Sunday, August 31, 2014

The 13.1 Mile Journey to Finding Myself

A couple of weeks ago I posted on my Facebook page that I signed up to run a half-marathon in November, and you were all so encouraging and proud of me for it. I loved the feeling of being this brave and motivated person, but the truth is, there isn't anything to be proud of yet. I haven't run since I signed up for the half-marathon or made any changes that might get me closer to crossing the finish line. I did waste another two weeks telling myself that this would be the week that I started running again. My running story is a complicated one.

Running is what I do, or at least what I used to do. Right before I went to college, my dad and I decided that we wanted to run a half-marathon together. So we did. We both trained our butts (mine literally) off and ran our hearts out in that first race in Athens, Ohio. And my dad bought me a heart-shaped necklace to remind me that when we put our heart into something, incredible things can happen.

After that first race, my dad and I decided to make a goal to run one half-marathon in every state. Our goal started off slow with one or two a year for the first few years. Each race was a little different but each had something in common - it gave me a chance to see my dad and create new memories with him.

And then I got married.

And the half-marathons stopped. I made up excuses to not run, gained weight, and lost my confidence. After a three year break, my dad convinced me that it was time to run another race, and I trained harder than I ever have before. You can read more about it in this post, but I finally found myself again during my training. We also added my sister to the half-marathon mix, and I started building an incredible relationship with her. Over the next few years, we flew around the country spending race weekends together every couple of months. From Hawaii to the middle of nowhere Iowa, we ran. My sister and I searched for the best shirts at each of the race expos, we joked about who had the best running playlist, and we ran with my dad toward the finish line together. And we even made the crazy decision to run the Marine Corp Marathon. Beating the bridge is on my top 10 list of most incredible moments of my life.

And then I got pregnant.

And again the half-marathons stopped, or at least my running of them stopped. My dad is still running; he's just doing it without me. This time my dad is too polite  to give me the kick in the pants that I need to start running again so I'm going to have to do it myself. This anonymous quote (modified slightly) that I found while searching for training plans hit me hard. I've been avoiding running because I'm afraid that I can't do it. But if I don't start, I never will do it. And once I do it, I can spend the rest of my life knowing that I did.

So here goes nothing. For the next 12 weeks, I will be posting each Sunday about my training plan for the week as well as a recap of my running from the week before. And because honestly, running sucks sometimes, okay a lot of the time, I'm going to be completely honest about my experience. If I don't run that week, you're going to know about it. I'm hoping that having to write about it here will motivate me to actually run because it'll be embarrassing to write 12 posts that say I couldn't run this week because [insert lame excuse here].

This blog will by no means become a fitness blog but just a small glimpse into my journey from couch potato to a confident runner going into that race on November 16th. My running journey isn't over, it's just at a fork in the road; this time I'm taking the right turn and here's the direction I'm headed.

This Week's Training Plan
Monday - Run 2 Miles
Tuesday - Run 2 Miles
Wednesday - Rest
Thursday - Run 2 Miles
Friday - Cross train for 30 minutes
Saturday - Run 2 Miles
Total Workouts: 5
Total Miles: 8

I hope you'll support me on this 12 week journey and when I say support, I mean if I don't post on Sunday you ask me where my recap is. And if I skip a run without a REALLY good reason, let me have it. And I would love to support you in your goals as well. Come by each week and tell me what your goals are so I can follow along with your progress and encourage you too, kind of like our own little virtual support team.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Free Toddler Activities with Kleenex® Boxes

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Huggies and Kleenex. All opinions are 100% mine.

One of the things that I've learned as a mom of a toddler is that toddlers don't care about toys. Everything is a toy to a toddler. Even the things that I buy on a regular basis that I would never consider a toy, like Kleenex Ultra Soft tissue boxes, become a toy in K's eyes. So I've learned to embrace that toddler quality and use everything I already have to come up with free toddler game and activity ideas.

Love these fun toddler activity ideas, definitely saving my Kleenex boxes from now on! #ad

I've experienced the box phenomenon more than once with K; we bring home a big box and all he wants to do is play inside. I never realized that small boxes are just as good as big ones! K taught me that lesson as soon as I unloaded my shopping trip from Sam's Club, and he started using the box of Kleenex® Ultra Soft tissues as a golf ball to practice swinging his new clubs. After being hit one too many times in our small townhouse, I took K and the tissue boxes outside to let the golf practice continue. And then K surprised me. He picked up one of the boxes and stacked it on the other. And then he stacked another box. And another. I went into the house and grabbed the rest of the Kleenex® Ultra Soft boxes from the awesome 12 box cube (their biggest bundle) I bought at Sam's Club, and he spent the next hour making tissue box towers that were taller than he is.

I thought about turning the boxes into actual blocks with numbers and letters on the side, but he probably wouldn't like them anymore because then they would look like toys. So Kleenex® Ultra Soft tissue boxes they'll stay.

I keep Kleenex® Ultra Soft tissues in our house, in our car, and in my purse on a regular basis, and more than once they've been a lifesaver for that random bloody nose or when I get stuck sitting next to the cat lady on the airplane and my allergies act up. I love the Kleenex® Ultra Soft tissues because I can blow my nose about a million times without rubbing my nose raw; that's what I call extra TLC. And recently I've started using them as napkins for K when he's eating snacks. He for some reason thinks that he has to shake a plastic baggie or tupperware container so that his snacks end up all over place. He doesn't do that with the tissues,  and I feel good knowing that his favorite little chair is being protected from the chocolate I rewarded him with for staying still while I took pictures. It's harder than it looks!

There are so many other things that you can do with the tissue boxes once you've used the tissues inside. One of our favorites is human box bowling. Stack up the boxes in front of a slide and take turns sliding into the boxes knocking them down.

Beware though, this one is addicting. And exhausting.

That's just a couple of the fun ways you can use tissue boxes, so next time you are at Sam's Club pick up a 12 pack cube of Kleenex® Ultra Soft tissues, enjoy that ultra soft feeling on your nose, and save those boxes to use for one of these five fun activity ideas.

  1. Build towers out of the boxes and knock them down.
  2. Go human box bowling (described above). 
  3. Put different objects inside each of the boxes that make fun sounds when you shake them (e.g., coins, bells, rice), tape them up, and let your kids shake away. If they're old enough, have them try to guess which box has which item. 
  4. Create ABC blocks. Cover the boxes with wrapping paper or construction paper and draw or paint on all of the letters in the alphabet to give your child a set of large letter blocks.
  5. Turn a couple of the boxes over, give your toddler some wooden spoons, and let them drum away. Bonus points if you turn on Pour Some Sugar on Me while they're drumming. That was always my favorite song to drum to when I was little. 
And to make it ever easier, you can order your cube of 12 Kleenex® Ultra Soft tissue boxes from Sam's Club with their free online order pickup option! Convenience, great prices, and built-in games. I'm sold. 
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MacBook Pro Laptop Giveaway

Next Monday the kids in my area finally go back to school. And I'm throwing myself a party because that means there won't be nearly as many tourists in the museums or kids at the parks. Things are finally going to quiet down after a crazy summer. To celebrate, I've teamed up with a bunch of other bloggers to give you something that I personally love and have myself, a new MacBook Pro. They're seriously the best. 


 Pretty My Party has teamed up with and an amazing group of blogs and businesses to bring you the Apple MacBook Pro Laptop Giveaway! Thank you to our sponsors for making this giveaway possible. You can see the entire list of sponsors on the Rafflecopter form below. Cloudy With A Chance of Wine, Giveaway Monkey, Painting Paris Pink, Freebie Finding Mom, Gimmie Freebies, Morsels Party Planning, Lemonberry Moon, Play Party Pin, The Latina Homemaker, She Saved, Catch My Party, B.Lovely Events, Food Folks and Fun, See Mom Click

Apple MacBook Pro Laptop Giveaway

August 28, 2014 at 12 a.m. EST to September 5, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. EST Open Worldwide Prize: 1 winner will receive an Apple MacBook Pro laptop worth over $1,000! 


The more entries you complete on the Rafflecopter form, the higher your chances are of winning. If you don’t have time to fill out all of the entries you may come back and complete any entries that you may have missed. Good luck! 

Eligibility and Rules: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE DOES NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. This giveaway is open to individuals 18 and older. The winner will be chosen randomly through the Rafflecopter form. It is the sole responsibility of the winner to adhere to all laws, which includes payments to any governing tax body.

Winner Selection: The winner of the giveaway will be selected in a random drawing through Rafflecopter from among all eligible entries received throughout the promotion period. The random drawing will be conducted within 48 hours of the closing of the giveaway by Pretty My Party or its designated representatives, whose decisions are final. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. Winner will be notified by email at Potential winner must accept the prizes by email as directed by Pretty My Party within 48 hours of notification. Any winner notification not responded to or returned as undeliverable may result in prize forfeiture. The potential prize winner may be required to sign and return an affidavit of eligibility and release of liability, and a Publicity Release (collectively “the Prize Claim Documents”).

Rafflecopter Disclaimer: This promotion is powered by Rafflecopter. Metric Feat, LLC (“Rafflecopter”) does not sponsor, administer or endorse this promotion. By entering this giveaway, participants agree to Rafflecopter’s Privacy Policy.

Social Media Disclaimer: Entrants should understand that they are providing their information to the sponsors of the giveaway and not to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram or Google+. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with any of these social media sites.

Disclaimer: This giveaway is blog sponsored and is in no way associated with Apple or any of its products. If there are any questions, please email

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Weekend re-Treat Link Party #82

The Weekend re-Treat Link Party #82 | 

Happy Thursday and Weekend re-Treat Link Party Day! We're finally home from vacation and getting back into a good routine. This past week has been busy around the blog, and I hope you go check out one of my favorite parties ever (and a perfect girl's night in) and what else I've been up to.


Shannon's Favorites

shannon's favorites

Britni's Favorites

britni's favorites

Shauna's Favorites

Shauna's favorites

Brittany's Favorites

brittany's favorites

Most Clicked Links

most clicked

Featured Blogger

Each week we are featuring a new blogger to help introduce you to the different bloggers that link up with us! We choose bloggers that we personally love and think you will too so make sure to stop by, check them out, and say hi while you’re there!

This week our featured blogger is Albion Gould. We were so impressed with her creativity with making a felt fascinator that we had to choose her to feature! Albion is the mom of four and pretty much all around awesome. She cooks, creates, and shares her experiences updating their home. She's definitely someone you want to follow and get to know. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, or Google+

Party Time!

Now on to the party! Remember the only rule is to make sure your links are family friendly and we highly encourage you to click on a couple of links to check out all of the awesome ideas people share. I'll be sharing my favorites on my social media pages all weekend long so make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter,  Instagram, and Pinterest to see all the great ideas other people have posted.

TBBR small

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Quick and Easy Feijoada Recipe

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf Success® Rice.Tracking Pixel This recipe is 100% 

With fall right around the corner, this recipe for quick and easy Brazilian feijoada with Success® Basmati Rice is the perfect comfort food for a cool evening.

Bacon, sausage, black beans, and rice make this Brazilian feijoada the perfect comfort food, recipe from

When we first moved to Northern Virginia, we were asked to lead the young married couples group for our church.  Leading basically meant putting together monthly activities and figuring out ways to help the younger couples in our area get to know one another. One of the first things we did was to set up monthly dinner groups with the couples, giving them the opportunity to have dinner with other couples once a month. We did that for about two years before we moved out of the area and had to give up our beloved dinner groups. In that two years, I remember a lot of the friends that we made but only two of the meals that we ate. One of them was this delicious black bean and sausage stew that some of our friends from Brazil made called feijoada. A couple of days after we had dinner with them, my husband decided we needed to have it again and came up with his own recipe for a quick version of feijoada that uses bacon, sausage, black beans, and rice.

It's seriously the perfect comfort food and pretty much delicious. And it's so easy. It really is just a matter of cutting up the meat, cooking the rice, and mixing all of the ingredients together. And best of all, it tastes just as good, if not better, the next day. So make a lot and eat leftovers for days.

First, cook your rice. I use Success® Basmati Rice because I like my meals to be as simple as possible and Success® Basmati Rice is just that - simple. It's pre-portioned, and its BPA-free boil-in bag means there's no mess for me to clean up. And it's done in just 10 minutes, which is about as much free time as I ever have these days.

All you have to do to cook it is pop the boil-in bag of rice in a microwave-safe bowl, cover it with water, microwave, and drain. And voila, perfect fluffy rice without having to worry about it being burnt or mushy.

Success® Basmati Rice is such a perfect thing to have in your pantry at all times because it is so quick. Since I know you can't eat this feijoada every night, here are some other great recipe ideas inspired by the Success® Basmati Rice.

Next, cook your meats. Then basically you just add in all of the other ingredients and let it cook long enough to let all of the delicious flavors combine. Top your rice with the feijoada and enjoy your little Brazilian feast.

Bacon, sausage, black beans, and rice make this Brazilian feijoada the perfect comfort food, recipe from

Bacon, sausage, black beans, and rice make this Brazilian feijoada the perfect comfort food, recipe from

Bacon, sausage, black beans, and rice make this Brazilian feijoada the perfect comfort food, recipe from

Success® Rice makes four great varieties - brown rice, white rice, jasmine rice, and basmati rice. Learn more about all of the different products available then tell me...

Which one would you most like to try? 

Quick Feijoada Recipe 

(Print this recipe)

  • 1 cup Success® Basmati Rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 strips of bacon, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound smoked pork or beef sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 15 oz unsalted black beans, do not drain
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons garlic poder
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt to taste 
  1. Prepare the rice as instructed on the package.
  2. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat.
  3. Add the bacon and sausage and sauté until brown and crispy, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the can of black beans and cook for 1 more minute.
  5. Add the chicken broth, garlic powder, bay leaves, oregano, and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. 
  6. Simmer for 15 minutes or until desired thickness. 
  7. Serve hot over rice. 
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf Success® Rice.
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