The happenings of my hectic and eclectic life!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Strolling Along

Sometimes you just don’t know what you’re missing out on.

I think there are lots of times in life where you can get caught up in your daily routine. Just going about your business, not really realizing things can be different. Things can be better.

I purchased my first jogging stroller when my son, Kaleb, was about a year old. I was just starting to get into running and I thought it would be a great way to multi-task on the mornings I stayed home with him. At the time I could run about two miles on my own. Not knowing how it would work out for the two of us I decided to purchase the “cheapest” jogging stroller I could find. After reading tons of reviews I decided on a Baby Trend Expedition stroller that I purchased at Target.

For the last two years the Baby Trend stroller has worked out just fine. For my purposes it held up rather well, but I do think it depends on how serious you are about running with the stroller and what surfaces you are going to be using it on. We used the stroller once a week to participate in my Strollers in Motion workout class through Mommy Movement Fitness [] Depending on the weather we also run one to two times per week, about three miles each run. We run on the sidewalk along city streets which means tons of bumps and uneven sidewalks. Then for some reason in Wichita the sidewalk mysteriously ends in the middle of the city block and then starts up again. This I will never understand.

We mostly run the same route. So this has resulted in me developing quite the system for making it through our 3 miles. There are several times when I have to lift up the stroller, walk quickly through the grass and duck to avoid low hanging tree branches. It takes quite the concentration. One wrong move and BAM - we hit the sidewalk wrong and everything (including my iPhone) goes flying out onto the sidewalk. Stop, reload and we are off again. Depending on the day we could experience this technical difficulty more than once a stroller run, or not at all.

But again, when you don’t know any different you go about your daily routine doing the same thing. Never realizing things could be so much easier.

Enter BOB Stroller.

I had heard plenty about BOB Strollers and I know tons of Mom’s who own them. I’ve heard nothing but the best about them. The only thing shying me away was the price. It took a little convincing. I can’t say my husband jumped up and down at the idea of spending a good chunk of change on a stroller. But it was worth. every. penny.

I purchased my BOB Revolution SE Single Stroller from the Jogger Mom website
Here’s a picture of my new BOB Stroller after I finished putting it together!
The stroller can purchased here
I also purchased the handle bar console
Kaleb testing out his new ride! He told me, “Mom, you ride and I will stroll!”

I could tell from the first moment we headed out with the new stroller that things were going to be different. I can not believe hard I was working before. I’m going to have to find another way to burn off the extra calories I used to push my first stroller. We took our usual route and I could feel the hesitation mounting as we got ready to hit the first uneven part of the sidewalk. It was amazing!! We flew over the bumps without a single problem. (Kaleb didn’t have to hang on for dear life) At that point I was totally hooked. The difference was unbelievable. My run was so relaxing I actually found my mind drifting for a while....

Kaleb says he really likes his new stroller! I used to joke before that running with the stroller was my “make up” run if I missed my run I was supposed to do on my own. Although I love going out with Kaleb, it was sometimes a total hassle to take the stroller out. Now I can really enjoy our runs together! There are so many things I love about my stroller, but a few of my favorites are that the handle bar hits me right at my waist, the handle bar console has cup holders that are so much deeper, the whole inside of the stroller seat is padded and the sun shade is so much bigger! Things have been massively improved for both of us. 

If you are thinking about purchasing a BOB Stroller, I highly recommend using I was very impressed with the personal customer service I was provided from Jogger Mom. After purchasing my stroller I received an e-mail from the founder, Kelly Morse, sharing with me her personal story. When you call for assistance with your order you are also connected to Kelly directly and if she is not available you can leave her a voicemail message. When is that ever the case?!I also received a follow up e-mail a week after I received my stroller asking me if I was happy with my purchase and to review my item online.

Owning a jogging stroller has allowed me more flexibility in my routine. When things get crazy and something gets in the way of my regular workout schedule, then it provides a great back up plan. It allows me to do something for myself without having to find a babysitter and I think the fresh air and sightseeing are good for my son. It’s time that we get to spend together discussing what we see. And it always helps to have him telling me to “go faster Mommy!”

As I mentioned earlier, I think it depends on your needs for a jogging stroller and how much you plan on using it. My personal experience is that this is an instance when you get what you pay for. My only regret is that I didn’t purchase a BOB stroller two years ago! I’m happy to hear “I told you so,” from anyone who wants to throw one my way!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The “Mandatory” Rest Week

Who loves a “mandatory” rest week?! I do! I do!

I believe in rest. Yes, this is coming from a lady who goes to bed every night at 9:30 pm and would nap every day if I could. But, I also love it from a workout perspective. I’ve trained for four half marathons while running only three times a week and cross training two days. It works well for my body to rest in between my running days. And I am convinced that I need to just sit on the couch every few days. That’s not only good for my body but my sanity as well.

After running my farthest distance in my running career I decided I need to make myself rest from running for the entire week. I still participated in my regular Mommy Movement Fitness activities ( so Kaleb and I went to Strollers in Motion the day after the race and then I have been attending Core Fusion on Thursday nights.

The rest of the time I’ve been doing whatever I want! As someone who constantly has a list of projects to start and in the works I was really looking forward to this week to tackle some things. This week I’m going to share with you the “mashup” of things I’ve been doing recently and during my rest week.

Lunchtime Vegetarian

My friend Emily turned me on to a vegetarian blog called Cookie and Kate ( and of course, I’m addicted to it! The recipes are fantastic and the pictures are beautiful. I highly recommend checking it out!

I’m not a vegetarian, but I started eating vegetarian recipes for lunch as a way to incorporate more vegetables into my diet. I’ve been doing this for about three weeks now and it’s been really fun! Are you thinking, she’s got to be kidding? Who calls eating vegetables FUN?! But it’s been a great experience because it’s broadened my horizons. So far I’ve branched out to try brussel sprouts, butternut squash and quinoa and I’ve been baking with whole wheat flour. It’s been a great learning experience! I’m not gonna lie, I am kinda of enjoying hunting things down in the grocery store that I’ve never bought before.

Before you think I’m completely crazy, for me, having a healthy lunch with a 3 year old can be difficult because things get rushed and crazy and I tend to forget about myself. My system for awhile now has been to choose two recipes, make them both on Sunday and then alternate eating them throughout the week. There’s usually a day or two in there where I can mix it up with leftovers. But I’ve found it’s easy to make good choices when the food is already prepared and all I have to do is scoop it out and heat it up!

For the past couple of weeks I’ve picked two recipes from Cookie and Kate and also baked one item as well which I have used either as a side to my lunch or as an afternoon snack. From Cookie and Kate I have tried:

Honey Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread
Apple Oatmeal Muffins
Butternut Squash Vegetarian Chili
Green Bean Quinoa Salad with Feta Spicy
Sun Dried Tomato and Broccoli Pasta
Strawberry, Basil and Goat Cheese Panini
Baked Chiocciole with Brussel Sprouts, Apples and Blue Cheese
Sesame Soba Noodles
Pear, Raspberry and Goat Cheese Crostini

My favorite so far was the Butternut Squash Chili! I ended up eating half of the chili for two meals and then freezing the other half of the recipe. It froze nicely and then I ended up reheating it another week and finishing it off! Although next time I will be research how to take on a butternut squash cause tackling that thing was the hardest part of the recipe!

I also tried a great recipe for Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos. Delicious and super easy!

Time to Get Crafty

I got out my crochet needles for someone special….and whipped up this newsboy hat!

Turns out I haven’t crocheted anything in a year! I learned my lesson about cleaning up after myself because all of my crochet stuff was a total mess. But it was fun to get out a pattern and make something again. Thank you to my dear friend Shalyn for asking me to get back in the saddle. Turns out getting back into crocheting really was just like riding a bicycle (or a horse?!)

My next project was making a dinosaur costume for my little one!!  This is something that was near and dear to my heart because I have very fond memories of my Mom making all of my Halloween costumes. I loved going to the fabric store with her to pick out the pattern and fabric. My Mom is a fantastic seamstress and I was spoiled by her skills!

Here’s my Snow White costume my Mom made me when I was little. I told you she was fantastic!

My sewing skills are minimal, so I was ridiculously excited when I was able to create this for Kaleb! And I did immediately call my Mom to make her FaceTime with me so I could show her!  Yes, I was photographing a moving target aka Dino…  

Thank you Just Sew Sassy for this fantastic tutorial!

What Next?

I also spent part of this week thinking about what I want to do next. I love a routine. In fact I had a minor freak out the Monday after my race. I normally run on Tuesday morning so before bed I was talking to my husband about the morning routine. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that I wasn’t going to run in the morning and it completely threw me!

Doing the Johnston’s Half Marathon in April is already on my radar, but I don’t usually start training for that until February. I did my first triathlon this summer and there’s an indoor tri coming up at the YMCA in December. So I think I’m going to give another go! 

It’s time to shift gears and get going again! I hope you spent your week doing something you love and possibly even trying something new!   

Monday, October 15, 2012

The 3/4 Marathon

I guess in the back of my mind I kind of suspected this was going to happen.

The plan was to run my half marathon in the middle of my friend Amee’s full marathon OR miles 7-20 of the full Prairie Fire Marathon. I even went so far as to tell Amee’s Mom she needed to make me get into the car at mile 20. I might have gotten more suspicious of myself then.

So yes, race day I ran 19.25 miles. Or, as it’s now been dubbed, 3/4 of a marathon. 

But let me back up a bit.

This is Amee, my running partner.

For those of you who have serious running partners, you know exactly what I mean when you read the words running partner. For those of you who don’t know, it’s an irreplaceable bond. A true running partner is hard to come by. Someone you spend hours with, sweat with and discuss the good and bad (and really disgusting) things about running with. And mine’s the greatest!

I’ve had several people try to talk me into running a marathon. It’s just not for me at this point in my life. I’m a half marathon runner and that is just fine by me. For the last two years I’ve run one half in the spring and one half in the fall. It works out perfectly. By the time I’m finished training I’m over it and need a break. And when it’s time to start training again I’m more than ready. It’s been a happy cycle in my life. So when Amee thought about doing the full marathon, being the good friend that I am, I did my best to help talk her into it!

Thus began what I like to call “half-sies” training. The decision being that I would run half of all of her long runs with her. If she went 10, I went 5. If she went 20, I went 10 and so on and so forth. First, this was fine by me! I was coming off completing my first triathlon and was no way looking to get back in to regimented training schedule. So I really enjoyed saying “what are we running this week” for a change. Second, this also meant I could never complain. And if it crossed my mind at any time I reminded myself that Amee had already run twice as far as me that day so I better shut my mouth. 

All that training, talking about it and the day was FINALLY here!

Here we go!

Picking Amee up at the full marathon mile 7. That’s my little one, Kaleb, who wanted to be a part of the race so badly!

Being the official pacer. Thanks Candice for the Garmin!

These are the cute shirts I had made for us! Thank you Great Image Designs! Mine says “support crew” and Amee’s says, “Don’t mess with a girl who runs 26.2 miles for fun.” Amen.
Yep, there’s Kaleb again….

So, back to the beginning of the story. After some discussion around her mile 15, Amee thought leaving her at mile 20 with 6 more to go (or another hour of running alone) sounded like a long time. I agreed I would stay to mile 23 because that was still a convenient time to get picked up and make it to the end to see her finish.

But I just couldn’t leave her.

Several times she told me she was fine so I didn’t do it because she asked me to. There was something about me feeling like I belonged with her. All those countless hours of training together, talking about this day, planning the route….the outfits. I just wanted to stay with her.

Then at mile 23 that crazy runner inside of me took over and I wanted to make it to the finish line!!

What I did for her is something I simply chose to do to be a good friend. Yes, it’s the farthest I’ve ever run (and plan to run), but it compares in no way to the four months of training she did or her deep commitment to eating Chipotle once a week before each of her long runs. I consider myself lucky to have run 19.25 miles with her. I never heard her complain. She smiled the WHOLE TIME. I kept telling people during the week leading up to the race, “she’s a really tough cookie.” And while that makes me sound like an old lady, I really meant it. I knew she could do it. I never doubted her, even for a second. To say that I am proud is not even close.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your crazy adventure and congratulations to you, Amee! You are an amazing woman, strong person and someone I am not only able to call my very good friend, but my running partner!


The entire support crew!

My little finisher….

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fresh Faced and Fancy Free

Next month I’m celebrating my 5 year anniversary of my move to Wichita. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years! Although my Mom says she feels like I’ve been gone forever…

Lots of things changed when I moved here. But one change is that the climate here is way different than it is in Milwaukee. I went from having extremely dry skin, to the point of putting body lotion on my face to fix the flaking to my having my make-up melt off in the humidity here. I also starting exercising more regularly and that caused another whole host of skin problems. In time I’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t. But for a product junkie like me, who doesn’t love to continue on the quest to find the perfect make-up?!

Before I moved here I wore bareMinerals make-up for about 5 years. I continued to wear it once I moved here, but eventually I decided to look for something with more coverage.

So I made the switch to NARS make-up. Some of you may have heard of the famous Orgasm blush that flatters every skin color, which is fantastic by the way! I’ve tried several of their products. I started with the Sheer Glow Foundation and then switched to the Sheer Matte Foundation. I most recently switched to their Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer that they launched this past summer and this is random, but my favorite part about the tinted moisturizer was the smell!


Although I do recommend NARS, there were a few minor problems. The coverage is so great that if got any kind of tan in the summer my face color no longer matched my neck color and we all know that’s a great look. But, I mixed the tinted moisturizer with the Laguna Body Illuminator and that solved the non-matching skin color problem. I also had problems getting the Sheer Glow and Sheer Matte foundation out of the bottle. I found it was inconsistent in how much would come out and then sometimes I’d get to much. No one wants to waste expensive foundation!! So I did prefer that you squeeze out the tinted moisturizer.

Time for a change

I can’t pinpoint what exactly made me want to go back to bareMinerals. I may have been enticed by the beautiful new store they just put in our mall. Yes, I can be enticed by anything with sparkles and glitter. Or just the fact that it had worked for me for so many years. 

Back in the day…ok 5 years ago…bareMinerals was such a big mess to apply. Yes, you can adjust to the fact that every thing came in a powder form. But it was still difficult to travel with. I’d pack it all and find that once I got to my destination something would get turned over and all the make up would be through the little sifting holes. BIG disaster. So, in the time I was “cheating” with my NARS make-up someone gave them the memo and major changes have been made. Everything comes in compacts now. Yes, you read me right. Pressed powders!

I never really could totally adjust to applying foundation with my hands, so I love that bareMinerals foundation is applied with a brush. And my timing was perfect because in September they introduced their new Hydrating bareMinerals READY SPF 20 Foundation. I’m also loving the new Precision Face Brush, which is shown below. It comes full size and in a retractable size to throw in your purse!

So far I’ve been very impressed! It’s taken me a bit to find my “happy place” in how much product to apply. But the girls as the store kept describing it as a “buildable” foundation and I would completely agree with that. You can start slowly and add as much as you need. The coverage is great! I’ve found it lasts for sure for 8 hours without budging. Also, I had a FANTASTIC experience at the store. The ladies who worked there were super helpful and not only asked my opinion in choosing between three foundation colors, but then when over different application techniques. I was able to go make-up shopping at an off time (7:00pm on a Monday night) so the girls were just hanging out and I think were entertaining themselves by helping me. No complaints there!

On a random side note, I actually dislike the tagline of their new campaign. I only bring this up because it bugs me every time I see it in a magazine. It makes me think they are saying, we don’t like profanity…but we use it anyways. 


So I had to do some research and according to ( “'We Don't Like Using the F-Word' aligns with the brand's innate desire to challenge the status quo while offering a unique perspective on what bareMinerals READY SPF 20 Foundation can do for the skin. No visible trace of makeup, no parabens or harsh chemicals, no dreaded line of demarcation — simply smooth, fresh, younger-looking skin.” Still not quite seeing the relation between that and using the “F-word” which does not make me think of the word foundation. 

My only other complaint is that all of the compacts look exactly the same. Since I use 5 different compacts to complete the make-up process I end up having to flip them over each time to figure out which product I’m looking for. I’ve now created a system for putting them to the side, product information up, so there’s a process of elimination in what I’m looking for next.

That aside, it is working wonders and I don’t see myself switching to another make-up line any time soon!

Two more new additions to my make-up routine! I purchased both at Sephora. I was “talked into” the eyelash primer. I’m giving it a try although I haven’t fallen in love with any make-up primer, I
kinda think all primer is a scam. But, if you have a favorite primer I’d love to hear!

Diorshow Extase Mascara ($28.50)
Dior Show Extase

Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum ($28)

Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum

The Lash Plumping Serum is applied before you put on your mascara and again at night. I’m loving both so far and a friend of mine told me my eyelashes are going “wah-bam” these days!

Freshening up your look can always be fun! So, take a chance and free yourself!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Festive Fall

Cue the sappy love song. I am in LOVE with my convection oven…

After putting it to good use the past two weeks, I’ve realized that I could never go back. The results are fantastic. All of my baked good have come out so much more moist and cooked more even. And let’s talk about the multi-tasking…I can cook multiple things on different racks at the same time. It’s heavenly.

Let me also tell you I was really glad that this was my longest training week for my upcoming half marathon. After having to taste test everything I was making (cue sad love song…you feel so bad for me, right?) I was happy to be running off the extra calories and also checking off the long miles.

It’s officially the day that Autumn begins AND my parents are coming to visit! So I decided to be a “Pintester” this week and try out some of the ideas I’ve pinned lately to serve to my “guests” and to celebrate fall. Here we go….

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I kept seeing this recipe for pumpkin cupcakes floating around on Pinterest. The recipe called for a box of yellow cake mix and 1 15 oz can of pumpkin. That’s it. Then a Facebook friend posted that she made the same thing using a box of spice cake mix instead of the yellow cake mix and a can of pumpkin. I was intrigued and for me, that’s usually all it takes to send me off on a mission.

Last week I tried a recipe for Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins that was just mediocre. If I’m going to bake, go to all that effort, make a big mess and consume the calories, it better be delicious. I wasn’t jumping up and down over it, however the frosting was fantastic! So I decided to combine the Pinterest recipe, the frosting from the Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins AND some mini chocolate chips because they just make everything better. These muffins are AMAZING! I finished making them, taste tested and texted my friend to tell her I was dying in delicious-ness. It’s so simple there’s no way you can’t try it.

No joke in the original recipe there are two ingredients.
Ingredients 2

1 box spice cake mix
1 15oz can of pumpkin

Then I decided to doctor it up a bit by adding...
⅛ tsp each of Cinnamon, All Spice and Cloves
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix together until all ingredients are combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes. Or follow cake box directions as if you are baking cupcakes. This recipe made 18 muffins.

On to the frosting. The frosting recipe I tried last week was a cream cheese frosting made from scratch. It was delicious, however I struggled with getting the consistency right. So instead of going to all that effort again, I decided to purchase store bought cream cheese frosting and doctor it up the way it was in the original recipe. I kept the same idea which was adding vanilla and maple flavoring to your cream cheese frosting. YUM. I would definitely do this again instead of messing around with making my own frosting.

Vanilla Maple Frosting
1 can store bought cream cheese frosting
1 T Vanilla extract
½ T Maple flavoring

Although I lack a food stylist (yes, I learned last week there is such a thing), I still thought they turned out pretty enough I could post a picture!
Pumpkin Muffins
I decided to make this next recipe because my e-mail inbox was filling up with notifications that someone had “repinned” my pin. So I thought a lot of you might be curious about this one as well!

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Streusel Coffee Cake
Coffee Cake

The recipe comes from the Pine Cones and Acorns blog. Everything on this blog looks yummy and is photographed beautifully! You can find the recipe here:
The original recipe calls for baking this cake in a 6 inch spring form pan. I didn’t have one so I lined a 6 inch Corningware dish with wax paper and baked in that. I left enough of an edge of wax paper sticking out of the pan that I could grab it and lift the coffee cake out once it cooled.

In all honesty the recipe is a little labor intensive. I like my baking quick and fabulous. So make sure you have time if you’re going to tackle this one. The inside of the coffee cake is delicious! The spice in the cake is just right and the cream cheese mixture is yummy! However, I thought the topping left much to be desired. If anyone else wants to test out this recipe and offer suggestions for improvement I’d love to hear them! I think the topping needs something to truly kick this recipe out of the park.

Are you beginning to see why all the running this week was necessary?! Two more delicious treats…

Pumpkin Hot Chocolate

1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon hot chocolate mix (I used chocolate and french vanilla cocoa mix)
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (to taste)

Whisk together the ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat.

{My Mom and I are also on a mission to perfect a Pumpkin Latte recipe while she is here! If we create the perfect concoction I’ll be sure to share!}
Caramel Apple Salad

I’ve had this recipe for some time and love to make it every fall when my parents visit! It feeds an army so make sure you invite your friends over!

4 red apples
4 green apples
1 8oz container Cool Whip (I use fat free Cool Whip)
1 15oz container pineapple tidbits, do not drain the juice
1 6oz package butterscotch pudding (I use sugar free pudding)

Chop the apples into pieces. Mix together Cool Whip, pineapple tidbits with the juice and pudding mix. Fold in apples. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Fall Decorations

Where are we going to eat all of this delicious food?? I couldn’t prepare all of these yummy recipes without creating a festive fall table for us to sit at. It all started with these cute, retro owl plates I saw in our local grocery store ad. I couldn’t pass them up as I thought they would add a whimsical touch to my table this fall. I was super excited to get them on sale and had an addition 20% off coupon. Deal alert!

How cute are these guys?!

I used this picture I pinned on Pinterest as inspiration for the rest of my table decorations!
Fall Table Box

I purchased 3 yards of burlap fabric at Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon for my table. I bought the decorative pumpkins, leaves and moss to fill the wooden box at the Dollar Store for $1 for each item. I used battery operated candles instead of real candles, which if you don’t own any, I highly recommend!

Add the owl plates and VOILA!
Table collage

I can’t wait for my parents to arrive to enjoy the comfort of family as our festive fall begins!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I'm excited to be a part of the link party at High Heels and Grills and to get linked up with some great bloggers! Their blog has some FANTASTIC recipes and we all know I love those!

Join the link party today!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Did you miss the zucchini boat?

I did. It was sailing right past me. I was happily going along believing I didn’t like zucchini.

Turns out, I actually don’t care for yellow summer squash. Who knew? Because they are very commonly served together I had no idea I actually love zucchini. Going along with my typical behavior, an obsession began. All summer long I purchased 2 zucchini a week and looked for recipes to prepare it. After trying many different things I thought I would share three of my favorite recipes!

Because this blog should probably be at least a little bit educational, let’s learn a few things.

Zucchini is a type of summer squash and is actually a fruit, which may come up sometime when you are playing Trivial Pursuit so you can thank me later. In a culinary sense it is usually served as a vegetable, thus the tricky question. It is a very low calorie vegetable that is often used during weight reduction and cholesterol control programs. Each zucchini has only 17 calories! They contain no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers. Zucchini is a very good source of potassium, which is a heart friendly electrolyte. It helps reduce blood pressure and heart rates by countering the effects of sodium. Zucchinis are available all year long, but they are at their best during late spring and summer seasons.

Here are some helpful hints for choosing a zucchini when shopping. In the stores choose small to medium sized zucchini featuring shiny, bright green skin. It should be firm and heavy in your hand. The best size for zucchini is 6 to 8 inches long and 2 inches or less in diameter. They can be stored in your fridge for 2 to 3 days If you are looking for an easy suggestion try eating it raw in a salad or with a dip, mix it with other vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, asparagus and green beans or shredded and added to breads or muffins.

Here are my three favorite zucchini recipes!

Summer Tortellini Salad

I pinned the original recipe to Pinterest from a great blog called Real Mom Kitchen. You can find the original recipe here
I’ve prepared this recipe using low fat store bought ranch dressing. I’ve also purchased the Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning packet and made the dressing with skim milk and plain Greek yogurt. Both are great depending on how much time you have and how health conscious you are feeling. 

1 pkg. (9 oz.) uncooked refrigerated or frozen cheese-filled tortellini
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup you’re favorite ranch dressing
Parmesan cheese – to taste
  1. Cook tortellini according to package directions, drain and rinse under cold running water. Place tortellini in a large colander and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, slice zucchini. chop carrot(s). Cut tomatoes in half.
  3. Add vegetables to tortellini.
  4. Either make salad dressing or pour store bought dressing over salad. Grate parmesan cheese over salad. cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Yield: 6 servings

Zucchini Rice Casserole

You can find the original recipe here:
I first discovered this recipe when I was meal planning for the week of my half marathon this past spring. I was looking for a way to incorporate healthy carbs into my diet for the week. It’s delicious and the pepper jack cheese gives it just the right kick. I’ve made the entire recipe and then frozen half of it and twice I’ve halved the recipe and that worked out great as well. One time, in an effort to make the recipe more healthy I decided not to add the cream cheese at the end. Huge mistake. So run an extra mile, do a few more jumping jacks, whatever makes you feel better about it. Just don’t skip the cream cheese.

The original recipe calls for 2 hours preparation time and who has time for that?! Below is how I modified the original recipe to make it work for me.

1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
¼ cup water
4 cups diced zucchini
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese, divided
1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces ground turkey
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Pour rice into a microwave safe dish and cook according to microwave preparation instructions
  3. Dice zucchini and set aside
  4. Meanwhile, whisk milk and flour in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until bubbling and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add 1 1/2 cups Jack cheese and corn and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted. Set aside.
  5. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add ground turkey. Cook, stirring and breaking the sausage into small pieces with a spoon, until lightly browned and no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
  6. When the rice is done, pour into the bottom of an 11 x 13 casserole dish. Add ground turkey, uncooked zucchini and top with cheese sauce. Dollop cream cheese by the teaspoonful over the casserole.
  7. I removed the chicken broth from this recipe so I usually pour about ¼ cup water over the casserole to keep it moist while baking.
  8. Bake casserole in the oven until the cheese is melted and top is beginning to brown. about 30-40 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips

I made this bread for a friend who just had a baby and she described it as “ah-mazing” so I had to share it. I follow this one according to the directions, but I do prefer to bake with mini chocolate chips instead of the regular size.

3/4 cup low-fat milk
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 small zucchini)
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla in a medium bowl. Stir in zucchini. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and chocolate chips to the dry ingredients; stir until just combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
  3. Bake until golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.
If I’ve given you an obsession with zucchini you might want to check out this website: for 100 ways to cook zucchini.

Main dish, side dish and dessert….I highly recommend you hop on board the zucchini boat before the weather gets too chilly!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nail Polish Is The New Lipstick

There’s just something about having polish on my nails. It makes me feel more put together and feminine. I think it has a way of completing your overall look and adds a finishing touch. To me, it’s kind of like putting on your makeup and then finishing with the perfect lip color.

What else is great about nail polish? It’s an easy way to try out a new trend with minimal commitment. The investment is small and nail polish is flattering to every body size and shape. As a Mom it can also be a great excuse to have “me” time or a way to bond with your daughter. You could also use it as an excuse to skip folding laundry because you can’t touch anything while your nails are wet.

In the heat of it all I truly embraced neon nails this summer. My favorites were neon pink and orange. The colors were so bright that every now and again I’d sneak a peek at my nails, forget they were painted neon and practically blind myself. It was ridiculous. But I’m over it. It’s still 100 degrees outside and I’ve moved on.

How can I tell? I’ve purchased 5 bottles of nail polish just this week! And they were all in shades perfect for fall.
While trying to decide which ones to invest in I came across a great review of the nail polish trends for fall on the Refinery 29 website. You can check it out at It summarizes the great trends for falls and provides tons of options and brands.

If you can’t spend all your money on nail polish, or buy five bottles of nail polish in one week (hello, ridiculous) then let’s talk about three colors you need in your collection for fall.
1. A neutral, think gray or beige
2. A red or wine color
3. A deep color such as a navy or burgundy

Here were my picks this week!
Nail Polish Collage

I’ve used OPI polish for years. I’ve always liked it and I think they have great colors. But I’ve recently developed and deep and meaningful relationship with Essie nail polish. I think makes your at home application appear more like a professional polish job and Essie is really affordable at about $8 a bottle.

Two are missing from the picture, which leads to another addiction….gel nail polish.

It’s fantastic, the finish is beautiful, it’s more natural looking than having artificial nails BUT if you get it done at a salon every two weeks it can be an expensive habit. I do my own gel nails at home using a Nailene gel kit with an LED light that I purchased from Walmart for $50. The kit came with a LED light, gel cleanser, gel primer, gel base & top coat, lint-free wipes, double sided nail buffer, manicure stick, and instruction sheet. Everything you need to get started!

Nailene nail kit

As far as gel nail polish brands I’ve tried Shellac, OPIAxxium, OPI Gel Color and Gelish. Gelish is by far my favorite. I purchase Gelish at Sally Beauty Supply. If you’ve never been before it’s a chain store that sells professional products that anyone can purchase. You do not have to be a licensed professional to shop there. Each mini Gelish bottle is about $15. If you really want to get the most bang for your buck you can purchase a bottle of Gelish that is twice the size of the mini ones you can purchase at Sally’s on for the same price they charge at Sally’s. So a full size bottle of nail polish for $15. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an immediate results kinda gal, so I just pay more to purchase it at Sally’s.

You can use all the supplies in your Nailene kit with your Gelish polish. I chose to buy the Gelish mini basics starter kit at Sally’s which includes gel cleanser, gel primer, gel base & top coat, cuticle oil and nail polish soak off. (mine did not come with light as shown in the picture below)

Gelish Mini Basics Kit

It cost me about $100 to get everything I needed to do my gel nails at home. It costs about $30-$35 to get a gel manicure in a salon. Although it might be a little more of an investment to get started doing your own gel nails at home you’ll have yourself paid back in about 3 manicures! I bought my supplies 7 months ago and am still using all of my original products! I re-do my gel polish every two weeks.

Here are the gel polishes I picked for my finger nails!

Gelish Collage

I’m looking forward to creating a lot of great combinations this fall with these five colors! I plan on matching the colors on my fingers and toes or mix things up and paint a different color on my fingers than toes. And one trend from the summer I’m going to keep up is painting my ring finger a different color! You can also consider adding a pattern or sparkle to your ring finger polish for a new look. It can be a fun way to change things up!

ring finger color

The next time you paint your pucker you just might want to paint your nails to add a little more polish to your life!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

An Intro To Me...

Welcome to my hectic and eclectic mashup life!

Sometimes I think to myself, “how did I get here?”

So many projects to complete, a list of things a mile long to accomplish…

and these are just the things I want to do for MYSELF, this doesn’t even include taking care of a husband, a 3 year old, a household, working full time and the list of necessary tasks goes on. My life has officially become hectic and eclectic, filled with a mashup of activities and goals.

Who am I? Just a regular, mid-western girl who seems to take pride in putting too much on my plate. I sometimes joke that I’m a “self-punisher” who every now and again has her head spinning around and each limb pulled in a different direction. Trying to live my normal life, run half marathons, scrapbook, craft and every now and again sit down and read a fashion magazine. Wondering again, how did I get here? So instead of fighting it, let’s embrace it. In fact, let’s blog about it.

It seems as though every week (or every day) I have a new obsession or in my opinion, fantastic idea. I make up my mind that I’m going to try something new and then I must not only complete it, but attempt to be fabulous at it. Oh and I have no patience so the results must happen immediately.

A friend and I joked 10 years ago that I should have a “recommendations website.” So, in a slightly different form, here it is. I’m looking forward to sharing with you my adventures in trying new projects, stories of how I took on new challenges as a novice and how it led to a path of success or total failure. Pictures and ideas of the fashion, hair and makeup trends I’m currently obsessed with, what I’m reading, the new challenges I’m taking on in a working out/running capacity, what I’m baking and a mashup of anything else I’m up to.

I’m hoping I can help you discover a few new things and that I will experience a little self discovery along the way.