Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Year Simple Green Smoothie Challenge

 
 
Does anyone want to join in on this with me??  It's free to sign up and I've done it before.  I actually did about 40 days straight of having a green smoothie each day.
 
Sign up HERE!
 
Each week you will receive a shopping list in your email Inbox.  So yes, you do have to spend money but it's on fruits and vegetables.  I'm pairing this with continuing Couch to 5K.
 
The wedding is 4 months away so I'm really determined to slim down a bit and get rid of this bloat I've been feeling for the last few months!
 
You do NOT need a fancy schmancy $400 Vitamix blender.  I have a Nutribullet but a regular blender will do just fine.
 
Soooo, who's in?!
 
Think GREEN!
 
:)


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 Recap

Since I'm feeling emotional and overwhelmed with joy, I figured I'd do a 2013 recap.  It's going to be hard to top this year but since we're getting MARRIED, I think 2014 will be the best year!
 
In 2013:
 
-I quit my job and landed a new position at a job I love!  It's 3.3 (almost a 5K LOL) miles from home but the people there are what make it so great.  It's fast paced and I believe there's room for advancement.  What I do miss about the old job is my coworker, Hector.  He literally made me cry tears of laughter every day.
 
-Saro and I trained hard to run a half marathon.  More often than not, it was frustrating.  Mainly because, on top of working 40+ hours, it was hard to fit the training into our schedules.  But we DID IT.  I finished 13.1 miles in 2:43 and Saro finished in 2:17.  It was the best high anyone can ever have.  Frustrating & painful but would I do it again?  ABSOLUTELY.
 

My last long run before the half. 
After this is when my back injury occured.



 
 
-We got engaged! 

My love!!!!!
 

 
 
-I traded in my lil' Civic for a CR-V.  Murphy loves it!  Ha!

 
 
-I turned 30!
 
There were also some not so good things but I'm working on being positive and I don't feel like discussing those today.
 
Merry Christmas!
 
Love,
The Cafeyan's
 
 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Birthday Party at Work!

Birthdays are always fun here at the office!  This morning, I came in to a Happy Birthday banner, balloons, flowers, cards, gifts including an Alex & Ani gift card, breakfast, hugs, kisses and lots of well wishes!
 
Tonight is our Christmas party at a nice venue nearby and then I'm off tomorrow!  Saro has a half day in the morning, probably 6-10 so we will have the whole day off together.  Looking forward to that.
 
Saturday is my actual 30th birthday and we will be celebrating with friends at a Cuban restaurant and then a comedy show :)
 
Enjoy your weekend - see you back here on Monday!
 


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sweet Christmas (or anytime) Treat!

My friend made these last week at our friends annual cookie swap last week.  They were a big hit!  Sweet and salty.  I brought some to work and my coworkers loved them so I made more on Monday night.
 
These are NOT CALORIE FRIENDLY but soooo good and easy.  I was even thinking of variations to make.  Pretzels instead of almonds, or white chocolate, cranberries and pecans.  YUM.  I'll definitely be making another batch or two for our families next week!
 

 

Ingredients

  • 13 graham crackers
  • 1 bag (8 ounces) toffee bits
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped toasted natural almonds
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (4 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Preheat oven to 350. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place graham crackers in a single layer on sheet, edges touching. Sprinkle toffee bits and almonds over graham crackers.
  2. Step 2

    In a small saucepan, bring sugar and butter to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is syrupy, 2 minutes. Immediately pour over graham crackers. Bake until sugar topping is bubbling, 12 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate and salt over graham crackers. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut into 2-inch squares. Let cool completely on sheet on a wire rack. (Store in an airtight container, up to 1 week.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

This or That: Christmas Link Up!

Only one week until Christmas!  It came so quick, as usual!

 
 
  • Celebrity Christmas carol remakes, Chipmunk carol remakes?  Neither?  Lol.  My favorite Christmas movies to watch each year are Christmas Vacation, It's a Wonderful Life, Elf.
  • Gift cards, gift baskets?  I like personalized gift baskets or ones you can create your own on a website.  A lot of the premade ones I don't end up buying because I know the person might not like a couple of the items in there.  Decisions, decisions!  Recently, I made a Bloody Mary basket for my Uncle for his birthday.  He loved it!
  • Naughty or Nice? Nicey nice!  ;)
  • Getting everything on your wish list, Giving someone everything on their wish list?  Definitely giving.  I probably can't get them everything, though!  I also like to see what people choose to give me.  Exchanging gifts is fun :)

  • Present on Christmas Eve, Presents on Christmas morning?  As I got older, my Mom and I would exchange on Christmas Eve and then on Christmas day with the rest of the family.  With Saro, we've done both.  Usually we get bored on Christmas Eve and decide to open them - ha!
  •  
     
    Have a good day!  It's snowing again here in NJ!

    Monday, December 16, 2013

    Window Treatments

    Funny, the things you get excited about as a homeowner!
     
    After almost 3 years in our house, we bit the bullet and got custom shades for our kitchen, living room and dining room.  We held off because they can cost an arm & a leg be very expensive and we have 20 windows between both rooms!
     
    We debated about which type to get - cellular, wood, roman shades, etc. but went with cellular/honeycomb.   They're easy to clean with the brush attachment on the vacuum.
     
    We had two companies come for quotes over the last 2 years and it ranged between $3,500-$7,000.  No WAY could/would we spend that.  The windows are not an even number so we couldn't just buy them from a store; they had to be custom sized.
     
    It took us almost 2 hours just to measure everything ourselves and place the order.  We even have to return a couple of them because they're too wide.  By about 1/8 of an inch - ugh!  So that's the downside to not paying thousands for labor, lol.  Oh well!  We got most of them up over the weekend and they look great - more privacy, and it opens the room up so much more. 
     
    We live on a fairly busy corner so we decided to get top down/bottom up cellular shades.  That way, we can pull them down from the top or up from the bottom.
     
    Here a couple pictures:
     

     
    If you're looking to get new shades/blinds, I recommend Blind Saver.  We saved a ton of money although we did shop on Cyber Monday so we saved 50% off Levolor plus got $50 back from shopping through Ebates.  Free shipping and perfect fit guarantee so in case you measure off (which we did), they'll ship you new ones at no additional cost (I just have to find out about returning the others).  After placing the order on 12/2, they arrived on 12/13.
     
    We still have to order for the bedrooms.  Our bedroom has a bay window.  The other bedroom has a bay and a regular window.   Oof, so many windows but that's one of the reasons why we love the house.
     
    The little things in life!!!
     
    Here's to a short work week and my birthday weekend coming up :)

    Friday, December 13, 2013

    C25K, Day 1 (again)

    Sometimes I'm erratic.  Not in a bad way.  When I come up with an idea, I usually have to do it right away.  My mom always told me this growing up, and would often get frustrated with me.
     
    Anyway, yesterday I downloaded the Couch to 5K app again.  I had deleted it a while ago when I was throwing a fit frustrated.
     
    Although I ran 13.1 miles 7 months ago, I figured I should start from the bottom and work my way up again.  If possible.  Rather than just going out there and pushing myself too much.  Week 1 is 3 days of 5 minute brisk walk and then alternating 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking.  You alternate this for 20 minutes and then cool down with a 7 minute brisk walk.  It was easier than the first time I did this, which is a good sign.  This morning I'm feeling good - no major aches or pains, just my hip a little bit but that's been there for months.
     
    I'm planning on doing it 3x a week, depending how I'm feeling.  I don't want to push myself and become injured again.  I'm most likely signing up for Cupid's Chase 5K which is in a town nearby on February 8th.  Saro and I did it last year and it was COLD but fun.  See that recap here.
     
    Last night's results were:
    2.06 miles
    30 minutes
     
    

    Thursday, December 12, 2013

    Festive Favorites & Finish the Sentence Link Ups!

    Happy Friday Eve!  Last night we had our girls night 3rd annual cookie swap and it was a lot of fun.  15 girls in a room with sugar & wine, I'll take it any day :)
     
    Now to link up with a few gals and Jake for Christmas link ups!

     
     
  • Favorite Christmas song - Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses
  • Christmas song you can’t stand - Dominick the Donkey.  UGH.  Hate it.
  • Favorite holiday movie - I have a few but if I had to choose, National Lampoons Christmas vacation!


  • Real or artificial tree?  REAL.  Love the smell.
  • White or colored lights?  White!  And lots of 'em.
  • All matching ornaments or more random personal ornaments?  Random, personal ornaments.  When I moved out, my mom gave me most of her ornaments as she doesn't really put up a tree anymore.  Some are really old!
  • Favorite ornament - The Christmas star that everyone got after my Grandpa passed right before Christmas 1986.
  • Angel or star tree-topper?  Star.  I have a gold star that my mom gave me and has had since I can remember.
  • Does Santa wrap presents or leave them unwrapped?  Wrapped!
  • Favorite childhood memory - all of us being at my Gram's and opening the Christmas popper hats to see what prize we got!
  • Coffee, hot chocolate, or eggnog?  Coffee!
  • Christmas morning at home or do you travel?  Home for sure.  I don't think I've ever traveled for a major holiday.
  • Traditional holiday meal or something unconventional?  Traditional - prime rib or filet mignon, potates, veggies, fancy cheese and crackers, appetizers with phyllo dough, and plenty of dessert. Not low calorie.  Sorry not sorry.
  • Personalized photo Christmas cards, store bought cards, e-cards, or “ain’t nobody got time for that”?  Personalized photo cards.  I bought 75 for $20 on Vistaprint this year :)  Speaking of that, we still have to send them out...!


  • 1. My favorite Christmas was....They've all been great!  Everyone (mainly) is in a good mood.
    2. The worst Christmas I had...there was a family argument when I was about 16 or 17 and I just went off on everyone and stormed out.  It's not the "norm" for me to do that but I couldn't hold it in anymore.
    3. That one gift that made me scratch my head and say, "Hmmmm" was...I'm sure I've had one of these but I can't recall, so I guess that's a good thing.
    4. One year I....exchanged gifts with Saro in my car in a parking lot.  LOL.  It was when we first met and we were out on a date so just decided to exchange there, ha.
    5. I think the worst gift to give is....a mug.  Sorry, but I already have about 25 mugs.
    6. At Christmastime I typically....bake a lot and not even eat a lot of it.  I like to give it out :)
    7. Typically, family Christmas....used to be spent at my grandma's all day/night but as she's older, we have all kind of started our own traditions.  We still spend it with her though.  It's bittersweet I guess.
    8. If I could change one thing about the Holiday season....it would be that people stop acting so crazy and driving like maniacs.  You always hear about people dying while shopping on Black Friday or other horror stories.
    9. It is so hard to buy for....my mom.  She always just tells me she needs new PJs.
    10. My favorite Christmas tradition is...just waking up at home with a homemade breakfast, opening gifts, playing Christmas tunes and movies throughout the day and spending time with family.
    11. Santa, baby, bring me a....check in full made out to Sallie Mae ;)
     

    Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    Wedding Wednesday: My Engagement Ring

    I am running out of topics but I still want to partake in Wedding Wednesday!  There's actually plenty I can share, but I don't want to overshare before the big day.
     
     
    144 days to go!
     
    Now, onto today's topic!
    My engagement ring is a 4-prong solitaire diamond 14K gold ring.
     
    A lot of people ask if I picked it out.  No, I did not.  We never went ring shopping together.  A while back, Saro showed me a few different pictures and asked which I liked best.  I don't remember if I "picked out" one he showed me but I did tell him I do like simple and classic.
     
    Saro went into NYC without me (big deal) not once but TWICE, for the ring.  First to pick out the diamond and next, to pick it up.  One of our good friends was at our house recently and he was telling us how nervous he was going into NYC with a lot of cash on him.  LOL I could just picture it.  Both of his NYC trips, I had no idea about.  I thought he was at work!  Little did I know he had taken two half days.  What a guy...
     
    It was a big deal for him to take the train without me into NYC.  He hates public transportation and doesn't have the best sense of city direction.  It's funny because he grew up in Fort Lee, NJ which basically sits right next to the George Washington Bridge entrance.  So, NYC isn't forgein to him but it's just not his thing.  At all.
     
    It's not the best picture but it's hard to capture it on camera!
     
     
    I love it!  I'm always so nervous I'm going to lose it.  Please tell me I'm not the only one!  A few people I've said that to are like HAHAHA OMG.  It fits well but gets a little loose when I'm cold. 
    I take it off before bed (or sometimes when I get home if I'm cooking messy) and it goes in the box he gave it to me in.  I then check it again right before the light goes off.  Paranoid much?
     
    ***What kind of ring do you have or what do you think you would like to wear f-o-r-e-v-e-r?***
    

    Tuesday, December 10, 2013

    Cookie Swap Link Up!

     
    Perfect day for a cookie swap link up.  It's snowing here in NJ.  I love the snow.  Especially when I can stay home and bake all day.  Not happening now that I work only 3 miles from home...lol.
     
    Anyway, I made these (click for the recipe) raspberry almond shortbread cookies last night for our friends annual cookie swap tomorrow.  Tonight after work I have an ultrasound appointment and I wanted to get a work out in, so I figured I'd make them last night.  I wouldn't say these are a favorite since it was my first time making them, but they came out great and were super easy!  They taste like linzer cookies with a quarter of the prep work.  Tonight or tomorrow before the swap, I'll ice them.  To make them look more Christmasy, I might add a little green food coloring to the glaze.

     
    Is it snowing where you live today?  Do you like to make cookies from scratch?

    Monday, December 9, 2013

    Getting Older

    Ok, I know 30 isn't old at all but I'm feeling it.  Mentally and physically.  The physical part has been mentioned here the last few weeks and months.
     
    The thing that bothers me the most is not seeing friends as much.  We all have our own jobs, priorities, homes, kids, etc.  and for all of us to get together is always a challenge and a production.  I guess this is part of life but it bothers me a lot more than it probably should.
     
    When I used to work two jobs, I missed out on a lot of things because my Saturday and Sunday shifts began at 6:30am.  Not being a night person to begin with, I rarely went out those 3 years.  When I did, I'd regret it the entire day and ask myself why I went out and drank too many beers but then I'd remind myself that you only live once and you also need to enjoy yourself.
     
    Now, every other weekend (for the most part), Saro's daughters are with us.  I'm aware I can go out and make plans with friends but since we only see them 4 days out of the month, I try to maximize that time.
     
    It's funny.  The girls are now 17 & 18.  Looking back, I LOVED that age.  Finishing up high school, seeing friends every day.  I wouldn't want to go back to it though - if that makes sense.  It was great fun while it lasted but the awkwardness, drama and heart ache?  No thanks.
     
    I guess by missing out on fun and enjoyable things in life due to crappy situations, it's just easier to stop asking the person who says "no" more than "yes."
     
    Does anyone else feel this way?  Bueller?
    

    Friday, December 6, 2013

    Christmas DIY Gift Idea

    Happy Friday, all!!!
     
    This year, I decided to get a little crafty and make homemade facial scrub and cookie mix in a jar.
     
    Mine actually came out really similar!
     
    These were super easy to make and less than half what they charge in the stores (and fun to make!).  I made six quart sized jars and it took about an hour to do.  Simple, quick and cute.  Who doesn't love cookies?  Just sayin'.  I also ordered mini holiday spatulas from The Pampered Chef to attach so in total, these came out to be around $5 each.
     
    I also made these last night.  Again, simple and quick.  Something different.  They smell great!
     
     
    The jars, honey and sugars are from Target.  The labels are from Vistaprint, almond oil is from Whole Foods, lavendar from Amazon.  These came out to be around $4 each.
     
    I might also make homemade chocolate pretzel rods.  I think these three wrapped in a nice gift bag is a good idea.  What do you think?
     
    Have you ever done DIY gifts or baked goods?

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

    Two Things I Never Want To Do Again

    But will probably have to...
     
    An MRI and an EMG nerve test.  Last night I had to have an EMG done.  Apparently they can't pick up any F-waves on either side of my body.  I have no clue what that even means but it could explain the complete numbness I experience if I sleep on my left side.  The test didn't hurt, it was just uncomfortable for 45 straight minutes.  They basically shock you about 50 times to see how your nerves react.  He wants me to come back in 6 months for another one.
     
    He also wants to do an MRI of my neck.  Great.  So that means I'll have to go even farther into the dreaded tunnel.  I'm sweating just writing about it.  He said it can wait until after the holidays.  That's just swell.  So I'll think about it constantly for the next month.  Cue in: anxiety.
     
    I've been feeling a little more anxious than normal lately and it could be because I have autoimmune thyroiditis or Hashimoto's disease.  This is new news to me as of yesterday.  You can read about it here.  I may or may not look everything up on Wikipedia.
     
    I have an appointment with an endocrinologist on Dec. 20th and they will most likely put me on medication.
     
    I know none of this is life or death but I'm just sharing what's going on.  I'm still extremely frustrated that I can't/shouldn't run.  When I was running 3-4x a week, I felt my best and was at my lowest weight.  I don't want to aggravate my lower back or nerves and make it worse so besides walking, I've taken a break from intense exercise.  I'm planning to go to a class on Saturday morning at my friends studio, so we will see how I feel after that.

    Wednesday, December 4, 2013

    Wedding Wednesday: Something Blue & Rehearsal Invites

     
    Welcome back to Wedding Wednesday!  Yesterday, I received my new monogram on a satin piece.  I got it from Etsy at this shop and it is to be sewn into the inside of my wedding gown.  I thought it was a cute touch, even though no one will see it.  It'll be my something blue!
     
    I have to admit, I stole the idea from someone else's blog!  Kristyn, was it yours??  I looked through your posts but couldn't find it, ha!  I read a lot of Wedding Wednesday posts ;)

     
    Also, today marks 5 months until our big day!  Nothing else really new to report except that we got the sticker label for the favors and ordered the rehearsal invitations from Minted.  Their stuff is a little pricey but super cute and nice.  We only needed to order 25, so not too terrible.  Here's the design we went with:
     
    Dinner Party Rehearsal Dinner Invitations
     
    I changed up the fonts and made it a little bigger.  We liked this invite - simple, cute and to the point.
     
    We are inviting about 40 people.  After the quick rehearsal/walk through at the venue (the officiant might not even be able to attend but the wedding coordinator will be there), we will have dinner at a local restaurant, very well known for their gourmet neapolitan pizza.  My cousin is the manager there so I know they'll do a great job!  It'll be fun and relaxed :)

     
     
    OH!  I also ordered my veil.  I can't share the details though in case the fiance is reading!!
     
    Have a good day :)
    

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

    This or That Link up : Home Edition

     
    Happy Tuesday, all!
     
    I'm linking up with the girls for This or That!
     
  • Screened in porch, wrap around deck?  Wrap around deck!!  They look a little nicer but I wouldn't mind a screened in porch, either.  Our yard has a lot of bugs!
  • Big luxurious bathtub, huge walk in closet? Huge walk in closet, for sure!!  I have too much crap.  We have a big bathtub and I barely use it! (It's separate from the shower).
  • Kitchen with an island, kitchen with a breakfast bar?  Since we are hoping to redo our kitchen within the next year or two, I'm thinking about opening it up and adding a breakfast bar.  Or an island.  Eek, I don't know.  I'd love either one, or both!  Ha!  Let me win the lottery first.
  • Big front yard, big back yard?   Big back yard which we already have!  More privacy and room for parties with lots of people :)
  • Bountiful garden, nearby grocery store?  Both!  In the summer we do have a garden but it's definitely not big enough to rarely go to the store.  I'm so careful about what I buy now.  Friggin' GMOs in everything now!

  • Monday, December 2, 2013

    Pile on the Miles Recap

     

     
    
    Well, I didn't make it to 60 miles in November... just 48 which still isn't bad.  I walked about every other day and anywhere from 2-4 miles.  The last week was a bit hectic with Thanskgiving and whatnot.
     
    Anyway, I'm glad I stuck with it even if I didn't meet my exact goal.
     
    Today I'm looking out for some Cyber Monday deals.  So far I'm eyeing new shades for our bedroom.  50% off, free shipping and cash back through Ebates.  Funny how priorities change once you're a homeowner.  Meh.
     
    We got our tree this weekend and decorated a bit outside.  Nothing crazy.  I'm not a fan of over the top outdoor holiday decor.
     
    That's about all I've got.  Have a great week!!!