Friday, August 31, 2012

Friendly Friday Night

It’s Friday!  Seems like a good time to finally post a few pictures from Friday night a couple weeks ago.

A group of us went over to Chelle and Jeremy’s to celebrate Scott’s birthday.



Chelle played bartender.



I took self-portraits.



I took three desserts over there.

A strawberry Jell-O pie with a pretzel crust.


And these No-Bake Nutella & Peanut Butter Graham Bars with my favorite fudge frosting.


But the dessert I made FOR Scott in honor of his birthday was a batch of Three Musketeers Cupcakes.


The frosting was made with melted Three Musketeers candy bars and it was delicious, but it was very dense and sorta pliable so it was a different animal from the buttercream I’m used to working with.


These cupcakes have a mini Three Musketeers candy bar baked inside so between that and the frosting, there was no doubt where this little confection got its flavor.


Chelle said Scott liked chocolate so I figured these cupcakes would be perfect.  Turns out, he doesn’t like chocolate as much as some of us.  Guess which treat he liked best?  The strawberry Jell-O pie!  Good thing I made that last-minute decision to add the pink pie to the mix.

Raise your hand if you’re excited about the three-day weekend.  Me me me! ::Waving arm wildly::  I have a nice mix of chilling out, hanging with friends, to-do items, and exercise (Only 8 miles to run tomorrow!) to look forward to.

Hope you guys have a good long weekend, and I’ll “see” you on Tuesday.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Helpful hint

No real post for you today.  I didn’t get home until 8:00 after spinning last night then I had to make some vanilla buttercream frosting and get it on the cake I made, assembled, and froze the night before.

This cake is for my boss, whose birthday is today.

I’ll do the cake justice with its own post at some point.  For now, I’m leaving you with this video of a super easy and clean way to separate eggs.

(You don’t even need sound for this video.  It’s in Chinese so you won’t understand it anyway, but the demonstrations get the point across.)

Separating Eggs

And now that I know this little trick, I’m thinking I need to make this cake, which calls for 7 eggs to be separated.  Who wants to eat my experiment?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What-am-I-gonna-watch Wednesday

Time for a comedy.  I don’t watch The Office so I’m not really familiar with Mindy Kaling, but her new show, The Mindy Project, looks interesting and funny.  And it’s only 30 minutes long so I can definitely find room in my schedule for it.

The Mindy Project

If you’re intrigued, you can watch the season premiere online until September 9th.  I know my summertime TV shows are winding down so I think I’ll probably end up watching this over the long weekend.

Happy Hump Day! I’m breaking tradition by eating lunch somewhere other than Subway this afternoon. 

That’s right, I’ve got a date with a McHottie. Winking smile

The McHusband needs to be out my way for work around my normal lunchtime so we’re going to meet up at Which Wich?, one of our favorite sandwich shops.

No work on Monday, a lunch date on Wednesday, then we’re closing up early on Friday before the Labor Day weekend.  I could definitely get used to this schedule.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

18 miles

I ran 18 miles yesterday and made a fabulous dinner of salmon, steamed cauliflower, and quinoa with zucchini, mushroom, and onion. 


And did I mention I was prepping and cooking dinner while some banana bread baked in the oven?  Move over, Martha!

So the 18 miles.  I ran at the American Tobacco Trail again and I had to go one mile further than I did a couple weeks ago before I turned around.  That was a looooong mile.  For some reason, getting to nine miles, my turnaround point, was harder than running from there back to about the four-mile marker.  At that point, I’d run 14 miles and was ready to be done.  I was hungry and thirsty for some cold water, and I wanted to be on the couch enjoying my day at home.  But I still had four miles to go.

On the upside, I didn’t have any IT band pain.  Hallelujah!  I actually kept waiting for the telltale twinges but they never came.  I had other aches, sure, but not the ones that have been so debilitating in the past.  I’ve been doing a new stretch plus keeping on top of my foam-rolling so maybe those things combined with the new shoes did the trick.

You might notice an Instagram picture over there -------------------> of a glass of wine.  I need to remind myself while I’m pounding the pavement how it pays off later.  15 ounces of wine is but a drop in the calorie bucket when you burn about 1,375 of them running.

P.S. Happy Birthday to my dad and Bronte!

Monday, August 27, 2012

We went to Charlotte

I’m not working today, woo hoo!  The McHusband and I went to Charlotte this past weekend.  I wanted to get back there before the end of the summer, or else it was going to be Thanksgiving before we made it to the Queen City again.  Many of you know that if I travel over the weekend, I take the following Monday off – it’s the perk of never getting sick and needing to take a personal day.  Instead, I schedule my mental health days, which my office has come to expect and prefer over unplanned days off.

We headed to Charlotte on Friday after work and about halfway there, I read an email from the McMom that says they’re in the hospital having the McDad’s heart checked out.  He was feeling some fluttering and the irregularity of his heartbeat was troubling, to say the least.  After dropping the dogs and our stuff at the house, we headed to the hospital and spent the next couple of hours visiting, first in a treatment room in the emergency area and then up in the Cardiac Care Unit.

Here we are waiting while the McDad got settled into his room at the inn.

The McDad spent the night in the hospital but was home by around noon the next day with his heart back in rhythm.  We are thankful that the situation wasn’t any more serious and that he stayed in the hospital overnight, which allowed the doctor to get information about what his heart was doing as well as how to medicate him for now.

I spent the first part of Saturday with Bri and her girls.  We went to the mall and I helped Lyla spend her Build-a-Bear gift card, the one I gave her for her birthday.


After lunch at the mall, we headed back to Bri’s because my mom, Shannon, and her kids were joining us.  I’ll do a full weekend recap over the course of several posts, hopefully before too much time goes by.  Way too many cute pictures to share to gloss over the weekend in one Sunday-night/Monday-morning post.

We had gorgeous weather for the drive back to Raleigh Sunday afternoon.  I realize it’s the end of August and summer’s winding down, but we North Carolinians still appreciate a non-humid day before the dog days of summer officially come to an end.

And speaking of dogs…


Tucker couldn’t relax until the McHusband got back from his trip into the gas station.

Oh yeah, guess what I’m doing on my day off?  An 18-mile training run.  Wish me luck!

Friday, August 24, 2012


Well, the bad news is that if you were in the market for a townhouse, ours is no longer on the market.  The good news is, we sold the townhouse!


After about six months on the market and many showings, the right buyers finally came around.  We accepted a little less than we ultimately wanted, but we still made out okay with this first toe-dipping into the shallow end of the house-flipping pool.  I mean, I don’t think Hollywood’s going to come looking to follow us around with cameras for a reality show or anything, but we came out ahead just like we wanted.

Ahh, the weekend’s upon us!  And I’m so ready for it.  Can you believe it's the last weekend in August already?  This summer went by crazy fast.

TGIF and have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

{Recipe Recap} Chocolate Toffee Bars

I like baking for Sara.  She has the same taste in sweets as I do.  She loves chocolate-topped chocolate and toffee, and probably 97% of the dessert recipes I have saved involve one or both of those ingredients.  The hard part was deciding WHICH treat to make for Sara’s birthday. 

I’d made some bars for Sara and Cliff when Henry was born and those had a shortbread layer, which Cliff and Sara both really liked.  I recalled that when I saw this recipe so I figured it would go over well. 

Shortbread: check. 

Chocolate: check. 

Toffee: check! 


These bars were grounded by the toffee-shortbread layer, which wasn’t overly sweet.  The fudgy layer in between the “crust” and the cookie dough?  Divine!


These three layers were a delicious trio. 


And a heavy one since they were quite dense. 


One thing I liked about this recipe is that there was plenty of cookie dough to go on top.  I didn’t feel like I had to stretch the dough to cover the whole pan, and there was enough for some sampling.


Mmm, writing this post is making me want more of these.  Quick, someone invite me to a Labor Day cookout so I have a reason to make another batch.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What-am-I-gonna-watch Wednesday

Revolution preview

Another show I’m interested in for the fall TV season.  Mostly it’s about one of my greatest fears: no electricity to run my DVR!

This is a JJ Abrams show.  You might remember him from a certain cliffhanger-less, easy-to-figure-out, neatly-wrapped-up show called Lost.

That’s all I have for today.  It’s time for me to stretch and use my foam roller.  I got up and ran my 33 minutes this morning (ugh, that 4:45 wake-up call is awful) and my leg is feeling awfully tight.  I have to run 18 miles this weekend so I need to take care of my IT band and hopefully it’ll take care of me. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cuteness on Tuesday

Who knew frozen water could be so entertaining.

{Video here}

(I tried to embed this video but I kept getting an error and I was too tired to keep playing with it.  So I apologize, but you’ll have to follow the link to see what kind of adorable-ness I’m sharing.)

Look, even the kitties want to see what we’re watching.


Monday, August 20, 2012

A “before” post (I hope)

Here we are on Monday again.  I hope everyone enjoyed their weekends.  Mine was pretty great actually.  A cookout with friends Friday night, dinner and dessert with more friends on Saturday, then I stayed in my pajamas ALL day Sunday.  Please don’t confuse my choice of wardrobe with my activity level though.  While I wasn’t quite as productive as the day before when I ran 8 miles before thoroughly cleaning the downstairs AND making an icebox pie, I still got a fair amount done.  There was the usual laundry, and then the very unusual scrubbing of our bathroom.

I actually don’t mind cleaning in general, but for some reason I dread doing our bathroom.  I think it’s a vicious cycle because I don’t like to clean it so it gets that much dirtier and then it’s that much worse when I do get around to pulling out the sponge and Lysol.

And on the flip side, I love when I’m done and how clean everything is, how the space is transformed from scummy to sparkling.

The McHusband and I would ultimately like to redo our bathroom.  And I’m not talking about just updating fixtures and repainting; we want to do a gut job where we take out the tub, make the shower bigger, and replace the vanity with something taller.

For now, we’ll live with it like it is and I’ll just dream about tile on the floor, a granite countertop, and better storage. 

Since I had the space all cleaned up, I played around with a little table from our room, a fake plant, and a different picture hanging on the screw that came with the house.


The curtain rods were there when we moved in and I hung the sheers just because I had them, and I felt like badly dressed rods were better than naked ones. Not sure it was the best decision, but it’s the one I made.


I tried to organize our countertop a little better and we’ll see if it actually works in real life and not just in photos. (Yes, there’s a light thingie missing.  It’s in the linen closet because it doesn’t fit right and tends to fall off.  One more thing we’ll take care of during the renovation.)



The plant and candleholder didn’t stick around once I finished with the photos, but the basket’s still holding the same stuff so we’ll see if it works in real life.


I love my little fake succulent pot.  That was a $10 Target find.


So hopefully sooner than later, I’ll be able to refer back to this post and say, “Remember when our bathroom looked like this?” and then I can do a big reveal of our amazing new space.

Have a great day!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


{Disclaimer: Remember, I’m writing this Wednesday night.}

I just finished my popcorn and I need to do my stretching and foam rolling to make sure my leg doesn’t act up on my run in the morning.  I bought new shoes this week so while I’m not looking forward to the 4:45 wake-up call, it will be nice to pound the pavement in my bright pink (a.k.a. Fireberry) sneakers.

And I’m going to use my new shoes to segue into how I’m watching What Not to Wear (and I’m sure Stacy and Clinton would LOVE my pink sneaks), and I really need to move to the floor and take care of my poor abused muscles and tendons.

Also, no promise there’ll be a post tomorrow morning.  I have to do some cupcake-baking tonight and that always seems to consume more time than I anticipate.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Elementary, my dear blog readers

Besides food and running, I’d say my other major interest is TV.  Yep, when I’m not training for a marathon, I’m a model couch potato.  So I figured I could do occasional posts sharing the new shows I’m looking forward to this fall.  Maybe they’re ones you’ve heard of already, but maybe I’m introducing you to something you aren’t aware of and then you can watch, too.

The first one I want to tell you about is Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu.  The show is a modern take on Sherlock Holmes’s cases with Lucy Liu as JOAN Watson.  I really enjoyed Jonny Lee Miller (he used to be married to Angelina Jolie, by the way) when he starred on Eli Stone so I’m excited to see him back on network TV, especially in a show with such an interesting premise.

Hmm, I think the preview screen might be a little big for my blog, but I’m not sure how to change it.  If it’s not working for you, go see the preview on

What do you think, does it look interesting?  More importantly, do you think it’ll have enough viewers to stay on the air?  I really hope so.

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Belated birthday blogging (again)

Just catching up again.  Story of my life, it seems.

We went to Sara’s for a combo birthday party for her and Henry since their birthdays are just a week apart.


When we arrived, Henry was just getting into his cupcake.  Looks like he enjoyed every bite.


Guess who else was at the party?  Zachary (and his parents).


Those blue eyes, that blonde hair.  Does this kid have heartbreaker written all over him or what?


Look, there were some big boys at the party, too.


Since I had a whole batch of them, I took those Pretzel M&M Oatmeal Cookies to share plus the Funfetti Cheesecake Bars I’d originally intended to take to the party.


Don’t adjust your computer screen.  Yes, the cheesecake layer is a little green.  When I added extra sprinkles in, the dye bled into the cream cheese mixture.


I made these in my slightly-smaller-than-9x13-pan so both the cake layer and the cream cheese layer were nice and thick.


I really liked the addition of the frosting to the cream cheese layer and not just because I got to lick the spatula when I was done scraping the frosting out of the container and into my mixer bowl.  I said recently that cheesecake isn’t always my favorite and I think it’s because it’s not sweet enough.  Well, the cake layer and the frosting certainly made sure that wasn’t the case here.


These were not only delicious, but with only 5 ingredients, they were super simple to throw together.  I think I’d like to try a chocolate version with Devil’s Food cake mix and some chocolate frosting mixed into the cream cheese.  Oh yeah, that sounds like an experiment I most definitely need to look into.


{Recipe here}

Monday, August 13, 2012


I ran 16 miles on Saturday.  Six.  Teen.  Do you know how far that is?  Until you’ve covered that distance by foot, you don’t REALLY know.

At least I finally wizened up and took my training to the shaded, relatively flat American Tobacco Trail.  What a difference that made!  I felt so much better after 16 miles on the ATT than I did after 14 miles in Heather’s neighborhood.  Granted, the weather was much better since this Saturday was more cloudy than sunny and not nearly as hot and humid, but I know the change in terrain made a huge difference as well.

So my lungs were good and my quads felt good and I was feeling really optimistic about the run.  I reached 6 miles (Loved those mile markers along the trail; when you don’t have a satellite watch, you have to keep track the old-fashioned way.) in 53:30 so I had a good pace going and I hit 8 miles, a.k.a. my turnaround point, before I knew it.

I was still feeling strong at 11 miles.  But somewhere between 11 and 12 miles, the ITBS issue in my right knee that I dealt with during and after my first half-marathon flared up.  At that point, it was mind over matter.  It hurt to run (at a 10-minute per mile pace), but it was still going to hurt to walk and it would take me that much longer to get back to my car.  So I toughed it out and slowly but eagerly counted down each half-mile marker until I got back to where I started, two-and-a-half hours on the dot after I started.   For the record, that’s almost 10 minutes less than what I finished the 14 miles in.

When I got home, I iced my knee (Instagram proof over on the right) while I refueled, first with a chocolate green monster smoothie and then with a Coke Zero.  I sat on the couch long enough to watch a show, then I knew it would be better for me to move around so I tackled a few chores before a shower and a nap.

As of this writing, my knees feel pretty good.  I’ve stretched and used my foam roller and even went to spinning Sunday afternoon.  We’ll see how things go after my short run Tuesday morning.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, okay?

Other than the long run, I spent a little time in the kitchen using up some frozen shredded zucchini by baking it into semi-healthy bread and mini muffins.  The problem is that they tasted healthy so I covered them in a cinnamon glaze.  They were much better after that little addition.

I had better luck with our dinner, Creamy Southwest Pasta with Spicy Yogurt Sauce.  No, that’s not my picture.  I wish!


This stuff was yummy and had some heat, which the McHusband and I really enjoyed.  I added shrimp so we’d have some extra protein, and I used Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles instead of fresh tomatoes.  This was very easy to put together and for a pasta with a creamy sauce, it was quite light tasting.  Sometimes I feel like I crave pasta, a great comfort food, only when it’s cool or cold outside, which NC in August most definitely is NOT.

One more note about our weekend.  I put out my new garden flag.


I saw it at Hallmark on Friday, and I couldn’t resist.


Perfect, right?  I mentioned to Vickie that I’d gotten it and she said she’d seen it at that Hallmark (the store is by her office) and considered getting it for me.  So it wasn’t a totally frivolous purchase, it was something that I was meant to bring home and display.

Welcome back to the work week.  Nothing we can but accept that another one has started and mosey on through it until next weekend’s upon us.

Friday, August 10, 2012

{Recipe Recap} Pretzel M&M Oatmeal Cookies

I made these cookies on a Thursday a couple weeks ago.  I thought the McHusband was going to play poker the next night, and he couldn’t arrive without something sweet to share.


Confession: I don’t like making cookies during the week.  They take too long overall, but there’s not enough time while each batch bakes for me to do anything productive like walk the dogs or take a shower.


I really liked how loaded these cookies were with the oats and the pretzel M&Ms, and the brown butter kicked things up a notch.


Oatmeal cookies aren’t generally the prettiest cookie, but these were quite colorful thanks to the M&M shells.



These cookies had a great texture – a little crispy, a little chewy, but not gummy like some oatmeal cookies can be.


This recipe is a great base so if you have everything you need to make them except the M&Ms, but you have chocolate (or butterscotch or peanut butter) chips hanging out in your pantry, I say go ahead and mix up a batch of these cookies.


But do it on Saturday afternoon when you can multi-task efficiently by putzing around the house close to your oven timer.


TGIF!!!  I have another dinner with friends to look forward to tonight (we’re trying a new restaurant called Enrigo’s) then a sixteen-mile training run tomorrow, weather permitting.  Not sure I can say I’m looking forward to covering that distance, but I’ll certainly be glad to have it done.

Have a good weekend!  Hope it includes cookies of some kind.

{Recipe here}