Friday Five: Friday Favorites

6 Mar

It’s time for the Friday Five! Today’s theme is “Friday Favorites” and I am linking up with Courtney of Eat Pray Run, DC, Cynthia of You Signed Up for What?!? and one of my fellow Pittsburgh Marathon Bloggers Mar from Mar on the Run, for their Friday Five adventure. Please check them out!

This week I really want to talk about food and fitness.  I started the 21 Day Fix over again this week and am really loving it this time.  I think there are a couple of reasons why….

1.) I have a great support system. 

The ladies in my 21 Day Support group are fantastic.  If I don’t post about my successes its like they didn’t happen.  I like being accountable to them and knowing that they know when I don’t get in my workout would make me feel guilty – so I don’t skip!

Even on snow days.  Surviving snow days has become a full time job! But getting this little cutie to workout with me, even in her jammies has been fun. She even brings me my towel and water during water breaks.  Love this kid.


2.) I understand the foods this time. 

I know I’m doing ok at staying on a plan.  It took me one full round of 21 Day Fix to really understand how much I can eat and exactly what to eat.  I’ve really found that I enjoy cooking healthy flavorful meals for our family.  I’ve used the Relay Foods Meal Planner to find recipes that are full of flavor, are kid friendly and recipes that are easy to follow.  This week I made the Tangerine, Apple and Celery Root salad with chicken that I served with the 21 Day Fix Lemon Vinaigrette dressing (that I have pinned on this Pinterest board).


 I was selected to be a Relay Foods Tastemaker and test out some of these recipes in the Relay Meal Planner.  If you are in the Baltimore & Annapolis Maryland, DC,  most of the cities in Virginia or Raleigh, NC areas, check out Relay Foods!  This is a grocery delivery company that works with local farmers and vendors to bring you local, organic foods.  Use this link to earn $30 off your first order of $50.  That’s $30 in free groceries, yo! (If you aren’t in those areas, still check out the meal plans for ideas!)

3.) I found a paleo gluten free bread I enjoy!

I missed bread. And peanut butter.  And sandwiches. I found this bread from The Great Low Carb Bread Co. Is it crusty amazing hot french bread I crave?  Nope.  Is it garlic breadsticks dipped in amazing olive oil.  Not even close.  Is this the solution I’ve been needing? ABSOLUTELY.  Don’t get me wrong, I can eat peanut butter on bananas, apples, celery, spoons.  I can eat a burger in a bowl or a lettuce wrap sub (Jimmy Johns, you and me, together 4ever?).  But sometimes you need some damn bread around your sandwich.  And I’m thankful for this bread. Their everything bagels are not gluten free but if you are eating low carb you MUST get these bagels.  You can find their entire line at Amazon.


4.)  Snow Days Really AREN’T the Worst

Ok. I lie.  Snow days aren’t my favorite, it throws me off schedule and everyone is getting cabin fever… but it’s ok.  I’m ahead of the laundry for the week.  I’m getting extra cuddle time with kiddos.  I don’t feel rushed.  I have had an extra lot of time to look at recipes and work on past due projects.  But OMG.  Let’s stop with the snow.  I am a total klutz and can’t run in this icy stuff and my training is suffering.  So, I’m thankful I have 21 Day Fix to workouts since I can’t do anything outside except shovel. While shoveling I realized some of the exercises are the same — wood chopper = snow throwing.  Ah functional fitness, I finally get you.

But seriously, I really need to get outside and run.  So, how about we all agree to have 3 day weekends every week, but  60 degree sunny weather for here on out.

5.) Running

Running, I no longer hate you.  I’m actually starting to love you.  You and me, we are good together.  I can’t wait to do you more (see #4).  If you are a runner, how did you start to stop being a fair weather runner?  Do you run no matter what?  Snow, rain, cold, sickness?  How do you do it?

What are your five favorites?  Do you like or not like snow days —- this answer probably depends on if you have kids!

Happy Friday.  Happy Weekend.

Sparkle on,


I would love to see you on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links.
While I earn commission or rewards if you purchase something,
the links do not affect the price you pay.
Thanks for supporting Us 4 Carters! 


24 Feb IMG_9212

This past summer we moved.  I love our townhouse in the city.  It’s perfect for us.


We really really have no counter space.  Between the microwave, the crockpot, the keurig and toaster oven I have zero space to food prep.  Therefore, for the past couple of months we’ve been on the lookout for an island and a sideboard.  We found two pieces recently at our local Habitat Store that worked just perfectly in the living room and we were able to move an old table into the kitchen as a “sideboard”. (I love love love that store!  If you have one near you – go!  You never know what you’re going to find.)

Having a place to put our coffee station and store all of the mugs and travel mugs works out perfectly.  At first I thought we’d put the microwave here, but I realized coffee is so much more important (and looks prettier, to be honest).  And look, Americans should be drinking more coffee!  Hallelujah!


This little station has made me swear off getting coffee except from at home.  It’s saved us a lot of money and I can make them just how I want at home.  With just the reuseable K CupAerolatte: Milk Frother, Cafe du Monde coffee, half and half, vanilla syrup and a microwave we’re able to make for the best cup of coffee.

While brewing the coffee of your choice (but Cafe du Monde is the best!) heat a 1/4 cup of half and half (or coconut milk, almond milk, whatever)plus two tablespoons of vanilla syrup (or Bailey’s, I won’t judge) for 30 seconds in the microwave. With your frother, whip the cream.  Pour gently into your coffee and serve.  Who needs Starbucks?

What’s your favorite way to enjoy your java?

Here’s to happy, warm, mornings!

Sparkle on,


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Spreading Sunshine

23 Feb



The kids have this really great book called The Flea’s Sneeze.  It’s a great book for kids because it’s silly and rhyme-y and helped both of them to become early readers.  (I’m not going to lie, it’s good for parents because it’s a fast read and you can get through the bedtime pretty quick.)  I’ve had a line stuck in my head from it the past few weeks:

On a dark, dark night
on an old, old farm
in a rickety crickety tumble-down barn…

I feel as though we’ve been stuck in that rickety crickety tumble-down barn these last few weeks.  I’m cold.  And rickety.  And flat-out unmotivated to blog or write or be a sunshine spreader.

There I said it.  I’m tired of being a sunshine spreader.  It’s just too cold to be a sunshine spreader, or someone who gets up at o’dark thirty to run by myself when my husband has the bed nice and warm and I don’t feel like getting out on training runs.

And then some sunshine came into my life on Wednesday along with some motivation. SOME LOVE in the form of an email.


ME?  Y’all picked ME!?!

I think I burst into tears and ran up the stairs and tossed my phone in DOC’s face so he could read this amazing email.  I cried.  I really really cried.  We were stuck in a snow storm with kids home from school on our unplowed roads in Central Virginia and I was feeling love from my home city to blog about my first ever 1/2 marathon training and running experience.

Thank you Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon!  Thank you to all the ladies who bragged about loved their experience last year that I was determined to even run this race and try to get noticed as a blogger.

Now that I’ve raised money to run as a Charity Runner for the National MS Society AND I’ve been selected as a blogger I’m really starting to freak out. QUIT SNOWING so I can go outside and run.  I don’t have a gym or a treadmill so I need to hit the streets.  So, mother nature, get it together.  In the meantime, I’ve been building my endurance and my core with Focus T25, eating on the 21 Day Fix plan and praying for less icy streets.  Warm husband in the bed or icy streets — I have got to start picking the icy streets.  #GameOnPGH, it’s time.





Here’s all the other bloggers if you want to go and show them some love as well!


Go forth and spread sunshine and get your sweat on!

Sparkle on,



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Sorry Dove – You Failed

23 Jan 10557191_10152330765092659_6314548243018542118_n

So… I have an issue. Sorry. It’s ranty. The reason I started Just Us 4 Carters in the first place was about how our biracial family is surviving in this world. What I found writing this blog is that I needed to have more confidence in myself in order for us to survive.  Yes, this blog has moved in a more wellness related tone, but I am still the Mom in Just Us 4 Carters and I need to vent.

A new ad is out there (that a lot of people think is really great and is good for some young ladies to hear).  All it did was make me feel like a failure. I think they forgot, what about the moms who don’t look like their daughters?

What I heard you saying, Dove, is that I can’t teach my daughter to have confidence in her hair because I have straight hair. So, please, all you curly haired people of the world, please come rally around our daughter and lift her up so she can feel good because I certainly can’t do that for her. Let me start to create a village of curly haired women to make my daughter feel better. 


Finding my sweet angel baby trying to brush her beautiful, curly freshly trimmed, washed and styled hair flat this morning because “it looks a mess and people will make fun of my curls” is making me want to hire her a security guard to protect her heart at school. When all I needed all along was a campaign ad to teach me that it’s MY fault because I have straight hair and just need to find her some curly haired role models to look up to and dance around her. Because me, her mother, just can’t do that for her.

All of my work on being a better role model and showing her my strength and confidence by loving myself STILL isn’t enough. I need to grow out my hair and get a perm. That’s the solution. Got it. THANKS.


"I know I'm Somebody cause God don't make no junk."

“I know I’m Somebody
cause God don’t make no junk.”


Love  you, where you are, for the person you are, inside and out.

Celebrate yourself and love yourself enough to give yourself the best.

Sparkle on,


I would love to see you on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Ready, Aim, Resolutions

22 Dec

I do not want you to set any resolutions for the new year yet.  Many people set goals in the days between Christmas and New Years and just expect on January 2nd to accomplish them. Most people fail.  Do not be that person again this year.

What I would love for you to do is to create a place where you will accomplish the goals you set for yourself this year.  Create a healthy happy space that will help you stay focused. We will set our goals later, but this week, when you’re drinking your wine and wrapping all the presents hidden in a closet so nobody will catch you – I want you to start thinking and dreaming about what your future might start to look like.

Here are three projects I’d like you to tackle this week:

Celebrate 2014:

Often we get so caught up in defining success by whether or not we reached our initial goal.  We feel like failures if we don’t reach the end goal.  Ever heard the quote “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars”?  What star did you land on in 2014? Even small improvements are a reason to celebrate. Take these days to celebrate your stars of 2014.

Surround Yourself

This week, I want you to surround yourself with people who will help you reach your goals.  Do you have a friend or family member who is a food pusher, someone who encourages you to stay on the sidelines, you might want to try and take a break from that person.  Your social media timelines – hide those folks who share recipes you can’t resist and get notifications for people who inspire you. Go to pages you like then click on the “Liked” tab and select “Get Notifications”.  Your timeline will start to be filled up with messages that inspire you to stay on goal instead of convince you to get off track.  Spend some time tonight finding new pages to follow!  I’d love for you to share below in the comments some pages that inspire you to feel better instead of feeling snarky!


You will want to do this with a lot of your favorite pages.  Facebook is starting to only show you those pages that have paid to show up in your timeline.  Get notifications for your favorite pages so you’ll see them instead of the sponsored posts!

Take Stock

Before you write down your regular resolutions; lose weight, create a budget, run a half marathon…  make sure the resolutions you make are SMART.  SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC and TIME BOUND.

Can you lose weight this year?  YEP.  Are you going to lose 5 pounds a week every week for 52 weeks.  Not a chance.  Should you even attempt to do that for six weeks – NO, it’s not healthy and you’ll relapse, bad.

Take stock of what you actually want to accomplish this year.

If your goal does include starting or continuing on a wellness journey, I’d love to have you join a Wellness Resolution group! Click here to ask to join the Wellness Resolution group on Facebook where I’ll share recipes, help hold you accountable to your goals and share workout tips.  This is your choice, your challenge and your goals. Find a friend or two that make you feel like you want to stay on track and invite them to join you!  

Let me be crystal clear… this group is FREE – you do not have to purchase anything EVER to belong to this group. As a member of this group – you’ll receive posts from me (and any other members who wish to post) about health & fitness and motivation and accountability to help you achieve your personal health and fitness goals!

My posts will include information about the Beachbody programs and at any time should you decide that you’d like to purchase a program I’d love if you shopped my link ► ◄. (My commission from these sales is what enables me to offer the coaching/motivation/support for free!)

If you’re tired of the yo-yo dieting.  If you’re tired of having no energy.  If you’re tired of not feeling your best, or of not knowing what your best even is – I hope you’ll join us!

wellness res xmas edition

Enjoy the wrapping and the craziness of the next couple of days.  We’re going to have a great 21015 – Together!

Sparkle on,


I would love to see you on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Friday Five: Holiday Traditions

19 Dec

I haven’t done this in awhile, but today I am linking up with Courtney of Eat Pray Run, DC, Cynthia of You Signed Up for What?!? and Mar from Mar on the Run, for their Friday Five.  I fell out of practice a couple of months ago and I’m so excited to come back! These three gals are so great to host this every Friday, so I’m hoping you’ll  head over and show them some love! Today’s topic is


The Diva actually had this as her project last night for school. Her list was a little different than mine – hers was heavy on presents and cookies!  What is everyone in your families favorite holiday tradition?  Here’s mine.

Hunting for the Tree
If I had to pick one tradition I never want to end, it’s this one.  Every year since we had The Boy we’ve gone and cut down our own tree at a Tree Farm.  It’s a little “Over the river and through the woods” adventure that I just love.  Watching how the kids grow each year, how they interact, how they think about tradition – this starts off the whole holiday for me and brings me back to center.  This year for the first time, The Boy was allowed to help saw the tree.  They are getting so big and yet this tradition helps me to hold onto them as babies just a little longer.


Alone time With Santa
We don’t do lines well.  Scratch that.  I don’t deal well with lines.  So, every year we try to do an event where we can get some one-on-one time with Santa.  Some years that didn’t pan out, but this year was magical.  I believe this was the most perfect year ever – both kids still believe and the little one wasn’t afraid.  Pure MAGIC.


Family Time
Since DOC’s grandparents passed away a few years ago, we have had the tradition of hosting his very large family all for dinner at our home in a very non-traditional way.  One year DOC cooked an Asian dinner, last year I did an Italian feast and this year we’re trying our hand at New Orleans fare.  Wish us luck!


The Elf

I’ve talked before about why I love the Elf on the Shelf.  I know that this is our last year that we’re going to have two believers.  I know the time is coming fast for the kids not to believe anymore – and I cherish and hold tight to these magical moments with the Elf.  We are all so stressed every minute of the Holidays.  Allowing ourselves to laugh about where he gets placed and hearing the laughter of the kids each morning as they find him helps us to keep front of mind what is most important – the two little blessings in our own home.  Their laughter fills our home and our hearts.  Thanks Lightning for making them laugh every day.

And if we can get him to do naughty things every now and then to break the tension – we do that too.  Elf Gone Wild is one of our favorites.


Christmas Pajamas
Years ago my Aunt introduced us to the tradition of getting new pjs on Christmas Eve.  I carried this over to our kids and each year I try to find coordinating jammies for the whole family.  Now that the kids are older and very specific about what colors they will and won’t wear, this year everyone got ones that they would like.  The Elf actually had to bring them today because it was PJ day at school and The Diva has hit a growth spurt recently and none of her pjs fit in an appropriate way – I couldn’t send the kid to school in high waters and a belly shirt!  I’m not going to lie, the worst thing about cooking for the whole family for Christmas (and really, this is the only bad part – I really do love having the house filled with people, you know I show my love through cooking!) is having to get out of my Christmas pajamas.

Christmas Pjs 2010

Christmas Pjs 2010

For me, Christmas is a beginning and an ending. It is magic and memories.  It is remembrance of years gone by and the starting of a new year.  It is the celebration of another year with our babies and a hope that they stay little forever.

Happy Holidays and may your days be merry!

What are some of your favorite traditions?  Which of the other Traditions pages did you check out?

Sparkle On!


I would love to see you on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!


The One Thing I Learned in 2014

18 Dec

I promise, this isn’t one of those “Year In Review” posts that are so prevalent this time of year.

But basically this is what happened this year:  Old Friends, New House, Growing Kids, Shrinking Me, Still in Love.


2014 was also the year I learned something.

Exercise isn’t punishment.  Exercise is an act of love. 

Eating right isn’t torture.  Nourishing your body, and the bodies of your family, is an act of love. 

When you start to think of exercise and nourishment is a gift you give yourself and your family, it stops feeling like work and a torture diet and it starts to feel like an act of self love.

When I realized that my body is changing even when the scale is not.  When my jeans fit better, when I am not winded walking up ALL.THE.STAIRS.EVER. at  our new town house, when I can carry all the groceries into the house in one trip, when I can change the water jug at work – I’ve given my body a gift.  I love myself enough to give myself the gift of love.

In 2012 and 2013 I focused on the scale and the pants size.  Damn right I love how much I lost weight wise and dress size. Am I happy I lost more in 2014?  ABSOLUTELY!  Transition pictures inspire me.  But what I love most is knowing my body now to know when I’m full, when I’m happy and satisfied, when I NEED a workout because I’m about to snap.

The other thing I’ve learned is, I love changing lives.  I am more inspired by the people in my accountability groups than any people I’ve ever known.  I need to brag on my girls for a minute. We have women who are fighting depression, one who is getting separated after 25 years of marriage, one who has had open heart surgery and just ran her first 5k, one who is using fitness to not let multiple sclerosis stand in her way to getting fit and one who is getting in the best shape of her life after getting a kidney transplant! Heart surgery, kidney transplants, debilitating diseases, major life changes!! Talk about team NO EXCUSES! I am SO PROUD of these woman and humbled by their commitment to their own wellness: body mind and spirit. I am just a leader of this group – these ladies are doing the work to change their own lives!

In 2015 I hope that I can keep moving forward in my healthy journey.  Of course I have a weight loss goal.  Of course I have a running goal.  But what I hope for most is that I can keep changing lives, starting with Just Us 4 Carters – DOC, The Boy, The Diva and me – we’re so in love and have a chance to be healthier, happier and stronger than ever in 2015.  We got this.  YOU GOT THIS.  Team No Excuses!

You With Us? If you want to join an accountability group with me, please just comment below and I’ll send you a message.  If you want to get on a fitness plan and need some help, check out my facebook, pinterest, or BeachBody Pages.  I’m there to help you – to start you on a wellness path to love yourself!

Let’s make 2015 our year. The year we get off the couch. The year we quit being the mom that sits at the playground. The year we love ourselves enough to move and nourish and BELIEVE we deserve the best.




I would love to see you on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links.  While I earn commission or rewards if you purchase something, the links do not affect the price you pay. Thanks for supporting Us 4 Carters! 


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