.5 miles, but we made a new friend!

Just for comparison sake, this photo shows a standard bully on the left (like my pups) and a mini on the right.image from
I can't wait to meet our new friend Moon. It will be so exciting to expand our gaggle of bull terriers to 4 (our 2 pups plus our friends' 1 pup).
This is a photo from Thanksgiving weekend of my two babies (Rocky in the foreground, with his white side kick Mackenzie, and our furniece Lexi cuddled up in Rocky's crate.)After our run, Mackenzie and I joined Rocky & hubby on the boat for some quiet "family" R&R.
Lucky for us we have a great navigator!
I had an awesome weekend. I made some awesome choices (like two runs, and frozen yogurt @ our favorite ice cream shop).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Old & Married

Alright, so 24 and 1 year of marriage is not quite old & married. But since we have been together since Nov 2004, we're just as likely to fall into routines as the next "old & married" couple.

Wednesday night I came home just before 11pm and found this:Who has the sweetest hubby!?!?! I guess he noticed that I was pretty downtrodden from working two jobs (21+ days without a day off, people!) and set up these sweet flowers for me in the kitchen. With an equally adorable card that featured two frogs: on the front it said: "I'll love you..." and on the inside? : "Til I CROAK."

It's little moments like this that make my heart smile :) I am so lucky, so blessed and in loveeeeeeeeee.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


The past few days have been pretty good days! Between both jobs, I saw Bad Teacher which was hilarious, had dinner at On the Border (HELLO GORGEOUS GUACAMOLE THAT THEY MAKE IN FRONT OF YOU!!!) which I had totally planned for calorie-wise :) Best of all, it was an awesome triple date with my friends and their respective fellas!

Lately I've had some frustration in my daily life, and while I cannot pin point the exact cause of said frustration, it has been AMAZING for my exercise habits. Saturday I took my bull terrier pup, Mackenzie, for a modified C25K workout to test out my new heart rate monitor. While she wasn't pleased with the last .5 mile, we completed 2.5 miles in 42 minutes (breaks for pup included :oP) I averaged the calories burned from my gps cardio application with the read from my new Polar FT40 and came out with an awesome 400+ calorie workout. Today my frustration peaked and during my lunch break I ran further and faster than I have ever run before. 3.4 miles in 41 minutes. For someone who has never been a runner, a 12:00 mile feels so goooood! The best part is I'm so much less frustrated than when I left for lunch! :)

To top off my now glowing mood, I returned from lunch and logged into Myfitnesspal (super awesome site I use to track calories!) and someone on my friends list posted this topic:

Big Girls Doing Big Things

Are you a girl with a lot to lose?
Do you get up every day looking forward to working out HARD?
Are you dreaming of a goal, or are you making it happen???
You won’t find us chitchatting at curves or leisurely moving at water aerobics. You will see us jogging, lifting weights, sweating it out at kickboxing, keeping up with the masses.

If you can answer YES! To the above, then I’m looking for you!

Are you a big girl doing big things?

!! Yes I am!! I felt like someone sitting home watching an infomercial. yes, yes Y-E-S! A big thank you to Katie for giving me a pure "feel good" moment this afternoon. You can find Katie's blog about her journey to lose half of her body weight here.

Super awesome day. Super awesome workout. Just what I needed to get amped up before my shift tonight at my waitress job! :o)


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Goofy Goofy!

I'm 96% certain I'm going to run a marathon. (and a half.) in two days. in January.
The old me is rolling around in her grave. I'm definitely considering running the Goofy Marathon and Half Sponsored by Walt Disney World.

A little back story, please!
I hate to run. Well, I used to hate it. Now I actually like it. I'm slowly but surely shaving my time down on my 2 mile runs I take at lunch.

Why Disney? My little sister is doing an internship for her bachelor's at Johnson & Wales at WDW from this June-January 2012. She loves everything Disney, and I obviously love her, so I'm thinking I need a fitness goal...
and the rest is history. I didn't sign up yet (mostly because it's $350 to enter...) but I'm making a serious consideration :o)

Friday, July 1, 2011


Happy Friday! Last day of work before a three day weekend. I've managed to get the time off for all three days from both jobs. More importantly, I've hit an important milestone in my gotta-get-healthy journey. I weigh less than I've weighed in a decade. A DECADE.

50 short days of focus and commitment have obliterated 18 pounds of me.

I FEEL AWESOME. Not only is the extra exercise boosting my mood, my loose clothes are making me smile. I feel awesome about this weekend, awesome about my weight loss, awesome to be alive. I feel strong, happy and independent.

How perfect that I feel independence from all the things that have held me back on the eve of Independence Day. :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I think I might be crazy.

I've managed to keep my 40 hour per week job as a lab tech, complete two master's classes Spring semester (HELLO 4.0!), while picking up shifts at my college waitress job.

Yep. I'm definitely crazy. Add to this the possibility of some major life changes for hubby and I...and well, I'm overwhelmed. Pure and simple. I have plenty of goals, hopes and dreams, and I refuse to give up. :o) I found a great verse/poem today that made me smile, and I just have to share!now, would you believe that's the mission (manifesto) for a company that first began manufacturing tee shirts? Hello dream job! either way, since finding this quote, I'm taking a good hard look at myself (and products by Holstee!)

updates to come.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Birthday Boy

Happy Birthday to our gorgeous baby boy. :)
Meet Rocky, the English Bull Terrier
Today my furbaby is 3 years old. In honor of his loyalty and unconditional love, I just have to share some of my favorite photos of him. :)

The night we brought him home...8 weeks old
9 weeks old...

Enjoying our favorite dog park...
Enjoying his pup friendly birthday cake for his 1st birthday...Helping mom decorate the last Christmas :)
That little white sidekick is Mackenzie, our 1 year old little girl.Cheers, baby. Momma loves you. :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

If you're lucky enough to be Irish, you're lucky enough!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
This beloved memorial to St. Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland, has been drowned in green beer.
Mostly by people who would like to be Irish.
I'm Irish. And I'm not angry.
I enjoy my heritage and the great stories it has afforded me- I enjoy shamrocks, wearing green, and most of all, I make a mean corned beef.This year I took corned beef to a whole new Irish level.

I cracked open two 14.9 oz Guinness at 7am. BOOYAH.
Then I promptly rubbed my 4 lb brisket down with 1 cup of brown sugar, set it in the crockpot, and poured both of my beers over it. I added 2 cups of water. Then I set it on HIGH for 6 hours.
Set it and forget it.
After six hours, I added 2 pounds halved russet potatoes, 6 peeled carrots, and half a head of cabbage. After 2 hours on low, the potatoes weren't quite finished, so I boiled them on the stovetop in the liquid from the crockpot.

and then? FEAST. Dad was working so Mom joined Josh and I.
All I can say is YAY. The corned beef came out fantastic. Another successful low key evening at home.

To simplify, the recipe is as follows:

Extra Irish Corned Beef
1 4lb beef brisket
30 oz Guinness Draught
2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
2 lbs potatoes
6 peeled carrots, cut in chunks
1/2 head of cabbage

Rub brisket with 1 cup brown sugar. Place the brisket in a crock-pot pour 30 oz of Guinness over the brisket, followed by two cups of water.
Cook on high for 6 hours.
Add potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. Cook on low until the potatoes are cooked through.

and of course...enjoy!

I'll finish with one of my favorite Irish blessings:
"May your home always be too small to hold all your friends. "

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chicken Tamale Casserole

I love to cook. I love to eat. I love to try new recipes. Lucky for me my husband is receptive to trying something at least once. To appreciate my husband's love of casseroles as well as my interest in eating healthy, I looked up Mexican (hubby's favorite) and came across this recipe. It's quick, SO simple, satisfying and so much easier than homemade tamales.
Now it's a household favorite :o)

Chicken Tamale Casserole
from Cooking Light

Yield: 8 servings


  • 1 cup (4 ounces) pre shredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided (or any shredded cheese we may have...monterey jack, cheddar...both...)
  • 1/3 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Martha White)
  • 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (we often use homemade enchilada sauce)
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream


1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

3. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set.

Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese.

Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 354 (36% from fat)
Fat: 14.1g (sat 7.1g,mono 3.3g,poly 1.2g)
Protein: 18.9g
Carbohydrate: 36.3g
Fiber: 2.5g
Cholesterol: 58mg
Iron: 1.7mg
Sodium: 620mg
Calcium: 179mg

For Karly

In August, we celebrated my dear friend Karly's bridal shower. Newly married, it was SO EXCITING for me :o) I wanted to give her a special gift. I love making jewelry, all girls love pretty jewelry... it seemed like a natural fit :) Here's the finished product!

Swarovski crystals + sterling findings + freshwater pearls = something blue! I made the links, strands and hooks all from sterling silver wire with a pair of rounded edge pliers.All of my tedious time squinting at tiny intricate patterns was SO WORTH IT. Once my bracelet was finished, Mom couldn't resist trying it on. I was happy to oblige.
Once we were done goofing around, it was time to get down to serious bridal shower business. I love parties. I love wedding parties. Bridal shower? WIN-WIN. Since Karly and Sean's registry included lots of practical necessities (LOVE IT) the three of us (my sister Crystal, my mom & I) decided to make baskets. This way, we incorporated unmentionables (such as a very necessary plunger) into adorable final product! Karly was extra excited when she showed up (probably because it was a SURPRISE!!!!) and I was sincerely touched when she thanked me for her gift. She was BEAMING. So adorable. So ready to get married. YAY. I had to include this photo of Karly. Her bridesmaid, Jen, deserves an award for the incredible ribbon bouquet she made. That darling turned a paper plate and some ribbon into a masterpiece. See?

Cookie sheets, a shower curtain and a plunger? What more could a girl ask for? All in all, it was an amazing day.