Pumpkin Train

Yes. I know it is December, which means that all of the hype over pumpkin-flavored food, desserts, and drinks is now over.

However, I just jumped on the pumpkin train only a few short weeks ago, and I’m not ready for this ride to be over quite yet. That’s right, until this year I never ate anything pumpkin. Not even the pie. But this year I have become just a little bit braver when it comes to food…I’ve eaten jalapenos (and loved them), onions (and loved them), mushrooms (and, oddly enough, loved them), and now pumpkin-y things and yes, I also fell in love with them. That picture of pumpkin pie…I ate it in December.

A couple of weeks ago I was assigned to bring the dessert for dinner club’s Thanksgiving gathering. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend (tear!), but I still wanted to make sure my family of friends had something sweet to eat after all their ham and casseroles.

Of course, I reached for my handy-dandy phone to open up my AllRecipes app for this recipe. It’s always my go-go cooking source. I know that all of you are over the pumpkin thing, so I’m not going to bore you with the recipe, but if you are interested in these pumpkin pie chocolate chip cookies, click here!)

I was baking away when the husband got home from basketball practice, and with a very concerned look on his face he asked me, “What are you doing, honey?” When I explained to him that I was baking cookies for dinner club he asked even more concerned now, “From scratch?”

Yes. I made these from scratch, and if I do say so myself they were pretty darn tasty. The term “myself” might actually be completely correct, because even though all my dinner club friends texted me telling me my cookies were delicious, I can’t be for sure they weren’t just trying to make me feel good. I did have to force my husband to eat one…and the word “force” is not an exaggeration…and I’m pretty sure my sister never ate one.

I can’t be for sure if anyone actually ate any at dinner club, but I guess I’ll take their word for it. They must not be too afraid of my dessert-making skills because I volunteered to make dessert for next weekend’s Christmas dinner club and nobody tried to stop me.

I promise, though, I’ll jump off this pumpkin train soon (probably when my pumpkin spice coffee creamer runs out) and I’ll be jumping on a new one soon. I’m expecting some very delicious peppermint and chocolate combinations in my very near future. Maybe this one from Miss Julie!

I mean, it is December after all.

ang

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Greatness

When I woke up this morning it seemed like every other morning. I drug my booty out of bed, put on my robe, let the princess outside. I wished that I had woken up earlier, but I felt tired and worn down…from what I have no idea. I went to the bathroom and noticed how dark my eyes look, and although that seems like more of a curse than a blessing, I thanked God for my half italian background. I thought of everything that I wanted to do today, made a schedule in my head, but took no action to start on that list. Instead, I brewed a hot cup of coffee and sat down at my computer.

There is something so comforting about a cup of coffee.

I started on my e-mails and was excited to see I had received one from a friend regarding the latest dinner club gathering. Goodness. I’m so thankful to have such amazing girlfriends in my life right now. Then I read on. The next e-mail was to inform me that I had a new comment on my blog. I read it, and my heart immediately filled with gratitude.

This blogging thing is funny. Sometimes I wonder why I do it. It takes up a lot of time, it makes me feel vulnerable, sometimes it is too hard to think of something to write about, and I think that some people think it is weird. But then I get an e-mail informing me that I have a new comment from someone…and their words fill my heart with joy, and I remember why I write.

And I am grateful for this journey I have taken with my pinky toes.

As my morning continued on, my next stop was Facebook. As I scrolled down the page, catching up on everyones’ public personal lives, there were two things that caught my attention. One was this article being shared, and the second was like song that was posted by a relative I haven’t seen or spoken to in awhile…

And then my whole morning made sense.

I have found this happy place in my life through the blessings of God. He had all this planned…I have this amazing family…husband, mom, dad, sister, stepdad, aunts, uncles, cousins, mamaw, grandmas, and grandpas…because of Him. I have wonderful friends because of Him. I started this blog and have carried on writing through events set in place by Him.  I live an extremely blessed life, and while everything along the way so far hasn’t been all daisies, it has all been worth it. The appreciation and gratitude I feel like morning is pretty unexplainable.

Just Greatness.

ang

P.S. Here’s a Friday affirmation for you:

Fa La La La La La La La La

It’s December. DE. (Fa…) CEM. (La…) BER. (La!) When did that happen?

I must sound silly at the beginning of every month stating the obvious, the fact that time seems to be flying by at a ridiculous pace. But I can’t help it. It’s too true. Time is flying by. My husband is a whopping twenty-eight years old, I am almost twenty-six and a half years old now, Tia is going to turn three and a half at the end of the month, I’m noticing more and more gray hairs each day (all in the same location…thank you Mom), and I think it is now safe to call my laugh lines actual, real-life wrinkles.

But it’s all okay because it is December…which means it’s almost Christmas…which means it’s almost my favorite holiday!

source

So many of my most favorite memories of family come from this month. My sister and I made up this game called “The Light Game.” At night when our mom or dad would be driving us around somewhere we would each look out the window and secretly count how many houses we saw that had Christmas lights. At the end of the trip when we’d arrive at our destination we would both reveal how many houses each of us saw, and whoever had seen the most would win.

Maggie would always make up a number that was actually a lot higher than her actual count. She always wanted to win…and she rarely ever did. Maybe if she hadn’t purposely broken her glasses when she was a kid then she could’ve seen the houses better. 😉

Normally at the beginning of the month I detail out a list of new goals for the month, but this time I am not. November was pretty awesome…I decided where I am going to attend school, I ran my second half marathon and PRed, and smiled a whole, whole bunch. It’s hard to beat all that.

This month my goal is just to enjoy life. This might entail some running…or it may not. It might call for some creativity…or maybe not. It might mean I will cook and bake a whole bunch…but most likely not. What I do know is that it will most definitely require lots and lots of quality time spent with my family, lots of laughs with my girlfriends, and some lazy snuggle time on the couch with my husband and little Tia.

Which is good, because I’m already planning out my goals for two thousand and twelve, and let me tell you, they’re going to be big ones! Come January I’m going to be a busy, busy gal (and I can’t wait!)

Merry December to you!

ang

Weekend Recap

This weekend ended up being extremely successful, productive, and downright delightful!

I tried a new food (which I ended up loving!), I made a new food (smashing s’mores!), I got to see my family, I got to see all my friends, and I achieved one of my October goals! The only negative to the weekend is the fact the the Pretty Pretty Punters lost their first game to the Battling Bruisers, putting them in a tie for second place. I blame it on the Greenbay Packers. Catches by twelve different players…seriously? Why not just the three players I had? And Finley, why don’t you try not dropping so many passes.

Oh my goodness…where is this blog going?! When did My Pinky toes become a place to talk football and trash talk professional football players? I’m sorry Finley, but for real…try catching a few more, please…for me!

Now…back to where this post was supposed to be going…

Saturday morning I woke up nice and early to meet my running gals for a nice long run. I’m seriously in love with my running group right now…they helped my seven miles absolutely fly by! I really think a long run is the best way to start a weekend!

After my morning run I cleaned up and headed to town to make a visit to my mom and mamaw at their craft show, my sister, and then do some shopping! I have been dying to go shopping since my birthday back in August and I finally found some time to do so…and to make it even better, the shopping trip ended up being successful (more to come on that tomorrow!) After shopping it was time for some dinner club action!!!

(Left to right: Kellie, Heather, Casey-on top, Megan-on bottom, me, and Lauren)

The beautiful Lauren hosted Saturday’s dinner club and we had a bonfire! She made chili and chicken tortilla soup. I have never tried a tortilla soup before, but it smelled so good I knew I had to give it a try. After asking what all the ingredients were to make sure there’d be no surprises for me, I whipped myself up a bowl. It was delicious, and I’m pretty darn proud of myself for trying it! Thank you Lauren…I must get that recipe!

(Left to right: top row-Nate, Caleb, and Lance, bottom row-Brandon, JR, my hubs, and Seth)

As for my smashing s’mores (recipe from Jessica’s blog)…

…they were definitely a hit! I don’t have an after photo of them because they were all eaten!!! I managed to snag a couple for myself, and they were pretty darn good if I do say so myself! Make them…now!

We all had a great time catching up, meeting the new baby of the group, awing and googling over both babies of the group, eating, drinking, and of course, always laughing.

Oh, and for achieving one of my October goals…

…I tried something pumpkin flavored…pumpkin beer! Yummmm….!

How was your weekend?!

ang

Dinner Club

A little over two years ago my best friend came up with the greatest idea.

She’s an organizer and a planner. She always makes sure that there is time penciled in to see each other. We have dates set out months in advance. She always has to remind me to update my planner. Frequently.

She came up with this idea that once a month all of our friends would get together and have dinner together. One couple will host the party and provide the main course. Every other couple will bring an accompanying side dish…and of course, B.Y.O.B.

Hence, dinner club.

I, not being the greatest cook in the world, usually just bring chips and salsa since that is the one thing I’m pretty darn good at making, but for tonight’s dinner club I decided to step out of my box!

Homemade Smashing S’mores, recipe via Jessica, a recipe-maker of all things ridiculously delicious looking! Mine don’t look quite as nice as hers, and when I was finished I had chocolate just about everywhere…even on the kitchen walls…don’t ask me how! I’m hoping they’re a hit tonight!

Back to dinner club…

I think that everyone should be a part of someone’s dinner club. It is a great way to learn new recipes, eat good food, but best of all, it is the best way to stay in touch with all your good friends (and even make new ones!) It is also a time when it is okay to act like a teenager again (at our very first dinner club get-together we ended up going and tee-peeing another friend’s house…true story!)

We have had so many different dinner clubs over the past two years and each one is as exciting as the last. We have had italian themed and mexican themed dinner clubs, we’ve had barbecues, I hosted a pizza bar dinner club, we have had tailgating dinner clubs, and we even brought dinner club to Mexico this summer!

The truth is, it is easy to put your friends on the back burner when you have so much going on in your life. I know that I’m guilty of that a lot. I love my friends, and I know that they love me, but when you have so much going on it can be hard. Dinner club gives us an excuse to forget everything else that is going on and see each other. It gives us something to look forward to every single month. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve counted down the days until a dinner club!

…and now in just nine more hours I’ll be in some good company! 🙂

ang

 

Did I Really Do That?

I can’t believe it has been almost two whole weeks since I ran my first marathon.

I think back to that day and have to question whether or not it actually happened.

I mean, I remember running it…I remember waking up in the morning, meeting up with all my friends, and arriving at the race sight. I remember starting the race, running alongside Dean Karnazes, meeting some amazing people, seeing my friends at the transition points, and seeing all of my family along the course. I remember my sister screaming, my mom crying, my dad running, and my husband providing me with fuel and water. I remember crossing the finish line, and I remember crossing the finish line for a second time with all of my girlfriends.

I remember hugging all my family at the finish line, drenching my mom in my own sweat, and eating strawberries and blueberries after the race. I remember sitting in the grass cheering on the final runners as they neared the finish line. I remember being too sore to climb a staircase without using all four of my limbs.

But did I really do that?

If it was actually reality (although I’m still unsure at this point) then it was one of the most amazing feelings in the world. It was a feeling that I wish every person can experience at least once in their life, and it was a feeling I want to seek out again.

I’ve been scouring race sights all week trying to pick a race that fits into my work schedule, volleyball schedule, dinner club schedule, and budget. It’s not the easiest task in the world, and I’m going stir crazy not knowing the next time I will get to challenge myself. I have a few races in my sights…maybe a 10K soon…a half marathon before the end of the year, and I definitely need to find a 5K so that my hubs and I can actually finish our bet! I have my eyes set on another marathon for beginning of next year.

It has been interesting working out this week without a set schedule or training plan. I’m such a goal-oriented person and I miss having my training plan stuck to my refrigerator, but it has been kind of nice to just go with the flow this week and enjoy the magnificent weather!

My first post-marathon run was Saturday and I ran three easy miles and walked an additional mile. I was definitely nervous as I was leaving my house that my legs might have forgotten how to run, but somehow they started moving on their own!

On Tuesday I ran four miles on the treadmill (a shame, I know, since it was beautiful outside) and did some strength training. (Yay for biceps!)

On Wednesday I decided to try some Yasso 800s (don’t worry, I didn’t know what they were either until just recently). I learned about this track workout on Emily’s blog last week, and I was very intrigued! I’ve been very inspired by reading about Emily’s running (and swimming and biking) experiences on her blog, so I thought this workout must be legit! Basically you run timed, speedy 800s on a track with an un-timed cool-down 400 in between. You start by doing four 800s the first week, and then you add another 800 each week until you reach ten. Your time during your 800s should (possibly…) reflect your marathon time. For example, if you run an 800 in three minutes and forty seconds, you should be able to run a marathon in three hours and forty minutes (I really hope I’m explaining this correctly!)

Yesterday consisted of some random crosstraining, and today I set out bright (well, it wasn’t actually bright yet) and early for a nice four miler with some of the girls from the WOW running group. It was refreshing to get in another easy run with some awesome company!

While I may not know the next time I will be racing, I do know that these shoes aren’t ready to retire!

ang

The Birth of My Pinky Friends

It’s that time again.

My husband’s been walking around with a goofy grin on his face.

He has spent more time on the computer researching the past week than he has all his years of college.

Researching stats, injuries, teams, rankings.

We scour movie rental stores for season two of The League.

My cable bill is about to go up with the addition of one more, allegedly very important channel.

The Red Zone.

He hums a tune and asks me to guess what he’s singing.

I have a high chance of being right if I guess the intro to Madden, ESPN, the Red Zone, or CBS Sports.

We heard the song that the Kansas City Chiefs enter the field to come on the radio this weekend. He got excited and cranked up the volume.

Yes. It’s football season.

To be honest, him and his friends have been planning this years fantasy football league for the past several months. He just may have put more effort into the planning of this than our wedding. That is probably true for all of the husbands involved. However, us wives don’t seem to mind too much. We all preferred to plan as much of our weddings as we could on our own, otherwise they would probably have all been sports themed. Yes, we all love the Royals (eh, or Cardinals I guess…Casey and Kellie) but I don’t think Slugger would have been the best ring bearer.

Seeing all the boys’ excitement over their fantasy football league (whose team name I will leave out in order to keep a PG rated blog), us girls thought that we should do something, too, that we could be equally enthusiastic about. We tried to come up with some other type of “fantasy” league that would be related to something more girl-ish, but couldn’t come up with anything. But we like watching the Chiefs play, too, so why not create out own fantasy football league. Hence, the birth of My Pinky Friends, the fantasy football league for wearers of bedazzled KC Chiefs apparel, wives of football-obsessed men, and BFFs.

We take it seriously.

Yup, that’s us…studying our fantasy cheat sheets.

Just kidding! That picture was definitely posed. This one is more like it.

We did, however, take the advice from our respective husbands on who to pick first, who to stay away from, and which positions are most important for the scoring of fantasy football. We also decided the picking order the same way as the guys.

With a football throwing contest, of course.

After the ridiculous throwing contest was complete (thank you strength trainingfirst pick goes to me!) the draft was ready to begin!

The hubs warned me that the draft would be a long process and that us girls probably wouldn’t even stick it out to the finish.

Well, it really doesn’t take that long when you are using a cheat sheet entitled something along the lines of The NFL’s 100 Hottest Players.

Or if there are frozen margaritas involved.

Even while feeding, burping, and rocking a baby Lauren was able to make her picks the second it was her turn. It was sure nice of her husband to buy her a special fantasy football draft book! (The guys take this stuff so seriously!)

This girl is a seriously amazing new momma! (And hopefully her little one will take after his momma when it comes to throwing a football…not his dad…sorry B!)

And while I’ve never been one to actually look forward to watching football for eighteen consecutive hours every Sunday, I’m secretly looking forward to seeing how my players do!

This weeks’ matchups:

Pretty Pretty Punters (that would be my team!) vs. Dynamite Divas

Battling Bruisers vs. Tigers

Kara’s Krew vs. Breaston Plants (name courtesy of one creative husband!)

A-Team Nurses vs. The EPT Team

Wish me and Adrian Peterson luck!

ang

People Need People

(From The Girls From Ames, a note from Kelly to Angela)

As I finished reading Jeffrey Zaslow’s The Girls From Ames, I couldn’t help but keep thinking the same thing…

People need people.

It’s a simple concept really, but I don’t think that people rely on each other enough. I could be biased, though. I know that I am so unbelievably lucky to have all the people and support in my life that I do. My husband, my dog, my mom, my dad, my sister, all my girlfriends, guy friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, Mamaw…Lord knows that I’ve used each and every one of them to fall back on time and again. My hearts hurts for those people who may feel like they are alone. If you feel that way, I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. I am here for you! It doesn’t matter if you have just one person or ten people like the Ames girls…we need each other.

Reading about Kelly and Angela’s journey and struggles with breast cancer was very eye opening for me. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was a freshman in high school. I think I was a freshman. I remember when she told my sister and me that I felt sad, but I the thought never crossed my mind that I’d ever be without her. It’s strange how somehow I just knew she’d be okay. I feel bad though, now looking back, that I was so caught up in my own life that I wasn’t a big support for her. I mean, I can’t even really remember what grade I was in. I know by just being her daughter that gave her something to live for, but what I mean is that I wasn’t there for her to cry to or to vent to or just to be whatever she needed to be. I just didn’t know back then that she needed that or how to be it. Just like the Ames girls, as I’ve grown older I realize I may do things different now. Different situations throughout your life make you stronger, more ready.

My mom had many, many, many (and still does) people looking out for her and praying for her. See…people need people. And luckily, she kicked cancer’s booty and will be walking this weekend in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure! Go momma!

As Kelly mentioned that her friends, sisters, are there to catch her if she stumbles, “catching” someone can have so many different meanings. Sometimes it means lending an ear to someone…sometimes it means giving advice…sometimes it means throwing a party for someone…sometimes it means providing the bottle of wine to share…but whatever the case, the same things rings true…

…people need people.

I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be writing this blog if it weren’t for me finding the Operation Beautiful note in the bathroom at my gym. I needed that person to put that there. I know I wouldn’t be so happy and in love if it weren’t for my husband. I needed him. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have the guts to say what I need to say sometimes if it weren’t for my little sister showing me it’s okay. I needed her…

…and I still do, and I always will.

It’s just so true. We just need each other.

Thank you to my dear friend Casey for giving me the idea of starting a book club through my blog, and thank you to all my friends and family for reading this book with me and commenting when you were able. Thank you for bearing with me as I skipped weeks, slacked on reading a little, and took three months to finish one book! Thank you Zaslow and the girls from Ames for sharing this story and helping me to open my eyes to so many different things. I needed you all!

And so we have it…we’ve shared our final book club blog post on The Girls From Ames…our final cup of coffee together.

ang

 

 

The Bonds of Pop Culture

This Book Club post couldn’t have come at a better time! I’m not sure if I should admit it, but I am truly bummed that I cannot attend the New Kids on the Block/Backstreet Boys concert next weekend. Yes, I am a twenty-five (almost six) year old who is sad about missing the chance to see the Backstreet Boys. It’s almost like fifteen years ago when I cried because I missed the chance to score great seats to the BSB concert by one person in line. Cried. We still got to go to the concert, but Brian Littrell might have pulled my sister up on stage if we were in front row seats.

I loved reading the chapter in The Girls From Ames about The Bonds of Pop Culture. The girls’ obsession with Rod Stewart, the Osmond Brothers, and the Jackson 5 reminded me so much of the time when I’d pop the Backstreet Boys or Boys to Men cassette tape into my walkman, put on my head phones, and walk up and down my street. I thought I was so cool. I remember walking back into my house so entwined with singing the song blaring in my ears that I didn’t notice my dad sitting in the living room observing my insanity. Needless to say…embarrassing.

(Not quite as embarrassing as the fact the my little sister was obsessed with Billy Ray Cyrus…no, not Miley…Billy Ray…and she had a jumbo poster of him and his mullet in a frame!)

I remember sitting up in my best friend’s bedroom…her, my sister, and me…writing letters to each of our favorite Backstreet Boy members. Actually they wrote letters, I, being the wonderful artist at the age of ten, decided that it would catch Howie’s attention better if I drew and sent him a portrait of himself. Weird and creepy.

(I guess I had a “thing” for curly haired boys back then, too!)

Fast forward now to present day as I am mourning the fact that I never got to give Howie that picture and that I won’t get the chance to do so next Saturday. The truth is, I haven’t been to a concert since back in those days when I was a preteen, and my best friends think that is just craziness.

So, for my twenty-seventh (Wait…didn’t I just say I was twenty-five? That’s right, I’m skipping twenty-six because I don’t like even numbers.) my best friends surprised me with concert tickets to see Katy Perry!So, while I may have dismissed pop culture for the past several years, I’m proud to say that I’m back in it, and that I cannot wait until August 17th!

Thank you so much Heather and Casey for a wonderful birthday present, and I can’t wait to sing along, or scream, or jump up and down, or whatever people do at concerts now-a-days with you girls! ‘Cause baby, we are ALL fireworks!

(Umm…wow…way too cheesy!)

ang