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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…

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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!

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Pretty in pink…

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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!

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

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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!

-Laura

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.

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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.”

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

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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.

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Kashi dark cherry chocolate bar:

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Frozen cherries…

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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.

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

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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?

-Laura

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:

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Colin and his grandpa!

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First dip in the pool:

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

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Lulu got a summer hair cut!

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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.

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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!

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

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Caroline, serving as the s’more model:

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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.

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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.

-Laura

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.

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

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

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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.)

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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…

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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.😉

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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.😉

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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!

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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!

-Laura

Introducing…

Mango italian ice!

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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.)

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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.

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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…

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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!

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Time for shot glass desserts!

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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.

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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…)

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Mom and the boys got chocolate peanut butter mousse…

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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!

-Laura

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.

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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.

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So delicious!

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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?

-Laura

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!

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

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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):

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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!

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Meet the grandparents!

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Andrew (my 14 year old brother) and I:

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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!)

Night!

-Laura