casserole-ing

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I prefer easy-peasy cooking. Well, actually that’s a total lie.

I prefer no-cooking.

But it happens everyday,
Kids: “what’s for dinner?”
Me: “It’s only 5:00, I have no idea”.

Dinner!? You mean you want to eat dinner again today? We just ate dinner yesterday. AARRRGGG.

I made this casserole because it was cold & rainy last week. It is easy and delicious and you can sort of modify it a bit to your tastes. When I make it next time {ugh cause they are going to want to eat AGAIN} I will eliminate the red pepper because apparently, my family does not eat red pepper {that’s what those little piles of red pepper left on the plate mean, right?}.

I am thinking peas, yum, everyone likes those. Or broccoli. Or asparagus.

I totally wimped out and bought 2 rotisserie chickens from the grocery store to make it e-a-s-i-e-r.
I also eliminated the mushrooms because KN claims that he is “allergic”. Ha.

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casserole
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{The recipe can be found at: my recipes.com}

 

Three-Cheese Chicken Penne

Ingredients
1tsp. olive oil
Cooking spray
3 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) carton 2% low-fat cottage cheese
4 cups hot cooked penne (about 8 ounces uncooked tube-shaped pasta)
2 cups shredded roasted skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup, undiluted
Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°.
Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add spinach, oregano, and black pepper; sauté 3 minutes or just until spinach wilts.
Place cottage cheese in a food processor; process until very smooth. Combine spinach mixture, cottage cheese, pasta, chicken, 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, milk, and soup in a large bowl. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

weekend wrap-up

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How was your weekend? Ours was the usual, we did the same things you did, cut the grass, cleaned the toilets, went  to church, did the Gladiator Assault Challenge….

Oh, you didn’t do that?

I KNOW, because I did not see you there…..

This race, with 20 some obstacles, is on the ski hill in  Lake Geneva. The obstacles are mostly related to mud, water and climbing over things and running up and down and around a ski hill on a little rocky trail. Is that a problem? No, not really. What was the problem?

WATER

AND

IT WAS ONLY 46 DEGREES.

Here is the before and after:

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img_5031Being put outside of the comfort zone is the name of this game, at least for me.   My comfort zone does not include water. I do not like swimming or tubing or even being wet. Yes, I can swim but barely and rarely.

Afraid of heights? Claustrophobic? Yes, they have something for you too.

For example: army crawling in dark, cold, mud water up to your chin, underneath a tarp.

KN was behind me and thought my panic breathing was an asthma attack.

{I don’t have asthma}

Certainly doing nothing is way easier, but the problem with that is you never get to experience that “crossing the finish line high”.

That moment when you feel all accomplished and proud and say things like “that wasn’t so bad” and “oh, I am going to do it again next year”  and “oh my gosh I am so cold I will never be warm again”…..

Have a great day and we’ll see you next year at the Gladiator….

{Pictured with me and KN are my oldest son, my step son and his girlfriend}

close to the vest

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You don’t have a vest, I know you don’t.

Why?

Because I don’t have one either.

BUT

I will be getting one, maybe as soon as I am done typing.

Menswear is big for fall. I love so many things about that trend but, today I want to discuss the vest because that is something different than a blazer, it’s more like an accessory. I love this longer style with skinny pants, leggings or jeans. It creates a long, clean, lean look.  This is a great piece if you are not comfortable wearing tight, skinny pants without something “over” them.

clubmvest

 

A shorter vest would be more practical {especially for getting in and out of the car}.

The options of what to wear with a piece like this are endless  and you probably already have it in your closet.

A t-shirt, a white, cotton shirt, a denim shirt, stripes, polka dots, a sweater with a big cowl neck….

Here are some more pictures of vests:

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What do you think? Will you be sporting a vest this season?

In order starting with the first black vest:

1.) Club Monaco 2.) Nordstrom 3.) Nordstrom 4.) BCBG 5.)BCBG 6.) Forever 21

this dress

IMG_4964Do you remember all the hubbub about the Nordstrom sale? The pressure and time constraints of buying fall and winter clothes in the middle of summer?? ugh, it’s almost too much.

I did not set my hopes high because I usually get all confused and overwhelmed and I only like to buy stuff that I can leave the store with and not WAIT to wear. I am all about instant gratification.

But this year……KN came with me to the sale! Holla! It worked out really well for moi.

{He HATES shopping and the mall, which oddly  enough, makes us a perfect couple. Because I LOVE IT enough for the both of us.}

So there we are cruising the sale and KN is like “try this” and I am all “Oh it’s too expensive, and I don’t ever wear dresses, and where would I wear that and oh I guess, yes, of course I’ll try it….”

So this is the dress I got at the sale. It is awesome and everyone should have a simple dress like this because there are a million ways to wear it and since it’s so basic,  some kick butt shoes will make it  POW.

{Yes, KN also helped decide on the shoes because I was all “oh I’ll never wear those and only if you like them and I’m not sure and  oh if you insist then….

YES! I’ll take them.”

 

 

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So my other ideas for this dress are to wear it like this:

More conservative with a flat and a cardigan.

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For cooler weather with boots and a leather jacket.

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A more casual and fun look.

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{Vince dress, Steve Madden heels, Zara slip ons (similar) , J. Crew flats, H&M jean jacket, Halogen leather jacket (similar), boots (similar)

shake up

img_4907The first year that I heard about healthy shakes {i.e. kale shakes} yeah, pretty much that was a big eye roll, whatever trevor, I am not drinking that. What can a salad possibly taste like in shake form? My jaw is not wired shut so I will keep the greens in the salad and the chocolate in my shake.

Well, well. Never say never.

I know I mentioned that we drink kale shakes in my last post and KN suggested that I do a post about it.

Yes, we drink them.

Do we love them?  NO.

I love chocolate malts from Oberwies.

Anyway, this is why we do it and this is why it is so popular:

1.)  Why kale? Chewing it is gross. When you pulverize it and mix it with other stuff you do not taste it much.

Why is it good for you: Calcium, Vitamin A, C, K. Anti cancer and eye health to name a few.

2.) Why carrots? Carrots have absolutely no flavor in a shake. Seriously.

Why is it good for you {in case you forgot}: Beta carotene, potassium, fiber-digestion, alkaline (purifies the blood), colon health, to name a few.

3.) Why celery? Vitamin C, Fiber, antioxidant, magnesium, anti inflammatory, alkaline.

4.)Why Vitamin D drops? You CANNOT get enough vitamin D from food. Although the jury is still out on whether supplements work or not, we choose to add it. Vitamin D is needed to aid in calcium absorption. Got these drops at the health food store, also tasteless in the shake.

5.) Why honey? { it certainly helps the shake taste better for one} I am not talking about the honey in the bear, real honey that hasn’t been watered down with added sugar is really good for you. It needs to be raw and state 100% pure. Honey reduces inflammation, fights infection, aids in digestion…..and it is delicious!

6.) You already know the benefits of fruit. We change it up with different things, usually we use frozen berries, bananas, pineapple, mango, apple, grapes. This is what makes the taste of the shake bearable.

7.) Chia seeds. For calcium, magnesium, iron, protein, vitamins A, B, D and E, as well as fiber and Omega 3s. They will help control your appetite because they keep you feeling full longer, lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and improve bone health.

8.) Liquid. We use different things depending on what is in the fridge. Coconut water, pomegranate juice, fresh squeezed oj that you can get from Jewel now, almond milk, water…

9.) Protein. We sometimes add protein powder, or natural peanut butter or or almond butter.

10). Ice. This would be disgusting if it wasn’t really cold.

That’s the basic jist of it. There are millions of “recipes” but you can just throw stuff in and blend, it doesn’t need to be measured out. Sometimes I have to have a coffee chaser with mine. I always use a straw and if the shake is swamp green- brown then it definitely goes in a cup that I can’t see in with a lid.

There are other things I want to use to switch it up and maximize my vitamin potential {spirulina, acai powder green tea powder etc etc). The health food store has so many options. However, it took time to get where we are at and I think we are on a good roll. There is no way, no how that I could possible eat kale, carrots, celery, bananas and strawberries etc, in one day, at least 4 or 5 days a week, without this shake. I totally recommend trying it out if you have not.
{and if you are on the fence about a Vitamix, get one, it’s awesome.}
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Miscellaneous Monday (oh yeah, it’s Tuesday)

President Obama Makes Statement In The Briefing Room Of White House

1.) Important fashion news at the White House: No, not Michelle, Mr. President is making politicians mad because he wore a tan suit.  Huffington Post reports : “Though his speech was of a more serious nature, the suit turned the Internet into a horde of wannabe fashion critics, with people mocking the president for his “sad,” “terrible,” and “wack-ass” outfit choice. One Republican congressman actually got upset about it.” Oh I love this kind of stuff. (See dad, fashion is important business!!)

Here is a quote from Joseph Abboud regarding the presidential tan suit:”I applaud him for wearing a tan suit,” said Abboud, who previously made clothes for Obama as head of suit-maker Hart Schaffner Marx. “You don’t want to look the same every day of your life. It’s boring as hell.”  (See KN! that is why I shop so much! I don’t want to look boring as h***!!!)

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2.) Did you know that Abercrombie is changing because business is slow? They are getting rid of the famous logo….that is on everything.

“The company is trying to stock trendier clothing — and it turns out that means stripping off the once-prized Abercrombie logo. It is a major change for the retailer, whose sweatshirts and T-shirts emblazoned with its name long held major cachet with teenagers. Now, individuality is the name of the game.” Read more here.

3.) There is a  difference between regular jelly beans and Jelly Belly beans? Jelly Belly has flavor in the coating and the chewy center, regular beans only have the flavor in the coating. We were in the Pleasant Prairie area so we stopped by the warehouse for a tour. Um, my kids were too old for this. See how thrilled they are: IMG_4856

 

(This is funny, I just noticed the out of style t-shirt on  Gage. Going to have to get in there for some non-logo wear)

4.) Do you eat chia seeds? What’s all the fuss? Listen to this description from Natural News:  “These delicious powerhouses are loaded with calcium, magnesium, iron, protein, vitamins A, B, D and E, as well as fiber and Omega 3s. They will help control your appetite because they keep you feeling full longer, lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and improve bone health, especially in anyone who eschews dairy.” KN and I add them to our morning kale shake, they don’t taste like anything it just make it thicker. (and no, I am not bragging that I drink kale shakes. I really do not enjoy them at all but I really enjoy that it keeps me regular and then I don’t have to eat anymore fruit/vege the rest of the day…lol)

 

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5.)  And  just because it’s stinkin sweet as can be: This is my dad blowing out his birthday candles with my niece and nephew. {LOVE}

 

Have a great day! it’s already Tuesday!

Do you know “athleisure”?

Even if you have not heard this term, you are already doing it. Wearing your yoga pants and leggings to dinner and your gym shoes shopping. Active apparel that goes from the “gym to the office”. This is such a booming industry that even the makers of those expensive jeans are having reduced sales. Levi’s profits fell 76% in the second quarter, the denim brand says “it has been challenged by the fashion trend of wearing exercise gear instead of jeans”.

The trend is everywhere, some say its booming because of the trend toward healthy living, I personally think it is just because it is easy, comfortable, washable and trendy.

Obviously, the first in top sales is LuluLemon, then Nike, then Under Armour and now Athleta. Every store under the sun is selling work out clothes from Old Navy to Urban Outfitters to Loft to Foot Locker.

Since it is blowing up the market, the best news is that there are so many options. It is not just about the yoga pant.

I love, love, love it and you can be creative with it! Vans, Converse, Nike and New balance with jeans, skirts and dresses. Many different versions of a “city pant” , “to & from pant” or “track pant” paired with a jacket, sweater or flowy blouse.

You can be on trend AND comfortable. Woo Hoo.

Don’t abuse it by always looking a mess my friend. You still need to wash your hair.

All day shoes:

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Vans

 

 

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Converse
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Nike
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New Balance

 

 

 

All Day Looks:

Gap
Gap
Athleta
Athleta
Lou & Grey
Zara
Zara
Anthropologie
Anthropologie

 

 

 

Aritzia
Aritzia

Don’t you just love these looks? Can’t wait to update my wardrobe with some track pants!

Seattle recap

IMG_4701I had never been to Seattle, so when KN said he had a meeting there, I said I wanted to go with! We decided to turn it into a little vacation. It just so happens that August is probably the best time of the year to go there for good weather. However, when we got there, it was cloudy and drizzly, exactly how I pictured Seattle. It turns out that it had not rained there for weeks but had started the day before we got there and kinda a stayed that way for a couple days. It was also rather cool. {Argh, I completely packed wrong.}

We rented a car and drove to Whidbey Island. You have to take a ferry to get there, and you drive your car right onto the ferry. That was something neither of us had done before! We stayed at The Inn at Langley, right on the water which was very quiet and peaceful. Next day we rented mountain bikes and headed into this forest {or actually a rain forest} with our little map of the trails , one bottle of water and like, one Luna bar.  Well, I don’t know if you have been “mountain” biking. There was not a mountain in this forest BUT there were rocks and roots and a little dirt trail and straight up and straight down and many “do you know where we are?” and MUD everywhere and it was so hard. We couldn’t find our way back in time for KN to join a conference call SO we stopped and he was on the conference call with 8 people all over the country, in the “middle of nowhere” . {Technology is so awesome.} This biking thing pretty much took all day and we missed lunch, so after showering off all of the mud, yes, I kinda fell over on the trail at least twice, we ate an entire pizza at 4:00.

We headed into Seattle which was South, by going North about 2 hours out of the way to see Deception Pass. It is a big bridge that I read was a must see in WA. It was cold and raining and I had to wear the new coat KN bought me the minute we got to Whidby Island , because I…….packed entirely wrong……

Seattle is a beautiful city and we checked out the sights, ate great food, shopped and walked a lot. Unbeknownst to us, it was also HEMP fest. hahahahahaha. So Seattle. Apparently biscuits are big there, we had them twice. I have not had a biscuit since the last time I went to Kentucky Fried Chicken ten years ago. So glad that trend hasn’t landed here yet because I could really latch onto that. We tried to go for a run. KN is not real into running but I think it is such a great way to see a city, in the morning before there are too many cars and people. Well, that wasn’t such a great idea. Hello, it is very hilly there. We are running up this street huffing and puffing and KN pulls a muscle in his calf and is in pain and we are not close to the hotel. It was quite humorous on the walk back to the hotel, we are all in our running gear and we are getting passed on the sidewalk by people walking their dogs, tricycles…

On a fashion note, I noticed almost immediately that no one was wearing flip flops. It was in the eighties and 100% humidity. It seemed the shoe bootie  was very much on trend and I didn’t pack that either of course. So, guess what,  I bought a pair at the original Nordstrom, aahhhhhhh, now we’re talking.

Here are a few pics:

IMG_4765{Where are WE??}
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{KN at work, on the conference call}

IMG_2454{Deception Pass}

IMG_4787{Nice view of the Space Needle but it didn’t make running hills any easier}

IMG_4781{Pike Place Market, those bouquets were only $10!}

IMG_4785{Lunch….}

IMG_4798{Gum wall, bleck}

Pumpkin Muffins

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Maybe I jumped the gun a little bit with the pumpkin, as it is still August, but ya know, Libby’s is available all year….

I needed to bring a “breakfast item” to a parent, back to school, open house. As much as I wanted to swing through Dunkin Donuts for some donut holes, I thought I should try to actually put in a some effort and make something. Ugh. I hate when I get that feeling.

Anyway, I thought muffins would be a good idea. I found this recipe online and yay! they turned out great! Totally recommend them and if you want them to be extra special, I would double the crunchy topping portion and cover the entire top of the muffin. {More sugar, more better}

Oh and pumpkin happens to be very good for you too. {Vitamin A, minerals, Zea-Xanthim, etc.}

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Ingredients

Crunch Topping
3 tablespoon(s) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter melted
1/4 cup(s) demerara sugar (raw cane sugar, also called turbinado)
1/2 cup(s) chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon(s) cinnamon
Muffins
2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
1/2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
1 teaspoon(s) ground cloves
1 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon(s) ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cup(s) granulated sugar
3/4 cup(s) unsalted butter softened
2 eggs
15 ounce(s) 100% pure pumpkin (I use Libby’s)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two standard muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray.

For Topping: Combine flour, butter, demerara sugar, chopped pecans and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

For Muffins: Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl and mix well (I like to use a whisk). Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar at low speed until just blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; continue beating at medium speed until very light and fluffy, a few minutes. Add pumpkin and beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Turn speed down to low and mix in flour mixture until just combined. Use an ice cream scoop to transfer batter to muffin pans, filling each muffin tin about ¾ full. Sprinkle topping evenly over batter. Bake for about 30 minutes. Let cool on rack for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely (use a butter knife to lift them out of pan).

Recipe from Myreipe.com

Flower Power #2

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O.K. The first flower pant look was fun and dressy but honestly, who wears heels like that very often?

Decided to try a little bit of a preppy look with the flower pants. This is easy and  casual yet updated.  You could wear this anywhere.

Yay- that is the GOAL, right girls? Clothes you can wear anywhere AND feel like you look cute :) AND like you tried.

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H&M pants, J.Crew sweater, Tory Burch sandals

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