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The Weekend – Pumpkin Cookies, A Selfie Stick, Puppy Play Dates, & The Seating Chart

This weekend was the first in what felt like forever that we were able to spend the whole weekend at home together.  We have had SO many exciting things going on this year – from friends getting married to family events – but the only downside to being on the road all the time is that we don’t have too many weekends to relax at home.

So we took full advantage of the down time.  On Saturday I caught the cooking fever and whipped up a batch of these delicious and simple pumpkin cookies along with the cream cheese icing.  I was too lazy to ice them as beautifully as I did last year, but they were just as good.

2 Ingredient Pumpkin Cookies

While I was busy in the kitchen, I also made some hummus.  For some reason, mid-week I was craving hummus and olives in the worst way (random, I know).  So I made a point to visit the antipasta bar at Wegmans on Saturday and get the necessary supplies.

For dinner on Saturday we had Salmon Ceasar salads.  There’s nothing better than a healthy home cooked meal after being on the go.

In other news, I have been thoroughly enjoying the running trail this summer and fall.  It’s so peaceful to be out on the trail with the B doggie. I love that I can feel like I’m submersed in nature and still be close enough to road traffic not to feel secluded.

I never thought I would say this but I bought a selfie stick, and it’s awesomeee.  (B dog was excited too).  Can’t wait to use this bad boy on our honeymoon.

On Sunday we watched more football and had a few friends over that also have a GSP.  I absolutely love watching these two together.  It just makes my little puppy-loving heart melt.

After the fun was over and everyone went home, Kris and I decided we should probably get a move on our seating chart.  So we implemented a super high tech plan to map out our seating arrangements.

1 sheet of paper = 1 table

1 post-it = 1 guest’s name

It’s a work in process.

Anyone have any super fancy (or not so fancy) ways they charted out their seating arrangements?

The Pittsburgh Half Marathon

Happy Monday!! Hopefully it’s a smooth day for everyone that’s back to the grind. Before we know it we’ll be back at home in our yoga pants recovering.

I wanted to recap the Pittsburgh Half Marathon from May, because even though it’s 4 months late, I was sharing some of my training in the early weeks and I happened to (unexpectedly) hit a new PR!

But seriously, I’m pretty convinced that it was like 20% training, 30% having a margarita and a huge dinner the night before, and 50% sheer luck.

This was the 4th year that I ran the Pittsburgh Half, and although I couldn’t break the 2 hour hurdle, I came across the finish line at a cool 2:07.

This is the second year that I ran as a charity runner for the Animal Rescue League. It always makes me feel good to help the animals, especially if I’m going to be running anyway.  Also – check out that cat bag.

I also totally forgot about my choice of bib wording until I picked up my packet. Is it possible to prank your future self?

I tried my best to stick with the pacers but I was totally burnt out by the last hill. I ended up walking and although I know deep down I had nothing in the tank, I still always wonder if I could have made up for those pesky 7 minutes past the 2 hour mark. Gets me every time.

Kris was there to support me (after a minor wreck on his bicycle… Who knew spectating was so dangerous?? Luckily he’s making a full recovery.) along with my parents. And my mom cut those gorgeous tulips out of her garden.


All in all it was a good year. Although I have to be honest… I still haven’t signed up for another one. I have been doing some shorter distances and it’s kept me feeling pretty content, so I’m not sure if I want to change that. I still like to think I’ll chase down that sub 2 hour time someday, but for now it feels nice to just enjoy the leisure running.

I’m baaaack! 

Wow, where to start. So much has happened in the past 6-7 months and so many exciting things are on the horizon! I will be sure to publish the highlight reel.

I stopped posting back in February when I was feeling frustrated about coming up with new content and overwhelmed with wedding planning and the start of a new job.  Things have been insanely busy. But I can confidently say, although it’s been an absolute whirlwind, I will look back on this time with so much happiness/fondness and wish for it back. 


Over the past 6 months I have thought about blogging over and over again but just couldn’t bring myself to get past the overwhelming feeling of my daily to-do list. It’s such a cruel irony that these moments in life are the most noteworthy yet, with all the excitement, they are the most difficult to find the time to document. 

The one thing that is for sure though is that I can’t shake the feeling that I want to make this blog work. I go back and forth about sharing my life on social media. It feels scary and revealing putting personal information on a public platform. I feel like I am always walking a fine line, and to be entirely honest I am terrified of the inevitable judgment. I am scared of missing out on precious moments because I’m too busy worrying about snapping the perfect picture, and I hope I can create authentic and interesting content. I love writing, but blogging definitely puts me on the edge of my comfort zone. 

So if you want the  less-sappy summarized version – life is short and blogging makes me terrified and happy, so I’m back! And I would love for you to come on this journey with me (again)! 

Side note – tonight is the Buffalo Bills season home opener. The city may burn (I wish I was kidding). 

 

#GoBills! 

A Day of Eats + House Rules

Happy hump day friends! We’re half way to the weekend and things are looking up!

Today I am sharing my meals from yesterday, partially to keep me accountable and partially because it’s nice to have ideas when the usual routine gets a little old. 

Breakfast 7:30am – 1 PerfectFit protein pancake with cinnamon, maple syrup, blackberries, and raspberries. (This recipe is from the Tone It Up nutrition plan, which I finally caved and got. I plan to commit 100% and write a full review after the half marathon.)  

Coffee.

Snack 10am – 1 medium grapefruit (I forgot to take a picture)

 Lunch 12:30pm – leftover Easiest Broccoli Pasta. I’m partially following along with the Skinnytaste meal plan this week!
Green tea 1:30pm

Snack 2pm – Coconut Chia Seed Pudding  (also from the Tone It Up nutrition plan) topped with coconut flakes and cacao nibs
  

Snack 4pm – Cherry pie Larabar (forgot to snap a picture)

Dinner 7pm – Crockpot Chicken and Black Bean Taco Salad
  

I ended the evening with a mug of warm mint tea and 2 pieces of Dove dark chocolate. 

On a side note, we are currently ‘puppy sitting’ (all dogs will forever be puppies to me) for Kris’ parents for 3 weeks and we’ve had to implement some pretty strict house rules for these houligans… 

  
  

It’s sad how much of a kick we get out of our new little catch phrase. 

What ridiculous saying do you use at your house?

Half Marathon Training – Week 6

In keeping with my commitment to share the truths of my training and hold myself accountable, here is my latest training recap! 

You can find the others here: 

Half Marathon Training – Week 5
Half Marathon Training Plan + Mantra
Last week’s half marathon training was not exactly what I had planned out, but I did get in 5 days of cardio, so I’m calling it a win. I moved the prior week’s long run to Monday instead of a rest day and I ended up doing the same this week.  I would have liked to have made it to yoga, but I’ve never claimed to be perfect. 

Monday- 6 miles 

Tuesday- at home circuit & stairs

Wednesday- 3 miles

Thursday- tempo run 3 cycles (3.82 miles)

Friday- rest

Saturday- rest

Sunday- 4 miles

Total miles – 16.82

I think Thursday’s tempo run might have been the most difficult. It consisted of 3 cycles of 10 minute runs followed by 2 minutes of jogging. The plan said I should have made it 4.1 miles by the time it was all said and done…

  
… There’s definitely some room for improvement. But overall I felt good. 

Sunday it was warm enough to run outside. I can’t wait for spring running! The outside run was supposed to be 7 miles, but it was cut a little short to allow for a hockey date. 

 
And I got to see my beloved Penguins deliver a healthy smackdown on the Buffalo Sabres. Totally worth it. 

9 weeks until the Pittsburgh Half! 

Are you training for any races? 

Finance Friday – 5 Ways to Save $1,000 In 1 Year

If you could save a thousand dollars in a year by making a few changes to your weekly routine, would you give it a try?

At our house, with a wedding on the horizon and new home expenses, we have been making a concerted effort to save where we can.

These five lifestyle changes could save you up to $1,000 each per year.  And if you can do all five, you can probably afford that dream vacation, downpayment, or pesky credit card balance you’ve been chipping away at.

1. Check your coffee habits.  If you’re currently making a stop at your favorite coffee joint every day, you may want to evaluate the impact on your wallet.  I know it might be the best part of your morning, but hear me out.  You don’t have to cut out those coveted coffee trips completely.  If you cut back to 3 trips a week, with an average drink costing $5, you can save $1,040 in one year (assuming you are cutting out 4 days). You can still frequent your local coffee shop on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to dull the pain of the week. But for the other days do some coffee prep at home. You won’t regret it.

2. Reevaluate your cable & insurance bills.  I know how the cable fairytale begins… there is a great 1 year rate on a bundle deal, 6 months of free HBO, and sometimes even a prepaid gift card… before you know it you have a DVR/HDMI cable box in every room of the house and you’re all set to live happily ever after… until that 6 months to a year is up.  It’s not unusual to stop one day and wonder how your cable bill has sky rocketed to its current rate.  I know first hand how excruciating it is to call the cable company.  It seems like a chore just to get a real person on the phone, but if you play your cards right you will walk away with some extra dough in your pocket.

A cable representative can help you walk through all of your current options and identify areas you could cut costs.  Do you have 4 DVR boxes in rooms that you rarely use?  If your current options are already pretty lean, you can price out other companies and go to bat with your current company.  They  might give you what you’re looking for up front, but if they don’t, be prepared to walk away… or at least pretend you are.  Most companies will ask you what they can do to keep your business (within reason), and if they don’t they usually give you more than enough chances to re-install or change your mind before they will actually terminate your service.

At the very least, if HBO is an absolute must in your home, switching from the cable company to HBO Now will probably save you an easy $5 a month.

Another area with major savings potential is home and car insurance.  Here is a great article on switching car insurance.

3. Pack your lunch. Let’s say after meal, drink, and tip, the average cost of eating lunch at a restaurant is $10.  Now let’s also say that the average cost to pack a lunch is $3.  If you’re currently going out everyday at lunch, try packing or eating at home 3 days a week.  If you can pocket that extra cash you will have an extra $1,000 a year.

4. Replace one dinner out. In our household we have an intense love for pizza.  We would usually go out to eat one night a week for our favorite food group.  It’s actually kind of crazy how much a large pizza costs these days.  Say you go out to a restaurant and order a large one topping pizza with drinks, before you know it you’re $25 in the hole.  In our budget madness, we recently discovered that Wegmans sells 3 packs of pepperoni pizza in the frozen section for $10… and the best part… they’re actually pretty darn delicious.  With a savings of about $22 a week, you can easily save $1,000 a year on pizza alone.

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5. Evaluate all areas of spending.  If you can spot an opportunity in your lifestyle to save $20 a week, or around $80 a month you can pocket up to $1,000 in one year.

What would you do with an extra $1,000?

Half Marathon Training – Week 5

Last week I hit a few set backs in my half marathon training. But as part of my commitment to stay accountable, I’m sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly.

On Super Bowl Sunday I came down with a nasty head cold that really put me out of commission for a few days. I’m typically one to try to run through a cold because I think it actually helps loosen up the bad stuff and gets things moving. But this time my body was telling me I needed the rest, so I honored that. 

I took a few days off and by Wednesday I felt like I could struggle through a 3 mile run to get back on track. 

Here’s what the week looked like:

Monday – rest (sick)

Tuesday – rest (sick)

Wednesday – 3 mile run (30 minutes)

Thursday – 4 mile run (40 minutes)

Friday – shovel snow

Saturday – 3 mile run (30 minutes) 

Sunday – rest

Total Miles – 10

I was pretty happy with myself for getting 4 workouts in, all things considered (and if your wondering if shoveling snow counts as a workout, come on over to our place on a snowy day. BYOS).

My diet on the other hand was pretty poor. Something about being sick just made me crave sweets. I honestly think the real issue is that being sick stresses me out. I never used to think of myself as a worrier; boy, how things have changed. I resorted to SO many peanut M&Ms it’s embarrassing… not to mention Fruit Loops and Valentine’s Day chocolate

So on Sunday I made a huge batch of Minestrone soup to have for lunches this week in an effort to get back on track. Sugar is definitely addictive to me. But once I can work through a few days without it I don’t usually crave it. 

  

In a surprising twist of events all of that sugar must have benefited me because I felt good running 6 miles this Monday. It’s so strange how just when you think you have it all figured out, you run like a champ after pounding sugar for a week straight. I know from past experience excessive sugar usually slows me down and makes me feel like I’m running with bricks strapped to my feet. But I guess sometimes the opposite is true and I can eat clean and still feel that way, so I’m definitely not complaining! 

Incase you missed it, you can read about my 2016 Half Marathon plan here: 

2016 Half Marathon Plan
How do you keep yourself accountable? 

Can you tell a difference in the way you feel when you eat a lot of sugar?

A Subzero Valentine’s Day

Happy hump day, my friends! What a cold/snowy week it has been so far. Did I mention cold?

Let’s start by recapping the weekend. I know I am a little late this week, but snow and cold really add time to the everyday routine.

Here’s the short version – it was freezing cold, we braved the elements, I discovered the value of wax paper, and we did a lot of shoveling.

And now the long version:

This beautiful display of chocolate dipped fruit and pretzels had to be painstakingly scraped off of this plate because I didn’t use wax paper, and it’s mostly the result of pure laziness. The good news though is that it still tasted great. So great that I practically ate the whole thing myself.

This is a picture documenting a day in the life of someone with self-diagnosed Raynaud’s Disease. (It’s not life threatening or excruciatingly painful so I’ve managed to avoid a doctor). If I can go a day without losing circulation in a finger or toe it’s a miracle. I need to migrate somewhere warm (and probably stop googling and see a real doctor).

Friday on my way home I witnessed this debacle. I thought maybe school buses were immune to snow up until this point, but apparently nobody is safe!


After we shoveled ourselves in to the house on Friday evening after work, I cranked up the fireplace while making dinner and watching The Notebook. That’s when I glanced over and caught someone enjoying the heat wave. #busted

 From there things only got colder. Saturday night we braved the elements and went out for a dinner date in Lewiston at a restaurant called Casa Antica.  Lewiston is such a neat place, and this restaurant is phenomenal.  I’ve raved about it before for Kris’ birthday dinner.
When we woke up on Sunday morning it was -17 degrees. So extreme precautions were taken:

She’s such a good sport (most of the time).

Have you ever self-diagnosed based on an internet search?

What’s the coldest temp you’ve experienced so far this winter?

Half Marathon Training Plan + Mantra

This year I signed up for my 4th half marathon.  

  
There was a time when I never would have believed that. I distinctly remember finding a book on running form at a friend’s house and thinking anyone who ran as a sport or hobby was extremely boring and insane. Yeah, that was probably a little harsh. Someone should have told me never to say never.

  
So now here I am painfully chasing down that 2 hour goal time. (And even the term ‘chasing’ is probably generous.) 

   
The past few years I’ve really floundered. My first race I pretty much ran solely on determination, and although the time was not impressive, I know I could not do that again if I tried (ahhh, youth).

2013 Pittsburgh Half Marathon – 2:21:44

 The second year that I ran the half marathon was my best. I trained, I felt good, and I improved…but I still didn’t meet my goal. 

  
2014 Pittsburgh Half Marathon – 2:08:34

The third year that I ran was filled with moving, starting a new job, and mass confusion. I actually debated skipping. 

2015 Pittsburgh Half Marathon – 2:22:19

Woof. 

So that brings us to 2016. I knew I needed to be committed to a training program, but I also needed a plan that would help me with my speed. So I launched a search… And it was surprisingly successful. 

That’s when I found RUNfit365 and was able to download their 16 Week Intermediate Half-Marathon Training Plan for free.

The plan breaks down different training techniques, explains all of the terminology, and allows you to base your training off of a goal pace. The other thing I really like about it is that it doesn’t require logging crazy miles so it’s completely attainable. 

I am on week 4, and so far I have missed the weekend runs (major fail) and replaced one easy run with a hot yoga class each week. 

So to stay on track I’m going to check in on F&F each week to report my progress, and I’m also going to have a mantra.

  

I’ve heard that having a running mantra can do wonders for your race game. Which I actually believe to be true because I definitely had one for my second half marathon. (Something along the lines of ‘Hell hath no fury like that of a scorned woman’… You get the picture.)

As cheesy as it sounds I’m going to make my mantra to appreciate that I have the time and the ability to train this year. (Having a wedding on the horizon doesn’t hurt either).

Do you have a running mantra? 

Have you ever crushed your goal time? 

Meals, Deals, and an Early Spring

This week I was a little late to the meal planning party. I normally try to plan on weekends but sometimes with our busy schedules (and my current Shameless addiction) that’s just not an option.   

So things were a little delayed this week, but luckily we had some leftovers to get us through Monday.

My sister got me The Skinnytaste Cookbook for Christmas and I have to say I’ve been loving it. I was a little nervous at first that the ingredients would be super expensive because the recipes looked so fancy, but that was not the case at all. 

In the lineup for this week: 

Monday – leftover skinny enchiladas (from the cookbook)

Tuesday – Cheeseburger Casserole

  

Wednesday – Grilled romaine steak salads with roasted baby potatoes and blue cheese/balsamic vinegar (and obviously a side of wine)
  

Thursday – Bangin’ Good Shrimp (skinnytaste cookbook) 

Friday – frozen pizza

On a side note, I totally jumped on board with the Victoria’s Secret swim suit deals this year. They still have some going on right now that are ending soon. 

Code SPRING2015 – $15 off $100, $25 off $150, $50 off $250

Code DIVEIN – free shipping and returns on swimwear (ends Friday)

Bras – any 2 / $49.50

Yoga pants & Leggings – 2 / $65

FYI – I’m sure if you’ve purchased anything recently you know, but I’ve noticed that the offers/coupon code step of the payment process always gets skipped over by default and I have to go back and add each coupon code. The free shipping and returns are not automatically applied. Do not fall victim to the trickery! 

And Punxatony Phil predicted an early spring?! I never thought that little fur ball would come through for us, but hopefully he is right!