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Friday Favorites

friday favorites

Time for this week’s Friday Favorites!

It’s been a very long week, and I’m glad to spend the weekend catching up on my meditation practice, spend time with family, and celebrate the return of Chelsea Handler’s show on Netflix. I also plan to eat as many chocolate eggs as I can stuff in me! Here are a few of my favorite things from this past week:

I hope everyone has a fun and sunny Easter weekend!

July on Instagram

July on Instagram

Holy shit, July flew by quickly this year!

I started out the month doing what I spent most of June doing – hanging out by myself. The husband was insanely busy at work, either working late or going in super early. For the second year in a row, I wound up alone watching fireworks on the 4th. One more year, and I’ll consider it a tradition!

One reason I didn’t blog much last month is that some family came in to visit. It was…mostly stressful, to be honest. I spent much of the week feeling like a chauffeur/house mom – and don’t get me started on how long it took me to clean the place after they left. Boys are gross. Grown men aren’t much better. Sure, there were some fun moments – but I don’t remember them yet. Ask me again in a few months, and I might be over the trauma to come up with something. 

After going through my Instagram photos from last month, I also realized I spent much of the month cooking. I’ve gotten into the whole “meal prep” thing. Unfortunately, I am starting to find it’s more work than I wanted to deal with. Meal prepping for a family of 5 is probably worth it – meal prepping for 2 people isn’t. The weather was so hot that we ended up eating salads most nights anyway.

Speaking of hot weather, I did manage to make it to the beach once this summer! I’ve been trying to find unique and chill places to read my blogger buddy Kayley’s “The Year of the Work” letters, and I attempted to do that at the beach in July. Instead, I ran into an old college friend and spent the afternoon catching up with him. It was just what I needed to wrap up a long month of solitude! Hopefully we can keep in touch, since he’s the only person I know out here who isn’t family!

I haven’t really made a plan for posting in August, so this month will be more “flying by the seat of my pants.” I miss blogging a bit, but man it’s hard to get back into the habit!

Enjoy the last remaining weeks of summer, and start working on your Pumpkin Spice Latte recipes!

Friday Favorites

friday favorites april 8

(Finally back to work after a month of moving, unpacking, and lots of allergy meds!)

Friday Favorites

I’m not sure what my plans are for this weekend. Last weekend was a busy one, since my husband basically kicked me out of the house all day Saturday (and for a good chunk for Sunday) so he could work on some writing alone. Hopefully he won’t do that again, but if he does, I guess it’ll be a good excuse to take my laptop somewhere awesome – like the Starbucks Reserve Roastery downtown. Come to think of it, I might have just come up with some plans!

What are you doing this weekend?

Weekly Meal Prepping?

weekly meal prepping

Leftover Bits Pasta Salad / Pumpkin Bread Muffins

Weekly meal prepping has become insanely popular lately, thanks to Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media sites. You can go online and find weekly meal plans for just about any life goal you have: lose weight, stick to a budget, save time, reduce waste, change diets, or save sanity.

The most exciting aspect to weekly meal prepping is that by spending a few hours, once a week, cooking and preparing your meals, you can save yourself time throughout the week. It’s also supposed to reduce the temptation make “bad” choices (takeout, restaurants, or frozen foods) when you’re not in the mood before or after work to prepare meals. For those on a budget, weekly meal planning can reduce wasteful grocery expenses or food waste.

I’m a huge fan of weekly meal prepping, and have been doing some form of it for years. I got into it a few years ago when I was teaching 12-hour days and didn’t have time to prepare lunches every morning. I also didn’t have a lot of time to eat, so having everything for lunch and snacks on hand made my life so much easier when I was hungry between classes, meetings, or driving between schools.

While I’ve gotten out of the habit of packing a daily lunch, I do think it’s time to get back to weekly meal planning. I find that when I have breakfasts and lunches pre-planned, I’m less tempted to eat crap we have at home, or buy something terrible while I’m out running errands. It also forces me to get creative with things I have in my pantry, which helps our budget and reduces the food we waste or just leave sitting in our pantry for months. I’ve also been trying to eat healthier lately, and this helps me better keep track of how much I’m eating as well.

I can’t wait to share with you what I come up with over the next month or so! I’ve been watching YouTube videos and stalking Pinterest to find new recipes to try, and different methods to keep things interesting!

2015 Year in Review: Food

2015 Year in Review: Food

Homemade Granola Bars / What I Eat: Summer Edition / My Relationship With Food: A Love/Hate Story / A (Dangerous) New Toy

In 2015, I cooked at home more than I ever have in the past. Not working left me with a lot of time to read cookbooks, research new recipes, and try out a lot of new foods. I also enjoyed sharing with you what I eat on a regular basis, and some of my favorite new recipes.

While I did cook a ton over the past year, I was usually too hungry or rushed to photograph or write about it! I hope in the next year I can take more time to share my favorite recipes, and do more cookbook reviews.

I’ve been in a cooking rut for the past month or two, and with the holidays, I’ve been giving more attention to baking cookies than making dinner. Hopefully now that the holidays are over, things will get back to normal!

2015 Year in Review: Food

Cookbook Review: Everyday Food: Great Food Fast /  Cookbook Review: I Quit Sugar / Meal Planning 101 / Cookbook Review: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime

Oh, and did I mention I read a lot of cookbooks? Our local library system is a great resource for finding cookbooks to check out, which helped me expand my horizons a lot this year!

I also found a few cookbooks I want to add to my stash in the next year. Danny surprised me with Ree Drummond’s new book, and I also have a few from Martha Stewart and America’s Test Kitchen I want to grab whenever they go on sale!

Overall, it was a great year for cooking and baking in our house, and I look forward to much more in the next year. This might be the year I finally tackle sourdough!

Decoration Inspiration: Thanksgiving

Decoration Inspiration: Thanksgiving

(All images taken from my Pinterest page)

Always a guest, never a hostess.

One thing I’ve dreamed of doing since I was a kid was hosting my own Thanksgiving dinner. I technically did one year, when my mom woke up sick and we all had to pitch in to help her out (I think I was maybe 7 or 8). That’s right – I’ve known how to prep a turkey since I was 7. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the space, budget, or permission to host one.

So until that day comes where I have a dining room and proper kitchen of my own, I spend my time fantasizing about it on Pinterest – and perfecting my apple pie recipe (my go to thing to bring).

If you grew up in the Midwest like I did, you know how corny people get about decorating their homes for Thanksgiving. The amount of orange, yellow, and brown decorations, napkins, and whatnot is sickeningly cheesy. I’ve always been one to rail against the “traditional” stuff, which is probably why I gravitate toward the images above. The decorations are colorful, but muted, and include natural elements that reflect the food being eaten. There will also be no faux turkeys of any kind – only a real one to eat, of course.

When I do get my chance, you know it’s going to be a classy affair, with cloth napkins, candles, and the most amazing apple pie I’ve spent years perfecting.

A Dangerous New Toy

A Dangerous New Toy

Recently, my husband decided to splurge on a new KitchenAid mixer for our kitchen. I’ve wanted one for years, but never pulled the trigger because it’s a lot of money, and I assumed that I could survive just fine without one. I’ve been baking just fine for years – why bother with a high-end mixer when my own two hands do just as well?

Boy, was I stupid.

I’ve always heard one of these mixers can change your life, and I have to agree that it does – in both good and bad ways.

I knew it would make certain things easier, but I wasn’t expecting was how much easier everything is with it. For years, I hated baking bread because of all the leg (or, better, arm) work that went into it. Now, all I do is put in a dough hook, set to low, and walk away. I can’t say I’ll ever go back to store-bought sandwich bread ever again, especially with such easy, healthy recipes out there! Cleanup is easier, and I find that I use fewer bowls because most recipes just call for me to dump it all in the mixer anyway. It has made breads, pizza dough, cookies, brownies, and many other things less time consuming and more fun.

However, there is a problem with making things easier: things are almost too easy now. I’ve baked more bread in the past few weeks than I have in 10 years…and I’ve been eating the shit out of it too. I also have a serious problem with desserts, and making it easier for me to whip up a batch of brownies is..well…not always a good thing. My pants are a little more snug than they were a month ago, and I know this new mixer is contributing to it. It’s also not helping that my husband keeps asking me to try new recipes with it (that’s where the cinnamon rolls come in), and I know he’s expecting me to use it all the time since…you know…he paid a lot for it.

So for now, I’ll continue to make bread on a weekly basis because I like controlling the nutritional content (mostly sugar) in my food, but maybe cool it with the desserts. I know the holidays are coming up, but man at this pace I’m gonna be a fatty-fat-fat by then!

A Dangerous New Toy

Since I’m going to try to find healthier things to use this mixer for, what are some of your suggestions? Are there any recipes I can try out with my new mixer that won’t include baking sweets or breads? I know I can shred chicken in it (something I’m excited to try), but aside from that and basic whipping (mashed potatoes, soups, etc.) I don’t really know what else people use them for!

Also…don’t tell me they have an ice cream maker attachment. I know they have one, and I’m not buying it. If there’s one thing more dangerous than brownies on demand, it’s homemade ice cream. That is just straight up bad for me!

Friday Favorites: Halloween Prep

Friday Favorites: Halloween Prep

I think I found my Halloween costume for this year! Now all I need to do is find a ridiculously big wine glass!

Happy Friday!

It’s been another long week, and I’m looking forward to spending the weekend learning how to bake cinnamon rolls, getting out in the sunshine (if there is any), and catching up on some reading. I have four books from the library sitting on my bookshelf, and I’ve only gotten through one of them so far!

Now that I’m not sick anymore, and can focus for more than a couple minutes, here are some things I’ve been enjoying on the web lately! This list is going to be a lot longer than normal because I have like, two weeks of catching up to do!

  • One of the prettiest pumpkin decor projects I’ve seen this year – and since it’s done on a faux pumpkin, you can use it for years to come! (Hunted Interior)
  • A home tour that makes me question whether I chose the right coast to live on… (Remodelista)
  • The fall version of a gimlet, which I might try out this weekend! I was hooked on gimlets this summer, but we’ve moved out of lemonade season – and this seems like the best substitute! (Because I’m Addicted)
  • “I didn’t have any eggs, so I replaced them with a banana-chia-flaxseed pulse. It turned out terrible; this recipe is terrible.” If you’ve never read the comment section of recipe websites, you should – they’ll make you laugh for hours! People are so stupid sometimes, and I love it. Here is a rundown of every ridiculous comment you’ll see! (The Toast via Cup of Jo)
  • So Ryan Adams did a cover album of Taylor Swift’s 1989 album…and I have to say it weirdly works. I highly recommend checking it out if you need something chill to listen to – and I swear, you won’t even know they’re Taylor Swift covers! (Goop…or go find it on Spotify!)
  • I had no idea that a gold-plated toothbrush existed until yesterday, and now I want one! This post also has a few other gold beauty tools as well, but the toothbrush was just too good to pass up! (Mane Addicts)
  • I have a bunch of leftover butternut squash in the freezer, so I might try out The Pioneer Woman’s version of Butternut Mac and Cheese next week. It sounds yummy! (The Pioneer Woman)

Back to Normal

Back to Normal

Yesterday, I forced myself outside for an afternoon hike in my neighborhood park. It was well needed, and a great way to get life back to some sense of normal. After almost two weeks with a terrible cold, I finally feel better (for the most part) and ready to get back to work.

While it might look like I took this hike early in the morning, I actually left the house around 2:00pm! It has been cool, cloudy, and very foggy in the area lately – even well into the afternoons. The sun didn’t come out until after I got home (of course), so I hiked a bit faster to keep warm.

Once I got home, I cranked up the oven and popped in a Beer Can Chicken and some baked potatoes for dinner. While I was sick, I didn’t have the desire or the energy to cook much, so we ate a lot of last minute, lazy dinners. I know that baked chicken and potatoes seems lazy already, but I couldn’t even handle that last week!

Back to Normal

The other reason I have a renewed energy in the kitchen is thanks to my new toy! I’ve already made sugar cookies with it, but they turned out so bad that I’m not sure we’ll even finish them! I am looking forward to trying some new recipes, and figuring out all the ways a mixer will make my life easier. I’ve already found out, thanks to a great friend, that I can shred chicken with it – and I hate shredding chicken by hand!

Well, I’m off for the day. I hope you’re all doing well!

September on Instagram

September on Instagram

Left to right: Packing away summer clothes / Coloring with my nephew /  Lounging on the porch after a long day of cleaning / Spending way too much time in the cookbook section of the library

September was a busy month! I’m sure that it’s true for many of you, since the month signifies the end of summer and transition into fall. As the weather cooled slightly (it’s still 75 here today), I went from spending my free time at the beach to being more productive at home.

Blogging only 3 days each week really helped free up more time for me to job hunt, clean, organize, and cook. Unfortunately, you may have also noticed I really only posted maybe twice each week? That’s because not being on a daily schedule for posting made it way too hard to get lazy about it. I started this blog with an insane level of inspiration and passion…but a few months later, I’m settling into a routine that’s more realistic to follow and better for my sanity.

September on Instagram Clockwise from top-left: Chicken and Nectarine Salad / Macaroni ‘n’ Cheese on a sick day / Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Mustard / Banana Bread Muffins…because I don’t own a loaf pan anymore!

I cooked a LOT of new recipes this past month (and a few old standbys). Many of the recipes came from Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen’s cookbook, It’s All Good . I also read several Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, and tried a few of her recipes as well. Since I was cooking dinner for just me a couple night each week, it was cool to try out a few new things I didn’t need my husband to like (though he did end up liking most of it). I have a ton of soup recipes to try out next month when it’s a bit cooler outside!

September on Instagram

Clockwise from top-left: A great fashion-related read by Stacy London / Vogue’s September issue…which took me almost a week to get through /  Burned through Mindy Kaling’s new book in an evening, and it was amazing / Just started The Happiness Project, and so far it’s making me want to write more “to do” lists…not sure if that’s good or bad yet!

One thing I wanted to do more of in September was read – and I definitely did! Now that football season is well under way, I need to find something else to do with most of my evenings. I never liked watching football, but in recent years I’ve had a much harder time even tolerating it. I don’t know what blitzing is after 10 years of being forced to watch it, and I don’t care to learn!

Reading is also one of those activities I just do more often when it’s colder outside – sitting under a blanket with a good book, a cup of tea, and if I’m lucky a lit candle is the best way to spend the fall and winter, in my opinion!

September on Instagram

Clockwise from top-left: Seward Park in Seattle, WA / Sky Country Trailhead in Bellevue, WA / Another trip to Sky Country Trailhead / Lewis Creek Park in Bellevue, WA

Finally, this post wouldn’t be complete with some hiking photos! Instead of heading to the beach in the afternoons, I’ve been checking out new parks in the area. Seward Park has to be my favorite new park from this past month, and I can’t wait to get back there and spend more time by the water. Hiking this past month has helped me cope with stress, help with seasonal allergies, sleep better, and appreciate the little things more. I’m excited to explore more parks this month, and can’t wait to share them with all of you.

Well, I think that does it for September! I hope you all had a nice, productive month, and I look forward to hearing what you’ll be up to in October!