Aug 30, 2013

Trying New Things (#TNT): Foodie Pen Pals (August Reveal Day!)

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Hi darlins'! It's great to see ya here!

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I stumbled across this amazing little thing a few weeks ago called Foodie Pen Pals and it's the brainchild of one of my favorite bloggers, Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean.

Here's a quick explanation of what Foodie Pen Pals is:
1. Sign up here by the 4th of the month to receive your pen pal pairing.
2. Get in touch with who you will be sending your package to and find out their address, food restrictions, etc.
3. Fill the box with fun foodie things (local, homemade or otherwise). Keep within the $15 spending limit!
4. Mail your box by the 15th of the month and share the details of what YOU received on reveal day (for August, that's today!)

The best part is that anyone in the U.S. or Canada (blogger or otherwise) can participate!

So, without further ado, here's what my 1st ever Foodie Pen Pal sent to me in August...
I can't tell you how happy I was to get home from a couple long weeks of traveling (see here and here) to see that my package had arrived! When I opened my box from Jo & Hungry Quebbie I was totally blown away. She lives in VA and all of the goodies she sent are things produced near her locally (her handwritten note was so sweet).

The first item I tried was the bag of Chesapeake Crab Route 11 Potato Chips, the flavor was salty & spicy (exactly what I've been craving lately), I loved them!
On our drive up to Indiana the next day, Matt happily helped me devour the ever-so-decadent Old Dominion double-dipped peanuts as I thumbed through the edible Blue Ridge magazine. I've never had a strong desire to own my own cocktail shaker, but I think this magazine has changed my mind...
The most interesting thing Jo sent was a small bag of Old Dominion Bar-B-Q Peanut Squares. I can honestly say that I've never tasted anything like these little treats before, but there were salty and BBQ flavored so naturally I thought they were incredible.
I haven't had the chance to crack open the jar of Tastes Like Grandma's salsa yet (we've had a couple other open jars to polish off), but we definitely pulled out the Bone Doctors' BBQ sauce and enjoyed it with a great batch of baked onion rings the other night. It was so yummy!!

I can't thank Jo enough for all the goodies she sent, she has really made me fall in love with this program :)

I'll be signing up for next month today, and I encourage y'all to join in the fun too!
The Lean Green Bean
Thanks for reading!

Aug 29, 2013

Thursday Tips: Turn Around a Bad Day

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We've all been there. Some days, for whatever reason, everything you have to do just seems so daunting. Never mind the reality, that perception alone is enough to completely suck the energy & happiness out of my day.

Yesterday was one of those days for me. (Luckily, I had a little help!)

Tip 1 (advice I took from my genius friend, Sabrina @ Lit Laugh Love)
Look at Inspirational/Motivational Quotes

Here are some of my favorites:

Tip 2
When I pound out the miles it just clears away all my frustrations.

Tip 3
Enjoy something "girly"

For me, it was drinking a strawberry, banana and peach vanilla protein smoothie post-workout... and adding a few drops of red food coloring to make it a really pretty pink color. I then proceeded to enjoy said smoothie with copious amounts of Downtown Abbey :)

Strawberry, Banana, Peach Vanilla Protein Smoothie
1 c. frozen fruit (I used a Dole blend of strawberries, bananas and peaches)
3/4 c. plain non-fat yogurt
1/2 scoop vanilla muscle milk protein powder
add ice to desired thickness (I ended up adding too much ice so I diluted it with a dash of water)

Blend & Devour!

Tip 4
Read something just for fun.

This morning I was gifted the September issue of Real Simple (a happy thing in and of itself!) -- I took a quiet moment to flip through it and mark some articles that looked interesting. You'll never know what you'll find in a mag that will brighten your day! A perfect example is that I saw an article talking how light green was the "on trend" transitional nail color to wear. Wouldn't you know, I gave myself a pedi a couple days ago in exactly that shade!

Thanks for reading!

What are some things you do to brighten your bad days?

Aug 28, 2013

Blueberry Chocolate Protein Smoothie

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The other night I concocted a fun & fruity MONSTER protein smoothie for dinner and I enjoyed it ever so much that I thought I'd share the recipe...

Blueberry Chocolate Protein Smoothie
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 c. plain non-fat yogurt
1 c. frozen blueberries
2 Tbsp. whole flax meal
add ice to desired thickness

Mix these up in a blender and enjoy! Easy, right?

...and if you're interested, here are my other eats from Monday:
Breakfast: 3-egg scramble with red bell pepper & onions

Snack #1: a single serving of blood orange Chobani yogurt (my new favorite flavor!)

Lunch: a heaping bowl of steamed cut green beans served with chopped up chicken and roma tomatoes

Snack #2: a big handful of roasted & salted pistachios (i'm addicted)

Dinner: the fabulous smoothie described above!

Thanks for reading, and Happy What-I-Ate-Wednesday!

Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla protein powder? It just depends on my mood, but I more frequently use vanilla protein powder in my smoothies.

Aug 27, 2013

Chipotle Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp, Baked Onion Rings & a Cocktail

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Over the weekend, Matt & I fixed up a mighty fine meal and I'm so excited to share these deliiiish recipes with y'all!

Chipotle Lime Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp
via Simple Recipes

12 large, raw, peeled and deveined shrimp
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Zest from 1 lime
Juice from one lime (~2 Tbsp.)
1 tsp. of chipotle powder
6 strips of bacon, cut in half (12 pieces)
skewers (for grilling)

Mix together the lime zest, lime juice, olive oil and chipotle powder in a small bowl. Toss the shrimp in the lime chipotle mixture until every piece is well coated.

Spread the bacon pieces out in between paper towels on a microwave safe plate. Microwave on high for ~ 1 and 1/2 minutes.

Prepare grill on high, direct heat. If using wood skewers, soak in water for at least 30 seconds.

Working one at a time, wrap a half piece of microwaved bacon around each piece of shrimp. Thread the bacon-wrapped shrimp onto water-soaked skewers and brush remaining lime chipotle mixture on the outside of the bacon-wrapped shrimp.

Grill uncovered for 5 to 7 minutes on each side until shrimp is pink and the bacon is crisp.

Oven "Fried" Onion Rings
via my friend, Mr. Bijoy. (He's like amazing at this kind of stuff)
What ya need:
2 medium sweet vidalia onions, cut into 1/2 inch slices and separated into rings
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of fine red chili powder (cayenne will suffice)
1/2 cup of non-fat plain yogurt
1 egg
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of crushed kettle-cooked potato chips
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Ok, so:
Preheat your oven to 450ºF. Now, take two medium to large bowls and, in the first one, combine 1/4 cup of flour, salt, pepper and red chili powder. In the second, combine the yogurt, egg and 1/4 cup of flour and whisk until a smooth batter is formed. This batter should be about the consistency of a loose pancake batter. If it’s too watery/loose add 1 tablespoon of additional flour. Grab a third bowl and put your crushed chips in it. Be sure that the chips are fairly finely crushed. Put parchment paper on a baking sheet and drizzle it with the oil. Throw the baking sheet in the hot oven for 2-4 minutes. While the baking sheet is heating, begin the ring-assembly process.

One-by-one, dredge the onion in the dry flour mixture, then the batter, then the chips, making sure to get an even coat with each dip. Arrange them on the hot baking sheet evenly and cook for 8 minutes. Remove the baking sheet form the oven and flip the rings. Return the sheet to the oven and bake for another 8 minutes. Now sprinkle the salt on top and serve hot!
we will definitely be repeating this recipe!
The Cheerful Hippy
This is one of my own creations, I hope you like it! The watermelon was a last minute add, but it tasted sooo good!

1 part Viral Lolli vodka
4 parts Organic Raspberry Lemonade
2 sprigs of fresh Mint Julep
Fresh watermelon

Serve on the rocks.

Thanks for reading!

What new recipes have you tried & loved lately?

Which recipe above looks the best to you?

Aug 26, 2013

Thrifting, Cooking & Running

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Here are a few things that took my weekend to the next level:

1. A HIGHLY lucrative day of thrifting...

Any day you can score one of your favorite board games, an essential part of your halloween costume & pretty much double your count of office appropriate dresses = uuhhmazing

2. A magical grilling/baking/mixology-filled dinner Saturday night (recipe details coming soon!)...

3. Making it through my long run on Sunday...

Really didn't feel like running yesterday -- did it anyway. It was a semi-brutal reminder that I definitely need to wake up earlier for long runs when it's gonna be hot day!

Thanks for reading and I hope y'all have a marvelous Monday!

What's your favorite dish to cook on the grill? My favorite so has been Pepper Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Chicken Bites & Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce

One of the dresses pictured above is from BCBG MAXAZARIA (I jumped on it for just $7!), can you guess which one??

Aug 24, 2013

One Song Workouts, Questionable Purchases and New Music

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Happy Weekend! Today started off with my favorite coffee (in my fave mug) from Dunkin' Donuts with french vanilla creamer and a dash of cinnamon :)
Hoosier Kelley Pride!
Did you know you can share secret boards on Pinterest?? My sisters & I discovered this factoid recently and have been having a lot of fun with it; sharing random pictures of daily life, dinners we make, recipes we want to try etc. We named the board 'Sister Secrets', I highly suggest you try it with a close group of friends or family!

The other day one of my sister's pinned something about 'One Song Workouts' to our board and suggested that I try it and blog about it. I thought, sure how hard could that be? Boy, I didn't know what I was getting myself into, here is the link to what my sister pinned.

My first attempt was something of a failure, I only made it about 80% of the way through the workout for Icona Pop's "I Love It" by the time the 2:37 song ended. No matter! I just attribute that to lack of preparation. I'm going to get familiar with the workouts and songs, make printout of the moves and try again next week on my cross training day so look for that recap coming your way.

On another note, I've been trying to validate purchasing Cholula in bulk this morning on Amazon Prime. Haven't made peace with the decision yet, but it's just so very, very tempting...

Last night, Matt & I went and listened to live music with some friends (this is Nashville after all) and discovered a couple new artists that are FANTASTIC! We really loved the opener, a singer/songwriter from Tulsa, OK named John Moreland. The headliner was cool as well, this really tiny speck of a thing with a spooky set of pipes named Amanda Shires. Here are a couple of their songs that we loved:

John Moreland - God's Medicine

Amanda Shires - Swimmer

That's all for now y'all. We're off to grocery shop in a bit. Tonight, we're making some magic on the grill (think Chipotle Lime Shrimp with Bacon) and then heading downtown to watch the Titans play Atlanta (whoop whoop!).

Thanks for reading & have a wonderful day!

Aug 23, 2013

Baked Ham & Onion Potato Rounds

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The other night I saw this bag of red potatoes in the pantry that were just begging to be used, 30 minutes later this was the end result:

I have to say, these were incredibly simple to make. First, set oven to pre-heat to 375 F and slice potatoes into rounds of about equal width.

Add the potato rounds to cold, salted water and bring to a boil for ~5 minutes.

Carefully drain the potatoes, then lay out on a paper towel and pat dry.

Once dry, arrange rounds in an overlapping fashion on a greased baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and season with salt 'n' pepper to taste. Then add ham, onion and cheese toppings.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and delicious looking! Let cool, and enjoy.

I served mine with an over medium egg, it was quite a tasty combo!

6 small red potatoes
sliced ham (i used a brown sugar deli sliced variety)
chopped onion
sharp shredded cheddar cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer)
kosher salt
ground black pepper
cooking spray/olive oil


Set oven to pre-heat to 375 F

Slice potatoes into rounds of about equal width. Add the potato rounds to cold, salted water and bring to a boil for ~5 minutes. Carefully drain the potatoes, then lay out on a paper towel and pat dry. Once dry, arrange rounds in an overlapping fashion on a greased baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and season with salt 'n' pepper to taste. Then add ham, onion and cheese toppings. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and delicious looking. Let cool, and enjoy!

Would you add/subtract any toppings to/from this recipe? I wish I would have had bacon! Also, next time I think I'll swap out the cooking spray I used for olive oil.

What's your favorite way to eat potatoes? I love the breakfast potato cakes that are made from leftover well-seasoned mashed potatoes!

Thanks for reading!

Aug 22, 2013

Liebsters are for Lovers

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liebsteraward Liebster Award Nomination Aka: Blogging Love
So one of my newly-found favorite bloggers, Emily at Gathering Green, nominated me the other day for a Liebster award. I discovered her blog through a Greatist article and instantly took a liking to her because of our shared love for a certain little book of happiness :)

I had never heard of Liebster awards before this week, but I'm totally flattered that Emily thought of me and I'm happy to join the fun and play along!

For those of you also in the dark about Liebster Awards, here's the deal:

The Liebster Award is a survey to tag and promote the smaller bloggers in the blogsphere. Once you’ve been nominated, you in turn nominate other blogs to continue the trend.  After receiving the nomination each blogger must:

1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger (check! thanks Emily!!)
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself (see below)
3. Answer 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you (see below)
4. Nominate 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers.They should be bloggers that you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers that you nominated to answer
6. Let all of the bloggers know that they've been nominated. You cannot nominate the blogger that nominated you.

11 Random Facts About Me

1. My family is HUGE.
2. I have zero desire to snowboard... like ever.
3. My teeth are extra prone to getting cavities. :(
4. I'm a closet thespian. In high school, I was a National Semi-Finalist and Finalist "Speechie" in Prose, Poetry & Dramatic Interpretation. (Here's an example of what this type of performance looks like).
5. I can read & speak Hindi.
6. My first dog's name was Boots. I named him that because his paws were white and he was black everywhere else.
7. My ancestry is primarily French and Swiss. Kudos to my mom for being such a great genealogist!
8. A couple of years ago, I had an semi-intense blonde highlighting phase. It was bizarre for me, but I loved the experiment.
9. During my last half marathon, I listened to an audio book of 'A Feast for Crows' for the entire run.
10. My all-time favorite actress is Audrey Hepburn. I have seen every one of her movies.
11. I love McDonald's Chicken McNuggets. I can't help it.

11 Questions from Gathering Green

Planes, trains, or automobiles? I prefer travelling in my own car. I find a lot of happiness in riding with the windows down and sunroof open,  throwing on a pair of aviators and singing my favorite songs at the top of my lungs.
Ice cream or fro yo? I love the guilt-free factor of fro yo, plus it tastes amazing!
What is your favorite exercise/physical activity? (biking, running, hiking, etc) Running, but hiking is a close second.
Lake or beach?  Why? Lakes. I grew up on them!
What was one of your favorite toys growing up? My Geo Safari (nerd alert)
What is the most exciting place you have visited? (country, city, somewhere down the street, anywhere) Italy! The most romantic country on Earth!
What is your favorite coffee or tea drink? Coffee with french vanilla creamer and a dash of cinnamon is one of my go-to beverages
What is your favorite day of the week and why? In the past, I've thought Friday was my favorite day (since it's the start of the freakin' weekend and all), but more and more I find myself loving quiet, relaxing Sundays.
Are you a morning or night person? Morning!
What is your favorite kind of granola bar? I'm not a fan of granola bars, I prefer to snack on raw fruits/veggies.
You’re going out to dinner, which type of restaurant would you prefer: Italian, Mexican or Chinese/Japanese? Italian. Pizza is my favorite food (and pasta ain't too bad either!).

11 Bloggers I nominate
Note: I gave myself wiggle room with the 200 follower limit, all blogs deserve a lil' love! 

Hungry Quebbie
Lit Laugh Love
The Little Honey Bee
The Lyons' Share Wellness
Long Drive Journey
Spike Green Smoothie
Clean Eating Veggie Girl
Strength & Sunshine
Fruit 'N' Fitness
Avocado Athlete

11 Questions for the nominated blogs
A note to these bloggers: Please don't feel obligated to dedicate an entire post for this, feel free to answer in the comments or not at all, I totally understand it may not fit your blogging agenda! Just trying to keep the blog love train rolling :)

Do you prefer morning, afternoon or evening workouts?
Who would play you in a movie?
If you could, what piece of advice would you give to your 16 year old self?
What's a food you have never tried, but would like to?
Are you a hat person?
Who are your 2 favorite bloggers right now?
What's your favorite fitness app?
How many pairs of running shoes do you own?
Do you have any superstitions?
If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
What are you reading?

Thanks for reading! Feel free to pick one, a few or all of the questions above and let me know your answers in the comments!

Aug 21, 2013

fuel for running

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My legs may feel pretty ragged this morning, but I couldn't be happier that I'm staying on track with my marathon training plan! On Monday, I got ambitious and squatted my little heart out (completed 200 squats after weeks of not doing any, eek!) and then yesterday I willed myself to run the 6 miles on my training calendar since I swapped the 7 miles I had planned to do on Sunday for a shorter, 3 mile run. On the agenda tonight is a 3-mile, race pace run.

On to the food! The meals below are from this Monday:

Breakfast: two full eggs and 1/2 an avocado
Snack #1: a bowl of green, seedless grapes
Lunch: steamed broccoli, a vine-ripened tomato and 1/2 an avocado
Snack #2: a cucumber and a yellow pepper
Dinner: a super spicy breakfast burrito: eggs, red & green bell peppers, onion, jalapeño and chicken served with hot sauce

What is your favorite hot sauce? Cholula

Do you eat smaller or larger meals post-workout? I tend to save my appetite for a large dinner or lunch rather than snacking immediately after.

Happy What-I-Ate-Wednesday! Thanks for reading!!

Aug 20, 2013

7 Things for Tuesday

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My lucky number has always been 7, so here are 7 random things that are making today just a little bit more terrific. Enjoy!

1. I got my 1st ever Foodie Pen Pal package in the mail! There are soooo many goodies in there from Jo @ Hungry Quebbie! I won't spoil anything, but she sure did knock my socks off! Mad props to Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean for putting together such a great social concept.
The Lean Green Bean

2. Eggs & Avocados for days. It's been wonderful to be home to grocery shop again and eat my favorite staple foods.
3. Crying & Baseball. Last night, there WAS crying in baseball. Not only did the movie 42 bring me to tears on several occasions, the extra extra spicy breakfast burritos Matt concocted made even more tears well up (and also briefly allowed us to breathe fire). It's a good thing we had some good ol' Jackalope Bearwalker Maple Brown to combat the flames and serve as dessert!

4. Not Flaking on Training. I've kept up a really nice drumbeat of running consistently this month. A positive attitude & great playlists have really kept me on top of my marathon training!
5. Wearing Pastels. I decided to put on a bright, robin's egg blue top this morning. Fact: It's difficult to be in anything but a good mood when I'm wearing happy colors.

6. Perks of Giving Back. Aside from the warm and fuzzies I get from contributing to the United Way and lining up to volunteer for the Nashville Humane Association, last night I was able to create a DIY workout tank from one of my previous Brew at the Zoo volunteer shirts. That's right, I'm a certified Pour 'N' Star :)
7. Flags. We have a new neighbor from Louisiana and she set up this adorable little Fleur de Lis flag in one of our building's outdoor flower pots. It's inspiring Matt & I to follow suit and plant our own little Hoosier pride flag in the adjoining flower pot!

That's all for today, thanks for reading!

Aug 19, 2013

Glad to Be Back

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In the past 11 days I've driven round trip to vacation in FL, flown north to Boston for work, trained it to NYC, flew back briefly to Nashville and then drove to Indiana and back with Matt this weekend to visit some more of our family. Woof. A lot of travel, but it was worth it to see a ton of our favorite people!

Scenes from Boston & NYC...

I really enjoyed our trip up to Indiana over the weekend, I can't ever get enough time with my folks! On Saturday, we drove to the Indiana Downs horse racing track, joined in on a little gambling fun (I was quickly reminded of why I don't gamble) and celebrated with a buffet dinner and plenty of cake for my Grandpa's 80th birthday!

Sunday was very chill. We spent a little time over donuts with Matt's dad in the morning followed by brunch-time fun with my family. My niece & nephew, Sophia & Daniel, are the cutest planking babes I've ever seen!

To be sure, the last two weeks have been a wonderful whirlwind, but I won't lie... it feels so good on this lovely Monday to be back home and in the swing of things! I hope y'all have a marvelous start to your week!!

82 days until the Nashville Marathon Presented by Hard Rock Cafe Supporting United Way