Fitness Therapy

I forgot to mention yesterday, but WOW! You guys eat early! Maybe I should do a New Year’s Resolution to start eating earlier?

Ooh and I had fun reading about your eating styles! Glad to see I’m not the only one who gets skittish when it comes to ordering meat at a restaurant. Unless the restaurant states they source quality meats, I assume it’s factory. Ew.

On to today’s eats…

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I had a hard time thinking of something interesting to eat today, but finally came up with a simple yet savvy concoction.

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Of course, breakfast wouldn’t be complete without lovely, hot, comforting coffee in a Christmas mug. I love the shape of this mug!

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I ended up making french toast with Great Harvest Whole Grain Goodness.

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I made a quick apple-maple topping.

Quick Apple Topping Non-Recipe: add 1 small-chopped apple (remove skins if you want, but they have a lot of nutrition), 1/4 cup water, 2 – 4 tbsp maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want), and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Cook over medium heat to a boil, then simmer till apples are tender and sauce is reduced to your liking. Serve over french toast, pancakes, etc.

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Hubby and I had leftover baked ziti and homemade focaccia for lunch.

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Mmm…re-baked focaccia. :)

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I had a simple salad for some veg – organic baby spinach with red quinoa and balsamic vinaigrette. I’ve put grains, like wheat berries, in salad before, but I first saw quinoa in salads at Foodbuzz at the Fresh Express tasting table.

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And I had some steamed edamame a little later.

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Lookie what I got! The new ZLife, whic is the Zumba magazine.

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Speaking of Zumba, I taught a fabulous class tonight. I busted out a new song I choreographed, called Mira. :mrgreen:

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Once upon a time, I went with some friends to a cool club in Miami called “Mango’s Mambo Bar.”

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There, I saw girls in skimpy outfits dancing to hot Latin tunes, from Merengue to Reggaetton. The girls were hot, but to me…the dances were hotter! I used inspiration from that trip to choreograph my new Zumba dance – Mira by Fulanito (featuring Truko). My class loved it, and I had fun teaching it! Woohoo!

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I’m still working on my crochet ripple blanket, but I have a few other things in the works.

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Any guesses what this is?

Fitness Therapy

I tweeted this earlier today:

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I feel like workouts can be so therapeutic. I like getting different therapeutic value from different styles of exercise. I’ve found comfort and a feeling of refreshment from yoga. I’ve found freedom and endurance in running. I’ve found empowerment and excitement in Zumba. I wonder what other people think about how their workouts make them feel. I had a few people tweet back at me with their versions of therapy, but I’d like to hear from you guys, too…

What’s your fitness therapy? How does it make you feel during or after?

Yarn Ball + Blue Lagoon

Thank you everyone for your sweet comments on my 5k post – you guys are too kind! :)

After successfully running my first ever 5k, I went home, showered, blogged and then headed out for a yarn-y day with my friend Megan.

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We hit up Barnes & Noble and grabbed a table in the cafe. I love coming to bookstores to hang out. I like discovering new books and magazines and the generally relaxing environment. Sipping on hot lattes is pretty awesome, too.

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Megan is a wonderful knitter but new to crochet, so I promised to teach her. We ran into a bit of an issue trying to find the inside tail on this orange ball of yarn, but we eventually got it sorted out.

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Check out Megan’s first chain. She’s on her way!

She already has a fabulous amigurumi project lined up…I hope she can finish it by Christmas!! :)

***

After the yarn fun, I headed home to get ready for my company’s Christmas party. I used to be a bit of a shopaholic, but since purchasing the house, I’ve cut back. WAY back. I basically never shop. So while I used to purchase a new dress for this type of event, I shopped my closet instead and pulled out a LBD (little black dress).

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They were passing out appetizers at the beginning of the night. I fell in love with these little cheese puffs and am really hoping I can figure out the recipe later.

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As for cocktails, I asked for something fruity and got this strange-looking concoction. We brainstormed names for it and came up with: Great White Shark, Blue Lagoon, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

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As for eats, I started with a dressing-soaked Caesar salad. Remind me to start ordering the dressing on the side! Phew!

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For the main event, I had the filet along with some asparagus, mushrooms, and scalloped potatoes.

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Everything was super delicious!

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Especially the sweet ending – dessert! There was cheesecake, creme brulee, and chocolate pecan pie. Mmm…nommy noms!

Did anyone else have a company holiday party this weekend? Did you do anything fun?

First Focaccia (Rosemary Olive Oil)

I decided to tackle something I’ve always wanted to try – homemade bread! Not just sweet bread, like banana bread, but more the savory type. I figured I’d start with something easy – focaccia.

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I decided to try out this easy focaccia I found on AllRecipes.com – click for recipe. I used all purpose flour instead of bread flour, just because I didn’t have any on hand and didn’t feel like going to the store.

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The only problem with the recipe was the fact that it had yeast in it. I don’t have anything against yeast…it’s just that I’m not very good at working with it. I’ve used it a time or two and every time, I seem to do something wrong.

This time, I carefully followed the instructions on the back of the package (since I was using active dry, while the recipe calls for instant), but I somehow still flubbed it.

I used nittanyjones’ tip to use the stand mixer’s dough hook on speed #2 for 2 minutes for the kneading part.

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The bread never really did much rising.

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I did manage to work on my crochet ripple blanket while I waited for the first round of rising.

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Then, it was onto the pressing. The focaccia was starting to take shape!

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Add some dimples.

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Add seasoning. I skipped the parmesan and instead added coarse salt. Rosemary focaccia is my favorite flavor of focaccia, so I stuck with the main flavor component, using dried rosemary. I thought about using some of the fresh rosemary in my herb garden, but I figured that would just burn easier than dried.

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I waited with fingers crossed while the focaccia baked.

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When I pulled it from the oven, I found this beautiful creation. Ta-da!

With my baking success, I was ready to move on to dinner.

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Hubby’s brother stopped by on his way out of town to have dinner with us. We started with salads….

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…before cutting into the delicious-smelling focaccia. Boy did it make the house smell yummy!

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We made a family favorite for dinner – Ina’s Linguine with Shrimp Scampi.

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Hello carb-load! lol

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The focaccia never really rose like it was supposed to, but guess what…it was still delicious! Woohoo! Can’t wait to try some new flavors! :)

Holiday Speed + Simple Brussels Sprouts

It’s that time of year again!

The time when things both speed up and slow down. The holidays are in full effect!

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I professed my love of staying up late (or inability to go to bed early) to my Facebook friends a few days ago. My new focus for December is to attempt to get things done at a more reasonable hour so I have more me-time and can go to bed sooner.

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Besides more sleep and more time to read, I’d also like to work on picking up some forgotten craft projects, like this crocheted ripple blanket I started roughly 2 years ago (whoa…has it really been that long?!).

I managed to work on it some Tuesday night, though I had to review my crochet books to ensure I was doing the stitches properly. It’s really been too long since I’ve crocheted!

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I’m also taking some time to pull out some holiday-related decoration and craft books to generate some ideas…should I have enough free time to work on some other projects.

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The holidays also mean baking for me. I know I’ve been baking up a storm with the dough balls and all, but I’d also like to work on developing some good old fashioned cookies.

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I am close to a great regular chocolate chip (something thicker than this thin and chewy one), but I also want to figure out a good oatmeal chocolate chip.

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These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from yesterday were pretty good.

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I actually had made a batch the night before that came out waaay too cakey for my liking.

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These were much closer to what I’m looking for, but are not quite right yet.

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A few more batches and we should be there. Hopefully, I don’t have to do 7 batches again, though.

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And for a random note, I’m really excited to check out this ball whisk by WMF – a freebie I got in my Foodbuzz swag bag.

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On to lunch. The bag of brussels sprouts hubby picked up was bigger than I thought. I’ve now gotten 3 meals out of it – 2 shared with hubby and the last one solo.

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For the second meal, I just did a quick saute on shredded brussels sprouts. We had this with Annie’s mac and cheese. It was a pretty light lunch, but very tasty.

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Simple Sauteed Shredded Brussels Sprouts

Serves 2

I’ve seen shredded brussels sprouts in a few places, including in a Martha Stewart cous cous salad and (I believe) once in a reader comment. I was considering making roasted brussels sprouts on this day, but I didn’t want to wait very long to eat. Sauteed brussels sprouts are just as tasty as roasted brussels sprouts, but much faster. :)

Skip the butter or sub Earth Balance to make this vegan

Ingredients:

  • 10 brussels sprouts, cleaned, outer leaves removed, shredded
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • salt, pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat EVOO in a medium saute pan over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic and shredded brussels sprouts and saute till leaves are tender, about 2-3 minutes. Stir frequently so leaves don’t burn.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. When brussels sprouts are cooked through, add butter to pan, stir as it melts to coat brussels sprouts.
  5. Enjoy!

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Next up…Christmas tree shopping! :)

Meet Betty (An Amigurumi Crocheted Bunny)

After my fun bloggie dinner outing, I came home to veg on the couch with my WIP: an amigurumi bunny.

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I had completed the body, head/face and only needed to make 2 arms, 2 legs, and 2 ears.

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Once I had all the pieces done, I just had to assemble.

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Voila! My MIL named her Betty.

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Betty proved to be very adventurous and promptly started exploring.

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Since it was late, Betty didn’t get very far before wanting to be tucked in.

But, in the morning (this morning), she was up early and moving about.

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I finally found her outside and tucked her away into a gift bag to be opened later.

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I enjoyed some coffee in a mug hubby and I gave his mom. They are from Starbucks and have a pretty, bright red finish on the inside.

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I had plans with hubby’s fam (his sister and her fam drove in late Christmas night from out of town) to do a lunch later, so I kept breakfast light with an egg and cheese biscuit and piece of chicken sausage.

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Post-breakfast, we had another round of gift-opening for hubby’s sis’ fam.

Betty found her new friend, Cami (in the red dress), and will be going home with her.

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Yay presents!

MIL Bday Weekend

Hubby and I headed to Durham to see his mom for her birthday Friday night.

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We stopped by Cracker Barrel on the way. I got Chicken and Dumplings with corn and greens.

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I only managed to eat about half my entire plate. Guess I ate too much for lunch, eh? I did save room for one of their famous biscuits with some honey.

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We got to my MIL’s place later and hubby made nice with the dogs before we headed off to bed.

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On Saturday morning, we had a nice eggs and bacon breakfast – I also had a half english muffin.

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Though I had a cup of coffee in the morning, I asked hubby to stop by Copa Vida. I had the best latte ever there awhile back and vowed that this, along with dim sum, would be one of the spots I tried to hit up each time we were in town.

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I love Copa Vida for the coffee and for the fact that they use as much local as possible, which includes milk from a local creamery – Homeland Creamery.

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Turns out they were out of HC whole milk, so I went skim to stick with the local milk. It was very good, but I missed my whole milk! I’ll be back, though. Hopefully, they have it next time. Oh and PS I found out this business is family owned. Love that!

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Next, we hit up Barnes & Noble

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I took my coffee in and cracked open a Clif Kid Zbar in Honey Graham whilst browsing the craft books. Ahh…How I LOVE craft books! I think I like looking at them more than actually using them sometimes! lol

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We also swung by Michael’s, so by the time we got home, I had some real goodies: Amigurumi World Seriously Cute Crochet, 3 balls of yarn, stitch markers, and 2 crochet hooks.

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The yarn, Sugar ‘n Cream, is made with cotton grown in the US. It’s apparently made in Canada, which seems kind of weird…why not grow and make in one place? But anywho, the yarn was affordable and I liked how it was 100% cotton.

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I started a new project.

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And snacked on some dates before heading out to the movies.

Me, hubby, my MIL, and hubby’s brother went to see The Blind Side. Wow, what a great and inspirational movie! Has anyone else seen it? What did you think?

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After the movie, we hit up Fuddruckers.

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I got a “suicide” to drink. Did anyone else drink those when they were kids? A “suicide” is a drink, which is made when you have a self-serve soda machine and you just mix up a bunch of different sodas. For some reason, I always think of getting them at Fuddruckers. Call it tradition.

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For dinner, I had a kid’s meal – small burger (topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, ketchup, and mustard) & small fries. I actually am getting more and more skeeved out by buffet style restaurants and all the toppings here are served buffet style – you get to pick your own. So, once I had topped my burger, I was off to the restroom to wash my hands. I know…I’m weird like that.

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I didn’t quite manage to finish mine, but hubby helped me out with the burger, thank goodness! Sheesh, I can’t even eat a kid’s meal!

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My meal came with a cookie, so I got chocolate chip.

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When we got home, I was back to crocheting…I started a new project, though.

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My MIL made her own birthday cake. She insisted. She made a margarita cake topped with defrosted-frozen strawberries and a pretzel crust. I was too stuffed from dinner to have any.

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In the AM on Sunday, I slept in till 9:30am and then had some coffee upon waking up – this is my fave mug at my MIL’s house – the snowflake mug.

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I worked more on project #2 – hot pink yarn this time.

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Brunch – potatoes/onions/peppers, bacon, turkey sausage, french toast, 1/2 toast.

The dogs played all weekend long.

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They look so vicious!

After our late brunch, hubby blew his mom’s leaves off the front yard and then we were off.

On the way back, I knew I’d need some food before getting home, but after much searching on my iPhone, I couldn’t find any healthy options! wth! So hard to eat healthy on the road when you haven’t packed your own snacks! Grr…

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Luckily, I remembered that Starbucks has some pretty healthy options and I knew where one was on the way home.

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We swung by and picked up some ice water and a tall coffee

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