Friday, April 30, 2010

Refreshing Weekend!

Happy Friday dear readers! Don't hate me for saying I feel really refreshed today. In fact, for the first time in several weeks, I felt totally relaxed and "together" all week! The credit must be given to a little plan of action Chris and I took to be more organized.

Lately it seems like I barely scrape by to get through the week and save all the cleaning, organizing and house chores for the weekend. But who wants to spend their weekends doing that? I certainly don't! So we came up with a manageable way to tackle a little bit each day and it has worked brilliantly!

This weekend, instead of stressing about getting it all finished, I can actually relax with my husband, finish painting and recovering my green chairs via this inspiration , enjoy a lovely date night at The Melting Pot and take a trip to Crate and Barrel to purchase some of the Normandy bakers from yesterday's post! And given my deep desire to bake lately, it might also be neccessary to use the overripe bananas sitting on my counter to whip up some of our favorite banana bread!

Wishing you a wonderful and relaxing weekend!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Currently Loving

Just wanted to share a few fun things I've had my eye on lately! You know, some kitchen additions I would love to have, but certainly don't need anytime soon. Sometimes I think those are the best!

To put it mildly, I love Giada! I have two of her cookbooks and often browse them when I want to make something absolutely stunning and decadent! This is her brand new book, Giada at Home, and besides being filled with delicious looking recipes, it is also full of the sweetest pictures of her family, including her precious baby girl. In my opinion, a girl just can't have too many good cookbooks!

Chris and I have an amazing waffle iron that makes the sweetest heart shaped waffles, but I think it would be nice to change it up with the occassional belgian waffles. I love this waffle iron by Krups!

I adore the simplicity of these Normandy bakers from Crate and Barrel! I've been very pleased with the rectangle baker (it's perfect for making cinnamon rolls!) and I would love to add that deep casserole dish to my collection. I imagine using it for a yummy baked pasta!

How about you? Any fun kitchen items you've got your eye on?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dinner Last Night: Chipotle Bean Burritos

As you might know, I am a big fan of quick and healthy meals and these bean burritos are just the ticket! They are all together delicious with an interesting combination of black and kidney beans and a smokey hint of chipotle. And because they are super filling (and spicy) my husband doesn't even mind going meatless every once in a while!

Chipotle Bean Burritos
adapted from Cooking Light

1 T canola oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t chipotle chile powder (word to the wise, this stuff is really potent!)
1/2 t salt
1/3 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt added black beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt added kidney beans, drained
1/4 cup refrigerated fresh salsa
6 (10-inch) whole wheat tortillas
1 cup (4 ounces) reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups chopped plum tomato (about 3)
1 1/2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
6 T thinly sliced green onions
6 T light sour cream

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in chile powder and salt; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/3 cup water and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salsa. Partially mash bean mixture with a fork.

Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon about 1/3 cup bean mixture into center of each tortilla. Top each serving with about 2 1/2 tablespoons cheese, 1/4 cup tomato, 1/4 cup lettuce, 1 tablespoon onions, and 1 tablespoon sour cream; roll up.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Need Your Help!

Well, it's happened. I am officially out of my favorite body lotion. You may remember this time last year when I realized Origins had discontinued their Shedonism line. It was a sad day. Though my husband did temporarily ease my pain by tracking down five bottles from local stores who hadn't shipped them back to the manufacturer. What a man!

But even with my best efforts to savor every last drop over the past year, I scrapped clean my last bottle this weekend. I had secretly hoped that my supply would last long enough for Origins to realize they had made a horrible mistake and bring it back. Obviously they did not get the message!

Knowing this day would come, I've searched high and low for a new moisturizer I find equally amazing, but to no avail. Nothing quite compares to its subtle tahitian gardenia scent and remarkable ability to keep my skin feeling rich and creamy all day long!

I would really like to find a replacement (and soon) but I need your help. Any suggestions or favorites of yours would be much appreciated!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Blooms and Baking

I certainly hope your weekend was delightful!

Just a few things of note this weekend. About once a month (sometimes more if I really feel the need to splurge)I like to buy fresh flowers for the house. I just love having them around and now that it's Spring it happens more frequently because our own potted plants are producing beautiful blooms! While my favorites tend to be on the more expensive side (ie: lilies and peonies), I also love the ones that go a long way while being a bit less pricey. Like these for example~

I have four more vases of them scattered throughout the house! And at $5 for the bunch, that's what I call getting the most bang for your buck!

On another happy note, I baked this weekend! While baking is something I absolutely adore, it occured to me last week that with the exception of this coffee cake, I haven't actually baked since early February. I suppose my six week dessert fast paired with being crazy busy are the culprits, but nevertheless, this baking hiatis needed to come to an end, and soon!

So I made this blueberry angel food cake~

And it was delicious! In fact, my intent was to enjoy it after our lovely halibut dinner Sunday night, but after pulling it out of the oven around 3pm and being utterly tempted by it's sweet aroma, we decided to have a piece before dinner. Actually, the conversation went something like this:

Chris: Mmm, honey, that smells delicious!
Me: I know, don't you wish we could have a piece now?!
Chris: Why don't we?
Me: Hmm...(thinking). Okay! (I am much too easily persuaded!)

And that is why I married that man. Ha, and of course for countless other reasons!

Merry Monday!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Weekend!

Happy Friday! I don't know about you but I am so happy the week is finally coming to an end!

Any fun plans for the weekend? Chris and I are going to see The Back-up Plan tonight! I love that he is willing to see the occassional chick flick with me!

The rest of our weekend holds these whole wheat blueberry pancakes (YUM!), working on my yoga certification, finally tackling this project , cooking a lovely meal from Giada's cookbook (love her!), and of course, my husband will be occupied watching the NFL draft. I so love a relaxing weekend with my husband, especially after such a hectic week!

Have an amazing and fun-filled few days!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What a Hoot!

Do you remember me posting these adorable owl pitchers last month? Well just my luck (and possibly your too!) My Sparrow is giving a pair of them away in honor of Earth Day! Crossing my fingers!

Check out their lovely site here!

Lovely Things

I just wanted to share a few simple things I've been enjoying this week.

Given my deep love for being comfortable, I was such a happy girl when I found these fun, nautical themed jammie pants! And because I was so achy from the half marathon last weekend, they were perfect for lounging around at home. Wonderfully lightweight and great for the warmer weather!

Homegrown roses straight from the garden! Let's be honest, they don't even compare to the store bought kind. They smell fantastic and have been going strong since Sunday!

The past two weeks or so I have been getting my sweet fill from chocolate peanut butter. I mean, everyone knows chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in heaven!

This was made by my mom in her Vita-Mix using only raw peanuts and a few dark chocolate chips, but if you don't prefer to make your own you might like Peanut Butter & Co.'s Dark Chocolate Dreams, or try grinding it yourself at Whole Foods! I personally enjoy it with fresh apple slices!

Have a lovely Thursday and Happy Earth day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Got the Bug

Sorry for my lack-o-blogging this week, but I've been sick. I had been able to fight off the bug my hubs had all last week, and just when I thought I was free and clear, it got me.

Not to worry though, my mom made me homemade chicken noodle soup and I napped on the couch in my comfies all afternoon yesterday. While not totally recovered, I'm beginning to feel better today. Hoping to kick this thing soon!

Happy Wednesday!

PS~ What are your favorite remedies when you're feeling under the weather?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mission Accomplished

Well, I did it! I finished my very first half marathon and aside from all the aches and pains I am feeling today, including the feeling that I have completely thrashed every muscle in my lower body, I feel happy!

I should tell you, it was the most physically and mentally challenging thing I have ever done, but also incredibly rewarding! I learned a lot that will most certainly help me do even better next time.

And by the way, as I was running yesterday (at about mile 8 or 9), I honestly thought to myself, "I must be absolutely insane to want to do this again!". I had serious doubts I would even want to train for a full, but once it was all said and done and my "runners high" kicked in, I quickly realized that the sense of accomplishment that comes with crossing the finish line is so worth the pain and hard work it takes to get there!

Thanks for all of your sweet comments and support!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Running

Happy Friday! Any fun plans for this weekend?

I am running my first half marathon this Sunday! Thank goodness Sunday is shaping up to be a beautiful 72 degrees! And not to mention I have my new Lululemon running crops for race day (I'm obsessed!). I'm getting so excited and hoping this race will continue to motivate my training for the full marathon in July!

And Sunday evening we will be celebrating Chris' best friend, Brads birthday at Buca di Beppo. Looking forward to a great few days!

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

Lately, my schedule has been jam packed. On most nights of the week I train clients, so I've made an attempt to keep our dinners simple.

In my quest to be creative and keep dinner delicious and healthy, I came upon this creation, inspired by something I saw in Clean Eating. It's perfect for afternoons when I only have a minute to take Abby outside, bust out the crock pot and head out the door. Not only does this meal only take a quick minute to assemble, but the leftovers make a delicious lunch the next day too!

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
2 boneless skinless chicken breast (thawed if previously frozen)
1/2 cup salsa of your choice (we prefer spicy!)
1/2 can no-salt added corn
2 cups brown rice (for simplicity sake, I like to keep the pre-cooked, frozen variety from WF handy)
few slices avocado

Place chicken in slow cooker. Top with salsa (you may use more than 1/2 cup if you prefer). Cover slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours. At this point you can either cut chicken into bite size pieces, shred or leave whole. Cook rice according to package and cook corn until heated through. Combine rice, corn and chicken. Top with avocado slices and extra salsa.

You could also add black beans to the slow cooker for some extra fiber.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Needing a Tropical Getaway?

This delicately mild, yet impressively flavorful Coconut Pouchong tea by Golden Moon makes me feel like I'm on a tropical island enjoying an exotic delicacy reserved just for me. Experiencing it for the first time as a freshman in college and falling head-over-heels for the aromatic coconut is something I've never forgotten. Thankfully for me, a little birdie put the word out that I have been talking about it and I received some for my birthday! It is quite literally the most amazing tea I have ever tasted!

I was also given the Bodum Ceylon Iced Tea Pitcher with filter for loose-leaf tea, making it super simple to create an iced version. Just imagine indulging in a few glasses on a hot summer that's a tropical getaway on the cheap!

Have a lovely Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Birthday Details!

Well I think I'm all recovered from a fantastic birthday weekend and ready to get back in the swing of things. Happy Tuesday, by the way!

For those of you interested in how the birthday festivities all went down, you came to the right place! The only trouble is, I had such a grand ole' time I just don't know where to begin! All I know is, twenty-four has been kind so far:)

Since I do not wish to bore you with the complete itinerary of this past weekend, I'll just touch on the highlights! Though I should warn you this may still be a long post!

So lets see, Friday was set aside for a girly day with my Mom. Except instead of letting me plan out the day, this year she kept what we were doing a secret! I do love a good secret. After enjoying some of these delicious little treats over coffee at Panera, we were off for a little "road trip". Along the way I opened several gifts, only to find money and some great workout accessories in each bag.

I was truly stumped by all of her clues...until we got to the Walnut Creek exit and I instantly knew she was taking me shopping at lululemon (hence the money to shop with)!! Bah, I was SOO excited because our lululemon has yet to open and an opening date remains TBD (get it together Galleria!). And just our luck, we got a parking spot right in front of the store!

I had a ball trying on handfuls of clothes. After finally deciding on several pairs of pants, an "I heart running" water bottle and a few no-slip headbands, I was giddy as a clam. What could top this off you ask? Well, becoming part of their Research & Development program helped! By being a personal trainer, I receive a discount and the ability to submit ideas and feedback on their products!

After my lululemon spree, we continued shopping, lunched at California Pizza Kitchen and found a divine little bakery called Frosting and desserted on their cupcake truffles (my new favorite way to enjoy cupcakes!).

And that was celebration day #1

Saturday morning I woke up begging Chris to let me open my surprise gift. He gave in and totally thrilled me with the cutest new purse from Vera Bradley! Then we got ready to head to Napa for some wine tasting and lunching at the deliciously good, Bistro Jeanty. Our original picnic plans were altered because it was a bit colder than we anticipated. So after dropping Abby off at my parents' for the day, we headed out.

And this is where it got interesting...

About half way there, we had a tire blow out! We pulled over, changed the tire and realized how lucky we were to be safe AND right across the street from Wal-Mart/Sam's. Of course the story only gets funnier when I tell you that our spare tire was also flat. I was laughing at this point!

So yes, I got another surprise birthday present of new tires on my car! Admittedly, I got a bit grouchy waiting in Sam's, but looking back, it really didn't set us back too much and we have a memorable story.

And wouldn't you know, after finally arriving at the first winery of the day, Chris' "checking in" via the four square app on his iphone finally paid off because the winery was offering a two-for-one tasting by "checking in"! Yay for free wine!! We certainly needed it at that point!

The day ended up being wonderful with more wine tasting, dessert at Bouchon bakery and dinner at Bistro Jeanty! You read that right, dessert and THEN dinner, because it's allowed on your birthday!

And that concluded celebration day #2

Sunday was not only my actual birthday, but also the day my marathon training had me scheduled for a 10 mile run. Talk about a way to begin your birthday! Before I went to bed Saturday, Chris told me to open the card that would be on my nightstand. It was very important I opened it BEFORE I left for my run. So I did and it was a card shaped like a refrigerator telling me to look in a specific place in the fridge. I found a new water bottle, filled up with a note instructing me to look in the hall closet. My incredible husband bought me a CamelBak for running! He is so thoughtful!!

After my run, he met me at the Starbucks across the street from our apartment for a birthday coffee! Then we went home, got ready and met our family for breakfast at Awful Annie's, where I splurged on my favorite waffle! It was perfection really!

The rest of the day was pretty low-key. We realxed, played Wii at my parent's house and got ready for dinner. We went to Teppanyaki, which is one of my favorite things EVER! And dessert was back at my parents house, where my Mom made sea salt carameled brownies by special request and some of her own cupcake truffles! Everything was absolutely fantastic!!

In this one I am showing off my sparkly ring thanks to the AMAZING jewelry steam cleaner from my Mom!! It truly rocks my world that my ring can look good as new every day!

Thank you to my ridiculously wonderful and incredible family for making my 24th birthday the best yet!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Frosting On The Cake

Happy Monday! I hope the weekend treated you well!

I am lucky enough to be at home on this rainy and beautiful Monday. Chris and I decided it would be wise to take off today, mainly because we had so much planned this weekend, we knew there would be absolutely no time to do chores that normally take place on the weekend. But also to recoup from all the fun! So once my husband wakes up, we will get to several loads of laundry, vacuuming, grocery shopping and the general chaos that's taken over our little nest:)

I can't wait to share about this weekend! But, I suppose that will just have to wait until tomorrow!

Here are some pictures until then~

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Sweet Start to Twenty-Four

As today is the first official day of my birthday festivities, it seems only appropriate to celebrate with something as seemingly sinful as "grown up" cinnamon toast! Mom and I made these last night and fully intend to savor a few with our morning coffee! I love birthdays!

Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti
recipe from Epicurious

2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, baking powder and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add 1 egg; beat well. Add egg yolk; beat well. Mix in vanilla, then dry ingredients.

Transfer dough to work surface. Divide in half. Shape each half into 9-inch-long, 1 1/2-inch-wide log. Transfer logs to baking sheets. Beat remaining egg in small bowl. Brush logs with egg. Bake until golden and firm to touch (dough will spread), about 50 minutes. Cool on baking sheets. Maintain oven temperature.

Mix 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in small bowl to blend. Using serrated knife, cut logs into 1/2-inch-wide diagonal slices. Place biscotti, cut side down, on baking sheets. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon sugar over each biscotti. Bake until pale golden, about 20 minutes. Cool on racks. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container.)
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