Jalapeno Mac and Cheese {and Life Updates}

You have to know that I made this recipe super simple and totally skimped on the cheese (I went generic), and it still turned out extremely flavorful and fulfilling!

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I feel like that is definitely saying something!!!

Last week, I got back to the cookbooks and back into the kitchen and it was glorious!

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Let me tell you that life has been packed full and fun, but the BOY and I have also enjoyed our down time sitting in front of the fire.  Friday night, we watched an episode of Sherlock without doing anything else…no computers, no wine or popcorn, just lights off snuggled up with Cooper enjoying the quirky show’s start of the season.

Speaking of starts, how are you adjusting to the start of the new year???

We had the most incredible New Years Eve weekend in Wisconsin with a couple of couples, two dogs, and a baby.  We cooked meals, played games, went for walks, and rang in 2017 with tons of enthusiasm and joy. 

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I can’t say that I could ask for a better way to start the year.  I have a bunch of goals/plans/ideas for 2017 but I feel like I am still wrapping my head around the quick finish to 2016 and all of the changes that came our way.

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For the most part, we are settled.  We love our new place (that we are renting) and our neighborhood.  Like I said, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a wine bar, yoga studio, and coffee shop directly across the street. I am working two newish jobs and both are going well along with treating some private clients and teaching private yoga sessions.  All in all, work is time consuming and fulfilling.

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Since the weather got COLD COLD COLD, I have been taking the workouts indoors.  The BOY and I were doing some personal training at the end of last year, but taking a (hopefully quick) break from it right now.  I am exploring and growing on my yoga mat and meeting friends at the barre for a totally different workout.  With an evolving schedule, finding time for workouts and self care has been tough, but I think I found my stride.

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I am teaching a bunch of kids yoga and working HARD to find some consistent adult classes in the city.  We are meeting new friends and reconnecting with old friends.  For the most part, Cooper is settling in to his new home. I think he misses the stairs (we’ve caught him trying to sneak out our door for the stairs a few times), but loves finding new places to hide (ie his new Amazon box) and continues to try to eat everything.

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The BOY won the commute lottery and living this close to work has been great for him. He also loves that any kind of food he wants can be delivered to our front door by Eat24, Amazon, or anyone else delivering Thai, Mediterranean, or Chicago style pizza.  A day doesn’t go by where he hasn’t found a new restaurant in the neighborhood that we HAVE to try.

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Which brings us back to the food.  In attempt to be fiscally and waist line responsible, we have been cooking in a bunch this month and eating out less.  In an attempt to make this process less painful, I decided to make a feast last week.  This Mac N Cheese recipe seemed like the perfect hearty food for a cold Friday night and for protein, we whipped up a batch of Clean Meatballs.

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This mac n cheese recipe was easy and low fuss but the flavor was fantastic!  And I promise it wasn’t too spicy!  The meatballs were random but pretty amazing!  Even the BOY was talking about how much he liked them. 

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Friday night, I ate mine with a side of Mac N Cheese, but Saturday leftovers were all about the spaghetti squash.

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This week, we made Clean Sloppy Joe’s and Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork!  Our meal plan is looking even better with a bottle of Cooper’s Hawk wine : )

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What are your 2017 goals???  Any life updates???

Spicy Mac and Cheese

From The Whole Foods Market Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese
  • 1 lb penne pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs (I used crusty bread in the food processor)
  • Vegetable oil or Cooking spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and add onion, garlic, cumin, and coriander.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often, or until onion is soft.  Mix in the flour, and cook mixture over moderate heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Using a wire whisk, slowly incorporate the milk into the onion mixture until the flour and milk are blended.  Bring this to a boil, lower the heat to simmer and stir in the jalapeno pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, and tomatoes with their juice.  Simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mozzarella, cheddar, and Swiss cheese, blending until well mixed.  Combine the sauce and cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl.  Place the sauced pasta in a 9 inch greased baking dish.  In a small bowl, mix the parmesan cheese with the bread crumbs.  Sprinkle the cheese and bread crumb topping over the pasta. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.

 

Turkey Meatballs
The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground turkey or chicken
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 T. fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 T. fresh basil, finely chopped
2 T. fresh oregano, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, passed through a garlic press
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, place egg and breadcrumbs or oat bran.  Add spices and mix well.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Using an ice cream scoop make meatballs and place on prepared cookie sheet.  Place in hot oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

The Bag Lady

I didn’t forget you guys…I promise!!!  Between a new job, yoga training, house cleaning, and life living, I just haven’t found a few minutes to sit down and update you.  Even right now as I type this, I have a few other important documents open, including an eval that needs to be written and an antimony powerpoint that needs to be updated : )

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And for those of you who count on my posts for your daily sweat sessions, no worries…we have been VERY active : )

Note: I started writing this last week so we are referring to LAST Sunday…yikes! I am a mess!

Sunday was yoga training, which included two 75 minute sessions.  Monday, I was up and running, literally I did 40 minutes in the heat.  Then I treated a few patients, did a quick grocery store run, and returned home for 1 precious hour (which consisted of cleaning and phone calls). 

Then, I was off to my 4th yoga class in 4 days.  As I said on instagram, my body was tired but my spirit energized!

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Tuesday morning, I was back in the city for week two at the new job!

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My reading material has been awesome on the train!

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Tuesday was a day off from working out, but Wednesday I was back on my mat.  I met a few friends after work for yoga in the park.  It was chillier than I thought but so fun to be outside and practicing to the sounds of the city.

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Afterwards, we caught up over dinner and drinks. I slept in the city and was lucky enough to leave work a bit early on Thursday.  Which was perfect timing to hit up a vinyasa class at Zen Yoga Garage on my way out of the city.

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I got a Groupon for 2 weeks of classes and was thrilled to kick it off with a hot, flow class.

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Gym Hair…Don’t Care!!!  I drove back to the suburbs arriving home around 8:15 to a delicious dinner!

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My Friday off…was no treat at all!  I hit the gym for a tough strength session, went back to the girl who cut my hair for some added summer glow, grabbed Naf Naf for lunch, and then I started scrubbing my floors.  For someone who doesn’t do much cleaning, this was certainly NOT how I wanted to spend my day.  Ugh!  I spent a few hours on the cleaning thing, which was miserable and I arrived at yoga reeking of bleach.  The yoga as exactly what I needed.  Even though it was my 6th class of the week, I loved it just as much as the first few!  Saturday was a blur of house stuff getting ready to put it on the market for rent.  Cooper attempted to pose in every picture for the listing!!

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Saturday night, we got ourselves dressed up and out of the house for an awesome BBQ in the city!!!  And then Sunday I was back at the yoga studio to do it all over again : )

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For each of these classes, jobs, and activities, I have acquired a separate bag.  It’s, like, the only way that I would be able to make a week like this work so I am a total BAG LADY!  We have been meal planning like crazy so I have no less than one meal and a few snacks, plus tea and water with me at all times.  Throw a yoga mat, gym bag, anatomy stuff, and a work bag into the mix and you get the picture!  It’s been nuts!  But, where in the past this would have given me some extra heart palpitations, I’m pretty happy and not that stressed out about the whole thing.  In fact, dare I say I am enjoying the start of summer!

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Do you ever feel like a bag lady???

When You Convince Your Hubs to Walk 4 Miles with You…

After 5ish days of sickness, I called in reinforcements in the form of an antibiotic.  I REALLY didn’t want to go this route, but I was reaching my max Musinex dosage and still feeling ill.  Plus, this weekend is my sister in laws wedding!

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…and nobody wants to be sick at a wedding!!!  Wednesday night was a rough one with lots of coughing and so when I got to work today, I rearranged a few things to leave early.  I have been feeling the worst at night, so I left around 5:30 (I know…can you believe that’s a few hours early?!) and drove home in the sunshine.

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The BOY also left work early (just to see me) and I convinced him that we should walk to the store to pick up my Px.  It was such a gorgeous night and I was desperate for some fresh air.  I did a yoga class Monday morning, but not much exercise since.  We walked and talked and truly appreciated the impromptu time together.

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The night could not have been more beautiful!

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The BOY and I returned home after our more than 4 mile walk, but instead of opening the door, he just walked right by and headed straight for our favorite local Mexican place.  More than anything, I wanted to spend the night sitting out back (like most of our neighbors) enjoying some bubbles, but I knew that home on the couch with fluids and meds (and guacamole) was the right place to be.  Total Bummer!

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Thankfully, I am off work tomorrow with only a few important plans, like nails and lunch with my mom : )  Alrighty friends…my stuffed sinuses and I are off to bed.  TGI (almost) F!!!  Fingers crossed, I wake up tomorrow feeling PERFECT!

Sloppy Joe…Slop Sloppy Joes

Happy Hump Day!

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We’ve finally got some consistent sunshine in these parts.  Woo Hoo!  After my work day, I had to get out and enjoy it.  I walked for a bit while chatting with my SIL. 

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Truth, my workouts have been lacking this week due to my work schedule, so I figured any exercise will help my body and mind.  Our food this week, on the other hand, has been pretty on point!

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This week was a bit different because we started the week with a delicious meal at Wildfire.  My Monday was pretty fantastic, and I was able to whip up some Buffalo Chicken Chili and a new Sloppy Joe recipe.  Thank you Adam Sandler for inspiring my post title!

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Funny Story…the store was out of green peppers, but I remembered that I had a small can of diced green chili peppers in my pantry.  I figured that’d be perfect and dumped them into my turkey.  They looked a bit off and when I looked at the can on it’s way into the recycling, I realized that I just poured a ton of jalapeno peppers into my pan!

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Not surprising as I make mistakes a bunch in the kitchen!  To try to fix it, I pulled out about 75% of them and hoped that they’d add flavor and not be too spicy.

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Instead, when I did my initial taste test, I felt there was an overwhelming mustard flavor.  I am new to eating mustard so may have used the wrong kind.  I poured in more ketchup and BBQ sauce, and the end result was superb!

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So I should admit that growing up I was never that into sloppy joe’s while the BOY claims that he was a huge Manwich fan.  I had to ask him for his opinion of this recipe.  Was it good?  Yes!  Did it taste like sloppy joe’s?  Kind of!  So take that for what it’s worth…a tasty dinner (he made a sandwich while I did a quinoa bowl with avocado), but it may not replicate your childhood favorite meal : )

Would love to chat more about the intricate details of sloppy joe’s, but I’ve got a Blackhawks game to watch!

 

Do you like Sloppy Joe’s?

 

Meal Planning 4/11/16

Monday: Out to Eat

Tuesday: Sloppy Joe’s

Wednesday: Sausages and Veggies

Thursday: Buffalo Chicken Chili

 

Slow Cooker Turkey Sloppy Joes

From SkinnyMs

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (454 grams) ground turkey breast (raw)
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup natural ketchup
  • 1 8 oz can no-salt added tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp BBQ sauce

Note: I would recommend combing your sauce well before putting it into the crockpot.  I ended up adjusting my quantities.

Directions

Mist a skillet with oil and brown raw turkey, onions and green pepper over medium heat. (You could skip this step, but you will get a better flavor.)  Place turkey meat, onions & green pepper in the slow cooker. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. (See Note Above!)  Cover and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours or HIGH for 2-3 hours. If you don’t brown the meat first, then cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.

No French Fry Bars

The bad news is when you play all weekend, there is a lot of work to do on Monday.  And I don’t mean work, work because it is still the weekend (for me), but house work!  I would have loved to have spent Monday on my couch, cuddled with Cooper, and catching up on Scandal.  Instead, I woke up and immediately started creating laundry piles. 

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Saturday morning, the BOY and I woke up to snow.  Not a lot of it, but more than anyone wants to see in April!

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The BOY and I went to the gym for our training sessions and then quickly packed up before driving downtown.  My sister in law has been wanting to try Soul Cycle and I was more than  happy to accompany here to the Old Rihanna vs. New Rihanna class.

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We had a lot of fun working up a sweat.  Then the guys met us for lunch and beer at Corridor.  The weather was odd, alternating between hail and sunshine, but we managed to walk around and shop before making our way back to their house.  We had a little bit of down time before getting ready for our family friend’s wedding.  My mom, SIL, and I drank bubbles while we got our hair done at the dry bar, and then everyone got all dressed up for the wedding.

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We danced the night away and had a great time together!  Sunday was another fun family day, but this time the weather was gorgeous!

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We walked all over the city, racking up close to 7 miles.  Along the way, we discovered an amazing little bakery and fueled up with cupcakes (and a not pictured cookie sandwich that was consumed during the walk)!

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The BOY and I didn’t get home until late Sunday night, and we stopped and picked up Thai for dinner on our way home.  I was feeling exhilarated with the excitement of the weekend and crashed for a good 10 hours Sunday night.  Which brings me back to this morning.  After getting a few loads of laundry going, I grabbed leftovers for breakfast and debated if I wanted to go to the 9:30am yoga class.  A run would have been ideal, but after yesterday’s 60 degree weather, this morning was chilly.

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So off to yoga I went!  And then came back home to get myself organized for the day while sipping on a Peanut Butter and Banana Protein Smoothie.  I made my grocery list and our meal plan. 

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With the cold weather, chili was top on my list…Mmm!

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So I had the opportunity to bump into an old coworker of the BOY’s last week.  She mentioned that she saw him eating one of the protein balls I had made.  When she asked him what was with the healthy fare, he said that I made them so that he doesn’t eat French Fries (LOL!).  I actually make them so that we have healthy snack options throughout the day, but the French Fry comment had me cracking up.

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On that note, I made another batch of bars this week and we can just call them ‘No French Fry’ bars!

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These are actually a Luna bar knock off and absolutely delicious!

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You’ll have to make a batch and let me know if they keep you away from the drive through : )

 

What is your favorite mid afternoon snack?

 

Meal Planning 4/04/16

Monday: Chili

Tuesday: Sesame Honey Chicken

Wednesday: Burgers and Veggies

Thursday: TBD

 

(Homemade) Peanut Butter

Chocolate Chip Luna Bars

From Lauren’s Latest

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 24 oz. pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • pinch sea salt

Directions

  1. Place peanuts into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop into fine pieces without turning into a paste. Add in dates, chocolate chips and salt. Continue pulsing until one large mass comes together in the bowl. Line a 9×9 baking dish with parchment paper or plastic wrap and press date mixture evenly into the dish. Dip your fingers into water to prevent sticking. Place into freezer or fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove completely from pan using excess plastic wrap as help and cut into 10 even pieces. Wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Energy Bites for Energy

Saturday morning, the BOY and I started our day with a workout.  I was feeling back in my groove, but he faded a bit.  The most likely cause…nutrition!

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Although the BOY has made a lot of changes to his diet, he still isn’t a good breakfast eater and needs some more protein.  After our workout, my trainer gave us some dinner and snack ideas, including these awesome Energy Balls from Wildtree.  I happened to have all the ingredients in our house except walnuts, which we picked up at Target.  Also at Target…

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Tell me…have you tried them yet?  I resisted the urge to buy them and came home to make a green protein shake and begin mixing up our snack balls.

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I was a little nervous that the ‘dough’ was dry (most likely because I used natural almond butter), so I added a bit more honey.  I also added in chia seeds because I had about 2 tbsp in a bag that I needed to kill.

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Saturday was a sunny and gorgeous day!  Perfect to crack open the windows and enjoy some energy balls and a latte : )

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And then stash the rest in the fridge where the BOY and I have been snacking on them all week.

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I spent the afternoon teaching the most wonderful group of swimmers at a yoga workshop!  It was so nice to open the door and spend 90 minutes doing yoga in the fresh air again!

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What is your favorite snack or energy food?

Energy Bites

Adapted form Wildtree

Ingredients

3/4 cup walnuts

1/2 cup flaxseed, ground

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons shredded coconut

1/2 cup almond butter

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

1 tablespoon Coconut Oil

1/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup mini dark chocolate morsels

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

In a food processor, grind walnuts to medium/fine grind. Add flaxseed (and chia if you want) and process for 30 seconds. Add cinnamon, coconut, almond butter, oats, coconut oil, honey, and vanilla extract. Process for 20 seconds. Place mixture into a covered storage container and refrigerate for 30 minutes. When ready to roll, remove refrigerated mix and add mini dark chocolate morsels and salt; mix gently to incorporate all ingredients. Hand roll into 1-inch balls and store in air tight container.

Sips, Saturday, Sherlock

Before Saturday began, I celebrated FriYAY!

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It was an especially exciting day since it marked the start of my 2 plus weeks of vacation!  Sadly, the BOY had to work late, so I celebrated Friday night date night with Cooper.

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We caught up on my DVR and set the table for our Saturday lunch guests.

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Then curled up to cuddle and read.  I am trying to get my book finished before the trip and already have some new books and mags packed and ready to go.

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I slept fantastically and was sad to hear my alarm go off early this morning.  The BOY and I had one last training session before vaca.  I’m bummed that I didn’t get any pics of us in our matching boxing gloves, but here’s a recycled one.  I did this a bunch today so it seemed legit.

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The BOY and I came back home to pick up a bit and a little before 10am, my mom came by to drop off Cooper’s Hanukkah gift and pick me up for our nail appointment.

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Then my mom and some friends came back to our house for lunch.  We made two kinds of chili, a huge salad, and had fruit and dark chocolate for dessert followed by lattes from my Nespresso maker covered in whipped cream…Mmm!.  After lunch, I had to run out for a few errands.  On my way home, I swung by to pick up take out Coopers Hawk and a bottle of wine for dinner. 

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While we ate dinner, Cooper enjoyed/stalked his new toy.

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So the BOY called me at work this week to tell me that there is one episode of Sherlock available online.  The next season doesn’t come out until 2017, so we were super excited to spend Saturday night sipping through Sherlock.  I’m not planning to stay up too late tonight because I have a busy day of packing up my tropical clothes while it’s 1 degree outside tomorrow.  What can I say…

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LOL!

 

What are you up to this Saturday night?

Do you watch Sherlock?  Any good book suggestions?