Show ‘N Tell: Favorite Pins

Pinterest and I go through waves of love for one another, but I do have to say, if I find something on the Internet, I “save” it by putting the URL into Pinterest and creating a pin. It’s the easiest way to find something again (besides our trusty friend Google)! I save so many quotes, organization ideas, and recipes. My most recent Pinterest creation actually came from a Facebook video, but of course I copied the link and saved it right to my Pinterest boards. Read about the DIY Makeup Remover here!

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Link up with to share your favorite pins here!

 My mom and I usually go Pin-crazy during the holidays. After we’ve (okay let’s be honest…she…) planned the menu, we start cooking…and then we brainstorm about what ELSE we just need to make. Ha! Usually, that’s where Pinterest comes in handy. We’ve made some pretty festive creations in the last few years!

Holiday Inspired Treats

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Easter 2015: We made fruit pizza in the shape of an Easter egg. 🙂 This recipe was our inspiration, but we ended up using crescent roll for the crust, a mixture of cool whip and jello mix for the “icing”, and then our choice of fruit for the toppings.

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Thanksgiving 2014: Cheese platter in the shape of a turkey! Inspiration found here.

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Easter 2010: Major throwback! Veggies & crackers with cheese spread! I imagine we used something similar to this recipe, but I can’t be certain. My mom is the kind of person who makes up recipes as we cook together. 🙂

A few other successful food pins:

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Sesame Street Fruit & Vegetable Trays

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Watermelon Basket

My mom made both of these for luncheons at her school. She’s a teacher and her coworkers love to do festive get-togethers in the teacher’s lounge! I helped with the Sesame Street trays, but I cannot take any credit for the watermelon basket. Check out the circle pieces of watermelon inside the basket…she used the cookie dough scoop to make those pieces! My best advice in making any kind of platter or design with your food is to Google the picture and then just make it your own. That’s how we have had the best luck!

As a student teacher, I also put together these snack bags during our Read Across America! week at school.

It was perfect because it included so many kid-friendly snacks and they each related to a different Dr. Seuss book!

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These treat bags might be making a comeback this March when we celebrate Read Across America! week again. Who doesn’t love popcorn, animal crackers, Cheerio’s, Goldfish, and M&M’s… #crowdpleaser

Dessert

Cassie blogs over at Hi Sugarplum! and she posts the best recipe for “Christmas Crack” every year. Its official name is Salted Caramel Pretzel Toffee. I first made this in 2014 and it’s one of those treats that you have to hold yourself back from eating. The salty/sweet combination is so good!

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Shay Shull’s Neiman Marcus bars are also perfectly sweet and salty!

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And then there are those pins that you just try and try and TRY to recreate, and they never quite work.

Take Christmas 2013, for example. We tried to make Christmas trees out of vegetables. Our inspiration picture was perfect!

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All photo credit here to Google Images. I’m pretty sure we didn’t take a picture of our trees on purpose. Hahaha

In reality…our trees did not turn out like this. My uncle could not stop laughing because they looked like green bushes on a platter. And that was BEFORE anyone started eating from them! That’s the thing with these festive platters…how life-like (or tree-like) can they look once people start eating them?!

I was also obsessed with making this R-shape made of crayons for my cooperating teacher when I was a student teacher. I tried every night for a week to make it look like the inspiration picture, and it was just not happening. I tried on the carpet, I tried on a cutting board, I tried on the kitchen table…nope. I am also a perfectionist, so if it wasn’t going to look like the original, I was not going to be happy. 😉 I could’ve ordered this on Etsy for like $50, but I was determined to do it myself! In the end, I think my cooperating teacher ended up with a handwritten note from me and a gift card. #sooriginal #oops

And then there was the 3 (or 4?) ingredient fudge that my mom and I saw in a video on Facebook. We’ve made a more complicated fudge recipe in the past, so we know what it is supposed to look and taste like…this recipe was just not working.

Doesn’t it look so appetizing?! I think it had something to do with the condensed milk that we used. We will never know. It just tasted so strange and never became the right consistency!

It has now become apparent that I only love pins involving food. 😉 I accept my flaws. Ha! What are some of your Pinterest successes and failures?

Follow me on Pinterest!

 

Healthy, Happy Holidays

Can you have a healthy AND happy holiday? It is possible.

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The holiday season used to seriously stress me out. Not because my shopping wasn’t done or my schedule was overbooked, but simply because for a few days, I felt like I wouldn’t be in control of what I was eating. I would just remind myself that I just had to get through these few days and then I could get back to my normal eating and workout schedule. But guess what? You (and I) are not here to survive the holiday season, you are here to enjoy it. I told you that I don’t appreciate being told I have to “work off” everything I am eating. So here are a few tips and tricks I’ve started applying to my life in the last few years. 🙂

1. Drink enough water. Very often, when hunger strikes, you are actually thirsty and that is your body’s way of telling you. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. That means if you weigh 120 lbs, you should aim to drink 60 oz of water every day. And then when you feel hungry, you will know that you really are! Enjoy feeling full and hydrated.

2. Keep a consistent sleep schedule. In a perfect world, we would all get 8 hours of sleep and be well rested each and every morning. For most of us, that is not the case, and trying to play “catch up” when we have a few days off is very tempting! Unfortunately, it’s detrimental to your sleep and your cognitive functioning to play this catch up game. Try to aim for those 8 hours that you don’t usually get by going to bed at a reasonable hour and waking up around the same time you usually do. Enjoy being well-rested! I’m currently working on this as I’ve fallen down the Netflix “Parenthood” rabbit hole. Oops… 😉

3. Choose to feed yourself healthy food. This sounds strange, but when I cook for myself, I typically make something that would be labeled “healthy” or “balanced”. I truly enjoy these meals, but they serve another purpose. There will be many times during the holiday season when a coworker brings you a delicious snack or you meet up with an old friend for dinner. If you are planning healthy meals and snacks for yourself for the rest of the day, those out of the ordinary snacks and meals won’t be as big of a deal. Enjoy that time with others!

4. Go with the flow. If you are following a specific diet or exercise plan through the holidays, know that it will likely be interrupted in some way, shape, or form. I’m not saying you cannot continue to stick to your plan, because you totally can! But you should expect some minor interruptions. You might find yourself working out at a different time of day than you typically do and you might find yourself having a homemade Christmas cookie for dessert. Enjoy these interruptions. They are only here once a year. 🙂

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The holiday season occasionally still makes me feel stressed out, but I know how to balance my “normal” life with my “holiday” life. There’s no reason to throw your health out the window during this time and promise yourself you will start fresh in January. Do little things every day and it will make a difference. Take a walk with your family. Volunteer to make a healthy side dish for Christmas dinner. Enjoy this very special time of year!

Eat All The Vegetables (And All The Pasta)

When I walk into my kitchen to make dinner, I am usually craving a certain flavor. Is that normal?! Some flavor combinations that I crave, in case you are thinking I am crazy, are syrup and a glass of milk, sauce and cheese, and of course, my beloved veggie omelette and sweet potato. Although I guess that last one is technically a meal and not a flavor. But do you see what I’m saying?! Sometimes, there is just one flavor that you know that you want! One of my favorite flavors is sauce and cheese. 🙂

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One of my classic favorite meals. So exciting, I know.

I don’t profess to be a food blogger, and for that you should be thankful because I literally have no idea what I’m talking about. It irritates me when the ingredient list includes more than five items, I typically cook when I’m hangry therefore I am very impatient, and I own probably 7 spices and never have the one that the recipe calls for. On the flip side, I am always trying to find something new to love making and eating and I tend to search for healthy alternatives. I like to know that I’m eating a variety of food to help me be my healthiest, because if left to my own devices, I would try to survive on chips, queso, oatmeal, and yogurt. #keepingitreal

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There was a time when I wouldn’t eat any pasta within a ten-mile radius. Pasta = carbs and that was one of the things I wasn’t “allowed” to eat…according to my own ridiculous standards. The plate of deliciousness that you see above is buffalo chicken parmesan from The Macaroni Grill and yes I ate every last bite of it (although I did eat it in two different meals…so. much. food)! However, buffalo chicken parmesan, especially in this quantity, is not a meal I would add to my regular rotation of lunches or dinners throughout the week. Two ways that I eat “pasta” without actually eating pasta are in the form of zoodles and spaghetti squash. For the record, I do not think carbs are the devil (your body needs them) and I do actually eat real pasta now. 🙂 I am just always trying to add vegetables to my meals because they are easy to skip (in my opinion), but they are nutrient dense and I need them!

Zucchini Noodles

Cook Time: 2 minutes (microwave)
Need: Zucchini, spiralizer, pasta toppings of your choice

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First, we have zucchini noodles, or as you might see them called on Pinterest, “zoodles”. I buy zucchini every week at the grocery store to cook with or eat in some way, and yet this is the best picture I could find of my zoodles. Probably because every time I make them, they look pretty unappetizing even though they taste great. 🙂 Here, I just topped the zoodles with sauce of my choice, some mozzarella, and turkey meatballs.

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To make zoodles, you need a spiralizer. This is the easy-peasy spiralizer that I own, and while there are much more complicated ones out there, for $14.99 this one does the trick just fine. You have the option of moving the white cap on the top to either end, depending on whether you want thick or think zoodles. With zucchini in one hand and spiralizer in the other, you just twist your zoodles into a bowl. I am lazy and make mine in the microwave (though the stove is always an option, too). Cover your zoodles with a paper towel to soak up moisture and you have the base of your meal ready to go in two minutes!

Spaghetti Squash

Cook Time: 10 minutes (microwave) OR 35 minutes (oven)
Need: Spaghetti squash, knife and fork, pasta toppings of your choice

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This one is a little more complicated than zoodles. Spaghetti squash is pretty easy to find in the produce section of the grocery store. Once you find it, you will wonder how you ever missed it. 😉 If you are lucky, the produce sticker on your squash might also have directions on it! I have cooked spaghetti squash in the microwave and in the oven. One night I had more time (and patience) than I had on another night. Ha!

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Don’t worry, you aren’t going to eat this part. 😉 No matter how you are cooking your squash, you must first use a fork to poke holes in the squash. I forgot this step when I cooked my squash this past weekend in the oven, and it took FOREVER to bake. Don’t omit this step! Once you have done that, then you can cut it in half.

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Just like a pumpkin…you have to get all the strings and seeds out of the squash. Once you are left with two “bowls”, you can season it with whatever spices you have on hand. I used pepper and red pepper flakes.

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When I took this picture, I was cooking this squash in the microwave for ten minutes.

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Once your squash cooks, you will be able to get your “spaghetti”. I used a fork to pull it all to the middle.

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I had a plate nearby for all the spaghetti…

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…and when I was done getting all the “noodles”, this is what my squash looked like! There should be nothing left. 🙂

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I added chicken and this delicious sauce from Trader Joe’s!

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If your TJ’s hasn’t gone Christmas crazy on you yet, try to find this Autumnal Harvest pasta sauce before it’s gone for the season!

So the real question: do zoodles or spaghetti squash actually taste like REAL spaghetti noodles? Well…no. Carbs are magical and vegetables are vegetables. If you are expecting the flavor and consistency of pasta, you won’t find that with these two options. But of course, zoodles and spaghetti squash are flavorful and filling, so what more could you ask for? When you are searching for healthy alternatives, these are two great choices. Happy cooking!

Grocery Shopping + Meal Prep

Thinking out loud about food…because duh. If I’m not eating food, I’m thinking about food. 🙂

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I may or may not love shopping for groceries more than I love shopping for clothes. It’s a close competition. 😉 There is just nothing like strolling up and down the aisles of the grocery store with a cup of coffee in your hand. Ah. My happy place.

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My go-to store is Trader Joe’s because I love their prices and I love their “specialty” foods and snacks. You know, those things you may not find at the regular grocery store. However, I am name brand specific about some things, like ketchup, toilet paper, and KCups, so that will send me to Target or Giant on occasion. In DC and northern Virginia, Safeway and Harris Teeter are also big names, but I have found their prices to be more expensive overall. Of course, sometimes I like to change it up and go to one of those other places or even venture to Wegmans in the suburbs. Because grocery shopping is my favorite activity, so I do things like that. 😉

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So what exactly do I buy at the grocery store? Well, if you’ve been reading this blog for a little while, you may notice that I tend to eat a pretty healthy diet and I tend to eat the same meals on repeat. Exhibit A: my beloved oats with cinnamon, PB2, and coconut oil, and my egg white omelette also cooked in coconut oil with spinach and cheese. And ketchup. We can’t forget the ketchup. 🙂

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So it may not LOOK like I need to buy much at the store, but every time I shop, I wonder if the cashier knows that I live alone or wonders if I’m feeding a family of four. Haha! My roommate and I don’t share food (except for maybe condiments) so I really do shop for one. This makes me question how I will ACTUALLY shop for a family of four one day in the future because I feel like I eat a lot all by myself!

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A typical grocery haul looks like this. The Trader Joe’s cooler bag is fairly large, and I also have one from Whole Foods. On this particular trip, I only had one bag in my car, so I had to make do. In this area, they charge an extra five to ten cents for plastic bags. This was news to me when I moved here last year, so I am just NOW getting in the habit of remembering to take my own bags with me! Of course five or ten cents won’t break the bank, but if I have nice bags to use and I can save the environment a liiiiiittle bit, why not?! Catch me on a day when I forget my own bags and get all plastic…it’s me, my two arms, and ten bags fighting to get up the elevator. I do NOT make more than one trip. I do not. 🙂

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Back to the food! This is a pretty typical grocery haul for me:

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There are four major categories that I consider when buying food: protein, carbs, vegetables, and snacks.

– Protein –

I eat one source of protein with every meal. I have always read how important protein is in a healthy diet and I know that it is supposed to satisfy your hunger and keep you feeling full, but I really learned how to incorporate protein into every meal when I did the 21 Day Fix Extreme program. On this particular grocery trip, I bought egg whites (breakfast), a half dozen eggs (if I run out of egg whites or bake dessert), Applegate pepperoni (for snacking), yogurt (for snacking), and chicken sausage (for dinner). Often, I will have chicken or turkey in the freezer and I don’t need to buy “dinner” protein every week since I am only feeding myself, but it’s still nice to mix things up. 🙂

– Carbohydrates –

We need carbs even though there are many diets out there that tell us to avoid carbs like the plague. Carbs are one of the main nutrients that your body needs and they give you energy (source)! For a long time, I was in the school of thought that said bread and pasta and cereal and basically all carbs were the devil. There ARE some carbs that are better for you than others. For example, steel cut oats are probably a better choice than cereal. But that’s another subject for another day. 😉 My uncle delivers baked goods and supplies for a bakery in the Pittsburgh area and he always brings back big bags of steel cut oats from the one farm that he visits. In the oatmeal department, I am always stocked up! And that is my favorite breakfast, as you know. So since I don’t have to buy my oats, the carbs that I DO buy include sweet potatoes and some kind of cracker to snack on. I usually have bread or wraps in my freezer because I never go through an entire loaf or package in a week!

– Vegetables –

I always buy a bag of spinach. I use spinach in omelettes and in protein shakes. You can’t taste the spinach in either and it’s a great way to get an extra veggie in my meals! Not pictured: broccoli slaw. This is an easy topping for a spinach salad! I usually have two vegetables in the fridge to snack on: this week, I had half a bag of carrots left, so I didn’t buy those, but I did buy a cucumber. Both of those I cut/put in Ziploc bags to have ready to snack on with hummus. Also, I always buy two vegetables to choose as my side dish with dinner…here, broccoli and asparagus. I have been buying lots of zucchini this summer because it’s in season and I love using my spiralizer to make Zoodles! Zoodles are just noodles made out of zucchini. I am not going to lie to you and pretend that they taste like REAL noodles, but they are a healthy alternative. I love them, so that is why you will notice a jar of spaghetti sauce in the above photo. 🙂 My mom bought my spiralizer at Bed Bath and Beyond, but I just saw it this weekend at Marshalls if you are in the market for one!

– Snacks –

Fruit is one of my favorite snacks. I always buy bananas, but my second or sometimes third choice of fruit varies from week to week depending on the season. Watermelon won out this week! I also bought hummus, as I mentioned above, and snack packs of guacamole. This makes guac easy to pack in my lunch and makes it much more likely that I will eat the correct serving size. 😉 Give me a big container of guacamole (or salsa) and it’s all over!

This might not seem like a lot of food, but again, I am only feeding myself. Also, there are always things that you don’t have to buy every week and things left over from the week before. For example, my jar of salsa, pancake mix, frozen fruit, and snacks like pretzel thins or popcorn. Some of my favorite snacks, like Quest bars, I have to buy somewhere else because not all stores carry them. Although recently, Quest bars have been popping up in more “regular” grocery stores. This makes me happy because I’m pretty sure the guy at GNC knows my name. Hahaha

In college, I was pretty good at making one “big” meal that would last all week long. My mom used to do this often when I was younger. She would make soup or a casserole of some kind that would give us lots of leftovers. I want to get back into the routine of doing this once school starts because from my grocery trip, you can see that my meals are very predictable. That is something you kind of have to get used to when you are just buying food for yourself. Otherwise, it all goes bad! On the flip side, I personally like knowing what I’m eating for almost every meal because then I know that I am making pretty good choices most of the time. But making one big meal on Sunday to last all week would be a good way to mix it up a little bit during the week!

One last thing to share with you: I mentioned cutting up or putting vegetables in Ziplocs as soon as I buy them. I do this on purpose. When I’m starving, there is no way I have the patience to stand in the kitchen and chop something up. It sounds crazy, but it’s reality! Similarly, I have zero desire to stand in my kitchen every night and make a salad for lunch the next day. Salad is usually what I eat when I am packing lunch for work, but you can apply this technique to anything you are packing. For vegetables to snack on: decide if they are better stored in Tupperware or Ziplocs. If I’m going to eat carrots as a snack every day, they go in Ziplocs. Then I just throw an already measured bag in my lunchbox! If you’re going to cook with the vegetable, then put it in Tupperware. Now it’s just already chopped for you. 🙂 Salad making –> Set out five Tupperware containers and make your salads on Sunday night. I use spinach and broccoli slaw as my “base” in my salads. These sit in the fridge all week and I add toppings (like chicken, cheese, etc.) the night before I eat the salad. Dressing is stored in a separate tiny container so my salad isn’t soggy at lunch time.

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But the most important note of all in cutting and storing vegetables ahead of time is this: paper towels.

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Check that out! Believe it or not, paper towels are your savior. Vegetables tend to get soggy in the fridge, even if they’re in the crisp drawer in the fridge, so put a paper towel in your Tupperware or Ziploc to soak up the moisture. Take the paper towel out right before you eat that snack or salad and it will seem as fresh as the day you made it! Of course, vegetables do have a shelf life, so be mindful of that, too! The paper towel trick doesn’t make them last LONGER, but it does make them stay fresh for their designated amount of time. 🙂

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Have you ever put this much thought into your grocery shopping or food prep habits…ever?! I hope you learned a new tip or trick. 🙂

When You’re Not So Nice To Yourself

Happy Thursday! I’ve been enjoying a few days in Pittsburgh this week and it’s been so good to be home with my favorite people. Linking up with Amanda today to think out loud. 🙂

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On Monday, I was talking about my marathon training and I shared that one of my goals for this week was to eat more because I felt kind of weak and down last week. I’m running further and training harder, so I need more calories! #science

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While that logically makes sense, I am struggling mentally with that idea. Mostly because this week, I am thrown off my “normal” eating schedule. I am in Pittsburgh visiting my family and while I love every moment that I spend with them and every meal that we eat, I am having a hard time being okay with my food choices. A few years ago, I would’ve completely restricted myself and been the person at dinner who couldn’t or simply wouldn’t eat certain foods. I am not really like that anymore, but this week is letting me see how much I still like to control what I eat for every meal and how interruptions are not welcome. I don’t restrict myself anymore, but I DO mentally beat myself up when I eat one of those foods that is “not allowed” (by my standards). While I have made great strides in eating, like not counting every single calorie I eat and paying attention to protein, fat, and carbs (you know, the good things), I still have work to do. So what’s the problem?

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I am mentally beating myself up at every meal. With every snack. And it is driving me crazy. I am labelling everything I put in my mouth as “good” or “bad” and I feel like I have been eating way more of the bad, even though that is not true at all. My youngest brother has his driver’s permit and wanted to go out for food yesterday before I dropped him off somewhere. Or he dropped himself off. I don’t know, he has his permit, so he was driving and I was the passenger. 😉 Anyways, we shared a 12-piece chicken nugget from Chic-Fil-A and I mentally had a panic attack because OMGfastfoodIcanteatthisnowImgoingtobefat. But how can I say no to spending time with my baby brother? I can’t. And I won’t.

One of my closest friends from high school is expecting a baby and we went out to lunch. Besides our awesome two and a half hour conversation, here’s what I was thinking:

Broccoli cheese soup: bad. It’s a cream-based soup. That’s terrible for you.
Pecan crusted chicken salad: bad. dried cranberries and nuts on a salad just add extra unnecessary calories. Ugh, why did I order this?
Strawberry lemonade: bad. So sugary. You should never drink your calories.

I literally found something wrong with everything I put in my mouth at lunch. Two hours later when I was getting my hair done, I found myself telling my mom how terrible my food choices had been that day. I have many things to say about this because I KNOW I sound crazy. There is probably something good and bad about everything we put in our mouths. But do we need to think and talk about it all the time? No. However, there are articles on Facebook and Pinterest and all of our favorite websites about how to get healthier, be healthier, blah blah blah. It’s thrown in our faces all the time and personally, I love reading about health…but it’s obviously getting to me. One bowl of cheesy soup will not kill me. My salad also had spinach and chicken in it. And strawberry lemonade just tastes good. Also, as an aside, NO ONE cares about what I put in my mouth yesterday except for me. When my stylist heard me telling my mom about lunch, she said, “Oh my gosh, I love strawberry lemonade!” She didn’t hear the panic in my voice about all the bad choices I made. She also didn’t look at me and judge me by how I looked when I came in. Because in my head, I gained ten pounds at lunch. OY.

So where am I going with this?

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I need to practice self-love. I hear the term self-love and I think crazy voodoo weird things and possibly also meditation, but honestly, maybe I need to meditate. Hahaha! I like to think that I am nice to other people and try to build them up…so I really need to work on doing that for myself. I hear that “one bad meal won’t make you fat just like one good meal won’t make you skinny” mantra playing in my mind…but what happens when I eat a few meals in a row that I deem “bad”? Keep moving forward. Make better choices next time. Enjoy your damn life. Another personal goal is to stop identifying food as good and bad. I really really really don’t want to do that. Do you do that? Probably not.

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My family loves me. My friends love me. My dogs love me. Now I just need to love me.

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Mail & Mascara & Music, Oh My

Goooood morning! I love a Friday when it comes at the end of a busy week and it’s followed by a weekend with lots of plans 🙂 Life lately has me feeling like this…

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…when really I should be thinking this:

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And yes, I listen to Nicki Minaj and you should, too. She’s ridiculous but she’s peppy and fun, and who doesn’t need a little bit of that in their life?! Let’s get to it…these are a few of my favorite things. <– You know you just started singing. 😉 

Favorite Internet Find

Speaking of singing, I spent a good hour searching for a random song I heard on the radio and a TV commercial the other day. After exhausting all the top hits lists in iTunes and Spotify, I finally figured out what the song was and now I can’t stop listening.

Also, I realized last night while I was watching Big Brother that this song is the background music in the commercial for the new Jeep Renegade and this song is called Renegade…if only I had connected those dots before my thorough search!

Also, if you watched the cartoon or read the Arthur books as a child, you have to read this Buzzfeed article about D.W. Every time I read it, I laugh. Especially when I read #8 and #10. I can hear her talking in my head. That’s how you know you’re a true Arthur fan haha! She is so sassy!

Favorite Meal

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This was my dinner on Wednesday night. Well, half the cookie sandwich and all of the ice cream. Baked and Wired, you have my heart.

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I tried a crepe (which I call a “creep”) for the first time at Snap DC and it was so yummy! When I was on vacation last year in Riviera Maya, I had a crepe for dessert with almost every breakfast. Ha! But usually I just got Nutella, peanut butter, banana, and the crepe and ate it piece by piece without ever really putting it together. The crepe pictured above is called the “Famous” and it had turkey, spinach, tomato, and asiago cheese. I do not like tomatoes…but it felt like part of the deal with that particular crepe and the cook said I would ruin the flavor if I skipped the tomato, so I listened and ordered it as is. I ate the tomato, but I liked the other parts of the crepe much more!

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The Kylie version of spaghetti with meatballs: zucchini noodles with tomato basil sauce and turkey meatballs. I have the Veggetti spiralizer which my mom purchased for me here and it is so easy to use! After I slice my zucchini noodles, I microwave them for 2 minutes, drain the excess water, and I’m good to go! There are other fancier ways of cooking your “zoodles” but I’m a simple chef.

Favorite Outfit

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My brand new J. Crew shorts that cost a beautiful $19 made an appearance on Wednesday when I went to the mall. They fit in a way that makes me feel like I need to wear a cropped or shorter top with them, but now looking at this picture I think that tank top makes me look boxy. Ha! It is actually a cute tank because the back has detail, but it might not be my first choice next time I throw these on. 😉

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I used to wear these shorts all.the.time. I like to take my clothes to Plato’s Closet before I donate them and once while I was browsing and waiting for my basket, I found these shorts from New York & Company for $8.

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The detail on them makes them my favorite! #shinebrightlikeadiamond

Favorite Piece of Mail

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I have never been so excited to receive a package in the mail! I was lounging in my room with a towel on my head post-shower and I actually went downstairs with wet hair to get this from the office. Ha! I was not a huge fan of jumping on the Erin Condren bandwagon (because let’s be honest, it is a bandwagon), BUT I have had to replace all of my planners in the last 3 years before that particular year has ended because the spiral never lasts. It comes uncoiled and pages fall out and it. drives. me. crazy. EC Life Planners are definitely not cheap, so I am hoping that works in my favor here. Plus now that I have a new job I have all sorts of fun new events to write down. 🙂

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And how amazing is this shirt that I ordered from Hungry Runner Girl?! Perfect for marathon training:)

Favorite Purchase

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Thanks to Randi’s suggestions, I bought this new mascara when I actually needed it instead of procrastinating and using my old one until the last second. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t much left in there, anyway!

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I am the biggest advocate for new running shoes. You need the ones that fit your feet the best and you should never start a new training cycle in old, burned out shoes! I took my own advice and finally bought a new pair the other night. I feel like I am running on a cloud now! After trying on at least ten different pairs, I ended up with the Asics Gel Kayano 21…which is the exact same shoe I had before, but the newest version. Sigh. At least I got a new color. 🙂 Running shoes are the ONLY shoes that I will ever justify spending a ridiculous amount of money on. But it doesn’t hurt that they were slightly on sale and I had a coupon! I still cried when the cashier told me the total.

And now I will leave you with this perfect picture of my brother’s dog…

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…such a handsome pup. 🙂 Our golden retriever, Colby, won’t sit still for more than 10 seconds or I’m sure my mom would share a picture of him looking perfect, too!

Happy Friday, friends! I’m kicking the weekend off at the pool. I hope your days are filled with sunshine and relaxation!

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Bloggers: link up with us here, here, and here!

 fridayfavorites db7528c5-a5c8-4eb0-9519-22997b018248_zps7d56832d Friday Favorites

Strawberry Salsa

I have a fun recipe coming your way today! Whether you’re going to a cookout, making a dish for a luncheon at work, or simply looking for something summer-y to snack on at home, you will find a way to put this recipe to use in your kitchen. I just know it. 🙂

Today, I’m linking up with Andrea for her monthly series of Recipe Club!

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Last weekend, my friend Hannah and her husband hosted their “Second Annual Summer Solstice Strawberry Soiree”. It was every guest’s duty to bring some kind of food or beverage that incorporated strawberries, and our spread of food turned out to be delicious!

I had two hopes for my dish: new-to-me and unique. Pinterest to the rescue!

Original recipe here.

Strawberry Salsa

Here is what you will need:

1.5 cups chopped strawberries
1 cup chopped green pepper
2 T fresh cilantro
2 T lime juice
1 T brown sugar

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Chop x 3…

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Strawberries…

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Then green pepper and cilantro…with the Slap Chop that saved my cilantro-chopping life. 😉

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I added ingredients to the bowl as I chopped…then I cut a lime and squeezed the juice over the bowl. Added the brown sugar and got to mixing!

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Your final product should look something like this…and tastes delicious with cinnamon chips or tortilla chips! When you eat the salsa with a cinnamon chip, it tastes sweet, and when you eat the salsa with a tortilla chip, it tastes fresh. A yummy combination!

Happy chopping!

P.S. Today is the 100th post I’ve written on this blog. Pretty cool. 🙂

– What’s your favorite strawberry dish?

– What have you been cooking this week?

Free Cookies & I’m Famous

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Can I get an amen?! On one hand, I feel like I got so much accomplished this week, and on the other hand, I feel completely overwhelmed and so glad I have a few days of fun coming up this weekend! How has your week been?! If it’s been good, if it’s been exciting, if it’s been overwhelming…I bet you have a favorite moment. Join me and Erika, Narci, and Andrea as we celebrate our favorites (and the goodness) in our lives!

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Also linking up with April!

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ONE –

IMG_8499I eat a relatively healthy diet, but I can put away the cookies. I don’t buy packages of Oreos because they just sit in my kitchen…but if I go to a bakery or see cookies in the break room at work, LOOK OUT. I’m a cookie monster. Last Sunday after church, my friend Shannon and I went to lunch at Spring Mill Baking Company. We sat and talked for almost 3 hours! So that was a favorite moment too. But I ordered an egg and cheese sandwich for lunch, and when they delivered my bag to the table (we were sitting outside), I found this cookie inside…do they know me or what!?

As we discuss food…or in that case, dessert…this is how I survive a day at work:

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All. the. Tupperware. I know you appreciate that this is a picture from Snapchat, too. #bloggerfail

– TWO –

Since we’re talking about #bloggerfails, let’s talk about a #blogwin. The very first blog I remember reading is Janae’s…aka Hungry Runner Girl. She still remains my favorite because she used to be a teacher, she has an adorable daughter, and she is an amazing runner, so I really look up to her a lot! Anyway, she enjoys dessert just as much as I do, and she particularly likes donuts…but not just any donut, she likes apple fritters. Have you ever had an apple fritter? I have NOT! I am a chocolate iced donut or no donut at all kind of girl. Ha! Recently, Janae ran the Seattle Rock N Roll Half Marathon and while she was there, she did some sightseeing and apple fritter eating. So when I was at the grocery store this week, I found myself picking up an apple fritter in the bakery. I JUST WANTED ONE BITE! It was research for knowing exactly what she was talking about. 😉 I emailed her to tell her she inspired me to purchase this because I knew she would be excited about that and GUESS WHAT!?

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She posted the picture I sent her with an apple fritter as big as my head on her blog! It made me so happy to be famous. I consider her a celebrity. Haha!

– THREE –

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I discovered my love of sparkling water when I tried ICE…but my very favorite is the Market Pantry Peach Mango sold at Target! This is Mango Peach Pineapple (also found at Target) and it’s not as flavorful as the Market Pantry brand! It’s a still a refreshing summer drink if you want to try something new. 🙂

– FOUR –

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Sometimes you need to take ten days off from running to stretch, get a massage, REST, and recharge. I tried to do too much a few weeks ago and although it really motivated me, it really caught up with me physically! My body needed a break. My hip is easily irritated when I run consecutive days in a row, and I know this, but I try to be Supergirl sometimes. 😉 Was ten days too long? Maybe, but it was just what I needed. I was still working out…I was just doing different exercises. And now I’m running around campus taking pictures of pretty buildings and rubbing the Terp’s nose for good luck.

– FIVE –

My Facebook status last weekend? “Self control is buying one pair of Lululemon shorts when you really want to buy three.” Let’s discuss: they were all different colors, they were all on sale, and I get a discount because I’m a fitness instructor. HOWEVER, I picked my favorite pair of the three and exercised some self control. Have I been dreaming of the two pairs of shorts I left behind? No! Who would do that?! Not me, no never… #heavysigh #insertsarcasm

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The winning pair of shorts that came home with me. 🙂

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Pardon my messy desk and this angle and the lighting but OMG THEY HAVE POCKETS! It was also a favorite moment that the rain killed the humidity on Wednesday and it was in the 70s WHICH YES IS COOL ENOUGH FOR LONG SLEEVES! Dear Pittsburgh friends, is it humid there? I’m dying here. Totally different climate! I hate talking about weather, but I am really surprised by how different the weather can feel just four hours away from my hometown!

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Another favorite purchase recently? This maxi dress. The white at the top is actually crocheted and it’s so pretty! My mom bought it for me with her casino winnings in Atlantic City. 😉 Thanks Mom! ❤

– What’s your favorite dessert — cookies, cake, or pie?

– What was the first blog you ever read?

What I’ve Been Eating Wednesday V

Are you cooking or eating out tonight?! I have been doing a little bit of both recently, which is always lots of fun for me because I get to meet up with friends and eat food that I didn’t have to cook, but it’s always a little sad for my bank account. 😉 Not that I am eating luxurious five star meals over here…I wish!

Last week, I ate this flatbread pizza for dinner three times. Because it was that good.

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Super easy to throw together! Read about it HERE.

I’ve also been busy recreating Panera Bread’s Strawberry Chicken Poppyseed salad, which is evident by how little salad dressing I have left in the bottle. 😉

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I was so excited to find this dressing at Target! I made a few minor modifications so the Kylie version of this salad includes spinach, grilled chicken, strawberries, pineapple, feta cheese, and dressing. My mom would skip the feta cheese but I think you should try it my way first!

Then there was the moment this past weekend where I tried Mango Bubble Tea. It has been at least 95* in D.C. for two weeks and it is SO humid…I was thirsty and desperate as my friend and I were walking to our cars from church and lunch, so I thought trying something new would be fun! We stopped in Capital Teas and I had such high hopes…

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…but three sips later, I said no thank you. Actually, scratch that. Four sips. I was in traffic and thought maybe my taste buds were wrong the first three times. 😉 If you’re unfamiliar, bubble tea is a tea base mixed with fruit or milk and chewy tapioca balls. I thought my flavor (mango) plus almond milk (my favorite milk) would for sure be a winner! I just wasn’t a fan of the tapioca balls. And my bubble tea didn’t have that “foamy” or “smoothie-like” consistency that so many people mention! It truly was like iced tea with tapioca balls. So strange. Have you tried this?!

And now I want to share the easiest recipe with you! I really outdid myself this time…my mom and I agree that five ingredients or less is the way to go. This time, I only used two ingredients. 🙂 I started cooking on Sunday night with every intention of making turkey burgers, but I found a recipe on the back of the package and changed gears right away!

Taco Turkey Meatballs

1 package Ground Turkey
1 packet Taco Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350*.
Cook until meatballs are 165*F in temperature or until crisp.

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I mixed the ground turkey with a package of taco seasoning with a spatula. Then, I used a cookie scoop to make the meatballs. I am not a fan of touching raw meat so the spatula and cookie scoop were so helpful here. I will also spare you a picture of the raw meat in the bowl and on the tray because that freaks me out, too. I’m such a legitimate chef. 😉 But I am a legitimate blogger because I really did take pictures of those steps…they are just so gross looking. Ha! The package’s cook time said cook until the meatballs are 165*F in temperature or until they are crisp. I do not have a kitchen thermometer, so I baked the meatballs for 10 minutes, flipped them over, and then cooked them for 10 more minutes. That worked, at least in my oven!

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So, how do they taste? SPICY! I ate them with salsa and guacamole. The perfect dipping sauces!

Enjoy 🙂

What are you eating this Wednesday?!

What’s Up?!

My love of surveys will never die. And I love checking in with all my favorite blog friends to see what they’re up to! Join the link up on Mel or Shay’s blogs and share your rambles!

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What I’m eating this week:

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Warm weather has me craving ALL THE FRESH THINGS! I have been eating a ton of huge salads with grilled chicken. My favorite summer dish. 🙂

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I’m a big fan of food with ingredients that I can pronounce…these “That’s It” bars that I found at Chop’t (hey! A salad place! What do you know;) are made up of just apples and mangoes. Dried fruit in a perfect little serving size! If you give me a bag of dried fruit, I will go to town. If you give me a bar, I will only eat one. Therefore, these bars are a double threat for me because they are only two ingredients (that I can pronounce) and it’s already in a perfect serving size for me!

What I’m reminiscing about:

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I was a camp counselor at the YMCA for the past two summers and while those days felt so very long while I was in them, I really will miss becoming such good friends with other counselors and hanging out with the little people every day!

What I’m loving: 

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Not over how cool and portable and easy and fun my travel blender is. I LOVE IT! $14.99 well spent, my friends.

What I’ve been up to:

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Traveling. Which means lots of entertainment is needed on the way to my destination! I love the Pentatonix station on Pandora and The Chalene Show on the iPhone’s podcast app! Chalene’s podcast is also available on the Android version of the podcast app, but I don’t know what that’s called. 🙂 Probably just podcast. Ha! She is so positive and she talks about health, fitness, living a healthy life, making good decisions, work, your free time…she covers it all. Love her!

What I’m dreading:

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And on the note of traveling…I’m dreading going back and forth from DC to Pittsburgh. I have plans in both places during these first few weeks of summer and I am excited about it all, so I guess I need to just be thankful I have the means to travel and leave it at that!

What I’m working on:

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Closing my silly laptop. I am applying for jobs right now and I feel like I am a SLAVE to certain websites and my email account. I just want to tune into LIFE instead of my computer!!!

What I’m excited about:

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So, this show definitely isn’t for everyone. It can be crass at times but I love it. This fall, I saw the Orange Is The New Black book at Target and because I had heard people talking about the show and didn’t understand their obsession, I decided to read the book. I am a book –> movie/TV fanatic so I had to read first haha! When I started watching the show on Netflix, I had no concept of how long it was or how many episodes there were. When the last episode of Season 2 ended (and by the way, it ends on a huge cliffhanger), I jumped off my couch to hit PLAY NEXT EPISODE and I was so upset when I realized there were not, in fact, more episodes to be watched. Needless to say, I am super excited for Season 3 to start on June 12!

What I’m watching/reading:

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I did some serious damage at my favorite store in Pittsburgh…Half Price Books. Does your town have one of those stores??? There are multiple locations in Pittsburgh and ZERO in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area. It’s so sad! Ha! All of these books were $4 or less each, so I was pretty happy with my finds. 🙂 I decided to start reading Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie first. Blake is the creator of TOMS shoes and for some reason, I am so intrigued by his story and advice for making a difference! I have been loving personal development/self help/nonfiction books lately so this is right up my alley. I also brought Seating Arrangements along for my travels this week because it seems like a lighthearted read! I really want to read Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places because I loved Gone Girl, but I’m convinced it’s too scary! Someone talk me into it or share your review, please! 🙂

What I’m listening to:

When I find a song I love, I LOVE IT. I downloaded this song yesterday and I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to it 25 times already. At least.

And this is pretty good too…

And Blake Shelton. Because he’s Blake Shelton. I have eclectic taste in music, as you can tell. I’m on the road again as you read this. I needed lots of new tunes!

What I’m wearing:

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These shoes. The end.

Actually, not the end. I said I wouldn’t jump on the Birkenstock train BUT I’M HERE AND I’M SO HAPPY!

What I’m doing this weekend:

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Summertime + Kenny Chesney + my friends = the perfect Saturday. Kenny is playing at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh with Eric Church, Chase Rice, and Brantley Gilbert. He’s come to Pittsburgh SO many summers in a row and I haven’t been to one of his concerts since I was probably ten years old! I can’t wait. 🙂 This is a throwback with some of the same girls I’ll be hanging out with this weekend to Tim McGraw last summer!

What I’m looking forward to next month WEEK:

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I’m changing this one up;) Next Saturday I’m going back to Heinz Field to see Taylor Swift. AH! I saw her when she was in town for her Speak Now tour in 2011 but I fell out of love with her when her Red album came out. I LOVE the 1989 album and one of my friends got tickets for Christmas and I’m the lucky girl she invited to go with her! We have tickets on the field. I’m not one to spend a ton of money on my concert tickets…I always feel like I’m there and that’s enough for me but I’m about to be so close to Taylor Swift and that is SO COOL!

What else is new:

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Even though it is officially summer, I am taking two online classes that start in early June. I was so burned out at the end of the spring semester because I was working on the most important paper of my grad school career, BUT I know that nothing worth having comes easy so I guess it comes with the territory. I am going to enjoy this TRULY free time from grad school while I can, but I’m also excited to get started with these next two classes!

Bonus question…What is your favorite thing to grill/BBQ?

   

One of my favorite ways to eat pineapple is with a packet of Jello powder sprinkled on top…extra flavor! But grilled pineapple is so fresh and good, it is a close second.

 

 I’m not a huge fan of red meat unless it’s served with an Italian dish. You won’t ever see me eating a steak or a burger! But I do love turkey burgers and this brand is my new favorite. They have a ton of protein and flavor!! 

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So, tell me: what have you been up to?!

And if you’re a blogger, here’s your list of questions! Have fun!

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