Friday, February 3, 2012

2 Months Later...

Wow. Has it really been two months? Yes it has & I am bummed about it. The plus side? I have a BIG house update picture tour. The pictures aren't great, my house is a slight disaster & I plan on going back through each room.

Here. We. Go.

Laundry Room:


TV Room: 

Sitting Room:

Dinning Room:


Main Bedroom: 

 Guest Bedroom:

Progress has been made but there is still a huge checklist. A few boxes still remain, I am still putting off painting, and I really want to decorate. Baby steps. It is amazing how far we have come.

I will be back with individual rooms!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

6 Months!

I was so excited for this post as of last week. I filled out all of my paperwork. Went to the drug store to take my (horrible) picture. Found my birth certificate. Made an appointment. Went to my appointment. Stood in line and BAM I filled in one box incorrectly. This one box meant that I had to go back online and re fill out all of the information. Make a new appointment. Go back to the post office. Wait in line. Not have it checked off of my list again... 

Oh well. It happens and I plan on going Monday. Not the end of the world. (ah...!) 

Let's look at the rest of my list: 

  • Complete the order of the invitations - Done except I have to send them the names and mailing addresses because they will address them. This is on my Monday todo list as well. 
  • Work on a few DIY projects- This is on going. I did get a few items crossed off. 
  • Passport... See above :( 
  • Create a list of what still needs to be done- The list seems to be larger than what I would have imagined. 
  • Update my spreadsheet- I have asked Momma Green Bean to help with this. 
  • Engagement pictures- We are going today! A friend of mine is taking them more as a practice engagement and Christmas card shoot. The Groupon we bought this summer has not been successful. I kept trying to contact the company and it would take them weeks to return my emails. I will try again after the first of the year. 
This month we are taking a trip up to North Carolina and will be able to accomplish a lot off of the overall wedding todo list.  
  • Vist the venue. Take more pictures. Check out their rentals. Logistics. 
  • Meet with the rental company. Figure out what we need to rent.
  • Visit the tea room for the ladies lunch following the rehearsal. 
  • Visit the rehearsal dinner restaurant and figure out menu. 
I am looking forward to this trip to fill in the gaps of unknowns. There are items I know I want to have that I am hoping we can rent instead of hauling up there. Also this will help determine what type of tables, linens,  dinnerware, ect. that I now get to decide. 

At countdown month 5 it will be time to hanker down and focus solely on the wedding and wedding festivities. I am really excited. 

I am slightly nervous for our photo shoot today. I know I am not comfortable in front of the camera and I can't imagine Geoff is looking forward to this.... I keep telling myself that this is practice and if we get a few good pictures I will be happy. 

Wish us luck! 

I will be back with a kitchen update this week! 

.live creatively well.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Curry Spiced Sweet Potatoes and Onions

How is it December yet? I am so excited that it is here but wow. What. A. Year.

I have been on a sweet potato kick recently. My cheat food for the past few years has been sweet potato fries. I LOVE the little salty, sweet, fried in oil guys. I fairly order them for a few obvious and not so obvious reasons: lots of salt and oil but have you thought about the oil they are fried in? The same oil that fries chicken fingers, fish sticks, and who knows what else... maybe a twinkie or two. Also there is a good chance that oil has been around for a while....

Anyways back to be positive. I make various versions of sweet potato fries at home. This past week it was cold (for Florida) and was craving curry powder to warm me up because I refuse to turn the heat on. Sorry Geoff, grab your snuggie (or build me a fire place! ah. yes I went there).

I will admit these roasted sweet potatoes may not look like anything special but they are good. Trust me. Better than 6 month old fish fry oil seasoned SP fries.

Curry Spiced Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Onions

2 large sweet potatoes, chopped into inch pieces
2 small yellow onions or half of a large one, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
EVVO spray
Salt if desired

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Spray baking pan with olive oil. Spread sweet potatoes and onions across the pan and spray with additional olive oil. Sprinkle the curry powder over the vegetables and season with salt if desired.

Roast until brown making sure to stir every ten minutes to prevent burning or sticking.

This is simple and can be made with whatever desired seasonings you prefer. After all of this sweet potato talk I plan on making sweet potato fries tomorrow night. I am thinking maple syrup and cinnamon.

So 6petals house crashed my casa right before Thanksgiving and just posted this cute post yesterday: peek-inside-at-ms-pink-strings-home  Love her and love her shop/blog.

.live creatively well.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Thanksgiving has passed and the only thing standing between me and 100% Christmas is this post :)

This was our first year hosting Thanksgiving & we hope to host many more in the future. We were lucky to be joined my by parents, Geoff's parents, and my cousin.

My parents drove down from North Carolina and were able to visit friends on the way down to break up the drive. It was a treat to have them come down and I think they enjoyed the Florida sunshine :)

The men were on turkey duty outside and my mom and I prepped and cooked in our kitchen. Yes I said kitchen. I can't wait to share the progress with you soon.

Up first was a quinoa & red rice stuffing. It contained regular quinoa, red quinoa, red rice, onion, celery, veggie broth, dried cranberries and spices. We cooked the grains separately while we sauteed the vegetables and seasoning in another pot. We combined the two, added veggie broth and cranberries, and rewarmed in the oven. Simple.

Up next was Dr Furhmans Nutty Green Bean Casserole. I signed up to do Dr Fuhrman's 6 Week Holiday Challenge and while partaking in this challenge they send you daily recipes. This was one that I made a few adjustments to. The recipe called for the use of almonds but I switched it up and used cashews. If you sign up for the challenge you can see the recipe. I don't think I have ever had the green bean casserole from the can before but I can imagine this tasted a million times better. 

But back to the challenge. The holidays are a tough time for everyone to stay on track, even for us "vegan, exercising types" and I knew I needed more motivation than having to fit in my jeans. The challenge is simple and provides you with a list of what you need to do: 
  • Eat a large salad daily As much as I love salad, I tend to let lettuce go bad in the fridge.
  • Enjoy a generous serving of steamed greens with mushrooms and onions daily I am making sure that this is included in my meal planning.
  • Satisfy my sweet tooth with 3 fruits a day This is easy in the summer when its hot out but not as easy in the winter.
  • Have at least one fulfilling serving of beans a day Thank goodness I love hummus & bean soups.
  • Avoid white flour Being gluten sensitive, I do not eat white flour but I am including the substitutes as well.
  • Avoid sugars and artificial sweeteners I gave up sugar cold turkey years ago as well as artificial sweeteners but my weakness is agave, maple syrup, and brown rice syrup. 
  • Use oils sparingly This has been huge for me for the past few months. I love me some EVOO & coconut oil. I have reduce my oil consumption by about 90%. This has been accomplished by sauteing in veggie broth, buying EVOO in a spray bottle, and subbing in avocado or nuts. I am actually 100% our of EVVO right now (but I do have a container of coconut oil, shhhh....)
  • I will not allow peer pressure or tempting foods to derail me from my health goals I love my family & friends and we do love our wine...
  • I will not compromise my health to please others.
  • I will set an example of health-mindedness for those around me.  
Even if I do not get a 100% daily, it is enough to steer me in the right direction.

It is not Thanksgiving in my world without some sort of Brussels sprouts. I adore them. Years past I have made a mustard dressing and tossed them with thinly sliced sauteed Brussels. This year I took a recipe that Momma Pink String made a few months ago. Sans recipe I knew I wanted to make it again. All that was used was halved Brussels sprouts, chopped granny smith apples, a few splashes of apple cider vinegar, EVOO, and S&P. I then roasted on a baking sheet until browned.

I will admit that I do not like cooked carrots. Its a texture thing. I will eat raw carrots until I turn orange but cooked carrots do not excite me. These carrots were roasted with tangerine juice, EVOO, and S&P and finished with a squeeze of honey.

Geoff fried a turkey and smoked a turkey and Momma Pink String made gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing & pies.

Bill was the official turkey carver and then it was time to eat.

Did I mention that while all of this was going on, my dad brought wine for us to sample for our wedding. This may be the reason I was sound asleep by 7:30pm.

My mom took this picture so we don't have a complete group shot but that is my cousin sitting next to me. To be 21 and still in college...

I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving spent with family & friends! I am so excited for Christmas now but before Christmas comes Geoff's birthday :)

.live creatively well.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Can't say no to races.

I hope everyone had a relaxing Thanksgiving full of family, food, and wine ( I may have filled mine with the last one a little too much...). I plan on doing a Thanksgiving update soon but I have some exciting news to share. I signed up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon! I have been contemplating it for a while and decided that timing was right, well as right as it could be to train for 13.1 miles. The race is at the end of February so I have plenty of time to increase my millage. There is even a training plan online. I am starting the plan a few weeks late but I figured with just completing the 6.6 miles from Miami Man after the swim and bike this is reasonable.

Speaking of Miami Man, the professional photos were posted.

I find that when I look at race pictures they motivate me to continue racing. There is something about seeing yourself in all spandex that makes you want to hit the pavement....

.live creatively well.

Let me know if you want to run the Princess Half with me! You need to register by December 1st to get your name on your bib :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving is ALMOST here.

It may be 84 degrees outside but Thanksgiving is getting so close. With all of the Christmas decorations out one may think it is almost Christmas but I am a one holiday at a time & cherish the moment type of gal. I want my Halloween, then my Thanksgiving, then my Christmas and finally New Years Eve. Oh and Geoff's birthday falls somewhere in the middle...

Geoff & I are hosting our first Thanksgiving with both sets of our parents, family & friends. We have had this planned since the summer with the goal of having our kitchen complete by this date. Well this "minor" goal was not met. Close minus the counter tops and sink, once again "minor" details. I still have faith that Thanksgiving will go off as perfectly as it should and by perfectly I mean with no disasters (aka Geoff is frying a turkey).

As for decorations and this being our first Thanksgiving in our home I kept it simple. Please forgive the Instagram photos. Maybe Santa will bring me a nice, fancy camera. (too bad Santa doesn't read my blog).

I love tablescapes almost as much as mantles but since I don't have a fire place or a mantle this is the next best thing. For this tablescape I picked up a table runner from Ikea for only a few dollars. I also got a full set of the matching napkins but when not in use they make the table too cluttered. I found the two grey pumpkins at Whole Foods for $5 each. I bought them before Halloween so that I could enjoy them for two holidays. The little white pumpkins are from Publix and I believe they were 2 for $3 but also bought prior to Halloween. The candles are Ikea and I believe I paid less than $10 for all of them. A quick tip about decorating with candles is to let them burn for a few moments. By allowing the wick to blacken and the wax to begin to melt, makes the decorations appear to be more authentic even if you do not plan on lighting them when the table is in use. The finishing touch was walnuts. If you follow me on Twitter (PStringandGBean) I mentioned buying these walnuts and spray paint. I thought about it and decided to leave them natural so that they could be enjoyed. They have already been enjoyed.... I had a few friends over Sunday night and the post dinner snack was cracking walnuts at the dinner table. Betcha didn't know that if you hold two walnuts in your hand and squeeze, you can crack one :)

The walnuts made a second appearance in a glass trifle dish that was gifted to us at our bridal shower. The candle in the middle is one of the flameless candles. I found it on clearance at Target for around $4. I still need to buy a battery for it. The block of wood is from my internship and I can not recall what we used it for but I remember it was left over and going to be thrown away and I for some reason loved it and it has moved with me multiple times. The lamp is from Bungalow in Atlanta. Someday I will have an outlet that actually works in that corner to be able to use it.

A third area I made festive was one of the shelves of my book shelf. The frame is a $4 Ikea frame that came with the mat and the "Gather Here with Grateful Hearts" was printed of Pinterest. LOVE. The "R" is from anthropologie and bought for the wedding. The blue pumpkin plates are from williams-sonoma and I will sadly admit that I did not buy them on sale. I bought 8 but am thinking I should buy one more set to make 12.  I just may before the day is over. My house doesn't support orange well but blues and greys are my favorite. It isn't often that you can find blue pumpkins. I may need to take advantage. I think I just typed myself into it :)

I decorated a few other areas and will be taking pictures on the big day. I will also share what we decide to cook.

So far on the list:
  • Red Rice & Quinoa Salad
  • Roasted Granny Smith Apples & Brussels Sprouts
  • Cashew Green Bean Casserole
  • Tangerine Roasted Carrots
Geoff is smoking and frying a few turkeys,  Momma Pink String is making a cranberry dish, gravy, and dessert and Momma Green Bean is helping me as well as bring the appetizers.

I am also on Wednesday night dinner and Thursday breakfast duty. I asked Geoff what he wanted for a simple breakfast and he said eggs Benedict. Ya that is simple.

I hope everyone has a amazing Thanksgiving filled with family, friends and of course amazing food!

Also be sure to check out 6 Petals new blog that has a super cute wedding idea that I just may have to steal :)

.live creatively well.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Miami Man International Distance

Exactly a week later, I have recovered from the Miami Man (International Distance) race. 

Saturday was sign in, bike drop, expo and a question and answer session.  Sign in was simple and easy to navigate. I still haven't registered with USA Triathlon so I had to pay my $10 again. I didn't bring my wallet but Geoff had cash. 

We were handed our race packets that contained all of our numbers and parking passes and then directed to the "goodies bag" section. The swag was pretty nice, which it should be for a rice of that price, and included  your choice of dry fit shirts, different water bottles, hats, visors, towels, mugs, and a mouse pad as well as the sponsor bag with different gels, products and coupons. Even a coupon for a free pair of cycle socks that I redeemed online today. The next station was the numbering station or in this case tattoo station. The wait was over an hour and we felt confident that we could figure it out by ourselves. 

We took our bikes to transition and made our way to the afternoon information session. They had a speaker from the USA Triathlon Association going over specifics and a tri coach going over last minute details. Both informative but not what the guys wanted to sit through on empty stomachs. 

The hotel was our next stop to check in and then went on a mission to find lunch. We ended up eating at Cheesecake Factory. In the past, I was never a fan and I am still not a fan of the chain style restaurant but I had been snacking all morning and wasn't very hungry and did not feel like objecting because it could have been a whole lot worse. I was pleasantly surprised but their "light" menu. I ended up ordering a grilled artichoke, sauteed spinach, and sweet potato fries. The grilled artichoke was amazing and had a balsamic dressing on it. The spinach was just spinach and olive oil. The sweet potato fries came in a huge portion and I think I only had a handful. 

By the time we finished eating and were back at the hotel it was around 4pm. I knew I wanted to get to bed very early and had a lot of prepping to do for the morning. I am a big believer in laying every single item out and prepacking everything for the morning. It makes the morning so much less stressful and you can just go through the movements. Football was on TV so Geoff was not complaining that we weren't "exploring" Miami. We were asleep by 8.... 

& awake by 4:45! Normally I am one to curse life the morning of a race if it is an earlier wake up call than my standard 5:30am but this wasn't bad at all. I was well rested and excited for the challenge. 

We arrived at the zoo at about 5:30. Yes the race was at the Miami Zoo! 

It was still dark out when we reached transition but they had lights set up so you could mostly see. I went through all of my motions getting set up and I realized that this was my first race with my clip ins. For some reason that fact made me a little nervous but not nearly as nervous as everyone dressing out in wetsuits. That was intimidating. I have never swam in a wet suit nor do I own one. They said the water was 75 degrees. That seemed warm to me. 

Transition closed at 6:45 and I went and found Geoff, his sister and our friend Sarah and their husbands. 

April  & Sarah were doing the half Iron Man. Sarah swam at Clemson and is in great shape and April is very strong in all three. It was fun being at the race with family and friends even if you never see each other in the race. 

Their wave was at 7:35 and mine wasn't until 8:35 so that left time for an awkward photo shoot of myself :)

Geoff found the sign that said "Danger Deep Water No Swimming" hilarious considering I was about to go swimming in that lake. 

I was more amused with the fish swim caps. Every wave was a different color but they were all still fish or sharks. Notice the fins? I don't think I will be doing practice swims in this cap. 

I am so grateful that Geoff supports me and claims that he enjoys watching me at my races. I think he was just happy that I didn't sign him up. 

Up first was the swim and my wave was the very last. They recommended getting in the water before the race but the air was cold and I knew that being cold for an extended period of time would be worse then the shock of the water. To my surprise the water was a very pleasant temperature. 

An intimidating fact about being the last wave in the water: you could be the very last swimmer out of the water. I finished just behind the middle of the pack and actually passed people. I do not know how those wearing wetsuits did not over heat. After the first few minutes I was comfortable and got warm toward the end. 

I wish I would have switched into my tinted goggles. It was cloudy early on but once the sun came out I had trouble spotting the finish. I felt like I swam strong. It took a few minutes to get comfortable but I caught a rhythm and stayed there. The water was very clear. You could actually see the bottom in most areas. I saw a lot of swim caps that had fallen off. 

This was also my first time swimming in tri shorts. I know they aren't the most flattering shorts. I tried on about 10 pairs and in my price range these were the winners. I also normally swim in a swim suit top and throw a shirt on after the swim. This time I just wore an Under Armor top with a built in, very supportive, bra. I felt a little drag from the top but over all it was tight enough that there wasn't an issue. Would I wear this shirt again for a race? I am not sure. I bought it at Dicks Sporting Goods on super sale around $20 and that was a whole lot cheaper than the $50+ tri tops. 

My swim time was 29:54. My goal was to be under 30 minutes. Now that I have the confidence that I can do the swim, I plan to train with a focus on speed rather than survival. 

The first thing I do when I get to transition for T1 is to put on my helmet. I have a fear that I will forget it. I also put on my sunglasses because I leave them sitting in my helmet. 

I then dry off as much as I can. You don't want to be dripping wet and I like to make sure my bottom gets as dry as possible so I don't slip off of my bike seat. I still wear socks with my tri shoes instead of doing the baby powder in your shoes trick. They rub my feet in a few spots and I figure I will be wearing socks in the run portion (for now) so might as well put them on. 

My bike location was located right in the middle of the transition area which ended up being perfect. There was a long distance between the transition exit and the bike mounting area. 

Lucky for us, most of this distance was on grass which allows you to be able to run with your shoes on. 

I was passing people through T1 towards the mounting station and my T1 time was 3:17. 

First time race clipping in went smoother than I feared. No issues there. 

The bike leg was WINDY. I don't think the wind was ever behind me. I didn't ride with a bike computer this time. I trained with my iPhone but they were not allowed for the race and never bought a new computer for my new bike. I think ridding with a computer would have been depressing. I can only imagine how slow I went when I was riding into the wind. My bike time was 1:28:39 for the 22 miles. My average pace was 14:89 miles an hour. In training I was ridding about 17 to 18 miles an hour. Thank you wind. 

While running bake to transition after the run, I knew my legs were not happy. I switched into my running shoes and forgot my hat. My forehead was burnt.... Even if you lather up with sunscreen prior to the race, between swimming and wearing a helmet, your sunscreen on your forehead wears off. It happens every time. 

My T2 time was 2:18. Leaving transition I was all smiles :) 

Returning from the 6.6 mile run was a different story. I also thought it was only a 6 mile run and thought I missed my turn off once I hit 6 miles. Oh no it was 6.6 miles. My longest training run was 5.9 miles. Opps. 

It took my legs about 2 miles to "find themselves" again but at that two mile mark my body rocked the next three miles through the zoo. There were aid stations at every mile and never had I needed an aid station more. By this point in the day it was HOT out and the sun was intense. The last two miles of the race were through a parking lot and then the back lots of the zoo. No shade and all sun. The last mile and a half were tough. A lot of people around me were walking and I did not want to walk. I did walk though the aid stations when I drank water or took ice. I also walked for a few strides at mile 6.2 when I thought I should have been done. I needed that to re-motivate myself. 

Once I saw Geoff, I knew the finish line was close and I pushed it as hard as my body could. Notice the 1/2 iron man behind me who looks like a pro? Not fair. 

I believe when I crossed the finish line and Geoff hugged me I told him to "never let me sign up for this s*%$ again" My body hurt and my emotions were flying but I was so proud of myself. My run time was 1:15:45 which was 15 minutes over my goal time of 1 hour but that was also when I thought it was a six mile run. 

My total time was 3:19:54, nearly 20 minutes over my goal but I am so very proud of myself. This time last year I couldn't swim a lap in the pool, ride a bike for longer than 6 miles or run 2 miles without walking. I may have crossed the international distance off of my list for now but I will cross this bridge again. 

.live creatively well.