Friday, January 10, 2014

Five For Friday!

What a whirlwind of ups and downs this week has been!  And make no mistake, it has been cold, cold, COLD.  We have been homebound and a little stir-crazy, but it will be over soon.  Our temperatures are finally starting to recover and normal life can resume for most.  Linking up with Eat, Pray, Run DC, Mar on the Run, and You Signed up for What?! for Five for Friday.  Go check out these awesome ladies!

My five:

1. Our orders were finalized giving us custody of Makenzie.  Yes!!  This is wonderful because now it means that we can get her enrolled in school finally.  She needs it, we need it, this should be a huge improvement all around.

2. I was accepted as a Train Dirty Fitness Ambassador!  This is such an awesome group of ladies!  Go check out the website.  The community I have found there is amazing.  So many women on so many different fitness journeys, and all 100% supporting each other.  Love it!

3. As a result of the Polar Vortex and our wind chill temps exceeding -35F at times, on Tuesday night a pipe burst in our basement.  How does this make Five For Friday, you ask?  It could have been SO much worse!!  This could have happened while we were out of town!  Or in our upper level!  Half our basement has no carpet, some chunks of wall are missing, but thank God we do still have a livable home.  It will all be fine and honestly I think this was better than having the misfortune of a broken furnace during this ridiculous cold.

4. Thank you, thank you, thank you to my awesome friend Kaitlin for bringing me chicken soup, cough syrup, cough drops (those things saved me last night during my shift at work!), chocolate, and tissues this week.  A yucky cold got a grip on both Chris and myself on Tuesday night as we dealt with our mini-flood.  And a HUGE thanks to all of our friends for their prayers, well-wishes, and "what can we do to help?" messages following the mild storm that has been this week.  Kaitlin herself has actually said it best when she said that the friends we have here are what makes St. Louis feel like home.

5. UrbanChurch is launching THIS Sunday!  We are so excited to be part of this.  We have been desperate for church.  For community.  For not going somewhere and feeling like we are just a dollar sign.  If you have a church that has fulfilled these things for you, that's wonderful!  We gave up after a few burns in the last year, but can't wait to see the future with UC.  If you are in the St. Louis area, consider joining us!

How has your week been?  Any major Polar Vortex effects felt?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Welcome to 2014

I'm back!

Without going into a lengthy this-is-why-I've-been-MIA-for-a-few-weeks, right before Christmas, three-quarters of our household, one-by-one, caught a nasty - though short-lived - stomach bug, then we drove for 2 days to our holiday destination (aka Scottsdale, Arizona, home of my in-laws), life was crazy, then it was time to come back.  I thought I'd just share lots of pictures with you.  Who doesn't love pictures?

This is from Day 1 of our 2-day drive.  The half-way point is Amarillo, Texas, and it is our now-tradition to visit The Big Texan when passing through.  We were disappointed that someone sat down to take on the 72-ounce steak challenge right when we were leaving.  Wish we could have seen all of it.

Me and one of my closest friends.  It's been a long time since I've had a "best friend."  Kaitlin came out to Arizona for part of our trip and to say that I was thankful she was there doesn't even scratch the surface.  Love this girl.


Pumpkin challah bread that I made for Christmas Eve, which is always a big party night.  One of my favorite things to bake!

Getting James ready for bed on Christmas Eve night.  How I love this boy.  Light of my life.

The kids opening gifts on Christmas morning.  Have you heard the saying "as happy as a kid on Christmas morning"?  Of course you have.  The better one is "as happy as a parent seeing their kids' happiness on Christmas morning."  Pretty awesome.

Cinnamon-sugar almonds that Kaitlin and I made a couple of nights after Christmas.  They were a huge hit and incredibly easy!

Chris and I got to go hiking, one of our favorite things to do.  This was at the very top of Camelback Mountain, via Cholla Trail.  It was about 3.2 miles total and very intense.  I loved it!  Super sore the next morning and completely worth it!  And yep, that's a Christmas tree there.  At the top of the mountain.

Makenzie getting her nails done on New Year's Eve.  She was so patient waiting the hour before her turn.

New Year's Eve for Chris and me.  After seeing the worst movie ever (Anchorman 2), and after equally disappointing sushi, we went to Tommy Bahamas for what we knew would be great desserts and drinks.  A mai tai, mojito, butterscotch pudding, and malted chocolate pie later, we were very happy.  Our evening was not exactly exciting after that, but hey, a few hours to ourselves and getting to eat in peace was great.

I'd love to tell you that I'm sad to see 2013 go.  But truly, I am not.  I am more than happy that it is over.  There were definitely some highs in there... I started my career in fitness, we bought a house, we gained a second child..... and then there have been lows.  Without dwelling on the lows, I'll just focus on being thankful that Chris and my dearest of dear friends always have my back.

And even though we are in the middle of a blizzard as I type this, I am so happy to be home.  I despise this cold, but I am looking forward to our beginnings of 2014.  My job front is looking promising, Makenzie should start school soon (almost through all the legal aspects with that), and UrbanChurch is launching.  As of now, 2014 looks very different than what I had planned a few years ago, but I am learning to be okay with that.

How were your holidays?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

'Tis the Season for a Treat! Cake Batter Fudge

With Christmas almost here, I am quickly giving in to my urge to produce lots of tasty treats!  Last year, I satisfied this itch by mass-producing lots of goodies and then mailing them out to a few friends.  I might have to do that again.

A few days ago, I really, really wanted to make cake batter fudge.  I scoured the internet for recipes, read reviews, and settled on this one, and it's amazing!  If you know me, you know that usually I would never use a boxed mix of any sort for anything, but.... funfetti is my one exception.  No rhyme or reason, I just love it.  And side note - many recipe reviews I found on other sites said that using funfetti cake mix caused their fudge not to set up - I had no problem.  Here's the recipe:

Cake Batter Fudge

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons funfetti cake mix
2 cups powdered sugar (aka icing sugar to my Canadian friends)
1 stick of butter, diced
1/4 cup milk (I used skim)
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
sprinkles for the top, optional

Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and set aside.  Combine the cake mix and powdered sugar in a microwave-safe bowl.  Add the butter and milk, without stirring, and place in the microwave for 2 minutes.  After heating, immediately stir and then fold in the white chocolate chips.  Pour the mixture into your 8x8 pan, pressing it to spread if needed.  Add a thin layer of sprinkles and gently press them into your mixture.  Place the pan in the refrigerator for an hour or until set.  Slice into 64 pieces (trust me, 1/64 of this recipe is enough to satisfy a sweets craving!) and keep stored in the fridge.  Try no to eat it all!

I am telling you, this recipe is HEAVEN!  And you could easily get a Christmas-themed cake mix to make it more Christmas-y.

What's your go-to holiday treat?

Recipe from I'm Topsy Turvy

Friday, December 6, 2013

Five for Friday!

A couple rough days here and there, but overall a good week.  Here's the recap:

1. On Monday, my girlfriends and I had a jewelry party... Girl time, shopping, a little wine, and some yummy popcorn - it was a super fun night!  This is what I left with, in rose gold of course:

My locket represents that all you need is faith, family, and chocolate.  Like what you see?  Check out Nikki's page here.  She's such an awesome lady!

2. On Tuesday, I got to go tour my new gym.  I'm so beyond excited.  There are some awesome opportunities coming my way there and I'm so happy about them.

3. On Wednesday night, I was pulling up to the Y to teach my regular PiYo Strength class and saw this!  Made my night (well, that, and the FroYo that Chris and I enjoyed quietly later that night while the kids were sleeping!).

4. My Tuesday/Thursday night crew that I get to teach is just awesome.  They always tell me how much they love their HIIT class, and on Tuesday night they told me that they can tell they're getting stronger and that they love it!  So gratifying!!  That was just wonderful.

5. It snowed last night, and while that does NOT top my list, I DO like that it means Christmas is coming.  I do love Christmas!

Linking up with Courtney, Marlesa, and Cynthia for Five for Friday - go check out their blogs!

And don't forget to relax this season and let I'm Fit Possible know how you're treating yourself!

What's on your list this week?  Let me know!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Let's Talk about Tabata!

As I mentioned in my most recent Five for Friday post, I was hired on at another gym as of last week.  To be honest, this is the gym of my dreams - amazing studios (FOUR group studios!  Four!), a spa (complete with a sweet employee discount), and clients who are there to work.... I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it!

Right off the bat, I will be taking over a class after the beginning of January.  I'm taking over their BURN class, which is currently taught in Tabata format.  I touched on Tabata in this post, but have you ever tried it?  There's even an App you can get for your phone (note to self - put said App on your sweet new iPhone!).... it's very simple - 20 seconds of hard work, 10 seconds of rest... and repeat!  True Tabata has 8 rounds of this work/rest cycle for a total of 4 minutes, but my class is going to be an hour long.  I love it because for the first third or so of your workout, you think, 'wow, this isn't very hard'.... and then the work really sets in!  Those short intervals start to creep up on you and the fatigue starts setting in.  It's such a good burn!

Tabata is a fantastic way to build your anaerobic endurance because it's all about intervals and short recoveries.  Tabata can also be a very home-friendly workout!  Before joining a gym, I'd do variations of this frequently while James played or napped.  I wanted to give you some ideas to try out:

high knees
squats / squat jumps
lunges / jump lunges
mountain climbers
jacks with shoulder presses
plank jacks
tricep dips
planks / side planks

The possibilities are endless!

Have you tried Tabata?

Do you have any ideas to add to the list?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Happy December 1! Launching 'Tis the Season with #ImFitPossible

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into a new fitness community called I'm Fit Possible.  What I loved (and now love) about this group when looking into applying is that they are very real people.  They are women (and at least 1 guy!) who are on their own unique fitness journeys, but go about these journeys with realistic expectations.  They don't beat themselves up for some ice cream, or a missed trip to the gym.  They understand that life is so much more than muscles and salads (not that there's anything wrong with either of those!).  So I was very excited when we were told that December is going to be all about their 'Tis the Season campaign - centered on accepting the goodies that come with the holidays and enjoying these things rather than stressing about them.  I'll let them tell you more:

"‘Tis the season to relax, indulge, enjoy and breathe. There. We said it. 
Some might think it’s crazy for a fitness and wellness oriented community to support and encourage an hour of sleeping in, a little whipped cream on lattes and an evening with friends instead of an evening with free weights. Or maybe you think it’s brave, balanced and real. We hope it’s the latter. It happens anyway, so let’s embrace it. We encourage you to approach the holiday season a little differently this year. Let's focus on what we actually need this holiday season. What do we mean by that?

Introducing our ‘tis the season social campaign!

This isn’t a free pass to skip the gym or to morph into a holiday couch tater. Nor is it a cookie eating contest. That’s not what we are saying. In fact, this isn’t a holiday “challenge” at all. At I’m Fit Possible, we are all about personal fitness around the holiday season and 365 glorious days of the year. Here is the “but”. But, if you are going to skip the gym or make a deliciously sinful nutritional choice around the holidays, make it worth your while. Ditch the rules and restrictions you place on yourself and savor every last morsel, take the time to catch up with an old friend (in person or over the phone), curl up by the fire with a peppermint tea, treat yourself to a trashy, gossipy magazine and glass of wine, cuddle up with Fido, go the theatre and support local talent, clean out your closet and donate the items and enjoy every beautiful, relaxing minute. Most importantly, let go of the guilt and regret that swirls once you ditch the gym or make that poor nutritional choice. It’s done. You've made the choice. Now make the most of it. Celebrate relaxing, indulging, enjoying and breathing this holiday season. You work hard and life is about balance. The holiday season is already way too busy and stressful for most of us without the added stress of our fitness goals as well. Care for yourself instead of wrestling your goals this holiday season. 

No challenges. Just you. Enjoying life.

The way it works is simple. There isn’t a contest to enter or any hoops you have to jump through. You do not need to sign up, register or even participate every day. We have 10 lovely sponsors for our ‘tis the season campaign. Starting December 1st through December 31st, we will feature a new product and company every 3 or 4 days. You simply share how you are relaxing, enjoying, indulging and breathing this holiday season on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.  Be sure and use the #imfitpossible hashtag and mention I’m Fit Possible so we see how you are living it up this holiday season. Be sure to follow I’m Fit Possible on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as our winners will be announced every few days via social media.

From December 1st to 4th each Facebook post, Tweet and Instagram pic will earn you one chance to win an amazing prize pack from Somersault Snack Co. The more you share the more chances you have to win. That’s it. We told you it was simple! Remember to mention I’m Fit Possible in each and every tweet or post, so we don’t miss it. We will randomly choose and then announce the winner at the end of the day on December 4th and then feature a new product, with a new chance to win starting December 5th.

So, just be sure to share how you're enjoying and indulging in the holidays via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and use the hashtag #ImFitPossible and mention I'm Fit Possible!

Check out our wonderful and generous sponsors:

But wait! There is more. Throughout the month of December we will be sharing how our I’m Fit Possible Community members will be relaxing, indulging, enjoying and breathing this holiday season. Additionally we will be sharing tips from Gillian (, our community yoga gangster. She will be focussing on how to use yoga to energize, breathe and stay true to you this holiday season.

This starts now. Like right now. What do you need this holiday season to feel full? We don’t mean full of stuffing or pumpkin pie. We mean full of love, happiness and contentment. Let’s honor ourselves, enjoy every moment, leave regret and stress behind, ditch the rules and restrictions and focus on what we really need this holiday season. ‘tis the season!


So, you heard it!  Let's enjoy the holidays!  I know I'm excited!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Five for Friday!

Happy Friday to you!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Short and sweet, here's my top moments this week:

1. Interviewed and was hired at another gym this week.  This is particularly exciting because it's a place where I really can see building my full-time fitness career, both teaching group classes and working as a trainer.  I can't wait to get started and see what the future holds!  Plus, it's super close to my house, a major win.

2. Killer spin class this week.  It's such a treat these days when I get to attend a class.

3. Both kids had their checkups this week at a new pediatrician's office.  I wasn't in love with our old one for James, so I started looking for a new one and I really liked where we went.  James and Makenzie are healthy and doing well!

4. On a related note, after many, many less than wonderful days behaviorally-speaking, the kids have been awesome these past few days.  AWESOME!

5. Of course, topping the list is Thanksgiving.  This one is the best.  We've been enjoying some great family time, we had a spectacular meal yesterday, and everything that Makenzie tried yesterday was "the best I have EVER had!" in her words.  It was indeed the best turkey I've ever made.  Hands down.

Today Chris and I are going to Pump together, and then we're going to brave a couple of places on this Black Friday.  When we get home, we'll put up our first Christmas tree together.  It's going to be a great day.

Linking up with Courtney, Marlesa, and Cynthia on this great Friday.  Whatever you're doing today, I hope you have a great day and weekend!