10 Things I Learned in 2012

Happy New Year’s Eve! Did everyone have a good weekend?! Mine ended with a Vikings’ football win. As much as I’ve neglected to watch them all season, I really get into the games especially at the end and if they’re doing well. Yes, I’m a fair weather fan. I’ll admit.

I guess I can rewind backwards from Sunday to Saturday since I started with Sunday night football. Sunday was pretty quiet. We ran our errands and seriously hit up the Target after Christmas clearance aisles. Dana’s already talking about putting the Christmas lights back up next year. 10 1/2 months to go!

target

We cleaned the house just to tidy it up again and then I headed over to mom and dad’s to watch the game and hang out. I stayed until the 3rd quarter or so then finished the game at my house with Dana and his dad. It was a nail-biter!

Saturday

We were feeling ambitious on Saturday. We started off by suitin’ up for a 3 mile outdoor run. This time the thermometer read 13 but said it felt like 3°F. My legs really don’t react well to this cold weather and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the tiniest bit nervous about it, but like I said, I need to remind myself….

It doesn’t matter how fast I go, just go. Just finish.

It’s as simple as that. I would really like to enjoy myself too! 🙂

After our run we start tackling our winter project list which included repainting our living room and creating another accent wall with some leftover paint we had from this wall. Over the past two years it got really nicked up from Moose’s toys and bags rubbing against it, etc., and needed a refresher.

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I know it doesn’t look like much but it FEELS SOOO GOOD. You can sort of tell that the wall with the clock is a cocoa color. It makes the room look larger and more homey. I love it. After our 3 hour paint job, we showered up and got ready for dinner out…

At Roasted Pear. We had bought a Living Social deal for $20 to get $40 worth of food or drink and decided it was the perfect night to use it.

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melanie roasted pear

My dinner order was very non-Melanie-like. I ordered the petite filet with french fries. The chance of me ordering a steak is like 1 in 100 coupled with the choice of french fries over a healthier option….very rare. They both sounded good to me though, and I though what the heck?!

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And I didn’t regret my decision. It was very good! We finished off our night out with a shared hot fudge sundae with a cherry on top.

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And then went home to our pooch who was waiting to dance with his mama. 😉 Not really, but he was a good sport!

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Since it is the last day of 2012 I wanted to put together some type of recap from the past year. I decided to make a top 10 list of things I have learned in 2012. It can be blog related, life, health, whatever. I just thought it would be fun. So here it goes…

2012

So maybe I didn’t learn all of these things this past year, but I was definitely reminded of the importance of each and every one of those statements. I am so looking forward to a very happy, healthy and “lucky” 2013.

I will be kicking my 2013 off with a 10K run; what better way to start it off! Happy New Year my beautiful friends! I love you all and cannot thank you enough for supporting me and accepting me for who I am.

Question of the day: What is something you learned in 2012?

Hibachi and Feeling Festive

Merry Christmas Eve Eve! How is everyone’s weekend shaping up?

So, yesterday morning Dana and I geared up for our 6.5 mile run as part of our 10K training plan. Let’s just say my body didn’t quite understand what it was supposed to do with the 9°F weather. Clothing-wise I felt I dressed perfectly, but my muscles and actual body functions weren’t quite up to speed.

My running strides had to be so concise and almost “tight” because of the ice and snow on the sidewalks, and my legs literally felt like bricks moving up the hills. My lungs felt like they had never run before either. It was not the prettiest or most comfortable run for me at all, BUT we did finish and it was great prep for our actual 10K on January 1st.

I ate a big bite of peanut butter post-race to refuel for a short bit while we ran a couple of errands, then it was home for lunch:

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In the evening we met up with our dear friends Kate and Luke for a Hibachi dinner at Mount Fuji. They are home from Atlanta for the holidays and I was SO excited to see them!

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Dinner was very tasty and we were thoroughly entertained!

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I LOOOOVEEE this picture below!

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After dinner we met up with some friends and my brother Jeff (!) and had relaxing and festive evening with them.

Now I am off to cut coupons, go grocery shopping (it’s going to be madness at the store), and get ready for a family Christmas party!

I hope you all are having a wonderful day! Catch up with you later gators!

 

Quick Veggie Packed Meals

Today begins the official start of my Christmas vacation and I’m thrilled of course. How could I not be? I have my whole immediate family coming in to town. That in itself is the best Christmas present on earth. I am so anxious to see everyone and to celebrate this very special holiday with the ones I love so dear.

A look ahead:

  • Tonight: Holiday party with friends
  • Tomorrow: Christmas party with family
  • Monday: Wrapping gifts at a local hospital and then heading to my parent’s house for gifts, dinner, and 10 pm church service.
  • Tuesday: A Christmas run in the morning followed by celebrating Christmas at Dana’s parent’s house

There is so much fun to be had and so much celebrating to be done and I.CAN’T.WAIT.

With all of the celebrating and festivities, I find it challenging (to say the least), to stay on top of my 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies a day. I decided it might be a good idea to put together a little recipe round-up of some quick and veggie-loaded meals to help keep me motivated throughout these next few days.

  1. Pear Salad: mixed dark greens, pears, walnuts, dried cranberries, feta cheese, turkey bacon with poppy-seed dressing

pear salad

2. Sweet and Creamy Salad

sweet and creamy salad

3. Veggie packed scrambled eggs or omelets

eggs with spinach

4. Sautéed onions and bell peppers with corn, black beans, tomato, and an over-easy egg

egg

5. Cook yourself up a Morningstar Veggie Patty and top it on a big ol’ pile of greens.

morningstar

6. Kitchen sink hash

hash

7. BBQ pulled chicken on top of a big salad

pulled chicken

I find it easiest to get a big serving of veggies in when I make a salad which is why most of the meals I just showed you involve just that. Besides getting an incredible amount of the nutritionally dense veggies, salads are just SO quick which is always a plus if you ask me.

Throughout this holiday season I will do my best to hold true to my fruit and veggie intentions: 5-9 servings a day. Who’s with me?

Alright, I’ve had my morning cup of coffee and my pre-run breakfast, now it’s time to gear up for a frigid 6.5 mile run outside with the hubby. The official temperature outside right now is………9ºF. This will be perfect prep for the actual run on January 1st because the weather will most likely be similar to today’s. This will be fun. Unfortunately we will have to leave the pooch at home. He has an ear infection and it was advised he chill out for a few days.

Moose

Off I go! Have an incredible day. Enjoy the season however you chose to celebrate. May your days be merry and bright.

Love,

M

It’s Peanut Butter Giveaway Time! {GIVEAWAY CLOSED}

Hi friends! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Mine was very low-key and pretty darn fabulous. I have an amazing giveaway to announce, but I would still like to catch you up from the weekend so…..

The last time I left you was Friday morning, so I’ll take off from there.

Friday

I had a few appointments, one being a hair appointment. It was time to brighten up the golden locks. The last time I had my hair highlighted was in February, and it was starting to look dull, so I figured it was about time. It’s amazing what a simple change to your hair can do for your spirit. 🙂

Before and after:

Melanie hair

melanie hair

                                                                          You know what else helps lift my spirits? A box of pita chips from Wild Harvest delivered right to my door. They have recently come out with natural pita chips and sent me a few samples to try! They sent sea salt, parmesan garlic, and cinnamon sugar flavors. The sea salt ones were opened this weekend and I am VERY happy with them. They have a slight buttery taste to them and just the perfect amount of saltiness. I’m excited to try the other flavors.

Wild Harvest Pita Chips

I only had a few minutes for lunch but managed to whip up a tasty plate of shredded chicken with avocado, feta cheese, and pepper.

chicken avocado feta cheese

Dinner was protein-packed and simple: a Morningstar Garden Veggie patty with a runny egg on top.
morningstar with an egg

After dinner, Dana and I hopped into our warm car and made our way around town looking at Christmas lights. It’s a tradition we started last year which includes a trip to Dairy Queen and gawking at lights like little kids. I LOVE IT!

Christmas lights

Saturday

It was raining and 35° on Saturday morning, so our plans to run outside were deviated. We headed to the gym and ran out 5.5 miles on the treadmill. It was miserable to be perfectly honest. The boredom factor was at an all-time high, BUT we made it through.

My pre-run breakfast of banana with Parkers Farm peanut butter, cinnamon and honey…

parkers farm pb and banana

The afternoon was spent deep cleaning our house. Dusting, mopping, windexing, shining up the stainless steel appliances, catching up with the laundry, washing the drapes….I mean deep clean. Such a gratifying way to spend a rainy Saturday!

What adds to the gratification? Knowing that a pot roast would be ready in the crock pot at dinner time after a day full of crazy cleaning.

pot roast

The pot roast came out a little tougher than usual and I’m blaming that on the fact that I tossed it into the crock pot completely frozen, but it was still good! I used this roast recipe from the last time I made it, except minus the beef broth (because we didn’t have any) and I substituted with water instead.

Later in the evening I dominated a game of Skip Bo while Moose snuggled by my side. Kidding, he literally sat by me for 5 minutes before moving elsewhere, but I still thought it was sweet.

moose/skipbo

Sunday

The usual Sunday morning ritual of reading the paper, cutting coupons, and going grocery shopping, then home around noon for a sweet lunch…

Mixed greens, strawberries, avocado, black beans, mandarin oranges, and poppy seed dressing.
sweet salad

I made my way downstairs to the treadmill for a 40 minute walk, managed to wrap some presents, and clean the kitchen, but besides that, it was a pretty quiet and very relaxing day. I really needed a weekend like this. I am well-rested and have a very clean house. I hope you had a great weekend too!

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Now onto the realllllyyy good stuff…

IT’S GIVEAWAY TIME! {GIVEAWAY CLOSED}

Parkers Farm, a Minnesota-based company, makes the most phenomenal peanut butter, one that you see throughout many of my posts (including this one actually). They also make other products like salsa and cheese spreads. Because I am such a huge peanut butter lover, I am stoked about this giveaway.

They are offering a case, which is 12 jars (16 ounces each) of their peanut butter to ONE lucky reader. The winner can choose between 1 of 3 varieties: creamy, crunchy, or honey creamy!

The peanut butter is perishable so this giveaway is only open to continental U.S. residents only (sorry to all of my other readers!) and no P.O. Box addresses please. The PB can be frozen for up to a year so no need to worry about not being able to use it all right away although in my house it wouldn’t be an issue. 🙂

To enter the giveaway: Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite way to eat peanut butter. Earn an extra entry by tweeting or posting on facebook “I just entered to win @ParkersFarmInc peanut butter from @NuttyMelanie http://wp.me/p2J5VV-1lF.” Just be sure to leave a second comment on this post with your tweet or facebook post. I will randomly pick a winner on Thursday. Good luck!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Happy Wednesday to all!

So a while back, Dana and I attempted making a gluten-free pizza crust. We struggled with finding the right time and temperature in baking the crust, and also failed to put parchment paper under the crust which resulted in a very stick-to-the-pan crust. It still tasted good, but I didn’t have a recipe to share considering it was a partial flop.

We learned from our last trial, and on Monday night gave it a second shot and have succeeded in our attempt. It’s a little time-consuming but so completely worth it especially if you are a pizza lover who can’t tolerate gluten or if wanting to watch the waistline.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400° F. Rinse one large cauliflower head, cut off the stems, and toss them into a microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 10 minutes, or until cauliflower is fork-tender. Let cool slightly so that it is comfortable to handle. Place in food processor and process until you reach rice sized pieces.

Step 2: In a thin kitchen towel place cauliflower in center and fold up all edges to meet in the middle in a big clump. Over the sink, gather the edges and twist together so that the liquid drains out of the cauliflower (try to keep your hands away from the hot liquid). Continue twisting until liquid is removed. Open towel.

Step 3: Place cauliflower back into bowl. Make sure that it is slightly cool at this point. Add one egg, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 shredded mozzarella cheese. Stir to combine.

Step 4: Line a baking pan with parchment paper (**important step**) and use fingers to flatten cauliflower into a thin crust. I flattened mine to about 1/2 inch thickness. Spray lightly with cooking spray or olive oil.

Step 5: Place on the middle rack in preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes. Then turn the broiler on and broil for 5 minutes until top of crust begins to crisp up and turn golden color. Remove from oven.

Step 6: Add tomato sauce, shredded cheese, parmesan cheese, and toppings. Place back into oven and broil on low for 4 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Slice into squares and ENJOY!


Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Print
Recipe type: Grain-free
Ingredients
  • Crust:
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • black pepper
  • Toppings:
  • pizza sauce
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • parmesan cheese
  • favorite pizza toppings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Rinse one large cauliflower head, cut off the stems, and toss them into a microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 10 minutes, or until cauliflower is fork-tender. Let cool slightly so that it is comfortable to handle.
  2. In a thin kitchen towel place cauliflower in center and fold up all edges to meet in the middle in a big clump. Over the sink, gather and twist the edges together so that the liquid drains out of the cauliflower (try to keep your hands away from the hot liquid). Continue twisting until liquid is removed. Open towel.
  3. Place cauliflower back into bowl. Make sure that mixture is slightly cool. Add one egg, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, and ½ shredded mozzarella cheese. Stir to combine.
  4. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and use fingers to flatten cauliflower into a thin crust. I flattened mine to about ½ inch thickness. Spray lightly with cooking spray or olive oil.
  5. Place on the middle rack in preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes. Then turn the broiler on and broil for 5 minutes until top of crust begins to crisp up and turn golden color. Remove from oven.
  6. Add tomato sauce, shredded cheese, parmesan cheese, and toppings. Place back into oven and broil on low for 4 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut into squares and enjoy!

 

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Catch Up from Tuesday

Dana and I have been following our 10k training plan and have been lucky so far with the weather. Yesterday we bundled up and took Moose out for a 3 mile run around the neighborhood. I wore a tank top, two long-sleeve wicking shirts, pants, normal socks, light gloves, and ear warmers. The run was still pretty chilling given my layers but not painful at all. It was around 32°F when we went. Unfortunately, I think the cold-cold weather has finally arrived. This morning the thermometer says 16. I foresee adding on more layers in my next run.

My motivational level on a scale of 1-10 last night for making dinner was a 3, so I went the easy route and threw together a BBQ chicken salad. There were slim pickins’ on salad toppings that actually went with the chicken so I went with dill pickles, peas, cheddar cheese, and ranch dressing. Random, but good.

Speaking of random. Anyone else been watching Elf every time it’s on? “The only way to spread the cheer is by singing loud for all to hear.”  I had that saying all day in my head at work yesterday. I am loving all of the Christmas movies!

That is all for today….I hope you all have a fantastic Wednesday and are enjoying the holidays!

Question of the day: What is/are your favorite Holiday movie(s)?

My favorites are: Elf, White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Holiday, and Home Alone (to name a few).

10K Training Plan & Other Fitness Challenges

Hello world! The weekend came and went as fast as I can say Happy Holidays. The holidays are now in full swing. We had an annual holiday party with our friends on Saturday which was a blast. I gave the camera a rest for the night however so you’ll just have to take my word that it was a great party full of lots of laughs, great food, and great friends.

The last time we caught up was on Friday, so it’s time to play catch up from Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. So here we go!

Friday Night

On Friday we went over to my mom and dad’s (and Kev too) to watch our wedding video with them. We laughed, some of us teared up, and really enjoyed reliving the memories of our wedding day together.

Mom made us gluten-free spaghetti noodles with red sauce that had italian sausage, mushrooms, onions and spinach. It tasted SO good and I could not tell the difference in taste or texture between gluten-free and ordinary pasta. We also had a side salad—can’t forget about the greens!

Saturday

I had my standard pre-run breakfast of banana and peanut butter before Dana, Moose, and I hit the road for a 3.5 mile run.

The training plan for our 10K on January 1st is such:

  • Mon: cross-training and/or strength train
  • Tues: 3 mile run
  • Wed: cross-train and/or strength
  • Thurs: 2 mile run
  • Fri: rest or cross-train
  • Sat: week 1—3.5 mile run; week 2—4.5 mile; week 3—5.5 mile; week 4—6.6 mile; rest or short run; then the 10K!
  • Sun: rest or cross-train

The weather has been pretty unpredictable around here. On Saturday morning the temperature was around mid to upper 30’s and now this morning the thermometer says it’s 49º F outside! It’s supposed to drop down again later in the week but I am loving the warm for as long as I can get it.

After our run we made a stop at Caribou Coffee for their BOGO 20¢ deal. We treated ourselves to the Light Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Mocha. That was the same one I got in Atlanta and once again, it was like taking a bite of dessert each time I took a sip. Amazing.

We continued our journey over to Minneapolis to pick-up our bibs and race gear for the 10K for early packet pickup.

We even got to meet a local meteorologist, Ken Barlow, who was volunteering at the pick up! As you can see in the photo I was a tad bit excited about it.

Once we arrived home I made myself a simple fall salad with mixed greens, pear, feta cheese, walnuts, and poppy-seed dressing.

After some food prep, and errands, we said good-bye to the pooch and headed out to the holiday party for the evening.

Sunday

Brunch: sautéed onion with chili beans topped with cheese, a runny egg, tomatoes, and avocado. Outstanding.

Next on the agenda was flipping through the Sunday paper, coupon cutting, vegging on the couch, and watching the Vikings lose.

I managed to get myself on the treadmill for 35 minutes while I watched Elf on ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas. I also completed some reps for a current challenge I’m participating in…

Courtney of Sweet Tooth Sweet Life is hosting a 2012 Closeout Workout Challenge. The challenge is to complete 2012 reps of exercises of your choice by the end of 2012. After day 2 I have 1,837 reps to go. I figure it’s worth a shot, even if I don’t reach 2012, I was still doing extra activities daily that I wouldn’t normally do. It’s a great motivator for me to do more strength activities.

Dinner: Broccoli salad (recipe to come most likely) and mixed greens with leftover beans from the morning, avocado, and honey mustard dressing.

If you can’t tell I was trying to veggie load yesterday. I didn’t get much sleep on Saturday night so I was trying to energize my body with good foods versus falling into the ever-so-easy slump of eating not so good food choices when feeling tired. Sleep, activity, and food choices are all very related. It’s important to keep all three aspects in check in order to stay healthy.

I’m going to end the post here because it has gotten random enough and I was able to condense this weekend to a manageable length post. I hope you are all having a fine Monday. Catch up with you soon!