Thursday, December 31, 2009

052. Breakfast Mash-Up

First things first my dear friends, HAPPY NEW YEAR’S EVE!

Is everyone ready to put 2009 behind them and start fresh?

While 2009 was by no means a bad year for me (I made a lot of really positive changes in myself and my life,) I am so ready for a new year to begin. I’m really looking forward to making even more progress in my life and my happiness this year. I’m looking forward to checking of most (if not all!) of the items on my 10 in 2010 list!

This morning was one of those mornings where there wasn’t anything particular I wanted to eat. I wasn’t in the mood for oatmeal which has been my go-to breakfast recently. I ended up throwing together a totally random breakfast. I had an open-face egg sammie with a bit of sharp cheddar cheese and a bowl of vanilla Okios with a sliced up banana and a ¼ c. of Kashi Honey Almond Flax cereal. (Holy protein Batman!) Despite my not being in the mood for anything, my breakfast really hit the spot.

This evening Chris’ mom, grandma, and brother (and possibly his friend Mike) are coming over for dinner. His mom and grandma haven’t seen our place yet, and they wanted to come see our tree and Christmas decorations before they get taken down. I figured tonight would be a perfect night for that since I’ll be getting out of work early which will give me lots of time to cook.

I’m planning to make spaghetti squash with marinara topped with sautéed garlic and zucchini and some fresh mozzarella. I’ll probably add some Boca crumbles to the sauce as well.

What are your plans for this evening? Do you do it up big on NYE or keep it low key?

I think NYE as a whole is pretty over-rated. I much prefer a low key evening with friends to heading out to a big party downtown somewhere. In high school, my friends Scott and Sarah always had a big party for all of us at their house. This kind of celebration is definitely my favorite way to ring in a New Year.

Chris and I decided last night to stay in tonight and have a few people over to have some drinks and play some Wii or Rock Band on the xBox. His brother Tim is coming and his friend Mike. I invited my friend Nicky over as well. My friend Jennie is having people to her house as well for I may go over there for an hour or two. Like I said before, I much prefer low-key celebrations with friends.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

051. Errand Girl

Tonight I ran a bunch of errands. I had three missions tonight.
  1. Buy some YakTrax so I can try and start getting some outdoor runs in again.
  2. Check out books on container gardening from the library
  3. Get a cute black crop sweater/ shrug to wear over my dress on Saturday.
I was successful in 2 out of the 3.

Mission One: Buy YakTrax Verdict: Mission Failed

My friend Courtney has mentioned getting a pair Yaktrax on a couple occasions. I finally got curious and Googled them. For those of you unfamiliar Yaktrax is a traction device for running (or walking) on snow and ice. The snow and ice has really put a damper on my running recently. I loathe the dreadmill, and while I do have access (free!) to a nice indoor track, I really prefer running outdoors. I'm sure this is true for most runners.

I've read a couple reviews of Yaktrax and the majority of reviews on Amazon are positive, and I really want to give them a try. I decided to hit Sport's Authority as it fit neatly in the path of the rest of my errands. Unfortunately, they only had 4 pairs of the Taktrax walkers left - no Yaktrax Pro. The sales girl said their truck comes on Tuesday so to try back then. I'll probably call first.

Mission Two: Get books on container gardening from the library Verdict: Mission Accomplished

One of the things I want to do in the coming year, and I forgot to consider in my 10 in 2010, is to grow some of my own produce. Since I don't have a yard, I'm limited to container gardening. Unfortunately I know next to nothing about gardening and even less about container gardening. I'm not much of a green thumb either. I'm the girl who has killed three basil plants in two years. I really want to have my own garden though. It's cost effective, healthy, and green. What more can a girl ask for.

Since it's the dead of winter here in Chicago (hence the need for the YakTrax and probably also the reason I didn't think to include "start a container garden" in my 10 in 2010), I'm going to spend some time doing my homework and researching container gardening. Hopefully this will up my chances of successfully growing some edible fruits and veggies (and herbs). Tonight I picked Container Gardening for Dummies and Reader's Digest Crops in Pots. I'll be sure to post reviews as I get through them. I'll probably also do a post (or series or posts) on container gardening as I learn more about it.

If anyone has any additional suggestions on books about container gardening, or gardening in general, I should read, please share!

Mission Three: Get cute crop sweater Verdict: Mission Accomplished.

Initially my plan was to go to Kohl's, but I decided I might have been luck at one of the "trendy" stores. They just opened a Forever 21 in the mall near my house so I decided to check it out. I ended up finding a black 3/4 sleeve sweater similar to this one. (I could go take a picture of the actual sweater, but I'm feeling lazy. Maybe tomorrow)

I must voice a couple complaints though. What is up with the sizing?! First of all in all the sweater browsing I did, I don't think I saw a single item bigger than a size medium. What, is it store policy to not carry anything larger than a medium? Second of all, who the hell do they size this stuff for, children? The sweater I ended up buying is a medium, but it only kind of fits. I'm not even close to being able to button it. I can't even get it to close over my boobs. It serves the purpose I need it to serve - covering my shoulders at a January 2nd wedding in cold, snowy Chicago, but seriously, what the hell people?! I've never understood why stores size their clothes for infants.

I did accept an extra mission of buying a pair of shoes for the wedding as well. I was wandering the shoes section at Kohl's and came across these. They are totally not my style, but I was instantly attracted to them. I carried them around the store with me for at least 15 minutes debating, and I sent a photo text to my best friend for her opinion. Ultimately I ended up buying them (they were $30) with the thought that if they don't look good with the dress I can always return them.

Anyway, it's already 10:30, and I still need to take a quick shower so it's time to call it a night.

050. Flexing the Kitchen Creativity Muscle (& my 50th post milestone!)

This morning I faithfully got up to Whittle My Middle.

I also discovered I forgot to put my soy milk back in the fridge after making my oatmeal yesterday. :( It was almost a full carton too - what a bummer.

Since I usually use soy milk to make my oatmeal, I decided to flex my kitchen creativity muscles. As you probably remember, I currently have an abundance of applesauce after winning Shannon's Musselman's Gift Basket Give-Away. I decided to put some of that applesauce to work this morning, and so I present to you...
Apple-Pomegranate Oats

  • 1/2c. oats
  • 1/2c. Musselman's natural, unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 c. pomegranate juice.
Cooked on the stove-top for about 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.

I topped the oats off with a pinch of shredded coconut and some goji berries.

So what's the verdict on my Apple-Pomegranate Oats?

Well, the smell was a little funky (not sure if it was the cooking applesauce or pomegranate juice) and the texture left something to be desired (It was again sticky, but that could be the oats I bought as I discussed in my post yesterday). The flavor, however, was to die for! It was the balance of apple and pomegranate. There was a bit of tartness that was offset really well by the sweetened coconut.

Overall, this was an awesome breakfast. I'll definitely be making these oats again sometime soon!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

049. Running Log

Tuesday 12/29
3 mile, indoor track, 30 minutes, 10 min/ mile average pace.

Wednesday 1/6
35 minute "The Countdown" interval workout on the treadmill.

048. A Family Adventure to the Gym

Tonight became an impromptu, family trip to the Oak Lawn Pavilion. My plan for the evening was to come home, make dinner, and head over for a run. I've been seriously neglecting my running lately, and I need to get back on track - especially since a half marathon and a sprint distance triathlon are part of my 10 in 2010.

When I got home from work, Chris told me his mom wanted us to come over for dinner. I knew if I went over there first and came back in to change after, I would not make it back out to go running so I threw on my running clothes and packed my bag so I could drop him off after his mom's and go right to the track - no excuses.

Chris' mom has a membership to the Pavilion, and his brother Tim got a membership for Christmas. Tim was planning to go over there tonight as was their mom. Of course, because no one wants to leave the house when it's below freezing outside, their mom had decided she wasn't going to go. Tim and I not only convinced her to come, but we got Chris to come with as well! All four of us headed over to the Pavilion for a little indoor track action! I ran three miles and the three of them walked about 2.

My run started out a little rough. I did the first mile at a pace of just under 11:00. I usually run just under 10:00. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. I ended up picking it up and finished averaging a 10:00 pace, but I was hurting.

I so prefer the indoor track to the dreadmill. If I could never set foot on a treadmill for the rest of my life I would die a happy woman. Running outside is always my favorite, but it's cold, snowy and icy out. I'm a mega-klutz so I'm waiting for the snow and ice to melt before I hit the road again. The indoor track is a great alternative. I can zone out and run my circles, but still feel like I'm going somewhere.

Now I'm home, I'm going to shower, clean up my kitchen - it's a total disaster zone - and then get to bed. My plan is to get up at 5:45 again tomorrow to Whittle My Middle before work.

047. Chicago French Market.

Today for lunch we headed over to the Chicago French Market in the Northwestern Train Station. This was a really interesting experience. I was definitely caught off guard as I thought we were going to a restaurant, but I was very impressed. I will definitely be going back, and I foresee many trips once it warms up.

About the Chicago French Market

The Chicago French Market brings together a unique collection of local vendors that were hand selected for their individual passions and high-quality products. Bringing together the best-of-the-best from Chicago neighborhoods and outlying areas, Chicago French Market is largely comprised of entrepreneurs, family-owned businesses and accomplished purveyors.

The Bensidoun family, the largest market operator in and around Paris since 1953, co-developed the market with Chicago-based U.S. Equities Realty, and operates and manages Chicago French Market. The family operates nearly 100 open-air and indoor markets throughout the U.S. and Europe, including 11 Chicagoland outdoor, summer weekend markets.

As with all local markets, our goal is to bring a sense of community found in the markets of Europe, and provide a place to gather, socialize and purchase quality goods.

The set-up was a bit overwhelming at first. It’s similar to a farmer’s market with the various vendor booths. We walked in at the City Market which is basically the produce, meat and seafood sections of a grocery store. I didn’t look around too much, but everything looked very fresh. Most of the restaurant vendors use local and organic ingredients, and everything looked so fresh. One could easily spend an hour wandering around.

For lunch I had a rotisserie chicken sandwich from Chicago Organic. I was actually some pretty disappointed with it. It was good, but there was definitely a lack of flavor. There were so many other options, I’m sure I could have found something better.

The five of us shared some fries from Frietkoten. They were very tasty. I love fries and these were amazing. They came topped with ketchup, mayonnaise, and chopped red onions. They were perfectly golden and crispy. They were definitely the best fries I’ve had in a while.

We also shared some dessert from Delightful Pastries. We had dark chocolate covered strawberries, tiramisu, an éclair, a lemon bar, and a pecan bar. I had half the éclair, a strawberry, and one bite of the lemon bar. They were all delish!

I definitely plan to go back and visit Raw which is an all-organic and vegan. I had a sample of the garden burger, and I definitely want more! I also want to try FLiP Crepes at some point.

If you’re ever in downtown Chicago, I recommend you check this place out. It’s well worth the trip. It’s just a hop, skip, and jump from the Sear’s Tower (I will never call it Willis Tower.) and Union Station.

046. Lessons Learned.

This morning I discovered two things.

First, I waste a lot of time in the morning. I'm not really sure how why. I get way too easily distracted by reading blogs and checking email or Facebook or SparkPeople first thing in the morning. I woke up at 5:45 this morning to get my Whittle My Middle done for the day. This is 15 minutes earier than usual. I spent about 10 minutes doing core work and yet I was still running late. I really need to work on being more efficient with my time in the morning. Any suggestions on morning time management?
Second, I learned that generic oats are not just as good. At least not in the case of the oats I bought from Jewel on Sunday night. There was a giant can of oats in the Jewel brand. I figured with as fast as I've been going through oats recently, the bigger the better. I was sorely disappointed when I made my breakfast this morning. My oatmeal, which I made the same way as I always have - 3/4 c. vanilla soy milk, 1/2 c. oats cooked on the stove, stirring occassionally - were not nearly as good. The texture was much stickier. I'm not a fan of sticky oatmeal.
Now that I'm thinking about this though, it could be the difference is that the oats I bought from Jewel are not organic. Previously I've purchased organic oats from the bulk bins at Whole Foods and a can of organic oats from Trader Joe's.
I added 1 T. of peanut butter and 2 T. of Cranberry Apple Butter.

I am absolutely in love with this Trader Joe's Cranberry Apple Butter. It's got a great strong cranberry flavor that isn't too tart or too sweet. It tastes just like the canned cranberry sauce - but better. You really only need a tablespoon or two to add really great flavor.

Monday, December 28, 2009

045. My Whittle My Middle

As I mentioned earlier today, I'm going to be doing a Whittle My Middle Challenge along with Angela. I'm using her format, but I'm altering some of the exercises.

When? Angela is starting her new challenge January 1, but I'm going to start today and finish January 30th.

Who? Anyone can join! Check out Angela's Official Whittle My Middle Challenge Page

What? Here is what I will be doing:
PICTURES: Before and after pictures on January 1st and January 30th, respectively.
2) MEASUREMENTS: Before and after measurements of my ‘smallest’ waist (above belly button for me), widest waist (just below my belly button.), and hips (over fullest part of butt)- same dates as above.
CORE WORK: 6-10 minute core workout, 5 days a week, doing the following exercises:

6 - 10 minutes total, 5 days a week for 30 days (well, 37 days). Challenge ends January 30th. My plan is to gradually work up the total minutes spent as well as the number of reps (or length of time holding the planks).

Before Measurements
Smallest part of my waist (just above belly button): 33.5"
Widest part of waist (just below belly button): 35.5"
Hips: 42"

Before Pictures to come

After Measurements
Smallest part of my waist (just above belly button):
Widest part of waist (just below belly button):

After Pictures

Day1 (Monday 12/28)

Day 2 (Tuesday 12/29)

Plank: 35 seconds (arms fully extended)
Side Planks: L, 30 seconds R, 30 seconds
Jackknifes with ball: 15 reps
Pendulums: 20 reps (10 to each side)
Reverse Crunches: 15 reps
Supermans: 35 seconds

Day 3 (Wednesday 12/30)

Plank: 30 seconds (arms fully extended)
Side Planks: L, 30 seconds R, 30 seconds
Jackknifes with ball: 15 reps
Pendulums: 20 reps (10 to each side)
Reverse Crunches: 15 reps
Supermans: 33 seconds

Day 4 (Thursday 12/31)

Day 5 (Friday 1/1)

Plank: 40 seconds (arms fully extended)
Side Planks: L, 33 seconds R, 35 seconds
Jackknifes with ball: 15 reps
Pendulums: 20 reps (10 to each side)
Reverse Crunches: 15 reps
Supermans: 33 seconds

Day 6 (Saturday 1/2)

I accidentally cleared the stop watch before I recorded the time for my plank, side planks, and superman. They were about the same as they have been the last few days.
Plank: (arms fully extended)
Side Planks: L, R,
Jackknifes with ball: 15 reps
Pendulums: 20 reps (10 to each side)
Reverse Crunches: 15 reps

Day 7 (Sunday 1/3)
Rest Day

Day 8 (Monday 1/4)
Plank: 41 seconds (arms fully extended)
Side Planks: L, 34 seconds R, 35 seconds
Jackknifes with ball: 20 reps
Pendulums: 30 reps (15 to each side)
Reverse Crunches: 20 reps
Supermans: 39 seconds

Day 9 (Tuesday 1/5)
Rest Day

Day 10 (Wednesday 1/6)
Plank: 32 seconds (arms fully extended)
Side Planks: L, 24 seconds R, 33 seconds
Jackknifes with ball: 15 reps
Pendulums: 20 reps (10 to each side)
Reverse Crunches: 15 reps
Supermans: 34 seconds
(I think my abs were tired from yoga tonight. The instructor loves to make us hold plank forever.)

Day 11 (Thursday 1/7) - Day 14 (Sunday 1/10)
I went into serious slacker mode and didn't do any of my core work. Ooops!

Day 15 (Monday 1/11)
Plank: 30 seconds (modified plank, due to wrist pain)
Side Planks: L, 34 seconds R, 32 seconds
Jackknifes with ball: 10 reps
Pendulums: 20 reps (10 to each side)
Reverse Crunches: 10 reps
Supermans: 31 seconds

Day 16 (Tuesday 1/12)
I suck and managed to delete my times again.
Plank: (modified)
Side Planks: L, R,
Jackknifes with ball: 15 reps
Pendulums: 20 reps (10 to each side)
Reverse Crunches: 15 reps

Day 17 (Wednesday 1/13)
Yoga was a ton of ab work so I skipped WMM. I'll call this my second Rest Day though.

044. Everything but the...Quiche

So, I ended up making a quiche for dinner. Some of my veggies were starting to look a little sad so I decided to make the quiche tonight before stuff started going rotten. So I started tossing things together and came out with my Everything but the...Quiche

In my quiche was spinach, red pepper, broccoli, Canadian bacon, and mild and sharp cheddar cheese.

While I was making dinner I snacked on some Goldfish crackers.

I've been really hungry all day today. I think my blood sugar is a bit out of control from all of my holiday indulgences. I need to get that back under control, and then I think my constant hunger will subside some.

Also, I apologize for the poor photo quality today. My camera battery was dead so I've been relying on my iPhone for photos today.

043. Back to Work

The first day back to work after a long weekend is always a mess for me. I am really awful when it comes to getting my stuff together the night before (e.g. making my lunch, knowing where everything I need to take to work is located), and it’s even worse when I’ve had a long weekend. Of course this left me running for the bus this morning.

I made the bus though, and overall, I’ve been having a pretty excellent day.

Breakfast this morning was a bowl of Kashi GoLean Crunch Honey Almond Flax Cereal. I think this is hands down my favorite cereal – not counting Cinnamon Toast Crunch of course which I could inhale by the boxful given the change. The cereal reminds me of HoneySmaks which I loved as a kid,
(Notice my little snowman salt and pepper shakers. They were part of my Christmas present from my brother's and Nicki. I love them!)

Lunch was a very boring, and highly unphotogenic, bowl of Campbell’s Chunky Healthy Request New England Clam Chowder. It was unimpressive and not all that satisfying, but that’s what happens when I fail to be mindful of packing a lunch. Tomorrow’s lunch will be better!

I noshed on a pretty tasty Clementine at my desk this afternoon.

Also, two of the small pieces of this Baklava may have found their way into my mouth. How do you say no to puff pastry with honey and pistachios?

I’m currently debating what to make for dinner tonight. The options are spaghetti squash, with sautéed zucchini and tomato basil marinara sauce or a quiche with spinach, broccoli, onion, cheese, red pepper and anything else in the fridge that looks good.

I’m hitting yoga at the gym with my mom tonight. I also want to get in some strength training at home. Angela is starting another Whittle My Middle challenge. I am going to participate and stick with it this time!

Also, I don’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but the Musselman’s gift basket I won over at The Daily Balance arrived on the 23rd. Since I now have an abundance of applesauce, I’m looking for creative things to do with it. Watch for my upcoming post Awesome Ideas for Applesauce.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

042. It's a Love Story Baby Just Say Yes.

It's taken me forever, but it's finally here. The Nick and Nicki engagement post!

So, last Saturday, the 19th, my brother Nick and his girlfriend Nicki graduated from Eastern Illinois University. My whole family, Nicki's mom, her brother Rob, and Rob's wife Lillie all made the trek down to Charleston for the ceremonies. Yes, ceremonies, unfortunately they're in different colleges. Nick was in the College of Business and Applied Sciences and Nicki was in the College of Science.

Front Row (left to right): Rob, Nicki's mom, my mom, my dad
Back Row (left to right): Lillie, Nicki, Alex

After Nicki's ceremony, I went with my parents to check-in at the hotel, and everyone went back to Nick and Nicki's apartment so she could change before dinner. We went to dinner at The Alamo Steakhouse & Saloon which is pretty much the only non-fast food restaurant in the Charleston area. They're food is actually really good as well.

We ate dinner and had a great time chatting. While we were waiting for dessert to arrive my brother starts talking. He thanks us all for coming down, especially Rob and Lillie who were heading back to Hawaii on a 10:00 flight the next morning, and how much it meant to him and Nicki to have us all there. He kept going on though which is really out of character for Nick. He talked about what a big step this was in their lives (the usual college graduation-type stuff). The whole time he was talking I couldn't help but think 'What the heck is going on here. We get it Nick; you're glad we're here.' The he started talking about her. That's when it hit me. My first thought was 'There's no way,' and then I realized 'Holy crap! My brother is about to propose!' He finished by telling her how much he loved her and how he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her!

Obviously, she said yes. It was so sweet! I totally cried.

Unfortunately, my mom didn't give me any sort of warning that this was going to happen so I was sitting next to them. This, combined with the fact that I really didn't know what was going on at first, limited my photo ops.

We finished up our meal and headed back to their apartment to celebrate some more!

My brother picked out the ring by himself, and he really did an amazing job. It is positively gorgeous. He took our mom and her mom with him, but he actually picked out the ring. Apparently the ring he chose was the first one he saw. The sales women spent 20 minutes trying to show him other rings, but he was dead set on the first one. It worked out well because she loves it!

In food blogger fashion, I did snap a couple pictures of my eats, but they didn't turn out that great. I did get a decent shot of the most amazing martini I think I've ever had. It was a Snicker Bar martini and it was divine.

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041. 10 in 2010

I just love Angela's 10 in 2010 so I decided it was high time I did my own. I've always been really terrible about setting goals and making lists and not following through, but this is a new year and a new me. This is a healthier, more driven me.

So here we go...10 things I want to accomplish in 2010.

  1. Run a half marathon
    I'm thinking this will happen in September. My best friend's little sister has run a half in September the last two years. When I started running she suggested I run with her. I laughed at the idea, but I'm actually really interested now. It's definitely something I'd like to do.
  2. Complete a sprint distance triathlon
    I used to swim competitively, and I've always loved biking recreationally. I don't foresee ever putting myself through the training for a half or full ironman, but I could definitely handle training for a sprint, or maybe even olympic, distance triathlon.
  3. Get back in school
    I've wanted to go back to school pretty much since I graduated. The problem has been I didn't know what I wanted to go back for. Since I began my personal journey to a healthy lifestyle, I've become very passionate about sharing my knowledge. I want to go back to school for health science. I've still got some things to consider (like how I'm going to pay for it and what I want the end result to be), but I'd really like to be back in school by the end of the year.
  4. Reach my goal weight of 135lbs.
  5. Set a new PR for my 5K time (sub 29:30)
  6. Really get my blog going
    I want to be posting regularly with meals, work-outs, and daily life stuff as well as posting "feature articles"
  7. Find a volunteer organization that's a good fit and volunteer.
    I did steal this directly from Julie's 10 in 2010; however, it's something I've been wanting to do for a while now. I used to volunteer all the time in high school. I'd really like to get back to volunteering at least a couple times a month.
  8. Do a 30 Day Vegetarian Challenge
    I think I've mentioned here before that I want to really reduce my meat consumption and do a 7 day vegetarian challenge. I'll probably do this sometime in January as a jumping off point. I'd like to do a full month challenge too though. This will really give me an idea of what living a vegetarian lifestyle is like, and it will force me to get creative.
  9. Be the best maid of honor I can be
    Nicki asked me to be her main of honor in her and my brother's wedding. I don't really know what a maid of honor is supposed to do exactly, but I'm really honored she asked me.
  10. Save Money!
    I think this is pretty high on everyone's list of things to do. I really want to start saving so that I can renovate my kitchen and bathrooms. I also want to get rid of my carpet because it's super ugly and I hate carpet. I'd like to replace it with wood laminate.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

040. Christmas Recap!

Happy Boxing Day to all my Canadian/ British blogger friends! I've got about 3 posts to get written up today, but I figured I'd start with the Christmas recap.

Christmas started Wednesday afternoon. I got out of work early and headed home to spend some quality time with my future sister-in-law Nicki. We baked cookies, got sushi, drank wine, and watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. (We're both HUGE Harry Potter nerds.)

We made chocolate dipped shortbread cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, and Snickerdoodles.

Triple chocolate shortbread cookies - dripped in white chocolate and then drizzled with dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Talk about yum!

Somehow, the Snickerdoodles went unphotographed.

Nicki and I enjoyed a couple pretzels before going out to get sushi and sitting down to watch HP. The goofy looks can probably be attributed to the bottle of wine we polished off.

Christmas Eve

My family used to spend Christmas Eve with my dad's family because it was my Grandma Ruth's birthday. After both my grandparent's had passed, we started the tradition of having the most indulgent dinner ever on Christmas Eve. Every year we have Alaskan King Crab legs, steak (filets), and creme brulee for dessert.

This year we added lamb to the mix. Nicki's mom and brother Jon joined us for dinner as well.

Sitting down to eat dinner.

This is one of the reasons I love Nicki. She is always a great time. Nicki! Don't play with your food!

The chaos and carnage.

My dad schooling us all in how to torch creme brulee.

My dessert plate. My mom's amazing creme brulee and a Snickerdoodle (the ones that didn't got photographed on Wednesday.) I was only able to eat about 1/4 of the creme brulee because I have a pretty low tolerance for dairy.

After dinner we opened one present each and then headed off to play some Wii and entertain ourselves (or in my case nap) until it was time to go to midnight mass.

I got a double boiler. I assume my mom got this because I stole hers on Wednesday to make my cookies.

Nicki got a page-a-day, brain teaser's calendar from Alex.

Nick was really excited about his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Wii game.

A little Wii Bowling tournament. Nicki's mom kicked our butts. Beginners luck?

And a few Wii Tennis matches. Look at Nicki's mom's form!

I came home after church and Chris and I exchanged gifts before going to bed. I bought him Rockband 2 for XBox, and he got my a new computer monitor which I really needed. Mine had one foot in the grave.

Christmas Morning

Christmas morning Chris and I headed over to my parent's house for presents and Christmas Day brunch which, you may remember, I was making. We got to my parent's just after 9am, and I started cooking while Chris played Wii with my brother. The menu for the day was Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip and Pumpkin Spice Stix, from Angela over at Oh She Glows. I also served a fruit tray of slice apples, pears, and grapes. All of these went really well with the dip. The main course was a breakfast casserol I made based on a recipe I found over at We also had mimosa's with a splash of passion fruit juice. Everything was delicious and thoroughly enjoyed by all family members.

I did have a bit of a kitchen mishap while making the casserole. You needed to bake the hashbrowns for about 10 minutes and then pressed them down into the bottom of the pan before adding the meat, veggies, and eggs. While I was pressing the hasbrowns down, I caught my wrist on the edge of the pans, and burned myself! I got it under cold running water right away, but it's a little raw and definitely stings a bit!
We opened presents while the breakfast casserole was baking. Santa was very nice to me this year. He brought me a Wii, with Wii Fit Plus and Wii Play. He also brought me some various Wii accessories. My brothers and Nicki got me a box full of Christmas kitchen/ dinner room stuff all matching the snowman placemats I currently have. I got a cookie jar, salt and pepper shakers, two placements, a couple hand towels, mugs, and a serving platter. I'm really excited about this stuff. I love snowman stuff because you can leave it out all winter long, not just during the Christmas season! Chris got some large cereal bowls (so he can stop complaining about how small ours are), a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, and a really nice Columbia fleece jacket.

Other gift highlights from the day were Nicki got a new wakeboard and bindings from my brother, my dad got a Snuggie, my mom got muffin top pans and an iPod touch, Nick got new wakeboard bindings and a new computer monitor, and Alex got a new stereo complete with a giant sub-woofer.

Christmas Evening

After spending Christmas morning at my parent's house, Chris and I came home so I could shower and get ready (and he could play some Rockband) before we headed to his mom's house for Christmas dinner and more gifts. Dinner was all the traditional holiday dishes - turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, seven layer salad, cranberry sauce, corn casserole - and a few other dishes - polish sausage, pierogis, sweet and sour carrot salad. Desserts were even more Christmas cookies!

Santa brought Chris and me even more cool stuff. We got wine glasses, a wine chiller and electronic bottle opener, a Christmas tree serving platter, some other white serving dishes, a set of 6 Pyrex bowls, and a Chris got some clothing and other fun stuff.

Grandma got a Snuggie too. It must be the year of the Snuggie.

Nick was jealous he didn't get a Snuggie so he put his robe on backwards.

Chris and I were nearly buried alive by our (really heavy) gifts.

The post gift unwrapping chaos.

So there's my lengthy Christmas re-cap. I have so many more photos. They're all over on my Picasa site if you want to take a look.

My mom's going to be picking me up to go to yoga and the gym soon. I need to start working off some of these Christmas calories! My ringworm is nearly cleared up, and it doesn't itch when I sweat so running starts again today. I think I'm going to revise and get back on track with my 15K training plan. I abandoned that about 2 weeks in.

I also plan to get caught up on blogging. I'm going to be on a blogging roll today!

Still to come...
  • My brother's engagement
  • My 10 in 2010
  • My re-focused fitness plan