Sunday, January 29, 2012

Annual Birthday Weekend!

Hi there!  I bet you’re wondering where I have been!  It’s been a week since I posted last.  That’s one of the longest breaks from m y blog that I have taken in the year and a half that I have been blogging.  I guess sometimes it is bound to happen.  Last week was really busy.  We were trying to get ready for a special birthday weekend!  ;)

Sadie’s official birthday is Tuesday, but we were celebrating this weekend.  We started Saturday morning with a fun party at a local gymnastics studio (?). 

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Sadie was so excited about her party.  She couldn’t wait to jump and play with her friends!  I think everyone was successfully worn out afterwards!

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Ryan and I can’t believe we have a little girl who is almost 4!  Time goes by so quickly! One advantage of writing a blog is that I can easily look back and see what we were doing a year ago.  Here are two links from this weekend last year!

We were so happy that Leenie, Poppy, Meredith, David, Adrienne, and Paul could all come to spend the weekend with us.  AND all their dogs came, too!  We had a full house, but it was a lot of fun! 

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(brother-in-law David and my mom aka Leenie)

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(Adrienne and Paul—the newlyweds!)

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(Dad aka Poppy and sister Meredith)

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(Sadie, me, Ryan)

We enjoyed a fun lunch at Sixpence Pub.  I had to get the fish and chips… it’s my favorite thing there.  I have had fish and chips other places… but it’s really delicious here.

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Later, there was family time.  With all the company in the house, we had to make some room.  Sadie graciously gave up her bedroom to Adrienne and Paul.  She had a campout in our room.  

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And then there was a lot of oooh-ing and ahhh-ing at this little puppy.

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Meet Gracie, my mom and dad’s new little puppy.  She is such a playful little thing and she is so friendly!  She is as soft as she looks.  What a cutie!

This morning, we had a birthday brunch for me  at my favorite brunch spot: The Terrace Cafe.  Technically my birthday isn’t for a week, but we went ahead and celebrated while everyone was together!

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I never get tired of going here!  The food is always wonderful and so is the service.  I guess that is why it is always packed!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rachel Ray’s Lazy Lasagna and Going to the Chiro

Today was a dreary, gloomy day. 

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It’s hard to get excited about a Monday when it looks like this.

But I sucked it up and it was actually a pretty good day.  After work, I went for my first visit with a chiropractor.  I have never been to one before.  I have thought about going, especially since I had some back pain and muscle spasms not too long ago, but it was one of those things I thought about but never did.  Last week, a local chiropractor came to our school and did mini massages for us, so I booked an appointment at their office.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.

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(By the way, that’s my nervous face.  I’m not picking my teeth.)

Today wasn’t scary, though.  I just had x-rays and scans today.  I’ll go back soon for the results. 

I did realize after I took my shoes off that I accidentally wore two different socks.  Oops!

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When I got home, I got busy cooking.  I knew I had seen a recipe for Lazy Lasagna recently on a Food Network show.  After some Google research, I located this recipe and remembered watching Rachel Ray make it not too long ago.  This is one of the first RR recipes I have ever made.  Lots of times I am intimidated by her recipes because sometimes they have long ingredient lists.  This one did have more ingredients than I would usually use, but I had most of it on hand, so I decided to give it a go.

I made only a few adjustments.  I only used 1 lb. of beef.  I also cut the wine and stock back just a little bit, to keep it from being too soupy.  I also used 1% milk instead of whole milk to save on calories.

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The verdict?  The dish was very tasty.  I really loved the flavor of the meat sauce.  It has a much different flavor than your basic spaghetti sauce, mainly due to the wine and beef broth.  I saw that there were mixed reviews about the b├ęchamel sauce.  I honestly feel that it could be left out.  It didn’t add a lot of flavor.  It gave it more creaminess, but I honestly think the dish could be just as tasty without it.  I also swapped the cloves and nutmeg for fresh basil, parsley, and oregano.  I just thought those herbs made more sense in this dish. 

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I also think it is funny that this is called “Lazy Lasagna” because it took me 3 pots AND a baking dish to prepare this.  I was prepping and cooking for about an hour or so.  I don’t know that you could call that “lazy.”  I guess Rachel and I interpret that word differently.  :)  And I did manage to pour boiling water over my hand in the process.  (OUCH!)  But like I said, it was pretty tasty!  Thanks for the recipe, Rachel!

Alright friends… I am going to relax a little.  I am afraid I might be getting an ear ache!  I just mentioned that to Ryan and he said, “You are falling apart!”  Bless my little heart.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Restaurant Week Cheat on Eat-In-Month

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!  This was another nice weekend in the Confessions house!

Saturday was a really dreary, rainy day.  It seems like we’ve been having a lot of rain lately!  I really kinda wish it was snow!  This has definitely been the most up-and-down winter I have ever experienced, temperature-wise.  Today it was 40 degrees.  Tuesday it will be almost 70.  Mother nature is playing a fun little game with us.  Saturday morning, Sadie was invited to another birthday party, so we spent the morning partying.  Take a look at this video… wouldn’t you like to try this?  I sure would!  Next week, Sadie is actually having her birthday party at this same place.  Do you think they will let me try it out?

Then I had to head out in the pouring rain on a super-secret birthday present mission.  I’ve had my eye on a certain special gift for a certain little girl who is turning FOUR in just 9 days.  (I can’t believe it!)  The certain item I have been wanting was a little tricky to find, but I was able to locate it in a store 20 miles away.  I had to move quickly to grab it, which meant going out for a drive in the pouring rain.  It was a gross day, but I was successful!  Yay!  (I am sorry, friends, but I can’t reveal the super-secret present yet!  You’ll have to stay tuned!)

I got back home just in time to get showered, dressed, go vote, and head out for an evening with friends!

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I know it is Eat-In Month, but it is also Restaurant Week here in Charlotte, so we decided to use our cheat a little.  We were heading to Dressler’s.  Ryan and I had never been there before, so it was fun to try out a new spot.  And of course it was fun to go out for an adult evening with friends!

Dirty Martini to start it all off…

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For appetizers, Ryan and I chose Crispy Thai Calamari and The Wedgie.  Both were delicious.  I gave Ryan most of the calamari, but it was so good.  Crispy and a tiny bit spicy and sweet, too!  The Wedgie was crisp and crunchy.  It’s crazy how something so simple can taste so good.

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Ryan went with steak for the main course (not pictured) and I chose Maryland Crab Cakes. 

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I loved the crab cakes.  They had lots of crab in them.  I hate when it’s all filling and not so much crab.  That was not the case here.

And we finished things up with Apple Crisp for Ryan (ice cream on top)…

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and Mom’s Cheesecake for me.  This cheesecake was divine.  Very fluffy and light. 

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After eating in all month long, it was such a treat to eat out and to also eat such a delicious meal.  The service and the food was excellent.  It was worth it to cheat.  :)  I have to confess… we may be cheating again next weekend, too.  We’re looking forward to having some of our favorite people come and visit us, and I have a feeling there may be a few meals eaten out.  But I am really proud of us for making it all the way to January 21 without eating out! 

Reader Question: Where is your favorite place to eat out or get take-out?  What’s your favorite menu item?

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  Now… it’s time to gear up for another week! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

BFD and Weighing In

It’s Friday Eve!  I don’t know about you all, but I am so excited for the weekend!  I have a busy day at work tomorrow, so I know it will go by quickly!  Yay for being busy!

I just got home from teaching my 5th Zumba class in 5 days!  Whew!  That’s a lot, but I love it.  It’s been a busy week but lots of fun dancing with all sorts of people.  It’s so inspiring to help people reach their fitness goals in such a fun way. 

Speaking of goals…

Our Dance Fitness Company is starting a weight loss challenge this week.  I decided to weigh in and participate, too. 

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If you have been reading for a while, you know that I went through a lifestyle change a few years ago.  When I had my little girl, I was overweight, out of shape.  I decided that was no way to live.  I committed myself to regular exercise and changed my eating habits.  I am proud to say I have mostly maintained the 40 pounds I lost (within 5-10 pounds), but I am not at the end of my journey.  I really want to kick it back into high gear.  I’ve been really careful to track everything I eat and I have made an extra effort to be more active.  That means more running, walking, weights, and extra Zumba classes.  So I hope you’ll continue on the journey with me.  Do any of you have weight loss goals you’re trying to achieve?  Or eating habits you are trying to change?

I recently read this post by one of my favorite bloggers, Andie.  Andie lost over 100 pounds and she writes this amazing blog.  She’s such a talented writer.  Anyway, when I read this post, it was eye-opening to me.  I think so often the word “diet” means packaged foods like Lean Cuisines or Smart Ones or 100-calorie packs.  Now, I have eaten my fair share of those things.  But I also think that they prevent you from learning how to eat food that is good for you.  Like Andie says, you have to learn how to savor your food and enjoy it.  And make sure what you choose to eat is worth it!  Read this post about weight maintenance and see what you think.  I am trying to cut back on processed foods. 

Tonight when I got home from Zumba, I was hungry!  I didn’t plan ahead, so I went with what was quick and easy: Breakfast for Dinner (BFD)

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  • scrambled eggs
  • vegetarian “sausage patties”
  • Trader Joe’s grilled asparagus

This asparagus was delicious!  Better than any other frozen asparagus I have ever bought!

And then I had a few minutes to spend with my munchkin before it was time for her to go to bed.

Speaking of my munchkin, how about this funny little picture?

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She was definitely up to something, don’t you think???

Monday, January 16, 2012

Easy Mini Cinnamon Roll-Ups

Hi friends!

First of all, I have noticed that we have some new readers, followers, and commenters lately! Welcome!  I am so glad you all have stopped by!  I hope that you all have gotten your week off to a great start!  I just realized that I am starting the 3rd week of Eat-In Month!  So far, it has gone really well!  I think they key for us is having a well-stocked pantry and fridge during the week.  That keeps us from having to make last minute take-out arrangements.

Tonight I have a quick breakfast (or dessert!) recipe to share with you.  I am not even sure that I would call this a recipe because it is so simple!  But these Easy Mini Cinnamon Roll-Ups came together in a snap tonight.  I have been planning these out in my head for about a week.  And over the past few days a few of my blog friends have posted similar ideas.  Click for Diana’s and Lisa’s recipes for cinnamon rolls.  I wanted to make a version that would be soft and doughy, sticky sweet, but not over-the-top on Points.  I had a leftover container of Pillsbury Reduced-Fat Crescent Rolls and the rest of these ingredients I would almost guarantee that you have in your pantry!  So this is a $2 (or less) breakfast that will feed 4-6 people!

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Easy Mini Cinnamon Roll-Ups

Ingredients:

(for rolls)

  • 1 can Pillsbury Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls (8 rolls)
  • 2 Tbsp Earth Balance
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

(for glaze)

  • 5 Tbsp 10x powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fat free milk
  • pinch of cinnamon

Preparation:

Remove rolls from packaging.  Cut each roll in half, yielding 16 long rolls.  Brush each roll with melted butter.  Mix granulated sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over all 16 rolls.  Roll them up and place on nonstick baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until rolls are golden and fluffy. 

While rolls are baking, mix milk, sugar, and cinnamon to create a thin sweet glaze.  Set aside.

Allow rolls to cool slightly and then drizzle quick glaze over each.  Enjoy!

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Mmmmm!  My kitchen smells so good after baking these!  They are nice and sweet and sticky—just like cinnamon rolls should be!  AND they are only 2 Points each!

For those of you who were lucky enough to have the day off today, I hope you enjoyed it!  I didn’t have to work, but I did sub a Zumba class tonight and  it was fabulous!  I think I earned at least 2 of these little rolls!  ;)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weekend Eats and Activities

Happy Sunday!  It’s so nice to be off of work on a Monday!  Are any of you off of work tomorrow?  It just gives Sunday nights a while different feel.

I hope all of you have had a nice weekend!  Ours has been fairly low-key, which is nice.

On Saturday morning, I took Sadie-bug to her friend Coalson’s birthday party.  She had a blast in the bounce houses and going down the giant slides! 

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I think Ryan was super-appreciative because afterwards she took a nice long nap!

While Sadie was napping, I helped out with some Zumba instructor auditions and then hit Trader Joe’s for some goodies.  I sure wish we had a TJs in our town, but luckily we live close enough to Charlotte that I can go occasionally.  Trader Joe’s has great produce for great prices and they also offer a great selection of convenience foods.  I came home with a bag full of goodies, which included ingredients to make pizza at home!  Luckily I had my little helper to help get the dough ready!

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We topped ours with mozzarella, pepperoni, and fresh basil. I did have one fail.  I forgot pizza sauce!  DOH!  Luckily I had some leftover sauce in the fridge.  Oops! 

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The pizza was delicious!  I love making our own.  I used the TJs pizza dough, which is very convenient, but I also make pizzas with pitas, bagels, and round flat breads!

I also have become highly addicted to grapefruit! 

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It seems weird, considering it is the middle of winter, but the taste buds want what they want.

Today I taught a fabulous Zumba class!  It really was so much fun and the best way to spend a Sunday.  I am convinced that Zumba really does make you happier.  I guess one might argue that all exercise does this, but I think Zumba is the BEST!  ;)  I am a little biased, though.

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I love these shoes, but I really need some new ones.  Maybe for my birthday?

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Happy Sunday, friends!