Jen, Jo, and the Proposal – 1 year later

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IMG_7590Today is April 4, 2016. Formerly my birthday, but now christened “The Day We Got Engaged” by Joseph. I think this is his excuse of getting out of my birthday gift. WRONG YOU ARE, DEAREST BABES. WRONG YOU ARE. Just kidding. I love you.

It’s been a long time coming, but I have finally decided to post a blog about our proposal. It’s been exactly one year since Joseph asked me to marry him, but not a day goes by when I don’t look down at my left hand and think to myself, “Wow. I am really engaged to the love of my life.” *cue cheesy romantic music here*

IMG_3852The question that people tend to ask me, “Did you know it was going to happen?” Every time I reply, I see a look of disbelief and skepticism in their eyes. “REALLY? You had NO idea he was going to propose on your birthday? *eye roll*”

Scout’s honor! I really had no idea that he would propose on that day. Not even an inkling. The topic of marriage is not new to the both of us. We had been talking about spending the rest of our lives together for awhile now – maybe somewhere around year three of dating, and I had a general idea that 2015 would be the year he would possibly propose. It had been about five plus years or so of dating, Joseph moved to Houston for me, we’re both working full-time, and so and so forth. However, I figured that it would be at the very EARLIEST summer of 2015, and I never imagined he would propose on my birthday. Actually, I even mentioned to him a couple of times, “Psh you wouldn’t propose on my birthday or holidays, HOW CHEESY!” Hahaha. Oops. I promise I don’t think it’s cheesy now. On top of that, I knew (or at least I thought I knew) that there was NO way he could propose on my birthday because I had planned my own birthday weekend to a T. Here was my plan:

  • Friday: Get mani/pedi done in the morning and then crawfish dinner with my cousins
  • Saturday: Tea party with a few of my girlfriends in the afternoon, dinner at my parent’s house with my entire family, and then go two-stepping later that night with my friends
  • Sunday: Brunch with Joseph

I called and made reservations at a local tea shop, and I even decided the week of my birthday that I wanted to go running in the morning on Saturday with Joseph. I PLANNED my birthday weekend out. So even if I thought Joseph would want to propose that weekend, there was no way because I made the entire weekend schedule for myself. Or so I thought.

IMG_7543

The weekend began according to plan. I treated myself to a mani/pedi, had dinner with my cousins Friday night (UGH THEY ALL KNEW ABOUT THE PROPOSAL THAT NIGHT HOW SNEAKY), and on Saturday morning, the day of the proposal, Joseph and I went running. Prior to the run, Joseph showed up at my house with a new dress and a Tiffany’s necklace. He walked towards me with a sign from Blake Shelton’s “My Eyes.”

Those high heels and that sundress,
turquoise heart hanging ’round your neck…

He purchased a birthday dress and a new necklace for my tea party. Ugh. Joseph is amazing at being thoughtful with his gifts. Again, there was no inkling of an impending proposal because this was my birthday. Of course he’d be all cute with a birthday gift like that. It’s Joseph. I know that sounds very boastful, but truly, for anyone who knows Joseph, they know that he goes all out with gift giving. Hey, I’m not complaining!

There was nothing in Joseph’s behavior that indicated that he was about to propose. He wasn’t shifty or nervous or anything like that. I was just moseying along in my life as usual. We finished our morning run, and I went home to get ready for my tea party, and he went back to his apartment to just… hang out alone I suppose. Haha, it never occurred to me.

One of my nearest and dearest friends (and sorority little sister), Jessica, was going to pick me up. This seemed normal. I am a birthday girl after all, and birthday girls are picked up on their birthday. I even sent a quick selfie to Joseph about 10 minutes prior to the pick-up saying, “I feel like a birthday princess!” This was about 20 minutes before he proposed. I wonder how he felt seeing my face and my text and knowing he was going to propose within the hour.

Jessica said she needed to pick up my other nearest and dearest Joanne. This made sense, Joanne was from out-of-town, staying at her in-laws, and with no car. Of course she needed a ride. And of course she would be running late which meant that we needed to “get out of the car and wait at the house for her to finish getting ready.” (LOL I LOVE YOU JOANNE) Again, everything leading up to the actual proposal made complete sense to me. Either I am the most oblivious person alive, or everyone was freakishly good. I think it’s a mixture of both. I had no idea that I was being proposed until the very moment that Jessica turned to me outside of her car and said, “Ummm… I think you need to go that way…”, pointed, and there I stood across the field and saw the path of books.

Everyone says that when you are getting proposed to is an out of body experience. This is very true. It’s surreal. You’re looking at yourself and going, “OHHMYYYGOOOOOOSSHHH IT’S HAPPENING!!!” Do I remember what he said? No, not at all. I only remember what he said because it was fortunately captured on video. Besides that, it would have been a blur of him getting down on one knee and me crying away whispering, “Yes! Yes!” To my knowledge, every bride-friend that I know does NOT really remember what their fiances/husbands said to them on the day of their proposal. It’s a blur of intense emotions. So tip to the guys, don’t stress too much about what you’re going to say. She loves you for you. Speak simply and from your heart. She’s going to say yes.

What I do remember is the moment that I realized it was happening. As I walked towards the first book station, I remember thinking, “Wait. No. Wait. Wait. What? This is not happening. Wait, I’m so nervous. Wait. No. It’s happening RIGHT NOW?” I was in a state of shock, and I felt nervous and tingly realizing that this was it.

IMG_3799
Path of books leading to him. ❤ LITERARY LOVE.

During the large expanse of field that I traversed across, I encountered my favorite books of all time. The 5 Love Languages. Harry Potter. Perks of Being a Wallflower. Eleanor & Park. Pride & Prejudice. A single line was highlighted in each book with a short and personal message from him. I think by book two station I was bawling. I was so nervous, elated, flabbergasted… I can’t even begin to describe the wide range of emotions that my mind went through. 1) This guy is making me WORK by walking to him. He would. 2) This guy annotated books for me. That is an English teacher’s fiance, no doubt. 3) My Fitbit hit 10,000 steps during my walk. Woohoo! That’s a sign, right? Haha.

The last station held a book of “us.” Our story. The best story. And there he was. Waiting for me. Seeing him get down on one knee… that’s an image that I will cherish in my heart forever.

After the proposal, I turned and saw all of my family, his family, and my close friends cheering and whooping along. WHERE DID THEY COME FROM? I’m still in ugly-cry mode right now, but I guess that’s just how life goes.

But wait, whatIMG_7562 about my tea party that I reserved? Right? Joseph already called six months ahead and reserved the entire restaurant for the engagement. He told the owner that I would call sometime in the spring to reserve a table for myself. He told the owner to go with it. And she did. And after my proposal, everyone that gathered together for us continued to celebrate. HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE?

I love thinking about this moment. I love remembering the day and how it went, and I love remembering the shock and joy that I felt. Even now, I can’t believe it happened. And I can’t believe that Joseph did all of that for me. Joseph thought this all through. He’s amazing. I am thankful each and every day that I am engaged to someone like him.

So it’s been one year since we’ve been engaged. And there are now about four months until we are married. I cannot wait until we are officially husband and wife.

Here’s a video capturing the moment, filmed and edited my friend, Karmina. I HAVE AMAZING FRIENDS.

Until the next post,

Jennifer

Indoor Cycling/Spinning: Jennifer’s Thoughts

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Because I am engaged to someone who is so deeply entrenched in the fitness industry, I happen to partake in such physical activities myself. I am a loyal fan of anything Joseph teaches (Insanity LIVE and more recently Joseph’s new classes over at Equinox River Oaks which include but are not limited to: MetCon3, Best Butt Ever, Armed and Dangerous, Stacked, and Precision Running). However, there are times when I dabble in other forms of exercise. In the past year and a half, I’ve taken a couple of indoor cycling classes and yoga classes as well. The next two posts will be about my experiences with them. I promise that the paleo recipes are coming soon. Somewhat soon. I’ve been slacking. I know.

I have only really taken indoor cycling at one boutique studio in Houston so far, Revolution Studio. It has multiple locations in Sugar Land and in Houston, so I like it because I can purchase a few classes and take them close by home (Sugar Land) or by Joseph whenever I’m in the area of his apartment. I’ve probably taken about… 10-15 classes so far, and I have had the opportunity to cycle with about 4-5 of the instructors. It’s a great studio, and I strongly recommend it for those who have a studio near them! I believe that they still have a special for first-time customers. $25 for a week of unlimited classes! Pretty good deal if you ask me.

The next few few paragraphs are going to walk through my mindset (as a first time indoor cycler) of a class. As a forewarning, there’s a lot of complaining, crying, and confusion.

*Walks In*

Okay… it’s dark. Very dark. Extremely dark. Where is everything, everybody? What is everybody grabbing up at the front? Do I do that too? I see, weights. Let me grab a pair before I head to my bike. This seems to be a thing. How do I find my bike? WHY IS IT SO DARK. Where the heck is my bike at? Okay, bike 26, third row. Good, good. Clip in, clip in….. What does that mean? Tad embarrassing so I need to look around. Oh, I see. Clip my spin shoes into the bike. I got it, I got it. Okay, okay…. I’m clipped in, let’s go! (For beginner riders, I do recommend asking for help. They are there to help you!)

“Turn your resistance to an easy 3.” Okay…. turn my resistance to what? There are no numbers. Or any indicator to tell me to turn to 3? What does this mean? Now she’s telling me to turn it to 6? Is there some internal measuring guide that all the cyclers in here know about that I don’t know… I’ll just pretend to jimmy around with the resistance… I don’t know.

Wow, this instructor is something else. Is she a motivational speaker? Reaching new heights? Being a better me? YES. I AM A BETTER PERSON. YES. I AM GOING BEYOND. YES I AM LETTING GO OF MY DAILY STRUGGLES. Did I sign up for a work-out class or a self-help class? Whatever. I like it.

“OUT OF THE SADDLE. UP. DOWN. UP. DOWN.” Oh geeze. Oh geeze. What? When do I go up out of the saddle? Oh crap, everyone is already out of the saddle. Time to get my butt up there. WAIT. WHAT JUST HAPPENED. I’m up and out of the saddle, but now everyone is down… how did that happen???  What did I miss? I’m a teacher for goodness sakes, when did I miss those instructions? Oh, there’s some kind of pattern, I see. How is everyone following along so quickly? Stare intently at person in front of me – she seems to be a pro. WOW THIS CHICK IN FRONT OF ME IS GOOD. I AM JUST GOING TO FOLLOW HER. THANK YOU GIRL IN FRONT OF ME FOR KNOWING WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

“Okay, now turn that resistance up!” Wait. What. It’s already a struggle getting in and out of this dang saddle. I can’t tell what I hate more… when I’m in the saddle or when I’m out of the saddle. WHY ARE MY THIGHS BURNING OUT OF THE SADDLE, BUT WHEN I CYCLE IN THE SADDLE I CAN’T FEEL MY TUSH. WHAT IS THIS TORTURE. WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF. The struggle is too real right now.

Left. Left. Left Right Left. Wait. No. Crap, I’m not bouncing along with everyone else. How do I get in the rhythm? How is it that everyone can bounce in sync perfectly? What is this madness? WHY IS THIS NOT HAPPENING FOR ME?! Ugh, I hope everyone doesn’t notice how out of sync I am… good thing I’m in the back… Right. Left. Right. Right… Nope, nope, not happening right now. I am just going to bounce along alone in this room. Clearly, I have no ability to indoor cycle like a normal human being. UGH I HATE MY LIFE.

How is the world is everyone in here capable of whooping and shouting for joy? I am dying. WHY ARE YOU ALL SO HAPPY. WHAT CULT HAVE YOU JOINED. I will not whoop and cheer. Let me concentrate on getting out of here in one piece.

Nice, we get to work our arms now. I grabbed the 3lb weights initially because come on… those 1lbs look so dinky. I obviously already lift 5lbs at the gym. I’m all good.

Oh jeebus. I am not good. Why is it somehow insanely difficult. WHY CAN I BARELY LIFT MY ARMS. WHAT IS THIS CRAZINESS. It burns. My arms are engulfed in flames of pain and torture. Stop telling me to pump my arms. Please. Please. Can. Barely. Lift. Arms. Burning. Please. Send. Help.

Okay, okay, I’m getting the hang of this. I got my bounce going on, I fit in with everyone, I can maybe muster a little, “Whoo!” here and there. YEA, I GOT THIS. YEA I AM A RIDER, AND I AM A PART OF THIS COMMUNITY. I AM IN THE ZONE. I’m doing quite well! “OKAY NOW TURN THAT RESISTANCE UP TO AN 8 AND GET OUT OF THE SADDLE! NOW WE ARE GOING TO DO CRUNCHES” …. *cries inside* I can’t feel my legs, arms, and core right now.

“You can do it. Set your expectations and go beyond them. You are powerful within these four walls. Let everything else melt away. Whatever is going on in your life, just ride past it and put it behind you.”

Man, I am feeling inspired to be a better person. UGH I MADE IT THROUGH A CLASS. I AM ALIVE HALLE-FREAKING-LUJAH. Time to clip out? Ummm… embarrassing, why I am incapable of getting out of this bike… my shoes won’t clip out! “Lean on your right heel and turn it sharply to the right/left. It’s okay if you’re stuck, just take your feet out of the shoes and leave them in the bike.” NO. I REFUSE TO BE THAT “NEW RIDER” WHO CAN’T GET OUT OF HER DANG BIKE. I AM GOING TO CLIP OUT OF THIS DANG BIKE.

….

…. still struggling.

….

….Okay, I give up. I’m slipping my feet out of the shoes and leaving the rental shoes still attached to the bike. Defeated. Embarrassed. Everyone is probably staring at me thinking, “Ha, look at that poor girl. Clearly a first time rider. Can’t even clip out of a bike.”

*Leaves knowing that my body will hate me yet thank me the next day.*

I hope that there is something in that little anecdote that any of y’all have experience when taking an indoor cycling/spin class. Either that or I am just a hopeless failure at indoor cycling/spin and need to give up. As much as the crying/questioning/complaining, I actually do enjoy taking those classes a lot. I feel like I’m getting a great comprehensive work out, increasing and improving my cardio, and I genuinely want to be a better person from the instructors’ motivational pep talks. I can see how people become addicted to these places. Unfortunately, due to my current financial means (not to mention the fact that my fiance teaches group fitness himself), I am unable to consistently pay for and attend indoor cycling/spin classes. But if given the opportunity and when the time is right, I definitely plan on purchasing passes again. I am interested in trying out different boutique studios, but it’s harder for me seeing as I’m out in Sugar Land for the majority of the week. Perhaps once I’m married and moved in with Joseph in Houston, I’ll have the ability to check out a few studios in Houston.

I love the community and Revolution Studio though. Spin communities are a whole different breed of fitness, I can tell you that. I can see that the instructors and the staff up front have genuine care and concern for their riders, and it’s clear that they have a very loyal, positive, and great following of people. It’s easy as a beginning rider to feel left out and out of place, but I think given the chance, they will open their arms to you and welcome you in.

What are your thoughts? What have you experienced as a first time rider? Anything similar? Different? Any recommendations on different places to check out?

Until the next ride,

Jennifer

Seasoned Ground Beef/Chicken/Turkey – Easy MEALPREP Recipe!

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It certainly has been awhile. Not simply days or weeks… but rather months since our last post. My apologies. I wish I could say that we were incredibly busy and had no time to even think about blogging, but that isn’t true at all. Yes, there were times when we were quite busy (doesn’t everyone have those busy seasons?), but we most certainly had SOME time to blog something. So shame on us! We will try not to go too long between posts in the future.

I will have a LITTLE bit more time on my hands as I am forced to take a small hiatus from running or anything high-impact really. Stupid me, I decided to train too hard last week for my half-marathon. I started speed work last week, and I pretty much overexerted my feet. After a couple of days of pain in my left foot when I walked, I decided to go to my foot doctor. He told me it wasn’t the fact that I was unfit or incapable of running longer distances, I just put too much pressure on my feet too quickly when I tried to do speed work. I don’t have any symptoms of a stress fracture (thank goodness), but I’m being prescribed an anti-inflammatory medicine, need to take rest the foot, ice it twice-daily, and NOT DO ANY HIGH-IMPACT WORK OUTS. WHOMP WHOMP.

I only do high-impact work outs (running, Insanity, etc.), so this poses a dilemma for me. I guess after resting for a week I’ll get back to PiYo (a more low-impact workout that blends pilates and yoga) to lean out and tone out my muscles.

This is such an unideal time for me to be out of commission! 1) I have a 5K this weekend that I was planning on running with Joseph and my StuCo kids, so now that’s a bust; 2) I NEED to train for my half-marathon coming up in January (Aramco Half anyone? Anyone?); and 3) Joseph is being featured in an P90X Live video on Beachbody on Demand TOMORROW, and I wanted to check out the video and work out with him! #supportivefeyonce (Shameless plug – sign-up for Beachbody on Demand for FREE for 30-days and check him out! Seriously. Go. goo.gl/AbWFOT)

Okay, back to the purpose of this post. Recipe. Summer is usually the time when I cook the most, and this summer was no different. I’ve learned the art of meal-prepping for not just one, but TWO! Joseph eats like a monster, and I’ve been trying to find a variety of ways to not only whip up something that’s somewhat palatable but also something that be made in bulk. This is where ground meat comes in. I like this recipe because it’s so versatile. Honestly, me posting this isn’t really useful because I’m sure anyone could come up with this on their own and/or it’s already something you make. Maybe I’m just late to the game.

Let’s begin! Gather the ingredients!

FOUR (or five) INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR THIS ONLY! EASY PEASY! Love it!
FOUR (or five) INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR THIS ONLY! EASY PEASY! Love it!
  • 1-2lbs ground meat (can be ground chicken, beef, turkey, etc., and the amount depends on how much you want to cook)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 diced onion
  • 1-2 minced cloves of garlic (optional, sometimes I’m lazy and give up on the mincing)
  • 1-2TBSP fat of choice (I tend to use extra virgin olive oil over ghee, I’ve found that when you refrigerate ground meat cooked with ghee, it hardens and looks nasty. But if you’re eating it immediately after, ghee gives the meat a better flavoring)
  • Flavorgod Seasoning of choice (if you don’t have this yet… GET IT. I use it for everything!)
  1. Turn stove on to medium heat and place a large pan on top of the stove. When the pan is sufficiently heated, add your fat of choice.
  2. Add your diced onions and garlic. Cook onions a few minutes until it’s slightly translucent.
  3. Add your ground meat to the pan and begin cooking until meat is half-way cooked. Season meat according to your taste
    Season accordingly. This is the CAJUN seasoning of Flavorgod. It looks like I may have over seasoned, but you can honestly barely taste it!
    Season accordingly. This is the CAJUN seasoning of Flavorgod. It looks like I may have over seasoned, but you can honestly barely taste it!

    buds, but don’t be afraid to add a good amount of seasoning! I tend to season things with a lighter hand, but ground meat actually needs a good amount of seasoning before you can begin to taste the seasoning. I wish I could tell you exactly how much to put in… but I honestly eyeball it. Sorry, I’m useless.

  4. Continue cooking until meat is thoroughly done!

I honestly might be completely off in how to cook this. It is possible that I overcook the meat. But Joseph is such an easy eater that I wouldn’t know if I was doing something wrong. So please use your best judgment in cooking this, haha. 🙂

When you’ve cooked this enough, it can easily take under 15 minutes to prep AND cook it. I love to pair this with fresh cucumbers and if I’m feeling particularly naughty, eat it with BROWN RICE (dun dun dun!!!).

I just love this dish because it’s SO easy to make and you virtually only need to go out to the grocery store to buy two to three fresh ingredients if you don’t have it at home already (meat, onions, garlic). Two pounds of this is more than enough protein to meal prep lunches for almost an entire week for two people.

Almost cooked! You can see the light coloring from the cajun seasoning. :)
Almost cooked! You can see the light coloring from the cajun seasoning. 🙂

If you make something similar, what do you like to season your ground meat with? Any other tips and suggestions?

Until the next meal,

Joseph + Jennifer

Sautéed Butter Mushrooms – RECIPE

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Oftentimes, when I’m cooking for the both of us, I have an idea for the main dish of the entree, but I get stuck with what side dish to complement it. My go-to side dish always consist of MUSHROOMS! I love mushrooms because they are so versatile, and they pair well with almost virtually any main dish component (chicken, beef, fish, pork, etc.).

Gather the ingrdients!

  • 1-2 cups of mushrooms white OR brown (I typically buy pre-sliced mushrooms to make my life easier)
  • 1/2 a large white onion (or 1 small white onion)
  • 1TBSP of paleo butter, ghee, or fat of choice (I always go for paleo butter or ghee!)
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp thyme
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Other seasoning as needed (have fun with it! I play around with thyme, oregano, basil, asian 5 spice, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Slice onions (or don’t slice them if you were lazy and purchased them pre-sliced like I did)
  2. Set heat of stove to medium-high and place a large saucepan on the stove. Wait for the saucepan to heat up before doing anything. You want the saucepan to be proportionally hot all around to really get that saute going!
  3. Add your butter/lard to the pan
  4. After the butter has melted, add onions. I like to caramelize my onions and get them to brown a little. I’m not a huge onion fan, but man… the smell of caramelized onions… YUM.

    The smell of onions, ghee, and mushroom in the frying pan.... yummy!
    The smell of onions, ghee, and mushroom in the frying pan…. yummy!
  5. After onions are sufficiently browned and cooked through, add the mushrooms. After a few minutes add your seasoning. This is where you can play around with the seasoning. Most seasonings pair really well with mushrooms, but be sure to season your mushrooms with a light hand. Heat tends to intensify flavors, and you don’t want to overpower the taste of the mushroom itself.
  6. Saute for about 6-7 minutes until mushrooms are cooked through.
  7. Voila! Done!

Really simple and you can do so much with this! Hope you enjoy 🙂

Until the next meal,

Joseph & Jennifer

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts With Bacon – RECIPE

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Our engagement day! Blog post to come soon!
Our engagement day! Blog post to come soon!

I know, shame, shame, SHAME on us for the… oh, you know, 4 month delay in a new post. I attribute it to… life happenings, being busy, but also being lazy at the same time. A lot has occurred between February until now. I (Jennifer) wrapped up my second year teaching, Joseph has added multiple group fitness formats under his belt (P90X, PiYo, and TCX), I finally PR’d a 5K in March, we got engaged, I turned 26, oh wait… what? WHAT? WHAT?! Yes, we got engaged. Most of our readers are our friends, so it’s kind of old news to y’all whomp whomp, but I think we have a few readers who aren’t as familiar with our personal lives, so yes… WE GOT ENGAGED!!! I plan on posting a FULL BLOW-BY-BLOW POST of my emotions and what happened and all that wonderful jazz. Because everyone loves a good proposal. And boy… did Joseph do good. (Yes, I know. Incorrect use of good, but stylistically it works for the purpose of my sentence. GET OVER IT, MS. NGUYEN’S KIDS)

But we’ll save that for a later post. And we’ll save wedding planning woes for later posts as well. But let’s get back to the true purpose of this blog. Paleo-friendly recipes. But hey, I DID mention in our original post that this would include life tangent posts. And I think wedding stuff is a pretty big life tangent and will include those posts for other current and future brides that would like to know more about planning a wedding. Everyone loves a good (or bad) wedding planning story!

So, to be perfectly frank, we’ve been pretty bad at trying out new recipes. It’s been a whirlwind couple of months for us, so we’ve just been sticking to our usual tried-and-true recipes (i.e the recipes we’ve already posted). Sometimes I’ll throw a random mishmash of ingredients together, but I never find them worthy enough to post because I don’t think they taste that post-worthy. I’m also really bad at actually measuring out ingredients (insert Joseph sighing loudly because he’s all about measuring), so I don’t even know how much of everything I put in… Oops.

Farm fresh brussel sprouts from one of Joseph's fitness clients! UGHHH BRUSSEL SPROUTS.
Farm fresh brussels sprouts from one of Joseph’s fitness clients! UGHHH BRUSSEL SPROUTS.

This recipe is for brussel sprouts. Ugh. Brussels sprouts. I hate brussel sprouts. Even when I cook them, I hate them. I hate the way they look. I hate their texture. I hate THE NAME. Brussels sprouts. It even sounds disgusting. But Joseph gets batches of brussels sprouts from some of his fitness clients, and I have to do something with them to make them palatable. And I discovered the magical ingredient that transforms brussel sprouts into something I can handle. BACON. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about bacon that helps ease the pain of brussels sprouts. So here’s my recipe… ENJOY!

GATHER THE INGREDIENTS!

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Applegate Uncured Sunday Bacon – PALEO FRIENDLY BACON! THIS IS THE KIND YOU GET! APPLEGATE!
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • 1 tsp Ground pepper
  • 2 tsp Garlic powder**
  • 2 tsp Onion powder**

**To be honest, you can season as you’d like. I kept it simple. I also don’t know the measurements… I just eyeball it. You can leave out the garlic and onion powder if you’d like!

Brussel sprouts - de-
Brussels sprouts – de-“stemmed” and halved – removed a few outside leaves that still looked dirty as well.
  1. Wash brussels sprouts well and then cut the “stems” off. I like to pull off a layer or two of the brussels sprout for sanitary reasons. I am possibly wasting a lot of good brussels sprout leaves, but I like to be clean!
  2. Cut brussels sprouts in half and then set brussel sprouts to the side.
  3. Slice your bacon into small pieces or however big your bacon pieces you would like to be (the world is your oyster)
  4. Turn your stove to medium. Take a big skillet and throw in that bacon! No need to use any ghee/oil because that bacon will create its own fat.
  5. When bacon is sufficiently fried/browned, spoon out the bacon into a small bowl. LEAVE THE FAT IN THE SKILLET! Lower the stove heat to LOW or OFF.
  6. Add the brussels sprouts to the skillet. MAKE SURE YOUR BRUSSEL SPROUTS ARE DRY, or you will get some painful oil splash back (learned this the hard way). Once you’ve added all your brussel sprouts, turn the heat back up to medium.
  7. Season your brussel sprouts accordingly. Cook for about 7-10 minutes stirring occasionally. Some of your brussels sprouts will brown. That is good (in my opinion). I’ll add a cover on top sometimes to give the brussels sprouts some steaming action. Helps bake the brussels sprouts a little more tender.
  8. After 10 minutes, turn the stove to low and add the bacon bits and stir around until everything is fully integrated.
  9. VOILA! YOU ARE DONE! I hope it tastes good for you.

    Brussel sprouts with uncured bacon pieces - bacon flavor is nicely infused into the brussel sprouts especially when cooking with bacon fat!
    Brussels sprouts with uncured bacon pieces – bacon flavor is nicely infused into the brussel sprouts especially when cooking with bacon fat!

Hope you enjoyed the recipe! Again, you can ALWAYS play around with the seasonings! I still don’t like brussels sprouts in the least. But now I know what to do with them! I might try roasting them next time, but I’ve had roasted brussels sprouts before, and they are not my cup of tea. We promise to try and not laze about before posting another recipe/update!

Until the next meal,

Joseph & Jennifer

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2015 Weekend – Race Recap

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Yup, signed up for the Glass Slipper Challenge for that third medal. BLINGAGE.
Yup, signed up for the Glass Slipper Challenge for that third medal. BLINGAGE.

About eight months ago, I decided that I wanted to run a half marathon. And not just any half marathon. I wanted to run a half marathon the way I was meant to. LIKE A DANG PRINCESS. After an hour of screaming at the computer in frustration and cursing the networking gods, I finally got myself registered for the runDisney Princess Half Marathon. Wait, strike that. I ended up registering for the Glass Slipper Challenge… What is that, you ask? The runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge consists of a two-day challenge were participates run  the Enchanted 10K on Saturday and then the Princess Half Marathon on Sunday. And whhhhyyyyy would I willingly sign up for 19.3 miles you may ask? Joseph. Ugh, Joseph, Joseph, Joseph. He has this thing about medals. “Oh, you can get an extra medal for completing two races? Okay, I’m in!” …. -______- okay, Joseph, fine, I’ll get that extra medal with you.

Costumes

Okay, so costumes were a top priority when preparing for our races. YOU CAN’T RUN A DISNEY RACE IF YOU AREN’T GOING TO LOOK THE PART. I not only wanted Joseph and I to have incredibly cute costumes, but I also wanted us to wear items that we could run in (i.e athletic). I think this was a smart move on our end because watching hundreds of people around us running/sweating in wigs and REAL costumes… wow, looked tortuous to run in. I also wanted to try and MAKE our costumes for the most part because I did some quick Google searches and while there were TONS of Disney race costumes… they were fantastically expensive. $165 for a Jasmine running costume??? No way, jose.

Ideally, I really wanted to run the Princess Half as my ultimate princess, Belle. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really find a good way of putting together a decent Beast costume for Joseph that was still appropriate for running. I was about to give up on a Beauty and the Beast themed running costume when LO AND BEHOLD one of my very dear friends linked me to these adorable tanks/shirts from Simply Human that featured Belle and Beast. I thought to myself, “Okay, I can’t do a full-out costume, but… we can wear the tops, and I’ll put together a yellow tutu! BAM! Simple race outfit for the Enchanted 10K!” I didn’t get to truly emulate my soulmate-princess, but it was close enough.

Naturally, for the Princess Half Marathon costumes we went for the costumes that would easily work as running costumes but also were very cute. JASMINE AND ALADDIN. I was fortunate because I had amazing help with the costumes. My dad’s friend owns an athletic-wear company, so he was able to make me the base of my running costume (the sports bra and running skort). My mom is a fantastic seamstress, so I asked for her help with embellishing the costume with the shoulders and gold trim. For Joseph, I made the fez hat with red felt, and he purchased a purple dri-fit tank that we cut into a vest. He purchased white running shorts and Abu for the finishing touches.

Modern athletic-esque twist of Beauty and the Beast for the Enchanted 10K and Jasmine and Aladdin for the Princess Half.
Modern twist of Beauty and the Beast for the Enchanted 10K and Jasmine and Aladdin for the Princess Half.

Enchanted 10K

3AM. BUS SHUTTLE. SO EARLY. OHMYGOODNESS.
3AM. BUS SHUTTLE. SO EARLY. OHMYGOODNESS.

Woke up at 2AM. Asked myself, “WHYYYYYY WAHHH SO EARLY.” Groggily changed and got ready for the race. Scooted our behinds onto the shuttles at 3AM. Arrived outside of Epcot at around 3:30AM. As we were walking through the event site, we realized that it was VERY VERY VERY WOW WOW WOWWW OBSCENELY COLD. INSANELY COLD. I was wearing a throwaway jacket at least, but Joseph only had his tank on. Note to selves: get the mylar running throwaway blankets.

Lined-up at the corrals at 5AM because the race starts at 5:30AM. Except we realize that we are in the LAST corral. MISTAKE. MISTAKE. MISTAKE FOR ENTERING IN A SLOW TIME WHEN REGISTERING. Each corral legitimately takes 15-20 minutes to clear out. While we are waiting for our corral to be released, we were seriously holding each other for our dear lives. Not because we love each other mind you (I mean, which we obviously do), but because we had to retain as much body heat as possible! It was an incredibly unhappy time for us. Incredibly. I think I was wondering, “What did I just sign up for, THIS SUCKS.” I also felt Joseph shivering, SHIVERING, and not of his own accord. And he’s a man. So yes, it was THAT cold. Finally around 6:30AM our corral is up, and we can finally start moving. Or so I thought. The later corrals consist of race participants who are running their first half marathon and/or do not run faster times. So it was a slower start since most of the participants in my corral started off walking. And apparently Disney does not encourage the “faster people on the left, slower people on the right” policy during their races. So the beginning of the race (and honestly, mostly the entire race) was spent me weaving in and out of walkers/slower runners! I have nothing against people who want to walk the races, but please have the courtesy to walk on the right side, so that I can run past you a little more easily! It was still so cold that I had to keep my throwaway jacket on for the first two miles while my body warmed up.

This is me. VERY HAPPILY RUNNING THROUGH EPCOT. Runner and Disney high at this point for sure.
This is me. VERY HAPPILY RUNNING THROUGH EPCOT. Runner and Disney high at this point for sure.

First few miles were pretty empty because we were running between the Disney parks. But it wasn’t bad because there were random character stops/entertainment stops along the way. We didn’t stop at any of the character stops for pictures because I felt like I could just get them at the half marathon if I wanted to. It was also cool to run by everyone and check out their race outfits. Enchanted 10K wasn’t AS big a deal as the Princess Half, but there were still a good amount of people dressed up!

Around mile four was when we entered Epcot. That was the BEST part of this race by far. It was such a thrilling experience to run through the world showcase! At that time the sun was in the process of rising so the views of the lake and the Epcot ball-thingy were spectacular. Joseph and I stopped for a quick photo-op during that time. Truly, this was the peak of the 10K race for me. My body was finally fully warm, and I was honestly just cruising along. I didn’t feel tired, my legs weren’t sore, and I was just… happy.

Finished the 10K at a solid pace considering I had to weave in and out of the walkers the entire time as well as the quick stops for photo opportunities. Also, Joseph and I tried to slow down and take cool pictures as we ran by the Marathon Foto photographers, lol. I know, we’re embarrassing. But hey, we got some good pictures out of it!

WOOHOO! Photo opportunity while running through Epcot!
WOOHOO! Photo opportunity while running through Epcot!

After the race we received our 10K medals, took more pictures, grabbed our free food boxes, and went straight to our hotel to shower and go to the Disney parks. NO RESTING FOR US. I really wanted to get EVERY second possible efficiently utilized during my Disney weekend. When do I ever get to go to Disney? Oh, right, never. I will soon regret pushing myself to parade around through Magic Kingdom after completing a 10K though. I will regret this very, very soon.

Princess Half Marathon

Before the race! Wrapped up in my throwaway jacket and a runDisney mylar blanket. Joseph is just chillin'.
Wrapped up in a runDisney mylar blanket. Joseph is just chillin’.

The previous day of racing and park-gallivanting? REGRETS. WOW REGRETS. We got back to our hotel and crawled into bed around… 11PM? Which honestly isn’t too bad as a “bedtime,” but if you take into consideration that we needed to wake-up at 2AM again AND run a half-marathon? OH GEEBUS.

Woke up at 2AM grumpy, groggy, and mildly angry at Joseph for convincing me to sign up for this dang Glass Slipper Challenge. WHY WHY WHYYYYYY. But I got my behind up, and I changed for the Princess Half. To be honest, it took us a little longer to actually wake up and get ready, so we weren’t fully out and about on the shuttle buses until 4AM.

Fortunately, it was not AS cold as the day before. It was still pretty chilly for me personally, but I had another throwaway jacket as well as a mylar blanket this time. WINNING. Because this is the main race, there are thousands of more people at this race. Like you know… 20,000 people. So there were about 20+ corrals. Of course, Joseph and I are STILL stuck in one of the later corrals. UGH, SO MANY MISTAKES WHEN WE REGISTERED EIGHT MONTHS AGO. The race started at 5:30AM, but it still took us about an hour before we were finally let out to go run.

Heh. I know. We're barftastic.
Heh. I know. We’re barftastic.

There were a LOT more character stops during the half marathon. Joseph and I didn’t stop at most of them because 1) the lines looked way too long and 2) the characters didn’t appeal to us, but we did stop at a few. There were a lot of “AWWWS” as we were running because not only were we dressed quite fantastically as Jasmine and Aladdin, Joseph was wearing our team bib on the back of his vest. I aptly named us, “Chasing My Princess.” Yea, I know, we’re ridiculously cute sometimes. And Joseph really was chasing me… I was weaving in out and of walkers/slower runners during the half like there was no tomorrow.

We ran through two parks – Magic Kingdom around mile five-seven and ending up in Epcot during mile eleven-thirteen point one. Magic Kingdom was really cool to run through! When we first got to Magic Kingdom we ran by a band/drum team. Definitely helped pump me up during the run.

However, because we were in a later corral, by the time we got to Cinderella’s castle there was a STRAIGHT UP TRAFFIC JAM. Hordes of people crowding shoulder-to-shoulder taking pictures/selfies with the Castle. It didn’t help that freaking Elsa, Anna, and Cristoff were up on the balcony smiling and talking away. I love them and all, but WOW WAY TO HOLD UP THE TRAFFIC, GUYS. Had Joseph and I been in an earlier corral we probably would have been able to run through the castle… but our mistake with the registration (sigh, okay I’ll stop complaining about that). There were TONS of great photo opportunities in Magic Kingdom though!

Of course we had to get a picture with GENIE! TRIFECTA COMPLETED!
Of course we had to get a picture with GENIE! TRIFECTA COMPLETED!

Mile 8-10 was ROUGH. My legs were slowly starting to feel the pain settling in. And also by then the sun was out in full force, and during that time we were on a LONG stretch of highway… so there was nothing to protect us. Nothing but the sun beating down on our poor selves. Nothing to look at besides the other runners suffering alongside us. Joseph and I were more fortunate in our selection of running costumes though. I saw some people in full out costumes, wigs, long-sleeve/long-pant contraptions, long dresses… so I was quite thankful for my (lack-of) costume.

Epcot photo opportunities!
Epcot photo opportunities!

Mile 11-13.1 ended at Epcot. I was pumped! Or, I thought I was pumped. For some reason, when I get to mile 11, I always assume, “YES I AM ALMOST THERE JUST AROUND THE CORNER!” Then I realize… no… it’s a lot farther away then I realized. And then I want to seriously harm myself because I realize there’s so much more distance left to run. That’s what happened. SIGH MY LIFE. At every bend in the park, I would think, “Yes! Yes! Look at that character stop! That means 13.1 is almost here!” And then I realize I only ran a quarter of a mile. However, there was an awesome photo opportunity by the Epcot ball-thingy. So we stopped there for a bit then continued along. My legs were feeling a littttleeee bit more pain at this point. The pain was nothing like my first half-marathon mind you, but I was still ready to throw the towel in.The mile 12 stop was a nice pick-me-up with a gospel choir singing their hearts out.

And finally… finally… 13.1 mile finish line is in sight. Me screaming frantically, “JOSEPH, IT’S HERE!!! HOLD MY HAND!” (I know, feel free to roll your eyes). We’re running, and we’re running, and there’s Mickey and Minnie and Goofy RIGHT before the finish line for a picture opportunity. Joseph asks if I want a picture, but I’m like, “NO! GOSHDANGIT, I JUST WANT TO FINISH THIS RACE.” And so we finished the Glass Slipper Challenge. Hand in hand. My second half marathon under my belt.

Finishing the Princess Half hand-in-hand with my prince!
Finishing the Princess Half hand-in-hand with my prince!

Although I griped and complained about running two races in two days, ultimately, I’m really glad Joseph pushed me to sign up for the Glass Slipper Challenge. Because I DID IT. I completed 19.3 miles alongside exhausting myself at three Disney parks in ONE WEEKEND. It’s quite an empowering feeling. And it was such a fun race with costumes and character stops and running through Disney… do I recommend it for others? Wholeheartedly. Would I do it again? Yes. Yes. Most definitely. Oh, and all princesses get “pixie-dusted” at the end. An extra huzzah for finishing the race.

We actually GoPro’d our time at the Disney Parks as well as the races we ran!  I put together a quick video for those interested in watching it. Don’t worry, it isn’t five hours of footage. Just snippets of Joseph’s filming (there’s no way I could hold a mini-camera for 2039482 hours while running). It’s about 2-minutes long. Please enjoy!

And for those interested in just watching our Disney derpiness at the parks – here’s a quick video of our weekend footage.

Alright, next post will be either a recipe or a race recap post from Joseph’s point of view… as one of the 1,000 males running in a race with about 17,000 females… I do also want to post a “tips/suggestions” post for those interested in running this race. Although this was our first runDisney race, I think Joseph and I picked up a lot of things that we would do differently the next time around. I would have covered it in this post, but it already turned into a mini-novella, so I wanted to spare you the extra word count.

Until the next run,

Jennifer

Enchanted 10K Finishers Princess Half FinishersGlass Slipper Challenge Finishers

Valentine’s Day Traditions… Paleo Hawaiian Pizza Recipe

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If there’s one thing that you may need to know about my relationship with Joseph, it’s the fact that we really enjoy creating and maintaining traditions. His annual anniversary cake/dessert that he makes for me is one thing. Our annual holiday schedule (Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas day with his family) is another thing. Our annual puppy-themed greeting cards for every occasion that requires a greeting card. Our weekly Sunday schedule: church, lunch, nap, meal prep for the week. You get the gist. Another such tradition is my annual Valentine’s Day pizza making extravaganza for our Valentine’s Day date shenanigans.

TADA!!! Paleo-friendly Hawaiian Pizza - 6th time is the charm.
TADA!!! Paleo-friendly Hawaiian Pizza – 6th time is the charm.

Joseph loves pizza. That is his food kryptonite/achilles heel/weakness, and I really think that if he could, he would eat pizza every day for the rest of his life. True story. That is why for our first (or second?) Valentine’s Day when our relationship was just blossoming, I baked my first ever pizza for Joseph. I baked a Hawaiian pizza because I assumed that as a Filipino, he loved pineapples so his favorite pizza must have been Hawaiian pizza. Now, I don’t really know if that’s the case, and Joseph has never really clarified this because I think he loves me and doesn’t want to burst my bubble, so the tradition stuck.

As the years have gone by, my pizza-making skills have morphed and improved. The first few years I bought canned pizza dough, canned pineapples, and everything was just clearly pre-made/processed. I think around the third year is when I decided to make it somewhat healthier by purchasing canned WHEAT pizza dough and using fresh pineapples instead. Last year is when I attempted my first paleo pizza. It was… okay. And this year I have continued the tradition with another Hawaiian pizza, and yes, I made it paleo once again. And wow. I’m not going to lie, but it was absolutely fantastic. Delicious. I am quite proud of myself.

A BIG THANK YOU TO Paleo Spirit for the paleo pizza dough recipe. It really brought my pizza together. People might assume that making dough from scratch is difficult and time-consuming, and time-consuming it may be; however, it’s definitely NOT difficult, and it’s definitely worth it. So let’s begin, shall we?

Adding the warm water and oil and mixing with the dry ingredients. This consistency is good! Don't worry because it WILL become dough-y soon!
Adding the warm water and oil and mixing with the dry ingredients. This consistency is good! Don’t worry because it WILL become dough-y soon!

Paleo Pizza Dough:

  • 1 cup tapioca flour (starch) (plus more for rolling out dough)
  • 1/3 cup + 2-3 tablespoons coconut flour, separated
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 large egg, whisked

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Combine the tapioca flour, coconut flour (minus the 2-3 tablespoons), and sea salt in a large bowl.

Add the oil and warm water and mix with the dry ingredients. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look dough-y yet. This will happen soon! Add the whisked egg and mix.

Finally, take your 2-3 tablespoons of coconut flour and add to the mixture until it begins to form into a soft but sticky dough.

Before the pizza dough is baked! I made mine into a heart and had a little extra for a small pancake pizza.
Before the pizza dough is baked! I made mine into a heart and had a little extra for a small pancake pizza.

On PARCHMENT paper (not wax paper – I made that mistake last year. And the parchment paper really changed things), add a bit of tapioca flour to your roller pin and the parchment and roll out your dough. Be carefully of adding TOO much tapioca flour or else your dough will be too dense. I think I made that mistake last year as well. I always make my pizza dough into a heart shape, but you can roll it out into a regular pizza shape.

The dough is really break-able at this point, so be careful! Transfer the parchment paper onto a baking sheet/pizza baking sheet/etc. Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on how “done” you would like your pizza to be. I baked mine for 12 minutes!

Hawaiian Pizza:

  • Paleo Pizza Dough slightly pre-cooked
  • Organic Pizza Sauce with NO SUGAR ADDED (purchased at Whole Foods – checked the ingredients to ensure everything was paleo-friendly)
  • Almond “mozzarella” cheese substitute
  • Pre-cut pineapple chunks
  • Applegate Uncured Black Forest Ham diced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

This is the brand of almond cheese I use!
This is the brand of almond cheese I use!

Cut your toppings (pineapple and ham) to the desired pizza-topping size. I purchase pre-cut pineapple chunks and cut them into even smaller pieces. I once tried to cut an entire pineapple… that didn’t work out so well. Pineapple cutting is not my thing. Place toppings to the side.

After letting the pizza crust cool for a bit, I took a spoon and carefully ladled the pizza sauce over my pizza. Add as much or as little sauce as you would like. It is YOUR pizza!

You can layer the cheese and toppings however you would like (cheese first, toppings first, what have you), but after 5+ years of this, I think I figured out a way that really makes the pizza delectable. I lightly sprinkled the almond cheese over the pizza to where there was still a lot of sauce showing through the cheese. I added half the pineapples and ham to the pizza. The pizza should still look SPARSE. I then added the full amount of cheese to the pizza, and I topped it off with the rest of my pineapple chunks and ham pieces. It’s almost like a double layer of cheese and toppings. Yums.

Seriously, SO GOOD.
Seriously, SO GOOD.

Place the pizza in the oven. Cook until toppings are thoroughly heated. I put my timer for 5 minutes at a time, and I simply checked my pizza after each time was up to ensure the crust was not burning. It took about 10-15 minutes. I do want to mention that the almond cheese substitute does not melt as well as regular cheese. I assume because it is a substitute. However, it tastes fine! And voila! You have yourself a paleo-friendly pizza! You can switch out whatever toppings you would like to meet your taste buds.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day weekend! Joseph and I enjoyed a casual weekend together. Honestly, it was just like any other Saturday we had… running in the morning, me making brunch for lunch, running errands, and then dinner. The only thing different was that he surprised me with flowers in the morning before the run (d’awww <3).

Joseph's gifts to me. Perfect. I love him!
Joseph’s gifts to me. Puppy V-Day card, ZBB CD and tickets, paleo double chocolate chewy cookies baked by him, and surprise morning roses. I’m a lucky duck, I know.

Then we had a small gift exchange after lunch – I gave him The Paleo Performance cookbook and a 26.2 mile car decal, and he surprised me with tickets to the Zac Brown Band concert! And finally after dinner, we went to go watch Kingsman (good movie, I recommend. But a little on the gory side, wow).

I also tried to be cutesy and romantic by using an idea I found off of Pinterest (wow, have I ever mentioned how much I love Pinterest?). While making Joseph do the dishes after lunch (hehehe *evil laugh*), I went into his bathroom and decorated his mirror with sticky notes I had written on previously. I think the original Pinterest idea had you write down things you loved about your significant other, but I just wrote down everything possible. Memories, things I love about him, inside jokes, positive comments, etc. I made them into a heart. I was feeling quite sneaky and proud of myself when I walked out of his bathroom. And then…

  • Joseph: Were you doing something shady in there?
  • Me: What?
  • Joseph: You were in the restroom for a long time. And I know you didn’t poop. Or did you? You don’t poop that long.
  • Me: ….I wasn’t doing anything shady! I was pooping!
  • Joseph: … you look shady. I need to go to the restroom now anyways.
  • Me: WAIT NO! WHY! ….I JUST POOPED. IT SMELLS!
  • Joseph: …Why are you on the floor?
  • Me: *crying/laughing* I don’t know! GO TO THE BATHROOM LATER, IT’S TOO SOON!

    Pinterest-inspired love notes on his mirror.
    Pinterest-inspired love notes on his mirror.

I honestly don’t know why I was on the floor. Sometimes, I get so embarrassed when I’m caught trying to be sneaky that I cry. Or I laugh so hard that I cry. Either way, I end up crying and on the floor. Don’t worry, Joseph accepts this. He eventually goes into the restroom, and he has that “I knew it, I know you” face, but he still appreciates the romantic gesture. Except for the fact that it’s covering his mirror and now he can’t see himself lol. Oops.

All in all, it was a perfect day with my Valentine, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Until the next meal,

Jennifer

I leave you with this
I leave you with this random picture.