The (Sort of) Half Marathon

Race day came and race day went. I finished and I didn't die. Though, several miles along the way I thought my legs would stop moving.

When we arrived to the race site I instantly knew this would not be like any other half I'd ever run. The "event" (and I use that term loosely) was held on a public strand along the beach. After speaking with the event coordinator I quickly realized this run would be more like participating with a running club rather than actually running a race. 

There was no start line, no actual finish line, there was no bib, or timing chip. The course went out and back. Twice. The turn around point was marked on the strand with a smiley face drawn with sidewalk chalk. There were no water or aid stations. Water could be found at water fountains connected to public bathrooms, just off the strand. And, the entire course was flat (holy hell, someone shoot me - just thinking about all that flat is brutal). 

My first trip out I missed the smiley face and ran a half mile past the turn around point. Whoops. 

In my mind I wanted to run a sub-2, which I did. My finishing time was 1:59:17. However, I was really hoping to hit closer to the 1:56 mark. To say I'm disappointed with my time is an understatement. Four years ago I PR'd at 1:56:47, and I was really hoping to get close to that. When I saw my time (which I kept track of with my own GPS) I was mad. Really, really MAD.
Upper left: I found the sweetest note from Scott on race morning.
Lower left: Finisher's Medal.
Right: Training and 1/2 complete. 
Did I not train hard enough? What could I have done differently? When is the next race I can run? That time needs to improve. 

I really missed a crowd cheering on runners along the race route. That extra motivation, that extra push of encouragement would have been nice. A finish line to cross would have held extra motivation as well. 

While the point of this post is not to complain (though it kind of seems like it, huh?) it's simply a reminder to myself that I did finish, sub-2, like I hoped, and that I need to keep running. I need to do better. I need to run faster. I have to keep pushing myself. I cannot, will not settle, and I am not happy with my time. I'm on the search for another 1/2 (one that is a little more traditional) so I can blow that 1:59:17 to smithereens, which is right where that time belongs. 
After the run. At least the scenery was pretty!
And woah buddy, look at that nasty tank. HA!


Happy Marcus Monday!

The pool was FINALLY warm enough for Marcus to enjoy over the weekend.

And enjoy he sure did.

Happy Monday!


Easiest.Cheese Danish.Ever.

We often associated food with good memories. Cheese Danishes rally up some great memories of when I was very young. As a weekend treat my mom and I would meet up for breakfast with one of the sweetest ladies I'd ever met, Opal. She went to our church, baby-sat me on occasions, and was very much like a grandmother.

When meeting up with Opal we didn't go any place fancy. Our weekly breakfast date was McDonald's. Every four-year old's dream. 

The aroma of hash browns and McMuffins was intoxicating. But, it was the display case that always showcased the raspberry, blueberry, and cheese Danishes that drew me in. Though the raspberry and blueberry Danishes were good I went for the cheese Danishes every time. 

Sweet and sticky, moist yet flaky, and the little slightest bit of tang in the cream cheese was just too good. I can't remember the last time I had a Danish... (Does McDonald's even offer Danishes anymore?)

When Erin posted a recipe on the Easiest Cheese Danishes Ever I was intrigued. I didn't make them right away. In fact, I went back to her post several times, looking at the ingredients, looking at the simple instructions. Finally I couldn't take it any longer. 

The first bite immediately took me back to all those great breakfasts with Opal. 

Easy Cheese Danish

1 can refrigerated crescent rolls 
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp non-fat Vanilla Greek yogurt (sour cream or plain Greek yogurt also works)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Prepare a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Remove crescent rolls from packaging. DO NOT unroll the crescent rolls. Leave them tightly rolled up.
Slice the roll of crescents into 1/2 inch slices.
Use your fingers to press an indention into the dough. The indention will hold the filling.
To make filling: combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and Greek Yogurt with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy.
Spoon 1-2 teaspoons of filling into each crescent roll.
Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
While crescents are cooking, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Add more sugar or more milk to reach desired consistency. Glaze should be runny, but still thick. Pour glaze over the top of each Danish.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days (like you'll need to, you'll eat them WAAAY before three days is up.
I had no idea there were two different sizes of crescent rolls. I accidentally grabbed the "large" crescent rolls, but was very pleased with the outcome. In fact, I don't think the "regular" size crescent rolls would have turned out as well.

Even though the dough is from the go-to crescent rolls you won't care. You really won't.
These are easy, good, and dare I say better than those from McDonald's.


 Source: Lemon Sugar


How You Know You're Not Ready

Our family is expanding!

Time out. Before your thoughts go in the wrong direction, let me clarify a few things...

The past few weekends we (I) have spent much time at our local animal shelter. After we said goodbye to our sweet Seala I knew our home would not be complete without a feline companion. With so many animals in need of a good home I knew our only option was the shelter. I have my selections narrowed to a few sweet little fur balls, but there is one in particular that is not available for adoption until this Sunday.

Seriously adorable. Right?! 

Being a female kitten I just know she won't stick around the shelter for very long. So, while I'm out running 13.1 miles I'm sending Scott to the shelter. 

As for human babies, we do want more. Eventually. There's been talk of adding one more, maybe, possibly two more. We'll see. 

Well, a few weeks back I had been feeling light-headed, had bouts of nauseousness, and in general felt off. I couldn't put my finger on it. A little voice in the back of my mind whispered "this is how you felt during your first trimester with Marcus." Stop the bus. What? 

Two nights ago I decided to see if that little voice held any truth. 

I have no patience (anyone who knows me know this), so I sat there looking at the pregnancy test. Who has time to wait TWO WHOLE MINUTES?! Then I saw the lines. A huge pit immediately lodged itself in my stomach. I was rendered speechless (again, if you know me at all, this never happens). My mind was racing. Ohmygod. Ohmygod. Ohmygod...

Finally I whispered, "Scott..." and help up the test.

"Shut up. No you're not. Stop kidding."
"I'm not."

Scott bee-lined over to me and looked at the test. 
"You're not."
"I'm not?"
"You're not. You read it wrong."

Insert the largest collective sigh of relief ever in human history. 
THAT, my friends, is how I know we're not quite ready for Number Two. At least not right now. :) 


10 Miles - More Randomness

Last week I had a really tough time getting out and getting my miles in. I couldn't figure out why I was dragging my feet so much. Then it dawned on me, the 1/2 is this weekend. After Sunday there will be a finish line, and an end.

It isn't as if I'll stop running, or won't be on the hunt for my next 1/2. But, this 1/2 holds a lot of meaning. I'm back, I'm a runner again, and I've overcome so much. This training has been different because it's been harder.

(P.S. If you wouldn't mind, please shoot me a little prayer Sunday. I'm excited and nervous and ready to run this half!)

Moving along.

Friday night I was running through a neighborhood I knew, but not too well. It was dark and a car was coming my direction. The car lights were on and they were BRIGHT. I was approaching the street when the sidewalk ended a little sooner than I anticipated. I went FLYING into the street. Superman had nothing on the air I managed. I landed in the middle of the street with my hands and knees breaking my fall. The car creeped by me, I'm assuming they were checking to make sure I wasn't badly injured (that or laughing at me). Slowly I got up and kept going and continued along as if nothing had happened. Though I was fine (minus scraped palms and a little road rash on my leg) my pride certainly was bruised. We've all been there, done that. Right?

To the 10 miles we go!
I've mentioned wanting to get a water belt, and I did. It's essentially a fanny pack. That holds water. Oy. I also mentioned I can't handle the runner's gel (SO GROSS). Running jelly beans are the way to go!
Upper left: How I was originally going to wear the water belt. After Scott made fun of me informed me how the belt was to be worn I made the appropriate change.
Right photo: The correct way to wear the water belt. And, how you'll see me dressed 98% of the time. :)
Lower left: Running beans. Love 'em!
Less than 3/4 mile: (As I'm running past Cold Stone) Cold Stone! After this run I'm getting Cold Stone! Mint chip sounds so good. Maybe I shouldn't be thinking of ice cream right now...

Mile 2: Eight miles to go. Note to self, do not run these long distances mid-afternoon. Holy blazes, it's hot!
*first use of the water belt*

Mile 3: Seven miles left... Oh my gosh, seven miles! 
I wore make up today. SURELY that has all melted off by now. There is no doubt I look a hot, sweaty mess. Yikes.
*first 5 jelly beans consumed*

Mile 4: I HATE this flat stretch on the route. Hills are so much better. Going up means eventually going down. This flat business is for the birds. 
Road apple! *swerve*  
*water break*

Mile 5: Here's a road I've never run down. Let's take it!
This road is a LOT longer than I anticipated. Does it ever end? I need to turn around, and I can't just do that in the middle of the road, I need a "point" to turn around. A stop sign, a stop light, a cul-de-sac, ANYTHING. I just need to turn around. 
Good thing this road has peacocks to keep things interesting.
I took this on a run a few weeks ago. (Aren't they gorgeous?!) I thought about stopping to snap another picture, but I was fearful my legs wouldn't start up again if I quit moving.
Mile 6: Over half way! Woohoo!
*more water, more jelly beans*
Hey, the pot smoker isn't out today. Hmm, maybe he's inside, stoned. Very possible.
Wow, miles 5 and 6 were tough. I think my legs are cramping. Yes, those are my legs cramping. Whelp, at least I don't have to pee.

Mile 7: Less than a 5k to go! Amen for the downhill stretch of this run.
For the longest time no thoughts are processed except: Keep moving your feet, keep breathing. 

Mile 8: *cruising on auto pilot* 
Geez, Pandora is DRUNK! One minute there's music, the next minute silence. And, if one more Evanescence song comes on I'm going to lose it. How is that "Hard Rock Strength Training"?!
*can't muster enough strength to change Pandora station*
*last of jelly beans consumed*

Mile 9: One.More.Mile.One.More.Mile.One.More.Mile.
I keep hearing a rustling in the brush. There was something on the news the other night about rattle snakes. I sure hope it's those itty bitty lizards I see all the time and not some big nasty rattler. 
*check time* EEK! Get home in time for Marcus' bath!
What?! 20% battery left. Make sure phone is 100% charged for the half!  

3/4 mile from home: COLD STONE! COLD STONE! COLD STONE!
*passing Cold Stone*

Mile 10: Done-zo! 
Cold Stone! Cold Stone! Cold Stone!
BAM! Week 11 is in the books.
My pace for this run was much slower than my last few runs have been. The slower pace was done intentionally, as I want my legs ready for game day on Sunday. My time didn't thrill me, I thought it would be a little faster than what it was. However, "a bad run is better than no run." And, I burned up 1,110 calories! Can't be mad at that.

And, to Cold Stone I went! 


13 Months Old!

This is the best picture I could get. Sitting still is not a high priority of his.
After Marcus turned a year I wasn't sure if I would continue to do monthly updates. As the 13 month marker approached I realized there is still so much Little Man is discovering, so many new things are still taking place. I couldn't quit the updates!

Unofficial stats
Height: 34ish inches
Weight: 26ish pounds
Teeth: 14, with two more expected to cut through any day
He is such a little turkey. Never sitting still and never a dull moment.
I apologize for the blur of some pictures, but that's what happens when a tornado is personified.
Marcus loves to be outside. If it isn't too cool or rainy we spend most of our days outdoors.
We have a social butterfly on our hands. If there is a crowd Marcus wants to be in it.
Hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, cheese sticks, peas, apples, and bananas are favorite foods.
Favorite toys: anything that makes noise.
Kisses are a little more rare these days, but when they happen they are intentional.
Little Man can be so stubborn. I hope this is just a phase.
Two-a-day naps still happen, but we are slowly transitioning to one nap a day.
Marcus' vocabulary is pretty limited. "Mama and Da-da" are about it. And, most days I wonder if he knows what even those mean.
If there is a puddle, pool, or tub with water Marcus wants in, regardless if he is wearing clothes or not.
Bubbles and peak-a-boo are SO MUCH FUN!

We are discovering new things every day. It's amazing how wonderful the world is through a little one's eyes.


Happy Marcus Monday!

Bubbles are a big HUGE hit these days.
Because it's been warm enough to run around sans clothes that's exactly what we've been doing. No clothes and lots of bubbles makes for one happy little monkey.
Happy Monday!


Bye Bye Bottle

Four weeks ago we pulled the plug on the b-o-t-t-l-e. Marcus had gotten to the point where he was a real pain about the bottle. Often, he'd have the bottle hanging from his mouth, not drinking it, not even sucking like a pacifier. It was just THERE. And, I was just OVER IT.

Two days before his birthday we switched to sippy cups only. The first two days were rough; mornings and evenings in particular. I'd say the first 24 hours were the worst. The bottle was a soother for Marcus, and when we didn't have other (known) options to calm Marcus it was tough for all of us. But, I wasn't buckling. My kid wasn't about to be running around with a bottle hanging from his mouth for no good reason.

After two days Marcus seemed to have forgotten about the bottle altogether. We've been bottle-free ever since. Praise Jesus.
(While I know this isn't earth shattering, blog-worthy news, it's here more for documentation for Marcus, as well as me. Someday I hope Marcus sits down and read all of this amazing craziness.)
In other news, Marcus is transitioning from two naps a day down to one. I am not at all a fan of this. At all. This momma appreciates the down time, quiet time, get-stuff-done-around-the-house time that two naps offer. Every other day, or so, Marcus will totally skip out on one of his naps. It's a brutal 30 minutes for both of us. He just stands there screaming in his crib while I wonder the entire time if he's ever going to just fall asleep.

Transitioning to one nap a day wouldn't be so brutal if that solo nap lasted for longer than an hour. A two hour nap would be glorious. Marcus doesn't seem to realize this. Yet.

Let's hope potty training goes more along the lines of losing the bottle, and less like the nap transition.
Why can't we be this happy after every sleep?! 


Sweet and Sour Chicken - A Lighter Version

The last time my family and I were in Hawaii we stayed in a condo, purchased groceries, and made most of our meals at the condo. On a trip to the store grocery store we were trying to pick out pineapples, but none of us had any clue as to how to pick the fruit. A nice grocery store employee helped us pick out the perfect, ripe pineapples. She showed us pineapples where the exterior was very green while others where the exterior was very yellow. The employee explained the yellower the pineapples the riper and sweeter they were.
The pineapple on the left is no where near ripe and ready to eat.
The pineapple on the right should be juicy and sweet! 
We went through a pineapple a day during that trip. Fresh Hawaiian pineapple is simply the best. Sadly, I have yet to taste a pineapple as delicious as those in Hawaii.

When I saw our grocery store was brimming with pineapples I knew I had to pick up a few. After spotting a recipe for a lighter sweet and sour chicken I knew exactly what we were having for dinner.

Grab some of the yellowest pineapple you can find, pick up some bright bell peppers, and feast on this delicious one-skillet dish. If you're not a pineapple fan you can always make this and skip over the pineapple (but, that would be a crying shame).

Sweet and Sour Chicken - A Lighter Version

Serves 4

For the Stir Fry:
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large white onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into coins
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sesame seeds (if desired)
white or brown rice, for serving
For the Sauce:
1/4 cup ketchup
3 Tbsp sriracha chile sauce
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp oyster sauce (optional)
1 pinch white pepper
1/2 cup pineapple juice (or any kind of citrus juice will do)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large deep-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then add to skillet. Saute for about 5 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink on the inside. Remove chicken and set aside.
  2. Add an additional 1 Tbsp oil to the skillet, then add in the onion, peppers, carrots. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for another 3 minutes or until the vegetables are tender yet still a bit crisp. Remove vegetables and set aside.
  3. Add ketchup, sriracha, vinegar, brown sugar, oyster sauce and white pepper to pan, and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the fruit juice and cornstarch until it has dissolved. Then add the mixture to the sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Add back in the vegetables and chicken, and stir until evenly coated.
  4. Remove from heat and serve over rice, garnished with sesame seeds if desired. Serve immediately.
To my pleasant surprise, this dish was so much easier to put together than I had anticipated. The only thing I'll be sure to have on hand while making it is a few prepping bowls immediately on hand. 

Scott loved it. I did too, however I think 3 full tablespoons of sriracha sauce was a bit too much for me. I've gotten better about liking/enjoying food with a little kick, however, this was just a tad too hot for me. The next time I make this - there most certainly will be a next time - I'll scale down the hot sauce.

Side note: I found this recipe over at Iowa Girl Eats. Iowa Girl, Kristen had guest blogger, Ali at Give Me Some Oven, share this recipe. After reading, making, and loving the recipe, Give Me Some Oven was quickly added to my list of favorite food bloggers. If you like this recipe be sure to stop by Give Some Oven and check her out.

I did a breakdown of the nutrition info for one serving of Sweet and Sour Chicken (rice info is not included):
Calories - 260
Total fat - 8.5 g
Carbs - 31.5 g
Fiber - 3.5 g
Protein - 15 g


Thoughts Per Mile

This last weekend was glorious. Not because of all the things we did. Rather, it was because of what we didn't do. This weekend we did a whole lot of nothing. Relaxed, did a little shopping, enjoyed each other, and NAPPED!

I forgot what it was like before Marcus... Weekends were often dotted with lazy afternoons and dozing on and off throughout the day. Glorious stuff I tell you.

For the first time in ages Scott and I napped while Marcus did. BOTH TIMES. It.Was.Awesome.

We weren't totally lazy. Scott ran the Baker to Vegas run Saturday (which was why he was so spent on Sunday), and I got around to running my 9-miler Sunday after all the beautiful sleep.
Only two more weeks until the half. EEK!!
I'm still trying to decide if I enjoy the running and workouts more than crossing off each day with a specific colored Sharpie... :) 
Lauren did a post on her thoughts while she ran a half marathon, and I couldn't resist paying extra attention to my incredibly random thoughts as I pounded out the miles.

400 feet into my run - I'm not really feeling this run. Maybe I should have put it off until tomorrow. I think I need to pee... I should have left my water bottle at home. I don't want to carry this for 9 miles.

Mile 1 - Who keeps honking at me?! ...Wait, I think that's the song on Pandora. Whoops.
I still think I need to pee. I still hate carrying this water bottle.

Mile 2 - Why do I choose routes with all these hills?!

Mile 3 - I take back the hill complaints. This flat part of the route is zero fun. I'd rather run hills.

Mile 4 - I still think I need to pee...
Is that a pebble in my shoe?! UGH! I can't stop now, that pebble is going to have to wait.

Mile 4.5 - Half way point, turn this puppy around and start heading home. Hallelujah!

Mile 5 - I'm pretty sure that man was smoking a joint at that house I just passed. I am in California... When in Rome, I suppose.

Mile 6 - Hey, I have some of that runners gel. Maybe I'll give it a try.
Oh my gosh, it has the consistency of a lugee. (Not that I know what a lugee is like. I don't know how to "do" those.) And tastes like tanning lotion smells. *Chuck remainder of gel.* Gross.

Mile 7 - These hills are much better while going down them.
Still hate this water bottle. Invest in one of those water belt thing-ys, as soon as possible.

Mile 8 - Almost there. One.More.Mile. All.Up.Hill.

Mile 9 - Done! What a minute, I'm still a half mile from home. I ran out too far and miss calculated. Whomp whomp.
On the upside, my miles per minute is better than I was hoping. YAY!
...Yep, most certainly have to pee.
For not "feeling" my run I wasn't mad at my pace. Might have wished for 9/miles, but this will do.
Moral of my thoughts: Just get out and run it, pee before you go, invest in a water belt (or whatever they're called), skip the running gel, hills are good for running down, and don't mind (or inhale too deeply around) the pot smokers along your route.
Boston will certainly be on my mind during this weekend's 10-miler.

Calling all runners, what flows through your mind while you're getting you miles in?


A Runner's Prayer

What happened in Boston yesterday is incomprehensible. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it all.
The spectators should have been cheering along those who were crossing the most iconic runner's finish line...
The athletes who dedicated so many hours of training, so much sweat, and most likely some tears...
When people should have been running toward a finish line they were dashing away from it.
A day that should have been filled with joy and accomplishment was cut short by devastation.
So much sadness.
Such senselessness.

To all those affected at the Boston Marathon, I extend my thoughts and prayers.

A Runner’s Prayer

Run by my side – live in my heartbeat,
Give strength to my steps.
As the cold confronts and the wind pushes,
I know you surround me.
As the sun warms and the rain cleanses,
I know you are reaching out –
                        Challenging me; loving me.
And so I give you this run – my effort, my life.
Thank you for matching my stride. 


Happy Marcus Monday!

This has been happening a lot lately.

During lunch?! Really?! C'mon kid!
It's not like he's mining for gold. Right now I think he's just figured his finger fits in his nose hole. But, eventually he'll get to the point where he's really going after it. And, I can't deal with that level of disgusting.
Dirty diapers? I'm on it.
Throw up? No biggie.
Boggers? Clear a path, I'm outta here!

Happy Monday!


Soaked + Smiling = Success

If there's one thing that's pretty constant about our area it's the weather. On any given day it's sunny and right around 72 degrees. Fabulous weather to be outside, but not ideal for swimming.

I'm next to positive I have a little water bug on my hands, and this thrills me. However, the pool has been far too cold to swim and the park offers limited things for our little man. While I love our "baby gym" it just doesn't beat being outside and playing. 

For sometime now I've been looking for fun alternatives for all the aforementioned things. Shawna posted on one of the best purchases she's made for her girls (who are too cute for words), and I knew I needed to follow suit. As soon as I finished reading Shawna's post I marched out and solved our little indoor/outdoor issue.
 May I introduce you to our newest favorite toy. The water table!!!
Marcus was a little timid with it at first... But, it didn't take long for him to warm up to the idea of splishing and splashing.
Within minutes the kid was giggling and SOAKED.
He even thought it'd be a good idea to work on his bubbles. Only problem, kid has no idea how to actually blow bubbles... We're working on that.
Eventually we just said see ya' to clothes. He was happier in the buff anyway.

Marcus played his little heart out for a solid 30 minutes. Note, playing with any one thing, at any given time never lasts for more than 45 seconds. Miracle toy right here!

Moral of the story, if you have a water bug, but it's not quite warm enough to go for a dip in the pool, get a water table!


Spicy Sausage Pasta Skillet

 It's no secret that I don't eat red meat or pork. I haven't since I was 9. My mom often tried to sneak fast ones on me growing up (and succeeded a few times). There's a long story behind it. But not too long to share with my newer followers:

Growing up my best friend, Amy, lived on a farm. I hung out with her all the time, and spent summers with her, prepping her animals for the fair. I was a "city" girl, who lived all of maybe 12 blocks away, but a city girl nonetheless. When I went to my BFFs to play I would BEG Amy's sisters to let me do their chores. I never understood why they always gladly let me go to the barn instead of them... Feeding the animals, frolicking in the yard, it was glorious.

One day Amy and I were eating hot dogs, or hamburgers, or something along those lines. It was then I learned we were eating the animals we had been caring for. That was enough for me.

You'll see plenty of chicken and turkey dishes on here. Why eat those meats but not the swine or bovine? Well, the chickens on the farm were down right MEAN. The only chore I hated helping with was collecting eggs. Chickens pecking away at your arms and legs is not my idea of fun. So, poultry? Yes, please.

On to my point... When I happened across a one-skillet dish that actually called for smoked turkey sausage I knew it was already a winner in my world.

Did I already mention one-skillet? That also equals keeper. Annnnd, per severing this is less than 300 calories! Winner, winner spicy sausage pasta skillet dinner!

Spicy Sausage Pasta Skillet

Serves 6

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
12 oz smoked turkey sausage, sliced
2 large shallots, or 1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken broth
10 oz Rotel
1/2 cup half & half
12 oz (1 box) cut pasta
4 cups baby spinach
Parmesan cheese, for topping
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet (I used a 12″ skillet) over medium-high heat. Add sausage and shallots then saute until sausage is slightly curled, about 5 minutes (do not over cook or sausage will become rubbery.) Add garlic then cook for 30 more seconds, stirring constantly.
  2. Turn heat up to high then add chicken broth, tomatoes, half & half, and pepper. Mixture may look curdled, but it’s fine. Bring to a boil then add pasta and stir to combine. Place a lid on top then simmer for 10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente, stirring once or twice. Add spinach then stir to combine and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

SO GOOD! Scott liked it, except for the spinach. I knew he'd pick it all out, and he did. Next time I'll probably add a little less spinach, but I like the stuff, so I'm not nixing it totally.

Nutrition info per serving (this does not include shredded Parmesan cheese):
Calories - 290
Fat - 9 g
Carbs - 38.5 g
Fiber - 5 g
Protein - 14 g

Source: Iowa Girl Eats


So What Wednesday

Linking up this morning with Shannon at Life After 'I Dew'.

So what if...

  • I feed Marcus turkey dogs, mac and cheese, and a banana at almost every meal. It's the only thing the kid will actually eat right now. 
  • It's 10:30 and I'm posting for the second time today.
  • I'm working on finishing my pot of coffee, and I think I'll probably make a run to the coffee shop once Marcus wakes from his nap.
  • I'm counting down the days until Scott and I head to the Bahamas.
  • 99.9% of my InstaGram photos are of Marcus. The kid is cute, what can I say? 
  • This morning while taking Drake out I let Marcus sit in a water puddle (in his pjs) and play away. It kept him happy, and still, while Drake did his biznass. 
  • I'm leaving you with this picture because it's cute, and I don't really have any other post lined up to share it with you... :) 
Little man wants in that water in the worst way!

Kindle Fire HD Giveaway!

It's here! It's time! Win a Kindle Fire HD!!
There are about a bazillion different ways to get entered, so get going!

There is no doubt that Isabelle Thornton of Le Chateau des Fleurs is talented.  This French-girl-gone-Utah has a wildly popular blog full of interesting DIY posts, photography, giveaways, and great reviews.  Aside from being an awesome blogger, she also creates fun apps for phones.  Previously her "Make Me Skinny" or Bon Bon app has kept many entertained as they edited and adjusted photos on their iPhones, and now I'm excited to announce she's released an entirely new app!  This one is different, and for Android!

Let's face it, sometimes you spend more time with your smart phone than you do with your spouse, friends, coworkers, and family... You sleep with it, eat with it, and admit it-you take it to the bathroom with you!  With Smartphone DNA you are creating a new kind of experience with your Smartphone.

What is Smartphone DNA?  
Smartphone DNA is an app dedicated to Twitter users, and it allows you to collect your Twitter DNA via your Android phone, and then compare it with other twitter users to see how much you match!  This is a great way to locate new Twitter friends that have things in common with you! 

How it works:
  1. Smartphone DNA shows you a list of apps you currently have installed.
  2. You select the apps you want to share as part of your DNA
  3. Smartphone DNA shows you how closely you match the DNA of other users.

Smartphone DNA is 100% secure and controlled by you.

Win a Kindle Fire HD
To celebrate the release of Smartphone DNA, Isabelle is offering one lucky newsletter subscriber  a brand new Kindle Fire HD!  Can you say wow?  This is the reader of all readers-with a 7" full color HD display, exclusive Dolby audio, and ultra-fast WiFi it's top of the line.  Don't miss out on this opportunity to have one for yourself!  Follow the break to enter the giveaway:


Homemade Whipped Cream

Yesterday was one of those days where I was in the constant state of trying to play catch up. Exactly what I was trying to catch up on, I have no idea. I just felt like I was behind on everything. 
By the end of the night I'd successfully done a whole lot of nothing (except one killer workout... if you're interested let me know).

Today, from saving me from being post-less I'm giving you a very easy recipe you need to tuck away and save forever.

A quick rewind to give some background. For as long as I can remember I haven't liked whipped cream. Ever. On anything. At Thanksgiving I'm the only one who has a slice of pumpkin pie sans the white whipped stuff. It's just so not good.

While making the food for Marcus' birthday party I (obviously) had to incorporate banana foods to fit the monkey theme. Banana pudding made the list. What good is banana pudding without crushed short bread and whipped cream? In case you're wondering, it's not much good.
Instead of going out and buying whipped topping I figured I'd try making my own. Anyone who's ever made their own whipped cream has raved about how awesome it is, and how the purchased stuff doesn't hold a candle. I gave it a shot. I had nothing to lose. The grocery store, only blocks away, would have Plan B if my attempts failed.

My first batch was a success! I didn't hate it. In fact, it was really good. Rich, thick, and creamy. Delicious, really.

Next time you need whipped cream try this. It's SO EASY and SO much better than anything you'll find in your grocery store.

Homemade Whipped Cream

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla, or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup powdered sugar

In a clean and cold bowl of a stand mixer, whip the heavy whipping cream using the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form.
Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and whip until combined.
Voila! You're very own whipped cream.

Instead of spooning the whipped cream into the cups of pudding I piped it in with a ziplock baggie with one of the bottom corners snipped.


Source: Lemon Sugar


Happy Marcus Monday! And, The Winner Is....

Here's a little recap of Marcus' weekend.
What a fun weekend we had!

And, the winner of the custom infant/toddler/children's jacket is...

ANGIE S. over at The Places You Will Go.
Congratulations Angie! I will be contacting you soon regarding details.

Happy Monday!!


Go Get Entered!

Finally, the weekend! Was last week not the longest.week.ever? Holy smokes it was never ending. Maybe it's just me...
The little man has a few new teeth coming in (does teething ever end?!). The past few nights have been rough; we've been up several times each night. Ugh. How did we survive the first few months of his life (all those night feedings!)? Yikes.

On to the good stuff.
A few giveaways you need to know about.
Don't forget to enter for the custom infant/toddler/children's jacket. The winner will randomly be selected and announced this coming Monday morning (April 8).
For all the giveaway details, rules, and regulations, visit {this post}.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't miss out on this fabulous giveaway going on right now over at Our Journey.

I can't decide which I love more, the gold or aqua pair. 
My good friend Sarah is graciously giving one winner a pair of gorgeous Stella and Dot earrings. Kind of obsessed with S&D right now, and I really, really want to win. But, I wanted to share the love and opportunity with you.
Head over and say hi to Sarah Click on {this link}, to get yourself entered!
P.S. Be sure to browse around Sarah's blog and check out her adorable little man, Drew. I hope someday our little boys will become good buddies. :)

Cheers to the freakin' weekend!