Strawberry Cheesecake Bites

I got the idea for this recipe off of Facebook, which probably came from Pinterest which looks like it came from this awesome food blog. The original recipe was for cherry cheesecake bites and I thought, “That looks easy! I can totally make that!”  and filed it away under my “recipe” folder in my Gmail inbox. We’re having a good-bye party for my friend at work (she’s moving on to bigger and better and I wish her all the luck in the world!) and I figured I would test out this dessert recipe.

After searching three different grocery stores for cherries, I finally realized that it’s not cherry season and decided to go for the next best fruit, strawberries! I bought a 5lb crate of strawberries, plus another 2lb crate – had to make sure I had more than enough. I also wanted to make these somewhat low-fat (shhh, don’t tell me coworkers!) so I purchased low-fat cream cheese and low-fat graham crackers. To be honest, I can’t tell the difference, they taste just as heavenly, without all the calories!

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Ingredients!

I do not have the luxury of owning a mixer nor a food processor so everything I had to mix, or crush, I did by hand. By all means, if you have the tools, use them! If not, you’ll get a good arm workout before eating these yummy (yet low-fat) treats!

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They may not look pretty but they are delicious!

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the tray

When I make these again, I will probably change a few things:
– Dry the strawberries after you wash them, the cheesecake filling tends to stick better.
– The first tray I did, I scooped the filling onto a spoon then tried to put it on the strawberry. I then found that dipping the strawberry in the filling and then spreading it out with your fingers worked best.
– Don’t sprinkle the crushed graham crackers onto the strawberry, dip the strawberry into the bowl, filling side down.

These things are highly addicting, so remember to share so you don’t eat them all yourself! Enjoy!

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I am not a runner

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”

I am not a runner.

I can run and will run for a good workout, however, I do not classify myself as a runner. Ever. Yes, I’ve done a few 5Ks and will run a few miles during the week but that’s just to spruce up my workouts; help break up the constant HIIT cardio and strength training that make up the majority of my gym time. I don’t find myself pushing myself during a run and I don’t feel as successful afterwards like I do after a really good cardio workout or lifting session. In order for me to feel successful, I need to feel a burn and I need to sweat (a lot).

My fitness goals differ from those of a runner. I don’t run for distance or for time, I run for fun and for clarity. I like to run when I’m stressed out and need to clear my mind; where the only things I want to hear are my iPod and my feet hitting the pavement. I prefer to run outside, not on a treadmill, otherwise I get bored and my mind wanders, counting down the minutes until I can stop. Sometimes I’ll run with a friend, which makes the time go by much faster and makes the workout more enjoyable, at least for me, but this isn’t very often as I feel I’m interfering with their running training.

Last week, when I first heard about the Boston Bombings, my heart bled for those marathoners. As a person who loves to push my fitness limits, I can sympathize with those who were there, especially the runners who didn’t get to finish the race. All their training, all their hard work, dieting and eating right, all the weeks/months of anticipation for this race to just be stopped midway through due to 2 brother terrorists. It’s not fair. For the runners who had already crossed the finish line, some for the first time, some for the 50th time, this was a moment of jubilation and to have that triumphant feeling ripped from them is dishonorable and immoral. But… everyone on the face of the earth (except the terrorists… and apparently the Westboro Baptist Church) know this. But as it always does, good has overcome evil and because of this, Boston is stronger than it ever was.

I’m not a runner, but for Boston I will train harder and give my workouts all I have… because they deserve it.

A Very Purple Bridal Shower

“Here’s to the groom with bride so fair and here’s to the bride with groom so rare!”

My little sister is getting married. 38 days till the “I do’s” and a lifetime of marital bliss. As maid-of-honor, I’ve been there every step of the way for the planning, hand-holding and consoling a very excited, yet nervous, bride-to-be. Thankfully, my sister only has her bridezilla moments and isn’t a constant terror, however, this made it extremely difficult to plan her surprise bridal shower.

I’m going to be honest, I am definitely a maid-of-honor on a budget and tried to save money where ever I could for this shower. Plus, with the bridal party being comprised of me, one other bridesmaid, two junior bridesmaids and a flower girl, most of the burden of planning was placed on my shoulders. I consider myself a smart thrifty shopper, always finding deals and making bargains, so I knew if I was able to plan ahead, I’d be able to get the most bang for my buck. I cut costs on the invitations by designing them myself (with help from a co-worker) and having a friend print them for me on nice paper at her work (which she was allowed to use). I only had to buy envelopes ($5) and 3 books of stamps ($29). I was also able to use the same template from the invitation for the thank you cards by replacing the 5 W’s for the invitation with the words “Thank You” for the thank you cards. Another corner cut.

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The Mother-In-Law graciously opened her house for our use and insisted on cooking all of the food. We also asked guests to bring platters (if they wanted!), as well. This helped me save a ton of money considering we invited over 60 people and restaurants and caterers around the area were charging at least $17 per person.

One of my really good friends does cake baking on the side (as a stress reliever) so I had asked her to create a purple bridal shower cake. Honestly, my breath was taken away when she pulled up to the house on the day of the shower with the cake in hand. It turned out better than I could have ever imagined and it was definitely one of the focal points of the shower. It also tasted delicious – I think even better than a cake I would’ve ordered at a bakery. I will definitely be using her again… I get a great cake, she gets to relieve some stress, it’s a win-win!

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The favors were another place I was able to save money. My cousins and I made little poporn bags to take home. First of all, I love Pinterest for giving me this idea. My cousin bought the paper bags and kernels and in one afternoon we stuffed and folded the little popcorn bags and tied it together with twine. I was then able to create the label and little instructions and my boyfriend helped me cut them out and tape them to the bags. They turned out so cute, however, I made way too many. The saying on the label: “Thank you for popping in and celebrating Alyssa & Nick’s corny love! For Butter or For Worse”

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I am so thankful that my 2 cousins stepped up to help me pull off a beautiful bridal shower for my sister. Without their help, I don’t think this shower would’ve been pulled off as successfully as it had. They were the ones I was able to turn to when I had no idea what to do next or would become overwhelmed with planning.

Of course, no shower is complete without games, which I was able to create and print off myself. The other bridesmaid created the pieces for an awesomely hilarious game called “Who has the Groom” (another Pinterest find) and was a huge hit with shower guests. I wish I had taken a photo of the “grooms” but with all the commotion I forgot… but I will say that Ronnie from the Jersey Shore (complete with his gold chain) had to be the best one. We also played “How Well Do You Know The Bride” which was also hysterical. Just a note, my sister’s favorite color is not purple, as her wedding would suggest, it’s pink. My cousin created a mad-lib for “Marital Advice” – some answers were definitely not kid-appropriate! I had created 2 other games, Bridal Shower Bingo and the Purse Game, however, my sister’s fiancé got her to the shower 30 minutes later than planned so we had to cut things out in order to get all the guests fed and presents opened (the only thing that was wrong with the whole day, which wasn’t even that big of a deal).

All in all, the shower was a huge success. We were actually able to surprise my sister (something I was a little skeptical of being able to do) and Alyssa received a ton of gifts for her and Nick to start their new lives together. It was a day full of fun, laughter and most of all, love. Just being able to see my sister’s face light up was enough for me and I’m so thankful that my sister has such a loving family and is being welcomed into another loving family.

My little sister is getting married. We only have 38 days till she walks down that aisle. I better get my tissues ready.