Highlights of 2011

There is no doubt in my mind that 2011 has been my favorite year I’ve been alive so far. I hope to say that every year, but 2011 was particularly special with some pretty amazing things going on. Here’s a list of some of the highlights (in chronological order, not favorite order):

Steve and I celebrated our last non-married anniversary by going with Winston to a cabin in Northern AZ and spending the weekend just the three of us. Winston saw snow for the first time. Trips are awesome. Trips with puppies are even better :)

My mom threw me the perfect bridal shower! My mom isn’t much for hosting parties, but she told me early into the wedding planning that she wanted to throw my shower, and with the help of my amazing bridesmaids, I spent the day feeling totally overwhelmed by love and gifts, and amazingness!

My best friend Bethany went way above and beyond as my maid of honor to make me feel like the most special bride in the world and threw me the perfect bachelorette party!

I GOT MARRIED!!!!!!! And it was perfect.

In addition to all the reasons marrying the love of your life is awesome, I had almost every single person I love in the same place at the same time. Friends and family flew in from across the country and made me feel like a million bucks. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so loved as when I stood there looking at Steve and looking out at the faces of all the people who love us, their eyes glowing and each one totally present in the moment, and grateful to be there. Then, at the reception, there were so many unexpected speeches that left me crying my make up right off my face. Thanks for that, Bethany :) I don’t think a better maid of honor speech has ever existed.

WE GOT CLEMENTINE!!! Second only to the wedding, best part of this year. That dog drives me nuts. She won’t go to the bathroom outside when it’s raining, she walks around on the coffee table like it’s the floor, and she runs in crazy circles around my neck for no reason, but I love her, and she was the best gift I have ever received. Thanks, Amelia!!!

I got my first big directing job in Phoenix! I directed/choreographed/music directed The Rockin’ Tale of Snow White for AJTC (the same theatre I just did Fiddler with) and finally began to feel like I was doing what I wanted to do with my degree.

I met the two most amazing mentors! Molly and Emily, I’m not sure if you two read this, but your friendship, guidance, and insight have changed my life this year. I feel so lucky to have the two most incredible people to look up to and learn from as I grow and build my career.

I went to the Grand Canyon for the first time since I was like 4! It was grand. Okay, that sounds lame, but pretty much John and I looked at it, said “Yup, it’s grand”, enjoyed it for a bit, and went on our way, but I did really love going and especially getting to go with John!

I ran my first race, decided to run a half marathon and discovered a love for something I never thought I could do. I don’t care if it sounds cheesey, but running has changed my life and being able to do it with Kara and the friendship we have developed through it has been so amazing.

I choreographed Aladdin! Definitely one of my favorite working experiences ever, and I had been wanting to work for Greasepaint pretty much since the second I moved back to Phoenix. I had the most incredible team, and I ended the show feeling so proud of the kids, and of my own work!

We hosted our second Thanksgiving. It was pretty perfect in my opinion :)

The same day, I had my first double digit run!

I directed/choreographed Fiddler on the Roof Jr. Okay, so I’m not super great at being Jewish, but I must admit doing this show was pretty special to me. Seeing the audiences that came out and how much it means to so much of the Jewish community was really inspiring, and I was so proud to show my parents what I had done. I know that sounds silly, but getting to do work that meant something to my family and my cultural community was really amazing for me.

Annnnddd, by the time you read this, I will be on a trip with my 3 favorite guys to see one of my favorite people in the whole wide world, my friend Lisa! Steve, Jason, Nacho and I will be freezing out booties off in Boston with Lisa and her husband David and I cannot wait to go and spend New Years with them! I’ve never been to Boston and I’ve been wanting to go visit Lisa ever since she moved there.

It has been a truly incredible year and I am so grateful so the life I am living. Happy New Years everyone!

What Comes After 10

"Watch out run, we're coming for you!"

I love long runs. They are undoubtedly my favorite part of training. I mean, when I’ve only done 4 and want to be done, maybe for a minute I don’t love them, but I always at some point find myself so pumped during and after them. Today was Kara’s epic return post ankle roll injury. I mean, we did a short run on Wednesday, but today was really her big day back. The last time we ran together was when we did 8 miles.

Kara got to my house bright and early for some cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread with almond butter and banana. I know that everyone eats nut butter and banana toast before long runs, but there is a reason. I felt fueled and energized the entire time. I don’t think I will ever do an other long run without this breakfast. We waited a few minutes for the sun to come out, put on our fancy new compression socks and we were off!

"Watch out run, we're coming for you!"

"HiiiiYA! Take that, road!"

I was feeling pretty good today and secretly the entire time I was wanting to do 11 miles. I haven’t repeated a number on a long run yet, and I am always anxious to cover new distance and do something I’ve never done before. I contemplated lying to Kara about how far we’d gone and then surprising her with a “Tadaaaaa, we actually did 11!!” when we returned, but I didn’t know if she’d appreciate that post injury, so I pretended not to notice that the Garmin beeped at 5mi, and then stopped at 5.06 and said “Ohhhh whoooops…” I made it a whole 30 seconds trying to be deceitful. Then I asked Kara if I could convince her to run for 4 more minutes before turning around, and because she is basically the most awesome friend and running buddy to ever walk the face of the Earth, she immediately said yes, and we changed the plan to 11. I was so excited I literally jumped up and down a little. New territory!!!! My favorite!!!! So we ran a few minutes longer until we hit 5.5, then stopped for some espresso love flavored Gu.

This Gu stop made me laugh for about a mile. I mean, I think the espresso flavor tastes pretty decent, but the stickiness of Gu sometimes makes me a little grossed out, but I look over and Kara is not at all phased and says “I’m thoroughly enjoying this!!” She straight up loved the Gu which for some reason was pretty hilarious to me. I’ve never heard someone say that I guess. We turned around and I continued to laugh about her and the Gu.

It seemed as if the second half of the run flew by. I was so excited. To run new mileage, to have my running buddy back, to be running. I finished the last mile of the run with a huge slapstick grin across my face. We finished with a respectable (for me) 10:11 average pace.

That is Steve's hand. I promise my hand is not hair like that.

Mile 1–11:12
Mile 2–10:36
Mile 3–10:32
Mile 4–10:25
Mile 5–10:25
Mile 6–10:05 (thank you Gu!)
Mile 7–10:09 (man so close to no positive splits!)
Mile 8–10:07
Mile 9–9:48 (that’s more like it!)
Mile 10–9:39
Mile 11–9:19

Really really close to negative splits!!! When we walked in the door I was just so happy. I get some serious runners high. I’m pretty sure I’m hooked ;)

Once we got back, I forced Kara to join me in some stretching and foam rolling.

Check out those hot sweat stains. It's no wonder half of my blog search terms include the word sweat.

"Aunt Kara, I will help you stretch! I am so good at stretching. How do you think I got this long?"

Then came the least fun part of all. I’ve been using the pool as my “ice bath” and as it’s gotten colder and colder outside, the icy pool bathes have gotten less and less fun. Today, it looked like this outside:

In Phoenix, 50 degrees is considered scary cold.

"AHHHHH!!!!!!!" and lots more curse words

Steve just made fun of us.

"Yeah, just keep laughing, jerk."

While Winston and Clementine were in full on play time mode. Thanks for the entertainment, puppies. You definitely made it suck less.

"Come out and play with me NNNOOOOWWWW!!!"

"Okay, you asked for it! Raaaawwwwrrrr!!"

 

It’s funny, once you’re actually in the pool, the only thing that seems worse than staying in is getting out and getting blasted by the cold air. Finally, once our toes started to go numb, we braved it.

Brrrrrrrrr

"Mom, why did you go in the scary water? I don't understand."

This much is true, ice bathes are better with friends.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time

This is our Chrismukah tree. I tried to suggest we put it out sooner and call it a Thanksgiving tree, but I was vetoed.

I’d been asking Steve if we could start decorating for the holidays since my epic day off on November 11th. He had been a big jerk kindly told me that we were not going to be “those people” and we had to wait until after Thanksgiving. Well you better believe the first thing we did Friday morning was get out the tree!

This is our Chrismukah tree. I tried to suggest we put it out sooner and call it a Thanksgiving tree, but I was vetoed.

Whoever decided trees were only for Christmas was a big dope. Didn't they know that Hanukkah is the festival of lights?! Look at those lights being festive!

Did you catch out menorah ornament? Mom? Dad??

Last year we bought some basic colorful (of course) ornaments and then a few personalized ones that we plan to add to each year. I pick one out every year that represents Steve and he gets to pick one that represents me. I bough the penguin one to represent *us* and Lisa got us the engagement one for Christmas. I think that one’s my favorite. Either that or my Lion King ornament that Bethy got me when we lived together. It was my very first ornament and our roomie Christmas was one of the best ever!

Of course we couldn't resist getting Winston and Clementine ornaments. Too bad they don't really look like them at all haha. Note the hippo--it represents my favorite Christmas song ever. "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas! Only a hippopotamus will doooo!"

We also put up some decorations around the house. Most of them are from Hobby Lobby and Target, two of my favorite stores on Earth!

Look, family, a menorah! And Steve's swear jar. He has a profanity problem. Who else thinks the proceeds should go to me?

It wasn’t until Sunday that we finally got to the outside decorations including one extra special decoration! Steve did most of the work while I played assistant and photographer. Winston was scared and hid inside and Clementine played spectator.

Just to warn you, I took a lot of pictures. It’s my first time getting to document the experience! :)

I.love.lights.

"Look at me! I'm cute and I hang the lights!" Somehow I feel like my interpretation of Steve thoughts must be wildly inaccurate. "Noooo, look at me! I'm cutER and I sniff things." That one seems about right ;)

"What is this fancy contraption? Can I eat it?"

"What about these? I can eat these, right???"

"Fine, I will just sit here starving to death because you never let me eat anything." In my head, Clementine is really good at the Jewish guilt.

I always feel like there is no right place for our wreath since we can't put it on the door. Does this look odd to anyone else?

Finally, it was time for the main event! You remember this guy don’t you??

THE FLAMINGO!!!!!

Putting him together was…well…interesting.

"I don't need to read the instructions!" Ugh. Men.

Clementine was very confused by the flamingo.

"You don't look like a dog."

"You don't smell like a dog."

"Lower, dad, I can't see!!"

"You don't play with me like a dog,"

"What are you????"

The best decoration ever, Clementine. That is what I am.

"See, I stand on one foot."

"What were we talking about again? SQUIRREL!"

We still have some more lights and decorating to do, but we’re off to a great start and I am pretty much puking up holiday spirit. Did I mention that I love this time of year?

What are your holiday/decorating traditions?

Thanksgiving 2011

"Good job, mom. I'll sit here and keep watch while you stretch."

Hello friends! I hope your Thanksgiving was as fabulous as mine! I started the day off with my first double digit run ever. After that, I was pretty emotional all day long. In the morning Clementine helped me while I stretched out my tired legs.

“Good job, mom. I’ll sit here and keep watch while you stretch.”

Legs hurt less with a Clementine. It’s a proven fact.

Pretty soon, I was back to work on snacks, sides and setting up. For the snack food, I made Skinny Mini Corndogs (recipe to come–they are a hit every time!) and Baked Sweet Potato Chips with a Yogurt Dipping Sauce. Lisa made her famous Deviled Eggs and Judy brought chips with homemade salsa. So much yum.

Ok, they look kinda funny pre-cooked, but just trust me.

I put Charlie to work on sweet potato flipping. Careful about coming to dinner at my house, I will put you to work!

Steve asked me at 7am when I returned from my run if I wanted to open the champagne which I thought I would, but even I can’t handle it that early so we waited until after noon ;)

“Friends! I ran 10 miles and cooked a lot of food, so please drink with me!”

“Oh, you still wanted some too? I was just going to switch off between my glass and the bottle…”

You know you like my Thanksgiving outfit.

Before it was time to make the last couple of things for dinner, I was able to spend some time actually hanging out with friends, family and the puppies. Imagine that! I hosted and got to be social! Success.

Charlie and Kara always take the best pictures together!

I seriously cannot imagine my life without this little guy. He is the most loving dog on earth!

Seriously, look at how he hugs me!

I got legitimately upset with Steve for only taking pictures of Clementine. In true Steve fashion, he took about a million pictures of Winston afterwards.

Most beautiful photo of my mom ever.

Mathew and Lisa

Deann and my mom

Carolyn was visiting from Tucson for the weekend, and I am so glad she was able to make it as well! She even brought me a hostess present, and I didn’t even tell her for the entire month before that she was supposed to. I mean, not that I would have done that to anyone. ;)

Fig butter and honey apple butter!!! We all know how I feel about anything with the word butter in it. Yummmm. She also got me a Starbucks gift card! This girl knows the way to my heart!!

If you’re looking for a blog with some kick butt work outs that can make you feel like your work out is lame no matter how hard you think you’ve worked, you should check hers out. She has made so much progress and looks absolutely amazing!

Because Carolyn was hanging with Kara and Charlie, I think she was asked about 5 times whether she also worked for Starbucks haha.

My dad, Janie, Grandma, and Hank

Finally, it was time to finish up the cooking and carve the turkey!

Wild mushrooms, fresh rosemary, bay leaves, olive oil, chopped garlic, s&p. Baked @ 375 for 20-30 min.

I had almost forgotten that last year we painted our own turkey platter at As You Wish. I absolutely love this.

Steve’s turkey came out absolutely perfect. 2nd time was a charm ;)

Eventually we all sat down to say what we were thankful for. My favorite part of Thanksgiving.

After dinner, Hermano finally arrived (Soooo happy!!! I missed him all day!) andSteve gathered all the family into the living room for a photo.

Love.

And then afterwards, I insisted on a friends picture, and while I am not a fan of the photo in general, I love my friends, so i posted it anyway.

Then, it was time for dessert. I cannot wait to post all of these recipes because they came out amazing! There was Super Simple Pumpkin Brownies, Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars, and ice cream (buttermilk, white chocolate and vanilla bean). And, yes, every single thing I made was at least healthy-ish. I mean, I didn’t go nutty about it, but I made everything the way I wanted to make it.

No one had any complaints ;)

 

“Is it bed time yet?”

The whole day was pretty perfect from start to finish. I love my family. I love my friends. I love my Winston and Clementine.

 


Family Dinner

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This week my aunt is in town from Kansas City! She usually is only able to make it out here about once a year, and unfortunately she has to leave on Thanksgiving morning so last night I invited the family over for dinner at my place. I would almost always rather cook and be in my own home than go out, but sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what to make for people with such a variety of tastes. My dad is vegetarian and Steve is a meat-a-tarian, and my grandma is, well, old. I really love spicy foods, but sometimes I worry that it will be too spicy for someone older. Not sure if that even makes a difference?

Anyway,  a few weeks ago, Lauren posted a recipe for Pumpkin Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili. I was immediately intrigued and tried it pretty soon after. Let me first say that Healthy Food For Living is probably my favorite recipe blog. I have absolutely loved every recipe I have ever tried and her substitutions have introduced me to several things that I now do on a regular basis. If you’ve never read her blog, check it out. However, when I made this chili the first time it was a little bit of a kitchen flop. You see, I had also recently seen a recipe for chili that you top with unbaked cornbread and then throw in the oven so the cornbread bakes on top. Well, the chili takes at least an hour to set and then the cornbread takes like 40 minutes so by the time it went in the oven it was 8pm and I was hungry enough to start chewing on my left arm. Well I decided it was done before it was and the cornbread to chili ratio was not working. I mean, I LOVE carbs but there was so much bread to so little chili and the bread was not really cooked and although I knew the chili recipe was good because everything tasted good, it was definitely NOT something I would share on here haha.

Last night, I used my brain a little and made cornbread muffins instead ;) I followed Lauren’s recipe almost exactly with the exception of adding adding some canned green chilis (I’d already opened the can for the cornbread, so I figured might as well), adding a can of corn, and using half regular black beans and half cuban style. I also doubled the recipe because I was cooking for 6.

The chili was delicious. *Almost* perfect. The one thing I would change next time is I would either boil/bake/microwave the sweet potato chunks for a few minutes first to cook them through slightly, or I would put the whole thing in a crockpot and let it cook on low probably all day long. Some of the sweet potatoes were cooked enough, but some of them were not quite as soft as I would have liked, but no one seemed too bothered by it :)

For the corn muffins, I took a box of Trader Joe’s cornbread mix, 3/4 cup reduced fat buttermilk, 1 egg, 1/2 can medium heat green chilis and 1/2 cup pumpkin. Mixed everything together, transferred to muffin tins and baked according to directions on the box, although muffins definitely cook up faster, so you have to keep an eye on them.

I left Steve in charge of filling the tins, so we ended up with 1o huge muffins instead of 12 haha. He of course took all the credit for their deliciousness because I let him take over at the end.

The nice thing about this meal is that even though the chili takes a while to cook, once you put everything together, it just does the rest of the work on it’s own which gave me time to visit with the fam.

My aunt Rocky

I’m glad this is documented because I think this is the most conservative outfit my dad has ever worn.

G-ma. I think Steve did a pretty fab job on this picture! Doesn't she look good for 88?!

Steve got artsy with the camera. For a change ;)

Annnnnndddd Janie brought over our Chanukah/Christmas present super early!! She reads the blog so she knew exactly what I wanted!

"Present!!! I love presents!!!"

IT'S THE FLAMINGO!!!!!!!!!!

EEEEEE!!!! The wait is over!!!!

Do you remember how long I’ve been wanting this flamingo light?!?! Since last year!!! Obviously, I was ecstatic! I’ve said it a million times, but I am the easiest person to shop for. It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy, and I love presents so much that pretty much anything with a little bit of thought, I go over the moon for. Janie is actually a really fantastic gift giver. Last year, she got us holiday martini glasses that I can’t wait to break out this year–perhaps an eggnog martini is in my future :) She also got us this

Menorah ornament!!!

Steve and I almost bought that ornament and actually when I was at Target yesterday with Bethany I almost bought the flamingo. So glad we didn’t buy either! Thank you Janie for the amazing kick off to the holiday season!

After dinner we had some cranberry bars for dessert, and took some family pics.

I am not a fan of this picture and I do not find it flattering, but it is necessary for the funniness that is about to come, so I'm taking one for the team, or the greater humor, or something.

After I looked at this photo, I started complaining about my double chin. All the sudden in pictures, it appears without fail. I have to be super careful about my angles because I’m vain and I do in fact care about it. As I started complaining, my dad suggested I try his neck exercises.

Thanks for the tip dad. Clearly, I have something to learn about my strength training from you ;)

“You see how I tighten in the most tensed position?” Oh yes, there is no arguing about tightened and tense position hahahaha. My dad is ridiculous and now you can see where I get my silliness from. My mom is actually pretty silly too. I didn’t stand a chance!

We spent the remainder of the evening loving on the puppies.

Clementine is learning to raise the roof.

And I'm trying to learn from her how to be cute. She is the master.

Can you see the photographer dog favoritism? Poor Winnie always seems left out of all of the pictures :( If I was in control of the camera, there would be shot after shot of Winston in all his glory! :)

 

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…

All that cuteness must be tiring.

CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!

At least, at Starbucks it is. You can imagine my excitement when I walked in to get my coffee yesterday afternoon and all of this was happening!

"Look at me. I'm making Christmas happen. I am essentially responsible for bringing you Christmas. You're welcome."

Christmas tumblers!!

And decorations!

It all just makes me soooo happy! I know, I know, I’m a total sucker for this time of year. Before I left for Starbucks, I put Winnie and Clem outside and for a total change, they decided to be super cute.

All that cuteness must be tiring.

I also had not been able to get roasted sweet potatoes off my mind since I kept reading about them on Carrots N Cake, so I made some for myself and they were oh so delicious.

Misting of olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. 400 for approx 30 minutes. Yum

And then later in the day, this happened

An apple slicer apparently doesn't stand a chance against the honey crisp!

I seriously just looked at the apple so confused for a good minute before deciding I had to figure out how to salvage it because it was the last honey crisp in my house and they are so delicious!

In other news, I have accomplished pretty much nothing exercise wise since Saturday. I feel just barely better than yesterday, so I’m just trying to wait it out and not make myself sicker. I’m planning to hopefully do a short run tomorrow, but at the very least be back to spin on Thursday, I have a long run with Nicole on Friday (YAY!!!) and the Undy 5000 with Nicole, Mariel and *hopefully* Kara if her ankle is back to normal on Saturday!

And lastly, I can’t talk about exactly what it is yet, but our family did get some pretty fantastic and exciting news yesterday!! I can’t wait to be able to actually share it when it all becomes official! :) Have a good day everyone!

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup, The Cure for Everything

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Well friends, it has been a loooonnng day. I woke up this morning feeling sicker than I have all week. Maybe attempting to jump back into running 2 days in a row the second you start to feel better isn’t so conducive to healing after all? On top of that there has been an ongoing….situation…I’ve been dealing with at work. I wish so much that I could post about it, but you know how it goes. By the time I got home all I wanted was comfort food, so I made a version of grilled cheese and tomato soup. The cure for all things.

Open faced "alternative bagel" with sundried tomato laughing cow and goat cheddar with a few drops of Sriracha

From an awesome Progresso can + garlic pepper, dried basil and Sriracha

Now I plan on spending the rest of my night like this

Ari’s Epic Day Off

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Ok, listen, a day off might not sound super epic to you, but after almost 2 months straight of working every single day, I had been dreaming of this day and planning this day for weeks! When I got sick on Monday, I started to fear for the worst, and imagined myself spending my one day laying at home with a blanket on the couch. That may actually sound like a nice day to some of you (minus the sick part) but I am not a girl who likes to lay on the couch! Luckily, by the time I left rehearsal Thursday evening, I could see that things were looking up!

My day started the way every day off should, with pancakes!

Whole wheat oatmeal blueberry pancakes. With a side of yum.

 

Actually, it started even before that. My alarm went off at 6:15–yes I am crazy, I accept this and I headed out for my first run since MONDAY. Oy! My original plan for the week had my long run on Thursday so that Friday would be completely off from everything, but Kara got injured and I got sick and no long run happened. In fact 2 days of no exercise other than physical therapy and a few step touches happened, and I was not feeling like letting an other one go by. So I got up early to get it done and out of the way so I could get on with my day.

Not too shabby, right?

 

Hooray!! I ran! Check me out!! Oh, and no double chins please! Ohhhh and about those holes in my arm pits...I'm a starving artists.

"Okay, now take a shot of me in action!" So realistic. I used Stanislovsky technique to portray the character of "Ari running" College education=money well spent.

So theeennnn, the pancakes finally came. I asked Steve “Should we make breakfast here or go out?” He replied “So I know today is all about you, but it’s also about me in that I don’t want to clean anything.” That meant we were going out, because in this house the cook doesn’t do dishes! Well, more like in this house I don’t do dishes. Anyway, we went out to The Good Egg for some pancakes!

Steve got pancakes too!

Obviously, coffee was the next stop

Grande bold coffee, 1 pump sf mocha, 2 pumps sf vanilla, 1 pump sf peppermint, steamed soy. Just order it, who cares what looks of judgement you receive?

I really really need a new mani. Or at least to remove the remaining orange polish from my fingers…

After coffee we were on a holiday shopping mission! Gifts for other people, decorations for us! We spent the day at some of my very favorite stores. First up was Hobby Lobby. Other than the time I thought I was going to die in the Hobby Lobby which is a story for an other day (short version is overreaction to undercover cop leads to people screaming that someone has a gun at the front of the store and Kara and I being escorted through the back–yikes!), it is always one of my favorite places to be. If there is one near you and you haven’t been, go immediately. Like, right now.

Usually about half the store is on sale for 50% off. I think everything we bought was actually half off and look at that cart full of stuff! They have tons of knick knacky type things (PS: How does one spell knick knack? nick nack? I have no idea.)

Steve: "Act like you're gonna eat it!"

As well as crafty type things and lots of home decor. The entire time we were there I just kept saying to Steve over and over “This is the best day!!” I mean I could go to Hobby Lobby any morning before work on my own, but it’s just not the same as having a day with no schedules where you can do fun things with your favorite person on Earth!

Next on the list of favorite places (in case you didn’t anticipate this one)

Because it is so much better than Walmart, and K-Mart---let's not even go there about that one!

They have some super cute holiday puppy outfits right now, including PET PAJAMAS!!!!

"Why do I have to be in the picture? It's about the pajamas!" "Because I said so!" "FINE!"

Can’t you just picture Clementine in those little PJs!

"I'm cute on my own. I don't need pajamas."

I know I’ve said it about a zillion times, but I just really want this flamingo!

"If I'm going to take this picture, you have to pet the flamingo"

"WAAIIITT!!! I want to pose like it too!"

They also have a ton of other shiny decorations I want to put up outside the house.

Presents!!! My favorite!!!

And doesn't this little guy just put you in the holiday spirit?!

And then I saw the one thing I could not live without. I did not get to buy my beloved flamingo, but I simply could not leave the store without purchasing this.

"Buy me Ari!!! I am a kitchenaid mixer ornament and I just happen to be the exact same color as your own kitchenaid mixer. You cannot leave this store without me. I belong on your tree!!"

Heather, can you believe it?!?!?!!

After spending way too much money at Target and Hobby Lobby, we headed up to the Biltmore to meet Lisa and Ashleigh for lunch at Paradise Bakery. Let me just say that ever since Paradise Bakery got bought out and changed their menu, it is not nearly as good. I still love the tomato soup, but the sandwiches are not my fav anymore. They got rid of the delicious veggie one with the roasted red peppers and havarti cheese. Boo. But the soup and the cookies are still delicious.

Look, the guy drew a cute little smiley face in Steve’s soup with the sour cream garnish!

"I am a happy soup"

I ate mine with half a grilled cheese sandwich, but the soup was definitely the best part! That and the two bites I took of my m&m cookie. Yes, I took 2 bites and threw it away. I REALLY wanted those 2 bites. I did not, however, want an entire 4oo calorie cookie.

After lunch, we shopped around a little more, I got some necessary things done at the Apple store (bought a warranty for my mac book and got my broken ipod replaced). Then I went into Lulelemon and drooled over work out clothes I can’t afford. Steve found this on the outside of the store, which is so me it’s not even funny

Thank you Lululemon for reading my mind. After we finished shopping at the Biltmore, we said goodbye to Lisa and Ashleigh and headed back to our side of town to meet my mom, Hank and Charlie for coffee.

Not only is coffee more delicious in a mug, but did you know you get a 10 cent discount?

I always worry about making fun of my Jewishness on the blog for fear of offending someone, but I do think it’s funny that

1) I’m Jewish and care about getting a 10 cent discount.

2) This post has been almost entirely about Christmas.

After coffee we picked up dinner and beer. Yes, every single meal I ate yesterday came from a restaurant, and I am okay with that. Beer from Whole Foods (so many of my favorite places in one day!) and dinner from Chipotle.

It looks almost homemade if you put it in a real bowl!

When I get take out from Chipotle, I always wait and use my own fat free sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and lower fat/calorie cheese at home. That way I still get them, but not the full fat versions that I don’t want! I got a bowl with a little brown rice, a little pinto beans, fajita veggies, steak (same nutritionally as their chicken. I looked it up), lettuce, pico and medium salsa. Topped at home with fat free sour cream and goat cheddar. Yummmmm.

Then we watched caught up on some of our fav tv shows and brought out the beer!

"I have 2 beers! One in each hand!" :)

We did the mix and match at whole foods. I ended up only trying a few sips of the ones we opened because I didn’t want to mess up my getting better with too much alcohol.

After we finished eating, I decided I needed a lounging on the couch after my epic day off outfit.

"Mom, you embarrass me with all your 80s clothes. I wasn't even born when those were popular."

 

"Mom, you're so weird."

I almost wore my onesie, but leg warmers won.

Honestly, I just had the most amazing day, and although I wish I could have like 5 more days off, I feel slightly rejuvenated and just really happy that I got to spend some quality time with Steve and that I have such an amazing husband who will go along with whatever I want to do to make me feel special and ensure that my day off is absolutely perfect!

Have a great weekend everyone–hope you all enjoy your time off this weekend as much as I enjoyed yesterday! :D

A Day at the Dog Park

Winston! Go for a ride??

Hi friends! Did you check out the new “Who’s Who” tab up there? The “My Story” and “Recipes” are in progress and will hopefully be up soon! This morning began with a 3 mile run

So, here’s the thing. I am super happy with that time. I was sprinting my little heart out, so I’d better be happy with the time. Buuutttt, I REALLY wanted a 7:59 mile. Like it’s all I can think about lately. I want to see it happen and I have tunnel vision.

Mile 3–8:04

F.

One day.

After my run, I ate a quick breakfast, then Steve and I grabbed coffee (obviously) and took Winnie and Clem to the dog park!! Clementine had never been and the weather is so perfect for spending time outside right now!

Winston! Go for a ride??

Winston LOVES running and chasing! Check out this dog in action!

Poor Clemmie was so scared of all the big dogs! She was having it a little rough until little Peewee came along! Cutest dog name ever. All it took was an other mini wiener and Clem was ready to socialize!

After the dog park, I had to head to rehearsal. Steve drove up with me so he could meet up with his mom and sister since they live even further than the 40 minute commute to rehearsal (When are you guys gonna move to the East Valley?! Seriously!). Today’s rehearsal was seriously amazing. In fact this weekend was the first time since Aladdin that I actually felt good at my job. I’m just kind of burnt out, so projects that I feel less passionate about are feeling really tedious, but Fiddler I am passionate about for sure and today it finally felt like everything started to come together. I got to really push some of my actors and saw some amazing results. I can’t wait to get this show into the theatre and really see it come together!

After rehearsal, Steve, Lisa, Ashleigh and I went to dinner at Sweet Tomatoes. I have seen so little of my family lately it seems that it was nice to spend some time with them! I miss my little sister!

 

I just can’t wait until Thanksgiving (what?? me?? I know, you’re shocked. You had no idea I was so excited for Thanksgiving) when we can all be together for the whooollllleee day!!

Skinnified Sunday: Peppermint White Mocha Cupcakes

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Hi friends! I have been waiting for Starbucks’ official Christmas launch to make the cupcakes that have been on my mind since October! I would just like to say that with all the promoting I do, Starbucks should sponsor this blog or something haha. Hey there Starbucks execs…want to pay me to turn your delicious drinks into healthier baked goods? Let’s make that happen. I woke up yesterday bright and early (shocker…the idea of sleeping in is completely lost on me) and ready to bake!

Let’s pretend those extra laugh lines up there are just because it was early and my skin wasn’t quite awake yet. Oh well, at least they’re not frown lines. Anyway, moving on! Steve and I headed over to the bux to get some fresh coffee and via for the cupcakes and some coffee for ourselves. My recent order now that it’s cold outside: Grande bold coffee, 1 pump sf mocha, 1 pump sf peppermint, 2 pumps sf vanilla, steamed soy. Not a misto–that is like half milk, just with soy milk that is steamed and foamy. Tastes just like a peppermint mocha! Delicious. You have to get over the embarrassment of a complicated order, but it’s worth it ;)

We came home and got right to the baking, while Winnie and Clem got right to their business: being cute.

“Mom, where are my cupcakes?”

Clementine lately has been really into humping Winston. She really wants to be the boss these days and it always cracks us up because he is so much bigger than her!

Winston is just like “yeah, okay, do what you want. I’m still the boss around here.”

Okaaayyyy, onto the cupcakes!

White Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes from Cake on the Brain

Skinnified Peppermint White Mocha Cupcakes

yield 36 mini cupcakes

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup Splenda
  • 1 1/2 packets Starbucks via (or any instant coffee)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 oz grain sweetened white chocolate + 36 chips
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee, + extra for brushing
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 egg whites

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350,  line 36 mini muffin tins and spray inside liners (otherwise they will stick).
2. In mixer, combine flour, sugar, Splenda, via and salt.
3. Melt chocolate with coffee. Allow to cool slightly.
4. Add melted chocolate mixture to flour mixture and mix lightly.
5. Add yogurt, vanilla, peppermint, baking soda and egg whites and beat for 2 minutes.
6. Fill muffin tins 1/2 way to top, place 1 white chocolate chip in center, then fill up until they are 3/4 full (I pour it all into a freezer bag and cut a tiny hole in the corner).
7. Bake for 24 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
8. Using a toothpick, poke several holes in each cupcake and brush with coffee.
9. Cool completely and frost with peppermint cream cheese frosting.

Original Frosting

from Gimme Some Oven

  • 8 oz. (1 brick) cream cheese, softened
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar (depending on the thickness you’d like)
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

My Swaps:

  • Low fat cream cheese for regular (-fat, -calories)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar for 3-4 (-sugar, -calories)
  • 2 tbs light whipped butter for 4 regular (-fat, -calories)

Skinnified Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

yield frosting for 40-50 mini cupcakes

  • 8 oz. (1 brick) reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs light whipped butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Directions:

1. Beat cream cheese, butter and extracts.
2. Slowly add powdered sugar, scraping down sides of bowl when necessary.
3. Transfer to freezer bag (or pastry bag if you’re fancy), cut small hole in the corner of the bag and frost!

C is for Clementine, W for Winston, S for Steve and A for Ari! Steve didn’t figure that one out right away ;) and the heart is for love–duhhh! Yeah, I’m a cheeseball

Oh yeah, top with sprinkles! It makes it more fun! Pink for peppermint, brown for chocolate. I am so original ;)

They were soooo yummy! We had to take them immediately to our friends at the Bux and my mom so that our whole kitchen didn’t look like this

I also made regular peppermint mocha ones which I loved ALMOST as much. I just love white chocolate. Recipe coming soon. And before the season if over, you know there will be gingerbread latte (prob my fav Starbucks drink!), eggnog latte and caramel brulee latte treats coming your way. Stay tuned friends!

Our Halloween

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Hi friends! How was everyone’s Halloween? Ours was perfect. I had been so bummed thinking I was going to have to work on Halloween, but it all worked out and we were able to cancel rehearsal and I was able to spend a relaxing night with my fav guys which was exactly what I needed! Steve, Hermano, Winston and Clementine left around 5pm to head over to Jason’s. “Winston! Clementine! Wanna go for a ride to uncle Jason’s?!” Winston knows English better than Clementine and started whining and running around in circles. So cute. We have to spell things like ride, treat, and walk in front of him if we’re not actually planning to make it happen. Learned that lesson the hard way. As soon as we opened the car door, they both jumped right in, tails wagging.

Once we got there, we put Steve and Hermano on trick or treater duty and Jason and I headed to the store to buy some things we needed for dinner. We made “spaghetti” and spicy meat sauce

with a spinach salad

and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

Everything was delicious and I will be posting recipes ASAP!

After dinner and once trick or treating died down (Jason gets sooo many! We ran out of candy. Whoops.) We played with the puppies and Winston got to spend some quality time with his girlfriend Nico.

You can’t see it too well in the picture above, but this year, Winston dressed up as a rooster!

And Clementine was a bee!

One of my students suggested we take them trick or treating and that people should pass out dog treats! Brilliance. Unfortunately, I don’t think the rest of the world has caught on, so we gave them our own treats.

Does it make me an old lady is my perfect Halloween is staying in watching movies, cooking dinner, and dressing up my puppies?

What’s your favorite part of Halloween?

Best Friends

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October 30th is one of my favorite days of the year. Why, you ask? My very best friend Bethany was born! I have a few friends that fall under best friend status, but I only have one Bethany. We’ve been friends for about 12 years. She has been there with me through all of my crazy times. She was there when I first experienced true loss. We experienced it together and because of her, I was able to get through it. She understands me in a way no one else in this world (not even Steve) does. We have watched each other grow up, change, evolve and become newer, better versions of ourselves. We have lived across the country, we have lived together, we have had fights ending in tears, and we have laughed harder than I ever knew I could laugh together. She is my rock. My person (for you fellow Grey’s Anatomy lovers). We get each other, and with Bethany I can always just be myself. I never have to pretend or put on a happy face or pretend I’m not excited about something nerdy. I can’t imagine my life without her.

Last night, we went out to celebrate! We started at Valle Luna where apparently the “tall” beer is the size of your head!

Whoops.

There was food. It was okay. Nothing special in my opinion. Well, Jason’s pollo fundido that went in the deep fryer and was then smothered in cheese was pretty delicious, but nothing else that I tasted had me all that impressed. But we sat outside next to the lake with the ducks that Kara and I often run at, which was lovely.

After dinner, we returned to mi casa for present opening, cupcakes and games!

I’m not a good person to share cards with, I took up all the space.

Bethy had been looking for a grey purse, but hadn’t found anything she liked, and she never splurges on nice things for herself, so Steve, Jason, and I pitched in together to get her this super cute grey Coach purse, with just a little color pop!

She loved it!! I was so happy! I LOVE gift giving!!!!

On the way home, we had stopped at Whole Foods for more beer. I definitely did not need more beer and in my tipsiness ended up spending $15 on Larabars and Mojo bars. Whoops. I was done with alcohol for the night ;) The rest of the group got a few beers to try. Some we knew would be a success

However, some–Le Freak–were an utter failure. Bethany exclaimed “Le Freak sucks!!!” Jason made this face.

The puppies were very excited about all the extra attention company brought them.

“GET AWAY!!!!!! Aunt Bethany is paying attention to ME!!”

“Look, I’m cute, love me.”

“I love you new friend Liz! Please stay here forever. Mom says you might move to AZ. Please make it be true!!!!!!”

We ate NOT Skinnified Tres Leches cupcakes. Not everyone likes their birthday food skinnified, so I try to oblige ;)

And we played board games, laughed, and acted a little like children.

 

Thank you, Bernie for giving birth to the most amazing friend I have ever known and giving us reason to celebrate!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BETHY!!!!! LOVE YOU!!!!