Plans With Megan and Jen

Do you have those friends who can so easily push you out of your comfort zone?  I am an outdoor girl at heart, but I don’t always find those opportunities for myself.  Which is why I am so grateful to the special people in my life who suggest a 2 hour car trip to Galena to spend the day outdoors playing in the snow.  I made plans with Megan and Jen weeks ago, and added them to my calendar just like that.  There was talk about doing an outdoor activity and since I don’t see them often, I have been super excited to hang out all week.  Despite my typical need to plan every moment, my work weeks have been busy and exhausting, so it wasn’t until Friday night that I was able to touch base with my friends and talk about our day.  The game plan…snow shoeing in Galena!

 

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For once, the weather was on our side.  I woke up Saturday morning to find a layer of light fluffy snow covering my car!

 

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Jen and Megan drove out from the city to pick me up on our way out west.

 

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There was lots to talk about as we made our way along the windy roads towards the Mississippi River.  Galena definitely looked different compared to my last visit in fall 2011.  It is such a cute little river town with restaurants and shops.

 

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My friend’s found a local shop that rents cross country skis and snow shoes.  The woman who worked here was so friendly and helpful.  She fit us with snow shoes, and gave us a few suggestions for trails.

 

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We decided to go into the woods overlooking the river.

 

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Although we got a little lost, we found our way to the trail head, added multiple layers of clothing, and hooked ourselves into our shoes.

 

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We started walking down a long driveway and although we had no idea which way to go, we found ourselves following an unmarked trail leading down into a valley.  The woods were silent and peaceful, and the only other tracks in the snow were deer and bunnies.

 

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The sun beamed down on the snow covered trees creating an awe inspiring 360 degree view of the forest.

 

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We hiked up, down, over, and under creating our own trail along the way. 

 

Under Branch Uphill

 

There were some steep hills to climb as we went trailblazing through the woods in Galena, IL.

 

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When we found ourselves at a dead end, we turned back around and followed our tracks back towards the car.  Along the way, we spotted an actual trail marker.  Our first trail marker…opps!  It looks like we totally missed the trail the first time and instead forged our own.  Since we had a little more time before we had to return, we followed the actual trail for a little bit.

 

Trail Marker Jen and Megan

 

It amazed me that even this late in the afternoon, the trail was still empty.  We were the first to attempt to descend the stairs in our big bulky snow shoes, which led to lots of laughter.

 

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At the end of the day, we all had a BLAST snow shoeing and actively exploring this undisturbed forest.

 

Jumping

 

As the sun was starting to set, we found our way back to the start where there was a huge lot of fluffy snow to play in.

 

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And a gorgeous view of the setting sun!

 

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It was breath taking, and the perfect way to end an exciting day!

 

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The car ride home was nice and relaxing as we recounted the days events.  I am so grateful for spontaneous road trips, close friends, and unmarked paths that always seem to put a smile on my face : )

Now, I just have to figure out how to get my hands on my very own pair of snow shoes!

Sunshine, Snow, and Sunday

So we made it through January!

What do you think?

Is 2013 all that you wanted it to be???

 

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I hope so!  If not, there is plenty of time to get started on your new year’s intentions!  I woke up this morning to another sunny day with a fresh coat of snow covering my car.  The first thought that ran through my head was…I wish I had snow shoes!  I would go again this morning exploring the forest preserve by our house.

 

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Instead, I headed off to my weekly Hot Yoga class.  I stayed up late watching the Indiana Victory last night, so I didn’t make it to my usual 10am class.  As I was walking in for the 11:30 class, I bumped into my Mom and a friend who had just finished their class.  It was fun to chat about yoga and homemade energy bars, and my Mom mentioned that she was jealous that she missed yesterday’s snow shoeing adventure.

 

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After class, the BOY and I made a quick run to the crazy crowded grocery store.  Being that it is Superbowl Sunday, I was not in the least surprised.  We are spending the evening at my best friend’s house and had a few last minute things to pick up.  It is no secret that I am a huge fan of football, and even though I have no strong feelings about the winner of tonight’s game, I am looking forward to a good match.  It is tough to talk Superbowl without bringing up food, so I want to refer you to THIS POST dedicated to football food and the 2012 Beer Bowl

 

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I did make hummus and a new dip for tonight (pictured above with recipe to come).  However, we are doing something a little different.  We are straying away from traditional football food and having Indian food for dinner.  My best friend and I have been talking about getting together for Indian for weeks, so we thought it would be fun to combine the two events.

 

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It occurred to me this morning that it is already February, and therefore, time to reflect on the previous month.

 

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The month went by quickly, but really was a lot of fun.  I started the year with a clear head and some healthy soup!  I was nominated for the Liebster Award and shared some new info and old pictures.

 

I spent a bunch of time in the kitchen whipping up some healthy recipes…

Chickpea Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Stew

Chicken with Figs

Slow Cooker Turkey and Bean Chili

Clean Peanutty Thai Chicken

Lentil Chili

 

Along with a few sweet Treats…

Scotcheroos

Cookie Dough Pretzel Bites

Peanut Butter Bonbons

 

 

And the BOY and I totally robbed Yogurtland!  On the activity front,  I have been going to CrossFit and getting creative with my lack of gym membership by running at the indoor track.

 

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I didn’t write any specific goals for January, but really just tried to find balance, stay centered and stress free, and return to a healthier lifestyle mentally and physically.  So far, I’d say that I am on the right track, and look forward to carrying this good feeling on to February. 

 

February Goals

-Sign up for the Chicago Marathon

-Try some classes (ie Bikram yoga)

-Avoid added sugars, fake sugars, and high fructose corn sugar

-Maintain work/life balancec

 

You can read my 2013 Bucket List for an entire year’s worth of intentions.

 

 

How was your Sunday?  What are your February goals?

WIDS and More Comfort Food

WIDS = What I did Saturday

Ps I totally made that up…not too sure what I think of it : )

 

Two things going on here…

#1 I spent the day snow shoeing and it was amazing!

 

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However, I don’t have all of the pictures (there were three of us and numerous phones/cameras), so I just can’t complete the post of my super cool Saturday activity just yet.

 

#2 I have another recipe to share with you!

 

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And it is a good one for a cold winter weekend.  Sometimes, I find a recipe and then go in search of all of the needed ingredients.  Other times, I have exactly what I need at home (overripe bananas and half a can of pumpkin puree) and go in search of a recipe.

 

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In this case, it was the second scenario that led me to find this healthier take on pumpkin bread.

 

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It is no secret that I am a HUGE fan of quick breads!  And you’ll definitely notice a theme here with my last few posts.  Lentil Chili, Crockpot Peanut Butter Chicken, and bread…they are all comfort foods perfect for a lazy weekend at home, which is exactly what has been going on here this winter!

 

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This bread uses maple syrup instead of sugar, and a subs in half whole wheat flour for a healthier version of the original.

 

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As always this bread smells incredible!

 

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Therefore so will your entire house!

 

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So, don’t say that I didn’t warn you!

 

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After a wonderful day frolicking in the snow, there is nothing better than a warm slice of pumpkin banana bread smothered in fresh jam or homemade nut butter!

 

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I’m sure you’ll agree!

 

Looking for More Pumpkin and Banana?

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Banana Bread

Pumpkin Banana Baked Oatmeal Bars

 

Ok, there is one more thing going on here…

 

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But it is way too close to talk about right now!!!

 

 

Pumpkin Banana Bread

From Rebecca Thinks…

 

Ingredients

2 mashed ripe bananas

1 can pumpkin puree

1/4 cup vegetable oil (you can use corn oil, canola oil, or olive oil or experiment with your favorite)

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 eggs

2 cups flour (try whole wheat pastry flour or 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour)

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

(I also added in a sprinkle of ground clove)

 

Directions

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat an 8 1/2- x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan (or four mini loaf pans) with vegetable oil, and wipe off the excess.

Place mashed banana, pumpkin puree, oil, maple syrup, and eggs in a large bowl. Beat with an electronic mixer on low speed.

Place flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon in a medium bowl, and stir with a whisk.

Add flour mixture to banana and pumpkin mixture, and stir or lightly beat until just moist.

Pour batter into loaf pan, and bake for one hour or until toothpick  placed in center comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving.

 

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Stories of snow shoeing coming soon…