Jun 30, 2013

Sorry! Technical Difficulties!

I was having some problems with my blog settings that I was not aware of.

First, Brandy at Throwing the Yo-Yo Away, was so kind to let me know that I had a setting on my blogger profile that was not allowing anyone to reply to comments I leave.  Whoops!  I went in and figured out how to fix that.  (Thank you, Brandy!)

In the process of clicking around and trying to figure out how to fix it, I managed to turn off something allowing others to comment on my blog.  Whoops, again!   Rebecca at Southern Mess Mom, was kind enough to inform me of that one too.  Thank you, Rebecca!

I felt bad because I love reading and responding to everyone's comments!  I wasn't trying to be anti-social, I promise.

Anyway, everything should be up and running the way it should be now!

Thanks, again, to Brandy and Rebecca for letting me know about the problems!

Jun 28, 2013

Mission: Toy Organization and Birthday Adventures

We have a small house.  The toys are overtaking it and something has to be done.  I am tired of stepping on painful things like a toy broccoli spear (hurt like a bitch, and yes, they make toy broccoli) and hearing noise making toys go off at eerie times.  So, I took on the task of getting the toys out of the living room and in to the kids' room where it belongs.  As mentioned, we have a small house, and the kids are currently sharing a room, so we had to be smart about it.

I found these great bins at IKEA on Wednesday.  They are collapsible and come in packs of 3 for $14.00.  I thought that was a great deal, because fabric bins at Target can easily run nearly $10/bin.  I labeled them with fabric markers.  Darcy has been having an attitude about cleaning up lately, so I am going to try to make it easier and maybe more fun for her.  Since she cannot read the labels, I am going to safety pin pictures to the bins, so that she knows what goes in them.  

We are overrun by stuffed toys.  So, I am in the process of figuring out what will be donated.  I also have one of those stuffed toy hammock things that I am going to hang up for some storage.  

The Brooks family arsenal.  Aidan has more squirt guns and Nerf guns than any kid I know.  Most of them were gifts.  He even has Nerf swords, a Nerf bow and arrow, a Thundercats sword, and a light saber with sound and lights.  We are ready for war, folks.  

Ok Movin' on....

So, yesterday was my birthday.  It was a good day, although I wouldn't exactly call it exciting.  Tim is off this week, so we had a nice, lazy morning with the kids.  We could not figure out what to do or where to go, so I suggest, "Why don't we go down to Great American Ball Park to the Pro Shop?"  I have been wanting a new Reds t-shirt, and where better to go than the pro shop, right?  WRONG-O.

So, we get in the car and make the 15 minute drive into downtown Cincinnati.  We pay $3 to park our car.  

We get to the pro-shop and walk in the doors.  
We walk right back out.  Forty dollars for a damn t-shirt??  You have GOT to be shitting me!!

After that, we decided to drive to one of our favorite parts of town to do a little shopping and have dinner later.  The kids were being little beasts.  When I thought that I couldn't take it anymore, this happened:

Thank God for small miracles.

Tim and I take turns running into places we want to go, so that the beasts could continue to hibernate.  This is what we have resorted to, folks.  I miss shopping alone.

We stop for my "birthday cake." 
Because I am trying to mend my fat girl ways, I order the smallest size and share it with Darcy.  It worked out well, and I avoided some of the calories and the guilt.

Olive Garden for dinner.  Their portobello mushroom ravioli is amazing.  For such a rich dish, the calories were not insane.  Not a meal I could eat every day, but it was my birthday.  I am going to eat something special.

The ice cream did take me over my calorie allowance for the day, but it is ok.  I don't eat Coldstone and Olive Garden every day or every month, even!  

And now, for the best birthday card award:

This is the card that my sister, Carrie, sent me.  I cannot explain why this is funny.  It just is.  So there.

Jun 27, 2013

They Say it's Your Birthday!!

It's my birthday too, yeah!!

One of my favorite things Tim does on birthdays:  He comes downstairs, pulls out The Beatles (The White Album) on vinyl (of course) and blares "Birthday."  It is a fun way to wake up, and since Tim is so passionate about his vinyl collection, this is his version of a greeting card.  Fun stuff...

This was his morning Facebook message to me:
You would have to know Tim, to know that this is funny, I guess.  He has a very dry, interesting sense of humor.  

So, yes, it is my birthday...my 34th.

I wish I could say that I was doing something crazy-exciting, but I am not.  That's ok though.  I am spending it with my family and am going to enjoy their company.  I am sure I will be treated to dinner out, and I am looking forward to that!  Birthday dinners always taste better, right?

Actually, the best gift that I have gotten so far, is that it is 7:30 and Darcy is still sleeping.  This never happens.  It is going to be a good day.

There I am, 33 years ago. Cute, huh?  Looking at this reminds me how much my own daughter looks like me...

ANYWAY, there are a few promises that I am making for myself during this 34th year.  I am determined to make this year a turning point.

  1. This will be last birthday where I will be this size.  I am not going to say that I will be a certain weight, because it is impossible to predict what I can lose exactly.  When I get to go shopping with the gift cards that I get from friends and family, I want to be able to buy my clothes in a normal store.  I would be thrilled to purchase any article of clothing in the Misses section -- other than socks.
  2. I want to have run more than one 5K by this time next year.  I am training right now and it is rough.  I want to feel all bad ass by running 3 miles with ease.  Let's define ease,shall we?  Ease = not cursing the whole way and not feeling like I am gargling my heart.  Would also be nice to look hot in my running gear...you know, as hot as tank tops and yoga capris can look. May still curse the whole way -- just cause it's fun to scare the neighbors.  
  3. I am gonna buy purdier clothes.  Tired of da frump.  Just cause I am fat, doesn't mean I don't deserve to look cute.
  4. I am going to try and reward myself for meeting milestones with my weight loss.  These rewards cannot be food.  Chocolate does not equal happiness....
  5. I want to actually believe the last part of #4.
  6. I am going to be a little more selfish and learn to take care of myself.  Never putting myself first is part of the problem.  
  7. I want to have shared a lot of breakthrough, positive moments with all of you.
And now...

A friend of mine has already sent me a couple of these. I nearly shot coffee out my nose with the first one. Second one is funny 'cause it's true.

Have a great day, everyone!

Jun 26, 2013

So What!?

So What Wednesday
  1. So what if I am a link-up whore?  I am new to the blogging universe (bloggiverse?), and am trying to meet new people. 
  2. I bribed my kids and husband with a trip to Dairy Queen yesterday if they behaved while mommy shopped at IKEA.
  3. I spent $85 on storage solutions at IKEA cause the kids' toys are out of freakin' control.
  4. I partook in a peanut butter sundae with chocolate ice cream at Dairy Queen...but it was a small...and I counted ever last calorie AND was still under my calorie allowance. Booyah!! 
  5. We didn't go to Dairy Queen because the kids and husband behaved.  We went cause mommy was stressed after that experience.  Stress eating, much?
  6. The dining room is an obstacle course.  It needs cleaned.  I have been saying this for a week.  Today is the day, people!
  7. I didn't get right up and run today.  Not feelin' it, but there is a Jillian DVD in my near future.
  8. Tomorrow is my 34th birthday and feeling rather "meh" about it.  
  9. I have fruit flies in my kitchen that I cannot seem to get rid of -- despite cleaning like a maniac.  All because one banana went bad in the fruit bowl and I didn't notice.  For things with tiny lifespans, they sure stick around.  Little bastards...
  10. I didn't get the job I interviewed for last Wednesday.  Little bastards... 
  11. I have a sad addiction to Candy Crush that I cannot seem to overcome -- despite being stuck on the same level for, like, EVER...
  12. I wanna be one of the cool kids.
  13. I went to Whole Foods for the first time yesterday and was totally disappointed.  Not only did it smell of stinky fish, but everything was so damn expensive.  $17 for a jar of almond butter? Seriously? (They have all the stuff I would want from there at Meijer....and CHEAPER.)
  14. I couldn't think of anymore of these, but did not want to leave my number at unlucky 13.  Don't judge me.

Jun 25, 2013

Chipotle Knock Off Success!

So, one of my very favorite fast food meals is a burrito bowl from Chipotle.  They are so damn good.  The calories are a bit scary though.  Because I love them so much, I really wanted to challenge myself to recreate this deliciousness at home, so I did. I got the idea for the marinade on Pinterest.  It turned out GREAT!  Thank you, Pinterest!!

First, I had to prep the marinade:

I put about a pound and a half of chicken tenders in a ziploc bag with 2 chopped up chipotle peppers in adobo, juice from half a lime, and a handful of chopped cilantro.

In a separate dish, I mixed one pouch of fajita mix in with 1/4 cup of olive oil.  (I just noticed the tiny fingers in this picture.  My daughter was helping with the food prep. ;)

I mixed this mixture in with the chicken and made sure each piece was completely covered.  I marinated it for about an hour.

Grill it up!

While the chicken was grilling a sauteed green peppers and red onions in a pan.

I chopped up the chicken and assembled my burrito bowl. I couldn't wait to try a bite.  It was awesome!

I layered my bowl with brown rice (the Steamfresh kind from the freezer section), corn kernels (I had left over corn on the cob), peppers and onions, pico de gallo, chicken, a sprinkle of cheese, and light sour cream.

It was really just so good!  I think I would omit the sour cream next time.  There is so much flavor, I really didn't need it.  May as well save on the calories!

Chicken Marinade Recipe:
1-1.5 pounds of chicken breasts or chicken tenders
1/2 a lime, juice
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
handful of cilantro, chopped 
1 pouch of fajita seasoning
1/4 cup olive oil

- Put chicken in large ziploc bag
- Add in chopped cilantro and chipotle peppers
- Mix oil and fajita seasoning together in a bowl.  Pour over chicken.
- Coat chicken completely.
- Marinate for at least an hour.
- Grill up and serve!

%mexico %expat

My Vacation Link-Up + Other Random tidbits...

First of all, after reading Holly's blog today, I was reminded that Google Reader will be no more very soon.  If you are following my blog via Google Reader right now, you can also do so through Bloglovin' in order to keep up with me.  If you visit Holly's blog, she has a link to give instructions on how to make the transition to Bloglovin' for following your favorite blogs.


Runnin' Music!  If you need a great music mix to run or exercise to, look no further.  Download "All Day" by Girl Talk.  It is a mix of songs that just make you want to dance or run...or both..whatever.  Just a warning though:  It is riddled with profanity (but so are my runs), so it is definitely not something you want to play with the kids present.  The awesome part is that you can download it for free here.  Don't worry.  It is legal.  Girl Talk albums are mash ups of other artists' songs, so he cannot legally make a profit from it.  Therefore, he just does them and allows the mash ups to be downloaded off his website -- and the artists are ok with that because he is not making profit off their music.


And now, the link up!


My favorite vacation was our trip to North Myrtle Beach last summer.  I loved it because we went with a group of family on Tim's side.  We all rented a condo and just had an all around great time.  I am pretty sure it was also my favorite because it is the first vacation we have taken together since Darcy was born.  The kids loved the beach and still talk about it to this day.  We couldn't swing a big vacation this summer, but we are hoping to go again next summer.  

Beach view from our condo.

Darcy on the balcony...looking sweet. 

Bathing beauty.  Her favorite part of the beach was collecting shells and building sand castles.  She was afraid of getting in the ocean.

We broke away from the group to take Aidan to play miniature golf.  He "won." (Highest score wins in golf, right? haha)

Aidan at the little Lego shop/workshop.  He had fun in here and was psyched about the complimentary pirate hat.

The SkyWheel was awesome!  We took a ride during the day because the line is 2 miles long in the evening.

Aidan taking in the view from the SkyWheel.

Darcy and I enjoying the view.

View from the SkyWheel.

Family photo op.  Cannot ever get both kids to smile. 

The only mistake of the vacation was going to Planet Hollywood for dinner.  Planet Hollywood is laaaaaaaame.  Tim and I had a good time poking fun at the pop culture references that were cool if we were there in 1994 though.

One of my favorite pics from the whole trip.  We were grocery shopping for the condo after our first full day there.  I think someone was a little worn out.  :)

Jun 24, 2013

Parties, Pools, and Arm Fat

Happy Monday!  Kind of a contradiction in terms, isn't it?  Oh well.  For me, this Monday follows a very busy, yet fun weekend.  This weekend, we took the 3 hour drive up to northern Indiana to visit Tim's family.  Our nephew, Kaleb, recently graduated from high school and we went up for his graduation party.  I am not even gonna talk about how old this makes me feel.  He is one of the little ring bearers in one of the wedding pictures I posted last week.  Now he is all tall and an adult and stuff.  Time sure does fly.

All in all, I had a really good week.  I was active -- I did my morning runs and some Zumba.  I kept myself accountable as far as my food went.  Everything was going fine, until the weekend hit. I have been doing pretty well when my weekends are spent at home.  It is when I travel for the weekend that I really unravel.  It is literally like I have the little angel Courtney on one shoulder supporting good food decisions and the little devil Courtney on the other doing the opposite.  Devil Courtney tends to win the battle.  It ticks me off, but I have no one to blame but myself.  I went to the party and ate cake.  I went to dinner that night and told myself I would only eat salad, but ended up eating 2 pieces of pan pizza with extra cheese along with it.  Thank God, no one decided to go to Dairy Queen, because I know I would have eaten that too if given the chance.

I am going to make a conscious effort to enjoy the people in social situations and make the food an afterthought.  It is, in fact, the people at these gatherings that are most important.  I have 2 BBQs to go to over 4th of July, and I am already looking up some recipes for things to bring along that I can eat and not feel guilty about.  It is time to give myself the tools I need to be successful.  I am denying myself that, so it really is much harder than necessary.

Besides the food issues, everything was great!  We went to my brother and sister-in-law's house to take a swim in their pool.  It felt awesome on such a hot day.  I have been getting better about just putting on my suit and enjoying pool time.  I used to sit on the side, sweating to death, and watching everyone have fun -- all the while wishing I could join them.  I could have joined them.  I was just too uptight about being seen in a bathing suit.  The reality is that I look more conspicuous sitting on the side not taking part in the fun.  I still have several moments of insecurity, but I am getting better at it.

Saturday evening, my mother-in-law took me shopping to get my birthday gift (my birthday is this coming Thursday).  She works at Meijer and has a employee discount.  There was also a mPerks coupon deal going on. I asked her if, for my birthday, she could take me there and use her discount to buy me new clothes to exercise in.

I was able to get all this stuff for only about $30!!  Nothing gets me more excited than a good deal. I also made the move to tank tops.  I HATE MY ARMS.  They are horrible.  I have arms that define bat wings.  They are almost hypnotizing.  I bought tank tops though because I am outside running and it is freaking hot!  If I lose all the weight I want to, I can honestly say that I would consider surgery on my arms to get rid of this issue.  I am a big girl and it isn't my butt or stomach that make me insecure.  It is my damn arms.   You know in the old cartoons where a character would flex and get the big muscle only to have it fall and dangle under his arm instead?  Yeah, that would be me.  We all have our body issues that we struggle with...this one just happens to be the most dominate one with me.
Me.  I cannot wait to watch this body shrink.  Hopefully this hard work will start to show soon.  :)

Let's follow that up with a sweet picture...
Darcy and her grandma having story time.  She loves her grandmothers so much.  It really is so sweet.  I love capturing these little moments.  

Now, it is time for....

  1. I started my week off right with a run! It is getting so hard...not gonna lie.  I know running is supposed to be a mind over matter sort of thing, but I am not sure how to get that under control.  A shirtless Ryan Gosling could be at the finish line waiting for me with magic calorie-free peanut butter cups, and I STILL would be in agony as I tried to get through it.  The reality is that it HURTS.  Me thinking happy thoughts isn't going to keep it from hurting.  I just have to get to the point where I push through the hurt.  I did pretty well this morning.  I kid of pooped out during my last running interval though.  I am not going to let it get to me though.  Tomorrow is another day, and I shall try again.

  2. We went to the movies today.  I brought our own snacks because I am not going to take out a 2nd mortgage on our house to buy snacks and drinks for a family of 4.   This was my snack --- even though I REALLY wanted chocolate. 
    I know that dry fruit is not as healthy as the real deal, but it was still a sweet treat with a fraction of the calories.

  3. I have a good meal plan for this week.  I even plan to make a knock off of the Chipotle burrito bowl -- one that is lighter on calories and with more veggies than carbs.  I will update with how that turned out later.  I plan to make it tomorrow night. 

To end today's post, a picture of my cute children awaiting their screening of Monsters University. Darcy was so excited to see Mike "Kowsky".

Jun 21, 2013

Liebster Award

Lindsay, blogger from Lindsay Ray, Mama Extraordinaire,  nominated me for a Liebster Blog award.
The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. “Liebster” is German for “favorite”. This award is the “favorite blog award”.  This is really cool and I would like to thank Lindsay for the nomination.  I definitely have fewer than 200 followers, so I appreciate her taking the time to read my little blog. 
To accept the nomination, I have to complete the tasks below:
  • Link back to the blog that nominated you,
  • Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers,
  • Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator,
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself,
  • Create 11 questions for your nominees, and
  • Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them.
Below are the blogs I have nominated:
Random Facts About Me:
  1. I hate spending money.  Some would say I am cheap, I like to call it "thrifty."
  2. I have the strange OCD thing about the way my groceries are arranged on the conveyer belt at check out.  Like, if I can is laying on its side, I have to fix it.  Tim puts stuff on there wrong on purpose, just to piss me off.
  3. I make the best brownies in the free world.
  4. Part of my left leg is always numb thanks to an incident at the Indiana State Fair involving the log ride when I was 14 years old.
  5. I have a pretty good singing voice.
  6. Speaking of voices, my voice is kinda child-like.  I often get the, "Is your mom home?" question when I answer the phone.  
  7. It is nearly impossible for me to stay awake during long car trips (when I am not driving).
  8. I have freakishly loud sneezes and I never sneeze just once.
  9. I am usually very calm in stressful situations...usually.
  10. I have a somewhat irrational fear of driving on snow and ice. 
  11. I have never had a professional pedicure (see number 1).
Questions from my Nominator
  1. Who is your biggest supporter? My husband, Tim, my parents, sister. ( I am lucky.  I have many.)
  2. What do you wish you had more time for? "Me" time and date nights
  3.  If you could change one thing about society, what would it be?  The lack of consideration and respect people seem to have or don't have for others.
  4.  What makes you feel at peace? Cuddling with my kids on the couch.
  5. What is your favourite book?  The Help
  6.  What is one of your family traditions in your house? Christmas Eve turkey dinner - just the 4 of us.
  7. What is the one thing you wish you were better at? Housekeeping
  8. What one thing would you change about yourself? I would stand up for myself more.
  9.  How do you define, being a great mother? Being patient, kind, and silly.  Silly is very important. 
  10.  What is your favourite movie? Tough One.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. 
  11.  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Wherever my family is. 
Questions to my Nominees:
  1. What is your favorite personal trait?
  2. How do you prefer to spend your free time?
  3. If you could sit down to dinner with any person (living or dead) who would it be?
  4. What is your guilty pleasure?
  5. What inspires you?
  6. If money were no object and you could buy anything right now, what would it be?
  7. What is your favorite food?
  8. What is your favorite material possession?
  9. How would others describe you?
  10. What was your worst subject in school?
  11. What is your favorite activity to do with your family on a Saturday?

Sunnies and Summer Accessories Link Up


I was going to write something a little more serious today, but I decided I didn't feel like it, because it's Friday!  No one wants heavy on Friday, right?  I decided to participate in yet another link up.  What can I say?  They are fun and Holly is churning them out this week!  If you have not visited Holly and Laura's blogs yet, you should.  They are two on my list of favorites.

Anyway, on to the link up!  Summer is an interesting time for me.  I love it because I work in education -- which usually equals summers off.  That alone makes it awesome.  The part that I dislike is the part where it is hot outside and I have to show more skin.  I am trying really hard to break out of my comfort zone and buy more shorts and the like, but it is hard.  I am getting there though.  ANYWAY, these are my favorite summer time accessories:

Elle Sunglasses from Kohls:

I have never spent much on sunglasses -- especially since I have had children.  I have witnessed my daughter take a pair of sunglasses and break them in half with her superhuman baby strength.  It was always one of those situations where it all happened in slow motion and I could not get them from her fast enough.  I know now that nothing is safe in my purse -- so my sunglasses now reside in my car.  Anyway, I love the Elle line of sunglasses at Kohls.  They are very affordable -- especially on sale (Which, let's face it, Kohls is always having sales that claim to have the "lowest prices of the season.") They are always cute and have some kind of embellishment on the sides that make them just a bit prettier.  They look expensive, but I love the fact that I can usually buy them from under $20.

Vera Bradley Mailbag:

I am on the go a lot with the kids during the summer - at amusement parks, playgrounds, zoo, etc.  I love this bag because it can carry a lot and because it has a long strap, so I can wear it across my body.  That way, my hands are totally free for kid wrangling.  Anything Vera Bradley is going to be on the pricey side (full price this bag is $78).  I never pay full price for Vera though. My mother and father - in law live in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is the location of the annual Vera outlet sale.  THAT is where I buy my Vera stuff -- discount/outlet style.  So, I think when I purchased my mailbag it was more like $30. You can usually find lower prices on their website also as long as you choose a print that may be discontinued soon.

Bobs Shoes - Sketchers

What came first -- Bobs or Toms? No clue.  Don't care.  I always like to buy a pair of canvas shoes for summertime.  When I am out with the kids, flip flops are not always ideal for me.  Running after a 3 year old in flip flops is comical at best.  Also, the mulch at the playground makes walking in flip flops at the playground a huge pain...sometimes literally.   These are so comfy!  I tried on both Bobs and Toms and Bobs won for me.  They were more comfortable AND they were more affordable -- they are about $10 cheaper, but Shoe Carnival was having one of their awesome sales, soooo...Bob wins.   PLUS, if you buy a pair of Bobs, Sketchers donates a pair of shoes to the Shoes4Soles charity which gives shoes to children living in impoverished areas.  Shoes and charity? I'm in.

Genius Fit Capris by Lane Bryant

I usually live in capris over the summer, because shorts and I don't get along at this point.  Again, I am working on it.  This summer, I have purchased Genius Fit denim capris from Lane Bryant.  I love them because they hold their shape.  I am kind of in between sizes right now, so once the tightness of the freshly washed jeans wears off, I get a saggy jean ass and my 'draws start to slip down.  These don't do that -- ever.  It rocks.    Again, these can be pricey, but you have to hit good 'ol LB when they are having a good sale.  I NEVER buy anything full price from them.  I had one of their Gift Cheque thingies which discounts $25 off a $75 purchase AND capris were $20 that weekend.  So, I got a GREAT deal.  Another thing I liked about these is that the cuff is not sewn in -- as in you can unroll these.  I usually go for this because I have freakishly wide calves (thanks to my grandfather -- why do we always inherit the icky traits?) and when they are cuffed it is a bit snug.  When they are unrolled they are a little longer, but they look very cute.  I have some Real Women Dollars that I may redeem for another pair of these babies this weekend.  Score!  

Aveda Pure Abundance Style Prep

This stuff is the bee's knees!  I have really fine hair, so any styling I do, is useless during the summer because of the humidity.  My hair just deflates and looks like, well, crap.  THIS STUFF has been awesome!  When paired with a hair dryer and a round brush, this stuff gives my hair the body it needs, humidity or no.  I mean, my hair still will not hold a curl in the summer (Have yet to find a hairspray that works for that, so if you know of one, let me know!), but at least with this stuff I can still have volume.  This is definitely a splurge for me ($24/bottle), but it lasts a long time -- a little goes a long way.  Several months of good hair days is worth $24 to me.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup:
Now, while I have not been blessed with an awesome metabolism or normal sized calves, I was blessed with nice skin.  Sooo, that means I don't have to do much in the makeup department.  I do like to put on a light foundation though and this stuff rocks!  It is very light and natural looking.  I also like that it has sun protection built in.  I am very low maintenance when it comes to cosmetics,  so, for me, this is perfect.  It is great for summer because it is so easy and protects my skin.

Avon Glazewear Lip Gloss

I love this stuff year round, but it is great for the fun, simple look that I like to sport during the summer.  I love lip gloss way more than lipstick anyway.  I love the shine and it is just pretty.  I know it has to be reapplied way more often than lipstick, but oh well.  It's purdy.

Well, that about wraps it up, I guess.  I had fun doing this!  Happy Friday!


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