Scenes from the Weekend

Gooood morning! I hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend- we certainly did! It was jam packed, but full of family and great food and Dunkin coffee and weddings- all very fun things.

We are currently in the car heading home, and I am thrilled because we finally brought out our Christmas music! Now that Thanksgiving is over and its officially December, I feel like I can fully embrace the Christmas season. First up, a little Michael. Screenshot_2013-12-01-09-29-18-1

We are hoping to get our tree and our outdoor lights up today, too. Yay!

So since I’m in the car and typing on my phone is less than favorable, I thought I’d try my hand at a “Scenes from a Saturday/Sunday” post for this weekend. Hope you enjoy!

 

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IMG_20131130_134106_065My first ever Bloody Mary. Very Spicy. Very delicious.

IMG_20131130_232241_912 Plaza Lights!

That will about do it for this post I think. We did so many things this weekend, and truthfully I forgot to bring my camera out for most of it. 😦 Sorry guys. Still getting used to this whole blogging thing! But hey, its only been a week. 😉

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Things I’m Loving Friday (Thanksgiving edition )

Well good morning! How did everyone’s Thanksgiving go? I hope it was wonderful! Mine was pretty fantastic myself. I’ll have to give you the run down of all the yummy eats later this weekend- there’s so much stuff going on today and tomorrow that I might not have time until late tonight or even Sunday to put that together!

For today, I wanted to try out a new type of post that I first saw reading over at Julie’s blog. Its a bit of tangent filled post, but for Thanksgiving I thought it was perfect. So here it is, my first ever rendition of “Things I’m Loving Friday”, Thanksgiving edition!

Things I’m Thankful For

  • My fiancé, Shane. IMG_20130101_172615Seriously, how handsome is he? He’s also hilarious, talented, generous, loving- and hands down the kindest man I have ever known.  I am a very lucky lady. Plus, he knows a great photo opp when he sees it.  He’s my best friend, and a huge blessing.
  • My family. I have an incredible, amazing family. Wonderful parents, an awesome big brother, amazing aunts and uncles and cousins that I am so close with, and grandparents whose love story is the best I’ve ever heard.
  • My friends. I have some incredible, stellar friends. Some are old, some are new- all are perfect. (Eh hem…especially the ones who read my blog and text me about recipes I’ve posted 😉 I’m loving that!)
  • My job. Oh man, am I ever thankful for my job. I firmly believe I have one of the best, most enjoyable, “is this really my job” kind of jobs out there. It is such a blessing to me, and I get to go to then office every day and work with people I love, and I am learning so much.
  • Today especially, I am thankful for having help with wedding plans. Weddings are a bear to plan my friends. A bear. But if you have awesome help (thanks mom, especially) it doesn’t have to be so bad. Besides, every last bit of work is so, so worth it!

Things I’m Loving

  • Our Save the Date cards! Screenshot_2013-11-28-07-52-43-1Photo credit goes to Tim Davis. He is wonderful. (And for more info on who made the cards, visit the Wedding page!)
  • The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap – this is something I have dreamed about ever since I first started reading Courtney’s blog back in summer of 2012. I was really looking forward to being able to join in this holiday season, but when I checked the website I found that a- I missed the registration deadline, and b- I don’t qualify anyway. Bummer! BUT I did officially register for next year, so I am loving that! blogger cookie swap sign up
  • My sleep sounds app, Relax Melodies. I LOVE this thing. I uae it every night. You can choose from tons of sounds, customize favorites and set it on a timer so it fadea out slowly after the times up. 2 thumbs way up. sleep appAWESOME.
  • My wedding dress! I have a fitting tomorrow morning and I just can’t quit looking at my dress. There’s been some work done on it already, and it just keeps getting closer and closer to looking like that dream dress! It’s really pretty magical.
  • DUNKIN DONUTS. YES. I am always loving some DD, but we don’t have one back home so whenever I come to KC I HAVE to get some! IMG_20131129_144533_298 This precious gem is a large caramel coffee with some cream. So delicious. IMG_20131129_144544_361 Yes Dunkin, you DO bring joy!
  • I am loving, loving the tv show The Walking Dead. It’s totally my jam. If you don’t already watch it, start. Now. But first you’ll need to watch the first 3 seasons before Sunday at 8. 😉
  • I am also loving this mercury glass candle votive with a “K” monogram that I got from Pottery Barn. IMG_20131129_160233_432It’s my very first item with my future last name’s inital- how exciting is that!

And I wouldn’t have any of these things without God seeing fit to bless me with them, so above all else I am loving and am thankful for Him and His grace.

Alright that’s it for me! Happy Black Friday/ Thanksgiving weekend continued- have a great rest of your Friday, do some great shopping, and eat some awesome leftovers! 😉

A Sneaky Dessert Recipe

Happy, happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone’s day is off to a fantastic start! We’re currently on our way up to Kansas City to spend the holiday with our family, but I still have a couple things to share with you, pre-Thanksgiving meal.

Workout

Yesterday, I got out of work a little early and headed straight to the gym. I did a short back and biceps workout and followed it up with 25 minutes of walking at 4.0mph at an 8 incline and then my favorite stair master workout-shortened to 30 minutes + a 2 minute cool down. It was definitely solid. 🙂

This morning, I set my alarm for 5:45 and hit my own mini gym (ie- my set of dumbbells and my bosu ball) for a back/biceps/booty and abs circuit that ran me about 45 minutes.

Ya know, I’ve never been a big fan of deadlifts- but after my deadlift/weighted step up superset today I’m whistling a different tune. My legs were a-shakin when I headed back upstairs to shower!

Recipe Update

If any of you caught my post the other night about that awesome dinner recipe from Iowa Girl Eats , then you probably also caught that black bean brownie recipe I had been eyeing from this yummy blog.

Well, I finally got everything together I needed to make them last night! Doesn’t it look like I’m making regular old brownies?

IMG_20131127_183609_163…well, sort of. Have any of you guys ever had to make a flax egg before? No? Neither had I. (Just 1 T flax meal and 3 T water).

The secret ingredient! IMG_20131127_183623_394

I ran out of cocoa powder half way through the recipe. It called for 3/4 cup- I was left with only 2/4 cup. What to do, what to do…

IMG_20131127_184359_417Chop up some baking chocolate, of course! I used semi-sweet.

And then I added the SECOND secret ingredient…IMG_20131127_183647_859 PB- everything’s better with it. (I added about 1 teaspoon)

The recipe calls for raw sugar and coconut oil- I subbed regular cane sugar and regular old vegetable oil. Yes, I want a healthy brownie recipe that I can share…but let’s not get crazy. I already made the flax egg. I’ll only go so far.

I put all the ingredients into my blender and blended the batter up until it was smooth, thick but not too thick, and all beans were pulverized. Then I poured the batter into  lightly greased muffin tin.

IMG_20131127_192337_891 And into a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes they went. (After I took them out, they were still REALLY mushy in the center- I put them back in for another 7 minutes and that did the trick!)

Ta-da! IMG_20131127_193757_353IMG_20131127_193810_856

Honestly, these are pretty delicious. Super gooey on the inside, crunchy tops and sides – very fudgy and rich. Yum. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that these don’t taste like “real” brownies. And why would they? There’s no flour, no egg, little oil and little sugar.

They are a great, delicious and healthy alternative to the real deal though, much lighter in calories and perfectly bite sized. Oh- and they pack a walloping 5g of protein.

Not bad for dessert. 😉

IMG_20131128_073343_694 I can’t wait to share these fellas today!

Have a very Healthy Holiday

 

The holidays are busy. Sometimes, our health an take a back seat. I wanted to throw together a post on some of my current strategies on how to keep my health a priority this holiday season while still enjoying myself! With Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow, I figured now was as good a time as any to share this with you guys:

Here they are- my top 6 tips for a healthy holiday!

healthy holiday tips

Be Picky-Full disclosure- I am not a picky eater. I never have been. Even when I was a baby, any food that was put in front of me would be consumed easily. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that there are some advantages to being a somewhat picky eater. Now, of course this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat your peas. (Although depending on what was used to make it, you might want to steer clear of the green bean casserole…) What it does mean, is that there are some holiday foods that are worth indulging in a little, and some that aren’t.

My rule of thumb- if I can have it any other day of the year, then I probably won’t reach for it as a holiday “treat”.

I never get to have a slow roasted turkey, and I don’t really ever have dark meat. I also never get real, homemade cranberry sauce. And while I do splurge from time to time with the sweet potato fries I love so much….I never, ever get to have them whipped up with butter and cinnamon and sugar and covered with caramelized pecans. I’ll pass on the bread, the green bean casserole and likely the stuffing and the cheese and cracker appetizers because to me, the other stuff is way more exciting.

You might be a stuffing and mashed taters kind- then that’s where you should indulge a little! Just be picky everywhere else.

Guzzle Water- This is really very simple- drink water. Lots of it.

I try and drink at least 60oz a day, but sometimes I’ll drink as much as a gallon. Yes, extra trips to the bathroom are a no brainer- but it’s worth it.

You’ve probably heard that you should drink 1 glass of water for every cup of coffee and every alcoholic beverage- that’s definitely a great starting point!

Stay Active- This also might seem self explanatory, but hold on one sec. When I say “stay active” during the holidays, I don’t just mean “make sure you still fit your workouts in”.

I know people get busy, myself included, and sometimes an hour long workout or even a 30 minute workout can feel like too much.

Staying active isn’t just about going to the gym- it’s as simple as pacing when you’re on the phone, playing tag with your nieces and nephews, playing football in the backyard, cleaning the house for holiday guests, walking the dog- heck, even Christmas shopping is staying active with all that running around from store to store!

If you’re really feeling ambitious, try doing a single circuit move for every commercial break during a TV show. Every time the commercial changes, switch moves. It gets tough! It can also get embarrassing, so warning your TV buddy might be essential.

Plan to Indulge- This particular tip is one of my favorites, because it can mean a number of different things. Planning to indulge can be anything from planning meals ahead of time, to making sure you get in some exercise, to eating a light but filling meal (like eggs and avocado, oats with a little protein powder or greek yogurt with fruit) the morning before a big meal is going to be served, or even as a snack an hour or so before attending a Christmas party. By filling up early, you’ll fend off hunger longer and prevent sweets laden or carb heavy binges.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving: for example, you might want to get up a smidge early and get a quick workout in- as little as 20 minutes of activity first thing in the morning is enough to boost your metabolism AND help you make healthier choices later on. After that, have some yogurt and fresh fruit or a banana with some PB.  When the big meal is served, you won’t be ravenous, and you’ll have already done something active!

Lighten Up- Don’t blow all your hard work off because you overindulge once. Okay, so you had 2 (err 2 ½) helpings of your Aunt’s amazing sweet potato casserole (I’m lookin’ at you, Aunt Pam) and now your sweet tooth is on the loose. You figure “Oh well, I’ve already eaten more than I should have…why not go all out and eat that entire pie?”

*Insert Buzzer Sound Here*

Believe you me, I am the queen of this type of go big or go home thinking when it comes to blowing a healthy eating streak, especially on holidays. One thing I have found after years and years of yo-yoing between strict as you can get, I’ll-just-have-a-carrot-thanks dieting, and binging on pizza rolls and cookie dough- it is never, ever worth the “food hangover” later. What’s worse? I never fail to feel miserable, let down and just all together BLEH afterwards. Don’t let one minor indulgence turn into an all day/all night feeding frenzy- lighten up, and realize that an “all or nothing” attitude is just not going to cut it all the time.

Enjoy the Moment – The holidays are about food, yes, but they are also about family.

I’d say they are mostly about family.

I know in the past, I’ve viewed big family get-togethers as an excuse to stand by the snacks and just pick and pick until I’m full- and then the big holiday meal is served. With so much great food, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and just want to try everything asap. (My cousin has an amazing palette for wine and cheese, and she always has the best pairings…it’s dangerous.)

But we can’t forget to enjoy all of the great company as well. I know we’ve heard it all- make a plate and leave the kitchen, don’t stand by the buffet, refuse all food offered (a little extreme if you ask me), ect. For some reason, those haven’t seemed to work real well for me.

This year, my game plan is to have a couple nibbles of whatever looks best (top 2 things on the table, most likely) then make myself a cup seasonal tea (hellooo, sugar cookie sleigh ride!) and sit down.

Sipping on hot liquids always distracts me from false hunger, and will allow me instead to focus on the people around instead of the food- all while getting in some much needed H2O.

20 minute Circuit Workout

It’s already Wednesday- can you believe it? Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I am ready for a little R&R with my family. We’ll be traveling to Kansas City this year, and staying the weekend. We have a lot going on while we’re there:

  • Thanksgiving with the Olney clan
  • Hitting the plaza for the holiday lighting ceremony
  • Lunch with my mom’s sister and brother
  • Hitting the plaza again for some shopping
  • Starting one of our wedding registries (!!!)
  • One of my wedding dress fittings (whaaaaat!)
  • Spending a little time with one of my bridesmaids
  • The wedding of a great family friend of ours

Whew! With all that going on, how will I ever find time to fit a workout in?!

😉

Okay, so I know we’re all going to be super busy over this weekend, so I went ahead and threw together a super quick 20 minute circuit workout. I went through it this morning, and loved it. I threw 2 minute long rest periods in there, but you might not need them.

20 min circuit

Enjoy!

Burpees, Butternut Squash and Black Bean Brownies

Howdy, howdy! I hope everyone’s Tuesday afternoon went smoothly. 🙂 I have some fun recipe ideas to share with you all tonight, but first let’s back it up a little bit:

Workout

So today after dinner (which was awesome, but I’ll get to that in a minute!) I made my way out in the oh-so-cold autumn air to the gym for a chest, triceps and glute workout that had me sweating!

Half way through the workout, my trainer had incorporated a mini circuit superset of pushups, burpees and dips and MAN was it a tough one!

(p.s.- I hate doing burpees at the gym. I feel like there’s just no cute way to do them. You sweat, your hair falls out of its pony tail and if you’re really just feelin’ it, you might even grunt a little. Urgh.)

Anyhooo- I followed my strength circuit up with the treadmill interval run I posted earlier today. Check it out if you get a chance, its a doozy!

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Dinner

Alright, so breakfast and lunch were very, very exciting today. Eggs, kale, and chicken…oh my!

Right.

Dinner, however, was a different story. Dinner was fantastic. It was Quinoa…IMG_20131126_170740_112

With Caramelized Butternut Squash…IMG_20131126_170654_996

and Roasted Brussell Sprouts. IMG_20131126_170707_885

Uh…HOLY YUM.

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My mom found this recipe off a blog she loves called Iowa Girl Eats – she has literally TONS of unique, delicious and good-for-you recipes. Check her out! You won’t be sorry 🙂

Speaking of awesome blogger recipes, I found a couple that I’m planning on trying myself for this year’s Thanksgiving!

One for absolutely ridiculous looking black bean brownies on this awesome blog – helloooo there…

And one for a special cookie dough dip that I’ve actually made a couple times before, and it is dope.

Yes. Dope.

Alrighty then- it’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for this girl to go watch some DVR’d Biggest Loser. Do you have any special Tuesday night shows?

Have a great night!

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