I believe…

I believe in celebrating each and every holiday with decorations and special yummy treats.  


I believe in being honest about where I am in life including my failures.


I believe in snacking (healthy!) twice a day and a bit of dessert each night.


I believe in the power of “I’m sorry.”


I believe in listening to Christmas music straight from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day.


I believe in exercise as a form of mental health therapy.


I believe that two people can change and grow together all while remaining in love.


I believe in letting the dog kiss/lick all over the baby.


I believe in the importance of morning kisses for all husbands, babies, and dogs before leaving the house.


I believe in God.


I believe in chocolate being a daily part of my diet.


I believe in outside time every day.


I believe in the power of food to affect how we feel, look, and perform in life.


I believe that North Face jackets are the best buy ever!


I believe in thrift store shopping and mall avoidance.


I believe that black coffee and oatmeal is the breakfast of champions!


I believe in early morning runs.


I believe in  the power of Elnet hairspray, lipstick on occasion, and my knock-off Clarisonic-like brush by Olay.


I believe in family.


I believe in the importance of dating your spouse.


I believe that naps and I are not meant to be together.


I believe in the power of H’s smile to brighten just about anyone’s day.


I believe that sad dog faces are more painful than dental work.


I believe rainy days are a perfect invitation to dig out comfy clothes and snuggle up with your loves.


I believe in having an adult drink because I like the way it tastes, not to get drunk.


I believe in avoiding politics talk at dinner or any other food times (Can you say indigestion!?!?)


I believe in cool fall days and warm spring days.


I believe that a clean, organized house makes everyone feel better instantly.


I believe in love and limits with kids.


I believe…

What do you believe in?


Hi-ho, Hi-ho…It’s food shopping I go!

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I feel like I’m gathering up some food constantly!  I typically do one big haul every 2 weeks with a quick trip in between.  Before having the babe in tow, it was actually kind of fun. Now, it’s still fun while I’m in there picking up various goodies, but the loading and unloading the car with baby gear and foodie items is exhausting!  I know it’s all worth it when I have the stuff I need to make a home-cooked and usually delicious (though not always!) meals for the Mr. and I.  My list of stores consists of:  Sam’s, Wal-Mart (or Food Lion or Kroger depending on time and location), Trader Joe’s (organic produce for H), and sometimes Fresh Market (weirdy organic produce that I can’t find elsewhere).  In the summer, I might have included the farmer’s market.  With the school year in full swing, there is no way I’m adding another stop unfortunately.  Here’s my go-to list:



-mixed organic salad greens (Sam’s has a ton for a good price!)

-onions (red, yellow, white)

-sweet potatoes

-brown rice

-canned, diced tomatoes

-whole wheat pasta

-shredded cheese, sliced cheese (different varieties of course!), and a “fun” cheese (some fresh and delightful looking!)

-organic skim milk

-some type of not horribly bad for you cereal for the Mr.

-baby oatmeal and brown rice cereal

-chicken stock, big one


-Peanut Butter!!!! (or almond butter)

-raisins and prunes

-whatever organic produce I need for H’s baby food

-seltzer water

-huge jug of cranberry juice from Sams!

-chicken breasts


-pork chops

-some type of light fish (frozen flounder, tilapia, etc.)

-fresh herbs (usually cilantro~CHEAP!, basil, rosemary)

-eggs (I splurge and get the fancy ones.  You know, grain-fed, no hormones, basically the happy chickens!)

-Chobani plain greek yogurt

-frozen fruit to mix in my yogurt

-dijon mustard for flavoring

-pumpkin to use in all sorts of fall recipes (canned)

-bag of chocolate morsels

That’s certainly not it!  Just a few staples.  What do you get in your cart?  Do you do quick trips frequently or bulk buying?  Lucky me!  This week is just a quick trip.  I’m off with my little shopping buddy to load up.  Happy Friday!





Thoughts on Forgiveness and Encouragement

Forgiveness has got to be one of the hardest things to do, but it is the sweetest thing to receive.  So many of us hold onto anger, hurt, and resentment and won’t take that step to forgive others and/or ourselves.  Perhaps it is a hurt from a relationship or anger directed inwardly due to not being “good.”  I know that for me personally it took me quite a few years to even begin to understand the power of forgiveness.  You can change your whole day, life, and even your mindset.  Plus, it has the bonus effect of changing others.  Forgive yourself for eating a doughnut or two when you know you shouldn’t have.  Forgive your spouse/significant other for some wrong he or she did to you.  Forgive yourself for beating You up about not cooking dinner every night or not having all the laundry taken care of.  Without forgiveness, we are in a holding pattern.  We’re not really going backwards but also not really going forward.  We’re just marinating in our own hurt.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like when things marinate too long.  The flavor is overwhelming!  It’s time to move on.  I don’t want to be overwhelmed by my own hurt.  I want to move forward with the people I love and loving myself.  Forgiving others and myself.  So I’m going to do the silly thing that self-help books say to do…tell yourself “Good job!”  or “You look fab today!”  I tell students that all the time.  “Pat yourself on the back for trying your best.”  When I look in the mirror before bed tonight, I think I’ll go with “You’re doing alright, Natalie.”  Maybe I’ll even give myself a pat on the back.  


What do you do to encourage others or yourself?

Something to Keep You Fit, Something to Keep You Full

First things First!  I had good intentions of posting on Thursday evening.  However, our dog baby, Roscoe, decided to act in a crazy manner which led to an emergency vet visit which led to a crazy Thursday evening.  As it turns out, he was completely fine!  Apparently, he doesn’t like his dog food anymore and is sharing his feelings with (like by puking and refusing to eat).  He seriously had a bunch of tests, and he’s totally fine!  Not that I’m not happy about this but jeez!  150 buckaroos later we somehow make it through another work day to the weekend!  Hallelujah!  We celebrated appropriately with an hour and a half ped visit with Holdie and subjected him to a bunch of shots.  Fabulous, huh?



Cuddling up with Daddy Prior to the Main Event!

By the way, how about the fact that most of the well child waiting room was males with kids?  At one point, I was the only adult female in a group of about 6 parents.  Way to go dads for stepping up and letting the mamas get some work/fun done wherever they were!  Holden being the slightly over-loved (we’ll say that instead of spoiled!) had mama and daddy to make faces at and spit on.  We sure know how to celebrate on a Friday afternoon!


As stated, I wanted to share something to keep you fit.  I try to fit my cardio in when I can.  Case in point, squeezing in a run while Jake is home and Holdie is sleeping.  This can be tricky at times when I’m alone with Holdie.  I certainly can’t leave him with the fur baby.  Although Roscoe cares deeply about Holdie, he has no thumbs, so therefore he can’t be a good sitter (diapers and such would give him trouble!).


Morning Chill Time

I have to resort to other means to get my heart rate up.  I’m not much for jump ropes…too much coordination required.  We don’t own a treadmill or any other type of cardio equipment.  I do 2 minute intervals of plyometrics/cardio moves.  I do 2 minutes of butt kicks, 2 minutes of squat and punch (much like it sounds do a squat hold and punch alternately with fists), 2 minutes of pretend jump roping (lame I know, but so much easier for me to just pretend!), 2 minutes of high knees, 2 minutes of jumping jacks.  Then, I repeat sequence (without breaks) for a total of 20 minutes of cardio.  Presto!  Cardio done!  All while babe is sleeping or watching his mom act like a crazy woman!


Now, time to be full!  Thursday night we had chicken soft tacos, and this was a 2 ingredient main dish.  The night before I put frozen chicken breasts along with enough salsa to cover the chicken into the crock-pot.  I put the pot in the fridge overnight and slung that thing onto its stand Thursday morning.  Hit the low button, and I was out the door!  I came home to a delicious smell and dinner!  I fished the chicken breasts out of the salsa/chicken mix and shredded.  Then, we made our tacos (chicken, some of the salsa, plain Chobani greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and mixed lettuce greens).  It would also be super yummy to added chives or avocado slices.  I was just short on time (see vet visit drama above!) and made do.  I liked it.  The Mr. liked.  Best of all, the crock-pot did the cooking for us!  I would post pics, but the drama of the evening took over!  It was all gone by the time I though about it.  Crock-pot meals can be so good, and they are so easy!  I finished off the night with some delicious mint tea which I’m sadly out of right now.  Off to the store in the morning!  You can clearly see the back of the fridge and the food cabinets.  Very sad!


Yummy deliciousness!


Do you have any easy 1 dish meals or small number of ingredients that are healthy?  Share, share!

How do you fill your hours?

This summer I read a very though-provoking book called 168 Hours:  You Have More Time Than You Think.  It focused on how we Americans claim we are overworked and too busy to enjoy our lives.  Then, the author give you some overwhelming interesting research data.  It’s a little tricky to speed read through which is what I tried to do while Holdie napped.  I have to say that I found it very inspiring though.  It made me think about my talents and how I accomplish what needs to get done and what I just plain want to do in a day.  The case studies are inspiring, especially the first one in the book about a female construction company owner.  They hooked me from the beginning and kept me reading.  


Although the book is geared towards those thinking about making a career change (which I had never even considered prior to this book!), it has good info and ideas for any person hoping to live a full, engaged life.  Don’t expect tips or tricks.  The author really asks you to do the homework, figure out what makes you tick, and what you value.  She leaves the ball in your court and gently prods you to figure out what to do with it.  After reading it, I was inspired to start this blog and let go of some preconceived notions about what I “should be doing” or “should excel at.”  I think it’s actually one of those books that would be good to read once a year as a sort-of self-evaluation process to make sure your precious time on this planet are being used in a manner that you can look back on and feel satisfaction and contentment.  


An important lesson that I learned about myself after reading this book is that sometimes I forgot how important my job of mommy is.  I was letting expectations pushed on me by others and myself get in the way of just being present in the moment and giving Holdie my full attention.  Now, I’m not saying that I should have been at his beck and call every day, all day.  However, I realized that I would be stressing over getting my clothes folded, washing my car, cleaning, and everyone knows the time suck that can be facebook, twitter, pinterest….  Why wasn’t I stressing about getting to read a book with Holden or watching him interact with his toys and mirror?  What a wake-up call!  I’ve tried to mend my ways even though the clothes not being folded and the slight layer of dust on half our house (yeah, I was dusting and had to give up half-way through!) causes my eye to start twitching.  Now, I’m rushing home in the afternoon to blow kisses on feet, rock and rock in the chair, let Holdie bite on books read books, practice petting the doggie, and take walks together.  I’m filling my hours and my heart with time with sweet baby boy. 


How do you fill your hours?  Do you find yourself spending hours on things that don’t represent you or your passions?  How do you want to change?

6 hours away

This past weekend my sister and I planned a birthday day trip for my mommy to Williamsburg Winery.  I’m definitely not a wine-o (here’s the official definition for that term since I had to double check it!), but we thought it would be fun and very Real Housewives-ish of us.  The Mr. graciously agreed to watch the bambino and why not?  He’s the cutest, sweetest thing around!  🙂


Mr. in Charge

Our day trip included lunch at the tavern, a tour of the wine making facilities, and a tasting of 7 varieties.  Lunch was good.  I got a basic turkey sandwich with smoked gouda and a mixed green salad.  The extraordinary part of this lunch was the dressing, very mustardy.  It really hit the spot.  Included in our lunch was our sandwich, salad, a glass of wine of our choosing, and a fresh baked cookie (of course I went with the chocolate chip).  I picked a chardonnay for my lunch and enjoyed it.  



Quiet, peaceful


Grapes Galore!


The tour was very informative, and our guide had the sarcastic humor that only some people can appreciate.  Fortunately, my sister, mom, and I can and were giving him the laughs some of the others in our group were not.  


Fermentation in Progress


We finished off our time there with a few tastings and then headed off for some tea/coffee on our way home.  It was perfectly relaxing and exactly what I needed after a hectic week back at work.  All in all, I was only away from Holdie for six hours.  It felt so long!  By the time we were sipping our hot beverages, I was dying to get home!  It’s funny how much I felt chained to him and maybe even a little resentful when he was first born that I was the one he was really dependent on (compounded by my choice to breastfeed).  Now, I can’t bear to be away from him for too long.  The work day seems long, and I find myself finding ways to go faster, get more done in less time to get home to him.  I love him.  🙂

By the way, the Mr. did a fantastic job and even managed to vacuum the house while we were gone.  What a keeper, huh!??!!?

This or That?

Run/Work Out in the Freezing Cold or Heat and Humidity?

I definitely prefer to run/work out in the heat.  I know a lot of people complain about it being just too hot, but for me I just do better in the heat.  Today is a perfect example.  The temps dropped a bit.  Everyone’s enjoying the fallish weather, and I’m wheezing way more than normal on my run.  Something about the moisture in the air is just so much more relaxing for my airways.  I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma in high school  I had pills.  Decided not to take them purely for the fact that I dislike pills.  I try to think very consciously about my breathing when I work out and breathing out my nose only….blah blah blah.  It does the trick most the time.  

Washboard Abs or Flat Abs?

Washboard abs!  I love the definition.  Still a work in progress for sure.  I’m quite sure that ice cream did not just help…

Cardio or Strength?

Strength training.  For sure!  I love seeing muscles develop where they weren’t before.

Craving Sweet or Salty?

Usually sweet.  I have dessert almost every night.  It’s usually something small (ramekin of ice cream, greek yogurt with smidge of almond butter, rice cake with almond butter and chocolate morsels sprinkled on top -> deliciousness x10!).

Gym or Home?

I love a gym work out, but sometimes it just isn’t in the cards.  

Frozen Yogurt or Ice Cream?

I prefer frozen yogurt with lots of toppings.  I do get Haagen Dazs to have at home.  I like the richness and quality ingredients.  It’s a small container, but we’re only eating a tad right???

Dessert or Drink?

Some people prefer their treat to be a mixed drink, beer, or glass of wine.  Although I do drink on occasion, I do not see that as an everyday or even once a week treat.  I will definitely choose dessert every time!  

Yoga or Pilates?

Yoga!  I love the peacefulness of it.  My flexibility has definitely increased in the past year as I’ve tried to be more committed to doing just 15 minutes 2 to 3 times per week.

Running:  Treadmill or Outdoors?


Exercise Classes or Videos?

Videos!  I need quick and easy.  I’m not much of a class girl.  I’m always in a hurry (or so it seems) especially keeping up with Holdie.

Steamed or Roasted Veggies?

Love roasted veggies!  I’m really looking forward to roasting up some fall/winter veggies soon.  We just did broccoli the past couple nights.

Peanut or Almond Butter?

I love both, but I did start to eat more almond butter while pregnant.  It’s better for you and (I read this somewhere no idea where!) better to eat if you’re pregnant especially.  

Morning or Afternoon Work Outs?

Morning ones are best, but I rarely can do those during the week.  I got in a morning run this past Saturday, and it was awesome!  I think the empty stomach is key for me.

Solo or Group Work Outs?

Solo!  I’m moving so fast in the gym to get home to Holdie.  Classes require too much time for me right now.

Weight Machines or Free Weights?

Mostly weight machines.  I feel like I can accomplish what I need to do faster with these (considering the set up of my gym).  However, I do use free weights at home and enjoy the flexibility to create your own work-out.


Working it out at home…

Protein Shakes or Food with Protein in It?

Food!  I’m definitely not a shake girl.  I like to chew my food!  🙂


Stir Fry Veggies topped with a Fried Egg