Yo! Take a Break Girl

I’m going to be straight with you guys…

Today felt like one of the most boring days I’ve had in a long time.

I only had a few errands I needed to run, but I had absolutely 0% desire to do anything else…or any extra housework, for that matter.

It almost kind of reminded me of when I had one of those weird days back a while ago.

Hmmph.

At one point, I decided to sit down and really devote some time to reading my book…but within about 15 minutes, I could feel my eyes getting super droopy and before I knew it, I felt the overwhelming urge for a nap.

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So that’s exactly what I did…for about 45 minutes. I know I’ve told you guys before that I’m really not much of a napper, so when it happens, I assume it’s just my body’s way of telling me, “Yo, take a break, girl.”

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I woke up feeling much more refreshed but regretted not having gone outside to nap so I could have enjoyed some sunshine.

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It’s a beautiful one out there today! And oh yeah, do you like our new screen door? Now Cody can finally sit and enjoy the breeze again, since we lost our old sliding door in the kitchen remodel.

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What a life, I’ll tell ya.

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There’s another softball game tonight, so I prepped myself an early, but totally awesome dinner, thanks to Tuesday’s leftovers.

BBQ Pulled Chicken + a toasted Arnold Artisan Ovens Multi-Grain Flatbread for dipping

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A corn, tomato, & basil salad made with one leftover ear of corn, a small tomato, 2 basil leaves, and a drizzle of Italian dressing. It was sooooooo good!

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Definitely the best thing I ate all day. Smile

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Now I’m off to the game!

I wonder if I can convince Jay to make a pit stop at my favorite local ice cream place on the way home. Hmmmmm…… Winking smile

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A couple reminders…

  • It’s your last chance to get in on the Saratoga Peanut Butter Co. online coupon code! 5% off any order over $20.00, with the discount code “sweet“ entered at checkout!
  • Still in need of some 4th of July Recipe Ideas? Check out this post with great savory and sweet treats!

Question for the Evening:

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten today?

Help Raise Up To $10,000 For Girls For A Change

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The following is a post sponsored by Yahoo! Every time someone clicks here to make Yahoo! their homepage, they’re showing their support for Girls For A Change.

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

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Have you ever sat and thought, “Man, I really wish there was more I could do to help out ‘abc…’ or ‘xyz…’” but you don’t have the time/money/resources?

I often feel that way, as there are so many wonderful charities and organizations out there that deserve extra support. One of those organizations is Girls For A Change; and lucky for us, we all have a major opportunity on our hands…

We can help raise up to $10,000 for Girls For A Change by simply making Yahoo! our browser’s homepage.

First, let me fill you in a bit on GFC…

Girls For A Change (GFC) is a national organization that empowers girls to create social change. They invite young women to design, lead, fund and implement social change projects that tackle issues that many girls face right in their own neighborhoods.

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GFC empowers girls for personal and social transformation. The program inspires girls to have the voice, ability and problem solving capacity to speak up, be decision makers, create visionary change and realize their full potential.”

“Great! So what can I do to help?”

Right now, Yahoo! will donate $10 to Girls For A Change (GFC) for each person who clicks here to make Yahoo! his/her homepage by June 30th (today!)…up to an amazing $10,000!

To do so, simply go to this link and follow the instructions. It’s important that you use that specific link, since that will be the only way that Yahoo! can track users who change their homepage.

I’ve already gone ahead and made the change. It’s quick, simple, and will make a difference for something I support!

So who’s going to join me??

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Lunch

Wow…I think this had to be my thickest smoothie on record. So much so, in fact, that it called for my first ever Smoothie Bowl. Smile

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Today’s Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie Bowl consisted of:

  • 1 small frozen banana
  • 5 strawberries
  • ~1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 scoop Chocolate Whey Protein Powder
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp strawberry extract (<—so awesome!)
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (for thickening…and boy did it work!)
  • 1 big handful spinach

Of course, I couldn’t help but top it off with some more Love Grown Foods granola.

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And I also made sure to eat it with my favorite coffee mug spoon.

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Small spoon = longer lasting smoothie bowl. Winking smile

Questions for the Afternoon:

What organizations/charities do you strongly believe in and/or support?

Have you ever heard of Girls For a Change?

4th of July Recipe Ideas

Would you guys believe that I’m still sore today from Monday’s BodyCombat class?

Seriously. I mean, I’m not complaining; I love knowing that I got such a great workout. But I never thought a 45 minute kickboxing class would leave me sore three days later. Apparently I haven’t been working as many muscles as I thought up in there. Sheesh!

That being said, I was a little nervous about how this morning’s BodyPump class would go, but luckily everything worked out smoothly and it ended up being a great class. I followed things up with an easy 15 minutes on the elliptical before heading back home to shower up and make some breakfast.

I think after writing up last night’s post with my cereal combo bowl, there was really no way of getting around it today. I had to have one!

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In the mix:

What’s missing:

  • Chia seeds…darn it!

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Along with a little iced coffee action…

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Always a winning combo. Smile

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Going to a BBQ? Here’s some 4th of July Recipe Ideas!

So if your schedule is anything like mine, then you may have some party plans coming up for the holiday weekend. I’m still working on making up my list of what to make, so here are some recipe ideas that I may end up using…and maybe you could, too!

Creamy Fruit & Tortellini Salad

Want to make it festive? Just use the red & blue fruits..strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries!

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Healthier Guacamole

You can eat boatloads of this without feeling guilty! (Well, at least I do) Winking smile

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Roasted Eggplant & Feta Dip

This recipe is awesome…and I had totally forgotten about it!

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And of course…we can’t forget the SWEETS!

Stars & Stripes Sugar Cookie Cake

One of my favorite sugar cookie + frosting combinations…it’s amazing!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups with Almond Buttercream Frosting

Just go ahead and make your frosting red…or blue…or BOTH!

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Neapolitan Cupcakes with Ice Cream Frosting

You could always skip the chocolate layer and just dye it blue to make a festive red, white, and blue cupcake!

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Soda Cupcakes

Always a hit…and so many flavors to choose from! Just top with your favorite frosting.

Hopefully now you’ve got some ideas in case you didn’t have any before! Winking smile

Questions for the Morning:

Are you doing any cooking/baking this weekend? (You betcha!)

What do you typically like to contribute to parties/bbq’s? (<—Dessert for me!)

Are you “known” to always bring a certain dish? (<—I’m the sweets gal!)

Let’s Be Random

I’ve gotta tell you guys, I love reading all of your comments from this afternoon’s post about the fun indulgences you’d splurge on with your endless supply of money. If you haven’t weighed in yet, make sure to check out the discussion, it’s a fun one!

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Earlier today while catching up on my Google Reader, I noticed that the lovely Colleen had tagged me in a fun little game of answering some random questions.

So I figured that since I have a softball game tonight and will most likely be eating leftovers of last night’s dinner, tonight would be the perfect night to have another little “Get To Know Me” session.

Heeeere weeee goooo…!

What is your favorite cartoon character?

I always loved Chuckie Finster from the Nickelodeon show, Rugrats. Too cute.

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What is your favorite thing to photograph?

That would probably have to be Cody. Smile

CODY!

What is your favorite thing to cook?

I think you all know that I’d much rather bake, but if I had to choose one, it would have be anything Italian and/or with red sauce. Such as…

Cheesy Marinara Veggie Stacks or Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, & Cheese

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Homemade Sauce & Meatballs, and of course, Sensational Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

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What is your favorite way to exercise?

Any way that allows me to break a sweat (although not always) and have some FUN at the same time. HIIT, BodyPump, Yoga…I like it all!

What is your favorite movie?

Might have to go with Forgetting Sarah Marshall on this one. That movie makes me laugh every.time. I see it!

What is your favorite article of clothing?

It depends on my mood. Some days, it’s my cozies…other days, it’s sundresses (so easy breezy!)

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What is your favorite flower?

Definitely calla lilies, which is why I had to include them in my wedding.

What is your favorite breakfast?

For the day to day, probably have to be a cereal combo bowl.

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But for a splurge, it’s Red Raspberry Oatmeal Pancakes from Café Madison. YUM!

What is your favorite book(s)?

I’m a big fan of Jodi Picoult and Emily Giffin…I loved Something Borrowed & Something Blue.

Now, it’s your turn!

Question for the Evening:

What are your answers to any (or ALL!) of the questions from above?

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**FYI**

Endless Money Supply

Sometimes, I wish I had an endless supply of money at my disposal.

“Ummm, Courtney, I’m pretty sure the rest of the universe is in the same boat as you…”

Alright alright, sure, we could all use a little extra money every now and then, right? But earlier this morning, as I was picking away at the remnants of my shellac manicure and wishing I could just go and get another one, I couldn’t help but think about how nice it would be to have some extra spending cash on hand to do things like that.

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Yes, that’s what they looked like almost three weeks ago. This is what they look like now…

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But honestly, up until yesterday, they still looked just as good as the first day, just a bit grown out. You’re actually supposed to go back to the salon and have the manicure “soaked off,” but I, umm, am lazy and have been picking mine off. Woops.

So anyways…I got to thinking about more about that endless supply of money and the little things I would splurge on a daily/weekly/monthly basis:

  • Weekly mani/pedi appointments
  • Monthly massages & facials
  • Daily iced coffees from Dunkin’ Donuts, Flavour Café, or Starbucks 
  • A cleaning service
  • A personal chef who would cook me a gourmet meal twice a week
  • A personal trainer (I want someone to seriously kick my butt!)
  • Someone to mow my lawn and pull weeds
  • Someone who will put away all my laundry once it’s clean (my least favorite part!)

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That was fun! But before I sound too needy or greedy…let’s move on to lunch, shall we? It was a good one.

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Considering yesterday’s goodie package of Love Grown Foods granola, I couldn’t resist not digging in today. I paired more of the Raisin Almond Crunch flavor with a vanilla Chobani, strawberries and blueberries.

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I guess I’m already gearing up for the holiday weekend? Smile

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Along with my yogurt bowl, I enjoyed some carrot sticks and a leftover corn muffin which was still as amazing as ever. I really think I have a cornbread problem…do they make AA for that? Would it be called CA? Maybe CLA (Cornbread Lovers Anonymous)?

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Geez, I can be such a tool.

Question for the Afternoon…going along with the beginning of this post:

If you had an endless supply of spending money, what daily/weekly/monthly indulgences would you splurge on?

How Do You Eat Your Ear?

Hey everyone! Thanks a bunch to those of you who helped me feel a little less ridiculous about being sad over my bittersweet goodbye yesterday. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who can get attached to a motor vehicle.

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Well, last night’s dinner was awesome. We had a great time with Joe & Kate and ate some great food.

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The Pulled BBQ Chicken turned out perfectly, and we still have tons of leftovers (WOOO!). I passed on eating my pulled chicken as a sandwich…

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so I could double up with two homemade corn muffins topped with a little butter. I don’t know what it is about cornbread/muffins, but I’m just in love with them.

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I also cooked up some corn on the cob which was pretty decent, once again, for it being early in the season.

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I always think it’s so fun to see how other people eat their corn on the cob. It seems like there’s so many different ways that people go about it! I eat my corn in straight rows, 4-5 rows of kernels at a time.

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How do you eat YOUR ear…of corn on the cob?

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My morning has been a bit thrown off due to the fact that Jay is still sleeping, thanks to a massive headache he’s trying to get rid of. Since I had plans to get up and hit the treadmill for some HIIT (and we all remember my dilemma with the early morning treadmill usage), I decided to hold off and let him sleep.

So while I’m waiting, I figured I’d make some breakfast.

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With a side of fetch and iced coffee, of course. Winking smile

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Would you believe that I cut up this honeydew melon yesterday, and it’s already starting to get that tangy, almost going bad taste? I hate when that happens…but luckily, it was still alright this morning. Now I just need to figure out what to do with the rest of it before it goes bad???

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Today’s English Muffin was the bomb. Yep, the bomb.

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Not only because it was topped with half peanut butter, half low fat pb spread, banana slices, and chia seeds…oh no.

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It was the bomb because do you SEE what’s baked right into my muffin?

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Raisins!

I picked up a package of these Thomas’ Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins yesterday on sale at the grocery store, and had been waiting to dig in ever since. The muffins are soft and chewy, and the plump raisins baked right inside totally rocked my socks.

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Delicious I tell you…simply delicious.

I’m sure they’d taste just as awesome with some of my favorite Blizzard Butter, too! Don’t forget…you only have until tomorrow if you want to get in on my Saratoga Peanut Butter Co. discount!

5% off any order over $20.00, with the discount code “sweet“ entered at checkout!

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Alright, hubby is officially up…now as soon as this breakfast settles, it’s time to get movin’!

Question for the Morning:

Besides my corn on the cob question…

What are your plans for the 4th of July weekend?? Is anyone else shocked by the fact that it’s already THIS WEEKEND? Where does the time go!?

A Bittersweet Goodbye

This afternoon, the UPS man came to visit me.

I always love when the UPS man comes to visit me; that means he’s bringing me goodies.

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And I like goodies. A lot.

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But when I saw that he was bringing me goodies in the form of Love Grown Foods Granola, I loved his afternoon visit even more.

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The granola couldn’t have come at a better time, really. I just ran out of my Sunflower Seed Butter Granola a couple of days ago and had it on my to-do list to make more tomorrow. I guess that’ll just have to wait.

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Especially now that I have so many amazing combos to try out.

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Obviously, I couldn’t wait to dig in…

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And I’m happy to announce the Raisin Almond Crunch tasted phenomenal as ever, and was even powerful enough to lift my spirits from being a little down in the dumps

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Yes, this afternoon was somewhat of a sad afternoon for me…

I’ve never been really good with change. I’ll be honest.

But today I had to say goodbye to something that has been very near and dear to my heart for the past 10 years.

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Yes my friends, that would be my little 2002 Chevy Cavalier. (You like the taillights? Jay and I bought those for my car right around the time that the Fast and the Furious movie came out and everyone was drooling over “fast cars” while I was drooling over Paul Walker.)

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I was greeted with this little gem on Christmas morning of my senior year in high school and actually caused such a scene that the home video we sent into America’s Funniest Home Videos actually may have made it on TV (we never saw it, but we got letters back from the show asking that everyone appearing in the video sign a release).

I guess you could say that I was a tad bit excited…but then again, what high school senior wouldn’t be ecstatic to have this waiting for them on Christmas morning with a big red bow on it?

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Obviously, I’d be lying if I said the car wasn’t my favorite part of this gift (which was actually a Christmas/Birthday/Graduation present for what I was told would be the next 10 years…they fibbed). Winking smile

But there was so much more to receiving this amazing gift from my parents. With the car, I got a handwritten letter from my parents.

One that I have kept, and will continue to keep, not because I like to hoard things (which I do) but because this letter meant so much more to me than my parents could have ever realized.

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This letter was further proof of the fact that I made my parents proud. Something that I had always strived at. I’ve long been a people pleaser, but mostly with my parents.

I basked in the satisfaction and praise that I would get after coming home with a stellar report card I had worked so hard at. My parents were always proud of all of my accomplishments, not only in academics, but in sports, and in life. They were proud of the young woman I had become, and they were proud to have me as their daughter.

(I always laughed at the fact that they included my brother’s name on this letter because he clearly was not as excited about me receiving the car as I was, or as excited as my parents were to give it.)

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So I guess you could say that while, yes, my car and I went through a lot together…a whole college career,

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a year away from the love of my life, and some of the toughest times I’ve ever had to face as a young woman…there’s a lot of sentimental value behind my little Cavalier.

What can I say, I’m an emotional gal!

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So it was rather bittersweet today when I received a call from someone inquiring about the car that has been posted for sale. Before I knew it, after a couple weeks on Craigslist, the transaction was finally made, and the new owner drove off with my baby.

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Ohhhh don’t you worry about me…I’ll be fine. Like I’ve said, I’m super sentimental and can be rather dramatic when I want to be. Winking smile

And since I’m sure some of you are wondering why I would bother to sell it, it’s because my grandmother recently moved to a new place where she will no longer need her car. So now, I’ll be toolin’ around, trying to get used to a whole new (but not really new) vehicle.

So tonight, I think while Joe & Kate are here for dinner, I’m going to toast to my Cavalier with a glass of wine.

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Hey, I’m always looking for an excuse to celebrate with wine

CHEERS! Smile

Questions for the Evening:

Do you deal well with change?

What’s the best gift (physical or not) that you’ve ever received?

Candy In A Cup + A Mini Cody Video

You guys remember yesterday’s lunch?

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Oh gosh, that was amazing. Well, unfortunately, it wreaked havoc on my stomach until the time I went to bed last night. Seriously, what is my DEAL?

My guess is that it had to be too much dairy (cheese x2?), because I’ve had that amount of fruit before with no problems.

Either way, not cool.

So today, I decided to go another route…

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A smoothie it was! Today’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie inspiration comes courtesy of my blog twin, Julie.

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 scoop chocolate Whey protein powder
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 container prunes baby food (<—totally random, right? Well I had it here and figured it’d be a good way to squeeze in some extra nutrients)
  • 5 ice cubes
  • 1 pinch xanthan gum (for thickening)

You know you’ve got a good, thick smoothie on your hands when your straw can stick straight up in it.

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This smoothie totally tasted like I chocolate peanut butter cup, only in liquid form. Yes, like candy in a cup. No joke. And I loved the fact that I couldn’t taste the prunes at all…they’re so sneaky.

On the side, I also snacked on half of a tortilla filled with some Low Fat PB spread.

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Some of you have asked how the spread holds up, and I will say that it’s done quite well. I keep it at room temp in a plastic storage container with a locking, sealable lid, and it’s been great.

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I’m actually planning on eating some smaller meals/snacks throughout the afternoon because Jay and I won’t be eating dinner until closer to 8:00pm tonight. Our friends, Joe & Kate, are coming over for a double dinner date, and I’ve got one of my favorite recipes EVER ready to go in the crockpot!

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I can’t wait until I get to dig in. Smile

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For Your Viewing Pleasure!

Please pay no attention to my terrible video taking skills, but this morning I ended up taking a quick video of me and the Codester playing fetch.

Cody Playing Fetch

 

He begged me to put it up…he says it will make you guys love him even more. Winking smile

Question for the Afternoon:

What time do you typically eat dinner on a weeknight?

Jay and I usually like to eat anywhere between 6-7pm, but if we have a good enough excuse (i.e., friends coming to visit) then we’ll make it earlier or later.

Power Hour + Act Quick

Cody says, “Good Morning!”

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This morning the alarm went off at 5:00am, just like usual, so I could get up and head out for my usual BodyPump class. I woke up initially feeling pretty well-rested and ready to go; however, as soon as I rolled over…it hit me.

Holy cow did it hit me.

My upper back…my arms…my sides…my glutes…my inner thighs…new muscles I never knew were even in there…

Did I get steamrolled by a MAC truck in the middle of the night?

Ohhhh, no, that’s right…it must be from yesterday’s BodyCombat class, followed with the insane amount of weeding that has really done me in.

I got up and started moving around anyways, to see if things would loosen up a bit, but by the time I got to the gym I was still sore as ever. So I made a last minute plan of attack and ended up skipping BodyPump in favor of a killer cardio workout, which I like to call, Power Hour

  • 30 minute treadmill run = 3.2 miles
  • 20 minute elliptical intervals = 2 miles
  • 10 minute StairMaster “fat burn” routine = Insanity

It felt great to really sweat it out this morning, so I’m happy with my change of plans. I’ll just head back to BodyPump on Thursday.

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Post-workout, my sweaty self came home to cook up some breakfast.

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I made my usual Buckwheat Bowl, topped with half of a banana muffin. I had forgotten that I actually put three of these little guys into the freezer from the last time I made them and took them out to thaw last night.

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Oh, and, ya know…iced coffee was consumed.

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Deeeee-lish-ussss.

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Saratoga Peanut Butter Co. Discount Alert!!

Do you guys remember my intense love for Blizzard Butter? It’s amazing, and I’m totally getting another jar this Saturday now that my nut butter stash is down to four jars. Winking smile

Well, for those of you who aren’t local and have asked me about this wonderful stuff, Saratoga Peanut Butter Co. also has an online store that anyone can order from. The online store actually offers lower prices than what it sells for at a retail outlet, but now I’ve also got a discount code to share with you!

Get 5% off any order over $20.00, with the discount code “sweet entered at checkout! The offer is only available until 6/30, so if you’ve ever thought about trying a jar, now is the time!

(If you want my opinion, I’d say your best bet would be to order a Sampler Pack + a Plain Jane creamy or chunky, which will get you right at $21.00, just over the $20 mark!)

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Question for the Morning:

Do you have any foods that you like to buy online because you can’t get it local?

Do you have any foods/companies that you love that are local to where you live?

Tonight’s Dinner Gets a Wow

Oh.my.gosh.

That’s all I can say about tonight’s dinner. Wow.

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Once again, my latest issue of Cooking Light delivered with a killer recipe for Spice Rubbed Flank Steak with Fresh Salsa. Both Jay and I have had our eye on this recipe, which worked out perfectly, since I’ve actually had a flank steak in our freezer from back in October when I was sent some to sample.

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The one rule I gave Jay for if we’re having beef for dinner is that HE has to cook it. I don’t have anything against red meat, and on occasion I like to indulge in a little bit of the stuff. But rarely will I cook it (unless it’s in my Burgundy Beef Stew…that’s another story).

So tonight was the night, and boy, was this recipe, well…just straight up awesome.

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While Jay took care of grilling the meat, I prepared the salsa, some white rice, and steamed green beans.

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We made a couple minor tweaks to the original recipe, and only made half of the salsa it called for, since Jay plans on slicing the leftovers up for sandwiches during the week.

Let me tell you…if you’re into red meat every now and then, you have GOT to give this recipe a try.

Spice-Rubbed Flank Steak with Fresh Salsa

(lightly adapted from this recipe from Cooking Light)

Ingredients:

Salsa:

  • 1 cup chopped seeded tomato
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3 large basil leaves, chopped
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Steak:

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) flank steak, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat grill to high heat.
  2. To prepare salsa, combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. To prepare steak, combine garlic powder and the next 6 ingredients (through cinnamon). Brush both sides of steak with olive oil and garlic, and sprinkle with spice mixture. Place the steak on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut the steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. Serve with fresh salsa. ENJOY! Smile

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Everything about this dinner was top notch, from the steak and the salsa, right down to the white rice (I can’t even tell you the last time I had white rice…so good!). I think I may even have to dig into the leftovers later this week!

The rest of the night is being devoted to some laziness on the couch with my two boys…sounds perfect to me. Smile

Question for the Evening:

Do you eat red meat? If so, what’s your favorite way to eat it (or favorite cut)?