A Great Weekend

Soooooo yeah. Last week was a bit of a bear. We had a crazy, sad, sniffly, sick-tastic week, wherein not only did our poor precious Penny fight off her own dual sicknesses (hand, foot, and mouth disease AND an ear infection), but Sean also caught HFM and I got sick with an undetermined illness of my own (lol cry sob).

Anyway, I am ecstatic to announce that despite last weekend and the first part of the week being sad and sick, we ended up having a really great weekend!

Everyone was feeling so much better by Friday, thank Goodness! We had a playdate with my friend Sami (Penny’s old nanny) and her daughter. We returned home so that Penny could nap, and when she got up I discovered that I CAN FINALLY PUT PENNY’S HAIR INTO A WHALESPOUT AND PIGTAILS!!!!!!

 

They are incredibly thin and tiny and you can barely even see them but they’re totally adorable and I love them. ::star eyes emoji::

So alas, Sean had to work for the first part of Saturday, but Penny and I had plenty to keep us busy! We started out  by heading to the gym for the first time in over a week — yipes. It may not have been my wisest decision to take my first BodyPump class after being sick and sedentary for a week, but I did it! Aaaaaaand I’m ridonkulously sore now but hey, I survived!

 

I’ve been wanting to try BodyPump for a while, since I’ve really been liking lifting weights, and it’s kind of like a cardio weightlifting class? But hot damn, it was hard! Even though you’re lifting relatively light, you’re doing tons of reps and it all moves really quickly. I’m sure it gets easier as you do more classes because you learn what to expect (like with any fitness classes, I’ve found), I just need to make sure I don’t sacrifice proper(ish) form when trying to keep up, because my neck was a little tweaky the next day. I’ll definitely do it again! One of my mama friends belongs to the same gym as me, and does this Saturday morning class a lot, so hopefully having a friend there will help keep me motivated to go, hehe.

Anyway, we had a bit of downtime at home afterwards, then headed to the first birthday for another one of Penny’s little friends, Julianna! It was mermaid themed, and my friend Laura put together a seriously amazing, Pinterest-worthy party. So fun and creative — the clamshell photobooth is something I’m totally filing away for one day when I hopefully get to throw a mermaid-themed party of my own.

 

 

And the partying didn’t end there! That evening we headed to a party with some of Sean’s old college friends. We weren’t sure how long we’d be able to stay what with Penny’s bedtime and all, but she was so chill and happy to play that we ended up staying 2 hours past her bedtime — and she never melted down or anything! She just really didn’t seem tired — she didn’t even fall asleep in the car on the way home until like, 5 minutes before we got back (of course.) And then she slept in until 8:30 Saturday. I mean, miracle kid or what?

 

Finally, we capped off our very nice weekend by heading into DC for brunch Sunday morning. The weather was absolutely gorgeous here yesterday (after literally weeks and weeks of rain) so we also went for a nice walk to enjoy the sunshine. Then finally, our little trio had dinner out at an awesome new Korean BBQ restaurant I’ve been meaning to try for a while! Not a bad weekend at all.

 

In other news, we also had Penny’s 12 month wellness checkup — juuuust a few weeks late, since I didn’t make her appointment in time, lol. Well, actually, I tried to make it like a month before her birthday, but between all the back-to-school physicals and the fact that September is the most popular birth month, a month was not long enough, haha. So, hey, it was more like a 13 month checkup, and since she had been sick, she didn’t even get her shots (she’s going to get them when we go back next week to follow up on her ear infection.)

 

But the good news is that she’s doing great, hitting all her milestones and continuing to dominate the percentile charts! She weighs 22 lbs, 11.3 oz, and is 32 inches tall, which puts her in the 99th percentile for height! (She’s 83rd for weight.) We love our giant girl!

Happy Monday everyone! Here’s hoping we have lots more great weekends like this one on the horizon, because this week is gonna be a doozy. Lots and lots to do, tons of work (including two events), I gotta take my car in to be serviced (something’s wonky with my brake fluid sensor… hopefully… otherwise something’s wrong with my brakes and that would be worse), and I’m trying to start the month off strong fitness wise (I’m doing barre today and have personal training tomorrow.) Plus, therapy tomorrow, two playdates for Penny, and we’re having my parents over for dinner too because, you know, I’m a crazy person. Whew! Better get started!

Breakfast, Onesies, and Technicolor Schnauzers

Well, it’s official: I am twenty-seven years old. Do you think that makes me an adult yet?

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Actually, don’t answer that.

As I mentioned in my last post, I celebrated this year’s birthday with a festive pajama jam breakfast party!

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Instead of my usual MO of putting together a themed excuse to get drunk birthday party, I opted to do someting more low-key and daytime-friendly. So, this year, friends donned their PJs and came over in the AM (well, late AM) for some scrumptious brunch treats!

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I put together a brunch table full of goodies, including a cereal bar, mimosa bar, little breakfast canapes, and even whipped up a batch of waffle iron hashbrowns.

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For the cereal bar, I put out four kinds of cereal (Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch) and four kinds of milks (almond, 2%, chocolate, and skim). In retrospect, I probably should have put out one non-sugar cereal, and skipped the skim milk (which apparently nobody likes, hahaha.)

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The breakfast canapes were made from mini Eggo waffles topped either with whipped cream and a strawberry or brushed with maple syrup and a small piece of bacon. They were the hit of the party! Super delicious and fun to eat.

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The waffle iron hashbrowns were outta this world, too. All you do is pick up a bag of frozen tater tots from the grocery store and pop ’em into the waffle iron. Squish ’em down and let them cook! They get perfectly crisp on all sides and turned out way better than cooking tots in the oven. I am a waffle iron believer now!

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The mimosa bar was a lot of fun, too! I got four different kinds of juices — orange, orange mango, grapefruit, and guava — and had some additional fruit for folks to pop into their glass. I kept the champagne on ice and, voila!

Of course, the very best part of having a breakfast-themed birthday party is the fact that for your cake, well… see for yourself.

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Isn’t it beautiful? Donut cake > regular cake.

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Ta-da! Birthday pajama jam brunch success!

If you’re thinking about doing a breakfast bar for an upcoming event, I say definitely do it! It was really easy to set up (the biggest thing is just having enough pitchers/serving bowls), and of course picking up supplies at the grocery store is easy and relatively inexpensive.

Plus, Pikachu onesie aside, I think it’s a very elegant way to present breakfast/brunch. This sort of thing would be perfect for a bridal shower, baby shower, or mother’s day celebration in addition to birthdays. It would also be really fun to do brinner (breakfast for dinner) for a nighttime party!

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Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that I dyed Daxter and Pixel for the occasion, heeeeeeeee. 😀

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Now they’re ready for Spring! (Don’t worry, I used completely animal-safe, vegetable-based dye.)

And so, alas, my twenty-seventh birthday has come and gone. But something tells me that 27 is going to be my very best year yet. I can’t wait to see what’s to come!

Chocolate Crepes

Mon dieu, mes amis! I am so humbled and flattered by all your support and camaraderie in response to my big job announcement post! You guys really know how to make a girl feel loved, you know that? Well, I’m tossing the love right back your way with an extra special (and extra delicious) new recipe!

You may have seen, from my previous post on crepes, that I have some serious love for these hoity-toity cousins to the good ol’ pancake. I’ve always loved how incredibly easy they are to make something so seemingly impressive. I mean, flour, eggs, milk, sugar… and a little water to thin out the batter. It really doesn’t get much easier than that!

So when Almond Breeze challenged me to come up with another delectable brunch recipe, I knew exactly what direction I would be headed in. Only these fluffy little dreams have one serious new twist to them: CHOCOLATE!

Yes, these sweet-but-not-too-sweet chocolatey crepes will have you singing aloud (probably in French). Eat them plain (they’re delicious on their own!) or stuff ’em full of whatever your heart desires! I went with a raspberry cream filling this time around, but you could honestly do anything! Jam, fruit, more chocolate (you know you wanna)… the possibilities are endless!

Chocolate Crepes

Ingredients:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp sugar (or equivalent of sweetener of your choice)
1/2 cup Chocolate Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk
1/2 cup water
2 eggs (or vegan substitute)
Pinch of salt

Instructions:

1. In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt) with a whisk or fork, making sure to break up any clumps in the cocoa powder.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until yolks and whites are fully combined and are fluffy. Mix in almond milk.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry, and mix together until thoroughly combined. Add water, using additional if you need to thin out the batter even more. You are aiming for a rather thin, drippy consistency.

4. Heat a pan over medium-high heat and grease with butter or nonstick spray. In 1/2 cup increments, drop batter into hot pan and swirl around until the entire bottom area is coated. Cook ~45 seconds, flip, and cook an additional 20 – 30 seconds.

5. Roll your crepes with whatever filling you choose! This time, I whipped up a very quick filling with cream cheese, raspberries, and a dash more of almond milk to thin it out.

6. Bon appetit!

This recipe makes 5 – 6 large crepes (only 5 if you mess the first one up, like I did, haha). And each crepe has only 115 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. Enjoy!

almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

A Christmas (Food) Story

I really do not want to be at work today, she thought with a sigh.

She looked down with disdain at the half-empty styrofoam cup of weak coffee on her desk, already on her second of the morning, and cracked her knuckles to give them respite from their endless plodding on the keyboard. Leaning back in her chair, she let her mind wander back to the deliciousness that had occurred just a few days prior.

Decoratin'

It had started innocently enough with a few, ahem, “accidental” cookie casualties from her family’s annual Christmas cookie decorating and gingerbread house-making extravaganza.

Brickwork

Three Dog Bakery

Cookie Tin

Gingerbread House

But it was Christmas weekend, after all, so this was only the beginning.

"Light" Lunch

Christmas Eve brought a “light” lunch of glazed ham, broccoli slaw, and potato salad.

Snacktastic

And was followed with a snack of grapes, cheese, and crackers that afternoon.

Christmas Eve Fettucine

Before the finale of spinach fettucine and salads with golden beets. So much for her plans to take it easy food-wise on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Brunch

She figured that all the calories she burned ripping through presents the next morning must have helped balance it out somehow… even if they were only to be undone by a Christmas brunch of eggnog pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Of course, all of this was simply a precursor to the real main event: Christmas dinner!

Christmas Plate

Just remembering the dishes from that night was making her mouth water all over again. There was roast beef stuffed with garlic, grilled asparagus, mushroom napoleon, tomato and mozzarella salad with fresh basil, and the best batch of her roasted garlic mashed potatoes she’s ever made.

Roast BeastLoverly
Aspargus'dMushrooms Napolean
CapreseMashed Taters

Incredible, she thought. And the leftovers were fantastic, too.

Asides

The phone on her desk began to bleep mercilessly, jolting her back to the present. The reality was that the past four months days of deliciousness sans-calorie counting had been wonderful, but ultimately left her feeling kind of lousy. She knew that soon she would have to face the music, step back on the scale, and get working on her new year’s resolution (and blog-long goal) to finish out her weight loss.

Still, she thought, at least it’s been one delicious ride.

The Big Apple: Part III

This is the last one, folks, I promise. But if you need to catch up on Part I or Part II of my epic NYC weekend, be sure to check those lengthy posts out, hehe.

So! After the excitement of Harry Potter, How to Succeed, and meeting Mr. Daniel Radcliffe himself, our final day in the Big City was destined to be a little more low-key. We woke up Sunday and only had one thing on the schedule (other than trying not to miss our bus back to DC, that is!):

Meeting up with these lovely ladies for brunch!

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My beautiful friends Steph & Diana – high school buddies from my Taiwan days!

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We met at The Mason Jar, a cute little place with unfortunately slow service but a great brunch menu! Enter my first attempts to make up for the kazillion calories I had consumed throughout the weekend:

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I got an apple salad that had tons of greens, blue cheese (yummm), craisins, and walnuts. Yummm. Brunch also came with a mimosa. Triple yummm! It was awesome getting to catch up with Diana & Steph, even if only for a little while. I forced them to take some pictures with me outside after we finished eating:

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We couldn’t miss out on this classic pose, after all!

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Kekeke.

And with a few sad goodbyes, and the promise that I would be returning soon (I hope!) Steve and I hightailed it to catch our bus back home. ‘Til next time, New York!

And that, as they say, is that! It’s been a busy week since getting back, too, and it’s only Tuesday! Last night I met up with my lovely friend Lizzie for dinner at Rustico in Ballston and worked in a teensy bit of exercise while I was at it. Huzzah!

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I laced up my new New (hehe) Balance sneaks that I was given at the Fitbloggin’ Conference and leashed up the pups to walk ’em over to my parents’ house (0.6 miles).

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I ditched the dogs at Grandma & Grandpa’s at that point, and continued to huff on over to the Metro to head one stop over to meet Lizzie at the Ballston Metro station.

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The path from my parents’ house to the Metro is a hilly little jaunt! Probably about a mile, maybe a little less — it definitely got my heart rate up, so that’s good! I really liked the shoes at first – cushy but supportive. Unfortunately, my incredibly undefined heels kept rubbing up against the back lip of the shoe, and I have some fairly painful blisters on ’em now. Sad! Dinner was great though, so I guess that made up for it.

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In case you didn’t get to see last night’s Daily Eats post, I got a small beet salad to start with (INCREDIBLE!) and the appetizer of mussels in tomato sauce for my entree.

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The mussels also came with two gargantuan breadsticks… which I didn’t totally avoid. Heehee. But, considering the amazing selection of pizzas and pastas that the Rustico menu boasted, I thought my salad + seafood choices were pretty good! And between the walk there and the walk back (picked up the dogs on my way back and hustled on home!) I worked over 3 miles into my day. That’s something, right?

Now that travel and trips and stuff have died down somewhat temporarily, I’m making it a priority to work some kind of exercise and activity back into my routine. Since the Fitbloggin’ 5K my exercise habits have been pretty much nonexistant, I hate to admit. So this is my new goal: do at least 20 minutes of activity every day. Even if this means just getting the dogs out for a quick walk. If it’s 10:30 PM and I realize that I haven’t done anything but sit down and stand up all day, I get off my laurels and DO IT. I figure that if I can work just 20 minutes of something into my day, then maybe I can bump that up to 30 minutes soon. And then maybe to 45! And then I can start ramping up the activity level, impact, etc. Baby steps, baby steps, as always. I’m really reverting back to square one here, in order for me to attempt to establish a real routine. And hey, at least I got my 20 minutes in today!

What’s your exercise routine? How did you establish one? Do you stick to hard & fast times to exercise, and types of activity? Or just do what you feel when the mood strikes? I want to know! I know I’ve said it many, many times before, but I really want to try again. This is still the thing I struggle with most when it comes to embracing a healthy lifestyle, so I need your help! 🙂