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No Thanks to Cake: 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012

Saturday, December 31, 2011

So Long, Twenty Eleven

I feel like the end of such a great year deserves a post all of its own.  A fine salute to one of the best years in my adult life is in order.  

I must say, the fact that I'm starting off the year about 60 lbs. lighter is the icing on the cake (or should I say the dressing on the salad?)  

So without further ado, I present you with my greatest hits for 2011!

My Favorite Posts of 2011

ONEderland, I've Arrived - I was SO proud to create this post.  Achieving that "below 200 lb." weight was a huge landmark this year.  PS...Having Hannah Curlee (Biggest Loser Runner Up, Season 11) leave a comment left me truly starstruck.  

365 Days Later - Successfully achieving my first year of healthy living in November and being able to reflect upon this awesome journey is what this post is all about.  There's some awesome before/after shots too.  I love those!

Travel and Dining Out Tips - This was probably my biggest challenge this year.  I honestly didn't know how in the heck I was going to maintain my travel schedule and still lose weight.  This post is powerful to me because it shares how I figured it all out!

My Favorite Recipes of 2011

New Recipe: JC Chicken Fajita Quesadilla -  An overwhelming majority of you guys loved this recipe, making it my most popular post of 2011!  For those of us on JC, volumizing can be the key to staying on track!  If you haven't tried this recipe yet... You totally should!

New Recipe: Sinful Peanut Butter Tagalong Trifles - This recipe may sound like a mouthful and looks complex, but I promise it's super-easy.  I'd also say it was one of the most fun things I made all year.  

New Recipe: Crusted Honey Mustard Chicken - This is one of those recipes where you feel like you're cheating, but you're definitely not.

New Recipe: Low Fat Red Wine Tomato Vinaigrette - I love this one because everyone needs a good lowfat salad dressing.  This one surprised me by being AMAZING and is one of my all-time faves now.

My Favorite Trip Posts this Year
I was VERY lucky to get to travel to MANY different places this year.  It would be impossible to pick just one, but I'd have to say that my trips to Montelucia and the Cape were some of the most relaxing. 

And trips to Chicago, OhioNashville, and Florida offered me great time with friends and family. 

I also had a lot of my favorite people visit ME in Colorado!  It was such a fun friend-and-family-filled year... the best!

As I wrap up the year, for the first time in MANY years, I'm proud of how I spent my 2011.  I'm also so happy that all of you have spent the year with me as well.  Losing weight isn't easy; I gain so much support from your comments and the tips you share.  "Weighing in" with you guys a few times a week helps keep me grounded and on track.  I can't thank you enough.

Wishing each of you a fantastic New Year's Eve.  I can't wait to see what's up next in 2012!  It's going to be another big year for all of us!  CHEERS!


Friday, December 30, 2011

New Recipe: Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Yesterday was MUCH more in line with what I expected to get done during my time off.  I always take a lot of time off this time of year, and this year I believe I set a record.  My last day of work was December 21st, and I'm not headed back to work until January 3rd.  

I made a list of to-do's that I never have time to get around to.  I happily checked off quite a few items on the list.

Install wireless internet at home.  CHECK!
Meet with a trainer at the YMCA to learn how to use the weight machines.  CHECK!
Take down the Christmas tree.  CHECK!

Today's list is not nearly as fun (as it involves me getting dressed and wearing make-up - - the horror!!!)  In the end, my list will get smaller, so I suppose I'll suffer through it.  Besides, it always feels so great to start the year with everything organized, so it's worth it.

I also have an AWESOME new recipe to share with you today.  You're seriously going to love this one.  It comes from Weight Watchers' All-Time Favorites cookbook and is yet another recipe that my sister-in-law Beth shared with me. 

This one is soooo good.  The balsamic vinegar you add at the end makes SUCH a big flavor difference.  So good!

From Weight Watchers' All-Time Favorites
Serves 8


1 1/2 pound boneless beef bottom round (or london broil)
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 lb. new potatoes, quartered
1 (16-oz) bag baby carrots
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup fat free beef broth
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crumbled
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt


1.  Mix the beef and flour together in a zip-lock plastic bag. Shake the bag to coat the meat.

2.  Place the beef and flour mixture, carrots, potatoes, onions, wine, thyme, and garlic in the slow cooker.

3.  Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours, until all is tender. Stir in vinegar and salt for the final finish.

PER SERVING: CAL: 213; FAT: 4g; SODIUM: 147mg; CARB: 22g; PROTEIN: 2g

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

What's in My Fridge?

Yesterday was one of those days that I wouldn't exactly call productive.  

I did some grocery shopping and laundry, but other than that there was a lot of time spent on the couch and a little too much time spent in the bed... 

I'll also say that coming back from the holidays is NOT the easiest.  Meaning, I've had a few bites of fudge and eaten Beth's famous braciole. I even ate biscuits and gravy on this trip home!  Admittedly, I've crossed over to the dark side temporarily, but I'm home safe now. 

The best way for me to get back on track is to get together a plan of action - - and make sure I have plenty of healthy snacks on hand!  While I did VERY little yesterday, I knew I needed to peel myself off the couch and get my butt to the grocery store.  I think I have a LOT of good ingredients for healthy eating this week.  So, I'm giving you an exclusive peek!

Inside the Fridge

Knowing that I was inviting people to visit, I should have straightened up the fridge a little… but knowing we’re all friends, I’m assuming you won’t judge.

Top Shelves:
  • Honeycrisp Apples - Is there a better apple out there?  I think not!
  • Reduced Fat Buttermilk - You should see this guy featured in a WW recipe over the next few days. Stay tuned!
  • Skim Milk - A staple - - A girl needs her calcium!
  • Brita Water Pitcher - Another staple.  It's been in my fridge since college.  Seriously.
  • Marinating Chicken - I'm going to grill this chicken up for salad lunches over the next few days.  I have it marinating in Fat Free Italian Dressing -- Yum-o!
  • Very old Red Bull - From my housewarming party 2.5 years ago.  Do you think it's expired? (Throwing it out immediately)
Middle Shelf:
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray - Great alternative to butter, and delish on Mashed Cauliflower!
  • Cherub Grape Tomatoes - I bought these for salad, but I bet they get eaten before they ever swim amongst lettuce.
  • Roasted Garlic - Because it's the best and is added to everything I eat.
  • My Favorite Veggie Dip - I've posted the recipe here.  It's my go-to for veggies and dip!
  • Israeli Vegetable Salad - I found this recipe for a tasty cucumber and tomato pico de gallo-like salad on Pinterest and made it tonight.  So tasty!  Planning to eat it with that marinated chicken I mentioned above.
  • Sugar-Free Jello and Natural Applesauce cups - Again, great handy snacks.
  • Laughing Cow Cheese - Excessive amounts in the drawer, but you REALLY need all flavors on hand at all times, don't you??
Bottom Shelf:
  • Thomas 100 Calorie Multi-grain English Muffins - This sounded like a fun alternative for breakfast.
  • Cut Cauliflower and Cucumbers - These are for that veggie dip.  I've already enjoyed some tonight!
  • Crockpot Ready to Fire Up This Morning - I pre-prepped my dinner for tonight.  I'll add a few ingredients this morning and then voila!  This is an old fave WW recipe.  Stay tuned for details....
  • Diet Sodas - I rarely drink them, but they're there....
In the Crispers:
  • Onions - Again, they go in everything.
  • Tomatoes - Because I always have good intentions with salads, even though most are just butter lettuce and dressing. 
  • Brussels Sprouts - For roasting this week.
  • Butter Lettuce - I bought 2 bags because I love it so.
  • English Cucumbers - If you love cucumbers, try Costco.  Their prices are so great on the English variety!

With all these healthy options on hand, I know that I've set myself up for success and I'm planning to bounce back nicely from the holidays.  I've got my eyes set on my 75 lb. reward, which hopefully will be here in time for my birthday next week!

QUESTION:  What's in your fridge these days?  What do you need to get back on track post-holidays?

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Travel Fun – Westbound Edition

Oh, I enjoyed my Eastbound travel SOOOO much more than the Westbound travel.  Even with the flight cancellations and 18 inches of snow, round one was SO much better than round two.

Leaving King Hayden behind didn't make it any easier...
It started early.  I was at the airport by 8:45am and ready to fly.  My plane, however, arrived late.  This created a super-tight connection in Dulles - - 18 minutes.  The gate agent was "sure" I could make it because the gate was "just down the hall."

When we landed in Dulles, we literally had 15 minutes to get off the plane and get to the gate.  I decided to run for it, thinking I could surely make it.  Um, that was the longest "hall" of my life.  I arrived at D15 out of breath and there was a plane I could see out the window but couldn't get to.  

That meant I had an additional 3 hours in Dulles to kill.  What to do, what to do.  After I caught my breath, it became entertaining.

It was about 12:30pm, so it was time to get my lunch on.  Airports have TONS of choices, and conveniently there was a Subway RIGHT next to the gate I ran to.  That seemed like the right thing to do, but I really wanted this....

Beth's Famous Patriotic Turkey Dinner Leftover Panini - - Just one more bite of stuffing is all I wanted!
I even debated walking down the concourse to see what other healthy options were around.  Surely, there was something.  I think we both know that would have led me astray.  So, I walked back down to Subway and ordered a sandwich. 

I splurged a little and got the Chicken Teriyaki sammie instead of my usual Veggie Delite.  It was AWESOME.  I also added a local topping to the sandwich that I'm now officially in love with.

Check out that hot pepper relish!?  How do I get that in Colorado?  Must find a recipe!
After lunch, I had 2 hours and 40 minutes remaining.  Hmmmm... How convenient that the Subway was right across the hall from this place...

Now, I certainly didn't need a 10 minute manicure, as I was trying to kill time.  I went with the Travel manicure and got it done in Essie's Barefoot and Topless color.  Just a light natural pink.  So cute!

The crazy part about the quick mani is that the guy who did my nails was totally a psychic!  So fun!  We talked about my future and Chinese New Year.  Apparently, I'm a Dragon after YEARS of believing I was a Snake per chinese restaurant placemats.  Also, per his prediction, this blog should be peppered with info about my new man in the new year (when he decides to appear.)

It's the year of the Dragon this year.... quite appropriate if you ask me!
I finally caught my flight and arrived happily in Denver about 5:00pm.  Hmm.... but where-o-where was my bag?  Apparently 3 hours wasn't long enough to get my bag on the plane, so United put it on a later flight.  

The "good" news was that they would deliver it to my house between 9pm-1:30am.  My bag arrived at 3:45am.  

I stayed up until 1:30am to open the door, but there was no way I'd have made it until 3:45am.  The good news is that my bag is here, the laundry is spinning, and I've got these folks on the TV

Thanks, USA, for expecting me to need chick flicks today!
I do have plans to get to the gym at some point today as well.  I look like I'm up 1.5 lbs from vacation and it's time to work those off!!!

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Monday, December 26, 2011

New Recipe: Our Favorite Taco Salad

And, just like that.... Christmas was GONE!

After all that shopping, all that wrapping, and all that anticipation, it vanishes so quickly!

Trampoline Fun
We had a great time here in Virginia.  My niece and nephew proved themselves to be EVEN cuter than last year at Christmas time.

Before opening presents...
Our little Hugh Hefner in his Star Wars pajamas
But, now, it's time to get serious... and to get back on track.  I've got one more day until I travel home.  Once I get home, the Y and I will be friends once again.  Working to burn all the extra calories from a midnight snack of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy... and all the cocktail weinies I ate at a friend's Christmas party.

Until then, I offer you one of my family's FAVORITE recipes. We ate it on Christmas Eve; we ate it on the Cape this summer.  We always eat it!

It's simple.  It's easy.  It's a crowd-pleaser.  You'll love it!


Hey Y'all, This is the ONLY known butter-free Paula Deen recipe in existence.
I heard you gasp.  I know, I know.  When you think of Paula, you think of decadent, Southern, butter-dripping delights... but this one is COMPLETELY butter-free and can be made healthy!  I promise, you're safe!

If you're feeling slug-like and glued to the couch, this is an easy recipe to help you feed your remaining guests and feel like you're still indulging (even though you're not.)

Below you'll find our very own healthified adaptation of this tasty salad.

Adapted from Food Network


  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 8 oz. reduced fat cheddar cheese, cubed or shredded
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, washed, drained and torn
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey, browned, crumbled, drained, and rinsed
  • 1 cup light Catalina salad dressing
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained (optional)
  • 1 (7-ounce) bag Baked Doritos
  • 1 cup salsa

Combine the tomatoes, cheese, onion, lettuce, and ground beef in a large bowl. Add the salad dressing and mix well. Just before serving, add the Baked Doritos, tossing to combine with other ingredients. Top each serving with salsa and kidney beans. Serve in bowls.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Cool Present Under the Tree

I shopped pretty quickly this year.  I knew what I wanted to get most of the family this year, so it made it pretty easy (aside from my step-dad who I'm sure will be only slightly amused by what I got him.)

My brother's gift is probably the one I'm most excited to see tomorrow.  He's a big fan of beer, so I decided to send him some from a popular brewery in Utah.  It has a funny name and funny t-shirts to go with, so it was an easy choice.

I bought him a six-pack and shipped it to Virginia a few weeks ago.  I also got him T-shirt that I'm pretty sure he'll love with the slogan... "Bring some home for the Wives."

How do you wrap beer though?  I could wrap each individual bottle, but that's boring.  Instead, I found the cutest idea on Pinterest!


So, I might be the worst aunt ever for involving my niece and nephew in this.... but it's not like they drank any! But they were my little elves in this crafting project for sure!

Hailey got involved in the action
Hayden and I tag teamed to create a few of the deer.
Adorable, right?
Can't wait to see what he thinks of it... the kids and I are pretty excited!  If you want to make your own Reinbeer, click here for the site that gave me my inspiration.

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Christmas Eve Eve

After escaping the cold of Colorado, I was PLEASANTLY surprised to find that Virginia's weather was mild and WARM.  It's been in the 60s for the past two days!  Amazing!

We've been visiting and doing last minute holiday prep - - wrapping, cooking, decorating, and enjoying the kiddos. I've also been out SHOPPING TWICE.  I've been to the mall, to Sam's, and (seriously) to Wal-Mart.  I've also been here...

My brother's FANCY gym
We did a pretty heavy workout yesterday.  We did a full hour at the gym (which I don't usually do) and I tried out all the cool new cardio machines this place had.  They had a few that I'd never used before, like one that looked like a recumbent bike but had pedals like an elliptical and handles for arm workouts, too. 

When I got back to the house, I joined my niece and nephew on the trampoline for some bouncing good fun.  Honestly, it was so much fun!  I can't wait to get back out there with them!

After all this working out and bouncing around, I was DEFINITELY ready for some holiday cheer!  Last year, I didn't drink hardly at all.  I had maybe 2 glasses of wine because I was so early on in my journey.  A year later, I've decided it would be ok to indulge a little.  Especially after such a great workout.

With this line-up of wines, how could I really resist?
Dinner was uh-mazing: Beth's famous braciole (steak stuffed with garlic, cheese, and breadcrumbs.)  Click here for this decadent recipe.  WAY off plan, but nice to actually eat it this year.  We make this every year, and last year I ate JC Spaghetti and Meatballs while everyone else ate this...

Beth's Amazing Braciole with Bucatini

Delicious, Delicious Dinner....

 Fun Company and lots of holiday cheer...

The kids had a blast and offered a fashion show!  What a fun night!

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Travel Fun – Eastbound Edition

Holiday travel season is in full swing, and I was right smack in the middle of all the action yesterday.

If you’ve seen the news (or follow this blog), I’m sure you know that Denver got hammered by a winter storm yesterday.  Accumulation was between 10-14 inches throughout the city - - so crazy!

When I woke up on Thursday morning at the Courtyard, I found a United Rebooking notice.  My friends at United had cancelled my flight to DC, and rebooked me on a later flight to Richmond via Newark.

It was 5:30am when I saw this email, so I did what every smart girl does.  I reset my wake-up call for 8:00am, rescheduled my seat on the airport shuttle for 9:00am and rolled back over in the bed.  When I woke up at 8:00, I checked my flight status to find that the new flight had also been delayed… with a new flight time of 2:10 pm! 
I’d already woken up twice and seen light by this point a few times…. It was time to get up.  I had plenty of time, so I decided to do what was good for my bod.  I hit the hotel gym!

The gym was REALLY nice.  Two ellipticals, two treadmills, and a recumbent bike - - But the room had lots of natural light and I could see all that snow that had fallen.  There was also a flatscreen TV with all the news coverage of the storm.  When I was in the gym, the news reported nearly 150 flights had been cancelled in Denver that morning.  So crazy.

Mine was still a-go, so I worked out steadily for about 45 minutes and headed upstairs to get ready for this day of travel.

My carry-on feels like it weighs a million pounds, but I also travel like I’m planning to entertain a 3 year old from 30K feet.  I had my Macbook, my iPad, my Rebel, some knitting, an iPod, and two magazines.  REALLY??? A girl has to have options!!

Heavy, but worth it!  Lots of options!
I always try to make sure I have healthy snacks with me when I fly.  So, in addition to the 20 lbs in electronics, I had a Fiber One 90 Calorie Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bar, a baggie of Cinnamon Burst Cheerios (uneaten from breakfast), and a packet of Cherry Berry dried fruit.  Keep in mind, when I got to the airport, I added to the bag.  I was now toting all of the above + 1 bag of Pirate’s Booty + bottle of Dasani + packet of Skinny Cow Dreamy Clusters.  I certainly won’t go hungry, nor do have ANY excuse to grab a hot pretzel or random candy bar. 

I did need to grab lunch at DIA, and treated myself to one of my favorite lunches.

Panda Express' "Panda Bowl" with Broccoli Beef and Mixed Veggies - 220 calories!
Dinner was at Newark in the tiny A Concourse, so I had to take what I could get considering it was almost 10pm EST.

I got to the airport right about lunchtime.  Security was busier than Thanksgiving, but fairly mild overall.  

Everyone seemed to be in a fairly pleasant mood.  No huge Customer Service lines or massive amounts of people sleeping in the terminals (I always think that’s a sign of a rough day.) 

Instead, most of us were just waiting around for flights and hoping to get to go.  When I got on my first flight, how about I was in a row by myself.  Not only was it an EXIT row with extra legroom, but I also had it all to myself.  Just me and my Booty.

Just Me and My Booty

My flight to Richmond was delayed by about 40 minutes, so that gave me time to eat.

I arrived in Richmond at my brother's house at about 1:15 AM.  So happy this travel day was over, and so happy to be spending the holidays with family.

So happy to see this sign, even though it was delayed
I hope everyone else made it to their holiday destinations safely.  It's Christmas Eve Eve... let the fun begin!!!

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