Hassle-Free Holidays: Noon Year’s Eve

  “So, I guess it’s going to be a boring New Year’s Eve for us?” The husband didn’t even need to finish his sentence before I was laughing. I will certainly not be staying up until midnight this year unless it’s to feed a baby {in case you missed it, we gave a newborn babe in the house}. 

But, that doesn’t mean the holiday has to be boring. I jokingly told the husband we should celebrate at 12 noon instead of 12 midnight. Thinking I was clever for a minute I said “oo, we can call it Noon Year’s Eve!”, but I quick perusal of the internet let me know that I’m not in fact clever, creative, or original. Maybe next time. 

Although the general consensus of Noon Year’s Eve is that it’s for kids – you know the ones that shouldn’t stay up til midnight, not full grown adults that are just too old and tired. But regardless, that’s how we’re celebrating this year and that’s that. 

Since we’ve established I’m a bit tired this year, you won’t be surprised that I don’t plan on pulling out all the entertainment stops this time around. Here are a couple little-to-no prep, hassle free snacks for holiday entertaining {or any day}.
First up, a tried and true favorite: spinach dip. I make my “mom’s recipe” aka what’s on the back of the Knorr vegetable soup mix {minus the sour cream}. I’m not exaggerating when I say my three year old cries when this is gone. Veggies for the win. 


Next, another household staple at all times: flavored nuts. Somehow the flavored versions make potentially boring old nuts a delicious and exciting snack. This honey roasted flavor from Blue Diamond provides just the hint of sweetness that satisfies my cravings without being loaded with sugar, plus I love the tiny hint of saltiness paired with the honey flavor. 

{I seriously almost ate the whole container before getting a chance to snap a picture. And no, I didn’t share. Shh.}

Then there’s my fave easy prep meal: nachos! Dairy free for the munchkin and I, and when he’s lucky, the real deal for the husband. Nacho bars are a great way to feed a bunch of people without spending a lot of time in the kitchen. 

Last up, trail mix, the long forgotten snack food. We made this holiday version for KB’s class party {I was determined not to serve a room full of preschoolers a boatload of sugar} and it was a big hit. It’s just Chex, gluten free pretzels, popcorn {which doubles as child entertainment as it pop}, raisins, & peppermint marshmallows.

So call me boring but the more exciting and grown up festivities can wait another year. I’ll be snuggling on the couch with my babes celebrating just twelve short hours early. 
What are your fave fuss-free snacks for holiday entertaining?

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds.

Quick & Easy Holiday Appetizers

Today’s post comes from Kristina– thanks for sharing your recipes!

I love to entertain – and the more the merrier! Just as much as I enjoy a house full of loved ones, I love to plan event details. I love fresh, easy food that I can prepare just before events begin, and I pair those with a few goodies that can be made ahead – either that morning or even the day before!

In the next several weeks, we will host parties, be guests of parties, and join family and friends on holidays. I have two easy appetizers that are full of great flavor! These can be made ahead for your party, and are easily portable to bring to events you are attending.

The first is vegan and the second is vegetarian, both are gluten free. Enjoy!

Red Pepper Dip

2 cups raw cashews
1 cup roasted red peppers
3 tablespoons water
3 cloves garlic
sea salt, to taste

Soak cashews in water overnight in fridge. Drain and add to processor with all ingredients. Blend to desired consistency.

This is so flavorful, and a favorite whenever I make it. I have changed the flavor by replacing red peppers with many things – dates and more water for a sweet dip, jalapenos for spicy, even simply more garlic and white beans for a creamy and versatile alternative.

I serve this with crackers and vegetables – baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, pepper slices.

Olive Bites

2 cups extra sharp cheddar, cubed
1 stick butter, cubed
1 1/4 cup flour (Bob’s Red Mill gluten free)
1 teaspoon sea salt
25 – 30 martini olives

Pulse cheese, butter, flour and salt in food processor. Very quickly it forms a dough ball. Remove and knead a few times, until smooth.

Step by step: Roll into one inch balls, make a well, place an olive inside, form dough around olive. I baked them in my mini muffin pan.

Bake at 400 for 15-18 minutes.

I also made cheesy disks out of some of the dough:

These taste like light fluffy cheese crackers, and are great warm or cold. The olive bites are salty and uniquely tasty; I have made these ahead of time and warmed in the oven prior to serving.

I am always flattered when asked to guest post, and was very happy to be asked by Heather, whose blog I love and read daily! Thank you Heather, and thanks to everyone for reading! I wish you all a fun and happy holiday season!

Kristina, spabettie

This Is Why I’m Injured

It appears I’m not the only one who runs and gets injured.

And for some reason, some of you want to know how to not end up like me. Winking smile

I don’t blame you.

So ignoring the potential for self-embarrassment, I’ll show you.

Here’s why I’m hurt:




Annnnnd for those of you who don’t care about anatomical obscurities, I made Mama Pea’s dough balls this weekend.


[Exact recipe plus almond milk drizzled in at the end so they’d make “dough”.]

I’ve been alone in the house with them since Monday. Don’t ask how many are left.

The Best _____ Ever Series Kickoff

Something catastrophic happened yesterday.

I bit my lip eating a scone.

No, that’s not the catastrophic part.

The catastrophic part? I liked it. The scone, not the lip biting.

cinnamon scone

Yes me, who hates scones and doesn’t appreciate their dominance in the pastry world. I’ve been quoted on more than one occasion as saying they taste like stale dry cookies.

But this one was good. Not cookie good, but, part of breakfast good.

So obviously that means I needed to figure out how to make them.


(Why was I eating a scone if I hate them you ask? Well, apparently “pumpkin bread” sounds a lot like “cinnamon scone” to the Starbucks barista. Luckily she didn’t destroy my soy cinnamon dolce latte so I let her live.)

Anyway. It was just slightly crusty on the outside, and soft on the inside. Some kind of merger between a cookie and muffin. But in a good way. Not a what the heck am I eating and why did I pay 2 dollars for it way.

So, you know what’s gonna happen? While I work like a mad scientist determining the absolute best scone recipe of all times -that doesn’t taste like stale dry cookie- I’m kicking off the new SoS series that’s the result of the brilliant master mind Sarah: The Best _____ Ever.

scone scone1 scone2

Yup, that’s right. The first “Best ___ Ever” is going to be scones.

What do you need to do? Tell me why you make or where to find the Best Scones Ever.

You can:

a) Leave a comment

b) Link to a recipe in the comments and tell me why it’s the best

c) Send me an email with a mini “guest post” about your Best Ever Scones

When I reveal my secret recipe, I’ll feature some of your Best Evers.


Football 101: The Ultimate Girls’ Guide to Football

power of playLast night I went to an event for a local charity that helps kids participate in sports. The event was a girls-only football clinic, so all the women could learn the game.

A little sexist? Yes. A little accurate? Yes.

I don’t mind watching football on the weekend when it means drinking beer and grilling out. But every single day, when it’s just the TV, the living room, and a football game- I get bored. Especially when I don’t know what’s going on.

girls guide football

The clinic was lead by former NFL and college football players. It was a great idea in theory, but they did a poor job of actually teaching us about the game. I mean, you get a bunch of football players together and what are they gonna do? Play football. Not teach girls.

football game

So here’s my version of football 101, a sad side effect of the TV constantly being tuned to ESPN.

(And though I will never admit it to the husband, a 4 hour game is much more bearable when you know what’s going on.)

football 101

Football 101

Before we start, let’s get one thing clear: football is not like soccer or hockey where the offensive & defensive players of the same team are on the field at the same time.

In football, the team that has possession of the ball (trying to score) has their offense on the field. The other team has their defense on the field and is trying to stop the other team from scoring. To add to the confusion, there’s a whole other set of players called “special teams”- they do stuff like kick field goals and punts.

How to Score

The way to get the most points at one time is to get a touchdown (6 points). A touchdown happens when the scoring team runs the ball into the end zone or catches a pass in the end zone.

After a touchdown, the team has 2 choices: kick the ball between goals posts for an extra point, or line up at the two yard line and run or catch the ball in the end zone.

You can score 3 points by kicking a field goal- an option teams might go for if they don’t think they’ll be able to get the 10 yards in their 4th attempt at a 1st down.

football goal post

(You can also get 2 points by getting a safety, but I don’t think it happens much. It’s when the opponent has the ball and gets tackled in their end zone.)

What’s a Down?

A down is essentially a play. The team with the ball has 4 chances to move the ball 10 yards. (Sounds easy, right? Apparently not so.) Each time a play ends, it’s a down. If they get to 10 yards, they start over with a first down and get another 4 chances to move the ball 10 yards.

When you hear stuff like “3rd and 8” or “2nd and 3”, it means the down they’re on and the number of yards they need to go. (So 3rd down and need yards, or 2nd down and 3 yards.)

On each down, the players line up just like they do at the beginning of the game: offense on one side, defense on the other, and the center snaps the ball to the quarterback. What happens next depends on what play they’ve decided on. (More on positions below.) Where the ball starts is called “the line of scrimmage”.

If the team doesn’t move 10 yards in 4 downs, the other team gets the ball, so on the 4th down, the usually do 1 of 2 things: kick a field goal (if they’re close enough) or punt the ball down the field (so it’s farther from the end zone when the other team gets it.)

The Players

football positions

There’s 11 guys allowed on each team on the field at one time. Here’s some of them:


Center: He’s literally in the center of the offensive line- he starts the play by “hiking” the ball to the quarterback. (You know, the one that bends over with his butt in the air & has the ball on the ground between his legs.) It’s called the “snap”.

Quarterback: If you can only stand to know one player, know this one. He’s the guy that catches the snap from the center. He can either run with the ball, throw it to a player down the field, or pass it to another player. He’s the ringleader- he executes the plays the coach decides, or calls an “audible” if he thinks he needs to change the play on the field.

Offensive guard: The 2 guys that line up on either side of the center.

Offensive tackle: The 2 guys that line up either side of the guards.

Tight end: Plays next to the tackle. (This series of players makes up the “offensive line”).

Wide receivers: Their job is to get open to receive a pass down the field.

Running back: Runs the ball down the field.

Fullback: They run, they block, they receive. They do it all.


Nose guard: Across from the offensive teams center; blocks plays down the center of the field.

Defensive tackle: Linemen that rush the passer.

Defensive ends: Block plays on the outside edges of the defensive line.

Linebacker: Rush the passer, cover receivers, do what needs to be done.

Cornerback: Block the wide receivers.

Safety: The last line of defense. There’s 2: the strong safety is stronger and blocks runs; the free safety is faster and blocks passes.

Special teams

Just know they come out for kicks, punts, extra points, field goals, etc.

That’s enough football for now.

*Disclaimer: Don’t blame me if this is not entirely accurate. It comes purely from osmosis- I can’t help what goes into my brain after endless hours of football on my TV at home. Nobody tell the husband that I know what’s going on- it’ll only encourage him to watch even more. If that’s possible.

Kneaded Gnu Knees: The Path to Knee Injury & Recovery

June 5th- 3 months, 4 days ago. {Update: almost 4 years ago now}. Three miles into the woods at Algonkian Regional Park. The dull pain that I’d felt in my knee on  my last few runs struck again- and struck hard. It didn’t take long for the pain to kick into high gear.

I knew I needed to stop running. But when you’re 3 miles into an out-and-back 6 mile course that lead you down a single path in the Virginia woods, where do you stop?

I quickly discovered it hurt more to walk than it did to run, so I kept running. {Although at this point I felt like I’d finish faster if I crawled….}

Immediately after the run my knee was ok- sore, but manageable. But by the time I got home from the race, I knew I had just done some serious damage. {I was right.}

After icing & resting for a week, I still couldn’t walk. There would be no miraculous recovery- it was time to go to the doctor.

icing knee

Endless x-rays and an MRI later, I learned I had iliotibial band friction syndrome, patellofemoral pain syndrome, swollen knee fat pads, and misaligned tracking of the patella. {This was good news compared to the initial diagnosis of a torn meniscus, which meant knee surgery.}

{And judging by a new set of x-rays, I also have chondromalacia/early arthritis, and severely tilted patellas- & my “good” knee looks worse than my bad knee. Fun.}

runner's knee knee fat pad

Several rounds of physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, and more resting & icing ensued. Along with several snazzy new taping styles:

kinesiotape mcconnell taping

I still couldn’t run.

Yesterday was my “final” follow up appointment. The one the doctor scheduled to make sure I was back on my feet & running again.

When he saw I wasn’t, his reaction: “Well, WHY aren’t you better yet?” Umm I don’t know doc, isn’t that your job?

One of the things the doctor had prescribed in physical therapy was iontopheresis: which uses ultrasound to drive cortisone deep into the joint. The PT had other ideas and never did the treatment.

An internal office showdown ensued. {Hello, you work for the same company, in the same building- can’t you guys talk?!}

The doc decided I had to have the cortisone as a last ditch effort. Of course I’m thinking, great more PT. But he said he’d do it today- awesome, one less visit for me!

Then the nurse came in and pulled out two giant syringes with long exposed needles- and just left them on the counter haunting me for the next 20 minutes. They didn’t mean iontopheresis- they meant cortisone injections.


To skip the details, those things HURT. {I did get complemented on my strength of dealing with the pain. I should have gotten a frickin gold star!}

So then I was sent home to let the cortisone do it’s thing along with some stronger anti-inflammatory creams and instructions to come back in another month.

No improvement by next month? Back to that surgery option.

{On a side note, I reacted to the cortisone and have since felt like I’ve packed an entire 2 weeks of the flu into a single 24 hours.}

I’ve already been sidelined for the 2 races I was most looking forward to this year: Iron Girl & 36 North

So here’s to hoping the cortisone does the trick… adios fall race season. <– spoiler alert. None of this worked. Updated: March 2014

You can follow the “highlights” of my knee injury here:

A Restless Month- MRI Time

And the Verdict Is…

All About IT Bands

Hurts So Good- PT Starts

Adding to the Diagnosis

An Attempt with Kinesiotaping

Trying McConnell Taping

The missing triathlons: More Than a Tri & The Post in Which I Admit Defeat

Have you had a running or sports injury? Are you back to running?