Friday, September 11, 2015

I Remember 9/11/01

I remember exactly where I was on 09/11/2001. I was in school at Burns Middle School in my homeroom class with Mrs. Benton. She turned the TV on and everyone watched in straight shock with confused faces. We were 13 years old, so you may understand the innocence and somewhat immature outlook on the world we had. We'd never experienced something of this magnitude of evil.  
We were probably focused on our outfits, who we were going to sit with at lunch, and making sure we didn't have any food in our braces. Maybe not even thinking about the fact that our country was under attack. I don't think I had any understanding of what was going on.

Until I walked to my next period...Physical Education.

I remember going to the locker rooms to get dressed in my gym clothes and hearing about a couple students being brought to the front office. They had family in NY who were supposed to be in the World Trade Center building that day. I don't know if it was their mom or dad or uncle or cousin. But it was their family. That's when it became real to me. That's when I realized people were hurt, and people's lives were being changed that very moment.

I remember the somber looks on all the teacher's faces. I remember the eerie silence in the classrooms the rest of the school day. 
I remember in 2003, when Angelo told me he was moving to New York to go to college. In my mind, New York was a war zone, the most unsafe place in America. I thought about how crazy he was for going on a plane heading to NYC. I didn't want him to go, but he did. 

I remember in 2009 I took my first trip to NYC. Eight years after the tragic attack. I remember being scared out of my mind about getting on a plane to go to NY. 
I remember taking a Xantax...yes I was that scared to fly. (It's gotten better throughout the years, but I'm still very nervous about flying but I can do so without drugs.)

Ground Zero was completely under construction, but there was a make shift memorial museum where you could view the future plans of Ground Zero. 

Badges of police officers and firefighters who served on 9-11-01

I remember taking these pictures and being angry. It was the first time I think the anger really hit me...eight years later. I saw people walk around this small make shift museum with tears rolling down their face. I saw all the photos, listened to stories, and feeling so much closer to this tragedy than I ever had before. 

Our trip was very patriotic.

Today I still remember all those different feelings I have felt about the 9/11 attacks. My feelings and understanding of those events have evolved through out the years, but I'll NEVER forget how I felt THAT day on 09/11/2001, as a student in middle school.

As an adult, with children of my own, the feelings are the same, but amplified. I now fear for their innocent minds in this world and I fear the day they meet/experience/see what evil is, like I did on that day in 2001.

Let us not forget those feelings we had that day in 2001.

Let us never forget the incredible courage we saw from numerous individuals on that day in 2001.

Let us never forget the 2,977 people who lost their lives that day in 2001.

God bless.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cilantro Lime Avocado Rice

If you're anything like me, you find yourself serving your proteins with the same sides over and over again. 

Oh that chicken? Serve it with brown rice...

Oh that veggie stir-fry? Serve it with quinoa...

It gets boring, and you know it's bad when you're husband comes home and says "what kind of chicken and rice are we having tonight"? Well, he's only said that once.. :)

While this is still rice, it's so much more! I mean, anything with avocado gets eaten around here with no complaints!

This short but sweet recipe is the perfect side dish for Mexican night, or to serve under your favorite chicken! 

Cilantro Lime Brown Rice
What you’ll need:
3-4 cups cooked brown
1 medium ripe avocado. Peeled, cored, cut.
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
¼ tsp. salt

What you do:
Mash avocados in a large bowl.
Add lime juice, cilantro, and salt.
Stir in warm cooked rice.
Serve &


Run For Your Life from Zombies

Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to run for your life from flesh eating Zombies?! What about get a glimpse into what a zombie apocalypse would be like?

Now is your chance! THE 5K ZOMBIE RUN is coming here and I am GIVING AWAY (2) entries to be used at either the Sarasota or Tampa run! 

The 5K Zombie Run is a 3.1 mile trail run where ZOMBIES are the obstacles!
All runners start the run with 3 flags on a belt. These flags are what the zombies want from you, and will chase you to get them!

Don't worry though! There will be Safe Zones at mile markers 1 and 2 and a chance to pick up an extra life flag, if the zombies have already taken a “bite” out of you.

You have two opportunities to run The 5K Zombie Run:

October 24th in Sarasota – NIGHT RUN
Waves start at 8:30 PM
November 14th in Tampa 
Waves start at 9:00 AM

Don't forget the SWAG!
All participants receive a t-shirt, finisher medal, tattoo, car decal and entry to the post-race apocalypse party complete with music, food, great vendors and a fun family atmosphere.

Come walk/jog/run for your life with me and friends on Oct 24th at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota OR on November 14th at Lake Park in Tampa!

It's going to be a great time and I can't wait to see everyone there!

To Enter:
Comment on this post!
Tell me your name and who you're going to take with you to help you escape the ZOMBIES!

But wait! If you don't win my giveaway (unfortunately I only pick 1 winner) you can still register for the event and SAVE $5 with this code:FIT5

One winner (2 entries) will be randomly selected and posted on my Friday Faves post, September 18th. Winner must be registered for race by October 1st. 


*As a member of Tampa Bay Bloggers, I received complimentary registrations to The 5K Zombie Run & The 5K Color Blast events mentioned in this exchange for social media and blog love.All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Labor Day Weekend Recap

Hey y'all!

How was your weekend? Relaxing and full of good food, I hope!

As I'm gathering up some pictures for this weekend recap post, it seems like this weekend was forever long. 
For example, we went on the boat on Saturday and it feels like that was last week. Well, technically it was but it feels more like a week ago rather than 3 days ago. 

I guess that's a good thing?

Friday night we went over to the in-laws house. Angelo's mom is 100% Venezuelan and his father is 100% Italian; so no matter which one is cooking, it's always incredible! 

Friday's meal was Pabell√≥n criollo: a traditional Venezuelan dish with rice, beans, and shredded beef. 

Saturday we finally got a boat day and headed out to Caladesi Island in Clearwater. The weather was almost perfectly cloudy so it wasn't scorching hot. 

Sunday we had a dear friend's birthday brunch at Ella's Americana Folkart Cafe in Seminole Heights. On Sunday's their menu is Soul Food style! Think BBQ and Fried Chicken with Waffles. This is where I regretfully didn't take any pictures. 

We were at a table with 30 other people and I had Penelope on my lap. Once I got my phone out of my purse, Sophia had already chowed down on the chicken, and Angelo scarfed down half the fried pickles. I got nervous and dug in so I could get a taste before it was gone! ;) Anyone else get nervous around fast eaters!? Story of my life...
Game of Throne cake with CakePopsByLu

Monday, Labor Day, was a day of laundry, grocery shopping, and finally a cook out with the family!

We tore down the Summer Tower Garden, preparing to start all the others this month! 
We have tons of dill, parsely, and basil to use up this week! 

 This is where half the dill went - Homemade pickles! Hopefully they turn out good! 

 Mom made her famous ribs. I'm not kidding when I say she makes THE BEST ribs around. 

Then, feeling guilty for stuffing ourselves, we did some core workouts before bed. ;)

Some exciting this going on this week! 
  • Sophia starts her first dance class as a 4 year old, that means she got to move up a class to Ballet II! 
  • I have a race entry giveaway coming up on Thursday!
  • New recipes! That's always exciting! :)
Have a great Tuesday!


Friday, September 4, 2015

Friday Faves

It's Fri-Yay!
We made it to Friday & through the first week of school! Glorious!

Friday Faves

Home Decor:

This week I visited a friends house. They just recently finished building their house, so everything was spankin' new! It made me run through the emotions of excitement (because I absolutely LOVE looking through new homes) and anxiety (because I need/want/have to have my house built ASAP). I haven't stepped foot in a HomeGoods in almost a year and I'm getting the itch! BAD! To make matters worse, I follow an Instagram account called Inspire_Me_Home_Decor, and I screenshot numerous pictures to send to Angelo daily. 
OK, not realistic? 
How about this ultimate snack closet?! One can dream.

Check out these 31 Remodeling Ideas You Obviously NEED

Lara Bars:

I have switched back to buying Lara Bars, in place of my beloved Quest Bars. Some of the Quest Bars started tasting too sweet for me and I couldn't even finish one. My favorites are the Blueberry Muffin & Chocolate Chip Brownie. I think the Cappuccino flavor is the only one I haven't tried yet. Call it my mission!

Halloween Costumes
For some reason Halloween has come up at the dinner tables multiple times this week. Penelope keeps telling us she wants to be a lion, and Sophia wants to be a giraffe (again). Personally I think animal costumes on little kids is the absolute CUTEST thing ever. It all started with this..
We wont even be in town on Halloween, so I need to plan a trick or treat session the week before at the local Zoo or Disney. What are some great Halloween costumes this year?

I did a post about FitSnack a couple weeks ago, and I have come to LOVE these monthly deliveries. I have been on the go this week, with school being back in, and there have been a few times I'm starving and grab a FITSNACK right before I race out the door. I will do a August Box Review next week. 

I hope you all have a fantastic Labor Day Weekend!! 
Hopefully the weather gets clear for us to get in a boat day on the water!!


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Help Yourself - Ways to Reduce Stress

Hi friends!! 

How's your week been? 

I feel like this week has been extra stressful. Today was the first day this week I feel like I have my life (a teeny tiny bit) together. Today was also the first day this week I was able to go to the gym...coincidence?

Maybe it's just the "first week back to school" mess. Meetings, paperwork, and getting back into the school routine after being on Summer mode for 3 months. That will do it! 

But next week there will still be stressors, just different ones or even the same.

So, is it possible to live a "stress-free life?" 

Honestly, I don't think so.

There will always be stress.

Even when you're retired, sitting on the beach somewhere, you'll still get stressed out about SOMETHING. Maybe it'll be the fact that you forgot sunscreen, but stress is stress is stress. 

The one thing you shouldn't do is complain bout the stress, because most of the time, whatever is stressing you out is under your control. 

YOU can change something. 
YOU can do something.
Get Outside
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Nature is a natural de-stressor. 

When we're stressed, exercise is good.
We all learned from Legally Blond that "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't." 
Whether it be an intense workout, a relaxing workout, or just dancing in your living room; get moving. 

Eat the Right Foods. 
What are the right foods when you need to reduce stress? CARBS! Yay carbs! 

From  "When high-carbohydrate food isn't bogged down by the presence of protein or fat, they allow an amino acid called tryptophan to flood your brain, where it morphs into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that boosts mood and curbs food cravings (such as your chocolate yearnings). As a bonus, it helps you tolerate pain and can even help you sleep like a baby. And all that happens in just half an hour."
So grab a bowl of popcorn or a loaf of Cuban Bread, and chow down. 

Get off Facebook. 
Not completely (God Forbid), but tone it down a bit. Limit it to once a day, or a few times a week.  
We look at Facebook and Instagram and see everyone’s “perfect” life. Can we agree that most people only post the good, great, and marvelous stuff in their life while leaving out the bad or normal every day routines? I know I do. 

Forgive someone and let go
Is there someone in your life that you're feuding with? If so, forgive, forget, and let go. Not for them. For YOU! It's not healthy to rehash a feud over and over again. I know there are some people in your life that would be nearly impossible to get out of your life. But if a certain someone harbors nothing but negative feelings in you, limit your time around that person. Don't talk to them if you don't have to. It's your life, and you choose who is in it. 

Watch a good movie

Have you ever felt like just getting out a good cry? No? Am I the only one? ;) Watch a tear-jerker movie with a happy ending. The Notebook always does the trick. With the kids? Watch Toy Story 3! Yes, I cried in that one too.

Get Your Mind Busy

Sitting around the house watching reruns isn't going to do you any good, especially if you're watching shows about people's glamorous, nanny filled lives. Good grief.
Finish that book you've been trying to finish for months, get in the kitchen and make something wonderful,or take the kids to the park and hear them laugh! 

If all else fails...
Go in a room by yourself, count to 10 with deep breaths in between, and scream into a pillow. :) Works like a charm. 


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

New Home/Family Photos

Happy Hump Day! 

I was reminded last week that I never posted my family photos from our "New Home Phase 1 of 3" photos. (What a title...)

I told y'all that we are doing a three part photo series to document our new home. 
We purchased a piece of property last year, sold our home, and now building a custom home on that piece of property. In the mean time we are living with my's not that bad. :)

We FINALLY got the plans approved by everyone (HOA and County), but still waiting for some papers for the loan, digging up the septic tank, the well, and about 2 feet of dirt to bring in new dirt since the land was a phosphate mine many many years ago. Do you know what all that means? That means the actual building hasn't even started and there is still things to do before it starts. Boy..oh boy has it been a process! 

Just talking about it requires a martini! 

But getting these pictures makes this waiting game a lot sweeter.


Don't hold your breathe for part 2 because at this rate it'll be awhile! :) 


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Recipe: Massaged Kale Dressing

Hey yall! How's your Tuesday going? 

Can you believe it's September?! Get prepared for pumpkin everything...everywhere! ;)

I just got home from a morning of go, go go! I have a love/hate with these kind of days. Sometimes it's when I get the most done, and other times it's when I get absolutely nothing done.

I slept through an alarm clock and didn't wake up until 6:55. Then the rush started.

I rushed to get myself and the girls ready. 
I rushed to Publix to pick up a fruit bowl for a meeting.
I rushed to school to drop off Sophia, then went upstairs to join the Parent board meeting.
I left the meeting early to take Nelps to swim lessons across town, and now we're home for a couple hours before it's time to go get Sophia. 
Nelps is sleeping, which means I get maybe an hour of computer time to work and write lovely blog posts for you to read. It's all in a days work! ;) 

Well..there's still half a day to enjoy over here.


Meatless Mondays are still going strong! I've even dragged my parents and sister-in-law to join the meatless Monday gang! 

Angelo & I went vegetarian years ago for a couple months, and I have to say the hardest thing about it was finding things to eat without feeling like you're eating a bed of lettuce every day. This was before Pinterest, so feel the struggle! 

I would cook a meatless meal and Angelo would say "so what else are we having?" 

It was almost embedded in our minds that a meal without a piece of chicken isn't really a meal. 

Why can't we just eat this kale salad and pot of lentils and be satisfied?! 

Apparently because lentils cook WAY faster than I expected and my pot of lentils turned to mush, so this kale salad is all you get. It's beautiful, so just eat it and smile until Tuesday comes around and you can eat your piece of chicken. <-- That's me talking to my husband outloud. :)

If you HATE kale and think it's gross, you aren't alone. Personally I think plain kale is bitter and atrocious. But, after you get your hands dirty and give those kale leaves a good's wonderful! I usually massage my kale with lemon juice, olive oil, and dash of salt. It's simple and perfect.

This took it to a new level. This dressing gives the kale a slightly sweet garlicky flavor that will knock your kale hating self out! 

I added chopped, roasted butternut squash to the kale to give the salad more umph, but as you know, salad additions are endless! Get creative!

(Recipe adapted from a recipe in Isa Does it. )
Massaged Kale Dressing
What you’ll need:
3 tbsp. EVOO
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tsp. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. salt

8 cups chopped kale, washed with stems removed

What you do:
Put all ingredients, except kale, in a large bowl.
Whisk together until well combined.
Add kale & massage with hands for a good 30 seconds or more. You really have to squeeze the leaves firmly, making sure dressing is completely covering the kale leaves.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Weekend Recap: Insanity Live and The Stein & Vine

Hey there!! How is everyone?

This past weekend was the last official weekend of our summer! Enter mixed emotion emoji here. Sophia was off and on with her excitement all weekend. It went between "I can't wait for school!" and "Why is summer over?!" I was the same way. 

We didn't have much stuff planned this weekend, because I thought a good weekend of little to no plans was needed before "the big day". 

Saturday we attended a live Insanity class at the gym. Angelo & I did the Insanity program back in 2012, after I had Sophia. I 100% believe in it and 100% think it's the hardest workout program ever. I wish I would of taken a video of this class. Everyone was drenched in sweat, the room was a hot mess, and the windows were completely fogged up. Excellent. 
The instructor was a fellow Tampa Bay Blogger, Katrina Elle. During the class I kept thinking about how familiar she looked, then it hit me when she said her name was Katrina! What a small world. 

Saturday afternoon we had a birthday party for one of Sophia's friends at a bounce house place in town. The girls, and Angelo, had a blast sliding down the huge slides, running through the blow up obstacle course, and trying the hurricane simulator. Basically a Bonnaroo for Kids in there. 

The past two Sundays after church we've been picking out a new restaurant to try, and we've decided this needs to be a weekly occurrence. 
As you know, we love trying new foods and restaurants! 
This week's foodie adventure was The Stein & Vine in Brandon, Fl.  
The Stein & Vine has been around for about 3 years now and I can't believe we've never been. I guess I was judging a book by it's cover, which you should never do...right?! 

It's a tiny place in a Big Lots plaza. From Bloomingdale Ave, you can only see the big red "PUB" sign and the place doesn't look very family friendly. I kept telling Angelo we needed to take a date night there, but as you may know, those are few and far inbetween.

After talking to a friend about it the other day, she told me it's definitely kid-friendly, especially during the day. They open at noon daily, so I thought it'd be a perfect place to go to after church with the family.

After ordering some beers (their local, craft beer selection is pages long), we ordered the Tater Tots appetizer, all the way. All the way in Stein & Vine terms means tater tots topped with chili, cheese, onions, bacon, and a fried egg, with sour cream for dipping. My girl's had never seen a tater tot before and were reluctant to try them. They ended up liking them, but only the plain ones that hadn't been touched by the chili yet. (Sophia is in this food stage where all her foods must be separate, not touching each other at all.)
Angelo & I were quite the opposite and went to town! I think an egg just about goes on top of anything right now!
For our entrees, we ordered 2 burgers, and a kid's chicken for the girls.

Angelo ordered the Double Funk Bomber burger which is stuffed with an aged gorgonzola & Bleu cheese blend, topped with onion rings and a mustard aioli. 
I ordered the PB&J Burger, only because I was told this burger is phenomenal. If I would of never heard that from a 3rd party, I would of never ordered it, because the description just sounds funny to me. From the menu: "Lacey burger stuffed w/ our blend of concord grape jelly & creamy peanut butter then topped w/ apple-wood smoked bacon & cheddar cheese. Trust us."

I trusted them, and I was VERY surprised! From the picture it looks like a regular bacon cheeseburger, but once I cut it in half, the creamy peanut butter oozed out and things got real. 
I mean, does that sound appetizing to you? Have you ever eaten peanut butter on a hamburger before?! No's not normal! But it was bizarrely tempting and pleasant! 
I was told this isn't always on the menu, since their menu changes daily, so if it's on the menu when you visit The Stein & Vine, I suggest you give your taste buds the pleasure. You owe it to them on the weekend...right? ;) 

The rumors were true. The Stein & Vine is a must-go-to place in Brandon and I'm so glad it's there! Brandon needs more places like this, and I believe they are slowly growing around town. The Stein & Vine can definitely hang with the big boys...I'm looking at you South Tampa & Seminole Heights. 

The rest of Sunday was spent in our bathing suits because that's what you do when you eat enough for one day in one sitting. 

This morning Nelps & I dropped Sophia off for her first day of VPK! 
Why does time go by so fast?! She was so ready and I'm so proud of the little lady she has become. 
She walked in her class, wrote her name down on the sign in sheet (WHAT?!) and told me she'd miss me. ;) 
For the rest of the day I'll be crying in the corner waiting for 2:30 pm to come around so I can see how Sophia's first day went! 


Join the conversation:
Did you try any new restaurants this weekend?
Have you ever judged a restaurant by it's outside appearance?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Recipe: Banana Blueberry Oatmeal Bake

Hey there! 

You know what's not so great about trying out new recipes? They don't always work out and you're left thinking about all those ingredients you just wasted. It's a bummer.

Monday was not a good baking day. I was trying to new "healthy" protein oatmeal bake and it was absolutely horrible. I couldn't even finish one bite of it. Gag... 
You're probably thinking how in the world do you mess up baked oatmeal? Well, you add too much protein powder and too many egg white. It happens.

So, I had to redeem myself, and boy did I! 

This oatmeal bake is delicious and perfect for a make-ahead breakfast. 
School is about to start and mornings are going to get hectic again. This will be perfect for those busy mornings! Scoop some in a bowl, pop in microwave, and serve. 

Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Bake

What you’ll need:
2 bananas, sliced
1 ½ cup blueberries
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
2 cups almond milk
1 egg
1 tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup pure maple syrup

What you do:
Preheat oven to 375
Grease the inside of a baking pan, I used a 9in round pan.
Place banana slices on bottom of pan to cover. Top with half of blueberries.
Mix all dry ingredients (oatmeal, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt) together in a medium bowl.
In another bowl, mix wet ingredients together (milk, egg, butter, vanilla, and syrup).
Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix well.
Pour oatmeal mixtures into baking pan and let sit for a minute or two to ensure liquid makes it to the bottom of pan. You may want to slightly tap the pan on the counter.
Sprinkle the rest of the blueberries over the top.
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until top of golden brown.