Happy Birthday, Meghan!

Today, my middle sister turns 31.

Happy birthday to (one of) my favorite sister(s)!!!!!

I’m so blessed to have you as family…and a friend!

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Totally normally

Cheers to you, Meghan!


Scenes from a weekend: Breakfast, Beer & Cigar Box Guitars

Happy Tuesday!

Hope you all had a great weekend, I certainly did!

I snuck away to visit the family in Horseheads, NY and let me say, it was so fun (even though Farmer Ben was missing)!

Anyway, here is a brief peek inside my trip… I was a terrible blogger and didn’t take as many pictures as I should have.
I did manage to remember to take pictures at the Horseheads Brewing Co., great beers, great staff. If you are in the area, try the ” hot chocolate,” a mix of their jalapeño ale and chocolate porter!

That’s all for today! Enjoy!

Photos:
Dinner and dessert, my brother-in-law’s latest craft-cigar box guitars!, Horseheads brewing company randoms and more eats.

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Love and Meatballs

Hi friends!

I don’t know about you, but I am getting sick of this snow! Getting to work was a bit rough this morning (luckily Farmer Ben drove me).

Life has been crazy and I’ve been a bad blogger-my apologies!

In other news, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Doing anything special? We don’t normally do much, but I couldn’t resist doing something cheesy….So, I sent the hubby a meatball pizza at work….meatballs in a heart shape.

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He loved it! I’m so glad, because he’s pretty great… and he got to share the love with his coworkers!

That’s all for today… Have a great weekend!

Best Valentine you’ve given? Received?!


“A List for Last Year,” A FINAL Update on 2013.

Oh hey! It’s officially 2014… I won’t get used to writing/typing 2014 until June…but it’s fine…

Anyway, I figured I should give you all one last look at how my 2013 goals were accomplished. I’ll keep it short and sweet, I promise!

Enjoy!

Noelle’s (Re-Re-Updated) List of Things to do before December 31, 2013:

1. Create a logo for the blog and go self-hosted.

Fail. That’s all.

2. Excel in my job.

I think for the most part, I do my job pretty darn well, but I’m still learning a lot… so I’ll call this one about 85%…..

3. Make 2013 a “Yes!” year/7. Be more present.

Yes. I killed this one.

5. Take more time to read.

Again, killed it.

4. Run a half marathon/6. Run 26.2 miles.

Half Marathon-I still haven’t raced it…but I’ve run it.

Marathon-Done.  So we’ll call this even.

8. Pay off at least one big bill–Get better about saving money.

Didn’t happen… 2013 was the year of random things that come up and shot our budget to Hades AND realizing that we really need an emergency fund.

2014 will be the year of actually having an emergency fund (We’re 75% of the way to our EF goal!) and being able to handle those budget killers.

On the plus side, I upped my 401k contribution and Farmer Ben started his retirement fund at work in 2013…so it wasn’t all bad!

9. Do 100 Burpees in a row.

Nope…. I can probably do about 30 without stopping…maybe 40 if I am feeling like a boss.

10. Do more food-ing.

Absolutely! Done.

Told you that it would be short and sweet… I’d say I did well… granted, I failed miserably at two of my goals…but I definitely learned something from most of these challenges. And of the few that I didn’t accomplish, we are better prepared for them this year.

2013 was a good year, but 2014 will be better… I’ve got big plans for this year and can’t wait to fill you in along the way!

Now it’s your turn! How did you do with your goals for 2013? Anything you’re still struggling with? OR, do you have any advice for 2014?! Let me know! 


“What is my expertise?” or The Art of Photo-Bombing Part III

Hi Friends!

Today’s #elf4health challenge is to “share my expertise.” Obviously, because I’m a Renaissance Woman, this is hard. I’m really good at many things, such as tripping up stairs, running into furniture, jam sessions while driving, spilling stuff all over myself and rocking second-day hair, but I didn’t think any of these were what Elle & Lindsay had in mind.

I tossed around a few other ideas.

I love to eat…bake and cook, weird things, especially… and add whiskey to cookies (or everything)…. but I’ve told you all about that before.

So, back to the drawing board I went… and I came up with something really good–and super useful–to share with all of you and my fellow elves.

Photo-bombing.

Yes. I am a not-so-secret photobombing expert. I realize that I’ve already written two posts on this, but what can I say? it’s kind of a big deal. AND, what better time of year to ruin carefully planned photo sessions with your loved ones than Christmas/New Year’s parties???

So, here is Noelle’s Notebook’s Photo-Bombing Refresher Course:

1. Pick your victims.

We all know THAT person. You know, the person who HAS to take the perfect photo… they need to stand “just so,” to hide their muffin top or do 2341354134135245 retakes until they finally look better than all other parties in the photo. OR, they have to document EVERYTHING (seriously, do you need to take a picture of Uncle Charlie eating a piece of celery?).

This person is almost always the one I pick…probably because sometimes I am that person (Farmer Ben can attest to this).

2. Plan your entrance.

Depending on the location, I have a few different approaches… at a party, I like to casually dance up behind the subject of the photo–slide to the left, you know? If the subject is sitting down, I prefer the walk-by… OR, I just quietly creep into the background. Your photographer is key to this step because if they so much as let out a chuckle, your cover is blown.

3. Find your motivation.

Are you the photo-bomber who tries to go unnoticed with the blank stare? Or do you go big–arms, eyes and all? I am typically  the “make the most horrendous face possible” girl, but to each their own. The important thing is, once you figure out what you’re going for, you have to commit…

There’s no turning back in photo-bombing–you only have seconds to ruin the perfect photo.

4. Escape.

Find the quickest way to flee once the camera flashes…this could be as simple as turning around with a sweet spin move, or as complicated as leaping over a couch. Just remember to plan ahead and act natural.

5. Have fun.

This one should be obvious but sometimes we forget. I realize that photo-bombing is serious business–Just remember why you’re doing it and the fun will follow.

Finally, because I love this photo so much, here is my finest photo-bombing moment (thus far):

He never saw me coming...

He never saw me coming…

To read Photo-Bombing Part I, click here.

To read Photo-Bombing Part II, click here.

Let’s chat! Are you an expert at anything? Discuss. What are some of your favorite photo-bombing techniques? OR are you a victim? Share your story.


To Farmer Ben

Today is a special day. You were born.

Happy birthday to an amazing husband, best friend and soul mate. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to share my life with. Cheers to the youngest 31-year-old I have the pleasure of knowing!

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I love you!

This year’s birthday celebrations will be low-key. We’ll be enjoying some of Farmer Ben’s favorites: Mac & cheese, homemade cake and some vino…or beer.

Feel free to give the hubs a birthday shout-out in the comments!


Oh Hey!

Just stopping in real quick to say Happy Thanksgiving! Have a safe and happy holiday and be blessed!

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“A List for the New Year,” an(other) Update.

Oh hey! It’s October 18, 2013.  I figured I owe you all a second update on how my 2013 To-Do list is going.

So, here you are! Enjoy!

Noelle’s (Re-Updated) List of Things to do before December 31, 2013:

1. Create a logo for the blog and go self-hosted.

Not gonna lie, STILL haven’t done this… however, I have gotten some ambassadorships that are pretty awesome and feel like I’m moving in the right direction. (you guys get 25% with my code for Energy Bits!)

I also finally broke down and got Twitter and Instagram… not that I know how to use them very well, but it’s all about networking, right? (usernames for both are NoellesNotebook if you’d like to give a follow!)

I’d love to know what you, readers, would like to see content wise…I realize that this space has morphed into a different animal from what I originally intended it to be… but I’m okay with that… however, I want to keep it interesting for all of you…so I’d love your feedback!

2. Excel in my job.

Confession: I struggle with this one.

I feel like my “promotion” has transformed into something else… my time is filled up with special projects that seem to take over what I’m actually supposed to be doing. And honestly, I have days (or months) where I just wonder how I am supposed to get everything done…  Does anyone else have this problem?

My boss tells me I’m doing well, but some days, I really have trouble believing that….but I just keep on going and I’m hoping that counts for something.

To be completely honest, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this particular aspect of my life, what’s to come of it, and what not.

3. Make 2013 a “Yes!” year/7. Be more present.

I’m killing this one.

  • Strides for James was amazing–we had over 200 participants and raised over $5,000 after expenses. We were able to reach our scholarship goal in less than a year and someone in our community is already benefitting from our group’s hard work.
  • Farmer Ben won tickets to a Red Sox game. We went and loved it.
  • The Hubby and I were in the bridal party/catered our friends’ wedding. Not gonna lie, it was exhausting but worth it.
  • We got to do some hiking this summer! I cannot tell you how happy this made me!
  • Just starting a new online class today.
  • Farmer Ben and I just returned from a kick-ass road-trip and are craving more adventures. We drove to St. Simons Island, Georgia, then headed up to Charleston, South Carolina. I am ready to move there!
  • On our road-trip, we ate Barbecue for 3 days. I’m not even a little ashamed.
  • Ben finally got to meet my good friend Natasha who lives in DC and we visited (and by visited, I mean had a couple of drinks and crashed on her floor before getting up ridiculously early and hitting the road again) Liz–FINALLY! I even got to show him my old apartment.
  • Also on our trip, we spent the night on a sail boat-a first for me!
  • I also ran my first marathon.
  • Spent more time with family
Catamount Mountain, August 2013

Catamount Mountain, August 2013

I think those are all of the big ones, but honestly, I feel so blessed this year with all of the adventures we’ve had and I am wondering what’s next!

As far as spending less time on my phone, I’ve absolutely cut down on this. I deactivated my Facebook account and haven’t looked back. I may re-activate it when I get back into the heart of planning Strides for James 2014… but for now, I am content to be in the dark about what that girl who was in my gen ed class, freshman year is doing. I’m learning to appreciate those around me and treasuring the time with people I don’t see every day.

Any suggestions to continue my “Yes” Year?!

5. Take more time to read.

Yes. Doing this.

I won’t bore with the entire list, but these are my favorites I’ve read this year (Not gonna lie, it looks almost exactly like the list in my last update):

  • My Bible
  • all three Hunger Games Books (twice)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire
  • Garlic and Sapphires
  • The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet’s Nest
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Born to Run
  • Eat & Run
  • The Dirty Life
  • The Beautiful & Damned

Any other reading suggestions?

4. Run a half marathon/6. Run 26.2 miles.

Half Marathon-I’ve run the distance but haven’t raced it. Can we call this one even? I may look for a race in the next month or two… just to check it off the list, but I won’t be heartbroken if I don’t get that race in.

Marathon-Done. One of the most difficult and worthwhile things I have ever accomplished… and I’m already planning to do another!

I did it!

I did it!

8. Pay off at least one big bill–Get better about saving money.

I’m getting closer.

9. Do 100 Burpees in a row.

I still haven’t been working on my burpees.

10. Do more food-ing.

Absolutely!

I definitely went on a vegan recipe kick after reading Eat & Run. I’ve also been experimenting more with using different ingredients, especially when I was training for the marathon, I had to get creative with pre/during race foods because of some digestion issues.

We’ve also made an effort to eat at home more this year…and when we traveling, we try to eat at a local restaurant.

Roasted beets, cukes, lettuce, beet greens, tomatoes, carrots and homemade horseradish avocado dressing.

Roasted beets, cukes, lettuce, beet greens, tomatoes, carrots and homemade horseradish avocado dressing.

So, there you have it. I’d say for the most part, I’m doing pretty well…I definitely see areas where I can improve, but I am happy for now.

Now it’s your turn! How are you doing with your goals? Anything you’re struggling with? OR, do you have any advice to help me out?! Let me know! 


Scenes from a Long Weekend-Part III

So, I’ve already told you about the Farm 2 Fork Festival and dinner with the family, but I haven’t yet filled you in on the rest of the weekend.

Ben’s sister and niece were also in the area this weekend. So, on Sunday, after church and a quick lunch, we met them just outside of Lake Placid bearing some of the best local cuisine…Clare and Carl’s Michigans (just google it).

After leaving my car parked on the side of the road, we headed up Whiteface Mountain…although I’ve lived in the North Country for quite some time, I’d never actually made this trip before, so I was pretty excited… unfortunately, I didn’t really think too far ahead and was not wearing the best outfit for being on top of a mountain ( a cotton dress and a pair of slip-ons)…luckily, I had a zip-up in my car.

Anyway, we drove up the mountain slowly, stopping to take a few pictures along the way…

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When we reached the top and found a parking spot, we took the elevator to the top of the mountain (!!!!) and looked around…then we walked/hiked down to the castle and enjoyed our Michigans before hitting the road again.

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Although it was a quick trip, it was really great to catch up and enjoy the view from the top.

After we got back to the car, Ben and I decided to head into Lake Placid to wander around, with a pit-stop for root beer floats.

Overall, it was a pretty awesome weekend and we are both thankful for the quality time spent with family.

How was your labor day? What’s your favorite local food? Ever taken an elevator to the top of a mountain?


Scenes from a Long Weekend-Part II: Garden Eats

In my last post, Dad, Eileen, Gary and I were in Saranac Lake getting our local food on… I managed to pick up a few goodies….

My new addiction...

My new addiction…

 

I have a weakness for goat cheese....

I have a weakness for goat cheese….

After bringing Farmer Ben a surprise coffee, I took Gary and my Dad for a long walk on a bike path by the lake. It was hot…and sticky.

I then rushed home to clean-up and make some more delicious eats….

Here is what I whipped up….

Avocado-Tomato Bruschetta

Bruschetta... under a mountain of parmesan

Bruschetta… under a mountain of parmesan

What you’ll need:

  • 1 baguette…preferably local
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling on bread
  • 2 large tomatoes (or 3-4 small-medium)
  • 15 fresh basil leaves (approximately)
  • 1 tbsp. or a splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Mince garlic.
  • Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, add garlic. Stir…cook garlic until it softens-do NOT let burn. This won’t take long. Pour garlic and oil into a metal mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Chop/dice tomatoes (this will be depend on how big you want your chunks to be–side note: chunks is not an appetizing word.) Add to mixing bowl with garlic and oil. 
  • Also, if you don’t want soupy bruschetta, drain some of the juices before adding to bowl.
  • Chop basil. (tip: stack some leaves on top of each other, roll them length-wise and slice into thin strips) Add to mixing bowl.
  • Add in remaining balsamic, salt and pepper and stir. Set aside
  • Slice baguette on the diagonal into 1/4 -1/2 inch slices. Place on baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  • Place in oven and let brown. Meanwhile, dice up your avocado and add to the bruschetta mixture–do NOT do this until ready to serve.
  • Remove toasted baguette from oven and top with bruschetta mixture.

If you’re feeling extra naughty, grate some parmesan over the top.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Garden Delight Pasta

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(Or…trying to use up all the veggies on your counter/in the fridge pasta)

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta (I used angel hair)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion (or 1/2 a giant onion like I used…), diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped
  • 6 large kale leaves, sliced (I just ripped it up)
  • 2 large Swiss Chard Leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped (about 1-2 tbsp.)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (or, if you have leftover bruschetta mix, that will work too!)
  • 3 oz. goat cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  • Heat water for pasta and cook according to package
  •                  While your water is boiling….
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  • Add in onion, until it starts to soften.
  • Add in zucchini and eggplant, stirring occasionally, be careful not to let veggies stick/burn. Reduce heat to medium low. (This should take about 10-15 minutes, depending on your veggies/size of pan)
  • Add in Swiss chard and kale, cover and let wilt. Stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in cooked and drained pasta (it should be hot) and mix in remaining ingredients.

Remove from heat and Serve hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Favorite seasonal meal? How do you use up all of your leftover veggies? Goat cheese in pasta, yes or no?

Stay Tuned for Scenes…Part 3!