Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lamb Meatball Recipe

Last night I made quick and easy lamb meatballs served with jasmine/brown rice mixture and string beans. They were very tasty!

1 lb ground lamb
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp bread crumbs (Whole Foods are my favorite because they're very fine)
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (can omit since feta is salty)
1/4 cup chopped scallions
Juice of 1 lemon wedge
1/4 cup herb feta cheese

Mix everything and refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Remove from fridge and make meatballs (I used a Pampered Chef scooper). Fry in olive oil (I used my cast iron pan), 1 minute on each side. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain some of the grease, plus lamb is pretty fatty.

I loved the taste of the mixed spices. You can also use ground beef or turkey if you prefer.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Year In Review {2014}

2014 was a very...emotional year for me. Mainly in a good way but a little indifferent, too. As most of you know, it was the year we got married. It's been almost 8 months already! The day I had known deep down would happen since 2007 but became official in the summer of 2013. The day we had been saving every last penny for was finally here!

To date, our wedding day was and remains the best, happiest day of my life. I knew
Saro was the one for me for a long time and I felt ready. I truly feel that he's my other half. We work great together as a team, share a lot of the same likes and dislikes and we're truly best friends.

 I wasn't really nervous at all. I was more nervous for my bridal shower, actually! From the moment I woke up on our wedding day, I felt happy, excited and content. 

 The feeling I got when I peeked out and saw about 125 of our family and friends waiting to witness us get married was indescribable. Amazing. I mean, I obviously knew who was coming, who wasn't, who was there in spirit, etc. but it was just an amazing feeling and a once in a lifetime for sure. Never again will all of those people be in the same room again to celebrate us!

The best man speech was amazing and left us all in tears.

I ugly cried leaving the resort after our honeymoon. I will admit that the following weeks/months after, I almost felt...depressed. I loved planning the wedding and everything we worked so hard to save for and plan was over. It was such a weird feeling. 

Our honeymoon was nothing less than amazing. Hence the ugly cry at the end of it. If you ever want to go to Mexico, I highly recommend the resort we went to. It's called the Excellence in Playa Mujeres.


Then, 4 weeks after our honeymoon, my 18 (now 19) year old step daughter moved in with us. She came to live with us the same day she graduated high school. It hasn't been the easiest thing I've been through and I'm sure the same goes for her and my husband. 

For the last 31 years, I've only ever lived with one person - my Mom and as of 4 years ago, Saro. We live in a small house so just getting used to someone else being there, finding out each others habits, etc. definitely took some time - and it still is. Only child syndrome, much? I surely have learned a lot more about myself in the last 7 months.


I became an aunt and a godmother! Our niece was born on the day of our wedding! Our nephew was born on June 21st. They are the cutest and I can't help but smile when I'm around them! I feel very thankful and blessed that both parents asked me to be their godmother.


I hit my goal of running a sub 30 minute 5K! 29:54 to be exact! That was a huge relief and it felt great. Ask me if I've done it more than once. Nope, I haven't. 

I completed T25 before our wedding and I've also stuck with Piyo by Beachbody for the last 6 months. It's my favorite by far.

That pretty much sums up my year in a nutshell.

*I wish you all a safe, happy & healthy 2015. Cheers!*

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Monday, December 22, 2014

31st Birthday Recap

Last week, my husband surprised me with a trip to Pinot's palette and Fleetwood Mac tickets. You can read that post here.

On Saturday, we went out to dinner for my birthday and it was really nice. I had an amazing dish. It was similar to chicken francese but with a ton of sauteed spinach and mozzarella on top. So good.

On my birthday (the 21st), I got up at 7:30 to go food shopping, LOL. I don't do well with crowds and wanted to take my time instead of dodging other carts and rushing to get the heck out. Needless to say, my early outing was a success and I was back home before 10 (2 different markets plus the pet store).

Then, I made brownies for today's work pot luck. I used my new Pampered Chef brownie pan and they came out really yummy! I simply Googled "best brownie recipe" and found this one.

I was in the baking/cooking mood so while I was waiting for Saro to return from PA, I decided to make a butternut squash mixture in puff pastry appetizer plus a farfalle, shrimp, artichoke pasta dish for dinner. I love anything with puff pastry! It was butternut squash, onion, mushrooms, grated apple, herbed goat cheese and parmesan. I guess I don't need to add that said recipes were NOT low fat by any means. Oops.

Today, on top of the pot luck, my coworkers decorated my area for my birthday and got me a cake. I am so full, I don't even think I need dinner tonight.

It was a great birthday!!!

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Early Birthday Surprise

Last night, my husband told me to be ready at 5:30 because we were going out to dinner for my birthday. It's the 21st but tonight we are both not home, tomorrow we are celebrating my step daughter's 18th birthday, Saturday we are going out to dinner with the girls and our moms and Sunday he will be driving my step daughter back to PA which is a 5 hour affair. 

Anyway, I normally get home form work at 5:15-5:20 so I quickly ran in and got changed. The doorbell rang but Murphy wasn't barking so I was like what the heck? Yes, it was my husband waiting with roses. LOL. He's so cute. Then he was like "COME ON. WE HAVE TO GO!" I didn't know why we were rushing to dinner but I assumed he had plans for us after.

I knew we were going for Thai - yum. I hadn't had it in a while and enjoyed my beef mussaman. He gave me a card and told me to open it "carefully." I read what he wrote (tears)! At the bottom it said "PS - what a pretty picture *wink*" I didn't understand what that meant and then he said we were going to go paint! Pinot's Palette just opened near us. You can bring a bottle of wine and enjoy while you paint! It is so fun!! For some reason I can't upload my painting but I will try to add it later.

Also in the envelope were 2 tickets for FLEETWOOD MAC!!! I was so excited and thankful. Such awesome, thoughtful gifts. He's the best!

The concert is next month at Madison Square Garden in NYC. I can't wait!!!!! I've always loved Fleetwood Mac, especially Stevie Nicks. Growing up, my aunts and Mom were big fans so I guess that's where I get it from.

Tonight is our work holiday party at an amazing venue with great food and then I have a 3 day weekend - woohooooo!

Have a great one :)

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Home Tour

I snapped some pictures of our Christmas home decor last night. Sorry for the iPhone quality!

Panorama of our living room & dining room. Excuse the air filter behind the couch ;)

The recessed lighting is new. You can't tell from the picture but the wires are showing on the top so we're getting crown molding after the holidays.

Christmas ornaments hanging in our bay window.

Santa's outfit!

Pets need stockings & treats, too!

Merry sign from a local shop.

Happy Holidays pillow from Pier 1.

"T" towel from Kohl's - on sale 2 for $6!

Hope Joy Peace sign

"T" ornament from Pottery Barn

Props to the husband for decorating outside!! Last year, I made those two trees with tomato fences and lights.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of our little house.

I can't believe Christmas is a week away. This year flew by so quick!


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Friday, December 12, 2014

Turbofire // 1,000 burpees

Happy Friday! I have a half day today followed by a solo lunch outing and getting my hair done. Tonight we have a friend's birthday/ugly Christmas sweater party. It should be fun!

Piyo came with a bonus Turbofire low HIIT 20 minute workout. I decided to try it last week and again last night. The first time I was like what the HECK am I doing? The second time, I was more coordinated. It has some funky moves but I liked it. I doubled up and did Piyo strength intervals and burned 457 calories in 40 minutes!

On Wednesday, I completed the 30 day / 1,000 burpee challenge. It was actually a 5 week challenge because you have to include some rest days. I finished a couple days late but I didn't give up! The last day, I had 135 left to go so I decided to do them all and get it over with. I did them in sets of 15 (including a jumping jack), resting for 1-2 minutes in between. Man, they really get your heart rate up! I burned over 200 calories in 20 minutes. Check out their other 30 day challenges here.

I'm feeling pretty good; still not seeing much of a change on the scale but I can tell in my clothes, specifically dress pants and jeans. 

I'm itching for a run - maybe tomorrow or Sunday!

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

2014 Cookie Swap

Last night was our 4th annual Christmas cookie swap. Everyone bakes a few dozen cookies. We sample them, drink wine and everyone takes a container of assorted cookies home. Needless to say, it's a fun time. It's always hard for all of us to get together throughout the year but this is an event where almost everyone can attend :)


They were all really good! My favorites were salted caramel shortbread cookies drizzled with chocolate and pomegranate spritz cookies.

Have you ever participated in a cookie swap?

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Monday, December 8, 2014

The Armenian Culture

You learn something new every day, right?

In light of our goddaughter's christening yesterday, I wanted to write a little bit about the Armenian culture.

Eight or so years ago, I probably couldn't even point to Armenia on an unmarked world map. It's located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. Here it is in case you're curious:

Saro was born in the U.S. but has been to Armenia. He speaks, reads and writes it fluently. My mother in law speaks English, Armenian, some french and some Arabic. I've learned so much about the culture, language, religion (similar to mine, Catholic) and of course, food!

I've been to Armenian apostolic church a bunch of times thus far. I have learned that many things are said 3 times (for the father, son and holy spirit). Example: It's not just "lord have mercy." It's "Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy."

We also turn around, facing the front door of the church, away from the altar or East/toward the rising sun for a prayer.

When being baptized, the baby is placed in a sink of warm holy water 3 times and then each sense (ears, eyes, nose, lips, hands) is blessed with oil. It is recommended to refrain from bathing the baby for 2 days and the first water used to wash him/her should be discarded outside in the soil and not down the drain. I find this to be a very special ritual.

On Saturday, we went to Saro's cousins house for a get together and dinner. It is so nice to see (almost) everyone come together. We were missing a few cousins! There are always at least 25 of us and it's a very welcoming, loving, fun and relaxed atmosphere.

The food is amazing and I recommend checking out The Armenian Kitchen food blog. Most dishes are labor intensive and contain a lot of ingredients but man, is it yummy! A lot of dishes contain fillo dough and who can resist that?!

We had braised lamb, baked chicken wings and thighs with onion and potato, rice pilaf, chopped eggplant with tomato, orzo with spinach and olives, cheese baked in fillo, & stuffed grape leaves. YUM

Words/phrases I can pick up on when listening to a conversation (without googling them!) 

Parev - Hello
Eench bes es - How are you?
Ayo - Yes
Votch - No
Kisher paree - Good night
Paree Deratarz - Happy Birthday
Paree Luis - Good Morning
Medzmama - Grandma
Tant (I think?) - Aunt
Amo - Uncle
Chur - Water
Bachig - Kiss
Yez Kez Serum Em - I love you

That's about all I know!

Saro's family is very tight knit and family oriented. I really enjoy being around them and calling them family now, too!

If you're interested in learning more about the culture, click here.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Glad It's Friday

The day started off a little iffy. I took Murphy out to go to the bathroom before I left for work. This is normal except I usually let him out in the yard to play for 20-30 minutes while I get ready and he barks at every kid or person walking. We live on a "rush hour" busy corner and the side street leads to the middle/high school so he taunts the kids and they taunt him back.

Lately, he's been scared to go out in the morning. He will pull back, wanting to stay inside so I've been taking him out near the front yard. He's pretty skiddish around people he doesn't know and he nipped at one of my friends once because she put her hand out in front of him, even though I tell everyone who comes in our house to completely ignore him and eventually, he will come around. You're coming in to HIS house and sometimes he doesn't like it.

This morning I was walking him alongside our yard, on the side street and a lady (who I often see walking) was walking toward us. She's not very friendly as I've said hi to her a few times and she keeps her head down. Today she couldn't avoid me. She was looking down and I still said "Good Morning!" She replied with Good Morning and right then, Murphy went to jump on her. I reacted very quickly and pulled his leash back (he has a choker collar to prevent him from dragging us while walking him). No, it's not mean. She kept walking at her usual quick pace and mumbled something. I said "I'm really sorry about that!"

Geesh, I felt terrible but glad I reacted quickly and he didn't take her down or anything like that.

 I know not everyone owns or even likes dogs but whenever I see a person from a distance walking a dog, I try to avoid them or at least give some distance because obviously, you never know what could happen. This is pretty much the reason I don't walk him alone, without Saro. He's 85 lbs. and it's hard for me to control him.

He's a big, 85 lb. baby and he's very attached to Saro and I. Similar to a shy toddler, he even tries to hide behind me if he doesn't feel comfortable. It's good to know he would protect us if we WERE in danger but I wish he knew not everyone who approaches is dangerous!


The day got better when I arrived at work and saw chocolate on my desk with a note from my boss, inviting us all to happy hour next week! Sweeeeet.

Looking forward to girls night with some friends tonight!

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

In Lieu of Christmas Cards

I'm usually on my game with Christmas cards. Meaning I order them in November and have them mailed out around now. After going back and forth about it, what design to use, which pictures to add, how to word it appropriately, etc., we decided to opt out this year and donate a portion of what we would have spent, to our charity wedding registry.

Anyway, this is the design we liked. Maybe next year!

Are you doing Christmas cards? What's your favorite site to use?

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Things My Husband Has Taught Me

1.) If you can't change a situation, try to change your attitude.

2.) Take life one day at a time and try not to think about the future too much. I agree to an extent. Certain things can only be dealt with day to day. Other things, for example, saving for retirement, you need to think about NOW or rather yesterday.

3.) Only you can control your feelings about something/someone. I partially agree. A certain thing can really bother someone but for someone else, it may not be a big deal at all. It's hard to control your feelings. For example, if you like someone, you like them. If you don't, you don't. We're not all going to like each other...

4.) How to mow the lawn. I never mow in a straight line. Oops.

5.) About Armenian culture, language, history and food.

6.) Patience/How to think outside the box. These two go hand in hand. Often times, whether it be with a craft, cooking or something else, I get frustrated and he will say "try it this way" to which I'm like "oh. duh." 

I'm sure there are more but these are the ones I think of first and I'm sure there will be more in the years to come!

Saro is a very insightful person. He's good at reading people and seeing right to their true colors. I've mentioned this before but I swear he knows me better than myself. It's almost scary. There have been countless occasions where he has said the exact thing I was thinking at the very same moment and I'll yell out "I was JUST going to say that!" or "I was JUST thinking the same thing!" To which he'll reply "I know." or "Oh my god!" and smile. 

What's something you've learned from your spouse, significant other, best friend, that you try to keep in mind when reacting to something?

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Soft White Chocolate Cranberry Walnut Cinnamon Cookies

I came across this recipe on Sally's Baking Addiction but changed it up a little bit. Click the link for the recipe. I did 1/2 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and 1/2 cup dried cranberries. I also added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. I baked them for exactly 10 minutes and then let them sit on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a plate. Check out Sally's site for more awesome cookie recipes!

I will definitely be making another batch or two for Christmas!

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Monday, December 1, 2014

POTM Recap

I reached my goal of running/walking 50+ miles in the month of November! 50.07 to be exact plus 16.5 miles spinning, a bunch of Piyo, burpee challenge (today starts round 5 - 670 down since 10/31, 330 to go in the next week - YIKES) and a few T25s for a total of 34 workouts and close to 11,000 calories burned. I can't say that any of this reflected on the scale, well, because somehow it didn't.

My longest run in a while was 5 miles in 54 minutes on Friday. My cousin asked me to sign up for a race with her but since I had work, I felt motivated to be there in spirit and decided to run my own 5 miles after work. It was cold and windy and my knees really felt it afterwards. I need to look for some fleece lined running pants for the winter!

50 miles doesn't seem like a lot but when tying it in with other activities, it is.

I pulled a glute muscle doing T25 stretch the other day and as much as I'd like to rest from exercise today, I won't. So, I'm thinking burpees and a short Piyo DVD. Tomorrow and Wednesday I have something going on right after work so unless I can drag my butt out of bed at 6, I'll rest those two days. 

Come back tomorrow for a yummy cookie recipe that's perfect for Christmas! :)

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Favorite Black Friday Online Deals

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! I sure did but feeling pretty bloated this morning. I'm glad I was able to get a work out in before yesterday's feast. I tried something new which was walking at 4 mph (15 min/mi) for 30 minutes and using 5 lb. weights. Not the whole time but on and off. It takes a bit of coordination since walking @ 4 mph is pretty quick. I'm feeling it in my biceps today!

I scored some pretty great & rare deals online this morning.

-- GAP has 50% off EVERYTHING and 12% back from eBates!

-- Bath and Body Works has buy 3, get 3 free on EVERYTHING. I scored six 6 oz. mason jar candles, 6 comfy shea socks, 6 mini paraffin hand creams and 6 hand sanitizers for $68 (with free shipping) or about $2.85 for each item. I plan on giving these to my coworkers for Christmas and I will have some leftover which I'll disburse between others.

-- TOMS shoes has 25% off almost everything, free shipping and 10% back from eBates! They often have $5 off $50 or $10 off $100 so 25% off is rare!

If you haven't signed up for eBates yet, feel free to do so HERE and then refer your friends and family. You can earn up to $75 bonus once they make their 1st purchase through eBates. It's simple. All you have to do is log into eBates, search for your store and click on it! Nothing more.

Are you a Black Friday shopper? 
Mall or online?

I'm an online shopper all the way.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Grandpa John

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! We are going to have a white Thanksgiving this year. Yup, up to 10 inches of snow expected which started this morning.

I hope you all have an enjoyable and safe holiday weekend with family & friends. In past years, tonight was a big "going out" night a.k.a. drinking too many beers and running into people you may or may not want to see from high school. 

Do you go out on Thanksgiving Eve?


Today is also the 20th anniversary of my Grandpa John going to heaven. I was 10 when he passed away but I have very fond memories of him. My grandparents lived in Scottsdale, Arizona when I was growing up and I have great memories of going to visit them in the summertime. They had an in ground pool and I would swim for days in that desert heat.

He was a very smart man. He was also very calm. My Dad also carries these traits and in some ways, I'm reminded of my grandpa when I see my Dad.

I'm so thankful to still have a bunch of letters from him. He wrote letters to me quite often when I was growing up and I'm so glad my Mom saved them.

I love and miss you, Grandpa John!

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