The First Step is Admitting There is a Problem

 

 

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And I have a problem!  A work/life balance problem.  This blog is full of signs that my life has been off (let’s not go searching for them), but I can tell you that my stress levels have been through the roof, I’ve gained weight, I don’t have as much time for family and friends (or the BOY) that I’d like, and I feel like life is moving faster than I can catch up.  Just to name a few…

 

Furthermore, I seem to have lost sight of the big picture (a long healthy and active life) by getting bogged (and maybe sometimes dragged) down in miniscule daily stresses.  A change needed to be made!  It was time to figure out a solution. 

 

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I’ve known for a few months that I needed to make a change to my work situation, but I just wasn’t sure what that meant.  Professionally, I love what I do!  I work with incredible people who have inspired me and and encouraged my growth.  However, a job in pediatric health care is physically and emotionally exhausting.  Top that with a 60 mile round trip daily commute, 11+ hour work days, and a desire to train for new and exciting races…well, you get the picture.  Over the past few months,  I’ve had countless conversations with the BOY and my family who have listened patiently and shared their advice and suggestions.   Recently I decided to speak with my company about cutting my work hours from 4 days to just 2 beginning in June making today my last day as a full time employee.

 

This was not an easy decision.  We are taught that after high school, we should go off to college, get a degree, pursue a career, take a job with good benefits, and work hard.  There is no path that suggests it is wise to decrease your income by 50% (while your boyfriend/roommate is in law school non the less), yet this unmarked trail is the one I am looking forward to exploring.

 

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There were a few details that needed to be worked out (ie health insurance), yet the transition (thus far) has gone more smoothly than I expected.  Professionally, this change will allow me to explore other areas of interest and development that I have not had the time or energy to do in the past few years.  Personally, I am looking forward to catching up on sleep, meeting friends for lunch, learning tennis with the BOY, playing in the city with my family, reading more books, spending less money on tolls, getting to know my neighbors, updating my blog, going on vacation, doing more yoga, cooking dinners, responding to emails, taking a class, breathing fresh air, and feeling like a well rounded healthy adult.

Doesn’t that just sound wonderful?

 

Although this change was intended as a trial for summer, I am really hoping to have a more permanent, non-traditional work situation figured out by the fall that allows me to balance my love of working with children, helping others, and developing knowledge and skill, with the joy from spending time with my family and friends, relaxing, and playing!

 

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I am proud to have the courage to take this risk.  And…I am optimistic that I will discover professional opportunities and learn more about myself that will clear the path towards a successful, healthy, and unknown future!

 

 

How do you balance work, life, family, friends and fun?

Have you ever made a big professional change?

Under the Grey Clouds

We’ve hit the ultimate low with lack of food in our house.  I’m not exactly sure how this happened because I did go to the grocery store (two I think) this past weekend but we are basically out of veggies and protein.  We do have plenty of fresh fruit though.  As I took a quick break from the Hawk’s game last night to prepare today’s food, trying to keep my eyes open from exhaustion, this was blatantly clear!

 

I typically use the the week night’s to prep for the day ahead.  This means picking out my clothes and making breakfast (if needed) in order to be as quick as possible getting out the door in the morning.  Last night as I thought about what to eat for my pre run breakfast, running through my typical list, I realized that I didn’t have many options.  No oatmeal, oats, bread, cooked quinoa etc.  I do have eggs, but Thursday mornings are early up and out the door so no time for eggs.  What I did have was a cooked sweet potato and a love of this Chia and Flax Bowl.  Well…I figured I’d give it a try.  And then packed up a LaraBar as a back up!

 

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First step, I mashed up my sweet potato and added in some banana.

 

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Then measured out the rest of my ingredients.  For Overnight Oats and Chia Bowls, I tend to use the scale for easy clean up.

 

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Breakfast went into the fridge and I went back to the couch to watch the Hawk’s overtime.  Thank you Hawks for scoring (again) because I was definitely ready for bed!  Bright and early (ok, maybe just early because it’s not really bright at 5:45am), I was downstairs curious about my breakfast.

 

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I was meeting a friend for an indoor interval run at the track.  We both ran the Soldier Field 10 Miler this weekend but were eager to get back to our weekly workouts.

 

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I ate half of my surprisingly tasty breakfast in the car on the way to the track.  No LaraBar needed!!!  I’m a huge fan of the texture common in chia seed bowls and anything with sweet potatoes makes me happy.  I got to the gym late and found my friend running along the track.  We started a 90 second push/90 second recovery interval workout which lasted about 15 minutes before my coworker needed to head off to work.  I had an extra 15 minutes before I needed to shower, so I ran at an easy pace.  Although 30 minutes was a little shorter of a workout than I had planned, after my busy weekend and Tuesday swim, it was enough.

 

I worked my second 11-12 hour work day in a row.  At one point today, we had a quick and crazy rain shower, but the skies cleared by the time I left work at  7:45pm.

 

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The clouds were incredible (they looked like fireworks) when I walked out of my office.  As I was sitting in intense construction traffic, there was another dense cloud off to the side.  I was feeling silly for taking pictures at the stop light until I realized that the person behind me was also taking pictures and the people to my left were pointing at the cloud.

 

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I don’t think the picture does the depth and size justice!  There were blue skies ahead and unique clouds at every stop light.

 

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I drove home with the windows down listening to the Lumineers CD trying to unwind after a LONG day.  About 3 miles before my exit on the highway, the skies ahead were jet black and you could see the line where the clouds changed from light to dark.

 

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We had a huge grey cloud hanging over our city!

 

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I walked in the door just as the first drops began to fall.

 

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The sky this evening was astonishing!  And I just added this last picture because I thought it turned out pretty cool.  The symbolism of the grey cloud was not lost on me.  Despite seeing the darkness under tonight’s cloud, I knew that the clouds would soon move on over another city and when I wake up tomorrow there will be blue skies ahead…followed by an amazing weekend.  Hooray for my girls only slumber party!  And maybe a trip to the grocery store for more food : )  Luckily, I have another half of sweet potato to remake this breakfast again for tomorrow!

 

 

Sweet Potato Chia Bowl

 

Ingredients

1/2 sweet potato, baked and mashed

1/2-1 banana, mashed

2 tbsp ground flax

2 tbsp chia seeds

1-2 tsp cinnamon

dash of vanilla

1/2 cup almond milk

 

Directions

Combine all ingredients and stir well.  Place in refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, stir, top with your favorite flavors, fruits, and nuts, and enjoy!

 

 

Do you run out of food by the end of the week?

Do you ever contemplate the clouds?

Yoga and Chicken Tagine

After 40 miles (running and biking) on Lake Shore Drive this weekend, I was surprised with how good I felt when I woke up this morning.  I am a little tight along the lower part of my right calf, but other than that, not sore at all!  This weekend in the city, I passed multiple yoga studios and kept thinking that it would be great to get to a yoga class.  I am always jealous of all of the studios in the city and sometimes forget how lucky I am to have an incredible local studio with high caliber teachers and friendly yogi’s.  Even better…they often have classes on holidays.  This morning, there were 3 classes.  I slept in and went to the 11:30am class, which is usually much less crowded than the 10am class.  I arrived early, which was good since the class was pretty busy.  The studio was hot and humid from the class before, and I was sweating almost immediately.  I had plenty of time to prep for the class before the teacher arrived.  My first priority after biking this weekend was laying on my back over a bolster to stretch out my pecs.  Then, it was on to my low back before quietly laying supine and setting my intentions for the class.  After the athletic high of the weekend, I dedicated today’s practice to taking care of body and having fun this summer.

 

As I slid into my first downward facing dog, this class popped into my head and I immediately dropped any tension in my body and adjusted my posture.  The class today was TOUGH!  And not just because I was tired.  I was dripping sweat from every pore in my body throughout the entire class.  After the challenging ab work, I sunk deep into my hip stretches.  Ahh…my hips definitely needed the length.  After the 75 minute class, I was supine in resting pose before Shavasana officially began.

 

After yoga, I ran out to Whole Foods to pick up a few groceries and some soup and chili for lunch.  Not your typical Memorial Day lunch, I know.  Although I am starting to feel better, the BOY is coming down with a sore throat (and possibly the summer cold I had), so we chose to take it easy today.  Despite being May, I was in the mood for some comfort food.  We had soup/chili for lunch, but I didn’t want to make more because it is supposed to be back up to 80 degrees by Wednesday.  But since it was a crockpot kind of day, I settled with another one of my cool weather favorites…tagine!

 

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The BOY and I like meal planning and for a few weeks we were doing it consistently.  Unfortunately, with my crazy and unpredictable schedule, it has been harder to plan ahead these last few weeks.  I haven’t had the energy for the extra effort involved and haven’t been home early enough to make dinner.  With the BOY in between semester and summer school, it is much easier to let him prepare dinner on the grill.  This upcoming week will most likely be the same; however, I will have tagine for lunch/dinner throughout the week.  I guess that’s a plan!

 

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I love the combination of flavors in this dish that includes sweet apricots, ginger, and cinnamon.  But, I really chose it because I could easily throw all of the ingredients into the crockpot and let it do all of the heavy lifting.

 

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The recipe is supposed to be served with couscous, but could easily be poured over a baked sweet potato or brown rice.  As the tagine spent the afternoon cooking in the crockpot, I got prepped for the week ahead and watched a little TV (the Elementary season finally is AWESOME) before snuggling into my couch with a glass of red wine.

 

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Meanwhile, the BOY was in charge of dinner on the grill.  After a rainy morning and a grey day, the weather was in our favor to make orange roughy with brussels sprouts.

 

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It’s hard to believe after such a wordy post, but my eyelids are heavy and I am exhausted.  I’m going to try to stay up to cheer on the Blackhawks, but I’m not sure I’ll be awake through the second period.  My body can use the rest, and I’ve got big plans to go swimming tomorrow morning before work.

 

If you like this recipe, here are a few other Moroccan inspired meals!

Chickpea Tagine

Chickpea and Date Tagine

Root Vegetable Tagine

 

Chicken Tagine

From All Recipes.com

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes (I subbed in parsnip today since the BOY doesn’t like eggplant)

2 large onions, thinly sliced

4 large carrots, thinly sliced

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons garlic salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

Directions

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken pieces and eggplant in the heated oil; stir and cook until the chicken is browned on all sides but not cooked through. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Place the browned chicken and eggplant on the bottom of a slow cooker. Layer the onion, carrots, (parsnips if using), dried cranberries, and apricots over the chicken.

Whisk together the chicken broth, tomato paste, lemon juice, flour, garlic salt, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and ground black pepper in a bowl. Pour the broth mixture into the slow cooker with the chicken and vegetables.

Cook on High setting for 5 hours, or on Low setting for 8 hours.

Back on the Drive

Since I was staying in the city (thanks bro!), I didn’t have to get up super early yesterday morning to drive into the city for Bike the Drive.  However, I woke up just after 6am before my alarm.  I could say it was excitement, but most likely the BOY’s snoring : )  I ate a quick breakfast, bundled up in layers, and grabbed my bike to head for the drive around 6:45am.

 

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This is my forth year in a row doing Bike the Drive; however, this was my first year without my Mom and brother (they both had super fun Memorial Day plans).

 

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I was happy to see that I wasn’t sore from Saturday’s 10 Miler.  The streets were quiet as I pedaled east towards the drive.  I had no agenda for the day, but was hoping to get in a nice long ride. 

 

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I wasn’t sure what the weather would look like.  The morning was chilly, but beautiful!  I merged onto Lake Shore Drive at Belmont heading south.

 

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There is an indescribable feeling that I get each year when I join other riders of every age, shape, size and background for an early morning bike ride on the drive.  And the view is stunning!

 

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I rode south towards Grant Park, through the check point collecting a free water bottle, and down to the Museum of Science and Industry.

 

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This check point is always packed with riders stopping to stretch their legs and grab a snack.  I stopped to eat my breakfast and snatch a few mini Cliff bars.

 

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And then rode back to Lake Shore this time heading north.  Since I’ve done this ride before, I was looking forward to getting some new pictures and views this year.  One of the best city views from the south (also my favorite during the Soldier Field 10 Miler) is this one…

 

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This was a popular spot for photos, so I quickly tried to catch myself with the skyline in a picture before getting back on my bike.

 

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I rode the 15 miles north past Soldier Field, Buckingham Fountain, and Navy Pier.  When I looked down to see I had already gone 25 miles, I was shocked at how good my legs felt for my longest ride of the year.

 

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I arrived at the north rest stop which is off Bryn Mar Avenue around 9am just as the BOY was waking up and calling to Say Hello.  He was impressed that I’d already rode 28 miles.  I grabbed an apple and soaked up some sun.

 

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With just a few miles to go to complete my loop, the sun was starting to emerge!  The north side of the route is a little less crowded, but still fun to see all of the biker’s whizzing by.

 

LSD and Belmont 2013

 

I considered biking a little longer, but instead decided to exit at Belmont and ride back towards my brother’s for a coffee and some lunch.

 

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I rode a total of 33 miles, which is my longest ride of the year.  After a quick shower, I really felt fantastic although tired from two early mornings.  I changed into comfy casual clothes and walked down to Starbucks for some caffeine.

 

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The streets were starting to come alive and bikers were making their way back from the drive.  Although it was a chilly morning, it wasn’t nearly as cold as 2011.  The BOY and I stopped for pizza at one of our favorite restaurants on our way back to the suburbs where I took another nap before enjoying a quiet night in.   With a crammed city weekend  of activity, it meant that we had to say no to some other Memorial Day plans, but for me it was totally worth it.  I was so elated riding down Lake Shore Drive yesterday, and I know that happy feeling will follow me throughout the summer. 

 

The BOY and I are spending Memorial Day together laying low and catching up on sleep after a busy weekend!  What are you up to today?

 

 

 

 

Thanks for riding with us!

 

See you again next year!

 

More from Lake Shore Drive

Bike the Drive 2012

Bike the Drive 2011

Starting Summer on LSD [Lake Shore Drive]

Memorial Day is the kick to for summer and despite the cold temperatures here in Chicago, that is exactly what we did!  For the second year in a row, I booked a back to back weekend with the Soldier Field 10 Miler and Bike the Drive.

 

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Saturday morning, the BOY and I were up super early (think 5am).  We loaded up the car and made a quick stop at Starbucks for some back tea before getting on the highway.

 

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Last year, I almost missed the race due to traffic, so we left a little earlier this year.  I was in the purple corral scheduled to close at 6:45am.  Since last year we came in from the south, this year we tried the north.  Again, we were met with massive amounts of traffic.  The good news is that we were able to map out our route for next year (we’ll come from the west) even though we didn’t arrive as early as I would have liked.

 

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It felt great to be back at Soldier Field!

 

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By the time we made it to the corrals, it was close to 6:45am, and I really needed to pee.  This year I stayed much calmer than last about the whole running late thing.  I had a close friend who I have been training with who was waiting in corral 12, so I was able to use the port-a-potties and meet up with her before the race.

 

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It was so fun to have a friend with me at the start of the race, and we were able to chat before we finally made our way to the starting line 45 minutes later.  We ran together south down Lake Shore Drive for the first 3 miles and then split up.  After mile 3, I sped ahead.  At the half way point, my time was right about 44 minutes.  When I turned back north towards the stadium, I felt strong and kept a steady pace.  I think that my slower first few miles allowed me to conserve some energy, so my last 7 miles averaged just above 8 minute/miles.  I’d say this was pretty good considering I have been sick and my nose was running for most of the race (note to self..bring Kleenex next time!).

 

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I finished slower than I had in years past, but it was well worth running with my friend!  Plus, this might be my first ever negative split race.  Now that is an accomplishment!  Of note, my new shoes were fantastic!  They were light and supportive, and handled their first long run without any issues.  I heart Brooks running shoes!

 

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I felt great when I was done (although pretty cold!), and I easily found the BOY waiting for me in the stands.  This race continues to be one of my favorites.  It is well run and organized perfectly!  The volunteers are friendly and fun, and you know I love getting a medal.  This year, we even got reusable bags with our post-race snacks.  I had to take my annual post run picture in the stands (you can see the other two in last year’s post) before heading to the post-race party for a beer.

 

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This is the first year that runners have earned a free beer, and I was super excited that it was 312!  As you can see, I was pretty sweaty and since the sun wasn’t shining, I started to get cold.  I sipped half of my beer alternating between that and coconut water for hydration.

 

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We didn’t stay at the post race party too long since I desperately needed a shower and really didn’t want to get more sick.  We drove up to my brother’s condo on the north side of the city.  I showered which really warmed me up, and then the BOY and I walked over to Wishbone to meet his grade school friend who is in town for the weekend.

 

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Wishbone has unique and incredible food, so it was the perfect post-race meal.  After lunch, I dragged the BOY over to Southport for a quick shopping trip to Lululemon and David’s Tea.  And then we crashed for an afternoon nap.  I was reluctant to wake up after an exhausting morning, but we had dinner plans with the BOY’s friend, his brother, and wife.  I enjoyed a cold beer and delicious food while catching up over dinner.  It was a super laid back and fun evening!

 

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After dinner, the BOY and I watched a little hockey before falling back into bed.

I had another early morning on Sunday!  Despite my family bailing on me this year, I was excited to head back to Lake Shore Drive for my 4th year of Bike the Drive!

 

Did you race this weekend?

How did it go?

 

 

Soldier Field 10 Miler Results

1:24:44

Age Group 204/1614

 

Mile 1: 9:46

Mile 2: 8:54

Mile 3: 8:56

Mile 4: 8:25

Mile 5: 8:01

Mile 6: 8:14

Mile 7: 8:18

Mile 8: 8:08

Mile 9: 8:08

Mile 10: 7:51

 

Average 8:44 min/miles

Last 7 mile Average 8:03 min/miles

Finally…

You may read this title and think that I am referring to the fact that it is FINALLY Friday, or FINALLY the long holiday weekend, or perhaps even FINALLY the weather has started to feel like spring (oh wait, no…it was 50 degrees today!).

 

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But no, I am referencing the fact that I was FINALLY able to make this Banana Quinoa Baked Breakfast that I’ve been wanting to make for weeks.  At first I had overripe bananas, but no quinoa.  Then there was the few days we ran out of eggs after making Apple Eggie Cups.  So FINALLY I had all of the ingredients I needed to make this breakfast.  And perfect timing too as I will need breakfast on the go this weekend.

 

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This recipe was inspired by the success of THIS RECIPE and of course the PR that followed : )

 

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Last night, I whipped up my breakfast bake.

 

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Warning: this is not a sweet brekkie, but the quinoa brings its nutty flavor which always works well with bananas and cinnamon.

 

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I had my first slice this morning, and I am saving the next two for this weekend.  The last slice is waiting in the freezer.

 

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I topped it with almond butter and slices of banana for some extra flavor and protein.  It was delicious!

 

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Finally…I am feeling a little better and stronger and ready to tackle tomorrow’s 10 mile run!  This is my third year doing this super fun race, and I swear they made it even earlier this year, which means I should really be heading to bed.  The BOY and I are spending Saturday and possibly Sunday night downtown.  Fingers crossed, it doesn’t rain too hard!

 

 

What are your Memorial Day weekend plans?

We aren’t hosting our annual BBQ this year, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about after the weekend!

 

 

Banana Quinoa Baked Breakfast

Serves 4

 

Ingredients

3 overripe bananas, mashed

2 cups cooked quinoa

1 egg

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp cinnamon

1 cup almond milk

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8×8 or 9×9 pan with cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.

Pour batter into the pan and bake for 40 minutes, until center is set.

Let cool before eating.  Store in an airtight container or freeze.

Forced Taper

Flannel jammies at noon?  You know what that means!  I’m sick!

I have a wicked sore throat, most likely not strep, but my doctor thinks it’s a virus.  Plus, the sore throat has made falling asleep tough, so I am exhausted after a few sleepless nights!  I am spent Wednesday on the couch drinking  tea and watching DVR.

 

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There are also blogs to read and books to order on Amazon (dangerous), and most likely a nap!  Most of the day the sky poured buckets, which explains my sinus headache and inability to string together words for a blog post.  For dinner, the BOY and I ordered some Chinese food delivery.  Wow, this is one lazy day!  I have a feeling tomorrow and Friday will be just as relaxed as I am hoping to kick this virus before the upcoming long weekend.  Hope you are well!  Have a happy hump day!