Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The newest member of our family

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Introducing our new puppy, Lucy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Meal Plan Monday {April 26}

We had another beautiful weekend here in the Sacramento valley ~ the sun was shining, the temperatures were warm, and it really felt like SPRING. 

We had a pretty awesome weekend.  It started off Friday afternoon when I decided to unwind while baking up a batch of these Orange Muffins along with two batches of homemade hummus, regular & sundried tomato.  Everything turned out really good … but the sundried tomato hummus is DIVINE.  We had it on some Panini Sandwiches yesterday and it was delicious.  I may never buy hummus from the store again!  This is the recipe I followed to create my homemade hummus.  We also hit up the yard sale of a co-worker, ventured to a new local brewpub, had a Glow in the Dark Double Date Night with the sister & brother-in-law, visited a friend who we had not seen in a while … and something else … what am I forgetting … oh yeah, WE ADOPTED A PUPPY.  She’ll be coming home tonight to join our family so check back soon for photos and her adoption story :)

I anticipate this week is going to be a little crazy & hectic with training the new puppy and getting use to new routines so I created a fairly easy & simple meal plan.  We also moved Pizza Friday to Saturday so that we could have a carb loaded meal on Friday night, the night before Jon’s next half marathon!  We also will be enjoying a lot of asparagus as a side dish this week since we scored two bundles at the Downtown Farmers Market yesterday, along with some other goodies {oranges, sundried roma tomatoes, vine ripe tomatoes – that will become homemade salsa this week – radishes, and a beautiful bouquet fresh tulips for Jon’s grandma}. 

It’s going to be a great week & I can’t wait for this work day to be over so I can spend some time with our new little girl :)

On to the menu …

Monday ~ Taco Salad {with avocado, cheese, salsa, corn, red onion, black beans & tortilla chips over a bed of lettuce}

Taco Tuesday ~ Shredded Chicken Tacos

Wednesday ~ Caesar Pita Pockets

ThursdayMinestrone Soup {from the freezer}

Friday ~ Spaghetti with semi-homemade marinara sauce

Saturday

  • Breakfast ~ Bagels {store bought}
  • Lunch ~ Kidney Bean Tacos
  • Dinner ~ Deep Dish Pizza

Sunday

  • Breakfast ~ Green Monster’s & toast
  • Lunch ~ Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with homemade sundried tomato hummus
  • Dinner ~ leftover pasta from Friday

*Don’t forget to check out the links … you never know what you might discover!  There are some GREAT food blogs out there :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Anniversary Trip to Napa ~ Day One {March 29th}

Just over a month ago we celebrated our first wedding anniversary and then a couple weeks later we spent a four glorious days relaxing and wine tasting in the Napa Valley to celebrate our first year of wedded bliss.  We had an amazing time! 

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The first day of our “spring break” anniversary trip to Napa Valley started off bright and early as we hit the road late enough to miss rush hour traffic in the Sacramento area but early enough to reach our first destination on time.  Upon arriving in Napa Valley we went on a guided tour at the Castello di Amorosa followed by a tasting with our tour group.

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The “Castle of Love”

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During our tour we explored the caves where wine is stored and enjoyed a barrel tasting in the amazing barrel tasting room!

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“The Romance of Italy, The Wines of Napa”

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After our tour and tasting at Castello di Amorosa we stopped off at the Silverado Brewing Co. for a snack and a beer :)

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Then we headed to Mumm for some sparking wine!

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“Too much of anything is bad, but too much champagne is just right” ~Mark Twain

“There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne” ~Bette Davis

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After enjoying the view of the vineyard from the terrace and some sparking wines {my fav} we headed into Downtown Napa to check into our hotel room and then we ventured out to find a place for dinner and check out the views of the Napa River.

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After dinner we headed back to our room to relax and rest up for day two and our guided wine bus tour!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day ~ 2010

Today is the 40th birthday of Earth Day which was founded in 1970 by US Senator Gaylord Nelson

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In honor of Earth Day I wanted to share some of the changes we have made to GO GREEN. 

  • We switched to reusable BPA free water bottles by Nalgene and Camelpak
  • We recycle everything we can with curb side recycling at our home, taking cans/bottles to a recycling center, and disposing of e-waste at designated e-waste recycling events
  • We started a compost pile
  • We find new uses for old items {recently I made some rags out of old under shirts}
  • We stopped using paper plates, paper towels, and paper napkins ~ we use cloth napkins and I made some towels out of unbleached organic cotton from my craft store to use in place of paper towels
  • We use reusable bags every time we go shopping at every store and if we don’t have a reusable bag with us then we forgo the bag all together
  • We have Energy Star appliances in our home
  • We walk or ride our bikes to local events in our neighborhood/town as often as possible
  • We buy local produce as often as possible at our local farmers market and we grow our own in the summer in our garden
  • We planted a tree in our front yard and we also planted three small trees in planter pots in our back yard that we will put in the ground after one year
  • We have a ceiling fan in every room and a programmable thermostat on our AC/Heater unit and our pellet stove
  • We wash only full loads of laundry in cold water only
  • We use compact fluorescent light bulbs when our older bulbs burn out

What are some of the ways you have GONE GREEN to help protect our planet? 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Meal Plan Monday {April 19th}

We had beautiful weather in the Sacramento valley this weekend … and how did we celebrate it?  Well, honestly, we spent a lot of time indoors just relaxing and it was PERFECT and exactly what we needed :)

We did venture out a few times to run some errands … like grocery shopping and a quick trip to Trader Joe’s for WINE {the have the BEST deals ~ we got 5 bottles for $13 and got to spin the wheel and ended up winning two tubs of iced oatmeal cookies which was PERFECT since we had been talking about / craving cookies all weekend} along with the farmers market on Saturday and visiting all the yard sales in our neighborhood that I saw when I was out running my 4 miler while Jon was doing 13.1 with his training group {he’s got a half marathon in just 12 days}!  I love yard sale season.  Last year we scored a glider rocking chair and ottoman for $15 and this weekend we got a ladder bookcase for $10 {retails for $100 at Target ~ where we had been eyeing it for some time}.

I also spent some quality time in the kitchen.  I made the weekly batch of salsa for Jon from farmers market fresh tomatoes and I also baked up a batch of granola bars that are sooo yummy!  I highly recommend them.  And since we scored a 10lb bag of oranges for $5 at the farmers market I’m planning on baking some of these this week too :)

On to this weeks menu …

Monday ~ Creamy Noodles with asparagus {from the farmers market}

Taco Tuesday ~ Egg Roll Tacos {baked, not fried} with Mexican rice

Wednesday ~ leftover egg roll tacos

Thursday ~ Italian Baked Pastina {I’ll be omitting the chicken}

Pizza Friday ~ Turkey Pepperoni {with olives and mushrooms on my half} using this crust

Saturday

  • Breakfast ~ Egg Sandwiches on English Muffins with cheese
  • Lunch ~ Quesadillas
  • Dinner ~ Pineapple Jerk Chicken

Sunday

*Don’t forget to check out the links … you never know what you might discover!  There are some GREAT food blogs out there too :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Summer Garden: 2010

A few weeks ago we started prepping for our summer garden.  Last year, right after we got home from our honeymoon, we dug up a small area in our yard to plant veggies.  We have CLAY in our yard.  Clay that is mixed in with lots and lots of white landscaping rocks.  Not exactly ideal for flower beds or gardens.  We made do with what we had last year and ended up with a couple of successful zucchini plants and tomato plants.

This year we decided to build a raised garden bed. 

So, we got to work clearing out some more space right next to our compost pile.  Once we had the area all cleared out and weeds removed we were ready to start building our planter box. 

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Once we had the raised bed all built we moved it to its new home and filled it with top soil and then we were ready to plant!

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We planted strawberries, radish, cucumber, zucchini, jalapenos, basil, cilantro and 4 types of tomatoes.  A lot more than last year! 

Everything is doing good and we added a little fence around the top with the leftover chicken wire that we used to build our compost pile to keep out the stray cats that wander into our yard.  We still have a lot of space left in this area of our yard where we could put a couple more raised garden beds but its needs a lot of work still and we need to install a French drain in this area to alleviate some of the flooding issues in the winter time.  Until then … one small yard project at a time … with one raised garden bed for summer veggies, and our awesome compost pile, to start :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

3 Changes Challenges

Amanda at Run to the Finish is hosting a 3 Changes Challenge that started yesterday and will last for the next 30 days. I have a hard time with change but I can be diligent when I put my mind to something and I’m usually pretty good at sticking to my goal. So, what three changes do I want to implement for the next 30 days?

1 – Drink more water! I have been really bad about getting in 64oz of water a day even though my water bottle is sitting right on my desk staring at me all day long. I have been averaging between 32 and 48 ounces but I just cant seem to make it to 64. I’m even worse on the week ~ with an average of about 16 ounces! Yikes. This is my number one goal right now! NO more excuses. If I haven’t finished 64 ounces by the time I get home from work then I won’t be having milk with my dinner or wine after wards ~ I’ll be finishing up my water. AND if I run or cross train ~ then I darn well better be getting even more water!

2 – Take a multivitamin daily AND floss daily. These two things are SO simple and take hardly any time at all but I’m very bad about remembering to do either AND/OR both daily.

3 – Cross train at least twice a week. I actually started this last week {doing a workout DVD at home since we canceled our gym membership}. It’s a DVD that I did for a few months back in mid-2008 and I had forgotten how much I really enjoy it. It’s 4 different DVD’s with 4 different workouts {some cardio only, some weight training only, some a mixture of both} and some of the DVD’s also have “express” options for those days when you are pressed for time. I’ve done 4 workouts so far in the last 10 days and I was pretty sore the first couple of days but I’m feeling much better and enjoying {and embracing} the change. I’m currently only running 3 days a week as I am trying to build a strong solid base before I start to train for another half marathon in the fall. I’m enjoying my solo runs and the fact that all of a sudden my average pace has decreased and I can finish a 5k run in an average of 36 minutes! In the next week or two I plan to add in a 4th day of running, 1 mile to start, to see how my body reacts/feels. If it’s too much, without a rest day in between each run, then I will drop back down to three days. I’m optimistic that as long as I don’t increase my mileage by more than 10% a week then I should be fine. Especially since I’ve added in cross training. I can feel my legs getting stronger each day {and my core, too}!

The challenge runs from April 13th {yesterday} till May 13th!

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” ~Maria Robinson

“Life can either be accepted or changed. If it is not accepted, it must be changed. If it cannot be changed, then it must be accepted.” ~Unknown

“If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it.” ~Mary Engelbreit

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” ~Norman Vincent Peale

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” ~Andy Warhol

Shredded Chicken Tacos

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I mentioned on my weekly meal plan post this week that we were starting Taco Tuesday and last night we made Shredded Chicken Tacos!  I don’t know about everyone else, but Mexican Food is one of my favorites!  Anything from a simple Cheese Quesadilla to Enchilada’s to Tacos and Burritos to Taco Salad or just chips and salsa … its all GOOD. 

These are not your average Shredded Chicken Tacos.  They are better!  Last week I had made Skillet Shrimp Fajitas from Rachael Ray’s Magazine {April 2010 edition} and in that recipe it called for a caramelized onion and tomato mixture that was sooo good that I decided to incorporate it into our Shredded Chicken Tacos for Taco Tuesday!

These tacos are super easy and come together pretty quickly which makes them perfect for an easy weeknight dinner.  Try them ~ I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Shredded Chicken Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil
  • taco seasonings
  • tortillas of your choosing {we used 6 inch}
  • shredded cheese

Directions:

  • Cook your chicken ~ I like to boil my chicken because it can be boiled while its still frozen which works out well for me since I always forget to take it out of the freezer to de-thaw.
  • Slice your red onion and heat about 2 TBSP’s of olive oil over medium heat in a large pan; add the onion and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until the onions are caramelized and tender.  Add the can of diced tomatoes; increase the heat and cook until the liquid evaporates. 
  • Meanwhile wrap your tortillas in foil and place them in a 350 degree oven to warm while you are cooking.  I used our toaster oven & it worked great!
  • Once your chicken is thoroughly cooked, shred it and add it to the onion & tomato mixture.  Add in taco seasoning {we buy it in bulk at Costco ~ I used about 1 TBSP}
  • Cook until heated; serve with cheese on warmed tortillas and enjoy Taco Tuesday {or whatever day of the week it is}!

What is your favorite Mexican dish???

Monday, April 12, 2010

Meal Plan Monday {April 12th}

We had a stormy weekend … and it looks like the rain & wind are going to hang out for at least one more day.  You know what they say … April showers bring May flowers!  IF these showers ever go away I might get to finally plant my flowers!  Actually, they are forecasting sunny & warm weather for next weekend ~ the perfect weather for working in the yard & getting it ready for spring and summer.  You know me, I’ve got a nice long list of yard work that needs to get done!  I can’t wait for the warmer weather with dinners on our patio, barbequing, fires in our fire pit, watching our garden grow, planting flowers & seeing our Crepe Myrtle bloom for the first time!  I love spring time :)

We had a pretty good weekend.  We did a 5k yesterday {where I technically tied my PR time} and the husband did a mock 10k on Saturday with his running group.  My sister-in-law taught me some more basic sewing techniques and I finished a few sewing projects.  We put a rock tree ring around the Crepe Myrtle and filled it in with some mulch and go to go to the zoo for free :)  Also, I made a header for the blog.  What do you think?  I followed this tutorial!  It was super easy & I really like the way it turned out. 

I hope this work week flies by … I’m really looking forward to the forecasted warmer weather next weekend.  Thursday is the 15th … tax day.  Thankfully we got our taxes done last week!  Next weekend is my BFF/Cousin’s birthday … and next week is EARTH DAY.  I can’t wait to share all the changes we have made to live a greener life :)

On to this weeks menu …

I mentioned last week that we started Pizza Friday’s … well, this week we are also starting Taco Tuesday’s!  I’m excited. 

Monday ~ Caesar Salad & Garlic Bread {store bought}

Taco Tuesday ~ Shredded Chicken Tacos

Wednesday ~ French Bread Pizza {bakery fresh French Bread from the grocery store, tomato paste, turkey pepperoni & mozzarella cheese}

Thursday ~ Spaghetti with semi-homemade marinara sauce {for added flavor, add balsamic vinegar to your pasta sauce}

Pizza Friday ~ BBQ Chicken Pizza on this crust

Saturday

  • Breakfast ~ Egg & Sausage Sandwiches
  • Lunch ~ Black Bean Tacos
  • Dinner ~ leftover pasta

Sunday

 

*Don’t forget to check out the links … you never know what you might discover!  There are some GREAT food blogs out there too :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Zoo Zoom 5k Race Recap {April 2010}

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Today we ran the 30th annual Zoo Zoom 5k in William Land Park.  The race benefits the Sacramento Zoo and all participants get free admittance to the zoo with their race bib after the race is over.  This was my 2nd time running this race; the first time was in April 2008 and this was the husband’s first time doing this race.  The race winds through William Land Park & the surrounding area.  I really like Land Park ~ its so beautiful.  The weather this morning was PERFECT for running/racing.  It was very cloudy but not too cold.  The rain held off until after the race was over, thank goodness! 

The race started at 8am and even though they gave out timing chips they announced right before the start that everyone’s official time would be the “gun” time.  Luckily I had The Garmin so I would have a better idea of my actual race time {from the second I crossed the starting line until I finished}.  Good thing too since it was like a 20 second difference! 

Mile 1 was pretty easy.  I kept a steady pace, just cruising along, enjoying the crowd & the scenery.  Right before mile 2 we passed the husband’s teenage cousin.  She is on the track team for her school and their whole team was running the race!  Mile 2 was smooth sailing also ~ I was aiming for negative splits after having two runs last week with horrible positive splits.  I started to pick up the pace at mile 3 once I realized that I might be able to PR if I finished strong.  The course ended up being long {3.16} but I remembered to hit my lap button on The Garmin when I got to 3.1 so I would know what my time would have been if the course would have not have been long.  I crossed the finish line, along side my amazing husband who ran with me {who did a mock 10k yesterday with his half marathon running group ~ finishing in 46:38}, probably running the fastest I ever have! 

Overall it was a great race.  I feel great.  No shin or IT issues before, during or so far after.  I went into this race just wanting to have fun and enjoy myself, without even really thinking about PR’ing ~ which is too bad since if I would have just picked up the pace a little sooner I might have achieved another PR.  There’s always the next race …

3.16 / 34:02 / 10:47 average / {3.10 / 33:37 – I “tied” my current 5k PR}

  • 1 – 11:30
  • 2 – 10:48
  • 3 – 10:26
  • 0.16 – 1:16

Yay for negative splits FINALLY :)

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Walking around the zoo after the race :)

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Most of the animals were asleep except these two mighty cats :)

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Three Things Thursday

I’ve seen this posted around the blogosphere for a while and thought, hey ~ that would be a great way to post just a few random things that I am enjoying right now!

1)  It’s BASEBALL SEASON and although my Yanks lost the season opener, they came back to take 2 of 3 from the Red Sox!  Yep ~ I’m a Yankee fan and I think its going to be a GREAT season :)

2) This weekend we are doing the Zoo Zoom 5k ~ I’m very excited.  I did this race in April 2008 and I really enjoyed it ~ I’m excited to support the zoo and get free admission after the race.  I love the Sacramento Zoo!

3)  This week I ran 3.1 on Tuesday in 36:36 and today I did another 3.1 in 36:32.  Tuesday I ran alone, today I ran with the hubs.  No shin pain either day.  No IT band issues.  BUT, I’m having a problem with starting out too fast and getting tired too soon. 

Tuesday’s 5k / average pace 11:49

  • 1 – 10:50
  • 2 – 11:50
  • 3 – 12:54
  • 0.10 – 1:00

Thursday’s 5k / 11:47

  • 1 –10:43
  • 2 – 12:00
  • 3 – 12:51
  • 0.10 – 0:57

AND here’s a cute kitty photo for your viewing pleasure :)

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      Yes ~ they cuddle together {daily} and yes ~ they LOVE the heater!!!

Helpful Household Tip #2

I’m still working on editing photos from our anniversary trip last week to Napa.  I took over 500 photos and I’m currently going through them all and determining which ones I want to share :)

Until then … here’s a Helpful Household Tip I came across a while a go that I wanted to share!

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Back in November 2008 I posted my first Helpful Household Tip.  It was a tip that saved me so much time when I was removing labels from the vases for my wedding and then again when I was removing price tags from our China after our wedding.  I love that tip.  And I was so happy that my co-worker shared it with me that I blogged about it to share too.

Recently I came across another Helpful Household Tip that I want to share.  It has become standard practice in our household since we discovered it.

This Helpful Household Tip was discovered in the January 2010 issue of Family Circle

Steam Bath

“When reheating muffins, biscuits and pastries in the microwave, put a mug filled with water in with them.  The condensation helps to keep the food moist.”

I’ve tried it.  It works.  The first time I tried it was when I was reheating some leftover rolls from Thanksgiving that I frozen.  I popped in a little mug of water in with my rolls and they came out moist and warm ~ just like the day I took them out of the oven.  Now I use this Helpful Household Tip every single time I’m popping something in the microwave that I was to keep moist ~ bread, muffins, rolls, biscuits, tortillas. 

Try it.  You’ll be amazed too!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Meal Plan Monday {April 5}

We had such a great time on vacation / spring break last week.  It’s going to be HARD to go back to work today BUT it will be nice to get back into routines …

We started “Pizza Friday” a couple of weeks ago.  I got the idea from Good Things Catered where she discussed that they have Pizza Friday every week with homemade crust!  I use to plan out our meals so that we had leftovers on Friday’s ~ but pizza is pretty quick & easy and such a great “treat” at the end of the work week that I’m glad we have started “Pizza Friday”!  If you have never checked out Good Things Catered, I suggest you hop on over there right now ~ she has a ton of wonderful recipes!  And, the pizza crust?  It’s quick, easy, and SOOO good!  It may very well become my GO TO crust recipe ~ but I’m also trying other recipes too.  Last week I made Deep Dish Pizza.  I knew when I saw that recipe in my Google Reader that I had to make it.  It turned out amazing!  Finding Joy in my Kitchen has so many amazing recipes ~ you should check them out ASAP too.  This week … I’ll be trying another new crust recipe … also from Finding Joy in my Kitchen.

 

Monday ~ Taco Salad {with avocado, cheese, salsa, corn, red onion, black beans & tortilla chips over a bed of lettuce} 

Tuesday ~ Greek Pasta {adapted from Greek Chicken Pasta ~ Taste of Home magazine, April/May 2010 issue ~ I’ll be omitting the chicken}

Wednesday ~ Spring Green Risotto

Thursday ~ Skillet Shrimp Fajitas {Rachael Ray Magazine, April 2010 issue}

Friday ~ Pizza Friday ~ No Rise Pizza Crust, Mediterranean Style {artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese}

Saturday

  • Breakfast ~ Omelet's & Potatoes O’Brien {frozen} with Green Monster’s
  • Lunch ~ Tacos
  • Dinner ~ Turkey Burgers {pre-packaged & frozen ~ Jennie O Brand}

Sunday

  • Breakfast ~ Pre Race ~ English Muffin & Banana
  • Lunch ~ Post Race ~ Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  • Dinner ~ Chicken Stir Fry {adapted from a recipe found in Taste of Home Magazine, April/May 2010 issue}

 

*Check out the links … you never know what you might discover!  There are some GREAT food blogs out there :)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

March Miles

I’ve seen many versions of this monthly style recap around the blogosphere lately and I thought it would be a good way for me to recap since I’m over the weekly recaps I was doing now that my mileage is way down and I’m just starting to build my base back up.  I’ve still got the goal of 1000+++ miles for the year … but I’m realistic and I realize that I’m probably not going to get there this year.  It’s still nice to have a GOAL to work towards though! 

Miles Ran/Walk:  26.47
3/9 – 2.47
3/11 – 2.51
3/14 – 3.10
3/20 – 3.62
3/23 – 3.80
3/25 – 3.76
3/28 – 7.21

Miles year to date:  141.84 {on my way to 1000+++}
January = 78.94 {my highest month ever ~ also the peak of my injuries}
February = 36.43
March = 26.47 {my lowest month since August of last year ~ in comparison, last March I had 0 miles}

Total Races: two!  Shamrock’n Half Marathon & Nutrition Fuels Fitness 5k

Current Book(s): The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown {I also read two Nora Roberts books in March:  book two and three of the Three Sisters Island Trilogy, I read book one of the series in late February}

Current Obsessions: caffeine!  I recently purchases a French Press ~ now I’m on the search for a good coffee … currently I’m drinking Breakfast Blend by Starbucks and I’m not loving it.  Anyone have any suggestions?  I drink my coffee BLACK so its got to have good flavor without needing creamer or sugar or milk … I’m using milk right now with the Breakfast Blend because I’m just not a fan of the flavor.  

Current Drink: see above AND as always ~ WATER {but I’ve been bad the past few weeks, I need to get my water intake back up above 64 oz per day}.  Oh yeah, and all that wine while on vacation :)

Current Song: I’m really loving Hey, Soul Sister by Train.  Possibly from watching this.   

Current Wish-List: MORE VACATION DAYS, less work days …

Current Need: to win the lottery!!!  Does that count?  Vacation sure made a nice big dent in our savings …

Current Triumph: I’m still basking in the afterglow of finishing my first half marathon :)

Current Bane of my Existence: INSOMNIA.  I got so much great sleep while we were away … but now that we are back home?  Nope, not so much. 

Current Goal: to build a strong running base again and to incorporate more cross training.   I guess that means I need to get up and get moving! 

Current Indulgence: none?!?  Internet on my phone?  Too much wine?  Too much good food on vacation?  I could go on all day …

Current Blessings: my injuries healing!!!  My amazing husband and wonderful family :)

Current Excitement: SPRING and planting our garden this weekend :)