Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hot Chocolate 15k

So I know you've been dying to hear how my race was, right?

Last Saturday I headed out to the National Harbor to run 9.3 miles with 19,999 other people. I was SUPER anxious about the crowds, getting there, getting chocolate, pretty much everything but the actual run.

The run itself was HARD. We started going down hill and I hit the first mile marker at 12 mins. Whoa, way too fast for me (I'm usually at about 13:30 - 13:45 miles). It was 5 miles out and back on a highway. It was boring and awful with all of the exhaust from the trucks and cars just one lane over. It was defeating to see the PACKS of people over a mile ahead of me when I was only two miles in. When I turned around however, it was encouraging to see all of the people I was ahead of. I kept my eye on a few people and just made it my goal to keep up with them.

The first five miles ended going uphill the way we came then back down hill for the next 3/4 miles. We ran past the finish line and went along the 5k course that had already happened that morning. Unfortunately, the downhill wouldn't last, at about 6.5 miles (right after I passed hubs cheering me along) we hit another hill, straight up.

Until this point I had stuck to my run 2 minutes walk 1 intervals. This hill was defeating. My attempt at running up it was counter productive. I just walked to the top, totally off of my intervals for the rest of the race. The final two miles were just run as far as I could, walk until I caught my breath. The final 1/4 mile was again, UPHILL. This was the steepest of the three hills too. Once I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I sprinted by hubs and friends cheering me on to finish.

What surprised me here was that I burst into tears. I was NOT expecting that at all. I wasn't dead (thank you training) and I had actually passed a LOT of people in the last mile (again, thank you training). I felt defeated though, that was the hardest run I had ever done. I had purposefully trained on what was one of the hillier parts of the trail I like, but I didn't feel prepared AT ALL for the giant hills in the race. I felt better once two ladies finished behind me saying that this was so much harder than the 10 Miler courses for the big races in DC.

When I signed up for the race, I had set a goal to finish under the slowest allowed pace time, 15 minute miles. As I had completed my longer training runs, I was coming in at closer to 13:45 - 14:00 minute miles. So before the race I had hoped to finish under a 14 minute mile pace. My official time was 2:11:50 which was a 14:09 pace. I was disappointed that just two minutes faster would have gotten me under the 14 minute goal.

This was my first big race and first race over 5k. My personal run was hard but good, the event as a whole? An absolute disaster.

The 15k was supposed to corral up at 7:45 and be off at 8 or shortly after. Our parking pass said to arrive at the National Harbor by 6:30. We were about 1/4 mile from the exit at 6:10 and then hit dead stopped traffic. At 7:35 we still weren't parked, had barely made it off the exit, so my friend and I jumped out of the car to walk to the start line. We had to walk about a mile to get to the start line and saw that the 5k was no where near starting. They were supposed to be off at 7:30.

At about 8:30 the 5k finally started. The 15kers jumped right into the corrals to get going ASAP. 15 mins later, the leaders of the 5k were finishing. At about 45 mins almost the entire 5k had finished and we still hadn't started our race. At this point, it was 9:15 and I had been expecting to be over half way done already. I had eaten breakfast four hours earlier and hadn't brought water with me. I was starving, thirsty, and numb from the cold. We had no information about when we would start and were just standing there hoping it'd be soon. Without any warning, the crowd started moving forward to the start line. The first mile and a half, I couldn't feel my feet because they were so frozen.

At the 5 1/2 mile when we were crossing back by the start and then finish line, the course was crowded with people who had finished the 5k and were now walking back to their cars. I couldn't tell at several points if I was even on the course because I couldn't see any other runners, just people with their families walking to their cars.

The water stations were poorly manned, often having to wait for water to get poured or do it yourself. (Let's blame this for my 2 minute hold up that cost me my goal pace). Once I finished running uphill to complete the race, the post race party was even further up the hill. At this point, I could choose, walk uphill some more to get rationed hot chocolate and fondue, or walk downhill a mile and half to get back to our car. I chose downhill. Prior to the race, I was really looking forward to celebrating my finish with other runners over delicious Ghiradelli hot chocolate, by the time I was finished, I just wanted to go home.

My experience and frustration with the poorly run race was not unique. I checked the Facebook page of the race and there were hundreds of unhappy folks. RAM Racing did not issue a statement until Sunday and it was just full of excuses.

They claimed traffic was bad because of an accident, WTOP and the Washingtonian have both said there was no accident reported. They said the National Harbor had promised parking would be no problem for 5,000 cars, but they never checked passes (Which had cost an additional $10 and required carpooling), so everyone parked there. They said the 15k was so delayed because the 5k went the wrong direction on the course, which is why we had to wait for them to finish. Shouldn't the lead bike have known which way to take the runners?

The whole thing was so poorly run and from what I can tell, it was mostly from them registering at least twice as many racers as the event should have held. Runners who were at a bit of a quicker pace said the course was too narrow and they were elbow to elbow the entire time and bumping and tripping into each other. The jackets provided were too small for everyone, leading to everyone sizing up and them running out of jackets.

I left the race with an awful distaste for RAM racing and am doubtful I would do another race with them. From what I can tell, most of their events have major mishaps.

All in all, I signed up for a 15k, I trained my butt off to prepare, and finished the race pretty much as expected. If it weren't for the poorly run event, I'd be so much more positive about the whole experience. I am looking forward to my next big race. I'm looking for a 10 miler or maybe perhaps even a 1/2 marathon in late April or May...any ideas? I need something to train for and something to work towards. I wanted to do the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, but we come home from vacation the night before, so I don't want to stress myself out doing a race the next day.

I am looking forward to working on speeding up a bit and knowing what I'm getting into with the big races now.

How was your first race experience? Positive or an absolute disaster?

Monday, November 14, 2011

I just walked 500 miles, and I will walk 500 more...

So I just got this gem in my inbox this afternoon. 500 Miles since I've had my fitbit. heck yeah. I've had this little guy for 115 days, so I'm averaging about 4 1/3 miles per day. Let's step that up a bit.

I am pledging to get to 1,000 miles by February 22, 2012. This is 100 days from now and puts me at a 5 mile a day average. Very doable seeing as how I still have 19 more days before my race, which means at least 5 more days with runs over 5 miles. Then I just have to keep it up...

I also hit the 1,000,000 step mark yesterday. AMAZING.

Also, down 6 lbs since my post on 11/1.

otherwise known as #kickingassandtakingnames

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

We Are....

I don't even know where to start with this, but I feel like I can't stay silent. I'm sad, heartbroken, and distraught over this entire Penn State scandal. I feel betrayed by a man I've never met, but have always respected. My world has been rocked by this.

If you had asked me Saturday morning if Joe Paterno should retire, I would have said "I hope he dies pacing that field, during a game, doing what he loves and all he has ever done"

Today, I think he should step down. This is the end of his career and what his legacy will now be known for, regardless of whether he is morally innocent or guilty.

I desperately want to hear his side of the story. I want to know what he's known for the past 9 1/2 years. I want to know that his conscience is clean. But I just don't think it is. I won't say that he met his legal obligations and could then sleep well at night. If he knew something illegal/immoral happened, he should have done the follow ups and he should have been asking if this had gone to the police. If he didn't know the full extent of the 2002 incident, his era at Penn State is still over and will be tarnished forever.

It is just awful that he is the main target being persecuted in this whole thing. I'm hearing more about Coach Paterno than I have about Jerry Sandusky, and he is the one that raped those boys!

There are now about 20 boys/men that have come forward as victims in the awful and horrific mess. 20 boys whose lives will never be the same because they were exposed to a predator who set up a foundation to supposedly help them. This man preyed on these helpless boys, giving them gifts and opportunities that they would never have gotten without him, but they paid the price of abuse and molestation for it. It is absolutely disgusting that this man put them in these situations. He should be the one persecuted for these crimes. He should be the one under the microscope in all of this.

Where was McQueary in the days/weeks/months/years after he saw what he saw in the locker room? Did he tell JoePa all the details? Why isn't he being called on for moral obligations?

People are calling for the cancellation of the rest of the Penn State season. This would punish players that had no idea and were in elementary school when this happened. This would hurt their chances of having a professional career. Boys that had never met Sandusky, boys that had no idea this man was lurking in their shadows. This would punish the other coaches that knew nothing of the situation, and I believe there were some.

Now is not the time for the Penn State community to turn their backs on their Alma Mater. Now is the time for us to come together and show that Penn State is so much bigger and so much better than this.

As posted on Facebook:

“We are…….sad. We are…….grieving with the families and the victims. We are……broken hearted. We are……trying to make sense of things. We are……confused. We are…..over 94,000 students strong. We are…..ranked among the top 15 public universities. We are…..the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. We are…..over... 8,500 top ranked faculty. We are…..hard working student athletes in many sporting events with NO connection to former events. We are….more than university officials and athletic department members. We are….more than this scandal. We are Penn State, and we have always been more than just a football team.”
 I will be wearing my Penn State Football shirt proudly for the rest of this season and as long as I can still scream out "WE ARE"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bad News Bears

Just weighed myself.


I've gained. A lot. In a week. WHAT THE HECK

I'm only four pounds down from January 1st. I want to cry.

There are 60 days before 2012. And a goal without a deadline is nothing but a dream, right?

So here it goes.

I'm going to lose 27 pounds in 60 days. This gets me to a nice round number and a respectable 31 lbs in one year.

My race is about half way. So that's 14 lbs down by December 3rd.

And if this was twitter, I'd end with #letsdothis

Thursday, October 27, 2011

training to finish, probably won't win

So I've been following my happy little schedule. Mostly. I get at least the run workouts in and maybe a couple others throughout the week. Training is going well, I'm very happy with my endurance progress. I never set out to be a speedy racer, but just wanted to set out to finish. In this first month of training I've gone from a 15 min pace (which is the minimum to not get kicked off the course on race day) to a comfortable 13:35 pace. This weekend is a 6 mile run, if I maintain my 2:1 run/walk splits, I'll be happy. If I finish at a 13:35 - 13:45 pace, I'll call it a roaring success.

Hubs and I joined the Y so I'd have access to a pool for the cross train days. When we signed up we got a complementary session with a trainer. The poor guy that had to put up with each of us for our free half hour kicked both of our respective butts. We both hurt so good after that first workout with him, we signed up for 12 joint sessions with him. WHAT?!?! So now we're paying someone to hurt us. That just doesn't seem right.

We do one 30 min session of strength training and one 30 min session of cardio. Tonight was our first cardio session. The Arc Trainers he wanted were taken, so to the treadmills we went. He set the incline at an uncomfortable height then set the speed at 6 mph. In case you aren't good at math, 6 mph is a hecka lot faster than my 13:35 pace. It's actually a dead sprint. So off we went, one minute sprint, one minute rest. I eventually whined my way down to 5.7 mph, still a dead sprint in case you were keeping track. It was awful and I hated him. Unfortunately he didn't get the memo that I don't plan on WINNING this race but just looking to finish, bonus points for not being last.

I'll be so happy this weekend when I can go at my slow and steady wins the race pace even though it'll be for 3 times as long as our workout today.

What do you do to prepare for a race?

Friday, September 30, 2011

What the WHAT?!?

Seriously folks, I've messed up big time. I signed up to run this 15K! That's 9.3 MILES for those non metric folks out there.

The most I've EVER gone (not run, just gone) is 5 miles. How am I going to practically double that?

I blame my sister. I was talking a big game and saying how I was going to run a half marathon next year, blah blah blah. And she sent me a link to this race and said "Why don't you sign up for this 15k?"

I googled "15k training programs" and the first one I saw was 10 weeks. I had 9 1/2 until the race, so kinda fit perfectly. Darn it, looks like I gotta sign up. This is the plan I'll be following: super amazing plan to get me across the finish line.

So I signed up and started running. It starts slow, just two miles at a time. I was already doing 3-4 a couple times a week. So 2? No problem. Now I'm at the end of week 2 of training and have to run three miles tomorrow morning. At race pace, we'll see how this goes. When I think about the race distance, I'm terrified, so I'm sticking to the schedule like it's my job.

We'll see how this goes. I didn't intend for this to become a running (I'm not a runner) or weight loss blog, but that's what's going on in my life right now, so you may be seeing a log about that coming up.

Sorry I've been MIA for so long, hopefully this is my big return!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Come on Irene....

If you're looking for an example of proper hurricane preparedness, you'll have to look elsewhere.

After watching the new for the past couple days, we made no plans for the weekend and planned to camp out. I think our area is under thunderstorm or tropical storm watch. We are out of the direct path of the hurricane. Apparently this hurricane is the size of Europe, so I am still a bit cautious as to what the weekend will bring. 

We hit the grocery store after work tonight just like every other person in town. It was amazing to see the items that are COMPLETELY wiped out. Bananas? Gone. Bottled water? Gone. Milk? Got the last jug. It really was crazy to see the lines and the panic about the impending storm. People had check lists a mile long. I just wanted to make sure we won't get bored or hungry.

We are west of I95, everyone east of us is in trouble, but I think we should be OK. We bought diet coke, some booze, eggs, and milk, along with some other essentials to make some fun new recipes. I started panicking that we were the only cart in the store without bottled water, so we threw one of the last on the emergency pallet at the front of the store.

We are completely fine food wise if we are stranded in the house for about 10-12 days (but how would that happen?). If we lose electricity? We're screwed. I have ice ready to go and a cooler to put some stuff in, but basically all the food we have requires electricity to cook. Pasta, frozen meats, microwave popcorn, all useless without electricity. At least we'll have cold beer and wine.

Once we got home, I started looking around to see if we'd be ok without power. Candles are ready to go. Flashlight out and ready. Back up batteries were purchased. Let's hope we don't need to use any of these.

As long as the lights stay on, we'll be good to go. We have movies from the list queued up on the DVR and ready to be watched with some delicious popcorn. Wii games we haven't played in a while and new recipes for days to try out. If the lights go out, I'll be reading my fully charged Kindle until it dies or cleaning out the stacks of magazines sitting in our house. I finally bought a binder to organize all of the tear sheets that have been collecting from each month's subscriptions.

If you're on the East Coast, are you ready? Do you have better prep plans than we scrapped together? If you're not in the path of the hurricane, do you have better weekend plans?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Quick and Dirty

Oh, hello there. Do you feel neglected? I'm just stopping in for a quick blog equivalent of a drive by. Here's what's been going on lately....

Look how my tomatoes are growing!!!! It's very exciting to water them every day and see them changing colors and growing bit by bit.

I've also made some progress on my paper goals....remember those? Here's where we started:
Here's where we are now (also compare between real camera and crappy iphone pics):
And here's how many have been torn off:

Also, since January 1st I've lost one of these.....
No, he hasn't gone missing, but I've lost the equivalent of one wiener dog on the scale!!! I wasn't brave enough to weigh myself holding the heavier one, maybe I'll lose her by next week. I look at Wilbur and think, he's a little dog, but not that little. Where was I storing this dog sized mass? Gross. And to think I could stand to lose much bigger dogs than him.

I started the year on Weight Watchers. The program works, when you stick to it. I was good for about 6 weeks, lost about 10 lbs, then was bored. So I stopped counting points. I didn't gain it all back, just a couple of the pounds. I had been gaining and losing the same 5 lbs after that for a while when I was half assing the WW program. I decided something needed to change and I wanted to kick start the losses again.

I started the Paleo diet last week after seeing a couple other girls loving it, here and here. The gist of it is, if a caveman couldn't have picked it or killed it, can't eat it. This means fruits, veggies, nuts, and proteins. This also means no carbs (ouch), no dairy (ouch), and no sugar (boo). I was intimidated, but hit Trader Joes last week ready to do this. I was encouraged that every day the scale showed a loss, it makes it so much easier to stick to it when I can see quick results. I stuck to it Mon-Fri except for a few blips of wine. I'm only human. Saturday, was more of "diet? what diet?". But I woke up this morning, had my almond milk and fruit smoothie and was back on track. Hopefully yesterday didn't do too much damage, but even so, the break was enough to get me motivated again.

I've also been doing the Couch 2 5K running app on my phone. I've tried this 3-4 times before, but give up around week 4 or 5. I'm currently in week 7 where the intervals are over and it's just straight runs with no walk breaks. I'm not so into it anymore. I like my walk breaks, they make me feel like I can run harder/longer during those intervals. I may just keep repeating the week 5 intervals of five and eight minute run intervals. I felt strong doing those runs and felt like I could really push it the entire workout and leave it all on the run.

With vacation coming up next month, I have to stick to both diet and exercise to make sure I'm bathing suit ready.

In the meantime, I have been hopping into my suit for Friday Surreptitious Happy Hours at the Pool. What is better than sneaking out of work an hour early (shh don't tell) and coming home to relax with a book, some friends and wine by the pool? Coincidence that my water bottle holds exactly one bottle of wine? I think not.

Alrighty then, with that, I'm out. I just needed a break from the top to bottom cleaning of the condo that I've been doing today. Back to work for me. I hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend and is looking forward to a great week!!!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Best Thing I've Ever Made

Holy moly. Last week I made Broiled Herb Marinated Shrimp from March's Cooking Light. These shrimp were AMAZING. I would have been impressed if I had gotten these in a restaurant. Best part is that the herbs I used were from my little patio garden project I'm trying out this year!!! I just went out side, snipped the needed herbs and was ready to go!!!!

Here is the amazing recipe:

Broiled Herb-Marinated Shrimp Skewers
3/4 cup fresh cilantro
3/4 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup basil
3 tablespoons EVOO
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves
24 jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined

1. Combine first 10 ingredients in a food processor, process until smooth. Place in a bowl, add shrimp, toss to coat, and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 mins, stirring occasionally.

2. Preheat broiler to high

3. Remove shrimp from marinade, thread 6 shrimp on wooden skewers. Place skewers on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 5 inches from heat for 2 minutes on each side.

We just had the shrimp by themselves with a vegetable. I think next time I would serve them over pasta with a light lemon garlic sauce.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

black thumb?

This year I decided that I wanted to try and grow some vegetables and herbs on our balcony. I love the idea of just picking fresh vegetables and taking them straight to the kitchen for dinner.

We bought two large pots to start our container garden. We got two different varieties of tomatoes and three types of herbs, cilantro, basil, and parsley. We spent just under $100 to get everything, the bulk of which was the pots. I don't expect to break even this year in savings, but I think next year when all we need is plants and soil we might actually be saving some cash.

The tomatoes said they would take 60-70 days, I'm getting impatient!!! We bought the plants already started, I didn't trust myself to start from seeds. Perhaps we can try seedlings if we have good veggies and herbs this year.

 Sweet Basil (which smells AMAZING)

I've already used the herbs in several dishes. I love just going out to the balcony, snipping off what I need and using it that night!!! The cilantro seems to be the most resilient, growing back quickly after I use some. The parsley and basil seem to be taking a bit longer to grow back, I hope I can keep everything going to have a fresh supply all summer long.

One of the two tomato plants seems to be thriving while the other doesn't seem like it's doing so well. The taller one has starting sprouting small yellow flowers, which I've learned through some research, will be where the tomatoes will eventually be. This morning I saw a little pea sized bulb from one of the flowers, I think it's the beginning of my first tomato!!! I can't wait to see how everything grows.

 Thriving Tomato Plant (with Basil)
 Not So Thriving (with cilantro and parsley)
 The yellow flowers and first little bud of a tomato!!!!!!

I wish I had taken pictures when we first got started, I can't even remember how small the taller plant was when we brought it home, but I know it's grown leaps and bounds! I'll keep you updated with the progress as we hopefully get a plentiful bounty all summer long!!!

Have you ever tried container gardening? Besides tomatoes and herbs, anything else seem to grow especially well in container gardens?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Hubs!!!!

Happy Birthday to my most favoritist person in the world. 
You are my best friend and my partner in crime. 
I can't imagine life without you in it every single day.
I missed the heck outta you this weekend, but I think the pups missed you more.

Never, EVER stop rocking out exactly like this.
I love you.
Happy Birthday!!!!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Feliz Cinco de Mayo (over a week late)

Hello my lovelies!!!! I hope you are having a fabulous weekend. I'm a bit late in posting my mexican favorites, but better late than never, right?

As I said before, I am love love loving Hungry Girl's recipes. Hubs' favorite is by far the taquitos. Don't worry, they are super east and low in WW points too! #winning

So here is the Hungry Girl Recipe for exploding chicken taquitos:

You will need:
One 9.75 can of fat free chunk white chicken, drained and flaked
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded fat free shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon of dry taco mix
8 6-inch tortillas

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • combine chicken and salsa, cover and refrigerate for 15 mins
  • remove chicken from fridge and drain any excess liquid. add cheese and taco seasoning
  • spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray
  • dampen two paper towels and place tortillas between them, microwave for 1 minute
  • take one tortilla from the stack, spray both sides lightly with nonstick spray. Lay flay and spoon about 2 heaping tablespoons of filling onto the tortilla and spread evenly. 
  • roll tortilla up tightly and secure with a toothpick
  • repeat with all of the remaining tortillas
  • bake for 14-16 minutes until crispy
  • serve as they are or add red enchilada sauce, additional salsa, or sour cream

    Makes 4 2-taquito servings. Only 197 calories per serving, 2.5g fat, 594mg sodium, 22.5 carbs, 3g fiber, 20.5g protein (using Hungry Girl's nutritional info, I calculated this to be 5 pts per serving)

    Of course to go with taquitos, you need margaritas. My current fav cocktail is the Skinny Girl Margaritas with an extra shot of tequila. Just pour over rocks and serve!!! YUMMMMMMM and guilt free!!!!! I had three of these and it was a total of 9 points, not too shabby for a cocktail!

    Friday, April 29, 2011

    Royal Perfection

    I was going to do a super wordy post about how much I loved the wedding, her dress, the couple, blah blah blah. If you somehow were under a rock, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. I'll just say I laughed, I cried, I cheered, and I drank sparkling cider.

    Two alarms set to ensure I wouldn't miss a beat.

    At the first commercial break I opened the Sparkling cider to enjoy something bubbly during the wedding. (unfortunately I had to be at work as soon as the kiss was over, so no mimosas or Pimms for me)

     The Guests... (from

    The Groom (From Huffington Post)

    The Maid of Honor (from

    The Bride and her GORGEOUS dress (from

     The Ceremony (from

    The sly looks from the groom. He loves his new wife. (From Huffington Post)

    The Kiss at Buckingham Palace (from

    The getaway car (from

    All in all, sheer perfection. I loved every second of it. My next wedding will be exactly like this one (British public and all)

    *First two pictures are my own.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    He loves my cooking so much he bought me flowers

    True story. I came home from work last Friday and there was a bouquet sitting on the counter. Then I started to look around and he had cleaned the whole condo too!!! What a man. The note with the flowers said he's enjoyed my new found love for cooking so much that he wanted to say Thank You. I'll take that any day!!!

    So I have been cooking a lot more recently. I borrowed The Hungry Girl 1-2-3 Cookbook from a friend and starting making up every recipe I could. They are all super low in points, SUPER easy to make, and delicious to boot!!!! I loved them so much that I sprung for her 300 under 300 Cookbook as well. Our three favorite recipes so far have been her Yumbo Gumbo, Exploding Chicken Taquitos, and Slow-Cooking BBQ Chicken. Like the bad little blogger I am, I haven't taken any pictures. As soon as it's done cooking, I'm ready to dig in!

    One of my favorite parts of her cookbooks is that once you stock up on some basics, you can make almost anything. You get the spices for a couple recipes and then you can mix and match for most of the others. She has a lot of chicken recipes, so as long as I take a quick look at the beginning of the week, I can grab all of the supplemental ingredients in one stop at the grocery store.

    Let's start with the first recipe that made us say "Holy cow, this is amazeballs". We had it just with a salad and a vegetable, but this would be amazing as pulled chicken bbq sandwiches and would be a definite crowd pleaser. I made this one night when my mom came over for dinner and was nervous about serving crock pot bbq chicken, but this blew our socks off. (I have made a much simpler version of just pouring bbq sauce over chicken in the crock pot, but this is SO much better and I'll never go back.)

    Hungry Girl 1-2-3: The Easiest, Most Delicious, Guilt-Free Recipes on the Planet

    slow-cookin' bbq chicken (From The Hungry Girl 1-2-3 Cookbook)
    1 serving (1/2 Cup) = 3 PointsPlus*

    Ingredients: 1 cup canned tomato sauce, 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of both brown sugar and cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 1/2 lbs raw boneless skinless lean chicken breasts, halved, optional: crushed red pepper

    Directions: Mix all ingredients except chicken in a crock pot. Stir until well mixed. Add chicken and coat well. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8 hours. About 10-15 mins before serving, shred chicken with two forks and stir into sauce.

    Next up....Taquitos!!!!!!!

    *PointsPlus calculated by me based on nutritional information provided by Hungry Girl.
    **This is not a sponsored post, Hungry Girl has no idea who I am, just sharing some amazing recipes that I've enjoyed.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Busy with The List

    We've crossed off three more from my 101 in 1001 list in the past couple of weeks! I've completed 30 goals so far and with a little under a year left, better get working on the rest!!!

    #79: We bought a king sized bed a couple weeks ago after a few too many sleepless nights on our old crappy mattress. It was fun trying out all the beds and we were happy to both agree on our favorite. So I hit the interwebs and several brick and mortar stores to outfit our new bed. I got a duvet from, the sheets from Home Goods, and a bed skirt from Target. I got two pillows from Etsy and then we were done! We have been LOVING our good night's rest for the past couple of weeks and I can honestly say getting a new mattress really has made a world of difference. I'm sleeping through the night and waking up feeling rested and refreshed. Here is what it looks like when everything gets made up, which is maybe twice a week. The headboard I made for the queen sized bed doesn't even look so out of place. I had made it a little big to begin with, so it's just a teensy bit short for the king size.

    #56 We also completed our visits of 5 different states with our trip to Chicago. Like I said in our trip recap post, we have a blast exploring new places and this has been fun to see so many different parts of our country. I know we'll continue to make travel a priority and are already day dreaming about our next trip.

    #94 I also blew the Open Table points out of the water. Our anniversary dinner would have been our 20th reservation and put my points at the 2,000 goal, however, that reservation was worth 1,000 points by itself!!! Getting to 10,000 to cash in for the $100 gift card doesn't seem so impossible if we book a couple more 1,000 point reservations!

    Are you working on a list of goals? How are you doing on yours?

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Adventures in the Windy City

    This year Hubs and I took off to Chicago for our Anniversary. We love exploring new places and love big cities. Last year it was NYC, then on to Chicago, maybe next year I'll find some place warm to go since heading north isn't generally a good idea in March.

    We only had 2 1/2 days there, so we had to squeeze as much in as we could. On Saturday after checking in at The Drake

    and taking a quick power nap, we headed to the Hancock Building. There is a bar/lounge on the 96th floor. We headed up to grab some cocktails and watch the sunset over the city. 

    From there we headed out for none other than Chicago Deep Dish. We had seen the Food Network's challenge of Chicago vs. New York pizza. We knew we would probably be squarely on the New York side, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be delicious! We headed to Giodorno's. Half an hour into our hour wait we had to order so our pizza would be ready shortly after our table was ready. 

    I thought it was delish. You can't compare it to NY Style pizza. They are so different. Deep dish was more of a pasta dish than pizza to me, I had to use a fork and knife to eat it. They are good at what they do though, good enough for us to decide we needed to try Lou Malnati's later in the trip. 

    The next day we woke up, enjoyed brunch, booked a tour for the next day, then headed out on foot to explore the city. We walked down the Magnificent Mile but didn't stop to do any shopping. Our first stop was at Millennium Park. It is such a cool place next to the skyscrapers and historical buildings. Of course we had to get some pictures at The Bean:

    We then walked up to the top of the Art Museam for some more pictures until my camera died. (Note to self: check that camera is charged before vacations). We hiked from there over to the Navy Pier. It was pretty empty, but it was also in the 30's. Not a ton of people out enjoying the icy wind like we were!

    For lunch we went to try out Al's Italian Beef. Hubs had seen something about it on Man Vs. Food, but I didn't know anything. When they asked me if I wanted my sandwich "dipped" I had no idea what the right answer would be. It turns out, even if you say No, it'll still probably get dipped. We were not impressed with Al's, so with that, we headed back to the hotel to nap before dinner.

    That night we went to Rosebud for dinner, I had no idea when I was booking the reservations, but it was on the same block as the hotel, that worked out nicely!!!! We had a fantastic steak dinner and then headed down a couple blocks to Jilly's, a piano bar I had found on Yelp. 
    The description said this place would be a hit for fans of The Rat Pack. It did not disappoint. We had a blast at Jilly's. 

    On Monday we had booked a tour with The Untouchables to see all the Gangster and Mob historical places around the city. We saw bullet holes left over from one killing at a cathedral (Sorry, I didn't take any notes and lost the handouts they gave us)
    They took us through Capone's history along with several others. The guys leading the tour were SUPER cheesy, but it was fun and a good way to see much more of the city. (We also drove by Harpo Studios, too bad we couldn't get in for one of Oprah's final shows)

    Then it was back to the hotel for another nap (we love sleeping) and to get ready for our big anniversary dinner! We had brought wine from the vineyard where we got married and stopped at Sprinkles for a red velvet cupcake to share. 

    Dinner that night was a Cafe Spiaggia, again I managed to book a dinner right across the street from our hotel. Dinner was amazing. We were in our own little world, lingering over each course, just chatting and enjoying our evening. From there we went back to The Drake to have a night cap in their bar.

    Tuesday was a relaxing morning of breakfast and packing and then we wandered over to Portillo's for hot dogs. These dogs are LOADED. Hubs got a traditional dog that is served with everything including tomatoes and pickles. I got a chili cheese dog. Both were amazing.

    From there it was back to the hotel to collect our bags, hop in a cab, and wave adios to a spectacular city. It was another successful trip and an amazing anniversary. I can't believe it's been two years already! Seems like just yesterday I was running down the aisle to marry my man! And what kind of anniversary post would it be without gratuitous wedding pics??? Here you go!!!!!!