March On In

It’s the first day of March and ours came in with a snow storm and sunshine!  Don’t we just have the oddest weather?!

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It’s also my dad’s birthday!  Happy birthday Dad!!!

To be honest, I am ready for a new month.  I struggled throughout February to really find my rhythm.  Towards, the end I got back into my groove, and I am ready to March On In to this next month…hopefully surrounded by spring weather!

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February Goals

Change my name…Done!  I am officially a Misses!  I still have a few other forms to fill out but all of the important stuff is done.  Now, I just need to practice my signature.

Cook some new recipes…Ok, so I haven’t challenged myself in the Polynesian realm (yet), but let me just tell you that my Island Pork Tenderloin and Mustard Chicken are two of our new favorite dinners.

Create a budget and bucket list…Done and Done!

Maintain my vacation Zen…This was this month’s fail!  I started the month with the Bora Bora blues and although I have finally snapped out of my funk.  It was a tough adjustment back to the real world : )

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March Goals

Workout 5 days a week (this means strength and 10k training)

Start practicing more yoga at home (I’m practicing my press to handstands and I love it!)

Update my blog (there is much to do!)

Unplug and be present!

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What are your March goals?

Unplanned Unplug

I’m back again…

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I swear I didn’t plan to be gone from the blogging world for that long, it just sort of happened.  No I haven’t been reading blogs either so there is much to catch up on!  I’ve just been slammed on so many fronts and at the end of the day just didn’t have the time or energy to talk about it.  Enter in a scheduled ‘down’ weekend.  Well if you can call cramming errands into your Friday night and a workout, teaching a kids yoga class, and a facial into your Saturday all before 2pm ‘down’ time?!

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Anyways, in case you’ve missed me, here’s what I’ve been up to…

Nashville was wonderful, catching up with my girls, eating amazing food, and listening to fresh, live music!

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Bonuts from Biscuit Love…Mmm!

 

Devouring chocolate fondue with my amazing coworkers at All Chocolate Kitchen!

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Like, I really DOVE right in : )

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Celebrating our last wedding shower!

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My Bridesmaids

 

Followed by family fun and a birthday dinner at Cooper’s Hawk!

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And then my sister in laws 30th birthday party!

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Drinking PSL’s (Pumpkin Spice Lattes)

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And doing office coffee runs

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Trying out wedding nails

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Baking!

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Doing tons and tons of yoga!  And prepping for this morning’s classes…

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Freaking out that my wedding is only 4 weeks away…

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I’m hoping to be back up and running now as a blogger, so more updates, recipes, and pictures to come! 

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I hope!

Jetsetter

I’m Baaack!

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But I’m leaving again…

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Off to Nashville on Friday for a girl’s weekend!  Can’t wait!

In between – It’s super busy! 

Let’s see…there’s unpacking, Cooper loving, laundry, a 5 mile run (yesterday), paperwork, tea drinking, wine drinking, free latte drinking, cleaning, repacking, hot yoga (this morning), and OH YEA, celebrating my #34thBirthday TODAY!

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I can’t believe it’s been one year since I wrote my 33 Things to do While I’m 33 post.  Rereading it now, it does seem rather ambitious, but it warms my heart to see all that I’ve done this year that’s on the list.  What an incredible 365 days!  I’m looking forward to another exciting and special year ahead!

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Until then…enjoy an early #tbt pic from my quick cruise to CocoCay this past weekend!

See you next week!

Back to Life…

This past week’s motto was ‘Living on Dreams and Caffeine’ and it was one nutty week!

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But now that studying is behind me, it’s time to get Back to Life!!!

What I’m Looking Forward To…

Day Drinking and Thai

That about sums up Saturday.

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Exercise & Yoga

Kids yoga starts back soon.

 

A Little Pampering

I have a morning at the salt spa and a facial scheduled next weekend.

 

Serial

You know how you go from never hearing about something to having 3 people talk about it in 2 days?  That’s what happened with Serial.  I just needed a little help learning how to download podcasts.

 

Shopping & Returns

Super excited to use my 25% Athleta Friends and Family

 

Reading

Anything but a textbook!

 

Celebrations

Surprise! We had a wonderful belated party for my parents’ birthdays this morning.

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Binge watch Scandal

I’m so behind…

 

OMG!  Wedding!

Need I say more?! There is much to do!

 

Green Beer and Soda Bread

Well actually just a Shamrock Shake : )

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Spring

Hooray for sunny skies and melting snow!

 

March Madness

Indiana with a 10 spot. Woo hoo!

 

Catching Up with Cooper

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It will feel amazing to wake up tomorrow and get back to my ‘normal’ routine!

What are you looking forward to this spring?

Marching On

So hard to come up with a March title I haven’t used in the past.  No guarantee that this is one but I didn’t have the energy to look through the past few years of blogging.  So it’s March…in like a…what? Lion/Lamb?  Tough to tell from the library where I spent most of my weekend.

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Saturday started at Starbucks.  It took two tries to find one with a big table that was quiet enough for studying, but once I did, I was set for 3 hours of cramming.  Then I grabbed a sandwich and went home for a quick lunch with the guys.  I brewed up some iced tea and headed off to the library for another few hours of caffeinated information overload.

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The BOY and I had a fantastic Saturday night date night with new beers, chicken finger salad, and more binge watching the Blacklist.

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I went to bed early so that I would be bright eyed for Sunday morning yoga.  I have not been doing much exercise lately…instead focused on sleep, work, and studying, so this yoga class was a huge highlight of my week!

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Even more fun because I was there with my mom. We did a unique flow using all sides of our mat in a mandala. It was challenging, my muscles were sore, but I LOVED it.  Afterwards, my mom and I went to Whole Foods to stock up on goodies for the week ahead (and a few study snacks for the day).

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I went back to the library for the majority of Sunday until it closed at 5pm, when I picked up the BOY to meet my parents out for dinner to celebrate my Dad’s birthday (it’s today).

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We had a fantastic dinner with lots of laughter!  It was a wonderful way to start the month and celebrate my dad!

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Needless to say, February was not the month I thought it would be.  Although I kept my goals in mind, they just weren’t top priority.  Spending time with my family and friends…appreciating the little moments and experiences…that is what I focused on!

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Photo on 2-14-15 at 10.06 PM

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February Goals

1. Continue to prioritize studying. CHECK!  It’s going pretty well!

2. Drink less soda. DOUBLE CHECK!  I’ve been brewing lots of iced tea.

3. Eat clean.  No Check!  Well…let’s just say I’ve been indulging in a few (but not all) of my cravings.

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March Goals

After some thought, I’ve decided to take a break from goals this month. There is a lot going on and so I am going to just focus on getting through it all with a smile on my face : )  I’ll be back with spring goals next month!

 

Are you setting March Goals?  What’s up this month?

Winter Workouts

Hello Friends!

I have not forgotten you!  In fact, I started this post over a week ago and life has been so crazy that I never had the time to finish it and share it.  Today looked like it was going to be another day of madness.  Mondays are usually a tough day for me to get to work but even worse after a busy weekend.  I worked Saturday morning and taught two kids yoga classes.  This group is so sweet and so much fun! 

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Then we immediately jetted into the city to celebrate my younger brother’s 30th birthday.  We spent Saturday watching Illinois take a football victory and then drinking tons of prosecco into the night.  On Sunday, we met my family for brunch and pizza.

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Needless to say I was wiped when I got home and confused and depressed when my alarm went off early this morning.  But since I didn’t want to work Friday, I decided to work today.  It looked like it was going to be a rough start when I got stopped by not one, but TWO trains on my way to work.  But some icy snow and parent teacher conferences led to a bunch of last minute cancels, allowing me to be home by 6:30pm to eat dinner and watch Indiana Basketball with the BOY.

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So what have I been up to these past few weeks???

Lots of working and working out.  And in between?  Sleeping, reading, letting the BOY make dinner, and obviously not blogging : )

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Homemade pizza night (from Chef BOY)

When you live in a city like Chicago, your workouts change with the weather.  For the past few years, I’ve fallen into a cycle of spending the summers outdoors as a cardio queen, biking and running, and trying to get to a weekly hot yoga class.  Once the weather turns colder and the sun rises later, my outdoor morning runs turn into spin or strength classes at the gym.  My weekends consist of shorter (due to the cold weather) runs as able and strenuous hot yoga classes.  My motivation wanes a bit and it takes some extra incentive to get me out of the house and into the cold.

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Which is where friends come into the picture!  I met a friend last weekend at a forest preserve path in between our houses for a run through the snowy woods.  An hour of catching up on life is always a HUGE motivator for me.  In the mornings, I am back to speed workouts at the indoor track.

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Most recently, I gave this workout a go and was a big fan…

10 minute warm up

30 second sprint/90 second recovery x8

10 minute cool down

On top of running, I have been attending a weekly hot yoga class and a weekly strength class.  It’s early in the morning but I really like the people and every workout is unique and challenging.  Some morning I come home and some mornings its breakfast and a shower at the gym.

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The early morning wake ups (think pre 6am) are always an adjustment to all of us.  Even Cooper gets a bit out of whack.

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But despite the exhaustion, lack of sunshine, sore legs, and limited free time for fun stuff (like reading and writing blogs), I always feel really good when I am more active and building strength.  This week ahead is an exciting one, so I will hopefully have some new Thanksgiving recipes, fun family stories, and of course Cooper shenanigans to share when I return.  It won’t be so long this time, I promise!

 

Do your workouts change for winter?  What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Taste > Perfection

Whoopie pies are a labor of love!

But when the BOY requested them for his birthday dessert this weekend, of course I said YES!

However…I cheated a little bit.  Instead of going to my favorite Whoopie Pie book, I went to the baking aisle and bought a cake mix.  A girl only has so many hours in a day and mine have been busy studying, cooking, and cuddling with my cat.  So I figured a few short cuts would be just fine.  The BOY wanted a chocolate peanut butter combo and thanks to Pinterest, I was able to find plenty of options.

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I chose a triple chocolate cake recipe.  In my haste, I totally overfilled my adorable little whoopie pie pans, but they tasted just the same.  Don’t worry, I checked!

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My next problem came when I tried to pipe the peanut butter frosting onto the cookies.  Unfortunately, I cut my bag all wrong allowing frosting to ooze out from all angles.  This led to a messier situation than I expected, and I was so covered with frosting that I couldn’t get any shots.

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There may have been more frosting on my counter than made it into my sandwiches.

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But despite my lack of precision, the pies turned out GREAT!  I put a few aside for the BOY to enjoy on his birthday (he ate 4 the first day) and froze the rest for future consumption.  Except that I did slice off just one tiny bite from the freezer section and discovered that they taste exactly like a peanut butter chocolate ice cream sandwich! 

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No joke!  They are addicting!

Consider yourself warned!

Do you make special desserts for birthdays?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

From The Pink Flour

Makes 16 sandwiches

For the Cake Cookies

1 chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 degrees for convection).

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together the cake mix, eggs, water & vegetable for 2-3 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat (or invest in a whoopie pie pan). Scoop the batter on the baking sheet using a small ice cream scoop, approximately 1 1/2 – 2 inches in diameter.

Bake for 8 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool on baking sheet for 1 minute and then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

For the Filling

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (crunchy would work too!)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar

In a stand mixer (or using hand mixer), beat together the cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth.

Add vanilla and powdered sugar (1 cup at a time) and beat until light a fluffy.

Fill pastry bag (or plastic bag) with frosting and snip end of the bag. Turn one cookie upside down and pipe frosting on to the cookie and then top with another cookie.

Store in airtight container or freeze!