Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Candy & Workouts

I love a good chocolate candy bar!  I can hardly resist Snickers, 3 Musketeers, Resses, Butterfingers, Hershey's Bars, Twix, and so many more.  I purchased a little of most of those candies to pass out tonight to little ones.  You would think that in order for me to not eat a ton of candy that I would simply not purchase my favorites, but I don't want to pass out candy that I wouldn't have loved to get myself as a child!

I have been eating about 3 pieces of 'Fun Size' candy a day since Monday.  That's not horrible, but it's much more than my normal consumption of sweets in a single week!

I am ready for tonight with my candy bowl :)

Happy Hour Workouts, quick and simple ways to keep moving after candy!

To combat my candy cravings today, I am going to do happy hour workouts.  Every hour I am doing 31 repetitions of an exercise.  So far I have done sit-ups and push-ups.  I will likely do lunges and squats as well.  I have my timer set for 60 minutes and once it goes off, I stop working for a minute, do my exercise, and reset the timer.   

I hope you enjoy Halloween!  Please keep all the families in the Northeastern United States in your thoughts. I keep seeing the harrowing scenes on the news with floods and fires, my heart goes out to everyone affected.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Menu Monday and Pumpkin Brownies

Happy Monday!  Let's start this week off right by celebrating that where I am at we officially have fall weather!  I say hooray for cozy sweaters, boots, sweater dresses, cute coats, hats, & warm scarves (find my favorite HERE).  Also with fall comes some great comfort foods and tasty treats!  I love nothing more than a great hot cocoa (favorite recipe here), warm baked pies, crock pot meals, and savory soups.

This week I am going to start by sharing a new Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownie that I put together this weekend when our friends were over for dinner.  The mix of ooey-gooey chocolate brownies and 'pumpkin cheescake' is fabulous!

use this recipe to make your brownie mix
1/2 can pumpkin
4 oz Neufchâtel cheese (or cream cheese)
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t allspice
1/4 t nutmeg
1/2 t cinnamon
1 T sugar...
...or more if you want it super sweet, I feel the brownies are sweet enough!
Grease your pan (I like to use aout 1/4 of a T from stick butter).  Heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Make your brownie mis and put that in your pan.  Combine 1/2 a can of pumpkin, 4oz of Neufchâtel cheese (or cream cheese), and the spices in another bowl.  Then plop blobs of this mix on top of the brownie.  Cut this with a knife to swirl in pumpkin.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Enjoy!

Meal 1 - Fish TacosI wanted some veggies to go along with our tacos, so on the stove top, I warmed up some corn, peppers and beans with a little spices. I put a sliver of butter in another pan, enough to barely coat the bottom. Then I put my tilapia on that pan and sprinkled seasoning as the fish cooked on one side, flipped, and seasoned again. Served with sour cream on whole wheat tortillas.

Meal 2 - Pot Roast
One of my fall favorites! I plan on asking the butcher for the meat that will be the juiciest and most tender. I will combine that will small potatoes, onion chunks, baby carrots, sliced celery, garlic cloves, spices such as thyme and sage, and a cup or so of water to keep it from drying out. Then I will let the flavors marinate and cook all day in my crock pot (8-10 hours!)

Meal 3 - Mushroom Soup & Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches
I saw this delicious meal from a link in Pinterest.  With it, we are making Grilled Goat Cheese sandwiches - TO DIE FOR! Simply make a grilled cheese as usual, but substitute it with the goat and mozzarella instead of your normal American or Cheddar cheese.

Grilled cheese tip: we put 1/2 T of butter into a pan that's heated on medium, let that melt a little and then add in our un-buttered bread & cheese sandwich. I let that cook a little until crispy, add another 1/2 T of butter, and crisp up the other side. 
Meal 4 - Oregano Chicken & Veggies
This recipe was posted on the eMeals Blog and I have wanted to try the yummy looking oregano seasoned chicken.  I am going to serve mine with some fresh veggies.  I am going to look for some squash that has been grown at local farms (keeping my fingers crossed for some good ones!)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Never Leave Me

It's cute when your dog wants to be with you all the time.  He follows you around your house.  He sticks his nose through the door crack just to see you working.  He cries if you walk your other dog without him, even though you just walked him solo.  He wags his tail so swiftly when you come back home that you fear your walls are taking a beating.  He absolutely adores and worships you.  How could you not love this dog?
Well the dog has another personality...he absolutely cannot tolerate the idea of you leaving the house without taking him.  He has such bad anxiety that he has been known to rip open throw pillows, chew your Dyson vacuum cord, and eat your couch.  Yes, you heard me right...He has so much anxiety that he will EAT YOUR COUCH!
That is the sight my husband walked into after being away from the house for work when I was out of town.  He called me on my drive back home from a 5 day semi-vacation to East TN and said, "Do you want to know what the brown dog did?"  He then said, "I am not going to send you the picture yet, but he ate the couch." I thought he may have gotten one of the cushions.  No, he got all four of the back cushions.   

My husband gathered all the pieces and left them in my craft room so we could decide what to do next...
We had two options.  We could repair the couch cushions ourselves, or we could get them reupholstered.  I am all about taking on a challenge and doing things myself.  So, I decided I would purchase fabric and reupholster them myself.
A trip to Hobby Lobby, about $30 dollars, and 3 1/2 hours of sewing were all I needed.  Oh, and patience.  Much patience.  As I fitted and sewed, I couldn't help but think how if we only had put the dog, Walden, in daycare that day he wouldn't have been able to do this to our beautiful couch.
So first, I tried to use Under Wonder to patch holes.  Then I put the iron on the fabric, and it made a BIGGER hole.  That's when I realized stitching was needed and ironing could only be used if thick fabric was placed above the existing & destroyed fabric of the original cushion.

I ended up only patching holes in one cushion.
The other three cushions, I re-did the entire backside.  Making a stitch where the edge used to be so the cousin wouldn't be so round, but more square.
 It actually all turned out pretty well.
We ended up keeping Walden, not bringing him to the pound for his misbehavior...even though at the time I was ready to lock him out of the house!  (I could never give up either of my puppies).
Thinking about this more, I am sure Sasha had something to do with this mess, but am POSITIVE Walden was the instigator.  They both are so cute, I love them to death and have already forgiven Walden for his 'handiwork' from eating the couch this past Monday.  I am a sucker for these two!

 Do you have dogs with anxiety that leads to chewing and destruction?  Any ideas for how I could work with my dogs on this behavior?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fitness Accountability

How long has it been since I have been regularly exercising?  I think possibly since SEPTEMBER!
This morning as I picked back up on a workout posted on Tone It Up, I felt so good.  Why wouldn't this feeling of happiness and endorphins keep me coming back daily?  It's strange how something that I know feels good and is great for my health and well-being can be so easily pushed to the side. 
     "I am going to do a big workout tomorrow."
     "I don't have time today."
     "I want to hang out with friends"
     "It's time for my television show to come on."
     "I worked out really well yesterday, so I can skip today."
     "I have to cook dinner."
     "I just don't want to..."
Excuses, excuses, excuses. 
We all have excuses for why we don't workout, why we don't get our papers finished, why we don't meet a deadline, yet in most situations all we are doing (I'll speak for myself) is thinking of all the other things we want to do in lieu, or we are just being flat out lazy, or we are letting stress get the best of us.  (I typically side with the latter). 
I have blogged about this similar mindset/issue 2 other times now in the last 6 months! (See Dear Gym, I Missed You... and Personal Fitness Goals). 
I am cyclic when it comes to exercise!  Period, end of story.  I will have weeks of determination, hitting the gym, yoga mat, road, or an at home video almost ever day.  Then, I will have weeks 'off' maybe only fueling my body with a good workout 1-2 times in the entire week!  October has been one of those 'off' months. 
I would love to be more routine, but sometimes you just can't be superwoman.  I just need to remember that when I am stressed or overworked, a good workout can really cheer me up. 

Also, I need to learn to lean on my accountability partner.  What is an accountability partner?  They are someone to keep you motivated and moving in the right direction.  Accountability partners are great for your fitness accountability , financial accountability, healthy living accountability, that person who keeps you on track at work, or the one who reminds you to call into the work meetings...Thanks Emily!

For my fitness accountability partner  that is split between 4 people, 3 of which I don't even know personally!  The first person I have is, of course, my husband.  He is great at getting to the gym most times, but sometimes he literally can't fit it into his constantly changing and demanding work schedule.  Or sometimes he is like me and we BOTH find excuses not to workout!  The other 3 people are bloggers.  I love the blog Peanut Butter Fingers, Julie has some great workouts, motivating stories, and is an upbeat person.  In many of her daily posts, she describes a workout she did that morning, either talking about it or posting the full routine.  Hearing her stories inspire me to get my butt moving.  The final two people are ones you have heard me talk about a lot.  They are the girls from Tone It Up, Karena & Katrina..  They are always upbeat in their videos, they obviously have so much fun being an inspiration to women, and are passionate about fitness.  Simply downloading their monthly workout calendar or following their Blog, Twitter and Facebook feeds can be an inspiration enough to get moving.

What kind of accountability partners do you have in your life? (fitness, finance, work etc.) And who are they?

Alas, I will leave you with this image of Ramsey Falls.  My 2nd of only two workouts from last week was a beautiful fall hike up to Ramsey Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains.  The 8 mile round trip trek was sparsely traveled, full of color, and breathtaking!  (more on this hike to come once I get the pictures from my friend who went with me!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Best Banana Pudding Ever!

Ooey gooey, sweet and savory, scents of bananas, vanilla, and sugar fill the air as we bake up an amazing batch of warm homemade banana pudding!
The typical Monday on Lively Happenings opens with a post about dinners for the upcoming week.  This week will be different than most weeks.  I am going to be in East TN for part of the week, Neal has a company dinner another night, and we are only going to have one dinner together at home these upcoming weekdays.  Thus, I instead wanted to share with you one of my absolute favorite desserts.


Neal's family makes the best banana pudding ever!  Okay, so honestly, I hadn't had banana pudding until meeting his family, but now I am completely addicted.

I am obsessed with his family's banana pudding!  It's so creamy, so sweet, so warm, so rich, such a decadent dessert!  To top it off, it's easy to make!

Homemade Banana Pudding
2 Cups milk
1 Cup sugar
1 T butter
3 eggs - split the yolk from the whites
3 T flour
1 box vanilla wafers
3 bananas
1 t vanilla extract
2 T sugar
3 egg whites from the eggs that are split
In a sauce pan, combine the the milk, egg yellows, sugar, and flour on low-medium heat until thick and pudding-like.  Stir constantly and do not let it burn!
In an 8X8 pan, layer 1/2 the box of wafers, one and a half bananas sliced, half the pudding.  Then add another layer of the remaining ingredients.
Beat egg whites with 2 T sugar and the vanilla extract until they are fluffy and form 'peaks' when you drag them up with a spoon.  Place this on the top of the banana pudding layers. 
Place the pudding in the oven at 350 degrees until the top of the whipped mix is brown.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dollar Store Decor & More

I absolutely love fall!  It's, by far, my favorite season! 

Here are just of the few things I love about fall!

Cheaper Decor

After seeing the beautiful designs in Pottery Barn's catalog, I decided I wanted some Halloween decorations, but wasn't about to spend big money.  I loved their bats, the furry spider, and all the cobwebs.  However, I couldn't justify spending $22.50 to get 3 bats and another $22.50 to get 3 spiders.   Of course this looks amazing, but I couldn't spend that money.  Neal would think I was nuts!
From Pottery Barn

So instead, I made a few crafts and did some dollar store shopping! 

My First craft was to spray paint some old wine bottles with a glassy finish.  It was easy and took very little time to spray 3 coats!  And I have gotten to use these for mom's Liquor and Lace party I hosted.

I then got a skull, 3 bats, 1 bag of 'spiderwebbing' and a big spider at the local Dollar General for less than $15 dollars!  That's all the decor I wanted from Pottery Barn, plus some, for less than the cost of one set of spider or bats!


I purchased leaves at Hobby Lobby last year when they were discounted and used those to drape the blinds.

Our living room is looking pretty Spook-tastic!

I hope you are inspired to take your favorite looks and find alternative that will look for you!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yoga 4 ♥ Tonight!

I am exeptionally excited about my workout tonight, it's called Yoga 4 !  How cool is that!?  Now what exactly is Yoga 4 ?  I will copy what the host, my friend Kimberly, says about the event:

My BESTFRIEND is getting married...SO i want to get the people I LOVE all together to give back thru the POWER of YOGA.

This practice will be excepting donations to go towards the future of Mr. and Mrs.

Meet at the Riverfront by the statues. The practice will start no later then 6:15pm so we can flow with the sunset.

All levels of yoga are welcome.

I'll bring the tiki torches you bring a yoga mat, a friend, and most importantly your love ♥

Since starting the Facebook group for the event, Kimberly has posted some inspirational, beautiful, and hilarious posts!  Below are some of my favorites:

Practice this one for your BIG day
BIG THANKS to those who have already confirmed they have a BIG HEART ♥ Om is where the ♥ heart ♥ is....
We need to recreate this:
Couples who do yoga together...are inspired...breath stronger...share space...look/feel longer to love eachother...
Yoga 4 Love is almost here ♥
If you are in the Evansville area, come out to Yoga 4 ♥ tonight, arrive between 5:45-6pm at this downtown riverfront location shown here:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Menu Monday 10.8 - 10. 12

This begins another exciting week at the Bratton household!  This will be the first week in 4 weeks that we will both be at the house for the weekend!

Sometimes, I feel like I am always traveling.  That's a strange feeling when you work from home. :)  I am sure you have felt that way before.  Every week you stay busy working, and when Friday rolls around, you need to be packed up and ready to hop in the car for a long drive.  When you work from home, 20 minutes feels like a long drive! (Natalie, I am positive you can relate to this feeling even more than I!)

I am loving that it is now fall and I can be bundled up in cozy sweaters, boots, and leggings!  As I write to you today, I am wearing a cozy & chunky cable knit sweater dress I bought on sale from Victoria's Secret last year with my favorite boots and brown leggings!

Ok, so my husband admittedly doesn't take the best pictures and didn't realize the full effect of the outfit enough to get the boots in the first one... we had picture two, and Sasha wanted to join.  I am pretty sure she is 1. a diva and 2. protective of her food and thinks I am about to take the little red bowl away.

Yes, the boots are adorable so they got their picture taken twice!

Now, enough of my cute fall outfit...time for the meals:

Meal 1 - Broccoli and Shrimp Alfredo
1/2 T Olive Oil
2 t garlic
1.5- 2 cup broccoli
8oz of Shrimp
1.5 C Penne Pasta (uncooked)
these amounts are not always exact as I sometimes make more or less depending on if we are very hungry and if we want leftovers.

To make:  Cook your pasta according to package directions.  Thaw and cook your shrimp according to package directions, or get yummy fresh shrimp and cook.  With your skillet already at medium heat add olive oil, garlic, broccoli crowns and your shrimp.  Saute for a few minutes, or until warmed and flavors are saturated. 

Easy Alfredo Sauce
Low to Medium heated saucepan, combine the following:
1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 -1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Meal 2 - Balsamic and honey glazed salmon with stir fry vegetables.

This one is easy-peasy.  I mix about 2 T of balsamic with 2 T honey by shaking it together in a small jar with a lid.  I spread that onto salmon, pop it in the oven at 450 degrees for 10-14 minutes, thickness pending.  Then, I take frozen stir fry veggies and cook them according to package directions. 

Like I said, easy-peasy!

Meal 3 - My award winning White Chicken Chili!

Ok, so actually this is a Bush's beans recipe, not my own.  However, in my sorority days I use this base recipe to make a massive batch of chili for a chili competition, and it won the "Most Unique Chili" award.

I use the recipe found here and add in an extra can of chopped green chilies and about 1/4 a cup of salsa.  I cool mine down with sour cream and Neal spices his up more with more salsa.

Meal 4 - Mushroom soup with caramelized onions.  I saw this delicious meal from a link in Pinterest.  We had this last week, and it was so good, we are making it again.  With it, we had goat and mozzarella grilled cheese sandwiches - TO DIE FOR!  Simply make a grilled cheese as usual, but substitute it with the goat and mozzarella instead of your normal American or Cheddar cheese. 

Grilled cheese tip:  we put 1/2 T of butter into a pan that's heated on medium, let that melt a little and then add in our un-buttered bread & cheese sandwich.  I let that cook a little until crispy, add another 1/2 T of butter, and crisp up the other side. 

I hope you enjoy every meal you cook this week!

Friday, October 5, 2012


I have opened my Etsy shop, Lively Happenings

(click on the shope name or or here to visit!)

At Lively Happenings shop you can find delicate & intricate jewelry designed just for you.  Choose from the designs I have, or let me know your desires and I will make something unique just for you!

I use a combination of semi precious pieces like lapis, freshwater pearls, onyx and turquoise.  Thos are combined with Swarovski crystals, glass beads, leather, copper, silver, and gold plated metals.

I have been making jewelry since a youth, making gifts for family members & friends, and now I want to share my designs with more people, including you.