Happy Things

NuttZo

Hi friends! I missed you! I know I was only away for less than a week, but I’ve been way less present to blogging the last 6 weeks as I’ve been way more present to my summer job and soaking up the amazing people I only get to see a few weeks out of the year, but now I’m back home (wahhh, it’s hot) and ready to reunite with my kitchen and you lovely people! So to jump back in, I wanted to share with you some happy things I came home to.

1. A jar of this deliciousness. While I was away, NuttZo sent me a jar of their crunchy chocolate flavor to try, and it is absolutely amazing. One of the first things I did when I got home was open it up, and it is drippy, crunchy, just the right amount of sweet, and totally addictive. I already have to monitor myself to make sure I don’t go through the entire jar in two days. It includes peanuts, cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and hazelnuts. It is better than any chocolate nut spread that I have ever tasted, and I am obsessed with the crunchiness. I must find a way to recreate in my kitchen!

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2. A super sweet card from Heather about my upcoming speaking engagement at the Healthy Living Summit! I am beyond excited to be speaking, and really looking forward to meeting some of my favorite people from around the internet. Because that’s a totally normal thing to look forward to, right?

3. These faces. ‘Nuff said.

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Also finally having the sound of puppy nails on the tile again! I missed that!

4. A RUNNER HUSBAND!!! Without a doubt the happiest thing that happened while I was away is that Steve started the couch to 5k program! He’s on week 5, and hasn’t missed a beat since he started. I am unbelievably proud, and it means I need to get my butt in gear with some swim lessons so I can actually announce some exciting future plans. ;)

5. MEAN GREEN!!

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Isn’t she beaaaauuutiful? She needs a new seat because this one is, um, not working for me, but she is everything I dreamed she would be. Also,  road bikes are super sensitive to your movements. No more off in la la land while I ride my bike for me. I actually have to pay attention now. Crap.

6. I was in the Arizona Republic today along with one of my besties! Check it out!

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7. The months of February, March and April, I ran zero miles. In May I ran 24, in June I ran 38, and in July I ran 56. I was feeling a little down on myself that I still haven’t run longer than 5 miles and I am supposed to run a marathon in November, but I know Coach Susan is, like, a billion times smarter than me, and I know she has a plan, but seeing the numbers build up and actually being able to see my progress really lifted my spirits. Slowly, but surely I will get back to where I was last November and December, and really I have my whole life to get faster, so what’s the rush?

8. I really love my bed and my couch. I’m glad to be back to “real life”. Still totally missing Portland and my girls up there, but happy to be in my home with my kitchen and my Kitchenaid and my Vitamix. ;)

Disclosure: The NuttZo was sent to me to review for blog purposes. All opinions are my own.

Reasons To Be Grateful

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As my first marathon draws closer (ummm, somehow it became marathon week–YIKES!!), I am finding myself even more emotional than usual. If you know me, you know it’s hard to get more emotional than my natural everyday state, but I promise you it has happened. Yesterday, I spent 15 minutes crying in the car because I felt so proud of what I’ve done. Not just the marathon, but every big goal I’ve set out to conquer, I feel like I have achieved. Not many people can say that, and I have a lot to be proud of.

With this pride comes so much gratitude. I’ve not achieved these things on my own, and beyond that, this experience and trip to New York City gives me so many reasons to be grateful. I’m totally overwhelmed by all of it, but I wanted to try to put some of it into words, so that when all I can think about is how badly my legs hurt, I will have a mental picture of why I’m lucky, why I should suck it up and run faster. ;)

  • I’m grateful I can run. Not everyone can. I see people every day who are physically less fortunate than me, and it breaks my heart that not everyone can experience the same joy, release, and freedom that I find in running. I could have a disability, or worse, I could not care enough about myself to make the choice to try. I’m grateful for the ability to run: mentally and physically.
  • I’m grateful for Susan LokenWhen I tell people about Susan, they either know exactly who she is, or are quickly impressed when I spew off her list of accomplishments that I’ve memorized through all my internet stalking. She has given me everything: my plan, tough love, an ear to listen, and most importantly, the belief that I can do this. The other day she told me that I’ve come a long way and shown a lot of improvement. She probably doesn’t know how much that meant to me, or how much I needed to hear it, but it made my month. I couldn’t have done this without her.
  • I’m grateful for my team. I’ve made so many great friendships through this process, and they have shown me tremendous support, love, and encouragement. There really is nothing like training with a team. I would highly suggest it for anyone training for their first marathon. I LOVE these guys!
  • I’m grateful for my parents. They are flying to New York to see me cross the finish line. My dad can’t afford it, but he insists on going to be there for me. My mom hates to fly, but her ticket is booked. Talk about support–flying across the country to watch your kid run a marathon. Yes, I’m still a kid. They are the best.
  • I’m grateful for my friends who are coming out to support me. Some of them live in New York, some of them live here, some of them live in the surrounding areas, but many of them are making special arrangements to be there for to share this moment with me. I will probably have my first marathon lined with some of my very favorites cheering my name. I don’t know what they heck I’ve done to deserve that, but I’ll take it!
  • I’m especially grateful I get to spend time with this friend. Mac is one of my best friends in the entire world. He lives across the country, and I see him more often than some of my friends that live in Arizona. Our friendship was just kind of meant to be, and so we make it work, and find ways to see each other. He is a life-long friend, and has been an undying source of support through this whole process. I cannot freaking wait to celebrate with him!!!
  • I’m grateful for the world’s most supportive husband. The other day we had an argument, and then “surprised” each other with coffee (at the same time), then he showed me he loved me by turning on every single light in the entire house because we always playfully bicker about the lights (I turn on all the lights, never turn them off, then he turns them all off). He is perfect, and I absolutely could not have done this without him.
  • I’m grateful for YOU PEOPLE. With the support of many of you, I have almost reached my goal of raising $5,000. So many people showed incredible generosity, and I am beyond grateful. I know those donations will be put to good use, and I cannot wait until I can attend an event to see kids reaping the benefits of our efforts!
  • I’m just grateful to be. To be alive. To be healthy. To be where I am today. I am beyond lucky. I wish everyone out there could feel a little bit of what it’s like to feel like you have it all. Just for a second. It feels amazing.
  • Oh, and I’m grateful for MARATHON TOES!!! Had to include that ;)
So tell me, what are you grateful for?

Skull Valley Challenge

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Last weekend was a super special weekend! It was the first time Steve and I got to switch places, as I went to cheer him on for his first “race”. I call it a race, but it was untimed and they called it a “ride”. Well, he goes for a “ride” like, umm, every day so that doesn’t sound quite fancy enough for me. There was a starting line, and a finish line, so in my mind it was a race. Steve left for Prescott to get acclimated with the elevation on Wednesday. Remember how us Phoenix folk do with mile high elevation? I had to work, so I left with Jason on Saturday afternoon. On the way up, we decided to get married.

Sorry Steve. I know I’m supposed to be coming to see you, but Jason and I are in ring pop love.

We arrived just in time to head over to the bib pick up with the boys.

HE HAS A BIB!!!

Cycling besties. They’re in like, straight man friend love.

After bib pick up, we headed to The Raven Cafe for dinner.

Raven Cafe  is a super cute restaurant in downtown Prescott with a unique menu, coffee bar, and big beer and wine selection. Jason and I ordered a couple of beers to start.

Mine: Nut brown mmmmmm

Jason got this super intense Black Butte with a bunch of roman numerals after. It was DARK, and definitely a sipping beer, but we were both fans.

Look! It also comes in a fancy glass. Sorry bar tender lady, you’re on the blog, but it’s just your hand. Apparently I couldn’t wait until we sat down to start photographing. I’m a little impatient ;)

They have a really cool outdoor upstairs patio, and the weather was perfect, so we enjoyed dinner up there.

I’m a proud wife. And that lady in the background is apparently REAL freaked out by us taking a picture. CALM DOWN WOMAN!!!

I ordered a turkey sandwich that came with cranberry sauce, cream cheese, avocado and tomato–ohhhhh my gosh, it was so delicious! I got tortilla soup for my side which was also good, but the sandwich was definitely my favorite part!

After dinner, we went back to Dan’s and turned in early so the boys could get some sleep before the race ride. The next morning, Steve and Dan rode their bikes down to the start while Jason and I ran down to meet them.

Before we knew it, they were off, and I was pretty much the only person yelling and cheering like a crazy fool. Once they were out of site, Jason and I finished our run and ended out 3.5 miles at breakfast at The Sweet Potato Cafe. After breakfast we walked around, got coffee, and went back to work on a big obnoxious sign to hold at the finish.

Unfortunately, Steve didn’t end up having the best ride. The course was ridiculously tough and had about 4,000 ft of elevation gain over 54 miles. Around mile 37, the constant uphill just got to be too much, and he had to drop out. Bike races are serious business, man. If I get tired during a race, I just walk, but what do you do on your bike? You can’t walk it up the hill. I mean, I guess you can, but if you don’t do it all on the bike, does it really count? Anyway, he did the best he could at this point in his training, and I was still a proud lady! It just means next year he’s going to kill it!

Steve actually had a really great attitude about the whole thing. Of course he was disappointed, but he truly knew that he had done the best he could on that day. I really admire that about him. I spend a lot of time beating myself up and crying in the car after not performing the way I had hoped, and he just understood where he was that day, made some goals moving forward, and moved on. I absolutely feel like he still succeeded, and I feel beyond proud that he set out for such a challenging course on his first race ride!

How do you handle not living up to your expectations on race day? Ever done a bike race? What do you do if you can’t pedal up the stupid hill anymore?!?!?!

Maui Part 1

We spent the extra $20 a day and got a stupid touristy red convertible. Totally worth it.

I didn’t say much about my honeymoon. I’ve mostly been waiting for pictures, but truth be told, there’s not a whole lot to say. It was AWESOME. I loved almost every second. Instead, I just wanted to show you some of the highlights :)

We spent the extra $20 a day and got a stupid touristy red convertible. Totally worth it.

Napili Bay

I have an ice cream problem.

My favorite. On our sunset dinner cruise.

DOLPHINS!!!! Near Lanai, on our snorkeling trip.

On top of the clouds @ Haleakala

More to come, as well as lots of Hawaii inspired recipes. I took notes….on my honeymoon. Don’t judge me.

 

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

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Hello from Ashland, OR! Tons of exciting things happening right now! Yesterday, I left Phoenix for the next 7 weeks. I’m on a little bit of a vacation for the next few days visiting my friend Mandie, then teaching/directing/choreographing in Portland, then off to Maui for my (late) honeymoon. Whew. Can you imagine packing for that many things at once? It was a little ridiculous. Even Clementine thought so.

“Mom. I think you’re forgetting something. If you don’t pack me, who will run circles around your neck and nibble on your nose all summer? Huhhhh???”

It’s definitely going to be a challenge to be away from Steve for the next 6 weeks. Before I left, he took me on the best date ever. This guy. He is amazing. It started out with my first trip ever to the baking supply store!

Then dinner at Bandera.

They have the bessssst cornbread!

Yummmmm.

Baking store and bread? Clearly, he know the way to my heart. ;)

I arrived in Ashland late last night, and pretty much went straight to bed. I can’t stay with Mandie because she has a cat, but she put me up in a super cute hotel down town! It kind of reminds me of a fancier hostel. There’s a shared bathroom, but private rooms, and the rooms are super cute and homey looking.

I woke up bright and early this morning. Of course. Why would my body ever possibly let me sleep in? Actually, it wasn’t bad, though. I looked at my phone, and it read 52 degrees, and I looked outside and saw clouds, and felt a beautiful breeze. I couldn’t wait to get outside, get my workout in, and explore the city! Today is the first official day of my marathon training. I had high hopes that my body would be like “OMG marathon training!! ALL BETTER!! Run all you want, Ari!” You can call me silly, but I prefer idealistic ;)

The truth is, running still hurts. Almost immediately. But it’s okay. I had surgery less than 2 weeks ago, and as much as I would love to wear a cape and stuff, I’m not super woman. The good news is it’s so early that this won’t set me back, and the mileage is really low, so I can walk my training plan until I’m back to normal. I actually forgot how great walking can be! I walked around downtown Ashland before finding Lithia Park that Mandie had mentioned to me when we drove in last night.

This park was absolutely gorgeous!! I really wished I had brought my camera with me, and not just my phone. I will definitely have to go back before I leave. I did manage to capture a bit of it on the android, though.

This beautiful creek runs all the way through the park, and there are tons of benches, and places to sit, as well as little paths down to the water. If I lived here, I would be here every day. The road started off paved, then turned into a trail.

I just kept walking, and let myself kind of get lost in there. I had been so excited to get out this morning, I hadn’t even thought to grab my ipod, and I ended up being really glad to be out there without it, and just be with nature. I saw lots of other walkers, a few runners (jealous face), and even some people doing yoga! Everyone was super friendly. In fact, I am kind of obsessed with this town. If I never make it back to Phoenix, you know why…

I have this thing for water. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the desert.

And the coolest part? I saw DEER!!!!!

I was walking by, and I heard rustling. The next thing I knew I was 3 feet away from these deer, staring them in the face. They weren’t the least bit frightened of me. How cool!!! Speaking of, I don’t know if I ever mentioned the time Nicole and I went on a driving adventure in Tempe, and saw a zebra in someone’s back yard?

Not quite as cool as the deer, but definitely interesting, haha. Can you imagine owning a zebra? Anyway, now I’m sitting at Starbucks enjoying some hot coffee.

Ohhh, how I’ve missed you. Grande bold coffee, 2 pumps sf mocha, 1 pump sf caramel, steamed soy.

Also, I have some really exciting news! A couple of weeks ago, I finally did something that I’ve wanted to do for quite some time, and I applied to be a FitFluential ambassador. I never thought in a million years that I would be accepted, but last night I received an email inviting me to join the team, and I am BEYOND thrilled!!! What an amazing opportunity to be a part of a community I value so highly with other bloggers that I admire. I am a lucky gal!

 

On The Road

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Hello friends! I am posting en route to Prescott. For those of you that aren’t from Arizona, Prescott is about 2 hours north of Phoenix, so I packed up my favorite guy, and my favorite puppies, and we are off for a little 24 hour adventure to get out of the heat. Oh, and you know, so Lisa and I can run up a mountain and sing colors of the wind.

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Steve is driving. I’m enjoying frappuccino happy hour with a chai frappuccino light. Clementine is barking at Winston because he won’t play with her, and Winston is pretending he’s deaf. Or giving her the silent treatment. You decide. Now Steve is howling at Clementine and Winston is scared. I’m also icing my achilles tendons. It’s all incredibly exciting. Wish you were here!

Talk to you later, if I don’t die on the mountain!

Mostly Happy Things

Yes, Winston is laying directly on top of Clementine. He is so rude!

Hi friends, happy weekend! The past few days have been filled with lots of things. Mostly happy things. And a few annoying things. I’ve been posting lots of recipes lately, and I kinda miss the whole writing about little things in my life just because they’re important to me thing, so that’s what I’m going to do today. :)

Annoying Things:

There are less of these and they’re less fun. Let’s get them out of the way first. shall we?

  1. Yesterday, Steve, Dan and I set out for a 30 mile bike loop this morning. Around mile 10, Steve got a flat that he fixed, then broke the new tube, then patched. At mile 15, his tire went flat again. I was the only one that had their phone, so we called my step dad (Thanks Hank!! You’re awesome!!) to come get him, and Dan and I set back to finish the loop. At mile 25ish, I got a flat tire. No joke. Dan went back to the house, and Hank came back to get me too. It was not so fun, but it could have been a lot worse. I have a whole list of people that would come rescue me in an emergency, so I’m just gonna try to count my blessings.
  2. Friday I had to stop and use the bathroom mid run at this really sketchy dry cleaners. The toilet had no lid and no flusher, so I had to reach into the open top to flush, but then there wasn’t enough water and so I had to use the hose that went into the toilet. The whole thing was so odd.
  3. The fro yo place is not open at 9:30 am. In fact, they don’t open until 11am. Now, if you ask me, that is just ridiculous.

Happy Things:
So many happy things! It’s been a pretty great week, in fact!

  1. I got some really great news from my amazing friend Emily that totally blew me away. I feel so honored and lucky to be working in such a supportive environment with some truly amazing friends.
  2. I got all of my fundraising letter sent out! I’m still waiting on some addresses (by the way if I asked for your address and you thought you were getting a super awesome present, I’m sorry about that…), and I have a lot of work to do in terms of getting business donations, but I spent hours (with the help, of course, of my super amazing husband) writing, addressing, labeling, stamping, and stuffing envelopes. I actually kind of enjoyed the whole process. Don’t forget, if you’d like to donate, you can visit my page here :)
  3. I found out I won’t be running alone for those 4.5 hours. I can’t say more than that until a very special person gives her own news, but I am beyond excited!
  4. I had a super awesome taper week “long” run with Stacey on Friday! She did a legit long run, and accomplished her first double digit run at a pretty quick pace! I love running with her, and I am so proud of her! PS, she is running her first half marathon next Sunday. Be sure to head over to her blog and wish her good luck!
  5. I ran with Jason on Monday while he accomplished a new PDR of 5 miles! Remember back in February when our runs consisted of a max running time of 3 minutes before taking a walk break? Now he runs 5 miles with no breaks. Think you can’t run? This guy’s progress could inspire anyone to get out there and give it a shot! 3 minutes to 5 miles in 2 months? Ummm, OKAY!
  6. Monday is Hermano’s birthday! He’s turning 15, and is kinda my favorite person on Earth. This also means he is only one year away from being able to drive me around all the time. It’s going to be awesome. “Hermano, take me to the store.” “Hermano, bring me some Dutch Brothers!” We celebrated yesterday. I’ll be writing about it soon.
  7. Last night I went to a fancy gaala! I drank wine, ate food, and pretended I was rich enough to bid on items. Molly and I really wanted the pop corn machine, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. My favorite part was that they described it as “A popping good time!” Yes, I would like a popping good time. How did you know??
  8. MY BFFFF Heather got my subscription to Eating Well magazinefor the holidays/my birthday/running, and the first one came in the mail this week! Thanks Heath!!! Love you!!
  9. I got 3 walks in with the duckies this week with Nicole and Kara. Duck lake is especially pretty these days. It looks like fall and there are all sorts of purple leaves:

    DUCKIES!!!!


  10. This happened:

    Yes, Winston is laying directly on top of Clementine. He is so rude!

  11. Friday I went to work and received these:

    My favorite part is where she writes "Don't worry if you cry. I actually cried too." Obviously these kids know me well, and just how sentimental I am. I totally cried.

Now if that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t even know what to tell you!

What made you happy this week??

Steve’s Birthday Dinner @ Switch

Look! It even comes with a blackberry inside! It was super cute, and even more delicious!

After returning from an awesome weekend up north, I tried to pretend I had nothing else up my sleeve and all birthday surprises were finished. Well I don’t think Steve was super surprised when we arrived to dinner and our friends and family were there waiting. He knows me too well. We arrived at Switch

and met up with Steve’s mom & sister, my mom, Hank, Charlie, my dad, Hermano, Jason & Nacho, Nicole & Lance. Switch is a restaurant and wine bar, and Jason and Nacho had already polished off a bottle of wine before we got there, so I went ahead and ordered myself a delicious glass of pinot grigio.

Then I had total drink envy when Nicole ordered this delicious blackberry cocktail, so i ordered one too. Then I spilled it before I even got to take a sip. I’m awesomely coordinated. But the nice server brought me another one!

Look! It even comes with a blackberry inside! It was super cute, and even more delicious! Also, that photo is of Nicole's drink. I did not drink my wine and that drink at the same time. Not that I wouldn't do that, but I didn't on this particular occasion ;)

We all had an amazing time chatting and hanging out while we waited for our food.

I hate this picture, but there were not a lot of people pictures from the evening, so I'm posting it. My chin looks the size of Texas, and my face looks oddly misshapen. Weird. Hermano looks great though! He finally got a hair cut and so now he can see. It's awesome. Also, slightly less Beiber-like, yes? Which could be a good or a bad thing depending how you look at it...

Nacho is so classy. You should take him to all your fine dining events.

Lance and Nicole

Then the food came, and oh my goodness, it was sooooo yummmmmy!

Yes, those are sweet potato fries. My favorite thing in life. And somehow I'm surprised that I weighed like 10 pounds more after this weekend. I have no idea how that happened.

Steve's birthday burger. I tasted this one too. And still I don't like ground beef, but you know what I do like? Blue cheese. I could eat it plain. In fact, when I was a kid, I used to eat it plain all the time and then my hands would smell really gross like moldy cheese. It was so cute. You're welcome, mom!

This was Nicole's dinner. I forget what it was called, but I can tell you that the flaky bread part was a little like heaven on earth.

Then they brought out dessert with a candle! In fact, they brought out two because we told them Nicole’s birthday was coming up too.

Like pizookie. Yummmmm.

This was super good, but it did not compare to the cupcakes they wouldn’t let me bring in. What’s up with that trendy Phoenix restaurants? I do not prefer this rule.

Hank got this blueberry vanilla bean bread putting thing which put anything I’ve ever created to shame. Maybe that’s bad plugging for my blog to say their food was better? But seriously, this bread pudding was probably made up of sticks of butter and heavy cream and it was incredible. In fact, every single thing I tasted, I absolutely loved. I would most definitely return to Switch again, and again, and again!

We all had a great time and it was the perfect end to a pretty perfect weekend.
Switch Restaurant & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Steve’s 31st Birthday Getaway

"SURPRISE!!!!! It's your birthday!!!!"

In case you didn’t notice by the return of actually good photography, Steve is finally back from LA!! Hooray!!! Just one week after he got back, it was already time to celebrate his birthday! He was awesome and decided to be born on Easter weekend which meant I actually had the whole weekend off to spend with him! That never happens, so I decided to take advantage of it, and I got in touch with my friend/best realtor ever, Kathy, and asked about renting the weekend at her cabin in Heber/Overgaard.

Friday afternoon, I sneakily packed our bags, got the puppies and asked Steve if we could go take pictures on a mountain. It was the best cover up ever. I should be in the CIA or something because I am the best at being sneaky and keeping secrets. He didn’t figure out where we were going until we were almost to Fountain Hills, so I couldn’t have done that bad! We decided to stop in Payson for dinner. I looked on yelp, and found the Buffalo Bar and Grill.

"SURPRISE!!!!! It's your birthday!!!!"

I absolutely loved this little place. They didn’t typically allow dogs, but they let us sit outside with Winston and Clementine, and then even brought them water! The food was delicious too. Steve got a green chile burger.

That potato salad was super delish. I always try his burgers and never really like the taste of ground beef, yet I keep tasting it...? I'm weird.

I got a grilled chicken sandwich with buffalo sauce…my faaaavorite. YUM. And my fav guilty pleasure–SWEET POTATO FRIES!!!

Running is worth it when sweet potato fries come at the end of the day.

"OMG, I find this food more almost as exciting as your birth!!!!"

As you can see from this picture, I am super classy and attractive. It’s obvious why Steve married me.

By the time we got to the cabin, it was pretty late (for us old people) so we hung out for a bit, then went to bed pretty early. The next morning we woke up at the ridiculous hour of 6am because we are incapable of sleeping in. We hung around for a bit with the puppies.

"Mom, it's 6am. This is ridiculous."

"Boy, that walk from the bedroom to the couch really wore me out! I think now is a great time for a nap."

I discovered the waffle maker and it was love at first waffle!

Why have I NEVER made waffles before?!?!?! And why do I not own one of this incredible contraptions that creates the waffles?! This is a serious problem.

Ummm, as soon as we got back on Sunday, I bought a waffle maker. Stay tuned for a whole slew of waffle recipes.

While I was discovering waffle amazingness, Clementine was discovering stairs.

"Okay, I made it up here, but how the heck do I get back down?!?!"

Have you ever watched a mini dachshund climb up and down stairs?? It’s pretty funny. Her legs are so short, and her body is so long! She definitely took a spill or two.

"Stairs aint got nothin' on me!"

"Yes mom, I'm long and cute and you get no credit for that. Even though we have the same body type (long body, short legs, big butt), you do not receive credit for my super cuteness."

Clementine has so much attitude. I am totally responsible for her cuteness. I mean, where else would she learn this?

I roll around on the carpet daily. Clementine tries to copy. Whatever. I started it.

After hanging out for a bit, we decided to go down to Payson. There’s pretty much nothing to do in Overgaard, so we went in search of something fun, and of course, coffee. Yelp took us to a place called Scoops which had coffee and ice cream. My two favorite things!

I asked the barista what he suggested for something fun to do in the area and he suggested a hike along Tonto Creek. Neither of us were really dressed for hiking, but we decided to head over and at least check out a little bit of it, and I was really glad we did! It was really easy and mostly flat. More like a nice walk along the creek than a hike. Winston and Clementine got to experience nature beyond the dog park!

On the way back to Overgaard, we stopped at a lookout on the 270.

Oh my gosh...TREES! We don't have those in Phoenix. Only the prickly kind.

They are so foreign, we must take pictures in case we can't remember what they look like when we get back to Phoenix!

The birthday boy. I like him ;)

We picked up some things for dinner, a couple movies from the red box, and stayed in for the night. I made a super impressive dinner that included hot dogs and a can of baked beans. I hate the name of this dish, so I refuse to use it, but Steve loves it and is always going on about it, so I made it for him. Plus some asparagus to pretend like I actually do eat healthy.

Totally does not look cute, but I have to admit, it was pretty yummy. I'll have to try it again, and make the beans myself and use turkey dogs instead of beef. Slim pickins up at the Overgaard market.

We tried a new beer I picked up from Whole Foods.

Yummmm. I would definitely buy this again!

Then we watched Like Crazy (I don’t really have an opinion–didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. It happened, I guess.) and Carnage which I LOVED. I know friends of mine who have seen/read the play, didn’t love the movie, but I still haven’t seen it, and I thought it was hilarious. Jodie Foster was a total nut and I loved every second of it. I can’t wait until I have the opportunity to see a professional theatre production!

And that was pretty much it. We’re kind of boring people, but we loved it and had a great time, and headed back pretty early Sunday morning for some more festivities that night.

Special thanks to Kathy for renting our her amazing cabin!! If you live in Arizona or you want to come out this way and are interested in getting away from the city for a bit, I highly recommend it! The cabin has 3 bedrooms, a full kitchen with cooking equipment (like WAFFLE MAKERS!), a gorgeous rustic feel, and lots more! I can’t wait until we are able to return!

 

Lisa & Sam’s Wedding Reception

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Remember my super awesome speedy friend Lisa that I registered for The Lost Dutchman as her wedding gift? Well her wedding was very small. So small in fact that no one was invited. Lisa and Sam were engaged and before they knew it, they were driving to the courthouse to elope! Super romantic. Lisa’s mom wanted to throw them a reception so that we could all celebrate their happiness, and on March 17th, Steve and I attended Lisa and Sam’s wedding reception.

I’ve known Lisa a long time. Since my sohpmore year of high school. I’ve seen her with a lot of different guys, and let me tell you, not a single one of them compares to Sam. He is so kind, and warm, and creates the perfect calm to her big and bubbly personality. Obviously we’re nothing alike. It was truly amazing getting to celebrate such a happy moment in her life, and just seeing my friend absolutely glowing. I also got to see a few ladies from high school that I hadn’t seen in what feels like an eternity!

Margaret, Lisa & Me. The three of us were pretty much inseparable junior year, but I haven't seen Maragret in entirely too long.

It was also great to see Lisa’s mom. I’ve always really liked her, and look how great she looks!

Ummm, Sandy, you look fabulous. I need your skin care regiment ASAP.

Sam’s parents were super nice! They came around and introduced themselves to everyone, and when I introduced myself they knew right away that I was the one that ran with Lisa, and they congratulated me on our time! So sweet! Look at this happy mama and her son!

Lisa and Sam seemed to be having a blast. Sometimes I feel like weddings get so stressful that the couple isn’t able to really enjoy themselves, so it was nice to see them having fun!

Also, can we talk about how freaking incredible Lisa looks?! Her hair, her dress…she just looked absolutely stunning. After some toasts, they did some special dances–father daughter, mother son, and then look at these two on the dance floor! Prepare for a montage that borders on creepy.

They just look so great together!

Their dancing pictures were my favorite, so I couldn’t choose and ended up posting about 100. Sorry about that…

They look so happy! I was totally an emotional hot mess trying really hard not to cry. People don’t generally cry at receptions. I was just so happy for them. And I’m a sap.

My favorite.

Runner up.

I even got on the dance floor for a little bit. Usually I have to be pretty tipsy for that to happen….

....because I look like this.

Steve and I had a great time! I’m so glad that it worked out on the weekend he was in town!

And my beautiful friend, I could not be more happy for you, and I don’t think you could have chosen a more perfect partner.

I love love!

Our First Wedding Anniversary

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I have to admit, having celebrated 7 date-a-versaries before we finally tied the knot, I was not super excited about the idea of starting over at 1. In fact, I asked Steve on several occasions if we could just keep going. As of January, we’ve technically been together for 8 years, so couldn’t this be anniversary 8.1? Well, I surprised myself and ended up totally little girl giddy about celebrating our first anniversary. Turns out it’s kind of fun to start over :)

Steve was able to make a short trip home for the weekend, so that we could celebrate together. We began Sunday morning by heading over to Inside the Bungalow, where we got married. When not being used for weddings, it’s actually a super cute coffee shop. Unfortunately they were closed, so we moved on right away. We went to Cartel to get coffee because so many of our friends have been raving about it.

Any place with foam designs wins my heart.

And they don't mess around with their cappuccinos!

The coffee was great, but the atmosphere wasn’t really my thing. Too much snobby hipster, if that makes sense.

Before we knew it, it was time for work (Yes, I worked on my anniversary…on a Sunday. Sometimes my life is not ideal). Steve drove up to Scottsdale with me, then spent some time with his mom while I was in rehearsal. Once I was finished, we shopped around some furniture store lusting after all sorts of things we would love to buy, then headed to White Chocolate Grill for dinner. That’s where he proposed almost 2 years ago :) We didn’t even bring the camera in, just enjoyed being there together. It was perfect.

After dinner, we came home for the moment we’d been waiting for–the cake!!! Did you know it’s tradition to freeze the top tier of your wedding cake and eat it on your first anniversary??

Is it also tradition to remove the flowers first? Because opening up a box and seeing dead flowers definitely did not enhance my appetite.

I’d actually never heard of this until we were in the planning stage, but I thought it sounded interesting, so that thing has been sitting in our freezer for a year.

We cut out a huge slice from the middle to sample.

  

"What does year old cake taste like?"

"Who cares?!?! I LOVE CAKE!!!! I will take sugar and carbs of any age please."

The result? Not great. Not terrible. The cake part tasted better than the frosting, but it definitely did not taste….fresh. I was surprised at how soft and fluffy the cake still was, but we definitely did not finish our piece, or what was left.

Steve is all present-ed out until Christmas (this past Christmas, his macro lens counted as Christmas and birthday, and I got him the balance on his bike after his 3 year old gift card to get his bike as his early anniversary present), so all I had to do was get him a card, but he surprised me with an amazing gift!

This isn’t just a photo album.

Yes, you are allowed to make fun of our ridiculously dorky nick names for each other. It's okay. I can take it.

We both really loved the movie Up, and when we were in Disneyland, I got him the grape soda pin, and now he got my an adventure book. It starts with a couple pictures from the wedding, and one from Boston with the note that this is just the beginning of our journey. Yeah, I cried. I love him. And I love this gift enough to post this picture even though I’m pretty embarrassed to admit to everyone on the internet that in real life I call him Loey and he calls me Loette. We’re special.

Unfortunately, before we knew it, it was time for me to take him to the airport :( He’ll be back for good in two weeks though, so we’re more than half way through! Hooray!! I’m just really glad we still got to spend our anniversary together. Regardless of how busy or rushed the weekend felt, it was still pretty amazing, and we have many more down the line to look forward to.

Did you/would you eat your wedding cake a year later??