Confessions

So I’ve seen these confessions posts on a couple of different blogs, and thought it might be fun to do a random brain dump. Because that’s basically where my brain has been the last few days – lost in the abyss of randomness. Maybe it’s the weather, or because I’ve got so much going on with all of these grad school applications, but I feel lately like I’m just kind of in zombie mode walking through each day.

Which probably explains my total lack of exciting posts around here lately. My bad guys. I promise things will get back to normal once I get all of this stuff finished. Whenever that is.

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So today we’ll try something different. I’m joining up with the lovely Amanda for Thinking Out Loud, and sharing with you some of my completely and totally random thoughts as of late. Hopefully they will be somewhat entertaining.

I think I am addicted to Panera.

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Seriously. We’ve been traveling so much these last few weekends, that I’ve stopped at Panera at least 4 times this month. And now I find myself craving it all the time. I think I have a Panera problem…

I’m really conflicted about Taylor Swift’s new songs.

I loved Shake it Off (I mean, how can you not. It’s so dagg-on catchy!), but was way underwhelmed with Out of the Woods. Her newest one “Welcome to New York” is growing on me. Why must you give me such a roller coaster of emotions TSwift? Why???

I am both seriously excited and completely petrified to see what happens with this grad school stuff.

This is going to change my life for real. And that is very scary. New city, new life, new goals, no income. YIKES/Bring it on!

THIS SALAD. I cannot get it out of my head.

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Ever eat something that’s so good that you just can’t seem to stop thinking about it. That’s me with this buffalo chicken salad. Why have I never thought to actually put buffalo sauce straight on my salad before? It’s making me salivate just thinking about it.

I think my sense of smell is turning more adult, if that even makes sense.

(source)

I went into Bath and Body Works today (they lured me with their darn 25% off sale and 2 for $22 candles. Darn you BBW marketers!) and instead of being drawn to all my old favorite Pumpkin Pecan Waffle and Vanilla Noel, I instead ended up with scents that make me sound like an old lady. Things like “Winter” and “Fresh Balsam”. When did I turn into a grandma???

Well there you have some totally random thoughts from me on a Thursday. Hopefully things will get back to normal soon, once these grad applications stop taking over my life. Which will happen eventually… I hope. Or I’ll drown in them, one of the two. If you don’t hear from me in awhile, please come check my desk to make sure I’m not buried under a giant pile of college transcripts and personal statements, k? thanksmuch.

So tell me: What are your favorite candle scents? How do you feel about TSwifts new jams? What totally random things do you want to confess share with the class?

WIAW: Daydreaming (of food) Edition

Happy Wednesday!

I’m actually really pumped for today, despite the gross downpour that’s happening outside. First of all, we’re having a coworker’s going away party today, and although I’m definitely sad to see her leave, party days are always the most laid back at work.

Then after work I’m heading down to Blacksburg (my old college town) to meet with some of my old professors about my grad school applications. Things are getting real, guys! I’ve been talking about going back to school for awhile now, so it’s crazy that it is getting closer and closer to a reality!

Since today is such a good day, let’s continue that trend with something else good: What I Ate Wednesday!

What I Ate Wednesday: FALL into Good Habits

Thanks to Jenn for hosting this amazing WIAW link up week in and week out. Be sure to check out her blog to see what many other awesome bloggers are eating!

Breakfast

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I’ve really been trying to change up my breakfasts lately to figure out what’s going to work for me. Because if I don’t eat enough, I end up with a rumbling tummy by 10:30am (that’s what happens when you eat breakfast at 6:30!), but if I eat too much then I’m thrown off in my meals for the whole rest of the day. So I’ve been playing around with things a little, trying to find a good balance. Tuesday morning I ended up with with 2 scrambled eggs, topped with a sprinkle of cheese and sriracha (ALWAYS sriracha!) and a peach, banana and strawberry greek yogurt smoothie that I drank an hour later when I got to work.

Sadly I was still pretty hungry by 11am. Guess I need to play around with things again, or find a good, small work snack!

Lunch

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Ever since last Tuesday’s buffalo chicken salad, I’ve been dreaming of recreating something similar. Oh, don’t try and pretend like I’m the only one who daydreams about food. So in honor of that amazing salad, I threw together this homemade version, which included spring mix, spinach, carrots, orange bell pepper, leftover roasted sweet potatoes (because why not), and was topped with buffalo sauce and ranch. And it was AMAZING.

Snack

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My snack was a bit boring, but I’ve been trying to get in more dairy lately after the bone scan lady at my office health fair freaked me out (she was a little “you’re all going to die…”) So yay for calcium! I have been loving these Chobani Simply 100s, made with stevia. And I topped it with the last sprinkle of my homemade coconut granola.

Dinner

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Sorry, recycled photo. This is what happens when I have to heat up leftovers and scarf food on my way out the door. But Monday night I recreated my Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa Bake from just a few weeks ago, because I’ve been dreaming of it ever since. And I’m NOT a recipe recreater at all. It’s actually really rare for me to repeat a recipe (outside the obvious staples like tacos and spaghetti), so you KNOW it has to be good!

This time I even used real cheddar that I shredded instead of the pre-shredded stuff. Do it. Now.

Dessert

I may or may not have had one or two (or ten) bites of mint chocolate chip ice cream while writing this post. But there is no photo evidence, so you’ll never know if it’s really true or not.

Workout

Tuesdays are really rough for me right now, because I get home sometime around 5:45, and I have to be out the door before 6:30 to get to a church meeting. And in that meantime I have to change, make/heat/eat dinner, and get a few chores done. So workout time is pretty minimal, unfortunately.

So I’ve been trying to just get in a solid run and/or walk during work (somewhere between 2-3 miles depending on how much I feel like running the ridiculous hills around my office), and then walking the dog another mile when I get home. It’s not much, but it’s at least something!

So tell me: Any good breakfast suggestions that work for you? For some reason since the fall started I’ve really started struggling with finding a good calorie balance throughout the day that keeps me from snacking the day away!

Should you workout when you’re sick?

Please note that I am not a doctor, and that these opinions are solely based on my own experiences. If you are sick, please make sure to consult with your doctor before working out.

Well guys, it’s officiay plague season. You know what I’m talking about. That time of year when everyone you know has come down with some nasty sounding illness, and you feel like everywhere you turn you’re walking through a cloud of germs. Yea, you know.

My office is currently going through this. Last Friday literally half of our office was out with the same hacking cough/stuffy nose/headache/sinus crap. Meanwhile, I cloroxed the hell out of my office.

But it got me to thinking about working out when sick, and when to draw the line. It’s always such a catch-22: sometimes working out can make you feel a lot better, but boy does it not sound fun!

So I thought I’d explore that today, and share with you some of my experiences of working out when sick.

Obviously the #1 thing you should do before exercising with any kind of illness is to listen to your body. If you’re body is telling you that working out is not a good idea – LISTEN. There is nothing wrong with take a rest day (or a few) to let your body heal. These tips are more for those occasions where you have a mild cold or discomfort and are debating what kind of workout you might be able to manage.

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Headache

I hate headaches with a passion. Stomach aches I can grit my teeth and deal with. Headaches turn me into a baby. I feel like my brain is turning to mush inside my head.

There are a million different kinds of headaches, so it’s definitely important to listen to what your body (and your head) are telling you. If you’re experiencing any kind of migraine or dizziness, then working out might not be the best option for you.

However, if I just have a mild headache, or especially a stress headache, I find that yoga is always a good option for me. It’s low impact (aka no jumping), helps me focus on my breathing, and helps me to relax. I just try to be aware of my body position and avoid inverted positions. But again, listen to what your body is telling you and go from there.

Stuffy Nose/Head Cold

Stuffy noses are probably the most annoying and inconvenient of all cold symptoms, in my opinion. There is nothing attractive (or professional) about having to blow your nose every 3 seconds and sounding like an old man.

But when it comes to working out, stuffy noses can really be a pain. I know that when I’m dealing with stuffy nose-issue, the last thing I want to do is go for a run (and carry a handkerchief?) or heaven-forbid, go to a yoga class and spend too much time in downward dog. If the stuffy nose has turned into a head cold, anything that involves jumping is also super out of the question.

In these cases, I tend to stick with straight strength training. That way I have a little more control over my movement, and can stop and take a break if I need to wipe my nose. Just make sure that you are conscious about wiping down weights afterwards – no one wants to share your snot!

Chest Cold/Cough

Similar to a stuffy nose, when I have a cold that’s settled into my chest and turned into a lovely cough, the last thing I want to do is try and run. Or really use my lungs at all.

With any kind of cough, I definitely try to avoid anything that involves getting my heart rate up too high and increasing my breathing. My lungs are already a little bit stressed trying to deal with this cold, the last thing I want is to stress them out even more with heavy breathing.

So if I’m going to do cardio, I tend to stick with something more steady-state (even like a brisk walk) so as not to overstrain my poor lungs. But typically I aim for strength training instead, to give my lungs a little break. Just make sure you still concentrate on your breathing to get enough oxygen to your muscles!

The other thing I like to do if I have a chest cold is yoga! There is such a focus on breathing that you can really give you lungs a chance to open up and relax. However, if you have a bad cough, I might suggest trying this one at home – you don’t want to annoy any other yogis during class with a hacking cough through savasanna!

Stomach Ache/Digestive Issues

This one really comes down to the severity. If you’re feeling like you’re going to be sick, or your digestive system is giving you some serious discomfort (I think you all can guess what I’m implying…), then please take a rest day. Tummy troubles are no joke, and you definitely want to let your system work things out.

However, if you’re just feeling a little bloated, that’s a different story. I have found that for me personally, one of the best things I can do when I’m bloated is cardio, especially running. I don’t know what it is about the movement, but it definitely gets things moving.

I can’t believe I just wrote those words for the whole internet to read. But you know it’s true. Anyone who has experience with running definitely knows what I’m talking about. Sometimes it just takes a little running to get things moving and help your digestive system out.

Plus, I don’t know about you, but the idea of trying to do yoga or squats when I’m bloated just doesn’t sound appealing. Yes, I went there.

Ok, moving on.

Body Ache

This is another one where it is 100% necessary to listen to your body. Body aches can mean that your body is seriously trying to fight something off, and it may be best to take some time to rest while your body takes care of itself.

However, if you’re just feeling slightly under the weather, consider something really low impact, like yoga. Or even just spend some time stretching and allowing your muscles to relax.

This is definitely not the time to push your body too much. There will be plenty of time for that when you’re recovered!

When push comes to shove though, it really comes down to listening to your body. No matter what illness you’re fighting off, now is not the time to push and weight limits or try for a PR. And please, please, if you’re using the gym, PLEASE make sure to wipe everything down thoroughly when you’re done. Ain’t nobody got time for your germs.

So tell me: What are your thoughts on working out when sick? Any suggestions?

The 1860s called, and they want their hoop skirts back

Well hello and happy Monday (if there even is such a thing).

I could definitely use an extra day of relaxing personally. I even briefly thought about calling in sick this morning… *cough cough*. But in the end my guilty conscience got the best of me and dragged my butt out of my warm cozy bed.

And let me tell you, that was rough. Especially since my bed felt like a 5 star resort after my sleeping arrangements for the last 2 days.

Meet my bed for the weekend:

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Nope, I’m not kidding.

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In case you havent guessed, this wasnt your typical weekend getaway. Instead of a relaxing weekend lounging around and watching football, Chris and I headed back in time for a weekend in the 1860s. To the Battle of Cedar Creek, to be exact.

Yup, we’re history nerds.

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Check out my Union solider.

Chris used to do reinactments when he was younger, so when his dad stated he was coming up for the 150th Battle of Cedar Creek, Chris and I decided to join. While I’ve spectated at many reinactments (one of the joys of living in Virginia – they are everywhere), this one was the first one I’ve ever actually participated in.

And I was a little nervous, I’m not going to lie!

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But it actually ended up being a lot of fun, despite the freezing cold weather. We spent the weekend hanging out by the campfire, walking around the sutlers (vendors of all things civil war), chatting with the guys (and a few ladies) in Chris’ unit, and living like it was 1860.

They are actually pretty big on staying fairly authentic, so all things modern had to be hidden away in your tent. (And for anyone wondering, there were port-a-potties. We’re not that hardcore)

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I did manage to get some pictures of the actual battle on Saturday though!

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The confederates preparing for an attack.

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That’s Chris, just left of center.

Also, please notice the guy on the right, mid-death. Have to keep it authentic, right? Chris said that he did a dramatic spin move when he “died” and then got to be carried away from the battle on a medic gurney. Gotta have a little fun for the spectators!

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When we decided we were going to attend, the food and the potty situation were my two biggest concerns. Well neither ended up being an issue at all!

We brought some snacks and canned soup for me, just in case, given some of my dietary restrictions. But I really didnt have to dig into them.

Breakfast ended up being eggs, potatoes and sausage one day, and french toast and sausage the next. Lunch I actually picked up from a vendor (chicken parm sandwich). Dinner was the best of all though: a full out campfire octoberfest complete with bourbon marinated pork chops, red cabbage, a German soda bread, and the world’s most amazing soup full of potatoes, bacon, carrots, and greens. Yummmm. All with that smoky campfire flavor.

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Overall it ended up being quite the fun weekend. If it hadnt been so darn cold and windy (meaning I hardly slept), it would have been even better. Maybe we need to do more spring and summer battles instead! Although now I think I’m going to be spending the next week trying to get the campfire smell out of everything that came with us!

And just because I’m sure you all were wondering, yes I dressed up. Go big or go home, right? I borrowed my day dress from my MIL, which I sadly did not get a picture of since we weren’t really supposed to have phones out.

But on Saturday night post-battle there was a ball, complete with civil war era dances (hey, I can waltz now!). Dress is supposed to be a bit fancier, so I borrowed a ball gown from someone in Chris’ unit and they helped get me all 1860s dolled up. Complete with corset and hoop skirt.

Prepare yourselves…

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You’re welcome.

So tell me: what did you do thid weekend? Any fellow history lovers out there?

5 Perfect Fall Soups

So the weather here in Virginia has not exactly been tour typical October fall. Instead of cool, breezy and full of beautiful colors, so far we’ve gotten cold, rainy and just generally dreary. Not exactly my idea of a perfect fall!

With this gross weather, all I’ve really been craving lately is soup (well that and a nap… rainy weather makes me sleepy!)

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I even threw together a quick chicken enchilada soup last night in the hopes of counteracting the rain. Nothing fancy, but it got the job done (plus, Mexican. Winning)

Eating soup on a cold, rainy night made me think about all the other soups that would have been perfect in this weather. So I thought that I would share 5 perfectly fall soups with you today, in case you’re feeling the rainy fall blues too!

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Via Lovely Little Kitchen

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup - easy, healthy, and a little spicy too. You'll love how fast it comes together!

Because everyone needs some tortilla soup in their lives, I thought I’d share this delicious looking crockpot recipe. Super easy, it cooks all day, and it’s ready to go when you get home from work. How perfect is that?

Black Bean Soup with Chorizo

Via Cooking Light

Going with the spicy theme, here is another hearty fall soup that sounds like it’ll stick to your bones. I’m not a chorizo eater, but Chris loves the stuff, although I think you could easily sub it out if it’s not your thing.

Perfect Broccoli Cheese Soup

Via Iowa Girl Eats

I dont know about you, but nothing screams comfort to me quite like Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar soup. So an easy copy cat that you can make at home? Sounds like perfection to me. Mmmmm, now I’m drooling over the thoughts of warm, melty cheese.

Sweet Potato Lentil Chili

Via fANNEtastic Food

sweet potato lentil chili

You cant have a fall soup round up without chili. That’s just sacrilege. In fact, nothing screams fall to me quite like chili!

While there are a million different schools of thought on what makes a good chili, I love the uniqueness of this recipe, with the lentils and sweet potatoes. Sounds like a perfect way to change things up this fall!

5-Ingredient White Chicken Chili

Via Gimme Some Oven

5-Ingredient Easy White Chicken Chili | gimmesomeoven.com #soup

And to round out our soup list (and stay with the chili theme), here is a white chicken chili for another take on classic fall food. Plus, 5 ingredients? Love those words!

Please tell me I’m not the only one out there who craves warm, comforting soup once the weather turns colder. Now if only the rain would clear up so we can enjoy the beautiful part of fall before all the leaves fall off the trees!

So tell me: what are your favorite soups to make? How do you like your chili?

WIAW: Eating like a college kid edition

Do you ever have one of those days where you feel like all the healthy eating information that you know just kind of goes out the window for the day? Where suddenly it’s like you’re back in college, living off of ramen noodles, 2am pizza and froyo?

Yea, that’s what my day was like yesterday. It didn’t happen on purpose, but one thing led to another and before I knew it I’d gone 3/4 of the day without really eating a vegetable.

Definitely not one of my proudest (or healthiest) moments, but I wanted to share it with you guys anyway. I’m not going to lie, part of me thought about skipping this WIAW because I didn’t want to show you a less-than-healthy day of eats. But then I remembered back to when I first started my healthy living journey, and how much I appreciated seeing bloggers who would share their successes AND their failures, because it made a healthy lifestyle seem more realistic.

So here it is – a day I’m certainly not as proud of, but one that truly describes my philosophy on healthy living: everything in moderation. Is this one bad day going to ruin all of my hard work and healthy eating? No. Should I just give up? No. Today was just a drop in the bucket, and tomorrow is a new day.

What I Ate Wednesday: FALL into Good Habits

Thanks to Jenn for hosting this amazing WIAW link up week in and week out. Be sure to check out her blog to see what many other awesome bloggers are eating!

Breakfast

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So I’ve been trying to get back into more meal prepping for the week, because we’ve gotten a little lax with our meals lately (aka I’ve gotten a little lazy in the kitchen). One thing I prepped this week was a breakfast crockpot casserole, which basically was a mix of hashbrowns, eggs, chicken breakfast sausage, red peppers, onions, carrots, and a bit of cheese. Sadly it just came out meh. Definitely lacking some oomph. I ended up topping it with sriracha just to give it some spice. I’ll have to make some tweaks before I decide it’s worth sharing.

Snack

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This was a total “my coworker made me do it” snack. And I gave in. The problem was, my coworker and I were at a meeting from 12-2, so by the time we got out we were both bordering on hangry. So when she made a detour to McDonalds and started talking about getting an ice cream, I couldn’t get it out of my head. When she offered to buy it for me, it was just too much. So I caved. And it was delicious. I literally can’t even think of the last time I went to McDonalds!

Lunch

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Just in case I hadn’t eaten like a college kid enough today with the ice cream lunch/snack, I topped it off with leftover veggie pizza for lunch. Not one of my finer moments, let me tell you. But we’ve had this sitting in our fridge since Sunday night, and running late this morning thanks to some computer issues meant that my salad just didn’t get made. So pizza it was. Sometimes it just happens.

Dinner

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After that pizza and ice cream, I felt like I needed to get a few greens in my life. So when I was running straight from work to a church meeting, I took a detour by Salad Creations to fill up on some veggies. I ended up getting a buffalo chicken salad, but subbing out the fake bacon and blue cheese for hearts of palm and a sprinkle of parm on top.

And asked for extra hot sauce, because that’s just how I roll. It was delicious and totally hit the spot. Even if it was eaten on my lap during my meeting. Gotta make it work, right?

Workout

Today was my monthly late Tuesday at work, so sadly it means that I don’t get much time for a workout. I did manage to get in a 30 minute hilly power walk on my lunch break though, so I consider that a success.

 

As I said, not my proudest day of eats, but I am happy to show you what my real life looks like. Sometimes I have good eating days, and somedays I have bad ones. As long as you have more good than bad, I think that’s all that really matters.

So tell me: What did you eat today? What did your workouts look like? Ever find yourself eating like you did in college? Do you get yourself back on track?

Everybody loves a long weekend

Sigh…. Can I add a few more days to my long weekend, please?

There is something about long weekends that are just so rejuvenating. No deadlines, no stress… just 3 days to relax and get things done. What’s not to love about that?

I split my long weekend into 2 parts. The first part we spent at Smith Mountain Lake with my inlaws, and the second half was spent at home getting some much needed housework done. Both were equally enjoyable and productive!

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On Friday night Chris and I made the 3.5 hour trip to the lake, but not without a stop at Panera for some sustenance. I got the You Pick 2 with a chicken Caesar salad and the butrernut squash ravioli (if you have not tried this, do it immediately. It’s life changing).

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How amazing is this place? Even with some less-than-ideal weather, it was still beauitful!

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Most of our weekend was spent like this: lots of fishing, letting the dogs play in the water (who knew that Laney would actually love it?), watching college football, playing cards against humanity, and taking naps. Lots and lots of naps.

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At one point on Sunday we decided to go for a long walk with the dogs. Of course we got about a mile away and the the heavens opened up on us. Chris, Laney and I hightailed it back to the cabin, getting drenched in the process. There is something about running in the rain that is just so exilerating!

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We got home Sunday evening and basically passed out on the couch while watching Walking Dead. Doing nothing all weekend is just so exhausting! Haha.

I spent most of Sunday trying to be productive. I got a nice workout in at the gym, had an epic Target and Wegmans grocery shopping trip, and even did some food prep for the week!

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There is nothing like ending a long weekend with some productivity! Like I said though, I could use a few extra days… that relaxing was so nice!

So tell me: What did you do for the holiday weekend?

Do you track your sleep? {Five Favorites Friday}

It’s Friday, Friday!!!! (Gotta get down on friday)

Not only is it Friday, but it’s the Friday before a long weekend. Which is basically a million times more exciting. I dont know about you, but there is nothing that puts me in a good mood quite like an extra day to sleep in!

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This week there have been a few other things that have put me in a seriously good mood, so I want to share them with you!

Linking up with Clare for Five on Friday and Katie for Friday Favorites.

Favorite New Fitness Item: Apera Gym Bag

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I got this Apera PureSport Performance Duffel for my birthday last month and even though it’s only been a few weeks, I’m already obsessed. Not only does it have a ton of space to fit all of my stuff, but it has 2 separate pockets for shoes so I dont have to worry about getting my gross gym shoes on my nice clothes.

Seriously, I cant say how much I love this bag enough. It’s the perfect gym bag if you’re in the market for a new one!

 

Favorite Recent Costco Find: EVOL Burritos

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I picked these up from Costco last week when our usual burritos were out of stock. And I’m SOOO glad I did. These burritos are seriously the perfect “crap, I forgot to make lunch!” Meal! They are full of eggs, potatoes, and chilies so they are super filling and the perfect amount of spicy. Plus they are really convienent when you’re trying to scarf food in the car – always a plus.

Favorite Recent Read: Orphan Train

(source)

We read Orphan Train for book club this month, and I have to say that I think it might be one of my favorite books we’ve ever read! Bold statement, I know, but true!

This coming of age story jumps back and forth between the life of Molly, a misunderstood teenager in the fostwr care system who is spending her days doing community service with an old woman in her neighborhood, and Niemh, an Irish immigrant who is sent from New York to Minnesota on the Orphan Train in the 1930s and the story of her journey. Little did Molly and Niemh know how their lives and stories would intertwine.

This book was the perfect mix of history and coming of age and true love and hardship, that I could barely put it down! If you’re looking for a book that is both interesting and tugs at your heartstrings, this is definitely the book for you!

Favorite New App: Sleep Trackers

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Ever since I got my JawboneUp I’ve been fascinated by the sleep tracker function. Have you ever tried tracking your sleep? I’ve learned so much about myself from this month of tracking, and noticing common trends (like the fact that wine will knock me out, but give me a very fitful night of sleep!)

If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it. You can even get an app if you dont have a fitness tracker. Chris uses the SleepTime app and he loves it!

Favorite New Skincare Brand: Paula’s Choice

(source)

I’ve recently been trying to revamp my skincare and makeup routine to focus on more natural products. Your skin is transdermal after all – it soaks up all that stuff you put on it, the good and the bad! So I’ve been trying to replace some of the more chemical filled productd with ones that don’t contain the same ingredients as jet fuel or antifreeze. Because, well, gross.

One of the brands that I’ve found (thanks to the suggestion from Anna Lise at the Complexion Concierge – review coming soon!) Recently is Paula’s choice. Not only do they make a ton of great products in general, but they now have a naturals line which I love! If you’re looking for a new, higher end skincare line, I’d highly recommend checking them out!

Well there you have it, 5 random things that are making me happy this week!

So tell me: What’s making you have this week? Do you track your sleep? What is your favorite genre of books to read? Any exciting plans for the holiday weekend?

Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa Bake {Thirty Minute Thursday}

Happy Thursday!

I’m starting off today in quite the good mood. I finally got a decent night of sleep last night, and I’m feeling like a totally new girl this morning (side note: it’s sad when you qualify 7 hours of sleep as a “good night”. But hey, I’ll take what I can get!) It’s amazing what a few extra zzzs will do for you!

Which brings me to the next thing I’m super excited about: This recipe.

Thirty Minute Thursday

I made this a few weeks ago and I’m already craving it again. It started out as one of those random throw-together ideas because I was craving some Panera Broccoli Cheddar soup, and was too lazy to go get it. And then it just turned into this protein packed casserole that pretty much had Chris and I fighting over the leftovers.

In other words, make this. Now. You can thank me later.

Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa Bake - My Freckled Life

Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa Bake

Ingredients
- 2 cups uncooked quinoa (or 4 cups cooked)
- 4 cups chicken/vegetable broth
- 1 chicken breast, cubed
- 1 head of broccoli, chopped or 3 cups frozen broccoli
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tbsp butter
- 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs or panko
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Preheat over to 350.
2. Cook quinoa according to directions on package, replacing water with broth.
3. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30sec – 1min. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. Heat a bit of olive oil in same pan and add broccoli. Cook until slightly tender. Be careful not to overcook (it will cook more in tbe oven).
5. In sauce pan, heat milk and butter over medium-low heat. Add in 1/2 cup shredded cheddar. Stir until completely melted.
6. Mix quinoa, chicken, broccoli and cheese sauce. In a baking dish, layer half the quinoa mixture. Spread the rest of the cheese. Then add the rest of the quinoa. Top with bread cumbs or panko.
7. Place in oven and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until bubbling and slightly browned on top.
8. Serve and enjoy!

Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa Bake - My Freckled LifeBroccoli Cheddar Quinoa Bake - My Freckled LifeBroccoli Cheddar Quinoa Bake - My Freckled Life

For all my veggie friends, you could easily leave out the chicken and still have a protein packed meal!

Not only was this super easy to make and I had all the ingredients on hand, but it also made a ton of leftovers to eat throughout the week. There seriously is nothing better than a meal that you get to enjoy several times over!

Well since I’ve gotten all this wonderful sleep, I’m off to be productive this morning! Man, I need to get this much sleep more often, it’s a good feeling!

So tell me: What is your favorite restaurant meal to recreate or use as inspiration?

WIAW: Sandwich Edition

Happy Wednesday!

This week has absolutely flown by so far, which is A-Ok with me. Anything that helps us get to the weekend faster!

How has your week been so far? Mine has been pretty good, minus the fact that my sleep has been struggling hardcore lately. For the third night in a row I’ve woken up 3+ times during the night! Which means, of course, by the morning I dont want to get out of bed. Anyone else struggle with this? Any tips?

Anyway, let’s get to the really important stuff.

What I Ate Wednesday: FALL into Good Habits

That’s right, it’s time for another round of everybody’s favorite WIAW! If you’re not familiar with WIAW or want to see what other awesome bloggers are eating, head on over to Jenn’s blog for more information. Thanks for the link up, as always, Jenn!

Yesterday’s meals were all about sandwiches, which is funny because I’m not normally really a sandwich person. But for whatever reason, that seemed to be the theme of yesterday. I even sandwiched some mexican food in between my sandwiches. <—HA! See what I did there? Too early for jokes? Ok, my bad.

Anyway, let’s take a look.

Breakfast

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Yup, I’m still loving this egg, cheese and sriracha breakfast sandwich! I even got a glamour shot of it yesterday morning. Man, fast food joints ain’t got nothin’ on me – look at this beauty! Plus, thanks to the 2 eggs, this sucker seriously keeps me full from 6:30am – Noon!

Lunch

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First of all, how adorable is this stripey pumpkin that I picked up from Trader Joe’s the other day? I was so happy to bring him in and stick him on my desk for some fall cheer. It’s just so precious!

Anyway, I had a serious Mexican craving on Monday night, so I made up a big batch of ground turkey taco meat. Which of course means that I then get to eat Mexican all week long… oh darn! Yesterday I ended up throwing it on top of a salad, along with some shredded mexican cheese, salsa, and some tortilla chips for some crunch. Mexican perfection!

Snack

After my afternoon walk, I did snack on an apple and some peanut butter, which of course I completely forgot to capture on camera. I don’t know how I always end up forgetting to take a picture of my afternoon snack! Sorry, you’ll have to use your imagination.

Dinner

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So yea… this is what happens when I have about 10 minutes to make and eat dinner and get out the door. You get one of the most random meals of all time. I threw together a sandwich (apparently today I was all about the sandwich!) of leftover beer can chicken, spinach, ground pepper, and some olive oil mayo. Paired with some leftover refried beans and cheese. Told you, seriously, SERIOUSLY random. But it got the job done, and quickly! This is my real life, people!

Late-Night Snack

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By the time I got home from my meeting at 9:15, my stomach was still a little hungry. I guess that’s what I get for scarfing dinner at 6pm. So I scrounged around for a super small bowl of trader joes maple wheat cereal. I’m not usually a late-night snacker, but sometimes you just have to listen to your body. And mine was saying that it needed a little extra something-something. Who am I to turn that down? :)

Workout

Yesterday I was a touch low on time, and thus my workouts were a little bit on the simple side. But some movement is always better than none, right?

I had originally planned to run on my lunch break, but for some reason my right hamstring was feeling kind of tight from spin class on Monday. So instead of pushing it (the area I usually run is SUPER hilly), I just stuck to a 2 mile power walk during lunch. Still managed to work up a sweat, so at least it was something!

Once I got home from work I was really limited on time (see the thrown together meal above), so Chris and I took Laney on a quick walk around our neighborhood and called it a day.

So not exactly my usual hard-hitting workout, but I made it work.

Overall, not the best day, but not the worst day either. We’ve been super busy during the week lately, and have been turning more and more to the quick, throw together meals. Lesson learned – I need to do some more meal prep during the weekends!

Well, I’m off to work – have a great Wednesday!

So tell me: What did you eat today? What did your workouts look like? What is your go-to busy weeknight meal? Are you a food prepper? Any tips?