Tuesday Tangents

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I pretty much use my photos as a guideline for what to blog about.  I snap pictures of things to remind myself that things have happened or that I want to write about something, and then when it’s time to write, I look back and see what I took.  Usually it’s a pretty normal mix of food, scenery, and random screen shots, but every now and then I look through my pictures from the past few days and realize there’s a whole bunch of random ones in there. 

That’s what happened today.

Last night, my aunt sent me the birthday cake she’s making me this year:

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In case you can’t tell, those are all vegetables.  How creative is that?!  I was born the day before Thanksgiving, and every few years, my birthday falls on that Thursday, so we often celebrate it on the holiday since my whole family gets together anyway.  My aunt is the Pinterest queen, so I’m sure she could pull it off, too.  But for as much as I like veggies and healthy eating… I might like chocolate cake more.  Maybe we could have this as an appetizer first?

Secondly, remember how I showed you that picture of the Troll I found at my dad’s house when we were cleaning out my old toys over the weekend?  Well, I sent him a text asking him to put it aside for me since I forgot, and this is what I got back: 

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Okay, one is cute.  Three is… a little creepy. 

And speaking of pictures I got from my dad this week, check this one out:

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How beautiful is that?

It’s a tree from the cemetery across the street from his house, where he goes for walks sometimes, and it’s just another reminder of how beautiful Fall in New England is.  I literally can’t get enough of it.

And something I forgot to share yesterday is that I’ve decided what my next vehicle is going to be:

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Maybe not that one exactly, but I really want a truck.  It that weird because I’m a girl?  Whatever.

I love my car and it would be sad to part with it, but the thought of being able to throw my kayak, bike, and whatever else into the back of a truck and go is awesome.  I thought about an SUV but… eh.  I won’t be buying a new vehicle for a long time because I’m currently saving for other things, but hey, at least I have a plan!

And finally, to wrap up all of this randomness, how good is hibachi?  I went for a birthday dinner last night with a bunch of friends from work, and it was so much fun.  The chefs can really make or break the experience, but ours were great.   There was plenty of sake, fire, and food flinging, and my dinner was delicious. 

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That’s all I have for today… what’s the most random thing you’ve got going on this week?


Scenes From The Weekend

Hey there; Happy Monday! 

This weekend was pretty low-key, and I got to spend some time with my family.  We didn’t do all that much, and it was nice and relaxing – a good one all around.  

Friday after work, I headed home to meet up with my dad for dinner.  It was a filling dinner after a long drive, a long day, and a long week, so when I finally made it to my mom’s house, I was pretty wiped out.  I really wanted to stay up to watch Malala on 20/20, but I’ll have to catch up later this week because sleep won out pretty easily. 

Saturday morning, I took things pretty slow, skipping the gym in favor of sleeping in, and then I helped my mom act as chauffer for my cousins.  It’s funny to see them have games and practices and school dances and friends’ houses to get to, and it definitely took me back to my junior high, pre-license days.

Amidst the driving and errands, we made a pit-stop at Dunkins.  It might be fall, but I’m hanging on to the days of iced tea while I still can!

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It really was quite chilly on Saturday though, and my mom warmed us up with some of her delicious homemade chili for lunch. 

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And for dessert: my aunt’s homemade pumpkin whoopie pies.  Boy, do I love being home!

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After lunch, my mom, cousin, and I hit the mall (along with every one else in the city, apparently) so I could return a couple of dresses. 

Can you believe they’re already decorating for Christmas?  It will be here before we know it!

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The rest of Saturday was basically spent eating and lounging on the couch… the epitome of a lazy (and perfect) weekend.  The weather was too cool and wet (i.e gloomy) to do much else, so it was the perfect movie night.  We got Chinese food and Step Up was on TV, so you better believe I was parked on the couch watching Channing and Jenna shake it for three hours.  (Best three hours of my week…)

Sunday morning, there was more sleeping in, and then I went over to my dad’s house to hang out for a while.  We walked up the street for breakfast and I ordered the blueberry pancakes.  (I’ll start eating better today, I promise.  They sounded really good on the menu but my stomach hated me afterwards.) 

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My dad’s Fall décor has officially taken over his house, and I love it.  He is always very festive and has the best decorations, and this year is no different.  I love when people can really get in the spirit!

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We spent a little time cleaning out some of my old toys, and I came across a few of my old favorites.  Does anyone else remember playing with Trolls?  We gave away quite a bit of the stuff, but I kept a couple special things, like the Lincoln Logs I used to play with my grandfather. 

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Once I was ready to head back home, I packed up and hit the road.  Along the way, I stopped at the grocery store to get food for the week, did some unpacking and meal prepping when I got home, and spent the rest of the night cleaning up, watching America’s Funniest Videos, and writing up this post.  Like I said – a pretty low-key weekend, but definitely a good one!


People Are Friendly Here

Hey there… happy Friday! 

Before I go over all the really important stuff like how much I lifted and what I ate this week, I just have to share something: It’s a simple thing really, but I love living in a place where people are actually friendly – not friendly out of convenience or politeness, but truly, genuinely friendly. 

The other day, I had to go to an appointment on the other side of town, and once I finished up, I realized I was right near an apple orchard that a co-worker had told me about.  It was a beautiful afternoon, and it was only a couple miles away, so I decided to take a few minutes to go check it out.  It was at the end of this really long, narrow back road, up this windy dirt hill, and the scenery was immediately breathtaking – the epitome of Fall in New England.

It was smaller than I expected, and the orchard, greenhouses, and farm stand were located on someone’s personal property, but the signs were all handmade and very welcoming.  I parked and got out of my car, already astounded by the beauty of the area I live in, when I was greeted by the owner.  She was a cheerful woman who asked me how I was doing, what I was looking for, and how I heard about them.  We chatted for a few minutes, and she told me all about her family-run orchard and seemed genuinely happy that I was there.  I bought some apple cider and told her I’d be back – and I meant it.

But that’s not even what really got me.

As I was leaving, driving back down the long, narrow road home, there was this old man in the street blowing leaves.  He was old and a little frail-looking, but when he saw me coming, he backed out of the road and shut off the leaf blower so I could go by.  I slowed down and waved with the window down, expecting nothing more than an acknowledging nod, but the smile he returned was so full of happiness that it literally made me feel better inside.  It’s not that I was necessarily having a bad day, but his smile was just so genuinely warm and… friendly… that it made my day that much better.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the rat race – running to and from work and school and errands and obligations – that we forget to be nice to other people.  We forget how much a smile can make someone’s day or that asking how someone is (and truly caring about the answer) can actually mean something to that person.  I don’t know who that man was, but he seemed like somebody I’d like to know, and I wish I could thank him for that.

I’ve never been someone who goes out of my way to talk to strangers, but there’s something about living in a small town, where people are genuinely friendly and interested and caring, that makes you want to be the same.  Living here, I’ve found myself smiling at people in the grocery store, making small talk with the lady behind the counter at the bakery, and going out of my way to ask my neighbors how their day is going.  These might seem like small things, but I’ve found that it’s important to me, and that it’s really enriched my life.

And honestly, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

I had lunch at the bakery and café down the street from my work the other day, sitting outside under the apple tree to enjoy the beautiful Fall weather, and everything felt perfect.

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The homemade chicken, spinach, and white bean soup was delicious… (and so was the pumpkin whoopie pie I may or may not have gobbled up for dessert.)  I tried a sparkling apple Izze juice, which I loved, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.

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Seeing this temperature on my way to the gym the other morning wasn’t necessarily awesome… but hey, I can deal with it.

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Speaking of the gym: I’ve been really working hard this week, and I’m excited to keep it up.  Our group is determined to set and achieve some goals this winter, and I’m committed to really getting better.  It was my friend’s 32nd birthday on Wednesday, so we did 32 reps of each exercise in his honor.  It was tough, and halfway through, I was certainly wishing he was only turning 25!

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And if all that wasn’t enough, I’ve created a pretty cozy little spot for myself at home, too.  It still needs a little bit of work (and I should probably start using the kitchen table instead of eating dinner on the couch every night), but it’s home – and I love it.

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I hope you are all having a fantastic day – and I hope you get the chance to do something to make someone else’s just a little better, too.

Have a fabulous weekend and I’ll catch you on Monday! Smile


Apple Cinnamon Banana Waffles

I’ve been on a serious apple kick lately – partly because it’s Fall and partly because I still have a huge bag of apples left from apple picking two weekends ago.  I’ve made apple crisp and applesauce so far, and last weekend, I used some of them to top banana waffles.  It may be a bit of apple overload, but it was cold and gloomy on Saturday morning, and this was the perfect Fall breakfast to warm me up. 

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For the waffles:

  • Process 1/4 cup of oats in the food processor.  Add in 1 banana, 2 eggs, 1 tbsp almond flour, and cinnamon (optional) and blend well.  For best results, let the batter sit for a few minutes while you heat up your waffle iron, and then pour in the batter once it’s ready.  Let them cook and then remove them.

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For the apple cinnamon topping:

  • Peel, core, and thinly slice an apple.  Put the apple slices into a small saucepan with 2 tbsp maple syrup, 2 tbsp apple cider, and a dash of cinnamon sugar.  (Okay, I used more than a dash.  I am a cinnamon fiend.)  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and let simmer for several minutes, stirring occasionally.  (It’s important to stir or the maple syrup could stick and burn.)  The longer you let the apples cook, the softer they will be, and the more the apples will absorb the flavors of the maple and cinnamon.  Once done, pour topping over waffles and enjoy!  

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If you have some whipped cream and you’re into that sort of thing, I would highly recommend topping these babies with some of that.  I’m pretty sure that’s the only thing that could make them more delicious. 

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What other ways have you been using apples this season?  I need all the ideas I can get!


Use It Up

Lately, my diet has been a little… wild.  (For me, anyway.)  And my body has been paying for it. 

I think it all started back when I got my wisdom teeth out.  At first, I could only eat certain things, and most of them weren’t on my normal foods list.  Then, when I could finally eat normal foods again, I was feeling so hungry and deprived that I shoveled in anything and everything I could get my hands on.  And then I started this pattern of going out to eat a lot and getting bored with my normal foods, so I’d switch it up and bring back things I used to eat – like cheese, a lot of cheese.  And things have seemed to just spiral downhill from there. 

But then I remembered why I stopped eating all those things:

Pimples.

Stomach aches.

Lethargy. 

Weight gain.

Decreased performance.

Trouble sleeping.

Yup, now I remember. 

So in an effort to get myself back on track, I’ve been trying to clean all the junk out of my apartment –  all the cookies and candy and bread and bagels and pasta and cheese I’ve accumulated over the last few weeks, even if it is gluten-free.  For a long time, I didn’t eat any of this stuff, but then, slowly but surely, somewhere along the way, I started reintroducing them.  I’d buy a loaf of cinnamon raisin gluten-free bread here, a bag of candy corn there, and I guess I started to feel good enough that I thought I could handle them and it wouldn’t matter.  

But it did. 

(I probably should’ve known that subsisting solely on candy corn wasn’t a suitable plan, but I guess I got distracted by the pretty colors on the trees.)  Anyways, you can bet that I probably won’t be straying from the usual meats/fruits/veggies/nuts/seeds diet again anytime soon. 

It just works for me.  And now I know.  

I guess sometimes it just takes a little reminder, and I certainly got one. 

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I really hate to waste food, so for the most part, I have just been using up what I can.  I threw out the rest of the cheese in my fridge because I just couldn’t deal with it anymore, but when it comes to the things that don’t bother me quite as much, I’ve just been eating them.  It’s a little counterintuitive given that I know it’s not going to help me, but I’m not made of money and throwing away food – no matter how junky – is just not cool.

For lunch the other day, I made a wrap with one of the rice tortillas I had left in the freezer.  I filled it with chicken, red peppers, spinach, and a little habanero salsa, and I had some Cape Cod chips on the side.  It was a delicious lunch – and not terrible, nutrition-wise – but I still think I’m going to be saying goodbye to chips and tortillas for a while.  It’s a slippery slope, people. 

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When it comes to workouts, that’s another area I’m really refocusing myself on.  It’s easy to skip workouts in the summer because I’m so busy and still active in other ways, but in the winter, there’s less of an excuse not to get to the gym.  There’s much less going on, and thus much more time that can be spent in the gym – and plus, I have goals to reach

Here’s what Monday and Tuesday’s workouts looked like:

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I got to the gym a little earlier this week, and it made a big difference in what I was able to accomplish.  I go to bed early and I get plenty of sleep, so there’s no reason I can’t get there earlier.  (Usually I spend a half hour on Facebook or Instagram or YouTube instead of just getting out the door when I wake up anyway.) 

So that’s my plan… now let’s just hope I can stick to it!


Honey Nut Apple Crisp

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with all those apples I got from apple picking a couple of weeks ago, and apple crisp was on the top of my list.  It is the quintessential Fall treat, and I feel like everyone should make it at least once every single Autumn. 

With that said, I knew I’d most likely be the only one to eat it unless I brought it somewhere to share, so I didn’t want to make a huge batch loaded with butter and sugar and end up eating it every night for two weeks.  Instead, I did a little thinking and tried to come up with something a lot healthier that could serve as breakfast, dessert, or even a snack.  I was a little nervous to alter the classic original, but I went for it, and I was really pleased with the results.  My version doesn’t taste exactly like traditional apple crisp, but it’s chewy, sweet, and delicious, plus it’s packed with good-for-you ingredients. 

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Ingredients:

  • 4 apples, medium
  • 1 lemon OR 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 c macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 c cashews
  • 1/4 c sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c almond meal
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

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Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400*F
  • Peel, core, and slice apples. 
  • Layer apples in a 9”x9” baking dish.  Drizzle with the juice from the lemon or the apple cider vinegar.  (I didn’t have lemons but I realize a lot of people don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand.)

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  • Pulse macadamia nuts and cashews in a food processor until chopped into small chunks.  (If you don’t have a food processor, just put them in a bag and crush with a cup.  You can chop them as much or as little as you want, according to your tastes.) 

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  • Pour nuts into a medium mixing bowl and add in sunflower seeds and cinnamon.  (Fair warning:  I like a lot of cinnamon.  If you don’t like it as much, you should use less.)

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  • Melt honey and coconut oil and stir together.
  • Pour melted honey and oil into nuts/seeds mixture and mix until combined. 

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  • Layer mixture on top of apples, spreading evenly. 

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  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top is crunchy and browned. 

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Store covered in the refrigerator.  This dish is great served warm or cold, as a breakfast, dessert, or snack.  If you want to get really wild, throw a little ice cream on top of there and go to town! 

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A Weekend To Myself

Once I realized that the weather wasn’t going to be all that great this weekend, I decided to make it a stay-at-home, relax, and get-things-done one, and that’s exactly what I did.

Friday afternoon, I met up with a friend for lunch, and we went to a new-to-me Japanese restaurant in town.  I wasn’t sure what to expect because I don’t like sushi, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I ordered the hibachi chicken at my friend’s recommendation, and it was one of the most delicious hibachi dishes I’ve had.  The vegetables were perfectly cooked, and it made me want to recreate it at home. 

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After work, I hit the grocery store to get that done for the week, and then I spent the rest of the night relaxing.  There was once a time where I might’ve thought it lame to be at home on the couch on a Friday night, but after a long week of work, it was right where I wanted to be! 

And getting to bed early on a Friday night is even better when it means you’ve gotten a full night of good rest and can get up for a 6am Saturday workout feeling totally refreshed.  I guess we were the only ones feeling awake and energized so early though because our little group had the whole gym to ourselves! 

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Saturdays at the gym are always a little more drawn out and less structured since I often have much more time to spend there, and this weekend was just that way.  I spent some time working on my snatch technique, overhead squats, and handstand pushups, and then I got in just a little bit of rowing before we started the WOD.  It was an especially tough one (I thought), with a 12-minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible in 12 minutes) of thrusters and burpees. 

We started with three and three, then six and six, then nine and nine, and so on until the 12 minutes was up.  I started at the prescribed thrusters weight of 75# but stripped my bar down to 55# after the 12-rep round, and I ended up getting through the 18 thrusters before the clock ran out.  I was fine with it this time, but hopefully next time I won’t have to lose that extra weight! 

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Once I got home from the gym, I decided to make a nice leisurely breakfast, since I didn’t really have anything else on the agenda for the day.  I’ll be sure to write up the whole recipe later this week, but let me tell you, these banana waffles topped with cinnamon apples definitely did not disappoint.  They were like the epitome of an October breakfast, and the only thing that could’ve made them any better would’ve been a dollop of whipped cream.

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I’m not sure if it was the early wakeup call, the tough workout, the filling breakfast, or the cool, gloomy weather, but after breakfast, I laid down on the couch, and I didn’t wake up until two hours later.  I didn’t think I felt tired, but I guess a rainy morning with no plans will do that to you! 

Once I got myself together, I decided to do a little shopping and try to knock off some projects that are on my list.  I want to find a vanity, small dresser, or shelves that I can repurpose and use to store my makeup and jewelry in my bedroom, so I’ve been looking everywhere for the perfect piece.  I’ve looked at actual furniture stores, but new furniture really does nothing for me; I love the charm of old, rustic looking furniture, and I want to be able to make it look exactly how I want it to, like I did with my coffee tables and dresser. 

I’ve been stopping by the local consignment shops about every other week, and I haven’t found anything yet, but I’m sure I will if I’m patient.  They did have a couple of pieces that caught my eye, but the perfect piece just hasn’t jumped out at me yet. 

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I also ran some other errands while I was out, one of which included stopping by the new Kohl’s to check it out.  When you live in a small town with no mall, the opening of a big new store is quite the ordeal, and I get that.  Since it opened a week ago though, I thought the hysteria would’ve calmed down by now – but I was wrong.  It was packed, and after a quick (really quick) lap around the store, I hightailed it out of there.  I’ve grown to sort of really hate crowds – especially when combined with shopping.

The rest of Saturday and pretty much the entirety of Sunday was spend lounging around my apartment, doing a few chores, cooking up a storm, and watching a million episodes of Army Wives on Netflix.  It feels good to have a weekend like that every once in a while, and the cold, rainy weather was exactly what I needed to not feel guilty about spending 90% of the weekend on the couch in my pajamas.  I love going out with friends and hanging with my family, but sometimes, I just need a weekend to myself at home in my sweats!

When it came time for dinner last night, I decided to bring back an old classic.  Remember when I used to make this pasta dinner at least once a week?  I was browsing through old bog posts and came across it and it looked delicious, so I decided to resurrect it. 

I started by chopping up some spinach, tomatoes, red peppers, and chicken (which I cooked earlier in the day), while the pasta cooked. 

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I cooked up the red peppers first, then tossed in the rest of the ingredients, along with some olive oil, crushed red pepper, garlic, and basil. 

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I let the whole thing cook for a little while on low while I did some dishes and got today’s lunch ready, and when it was all done, I garnished it with a little bit of shredded parmesan cheese.  I haven’t been as strict with my diet lately (pasta… parmesan cheese…) and I’ve been paying for it in the stomach aches/bloating department, but this meal may have been worth it.  It was totally delicious and definitely warmed my belly on a cool Sunday night! 

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Now I’m thinking that it might be a good idea to take a trip down blog-memory lane and see what other old meals I can bring back into my life! 

What did you do this weekend? Anything fun?

What’s something that you haven’t made in a while that you should bring back?


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