House Cleaning Weekend Part II

Yeah!  Our house looks amazing!

The BOY and I spent the majority of Saturday cleaning out closets and organizing our office.  There is still much work to be done, but after 2 weekends of hard work, our house is really coming along.  I then spent all day yesterday shopping with my mom but made an effort not to refill my closet after getting rid of 2 garbage bags worth of clothes. 

Today was a busy day of picking up loose ends, enjoying the gorgeous weather, and getting prepped for the week ahead.  Because we had a busy weekend, I kept this week’s meal plan real simple!

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Meal Planning 10/27/14

Monday: Simple Salmon with Parsnip Chips

Tuesday: Crockpot Orange Chicken (in a bag)

Wednesday: Chicken and Beef Burgers

Thursday: TBD

Lunch: Turkey and Vegetable Chili

 

This might also be a simple week of blogging as I have a lot on my plate. 

Cooper and I are feeling like this right now…

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So we are off to bed!

Don’t Fight the Gong!

I feel good when I do yoga!

I eat good, I sleep good, I communicate good, I am just a good version of myself when I take a little time each week to get grounded.  This Friday found me at the yoga studio for the third time this week week.  I’ll start at the beginning…

Monday was my weekly session with the trainer.  Things are going well with my new trainer and although I miss my friend, my arms and legs are getting stronger and I am closer to meeting my goal of doing a pull up (without all the random body waves I need now…ha  ha!)  On my way in, I saw this sign…

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And immediately called my mom to see if she was free to do this hot yoga gong meditation with me.  Thursday morning, I was back at the studio for the 6am strength class. I think this was my third weekend in a row getting there, so I am working myself back into the swing of pre sunrise wake ups in a anticipation of the dark, cold mornings to come.

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Thursday was my last kids yoga class of the fall session.  For the little ones, we did a super fun pirate themed class and my older kids did some fun acro tricks and an intense dance off to Shake it Off (by Taylor Swift).  I’m sure you can imagine : )  Then, I paired up with an adult yoga teacher to teach my first ever community yoga class.  We opened it up to all ages and abilities with a fee of a donation to the local food pantry.  I had no idea who would show up age wise and was pretty nervous all day.  We ended up with a mix of adults with their teenage children.  They  got playful with our intro games, moved easily through the flow of poses, and lost themselves in their final relaxation.

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It was a fantastic class and a huge success!  I was exhausted when I got home Thursday night and had the deepest sleep.  I almost didn’t get myself out of bed  Friday morning.  By Friday night, I was dragging a bit after the work week, but I met my mom in the parking lot of the yoga studio for dinner.  It was such a gorgeous night that we ate seated in the back of her car enjoying the warm fall evening.

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Then we changed and got ready for the first ever gong yoga class at my studio.  The Gong Guru played throughout our practice and then led us through an intense drum/gong meditation.  After a long week, it was difficult to turn off my ‘chatty’ left brain, but I felt the vibrations throughout my entire body bringing healing and relaxation with them.  He is a master of rhythm!  I did my best not to ‘fight the gong’ and it turned out to be an absolutely magical evening!  Even more special because I experienced it with my mom.

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We may be Gong Groopies now!  When I got home, I sealed my practice with a glass of Prosecco and a few squares of Godiva dark chocolate. 

It was a magnificent week of yoga that left me feeling ready for the beautiful weekend ahead!

Coconut Oil Pumpkin Bread

Do you use coconut oil?

For baking? For cooking? Or for skin care?

Recently, someone told me that coconut oil is the fix it for dark circles under the eyes.  Since I heard that I’ve been meaning to move my oil from the pantry to my bathroom.  But I haven’t yet.  While it remains in the pantry, it is perfect for cooking and baking.

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The only problem…coconut oil confuses me.  Is it a liquid or a solid?  Am I supposed to be putting the liquid or the solid under my eyes?  Oh, the mysteries!  As you all know…Pinterest has a wealth of recipes to motivate anyone out of their comfort zone.  I have been wanting to bring some pumpkin bread to work, so I thought I would give this a try.

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This bread came out PERFECT!  The BOY declared it possibly my best bread to date!

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It was just the right amount of crispy crust with a moist and flavorful middle.  I will definitely be baking with coconut oil again REAL soon!  And possibly using it under my eyes : )

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On a non-coconut related note, check out Cooper’s latest predicament.  I watched the whole thing unfold as I typed out this post and couldn’t help but laugh as I shot of few photos.  The dismount was not so graceful!

In the mood for pumpkin bread, here are a few of my favorite recipes…Happy Baking!

Best Pumpkin Bread Ever

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Maple Pumpkin Spice Bread

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Gingerbread

Pumpkin Molasses Muffins

 

Coconut Oil Pumpkin Bread

From Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (plus I added in some cloves)

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

2 eggs

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Whisk together sugars, flour, spices, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Create a well in the center of the bowl, and add pumpkin, eggs, oil, water and vanilla into the well. Whisk, starting with the wet ingredients and working your way to the outside of the bowl, mixing until batter is smooth and clump-free. Do not over-mix. (Batter will be slightly lumpy.)

Pour batter into the loaf pan, and smooth the top with a spoon. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then carefully invert the loaf and cool on a rack until it reaches room temperature.

 

Share your favorite coconut oil recipe…

Dinner in a Bag

We’ve fallen into a nice dinner routine.  Mondays is something just for me (the BOY has class), Tuesday is crockpot in a bag, Wednesday the BOY grills, and Thursdays he’s back in class and I fend for myself.  It makes meal planning super easy, but of course all of this will change when he finally finishes his law masters in December.

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When I was planning this week, I asked the BOY if he liked Chicken Cacciatore, which made us both realize that we didn’t actually know what that was.  He thought cream sauce and I had no clue.  But this recipe looked easy and tasty and the only substitution I made was taking out the zucchini (the BOY won’t eat it) and adding in the green beans (they work well).

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Yesterday, I combined the ingredients into a bag and today the BOY threw everything into the new crockpot.  Neither of us were sure how long it would take.  The chicken was cooked to perfection, so I asked the BOY.  He said he cooked it on low for 5 1/2 hours.

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We topped our chicken with parm cheese and a side of PumKing (yum!!) and dinner was super easy, healthy, and delicious!

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This website has a few other dinners in a bag and Pinterest is full of them.  Do you ever make dinner ahead of time in a bag?

 

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

From Six Sisters Stuff

Ingredients

1 lb chicken breasts

1 (26 oz) jar of chunky vegetable-style spaghetti sauce (I went for a low sodium option)

1/2 bag frozen chopped green beans (peas could work too)

1 green pepper, chopped

1 sweet onion, chopped

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag and mix together.  Store in fridge for 24 hours or freezer. 

If in fridge, cook on low for 5.5 hours until chicken is tender but not over cooked.

If frozen, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.

Garnish with cheese, olives, or serve over pasta.

House Cleaning Weekend Part I

The BOY and I set a big goal to get some much needed cleaning, purging, and organizing accomplished this weekend.  Saturday had us rearranging furniture and making some tough decisions about what we need and what we’ve outgrown.  Cooper got right in on the action, loving the new location of this tree…ripe for climbing!

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By Sunday afternoon, we had a clean and fresh looking dining room.  I also completely reorganized our crawl space…flash light and all, I found the BOY’s college television.  Obviously, we don’t need to keep that!  I created some extra shoe space in the closet and created enough space to store my new/old china.  My grandmother passed many years ago and I am getting her china set.  Perfect timing for Thanksgiving hosting!

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Today was the most spectacular fall day!  The leaves were so gorgeous, even the BOY pulled out his phone to take pictures.

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I started my day at the gym and then the BOY and I ran a few errands.  Including a trip to Goodwill where we donated a trunk full of goodies.  After the last few busy weekends, it was nice to have a quiet Monday.  I got to watch a little on the DVR, clean a bit more, and cook. 

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With my new CROCKPOT!  Isn’t it lovely?!

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I made an easy Taco Soup as my first dish, thinking it will make a delicious and heart lunch this week.  It was also smart to start slowly as I feel out the timing of this updated model.  We picked up some fish at the store, and the BOY is in charge of tonight’s dinner.  I also whipped up Tuesdays dinner.  I was such a fan of this make ahead technique that every week I’ve been putting crockpot dinners in a bag for the BOY to make while I’m at work.  I know you can freeze them too, so I need to try that!

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Right before I called it a day and went to relax (and blog) with Cooper on the couch, I threw in a loaf of Pumpkin Bread.  There hasn’t been nearly enough seasonal baking this fall!  My house smells amazing…recipe to come!

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Next weekend is scheduled for House Cleaning Part II (the upstairs).  There is much work to do in our closets and the office needs an entire week of work : )

Meal Planning 10/20/14

Monday: Roast Cod and Veggies

Tuesday: Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken Sausage

Thursday: TBD

Lunch: Crockpot Taco Soup (recipe below)

 

Hope you had a Souper Monday!

Crockpot Taco Soup

Adapted from The Taylor House

Ingredients

1 lb. ground turkey

1/2 cup onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Package taco seasoning

2-28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes

2-15 oz. can Pinto Beans, rinsed

1 Cup Water

Toppings: Doritos, cheese, avocado, scallions, sour cream, etc.

Directions

In a large pan brown your turkey with onion and garlic.  Place your meat in the bottom of the slow cooker, sprayed with cooking spray.  Add the taco seasoning, tomatoes, rinsed beans, and water to the slow cooker.

Cook on low for 6 hours.  Serve with toppings.

Six for Saturday

I think that I wrote a post about my meals and recipes this week, but never posted it.  Ah…another one of those weeks!  Fall is officially here, and I love the vibrant colors of the leaves.  It was a fairly busy week, and I missed my Friday post too (worst blogger ever!), so thought I could push it off to Saturday with an extra something to add.

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1. We saw Gone Girl with a few friends last night and it was fantastic!  Even the BOY liked it…

2. We did a huge house clean today, and our house is looking really good.  We still have a lot more cleaning to do, but I can definitely see us hosting our first Thanksgiving here this November.

3. Finally, we are catching up on the latest season of Downton Abby.  I forgot how much I like this show!

4. I had my wedding make up trial today.  Love the dramatic effect but just a bit sad that it was wasted on a Saturday night in eating Thai, watching Downton and drinking Sonoma Wine.  Ya’ll will have to wait until next October to see it : )

5. Speaking of wine, look who decided that our wine boxes were the best toy in town this week?!

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6. And the BOY and I decided that Sonoma wine is the best thing in town tonight!  Which is why I am signing off to have another glass…

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Happy Saturday Night!

{Chicago+Wedding} Weekend Recap

This past week, I found my way back into the groove.  After being sick, I was able to get back to eating on a normal schedule and worked out a whole bunch.  Saturday morning, I set my alarm for a 5 mile run.  The weather was PERFECT!  Then I quickly packed up a weekend bag and the BOY and I drove into the city to meet with a photographer (who we loved!).  Afterwards, I met my mom at the yoga studio in Lakeview for a Heart and Hip Opener Workshop.

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The teacher was knowledgeable and incredible!  The class flowed smoothly as we were gently encouraged into positions our bodies weren’t meant to attain and I’m not sure that my hips and shoulders have ever felt so alive!  After the class, we got dressed and ready for dinner and the theater.

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A big group of us went to see Avenue Q…which is absolutely hilarious by the way!  As long as you’re not offended by the puppet nudity that is!

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I went to bed immediately after we got back to our friends because my mom and I were up bright and early (actually it was still dark) to volunteer at the St. Jude tent for the Chicago Marathon.

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It was a chilly start to the day but it ended up being ideal running weather.  After we sent the St. Jude runners on their way, my mom and I grabbed signs and a cow bell and made our way along the course cheering on all the St. Jude heroes and thousands of other people tackling 26.2.

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We continued to walk along the course and by the time we realized we were close to where we were staying, we’d walked close to 8 miles.  In the end, we walked over 10 miles along the course and I was ready for lunch and a nap.  When I woke up, our city fun still had a few more stops in the form of white dresses!

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We had a successful trip to BHLDN (It might be my new favorite store and it’s not just because they serve bubbles)!

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I finally made my way back home a little before 8pm exhausted and exhilarated after our crazy weekend!

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I was greeted enthusiastically by Cooper and these still blooming gorgeous flowers!

I’m super excited to have made so much progress on our wedding (no…I didn’t buy a dress yet but I think I’m close) and loved spending the weekend with the BOY, my family, and our close friends laughing, eating, and cheering!

How was your weekend?  Are you still recovering?