Date Night

Hi friends!

I didn’t get out during the day today, so I made sure to enjoy the warm weather after work. I went for a long walk on the beach in the park and took a few pictures along the way.

Approaching a hill…


My favorite part of the trail right now… it’s like a canopy of leaves and colors. Although, the pollen is so bad right now that I occasionally have to just shut my eyes because they sting so much!



Pretty in pink…


I stopped at the store to pick up some chopped dates. After seeing Ameena’s date muffins, I knew that I had to make them.

Of course I couldn’t leave the store without some Edy’s frozen tangerine bars. Perfect in the heat!


I followed the recipe exactly, and this is what came out of the oven 20 minutes later.



So delicious that I had two! I liked that the recipe kept things simple- there weren’t gobs of anything in it. Not too much sugar, not too much oil… just right. I like getting a date in each bite for a little bit of sweetness!

Have you seen the movie Date Night? I really want to see it- Tina Fey and Steve Carrell crack me up. Hopefully I’ll see it this weekend!


I have a confession to make: I’m newly addicted to all things containing cherry. It started last week when I had an iced nonfat dark cherry mocha at Starbucks. So, while I didn’t take many food pictures this week, I do have some of the cherry variety.

Cha-Cha Cherry from Arden’s Garden– it had cherries, pineapple, and mango in it. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too sweet, but it did have pulp in it.


White chocolate cherry bread from Great Harvest – you guys, this was amazing. So decadent and dessert-like… in Tobey’s words, “It’s not really bread.”


Up close… do you see the melty white chocolate? It was just out of the oven.


The original culprit- a tall, iced nonfat dark cherry mocha… you must try it! The cherry flavor isn’t artificial tasting at all, and the drink itself isn’t overwhelmingly sweet.


Kashi dark cherry chocolate bar:


Frozen cherries…


I used the whole bag of cherries in this next picture… oops! Sugar overload?

Following Caitlin’s lead, I blended together:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 15 frozen cherries
  • 1 tbs reduced-sugar Nesquik
  • 1 small banana

There are another 15 or so blended cherries on top… I told you that I’m addicted! This was perfect after a long walk outside, but next time, I would probably leave the chocolate powder out.


And one more… a chocolate covered cherry on top of milk chocolate frozen yogurt.


WOW- that was a lot of cherries! We’ll see if I can maintain my cherry intake this week, or if I’ll be dealing with cherry burn-out.

Do you like the cherry + chocolate combo, or does fruit + chocolate not do it for you? What two things do you love combining?


Easter Weekend

You guys… I finally passed! I don’t know if you remember, but I took a securities licensing exam back in November and failed by one point.

I was scared, stressed, and anxious to take it again. My employer requires this license, so I couldn’t just brush it to the side. So, I took January and February off from studying and started on the new material at the very end of February. I took it on Thursday (April Fools Day) and passed! So, that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with an extra 15-20 hours per week on my hands, but it sure feels good to have that out of the way! 🙂

Anyway, I spent most of the weekend with my family. Tobey and I headed out to my parent’s house on Friday, got massages, and just enjoyed the day with everyone.

My nephew, Colin, is getting so big! He’s almost 5 months old now and has two teeth:


Colin and his grandpa!


First dip in the pool:


Colin and his dad (my brother in law, John):


Lulu got a summer hair cut!


The weather was gorgeous all weekend, which made for some great patio time!

Salmon, green beans, mom’s homeade mac and cheese, fresh strawberries… yum.


And later, my brother got the fire ready for s’mores! I made two… I was in celebration mode all weekend and ended most sentences with “… because I passed.” Obnoxious!


Tobey and dad, deep in conversation over s’mores:


Caroline, serving as the s’more model:



Nothing like starting Easter morning with a yogurt parfait! I used Chobani vanilla greek yogurt, 1/2 of a chopped granny smith, and cinnamon raisin granola to make this.


I’m pretty obsessed with cool, fruity breakfasts and desserts right now. I have been blending frozen fruits and combining them with yogurt like it’s my job. Maybe it’s because the warm weather is finally here?

What’s your favorite summer treat? I love Edy’s frozen fruit bars… I just picked up their acai blueberry bars at the store tonight, which I’m pretty excited to try.


Sisterly Love

Hi guys! This weather is just incredible, isn’t it? I didn’t realize that it was so nice out today until I met my sister, Caroline, for a walk after work.

Caroline is in town from Charleston, so I was pumped that she was able to stop by. We walked about 4 miles (in shorts and short-sleeves!) and then went to Souper Jenny’s for dinner.


They’re only open for dinner on Tuesday nights, and they serve different things every week. Pastas, sandwiches, salads, you name it!


Caroline and I are so predictable- we both got My Dad’s Turkey Chili. I order it almost every time I go!


I don’t know what’s in there, but it is GOOD! (Jenny has a cookbook, but I’ve never looked to see if this recipe is in it.)


Random picture- So, the road that I take to get to my apartment has been partially blocked for the last two days. Why? Because they’re filming Owen Wilson’s new movie- Hall Pass– at Johnny’s Hideaway.

This cracks me up because Johnny’s is an original Buckhead institution- think 70s decor, strong drinks, dancing, and lots of Cougars!

Johnny’s is behind the trucks…


Next, Caroline and I headed over to Jujubees for some frozen yogurt. She was over my picture-taking at this point and clearly ahead of me. 😉


I got a small plain & passion fruit swirl, with strawberries, coconut and mochi on top. Nothing short of amazing and almost worth the $5 that I spent on it. That’s saying something because I’m a lot more frugal than you probably think that I am. 😉



Caroline doesn’t understand why I would want to “tell strangers about my life,” and for that, I’m posting her picture on here. Ha!


What are your favorite ice cream toppings? I have a new love for sweetened coconut, and I love chocolate chips on/in just about anything!



Mango italian ice!


Have you ever been to a Rita’s? This totally reminded me of their mango italian ice, which I used to eat all the time when I was growing up!

I had a bowl of granola for breakfast this morning, but I was still hungry so I got the blender out to make this. I combined 2 c of TJ’s frozen mango chunks + 3/4 c water, and blended away! (I didn’t measure, so that’s my best guess.)


I can already picture myself enjoying this often in the summer heat!

My brother had a tennis tournament in Greenville, SC, so Lulu (the family dog) stayed with me this weekend. On their way home, my mom, dad and brother stopped in town and we went to dinner at Seasons 52.



I love their food, wine, and the piano man! I especially love the fact that it’s just up the street from me. 🙂

To start, my mom and I shared the spinach salad. I ate about half before I remembered to take a picture…


We also shared the steak and cremini mushroom flatbread, which is eight little pieces of heaven. The crust is super thin and the caramelized onions are to die for!



Time for shot glass desserts!


My dad asked if the entire tray was for him. 😉 Getting him to Seasons 52 has been no small feat- he was convinced that the portions would be too small and healthy for him! I think he was pleasantly surprised, though.

Which one (or two) would you pick? The choices were: fresh fruit, mango cheesecake, rocky road, colada shortcake, key lime pie, chocolate peanut butter mousse, mocha macchiato, pecan pie, or carrot cake.


I picked the mocha macchiato! I’ve been known to grab two (right, Tobey?), but I stuck to just one tonight. And it was glass-licking good! (Come on, I have better manners than that…)


Mom and the boys got chocolate peanut butter mousse…


I think that I have a tapeworm today, because I definitely came home and had a small bowl of oatmeal. Don’t tell my dad that- I don’t want to perpetuate the stereotype that Seasons 52 is too portion-controlled!

What’s your favorite chain restaurant? Mine is a tie between Seasons 52 and PF Chang’s!


Real Simple Recipe

What a beautiful day! Spring is in the air, is it not? 🙂

After work, I walked to the park and did a (~3 mile) loop around it. I left my ipod at home and did my best to take in the sights & sounds around me (I’m trying to work on being PRESENT. ;)) – people walking their dogs, kids playing baseball, women walking and talking, boot camp, etc.




I stopped at the grocery store on my way home to pick up a few ingredients for tonight’s dinner- Real Simple’s Cheesy Baked Lasagna with Spinach and Artichokes. I don’t really care for artichokes, so I subbed in about 2/3 lb of asparagus for it. Asparagus was $1.99/lb, which I thought was a pretty good deal.


So delicious!


It was full of flavors and textures- cheesy, crunchy, and just overall delicious! The recipe made 4 servings, so I have just the right amount of leftovers. I already packed some up for tomorrow’s lunch.

My sister got me a subscription to Real Simple for Christmas and I love how reasonable (ingredients and cooking time) the majority of the recipes are.

Where do you look for recipes? Cookbook, online, magazines?


Baraonda in Midtown

Another weekend comes to an end… congrats to Pen and Lee for finishing the ING Marathon and Half Marathon today! The weather in Atlanta was beautiful on Friday and Saturday, but what was with it being dark & rainy ALL day today?!

My grandparents are in town from Lancaster, PA (Yes, I grew up in Amish country… but no, I’m not Amish. :)), so we met up on Friday night and had dinner at Baraonda in Midtown. Traffic was awful on Friday – part of Peachtree was closed for some reason – so it took me forever to get from Buckhead to Midtown.

Oh, but the weather was glorious and everyone was out enjoying it!


We got there around 7:30, and it was nice to still have some daylight!


I have only been to Baraonda once before, and it was on a date right after I moved to Atlanta in ’07. Needless to say, I was long overdue for another visit! I chose Baraonda because we needed a place that would have several meatless options (Fridays during Lent= no meat), and something for everyone (since there were 7 of us). Really, it has been on my mind since I read that Angie booked it for her reception!

Dad, Mom, Grandma (dad’s mom):


My mom & I split the gorgonzola + pear salad, which was served with the most delicious lemon honey dressing on the side.

We all ended up ordering pizzas, which worked out perfectly. I had the Quattro Formaggi, which had gorgonzola, mozzarella, fontina, and provolone cheeses on it. Total heaven! I brought 1/2 of it home and heated it up for lunch yesterday.

What’s your favorite kind of pizza? I really don’t discriminate- I like 4 cheese, white pizza, and veggie (no olives) the best!


Meet the grandparents!


Andrew (my 14 year old brother) and I:


Since my grandparents live in PA, I only see them a couple of times a year, so I always look forward to seeing them. I even told them about my blog. Hi grandma and grandpa! 🙂 Baraonda worked out well for us- we could all hear each other, and everyone loved what they ordered. As my dad ate, he proclaimed that he’s going to be back. 😉

So, how did I do on my goals last week?

  • Go to hot yoga once: Fail (I planned on going on Friday, but I didn’t have time to before I met my family for dinner. I plan on going earlier in the week this week- that way, I won’t have any excuses!)
  • Try one new recipe: Success (Chocolate mint pie! )
  • Study for 1-2 hours each day: Success
  • Turn the computer/tv off by 10:00 pm: Success (And as a result, I felt much more well-rested last week. I think that goal is a keeper!)



Chocolate Mint Pie

Hey guys! I just watched Jessica Simpson’s new show, called The Price of Beauty. I read that it debuted (on Monday night) to really low numbers, but I ended up really liking it. She travels all over the world with Ken Paves and Cacee Cobb, and they look at different cultures and their beauty treatments/practices. It’s really interesting, and I’ll definitely watch it again. Have you seen The Price of Beauty?

Last night, I met my goal of trying one new recipe this week. I know that doesn’t sound like a lofty goal, but I rarely follow recipes, so this goal works for me.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I made Kristin’s chocolate mint pie.  

Chocolate Mint Pie


  • 1 package sugar-free, fat-free instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 3/4 tsp peppermint extract, divided
  • 1 1/2 cup fat free whip cream, divided
  • green food coloring
  • 12 mint Oreo cookies
  • 1 pre-made Oreo cookie pie crust



1. Place Oreos in a plastic bag and crush until the cookie pieces are the size of marbles.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine pudding mix and milk. Whisk for 2 minutes, or until it is soft set. Fold in 3/4 cup cool whip and 1/2 tsp peppermint extract. Gently fold in 1 cup of crushed Oreos.

3. Pour filling into pre-made pie crust and spread until even.

4. In a separate bowl, combine 3/4 cup cool whip, 1/4 tsp peppermint extract, and green food coloring. Pour on top of the pudding and spread until even.

5. Top with remaining Oreo cookie pieces and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.



You’re going to laugh, but look what happened when I cut myself a piece tonight. You guys, I even chilled this overnight. Definitely not as pretty as Kristin’s pie turned out! I guess I could have put it in the freezer, but my refrigerator is set at normal temps, so I’m not sure why THIS happened…


Just because it didn’t look pretty doesn’t mean that it didn’t taste pretty! It’s really tasty, and it was very easy to throw together. Now if only I could keep my hand out of the cookie jar (The leftover mint Oreo cookies are better than I imagined!), then we’d be in business. 😉

If you like chocolate, and you like peppermint, then you should definitely make this!

Did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year? Not only did I forget to wear green (Who does that?) but I fell asleep on the couch around 9:00! What can I say- I was tired. 🙂


Shake It Up

Spring forward… how great was it that there was still daylight at 7:30 tonight? And how not so great was it that it was pitch black this morning?! Anyone?

I’m watching the 20/20 special on The Bachelor right now. Apparently, if something says “Bachelor,” then I watch it…

Yesterday, my dad & brother stopped in town on their way home from Augusta. I have been raving about Flip Burger and was convinced that they would love it, so we made our way over for a Krispy Kreme milkshake. I vowed to try a new one every time I go, otherwise I would have sprung for the nutella milkshake that I love.

Which one would you order?


The milkshake lady split the Krispy Kreme milkshake into two glasses for us…


One for me, and one for the boys. 😉 It was a glass of creamy, glazed vanilla goodness. They seriously put Krispy Kreme donuts in the concoction and blend away. Delicious, but the nutella shake is still in the lead… what can I say, I love chocolate!


They had already eaten lunch, but they couldn’t resist getting a late afternoon snack!


I think it’s safe to say that they’ll be back. Oh, and we confirmed that they are opening one in Buckhead. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing to have delicious milkshakes within an arm’s length!

Lulu spent the weekend in Augusta with the boys, so she was on guard patrol while we were in the restaurant. She watched us walk in and didn’t move from her spot… it was hilarious! How fierce does she look?


So, Christie wrote a great post about goal-setting today. I normally have “loose” goals in mind, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t stick to them. But, for this week, I want to shake things up. I wrote down my goals and made a plan for them, instead of just winging it and/or hoping for the best.

My goals for this week:

  • Go to hot yoga once
  • Try one new recipe
  • Study for 1-2 hours each day
  • Turn the computer/tv off by 10:00 pm (in order to get 8 hours of sleep)

So, here’s my plan:

Mon: yoga

Tues: pilates; book club

Wed: yoga; new recipe

Thurs: happy hour with friends

Fri: hot yoga

*I’ll study over lunch and after work each day.

Are you a goal-oriented person or do you just go with the flow? Do you have a current goal or two that you don’t mind sharing?


Food, Drink, Run

Last night, we had a girls night at Ormsby’s. It’s on the west-side of town, which is full of warehouses and industrial buildings. I’m surprised that we even found the place because there wasn’t a sign to be found… nothing on the exterior of the building OR door, which was kind of weird.

Ormsby’s had a really cool industrial feel to it… and it was smoke-free! Major plus in my book. 🙂 The restaurant was upstairs and the games (bocce ball, darts, pool, etc) were downstairs.

We met upstairs and ordered drinks before we were seated. I had a glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc.


For dinner, I ordered the Alice, which was a veggie club sandwich. On the side, I had baked sweet potato fries.


The sandwich was full of veggies, but kind of the bland side. I didn’t taste any seasoning or flavors outside of the butter that was on the toasted bread.

The baked sweet potato fries were delicious! When I make them at home, I normally slice them thin and bake until crispy. I will definitely be slicing them thicker next time- these were so good!


Me, Liz, Lauren:


After dinner, we went downstairs and kept chatting away, while some of the girls played darts. We didn’t end up getting home until after midnight, which would be okay if I WASN’T running the O’Highlands Jig & Jog 5k  at 8:00 in the morning!

I fell asleep just after 1:00, only to be woken up by a couple of screaming drunk guys outside. I was so mad that I actually went out on the patio to tell them that “some of us have to run a 5k in the morning!”, but they stopped before I saw them. Annoying!

It was 2:00 by the time that I fell back asleep and I thought there was no way that I’d get up in time to run. I set my alarm for 6:40, and my morning went something like this…

6:30 Wake up before alarm; “I’m definitely gonna run”

6:40 “I don’t feel like running… I want to stay in bed”

6:45 “Laura, you’re already awake… get up and run!”

7:05 Out the door, on my way to pick up my shirt and race number

7:20 “Ahh… I’m running a 5k! I’ve only run once this month!”


It wasn’t as bad as I’m making it seem. The weather was actually perfect. Okay, the first mile was a little rough, but I zoned out after that. But, the hills… oh, the hills!



My goal was to run it in under 30 minutes, and I finished in 29:31. We all met back up at the start and got a (sweaty) pic together!


We wanted to have brunch at Rosebud, but they didn’t open until 10:00 and we were ready to brunch at 9:00!

We headed over to Murphy’s instead. It was so quiet in the Highlands- no wait for a table!


They brought out muffins and biscuits to start. I took one of each, but only ended up eating the biscuit with strawberry preserves.



I ordered the Southwest Frittata, with a side of cheddar grits… yum!


The frittata was great- I ate ~1/2, and brought the other 1/2 home. I finished the grits, and this is going to sound crazy, but they weren’t that good! They tasted like cheese soup or something… too much cheese. Do you ever finish something that you’re not crazy about and wonder why you did, or is that just me?!


Do you like to run races? Why or why not? I rarely run, but I have to say, I felt so good afterwards that it made me want to sign up for another one. Granted, I crashed this afternoon and took an hour and a half nap, but that was because I didn’t sleep enough last night!