Photo Share 12/9

Hi party people! Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. I’m so excited to share that I finished my first half marathon this weekend! Derek and I ran in the OUC Orlando Half Marathon, and decided it definitely won’t be our last. I’ll go into a more detailed re-cap of the race in another post, but for now,as tradition calls for, I’ll share the last few days in photos with you all!

I spent Thursday evening with my parents and nephew Parker, drinking almond milk hot chocolate and watching Christmas specials on TV.  This is one of my favorite things to do during the holiday season, and I’m loving the many SNL Christmas Special re-runs that have been airing!

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We started the carb-loading off early in the week ( Monday is appropriate for a Saturday race, right?), so my dad was sweet enough to prepare us some tasty pasta with homemade tomato sauce and fresh basil on Thursday night.

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After work on Friday, Derek and I drove out to Orlando to check into the hotel we stayed at the night before our half-marathon. We made reservations at 310 Lakeside after verifying that they had some serious opportunities for carb consumption! We shared a zucchini flatbread and both had the Chicken Piccata Pasta and it was all delicious!

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We had an early wake-up call Saturday morning, and made sure to snap a pic at the hotel before our race began!

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We ran the race in 1:59:22, and headed back home to Tampa to watch our two teams play in their championship games!

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I’m literally in shock  (but still proud) that Auburn ended up being the team who will face FSU in the National Championship game in January. I’ll be sad to cheer against Auburn, but am glad both of my teams are the top 2 in the country!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pics from my firm’s holiday party which took place Saturday evening, but it was held at the beautiful Tampa Bay History Center, and catered by one of my favorite Tampa restaurants, the Columbia.

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And we passed Sunday morning in typical Sunday fashion, with church, a trip to the gym for a CX Worx class, and some relaxation, before having dinner with my family to celebrate my Nano’s birthday!

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I plan to get some easy runs in this week, and I’ve set a goal for myself to continue to drink as much water as I did last week as I was gearing up for my half-marathon.

Do you all have any health or fitness goals for this week or month?!

Happy Monday, keep smiling!

Turkey Trottin’ and Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa

Hi friends! How are you all doing?! I spent my whole vacation on cloud 9 –  I spent 2 straight days with my family, enjoyed the latter half  of my break in Atlanta with Derek’s family.

We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving that began with the Turkey Trot 5K that I mentioned earlier in the week. After waking up in the 6 o’clock hour and enjoying a pre-race cup of coffee, my dad, Derek and I ventured out into the 37 degree Florida weather for our Turkey Trot in Fishhawk, a neighborhood near our home.

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We went back and forth on whether or not we should keep our jackets on while we ran. That’s how I know it’s really cold – when Derek and my dad run in long sleeves. In the end, we all decided to be wimps and run with the layers. The run never seemed to warm me up so I’m sure glad I kept my jacket on.

We ran with my dad for about 1.5 miles , and then all met up at the finish line. I didn’t pay much attention to my Garmin, and instead just enjoyed running with Derek and my dad beside me. We are all usually focused on trying to do well in our age group, so this was a nice change to run together.

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We ran mile 1 in 8:48, mile 2 in 8:07 and the last 1.1 mile in 7:54.

It was such a fun race and the turnout was great –  I’d guess about 2,000+ came out! I love seeing races grow from year to year!

After our run, we made our traditional Starbucks stop, and I realized it was my first Starbucks red cup of the holiday season. I’m pretty sure this is pitiful, since this means I haven’t had Starbucks in about a month. What was I thinking???!!!

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We rounded out the morning by decorating the Christmas tree, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, preparing my contribution for Thanksgiving dinner, and attempting to take a successful Christmas card photo.

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My family always celebrates Thanksgiving at my Aunt Suzanne and Tio Frankie’s home, and since they have the Thanksgiving meal perfected, I was asked to bring just an appetizer. I knew I wanted it to be something in the spirit of Thanksgiving, but couldn’t think of a dish for the life of me. That’s where Martha Stewart and Real Simple came into play. I found this recipe on their list of easy Thanksgiving appetizers, and it was definitely a hit at the get together (as much of a hit as an appetizer can be – we all know what we were really there for!)

Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa

1.5 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small

1 large red onion, diced

1 ½ tbsp. olive oil

2 tomatoes, diced

2 avocados, diced

3 tbsp chopped cilantro

Lime juice from 1 lime

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 450 . Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray, and roast diced sweet and onions tossed in olive oil for 20-25 minutes, or until sweet potato is lightly browned. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool completely.

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Once roasted veggies have cooled, add in tomatoes, avocado, onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Serve with pita chips or toasted baguette.

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I hope you all had as lovely as a Thanksgiving break as I did, and I hope your week is just as great!

Veggie Packed Chicken Soup Because I’m Freezing Cold

Hi friends! How goes life? I am just cruising along this week, working and counting down the minutes until the holiday season officially begins! I’m so ready to begin Thanksgiving day with a Turkey Trot 5K Race with my dad and Derek. We all decided to run together this Thanksgiving, instead of trying to set PRs. None of us have been training for speed lately (Derek and I have been preparing for our upcoming half marathon), so we thought it would be nice to run together this turkey trot!

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I’m so excited that the weather in Tampa will be chilly this Thanksgiving. Who wants 80+ degree weather during the holidays? Not this girl! As you can see from my picture from last year’s turkey trot, I was sufficiently freezing (don’t let my dad’s outfit fool you – it was in the 40s and that’s cold for us down here!).

Speaking of chilly weather…. As the temperature outside starts to get a little cooler ( in the 60s here in Tampa, and that’s cold for us), I always start to crave soup more than any other time of the year. What warms your heart more than a large bowl of homemade soup? Nothing, that’s what.

Last weekend, I was really longing for some homemade soup, and we had tons of veggies and chicken on hand that I put to use to create this vegetable packed chicken soup! Here’s the recipe, I hope you all enjoy!

Veggie +  Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces chicken tenders, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 small zucchini, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 28 oz. vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons orzo (or another tiny pasta)
  • 3  cups packed baby spinach

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Directions

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add chicken to pan, and cook until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. In a large pot, add zucchini, onion, oregano, and salt and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, white wine, and orzo, and cook on high heat until the soup begins to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 more minutes. Add in spinach and chicken and cook for 2 more minutes.

This soup is the perfect meal for freezing and re-heating on chilly nights or as a special lunch treat at work. I enjoyed the soup 3x this past week and it didn’t grow old once!

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Buon Appetito! And enjoy your Turkey Day-Week 🙂

A Hungry Girl’s Favorite Week + Photo Share 11/25

Hi strangers! I have missed you all so much the past few days! How has everyone been? I am SO excited that Thanksgiving is almost here – I can barely control myself! Does it get any better than an entire day filled with food, family, and a little bit of football? The special traditions every family has during the holidays is probably my favorite part of it all. My dad and I always run a Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning, and then go home and watch the Macy’s Day Parade with my mom. It’s one of my favorite mornings of the year, and I’m excited Derek will be spending it with us this year!

This weekend was a wonderful kick-off to the holidays, and I’m grateful to have spent so much time with family and friends the past few days. 

As usual, I’m going to share my weekend with you guys in my favorite fashion – through pictures, of course!

Friday evening after work, Derek and I kicked off the weekend with a short 3 mile run. Derek has been crazy busy working the past few weeks, and our runs have been a great time for us to catch up and have some time to do nothing but talk to each other. One of my favorite parts of running is the time I get to spend with the people I’m running with – whether it is Derek, my dad, or a friend, it’s always great to share that special time with someone!

After our run, when we were having the typical “I don’t care – you pick where we go to dinner” conversations, our indecisive struggle was put to an end when we got a call from Derek’s mom inviting us over for Mexican Soup! I know I’ve said it a million times before, but I love her cooking and could never turn it down. We quickly cleaned up and headed over to spend the evening over there.

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Dinner was DEEELISH as usual, and I spent the rest of the night cuddling on Sam…
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And enjoying way too much Yogurtology. Is that even a thing? Too much Yogurtology? Probably not. aaaa

We also had fun watching Ben watch the Season 2 finale of Homeland (the best show in the history of television). If you’ve never watched Homeland, I cannot recommend that show enough. Please, do yourself a favor, get Showtime, and go watch it!! aaaaaa

After a 30 minute elliptical sesh (I really don’t love that thing), and a CXWorx class, I spent the day with my parents and Louie on Saturday! I helped them decorate the house for Christmas, and they returned the favor by helping me at Derek’s house! I’m feeling super thankful for my parents this week (and every week, for that matter)!
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We spent Saturday evening with Derek’s parents and neighborhood friends at a neighborhood shrimp boil! This was only my second shrimp boil (remember my first?) and it really made me wonder why we don’t do shrimp boils more often. We had such a fun night eating too much shrimp + cornbread muffins and drinking way too much wine.
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Speaking of wine.. I was pretty worried that I shouldn’t have had those few glasses of wine the night before the longest run of my life so far. But, surprisingly, our 12 mile training run on Sunday was my most enjoyable long run yet. I’m amazed at what a real training plan can do for you. Each week my body feels more and more comfortable with longer distances – I never thought I would be someone to run 12 miles and enjoy it, but I’m really glad it’s developed that way! Our half marathon is in 12 days, and I’m so excited for the day to finally get here.
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Don’t worry, Louie only came with me the last 1/2 mile – which probably was the most distracting half mile of my life.

I was so excited on Sunday when I got an invite to come to a “Friendsgiving” at our friends’ Gabby and Maggie’s house. The party was a hit, and it was such a lovely way to get in the mood for Thanksgiving. We all love spending the holidays with family, but I’m so happy the “Friendsgiving” tradition has started, because I love that I get to celebrate being thankful for all my awesome friends!bb

The food. was. so. good. I’m going to need a couple of recovery days for my stomach to shrink back to normal size from all the delicious appetizers, turkey, stuffing, potatoes, mac n cheese, delicious salad and corn casserole we ate. Oh and then came dessert. It was really a hungry girl’s dream come true.food food2

I brought a new-to-me dish to the party – pimento cheese balls rolled in toasted pecans. I can’t wait to share the recipe with you guys! bbbbbbbbb

And one of my favorite parts of the party was the “what I’m thankful for” props to take pictures with. Please note: Will Ferrell, Natty Lite, Jameis Winston, Chick Fil A… Not pictured: DVR, Publix BOGO (THE GREATEST). These girls hit the nail on the head with what I’m grateful for!bbb

Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone! I hope you all have a blessed week with your families, eat plenty of food, and take some time to consider all the wonderful things we can all be thankful for this year and every year!freeendz

Sweet Home Alabama + Photo Share 11/18

Hey guys, happy Monday! It feels nice to wake up in Tampa this morning for the first time in a while! We spent our weekend in Dothan, Alabama, where Derek was a groomsman in one of his best friends’ weddings! Spencer and Derek met on their football recruiting visit to Auburn when they were seniors in highschool, and lived together through Derek’s whole Auburn career.  It was such an honor to be with Spencer and Amanda as they officially started their life together, and we can’t wait to see this beautiful couple again soon!

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As you can tell, the evening was picture perfect and the ideal southern affair. I was taken aback with the décor and all the beautiful little southern touches. But the decorations weren’t nearly as beautiful as the couple of the night!

The food went perfectly with the scene – some good ole’ comfort food that included fried chicken, mac and cheese, collard greens, fried okra and corn bread. It hit the spot and made me wish  all weddings included this kind of eatin’.

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And the cakes were a delicious yellow cake with buttercream icing, staged perfectly on a rustic blue dresser

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Rewinding a little earlier in the day – Derek and I found a running trail surrounding a park in Dothan, and got a good 7.5 miles in before 9 a.m. Although our training plan called for a 10 mile run, we made sure to get that distance in last week since we weren’t sure we’d find a 10 mile route in Dothan. Next week we have a 12 miler in store, and it’s our last long run before our half marathon on December 7th! I can’t pinpoint whether I’m more nervous or more excited – anyone else feel this way for their first half marathon??

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This was my first long run sans iPod and Garmin watch (I noticed both were dead as soon as I got dressed for the run). It was much easier than I thought it would be, and enjoyed running with no gadgets and a clear head!

Still rewinding backwards – on our way up to Dothan Friday night, I was so excited when the dinner hour rolled around about the same time that we were passing through Tallahassee. We hopped off the interstate and grabbed dinner at one of my favorite spots – Po’ Boys – all of our mouths were on fire with the Cajun seasonings that Po’ Boys uses, but we left feeling happy and full!

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Before we hit the road on Friday, I made a little time for a fast paced and quick 25 minute HIIT running session, which included the following treadmill intervals:

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I really loved this interval run because it kept me busy and made the time fly by so quickly. Before I knew it, it was time to hop off and call it a day.

And MOST IMPORTANTLY, I also had a little time to whip up a batch of some pumpkin granola, which I promise to share a recipe shortly!

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I hope you guys have a lovely week ahead! I plan to begin my week with some night time Power Yoga. This will be my first time at the class, and I can’t wait to give it a go!

Photo Share 11/4

Hey party people, happy Monday and happy November to you all! I am writing this post 30,000 ft. in the air (does that estimation sound right? I hope I’m not seriously off on that), as I know as soon as this plane lands and I get to my hotel this evening I will be far too tired to turn on this computer of mine and begin typing.

The good news about this week? I’m headed for some more audit training, and will be able to dine out very well the next several days. They feed us like it’s the Last Supper over here. The bad news? I’m out of the kitchen until Saturday, and won’t be able to whip up a darn thing while I’m gone. In addition to that sad fact, I’m also without my treasured running buddy, and will have to settle for hotel gyms for any runs/workouts I have on tap.

Luckily for me, the past several days, which I will OBVIOUSLY detail to you all with a plethora of pictures, included plenty of gym time, running, cooking, and baking. What more could a gal like me ask for?

Halloween was far from frightful in our household – instead, we’ll say it was pretty hoppy. Ben, Derek and I were treated to a fall-inspired beer tasting, planned and prepared by the one and only, Megan! Megan purchased several different fall beers, which included a couple of pumpkin beers, as well as some interesting Oktoberfest brewskis. While I am far from a beer connoisseur (give me a Mich Ultra and I’m all set), I really enjoyed tasting and rating all the beers she served us. I felt like the night was perfectly planned, and right up my alley as a great way to celebrate Halloween with friends!

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I probably should have cooked something pumpkin or winter-squash related on this fall holiday, but instead I prepared a spicy Cajun chicken pasta dish – I promise to share with you guys later this week!

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I woke up Friday morning and headed to the gym for a bright and early barre class. This class was the same I attended last Friday, but much more enjoyable this time around. I feel like the success of group fitness really depends on the energy in the room, and this last class was full of energy. It started my Friday off with a bang, and was a fun way to add some variety to my usual fitness routine.

On Friday evening, Derek and I took my parents to a wine bar we’ve been enjoying lately – Cru Cellars. Cru is a relatively small winery and eatery, and we’re always impressed by the dishes and wine flights we are served whenever we dine at Cru. We all ordered a few plates and shared them all, including a fig and prosciutto flatbread, a smoked whitefish dip, and a burger on a pretzel bun. Derek and I resisted stuffing ourselves to the brim, so that we could hop on over to Yogurtology and get our froyo fix for the night.

On our agenda for Saturday morning was a long training run for our upcoming half marathon, but Mother Nature put her foot down in the form of all-day long thunderstorms. Sometimes you just gotta go with the flow, so I made my way to the gym for a 3 mile treadmill run and a Bodypump class instead. My friend Sara agreed to join me, which made the class 10x better, as it seems I’m always that girl in class with no one to talk to.

AND THEN IT WAS TIME TO CELEBRATE LOUIE! I feel awful admitting this to you all, but I forgot Louie’s “fake” birthday twice this year. We aren’t really sure when his date of birth is, so we designated 10/15 as the day we would celebrate. 10/15 came and went, and we completely forgot about the little guy! So what did we do?  We decided his birthday would be Halloween, because who could forget that birthday? We would never forget his birthday if it was Halloween. Then rolled around November 1st, and we realized we forgot to celebrate his birthday once again. WE. ARE. AWFUL. PEOPLE. That was it, no questions asked, Louie’s birthday would be the very next day, November 2nd. So November 2nd  began with a frosty paw, followed by a trip to Petco where Lou went crazy at the treat bar, and ended with a whole lot of Lou lovin’! And the best part about it all? I don’t even think he was made at me for forgetting his special day!

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Louie was extra excited to spend part of his birthday at his friend Sam’s house, as you can tell.

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Derek’s mom taught me how to bake a delectable Pumpkin Roll, and I spent Saturday afternoon covered in powdered sugar. I can’t wait to share this recipe with you guys!

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We spent Saturday evening with great friends at The Lodge, watching our ‘Noles beat Miami – the celebration may or may not have helped with our 8 mile run that took place Sunday morning.

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But at least the run happened, and we checked another distance off of our list. Our long run mileage gets longer and longer the next few weeks, and we’re enjoying running around new parts of town, as we have lots of ground to cover.

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The rest of my Sunday included a trip to the Hyde Park Fresh market with friends and Louie, and an evening on a jet plane for work travel.

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My goal for this new week is to take advantage of my hotel stay by getting to bed early (less distractions than at home) and getting in at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Any of you have healthy goals planned for this week?

Happy Monday – Keep Smiling!

Photo Share 10/14

Well hello there, fellow party people! How goes it? I hope everyone had a fun filled weekend and I hope you are all ready for a fantastic week ahead. My weekend was certainly fun, as it was filled with plenty o’ time with the Weatherly clan. D-Man left town this weekend to head to his old stompin’ grounds, Auburn Universtiy, and spend the weekend with his family. And while I missed my partner in crime (especially during my boring 5 mile run on Saturday), it was nice to have 3 days to spend with my family. And in true Monday fashion, I’ll continue with my tradition of re-capping my weekend through photos:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. I made a couple batches of these late Friday evening and they are almost all gone. Don’t be alarmed, I had plenty of help in the consumption of said muffins.pumpkin3

Once I started baking, I just couldnt stop. Banana Walnut Bread was next on tap, and baking this made our house smell so incredibly delicious. I’ll share both recipes with you shortly!

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Bodypump. I try to attend classes at my gym on the weekend as regularly as possible, since my schedule is a little less flexible during the work week. I made it to a Bodypump and Bodyflow class this weekend – thank you Les Mills, you are a genius.

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My parents and I all had serious cravings for sushi on Friday evening, and these rolls hit. the. spot.

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Do not go out of town and come back empty handed. Perhaps Derek learned this the hard way, perhaps not. Pish posh that’s all in the past, and this time he most certainly did not come back empty handed. I can’t wait to use these preserves and butters! Anyone have ideas what I should do with them?

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Not only did I get to hang out with my parents this weekend, but my nephews Andrew and Fuller, and Fuller’s sweet girlfriend Emily came to town. On Saturday night we all got together at our aunt and uncle’s home and grilled out some delicious burgers. Football may or may not have been involved.

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Do I have the sweetest Maid of Honor, or what? My best friend and maid of honor, Megan, left me this sweet surprise that I came home to this weekend. How adorable is that note pad?!

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It has been far too long since I’ve spent a couple hours in a nail salon, inhaling beautiful fumes and having my paws painted. My mom treated me this Saturday, and I chose You Don’t Know Jacques! by OPI, which seems great for fall!

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That’s all, folks! I hope you guys have a marvelous Monday!