Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Weekend Recap

I'm back in the very windy city, after a long weekend in WI. The weekend was a lot of fun and very relaxing. Two things I was in desperate need of. I drove home Wednesday after working and a long cardio session (gearing up for yummy food). I stayed at my sister's house because she lives closest to where we were planning on going out that night. We met some of her friends out at a restaurant in Milwaukee, called Hinterland. From the outside, it looks like a fancy wine bar. But inside, it's very cozy and perfect for a cold, rainy fall evening. I had the pork chops with butternut squash and red quinoa. It was the perfect kind of comfort food. After dinner, my sister and I parted from her friends and met up with some of my girls at Cafe Lulu. It was wino Wednesday, which means 1/2 price bottles of wine which equals one happy Maria :-) We drank wine and danced the night away to 5 card studs. What a fun band!!! They were a "Vegas Style" live band that sang music from the 70's and 80s. They wore wigs, white button shirts, and aviator sunglasses. They were a riot. If live bands weren't so expensive, I would have definitely booked them for our wedding.

I started off Thursday morning with a little 2 mile run, along with strength training and big flights of stairs. Thanksgiving day was held at my parents house. My mom did most of the cooking because she has to be gluten-free. I was a little worried about this because I've had some gluten-free products and could definitely tell a difference in the taste. But everything was magnificent and more! I could not tell a difference between the gluten free stuffing vs. the stuffing from last year. I could, however, tell a difference in the pie crust. It wasn't a bad different, just not what I was used to.

Friday, my mom and I met with the florist for the wedding and went over ideas and price quotes. Flowers are expensive. Even coming from a woman who works out of her home. I could not believe the price that I was being quoted for my bouquet. I quickly texted my friend who just got married, and she paid the same price for hers. Unbelievable. Especially because they will end up going to waste at the end of the night. I'm excited to see how they turn out though. It's hard for me to grasp the fact that I won't see the finished product until the day. It makes me a teensy bit nervous.

The rest of the weekend included taking the puppers on long walks so that he wouldn't be so crazy inside, football (WOO HOO BADGERS!) and spending quality time with the family. Now it's back to the grind and time to finish out the semester strong. 3 more class and 3 more tests! I never thought I'd see this day again, where I look forward to winter break :-(

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Today after work, I'm driving WI to stay the night with my sister. We're, hopefully, making it to church, then dinner and drinks out. We have to thank the Big Man Upstairs for everything he's given us. Honestly, though I am definitely ready for 2011. 2010 hasn't been the greatest of years.

This weekend will be filled with lots of family time and wedding fun! I'm so excited :-) On Friday, my mom and I are going to meet with the florist and on Saturday invitations. We are also having our family Christmas since my grandparents are in town and it's the only time that we're all together.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I have compiled a small list of the things that I am most thankful for.

1. My faith
2. My health
3. The 3 F's...Family, Friends, Fiance
4. Skype. An essential in any long distance relationship
5. Grapes. Because they make delicious wine
6. Oliver. Because he keeps me company/busy/pre-occupied while LC's away
7. My mom. For everything she does, including NOT passing down the celiac's disease gene to me. I love bread too much.
8. Christmas songs the day after Thanksgiving
9. Black Friday. Not because of the specials but because I have off of work :-)
10. My legs. Because I can run, walk, and climb stairs with no problem. It's the small things people.
12. My readers. Because I love comments and reading new blogs :-)

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and gets to eat lots of wonderful food!!!

What are you thankful for??

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hot Yoga...I Heart You

This morning, I didn't have to be at work until 10am (normal time is 8). Instead of getting some extra shut eye, I woke up at my normal time and made it to the 6am Hot Fusion Power yoga class at Core Power Yoga studio. This yoga studio is right down the road from my house and they offer a free week to new students. I've never taken a yoga class before, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to test it out. Love. The class was taught in a sauna-type room with tons of windows that overlook the skyline of Chicago. Coming into the heat from a 20 degree morning felt amazing and at 6am, it looks very cool and to watch the sunrise across the city. It's the perfect way to start off the morning.

I definitely underestimated the intensity of yoga. I'm definitely not as flexible as I thought I was and holding some of the poses was a workout. But it was a good workout. An amazing workout actually. I have never felt so relaxed in my life, not even when going for a massage. I couldn't even tell you what was going through my head. But not once did I think about school, work, or LC being gone. No stress whatsoever for that hour. I also love the fact that this is "mine". It's the ultimate "me time". LC likes to workout, so generally we'll go to the gym together or go running together, but this is something that I will never share with him. And I like that. I only know this to be true because he's too much of a "guy's guy" for yoga.

So today, I am thankful for bringing yoga into my life and for or having a clear, peaceful mind for the first time in the past 4 months. Namaste :-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend Happenings

Why do the weekends have to go by so quickly?! Thank God for a short work week coming up, I really need it. This past weekend was pretty eventful. Friday, I got into the holiday spirit by listening to Christmas music and baking some cookies for LC (peanut butter w/peanut butter cups and oatmeal raisin). I've decided not to put up any Christmas decorations this year, since I won't be home to enjoy them. The only thing I have going is a Christmas tree scented candle from Target which smells amazing.

On Saturday, I meant to wake up early to do an Insanity DVD, but that did not happen. I cleaned and prepared for my guests instead. My mom, sister and grandma drove to Chicago for a day visit. It was really nice to see them and much appreciated since I've been feeling homesick and a little lonely lately. The holidays are such a hard time for me when LC's not here and my family lives 2 hours away. I took them to lunch at my favorite restaurant in Chicago, Cafe Ba Ba Reeba. It was amazing as always. Their sangria is to die for! I definitely enjoyed a glass, even if it was only 2 in the afternoon :-) I really like the concept of Tapas style dining. You can have a small amount of different varieties of food and not come out feeling stuffed. My mom especially loved this place because of their gluten-free menu. They were so accommodating to her and they even bought her out gluten-free bread for her dipping oil. She was diagnosed with celiac's disease a few months ago and claimed that this was the best meal she's had in a restaurant since. After we indulged in some dessert, we walked around Lincoln Park for a little bit and ventured into Weddings 826 to look for wedding jewelry. I didn't purchase anything, but I will be back as the big day gets closer. That night, my family went home and I went out with an old friend of mine from college. It was nice meeting up with her at her apartment, having drinks and catching up. Then we went to Division street. And I felt old, which is funny because 2 years ago, I had a blast on Division street. Now, I felt sorry for the girls making complete fools of themselves (been there, done that) and I hated having to fend off creepy guys. An engagement ring stops no one. Don't get me wrong, I had a fun time hanging out with Allie and her other girlfriends, but it was just different this time around.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I'm looking forward to going home and seeing my family and friends and having out with my favorite lady in the whole wide world...my sister :-) One thing that I am thankful for is a SHORT WORK WEEK!!! Wooo!

Friday, November 19, 2010

What's for Dinner?

One thing that I've been trying to do, while LC's deployed is learn how to cook quick, simple healthy meals for dinner. My goal is to make something new once a week. During the week, I don't get out of work until 4:30. That seems early, but then we have the commute home, gym time and shower. By the time I'm done with all of this it's almost 7 pm. Weeknights leave me very little time to come home and whip up a wonderful dinner, so we often find ourselves on Grubhub.com looking for places to order in. This is one thing that is going to change once he gets home.

Last night, I made baked chicken pesto with a side of green beans and sliced almonds. YUM!!! This was probably the easiest and healthiest (not to mention, mouthwatering) meal I have ever made. It took probably a total of of 5 minutes to prep and 25 minutes to bake. I hopped in the shower while it baked.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Get a baking dish and spray it with cooking oil. Take a tub of pesto sauce and layer the bottom of the dish. Then sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Lay across the pesto covered dish. Use the remaining pesto sauce to cover the top of the chicken breasts. Cover with aluminum foil and then bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is done. After it's been in there, take it out, uncover it and sprinkle fat-free mozzarella cheese on the top. Put back in the oven and bake until cheese melts. Take out and enjoy!!!

Baked Chicken Pesto
Description Store-bought pesto and mozzarella cheese are all it takes to turn tender chicken breasts into an incredibly easy-to-make dish that will likely become a new family favorite. Prep time: 5 minutes Start to finish: 30minutes

Ingredients 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1/2 cup pesto (from a jar) 2 (1/2 cup) ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions Heat oven to 375°F. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Spread 1/4 cup of the pesto in a 9" by 13" baking dish. Lay chicken breasts over pesto in an even layer and spread with remaining pesto. Cover baking dish with foil and bake chicken until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and top with cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, 5 more minutes. Serve hot. Recipe from The South Beach Diet Quick & Easy Cookbook

Nutritional Information:
390 calories 20 total fat (5 g sat) 2 g carbohydrate 46 g protein 0 g fiber 450 mg sodium
It doesn't look like much, but it tasted wonderful. And I definitely made enough for leftovers.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Diamonds...a Girl's Best Friend?

I used to think of myself as a unique and modern girl. When I set out to look for my engagement ring, I had a goal in mind of getting something "different". I didn't want the traditional solitaire and I didn't want the"trendy" princess cut. So when I got my beautiful, round halo style engagement ring, I was a happy girl. I didn't know anyone else who had this ring. It was just wanted: unique. Until a few months later, I saw it popping up all over the place. Turns out, I'm not as unique as I thought. I still love my engagement ring, and all things sparkly, but there's a new, but rare, trend that I wish I would have considered...the colored stone.

This is my all-time favorite version of the colored engagement ring. The yellow diamond. Absolutely beautiful. Carrie Underwood's engagement ring is by far my favorite of all the recent celebrity engagements. The setting closely resembles mine, except for the fact mine is a fraction of the size of hers and it's a near colorless diamond.

The newly engaged, Jessica Simpson, is sporting a red ruby engagement ring. I'm not so much a fan of this one for two reasons. One, I don't red and two I'm not big into yellow gold. I didn't even know she was dating anyone!?

Last but definitely not least, Kate Middleton. This ring reminds me of the Titanic's "Heart of the Ocean". I love the fact that Prince William gave Kate his mother's ring so that she would have part in their special day. This ring is gorgeous and definitely fit for royalty. I've been stalking people.com to get the deets on their wedding planning. Theirs will definitely be the wedding of the year, right behind mine and LC's of course :-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This Could be Heaven

photo c/o

A few days after our wedding, we will be spending 7 glorious days in St. Lucia. Neither one of us can wait to lay on the beach, RELAX and drink tropical drinks and explore this part of the world. I've heard nothing but good things about St. Lucia. We were up in the air about where we would spend our honeymoon, but came to an agreement and I don't think neither one of us will be disappointed. It's all coming together!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Monday!

I'm sick. Like call into work, sleep all day, stuffy head, ears, nose and throat kind of sick. At the rate I was going, it was bound to happen. I'm actually surprised it didn't happen earlier.

My weekend was otherwise a productive one. It was pretty low-key but I definitely needed that. On Friday night I cleaned my apartment and caught up with all the shows I had missed for the week. Hey Grey's Anatomy...what's going on, yo!? You're majorly slacking. And Hello Private Practice...(and wink wink to Taye Diggs) you are my new favorite show. I got 8 hours of sleep on Friday night. It was heaven. Saturday, I finally switched out all my summer clothes for my winter ones, and spent two quality hours with my friend, GYM. After my sweaty reunion with GYM, I ran (literally) in 40 degree temps with capri pants to Target to get some goodies for LC's Christmas care package. It's going to be a good one! Funny, I started sneezing and feeling sick already Saturday night... I woke up on Sunday feeling a little sickly, but still held my date with Sean T who kicked my butt before church. So on top of having a really bad cold today, I cannot move the rest of my body. On Sunday night, I watched one of my Netflix movies, The Duchess. I thought it was a very good movie and Keira Knightly always does such a good job with these "era" movies. The ONLY good thing about LC being gone, is that I get to watch whatever "girly" movie I want without having to hear anything about it.

Today also begins week 2 of phase one of the South Beach Diet. So far, so good. I'm down 4lbs, and my stomach feels great. I saw a GI specialist a few weeks ago about some complications and so far eating "clean" and lots of veggies has helped. I thought that I'd miss bread, pasta or sweets, but the hardest part about phase one is the no alcohol for two weeks. I do enjoy my vino on a Friday night...and a Thursday night. I've tried Weight Watchers, and although it has worked (when I stuck with the plan) I've gained the weight back. It doesn't teach you how to eat properly. I remember once thinking to myself, "I can get all my points in by eating ice cream sandwiches all day!" I like the South Beach diet because it's forcing me to cook for myself, make smarter snack choices, and there's no calorie/point counting involved. I will admit though that I'm very nervous about starting Phase 2 where I can allow alcohol and carbs back into my life. Phase 2 begins next Monday, but I think I might stay in phase one until Thanksgiving, because who really diets on Thanksgiving?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans Day!

To all the service men and women who have served and are currently serving in the armed forces. This day's for you. And to my favorite airman, soldier and husband-to-be! I'm so proud of you and everything you've accomplished. You are the most selfless person I know. Get home to me safely so we can start our lives together!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

All-Expenses Paid Vacation To....(Drumroll Please)

THE DESERT!!!!!!!!! Wahooo!! Bleh...

I'm getting deployed ladies and gentleman. I know where I'll be going but will not be disclosing that information. All I have to say is that it will be hot. I shouldn't complain for a few reasons. One being I will be gone when Chicago will be at its coldest temps. Secondly, it's only for a month and its the last month before LC gets home from his deployment. I will get home, and a week later he will be here. Time is going by so fast! I love it.

When I first found out about this news, I was not a happy girl. My biggest concern was, 'What am I going to do with Oliver??' Luckily, I have an awesome sister who volunteered to watch my little nugget while I'm gone for the month. So Oliver will be setting up camp at Auntie Mel's house :-) My next concern was finishing all my pre-req's for the PA program. I had a schedule of all the classes I needed to take and what semester I would be taking each class. Luckily, one of my classes is online only, so I will be doing that while I'm there. Hopefully the internet works well.

After the week I've had so far, I'm looking at the deployment as more of a vacation from my hectic/crazy/super busy life. Yes, it sucks that I'll be working 12 hour days every single day that I'm there, but I also will have no responsibilities to anyone or anything but myself. On my off time I can read for fun or SLEEP!!! More than likely, I will choose sleep over anything else. I have a year and a half left in this enlistment. I'm not sure if I'm going to re-enlist yet. The military has its pluses and minuses. I will just have to wait it out and see!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Save the Date-8 more months to go!

Our save the date postcards went out last week! And the good news is, none were returned! Awesomeness. I designed the postcards myself using Adobe InDesign and then got them printed from vista print. 100 postcards for 30 bucks! Not too bad. I went to pick up my dress this past weekend and I love it!!! I did not want take it off. What I love about it is that it's different. I've seen different variations of the dress in bridal magazines, but it's still not a popular dress. It fits me perfectly, the only thing right now that needs to be altered is the length. But I definitely have some upper body toning to do. No sausage arms for this bride to be.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Half Marathon #2-CHECK!

My goal for 2011 is to be more frequent with my posts. To help pass time, I've been keeping myself so busy. Almost to a fault. I'm a horrible fiance, the 3 months that my fiance has been overseas, I have sent him ONE care package...ONE! If there was an award for the crappiest fiance, I would definitely win hands down.

Anyway, this past weekend I ran the Haunted Hustle 1/2 Marathon in Middleton, WI with my friend, Marr. My goal for this race was to come in at 2:30. I came in at 2:27:23. So I'm very happy about that. I'd like to do the Disney Princess 1/2 marathon in February, but with the wedding coming up, financial it isn't feasible. But I will be there in 2012.
I went to church with my mom on Sunday and we found out that the pastor who is marrying us got a call for a church in AZ and he is taking it. He's a really good pastor and he will be missed dearly by my parents as well as many members of the congregation. As to whether or not he will be back to do our wedding, that still hasn't been discussed. I really hope so because I don't know who we'll have marry us otherwise! And so the stress of wedding planning begins!

Marrisa, My sister (and her sign) and Me! 2nd 1/2 marathon of the year!