Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Biltmore + Random Holiday Happenings

Before I forget!!  I’ve received several comments via email that are jumbled and never show up on the blog.  When I attempt to reply the it says “no reply”.  I’m not sure exactly what’s going on with this as I’m a newbie blogger, but I just wanted to let whoever it is know that I truly appreciate your comments and I’m certainly not trying to ignore you!  I will hopefully get that figured out soon, but until then, please feel free to contact me directly at HighHeels2HiddenToys@gmail.com.

So this post is going to be kinda random as things have been a little crazy around here lately… which is guess is normal for the holidays!  Here’s what I’ve been up to lately & a sneak peak at what’s to come on HighHeels2HiddenToys…

Adam and I took a quick trip to Biltmore in Asheville, NC.  We went to the winery, had dinner, and took a candlelit tour of the house.  It was absolutely beautiful and was an amazing date night!  We counted 41 Christmas trees inside the house!  I will update more later…

C and I had a major Pinterest Fail…

But thanks to Elmo we were able to turn it into a Pinterest Win!  I’ll do a detailed post later on what to do (and more importantly, what not to do!) if you want to try these ornaments next year!

I also did a little holiday baking.  I made these Chess Pie Squares.  I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t liked these… If you’re lucky I’ll share this recipe sometime 🙂

I got these super cute snowmen from the Farmer’s Market.  I think they are happy in our front yard!

I Zumba-ed with Christmas trees!  My Zumba class is held at a church, and the church had a tree decorating contest… So I got my Zumba on with some Christmas ambiance!  As I was taking the panoramic pic someone turned the light on… which is why it’s half dark and half light!

I had to make an emergency vet visit! 🙁  This is my parents’ dog, Carter.  Yesterday I was working on a mat behind his ear.  I’ve cut probably 100+ mats out of his fur before and nothing happened, but yesterday it was so tangled I cut the skin by accident.  Thankfully it wasn’t major (the vet told me over and over again this happens all the time and it wasn’t that bad…I still felt absolutely awful!), but he did have to get a few stitches.  Well last night he scratched so much that this morning he had to get re-stitched.  Now he has to wear this cone (which my brother calls the “collar of shame”).  Poor Carter!

I took some advice from my friend Sarah over at LazeLFarm and designed my own Christmas Cards!  I made them using PicMonkey and was so pleased with how they turned out!

Merry Christmas, everyone!  We’ll be out of town for a few days so HH2HT will be kinda quiet, but I’ll still check in on Instagram and Twitter!  I can’t wait to catch up with you when we get back!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

No Pain No Gain! {My Training Diary: 12/18/13}

So while I haven’t “officially” started training yet, I have made an effort to run 2-3 miles a few times a week.  It’s been a little rough because -like everyone- we’re so busy during the holidays!  We’ve been eating out more than usual and Christmas parties don’t always have the healthiest options.  I’m trying to do the best I can staying active and eating mostly well… I want to be healthy but I want to enjoy the holidays too!

On the 13th I participated in the “Fastest Mile” challenge with Elf 4 Health.  I had to start over 3 times because apparently my treadmill can’t go above level 6 without blowing a fuse.  Who knew? 🙂

Sunday I met my brother and we ran a little over 3 miles.  We did a rough trail around a lake and then a paved trail.  My brothers prefer running in parks than in a neighborhood… they say it’s less boring.  However, after 3 miles of wooded trails, I was a little tired of seeing tree after tree!  Good thing I had great company– this is one of my brothers, Rob.  He is going to do the 1/2 marathon also!

Usually I wake up in the morning and the first words out of my mouth are: Adam. Coffee. (sometimes there’s a “please” in there too).  Yesterday I woke up and was wide awake.  I decided to get in a few miles before Adam went to work.  It wasn’t too cold out and it was kinda fun running while everyone was getting ready for their day.  I saw a father waiting with his son at the bus stop.  As I passed the father yelled: No pain no gain!  This made me laugh!  I know it’s kinda silly, but I was about 2 miles in at that point and that shout out gave me a little boost!

So I’m a horrible person to shop for because I don’t want/need a ton of things, and when I do, I just buy it for myself.  I ordered this running shirt from ViewSport.  I’m so excited because it’s sweat activated so “RUN EVERY DAY” appears on the back once you’ve got your sweat on.  It’s also breathable and moisture-wicking which I looove!

I haven’t worked out yet tonight, but I plan to once we get C down for bed!

What workouts have you completed this week?  What’s on your Christmas list?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Running Story

Running is something I NEVER thought I would do, much less enjoy… and last week I signed up for a half marathon!  I’m still kinda in shock about the whole thing; signing up for a half marathon is something I never, ever, ever dreamed I’d attempt.  Let me tell you the story of how this ex-ballerina turned into a jogging stroller momma!

I spent most of my life as a dancer.  I loved dancing– and still do!  Ballet is still very much my heart.


Unfortunately, with dancing came injuries.  I dislocated my knee the first time when I was 14.  I dislocated it 4 other times between 15 and 24.  Each time I did physical therapy and my knee was okay, but it was always painful to do certain things– running being at the top of the list!  In the fall of 2011 I was having more knee problems.  I could feel it getting weaker.  I was unable to sleep because of the pain.  I made an appointment with my orthopedic doctor and on October 13 I had knee surgery.

Knee surgery was terrible!  It was -by far- the worst pain of my life.  It was worse than child birth (and my epidural wore off, so I felt everything!).  After the surgery I woke up crying and thinking 3 things over and over…

1- It hurts so bad!
2- Thank goodness it’s my left leg that hurts! (I was horrified they’d perform the surgery on the wrong leg!)
3- It hurts so bad and I want my mom!


I had a lateral release on the ligament on the inside of my knee and reconstructive surgery on the ligament on the outside of my knee.  I also had my meniscus repaired.  I had to wear this horribly ugly brace that made me look like I was part transformer (think Optimus Prime) for months and spent 12 excruciating weeks in physical therapy.  Sometimes I could cry from the immense pain and frustration.  It took 4 weeks until I could lift my leg.

I started 2012 ready to make a change.  My knee was better than ever and I was ready to begin 2012 with a bang!  And then I was thrown a curve ball…

While there’s nothing wrong with being active while pregnant, pregnancy is not the time to begin a new exercise regimen (& of course I’m not a medical doctor so make sure to discuss any exercise plan -especially while pregnant- with your physician!).  

By April of 2013 I felt like I was finally in a place where I was able to make a real change.  My knee was strong, my body was healed after giving birth, and I had finally found my groove as a stay-at-home-mom.  It was time to get active!  I decided to start running!  I chose running because it was the most efficient way to burn calories and didn’t require equipment other than a good pair of shoes.

I downloaded the C25K app and hit the pavement.  It starts with alternating walking and jogging for short intervals.  The intervals gradually increase until you are able to run 30 minutes straight.  I remember the first time I ran for 3 minutes straight.  Adam was talking to me and I had to tell him to be quiet because I couldn’t focus on talking and running at the same time!  It was rough!

Before long I was able to run 15 minutes without stopping.  Then I ran up the BIIIIIG hill in my neighborhood…

By the end of June I was ready for my first 5k.

In August I ran my second.

And on Halloween I did my third.

Before I knew it, I had fallen in love with running!  I love how running makes me feel strong.  I love driving through my neighborhood and seeing my running routes.  I love that running is something that I do with my family.  I love how it feels to stretch after a good run.  I love surprising myself at my accomplishments (last week I ran a 8:37 mile!).  I love that running is challenging… and that’s exactly what training for a half marathon will be: a HUGE challenge!

Do you like to run?  Why?  How did you get started? 
If you don’t like to run, what do you do for exercise?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Healthy Living: Staying Motivated

Once you’ve made a commitment to make a healthy change and get active (see my post on getting started here), you’ve got to stay committed to being active.  Staying motivated isn’t easy– especially during the holidays!

Here are some tricks I use to help me stay motivated!

1.  Buddy System!  This picture was taken over the summer, when my brother and I were training for our first 5k.  At this point I was beyond ready to quit!  Had my brother not been there, I probably would have.  Instead, I had a buddy and he grabbed my hand and we kept going.  We texted this picture to our other brother, and the picture motivated him to start running again.  This summer, when we were all in the same zip code, my husband, sister-in-law, both brothers, and I all ran together.  It is easier to stay on track if you surround yourself with positive people who share similar goals.
2.  Visuals!  I am a very visual person and need those reminders to help me stay active.  In our workout area, I have a bulletin board with various things to keep me motivated.  I have quotes/pictures from Pinterest, pictures of myself, and the bibs from my races.  One of my current goals is to lose 10 pounds by Christmas.  I used paper strips to make links (think what teachers sometimes do before summer/winter breaks).  Each time I lose a pound, I pull a ring off.  I realize it’s a little silly, but that visual helps keep me focused… and I absolutely love pulling rings off!

3.  Monitor Your Progress!  If you’re trying to lose weight, you can weigh and measure yourself regularly.  I do weigh/measure myself, but I don’t believe in being obsessed with numbers— I think that can be a slippery slope.  You can measure your progress in more ways than pounds and inches.  When I first started 30 Day Shred I couldn’t do a single push-up.  By the end I was able to do regular push-ups, military push-ups, walking push-ups– way more than I ever imagined!  I also like to monitor my progress by how I feel in my clothes.  I don’t care so much about the number on the tag; I want to feel confident and comfortable.

4.  Pump-You-Up-Jams.  A fun playlist can do wonders.  Sometimes I want to workout just so I can listen to new songs.  I also like the Jock Jams station on Pandora Radio.  Here’s one of my favorite playlists!

5.  Focus On The Why!  I love this one.  I’m on an email list for my Zumba class and one of the emails was about the importance of the “why.”  Instead of thinking about working out as something you have to do, focus why you want to work out.  When I don’t feel like working out, I think about why I started– I want to be healthy for my son (chasing him around the park is not easy!), I want to set a good example, I want to look good in my skinny jeans.  I want to feel confident.  Why do you want to work out?

6.  Give Yourself A Break!  It’s okay to not workout every.single.day.  It’s unrealistic to say you’ll never eat junk food ever again.  Insisting on getting the perfect workout in every day and eating perfectly clean 24/7 is not attainable.  You’ll set yourself up for failure.  It’s okay to be imperfect!

Are you going to try one of my suggestions to help you stay motivated?  How do you stay motivated?  Please share!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Save Your Sanity: Meal Planning Made Easy {Part 3-Organization}

Welcome to my third and final post about meal planning!  Hopefully after today your sanity will be saved and you’ll be a ninja in the kitchen!  If you missed my previous posts about meal planning, check out Part 1-Groceries and Part 2-Preparation.  For my last post we’re going to talk about organization and my favorite resources!

I am not a neat freak by any means, but when my physical space is cluttered, my mind feels cluttered– not a feeling I like!  In order to meal plan effectively, some level of organization is necessary.  Here are some of my favorite tips to keeping meal planning organized!

I got this organizer in the Dollar Spot at Target.  Super easy and super effective!  It helps me organize my coupons so I know what I have.  Each week I go through them and toss expired coupons.

I use this collage frame as our weekly menu.  I put scrapbook paper in the photo spaces and use a dry erase marker to write our meals for each night.  I usually do crock pot meals on the nights I go to Zumba and plan messier meals on days I know C will get a bath.  This also allows Adam and I to quickly jot down any reminders of the week or any staples we may need.

Right above the menu is a small cork board.  I use push pins to hang the recipes for the week so I can easily finish each meal.

I keep recipes I’m not currently using in a binder.  I divided it into 3 sections: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Every meal in this binder is less than 500 calories.  That way I can be conscious of my caloric intake without having to log every single bite.

Thanks to the internet we have an immense amount of information at our finger tips!  Here are some of my favorite meal planning sites!

5 Dinners 1 Hour
This website is AMAZING– definitely my favorite meal planning site!  Michelle is a busy mommy who was spending too much time in the kitchen and not enough time playing with her kids, so she created 5 Dinners 1 Hour!  You can download her sample menu plan for free.  It includes 5 recipes and the grocery list.  All of her meals are “make ahead meals” so that you do all your prep work at once!  Amazing!

Campbell’s Kitchen
Who doesn’t love something that’s Mmm Mmm good?  Campbell’s kitchen has tons of recipes that you can browse by various categories:  difficulty level, calories, or ~my personal favorite~ slower cooker meals!  You can even download the Campbell’s app and create grocery lists on your phone.

Rachel Ray: Simple Slow Cooker Recipes
No time?  Make friends with the slow cooker!  Rachel Ray has 25 amazing slow cooker recipes that will offer you variety and ease.  I especially love these meals on a cold day (my slow cooker is going right now!).  One of my favorite slow cooker meals is Rachel Ray’s Chicken and Dumplings! 

The Sneaky Chef
I just recently found this website, but I have a feeling I’ll be using it more and more as C gets pickier and pickier!  The Sneaky Chef specializes in creating healthy kid-friendly meals!  We love the Mac & Cheese!

How do you organize your coupons, recipes, and meals?  What are your favorite resources?  Please share!

I hope you enjoyed this series on meal planning and you find your sanity saved!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Save Your Sanity: Meal Planning Made Easy {Part 2-Preparation}

Welcome to Part 2 of Save Your Sanity: Meal Planning Made Easy!  If you missed Part 1-Groceries, catch up here!

Today we’re going to talk about the prep work.  I do most of my prep work for 5 days in less than 1 hour.  This is my favorite part because I love feeling accomplished after I’ve planned our meals for the week.  It makes me feel like Super Mom!  Every Monday C and I go shopping and once he’s down for a nap, I prepare my 5 meals for the week!  I can usually do both the shopping and the prepping in less than 2 hours (although it’s not always consecutive!).

I get all my ingredients, recipes, and supplies ready, and then I get busy!

I follow my recipes until it’s time to go in the oven or crock pot, then I put my meals in the fridge!

Each night I add the finishing touches.

aaaaand VOILA!
I literally pulled this meal out of the fridge, popped it in the oven, made some corn, and added some salsa & Greek yogurt (great substitute for sour cream!).  It took hardly any time!

After I prep my meals my kitchen is a mess wreck disaster.  I don’t even know the right word.  I’ll just show you the disarray…

But one of the benefits of prepping all my meals at the same time is I ~usually~ only have to deal with a majorly messy kitchen once a week.  So most of the I can attempt to keep my kitchen looking like this…

Do you prep multiple meals at once?  What kinds of recipes are good for preparing in advance?  Don’t forget to come back by for Part 3-Organization!
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