Monday, June 29, 2009

Hips don't lie

{image via

I am proud to say - so far, so good. I have stuck with it and made time for my workout every day this week!

If you recall from my first Shred post, I barely made it through the first 20-minute workout. But by day 3, I was actually enjoying it a little and by Day 4, I could do all forty of the push-ups. By day 5, I was kind of wondering if I was ready to move to Level 2. It seemed early but Level 1 was already getting easier. So yesterday (Day 7) I graduated myself to Level 2. Definitely harder, but I actually found it to be more fun than Level 1! The second cardio interval is tough (she says she wants you to be swallowing your heart, and I definitely am!) and I struggle to get through the third set of strength moves (they're hard, ya'll!) without going down to the modified version, but I already did better today than I did yesterday, so I know I'll get there.

Of course I was dying to see if all this hard work was paying off. I resisted measuring again until a full week into the program. I lost a full inch off my waist and thighs and 3/4 inch off my bust. No change on my hip measurement and no change in my weight. I'm fine with the weight part, but was a little bummed to have no discernible difference in my hips. I know it's only been a week, but I have high expectations, ok?

I do find that I am more hungry in the mornings now. I am back to counting calories as well (more on that in another post), so I'm just trying to make smart, filling choices in the morning to combat snacking during the day. I'm not normally a breakfast eater, but this work out pretty much makes it necessary.

All in all, I'm pleased so far. Looking forward to hitting Level 2 hard this week and hopefully (fingers crossed!) seeing results on the hips this week too.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ode to Summer

I love....

....waking up to sunshine in the morning.

....the sound of lawn mowers and the smell of freshly cut grass.

....driving with windows down and sunroof open.

....painted toes in pretty sandals.

....corn on the grill.

....chatting with neighbors in the driveway.

....warm sun on bare skin.

....watermelon-seed spitting contests with my best guy.

....the magical firefly show that goes on in our backyard every night.

...falling asleep to the sound of a summer thunderstorm.

Do you know the muffin ice cream man?

Don't you love the sound of the ice cream man coming down your street? Every time I hear that happy little song, it takes me back to childhood summers when you'd play all day in the hot sun, three shiny quarters burning deep in your pocket, waiting anxiously for the chiming of that funny white truck.

So far I have resisted the siren call of the ice cream man, but that hasn't stopped me from dreaming of all the yummy treats I would eat, if I wasn't being a good girl.

Remember these?

Orange push-ups - these things are genius! Ice cream that you push through a tube so it doesn't melt all over your hand? Must have been invented by a woman.

Snow cones - Three flavors in one, plus they dye your lips and tongue. Refreshing and entertaining!

Strawberry shortcake eskimo pies - Oh so good! Always eat it over the wrapper so you don't waste a single falling crumb!

But my personal favorite is the Screwball. Strawberry gelato with a gumball at the bottom? Yes, please!

Just looking at that Screwball, my will power is quickly failing. Don't be surprised if you see me 'playing' outside tomorrow afternoon, jingling the quarters in my pocket and glancing anxiously down the street! Feel free to join me. You know you want to!

Friday, June 26, 2009

On tap

{image via destinationbeer}

Ice cold and only 84 calories. Don't mind if I have one....or three.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Great Shape Up: Take 3

That Garfield cartoon has pretty much summed up my attitude toward working out for the past two years. I tried briefly to get into gear back in January, but shortly there after, I found out about the layoff, started working ridiculous hours and then totally lost all motivation when I officially became unemployed. With nothing to do all day for five weeks, I had the perfect opportunity to get in shape - instead, I ate. And loafed. And managed to gain eight pounds. So not only was I bummed about losing a job that I loved, now I was angry about gaining weight too.

A vicious cycle for sure. I have been talking about getting back in shape for months now, but I've finally put my money where my mouth is. We've got a vacation coming up, one in which we will attend two weddings and see many friends from both undergrad and grad school. Talk about motivation! No way do I want to look anything but my best for this trip!

I decided to skip boot camp for now. A big part of me wanted to go back just to prove that I could do it, but the pragmatic part of me couldn't stand paying for a month of camp when I could only attend twice per week for three weeks. Just can't justify it. So on to plan B - Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred.

I've heard tons of people sing the praises of her 30-day Shred program. When I saw Mrs. Realife take it on a few weeks ago, I watched with anticipation for her first report back. She lost at least 1/2 inch all over in the first ten days - SIGN ME UP! I ordered it that night.

The Shred is designed with three 20-minute workouts, with the idea that you move up a level about every 10 days (or as you feel ready). Each 20-minute workout is broken up into three sets of 6 minutes - 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio and 1 minute of abs. It's supposed to maximize your calorie-burn and muscle building. Personally, I like it because I can always tell exactly how much longer I have left by how many cycles I've completed - sad, but true. I swear, the first day was the longest 20 minutes of my life! But already the second and third days have been easier. And I feel good when I'm done. That's the best part of working out, isn't it? Feeling good about yourself when it's all over.

Sadly, I will only get in 19 of my 30 days before our vacation but if I see results even half as good as Mrs. Realife, I'll be happy. Even just knowing I'm finally on the road to getting in shape makes me feel better about myself. If I feel this great after Day 3, I can't wait until Day 30!

Countdown: ON

I have the world's greatest friends. -

Only 16 days left until Cheerwine.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesdays at the Table

I nearly died of excitement when I got my hands on this recipe Sunday night. As in literally, I gasped so loudly, the driver nearly ran off the road!

A little background - When we live in Tennessee, we had the most amazing neighbors, Clint and Gwen. They loved us, loved our furbabies and ran a mean grill. One night for dessert we had this dish Clint's mom had made; they called 'orange stuff'. OMG. It was divine. I ate. I raved. I ate some more.

From then on, any time Clint's mom made orange stuff, he'd divide it up and send me home with some. If I heard there was orange stuff to be had, I lit up like a Christmas tree and made a mad dash for their fridge. Eventually, Clint's mom got wise to my game, and started doubling the recipe - making me my very own container of orange stuff.

When we moved to the mid-west, I tried in vain several times to make it myself. It didn't look hard, I knew the basic ingredients, but I never hit on the right combination. In fact, I couldn't even get close. No orange stuff for me for over two years....

....until Sunday! We went bowling with the neighbors (long story short - I got beat by a five-year-old - twice!). On the way home, they start talking about having some orange fluff when they get home. Orange fluff? Could it be......

Curiosity piqued, I asked what was in it. 'Oh, oranges, pineapple, cool whip....oh, and cottage cheese.' And that was when I knew! (And gasped so loud, they all thought I was having a heart attack).


I found my holy grail! Ten minutes later, I was inhaling that orangey goodness with one hand, while copying down the recipe with the other. I can't wait to make a big fat bowl of my very own this weekend.



24 ounce container of small curd cottage cheese
12 ounce container of Cool Whip, thawed
6 ounce package of orange Jello
2 - 11 ounce cans of mandarin oranges, drained (22 ounces total)
20 ounce can of pineapple chunks, drained
Optional ingredient: mini-marshmallows

1. In a large bowl, combine Jello powder and Cool Whip well.
2. Mix in the cottage cheese.
3. Stir in the pineapples and oranges.
4. Stir in marshmallows, if desired.
5. Chill overnight.

Serves about 10. Or serves Sara two helpings per day for a week.


I know it sounds kind of gross when you read it, but trust me - you'll love it. To make it healthier, you can substitute low-fat cottage cheese and low-fat Cool Whip. Enjoy!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ew, gross

Dear Construction Workers Next Door,

I may not understand what you said in your native tongue, but believe me I heard you loud and clear - lewd noises are universal. FYI - that type of behavior is not attractive in any language.

Not a piece of meat

Sunday, June 21, 2009


When you thought I wasn't looking...

I saw you struggle to get sober, and I learned that there is no such thing as a lost cause.

I saw you leave your family behind to serve your country, and I learned the meaning of sacrifice.

I saw you lay down in the road with your head in the gutter to save a baby kitten, and I learned that even the smallest life matters.

I saw you slip and fall down the stairs while hot coffee rained down on your head, and I learned that sometimes laughing at yourself is the only thing you can do.

I saw you take fatherless children and love them like your own, and I learned that a loving heart has no limits.

I saw you make hard decisions, and I learned to do the right thing even when it hurts.

I saw you take the high road when you were wronged, and I learned the meaning of turning the other cheek.

I saw you drive a crappy car so that your children could drive a safe one, and I learned about selflessness.

I saw you get up early and read your Bible, and I learned that we make time for the things that are important to us.

I saw you work for hours in the garage to build the World's Greatest Dorm Room Loft, and I learned that spending time means more than spending money.

I saw you work quietly at church, without recognition, and I learned what it means to be a servant.

I saw you smile at me through your tears as you walked me down the aisle, and I learned what it means to be loved beyond measure.

When you thought I wasn't looking, you taught me how to live and how to laugh and how to love.

I love you, Daddy! Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sweet Surprise!

After a rather drama-filled week, I am ready for a laid-back weekend. Currently we have zero plans, other than clean the house and grocery shop. The last few weekends have been so hectic, I am really looking forward to playing it low-key the next two days.

And what better way to start my weekend than with a surprise in my mailbox? The fabulously generous KT sent me two books to jump start my summer reading. Which is perfect, considering I am so sore I can barely move my legs today. Now I have a plausible excuse for not leaving my couch the entire weekend!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You know you're out of shape when.... go deaf, dumb and blind 15 minutes into your workout.

Ok, so for those of you who don't follow me on Twitter (and if you don't, you should!) you may have missed the entire boot camp fiasco. A few weeks ago, I signed up for exercise boot camp. I'd been thinking about it for months and finally talked myself into paying money for someone to yell at me while I ran laps at 5:00am. Fun, right?

So the night before, I lay out all my stuff. Weights and mat in the car. Shoes and socks by the door. I parked in the driveway so I could slip out the front door without waking the dogs. I was ready to DO THIS.

Drag myself out of bed at 4:45am and drive out to the find no one there. Not a soul. I'm pretty sure even the birds were still asleep. WTH?

Called the chick, only to find out that boot camp in my area had been cancelled due to lack of interest. Surprised? Not so much. She claims to have emailed me to let me know. I think that was a load of bull. Whatever.

So I was disappointed......and also slightly relieved. Dodged that bullet, right?

Until Tuesday night's bunco group, that is. Turns out one of the ladies I play with goes to another boot camp in town and she invited me along. This one is at night. Suh-weet! Sign me up.

The trainer is really nice, assures me that I have nothing to worry about even though I am jumping into the middle of the class. Everyone else has been doing this for two weeks, but I'll be just fine.

Three warm up laps in, I am huffing and puffing like 80-year-old smoker. Six sets of lunges later, my face was cherry red and my shirt was soaked. Four sets of inchworms later, my vision was blurry and my ears were ringing. I was going deaf, dumb and blind right on the basketball court.

Trainer Matt comes over and tells me to lay down on the floor with my feet up against the wall. Not quite sure exactly what he said (I was deaf, remember?), something about blood pressure and the inchworms and my equilibrium. I wanted to die of embarrassment right then and there. I mean, who pansies out 15 minutes in?

After about 10 minutes, my head cleared and I finished the class. I was sure I was going to die (or at least puke) about a dozen times, but I made it through to the end and even actually enjoyed the stretching cool down.

So clearly, I am in worse shape than I thought. I'm still debating whether to actually join the class or not. Maybe it's a little too hard core? Or maybe I'll get used to it? I don't know. I've got until Friday to figure it out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


{image via lolcats}

Just five weeks into the new part-time job and I have officially left my mark on the place. Unfortunately it was in the form of a gigantic hole in a roll up warehouse door and a gigantic scratch in the top of a box truck.

Not exactly what I had in mind.

We were getting new vending machines today. The boss put up the roll up door so they could back their truck right up to the building. Unfortunately our own box truck was parked inside the building and was blocking their path. They asked me to move the truck and being the ever helpful person I am, I grabbed the keys and hopped in. I've driven several box trucks, so only gave a passing thought to not doing it myself. Yeah, regretting that now. Turns out, the door wasn't all the way up. Just up far enough to make it look like it was all the way up. I realized this about two seconds after the awful, terrible, horrible, no good screeching noise and the Styrofoam storm that rained down on the windshield.

Box truck = 1. New girl = 0.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesdays at the Table

If you are ever in need of fast, easy, cheap recipes, I highly recommend They have literally thousands of recipes, most of them require fewer than 10 ingredients and take less than an hour to prepare and/or cook. Several of our favorite dishes have come from their website, including today's post.


Shortcut Chicken Manicotti

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups water
4 oz Velveeta Pasteurized Prepared cheese product, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups frozen broccoli florets
12 manicotti shells, uncooked
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast cut into thin strips
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Microwave soup, water and cubed Velveeta in microwaveable bowl on High for 3 minutes or until Velveeta is melted.
3. Pour 1/3 of mixture into 13x9 baking dish. Add broccoli to remaining mixture in the bowl.
4. Stuff manicotti shells with chicken and place in baking dish.
5. Top the shells with the soup and broccoli mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan and cover with foil.
6. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until manicotti is tender and chicken is done.

I totally cheat and get the precooked chicken strips from the frozen food aisle. That cuts the prep time to maybe 10 minutes. I have found that I have to microwave the soup/cheese mixture more like 6 minutes, stirring once, before it's thoroughly melted. The last time I made it, I halved the amount of chicken and manicotti and it turned out just fine, without as many left overs.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Little girl all grown up

Today is my baby sister Emily's 18th birthday. Sigh. It's hard to believe there are no more babies in our family. She's a high school graduate, a legal adult. And a pretty cool kid woman.

I know this post is supposed to be about Emily, and trust me, I could tell stories about her for days, but mostly what I've been thinking about all day is being a big sister. I am one, three times over and it's the best thing in the world. I was blessed to be allowed to watch these three amazing girls women grow up, to share in their memories, to stay up talking late into the night, to text advice when Mom and Dad are being parents unreasonable, to share shoes and clothes and makeup and purses. It makes me tear up to think how much each of them means to me and how grateful I am to be not only sisters, but also friends. They are each special to me in their own way and I can't imagine my life without them in it.

So thanks, Mom and Dad, for breeding like rabbits blessing me with sisters. Thanks, Katie, Amy and Emily for being the best sisters a girl could ever ask or hope for.

And Emily, no matter how big you get or how far away you go, you'll always be one of the 'little girls' to me. I love you, kid.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Church Mouse

Meet my new colleague, Mr. Church Mouse.

Apparently, he and I are sharing a work space.

I was not aware of this until Friday when he strolled oh-so-casually through the office and slipped out under the door.

Oddly, I am okay with this. There are worse things, like the ants in the women's bathroom. And the kamikaze bird that lives on the building roof. I certainly prefer him over the spider that introduced himself to my sandal-clad foot two Fridays ago.

I wonder if church mice like coffee?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

White Trash

Dear Neighbors Three Houses Over,

Trash Day is Monday. Today is Thursday. In case you hadn't noticed, your trash can is still at the end of your driveway.

How could you not notice, though, considering I have personally watched you maneuver your vehicle around it no less than six times in the last four days. Also, you have been within 10 feet of it the last three mornings when you picked up your newspaper. (Congratulations, by the way, on that accomplishment - I think it's a record for you!).

I understand that it has been raining for four days straight but the rest of us braved the rain so that our street does not look like a trailer park. We would appreciate if you would do the same. Perhaps you could send one of your three able-bodied children to do the dirty work? What good is having kids anyway if you can't force them into manual labor, right?


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gummy worms women

Oh, yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is what you think it is.

Nate's coworker went to Germany and brought back a bag of naked gummy women. Seriously? I know they are a little bit more open than us 'prudish' Americans but still...who wants their kid to run through the grocery store yelling, 'Mummy, can I have naked women after dinner?'

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tuesdays at the Table

I know you guys were heartbroken when I didn't participate last week, but have no fear, I am back, tastier and easier than ever!

I love desserts but guess what? I hate to bake! Shocking, I know. This dessert is so easy, it barely qualifies as 'baking'. You don't even need a mixing bowl. But hey, if I have to punch the buttons on the oven, I call that baking.


Cherry Pineapple Crunch

1 yellow cake mix
1 can cherry pie mix
1 can crushed pineapple in pineapple juice
1 stick butter or margarine


1. Preheat oven to 375. Use a 9x13 pan but no need to grease it.
2. Drain the crushed pineapple and pour into pan.
3. Pour the cherry pie filling in with the pineapple and mix to them together.
4. Spread the mixture evenly in bottom of the pan.
5. Layer the dry cake mix on top of the fruit.
6. Thinly slice the butter and place in a grid over the top of the dry cake mix. I cover the entire thing with little tiny squares.
7. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Seriously, this stuff is ridiculously good. I made it for small group once and it was wiped out in a matter of minutes. That happens every time.

I'd source it if I could, but I have no idea where the recipe came from. It came handwritten in a recipe book I received as a gift.

Miss me?

My, oh my, it's looking a little dusty and desolate around this place. I know I've been neglecting you, but I've been busy living unwrapping life. That is what this blog is supposed to be about, right? Well, when I actually make the time to blog about it, that is.

It's been a busy week for me, so I'm going to do something I swore I'd never do - the dreaded bullet point post. Hopefully that doesn't mean this blog is jumping the shark. I swear I'll go another 300 posts before I use bullet points again.

  • My baby sister Emily came to visit last Monday. The trip was her graduation/birthday gift from us.
  • We worked on a super-top-secret Father's and Mother's Day gift for our parents.
  • Indy had a ridiculous hail storm and damaged Nate's brand new car to the tune of $4500. Nice.
  • Mani for Em, pedi for me. Very happy feet.
  • Flew to SC for Emily's graduation. Scored two crack rocks espresso brownies a the Chicago airport.
  • Stayed up until the wee hours every night we were in SC. Exhausting? Yes. Worth every minute? Absolutely.
  • Drank my weight in Cheerwine and Sonic Cherry Limeade.
  • Went to my dad's softball game. I did this weekly as a kid so it was super fun to do it again as an adult.
  • Managed not to yell obscenities at the idiot who was standing up and talking on his cell phone during the graduation ceremony.
  • Climbed a fence in a dress and 4 inch heels at Emily's graduation.

  • Stuffed myself full of Bermuda Triangles at Red Bone Alley, all in celebration of Em's accomplishments, of course.
  • Showed my Aunt Jo that it is indeed possible to take a decent (albeit cheesy), centered picture of yourself with your own camera.

  • Learned that I totally suck at the spelling game Third of a Ghost, despite the fact that I'm an excellent speller. Long story short - if you score three points, you're out. I never made it further than four rounds....
  • Stuffed myself full of Stuffed French Toast at IHOP. Realized that I have a thing for pastry stuffed with stuff.
By the time we hit the airport to come home on Sunday afternoon, I was tired. Just how tired, you ask? As we're making our way to our gate, I noticed a girl coming toward us wearing a really cute top. I started to point her out to Nate when I realized we were walking towards a mirrored column. The girl in the cute top? Me.

You know you go to Starbucks too often....

....when even the baristas are passing you job leads.

Yes, that really happened.

Monday, June 1, 2009

We have a winner!!

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a giveaway winner!

Timestamp: 2009-06-01 10:54:53 UTC
  1. Kimberly
  2. C
  3. Mel
  4. Jennifer
  5. Pat
It's the ever fashionable Kimberly of Fab Finds Under $50! Kimberly is a follower, left me a question, blogged and Tweeted about my giveaway - the girl really wanted to win! Kimberly can mix patterns like nobodies business and can often be seen on her blog rocking a scarf. I'm happy to be able to add one to her collection; I can't wait to see what she does with it!

Kimberly's question was whether or not I've been thrifting since she introduced me to it last summer. She is a thrifting queen and I was *ahem* a first-timer. Well, girl, I have been exactly once since then, during my unemployment a few weeks ago. While I admire all the ladies who can thrift and shop at places like TJ Maxx, I am sadly not one of them. Try as I might, I just don't have the patience for it. You have to wade through a lot of bad to find the gems and apparently I have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to thrifting.

The recently un-anonymous Mel at Just Fine, Just Dandy asked about my favorite hobbies. If shopping counts as a hobby, that would be #1. I also love to scrapbook, read mysteries, plan parties and wrap gifts. I love to give presents and wrapping them is my favorite part. I spend hours wrapping my Christmas presents, happy as a clam in mud.

Fellow Indianian Jennifer of Pour L'amour De wants to know my favorite vacation destination. That's a hard one! We spend most of our vacations in South or North Carolina visiting our families (like this weekend!). But if that weren't an issue, I love any kind of beach resort where I can be totally lazy and the drinks are pre-paid. We did the Mayan Riviera for our honeymoon and Jamaica last year for our five year anniversary.

My mom wants to know if we want to move back down South someday. Want has nothing to do with it. If it was that easy, we'd already be there!

My dad wants to know how I got so cool. All he needs to do is look in the mirror.

Emily from Caleb Mama Drama went to college with me in SC. She asked what story or joke always makes me laugh. The short answer is Sonic commercials. Yeah, yeah, I know they are stupid, but they never fail to make me laugh like a lunatic. As for a story that always makes me laugh, this one is rather appropriate since the instigator happens to be coming to visit me today. This happened one summer when I was home from college. My mom had this emergency intruder alarm thingie that was basically a little black box with a pin stuck in it. If some one tried to attack you, you could pull the pin out of the box, setting off an ear-splitting alarm to draw attention. One day, I go out to get in my car, open the car door, and am greeted by that eardrum shattering squeal....inside my car. Someone had tied the little box to one door and the pin to another, so that when you opened the door, the pin pulled out of the box and set off the alarm. The only way to turn it off was to get into the car with the alarm blaring and put the pin back in the box! Emily was all of eight years old when she came up with this diabolical plan. Ten years later, I am still waiting to get my payback.

I have two questions left, but I am saving those for another day. Ally from Cute on the Cheap wants a day in the life of my furbabies. A very good idea but one that will take some time to pull together! Jules over at Chic & Pink wants to hear more about how Nate proposed. I love to tell this story but it deserves it's very own post. Stay tuned!

It's like rain on your wedding day

Dear Friends who were at the pool with me yesterday,

If ever again you hear me say that I chose not to apply sunscreen because we are 'only going to be here for an hour', please slap me silly and then refuse to speak to me until I go home and lather up.

I am now paying for my shameful inattention to proper sun protection with a ridiculously painful sunburn that has turned my chest, stomach and legs a most hideous shade of lobster. To add insult to the (literal) injury, the combination of late day setting sun and my attempts to read a few pages of my book have resulted in a funky trapezoidal design. My shins are burned, but not my thighs. My right shoulder is burned but not my left. The line across my tummy is at a 60 degree angle. Classy.

My plans to wear a strapless dress to this weekend's graduation festivities will have to be scrapped. I do not even know where to begin to fix the hot mess that is currently my upper half.

The ironic part? I skipped my carefully planned MysticTan appointment to go to the pool with you instead.

Painfully yours,
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