Five for Friday XXIX

1. Yesterday was my last day teaching the after school enrichment program at the elementary school by work.  They were a fun and energetic group of kindergarteners, and I will miss doing snowga and taking African safaris with them.  On the other hand, I am happy to have a small yoga break until the end of March.  Creating exciting new lesson plans and age appropriate playlists takes a lot of time and although it is well worth it, the break is necessary to focus on studying.

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2. Last night instead of studying, I met one of my close friends and her two beautiful daughters at Portillo’s.  They are in the process of moving from Michigan to Texas.  After a crazy week of snow storms, water heater drama, and work, it was so fun to spend the night catching up with the girls.

 

3.  I was quite distressed when I discovered that I missed free frozen yogurt day at Yogurtland this week.  The only thing that got me through was knowing that I had a second chance.  Tonight, Menchie’s was celebrating National Frozen Yogurt Day with free yogurt. I drove straight home from work to collect the BOY and drove us to Menchie’s.  We devoured our yogurt…then figured out what to do about dinner.

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4. I may or may not have done both cartwheels and headstands at work this week with my coworkers.  This has taught me two things: (1) It is awesome having experts in body mechanics as your coworkers (who can give you form advise for barre and practice yoga headstands with you and then mobilize your hip/spine/etc to give you the necessary range to them better) and (2) My coworkers are really fun (although our patients might think we are nuts).

5. Tomorrow I am participating in the American Heart Association’s Go Red event at Macy’s in Woodfield.  If you live in the area, swing  by and do some yoga with me!

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Do you like fro yo?  What’s your favorite flavor?

I had a chai latte and cake batter swirl while the BOY enjoyed Cinnabon with frosting topping!

Strength followed by Steel Cut Oats

I am committed to strength training and just starting to remember what I used to like about strength training back when I used to be committed to it.  I guess this makes me RE committed to strength training then : )

 

Anyways, I know that I am committed because even though I had to be at work early one morning last week, I still got up, went to the gym, and did my own strength routine.  It was shorter than my usual AM workout, but I made it work and using the jump rope in between sets, made the most of my time.  I still haven’t mastered the strength training selfie, so I don’t have a good photo to accompany this post.  Mostly, I haven’t mastered it because I typically leave my phone in the car or in the locker room because I’m always embarrassed to get caught taking photos of myself.  Unless I’m upside down in an aerial yoga class that is…there I did just fine.

 

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So after my workout, I had a quick turn around time to get myself ready for work and on the road.  And had to fit in breakfast.  I didn’t have any bread for almond butter toast and only had steel cut oats. I also happened to have yogurt from a previous recipe.  Although I don’t typically eat a lot of dairy, I wanted to use the yogurt before it spoiled.  I knew there was a way to do overnight oats with steel cut oats and thought just maybe the yogurt could work too.

 

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I was able to find a recipe for inspiration and came up with my own concoction.  I wasn’t sure how it would turn out and was thrilled with my breakfast when I sat down to eat it before drying my hair.

 

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So excited that I even took a few pictures to share the recipe with ya’ll!

 

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I ate my oats with an apple and was truly satisfied with the thick mousse like texture.

I liked this breakfast so much, that I made it again this morning after spin class!

 

 

What do you eat at the gym?

 

 

Here are a few of my other favorite On-The-Go breakfasts…

Baked Oatmeal

Banana Chia Breakfast Bowl with Flax

Banana Quinoa Baked Breakfast Oats

Crockpot Breakfast Porridge

Eat Clean Oatmeal Pancakes

Hot Banana Breakfast Quinoa

Overnight Oats in a Jar

 

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I know last week was kind of a bust with my messed up meatballs, so I’m excited to have lots of recipes for you guys this week!

Starting with these incredible cookies

 

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Steel Cut Overnight Oats (in Yogurt)

Adapted from The Lemon Bowl

 

Ingredients

20 g steel cut oats

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (optional depending on desired consistency)

10 tsp ground flax

10 tsp chia seeds

1/2 tsp vanilla

 

Directions

Mix all ingredients together in a tupperware or glass jar.

Place in refrigerator over night until set.

In the morning, cover oats with your favorite toppings, like nut butter and fruit, and enjoy!

 

Note: this is not a sweet breakfast.  If you are looking for something sweeter, add in some agave or honey the night before or drizzle with your favorite sweetener before eating.

12 Days of Recipes Begins

Over the next (almost) 2 weeks, I am going to try to give you guys an exciting 12 Days of Recipes.  I say try because I don’t think I have ever done that many recipes in a row on the blog before.…Challenge Accepted!

 

To begin, I thought we’d kick it off with 2 ‘recipes’.  Today was our Somethingth Annual Bears Chili Party.  I was in charge of fruit and decided to make a healthy dessert dip to go with it.

 

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I found this 4th of July treat on Skinny Taste, but I didn’t have any raw sugar.  I discovered that mine was expired during cookie baking yesterday.  Bummer!  This recipe includes low fat cream cheese and Greek yogurt.  Since I didn’t have the sugar, I subbed in some vanilla and agave.

 

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I’m not a huge cheesecake girl, and I wasn’t sure what to think of this dip.  And the group was split as well. Half the people liked the dip as is (which I served with bananas, apples, and Nilla wafers…strawberries aren’t in season), but the other half suggested adding in some more sugar or cinnamon.

 

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I think you should make it and decide for yourself.

But just in case this doesn’t get your mouth watering, I thought I would share my favorite healthy fruit dip!

 

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I started eating this dip years ago and stopped for awhile when I decreased my dairy.  Recently, I met with an RD who recommended increasing my calcium.  I started eating Greek yogurt again and this has been my favorite mid morning snack with apples.

 

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A snack that can also sub in for dessert.  Awesome!

Ok, so day one of 12 Days of Recipes is complete…there are many more delicious things to come!  Mostly cookies after this weekend’s baking bonanza and the rest is to be determined, I guess!

 

 

What is your favorite fruit dip recipe?

What other dips do you make with Greek yogurt?

 

 

Cheesecake Yogurt Dip

From Skinny Taste

 

Ingredients

4 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened

1 cup fat free Greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup raw sugar (or honey or agave)

 

Directions

In a bowl, combine the cream cheese with yogurt, vanilla and sugar. Mix well until sugar dissolves.

Serve with fruit, cookies, or grahams.

 

 

Cinnamon Greek Yogurt Dip

Serves 1

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup Greek Yogurt (I eat 0%)

1-2 tbsp of cinnamon (there should be a lot of cinnamon flavor)

1 tbsp agave (or honey)

 

Directions

Mix all ingredients until well blended and then add more cinnamon or agave to taste.

Eat alone or with apples.

Great Western Half Marathon Recap

I didn’t want to run.

Not ever…just this morning…and maybe just this early in the morning.

As you all know, I am the type of person who really enjoys running, racing, training.  But, I’ve been in continuing ed classes 2 out of the last 3 weekends and out of town the other weekend.  Needless to say I am just exhausted!  Like curl up on the couch and take a nap 2 minutes after you  wake up exhausted.  It was the promise of an afternoon nap and and the realization that my friend was picking me up in 30 minutes that actually propelled me out of bed at 6am this morning.

 

Also not helping was that I overdid the carb load yesterday.  There was some tasty cookies and scones at the course during the day and I definitely didn’t measure out my pasta like I usually do.

 

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This is for sure more than one cup of pasta.  But soaked in olive oil and garlic and topped with grilled chicken and mushrooms, it makes a fantastic pre race meal.  With a few squares of dark chocolate for dessert, of course.

 

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My friend arrived right on time as I was packing up my bag.  I grabbed my overnight oats for breakfast to eat on the way.  Note: we truly have NO FOOD in our house and I stopped by the store last night to buy chicken and 1 banana to get me through race days meals.  We parked at the  high school and then hopped a bus over to the race site.  I ran this half marathon a year ago and was excited to do it again because it is well organized by friendly people along a beautiful forest preserve course.  The weather could not have been better and it really was was the PERFECT morning for a run, making me happy that I did indeed get out of bed this morning.

 

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It’s been no secret that I am hoping to PR my half marathon time this year.  I came close to cracking 1:50 last year, but just couldn’t break through.  With a list of reasons I won’t name (although a few mentioned above), I was comfortable with this morning’s race not being my PR.  That being said, I still had that 1:50 in the back of my mind.  Last year, I hit a HUGE wall at mile 8 which may have been dragging down my confidence a bit, so I hit the start line hoping to beat last year’s time, but not really remembering what that was.

 

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I never know how much detail to share in a race recap.  I’m sure you don’t want to know every thought in my mind for 13.1 miles….some days neither do I.  But because each race is so different, it is fun to share some of the details.  My friend and I hung together for the first 2 miles before I pulled ahead.  With last year’s BONK fresh in my memory, I didn’t want to go out too strong and was just hoping to keep a consistent pace.  The first few miles were a struggle.  I was tired, couldn’t find my rhythm, and struggling to keep my race belt in place.  At one point, my race bib (also the timing chip) came loose.  Around mile 5, I walked through the aid station, drinking some water with my first batch of nutrition (Larabar) and finally got my belt adjusted.  After that, I was able to find my running groove.  I was glancing down at my watch to get my mile splits as I crossed each mile marker, but in between I let my body determine my stride and pace. 

 

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The mind/body connection during running amazes me.  My mind is saying ‘Go! Go! Go!’.  Yet my body is saying ‘Wait…we haven’t trained for these distances and speeds’.  I found this morning that my mind was just waiting for my body to give up and shut down.  Thankfully, I passed the dreaded mile 8 and mile 9 makers with no signs of a BONK.  By mile 10, I knew that a 1:50 PR was within reach and I wanted to finish the race with every mile under 9 minutes.  I allowed myself to slow a bit, walk through the water station, and focus on keeping my stride smooth.  I passed the bright yellow mile 12 sign right at 1:40.  With confidence, I continued along the path towards the finish…except I rounded a corner to find a gradual incline and a headwind that brought me to a halt.  Ok, not a literal halt, but I definitely felt the wind seep out of my sails.

 

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And my PR slip right through my fingers.  I used my mind to push my body through that last mile knowing that I’d be proud no matter what (and vowing to train better for my next half marathon).

 

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When I passed mile 13, I just took off letting adrenaline fuel me to the finish line!  This always makes me laugh because in  my head, I was sprinting full speed ahead, but who knows how fast I was really going.  I stopped my watch as I crossed the finish line and excitedly looked down to see my unofficial time of 1:49:46.  I could barely walk to get my medal, my legs were sore tired and stiff and I have a huge new blister on the bottom of my right foot.  I happily took 2 bottles of water from the volunteers and slowly made my way with frequent rest breaks to the sidelines to cheer on my friend to the finish.

 

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After the race, we took a few minutes to stretch and I definitely thanked her for dragging me out of bed and to the race this morning.  We snacked on some Great Harvest bread and a cookie before heading back to the car.

 

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I was crazy sweaty, so I immediately showered when I got home.  The BOY was studying and heading out to the library just as I climbed into bed for an afternoon nap.  I slept for 3 blissful hours.  I probably should have done some foam rolling before napping, but didn’t think about that until I stiffly got out of bed for some afternoon errands.  I came back from Costco with a car full of goodies.  Shortly after, the BOY returned from the library to pick me up for an early date night a Yogurtland!

 

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It’s been way too long since we’ve been out for fro yo, so it didn’t take much convincing to get the BOY out for a sugary dinner.  I filled my cup up high with some of their new flavors, including a fantastic Chai, and covered it with cookie dough balls and some other tasty high calorie treats.

 

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The BOY has an evening of studying ahead of him, and I am looking forward to a quiet night in!  And maybe a little QT with my foam roller while catching up on some TV on the DVR.  That PR has left me tired and a little sore!

 

Do you like to read/hear other people’s race recaps?

Every details or the abbreviated version?

 

 

The official stats aren’t posted yet, but hopefully I have that tomorrow!

Mile Splits

Mile 2: 8:06

Mile 3: 8:21

Mile 4: 8:15

Mile 5: 8:17

Mile 6: 8:29

Mile 7: 8:08

Mile 8: 8:25

Mile 9: 8:16

Mile 10: 8:26

Mile 11: 8:46

Mile 12: 8:34

Mile 13: 8:25

Coconut Balls

It seems that you guys joined the BOY as big fans of yesterday’s Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers

Thanks for all of the comment love! 

Reading your comments is one AWESOME way to end the day!

 

The day started off with a run around the track.  I must admit that there was nothing speedy about today’s workout.  Sore doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel (thanks Jenna!), and I had the most painful cramps that I’ve felt in decades.  Yuck!  Getting to the track was a victory in itself. This morning’s run looked like this…

5 minute warm up

10 minute jog

10 minute faster jog

10 minute back to jog

2 minute cool down

 

I believe that workouts like this are supposed to be a run/fast run combination (in case you are looking to try it out).  I determined my pace by heart rate/feeling and adjusted for the above mentioned fatigue and cramps.  It must have been a worthwhile workout because I was sweating when I was done and 12 hours later, I am even more sore : )

 

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Although I have been really limiting my dairy, I have been wanting to try this new Chobani flavor.  It’s one small serving and topped with KIND granola makes the perfect post run snack. 

 

Speaking of snacks…I have an awesome new no bake energy bar recipe for you!

 

Confession: My first attempt at this recipe came from a cookbook and was a totally disaster!

 

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I don’t blame the cookbook, I blame the super soft apricots that tasted sweet like candy, but just didn’t stand up to the food processor in energy bars.  So I had to trash version one and start from scratch on my own version.

 

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I was inspired by this dried coconut that we picked up at Costco yesterday.  This brand makes the most amazing dried mango EVER, and so the BOY and I were excited to try this stuff too.

 

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For the nuts, I chose a blend of almonds and walnuts because I had both in the house, and because I love the flavor combination that they create with the dates.

 

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You do have to be patient because it takes a few minutes to break everything down and blend it together.

 

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If you are having trouble getting everything to stick together, you can stream in some liquid.  I chose fresh squeezed orange juice, but agave or honey would work too.  The last step is to simply roll the dough into balls and coat them in more coconut.

 

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Please excuse the poor lighting on these pictures.  It was a dark and stormy day!

 

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But don’t let that deter you from making them!  I know that when it comes to coconut, you either love it or hate it.  Well not me!  I used to hate the stuff, but slowly it is growing on me, and these Coconut Balls are soft, chewy, sweet, and delicious!

 

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Do you like coconut?

What is your favorite coconut recipe?

 

 

Coconut Balls

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups dried, pitted dates

1/2 cup dried coconut chunks

1 cup almonds

1/2 cup walnuts

1-2 tbsp fresh squeeze orange juice

1/2 cup organic unsweetened shredded coconut

 

Directions

Place dates and coconuts in your food processor and blend until combined.

Add nuts and blend for another few minutes until everything begins to get combined.  Drizzle in 1-2 tbsp of fresh orange juice (or agave and honey) as needed to help everything blend together.

For the dough into balls and roll in shredded coconut.

Store in the fridge to snack on throughout the week!

Mini M&M and Chocolate Chip Cookies {And More}

I know what you’re thinking…

Jen, you just said that your February goal is to cut down on added sugars and now you’re about to dedicate an entire post to sweets and treats.  What’s up with that???

 

Great question!  That warrants some explanation for sure.

 

Explanation Number One…

Free Yogurt!!!

 

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I just couldn’t pass up free Yogurtland FroYo and toppings this afternoon.  The BOY and I were there shortly after 4:00pm with all of the high school students which totally made me laugh.

 

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Luckily, we both went to the gym this morning because I filled my cup to the brim with chocolate, red velvet, and frappe FroYo. 

 

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I barely had any room to add toppings, but went for it anyways because I just couldn’t walk past the cookie dough bites without adding them to the mix.  They ended up spilling over the edge, but a few actually stuck to the top.

 

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Along with our free yogurt, we got a coupon for our next visit, so I am sure the BOY and I will be heading back again soon. Let’s be honest, we’ve been three times since they opened this year.  Since I knew we were having yogurt for dinner (its been on our calendar for weeks), we are having a light Monday night dinner of Taco Soup.

 

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Which leads me to

Explanation Number Two…

Leftovers!!!

 

I’ve had this bag of mini M&M’s hanging around the house since the holidays (along with a lot of other leftover goodies).  Recently the BOY has had his eyes on them, so I knew that I needed a reason to bake.

 

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Which is why I volunteered to make dessert for an upcoming Valentine’s celebration at work.  Since we will be out of town next weekend, I wanted to start baking today.  Just to be clear, the plan is to bake these cookies, share a few, and then store the rest in the freezer until next week.

 

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I knew that these M&M’s would be perfect for cookies, and so I went to my blogger friend Sally’s website and used her Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe as the base of these cookies.

 

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Sally’s White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies were such a huge hit in this house that the BOY is still talking about them, and they use a similar recipe.  Since I also had a few mini chocolate chips leftover, I added those to the dough along with my M&M’s.

 

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It is important to chill the dough before baking, during which time I feel it is also important to sample a taste of this incredible dough!

 

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These cookies bake up beautifully!  And I love the mini chocolate chips combined with the colorful M&M’s!  But there is nothing MINI about the taste of these cookies.

 

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Sally REALLY knows her cookies, and these soft and chewy ones do NOT disappoint!

 

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I can’t wait to serve these at our party!

 

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I just hope that the BOY doesn’t find them hiding in the freezer because then there won’t be any left : ) 

 

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I have a few more leftover chips and candies that I’d love to clean out of the pantry, so consider yourself warned that there will be more sweets to come.  But because I am continuing to focus on a clean diet this month with sweets in moderation, the plan is for these cookies to be shared not inhaled, and so far that is exactly what has happened.  But let’s be real, they really are WAY TOO GOOD not get some face time on the blog.

 

 

 

Mini M&M and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

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Ingredients

3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup mini M&M’s

 

Directions

Line an ungreased cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat. Set aside.

In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Mix in egg and vanilla.  Scrape down the sides as needed.  On low speed, mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.  Stir in chocolate chips and M&M’s. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Drop 1 Tbsp balls of dough onto cookie sheet OR used a standard-sized cookie scoop. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  Do NOT cook them longer than 10 minutes.   Remove and let cool for 3 minutes on the cookie sheet.  Transfer to cooling rack.

Store in airtight container or freeze.

 

 

Did anyone else go to Yogurtland today?

The Day We Robbed Yogurtland

Funny Story…

 

Remember my excitement over Yogurtland?!  The BOY and I ran some errands Saturday afternoon.  As we pulled into the FedEx parking lot, the he mentioned that Yogurtland was opening today.  Even though we hadn’t eaten lunch, we decided that yogurt was totally necessary.

 

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The place was really crowded and the BOY and I walked right in to the back to check out the flavors.  Along with the tart Greek yogurt, there were a few fruit flavors.  The BOY and I went straight for the good stuff, filling a large cup with s’mores, pistachio, vanilla, and red velvet cupcake.  The perfect pre lunch treat.  We tossed on some cookie dough bites because who can walk past cookie dough bites without grabbing a few.

 

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Feeling like frozen yogurt experts, the BOY and I walked up to the register, placed our cup on the scale, and got the strangest look from the girl working behind the register.  The BOY and I were super confused when she looked up at us and said ‘It’s Free!’.  Free yogurt…could life get any better?  We assumed it was an opening day special and the apparent owner next to us confirmed that for the first hour the yogurt was free.

 

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Thinking that we should most likely head back for some more, I mean why share one cup of yogurt when it’s free, the owner kindly stated that this was a private event.  All of a sudden, the BOY and I looked around and saw that the people talking seemed to know each other.  And we totally crashed their party.  The BOY and I offered to pay for our yogurt but they said it wasn’t a problem.  We stepped out of the store and completely fell apart with laughter!  Talk about being totally oblivious.  I think we just robbed the Yogurtland!

 

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We reassured the owner that we’d be back often and would definitely pay for our yogurt in the future.  And after sampling our selection, I am sure we will go back.  The yogurt was excellent!  I’m not sure if it’s because I haven’t had much dairy in the past few months, or because frozen yogurt is my favorite food ever, but we loved it and licked every last drop off our spoons in the car.  The whole scene was hilarious!  I can’t stop smiling when I think about it!  It reminds me of our shenanigans in Florida last spring.