NP-LAX, Family Time, and a Wedding

First up, a big thank you to all of our veterans, those who have served and who are serving today.  I appreciate your courage and dedication to this nation.

Looking back, this weekend all seems like a blur.  I flew out on Thursday night and was able to take Friday off of work.  There was an epic hill workout with November Project Los Angeles, coffee and shopping with mom, the new James Bond movie with the parents, and oh, a wedding!

IMG_3347 ^^ Whenever I’m home, I try to walk and hike as much as possible.  Sure, exploring the streets of New York keeps me going, but views like this sure trump the increasing homeless population in Union Square.

IMG_3349^^ My friend Laura and I may have gotten lost on our morning hike, but the views were worth the extra half hour detour. (^ photo creds to Laura’s iPhone 6)

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^^ After the hike, Laura and I met up with our other two friends for a little carbo loading before the wedding.  I went for Dish’s selection of pumpkin pancakes, bacon (eh, I’ve had better), and over-easy eggs.  Of the lot, I would say the highlight was the maple butter on top of the pancakes.  I’m not a huge fan of big breakfasts (or pancakes for that matter…lapse in judgement and sold on the holiday aspect), but it was fun to meet up with friends and catch up.  My random thought from the morning was that unless you spread the butter evenly on the bottom pancake, it gets far less love and doesn’t taste nearly as good as the top.  So here’s to the bottom pancake.

Later on in the afternoon, it was time to paint my nails, get ready, and head over with some girl friends to the first wedding of our friend group.  These two have been dating since high school and are THE CUTEST.  It wasn’t a matter of if they would get married, but rather, when.  Honestly, there were tears and laughter, the whole shebang.

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^^ The entire family is beyond crafty (#lifegoals) and made a majority of the signs and structures (note the epic contraption below, which was used as the backdrop of the wedding ceremony)

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>> west coast to east coast love <<

IMG_3393 ^^ High school mini-reunion basically better than any reunion we will be having in the near future.

Once the ceremony was over, we moved our way inside to test out the special “His” and “Her” drinks >> Dark & Spicy (dark rum, allspice dream, ginger beer, lime) and Greyhound (gin, ruby red, grapefruit juice) and explore the seating.  The dinner menu was on point with family style platters filled with chicken, grilled vegetables, steak and chimichurri sauce.

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^^ COOLHAUS COOKIE BAR FOR THE WIN.  This baby was made up of the snackfood cookie (pretzel and potato chips similar to this recipe), gluten-free coconut almond chip, and candied bacon ice cream.  The true winner ice cream was the seasonal boozy selection, which was a take on a cherry manhattan.

{cookie options included: chocolate chip, coconut almond chip, ginger, and snackfood w/ ice cream options: balsamic fig & mascarpone, seasonal boozy, nutella almond, brown butter, and candied bacon}

Their wedding was beyond amazing.  The food, the atmosphere, and decor.

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^^ How adorable of an ending.  The two met in orchestra back in junior high, hence the music note.  Then the truffles were made by a little venezuelen chocolate store in Pasadena.  Absolutely DELISH.

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^^ Sunday called for a walk with the Bodie man, a walk with a college friend, and a few foodie finds at the local Sprouts market.  I’m a sucker for overpriced health items, but this gem was a steal and oh so tasty.

Later in the afternoon, I played a round of golf with the parents, helped make dinner back at home, and then it was off to take a red-eye back to NYC.  There’s really no good way to get back and forth from west coast to east coast.  At one point in my life I thought I would be open to traveling for business.  After countless flights this year, a couple red eyes down and a few more to go, I don’t know if I’d like that lifestyle.  But, never say never.

“The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It’s a choice you make – not just on your wedding day, but over and over again – and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.” — Barbara de Angelis

Life of Late ~ 9.25.15

Seriously, how are we already at the end of September? Good gracious time is just FLYING by.  Things at work have been picking up – between clients wanting to advertise during the 4th quarter and some of my colleagues being out of the office, I’ve started to cover more and more.  Fine by me since I’m more productive when I have more on my plate.  Anyone else feel that way?  Seems to be a Type A thing.

Probably the best part of today is that I am NOT in New York City and do NOT have to deal with all the chaos that has ensued from the UN Grand Council meeting, President Obama being in town, and oh the Pope being in the United States for the first time.  Ever.  I’m out in gorgeous Utah for the weekend and am PUMPED for being outdoors all.darn.weekend.  Yes, lots of all-caps going on, because it’s just that exciting.

We are out west for one of the North Face Endurance Challenge Races in Park City, Utah and are participating among hundreds of other folks, to run up a mountain in epic (at least compared to NYC) altitude.   Good times.  Oh, and it’s our November Project Summit, which means tons of people are flying in from all 23 tribes! Partay!!!

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These are just some of the folks I’ll be hanging around with this weekend.  Aren’t we attractive?  Let’s decide to take our “picture day portraits” on the most humid day ever.  But really, I don’t think this summer was too terrible in terms of humidity but the last few weeks of August were out of control.  Our New York tribe was going for concrete business jungle or something like that.  Basically a play on the fact that most of our city is stereotyped to be fashionistas or Wall Street finance bros.  Either way, my pals Emma and Alex nailed it (top row – lawyer and fashion designer) and Sam and I just are awesome. 😉

IMG_2362 ^^ Anyone know what this means?  I’ve raced 9 races for New York Road Runners this year and volunteered one (well two actually) and am able to receive automatic entrance to next year’s TCS NYC Marathon.  As in my first marathon ever.  Wow.  I’ll be taking a bit of a break after my next half in Staten Island (yes, it will be a glorious destination race, just like Sweden or Huntington Beach or Berlin) and rest mentally and physically.

I actually have a bit of an issue mentally and physically resting, so that should be interesting.  When I told my friend that I couldn’t actually sleep and felt that I had to work out instead (usually leading to me overextending myself and getting sick…) she joked that she had never heard anyone say that it was tougher to stay in bed than work out.  It’s sort of tough to explain to some people and I know we are all different.  But, here’s my verbal commitment here to at least try.

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^^ Another New York bucket list item CHECK!  This time it was out to Brooklyn for some shuffleboard fun at The Royal Palms Shuffleboard and Ample Hills Creamery.  I’ll throw together a little recap in case you want to add it to your bucket list 😉

IMG_2483^^ We do a mean straight face.  For some reason that’s a trend in November Project.  I guess you could start using the same hashtag that Equinox uses for its campaigns >> #novemberprojectmademedoit.  Bit long but you get the idea.

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^^ Did you know it’s fall?  Have you seen every single girl around you fall prey to the Starbucks PSL or Pumpkin Spice Latte?  Apparently they got so much flack after people exposed the original PSL to not contain any pumpkin whatsoever – just chemicals (good for the mind, body, and soul, right?) – so they changed the recipe.  I think it’s absolutely delicious and did cave on Wednesday aka the first official day of fall.

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I am already planning all the festive fall things I would like to make – apple butter, pumpkin butter, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin vegetable lasagna, pumpkin granola, apple cider martinis/sangria, pumpkin gnocchi or ravioli or pumpkin mac and cheese, stew, soup + grilled cheese, on and on and on.  Then there are the fall outfits like boots and scarfs and jeans.  I will need to switch over my entire closet and of course buy a new pair of jeans because running = muscles = 3 ripped pairs of jeans.  Basically I will be broke from all the ingredients I have purchased and probably sick of pumpkin by October 31st. #basicbitch (sorry mom) and no shame about it.

How do you like to celebrate fall?  Do you fall prey to the pumpkin trend too?

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“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”
– Bertrand Russell

Fall Eating Fun

Well what do you know?  It’s October 1st.  Let the foodie partay commence.

BREAKFASTS

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When I’m not throwing together a hodge-podge of oats + nut butter + banana, it’s off to smoothie bowls and yogurt cups, all topped with any granola I can get my hands on.

IMG_6478Coffee all day every day.  I’ve tried to be better about brewing my own cold brew at home or sticking with the cheap basic sort in the office.  But, every now and then a little treat is necessary, especially when it’s so-called National Coffee Day.  If you insist 🙂

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My first time trying Dannon Greek and I have to say, I was quite a fan.  Plus the chocolate + cherry was a little bit like dessert (or so I like to tell myself…it will work eventually)

LUNCH TIME

Probably my least favorite meal of the day, mostly because I hate feeling sluggish or tired at work in the afternoon.  I try to bring lunches from home, packing in the veggies or grilled chicken breasts.  Let’s just say it’s less than exciting here.

IMG_6396Oktoberfest in Madison, Connecticut

IMG_6458The one and only special sauce made by a friend’s mom.  Apparently it’s a Sunday tradition and boy was it tasty.  The sauce was packed with veggies and turkey meat and I practically dumped it all over my salad.

SUPPER TIME

IMG_6505Eating out at Eataly
~ Spaghetti Squash Bruschetta ~ Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad ~ Cabbage/Greens Salad ~ Gnocchi ~

IMG_6232We’ve been cooking up a storm most weekends and I have to say, this mac and cheese is HIGH on my favorites list.  Packed with cheese and cheese and cheese, you really cannot go wrong.  Although, I let Lindsay take the lead on this one as I’m bound to cut corners and butcher the recipe.

IMG_6350Making dinner with friends every Wednesday night makes the week go that much faster and oh so enjoyable.  Lately we have been on a pizza kick but I think we’ll be implementing some good ‘ol Tex-Mex tonight with enchiladas and chips+guac.  I mean, 95% of the group is from California anyways…

Sweet Treats

Let’s see if you notice a trend here

IMG_6408Fall flavors at Oktoberfest – Pumpkin + Chunky Apple Crisp

IMG_6473Baskin + Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake (this store is a bit too close to our apartment, which could be dangerous)

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The grand finale.  Why go out when you can enjoy the season’s most popular flavor at home?  Who knows, maybe I’ll turn orange by the end of the season.

Have you jumped on the pumpkin bandwagon?  Have you ever been to Oktoberfest?

Gobble Gobble Gobble Whoops

Sure, sure, everyone is probably tired of reading about Thanksgiving and Turkey festivities, but I’m not; at least not until this post is finished 🙂 Last week on Jenn’s edition of WIAW, a number of bloggers shared what they would be having.   I’ve decided to share a photodump of what I did indulge in and what I did do over the past few days.  Simply because I can.

I’ve said it before, but this past Thanksgiving was a little different since 1) I was on the East Coast and 2) I wasn’t with my actual family.  I was with family friends, people I’ve known since I was born, so I guess you could say I was with family.  Honestly the mini break was exactly what I needed – no stress, nothing to do, just run, rest, eat, and watch football all weekend long.  The one thing I did miss terribly was our annual town turkey trot.  It’s an easy 5k and serves as a mini-reunion for people in town.  I used to run it with my cross country team, those who had made varsity sporting personalized felt capes, and in recent years have run with chased after my sister.  I guess you could say Thanksgiving morning is my favorite holiday – 5k with the fam, breakfast out with teammates or waffles back at home as we watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade, then lots of moseying around the house (in t-shirt and shorts mind you…it’s normally 65 or 70F).

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Arrived around 5 to the Philly Train Station.  I wasn’t planning on getting picked up until 6 or later, so when I saw pumpkin ice cream, it was a match made in heaven.  Might as well get the week started right.

Here’s something strange…we actually partook in family breakfasts.  Usually when I’m home it’s a free-for-all, but here we sat down to enjoy fluffy quiche and pumpkin french toast, oatmeal pancakes, and eggs and fruit salad the last.  I was also a fan of the homemade kale smoothies and homemade granola that greeted us each morning. 🙂

IMG_1470_Fotor_CollageYeah, the bottom right isn’t exactly breakfast, but we sure enjoyed our fair share of pie and pumpkin/vanilla ice cream.  You know, I think I enjoyed Ben & Jerry’s rendition of pumpkin ice cream over Trader Joe’s.  Though I do adore TJ’s, it was a bit sugary (gasp…shocker for this girl’s sweet tooth) and lacked the gingersnap bits.

Last but not least, the FEAST my friends.  IMG_1470_Fotor_Collage

I did not run as much as I would have thought, simply because my body still feels exhausted.  I’m not sure if this has to do with the race last weekend or maybe I’m just a little tuckered out or I’m just being a whimp.  Anyhoo, a few days off felt nice and I didn’t feel too guilty about it.  #success

We did balance the weekend off with a TON of football – crystal clear picture, awesome endings (Auburn v. Alabama anyone?), and a more than comfortable couch.  I like to think I fit right in and considered myself one of the siblings, making myself at home 🙂 It honestly was the perfect way to spend a weekend.

What was your favorite part of the Thanksgiving weekend?

“Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for truth.”
– Benjamin Disraeli

Falling for Apple Cider + Cronuts

For me fall means football, cross-country, soccer games, crisp air, pumpkins, chili, and apple cider.  These are all things I grew up with and things that defined my childhood and even high school life.  Fall at college was relatively uneventful as we didn’t have a big sports program.  However, I will say our soccer was – and continues to be – AMAZING!

Since I’ve moved back east, I haven’t been able to check off much on my “California Fall List” but there are new things to do and places to go.  For example, I’ve been good about going to Central Park every weekend to see the leaves change and watch people all bundled up head off to pick pumpkins.  I would say that I’ve been excellent about my pumpkin consumption between pumpkin overnight oats, pudding, banana-pumpkin bread, biscottis, cookies, pull-apart bread, and more.  In terms of apple cider, there’s the delectable donuts you can find at your local farmer’s market as well as regular and hard apple cider, which also can be found at the local farmer’s market.

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Well, it was about time to up my apple cider game and what’s better than an apple cider infused cronut?  Awhile back I mentioned something about the cronut, a relatively new phenomenon that combines a donut and a croissant.  Apparently the creation originated out here in New York, but I’ve been unwilling to wait in the endless line to eat one.  So, we took it upon ourselves to create our own with this wonderful apple pecan pie cronut recipe.

There are only three of us and I knew having leftovers wouldn’t be the best idea so I recommended we cut the recipe in half.  I’ve never really been a huge leftovers fan and I would rather not tempt myself with these delicious concoctions.

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Apple Pecan Pie Cronuts w/ Apple Cider Caramel Drizzle
~3-4 cronuts (increase as you please)

Ingredients

    • 1 (8-ounce) canister Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
    • 1 Tbsp butter
    • 3/4 cups honeycrips or pink lady apples, cored and chopped
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Apple Cider Caramel
    • 1 cups apple cider
    • 1/8 cup butter
    • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup cream
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Frosting
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 oz Neufchâtel (or cream cheese), at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider caramel sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp milk

You could be overly ambitious and make your own croissant dough, but we were being realistic for our first go-around.

Directions

  • If you are making croissants from scratch, follow this recipe.  Otherwise proceed to step 2.
  • DOUGH: Open the Pillsbury (or generic) crescent dough and divide dough into two sets of triangles.  Press 2 triangles together to make a rectangle and repeat until the remainder of the dough has been used.

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  • Stack 2 rectangles on top of one another and fold.  Take a cookie cutter or empty glass and cut the dough into circles.  Repeat with remaining dough and use the leftover dough to make additional cronuts.
  •  Place cronuts on a cooking sheet topped with parchment paper.  Cover and set aside in a warm area for about 1 hour.

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  • CARAMEL:  Add the apple cider to a medium sauce pot and bring to a boil (15-20 minutes or until has been reduced to about <1/4 cup and is relatively thick.  Lower the heat add the brown sugar, butter, cream & cinnamon.  Increase to a boil, reduce and simmer ~5-10 minutes or until the caramel appears darker in color.  Remove from heat and add in vanilla.  Set aside and allow to cool.

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  • FROSTING: Take a medium bowl and beat together the butter and Neufchâtel cheese until smooth and fluffy (~3 minutes).  Add in powdered sugar and caramel sauce and beat until smooth and fully incorporated.  Beat in milk and set aside to cool.

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  • PECAN PIE TOPPING: Heat a medium skillet and add butter.  Add chopped apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, cook, stirring for ~5 minutes. Add the pecans and cook an additional 5 minutes until pecans are toasted and apples appear caramelized. At the last point, add the vanilla and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

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  • Set oven to about 350F (or as indicated on Pillsbury package) and cook cronuts for about 15 minutes. *We skipped the frying part, so if curious, check out the original recipe. 
  • Once cool, drop a good amount of frosting onto each cronut and top with apple and pecan pie topping. Lastly drizzle with the caramel sauce and serve warm.

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We had some leftover apple cider, so I’ve taken to warming up a mug during dinner or in the late afternoon.  Who knows, maybe in the next month or so I’ll get around to make additional apple cider recipes.  Or I’ll resort to picking them up at the farmer’s market. 🙂

What are some of your fall favorites?  Pumpkins or apples?

What I Love About Fall Food

Before I jump into this week’s munching roundup hosted by Jenn at Peas & Crayons, I’ll go ahead and share a few of my random thoughts.

Kate Spade needs to stop advertising its sales.  Or I should just avoid all means of accessing shopping stores, websites, or literally freeze my credit cards.  There is just too much good stuff out there.  And there need to stop being sample sales next to my work.  Right now Under Armour is literally one block away and they have SO MUCH and decent prices.

I also need to create a massive buffer between me and any type of candy.  Usually I’m good about spreading out my sugar intake and saving up for the good stuff.  I don’t know what happened Monday but I must have had some underlying stress combined with lack of sleep that prevented me from realizing I was full and altering my willpower.  Oh well, what’s done is done.  I did whip up some good junk in ‘da trunk cookies to take to work and my roommate gave two thumbs up.  This helped me get rid of some of some ingredients in the kitchen.  I try not to house too much junk in my apartment, just because I know myself and know that I will dive in whenever is around, especially if I’m a bit stressed.  Eva Longoria claims the no sugar diet helps with energy and sleep.  I think I might try my hand at it.  Although I have a few sweet treat recipes coming out in the next few weeks, so no guarantees.

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made these while riding Monday’s sugar high.  The plan was to use up any remaining candy in the house and instead bring them to work for my coworkers. 🙂  They pretty much loved me and hated me at the same time. 

One more random thought – has anyone heard of the Mercury Retrograde?  Where Mercury is in such a position that impacts our communication and makes technology go haywire?  This would sort of make sense why my phone keeps acting up, I never hear it when it rings, it continued to drop calls yesterday, the washing machines in our apartment complex don’t work (one even ate my $20…I had a lovely conversation with the company about that), and the computers at work keep breaking.  Don’t believe me? Check out this Huffington Post article on the matter.

Their recommendations: editing, revising, reviewing, research, relaxing, and regrouping. Also, cleaning out clutter, organizing and catching up on paperwork are highly favored during this time. Above all, remember that this is a magical time to reconnect with the past while revisiting abandoned projects and renewing old relationships. Have a magical retrograde!

So onto food, food, food.  Breakfasts have been anything from bagels from our company’s Thursday bagel delivery to pumpkin overnight oats to a Shakeology smoothie to go.  This morning in particular I threw in half a large frozen banana and a handful of spinach.

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In terms of lunch, I finally got into the habit of prepping meals for the week on Sunday, which saves some money by not eating $12 salads every day.  As of late, lunches consist of quinoa, pepper, carrots, spinach, green beans, and hummus.  I might not be eating enough protein since I end up hungry throughout parts of the afternoon and am pretty much starving by dinner.  As you can see, the snacks are distributed throughout the afternoon and if I’m lucky, avoid most of the candy.  That is, “if” I’m lucky.

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Does anyone watch Revenge? I’m starting from the beginning on Netflix and it’s too good.  Not to mention the attractiveness of the cast 😉

IMG_0958This is my favorite dinner by far – salmon with some type of squash or sweet potato and some sauteed kale.  Add a dollop of ketchup and mustard and we are good to go.  I was still hungry after my body pump class, so some peanut butter and almond milk was added to the late night mix.  Maybe I should add some more pumpkin to my daily routine 🙂

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Here are some of my favorite recipes thus far (some are oh-so-old and desperately need to be recreated) –

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And yes, a recipe for this will be happening SOON.

Do you find yourself hungry throughout the day?  What are your favorite snacks?  Favorite fall foods?

“I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.” – Anna Freud