Cauliflower Pizza Crust – Try Something New

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I’m a big fan of trying new things. I’m pretty sure the number of recipes I send my husband on a weekly basis with the subject of “I want” drives him crazy! I’ve seen cauliflower pizza crust recipes floating around on fitness blogs & facebook pages for a few months now & I finally took a weekend to try it!

A quick Google search got me a quick recipe for Cauliflower Pizza Crust. Luckily I had the ingredients so little man and I decided to try it out for lunch.

If you are looking for a quick recipe at night, this is not it. It has about an hour of prep time between steaming, refrigerating, etc. It is perfect for a weekend with nothing going on though!

Mine came out a little bit runny. I used a half a head of cauliflower but I’m guessing I probably could have put in more. Instead of a food processor I used my NutriBullet (because that’s what I had in the house) and it worked great chopping up the cauliflower!

The recipe ended with “cook the pizza crust for 15 minutes” and that confused me a little bit. I wasn’t sure if I should cook it most of the way, top with toppings & then cook again or just top with toppings then cook.

Ultimately I decided to cook the pizza crust for about 10 minutes, add the toppings and cook some more. It wound up taking a lot longer than 15 minutes (maybe I didn’t make it flat enough?) but it came out pretty good. It was a little crumbly but it didn’t kill the fact that it tasted great.

Warning though, your house WILL smell like cauliflower afterwards!

What was something new you’ve tried? I need more new ideas! Comment below!

One for the Money (Stephanie Plum Book #1)

With my sudden new found (re-found?) love of reading I’m trying to knock through books that I’ve started at one point or another and not finished. Hence, Gabby Giffords earlier this week. Back in September I picked up One for the Money (Stephanie Plum) by Janet Evanovich. I read 10% of the book and put it back down. I had a hard time getting into it so it was on the bottom of my books to pick back up list.

I finally decided I wanted my GoodReads to be down to one so I picked this book back up this week. I didn’t expect it to be a quick finish since I wasn’t totally into it at the start but then the book got good, I got hooked and I’m now taking donations to purchase the next 24 books in the series (okay maybe the next 23 because I may have already purchased Two for the Dough (Stephanie Plum, No. 2).

One for the Money follows Stephanie Plum, recently divorced, recently laid off & broke as can be. Refusing to accept money or criticism from her parents, Stephanie convinces her cousin Vinnie to give her a job as a bounty hunter. Her main target becomes Joe Morelli… former high school all star, turned cop & recently charged for murder. Things get personal as Stephanie and Morelli have a past… he won’t let her forget their past nor will he make it easy for her to get him to the police station.

As Stephanie tracks down Morelli she uncovers more of the truth behind the murder. Is Joe Morelli innocent? Is it really personal? Will she nab her $10,000 for turning him in?

While it took me a few pages to get going into the book, don’t plan on putting it down once you hit the 60% mark. Somewhere around there I got hooked and knew I would be up late finishing the book. Janet Evanovich does an awesome job leading you into multiple directions as you try and figure out the mystery along with Stephanie.

If you live alone, spook easily or will be living alone I would put this book on hold for a bit, especially if you scare easily or don’t normally read mystery books. There were definitely a few chapters that made me want to go check my windows 6 or 7 times. Then again it is not based off of a true story so maybe I’m safe…. plus a bulk of the ‘problems’ happen on a fire escape and it’s safe to say there is not one attached to my house.

One of the minor characters in the book is Stephanie’s grandmother, Grandma Mazur. While she has a small role I loved each and every part of the book that she showed up in. Someone commented on a post on Facebook that she becomes more involved as the book series goes on, even more reason to keep reading.

All in all (at the moment) there are 25 books in the Stephanie Plum series. The most recent one is Top Secret Twenty-One but there are a few “specials” thrown in there. I’m currently trying to figure out a way to tie the rest of the series to the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, although I don’t think that is going to happen… I may have to stray away for a bit!  This book also recently became a movie staring Katherine Heigl. somehow I missed that movie when it came out but it now is at the top of my watch list.

Off to book 2.

Have you read this series? Are you hooked?

Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope Review

Ever since a trip to Kennedy Space Center in 2006, I’ve loved reading about all things NASA. A few years ago my dad was helping organize a conference set to take place in 2012 and he was incredibly excited that Mark Kelly was going to be speaking. Unfortunately my dad passed away before the conference but a friend sent my mom a copy of Mark Kelly’s book Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope. My mom read the book and passed it on to me where I promptly let it sit on my nightstand for the next year and a half.

During a morning of jury duty I picked up the book and read 65 pages and then put it back down. My son was 6 months old at the time and reading wasn’t a top priority. As I am reading through the 2015 Pop Sugar Challenge I decided that I would finish the book as my “memoir” and I’m so glad I did!

The book opens up as Mark is preparing for STS-134, the final mission for the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The mission was to take place about 5 months after his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in the head at a local event she hosted as a congresswomen in Tuscon, Arizona.

Mark & Gabby tell the story of how they met, how they dated, when they got married & ultimately the biggest focus being on life after Gabby was shot.  The book doesn’t sugar coat the events of January 8, 2011, nor does it sugar coat the long recovery process that Gabby will forever have to maintain.

While he continues to train for his mission, Gabby is recovering in a facility in Houston. Each day there are nurses & therapists who document the steps she is taking towards recovery. Mark Kelly is open and honest about the struggles he had with NASA and those who questioned his ability to command the space shuttle with Gabby still in rehab. He talks about the surgeries Gabby had, including the one that took place while he was up in space.

There are some great stories that he shares from how U2 had him help film a piece for their concert series to A Beautiful Day to meeting with Obama just hours after he gave the orders to capture Osama Bin Laden (unknowingly).

An ongoing theme throughout the book is “patience” as Mark talks about some of the days where Gabby has introduced him to that word. Mark talks about Gabby’s patience before she was shot and how he was able to use what he taught her after she was shot. From days at home where he had to have patience with Gabby’s progress to thousands of miles away when he was up on the International Space Station, Mark talks about each aspect of life that Gabby has helped him learn.

Reading Gabby Giffords & Tea

Afternoon Tea With a Good Book

This book is a great read, not only for those who are struggling with a loved one who is sick, injured, etc. but for anyone looking for a story about true love. From long distance (very long distance) to life changing events Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords have seen their share of troubles. While they both admit they are far from perfect, this book shows the strength they both have to work together to get through the rough days.

One of their goals as they wrote this book together was for Gabby to write the last chapter. While it is short, it makes the point that she is on the road to recovery and getting better each day.

Ironically, I finished this book right as Mark Kelly announced his new book Astrotwins — Project Blastoff. While the book is geared towards 8-12 year old kids, I added it to my wish list because I think it will be a good one to pull out some day, especially when little man is older.

If you are interested in reading a memoir I would recommend this one. It was an easy read with some great stories. If memoir’s aren’t your thing I would skip over this as it is a very personal read.

Losing At Love by Jennifer Iacopelli Review

Losing at Love by Jennifer Iacopelli picked up almost exactly where Game. Set. Match. left off. It was as if no time had passed and our friends were continuing to move forward with their lives.

Penny is now dealing with the reality of her first major injury & her first love. Jasmine is dealing with her parents who are discouraging her from going pro and wanting her to try NCAA tennis. Indiana has officially fallen for Penny’s older brother while winning her first major juniors tournament.

The majority of this book centers around the three girls playing at Wimbledon. All three of them ultimately go in with the goal of playing at the pro level, but have qualified for the junior level if that doesn’t pan out.

For two weeks the whole gang (Penny, Indiana, Jasmine, Teddy, Jack, Alex and Alex’s friend) are staying at Alex’s house in London. Living in close quarters with lots of new relationships not only puts a strain on their friendships but on their tennis games as well. Indiana faces the reality that in order to qualify for or win her second major tournament she will have to play not one, but two of her friends in the process. Penny ignores doctors and decides to play despite a swollen ankle. She has to learn the hard way when it is time to stop.

Jasmine seems to be the main focus of this book as the book follows her through the decision of keeping her NCAA eligibility and pushing off the decision to go pro or making the decision to go pro while forgoing a college scholarship. Through reporters & her coaches making her question her abilities Jasmine makes her decision, ultimately helping determine her fate throughout the tournament.

I won’t lie, one of my favorite characters in this book was Ahmed, their driver while in London. He was the quiet guy who had very few words to share but for some reason he reminded me of Ranjit from How I Met Your Mother. Every time he did say something I heard it in Rajnit’s voice.

This book was one of my fastest reads this year as I finished it in less than 24 hours. It did take me a moment to soak up that it ended as I felt like I said goodbye to my friends. Even though I read this book & Game. Set. Match in a matter of a week I felt like Jennifer Iacopelli did a fantastic job of allowing readers to get inside the characters heads. I did see that there is potentially a third book coming eventually so I’m going to keep my eyes peeled.

As was the same with Game. Set. Match, I loved how this book took readers inside the heads of teenagers being put in a position of making major career decisions. It’s not every day that a teenager has to decide whether to go pro or retain eligibility to compete in college. This would be a fantastic book for any girl who is struggling with decisions to read. Although, I would classify it as an “New Adult” read as there are sexual references throughout the book.

If you like easy reads, sports books or just overall romance novels I’d highly suggest picking up the OBX series! They were great reads and I can’t wait for the next one!

This book was great and I used it as my “book set in high school” book from the 2015 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge.

Game. Set. Match. by Jennifer Iacopelli Review

I am not at all a Tennis fan. I’ve never watched it, never understood it but I somehow came across Game. Set. Match. by Jennifer Iacopelli. I love fiction sports books so I decided to give it a try. It is safe to say that this book (and book two Losing at Love) are currently topping my list of favorite books I’ve read so far this year.

The book is classified as “New Adult” and I think that description fits it pretty closely. I would not classify it as young adult as there are references in there that I wouldn’t want a “young adult” reading, but the book is not filled with inappropriate references either.

Game.Set.Match. follows Penny Harrison, Jasmine Randazzo and Indiana Gaffney at the Outer Banks Tennis Academy (OBX). Penny is the star, Jasmine’s family owns the academy & Indy is the new girl. As they train together, a weird friendship forms between the three of them but it takes most of the book to get to that point, specifically with Jasmine and Indy who start out as rivals.

Throughout the book each girl starts to develop a love interest (or continue following through on one already in progress) while still working through high school & the ins and outs of being a professional athlete (or making the decision to go pro).

I loved the book because not only does it paint the picture of amount of dedication that it takes to be a professional athlete but it shows the sacrifices they make to get to the level they’re at. As each of the girls attempts to have a normal life, they very clearly are not experienced with having “normal” friends outside of tennis. As they struggle to not only maintain a friendship they also start to develop relationships & it throws them for a loop.

As I mentioned, I do not know the first thing about tennis, so it was interesting to be reading the book for the story line while learning about the game. The game was explained enough to get a basic understanding but not so much that it pulled you away from the story line. I can honestly stay I still don’t necessarily understand everything about tennis, but I know a lot more now than I did a few days ago!

While the book ends on a good note, I was excited to see that there is a second in the series! It was really well written and a quick read for a nice relaxing weekend. I’m excited to read the next book and look forward to more books by Jennifer Iacopelli!

This book was my “book by a female author” for the 2015 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge.

Favorite Toddler Books

Favorite Toddler BooksThings are changing with our suddenly toddler of a little man. Instead of our nightly rocking little man is starting to ease into the big boy phase of going right to his crib at night. While I was not expecting it, we decided to change up our routine a bit and read more at night and then “go night night”.

We’ve always loved to read and little man loves his books but we’re at an awkward stage. He’s a little to young still for the paper books which tend to be a little bit longer but the simple board books with 3 or 4 words per page go by way too fast. While I am excited for the day that we can read Green Eggs and Ham past the first page, for now we are enjoying some shorter toddler books. We’ve found a few new books that we are currently loving and a few that have been our favorites from the very beginning.

What’s Friday without a few favorites?

Read and Roll Safety
A newer book that little man got for his birthday was the Construction Crew – Read and Roll Book Set. One of the books that he keeps running back to is the book on Safety. We love this book because not only are there “big trucks” but they also talk about the different types of safety equipment and he loves to point each of those out on every page.

Chika Chika Boom Boom
From the very beginning I’ve been reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom book to little man. It was one of my favorites from elementary school and I LOVE that we have a board book version of this book. He can’t destroy it but it is still short enough that we can read it fairly quickly. His favorite part is “OH NO…. Chicka Chicka BOOM BOOM!” We’ve read it enough that I can recite the book without having to read it which has paid off in situations where we’re stuck without things to occupy him!

The Going To Bed Book
Books by Sandra Boynton were completely new to me but I’ve loved the few books we have by her! Little man likes to grab The Going-To-Bed Book a lot of the time when he gets to pick a book. It’s a pretty quick book but there are lots of animals and we get to talk about things he does every night in his routine. We also love Hippos Go Berserk!

Let’s Cruise – Friendship Board Book Set

Little man is a little boy in every way. He very quickly learned what cars are and how to make them crash, go flying across the floor and drive on every surface possible. A friend gave us her son’s set of Let’s Cruise! (Friendship Box, 4 board books in a box). These have very easily become our FAVORITE set of books. Little Man’s favorite is Mater but we enjoy reading all of the books. I’m pretty sure he would read those over and over again if we let him every single night. I recently saw a newer version of these advertised on Zulilly so keep  you’re eye out for them if you’re looking. They’re fantastic.

Are there any other toddler moms out there with toddler book recommendations?

Kristy’s Great Idea – Baby-Sitters Club Book #1

One of the best parts about the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge is forcing myself to read books that I wouldn’t normally read. The challenge I picked up this week was “A Book From Your Childhood”. I instantly knew which book I would pick.

A few months ago The Baby-Sitters Club #1: Kristy’s Great Idea was a freebie on Amazon Kindle. I picked it up, as I often do, in case I ever spent time reading with my nieces or wanted to share one of my favorite book series with them someday. I LOVED Baby-Sitters Club as a kid (although, NOTHING topped Sweet Valley Kids).

I am sure I was 10 or 11 when I first read this book, obviously going back to it 18/19 years later I had a different excitement. The book is geared towards pre-teen kids. It is very safe and not filled with anything inappropriate. Although some Amazon reviews seem to think that it should be.

Kristy’s Great Idea is the formation of the Baby-Sitters Club, a place that parents can call at specific times and get access to 4 baby-sitters at one time. The book follows Kristy, Mary-Anne, Stacy & Claudia as they experience their first jobs as members of the club.

Throughout the book Ann M. Martin also addresses issues of divorce, diabetes & friendship at various levels. There is a tad bit of “girls like boys” in this book but nothing more than kidding around.

While Kristy is the focus of this book, the series ultimately does spend time focusing on each of the club members (and additional ones that join the club later on).

As a kid I remember many occasions where we all wanted to form our own baby-sitters club, then again who didn’t after reading these books?

There is no question in my mind that I think all kids should at least be exposed to this series. It’s a wonderful series (especially for girls) to watch girls grow up and learn about life, all while tying in baby-sitting.

I believe these books are still in print but if not they are available on Kindle! I was so excited to find that out. I may not always sneak them in but sometimes it’s fun to relive your childhood.

Do you have any books from your childhood that you often run back to?

4:09:43: Boston 2013 Through the Eyes of the Runners Review

As a newer/returning runner I’ve been enjoying reading a number of running blogs. Not long ago a book came up on one of them called 4:09:43: Boston 2013 Through the Eyes of the Runners. It’s hard for anyone who follows sports or national news not to know what Boston 2013 is referring to. The bombings at the Boston Marathon.

For those of you who do not know who Hal Higdon is, he is probably most well known from his Marathon/Half Marathon training plans. He is also an author. On the day of the Boston bombings Hal was not on the course but through his Facebook page he met many runners who were.

Throughout the book Hal interviews people who were at the marathon from beginning to bombings to after. Hal talks with runners like Shalane Flanagan, an Olympic medalist and runners who were just there to get the Boston medal.

It is interesting to read each of the perspectives that are told in 75 different voices. Each chapter takes you through the course of Boston & through the little towns as if you were running it along with the runners.

As one of the biggest (and toughest) marathon courses out there, it is a huge accomplishment to say you’ve completed the course. Just to paint a picture of how large the race is, Hal Higdon says:

For a brief period of time, at least until the moment Jeptoo crossed the finish line, every runner running the Boston Marathon was on the course together. Every single one of them! The 23,000 runners of Boston 2013 probably covered near 20 miles of road. They filled that road, like a snake slithering toward the sea.

Each story is unique as each runner is unique. Hal talks with them as they discuss the ups and downs (That later would feel like nothing compared to the heartbreak they will find at the end) of what it is like to truly run the Boston course.

As a runner, I was interested in this book for not only the running side of it but for the amount of history that was written that day. Every single person will remember where they were when those bombs went off. For those who were there, it will never leave their minds.

I was slightly convinced that it would make me want to run the Boston Marathon some day, even though I have no desire to ever run 26.2 miles. For those who share the same concern, don’t worry you’ll be fine! While it is one of the greatest accomplishments you can have as an athlete, sometimes its better to stay a spectator ;).

The end of the last chapter sums up the point Hal Higdon was trying to get across throughout the whole book:

Two days later at a memorial service for the three victims killed in the bombing, President Barack Obama echoed those same words: “This time next year on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever and to cheer even louder for the 118th Boston Marathon.”

Yes, Boston, we will be back.

Boston isn’t just a race, it’s an entire world coming together & Hal Higdon make’s sure that readers know it wasn’t just a few people that day in Boston. Evey one had their story & their reason for being there!

I read this book as part of the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, I classified it as my book that will make you cry. While it is sad, it is also inspiring so I highly recommend picking up a copy!

March Madness – It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

March Madness

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Does anyone else get up and dance when selection Sunday rolls around? No? Just Me?

Our house is very sports centered. I’m a runner/former gymnast and my husband is a fan of pretty much any sport that is on TV (namely football, basketball & baseball). There is one sport that we watch together and that is college basketball.

I get excited when the games start in October, but nothing compares to March Madness ESPECIALLY the first weekend…. 12ish straight hours of basketball for four days straight.

We follow two basketball teams, Indiana University (my husband’s school) & Valparaiso University (my school). Lately neither has been a guaranteed tournament bid but this year both teams are going dancing!

We went to the Horizon League Championships at Valpo last week, it was exciting to be at the game as Valpo won and solidified their spot in the tournament. Each conference champion from around the country gets an automatic bid. Generally speaking that is Valpo’s ticket to the NCAA tournament. Ironically they will face Maryland Friday afternoon. Maryland knocked Indiana out of the Big Ten Tournament (barely) this past weekend. I won’t lie, I’m already nervous!

Indiana has had the craziest comeback of a year. With multiple players suspended for drugs & drinking (not to mention one in the ICU) at the start of the season, no one predicted that they would be anywhere close to a bubble team, let alone actually making the tournament. They finally found their groove and had a good showing at the Big Ten Tournament. Now we just have our fingers crossed that as they take on Witchia State they can provide a big upset.

It is going to be a fun week with hours on end of college basketball. My only question is, can someone PLEASE knock out Kentucky?

Who are you rooting for this week?

First 5k Of 2015 – Running With the Irish

Running With the Irish

Running With The Irish 5k

One of most exciting parts of spring, in my opinion, is the ability to get outside for a run. I’ve only had one outside run in 2015 so I was excited to be joining the Running With the Irish 5k up at the Indiana Dunes state park yesterday.

With not a lot of outside running (mostly treadmill this winter) I decided to just see what my legs/lungs do and push myself as far as they would go.

First things first, this was one of the most organized races I have ever been a part of. Last year I did 11 races all together but nothing topped this in terms of organization. From registration to the after run food it was all around a great race. Seriously though, any race that gives you chocolate covered strawberries as an after race treat wins my heart.

My friend Amy and I arrived with about 45 minutes until the start of the race. We had time to register, hit up the potty (twice) and get to the start line with time to spare.

The race took us on a loop around the Indiana Dunes State Park through some of the smaller hills. Although, starting going down hill sounded like a great idea at the time I later realized that it meant we had to end going uphill. My legs were not too thrilled with that.

I finished with a time of 25:59 and I was pretty happy overall with that. I specifically did not set a goal time and just decided to see how I felt. With most of the first half of the race being down hill and the second half being up, my splits were not in the negatives but they felt pretty good.

Mile 1: 8:20
Mile 2: 8:23
Mile 3: 8:35

Overall it just felt great to be outside. I truly couldn’t complain with the weather in the high 40s and a slight breeze off of Lake Michigan. Amy and I both were breaking in new shoes, so the race needed a new shoe selfie.

New Shoe Selfie

New Shoe Selfie

Shoes are Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15 & Saucony Xodus (I think), Pants are from Fabletics & Old Navy Active.

What did you do this weekend?

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