Friday, October 17, 2014

We Can Be Royal

There has been so much AMAZING happening in the last week, I can barely handle all of it. Let's just get to it, because I'm beside myself with excitement.

This week's highlights:

1. In an *EIGHT GAME SWEEP* the Royals clenched the ALCS title - we're headed to the World Series, baby!
It's been so awesome watching the boys in blue this post season.
Check out this most fantastic parody of Lorde's Royals - all my KC Royals loving peeps will appreciate it immensely.

2. Wait. What?! Is this real life?!!
As we watched the Giants punch their ticket to the World Series Scott and I knew this was a once in a life time thing. So, we did what any sane couple with a child, and no easily accessible overnight/weekend child care would do (also known as, no family within 1500 miles), we secured tickets to Game 4 of the Series.

3. Not to be overshadowed by baseball, Scott and I are headed to San Diego this weekend to watch the Chiefs play the Chargers.
2011 - a tiny little Marcus is hiding snugly underneath my Chiefs shirt. :)
Last time we saw the Chiefs just so happened to be at Qualcomm in 2011, Chargers won 20-17. Let's hope this go-around the Chiefs have a more favorable outcome!

4. In non-Kansas City sports related news… This little fella has become my new best friend, and most recent obsession.
The Jawbone: a bracelet like device that tracks number of steps taken and sleep patterns.
Number of steps taken. Sleep pattern. Quick break down. Checking in consistently.
 I love checking out my stats multiple times a day. I'm such a nerd.

5. I'm running my miles Red.
Nike+ has teamed up with Bank of America. For each mile run forty cents is donated to the global fund to fight AIDS. Just another reason to love running. My miles are doing good for more than just me. If you use the Nike+ app I strongly encourage you to take the pledge. It costs nothing, and simply requires you to log into your account, and the miles are tracked automatically. To make your pledge, and start making your miles count for more, head HERE!

Phew - so much awesome all rolled into one!
Hope you have a great weekend!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Some Fall Swag

Before Fall really got under way a few ladies and myself teamed up to co-host a bloggers swag swap. If there's anything I love as much as the season itself, it's getting to know other blogging ladies, and a box of goodies sent to and from each other.

I've participated in a few swaps like this before, and each swap has been a great. This experience was a fabulous as each prior experience.

D was my partner, and she and I really hit if off via email correspondence. We have no less than 14 emails back and forth. I've also enjoyed following along on her blog and fitness journey. To check our her story head over to a different d.

Moving along to the awesome goodies D sent…
The wrapping right at the get go was awesome. One of my favorite things about gift giving is presentation. It was fun to see D enjoys gift presentation as much as me.

Each of the items was individually wrapped with a cute little note attached to each.

As I opened each I got little goosebumps. It was like D has known me for years and picked out the perfect things to send my way.
A closer look at D's favorite fall things, which just so happen to be some of my favorite things, too!

A pumpkin grow kit for Marcus and me to try out! I'm no green thumb, but if I can pull this off I think I'll become a saint in Marcus' eyes (he's developed quiet the little love affair with pumpkins lately).

THIS delicious smelling candle. Oh my gosh, it's heavenly. I opened it and immediately the room was full of this sweet aroma. It's my new favorite scent.

I'm sort of slightly obsessed with notebooks, note pads, what have you. This is easily the cutest notebook in my collection. And, I love how D pointed out the pink, and to support breast cancer, especially during the month of October.

Outkast! They're from the ATL (which is where D is from - showing some hometown pride), and though D may not know it, they are one of my favorites! I have so many great memories from college that had Outkast blasting in the background.

Football, representing! So long as the Falcons aren't playing the Chiefs I'll be cheering the Falcons on!

D, I can't thank you enough for the sweet and thoughtful gifts that you picked out. Everything is just perfect.
To the ladies who helped co-host this, thank you! It's was such a successful swap, I hope we can do it again next season!
Candra - Camo and Lipstick
Desirée - Macke Monologues 
Shelli - Beauty and the Baseball Coach
Erin - Homemade Happenings
To all the ladies who participated in the swap this year, thank you, too! I hope your experience was as fabulous as the season of fall itself!

If you participated in the swag swap be sure to link up with us (linky below)!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Banana Nut Mini Muffins

I don't want to jinx it, but I think Fall is slowly, slowly, slowly making it's way into our area. The temperatures are finally dipping below 80º. Once the thermostat drops that low I take the opportunity to jump right into the kitchen and get my bake on.

When I was going through my inventory of baking items I noticed an abundance of stockpiled frozen bananas (when bananas start to turn brown I freeze them if I know I'm not immediately going to bake with them). I also saw a collection of apples that needed to be used up.

While piecing together what I had, I also wanted to keep in mind Marcus, his insanely picky palate, and how he'll eat almost anything if you tell him it's a muffin or cupcake.

With all of the aforementioned things combined these mini muffins were born. Because of the use of yogurt and banana they have a bit of a spongy texture, and the apple and banana flavors are complimented really well with the spices.

These didn't last long in our house. After the first bite Marcus was hooked, and each morning Marcus insisted on his muffins for breakfast.

Apple Cinnamon Banana Nut Mini Muffins
Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Total: 35 minutes
Yields approximately 20 mini muffins
Muffins:
1/2 cup packed coarsely grated apple (pick your favorite baking apple, I used Braeburn), leave skin on
1/2 cup super-ripe banana (equals out to about one medium banana)
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp coconut oil (or your favorite healthy oil)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup vanilla and honey Greek yogurt (plain Greek yogurt or milk would also work well)

Streusel topping:
1/4 heaping cup of finely chopped/minced pecans (or walnuts)
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp cold butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp coconut oil (or your favorite oil)
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350º
1. Allow cold ingredients (yogurt/milk, eggs) to reach room temperature.
2. Coarsely grate apple (a cheese grate works well), and mash banana.
3. Add both fruits to a skillet, along with coconut oil, honey, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Stir and sauté on medium heat until tender. Your house will smell divine.
4. Remove fruits and spices mix from stove and allow to cool to room temp.
5. Meanwhile, mince pecans until super fine, and combine nuts with the rest of the streusel ingredients.
6. Mix with a fork or your fingers, and taste as you go to ensure the mixture tastes to your liking.
7. Streusel should be crumbly and buttery.
8. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl; stir well to incorporate.
9. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, yogurt, and vanilla. Add the cooled sautéed fruit and spices mixture.
10. Using a sifter (I just used a slotted spoon), slowly sift flour into wet mixture, and combine the two. Stir until just combined.
11. Spoon batter heartily into greased mini muffin tins.
12. Top with desired amount of streusel.
13. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Test with a toothpick in the center of muffins around the 10 minute mark. If toothpick comes out clean, remove muffins from oven; otherwise, test again every few minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
14. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Pumpkin Patch // Fall Bucket List

With a convenient three-day weekend built right in to this past weekend I figured we would take full advantage of our free Monday and head to the only legit pumpkin patch in the area. I thought the place would be pretty quiet, considering Columbus Day isn't the most widely celebrated holiday. Totally wrong. We were dodging different school groups all morning. So that was fun…

Our first must-do was a wagon ride around the farm. Marcus, in his stoic little ways, sat perfectly still, refused to crack a smile, but when asked if he was having fun would reply, "Uh-huh." 
Our wagon ride dropped us off at a small petting zoo, where I refused to pay to touch goats and sheep. I'm from Iowa. We don't pay to touch animals. Where I'm from, if you don't live on a farm, but want the experience, you go to a friend's farm and they'll let you touch all the animals you want. They'll probably even ask you to do chores if you stick around long enough. Plus, Marcus had no idea that he could actually get inside the pen, so it was a win-win for everyone.

Next up was the corn maze, otherwise known as a walking path to the coveted red flag, which means you've completed said maze. 
Marcus' favorite part of the maze was trying to run away from us (refer to far left photo above), giving me the "stop taking photos" pose (see center photo above), and breaking the leaves off the stalks and dragging them in the dirt (see far right photo above).
Conqueror of the maze!
Then it was time for the grand event: picking out our pumpkins!
Marcus thought EVERY pumpkin was the perfect pumpkin. He picked up no fewer than 20 pumpkins, and wanted to keep them all. Naturally. 

Marcus climbed a mountain of pumpkins, and was very proud of this accomplishment.

We captured a few Daddy/Marcus, Mommy/Marcus photos.
And, some poor soul was even willing to take my "good" camera and snap a family photo for us.

We managed to capture some decent smiles from Marcus. But don't let that fool you. It was hot, Marcus wanted nothing to do with the camera, and we were battling throngs school aged children whom I'm certain were all hopped up on sugar, and all acting like crazed monkeys.

As much as I want to LOVE pumpkin patches, because the idea of them is awesome, I have to be totally honest… It's not my favorite fall activity. We'll repeat the experience until Marcus tells us he's not in to it, because who am I to deny him the chance to pick his very own perfect pumpkin? But, I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't be content with just grabbing our pumpkins from the local grocery store and calling it a day. Sorry to all my pumpkin patch loving peeps, don't hate me, unfriend me, unfollow me for my confessions!
Even though Marcus didn't want to listen to a single thing we instructed, I'm pretty sure my little man had a good time, and we were able to successfully check another item off our Fall Bucket List.

Just for fun, here's our obligatory pumpkin patch photo comparison from the past three falls.
Apparently wearing yellow is my thing for pumpkin patches…
Now tell me, am I the only one in the world who isn't over-the-moon in love with pumpkin patches?
While we're in the sharing mood, what have you been checking off your Fall Bucket List? Be sure to link up below and let my co-hosts and me know what fun you've been having!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Marcus Monday!

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue…
Six hundred and some odd years later, this little boy who is just over two…
Loves this country, the sand and the ocean, through and through. 

Happy Columbus Day!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Just Another Week in the Books

This week, while uneventful, and smooth sailing - as far as toddlers go - has also been sans Scott. He's  been gone most of the week with a work training, and we haven't seen too much of him. Marcus and I are both ready for this training to wrap up so we can all return to our regularly scheduled programming.

While we wait for our three-day weekend to get underway (thanks, Columbus Day!), let's  highlight this weeks top five, shall we?

1. Still not Fall here.
We've obviously made a beach trip to mute our autumn weather woes. I mean, if we can't cozy up with soups and hot cocoa we'll take the waves. Can you see the rainbow that was created from the mist of the waves? I'm pretty sure I took at least 57 photos of the waves because they were so awesome.

2.  This guy.
We've been making several trips to the park lately and we have been bringing Drake with us. I forgot how great it is to blow steam from both the toddler and the fur-child. Naps for everyone!

3. Awhile back I painted the inside of our toy closet with chalk paint. Best idea ever.
Someone obviously enjoys it. Clothing optional, per the norm.

4. Snail mail.
What's better than opening your mail box to find a sweet surprise? Not much. One of my favorite ladies, Stephanie, was too sweet and sent this my way. She knows the way to my heart: a hilarious read and band aids to keep my abused runner's feet from getting too torn up.

5. This is happening this weekend.
We're headed to the pumpkin patch this weekend. Whoop whoop! Just look at how little Marcus seems in that photo! How has a whole year passed already?

That's a wrap. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I Need Accountability & A Finish Line

I've started, stopped, and edited this post about 30 times. I'm not quite sure what I want to say, or where I want to go with it. I just know I need to put it out there, if for no one else but for myself - a reminder of sorts…

After the #djv5k race (which was almost an entire month ago!) I allowed myself to get incredibly lazy with my workouts and my running. With no race, so to speak of, and no goal of a finish line, I just kind of went through the motions of running. And, running very few miles, might I add. 
'Short' runs of 5-6 miles suddenly turned into a measly 2-3 miles, and 'long' runs were now merely 4-5 miles. Crossing training, strength training, and weights were all but lost. And, dammit, wouldn't you know it, suddenly my clothes weren't fitting like I wanted, and what I saw in the mirror was something I was none too thrilled about.

I had grown complacent.    
Two weeks ago I (finally!) got my crap together, pulled the trigger, and signed up for a half marathon. This will only be the second one I've run this year. Usually by this late in the year I have no less than three halves under my belt. What.the.hell.Desirée.

I signed up pretty late in the game. Only six weeks out from race day. But, it's exactly the push I need. I'm not too sure what my finish time will be. Shoot, I'm not even sure what my goal will be. But, I'll run that sucker, and I'll finish it, come hell or high water. 
I NEED a finish line to push me, to motivate me, to keep me going. I NEED a finish line to hold me accountable. 

If you have ever thought about giving this whole running thing a go my biggest piece of advice would be to Sign.Up.For.A.Race! Not too many things can motivate you like something you've paid to do. I mean, you wouldn't pay to go see a movie, and then not see the movie, would you? Same thing applies for registering for a run. And seriously, you will be surprised at how much motivation crossing a finish line will give you.

To check out road races near you, click >> here << it's my go-to for races and events.

For those of you who do run on the reg, what do you do to keep yourself motivated between races?

So there, to the future me who is struggling with her workouts and running - GO, NOW! SIGN UP FOR A RUN!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Some Sunshine

I'm not sure how sunny it is where you live, but here it has been cloudless skies and sun rays a-blazing. It sounds all fine and dandy until you take a look at the calendar and see it's OCTOBER EIGHTH. Give me all the scarves and sweaters and cute boots. But, nope. I'm still rocking my tanks and shorts like it's July. Over. It.

To boost the mood, and spread a little sunshine, even when I just want a few clouds, Tayler from The Morrell Tale kindly nominated me for the Sunshine Award. Tayler is a new momma to the sweetest and cutest little man, Rhys. Be sure to stop by, say hi to her, and get lost in her little man's gorgeous blue eyes.

On to the award. Have you heard of it? It's just the kind of thing I love. It's essentially a way to spread positivity, encouraging words, and in general just a fun way to knock out a few Q & As. Totally my jam right here.
Moving onward to Tayler's questions:

Who is your blogging crush? That's a reeeeally hard one to answer. There are so many great bloggers that I read on the daily. In the past few years all those daily reads, comments, and email correspondence have created real friendships. Here is (more than) a handful of my daily must-reads:
Dear Dad // my cousin Laura checks in from time to time on her blog, talking about life with two kids and a full time job as a teacher. She keeps it really real, and I love her all the more for it.
Midwest Pillowtalk // this girl Sarah - I heart her forever and ever. And, let's just talk about her little boy Crue. Swoon.
Our Journey // this other girl, Sarah - I knew her in real life before I knew about her blog. She has two of the cutest kids in all the land. I wish we lived closer. I could see us with lots of wine nights and play dates (not necessarily in that order).
The Martin's and the Marines // Kourtney worked for me once upon a time. Now she's all grown up, married, has one of the most adorable little boys, and is expecting a little girl. Her tales of life as a military wife, and her photography, always keep me captivated.
Wife Mommy Me // Stephanie and I haven't met in real life. But that's about to change in November. We share so many common interests, and I just know we're going to get along fabulously.

What does your name mean and do you like your name? I think this question applies to my actual name, not my blogging name. My name - Desirée - is French and is pronounced dehZ-ih-rEY. Its literal translation is "longing" or "desire". Before I was born my parents had a baby girl who was born with Potter's Syndrome, and passed away one day after she was born. When my parents were deciding on names for me they found it fitting to give me a name that meant I was a child they were longing for. I truly do like my name, there's a deep meaning behind it.

What is the last book you read? A Broken Us, by my best friend for life, Amy Daws. If you're looking for a great, easy read, pick this one up!

Where would you love to live? Home = Kansas City. Or Colorado. Either would be just fine.

What is your dream vacation? Pack me up and ship me off to Europe. Specifically, Ireland and the Netherlands, throw in England for good measure.

What [blogging] post are you most proud of? This one >> Baring it All. If you're a new mom, a veteran mom, or still pregnant, give it a quick read. It's a good reminder to get out from behind the camera and get in front of the lens to take pictures WITH your kiddos.

What has been the happiest moment of the year so far? Another difficult one… But, probably a potty trained Marcus. Words cannot accurately describe how magnificent it has been to NOT buy diapers.

What are some things on your Fall Bucket List? Funny thing, we've been steadily checking off items from our Fall Bucket List like champs. Apple picking. Baking Pumpkin Muffies. Attending a post season baseball game. We also have 5,000 lit jack-o-lanterns to see, a pumpkin patch to visit, a football game to take in, and oh-so much more! Isn't this season awesome?

Where are all the places you have lived? Until moving to Los Angeles I never ventured too far from home.
"Home" was Estherville, IA 1983-1993 (for fun, go look up their school mascot - I can't make this stuff up);
Denison, IA 1993-2002;
Ames, IA 2002-2006;
Kansas City 2006-2010;
Los Angeles 2010-present.

Would you rather travel into the future or the past? Probably the past. I'd love to tell the younger Desirée to love her self a little more.

What do you do on a rainy day? I wouldn't even know where to being. It's been so long since we've had a rainy day. The last time we had a real rainy day we threw on our goulashes, our rain coats, grabbed an umbrella, and played in the puddles. It.was.awesome.

It's time to pass a little sunshine along…
Abby // Is This How Parenting Works?
Angie // Mean Ang
Angie // The Places You Will Go
Beth // Our Pretty Little Girls
Courtney // Sweet Turtle Soup
Elizabeth // Chasin' Mason
Erin // Homemade Happenings
Kourtney // The Martin's and the Marines
Rachel // Running in NJ
Stephanie // Wife Mommy Me

If you don't see you name, no worries, you're still nominated.

Ladies, if you would, kindly answer my questions in your own post. Then send the sunshine on with your own nominees and your own questions.

My questions for you:
1. For purely selfish reasons, what is your favorite go-to dinner dish? I've long since run out of new, easy, good recipes, and looking to add to our weekly staple rotation!
2. When someone asks for a book recommendation, what is the one book you always suggest?
3. Name a talent you have that others probably don't know about.
4. Sunsets or sunrises?
5. The best way to unwind after a long day is…
6. Any guilty pleasures?
7. What is a character trait you hope people associate with you?
8. Favorite words to live by?
9. If you could go to dinner with any one person (alive or deceased) who would it be, and what are two questions you would be sure to ask them?
10. The last concert you attended that you insist others must see, too.
11. Your favorite blog post - be it yours, or a post written by someone else.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Post Season // Fall Bucket List

My entire life I've been a lover of sports, whether playing or simply being a spectator, sports has played an integral part of my life.  

I'm a fan for life, none of this fair-weather bandwagon business. 

The only issue with 'my' teams is that I seem to be drawn to teams that are mediocre, at best. My ISU Cyclones. The Kansas City Chiefs. The Kansas City Royals. Apparently I am a glutton for punishment… In my entire existence, I can't remember rooting for 'my' team in a championship game of any sort. A sad but true confession. 

So, when 'my' Royals set off to play baseball in October it was (and still is) a pretty big deal. And, when we learned the Royals would be playing the Angels, in Anaheim, it wasn't even a question if we were going to attend one of the ALDS games or not. We were. 

Our Fall Bucket List unexpectedly had another item added to it. It's not every year 'our' team is playing baseball in October, so attending a game was an absolute must. 

I know the Fall Bucket List is a family bucket list, but Scott and I knew 1) Marcus would never remember/appreciate going to an ALDS game 2) If we brought Marcus the experience wouldn't be much fun for anyone. In good conscience we left Marcus at home to do all the fun stuff that only happens when baby-sitters are around. Scott and I whisked away to have a bit of a date-night, as well as to check an item off our Life Bucket List, as well as our Fall Bucket List.

We did a little tailgating.
If you're used to tailgating in the Midwest chances are you will be sorely disappointed by the tailgating in other regions. Just trust me on this.
We found our seats, and had a fellow Royals fan take the obligatory field photo.

We watched some pre-game awesomeness, and honored the nation's flag.

We met up with one of our great friends, Barb, who happens to be from KC but lives in SoCal, and loves the Royals, too.

We watched a great game and were treated to an outstanding sunset.
The stadium. The mountains in the distance. The sunset. Gorgeous.
WE WON!!!!

And then we celebrated.
It was such a crazy, awesome, blood rushing, heart pumping kind of experience. Baseball in October is NOT like baseball any other time of year. 

Perhaps when Marcus is a little older, and with high hopes that 'our' teams will be this good in the future, we will be able to share this kind of experience with him, as well. 

What items have you been crossing off your Fall Bucket List? 
Link up with these lovely ladies, and me, and tell us all the fun you've been having!