Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Larabar Love

Let me start by saying I am a big fan of simplicity when it comes to what I put in my body. I like to know what is in my food, which is why I prefer to to make most of our meals at home. But lets be honest, on days I am working from 6am to 8:30pm, I need some easy snacks that I can throw in my bag and eat on the go (especially when I only have a minute between clients!).

I am generally a big fan of portable fruit like apples and bananas, but sometimes I need something more. Something that tastes like a treat, yet has a lot to offer nutritionally, which is why I am LOVING Larabars. They come in the most delicious flavors (lemon bar, chocolate coconut, apple pie and cinnamon roll) and yet, they're gluten free and only contain pure and simple ingredients.

Take the Peanut Butter Cookie for example, the only ingredients: prunes, peanuts, salt. And you would have no idea! It seriously tastes like a little baked treat!

Bottom line - you need to go get yourself some Larabars today! You'll thank me later!


Monday, August 30, 2010

Savoring the Last Days of Summer

As you all know, Fall is nearing and the months of sunshine and warmth are coming to an end. But this year, instead of skipping past the last glorious days of Summer, we decided to celebrate the wonderful 80 degree temps by going to the zoo. Always an enjoyable outing in my opinion! Of course, Pinkberry was thrown into the mix, making for a perfect day!

Otherwise, the weekend was a welcome opportunity to declutter and organize those small spaces that often get overlooked and neglected, aka: the "junk drawer", linen closet, laundry room and hall closet. Amazing what a little organization can do! But I'm not done yet...stay tuned for my next home makeover project!

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Carrots, Eggs & Coffee

A friend emailed this to me today and I really wanted to pass it on. I know it's a bit long, but I think worth reading. Have a lovely weekend!

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen.. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word...

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners.. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ' Tell me what you see. '

' Carrots, eggs, and coffee, ' she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hardboiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, 'What does it mean, mother? '

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

' Which are you? ' she asked her daughter. ' When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Dinner Last Night: Cold Sesame Noodles with Chicken and Cucumbers

{sorry about my uncentered pictures!}

Remember this meal I have been trying to make for weeks now? Well I finally cooked it last night and it was delicious! I even got two "Mmms" out of Chris as he took his first bite. In the Hansen household, that means success!

Before making this dish I read through the reviews and I'm glad I did. It seemed a pretty unanimous suggestion to use more sambal oelek than the recipe called for, which turned out great because we both like spicy. I also used soba noodles in place of udon noodles. My only complaint is that I didn't get to experience the apparently "amazing" leftovers. You can see why...

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Deep Breath. Smile. Repeat.

This has been one heck of a week - difficult, stressful and nothing seems to be going right. Which of course makes me want to sit in my grumpy pants until it all goes away.

But then I stumbled across this:

‎"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit." Aristotle

And it's got me thinking about my attitude. Do you realize we can even be excellent complainers and pessimists? Yuck, I do not want to make a habit of negative actions! So rather than be a grumpmeister, I am choosing to be positive and consistent, even when things aren't going perfectly.

Wishing you a wonderful Thursday!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Currently Loving: Perfect Brownies

I am such a sucker. No really, every time The Perfect Brownie commercial comes on TV I tell myself I'm going to but one next time I'm at Bed Bath & Beyond (they have an entire "As Seen on TV" section!). And now it's been over a year since I first said that and my kitchen still lacks the Perfect Brownie pan.

It's not as if I am incapable of cutting brownies the old fashioned way, but I LOVE that every brownie comes out perfectly even and each has that coveted crispy edge! And unlike most gimmicks, I know this works because I bought one for my mom and mother-in-law for Christmas last year and they both love it!

I have endless ideas for the pan, such as: individual blondies, Rice Krispie treats, lemon bars, carrot cakes and so much more! Plus, you can decorate each one seperately. So fun!

Are there any silly gadgets you wish you could bring yourself to splurge on?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pearing It Down

I have been wondering what would finally bring on that deep yearning for Autumn I'm usually stricken with this time of year. Apparently, baked pears were just the ticket. It all started with these gingered pears* I made for dessert last weekend. Oh my, what is it about the warm, delectable aroma of pears and ginger that make you long for chillier weather and all things pumpkin?

This dessert is so simple and comforting I just had to share. I served them warm atop good ol' vanilla bean ice cream. Delicious and gone before you could say, "More, please"!

*I substituted the sugar for agave nectar and halved the recipe.


Monday, August 23, 2010

This Weekend I...

-Slept in until 10 am. Chris actually woke up before me, which NEVER happens!
-Stayed in my pajamas ALL day, and I must confess, it was absolutely glorious!
-Started many projects and didn't finish a single one...such is life:)
-Took a 2 hour nap while Chris watched the Raiders kick some butt. Apparently I needed to catch up on my beauty sleep!

-Had breakfast at Awful Annie's with some good friends.
-Attended Pottery Barn's "The Art of Organizing" class. The class was so-so, but turned out to be a great time spent with my friend Nicole!
-Browsed Crate and Barrels new Fall collection and purchased this adorable, retro looking kitchen towel.
-Finished almost every project I started Saturday.
-Played with the pups!
-Made a delicious grilled pizza for dinner using some amazing heirloom tomatoes.
-Relaxed with my hubby and watched Pirates of the Caribbean.

All in all, a much needed, refreshing few days!

And based on everything we used from our Farm Fresh to You box this weekend, we have decided it is pretty much the best thing EVER!

Hope you too had a lovely weekend!


Friday, August 20, 2010

From Farm to Doorstep

Yesterday I received my very first Farm Fresh to You delivery! I absolutely love the idea of eating local and seasonal foods, so I decided to try this service I've heard so much about. I started out getting only the small box every other week, mainly to make sure we put everything to use (I hate waste!). Thankfully, the website shows you what is scheduled to come in your box the upcoming week, making it incredibly easy to plan a menu around the produce! It will be a fun challenge to see how creative I can get as the seasons change!

Here's what I received this week:

2 Bartlett pears
1 lb black plums
1 lb heirloom tomatoes
1 lb Roma tomatoes*
1 large cucumber
1 head green leaf lettuce
1 bunch Italian basil
2 bell peppers

*Farm Fresh to You allows you to exclude certain items from your box. I chose to omit beets, broccoli and cauliflower (bleh!). So this week, instead of the scheduled broccoli, I recieived 1 lb of Roma tomatoes!

Creating next weeks menu was especially fun! Here's how I plan to use my goods:

Sunday: Grilled pizza with heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella and gingered pears over vanilla bean gelato for dessert (heirloom tomatoes, basil, pears)

Tuesday: Pistachio raspberry crusted chicken, salad w/ pine nuts and shaved Parmesan (green leaf lettuce)

Wednesday: Fajitas (bell peppers)

Thursday: Cold sesame noodles with chicken and cucumbers (cucumber)

We will enjoy the plums for snacking and I would love to make a homemade pasta sauce with the Roma tomatoes and extra basil for next week!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eggplant Wonderings

I have a tiny dilemma in my kitchen and it comes in the form of an eggplant. I happen to really like eggplant, though my husband does not. And to be honest, I can't remember more than two times I've actually used one to put together an eggplant parmesean. And while it was quite delicious, I'd like to explore other options.

After browsing trusted recipe sites, blogs and the like, I can't seem to find much more than the said lasagna, ratatoullie and grilled eggplant sandwiches, which I know Chris would not appreciate. That is until I found this Eggplant Bruschette recipe which sounds pretty amazing!

Hmm, I'm still not sure, though I need to make a decision quickly before my eggplant goes bad! Any suggestions from you brilliant cooking minds? I would really appreciate you throwing any great recipe ideas my way.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Growing Up So Fast

While in Illinois this past weekend I had a chance to spend the day with my little siblings. I just can't believe how much those kiddos grow each time I see them! Makes me wish we lived closer and got to see them more than once or twice a year.

I love that they are now old enough to remember who I am and are excited when Chris and I visit. Well, all except Nicholas who is only five month and oh, is he precious!!

I just wanted to share some pics of the cuties!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Meet Max!

Max is our new, eight week old Border Collie! Chris and I have been talking for months about getting Abby a companion and just before I left for Illinois we officially decided we should do it. Well, my husband didn't waste any time and Saturday morning he was out looking for a new pup to surprise me. Talk about a wonderful welcome home! Max is already a perfect fit to our family!

My favorite thing about him: his sweet spotted belly!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Midwest Bound

Woohoo! This afternoon I am off to Illinois for my cousin's wedding. A highly anticipated trip because I get to see my extended family and meet my new baby brother! I am especially looking forward to "girls day" with my aunts and cousins on Saturday, where I'll be teaching a yoga class.

It should be a fun-filled few days, though I'm going to miss my sweet husband who is staying behind this time. But don't worry about him as his weekend will be occupied with the new Madden that came out Tuesday.

Have a lovely few days and see you next week!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Put This on my Amazon Wishlist

Great news for you fellow Clean Eating fanatics! The magazine is set to release a new cookbook of all-time faves. Yay! What a fabulous way to have all the top Clean Eating recipes in one place. Check out The Best of Clean Eating for a bit of healthy inspiration in the kitchen.

I secretly hope it includes favorites such as Windy City Pizza and Orange Glazed Chocolate Cake!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Husband Talk

I know I occasionally gush about my wonderful husband, but please bare with me as I share some exciting news.

You may or may not know that he is a fanatical sports fan, which I have always found endearing. Most of the time at least.

Not only does he love to watch and talk about all things sports, he also has a passion for writing about them. And he's quite good if I do say so myself! Call it his journalism degree or sheer talent, but that guy has what it takes.

A few years ago he started a blog about the Raiders (check it out here), and while I didn't understand the brilliance of it at first, I have come to realize what a fantastic tool it has been for my husband to get his name out there. Today Chris' blog is the largest Raiders fan followed blog by a non-credentialed journalist. That's pretty amazing! And he's now got close to 1200 followers on Twitter! Yeah, it's kind of a big deal.

So what is the point of all this? Well, it's not just to tell you how amazing he is, but to share that this weekend he was invited by the executive producer to be a guest on ESPN 1420. And last night, that is exactly what he did. I was so sad that I couldn't listen to it because I was teaching a class, though I'm sure he was wonderful!

What I find really cool about this whole thing is they found him. And you know what that means, people are starting to know who he is!

I love that my husband is pursuing what he loves and I couldn't be a more proud wife!

Keep it up, my love, the best is yet to come!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Weekend + Waffles

Happy Monday friends! How was your weekend?

Ours was wonderful and very productive. I almost completed my list of to-do's, all except my sewing projects...:( I guess you can't do it all. However, my house is put together, my yoga class is revamped and I'm all ready for my trip to Illinois this Thursday!

But enough about that, lets get to the good stuff! Saturday morning I was up at 7am and ready to bust out our Belgian waffle maker. I decided to try a recipe I came across in Cooking Light's Complete Cookbook (a fantastic cookbook, by the way!) and was beyond pleased with the results! I think Chris and I agreed they were our best waffles yet. Light, fluffy, crispy edges and didn't at all taste "healthy" (even though they are a healthier version!), everything a good waffle should be. Definitely a recipe worth using again!

So without further ado...

Waffles with Two Berry Syrup
adapted from Cooking Light

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray

1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 1/2 cups raspberries
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flaxseed meal, flours, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Coat a waffle iron with cooking spray; preheat. Spoon about 1/4 cup of batter per 4-inch waffle onto the hot waffle iron, spreading batter to edges. Cook 5 to 6 minutes or until steaming stops; repeat procedure with remaining batter.

To prepare syrup, combine berries, maple syrup, and ground cinnamon in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated. Serve warm over waffles.

Freeze leftover waffles individually on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a zip-top freezer bag for storage. To reheat, place frozen waffles in toaster.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Weekend at Home

This weekend will be the first in several weeks the Hansens will be home with absolutely no big plans! Don’t get me wrong, I love trips and weekends away, but I also crave down time. So it is a welcome opportunity to get things in order. Let’s be honest though, I’ve had a list going on my fridge all week of things I would like to do, including:

• Farmer’s market! It’s been 3 weeks and I really miss it!
• Make a yummy breakfast, which will likely include Belgian waffles!!
• Complete two sewing projects that have been sitting idle on my desk for almost two months
• Change up my yoga class
• Clean the shower, which I have conveniently put off for longer than I am willing to admit
• Clean out our dresser and take a much needed trip to Goodwill
• Put together a packing list for my trip to the Midwest next week
• Bake zucchini bread I just added to my recipe box
• Cook a delish dinner at home, complete with margaritas and homemade guacamole!

I realize this seems to completely fill my “not busy” weekend, but when it’s {almost} all stuff you love, how can you go wrong?

Hoping your weekend is positively delightful!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sick Me Out!

I am generally an extremely clean person. Though I must admit, I completely shocked myself when the other day during yoga class I realized I have never actually cleaned my yoga mat. This realization came to me as I was in what should be a relaxing child's pose and it hit me, "Hmm, my sweaty feet touch the same surface I am resting my forehead on." {Insert intense shudder!}

I immediately went searching for the best way to clean my mat and found it to be suprisingly simple! Thank goodness because I don't have time to mess around with timely cleaning techniques! It turns out yoga mats are machine washable, as long as they don't go through the spin cycle. Though for routine cleanings you can simply make a mixture of one part warm water and three parts gentle cleaner such as Woolite. After applying the solution to your mat, gently rub with a soft cloth or sponge, rinse and hang to dry. And voila, you've got a clean and appropriately sticky mat!

Needless to say, I will be making this a regular part of my yoga practice!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Worth Trying?

Have you heard about Sketchers Tone Ups? I hadn't, until recently anyway. And all of a sudden I am hearing about them everywhere! First my Mom was searching for them, then a cashier at Whole Foods mentioned them and last week after yoga several ladies were talking about them. One of them actually had a pair on and said they were the most comfortable flip flops she's ever worn and would probably never be able to wear anything else. Sounds pretty promising to me!

So now, not only is my interest peaked, but I am dying to buy a pair to see what all the hype is about.

So what's so special about the Tone Ups? According to the manufacturer, they are a fitness sandal that will shape you up while you walk, improve your posture, tighten up muscles, and reduce cellulite.

While I am not promoting getting your exercise from wearing sandals, I definitely think they are worth trying, both for the comfort and said improvement in posture.

I'm really loving these. They're cute, sensible and would be perfect to and from yoga!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

I was inspired by Missy's post last week when she shared her top 5 guilty pleasures. It made me laugh and quite honestly, made me think about my own. I mean, we all have them!

So here goes, my top 5 guilty pleasures. Oh, and please don't judge!

People magazine ~ the truth is, I just can't help myself! Though because I never cough up the $4 for my own issue, it somehow makes me feel better about the obsession. I prefer to read the latest issue while getting a pedicure, while standing in line at the store, or borrowing my MIL's copy from her spa.

Coffemate ~ As much as I've tried to wean myself off of the stuff, I have found my morning coffee experience just doesn't quite have the same comfort without my sugar-free Hazelnut creamer. Why fight it?

Trying on my wedding dress ~ I kind of can't believe I'm admiting this, but I have definitely tried on my wedding dress a few times since our wedding. I can't resist, it's just so stinkin' gorgeous!

Frozen yogurt ~ My current yogurt obsession: coconut and passion fruit yogurt topped with fresh rasberries and coconut from Pinkberry. Oh my goodness!

Friends ~ If you have known me for any amount of time, you know that I quote Friends like there's no tomorrow. Not only do I own all 10 seasons, but I have probably watched each episode no less than 10 times. I've even got Chris quoting it these days. Sick, I know!

So what are your guilty pleasures?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Happy Campers

Now I haven't been camping in a few years, but has anybody else noticed how time sort of stands still when you're in the great outdoors? It may be the best thing that's happened to me in months! Seriously, not knowing what time it was and frankly, not caring, made for the most restful and rejuvenating few days. I can't believe I was even considering bagging out (mainly because I was overwhelmed)!

I didn't realize how much I needed a little break, and not just a few hours of reading a book (although I did finish one this weekend) but a few days with absolutely nothing that needed to be done, and couldn't be done even if I wanted to do it! And oh my, the three hour nap I took on Saturday afternoon was nothing short of divine.

And would you believe I was so rested when we got back yesterday afternoon that I had the gusto to unpack our bags and do 7 loads of laundry that had been piling up. I just felt that good!

Needless to say, we will no longer be putting off camping trips! I mean, who could pass up beautiful scenery like this...

Our campsite was right on this lake, which encouraged lots of walks. And Abby was totally and completely in her element!

Who wouldn't want to begin their morning with a hot cup of coffee and a morning stroll with your favorite husband and pooch?

Of course the weekend was also filled with games...

and some pretty amazing camp food! Which also included, but are not pictured, lemon blueberry pancakes, delicious steak sandwiches and obviously, lots of s'mores!

Over all it was an absolutely fabulous weekend!

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