Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Back to running!

I decided it is time for me to get my butt back in gear.  In high school through college, I was an avid runner.  It kept me energized, healthy, and mentally gave me the time to myself to think.  I completed my first half marathon nearly 2 years ago.  It was an awesome experience, and I loved it.  

Since getting sick at the beginning of this year, I have taken the year off from exercising.  I've needed a little motivation to get back into it... so I am signing up for another half.  It's in March, and I am really looking forward to training for it.  I kicked off today, running a start of 3 miles.  Felt good - but hopefully I can stick to it :)
{My girlfriend, Gina, and I after our half}

What is your favorite form of exercise?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A wonderful holiday!

Christmas was fun this year.  
TL and I spent lots of time with family!

My mother-in-law (MIL) is one of the best cooks I've ever met.  She has a unique style of cooking - she never measures anything, she just does what she thinks, and everything is always delicious!  We spent a day and a half with her - playing board games (cranium & catch phrase) and making dinner.  (Prime rib, cornish game hens, veggies, twice baked potatoes & sweet potatoes) TL's brothers were there - and we had a wonderful time.  It was relaxing and fun!  My very generous MIL got us some great new toys.  

Late Christmas Eve we spent with my dad's side of the family (it's a full blown crowd - more than 60 of us!) but it is a great time.  Loud, cheerful, and lots of babies :)  TL and I were only there for a short time, but it was fun to stop in and see everyone.

Christmas morning was cozy and relaxing.  My family is so thoughtful - it was fun being festive & just spending time together.  My parents got us some generous & sweet gifts and it was fun to give them ours.  We had our traditional breakfast and opened our stockings & gifts.  It was really fun to watch my nephew, Ryan, (20 months) open presents and experience the morning.  

It was a beautiful Christmas this year.  Family was the main priority for us - and we felt so grateful.

It's always kind of a sad feeling when Christmas is over - but this year, I am just feeling happy to have experienced it.  I am so blessed :)

How was your Holiday?  Did you get any fun gifts?  
{A few of us at Christmas Eve dinner}
Still waiting for more pictures (hint, hint MIL & Kel)  ;)

Monday, December 20, 2010

The presents are wrapped!

5 days until Christmas!
Presents are bought & wrapped and our plans are set.
I am so excited to spend time with the fam & celebrate.

My favorite tradition?
It's hard to pick one, but I would say...  Christmas morning breakfast.
When my sisters and I were little, we would wake up early and bring our stuffed stocking into mom & dad's room.  Each present is carefully wrapped (Santa is a busy guy!) and we open them one at a time.
After stockings, we would line up to go into the family room.  (my dad often had to set up the camera)
Santa would leave us one gift under the tree that wasn't wrapped!
As we played with our new toy, dad and mom made breakfast.  On the menu:
Green eggs & ham
cinnamon rolls
fresh squeezed orange juice
& my dads special rice recipe.

Then, after breakfast - we open our presents from the parents (one at a time).

This year, Christmas morning at my parents will be a full house.  My sisters, mom, dad, TL & the bro-in-laws, and of course, nephew Ryan.  (& the pups!)

We celebrate our Christmas with TL's family on Christmas eve.  My MIL is a fabulous cook - but we may go out this year.

I am so excited - I feel like a little kid.  
I am happy to be able to spend the holidays with my family.

What is your favorite Christmas Tradition?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Caprese = delicious!

I posted a recipe a few days ago from the "Cook This, Not That" book and a lot of you liked it.  Simple, healthy, delicious... what could be better??

Good news, I have another (memorized) recipe that I have made, oh, going on about 20-something times. It's that good.  It's called the Caprese.  You'll feel like you should be in Italy when you eat it ;)

What you'll need:
A clove of Garlic
A baguette
2 fresh plumpy heirloom tomatoes (they are out of season, so tomatoes on the vine work fine, too)  Get them in different colors if you want to really impress the person you're making it for.
About 5oz of fresh Mozzarella cheese (about the size of an apple)
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Basil  (I use the little leaves from our spice rack)

How to make:
Set your oven to broil (my new favorite oven tool, I didn't even know it existed until this recipe)
Cut the Baguette in half length wise and open on foil on a cookie sheet.
Put in the oven for about 2 minutes. (watch it, I burned the baguette the first time)

Cut the garlic in half and then smash it using the side of your knife (can you believe I got this technical)
The juices will come out and just rub the juices on the hot toasted bread.  Viola! Garlic bread (sort of)

Slice the tomato and the mozzarella and alternate laying them on the baguette.

Sprinkle a tablespoon of olive oil over the cheese & tomato - then sprinkle some of the balsamic over the unused side of the bread.

Add some fresh basil, salt & pepper on top of the cheese & tomato.

And this is what you get:
This is only a half of a baguette, but you get the idea.  
The dark section is the balsamic :)

Close it up and devour.  MMM!

Happy Thursday...
9 days until Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

So What Wednesdays...

I love reading these on other people's blogs...

So what if I am doing this because I am copying a bunch of other people's blogs.  I think it's funny.
So what if I went wine tasting twice in two weeks to several of the same wineries.  Its not like any of them are going to remember me.
So what if I drink 5 or 6 cups of tea a day.  It's unsweetened and calorie free.
So what if I can't remember what a few of the presents look like that we bought for our family.  We got our Christmas shopping done weeks ago!  At least I remember what they are.
So what if TL and I have competitions on who can turn on and off the Christmas tree more times.  It's on a clapper and we think it's hilarious.
So what if I have chipped nail polish on my toes and need a pedicure.  It's winter time and I am not wearing any open-toed shoes.
So what if Maximus & Zeus have a heated blanket we bought just for them from Costco.  It's okay to spoil your dogs.  Right?
So what if my mom and I have text conversations at random times of the day.  I am just glad she learned how to text.
So what if I am giddy like a kid for Christmas morning.  It's my favorite morning of the whole year because our family has so many traditions.

So what?!  ;)

Hope you are having a wonderful week
10 days until Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Art of Racing In The Rain

If you love dogs, this book is a must read.  I read it for my book club & all of us who have dogs absolutely loved it.
It is a story written from a man's best friend's (Enzo) perspective. It was a quick read - but had a lot of meaning.
At first, the book can be a little difficult to get into because it compares a lot life meanings to racing cars... but if you read through it, it all starts to make sense.  It's a story of a man's journey through adulthood - meeting a woman, having a baby... and then all of it unraveling.  Enzo stays by him through it all.  While I was reading the book, I kept Maximus & Zeus close so I could cuddle them and give them love. ;)
It is touching, meaningful, and I loved it!  

I hope you had a good weekend!  A couple of my girlfriends came into town & we had a blast - I am waiting to get some of the pics and then I'll post them :)

11 Days until Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sauteed Veggie Wraps

I saw this recipe blog hop on Natalie's blog and thought it would be fun to join!  If you have a recipe to share, head over to her blog and link up!
I talked about a new recipe book I got that I love in my Thankful Thursday post.
It's called "Cook This... Not That" and TL and I have found some great recipes in it.
I have only tried three - veggie wraps, a caprese, and guac - but I memorized the wraps and the caprese!
Here's how you make the wraps:

You need:
Bell Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar
Kraft Olive Oil Mayo (any mayo would work - this is just the healthy kind)
A clove of garlic
Feta Cheese

To Make:
Sautee the veggies in a pan with a touch of olive oil until desired color (I like mine really cooked)

In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the olive oil mayo with a tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar.  Mince the clove of garlic (use about half of the clove - or it's too garlicky) and add it to the mayo/vinegar mix.  It will make a brownish color spread!

Add a healthy dab of the spread to a tortilla & then put the veggies over it with the Arugula.  Then sprinkle a little Feta Cheese on top.  Roll the tortilla to make a wrap - and voila!  You've made them!
I know, the paper towel it is on makes it look very appetizing ;)

(Added bonus... one of the wraps has less than 200 calories!  & it's very filling!)

Pair with a glass of pinot and you've got a meal!

Thankful Thursday

{Happy Thursday!}

I'm thankful to have my amazing parents in my life to spend the holidays & everyday with.  (Please pray for my friend, Krysta, who is in the hospital with her mom who is fighting for her life - Krysta reminded all of her friends to hug their parents and tell them they love them)

I'm thankful for this gloomy weather.  For me, it adds to the holiday feeling.

I'm thankful that TL and I have 95% finished our Christmas shopping and I am SO excited to give the gifts out this year to our family! (I'm thankful I have wrapped all of them, too.)

I'm thankful for our Christmas tree because I am one of those cheesy people who loves to stare at it and misses it after December.

I'm thankful for my Uggs.  My feet love being warm!

I'm thankful for Maximus & Zeus (wieners!) who keep me company and fill me up with love.  They are just the cutest.

I'm thankful that my girlfriends are coming this weekend... we always have such a good time and they are seeing the new house for the first time :)

I'm thankful for TL.  Last night I fell asleep laughing because he was telling me stupid jokes.

I'm thankful for my new recipe book "Cook This, Not That!" because I have officially memorized (and repeated several times) two recipes. (which, if you know me, you know that's a big step!)

I'm thankful for all the sweet bloggers who share so much.  I was imagining having a large retreat for all of us to meet... then I snapped back to reality ;)

I'd say I'm pretty much just thankful all around.
What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Buttons, Redesigning & Twitter

I've noticed so many people have "buttons" lately, and I love the idea of them!  So, I made my own today (along with making a new header).  What do you think?

I know my other header was really cute (made by a college friend a few years ago) but I needed something new, and something that was actually my own image.  (That bike was a bridal shower gift from my mom - I love it!)

My photo editing skills are still a work in progress, but I tried ;)

Here is my button:
{for the code look on the left side of my page}

2 things:
Let me know if you add this to your profile and...
let me know if you have a button so I can add it to mine!!


Do you have twitter?  I do!  (as you can see on the left)
What is your twitter name?

TracyZLesh is where you can find me on Twitter!

Decorating for Christmas

I love Christmas time.  Our family has a tradition of going up the hill to cut down a fresh tree, and it makes the house smell very Christmas-like.  On a cozy, rainy Saturday a couple of weeks ago, I decorated.  
I have a few boxes of ornaments because my mom has collected them for me and my sisters our whole life.  I have a daughter ornament for every year & now we have ornaments from our wedding, puppies, and our travels!  (Those are my favorite to collect!)
I love pulling out the ornaments and thinking about the meaning behind them or who they are from.

My mom's house & tree always looks amazing (and homey) during the holidays - so it's hard for me to decorate with out her, but I did what I could - I'm definitely no 'Martha Stewart' ;)
The mess!
Remember my favorite vases?  
I filled them with Christmas ornaments, garland, and red pine nuts from Michaels!
 Our table... I am always trying to make it better.  
Christmas trees, pine cones, and candles from Pottery Barn. 
Garland from Michaels.
 Napkins from Home Goods - love that place!
 Our stockings (pottery barn) and poinsettias from Michaels
 The "New Home" ornament my mom got us!
 Of course Maximus & Zeus are the stars of our tree ;)
My MIL got me the weenie tree topper for us.
 My little pups!
The "First Xmas" ornament from last year.
Our tree!
We don't have a lot of stuff yet... but hopefully as the years go by, we'll collect it :)
I have loved seeing all of the pictures of the decor in your home.
Let me know if you do any more posts about it!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Burlesque: My Movie Review

I would have to give it 5 stars for the entertainment.  

I have a new love for Christina Aguilera.  She was incredible in this movie.  Absolutely gorgeous & her voice (per usual) gives me goosebumps.  Other faves:  Cher (yeah, she was good!), Julianne Hough, Kristen Bell, and  Dianna Agron (aka Quinn from Glee - she makes a very tiny appearance).

So much singing and dancing, but it isn't really a musical. It is action packed and I love the old fashioned theme in the costumes.  The story line is cute, too.  It's just my type of movie.

I went with a few girlfriends and they were the perfect company.  Everyone liked it and after we were discussing how beautiful the cast was and even my friend, Jessica, who doesn't like musicals, liked it.  Definitely the perfect "girls night" movie!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Amador County Wine Tasting

For our friend Kristin's Birthday, she wanted to go wine tasting.  TL and I were all for it :)  We spend a lot of time with her and her husband (TL and her husband are best friends), so it was a fun getaway for us (away from our normal restaurants and houses).

She decided on Amador County.  It's only a short drive (less than a half an hour) from our house (we really should go there more often) and it was all of our first time going there!

We made it to 6 wineries and stopped in the middle for a picnic lunch and some bocci ball.  The wineries are all pretty close together so it was easy to go to several.  It was a really fun day!
 At Young's Winery
 Happy Birthday, K!  (They just got married 10/10/10)
 Me and my favorite guy.
 K & I both have a major obsession with wiener dogs!
 Best friends... and crazy.
 Bocci Ball - TL giving K the look because we were beating them :)
 So cute!
Our delicious picnic - the winery poured us free wine!
We love them!
On our way home from tasting, we stopped at a Bistro for dinner - delicious!

If you are ever looking for a good place to taste - Amador County is awesome.
Tastings are free, the people are friendly - and it's usually great weather.

AND... thank you for all of your sweet comments on my last post regarding Andrew.  Our situation with him was such a gift to us and put everything into perspective. We still haven't found him... but we've got our eye out.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Story of Andrew

It was our typical night getting home from a 4-day cation at his mom's house for Thanksgiving.  Our bellies full and car packed with goodies.  TL wanted to set the Christmas tree up before leaving for work the next morning, and I was eager to get the laundry started.

As we were setting the tree on it's stand and getting ready to rinse, the brand new hose holder snapped and started spraying water everywhere (including on us).  In fatigued frustration, TL threw the hose holder in the car and decided he was taking it back to OSH (at that very moment).

A bit frustrated myself, I stripped out of my wet jeans and started a load of laundry.  It was already so dark and our house was a mess.  It's been really cold in Northern California, so I turned on the fireplace.

TL was gone for a while.  OSH is only a freeway stop away - but I figured he had some issues with the return of the hose holder.

A few minutes later my phone rang.  OSH had taken back the hose holder and he had a new one.

So what took him so long?  "I picked up a kid," he said.

What do you mean you picked up a kid?

He was 19 - but didn't look a day over 15.  His name was Andrew.  Glasses, short & skinny, brown hair, pale skin.  He graduated from a local high school last year.  He was adopted & his father had recently had a massive stroke and was placed in a home.  His dad was all he had.  No other family - and now, no home.

He's been sleeping in his car and receiving some help from a local Church.  He's been applying for all types of jobs - even considering the military.

The home his dad was placed in will only let Andrew stay for a 2 day maximum per week.  That leaves 5 days of his old Explorer and occasionally the Church getting by as home.

So, when he asked the (somewhat) irritable TL if he had any work he needed to get done for some extra money - TL said no.  But, he took a moment to talk to him.

Andrew didn't ask for money - he asked for work to make some money... because he was hungry. Starving.

When TL said no about needing work but asked if there was anything he could do - Andrew politely asked if he had any extra snacks in his car.

Sigh.  Snacks.  Imagine working up the courage to ask a stranger for a snack.

So, TL opened the passenger door of our car and told Andrew to get in.  He turned on the heater full blast and took him to McDonalds.  Andrew said he would just love 2 cheeseburgers and a milkshake -  Andrew was radiantly appreciative.  TL supersized the entire meal and threw in a 50 dollar gift card to McDonalds.

Andrew fought back tears when TL handed him the gift card.  "Are you sure?".  "Yes."

They chatted on the drive back to the Church and TL said he inhaled the food.  He was starving. (breaks my heart).

Andrew was polite, overly appreciative, and extremely grateful.  If this was some kid playing a prank, TL said he should win an Academy Award.

After TL got home, we talked for an hour about Andrew.  Then, we got in our car and drove around for an hour looking for him near the Church.  (The Church doors were now locked with the lights on, so we hope they let him stay there for the night).  We found quite a few explorers, but he may have gone into a store to keep warm.

Although we didn't find him, we kept a new sheet set, a pillow, a blanket and a grocery bag of snacks and water in our trunk.  We're keeping an eye out for him.

Andrew provided a powerful reminder for us.  TL was at the right place, right time - and we are grateful for that. Andrew has made me look at things differently this year.

We're going out tonight to look for him again.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Getting Our Christmas Tree

My mom and dad have been going to the same Christmas tree farm for 37 years to cut down a fresh tree.  My sisters and I have gone with them every year - and it is one of my favorite family traditions :)  As we have gotten older, our family has grown and it is such a blessing that we all get to spend time together.

There is nothing better than the smell of a fresh cut tree in your living room.  I have so many warm memories of growing up and spending time in our home with my mom's beautifully decorated tree.  It is such a special thing for me.  I love that TL and I have our own tree in our family room and it is a treat to spend time at my parents house with them and her famous decorating.  

Here are a few pictures from our adventure!
Ry-Guy - always happy!
 My amazing mom and me.  All bundled up!
 Bride & Groom to be!
Me and Mr. Ry Guy.  He's such a snuggle bun!
Ry-Guy and his best friend... Pops!
 My sister is a beautiful mom.  Aren't they cute!
 Kelly, J Lo, and Ry-Guy
TL cutting down our tree!
Kel, Juju, and me.  Sisters & Best Friends.
Like our matching hats? ;)
The whole gang.  Love them.
Me & TL.

I was bummed we couldn't bring Maximus & Zeus, but it was too cold for them.

In 37 years, this is the first time my parents have seen snow at the farm.  It was beautiful.

We are so grateful.

Hope you had a wonderful holiday week!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful (Thanksgiving) Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving!
I can't believe another year has passed so quickly.
I'm so thankful everyday, but today especially :)

I'm thankful most of all for my family.  My sweet, crazy, adorable family.
Mom, dad, nephew, sisters, BILs, and TL.
Joe, TL, MIL, Dave.
My amazing guy & pups.  I'm so thankful I married him.

I'm thankful for my beautiful friends - near and far.
I'm thankful for my health (& health of fam & friends)
I'm thankful for our home.
I'm thankful for the incredible meal we are cooking right now.

I'm thankful because my mom & dad are with TL and I together with his family this year.  It's the best of both worlds... (minus my sisters & their families).  We are on the central coast - it's absolutely gorgeous!

I hope you have a fantastic day today.  
(I'm thankful to have met so many wonderful women through this blog.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

A thankful morning at the food bank.

This morning - I dragged my bootie out of bed at 6 a.m. to volunteer at the food bank in my town.  I had no idea what an impact it would have on my day & my soul.  I have volunteered before - being a part of a sorority in college, we did our philanthropic events.... feeding the homeless, ect.

But this was different.

I am a member of the Jr League in my home town.  If you don't know what it is, it's a women's organization that focuses on enhancing the community through philanthropy, volunteering, and raising money.  It's also a place to meet inspiring women.  I heard about it originally from my cousin, Mackenzie, who is the president of her chapter.  Volunteering is quickly becoming a staple of importance in my life.  Not only because of what I do for others, but because of what it does to me.

Today, I met up with a big handful of these Jr League women and several volunteers in our area and we fed the hungry.

But not the "typical" hungry you would think. These are every day-working people.  People who have recently lost their jobs, hit an unforgiving life speed bump.  People who just want to feed their family for the holiday.  Many were embarrassed to be in line... but all of them were extremely appreciative. I had to fight back tears a few times when some of them looked at me and said "thank you so much, god bless."

More than 2,000 people were already in line when I showed up at 7 a.m.  The line wrapped around the block - and immediately after I stepped out of my car, I took a deep breath...

Wow, there are so many hungry people.

We didn't hand out hot food - we handed out boxed stuffing, mashed potatoes, canned vegetables, cranberry, and (most importantly) turkeys.  The food bank (along with Jr League women & volunteers) gathered 7,056 turkeys...  & today, we passed out half of them... the other half will be handed out on Wednesday.

I did my best to be positive with a cheerful "Happy Thanksgiving" with every bag of canned food I distributed.  I made eye contact with them.  I wanted them to feel the warmth I hold for them in my heart.

I wish everyone a fulfilling thanksgiving holiday with their family.

I am truly thankful.
The line wrapped around for blocks.
Some of the Jr League girls getting just before distribution.

These are all the fixings.
These are a lot of the turkeys - so generous of our community to donate.
Handed out 2,000 of these bags.

{{Thank you to my friend, Tuti, for taking all the pictures}}