Day 1


Day 1 of the cleanse and new fitness routine. Our day started with a frenzy of cooking – the first meal of the day was a 2 egg omelet with carmelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and thyme with one piece of whole wheat toast. I didn’t take a photo of this, we were too hungry and frightened by the lack of food… so we cheated – we actually made two 4 egg omelets for each of us. This was delicious and in hindsight we probably only needed 2 eggs a piece. The struggle with this first meal – not butter or jam for Shannon. Oh and no coffee.

We went to the gym in the afternoon. I ran one of my favorite routines, it’s a basic ladder, running for 1 minute then increasing the speed by .5. I usually aim for hitting at least 3 miles of running (not counting warm up or cool down)



0-1:30 (warm-up)


1:30 – 3 (warm-up)


3 – 4


4 – 5


5 – 6


6 – 7

7 – 8


8 – 9


9 – 10


10 – 11


11 – 12


12 – 13


13 – 14

14 – 15


15 – 16




I also added weight training:
Step-Ups: 3 sets of 10 reps (holding 15 pound dumb bells)
Bosu Side Lunge: 3 sets of 15 reps (10 lbs)
Bent Over Dumb Bell Ros: 3 sets of 15 reps (10 lbs)
Swiss Ball Plank Rotation: 3 sets of 5 reps on each side
Side Lunges: 3 sets of 10 reps (8 lbs)
Single Leg Hip Lift: 3 sets of 20 reps
Bent Over Barbell Row: 3 sets of 15 reps (20 lbs)
Swiss Ball Plank (feet on the bench): 3 sets for 1:10 minute each

Lunch time!

We headed back home for lunch – crudities with citrus/vinegar dressing and 1 slice of whole wheat toast with mashed avocado… Needless to say we were again worried about portion size so we add extra veggies and greens to make a salad and we each added 1/2 a piece of toast. But here is the real cheat (for me) – I was only supposed to have 1/4 of an avocado and Shannon a 1/2. Instead we split an avocado and he ‘doctored’ it up with lemon juice, salt, pepper, red pepper and some cilantro.

salad with citrus/vinegar dressing and whole wheat toast with mashed avocado

This was really yummy – this combo actually used to be a go-to lunch for me, but I would eat the whole avocado and add tomato.


Winter Couscous - Shannon's dinner to go

Dinner – this is where things get tricky. Since Shannon worked that night, we had to prep his dinner for him to take with him. So as soon as we got back from the gym, I started on dinner (which required approximately 4 trips to the grocery store to get all the necessary supplies). Dinner for day 1 was Winter Couscous (the cleanse actually suggested bulgur instead of couscous so we used bulgur). The basic idea of the dinner was Moroccan spices and roasted veggies. This took probably an hour and 1/2 to 2 hours to prep and cook. Everything was going fine until I add way too much Harissa paste (spicy chili paste). Our solution was to add more preserved lemon, greek yogurt, lots of cilantro and some veggie stock. It helped take down the heat a notch or two.


The plan also allows for a midday snack and a nighttime snack. We attempted the date/almond smoothie for our midday snack, but I mistakenly purchased figs – not dates… Uhm… the smoothie was interesting. Let’s just say neither of us finished it. And my nighttime snack was a piece of citrus and roobios tea.

Hardest part for me so far? The amount of time it takes to make everything. The recipes are pretty intense – the ingredient lists are extensive for quite a few items and the shear cooking time means we are going to have to be organized. Organized sans caffeine – is that possible? Hardest part for Shannon? The lack of coffee – this could be his biggest challenge.


Whats one more year…



So the fiancé and I have decided to postpone the wedding – actually we’re moving it back a year from our original date in September 2010… The stress of my sister’s wedding, the holidays,  trying plan our wedding (for 100 guests) with a budget of $5,000, etc… was just too much. Also, we want to leave for our honeymoon right after the weddings over and to do that we need moolah – and lots of it… In case I didn’t mention this or perhaps I’ve forgotten in my absence from the blog-world, we want to go to Italy for our honeymoon.

Extending the engagement has been a blessing and a curse… the longer engagement has absolutely given us more time to save and look for cost-effective solutions; however, it’s also given me more time to ogle the gorgeous “real weddings” on Ink & Snippet, Once Wed, Brooklyn Bride and all my other favorite wedding sites. Those weddings are insane! The amount of planning, time and money spent…well, one can only imagine. Just my little toe-dip into the world of wedding planning and budgeting made me suave enough to know that even the most vintage/rustic wedding is expensive. Those barns and hay bales and blue glass mason jars don’t pay for themselves people!

Enough of the budget-bashing for today…

Bring on the Holidays!

So we spent Thanksgiving with the fiance’s family (PS he has a huge family – something I’m still getting used to). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the 6 hour drive home to my family’s – this is the first Thanksgiving I missed with them. But despite missing my family, we still had a great time – we went to see the new Twilight movie “New Moon”, ate way too much and played Euchre.  All and all – not too shabby of a Thanksgiving… which should have been a sign of things to come.

Most people who know me, would probably say I have bad, terrible, horrible luck. I usually say that for everything good that happens to me, something equally bad will also happen. So whether its bad luck or the cosmic balance – I can usually expect the unexpected. That brings me to Sunday night…. After spending Friday and Saturday night searching for the perfect christmas tree decorations (and by perfect – I mean something the Fiance and I can agree upon) – I finally conceded that I could not do it alone and asked the Fiance to come with me in search of the appropriate holiday tree-scheme.

Our desperate search for white/clear twinkle lights first lead us to Home Depot. Unfortunately, there were no twinkle lights to be found at the Depot. Not to be discouraged – we headed to Menards…surely, twinkle lights could be found at Menards. Our festive search soon turned gloomy when a driver attempted to pass us in the right (turn lane) as we were slowly searching for Menards. As we moved into the right lane, he (the driver of the jeep) hit our front passenger side.

If you know me, then you know that a vast majority of my bad luck is related to cars. In my short driving history (13 years as a driver), I’ve had 4 cars – one was old and needed to be traded-in, one basically fell apart within a month of buying it (thankfully the dealer agreed it was a lemon and bought it back for what I owed), one was hit by a driver who ran a red light (totalled the car) and now my current car is on a collision course to hell. In the past week alone, its been hit by another car and someone decided to practice their baseball swing on the mirrors, doors, etc. Oh and after buying 3 new tires a month ago, one of the tires was stabbed while the car was parked in a church parking lot!!!

So, that was a bit of a side note to where I was actually going with this…but in the end, we were able to find agreeable decorations and we even had a good laugh over Mr. Rico’s new holiday apparel…. Oh and if you are in Chicago (Lincoln Park area) and looking for twinkle lights – check out the Walgreens at Ashland and Fullerton – they are the twinkle light mecca!

Mr. Rico's in his holiday attire





Wedding Planning

So the fiance and I visited (hopefully) our last venue options on Friday. Both ArtBox and Two 17 are great space – the flexibility and uniqueness of both make them a great option for people looking for a less-traditional space in Indianapolis. The only con I see with Two17 – as I mentioned in a previous post – is this venue only allows one of three catering companies. This would probably not be an issue for those of you who have a larger budget than ours. But for someone limited to $2,000 for food and drinks (for 80), well – this is a problem.

One of the caterers still has not called me back, despite me leaving 2 voicemails, 1 message with the receptionist and one email. The second caterer – also mentioned in a previous post – quoted our reception food (finger food) and drinks (beer & wine) at $45 – $60 a person. The third caterer – Laurel from Hogalin – actually called me back and was willing to work with our budget as best she could (the quote was a little over what we could afford – but still incredibly reasonable). I was incredibly impressed by her lack of judgement and her “we can make it work” philosophy.

The second venue option – ArtBox – has a higher rental rate, but they allow any caterer and licensed bartender. Plus, Meegan (with ArtBox) is very flexible and eager to help, give suggestions, listen to our ideas, etc. The only con might be that while Two17 is a blank space, ArtBox is a functioning gallery. This isn’t a problem for us – we love the artistic vision of the gallery, but it might not be for everyone.

After viewing over 10 possible venues, I think we might have found “the one”. Can you guess which one we picked?

You want how much for a cheese ball?

Wedding woes continue… Because I work in the nonprofit world and the fiance is a student/server, our wedding budget is limited. And when I say limited, I don’t mean like all the budget-bridal websites out there that claim $10,000 – $25,000 is a limited budget…. I mean we are trying to spend no more than $5,000 on our wedding.

Why you may ask? Well, first of all, I can’t see the purpose in spending thousands and thousands of dollars on one day – when the real reason for the one day is every day after that. Reason two – we wanted to pay for the wedding ourselves and even though we’ve been dating for 8 years (yes, I said 8 years), we really didn’t save any money for the wedding prior to our engagement. So now, we are trying to stash away enough money to cover our wedding…. And reason three – the fiance and I want to travel to Italy for our honeymoon and the only way to do that is hope that anyone who might have contributed to the cost of the wedding, will now instead contribute to the honeymoon.

So how does one achieve a $5,000 wedding with 100 guests in a semi-large city? And how do you do it if you don’t want the current trendy of ‘vintage-outdoors-haybales for chairs’ style of wedding that is popping up every where? Well, I don’t actually know the exact answer to that question – hence the continued wedding woes.

But here is our tentative plan… We are looking for an alternative space in Indianapolis. We’ve tried small mom and pop restaurants, art centers, art galleries, bars, etc… We are viewing two more locations (ARTBOX and Two 17 Event Space) next week.

ARTBOX Gallery

I’m really pulling for one of these two – I can’t take any more site visits. We are also planning to have our wedding and reception at the same location. We kind of envisioned the whole thing to be a very special ‘cocktail party’. The whole event will take place on a Saturday night from 7:30pm – midnight. We’ll serve heavy finger food and beer, wine, sparkling wine and two signature cocktails.

BUT – here is the issue. One of the locations only allows catering from a select list of a few caterers. I’ve called the caterers and their costs are insane – $45/head for finger food!!! What are they serving – caviar and gold-crust filet? Did I mention we only have $5,000 for the wedding/reception?

Shower Planning

   I’ve neglected my blog again (not that anyone noticed)… I’ve spent the last two weeks battling whatever illness is going around (and around and around). I also spent a long weekend at my mother’s house in southern Indiana. I went home for my sister’s wedding shower. Having lived outside of southern Indiana for the past 11 years, I’ve forgotten (blocked out) some of the area’s wedding traditions – like the 300 + guest list, all-you can eat fried chicken dinner and multiple kegs on tap. I also forgot about the size and intensity of the wedding showers.

  My sister, her soon-to-be mother and my mom invited over 100 guests to her shower. I didn’t think to count, but I would guess 60 + people attended the shower. The party itself consisted of four (6-foot) tables of food, two (6-foot) tables of gifts and many elaborate (and beautiful) decorations and attendance gifts.

  It was a wonderful shower, but it got me thinking about my own. Will I have a shower? My friends and family (aka future wedding guests) live in various parts of the mid-west… my family is in southern Indiana, the fiance’s family is in Indianapolis and my friends are spread out – some in southern Indiana, some in Indianapolis, a couple in Chicago and a few in Colorado. Do I even get to have a shower? And if so, where would it be? Do I ask for more than one or do I just send out invites to everyone – knowing they can’t come? What about the fiance’s family?

  Am I a shower-zilla?

White wedding…

As a newly engaged girl, I would be hard-pressed to say I haven’t thought about my ‘dream’ wedding before I actually had the ring. Don’t get me wrong – my adolescent years weren’t spent dreaming of the big, poufy dress or a eight-tier cake, but over the past few years I have considered how to pull off a non-traditional wedding that still feels like a wedding.

I’ve attended more weddings than I can remember and I’ve been a bridesmaid in 7 weddings. As a result I am prehaps a bit jaded or maybe just bored with the same-old-same old. I wanted something different for my wedding – something that was more inclusive and less predictable. Also throw into the mix that my fiance hates traditional weddings and neither one of us are particularly religious…

So after many discussions with my fiance regarding what we like and what we don’t like, I think we’ve settled on a plan. We wanted to party. Which translated into hosting a late evening cocktail party for our closest family and friends. There will not be a bridal party of 20 – as seems to be the norm. Instead we will only have a matron of honor and a best man. The ceremony will start at 7:30 or 8pm and will be presided over by one of S.J.’s brothers and the service will be minimal – 15 minutes top.  After a quickie marriage – we plan to spend the rest of the night drinking, dancing, eating and mingling. Oh and we’re hoping for some live musical performances by family and friends (more on that to come).

Now we just need the location….  and the date, dress, food, beverages, invitations, suit, photographer, rings…. am I missing something?

Introducing Mr. Rico

    Since neglecting this blog, several things have happened in my life. I’m now engaged, my fiance and I have moved to a new apartment (with a real wood-burning fireplace) in the Lincoln Park neigborhood and we adopted a dog, which we named Rico (he also goes by Mr. Rico, Booges, Stinky, Sugar-bean, etc.) Rico is a rescue from the Anti-Cruelty Society shelter. We actually spent months stalking the shelters – looking for the best dog for us. And when we found him, it was love at first sight… well, at least for S.J. it was. I took a little convincing.
How can you not love him?

How can you not love him?

   But after a short 30 minute visit, I was hooked. The next day, Rico was our’s. Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case with rescues, Rico developed a bad case of Kennel Cough. So bad that he had to stay at the shelter’s clinic for two weeks before we could take him home. During his stay at the clinic’s hospital, we were allowed to visit everyday – which we did – and had a chance to spend time with his doctor – Dr. Belding. She is an amazing doctor and a wonderful person. We were very lucky to have her.

Bath Time

Bath Time

   Rico is now healthy and happy – he also runs our household with a steel paw, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.                                  

Las Vegas – It has a nice ‘ring’ to it…

   Finally, a real-life, grown-up vacation with my boyfriend. Over Labor Day weekend (yes, I realize its October and I’m just now writing about Labor Day) my boyfriend, Shannon; his sister; her husband and I took a trip to Las Vegas. I’ve been to Vegas several times, but in the past I’ve made the trip with my mom and grandmother. Since the majority of my mom’s side of the family lives in New Mexico and California, Vegas became the family meeting ground. 

  I’ve always enjoyed my past trips out, but this time I was expecting a wild, crazy, no-holds-bar Vegas vacation (a la The Hangover)… But in the end, the trip turned out to be very relaxing… lots of lounging by the pool, a romantic dinner at Fleur de Lys, and a (very decent) proposal…

    That’s right… the boyfriend proposed. On our way to dinner, we stopped in front of the Belligio to watch the “dancing waters”. As the fog rolled in and the music (some Faith Hill song) began to rise – S.J. dropped to one knee and took my hand (cue tears). I was so excited and surprised, I didn’t know what to do – cry, laugh, grin hysterically – so I did all the above. All the while, we were cheered on by an SVU full of girls who notice S.J. one-knee position and stopped to watch.

   With no further ado… here is my beautiful ring:

my engagement ring

my engagement ring



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 My new home….After months of planning and plotting, I finally  took the big leap and moved from Indianapolis, IN to Chicago,  IL. OK, so maybe it was  just a tiny hop, but for me this moving  has been life changing. In Indy, I worked 50, 60, 70 hours a  week at an accounting firm and restaurant. Now my  work  schedule is cut in half and I’m back working for a non-profit.  Sounds ideal to a former tree-hugging nerd, but I have to admit,  I haven’t taken full  advantage of my new found freedom.
 S.J. (my boyfriend – which sounds silly when you’re rapidly  approaching 30-something) and I share many loves in common.  We love to cook, travel and  spend time outdoors. In theory, summer in Chicago would be a mecca for us, but this summer we’ve lounged, laid and lazied our way through the season.
 Now as summer days dwindle, we are slowly starting to explore our neighborhood and new hometown.
Two weekends ago we started off our exploration with the Architecture Foundation’s River Cruise. This 90 minute tour took us down the various legs of  the river while the (surprisingly entertaining) guide schooled us on Modern and Post-Modern architecture as well as the Chicago School of architecture. Despite S.J.’s recent completion of a History of Chicago Architecture class and my recent completion of the book “Devil in the White City”, we were still mesmerized by the stories and facts about Chicago’s famous architecture. Loved every minute of it – including the bar on board!