Sadie and Santa
Nope, I'm not dead! I didn't lose my love for blogging, cooking, or sharing stories! Life just sometimes gets in the way. Since I have been away since early in the fall (the longest break I have ever taken from blogging!), I thought maybe I should update the blog quickly, just to explain my hiatus!
Well, first, we put our house on the market. Originally, we planned to list it in the spring, but then we figured, "What the heck? What are we waiting for?" And we threw up the sign, just to see if we would get any bites. I thought it would be at least a few months.
So you can imagine my surprise when we found out we had an offer in just a month! Soon we were under contract, which meant it was time to find our new home!
I am so excited to say that we have found an amazing home that we love and we are moving in less than a month! So, needless to say...the inside of our house looks like this:
I hate neglecting my blog, but I needed to take some time off for a breather. I plan to be back in blogging action in January! And I will be able to show you pictures of our new house!
For now, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.
Here are just a few fall pictures, just to share what we have been up to!
Trip to Philadelphia...
Many apologies for my absence! As many of you know, my day job as an educator keeps me very busy! And we all know what happens in August… Back to School! It's been quite a ride.
Now only was I busy meeting with teachers and preparing, but I was also preparing a certain 5-year-old for HER first day of Kindergarten! Holy Moly… this day arrived sooner than I ever could have expected!
(It's all about the bag and the shoes…)
She had a wonderful day and loves her teachers! We are blessed to have great schools and I know she will do great.
Sometimes when things get hectic…you need to de-stress. A couple of weeks ago, I got had a little adventure with some friends. We headed to Wine and Design in Charlotte for some wine, painting, and laughter.
When you first arrive, you put on your apron and pour yourself a glass of wine and just relax a little. (Note- you must bring your own wine.) Everyone's station is set up ahead of time with a blank canvas (only a pencil outline is provided), a palate of paint, and an assortment of brushes.
Next, your instructor will lead you in starting your painting. For our painting of Tuscany, we started with just the sky and the mountains. Our instructor demonstrated ways to paint each section and he also modeled for us on a canvas. I took pictures at different points along the way so that I could see how my painting progressed throughout the night.
Sky and Mountains
Next, we painted the house-- just an outline and the roof.
I'll admit that at this point, I wasn't thinking this would turn out to be anything special.
But it was fun to peek at each other's paintings and see how we all made them unique. Next, we added trees to our painting. THIS is where it really started to look like something. (Although, my husband said at this point that it looked like cucumbers.)
We then added windows to the house and added some shading to the trees to give them some dimension. I couldn't believe how much better the trees looked after adding the yellow! As you can see, we also added some shrubbery and bushes along the line where the land met the skyline.
Finally, the finishing touches were adding some red poppies to the grassy area and adding some white to the blue flowers-- which also added dimension.
When I finished this last step, I was so proud! I couldn't believe I painted this!
Of course, you must sign your work!
I loved walking around and admiring all of the other paintings. They were each unique in their own way, and we all really enjoyed ourselves.
Ta-da! Group Photo.
If you have never done one of the wine/paint sessions, I highlight recommend it for a girls' night out, a friend gathering, or even a date-night! I had a great experience at Wine and Design! If you visit their website, you can view their calendar and select the evening by the type of painting you would like to do. I really would love to do Charlotte's Starry Night. It's a Van Gogh-esque painting of the Charlotte skyline.
Have you ever done a wine and painting class?
I mentioned yesterday that I had returned to Yoga after a hiatus. It's funny... I love Yoga...but I am so inconsistent about it. And since I am inconsistent, I never really get "good" at it. Last Sunday was my first class in months, and it felt so good that I promised myself I would do better from now on.
When I woke up yesterday, I thought to myself, "How should I spend my last free Friday?" (After today, I will go back to working Monday-Friday instead of Monday-Thursday.) I scoped out the Yoga offerings at the gym we belong to, but there wasn't anything for today except beginner Yoga, and I didn't want that. Then I remembered Om Yoga in Fort Mill.
Last summer, I really wanted to try out Om Yoga, but I never got around to it. So today, when I saw there was a noon class (AND first visits are free), I decided to give it a go.
Only one problem: what the heck was Ashtanga Yoga?!
I've taken Power Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga... But never Ashtanga. I called the studio to see if they thought I would be able to take the class (being a little out of practice) and they said to come on and give it a try. It turns out that Ashtanga Yoga is like Power Yoga, but the series of poses and flow is always the same. Sometimes the instructor gives out a handout with the sequence on it to the group and you can choose to follow the instructor or go at your own pace.
I loved the way the girl at the front desk showed me around and kind of told me where I might want to set up. She also helped me to feel at ease about taking the class. The studio is really pretty and SO different from a typical aerobics room.
While I was waiting for the class to begin, I started a conversation with one of the other participants. She said, "Have you ever been here before?" When I told her I was new, she said, "And you started with THIS class?! This class is HARD!"
I thought to myself... "What have I gotten myself into???"
Class began the way a typical yoga class might begin- with a purpose statement. I knew right away that I really liked the instructor. She was very real and calm and funny, too!
Then came something that was way different from other classes. We started chanting! We said a mantra together, and I literally have no idea what we said because I am pretty sure it was in Sanskrit. Seriously, I am not joking. At this point, I was still wondering if I should run for the hills.
But once we got going, it was awesome! It was hard, but I was so proud of myself for being able to keep up! I loved the hands-on personal attention the instructor gave everyone. If you weren't lined up quite right, she would come over and "fix you." I thought it would be weird for someone to come over and push or pull on my body during Yoga, but it really wasn't weird. I promise.
The first 30-40 minutes of class was intense- lots of sun salutations, quick flow. But then we moved to slower poses and finally down to the floor. At the end, I was dripping with sweat!
Then came the best part. Just before the Savasana, the teacher came around and dropped a lavendar-scented, cold wet towel onto our mats to put over our eyes. Umm...can I just tell you that it was absolute heaven? Those few minutes of Savasana were probably the most relaxed moments of my week.
I can't wait to go back and try out some more of their classes, and now I don't have to be scared of Ashtanga Yoga any more.
If you're local, you should definitely check them out!
Cool Things that happened this week:
*Successfully ate Whole30-compliant foods all week
*Taught a fantastic group of teachers in a writing workshop
*Taught some Zumba
*Had a fun and hilarious dinner with a group of friends
*Went back to yoga after a bit of a (*ahem*) hiatus.
Today is actually the last Friday off of the summer. (During summer months, we work 10-hour days and have Fridays off.) I am spending the day catching up on my blogging, possibly going to yoga, getting a massage (holla!) and maybe a little light shopping/errand-running.
Note to the husband...if you are reading...I said *LIGHT*. Do not panic.
Now that we are all caught up, lets talk about veggies. And bacon.
Once upon a time, I thought I hated Brussels Sprouts. Funny thing is...I actually never remember trying them as a kid! So, thirty-ish years later, here I am, not only eating them, but writing about them and taking pictures of them.
One of my favorite ways t eat them is halved, tossed in olive oil, and roasted with some salt and pepper. However, last week I thought I would try a new approach.
They have bacon. Does that interest you? Who doesn't love bacon?
AND there are only a few ingredients!
Bacon Brussels Sprouts
Prepare your sprouts. Remove the outer wilted leaves and slice in half. Wash well to remove any grit and then let them dry. Then, shred them by slicing them. (Just place them cut-side down and slice lengthwise until they are thin strips.)
Heat 1 Tbsp. EVOO in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey bacon. (Note- my uncured turkey bacon produces very little bacon fat. If you use a fattier bacon, you may not need as much oil- or you may not need any.) Cook turkey bacon until browned and crisp and then set aside. Leave any bacon drippings in the pan.
Add the Brussels and start to sauté. While the sprouts are cooking, chop the bacon into smaller pieces. Then add the bacon back to the pan. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder over the mix and cook until the sprouts are tender. Serve hot!
Happy Sunday, friends! I'm a little under the weather today, so I sent the husband to church without me. Mucinex and Drop Dead Diva on Netflix are helping me through the morning.
How was your weekend? The first half of the weekend was pretty full of action. Friday night, my friend Allison and I headed to Charlotte for the Electric Run! Here's a little recap/review of the Electric Run for you!
I actually registered for this run way back in the spring. I thought a night run at the Charlotte Motor Speedway sounded pretty interesting and exciting. I intended to do a little more running this summer... but I just hate to run when it is hot outside. Ugh!
However, lucky for me, the night of the Electric Run was surprisingly (uncharacteristically) cool! Allison and I (and about 20,000 other people) gathered at the gigantic start line.
This is BY FAR the largest 5K i have ever participated in. The Electric Run is so big that they have to release people at the start line in "waves" of about 1,000 people at a time. Believe it or not, when I FINISHED the race, there were actually people still waiting to START! We were in the 3rd or 4th wave, starting around 9:20 p.m.
If you do the Electric Run, you will not need your headphones- there is a speaker system set up all along the route with music. And there are tons of cool light displays set up all along the route, too. I had to stop a few times and snap a coupe of pics. (Where are the Google Glasses when you need them?!)
My time wasn't awesome- 44 minutes. But I will take that, considering I have not been running routinely. My first mile was about 14 minutes. Mile 2 was my quickest at 12-13 minutes. Which means I was dragging a$$ on mile 3, at about 17 minutes! Oh no! I need to work on my endurance.
For a minute I thought I was back in that episode of 90210 when everyone goes to the Rave and Emily gives Brandon Ecstasy. It was a little insane. Or a lot insane.
So overall... It was definitely an interesting experience. Would I do it again? Maybe...it was pretty expensive, as far as 5ks run. (It was over $50) But it was pretty cool. We also encountered a lot of traffic on the way in, but we realized we were caught up in TI/Lil Wayne Concert traffic. (Taking place about 2 miles away on the same night).
Thinking of doing the Electric Run? I would definitely recommend getting there early so that you can be in one of the first waves. I would HATE to be starting the race at 10:00 or after. Also, even though Electric Run claims this is a "family friendly" event... I would leave the kids at home. It's really loud, and there are definitely some drunk runners using some not-so-kid-friendly language. Get a babysitter. Unless your children are into getting their rave on.
You'd think that after running a late-night 5K that I would, sleep in, but Saturday was National Dance Day! So...I was u bright and early to help my friend Ashley and host a 90-minute Zumba class to celebrate! Aother instructor friend, Jennie, also came to help. It was so much fun teaching together, and we had such a fun group of ladies dancing with us! Happy National Dance Day!
Now, THAT is what I call a "fitnessy weekend." How was YOUR weekend?
So, I get this question a lot: what are your pantry/fridge staples? I was thinking I had done a post on this, but i searched and I guess somehow I never have! I always think it is interesting to hear what other people buy at the grocery store, so I thought some of you out there might be interested in knowing MY staples. It's kind of like when you go to someone's house to visit and you peek in their medicine cabinet or bathroom vanity. I'm just kidding. I've never, ever done that. Or maybe I have. You'll never know.
Eggs. I always, always buy eggs. Except for today, when I forgot them. So I have to go back tomorrow. But I eat eggs almost every day. Fried, scrambled, hard-boiled, or added to burgers or patties to hold them together. Hard boiled eggs are my go-to breakfast item when I am in a rush, and they also make a great pre-workout snack.
Everroast Chicken Breast (Boar's Head) from the deli. I get 1.5 lbs every week. Makes great lunches, pre-workout snacks, regular snacks. When I need an easy protein, this is it. Add some almonds and an apple- that's lunch in a pinch.
Lemons. I buy a bag every week or every other week. I add lemons to regular water, sparkling water, chicken, fish, salad, sliced apples (keeps them from turning brown), and more. Nature's condiment!
Bag of apples and 6 bananas. These two fruits are so portable. You don't need any utensils to eat them, and they don't make a mess. In the fall, I always buy Honey Crisp apples by the 3 lb. bag, and other times I buy Pink Lady or Gala apples. Why 6 bananas? I have no idea. Just seems to be the magic number.
Ground beef- grass fed if they have it where I am shopping. I use ground beef to make hamburger patties, Paleo meatballs, Chili, and more. We eat it every week. If it is on special, I always stock the freezer, too! It's a great price at Trader Joe's, and I just heard that Aldi has it for a great price. I guess I need to learn how to shop Aldi!
Almonds or cashews. I usually buy one or the other every week- because it's a portable yet healthy fat and sometimes you just need something crunchy!
Breakfast sausage. Some people are camp bacon. Some are camp sausage. I am camp sausage. I add it to scrambled eggs, frittatas, sweet potatoes, and more. I am trying a new brand this week: al fresco. I hope I love it! It's got a pretty clean ingredient list!
Sweet potatoes. I used to despise them, but my tastes have really changed! I used to disguise them, but now I even like puréed sweet potatoes!
3 lb. bag of yellow onions. Onions go in almost everything I cook- breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Veggies- tomatoes, zucchini, and frozen green beans. We eat these almost every week because they are so easy to add to any meal. Zoodles, anyone?
So... Those are the staples I buy every week. You all know how I love to order groceries online... And Harris Teeter keeps my frequent purchases on my list from week to week, so I can shop for groceries in a snap! Then I just send the hubby to pick up the order! By the way, our local Harris Teeter is offering free pickup this week! So if you haven't tried this service out... Now is a great time!
So tell me...what are YOUR grocery staples?
In other news... I am heading back to work after 11 days of rest and relaxation. Starbucks, please have my Grande Bold Blend ready. I will be seeing you early in the morning!