Monday, September 30, 2013

Halloween Week

Chocolate-Caramel Doughnut Holes

Sometimes I just need something sweet, hilarious, no?  Because my entire career is going to be dedicated to taking care of sweet tooth cravings and repairing cavities, I naturally need to create work for colleagues and indulge in red wine and chocolate doughnuts myself.  I found the recipe last week while I was looking for Halloween desserts and it looked too good to not try it. These doughnuts, while they take longer than expected, are completely worth the trouble. They taste delicious and make a box of munchkins look like an acceptable daily breakfast. Try them, you will not be disappointed. 
{Set out all necessary ingredients}
{Mix all dry ingredients together as directed}
{Mix wet ingredients separately; once consistent, combine wet ingredients with dry}
{I froze the rest of the buttermilk because it goes bad quickly; easy for weekend pancakes}
{Mix dough on counter until smooth}
{Roll until 1/3 " thick}
{I didn't have a circular cookie cutter, so I used a snowflake instead}
{It was easy to pinch the sides together}
{Set all snowflakes/shapes out for filling}
{I halved the caramels to maximize melting}
{Place 1/2 caramel in each snowflake/shape}
{I kept them on baking sheets and in doughnut trays while other doughnuts were being fried}
{Payton wanted to help; sadly she couldn't taste test the doughnuts}
{P.S. I rolled the fried doughnuts in brown sugar instead of granulated because I like to break rules}

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Five

{Me at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, UK; the birthplace of the Beatles}
Sometimes we all have those weeks where loved ones see the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of us; this week was one of those weeks.  I am nearing the finish line of a large project that has had me very, very distracted. I had some wonderful days amongst some not so wonderful days, but that’s ok! I am back to being my normal self and ready to have a great weekend. In addition to the DVR being full of my fall TV premieres, I am looking forward to a blogger brunch at Quay and watching the Bears game with family. Because this week was filled with emotion, I thought I would share five songs with you that got me through the week (in video format). Have a great weekend!!
  • Here Comes the Sun (The Beatles)
  • I and Love and You (Avett Brothers)
  • American Woman (The Guess Who)
  • Sail (Awolnation)
  • Black Balloon (The Goo Goo Dolls)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

October Bucket List

Even though I am sad summer is officially over, I am so excited for this coming October. It will be busy and hectic, but full of fun! Additionally, I have many new things planned for the blog this October, including a full Halloween week with themed recipes, décor, and costumes. If there is anything you’d like me to post about, let me know! For today, I have compiled a list of ten things I want to do this coming October. I know the month will go quickly, but I want to make sure it is packed with fall activities and plenty of family time.

1.      Watch a sunrise in the park with coffee and donuts. I love when the leaves change and I’ve always wanted to see it at sunrise!
2.      Go to a pumpkin patch for a day and enjoy hot apple cider.
3.      Try a new pumpkin seed recipe; I have a few in mind!
4.      Tailgate at a college football game.
5.      Go to Fright Fest at Six Flags. I haven’t been for over a decade and in years past, it didn’t go well.
6.      Host a Halloween Party!
7.      Dress up for Halloween and watch the Original Halloween movie with pizza. A tradition that started while I was in high school. I’m sure I’ll add wine now.
8.      Go on another Goose Island Brewery tour. We had so much fun on the last tour and a beer tasting sounds like the perfect fall activity.
9.      Complete a DIY project for the apartment.

10.  Go to an Oktoberfest and celebrate the right way (beer, pretzels, fried pickles). 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall Leather

{Urban Outfitters blazer, Reiss skirt, Collective Concepts shirt, vintage necklace, Nordstrom boots, Kate Spade bag, Chanel sunglasses, Nails: Essie's "Bordeaux"}
On Monday, I met a few fellow bloggers for a Happy Hour at The Goddess and Grocer. We had a fabulous time and I wanted to make sure that I looked like fall. Earlier in the day, I had skimmed through the October 2013 In Style and was inspired by an ad from Ralph Lauren. The outfit transitions perfectly from day to night and was a good choice for our get together. The leather skirt is just edgy enough for me and the black blazer and tights made it feel sophisticated. I’m sure I’ll be using the black-olive-camel color combination several times this season. 

{Camera man was getting too funny for his own good...}

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall Spinning Playlist and Work Out

I have always been an active person. There are definite couch-potato benefits that I indulge; however, I cannot sit still for too long before I find myself itching for an activity. As a little girl, I took up dance and yoga, two activities that I mastered and I still enjoy. Unfortunately, my University didn’t have a strong dance program, but it did introduce me to Spinning. I instantly fell in love with this group fitness phenomenon, so much so, that I became a certified instructor and taught classes three times a week. Since leaving school I have not had the time to take up teaching again, but I still have my Spinning playlists and give myself classes whenever I get the urge to challenge myself. It’s a wonderful workout that anyone, and I mean anyone, can enjoy.

Yesterday morning, I gave myself a spinning class using a stationary bike in our fitness room and I thought I’d share my work out! If you want to use it…great! The easiest way to do the workout is make the playlist and print out the blog post. Bring it with you and fold it so it fits on the spin bike handlebars. If your gym has spin bikes, go ahead and use one if there isn’t a class scheduled. Any stationary bike with resistance will work, but spin bikes are built for the resistance and versatility. Go at your own speed and remember to have fun!

This work out is an interval work out and timed at 45 minutes. If you are a beginner, just do as much as you can! Remember that simply sitting on the bike and pedaling with minimal resistance is still a work out! (Note: the first time I did a Spin workout, I almost didn’t make it through the class—friends can attest).


-        Heads Will Roll (3:42) Yeah Yeah Yeahs
o   For your first song, just get used to the bike. Make sure there is enough resistance on your pedals. You should feel like you are pushing the pedals. On a scale of 1-10, you should be pushing at a 3 or 4. Keep your abs in, your shoulders relaxed, and your back straight. This would be a good time to make sure you have water and a towel.
-        Pour Some Sugar On Me (4:53) Def Leppard
o   Go ahead and add enough resistance on your bike so you can stand up and run. On a scale of 1-10 it should be about a 5-6. You should be able to move the pedals without them skipping. During the chorus, take it to a climb (or hand position 3). After this song you should be warmed up.

Interval 1:

-        Fat Bottomed Girls (4:16) Queen
o   Start on a flat road, sitting down, and resistance should be about a 4. I pedal to the beat of the music, so it should be pretty fast. If you haven’t already, turn up your music. It’s more fun that way. After two minutes, stand up, cut the beat in half, and run. Make sure you adjust the resistance so your feet don’t skip. If you want, start figure 8’s* when you stand.
-        Sail (4:21) Awolnation  
o   Jumps here! Take the faster beat and we are going to ladder the jumps. It’s easy to find the beat here, the beginning points it out. Start in a run and start jumps once singing starts; 8 counts up –one count equals a full pedal rotation with both right and left leg-, 8 counts down (3x); 4 and 4 (3x); 2 and 2 (6x); 1 and 1 (6x); 2 and 2 (6x); 4 and 4 (3x); 8 and 8 (6x); finish the rest of the song in a run. Make sure you use your legs, don’t cheat and pull yourself up with your hands. Land softly and with control.
-        You and I (5:07) Lady Gaga
o   Circuits here! Just like jumps, but you go: sit-run-climb-run-sit = 1 circuit. Find the beat and start when you are ready! 4 count circuits the whole song! You can do it! Rest song next!!!
-        Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked (2:56) Cage the Elephant
o   This is your rest song. You are half-way done! This doesn’t mean relax. It should still be hard. Your resistance should be between a 4-5 out of 10. If you relax too much and let your heart rate come down to resting it will be SO hard to start working again. Once you catch your breath, add resistance and stand to run. Light run.

Interval 2:

-        Radioactive (3:06) Imagine Dragons
o   Light climb here. Get lost in the music. Turn it up. Resistance between a 6 and 7. This is a good song to check form. Abs still in, shoulders still down, ass still down/back over the seat of the bike. Your hands shouldn’t be gripping the life out of the bike. No white knuckles. This is where your body starts to work. You already know how to get tired, which is what you did during the first interval. This is the time to burn fat and use those muscles. WORK.
-        Amazing (3:58) Kanye West
o   Intense climb to one of my favorite songs. You should be exhausted after this song. Resistance at an 8 or 9. (10 being, the pedals won’t move). The beat is slow; keep your abs in, hands in position 3. Keep your butt BACK over the seat. Smile. The song slows, then a new beat starts, when it does, add more resistance!! DO IT. This is hard. If you aren’t tired, you are not doing it correctly. Think about why you are spinning. Why are you at the gym? Think about it. Holiday season? New boyfriend? Old boyfriend? To eat a pizza later? You are already working out, just do it!
-        Holy Grail (5:38) Jay-Z
o   Take the first few minutes of this song to sit on a flat road and breathe. Resistance at 4-5. Breathe. Drink some water. Find the quicker beat, settle in. Flat road doesn’t mean easy song. Feel your legs working. Instead of peddling “down,” think about peddling in a circle. The rotation is a clock. Push out with your quad to “3 o’clock” and pull up with your hamstrings from “8 o’clock” to “12 o’clock.” Push pull with your muscles. Abs in and breathe. Shoulders down.
-        Roar (3:42) Katy Perry
o   When you are ready, add enough resistance to do a light run. Make sure your abs are in and your hands are light on the handlebars. This is your chance to move around the bike. Use this song and do whatever you want. If you like jumps, do more. If you like circuits, do that. If you want to sprint, do that. Take this song to work out whatever you want to work out, but make sure you are doing just that…no cheating.
-        Cherry Pie (3:21) Warrant
o   For anyone that has ever taken my spinning class before, I am notorious for using this song at the end of a class. PICKUPS. This is the last song of the workout and it is your chance to wipe out and empty your tanks. Every chorus, add the resistance and pedal as fast as you can. Resistance is important so you don’t lose control of the bike. Add it on and work!!!!!!!! There are three pick-ups in this song and the last one is doubled in length! Last chance to make the most of the work out!.

Cool Down
-        Here Comes the Sun (3:06) The Beatles

o   Slow the pedals down and when you are ready, get off the bike and stretch.  You did it!!! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall Walgreens Haul

Every time I go to Walgreens, I end up coming out with ten times more than I originally planned on purchasing; Target is the other place where my purchases get out of control. This past weekend on an impromptu trip to Walgreens, I went in with two items in mind and came out with my haul. There is something so fun about picking a new nail polish or trying a new lotion and I simply can’t help but pick it up. Here is what I got:

1.      Aveeno Shea and Cocoa Butter Moisturizer. With fall here, and winter coming, it gets so dry in our apartment. Moisturizer is essential!
2.      Biore Pore Strips: I can’t help myself. I love these things.
3.      Bobby Pins: as a dancer and a girl in general, you can never have too many bobby pins.
4.      Scunii Hair Clips: I always seem to lose my clips, or one-three of the prongs are broken. Perfect for throwing my hair up when I don’t want to deal with it.
5.      Eucalyptus Epsom salts: I love using Epsom salts after a hard work out or for an at home pedicure. The eucalyptus scent goes well with our fall apartment.
6.      Essie nail polish: I have about 20 of these and I love them. My fall color picks were: Wicked, Bordeaux, and Mademoiselle.
7.      Trim Nail Files: with new nail polish comes a new, pink nail file
8.      Fall magazines: the Real Simple cover was too cute to not purchase.

Favorite purchase: Eucalyptus Epsom salts

Terrible truth: the two items I wanted to find…I didn’t! Looks like I will have another Walgreens trip in my future.

{So cute and great fall recipes included!}

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Five

{A beautiful view of the Wrigley building on a clear, Chicago night}
This week has gone by quickly and I haven’t been this ready for a weekend in a while. Between working on applications, studying, and re-kindling my blog, I can’t wait to enjoy the cool, sunny weather Chicago has promised. I am excited to start work on a new segment for the blog-that I will be introducing next week- and enjoy some down time. In the meantime, here are five things currently making me happy. Have a great weekend! xx
{A dainty infinity bracelet from a recent swing by Nordstrom}
{My favorite bagel from Oxford's Bagel and Deli--a must whenever I'm back at Miami}
{The white cake with raspberries and hazelnuts I baked to celebrate a milestone}
{My favorite card from my Disney Villain Monopoly set}

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Italian Wedding Soup

Last night’s rain and the recent cold weather inspired me to make soup for dinner last night; that, and watching Ina Garten make Italian Wedding Soup last week. I think I had only ever tried Italian Wedding soup once before and I was six. Clearly, I chose to not care for it because it wasn’t Campbell’s ‘chicken and stars’ soup. Unfortunately, for my six-year-old self, I have to say that last night’s soup has become a new favorite. It was delicious, easy, and extremely healthy. It’s the perfect soup to make a couple of days ahead of time and warm up in the crock-pot. We made these meatballs, but any favorite meatball would be perfectly fine. To make it vegetarian, simply sub out the meatballs for something you like: tomatoes, eggplant, tofu etc. With fall approaching, this soup will definitely be on my mind. 
{Soften a medium, yellow onion, a couple of carrots, and 3 stalks of celery-a traditional mille-poix-in a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil}
{Make the meatballs small enough to fit on your spoon}
{Add a box of chicken stock, 1 cup of dry, white wine, and 6 cups of water to the mille-poix; bring to a boil; Once boiling, add a box of small pasta-Ditalini, Orzo etc.}
{Cook meatballs at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until browned and cooked through}
{Add meatballs once pasta is cooked to Al-Dente}
{Add a few handfuls of baby will reduce down quickly}
{Once  spinach is reduced, turn off the heat and serve immediately; if making soup a day or two before serving, do not add spinach until a few minutes before it is served to prevent wilted, over-cooked spinach}
{Add salt and pepper to taste}
{Serve with bread for dipping and accompany with a glass-or two- of the wine in the broth!}

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mary Janes

Every time I am at a department store, I swing by the shoes and take a few minutes to dream. I know it’s cliché, but I really, really love shoes (seen here and here). During my last Nordstrom visit, I spotted these black, Manolo Blahnik Mary Jane pumps. I already have an affinity for all things black, but one can never have too many pairs of black pumps. They go with everything. I could pair them with jeans and a sweater, a lacy cocktail dress, or even a pair of nice leggings and an oversized trench. Unfortunately, I opted to not purchase them on account of my next bank statement, but I can’t stop thinking about them! What do you think?

P.S. These Mary Jane pumps would look great with this bag, this sweater, and these jeans. 
P.P.S. Jan 1st-Dec 31 I'd wear a large scarf like this, too. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fall Tray

Hello! I’m sorry for my long absence but I am back and blog posts will appear regularly. I while ago I found a pin on Pinterest about how to properly decorate and fill a tray. I took a stab at it and was surprisingly pleased with the results. The fall colors look beautiful in our dark dining room and I am happy every time I walk by the tray and see the small deer from Pier 1. I found maroon eucalyptus at our local Treasure Island and it took a week of me walking back and forth to succumb and buy some. I used the extra eucalyptus arrangements to decorate other areas of our apartment. It smells like fall and I can’t wait to experiment with a winter tray!What do you think?