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.
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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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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?

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!!!

Slowing Down {Not By Choice}

Life has been busy, hence my lack of recent blog posts.  I have been committing to my yoga practice, trying to enjoy some outside bike rides and fires, working hard on a few different projects, and enjoying time with my new roommates.

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I have been drinking wine, teaching kids yoga, attending donut club, playing on the 606, reading like crazy, drinking a ton of espresso, and this past weekend we did a family trip up to Green Lake, Wisconsin.

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What I haven’t been doing much off…cooking, baking, and blogging.  I’ve been lucky enough to have some help in the kitchen and of course my BBQ master.  Plus, with new roommates, there are more of us to help out with all of the meal planning.  Last weekend was so super busy, I never even made it to the grocery store!  So that being said, it was very clear when about 2 weeks ago I was playing tennis with my dad, went to shag down a run away ball, and fell in a hole, rolling my left ankle to the sounds of cracking and popping that perhaps the universe was encouraging me to slow down.

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I iced and taped my ankle and focused on rest throughout the weekend.  I took a night off from yoga teacher training and an easy bike ride throughout town (see picture above).  At a time when my yoga practice was escalating and getting more intense, I too a step back.  It wasn’t easy but I listened to my body.  Luckily, the 5k I was supposed to run the next weekend got cancelled and by this weekend, I was feeling 85% better with only mild amounts of pain with lateral movements and Warrior II.  Last Friday, I even went out for a pain free run and Saturday morning did a fun yoga session on the dock with my mom in Wisconsin.

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However, Saturday took a sad turn when my right big toe got sliced by a sliding doggie gate.  It didn’t look good for my nail but didn’t look bad enough for a trip to the rural Wisconsin ER.  We bandaged up my toe and the weekend proceeded on with boat rides, food, crazy doggies, sunsets, and wine!

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It was a wonderful weekend get away and we all appreciated the sunshine and stories.

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Yesterday, I decided to have my toe checked out by the podiatrist.  All the funny walking had my left ankle acting up again and I wasn’t sure what to do with the wound.  The good news…no signs of infection.  The bad news…my big toe nail was coming off.  Somehow I made it through 2 marathons with all 10 toe nails and here after a casual weekend in Wisconsin, I was losing my first one.

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I was instructed to rest and so rest I did.  I spent last night off my feet, but didn’t sleep so well last night.  I took today off of work, figuring my right toe and now sore left ankle weren’t ready for the ball pit at work.  After a mid morning nap and a bandage change, my toe was feeling much better.  So much so that I got a bit antsy.  Since yoga, running, and biking were on the ‘No’ list, I took advantage of a yoga glo meditation.  And then whipped up 2 new raw recipes for snacks for the week.

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Which means after a quiet few months, I actually have some recipes to share.  The first one, I modified a bit using a little almond milk instead of extra honey to help the dough come together.  Both recipes below are as written without my modifications.

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These protein bites are super delicious and won’t last long in your house!  I was so successful that I decided to try one more with dates and peanut butter since we had both in the house.

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For this recipe, I added a little extra chia and because I didn’t have peanuts, I used a mix of nuts from a trail mix.

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I had to try a tiny bite before putting the bars into the fridge…

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And they are also super delish!  After all of the activity, I was ready to retreat back to my chair with a little more rest and some ice.

Because clearly, someone, somewhere is telling me to rest and slow down.  My plan for the week is to let pain be my guide and build up my activity level slowly as able each day.  I know that I will be back in my gym shoes and on my mat soon enough.  And within the next year, I’ll even have a brand new toe nail!

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Until then, I’ll be hanging with my new nurse!

How do you know when you need to slow down?

Have you ever lost a toe nail?

 

No Bake Cinnamon Vanilla Protein Bites

From Cotter Crunch

Ingredients

  • 1 heaping TBSP ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (around 65-75grams) Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup honey ·
  • ½ cup almond meal or peanut flour (you can also just finely grind raw almonds) ·
  • ¼ cup nut butter (creamy no stir works best)
  • ¾ cup of gluten free quick oats or gluten free cereal of choice
  • Vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Grind up your oats or cereal in a food processor and transfer into a mixing bowl. This is optional. You can keep them whole as well and adjust the addition of honey.
  2. Add your almond meal, protein powder, cinnamon, and nut butter. Stir ingredients all together.  Add in your honey and vanilla then mix again well with hands.
  3. Roll into 1-1.5 inch balls and place on cookie tray or plastic ware with parchment paper underneath.
  4. Dust with additional cinnamon and vanilla protein if desired.
  5. Keep in fridge or freezer for up to 6 weeks (if they last that long).

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Bars

From My Sequined Life

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted, whole dates
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chia seeds (or 2x as much)

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to food processor and process until the ingredients break down and become a mostly cohesive mixture. You will still have little pieces of peanuts remaining, and the consistency of the mixture should hold together when you press it together.
  2. Line a rimmed dish with parchment paper and press mixture into it, leaving your desired thickness.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before slicing. Store bars in the refrigerator.

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???

Exploration…

It’s been a little while since I decided I wanted to teach kids yoga…and since then I’ve had the 200 hour teacher training on my bucket list.  It seems surreal that the weekend it all begins is here!

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I have been thinking about this a lot as the date approaches and not just because I am obsessing over my Anatomy PowerPoints.  My main reason for wanting to take the class was to enhance my understanding and skill to make me a better kids yoga teacher.  But, I also realize that this is such  a unique gift that I can give myself as I explore my own yoga practice.  On top of that….teaching adult yoga may be a fun way to make a few extra dollars when we move to the city.  So those three reasons led me to Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) this morning at 8am!

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I was super excited (and also totally nervous)!  I knew that this journey would change my yoga practice and perhaps even change me!  I just had to figure out what to wear on my first day : ) We started with some get to know you stuff and it’s fun to see everyone’s background and what led them to this moment.

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Then we did our first yoga practice together.  Afterwards, we practiced talking through poses and then continued to get to know each other over lunch, which a few of us enjoyed outside.  After lunch, we dug deep with a timeline of our lives and the option to share some defining moments.  I was comfortable sharing, especially since one of my most recent defining moments was marrying my best friend last fall.  This moment shaped my new identity as a wife as I shed my independent self and became part of a new family.  After discussions about intention setting and affirmations, we ended a bit early, which meant I was home by 4pm.

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With the sun blazing, I decided to take a spin on my bike!  It was an absolutely gorgeous day!  And it wasn’t until I was half way through my 10 mile ride that I realized my drive to ride most likely came from the fact that this is my first Memorial Day Sunday in, I dunno, 6 years not doing Bike the Drive.  Not surprisingly, I was all signed up for the ride but passed my entry along to my brother when I decided to do yoga teacher training.

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When I got back home from my ride, the BOY was home after spending the day with his dad.  I showered and made myself a wine spritzer and we sat out back listening to music.

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The BOY made us a delicious seared tuna with broccoli while he chatted baseball with the neighborhood boys.

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We came inside early (based on the neighborhood standards) because I actually have a few patients tomorrow morning and then day 2 of YTT tomorrow night.  The day was a great Memorial Day kick off to summer but also an exciting start to this next chapter in my yoga journey!

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Namaste!