Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Picks!

It's a pumpkin spice world out there and whether you like the seasonal flavor or not, it takes over this time of year. I made a trip to Trader Joe's last week specifically to pick up some of the pumpkin goodies that I have seen popping up in my blog reading and Instagram feed.

Canned Organic Pumpkin- Trader Joe's canned organic pumpkin is a great price ($1.99/can) and I always stock up at this time of year. There are no added ingredients either. Just pure pumpkin! 

Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels- Oh my! One of these after dinner cures my sweet craving and is the perfect mix of salty sweet. The pumpkin spice is on the stronger side and somewhat of a strange combination when you taste it, but I love it.

Pumpkin Spice Chai- Easily my favorite of the pumpkin spice finds from TJ's! This tea mix is a nice, warm afternoon treat.

Pumpkin Spice Cranberry Crisps- The perfect little crackers to have on hand for Fall! These pair well with many cheeses, dips and the apple cinnamon goat cheese that I also picked up from my friend Joe. 

Pick a peck of pumpkins treats at TJ's before they run out! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

#TeamLovie26: Weeks Six, Seven + Eight

Race day is officially TWO WEEKS away- I can't believe it! Every time I head out for a run, I am literally in awe of what our bodies can do. Thinking back to where I was just a few months ago to where I am now blows my mind. Each week, I am running more miles than ever before and breaking my own personal records, which is definitely something to be proud of. Mark said it perfect when he said that with each Saturday run, we are pushing ourselves more than we ever have. I will be happy when I can mix in some more variety into my workouts instead of only running, but for now, it's about getting my miles in and preparing for 13.1 on race day. 

Week six was AWESOME. My weekday runs felt solid and I ended the week with a nine mile run that felt wonderful. I was dreading the nine miles but once I was three miles in, I hit a true running high. My sister and I ran together, which always helps with longer distances. The weather was perfect and kept a steady pace. I'm finding that some of my cramping was due to starting out too fast. By keeping a slower pace at the beginning, it's easier to maintain for the remaining miles and just feels better. We finished in 1:43:33 and kept a 10:53 pace. This was the first run where I felt like I could keep going another 3-4 miles, which would have made it 13.1!

3 miles (3.22 miles, 9:54)Rest3 miles (3.28 miles, 9:38Rest3 miles (4.00 miles, 9:38)Rest4 miles (3.26 miles, 9:36)13.76
3 miles (3.23 miles, 9:57)Rest4 miles (4.17 miles, 9:49)Rest3 miles (3.11 miles, 9:08)5 miles (5.02 miles, 9:04)Rest15.53
3 miles (rest-sick day)3. 12 miles (9:34)4 miles (5.27 miles, 9:35)Rest3 miles (3.26 miles, 9:28)6 miles (6.26 miles, 9:48)Rest17.91
3 miles (3.29 miles, 9:32)Rest5 miles (5.15 miles, 9:41)3 miles (3.07 miles, 9:46)Rest7 miles (7.15 miles, 10:00)Rest18.66
3 miles (3.25 miles, 9:20)Rest5 miles (5.24 miles, 9:35)Rest3 miles (3.10 miles, 9:24)8 miles (8.18 miles, 9:53)19.77
4 miles (4.01 miles, 10:00)Rest5 miles (5.03 miles, 10:08)4 miles (4.07 miles, 10:29)Rest9 miles (9.24 miles, 10:53)Rest22.35
4 miles (4.14 miles, 9:59)Rest6 miles (6.08 miles, 9:47)4 miles (4.09 miles, 9:49)RestRest10 miles (10.91 miles, 10:18)25.22
RestRest5 miles (5 miles, 9:13)4 miles (4.16 miles, 9:31)Rest8 miles (8.39 miles, 10:14)Rest17.55

Week seven was good overall. I kept under a ten minute pace on all of my weekday runs, which I was happy with. During this week, I also completed my longest weekday run (six miles). I was SUPER nervous for my ten mile run that weekend- something about the double digits really had my stomach in knots. When I walked out the door on Sunday to run, I hit the pavement with the mindset of "five miles out and five miles back". Breaking it up into two smaller runs makes it less daunting. It started to sprinkle about three miles in and by the time I reached six miles, it was POURING. I got soaked, and the rain slowed me down a tad, but my run was so good. I ended up running 10.91 because I miscalculated my route but during the last .91 miles, I was flying! It was a definite reassurance for me and a great feeling once I finished. And I loved running in the rain!

Week eight, this past week, didn't feel as good, but my runs were solid. I ended up resting on Monday since I ran ten on Sunday, making it the only run I have missed in my entire training schedule up to this point. The long runs started to taper off this week, which is a nice change of pace. My eight mile run yesterday was rough, but I made it. I was happy with my 10:14 pace and was happy to have that run behind me. 

This week is my last full week of running before the race! Next week is only a few short runs, a two mile walk and an airport pickup somewhere in between to scoop up our California family!!! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

{What Will Ate} Little Green Pouch

If you have a little one/little ones, you know that food pouches overtake much of the "baby needs" aisles. The handy little snack pouches are really a brilliant little method for snacking both at home and on the go. I'm not a fan of all of the additives in many of the store bought pouches- even some of the applesauce pouches contain added sugar or citric acid and other preservatives. 

My friend Julie introduced me to these refillable pouches and Will and I are in LOVE! This takes a little bit of extra prep time, but its worth it to me. I've filled these little guys with everything from homemade strawberry applesauce to sweet potato, carrot, mango and parsnip puree. Lately, Will has been loving green smoothies after his afternoon nap and the little green pouches are perfect. I also blend up Greek yogurt and fresh fruit in the Beaba Babycook for fruit and yogurt pouches. For an easy filler, Trader Joe's organic applesauce (no added sugar or other ingredients- just apples!) is another favorite filler. To fill, I just use a spoon!

The zip top makes these easy to clean out. I run hot water through the pouch to rinse them and soak them in soapy water for a few minutes before scrubbing out. Bonus- they are also dishwasher safe! I purchased my pouches on Amazon

Monday, September 29, 2014

#TeamLovie26: Weeks Three, Four + Five

As of Saturday, week five of half marathon training is complete, making this the official halfway point! I can't believe it. The Summer humidity is finally behind us (hopefully), which has made for some great running weather the past few weeks. With Mark and I both running, it's nice to not have to worry about us both getting our runs in early in the day to beat the heat. It's always nice to get a run done first thing in the morning, but I just seem to have better runs when I run at 4 or 5pm. 

Here's a training recap in numbers:

13 miles (3.22 miles, 9:54)Rest3 miles (3.28 miles, 9:38Rest3 miles (4.00 miles, 9:38)Rest4 miles (3.26 miles, 9:36)13.76
23 miles (3.23 miles, 9:57)Rest4 miles (4.17 miles, 9:49)Rest3 miles (3.11 miles, 9:08)5 miles (5.02 miles, 9:04)Rest15.53
33 miles (rest-sick day)3. 12 miles (9:34)4 miles (5.27 miles, 9:35)Rest3 miles (3.26 miles, 9:28)6 miles (6.26 miles, 9:48)Rest17.91
43 miles (3.29 miles, 9:32)Rest5 miles (5.15 miles, 9:41)3 miles (3.07 miles, 9:46)Rest7 miles (7.15 miles, 10:00)Rest18.66
53 miles (3.25 miles, 9:20)Rest5 miles (5.24 miles, 9:35)Rest3 miles (3.10 miles, 9:24)8 miles (8.18 miles, 9:53)19.77

Week three started with a little bit of a cold, so I took Monday off to rest. Thankfully, it was a quick case of the sniffles and I was back at it on Tuesday and didn't have to skip a day on my training schedule. My six mile run that week was my toughest run to date. My legs felt fine, my breathing was great, but I got terrible side cramps within the first two miles and had to stop a few minutes to walk. Honestly, the only thing that kept me from stopping that run entirely was knowing that the last time I ran six miles, I was SEVENTEEN WEEKS PREGNANT. Yes. I wasn't about to let myself give up and when I found a good groove and tightened my abs as I ran, the pain wasn't as bad. I was glad to get that run behind me! 

Week four was overall a great week that ended with a seven mile run which might have been the best run of my life! My sister and I have been running together on the weekends and we took a new route, which I think helped a lot. It was the first crisp, fall-like morning here, the sun was shining and we kept a comfy pace the entire seven miles. During this week, I also ran Thursday instead of Friday. I think that giving my legs a day off before my longer run definitely worked to my advantage. I dug my shuffle out of my desk drawer which made for a great change in playlists, too. The best gem that appeared? The Full House theme song. 

Week five proved to be another that I was easily cruising through, until I hit Saturday's long run. Natalie was out of town and we were off on our eight miles by our lonesome. Running is just more fun with a friend. The cramps hit hard during this run and I was kicking myself for not drinking more water on Friday to prepare better. Thankfully, the weather was gorgeous on Saturday morning and I just kept powering through. I stopped to walk for a few minutes and still finished in under a ten minute mile, which I was pretty proud of. This was also my longest run in my entire life, which was definitely something to celebrate!

I'm trying to really increase my water intake! I drink a ton throughout the day, but I still don't think it's enough. I need to chug, chug, chug on Fridays especially so that my long runs aren't even longer when I'm keeled over with a side cramp. 

Overall, I'm feeling great! Every time I lace up my shoes and head out on a run, I like knowing that I'm working towards a bigger goal. When I think running a few months ago, I'm amazed at how my mind has already shifted so much in terms of what I think is a long or hard run. A three- four mile run used to be my normal, but now I look forward to those runs as the quick and easy ones to get done! 

As for shoes, I am absolutely LOVING my Saucony Ride 7 shoes. These shoes have seriously changed my running life! I was running in Nike Free Runs for the past two years and besides being cute, they really didn't do much else for my feet running-wise. Greasing my feet up with vaseline or Aquaphor has worked wonders for the occasional blister. Another great tip from my California sister

Five weeks down, five more to go! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Roasted Sweet Potato, Black Bean + Pulled Pork Bowls

My love for "bowl dinners" knows no bounds. They are colorful, healthy and full of so much flavor. All of which are stellar key details for weeknight eating, if you ask me! I've been re-mixing some of my favorite recipes and transforming them into bowl form. Can't stop, won't stop.

This recipe started as a roasted sweet potato and black bean chopped salad, then I pulled out my rock pot and cooked up my favorite pulled pork. Done and done! This recipe for Slow Cooker Beer Carnitas from How Sweet Eats is fantastic. You can never go wrong with a bottle of good beer and a solid combo of spices. While this pork is great for tacos, we often eat it plain or on top of a salad, like we have here! 

I have said it before and I will say it again, every time I use the crock pot, I'm reminded of how much I love this method of cooking! It's perfect for busy days and leaves minimal prep work when dinner time rolls around. Williams-Sonoma has a new slow cooker cookbook that I'm thinking of adding to my collection. As the weather gets cooler and Fall rolls in, slow cooker recipes are perfect. 

Roasted Sweet Potato, Black Bean + Pulled Pork Bowl

2-3 large sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks and roasted
1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed well
2 ears of corn, cooked and cut off the cob
1/4 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 Romaine heart, chopped
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to season
Lime wedges

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a bowl, toss sweet potato chunks in a Tablespoon of olive oil and season with pepper. Bake for 25- 30 minutes, or until slightly brown and crisped on the outside. 

To assemble your bowl, start with a bed of romaine. Add all vegetables and top with pulled pork. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with a lime wedge! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Will's First Birthday Bash!

It may be the first day of Fall, but before I say goodbye to Summer, 2014, here are some pictures and details from Will's First Birthday Bash back in June! This was definitely one of the highlights of our Summer. Planning this party for our sweet boy was SO. MUCH. FUN. I'm in my element when I'm party planning and entertaining and I love all of the extra details! 

A little back story...Way back when, before we even knew if our little lovie was a he or a she, a tiny pair of orange pants from Baby Gap were hanging in the nursery closet. Those orange pants with the matching onesie and zip up hoodie was the snuggliest little outfit and for whatever reason, orange became the signature color of Will. So, naturally, a little orange and teal combo was the only way to go for the party. I didn't want anything too theme-y, just bright, happy decorations, good food, and lots of people and love in our house to celebrate Will. I sent my good friend Jen (of Polka Dot Posie fame) some of my inspiration pictures for the party, and she came up with a darling invitation that couldn't have been more perfect! I literally cried when she sent me the proof. 

Will's monthly pictures made for the perfect banner decoration on our mantle. I used mini clothespins to attach the pictures to twine and used this circle party banner from Stampin' Up! to weave around. 

I used a giant easel and memo board to display some of our favorite pictures of Will from his first year. These were so much fun to look at. 

My mom made this incredible banner to hang outside on our screened in porch. It was one of my favorite decorations! The tiny details really made this pop. All of the products used are from Stampin' Up! as well. 

These cute lanterns from Target's party section hung over our drink table. My mom embellished two of them with washi tape and scrapbook paper- we LOVED the way these turned out! 

I ordered orange, gray and teal straws from Etsy and grabbed orange solo cups at Party City and found the orange striped napkins at Michael's. I love using mason jars and filling them with grocery store flowers for small touches throughout the house. This is an inexpensive way to add a little something extra to tablescapes, bar areas and end tables. Even the bathroom had a mason jar filled with a few white gerber daisies. 

With the help of my parents and my professional chef Godmother, we came up with a menu that was both easy to prep and cook, and also impressive to party guests. If I have learned anything with party planning, it's that making 4-5 items in bulk is much easier than making several different appetizers and smaller bites. This menu is perfect for a Summer party! 

No first birthday party is complete without a smash cake! My sister out did herself with this sweet creation and Will diving into it was certainly the highlight of the party. Andi made a homemade funfetti cake with blue vanilla buttercream and the most darling little bunting as a cake topper. Everything about this was perfect. Love love love! 

I think this moment was one of the highlights of Will's first year of life! 

Andi also made funfetti cupcakes for dessert! Simple and sweet. 

...and the after party was just as fun!

Special thanks to my parents and sisters for ALL of their help- we couldn't have pulled this off without them. And much love and many thanks to all of our dear family and friends who came to celebrate with us! We love you all. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Pizza Knots

Fridays were made for eating (homemade) pizza and whoever decided that this was a rule should be crowned. Most Fridays, our homemade pizza tradition continues and it's a meal we look forward to all week long. 

These sweet little pizza knots have joined the Friday night pizza party and we are obsessed. They are the perfect little pre-pizza bites and oh so decadent when dipped in our favorite olive oils. We set up a little dipping station and enjoy these while we wait for the giant pies to come out of the oven. 

If we are having company, I typically make one batch of my Neapolitan Pizza Dough plus an extra half batch. One batch makes two large pizzas and I use the half batch for the knots. If it's just Mark and I eating, I make one batch of dough, making one large pizza and a bunch of knots.

Pizza Knots

1/2 batch of my Neapolitan Pizza Dough 
Olive oil, for brushing
Coarse salt
Olive oil, for dipping
Marinara, for dipping

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees.

Once the dough has risen, divide accordingly. With the dough that has been set aside for knots, I cut in half, then those halves in half, etc., etc., yielding 16-24 smaller balls of dough. Roll each piece out to about 5-6" pieces and knot. 

When the oven has reached 500 degrees, pull out the pizza stone. Place the knots on the stone and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake for 7-8 minutes. 

Serve, dip and enjoy!