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


food, goals

Two things, Tuesday…Soup and dreams

Tonight’s dinner was a new recipe I came up with after several rough days at work. I wasn’t sure what I would make with the chicken thighs I pulled out of the freezer, but I knew it would comforting regardless.  And what’s more comforting than a yummy soup to warm the soul after chilly temps and a few harsh days at work.


Chicken and gnocchi soup

Who doesn't love a good bowl of soup?
Who doesn’t love a good bowl of soup?

What you’ll need:

4 chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces

4 cups of low sodium veggie stock

4 cups of water

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons of Worcestershire  sauce

2 tablespoons of butter

2-3 tablespoons of garbanzo/fava flour (can be found in the gluten free section of your local market)

1 red pepper, diced

1 red onion, diced

2 celery stocks, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

Cayenne pepper, taco seasoning, cilantro, oregano, basil, parsley, salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup of grated parmesan to garnish

I used store bought gnocchi, but plan on learning to make this from scratch

In a large sauce pot, add your butter, and flour and cook through stirring with a whisk.  Add in your veggie stock and water, stirring well.  Bring the liquid to a rolling boil, and add your heavy cream.  Season with salt, pepper, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce. Reduce the heat to a simmer while you prepare the ‘meat’ of the soup.

In a separate pan, add extra virgin olive oil (enough to coat the pan) and bring to a medium/high heat.  Cook your chicken through, seasoning with salt, pepper, and taco seasoning.  Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside.

Drain the grease from the pan, but don’t wipe any excess oil.  Add a splash of oil, and add in all your veggies.  Season with salt and pepper until cooked 3/4 of the way.  You still want a slight crunch to your veggies.

Add your chicken to the large sauce pot with the stock as well as oregano, basil, cilantro and parsley and let simmer for 20 minutes.  While this is simmering, cook the gnocchi according to the package directions.  This takes about 7 minutes.

Next, add in your veggies, stir well, and prepare to plate.  Just before serving, add your gnocchi to the soup, stir gently, and serve!

I garnished with parmesan cheese!


As most of you know, my ultimate dream is to work in the food industry.  Be it as a Chef, a writer, a critic, or restaurateur I know my place is in the food industry.  As I was driving home from work today, I had my one on one time with God and asked for His ultimate guidance.   I hate the feeling that although I have a good life, I long for so much more for my family.  I chased that dream recently with my MasterChef audition, but sadly that journey was short lived despite months of preparation.  So as my family hunkered down to watch the season premier MasterChef Junior I couldn’t help but to have to fight with that nagging tug at my heart.

photo credit,
photo credit,

That tug was quickly replaced with a renewed sense of pride in the children of today’s society. One young Chef presented raw chicken, and instead of competitive hatred, these kids rallied around this little Chef and I found tears pouring down my face.  My youngest sat nestled in the crook of my arms, and she squeezed me a little tighter when she saw what the kids did to comfort the little Chef.  So at the end of the day, I may not be a MasterChef…but I am teaching my kids a love for great food, compassion, and the importance of dreams.  Despite an ache in my soul some days…I know ultimately my dreams are still very real.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am still choosing to be content with the gifts God has given to me.  But I do refuse to settle.  I’ll keep chasing those dreams…just watch me!  🙂

Keep movin’ forward gang.  Always.

❤ Michelle


moving forward, running

One week to go…squelcher and all…

I have been battling sickness for the entire week.  My PTO bank is nearly empty, and I have a race to run in just over one week.

So what did I do tonight, after a long day at work?

I cooked.  I washed my hands, cleared my throat, took my sinus meds, took another deep breath…and I cooked. I made my famous chicken soup, of course, because what else do you eat when you aren’t feeling well?

The recipe can be found here:

This week has been a toughy…sickness, seeing so many lose loved ones, and just in general discord lead me to write this post.

Because at the end of the day, isn’t it all about what brings us joy?

So tonight I dusted off my knives, prepared dinner with my youngest sous chef by my side, reminding myself not to be the squelcher of joy in my kids lives. Because sadly, I have found myself being a squelcher.

What is a squelcher you ask?  It’s the one who constantly nags, clean you room, get your elbows off the table, do your chores, oh, and is your homework done all on a Friday night when they should be able to let their hair down…meh, I suck sometimes.

So tonight, I shut my trap.  I let it all be.  I called my Mom, like any 41 year old woman does, and I vented, chatted, and laughed.  I listened to my kids banter.  I welcomed my husband’s kisses…and I just smiled.

This weekend I will celebrate my eldest daughter’s 15th birthday one week early.  I will rest.  And I will mentally prepare for our half marathon NEXT weekend.

What are you up to this weekend?

❤ Michelle




Two things, Tuesday…

Tonight marks the eve of school starting in the Chicagoland area.  My oldest starts her journey in HIGH SCHOOL tomorrow, and my youngest starts her 3rd grade year in elementary school.


My nostalgia is at an all time high, so I spent the evening helping the girls clean their rooms, pack their bags, and pick out their first day of school outfits since my work hours don’t allow me to see them for more than a few minutes in the morning.  I choked back the tears after just hugging my eldest “J” wishing her a good day at school tomorrow. “Don’t cry, Mom” she said…”I’m not crying” I responded despite choking back the tears.   THIS girl, who has given me more grief than I care to admit, holds a special place in my heart for it was just her and I for nearly 4 years.  I divorced shortly after she was born, and from then on out it was me and her.  Her.  And me.  And we make a pretty darn good pair despite butting heads more days than not.

My youngest is my spit fire…my little zest for life who could care less about schedule or time.  Her passion for life makes my heart sing, and my head hurt as I struggle with teachers to get her to focus vs. daydream and want to create.  I don’t want to squelch her zest, but reeling it in the last few years has caused me more stress than I care to admit.  How does one balance this passion?  I know, with time…she’ll get it.  But in the mean time, her passion and smile keep me singing…both on the trails and in my home. Look at these smiles…life. is.  good.



I have reclaimed my love for running with a partner.  And this just isn’t any ole partner.  It’s my husband.

I came home from work today tired.  Last night we were hit with crazy thunderstorms and I slept all of maybe 3 hours.  I wanted to crawl into a tiny little ball on my recliner and nap.  Yet as I walked into the door after work, there was my husband ready in his running clothes and welcoming me with a smile and a kiss.  I ensured the kids and dog were fed, and changed my clothes for our 5k run that was on our training schedule.  It was hot. Nearly 90 degrees hot.  But we ran.  I had a hard time the first mile, but settled in quickly at a 9:30ish pace.  Not where near where our race pace needs to be, but less than our long run pace lately.  And I found myself running, singing, dancing to my own beat…settling in on a cadence only I know…we stopped a couple times to drink, complained about the humidity, and continued on.  And despite the humidity, we smiled…high fived.  And moved forward. In just four weeks we will be crossing the finish line for my husband’s first half marathon.  And I am in awe already of his dedication for training.


So my two things Tuesday encompass family and friends.  You know…the ones that are always there despite all time lows or all time highs.  And, a little bit of this…


Sweet dreams, Movers.  Remember to hang on to those constants.  They won’t let you down.

❤ Michelle



dedication, goals, moving forward, running

Weekend wrap up

Sometimes (often times) I find myself needed a weekend, well, FOR my weekend. This one was one of those weekends where we were on the GO all weekend. So this post will be mostly pics, filled with my little tid bits throughout the way…

Friday my husband had to go to a dress rehearsal for the wedding he was performing “Saber arch” detail in. So after dropping off my oldest at her BFF’s for a sleep over, I decided to embrace the moment and take my youngest out on a date. I asked her where she wanted to go to eat…SUSHI of course. We had such a nice time eating dinner, and walking the streets of Geneva window shopping and I treated her with well deserved ice cream.


We wrapped up our date with shopping for “Lucy” her American girl doll, and we found a beautiful hand made outfit.

Lucy's new outfit
Lucy’s new outfit

We got home a bit late, and I was tired. I worked a few hours of overtime this week, and knew I had a long run scheduled for the morning. So I set my outfit out, fuel was ready, and I went to bed at 10 p.m.

My typical fuel for a long run
My typical fuel for a long run

Sadly, my husband came home late from his practice, and I wasn’t able to sleep…AT. ALL. I may have gotten two hours of sleep Friday night…MAYBE.
I got out of bed at 5:45 with baggy eyes and heavy legs. My long run was GOING. TO. SUCK. (and it did)
I met up with the Dick Pond run club gang, and we headed out promptly at 7 am. It was hot. It was humid. And all I wanted to do was go back to bed. But I ran. And thankfully Melissa stayed with me for the majority of the run. There were several walk/water/want to stab myself in the eye breaks. Here we are at mile 4, with a bug planted firmly underneath my eye. New make up scheme? I think…NOT.

Do you see that bug?
Do you see that bug?

Around the six mile mark, I sent Melissa on her way so she wouldn’t have to witness my epic fail of a long run. I couldn’t hold pace and the mental demons were winning. But I finished…8.18 treacherous miles logged.


And then. There was the food. Yes, I devoured this egg sammich like a mad women.

I wanted to nap when I got home…but we had a wedding to attend. Here are some highlights.



Today I was blessed to be able to take a NAP this morning…Morning you say? Yup, hubby got up at 6:30 for his long run and I got my youngest breakfast and settled. I may, or may not have napped until 10:30 a.m. I forced myself out of bed, showered, cleaned, and went to a dear friends housewarming/Mary Kay Party. I love my friends. Have I said that lately?

I came home to THIS dinner…Grilled steak, Egg plant, and quinoa…Can you say yum? hubby made this!
Yup…my hubby made this!

I finished the weekend with a 12.5 mile bike ride. I needed to find my happy place, which I can usually find during a long run…so I needed to feel the wind on my face, the sun on my back…and all that jazz…So I dusted off my bike, and hit the trails. My bike sucks, I’ll just say it, but it keeps me moving regardless. My pace was slow, but I felt great being outside as the sun started to set. I captured THIS awesome moment tonight….

Great Western trail Barn
Great Western trail Barn

And as I flew down the hill on my Walmart bike I realized…I can fly…I can run…I can ride. And as always, I keep movin’ forward.

❤ Michelle