New York City

This is my awesome pretty dancer friend named Sara. We went to college together and took lots of crazy dance classes together last time I was in the city.

I wanna be a part of it–New York, New York!

Me: How long until that gets old?

Jason: 5 minutes ago.

I ♥ NY, it’s true. I don’t go to NYC to see the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. My time usually consists of great friends, shows, Steps and BDC. I didn’t take a single dance class the entire visit. Sniffff. I did get to experience the city with Steve for the first time, see some of my favorite people in the world including Mac, Sylvi, Jen, my uncle Mark, Sara, and Michael. I never did make it for a run in Central Park like I wanted–it was sooooo cold. At one point it was 9 degrees plus wind chill. Brrrrrr. But I had an amazing time and ate so much great food. Here’s a look through pictures ;)

Steve got some artsy city shots

"That's pretty badass" That's what I say, right babe? Not ooohhh or ahhh?

Sylvi and I had a deep conversation about what this graffitti meant. I deciphered it to say "not mutant" rather than "nut mutant" and I thought that perhaps it was referring the immigration and being referred to as an "alien". Thoughts?

We really liked the zip tie art. But seriously, we did.

Check out the view from my uncle's office!

I saw lots of people I love that I don’t get to see to often. And I get to see Mac again in 2 months!!! EEEE!!!!!!

Sylvi, Mac and Me

"What face should we do?" "Disgusted!"

"Okay, do sexy" "I don't do sexy" "Then do silly sexy" "Okay...."

And because we're attention whore theatre kids, we took full advantage of our free photo sesh and also did Brady Bunch! Mac and Sylvi, what am I going to do this summer without you?!?! Seriously.

Michael, Jen, Me, Mac. Awesome friends courtesy of theatre camp.

This is my awesome pretty dancer friend named Sara. We went to college together and took lots of crazy dance classes together last time I was in the city.

That's my uncle. He has a fancy job and a fancy office that made me feel like I should have gone shopping for a special outfit just to drop by his office.

Yes, you're right! That IS my bff Melanie Amaro. Okay, so I just met her that day because she happened to be dropping by my uncle's office, but if she had a chance to get to know me, we would totally be bffs. In case you didn't know, she just won The X Factor, which is not like American Idol because talent is actually required.

I love this guy. He's pretty annoying, but I would never want him to spend his days annoying anyone, but me ;)

Oh yeah, and the food!

La Bota--Spanish food--holy yum. It's in Greenwhich Village and you should eat there.

Reason 1 you should eat at La Bota

Reason 2 you should eat at La Bota. In case you couldn't tell, this was my favorite meal of the entire trip.

Not only was the food delicious, but that was like a 3 hour dinner and we ordered tons of different things and all shared and spent lots of time hanging out and talking. Perfect atmosphere + delicious food + not emptying my bank account after paying the bill = YAY!

And then there was this…

Oh Crumbs, you are oh so tempting.

Steve and I shared the Elvis cupcake. The frosting was a little too sweet for me, but the actual cake part was sooooo delicious.

We also shared the most delicious black and white cookie from Junior’s that somehow disappeared before anyone thought about a camera. “Look to the cookie, George!” Name the TV show that quote is from—Ready…GO!

It was a great trip. I’m definitely happy to be home, but I am so glad I got the chance to get out of Phoenix and spend time with people I love for a whole week!

 

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!

Christmas 2011

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I know it’s now December 27th and I’m super late with my Christmas recap. I thought about just skipping forward, but I had such an awesome Christmas that I wanted to rewind a little bit and talk about what a lucky girl I am :)

As always, I was the first one awake. At 5am, which is gross on a day off, but I was too excited! I tossed and turned for a bit before deciding 6am was the acceptable hour to wake everyone up on Christmas morning. I jumped out of bed and ran around the house shouting “It’s Christmas!! Wake up, it’s Christmas!!” I have an 11 year old sister in law and every year that I’ve celebrated Christmas with Steve’s family I have been the one to wake everyone up. For some reason, they still love me ;) After a little persuading no time at all, we all joined in the living room to open some presents. Steve and I were mostly waiting on my mom, Hank and Charlie who were arriving around noon, but we opened a couple of things and watched Lisa, Ashleigh, Mathew and Deann open all of their gifts.

"Look!!! Santa came!!!" Looks like he brought someone a fancy new macro lense ;)

Clementine kept trying to hide from the big dogs behimd the tree so we decided she was a present. She was a present once--just not a Christmas one.

"I'm tired, mom." Being a present is hard work.

"Please don't tell me this Hanukkah sweater is my Christmas present. You can't fool me. I wore this last year!"

After presents round 1, Deann and I went out for a short run. I left my Garmin at home and was totally bummed because I originally planned on doing the Home for the Holidays 10K on Christmas day, but no dice. Deann and I took about a mile and a half loop, I dropped her back and went on an other 3ish solo, no music or anything. It was weird, but kind of awesome to run with absolutely no technology. No checking my pace, and really no clue how far I had gone. I remembered that I really enjoy running, and I’m not just doing it because I signed up for a race–something I had kinda been quietly questioning lately. Of course the second I walked in the door I hopped onto mapmyrun.com to try to figure out my distance, and figured it was somewhere between 3.5 and 4. Not too shabby.

The next part is my favorite. I have a niece that I don’t see nearly as much as I should/would like to. She’s 4 and the absolute cutest little girl EVER. Her name is Aubrianna, and watching her open presents was without a doubt the highlight of my day. Check out this cuteness.

She was so excited about her $5 bill. I want to be 4 again and feel like $5 is a lot of money!

After presents Round 2, we all hung out as I anxiously checked the door about every 5 seconds waiting for my mom. Hank and Charlie to arrive, so we could commence presents Round 3!

This was my second favorite part of Christmas. On my epic day off, Steve and I had gotten my mom a Vera Bradley purse for Christmas, almost 2 months before. Well at Lisa’s birthday, my mom starts talking to me about how much she wishes she had a Vera Bradley bag. We had only gone in the store once together and never spoken about it again until that day. I got the gift on a hunch because she seemed to really like the store when we had gone in. So she talks to me for a good 10 minutes about wanting one while I bite down hard on my tongue to contain myself from spilling the beans! I get sooooo excited when I know I’ve gotten the right gift. Holidays can be stressful, but nothing beats seeing the face of someone you love as they open something that totally makes their day!

Once she saw the name on the box, it was done! That wrapping didn't stand a chance ;)

There were also some pretty hilarious gifts.

A Clementine shirt. The rest of the dog is on the back. So freaking cute. Good work, Charlie!

Jewball. "I know you don't like to read, but it's about Jewish basketball, so if you don't read this, you're illiterate."--My mom

iPad for Dummies

Apparently if the "For Dummies" aren't dummied down enough, they have Seniors for Dummies so that even the oldest of farts...or my mom...can learn too. PS: Mom, I don't think you're old!

Then there was my awesome hubby. I think Steve took notes of every single thing I said I wanted for the entire year. You see, I always see things I like and want to buy, or talk about things I kinda need, but apparently don’t absolutely need because I never end up buying them for myself. I suck at buying new things sometimes. So this year Steve bought me everything I wanted. There were no big expensive gifts on my list this year, and honestly I loved this because I had so many presents to open and they were all things that showed he had been listening to me. Whenever people ask me what I want, I can never think of anything, but he just listened carefully and knew exactly what I wanted. I love him!

Running clothes!

A new fuzzy robe

A clippy thing!!! Such a long story, but I REALLY wanted a clippy thing for my garage door opener. Don't judge me.

A zeester!

A super fancy cutting board

And the one thing that I didn’t get from Steve, my mom ordered for me and wrapped up a picture of it because it’s not here yet hahaha. I love her.

Onion goggles!!! I really really really wanted some. My eyes cry so badly every time I chop!

 

What an amazing Christmas this year. I got a million more amazing gifts that would take hours to go into from all my family and friends. Thank you everyone for making me feel like a million bucks!! Even more importantly (even though I REALLY love gifts), I got to spend the day with the people I love. Last year, my mom, Hank and Charlie started coming to Lisa’s for Christmas, and honestly, Lisa opening up her house to my family so that we can all be together is the best Christmas present anyone could ever give me.

Okay, I gotta know!!! What was your favorite gift you received?!?!?!

 

Lisa’s Birthday

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Steve’s mom’s birthday is on Christmas Eve. I personally love it, because Christmas is really his side of the family’s holiday anyway, so we spend December 24th celebrating Lisa and getting ready for Christmas, and then do a huge family celebration on Christmas morning. This year, I started Lisa’s birthday off with a brunch. I made Blueberry Applesauce Muffins by following this recipe almost exactly. They came out soooo yummy!

I also made a Mexican Egg Bake and realized that I need to update my recipe a little bit because I did some things differently, so that will happen soon. It came out delicious and the whole thing was devoured with not a leftover in sight.

And of course I made cupcakes. Salted Caramel Toffee Crunch Cupcakes to be exact (recipe coming soon).

Anyone want to give me some frosting/decorating lessons? In case you've never seen my food before, presentation is not my strong suit haha.

After brunch we all hung around the house for a bit. Hermano had brought over our Christmas presents since we wouldn’t be spending Christmas together, so Steve and I opened our gifts. Let me tell you, my brother totally out did himself this year. Last year he bought me The Cake Bible which was awesome and perfect, but this year his gifts were thoughtful, personal, and no offense to anyone else, but possibly my favorite! The first thing I opened was a gift card, but not just any gift card…

LULULEMON!!!! EEEEEE!!!!! Let me just say that every single person who asked Steve for advice ended up getting me super awesome things. My husband rocks.

But the best part was this:

You can't fake that kind of present excitement, friends.

It’s a personalized water bottle that says “Hermana” on it. I love love love love love it! Anything personalized (not like just my name, but personalized to my relationship with that person, or an inside joke) is the key to my heart. You did good, Hermano. I am such a lucky sister!

Okay, back to the birthday. Sorry, I get on tangents and I can talk about myself for hours. It’s a skill. There I go again ;) Steve and I took Lisa and Ashleigh to dinner at The Arrogant Butcher. The last time I went to The Arrogant Butcher, I ordered asparagus and a side salad. F you carb diets. This time was sooooo much better! I ordered a turkey sloppy joe on a pretzel bun with sweet potato soup. Hellllllooooo, carbs! Glad we’re BFFs again. I missed you so.

So yummy, but honestly, I would have been happy with a huge bucket of the soup and nothing else. Something about soup with sweet potato, pumpkin, or butternut squash. My favorite.

I really love this guy. In case you didn't know ;)

Lisa might end up super mad at me for posting this picture, but I love it. She cracks me up.

I mean, really the whole napkin on your shirt thing is smart. Do you have any idea how much I end up spilling on myself on a daily basis? Just me? Oh, whoops....

They even brought her out a free birthday dessert! You know me and free :) Seriously delicious peanut butter cup.

mmmmmmmmm

Lisa has treated me like a part of her family since the moment Steve brought me into his life. I am so grateful to be a part of such an incredible family, and I am so happy to have the most wonderful second mom a girl could ask for! Happy birthday Lisa!

Hermano’s Orchestra Concert

Wow. That’s about all I can say. I’ve been going to school orchestra concerts for 5 years since Jacob was in 4th grade. I remember his very first ones. They had to make sure each group only actually played for about 15 minutes, otherwise it would have been really hard to sit through! I remember when he started Jr high, all of the sudden the caliber was upped a few hundred notches. His jazz band won competitions. He played in the top orchestra. They were pretty legit. This is his first year in high school and unfortunately most of his concerts take place while I am in rehearsal. Luckily, his final concert of the season happened on an off night for me, and again, all I can say is wow.

He is one of the only freshman in the top orchestra and he has the second chair seat. As if that weren’t impressive enough, this group is fantastic. They sound like a polished recording. I watched and listened to this concert in awe of all of the potential filling the stage, and my eyes filling with tears from the overwhelming sense of pride I felt. Let me also say that I am not easily impressed. In fact, I am known for being kind of a snobby brat when it comes to the arts (I have to watch talent tv alone because no one will watch with me), but this concert was just so incredible.

Their first number was by far my favorite!

I am a proud big sister, let me tell you!

Where Have I Been?

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It is the busiest time of year for us youth performing arts folks. This week I am gearing up for 2 shows, while being at all of my Bravo! performances. Busy busy bee. In the time I haven’t been at work I’ve been enjoying the number of calories burned in an 11 mile run by eating delicious food, including celebrating Yogurtland’s 12 days of holiday flavors!

Nicole has been helping me enjoy the festivities.

And of course I convinced my family to take part as well

"Grandma, don't leave me for the fro yo!"

"Do I get to go for a ride to Yogurtland? I think they should have a bacon flavor for dogs. But I also like peanut butter."

And I’ve also been enjoying the change in weather.

How often does one really get to wear rain boots in Phoenix? I put them on at the slightest drizzle, because I have horrible fashion and consider a cute winter outfit anything including rain boots or leg warmers.

And then there was also a good amount of time spent on cookie baking…

Dear cookies, please stay fresh for your recipients! Please please please do not go stale because you tasted amazing right out of the oven!

 Yesterday I was so busy I didn’t even get a work out in and I had to cancel my physical therapy appt. But today started out on the right foot pedal!

I know I always say spin class is hard, and today was the same ride as Thursday, but is felt sooooo hard. And the room felt like it was about a million degrees. I was very happy to be spinning, but even happier to be done!

Now, I've just gotta work my way up to running that far...

Today I have a run of the show at school, the final performance for one of my acting classes, a Bravo! performance and tech. Whew. I need to shower and eat before I never have time to ever again.

 

Happy Half Birthday to You

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In case you weren’t aware, I love to celebrate. Anything. Everything. All the time. I get that from my dad. I remember growing up, we would celebrate my 1/2 birthday, 1/3 birthday, 9/10 birthday, you name it. It even goes down to 7/8 of a decade and crazy things like that. Thursday was my dad’s 1/2 birthday, but I was in rehearsal so his celebration had to wait until last night. I called my dad to see what the plan was and he asked if I was on the no carb diet (aka the dark ages when I avoided carbs like the plague–don’t do it, trust me) and I laughed and said “I’m on an ALL carb diet!” No carb stands a chance against me. Especially the night before my long run. He got so excited for pizza, so I suggested getting Papa Murphy’s and bringing it back to my place. I love their deLITE crust, it makes me feel not so guilty about pizza eating :)

I got the Mediterranean chicken and a veggie and cooked em up along with some roasted green beans and onion.

Have you tried sriracha on your pizza?? I put this stuff on everything, but it is especially good on pizza!

I also did some baking, but I can’t share too much yet, because I loved what I made so much that I decided to nix my original idea for the blogger cookie swap, and make a little variation of these instead. But I have to offer a sneak peak ;)

I had to send them all home with my dad because they never would have lasted over 24 hours in this house!

My dad, Steve, Hermano and I enjoyed our dinner, watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit and then Hermano won at Life. I came in second. I hate not winning. In fact, I’m still slightly bitter. Watch out, Hermano.

I still have embarrassing childhood stories to tell. You better think twice before you try to beat me in a game!

It was really nice to celebrate, but stay in and relax and play games. Maybe I’m old, but 9 out of 10 times, that’s what I’d rather do :) Happy half birthday dad!!!

Just Keep Spinning

I ♥ lights!!!

HOORAY!!!!! After a ridiculous month long hiatus (how did it get to be a month?!) I finally made it back to spin this morning! I don’t know why I was being such a lame-o about it. I love spin. Minus the sprints. I do not like sprints. I do not like them Sam I Am. But I love spin especially Linda’s spin. Kara and I arrived super early and were the first on the list.

"Ummm, how do we work this bike again?"

I started the class with my flat road back at 9 (one lower than before) just in case I had totally lost some of my ability, but about half way through I told myself to stop being a wimp decided to step up my game and put it back at 10. Just in time for the steepest hill and sprints. Awesome. After some good sweat dripping action and singing along to Love the Way You Lie at gear 19, I was pretty happy with my ride :)

It feels so good to be back! No more time off from spinning for this girl!

Yesterday, I started the day with a way too early and cold run with Kara. We planned to do 3, but wimped out from the dark and cold after 2. Looks like now that it’s officially winter, we will be starting a little later and sleeping in–yay!! After our run, I headed to physical therapy where I got scraped again, but it wasn’t NEARLY as bad this time around! Pre-scraping, I hung out with my favorite football players at physical therapy. Those guys crack me up. The therapists always have them doing these crazy hard looking athletic things and I wanted to play too. I’m not at all competitive ;) They were doing ladder work and making it seem really hard, then I skipped my little legs right through. They asked me if I used to play sports and I laughed and almost responded by saying “No, I’m Jewish.” but I think that’s only funny to me, so I just laughed and said no. I really like that in addition to making me feel better, my physical therapy sessions are giving me a little extra exercise time. I’m always surprised by how sweaty I am when I leave. But then again, we all know I have a sweating problem.

Tuesday night I went to Zoo Lights with my dad, Janie and Hermano. I was super excited because I figured Steve would be able to take all sorts of amazing photos, but he wasn’t feeling well that night, so I will just have to go back with him on a date night to get some pictures ;) I did try to take a couple with my phone.

I ♥ lights!!!

And I also rode a camel with Hermano. His name was Isaac.

Hey Isaac, thanks for the ride! Look, no hands!

Today I am so excited to go to work. I love days like that. We start tech for Fiddler on Sunday, so I wanted to shake things up tonight and we are doing Fiddler on the Roof soap opera style for our run tonight. As ridiculous as it sounds, there is a method to my madness ;) For those of you in the Phoenix area, I would love for you to come out and see the show! The kiddos have been working super hard and I feel hopeful that it will be good! Click here to order tickets!

Have a great day everyone!

 

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.

 


Thanksgiving Eve

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It’s so close, I can taste it! Literally ;) Was everyone else as busy as I was today? Steve and I woke up at 5am–gross. He wanted to get into work early so he could leave early and I had cooking on the brain and couldn’t fall back asleep once his alarm went off. Before I really got started on everything, I had a physical therapy appt that luckily did not involve any scraping action today. I did watch some other people get it though and apparently I really am a wimp because no one else was screaming in pain. But maybe I’m not a wimp, because look at my polka dotted leg!

I know my bruises are small, but small bruises hurt too!

After PT, I went to town on my food to do list.

1) Slice sweet potatoes for Baked Sweet Potato Chips ✓

Steve came home just in time to take some beautiful food photos and make fun of me…a lot.

Still somewhat amused by him

No longer amused. Maybe when I'm holding the knife is not the best time to be a butthole :)

2) Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars ✓

Crust. My favorite part!

3) Super Simple Pumpkin Brownies

4) White Chocolate and Vanilla Bean Ice Creams ✓

5) Yogurt Dipping Sauce for #1

Not to mention putting up some decorations ;)

I love these silly little cups from Hobby Lobby

Soooo much to do! Luckily my family knows I don’t like to work alone, so they dropped by to keep my company :)

I am so lucky to have married into the BEST family ever!

"I've had a hard day too, mom. Do you have any idea how hard it is to act cute so people pet me for hours at a time?"

"In case you weren't aware, I'm also cute in color."

My little sister is so pretty. Steve is going to beat the boys off pretty soon.

After cooking essentially all day long, I was off to work. One of those days where it’s a good thing that most of the time I really love what I do, otherwise it would have sucked. I ended up having a great time with my kids though and didn’t mind being there. I especially loved hearing the kiddos tell me what they were thankful for, and when some of them said the theatre, my heart melted. I am so proud to be a part of something that changes these kids’ lives! Anyway, while I went to work, Steve got to work on brining!

21 pounds of turkey people

Let me tell you, I love to cook, but I am SO glad to have Steve to take care of the turkey! That would stress me out like nobody’s business. Meat has always intimidated me. And this means all I have to do tomorrow is the mini corndogs, bake the sweet potato chips, and make the stuffing balls. I have big plans for early in the am, then I plan on coming home, popping open some champagne and enjoying the day with some of my favorite people ;)

This Thanksgiving there are a few things that I am especially thankful for

  • I am in a healthier place with food than I have ever been in my entire life. It feels amazing.
  • I am proving to myself things that I always imagined were impossible. My body is capable of amazing things. I am so lucky to have a body that can do what I ask of it.
  • My dad has found the most amazing woman to spend his life with that brings joy to his life and our whole family. Janie has also encouraged all of us to make my grandma a bigger part of our lives and I am so grateful for that because I spent a lot of time taking her for granted.
  • And of course every day I am thankful for Steve, Winston, Clementine, my family and my incredible friends, as well as my amazing students that inspire me every single day.

I have so much love for this holiday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!

Celebrating at Windsor

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Remember how I said we had some exciting family news??? Wellllll….

STEVE GOT A BIG PROMOTION AT WORK!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!

I wasn’t allowed to let the cat out of the bag before some more things were finalized, but he is super happy and excited to begin his new position as a linux engineer (whatever the f that means) December 15th! Tonight, I invited his mom, sister, grandma and grandpa as well as my mom and Hank out to dinner to celebrate! I’d been wanting to try Windsor for a while now and the food looked perfect for what Steve likes. Windsor has unique, elevated bar type food. Steve actually didn’t take any food pictures–he was too busy celebrating ;) But we all really liked our food and the atmosphere!

Steve has worked so hard and I am so proud of him and happy that he is finally getting some long deserved recognition!

Is it PDA to post a kissing picture on my blog? I kind of hate PDA.

Steve’s grandparents are in town for the whole week for Thanksgiving, so it was nice that they were able to join us.

Isn't my mom cute? I love her :O)

After a really stressful and challenging week, I jumped at the sight of beer and enjoyed a delicious draft Black Butte Porter. Yummmm.

I love dark beer. Dear waistline: Get on board, please.

I really enjoyed Windsor, but I have to say after trying Beckett’s Table on Friday, it was definitely hard to live up to and I would choose Beckett’s Table any day of the week. I think Steve enjoyed himself though, and luckily I was in much better spirits tonight.

It’s hard to really explain what’s been going on without giving too much detail, but essentially I am learning lessons–I am learning that my job(s) include aspects I never expected and that I don’t like, but they are worth it for the end result (regardless of how many career tests I took at midnight last night in hopes that a new path would spark). The truth is, no matter what career path I choose, people are gonna be a holes and yell at me and make me feel like crap. Maybe it’s not as hard when it’s not something you care about? But maybe not. Might as well at least get yelled at and belittled doing something I love, and maybe one day I will grow a thicker skin and it won’t bug me so much. That’s the goal. Until then, I have some really great mentors that keep me sane and build me up when I feel like I’ve been broken down. I’m so grateful for them.

Alright friends, I haven’t really slept since like Wednesday night so I am thinking I might go to sleep in about 5 minutes. It’s 9pm. Apparently I’m 103 years old. Goodnight ;)

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! :)