Oh Hi!

Well hello there! It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? Things have been busy around these parts and I haven’t had the time or energy to really blog. After most hiatuses, though, I’m trying to tell myself I should get back into blogging. I mean, it is something I enjoy doing after all! So what have I been doing these last three months? Let’s play catch up!

I started a new job. It’s been almost two months since I started and I’m finally at a point where I feel like I’m a contributing member of my team. A lot of time was spent with training, reading, and other on-boarding requirements not only for the company but also my specific department. For those that don’t know, I’m a technical writer which means I write user-facing documentation. You know the stuff you read when you go to the “Help” section on websites and stuff? I’m the one that takes the features that have been developed and try to explain them in layman’s terms to help users. You wouldn’t believe the amount of time spent trying to come up with something as simple as a title. I always thought creative writing was hard, but taking something complex and technical and trying to turn it into something simple and straight-forward? Oof. So as you can imagine, my brain hasn’t been wired for writing more when I get home.

Running has been limited. Things were going pretty decently after my IT band drama of the winter, but then I noticed some slight discomfort in my outer ankle/foot area. I traced it back to my peroneal tendon, but it’s being a real jerk and making it difficult for me to run consistently. When I say it’s being a jerk, I mean that I can generally run with it because it’s only slightly uncomfortable, but then after sitting for a while (and especially the next morning) my first few steps are quite painful. I’ve been foam rolling and using my trigger point ball like a mad woman, but it doesn’t seem to be helping much. It needs to get better sooner rather than later, though, because Chicago marathon training needs to start soon – ack!

I’m obsessed with fitness classes. Not too long ago the idea of fitness classes seemed silly to me. I always thought to myself, “why pay X amount when I can just go and do the same stuff at the gym?” Well guess what? I wasn’t actually going to the gym and doing that stuff. I have a weird level of motivation, and if it’s just me going to the gym on my own, I oftentimes skip it. BUT, if I’m paying money for a specific class that has an instructor, I’m much more likely to go. Some of the classes and memberships are really expensive, but if you’re going, enjoying yourself, and seeing results, I think it’s worth every penny. The best part is that most of my friends are very into fitness as well, so we push each other to get to classes and try new ones. Last week I tried barre for the first time and was surprised at how hard it was and how sore my abs were the next day! Not to mention they’ve been really helpful for me to keep my fitness up while dealing with my on and off running drama.

So that’s really what has been going on around these parts; adjusting to my new job, trying to get myself healthy to start marathon training, and keeping my fitness up by going to my tried-and-true fitness classes and also trying some new ones. After this long and cold winter I’m looking forward to the sunshine and warmth of summer, and hope to blog more about summertime fun!

Reflections: Internet Friends

A few weeks ago I attended a conference for work (put on by my company). Being a software development company and trying to stay on-trend with social media, the event had a hashtag and participants were encouraged to Tweet and Instagram throughout the week using the conference hashtag. Being the good employee that I am, at one point I Instagrammed a picture of cupcakes that were served during one of the session breaks. Later than evening while talking with a few partners, one stopped, looked at me and said; “You posted a picture of cupcakes earlier, right? And you’re a swimmer turned runner? Sorry, this sounds creepy.” I couldn’t help but laugh, and it actually didn’t creep me out. I mean, I put it out on the Internet, didn’t I?

At one point during the conversation (where he went on to say how he doesn’t like things like Facebook to post his own stuff, but likes reading about others… okay), I told him how I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some really great people through the Internet. And it got me thinking… I’ve been really lucky! I remember not too long ago talking to “strangers” on the Internet was dangerous. AOL chat rooms? Better hide the screen when your parents walk by! Meeting someone from the Internet? Forget about it! Yet now in my late twenties (when did that happen?) I’ve been fortunate enough to forge some really special bonds and create real friendships… thanks to the good ‘ole Internets.

I have a few great examples of how fortunate I’ve been with people I’ve met online and how those online relationships have become true friendships. One of my very first Internet-turned-real-life friends was Krissy. We connected over a love for running and Disney, and when we finally met IN Disney (of course) in 2012, it felt like we had been friends forever. She’s always so positive and enthusiastic, and runs full marathons like it ain’t no thang.

Runnin' with Krissy & Ashley at the Nike Women's Half in 2013!
Runnin’ with Krissy & Ashley at the Nike Women’s Half in 2013!

Another great example of this was yesterday. Ashley, who I first connected with on Twitter based on our love of running and New Jersey, quickly became a close friend. We hang out (which usually involves food), run together, complain to each other about work on g-chat, and yesterday I had the pleasure of attending her wedding! If you had asked me just a few years ago if I’d be attending the wedding of someone I met on the Internet, I would have looked at you funny. But I did and it was wonderful (of course)! And Dori, who I also connected with via Twitter because we were both running Richmond last year… now lives two doors down from me! And she introduced me to two other awesome ladies who love to run, eat, drink, and snark (some of my favorite things!). Talk about fate.

Ashley & Dori!
Ashley & Dori!

And there’s my favorite diner date, Hollie, who I can text any time with random thoughts and will likely reply that she was thinking the same thing. Her name isn’t FueledByLOLZ for nothing – she always knows how to make me laugh, and can provide invaluable running advice whenever I need it.

Just hangin' out in the subway
Just hangin’ out in the subway

I’d be remiss not to mention all of the wonderful women I’ve met through the Oiselle Team, and while I can’t name them all, I’m thankful for the bond I’ve formed with so many great women across the country.  Not to mention my birthday twin Allie!

My favorite birthday twin
My favorite birthday twin

Even though the Internet has been around for quite some time and social media isn’t anything new, it still blows my mind that you can have these connections with complete strangers, who turn out to be some of your very best friends. I can go from sharing a few 140 character interactions with someone to talking on g-chat (cough, Leticia, cough), to texting and hanging out, to attending their wedding! Maybe this is a sappy post because I’m coming down from a love-fest high of weddings three weekends in a row and I’m just so thankful to have a close friend living mere steps away, but this whole social media thing has connected me with so many great people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. The Internet is a funny place… and I’m grateful for it.

Tell me…
What’s your favorite way to connect with people online? (mine is obviously Twitter!)

Friday Favorites

Welcome to another installation of my Friday Favorites! I realized as I was thinking about this post that I’ve done a bunch, and the titles of each blog post are all the same. Whoops! But this post is no different from any of those other posts – it’s a whole bunch of random things I’m currently loving.

Bodum Bistro Coffee Maker

This coffee maker is awesome. You may be wondering why I bought a new coffee maker when the one I had was fine. Well, this bad boy was on sale, and after reading a few reviews, I knew I had to have it. I mean, just look at it!

What a beaut
What a beaut

I’m no coffee connoisseur, but I’m an avid coffee drinker and appreciate a good cup. I have a French Press and love to take the time to use it on the weekends, and I also love getting pour-over coffee when I’m out. This coffee maker gives me a similarly flavored cup of coffee, and all I have to do is grind some coffee beans, fill it up with some water, and press a button. And another bonus is the carafe that the maker comes with; it’s insulated so you can take it from the kitchen to the table so you don’t have to keep getting up during your lazy weekend breakfast (and it isn’t glass, so you don’t have to worry about breaking it, like I’ve done before).

New Balance 1400s

I’ve wanted a pair of lighter sneakers for awhile; a pair that I can run workouts and shorter races in, and as I get stronger, longer races. A lot of my friends wear New Balance 1400’s or 1600’s, so I figured I’d give them a try. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that a big draw to these particular sneakers were the colors. I’ve always been obsessed with bright and bold colors, and New Balance has been delivering on that front with their running sneakers for quite a few years. I tried them on before ordering them, and am happy to report that in addition to the sweet colors, they fit great and are perfect fast(er) running sneakers for me.

So bright. So awesome.
So bright. So awesome.

It was tough to figure out what color scheme I wanted, but eventually I settled on the glow in the dark 1400’s! They’re perfect because I can wear them when I have to run after work, and if you throw them under the light for a few minutes before you head out the door, they actually glow. I like the idea of having a little extra visibility (in addition to my reflective vest, and knuckle lights), and these provide that. Plus, they have just the right amount of cushion while still letting me feel the ground; and they’re super light weight. I’m looking forward to working them into my shoe rotation on a more steady basis… I’d love to be able to use them as my racing shoe for my PR half marathon attempt!

Oiselle Spring Funnel Neck 

I knew as soon as I saw this top that I had to have it. The gray color with a pop of fresh green on the sleeves and the ever-so-slight turtleneck were just what I needed to help get me through the last few months of winter.

A Polar Vortex Selfie, brought to you by the funnel neck, a long puffer, and serious snow boots
A Polar Vortex Selfie, brought to you by the funnel neck, a long puffer, and serious snow boots… with a creepin’ cat

Unfortunately it’s still too cold for me to wear it while running, but I’ve been loving it as a layering piece for everyday wear in the meantime. The beauty of a lot of Oiselle‘s clothing is that while it’s made for running, you can easily get away with wearing it out in public without having that “oh, you just worked out” look. Plus, since my office is casual (they let us wear shorts in the summer), tops like this are perfect for work… especially because it’s always cold in my office and the thumb-holes help keep me warm!

Reading for fun

This might sound silly, but when I was in college I couldn’t wait to “not have to study and do homework” so I could read books that I wanted to read for fun. As an English major I did plenty of reading, but it was almost always assigned reading; I think I had maybe one class that incorporated some outside reading. So when I first graduated I did just that – I tore through quite a few books and was loving it. But as the years passed and I got busier with that little thing called being an adult (and the introduction of running and marathon training), reading for fun fell by the wayside. I recently changed that, and have been loving it so far!

Reading by candlelight is my jam
Reading by candlelight is my jam

During the Holidays I read Everything Is Perfect When You’re A Liar by Kelly Oxford, and often found myself giggling while reading. It’s absolutely hilarious and a fun, lighthearted read. On my trip to Brussels I read Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and devoured it in a matter of hours. It’s technically a young adult novel, but I think people of all ages will absolutely love it. It takes you back to high school and reminds you of those gut-wrenching feelings you had for that boy or girl that caught your eye. I’ve also been slowly going through Jay Dicharry’s Anatomy for Runners, but it’s a science heavy book so I’ve been taking it piece by piece and isn’t really a “fun” read so much as an “I need this so I can figure out how to stop getting injured so much while running” read. I also just downloaded The Fault In Our Stars by John Green at the recommendation of many (though those recommendations have also come with a sadness warning). I’m hoping 2014 is the year of Danielle being well read!

Supporting Others & Causes

While this doesn’t necessarily fit with the whole “material things I love right now” theme of the post, I wanted to take a minute to point out two special runners that have gone from Twitter and blog friends, to teammates, to real life buds. I am so inspired by both of these ladies on a daily basis – from their amazing positive attitudes, to their insane and speedy mileage, to the support and FUN they bring to the running and blogging community. Currently, they’re both fundraising for separate, but equally important causes, and I wanted to highlight them in hopes that you will think about making a donation to help them reach their goals!

Hollie – Fueled by LOLZ
Hollie is currently fundraising for Ophelia’s Place, a center that provides information about eating disorder prevention, intervention, treatment, and education. She’s running the Lake Effect Half Marathon in Upstate New York at the end of February (I’m cold just thinking about it) and hopes to raise $2,000 for the cause. I hope you’ll take a moment to think about donating!

She also posts amazing memes everyday... I mean, how could you note vote for THIS?
She also posts amazing memes everyday… I mean, how could you note vote for THIS?

That being said, Hollie is also campaigning this month for an all expense paid trip to Napa to run the Zooma Half Marathon, and she’d love to have your vote. You’re supposed to vote for a blogger that embodies the Zooma mission – inspiring women to lead healthy, happy, and active lives. It seems pretty clear to me based on Hollie’s dedication to being a healthy runner – and in the process is fundraising for eating disorder awareness – that she does in fact embody the Zooma mission. Not to mention she’s hilarious and a lover of New Jersey diners, and my Oiselle teammate. So let’s help get her to Napa (you can vote once a day until the end of February)!

Krissy – Shiawaselife
Krissy was one of my first Twitter/blog friends turned real life friends, and I’m so thankful that she’s also an Oiselle teammate who is equally (and possibly even MORE) obsessed with Disney as I am. I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with her in Disney World, Disneyland, and running the Nike Half in D.C. last April with her and Ashley.

Runnin' with KMurph & Bun in DC... having SO MUCH FUN
Runnin’ with KMurph & Bun in DC… having SO MUCH FUN

I wish I could get across on paper (or in this case, computer screen) how awesome I think Krissy is, but I don’t think there are words that can adequately describe just how enthusiastic, positive, and supportive she is. So naturally when I found out she was going to be running the Run Donna 26.2 at the end of February as her redemption race in hopes of a (well deserved) BQ and would be fundraising in the process, I knew I had to donate… and I hope you’ll consider donating as well.

And with that, all I can say is happy Superbowl weekend!

Tell me…
What are you loving this week? 

Fitness Magazine Meet & Tweet Event

Last week, I had the opportunity to head into the city and be a part of Fitness Magazine’s Meet & Tweet blogger event! I remember reading a lot about it last year and wishing I had been a part of the fun, so when I heard that they were looking for bloggers to sign up for the event I made sure to get my name in, assuming I wouldn’t be one of the chosen bloggers out of the hundreds that applied. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that I had been selected to attend!

The event was held at The Mercedes Club, an upscale gym on West 54th Street in midtown Manhattan. Since it started at 9am, I had to take a 6:30ish train into the city to make sure I was there with plenty of time to meet up with some other bloggers and head over from Penn Station. Originally I was dreading the idea of getting up so early and taking NJ Transit during rush hour, but it was a completely uneventful morning – just the way I like it! A few days before the event I connected with Brianna, Toni, and Jen on Twitter and Facebook, and since they were coming either from Long Island or Upstate New York, we decided to meet in Penn Station and head over to the gym together. It’s funny to think how “meeting people on the Internet” was SO dangerous and somewhat taboo only a few years ago, and while it still can be (very) dangerous, I’ve met so many wonderful people and made great connections thanks to the Internet and social media in the last few years!

Once I met up with Brianna, Jen, and Toni, we decided to walk from Penn Station to the gym rather than take the subway since it was a beautiful (albiet a little humid) morning. We made a quick pit-stop at Cafe Olé across the street where a few other bloggers were meeting, and then went right into the event!


Picture courtesy of Brooklyn Active Mama!

As soon as I walked into the Mercedes Club I couldn’t help but be just a bit envious of the gym’s beauty. To be fair, I only belong to a $20/month gym that’s barebones, but it sure would be nice to workout at a location with an awesome facility and beautiful views! But anyway, we checked in, received our schedule for the day, and our name tags that made me feel oh-so-official.

Too legit to quit.
Too legit to quit.

We were able to grab some breakfast (muffins, eggs, Elixir juice), and headed outside to await the event’s speakers. There were a bunch of different speakers, ranging from Sara Lucero, a make-up artist to the stars, to Dr. Jennifer Ashton, to trainer Brett Hoebel, to a pannel of bloggers including the first food blogger I started reading (Smitten Kitchen!), and Rocco DiSpirito.

Posessionista, Smitten Kitchen, Jill Hanner, and Fit Bottomed Girls!
Posessionista, Smitten Kitchen, Jill Hanner, and Fit Bottomed Girls!

It was really great to listen to the speakers talk about different topics (health and wellness, beauty, food, blogging, etc.), and I loved that we got to sit outside and enjoy the day while listening. I must admit I was a little sad to hear both Dr. Ashton and Rocco talk about limiting carbs, but as a runner I know I need them. Plus, let’s be honest – bagels are delicious (so delicious, in fact, that I had three in the last 4 days). But other than that, I really appreciated the honest and genuine talks each person (or persons) participated in!

He's pretty dreamy.
He’s pretty dreamy.

After the awesome speakers, we were given the opportunity to grab some lunch, and check out the vendors. Of course I made a beeline to the Saucony booth, and was thrilled to find out we’d be getting our own pair of Kinvara 4’s! I’d been eyeing these sneakers for awhile, mostly because of their bright and awesome colors, but also because it seemed like everyone who tried them loved them. But I wasn’t in the market for a new pair of running sneakers, so I couldn’t justify buying them… so thanks to Saucony I didn’t have to!

There's magic in there!
There’s magic in there!

I enjoyed stopping by the Reebok booth as well, because I got a chance to look at their sneakers, enter a raffle, and take a sweet picture. I’ve been eyeing the Reebok sneakers for cross-training for what feels like years, but never bit the bullet and bought a pair. Most of the time I do my cross-training in my living room sans-shoes, so I just didn’t see the need for them. I was obviously thrilled when I found out we’d also be receiving a pair of their sneakers! We were encouraged to write something fun on a whiteboard and take a picture, so naturally I went with something about food (cupcakes specifically).


My final stop was another favorite – Smart Balance! My parents have been buying their butter for years, and I’ve tried their peanut butter and love it. So when I saw they had chocolate peanut butter balls, you better believe I snatched one right up (of course as soon as someone started talking to me… so classy). We were given a free jar of peanut butter if we balanced on a bosu ball at their booth. Everyone was doing fun poses, and I was trying to come up with something neat – and then I got on the ball. I could barely stand, let alone maneuver to strike a pose! So after catching my balance, I just stood there and smiled. Better than nothing, right?

Sweet outfit, bro.
Sweet outfit, bro.

While I didn’t take pictures of the other booths, they were equally entertaining. I really loved the Marmot table, since Paige, a professional climber, was there telling us about her year long, world-wide climbing adventure! While I’ve never climbed before, her trip sounded amazing and an once in a lifetime opportunity, all while raising money for a good cause. Really inspiring!

The day finished up with group exercise – either a run with Saucony, a cardio dance class with Athleta, or yoga with Reebok. While I was tempted to sign up for the yoga, I ultimately went for the run, and had a blast running with Dorothy of Mile-Posts and other runner-focused bloggers. I didn’t talk much on the run because I was too busy taking in running on the West Side Highway (city running is my absolute favorite), but I enjoyed it!

After the run I was nice and sweaty, so Brianna and I tried to cool off, and then headed back to Penn Station with our giant goodie bags. As you can imagine, walking through the city with all this stuff wasn’t easy, but it was worth it! After a nice and cool train ride home (I’m pretty sure I smelled, oops), I met up with my dad at his office who was able to drop me off at home, where I unloaded all of my goodies.

So. Much. Swag!
So. Much. Swag!

I’ve already dug into a lot of the swag, and am slowly making my way through the rest. I’ll likely have some reviews in the future for stuff that I really loved (i.e. I would absolutely buy it myself), since a lot of the stuff is from new-to-me companies… and awesome.

It was such a great day – nothing like heading into the city, hanging out with a bunch of people that have the same interests and passions as you, and connecting with brands and people you love! This event just made me wish I lived closer to (or in) the city… it’s where all the fun stuff happens! Thanks again to Fitness Magazine for the amazing opportunity!

Blogging Slump

I think “slumps” are a natural progression of life. I can’t tell you how many different kinds of slumps I’ve experienced over the last 26 years, but in that time, I’ve learned how to deal with them. They can be frustrating, time consuming, and disheartening (depending on the situation). Swimming was where I experienced most of my slumps – losing the groove of a stroke, trying a new distance, being burnt out, or in the early years, still getting used to my body and adapting to it in the water. Even though they can be a pain, the good news is that slumps aren’t forever. Enter: the blogging slump.

This blog is something that I really enjoy. It’s opened me up to a world that I really don’t think I would have experienced otherwise. I’ve met and connected with some really amazing people and companies, and have been able to fuel and embrace passions of mine in a like-minded community. Similar to slumps, interests change, and come and go over time. Recently I’ve found myself less and less interested in food blogging, and much more passionate about running and life in general. Now don’t get me wrong, I still think about food pretty much all the time and love spending time in the kitchen, I just have come to a stand-still when it comes to recipe creation. Most of my weekly meals come from cookbooks or other blogs, or are recipes I’ve already shared. So in that situation when you have a blog that’s dedicated mostly to food, content becomes tricky.

One of the key components of writing a blog is finding your niche, which is something I’ve been struggling with lately. I’m not really a “food blogger” like I had once set out to be, nor am I a running blogger (though I do blog about it quite a bit), and I’m certainly not a healthy living blogger (pass a cupcake, please). I have plenty of ideas to blog about, but I usually get a few sentences or paragraphs in and jump ship. Most of the time I think that’s because I care too much what other people think. To an extent I should because this is a blog that I want people to read and enjoy… but at the same time, it’s mine! A big reason why I’ve been so hesitant just to post what I want is because of my blog name; I mean, hello, it’s called FOODosaurus Rex… so there should be some food element. And really, that’s why my posting has been so sporadic. One week I’ll spend a lot of time in the kitchen and dream up some share-worthy recipes, run a race, and boom – content. Another week will be less than exciting, with running and maybe a note worthy (but not newly created) meal here and there. It leaves me unsure on what I should post – there’s nothing I loathe more than a junk post (i.e. a photo dump, posts round up, etc.).

So as I continue having a blog identity crisis, I’m looking for some input from you, the reader! In the meantime I’ll be carrying on with business as usual, posting running and food related things, when and if the mood strikes!

What would you like to see more of on the blog? Less of? 
Any tips to help get me through the slump?


This past Friday (February 8th) marked my 6th month as an official vegetarian!

Becoming a vegetarian is something that I had been interested in for a long time, but never committed to for one reason or another. So after months of generally eating meat-free, I decided to finally take the plunge in August, and I haven’t looked back. Sure, I’ve made a few mistakes here and there (dipping a chip into an unassuming dip at a party only to find out there’s shredded chicken in it), and I haven’t inquired in great detail while out at restaurants (is the meat-free pasta dish truly vegetarian?), but I’d say that overall the last 6 months have been a success.

I thought I would share with you what has helped me in the journey, in case some of you are toying with the idea of becoming vegetarian, but feel like they don’t have enough resources to be successful in your attempt. Or, if you’re just looking for more ways to incorporate a meat-free diet into your life (even if not all the time)! I’d be lying to you if I said it’s easy; sometimes I just want a hamburger, and I often get questioned and teased by friends and family, but at the end of the day, I know that I’m making the right decision for myself. And at the end of the day, that’s what is most important! So here are a few different things that have really helped me.

Vegetarian/Vegan blogs, with tons of delicious recipes (just to name a few):

Vegetarian/Vegan Cookbooks:

  • Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
  • Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
  • The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen
  • Vegan Fire & Spice by Robin Robertson
  • The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook by Kim O’Donnel
  • Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook by Carole Raymond

All of the above blogs and cookbooks have either vegetarian or vegan recipes (some a mix, some just one). I’ve made plenty of vegan meals despite being a vegetarian. But I’ve also made plenty of vegan recipes and easily turned them into vegetarian (usually just by adding cheese). Most of them are also easily adaptable to other dietary restrictions (gluten free, etc.).

Pantry Staples:

  • Grains: quinoa, cous cous, farro, brown rice, lentils
  • Meat substitutes: Tempeh, tofu, soy chorizo, TVP (textured vegetable soy protein)
  • Beans and protein: pretty much any and all bean types, eggs, Greek yogurt
  • Condiments/extras: almond butter, peanut butter, nutritional yeast, lots of spices
  • Vegetables! Fruits! Milk and cheese!

Quick Fixes:

  • LightLife refrigerated and frozen meals
  • Amy’s Kitchen frozen meals and soups
  • Frozen veggie burgers (what can I say, I’m a sucker for them. Though I do love homemade!)

Obviously the above isn’t an extensive list, but just the basic things that have really helped me over the last 6 months. There are tons of resources for vegetarians and vegans (tons of blogs, websites, magazines, etc.), and while nothing will completely replace the taste of meat, there are plenty of foods and recipes that will help you not miss it so much. And I know for a lot of people, the above information is not new. But I can’t tell you how many people don’t truly know what vegetarians eat (yes, we eat more than lettuce!).

Do you have any other suggestions for resources I should check out (food brands, recipes, blogs)?
Are you a vegetarian? Ever gave it a try, or thinking about it? 


It’s no secret that my blog pictures aren’t that great. Most of the time I snap them with my iPhone, and when they actually look somewhat decent, it’s because I’ve asked my husband to take it for me. Since I started blogging back in 2009, I always knew improving my photography skills (read: gaining any type of “skill” at all), was something I needed to do… but I never took the steps to actually do it.

Last week my husband bought himself a new camera, and so I inherited his Canon Rebel T1i (he got the snazzy Canon 6D)… meaning it was time to finally tackle photography. I’ve always enjoyed photography, and oftentimes help my husband set-up shots. However, I lack patience and have never really been able to take the time to play with settings, let alone edit the photos after the fact. But I woke up on Sunday morning with the drive to get my picture taking on.

Despite the fact that it was 30 degrees out with winds making it feel closer to 20, I set out to take a few photos in the beautiful sun. They’re my first attempts at real photography, but since I was somewhat pleased with the results I figured I would share them. These were all taken at Rutgers University’s College Avenue campus. You can click on each photo to enlarge it.

I’m looking forward to learning more about photography (my head is spinning with aperture, ISO, shutter speed…), and not only improving the blog’s content, but taking pictures I’m proud of!

Foodie Pen Pals

Thanks to a post by Megan, I learned about Foodie Pen Pals a few weeks ago. After e-mailing the wonderful host Lindsay, I was in on the fun and couldn’t wait to give and receive some goodies. The idea is pretty straight forward – you are then randomly matched up with fellow bloggers to exchange a foodie package with monthly. The spending limit is $15, and you can send them whatever you’d like – of course checking with them first for any preferences, restrictions, or allergies (see below for details on how to join in!).

It was so exciting to come home from work last week and see a package for me I could actually open right then. Up until that point, everything waiting for us on our door step was either something I ordered as a gift for someone, or a gift my husband ordered for me, that I couldn’t see! I received quite the package from Ashley over at Southern Purple Vegan.

I couldn’t wait to devour everything in my package, but I had to wait long enough to take a picture of it all first. My goodies included maple and hazelnut Justin’s Nut Butter, two packages of ground flax,  spicy popcorn, a Texas shaped  lollipop and cookie cutter, a larabar, a Pure bar, a little trail mix, some Emergen-C, and vanilla pepper. Ashley really hooked me up! I love Justin’s nut butters so that was an awesome surprise. The vanilla pepper is so interesting I can’t wait to use it in some dishes instead of black pepper. We also have a bottle of Dave’s hot sauce, so I can’t wait to try the hot sauce infused popcorn – my husband is going to be all over that. I also love the little travel packets of flax – I have huge bags of flaxseed, but that requires grinding to use it in most dishes (unless I’m throwing it in granola), so I’m excited to try that. I already devoured the larabar, and it didn’t disappoint. It blows my mind how few ingredients they use, but how flavorful those little bars are. So I guess you could say I’m extremely happy with my treats!

My package went to Karen over at The Tamale Girl. You’ll have to head over to her blog and check out the goodies I sent!

I would highly recommend joining in – it’s nice to come home to a package of handpicked goodies from a fellow blogger and food lover! See below for details.

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. *US Residents only please at this time- hopefully we can expand soon!*
If you’re interested in participating for January, please send an email to Lindsay at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:
-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)

I know the alphabet

I know, I’m just like everyone else doing the ABC’s. But I realized I don’t really share that much personal information on my blog, so I figured now would be a fun time to do that!

A. Age: 24

B. Bed size: I’m 99.9% sure it’s a queen

C. Chore you dislike: all of them…

D. Dogs: None of my own, but my parent’s dog, Kennedy, is my first official pet dog and the #1 man in my life (sorry Andy)!

E. Essential start to your day: Enough time to lay in bed and think about the day ahead, followed by coffee and some cuddling with Leela the cat

F. Favorite color: Green! And I’m currently on the hunt for the perfect shade of green for my bridesmaid dresses

G. Gold or silver: Usually silver, but I like to spice it up with gold here and there

H. Height: 5’6″

I. Instruments you play(ed): I played the flute in 4th and 5th grade, does that count?

J. Job title: Implementation & Support Specialist

K. Kids: Does the cat count?

L. Live: New Jersey (insert fist pump here)

M. Mom’s name: Susan

N. Nicknames: Dan, Dani, Heff

O. Overnight hospital stays: None

P. Pet peeves: We don’t have that kind of time!

Q. Quote from a movie: “NO Todd, NOT NOW”

R. Righty or lefty: Righty

S. Siblings: Kate (aka “Just Kate,” because that’s the name on her birth certificate, it isn’t short for anything but people refuse to believe it!)

T. Time you wake up: Alarm goes off at 6:45, I’m out of bed by 7:15

U. Underwear: Yes please.

V. Vegetables you dont’ like: I don’t think there is one!

W. What makes you run late: I don’t. I guess that’s one of my biggest pet peeves, it drives me insane when someone else is late, and even more so if it’s me!

X. X-rays you’ve had: Teeth (obviously), finger when I broke it

Y. Yummy food you make: I think most of what I make is yummy, but I’m usually most proud of my baked goods (I seem to struggle with them the most)

Z. Zoo animal favorites: Monkeys and Penguins

I hope everyone has a relaxing Saturday… I’m off on a hunt for the perfect shade of green dress for my bridesmaids (see letter F). Followed by a hopefully victorious shopping trip at Trader Joe’s. Fingers crossed, and here’s to hoping I don’t wind up like this…


Semi-Homemade Pizza

While many foodies are purists, when it comes to weeknight dinners, I have no problem admitting my shortcuts. There’s even a show on the Food Network with “Semi-Homemade” in the title. Sure, I don’t wear cute cardigans and prepare my semi-homemade goodies for parties (most of the time) but the general idea is there. I’d say at least one or two times a week I cheat the system and use something that someone else made for me in my meal.

The past few weeks have been slow on the blogging front just because I’ve been so busy. I haven’t had the opportunity to try many new dishes, therefore leaving me with little to talk about – or so I thought. Originally when I started this blog, I figured it would be to post new recipes I try, create, etc. I’ve realized though, that while there are always new and great recipes, there are some I’d like to have more than once! So, sometimes I have a lot of content, sometimes I don’t. I’m in the process of trying to really figure out how I want to handle my blogging. Do I want to do something more on a daily basis, like some of my favorite blogs, Peanut Butter Fingers, Eat Drink Run, and Healthy Tipping Point? Or, do I want to stick to new recipes, yummy restaurants, and things like that? I guess I’ll just have to try it out. Or, maybe I just need to find more time to cook!

Back to the pizza. I’ve found that most refrigerated crusts I’ve purchased are more than passable. It also helps that they come in two packs, so I’m able to get two meals out of it – whether it be two dinners, or maybe a dinner and a breakfast (hello breakfast pizza!). With a few random ingredients in the fridge, I threw together a pepperoni, onion, and pepper pizza with Italian seasonings. In the time it would have taken me to pull up a menu, place the order, drive to pick it up, and then eventually be home to eat it, my entire meal was done. The great thing about pizza is that you can throw almost anything on it. Last week we had a pizza with BBQ sauce, and Monday night was regular tomato sauce (with huge chunks of garlic). You really can customize it just how you crave.

Now that I’ve made a more traditional, and Southwestern styled pizza, I think it’s time to get more creative. I think my fiancé, our wallets, and most importantly our bellies, will welcome a more frequent rotation of homemade pizzas into our lives!

Semi-Homemade Pizza
– Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are!-

1 premade pizza crust (found in the refrigerated section)
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 green pepper
1 cup any kind of tomato sauce
2 cups shredded cheese
Pepperoni (amount to your liking)
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp vegetable oil for sautéing

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Heat pan with oil, and while warming up, slice onion and pepper to desired size. Once pan is warm, add onions and peppers, sauté about 5-10 minutes, adding seasoning half way through.
3. Pour sauce onto pizza crust, spreading evenly. Top with 1 1/2 cups of cheese, followed by pepperoni, and then onion and pepper mix. Layer last 1/2 cup of cheese on top.
4. Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes, until crust is golden brown (you can lay it directly on the rack)