Fall Fiesta Part Dos

Last year, the BOY and I had an end of summer Fiesta BBQ, and it was a BLAST!

So…we decided to do it again this year!




Last night, my girlfriends, their hubby’s, and adorable kids came over for delicious Mexican fajitas, sangria, and a super fun evening!  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate as dark skies and storms rolled in as our first guests arrived.  I was a little worried since we wouldn’t be able to play outside, and the BOY and I don’t have tons of great kids toys, but luckily Cooper gave us some cred with the 2-4 year old age group.  The kids loved him and his toys, and he did fantastic with all of his new friends.




We BOY braved the rain to grill up some tender meat and chicken fajitas and we decided to roast the veggies in the oven.  The kids began the night with a few servings of blue box mac n cheese : ) 

For the first time, I made a batch of homemade salsa.




A coworker gave me a HUGE bag of tomatoes from her garden, which worked out fabulously!




I followed a recipe I found on My Frugal Adventure.  However, when I added the second batch of ingredients, I automatically hit ON instead of PULSE.




My salsa ended up a little too watery, which was nothing my strainer couldn’t fix!




Ta Da!  My first batch of salsa!




That really was soo easy, I will be making more again soon!




For dessert, I kept with the end of summer theme whipping up a batch of S’mores Bars from Averie Cooks.




I knew these bars looked spectacular and couldn’t wait to try them!




But you do have to let them cool before you slice them!




Or if you want to cut them immediately, place them in the freezer to cool for a few minutes.




To drink, I made a sweet batch of White Wine Sangria.




I just really hope that Cooper does not think he was helping me in the kitchen because I did all of the work!






You can find Averie’s recipe for Soft and Gooey Loaded S’mores Bars on her blog!

This morning, the skies are still dark with booming thunder and bright flashes of lightening.  The BOY and I are thrilled to have a house full of leftovers (including sangria and s’mores bars).



Mexican Breakfast



Simple Homemade Salsa

From My Frugal Adventure



6-8 fresh tomatoes

⅓ sweet onion roughly chopped

bunch of cilantro

1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced

1 lime


3 cloves of garlic



Roughly chop the tomato and place in a food processor or a blender.

Add the onion and cilantro and garlic.

Give the mixture a quick few chops in your mixer.

Slice one lime and squeeze the juice on top as well as a few pinches of salt and any other spices you want to add.

Add the pepper and blend.

For a chucky salsa you want to just do a few quick pulses in the food processer.



Thank you friends for an awesome evening!

We are looking forward to Fall Fiesta Part Tres in 2014!

I should have Learned My Lesson

You would think after yesterday’s hot and hilly run that I would have learned my lesson about starting long runs at 8am.  Nope!  Even with the best intentions to set my alarm for 6am, when the time came last night, I didn’t, and instead woke up at 7am with the BOY.  By 8am, I was out the door for a 13 mile out and back run.  I knew it was going to be a HOT one and my legs felt tired and stiff for the first 3 1/2 miles.  This seems to be the trend, and I’m not too worried about it knowing that the first 3 miles of the marathon will be very crowded anyways and I shouldn’t be sprinting out of the gate like an elite athlete anyways.  I had some breeze throughout the first half of the run and my splits were right around 10 minutes, which was perfect.  However, around 9 miles, the heat got the best of me and fatigue just took over.  At that moment, the 6am alarm sounded like a GREAT idea!  I grabbed some fuel and tried to ration my water for the last few miles of my run.  I tried walking a few short stretches, but my body just couldn’t recover. 


I made a BIG mistake (even bigger than starting a run this late) and that was lack of hydration, and my run suffered for it!  I did not properly hydrate after yesterday’s run as I was busy at work.  I did drink some water, but also some black iced tea, which is not nearly as effective.  I also did not bring enough water with me for today’s run to stay hydrated and energized.  I ran out of water at mile 11, finished up at mile 12, and then decided to walk the rest of the way home.  In retrospect, it would have been a better idea to stash some water along the trail (since my pack was full) to scoop up on my way back home.  I have never been good about this and worry a little about the safety aspect. 

Does anyone stash water?  Any tips?




My lack of hydration definitely ruined my 13 mile run that is right in the heart of training, but it didn’t ruin my day.  While I was run/walking home today, I was dreaming of an ice bath.  If you know me, you know that I would HATE an ice bath, but I decided to do a modified bath (with cold water and a little bit of ice), which felt fantastic. 




Not surprisingly, I had company trying to fish the ice cubes (his favorite toy) out of the tub…




Until he slipped into the tub himself, rolled around trying to climb out, and then bounded out to safety.  A quick shake and he was back for more.  Seriously…aren’t cats supposed to hate water?


DSCN1453 DSCN1454 DSCN1455


My ice bath was delightful and refreshing and I have continued to drink water non stop for the rest of the morning and afternoon in an attempt to rehydrate for the busy weekend ahead.  I have to say that I am usually very conscious about what I eat the day before a run, but have not been good about hydration the day before.  In this case, it definitely impacted my run.  And although I know I don’t want to overhydrate, it was a good lesson to learn at this stage of training.




Weekly Mileage: 25 miles


If that sounds short, it’s because it is.  I only ran 3 days this week!  Next week is my first of two 20 mile runs.  Is it crazy that I am already nervous?!  Happy Friday and hope everyone has a fun and safe 3 day weekend!

Running Fuel and August Goals

I had the most delicious Monday night Birthday dinner!  No pictures to post because the BOY and I were too busy sharing a fantastic bottle of red wine : ) but  I decided to sleep in Tuesday morning.  Well I tried at least, but the BOY was making noise in our room and Cooper was bouncing on my head.  I made breakfast, checked email, and made the mistake of checking out the weather for the day.  95 degrees!  That’s crazy hot!  I went upstairs to change into my running clothes but instead climbed back into bed for a 90 minute pre work nap!  I know I should feel guilty for skipping my 5 mile run, but instead I felt refreshed.  I pushed through a lot of long runs last week while I was sick, so I decided to cut myself some slack.  Since Wednesday is my rest day, that made for two exercise free days in a row!


Which meant that I HAD to run this morning, despite the heat.  I certainly didn’t get up early enough to beat the heat, so when I left for my run, I wasn’t one mile in before the air felt thick, my t shirt was heavy, and my legs were wobbling like angel hair pasta.  I tried to pick an 8 mile route with shade, which unfortunately also meant hills.  Hills and heat does not a race pace run make!!!  But I tried…for the first half of my run anyways, and then 4 miles later, settled into a comfortable pace.  I was able to find my way through 8 long miles pulling back into the driveway at 73:22.  Although definitely not race pace, it wasn’t as slow as I thought it would be.


On another note, I have finally settled on a fuel for the marathon.  I tried a few different options over the last few weeks and settled on these guys.




During my first and only marathon, it was SO hot that I had trouble taking in my nutrition.  I had to beg a random spectator for a slice of his orange.  The good news is that when I ate these in the heat today, they went down smoothly!  I’m planning on trying them for tomorrow’s weather-permitted long run!


What do you use to fuel your runs?


Since August is almost over and I have a busy Labor Day weekend, I thought it would be a good time to check in with goals.


August Goals

My main goal was to dive into marathon training, which has been going pretty well!  I haven’t finished Hal’s book yet, but my long runs have been slow but strong, and I am consistently stretching. Hooray!

My secondary goal was to raise money for St. Jude.  And…I am well on my way!  Thank you to all of you for your emotional support!


September Goals

I’m sticking with the single focus goals.  This month its all about nutrition!

I have been all across the board with my eating.  So this month, I’d like to get back to meal panning, eating clean, and properly fueling my runs!

Running for St. Jude

Dear Friends and Family,


I did it again! I signed up to run the Chicago Marathon and on October 13, I will be sporting my St. Jude Heroes jersey and taking on 26.2 miles in support of this incredible hospital!




When I completed my first marathon in 2011, it was the children of St. Jude and you guys that inspired me through those last 10 miles. It is true when they say that the marathon starts at mile 20. Those were the toughest physical and mental miles I have ever completed. But the streets were filled with spectators cheering me on and shouting ‘Way to go Hero!’ It brought tears to my eyes. And when I crossed the finish line, my feet on fire, I found my way back to the St. Jude tent where I was surrounded by my family and volunteers, I was full of pride and joy!




This is the same feeling that that children of St. Jude get when they stand for the first time after surgery, take steps in their new prosthesis, and celebrate their No Mo’ Chemo Party with the nurses that have become their friends. I know this first hand as I was the physical therapist pushing them towards these moments. Even though I am no longer working at St. Jude, I’d love to continue to provide these opportunities for health and healing, which is why I am raising money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital!


Not only does St. Jude do so many incredible things for its patients and families, it continues to be a source of hope and inspiration for me. I appreciate all of the support you have already given me, and if you’d like to donate to St. Jude, please check out my Heroes Page!





And don’t forget to follow me online or trek out to the marathon to cheer me and the thousands of other charity runners through the neighborhoods of Chicago on October 13th.



Love and Thanks,


Lessons Learned in my Early 30’s

Today’s my 32nd birthday!


Jen 1st Birthday 001

This was my 1st Birthday!


Where do the years go?  Birthday’s always make me a little introspective as I think back on where I’ve been and where I want to go.  As I find new gray hairs and my metabolism comes to a screeching halt, I feel so old.  Yet when I am out running 8 miles before my active work day, I feel so young.  Plus I am carded every time I try to by wine : )


They say that every decade brings new lessons and enlightened theories.  I certainly learned my fair share during my 20’s and was excited to turn 30, an age that brings wisdom and perspective.  In the 2 years since my 30th birthday, it’s obvious that this decade is bringing with it a maturity and comfort (along with the above mentioned gray hairs) that my teens and 20’s lacked.  I thought it’d be fun to share a few of my early lessons, and I’d love to hear which decade taught you the most and what lessons you’ve learned?!

Make sure to leave some comments!!!


Lessons Learned in my Early 30’s


1. Sleep is important.


2. Wear sunscreen EVERY day!


3. It is better to drink less of an expensive wine or beer than more of the cheap stuff.


4. Challenge yourself mentally and physically.


5. Surround yourself with friends who love and accept you for you!


6. There is much joy in volunteering and helping others.


7. Work to live, don’t live to work!


8. Declutter your life…don’t hold on to everything.


9. Forgive yourself and learn from your mistakes.


10. Create a rainy day savings fund (and a retirement one too).


11. Eat dark chocolate.


12. Don’t go to sleep with make up on.


13. And invest in a good eye cream (I love Kiehl’s).


14. Treat yourself with the kindness you grant your friends.


15. Listen to your parents’ advice and thank them often.


16. Take Chances!


17. Find joy in every day…even when you’re stuck in traffic.


18. Say hello to strangers.


19. Schedule in down/alone time.


20. Tea is delicious!


21. Be clear and direct with your communication.


22. Floss your teeth daily.


23. Swing on swingsets and play with children.


24. Strength train.


25. Create your own life plan!


Jen 1


And always remember to…


Do what you love, and love what you do!

As a Nominee…

I promise to bring you a random, interesting, and entertaining post. 

But I can’t move on without thanking the wonderful Kayla for this Leibster nod!  Thanks Girl!!!




11 Random Facts About Me


1. I have a scar in the middle of my forehead from when I had the chicken pox in 5th grade.

2. I spend more money on running shoes than I do on heels.  I’m not sure that I even own any heels.  Ok, maybe one pair for weddings.

3. I am slightly superstition, so you will see me avoiding ladders and knocking on wood.

4. I took 4 AP classes in high school and graduated with highest honors.

5. I used to hate my middle name, but now I use it in my email address.

6. Growing up, my favorite food was my dad’s chicken parmesan.  I also love his matzo ball soup!

7. I drink way to much bubbly for my own good.

8. I remember when the original Nintendo came out, but I never had one.

9. I still sleep with a teddy bear (and my boyfriend and last night our kitten).

10. I hate public speaking!

11. Even though I race for fun, I still get crazy nervous and anxious before every race.



Questions from Kalya


What is your favorite childhood memory?

Oh my gosh…there are so many to choose from!  I think driving down to Florida, spending 24 hours with my parents and brother in the car playing games, singing, eating, and causing trouble on our way to visit my grandparents in Florida.  We used to go every winter break and then out east for spring break.



My bro and I in Florida!


Most embarrassing moment?

My first kiss…I’m not sharing any more : )


What is your favorite way to relax/unwind?

When I can afford it, a massage.  But I love a yoga class or eating dinner outside with a glass of wine at sunset.  Ahhh!


If you won the lotto, what would be your first purchase?

It would either be an amazing downtown (Chicago) condo or a trip to the Polynesian Islands.


What feature/quality do you find most attractive in the opposite sex?

Their smile!


Are you an early bird or night owl?

I’d prefer to be a night owl (ask my college roommates), but life has made me an early bird.


What is more difficult for you; eating healthy or working out?

Eating healthy!  Have you seen all of the dessert recipes on this blog?!  I love to stay active, but I also love me some fro yo and dark chocolate.




What is one thing you have on your bucket list?

Since I’ve already been skydiving in Australia and this summer, I traveled to Israel, I’d have to say a half Ironman.


What quality do you appreciate the most in a good friend?

Honesty and humor.


What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Earning my DPT and moving by myself to Tennessee for my first job.




What do you think is the greatest invention?

The airplane.  I LOVE to travel!



11 Questions for you, my Friends

1. What position do you sleep in?

2. Who is the most influential person in your life?

3. What is your favorite way to celebrate your birthday?

4. What is the last thing that you read?  Was it paper or electronic copy?

5. What are your Labor Day plans?

6. Who is our celeb crush?

7. Do you like taking pictures?  What is your favorite thing to photograph?

8. Do you have any bad habits?

9. What was your favorite childhood television show?

10. What is the hardest thing you’ve done?

11. Did you have braces as a kid? For how long?



Now It’s Your Turn

I’m nominating you all for the Liebster Award!


Here are the rules:

-Acknowledge the blogger who nominated them

-Share 11 random facts about themselves

-Answer the 11 questions given to them

-Nominate 11 new bloggers

-Ask 11 new questions

-Notify the 11 bloggers about their nominations


Tell me something interesting about yourself or answer any or all of the questions!

Breakfast from the Blogs

We had nothing for breakfast this morning!  Always so sad! 

However, there is a Law and Order Marathon on TNT.  Always so happy!

This is where blog reading really comes in handy.  When you think you have no food or ideas for breakfast, you stumble upon an easy recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly Oatmeal over at Cookie Dough Katzen.




A few minutes later and some homemade peanut butter plus this unique flavored jam…




And Breakfast is served!




I will definitely keep this recipe handy for future breakfasts! There are always oats in the house!




I also stumbled upon this mouth watering recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Baked Oatmeal that when I have more time, I can’t wait to make!!!



What’s the best breakfast you’ve found on a blog?


Here are a few other tasty ways to start your day….

Apple Eggie Cups

Overnight Oats in a Jar

Caramel Apple Granola

Tina’s OMG! Pancakes

Strawberry Banana Muffins

Baked Eggs in Avocado with Bacon & Toast



Peanut Butter and Jelly Oats

From Cookie Dough Katzen



1/2 cup oats

3/4 cup water

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1-2 Tbsp peanut butter

1 Tbsp jelly



-Combine oats and water in a microwave safe bowl.  Stir in vanilla and cinnamon.

-Microwave for 2 minutes.

-Stir in peanut butter and jelly and enjoy warm!

The Run Must Go On

There are some mornings when the stars align and you have that perfect run…

This morning was not one of them!


It’s not that it didn’t have the making to be a good run.  We had a delicious and carb filled dinner opting for water instead of red wine last night.




Then I went to bed early and slept beautifully!  Although it was early, I happily climbed out of bed at 6:30 this morning, ate a Dough Boy Smoothie for breakfast, packed up my belt, and headed out for my 18 mile run at 7:10am.




Since my Mom was unavailable, I suggested that the BOY bike with me during my long run.  Considering I have only seen him on a bike once in the 7 years we’ve been dating, I was not at all surprised when he said no, but happy when he suggested that he meet me half way for water and fuel refills.  I planned my run to finish ~9 miles at the park not far from our house.  I had thought about packing up a head set, but realized since I wouldn’t be using one in the marathon, I didn’t want one today.  I started off slow, but along the way, picked up a new friend and therefore my pace (~8:30 min/miles) for 1-2 miles while chatting about running and marathons before he headed home.  The benefit of being out at 5:30am is that he was heading home as I rounded mile 6.  At 9.5 miles, I jogged up to the BOY where I chugged some water and attempted to eat an energy gel.  I had gotten it free in a race goodie bag and it was so awful, I couldn’t swallow it or finish it!  Instead, I finished the Larabar I’d eaten half of around an hour and drank some more water and used the bathroom.  Right before I was set to head back out, I remembered that my sock was bothering me.  I took off my shoe to adjust it and discovered that both my sock and shoe were covered in blood (just like on this run).


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I didn’t have any bandaids, so I hopped into the car with the BOY to head for home where I cleaned up my toe and my sock and then decided to change tops since my tank was already sweaty.  In the whole process, I lost about 30 minutes and still had another 8.5 miles to go.  I gathered my pack (with no food) and went back outside.  Although my legs felt tired and stiff, not once did I even consider not finishing today’s run.  The back half of the run was much tougher than the front half, and I think throughout the entire 18 miles, my splits were all over the place!  The worst part about losing 30 minutes was that the sun was blazing by the time I strode up to my house competing 18 miles in 2:51:04.   Upon walking inside, I immediately (and dramatically) collapsed on the floor to catch my breath.  The BOY pulled me out of my recovery because we were hosting an impromptu BBQ at our house for my family, who would be arriving in an hour!   And we still needed to run out to the grocery store.  Lunch was FANTASTIC, and the BOY really outdid himself with seared tuna and homemade spinach and feta turkey burgers (I told you it was impromtu but also a little random based on what we had in the house).  My Mom provided an array of dessert’s from Tony’s amazing bakery.




It was an awesome afternoon!  After lunch, Cooper and I curled up for an hour and a half nap.  The BOY and I have another BBQ this evening, and I knew I wouldn’t make it awake past 8pm if I didn’t get some rest.  I forgot how draining long weekend runs can be (but according to Hal’s book so important physically and psychologically).  They just knock me out for the rest of the day!




Take Home Message: Sometimes runs like today are necessary to remind you that it doesn’t have to be the perfect training run to be a successful one.  They are also important to show that even when you have to stop, rest, stretch, or add a bandaid, you can always find your way back to the course and proceed on to the finish.  Take Home Message Part II: Pack bandaids in your running pack!!!


Weekly Mileage: 39 Miles


Despite being sick, I was able to get in all of my miles this week although some not as pretty as others.  I am looking forward to a Sunday yoga class and next week’s cut back week of lower mileage.  In other news, I signed up for the 20 miler this week, which is a cool, local supported run to prep for the marathon.  I told my new running buddy all about it this morning.

Five For Friday IX {Confession Edition}

Confession # 1

The rain continued to pour, and I didn’t make it to the grocery store yesterday to make homemade soup.


Confession #2

I didn’t workout yesterday (meaning I did nada for two days in a row).  It’s a good thing I got my 8 miles in this morning and am somewhat prepared for tomorrow’s 18 mile run.




Confession #2.5

I attempted to make Friday Morning Pancakes with coconut flour, which was a total disaster.  But I ate them anyways!




Confession #3

I finally told some of my work friends that I blog..they laughed!


Confession #4

I am slightly obsessed with taking pictures of Cooper, who in 2 weeks looks a lot less like a kitten and more like a full grown cat.



Hello, my name is Cooper and I am addicted to ice cubes


Confession #5

I think both Cooper and I have put on weight this week.  On Cooper’s front…a full bag of kitten treats has disappeared this week.  We have two possible suspects: Cooper and the guy who cleans our house. 




I think the answer is obvious!

The BOY and I just enjoyed one of our last summer Friday’s outback eating Mediterranean chicken pitas with homemade tahini for lunch.  Now we’ve got some errands to run. 




Happy Friday to all!

Soup for Sick Days

Although yesterday I was feeling much better, storms rolled in last night wreaking their usual havoc on my sinuses. Ahhh!  Bummer!  My scheduled 8 mile run was out of the question, and Cooper and I became semi-permanent fixtures on my couch with hot tea and multiple old episodes of So You Think You Can Dance.  Some of us napped…




While others tried to blog : )


On days like today…only soup will do!  As I debated whether or not I was going to make the drive to the grocery store, I started thinking about all of my favorite soup recipes.  This blog is FULL of them!


Chicken Tortilla Soup




CSA Soup


Curried Butternut Red Lentil Soup


Mushroom Barley Soup




Crockpot Chickpea, Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Stew


Healthy New Year Soup




Crockpot Vegetarian Chili


Jen’s Jumbo


African Peanut Stew







What is your favorite rainy sick day soup recipe???


I’m certainly glad I took advantage of sleeping Cooper because it wasn’t long before he was back up to his wild ways!