spring recipes + that time I just kept running

HAPPY FRIDAY! Anyone else feeling particularly sunny this morning?

Happy spring days make me crave country music like no other. I know country music is pretty polarizing – you either love it or you hate it. But I love it and you’re reading my blog so listen or keeeeep scrolling :)

I had such a great night last night! I got off work and knew I needed to go for a run. I rushed home, changed my clothes, and headed out to the lake.

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It was one of those runs where I really pushed myself. Not in speed, but in distance. I set out to run four miles but just kept going! Six miles in the books. It’s exactly what I said a few days ago – get me outside and my running potential soars. And we all know good runs put us in the best mood, so I woke up with a lingering runners high.

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In other random news I’ve moved passed egg sandwiches and am back on the Kashi train. Kashi + tonssss of fruit + chia seeds + almond milk is the way to go in these upcoming spring/summer months.

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And I thought I hid it pretty well that I didn’t shower yesterday but look at that ‘do. Hair errrywhere.

I’m pretty excited for this Easter weekend! It’s going to be so fun to spend the next two days with my family. We have cooking, bowling, and brunch plans so it really doesn’t get much better than that. After hours upon hours of Pinterest-hunting we have our final menu put together, but since I wasn’t able to include all the deliciousness that I found I figured I’d share the recipes with you. If you’re celebrating Easter this weekend or are just in the mood to try out a new recipe, check these out.

Spring Recipes

Cheesecake Fruit Salad

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Carrot Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

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Croque Monsieurs

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Creme Brulee Muffins

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Lemon Sugar Cookies

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Frozen Butterfinger Mousse Pie

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Primavera Quiche

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Is your mouth watering yet? Food-centered holidays are the best, aren’t they?

Have a great Friday!

Question:

  • What are your plans this weekend?
  • Do you like country music?
  • Which of these recipes looks the best?

Tomato-Basil & Havarti Grilled Cheese (recipe)

You guys, it would be a sin, a downright sin, if I didn’t share this recipe with you. I’ve never been an easy girl to please in the grilled cheese department. If you hand me some Kraft singles in between Wonder Bread I’ll shoot you a stink eye like none other. That kind of simplicity just doesn’t do it for me. But hey, I’m an American, so of course I love throwing cheese, butter and bread together and calling it a meal. Here’s the quick, easy, and did I mention cheap recipe I threw together last night. PS whatever you do, do not be afraid of Havarti. It tastes like butter. It’s basically a butter and butter sandwich. So just make it.

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Tomato-Basil & Havarti Grilled Cheese

Makes 2 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • Loaf of fresh Italian bread
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 bunch basil (3 leaves per sandwich)
  • Butter
  • 2 slices of Havarti cheese

Directions:

  • Heat skillet to medium heat
  • Soften the butter so it’s spreadable
  • Slice four pieces of Italian bread, about ½ inch thick each
  • Spread the butter on one side of all four pieces of bread
  • Once the skillet is hot, place two slices of bread butter-side down in the pan
  • Layer each piece with the cheese first, then topped with the tomato and three leaves of basil
  • Top the sandwiches with the final two slices of bread, butter-side up
  • Put lid on top to help the cheese melt
  • After about three minutes, check if the bottoms of the sandwiches are crispy and light brown. If so, flip ‘em over!
  • Press down on the sandwiches periodically. It’s not a Panini but the cheese and veggies will mesh perfectly together with just a few nudges
  • Once the other side is light brown and crispy, you’re all set!

I ate my sandwich in two minutes. So there’s that. Enjoy!

Question:

  • What’s your favorite style of grilled cheese? For me, there has to be tomato in there.

let’s talk about foooood

Remember how we’ve been talking about how spring makes you want to eat lots of veggies and lighter foods? Well, I’m definitely not at the point when I wake up every morning jonesing for a spinach smoothie and a kale salad, but I’ve loving some greens lately! I deserve some credit considering winter seems to have poked it’s head back after a 75 degree weekend. I have no freaking idea how this keeps happening, but yesterday I left work and had to walk home IN THE SNOW. On April 16th. Granted it’s less than an inch but seriously? Seeing white on the ground after a weekend spent playing outside in shorts and a t-shirt isn’t just depressing, it’s downright mind-boggling. I’m not an environment fanatic but these dramatic changes within days is pretty scary. Hopefully spring gets it’s act together asap.

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Moral of the story is, maybe if I keep eating my greens I’ll FORCE spring to come. Yeah, that’ll happen. 

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Greens with roasted butternut squash, pecans, apples, craisins, blue cheese, and a white wine vinaigrette

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Omelet with spinach, red pepper flakes and cheddar cheese

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Makeshift salad with black beans, corn, green peppers, tomatoes, avocado and topped with garlic salt and cumin

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My new favorite snack: roasted sweet potato and peanut butter

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Cheese fries – wait, who put that there? Not green in the least but I can never say no to Portillos

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Blueberry banana oatmeal and TJ’s green juice (delicious, by the way)

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Cobb salad with salmon and Mediterranean vinaigrette

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TJ’s Multigrain “Cheerios” with chopped dates

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The best grilled fish tacos I’ve ever had!! Plus tots. The perfect meal

Okay and now I’m HUNGRY. Breakfast time :) Have a great day!

Question:

  • What are you eating for breakfast today? Inspire me!

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get-me-outside plyos workout

In an attempt to shake things up, Zain and I went outside recently to put together a new workout.  I’m pretty good and getting caught up in workout ruts, so having the chance to put together something new was a blast! I felt like Jillian Michaels, Jr.

We wanted to do something short and intense instead of the typical slow, steady sweat session that I sometimes get caught up in. Zain grew up in Texas and played football in high school so needless to say we had a whole arsenal of plyos workouts to choose from. I also have experience with plyos from back in the day when I played varsity basketball and our team would join the football players for their outdoor plyos workouts. I remember being on the football field running ladders and sprints and some of the guys would end up throwing up. Wimps! But it shows you how tough plyos can be.

What are plyos, you ask?

In short, plyos are a type of high-intensity training that taps into energy stored in muscles to encourage muscle development, agility, cardio functioning, stamina, and speed. The exercises require tons of energy in order to perform them, so they torch calories in a short amount of time.

In other words, poor man’s Crossfit.

I love plyos because they really break up the monotony of “hey should I run or go on the elliptical today?” Plus they are perfect for when it’s nice and sunny out and you want people to look at you and your boyfriend skipping in the park wondering what the heck you’re doing.

ImageFeel free to Google any of these exercises, but I think for the most part if you’ve done any team sports in the past you’ll recognize most of the warm ups. Warm up is a pretty lax word here – these exercises are half the workout! Dynamic stretching is great because it allows your body to stretch and move at the same time – it’s one of the key components to true athleticism, because it propels the muscle into an extended range of motion. Feel free to do any types of dynamic movement you want – jump squats, jumping jacks, just something to get your heart rate up and get your body moving.

For the 4 cone drill, we just grabbed 4 objects from the apartment and set them up in a square about 20-30 feet from each other. We then used that square for a bunch of exercises!

  • 4 cone drill: stand in the middle of the four corners and have your partner point to random corners that you have to run to. Return to the center after touching each corner. Make ‘em sweat by telling them the same corner sometimes! Your body won’t be expecting to spring back and forth but the toughness will pay off.
  • 20 yard shuttle run: start in the middle between two “cones” set up about 20 yards between them. Remember the shuttle run from your Presidential fitness test? Recreate the fun! (I say that with total sarcasm because this is my least favorite)
  • 4 corner shuffle: Start in the bottom right corner of a four cone square. Sprint forward to the top right cone. Continue by side shuffling to the top left cone and then back peddling to the back left cone. Shuffle from the back left cone to the back right cone and repeat three times through.

Hopefully those descriptions are easy to visualize – it was a blast and we ended it with a run along the lake. If you’re more of a picture-person here are some awkward photos of me doing the cone drills. Look at our “cones” aren’t we professional?

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Now that spring is pretty much here, try this workout outside! It’s the perfect excuse to get moving and get people to look at you like you’re a crazy person, especially when you’re bounding.

 

 

freeze tag, froyo and beach-dreaming

Alright alright alright! Happy Monday, everyone!

It’s always tough to jump right back into posting about everyday life so let’s just play a quick game of “get you up to speed”. As many of you know I started a new job last week. I still work in public relations as a paid intern, but now at a global agency downtown. Yes, I’m still an intern, but you know what? These days you gotta do what you gotta do. Plus I’m finally getting paychecks after eight months of 9-5 work with no money so who can complain? I certainly can’t, not with this view:

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There are a ton of perks of working in the John Hancock building. For one thing, employees have access to a gym and grocery store. I could basically sleep under my desk and be just fine, no need to leave. And that picture above? That’s North Avenue beach you see. I’m telling you…this summer is going to be pretty perfect. I’m pretty sure working the whole day is a lot easier when you know that there’s a beach waiting for you only a few blocks away. Plus, look how official I look:

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Another perk of this city when the sun finally comes out? Beautiful runs. I’m so happy to report that this will finally turn back into a running blog thanks to the Lake Shore path. I didn’t get much traction on the blog until late in 2013 so I’m sure many of you don’t remember, but I actually do like to run haha. However, I am NOT a treadmill lover. I can knock out maybe four miles on the treadmill before I feel like a hamster on a wheel. So the minute I saw the Lake Shore path full of runners last week, I absolutely HAD to join in. I mean look how beautiful it is?!

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I’ve also been able to spend much more time with Zain and my friends on the weekends now that I’m not working a second job. Weekends are now spent how they are meant to be spent: getting brunch, playing freeze tag, sitting on rooftops, going to trivia nights, drinking fruity drinks, and eating fro yo.

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Of course it’s not all fun and games. Working at an agency as huge as the one I’m at is quite the change from our 10-man team over at my last job. It’s one of those places where you can easily get lost in the shuffle, so it’s definitely going to be a challenge for someone like me, someone who is pretty shy until I get to know people on a personal level. In this case I’m going to have to be outgoing from the start in order to even begin to get to know my coworkers. But it’s an opportunity to grow.

Well it looks like rain today, but do we expect anything more from a Monday? I just hope it stops in time for me to get a run in after work, otherwise I have a date with the treadmill. I’m looking forward to this weekend because I’m going home to the suburbs for Easter weekend! We’re having brunch this year (so obviously I’m not disappointed in the least) and I’ve decided what I’m going to contribute:

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The Pioneer Woman’s Individual Key Lime Pies! I had a mini-Food Network binge this weekend and Ree is officially one of my new favorites. I used to be a Giada-fanatic but Ree now has my heart. These little individual pies are adorable and I’m hoping I can find some mini mason jars to put them in. It may be a small family gathering but why not make it as Pinterest-y as possible?

Questions:

  • What’s your favorite spring dessert? I’m all about the citrus once it starts warming up
  • What was the best part about your weekend? Mine had to be the fro yo and biking throughout the city with Zain

hold off on the amber alert

I think I was getting to the point where I was actually seeing how long I could go without blogging. Over the past 1.5 weeks I’ve snapped photos of my meals, documented workouts, and thought “Oh, that’d be fun to write about!” But I never. actually. wrote. Little did I know I actually have some people who look forward to my posts so I got feedback just short of “do we need to call the police? Where’d you go?” That was pretty funny!

My life has done a complete 180 in the past week. Okay, that’s a tad dramatic. But I had a hard week. I’m going to choose not to elaborate, but it was one of those weeks where my character was tested. Like anyone else, I’m a human being. A human being who makes mistakes and has bad weeks. It took me almost seven whole days to forgive myself for mistakes I’ve made recently and to make the conscious decision to go back to the person who I really am, but I did it. Do you ever have that eye-opening moment where you realize you’ve been acting a certain way that you thought was just fine, but in that one moment your eyes are opened and you realize you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror? It was one of those weeks. A week of personal reflection.

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Speaking of that, do you know what’s the worst? When you’re so upset that  you feel like you’re going to be sick for days, and you keep asking yourself, when is this going to get better? What can I do to make this better? And you realize that you have no control. The only thing that can make certain situations better is time. That’s the worst. I’m the kind of person who, when I have a problem, in order to make the “uncomfortable”, the “sad”, the “anxiousness” end, I try to control the speed of recovery. Unfortunately life doesn’t work like a math equation. Sometimes you just have to let your emotions play out and then, when you least expect it, you move on.

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 It’s been a really long time since I’ve been that disappointed in myself. Usually I have it all together and I’m fairly proud of the person I am. I still am…I’m not sure what I’m saying. All I know is this time last week I was eating one meal a day, spending my free time curled up on the couch, and I didn’t work out once. I was just sad about where my life was at, how I’d gotten there, and where I was going.

Today I’m all back to normal. Like the snap of my fingers I forgave myself and moved on. I’m at my new job, the weather is in the 50s and 60s (holla!) and I’m still surrounded by everyone I love.  And do you know what I did to fix everything that went wrong last week? Absolutely nothing. I just let time happen.

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I’ll be back this weekend with a “normal” blog post. Let’s just pretend this little hiatus didn’t even happen :)

So catch me up on your lives, friends. And listen to this beautiful song. Because it’s Friday.

shamrock shuffle 2014

It’s safe to say this was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. Aside from my typical nights working I had the greatest Sunday, full of the best things in life: running, friends, and brunch.

I woke up at 6am Sunday morning and immediately hopped in the car to drive downtown. The Shamrock Shuffle was yesterday and we were so lucky to have such a beautiful day for it! It was the perfect day to officially kick-off running season in Chicago.

Since it was an 8K I felt relaxed the whole time, no pressure or nerves at all. Everyone else seemed to be in the same boat…no one seemed to be taking the race too seriously. The one thing I have to say is it was PACKED. This was definitely not a race to run for time. The first mile I felt like I was running in place!

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I decided to hang back with some friends and not start in my corral so the race got started later than I planned. By 9:15 we were off and running! I absolutely loved the course–we weaved through the main streets downtown, something you obviously don’t get to do every day. It was pretty remarkable that a city as big and busy as Chicago is able to shut down its main streets for almost four hours, even on a Sunday.

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My stomach felt funky before the race so I was pretty worried I’d have to stop and walk but luckily the energy and excitement kept me going and I ran all 5 miles. Sure it took me longer because I was surrounded by thousands of people but I actually liked that better! It wasn’t a competitive race, it was a community race, and I felt that every step of the way.

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I have no idea what my time was! It doesn’t really matter. But the sun came out just as mile 5 was coming to an end and I saw Zain at the finish line so I left a very happy girl.

So what does a runner do to celebrate a great morning? She eats brunch, of course.

We picked up Spencer and Meggie and headed out to Lincoln Park to grab breakfast at 2 Sparrows. The wait was pretty crazy but well worth it once we got seated in a booth (my favorite). We also had a chance to walk around the neighborhood while we waited for our table so we went to a pet shop and played with the tiniest puppies in the world. I’m now officially in love with French bulldogs :)

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Brunch was great! Our server forgot to put in our order so we were given plenty of appetizers on the house. He felt so badly about it but to be honest, I’ll take free food any day!

First things first, a goat cheese cinnamon roll.

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I know everyone else wasn’t blown away by this, but I loved it. It was sweet without being sickening, and the goat cheese gave it so much depth of flavor (when I say things like that do I sound like I know what I’m talking about?)

Next up were a few donuts: maple & bacon and chocolate, caramel, & peanut

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I didn’t love these. They weren’t fluffy how I like my donuts, and to be honest I think I’m just a vanilla long john fanatic. They looked really pretty though so that counts for something!

For my breakfast I had the market quiche. I’m really disappointed in myself for not branching out and trying something different, especially because 2 Sparrows has some really unique, farm-to-table options that you don’t see anywhere else. But when I see quiche on a menu, there’s a 90% chance that’s what I’m ordering. Ever since I studied abroad in Paris I’ve loved the simple idea of that meal: quiche with a simple salad. The market quiche of the day was filled with cheddar cheese, pesto, tomato and onion. It was pretty good! Nothing out-of-this-world but I definitely enjoyed it.

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I loved the atmosphere of 2 Sparrows and they had so many cool options that I’d be crazy not to go back. I’ll just have to try something new next time and hope that I fall in love with it. Regardless I’d be happy just going back for a cup of coffee and that cinnamon roll.

Once we finished brunch we knew we had to stay outside–it was in the mid-50s yesterday, a tropical paradise by Midwest-standards, so we decided to walk to Lincoln Park Zoo. I didn’t get any pictures inside but I hadn’t been there before and it was mind-blowing! It’s outdoors and free of charge so you just turn a corner and boom, you’re in the zoo staring at a camel.

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All in all a very tiring but exciting day. I have the best time when I’m outside, with my friends, eating great food and being active. Winter can be a hard time for people like me (aka can’t-sit-still folks) so this little taste of spring was much-appreciated.

If you stuck around this long, good for you! I’m proud I kept your attention this long. Have a great Monday!

Questions:

  • Are you signed up for any upcoming races?
  • What’s your favorite outdoor activity to do in the spring?