Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012!

This year has gone by incredibly fast.   I can't believe just about a year ago I was writing my 2012 resolutions and was getting ready to tackle this year.

Although my resolutions didn't all go as planned, I think 2012 was a fantastic year.  I'm thinking 2013 is going to be pretty great, too.  Before I tell you my grand plans for 2013 resolution-wise, I thought we'd look back at some of the highlights of 2012.

1. I ran two half marathons!  Yes, one didn't go as planned, but the other was amazing and I loved every single minute of it.

2.  Each of my family members made it down to DC and some of them made it multiple times.  I had so much fun showing off my city, especially now that I kind of know where I'm going on our Lindsey-guided tours.

Avett Brothers Concert!!

3. I got to see my baby brother graduate from college.  That was cool.

4. I got to go to DISNEY!!!  I'm really sad that it costs so much to get to Disney, play at Disney, and race at Disney.  I would run a race at Disney 5 times a year if I could.

5. Good beer.  There was a lot of beer consumed in 2012.  I discovered a little beer shop near my place with a decent selection, we made it out to Flying Dog quite a few times, and several meals were enjoyed at Dogfish Head Alehouse.  I call that a win.  My nice friend and I went to the Laughs and Drafts festival early in the year which was a lot of fun.  You get to try unlimited beer samples from local breweries all while listening to different comedians perform.  We also discovered the Lost Rhino Brewery, which wasn't quite as colorful as Flying Dog, but was still fun.

6.  I found another great park where Maddux and I walk all the time.  I've had a lot of great runs there, too.

7. I did my first mud run!  It was really cold.  I'm not sure I'll ever do one again, but it's checked off my bucket list, so I'm happy.

8. I ran my first race by myself.  Ok, I've had a couple where I technically was the only one running the race, but I had someone there to cheer me on/hold my stuff.  This one I signed up for by myself and went by myself and actually had a lot of fun.  This is also where I learned about the park from great thing #6.

9. Even though my pup has had some health issues this year, we've had a lot of great times together.  We've had lots of awesome walks and finished our first class together.  We're actually starting up another one in a couple of weeks!

10.  Honestly, the list could go on and on, but I'll end it with the fact that I am ending the year with my family and am so excited for all the things that 2013 has to come.  It's been a really great year, and I couldn't have asked for a better one.

There was a DONKEY at church.  That should have gotten its own number.

I hope you enjoy the last day of the year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sharing is Caring: The Finale

The time has come for my final recipe.  As nice as this Friday tradition has been, it really can't continue because we have officially run out of go to recipes after tonight.  Perhaps in 2013 I will be more adventurous and learn some more, but for now let's work with what we've got.

This recipe originated from the one and only Paula Deen, who has long been one of my idols.  The recipe I started with is found here.  As you can see, Paula is an amazing southern cook who has lots of people willing to come over and eat with her.  I have no need for a soup with two pounds of hamburger, so I adjusted it to fit my single don't wanna get as wide as a house girl needs.

Crock Pot Taco Soup*

Get It:
  • 1 lb hamburger (I use variations of fat...the 93:7 ratio works out fine, I usually just go with what my grocery store has on stock/what's cheapest)
  • 1 can kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 can corn (drained)
  • 2 cans diced tomatos with chilis 
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 packet ranch mix
  • 1/2 can water (eyeball to see how much moisture you need--you don't want your soup to dry out!)
Make It:
Brown the hamburger and drain the grease.  Put hamburger and the rest of the ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours.  That's it.  

*My nice friend says it's taco chili because it's a heartier soup, but whatever.  Paula calls it soup so I call it soup, too.

This soup is one of my favorite meals.  I sometimes top it with cheese or tortilla chips depending on my mood.  I also used it for filling to make stuffed peppers once and it turned out to be really tasty.  

I get that the picture does not look all that appealing.  I promise it's delish.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday!  Maddux tried to convince me to wrap him up and send him out to you, but I love him too much to share.

Happy Friday!!! :-)

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Happy Holiday Weekend

This weekend was amazing.  I've been fighting a bit of a cold, but I didn't let it slow me down.  I ended up running three times this weekend and overall they were pretty good.

Friday I felt like complete crap when I left work, but after a nap I felt ok enough to run a few easy miles.  I find when I have a cold I feel so much better after a run.  I always feel a little less congested.

Saturday started off with a run around the park.  It was a gorgeous day and I knew I couldn't pass up an opportunity to run.  I went to my favorite park and just ran some relaxed miles.  After I took Maddux to see Santa!  Petsmart had pictures the past few weekends and gave half of the proceeds to Petsmart Charities.  It's a fun way to give back even though our picture turned out a little crazy.

After pictures my nice friend came over and we went ice skating!  It was way harder than I remembered.  We ended up skating for about two hours.  I'd call that great winter cross training ;-)  It was definitely a fun date!  You know you have a good boy when he agrees to buy you a peppermint chip shake from Chick-fil-a to refuel.  As my grandma would say, he's a keeper.

After skating I figured I'd give myself a little break on Sunday, but then after running all my errands I was feeling the need to get a few miles in.  May have been from my grande caramel brulee latte.  I ended up running 3.5 miles in about 31 minutes.  I kept bumping up the speed on the treadmill at every song change and it felt good to push myself a little bit.  My legs felt great the whole time and it was nice to have such a great run.

Have a happy week! :-)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sharing is Caring Part 2

I know that my blog has been deceiving lately with all the cooking that has been going on lately, but it's time for our new Fridays in December tradition.  

Today I'm going to share with you my all time favorite cookie recipe.  When I was little my mom used to make these all the time (now she's moved on to peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  Some of us are better at change than others).  I think somewhere down the line it started off as a Nestle Tollhouse recipe, but then got changed around to fit our chocolate loving needs.  Honestly, I'm not sure what part I like better, the dough or the actual cookie.  With oatmeal and dark chocolate being two key ingredients I am sure they are super healthy for you, too ;-)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Get It: 
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup margarine (or butter) softened
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar (mom's recipe calls for it packed, but I usually measure it loose so they aren't quite as sweet)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1.5 cups oats
  • 1 12 oz package of dark chocolate chips (any chocolate will do, but dark is my favorite!)
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla
Make It: 

Preheat your oven to 375.  Combine margarine, brown sugar, eggs and water until creamy.  Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and vanilla.  Eat lots of dough, but don't get salmonella.  Drop by generous spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Enjoy!

I know I've said this before, but I really love these cookies.  They always remind me of fun times in the kitchen with my mom and are perfect for sharing.  It's a really easy recipe to split in half, but I think it's more fun to brighten someone's day by bringing them into work. 

Have a happy weekend!  May it be filled with cookies and smiles :-)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winning the Lottery

Ok, so I didn't really win the lottery, but I DID get an entry into the Nike Women's Half Marathon.  They do it raffle style, so you give them your information and then they randomly pick a few weeks later.  They say it's because so many people want to enter that it's more fair to do it this way, but I have a feeling it's more to add some drama than anything else.  I found it rather amusing that they picked the "winners" on 12/12/12.  Why not add just a touch more drama? ;-)

Random picture of Maddux and me to show how happy we are about this race.

Today I embarked on an epic kitchen journey.  The other day Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers had a recipe round-up and peppermint bark was one of them!  (PS have you seen her gift guide?  I found so many things I want!  If you need any last minute gift ideas, I'd definitely check it out).  

This recipe came together much faster than I expected.  Who knew chocolate hardened so fast?  Also, it's a really easy clean up.  I melted the chocolate in the microwave in bowls that could be put in the dishwasher.  The only thing you really have to hand wash are the rubber spatulas to spread the chocolate and the pan itself.  My kind of cooking!

The link to the recipe I used is here.  I made a few changes (instead of two pounds of bark I only used enough chocolate to make 1.5 pounds.  Darn.  I also used 1.5 tsp of peppermint abstract).  This stuff is so. good.  I only wish I had a chocolate sledge hammer because breaking chocolate is hard work!

My next project will be finding ways to use pumpkin butter.

Happy Thursday! :-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Off to a Good Start

This week has been off to a good start.  I started the week off with a run on the 'mill.  I ran 3.5 miles in about 31 minutes.  I felt like I gave a good effort and it was nice to zone out to Jack's Mannequin and get lost in my thoughts.  The best part? I was excited to run! I thought about it all the way home and there was no mental struggle to get out of the door.  It's always nice when that happens :-)  I even felt good enough to do my normal arm workout after.

Today I decided to do some quick strength training with one of my favorite workout DVDS: Tank Top Arms, Bikini Belly, Boy Short Bottom.  I like this one because it's broken up into a few different sections: arms, abs, legs, or a total body workout.  Each workout is about 15 minutes and you can pick and choose the ones you want to do.  Tonight I just did the 15 minute total body workout and definitely felt the burn.

This DVD is also fun because she says things like "perk up that rear view."
My back is feeling much better, so I'm going to try to get some more workouts in even if they are just quick ones like tonight's.  Goal for the rest of this month: strength moves at least twice a week and drink more water.

Maddux sat next to me on the floor part of my workout to make sure I was doing all my exercises.  I feel like he'll hold me accountable to my goals ;-)

Have a great start to the week :-)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sharing is Caring

As you've probably gathered, my kitchen skills are not all that stellar.  I often stick to my same old recipes.  Cooking for one is hard, and I like recipes that I can don't mind eating all week or can change up the leftovers.  Every once and a while I'll convince my nice friend to come over for "romantic dinner."  On these days I try out recipes that are often more complicated so that in case something goes amiss I don't have quite as many left overs!  On that note I have decided to share my three go-to recipes.  You'll get one every Friday up until Christmas to make it nice and dramatic.  Ready?  Good.

#1: Costume Chicken
(because you can dress it up any way you want to!  Yes, I just made up that name.  It's fine.)

Get It: Boneless chicken, chicken broth

Make It: Put chicken in crock pot and cover with broth (you need enough so that it won't dry out).  Cook on low for 6 hours or until chicken is no longer pink.  When I am short on time I will just boil it covered on my stovetop for ~30-40 minutes.  Same effect, less time.  You just have to watch it because mine tends to boil over.  Oops. 

Dress It: Often I just go ahead and put taco seasoning in the crock pot, too, because I never get tired of chicken tacos/nachos/salad.  Sometimes I will just leave it plain though and add BBQ sauce later.  I've also recently discovered Sizzling Salads by Kraft.  They come with the perfect marinade for a one time dish (don't you hate when you have a ton left over in the bigger bottle and never get around to using the rest?).  Not only does it come with a marinade, but it also comes with a dressing for your salad.  I definitely recommend trying it out.  Super easy and delicious.

This is next in my dinner line up.

See how fun that was?  You're either like me and glad for such an easy, adaptable recipe OR you are feeling really good about yourself because you can cook like Paula Deen with your eyes closed.

Happy weekend!  I'm planning on two outdoor runs since it's supposed to be so nice out!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Already December?! By my resolutions aren't done...

Can it seriously already be December?  It's insane how fast this year has gone by.  I feel like November lasted approximately a week.  

Looking back at my November running, I capped off at about 52.5 miles (this is by my Nike+.  Mind you that it is not always calibrated, BUT it's been pretty darn close lately).  I definitely picked it up this month.  October was a recovery month after having a consistent running plan since May.  

My goal for December is to run between 60-70 miles.  I want to make sure I am ready to start my plan in January for my half marathon training.  I have potentially two coming up at the beginning of 2013 depending on how the Nike Women's Half Marathon random drawing pans out.  

Speaking of goals, now that the year is rapidly closing, I figured I'd take a minute to revisit my 2012 New Year's Resolutions.  

  • Run 2 Half Marathons: Check!  I ran the Rock n' Roll DC in March and the Crawlin' Crab Half in October.  Although only one of those races was enjoyable, both still happened.  I MAY bump it up to 3 for 2013.  We shall see ;-)
  • PR in a 15k: Nope. Larry Noel was the only one I found that I could do.  Remember how well that one went?
  • Take a Spin Class.  Take a Yoga Class: How this one failed so far blows my mind.  I honestly had plans to attempt them this summer.  And then summer was gone.  I also feel weird about getting the free week gym pass knowing that I have no intention of joining the gym...
  • Take Maddux to Dog Class: Check!  Mad Dog has been doing great on our walks!  It's still a work in progress, but I have plans to sign him up for the next step of Reactive Dog in 2013.
Please, I was on the Honor Roll.

  • Go on a Picnic: I have this really cute picnic set and it got it's debut this summer!  My nice friend and I took Maddux on a nice walk around the lake and ended the evening with a picnic.  
  • Visit Sugar Loaf Winery: This has not happened yet either, but maybe I can squeeze this one in quick before 2012 is officially gone.  How did the wine one not get checked off?!
So that's where we stand there.  Not bad considering it was my first year actually making resolutions.  

Running has been relaxed so far this week.  I ran about 3.5 miles at the park yesterday at about a 9:30 pace.  That's one of my fastest outdoor runs in a while so I'll take it.  It was good because I was down in the dumps after my family left and a helping of endorphins was just what I needed to boost my spirits.  I took tonight off because my back has been hurting lately (weird??), but I plan on doing some cross training tomorrow and doing at least 4 miles on Wednesday.  

Have a happy week!  

Sunday, December 2, 2012


The past week has been another whirlwind, but I've enjoyed every minute of it!  On Thursday my sister came down to visit.  Her best friend was going to be in the area for a conference so we made plans to spend as much time with him as possible before he had to head home.  Apart from eating some great food, I also got to show them some of the highlights of DC.

I love Zoo Lights!  And donkeys.
We definitely were on the go a lot, and honestly, it's been really hard to get some decent runs in.  I made the decision to push my training plan back a month and sadly, the Runner's World holiday streak has come to an end for this girl.  When I started my training plan, it was the week of Thanksgiving.  It worked out ok because my family is really understanding when I need to head out for a little bit for a run and I had quite a few days to spend with them.  Coming home from Thanksgiving I started to get stressed.  I got really anxious thinking of how I was going to get everything done and I realized I wasn't going to be able to enjoy anything if I was constantly stressing over the holiday season.  The holidays are a time where you should enjoy your family and not worry so much over other aspects of life.  Now that I don't see my family that often, I wanted to make sure I was enjoying every second I could with them, not sitting there figuring out when I can squeeze a run in.  

Yesterday my sister and I woke up early for one last breakfast with her friend and then my parents and nice friend came to head over to the Flying Dog Brewery for a tour.  Could I have woken up earlier to get a run in?  Sure.  Could I have left my parents for a few minutes to get my running streak mile in? Yeah, I could have.  It all comes down to priorities and spending as much time as possible with the family came first.  Ultimately, I'm feeling good about my decision to enjoy my holiday running when I can and then really hitting the ground running (see what I did there?) in January.     

I still plan to try to get some more consistent running in so when I do officially start my plan back up again it's not a complete shock to my body.  I also plan to embrace this time of year (even when it means curling up in bed with a book and hot chocolate when it gets dark at 5:00 instead of hitting the treadmill).  I'm feeling refreshed and ready to end 2012 right.