Tis the season!

Wrapping up one year and looking forward to the next. What an interesting process. I remember many years where I couldn’t wait for the fresh start that a new year would bring. Funny how optimistic I always am at this time of year considering I live in Wisconsin and the new year just means 4 more months of cold weather. 

This year however I am just truly thankful and blessed to have experienced all the days in this year so far. I’ve experienced so much growth in so many areas. 

This year marked 5 years of togetherness with my husband and 2 years of marriage. It has seriously flown by.  I’m so thankful for us and hope we continue to share many more trips around the sun together. 

I attended a life and business coaching group for 9 months out of the year that totally changed my perspective on many areas of my life. It’s helped me declutter, repriorotize, rediscover and challenge my thoughts and beliefs. 

I enjoyed my 2nd full year of consulting on my own. It’s been such a rewarding experience and opportunity to work on different projects with different people. Definitely a different kind of education. I’ve really started to appreciate and acknowledge what I can add to a team and project. Being my own cheerleader has been such a blessing. 

My step-son turned 14 and watching him grow and discover himself is something I’m thankful to be a part of every day. He’s such a blessing and gives me perspective and many learning experiences. 

We spent the year focusing on our finances and now find ourselves debt free (except for our home). This is such a freeing accomplishment and it takes so much pressure of our career choices and really allows us to enjoy our 9-5’s more since we don’t feel trapped by them. 

I was diagnosed with Ménière’s disease in August. An inner ear disorder that causes ear ringing, vertigo and nausea. By cutting out caffeine and sodium I’ve managed to control the symptoms (and my anxiety around the sparadic nature of the episodes). So, yay. 

I traveled to Napa (CA), Orlando (FL), Mexico, Lake Placid (NY), Door County (WI), Rockville (MD) and of course Cleveland and Cincinnati for work. I enjoyed every trip and was lucky enough to spend time with great people and make wonderful memories at each location. Not to mention some good food too. 

We took down a wall (thanks HGTV for the words “open concept”, repainted most of the main level, filled a dumpster of crap to declutter the house, and put in new vinyl wood planks instead of the old carpet. 

I started and cancelled a wine club. I started and cancelled a fitness subscription. I gave up giving up Nutella. 

And so many other wonderful things… with wonderful people. 

With only two weeks left in this year, I have nothing but gratitude and love for 2016 and can only imagine what 2017 will bring… and I look forward to finding out. 

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21 Day Fix Meal – Zucchini Pesto Chicken

I’ve been following the 21 Day Fix meal plan (you know, the colored cups)… and have really enjoyed some of the new things that I’ve rotated into my diet in order to get all my colors in for the day!

One of my favorite new meals are:

  • Zucchini Noodles with Pesto and Chicken
    • Ingredients:
    • Chicken Breast (1) cut into pieces
      • I usually cook 6 chicken breasts on Sunday to use in various recipes throughout the week
    • Zucchini (2) spiralized
    • Pesto Sauce (2 teaspoons)
    •  Directions:
      • Use Vegetti spiralizer and make zucchini noodles
      • Place zucchini noodles on paper towels for 30 minutes and let the juices come out
        • Note: I rarely do this step because I wait too long to start making dinner and I’m hungry… so my end result is a little runny… but I’m okay with that.
      • Place zucchini noodles on the stove in a small pan (spray with cooking spray if not non-stick) on medium-low heat.
      • Add chicken breast and pesto sauce
      • Stir continuously for a few minutes until everything is warmed up.  Sometimes I cover the pan for a while to let it all warm up.  Since the chicken is already cooked – it really is only just warming everything up.
      • Throw into a bowl and enjoy!
  • 1 red (chicken), 1-2 green (zucchini – depends on the size), 2 teaspoons (pesto)
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Zucchini Pesto Chicken

Great Coffee and Wine Bar in DeForest, WI

We went out to celebrate a friend’s birthday last night at a Coffee shop in Deforest, Macchiatos. To be honest, I wasn’t really excited about the venue at first. When I showed up, I was pleasantly surprised by the warm atmosphere, friendly staff, freshly-made food and Wine bottles available for drinking (all under $20!).

I had their margarita pizza, which consisted of crust, large pieces of fresh mozzarella, giant tomato slices and basil. That was it. Fresh and made right in front of my large/excited eyeballs!

Jason had their “fancy” grilled cheese with all the fixin’s. The portions are more on the dainty side, which is great for the ladies, but definitely left Jason staring down the giant brownie that the staff presented to Mike on behalf of his birthday. If Jason hadn’t been suffering from the bird flu/death plague, he would have likely tackled Mike for it. Luckily for them all I was a bit full with wine and pizza at that point and passed on destroying the birthday brownie of awesomeness.

If you’re in the area, it is definitely worth checking it out!

http://www.mymacchiatos.com/

Yum.

Goin’ to the chapel (in 13 months) and goooonnnna get married…

Some of my wishes for my wedding:

A wedding coordinator/stylist like this: http://anorthwoodswedding.com/2013/04/12/featured-creative-anna-from-a-styled-event/

Love.

Love.

Catering from somewhere like this: http://www.cranberrycreek-cafe.com/ 

A bridal shower like this (please note the lack of tacky male genitalia): http://www.stylemepretty.com/living/2013/05/01/watercolor-bridal-shower-from-liz-banfield/

Perfect.

Perfect.

Maybe these as wedding favors?  (cute, funny and functional): http://www.100layercake.com/blog/2013/05/01/currently-in-the-pop-up-shop-you-smell-soap/

You Smell.

You Smell.

 

A broach bouquet: http://lambandblonde.blogspot.com/2011/11/wedding-wednesday-brooch-bouquets.html

Daylight savings… spring forward.

There isn’t much spring in my step on this day.  Mostly my steps today were sluggish.  However I got to work a normal 8 hour day today and met my first goal of the big project at work… so today I could “relax” a little.  It was nice.  I actually made it to the bank, am catching up on some emails and getting to do some wedding blog stalking/planning/wishing/dreaming/hoping/envying… everything.  I love it.

I’ve definitely nailed down my wedding style/dream which is rustic/antique/rose/comfortable/custom/warm and welcoming.  I want people to feel lucky to be there, blessed to share the day, and not want to leave at the end of the night.  I know I will feel all those things.  I know I will be so overwhelmed and busy that I will not get a chance to talk to everyone or share with them the complete joy I will have at sharing this truly special,heartfelt and emotional day with them.

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Truth.

 

Jason has hockey tonight, so that always kills the buzz a little because I know he will be leaving and I’ll go to bed without him.  We go to bed at the same time most nights, so of course now it’s a little harder to fall asleep when he isn’t there.  However, he is always giddy when he gets home and excited to tell me about how his hockey went.  Of course when we first started dating, I went to almost all of his games.  Now that we live together I usually stay home with Vince, or just plain stay home.  It’s really cold in hockey rinks.  Especially really empty hockey rinks.

Pretty sure I earned an evil stepmother wart today.  I usually try and keep them away, but I got one nonetheless.  Ahhhh…. such is life.  Win some, ya lose some.

On another note, we are watching the show, Bizarre American Foods and this small tribe comes together and all shares food and lives off the nature and are just wonderfully good people.  One of the gentlemen said, “It (seal) doesn’t taste good unless you share!”.  What an awesome way of life!  If only everyone felt that way about more things in life.  It made me smile.  Also made me excited to try out new things on our honeymoon next year… Italy… look out!

 

Christmas Eve – So far… so merry…

Sitting here with the little Man listening to sponge bob, dish washer is going and washer and dryer are in full swing.  Thanks to the snowfall last week, what was originally going to be a 4 day weekend became a 6 day weekend.  The best thing about snow days… free days off!

Besides a quick trip to Urgent Care on Sunday for a UTI that Santa decided to give me as an early Christmas Present, things have been fairly smooth.  We went to my Mom’s for Christmas and not only did we all score thoughtful presents, but we got the best thing of all… STOCKINGS!  I love them.  They are where the little things are hidden!  Little bits of money, sometimes chap sticks, tooth brushes and… CHOCOLATE!  I got some of the most thoughtful presents this year!

Stockings!

Stockings!

My Aunt Deb sent me some plaques that really speak to me right now… “Keep calm and carry on”… and maybe more fitting “Keep calm and eat cupcakes”. Along with a “Dream Big” pillow that now has a place on my bookshelves.  AND… Dark chocolate raspberry M&M’s.  That’s right.  Half of them have found their home in my belly… the others are in a holding pattern for the same destination.  If you haven’t tried them… don’t.  Just send them my way and I’ll keep them safe for you.

My Aunt Sandy sent me a little care package of nail polish (already have some of it on), nail files, and CHOCOLATE! (Even dark chocolate… my fav!). And it was all tucked into the cutest christmas box.

My step brother and his wife (Chris and Cheryl) so thoughtfully also sent presents… not only for the immediate family, but included Vince and Jason too.  That was unexpected and so sweet.  The best thing about their gifts was that they showed up literally as we were opening the other presents!  The snowpacalypse did not stop those gifts of joy.

Chris and Cheryl provide more ammunition... See him smile!  (Later see us become targets)

Chris and Cheryl provide more ammunition… See him smile! (Later see us become targets)

My Sister and Mom made some very cool hand-crafted presents… love them all and they each have a home on my walls already. My Mom also gave me a supppper soft scarf… which is super, super cool.  Fingerless gloves, and the MOST cozy slippers that I’ve been wearing since she gave them to me.  They look like moccasins so I will be wearing them all over the place I’m sure.

My sister and nieces

My sister and nieces

We had a wonderful time at Mom’s and Jason and Vince seemed to really enjoy themselves.  Having my family all together warms my heart.  I think I enjoy Christmas more as I get older because the greatest joy is spending time with amazing people and giving thoughtful gifts and creating precious memories.  The gifts are wonderful, but not really the key focus.  Which leaves behind some of the childish feelings of disappointment when certain sparkly doo dads don’t show up under the tree.

I also got to spend my second Christmas with Jason’s family.  Last year we celebrated in Milwaukee at his mom’s and this year we celebrated at our house.  It was so nice to not have to drive anywhere afterwards.  Definitely having so much food and activity is a little overwhelming, but thankfully we have the room for it.  Jason made a prime rib… 4.5 hours of cooking/warming/preparation for a delicious and perfectly proportioned dinner!

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Jason’s Mom’s Christmas

Jason’s sister brought hot chocolate marshmallow brownies… they sound so simple.  Simply heavenly is more like it.  I had 3.  THREE!  I can’t remember the last time I had 3 brownies or any dessert for that matter.  But I did, and didn’t feel one bit bad about it!  I made another attempt at cake pops and they didn’t turn out quite as I expected… Sophia, however LOVED them and made it her mission to eat them all.  I’m pretty sure there was 12 when the party started… and none when it ended.

I got some thoughtful, snuggly and warm presents from everyone and really enjoyed the bonding time.  I got to be sandwiched between two beautiful kids and it was wonderful.  There isn’t much better than some bonding and couch time.

Bonding time....

Bonding time….

All that… and it’s only Christmas Eve!  Whoa.  Still Christmas morning with little C… Christmas dinner with Grandpa C a couple additional christmases on the horizon also…

There has been much rejoicing, eating, photo taking, memory making and blessing counting.

Thanks to everyone who has made it so great so far…

No matter what life throws at me… the bottom line is I wouldn’t trade what I have for anything else.

Happy Holidays!

My person - my every day present - my love

My person – my every day present – my love

On the first day of…

December, I said… “What happened to November?”

I am quite positive I blacked out for a large portion of November because it started, then it was over.  Not even a chance to get tired of it or wish for it to go faster.  Now it is December and abnormally warm here in Wisconsin… 64 degrees today… weird.  I love the warmth, but it still freaks me out.  I think it lends to the extra confusion my brain is feeling about it actually being december.  The tree is up and decorated, the christmas wish list of the little man has been made, revised and amended a few times already, presents have been wrapped, plans have been made… and it all seems like a neat little dream.

Last weekend Jason did something extremely generous and altruistic. He helped out a family member of mine because “he felt compelled to do it”.  It just reinforced to me all the wonderful reasons I am lucky to have him in my life.  Even if he plays too many video games and the sound of a tank firing again and again make me want to cause someone or something physical harm or damage.  ** breathe **

During his little adventure I went to my Mom’s house and spent the morning crafting.  I was really feeling under pressure because I only had about 4 solid hours of crafting, and if you enjoy crafting you know that it puts you into a time warp and suddenly WHAM… 3.5 hours have gone by and you scarf down your lunch while rocking and crossing your legs because you have to pee super bad, but are on such a roll that you can’t fathom stopping.  Also, you suddenly lose all control and eat your foot’s weight in m&m’s.  That’s too much, no matter your foot size.  At the end of the day I had some crafting goodness and got to keep mom company while she put up the tree and decorations in the living room.

It was also a special trip because the little man got to see where we would be for Christmas morning and also meet my step dad.  It makes me happy that my family gets to meet the boys that are so precious in my life.  He spent most of the day on the farm with my cousin’s Son who showed him around and played tour guide-extraordinaire.

Sunday my sister came over and she made us a grand meal of lasagna and an appetizer of peppers filled with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon.  We all loved it.  Well, the little man just loved the bacon, but luckily the husky liked the pepper and cream cheese filling so they made a good team.

Our roommate has officially moved out.  I’ll miss her because I feel like I got to experience some very key and exciting developments in her relationship (that now has her engaged).  I remember a walk in the woods when we were talking about our futures and how long ago that seems now and what different ideas we had.

The upside to the empty basement is I get the chance to actually make a guest room and bathroom available for anyone who stays over.  This is especially cool because (selfishly) I enjoy not having my morning routine of Zumba disturbed by anyone who may want to sleep over.  I am sure I have discouraged the idea a time or two simply because I didn’t want them to upset my routine I have going on.  So, now I can be the hostess with the mostess and still get to do my own thing in the morning.  Perfection.

I received my Human Resources certificate in the mail today.  A nice addition to my Bachelor’s Degree.  I also have 3 certifications out of 5 completed at Epic.  Another exam (for certification) lined up for tomorrow morning and a final one on Friday.  I love learning.  It is a kind of rush that I don’t get from many things in life.  Figuring things out, solving puzzles, grasping concepts, starting to connect the dots, it all really floats my boat.  I’ve felt very fulfilled and purposeful lately.  Both nice feelings.

I have not had as many nice feelings about my ability to maintain a healthy diet during the holidays.  While 87% of the time I am great, there is still one too many times that I decide I “need” an extra cookie, additional appetizer or more sweet potato fries (mmmm….).  So, this week I’m buckling down and challenging my scale to stop giving me such a hard time.  Jason is totally on board and makes sure to get broccoli and carrots and healthy things for me so that I have all the opportunities I need to keep on track during this holiday season.

I’ve been so busy studying that I haven’t had much extra time for blogging and communicating, hopefully I’ll get back to a steady schedule soon :)  It seems like a rare treat to get to sit down and blah blah with my keyboard to the world.