Emily // NPC Bikini Competition

my beautiful, strong, sassy sister

My sister Emily has been working so hard for the last few months to get ready for her first ever fitness competition this weekend. My mom and I (and a bunch of her friends + some other family members) are heading to Charleston, SC to watch her compete! We have t-shirts and the whole crew will be there to cheer her on (I’ve got peanut butter and Double Stuf Oreos for backstage after the show!).

I know it’s not everyone’s thing, but I think what people miss is that this is a fitness competition. It’s not a bikini contest like you might be thinking; these women give their all and challenge themselves immensely, seeing what they are capable of and finding out they can do whatever they put their minds to. My sister and I live together, so I’ve seen firsthand how much she has pushed herself, how hard she has worked, how tired she has been at times, and how strong she has been to keep sight of her goals and not falter – not even once. I always think it’s important to show up for people, so of course I’ll be there! Then I’ll jet back Sunday because Monday is THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.

Emily recently did a fitness shoot with Whitney and the pictures are amazing! I know my sister will always look back on this time proudly no matter what the outcome is of her show, and I will, too – she is already a winner to me! I can’t wait to see her strut her stuff and show off all her hard work in her fancy and sparkly mermaid bikini that she designed herself! Nails done, hair done, spray tan on full force, and a full face of makeup for the stage. I’m sure it will be a crazy experience for me, too, because I’ve never been to a show before! I’ll recap it sometime after the show! Follow along on social media to see some sneak peeks as it all unfolds this weekend! Good luck, Em!!! I am so proud of you!

go get ’em, girl!!!

Photos – huge surprise – by Whitney at J Parker Photography

Zucchini lasagna

A few weeks ago, I mentioned some recipes I was going to make to stay healthy and still feel like I was enjoying good food. I have made the pasta carbonara about 3 times since then; it’s THAT delicious and easy! But today’s focus is this decadent and d   e   l   e   c   t   a   b   l   e zucchini lasagna.

I used this recipe from Skinnytaste. I love her recipes and the fact that all the nutrition information is always listed. I mentioned I was doing Weight Watchers to be better about tracking what I eat, and one serving of this lasagna is 9 Weight Watchers points.

I will be completely honest and say that this is a little bit time-intensive since you have to slice the zucchini into lasagna “noodles.” I use my mandoline slicer, which has a 1/8 inch blade setting, but even with that, the noodles have to dry out between paper towels and then broil in the oven before putting together the lasagna in layers. The sauce is very easy to make and really delicious!

The whole recipe and process takes about 2 hours from start to finish, but then you have dinner for a week! Or, if you’re weird like me, you have breakfast leftovers for a week 🙂 It is truly worth it and so delicious. Andrew even loved it and asked for leftovers, too!

lasagna for breakfast 🙂

*The recipe calls for grilling the zucchini noodles to remove moisture, but I baked mine at 375 degrees for about 10-15 minutes before assembling the casserole to bake.

 

Recipes and Workouts

This week I’m focusing on some healthy recipes and butt-busting workouts. Originally, this blog was going to be mostly fitness and health related…but then things in my life changed drastically and my life just kind of took a different direction. I used to be a bit of a gym rat, which is hard to believe maybe – but I was! When I started practicing yoga a ton, I pretty much completely stopped going to the gym. I love lifting weights and doing all kinds of different training, so I’ve really missed that part of my life. I recently joined Weight Watchers, which has always worked well for me, and I always notice that when I’m eating better, my motivation to work out spikes, too. It all goes hand in hand – this is not new information. So I’m writing it in my planner and speaking it into existence! I really need to be more active again and be a little more proactive on my food planning.

Here are some recipes I’m using this week for my meals:

SpaghettiCarbonara_085_xl
Skinny-Green-Monster-Smoothie-550x751
Weight-Watchers-Chicken-Enchilada-bake-Post1
Skinnytaste-Zucchini-Lasagna-550x827

image sources linked below

Whole Wheat Spaghetti Carbonara – This recipe is SO easy. I made this a few weeks ago when I first re-joined Weight Watchers, and it was a huge hit with both me and Andrew. I had leftovers for lunch the next day, too! Sometimes whole wheat pasta isn’t my favorite, but it’s really great in this recipe and there are only a few ingredients.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole – My sister sent me this recipe and I am excited to try it! It looks pretty simple, and for someone like me who LOVES Mexican food, I think it will be a great substitute! I just won’t be able to have any chips and queso 🙁

Zucchini Lasagna – I made this a long time ago and LOVED it. It takes some time and is a little bit of a labor of love, but if you’re craving something cheesy and delicious, this can’t be beat! And it’s friendly to your waistline, which is a huge perk. I’m so excited to have a meal to really look forward to that feels like a cheat meal, but isn’t!

Green Monster Smoothie – I love this blog because the recipes are all really delicious. And if you’re following Weight Watchers, all of the points are already calculated for you which is a HUGE plus. I love to do this for breakfast, but it would work as a snack, too!

For my workouts this week, I have planned 2 gym workouts, 2 yoga practices, and 1 or 2 walk/jogs with the doggies at the lake. I will probably write up my own gym workouts because that’s something I enjoy doing, but I have followed this blog for a long time and she has all kinds of amazing workouts that are all so different. Great recipes, too! I also have a bunch of different types of workouts pinned on my Sweatin’ Pinterest Board. It’ll be good to get to check all of my workouts off my planner this week! Along with the 17,000+ steps I get at the pub each shift, I’ll be burning lots of calories to earn a real cheat meal. Life is nothing without delicious food sprinkled in.

Wish me luck!

FriYAY feels!

Finally Friyay!

This week flew by. I was off Monday and Tuesday, and on Monday I worked for hours agonizing over my budget and how I can save and plan better next school year so I won’t need to have a summer job. Reality check. I also made a goal to really focus on being active this week, and I stuck to it! Small victories.

I mentioned my Fourth of July plans earlier this week, but it was such a great time! The food came out perfectly and it was so nice to just relax and kick back a little bit. We didn’t end up going to the baseball game, but it was nice just to stay home and be near the dogs and take it easy!

filet mignon, honey lime ginger grilled scallops (adapted from here), garlic rosemary sweet potatoes, and grilled balsamic brussel sprouts (andrew had brats and burgers like a true american)

I got my hair done last Saturday and I am loving it! It’s always nice to get a little refresher from Jamie at the Parlor. (I’ve been going to her for like 10 years, no joke).

My family is going on a beach vacation in August, which I am so excited about! I am looking at these and these. Also loving this coverup and this coverup that could also double as a cute summer dress!

Finally, I mentioned my best friend’s wedding in this post, and a couple of weeks ago we ordered our bridesmaid skirts and tops for the big day! I absolutely can’t wait to see how everything comes together. When I put on my outfit and imagined everything on the big day, it suddenly became really real to me that this is happening! I’ll be crying like a baby when Whitney walks down the aisle (what else is new?).

That’s all, folks! Happy Friyay!

 

FriYAY feels!

It’s finally,   o f f i c i a l l y   summer! If you’re in the south like me, it has already felt like summer since April, but now we can finally be correct when we say it.

My sister and I planned on doing a free community event Wednesday morning for the summer solstice and international yoga day, but it got rained out and rescheduled. Since we were already up at the butt crack of dawn and dressed, I led us through a yoga class on our balcony while the sun came up. It felt so good; I have totally fallen out of a routine with my yoga and I always notice a difference when I get back into it.

pardon the poor quality selfie

yoga mat + blocks (blocks were a gift)

For summer, I’m focusing on some goals, like I said. Doing more yoga is one of them. Being more active in general, actually.

I’m also trying to make time to read for fun, which I love to do. I started summer off by devouring The Girl on the Train. I know I’m way late to that game, but I finally got around to it. I’m about to start reading All the Missing GirlsI know I’ll be done with that one in a few days, so any book recommendations would be greatly appreciated! I also just got set up for Audible with my Amazon Prime membership, so I can listen to books while I’m driving or at the pool, too.

Speaking of listening to books, I finally jumped on the bandwagon and listened to the S-Town podcasts. I went to see my dad for Father’s Day in Charlotte this past weekend, so I had time to do some listening. I tend to doze off at the wheel if no one is in the car with me, so I needed something to keep my attention. It was so good. It was one of those stories that really leaves you thinking about it for days. When it was finished, I just sat there for a minute, brain whirring and heart stirring (see what I did there? But really). I wish there were more chapters.

Finally, since I’m limiting alcohol due to 1. trying to be healthier and 2. not having money in the summer, I’m fixating on a couple of guilty pleasure libations right now. (As in, literally drank both of these while writing this blog post). I said I never would, but I find myself loving La Croix now. My sister and I found a new flavor that we can’t get enough of:  Blackberry cucumber. So refreshing. We have only been able to find that flavor at Target near us. My other summer must-have is iced coffee. I drink it year-round, but in the summer it’s a given. Of course I can make my own, and sometimes do, but Emily (my sister) and I have been loving the Starbucks Dark Roast Iced Coffee. When I’m not paying a reasonable amount way too much for pre-packaged coffee, I use my french press to brew strong coffee and stick it in the fridge overnight. Yes, I realize I also just wrote a blog post about our new coffee bar. It’s a drug, people, I’m telling you.

i have way too many pictures of food & drinks on my phone

That’s all that’s really new with me! I’m waiting for some sunshine so I can have a pool day and work on my golden tan getting more pink and freckly. It has been rainy and stormy on and off here for a few days now, so I haven’t had a chance.

Enjoy the weekend, and let me hear those book and podcast recommendations!

Happy birthday, Bruno + Oliver!

oliver & bruno

These tiny terrors turn four years old today! I can’t believe it has been four years since I got these little buddies. I truly can’t imagine my life without them.

I introduced everyone to Bruno and Oliver in this post and really nothing has changed since then. Their personalities have stayed the same, and DARE I SAY that Bruno has even calmed down a little! As I type this, they are both snuggled asleep at the foot of my bed. I know they’re dreaming of their loving mother treats and open fields.

In honor of their birthday, my sister and I baked dog treats using the corgi cookie cutter I got this year for Christmas. They came out so cute! The doggies LOVED them. Like, went crazy about them. Here’s the simple recipe. Tips:  Use quite a bit of flour when rolling out the dough! Also, the recipe doesn’t specify whether or not to spray the pan, but we did and the treats didn’t stick!

before baking the treats

the finished product!

is it weird to feed corgis corgi-shaped treats?!

bruno + oliver patiently anxiously waiting

doing their big trick; bruno can’t even

had to take care of my girl nala, too!

These guys deserve to have an exciting birthday, even if they don’t realize why. They have been there for so many important moments of my life. They’ve watched me laugh, cry, and be a brat when I can’t find anything to wear. They’ve lived with me in four different homes and through getting my master’s degree, changing careers, and going back to teaching. They have snuggled up next to me night after night. Most importantly, they’ve never stopped being excited to greet me when I make it home. It’s crazy how much we love our pets; they’re family, too.

Here’s to Bruno and Oliver. Happy fourth birthday to my low-riding, crazy, blonde bundles of joy!

Lemon squares recipe

Here they are! The most delicious, light & refreshing lemon squares recipe. I made these for the wedding brunch last weekend, but since the bride had a gluten intolerance I had to make sure I had a GF recipe. I found this recipe from What the Fork and followed it pretty much exactly. The only change I made is that I used a litttttle bit less lemon juice because I ran out of fresh lemons, but hey – they still tasted perfect!

so they’re not totally fat free, but you gotta live a little!

Before you begin, make sure you’ve got your minions bowl at the ready. I got this and a Frozen bowl at Target a long time ago and they always come in clutch when I’m baking! (If you can’t find your handy dandy children’s bowl, any small bowl will do the trick.)

The trickiest part of this was pressing out the dough into the baking dish. The parchment paper made sure nothing stuck, but I had a minor freak out moment when I didn’t think there was enough crust to spread out to fit the dish! Everything was fine, though. It was just enough! The dough stuck to my  hands a little bit, but that’s normal. That was the ‘hardest’ part of the recipe, so when I say this is easy, believe me, it is!

The filling was super simple. Eggs, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and the gluten free flour. Mix it all together and it’s ready to pour on top of the crust! I squeezed all the lemon juice into the bowl, then used a small strainer to pour the juice into the measuring cup to keep the seeds out.

don’t forget to stop and take an artsy fartsy photo of your egg stack

After baking, I let these bad boys cool for a long while before putting them in the refrigerator with plastic wrap on top. I made the lemon squares the night before the brunch and actually cut them into squares the next morning. When Andrew and I set them up, we used a small hand strainer to lightly dust them with powdered sugar – the final touch!

There you have it! Easy, refreshing, not too tart, and they keep in the fridge for up to a week! This made plenty of squares and they were a big crowd pleaser. Let me know if you decide to try them out!

Wedding day brunch!

I mentioned in my last post that I was hosting a wedding brunch, and it was on Saturday! It was the first time I have ever officially “catered” an event, and it was so great to even be asked. When I was the foods teacher, I used to help my kids cater things from time to time, and I have always loved to plan and throw get togethers. Hosting is fun for me, and details don’t make me nervous; I love all the lists, researching recipes and decoration ideas, timelines, etc. So when I was approached to take on this wedding day brunch, I jumped at the chance to see how it would go! I planned for about a week. I found a couple of recipes, went grocery shopping, got some beautiful flowers from Trader Joe’s, and used some decor I already had from throwing a surprise 60th birthday party for my mom with my siblings. I also purchased all of my serving trays and platters at Target (surprising, I know).

I think it was a big hit! The bride just wanted something easy while she and her bridesmaids were getting ready for the big day, and as the photographer and family members arrived early to the wedding they were able to have some snacks, too. The biggest hit was the cucumber lemon water, which is so funny because it’s so easy to do! It’s so refreshing and it’s literally just water, sliced lemons, and sliced cucumbers. Perfect for summer!

Here are some pictures from the day. I’ve already been asked to do this for another wedding in the fall! (#sidehustle) I really couldn’t have pulled it off without the help of my sister and Andrew! Emily was a great sounding board and finger sandwich helper, and Andrew was a wonderful taste tester. He ran out Saturday morning to get an ice bucket for me and went with me to help with all of the set up and clean up. I am one lucky lady!

I’ll do a separate post for the lemon squares recipe – they were a m a z i n g ! So easy to make, and the bride has a gluten intolerance so they had to be gluten free, but you couldn’t even tell. They were seriously delectable, so be waiting for that recipe soon!

It was great to be able to throw this brunch for the bride on her big day. She was an absolutely beautiful bride, the bridesmaids looked lovely, and the church setup was perfect for hosting the brunch. Here’s to more potential catered events in the future!

Back in the swing of things

source (and a cute card!)

Welcome to the new & improved maxouthappy.com! I am so pleased with the design and logo and have put a lot of hours into getting the site looking the way I envisioned. I got both the logo and design theme from two Etsy shops, and it was simple, affordable, and now you’re looking at what I hope is a nicer, cleaner, more streamlined site.

In other news, I know, I know – you don’t have to tell me. It has been a looong time since I posted. Life is busy, and to be really honest, I’ve been super unmotivated lately. I have been in a slump with my weight and fitness, and that always affects other parts of my life. I haven’t wanted to take pictures or buy new clothes, I haven’t felt like my usual peppy and optimistic self, and so I haven’t felt inspired to write.  Along with that, it’s the end of the school year which is always hectic, and I’ve been in the process of moving for a couple of months now! BUT everything is finally settling and the dust is clearing. My sister and I are having panic attacks because the apartment still isn’t perfect basically all moved in, and I plan to have some fun home projects up on the blog soon!

So that’s basically why I haven’t been writing. But I’m here! And I’m trying to get back up on the fitness horse (for the 9838472th time in my life), plan my meals better, and work on the blog! Writing has always been something that I love. My mom called me a few weeks ago and asked why I hadn’t been writing, and I mentioned how I was feeling. She told me I just sounded “heavy,” which I thought was a funny choice of words even though she didn’t mean it that way! It made me realize that if I am letting this weight slump affect my life and my outlook so much, the only way to fix it is to take some control and get back at it.

This summer I really hope to focus on getting exercise and taking care of myself. I went through a pretty long phase in life of pushing myself to be this perfect image I could never live up to, working out twice a day at times and counting every single calorie, measuring every single bite. I look good in pictures from that time, but there was an underlying stress and source of needing to look that way, much of which was for someone else. Then, I let go of all that and really found myself in a happier mental and emotional place, but lost my fitness priorities in the process. So now I’m heavier, but happier. And my goal is to find a happiest place in the middle where I physically feel good, enjoy putting outfits together again, and the doctor tells me my health is just right. You know, a happy place where I don’t get out of breath going up the flight of stairs to my new apartment! This isn’t about being skinny. It’s about being able to enjoy life more, which for me means moving more and being able to fit back into some of my favorite clothes! We only have one life, and I want to make mine last as long as I can so I can spend it with the ones I love.

So now you know – and now you know I am on a mission! Sometimes you need to put something out there to make it more real. So this is me, putting this out there. I am excited to start posting more again and to have more energy and optimism again. It’s time to take a page from my own book and MAXOUThappy…and it doesn’t hurt to have a new look on the blog to go with it 😉

Em’s macaroni and cheese

My sister is the kind of person who just throws things together from her mind and creates a delicious meal. I’m more Type A…the kind of person who needs a recipe to follow. Whether I choose to follow it exactly or add to it, I like knowing I have a base to work with.

My Nana has a famous macaroni and cheese, and this recipe has been honed over the years by my sister. I got her to help me write out the recipe for her amazing, decadent macaroni and cheese. I’m not joking when I say it is a labor of love, but so worth it. Everything’s really simple, but it is a little bit time-consuming.

Here it is! If you make it, you won’t be disappointed. It’s everything.

Ingredients

1 16oz. box macaroni noodles
1 8oz. container sour cream
Whole milk (about 1 cup)
3 eggs
1 16oz. box Velveeta cheese
1 large block cheddar cheese, hand grated (I used 2 8oz. blocks)
2 cans Campbell’s cheddar soup
2 sticks butter
salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder (to taste)

Instructions

1. You’ll need a greased casserole dish (I used butter). Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Mix the cheddar soup, 1/2-1 stick of butter, velveeta, and shredded cheese on the stove over low-medium heat.
3. Whisk eggs and sour cream separately in a small bowl.
4. Once the stovetop ingredients are fully melted and incorporated, remove from heat and stir in the egg/sour cream mixture.
5. Meanwhile, prepare the macaroni noodles. Once drained, stir in one stick of butter to melt.
6. Add sauce mixture to butter noodles, then add in salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste.
7. In the greased casserole dish, layer the grated cheese and cheesy macaroni noodles one at a time.
8. Before adding the last (top) layer of grated cheese, pour whole milk over the entire casserole dish up to the top of the noodles (you’ll see it float up; I used about a cup of milk).
9. Add the last layer of cheese and bake at 350 for about 35-45 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown spots form on the top of the cheese.
10. Eat and enjoy!

macaroni 1
macaroni 3
macaroni 2
macaroni 4

Notes:  Take the time to hand grate the cheese! It really does make a difference. In a pinch, you can use store-bought shredded cheese, but it won’t be quite the same. The sour cream and egg mixture adds a delicious taste and gooey-ness to the casserole. Finally, when you’re adding all the first ingredients to the pot on the stove, do not add the Velveeta first, as it tends to burn easily. Start with the Campbell’s, then butter, grated cheese, and finally, add the Velveeta in small chunks.

Happy baking!