Kicking It Off

If I were a Disney princess, I probably would have woken up singing Saturday morning.  There were even animals present as Cooper climbed into our bed for an adorable 15 minute cuddle.  I was in a great mood and the sun was shining on a promising day ahead for our first wedding shower.  After months and months of planning, it is actually starting to feel REAL.  Disney princess or not, the singing came later.

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I was up super early so took time to enjoy my black tea and breakfast.  Then, I walked out the door for the 8am yoga class.  My intention was to have toned arms to sport with my new shower dress and a zen heart to enjoy and appreciate the special day.  I accomplished both and with my #postyoga glow, I found myself rocking along out loud to the radio on the way home…I told you there’d be singing.

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An hour later, I was back in the car, this time all dressed up, heading to Chicago for our shower.  We were both super excited to ‘kick off’ the wedding season and to meet chef Stephanie Goldfarb who would be leading us in chopping lessons and along with her pastry chef preparing the most amazing meal!

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Appetizers were ready and bubbles poured before we started the demo.  These are the watermelon gazpacho shooters, tea infused quail eggs, and shrimp toasts.  Mmm!

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Our chefs Stephanie and Lucie Ann!

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We got an important lesson in chopping and then got to work making the most delicious pot stickers…learning all the tricks of the trade!

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The peanut sauce was possibly the best I’ve ever had, and I’m hoping to have recipes to make and share soon.  Everything we ate was amazing and I was full before lunch was over!  Everyone felt the same way, but we did save room for dessert!  Mexican hot chocolate mousse and shortbread custard fruit tarts…

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The guys arrived and presents were opened.  Our friends know us soo well as every gift was kitchen related.  The BOY got a gorgeous decanter and his smile was enormous when he opened up the deep fryer.

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The shower was so unique and personalized to us, which made the entire day extremely special!  We are super lucky to have the most amazing friends and family who are just as excited as we are to celebrate our upcoming wedding.  Including my bestie of almost 30 years (who is also the Matron of Honor)!

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The celebrations continued after the guests left as we cozied into the porch furniture for more bubbles and a cheese plate reminiscent of last weekend’s Happy Hour on the dock.  Same great crowd…same blue shirts : )

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Around 7pm, we made our way back to the kitchen for pot stickers part II.  This time, the ladies showed of their new cooking skills to the guys.

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We left around 9pm and taxied a few miles down the road to my brother and sister in laws new house. I wish I could tell you that we went straight to bed after the busy day, but instead we sat out back for drinks and cigars.  Despite my lack of sleep, I was up again early this morning, still excited from the previous day’s festivities.

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It was another beautiful day and I walked the 2 miles to the yoga studio where up I met up again with this crew…

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I was feeling pretty amazing until my first forward fold revealed that I had perhaps a few too many bubbles the night day before.  That feeling quickly passed as I got into the groove of one of the best yoga classes I’ve every taken in my life.  I’m not sure if it was the high of the weekend, being surrounded by my family and friends, the skill of the teacher, or the energy of the room.  I’m guessing that it was all of the above!

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Throughout class, I felt light, strong, and flexible and that feeling continued off the mat as walked down Southport appreciating the energy of the city.  I swung into Teavanna for an incredible tri colored drink and picked up empanadas for brunch.

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I arrived back at my brothers as everyone else was walking in.  Our hosts cooked eggs, bacon, and potatoes and my parents arms were filled with bagels and coffee.  It was the perfect ending to a spectacular weekend!  The BOY and I packed up all our new kitchen gadgets and goodies and drove back home to the suburbs.  Cooper was thrilled to see us, but perhaps more excited to explore all of the boxes and bags!

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The BOY and I did a much needed kitchen cleaning making room for all of our new toys!  And then lack of sleep caught up with us as we collapsed in the living room with a movie and Thai food delivery.  Wait until you see what we (almost) had for dessert…

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Our wedding will be here soon…let the countdown begin!!!

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Crockpot Green Chicken Curry

This week’s lunch was fantastic!

Despite the warming temperatures, I still busted out the crockpot for a simple and satisfying lunch.

 

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And to make an already easy recipe, even easier, I went with the frozen veggies.

 

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I threw everything into the crockpot…

 

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And waited for the deliciousness.

Usually, I eat leftovers all week long and am less enthused by Friday.  But not with this lunch!

 

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I was more than happy to reheat my curry for the 4th day in a row and everyone made a comment about how amazing it smelled (for the 4th day in a row).

 

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The BOY and I had a super fun Friday night date night at the tennis courts.  After a long week, I am more than happy to collapse onto my couch with a glass of red wine and a few squares of dark chocolate.

 

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Also…I added some of the professional pictures from my Aerial Yoga class to my blog post.  They are super cool, so check them out!

 

 

Crockpot Green Chicken Curry

From Eat, Live, Run

 

Ingredients

1 small eggplant, peeled and diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 cups green beans, cut into 2 inch slices (or 1 bag of frozen green beans)

1 bag frozen butternut squash, cubed (not thawed)

1 yellow onion

2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

1 13.5 oz can light coconut milk

3 tbsp green curry paste

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp sugar

juice of 1 lime

 

Directions

In the Crockpot, place the diced eggplant, bell pepper, green beans, onion, ginger and chicken. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, cayenne pepper, green curry paste, sugar, fish sauce and salt. Pour this over the chicken mixture in the Crockpot.

Turn heat to high and cook for 3 hours. Right before serving, add the fresh lime juice. Serve over brown rice. And be prepared to share!

Freeze your leftovers.

Hello Monday…

How I have missed you!

Are you confused?  Don’t be!

 

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For about 4 1/2 years, I worked four 10 hour days with Mondays off.  I had plenty of Sunday Fundays and then used Mondays to exercise, regroup, and relax.  It was fantastic!  In June, my entire schedule changed and I started working on Mondays.  It went ok, but my Sundays became much busier and I never got used to waking up early Monday mornings.  With my new job, I decided to go back to my original schedule.  Welcome back Sunday and Monday Fundays!

 

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After the past two weeks and a crazy busy weekend, I was more than happy to have this Monday off.  Saturday, we had a family wedding!  It has been awhile since the 6 of us have been to a wedding together and we wasted no time getting down on the dance floor and frequenting the photo booth complete with costumes (hence the top photo).

 

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We all crashed at my parents house that night and they provided the perfect after party of snacks and water : )  Sunday morning, everyone was moving a little more slowly except for my mom who herded us out of bed and into the kitchen for brunch.  The game plan was a Birthday celebration for the BOY and my brother (both November birthdays), the Bears game, and chili.  Early on, there was some discussion about bad weather, but it wasn’t until we turned on the TV around 11:30 that we realized tornados had swept through central Illinois and huge storms were coming our way.  There were lots of warnings given and when the suggestion of bike helmets came up on the news, I sprung into action. 

 

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We had some serious rain and hail but we were lucky that the bulk of the storms were farther south.  We watched the start of the Bears game and then there was a LONG delay.  There were plenty of stories from last night’s wedding to share and Hanukkah shopping on Amazon to do.  Not to mention meal planning on Pinterest.  We had some friends come out from the city, and my we made a double batch of Buffalo Turkey Chili, which everyone loved.  Just a note, that my mom put the ingredients in the crockpot which worked well.

 

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We left my parents around 2:30pm to head home to Cooper.  This was his first night by himself and he just looked so sad when we left (see photo).  I wasn’t sure how he would handle the storms.  He was beyond excited to see us, but definitely jumpy with the strong winds.  We spent Sunday afternoon cheering the Bears on to victory (Woo Hoo!) and playing with kitten.

 

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I slept beautifully last night and was excited to head back to another yoga class this morning.  After yoga, I went to Costco and the grocery store, both of which had significantly less people than they typically do on Sundays.  Man, I’ve missed Monday shopping.  When I came home, I threw chili for lunch this week into the crockpot.

 

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I adjusted the original spices a bit leaving out the cocoa and adding more savory flavors.  I also baked up a loaf of clean banana bread with the latest brown bananas hanging out on the counter.

 

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I’m finishing off the day at dinner with my girl friends.  Does it get any better than that?

Welcome back Mondays!

 

 

 

Meal Planning 11/18/13

Monday: Dinner Date with the Girls

 

Tuesday: TBD

 

Wednesday: Turkey Burgers

 

Thursday: Leftovers

 

Friday: Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken

 

Lunch: Crockpot Pumpkin Red Lentil Chili

 

 

 

Crockpot Pumpkin Red Lentil Chili

Slightly adjusted from Kitchen Treaty

 

Ingredients

2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained

2 cups vegetable broth

2 15-ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with liquid

1 cup dry red lentils

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 chopped yellow onion

1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced (deseeded and deveined if you’re looking for less heat)

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Directions

Add all ingredients to a large slow cooker. Stir well.

Cook on high for 4 – 5 hours or on low for 8 – 10 hours, until lentils are tender and chili is thick and hearty.

Serve with assorted toppings.

Five For Friday IX {Confession Edition}

Confession # 1

The rain continued to pour, and I didn’t make it to the grocery store yesterday to make homemade soup.

 

Confession #2

I didn’t workout yesterday (meaning I did nada for two days in a row).  It’s a good thing I got my 8 miles in this morning and am somewhat prepared for tomorrow’s 18 mile run.

 

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Confession #2.5

I attempted to make Friday Morning Pancakes with coconut flour, which was a total disaster.  But I ate them anyways!

 

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Confession #3

I finally told some of my work friends that I blog..they laughed!

 

Confession #4

I am slightly obsessed with taking pictures of Cooper, who in 2 weeks looks a lot less like a kitten and more like a full grown cat.

 

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Hello, my name is Cooper and I am addicted to ice cubes

 

Confession #5

I think both Cooper and I have put on weight this week.  On Cooper’s front…a full bag of kitten treats has disappeared this week.  We have two possible suspects: Cooper and the guy who cleans our house. 

 

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I think the answer is obvious!

The BOY and I just enjoyed one of our last summer Friday’s outback eating Mediterranean chicken pitas with homemade tahini for lunch.  Now we’ve got some errands to run. 

 

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Happy Friday to all!

This is the day that Doesn’t End…

Our alarm went off at 6:30am, and the BOY and I snoozed twice before actually walking up!

We were able to get ourselves pulled together and out of the door on the way to the Heartland 5k for K9’s.

 

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A friend of mine was doing her first 5k, and I was tagging along or moral support.  This run/walk was a tiny, well supported event to race money for a local animal shelter.

 

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I was super proud of my friend who ran the entire 3.1 miles and even had enough push to sprint to the finish!

After the race, the BOY and I swung by Starbucks for a warm beverage and a change of clothes for me before our biyearly trip to the dentist, where I hoped they wouldn’t find chia seeds stuck in my teeth after this morning’s race.  The office was busy and seemed to be running late, so we were there for way longer than expected.  After the dentist, the BOY and I planned to swing into Naf Naf for lunch.

 

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I’m telling you if you’ve never been to Naf Naf and live in (or are visiting) Chicago, you should definitely check it out.  They make their pita fresh, and it is by far the fluffiest, and most tasty pita around!

 

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I’m only slightly embarrassed to say that I devoured my sandwich and some hummus in a short time : )  The BOY and I came back home after lunch, where I spent about 15 minutes replacing the battery in bike commuter.  When I finally got it figured out, it still didn’t work.  The BOY loaded my bike onto his car and we drove up to Lake Zurich for packet pick up and bike drop off for tomorrow’s triathlon.

 

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I was hoping and was correct that there would be a local bike shop at the expo.  The guy was super nice, got my biked all tuned up, and showed me how to move my receptor on the wheel to get my computer working again.  I know that I will be happy to have it tomorrow as I pace my way through the 14 mile ride.

 

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I placed my bike in transition and picked up my race chip (with this soft and comfy ankle band).

 

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This is my first Iron Girl event, and I have been looking forward to it for months.  Of course, seeing the lake got the butterflies bouncing about my stomach, but that is just par for the course with me.  All of the volunteers at check in and transition were helpful and friendly.  I got an adorable shirt AND a huge jar of Biscoff Spread amongst my other goodies in my SWAG bag.

 

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When we finally made our way home, the BOY went down for a nap (it was a lot of action for him for one day), and I started to pull together my shoes, equipment, and clothes for tomorrow’s race.

 

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I also threw a crumb cake into the oven (a box mix that I picked up at TJ’s this morning in between Starbucks and the dentist). 

 

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By 5:00, I finally got around to taking a shower before the second half of our day began.  My brother and his fiancé just walked in the door for dinner and the Hawks game.  The BOY will be grilling up some sea bass and potatoes for dinner, and I stocked the fridge with wine to celebrate their engagement.  I changed into my new race Tshirt for inspiration before tomorrow’s race and to remind myself not to stay up too late…ha ha!

Weird Week Ahead

Good Afternoon!

 

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It’s been an odd start to the week as I have to go in to work for a few hours this afternoon/evening.  Then tomorrow, I have the morning off before spending my afternoon as a teaching assistant.  After a few weekends of work/travel, I was looking forward to getting back into my meal planning groove.  However, between my schedule change, the BOY’s late night finals, and a sushi date with my girl friends on Thursday, there’s not much planning to do.

 

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I did finally make it to the grocery store this morning in order to restock our house with food…specifically fresh fruits and veggies!  We were in a sad state as evidenced above by the lone garlic.

 

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With the start of May, I am excited to detox my diet.  I mentioned this in my May goals, but didn’t have the energy to elaborate.  My plan is to return to a cleaner way of eating that includes no processed foods and tons of fresh produce.  I know that spring weather, farmer’s markets, and the BOY’s love of BBQing make this a much easier task.  I also know that I have exciting races and a fun trip abroad (details coming soon) planned where I will want to look and feel my best.  Now, that’s what I call motivation!

 

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I kicked off the week with a colorful salad with tuna.  I picked up some fish for dinner tomorrow night and decided on simple and easy to prep turkey tacos for dinner on Wednesday.  That’s about as far as I got with this week’s meal plans.  I know the BOY is excited to work through his last few finals so that he can get back to the grill and his new smoker.

 

This morning I treated my tired body to a much needed day off.  After yesterday’s PR, it deserved some rest, but I am looking forward to getting back into my tri training groove later in the week.  My official race results from yesterday were posted, and I was spot on with my own self timing…

30-34 Female Jennifer 1:49:46.54 Streamwood, IL

 

What’s fun is that I placed 11/40 in my age and division and 205/850 in the entire race!  Combined with a PR, I am proud of my early season effort! 

 

Quick question for ya’ll before I head off to work…I am looking for some healthy and easy to prepare ideas for lunch…maybe even salads that can be made ahead.

 

Any suggestions?  Please post your links!!

Running Date, Leftovers, and a Smoothie

Sunday Funday began EARLY today with a running date.

 

Ya’ll know that I am a mostly solitary runner, so I get excited at the chance to run with other people, friends or strangers : )  Which is why despite staying up a late for dinner and drinks last night, I set my alarm for a Sunday morning run.  Ok, I woke up at 7:30 which isn’t that early, but I usually sleep in later on Sundays.

 

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Breakfast was a running staple…TJ’s oatmeal with banana and pecans.  I met up with the trainer and two other friends at my old gym for an outdoor run.  The weathermen were predicting snow, but we were about to get out and begin winding through the neighborhoods before any foul weather.  It was around 35 degrees and at one point, we had to stop to delayer.  We ran at a steady pace for about 50 minutes before taking a good 20 minutes to stretch and roll out.  After making plans to run again next Saturday, I made my way over to Whole Foods for a few groceries.

 

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I was back home in time for lunch, laundry, and a second straight day of college basketball.

 

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For lunch, I baked a small sweet potato, smothered it with leftover pulled pork, and some cubed avocado with a side of mushrooms.  I didn’t get any great pictures of the pork last night, so I was hoping today’s pics would get your mouth watering.

 

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Mine certainly was as I dug into this BBQ Pork Baked Sweet Potato!

 

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One thing that caught my eye at Whole Foods this morning was their new line of juices.  They are made with just fruits and veggies, no water or sugar added.  The Green-Aid reminded me of yesterday’s invigorating green smoothie.

 

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I tried a new to me smoothie ingredient that added tons of flavor.

 

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Cucumber!

 

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I made a total mess in my clean kitchen with this smoothie, but it was worth it.  This sweet smoothie was one of the most refreshing I’ve ever made.  Cucumber may be a new stable in my homemade smoothies!

 

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After swimming on Thursday, spinning on Saturday, and running today, my legs are pretty fried.  It’s a great day to put up my feet and watch some basketball.  I’ll probably make another one of these incredible green smoothies too!

 

 

How are you spending your Sunday?

 

This is the IronGirl triathlon that I have been thinking about this June.  Has anyone done an IronGirl event before???

 

Refreshing Green Smoothie

 

Ingredients

1 large handful of spinach (I fill the bottom third of my blender)

1 cup of coconut water (I used flavored)

1 apple, cored and diced

1/2 medium sized cucumber, chopped

Splash of fresh lemon juice

1 cup frozen mango

 

Directions

Place spinach, coconut water, apple, and cucumber in a blend.  Pulse or chop until veggies are broken down.  Then blend on low-medium.  Add lemon juice and frozen mango.  Blend on high for a few minutes until smooth.

Sip and Smile

Note: I am learning with my new blender that the longer I let things blend on high, the frothier and smoother my smoothies are!