Looking Ahead & Reevaluating My Goals

While reviewing my training log in Google Drive on Monday night I realized the Shiner Beer Run was NEXT WEEKEND. Obviously I knew it was soon since we recently flipped the calendar over to November, but  didn’t realize just how close it was until counting long runs between now and race day. Yikes.

Shiner Beer Run

Shiner was supposed to be my 2013 goal race but it’s been downgraded into a training run for Houston in January. We’ve done all of our runs with the dogs (the puppy desperately needs this time to get some energy out) and while the miles have been at a decent pace, we’re still taking breaks every mile or so for the dogs.

dogs on the run

This hasn’t prepared us enough to properly “race” Shiner, so we’ll be using it as a training run. After next weekend, I’m going to start doing treadmill runs during the week to supplement our puppy runs. This way I should be able to get in some speed/hill work that will boost my potential to run a fast race in Houston.

Do I think I’m going to go sub-2 in Houston? No I don’t. And I’m okay with that. It was a lofty goal I hesitated to put out there in the first place – but it’s still a goal.

Do I think I’ll PR in Houston? I’m not sure. My 13.1 PR was set last year after a really strong marathon training cycle. I’m nowhere near that fitness level right now. And I’m okay with that.

Life happens. Things came up that were unexpected (like adopting a super high energy but ridiculously adorable puppy!) and sometimes I chose those things over my running goals. I chose to bring our dogs on all of our runs because I absolutely LOVE exploring Austin with them and how excited they get when I lace up my running shoes.

So, am I disappointed that this 13.1 won’t be the grandiose race I expected it to be? A little bit. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to run strong and enjoy every scenic, hilly mile through the Texas countryside.

There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon and I’m really excited to see what 2014 has up its sleeve.

Day in the Life :: A Walk in My Tuesday Shoes

I’ve seen this topic on a few different blogs over the past couple weeks and thought I’d jump on the bandwagon. Personally I find reading everyone’s schedule very interesting because I love seeing the differences and how others manage their free time. Sometimes I feel there aren’t enough hours in a day so this helps me see what I’m spending the most time on and where I could probably tweak a few things.

3:45am: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze once, die a little inside, crawl out of bed, get changed, leash up the dogs, and head out for a run.

4:15-5:15am: Run for 45-60 minutes

5:15-5:45am: Stretch/cooldown & have a protein shake. While Brad gets ready, I watch a little TV, make us iced coffees and get his lunch together if he needs one. He leaves for work at 5:45.

5:45-6:45am: Shower & get ready for work. Pray the indentation from my headlamp on my forehead goes away soon. Try to convince Sox that going into her crate is the best idea ever. Chase her around the house. Finally tackle her and carry the squirming 48-pound puppy to the crate.


6:45-8:00am: Commute to work. Leaving at 6:45 lately isn’t getting me to work by 8, more like 8:15 or 8:20. Will probably have to push back the time I leave the house by 15 minutes or so. I hate commuting.


8:00-11:00am: Sit down at my desk, take all of my jewelry off. So weird. I don’t know why I still bother wearing a watch or bracelets. Also, is it obvious I love my dogs?


The first hour or so I spend catching up on emails while getting some caffeine in my system and eating breakfast. I work in the Finance department for an online HR software company and at this time of the month most of my day is spent processing vendor invoices, billing current customers, and working on collections.

11:00-11:45am: I almost always eat lunch at my desk. If I don’t have something in the fridge or freezer, I’ll head to Whole Foods Express in the building next door. That can be expensive so I try to keep those trips to a minimum. Sometimes I’ll use my lunch hour to draft a blog post. If I finish (which is very unlike me because it usually takes 2 hours and 400+ edits) then I’ll schedule it to post the following morning. If not, I’ll finish it later that night and then schedule.

12:00-5:00pm: More of the same tasks from the morning, in addition to answering emails, returning phone calls, and attending meetings.

5:00-6:30pm: Commute home. Getting out of work is bittersweet: happy to be done for the day but not excited for the drive.

Commute 2

6:30-7:30pm: Cook & eat dinner. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have dinner on the table by 7, but most of the time it’s closer to 7:30. When we’re done eating, Brad washes the dishes and cleans the kitchen. Always. Without me asking. Because he is awesome.

7:30-8:30pm: We’ll watch a show from the DVR after dinner and play with the dogs for a bit. And most of the time dessert happens in this window too.


8:30-9:30pm: Time for bed! Yep, that early. Sometimes we’ll try to watch another show in bed but Brad is almost always asleep by 9 (with glasses still on and remote in hand) so it’s rare that happens. If I’m still not tired, I’ll watch Friends at 9:30 but more often than not the lights are out by then. A 10pm bedtime means 6 hours of sleep and it’s just not ideal.


And that’s it! Now that I look at it, I guess there really isn’t much wiggle room during the day. Pretty much every minute is accounted for.

This is probably the most interesting to me, so I want to know: What time do you go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning?

The F- Word


Yesterday marked the beginning of a new season. If you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter for 30 seconds lately, there isn’t a doubt in my mind you’ve heard this particular season was just around the corner. Those dreaded PSL (Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, for those who wisely avoid Starbucks) mentions, UGG boot sightings, and chatter about crisp, cool mornings. All things reminiscent of that F- word, otherwise known as…


Since it’s only mid-September, the southern half of the US still has no idea what it’s like to wear long-sleeves or have the desire to go apple picking. I mean, my damn A/C has the electric bill jacked up over $200 and as much as I love seeing Sam Adams Octoberfest in the grocery store, I can’t justify drinking it while sweating. As far as the South is concerned, it’s still summer.

But you see, yesterday while walking out of the garage I felt a breeze cooler than 80 degrees. Hard to believe, but it was even cooler than 70.

Austin Weather

We’ve been hitting the pavement at 4am during the week and the lowest I’ve seen was 75 (and that was with 90% humidity) so this was basically a gift from heaven that didn’t require an absurdly early wakeup call.


The dogs have been running every mile with us and yesterday the plan was to tackle 5 miles with a double out-and-back, which allowed for a swim break at the halfway point. Probably not 100% necessary since the weather was gorgeous but Bo (who hasn’t run 5 miles in 3+ years) definitely picked up the pace on the back half of the run.


It was a quiet morning and the miles were easy. Sox’s head was on a constant swivel since she had never been on the trail before and had to see EVERYTHING, so keeping her focused was interesting. Running in a straight line apparently isn’t something she’s interested in learning quite yet.



Once our miles were done, we spent an hour at Auditorium Shores so the dogs could play and swim a little. Well, Bo did most of the swimming. Sox paced up and down the shoreline a couple hundred times trying to decide if she wanted to get her feet wet. And then…

“Hey Bo … come closer. I want to play.”


“Closer. You’re still too far away.”


“Fine, I’ll come to you.”


“Oh SHIT, I’m going to die!”


“How do I swim?! I’m going to die.”


“I hate you guys. I can’t believe you just sat there and took pictures.”


Needless to say, she didn’t spend a lot of time in the water after that.


Sunday morning got me pretty pumped for fall, but my hopes and dreams were crushed when I saw this week’s forecast:

September Austin Weather

Rude. Just rude.

Welp, that brief glimpse was glorious, but fall is still a mythical creature I’m waiting to encounter. And hopefully sooner than later.

That damn F- word.

Over the Weekend…

… I became legitimately upset when I realized how big Sox is getting. In two months she has gained twenty pounds. Um hi, you can stop that now.

Sox - June vs August

… I donated a ton of clothes to Goodwill. In Florida I always had great luck with selling a few things to Plato’s Closet, but it seems since I stopped dressing in Hollister and A&F they’re no longer interested in my clothes. So I dropped two garbage bags off at our Goodwill store on Sunday morning.

… my Erin Condren planner came in the mail. I had been tracking its whereabouts on the USPS website incessantly and was stoked when it arrived slightly ahead of schedule. There’s a few issues I have with it but it’s only because I’m comparing it to last year’s edition. Here are my thoughts:

– The cover isn’t as sturdy. It’s still more durable than most planners on the market, but I noticed a difference right out of the box.

– The coil doesn’t appear to be made of the same material, causing the pages to catch slightly when you turn them. Maybe it just needs to be broken in. I honestly can’t remember if this was something I noticed last year, but want to say no.

– The color on the cover doesn’t extend all the way to the coil. When I designed the cover, I requested a black background. Well, the black stops just before the coil and you can see the first page of the planner through the cover. Nitpicking? Probably.

95% of the planner is exactly the same and the issues I have are purely cosmetic – not a huge deal. The pages inside are nearly identical to last year’s edition, with the addition of a section on the bottom of the weekly pages for meal planning or workout scheduling. I actually really like that feature because in the past I’d use the ‘night’ section to meal plan or jot down notes about a blog post.

Erin Condren Planner

… I put booze in my cupcakes. Yep, you read that correctly. Jenna posted a recipe for Chocolate Cake with Pinot Noir Frosting on Friday and she had me at Pinot Noir. I couldn’t frost a cake properly if you paid me a million bucks so I opted to go the cupcake route instead. And the “drink-wine-with-cupcakes” route.


… this Caramelized Onion, Gruyere, and Pepper Bacon Pizza also came out of my kitchen. Note: this recipe is not for the starving and impatient. I begged the onions to caramelize faster pretty much the entire time, but you and I both know that didn’t happen. Worth the wait though! I also added chopped sun-dried tomatoes and crushed red pepper flakes. One of these days I’ll make a recipe the way it was intended. Wait. No I won’t.

… I made Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Cream Cheese. We’re pretty much obsessed with the Einstein Bros version so when I realized I had a ton of sun-dried tomatoes in the fridge (hence the addition in the aforementioned pizza) it only made sense to whip up a batch from scratch. It’s even BETTER than Einstein Bros. So good.

… we finished the first season of Chicago Fire. We hardly watch any shows during the summer (with the exception of Burn Notice, which is in its last season anyway) so we took advantage of a free month of HuluPlus by getting caught up on CF.


We watched the final 3 episodes of the season (including the finale) in May and had NO FREAKING CLUE what was going on. So now we’re all caught up and ready for the next season to start in September. Also: Taylor Kinney, who plays Kelly Severide, is dating Lady Gaga. AND was in her music video for “You & I”.  Mind = Blown.

… the dogs enjoyed two full mornings at the park.



And then two full afternoons of napping (and sometimes in my lap)


Swimming and chasing other dogs is strenuous stuff. I can’t imagine how difficult their lives must be. Poor things.

Finish this sentence: Over the weekend ________________________.

The One with Justin Moore, Independence Brewing, and the Nuun Giveaway Winner

This past weekend was one of the busiest we’ve had in a long time. It started off slow with an uneventful 4th of July. We spent the afternoon sitting in our neighbor’s driveway in lawn chairs drinking Bud Light cans {aka how Texas does Independence Day} and I made these amazing chicken cheesesteaks for dinner. Not the standard 4th BBQ-esque meal, but they were REALLY good. But how could they not be good, hello – QUESO.

Chicken Quesosteak


Anyway, Brad, Sox, and I watched the fireworks from the back patio while Bo hid from them under the bed in our guestroom. Poor guy. Sox didn’t seem phased by the loud noises at all so hopefully she won’t end up afraid of fireworks like Bo.

dog under the bed

Friday I opted not to dip into my PTO and worked from home. Pretty sure 90% of my office (and most of our clients) took the day off, so it was pretty slow. At 5 we headed down to San Antonio for a concert.

Justin Moore - Cowboys Dancehall

We bought the tickets for this show pre-Sox. Generally we stay the night but didn’t want to leave her locked up in the crate for that long, so we decided to drive back home after the concert ended. San Antonio is only about 90 minutes away – not horrible.


I hadn’t read or heard anything about an opener and expected the headliner to start around 9:30 or 10. But at 10:30, the house band took the stage. And everyone around us was pretty damn hammered. Since we were driving back, we only had a couple beers each and stopped drinking around 10. This made the drunk people around us SUPER annoying.

Just after 11, Justin Moore came on. It took a little while to find a spot (tickets are General Admission) that wasn’t overrun by screaming teeny boppers, obnoxious drunk dudes, or people in front of me who were pushing 7 feet tall. But once we got situated, it was an awesome show! Easily in the top 3 country concerts I’ve been to.


By the time we got out of there and on the road, it was almost 1:30am and I was beat. We stopped for gas and I grabbed a small coffee so I’d be able to stay awake and keep Brad company as he drove home. We crawled into bed shortly after 3.

Sox was wide awake and ready to play just a few hours later at 6am. She clearly doesn’t understand that weekends are for sleeping in. Is this what having a child is like? Because I still have no interest in having one. Ever. We had plans to go to the First Saturday event at Independence Brewery so we drank copious amounts of coffee, packed up the dogs, and headed for South Austin.

Independence Brewing Co

The brewery holds this event the first Saturday of every month. You pay $10 for a wristband and get a pint glass + 3 full-sized beers. There’s live music, food trucks, and you can bring your dogs. Pretty sweet deal.




We were slightly unprepared since it was eleventy billion degrees outside and didn’t bring a pop-up tent (which we don’t own – minor detail) but one kind man offered us a spot under his spare tent. SO NICE!


Our dogs became fast celebrities. Everyone wanted to meet them, pet them, and know if Sox was Bo’s daughter.






On our way home we stopped at the park so the pups could swim a little bit and when we got home around 6, our evening looked like this:


I think we were in bed that night before 8. It was definitely still light out but couldn’t imagine staying awake another minute. Three hours of sleep had finally caught up with me.

Sunday morning Sox woke up at 6:30 (which was SLIGHT improvement from the day before but nowhere near the 8am I’d prefer) and we headed to the dog park at 7.









Oh and this “puppy” of ours has gained 9 pounds in the month since we rescued her. She’s probably going to grow up to be a horse, just like Bo.

I spent that afternoon in the kitchen cooking and baking a million things, followed by a bunch of a laundry, cooking dinner, and then another early bedtime.  This weekend was the exact opposite of my recent ‘laziest weekend ever’ but somehow we didn’t spend a ton of money AND I felt fully rested Monday morning. I’ll take it!

PS. I swear this isn’t going to turn into a puppy blog. I just registered for my fall race and will have details (and the training plan!) posted later this week! Melissa DOES still run.

And now for the Get Your Nuun On :: A Nuun Hydration Giveaway winner!

Nuun Giveaway

And the winner is…

Nuun Giveaway Winner

Danielle from It’s a Harleyyy Life! Please email me your mailing address + flavor choice to melissaliciatx {at} gmail.com and we’ll get that 4-pack of Nuun out to you ASAP!

Thanks to everyone who entered! Don’t forget you can still use discount code hydrateHTC on Nuun’s website for 15% off!

Tuesday Things

1. I registered for my first 2014 race.

Austin 2014

Using that word “register” fairly loosely considering I didn’t have to put out a dime for next year’s Austin Half. Race organizers were trying to bring in some more registrations (possibly down due to their previous title sponsor and Lance’s PED scandal in the media – that’s just my opinion though) so they ran a BOGO one-day deal: register for the 2013 race and they would comp your entry into 2014.

Austin Marathon One-Day Deal

Brad and I jumped on that IMMEDIATELY. For once in my life, procrastination paid off. I don’t expect that to happen again. Ever.

In any case, this race is one of my favorites in town and I’m excited to run it for the 4th year in a row!


2. I entered the lottery for another race in 2014.


I went back and forth on this one probably a billion times. It falls on the same day as 3M, which has the fastest half marathon course in Austin and is where my current 13.1 PR is from. As much as I’d love to run 3M again, I was itching to try something new. Obviously running Houston will be a little more expensive since it requires a hotel stay and 3-hour drive, but the change of scenery will be worth it.

And if my luck plays out the way it does 99.9% of the time, I won’t get selected in the lottery and will be running the 3M Half Marathon for its 20th Anniversary.

Either way I’ll be racing on January 19, 2014. Location: TBD.

3. I’ve become slightly concert obsessed.

I’ve seen more concerts in the past six months than I have in probably my entire life. It started last fall when I saw Jason Aldean & Luke Bryan in San Diego. Holy crap. SO MUCH FUN. Country concerts are so much better than most Top 40 artists because they actually sound the same as they do on the radio.

615971_10100183422831305_388190108_oWe came back from San Diego and immediately bought tickets to see Brantley Gilbert in October. And Easton Corbin in November. And Chris Cagle in December. It helps that the venue we go to sells tickets for $8-12 so it’s not like we’re breaking the bank.


Then in March the Austin Rodeo happened. We saw Kip Moore one weekend and Gary Allan the next.




Last weekend we saw George Strait, Miranda Lambert, and Martina McBride put on a killer show in San Antonio. And two days later I bought tickets to see Justin Moore in July. And the day after we jumped at the chance to get tickets for Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert at the new Austin 360 Amphitheater in September. Then in October we’re going to see Jason Aldean, Jake Owen, and Thomas Rhett in Dallas.

AND! I saw Fallout Boy at Stubbs on Sunday night. They don’t quite fit in the country genre but the show was A LOT of fun.




Hi Pete Wentz.

So yeah. I may need a concert intervention at some point. But it’s so hard to say no when tickets are only ten bucks!

4. We added a new member to our family.


Meet Sox! We’ve been talking about getting another dog for quite awhile now and finally pulled the trigger on it this week. I freakin’ love her. How cute is that face?! I’m fully aware it might be less cute when she starts chewing on my running shoe collection. But for now … how cute is that face?!


Bo isn’t too sure what he thinks of Sox yet. Probably has something to do with him being 104 pounds and her only being 10. She’s basically a toy.


Our love for the Red Sox isn’t apparent at all. {Boston Red Sox}

5. I’m flabbergasted over this “Tebow to the Pats” announcement.

I have no doubt that Belichick has a plan up his sleeve, but I’m still in the WTF phase of acceptance.

Twitter   Interactions

That seems about right.

Maybe in signing Tebow Belichick & Brady can get some inside info from him. Like why God hates the #Patriots so much in recent years.

And that too. Find out for us, would ya Tebow? K thanks.

It Must Be Incredible

One thing I excelled at over the long weekend (besides putting a significant dent in the second season of Grey’s Anatomy) was spending time in the kitchen. In fact, I spent most of Saturday either in front of the Kitchen Aid mixer or with Santoku knife in my hand.

Bo the Spoiled Dog received another batch of treats made from scratch.

Bo the Dog

This time they were a mix of sweet potatoes, apple sauce, chicken broth, whole wheat flour, and cinnamon. Pretty sure he prefers this batch to last week’s, which doesn’t surprise me. Of course Bo would like the ones that were the hardest to make. The recipe measurements need a little tweaking, but the ingredients were definitely a winning combination.

I’ve been promising Brad a batch of cupcakes since I returned from New Jersey but couldn’t decide what kind. Finally we settled on Banana Bread Cupcakes with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting. Oh and they had a pretzel crust on the bottom.


They were heavenly. And we’re not sharing.

For dinner I made 40 Cloves of Garlic Chicken, which for the record – yes, it really DOES require 40 cloves of garlic and it IS as big of a pain in the ass as it sounds. But it’s really freaking good. As a side dish, I created a fontina and chive polenta. Whoa. Not sure why I never tried this combination before. Usually I go the goat cheese route, but I think this is a new favorite. Actually no, I don’t think. I KNOW it’s a new favorite.

After a long day of cooking on Saturday, we enjoyed leftovers on Sunday and I enjoyed not having to set a foot in the kitchen.

And then today rolled around. I wanted to cook a BBQ-esque meal for Memorial Day dinner.


I’m not interested in traditional hotdogs and hamburgers. Aside from the fact that I absolutely loathe hotdogs, I do NOT do traditional. Or homestyle. Or simple. Whether I’m loosely following a recipe or making the dish up as I go, the food that comes out of the kitchen must NOT be average.

It must be incredible. Mind-blowing, even. Just ask Brad. He knows I don’t mess around.

So our Memorial Day dinner will consist of Roasted Tomato, Pesto, and Mozzarella Burgers

Caprese Burgerssource

with a side of Bourbon Bacon Baked Beans

Bourbon Bacon Baked Beanssource

The beans require 12+ hours of simmering in the crockpot, so needless to say sleeping in didn’t happen this morning. Earlier I whipped up a batch of fresh pesto and currently grape tomatoes are roasting beautifully in the oven for the burgers.

I have a feeling dinner tonight will be anything but average.

Memorial Day

This Memorial Day, let us not forget those who sacrificed their lives for our country. We’re a land of the free because of the brave. Today we honor America’s fallen heroes.

Gatsby, Summer Brews, and an Unplanned DNS

My first DNS. Not even mad about it.

By the time I headed home from work on Friday, I knew the weekend was going to be shot. Our annual client conference was last week and after three non-stop days, my whole body was tired and my brain was fried. I managed to get laundry done as soon as I walked in the door Friday night but after that? I spent a sweet 24 hours alternating between the bed and the couch.


At the beginning of the week I realized that there might be a chance I’d need to miss this year’s Spartan Race in Burnet. Neither of us were too upset about it considering Brad’s back has been on the verge of going out lately and my work schedule was going to slip me into a state of exhaustion that would make climbing 10-foot walls and carrying cinderblocks incredibly difficult. When I woke up Saturday morning and could barely get out of bed, I knew skipping the race was the best decision we could have made.

Gatsby and the Growler

I wasn’t exaggerating at all when I said I spent 24 hours in the horizontal position. Stupid me in my “mid-conference-the-weekend-is-almost-here” haze bought us tickets to the 10pm showing of the Great Gatsby on Saturday night. Brilliant, Melissa. Just brilliant. I finally peeled myself off the couch at 4pm to shower, only to get into bed afterwards until 8:15. And THEN I got ready to go out.


As usual, we went to the Alamo Drafthouse for the movie. It makes no sense for us to go to the movies if the theater doesn’t offer beer and fried pickles. What? You don’t bring a beer growler to the movie theater with you? You’re missing out. And doing it wrong.


From what I heard, the Great Gatsby received mixed reviews. We’ve been waiting for the damn thing to come out since last summer so we were going to see it regardless. The verdict? It was really good! I will say this: if you thought the movie itself was going to be as fast paced as the trailers they released, then it’s understandable why you were disappointed. As much as it pains me to say this, Leonardo DiCaprio (NOT his biggest fan) did a great job as J.Gatsby. Some people complained there was too much partying and too much boozing. I think it portrayed the 20s pretty accurately. Bottom line: don’t always trust the critics!

Great Gatsby

Sunday and Summer Brews

9am came awfully fast on Sunday and the only thing that got me out of bed was the beeping sound coming from the coffeemaker when it was done brewing. It took half a pot of coffee and three hours for me to finally get a grocery list together. Then I remembered we actually needed to leave the house in order to get the grocery shopping done. Super depressing realization.

Thirty minutes and $125 later, we emerged from HEB unscatched, despite the post-church crowd that nearly ran both of us over with their carts multiple times. Something very exciting came out of the trip:

Sam Adams Beers of SummerAh yes, it’s that time of year again. No, not variety pack season. That happens EVERY season, especially in our house. But it’s time for the Sam Adams Summer Variety Pack! I only had a couple and will say that Blueberry Hill wasn’t my favorite (too fruity) but so far so good on the rest.


Spoiling the Dog

While I savored the last few hours of one of the laziest weekends ever, I decided to make Bo some dog treats from scratch. On Friday night’s episode of Shark Tank there was an 11-year old boy who started a company that made all-natural dog treats. Surely if HE could do it, then I could do it too. (Make the treats, not start a company. Let’s not get crazy.)

Brad searched the internet for common ingredients while I covered the kitchen in flour and cinnamon. Why are those two so messy?!  Anyway, I used an (unmeasured) mix of whole wheat flour, eggs, cinnamon, salt, pumpkin, and peanut butter for the treats, and then baked in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.


They tasted pretty plain to me, but Bo LOVED them. He proceeded to lick the floor for 10 minutes afterwards to make sure he cleaned up all the crumbs. Think we can call that a success, yes?


As I mentioned above, this weekend might go down in history as one of the laziest ever: skipped a race, slept all day, saw a movie, and had a few beers. My body is still convinced it needs another day of recovery to make up for the lost sleep last week.

Or maybe it’s just Monday.

LDW Wrap-up & September Changes

I’d be hard pressed to think of a long weekend that was more relaxing than this one. It consisted of a ton of cooking, three coffee-fueled trips to the dog park, adult beverages, and sleeping in. Sounds terrible, right?

Here’s an Instagram tour of the weekend:

Caprese Spaghetti Squash

Bo and American Mastiff

Bo Dolphin

3 Olives Loopy

Beer and Wine

The final meal of the weekend was inspired by a recipe from The Wannabe Foodie: Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese. Because I have a realllyyyy hard time following directions, I revamped the recipe as follows:

  • 1 container DePasquales fresh pasta (or 1 box gemelli) 1 box Ancient Harvest Quinoa Veggie Curls
  • 1 cup butternut squash puree pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons fat free half and half
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth vegetable broth
  • 1 heaping tablespoon 1/3 fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese smoked gouda
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup onions, sliced thinly leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1 glove garlic, sliced thinly or grated
  • 1 large crispy apple, grated
  • 4 tablespoons crumbled bacon
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage fresh basil
  • freshly grated Fontina for garnish

Did you think I was exaggerating when I said “revamped”?

I knew I’d end up omitting the bacon so I wanted to add something to enhance the flavor of the dish a little. The smoked gouda was perfect for that. I think it would definitely be better with bacon BUT if you’re a vegetarian, this recipe is still a homerun. Make it. You won’t regret it. I’ll be happily eating leftovers all week.

Pumpkin Quinoa Pasta with Smoked Gouda and Apples

So back to that whole vegetarian thing. Yesterday I mentioned we were embarking on a meat-free journey for the month of September. I’m trying to broaden our horizons when it comes to meals so this will force me to try a few new (to me) things, like spaghetti squash. Cooking is something I’m really passionate about and I think this month will really push me outside my comfort zone and get a little creative.

I used to be a vegetarian so this isn’t a “see if I can last a month without bacon” challenge. I know I can do it, and physically (and mentally) feel better when following a plant-based diet. I’d like to get back to that point. Brad is joining me for the month, but may not stick to it 100%. If he wants meat, he says he’ll cook it himself. And once that calendar flips over to October 1st I’m sure he’ll go running back to his carnivorous ways. As for me? I wouldn’t be surprised if I remained an ovo-lacto. We shall see.

Are you a vegetarian? If no, have you followed a plant-based diet in the past?

Link to your favorite vegetarian recipes below!  {please&thankyou}

What I’ve Been Up To

Merry {belated} Christmas!


I’ve been pretty much “unplugged” for the past week and it was glorious! Sometimes you just need to take a little time for yourself.

Leslie and I met up at Brushy Creek on rainy and cold Christmas Eve morning. The weather may not have been ideal but the company was great and we chatted the whole time, making the 4 mile run pass by fairly quickly.

I spent the remainder of Saturday planted on the couch watching football with a mimosa in hand.



I’m heading into week 2 of the fantasy football championship down by 2 points. Not happy.

Saturday night I recreated Carrabbas’ Chicken Bryan dish for dinner, and then we watched Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who and Jim Carrey as the Grinch in ``How the Grinch Stole Christmas.''

Christmas morning we each opened our gifts and sent Bo on a treasure hunt to find his present.


Only a few short hours later it looked like this:


Then we feasted on eggs benedict and popped open another bottle of champagne for mimosas.


Around 4pm we switched from mimosas to wine and got started on dinner.

On the menu: Spinach Salad with Pears, Candied Walnuts, and Blue Cheese.


Followed by Ribeyes with Burgundy Butter and Garlic Stuffed Hasselback Potatoes with Herbed Sour Cream. Heavenly.


It was such a relaxing day and an absolutely great first Christmas together!

Monday was the 2nd Annual Operation Jack Satellite Run.


I covered the 10k distance in 1:13 and then tacked on a bit more to round it out at 8 miles. I didn’t PR, nor was it the most enjoyable run I’ve ever done (due to the mimosas & wine the day before), but I went out there and got it done.


And for that, I get a medal.