Category Archives: Family Fun

Parties and Cookies

Good afternoon! I hope everyone had a great weekend! The weather was fairly warm for us here in Chicagoland. But the snow is coming…I can feel it!

Friday

Danny had the day off on Friday and once the kids were in school, we went Christmas shopping.

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We managed to buy almost everything on our list. I just have two presents left to buy this week. I can’t believe that Christmas is next week already!

We went to the gym on Friday afternoon around 4:30 pm. I’ve never been to the gym on a Friday afternoon and it was pretty crowded! I guess everyone’s getting their workout in before the weekend.

I worked on some of the leg exercises that I usually do at physical therapy including: leg presses, single leg presses, walking lunges, ball wall squats, single leg deadlifts, and side to side walking.

At the end of our workout, we took out the speed ladder and did a few different things. When I woke up on Sunday, the bottom of my feet were killing me. They still hurt today and the only thing I can think that caused it is the speed ladder. Hopefully, they’ll feel better soon.

Saturday

On Saturday evening, we went to an extended family Christmas party.

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It was really fun and it’s nice seeing family that we don’t see very often.

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Santa even made an appearance and brought a gift for all the kids.

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We got home late Saturday night and I was exhausted.

Sunday

I was lazy all day on Sunday. I was tired and my feet were killing me, so I stayed in my pajamas most of the day. My friend, Jenny, did come over and visit for awhile though.

I also spent all Sunday morning baking. I baked a whole bunch of cookies for Danny to bring to work. I made peanut butter blossoms. I also made our favorite cookie – butterscotch Reese’s pieces. They are one of the best cookies I’ve ever had!

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I also tried out a new cookie recipe – oatmeal M&M. Delicious. They have just a touch of cinnamon in them which really stands out in the cookie.

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The Reese’s and M&M cookies are from the blog Sally’s Baking Addiction. She has some really great cookie recipes!

And that was our weekend!

Have a great day!

  • What did you do this weekend?

6 Comments

Filed under Christmas, Family Fun, Fitness

Christmas Tree!

It’s December!! 

I cannot believe how fast this year is flying by! Time always seems to go by so much faster when you’re an adult. 2015 is right around the corner!

Saturday

On Saturday, we went to a tree farm about an hour away to cut down a tree with my family. My dad rode with us because my stepmom had to work.

IMG_20141129_102659We saw Jared Allen from the Chicago Bears at the tree farm with his family so that was exciting for the boys.

At the tree farm, the first thing we did was visit with Mrs. Claus.

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I actually loved the idea of having Mrs. Claus rather than Santa because sometimes Santa is a little scary for small kids. Mrs. Claus explained that Santa was at the North Pole and she would let him know what the kids wanted for Christmas.

Then they got to put their names on the very good list.

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After visiting with Mrs. Claus, we waited in line to have the horse drawn carriage take us out to the Christmas tree field. Choosing a Christmas tree is hard work. You cannot pick one right away. You must find one that is exactly perfect. You’ll know it when you find it.

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Our tree:

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I tend to be attracted to fat Christmas trees. Sometimes, they are a little too fat because we have a small living room. This year, we found the perfect semi-fat tree that fits just right in our living room.

After we all cut down the perfect tree, the kids rode the ponies, and we had some hot chocolate.

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Danny set the tree up when we got home and we let it sit overnight so it’d be all ready to decorate the next day.

Sunday 

Sunday mornings I try to go grocery shopping as early as possible. We always grocery shop on Sundays, but if I go in the afternoon, it’s always crazy crowded so I go early. After grocery shopping, Danny and I went to the gym.

Yesterday was one of those days where I just wasn’t feeling it at the gym. I felt blah and tired and not in the mood to work out. I did run for 10 minutes on the treadmill and then we did some biceps and triceps exercises.

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Usually I feel great working out, but lately I haven’t been sleeping great and I have been eating out of control for the past week and that’s really affecting how I feel. I am so happy that not only is today Monday, the beginning of a new week, but it’s also December, the beginning of a new month. The perfect day to get back on track with my eating.

Sunday afternoon, we decorated our Christmas tree. This is my absolute favorite thing to do. I love how close my family is and how many traditions we have that I hope to pass along to my kids. Family is important no matter what. You might drive each other crazy sometimes but in the end none of that matters. You have each other.

Anyway, back to our Christmas tree. Danny put the lights up and we started decorating it! About 90% of our ornaments are ornaments that we’ve made, picked out as a family, or have special meaning. I love them all.

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I recently started collecting hippo ornaments because I love the song “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” I have four hippo ornaments all from Target because hippo ornaments a little harder to find than might think.

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We finished our Christmas tree with candy canes – I think we ate about half the candy canes in the process! There are so many crazy candy cane flavors these days but my favorite will always be plain peppermint candy canes!

The kids topped our tree with the angel from my childhood:

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Today

This morning was back to school for the kids! After the kids went to school, I went to the gym. I felt a lot better working out today. I started with a 20 minute walk on the treadmill followed by some shoulder and core exercises.

Have a great afternoon!

  • Do you have a favorite ornament? What Christmas traditions do you have?
  • Any workout today?
  • What are you looking forward to most in December?

7 Comments

Filed under Christmas, Family Fun, Fitness, Fun, Working Out

Thanksgiving 2014

Good morning! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thursday

On Thanksgiving morning, I went to the gym. Yes, I’m one of those people that works out on Thanksgiving. I am up to seven minutes of running.

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My stepmom and sister-in-law ran the Turkey Trot and since I couldn’t run it this year, I ran my seven minutes at the gym.

In the afternoon, we went to my grandparent’s house. They just got a brand-new baby puppy named Abby and she’s adorable.

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The kids loved her but I think Jaden wanted to try sneaking her home. He carried her around all night like she was his baby. Unfortunately, we can’t get a dog because he’s allergic but he seemed really good when he was playing with the puppy.  But the next morning when he woke up, his nose was stuffy and his eyes were red and swollen. Poor guy. He loves animals. Once we bought him a dog balloon that you could walk around and he loved that thing like it was a real dog.

The kids: Jaden, my niece, and Jacob.

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Dinner was amazing. This was the first year I’ve had turkey in a long time and it was really good.

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The cranberry sauce is my favorite. My cousin and I always fight over which is better – cranberry sauce or green bean casserole. One day she’ll accept that I’m right and she’s wrong. Cranberry sauce is the best.

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As much as I loved dinner, dessert was incredible. There are no words to describe the pie/cake my grandma made. Well, there’s one word besides amazing – pumpecapple cake.

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It’s crazy – a pumpkin pie, a pecan pie, and an apple pie all stacked and baked into a cake. This can only be eaten once a year on Thanksgiving when calories don’t count.

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How amazing is that cake?! And it was delicious. Great job, Grandma Marlene!

When we got home on Thanksgiving night the kids elf, Nick, was waiting!

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Friday

On Friday morning, I did go shopping at about 6 am. I will not go shopping on Thanksgiving. I think it’s crazy that stores are now opening at 5 or 6 pm. But I did wake up early on Friday to go to Meijer and Target.

The one good thing about shopping that early is that it’s actually late because all the sales started 12 hours ago and the stores were dead. I mean there were a few people out but I as able to find everything I needed, hardly had to wait in line, and was home early.

On Friday afternoon, we celebrate Thanksgiving with my mom. We don’t see her on Thanksgiving so we started the tradition of doing Thanksgiving again on Friday and I cook. This was the first year that I actually made a turkey and I was so nervous.

Last year, I bought one of those turkeys in a bag that can go from frozen in the freezer right to the oven. They are double the price of a frozen turkey so this year I bought a Butterball turkey to roast. I just took the basic route and thawed the turkey, seasoned it with salt, pepper, brushed it with butter, and cooked it. The easy route.

It did take a lot longer than I thought to cook. It was 15 pounds so it should have took 3-3.5 hours but it took  closer to 4.5 hours before the meat thermometer said it was done, and you don’t want to mess around with under cooked turkey.

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I din’t get too many pictures but the turkey turned out perfect and I was really happy because I was so nervous. I should have been more nervous about the rolls because I ended up burning those.

It was a great dinner and it was our third Thanksgiving dinner! The past few weeks I have been overindulging and I am can tell I have gained a few pounds. I have said this many times on my blog – I can workout all day, everyday but sometimes I struggle with eating. It’s all mental and it’s hard to overcome bad habits that you’ve had for years. I’ve lost 30 pounds in the past and have been at my “happy weight” so it’s hard to see the pounds start to creep back especially when it’s my own fault.

The holidays are hard – there’s always parties and family and food and drinks. And let’s face it – I love food. But it’s time for me to get back on track with my eating and I’m going to try hard.

Today 

Today we’re going with my family to cut down a Christmas tree. We have gone almost every year since I was a kid so it’s a family tradition.

Last year’s tree cutting:

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Luckily, the weather isn’t supposed to be too cold today so it’ll be the perfect day to cut down a tree!

Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Do you have any plans for the rest of the weekend?
  • How was your Thanksgiving?
  • If you celebrate Christmas, is your tree up yet?

5 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Family Fun, Fitness, Working Out

Thanksgiving Eve

Good morning and Happy Thanksgiving Eve! Tomorrow is a day for family, being thankful, and let’s face it – lots of food!!

I finally used up my last Vue cup in my Keurig coffee maker and I am back to using regular k-cups now.

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I was excited to try out the butterscotch coffee. It was very good – the perfect amount of flavor!

Yesterday

Yesterday morning, I didn’t go to the gym because Jacob had his first orthodontist appointment to get his braces tightened (I don’t miss those days!). The appointment went really fast and we were in and out of the office quickly.

We came home and Jaden and I decorated the fridge and worked on some snowman ornaments.

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I loved how the ornaments turned out! We just put cotton balls into a clear ornament, added a face, and then hot glued on the pipe cleaner and pom poms to look like earmuffs.

In the afternoon, I had physical therapy. Since I ran four minutes on Sunday, I was able to run five minutes at physical therapy yesterday.

I have been trying to increase my speed a little bit but my physical therapist said that it would be better for me to work on endurance rather than speed. She said I can add two more minutes to my running time but not to worry about going fast.

I’m going to try to stick with about 5 mph as long as my hip feels okay and work on being able to run longer, not faster. I’ve noticed that the faster I run the more I feel it in my hip so I’m going to make sure to take it slow.

Today

This morning for breakfast, I had apple cinnamon steel cut oats.

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I saw these at the store over the weekend decided to given them a try. Thankfully, they were really good because they were buy one, get one free at the store so now I have twenty packets of oats.

I’m letting the kids sleep in a bit today because we’ve been getting up early the past few days and Jaden was so crabby all day yesterday. Once they wake up, I plan on going to the gym and then going to the store.

On Thanksgiving, we go to my grandparent’s house every year. On Friday, my mom, brother, sister-in-law, and niece come over to our house and I cook Thanksgiving dinner. So after the gym I need to get the rest of the food for Friday.

On the menu for Thanksgiving Friday:

  • turkey
  • cheesy potato casserole
  • rolls
  • stuffing
  • carrots
  • corn casserole souffle
  • cranberry sauce
  • one baked potato for Jaden because he is obsessed
  • pumpkin pie

I plan on making the potatoes and stuffing ahead of time so I can just pop them in the oven when the turkey comes out. Yum!

I have been eating so much more this past weekend and this week than usual. Holidays are always so hard because there’s so much delicious food everywhere. I am looking forward to getting back on track after this weekend. :)

Have a great day!

  • What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Do you cook?

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Family Fun, Working Out

Monk Fruit in the Raw

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not reflect the the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product. 

As a Moms Meet blogger, I was recently given the opportunity to try out Monk Fruit in the Raw.

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I usually use sugar alternatives in my coffee and tea, so I looked forward to trying Monk Fruit in the Raw in place of my normal sweetener.

Monk Fruit in the Raw is a zero-calorie sweetener made with real monk fruit, a vine-ripened fruit from Asia. The monk fruit is blended with other sweeteners to create the perfect balance of sweet. It’s great in your morning cup of coffee.

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Monk Fruit in the Raw can also be used to replace regular sugar. You can use it in cooking or baking. The taste of Monk Fruit in the Raw is the closest taste to regular sugar of all the non-caloric sweeteners and it doesn’t have bad aftertaste!

Monk Fruit in the Raw conversion chart:

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I like that the Monk Fruit in the Raw comes in two different packages – individual packets for coffee and tea and a large package to use for baking. And it’s very reasonably priced. The individual packets are about $3.49 for 40 packets and the Monk Fruit in the Raw Bakers Bag is only $6.99.

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Monk Fruit in the Raw is vegan, kosher, and gluten-free. It doesn’t contain any added table sugar, sugar alcohols, or molasses.

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I used one packet in my coffee. I also added one tablespoon of cream and it was perfect! The Monk Fruit in the Raw adds just the right amount of sweetness without adding any extra calories or carbs.

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I watch my niece two days a week and my sister-in-law usually drops her off at about 7 am. Since she’s here early, we decided to try out a breakfast recipe using Monk Fruit in the Raw.

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We made cinnamon and Monk Fruit in the Raw French toast!

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Cinnamon and Monk Fruit in the Raw French Toast               Serves:2

Ingredients:

  • four slices of bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk (we used honey almond milk)
  • 2 tsp Monk Fruit in the Raw
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Heat pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk eggs. Add Monk Fruit in the Raw and cinnamon. Whisk together.
  3. Dip each slice of bread into egg mixture and put onto hot pan. Cook each side until browned, approximately 3-5 minutes per side.
  4. Add you favorite toppings and enjoy!

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This is a super easy breakfast and loved by adults and kids!

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You can learn more about In The Raw products on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Do you use a sugar substitute? 

3 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Family Fun, Product Review, Recipes

Good morning – I hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

On Friday, Danny had a half day of work, and we went to Jaden’s parent visitation day at his school.

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Afterwards, Danny and I grabbed a quick lunch at Whole Foods.

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I love their California rolls. :)

Friday afternoon, I had physical therapy and was able to run for three minutes on the treadmill. I also did a lot of leg work including lunges. I was a little worried about doing the lunges because the last time I did lunges at physical therapy, my quad was in pain for days.

This time, my physical therapist had me foam roll right after I did them, and I haven’t had any pain! Yay!

On Sunday morning, Danny and I went to the gym. I started out by running four minutes on the treadmill. Since I feel okay running, I’ve been trying to increase my speed slightly. I ran at 5.4 mph. It’s amazing how fast you lose your fitness level after taking time off. I haven’t run in over four months and those measly four minutes at 5.4 mph left me out of breath!

I just have to work on building my endurance back up.

We also did some back exercises including:

  • close grip lat pull downs
  • seated rows
  • t-bar raises
  • deadlifts
  • renegade rows

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It was a great workout and I’m really feeling it today!

On Sunday afternoon, we went to my in-laws to celebrate Thanksgiving with them.

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We did it a little early because everything is so busy on Thanksgiving that it’s hard to get together with all of our family members.

I ate way too much and I ate turkey this year! I have been a vegetarian for many years so I haven’t had turkey in a long time! I just started eating chicken and turkey this year so it was nice to have a little turkey yesterday.

I’m not really a meat person and would be totally fine if I never had meat again, but sometimes I struggle with getting enough protein so eating chicken helps me get more protein in my diet.

The kids are off of school this week for Thanksgiving break and we have a few things going on – parent/teacher conferences, orthodontist appointment, physical therapy, Thanksgiving meal planning and shopping. There’s never a dull moment around here!

Have a wonderful day!!

  • Favorite Thanksgiving food?
  • Did you workout today?

2 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Family Fun, Running, Working Out

Best Appointment Ever

Good afternoon! How was your weekend? Before I get into my weekend, I have some great news to share – the doctor gave me the okay to start a run/walk program!

I am so happy!

I had my post surgery check-up with my hip doctor this morning. Can you believe it’s been 4.5 months since my surgery?!

He said that as long as my quad and hip didn’t bother me too much, I could start a run/walk program in 5 minutes increments.

So the first day, I would run one minute and walk four minutes. I would repeat this a few times as long as I felt good. Then I would not be able to run the next day and the following day, I would run two minutes and walk three minutes for a few intervals. Then I would rest the next day and continue with three minutes of running and two minutes of walking.

I would repeat this until I am up to about 10-15 minutes of straight running! Yay! But if my quad starts to burn like it tends too when I overdo it then I need to scale back. He said the quad pain should go away in the next few months but not overnight.

He also gave me the okay to do some group fitness classes like yoga, Pilates, strength training classes, etc as long as I start slow and avoid any position where I have to turn my body because my hip isn’t quite ready for that yet.

Overall, my said my progress looks great and the range of motion in my hip looks great. I just have to continue doing closed circuit exercises such as squats, lunges, and the leg press to help regain more strength in my leg. He said I should also be fine with doing physical therapy once a week. My next appointment is at the beginning of January to check on my progress.

Yay!!

Let’s back up to this weekend…

Saturday

On Saturday morning, I was making breakfast before Danny and I went to the gym and I cracked open a double yolk egg!

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I was a little more excited than I care to admit about that double yolk because that’s never happened to me and I thought it was so cool. But I also thought it was weird and wouldn’t eat it. I gave it to Danny instead.

After breakfast, we went to the gym. Danny and I did some back exercises including:

  • lat pulldowns
  • seated rows
  • t-bar raises (a new favorite!)
  • straight arm pullovers
  • deadlifts
  • bentover rows

After our workout, we stopped at the Giving Tree and picked out some tags to buy toys for kids for Christmas. We picked three tags for boys and then we’ll go back and deliver our toys to the box.

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It’s a great way for the kids to help others who might not have as much as they do. They really look forward to it every year and enjoy picking out a toy for a kid their age.

Saturday evening, we went to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for dinner. Crystal made a delicious chicken tortilla stew for dinner. I made a no-bake chocolate lasagna for dessert.

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Jaden helped. He is my little chef, One of his favorite tv shows is Chopped on The Food Network.

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The chocolate lasagna was so easy to make and so delicious! I found the recipe on Pinterest (of course!). The bottom layer was a Oreo crust. Danny and Jaden crushed the Oreos and I added some melted butter so they would stay together in the bottom of the pan. The next layer was cream cheese mixed with one cup Cool Whip, sugar, and a little milk. The third layer was chocolate pudding and the top layer was Cool Whip. I topped the whole thing with chocolate chips.

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Yum!

On Saturday, we also stopped at Old Navy because they were having 50% off all outwear until 1 pm. I was looking for a coat for Jacob but all the ones in his size were just too thin. I did find a black vest with a fur hood for myself for 50%.

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I used to have a black vest from H&M that I loved and suddenly I can’t find it. I have had it for years and years but now it’s just gone. I was happy to find a new one at Old Navy even though I had to ask an employee to take one off a mannequin because it was the only one in my size.

Sunday

Saturday evening was the first snow we’ve had that actually stuck and Jaden was so excited to build a snowman on Sunday. A mini snowman.

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Sunday, Danny and I went to the gym again and worked on shoulders. We had a good workout and then came home to watch The Bears and The Blackhawks.

And that was my weekend!

  • How was your weekend?
  • Have you gotten snow yet?

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Filed under Family Fun, Fitness, Recipes, Running

Increasing My Distance

Happy birthday to my sister-in-law, Crystal!

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We went out Saturday night to Carrabba’s to celebrate!

Danny and I:

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Jaden and my mom:

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Today

This morning, I went my longest distance on the treadmill since my hip surgery – four miles! A fitting distance since my surgery was four months ago yesterday!

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It definitely took me a while to complete four miles, and I am really feeling it in my hip and leg now so I am going to take it easy for the rest of the day. I’m happy that I can finally start increasing my distance.

After the treadmill, I worked on biceps and finished up my workout with some stretching and foam rolling.

I haven’t worn my Polar heart rate monitor lately, so I wore it today and I burned over 800 calories!

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After the gym, I stopped at Wal-Mart and I could not pass up these peppermint ice cream Drumsticks.

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Peppermint ice cream is one of all time favorite ice creams and I wait all year to eat it. I have never seen peppermint Drumsticks before, so I had to buy them!

They also had Amy’s full-size pizzas for $5.47 which is the cheapest I have seen them anywhere.

Have a great afternoon!

  • What’s your favorite holiday/seasonal food? I love peppermint ice cream, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie!
  • Did you workout today?

 

5 Comments

Filed under Family Fun, Fitness, Fun, Uncategorized, Working Out

Halloween Weekend

Happy Monday! How was your weekend and Halloween?

Friday afternoon, Jaden has his Halloween party at school. His costume was a light-up stick man, but unfortunately it broke at school so he had to wear his costume from last year to trick-or-treat.

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We meet my brother, sister-in-law, and niece at my dad and step mom’s house to take the kids trick-or-treating.

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The weather was cold and extremely windy. I was very happy to be done trick-or-treating after about an hour and a half.

My the time we got back to my dad’s house, my hands were bleeding even though I wore gloves and my cheeks were red and wind burned and they stayed red for two days.

I always tell Danny that my body just wasn’t made for cold weather and we should move somewhere warm.

On Saturday morning, Danny and I went to the gym together. We haven’t been to the gym together in forever. We did some back exercises together and then I did some of my physical therapy exercises.

Our back exercises included:

  • seated rows
  • lat pulldowns
  • straight arm pullovers
  • deadlifts

I haven’t done deadlifts since my surgery and I was very happy that my hip seemed to be fine with them!

After the gym, we stopped at Starbucks and I was very excited to see that they had the holidays drinks! Of course, I had to have a gingerbread latte :)

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Saturday night, my in-laws watched the kids so Danny and I could have a date night.

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We went to Mago’s Mexican restaurant and then saw a movie. We were going to see The Maze Runner but decided to see Gone Girl at the last minute. I’m glad we did because Gone Girl was just as crazy as the book.

I’ve read the book but Danny hasn’t so it was fun seeing his reaction to the movie.

Sunday evening we watched Skyscraper Live to see Nik Wallenda walk blindfolded across Chicago skyscrapers. It was so cool to see something like that happening so close to home. Just watching him walk across two skyscrapers on a wire less than an inch wide without a safety harness or safety net was enough to make me want to faint!

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I’m off to the gym this morning! Have a great day!!

  • What did you do this weekend?
  • Have you seen/read Gone Girl?
  • Are you afraid of heights?

4 Comments

Filed under Family Fun, Fun, Halloween, Working Out

Halloween Food and Pumpkin Carving Party 2014

On Sunday afternoon, we got together at my grandparent’s house for our annual Halloween food and pumpkin carving party.

Every year, we all bring a Halloween food dish that we keep secret until the party. We have fun seeing what everyone brought and tasting them! Then, we spend the afternoon carving our pumpkins.

Once all the food has been tasted and all the pumpkins have been carved, we vote for our favorites. We have been having this party for years and we still somehow manage to come up with new food ideas every year!

This year, Danny and  I made eyeball cookies that I found on Pinterest.

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They were really easy to make and I separated the dough into four bowls so I could dye each one a different color.

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We also made pumpkin pie fluff dip with apples and animal crackers as dippers.

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There were so many great foods this year!

Vampire teeth donuts:

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Vampire teeth cookies:

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Bat poop:

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Blood clot biscuits (made with biscuits and cherries):

079I heard these biscuits were delicious, but I couldn’t bring myself to try them.

Pumpkin pot pie:

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Mini pot pies:

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Infested brain jello:

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“Nigel” – the man made of meat:

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After all the delicious food, we got to work on our pumpkin carving.

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Honestly, pumpkin carving isn’t my favorite thing to do so this year I painted my pumpkins.

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I painted them like donuts! I thought them came out so cute!

My sister-in-law, Crystal, did an amazing job on her pumpkin. Instead of carving, she transformed her pumpkin into a candy corn blow fish! She spent a long time on that pumpkin and did such a great job!

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There were a bunch of great pumpkins!!

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Well, except for trick-or-treating, all of our Halloween festivities are over for the year! I can’t wait to see what next year brings!!

Have a great day!

 

4 Comments

Filed under Family Fun, Halloween