Fitness, Food and Photography

Follow me on my road to fitness… Because it's all about the journey, not the destination.

November Foodie Penpals Reveal

FPP post Foodie Penpals November Reveal Day

It’s reveal day!!!  First, I want to thank the beautiful and talented Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean for organizing such a fun program.

I was paired up with Carrie, a blogger from Aunt on the Run.  She asked me if I had any dietary restrictions or allergies, but I told her I didn’t – I love all foods and I’m always up for trying something new.  I think she did really well picking out my goodies:


Everything she sent was local food from Texas.  I love that.

the goods

I’ve never seen those Thunderbird Energetica bars before.  I was anxious to try it.  Handmade with all natural ingredients.  This was Sweet Lemon Rain Dance flavor with apricots, cashews, cashew butter, pea protein, coconut sap, lemon extract and salt.  That’s it.  No other ingredients.  It was really quite tasty.  It has a little more sugar than I like to consume in one sitting (14 grams), but I ate it prior to a long run so I’m sure I burned it off.


I love chili!  I can’t wait to use this chili mix.  With all the craziness of Thanksgiving, I didn’t have time to make a pot of chili yet.  But as the weather gets colder, I’m going to want some chili very soon!

honey and jelly

Mmmm… local honey and local jam.  Peach is my hubby’s favorite.  He couldn’t wait to get this jar opened.  It was perfect spread on an English muffin.  Yummy!!

So thank you, Carrie, for the Texas treats.

The package I sent out went all the way to a reader in California.  Here’s a pic of what I sent to Jeremy.  He doesn’t have a blog so you won’t be able to read about it.  He told me that he likes dark chocolate, so I went a little crazy at the Trader Joe’s.  🙂

food box

If you want to join the Foodie Penpals, you’ll have to wait til January.  She’s doing something a little different for December.  She is asking that you donate the money you would have spent on Foodie Penpals and donate it to New York Cares, which is providing disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy.  Details will be on her website on Monday, so please check back!

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November Bulu Box Review


I have no idea why all my photos are sideways.  I apologize – you’ll have to tilt your head to see it.

What’s included:

Almased:  A metabolism booster which supports fat loss and ensures muscle retention.  It’s in powder form and you mix it with milk or water.  I chose water.  It’s supposed to be a meal replacement for weight loss or a supplement for wellness.  I was not a fan.

CocoaWell True Energy:  a pill that supposedly enhanced energy, fights fatigue and stress.  It’s hard to tell with only one pill if it works or not.

Crystal Essence Mineral Deodorant: a crystal-infused towelette.  I do have to say, this came in quite handy since I started running during my lunch hour.  It’s so nice to wipe the sweat off before putting work clothes back on!

Perky Jerky: a healthy satisfying snack flavored with guarana

FRS Healthy Energy Chews:  formulated with quercetin, a powerful all-natural antioxidant

I really wanted to like these FRS healthy energy chews, but the flavor was so weird.  It almost tasted like medicine halfway through the chew.  I might buy those again, but I wouldn’t get the pineapple mango.  (Which is crazy because I love love love pineapples).

The Perky Jerky, on the other hand, was awesome!!  Very tasty.  I could have eaten triple the amount they gave me in this sample.  YUM!!  I will definitely be buying this one.

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What I Ate Wednesday – 11/28/12

I love Wednesdays just becuase it’s What I Ate Wednesday day.  And it’s Hump Day.  🙂

Today was a crazy day.  I had to be at a client’s office at 6:30am to do open enrollment meetings.  The client is 45 minutes away from my house.  I had to leave my house at 5:45am, which meant I had to get in the shower at 4:30am.  Yikes!!  That is early.

So that meant I was having breakfast in my car.

It also meant I was STARVING by 10am and it felt like it should have been lunch time.

Leaving the house so early also meant I didn’t have time to make a real lunch.  So I grabbed some veggies and threw them in a baggie.

I also had a hard-boiled egg, but it escaped being photographed.

My new favorite snack.  Dark chocolate dove promise.  Thank you, Dove.  Yes, I belive I did enjoy about one minute of bliss while I was savoring my treat.  However, then it was back to work.  Bliss over.

For dinner, we took my Mom out for her birthday.  She chose a little place called Newk’s.  I’d never been there before, so I was happy to try it out.

A few of the salads sounded really good.  And since I had checked the Nutritional Information online before going, I chose the Black and Blue.

It was just okay.  A little too heavy on the bleu.  And it needed something …. not sure what, but it was missing a certain pizzaz.

We had fun, though.  And the 7-year old let me snap a quick pic in front of the pretty tree.  I wish this one was in my house.  I dread putting the tree up.

So that was my Wednesday.  And I was more than ready to get home, put pajamas on and fall into bed!!  Thankfully Thursday is a normal day and I don’t have to be up quite so early.


Weekend Recap: Painting and Brick Moving

After Thanksgiving with my family, we headed to North Carolina for a working weekend with hubby’s family.  His sister and brother-in-law just bought their first house.  You may remember them from this post.  They are both potters and own a studio in downtown Bakersville.

So we offered to help them move.  I was so busy all weekend that I hardly took any pictures at all.  That is so unlike me.  But really, we were busy!

They’ve owned the house for a month now and have been working hard on pulling up the carpet, painting the walls and getting it ready to move in.  The kitchen was the last room that needed color.  Greg and I were happy to oblige.

While Greg finished the painting, I helped move bricks.  Yes, bricks.  One day, these bricks will be part of a kiln on their new property.  But first, we had to move them from the old house to the new house.  These bricks weigh 8 pounds each!!

What you see in this picture is only a fraction of the number of bricks.  There must be at least 6 or 8 pallets worth in total.  It’s hard to know for sure how many bricks there are.

5 bricks = 40 pounds.   I wish I had counted the number of bricks I moved.

One trailer full.  We made at least 5 trips.

Here they are stacked up at the new house.  And that’s not even all of them.  That was a workout for sure!!

The kids chilled on the couch watching Monsters, Inc. while we worked.  Rough life.

By the time we got back to Knoxville, I was completely worn out.

But I am very excited to participate in the Elf4Health challenge sponsored by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean and Elle at Nutritionella.  Challenge starts on Monday, the 26th.  You can read the rules HERE.  My first elf buddy is Anna at History Running Girl.

The first challenge is Meatless Monday.  Here is my Hard-boiled egg on whole wheat wrap with spinach.  YUM!!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful

From WordPressThankful. In the United States, yesterday was Thanksgiving, a holiday where people spend time with family and friends and remember the things they’re thankful for.

I think the idea of being thankful and reflecting back on good things in your life is something that naturally happens towards the end of a calendar year. This year, I’m really thankful for my good health, which affects everything and everyone else in my life! These legs and feet take me everywhere I need to go!

Share a picture which means THANKFUL to you!

I’m know this is cliche and I’m certain it will be way overused in this theme, but I can’t help but be thankful for my family….

Most of all, I’m so very thankful that my sweet 2-1/2 daughter is very healthy now, despite the rough start she had.  Born 16 weeks early at only 1 lb, 9 oz, she fought for her life in the NICU for 4-1/2 months.

It’s hard to go back and look at these pictures, to remember this difficult time.  But this is where she came from.  Because of this, she is a tough little girl.

And now look at that precious little face.  She is such a little sweetheart too.  I know God has big plans for her!


What I Ate … on Thanksgiving

After running an 8k on Thursday morning, I thought I would starve to death before we made it to Chattanooga for lunch.  We were supposed to be there at noon, but I didn’t get home from the race til 10am and I still had to shower and get the kids ready.  Then it’s a 90-minute drive.  So needless to say we were running late.

So they started without us.  (That’s my family for ya)  🙂

By the time I got to photograph the food, it wasn’t pretty any more.

They had already demolished one pan of squash casserole before I ever got there.

I made the pumpkin pie (because what is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie?!?)  It hardly got touched.  That’s fine – more for me later!  🙂

And my mom requested I make Snickerdoodle cookies.  If you’ve ever made Snickerdoodles, you understand how time consuming they can be.  Rolling all the dough into little balls and then dunking them in cinnamon and sugar before baking.  Bars are sooooooo much easier.  And considering the fact that I wasn’t feeling well anyways, I opted for the easier recipe.

I found this recipe for Snickerdoodle bars.  Not healthy in the least.  I considered making my zucchini brownies, but since Mom requested Snickerdoodles, I decided to grant her wish.

Her response?  They were too sweet.  Too sweet??  Well, duh.  Did you see how much sugar was in them??  What did you think cookies were made of???  I didn’t hear anyone else complaining … those things disappeared!!

I filled my plate with turkey, squash casserole, dressing, corn, carrots, green beans and a deviled egg.  I didn’t get any mashed potatoes or rolls.  This the first year in history I didn’t touch those melt-in-your-mouth Sister Schubert yeast rolls.  Funny thing is I didn’t really want one.  And I didn’t have dessert either.  Can you believe it?!?!

My daughter, on the other hand, ONLY ate mashed potatoes and rolls.


My cousin used to breed Great Danes.  So he brought his 6-year old Great Dane, Bosco, over for a visit.  Look how HUGE that dog is!  The kids had fun playing with him in the backyard.


What’s my favorite part of getting together??  The family photos, of course.

And we try to remember to do an annual group shot.  This year’s:

Here’s last year’s:

It’s amazing to see how much the kids have grown in one year.

In 2010, we had to skip Thanksgiving festivities because of germs.  (Plus she was still on the heart monitor and using a feeding tube).  We had just brought Lucy home after 4-1/2 months in the NICU.  (She was born at 24 weeks, 1-lb,9-oz).  It was entering RSV season and we didn’t want to risk catching anything.  So 2010 was the year we missed Thanksgiving and Christmas.




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Autumnfest 8k – New PR

So I signed up for this 8k over a month ago.  I’ve been looking forward to it and preparing for it for weeks now.  And then wham! I get hit with some sort of cold/sinus infection this week.  I can’t breathe through my nose, my sinus cavities hurt, and overall I just don’t feel good.  But was I going to let that stop me from running in this race?  Heck no!!  I just took some Sudafed and put my running face on.

The kids had a “Little Gobbler” run before the 8k.  It was only about 100 yards, but I signed Luke up for 2 reasons.  1- He got a t-shirt, and 2- I wanted to get him excited about running.  This would be his first race and since it was a short one, I knew he could do it.  He usually complains about his legs hurting when we walk more than a mile in our neighborhood, so I need to toughen him up.

I love that a Director of the KTC dressed up like a turkey!!  That’s awesome.

So, they changed the course this year and I didn’t have a chance to even look at it before we started the race.  I had no idea what to expect, other than I knew we were running through the streets of downtown Knoxville.  So I really shouldn’t have been surprised by how hilly the course was.

OH MY GOSH.  It’s Knoxville, people.  I guess if I want flat, I should move to Florida.

The start/ finish line was at World’s Fair Park.

endomondo app

I started off FAST.  The crowd, the excitement, it always helps me run a little faster than normal.  My first mile clocked in a 8:37.  But then there was a hill.  There were lots of hills.  I hate hills.

This was one of the last hills around mile 4.  It was also the worst hill.  Felt like it went on forever. There is a hill in the Knoxville Marathon around mile 7 at Noelton Drive.  If you know what I’m talking about, well, this was WORSE than Noelton.

Anyway, I got behind the turkey at the end and just had to snap a pic while we were running.  This was the home stretch.

Official chip time:  47:30

I placed 496th (of 929 runners).  I don’t believe they give awards that far back.  🙂

I was 33rd of 64 in my age group.

As a runner, I’m not competing with anyone but myself.  And I am very proud to say this was a PR for me!!  Despite the cold weather and despite the fact that I felt like crap, doped up on Sudafed, I still managed to push myself through the hilly course.  The distance isn’t a common one – 8k.  The last time I ran this race was in 2003.  My time was 54:52.  (I also seem to recall I had some IT band issues then too).

Regardless, it was a PR!!

I am very thankful that the whole family came with me for support.  The kids got to dance in the lawn and enjoy the post-race snacks.

That’s the post race tent.  And the building you see in the background (with the eyes), that’s the Knoxville Museum of Art.

We had a great time.  And I’m pretty sure I earned that pumpkin pie!!  🙂 🙂 🙂


Healthy Brownies with Zucchini

These were a huge hit at my party on Saturday.  And an even bigger hit with my kids!!  I’m thrilled, of course, that I found a way to sneak in an extra serving of veggies to my unsuspecting children.


Healthy Brownies with Zucchini

Adapted from Spark People

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 small bananas, mashed

1 cup brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1-1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups finely shredded zucchini

2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9×13 pan.

In large bowl, mix together the applesauce, bananas, sugar, vanilla and cocoa.  Mix well.  Then add baking soda, salt, and zucchini.  Turn mixer on high to make sure it is thoroughly combined.  Slowly add flour.  Spread evenly into pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

made with love


YUM!!  Makes 24 servings.  Kid-approved.  And at only 122 calories per serving, it’s free of guilt.


Monday Motivation – 11/19/12

Also titled “Maintain Don’t Gain Wellness Challenge Tip #3”

Warning:  There’s not a cute little sign in this post.  This week’s tip is regarding SUGAR.  Do you know how much sugar you are consuming every day?  Start reading your labels – sugar is hidden in most every processed food.  Even a small kids carton of 100% apple juice contains 22 grams of sugar.

The American Heart Association recommends that women have no more than 20 grams of sugar per day.  For men, they recommend no more than 36 grams per day.  And for children, only 12 grams per day.  So if your child drinks one small carton of 100% apple juice, they have almost doubled their recommended sugar intake for the day.  Shocking, I know.  Because you think 100% apple juice would be healthy.  But it’s all sugar. Excess sugar can alter metabolism, raise blood pressure, skew the signaling of hormones and damage the liver.  Hmm… sounds a lot like what alcohol does to you too.

In fact, a team of researchers from the University of California argue that sugar should be considered a controlled substance just like alcohol and tobacco because it poses enough health risks.

In an opinion piece called “The Toxic Truth About Sugar” that was published Feb. 1 in the journal Nature, Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt and Claire Brindis argue that it’s a misnomer to consider sugar just “empty calories.” They write:

“There is nothing empty about these calories. A growing body of scientific evidence is showing that fructose can trigger processes that lead to liver toxicity and a host of other chronic diseases. A little is not a problem, but a lot kills — slowly.”

We’re a nation that’s sweet on sugar: the average U.S. adult downs 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, according to the American Heart Association, and surveys have found that teens swallow 34 teaspoons.

No one is claiming the effect of sugar is quite that potent, but, says Brownell, “it helps confirm what people tell you anecdotally, that they crave sugar and have withdrawal symptoms when they stop eating it.”

Dr Lustig is a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California.  You can watch his 90 minute lecture on YouTube here:  Sugar: The Bitter Truth   It’s FASCINATING.  He is an excellent speaker.

And I highly recommend you read this 2011 New York Times article written by Gary Taubes:  Is Sugar Toxic?   Gary Taubes has written a number of articles and books, all regarding nutrition.

After reading the article and watching the video, I’ll let you make your own determination about whether sugar is bad.  But I know I’m going to start avoiding it like the plague.

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Weekend Recap: Cleaning and Party time

This weekend was a blur!  So much to do!  First things first, though, I have to show you where we found our Elf on the Shelf Saturday morning:

He was playing Legos all night long.  This freaked out my 7-year old.  He wanted to know how he could carry the legos downstairs.

Then we went to drop off our Operation Christmas Child box.

samaritan's purse

Hubby was hunting so I had the kids by myself.  So I put them to work.  I made the 7-year old clean his room while the 2-year old helped me bake.  (Notice the same cheesy smile in every picture).

I spent most of the day Saturday cleaning the house getting ready for a “girls party” at my house.  It took me 2 hours to scrub every surface in the kitchen.  This is the cleanest this kitchen has been in a really long time …. probably since before we had kids.  🙂

I was selected to host a Snapfish House Party.  Have you guys ever heard of House Party??  I signed up with them over a year ago after a friend of mine hosted a party.  I’ve applied to host lots of parties but not been approved until now.  Basically, if you are selected to host a party, you agree to show off the products (whatever it may be) and in return they send you free products.  Well, I was finally selected as a host for a Snapfish party.  I could not have been more thrilled.  I love Snapfish.

As a host, I was able to create my own 50-page hardcover photo book for FREE!!  I also got a box of Christmas cards for FREE!!  And all my guests got coupon codes for discounts on their books or cards.

I always love planning a party, simply for the food:

Mini quiche with broccoli

Zucchini Brownies and Protein Oat Balls

And wine, of course

We ended up talking the whole time rather than making photo books, but we still had fun.  And I am very grateful to House Party and Snapfish!!

being silly with the props Snapfish sent us

On Sunday I was so tired from all the festitivies the day before to do much of anything.  I did manage to get in a 3-mile walk in my neighborhood, though.  It was a beautiful day!!  Only 4 more days til the Thanksgiving 8k race.  I’m getting excited.


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