Tag Archives: #holidays

Blogging Resurrection – We Bought A House

Happy Friday! Man, am I happy to say that.

If you read the blog regularly you know I have been MIA for the past two months. I hope you will accept this recap as my sincere apology for temporarily abandoning F&F. 

I do have some exciting news though, we finally closed on our house! And we are all moved in. After planning on closing in October, it has been a heck of a ride. 

We actually closed in December about 2 weeks before Christmas, so you can imagine the craziness that ensued. 

After signing the papers we picked up the B dog and headed over to the house for a small celebration. 

 
  

Early the next week we got everything moved in and began the unpacking.  

I have to say the kitchen is really the only place that isn’t still in limbo. We have a lot of projects in mind already, and we are super excited to begin this exciting and slightly overwhelming adventure!  

 

Some other things that happened over the holiday season… 

Kris’ work threw an awesome Christmas party
  

(I got my dress from LuLu’s. It was a little tighter than I expected but it was definitely a good purchase. It will be worn again!)

We celebrated Christmas in Pittsburgh
  
My mom, sister, and I made more Christmas cookies than one family should ever consume
  

And we rang in the New Year with wine, cheese, and a 2,000 piece puzzle… And I totally fell asleep on the couch long before midnight. 
  
…everyone was thrilled.

That about sums up the highlight reel. This weekend my family is coming in to celebrate my sister’s birthday. 

I hope you have a great weekend! 

What’s on your weekend agenda? 

Are you currently working on any house projects? 

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Easter Eggs and A Long Run

Happy Monday!  Sadly, another weekend has come to an end.  Yesterday we started the day drinking coffee and lounging around. Those are the exact ingredients for a great Sunday morning, just incase you were wondering.  Around noon we got ready and headed over to Kris’ aunt and uncle’s house for a delicious lunch!

But first… I ate jelly beans.  A lot of jelly beans.

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After lunch we headed out to check out an open house, came home to continue our house searching efforts online, and then hit the road for a long run.  Finally!!! My legs were still extremely sore from my first barre experience, and I was feeling a little post lunch coma coming on but I finally convinced myself that if I am going to run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon the first week of May then I had to start getting long runs in.

I started the run thinking “It’s cold out. 7 miles is so excessive. I don’t know why I do this to myself”,  and then “if I can just make it 4 miles then at least it will be a good workout”, and finally “this isn’t so bad, basically only a 5k left”.  And that’s how I finished the 7 mile run.

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Dinner was baked chicken breast with rice and cream of mushroom soup.  Kris was nice enough to take charge in the kitchen while I showered, recovered, and boiled some eggs for our Easter eggs!!

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This morning for breakfast I had a whole wheat English muffin topped with almond butter and a banana.

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Have a great Monday!

Valentine’s Day + Cupid’s Chase 5k

Good morning!  I can’t believe how fast the weekend is going.  Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess!

Friday evening started with a nice big glass bottle of wine.  This was the first time I tried this Mountain Merlot (I am totally guilty of buying based solely on the bottle design and name) and it was delicious.  Even though I only had a 4 day work week, it seemed like the longest week ever.

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As evidenced by the fact that I tried my hardest to “uncork” this screw-off wine top.  (oopsie) But hey, I was on a mission – I was getting in there one way or another.

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I’m not usually one to brag, but I feel like I would be doing the flowers an injustice if I didn’t show the beautiful Valentine’s Day bouquet Kris sent me at work on Friday.  It was a very unique mix of flowers and I really liked the arrangement (communityflower.com coming through clutch).  I used to get really embarrassed about the attention that usually comes with receiving flowers at work, but I seem to have gotten over it real fast. 🙂

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Saturday morning we bundled up and headed into downtown Pittsburgh to run the Cupid’s Chase 5k (check that one off the races to complete in 2015 checklist).  I actually didn’t even check the temperature but I would guess it was in the low 20’s (the warmest it will be here for a couple days) and it was snowing.  To be honest it was a little dangerous… the snow was coming down and the trail was covered so it was a little slick in some places.  But we finished in around 31 minutes and we didn’t even stop to walk once (our best yet)!

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For dinner we decided to try a new-to-us Italian restaurant Sarafino’s.  The restaurant isn’t very big, but we arrived just in time to get a table for two.  The atmosphere was very warm and inviting and it was the first time either of us have gone to a restaurant that is BYOB.  We brought a bottle of pinot noir and started with some warm bread with dipping oil and the goat cheese bruschetta appetizer:

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For my main course I got the “Pasquale’s” – a yummy mix of penne pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, mushrooms, feta cheese, and spinach. (Kris got the “Sarafino’s” and it was delicious as well).

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If you’re looking for a small Italian restaurant that is off the beaten path, I would highly recommend it!

On the agenda today – probably a lot of hibernating and chocolate chip cookies.  It is cold out!!

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yikes!

Valentine’s Day Desserts that Won’t Break the Calorie Bank

This year I am totally one of those people who is all about Valentine’s day; but to be fair I really love any excuse to celebrate.  I know for some of us it is an awesome reason to celebrate our love, and for others it’s a day of some unwanted reminders.  But the one thing that everyone has in common for Valentine’s day is the abundance of sweet treats!  So I bring you a list of different options to enjoy without breaking the calorie bank:

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1. Chocolate covered fruit

Not only is this option healthy, but it’s also super easy.  Step 1 – buy fruit, Step 2 – buy microwaveable dipping chocolate, Step 3 – follow instructions to heat chocolate, Step 4 – dip and put in freezer until dry on a sheet of wax paper.

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2. Chocolate covered pretzels

Repeat same steps as above, but with pretzels.

3. Strawberry shortcake

This one is as simple or difficult as you want to make it. Ingredients: shortcake, strawberries, whipped topping.  If you want to make your own shortcake, here is a great recipe from Cooking Light.  But if you’re short on time, a simple angel food cake from your local grocery store will also do the trick.

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4. Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Full disclosure – I have not made this recipe.  However, it looks delicious and the fact that you don’t need an ice cream maker to make ice cream? I am sold.

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Popsugar.com

5. Strawberry Icebox Cake

I pinned this recipe a while ago, and it looks delicious and light.  The perfect combination

betterbakingbible.com
betterbakingbible.com

6. Rice Krispie Treats with Valentine sprinkles

You can’t really go wrong with this traditional treat.  Add some cute Valentine’s sprinkles and enjoy!

7. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies would be a delicious Valentine’s day snack.  There is never a bad time to make chocolate chip cookies.

Don’t Step in the Lava

Good morning!

Today is a busy one! Breakfast was a yummy whole grain English Muffin with Justin’s vanilla almond butter and a small glass of OJ. (Shocking, I know… you never saw it coming.)

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I guess I may need to switch it up a little bit for the new year.  It’s nearing time for a change, and my almond butter is nearing the bottom of the jar.

I’m rushing around doing some cleaning, last minute shopping, and hoping to squeeze in a run with B. Speaking of the little stinker, she’s been a real help so far this morning (not).

One of my biggest pet peeves is coming home to a messy house, so since today is the big road trip to the great white north, I have a few chores to do. Can you find the little B dog?

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Yep. No help at all.

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I’m pretty sure everyone as a kid played the age old game where the floor is lava.  Am I right? And it was an awesome game.  Well, B has the lava complex (and while it’s comical, it’s not all that awesome).  Yesterday she got herself stuck in the bathroom on the shower mat, because she thought that she couldn’t cross the lava to get to the carpet outside of the bathroom (it’s maybe a 3 ft space). I went downstairs thinking she would just manage to escape on her own, but she sat on that shower mat and whined at me until I came and got her. She is literally her own worst enemy. Once she realizes she has bolted onto an uncarpeted floor she immediately panics and suddenly starts slipping all over the place.  She is lucky she’s so darn cute.

Well I better get to it.  Have a great day!

5 Tips for Holiday Road Trips

Happy Christmas week everyone! I am one of the many that will be packing up and hitting the road this week.  We are spending Christmas in Buffalo with my boyfriend’s family.  This is the first Christmas that I will not be spending with my family and it makes me a little sad, but I’m also very excited to partake in Kris’ family holiday traditions! In honor of my tendency to become alarmingly hangry when my routine is switched up in any way, I thought I would share some tips to prepare for a healthy (and happy) road trip.

1. Eat a real meal before you leave

Especially if you are planning on working out before you hit the road.  There is nothing worse than riding that workout high riiiight until you get in the car and realize you are starving.  And subsequently end up at the McDonald’s drive through ordering a Family Dinner Box. Then hating yourself for the remainder of the trip day.  Make sure you include protein to hold you over for a while.

2. Pack portable snacks!

Pack snacks not just for the road trip but also in case you get hungry during the trip.  That way you know you have something healthy to munch on instead of waiting until you are starving and eating the entire tray of Christmas cookies.  Is there really ever a time that there should not be snacks readily available?  I always keep granola bars, nuts, a banana, or some sort of snack in my bag.  I am so guilty of of being hangry (hungry + angry), and most times there is no warning. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 😡 <—— that’s me.  We watched the Lego movie this weekend and I totally related to Uni-kitty (a little too much), this is me when I’m hungry:

happy.happy.sunshine.rainbows.HANGRY

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Hangry.
Hangry.

3. Prepare your Entertainment

Sometimes when I am sick of the radio I prepare something ahead of time that will keep me entertained and more importantly – awake. Maybe some holiday Christmas music?  The Transiberian Orchestra has an awesome Pandora holiday station.  But if you’re not feeling the music, you can also download an audio book from iTunes.  I did this for a long road trip in October and I loved it.  I am so guilty of almost falling asleep when it gets dark and I’m in the car, so I needed something that would keep my interest.  The only downfall is that you have to download it with wifi, so it takes a bit of preparation. There is also a podcast for just about every interest, which is a great time killer. Also –  I like to stock my kindle before I go anywhere so that I know I will always have entertainment if the need arises.

4. Plan Milestones / Pit Stops

If at all possible, plan ahead for pit stops or milestones in your trip.  Maybe you know there is a Starbucks off of a certain highway exit?  This gives you a chance to stretch your legs, get some caffeine, and have something to look forward to that doesn’t seem as daunting as the final destination.

5. Plan for Workouts

Many times the holidays fly by and it feels like you don’t have a moment to spare.  Sometimes there is just no time to fit in a workout, especially when you are spending time with loved ones that you don’t see very often.  But if you need a little endorphin boost (or a stress reliever), there’s no harm in having a no-equipment workout on hand.  I hate to admit it but I am so much happier when I get in a workout.  Maybe it’s the endorphins?  Maybe it’s a feeling of accomplishment? Maybe there is something wrong with me? But I’m pretty sure I do everyone a favor when I get my butt out of bed a little early to sneak in some sort of physical activity.

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Safe travels!

5 Tips to Stick to Your Budget During the Holidays

Hi there! I know we are deep into the holiday shopping season, but we are certainly not in the clear just yet.  So here are 5 tips to help lesson the blow to your wallet during the most wonderful time of the year.

1. Make a budget.

This may sound like a no brainer, but I have been guilty myself of not making a budget at all.  Then I look at my credit card statement and wonder how all of those “here and there” splurges added up to an astronomical balance. Is there really a reason to buy a Starbucks drink a day just because they have red cups? (yes) Not really. There are tons of holiday traps that we fall into. Every single purchase adds up, no matter how small.

2. Hold yourself accountable

Trust me I can rationalize just about anything.  And I mean anything.  But that doesn’t do me any favors when I’m trying to stick to my budget. No one else is going to pay your credit card statement in January, and I’m betting one of your New Year’s resolutions is to save money, get out of debt, etc. Do yourself a favor, don’t start 2015 in the hole.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

3. Learn how to use Microsoft Excel

The basic functions of Microsoft excel provide everything you need to get your budget started.  Maybe I am partial to Excel because I use it almost daily, but it’s so simple to track just about anything in a spreadsheet. If you are extremely Excel averse, there are also a handful of free apps that can help you as well:

Toshl

Level Money

Mint Personal Finance

4. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it.

OK, the reality is we are all going to do a little shopping for ourselves during the holidays.  Whether we get gift certificates, or can’t resist a cute Christmas decoration or a shirt at the mall (or target).  But hey, that’s what the holidays are for, right?  Splurging a little on your diet and your wallet.  My best advice for both is if you are not absolutely in love with it (aka – if you have to even think twice about it) then do not get it.  Personally, I know when I find “the one” – whether it’s a shirt, a Christmas tree, etc. – but I am still constantly tempted with imposters.  So when it comes to shopping (and food), if I have to even double take – I probably don’t want it that bad, and I will regret the purchase.  Here’s the great part – if I go home and regret not making the purchase (or eating the donut) – guess what?  It will still be there.

5. Use the power of tunnel vision

Don’t venture into the mall without a purpose.  Unless you have budgeted a small shopping spree, it will not end well.  So let’s assume you’re walking in with a purpose (to buy a particular gift for someone?).  Now here is the key – do not forget that purpose!  Don’t even look at that super cute purse that’s staring you down when you walk into Nordstrom’s. Put it on your wish list, and do some research when you get home.

The struggle is real, but stay strong!  We’re almost there.

Eggnog Oatmeal & Ice Skating

Good morning!

It was an early one for me this morning, I really think I have what I like to call “reverse insomnia”.  Once my brain starts going in the morning I can’t make it stop. But trust me I’ll be useless by 8pm tonight.

About a week ago I made an impulse buy at the grocery store when I saw this festive eggnog calling out to me. So I woke up this morning feeling like I wanted to put it to good use, but I also want to use ingredients I already have.  That’s when I came up with this simple and easy Eggnog Oatmeal using the ingredients below, and it really hit the spot:

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I always have oatmeal and frozen berries on hand because they are super healthy and won’t go bad (Dark Sweet Cherries are my favorite)

Eggnog Dark Cherry Oatmeal

-1/2 cup old fashioned oats

– 1 tsp chia seeds

– Dark sweet cherries (as desired)

– Cinnamon (as desired)

– 1/4 c. Eggnog

– 1/2 c. milk (I used almond-coconut milk)

Place oats and chia seeds in a bowl and cover with water (just barely cover). Microwave for 2 minutes on high. Add cherries, cinnamon, and eggnog – if cherries are frozen, stir and microwave for another minute. Add milk and another sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired.  The finished product isn’t exactly beautiful, but I promise it’s delicious.

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I enjoyed mine with a small glass of orange juice and a ton of coffee.

I’m sure this would be good with any fruit combination, and if it’s still not sweet enough for your taste a sprinkle of sugar or honey wouldn’t hurt 🙂

Last night we went ice skating to get into the holiday spirit.  If you are in Pittsburgh and have never visited the outdoor ice arena at market square, I would highly recommend it.  A word of caution – the line was pretty long (we stood in line for about an hour), so it’s best for a night that you don’t have anything else going on.  (But it was also almost 50 degrees yesterday, so maybe that had to do with the high volume of people wanting to get their skate on.) We actually didn’t mind the wait though, there is a concession stand where you could get a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy listening to the Christmas music and absorb the festive atmosphere.

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They were also offering free horse drawn carriage rides and a number of other displays that are open to the public.

I’m hoping today will consist of Christmas decorating and meal planning for the week!

What do you do to get into the holiday spirit?