Jalapeno Mac and Cheese {and Life Updates}

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

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I feel like that is definitely saying something!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spicy Mac and Cheese

From The Whole Foods Market Cookbook

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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

 

Turkey Meatballs
The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno

Ingredients

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

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

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

So Much Sunday to Share!

Hey ya’ll! How ya been?

Coming to you from the comfort of my couch after a gorgeous (and windy) bike ride, followed by an indulgently warm shower.

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I know it’s been awhile…we had a super busy week!  I started off a little slow recovering from our weekend away.  But still sporting my party nails : )

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But by Thursday, I was up early for a run and Friday, I made it to a 6am yoga class.

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We made it through the week and celebrated Friday night with wine!  Saturday morning, I was at the gym alone since the BOY had a bachelor party.  My trainer worked me HARD using heavy weights and lots of reps.  I ran a few errands after the gym and then headed back home.

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Although I would have much rather been playing with my friends, I had a long list of things that needed to get done on Saturday. I spent the day doing laundry, decluttering our house, finishing some computer based learning, and making progress on my anatomy power points.  At 4pm, the BOY returned home and we took an hour long nap before heading back out.  He was off to finish up the bachelor party (of his sister’s fiancé) and I was going to hang out with my sister in law while the guys were out being guys.

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We ended up at a bar watching a Boy Band cover band which was pretty hilarious and brought back a lot of college memories!  Then went back to her house to have some more wine and cuddle with the kitties!  They are seriously so much fun!

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The BOY returned back around 2am and back home we went where we immediately crashed!  We didn’t sleep as late as we wanted this morning and I woke up with a sore throat, fearing that I had caught the BOY’s cold from last week.  Since we were up, we did our weekly grocery store run.  As you saw on Instagram, there are many benefits of Sunday morning shopping including TONS of cheese samples.

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I sipped a green smoothie as we shopped hoping to take in some immunity boosting nutrients.  After the store, we came home and made bacon and eggs for brekkie.  Since I wasn’t feeling well, we didn’t make any plans for the day. I took a Musinex and finished up my last computer learning module.  I know that I haven’t been sharing recipes recently, but it’s not because we haven’t been cooking and baking.  We’ve just been sticking with some basics and old favorites.  I made brownies and knew that they needed some home made ice cream to go with them.  Typically, the BOY makes the ice cream so I don’t get many pictures.

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But this time, I did the work, including chopping up all the birthday cake Oreos.

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Which, FYI are amazing!!!  I stirred them into the ice cream which was soft and smooth and tasted like a fresh made blizzard.

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It took a lot of restraint not to dive head first into the bowl of ice cream, so I settled with a few bites before hiding it in the freezer.  During this time, Cooper was no where to be found.  Weird right?! Considering he is usually ALL over the ice cream maker!  I searched everywhere high and low but couldn’t lure him out of hiding.  We had to run out, so we left and I was thinking that he was probably napping after our late night out.  I grabbed some Whole Foods deliciousness for lunch and the BOY came home and heard a noise in the garage.  Turns out…Cooper was stuck with his paw caught under a bucket in our garage all morning.  The BOY said that he ran upstairs immediately to the litter box and that his paw seemed just fine.  I was relieved to hear it, but we still can’t figure out how and when he made his way into the garage?!

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After lunch, the BOY  (and Cooper) took a nap…it had been an emotional day for him…and I decided to break a sweat outside with a bike ride.

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It was way windier than I realized and sadly our path was flooded so I did more of a back and forth ride than my typical loop.  It felt wonderful to be out in the sunshine, even though it was not nearly as warm as I thought it would be.

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You’ll note my amazing new sunglasses.  They say ‘I heart Boy Bands’ on the side and were a freebie from last night’s concert.  We are spending Sunday night in BBQing for dinner and watching a movie (while I continue to pack and work on slides).  I definitely need an early bed time if I want to turn this cold around!  So much to share this Sunday!!!

 

What are you sharing this Sunday?

 

Meal Planning 5/15/16

Monday: Crockpot Chili

Tuesday: Hotdogs and Chicken Burgers

Wednesday: Steak + Salmon

Thursday: Pasta Night

Cheesy Stuffed Sourdough Loaf

We packed so much into our weekend that it required two blog posts : )  Yesterday I shared Saturday and now it’s on to Sunday Funday!  Yes, I know that today is actually Monday!

Despite a somewhat late Saturday night, I set my alarm to wake up early Sunday morning for 8am yoga.  Two weekends in a row…hooray for me!

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It was so cold (30 degrees) when I woke up that boots and pants were required.

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And hot tea!  I met my mom at the studio with enough time to chat before class.  We were pleasantly surprised that the sub was one of our favorite instructors who led us through a deep physical and emotional practice.  My legs were sore and tired from Saturdays workout, yet my movement felt effortless.  It was an odd sensation but just reinforced how much I LOVE being on my yoga mat, especially when my mom is next to me.  After yoga, we went to Whole Foods for coffee, more chatting, and to purchase the ingredients for my Sunday Funday recipe.

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We had plans with friends of ours for a Sunday lunch.  Every time we hang out with them we have a BLAST!  I was in charge of an appetizer and wanted to try something new but didn’t have tons of time.  I searched through my Sunday Funday Pinterest Board and after some discussion with the BOY decided on this Cheesy Stuffed Sourdough LoafI changed up the recipe a bit and the BOY suggested adding Gardinara, which was a huge success.

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I had the BOY slice the bread while I whipped together the olive oil mixture.  Since we were taking it with us, our plan was to have it all set to go into the oven at our friends house.

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Then we poured the olive oil mix all over the bread.  We stuffed each slit with mozzarella cheese and salami and the BOY stuffed half the bread with his Gardinara.

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We packed it up in a Tuperware for easy transport.  When we arrived, we baked up the bread while we poured cocktails and caught up on life.  The bread baked for a little over 20 minutes and looked amazing when we pulled it out of the oven.

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We dove right in before even letting it cool.  The warm garlic and olive oil were the perfect compliment to the warm, gooey cheese, and crispy bread.  We all raved about how delicious it was, and the BOY took full responsibility for the Gardinara idea.

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We ate almost the entire loaf of sourdough but tried to save room for our filling lunch of ribs and homemade mashed potatoes.  Our friends have two adorable kids who were not napping with all of the excitement of our arrival and food.

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We stayed for hours eating, drinking, coloring, and watching football.  Since they weren’t able to make our wedding, there was much to fill them in on and they bought us a gorgeous congratulations cake from the bakery.  When we arrived home at 6pm, I was so stuffed, I couldn’t even think about food, but filled with happiness from the ease of a fun day spent with friends.  They did send us home with leftovers which I knew we’d be enjoying soon!

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There was nothing healthy about this bread, but everyone agreed it was a definitely make again!

 

What is your favorite Sunday Funday appetizer?

 

Cheesy Stuffed Sourdough Loaf

Adapted from Nancy Creative

Ingredients

  • 1 (1 lb. 8 oz.) round sourdough bread loaf
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/3 to 1/2 lb. (or about 5 to 8 ounces) thinly sliced salami (or your favorite lunch meat)
  • 10 to 12 ounces sliced mozzarella or provolone cheese, or 5 to 6 ounces of each (about 14  slices total)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup Gardinara, well-drained
  • Optional: 1/3 to 1/2 cup sliced olives or any of the following–chopped marinated artichokes, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, sliced mushrooms

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place your loaf on the sheet.

Slice your round loaf of bread vertically into 3/4″ to 1″ thick slices–but do not slice all the way through to the bottom! (You should end up with about 10 or 11 “slices,” giving you 9 or 10 “slits” to stuff with cheese and meat).

In medium bowl, combine olive oil, oregano, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and minced garlic, stirring to mix well. Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of all the bread “slices” generously with this olive oil mixture.

In assembly-line fashion, make 14 “piles” with each slice of cheese, topped with a thin slice of deli meat.  Bend each cheese slice “pile” as if you were going to fold it in half, and fit down in between your bread slices. Because several of the end slices are narrower, one “pile” is enough to fill them up. The wider middle slices will require two “piles” stuffed in between them.  Pour in Gardinara generously into slits.

Bake your stuffed loaf on the baking sheet at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven, and serve while warm! You can just pull the slices apart as you’re eating it, or cut them with a knife.

MiniMooners

After the absolute excitement and craziness of a wedding, there was only one place we wanted to be…

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Door County, Wisconsin!

We drove up Friday afternoon and after a quick stop at a winery for a tasting, checked into our adorable room complete with a kitchen and fireplace.  We didn’t stay long before heading further up north for Friday night fish fry.  Not surprisingly, there was a wait, so we found a comfortable spot on a bench at the bar across the street, Wisconsin beer in hand.  There is no place more relaxing than DC!

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Even though the weather was raining on and off, we had the most wonderful 4 days.  We caught some gorgeous fall colors and ate ourselves silly with all the delicious food.  We hiked through Peninsula State Park and walked through Cave Point and Newport State Park.

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The waves on the Lake Michigan coast were intense!  And we built our first rock structure along the shore.

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We sampled cheese, bread, wine, and Island Orchard Hard Cider

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We drank coffee, hot chocolate, and tea and ate pie, cookies, donuts, and fudge.  We visited our favorite pizza place (twice)!

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We visited old favorites and discovered some amazing new places (ie farm fresh meats and fresh picked apples).  And when the rain came pouring down, we gathered around the fireplace to play games and drink champagne.

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I shopped the markets and stores and had two peaceful morning runs through the state park.

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It was the perfect long weekend of rest and play…

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For my new husband and I!

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Keep Calm and Wedding On

What is one to do two weeks before 15 months of planning finally comes together?

Or should I say…How do you spend your second to last weekend before your wedding?

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Truth be told, I am close to losing my mind!  I am way less organized than typical me and I spend a lot more time getting my nails done.  It’s quite odd : )  My weekend started Friday night meeting my mom for a manicure.  Still trying to finalize my color…

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Then we went home for a late dinner and an early-ish bed time.  Saturday morning started bright and early with a workout.  More kick boxing which should be on every bride’s list of things to do and of course a bunch of pre wedding push ups and sled pulls.

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Then I was off to teach my kids yoga class.  We had a special guest, my friend who just took the Rainbow Kids Yoga class in Chicago and her adorable daughter, who joined us for yoga showing the kids that every body and every age can yoga!

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From there, I was back home to meet my mom for lunch at our favorite local sandwich place, followed by some wedding related shopping.  We lured my sister in law out to the suburbs with the promise of wine and of course a morning espresso from our new machine. I should mention that the BOY, my brother, and a crew of guys were down in Louisville sampling the bourbon and BBQ for the BOY’s bachelor party this weekend.

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The night began with a cheese plate and pink bubbles (aka rose) and proceeded as expected.  We abandoned dinner and sat out back for hours eating cheese and snacks, sharing stories of the past, and making many plans for the future.  Eventually, I put everyone to work prepping flip flops for the dance floor bins.

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As always, we stayed up WAY too late and drank WAY too much wine.  So everyone was more than pleased to start their Sunday with a frothy espresso!

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After breakfast, we attacked Home Goods with enthusiasm filling our cart with fall décor and household goodies.  We had a few other shopping stops before settling onto a bench in the afternoon with well deserved full bowls of fro yo.  By afternoon, everyone parted ways and I got myself to work around the house while listening to the Bears game.  I took a huge zucchini from a coworker’s garden last week and promised to return with bread.  Sadly, he wasn’t looking so good.  Since I was still in the mood to bake, I switched over to pumpkin bread.  I mean, it is officially fall!

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This bread baked up perfectly, turning out moist and delicious!  It was a nice end to my busy weekend cleaning up the house with the windows open and the smells of fall flowing throughout.

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Monday was just as busy as the rest of the weekend. I packed in a workout, my last dress fitting, a meeting with the hotel, a phone conference with my florist, a trip to the grocery store, amongst everything else and was done just after the BOY returned from his weekend away.  With just 11 days to go, life has been a bit chaotic, so I’ve been keeping calm with tons of yoga…as noted by all my post yoga selfies…

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And surrounding myself with the support of my friends and family!

Just trying to Keep Calm and Wedding On : )

 

Pumpkin Bread

From Simply Recipes

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 1/2 cups (200g) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup (240 ml) pumpkin purée
  • 4 ounces (1 stick, 112 g) butter, melted (can sub 1/2 cup light olive oil)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Directions

1 Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

2 In a separate bowl mix together the pumpkin purée, the melted butter, beaten eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and molasses. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined and there is no more dry flour in the batter. Do not overmix! If adding chopped pecans or walnuts, stir them in.

3 Butter the insides of an 8 x 4 x 3 -inch loaf pan. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top. Put in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a tester poked in the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then run a blunt dinner knife around the edges of the pumpkin bread to gently separate it from the pan. Invert it to loosen it from the pan and put the loaf on a rack to cool completely.

Almost Famous

When was the last time you saw the movie Almost Famous? If you haven’t heard of it, don’t tell me because it will only make me feel old : )

The BOY had never seen the movie, but I convinced him that it was the best free movie on Amazon for us to watch Saturday night.  I tried to convince him that we should watch Anastasia (one of my all time favorites but that didn’t go so well).  I’ll admit that Almost Famous was an awesome Saturday night #datenight movie!

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The weekend arrived on cue and I was ready for it!  Both the BOY and I had long and busy work weeks and Friday night was a welcome arrival!  I was up early Friday morning for a hot yoga class and gladly rode the high of yoga through my work day, inspiring my kids yoga classes.

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My ‘Almost Famous’ glasses : )

Before the BOY got home, I quickly soaked up the day’s Tour de France stage.  He claims to not like it, yet he knows a lot about the peloton.  Anyways, we ate dinner and I was so exhausted that I went up to bed early.  I was up early Saturday morning (Thanks Coop!) and met with my trainer for an awesome AM workout of boxing and strength.  I just tried the boxing stuff for the first time, and I honestly feel all brides should do it!  Then, I met my Dad for an hour of tennis in the heat before meeting back up at my parents house with my bestie for lunch and envelope stuffing. 

We were quickly able to figure out an assembly line and within a few hours all of my wedding invitations were sealed and ready to mail!  Sorry friends…no spoilers!  OMG!  We are having a wedding!!!

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After a glass of wine with my parents. I drove home, picked up the BOY, and date night began at Mariano’s.  We bought cheese and dinner and opened up a bottle of wine from one of my favorite wineries from our California trip.  And then started the movie…

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The BOY grilled up a fantastic dinner!  Sunday flew by way to quickly.  The BOY and I played tennis in the morning and then ran a few errands.  We ran into his aunt at Nordstrom, and had an super fun impromptu lunch.  Then, we were off to the grocery store and back home.  It was a busy day since the BOY and  both had to work today.

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I got started way too late yesterday on Monday night’s dinner, which was crockpot pulled pork.  The best thing about this recipe is that I had all the ingredients (except the pork) already in my house.  By the time I was ready for bed, my pork was looking and smelling good, but still not ready to shred.  We ended up moving the crockpot to the fridge and going to bed.  We both had busy Mondays, but the non shredded pork was super yummy for tonight’s dinner!

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Have an amazing week!

Meal Planning 7/20/15

Monday: Crockpot Pork Roast from Mismashed Mom

Tuesday: Turkey Taco Tuesday

Wednesday: I don’t remember : )

Thursday: Out of Town!!!

Back

Heelllooo! 

We are BACK from our weekend in Wisconsin (aka #WisonsinWeekend Part 2).  This time, we had friends and family to share the time with, and it was the most wonderful getaway.

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I had plans to post and share a whole bunch late last week, but instead…well, I went out to dinner last Thursday night to celebrate.  What?  I’m sure you will ask!  Well, remember that BIG test that took over my life this past winter?  I passed it!  I was beyond thrilled to find out Thursday at lunch, and the BOY and I decided that a celebration was in order. 

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Friday, I made it through the work day and then my dad, the BOY and I drove up to Green Lake.  Everyone arrived around 10pm Friday night and bubbles were popped and discussions begun.  The rest of the weekend proceeded with the perfect mix of rest, laughter, real conversations, naps, water fun, and snacks.

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I had planned to bake a few things to take to the lake, like these peanut butter cookies, then my oven broke. I did blend up a double batch of my favorite travel treat…Cookie Dough Balls.

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Sunday, we got home late and Monday was one of those GO GO GO days.  I had a haircut, eye doctor appointment, wedding stuff, grocery shopping, and of course a trip to the gym to accomplish….you know that kind of day.  I did have time to stop for lunch at one of my favorite places…Mmm!

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The good news is that we did get our oven fixed that day, so baking will be BACK.  I do need to get BACK to reading blogs and catch up on what’s going on in your lives too!  And speaking of BACK…we got our engagement pics BACK this weekend!

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And I almost forgot to mention!  Kids yoga is BACK in action this Friday.  Woo Hoo!!!

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On a totally different note…remember back when I said I was in the city doing something secret?

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Well Alex and Brittany, from Dig Primal and Sparkle Kitchen respectively, invited me to speak on their Podcast.  I am big fans of their honesty and ideas and was thrilled to preach about discuss natural movement in babies and of course my kids yoga classes!  I haven’t listened to it yet, but had such a fun time meeting Alex and chatting about kids and nerdy stuff.  I hope you’ll take a listen and let me know what you think?!

 

What are you getting back to this week?