Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Whimsical Wisconsin

I had so much fun visiting our friends in Wisconsin this past weekend!  Bob and Natasha met around the same time Neal and I met in college.  Natasha and I are in the same Sorority, Bob and Neal are in the same Fraternity.  When I first met Natasha, I thought she was being sarcastic and making fun of southerners as she said in the prettiest and thickest southern drawl "I'm Natasha from Grundy County!"  Yes, that's right, GRUNDY County, like the John Michale Montgomery song "Grundy County Auction".  I thought 'this girl has to be $h*ting me!'  On the other hand, Bob has a thick norther accent.   They sound cute together :) Throughout the years we have taken a trip to the smokies with the boys fraternity, partook in Greek events together, celebrated engagements, weddings, their little girl's birthday, met halfway from IN and WI to hang out, and are planning on taking an all-inclusive vacation together!  Bob and Natasha became close friends of both Neal and I quickly and will remain that way for years to come!

Natasha is very creative and has her own shop on Etsy where she sells great bows for little girls, monogrammed items like these cute floppy hats, and my favorite, a Nautical Boat Book Case.  Her craftiness doesn't stop their.  Both her and Bob are great at creating items on a dime.  I became obsessed with the details at their home in a cute downtown neighborhood. 

They made this bar/potting station out of barn wood and an old door (items they got for FREE)

They created an outdoor dining section by making a great table and painting some cute chairs red. 

To compliment the dining space, they made the cutest lighting area with hanging lanterns on an old ladder system made from more free barn wood.  I was lucky enough to convince Bob and Neal to make one for our home.  I can't wait to set it up!

Natasha and her almost 2-year-old daughter have planted a little garden.  Heidi, like most kids, LOVES to play in the dirt.  :)

This is one of my favorite photos as it contains both our "babies"  Heidi is very talkative, and and while playing in her little pool, Sasha kept coming over to lick the water.  Heidi was amused and said, 'I love you....(long pause) Sasha'.  It was so sweet! 
Yes, that's a large tin pail.  As I said, Natasha is very creative and has an eye for all things unique.  We picked that up at a yard sale and it made the perfect play spot for Heidi!

One of my favorite things I did in Wisconsin was to go to Monches Farm.  This farm has the greatest gift shop and a wonderful variety of plants, many imported from Holland. 

Inside the gift shop, you can't miss the ceiling covered in dried flowers.

Outside there are numerous 'niches' including this beautiful barn used to house chickens.

Neal's favorite part of the trip was a Meat Fest with Bob's family where all the men spent hours grilling up chicken wings, brisket, bacon wrapped sausage, ribs, prime rib, and so much more.  The women of the family contributed with baked macaroni (Natasha's tasty contribution), chunky potato salad, pasta salad, American pie jello cake, and amazing butterscotch bars.  As you can see, Neal's plate consisted mostly of manly meat (there is more underneath that prime rib):

Prior to leaving, we finished up the trip with a delicious breakfast Monte Cristo sandwich with fresh raspberry jam, turkey and ham between french toast and a spiced Mayan Chocolate Latte from Perc Place

I am so glad Neal and I were able to visit Bob, Natasha, & Heidi!  It was such a fun trip, and I totally fell in love with Wisconsin.  I think I have found a new town I would love to visit more often :)
cute wall decor at Perc Place

Walden's Wild Weekend

I have never met a dog with worse separation anxiety than my sweet puppy, Walden.  He drools so much when we crate him that it takes 2 towels to clean up the mess.  He pulls items off the counter, shattering drying dishes like a glass Pyrex baking dish.  He enjoys taking flour out of the pantry and moving it all around the living room.  Also, even if we are in the house, he will sneak a slice of pizza off your plate, or just finish an entire half of a pizza and 3 chocolate chip cookies sitting on the stove top.  Now he has topped them all and finds it so difficult to let us leave without him, so he JUMPED Out a TWO STORY Window!!!

Needless to say, flying out a two story window will cause some pain. Sasha amusingly looked down from the window as Walden cried and cried and cried in pain.  We think Sasha was saying, "Glad you went first." 

His attempt at defying gravity and learning to fly occurred while were visiting friends in Wisconsin  and Walden decided we couldn't leave him behind while running errands...this is the result.  You may not be able to tell in this picture, but the paw on the left is broken in 3 places.  I have a great x-ray, but am still working on getting it opened on this computer.

Look at the poor boy as he waits to be taken care of by the vet. 

Walden got to spend the entire weekend by our side attached to the patio table sporting the lovely little wrapped splint.

And now we are home sweet home and he has his little dog bed right next to my office desk.

He is beyond spoiled...and pathetically cute :)

Walden will be in a cast for about 6 weeks.  We hope his paw heals completely and he is able to walk and run without much pain.  Right now, he gimps around adorably :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Winner Winner Rotisserie Chicken Dinner(s)

I absolutely love a good rotisserie chicken!  My father's girlfriend gave me a great book of hers and other friends recipes for Christmas, and my favorite recipe of hers is the Rotisserie Chicken Enchiladas.  I made them this past Sunday, and we have had the leftovers for lunch!  They are also great to freeze for later consumption! 

We only used a portion of the rotisserie chicken, and the rest of it went to meal number two - a peppered chicken wrap!

Back to recipe one...Rotisserie Chicken Enchiladas:
The ingredients are simple.  I added some cumin and chili pepper to ours for some more kick, not realizing I had grabbed the can of hot enchilada sauce!   Oops!

The recipe is an simple on to put together, and a true crowd pleaser!

We didn't have the smaller 6in tortillas, so I used our 12in whole wheat ones and cut them in half.

Topping them with a little extra cheese to cut down on the spicy enchilada sauce.  :)

I ate mine with some leftover salad from our game night.  Look how cheesy!

Recipe Two - Peppered Chicken Wrap
Since we didn't use all of the chicken in the enchiladas, I saved the rest to make dinner tonight.  I sauteed onion, red pepper, and yellow pepper on medium heat.  I added some honey to give it a sweet flavor! Yum!  Once the peppers were tender, I added the leftover rotisserie chicken and cooked until warm. 

I finished up the meal by putting it all on a whole wheat tortilla and adding some feta cheese crumbles!  Simple and delicious!

Do you have a good recipe for rotisserie chicken?

Dear Gym, I missed you... Sincerely, Tamara Lee

Dear Gym,

I missed you.  I neglected our sweet friendship.  Have mercy on me. 


Tamara Lee

I cannot remember the last time I went to the gym.  Was the last time really when I did my 45 minutes of cycling?  That was AT LEAST a month ago!  Shame. Shame. Shame on me. 

I haven't neglected working out in all totality,  I simply haven't been doing my workouts at the gym and I also haven't been posting all my workouts lately.  I will update my weekly workout wrap-ups at the end of this week.  It's okay that I haven't posted as much.  I am admittedly no where near perfect, but I do enjoy posting and will get into the groove of it again!

I have jumped back on board with the Tone it Up girls.  I have planned my workouts ahead for the week and I have done an alright job sticking to their workout suggestions. 

Today I started out with a 30 minute run/walk, doing half of the run at a slower pace with the dogs and the other half doing sprint intervals.  I burned a total of 293 calories.  Post work, I did 2 rounds of their Sunkissed Abs routine burning about 50 calories.  The workouts didn't end there!  Once Neal got off work, we went to the gym for a 45 minute workout.  Sadly, my heart rate monitor came unhooked while doing preacher curls, I was only able to guesstimate that I burned about 200 calories

As previously stated, I haven't gone to the gym in a while.  It felt so nice to go back, even if I do thoroughly enjoy running outside with the dogs and doing at home workouts and workout videos.  It's easy to become a hermit when I work at home...by myself...8-10 hours a day.  I sometimes have to remind myself to me social, even if that means just going to a public place like the gym where few people talk to others as most are consumed in their own workout.  

Our workout was short and sweet.  It looked roughly like the following

 (I plan on getting a better copy of this in here once I can use the desktop rather than this laptop...Neal is playing a new video game now on our desktop...joy!)

I am off to make dinner!  Happy Hump Day to you!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Game Night & Burgers on the Barbie!

Thank goodness for good friends and the weekend!  Last night's cookout and game night was a great success, very nice! (You have to say that with the Borat voice!)

Lars and Danielle joined us for some super yummy burgers & corn on the barbie, fresh salad, and homemade sangria!  Lars and Danielle (as Danielle says mostly Lars) crafted the yummy burgers and concocted the Sangria earlier in the day to let the drink soak up the flavors of apple, lime, lemon, strawberries, and other fruit!

Neal and Lars did the "Tamara" poses to mock how I always point or give a thumbs up in all my photos!  Thanks guys.

Neal made some awesome melted butter to brush on the grilled corn.  He mixes warmed butter with spices like pepper and Cayenne to give the sweet corn a swift kick. 

I contributed with a crowd pleasing salad...well maybe not the whole crowd since Neal opted to pass on my greens :(  Lars, Danielle and myself enjoyed my mix of fresh greens, red pepper, shredded carrots, feta cheese and homemade balsamic dressing. 

Homemade Salad Dressing

To make fresh and what I consider healthy dressing, you mix 2 parts balsamic to 1 part olive oil, some fresh ground sea salt, pepper and garlic to taste.  I do this in a small Tupperware container so I can easily put the lid on and shake. 

Following our fantastic dinner, we played lot of board games.  Apples to Apples, Taboo and Cranium were all played.

We noticed the cards that each of us one in Apples to Apples really described our personalities quite well!  However, since my memory is failing me, I can't recall our exact cards, just that we all had a hoot when we realized how much our cards resembled our personalities.  Danielle's cards were all those in the "sweet and kind category", Neal's were in what I will call "responsible" category with words like 'Important' and 'Tame', Lars had one card that was 'Naive', and mine were words like 'Nasty' and 'Dirty'...that's not me! ;)

Our friends Heather and Travis joined us later in the evening as we continued our game night.  I am ashamed to say that the boys kicked the ladies butts in Cranium!  I mean just murdered us!  Look at that board.  We were only half-way through when the boys pulled a solid victory!

After that, we did mixed teams in Taboo.  It was a close game, but Neal, Danielle and I pulled out a win against Heather, Lars and Travis!

I had such a great, and very late, night!  I just love the weekends!

Do you have a crowd pleasing game we should try?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gifts that Kept Coming

I would be remiss if I did not post about some of the gifts I got this year for my birthday.
My last posts have featured beautiful foods I was given such as my birthday breakfast, the AWESOME chocolate cheesecake, and my cookie cake...geeze it sure sounds like I love food, mostly CARBS and SWEETS!  I workout so I can eat!

I was given some awesome gifts that weren't food that I must share with you!

First, my great friend Hope made me a very lovely copper bracelet in her metal class.  I have worn this bracelet basically every time I have dressed up since receiving it!  Hope is the most creative person I know.  She made our invite to our wedding and she is currently working with me on the invite to my mother's wedding. (It's going to be super cute!)

My friend Natalie not only wined and dined me at Nama, she also gave me a belated Christmas gift!  SO stinking cute if I do say so myself!  We discussed that my hat and scarves might have to go with me on my Teton mountain climbing adventure!

Kellie, one of my oldest friends, got me a variety of gifts. The bag was very heavy!  She was creative and thoughtful in her choices.  The gift was put together SO beautifully, and had many individually wrapped presents.  Each had a cute note attached to it. Here are a few pictures I took while opening this on dad's dock!  

The note attached to this 'relaxation' gift said something about work is stressful enough and I deserve to treat myself! True dat!

This one was my 'What a fashionista' gift and included jewels to bling things up, a summer scarf, animal print socks (I am obsessed with funky socks) ans some unmentionables ;)

She put together stationary, a letter opener, my initial necklace that matches my stationary, a receipt organizer (mentioning my role model Dave Ramsey!), and the cutest sun glass case:

And of COURSE she couldn't forget how much I LOVE working out!  I was THRILLED when I opened this part of my gift!  Who doesn't love great headbands a new workout DVD!?  (this one rocks btw!)
Kellie and I both love quotes, so to finish the gift off, I opened this book full of friendship quotes and this is the quote we opened to on the dock.

I feel very blessed to have such thoughtful and giving friends.  I sure miss everyone in TN to pieces, but ya'll are always in my thoughts and in my hearts.

Good Morning Beautiful!

Ahhhhh! I love the way early morning workouts make me feel!  I have a sense of collected calm knowing I don't have to try to find time for a workout after work.   I also enjoy the energy I get from working out early.  I feel awake and motivated to start my day!  One thing I am still working on, however, is that dragging feeling I get in the middle of the day around 2pm.  It seems like every time I do a morning workout, I am actually MORE tired by the end of the workday...maybe it's because I don't have a workout to look forward to that motivates me to get my work finished...hmmm  I will have to remember this!

Neal's alarm buzzed, and buzzed, and buzzed, and buzzed until finally at 5am, after the alarm being put to sleep multiple times, I decided to get up! At first I was just going to shower, make breakfast, and start working before my 8am dentist appointment.  Then, I realized this was an opportune time to do a workout!  I know if I started working, I would be all riled up and antsy to get back to work while at the dentist, and that's something I don't want to be with sharp cleaning objects in my mouth.  So I leashed up the dogs and took them for a 15 min easy jog. 

Sasha and Walden were the HAPPIEST mutts when I put their leashes on this morning! I just love the adorable smile Sasha gets when she's excited!  I need to capture a good picture of her and her happy puppy face, but she's just too excited when I try to take pictures of her smiling and they all look like a blur of fur. Instead, here's a cute picture of both our mutts looking mischievous :)

After our jog, I tried a new DVD, "Billy Banks Taebo Insane Abs, my sweet friend Kellie gave me for my birthday.  It was about 40 some minutes of standing and floor abs! It said you could burn up to 800 calories or more, but I must have not worked hard enough because with my jog included, I only burned about 448 caloriesWhich I think is great, but no where near 800! 

I followed up my workout with some super yummy steel cut oats, strawberries, and honey!

Today started out beautiful, and is ending in just the same manner!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Celebration Continues...!

Where have I been!? 

I have neglected you!?

I have been busy, that's all!  These 50 hour work weeks and visits to see friends and family have taken up my free time.  Not all of it's been too bad either.  I have been getting overtime (we are saving up for a big purchase!), I have gotten to see people I only see a few times a year, and I have been traveling!  I have stayed busy! 

I didn't get to finish up posting about my Birthday celebrations, which were fabulous, so I wanted to wrap all of that up!

Neal and I made an awesome Birthday dinner of Sweet Potato Hash Browns and Coconut-Breaded Chicken.

My friends, Lars & Danielle, made me the MOST spectacular Chocolate Cheesecake!  I ended up making some berry sauce to go along with this by heating up berries and a little corn starch on the stove top (not pictured).

Early May is Starbucks Happy Hour with 1/2 Price Frappucinos.  I got to go twice!  The photo below is from the first time.  Neal ordered the Chocolate Cookie Frappucino and I ordered a White Chocolate Mocha Frappucino with a shot of Raspberry.  Mmmmmm!  Served with a spectacular coffee cake.

Oh yes, and you know what else happens in early May?  CINCO DE MAYO!  Neal, Lars, Danielle and I celebrated twice.  The first time at a Mexican Restaurant, and the 2nd time at our house with homemade fresh fruit margaritas!  So super yum!

I traveled to East Tennessee to hang out with friends and family.  I got an AWESOME copper bracelet that my friend hand crafted for me.  My father and his girlfriend picked up a cookie cake, and we got to watch "We Bought a Zoo", all on my first night in town!

I have been enjoying my time in East Tennessee.  I love the weather here and I just love being at my dad's house.  Who wouldn't want to wake up to this every day?!

I hope you are having a terrific week!