Sunday, December 30, 2012

Evening Joggies and a New Year

I am making up for the last week of no blog posts by posting my fourth blog post in a 24-hour span. I'm pretty darn proud of myself, not going to lie. Anyway, I fully intended to run 10 miles at some point today, for my last long run of my half-marathon "training" plan. Which let it be known that there was no actual plan followed for this half. That could prove to be a bad thing, or it could work out just fine. I'm hoping for the latter.

I think what deterred me from completing this 10-miler is the fact that it's so cold (by Texas standards, anyway). And until late afternoon, it was pretty gray and dreary outside. So there are my excuses for not running. That, and I just felt like reading and watching football this afternoon. Around 3:30, one of my friends asked me to go on a bike ride, and due to the fact that my bike is currently in Austin, I opted for the rollerblade route. We biked and bladed around neighborhood, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, and we even ran into some high school friends - so typical!

It felt so good outside that I decided to get in a quick run before the sun set, so around 5:00, I set out for a run around my neighborhood. I ended up covering between four and five miles in about 43 minutes, and I realized I had forgotten how great it felt to run in my neighborhood. I felt as though I could have actually run those 10 miles, but my phone was slowly losing life, and running in the dark without a cell phone is not ideal. I am hoping to get in one more long run before the race (two weeks, eek!), and then continue steadily running four or five miles every other day. I'm counting on y'all to help hold me accountable!

New Year

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. What? Where did this year go? 2013 brings with it my final semester of not playing "teacher," my brothers high school graduation, and my 21st birthday, among other things. While 2012 certainly had its ups and downs, overall it was pretty good to me. A trip to Disney World, 

a summer in Europe, 

living at the Clubhouse with seven of my best friends, 

leading 8th grade girls alongside some wonderful people,

and just the opportunity to live in Austin, Texas, attending one of the best schools in the world are not things to be sad about. 

I truly am blessed, and as a look to 2013, and what I want from this new year, I want to be still. I am so caught up in looking ahead to what's next, and I want to learn to live in the moment, to not be stressed about things that haven't happened yet, and that are ultimately out of my control, and to just be happy with what I have right now. That's not to say that I won't be dreaming big and thinking of where I want my next big trip to be, but when something exciting happens, I want to live in the moment, instead of looking to the next thing on my list. I also want to understand that it's okay to slow down, take a deep breath, and take a break. I feel like so much of my life is go-go-go that I forget to relax and take some time for myself, which is much needed. I am so excited for 2013, and all that lies ahead, and of course, I plan to continue with this blog for all of my wonderful readers, hopefully with some new and improved pictures, courtesy of one very special Christmas present!
What are your big 2013 goals or resolutions?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Reese's Bark

I was a baking machine before Christmas. I made more brownies, cupcakes, and cookies than I care to admit. I made my usual chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chip candy-stuffed cookies, but I also whipped up a batch of peanut butter blossoms and double chocolate Christmas blossoms, along with a batch of peppermint bark. I was really excited about the peppermint bark because it's extremely easy to make, so I started dreaming up other bark recipes that I could try.

Chocolate and peanut butter go together like milk and cereal, like macaroni and cheese, like icing and cupcakes. I personally think peanut butter goes with almost everything, but chocolate and peanut butter is a combination that most people swoon over. So when the idea for some chocolate and peanut butter bark came to mind, I knew I had to act on it.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Reese's Bark

  • 2 lbs. of chocolate almond bark
  • Vegetable oil
  • Creamy peanut butter
  • Mini Reese's


1. Take a cookie sheet (with sides) and line it with foil. Spray with PAM cooking spray.
2. Melt 1 pound of the chocolate almond bark in the microwave. I typically melt it for 30 seconds at a time, stirring it a bit before sticking it back in the microwave. Add 1/2 teaspoon to the chocolate concoction and continue stirring.
3. Pour the melted chocolate onto the foil and stick it in the fridge until solid.

4. Once the chocolate has hardened, spread as much peanut butter as desired onto your hardened chocolate.
5. Stick it back into the refrigerator for about 10 more minutes before repeating step 2 with your second pound of chocolate almond bark, spreading it on top of the peanut butter layer.
6. While you are waiting for your peanut butter to harden a little bit, take your mini Reese's - as many or as few as you would like - and crush them into even smaller pieces so that after spreading your final layer of chocolate, you will be ready to sprinkle your Reese's onto this final layer.
7. Stick it back into the refrigerator for the last time, and once the chocolate has completely hardened, take it out, peel off the foil layer, and break it into pieces.
The finished product

A to Z: Restaurants

Happy Survey Sunday, everyone! I know, I know, I haven't been blogging very regularly these days, but Friday Night Lights, reading, seeing old friends, spending time with family, and sleeping has taken precedence over the ol' blog. Especially because there's not that much to blog about these days. I do have some good workouts to share with you guys - I'm still sore - so I'll work on getting better about that, seeing as that is the reason I started this blog in the first place! I think I am at my end of the year slump, but I promise that come January 1, you will see a perked up fitnessandfroyo!

I also know that we were all very concerned abbot the potential loss of SUrvey Sunday, but fear not, because I have found a solution (for at least a few weeks, anyway). I found a blog that asks you to list things from A to Z that make you happy, and I fully intend to do that one, probably as my first Survey Sunday of 2013, but I am going to do A to Z restaurants, A to Z food, A to Z stores, and really exciting stuff like that. The first one on the list is restaurants, and though you have probably seen most of these restaurants on the blog at one time or another, here is a complete list of some of my absolute favorite restaurants. Enjoy!

A- Austin Java
This coffee shop has some of the best breakfast, and though I have never actually been there for breakfast, I have had their omelettes delivered to me while I was working the front desk at SRD and it was love at first bite. 
B- Berripop
I know you are all surprised about this one! Berripop Frozen Yogurt is the key to my heart.

C- Cyclone Anaya's
Some of the best fish tacos in the city of Houston.

D- Dad's Burgers
I had the hardest time coming up with a "D" restaurant, so I'll go with my dad's hamburgers. I actually won't order a hamburger from any restaurant because I know it won't compare to my dad's.
E- Escalante's
Though I can no longer eat it, their white queso is to die for.
F- Food Heads
A hop, skip, and a jump away from my house in Austin, this house-turned-restaurant serves up some hard-to-beat sandwiches.

G- Galaxy Cafe
One of my very favorite restaurants, ever. It reminds me of my Houston favorite, Hungry's, and you can't beat their sweet potato fries!
H- Hungry's
Hands down, my absolute favorite restaurant in the world. Their black bean soup, their veggie burger, their chicken sandwich - I don't think I have ever had anything bad from there.

I- Iron Cactus
I don't remember it much, but we went there for brunch with my volleyball team freshman year, and it is an Austin hotspot, so I'd say it was a good one!
J- Jamba Juice
Jamba Juice gets the slight edge over Smoothie King in my book. Their smoothies are refreshing, delicious, and nutritious!

K- Kerbey Lane Cafe
An Austin original. They are famous for their pancakes and queso - sounds weird, it's not - but some of their regular food is delicious, too!

L- Lupe Tortilla
One of my all-time favorite Mexican restaurants. Do yourself a favor and find one near you!

M- Magnolia Cafe
A friend said your happiness is directly related to how many times you have been to "Mags" in the past month. Frequented after midnight, go for the breakfast that is served 24 hours. 
N- North by Northwest
I have only been here once, but I will certainly be returning to this Austin delight.

O- Ona
Sarah and I realized that this was really the only restaurant we ate out at in Barcelona, and we did so no less than I think five times. Their Spanish tortilla was the best in all of Spain.

P- P.F. Changs
Lettuce wraps and the Great Wall of Chocolate. You're welcome.

R- Ruggles Green
A four-star certified Green Restaurant, I know whatever I order will be delicious and nutritious.

S- Salt Lick
Barbecue had to make its way onto the list eventually - I am a product of Texas, after all. Not only is the food delicious, but the atmosphere is one you should all experience.

T- Thundercloud Subs
A big-time sandwich lover, my life changed when I had a taste of Thundercloud Subs for the first time. Okay, that's a little dramatic, but this is by far my favorite sandwich shop.

U- Uchi
Okay, I haven't actually been here yet, but how many restaurants do you know that start with a "U"? I do want to try this place, so I'll let you know when I do.
V- Vert's
A little taste of Europe, especially Germany, in Austin. They are known for their huge filling and tasty Döner Kebaps, and I highly recommend it if you are ever in Austin. Or Germany.

W- Whole Foods
Duh, this one has appeared on the blog enough times for you to know that this was coming. I have tried many different things (rare for this picky eater), and I have never tried something I didn't like. Take the food, coupled with the $.79 giant water bottle, up to the roof, and you will enjoy a delightful meal looking out on one of the greatest cities in the world.

X- I racked my brain (and Google) and couldn't find anything, so my next mission is to open a restaurant with a name beginning with the letter X
Y- Yogurt Planet
Okay, it's not my favorite yogurt shop around town, but it starts with a "Y," and they have the best pumpkin frozen yogurt I've ever tasted.

Z- Zoe's Kitchen
Steak kabobs. Enough said.

Also, a big HOOK 'EM HORNS to my Texas Longhorns, who won the Valero Alamo bowl game last night against the Oregon State Beavers. The game wasn't looking too good for us, but we came through, or rather our defense came through, in the fourth quarter and we managed to pull out the win. Texas forever, y'all. Makes me a bit more excited for football season next year!

Pinterest Workouts

As many things as I pin on Pinterest (and that's quite a bit), I should really have more to show for it. But some most of the crafts are ridiculously difficult, one cannot possibly concoct all of the dishes one has pinned, the hairstyles are certainly not happening for this girl, who tends to gather my hair in a messy bun on top of my head most of the time, and if my dream house contained everything I pinned, it would cover the entire state of Texas. I have done a few crafts, I have ordered a few products I've pinned, and I have successfully created a few recipes, but what I have done the most of is from my fitness board. Sure, I have pinned a couple hundred workouts, and some of them will never be attempted, but when I am lacking for fitness motivation and inspiration, sometimes I will turn to Pinterest for a workout.

My latest Pinterest-inspired workouts?
This 25-minute HIIT workout combined with a version of the ten down tone up workout.

Before completing the HIIT workout on the treadmill, I did the arms portion from this insanely intense workout that I also found on Pinterest, and my arms were unbelievably sore the next day. I secretly love that feeling, but I need to be doing arm workouts like this more often if I want to see the results. Maybe y'all can help hold me accountable because I tend to forget to do the weights portion of my workouts more often than I care to admit. Anyway, my arm workout looked like this:

I did one complete set before halving each of the reps for my second set. 30 of one exercise is no joke, let me tell you!

I then moved onto the HIIT treadmill workout. I don't know what it is, but the treadmill has been killing me lately. I tend to flop back and forth between running outside and running on the treadmill, and I am definitely in my running outside phase right now, because I was ready to quit after a solid seven minutes. And 8.0 usually isn't as much of a struggle as it was for me on Thursday. However, I persevered and finished the workout - very glad that I did. HIIT workout are usually some of my favorites because the speed changes so often that I can't possibly get bored. That, and I was watching Full House. Sometimes I don't think I am ever going to grow up.

After a bit of deliberation over what I wanted to do to round out my workout, I decided on this ten down tone up workout, where you do ten reps of each workout to complete round one, nine for round two, eight for round three, etc.
I ended up nixing the V-ups, because V-ups and leg lifts have always hurt my lower back, and I just did 10-9-8-7-6-5 before finishing with one final round of 10, but y'all, this was a crazy good workout. Maybe not on its own, but after a bit of cardio, you will be feeling those burpees, trust me. My whole body was sore the next day, which was good. I haven't put my body through the wringer in a while, so it felt good to push myself a bit harder, and to do something besides just straight running and spinning classes. Don't get me wrong, I love both of those things very much, but sometimes I need to shake things up a bit. So, if you are ever in the market to shake up your workout, check out my Pinterest board, and try something new. You can always modify or make things harder, but sometimes an already-drawn-up workout is just what you need to get your heart beating faster, faster!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cooking and Food

Guys, it's getting harder and harder to find surveys for Survey Sunday. That's why it's taken me so long to post this one today. This isn't the world's most exciting survey, but it allows me to post some fun pictures of food, so here goes!

What is your go-to ingredient?
Lemon pepper, if that even counts as an ingredient. I think I actually add it to everything I ever cook - it just gives it so much added flavor!
Pork loin flavored with lemon pepper
What nationality of food do you like the best?
Being from Texas, I feel like I have to say Mexican food. Either that, or Mediterranean. Fish tacos at Mexican restaurants are typically my go-to order, and if I'm going with Mediterranean, I love gyros and pitas.
Fish tacos from Cyclone Anaya's
Barbacoa tacos from Lupe Tortilla
I also acquired a taste for Spanish food when I was overseas - paella and the Spanish tortilla were my very favorites. I actually tried to prepare the tortilla for dinner one night, and though it tasted delicious, I can't say mine was anywhere near as pretty as it was over there.
My sorry attempt at recreating the tortilla
What’s your favorite meal of the day to prepare?
Dinner. I feel like I have more time to prepare dinner (I don't), so I'm more willing to try new things, as opposed to lunch when I try to just whip up something healthy and delicious as fast as I can. I also like preparing breakfast but I'll typically make some granola or muffins that will last me throughout the entire week.
Pumpkin walnut muffins
What is/are your signature dish? (What dish are you ‘known’ for?)
I wouldn't say I'm "known" for anything - maybe my roommates know me for the dairy-free pizza that I make at least three times a week. It's easy, delicious, and nutritious. Can't beat that!

What is your favorite comfort food?
Meatloaf. People knock meatloaf, but until you've tried some of my dad's, you haven't really tried meatloaf. 
What cooking shows do you watch?
I'm actually not a huge fan of watching cooking shows - they don't really hold my interest. 
Your top three favorite cookbooks are:
I feel like with the recent Pinterest phenomenon, the only cookbooks I know of are my mom and grandmother's old cookbooks. I do enjoy looking at dessert cookbooks though - the pictures are so pretty! 
Your must-have kitchen accessory is:
A crock-pot. Though I didn't use it but a couple times this semester, it makes cooking so easy. Put the meat in in the morning, throw in a couple of vegetables, and come dinner time, you are ready to eat - no additional preparation needed.
Crock-pot success
Do you ever eat fast food? If so, what?
The only fast food I ever eat is Chick-Fil-A, and I can't even remember the last time I ate it. Well, actually it was in September, but the reason for that is because in both Houston and Austin, Chick-Fil-A is not very close to where I live, so it requires an effort to go get it. I also do love Subway, if you consider that to be "fast food."
Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich
Most memorable meal you’ve had while on vacation:
Wow. This is a tough question. I loved the Paella I had while in Madrid, but the Spanish tortilla from Ona will forever hold a special place in my heart. I also loved the fish tacos from T-Rex Cafe in Orlando, Florida. The food was delicious, but the atmosphere is what made it so memorable.
And the food wasn't anything to write home about, but eating at the oldest restaurant in the world is pretty darn memorable.

What restaurant do you want to eat at that you haven’t yet?
This survey is full of tough questions! I love a good steak, so I guess I'll go with Perry's Steakhouse or Vince Young's Steakhouse in Austin - mainly because those are places I wouldn't be able to afford on my own - maybe my parents can treat me for a certain birthday that's coming up ;)
For a place that's a little less fancy, I have been meaning to try The Omelettry in Austin, but I just haven't made my way over there yet. 
What’s your favorite dessert?
Frozen yogurt. If we're being specific, a parfait from Berripop is the key to my heart.

What scent in the kitchen do you love?
I'll be very unoriginal and say homemade chocolate chip cookies, but I also love the smell of pot roast cooking.
What ingredient(s) do you avoid/dislike?
I avoid butter, mainly because I can't eat it, so I have taken to finding different substations for butter, or just different recipes all together. Also, for some reason or another, I tend to shy away from recipes using flour and I'm not exactly sure why, because it's not like I can't use whole wheat flour to make it healthier!
What’s your secret splurge at the grocery store?
Ever since one of my roommates introduced me to carob chips, I can't stop buying (and eating) them at an alarming rate. They are a great chocolate substitute for this chocolate-lovin' girl, and they're good to eat just by themselves or mixed into oatmeal bars or granola or something. I'm also at a huge loss because I cannot find them anywhere in Houston. Granted, I haven't looked that hard, but still. They're five minutes away from my house in Austin!

What’s the most decadent dish you’ve ever had?
P.F. Chang's Great Wall of Chocolate. Seriously, that is some of the best chocolate cake I have ever had. Put that in front of four girls and it will be gone in less than two minutes. 

Can you believe tomorrow is Christmas Eve? I definitely can't, especially because I have tons of baking to do tomorrow and the next few days so I can get my friends some belated Christmas presents. Oops - procrastination station over here! See y'all tomorrow!