Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy FITtastic Friday from Somewhere Down in Texas!

Happy FITtastic Friday Everybody!
Today I am blogging from one of my favorite places in the world.
The Retreat at Artesian Lakes.
A few years ago they changed the name from Chain O' Lakes to The Retreat at Artesian Lakes. which is why the stain glass on the window says Chain O' Lakes.
 No matter the name, I LOVE this place!
We have been coming here since I was in 7th or 8th grade. My Aunt Myra and Uncle Scott surprised us for Christmas and told us they had rented an large cabin for my Mom's entire side of the family to go to for Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend.
I was so excited.
This place had everything; horses, hay rides, canoeing, a swim lake, alligators, raccoons, fishing, hiking, playgrounds, blueberry picking, an amazing restaurant.
After we started coming here 2 times a year, once for Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend (my Paw Paws birthday) and Easter Week, for about 3-4 more years my Aunt Myra and Uncle Scott decided to invest and build their own house. They thought it would be a great place to have so that the entire family could come, get together and relax. It would also be a great place for other big families, like ours, to get together just like we had.
I have so many fond memories here. From flipping each other in the canoes, riding horses with the family and lots and lots of laughs and food, we have done it all here and I cannot imagine my life without this beautiful place.
This also is the place where Peter and I started dating, ever since then he has been coming back with my family two times a year.
My Mom's family is full blooded Italian. With that being said you can probably guess that the food on these trips is always amazing. Our days are planned around the food for the day, like all normal Italian families.
Today I spent my day doing all of my favorite things.
I woke up around 8:15AM to the sounds of loud, Italian family style, yelling and smells of something delicious coming from the kitchen. The way we organize our trip by having each family do a different meal. Breakfast just so happened to be my Aunt Myra's job and she did a waffle bar.
I topped mine with blueberries, chocolate chips and a little bit of syrup - delicious.
The time after breakfast is one of my favorite times of the day. Everyone is so full, slowly slipping into foodtopia that everything and everyone is quiet. Most of my family drifts back upstairs to go back to sleep. I don't like to waste the beautiful morning so I love to sit on the front porch and look out over the lake. Wearing pajamas is a must and you cannot break this law.  
Christmas jammies that is.
A little while later Peter, my cousin Collin and I decided to go on a bike ride to get moving until our next meal.
The sites during the ride were amazing. It always gets me how beautiful this place is even though i have been exploring this place for close to 7 years, now. Wow, I've never calculated that until just now.
I forgot how freeing it is to just ride a bike and not care where you are okay or for how long!
Try it out, I promise you will not regret it.  
 We ended up doing about 4.3 miles total during our bike ride. I used my Nike+ Running App to track us. I love this App. This was my first time using it for biking and it worked great!
 It took us about an hour and a half to bike the 4.3 miles because Collin wanted to stop and go on adventures during the ride. I was more than okay with that!
During our ride we stopped and hiked up a quick trail. A little ways down the rode we checked out an old abandoned house. We decided not to go in because it looked way to creepy to go into. But we checked out the pond that was in the front of the house and looked at the fish. Farther down there was an adorable wishing well but, when you looked inside it was only about 3 feet deep with nothing in it! Disappointing.

After our adventures we went over to see the horses at the stables. 
In middle school I was obsessed with horses. I was that girl in middle school who had everything horse: binders, notebooks, shirts... I think I read Black Beauty 3 times. I was overboard obsessed. At The Retreat at Artesian Lakes they have a horse stable where you can pay to ride the horses around the resort. Of course we had to stop and see them. Per my request.  

After the horses ignored us for about 10 minutes we started biking back towards the cabin but not before Collin begged us to play on the playground. If you deny a small child to play on a playground you my friend are heartless! That was harsh, but come on!
We headed to the playground and I think I had more fun that Collin did!
Plus, seesawing is a GREAT leg workout and swinging is a total body workout!

 I love this picture of Peter and Collin. I have no idea what they were looking at or talking about but I snapped this picture and it turned out adorable.
After our childlike escapades at the park, we headed back towards the cabin just in time for lunch.
Since it is Good Friday, we cannot eat meat. My Aunt Myra, since it was her day to do the food, chose to do a baked potato bar with crawfish tails!
Again, genius!  
I'm not sure what the obsession with "bars" was during this trip... but I'm loving it!
The potatoes were so big I only had half of one.
My potato had sour cream, cheddar cheese, green onions, and a couple crawfish tails! So delicious and so filling.
After Lunch we sat around and let our stomachs digest all the yummy goodness. Meanwhile. We look outside and see this...
Well Hello, Mr. 10 Feet Long Alligators.
Umm...I did not zoom in at all to take this picture, just so you know.
 Peter and I headed out to the "point" to look out over the water. Looking out over the water like that is such a serene feeling that kind of washes all your worries away.
And just look at that Texas sky, just look at it!
After taking a quick nap on the hammock I decided to try out a Quest Bar Recipe I had seen.
I had never tried the Vanilla Almond Crunch flavor before and wanted something sweet but good to hold me over until dinner. I decided to try baking them, apparently people say it is life changing!
It was.
This was such an easy THE easiest recipe ever.
Step 1: Open wrapper
Step 2: Cut bar into 10 even pieces
Step 3: Put in oven on 350F for 4 minutes.
I wish I would have taken a picture of what they looked like when they came out of the oven! They looked exactly like a cookie would made from cookie dough!
The entire bar was 190 calories so each piece was only 19 calories.
They were pretty good sized too!
I brought them around to the family and everyone loved them! They couldn't believe that these "cookies" were from a protein bar.
Quest does tons of 15SecondRecipes with their bars! The are also pretty funny too!
My favorites are the Donuts and the Cookies and Cream Coconut Bark.
Dinner wasn't far behind and I was beyond excited for it!
My Aunt Victoria and Uncle Brett own a Louis DeAngelo's Restaurant in Maurepas, Louisiana. They brought the ingredients to make their amazing Shrimp Alfredo Pasta, cheese bread and an awesome Almond Salad. Everything from DeAngelo's is good but this stuff was amazing.
I added extra crushed red pepper to my pasta because I LOVE red pepper! My cousin Scotty and I enjoyed dinner out on the porch and took in the sunset.
My FITtastic Friday started to wind down after dinner but believe me it did not end here whatsoever.
For about an hour and a half, my family started singing, in unison, songs from Frozen.
Then we started one of my favorite Easter Traditions - the Bunny Cake.
Since I was little my Gran (my Grandma) has had this cake decorating book. The entire book shows you how to make cakes using just 2 round pans. Since I was about 3 we have been making this cake together! If you calculate that all together, that's a lot of Bunny Cakes!
Let me warn you, our cake never turns out to look like this. Little kids are always the main constructors of the cake. Therefore, many jelly beans are thrown at one another, spoons get licked left and right (of course... I would never do that...), and fingers scraping icing off the side so the cake is always a crazy mess but everyone's favorite tradition.   
My cousin Julia and my sister Madison helped during the baking process and the boy cousins helped with the icing and decorating process... thinking back now I have no idea why it wasn't the other way around. You'll understand when you see a picture of the cake...
I love doing things like this with my Gran. She loves doing this every year and loves to see how excited we get about making the cake. She doesn't even look at the recipe anymore. I think she just pulls out the book for our enjoyment!
The cake is pretty easy to make.
1 box of Yellow cake mix evenly distributed to 2 8" round pans.
Bake according to the box.
The icing was powdered sugar, evaporated milk and vanilla extract.
Mix the ingredients for the icing in the mixer and there ya go!
Once the cake is out of the oven you flip them over onto a cutting board.
One pan is used as the face and the other one is used to be the bowtie and the ears.
Cut one circle into 2 eye shaped spheres making a bowtie shape in between the two.
Then ice it and decorate it as you please.
I have to laugh when I look at this cake! It is honestly different every year.  
That's what I think makes this so special. It is a tradition that I hold very near and dear to my heart.  
To say the least my FITtastic Friday was very eventful, which I love.
I love taking a set back from my busy schedule, letting everything go and soaking in the world around me. I have to remind myself to do this more often.
I hope everyone had a FIT and FUN Friday!
I know I did!
 from Somewhere Down in Texas
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*Disclaimer: The Quest Bars were sent to me as a promotional item for me to blog and give my reviews about. I LOVE them anyway and cannot wait to blog more about the products.

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