Friday, November 28, 2014

Monkey Bread

Good Morning!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! We had a busy day of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, decorating the Christmas tree--yep, we've already started decorating!!--, preparing food for lunch, and then we headed out for the day.  First, we headed to my aunt Cathy's house for lunch with Mom's family.  We had a great time and lots of laughs!!  After lunch, we headed to Matt's Nolte grandparents' house for dinner.  After dinner, we headed to his Doustout grandparents' for dessert!! So. Much. Food. All day long!  As we were finishing lunch at our first stop, we were already getting full, so we knew we had a long day ahead of us! And, as full as I was there, I made sure to get a piece of Mom's chocolate pie! Mmmm.

To start off the day, I got up early and started making breakfast. I was trying something new, so with my luck, it could've been a total flop, but, everything actually turned out great! And edible!  I made Monkey Bread in the crock pot, and it's so super easy.  Here's the recipe if you'd like to try!

  • 1 can of Grands Original Biscuits (we had accidentally used the Original biscuits for dinner earlier this week, so I used the can of Southern Style biscuits we had. They seemed to work just as well!)
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 stick of butter


1. Melt the stick of butter.
2. Mix the brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon in a gallon sized Ziploc bag.
3. Cut each biscuit into 6 pieces.
4. Dip each piece of biscuit into the melted butter, then toss it in the bag of sugar/cinnamon.  Once all of the pieces are in the bag, shake it up to completely coat each piece.  Some of the biscuit pieces will stick together, so after shaking the bag, you may have to peel some of them apart and toss them in the sugar yourself. This was easy to do as I was taking them out to put in the crock pot.
5. After getting all of the pieces coated, put them into the crock pot. We used a crock pot liner which I know saved us a ton of time of scraping up a big, sticky mess afterwards! lol
6. Pour any remaining melted butter on top.
7. Cook on low for 2.5 hours.

When there was about an hour left on the cooking time, Matt realized we DID in fact have walnuts, so he chopped some up and threw them on top of the Monkey Bread.  I can tell you it definitely wouldn't have been as good without them!

Yum, yum! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Maple in the Morning

I wake up for work about an hour and a half before I actually need to leave.  Not because it really takes me that long to get ready, but because I don't like to be rushed. PLUS, I love playing and snuggling with Maple in the morning, so I have to plan accordingly, haha. Also, when I take her outside before I leave, it's just not a quick in-and-out trip. Nope, we have to chase every squirrel, deer, bird or rabbit we see and sniff everywhere those animals have been. It's always an adventure! Other times, I love sitting with her on the sofa, which has now become her playground, and just lay beside her looking out the window as she watches the cars go by. But, I love that I wake up early enough to spend some extra time with Maple, as well as take cute pictures like these that I'll have and love forever! You can never have enough pictures of your fur-baby, right??

I did not pose her in any of these. These are all typical Maple poses :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

My First Half Marathon

I really just have three words to sum up how I felt yesterday: I did it!

Never did I EVER think that I would complete a half marathon! I used to loathe running and sometimes, I still do. (And sidenote, let's just accept the fact that I used the word "loathe" and said it in the Grinch's voice because I'm already in the Christmas spirit, haha.)  But, after completing the Monument Avenue 10K in the Spring, for some reason, I decided that I was going to sign up for the Half Marathon. Um, okay, I know one of my goals for this year was to participate in more races and everything, but I thought I was just going stick to races that were between 5K and 10K. NO idea how a 13.1 mile race made its way into the line-up!

So, I signed up. I signed up to run with a pace group, the slowest half marathon pace group, in fact, because I knew I would want to start out too fast and wouldn't be able to keep my own pace throughout the whole race.  Plus, it was a time that I felt was a good goal to set for myself.

I continued running all year, but I really started my training plan for the half marathon in July.  I really stuck to it with each particular running day and its distance, my cross training days and my strength training days (which I was already doing while training for the Spartan race).  Did I have speed bumps along the way? You betcha. In the early fall, my right knee started hurting...a lot.  I could barely walk without pain, let alone run.  When resting it didn't work, I finally had to suck it up and go to the doctor, so I wouldn't get too far behind on my training.  Well, going to the doctor usually isn't good news for me, and this was no exception.  I had pulled the anterior ligament in my knee, and flared up an old knee injury. LOVELY. Through that whole injury, from the initial resting to after the appointment and more rest, I was out of running for a month! That was kind of a big set back that did not make me happy!!  Then, several weeks ago, I did who knows what and ended up pulling a muscle in my back that wrapped around my right side, too. It hurt to do simple stuff like get in my car with my work bag in the mornings, roll over in the bed, play bells at church. It was ridiculous. Finally, the week leading up to the half marathon, this muscle started to get a little bit better, but it still was hurting some when I woke up that morning, but I had so much adrenaline that it was the last thing on my mind.

After all that had happened, I wasn't sure about the anticipated finishing time I originally hoped for. Since my training had its interruptions and challenges, and this point, I just wanted to finish!

I know it probably sounds like I'm just pouring out excuses, but when I look back years from now, I want to remember how I prepared for my first half marathon, the set backs I had, and how I still completed it!!

So, yesterday morning, I woke up way earlier than the alarms I had set because I was both anxious and excited. I finally got up and got dressed for the below freezing temps that I wasn't really excited about running in, as I had never run in temperatures that low before!  We finally got out there, and Matt was walking with me to find my starting wave. I was looking for my aunt, Kandi, and my cousin, Aimee, because I knew they would be around the same area as me. Coincidentally, I just happened to hear Kandi's voice and they walked right up behind us!! It worked out great because we ended up running the whole thing together!  And, that pace group I signed up to run with? Yeah, I never looked for them, because I had a better group to run with!

Matt, Mom and Dad were standing right at the starting line as we passed, and the start all happened so fast! Before I knew it, we were at mile 2 and that's when I got mad. My left knee started hurting. Seriously?! My left knee has never hurt me while running, and it chose that time to start?? Perfect. I kept changing my stride, and that would help alleviate the pain for a while, but then it would come back. It was a constant battle through the rest of the race! I was so mad.

It was so much fun running through Richmond! I was most excited when we ran past the Science Museum, which was in the first couple miles. Shortly after that, we conquered the hill on the Boulevard right by the Diamond.  Of all the hills we ran/walked, we owned that one! haha. I kept looking forward to Mile 7, because I knew we'd be in Bryan Park at that point, and that was the next Party Spot for the half marathon, and that's where Mom, Dad and Matt would be.  We saw Mom first, so we stopped for some stretching to loosen up.

Check out this sign Mom made!

Shortly after we passed her, we ran into Matt and Dad! It's always nice seeing familiar faces on the side for some encouragement to keep on going!!

Dad got these pictures of us running:

Matt got this pic:

I can't remember at which Mile this happened, but we started hearing police sirens behind us on the left side of the road. I turned around to see police motorcycles, but I didn't know what it was for. Aimee and Kandi told me the Elite Marathon runners were coming up on that side of the road! It was so cool to see them come breezing by, 20+ miles in, like it was NOTHING. We cheered them on as they came on by, and I decided I was completely fine sticking with 13.1 miles! haha.

When we were in the last few miles, I felt like we would NEVER get to the finish line. My knee was still killing me, and then, just when I thought things couldn't get worse, they did. My calves started cramping. BAD. I honestly thought they were just going to pop right through my skin. (I know, what an exaggeration!) I kept stopping to stretch them, running different ways, but I could NOT get them to loosen up. It killed me being so close to the end and having to keep stopping.  When we approached Mile 10, we ran through our favorite spectator set up: Christmas!! They were playing Christmas music, and Santa and a couple elves were there! It was there that some random stranger from the Christmas-scene gave me a pat on the back and said, "Just 5K left! You can do it!!" My initial thought was, "Yeah, easy for you to say. YOU'RE NOT RUNNING!" But, after getting that out of my system, I realized that's why I love these running events: EVERYONE is so supportive and encouraging, and it was more than fitting that it was a Christmas person who gave me a boost of encouragement to keep going! haha.

In the last stretch of the race, Aimee kept reassuring me, "we're literally almost there!" "the rest is all down hill!" and I kicked up the pace, forgot about all of the pain I was in, because when I saw that finish line, I was going to cross it as quickly as I could!!!

Here we are getting ready to cross the finish line!! Video by Mom, pictures by Matt!

Regardless of all of the pain I endured, I was most proud of myself, because never once did I get tired aerobically. I could've definitely kept on going if I wasn't hurting so much. Who knows, there may be another 1/2 marathon in my future....I haven't decided just yet. Let me recover from these injuries, first!

And, to finish out this post, I thought I'd share these half marathon quotes I have been finding on Pinterest either as inspiration or as something I now read and think, "oh yeah, I can totally relate now!"

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Our Disney Trip: Pictures From My Phone

I knew I had a couple more Disney posts I wanted to do, but I didn't know this was going to be one of them!

Here are "the lost files" of our Disney trip. I call them the lost files because I had honestly, truly forgotten about them until last week when I stumbled upon them on my phone, as I was trying to clean up my photo storage!

When we finally got to our room in Disney, I was excited to be there, just by seeing this on our bed!! Sorry to Mom, Dad and Abby for sending you this picture at like 2:00am letting you know we were there, haha.

Anxiously approaching the entrance to the Magic Kingdom!!

As you're walking to the gates of the Magic Kingdom, you can see the beautiful Grand Floridian resort.  One day, when I'm rich and famous, (so never), we'll stay here! haha. It's crazy expensive, but super beautiful, and even MORE beautiful at Christmas!!

NOW it feels like we're at Disney :)

It's a Small World

haha, I love this picture of Matt on the teacups.

Remember when we played that Cars racing game? Here's my horrible score, haha.

Our view from dinner...not too bad, huh?

You can never take enough pictures of the castle.

When we rode Peter Pan's Flight, which is one of my favorite rides, I didn't have my camera out. Instead, I just took quick, and mostly blurry, pictures with my phone.

The lights at Disney are so pretty at night.

Next day at Hollywood Studios!

Inside the Tower of Terror.

Time for lunch!

I took a picture of this arch, because we have an old picture of Dad, Abby and me standing under it from when we went years ago. Although, I think then it read "Disney's MGM Studios!"

3rd day: Animal Kingdom

We loved Finding Nemo The Musical! Abby, definitely wish you could've been there, too!

Delicious dinner at Rainforest Cafe!

Rainbow after dinner..

This was one of the scenes at our resort. I just thought it was so cute!

Mickey waffles for breakfast! Yum!


For the Test Track ride at Epcot, you can design your own vehicle for the ride! It's super cool.  We rode it twice (once with a Fast Pass), so the first time, Matt designed the car, and the second time, I did.  You register it to your Magic Band so when you're getting ready to get in your "car' for the ride, you scan your Magic Band, and it picks up the design you just created! So neat!

Ready to ride!

After the ride, your Magic Band still saves your car design, so you can load it onto different video games they have.

Just goofing around testing out some stuff..haha.

Matt drinking beer in Germany.

The day we went to Epcot is also the day we went to Downtown Disney. We ate lunch there at Planet Hollywood. You know I had to grab a picture of the Hunger Games outfit!

Genie in one of the stores.

Back at our resort

Possibly a hidden Mickey chicken nugget? Probably not, but I still took the picture anyway.

We went back to Epcot that night to watch the fireworks/lights show, and ended up standing right by a wedding reception!


Our last day...taking in all we can!!!

Ready to board Tower of Terror.....for the fourth time!

Arriving at Magic Kingdom for the last time.

Rapunzel's tower.

HAD to have a Mickey shaped ice cream!

Train ride around Magic Kingdom.

This pin made me laugh..

Loved all of the Cars stuff our gift shop had!

We had coupons for free tokens or something for the arcade at our resort, so that's how we killed time waiting for the Disney Magic Bus to take us back to the airport.

So long, Disney! Until next time ;)