Living Debt Free Wrap-Up

Hi Friends!

I hope you have enjoyed my posts from the past few days — it is an overwhelming amount of information, but I hope you learned something!

I have wanted to write about this topic for months now, but I never knew how to fit it in with the rest of my blog. I usually write about my marathon training, or trying new recipes, or books I have read, etc. But I think part of healthy living is taking care of stress, and guess what — when we had tons of debt we were STRESSED OUT!

We can relax more, now that the credit card debt is gone. We aren’t debt-free now, but we have a plan and we are on our way — and that relieves most of my stress.

In case you missed one, or if you want to look back on them, here they are:

Monday: Steps to Financial Freedom

Tuesday: Budgeting and Paying off Debt

Wednesday: Getting your Debt Snowball Rolling

Other good resources to check out:

Dave Ramsey’s Website

Baby Steps to Financial Freedom

Cathy brought up a good point yesterday, which was about using CASH.

I totally forgot to mention cash when I explained the budgeting process. Jason and I use cash for  most purchases. We also use cash for our “fun money” — we take it out either at the beginning of the month or on payday — and that way, when the money is GONE it is GONE and that means no more spending. We use the same method for food: I take out the budgeted amount per week (let’s say we budget $400 for food/toiletries each month, so about $100 per week) — and that gives me 1-2 shopping trips and then we make due until the following week. Some weeks we have money leftover and we go out for dinner. Otherwise we only use our check card — that way it comes directly out of our account, but we have the convenience of plastic (used mostly for pumping gas!)


Back to somewhat regularly scheduled programming 🙂

I have been running and I’ve been feeling GREAT — Tuesday I had a short 3 mile run and I finished in about 28 minutes. I played with the speed on the treadmill and that made the time go by so quickly. I want to start switching up the incline, but I’m worried that my knee will start hurting again, so I’m going to continue to run on flat surfaces this week. Next week I should be able to run outside (hopefully!!!) or I’ll start upping the incline.

On Wednesday I ran 6 miles:

And after some foam-rolling and stretching I was good to go! I made some “Shamrock Shakes” after our run:


1 scoop vanilla protein powder
2/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
handful of spinach (for color and nutrients!)
1/4 tsp peppermint extract — I will use 1/8 tsp next time since this one was really minty!
1/4 tsp guar gum (to thicken it up – could omit)
5-6 ice cubes

We also got to babysit this beast all night:

He loved watching Top Chef with us!

*What are you doing for St. Patty’s Day? Today is actually the anniversary of our first date — 4 years ago! I’m still not sure what our plans are.



Strawberry Love Bread & Dairy Free Alfredo

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Check out the Valentine I received this morning from the DOUGHBOY himself!

How sweet, right? 🙂

Yesterday Jason had to work, so I was up way earlier than normal for a weekend day. I decided to use my time “wisely” and bake some treats. I had a ton of lovely strawberries in the fridge, so I decided to make a Strawberry Bread.

Looks delicious, right? And it turned out pretty well for a first attempt!

Strawberry-Cornmeal Bread

¾ cup flour

¾ cup cornmeal

3 TBSP sugar(see note* below!)

½ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp baking soda

1 egg

1 banana, mashed

1 cup soy milk (or any milk)

2 cups sliced strawberries

(I also intended to add some vanilla but I forgot!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, mix wet in another. Add wet to dry and stir until combined. Fold in sliced strawberries. Pour into greased bread pan (or you could try muffins instead) and bake for 40-45 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean!)

*This bread had great texture – however, I thought it lacked sweetness. I was hoping the banana and strawberries would be sweet enough, but if I make this again I will add more sugar. I also think using blueberries (in addition to the strawberries or alone) would taste wonderful, and would perhaps add the right amount of sweetness. Jason, on the other hand loved this bread — he didn’t think it lacked sweetness at all.

I’m bringing most of the loaf to work today, hopefully it is a hit with my coworkers!

After I was done baking, I went to visit Jason at work. His work is almost an hour drive away, so by the time I got there, it was time for lunch! We went to The Old Markey Deli which had a great lunch/sandwich menu.

I went with the bowl of chili:

Which was so filling and delicious. Jason had the turkey/swiss sandwich which had avocado, sprouts, roasted red peppers and a garlic mayo spread on top:

And the whole meal cost about $10! You can’t beat that.

After I got home I decided to plan out dinner and figure out what I’m going to make for Valentine’s Dinner (or if we should go out!). Since I wanted to use my new Nutritional Yeast, I went to Angela’s blog and found a recipe for Vegan Alfredo. I think I have mentioned before, I am not even close to being a Vegan, but I appreciate their recipes so much because not only are they usually very creative, they also don’t use dairy products!

Jason and I prefer to eat dairy free (digestive issues…enough said!) although we seem to be able to tolerate some dairy: butter and swiss, provolone, and mozzarella cheeses all seem to work well for us. Cheddar cheese? Problems. Ice cream? Cottage cheese? Yogurt? No way.

Back to the Alfredo!

Click here for Angela’s recipe. I omitted the tahini (didn’t have any!) but otherwise followed the recipe 100%!

This was rich, creamy and so delicious! The sauce contains raw cashews + other ingredients and I was worried that my Magic Bullet would not be able to grind the cashews – but it worked out well! The sauce tasted like Alfredo! Jason loved it as well and I will definitely make this again!

*What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?

*Are you an Alfredo or Mac and Cheese fan? Do you make it as a side dish or is it the main star? As I made this, I thought of my dad making us Mac and Cheese when we were kids. He would add chopped hot dogs and a can of peas/carrots/lima beans. YUCK!!!

Enjoy your day!


Training Plan & The Return of Pumpkin

Hi Friends 🙂
Yesterday was a rest day. A glorious rest day!

I filled out my training calendar – for Grandma’s Marathon in June– it is ready to go. Next week “officially” starts our 18 week plan. I’ll have 2 “short” runs (3-5 miles), 1 “medium long run” (5-10 miles) and 1 long run (starting at 8 and building to 20 miles) each week. In addition, Sunday will be my crosstraining day (yoga, biking, or elliptical) and on Tues and Thurs I will do strength training after my run. Nothing too vigorous, I want to get through the 18 weeks injury free. Monday and Friday are 100% rest days.

The plan I will follow is Hal Higdon’s Novice Marathon Plan. This is the same plan I followed last year. I don’t feel “ready” to move up to intermediate. Maybe next year 🙂
Jason ordered Run Less, Run Faster – which is a book I read about on N Her Shoes. I think that type of plan work well for him because of his work commute/schedule. If he reads it (and I read it!) quickly enough, maybe I’ll do it too. For now, I’m trusting Hal 🙂
After work yesterday I decided to make one of Averie’s Microwave Banana Oat Cake. It was so delicious on Saturday that I decided to make another one. But I tried switching it up with ¼ cup pumpkin and ½ banana (instead of 1 whole banana), lots of cinnamon and nutmeg.

IT WAS SO GOOD!!! I think I was on pumpkin overload in November but now I’m ready to slowly add some back into my meals.

No need for any peanut butter on top or anything. Please, check out Averie’s recipe and give it a try! It is so easy!
So delicious!
*How do you plan your workouts? Do you like to train for events or do you just choose a workout each day?
*Are you a pumpkin fan year round or only in the Halloween/Thanksgiving time of year?
I also wanted to say thank you to Christin at Purple Bird Blog – she told me the secret to replying to comments so they are emailed and they appear on the blog 🙂 Thank you Friend!

And thank you to anyone who checked my blog yesterday and saw it had been “deactivated” and then checked back later. I do appreciate anyone who takes the time to read my blog. I was so pissed yesterday morning — and I still haven’t gotten an explanation. I’m glad they realized their mistake and reactivated it somewhat quickly.
Enjoy your Tuesday!

The Magnificent BALT

Hi Friends!

***Note: a few of you asked me about Grandma’s Marathon — it is a regular 26.2  mile marathon, Grandma’s is a restaurant in Duluth, MN who is the major sponsor of the race. Click *here* for more information***

 Thanks for all the recipe ideas – I am definitely going to try some of them soon.

First up, a “new recipe” to me:

Gina’s Amazeballs (click for original recipe)

I made these for Jason, who has been working long long hours, so I thought he’d appreciate having some more snacks at work.

I used oats instead of coconut, but they held together really nicely!

I went to the gym tonight and ran 3.5 miles on a 2% incline. I caught up on some Real Housewives — and I read (I can’t remember where) that there is a Miami season coming out soon? Anyone else hear that?

I felt really good after my run but I was ready to eat! Enter The Magnificent BALT:

 Bacon. Avocado. Lettuce. Tomato. B. A. L. T.

I had it open faced with carrots roasted with cinnamon. This could be one of my absolute favorite meals. I could eat this every day!

Tonight I’m going to start going through my cookbooks:

I picked up a bunch of them from the library – I am excited about 5 Ingredient Fix and Veganomicon. I am not a Vegan, but I appreciate their recipes because they do not contain dairy (something Jason and I do our best to avoid) and their recipes are fairly “clean”. And although I love roasted veggies, sometimes you need a little variety in how to prepare veggies, dontcha think?

1. What is your favorite veggie? I definitely love sweet potatoes, but carrots come close behind – maybe because they are orange as well???

2. Any fun plans for the weekend? I am heading out to Mall of America to do some birthday shopping for our niece, and maybe (maybe) I’ll watch some of the Super Bowl on Sunday. Are you going to watch? Who are you cheering for?

Have a great weekend,


Homemade Kettle Corn & HSP

Hi Friends 🙂
As Katie pointed out yesterday, I do try to respond to your comments – I’m working on having a better system (responding through email instead of on the blog) – so bear with me and thanks for reading/commenting in the first place!

Kettle Corn.

I realize the picture above looks just like regular popcorn, but let me tell you, it tastes so differently! Who doesn’t love it, seriously? When Jason and I went to Twins games this summer we had the BEST Kettle Corn. It was definitely worth the $5 pricetag 🙂
Last week we were watching a bit of Rachael Ray on Food Network and she made her own kettle corn on the stovetop. This had never occurred to me! We don’t eat much popcorn, but if we do, it is the microwavable bag…
Kettlecorn Recipe and Instructions

Next time I make this, I will definitely ask Jason to take pictures — I felt like such a doofus shaking the pot while the kernals popped. But, if you let the kernals sit too long they burn, so you have to keep them moving. Some kernals did burn:

I took my small bowl of kettle corn to the couch to read a bit of this:

Averie and Kelsey have both highly recommended this book, and I can’t thank them enough for that! The book has a small “quiz” in the beginning to determine if you are most likely an HSP. I answered “yes” to too many of those questions. The author explains that having a sensitive nervous system has advantages (being aware of subtleties) and disadvantages (being easily overwhelmed after being in a highly stimulating environment and feeling exhausted). Just reading this paragraph about the author made me cry:

If I could only begin to describe the situations in which that was true in my own life! I remember feeling (and still do!) completely overwhelmed in social situations (school, work) and just wanting to hide. But at the same time, I wanted to be a part of things but my body/mind was literally too tired. I am only 2 chapters into the book, but hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll be writing more about HSP. I like that the author immediately explained differences/similarities between HSP, introversion, shyness, etc. I honestly think I fit into each of those categories, at least a little bit. I’m not looking to label myself, but I think any info I have to better understand myself (and for Jason to understand me) is good to have.
*What book are you currently reading?
*Are you popcorn/kettlecorn fan? How do you prepare it?

I’m Getting Ripped!

Hi Friends 🙂

Thanks for the nice words about my 100 posts – and my clean garage! I can’t tell you how nice it is to park in there. No more “warming up the car” while I get ready for work. My car is already warm and waiting for me!

Normally after a hard workout I have a small protein shake mixed with some frozen banana and almond milk – but last night I had a really really good shake:

Perfect Fall Smoothie

1 banana

Blob of pumpkin butter

½ scoop vanilla protein powder

½ cup almond milk

Blend in a blender (or Magic Bullet) with 4-5 ice cubes.

This was obviously taken from Angela’s Pumpkin Pie Monster, but the pumpkin butter has the pumpkin pie spices and sugar all mixed in. It was sweet and really delicious. The banana gave it great texture and even more sweetness.

So why did I need such a wonderful post workout shake? One word: Jari.

Jari Love’s Get Ripped 1000!

Don’t mind the small hippo next to the tv. I swear it isn’t mine!

I honestly don’t remember where I heard about Jari Love – and the title alone was too hilarious. I was so happy to see it was available on Netflix. This is a really good workout – lots of strength training with small bursts (one minute or less) or cardio like jumping jacks, jogging in place, etc. I like the they use heavier weights (10 lbs +) than most other workout dvds (2-3 lbs). Jari is straight out of the 80s (even though the disc says 2006…) and the music is awful, but the workout is good and you definitely feel the burn! The workout itself was around 45 minutes long. I think I’ll keep this dvd for a while 🙂

My other favorite workout dvds:

Check out my Exercise DVD review tab for more 🙂

*What’s your favorite post-workout fuel?

*Do you like workout DVDs? What is your favorite? I like strength training ones the best – but I also like the dancey ones – it takes me a while to learn, but they are pretty fun too. TurboFire is dancey at times, but it sure makes me sweat like crazy.

*Have you carved a pumpkin yet? Don’t forget to submit your picture to The Great Blogger Pumpkin Carvgin Contest

Enjoy your day!


Water Cravings & Blog Love

Happy Friday!

I am so ready for the weekend. Thursday night after dinner (6pm?) I crawled into bed for a little cat nap. That nap turned into almost 2 hours! And I definitely could have kept on sleeping. The weird part was when I woke up, I was super hungry. I ran downstairs, grabbed a bowl of grapes/strawberries  out of the fridge and had a handful of grapes and a few strawberries. Then I realized what I was really craving: water. My throat felt so dry and I just needed water. Do you ever get that way? I usually drink a ton of water throughout the day, so rarely do I ever feel “thirsty” – I didn’t even recognize it, I thought it was hunger at first!

That old “drink a glass of water if you are hungry” thing actually has some truth to it – I thought I was hungry but I was just thirsty. The fruit sure was refreshing though!

On Wednesday I got my Barney Butter from Lindsey and on Thursday I got my Kroeger Herb supplements from Averie!

And its just what I need: Healthy Gut 🙂 I love the heart shaped vitamin holder too – usually I just use an old empty vitamin bottle. This will work way better. In Averie’s honor I decided to make a dessert from her blog:

Raw Vegan Sugar Cookie Dough Balls. I mean, who doesn’t love cookie dough? These will be perfect to bring to work, I know my coworkers will love them! I blended them up in my Magic Bullet which actually really struggles with blending up dates – but I figured out the secret: put the mixture (still in the bullet cup) and microwave for 10-15 seconds. It warms the mixture enough that the Bullet can cut right through and not get so stuck. After, I put the cup in the fridge for 30 minutes and then rolled out the balls.

And my winning streak continued! I won 3 blog awards this week. I received 2 “Happy 101” Awards :)Thank you Julia and Rachel!

10 things I like (copy and paste this into your post and list 10 things YOU like!):
2.My Family
3.My Sleep Number Bed
4. Bagging groceries — yes, I truly enjoy this!
5.Baking cookies, bars, cakes, brownies, etc
7.Watching Real Housewives of NY, NJ, OC, ATL…
8.Working out
9. Reading books on psychology, personalities, relationships and Sookie 🙂

10 Other Bloggers who deserve this award!

  1. Love, Veggies, Yoga
  2. 40 Apples
  3. Healthy Hoggin
  4. Snacking Squirrel
  5. All Kinds of Hungry
  6. Oh Healthy Day
  7. Eat Move Write
  8. Living With Healthy Hunger
  9. Spabettie
  10. The Fitness Dish

Thanks again Julia and Rachel! 🙂

AND my other award was from the lovely Leashie Loo:

1. Answer this question: If you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, what would it be? If I could somehow make myself more confident I would. That is something that I struggle with to this day and if I could go back and somehow HAVE it, that would be awesome!   

2. Nominate another 6 people for this award and let them know they’ve got the award.

A Healthy Slice of Life

Chronicles of a Diet Book Junkie

Faith, Fitness, Fun

Gluten Free Muse

Running to Slow Things Down

The Kitchen of a Runner

 3. Thank the person who gave you the award. Thanks Leashie Loo for this lovely award. I will treasure it always 🙂

I’ve got homemade chili in the crockpot for Friday night. My Mom is coming over to watch a movie with me – anyone have any suggestions? I have a Netflix account and we were going to pick something from their Instant Play library.


1.What is your favorite new-to-you blog? What do you like about it?

 I named a bunch of blogs above that I enjoy reading, for different reasons. Some take lots of pics of food, show recipes, etc. Others focus on exercise, and some do a bit of both a bunch of other topics too. Those are the ones I enjoy the most!

2. Any fun plans for the weekend? Tonight my Mom is coming over for chili/movie night, and then Saturday Jason and I are shopping for a storm door. How exciting, right? And I am supposed to have a blogger meetup on Sunday, I hope that is still going on! Anyone else in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area who would like to join in? Email me!

3.Money Question: How do you handle your money? Checking account? Savings account? Do you use credit cards? Why? For the convenience or for the rewards? If you are married/have joint finances with someone do you combine your money or do you keep it separate? I have seen a few blog posts where married couples have 6 accounts total: they each have their own savings/checking and then they have join accounts as well. How did you decide how to do it?

 Jason and I have 1 checking account and 1 savings account. Everything we have goes into those accounts. I cannot imagine figuring out who pays for what, etc. We just put our money together and pay for stuff together. It is what works for us. Oh and NO credit cards. Cash or debit card only.

 Enjoy your Friday!


My Friend Craig

Hi Friends 🙂
Well, yesterday wasn’t as lazy as I had thought it would be!
Believe me, I spent plenty of time vegging out and watching Hoarders. Have you ever seen this show? It truly saddens me to see people and their homes in such a state. I find it fascinating and scary at the same time: I can never imagine getting anywhere close to that point. On a lighter note, it did somewhat push me to work some more in the garage 🙂
I started by sorting out what I want to keep (only a few things), what I want to sell and what I want to donate. Here’s the donate pile:
And here are all the things I listed on Craigslist:

I listed more things than these few pictures, but these were my favorites 🙂 I spent way too much time on Craigslist today — I think Craig is my new best friend! I’m only selling the “best” stuff and the rest will be donated. It feels good to be almost done with this project!
The rest of the day was spent running errands, cleaning up the house watching more HGTV and Food Network. I decided to enjoy my extra day off this week!
After dinner I decided to make a little dessert using this:
I mixed up ¼ cup POM juice with a frozen banana and made some POM-Banana Soft Serve. I topped it with fresh strawberries:
It was so cool and refreshing and the perfect way to end the day!
I wanted to stay up for Thintervention, but I got too sleepy. Did you catch it? Is it worth watching?

What is your favorite quick dessert to make? I usually like just a bowl of fresh fruit, but banana soft serve is quite good too.
What was the highlight of your weekend?
Have a good one,

Celebrating 101: Make Fruit Burritos

Hi Friends 🙂

Thank you everyone for your comments yesterday! Although I wish no one had to deal with lack of self-esteem or self-worth (or my Holly Monster as I referred to it yesterday) – it is somewhat comforting to know that I am not alone in those feelings.

What helps me is taking care of myself. When I am eating well, exercising consistently and getting plenty of rest each night I feel better about myself. My goal this week (and every week!) is to keep those three points in focus. When I take care of myself I feel better about myself. Sounds easy, and yet I have such a hard time doing all three at once. I know I am just too hard on myself and expect perfection.

Ok, enough of this sad blogging! Moving on…

I was reading Angela’s blog yesterday and saw her amazing creation: Easy Apple Pie Burritos. They looked delicious! I had to give them a try. Check ‘em out:

I followed the basic recipe, with the exception of using oat flour instead of spelt flour. I also made half of my pies with apples, and the rest with blueberries.

The crust was very crumbly, but it tasted great and it tasted just like sugary pie crust! Thanks Angela for yet another wonderful recipe!

The reason for making those little apple pie and blueberry pie burritos? This guy:

That is a picture of Jason on our wedding day! You can tell he was pretty excited about it! Yep, 3 years ago yesterday was the day that Jason proposed. I thought we deserved a little treat in order to celebrate. Here’s my favorite engagement pic:

Have a great weekend! What are you up to today?


Psst! Check out Averie’s CHIA SEED GIVEAWAY!!!  She’s giving away 2 lbs!

Blog Faves & TJ’s Trip

Hi Readers 🙂

I’d like to thank the following bloggers for introducing me to the following:

Allie: Dates + Nut butter

Heather: Protein Ice Cream

Megan: Pecan Pie Babies

Averie: Raw Vegan Rum Balls

They look a lot like the Pecan Pie Babies, but let me assure you they taste WAY different.

I saw these posted on Averie’s blog last week and I must say they looked absolutely delicious. J has a deep love for rum, so I knew I had to make them. If you know me you know that I am not a vegan and I do not eat many raw foods – but these are a must try. I only made a small batch (portion control!). My Magic Bullet did a pretty good job grinding up the raisins and dates, but there were still a few chunks in each ball. 🙂

Last night I finally got a good workout in. With last weekend being so busy and crazy, I really let my workouts fall to the wayside. I got in a great 20 min HIIT TurboFire workout, plus some FBB strength training. Strength is the way to go!

And I had time to get to TJ’s. The closest location is about 10 minutes away, but with road construction it takes over 20. It could be worse, but it still can be a hassle making time to get out there. Check out the goods:

Sweet taters, chicken sausage, organic baby spinach, peanut flour (!), raisins, dates, brown rice pasta, choc chips, raw trail mix, cashews

 Refried beans, lentil soup, marinara sauce, salsa, almond butter, butternut squash soup, whole wheat pitas, clif bars (for J)

All this for $50! Why do I even bother shopping anywhere else?

I wanted to stay awake for RHoNJ but I am just too tired! Sleep needs to be a bigger priority for me, I was just dragging all day long today…


1. What is your favorite treat/meal that you found on another blog? (if it is your own recipe, include a link!)

2. Do you have a Trader Joe’s near you? What are your favorite products?

3. Did you watch RHoNJ? Should I watch the rerun or skip it?

Have a great day!