The Fourth Summer of the Traveling Fro-Yo

Although it was only last summer that an insurmountable number of self-serve frozen yogurt chains began popping up throughout the KC metro area, B and I have been following the trend since the summer of 2008. Yes, this is one of those times when dropping the line “We have family in LA” is again relevant.

Three summers ago, I was un-officially instated as a member of B’s family with a trip to visit his dad’s family in California. And, while the traffic and the cost of living will keep us from ever moving there ourselves, we did find one reason to seriously consider it as an option: Yogurtland.

We stumbled across the eatery one evening at a mall near B’s grandparents’ house in Downey, CA. Filling our cups to the brim with 5+ flavors of yogurt and 7+toppings each, our grand total came to about $52,000. But even spoonful of melt-in-your-mouth, run-down-your-chin, yogurty goodness was worth it. The experience may have been enhanced by the fact that it was the first 15 minutes we’d spent alone in the past 10 days; vacays with the fam can be taxing (especially when you’re meeting 15 new family members each day!), and sliding into 16 oz. of frozen dessert was the perfect way to drown my worries.

Immediately upon returning to the Midwest, we googled the nearest Yogurtland, and were acutely disappointed to discover that the one we’d visited was just about it. Those people in CA really are ahead of the game…

Well, as you know, we are no longer living yogurt-less. B and I were beyond thrilled when an Orange Leaf went in close to my parents’ house in the KC area. Then, self-serve delicacies were rapidly appearing at every corner–almost literally. (I just used my Google Places app and found 12 with-in a five mile radius of our apartment.) After once consuming fro-yo four subsequent nights, B and I were forced to instate a once-a-week rule.

And, although it’s not exactly a guilt-free dessert, the low-fat and fat-free fro-yo is a healthier choice than ice cream. A four-oz. scoop of Baskin-Robbins chocolate ice cream weighs in at 260 calories and 14 grams of fat. A “Like It” chocolate ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery contains 320 calories and 20 grams of fat (must be why it’s so good!). Even their “Sinless Sans Fat Sweet Cream” racks up 170 calories (okay, that’s really not bad–and it’s so delicious!). But Orange Leaf markets this creamy goodness that clocks in at only 152 calories for a four-oz. serving of chocolate, with only 4 grams of fat. Whoa! Of course, my favorite toppings (chocolate-covered raisins and cookie dough bites) add a couple hundred on top of that.

(By the way, Orange Leaf has changed their website, and now, to see their nutrition information, you have to download their app. I’m a huge fan of fro-yo–clearly–but an app for dessert?? Well, I’m their newest subscriber, so we’ll see what they have to offer…)

Even more than the figure-friendly (thanks for the phrase, Rachael Ray) nutrition info, what I love about visiting these dessert establishments is the atmosphere. Have you ever noticed the smiles, the friendly greetings, and the over-all climate of a frozen yogurt store? I think it’s chemically impossible to be in a sour mood while enjoying this creamy treat.

No matter your taste in dessert, there’s something for everyone. Are you in the mood for sweet or fruity? Candy or granola? Everyone has their own technique for filling their bucket. Swirled or side-by-side? Evenly distributed toppings, or carefully separated atop each individual flavor?

B and I use frozen yogurt for all sorts of situations: date nights, celebrations, mood-boosters. And, every time, it brings me back to that first night in CA–a time when we were traveling together for the first time, meeting each other’s families, and just falling in love. Every time I remember again how that felt, and how lucky I am that three summers later, we’re still enjoying that creamy delicacy together.

My Second Half

During my little blogging hiatus, I reached an important personal milestone: my goal weight. However, in the process of obtaining this numerical value on the scale, I also learned a lot about my body, and realized what it actually  means to be healthy. Although I was thrilled to feel skinny and sexy on my wedding day, I was even more thrilled to be fit enough to dance all evening long in a heavy, heavy dress. I was even more thrilled to be able to enjoy 5-mile runs along the beach with my new husband on our honeymoon. And I was even more thrilled to be able to climb to the top of Diamond Head crater at breakneck speed.

I’m so grateful to be one of those rare “crazy” people who actually enjoys working out. Setting–and meeting!–a fitness goal is so motivating to me. And, although I find those numbers motivating (since beginning to work with my trainer, my body fat has decreased by eight percentage points), nothing compares to the sense of accomplishment that comes from picking up a larger dumbbell, running a faster mile, or completing my first unassisted pull-up.

So, what’s up next? you might ask. Well, I’ve taken the plunge and paid my $60 to register for the Waddell & Reed Kansas City Half-Marathon. Two summers ago, on June 6, 2009, I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon.

B was there to cheer me on

Last year, B ran his first half, while I chose to stick with the 10K.

A sweet reward after a sweaty run

This October, we’ll both be pounding the pavement on the course through downtown KC–although separately. The legs on B’s 6’1″ frame are a little too long for my 5’5.25″ pair. (Side note: Isn’t it funny how women always know their height to the quarter-inch??)

Yesterday was my first official day of training. My trainer helped me to come up with this  Half Marathon Training Plan, which allows me to adequately prepare for the race, yet still lift often enough to maintain my recent success in the weight room.

Although I’m not setting any specific goals for the race besides wanting to finish, it would be pretty cool to beat my time from 2009 (2:19). Also, a friend of mine who is an avid runner recently got me thinking a little more about age groups. In 2009 I was 81/98, so I feel as though I have room to improve there. (By the way, in self-defense, I’ve since been higher in the ranks, like 29/49 and 41/86.)

Anyway, wish me luck as I embark on this journey–just me and my new ASICS. Yeah, they’re pretty awesome.

Dinner for Six

Last night I hosted my first dinner party. (Not inclusive of the few times I made spaghetti for friends in college.) This was a true-to-form, used-real-plates, cooked-four-dishes, honest-to-goodness dinner party.

Fun fact about Katie: I began my college career as a journalism major, writing “full-time” for the campus newspaper. (I use quotes, because full time here implies writing two stories per week for minimum wage.) So, in honor of this tidbit of my personal history, let’s cover the ins-and-outs of this event.

THE WHO: My mom, my dad, my cousin, my husband, an ex-baby-sitting charge, and me.


Dinner Party Guests

THE WHAT: Asparagus & Tomato Salad (from Taste of Home Diet Cookbook), Fiber-ific Chicken Tenders (by Hungry Girl), Roasted Red Potatoes (by my hubby–you’ll have to ask him for that recipe), and Apple Crisp (recipe found below) with Edy’s Slow Churn Vanilla Ice Cream. After-dinner entertainment was a rousing game of Apples to Apples.

This salad is quickly becoming a staple in our household.

THE WHEN: Approx. 5:58pm – 8:57pm

THE WHERE: Our apartment

THE WHY: That’s a complicated story. But, basically, my wedding was a fabulous place for match-making.

THE HOW: We spent the later-afternoon cooking together.

"You're messing up my crumbs!"

"Are you sure we need this many apples?"

DE-BRIEFING: All in all, the dinner party was determined a success. Delicious (and healthy!) food was eaten, fun (and fascinating!) games were played. Oh, and we scored three bottles of wine. Sweet!

My Mom’s Magnificent Apple Crisp

lots of apples

1 stick margarine or 1/2 C margarine (this is the healthiest part)

1/2 C + 1/4 C Splenda (divided)

3/4 C flour


Core all the apples, and slice ’em up into small slices. Put sliced apples in a 9 in. x 9 in. pan or maybe a pie pan. Either one will work. These apples should be mounded up over the top. Apples really cook down. Sprinkle 1/4 C Splenda and some cinnamon on top.

For the topping, combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor. It should create a crumbly topping. Or, if it’s not crumbly (like mine was), crumble it with your fingers as you top the apples.

Bake at 450 for ten minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the top starts to look browned. I like to leave it a little gooey still.

A Lived-In Living Room

I want to share with you a couple of updates we’ve made to our apartment over the past three months. For some before-before pictures, check out this old post.

This week, I accomplished something I’d been thinking about since before we even moved. Residing in our living room is my couch from college. It’s actually a couch I inherited from an older roommate, and I’m pretty sure she had inherited it as well. I’m really not sure of this couch’s origins, but let’s just say that it is showing it’s scars. As a matter of fact, I just looked through all of my pictures, and could not find a single picture of this couch in its original state. This means that never once did I find it at all suitable, even for a post-AYCD night picture in college.

However, it’s a couch. And we need a couch. And would prefer not to buy one (yet). So, I gave it a makeover.

The first thing I did was buy this super-cute slipcover from Target’s Simply Shabby Chic line. However, when I tried to stuff the back cushions under the slip cover, it looked like… well, I can’t think of a PC description, so we’ll just say I was not a fan. I knew I needed new cushions, and decided I could easily make them myself. You see, back in the day, I had a business. Yes, the year was 1995, and I spent the summer selling homemade Beanie Baby beds on the corner. Every afternoon, I would wheel my red wagon filled with little pillows and sleeping bags down the neighborhood street, and do business with the community Beanie Baby fans. And, because I know you were wondering, yes, they did come in sizes (regular and teenie).

Due to all of this pillow-stitching and -stuffing experience, I felt confident in my ability to make new couch cushions. All summer I’ve been planning this in my mind–looking at fabric, pricing European pillows, and playing with color combinations. Through the planning, it seemed as though the pillows themselves would run about $20 a piece (and I needed five of them), then it would take about 2 yards of fabric per pillow, not to mention the fact that I’d need to coerce my mom into helping me set up and thread her serger (which is a pain in the *&@). Plus, in all honesty, I had to admit that the likelihood of my actually creating five pillow shams successfully was slim-to-none, meaning I’d need to splurge on at least four extra yards of back-up fabric.

However, I was determined. Until I went to Bed Bath & Beyond, found the pillows on sale for $10, and shams on clearance for $5. I bought three of those, and splurged on two fancier accent pillows, thereby transforming our couch.

I am so excited about our “new couch” because it has really transformed our living room. Check out the difference between our living room in April, and our current room.

The difference a few small changes have made in our living room

You will also notice the addition of the shelves and picture frame above the couch, and the new curtains. This isn’t the greatest picture of the curtains, but I love that they tie the green and creamy-white of the couch with the blue of the arm chair. Oh, and then there are the candles in the fireplace, which I love. They’re just there for the summertime; with these 100+ degree heat indices, we really have not been wanting any fires.

I need some advice on another aspect of this room, and this is where you come in.

We have this huge empty space above the fireplace. And while I fully intend to paint soon, which will diminish slightly the glaring-white effect, I need to put something there. I originally pictured a big, round, ornate mirror. Maybe with some rustic-looking swirly-ness around the outside. But, at the same time, that seems a little overdone. Anyone have a more creative idea?

A Wedding Whirlwind

Now that I’m back in the blogging world, let’s rewind and recap the big event on June 11. You’ll remember our long to-do list (that did all get done!), the vendors we worked with, the wedding nightmares, our DIY projects, banners, centerpieces, and favors, as well as the invitations, and the rings. Well, I’m happy to report that it all went according to plan. Literally. It all went perfectly. I’m not sure what percentage of that was my stellar planning skills, and how much was
just pure luck, but the day could not have been any better.

The weekend actually began on Thursday night, when out-of-town guests started to arrive. I remember being somewhat surprised when we walked into B’s
parents’ house for dinner that evening and a large group of his California relatives were there. Wow!I thought. This is it! This is actually happening! Somehow, seeing these relatives made me realize the reality of
the situation. And it only got better. I can honestly say that was the best part of the weekend–getting to see friends and family that we visit with so infrequently all there together to celebrate our big day.

I’m fairly certain that we had one of the biggest rehearsals ever to happen at GCPC. Since so much of our family was in town, they pretty much all showed up at the church, whether or not they actually had a role in the wedding.

The dinner was wonderful. Since we had originally wanted to have Spin! Pizza for our rehearsal dinner (long story…), the chef at the Doubletree agreed to go off their regular catering menu and whip up some flatbread pizzas for our party. Complemented with toasted rav, chicken fingers, fruit, and cookies, our “finger food” rehearsal dinner turned out fabulously.

Brandon’s mom did these centerpieces–don’t they look great? And now we have a plethora of bud vases left over. Good thing they’re en vogue.

We used some time at the dinner to thank our wedding party and our parents. These gorgeous flower arrangements were done by our florist in these gorgeous vases from Macy’s.

Our flower girls (all four of them!) got T-shirts from that say “I’m in Charge of the Petals”, and our ring bearer’s says “I’m in Charge of the Rings”. The shirts are personalized with their names and the date. We even customized the hair color of the little character on the shirt. They turned out super-cute.

I gifted my bridesmaids with monogrammed tote bags from L.L. Bean (no longer available, but similar to these), as well as bedazzled “bridesmaid” t-shirts. And Brandon gave his groomsmen each a nice bottle of sustenance for the weekend.

That night, a bunch of our friends and cousins hung out at The Other Place. We love this group picture of so many of our favorite people at one of our favorite bars.

As I already mentioned, everything came together for a perfect wedding day. I feel so blessed that I remembered my earrings, got my hair done on time, and actually showed up to the wedding–all nightmares I was scared would come true.

Mom was the best at lacing up my dress. I’d say “Pull tighter!” and she’d yank and pull until I could hardly breathe. (My MOH did have to loosen it after dinner.)

These next few pictures are from our Private Reveal.

And these next couple show proof–we did it! We’re married!

Our one bad wedding decision? Birdseed. After being pelted with those hard little orbs, I had birdseed wedged in every crease and crevice of my dress, glued in the hairspray in my up-do, and even down my dress, staining the skin of my stomach. Oh, and I forgot to mention that somebody didn’t even open the bag first. Yeah, really…

In the end, our centerpieces turned out great, the Dairy Queen ice cream cake was a huge hit, my DIY banners and place cards were bright and colorful.

So, there it is folks. Our wedding in a whirlwind of a blog post. Don’t worry–it was that much of a whirlwind for me, too. Last night, we finished our last batch of thank-you notes (I know, we took a little too long. Sorry, Miss Manners.), and I completed making our 75-page wedding album on Shutterfly. Those were the last of our wedding-related tasks to be completed, so I guess it’s officially over.

The good news is that now I’ll be one of those women who, looking back over the years, will be able to say, “Our wedding was perfect. It was the happiest day of my life.” And I’ll really mean it.

P.S. We purchased the rights to all of our photographs from RVR Photography, but I’d still like to offer them kudos and a huge THANK YOU for the beautiful images. Not all of these in this post are theirs, but some are.

My First Lesson in Marriage

I’m happy to report that we’ve made it through 5 1/2 weeks of marriage. Life doesn’t feel too different, except for the fact that I now introduce B as “my husband”, which takes some getting used to. Not that I expected it to be any different, but I would liken getting married to celebrating a milestone birthday. There was no overnight change in our relationship, just as there’s never any overnight aging realized the morning of a birthday. As a matter of fact, the morning after our wedding, we headed back to our apartment from the honeymoon suite at the Doubletree. We opened the door, dropped our bags, and looked at each other. “Well, I’m going to take a shower,” I said. “I think I’ll start a load of laundry,” B said. And we went about our business.

However, even after dating for four years before getting married, I’m learning things about B that I didn’t know before. I knew that B was a naturally cleaner person that I am. My first clue into this reality was once when I was helping him clean his old room, and he assigned me the task of dusting the power cords. Who does that?? So, although I had fair warning, I’m not sure I realized the extent of B’s cleanliness.

Let me paint you a picture. I wake up in the morning, stumble out of bed, generally to the bathroom or to the kitchen for a glass of water. By the time I return, B has made the bed and placed his neatly-folded pajamas on top of his pillow. Then, we head into the kitchen where I make a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, and settle into the couch to watch GMA. B finishes eating his Cheerios and Bagelthin, jumps up, and washes his dish and my bowl before the first commercial break. “I’m happy to do my dishes, babe,” I say. “I know, but I don’t mind!” he answers. However, I’m beginning to realize that it’s more his not being able to stand my dirty bowl sitting on the coffee table in front of me for the next half hour than anything else. After B leaves for work, I usually hit the gym and run some errands. When I return home, usually in the early afternoon, B has been home for lunch, emptied the dishwasher, started a load of laundry, and put away his clean clothes from the day before. Wow!

Don’t misread my commentary. This is certainly not a fault of my hubby’s. I LOVE that he helps around the house and is so organized. The “problem”, if you can even call it that, is that this talent so does not come naturally to me. It never has. Growing up, the cleanliness and organization of my room was a constant battle between my parents and me. They tried to help, and tried to instill a sense of responsibility when it came to the subject–but it just didn’t work. In this post I touched on the fact that my mom was never really into the stereotypical home-making or home-decorating. And, although I want to have a clean, inviting home, I truly just do not know how to make it that way.

Instead of feeling inadequate about this (which I totally do), I’m trying to view this as something I can learn from B. After all, there are many, many (MANY!) things he can learn from me 🙂