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March Madness

Enough already!!!

I woke up yesterday morning and found a crazy bunch of snow on the ground and it was STILL snowing. Usually I blog before getting to work but the radio was reporting all the slippery roads and traffic accidents, so I decided to forgo the post and leave a bit early. I’m a nervous snow-storm driver (to put it in a word: terrified) but luckily the entire drive into the office had no SUVs hanging off my bumper. I chugged along at 20mph and got to work with very little mental wear.

How does this happen? I thought we were past the big storms. Here’s a few shots I look looking out over the parking lot at work:

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This is the real March madness! What’s ironic is that I had a dentist appointment last month and cancelled because it landed on the only major snowstorm for the month of February and I didn’t want to drive through town. I rescheduled for? Yesterday. Ha! Figures right? Luckily despite getting several inches of snow, most of it has already melted away… and maybe the extra water will be good for the grass.

No shoveling needed!

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Last night I made a pork tenderloin roast for dinner. Super easy meal and super delicious. I rubbed the roast with coconut oil and then patted on a rubbing of thyme, sage, salt, and minced garlic. Popped it into the oven at 350 and 90 minutes later I was at the perfect temp and ready for dinner!

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The key to a juicy pork roast is to lightly cover in foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. The result was tender, juicy, and flavorful meat. Best part? leftovers for tonight!

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I’m back on the Ideal Protein diet – using up my remaining packets of food and getting a bit of a start on the springtime diet – and already I am sick of vegetables. lol This diet makes you eat a large salad every day (greens) and 4 cups of certain vegetables. I remember from last time that broccoli got old fast. We will need to be creative in how we prepare them so we don’t get bored.

We have a going-away happy hour for some co-workers tonight. Just say NO to the alcohol and snacky bar foods! I guess WI is playing in the NCAA tourney tonight so I’m guessing the bar will be packed and we won’t be there long.

Now we wait until Sunday when the temps are back in the 50’s – and hope this little blip is the end until December! :)

Brownie Baking

How’s Spring treating you so far? I got my toe nails painted a pale pink, so this girl is ready for sandals now. :)

It was a fairly quiet weekend. We did the usual Friday night get-together to watch The Office and The Walking Dead with our friends but Saturday morning Ben had to be up at 4am to help with some off-hour work upgrade. Unfortunately, that didn’t go well and he was working through until 2pm.

So I baked him brownies to ease the pain. lol

I had a brownie mix in the cupboard that’s been there way too long, so I pulled that out and followed the directions on the back for making a decadent chocolate frosting/glaze. You mix a can of sweetened condensed milk with a bag of chocolate chips and a teaspoon of vanilla. How does that sound!? Rich? Ooey-gooey? Intensely amazing? It was.

You can get organic sweetened condensed milk in all our local grocery stores now. I drizzled that into the pan.

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I decided to use mini chocolate chips because I thought they would melt better.

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Mix it all up, cook and stir until melted.

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The directions had me spread this over the brownies when they had five minutes of cooking time remaining… I’m not sure if it was to help the glaze consistency because it didn’t seem to change at all?

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Whatever the reason, the final result was incredible. The frosting wasn’t too thin and also wasn’t too sweet. Plus the brownies themselves were just really good (and chocked full of walnuts – yum!). I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free brownie mix and definitely would recommend it! I know they have a non-gf version as well.

There was slight crackling in the frosting and a gooey richness underneath. I could have eaten the entire pan myself… but we ended up packing more than 1/2 the pan up to give to my family. We don’t need that much temptation around the house!!!

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Ben spiced our brownies up with some fresh raspberries. Super idea – the tartness from the berries were amazing with the brownies.

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I want another one RIGHT NOW. lol Maybe we shouldn’t have given so many of them away.

Ben’s work stuff wasn’t finished Saturday so he did the 4am thing on Sunday too – making the rest of our weekend resting and taking things easy. I am prepping to re-start Ideal Protein today so I stocked up on a bunch of diet-approved goodies for me (plus strawberries for Ben). I guess it is good the brownies are out of the house.

032I now have 3 kinds of micro-greens, lemons, egg whites, peppers, broccoli, green onions, cauliflower… our fridge is stuffed!

I’m nervous to start again but I’m already taking biotin as a precaution for hair loss and will definitely not stay on the diet for 6 months this time around. It’s more around all the pre-planning that has to be done to make sure I have enough vegetables for lunch during work.

So this week will be hard getting used to eating less and upping the water. We have Matt’s birthday next week and I’m allowing myself a slice of cake as a reward for a solid first week. Yes, food as a diet reward, ha ha.

Ok, it’s time to get going to work. Looks windy outside… let’s hope it’s not as cold as it looks!

Wildtree Freezer Party

HAPPY SPRING!!

We’re ringing in the new season with more overcast skies and mid 50 temps – the best day of the week. After today we’re back into settling once more for the gloomy 40s. Still, it’s hard not to feel like the warmth and sunshine is right around the corner now.

A few weeks ago one of my friends invited me to a Wildtree freezer meal workshop at her house. At first I declined, thinking Wildtree was Tastefully Simple. I bought a few TS products when a co-worker was hosting a catalog party and I think that’s the worst way to buy something when you have never used the products before. I didn’t know what was good, what was bad, and ended up buying pricey things that were inedible and thrown into the trash.

Wildtree is similar to Tastefully Simple. Both are “party” products where you get a group of friends, sample products, and place orders. Wildtree differs from Tastefully because most of their products are organic. Another difference with this party structure was that you bring all your meat to make 10 meals. Then, at the party, you add the spices that transform the proteins into delicious entrees.

My friend was raving about having all these meals prepped and how it made dinners so much easier… so I signed up. I got a list of the menu and 10 recipes we’d be making along with the list of everything I needed to buy. Most recipes just needed beef, chicken, or pork but a few needed some additional items (can of Rotel, 1/2 cup of diced peppers, finely chopped onion, etc…). I got all my meats pre-measured at the grocery store so then all I needed to do was number my bags and add the necessary meats and additional ingredients.

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We packed up the rolling cooler with ice and I was off to the party. It was a nice, small group of women and the wine flowed freely as we laughed, measured, and chatted.

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Everyone came in varying stages of preparedness. I had all my meat removed from the grocery store wrappings and in my freezer bags, one lady didn’t and had to take time to do that, and another didn’t bring anything with her – opting to add her stuff once she got home. It all worked!

One requirement was that everyone “cook” with an apron on. So much fun :)

027We got a master document with all the recipes and ingredients as well as a small label with cooking instructions. Do you know what that means? It means Ben can hunt through the freezer, find something that looks good, and then has simple instructions to get started on dinner. What’s not to love about that!??

026Aside from the regular meal assembly, we got to sample all the oils and dressings.

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We also got to look at all the products that were going into our recipes:

029Some of the recipes we prepped were:

– best ever burgers

– sloppy joes

– herb and cheese skillet meal

– ranch chicken strips

– ranch pork chops

– parmesan crusted pork chops

– tacos

– hearty spaghetti

– cheezy chicken sliders

I had a lot of fun putting the meals together and really, really like having a bunch of ready-to-cook meals in the freezer. This will come in handy when we have no idea what to make some night. I will let you know how these meals taste. If they are good, heck, maybe I’ll do a freezer party too.

Speaking of meal prep, I’ve been thinking about going back on the Ideal Protein diet. I lost 40 pounds on the diet back in 2013 but had to stop because I was having such terrible hair loss. I was going through my cupboards and have about 4 weeks of product left. It was really $$$ so I don’t want it to go to waste, and I’m wondering if a few weeks might be a nice weight loss kick-start but not enough time to start losing clumps of my locks again. Last year was a really hard year on me. I gained a bunch of weight back and am feeling down on myself about it. It would be nice to crack a whip and get going on something. Will take some planning so I’ll discuss with Ben over the weekend and see if it’s something I want to start.

I have a pedicure date with my friend Mel on Saturday and am grocery shopping with my other friend Jess today. But the highlight of this weekend will be my chiro adjustment. I have a pain in my neck that I need some TLC on. :) That’s what happens when you get old folks (tee hee).

Here’s to a FABULOUS and beautiful Spring. Bring it on. @}–,–,——-

Mexi-Dining

There’s nothing like an impromptu dinner out with friends.

Last weekend was another grueling deployment in the office and although I wasn’t involved this time (thankfully) you definitely could tell some people were tired, cranky, and irritated on Monday. Since Jess got stuck with working more than 20 hours Sat/Sun, we decided to forgo cooking and get some Mexican food instead.

There are a couple restaurant sites in Green Bay that never seem to stay open very long – regardless of the type of restaurant it is. It seems the actual building/location might be cursed. When you get off the highway to the main drag of restaurants, there’s two restaurants right there (one to the left and one to the right) and they both turn over constantly. Since I’ve been around I’ve witnessed a pizza parlor, brew house, burger house, Mexican restaurant, and now another Mexican restaurant all in the same location. The previous Mexican place was really delicious and we were bummed they went out of business. Ironically, the Mexican place that went out of business on the right-side location is the same place that just opened up again! I’m confused, are you?? lol

But it’s all good if they have a decent menu, good margaritas, Mexican fiesta music, and ample ambience. This place had it all!

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Ben ordered a burrito with chicken and black beans. It was gigantic and wouldn’t you believe it – that boy polished off every bite. Someone was hungry! :)

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I picked a combination platter with a taco, burrito, and chalupa. The chalupa ended up being lettuce, guacamole, and refried beans – so I didn’t end up eating that.

033They had margarita pitchers on sale so we split one amongst us and enjoyed the chips and dip too. And shenanigans, of course!

038We love our friends so much. If you can’t be silly with people… :)

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It was a fun and relaxing dinner. We had a couple coupons which was the icing on the cake too! Can’t argue with a good deal. :)

Yesterday was the last warmer day and we’re now looking at 40s for the rest of the week. It’s not snow so I can’t complain too much but I’m eager for the ground to firm up a bit more so I can begin clearing away dead plants and sprucing things up. We’re both hoping to get a few home improvement projects done this year and we’re a bit nervous so we’ll start with small things and go from there.

It’s still dark outside too. It’s 6:10am and I am about to head on out to work. I’m hoping just a few more weeks and we’ll have daylight once again. Giving me the week of light and then brutally taking it away with Daylight Savings Time was cruel and unusual punishment. :)

Have a great Tuesday everyone!!

Mid-March Merriment

Hey there – I hope you had a relaxing and productive weekend. The forecast projected crazy/awesome temps and while Sat/Sun were pretty windy and overcast, Friday delivered the goods in a BIG way.

Almost all of the snow is gone now. The only visible stuff is way back in the corners surrounded by shade and large trees.

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I spent Friday running errands and being productive. I got a short walk in and then sat around impatiently waiting for Ben to come home from work. He might have gotten a random photo message. Nothing like your wife whining for you to come home when you’re stuck at work, lol.

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(come home so we can play outside…)

Too bad. When you get a sunny and warm day, you want to use it! I wanted Ben to take the bikes down from the rafters and pump the tires up and I was excited to grill out. It was the first official grilling meal of the new year!

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Which, according to Ben, requires a grilling beverage…

003last vestiges of snow… as of yesterday all this snow was gone. Do you like the random spiky plant sprouting from the bush? I’m looking at getting a few estimates to rip shrubs out and put in some curbing around the trees and shrubs in the front of the house. I’m not sure what I want or how $$$ it will be, but I thought I could get a few different people to come over and give me some options.

Here’s a little back-in-time shot that I thought was appropriate. Here I am hanging my first load of laundry on the line. This picture was taken on March 31, 2014:

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And this was the scene yesterday afternoon:

050Hard to complain about that!! We had fresh line-dried bed sheets and that is one of my top reasons for living. :)

We had a small mountain of delicious steak which ended up being leftovers all weekend long. Less cooking for us is always a bonus.

006Along with the meat, I cut up an assortment of veggies we had in the house, tossed them with some grapeseed oil, salt, pepper, and last year’s garden-grown parsley, and roasted away.

007This was a mix of sweet potatoes, butternut squash, parsnips, garlic, and red onion. Everything was delicious except the red onion. They didn’t get crispy the way I had hoped and were tough, leathery, chewy, and not appetizing. I ended up picking them out.

I really loved this way of preparing the veggies. Plus, I could have added much more and had leftovers for other meals as well.

Saturday was Pi day and we caravanned with friends to Costco for some lunchtime shopping and sample nibbling. Ben caught sight of the apple pies and decided we couldn’t possibly get through Pi day without a slice of pie. Costco pies are much larger than the average bakery pie (which is still a lot of pie for two people. Ok, I could eat a whole pie myself so let’s just say it was more pie than two people should eat). That meant we swung by to see my family after dinner and brought dessert for everyone to share. Alex was especially excited. :)

046My piece heated up with a generous dollop of frozen custard on top. Mmm Mmm good.

047A weekend involving pie just can’t be topped (bad pun?)

We don’t have too much planned for this week. There’s a big deployment at work planned and I’m hoping not to be called in to help but other than that, the temps are moving back down into the 40s. We’ll see how long it is before we get the sunshine and mid 60’s I had last Friday. Good thing I got my walk in while I could!!!

Off to work!

Downtown Dining

Oh heck yes! How many ways can you say amazing, wonderful, fabulous weather??!! It took until later afternoon but the temps just crept up all day and by the time I got home from work it was almost 60 degrees. I grabbed Ben and we went for our first neighborhood walk of the year. Spring couldn’t have come soon enough!

We met up with friends to try another restaurant we had never been to before. It was called White Dog Black Cat but we were confused when we walked in because all the outdoor signs just said “Black Cat Café”

Ironic how almost all the snow is gone now but the twinkle lights are still up in downtown Green Bay. I love the ambiance.

033This restaurant was pretty adorable and hard-to-miss from the outside. It was a fuchsia color with funky artwork lining the side of the building.

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Half of the café is more of a bar area while the other smaller section is the dining room. We were seated right in the middle of the room (with people constantly walking all around us) so it wasn’t as quiet as we would have liked. But we were fairly close to the little stove which I thought was adorable.

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I decided to branch out from my normal and ordered one of their black bean burgers substituting French fries for a cup of baked French onion soup. They only charged $1 for the upgrade – I love that!

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Ben ordered a chicken sandwich with fries. His fries were amazingly tasty.

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It was a cute little place but probably more of a lunch than a dinner restaurant. Ben said his sandwich was tasty but tiny. My soup was really good but I wasn’t a big fan of the bean burger. It was a bit mushy and rather bland. I think when you have a bean burger it needs to have some bolder flavors to make it sing.

All in all it was a great evening. We got to catch up with our friends about our recent vacations (they spent 2 weeks in Florida). Now I’m jealous and want a job where I can work remotely. :)

I’ve also started challenging Ben to daily 5,000 step challenges. I know for many people 5K seems like nothing but it’s the amount that requires effort on my part and forces me to get some kind of activity in. Yesterday with our walk I almost hit 7,000 steps. Great start!

Ok, time to scoot to work. Here’s hoping it’s a great day!

Hat Party!

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I mentioned yesterday that we had gotten invited to a last-minute birthday hat party. All attendees were asked to wear a hat of some kind. We didn’t have much time to put together anything crazy or fancy so Ben selected his black fedora and I chose my wacky beach hat.

They had a great selection of homemade hummus along with chips, dip, veggies and a birthday cake. My hostess made me a chocolatini and it was STRONG but delicious. I sipped that for almost 2 hours, lol.

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Some of my favorite gal-pals all together sporting our fashionable wear:

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I noticed several things about this picture: we are hilarious and adorable, our hats are awesome, and I am really fat. How can you gain so much weight so quickly? Why is it so easy?! OMG.

I’m not sure how it happened but the boys separated from the gals and we had the upstairs all to ourselves for most of the night before waltzing downstairs to see what was up with the menfolk. As suspected, they were discussing riveting topics – like the Packers re-signing Randall Cobb.

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My sweetie and me

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Since the clocks were moving forward that night we didn’t stay too late (but it was still late for me). I hate being the first to go but I am not a night owl like a lot of our friends. How do people stay up so late!!??

Yesterday I hopped on the treadmill for the first time in a long, long time. I am really slow (shocking) but I walked through a 30 minute TV show and was happy with myself when I was done. No leg pain which was REALLY good. Since it’s supposed to almost hit SIXTY today (thank you Lord!) Ben and I are going to go for a walk tonight. I’m thinking I may even try and take a short walk during lunch today. We’ll see how busy the day is.

I hope those of you in the WI area are enjoying the warming up and for those of you with chilly temps still – that they warm up fast. The extended forecast says 63 on Friday.

Off to do cartwheels of happiness…

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