lifestyle

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.

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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

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

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.

My First Marathon! (Joseph’s Story)

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To quote the great Barney Stinson,

“Here’s how you run a marathon: Step 1: You start running. There is no step 2.”

If you have no idea what I’m referring to, watch the video above. All jokes aside, I completed my first full marathon yesterday. 26.2 miles. Yes, that 0.2 miles is important. If you’ve run 26 miles, you didn’t run a marathon.

I finished the Houston marathon warm-up series a few months ago and figured, “I might as well run a marathon.” I had already trained and ran up to 18.6 miles so the full marathon was my next step. I decided to sign up for the USA Fit marathon in Sugar Land. The race seemed to offer quite a bit when I had signed up. A finisher’s shirt, jacket, and medal would all be provided, as well as access to all the race photos for free.

Crossing the finish line, finally. 26.2 miles later.
Crossing the finish line, finally. 26.2 miles later.

Before the race even began, the weather prediction for the entire weekend was rain and cold weather. Now I’ve run in the rain, and I’ve run in the cold, but put those two together for 4 hours… my nerves were going crazy all of last week. A few days before the marathon, I received an email saying that the medals would not be there in time. Although I realize a marathon is about your journey and not some medal, I was pretty bummed.

At last, race day was here and I checked my phone. The odds were ever in my favor for the weather. The weather was in the 60s and no rain! As soon as I got to the race, Jennifer hears the sound of medals clanging. She says, “Maybe those are the medals!” Of course I didn’t believe her because of the email, but I later hear a volunteer say “WE GOT THEM!” Happy me.

For my first marathon, I had pretty high expectations. I wanted to finish sub 4. I decided long before race day that I would follow a 4 hour pacer and speed up at the end to get my sub 4. This wasn’t a bad idea. I kept up with the pacer, who was very nice, for about 19 miles and then the clear skies got to me. Now if you’ve ever ran down University Boulevard in Sugar Land, you should know that there is NOTHING to shade you from the heat. By the time mile 19 got around, it was hot. There was a lack of water stations, and I had completely exhausted not only my own water supply but my Honeystinger waffles as well.

Completed my first full marathon #slay
Completed my first full marathon #slay

My IT band started to flare up and so I started to walk thinking, “I have 7.2 more miles…” If you’ve raced long distances before, you know that it sucks to run by yourself, so I befriend a female runner who was pacing with the 4 hour group and was also struck by the “wall.” We start running again and have a friendly chat. Her shirt says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and I use that as my mantra to push me. All is Gucci until she has to use the restroom. I lose my buddy and trot along, a loner once more. I’ve slowed down so much that the 4:15 pace group is on my heels. Eventually I tag along with them. I get to mile 22 before the pacer has to use the restroom and all hell breaks loose on earth. I am alone once more. The 4:15 pacer was a crazy inspiration. He’d run a marathon in every state. Talk about dedication and a slight case of OCD. I will never be that crazy. Insane maybe, but not crazy.

It’s mile 23 and I start to walk again. Another guy passes by me and starts to walk asking, “How many miles do we have left?” I tell him after looking at my GPS watch and my new friend and I decide to start running again. This guy tells me he’s about to turn 39 and wants to complete a marathon before 40. I say, “Let’s do it. Let’s get you there.” We chat it up as we’re running and we get to a point where I just start speeding up. I’ve found my second wind and runner’s high once again. My new-found friend quickly realizes and by about mile 24.5 he tells me “go for it.” After hearing that, I decide to just do it.

I’m running a bit under a 9-minute mile the rest of the way (gotta make up for that walking). I’ve run down this path plenty of times and know what to expect. I see mile 25 and I’m all smiles. The marathoners and half-marathoners walking see me and start to cheer me on. I honestly start to tear up a bit behind my sunglasses. Maybe something caught my eye in the wind.

The finish line is in sight and I see my beautiful girlfriend waiting and cheering for me. I see the gun time at 4:24: and climbing. I speed up and finish in 4:24:26. I received my glorious medal and all is right in the world. I take some pics with bae and wait to see all my new friends finish shortly behind me. The 4:00 pacer had waited for everyone that initially was with her to finish and congratulate them. My pace ends up being 10:06 min/mile. I can live with that and will use it as a stepping stone for next year’s Houston marathon. I get my finisher shirt and all the food I can get.

My bae always waiting for me at the end of every race. Or running in front of me.
My bae always waiting for me at the end of every race. Or running in front of me.

And so began the road to recovery… just kidding. I taught Insanity yesterday, teaching twice today, and one more time tomorrow LOL. This is why I said I was insane earlier. The motivation to push people past their limits and all that adrenaline really pushes me… even through some soreness. Some tips:

  • Guise, this is all you need: http://www.amazon.com/Rubys-Lube-Natural-Anti-Chafe-Balm/dp/B00MH7G8GO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422926390&sr=8-1&keywords=ruby%27s+lube. I will leave it at that because you know why.
  • Prepare and follow a program. It will help you no doubt. Stick to it. I would say to maybe even over train and go past the usual 19-22 miles suggested in training programs. A marathon is no joke and you need to have adequate training.
  • Hydrate early. Even though I drank a ton of water before and during, you really need to hydrate earlier than you think.
  • Have fun while you’re training. Preparing for a marathon is a learning experience. You will have ups and downs. Roll with the punches and don’t stay down.

I’ll end this post with another funny marathon video:

Some of these stages are on fleek. Yeah, I said fleek.

#slay

-Joseph

ABB 5K and Aramco Half Marathon – “His Story”

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My pre-race meal. Basically what I ate all week: almond-crusted chicken breast seasoned with FlavorGod and baked sweet potato.
My pre-race meal. Basically what I ate all week: almond-crusted chicken breast seasoned with FlavorGod and baked sweet potato.

Friday – Packet Pick-up Day: I get off work and head downtown to pick up me and Jennifer’s race packets. My first thought before I’m even there is, “How will I find parking?” Luckily I find a metered spot opening as I inch closer to George R. Brown (GRB) Convention Center. There is construction everywhere because of the race set-up. I enter GRB, and I’m in awe. I didn’t realize there would be so many people and vendors! I pick up our race packets and t-shirts for the ABB 5K and Aramco Half-Marathon and decide to walk around for a few minutes just to see what is happening. There are vendors and run shops posted up selling everything. Shoes, clothing, belts, KT tape, foam rollers, you name it. I was tempted to buy a little bit of everything, but I knew that I should just walk out. I leave and my day is pretty much over. I finish drinking my full gallon of water and loaded up on my usual pre-race meal (chicken and sweet potato). My alarm is set for 5:30AM.

Saturday – ABB 5K Race: The ABB 5K is set for an 8AM race time with roads closing at 7AM, so I planned to get there at 6:30AM. I’m up and out of the door. I am layered the eff up because it is freezing. I think my usual thought on race days, “Why the $*@& did I sign up for this again?” I text this to Jennifer, and she laughs because she had originally told me I was going to regret it signing up for this extra race. Indeed, I did. The real reason I signed up for this race was because I would get not two, but three medals for completing the “Houston Double.” I am such a sucker for those extra medals.

I'm a sucker for extra medals. ABB 5K, Aramco Half, and the double medal. Boom.
I’m a sucker for extra medals. ABB 5K, Aramco Half, and the double medal. Boom.

I am super early and arrive to a parking lot by the Toyota Center. Parking is $10. I shake my head at the price hike from the usual $5 a day. I drink about a fourth of my gallon of water already, and I’m ready to go. As I start walking to GRB, I see the Hilton hotel. I think to myself, “I bet they won’t let me in because I’m not staying there.” I enter anyways knowing that they have clean restrooms and not port-a-potties. Smart move. I start heading towards the starting line. I see the 13-minute mile time pace group and I keep walking. I am at the 9-minute mile pace and I stop. The crowd starts moving and all of a sudden I’m up at the 7-minute pace LOL. The 5K starts and I’m off. I ran at an 8:04 pace and completed the race with 25:03. I know I could have run faster, but I didn’t want to completely exhaust my legs before the next day. I can live with that time. After I grab my medal, I cross more streets than I need to to get back to my car.

I spend the rest of the day running a few errands with Jennifer. Lunch and dinner are the same meal and I am asleep by 7PM. Yes, you read that right. 7PM. I know that I’m about to wake up at 3AM to pick up Jennifer and leave by 4:15AM. I love my sleep.

Sunday – Aramco Half Marathon Race Day: 3AM. I highly suggest planning what you’re going to wear for a run. I didn’t know what to expect, so I didn’t do this. I turn over to my phone and see 50 degrees. I think to myself, “Hallelujah.” 50 degrees is perfect cruising weather. Don’t need a jacket or tights. I am completely wrong (for the time being). I eat two Honeystinger Organic Waffles because one just isn’t enough, and I start drinking my gallon of water. I pick up Jennifer who has barely woken up and I do my best to calm her already nervous nerves. I ran my first half marathon back in October so that I would know how to help guide Jennifer through her first half marathon. I try to just let her know that I will be there no matter what and we will cross the finish line. If she had to use the restroom I would wait. If she had to walk, I would walk. If she just couldn’t go on, I would carry her.

We’re driving, and we get to the same parking lot as yesterday. I see signs that say: “Event Parking: $30.” I say out loud, “WHAT THE !@#$!?” and Jennifer scolds me as if I’m a student lol. I am so salty at the fact that this $5 daily parking lot has its price hiked up. I knew that it would probably be $20, but $30. Runners and spectators are getting scammed. On the way back from the race, the price dropped to $20. SMH.

We are inside GRB. We decide to use the restroom early because we are well-hydrated runners, ha. We then went to a Catholic mass held in GRB. This was perfect. The homily was exactly what we needed to hear before the big race. The priest who seemed to be an ex-athlete reminded us to think “mind over miles” and “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” The latter was definitely a joke. I leave the mass feeling at peace spiritually and mentally. I decide to eat two more waffles because I’m hungry and for that extra energy. We go to the restroom again and the lines are ridiculous. I tell Jennifer, “Let’s keep walking closer to the port-a-potties.” Good choice. The lines are much shorter closer to the entrance but still a pain. There’s no real structure to it.

  • Side Note: During my time waiting for Jennifer to use the port-a-potties, I discovered an easy chick magnet. Hand sanitizer. Yes, I’m serious. Fellas, just wait outside the port-a-potties and display that you have hand sanitizer in your hands. Don’t be a creep about it doe. Ladies will flock to you asking for some of this magical soap, which is limited inside the port-a-potties. Strike up a conversation maybe and bam. You have just gotten yourself in the door. “Can I have some hand sanitizer?” “Sure, so uh listen, can I have yo numba?” I am half kidding, but half serious. I have something going on. Try it out.

JENNIFER’S EDIT: NOT THAT JOSEPH WOULD EVER TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS BECAUSE YOU KNOW… HE’S DATING ME. AHEM.

Last leg of the race. Jenifer is next to me... just completely covered by the guy in front us.
Last leg of the race. Jenifer is next to me… just completely covered by the guy in front us.

We go to the bag check-in and I turn in my one piece of warm clothing. Mistake. The weather has dropped to 40 degrees outside. Anytime the weather is in the 40’s I pretty much always wear tights. I’m in shorts and a tank. We start heading out to where the corrals are lining up and I feel naked. I am so cold and can’t feel a thing. I feel stupid. We walk, and we feel wind chill. I feel even more stupid. The corral feels like a mile away. We hear the race announcements starting at 7AM. Everyone is eggcited. We don’t cross the starting line until 30 minutes later. Are you serious?

During the race, I am chilling. I am right there with Jennifer racing along. Everything is feeling good. My IT band is not flaring up like usual. We get to about the 3 kilometer marker and I see one of the gym members from my workplace cheering me on. I feel really appreciative because I am always cheering on the gym members who take my INSANITY class (or yelling at them).

Proud of this girl!
Proud of this girl!

We get past mile 5 and see Jennifer’s co-worker and her husband. Jennifer gets an instant boost and her pace increases a bit. The crowd of the race is amazing. I am in such high spirits as I hear music and banter going on. I want to yell and jump and dance. I decide not to. I am just talking bit by bit trying to make sure Jennifer is okay. Her face tells me to shut up. I do. Her students know this face well. We get to mile 12 and I see signs for free beer. I didn’t get a cup, thinking to myself, “I’m going to keep this paleo thing going on.” I regret it. Never pass up free beer. During training, Jennifer only got to 11 miles so I knew this was an accomplishment for her already. I ask if she’s hit the wall and she nods. I tell her how great she’s doing and to keep pushing past the wall and break through it. We are about 13 miles in and I know she is tired. She sees her supportive friends near the finish line and pushes that last leg. We both finish at 2:31:32. Her goal was sub 2:40. At this point I have to help her walk because she is a bit lightheaded. Words can’t express how proud I am of her. To think that this girl has just had foot surgery in the summer, recovered, and trained until this point. To think that a few years ago, we were barely doing 5K’s. This girl accomplished something that she had talked about. She was walking the walk.

The race is over and I realize I haven’t sweat at all. WHAT A GREAT RACE. We grab our finisher shirts and there is an abundance of non-paleo foods being passed out. I check my Polar M400 and it says that I’ve burnt 2114 calories. I say screw it and eat till my heart’s content. Ice cream!!! I grab one for me and one for Jennifer, which ended up being mine hehe. I am in the fat burning zone after a long workout so I felt like it was a well-deserved meal.

Some random thoughts while running:

  1. There are way too many people running in Nike Roshe Runs. I know it’s called a Roshe Run, but they are not meant for running. They are cheaper than real running shoes for a reason. I love Roshes myself and it feels like you’re walking on marshmallows when you wear them. Don’t run in them. Please.
  2. In two weeks, I will be doing double this at the USA Fit Marathon in Sugar Land. EFF MY LIFE.

It was such a great race weekend that I decided to sign up for the 2016 Chevron Marathon. I thought I was done with racing, but this was an awesome race. The support from the crowds was perfect. The signs were hilarious, although some repetitive. “I just pooped my pants too!” “Need more Vaseline, eh?” I remember people started cheering “Go Joseph!” and I was surprised. How do these random strangers know my name??? I remembered, “Oh, my bib has my name” lol. If there’s one thing that stuck with me the whole race, it was some lady shouting, “YOU RUN THIS CITY! YOU LITERALLY RUN HOUSTON!” I felt empowered by this for some odd reason. I run this city and I will continue to run this city in years to come. Cheers to all those that completed any races this weekend! Sign up for next year and run with me!

-Joseph