Pre-Holiday Happenings

Hello!  Happy Short Week!

We have much to catch up on…

IMG_20151219_185454568_HDR

Starting with the Weekend

I taught a kids yoga class.

  IMG_20151219_110523862 

Then ran a few errands before driving down into the city with the BOY.  We had drinks and delicious, fancy dinner with my brother and SIL.

IMG_20151219_211600960

IMG_20151219_211632979

We slept in Sunday before going for a long walk on the unseasonably warm December day.

IMG_20151220_103422582

Our first stop was Lululemon followed by donuts, gingerbread chai lattes, and empanadas.

IMG_20151220_111929545

It was totally worth the walk. We lost track of time and showed up late to our yearly Hanukkah party.  Oops!  We tried to blame it on this guy…

IMG_20151220_093911577_HDR

There was still plenty of time for us to hang out and catch up with our friends throughout Sunday afternoon.

Monday Morning

I slept in and then met my trainer for a sweat session…I’m still sore!

IMG_20151221_100234767

Then ran a bunch more errands and finished up some holiday shopping.  When I came home, I made a million (or at least it felt like it) pretzel candies.

IMG_20151221_151008809

And Oreo balls.  Including a tasty Gingerbread Oreo version with white chocolate and nutmeg…Mmm!

IMG_20151221_162109372_HDR

Monday Afternoon

I really wanted to bake a bunch of cookies for the holidays, but had to settle for an afternoon of no-baking.

IMG_20151221_170403337

IMG_20151221_170547327

And a quick shower before the BOY and I rushed out to the movies.

IMG_20151221_184339999 

Just one guess on what we saw…yea, we’ve had tickets for months : )

IMG_20151221_215247380 

Monday night, I finished laundry and packed up all my goodies for my coworkers before finally crashing in bed.

Tuesday Morning

I didn’t sleep well and hit snooze instead of going for a run.  I think it was too much sugar from eating all those chocolate treats!  I taught a 90 minute kids yoga workshop with the most amazing group of kiddos. 

IMG_20151222_112527734

It was a super fun way to start the work week, which then proceeded on as a (short) typical work week. 

Wednesday Night

Thankfully, tomorrow is only a half day and the BOY and I are laughing our asses off to the latest Big Bang Theory right now.

Birthday sex: Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler finally got intimate on Thursday's Star Wars-themed episode of The Big Bang Theory

Ok…I think we’re all caught up!

What have you been doing this pre-holiday week???

Advertisements

Too Tired to Come Up with a Title

I seriously had a difficult time getting myself out of my warm cozy bed this morning!  And I think the BOY was struggling as well.  We had a really fun weekend!  Saturday morning, I was back on my mat with my last session of kids yoga this year.  It is a unique group because my younger class is all at the top end of the age range and have been doing yoga with me for a bit, so we were able to try some new stuff.  They stuck with it all and did great!

IMG_20151205_094621153

My older class is a mix of abilities and new and experienced kids.  It is a huge learning experience for me to try to teach to everybody while making sure all of the kids feel successful and comfortable.  The morning flew by, and I left work feeling grateful to have the opportunity to share my passion for yoga with this amazing group of kids.

IMG_20151205_104127993

I spent the rest of Saturday running around and luckily had some downtime on Sunday.  Then we went to my parents house to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah. 

IMG_20151206_171927573

After dinner, the BOY and I went to Bed Bath for our registry completion event.  We bought a few big things for the kitchen including a gorgeous knife set and this…

IMG_20151207_180236692

I am still drooling over it!

After the weekend, it’s no wonder when our alarm went off this morning, we were more than happy to stay in bed.   And Cooper was more than happy to join us!  While the BOY drove off to the train, I met my trainer for a strength session.

IMG_20151207_100800866

Then stopped by the grocery store on the way home.  When I was in NY I had the simplest and tastiest Maple latte so I decided to recreate one while I unpacked groceries and took a little downtime to catch up on emails and make my list for the day ahead.  Big things on today’s list included an oil change, holiday cards, and setting up our Hanukkah décor.

IMG_20151207_180907161_HDR

On top of that, I baked two loaves of Cinnamon Delight Bread and two dozen 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies.

IMG_20151207_150027064

Since I was making Thai Peanut Butter Chicken, I figured it would be easy to use my extra homemade peanut butter for cookies.  And I love that I always have ingredients to make this recipe in my pantry.

IMG_20151207_151147954

Do you love my Hanukkah spatula???

After running around ALL day, I was absolutely exhausted!  And stuffed with leftover potato pancakes and cookies.  I made an easy dinner of turkey burgers before cleaning everything up and sinking into my couch.  Good Night!

IMG_20151207_192912337_HDR

 

Meal Planning 12/07/15

Monday: Spinach Feta Turkey Burgers

Tuesday: Clean Peanutty Thai Chicken

Wednesday: Tilapia

Thursday: TBD

IMG_20151207_150956894_HDR

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

From Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients

    • 1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or creamy…I used homemade)

    • 1 cup sugar (plus extra for dipping if desired)

    • 1 egg

        Directions

        Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

        Using an electric mixer or a strong spoon, mix together the peanut butter, white sugar and egg until smooth.

        Form dough into round tablespoon-fulls. Then roll in an extra bowl of sugar, if desired, to coat the outside of the dough ball. Place on the baking sheet at least 2 inches apart, and then use a fork to flatten and form a cross pattern.

        Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cookies are just slightly browned on the bottom, being careful not to over-bake. Remove and let cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

        Halloween! HallowClean!

        IMG_2592

        We had some non traditional Halloween plans today…cleaning!!!

        Over the past few weeks, life has been moving quickly and we’ve been accumulating stuff and creating piles to be addressed ‘later’.  After the last few weekends of fun and travel, this was our first quiet weekend at home. So when everyone asked what my exiting weekend plans were this week, my only answer was it’s official house cleaning weekend.  Woo hoo!

        IMG_20151031_150718063

        Before the cleaning, we were up early this morning for another joint workout.

        IMG_20151031_085232

        It was brutal but awesome, and the BOY discovered that he hates the ropes : )

        IMG_20151031_073144661

        After our workout, the BOY requested some down time.  We found ourselves drooling over the delicious meals cooked on the Food Network (a old-new favorite we recently rediscovered) and making lists of all the things we were going to cook this weekend.

        IMG_20151031_094930305

        I made a post workout snack for the BOY of apples and peanut butter and was inspired by my Everyday Detox cookbook and the gorgeous apples we bought in Door County to make a smoothie (recipe below!) for me.

        IMG_20151031_095114350_HDR

        Then we got down to work…

        IMG_20151031_100816678

        After a few more cuddles.  We started upstairs with bedrooms and bathrooms.  Then took a quick lunch break before tackling the kitchen (and setting up our amazing new wine fridge).

        IMG_20151031_143222948

        For hydration (and motivation), we sipped on Door County Cider.

        IMG_20151031_150731546_HDR IMG_20151031_150826195

        At 3pm, we were ready for trick or treaters despite getting no more than 10 in the past 5 years that I’ve lived here.  We got Cooper all set in his costume…just in case we got anyone : )

        IMG_20151031_161853357 IMG_20151031_161856391

        As I said on Instagram, there is nothing funnier than a really mad cat in a shark costume…except the one who rides around on a Roomba!

        IMG_20151031_162102527

        Seriously, we never have any trick or treators so I only got two bags of candy (with plans to turn the rest into ice cream toppings).  Despite the rain, we were out before the first hour, but I found some other fun stuff in our pantry to give out.  When our Thai food arrived, I thought he was a trick or treator and tried to hand him a granola bar instead of my credit card…LOL!  No Joke!  We stopped cleaning and shut down during dinner to dig into Chicken Curry and Basil Fried Rice (YUM!) while finally sitting down for some football.

        IMG_20151031_175513838

        We sipped on beer and LaMarca and decided to be done with the cleaning for the day.  There is much more to do tomorrow, but luckily, we have an entire extra hour to do it!

        IMG_20151031_163554880

         

        What did you do this Halloween?

        What will you do with our extra hour?

         

        Fresh Apple Pie Smoothie

        Ingredients

        1 large handful spinach

        1 cup coconut/almond milk

        1-1.5 small apples, diced

        1 scoop vanilla protein powder

        Generous toss of apple pie spice (or cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice)

        Ice

        Directions

        Combine the milk, spinach, and apples and use ‘food chop’ or low setting to combine.

        Then add the rest of the ingredients, expect ice, and blend on high.   Taste to determine need for more/less spice.

        Add ice and blend on high until smooth.

        Enjoy immediately!

        Bombshell Brownies & Apple Pie Bites

        IMG_20150913_153241056

        Besides sitting around and drinking espresso in my kitchen (thanks to my amazing new Nespresso machine and milk frother that I am totes obsessed with), I’ve also been baking.  I know…it’s about time…right?!  At least that’s what my coworkers said!

        IMG_20150913_100713944_HDR

        If these don’t get your mouth watering, I don’t know what  will : )

        IMG_20150913_095710935

        Now on to the baking…when in need of recipes, there are countess options on my Pinterest board but one of my go to blogs for incredible desserts is Cookies&Cups.

        IMG_20150913_100816472

        Enter…Bombshell Oreo Brownies!

        IMG_20150913_101804884

        If you follow me on Instagram, then you saw I had a bit of a cocoa mishap.  Well, honestly a HUGE, my kitchen is covered in chocolate, situation.

        IMG_20150913_101118242_HDR

        But I will tell you, it was totally worth it for these mouth watering brownies.

        IMG_20150914_153723012_HDR

        My coworkers were thrilled to see that I had leftovers and agreed that this new recipe is a keeper!  After my brownies were baked, I went out for a quick bike ride before returning to the kitchen for another round of baking. 

        IMG_20150913_112834739

        This one was a little more simple but just as tasty.  Because we just started the new year, apples and honey are customary, so an apple recipe was a MUST.

        IMG_20150913_154353557

        This is a Pinterest favorite and something I knew that I needed to try!

        IMG_20150913_155440730_HDR

        The ease of using crescent rolls saves time with this recipe without sacrificing any taste!  While the apple pie bites baked, Cooper found a hiding place in the kitchen where he could observe the action and seek out free tastes.

        IMG_20150913_155449897 IMG_20150913_155429425

        My pie bites were a bit bigger than they should have been (they were harder to wrap than I thought they would be), but with a little extra butter, they browned perfectly and were sweet and delicious!

        IMG_20150913_160910805_HDR

        Note: I recommend serving them warm with homemade ice cream, but cold for breakfast the next morning works too!

        IMG_20150913_160920445

        And by the way, Homemade ice cream is also perfect for your brownies!

        IMG_20150913_095641492

        Happy Almost Fall Ya’ll!!!

        Bombshell Oreo Brownies

        From Cookies&Cups

        Ingredients

        • 1 cup butter, melted
        • 1 cup granulated sugar
        • 1½ cups light brown sugar, packed
        • 1 tablespoon vanilla
        • 4 eggs
        • 1 teaspoon salt
        • 1½ cups flour
        • 1 cup cocoa powder
        • 1 cup white chocolate chips
        • 25 Oreo cookies coarsely chopped

        Directions

        1. Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C
        2. Line 9×13 pan with foil and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
        3. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute.
        4. Add in salt and the cocoa powder and mix on medium until combined, 30 seconds to a minute.
        5. Turn the mixer to low and add in the flour until incorporated.
        6. Stir in the white chips.
        7. Spread half of the batter into pan. Top with the Oreos and spread the remaining batter on top.
        8. Bake 35-40 minutes until center is almost set.

         

        Apple Pie Bites

        From The Blond Cook

        Ingredients

        • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
        • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice, and additional apple pie spice for sprinkling on top of crescent rolls
        • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
        • ⅓ cup chopped pecans
        • 1 small Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced into 8 (1/2-inch) slices
        • 1 (8-ounce) can Pillsbury Original crescent rolls

        Directions

        1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
        2. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and apple pie spice. Set aside.
        3. Melt butter and toss apple slices in butter, set aside.
        4. Arrange crescent roll triangles on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Evenly distribute brown sugar mixture onto each triangle.
        5. Sprinkle each triangle evenly with the chopped pecans.
        6. Place an apple slice on the wide end of each triangle. Wrap crescent roll dough around each apple.
        7. Brush each crescent roll with remaining butter. Sprinkle lightly with additional apple pie spice.
        8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

        Beginnings…

        The Tour de France began today!  If you follow my blog then you know that this brings lots of excitement to our house…and by our house, I mean me! (Insert eye roll from BOY who claims that the tour is boring but seems to know a lot about the peloton).  For the second year in a row, I was up before my alarm on the 4th of July.  I came straight downstairs to turn on the TV and dive into the tour.  I only caught the pre race updates on teams and the ‘Big Four’ while I sipped tea and whipped up eggs.  The BOY and I planned to go to Starved Rock today, but flooding led to parking lot closures and we didn’t want to drive almost 2 hours and not get to hike.

        IMG_20150704_102833421

        Instead, we drove 45 minutes to Waterfall Glen.  This area is more of a path than a state park and from where we parked, the waterfall was quite a ‘hike’…especially since we started off in the wrong direction.  The path was well used but not crowded as we passed bikers, dogs, and runners.  There was a good amount of shade as we made our way towards the waterfall.

        IMG_20150704_102859044

        We were tired when we arrived and stopped to rest our feet a bit and sip some water.

        IMG_20150704_102920948_HDR IMG_20150704_103013

        I must say that the waterfall was cool, but I was hoping that there was more than one!  The bugs made it tough to stay still, so after a quick break we hiked back to our car.

        IMG_20150704_103231

        By the time we reached our car, which was packed with a picnic lunch, we had walked over 6 miles.  There wasn’t a great place to pop a squat, so we decided to drive back towards home.  There is a great park, where I run in the mornings, a few blocks away from our house.  We pass it almost every day and always talk about picnicing, but never do.  We settled under a shady tree by the lake on this perfect day.

        IMG_20150704_122343504 IMG_20150704_122421352

        With a full tummy, I could have fallen asleep on our blanket!

        IMG_20150704_124627753

        Instead, we waited until we were back home to cuddle in (with Cooper, of course) for an afternoon nap!  Then, woke back up to watch the beginning of the Tour!

        I can’t believe that it’s July and the beginning of the second half of the year (like my glass half full attitude?).  It occurred to me yesterday that meant I needed to check in with my bucket list!  This year has been so busy (work, wedding, life) that I barely remember what’s on my bucket list!

        2015 Bucket List

        LIFE

        Set and follow a budget (for real!)- Oh man!  I swear I am super organized, but have totally struggled with this!  Something to focus the next 6 months on…saving up for a honeymoon!

        Pass my test– Woo hoo!  All of that library time paid off.  I am know a Pediatric Clinical Specialist (PCS), which has me smiling from ear to ear!

        Have a fun stress free wedding day– Yea, so some days are easy and some days my heart beats a little faster.  We’ve had more drama with planning than I would have liked (just found out the planner at the hotel we have been working with since October quit)…BUT, above all the marriage is the most important thing and the BOY and I are in this together!

        Stay healthy– Other than those two weeks where I was REALLY sick, I have been feeling pretty energetic and healthy this  year. I’m hoping that continues through the end of the year.

        IMG_20150516_141338436_HDR

        BODY

        Do a triathlonThe decision has been made that this won’t be a big racing year…so no triathlon.  And I am A-okay with that!  I am broadening my horizons a bit with exercise and doing tons of yoga!  This decision is helping me feel more balanced and less stressed, and we’ll just have to see what 2016 holds for races and tri’s.

        Feel confident in a bikini- Work in progress!

        Continue to build muscle strength– I think that my arms are definitely getting stronger and I am able to do 1-2 pull ups!  I’m hoping to continue to build my strength with the goal of adding in a consistent second strength day each week.

        Keep my skin healthy– Success!  My focus on eating clean and drinking water, plus regular facials has paid off!

        IMG_20150620_193708125_HDR

        MIND

        Be present– I have been soaking in every moment, big or small!  Case and point, feeling the wind in my hair as I drove the boat along the lake in the picture above.  I know that more excitement awaits around the corner, and I look forward to experiencing it all!

        Teach more yoga/take yoga trainings- I think this may end up being more of a 2016 goal. I’d love to do a yoga retreat AND my adult yoga certification.  I was able to talk about kids yoga on a Podcast, which is something I never would have even dreamed of in January.  It’s fun to see where the year takes you…

        Read good books– Check!  I started the year as a reading machine.  With work getting busier, I have been staying up later and reading less, but plan to devour a few more books from my ‘to read’ pile before the year is done.

        Give back and volunteer- Ugh! Major Fail here!  I have been donating food, money, and clothes, but not as much of my time as I would like.

        IMG_20150214_115254555_HDR

        I know I say it every year, but this year has FLOWN by!  There have been some unexpected highs and a huge loss to our family as we said goodbye to our patriarch, Grandpa Al.  I know that there are more celebrations to come as we are less than 100 days from starting our life as husband and wife!  There is also a lot of non wedding excitement, vacations, and moments, and I am planning to breathe deep and appreciate all of the joy and gifts in the year ahead.   Stay tuned for June goals (and Tour de France updates) as this post is already way too long!

        JenniferandBryan-5

        2015 First Half Highlights

        Lots of Kids Yoga

        Bounding with my SIL

        Taking engagement photos

        Friendsgiving in April

        Playing tennis with the BOY and my family

        Wisconsin Weekends

        Our first wedding shower

         

        How’s your 2015 bucket list coming along?

        What’s your ‘first half highlight’ of 2015?

        You Scream!

        The biggest problem with our ice cream maker (besides the fact that it may prevent me from fitting into my wedding dress) is that Cooper has discovered it.  And by discovered it, I mean he can conveniently place his nose in the top while it churns, soaking in all of the dairy deliciousness!

        IMG_20150630_202037455_HDR 

        Our ice cream making has been working all week!  The recipe that started all it all is a Vegan ice cream that I found on pinterest. I was interested because it uses coconut milk and dates. 

        IMG_20150702_194544425

        Typically dairy and I don’t get along, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying a good cheese or frozen yogurt run.   The idea of making dairy free ice cream sounded VERY appealing this summer.  I followed the recipe as written, but I think I have a different sized maker because it didn’t seem to churn well and stuck along the edges. I wonder if I would have been better off doubling the recipe?!

        IMG_20150702_201308742

        Even with that, the consistency was just like fro yo as promised!  Mmmm!  Of course, I decided to stir in some dark chocolate chunks!

        IMG_20150702_201452440

        It took all of my will power not to dig in and eat the entire container!  This looks to me like Fro Yo for one : )

        IMG_20150702_201547285

        Also from the ice cream maker this week…the BOY made a custard and we used the easy vanilla recipe to make Oreo/M&M and Heath flavored ice cream for our 4th of July celebration on July 3rd!

        IMG_20150703_212033

        We had a beautiful day to celebrate the holiday with good friends, awesome food, and of course a dance party in the bounce house!

         

        Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream

        From ifoodreal

        Ingredients

        1 can (14 oz) full fat coconut milk

        10 medjool dates, pitted

        3 tbsp cacoa powder

        1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

        Chocolate chunks (optional)

        Directions

        Freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker overnight.

        Place all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a high speed blender.  Process until smooth.  Pour into your ice cream maker and churn according to directions.  Add chocolate chips if desired and allow ice cream maker to mix.

        Consistency will be that of soft serve…Mmm!

        Friendsgiving in April

        When I was in college, my roommates and I decided to do a Thanksgiving in March celebration.  Now mind you…only one of us (not me…the fact that I cook still surprises some of my college friends) knew how to cook a thing and the rest of us were easily able to provide some sort of prepackaged food which was enjoyed in our stretchiest pants.  I know that somewhere I have a picture of us all proud and enjoying this dinner but I can’t find it anywhere.  You’ll have to settle with this college Hanukkah celebration photo instead : )

        IMG_20150412_200539564

        Fast forward many, many years to the BOY and I hosting our first Thanksgiving.  When all was done and the BOY’s first turkey devoured and raved about, he looked at me and said ‘This is fun…why do we only do this one time every year?’.  Not wanting to wait, we decided to invite our friends over for a Friendsgiving in March celebration that due to busy spring schedules was rescheduled to last night.

        IMG_20150411_164154254

        The BOY made turkey and I did a simple cheese plate appetizer.  Everyone arrived with arms full of delicious Thanksgiving classics.

        IMG_20150411_174602177

        The weather was gorgeous and so we got to enjoy being outside for the first time in a long time!

        IMG_20150411_174543245

        When it came time for dinner, the BOY pulled his beautiful turkey off the grill, and everyone heated up their colorful sides.  We, of course, took a moment to say what we were thankful for before diving RIGHT in.

        IMG_20150411_191725577

        IMG_20150411_191530902

        We had pie for dessert and the entire evening was really fun and a huge success!  I’d say a new tradition was born…