food, goals, Recipes, restaurant reviews, Sunday Supper, weekend wrap up

Weekend wrap up

Hey gang!! How was your weekend? Friday my hubby and I went on an impromptu date in downtown Tampa. We are at a place called Oak and Ola and it was amazing. I wrote about it on Yelp (Michelle D. in Tampa), but may start writing more restaurant reviews here on the blog again this year.


Saturday we did some errands and went and saw “Jumanji” and we thought it was really cute and entertaining. We also hit up my favorite consignment shop as I still had money left over on my Christmas gift card.

Sunday I slept in which I always allow myself to do when I’m not training for anything, because I have to get up early enough every day for work. I also decided to meal prep for the week, as this is where my diet/exercise regime have gone to crap over the last six months. I made some egg muffins for the week, as well as a big pot of Chicken Soup. (Click the link for the basic recipes but feel free to change up whatever protein/veggies sound good to you!!!)

Tonight after dinner I went for a nice walk with my neighbor, and did my plank. I’ve been planking since October 1st, and haven’t missed a day yet. I did this back in 2016 when my husband was deployed, and managed to plank for an entire year straight.



How was your weekend? Does cooking ahead of time help you? Any tips for burning belly fat?

Have a great week, everyone!!



weekend wrap up

Weekend wrap up

This past weekend was a whirlwind of fun, as one of my best friends from Chicago came to visit me again. Every year her niece has a national swimming competition in Orlando, and the last two years she’s made a point of coming to visit me before the competition starts. This means so much to me, as I have spoken before about how making friends when you are older seems to be more of a challenge.

She flew in Saturday morning and after getting settled we went straight to the beach. The temperature outside was perfect, and there was just enough cloud cover to keep us from getting heat exhaustion. There’s nothing like good friends and the beach to make for the perfect day.

Saturday night we went out for dinner and went to a St. Patty’s day party at the mall. There was a live band, and we enjoyed great music and even better people watching. Our new term for the weekend was “observating” and we honestly couldn’t have had more fun.

Sunday we went to a cool place in Tampa called “Armature works” which is basically a fancy adult style (yet family friendly) food court. We enjoyed great weather, great food, and amazing Irish music out on the patio. Sunday night we went to dinner and watched the movie “A Star is born.”

Monday we went for lunch in Ybor city, and enjoyed more people watching before I took her to the train station.

Needless to say, I didn’t run or work out but did do my Yoga workout and plank Monday night.

Weekends like these help me get through crazy work weeks, and I couldn’t be happier (or more tired, LOL) than I am today.


How was your weekend? Did you celebrate St. Patty’s day?




moving forward, Novo Renew, race recaps, real life adventures, restaurant reviews, weekend wrap up

A good day to run!!! Belated weekend wrap up!

I decided to be smart and take a week off after running the Gasparilla half marathon the last weekend of February (click the link to read my recap), which turned out to be a week AND a half off since I was still recovering from this past weekend. Keep reading and you’ll understand why…

Saturday night my hubby and I escaped away to Orlando for the evening to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary (which was back in November but he was traveling for work and we never got around to celebrating). Since we had Hilton Honor points and our daughter was spending the night at a friend’s house, we thought, why not? We had a blasssst. We ate a place called The Flying Fish (the food and service was truly amazing. Freshly caught fish being cooked in an open kitchen made it quite the experience), and then hit up Disney Springs for some drinks and dancing. It felt so good to be US for 24 hours without any of the stressors in life (we won’t talk about the $1800 estimate I got on repairs for my 8 year old Jeep Saturday morning…we decided to NOT talk about it all weekend, and we’ll worry about that Friday morning when I drop it off, LOL).


The Flying Fish
Us at The Edison
Amazing music
Inside the restaurant
Lobster Bisque
Crispy Oysters
Sea Bass
Seafood over pearl pasta and saffron sauce

We got home from Orlando in enough time for me to unpack and change clothes to go see the P!NK concert with my good friend Kandice. We got the tickets last fall and have been counting down the days until the concert. I have loved P!NK since the 90’s so this was definitely a bucket list item checked off!!!


SOOO I was going to run yesterday after work but MAN was it cold and dreary here in sunny Florida so I decided to put it off until today. I am so glad I did, because despite the strong winds, the temps were in the low 60’s and the sun was SHINING bright. I was able to maintain an average of a 10:16 pace and even hit in the 9’s during the 3rd mile. What’s even better, I was able to run all three miles PAIN FREE thanks to Novo Renew (affiliate link) which has drastically helped my knees and joints. If you’d like to try a bottle at no risk (30 money back guarantee) use Michelle25 at check out to save 25% off!! I’d love to hear your feedback as well, should you decide to give this amazing product a try!! (click the link to learn more)!

How was your weekend? What’s the best concert that you have attended? Have you ever taken a chance and tried a new product? (click that link above, you won’t be sorry!)




weekend wrap up

Long weekend wrap up/Sunday Supper

This past weekend was a whirlwind of food, and family, plain and simple.  We holed up in our little family nest and made memories to hang on to over this next year of separation.  I’ll write this wrap up, mostly in photos, because I really want to go snuggle on the couch with my tribe.  I also have a recipe to share, but we will get to that a bit later.  ❤

First day of Winter run with my friends!
These ladies continue to love me, even when it’s not easy to do


Running friends can always make me smile
Many of my running friends
My girls baked Christmas cookies since I had to work Christmas Eve
First course of Christmas Eve dinner was a baby arugula salad with shrimp dressed with a blood orange vinaigrette
Pan seared scallops with tri-colored potatoes
Checking to see where Santa was located
Letter to Santa
Priceless smile from my mini while opening gifts
Hubby got her a necklace to wear while he’s away…#allthetears
Prepping Christmas Dinner
Bacon wrapped dates with goat cheese!
I think he approves…
Dinner is served!
Check out my pup, praying Daddy drops that bone on the floor!!  LOL
Bowling with our new Xbox!
Someone takes her bowling very seriously, LOL
Hubby’s awesome form!
Smoothies to start my week out right tomorrow!
Homemade beef stock with the bones from our prime rib. It is currently simmering on my stove, and it smells AMAZING in here.
My first attempt at Dim Sum
Bamboo steamer that I got for Christmas
I used my new mortar and pestle to add ginger, garlic and pink peppercorns to my dipping sauce.  YUM!!
I lined my steamer with bok choy leaves vs. using oil
Dinner is served! 

I adapted my recipe from HERE, omitting the jicama, and using 1/2 lb. of ground pork and 1/2 lb. of beef along with 1 cup of finely chopped cooked shrimp. I served with my yummy Asian dipping sauce but you can serve with the suggested plain soy sauce or chili paste.  Serve with your favorite rice/rice noodle and veggie for a complete meal!  Enjoy!!

This weekend I am linking up with Holly and Tricia again for the Weekly wrap up!

How was your week?  Get anything exciting for Christmas?


❤ Michelle

Deployment thoughts, weekend wrap up

4th Annual Chicago Christmas Staycation/Weekend wrap up!

This year marks the 4th year we went to the city to celebrate early Christmas.  In years past we’ve stayed at The Palmer House, Knickerbocker, and The Drake and enjoyed each hotel immensely.  This has become a family tradition that is cherished by our family. The Drake holds a special place in our hearts so this year we decided to go all out for the holidays, knowing next year we wouldn’t be together.

2 years ago
2 years ago-we stayed across the street at the Knickerbocker this year.
last year
last year
This year, right before we went to The Lion King
This year, right before we went to The Lion King

I am normally a very frugal person and cringe at the thought of credit card debt.  If I can’t pay cash for it, I don’t buy it.  But this year I decided to let lose a little, and we spoiled the kids rotten with food, seeing The Lion King, and shopping till we dropped on the Mag mile.  I even got a new bag.  #winning I know my husband is trying to make up for next Christmas, and all the time he will be gone.  But I gently reminded him that I’d trade every handbag and present for his safe return.  #allthetears

Isn't she pretty?
Isn’t she pretty?

So there it is….we ate at Season’s 52, The fig and the olive, Quartino’s, mk, and The Purple Pig.  The Chicago food scene is truly amazing.  We even got to tour the kitchen and meet Erick Williams, the Executive Chef of mk.  I can’t say enough about the amazing service, AND food.  We will definitely be back, maybe for my birthday!!!!

Purple Pig menu
mk tasting menu w/wine pairings-YUM
Fig and Olive menu
so much coolness right here.
so much coolness right here.
Brunch at Fig and Olive
Brunch at Fig and Olive
Desert and mk! Who's droolin'?!
Desert at mk! Who’s droolin’?!
Meat and cheese sampling at Purple Pig
Meat and cheese sampling at Purple Pig

The weekend flew by, but we made memories that will last a lifetime.  I can honestly say that despite this being one of the toughest things we’ve been through, it has made us all that much stronger of a family unit.  He leaves in just 2 months, and the time is flying by far too quickly.  I pray his time away goes by just as fast.

Us just before going in to the Lion King
Us just before going in to the Lion King
I may have secretly snapped this shot.  HEHE!
I may have secretly snapped this shot. HEHE!
Because we still believe in Santa
Because we still believe in Santa
The reason I smile...
The reason I smile…
Our car was stuffed to the ceiling with bags, but the memories are what I will hold dear to my heart.
Our car was stuffed to the ceiling with bags, but the memories are what I will hold dear to my heart.

Do you have any family traditions at Christmas time? When you travel do you enjoy trying out new restaurants?

This week I am linking up with Holly and Tricia for the weekly wrap up!


I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!!

❤ Michelle



weekend wrap up

Thanksgiving/Anniversary weekend wrap up in photos

This past weekend was a much needed weekend filled with a few of my favorite things.  Family, food, and wine.  I couldn’t honestly have asked for a better 4 days off.  I didn’t run a single mile last week, and I am totally cool with that.  My priorities have shifted greatly, and with this shift I have learned so much about myself, and the realness of the relationships I hold dear to my heart.

So.  Thanksgiving went down a little like this.  Wednesday night we spent the evening decorating the house and getting everything ready for Thanksgiving day.  We even were welcomed over at our good friend’s house next door for a few cocktails.  #Winning.


I woke up super early, and prepped the turkey.  Yup.  That’s bacon you see…it makes everything better, right?!?  I swear this was the best turkey I’ve made yet, and I’ve been roasting turkeys for years.

The entire spread!
The entire spread!
These breasts were as big as the platter itself!
These breasts were as big as the platter itself!

DELISH. My sister loved the turkey so much it just made me smile. THAT is why I love cooking so much: Seeing the joy my food brings to others is priceless.  Plus I loved having my sister’s family over for the day to help eat all the yummy food!  That’s the best part!  I truly love Thanksgiving and the meaning of the day.  ❤

Black Friday was a quiet day filled with housework and movie watching.  This was our actual anniversary, but we were celebrating Saturday.  My hubby surprised me with an overnight stay at The Herrington Hotel, with dinner at our favorite restaurant located inside the hotel, Atwaters.  We started the day by taking the kids and my niece who is also 16 years old to a local craft fair (I totally forgot to take any pics) which was a total blast.  My neighbors were kind enough to keep a close eye on the house/kids, so we headed off to our mini getaway, just 15 minutes from our house.

We started out by having lunch at The Preservation Wine company, in Geneva.  We’d never been there but had heard great reviews.  Everything we heard was spot on, and our wine, food, and service was on point.  We will definitely go back.

Meat and Cheese plates
Meat and Cheese plates
Just us!
Just us!
Italian wine makes me happy!
Italian wine makes me happy!

We headed out to the shops of 3rd street for some Christmas shopping and just good quality time with each other.  I can’t remember the last time we were just “us” for more than an hour or so, and I could feel us recharging with every minute.  My hubby spoiled me with some beautiful clothes from one of my favorite local shops (I LOVE shopping local.  It’s always been important to me to support local businesses), of which I forgot to take pics of, LOL.  I’ll save that for another post.

It was time to head to our hotel, so after checking in we were pleasantly surprised by a beautiful bottle of champagne.  I gave my hubby the gift I had made for him, and he got a little choked up.  I had a pocket watched engraved with “See you in my dreams,” which is what we said to each other in ever communication we had while he was deployed to Afghanistan.  He’s going to set it to “home time” while he is away. #sobs

View of the Fox River from our room
View of the Fox River from our room

We got ready for dinner, and headed down to the lobby for a pre-dinner drink.  We sorta clean up nicely I like to think…;-)

Can you tell I like him just a little?
Can you tell I like him just a little?
Old dress, but new memories :-)
Old dress, but new memories 🙂

And then there was dinner…Words can’t even describe it, so here it is in pics…

a little "bite" compliments of the Chef
a little “bite” compliments of the Chef
braised pork belly
braised pork belly
grilled peach salad
grilled peach salad
crab cakes
crab cakes
Butternut squash soup
Butternut squash soup
Delmonico steak
Delmonico steak
Chilean Sea bass
Chilean Sea bass

As you can venture to guess, we were stuffed afterwards, but WOW, what an amazing meal.  We each had a starter, soup/salad, and entrée and  both shared dishes.  AH. MA. ZING.  We had reservations about going back, as our favorite Chef no longer works at this restaurant but I can honestly say we were pleasantly surprised that the staff and food hadn’t missed a beat.

It was an amazing weekend, one I won’t forget and I am truly thankful and blessed to be married to the love of my life.  Despite struggle, tough times and bumps in the road we always end up back in each others arms, literally.  People say, “Oh, you are so lucky.” But really, we just work our tails off to keep our marriage strong.  Are we perfect?  Heck no…but we do our best to focus on US even when times are tough.  At the end of the day, we know we have each other.

How was your Thanksgiving?  Do you cook, or go to family/friend’s homes?

Have a great week, y’all!

❤ Michelle


weekend wrap up

Weekend wrap up in pics…mostly…

Happy Monday, y’all!  How was your weekend?!

Mine was great.

I started out my Friday with 8 miles after work.  I was truly chasing daylight to get this one done and I wouldn’t change a thing about this run.  Ok, maybe the pit stop I had to take in the woods to pee at mile 6, but other than that, it was perfect.  Splits were: 9:54, 9:52, 9:56, 9:33, 9:26, 9:24, 9:12, 8:54!  And…I got to capture this picture when I finished.


Saturday I spent the day in the city with my family.  It’s amazing what a train ride, some shopping, and AMAZING food can do for the soul.  AND I got to meet one the amazing John Colleta of Quartino in Chicago which is one of our FAVORITE places to eat in Chicago.  WINNING.

Short rib tacos from The Grand Lux Café in Chicago-YUM!
Short rib tacos from The Grand Lux Café in Chicago-YUM!
Chef John Colleta of Quartino took the time not only come out and greet us, but he made us a complimentary pizza!!!
The best pizza I've ever eaten.  Ever.  LOL
The best pizza I’ve ever eaten. Ever. LOL

Sunday was a quiet day filled with football watching, cooking, and one last run to wrap up the week.


The pic doesn't do this meal justice, as my daughter said she LOVED the sweet potato puree!
The pic doesn’t do this meal justice, as my daughter said she LOVED the sweet potato puree!

It felt great to regroup over the last few months, and I really feel like I am getting back to ‘me’ again.  Despite a rough summer, I can happily say I am continually movin’ forward and it feels great.

How was your week?  Do you ever do touristy things where you live?  What’s your favorite cuisine?

Have a wonderful week!!!

❤ Michelle

marathon training, Recipes, weekend wrap up

Running long, cooking slow, and Lily Trotter sock review!

As most of you know, I had 19 miles on deck this weekend for my week 13 of marathon training.  While I normally prefer to run my short runs by myself, the thought of running 19 miles solo was not giving me peace of mind.  Add in the forecast of 50-60% chance of thunderstorms and you could say I was nearly dreading the miles.  I didn’t sleep hardly a wink Friday night, but had my rain poncho and gear all set.  I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and was out the door by 5:15.  The first few miles were VERY wet, and I was thankful for my poncho despite it’s lack of comfort.  If you read my mini recap on my FB page, you saw that I accidentally ‘dismissed’ my first 3 miles of running when I ‘paused’ to take off my poncho. Damn.  Thankfully I knew were I was and had just looked down at my watch.  Here we go with more runner’s brain math, ack, lol.


Soggy, yet smiling!
I was lucky enough to run into my friend Melissa around mile14!
 The miles ticked by, and something happened out there that even surprised ME.  I was…HAVING FUN out there, running between raindrops, enjoying the trails, and listening to music. I COULD run solo, no matter the mileage, and this made me smile.  It was liberating to be out there on my own, with claps of lightening in the distance to cheer me on.  And even when it started to POUR cats and dogs, I smiled.  I took cover briefly to fuel, but when I realized it wasn’t letting up I continued on for a good 3 miles in some pretty hard rain.  And I do believe, I was smiling from what I’m told from friends who saw me out on the trails that morning.  I felt/feel nearly renewed.  My legs hurt, my knee ached, and my ITB yelled at me the last few miles, but nothing was going to bring me down.  YAY for a good long run.


I was contacted by Lily Trotters a couple months ago to try out their compression socks.  But I received the socks, on the very day of my daughter’s accident and honestly forgot about the review.  Saturday seemed to be the perfect day to try the socks out after my long run to aid in my recovery.  Here’s what I thought:

Loved em!!!
Loved em!!!
1. They were very easy to put on, unlike some other compression wear that you have to tug and pull to get on.

2. The colors were really fun, and I loved the polka dot print.

3. They were SOOO comfy, and I actually slept in them last night and woke up with happy legs.

All in all, I loved them and will use them in the future.  I am particular with my socks, but am hoping they will make sleeves too so I can run in them as well.

In my attempt to eat healthier and lose 10 lbs. I decided to make crock pot pork carnitas for dinner so I would have yummy left overs for lunches this week.

Pork Carnitas

Pork roast, boneless-pat dry and season with kosher salt and pepper

1 large red onion, roughly chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

3 small red chili peppers, chopped

The juice of 1 large orange, 3 small limes

Spice Rub

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tbsp. dried oregano

Drizzle the roast with extra virgin olive oil, and liberally apply the rub.  Place in your crock pot with the fat cap up, and add your onions, garlic, and peppers.  Drizzle over the juice of the oranges and limes, and cook on high for 4-6 hours, or low for 6-8 hours.  Remove the pork, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.  Pull apart with two forks, and place in a bowl.


Drain the liquid from the crock pot, and add the strained liquid back in to the pork to keep it nice and juicy!!  I served it over a salad of mixed greens with black beans, corn, and avocado.  No dressing needed, just drizzle a bit of the drained juice over the top!

Dinner is served!
Dinner is served!
Weekly mileage-27 miles, a few miles short but my knee is happier

Core fitness-6 days=600 sit-ups

Lb.’s lost-NONE…but I blame it on girlie crap this week.

Did you run long or race this weekend?  Have any good crock pot recipes you love?

weekend wrap up

Weekend wrap up and stuff

Well my writing/running/cooking streak came to an abrupt end when I woke up Thursday with a terrible headache/migraine.  This also sidelined my run, and when this happens a dark cloud likes to hang over my head…such is Midwestern life in the winter, at least for this runner.

Knowing I wasn’t feeling myself, my hubby brought me THESE beauties to cheer me up.

Flowers for no reason?  Yes please...
Flowers for no reason? Yes please…

See, he is leaving (now has left) for the better part of the next 3 weeks which leaves me in charge of not only my job, but managing my kids, the house, the kids activities and my sanity.  No easy feat, let me tell ya…I’ve done it a million times before, but sadly it never gets easier.  Maybe because he really is my best friend, through and through, so being apart from him leaves me feeling low.  I don’t need someone in my life to make me happy, don’t get me wrong…but the select few humans I’ve chosen to keep near are a part of me-people I WANT in my life.  My people…so now that my #1 person is far away, well, let’s just say I saw him off at 4:30 a.m. and several tears were shed.

Also, every time I see him off, I am reminded back to a time when I saw him off to war.  This was a time when war meant you may never see your loved one again.  And every time he walks out the door, I have to swallow the lump in my throat.  My life just doesn’t work without him in it…Ok sorry, babbling over.  He is gone, and time to suck it up…lol

I woke up with yet another headache brought on from tears I am sure, so when I got a text from my virtual RBF Maria asking if I wanted to run, I almost said no.  But I didn’t say no…I drank some water, washed my face, and changed clothes to run on the ‘Mill.  I only ran 2 miles, but it definitely helped turn my morning around.

2.2 miles and my #Plankchallenge to start my day!
2.2 miles and my #Plankchallenge to start my day!

Lastly, I took my mini-persons to see the movie “Into the Woods” today, and we enjoyed it.  A bit drawn out, but I am guessing live this show is amazing.

Aren't we cute?  LOL
Aren’t we cute? LOL

With that, I’ve prepared snacks and helped the kids prepare for the week.  Ballet outfits are washed, school papers signed, and Valentines filled out for my mini-me who has a party this week.  The trash cans are even taken to the curb.  Go me, LOL!

My goal is short term this week, as I pray to just make it through Sunday because I also am working all weekend.  The hubs will be home Saturday afternoon, but turns around and leaves again shortly there after.  Weekend duty is always my nemesis, so wish me luck!


Questions!  How was your weekend?  Does your spouse travel for work/military?  What was the last movie you saw?

Have a great week, y’all!

❤ Michelle