Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend re-cap and April goal wrap-up

In true weekend fashion, this weekend flew by. There was a lot to catch up, but we accomplished a lot and mixed in fun and family time, too. I was super surprised to return home from work on Friday to a beautifully mowed lawn/pruned bushes, as well as a completely re-chipped backyard {our backyard is too shaded for grass, so instead of dirt/mud, we have wood chips which need to be refilled about once/year - see picture below!}. Despite feeling tired from a hard week at work, as well as keeping an eye on Valentino since he stayed home with him, Vic had seriously busted his butt to make our yard look much, much nicer! Once I got home, we went to Home Depot to buy some trim to complete the neat-ness of our yard, then we enjoyed a pizza dinner at Amante Pizza {so good!}, followed by a stroll through Fresh Market and a delicious cookie for each of us. It was a simple, but very nice evening.

The boy LOVES to help out around the house!
After a horrible night of sleep - Valentino was very restless; he woke up twice {1AM and 3AM}desperately wanting to watch cartoons - Saturday started off with an exhilirating 7 mile run {~1:15, which is sub-11 min/mile - albeit slow, it makes me happy} while Vic finished installing the trim in the backyard. It was a cool, cloudy day, so a trip to the mall was in order. We strolled around and I ended up finding a few things for Valentino at 77 kids {my favorite place to shop for him!}. I also needed more Optimum Nutrition protein powder, so I picked some up on sale at GNC. When we got home, Valentino and I planted the impatiens in the front garden bed, as well as his zinnias in the yogurt cup ;-) We ended the night with Chipotle - double chicken burrito for him, chicken burrito bowl with brown rice for me, leftover pasta for the kid.

Sunday morning, I had grand plans to be super mom - clean the house like crazy, do all the week's shopping, take Valentino to the library, prep food for the week, bake muffins. Let's just say I did half of that. I was exhausted from staying up too late and I had a splitting headache made worse by a mischevious little boy. I did dishes and laundry, then we headed to Old Navy and Target to do some shopping. I got some serious deals at both places. For $42 at ON, I picked up 5 pairs of socks, 2 tanks, and 2 tees for Valentino, plus a super cute dress for me. At Target, I signed up for the Target RED debit card {where you get 5% off of your purchase when you use it - score!} on top of coupons and I ended up saving over $22 {on things I would've purchased without the discounts anyway}. After dropping off the groceries and eating lunch outside, Valentino and I stopped at the library to return/pick up books - the kid LOVES the library! We came home and I literally worked up a sweat cleaning up the house - putting away winter clothes, rearranging drawers, folding 83,209 articles of clothing - washing dishes, vacuuming, cleaning up toys. It all needed to be done so bad - none of us could stand all the clutter and "projects-in-waiting" that were hanging out in every corner of my house. All in all, YES - there was/is/will always be more that needs to be done in our house. BUT, it's presentable and usable for now.

On the eating front: This is day two of being super strict, sticking to a "plan." Yesterday I was so conscious of everything I ate. Grilled chicken for dinner instead of hot dogs. No popcorn/cookies/food while watching TV. I went to bed hungry - stomach growling HUNGRY. I know that's what I need to do to lose the lbs though. So far today has also been successful, and I am VERY committed to staying "clean" {okay, now I totally sound like an addict. a food addict, that is}.

Today I have a 4.5 mile run scheduled after work, then we're having a grilled turkey breast, mashed potatoes, and broccoli for dinner.

Since it's the last day of April, I'll wrap-up my goals:
  1. Lose at least 5lbs. In progress... I'm down about 2, but that's from Saturday morning until now. I don't really count that.
  2. Keep to the 1/2 marathon training schedule. Partial success... I've stayed on schedule with my long distance runs on Saturdays {even while on vacation}, and for the most part I've done 2 additional runs/week, so I'm mostly keeping up. BUT, my intention was to totally stick to the plan.
  3. Add money to savings. SUCCESS! I've added a fair amount each paycheck, and I smile in pride when I see our savings account balance. YAY!
  4. Get stuff DONE. SUCCESS! I purchased a calendar to use for meal planning, and so far we've stuck to it. I put away our winter clothes. I planted flowers. All small things, but it feels good to get them DONE and off the list. Still on that list - get my car fixed. Doh.
Tomorrow I'll post May's goals -- after I brainstorm what they should be :-)

"If it's important to you, you will find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse."

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Love!

Four things I'm loving this week:

1. Strawberry pickin' season is here! Strawberries are my favorite fruit, and NC strawberries are some of the best berries I've ever had! If it doesn't rain tomorrow, I'm hoping to head out the fields and pick a bucket full. I've pinned several strawberry-based recipes, and I'm planning on freezing berries to use in smoothies and w/yogurt. YUM!

2. Planting season is also here! Well, it has been for a couple weeks now... but I'm planning on getting in on it this weekend. I have a flat of impatiens that need to be planted out front, and I'm contemplating planting some vegetables in containers. Valentino also has the planting bug - he asked me to clean out one of his yogurt cups last week so that he could plant a flower in it! Then we picked out a packet of yellow zinnia seeds to plant in it. I love that he's so interested in such a wide array of things. Vic and I are also planning on adding some edging to our front garden bed, which should be an fun task. Not.

3.  IKEA inspirations. I have a deep aching to go to IKEA. It killed me last weekend that we were within an hour drive of IKEA, but we couldn't go {no space to bring anything home - boo!}. I have been pining over some shelving and a new entertainment center solution to spruce up a very empty wall in our living room. I'm hoping that we can go to the Charlotte IKEA soon... it's only a 2.5 hour drive {ha}. Until then, I will keep preparing a mental list of things I want to buy...

4. A new found interest in saving money. In my last post, I stated that my coffee habit was costing too much $. I'm embarrassed at the amount of money that I've spent on coffee when it could be going towards something more useful and fun, like our upcoming vacation or our savings fund. I feel the same way when we eat out (which we do a lot). Like I said, I plan on cutting out the coffee and soda, and planning/cooking meals at home more often. Why waste money on silly things? I also want to seek out online coupons more, and try to shop our local supermarket sales when they have good specials {like Harris Teeter's double coupon sale this past week - they doubled coupons up to $1.98!}.

Speaking of spending money, I actually purchased a few clothing items for myself yesterday - a dress, cardigan, tank, and a shirt, all for less than $45 {thanks, Target!}. I also picked up a cute throw pillow for our couch {$10} and some $1 mother's day cards {score!}. I LOVE Target {don't we all?!}, and I feel that I was frugal with my purchases - everything was on sale, and each was something that was *somewhat* needed.

4 mile run {43:19} last night, and a 7 mile run scheduled for tomorrow. Last night I also started my mypublisher photo books! So easy and fun, and I can't wait to see the finished product!

Looking forward to a lovely weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Baby steps

Thank goodness this has been a short week. Though travelingand road trips are fun, they are tiring and leave much laundry and *mess* to betaken care of afterwards, plus you lose a weekend of productivity. It’s worthit to get away, but since becoming a full-fledged adult, I now totally understand “needing a vacation from your vacation,” no matter how short said vacation is.

Sticking to my training plan has been a flop as of recently (which is becoming a horrible trend…). I ran Tuesday night {4 miles, 43:33},but so far that is it. I plan on running 4.5 miles after work today as long as the rain holds off. Tomorrow I hope to either attend 5:45am spin class or hop on my bike after work for a session on the hills. Saturday morning will be my long run for the week – 7 miles, which will be the longest I’ve ever run. I’m actually really excited about reaching that milestone!

With May just days away, I’m feeling the “summer’s coming” pressure. I’m not losing weight and I’ve really begun to accept the fact that I need to make some major changes, starting in the food department. I am a classic “boredom eater,” – when I’m bored, my mind immediately tricks me into thinking I need to occupy my mouth. Having a sedentary job, this happens often, and even though I snack on “healthy” foods, they’re all calories in the end.

I saw this last night on pinterest and I was really inspired:

If you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.

{For me, I want a firmer body – something I’ve never had – so I need to do things – exercise more/better and eat less/better – I’ve never done}

Even though, for me, that quote would apply more for the exercise portion of my life, it’s sparking me to make some eating changes {I’ll cover the exercise portion in another post – I have an exciting, but scary, plan!}.

First, I’m trying to really scale back what and how often I eat. So far:

·        I’ve moved my morning yogurt from 10am to lunchtime. I’m not sure that when I eat the yogurt is that important, but I’m trying to train myself to not NEED something between breakfast and lunch.
·        I’ve been chewing a lot more gum, especially when the munchies hit.

Initially, I want to:

·        Give up eating after dinnertime too – no evening snacks while watching TV NO MATTER WHAT. {no popcorn!} Up until the past couple years, this wasn’t an issue – I never ate in front of the TV. I blame Vic for getting me addicted to popcorn!
·        Quit carbonated drinks {particularly soda}altogether. Yes, they are delicious, but on top of empty calories or artificial sweeteners, they make me feel bloated and gassy. No thanks!
·        Quit coffee. I didn’t start regularly drinkingcoffee until I started working at my current job. Once I was working full time (and taking care of a young child after work on my own), I needed something toget me through the day – coffee was it! Now, it’s a daily habit that costs $$ (such a waste!) and isn’t all that great for my body, even though I get NF/SF lattes. I only drink ~1 “cup”/day, so it’s not a constant thing, but I don’t want to do it anymore. I have some packets of Starbucks VIA iced coffee at home. Once those are gone, I really want to be done w/coffee for good.
·        Brush my teeth right after dinner, to hopefully ward off after-dinner snacking.

On a long-term basis, my plan is to:

·        Eat more “cleanly” by eliminating a lot of processed foods and sugar from my {and my family’s} diet.
·        Incorporate more vegetables into my diet. I struggle with this a lot because I literally gag on many raw vegetables, and there are few cooked vegetables that I will tolerate.
·        Reduce the amount of meat my family consumes.This will be a challenge, as chicken is typically the center of all our meals. Personally,I would love to be meat-free. I don’t especially care for it {I already don’t eat beef – so I’d have to eliminate poultry and pork}.
·        Cook dinner at home at least 5 days/week. I purchased a wipe-off calendar yesterday to aid me in meal planning. I’m already psyched to plan and pre-prepare our meals for this coming week!

On the non-weightloss/exercise-related front, while skimming livingsocial and groupon for deals on a family photographer {anyone have some affordable photojournalistic-style suggestions?}, I came across a deal for - $19 for a DeluxePhoto Book. I've nixed the idea of having prints made of all our photos, then stuffing them into albums - they're so bulky, and in the end - expensive! Ever since hearing about mypublisher on YHL, I've decided that creating yearly "yearbooks" of our family pictures is the best idea. Now I just have to get on that for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


This needs to stop being me:

Yesterday = workout bust. I did however, grocery shop, scrub my tub and do laundry - that counts for something, no?

Today I'm hoping to fit in a 4.5mi run after work, make dinner (spaghetti!), and put away all our winter clothes - I think we're in the clear now, and hopefully there won't be any super cold snaps!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Late Friday Love Post

My little family and I were on the road this past Friday (headed to Southern MD to visit family), so I didn't get a chance to post my "Friday Love." Without further adieu:

Four things I (was) loving this (past) Friday:

1. Visiting Family. Valentino has three cousins - 2 older boy cousins (8 and 11 years old) who live in Maryland from Vic's side, and 1 girl cousin (3), who lives in Michigan and is from my side. He doesn't get to see any of them very often, so it's always exciting when the opportunity to get them together presents itself. We were invited up to Vic's brother's house in Maryland, so we spent the weekend hanging out with family. Valentino was a shadow to the boys (as well as his Uncle John!), and he was spoiled with attention and gifts. We all had nice time catching up and Valentino was not at all ready to come home.

Valentino riding his cousin's Gator
2. Keepin' on. After a successful start to the week, Wednesday-Friday were a bust. I'll admit it. BUT I was committed to completing this week's weekend run on Hal's plan. Thankfully, it called for me to enter a 5k... since we were away at my BIL's house, I didn't do that, but I did run just slightly over the 5k race distance on Saturday morning (~3.74miles). It felt great to get the run in and not use being on "vacation" as an excuse.

3. Enthusiasm for menu planning. I've read several great ideas for menu planning, and I've decided to take the plunge into long-term menu planning. I feel that I'm in tune with our schedule and what we like to eat, so I'm going to use some fore-thought to shop smarter and plan better, which I'm hoping will slim down our food expeditures. I'll start by purchasing a dry-erase calendar for the kitchen, and writing down our meals so that I have a clear visual of my planning (and Vic can easily look at the board to see what we're having and how he can help).

4. My love runneth over. Sometimes I look at my sweet, thoughtful, beautiful son and I can't believe he even exists. He is truly the most perfect thing I've ever encountered in my life. His love of learning, his creativity and zest for music, and the way he can make us laugh and smile is amazing. I feel so lucky that I've been blessed with this little man.

Rockin' out with a microphone

Today I'm feeling glum, and I'm not sure why. I'm pretty sure this post (which I read first thing this morning) is to blame. I really wish there was some way to make it work for us, but at this point in our lives, it just wouldn't. The drive to get to that point is strong, and my wheels are always turning to figure out how to make it work, though :-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fitness Update

Workouts since I last posted about working out... (last Wednesday - I'm a slacker):

Wednesday and Thursday - nada. I was zapped.
Friday: All intentions on going to a cycling class at 5:45 at the Y. That didn't happen, but an 11 mile (51 minute) hill session did!
Saturday: Seriously active day. 6 mile run (1:21 - pathetically slow), followed by a 2 mile (at least) hike, then a 1 mile fast walk back to our car, THEN lunch and walking around Cameron Village. Great day outside!

My boy and I on our hike

Sunday: "Rest" day. If you count running errands all day and entertaining a 4-year old boy and cleaning the house "REST."

This week is off to a good start. Monday was supposed to be a 4 mile day, but it was rather warm (and let's be honest - my favorite sports bra was dirty!), so I swapped Monday and Tuesday's workouts and only ran 2 miles (in about 21 minutes). It's weird that 2 miles seems so quick and "easy" now! Tuesday was 4 miles (~47 minutes), which was pretty difficult - I was tired from working all day, plus it was fairly warm out. I was a sweaty mess at the end.

Unfortunately I'm facing the monthly bloat and both the scale and my clothes are reminding me at the moment, on top of my ravenous appetite. But I'm trying to keep myself in check - if I can get through this, the rest of the month should be smooth-sailing!

Here's to keeping up the momentum!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday LOVE!


Four things I'm loving about this week:

1. The return of busy-ness at work. Call me crazy, but I definitely prefer to be busy at work. To me, sitting at a desk in a cubicle all day with nothing but "busy work" to do is so mentally draining and discouraging. In the past two weeks, my workload has significantly increased to include the tasks I most enjoy, which in turn has made my days fly by!

2. Feeling better. See #1. Add in sunshine, work-out endorphins, and better eating and you get a better-feeling me. Hoping this upswing continues!

3. Planning a summer trip. I started getting really excited for our upcoming summer trip to Michigan and Buffalo. At the end of June, we'll be hitting the road for a week of traveling! We're going to spend about 4-5 days in MI with my family (whom we haven't seen since December 2009), then head east to the other side of Lake Erie (Buffalo, NY) to visit the area for the first time since Vic's mom passed in March 2010. Valentino is at such a fun age, so I know he's going to soak up everything we do, and I can't wait for him to meet some of his family, as well as see where his mommy and daddy grew up. This will be our first week-long trip since he was 2 years old (when we spent a week in VA Beach). Even though we're not doing anything extra-ordinary, I think it's going to be fun :)

4. Pinterest. Ah, pinterest. You inspire me so. I have so many ideas and inspirations for things I want to do in every aspect of my life (clothes, hair, exercise, cooking, decorating, creating). It's so fun! "It's not wasting time if you had fun doing it." <---- That's my motto for pinterest-ing. Vic is going over to a friend's house tonight, and I already have visions of putting Valentino to bed, putting on a chick flick, and pinterest-ing to my heart's content (so productive, right?!).

So now it's the weekend. We don't have any plans, but I'm sure we'll be doing something outside - it's going to be a gorgeous weekend here in NC! I'll be hopping on my bike later this afternoon for a nice ride, then tomorrow calls for a 6-mile run - is it crazy that I'm looking forward to it?!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I work OUT.

Workouts this week (so far):

Sunday: Rest, unless you count grocery shopping and 34234 Easter egg hunts as exercise.
Monday: 8.33 mile "hill jam" bike ride (~38 minutes, 13.0mph avg. speed)
Tuesday: 3.9 mile run (~45:15 = slow, but super hard to get through for me)

I am physically pretty tired after the past two days - today I may do a short (~2 mile) run after work, but we'll see. It's kinda chilly out!

Personal victories:

1. Both workouts took place after work - traditionally, I only workout in the AM. That has become increasingly hard for some reason, so I've started to try it out in the PM. Not my preferred time - it takes away from what needs to be done in the evening - but I gotta do it.

2. Not going overboard on Monday at a bridal shower @ work which consisted of millions of delicious-looking desserts.

The scale showed a couple pound loss this morning, but I'm not going to count that as anything. I have to keep this momentum and mindset, so that I feel less like this at the beach:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Nostalgia

{This post was meant to be live on Easter, but I forgot... oops.}

I have a love of all holidays, and Easter is no exception.

When I was younger, and my family was more family-like, I remember so many warm and fun Easter Egg hunts and Easter dinners. I distinctly remember certain items that were a staple at Easter - intricate "scene" eggs, butter lambs, bunny cakes with coconut "fur," amazing glazed hams, ambrosia salad - all of which came from the Eastern Market in DT Detroit (Polish people love that market!) or was made by my Grandma and Great Aunt. Some of my fondest memories of Eastertime include our tradition of dying eggs and my Grandparents' house - we always used the BEST egg dye (Ruby's! Anyone else remember those glass bottles w/the bunny head stoppers??), which is not made anymore. My mom and Grandpa would argue over who had the best egg, and we'd dye at least 3 dozen (even though it was just our family of 4 and my Grandma and Grandpa). I remember the smell of the dye and the eggs. Such a dear memory to me.

This year, we dyed eggs on Friday night - Valentino was so excited about it, and he really, really enjoyed himself. I only prepared one dozen eggs - next year there will definitely be more!

Some pics:

Daddy and Valentino dying Easter eggs
Our eggs!

My favorite photographer

Bunny and his dye

Easter day was much like a regular day - Vic had to work. Valentino woke up at 6:20, so Vic was able to see him hunt for his eggs and find his Easter basket (Vic's family always hid their baskets - mine did not, and I had never heard of this!). Valentino was so excited to get his little basket of candy, a chocolate bunny, a new harmonica, and the Elefun game that he'd been asking for.

Vic went to work, so Valentino and I did our normal Sunday errands (grocery shopping) and then we had no less than a dozen additional Easter egg hunts. He would hide the eggs for me, I'd search for them, then we'd switch. This went on for about an hour or two, and by the time we were through, the eggs were seriously cracked and shot! Once Vic got home, we enjoyed a ham dinner and a quiet evening. It was delightful!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Love!

Although I despise and cringe and shutter when I hear (or read) "Happy Friday!" I feel it necessary to say "Happy Friday before Easter!" (somehow, "Happy Good Friday" just doesn't seem right - I secretly want to post this someecard that I saw today, but it is highly inappropriate!).

Everyone's always giving three or five reasons why they love something. Well, my favorite and lucky number is 4, so I bring you my top FOUR favorite things this week!

  1. Coming to terms with renting. We've gone back and forth since our lease contract expired last February (we're now month-to-month). Our rental now is affordable and in a wondeful area, but our neighborhood is, well... interesting. It can get a little wild at times, and it's not always pleasant. However, the rental market in Raleigh is so tight and competitive - as soon as a rental is listed, it's snatched right up. Plus, rent is going up. This is due to 2 facts: a. Raleigh is the 5th fastest growing metro area in the country b. with lending rules tightened, people can't/aren't buying homes as much as they used to and they end up renting instead. We've come to terms with the fact that, until we are able to buy a house, we'll be staying put and saving up. This has been good for me, as I now wish to make our little home as comfortable and ours as possible.
  2. Springtime is here, which means more activities! Egg hunt last weekend. Birthday party and Easter this weekend. Cycling will be in full effect in no time. Soon there will be strawberry and blueberry picking, trips to the beach/MD/MI, and SUMMER! I absolutely love April-November in NC! I've started compiling our "Summer 2012 List" (of things we want to do over the summer) and I'm getting so excited!
  3. My Grandma. My Grandma and I have always been close. I spent a ton of time with her when I was younger, and she and I have always kept in touch since I've become an adult. She has been the most constant person in my life, and we have a deep connection and bond. I'm always amazed at how she immediately knows if something's wrong, just by the tone of my voice. Now that I have my own child, she has been an amazing Great Grandma too! Valentino calls her several times a week, and she happily chatters with him about his day and all kinds of other silly things (sometimes I feel bad because he's being a little pest to her on the phone, but she insists that she just loves hearing his voice). She frequently sends him cards and small gifts in the mail, which is always ecstatic to receive - just yesterday she sent him a box stuffed with books and fun Easter things, including a sweet little Easter bunny that he slept with last night :-) Even though they haven't seen each other since he was 2 (which I'm sure he doesn't remember) they too have an amazing bond already. It really makes feel so blessed to have her in our lives.
  4. My awesome husband and son. Valentino practically begged Vic to buzz his hair on Monday, and I finally gave in. I just didn't want to let go of my baby's beautiful blonde locks. Once the buzz was complete, Vic and I just stared (and continue to stare even now) at our beautiful son. With the mop of hair gone, we can see all his features so clearly and we are both amazed by his perfect skin and features. He is one good looking boy! It makes me feel so proud to know that the two of us have created and molded this child who is so beautiful inside and out, and I am so excited to someday hopefully create another sweet little being with Vic. We may have our differences, but in the end, we are a great team and we balance each other wonderfully.
And as a bonus, you get my FOUR goals for the rest of April. I plan to re-cap on 5/1, to fill you in on my progress.
  1. Lose at least 5lbs. Enough said. Summer is so close (since it basically starts in early May here in NC), and I'm in no shape to be seen in anything put long sleeves and jeans. Fudge.That brings me to #2...
  2. Keep to the 1/2 marathon training schedule. This week was a bust. 5 miles on Saturday, 3.5 miles on Tuesday. The rest of the days? Couldn't get myself out of bed (except Thursday - I had all intentions of going to the gym, but Valentino got me up at 4 and I fell asleep in his bed until 6). SO embarassing and shameful. However, I have been doing more pushups and arm exercises at home (and my arms feel it bigtime), so there has been some improvement in my work. But not much, nor enough. Tomorrow calls for another 5 miles. I WILL be out there pounding the pavement, you can count on that.
  3. Add money to savings. We have so many things that we want (like a bike rack/hitch for the car so that we can haul our bikes) and so many places we want to go this summer (MI trip in June, beach weekends, trip to the mountains), so it's really important that we start socking away some cash to make these things possible.
  4. Get stuff DONE. Procrastination is my middle name, so I'm resolving to actually take care of things. First on the list - meal and budget planning. For meals, I want to create a theme for each day (pasta, mexican, grill, etc...), and then get groups of recipes for each theme and rotate them out. For the budget, I'm going to take some advice from this lady, who has a family of six that lives on $28,000/year! AMAZING and so inspiring! If they can do it on so little, I'm sure we can figure out ways to shave our spending. I also need to get my front end fixed, which I screwed up by having a stupid accident in February (where I re-ended someone.. time to kiss $500 goodbye!). I know getting these things done and off the "to-do" list will make me feel so much better.
Happy Easter!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Recent Recipe Review - Samoa Bark

It's no secret that I ADORE pinterest (see?!), even more than those Samoa Girl Scout cookies that I've loved since my super-chunk childhood. Judging by the number of Samoa cookie (or the PC term, eh-hem "Coconut De-lites" - if I were Samoan, I wouldn't care that such a delicious cookie was named after me!!) re-makes and adaptations on Pinterest, I'm not alone in my love of caramel-coconut love.

I pinned this recipe for Samoa Bark a couple weeks ago (originally from here). I tweaked it a bit to fit my budget and 8x8 pan size - my mods are in parenthesis.


12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate + 2 oz for drizzle {3/4 of a bag of chocolate chips total, which was way too much chocolate for my liking, though Vic went crazy for it!}
35-40 shortbread cookies {Half a bag of Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies}
14 oz bag of caramels {1/2-3/4 bag of Kraft's caramel bits}
3 cups sweetened flaked coconut {1.5c}
3 Tbsp water {1.5tbsp}

  1. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set aside.
  2. Melt 12 oz of semi-sweet chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. {I microwaved}.
  3. Spread the melted chocolate to your desired thickness. {I wish I had gone thin-ish}.
  4. Top your warm chocolate evenly with your shortbread cookies.
  5. Place baking sheet in freezer while you do the next steps. {I let it sit overnight}
  6. In a non-stick skillet on medium-low heat, toast your coconut, stirring occasionally. This will take about 10 minutes or so, but be watchful because once it starts to brown it happens quickly and you do not want to burn the coconut! When the coconut is toasted, set aside.
  7. Meanwhile unwrap all your caramels and place them in a medium saucepan along with 2 Tbsp of water over medium-low heat. {I microwaved the caramel bits 30 seconds at a time}
  8. Stir continuously until the caramel has JUST melted. You don’t want to over heat the caramel, as it will make it hard. Immediately fold in your toasted coconut.
  9. Remove your chocolate from the freezer and spread the caramel/coconut evenly on top.
  10. Melt your remaining 2 oz of chocolate using whatever melting process you prefer and drizzle over the top of the caramel/coconut.
  11. Put back in the freezer for 5 minutes to set the chocolate.
  12. Cut and enjoy!
I thought this was a great recipe, and not time consuming at all. However, I made the chocolate base way to thick and therefore the semi-sweet chocolate taste was overwhelming to me (I couldn't really taste the coconut/caramel).

I recommend storing these in the fridge until you are ready to serve them - the chocolate is very, very melt-y (you will get chocolatey hands while eating). Vic had chocolate on the side of his thumb - I warned him of it, and as he went to lick it off, I said "Is it chocolate or poop?" Name that movie ;-)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Half marathon training - Day 1 & an Egg Hunt

Yesterday, I started training for a half marathon again. I'm planning on running the Captrust Half Marathon on 6/3. The race leaves from North Hills, then goes down to the Raleigh Greenway. The course is relatively flat, which I know is hard to come by in this area. I think it will be a good first half for me, but I am bummed that they don't award a completion medal - it would be nice to get one to commemorate my first half marathon!!

My run was an embarassingly slow 5 miles (58:31), but I haven't steadily run in quite a few weeks, so I know my time will only improve from here on out. I'm following Hal Higdon's Novice 1 half marathon training plan, which means tomorrow I'm headed out for another 3.5 miles tomorrow morning. I'm excited to follow the plan and to go the distance on race day. Growing up, I NEVER would've guessed that I would want to accomplish running 13.1 miles at once! Now I look forward to it. I'm also working on getting in shape for the summer - hopefully sticking to this training plan and cleaning up my diet will get me where I want to be.

Valentino and I met up with some friends this afternoon for an Easter Egg Hunt and picnic at the park. Growing up, I always loved Eastertime (especially egg dying and hunting!), so I really enjoy watching my son get excited about it! The weather was perfect, the park was nice, and Vic was able to stop by and eat/visit with us - it was a really nice time with great kids and friends!

Dashing for the eggs!

 Posing like a model with his eggs

Look what's inside, mom!

Vic used to always chuckle every holiday when I said "I just love Easter/4th of July/Halloween/Christmas" - he'd say "You say the same thing no matter what holiday it is!" I've come to realize that I really just enjoy every holiday (except Thanksgiving, honestly - it's so boring!), especially now that I have a child to experience it with - he brings such a new and exciting meaning to each holiday. And now with Pinterest, there's never a shortage of fun projects, activities, or recipes to draw inspiration from to personalize the holidays! {Sidenote: I seriously love pinterest!}