Betty’s last chance

We found out Christmas lights are a major to-do in our neighborhood. We’re really happy with how our interior decorations came out –so festive!- and the Pilot put up Christmas lights for the first time.


He did an amazing job, and we have a single strand of sparkly lights on the roof.

I was in the kitchen and could hear him mumbling in the garage shortly after he put the lights up.

“M*&@*( F*(#& blah blah curse curse”

He was peering through the garage windows, and I could see what he was staring at:

lights Source

Not exactly our neighbor’s house, but you get the idea.

I had been asking him if we could get a sparkly snowman for the yard from Lowe’s, and he said, “let’s just keep it simple.” After seeing the intense light display across the street, he was like “You can get your snowman." Haha. After talking with our other neighbor, we found out that apparently we live in Christmas town and have to step up our light game a little. This could get a little crazy.

Mr. Handyman grilled up a beautiful feast for us last night, too:


-BBQ chicken

-grilled butternut squash

-we shared the Super Spinach Salad (my fave!!) from Trader Joe’s. Love the miso dressing

Speaking of handymen, I’m postponing the gym until later since I have to take my car in… again. I’ve written about going to the dealership a few times to get repairs done – we only bought it two summers ago, used- but I have to take it in almost every month for one thing or another. It’s getting expensive and annoying, so this is Betty’s (<— my car) last chance. She’s very pretty, and drives like a dream, but we may be trading her in for something more reliable this weekend. If you have any small SUV suggestions (Betty was a sedan, but we may get something a little bigger), let me know!

Breakfast was waiting for me….


A breakfast cookie using dark chocolate almond milk and topped with raspberries

cookie (3) 

Enjoy your day and I’ll see ya later!



Something to think:

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
? Thich Nhat Hanh

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  1. Moni'sMeals on November 29, 2011 at 11:49 am

    How funny!

    It is better to be in a neighborhood with more lights than not. It is such a bummer when no one has the spirit and you DO! My house is out of control and I love every moment of it. 🙂

  2. Alicia on November 29, 2011 at 11:49 am

    You sure moved to the right neighborhood, sounds like fun! Maybe when people drive by to look at the lights you can pass out candy canes! My parents have a Nissan Murano and they really like it. Its a relatively small suv but they can put their bikes back there, I think… maybe just 1 but yea they really like it can it hasn’t had any problems except for when my mom backed up into another car… in their driveway haha!

  3. Tiffany on November 29, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I big puffy heart (cheesy i know) my Kia Sorento. Lots of room, good price and warranty, great on gas mileage for an SUV and perfect for kiddos too!

  4. Racheal on November 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Beautiful quote!

    I just bought a GMC Terrain and I L-O-V-E it! It is an small / cross-over SUV, but it drives like a car.

    Good luck at the dealership!

  5. Darien on November 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    my parents ADORE their ford escape. they havent had any issues with it, and ive driven it- its like a dream. i also love the toyota rav 4, they are sturdy things and toyota is known to run FOREVER. little missy could be driving that for her first car!

  6. Mara @ what's for dinner? on November 29, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Everyone I know that has gotten the Mazda small SUV or the Nissan one have LOVED them. I’m a big fan of my toyota, but its tiny 🙂

  7. Haley on November 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    L-O-V-E the Ford Escape!! Small SUV and awesome to drive

  8. Amber @ Chicken and Chocolate on November 29, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I’ve had my GMC Terrain for just over a year, and I love it!! I had always driven a small car, but after my Eclipse was totaled I decided it was time to go ahead and move up to an SUV. It sits and drives like a car, but feels much safer like a truck or SUV. Also, it has SOOO much room–I’m tall and I can sit in the back seat without my knees in my face!

  9. Rachel on November 29, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    I love my RAV-4 – I bought it just before my now-three and a half year old daughter was born as a sturdy small SUV to have with a kid, and it has never had one problem. Gets decent gas mileage, too.

  10. Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola on November 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Yay for you getting your sparkly snowman! I love it when neighborhoods put up lights! City living doesn’t exactly lend itself to that, but I love when people get really into it! You’ll have to post some pics! And your breakfast cookie looks delish! It’s been a while since I’ve had one… I need to bring them back!

  11. Ellen on November 29, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    My parents currently have a Toyota Venza, and they LOVE it. They have a Lexus SUV hybrid, and have recently had volvos, but the Venza is actually their favorite. Great small SUV that drives like a sedan. Incredibly reliable, it hasn’t had to go into the shop once. I think it would be a great family car!

  12. mary e on November 29, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    We got a (used) Nissan Murano LE this past May to accommodate the arrival of our little princess and I have LOVED it after previously being a sedan devotee. Roomy, luxurious, not too expensive and tons of kid-friendly features (hello, DVD players in the backs of the front seats!).

  13. Kelly on November 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    I’m pretttttttttttttttty sure we have the same car (can tell from some of the pics) and mine is only 4 years old, but also been a real pain lately. Last time I took it in it cost me 1800. So yeah, once I pay it off it’s going bye bye.

  14. Jamie @ Don't Forget the Cinnamon on November 29, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Ooh I’ve never done a chocolate breakfast cookie! Gonna have to try that…

  15. Tabi on November 29, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    This is totally unrelated to this post but I had to share with you, soon to be mama! So, so hilarious haha.

  16. Diane on November 29, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    I can’t say enough good things about Toyotas. I got a 2010 Rav-4 last year and love it to death – amazing quality and looks for the price, and even 3rd row seating! For a family, a Highlander would probably be a better size since it’s a bit bigger. We have 3 Toyotas in my family and all are great.

    • Fitnessista on November 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm

      before i bought my current car, i was a toyota girl. looks like i’ll be coming back 🙂

      • Anngela on November 30, 2011 at 8:52 am

        Love my Toyota Highlander!!! It is a great mommy-mobile 🙂

  17. Beth on November 29, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    We just bought a Subaru Outback. Not an SUV, but great gas mileage and completely reliable. We had a Hyundai Santa Fe, but got a flukey one that kept having issues (we bought it brand new and the stuff was under warranty, but who has the time to go to the dealership every other month?) and it was horrible on gas. We only have one toddler, so we might find the Outback is too small if we have another, but it’s great right now. Plenty of cargo room, which is super important since we constantly have to travel with a large cooler to accommodate my daughter’s sensitive tummy. Good luck!

  18. JennP on November 29, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    We have an ’06 Grand Cherokee and an ’07 Trailblazer (got both when they were 1 year old with low miles) and love them both equally! The Jeep made me semi-nervous because I’d heard some mixed reviews about them, but it’s been a great family vehicle. Aside from a dead battery on each, we have had no service issues whatsoever.

  19. Courtney on November 29, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    While I don’t have kids yet I carpool with my neighbor since we work together and getting her son’s car seat in an out of my Jetta is definitely a pain. I have already started looking at crossover SUVs for the future and while Hyundai used to be not so great they have stepped up their game and the Tucson is Amazing for the price. I also like the Mazda CX7 but think it looks a little too momish but it does have lots of room….

  20. Meagan on November 29, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I adore our Honda CR-V. We bought it just before having C, and it has generous cargo and floorboard space, as well as a good amount of leg room. Perfect for all the stuff you have to haul around, plus some groceries. 🙂

  21. danielle on November 29, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Your salad looks yummy!!

  22. Adriana R. on November 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    That is so funny – I looked at the picture you posted and immediately knew what house that was. I’m from Brooklyn and that house is not far from me! We drive through those streets every Christmas.

  23. Laura @ She Eats Well on November 29, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Oh my goodness, must remind myself: buy dark chocolate almond milk. Why am I torturing my tastebuds by not getting it already?

  24. Colleen on November 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Just about everyone in my family and extended family has a Honda Fit (it looks like a dealership outside when we all get together!) and they are awesome cars. They feel nice and small to drive, but have lots of space. I was just in an accident, unfortunately, and the tow truck driver said that he NEVER has to pick up Hondas unless they’ve been in a wreck. He gets a BMW or two every day though!

    • Janice on November 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm

      Okay I can second this Colleen. My guy drives a Honda Fit and even though I posted down below about how much I love my Rav4 the Fit is amazing! Super fun to drive in spite of the tiny Honda engine, the seats are configurable in any way you can imagine, and the gas mileage is incredible. the dealer is constantly calling my husband offering to buy his back there is such a demand for them.

    • Fitnessista on November 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm

      my nana has a fit- it’s super cute!
      interesting to know about the bmw’s… i loved it so much, but the glamour wore off quickly with all of the services it needs

  25. Anna @ The Guiltless Life on November 29, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Haha, living in Christmas Town, I love it!

    I can’t explain why but I have major anxiety over having the safest car available. So I did a ton of research, watching crash test videos and browsing the IIHS site (yes, I’m really crazy over this!) before buying my 2005 Honda CRV. It’s a GREAT car – we’ve had nothing but CRVs for the past four years and I’ve never had one break down on me (touch wood!). Plus the 2003-2007 models are the safest small SUVs on the market. Hope you find a great one!

    • Fitnessista on November 29, 2011 at 5:48 pm

      thank you!

  26. Katy on November 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Get a Prius! I absolutely LOVE my 2010 Toyota Prius. It’s not exactly an SUV, but once you go hybrid you’ll never go back.

    I believe there are some SUV hybrid options out there too, but I’ve never owned/driven one so I can’t give a personal recommendation.

    Good luck.

  27. Rhiannon on November 29, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I always tell my husband I refuse to let our house look like Christmas threw up, haha!! I have a Ford Escape and I love it. There’s plenty of storage room, but it’s still small enough for me to not be afraid to park it! And I have to stop the station anytime Gwen Stefani’s “Sweet Escape” plays so we can jam. 😉 My in-laws have a Murano and it’s great too. They’ve had it for quite a few years and it’s held up very well.

  28. Rachel on November 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    I had an Accord forever and recently traded it in for a Jeep Compass. It’s a small SUV/ crossover with good gas mileage. So far I love it! The inside looks nice and it is the comfiest vehicle I test drove. I have a long commute so this was super important to me along with safety, gas mileage, and price. It is the cheapest of all the vehicles other commenters have mentioned. If you prefer a boxier look, the Patriot has a similar price and is exactly the same as the Compass on the inside.

  29. Shannon on November 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    LOVE my Acura MDX!! I just got a new one a few months ago. I love it so much, it’s my second one! 🙂

  30. Meagan on November 29, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    I have a Chevy Equinox and love it! I’ve had it for a little over two years and no problems (knock on wood :)) yet!

    Good luck at the dealership!

  31. Kandi on November 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I love my Toyota Rav4!!

  32. Emily on November 29, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Beautiful breakfast cookie. And your dinner has inspired my dinner tonight! Thanks for that because I was fresh out of ideas!

  33. Nicole on November 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    What a pretty breakfast cookie!! Looks delicious. My parents both have Honda Pilots and LOVE them. They’re on the big side, but they’ve traveled far and wide and have rarely had problems.

  34. Erin Hack on November 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Gina, I have a Honda CRV and absolutely love it! Happy holidays. 🙂

  35. chrissy on November 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I got a Range Rover Evoque for my birthday last month and I LOVE IT. I had never had a new car! My husband and I had done nothing but work/study/work/work/study/work/work/work for over a decade, it was a great gift for the next chapter in my life: suburban housewife LOL

  36. Lauren @ Sassy Molassy on November 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I’ve been eyeing Toyota Highlanders, Toyota Venza, Subaru outback/forester, Ford Focus and Ford Fusion. My car is really old and it’s time to get a new one so we’re thinking of just going for more of a family friendly future car rather than something that works for right now since we’ll prob have kids in a few years.

  37. Shelly on November 29, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I have a Subaru Forester and I LOVE it. Super reliable, comfortable to drive, and very roomy. I will say it’s kind of a mom car- when I first got it the teller at my Bank wished me Happy Mother’s day! (And I don’t have any kids!)

  38. Anita on November 29, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I also have a Subaru Forester and I’m a huge fan!! I would definitely check into them. They’re very low-maintenance and they have small blind spots, which is always nice. 🙂

  39. Emily on November 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    My dream is to live in a “Christmas town!” I can’t wait to decorate my own home someday. My parents have a Kia Sorento and love it!

  40. Mo on November 29, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    I’m biased in the auto department as my husband sells them – but a Ford or Mercury is a nice option (no government bailout, which I think is really admirable) and their quality is top notch – plus they have the hands free sync system that I simply love. I drive a mustang – so definitely not good on gas (I have a heavy foot) . . . but the small SUVs do pretty good on gas mileage. Whatever you choose to do – good luck and get something you really enjoy driving.


    • Fitnessista on November 29, 2011 at 5:46 pm

      you and the pilot are twins 🙂

  41. Jenny@HealthyMOChick on November 29, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    For some reason the first thing that popped into my head with your breakfast cookie was Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire lol. Also, I love my Ford Escape! That thing gets us through all kinds of stuff and spacious enough for the little one to have lots of room in the back seat.

  42. Janice on November 29, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    I love, love, love my Toyota Rav4. It’s not too big, not too small and has more storage room than you could ever imagine! Best part – I’ve had it for three years, it has over 80,000 miles on it and I’ve had no problems. Oil changes, tires and gas – that’s it! Loved it so much my mom, sister, and sister-in-law have bought one as well.

  43. Anna @ On Anna's Plate on November 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Hahaha…we keep our outside lights pretty simple, but I have a deep love for people who go all out like that 🙂

    • Fitnessista on November 29, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      haha it’s definitely impressive!

  44. Aria on November 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I drive a VW Tiguan – it’s their smaller SUV & I love it! I’ve had it for almost 3 years and I’ve (knock on wood haha) never had a single problem with it. VW also is very safe for the new bambino 🙂 good luck if you get a new car!

  45. Kimberly on November 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Ford Escapes are great and loyal. I got mine 8 1/2 years ago and have never had a problem. The only things I’ve had to replace is the brakes and tires. She also has over 100K miles and still runs great. I was looking at getting a sedan for a change but I doubt I’ll trade the Escape in, she comes in handy with the dogs and transporting things. Escapes are worth the look.

    I’ve been meaning to ask…is Viesa a pure bred Shiba Inu? She is adorable (as is Bella). She looks just like one of my Shiba’s, Roxy. My other Shiba, Jax, is white with a bit of red on his ears, legs, and a stripe down his back like a mohawk.

    • Fitnessista on November 29, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      yep, she’s a purebred sesame shiba 🙂

  46. Cat on November 29, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    I just bought a Nissan Rogue — small SUV/Crossover and so far so good! Part of what I liked is that it feels like driving a car, not a “truck”, like when I’ve borrowed my brother’s Honda Element. Definitely cheaper than the Murano, too. My brother and his wife that are days away from having their first baby too, just bought a Kia Sorrento and so far really love it. My brother is tall and said it’s the only SUV they tried that made him feel like he “fit” in it, so might be good for your husband? Doubt he’s as tall as my bro, though!

  47. Ally on November 29, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    I just bought a new 2012 Ford Escape and I LOVE it. It’s the perfect size, not too big but not too small, tough enough so I feel safe driving it and I think it’d work perfectly with a car seat and other kiddie stuff. I’ve made the trip between Phoenix – Tucson twice now and it’s been absolutely wonderful. If you get a Hybrid it’s even better on gas with the same power.

    If you’re going to look around in Tucson try to go to a Click dealership (he has everything but Lexus, BMW, Mercedes and other “luxury” cars). Jim Click is a great guy and gives back to the community every chance he can. His list of philanthropies is HUGE and includes all sorts of groups/causes.

  48. Cheryl on November 29, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I know exactly what you mean about Betty. When I took Betty in for her first Service call A or B I forgot now which one it was, I went to pay and I had to do a double take, I said WHAT????? One of the services costs more than the other one, but they were both steep, like hundreds of dollars steep. Yikes, but we are like you we kept the little gem around for quite awhile until ours starting causing us to pay out more and more, so we traded for an Audi which is great car and we have been happy ever since. As for the small suv, let me know what you decide on because we are having the same issue with our other car, nothing jumps our and screams “buy me”. Volvo has a nice suv and the xcountry is nice too, of course un in New England we call that the soccer mom car……..LOL I am with the pilot simple is nicer.

  49. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on November 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    What a pretty breakfast. Love the fresh raspberries.

    And Xmas light “competitions” in the neighborhood. I grew up in one of those…everyone was trying to out-do everyone else’s lights. And the displays and lighting set-ups got more and more elaborate every year. Ahhh, memories.

    Glad you guys got a few lights and decorations up. We have done…nothing. But we have a condo not a house so it’s different I guess.

  50. Marie on November 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Your neighborhood sounds awesome; I love that the neighbors are so friendly! The Pilot’s reaction to the neighbor’s lighting cracked me up. 😉 I know you asked for small SUVs, but we have a Honda Odyssey and LOVE it. It pretty much drives like a car altho it’s a lot bigger. We know of several people who got the SUV and then switched to the Odyssey. You guys should check one out if you get a chance!

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