Thursday, February 28, 2013

P-cubed: Say My Name

Yesterday, lots of ladies around the blogosphere participated in a link up (with Amber @ Brunch with Amber) to share why they picked that particular name for their blog name. Well I was doing Weigh In Wednesday, so I missed it yesterday, but I decided to join in and link up just a day late :) So here's a simple story about why I picked my blog name, P-cubed/P-to-the-third, or better known as:
"Penguins, Pasta & Polka Dots."

Brunch with Amber: Say My Name Link Up

So, I first started my blog in August 2010. I had just graduated college that April, and I moved away from the college town and a lot of my friends who still lived there. Then for the first 10 days of August, I went on an epic road trip with 5 of my best girlfriends from Florida > North Carolina > Tennessee > New Jersey > New York City, and then we reversed the whole thing back down. And it was amazing!! (And I just realized I've never written about it on this blog, so that'll definitely be coming up soon!) 

While on that trip, we got on the topic of blogs, because my friends Megan and Kaley already had them, and I kind of wanted to start one. I was afraid though that I wouldn't know what to write about, or that I wouldn't have anything interesting to say, and so I was kind of slow to take the leap. However, they convinced me that I would be good at it, and that I should just start one, for no other reason than to stay updated with my friends in other cities. 

So the very night I got back home from our road trip, I started setting up this here blog! I'm definitely a words kind of girl (meaning I love words, and hate numbers), and I've always been a fan of alliterations. Thus, I knew that's the direction I would go. And then from there, it just kinda happened pretty easily! Penguins, Pasta & Polka dots are easily three of my very favoritest things, and they just all flowed together so nicely! 

The first post wasn't anything exciting, but I sure liked writing it. And it definitely set into motion a momentum to keep me writing. I purposefully made my first post title start with a 'P'  as well, in order to mimic the title of  my new blog. Then the second one kind of happened on accident the next day. And then my friend Dani suggested I should make ALL of my post titles start with a 'P'! And decided to accept her challenge, even though I wasn't sure I could do it for very long. So as we were driving around town doing errands that day, my Mama, Papa and myself made a list of every single P word we could possibly think of, and I took notes on my little iTouch. We came up with hundreds of words that day! 
Now I keep a list of all the P words in a bulleted-and-alphabetized Word document, and strike through each one as it get's used. (Can you tell I'm a little weird and OCD about things sometimes? Please someone tell me you do weird stuff like this too...) Right now, there are 455 words on my list!! It gets added to occasionally as I think of new words or realize ones that have been left out. And I try to not repeat words I've already used in titles - but there are definitely still repeats. For instance - the three words penguins, pasta and polka dots have been used multiple times, but I've given those a free pass for unlimited repeats, since it is the blog title and all. But I'd say out of my 289 published posts, only about 10-15 of those have other repeated words! 
I hope some of you have noticed that each and every title starts with a P, because sometimes it's really tricky to think of something that makes sense with that post, but I work hard to figure it out each time! I know a couple of you have mentioned you noticed it, but only after months of following me! Haha :) I've considered trying to stray away from it, but I just can't seem to do that yet. So I'm going to try to keep it up for as long as possible on this here blog! 
Well, that ended up being wayyyy longer than I was expecting! Hopefully that wasn't boring for y'all, and that you still want to stick around, even after a rambling post such as this one...I'll try to be more exciting tomorrow, although I can't really guarantee that if this stupid cold won't go away! I'm still sucking down an enourmous amount of hot tea and Emergen-C, and going to bed early. Super exciting right? Anyways, at least it's Thursday, which means that we're getting very close to the weekend :) So happy Thursday!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pounds Lost, Even When Sick...

Good morning blog world. Yesterday I actually took a sick day off of work, and today I'm still feeling pretty crappy. It's just a cold so I can't complain too much, but still -- it's just not fun. I'm drinking a cup of Emergen-C and a cup of hot tea right now, and waiting on my meds to kick in. My nose is stuffy and my throat hurts, and my head feels kinda heavy. Ugh. So gross. Hopefully I'll start feeling better soon, or this is going to be a loooong day at the office...

But despite the fact that I'm feeling so gross, I'm still coming here today for the usual Weigh In Wednesday link up with Erin & Alex. So let's get right to it - here's what my scale looked like this morning:

Initial starting weight = 227
January starting weight = 217
Last week, February 20 = 201
Today, February 27 = 199.5

That means I had a 1.5 pound loss since last Wednesday! Hooray! And I'm in ONE-derland now!!! But, I need to be honest here, because there's more to it than just that. On Friday morning, I actually weighed in at 198.5, which I was stoked about. And then Sunday morning I was at 197.5, which I was even more stoked about! At 197 pounds, that means I had hit a loss of 30 total pounds since my initial starting weight of 227! And I was sooo dang excited.

Well by Sunday afternoon, I was already feeling crappy, and my one mile felt sooo hard. Then Monday and Tuesday the sickness was here in full force, and I didn't work out even the tiniest bit. And I ate some pizza last night even after I had a salad. Oh, and three fun-sized Snickers... So that's how I got up to 199 again. BUT. I'm not too upset about it. Because that still means I'm two pounds less than I was last week, and once I feel better again, I can push myself back down to 197, hopefully pretty quickly. 

Here's my exercise schedule from the past week, along with calories burned:

Wednesday: 2.69 mile lunch-time walk (379 cals) and 1 mile run after work (150 cals) = 529 total cals
Thursday: 1.01 mile run (134 cals) and 60 minutes of Zumba (600 cals) = 734 total cals
Friday: Road trip day, so I didn't do anything
Saturday: Birthday party and road trip day, so I didn't do anything
Sunday: 1 mile run (139 cals)
Monday: Sick, so I didn't do anything
Tuesday: Sick, so I didn't do anything

I'm hoping by today after work, I'll be feeling much better, and I can actually get out and do something! Even if it's just a quick mile at the high school track. It's kind of weird for me, but I actually did miss being able to run and go to zumba the last couple of days. Normally, I would welcome a skip day or something, but now I'm actually starting to like exercising and working out, so it seems I miss it when I can't do it! Who am I?!

And as for a non-scale victory this week (to link up with KTJ Weighing In), I submit to you the photo evidence below... I hadn't worn this dress since December, and when I put it on the other day, I could feel and see a difference in the way it fit. How awesome did that make me feel?! It may not be huge differences to you, or maybe you can hardly see them, but I certainly can see the difference, and that alone is enough motivation to keep pushing me! (Oh, and on the right I was actually 198 pounds, but I was silly in my PicMonkey editing apparently...) And those little arrows are pointing out the places where I can see physical differences and where I look smaller. (Face, upper arms, boobs, waist and tummy.)

Oops, the picture on the right should actually be 198 pounds... 
And on another health-related note - this Monday was when I started the Gettin' Healthy challenge with Cammie at Mr. & Mrs. Smith. We give ourselves certain amounts of points each day for doing healthy things like drinking 64 oz. of water, exercising, eating veggies and avoiding junk food. Yesterday I kinda sucked it up and didn't do so well, point-wise, but I'm planning on getting back on track with that today! The top three finishers at the end of our 8-week challenge get prize money!! That's a motivator for sure!

So, even though I've been feeling pretty bad the last couple of days, I was still able to report a total loss for the last week, even if it's not as much as it should have been, based on my Sunday morning weigh in. Oh well. I know I can make up for it and get to feeling better, and get to weighing less! Here's to another week of healthy eating and exercising, and pushing myself even further! 

My goal for next week is to be back down to 197 pounds, so I can truly report 30 total pounds lost. And then my short term goal for the next few months is to be at 185 for my sister Megan's wedding, which is mid-May. That means 14 more pounds to go in the next 2-ish months. I know I can do this!!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pinterest Re-Pin it Party & Link Up!

Your Host:


We all know what a wonderful and helpful tool Pinterest can be to bring traffic to our blogs! So today Agape Love Designs, myself and several other awesome ladies have come together to host a Spread the LOVE Pinterest re-pin it party! If you have a fabulous blog post or item from your shop pinned to Pinterest that you would like re-pinned for more traffic and exposure, then you definitely want to get in on this link up! Each host will be re-pinning from those who link up, to help spread the love. :-)

Hey in case you're wondering, MY pin is number four down there in the link up, and it's some super yummy pizza! Seriously, this pizza is the jam, and it's not your usual run-of-the-mill cheese or pepperoni. There's some surprises! So check out my pizza recipe, as well as the amazing pins from the other co-hosts as well!

Before you link up, please abide the following rules:


1. Re-Pin Each of the Hosts' pins.
(They will be the first 4 link-ups)

2. Link up the PINTEREST url of what you would like to have re-pinned! (limit 2)
(URL of Pin Example:

3. Re-pin the 4 link-ups before you!
(You are more than welcome to re-pin more if you would like to spread more love!
Leave a comment on the pin, that you're re-pinning from the party, & I'm sure they'll return the love!)

Pomegranate Tea - First Things First

Hello Lovers! I am sooo super excited for this link up today, because even though I'll miss my dear Hallie, today is the first day of all my new co-hosts! While Hallie is busy preparing for all sorts of wedding stuff, I have some awesome blogger friends that are helping me co-host this fun link up every week for the next couple of months. And today is the first week of that! Hooray! 

Today, the two lovely ladies co-hosting with me are Gayle @ Grace for Gayle and Ricci @ Ricci Explains It All

And today's topics, which are all food-related, are:

First beverage of choice
First breakfast of choice
First dessert of choice

First beverage of choice: Almost always always water, especially right now when I'm really trying to be super healthy. And I'm also staying away from sugar right now which eliminates most everything else. So definitely water all the time. But I have also gotten re-obsessed with hot tea, so there's been a lot of that happening lately too! Like, at least twice a day every day at work... My favorite flavor right now is Pomegranate. But if I'm going for a splurge, I'd love a Polar Pop from the Circle K - half Cherry Coke and half Coke Zero, and a whopping 75 cents. So yummy. Jeff is the best at getting the mixture of the two just perfect :)

First breakfast of choice: Hmmm, this one depends... On weekday's I almost always have either a banana or some strawberries. However, if it's a Saturday morning at home, usually I want my dad to make me an egg sandwich or fried eggs on a bagel. But I also love me some pancakes, especially with chocolate chips in them :)  And if I'm going all out, some peanut butter smeared on top. However, I'm currently trying to steer clear of all of those delicious and fattening things, so I try to stick with fruit even on the weekends.

First dessert of choice: Probably cheesecake. I don't think I'd ever turn down a great cheesecake. Or any cheesecake for that matter. In all reality, I'd just never turn down a cheesecake... But other than that, I love all things that combine the gloriousness of chocolate and peanut butter. Like Reese's or something. Ooooh, how about some Reese's cheesecake? Sounds amazing.

Smothered in strawberry sauce and Hershey's is the way I prefer it, especially for my birthday, which this was :)

If you'd like to join in on this fun link up, check out the super simple 'rules' below, and get to writing! Can't wait to see all the new link ups this week, meet new friends, and read y'all's posts!

1. Write your own post about this week's topics
2. Please follow me, as well as this week's co-hosts, Ricci & Gayle.
3. Put the new button on your post or somewhere on your blog
4. Link up with us! (Link will appear on all three blogs.)
5. Visit some of the other links, and share the love with them on their posts!
6. Spread the word on Twitter and/or Facebook

And if you'd like to prepare and get ready for next week's First Things First link up, start by checking out next week's awesome co-hosts, Jessica @ City Sequins & Robin @ The Sunshine Diary. And the topics for next week are:
1. First speeding ticket or traffic accident
2. First BIG accomplishment you're proud of
3. First thing you usually reach for in the fridge

Monday, February 25, 2013

Princess & Pirate Party and Precipitation

Hello Monday. And hello blog friends. I'm not feeling as chipper and cheerful this morning as I usually am, but that's OK. Someday's you just feel kind of BLAH, ya know? I'm super tired still, and my throat hurts, and I feel  like I might be at the onset of a cold, and just overall kind of icky today... So first thing this morning, I'm drinking a big mug of hot tea, and even though I'm trying to avoid sugar, I put some honey in today to soothe my throat. Hopefully that'll perk me up a bit and make me feel a little better.

Anyways, enough whining - because I did have a pretty great weekend! And surprisingly, I feel like writing/talking quite a bit, so this has the potential to be a pretty wordy post... ;)

Friday right after work, Jeff and I hit the road on our way up to middle-Georgia to visit his brother & sister-in-law, for his niece's birthday party! It rained poured the entire drive up there, which made me drive so much slower than the actual speed limit. We stopped for a good dinner at Ruby Tuesday in Thomasville, and I was able to eat healthy, but still have a steak, thanks to their awesome 'Fit & Trim' menu items. We hit the road again after dinner, and it ended up taking us much longer than normal to get there because of the rain, but we finally made it there around 10 pm! Libby was still awake though, because she was excited to see us, so we got to have some hugs before she finally went to bed :)

Petite sirloin, with grilled asparagus & roasted spaghetti squash. Oh and I had a tiny biscuit. Still only 531 calories! 

Saturday morning, we all woke up a bit earlier than Jeff would have liked, but that's what happens with a 5-year-old and an 11-month-old in the house! But they're cute, so he was OK with it when sweet little Libby went to wake him up :) We had pancakes for breakfast, then watched some cartoons, and then we got showered and dressed. Libby wanted her Uncle Jeff and (soon-to-be!!) Aunt Halie to take her to another birthday party that morning, so we loaded up and headed off to Monkey Joe's. She had fun running around like a crazy lady, and we had fun watching her, while chatting with some of the other grown-ups. 

After we got back to their house, Libby got dressed for her Princess & Pirate birthday party, while we helped with the last bit of set-up. Libby's favorite movie right now is "Brave," so she had an awesome Merida costume she wore! Complete with a crazy-curly red wig, and of course a bow and arrow, and she looked so great! And even the littlest babies were dressed up! Her little sister was Cinderella and her little cousin was Rapunzel. So stinking precious. The party was crazy, but fun and there were lots of tiny Princesses & Pirates! After the party, we had to head back down to Tally, so we set off, only to drive all the way home in the rain again. Soo annoying.

Libby's/Merida's baby cousin in purple = Rapunzel. And Libby's/Merida's baby sister = Cinderella. 

Sunday morning was our usual routine of church and 3rd grade Sunday school, and then we went to my Grandparent's house for lunch with my family to hear about my cousin's weekend. (Short story -- my cousin Aaron had been on an amazing weekend trip to Virginia, as part of the process to figure out the plan for the next part of his life. For the past couple of years, he felt he was being called to oversea's missions, but this past weekend he felt God whispering another path for him. He listened to the door close on oversea's missions, and heard the window open to seminary and preaching. He is now looking into seminary options, and we're so excited for him!!) 

After lunch, I met Jeff at his house. My friend Lacey is out of town this whole week for work, and so Jeff and I are taking care of her 5-year-old daughter Danielle for the week! So yesterday afternoon we headed to Tom Brown Park for her to practice riding her bike. And I ran a mile :) And then she played some on the playground, and then there was a giant hail storm all over the city! Luckily we were already in the car though! We went back to the house to watch "Tangled" and I made her some mac-n-cheese for dinner. And it still rained all night long. After bath time, it was bed time for her, and then we hung out some more just watching some movies! (And I cheated on my diet and ate pizza for dinner :( But it was delicious, so I'll make up for it today...)

So -- a TON of Precipitation the entire weekend, and it's pouring again all day today. Like, for real, pouring. We had fun with his family, ate some good food, and we're off to a good start for a week of babysitting. Hopefully tonight continues to go smoothly with her, and we have no big issues! 

Tomorrow is of course my usual Tuesday post for my First Things First link up! And I'm excited because tomorrow starts the first round of awesome co-hosts for this, with Ricci & Gayle. If you want to get ahead of the game, tomorrow's topics are: First choice of dessert, First choice of beverage and First choice of breakfast. Looking forward to all the link ups from you lovelies tomorrow! 

Hope y'all are feeling better than I am so far today, and that you had good weekends too :) Hopefully I'll start feeling better soon! And now that I've finished my entire cup of tea while writing this, I think it might be time for a second round. So, what did y'all do this weekend? Something fun and exciting? Have you been stuck in the rain all weekend too? I'm definitely over it...

Linking up today with: Covered in Grace, Sami's Shenanigans and Synfully Delicious.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Puffy Eyes & Tea Time Letters

Dear Friday: I'm like, really super ultra glad you're here. It's been a long week. And I know we say this over and over again, just about every Friday, but that doesn't make it any less true...I'm so glad to see you.

Dear Fiance: This is my first letter to you!! Well, at least the first one as 'fiance!' :) I'm looking forward to our little road trip today for your niece's birthday party this weekend, and our time together in the car! We always have fun when we drive together, so I'm sure this will be no different. What will be different though, is that I'm the one driving this time, since you still can't because of your silly foot! Hopefully that goes well for us ;)

Dear Awesome lunch I packed for myself: I can't wait to eat you up.

Dear Tea Time: You have been officially re-instated every day at work with both my morning and my afternoon snacks. I have so many yummy flavors to try out, and you warm me up so much in my freezing cold office. 

Dear Super Puffy Eyes: I'm gonna need you to skedaddle, asap. OK, thanks.

Dear Running: Things are still going well for us these days! I'm slowly getting better and faster and improving my overall pace. And I'm improving how much of the mile I'm actually able to run. (Even if those times are slower...) 

Dear Scale: I know it's not supposed to be a weigh-in day here on my blog, but me and you are soooo friends today!!!

It's a crappy picture and my polish is chipping, but I don't care!! I'm back in ONE-derland!!

Dear Wedding Planning: You're fun! But you're also a tiny bit stressful. Oh gracious. But still, you're mostly fun :) We've made like two decisions so far, and now we have about a jillion more to go... haha :)

Dear Work Day: You need to fly on by, because I do NOT feel like being here today. Ugh. 

Dear New Followers: You guys are still showing up more and more each day! It simply amazes me sometimes when I first look at my followers count in the mornings, and see how many new people are here! It's so crazy. But I'm soo glad you're here! If you're new, take some time to look around, and then make sure you comment somewhere or introduce yourself, so I can say HI and get to know you a little bit!

Happy Friday everyone!! I hope everyone has a quick work day, and that you have great weekends! Peace out :)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Paris, Pens, Playlist, Planner & Pink

I am 'stealing' this idea from my friend Bri over at Breezy Days. She just did this yesterday, and I thought it was so cute, I had to write it down so I could do it someday myself. But I just couldn't wait and started working on it right away, so that I could just post it today! Plus, I've gotten a ton of new followers from a giveaway I'm participating in, so I figure you newbies might like to learn a little more about me. And besides, we all know how much I love lists, right?! 

Well I decided to add a little spin on things, and also add in a few more categories, so here we go!

Sets of FIVES

Five things you'll find in my purse...
1. There's almost always a bottle or two of nail polish in there
2. Six, colored Sharpie pens, that no one else can write with...
3. Burt's Bees chap stick. Always. 
4. Hand lotion, because I hate it when my hands feel dry
5. Little pouch full of gift cards waiting to be spent until I lose more weight (don't want to buy clothes now, then quickly shrink out of them in the next couple months!)

Five things you'll find in my bedroom...
1. Tons of stuff that doesn't have a 'home' so it just sits around somewhere
2. Stuffed animals, even though I'm 25 years old
3. Almost always or pile or basket of clean clothes I don't feel like dealing with
4. A bookshelf stuffed to the brim, and still piles of books on the floor...
5. Candles on just about every flat surface (bookshelf, vanity, dresser, night stand, knick-knack shelf...)

Five things I've always wanted to do...
1. Get a tattoo!
2. Go to Paris
3. Learn the guitar, although recently I've changed that to ukulele ;)
4. Get married
5. Meet and pet a penguin!!

Five random things I'm currently loving...
1. My beautiful engagement ring :) P.S. - Y'all getting tired of me mentioning that? Hope not, 'cause I prob won't stop...
2. My running playlist I made for myself
3. Veggie burgers - just sans bun for a little while since I'm trying to be super low-carb
4. Blogging. But duh, I always love that. It's just been sooo much fun lately! Thanks to you wonderful peeps :)
5. A lot more pink than usual...Turquoise is supposed to be my favorite, but I've been rockin' a lot of pink lately

Five weird quirks I have...
1. I always have multiple water glasses in my room, because I can't drink it again once it gets dusty overnight
2. I'm OCD about really random things (bed sheets, labels, my planner, placement of things)
3. I get creeped out easily and get the heebie-jeebies from the most random stuff. Like, a LOT.
4. I can kind of imitate Mickey Mouse, especially when I say, "Oh boy!" and sometimes when I laugh
5. My toenails must always, always be painted. Otherwise, ew.... I hate it.

Five random songs from my running playlist...
1. 22 by Taylor Swift
2. What Goes Around Comes Around by Justin Timberlake
3. Thrift Shop by Macklemore
4. Keep Holding On by the Glee cast
5. Babel by Mumford & Sons

That was fun, and easy! Just my favorite kind of blog post :) You guys should play along too if you want, because I always like learning more about my blog friends! So what are some random things about you??

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Protein and Fiber

Today is Hump Day. Which means we've made it halfway through another work-week! It also means today is another Weigh-In Wednesday, and I'm linking up with Erin & Alex as usual. So, let's just get right to it...

Looks familiar doesn't it? That's because it's identical to last week...
Total starting weight = 227
January starting weight = 217
Last week, February 13 = 201
Today, February 20 = 201

And I'm kind of stuck again. But this time, I know it's my own fault. Friday morning I was at 200.5, which was a small loss, but just that much closer to One-derland. Then Saturday morning I went on a big hike with my parents, and afterwards I was at 199! Hooray! But then I was stupid and chose to eat poorly pretty much all day Sunday and Monday. And guess what - now I'm paying for it by getting myself back up to 201. Ugh. At least I know that I can in fact make it back to One-derland! Just no more stupid food decisions for 5 meals in 2 days. Dumb idea Halie, dumb idea.

But, despite the increase in calories and 'unhealthy' foods, I still had a great week, exercise-wise. Here's what my routine looked like since last weeks weigh-in:

Wednesday: 2.05 mile run (305 cals) & Fab Ab February
Thursday: took the day off for Valentine's Day, and ya know, got engaged!
Friday: 1.07 mile run (152 cals)
Saturday: 3.65 mile hike at Maclay Gardens (556 cals)
Sunday: was super lazy alll day, but I needed it
Monday: 1.5 mile walk at lunch time (185 cals) and a 2.09 mile run after work (306 cals) = 491 total
Tuesday: 1.06 mile run (143 cals) and 60 minutes of Zumba (600 cals) = 743 total

For some reason, I felt the need for a post-run photo-shoot on Monday afternoon. And it was crazy windy ;)
As far as food goes all the other days, I did great. Stayed under my calorie count each day - even on Friday when I had a bit of pizza. Starting yesterday, I'm trying to get back to eating super clean again. To start off, I'm trying to be super low-carb for the next two weeks, i.e. - no pasta, bread, rice, potatoes and very low sugar.  And I'm trying to stay away from super processed stuff. And I'll be trying to get in as much protein and fiber as possible. That alone should put me down into One-derland, and soon! It better at least! 

And last night I made a delicious 4-Bean Chili recipe I found on one of my favorite blogs, Keep Calm & Carry On. (Only thing I did different was add only 1 cup of veggie broth, instead of 3.) She's one of my favorite bloggers for a number of reasons, but one of those is she's super healthy, and always shares her tips, ideas, workouts, and clean-eating recipes. And this one didn't disappoint! 

I made it last night for dinner for myself, Jeff and my future mother-in-law, and we all loved it! Well, Jeff said there were too many tomatoes, but he doesn't like tomatoes as it is, so of course he thought that. But I liked it! I brought some of the leftovers for lunch today, and I'm already excited about eating it. Oh, and we did all the math and stuff, and figured out the calorie count. So for a 2-cup serving (the big bowl pictured below is exactly 2 cups), it was only 341 calories! Awesome. And so filling because of all the beans. I would definitely recommend you trying this one out! Oh, and I've never put carrots in my chili before, but I actually really liked them in there. Gave it a great texture, and a tiny bit of crunch, and they're sooo low in calories, they practically don't even count.

Oh and starting this coming Monday, I'm participating in a little challenge with some other bloggers, hosted by Cammie and her husband at Mr. & Mrs. Smith. It's basically a points system, where you award yourself certain amounts of points based on healthy things you do. And then at the end of the 8-week challenge, one person is winning some moolah! She's much better at explaining, so check everything out HERE. You can still pay the $10 to enter and do this along with us, so get over there and check it out!

Sooo -- I'm still sitting at 201 pounds today, but I'm not letting myself plateau again for another week. I am going to keep on pushing, and eat super clean, and I am hoping to see 190-something again in the next couple of days!! Today I'll go back to the high school track and do two miles after work. Then tomorrow is a 1 mile run and Zumba again. I will get past this silly TWO in the front of my weight. I want to see a ONE instead!! Let's do this Halez, let's do this. 

PayPal Cash Anyone?!

If you just so happened to stop in today, you are in luck! Today, myself and 19 other lovely sponsors of Allie at Tales of a Twenty Something have a giveaway planned. I'm sure you are wondering what is up for grabs....

First, let me introduce you to the wonderful ladies involved and then we will get to the part you've been waiting for!

1  // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7// 8 // 9 // 10// 11

12// 13 // 14 // 15 // 16// 17 // 18 // 19 // 20 

Now on to the rules:

- Enter below via Rafflecopter
- All entries WILL BE verified, so please be truthful
-Everyone can enter as money will be sent via PayPal
- Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST on 2/26
-Winner will be emailed once entries are verified and has 24 hours to respond

Good Luck!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Personal Trainer, Email & Dates - First Things First

Hello and happy Tuesday everyone! Today is the seventh week of our First Things First link up, and obviously I'm excited about it! We are loving this link up, and every week we're getting a few more people to join in with us! I'm definitely already anticipating some new link-uppers for this week as well!

However, some slightly sad news to announce, is that Hallie won't be co-hosting this with me for a while, because her wedding is coming up so soon! So she needs a little break to keep her sanity :) So today, I'm hosting all on my own, and looking for up to 4 co-hosts for the next 4 weeks! If I get more, we'll do multiple co-hosts in a week. If you're interested in co-hosting this fun link up, let me know in the comments below. You must submit at least TWO new ideas for 'first' topics, and please make sure you're not a no-reply commenter, so I can get back with you!!

This week's topics are:

First thing I do at the gym
First Date with Current Significant Other
First email address

And check out this cute new button!

First thing I do at the gym: 
Um, well since I haven't really been to the gym since I was about 16 years old, I have zero idea what the first thing would be. Probably find a machine that's the furthest away from everyone else as possible, so that I can embarrass myself in front of fewer people... Maybe the elliptical or something like that? Maybe I'd be lucky enough to get myself a personal trainer?!

However, I have actually been really considering getting a gym membership lately - which would be the first one in my life! And now that I've got a sparkly ring on my finger and will be wearing a gorgeous white dress in the not-so-distant future, I figure that's even more incentive than ever! So maybe I'll do some research this week, and find the right one to join this weekend?! Any tips and/or advice?! Or Tally friends - favorite here?!

First date with my current significant other: (aka my FIANCE!)
Most of you should know by now, we actually met on an online dating site back in May 2011. So we talked and chatted and phone called and emailed and texted and instant messaged for two weeks before ever meeting each other IRL (In Real Life). Well then our first IRL meeting was a random Thursday night when we both happened to be at the movie theater at the same time, with different people. His movie was starting five minutes after mine ended, so we said a quick 'hello' and gave each other a slightly awkward hug, and then went on our way...

BUT, our first real date was that next Tuesday after a long Memorial Day weekend for a lunch date! He had texted me that morning and surprised me by asking if I actually wanted to meet him for lunch that day. I of course said yes, even though I was so so very nervous about it! (I was just glad I had on a really cute dress and was looking good that day!) So we had a very romantic first date at Zaxby's on our lunch break during the middle of our work day :) Don't worry though, he did at least pay for our fancy meal! My heart was definitely pounding, but I quickly found that it was really easy to talk to this cute, freckly boy across the table from me. Since we had already learned so much about each other in those first two weeks of chatting, it made the transition to real life so much easier. At the end of our short lunch break, I wished I could have stayed and talked with him so much more! But unfortunately, we had to go back to our offices for the rest of the day.

It was such an easy, and casual 'first date,' that it ended up setting the tone for those first few weeks of us dating. It made things really simple and easy, and we could just do 'normal' things and not put too much pressure on ourselves! Seems like it worked out pretty well for us now :)

Not from our first date, but it is one of our first pictures - July 2011, at the twins' 5th birthday party.

First email address:
Well, I think this was when I was in 6th grade or so, so that was probably around 2000. (That hardly even sounds like a real year to me for some reason right now?!) It was back in the days of super slow dial-up internet, and the days of AOL. (Who loves the movie "You've Got Mail?" I do!)

Anyways, I somehow managed to escape the trend of crazy/wacky screen names all the other 12-year-old girls were obsessed with like "2Cute4U" and "MrsTimberlake88" and some other mess like that...  Mine wasn't too ridiculous though, but just enough to make me still sound like a silly pre-teen girl. For some reason, 'my number' back then was 17, so I had to include that in my email address, which was: . See? Not so bad, right? But eventually it did start sounding to silly to me, so when I was a senior in high school, I got a new, more 'grown-up' one to show how mature I was: . See? Mature meant my high school graduation year baked into my email address :) It wasn't until my senior year of college that I moved on from that one, and finally created a 'real' grown-up one, using just my name and some logically placed punctuation :)

If you'd like to join in on this fun link up, check out the super simple 'rules' below, and get to writing!

1. Write your own post about this week's topics
2. Please be following me!
3. Put the new button on your post or somewhere on your blog
4. Link up with me!
5. Visit some of the other links, and share the love with them on their posts!
6. Spread the word on Twitter and/or your Facebook 

Remember to let me know in the comments below if you're interested in co-hosting, and leave at least two new 'first' topics  (Make sure we haven't already covered them yet!) And if you'd like to prepare for next week's link up, those topics will be:
1. First breakfast of choice
2. First dessert of choice
3. First beverage of choice

Looking forward to you writing your own post to join with us throughout this week, and reading all of your fun answers!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Putting Myself on Bloglovin'

Hey there ladies, again! I'm finally jumping on the Bloglovin' band wagon. If you want to follow me on there, I'm finally 'claiming' my blog, so head over and join me!
Follow on Bloglovin

Palmolive Fresh Infusions

Soooo, this post has been neglected for far too long, and it's finally time I get myself in gear to write this review! Remember a couple months ago when I received my first VoxBox from Influenster? Well, I was sent my second box not too long after that, and received some dish washing soaps to try out and review! I was sent a box of three bottles of Palmolive Fresh Infusions dish soap!

At first, I was like, 'Oh yay - my second VoxBox and all I got was soap!' But then I smelled them, and it definitely made me happier - because these babies smell so lovely! The three scents we got were: Ginger White Tea, Lime Basil and Lemon Thyme. They truly are fresh-smelling scents for dish washing. 

I immediately put the Ginger White Tea on one my sink at home, and we started using it right away. Myself, my Mama and my sister all like the way it smells, and decided it was our favorite one. I like that it is a light, floral smell, but still so nice and fresh! If the scent of your dish soap is very important to you, then I would definitely recommend this brand, and this particular scent! The Lemon Thyme scent came in second for us (and it smells just so clean!), with the Lime Basil in third place, scent-wise. However, we really did like them all, so I guess really they all win!

And as far as the actual cleaning properties of the soap - all seems great to me. I don't really have any type of scale or ratings to give for soap, other than it indeed does the job it's intended for, and got our dishes nice and clean! The other aspect of this stuff is that it is aesthetically pleasing. It's got pretty designs on it, the bottle is a nice shape (easy to hold as well), and it doesn't look bad sitting on your counter-top.  Some bottles aren't so nice looking, and end up hidden away out of sight. This one on the other hand looks nice enough to be left out all the time!

Oh, and Palmolive didn't just send me three giant bottles of the stuff - they also sent me a handful of coupons for when I run out and need to re-purchase! (Can be found at Walmart, BTW.) I'm quite sure I'll be using those. Maybe I'll buy a ton of it as part of a house-warming gift for my sister and future BIL, who will be moving into their new house in March! Sounds like a good plan to me :)

I'd say this was another great box from Influenster, and I'm so glad I get to be a part of this fun community! And you can check out the Influenster review page as well for more info.Can't wait to see what my next box might hold, and what fun new products I'll get to try out in the future! Oh, and if you want to get in on this action, I've got five invites to join the site available to be sent out. So let me know in the comments if you'd like me to send you an invite! (And if so, please make sure you're not a no-reply blogger!)

*I received this product complimentary for testing purposes from Influenster. However, my review is based on my honest opinion.*

Pictionary, Pitch Perfect & Pizza Recap

Hello Monday morning! Hello blog friends! It's freezing here in Florida today - which always makes for an interesting day for us 'natives.' I mean it was 27 degrees when I woke up today - that is just not normal here! It's 'warmed up' a bit since then, but the high is still only in the 60's for today. (I know I probably should not be complaining because my blog friends up there in Minnesota would trade places with me and this weather in a heartbeat, but Floridians aren't made for 27 degrees.)

So first of all, there are a ton more of new lovely followers today, than when I last left you on Friday afternoon! So welcome to those of you who are new around these parts! I'm guessing my very recent engagement story might have reeled a few of you in? Or maybe Maria from Agape Love sent you over here since she started pimping me out as one of her new sponsors? However you found me doesn't matter - I'm just so glad you're here! If you haven't yet, let me know you're new by saying hello, because I really would like to send an email your way and get to know you a little bit more! And in the mean time, here are a few blog posts to get to know more about me if you're interested :)

And now, here's my weekend recap, although it's not much, so don't get too excited just yet... ;)

Ran a quick mile Friday after work
Talked to a couple lovely friends on the phone
Picked up Jeff
Went to a friend's house for some pizza, and we ended up watching "The Wedding Planner" :) 
Went back to Jeff's house early, and just relaxed

Hiked the trail at Maclay Gardens with my parents, and luckily we didn't get stormed on like we thought we might
Picked up Jeff, and had lunch at Tijuana Flats
Ran errands at Costco and Home Depot
Both of us got hair cuts (him a lot more than me)
Made a cute cover photo for my Facbook timeline  
Went to Walmart two more times to find the right part for his broken toilet
Fixed the toilet
Went over to a friends house for a giant game of boys vs. girls Pictionary
The girls killed it, and we won like usual :)

This cute boy just being silly with his Valentine's candy I gave him :)
Went to my church, but a small SS group ended up combining with another teacher, so I was done for the day
Then went to Jeff's church, and showed off my ring to everyone there :)
Had lunch at his house, then stayed home allllll day being so lazy (Pitch Perfect, HIMYM, Big Bang Theory)
Seriously - one of the laziest days we've ever had, and it was great

And that's about all. It was wonderfully lazy and relaxing, but we had fun together and laughed a lot. And yes, I still stared at my ring a lot too :) Oh, and the tulips he sent to my office on Valentine's Day are opening up and looking beautiful! There are still a few that are closed up some (mostly the white ones), but they're all still gorgeous!

We just had a big breakfast at work to celebrate our February birthday's, and now I've probably eaten half of my calorie allotment for the day...although I'm not going to input any of it into MFP, because I'm scared to know how much it truly was. I'll just promise to eat good for lunch and dinner, and make sure I do some workout something-or-other after work today! (Run if it's not freezing? Zumba at home if it is?) It was worth it though - because there were some delicious casseroles and grits. Yum! Here's to another Monday in the office (although I hear some people have today off for President's Day? Ugh, not me), and getting through another week! Then tonight I'm going grocery shopping, because tomorrow I'm starting a two-week carb-cleanse. I'm not going to eat bread, pasta or anything like that for two weeks. I did it once before last year, and it was great, so I'm hoping for good results this time around too!

Tomorrow is our "First Things First" link up just like every Tuesday with myself and Hallie from Life: Oceanside. And of course we would love for you to join in with us! Tomorrow's topics are:

1. First thing you do at the gym
2. First date with your current significant other (or pick any first date if you're currently single)
3. First email address you ever had

Can't wait to hear all about y'all's weekends, because I'd like to hear some of y'all did something more exciting than me?! I want to read all about it! And I can't wait to read your First Things First post tomorrow as well! What did y'all do this weekend? Was it crazy and fun, or more chilled and relaxing like mine?

Linking up as usual today with: Covered in Grace, Sami's Shenanigans and Synfully Delicious

Friday, February 15, 2013

Proposal on Valentine's Day!

So earlier today, I couldn't hardly wait to share some big news with y'all, and so without much detail or specifics, I made the announcement that I am now engaged!!! But now I've finally gotten all my stuff together, and am going to write out all the fun details from last night :) Prepare yourselves though, because I'm warning you now - there will be lots of pictures (I did at least put most of them into collages), and there will be lots of words!! But I don't want to leave anything out, or run the risk of forgetting anything later, so I'm including as much as possible here!!

So sometime in January, we had mentioned Valentine's Day and talked briefly about needing to make some plans. But we moved on pretty quickly and forgot. Then last Monday night (Feb 4), he texted me to say he wanted to plan it all himself, and I didn't need to worry about anything. I was like, "That's great babe! I love when you make all the fun plans and surprise me!" So he got busy working on stuff  and plans for the last two weeks, and I had no idea what was going on.

The first thing that happened yesterday, was a quick text from him in the morning that said, "Let me know when you got a UPS package." So I freak out and say, "What?! Here at work?!" And he says YEAH! So I'm still freaking out of course, until an hour or so later, and then the most beautiful tulips ever arrive at my office! Seriously, they're amazing. It's a mix of red, pink and white, and I'm in love with them. They're so perfect and gorgeous, and so special. And I liked that they weren't just any 'typical' Valentine's flowers, because these just felt so much more special to me :)

This photo is from yesterday, but since then, they've already started opening up beautifully!!

Then after work, I knew I was going to meet him at his house, and we would be going to dinner, but I didn't know any of the rest of the plan. Well, except that he had worked penguins, pasta and polka dots all into the date night in some way ;) So I get to his house and I give him all of his gifts first. (Which included: a "Big Bang Theory" t-shirt and set of trivia cards, lots of his favorite candies, a stuffed dachshund because he loves those, a little "Why I Love You" notebook, and a banner I made for him.) Then I change into my new dress and put on makeup and some perfume, and we headed to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Harry's. (I had been looking to buy a new dress, and wanted something, red or pink or festive. Somehow though, I ended up with bright green! Who knows how that happened rather than Valentine's festive, but I loved it, and so did Jeff!)

So at the restaurant, he tells me that he's ordering for me, and I'm not even allowed to look at the menu! So he gets us some sort of shrimp appetizer thing (don't remember the name?), and then orders our meals. And of course, he got me pasta! It was amazing. It was a special for the Mardi Gras season, so I think it was just called Pasta Mardi Gras. It was linguine with shrimp and lobster and mushrooms, with some sort of creamy sauce. Sooo good :) And Jeff got Blackened Red Fish with crab on top! And of course his was delicious too. But soo much food, so we both ended up taking home a box with at least half our our meals.

But while we were waiting on our food to arrive, I got to open my present! First though, let me tell you about the card, because he worked hard on it. Ladies - he hand-made the entire thing! And  it was amazing. It's one of the cutest things I've probably ever seen, and definitely the best card I've ever been given. I told him I would have loved it enough already had he ordered it from Etsy or something, but considering that he made the whole stinking thing himself?! Blew me out of the water!! He hand drew a little penguin, and gave it some of his own characteristics like glasses and red hair! SO cute :) He also constructed this super cute little owl on the back with some crafting string of some sort. On the inside was the polka dot paper, and he had cut out hearts on a piece of tissue paper, and laid it over the polka dot paper. Precious :) And of course he had written some extremely sweet words. In fact, they made me all teary-eyed as I read them. It was for real the best and most awesomest and the sweetest card I've ever gotten. I told him that now I'm going to be expecting one of these hand-made cards for every occasion! 

There was more in the bag though than just an extremely awesome and elaborate hand-made card, like a big bag of Hershey's kisses, and a box. So I pulled out a little box with penguins on it, and it was filled with Valentine's candies and sitting on top of the candy, was a little hand-drawn banana, with a message on the back - "Deliver to the monkey." So I had to figure out what that meant... So while we ate, we talked about it a little more, and after he gave me a few more clues, I figured out it meant my friend Lacey's house! (Her house has been nick-named 'Coconuts' so that's where the monkey was.)

So while we were driving from dinner to her house, I'm expecting there to be another clue waiting for me, so I asked how long we were going to stay at her house before moving on. And he was like, "Oh, I don't know, we'll just see how it's going over there..."  So we walk in, and chat with Lacey and Josh for a few minutes, and while I'm talking to them, he disappears, but apparently I didn't even notice it somehow. Then when he comes back, he hands me this cute little pink monkey, with a card around his neck. The front of it says, "Will You Be My Valentine?" and then it says "flip" at the very bottom corner...and the back says "Forever..." 

And I'm thinking "Oh well of course forever, dear!" But then when I look away from the card, I realize he's gotten down on one knee and is holding a tiny box with something very sparkly inside. And I gasp a little bit, of course, and then he says, "Halie, will you marry me?" And so I immediately do a little happy dance and stomp my feet a little bit and squeal a tiny squeal and cover my mouth and I'm just so excited!! So of course I say YES! and he puts the most gorgeous ring on my finger :) Then he stands up and I hug him so tight and am still squealing, and then of course I give him a big ole' smooch. And our friends were taking pictures the whole time with their iPhone luckily, so we have a few shots of the actual moment!!

That biggest, middle picture is when I'm doing my little happy dance :)

After a little bit more hugging and kissing, we made some phone calls to family members, and then of course put it on Facebook and Instagram :) We stayed there a little longer, and then the rest of the 'stops' he had planned were to go visit each of our parents afterwards! His parents' house was on the way to mine, so we stopped there first to visit for a little bit and show off the ring, and then we made our way to my parents after that. Finally, we headed out, and our final stop was at Walmart to pick up some celebratory cupcakes :) We went back to his house to enjoy our dessert, and just couldn't stop talking about it and staring at the ring, and then talking about it all some more. And then of course I made us take some more pictures, just to make sure we had enough, and to make sure that we would never forget this night :)

Side note about the ring: We had gone months ago (maybe in September or October or something?) and looked at about four jewelry stores for rings. I tried on a ton, and liked a lot of them, but we never actually settled on just one specific one. Then he went back on his own to a different store, and picked this one out all on his own. And it's exactly what I wanted. I love the vintage style, with the square, "Princess" cut, and I love all the tiny little diamonds on the sides as well. It's perfect, and he did an excellent job picking just the right one!

It was an incredible night, and he did an amazing job planning everything out! He did so good not to tell me the secrets or give anything away, and I love that I was so surprised! It's still surprising to me actually, and sometimes it still feels a little unreal. I guess it'll take some time to sink and and get used to it, but for now I seem to be on Cloud 9! (As cliche as that sounds...) I just keep staring at the ring (especially while I type!), and remembering that I now have a fiance instead of just a boyfriend. So crazy, and so exciting!!

I know this engagement period will be crazy and fast and probably stressful, but I'm so looking forward to it. More importantly though, I'm looking forward to calling this man my Husband! God has blessed us both so much, by bringing us together. I feel so lucky to be with him, and to now have a sparkly ring on my left hand!! I can't wait to see what our future holds, and all the things that come with it. I love you so so so much baby!!

Penmanship - Round 2

Remember a couple months ago when I found a super cute blog (Something Charming) with a super cute idea (Write It Down & Link It Up)? Well I jumped at the chance then to do her first Write It Down post, and I loved it! So when I saw she was doing one for Valentine's Day as well, of course I had to jump at that one too! So go to her post here to check out her beautiful handwriting, as well as a ton of other blogger ladies that have linked-up as well!

Something Charming

This was a simple project I made as part of Jeff's Valentine's Day present. And while it's not a lot of writing, it's enough for me to show my handwriting a little bit! I love the way it turned out, and I can't wait to hang it up in his room this weekend! :) I've had this done for a few days now, but couldn't post it before giving it to him, since I know he reads this!

The project itself was super easy too. All I did was rip some pages from an old book (I keep this one specifically for craft projects like this!), tore up tissue paper into little pieces, Mod-Podge-ed the tissue paper in heart shapes, and then broke out the crayons! Jeff actually loves those little swirly's I drew, and thinks I do my 'best work' with Crayons :) So I did those two things especially for him! Then I just used thin twine and festive washi tape! So, so easy, and still super cute. He loved it too, and thinks it looks great!

Oh, and even though I haven't posted all of the exciting details yet, if you've haven't already, you  might want to check out my announcement from earlier this morning, for the Preview of My Special Night!!!

Preview of My Special Night!!!

Guys, I have some HUGE news to share!!! I'll eventually be writing everything out (obviously), but I feel like it might take me all day, and I can't wait that long to post the news, so here's a quick Preview of My Special Night!!!

I'll definitely be back (sometime later in the day hopefully) with all the details and excitement and of course a ton more pictures! Just wanted to present a little teaser first though! I'm the happiest and luckiest girl right now :)