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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Fall Into Winter

Yea…it happened!  The storm that everyone was talking about has arrived and I have only one word to describe our street…

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WHITE!  When I woke up this morning both of our cars were covered.  Surprisingly, the BOY didn’t give me too much hassle to wake up early for our training sessions.  Dare, I say, he actually likes working out ; )

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He cleaned off the car, while I warmed up inside…

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Our workouts were tough, but good (I hate jumping lunges more than anything else…well, except maybe burpees) and the snow continued to fall while we worked up a sweat.

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Our big plan was to go straight to the Target to pick up necessities for the day.  As is our snow day tradition, ingredients for chili, snacks, and wine found their way into our cart along with a few other household things.  After Target, we swung by the dry cleaner and then Starbucks for a post workout ‘recovery’ latte.

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We were happy to get back inside and warm up.  Our original plan for the day was to get a bunch done and go out for dinner.  Since I wasn’t working this morning, I took advantage of some down time and a few old bananas.

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I turned them into the amazing Flour’s Famous Banana Bread (using the recipe from Averie’s blog) while watching college football.

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Cooper has anyone ever told you how helpful you are in the kitchen?

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No I didn’t think so!

Our fail for the day was that we only planned for one meal, chili, and because of timing it needed to be dinner. We thought about ordering our favorite delivery food, Thai, but the BOY  has been eager to try the new Mexican restaurant that opened up near our house.  A plan soon developed as we decided it would be quicker to walk the .4 miles there than clean off one of our cars (for the second time). 

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We bundled up and braved the first big snow storm of the season.

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Then, came home and devoured or lunch before taking an afternoon nap.

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I woke up first and decided I wanted to bake again.  What can I say, the snow has me in a nesting mode!  The BOY said that after last week, he wasn’t in the mood for cookies but that if I made oatmeal cookies, he might have a few.

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Rough life…right?  I found a fun pumpkin oatmeal recipe and instead of chocolate chips, subbed in white chocolate and cranberries.

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In an attempt to make them look blog worthy, I even added a few extra chips on the top.

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The addition of pumpkin to the oatmeal cookies makes them a little cake like and totally delicious!  I think if I make them again, I would add a little more spice. I can see where if you were doing chocolate chips, you wouldn’t want too much nutmeg, but with the white chocolate, I think more spice would work well.

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Around 3:30pm, the snow seemed to be stopping, leaving us immersed in a winter wonderland…just in time for tonight’s big freeze!  If I’m reading the preliminary reports correctly, it looks like we got at least 10 inches of snow in the last 18 hours.  WOW!

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When the BOY (and Cooper) woke up, we regrouped in the family room for more Big Ten College Football.

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Meanwhile, I did a million loads of laundry (including rugs and blankets), treated the BOY’s back pain, and managed to feel really relaxed and pulled together at the same time.

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I was telling the BOY that I love our newish snow day tradition of staying in and laying low.  We always have a lot of fun together, and I’m looking forward to staying in tonight with wine and games…and probably some more football!

Enjoy your Saturday Snow Day!

 

Pumpkin Oat White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Slightly Adapted from Cooking Classy

 

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips + more for the top of the cookies
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger for 30 seconds, set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy (occasionally stop and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl throughout entire mixing process). Blend in egg then blend in vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Mix in chips and cranberries (if you want some chips to show through, set some aside to press into tops before baking). Let batter rest 10 minutes (this just gives the oats some time to absorb the liquids so batter isn’t so sticky and cookies don’t spread so much).
  3. Scoop dough out 2 Tbsp at a time (I used a 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop, which I recommend using for evenly shaped cookies and fill it heaping), and drop onto Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2-inches apart. Bake in preheated oven 12 – 14 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Rainy Day Deliciousness

Sometimes, my mornings start like this…

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All bundled up for 6am yoga! 

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Rainy weather calls for hearty meals.  Monday, I made the most delicious dinner in my crockpot (in between whipping up about 7 dozen cookies).

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I’m not typically comfortable with bone-in chicken thighs but it’s good to try new things…right?!  I mixed up a honey garlic marinade and smothered my chicken and veggies in it.

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I cooked the chicken on high in my crockpot for 4 hours, but next time I will try low and slow.

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The result was magnificent!  The BOY was thrilled with his hearty and flavorful dinner.  It was the perfect meal for these shorter and wetter days!

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We ate all the chicken Monday for dinner, but I had plenty of veggies leftover for lunch this week.  As odd as it sounds, the sauce and veggies mixed beautifully with salmon.  I love the flavors of fall! 

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And speaking of fall flavors, these cookies make a really delicious dessert!

 

What do you like to eat/drink on rainy days?

Do you look ridiculous in your cold weather workout clothes?

 

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies

From Damn Delicious

Ingredients

  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 16 ounces baby red potatoes, halved
  • 16 ounces baby carrots
  • 16 ounces green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)
FOR THE SAUCE
  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine soy sauce, honey, ketchup, garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes and pepper.
  2. Place chicken thighs, potatoes, carrots and soy sauce mixture into a 6-qt slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours, basting every hour. Add green beans during the last 30 minutes of cooking time (See note below).
  3. OPTIONAL: Preheat oven to broil. Place chicken thighs onto a baking sheet, skin side up, and broil until crisp, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Serve chicken immediately with potatoes, carrots and green beans, garnished with parsley, if desired.

A few notes from me: I would add your green beans in earlier. Even on high heat, they were a bit crunchy and I cooked them for 1 hour.  Also, I did try to broil the chicken but my oven broiler is on the bottom, so they didn’t get so crispy and beautiful.

The First Frost is the Coldest {and a Tangent Tuesday}

So I was ready for a bit of a change…

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And a rich new fall hair color!  After rocking my natural color for a good 10 years, it was time to have some fun!

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I had a super busy Monday…the gym, a lunch date (tacos and guac), shopping, crockpotting, and then a hair appointment.  I got home after sun down but even the BOY noticed my new hair color.  Unlike when I got bangs and it took him 3 days to notice, this week he approved right away.  We had leftovers for dinner.  Our friends are amazing and sent us home with ribs, mashed potatoes, and cake : ) 

We have an exciting week ahead…our 1 month anniversary (is today!) and the BOY’s birthday…so lots to celebrate!

And celebrations require sweets!

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This weekend, I made the most amazing Monster Bars and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  Both are disappearing quickly.

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This morning, I took my new tennies for a test drive. 

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It was about 30 degrees and way too cold.  Well, I’m sure in a few weeks, I’ll be wishing it was that warm, but it got me thinking…Brrr…that first frost is the coldest (and toughest)!

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I ran about 5 miles and although I LOVED my new shoes, my fingers didn’t warm up until 3 patients into my day : )

I’ve ran out of tangents so I am off to bed…

What’s your Tuesday tangent?

 

Meal Planning 11/09/15

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Crockpot Chicken Curry

Wednesday: Sushi for the BOY’s Birthday Dinner

Thursday: Tacos

 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

From Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup of raisins

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl add the raisins and cover with water. Let them sit for five minutes. This will help plump them up.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth and creamy. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture. Blend until combined. Stir in the oats and raisins.

Spoon about a tablespoon of dough into a round ball, leaving space between each cookie. They will spread a little. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes. Take them out when they are golden at the edges but still a little under baked in the middle. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to cooling rack.

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.

Chipotle Apple Turkey Chili + Pumpkin Cornbread

Wow, I’ve been blogging up a storm recently.  Are you sick of me yet?

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We had the most gorgeous 70 degree fall day here!  It felt wonderful to be getting back into my no work Monday routine.  First stop was the gym for a session with my trainer. 

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Afterwards, I dropped off a car load of household stuff at GoodWill (from our weekend of cleaning) and then went to the grocery store.  I made a quick stop at home for a shower and to unload my groceries.  Then I was out and about for a few more errands and returns.  I ended up at Whole Foods for tasty salad bar lunch.

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When I got home, I opened all the windows to let in the clean, fresh air, threw in some laundry, and dove into this week’s recipes.  We brought a whole bunch of stuff back from Door County including a huge bag of apples.

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For this reason, my interest was peaked when I found a chili recipe that uses apples.  I got all the ingredients at the store and had some fresh cider in the fridge (also from the farm).

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This is a stove top recipe and really quite easy.  The flavors are odd but seem to blend together beautifully!

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Once my chili was simmering, I was ready to make M&M Cookie Bars.  I was super sad to discover that I did not read the recipe carefully enough to realize that I needed more oats and two different types of oats.  But, I moved on quickly with my softened butter to corn muffins.

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Only to discover that I bought too small of a package : (  I was having so much fun in the kitchen, between the sun light, clean cabinets, and new wedding gifts that I still wanted to make something.  So I cut the recipe in half and turned it into a bread.  I left the original recipe for muffins as written below.  Just know that you can half it if you buy the tinny 55 cent Jiffy package on accident.

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I have never made a pumpkin cornbread before, but I loved the idea and the smell.

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And again as odd as the combinations sound, both worked together to create a delicious meal…for tomorrow night.  But I had to try it for a pre dinner snack tonight.

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The BOY came home to grill, one last time it seems, as the grill ran out of juice.  He was able to make dinner in the oven.  We’re planning to have the chili tomorrow since we both work later and the rest of the week, I planned out on our newish chalkboard.  I’m hoping to have the M&M Cookie Bars made (and shared) sooner rather than later!

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Meal Planning 11/02/15

Monday: Steak and Tilapia

Tuesday: Chipotle Apple Turkey Chili + Pumpkin Cornbread

Wednesday: Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers

Thursday: BBQ Pork tenderloin and Veggies

Friday: TBD!

 

What are you cooking this week?

What’s the oddest ingredient you ever added to your chili?

 

 

Chipotle Apple Turkey Chili

From Pass the Sushi*

*Recipe is mostly the same…I just rewrote it a bit to make it easier to follow!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 small can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbs ground coriander
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • 1 tbs smoked paprika
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 green apples, (1 peeled and diced; 1 sliced) NOTE: I used a red apple
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup cider
  • Shredded super sharp white cheddar cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds and/or honey corn bread, for serving

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook until brown,  breaking it into chunks while cooking.

Meanwhile, using a food processor, puree the chipotles and 2 tbs of the adobo sauce.

Once turkey is browned, drain liquid.  Then stir 2 tbs of the chipotle puree into the ground turkey; season with salt and pepper. Reserve the remaining puree to adjust the heat at the end of cooking.  Stir in the coriander, cumin, paprika,  onion, and garlic.

Peel and dice one apple into 1/2″ chunks, add it to the chili. Slice the remaining apple and toss with the lemon juice; Set aside.

Add the cinnamon and bay leaves to the chili, cover and cook, stirring and lowering the heat, for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, then the stock and cider; bring to a boil.  Then lower to a simmer for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour.

Top the chili with the cheese, reserved apple and the toasted pumpkin seeds if desired.

 

Pumpkin Spice Corn Muffins

From Together as Family

Ingredients

  • 1 package (15 oz) Cornbread Baking Mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup milk, 2% or higher is best (I used coconut almond milk)
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 large egg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. (can also use 8×8 pan for cornbread and bake 15-20 minutes)
  2. In a large bowl combine the cornbread baking mix, cinnamon, nutmeg and whisk together.
  3. Add in canned pumpkin, milk, softened butter, and the egg. Whisk together gently just until combined.
  4. Using a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop batter and divide evenly into the muffin cups. They will about 2/3-3/4 full.
  5. Bake for 14-16 minutes.

It’s Fall Ya’ll!

Looks like fall…Smells like fall…Feels like fall…It’s fall ya’ll!  Hooray!

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I welcome October with open arms every year…it’s November and December that get a little less love : )  This October obviously comes with some extra excitement (#9days until the wedding).  Plus, we will be recovering/ mini-mooning in Door County, Wisconsin and I am hoping to see colors like these!

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I know I just set September goals, but let’s take a look and see how I did!

September Goals

Bike More…Nope!

Blog More…Working on it!

Get Wedding Organized…Yes, I’m feeling GOOD!

Keep Calm…there’s been a lot of yoga to help me here (see THIS post), but a few people have told me that I am exceptionally calm for being almost 1 week from wedding day!

And Enjoy the ride…loving EVERY moment and excited to see it all come together!

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Okay, so it’s no surprise that I only have one goal for October and that is to just be present and appreciate this unique and special time!  Afterwards, I’m looking forward to getting my life and house back to ‘normal’ with more time to sleep, cook, and blog.

 

What are you most excited for this fall?

What are your fall goals?