Friday Favs: Comforts and Pampering

Did everyone enjoy their tropical getaway yesterday? :wink: I have to admit that I forgot all about it, darnit! I’ll be sure to try to visit the sunshine again today.

How about a little Friday Favorites link up with Katie?!

Okay!!

1. This killer salad combo. As much as I haven’t been craving cold salads these days, I decided to throw together this beauty on a whim last night. It was spinach, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, olives, broccoli, sunflower seeds, hardboiled egg, and ranch dressing. It tasted like a salad from a fancy salad bar; I think the egg really made it.

salad

2. Appropriate warm winter gear especially my Sorel boots. I live in those things in the winter. They keep my feet so warm and dry, plus they are cute! I get compliments on them everywhere I go.

jump in winter gear

melanie at nelsons

3. A cup of coffee. I have been limiting my coffee and caffeine intake (again, just trying to give my digestive system a break from stimulants), but this past week I gave in and had some coffee. I am so grateful for a warm and creamy cup of jo. It is such a comfort to me in the mornings. As much as I have been trying to replace coffee with tea in the morning, and convince myself that it is just as good, I can’t. It just doesn’t compare and never will.

coffee

4. My manicured nails and pedicured toes. I only get mani/pedis done once a year but think I may have to make it more of a habit (especially the toes) because it feels so good to have my hands, feet and nails all cleaned up!

pedicure toes

5. My bed. We own a Tempur-Pedic and I can only begin to tell you how amazing it is. I look forward to crawling into bed at night. The bed hugs you softly yet is perfectly firm. My Tempur-Pedic pillow supports my neck and keeps my spine aligned. Awww, excuse me as I go crawl back in bed now. :wink:

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Coffee or tea?

Cold salads in the winter?

Favorite winter gear?

Fun weekend plans?

Friday Favorites

A Symbol of Hope & Weekend Recap

Thank you all for your sweet comments on my last couple of posts. I have been feeling very sentimental lately (more so than usual) and it is so nice to have this blog as an outlet to share my thoughts and feelings. You are all so supportive and it makes the journey so much easier knowing how loved and supported I am. I know I am on the right track.

I have been noticing this cardinal friend of mine hanging out in our backyard quite often. There’s something about cardinals and blue jays that just makes me so happy. They are absolutely beautiful. Plus, the lilac bush to the left of him is in full bloom and is so fragrant and gorgeous! No wonder he likes our backyard.

cardinal

According to this source“The male cardinal reminds us passion, warmth and vibrancy is available to us – even in under the cloak of winter’s grey clouds.”

A list of symbolic cardinal meanings:

  • Hope
  • Love
  • Cheer
  • Pride
  • Focus
  • Energy
  • Renewal

“Those who attract the cardinal as their totem are naturally energetic, love life, and happily help others where/when they can.

Pretty incredible, right? I’ll take that handsome guy as a positive sign.

This weekend was pretty darn fantastic, albeit it flew by way too fast as they always do.

Lately I have been eating smaller meals frequently throughout the day. I find that this helps my digestive system to feel better because I’m not loading food in all it once and making it overwork sporadically. Eating small meals helps to keep my energy level up too. This works for some people, doesn’t work for others.

I snapped a few food photos throughout the weekend of some of my mini meals. This one couldn’t have been more simple: raw zucchini, red bell peppers, carrots, and quinoa with coconut aminos.

veggies quinoa

On Friday night, Dana and I had dinner at Whole Foods salad bar. I filled up on tons of veggies, quinoa, chicken, lentils and salads. It was a box full of love if you ask me.

whole foods

On Saturday, we ran in the Fill Their Plate 10k run. The proceeds go to fight childhood hunger and I was so excited to be participating in a race that had such an incredible cause.

dana melanie pre 10k

I know I said in Friday’s post that I need to cool it on the intense exercise (no Insanity, and no longer runs), but since I had already registered for this race I had told myself that I was still going to run it, but then after that I would chill out for a while and stick to shorter runs, walks, yoga, swimming, or leisure bike rides.

We are actually getting summer weather here in MN after waiting way too long for it, so our run was actually super sticky and humid, more so than we are used to coming off of our long “Sprinter” (spring/winter). This made the run pretty challenging for us. However, I think I actually may have hit my time goal (an hour or less) that I was hoping for, but definitely not stressing out over. When we ran across the finish line, the timer said 58 minutes and change, but I know we didn’t start right away when the clock started. I’m still waiting for the website to post results, but when they do I will let you know if I reached the time goal!

I was a hot and sweaty and sticky mess after the race. When we got home I made us a pot of coffee and we had a super chill afternoon watching Fools Rush In (first time watching this movie and I really liked it) and sipping on our coffee.

coffee

On Saturday evening we celebrated Father’s Day with Dana’s parents. The weather was MN weird…on the drive over it was raining and storming, but then it cleared up and was a perfectly sunny evening. We spent a lot of time sitting outside on the deck soaking up the sun.

We had delicious steak and shrimp kabobs for dinner with a big veggie salad…

kabob dinner

And I DID have ice cream cake for dessert. I figure it was just one day. Every other day I am refined white sugar free. I am going to continue to enjoy these moments as they come because such is life and I want to enjoy life (just as long as these moments don’t turn into every day occurrences, then I would have to choose my days wisely). :wink:

We are celebrating Father’s Day with my family next weekend. I’m hoping to dig out  some throw back dad and daughter photos to share with you then :smile:

Sunday was the usual: coffee, breakfast, and newspaper. I made myself a bowl-o-banana with almond butter, cinnamon and raw organic honey.

banana almond butter

One of my afternoon mini meals: an apple with tuna salad. In the tuna salad: white albacore tuna packed in water and drained, celery, dill pickle relish, mustard, and black pepper.

apple with tuna

 

Although this made for a pretty photo, this wasn’t the easiest way to eat the tuna salad. Next time I will slice the apple and serve the tuna alongside the apple so I can just scoop each individual slice. You live you learn.

We enjoyed the company of two of our best friends in the afternoon. I hope we can make an ATL trip happen in the next couple of months!

Dinner was a household fav: grilled salmon.

salmon grilled onion

Dessert: pineapple whip made with frozen pineapple, a little bit of frozen banana, almond milk, and a touch of honey.

pineapple whip

We had such a relaxing weekend which was just what the doctor had ordered.

What was the best part(s) of your weekend?!

Chicken Curry Salad in Endive Boats

Happy MAY day! 

tulips

 

This is obviously not a MN scene but I think this is such a gorgeous photo and it makes me smile looking at this photo and thinking about the day when flowers will be popping up around here. Hopefully soon. For now, we are in a Winter Storm Warning. Yup…but anyway!

Some exciting news! Today is the last day you will see the old butcher block countertops in my photos because today we are getting NEW KITCHEN COUNTERTOPS! You know you are grown up when you get so incredibly excited about home improvements.

The butcher block countertops have been in the house for goodness knows how long, and they are terrible when it comes to stains and I don’t want to even think about any possible bacteria in the crevices.

banana pb

After much price shopping, stone shopping, and style shopping, we have decided on granite countertops. We went with a gray with specks of gold and red. It will be done by the time I get home this afternoon and I am ecstatic. I can’t wait to show you the refurbished kitchen later this week!

Lunch yesterday was a bunch of small meals throughout the span of 11:00 and 2:00. Here’s one of them…

egg

The afternoon included a lot of food prep time. In the morning I started two large chicken breasts (thawed) in the crock pot, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder, and a cup or so of homemade chicken bone broth. I covered the pot, set it on low and the chicken was done in three hours.

On the dinner menu: Chicken Curry Salad in Endive Boats!

Once the chicken was cooled I pulled it apart and set it aside. I got started on my curry sauce experiment; adding a sprinkle of this, a touch of that, and tasting along the way. This was part of my other small lunch meal. After some time, I came up with what I think is a VERY delicious Chicken Curry Salad recipe!

The chicken and the curry sauce before it was mixed together (not the most appetizing photo). Later I mixed in cilantro, green onions, and raisins too.

curry chicken

The kitchen sure took a beating with all of this food prep!

Note the white backsplash next to the yellow paint–we removed the wooden backsplash to prepare for our new counters and the new backsplash of course. Also, Dana loosened the countertop in preparation of removal so that all we had to do last night was pull it up and out of there. This ended up being a bigger task than we were expecting, but we got it out of there nonetheless.

kitchen mess

After the chicken was mixed with the sauce, I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for 4-5 hours. This helps the flavors blend together and “get to know each other.”

Once dinner rolled around, I gave the chicken one last stir, added in the celery and almonds at the last minute because I didn’t want to risk them getting soggy, taste tested it one more time, and scooped it on to some beautiful endive leaves. We went super classy with the Dixie paper plates last night because of the kitchen demolition.

curry chicken salad curry chicken salad

You could enjoy this chicken salad on a whole grain wrap, in a lettuce cup, with endive boats, celery, zucchini, or on a lettuce salad. It was a really nice change of pace dinner!

Chicken Curry Salad
Print
Ingredients
  • 3 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. green onions, diced
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • juice from ½ a lime
  • ¾ cup Greek yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp. Light Mayo
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. mustard
  • 1½ tsp. honey
  • 1½ Tbsp. curry powder
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. ginger powder
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup celery, diced
  • 3 Tbsp. almonds, sliced
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine chicken, cilantro, onion, and raisins. Set aside
  2. In a small bowl mix together lime juice, yogurt, mayo, vinegar, mustard, honey, curry, garlic powder, ginger, and salt and pepper.
  3. Pour over chicken and stir until chicken is evenly covered in sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-5 hours.
  4. Remove from fridge, add almonds and celery, stir, and test for seasonings. Adjust if needed.
  5. Serve in endive leaves, in a whole grain or gluten-free wrap, whole grain or gluten-free bread, in lettuce cups, or on top of a lettuce salad.

 

This was super tasty and what’s great about it is all of the prep can be done ahead of time so that once dinner rolls around, all you need to do is throw it on a wrap and eat it up! Also, research is showing that curry (namely the main ingredient turmeric) may have some health benefits such as aiding in alzheimer’s prevention, reducing inflammation, easing digestion, boosting immunity, and more.

Have a happy Wednesday my friends!

Do you ever cook with curry? How do you usually use it?

Some of My Favorites

Happy Thursday to you all! I hope everyone is having a fabulous week full of happiness.

A quick rewind to Tuesday evening

I had tacos on my mind. I had some pre-cooked pinto beans in the freezer so I grabbed those, defrosted them, and threw them in a pan with sautéed onions, garlic, red pepper, cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. I then added a splash of chicken bone broth to the pan and let it cook out; this helps make the beans more saucy (just don’t let them cook too long after the liquid has cooked out or they will start to get too starchy).

I love cooking a huge batch of beans and freezing them so that they are ready for me whenever I need them. I use canned beans on occasion and am sure to rinse them really well to remove some of the sodium, but I prefer dried beans that I cook myself. That way I know exactly what goes into them.

bean tacos

I used lettuce cups as the taco shells then assembled the bean mixture, shredded cheddar cheese, tomatoes, avocado, and lastly the salsa.

bean tacos

This dinner seriously came together in about 10 minutes and it was SO good as always! Taco night is one of my all-time favorites!

Wednesday

After my Insanity workouts, I often crave a huge fruit and veggie-packed smoothie. Yesterday, I threw together one of my favorites:

  • a large handful of kale
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 3/4 scoop of chocolate egg-white protein powder
  • ~1/2-3/4 cup almond milk
  • splash of aloe vera juice

Again, I give full credit to my friend Shannon for this one. I think of her every time I make it. It tastes like a chocolate shake and who doesn’t enjoy a chocolate shake in the morning?! I am totally into it.

IMG_2436

I have some exciting news. When it comes to my coffee I am a coffee with cream kind of gal. I enjoy a smooth creamy mug of coffee and as much as I tried to “wean” myself off of the creamer, I just couldn’t get into it. I tried for a good 5-6 months to go au natural, which I would say was a fair shot, but still no dice.

The main reason I wanted to stop with the creamers is because I was not liking the ingredient labels on some of my favorite creamers, namely hydrogenated oils aka trans fat. Not only that, the ingredient labels were way too long and full of unrecognizable words.

I have been on the prowl for a creamer replacement. I tried coconut milk, almond milk, soy creamer, but nothing was giving my coffee that creaminess that I loved and missed so much.

I made a trip to Whole Foods to browse their milk and cream section and I found something that has made me so extremely happy and makes my coffee blend into creamy just the way I like it…

coffee

SO Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer in hazelnut flavor. That’s the stuff!

creamer

There are a few ingredients that I’m not particularly fond of, but for the most part, I can accept it considering I do a very good job everywhere else in my diet with keeping things clean. What’s great about this creamer is that it’s dairy free and trans fat free!

creamer

Until I find my next creamer replacement, I am very happy with this one. Can you count how many times I said cream or creamer or creamy in that last little coffee bit?! Haha.

Dinner

While I prepared dinner there was some major snackage happening. We have a ginormous bag of carrots because I am a huge carrot eater and lover, so I cracked into that along with some hummus to tide myself over. This has to be up there on the list of my favorite snacks: veggies and hummus. NUM.

snack carrots hummus

Thanks to some food prep earlier in the week, dinner came together in a snap.

In a saucepan I browned up about 1/4 lb of lean ground beef. I then sautéed mushrooms in the same pan as the beef and lastly added no sugar added spaghetti sauce. I let this all blend together, added a few sprinkles of garlic powder and onion powder and let it simmer until everything was cooked and heated through.

In a separate pan I sautéed two minced garlic cloves and then added pre-cooked spaghetti squash. I like to cook the squash in a pan for a little while to help cook out some of the extra liquid and moisture, which helps prevent a super watery plate of spaghetti squash.

Once the squash was heated through I plated it up, ladled on a big scoop of meat sauce, and then sprinkled fresh grated parmesan cheese over the top.

spaghetti squash

Such a comforting and healthy dish, and a very healthy italian dish. Italian food is another one of my favorites!

I’ve had a couple of days of my favorite types of foods. Of course I snacked on some bananas and peanut butter here and there too, so don’t worry, I got those in. That snack is high up there on my favorite foods list. And chocolate. I had to have some dark chocolate. My list of favorite foods is probably a mile long. What can I say? I’m a foodie!

I’m off to take on the day! Go tackle yours too!

What are some of your favorite meal cuisines? Italian? Mexican? American? Etc.

 

Keeping it Uplifting

How did you celebrate Earth Day yesterday? I started mine out with a trip to Caribou (I drove—the bike’s not tuned up yet) for my free coffee. All you had to do was bring in a reusable mug!

coffee

A day that starts with Caribou is a good day in my book. I continued to try to keep the “green” momentum throughout the day. I did a load of laundry and used this environmentally friendly laundry detergent sample I got from Costco last weekend. I also used cold water for the wash.

laundry detergent

 

In timely fashion, our mini garden started sprouting little thyme sprouts. That only took a week! I can’t wait for fresh herbs this summer.

thyme garden

 

Lunch was leftovers from Sunday. Dana and I went to a casual sandwich shop called Which ‘Wich and I ordered a turkey wrapped in lettuce “sandwich.” I just had to replace the lettuce yesterday with fresh stuff because it had gotten a little soggy from the mustard and mayo. I actually think it tasted better on day two.

turkey wrap

Moose enjoyed the yard while it was temporarily snow free…

moose

I went to dinner at mom and dad’s and we had burgers with sautéed onions, a big salad, and roasted zucchini. I had deli mustard with my burger and oh my goodness that stuff is good! I need to go get myself some of that!

hamburger hamburger

The weather turned for worst last night and all I’m going to say about it is this:

funny winter spring

 

I refuse to turn into negative Nancy about it because I am extremely tired of hearing people complain about it considering there is NOTHING we can do about it, except for move to another state. I want to keep today’s post happy and uplifting, so I am calling upon my Pinterest finds to do just that.

Here is an eclectic mix of photos and quotes that made me happy today…

dogs

 

batman

 

ralph waldo emerson

 

girl

 

spiderman

 

oreos

 

puppy

 

If that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will! I hope you all have a very HAPPY day!

Pasta Bolognese Per Request

Hi friends! I hope everyone is having a good Monday so far…

It’s time to recap a super awesome Sunday that was spent with my husband and the dog. It started with BOGO coffees at Caribou. I stuck with a decaf coffee with sugar-free hazelnut (num) and Dana went for the Milk Chocolate Mocha with a shot or two of espresso.

Let the Father’s Day fun begin! Today was all about the hubby. Moose even made sure to get his dad a sweet card for Father’s Day. How thoughtful, right?

For breakfast I made myself a pb banana sandwich (I ate half of it before remembering to snap a photo). I ate my banana ‘wich and sipped on my coffee while we cut coupons.

Once again, the coupons were completely lame this week. We cut two measly coupons. TWO. And they were for household type things so they weren’t even exciting.

Next, we hit the Sunday usuals: Target and Costco. We stocked up on some good eats and even bought Mooser a new chicken. His last one had to be tossed due to a terrible stench that really raunched up his breath each time he played with it. Gross.

We got a few things done around the house, I completed a relaxing yoga session, and then I made Dana a special Father’s Day sandwich.

This beautiful creation is made up of:

  • Two pieces of whole wheat bread
  • 1 slice of lower-sodium turkey breast
  • 1 slice cheddar cheese
  • Sliced tomato sprinkled with onion powder and pepper
  • Mustard
  • 1 drippy egg.

All grilled to perfection with love.

I LOVE making special meals for the ones I love.

In the afternoon, we had to run a few more errands which included plans to take the pooch out for a walk around the lake. Our plans were hindered when the clouds opened up and mother nature watered our grass from 1:00-5:00 pm. I wasn’t sure if it was going to let up, so I decided to head down to our treadmill to get a little walk in just in case. I walked for 35 minutes while watching The Blind Side. Such a great movie.

Towards the end of my workout, the skies had cleared up and Moose really wanted to take his dad out for a Father’s Day walk :wink:, so we headed out. It had cooled off quite a bit after the rain and the sun was even peeking through. It was a perfect evening walk with my guys.

Since today was all about the dads, I told Dana he could have whatever he wanted for dinner. His decision: Pasta Bolognese. My version of course.

I started by sautéing 1 cup diced yellow onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 1 cup of chopped mushrooms in a light amount of garlic infused olive oil. After about 3 minutes, I added a jar of No-Added Sugar Ragu, added a shake of garlic powder, basil, and oregano. I gave this a stir, covered, and let simmer while I prepared the rest of the meal.

In a separate pan, I started browning up a package of lean ground chicken and began boiling my water for the pasta. Once the meat was browned, I sprinkled it with oregano and garlic powder. I like to flavor each part of the dish when I can. I added the meat to the sauce, then finished the sauce by adding about 3/4 cup of chopped green olives.

Once the pasta was finished cooking to al dente, I drained it and served up two heaping plates full of pasta and Bolognese sauce and topped with parmesan cheese.

Great decision, honey.

After dinner, we just had to have dessert because it was Father’s Day after all. So what did we decide to do? Head to the Frozen Yogurt shop down the road of course. Jeez louise this is the third Sunday in a row now that we have done this. We are getting a lot better at controlling our frozen yogurt pour and limiting the toppings at least. Last night we spent $7.00 between the two of us which was our cheapest fro-yo purchase yet.

Last night I chose non-dairy, non-fat Valencia Orange Sorbet mixed with the tiniest bit of sugar-free vanilla fro-yo (to get the orange creamsicle effect). I topped it with gummies and was extremely happy with this combo. You are probably aware by now that I usually opt for the chocolately, rich toppings when it comes to my fro-yo and ice cream, but I am trying to cool it on the dairy, and since the only sorbet flavor option they had last night was orange, I didn’t think topping it with cookie dough and brownie pieces sounded very appetizing. The gummies were just perfect.

Any time I eat gummies I am reminded of my childhood, and my college years. Growing up we had gummies as a special treat, and through my college years, my girlies and I would buy a huge bag of mixed gummies from the grocery store when we were having a girl’s night in. Sweet memories.

What a great Father’s Day weekend with my papa on Saturday, and Dana on Sunday. We will be celebrating Father’s Day with Dana’s parents next weekend. Let the fun continue.

***************

I keep forgetting to tell you all, that last week I DID reach my June Yoga Challenge weekly goal. When I posted on Friday I had only completed two yoga sessions and my goal is three per week. Well, you better believe that after I posted on Friday I hit up the yoga. I am really loving it and am feeling pretty sore from it as well. Work it baby!

I still need to share that awesome Lemon Blueberry Bar recipe with you all that I made on Saturday. I didn’t forget! It’s still comin. Have a great Monday.

Honey Mustard Zing Chicken

This morning I had a real big craving for coffee. I have given up caffeine due to my current health status, because it acts as a stimulant to the intestines and can cause unneeded distress. The only coffee we have at home is caffeinated so I contemplated whether just to make tea again as I have been in the mornings, or to head out in my comfies and get me some decaf coffee. I chose option two. I headed out to Caribou and got myself a medium decaf french roast. I also got 10¢ off my coffee because I knew the answer to the trivia question.

Trivia Clues: “I am a child actor. I’m not home alone anymore.” Who is it?!

I got it home, poured the coffee into my own mug, added cream and stevia, and lovingly sipped away.

I have decided that this weekend I am going to buy decaf coffee from the grocery store. I know coffee is acidic and I probably shouldn’t drink it everyday, but every once in a while it will be a nice treat.

*******

Now, backtracking to last night. I had company! My long time friend, Kalley was coming over for dinner and a chill night. I wanted to make a tasty dinner for the both of us, while still keeping it low-fiber. I scanned the fridge and cupboards and came up with what I’m going to call Honey Mustard Zing Chicken.

In the crock pot (recipe for two):

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 carrots, chopped into medium rounds
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 Tbsp lower sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • Salt and Pepper

Simply add all ingredients into your crock pot, cover it, set it, and forget it. My instructions for you all would be to set this in your crock pot on low for 5-6 hours. This little girl on the other hand, accidentally let it go for nearly 12 hours and it came out a teeny bit dry. Still delicious, but yes definitely a little dry. My bad, sorry Kal.

I truly enjoyed this meal and was so happy that I had made a dinner for the both of us that was still tasty, yet kept it low-fiber so it wouldn’t upset my stomach. I kept my portion on the smaller side because I knew there was dessert coming. Kalkal brought us over a new treat to try: Ben & Jerry’s Greek Frozen Yogurt in Strawberry Shortcake.

OMG, we fell in love. This tasted like you were literally eating a piece of strawberry shortcake. It was AWESOME. I would recommend this to anyone seriously! I am usually a chocolate mix-in type of frozen yogurt girl, but I may have to reconsider my froyo decisions in the future because this was the bomb.

The rest of the night was spent catching up on life, laughing about the past, and completely soaking up each other’s company. Thanks for coming over Kallio. Love you so much.

Now, I am off to ponder breakfast. I then plan to clean the house a bit, finish up on laundry, run some errands, and possibly purchase items for our garden. We have plans to plant our veggie garden this weekend and I am stoked. Whoop whoop!

Happy Friday everybody!

A Perfect Mother’s Day Weekend

Another beautiful day to add to the books. This weekend was perfect. Both Saturday and Sunday were sunny with a little breeze and about mid 70′s. I love it.

This morning I woke up bright and early because I had a date with my mom. But first, a little breakfast. A piece of whole grain toast with PB2, honey, and cinnamon.

Then I was off to meet my mom to take part in the Race for the Cure 5k walk. This was our 5th year doing the walk/run and it is a tradition we hope will continue for a long time.

We got there nice and early so that we could enjoy the excitement and make our way to the front of the crowd at the starting line.

We ended up walking about 2.5 miles just to get to the starting line because of where we parked, so we had a nice little warm up. It gave us plenty of time to chit-chat which we always appreciate.

A couple of local news anchors (Kare11′s Erik Perkins and Julie Nelson for all of you local readers) kicked off the race by leading the group in a pep talk and a countdown. I snapped a photo as we were walking under their platform. I love local celebrities.

Mom and I really booked it through the 5k while thoroughly enjoying each other’s company, and taking in the wonderful moments of the walk. It is such an inspiring walk and it is heart warming to be surrounded by so many breast cancer survivors, those who have supported the survivors through the fight, those people walking to remember love one’s they had lost to breast cancer, and those just walking to support the cause in general. This race has an incredible amount of registrants. This year there were more than 50,000 registrants. We all gathered to show love and support for those we know who have been affected by this disease, and to help fund research to ultimately find a cure. Hence, Race for the Cure. It was a perfect way to spend the morning with my mom on Mother’s Day.

Mom wore a pedometer throughout our morning and we rocked approximately 16,000 steps which works out to about 8 miles. Our legs were starting to feel a little jello-ey towards the end of the walk. Seventeen miles in 2 days is pretty darn good for me.

After we gathered all of our goodies from the post-race kiosks, We made a pit-stop at Caribou Coffee for Mother’s Day BOGO coffee. I got a caramel iced coffee and mom got a Mango Key Lime smoothie. Thanks for a great morning mama!

I headed home to eat some lunch and run some errands with the hubs.

This afternoon we headed to Dana’s parents to celebrate Mother’s Day with them. They made us wonderful surf and turf kabobs on the grill as well as a sweet and crunchy salad inspired by Paula Deen: mixed greens, bell peppers, Craisins, bananas, water chestnuts, shredded cheese, mayo, and I’m not sure what else. All I know is I had three helpings of it because I love it so much. Sue said she cut out half of the mayo from the recipe and you never would have known. Delicious.

After dinner was dessert. We are celebrating after all. We had strawberry pie which was loaded with strawberries, so it was “healthier” pie. He he. It was so good.

The rest of the night was spent relaxing and sleeping. Talk about an amazing weekend. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend as well!

 

My Thrilling Night

Well hello there. I am so happy it is a beautiful day out today because if it had been gloomy I think I may have had to hold my eyes open all day. I have been extremely tired this week and (wahh wahh) I think it’s because my body is readapting to normalcy versus being a lazy bum like I was all last week. I should be back in the swing of things by next week.

There has been a high need for the coffee this week.

Breakfast yesterday was a Melanie staple: Greek yogurt, blueberries, strawberries, and honey. I had a dentist appointment yesterday morning so I omitted the chia seeds because they have a tendency to get stuck in the teeth.

Dinner was a comfort to me. You have seen this salad before but in the mix is mixed greens, black beans, tomato, avocado, peas, broccoli, cheddar cheese, and my very favorite honey mustard dressing. It was a hit in my belly.

I worked late last night so after dinner it was already almost 8:00. I made a few phone calls then made my way to the couch to hang out with this handsome fellow and watch Modern Family.It was a hilarious episode as always. Mitch and Cam had Lily on a child leash at Disneyland and it was extra funny to me because I witnessed someone at Disneyland with a leashed child last time I was there. It is hilarious to me. I love that show.

After Modern Family we watched a recorded episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Croatia. Moose really enjoyed it because the episode involved a dog sniffing out truffles. Any time he hears dog noises on the TV his head perks up and he becomes enthralled by the show. Clearly he was captured by this one. I wish we could teach Moose to sniff out truffles in the ground. Are you taking notes, doggy?

I finished the night off with freshly popped popcorn.

And that was my thrilling night. :wink: Can you stand the excitement?

I am happy it’s Thursday because that means tomorrow is Friday. I am hoping to get a run in after work today as I neglected to get up early this morning for a run.

I hope you all have a beautiful day.

Safari Tour in the Dominican Republic

While we were away on our trip, we decided that the majority of our vacation was going to be spent relaxing, lying on the beach, reading books and sipping piña coladas, however we did decide that we would do one excursion. We signed up to go on an “Outback Safari Tour” thar involved taking an open air shuttle bus into the countryside which included a tour of the waterfalls.

We brought along a disposable underwater camera and tried to capture our journey, however most of the photos turned out pretty dark, as the day we went was very rainy. But I still want to show you them so you can get an idea of our tour.

We were picked up at our hotel in the morning then headed to three other resorts along the way to pick up other couples who had signed up for the tour. On our bus were two gals from Canada, a couple from Russia, a couple from Germany, Dana and I (U.S. of course), and our tour guide who is a Dominican native. We had quite the diverse group which was wonderful!

Our first stop was at an area where men were working, making beautiful figurines which they carve out of native woods and stones. I was fascinated by these men and their carving skills. The first stage of the carving process involves shaping the material with a machete. I was really hoping that no fingers would be spared as they got so close each time they made a cut. I am such a worrier. I know they are very skilled with their tools. After the machete phase, the next guy works with a small knife to do the intricate carving, the third works on sanding the edges, the fourth uses water and sand paper to smooth it out, and sometimes a fifth man will paint or stain the figurine. Talk about manual labor. One figurine usually takes about three days to complete.

This photo turned out really dark, sorry about that.

The next stop on the tour was to learn about how coffee beans are made into usable coffee grounds, and how cocoa beans are made into usable cocoa. The coffee beans are picked, dried out in the sun for at least a week, roasted, and then ground. We were able to muddle the coffee beans ourselves. They placed straw hats on our heads, told us all to hang on to the mallet, and they sang as we danced around in a circle and stomped the coffee beans. It was pretty comical yet efficient!

First the ladies.

Then the men.

We then got to taste the coffee (after it had been properly brewed) and the cocoa. They were both incredibly delicious and obviously as fresh as it gets. We bought some coffee to take home with us.

The last portion of this stop was taste a drink of the Dominican Republic called Mama Juana. It is a mixture of rum, wine, and honey that is soaked in a bottle with tree bark and herbs. The taste is sweet and can be compared to a port wine. It is a rumored aphrodisiac but is also used for medicinal purposes in their culture. They referred to it a few times as “the baby maker” which I thought was hilarious.

Back on to the bus we went to grab some lunch before hitting the waterfalls. We ate a fairly typical Dominican lunch of rice and beans, fresh salad, meat (I opted out of the meat again), and fresh fruit.

Next stop was the main event: The Waterfalls. This particular tour involved climbing up 7 of the 27 waterfalls, and then jumping or sliding down them.

Upon arrival, we suited up in our gear.

And were led by our tour guide on a 20 minute hike towards the waterfalls. It began pouring as we hiked through the jungle which really added to the excitement of the experience for me. Once we reached the falls we got right to it and hopped into the water.

And began our hike up the falls.

It was actually a very challenging tour as the rain was pounding on us, and the rain was causing high waters and extremely strong water currents. Swimming against the current is never easy no matter how strong you are. We got through climbing up three of the falls before the tour guide told us we would not be able to complete the other four due to the excessive rain and high waters. It would be too dangerous. So, back we went down the three waterfalls.

We jumped. A pretty graceful jump if I do say so myself being that I was terrified to jump off the ledge.

And we slid. Can you see me?

After we hopped down the falls, we headed out on another hike back to the bus. We had a rainy ride back to our hotel but the closer we got to the ocean, and the further we got from the countryside, the more it began to clear up. We headed to the beach once we got back to our hotel and I fell asleep on the lounge chair. That’s probably when I got so many of my bug bites. They still itch.

It was a really great tour and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the Dominican Republic. We had a wonderful tour guide who taught us many interesting facts about the culture and history of their country.

Writing this made me very sad thinking that it was exactly a week ago that we went on this tour. I love vacation and want to be back there!

I hope everyone has a wonderful hump day.