dedication, moving forward

Monday Motivation

Since I worked all of last weekend, I was off today!  I’ve been beating myself up about not doing all the things so I decided to start the day out right. A run on my dreadmill and day 3 of my 21 day challenge. 

After which, I decided to bake zucchini bread. Keep in mind, as much as I love to cook-I am a terrible baker. But I’m tending my neighbors garden while they are on vacation so thought, why not?


yummy fresh veggies!
I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching again lately. And came to the realization that I need to celebrate how far I’ve come vs. dwelling on what I’d have done differently. 

With that, I’ll be spending more time doing the things I love, and with the people I love. Well this should be common sense, right?  Not always. While I preach not to let others treat you like an after thought, I don’t always walk that walk. Time to start steppin’, right? 

What’s on your plate these days? Do you like zucchini bread?  What’s your favorite thing to bake? 

Have a great week!

❤ Michelle


Fate with a little bit of Fitness added in…

I knocked out my AB challenge tonight, and even made it to 24 seconds with my plank vs. the required 12 seconds.  Weak…I know.  But it’s progress so I’ll take it.  I also walked 2.5 miles today, and my thumb is healing nicely so I hope to hit the trails next week for a couple miles!  I think God was actually doing me a favor this week, as we have sub 0 temps with negative wind chills to add to the winter fun!  Those of you that know me, know I struggle in the winter.  This winter my goal is to keep movin’ despite the frigid temps, and laugh. and then laugh some more…:-) And for those of you bragging about your warm temps in the winter, I am not affected.  Winter is SUPPOSED to be cold and snowy.  It’s not always FUN…but it’s winter, and the beauty of a fresh fallen snow is still priceless.  My face, does still hurt tho…just sayin’…

Pretty much…lol

Today at work, I had my weekly meeting with my boss to discuss any issues, happenings, budget, etc etc.  Often times we get off on a tangent, and today’s tangent coupled with a later conversation that  left me smiling. This lesson didn’t hit me until later in the day when one of my peers came to my office red faced and flustered.  This woman has become like a Mother to me, so I immediately asked if I could help.  She had received the news that her daughter had lost her job, and her heart was heavy trying to carry her daughter’s grief.  And instantly I got choked up, remembering last year at this time, when I had found out my position was being eliminated.  She and I talked extensively, both being women of great faith and I shared my story again of how I was at my wits end last year, as the time ticked by where soon I’d be jobless.  But then I got the call…THE call for an interview for my current job, and everything fell in to place.  Nearly 10 months later and I feel like this amazing group of people have welcomed me in with open arms and have made this my current ‘work’ home. It isn’t always about a hefty pay check or lofty raises that make the job satisfying. Nope…

Truth right here...
Truth right here…

It’s about the people you choose to surround yourself with, each and every day.  In my weekly meeting with my boss earlier today, he verified that he is working on my less than stellar pay, and reminded me that I am appreciated.  And that my friends, is enough for me…

So yeah…the pay check would be nice, but at the end of the day it’s about THIS.  People, moments, relationships, family, and friends.

Keep Movin’ forward!

❤ Michelle


I’m sorry…I don’t date.

I met a man on August 26th, 2003.  Upon seeing him from across the room my breath was taken away.  I whispered to my friend Kara, “I am going to marry that man.”  But deep down I knew coming off a terrible divorce just 3 years prior that I had no intentions of marrying again…ever.

We talked that night, inside a smoky bar in Alaska.  We danced.  And we laughed…over and over.  We were both stationed in Anchorage Alaska, he serving as a Paratrooper in the Army, me as a pathology technician in the Air Force.  I’ll never forget that night…

After several drinks, laughter, smiles, and we shared an eye contact that couldn’t be broken.  He gave me his number as the night came to a close, and I in turn gave him mine…”I don’t date though, I’m sorry…,” I proclaimed.  I let him know that I was a single Mom, and my loyalty was in raising my daughter on my own.  He smiled, and said he’d call me the next day.

And he called, the very next day.  And every day there after…We talked for hours, yet it seemed not a minute passed by…we emailed short, sweet emails back and forth.  Several days later he came over to my house, and I can honestly say it was love at first sight, all over again.

I tried to hide my emotion.  I tried to tell him I couldn’t love him, or commit to him in a relationship.  But just weeks later I found myself tethered to this man whom I loved and adored.  He welcomed my daughter into his life, and he loved me with more passion than I can even describe.  He. Loved. Me.

But I don’t date…

Six weeks into our relationship we received the news that he was due to deploy.  In October.  I didn’t have to wait…Please, it’s ok…he’d say repeatedly.  But I knew.  I KNEW.  This was the man I was meant to be with for the rest of my life.

And so, on a cold and dreary morning in early October I waved farewell to the man of my dreams as he boarded a plane for Afghanistan.  He didn’t think I would wait for him…Little did he know…

Because I don’t date…

But waited I did.  I endured more sleepless nights than I care to admit.  I lived for phone calls, emails, and watching the news for updates on his unit.  His safety.  We had many close calls.  Many days when I cried more than I felt humanly possible.  But I had my daughter to keep me strong.  I did all I could to hide my sadness from her.  And SHE. was my rock  at the young age of four years old.

Because remember, I don’t date…I was married to my child in all honesty.

He returned home 11 months later, and on August 29th, 2004 this very same man proposed marriage to me.  To which I accepted with tears in my eyes and happiness in my heart.  He. Chose. Me.  I was enough for this amazing man.

And now, as we are just a week before we will celebrate our 10 years of marriage, I find myself reflecting.  Good times, bad times, hard ships, LIFE.  But in the end, laughter and our unending love got us through it all…

Because I don’t date…

Instead, I married the man of my dreams, and I wouldn’t trade a second of our journey.  We’ve been through so very much, lived in several different states, lost loved ones, broken careers, financial hardships, you name it…but at the end of the day, we have THIS.  Thank you dear Brian, for always being my smile. US.
This…is US.

❤ Michelle

dedication, moving forward


Having been in the military for 20 years, I have found myself with the stigmatism of being a hoarder.  Be it clothes, receipts, paperwork, junk drawers,  and old tee shirts that I just MIGHT need one day…I KEEP. ALL. THE. JUNK.  I believe this also stems from having gone from living pay check to pay check to well, still living pay check to pay check at the age of nearly 42.  What if I ‘need’ that such and such…what if I run out of ‘whatever’…I must. keep. it. ALL.  I remember back in the day, taking toilet paper from the gym locker room home because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to afford to buy more…Yes…I was that girl.

But in all honestly, despite bills and debt, I have enough.  I can let ‘things’ go…finally.

But it’s hard…I am only human. That pair of earrings I wore in 2002 can be donated…really.  That race shirt I earned at a local 5k that never really fit can be given to charity.  That cute top I wore in 2006 when my husband commented how pretty I looked, yet it no longer fits can be set aside for my Goodwill donation…really.

BUT.  I will keep the dress I wore, over 10 years ago to meet my husband’s plane when he returned from Afghanistan.  Sorry hoard police…that one will stay hanging neatly in my closet, collecting well deserved dust.  It’s not going anywhere.  Some things, I just can’t let go…

I tackled my bedroom tonight.  My closet and my dresser are my enemy when it comes to hoarding…am I the only one that couples clothes with memories?  Ack, make it stop!  After nearly 2 hours I had 1 bag of trash, 1 bag to sell at consignment, and 2 bags of clothes to donate.  I felt accomplished.  I tied the bags up neatly, and walked away.  This is my preemptive strike to move forward in all aspects of my life.


I got my work out in as well, although short in length, I felt I got my ‘swole’ on, LOL


And now, after venting about my long day to my husband, I am listening to Josh Groban, “You raise me up” and am reminded to hold those close to me, who lift me up…Constantly, consistently…and always.

Sweet dreams, gang…

Questions…do you purge?  Do you have a hard time letting things go?

dedication, food, goals

Surgery and smiles, and some shrimp too…My nearly Wordless Wednesday post

I finished this hump day with a quick dready run.  I didn’t want to run (bite my tongue, I know) but needed to keep moving…


During the work week meals are usually prepared within less than an hour.  This shrimp dish, prepared with a marinara sauce bought from my favorite local Italian market to which I added – sautéed garlic, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and celery along with added oregano, parsley, basil and crushed red pepper flakes was a WIN.  I served it over rice pasta, and it truly was a hit.  I love how the simplest yet healthy meals can make my family happy.  Who needs take out?


My daughter came to me last week in tears.  Her BFF had an injury…”Mommy, can you fix him?” She asked with tears in her eyes.  Sigh…I am not crafty AT ALL.  But I went to Hobby Lobby on my day off and purchased stuffing and a sewing kit.  “Yes, baby…Mommy can fix him.” Sigh…please, Lord.  Let this work…

THIS face...
THIS face…

So after dinner, we got our instruments ready, and our “transplant material” aka stuffing, laid out.  It was time for surgery.

The entry wound was located…and after finding an additional wound I knew we had to be careful…so every so slowly we stuffed, packed, and made sure each piece of stuffing we transplanting was in the correct place.

entry wound number one...
entry wound number one…
let the transplants begin!
let the transplants begin!

And after spending 15 minutes trying to thread the needle…we had great success.  It was time to start closing the wound.

Don't worry, no one was hurt!
Don’t worry, no one was hurt!

After 30 minutes of preparation and dedication, Pink Bear was himself again.  And my youngest daughter found her smile…

Mommy!  He's good as new!
Mommy! He’s good as new!

I can now rightfully say my resume has broadened…adding in the fact that I am now a Mom, a wife, a friend, a photographer, a Chef, a housekeeper, a maid, a lab supervisor, a runner, a mover, a shaker, and yes…a surgeon.  To stuffed animals only, LOL.

Today I left the stressors of life behind me…and I nurtured the needs of my kids. Today, my youngest needed me.  And who doesn’t feel good being needed?

At the end of the day, I made time for me, my family, and with that my heart is full.  My decluttering for the day included not feeding into negativity although it was tough…

What have you done lately to ‘step outside of your box?’  Do you believe in decluttering both mentally and physically?

Day 5 and I am still on track for my November goals.  YAY!  How are you doing?

❤ Michelle


dedication, Friday, goals

Five things, Friday…Contentment

Tonight’s word is something I have fought with for a long time.


I often listen to Christian radio on the way to work to help clear my mind. One of the messages this week was to be content with what we have, for God provides what we need.  I’ve battled with this sentiment for a long time.  I’ve always wanted more, wanted a better career, a bigger bank account, better clothes for my kids, trips, etc etc etc…Yet hearing this message last week was like a slap in the face to get my act together and be CONTENT with what I have…Because in all honestly, I have a lot in life.


I have a healthy and happy family that battles the same struggles as everyone else.  I have a job in which I can come home from most days, smiling.  I have some pretty great friends, both near and far geographically yet all are close to my heart. I have an amazing husband, and 2 beautiful daughters who may test my patience, but that I love dearly.  And above all, we have our health.  Hearing the news of a dear friend battling stage 3 cancer today brought things full circle.  I need to be content.  End of story.

Our finish line biggest fan, and now running partner.
Our finish line photo…my biggest fan, and now running partner.

I have a husband who sacrificed months to train with me for his first half marathon, simply to experience this finish line feeling WITH me.

Brian dinner

And today, while he had a day off work, he prepared for me this yummy meal…just because.

Lady bug luck
Lady bug luck

I received this awesome reminder walking out of work today of God’s amazing creatures…I’ve always believed in lady bug luck, and this little dude accompanied me to my Jeep after work today.

And at the end of the day, I recounted my blessings, re-reading text messages and posts from my friends over the last several weeks.  These friends applauded my MasterChef journey as short as it was, and continue to cheer me on to help me find my motivation to run again.

But my biggest fans, are my daughters.  And this little mini still argues that the judges got it all wrong.  She told me, that this week she prayed after having a tough time at school, exclaiming, “Mommy, HE listened!” And a part of me melted…

My Sous Chef
My Sous Chef

With that, I leave you with the thought that moving forward is key…in life, in running, in friendships, and in family.  Hang on tight to those who lift you up…

dedication, food

The end of season 5, Master Chef

After work today I quickly took a shower, got my kids fed and swept my little one off to ballet class from 6-7 pm.  The season finale for Master Chef was TONIGHT, and I knew I’d miss the first 15 minutes but it was so worth while seeing my baby so excited to dance. So dance…we did.

Gotta get our reading done, Mom!
Gotta get our reading done, Mom!

We got home at 7:15, and I literally ran down to the basement to watch the season finale of Master Chef.  Thankfully I had an old pair of running shoes on…keep in mind, I am still wearing said shoes.  LOL.

My hubby had the wine ready, and we settled in quickly to watch the show.  One cool aspect was that Twitter was allowing you to ask questions to the Chefs…and yeah…Graham Elliot responded to my tweet.  Keep in mind, I suck at tweeting.

THIS just happened.
THIS just happened.

But I watched in awe as these home cooks did their thing…and I cried at the end, hoping, wishing, envisioning myself standing there in boots, and not heels.

The kicker was, having my husband ask me why I was crying…”You see yourself standing there, don’t you?”…Your darn right I do…because I know I have the passion needed to get where I want, need, to be.

At the end of the day, my husband said, YOU CAN DO THIS…and I will polish off my combat boots and try my hardest.

‘Nuff said.

Keep movin forward gang!



dedication, food, goals

Masterchef test kitchen, take one…

Well, I haven’t ran this week as most of you know.  I took it, mostly, in stride despite starting to go crazy by the end of the week.  I had decided yesterday that I would run tonight, but I woke up with another sinus headache, and several bloody nose bleeds to follow so I set the goal of running tonight aside. After a couple hours, I got the nose bleeds under control, so I showered, got dressed and hit the grocery store running with my youngest in tow.  She’s my ‘sous chef’ and we decided along with our regular grocery shopping that we would get something nice to prepare for our traditional “Sunday supper.”  I was also secretly using tonight as a test run for my Master Chef try out dish.

On the menu was:

Pan seared scallops

Roasted red pepper and carrot puree

Zucchini salad

We started by prepping our carrots and peppers.  Here’s what you’ll need for the puree in case you’ve missed my previous post.

Roasted red pepper and carrot puree ingredients:

2 large carrots, chopped

2 red peppers, chopped

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

Transfer to a large bowl, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Spread out on a baking sheet, and roast for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.  Let cool, and transfer to a food processor, adding a 1/4 stick of unsalted butter, dollop of low fat cream cheese, and two teaspoons of sun dried tomato pesto with whole pine nuts.  (I use the Bella Sane Luci brand, but any will do).  Puree on high until smooth, seasoning as needed.  I finish it with a sprinkle or two of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  DELISH.   I normally make this first as it’s the most labor intensive, and put in a baking dish to reheat although it’s quite tasty at room temperature.

Zucchini salad ingredients:

One half of a large zucchini noodled by your gadget of choice.  I use the Vegetti and love it.  Season the zucchini with salt and pepper and just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Top with 2-3 radicchios finely diced.  For garnish, the tops of oyster mushrooms lightly fried in basil infused olive oil (I made my own!).  Drizzle with a light lemon vinaigrette dressing of which I also make my own. (One teaspoon of Dijon mustard, juice of one lemon, salt, pepper, and whisk in extra virgin olive oil). Note: I separate all toppings, and make each salad individually.

Pan seared scallops:

Dry your scallops with paper towels, and place on a plate, seasoning simply with kosher salt and pepper.  Pan fry (I used my basil infused evoo) on medium to high heat, and turn once.  Finish by draining the scallops on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Serve, as shown.  I garnished the dish with fried basil leaves, and it was a hit.

This picture sadly wasn't the best, but it shows you how I plated the dish.
This picture sadly wasn’t the best, but it shows you how I plated the dish.

I made a couple yummy appetizers that I forgot to take pictures of, I know…blogger fail.  But stuffed cherry tomatoes with cheese and basil roasted to perfection and crostini’s also accompanied our dinner.

My take away at my first real attempt at a “Master Chef” dish:

I need to acquire better pans to get that amazing sear on scallops without having them stick.  (Christmas list item, number one.)

I need to work on time management as I find myself spending hours preparing these meals despite knowing the show is timed.  Sadly (well not really) I lose myself in the kitchen nearly as much as I do with running…therefore losing track of time.  Could I make this dish in just an hour??

I’m still unsure…but, I am still trying.  Working.  Hoping that I can find that inner spark to get my through to the ‘next round’ so to speak.

At the end of the day, I am pleased…I had almost given up on my dreams (yet again) of being well, more than I have allowed myself to be…but I have realized I am not satisfied with just ‘being.’

The last few years I have found myself talking in my own head…telling myself I know, I KNOW there is a greater purpose out there for me besides a 7-4 job…I just have to keep movin’ forward and FIND it…more so MAKE it happen.

And. I. Will.

So as I take my last sip of my orange cello (lemon cello with a twist of orange, YUM!) and I mentally prepare for our half marathon (my husband’s first!) I realize we can…and we will…OVERCOME.  ALL things…in life.  It’s our choice…it’s MY choice.  And I’ve made it.

Just wait.

Question: What inner dreams do you have?  Do you push yourself to attain these dreams, or do you let them be simply a dream?

❤ Michelle


dedication, food, goals, moving forward

Sometimes you have to step back to move forward

I haven’t blogged in over a week.  There.  I said it. My computer is on the fritz, and to be honest I’ve needed to just unplug somewhat lately.  Less…well, is more lately.  Sometimes you just need a little support and feedback, and social media has more than disappointed me lately.  Bah.

But some key bullet points go a little like this…

We’ve remained nearly on point for our half marathon training.  We did our last super longish run on Friday night, despite the crazy rain, thunderstorms, and tornado warnings.  10 miles, done.  We will do our miles this week, and a semi-long run this weekend to keep consistency but embracing the taper.  Our race is less than 2 weeks away!

We went to Chicago last weekend to get some much needed downtime, and enjoyed some amazing food.


This afternoon my eldest texted me a photo of a note that her “friend” wrote her asking her to homecoming.  My heart was so happy for her, yet sad for me as I see my baby girl growing up into a lady…please. stop. time. But I am thankful she shared this moment, with me…


Tonight, my youngest started her first ballet class, and despite feeling very rushed after work to get home, feed the kids, get homework squeezed in, and a quick shower, (ack, holy commas) we made it to class by 6 pm.  I snuck quite a few peeks in the window, and was taken aback by my daughter’s grace.  She lacks focus, she has a hard time staying on track…but she would see me watching and all of a sudden her ‘position’ moves became seamless.  I couldn’t help but to smile behind my tears.  My parents were always too busy to put me in activities, and I find myself often in the same situation.  So making time for this one hour per week class is almost selfish for it’s for ME too…seeing her joy brings ME such joy.  It’s worth missing out on a run/workout to see her face light up.

tiny dancer

We watched Master Chef tonight…and although I may have sidelined my audition for yet another year due to financial constraints, I still get that pull to my heart watching the contestants compete each week.  Yet I know I don’t have the confidence or skill quite yet…but it’s coming.

So this year I will regroup.  Refocus.  And cook my heart out by recipe from world renowned cook books that sit on my shelf collecting dust.

I may or may not go to the casting call of Master Chef in Chicago on October 11th.  I need to dig deep.  And believe.  But I also know our family cannot sustain on one income.

Time will tell…