Cocoa Cookie Bars with Peanut Butter Drizzle

Let me tell you, if there is something I do not enjoy, it is packing. When it comes time to pack, I do everything in my power to not do it. I distract myself with snacks, internet, exercise, cleaning, dancing, and anything else I can possibly think of to keep me from the daunting task.

I think when it comes down to it, the reason I don’t enjoy packing is because it takes me so darn long to figure out what I want to wear on any given day, so having to plan for an entire weekend or a week full of outfits becomes so grueling. Inevitably I end up packing too much of everything, but it’s because I just don’t know what I will want to wear at any given moment.

(FYI this was a photo taken during packing struggles before Colombia)

I also have to take into consideration how I might be feeling… bloated, normal, tight jeans, loose jeans? Am I going to be walking all day or can I wear heels? What’s the weather like? All of these things a woman must consider as she is packing. My husband will never understand as hard as he tries.

Needless to say, last night as I was finishing up packing for my trip to Atlanta, I first ate dinner (that’s usually a priority), it looked something like this but different since this is a recycled photo…

I then cleaned, tried packing, gave up after 2 minutes, worked out on the treadmill, distracted myself on the computer, tried packing again…you see the pattern. Poor Moose was probably so confused as I tore around the house. He may have offered me a chill pill at one point, but I wouldn’t know. I was too busy distracting myself.

Does he not look GINORMOUS kangaroo in this photo? No offense to him or anything. 

The good news is, I am all packed. I am SO ready to take on Georgia. Bring on the southern accents, peaches, and Coca Cola.

Cocoa Cookie Bars (Gluten-Free)

A couple of days ago I flashed a photo of a dessert I made. Remember this?

The original plan was to make cocoa cookies (gluten-free style), but as I mixed away, the dough was actually more of a batter, so I rolled with it and came up with what I like to call Cocoa Cookie Bars (since they were supposed to be cookies after all).

They are gluten-free, made with almond flour, low in sugar, and super simple. I used Peanut Butter & Co.’s Dark Chocolate Dreams to drizzle on top, but you could use any creamy peanut butter you would like!

Cocoa Cookie Bars with Peanut Butter Drizzle
Print
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups almond flour
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp. almond milk
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Truvia
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Peanut butter drizzle (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat 9x9 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In small bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  3. In medium bowl, beat together remaining ingredients except peanut butter.
  4. Add dry ingredients gradually into wet ingredients. Mix until combined.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of pan comes out clean.
  6. Drizzle with creamy peanut butter (place in microwave for 30 seconds and give it a stir to help with drizzling).

I hope you all have a fantastic day! I may or may not be checking in this weekend. If I don’t get a chance, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to filling you in on my latest adventure to Georgia when I return.

Decisions, Decisions: HLS Day 3

It’s time for the final recap of The Healthy Living Summit. Presenting you with day 3 (Sunday)…More photos, less talky.

HLS 5k

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(photo courtesy of Courtney)

Healthy Breakfast and Good-Bye’s

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(photo courtesy of Jamie)

Harvard Square

Both Shannon and I had later flights on Sunday, so we took advantage of our extra time by walking to Harvard and admiring their beautiful campus and the surrounding area.

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It looks a little different from good old Minnesota State University, Mankato! It is a breathtaking campus.

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We oogled the fresh goods at a local farmer’s market and bought flavored nuts from Q’s Nuts, a local company, and I bought a sweet apple for the airport.

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A cupcake truck to tempt us on our walk home…we denied it after much contemplation.

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Back at the hotel, we had 45 minutes to shower, pack, and be down in the lobby to catch a cab back to the airport. In case you’re wondering, yes I did have to sit on my suitcase in order to close it, thanks to all of the great swag! My bag weighed in at 48.5 lbs on the way home.

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At the airport I polished off a small sample of Q’s nuts, my large farmer’s market apple, and then decided I needed some greenery, so wandered around until I found myself a nice little side salad. My first flight was from Boston to Chicago.

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A layover in Chicago (for 3.5 hours) led me to buy more food. Another salad…

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Hmm….what else do I want? So many temptations surrounding me.

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After about 45 minutes I decided that a bowl of vanilla Fro Yo was just what I wanted.  Those apples look pretty tasty though don’t they? I walk by them every time I am at the Chicago airport and drool by the window.

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Fro Yo two days in a row. That needs to stop now. Have you noticed I am quite the indecisive person? It’s not something I’m proud of. Smile with tongue out

Next flight, Chicago to Minneapolis. I munched on a box of Wild Harvest Organic Raisins from the conference and then tried to sleep (with no such luck). I arrived in Minneapolis around 12:30, and crawled into bed around 1 am. It was a LOOONNGG day of traveling and I was so happy to be home.

The main message I took from the conference is, be true to you and remember why you started your blog. I started B.N. to share my love for food and fitness in hope to inspire others (and motivate myself) to live a healthy lifestyle. What you read on my blog is all me. I write how I talk, and am real with you every day. Not every day is a great day, but I do try and find the positives in every situation and keep my blog uplifting and light. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

To the great friends I met over the weekend: you are all such incredible, inspirational people. I learned something from each and every one of you. I look forward to staying in touch over the years and hopefully meeting up with you all again!

I am so glad I made the decision to attend HLS12. I attained so much valuable information and am now finally starting to digest and process it all. I am in the process of putting some of what I learned to work! Expect great changes to Beautifully Nutty in the future.

I will be back to normal posts again. The recipes are piling up and I have some major catching up to do. I hope you’re excited!

Happy  Hump Day!

Destination Boston HLS12

I made it to Boston, but I was one tired girl when I arrived.

(Back track to Thursday)

I rolled out of bed at 4:00 am to get to the airport by 5:40 or so. My flight wasn’t until 7:35 but I need to be extra early to keep my anxiety level at ease.

As I’m waiting to board my 7:35 flight, they make an announcement that due to weather in Chicago (which is where I had a layover), that there would be a half hour delay. Okay, no big deal. I go make an extra lap around the airport and come back. Another announcement…Captain wants to wait for the storm to pass. Take-off has been delayed until 9:35. Now I’m ticked.

I understand this happens and it’s for the safety of everyone involved, but I was just disappointed because Dana was waiting for me out in Boston, so that we could spend part of the day together. He was out there for business this week so the plan was when I got in at 1:30, we would go hit up the town and explore Boston together, and then he would be taking off Friday morning.

This is getting long, so long story short, I switched flights and airlines and flew standby on a direct flight from Minneapolis to Boston that took off at 10:30. I arrived in Boston around 2:30 (??) and Dana picked me up at the airport. I ran into a friend from college at the airport btw! Such a small world!

By the time we checked into our hotel, got situated, changed, and went outside to wait for the free hotel shuttle, it was 4:00 already.

(Check out the view from my room. Wowzas I love it! I love this hotel…more to come on that!)

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Even with limited time, we still made a pretty good dent in the city. We took the hotel shuttle to the T, and took the T to The Freedom Trail which is a 2.5 mile walk around part of the city, and it passes many historical landmarks. Dana and I followed along with an app on his phone and were able to catch up on some of our history that way.

Did I mention I hadn’t eaten lunch yet? Okay, I don’t function very well when I’m hungry. So, as we made our way through the walk, we were also scoping out places to eat. I had a hankering for seafood especially after Dana texted me a photo of his lobster roll from the day before.

After walking past handfuls of gelato stands, I was tempted to eat gelato for dinner, but decided something more substantial was probably a better idea. We decided on Salty Dog which is located in the Faneuil Marketplace.

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This photo below if the only proof I have that Dana was with me yesterday. I didn’t get one photo of the two of us! Bummer. We have the memories though. Winking smile  

We started with a shrimp cocktail appetizer that we split between the two of us. Such fresh perfect shrimp. I could get used to this.

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For dinner, we split the lobster sandwich that came with a side of coleslaw and fries, but we swapped the fries for a side of sautéed veggies. After seeing Dana’s lobster roll photo from the day before, I was expecting a lot more food than this. I guess that’s the difference between a lobster roll and a lobster sandwich? Oh well. The food was delicious, with a ginormous chunk of fresh lobster in the sandwich, a light spread of mayo, lettuce, and a buttery bun. I just left feeling kind of  hungry still.

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After dinner we continued our Freedom Trail journey and did our tourist thing. I am embarrassed to post this photo as I am sweaty/tired/dirty/hungry, but I do it for you.

Paul Revere’s house:

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The USS Constitution:

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I have to admit, I am a little ashamed at my lack of historical knowledge. History was my least favorite subject in school so I didn’t really pay very good attention. It isn’t too late to start learning now though! I enjoyed learning about some of the history of Boston. What a beautiful area.

We got back to the hotel around 8:00 pm and we were both famished again. We hopped in the rental car (way too exhausted to walk any more) and made our way to Trader Jo’s and to Whole Foods. We made ourselves a Mediterranean inspired bowl of goodness at Whole Foods and ate that as our second dinner. I also bought a bag of Cinnamon Almonds from Trader Jo’s which are HIGHLY addicting.

Friday

Now it’s Friday morning and I am being a lazy bum in my room until some of the festivities of the Healthy Living Summit begin! I was in dire need of sleep yesterday and slept for 10 hours last night. The hubby is back home now. I loved every second of having him here.

Now that HLS12 is finally here, I feel like it’s the first day of school. I am full of anticipation, anxiousness, nervousness, and excitement! Now that I am fully rested, I am pumped to get this party started! Cannot wait to meet all of the other attendees, and can’t wait to fill all of you in on the events of the weekend.

I hope you are all having a great Friday. Catch up with you soon!

Cabin Weekend Photo Recap

We had such an absolutely amazing time away at the cabin this weekend. It was a sunny, relaxing, laugh-until-your-cheeks-hurt, 100% laid-back good time. :smile: The family members at the cabin were my aunt and uncle Chip and Patti, two of their kids Aaron and Ali, my aunt and uncle David and Doreen, their two boys Matthew and Nathan (their cabin is next door to Chip and Patti’s), my mom and dad, and Dana and me.

This post doesn’t need many words, so how about a photo cabin recap instead? Here it goes…

I didn’t want to leave on Sunday; I had such a blast. This is definitely what the doctor had ordered. Thank you to my gracious aunt and uncle/Godfather for having us out to your lake place. I hope we can make this happen more often!

In case anyone was wondering, I did manage to stick to the SCD all weekend. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I really want to reach my hands into the popcorn bag and the peanut M & M’s, but I resisted and snacked on some cantaloupe instead.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend as well! I have a healthy and delicious nacho recipe coming your way tomorrow. You’re probably going to want to check back. :wink:

Have a great day!

Well Rested, Well Fed

Well hello there! I am back from an amazingly relaxing 8 day vacation in the Dominican Republic. Vacation was filled with copious amounts of food, sun, rain, sand, exercise, and most importantly, a lot of R and R. It was perfect. I look forward to filling you in on my trip over the next week or so. I took lots of photos. Here is a brief introduction to our trip.

The first day we got there it literally monsooned. We took advantage of our balcony and played a few card games while drinking a cold beverage and getting into vacation mode.

Most nights we ate at the all-inclusive buffet at the resort but a few nights we made reservations at the hotel’s themed restaurants. This photo below was taken at the Caribbean themed restaurant. I had fish called Mori or Mauri (?) which reminds me that I want to google it and find out more about what I ate exactly. It was a very delicious white fish that did not taste fishy and had a fairly firm texture.

While on vacation, I managed to eat a lot of veggies and fruits. I steered mostly clear of the meats as I am very picky with meats plus I don’t know the quality control measures and I am bit weird with that sort of thing–hello food safety MSU. I indulged in fresh breads, pasta, rice and beans, pastries, and cocktails on a daily basis. I have more food photos which I will share later.

Every day we did a lot of this….

Note that is my bittersweet smile as this photo was taken on our last morning there. The bugs really like me in the Dominican, as I walked away with a grand total of 40 bug bites (Dana only got a few). You can see a couple of the bites on my left shoulder. They itch like crazy, but if that’s the only bad thing I can say about the trip, I am okay with that. It’s a sacrifice I can make. :smile:

I am proud to say that we exercised one way or the other every day except for the first monsoon day there. We ran on the beach, went for walks on the beach, hit the “gym” at the resort, or went for a hike.

That’s all I’m going to share today. I am off to tackle 5 loads of laundry and apply some anti-itch cream to my bites. I can’t wait to eat my normal foods again. The foods I really missed were peanut butter, greek yogurt, and my mongo salads. We already went grocery shopping this morning and restocked the fridge with all of our good healthy foods. It’s time to get back on track. I am also looking forward to getting back on track with normal workouts. Running on the beach was great and all, but there was only so far we could go plus it’s extremely challenging running in the sand. More on that later.

I am out for now. Happy to be home! As much as I love traveling and vacationing, there is nothing quite like coming home.

 

I Know My ABC’s

I got this idea from my gal pal Kalkal and thought it would be a good time. I changed it up a tad and came up with this! Have fun.

A is for Age: 26

B is for favorite Breakfast currently: Overnight Chia Seed Yogurt Bowl

C is for frequent Cravings: peanut butter and chocolate

D is for Date night: I love quiet date nights where we make a nice dinner together, play games and go out for ice cream.

E is for favorite kind of exercise: Man, I love it all. I really enjoy Zumba and am learning to love running.

F is for irrational Fear: big spiders

G is for Gross food: slimy, chewy fishy tasting seafood (I like non slimy, chewy, or fishy tasting seafood though)

H is for Happy thoughts: vacation, family, babies, puppies, ice cream

I is for something Important: family, friends and happiness

J is for current Jam: Welch’s Grape Natural Spread. Oh, you mean jam like music? Probably a song too embarrassing to mention.

K is for Kids: No kids for me yet but in the future, yes. I love kids.

L is for favorite Lunch: PB banana wrap with cinnamon

M is for most recent way you spent your Money: Underwater camera for our trip

N is for something you Need: full body massage (I still have a massage gift card from the wedding but want to use it post half-marathon!)

O is for Occupation: Registered Dietitian

P is for Pet Peeve: I feel bad when I think about this question because I have a lot of pet peeves. The worst though…when people are late.

Q is for a Quote:

R is for something Random about you: I have to make sure all of the wrinkles are out of my pillow case before I go to sleep

S is for favorite healthy Snack: peanut butter and banana or trail mix

T is for favorite Treat: ice cream (is that my third time mentioning ice cream?)

U is for something that makes you Unique: I was hospitalized with a kidney stone when I was 16 years old

V is for favorite Vegetable: sugar snap peas

W is for my Worst hairdo: in 5th and 6th grade I would sport the princess leia buns…you know, like these. Except, not so large and not covering my ears. Little bun buns.

X is for X-rays you’ve had: dentist, wisdom teeth removal, and when I cut my arm on a broken wine glass.

Y is for favorite movie from Youth: Wizard of Oz, Willy Wonka

Z is for your time Zone: central

There you have it. The ABC’s of Melanie.

Two Tickets to Paradise

Well friends, we are all packed up…

And we’re off. Off we go into the wild blue yonder flying high into the sky. For those of you who may have missed it, Dana and I are going to be spending a good chunk of time in the beautiful Dominican Republic. We plan to lay on the beach, swim, go on at least one tour of the countryside, hike up the waterfalls, rest, eat, drink, and do whatever the heck we want.

We do plan to continue training for the half marathon while we are there. All of our running gear is packed and we will hit the beaches a few of the mornings for beautiful, scenic jogs.

I had a hard time saying bye to this little man. He gives the most painstaking puppy eyes that get me every time.

This photo of Moose and Dana was from Wednesday. Moose was NOT that happy looking when we left for our trip. He is going to be in very great hands though and will have a blast going for walks, runs, and probably getting even more attention that he gets from us.

Paradise awaits. I am off. I have a few posts planned for you all while I am away. Hope you enjoy them. I look forward to catching up with you when I get back!

Bright Lights, Lots of Sights, Tasty Delights

Andddd we’re back! New York was such a good time. I want to fill you in on the trip but don’t want to bore with all of the details, so I will do my best to condense without missing anything important! Less talkie, more photos.

Starting with the food.

Arctic Char over artichoke hearts, potatoes, carrots, and peas at Kellari Taverna. This was my first time eating Arctic Char and I enjoyed it. It was a more mild version of salmon.

Cinnamon Honey Oatmeal with bananas from our hotel, The Hilton in the Fashion District. We were pretty happy with our hotel. We liked staying in the fashion district because it was far enough away from the hustle and bustle where we felt like we could get away and relax, yet close enough that we could walk to our destinations and be in the middle of it all when we wanted to be.

Salad Bar from a whole foods deli down the street from our hotel. I loved the asparagus! They had some sort of Asian-inspired peanut sesame and I’m hoping to try and recreate these at home.

Caramel Macchiato from Roastown Coffee (with skim milk). Sinfully delicious.

Lazzara’s Hawaiian Pizza–which is said to have the best thin crust pizza in the fashion district. It was truly delicious.

Food not pictured: 1 lb bag of Rold Gold pretzels, numerous free apples, Peanut Butter Cookie LARABAR, and breakfast and lunch on the plane. On the flight home I had a pretty good grilled chicken salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Not bad for airplane food!

And the great company and some of the sights….

My cousin Steph and her boyfriend, Jeff at Kellari’s for dinner. Thank you for meeting us for dinner, we had a great time!

In the middle of Times Square.

 I caught myself singing many New York inspired songs throughout the weekend. “These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you, now you’re in New York,” “It’s up to you New York, NEWWWWw YOOOrrrk,” “I’m in the city, trick,” and many more. Dana did his fair share of it too, you couldn’t really help it. It definitely is a whole different world out there.

The 9/11 Memorial Site. It is still a work in progress but is very beautiful so far.

Central Park.

 Rockefeller Center Skating Rink.

At the top of Rockefeller center at night. Beautiful views!

Check out that moon. Dana and I were the only ones who seemed to be in awe over it which was strange because it was spectacular.

We thought it was neat knowing that while we were on top of the Rockefeller Center building, the SNL cast was getting ready to tape in the NBC studio which is inside the Rockefeller. Jonah Hill was going to be hosting! We asked the concierge man if there were by ANY chance last-minute tickets but of course, no such luck. Maybe next time.

And of course, we had to end with our usual “airport” shot. I was extremely tired and combatting a bit of stomach issues, but other than that I was okay!

Now that’s what I call short and sweet. I spared showing you all ninety some photos from the weekend. You’re welcome. :smile: I had an amazing weekend and it was so great to spend quality time with the hubby.

We are very glad to be home and were greeted with a happy doggie and gorgeous weather here in MN. As soon as we got home we opened up the house to start letting out some of the stuffy winter air. We ran some errands, stocked our fridge full of fruits and veggies, and I headed out for a walk around the neighborhood.

Now I should go tend to the inevitable unpacking. I don’t know which I dislike more, packing or unpacking. Also, I have some chicken breasts working in the crock pot so that we will have it to add to meals this week.

I hope you all had a great weekend! Happy daylight savings time!

7 Healthy Eating Tips When You Are Away

Mark this on your calendar because this rarely happens…I ate a SAVORY breakfast this morning. Nine times out of ten I will gravitate towards a sweet breakfast but I figured I would go out of my usual this morning, and cook up an egg white omelet. I only set off the smoke alarm three times! :smile: It’s very sensitive. I sautéed some onion and mushroom and then added them to my omelet along with fresh tomato. On the top, I sprinkled on nutritional yeast and then of course a drizzle of ketchup.

It turned out really well, and I even got some veggies in already! I didn’t get up for my morning workout this morning but plan to go after work. It is supposed to be gorgeous here today so I am hoping to run outside!

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While amidst our vacation in California, I started thinking about how difficult it can be to eat healthy while away. I feel like no matter how hard I try, I still end up feeling a little bit “off” and not feeling so hot. It’s easy to get a little off track when you’re not in the comfort of your own home with your usual foods and usual routine.

Here are some ideas I came up with to help you stay on track when are away from home.

1. Pack a piece of fruit (or two) in your carry-on. If you need a snack, you have a healthy one right on hand. Plus, fruit is full of water which is important while traveling as it is extremely easy to become dehydrated. Veggies are great too, but not always as portable as fruit.

2. Try to eat vegetables with at least one of your meals throughout the day.

3. Pack some healthy energy bars like my favorite, Lara Bars. During vacations, we often go a long time in between meals without anything to eat. These bars pack well and carry well and are perfect for a burst of energy. Throw a couple in your purse or carry on.

4. When possible, eat breakfast at your hotel. Now, be careful with this one as many continental breakfasts can be full of low-energy carb traps (muffins, bagels, sugar-packed cereals). Try and find some instant oatmeal and get creative with mix-in’s: milk, banana, apple, peanut butter. Oatmeal has soluble fiber, which helps to keep you feeling full, longer. Better yet, throw a couple of instant oatmeal packs (from home) in your bag in case your hotel doesn’t offer it. If hard-boiled eggs are an option at breakfast, snag one of those as well. The protein in eggs will help tide you over for a while and give you a lot of needed energy for the day. Plus, free continental breakfasts are very nice on the wallet!

5. Try to eat protein at each meal: eggs, greek yogurt, fish, tofu, chicken, nuts, whatever it may be.

Fish Tacos

6. Carry a refillable water bottle with you at all times, and drink plenty of water throughout the day, at least 8 cups. Also, keep a glass of water by your bedside at night to encourage yourself to get a few sips of water in at night too.

Can you spot the water bottle?

7. Be cautious of portions while out to eat. Remember that most restaurants serve you twice as much food as you really need. Be mindful while out to eat and stop eating when you feel full. This one is hard for me sometimes because some foods are just SO good. I always regret it later though. I’m still learning too!

So there you have it, a few tips to help you to stay healthy while away from home, whether on vacation, for work, a child’s sporting event, etc. Also, don’t forget about the exercise part. Just because you are away doesn’t mean you can’t find time to squeeze in a few hotel push ups or a quick run.

Give these tips a shot next time you are away from home. Come to think of it, these are good tips for when you are home as well!

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Last night we headed to mom and dad’s for a birthday dinner for Dana. His birthday is tomorrow but we have been celebrating since Saturday. Lucky boy! That is how I like to celebrate my birthday too, with a birthday week!

I give mom an A+ on dinner last night. Turkey lettuce wraps with peanut sauce, brown rice, and mandarin oranges.

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! It was so nice to have dinner made for us too! Muchos gracias mom and dad!

I’m off to work. Have a great Tuesday!

Jam-Packed Fun

Yay for Hump Day! We are half way through the work week! Alright, I hope you aren’t sick of this yet because I am almost done filling you in on the California trip.

Day #3: Sunday morning began with an awesome breakfast on the beach at The Beachcomber Cafe which is located on the same beach that we walked on the previous day, Crystal Cove. Brandon had made reservations for us a couple of days in advance because it is such a popular place. Even with reservations we still had to wait about 10 minutes, which was obviously no big deal. We are on the beach after all, so nothing is a big deal and we had a beautiful ocean view to gaze at while we waited.

It was a little chilly oceanside this morning, but we were  nice and cozy inside the restaurant. The restaurant is fairly open, but they do have a screen up to keep out some unwanted birdies and block a little bit of the wind. They also had heat lamps and even blankets! We all ordered coffee right away as we waited for our food.

Brandon, Will, and Dana

And then this piece of heaven was delivered to me. Macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup. I was a happy camper.

Next stop was the Farmer’s Market. This was my second trip to heaven of the day. Not only did they have an abundance of fresh produce, they also had so many great samples out! Not that I really needed more food at this point, but this was such a great opportunity for me to try a few new things. I tried persimmons and pommelos for the first time,  and sampled a cara cara orange, fresh raspberry, and really great flavored balsamic vinegar. They also had a bunch of veggies of course, bread from a local bakery, and more.

They had a handful of food trucks parked there which are becoming so popular! We didn’t get the whole food truck experience this time but we were at least able to walk by them and see what they look like. I know Dana has eaten at a food truck here in MN, but I haven’t yet, so it was fun for me to see them.

After the farmer’s market, we headed to Balboa Island which is a sweet little town in Newport beach. We walked the sidewalks and saw some very interesting homes. Each home had so much personality. One house could have a completely modern look, where the next has a Tuscan look, and then the next a standard all-American looking home with a white picket fence. I loved seeing all of these homes and seeing all of the beautiful landscaping in their “yards.”

We sat by the beach for a while and soaked up the feeling of the warm sun on our skin. I miss that feeling! It’s been since October or so since I’ve felt the wonderful warm sun like that.

Across the way from us is what I believe to be the actual “island.” You can take a ferry over to the other side where they have a ferris wheel, restaurants, a large beach and more. We decided not to do that this time.

We had another island to get to. Fashion Island! Fashion Island is an outdoor mall in Orange County which offers a variety of designer stores and specialty boutiques. We did a lot of window shopping and people watching. I didn’t end up buying anything while I was there, and I realized while I was there that I am really not very fashionable. I have always known that I am not a “fashionista”, but it really hit me as I was looking at the clothing designs in these shops, not liking anything I saw, and knowing that these were considered fashionable items, how much I was lacking in the style department. Oh well! I guess everyone will have to accept me for who I am, sweatpants and all. :smile:

On our way to fashion island, we made a pit-stop at a local cafe for a quick bite to eat. I was in serious need of veggies, so I decided on the cobb salad piled high with lettuce, sprouts, tomato, cucumber, egg, and turkey and ham.

It was healthy and fresh, and helped me replenish my vegetable status for the day. After we walked around the shops for a while, I was exhausted, and really wanted to just go back to Brandon’s and relax. Considering I was the lead decision maker this weekend (kidding), we headed back home to relax. Dana and I packed up our stuff, and showered and then the men got to making dinner a few hours later.

For dinner, we decided just to make fajitas at home. I was getting a little tired of eating out at restaurants and I think everyone else was too. It was a good executive decision. Take a look at Chef Dana in action. He cooks, he cleans, I am one lucky woman!

In no time, these healthy delicious fajitas were ready to enjoy.

We spent the rest of the evening watching the Oscar’s and hanging out. It was pretty neat watching the Oscar’s knowing that we were so close to the action, and because we had seen some of the outside setup on Friday when we were in Hollywood! Alas, it was time to head to the airport for our red-eye flight. We were hoping to spot some celebrities heading home after the Oscar’s, but we had no such luck. I was however able to do some quick exercises while we waited for our flight. I looked like a fool, but I did lunges, tricep dips, and even threw a few burpees in there. I was “that” girl at the airport. Like I said, like me for who I am, sweatpants and lunges at the airport, and all. :wink:

We were kind of tired and I was completely slap happy at this point. Two flights, and one layover including one almost missed plane, and we were home.

Thanks for letting me relive my California trip with you all! I had such a great time as you can tell. We had a jam packed trip full of great food, friends, and wonderful sights. Dalynn, once again thank you for hanging out with us and letting us stay with you Friday, and Brandon thank you for being so great to us and showing us around! I hope to see you both again soon!

Can’t wait for our next Vaca! Back to reality for now and back to getting my diet and exercise routine on track again!

Have a great day!