Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell, 2011

January 2011 began with a delicious meal of black eyed peas and greens.  I have to say that this meal started our year on the right foot!  It was a cold, snowy month with not much excitement.  One of my goals for 2011 was to pass a personal trainer's exam.  I began studying this month...little did I know then, that by the end of the year I would have passed not one but TWO personal trainer's exams!  yippe!!!

In February I celebrated 28 years of life.  Where did the time go?  How am I getting this old??  Slow Down!

March began with a fabulous skiing trip to Breckenridge, CO!  The hubs and I stayed at a good friends AMAZING ski lodge.  My Mom joined in on the fun and we all had a fabulous time skiing down the mountains of Colorado for a few days.

Later in March, I ran my first half-marathon.  It was great!  Then the hubs got news his company was downsizing and that meant his job too.  Boo hiss.  A very scary event to happen in this economy but it turned out to be a huge blessing...

April was a VERY busy month filled with two of my good friend's weddings.   They were a week apart and I was a bridesmaid in one and the Maid of Honor in the other!  The first wedding was in Greenville, SC.  It was a college sorority sister's was so much fun and had a great time seeing old college friends.

Bridesmaids getting ready

Beautiful bride getting ready
Thankfully, both weddings were in South Carolina.  So after the first wedding and before the second wedding, the hubs and I went to my parents beach house in Pawley's Island, SC for a lovely vacation.  After a few days at the beach it was time for Charlotte's wedding, my best friend.  Her wedding was held at Kiawah Island, SC.  It was a picture PERFECT wedding...we had the time of our lives dancing the night away.  At the end of April, I passed my first Personal Trainer's exam...AFPA.  Yay!!!! :)  Did I mention it was a busy month????

The beautiful couple
Bride and bridemaids!  
May began with the husband getting a job and starting his job!  Hip, hip, horray!!!!!  Other than that, it was a quiet month.

In June, we celebrated our second Anniversary.  We enjoyed a nice dinner out in Raleigh to celebrate.  That weekend we went to another friend's wedding.

July was a very warm month...oh how I LOVE Summer.  We were lucky enough to spend a few days down at Holden Beach, NC with my husband's side of the family.  We had a great and relaxing was very hard to leave!

Well hello my no makeup beach face!  And the hubs was trying to be funny w/his hand on the hip pose....

August was a month spent studying my brains out for my ACE personal trainer's exam.  There was no fun and games around our house during this time as I REALLY wanted to pass this exam!!!!  I also got a new job this month doing Corporate Personal Training.  It's basically my dream job...I love it and am so happy to be in a career that I love.  I could not see myself doing anything different.

In September I took my huge ACE exam and....PASSED!!!!!  It was the best.feeling.EVER.  Phew, no more studyin' for me!  I was one happy, happy lady.  

October brought more travel.  The hubs and I took a trip to Ithaca, NY where my Grandparents live.  We had a very nice visit with them and I enjoyed showing Daniel around Ithaca since it was his first visit there.

In November my Mom had a great surprise 60th Birthday Party for my Dad.  We had SUCH a great time and he was oh so surprised.  I love my Daddy so much.  He is so amazing.  It was also my Mom's birthday this month.  We had a good time celebrating her life as well.  Both of my parents are incredible.  Love, love, love them.

Year old picture, but love my fam :)

For Thanksgiving, we went to Raleigh to celebrate with my husband's side of the family.  We had a great time there filled with lots of love, MANY laughs, great food, and fun for all.  I am so blessed to have such amazing family on both sides!

And last, but not least...December marked 30 grand years of living for my husband.  We celebrated with a breath taking, absolutely picture perfect, trip to Hawaii.  Honestly, we had the time of our lives.  After this incredible trip, we were ready to celebrate Christmas.  We stayed in town to celebrate with my family.  My brother's came into town and so did my Dad's sister and her family.  I think it was one of my most favorite Christmas' yet.  My nephew pictured below, was the highlight of the party.  He is SUCH a cute and sweet boy.  We all enjoyed having a little one around for the holidays.  His Momma is pregnant so the next holiday we will have another baby to snuggle and enjoy!  Shown below are pictures from my parents house.

2011 was a year filled with lots of travel and lots of love.  It was a year filled with happiness and good health.  Here's to seeing what God has in store for us in 2012!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Pinterest Dinner

Sunday night we had my parents over for dinner.  I couldn't decide what to make, so went to my Pinterest Cooking/Baking board to give me some ideas.  There are ALWAYS yummy looking things on Pinterest, so I thought I should give some of what I've pinned a try.  Everything turned out wonderful!
Table setting
For the main entree I made Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa was amazing!!!  The recipe served six, so it was perfect for the four of us....then the hubs and I finished it off last night.  I love butternut squash and quinoa...they were so delicious paired together.  I got a large rotisserie chicken at Costco, so I used that to put in the stew...made the recipe so much easier to make.

Not a great picture of the stew, but you get the idea :)
With the stew, I made a spinach salad with fresh pears and toasted pecans.  For the dressing, I made a maple vinaigrette.  I tossed the salad in this before serving...sooo delicious!  The recipe for this vinaigrette comes from this Quinoa Salad with Pears, Baby Spinach and Chick Peas in a maple vinaigrette, but it was perfect with the salad I made.  Next, I want to try this Quinoa Salad!  I also served banana bread with the meal.  And last, but not least...for dessert I made Christmas Tree brownies.  So easy, delicious, fun and festive!!!!!!

*Are you on Pinterest?  If so, are you following me...or vice-versa?!
**Are you ready for Christmas??  I can't believe it's just around the corner! :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Oahu, Hawaii

Paradise.  Let me tell you, if you ever get the chance to go to Hawaii...GO!!!!!  It is such an amazing, beautiful, friendly place.  The waters are sparkling sky blue and the beaches are tan with sand.  The mountains are gorgeous overflowing with waterfalls.  For the most part Hawaii is safe and people are very friendly.  The locals love to show you their island.

After a long, but not too bad flight of 9 hours (I watched 3 new movies that I hadn't seen yet!), we arrived in Honolulu.  We had a VERY smooth flying experience the whole trip.  This never happens to us, so we were very pleased.  Once we arrived in Honolulu we picked up our car that we had rented.  We planned to rent the cheapest, economy car, but then were sold into their "holiday special" of renting a Mustang convertible for only $5 extra a day...umm...SOLD!  haha.  We LOVED having the convertible!  Hawaii has PERFECT weather for this, so we were so glad that we spent the $5 extra a day.

It was around 4:00 pm Hawaii time when we arrived, so we jumped in the car and headed to our resort.  We were tired after having been up MANY hours, but so excited to finally be there.  Turtle Bay Resort was an hour away, so we went on our way.  After arriving at the resort we went straight to our room to see the beautiful views (!!!)...can you imagine waking up to this for 6 days???  Bliss!

We immediately found some dinner, and then we went straight to bed with full tummies...we felt like zombies.  I won't bore you with a day to day recap on what we did, but I'll share with you a few pictures.  We took about 500 pictures, so it's hard to pick which ones to use as there are SO many beautiful ones!

Beautiful pools where we spent lots of time at!

Hawaii has gorgeous and lush flowers everywhere!

Ahh...the FRUIT...A-FREAKING-MAZING!!!!  Shown is some mango and pineapple...these two fruits are to die for in Hawaii!!!!  Taste like candy.

There was a famous surfing competition going on (Billabong Pipemasters) while we were there.  We got to watch 2 days of the competition.  It was incredible to see pro surfers surfing the 30 foot waves.  I have never seen 30 foot waves in my life...insane!  Or as the surfers kept saying "gnarly!"

Cool pic I got of a famous surfer...forgot his name...

Us watching the competition on the first day in Hawaii

Hawaiian fire dances...amazing!
We got to experience a traditional Hawaiian Luau!  So fun!!
Traditional Hawaiian food at the yummy!  Purple sweet potato rolls (yum!), tilapia, BBQ pork, purple potato salad, spinach, salad with papaya dressing (!!!) and for dessert pineapple turnovers and coconut pound cake (picture not shown)!
Beach at the, so, so pretty
If you ever go to Oahu, you MUST go to Ted's Bakery!  We ate breakfast and lunch here....most amazing food (and desserts) ever!!!!
love :)
Hawaii's famous Garlic Shrimp.  A must try...unless you don't like garlic.
Daniel surfing!!!!!  He did great!

The hubs and I had the time of our lives.  It was SUCH a relaxing vacation with no worries around us.  We were totally "loving life."  Happy 30th Birthday to my wonderful husband!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The hustle and bustle of December

December is always a busy month of party's, gift-getting, decorating, etc.  To add in the excitement, it is my husband's birthday on December 8th!  This year, he turns the big 3-0!!!!!!!!  To celebrate we are headed to Hawaii for a week and leaving this Wednesday the 7th!  We are so very excited!!  I told the hubs yesterday that it kind of feels like we're going on a 2nd honeymoon.

Here we are on our honeymoon in Jamaica in June of 2009...

Oh those youngins'   ;)
And in just a few short days we will be here....

Oahu, Hawaii

I am very much looking forward to some R&R with my hubby for a week.  We are going to rent a car so that we can explore the island.  We are also going to go to a real Luau one night....perhaps go to the Dole Pineapple Plantation, Pearl Harbor, etc.  I will report on everything when we get back!  :)

As on the cooking front....honestly, I haven't been doing it as much as I'd like.  I made this wonderful crock pot BBQ chicken on was perfect coming home to this after a long week.  Yesterday I made this crock pot apple crisp and it was good...not my most favorite apple crisp ever, but it was super easy and with a large scoop of vanilla icecream, it did the trick!  I love warm desserts in winter!  

I also made these brownies this past week...they were gone in just a few days.  So yummy, moist and the perfect cure for my sweet tooth!


  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Two large handfuls of chocolate chips
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch baking pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the canola oil, sugar, puree, egg, and vanilla extract.
  3. In another bowl, combine the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes. Final texture is very dense, moist, and fudge-y.

The hubs and I have had a great weekend of cleaning the house, getting the house decorated for Christmas, getting ready for our trip and relaxing.

Last night we met friends for Indian food...YUM (our favorite)!  And then we all came back to our house to watch the big football game VT vs. Clemson and ate the apple crisp.  Clemson won...horray ACC Champs...they are now headed to the Orange Bowl!!!!!

This evening I will be going with my Mom to help out the homeless for 4 hours.  This is always a very humbling and eye opening experience.  I don't know why I only do this once a year...should do it way more often.  I am so so SO blessed to have all that I have.  God is good and I am oh so very grateful.

*Today is a special day because it is my nephew's 4th birthday!  Happy Birthday, Peter!!!!  We love you!  We celebrated Peter and my husband's birthdays while we were in Raleigh for was a very fun time.

I hope that you enjoy this holiday season!  I will be back soon to report on our trip.

A hui hou

 (Hawaiian meaning, "Good-bye, until we meet again")

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have SO much to be thankful for!!!!  I am down in Raleigh, NC this Thanksgiving with my husband's side of the family.  We are having our Thanksgiving meal around 5:00 pm today.  It will be a great time filled with lots of good food and good memories.  We all bring something to dinner to help.  I brought the traditional Pumpkin Pie and I tried something new.  Derby Pie.  This pie is from a place that I used to work at when in High School and College.  I hadn't made it since college, but thought it'd be fun to bring the old recipe out again.  I will be sharing both recipes soon!  I also made my Mom's traditional and oh so GOOD pumpkin bread.  This is always a hit!  If any is left over I love it with some peanut butter....yummm. :)

Besides the good food and being with family, one of my other favorite parts about Thanksgiving is watching the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade.  Ever since a small child, I have loved getting up in the mornings to watch the parade in my pj's.  My parents would cook us a yummy breakfast and we could have hot chocolate in the mornings and watch this.  Such a great tradition. :)  I hope that you and yours have a very special and Happy Thanksgiving.  Count your blessings!

A little something to think about:

 I'm off to watch the parade!  What are you favorite things to do on this holiday?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Costco goodies

A few months ago a gigantic Costco opened up just a stone's throw away from our house.  There used to be a round and about way to get to the Costco from our house...until recently.  A new road was added and now it literally takes us about 3 minutes to drive from out house to Costco.  We have never really needed to shop much at Costco because it's just the two of us.  It's nice to go there for toliet paper, paper towels, laundry/dish detergent, and that sort of thing, but I've never bought much food there before.  Until now.  If I can't have a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's nearby, I'll take Costco.  On my most recent trip there, I discovered some goodies which I'll share with you tonight.

Here is what I bought:
  • Organic Milk 
    • The package contained 3 half-gallon jugs!  The hubs and I go through a lot of milk and organic milk stays fresh a while, so this was perfect.  Now if only they'll start carrying Almond Milk....
  • Organic Spinach 
    • I rarely buy organic, only b/c it's so $$$, but I do like to buy organic milk, spinach and apples.  One day when I become a millionaire, I'll buy everything organic. ;)  I love how Costco had a huge tub of the spinach.  We typically grocery shop at Kroger and the organic spinach is in a small bag and is just as expensive.  I've been trying to incorporate more veggies in my daily eats, and this has been perfect for that purpose!
  • Green Beans
    • A huge bag of fresh green beans (well, fresh for a grocery store).  I have been incorporating these into many of our meals.  Yum.
  • Butternut Squash
    • I LOVE all kinds of squash, especially butternut....but I don't like to cut them, it is always a chore.  Costco has it pre sliced and cut into cubes.  Sold.
  • Chipotle Black Bean Burgers
    • These burgers were introduced to us this summer by my brother and sister in law.  They had a cookout and gave everyone the option of a regular burger or a black bean burger.  The hubs and I had the black bean burgers and LOVED them.  I finally bought them on my recent trip to Coscto!  What do I love about them?  They are larger than your typical black bean burger.  Lots of fiber and protein...very filling.  I also love that they come in a pack of 12.  Whenever we need a quick, easy dinner we can take a couple out of the freezer and either throw them on the skillet, grill, oven or microwave.  Easy peasy yumminess.  The other night I used whole wheat English Muffins as the "bun" and added soy cheddar cheese...SO delicious.
    • Raisin Bran
      • The hubs and I love cereal, enough said.
    • Nature's Path Organic, Pumpkin Flax Granola
      • Again, the hubs and I love cereal.  What can I say?  We go through this stuff seriously fast, so it's nice to buy it in bulk. :)  The granola is great with regular milk, or my fav: almond milk...also wonderful on yogurt.
    • Palmetto Pimento Cheese
      • This cheese is made in Pawleys Island, SC where my parents have a beach house (heaven on earth).  The hubs and I first discovered this in Pawleys Island and were SO happy and shocked to see that it is now carried at Costco's all over!  Yippe!  
    • Deli Turkey Meat
      • We go through a lot of deli meat in this house for sandwiches and to sometimes to salads with.  The turkey is great here!  The sodium is high which I don't like, but most deli meat is high in sodium anyways.  We can't win all the battles.
    • Chobani Yogurt
      • I am a serious Chobani lover.  My day was made when I discovered that they sell it!  
    • Almond Butter
      • Like my seriousness with Chobani, I have another serious addiction to all things peanut or almond (or what have you) butter.  Costco carries a gigantic tub of unsalted almond butter.  I go through this by myself really quickly....oops.  It's great on sandwiches, toast, oatmeal, waffles, fruit, or even by the
...I think that's it, but I'm sure I'm leaving something out....oh their wine is really good too.  Also, a blog I follow says that she can buy Coach's oats at her Costco.  I was SO excited about this, but sadly our Costco does not carry Coaches Oats.  I so wish they did because I order them about twice a year in bulk.  The actual oats are not very expensive, but since they are so heavy, the shipping is always more expensive than the product is.  ugh.  Hopefully I can convince our Costco to carry them!  

Lastly, you can get $1 fat free frozen yogurt cones there!!!  LOVE!  The hubs and I have been known to run in the store for just for the frozen yogurt.... :)

*Do you shop at Costco?  If so, what are you favorites?  Please share!