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Hosting Thanksgiving (I’m still here!)

So that was quite a hiatus…I’ll admit that blogging is not a priority among the senior year scramble. Honestly I haven’t even read some of my favorite blogs in months! (PBFingers and Simply Taralynn withdrawals.)

The semester wraps up in about a week and that little light at the end of the tunnel has me fired up to get back to HOBBIES like reading that stack of books I bought over the summer, trying some of the recipes I pinned, and maybe even updating this little site here and there :) I’m honestly surprised to see that so many of you stuck around during my drought of posting. I missed you!

Back to normal, I’ll recap my *healthified* Thanksgiving. We deviated from tradition this year….my parents came to ME. For my first three years of college, I took the overnight train home for Thanksgiving two weeks before finals. It was always a little hectic and rushed. My new apartment this year is comfortable enough to have guests over (I feel so grown up!) so I invited my parents and Missy to spend the holiday weekend with me.

Before they arrived, I tried to make the apartment as festive as possible. I have an addiction to candles, so I started saving the empty glasses to refill with tea lights and festive fillers. Yay for recycling!

Thanksgiving 2014 decoration collage

I was CONVINCED that I would cook the entire Thanksgiving meal all by myself…….until I realized (or someone pointed out to me) that in order to cook a turkey, one must use their hands to remove the giblets and guts from the inside.

Well that’s not happening.

Next option?

A pre-cooked ham ;) glad we can be flexible! Our meal was rounded out with my lightened-up sweet potato casserole (no marshmallows allowed), roasted broccoli and brussels, and a corn bread stuffing that my parents brought.

Thanksgiving 2014 Dinner

Thanksgiving 2014 TableI’ll admit it isn’t as impressive-looking as last year’s Thanksgiving, but for a first attempt I’d say not bad :) Most important part was spending the day with my family! Aside from a malfunctioning can-opener, we avoided any major catastrophes. What more can you ask for.

I have to say, I was most proud of my bartending skills. I’ve discovered the simple perfection that is sangria this year. An apple cranberry sangria was a perfect afternoon cocktail for my mom and I, but I knew my dad wouldn’t be so appreciative of fruity wine to go with his football game. My mason jars were perfect for the “Fire Jolly Rancher” – sparkling apple cider with Fireball whiskey, over ice sprinkled with brown sugar. It’s a sipper!

Thanksgiving 2014 Cocktails

The night was rounded out by homemade praline pumpkin pie (and coffee, duh) with a good ole’ family movie night.

Obviously we couldn’t be sedentary too long after THAT meal so we took to the trails the next day for a hike in the gorgeous fall weather. I love that my family is as happy going on outdoor explorations as I am. Black Friday has nothing on these views:

Thanksgiving 2014 Sedona

Thanksgiving 2014 Devils Bridge

Hosting Thanksgiving was so much fun, I felt like I was playing “housewife” ;) Until reality kicked in that I have three final presentations, two research papers, and a couple finals exams in these last 7 days of school. But I missed this little online scrapbook. I’ve had so many workouts, recipes, adventures and stories that I’ve “wanted to post” and didn’t have the time. Hopefully I can play catch up over the coming winter break!

So I can’t promise that I’m back with the usual posts, but I can promise that I’m not done forever (though I thought I was for a bit.) And you know I have no shortage of cute Missy pictures: Thanksgiving 2014 MissyAs if there are any that aren’t cute… ;)

Better than a restaurant…

We made it to Friday again! *coffee cup clink* It’s also Food Truck Friday (the office will have 4 food trucks come for lunch) and Frizzy Hair Friday (I wore my natural “curls” to work today. No, you do not get a selfie of that hot mess going on.)

The weekend is hours away. My “grown-up” plans? Shopping for the new apartment! Assuming everything goes smoothly, I sign a lease to my apartment for senior year with two of my best girl friends this weekend. Since I’ve been doing the on-campus housing thing for three years, it’s time to invest in some furniture like mattress, dresser, desk….you know, the essentials.

I can’t wait to get to the non-essentials and have taken to Pinterest to plan my new digs:

In the middle of our shopping we will no doubt stop for lunch. But you know what’s better than a restaurant in my personal (though very reliable) opinion? A picnic. Seriously. Packing your own snacks is a healthier route and opens up so many options. Last weekend I picnicked with my mom’s best friend from high school and her daughters. We usually meet up for dinner at Panera or Olive Garden so the outdoor, sit-on-the-ground, pack-a-cooler play date was fun. We had the little league baseball games going on in the background which made it extra cute J

Picnic 622

 Summer produce makes it so dang eeeeasy to fill a cooler with all sorts of juicy colors.

Cherries, Grapes, Strawberries. We topped a bed of mixed greens with strawberry slices, almond slivers, chicken, cucumber, bell peppers. *If you pack a salad on a picnic, bring the bottle of dressing itself. Avoid a soggy salad that’s been sitting in dressing too long.


Plus something crunchy, so we opted for Quaker POP chips.

Other crunchy sides:

  •  Handful of almonds, pistachios or other unsalted nuts
  • Whole Wheat Pretzels
  • Whole Grain Crackers

This is similar to the lunch cooler we bring to work everyday.

Restaurants are great for socializing but I’d rather be outside (assuming the weather isn’t in the triple digits, which are coming next week!)

On an unrelated note…

Anybody else watching the new season of Big Brother? YIKES. I watch the ridiculous reality show every summer and usually love it. There are always a few likable players to root for (Um Jordan and Jeff?!) but this season…..oh my. I’m embarrassed for the contestants. They’re too obnoxious to handle, I don’t know if I’ll make it through the whole season. (I say that now, but ask me what I think in a month. It hooks me every time.)

Guilty pleasure I guess!

Running on Coffee – Fasted Cardio

When I say “running on coffee” I mean it in the most LITERAL sense.

Within 30 minutes of waking, I drink half a cup of coffee and hop on the treadmill for an early morning run.

Because there is a name for everything in the fitness world, this is called “Fasted Cardio.” A few times a week, I run 5 miles (with the incline set to .5%) before driving home, taking a shower, and eating my first snack of the day.

Fasted Cardio - Do pre-breakfast cardio sessions burn more fat? On the blog!
“Fasted cardio” is exactly what it’s name implies…completing a workout before eating anything after waking up in the morning. Many fitness freaks report that this strategy increases fat burn because there are no immediate glycogen stores to pull energy from.

*Note: calorie burn remains the same; where the calories are sourced from is the idea in question.
Personally, “fat burn” isn’t my mission when I tackle a treadmill sesh before breakfast. I’m just not ready to ingest anything at dark:thirty in the morning. I mean I like my oatmeal, but not at 4:30am.

Fasted Cardio - Do pre-breakfast cardio sessions burn more fat? Blog Post -->
The truth behind the myth of increased fat burn with fasted cardio is still highly debatable. Many sources support the ability to tap into fat stores quicker. Others say it makes no difference in the big picture. Web search “Fasted Cardio” and the first result argues for the miraculous effect while the second result claims it has no positive enhancements.

Pro & Con list time….


  • No waiting additional time for food to digest
  • No stomach sensitivities that could affect your workout
  • Avoid feeling heavy


  • Sessions longer than an hour could have compromised performace due to lack of quick energy
  • Rumbly stomach = annoying
  • Ravenous appetite after workout could cancel out any extra fat burn

I can’t say which is better, to eat or not to eat before morning cardio sessions. Fasting for 45 minute runs works for me! I wouldn’t dare attempt a long run with a small snack though. Which works for you?