Sunday, November 30, 2014

Food and Fitness Plan [11/30]

Good morning!  How has your holiday weekend been?  Ours has been fantastic in the best possible way.  First, we celebrated Thanksgiving with the family,


A photo posted by Jessie (@jessncode38) onNov 11, 2014 at 4:52pm PST

and ate some cake.

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And then ate some more cake.  

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If you have cake Ina will find you.

[I always have these grand plans to take lots of pictures when the family is around, but in the end take 2 pictures in 72 hours.  BUT, I took plenty of mental pictures. ;) ]

Then, Dan and I spent Black Friday prepping the food for Ina’s birthday party which was yesterday.

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More pictures to come tomorrow, but let me tell you that Ina had the time of her life.  When I asked her if she liked her birthday party, she said, “Yes.  Another one.”  

I am just wrapping up a 2 week vacation and am excited to get back in the swing of normalcy until Christmas.  Here is my plan for the week:



  • Sunday: 3 mile run
  • Monday: yoga 
  • Tuesday: 4 mile run
  • Wednesday: rest
  • Thursday: 1000 m swim
  • Friday: 3 mile run
  • Saturday: rest

What are you up to this week?  Linking my plan up with Mommy Run Fast.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Timeline of an Argentine Wedding


I’m home!  After a 36 hour whirlwind of travel with 1 hour of sleep, I wanted to kiss the floor of my house when I walked inside.  However, I saved most of my kisses for Dan and Ina.  It feels so good to be back in the arms of my little family again.  I sure missed them.

The reason I made the trip to Argentina was to attend my friends Noelia and Sebastian’s wedding, and let me tell you, this event was worth the trip.  

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This wedding was so different from the typical American wedding, so I am going to break it down for you timeline style.

- The night before: instead of a rehearsal dinner, Noelia and Sebastian invited the out of town guests to an asado, which would be similar to a backyard BBQ, but taken to the next level.  

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Look at all of that meat!  I couldn’t begin to correctly explain how the meat was cooked, but I do know it is different than how we grill meat, which was proved by the absolutely amazing taste.  I told Dan I am sending him down to Argentina for training.  

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-7:30: when the invitation told us to arrive.  Apparently this was pretty early for an Argentine wedding, and they typically start at 9 or 10 PM!  The wedding was at a sport’s club that was beautifully decorated.  

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The theme was the 1920’s and everything was decorated so cute.

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We walked around, took pictures, had some drinks, and chatted with the wedding guests.  I really enjoyed getting to know all of their friends and family over the past week.  

8:30: the ceremony started with Noelia and her dad driving up in an old car (so cool!) and then him walking her down the aisle.  

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The ceremony was short (less than 15 minutes) and completely in Spanish, but from what I could tell, seemed similar to what we do in the US - exchanging of rings, kissing the bride, etc.


8:50: tables of appetizers were brought outside and waiters also served us little bites to eat

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(selfie with a stray dog that was hanging around the food)

9:30: we slowly made our way inside and sat at our tables, which were labelled by location.  I would like to point out that I am almost always asleep by 9:30.  

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10:15: the family waltz, which starts with the bride and groom, and then the bridge/father and groom/mother, and then other close family members and friends.

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10:40: the first dance session when everyone dances

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11:10: dinner is served

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11:30 more dancing

12:45: dessert #1 served at the tables

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1:05: the bride and groom gave a speech / toasts

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1:20: more dancing

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2:15: second dessert, which may be one of the most beautiful things i have seen in my life.  Tables and tables and tables of treats.  Picking just one was a very hard decision. 

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3: cotillion - which from what I could understand meant dancing with costumes

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3:30 - I have to sit at the table, my American body doesn’t know how to dance for this long

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3:50: pizza is served to us at our tables

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4:15: I threw in the towel and got a taxi back to our hotel, but would like to point out that the celebration was still going strong when I left with babies and elderly still dancing.  

My goal was to make it to 3 am, so I was super proud of myself.  Ha!  

What a night / morning.  I am so glad that I was able to go on this little adventure.  Happy day before Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

20 Gifts That Guys Actually Want

I love men, I really do.  However, what I don’t love is how impossible they are to shop for.  The guys in my family are always the last people I check off my Christmas shopping list.  So, I conducted a few (painstaking) interviews and found some gifts that guys actually want now, or ones they received in the past that they actually used / liked.  

I know this is a little more pricey than the women’s list I made earlier, but this also reflects my personal Christmas budget.  For some reason, I usually spend a little more on guys.  I don’t mind doing this at all, because the men in my life are great to me.

Under $50


Over $50

Men Over $50


Please feel free to add more ideas in the comments!

Monday, November 24, 2014

My Toddler's Ten Favorite Books

Do you have a kid to buy for this Christmas?  If so, let me advise you to skip the toys and buy books instead. 

 In our house, books are the gift that keeps on giving over and over (and over and over) again.  However, I  know that there are many options out there and picking one could be a bit overwhelming.  Here is a list of books that my two year old daughter loves (and her parents don’t mind reading on repeat).

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  1. The Pout Pout Fish - I don’t know who loves this book more - me or Ina
  2. Giraffes Can’t Dance - this is a close second runner up - I like books that rhyme and this has a great lesson in it
  3. You are Special - I love this book and other by Max Lucado because they help us to teach Ina about God’s love for her
  4. The Sneetches (or any Dr. Suess book for that matter)
  5. Jazzmatazz (this book has a beat and Ina loves to jam to it)
  6. You are a Lion and other yoga poses - such a fun book to read and do with Ina
  7. Rawr! “Being a dinosaur is hard…”  
  8. Goodnight Moon
  9. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (I have had this one memorized since she was 3 months old)
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar (all Eric Carle books are awesome)

What to make the gift even more personal?  Put your favorite kid in their own story book.  

 What is your toddler’s favorite book?  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Argentina Edition

Hello from Buenos Aires!

Today I have so much to be thankful for.

Let's start with my family who are watching Ina while I galavant around the world and sending me the cutest videos and updates.  

My aunt and uncle also greatly helped my 10 hour overnight flight by helping me snag a bulkhead seat, making sure I had plenty of snacks and reading material, and a neck pillow (<-- crucial).  

I am thankful to all the kind souls who I have met since stepping foot in Argentina who see the desperate look on my face when they start speaking rapid fire Spanish and either say a few English words to me or find someone who can.

For example, our waiter at the cafe we ducked into when we were desperately hungry and had approximately 15 minutes to eat before our tour started. 

After a  confusing  5 minute conversation, he gave up and just brought us a pastry tray to pick from.

I am thankful that we took a graffiti or street art tour first thing.  

Not only did it force me to move instead of melting in a tired puddle in my hotel room,

I also learned so much about Argentina's history and culture, which will help me to see this place through a different lens.  

I am thankful that the time change works in my favor, so that I can better adapt to the culture here where an "early dinner" is 8:30 PM and staying out until the wee morning hours on a weekday is the norm.  

I am thankful that my dear friends Noelia and Sebastian are getting married so I can have this little adventure!  

I hope you have lots to be thankful for as well!  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

50 Gift Ideas for Women Under $20

Christmas shopping can be stressful and expensive, and who wants that?  I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be.  I have helped you out with a list of gift ideas for women that are all $20 or less, and most of which can be bought on the internet and shipped right to your front door well before Christmas morning.  

Gift Ideas for Women Under $20

I think this list is unique because it is composed of things that women have actually told me they wanted.  Or I want.  Or both (most likely).  

Please feel free to share (TIA) or add in the comments below a great gift for women that you have found for under 20 bones.

Also, FYI - none of these are affiliate links.  I made this list because I wanted to help a sister out. <3

Merry Christmas!

For the foodie: 



Gifts for foodies (Under $20)


  • Kitchen print: how fun is this?  And it just happens to match the color of my walls…
  • Immersion blender- Dan and I broke ours one night making milkshakes.  
  • Kitchen iPad stand- mine would also require a splatter shield 
  • Ball whisk- functional and fun
  • Nested Measuring Cups- we have a set of nested measuring cups that never leave our counter
  • Kale shirt - I have wanted one of these for months now.  
  • Herb garden spoons - you could even DIY the rest - buy some pots and some seeds and give an entire herb garden
  • Tea towels - so cute!
  • Spice kit - I feel like I would plan my meals around these spices
  • Coffee Mug (maybe add some good coffee to complete the gift?)
For the girl who has everything:


Girl who has everything gift ideas (under $20)


  • The Daily Notepad - this is the gift that keeps on giving the gift of organization all year long.  Bonus - if you buy more than one you get a discount.  
  • Jamberry nails - who doesn’t love a free manicure?
  • Tervis Tumbler - I have one of these and use it daily for my coffee in the morning, water at lunch, and my tea in the afternoon.  
  • Cell phone wallet - perfect for when you just need a few necessities
  • State necklace - these days everyone is very proud of the state they are from - help your favorite lady show it!
  • Warm pullover - who can’t use a pullover?
  • Yoga pants - a girl can never have too many yoga pants. Never. 
  • Photo Wall Decals - stalk her Instagram and upload her favorite pictures.  These decals are great because they stick anywhere and can be moved from place to place.
  • Chapstick: I admit, this is kind of boring, but I am always losing my chapstick and would truly appreciate the gift of a few months’ supply
  • Emergency charger: I can think of about 10 times where I would I have thought this saved my life

 For the athlete:

Gifts for female athletes (Under $20)


  • Goody stay-put hold hair ties: Although I really like the “no crease” hair ties above, I have a lot of hair that I need to stay put when I am working out.  These are my favorite to keep my heavy pony-tail in place.
  • Cellphone arm band
  • Running medal holder: currently, most of my medals are in Ina’s toy box
  • Active Tunic: I would wear this everyday
  • No-slip Headbands: I can’t speak from experience (because my head is huge) but they say no slip, so they wouldn’t lie, right?
  • Road ID: one of my friends gave this to me a few years ago and it is one of the most thoughtful presents I have ever received.  Safety is no accident people.
  • Workout video: Having a library of videos to use when I am in a workout pinch is always great - and I love JM
  • Running belt: I have seen these blow up on Pinterest, but have never used one myself.
  • Shoe charm: bring your favorite runner some good luck at her next race!
  • Bike cell phone mount- this would seem safer than keeping your phone in your sports bra
For the accessorizer:
Accessorizer Gift Ideas (Under $20)


  • Chevron Bangle - these are made my an awesome company with a great cause.  If your budget has more than $20 - check out these ribbon sandals.  
  • Fun leggings: this site has so many patterns to choose from and they are one size fits most, so you don’t have to worry about them not fitting
  • No crease hair ties: I almost always have one of these on my wrist and I can’t tell you how many times someone has complimented my “bracelet”
  • Signature necklace: you can’t get more person that that!
  • Travel jewelry case: the accessories must be taken with you
  • Boot socks: I didn’t even know these were a thing, but now I want one in every color
  • Stud earrings: Aren’t those dinos the cutest? 
  • Wide Angle lens: I think this is a more discrete version of the selfie stick.
  • Cross-body bag I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my Fossil cross body wallet.  This one is handmade (bonus) and a fraction of the price (double bonus)
  • Vintage Cocktail Ring: there are TONS of these on Etsy or you could browse through your favorite antique store - either way the gift would be unique and one of a kind
For the girl who doesn’t want “things”:

  • Untitled #6

    Hulu or Netflix subscription
  • Car detail - I would kiss your feet every time I saw you if you cleaned out my car.  Seriously.  
  • Magazine or newspaper subscription
  • Graze (healthy snacks) subscription
  • Transformed study: we are wrapping this study up at our church and I like it because it is a guided (short) reading every day
  • Groupon gift card: this will allow her to choose from a variety of goods or experiences (food, shows, etc.) at a discounted rate
  • A ticket to a matinee Christmas show in the area (buy yourself a ticket too!)
  • Treat her to a wine tasting at a local winery + her favorite bottle of wine from the tasting
  • A donation to her favorite charity
  • The Game of Things: OK, I understand this is a “thing” but it is super fun to play, so it counts as an experience too! 
 Any other suggestions?  What is your favorite gift you gave / received that was under $20?


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Goodbye Houston, Hello Argentina

As I sat down this morning to drink coffee with my aunt, I told her that this week has gone by way too fast.  

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And it has.   

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(Ina discovered she loves shopping.)

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I absolutely love doing nothing but hanging out with the family.  Of course, I have had to work during the day, but Ina barely notices when I shut the door to work. 

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We have both been completely spoiled.  Her with all-the-books,

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and me with all-the-food.

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In this short little week we have had Thai, Mexican (amazing fajitas), Italian, and chili cheese fries. 

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We also have played cards every night, so you know I am living the dream.  

I stayed in bed a little longer today and really tried to soak in the feeling of her leg draping over my neck.  Being gone from Dan for two weeks will be hard, but I have done that before.  I have never left Ina for longer than 4 days, so this should be interesting.  

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When did she get so big?

I hope to post while I am there, but if I don’t get a chance to, have a good rest of your week!  <3

Monday, November 17, 2014

My New Jam

I have been wanting to try Jamberry nails for some time now -  I even put them on my wish list a few months ago.  So, when reader Krista emailed me asking if she could send me some in exchange for a review, I couldn’t send “yes” back fast enough.

If you haven't heard of Jamberry before, they are basically fancy nail stickers that come in all sorts of designs that are made to last a few weeks.  I had a very tough time choosing just one design, and finally settled on midnight celebration because it seemed mostly classy with a little bit of flair.  

Krista shipped me a little kit to get my started and I had the box for almost a week before I opened it, knowing I would need to set aside at least an hour for my first application.  Finally, when Dan took Ina on a car ride, I jumped upstairs and set up shop:

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I used:

  • nail polish remover/cotton balls to remove any old stuff
  • a cuticle pusher
  • nails scissors to cut the excess wrap (necessary)
  • alcohol wipes to clean my nails
  • a hair dryer to heat the wraps (necessary)
  • my jam berry wraps (necessary)
  • a candle - because I was at the “spa”

I watched the application video twice all the way through and then got to work.  It was hard at first and the first few fingers took by far the longest, but once I got the hang of it the last few went really smoothly.  The whole process took about an hour, but next time I think would be less than 30 minutes. 

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About half way through I realized that I was making things way more complicated than they needed to be by putting the “sprinkle” on the top, when it was meant to go on the bottom.

Even video directions aren’t Racheal-proof,

I also put two on my big toes, and painted the rest of my toes black with plain black nail polish.  I am going to spare you a picture of my feet, but for feet they look pretty good.  

My thoughts two and a half weeks later:


  • All of the wraps remain on my fingers and toes - not even one is loose. 
  • Every time I looked at my hands I thought they were very pretty
  • My nails have grown over the last two weeks and they feel slightly stronger
  • I received LOTS of compliments on my nails
  • These wraps are about $15 a sheet, and each sheet provides 2 to 3 manicures, which seems much more economical than getting a manicure and they last just as long if not longer.

(very minor) Cons

  • Up close they do not look exactly like painted nails, you can tell they are a sticker.  This may vary based on wrap type, and not that many people are looking at my nails up close.  I stopped notching this about a day after they were on my finger.
  • About a week in, the top started to wear a little thing, but this could be due to my incorrect application.  

To wrap it up (see what I did there?) I love these and I plan to  put in an order  Krista for more soon- specifically something Christmas, like Poinsettia or Tinsel Town.  If you want to do the same, her website is here.

Thanks Krista for giving me the opportunity to try these!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Four Things

Good morning and Happy Friday!  

Yesterday was good, good eats- 

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good dancing, 


A video posted by Racheal (@runningwithrach) onNov 11, 2014 at 5:03am PST

and good shopping.  We went to the awesomeness that is The Nutcracker Market and I put a dent in my Christmas shopping.  

I saw Courtney fill out this survey, and since it is Friday and all, I thought I would join in.

Four things people call me other than my real name

  1. Momma
  2. Babe
  3. Rach / Rachie
  4. Smache (my nickname when I was younger)

(the only) Four jobs I have had:

  1. Frozen Custard maker
  2. Summer camp counselor
  3. Pharmacy tech/intern
  4. Pharmacokineticist

Four movies I have watched (more than once and can quote)

  1. Frozen
  2. Christmas Vacation
  3. A Leauge of Their Own
  4. The Sandlot

Four books I’d recommend

  1. The Pout Pout Fish
  2. Where the Red Fern Grows
  3. The Hunger Games series
  4. Harry Potter series

Four places I’ve lived

  1. Troy, Illinois
  2. Belton, MO
  3. Columbia, MO
  4. Carrboro, NC

Four places I’ve been

  1. Paris, France
  2. London, England
  3. Cameroon, Africa
  4. Hawaii

Four places I’d rather be right now - I am sitting here drinking coffee and chatting with my family, so with the exception of adding a few more people,  I can’t think of any place I’d rather be.  But, I can think of 4 places I want to go:

  1. Greece
  2. Thailand
  3. Italy
  4. Fuji

Four things I don’t eat

  1. Gluten
  2. Bugs
  3. I can’t think of anything else - I am probably the least picky eater you will ever meet, other than Dan who will also eat number 1 and 2 above.

Four of my favorite foods

  1. Ice cream
  2. Pad Thai
  3. Chicken Saag
  4. Pretzels (which I don’t eat anymore)

Four TV shows I watch

  1. Parenthood
  2. Revenge
  3. Newsroom
  4. Homeland

Four things I am looking forward to this year

  1. My trip to Argentina 
  2. Ina’s birthday party
  3. Putting up Christmas decorations with Ina
  4. Having my Christmas shopping complete

Four things I am always saying

  1. Stop that Ina!
  2. I love you sooooo much
  3. It is what it is
  4. Ina, what are you doing?
Have a great weekend!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thankful Thursday: The Airplane Edition

Good morning!  How is your Thursday treating you?  

The past few weeks I was thinking so much about what to pack for this trip that I hand’t really thought about the fact that I was taking an almost-two-year-old on a plane.  

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One on one.

So, it turns out I have a lot to be thankful for today.  

I am thankful that curb side checking exists, because hauling all of our stuff and Ina through the airport would have been interesting.

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I am thankful for the guy who worked security who folded my umbrella stroller for me because I couldn’t get it to fold.  (Sorry to the 100 people behind me in line.)

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“Momma!  The airplane goes ZOOM ZOOM!”  

I am thankful to the women in front of me at the Starbucks line who let us cut because Ina decided she wanted all the coffee beans.  

I am thankful that nobody sat next to me on the plane, so Ina actually had a seat.  Weird how no one wanted to sit next to us?  (She flies free as a lap child until she is two.)

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“AGGH!  We’re flying!!!” - Ina when we started taxing down the runway.  

I am thankful for stickers.  Because when the airplane landed but our gate was occupied and we had to stay on the plane not moving for another 20 minutes, I had already read all my books, used the iPad, and busted out the Cheetos.  

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The stickers were my last resort.  

And, of course, I am so thankful for my aunt, uncle, and cousins here in Houston.   We have already had a blast and been completely spoiled.  Exhibit A: this blurry picture of dinner (I was in a hurry to eat).

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Pesto meatballs with brussels sprouts and quinoa pasta.  I am going to recreate it as soon as I get home.  

Have a good day!

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