I’ve Got a Good One For You…

But don’t’ be mad at me!

Although I am sharing a recipe, it is neither hearty nor healthy but instead a sinfully delicious dessert!  I probably should have stared with a confession…I LOVE cake batter and could binge on it all day long!  Okay, maybe not super surprising based on the amount of cake mix recipes this blog has on it, but still not easy to say type out loud.

Life for the BOY, Cooper, and I continues to be super busy and super amazing!!!

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Cooper love all the city has to offer, especially the food.

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Here he is attempting to hone in on our biscuits from Bang Bang!

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The BOY is also adjusting well to city life.  Last weekend, we celebrating his birthday with dinner at Bavette’s followed by cocktails at Band of Bohemia.

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This past week, the weather was incredible and I took full advantage by biking to work on Thursday.

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It takes a lot of planning, but is totally worth it!  I am thankful to have a job where you can show up and work in your ‘active ware’ straight off your bike.  This Thursday, we did a work potluck.  Although I signed up for an ap, I was craving something sweet and happy.

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Wednesday night, I walked over to Mariano’s and came back with the ingredients to make one of the many Cake Batter Dips on my Pinterest board.

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First I threw a batch of 2 Ingredient Muffins (with chocolate cake mix) into the oven and then pulled out my handheld mixer for work on the dip.

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If I told you this dip was good, you probably wouldn’t be surprised but downright bingeable, you might accuse me of exaggerations…

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But trust me, the BOY, and my coworkers when I tell you that this recipe is nothing shy of divine!

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I served it with graham sticks which were the perfect vehicle and compliment to this sweet dip!

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This dip is great to make the night before and travels well (even in a backpack on a bike).

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After work on Thursday, I met up with the BOY and my SIL for date night at Big Star.  We had the BEST night eating dinner outside appreciating the 70 degree evening (and the pitcher of margaritas)!

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Overall, it was a day of delcioiusness!

Enjoy!

Cake Batter Dip

From Fresh April Flours

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • Half of a box of Funfetti Cake Mix (approximately 1 ½ cups dry)
  • 6 Tablespoons milk (any milk is fine…I happened to have whole in the house)
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • ⅓ cup sprinkles plus more for decorating

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and no lumps remain.
  2. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add half of the Funfetti mix. Add half of the milk and and mix until combined. Add remaining Funfetti mix and milk and increase mixer to medium speed to blend.
  3. Again, reduce mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar. Increase mixer to medium speed and blend until completely combined.
  4. Stir in sprinkles with a spatula. Serve with pretzels, graham crackers, cookies, or your favorite crunchy treat. Cake batter dip will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

A Chocolate Problem…

What’s worse than a sunshine problem…clearly a chocolate problem!  Ha ha!

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I mean…it’s much better than focusing on any real life problems.  Right?!

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I am a huge fan of mouse and have made a few different recipes.  You may remember that I tried once to do it with coconut milk and it was a major fail.  I put that behind me and decided to try again last weekend when we hosted friends for Sunday night dinner.

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This recipe was simple enough but I bought some amazing store-made fudge as a back up.

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The fudge was appreciated and enjoyed but certainly not necessary sine this mousse/pudding turned out delicious!

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The BOY and our guests enjoyed it, even with the missing dairy.

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And I LOVED every chocolately bite!

 

Other Life Updates…

-To combat my chocolate problem and in appreciation of the sunshine problem, I have exploring new routes in my running shoes lately, which feels amazing!

-We celebrated the BOY’s birthday this past weekend starting Friday night with dinner at home and the Indiana game.  I made Chrissy Teigen’s meatloaf and I highly recommend it!

-Last night we went to Bavette’s for dinner, and I highly recommend that as well!

-I have been trying a bunch of yoga studios and classes trying to find the right fit…I’ll keep you posted!

-My crockpot has been super busy as always.  This week I went to the archives to make Crockpot Chicken Caccitore.

-We are super excited to host Thanksgiving again this year…can’t believe it’s less than 2 weeks away!

 

Dark Chocolate Coconut Pudding

From Stupid Easy Paleo

Ingredients

  • 2 cups full-fat coconut milk
  • 100 g of 85% to 90% dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces (I used Godiva)
  • 1 tbsp high-quality gelatin
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Heat the coconut milk on medium-low in a heavy-bottomed pot. You want to warm it enough to dissolve the gelatin but not boil. Add the chocolate and whisk constantly until it melts.
  2. Once the chocolate has melted, whisk in the gelatin by slowly pouring as you whisk. If you just dump the whole tablespoon in, it’ll get clumpy.
  3. Turn off the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.
  4. Pour into your desired glasses or cups and chill for at least 2 hours or until set.

A Sunshine Problem

We are having a serious problem in Chicago (and from what I hear other parts of the country are as well).  It’s a 70 degree November! 

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Although this doesn’t sound like a serious problem, or even a problem at all, I can assure you that it is.  You see, it is really quite challenging to get anything done when it is absolutely gorgeous outside.  Case and point, I had a 3 day weekend and spent very little time at home at all.  It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon that I finally slowed down enough to grocery shop, finish laundry, and ‘adult’ for a bit.

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Friday, I was supposed to go to a continuing ed course but after a busy and exhausting week, I decided I needed a mental health day.  I didn’t set an alarm and took my time enjoying a morning latte and breakfast while doing some yoga planning.  It was such a beautiful day, I knew I wanted to run.  I figured it’d be fun to head down to Wrigleyville to catch some of the Cubs action and say ‘Hi’ to my mom. 

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I ran the two miles down to Wrigley with the crowds of blue shirts growing as I got closer.  I explored a bit and then finally found my mom and our friend.  We had a great spot to watch the trolleys go by and then moved into another fabulous location to see the players head off on top of their buses.

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I ran back home and showered before spending the afternoon with some out of town friends and then hosted an impromptu dinner at our house Friday night.  Saturday, I was up and on my bike teaching a private yoga lesson and then getting in a strength session at the gym.  With all the beautiful weather (plus our move), my gym time has been limited and I’m beginning to miss my muscles.

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The BOY and I decided to walk a few blocks over to Lincoln Square for lunch and the butcher.  We were debating which place to stop for outdoor seating and a beer.  We changed our mind on the butcher and walked a mile and a half down Lincoln where we did find lunch, a delicious new beer, and college football.

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It was a spectacular day and we Ubered  home with our meat to go hang out on the back porch.

I had a much needed quiet Saturday night in catching up on sleep.  Sunday was another stunning day.  I took a yoga class across the street and then the BOY and I met my brother and SIL for Dim Sum in Chinatown. 

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Everyone was shocked to hear that this was my first time in Chicago’s Chinatown (other than running through during the marathon) and so we took a quick walk along the square before driving back home.  The BOY had work to do and I strolled down to the grocery store for food for the week.  Although I knew I had a few important things to do once I got home, it was tempting to just walk to the lakefront and spend the afternoon in the sunshine.  Hence…the sunshine problem!

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I must admit this problem is a great problem to have as I know that any week now we could be hit with a snow storm.  So until then I will enjoy the extra vitamin D and know that there will be plenty of winter weekends to finally clean my closets and ‘adult’ a bit more : )

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It’s Not Selfish…

Tonight, I went running out of work with barely a goodbye to my coworkers and friends telling my boss I was in need of some ‘Self Care’ in hopes of getting home in time for a 7pm yoga class.  My work schedule has been fairly inconsistent which has made planning in workouts and classes more difficult.  On top of that, the Cubs have me partying like it’s 1999 (the college not the high school portion, mom and dad!).

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So I ran out of work, sped home, changed quickly and felt grateful that the yoga studio was right across the street.  When I walked in, the yoga teacher said to me…I was just thinking about you (we are collaborating on a course) and was just looking at your resume today.  It was like she knew I was coming.  I said how happy I was to be there and found a place for my mat.

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We got started with breath work and stretching and it was clear from the start what a cohesive class we formed. When it came time to set an intention, the teacher suggested that we set one for Self-Care…I mean seriously universe, could your message be more clear???  I set my intention, worked through my practice and VERY happily left the studio 80 minutes later.  And then entered the doorway straight across which happens to belong to this absolutely spectacular wine bar called Ampersand.

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I picked up a kale salad to go (because it is the most amazing thing ever) and paired it with some leftovers and red wine for dinner.  Life has been pretty non-stop lately in only the BEST way!  On top of my regular work and yoga teaching schedules, the Chicago Cubs madness has taken over our lives a bit.  I come from a mixed household when it comes to baseball and am your stereotypical fair weather fan, but this excitement 108 years in the making is hard to escape when you’re living just a few miles away…not that we would want to.

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Last Saturday, the BOY and I met friends for a local brew tour followed by lunch with all our new best friends.  We ended up enjoying some fun local beer and walking all over the neighborhood.

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We had just enough time when we got home to shower and change into our blue and red for the (sad) Saturday night World Series game.  By Sunday night, a bit of the chaos had calmed down and I decided to accompany my mom and our friends for a walk around Wrigley.  It was unlike anything I have ever seen and really incredible.  The energy of the city was electric!

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It even had me staying up way past my bed time for a baseball game.  Rare!!!  By Monday everyone was exhausted, but we kept trucking on making it out for Tuesday nights game and staying up until the wee hours to watch the Cubs win the World Series on Wednesday night.  The win was followed by cheering, singing, and horn honking, even in our quiet neighborhood.  Which of course had Cooper running for cover.  It’s not at all surprising that I was craving a yoga class tonight.  I am working hard to find balance in this new city with a much more active social life and so many fun opportunities.

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And with that in mind, I decided to skip the free continuing ed class I was supposed to go to tomorrow in favor of some sleep and exercise…and perhaps a bath!

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I just keep reminding myself…it’s not selfish, it’s SELF CARE!  And much needed!

 

How do you fit in ‘self care’? 

To Blog or Not to Blog?!

Ahh!  Isn’t that always the question!  Clearly, recently I have not been doing much blogging.  I also have not been doing much cooking or exercising but we can save that discussion for another day. 

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What have I been doing?  Well, you know, the usual ‘I just moved to a fun city after waiting 8 years’ kind of stuff like drinking wine with friends, going out on school nights, and working/networking!

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When I started this blog, I had a lot of free time on my hands.  Ever since we moved in July, there seems to be less of this down time.  The BOY and I have spent a lot more time doing things together (even on week nights) and we have spent more time with our family and friends.  Blogging isn’t the only thing that has kind of gotten lost in the shuffle.  Other than sporting events, I watch WAY less TV (we are super behind on every show) and I haven’t spent full days in my kitchen whipping out snacks for an army. 

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I have been thinking about this shift and I believe there are a few things going on.  First of all, I am choosing to do different things with my down time than I did before.  This means less blogging/TV time and more reading and yoga planning.  In some ways, I look at this as non-attachment. I read somewhere in my yoga books over the summer about the importance of non attachment. I didn’t understand it at the time, but after living 2 months with all of my ‘stuff’ (okay, most of it, Mom…not all of it) in storage, I became less ‘attached’ to things that I once thought I needed.  TV falls into this category as does all of the boxes of my belongings that I donated after our move.  I think that this is a good thing.  It means that I am a little less stressed when I miss an episode (or season) of my favorite shows and just make/cook something without any pictures or stories to share on the blog.  It also means that I went through and cut way back on the blogs that I follow.  I also decluttered my inbox by unsubscribing to the majority of mass emails I get and renewed less magazines.  Do I miss blogging and a few great shows? YES!  But am I happy?  Definitely!

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Unfortunately, the non attachment has not carried over to wine or chocolate.  Which leads me to my second point.  When something is new, it feels way more fun, and that makes it tough to miss out on.  The BOY and I are both working a bunch of hours so when we aren’t working, we are always excited to explore our new neighborhood.  We have had tons of city plans, a trip to Door County, and hometown sports rolling in.  I anticipate as the newness of living in the city wears off and the reality of Chicago winters arrives that I will find myself with more down time and the desire to reconnect with my blogging.  I guess we will just have to see.

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So what does this mean for the blog?  I dunno yet!  My plan is to continue to share my adventures, recipes, and pictures of my cute Cooper but for now at a less frequent pace.  We’ll just have to take it one day at a time.  Right now I want to make sure that I have the energy to get acclimated to my new jobs, keep up with my weekly yoga classes, connect with my husband and kitten, host friends for chili (like we did this past weekend), and FINALLY bike to work!  

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What big changes are coming your way this fall?

Bloggers, do you have ups and downs?

Lately I’ve Been XXXI…

Biking through Chicago

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Celebrating the Holidays with my Family

Teaching A TON of kids yoga

Trying to find an adult yoga teaching gig

Making French Toast

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Unpacking the last of my boxes

Making Chili

Actually watching baseball (in my Cubs tshirt)

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Trying to figure out an exercise routine

Enjoying fall

Hosting friends for chili and football

Taking tons of skyline pictures during my commute

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Cuddling with Cooper

Going out for dinner

Celebrating 1 Year of Marriage with my Best Friend!

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What’s new with you lately???

Burgers, Brownies, and BS

The BOY and I got invited to a Burgers, Brownies, and BS party for Monday night’s debate, and because we live in the city, we were able to go…on a school night.  Not surprisingly, I only supplied the brownies.  And maybe a bit of BS!

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Also because we live in the city, we have been SO BUSY that I haven’t been able to sit down and share this recipe or do  much of anything except work and play.  So for that reason, the BOY and I are spending Saturday night in chilaxing, watching TV, and doing a bit of laundry.  Sometimes, life is just too exciting  : )

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So the real reason for this post is not political or to tell you how much fun I’ve been having lately although that might come up…It’s brownies!!!

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I went outside the norm and whipped up my first batch of black bean brownies!

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They were surprisingly easy and even more surprisingly tasty!

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Our game plan was to make a batch of homemade ice cream to serve with them.  However, we didn’t freeze our ice cream bowl overnight and sadly the ice cream stayed in liquid form.

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So instead, we concocted Brownie Cookie Dough Surprise (which really doesn’t have a surprise) and just consists of the brownies (warmed up is best!) topped with the cookie dough that didn’t go into our ice cream, whip cream, and a raspberry on top.  They were a HUGE hit and I don’t think anybody minded one bit.  The debate on the other hand…that is a whole another story…

Do you ever hide sub beans or healthy foods into your desserts?

 

Black Bean Brownies

From Chocolate Covered Katie

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (10g)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats (40g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or agave (75g)
  • 2 tbsp sugar (or omit and increase maple syrup to 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil (40g)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips (115-140g) (Not optional. Omit at your own risk.)
  • optional: more chips, for presentation (I used white chocolate because that’s what I had)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Really blend well. (A blender can work if you absolutely must, but the texture—and even the taste—will be much better in a food processor.)

Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut. If they still look a bit undercooked, you can place them in the fridge overnight and they will magically firm up!

Makes 9-12 brownies.

Pumpkin Banana Pecan Bread

If overripe bananas can’t get me back in the kitchen, I don’t know what can!

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I am totally out of the habit of cooking and baking.  Although we did impose our meal planning and lunch prep on my parents when we lived there, I didn’t do too much of the making of the food.  After 2 weeks in Chicago, I am beginning to adjust to my new schedule. I still work 4 long days but now I have Fridays off instead of Mondays. I must say, I liked it best when I had both Fridays and Mondays off this summer, but it was just temporary : )  Fridays off is a bigger change than you think…especially since I’ve been working the same schedule for like 7 or 8 years.  It means that my Sundays need to be productive.  Ugh!

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The BOY and I were out late last night at a wedding dancing our hearts out and making new friends.  It was a slow start to our day, but we had to shake off the sleep because we were hosting the BOYs aunts for lunch!  There was still a bit to do making our house a little neater…you know like piling boxes in the corner. Ha ha!

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We had a fantastic time showing them our new place and catching up over lunch and tasty food.  They left around 3:30pm and the BOY and I decided that we needed an afternoon of lounging around.  I don’t think we’ve had a lazy day of TV in a LONG time.  I walked over to the grocery store (with my cart) for a few week day essentials and then prepped veggie bags and snacks.  I threw an easy Monday night dinner in the crockpot and turned those overripe bananas into bread.

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Although I didn’t have much success with the oven on Friday, I wanted to give it another try!

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I had the bananas but was feeling for a bit of fall, so I chose a banana and pumpkin bread from Skinny Taste.

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This bread is really soft and delicious and I love the addition of pecans.  PERFECT!

I am bringing one loaf to work tomorrow and saving the other for our upcoming trip to Door County!

Don’t get too excited about hearing from me again as I have a busy week ahead but as we head into fall, I figured you all could use a bite of this bread : )

 

Pumpkin Banana Pecan Bread

From Skinny Taste

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups white whole wheat or all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, not packed
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cup (3 medium) ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 oz (3/4 cup) chopped pecans
  • baking spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two 8×5 inch loaf pans with baking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, pumpkin spice, cinnamon and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add egg whites, pumpkin, bananas, apple sauce and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

Add flour mixture and pecans, then blend at low speed until combined. Do not over mix.

Pour batter into loaf pans and bake on the center rack for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

OMG! Worst Blogger Ever Award!

Friends…old and new! How are you???  Where has the time gone???

I swear it was like yesterday that I was blogging up a storm and then I took a quick break to move in with my P’s, start a new job, get my yoga certificate, enjoy summer, then move again (this time to Chicago), start another new job, unpack…and…Yeah…I’m still not unpacked…and yeah, I seem to still be on a break.  But anyways, the point is it is mid September and I haven’t blogged in a month.  Which earns me the Worst Blogger Ever Award!

So just a quick update…the BOY, Cooper, and I moved into the city Labor Day Weekend and we haven’t slowed down since.

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With help, we have been unpacking a million boxes (with many more to go)…

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I started another new job, cut off all of my hair again, and haven’t cooked a thing.

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Which might be why you haven’t heard from me.  I am working two part time jobs, learning the ropes, teaching a ton of yoga classes (last week, I taught 4 kids classes), exploring the city by bike, drinking wine, buying new furniture, and eating all of the Thai food my tummy can handle,

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Check me out…I’m a bike commuter!

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I bought a bubbie cart so I can walk to the HUGE Mariano’s down the block.

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Which is what I did this afternoon.  Have I mentioned that I live across the street from a yoga studio?!  It is right in between a coffee shop and wine bar and it makes me happy every time I look out the window.

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So this morning, I went to the most amazing yoga class, then came home to organize our bathroom.  Cooper had an afternoon vet appointment, which was very traumatic for both of us.  He wouldn’t go into his crate so we were super late.  When we got home, he ran and hid under the bed, so I took my bubbie cart to the grocery store.

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I’m sure you guys missed me but I am guessing that you missed Cooper more so I threw in a few of his pics.  After a busy week, I was happy to make dinner and decided on this Island Pork Tenderloin.  I came back from the grocery store and got started on dessert first.  As I was pulling out all of the ingredients, I realized that I didn’t have sugar.  Luckily, the BOY passes the store on his walk home from the train so he swung by and picked up sugar.

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Just some Friday night baking essentials.  My dessert came together easily except I couldn’t find sprinkles anywhere in our house. I tried all of my many kitchen cabinets and drawers (my new kitchen also makes me happy!) but there were no sprinkles.  I gave up and subbed in white chocolate chips for the sprinkles and threw some in the middle and on top.

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Apparently I am also the worst baker ever…ha ha!  Although I thought I had everything timed out, it appears our oven is not so strong so everything took WAY TOO LONG!  That being said, the bars still turned out phenomenal and were devoured by the BOY and I after dinner. 

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I just couldn’t decide if I like the crunchy sugary ends or the ooey gooey middle better!

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I kept the recipe as written below but know that this is a very forgiving dessert so you can probably whip it together with whatever you have in your pantry!  Even if you haven’t even unpacked all your pantry boxes : )

I have no idea what my blogging future holds but hoping to check in with ya’ll more often!

What’d I miss with you guys???

 

Cake Batter Sugar Cookie Bars

From Today’s Creative Life

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of white chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons softened butter
  • ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cup of gluten free flour or regular flour
  • ¼ cup of Nonpareil or sprinkles to mix in
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of Nonpareil or sprinkles for the top of the batter before baking

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease an 8" x 8" baking pan and set aside.
  3. Carefully melt white chocolate chips at 50% power in microwave, stirring often to make sure they don’t burn. Once they are just about melted, stir in softened butter and remaining ingredients (except sprinkles) which you will want to fold in gently at the very end. Spread dough into pan and cover the top of the dough with the remaining sprinkles.
  4. Bake for about 22 minutes or until the bars begin to turn golden around the edges of the pan.
  5. The bars will be a bit gooey when you remove them from the oven, they will continue to set as they cool for 30 minutes to an hour.
  6. Enjoy!!!

Lately I’ve Been XXX…

Terrible about blogging (as if you haven’t noticed)!!!

Making birthday plans

Drinking a ton of espresso

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Watching non stop Olympics

Living out of my car

And on my yoga mat!

Reuniting with my running shoes

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Scheduling my yearly doctor and dentist appointments

Eating chocolate

Doing Zumba and Bolly.X with my yoga squad

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Drinking wine with my mom

Eating sushi with my brother and SIL

Hanging with my ex coworkers

Keeping my cat out of my dad’s chair (unsuccessfully)

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Catching up with friends

Getting my Teacher Training Certificate (and teaching my first individual class today)

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Battling a summer cold

Getting excited about football season

Planning for our move to Chicago in 2 weeks

Celebrating 10 years of dating with my hubbie!

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And getting photo bombed by my dad…

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What have you been up to lately???

What Olympic events are you loving???