'/> Sharing My Joy: 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Recipe: Holiday Chex Mix, 2 Ways



Merry Christmas to everyone! Hope you are spending today with family and friends, wrapping, baking, and of course eating and drinking! I mixed up these Holiday Chex Mixes to have on hand to snack on and they turned out so well! They are great to have around on Christmas, New Years or really anytime :)

Dry mix:

3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Wheat Chex
2 cups Cheez-Its (optional for the sweet version)
2 cups pretzels
2 cups Bugles

Original Version

6 Tb butter
2 Tb Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt

Sweet Brown Sugar Cinnamon Version

6 Tb butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tb cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
sprinkle of nutmeg
Holiday sprinkles

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. In large bowl combine all snack ingredients.
2. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat, whisking frequently. You can either choose to just melt the butter in a few minutes, or leave it longer and let it brown (I like this way!)
3. Remove butter from heat and pour into a small bowl. Add sugar and spices of your choice. Pour mixture over cereal mix and combine well.
4. Spread onto cookie sheet and place in the oven for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Let cool before diving in!



Monday, December 22, 2014

Recipe: Poinsettia Cocktail




I first had this festive cocktail at the Walnut Room, one of my favorite places to go over the holidays. Once Marshall Field's and now Macy's, not much has changed about the restaurant and the gorgeous tree. It's a fun tradition for my family to try to visit every year. This cocktail is pretty simple but I've seen some different variations using different ingredients. Below is my favorite. It's a great cocktail to celebrate with on Christmas Eve. Cheers!

(one cocktail)

1 oz orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Mainer, Triple Sec)
2 oz cranberry juice
3 oz dry sparkling wine

1. Pour liqueur and cranberry juice into a chilled champagne flute.
2. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with lemon or orange peel.

(Walnut Room)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Beauty Finds

Holiday Beauty Finds

Holiday Beauty Finds 



When the holidays roll around, it's always fun to add a little extra sparkle to an otherwise basic beauty routine. A classic red and a little bit of glitter is a perfect way to be festive!

Deborah Lippmann in Glitter and Be Gay - fun to layer over red, green or a dark shade
Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl - easy to apply and a gorgeous shade of red
Benefit High Beam Highlighter - this adds the prettiest pale shimmer to cheekbones
OPI Polish in Big Apple Red - the perfect classic red
Marc Jacobs Twinkle Pop Eye Stick in Au Revoir - a shimmery eye stick is a great way to add sparkle

Monday, December 15, 2014

Recipe: Ricotta and Pesto Spread with Homemade Tomato Jam




Need an appetizer to bring to a holiday party or serve on Christmas? This one is super tasty and festive! Savory jams have been popular recently - onion jam, bacon jam, and tomato jam. They're super easy to make! This recipe is inspired by an appetizer I had recently at Nordstrom's restaurant, Ruscello. I made the tomato jam, and then just layered the ingredients - so good!

For the tomato jam:

1 1/2 lb roma tomatoes (about 6)
1 cup sugar
2 Tb lemon juice
1 jalepeno, seeds removed and finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt

Combine all in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Simmer for about 1 hour or until thickened. Pour into mason jars and chill in refrigerator.

For the spread:

Layer ricotta, pesto (I used store bought) and jam in mason jar or low serving bowl. It is best when all ingredients are chilled. Serve with crostini or crackers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: Under $30

Gift Guide: Under $30


There always seem to be a couple of people to buy for when the holidays come around - whether it's a friend, hostess, coworker or boss - and it can be a challenge to find a great gift when you're not sure what to look for. Here are a couple of ideas all under $30 that can work in a pinch!

Trish McEvoy Candle - you can't go wrong with a candle, they are always enjoyed
Essie Mini Nail Polish Set - fun for a female coworker or friend
 Wine Aerator - these are a great addition to the kitchen, and really work
Moscow Mule Copper Mugs - enjoy the cocktail of the year in these popular mugs
Vosges Exotic Truffles - ugh these. are. so. good.
Wax Seal Kit - a fun throwback
Marble and Wood Cheese Board - beautiful, and under $20!



Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: For Him

Men's Gift Guide


Up next are a couple of ideas for the guys in your life - they're tough to buy for, right? Here are a couple of ideas that I think are classic and useful!

Leather Strap Watch - leather straps have made a comeback!
Messenger Bag - a cool laptop bag makes a great gift
Portable Bluetooth Speakers - great sound and easy to bring anywhere
City Cocktail Glasses - a fun way to serve their favorite drink
Suede Slippers - warm and cozy, cool enough to wear out to run errands
Clubmaster Sunglasses  - a total classic
Tech Hoodie - for those outdoor workouts or just weekend lounging






Friday, December 5, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: For Her

Gift Guide: For Her


This wouldn't be a blog without a holiday gift guide, am I right? I am loving the holiday season and am looking forward to doing some shopping for friends and family. Here are a couple of things that I happen to really love, and that I think any woman of any age would enjoy :)

Capri Blue Candle - amazing scent, beautiful seasonal jar
Sephora Favorites Lashstash - a great way to try several brands of mascara, so fun!
Fairisle Slipper Booties - love a good low slip on slipper bootie
Plaid Scarf - obviously my obsession this season 
Kindle Paperwhite - lightweight, easy to read screen
Leopard Clutch - gorgeous calf hair clutch that goes with everything
Gumdrop Necklace - every girl needs a little sparkle :)
Wine Glasses - modern and edgy, love these glasses
Faux Fur Throw - so cozy and soft, I adore the one I own
Geode Coasters - a cool, natural touch to any home 
Wayfarer Sunglasses - classic, year round shades
Pajama Set - super soft, comfy and cute

Monday, December 1, 2014

Best Cyber Monday Sales

(source)

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend! Mine was filled with lots of family time, good food, relaxing...and for the first time in several years, NOT braving the stores on Black Friday. Let me tell you, I enjoyed avoiding the insane crowds. I've got my eye on several Cyber Monday sales today - and some are better than the offers on Friday! Here are a couple of Cyber Monday sales that I will definitely be checking out today, from the comfort of my couch:

Apparel
Piperlime - 30% off site wide, use code CYBERSALE
Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic - 40% off, use code CYBER
J.Crew - 30% off full price items, use code MONDAY
Kate Spade - 30% off entire site, use code CYBER30

Home
West Elm - up to 25% off everything, use code SUPERDUPERSALE
Sur La Table - selection of deals
Pottery Barn - 20% off throws and 15% off robes and slippers, free shipping with code FREESHIP
Crate and Barrel - 15% off everything with code SAVE15, no minimum for free shipping

Beauty
NARS - 20% off, use code TAKE20
Tarte Cosmetics - Discounts on tons of items
First Aid Beauty - 30% off, use code CYBERMONDAY
Murad - 25% off, no code necessary

Tech
Koss - 40% almost everything (love the Fit Clips) with code CM40
Target - great deals on cameras, TV's and more
Jawbone - Mini Jambox and UP24 activity tracker are both $99



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Skincare Essentials

My Skincare Essentials


 I've tried a lot of skincare products in my time, from drugstore to department store to dermatologist precriptions - and not all have stood the test of time. I think it's taken me this long to find ones that are tried and true for my combination skin type. Here are my top essential skincare items that I swear by!

Philosophy Hope in a Jar Moisturizer - The best moisturizer I've found in the last 10 years! It's lightweight, soaks right in without making your skin feel greasy, and I swear it has helped to clear up my skin.
Philosophy Purity Face Wash - Does a great job at taking makeup off, yet gentle and not over drying.
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant  - This powder-to-paste scrub does an amazing job at exfoliating and leaving skin super smooth.
Clarisonic Mia 2 - Definitely worth the money! It really does a deep clean to help remove makeup and leave a clean surface to let products soak in.
GlamGlow Thirstymud - Great when you need a little something extra during the winter, this mask leaves skin super hydrated.
Josie Maran Argan Oil Light - The thought of putting oil on my skin scared me but this truly goes on super light, absorbs quickly and doesn't leave skin shiny at all. Fantastic as a winter moisturizer!





Monday, November 24, 2014

Recipe: Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Goat Cheese



Need a last-minute side recipe for Thanksgiving? I've got the perfect one - plus it's quick, healthy and delicious!  There are plenty of ways to prepare Brussels sprouts - I particularly like roasting and this way - sautéing.  A quick way to speed up cook time is to buy them pre-shredded (or slice them up yourself). Trader Joe's and most grocery stores now sell them pre-shredded in the bag - such a time saver! The addition of lemon and goat cheese is a great combo!

1 package shredded Brussels sprouts
2 Tb olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 Tb pine nuts
2 Tb crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper, for seasoning

1. Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in large saute pan. Add Brussels sprouts and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
2. Add in pine nuts for the last 3-4 minutes to toast in with the sprouts.
2. Remove from heat and transfer to bowl. Cover with lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with goat cheese.

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Tried It: Pure Barre


(Source)

I've been dying to try one of the barre classes for several years now but haven't gotten around to it. I did many years of pilates so I thought it would be a pretty easy transition. I tried the Pure Barre studio (there is also Bar Method, Barre Code and Dailey Method in Chicago) recently for the first time. I've heard that it was a great toning and strength workout and I was looking forward to feeling the burn. The studio was nice and clean and the instructor was awesome - helping me get set up knowing it was my first time. We went through a series of exercises for arms, legs, and core using different equipment including resistance bands, small hand weights and a small inflatable ball.  We used the barre as we did a series of leg work/squats.  There were some moves that were definitely tough, but overall I didn't feel very challenged in the class. I've heard it takes at least 8 classes to really grasp the concept, and that might have been the case with me. I might have been missing something or not doing some moves right. Don't get me wrong - I definitely enjoyed the class and left feeling good, it just wasn't as challenging as I thought it was, nor was I sore the next day. I would gladly go again or try a different studio to change things up. Overall I like the barre workout concept, but I think I enjoy the active, sweaty ones better!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Recipe: Cacio e Pepe



I recently tried this classic Italian pasta dish for the first time at Eataly, and was blown away that something so simple could be so delicious.  Literally translating into "cheese and pepper", this 4 ingredient dish takes less than 20 minutes start to finish.  While pepper (and salt) are normally a last minute addition, instead it is the the star of this dish, while the quality freshly grated cheese adds the perfect creaminess. Less can be more!

12 oz dried spaghetti pasta
4 Tb butter (or olive oil)
2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add spaghetti and cook until al dente (about 8-10 minutes)
2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet with butter. Add the cracked pepper and gently stir for a couple of minutes, until pepper is toasted.
3. With tongs, remove the boiled pasta and place right into the skillet (do not drain the pasta water). 
4. Swirl to coat with the butter and pepper. Add the cheese and continue swirling the pasta to coat with the cheese  Add about 1/4 cup of the hot pasta water and stir until creamy, about 2 minutes.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Favorite Chicago Pizza Spots

TGIF! I thought I'd round up some of my favorite spots for pizza in Chicago since there are so many great ones! Obviously Chicago is known for their deep dish, which I love, but there are other great non-Chicago style pizza places here that are awesome. I'm not necessarily a traditionalist when it comes to pizza (give me Hawaiian or BBQ chicken all day!), and I definitely don't discriminate... there's just so much to love! I do really love a good stuffed or deep dish with alllthecheeese, but I also really love the thin crust Neopolitan style with fresh mozzarella. What is your favorite place for pizza? Which places need to be added to my list to try?


Lou Mal's

Best Chicago Style

Giordano's - Yes, it's a chain now but still my total favorite deep dish. So much cheese!
Lou Malnati's - Another favorite deep dish. Love the buttery crust! They also will ship a frozen pizza anywhere in the country!
Baldinelli's - My family's favorite place to order from in the suburbs - thin crust, sweet sauce, square slices!
Bricks - Another great thin crust pizza, in a dark, hole-in-the-wall place.
Pequod's - I don't love it as much as some people do, but the caramelized crust makes it worth it. Like I said, I won't hate on any pizza :)


Best Wood Fired/Italian Style

Spacca Napoli - Arguably the best pizza in Chicago, the oven was made in Naples and they make sure to stay authentic to that style. The buffalo mozzarella pizza is insane!
Sono - Awesome wood fired pizza. Try the burrata and pesto!
La Madia - A modern take on the traditional Italian style. The pepperoni with truffle oil and the tallegio with roasted grape were both great!
Coalfire - Chicago's first "coal fire" oven. The pepperoni with whipped ricotta, enough said.
Eataly - This massive Italian marketplace makes some of the best pizza...ever.


Piece

Best East Coast style:

Piece - Technically "New Haven Style", they have some really interesting topping choices. They also make their own beer.
Armitage Pizzeria - Takeout or delivery only, the guy who owns this place definitely knows what he's doing.

Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder

Special mentions:

Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company - A Chicago institution, famous for the "pizza pot pie"!
Homeslice - A trendy newbie in town, the pizza does not disappoint.
Aurelio's -  Another local suburban favorite of my family's with Chicago-style thin crust.
Gino's - Famous, just really not my fave.

Still to try:

Craft
Pizza Rustica
Pizano's
Reno
Vito & Nick's
Pete's
The Art of Pizza
Balena
Stella Barra
Burt's
Boiler Room
My Pie
Pizzeria da Nella
Antica Pizzeria
Pizzeria Serio
Pizza Parlor
Chicago Pizza Boss food truck
The Chicago Pizza Tour! <--talk about HEAVEN!!

Tell me... what's on your list!?


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I Tried It: Shred415



(source)

There are a ton of great fitness studios in Chicago - pilates, yoga, barre, etc., and I've been enjoying the chance to try a bunch of new workouts.  I've heard great things about Shred415, which started in Chicago and now has several studios around the city. The concept is an hour class, broken up into 4 15-minute intervals (switching between treadmill and weight training), then further broken up into smaller 30 second or minute intervals. The instructor led the class through different walk/run/sprint intervals and then different weight training exercises (squats, step ups, lunges, core work). The class went by super fast because of intervals -- nothing seems too intimidating when there is an end in sight. Changing it up like that was challenging but a great way to stay motivated. You have your choice of weights and speed on the treadmill, and the instructor does a good job of pushing you to go your max (which may be different for each person in the class). I really enjoyed it and was sore for the next couple of days. There is an introductory price for the first class and then there are class packages and unlimited memberships. I definitely recommend checking it out for a great workout!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Currently Listening To: Serial Podcast




Serial Podcast

I've really gotten into podcasts this year, since I spend a lot of time in the car with my commute. They keep me much more entertained than music or morning radio shows. My favorites are Freakonomics, which raises really interesting questions that make you think twice, and Stuff You Should Know, which covers topics on everything from how black holes work to how beer works. They're very easy to listen to, now especially with the iTunes Podcast app. A new podcast, Serial, from the produces of This American Life popped up to the top of charts this month so I checked it out. It's a season long podcast where journalist Sarah Koenig reinvestigates a real-life murder from 1999. There has been speculation that the man that was sentenced was actually wrongly convicted. She dives into different aspects of the murder, doing interviews with some of the people connected to the murder. I totally binged and listened to all 6 episodes in 3 days and now I can't wait for the rest of the season! (I think there are going to be 12 in total). It sounds like the listeners will start to figure out what happened along with her.  The show has gone completely viral - there's an account on Reddit that has a huge discussion board. It sounds like they might be doing another season too. It's a new concept to have a season long podcast which is cool, and apparently lots of people are enjoying. Check it out, it's so addicting!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Recipe: Oreo Rice Krispie Treats



Rice Krispie treats have got to be one of my all-time favorite desserts. I also happen to love all things cookies 'n' cream/Oreo, so I decided to combine the best of both worlds here with these. They were super easy and a great variation on the traditional - and were a big hit!

Ingredients:

10 cups Rice Krispies cereal
8 cups miniature marshmallows
20 Double Stuff Oreo Cookies, chopped with a sharp knife
1/2 cup unsalted butter

1. Grease/spray 13 x 9 pan
2. Combine cereal and chopped cookies in large bowl
3. Melt butter in large saucepan on medium/low
4. Add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted
5. Pour over cereal mixture and stir until completely mixed
6. Pour into pan and press into an even layer
7. Let cool, cut into squares and serve

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Recipe: Stuffed Acorn Squash



I love roasting all the fall veggies - butternut squash, sweet potatoes and spaghetti squash. This was my first time trying acorn squash and it was really good! You can do this with any type of fall squash and any type of filling (wild rice, sausage, apples etc.) but this combo was really good :) I liked how the feta complemented the sweetness of the squash and cranberries. Great fall meal! It was very simple, just takes a while to roast the squash...bonus, your house will smell amazing!

1 acorn squash, cut in half
1/2 cup quinoa, dry
2 Tb dried cranberries (or cherries would be good)
2 Tb feta cheese
2 Tb pistachios
olive oil
cinnamon
salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425. Cut acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds. Brush with olive oil (or coconut oil or butter-your choice). Sprinkle with a little bit of cinnamon and/or a little bit of brown sugar and place in oven open cut side up for 45 minutes.
2. While squash is roasting, prepare filling. Cook quinoa according to package directions (2:1 water:quinoa, bring to boil and simmer for about 15 minutes). Mix in about 1 tsp olive oil, season with salt and pepper and mix in cheese, cranberries and nuts.
3. When squash is done, take out of the oven, fill with quinoa mix and return to the oven for another 10 minutes or so.



Monday, November 3, 2014

Sweater Weather

Sweater Weather

Sweater Weather by Carly Klein


525 America Stitch Sweater  / Old Navy Striped Sweater Zara Side Split Sweater / BB Dakota Brendi Cardigan Coat  Free People Turtleneck Sweater / American Eagle Outfitters Drape Sweater 


It's definitely been getting chillier here in Chicago, and there is not much I love more than wrapping up in a cozy sweater when it gets cold. Lately I'm loving chunky pullover sweaters with skinny pants, which has pretty much been what I want to wear every day :) I bought the 525 America sweater with the pockets and it has quickly become my favorite on chilly days. Have you gotten a great sweater recently?






Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

The holiday has always been a great memory for me. My incredibly talented mom made the BEST costumes, all of them homemade. I was so lucky to have some of the most admired costumes in the neighborhood :) I loved trick-or-treating around the 'hood with my sister and friends and then coming home and organizing all the candy into piles, like the type-A people we are :) ...trading our least favorites out for the good ones. We made a tradition of carving pumpkins on the kitchen table every year, seeing who could come up with the best design. Halloween has changed over the years but I still enjoy the time to dress up, be a little silly and have a good time. Hope you enjoy the holiday!





Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Recipe: Ginger Bourbon Cider Cocktail




I have found the perfect fall cocktail! Apple cider is delicious hot or cold in the fall, with or without liquor. It's great here with the addition of ginger beer, which gives it a little bite and flavor. This would be perfect to serve at Thanksgiving!

1.5 oz bourbon (I used Maker's)
2 oz Ginger Beer (I like Gosling's)
2 oz apple cider

Combine bourbon and apple cider in the glass, mix over ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with an apple slice or cinnamon.



Monday, October 27, 2014

Mad for Plaid

Mad for Plaid


Forever 21 Sweater / Madewell Plaid ShirtBB Dakota Coat / Forever 21 Buffalo Check Sweater / Crate and Barrel Throw Pillow / Modcloth Buffalo Plaid Shirt / Mossimo Scarf Urban Outfitters Blanket Scarf 

Plaid has always been a fall fashion staple, but it seems to have really taken over this year. From last year's blogger-famous Zara plaid scarf, oversize blanket scarves seem to be all over the place. It's definitely one of my favorite ways to wear the trend. Plaid button down shirts have also gone from hipster uniform to mainstream necessity. The new oversize coats and pullover brushed sweaters are a cool addition. I'm also loving the idea of adding some plaid to my apartment with a throw pillow. What is your favorite way to wear the trend?

Friday, October 24, 2014

DIY: Gold Painted Pumpkins


I've always enjoyed carving pumpkins as part of activity to celebrate fall and get ready for Halloween. This year I wanted to try something a little bit different, and this was so much easier and less messy! My sister and I took a trip to an awesome pumpkin patch and picked out a ton of cool pumpkins and gourds. We bought gold acrylic paint and a gold paint pen like this one and checked out some different designs online to try. It was super easy to use the paint pens, which I used on the spiderwebs and polka dot one.  I used a brush and the paint on the chevron one, which wasn't as easy and needed a couple of coats. It was fun to try and I like the festive pumpkins in my apartment to enjoy for the next couple of weeks :)



Also, this square green pumpkin was just begging to be painted like Frankenstein :)


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Recipe: Sweet and Smoky Chili



I love making chili in the fall and winter - it's super easy and a total comfort food of mine. There a lot of variations on the traditional chili recipe out there, and it's fun to try new combinations. It's almost always hard to screw up too! I love this combo that gets the smokiness from smoked paprika and sweetness from a little brown sugar. This is my new favorite!

1 lb ground beef
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can tomato sauce
15 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tb brown sugar
2 Tb chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
sprinkling of cinnamon
sprinkling of cayenne pepper

1. Saute onion, pepper and garlic in 1 Tb olive oil in a skillet until soft, about 10 minutes.
2. Transfer into large chili pot. Brown ground beef in skillet.
3. Add the remaining ingredients to the chili pot and bring to a simmer. Transfer in ground beef when it's done cooking. Simmer for 20 minutes on medium/low.



Monday, October 20, 2014

Hair Products I'm Loving Lately

Hair Products I'm Loving Lately

Hair Products I'm Loving Lately by carlyjklein 

I have very fine, wavy hair which gets constantly tangled.  It is difficult to straighten, and I am always looking for ways to give it more volume. I've recently found a couple of products I really like that help to make my hair more manageable.


Conair Detangling Brush - I first read about this brush on The Beauty Department's blog as an amazing detangling brush, and it really is! The bristles are thin and flexible and make it much easier to comb through my hair after a shower. The Wet brush is another one very similar. FYI only found at Walmart.
Kenra Blow Dry Spray - This heat protectant claims to cut hair drying time in half, and it really helps. A heat protectant is important to me when I dry it to keep my fine hair as undamaged as possible!
Batiste dry shampoo - Dry shampoo is a necessity for 2nd day hair, or as a texturizer on clean hair. I love how this "Wild" ones smells!
Pureology Colour Fanatic 6.7oz - My stylist introduced me to this spray, which detangles, protects and conditions. Bonus, it smells amazing!
Conair 3-in-1 Ionic Styler, Model SD6X - My friend has used this dryer for years and I finally followed suit. I usually partially dry my hair with a regular dryer and then finish with this. It helps to smooth out the waves and is easier than a round brush since it's attached right to the dryer!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Free Weight Arm Workout



I've been trying to incorporate more strength training in my workouts in the last year since I've learned how important it is to your bone health, metabolism, and how much it can change your body's shape.  Here's a workout I did this week to incorporate cardio, strength, and core all into one. It was a good one, so I thought I'd share! I used 8 pound dumbbells and Fit Sugar's Best Dumbbell Arm Exercises as a guide for the exercises. Give it a try!


10 minute treadmill interval warmup
1 minute 4 mph
 1 minute 6 mph
 1 minute 8 mph
Repeat 3x

Strength/Cardio:

Complete 12 reps each:
 Sumo squat with bicep curl
Upright row
Tricep extension
Bent over row
Bent over reverse fly
Overhead press
Lateral arm raise
Lying chest fly
20 Squat Jumps
20 Jumping lunges

Repeat whole circuit 3x

Core:
1 minute plank
1 minute bicycle crunches
1 minute V-sit




Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Recipe: Homemade Vanilla Sea Salt Almond Butter




I am seriously so obsessed with almond butter! And it couldn't be easier to make at home! Since I've always had a peanut allergy I've never eaten peanut butter, so I was so glad to discover almond butter years ago as an alternative.  Justin's Vanilla is my all time favorite - but I treat it as more of a treat these days because of the sugar and calories. The good fats in almonds are still a healthy alternative and a favorite for breakfast with toast and sliced banana!

I used Ambitious Kitchen's guide for homemade almond butter, and was pleasantly surprised at how it turned out - so fresh, better than Justin's!  Roasting raw almonds beforehand is the trick to getting them easy to process (throw them in warm). It takes a while for the whole process to happen, but it will!





2 cups raw, unsalted almonds
Honey (to taste)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Sea Salt (to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
On large baking sheet spread out almonds and roast in oven for 10-12 minutes until slightly brown. Be very careful not to burn the nuts.
Transfer to your food processor and process for 10-15 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary. At this point the almonds should start to clump together. Continue to process until you reach the desired consistency. Add vanilla, honey and sea salt to your preference.

Transfer to mason jar and store at room temperature or in fridge. If you store at room temp, simply give the almond butter a stir before you use it.


Have you tried almond butter? What's your favorite way to eat it?


Monday, October 13, 2014

Mani Monday: Don't Sweater It




I love wearing muted taupes as neutrals in the fall and spring, and this is one of my favorites - Essie's Don't Sweater It from the Fall 2013 collection. This one is a little bit on the lighter, more mauve/purple side, but I also really like OPI's You Don't Know Jacques which is a little bit darker and more brown.  Both seem to go with everything!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Recipe: Pumpkin Cinnamon Cookies


Happy Friday and Happy October! This picture of these cookies may not be the best, but I'll tell you...these cookies are! I made them this week and brought them to work and they were a hit :) They are the perfect fall cookie, just like a pumpkin snickerdoodle- with cinnamon chips (<-awesome) and then rolled in cinnamon sugar! The next day I just warmed one up in the microwave for 15 seconds and it was so good! Just like warm pumpkin cinnamon bread. Give them a try!


ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin (I used Libby's canned pumpkin)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cinnamon chips

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.

3. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and mix until combined, about 3 minutes. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Stir in the cinnamon chips.

4. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Shape dough into rounded tablespoons and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Lightly press down on the cookies with a spatula or the palm of your hand.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Note-You can usually find cinnamon chips at the grocery store, but if you can't find them, you can always order cinnamon chips from Amazon.  Thanks to my mom for providing the chips for me! :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Recipe: Grilled Fig and Ricotta Pizza with Honey


If you saw my previous post on how to grill a pizza, I did this the same way, just tried it with different ingredients! Figs are in season during late summer, and I wanted to find a tasty way to enjoy them. This turned out super delish! Follow my same steps for grilling a pizza:

Ingredients:

Pizza dough (Trader Joe's is the best! - let sit for a bit at room temp)
Fresh Ricotta Cheese
4-5 figs sliced vertically
Honey
1 bunch of greens of your choice (arugula, spinach, etc)
Olive oil

1. Preheat the grill by turning the burners on medium/low
2. Roll out the dough with flour into desired thickness
3. Place all topping ingredients on a plate/cookie sheet, ready to bring outside
4. Brush olive oil on one side of the dough
5. Place dough directly on the grill, oiled side down
6. Let dough grill for about 5-10 minutes, watch closely- top will bubble and underside will get crispy
7. When ready, brush a little more olive oil on the top and then carefully flip over with tongs
8. Top with the ricotta cheese, figs
9. Let finish grilling for another 5-10 minutes
10. Remove carefully with tongs
11. Drizzle honey on top, sprinkle sea salt and top with greens
12. Slice and enjoy!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Beauty Review: Manic Panic

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After spotting the ombre hair color trend 2 years ago, I knew I had to try it for myself. I experimented with hair chalk, but wanted something that lasted longer than one wash. I'm not sure where I originally heard of Manic Panic hair dye, but I found it at Sally's. I first tried Cotton Candy pink, and then this summer I tried Ultra Violet. You can use a hair painting brush (also at Sally's) to apply on the ends, let sit for 30 minutes, and then wash your hair. It is a semi-permanent dye, and I found mine lasted about 7 shampoos to fully fade. I'm sure you can make it last longer though. It's such a fun and inexpensive way to change up your hair look for a festival, summer, or just for fun. I can't wait to try it again - I think a pale blue or teal is next!


Would you try this? Have you done something fun with your hair?

Friday, October 3, 2014

I Tried It: 30 Day Plank Challenge


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I've seen quite a few of these 30 Day challenges floating around Pinterest for a while now, and always thought they'd be a great way to challenge myself to improve on something. This one is from the 30 Day Fitness Challenge website, which has a ton of these. Before this, I was only able to hold a plank for about 45 seconds before bailing - and while I didn't get up to the 300 second/5 minute mark, I did go up to 4 minutes - sometimes taking some 10 second breaks and sometimes doing a minute as a side plank. This challenge greatly improved my core strength and my ability to hold a plank longer, and my stomach feels a lot flatter than it did a month ago. Most importantly to me, it got me in a routine of doing planks first thing in the morning. I will definitely try to continue to do a few exercises every morning before the day starts. I'd also like to check out more of the challenges from this site!