Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Potayto Potahto

Hi friends!

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas or happy whatever holiday you celebrate :)

With the new year coming around the corner, I'm going to go ahead and take a guess that many of you have resolutions on your mind.

I'm going to go ahead and take another guess that many of your resolutions will involve improving your diet and/or fitness.

Am I right?!

Well, you all know I'm not one for drastic changes when it comes to diet and exercise.  I try (emphasis on the try) to maintain a level-head about the whole thing.

Even when things get out of control this time of year (they always do), you won't find me punishing myself with a no-sugar-no-carb-no-salt-no-nothing diet or 2-hour long daily gym sessions.

Not me.  When things get out of control, I bring it back to the basics.

It's the basic things that get me back to that happy, healthy place where I feel best.

One of the basics which I have shared with you from time to time is the value of a home-cooked meal.

Why the emphasis on home cooking? My philosophy is this - it's cheaper, YOU control the portions, and there are no surprises.

Just remember the first time you looked at the calorie/salt/fat content in your favorite lunch from Panera bread (or look it up now), and you'll know what I mean.

As often as I can, and unless I am on vacation, I will try to keep it to only ONE take-out/restaurant meal a day, tops.

Really, I could probably limit it further, but hey, I'm a busy girl, and life sometimes requires takeout.

Anyway, a home cooked meal isn't always easy for us busy ladies.  That's why it's important to be prepared by having some very easy go-to recipes on hand.

One new, delicious, brainless dinner I have been going to a lot lately is "loaded" baked potatoes.

Truth be told, up until about a month ago, I had no clue how to "bake" a potato don't tell Justin.

With a little creativity and some Goolging, I think I've finally got it figured out.

Want to know my tricks??

Trader Joe's Turkey Chili Baked Potatoes (for 2) 

What You'll Need

2 (decent-sized) Russet Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes
1 can of Trader Joe's Turkey Chili with Beans
1 cup of Plain Greek Yogurt (takes the place of sour cream)
Shredded Cheese (your choice)

How You Do It 

Step #1: Some like it hot. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

NOTE: If you don't have time for the oven deal (often times I don't!), you can make the potatoes in the microwave.  Not sure how? Watch this fun little video! :)  

Step #2: Wash your tater tots.  The best way is apparently to use a "vegetable brush," but really, who has those? I just put my potatoes in a collander and rinse them with water and kind of scrub with some clean hands.

Dirt be gone.

Step #3: Make them hole-y.  You know, I'm not really sure why you have to do this (I guess to let the potatoes breathe?), but what I do know is that this is a MUST DO step.

Pierce your potatoes up good, all over, with a fork.

Step #4: Add some flava.  Coat up your spuds with a little Canola oil and a dash-or-two of salt.

I try to do this over the sink in the same collander so that I don't dirty up another dish.

Step #5: Time to start cookin.  Place a pan on the middle rack of your oven, then put the potatoes on the directly on the rack above.

The pan will catch any excess oil - keeping things nice and tidy! :)

Step #6: Sit back and relax.  Let the potatoes cook for about 1 hour, until the skin on the outside is crisp, but the inside feels soft below.

This should give you plenty of time to...

Step #7: Prep your fixins.  My current toppings of choice are TJ's Turkey Chili, a little Greek Yogurt (just like sour cream, I promise!), and some cheese.

I usually heat the chili up in a sauce pan for a little while when the potatoes are just about done.

Step #8: Dress them up.  Pierce the potatoes in a line from end-to-end with a fork, then squeeze the ends towards each other to open up the potato, like so.

(And yes, you must use leftover Christmas napkins as pot-holders.)

Then it's time for the fun stuff.

Dress them up...

And enjoy!

(Sorry the finished product pictures aren't prettier - I was too hungry to fuss with them!)

So there you go! I hope this easy & delicious recipe becomes a home-cooked staple for you too.

Let me know if you try it :)



Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Walk/Run + Merry You

Good morning, everyone!

Geeze, I really just want to share with you all the great Christmas gifts I got last night (Justin & I exchange early).

But, I feel compelled to write something health/fitness-related to convince you that I have not completely fallen off the wagon.

I have been getting to the gym lately, but it's been under the most inconsistent schedule ever!

If I want to work out on the week days, it has to happen very early in the morning - like 5AM.

People ask me: Why can't you just go after work? And, to that, I really just can't explain it!

I am seriously a zombie by the time I get home from work these days.  I usually get home, make dinner, eat with Justin (still on the couch/floor even though we now have TWO tables - ridiculous, I know!), turn on a TV show, and then head to bed as close to 10PM as I can.

One thing I really miss about living in the city is the accessibility to all of my favorite work out classes - like Barre Bee Fit.

You all know how much I loved that - and now it's been pretty much impossible for me to get to a class and be able to catch a train home at a decent hour.

BBF --> want to open a suburban location?!?!?! :) :) I'll do all your marketing!!

Adjusting to working full time has been both rewarding and challenging.

I have been very hard on myself that I can't just "snap" into this Monday-Friday routine, but then I have to remind myself that this is the first time I have ever done this.

While my friends have been working full-time jobs for over 3 years now, I have been in school for the past 7! It's a totally different way of life and it is definitely taking some adjusting.

I feel very blessed to have the opportunities I have right now - it's just a matter of finding that balance again.  I'm working on it! :)

So, workouts have been a smorgasbord (wow - didn't know that's how you spell that word!).  

As an early Christmas (or whatever holiday!) gift, I'll share my new favorite workout with you - along with my current favorite gym song to get ya going!

This workout was adapted from a 10-minute walking workout I found on Peanut Butter Fingers.  It's just 30 minutes - which is perfect for a morning cardio workout for me lately.

I love the ratio of walking/running on this one.  It's also got a good mix of incline to get that booty burn that I need so desperately this time year.

I think this workout is more approachable than some of the ones I have previously posted - so give it a try and let me know what you think! :)

Holiday 30-Minute Walk/Run


And if you need a new song to add to your gym playlist (who doesn't?!) - my current favorite is this little number...

Yep, Bruno Mars "Merry You" :)

I'm off to the gym & then it's time to pack up our things to head back to InDiAnA!

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!



Saturday, December 10, 2011

'Tis the Season

To be jolly! Fa la la la fa - la la la la :)

Hi friends!

I'm feeling very festive over here after a fun night entertaining some great friends at a little holiday get together we had at our place.

In front of our tree! :) 

We had a bunch of my wine club girls and their significant others over - along with my very good friend Megan and her now fiance (yay!) Brian. 

Some wine club girls: Marissa, Me, Laura, Christina, Sarah, and Mary Beth.

We had a couple of appetizers on hand, and then everyone brought their own dish + a cocktail! 

My food contributions were pretty simple...

Including a homemade Carmelized Onion Dip that I heard about over on Sweet Tooth Sweet Life

Delicious and very simple to make! 

An always-necessary cheese & cracker tray!

Cheeses were sharp cheddar, asiago, and smoked gouda - served with pre-sliced salami from the deli. 

I also took care of most of the desserts, with a lot of help from Trader Joe's. 

The sweets spread. 

TJ's pumpkin bread cup cakes with holiday funfetti icing. 

TJ's donut holes.

Dark chocolate shortbread stars (also from TJ's). 

Puppy chow made from the classic recipe, but with dark chocolate :) 

Peppermint bark! 

Hershey mint chocolate truffle kisses. 

I wish I would have taken pictures of what everyone else contributed, because there were some AMAZING appetizers at the par-tay, but I was just too busy socializing. 

I had so much fun decorating our apartment before the party. 

Our stockings - everything you see is from Target! 

I used ornaments to personalize the stockings until we can get our names embroidered. 

Centerpiece - ornaments and pine cones. 

I got the centerpiece idea from Pintrest, of course! 

Those are cinnamon-scented pine cones that I now have all throughout the apartment because they smell so festive.   The ornaments I got all together in a box from Target for about $15, not too shabby. 

Snowmen family courtesy of Justin's Grandma Ted! 

We are very lucky to have family with great taste in holiday decor.  

We have had so many items graciously gifted to us over the past few years, including...

Pretty Christmas tree candle holder. 

Every single ornament on our tree is from either my mom or Justin's mom :) 

We are also lucky that Justin's Aunt Jackie has an adorable consignment store in Indiana.  We have found a lot of our home decor at her store. 

Santa vases from Aunt Jackie's store - No Place Like Home 
Moose (I now know it is NOT a reindeer!) is from Tuesday Morning

Another very cute and inexpensive idea I got from Courtney at Sweet Tooth Sweet Life

Picture frame from Micheal's with holiday saying printed at home on our printer! 
Snowman is also gifted from family :) 

Hope you all are having a nice, relaxing weekend! 

I'm off to relax with Justin & cheer on the HOOSIERS (they're playing UK in basketball today) with all of the delicious leftovers from last nights festivities. 




Saturday, December 3, 2011

BEBT'S Favorite Things

Hi friends!

How are you all doing?!

I hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving filled with lots of good food, family and/or friends, and relaxation! :)

I enjoyed the holiday back in Elkhart, IN with lots of Justin's family AND my mom, grandma, and brother came down too!

I neglected to take any pictures other than when we went out to meet up with Justin's friend Buck and his dad @ our favorite bar there - Pete's!

So, in lieu of a bunch of pictures of our Turkey day festivities, I do have a little something for you...

BEBT'S Favorite Things! 

Kinda like Oprah's favorite things...except without the freebies, sorry guys.

I am actually kind of borrowing this idea from one of my favorite blogs Healthy Diva Eats, where Katie does "Diva Approved" posts of her most recent favorite things.

So, let's get to it! Here are some of my favorite things as of late...

1) Long Open-Front Sweater (Merona via Target - $29.99)

If you know me, you know I am obsessed with this look.

Does this sweater not just say curl up by a warm fire and drink a skinny peppermint mocha to you??

(And if you haven't had one of those - you need one).

I recently purchased this sweater in a maroon/wine color (that color isn't available online) and I am loving it. It is very soft and not too heavy - so it won't have you sweating under your puffy coat as you holiday shop!

2) Floral Thermal Tee (Mossimo via Target - $14.99)

Thermal long sleeve tees...you had me at hello! These tops are adorable, flattering, and oh-so-comfortable.

Target has the above floral version in about 3 different colors (I have 2!) and then also in an assortment of solid colors.  At $14.99 a piece - I'd go stock up now if this is your kind of thing.

For me, they also double as great pajama tops - don't judge!

3) VitaFusion MultiVites Gummy Vitamins

As someone who tries to promote heath and wellness - I cringe to admit that I am TERRIBLE at remembering to take my daily vitamins.  I think I'm probably okay since I eat an abundance of fruits & veggies, but I like to still try to cover my bases.

I decided to try some gummy vitamins thinking maybe the yummy-ness would remind me to take them every day...and BINGO! These ones are the best! :)

Justin just told me very deviously that he could eat them like candy...rut roh.

4) Twighlight Woods from Bath & Body Works

Umm...whoever said Bath & Body Works was so 2000 is off their rocker.

The store seems to be getting more knock out stuff by the day, and their sales (and coupons!) are hard to beat.  I am in love with the new(to me) scent line - Twightlight Woods.

My recent favorite products are the Cashmere Hand Cream (put on at my desk at work about 5 times daily - now on sale for $6):

...and the ever-so-practical pocket Hand Sanitizer ($1.50 online - or you can a set 5 for $5)! Perfect for a city girl exposed to so many germs!

Don't forget to pick up an adorable key-chain holder! So festive & fun.

5) CoffeeMate's (Sugar Free) Peppermint Mocha Creamer

Ok, yes, I know this is full of the fake sugar that's probably the worst thing in the world for me, but for some reason, I just don't care! Christmas comes but once a year! 

The $1 Christmas mug I picked up makes it more wholesome anyway! ;)

6) While we are on the subject of coffee... the Cuisinart Brew Central 12-Cup Coffee Maker 

Justin & I did have another, very fancy Cuisinart coffee maker that did the whole grind & brew thing, but it became a disaster.

Something went wrong and the little drawer where you would put the ground up coffee in started popping out mid-cycle, forcing us to sit there and babysit the coffee port every morning.

Go ahead, laugh it up! :)

SUCH a headache.

After we got in a little bit of a tiff about who needed to sit out and watch the coffee pot in the morning stupidfightshappen, my mom so graciously took me to Costco, and purchased us the above coffee maker (thank you, mom!), which is just perfect for us!

We got ours for just a little over $50 a Costco - it seriously pays to be a member of that little club! ;)

7) Benefit Cosmetics Birthday Cake Creaseless Eye Shadow Cream ($19 a pot).

I wear this cream shadow under my other eyeshadow almost every day for some extra shimmer and to hold the shadow on without that awful creasing!

My other favorite colors in the line are Skinny Jeans & Strut - perfect for those holiday parties!

And who can resist the adorable bags Benefit gives you...

(Yes, I am a marketer's dream).

8) Asics GEL-Nimbus 13 Running Shoes

After going over a year without buying new tennis shoes (yes, I know how awful that is!!), I finally broke down and bought these babiessss.

These really are like running on top of a perfectly-tuned SleepNumber bed. Ahhhhhhh.

And if you say anything about cankles...I will find out who you are and sick scrappy on you!

Be afraid, very very afraid :) 

9) Michael Buble's Christmas Album ($13.99 on iTunes)


Love, love, loveeee.  This has single-handedly been getting me though my work days! :)

Love his version of All I Want for Christmas is You.

10) Chariot Wine's Gypsy Red Wine from TJ's ($5 a bottle...hollaaaa).

Get it while it's...cheap! :)

And with that, I'm off to get some things done today.

On the agenda...

1) Eat something!
2) Gym time.
3) Operation santa-fy our apartment for a little holiday shindig we're having next weekend! :)

My favorite decoration so far - I love reindeer(s?)! ;) 

Have a happy & healthy day!