A Little Snow Can’t Stop Me

Hey All! 

Happy Halloween!

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This Halloween Friday was a great way to wrap up the work week.  Although there was talk of the ‘worst storms in 18 years’, it turned out to be a relatively dry (although super windy) day.  In fact, we woke up this morning with SNOW on our cars.  I was lucky enough to go into work late and had planned on an AM run.  Let me tell you…after the last winter we had, ain’t no sprinkling of snow gonna to stop me from running outside on a day like today.  I dressed in some warm weather gear, complete with wool socks, and took to the path for a chilly but sunny run.

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By the time I got home, I was sweating!  And super happy that  little chill didn’t persuade me out of my run.  After work, the BOY and I went out for dinner.  As we discussed dessert, I confessed that I have been craving some spiked cider.  The BOY agreed and offered up his bourbon to compliment the sweet cider we found at the store.

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I warmed up the cider with cinnamon sticks and cloves and we sipped this warm bevvy while we watched the Bulls game.

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The plan is to head to bed early as I am teaching kids yoga on Saturdays at work starting tomorrow morning.  We are doing a fall theme and I am excited for this new group of kids to begin.  I have a nice mix of kids who have participated in past classes and new kids.  Each class, my confidence and skills grow and we always have a lot of fun!  Although it also sounds like fun to stay up drinking warm adult beverages : )  I was thinking mulled wine for Thanksgiving, but we might have to switch that to spiked cider!

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Since it’s the last day of the month, it’s GOAL time!  But first, the BOY just put on a Michael Jackson song and Cooper immediately hit the ground break dancing.  I wish I had captured it on video because he’d be a YouTube sensation!

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So anyways…we were talking about goals.

September/October Goals

1. Really start eating more greens

I’ve been better but not great!

2. Do weekly yoga

Yes!  Between teaching the kids and my own practice, including unique workshops and gong meditations, I’ve been getting in a lot of yoga and loving it!

3. Go for long bike rides

Major fail! Even with the best of intentions, I haven’t had the time to get my bike out for any long rides.  We’ll have to see if the weather stays warm enough for any future rides to come.

4. Volunteer for the marathon

My mom and I had a BLAST volunteering this year.

5. Move forward with wedding plans

Some have told me that I need to slow down but I am super happy to share that most (if not all) of our big wedding plans are set and booked.  We will definitely be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the months ahead!

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November/December Goals

1. Exercise 5 days per week

*Just a little background…I joined a group at the yoga studio PUSHing us to work hard to meet my goals during the last 90 days of the year.  One of the goals is to workout 5 days a week.  So far, I have rocked this goal (hence the sunrise pic above).  Hoping to keep this up through the end of the year.  BTW…PUSH stand for Persist Until Something Happens.

2. Host our first Thanksgiving

3. Teach another community yoga class

4. Eat clean (even during the holidays)

Since the end of the year is usually busy, I’m going to keep the goals simple and doable and end them (and this post) there…

 

How did you celebrate Halloween?

What are your goals for the last 60ish days of the year?

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?

The Return of MM

Not Marvelous Monday (although today was pretty awesome)…but, Meatless Monday!

I woke up early yesterday morning and got my meals all planned out for the week.  With the chill in the air, I was ready for some autumn recipes!

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My meals have been lacking in the greens and veggies this past week, so I stocked up!

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This morning, I headed to the gym for a workout.  My trainer actually got a promotion so I started with a new trainer today.  It was a good workout, but I could definitely tell that I am not fully recovered from last week’s illness.  Even more reason to be eating lots of vitamins and veggies!

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After my workout, I swung by Whole Foods to pick up a probiotic (Good Belly is my favorite and I am hoping that it will get my stomach back under control).  My store just opened a smoothie bar and I happily sucked down a Caribbean Green post-workout drink on my way back home.

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While the BOY clicked away on his computer, I got started on fall soup.   It was exciting to pull out my soup pot again!

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This recipe is chock full of veggies, beans, and lentils complete with kale and cabbage.

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Perfect to keep you warm on those chilly fall days!

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Unfortunately, this pictures doesn’t do the soup justice because we rushed out of the house this afternoon to head downtown to meet with a photographer for our wedding.  I am confident that his photos will be much better looking than mine : )

Combined with this Autumn Chopped Salad, it’s going to be an exciting week of fall eats!

What is your favorite soup recipe?

What do you eat for Meatless Monday?

 

Meal Planning 10/05/14

Sunday: Buffalo Turkey Chili

Monday: Out to Eat

Tuesday: Sweet Potato Bar (with chicken and broccoli)

Wednesday: BBQ Pork and Veggies

Thursday: Leftovers

 

Lentil, Bean, and Kale Soup (aka Autumn Soup)

Slightly adapted from Glow Kitchen

Ingredients

1 bunch kale leaves

1 can (15-1/2 ounces) black eyed peas, rinsed

¼ cup red lentils

¼ cup green lentils

1 medium onion, diced

3 small carrots, diced

1/2 cabbage, chopped

2 garlic cloves, whole (or chopped)

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

28 ounces canned crushed tomato

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 -3 cups water (or veggie stock)

Directions

Sauté the diced onions, carrots, cabbage, and red pepper with garlic cloves in olive oil until they start becoming soft. Chop kale leaves and add them to the pan. Sauté another 5 minutes. The kale leaves will lose their volume. Next add tomato paste, mashing it with a spatula to disperse throughout. Once evenly combined, add the crushed tomatoes, lentils, and beans. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, basil, cumin, red pepper flakes, and soy sauce.

Add water/veggie stock so that there is a 2-inch difference between the top of the water and the top of the mixture. Bring to a boil.  Then lower to a simmer cooking for 50-60 minutes until carrot and kale leafs are soft enough to eat.

Serve warm with crusty bread or freeze for later.