Thursday, May 24, 2012

Guess Who is Back Again?!

That's right. ME!!!  It's amazing how quickly 5 months fly by.  Quite a few big events went down, so I will probably just re-visit them as recap posts in the future.  

Here's what's happening now.

I'm reading: Danielle LaPort's The Fire Starter Sessions and am absolutely in love with her incredibly authentic voice.  She is the real deal.  About as raw and weird as they come.  And for me, the more weird (true to self), the better.

I'm loving:  Josie Maran Argan Oil.  Maybe I'm a bit gimmicky, but if my mind tells me that natural, 100% pure product is good for my skin and hair, then I believe it.  This stuff is da bomb dot com.  I first heard of Josie Maran, over at A Cup of Jo.   See Summer Essentials post for other note-worthy summer tips!

I'm working towards:  My CPT. That's right, my certificate in personal training.  It's time to stop wanting and start acting.  This is just the beginning, and I cannot wait to continue creating my path based on how I want to feel.   After much thought, hours of research,  and recommendations from friends and strangers, I decided to go with NASM.  My goal is to study and take the test by August 15th, my 25th birthday.   Courtney over at Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life has a helpful post on her certification journey.

cheesy tourist photo cued by Javier. Look how strong he is, holding up that tree!!!

I'll be back soon.  For now, check out this these throwback pictures of my mom.   She turned 55 in February so we had a little get together and watched a slideshow that I put together.  Everyone wanted to watch it again and again.  It was neat seeing all the reactions and hearing the memories these photos brought out.

late eighties fashion = cool hand me downs for me...obviously

hot mom alert

Need that dress!

Could my brother be any cuter? No.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rise and Shine Quick Circuit

I am a huge fan of efficiency.  Spending the least amount of time to maximize the results.  Circuit workouts are my friend for that very reason.  They are fast, effective, and get you sweatin in no time at all.  You'll also see that I am a huge fan of workouts that can be completed virtually anywhere.  All you'll need for this workout is something around 1-2ft high that you can use for dips - a couch, side of coffee table, bench, etc.  After a quick walk with the pup, all I had to do was shove the coffee table over to turn my living room into a workout space.

Here is what the circuit looked like:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Gaga for these Sausage and Shrooms

And I'm not the only one.  These Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms received a great deal of attention from ladies and gentleman alike.  Darn, I regret not taking a picture of these guys.  I meticulously planned the hors d'oeuvre menu for our New Years party at my family's lakehouse (pictures coming soon!)  and regret not tripling this recipe.  Everyone wanted to know what was in it, and they were gone in literally less than five minutes.  And the best thing about them, is the fact that they can be made ahead of time, up to the day before.   Here are a few changes I made to the recipe: increased sausage to 4 links, used 3-4 cloves fresh minced garlic instead of garlic powder, roasted the mushroom caps for about 10 minutes before filling with stuffing.

My partner in crime helped me with all food for the shindig, and we had so much fun in the kitchen.  Speaking of my little twinster, here is a picture from her and Willy's engagement party that I never posted.

To me, the best times are often times spent in the kitchen sitting on the countertop with a glass of wine and just cooking and chatting away.  Here are two other favorites we made while doing just that.
  • Mozzarella SkewersMozzarella Skewers 
    ½ lb bocconcini
    1 bunch of basil (use only the leaves)
    2 dozen grape tomatoes, halved
    1 dozen yellow or orange bite sized tomatoes, halved (added color/presentation)
    ½ cup olive oil
    ½ lemon, juiced
    salt and pepper to taste – about ¼ teaspoon of each

    2 dozen skewers- 6 “ would be ideal

    1.     Skewer 1 tomato half, a bocconcini wrapped in basil leaf, a yellow/orange tomato half, bocconcini wrapped in basil leaf, and end with a grape tomato half with the flat side at very bottom of sharp part of skewer
    2.     Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until just combined.
    3.     Lay the skewers in a baking dish and drizzle the lemon/olive oil mixture all over the skewers.
    4.     Cover and allow them to sit 1-2 hours before serving

    With the flat end of tomato at bottom, stand these guys up on a simple glass serving platter and they make for an awesome display.    

Let's talk adult beverages. Because we made one for our signature NYE drink that I will likely serve over and over again, it was that good!  The basic thought was to take your traditional New Years libation (champagne) and put some sort of twist on it.  Enter our Prosecco Cool Cocktail.

image courtesy of St. Germain

Prosecco Cool Cocktail

Directions:  Fill a champagne flute about 3/4 full with Prosecco and top with St. Germain.  Wrap mint leaf around  cucumber slice and secure with a festive toothpick. Add more cucumber slices/mint if desired and enjoy!

Have you ever tried St. Germain?

A few summers ago, my friend Andi introduced me to St. Germain, and I have been smitten ever since.  If you have never tried it, I strongly urge you to!  You really can't go wrong with adding this to any drink, but here are a few ideas.
  • St Germain Cocktail: put a few ice cubes in cocktail glass. Add equal parts St. Germain, club soda, and prosecco (or champagne)
  • St. Germain vodka soda: add a splash in your vodka soda to liven it up with some sweetness
  • St. Germain Margarita:  This is my one and ONLY secret recipe, so let me just say that adding St. Germain to your margarita is not something you will regret doing
And I just found this recipe, which I will report back on after testing it out.  How stinking good does this look?!
So is 1:00 pm too early for a taste test?  #getthepartystarted

Dia del Amor  (recipe courtesy of The Hair Pin) 
2 parts Reposado tequila (I like Espolon)
1 part St. Germain
3/4 Freshly squeezed lime juice
2 dashes hot sauce
Chili salt (you can make this by mixing sea salt and dried chili flakes)
Directions: Shake and strain into chili salt-rimmed rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

It's time to enjoy this gorgeous sunny Saturday in Austin!! 


Friday, January 13, 2012

2011 Recap: Simplify

My word of 2011 wasn't determined before the new year.  Or at the new year.

Without realizing it,  2011 became a whirlwind.  A force that created discomfort, mixed things up, and ultimately inspired change.  It wasn't until the end of July when the dust finally settled that I was able to take a look.  And reflect.  I could finally step outside the trees and see the forest.  Subconsciously, I had been simplifying during all of the madness and it was probably what kept me semi-sane.  See one of my favorite blogs, Zen Habits for lots of life-changing material.

2011 was a year of personal growth.  I faced situations that could've had very different outcomes should I have chosen the easy path.  The path of least resistance.  The path you take when you fear the change or the difficulty involved.  Or you fear the possible end result, and that perhaps you made a mistake in your choice. But guess what....wherever you are, in THIS moment, you are supposed to be.  Whether to confirm that you are in the right place or realize that you are not.  But you had to go in order to find out.

2011 Top 10:

1. Traveled to Costa Rica. First time to surf. First time getting stitches.
2. My best friend got married in Santa Fe, NM

3. Celebrated my sister's 21st Birthday in Las Vegas
4. Met new, life-long friends
5. Said see you soon to close friends moving out of state
6. Witnessed engagements of really special people
7. Ran my first race
8.  Big win with scoring my new job
9. OU Weekend
10. Big Adventures to new places: Costa Rica, Boston, Santa Fe, Chicago,  Rochester, New Orleans, Santa Barbara

Breathe. Go Slowly. Be Present.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"I will see it when I believe it"

I wanted to start with that quote that a really special friend of mine told me earlier this month.  His name is Sean Clancy, and he is basically a jedi.  There will have to be a post dedicated to him because there is just too much to say.  But the point is, when you condition yourself to believe that anything you want out of life is possible, then you will end up living the life you deeply want and choose to live.  I have been repeating this mantra to myself ever since he shared it with me... feel free to think about what it means to you.

See what he has to say on positive self-talk and programming the mind:  Sean Clancy talks mindset

This actually takes me back to a memory from elementary school.  As I stood at the free throw line my dad had measured and marked with a strip of duct tape, I listened to his words.  "Rachel, before you even shoot the ball, I want you to vision that ball going in the net".  He said, "close your eyes. And in your head, picture that ball going in the net."  I did. And it worked.  And he constantly reminded me of this method in various aspects of my life.  Envision the soccer ball going in the goal.  Close your eyes and picture it.  Envision getting that test back and getting an A.  He was the one who first instilled this sort of concept of taking a mental picture of the result you want and how crucial it is in achieving your desired results.

Here's a little picture story of recent Dad times. He too will have a dedicated post.

Repeat the mantra often and affirmatively.  "If I believe it, I will see it".

A few years ago, I was part of the masses who choose the new year to evaluate and make changes, essentially "starting fresh" with my new years resolutions.  I was also part of the flood to the gym in January, essentially fooling myself that this would be a lifestyle change.  I no longer make new years resolutions.  For me, it is necessary to constantly be aware of what is working and what is not to make changes as I go along.  I evaluate my life often and intricately and tweak as needed.   While pressing on the new years resolutions, I will choose a word of the year.  A word I will look to and stick to in order to create my big picture, never ending word: balance.  More on that in another post. For now, know that my word of 2011 was simplify and my word of 2012 did not come to me until this morning.


It is a verb.  Next post will tell more. But for now, here is 2011 in pictures.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dazed and Confused

After this weekend's whirlwind of fun and activities, that is how I felt.  But most of the time, it is what I think of every time I turn around to see Kayda's expressions in the car.  She starts out very alert and excited. Wondering if this trip will lead her (it's all about her, it's never me going somewhere) to the dog park to play with friends and fetch balls from the lake or maybe home to my parents house in Katy to play in the pool or huge back yard.
pup loves swimmin!

No matter where we are going, one thing is for sure- about 10 minutes into the ride the gets this real serious look on her face and glazed over eyes.  Kind of like a little kid who is so exhausted but forces himself awake so he doesn't miss out on anything fun.

does this face look serious to you?

Besides that, here is a quick recap to my weekend! We packed up the car to drop Kayda off with my mom at our lake house, before heading out to a log cabin in Kingsland, Texas to celebrate my cousins's 30th birthday.  We are a close knit family, so naturally most of my cousins were there. We had a blast!

My cousin and new Mama!!!
This kind of scared me.  Dogs in the country don't do safety.

We stayed out there until Sunday afternoon when we had to pack up and head back to Austin. I'll add more pictures of the cabin later, because it was really neat.  Then it was off to Papa Noel to pick up the tree.  The selection was pretty awful, and I guess that is what we get for waiting so long to get our tree.  Sitting here with the lights on, I am thankful to at least have a tree and a house filled with that unique smell that simply cannot be replaced by any candle or scent.  Real Christmas trees are the!!!

And what is Christmas tree smell, if not accompanied by baking cookies?? I finally got around to Day 2 of Christmas cookies and made some Mexican Wedding Cookies.  My mamaw makes these every year for Christmas, but calls hers "sand tarts".  They are delicious!!!! I got so carried away baking that I forgot to snap more pictures. 

 I have something to confess. My last run, Friday, was miserable.  I hurt after 5 minutes and nearly turned around before convincing myself that sometimes runs are not fun and they hurt and that I just needed to get through it, and 30 minutes was so temporary in the grand scheme.  So 30 minutes of self talk, mantra repetitions, and grimaced faces probably offensive to passer-bys, I was done and thankful.  Naturally, I had some fear for this long run (originally scheduled for Sunday, but Hal didn't have weekend party animals in mind when drafting his training plan)  and was dreading feeling as awful as I did during Friday's run.  With a little encouragement, I forced myself out the door yesterday with the intent on running 4 miles.  I really got into the swing and ended up running over 5.  It was actually a very zen run throughout my neighborhood of beautiful homes and equally impressive Christmas lights.  It reminds me that sometimes, after a "bad run" you've just got to get out there and do it again.  So you can see that it's just a part of the cycle. And that those runs happen way less often than the ones where you do feel awesome.  

Namaste, people. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 1 of 12 Days of Cookies:Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Dog Cookies

Let me eat some dough!
I have been inspired by several other blogs to attempt 12 Days of Cookies.  Lately all I have felt like doing is baking, so this will be a good opportunity for the cookie monster to share.

    question: Who never tells me no when I ask if she wants to play? Or go for a run? Or hang out in    general? And who is always excited to see me in the morning, or when I come home from work? Or when I leave and re-enter a room??

     answer:  Kayda!!! So she will be the (sole) recipient of my first round of cookies.

cute cookie cutter

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Cookies


  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Whisk together the flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add water as needed to help make the dough workable, but the dough should be dry and stiff. Roll the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick roll. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until hard, about 25 minutes.
Recipe courtesy of

Instead of whisking, I threw all of the ingredients in a large bowl and beat on medium for a few minutes. It eventually got too thick, so I finished up kind of kneading with my hands before rolling it out.  These cute cookie cutters can probably be found just about anywhere this time of year.

I'm gonna take Kayda's word on these cookies and pass on a taste test.  Judging by her wagging tail, these must be pretty darn good.