Category Archives: My Ramblings

Leaving My Fears Behind

take every chanceAs 2013 prepares to be nothing more than memories and 2014 prepares to make it’s grand entrance, I am suddenly struck by fear.

Fear of everything that is waiting ahead of me…and I know that is not good.

As I look back on all of the years that have passed, there has been both good and bad. I have always survived the tough times and those tough times made the good times all the more sweeter. I know that everything life tosses at me happens for a reason and is given to me as a lesson that will mold me into the person I am meant to be. One would think that knowing this would allow for me to continually move forward with confidence, but sadly I am sitting here frozen in fear.

This year has been full of change and quite honestly, as horrible as some of it seemed, it was all for the best. Losing my job in March felt like the end of the world at first, but I had long since outgrown that place and I was comfortable, so I stayed. Life knew it was time for me to move on so it removed me from my comfort zone and actually allowed me to take advantage of some wonderful opportunities over the summer. Those opportunities pushed me even further out of that comfort zone by making me participate in group fitness, allowing me to meet some incredibly inspiring people and allowing me to look deeper into myself and my passion for fitness. As a result, I enrolled in NASM classes to become a Certified Personal Trainer and while I’m full of excitement with this decision, I am also full of fear due to it.

There is a fear and anxiety of failing. It’s overpowering at times and it brings me to tears. As I posted in the past, I hold myself to such high standards that I don’t allow myself to make mistakes and that needs to change. I’ve made some progress in this area but I feel like I have so much riding on this that I have to be tough on myself.

2013 has forced me to look at myself, what I like, what I don’t like and what I would love to do. I don’t want to do a job just to earn a paycheck. I’ve been given a gift this year and I intend to make the most of it. Hopefully my best is enough to get me to where I wish to be…if not, I guess there is something grander out there and I haven’t figured it out yet.

With that, my resolution for 2014 is to let go of the fear. It is not going to be easy as I am a worrier by nature. I worry about everything and it’s an awful thing. I know that I can’t change the past and worrying about the future is silly because it hasn’t happened yet. I need to learn how to live in the moment and truly just enjoy life as it happens. I’m not saying that thought won’t be put into the future, but I am refusing to drive myself crazy worrying about the “what if’s”. In all honesty, I have an amazingly supportive family and as long as they are happy and healthy I’ve succeeded.

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Summer Recap

Can you believe summer is almost over? I feel like the past two months have been a total blur and that’s probably because it’s the first time I’ve been home for the summer with the kids in a long time.

I normally keep the same schedule all year because I’m working, but this year I had the opportunity to be home with them for their whole vacation. We spent a lot of time at my mother’s pool, took a family day trip to Hershey Park, went to Coney Island and of course celebrated both of their birthdays!

As a result, I have had little time to blog the way I would like to, but that’s okay. I’ll have all fall and winter to catch up and share my adventures in fitness with you all.

Here are some of my favorite photos from this summer…


Mini Golf and Splashing in the pool to start the summer off right!

coney island

An afternoon in Brooklyn at Coney Island. We checked out the aquarium, ate at Nathan’s and of course rode on some rides.

Point Pleasant

It wouldn’t be summer without a day at Jenkinson’s at Point Pleasant!

Hershey Park

The highlight of summer for me has been our trip to Hershey Park. It was our first time there and we had a blast. Can’t wait to return for the holidays!

Birthday Fun

Maddie turned 12 this summer and we celebrate with a few friends, Monster Mini Golf, pizza and cake!

Minecraft Party

Matt is all about Minecraft this summer, so of course his 9th birthday was a Minecraft theme!

As you can see, we’ve had a busy summer and I look forward to time with friends this Labor Day weekend. Mike and I also started working out together again. He’s doing a Focus T25/Body Beast Hybrid, and I’m still doing T25 but joining him on the nights he does Beast! I missed weight lifting too much to just do cardio daily…we’ll see how this goes!

How has your summer been? Are you ready for fall or wishing there were still a few weeks left to summer?

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Time To Design…

The month of May has always been my time of the year to start new things. I don’t know if it’s because it’s my birth month, the fact that it’s spring and everything is coming to life again, or just some weird fluke.

Four years ago this month, I began taking steps toward becoming healthy so I could lose weight and while I began to thrive on that new journey, I began to suffocate and wilt in my graphic design business. After doing something that I loved for years, I felt nothing but dread and hatred toward doing it, so I closed up my business, shut down my auctions and took down my website. As soon as I did that, I felt instant relief. I focused on my fitness and my part-time job as a cake decorator. I was happy and loving my new journey in health & fitness, as well as learning and experimenting with cake decorating.

Fast forward four years, drop 100 pounds and subtract my cake decorating job and here I am. Only now, I have an itch to design again. I felt it coming on a few months ago when I was asked by a friend to help them with a logo. I felt it here and there during the years I took off, but I would design a tattoo or two, do an invite for a friend, design my own Christmas card or something small, that I could easily walk away from if I didn’t feel like continuing. However now I feel a void in my life and I’m ready to fill it with design again.

This past week I’ve been designing …and it feels good to be doing it …so I decided to dive back in!

Nicole Hynes Designs Logo Blue Chevron

Every morning I wake up, get the kids off to school and then focus on my workouts. I made a promise to myself that I won’t blog or design until my planned workout for the day is complete. I even start scheduling my day like I would if I was still working, and it’s helped. (Although today I was really excited about the stuff I was working on and may have fed the family frozen pizza after 8pm because I lost track of time…. ooops!)

Speaking of workouts, I’ve had a really good week. I felt good on my all trail runs, started lifting again and my friend Jac started a May Challenge with me, which I posted on the Facebook Page in case you would like to join in!

Nutrition has been so/so, but I’ve been drinking my protein shakes again. (Being sick really knocked me off my routine, it’s bad) Yesterday I stopped into GNC to pick up more the Designer Whey Protein 2GO but they didn’t have any. I of course had to look around and picked up a new Lean Shake 25 flavor, which is super yummy!

I'm a sucker for creamsicles!

I’m a sucker for orange cream flavors…takes me back to childhood!

The rest of the week was spent focusing on making new designs. I have an external hard-drive with most of my old designs on it, but I felt I needed to get some of the rust off and do things from scratch. Things came back pretty quickly, although there was a lot of cursing at first as I tried to remember the shortcuts to making scrapbook style paper, like I use to. I’m a huge fan of typography, so lots of time was spent on making sure I had plenty of fonts I liked, since this is a new laptop and I’ve never really designed using it before.

So, here’s to another May rebirth of me! If you’d like to see some of the stuff I’ve been working on, you can check it out at Nicole Hynes Designs!

Can you believe it’s May already? How have your workouts been going?

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{Bucket List Experience} Peter Luger Steakhouse

Last weekend, we drove into Brooklyn to celebrate my brother-in-laws 50th birthday, at the all mighty Peter Luger Steakhouse in Williamsburg. He is a steak lover and has always wanted to dine there, so my sister-in-law arranged a surprised dinner in his honor. There might have been a toddler style tempter tantrum thrown by him that resulted in this idea, which was one of the entertaining stories told over dinner, but I digress.

Happy 50th Birthday Larry!

Happy 50th Birthday Larry!

If you haven’t heard of Peter Luger’s, you most likely live under a rock, as there are few New York City restaurants as well-known as this steakhouse. The name itself is synonymous with steak, and they’ve been doing steak for over 125 years! Peter Luger has a few other proteins on their menu but don’t try to order them unless you want your waiter to scuff at you. They do steak, and by steak I mean porterhouse. They offer a “single steak for one” but as my husband and I found out when we attempted to order it (by our oh-so-rude waiter), “It’s not special…you need to order the steak for two”…..oh…um….okay. Then again, the waiter also seemed annoyed that we wanted menus. I mean, how often do you go to a restaurant where you are asked if you want a menu? Isn’t having a menu placed in front of you when being seated part of all dining experiences? Clearly, we were not ready for Peter Luger’s.

As you  can tell, our waiter was a pleasant man, which the restaurant is known for. (I hope your sarcasm font is working right now.) He brought all new meaning to the word rude, but it gave us something to laugh about as we sat around the table enjoying the yummy bread that was brought out by a different waiter, who had a great personality, by the way!  Speaking of bread, it was some damn good bread. The basket contained three different kinds, onion, oat and one with salt and caraway seeds on it, but don’t expect it to be served warm. It’s a good thing I workout, cause spreading cold butter on cold bread is not an easy task!

Peter Luger is also known for their bacon by the slice, so of course we all ordered some as an appetizer. It was truly delicious, especially when teamed up with their famous Peter Luger steak-sauce (which my husband said tasted like it had a cocktail sauce base). The only drawback to this part of the meal was once again our waiter, he dripped hot bacon grease all over my other brother-in-law’s girlfriend, with no apology at all. Oh…and many will say you have to order the tomato and onion as an appetizer, heck, your waiter will most likely guilt you into it as he did to us, but skip it. It’s not worth the $20 they charge for it and only one person at our table even touch it after it was served.

Back to the porterhouse, which they do their way. Your waiter will ask you how you would like that cooked when you order, but it doesn’t matter. You will get your steak served medium or rare and you’ll shut your mouth and like it. Thankfully, this was not a problem for anyone at our table. My father-in-law actually complained to us because he didn’t think it was rare enough, and of course it wasn’t because it’s served on a plate so hot you can keep cooking it right there at the table. You want it well done, leave it on the edge of plate to continue cooking!

The steak is served family style and comes to the table pre-cut. Your waiter will serve each person a few pieces and warn you not to touch the piping hot plate. He will then spoon the buttery/oily sauce that the steak arrives in over your slices, and if you are lucky, he will be kind and make sure that he is not dripping butter sauce into your beverage (unlike our wonderful waiter). The sides are also served family style at Luger’s. My husband and I ordered the German style potatoes, which are just hash browns. They were good, but would have been better if they weren’t burnt. The steak was very good, but lacked seasoning to me. I’m not a steak expert by any means, but I didn’t taste anything special about this steak…I guess I don’t understand the hype surrounding it.

Peter Luger Steakouse

Top Left: Bacon by the slice, Top Right: Bread Basket, Bottom Left: Steak served family style, Bottom Right: My plate

Despite being stuffed after our meal, we ended up ordering some Chocolate Mousse Cake and New York Style Cheesecake for dessert. I REALLY wanted to order the Holy Cow Sundae, which many around us were having, but there was no way the button on my jeans could handle that after all of the food I already ingested. Dessert is also served family style and comes with Peter Luger’s famous “Schlag”, which is whipped cream. Upon arrival of your dessert, the waiters toss gold, chocolate coins onto the table as a finishing touch. Too bad they can’t be applied towards the bill.

Dessert at Peter Luger

Left: Dessert Menu, Top Right: Dessert served family style, Middle Right: Close-up of gold coins, Bottom Right: Chocolate Mousse Cake with “Schlag”

While this blog may seem like we had a horrible time, we didn’t.  Peter Luger Steakhouse is one of those bucket list experiences. It’s been one of Zagat’s top restaurants in NYC for over 27 years and people rave about it all the time. Being as we were born and raised in Brooklyn, NY – you kinda feel like you have to eat there at least once, and now we can say we have.

If you plan on going to Peter Luger Steakhouse just be prepared for a nostalgic, somewhat “German beer hall” atmosphere, wobbly tables, uncomfortable chairs, surly waiters, high prices and don’t forget to bring cash, because they don’t accept credit cards. Make sure you order the bacon, skip the tomato & onion, don’t order anything but the “steak for two” (or more) and save a little room for dessert.

Ultimately, it was a nice afternoon filled with beautiful skylines during the drive, family and lots of laughter.

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{Wordless Wednesday} My Excuse For Being Absent





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April 3, 2013 · 11:34 AM

My Week So Far + Five Things

This week started out dragging and then suddenly flew by!

My weekend was nice and quiet. Saturday was a rest day for me, which my body truly appreciated since I’ve been pushing it so hard. As I was lazily laying in bed, I stumbled upon a Groupon for the Color Me Rad 5K, which is taking place in May. Of course I couldn’t resist signing up for another Fun Run…especially since it was only 20 bucks! After a lazy day and dinner, the hubs and I watched “Oz The Great and Powerful”, which I enjoyed but had some issues with. Have you seen it? What were your thoughts?

Sunday I earned my final badge in the #FurtherFasterFurther Road ID Challenge, by doing a 3.17 mile run, wearing green for St. Patty’s Day. After my run, I begin cooking our St. Patty’s Day Feast and then we spent the rest of the day relaxing and eating.


I ended up earning 31 badges….some had double or triple worth so I think I ended up 37 or 38!

The rest of this week has consisted of my usual. I took another rest day and just stretched on Monday, Tuesday I ran, did some time on the trainer and then went and cashed in on my last massage. The hubs had given me a three month membership for Christmas and it was hands down THE BEST GIFT EVER. Since this was my last massage and I had a $5 off coupon, I decided to upgrade to a 90-minute session! It was painfully-blissful and just what my body needed!

Wednesday I did ChaLean Extreme, Push 1 & 2 and then followed it with 10.5 on the trainer. I also took a ride up to The Vitamin Shoppe and picked up some Quest bars. I’ve seen the lovely RunEMZ rave about them on Twitter and Instagram, so I had to check them out. Upon returning to my vehicle, I immediately tried the Chocolate Brownie and I was not disappointed at all! I need to get my booty over to GNC (since Vitamin Shoppe sucks and had limited stock of these) so I can try the other flavors she recommended.


Today has been a rough day. The hubs woke up puking around 1am, then my son woke up at 3am puking and finally the girl woke at 6am and followed their lead. I honestly don’t know how I escaped this, but I am truly grateful, as I am a total wuss when it comes to vomit. I did however complete a 15.5 mile ride on the trainer a little while ago and I’d like to do a short run as well as some yoga later.

Now for the Five Things…

The lovely Jackie, from Nora & Jac, tagged me in a Five Random Things post (which I didn’t realize was “random” so I’m winging this as I go) the other day, and I’ve been a super slacker about blogging, but I’m finally completing it soooo…

1. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York in this apartment building:


2. I HATE mayo…loathe it. I’m so against it, I don’t even like to touch the jar in the fridge. There is something about it that creeps me out.

3. I have “corpse extremities”. Seriously… my hands and feet are ALWAYS ice cold. I can have socks and boots on all day, take them off and I have toesicles. The hubs just LOVES when I stick my icy, dead hands on his back.

4. I love taking road trips. Granted, I am referring to road trips sans kids. I love driving, seeing the landscape and listening to whatever I want on the radio.

Finally, I’m borrowing one from Jac’s post, because my brain isn’t really functioning due to lack of sleep…

5. I’ve had many people tell me that I look like Mary-Louise Parker…you can be the judge.


Okay…there you have it. My week in review as well as Five Random Things about me. If you want to join in, please feel free and leave a link to your post below!

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2012 – A Year In Review

goodbye 2012Last year I couldn’t wait for 2012 to arrive. I was fed up with 2011 and thought things had to get better. Well….I was wrong. My 2012 had a very shitty start, then improved, then bottomed out and finally fixed itself for the most part. One might say it was a roller coaster but I always thought those were supposed to be fun….hmmmmm.

Now were was I? Oh….right…. I learned a lot over the past year. I learned that I can handle a lot without breaking (although I came pretty damn close), who my real friends are (and that there aren’t many), that as much as it’s nice to have fun with people – you have to be able to enjoy being alone as well…..cause happiness comes from within and if you aren’t happy with yourself, it’s hard to be happy with others. There were many other lessons but that’s the gist of it. Or at least all I’m willing to openly discuss ;)

As 2013 prepares to make it’s grand entrance tonight at midnight, I’m both excited and a bit nervous. I have high hopes that 2013 leads me towards new, exciting and happy things, but as I mentioned above, I learned a lesson in 2012 …things could always get worse.

Anyway, I’m going into this new year positive, happy and with the mind set that anything can happen. I have a list of goals and things I’d like to do in the up coming months and I have a new focus on what’s important to me.

With that being said, 2012 wasn’t all bad and I have the photos to prove it! Here are some of my most treasured moments from 2012…

As much as they drive me crazy, my family is the most important thing to me.Top Left: Mike & I at a BBQ over the summer, Top Right: Family photo while visiting Lady Liberty. Bottom Photos: My amazing kids at the beach.

As much as they drive me crazy, my family is the most important thing to me. Top Left: Mike & I at a BBQ over the summer, Top Right: Family photo while visiting Lady Liberty. Bottom Photos: My amazing kids at the beach.

Good friends are hard to find! Top Left: BBQ with Mike's coworkers. Top Left: Mike with Beth at the Jersey Shore. Bottom Left: Me with Kris during one of my OH trips. Bottom Right: Cheers to new friends!

Good friends are hard to find! Top Left: BBQ with Mike’s coworkers. Top Left: Mike with Beth at the Jersey Shore . Bottom Left: Me with Kris during one of my OH trips. Bottom Right: Cheers to new friends!

Fitness Goals & Fun! Top Left: I can finally rock a bikini. Top Right: The fitness trail & my goal of being able to run a 5k. Bottom Left: The Color Run. Bottom Right: Me sporting my "tough" look.

Fitness Goals & Fun! Top Left: I can finally rock a bikini. Top Right: The fitness trail & my goal of being able to run a 5k. Bottom Left: The Color Run. Bottom Right: Me sporting my “tough” look.

The Sky's The Limit! If you know me, you know I love taking pictures, especially of sunset and landscapes. Here are a few of my favorites from 2012: Top Left: Times Square while walking to Sweet Suite at BlogHer. Top Right: Open field on my way to the mall. Bottom Left: Sunset on my drive home. Bottom Right: My daughter and friend swinging high above Point Pleasant.

The Sky’s The Limit! If you know me, you know I love taking pictures, especially of sunset and landscapes. Here are a few of my favorites from 2012: Top Left: Times Square while walking to Sweet Suite at BlogHer. Top Right: Open field on my way to the mall. Bottom Left: Sunset on my drive home. Bottom Right: My daughter and friend swinging high above Point Pleasant.

This quote is so true and I know I'm capable of making great strides in my fitness this year.

This quote is so true and I know I’m capable of making great strides in my fitness this year.

If there is one thing I hope to's to never lose focus on this.

If there is one thing I hope to do…it’s to never lose focus on this.

There is always good to focus on, despite the bad that might be plaguing you. Here’s to a very Happy and of course Healthy New Year! Thanks again for following my blog and keeping me focused on what is important to me. You all inspire me so much and I’m forever grateful to everyone who takes the time to read my ramblings.

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New Additions and Holiday Traditions

Hello everyone!

Sorry I’ve been MIA lately, but things always tend to get hectic around this time of year. Being as I am a cake decorator and the hubs is a letter carrier, the holidays spark an increase in hours for both of us. It also seems that we have both been doing some hardcore drugs, cause we decided our family needed a new puppy. Yes, you read that correctly, a new puppy. I blame the show “Too Cute” which airs on Animal Planet. I also blame the convenient timing of the pet adoption at Petsmart, which just happened to be going on the day after I watched a “Too Cute” marathon AND the fact that I happened to have my son out running errands with us. You see, a puppy is something he has been begging us for. Without further delay, I introduce you to our little bundle of fur, cuteness and pointy little fangs…

Meet Jax. He’s a Catahoula/Beagle mix who is currently trying to sit on my lap along with my laptop…sigh…

Now that you have been mesmerized by his cuteness, let me tell you that puppies are like newborns! I forgot what having a newborn was like since our youngest is 8 years old now and it’s been 13 years since we’ve trained a puppy. Jax has been with us for almost 2 weeks now and I think we are all starting to settle in, get into a routine and hopefully we will be sleeping through the night soon.

My other issue is that while he is like a newborn at night, he is like a toddler during the day. He is super curious and has to check out everything.

This weekend, like every year since I was little, we put up the Christmas tree. Poor Thanksgiving tends to be nothing more than a day that people eat too much and finally don’t feel like freaks for wanting to listen to holiday music, shop for presents and break out the holiday decor.

With a new puppy in the house, I had to approach the tree a little differently. I made sure I secured it to the wall, so when I have to army crawl under it to retrieve his tiny butt, I don’t knock it over. We also didn’t put any breakable ornaments on the bottom a) so he doesn’t knock them off, break it and then eat something that could hurt him. b) so we don’t kill him for breaking our memories.

Our tree with three of my favorite ornaments. The stockings sum up how my kids feel about each other, while the cd ornament I made a few years back, capture them at what I think might be their cutest.

Our tree is my favorite part of the holidays. We have an eclectic collection of ornaments that we put on it, ranging from handmade/photo ones that the kids have made over the years at school, to figurines from the mobile that hung above my crib when I was an infant. Our tree is full of memories and I love unwrapping each ornament and remembering a moment from my past. It warms my heart and also makes me sad at times, because there are loved ones who are no longer with us, but special ornaments that represent memories with them.

The kids love putting the tree up…ok…they love hounding me to put the tree up, come in, select their favorite ornaments, put them on the tree in the worst spots ever and then leave me to fix things. Yes, I admit, I let the kids put stuff on the tree and then rearrange things to my liking when they disappear to their rooms. Don’t act like you don’t do the same…pfft!

I know this post is a little all over the place, but so is my life. I have however been very consistent with my Couch to 5K! This past week I had to shift my run days around due to my work schedule, but it worked out well because I got to go out and do my own personal Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day. Tomorrow starts week 4, which means I am at the halfway point. I look forward to seeing what the next few weeks bring, since I have steadily improving. Yesterday I beat all of the my previous pace/time/distant stats, which made me really happy.

I hope everyone is ready to have a happy and healthy holiday season. Hopefully I will be a little better about finding time to post here, too.

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Semi Wordless Wednesday {Our Experience With Hurricane Sandy}

As Sandy approached we waited on long lines for generators and prayed for the best.

When the power went out, we all shared a room and passed time making shadow puppets on the ceiling and using portable electronics. (Thank goodness for those!)

The days after the storm were filled with some chaos, downed trees and lines, long gas lines and a scramble to find more firewood since it was our only source of heat.

As stories of damage emerged via Twitter and Facebook, you became grateful that the least of your problems was no power and heat. Having a generator/fireplace, roof over your head and your family safe and sound was all you needed. It truly humbled you.

Halloween was pushed back to November 5th here in NJ. We had power back at this point (I know many still do not).

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Post Sandy: Helping A Friend To Rebuild

As many people know, the East Coast was pounded by Super-storm Sandy a week ago. She devastated communities along the Jersey Shore, Staten Island, Queens and Long Island. She left millions without power or heat and created a gas shortage that sparked an odd/even gas rationing here in New Jersey.
After being hit hard only a year ago by Irene, my family was thankfully spared any true damage from Sandy.

Unfortunately, a friend of mine from High School was not. Jen, who was set to run the NYC Marathon last Sunday, and Pedro who served our country in Iraq, lived in the Oakwood Beach area on Staten Island, with their two young children, before Sandy washed her house off its foundation, and into a marsh about 1/2 mile away. When I heard the news and watched THIS video, my heart sank for them. *Their story starts at the 2:10 mark*

As you can see, they lost everything and need to start from scratch. If you are looking to donate to those who were hit hardest by Sandy, please consider donating to them. Another friend of theirs set up a link for monetary donations HERE which will help them to get back on their feet during this rough time.

If you are not comfortable sending money, which I know some people are not, one of Jen’s blogger friends over at A Healthy, Happier Bear, set up a Target gift registry for all the essentials that they will need for their new rental home, once they find one. To view her blog post and donate, please CLICK HERE

A special thank you to everyone I know who has already donated to them, either monetarily or by dropping clothing off here for them. I know that many people were impacted by Sandy, but I had to share the story of someone who I know personally. I urge everyone to help out in anyway they can. Volunteer time to communities to help with clean up, donate clothes, cleaning supplies, whatever is needed.

Please feel free to link to this blog, RT, share, whatever it takes to get the word out and help a family in need.

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