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Last night I decided that it would be an excellent idea to bake. I have been looking for a new “pre-workout” food to tide me over between lunch and dinner, and Dreena’s Super-Charge Me Cookies sounded ideal. I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand (i.e maple syrup) so I made a few substitutions. Let’s just say they didn’t turn out as well as I would have hoped but the main reason for this was probably my stellar oven.

Looking delicious in the mixing bowl.

Yummy on the cookie sheet

My high tech oven.

Re: My high tech oven.

The aftermath.

Fail.

While the oven was heating, the temperature of my apartment rose to match it. AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL idea! I here by vow to NEVER turn that oven on for the rest of the summer 😦 .

The cookies were a little on the “crisp” side but I’ll love these little disasters all the same (I’m not one to waste). I’m going home for my mom’s birthday this Sunday, so I will be taking full advantage of her convection oven and getting a little baking-crazy. My life is exciting… clearly.

Baking Dreams,

Nora

Have you ever had a major kitchen failure?

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I’m the type of person who cannot be idle. I find that when I have down time I end up getting antsy and think of anything and everything I could be doing. That being stated, sometimes you just need a day where you can stop, smell the flowers and relish in the peacefulness of having nothing on your agenda. Today was one of those days.

After my short country side run this afternoon I took myself on a “garden tour” around our backyard. My mom is extremely devoted to her gardens. She takes such pride and pleasure in them, and spends the majority of her day carefully tending to them. I think her dedication is what makes the flowers so beautiful.After my garden adventure we went to my cousin’s house for their birthday barbecue. I had a plate of grilled chicken, fruit and a mixed green salad with pear slices in a lemon vinaigrette. It wouldn’t be a birthday with out cake so I had a slice of vanilla cake with chocolate frosting and a little mint chip ice cream (can never resist mint chip 🙂 )After the party, I went for a nice walk-and-talk with my mom. When we returned I headed into our back yard to do a cart-wheel,  just because I haven’t done one in ages, and proceeded to lay in the grass and stare at the sky for a while. Sometimes you just have to soak in the beauty.

It was such a nice day that we decided to sit outside and absorb the beauty over crackers, hummus, bread, cheese and a bit of Dr. Loosen Riesling.

Life is good.

Peaceful,

Nora

What are your favorite ways to spend down time?

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Yesterday was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining, the temperature was in the upper 70’s and there was a consistent mild breeze. My parents and I thoroughly enjoyed the weather along with some amazing food.

After a little bit of this…Two pieces of this Calamata Focaccia and Wake Robbin Cheese.We were ready to sit down for dinner: grilled rosemary pork tenderloin, mixed green salad with a blend of cherry tomatoes, blue cheese and cucumber and steamed broccoli paired with  Diseno 2007 Malbec.Along with fresh herbs pressed on the pork, my dad also puts fresh rosemary right on the charcoal so that it infuses into the meat…delicious!

We were pretty full after dinner and decided to fill our glasses with a splash more of the Malbec and go for a walk around the backyard.After our “garden tour”, we each had a small piece of the brownies I made the previous evening and called it a night.

This morning we woke up at 7am to attend church and came home for our Sunday morning ritual: breakfast, biscotti, cappuccinos and the newspaper. My dad made an omelet for my mom and himself but the strawberries in our refrigerator were calling my name. I compiled a bowl of Plain Chobani Greek Yogurt, sliced banana, strawberries, cinnamon and had half of a chocolate-macadamia biscotti on the side (the other half was used for dunking into my cappuccino…aka the proper way to enjoy biscotti!) This biscotti was so rich! Initially I thought it was chocolate-almond but it ended up being packed full of macadamia nuts! It had a hint of orange zest in it, which made for a nice contrast to the espresso.

With a happy belly I’m off for a day that includes a nice country run, reading and a family BBQ for my cousin’s birthday.

Have a Relaxing Sunday,

Nora

Do you have special weekend traditions?

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After a night filled with good food and conversation with my parents, I sluggishly walked upstairs to my room to settle down for the night. When I opened my door I noticed a mysterious brown package sitting on my desk. What could this be? My parents did not mention that I received a package so I was extremely surprised and excited to see what it was. To my delight, it was a gift from Allie at Live, Laugh Eat! If you haven’t met Allie, check out her blog! She is a genius baker and incredibly kind. Allie is doing some big things in the baking world with her AllieBars and sent me a few of her creations along with a jar of Sunflower Seed Butter. I love my nut butters and have been DYING to try sunflower seed butter! Thank you Allie, you made my visit home even more special! 🙂

I woke up early this morning to attend the Farmer’s Market (will post about this later today!) with my parents. I am a Farmer’s Market junkie. I love buying locally grown and produced items. The pride and love that producers have for their products is truly reflected in the quality of their goods and is never anything short of exceptional! Before leaving I had a breakfast to reflect the “food from the heart” feel of the Farmers Market that incorporated an AllieBar and Sunflower Seed Butter. I filled my bowl with plain yogurt, a large banana, cinnamon, sunflower seed butter and an AllieBar (I ate half before the picture!). HOLY YUM!

Allie–I can finally relate to your love for sunflower seed butter. I will be attacking this jar full force with a fork in hand Allie style.

As if the sunflower seed butter wasn’t amazing enough, the Allie Bar brought a whole new “yum factor” to this meal. Let me just say, the girl knows what she is doing! I loved how it had a homemade feel to it with the hearty oats. It was soft bar with filled with dried cranberries, raisins, dried apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds and a whole lot of love. You can’t buy a granola bar like this in a store. I  wish her the best of luck in her AllieBar ambitions. She is destined for big things!

I’m off for a short country side run and will be back to post about my market adventure later in the day. Happy Saturday!

Loving Local,

Nora

Does your grocery store provide an option of purchasing locally grown produce?

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My internet is up and I’m officially back to blogging :)!


I’m a planner and an organizer. After a few days at my internship, I have come to the conclusion that the 8am-5pm life was meant for me. Gone are the days of staying up until 3am for no reason, wearing the same sweatpants everyday, showering twice a week and living off of a Starbucks heavy diet. That’s right college is over….good riddance.

I’m not necessarily saying that I need a strict schedule but it is nice to have a semi-consistent set of obligations and goals. I like waking up early, working all day and relaxing in the evenings. Looking back at my college years, I’m not sure how I functioned. Sometimes I would finish my day at noon, or start my day at 2pm. I was constantly doing work into the early morning hours and was always awake by 9am because I am incapable of sleeping in. (Did I ever sleep???) Over the past few days I’ve been waking up at 6am, leaving by 7:30am, working until 5pm, going to the gym, arriving home by 7pm and in bed by 10:30pm. An hour and a half is exactly what I need to get ready and have breakfast before heading into work, however; it also requires a bit of planning.

Last night before I went to bed I prepared breakfast and lunch, cleaned my apartment (I hate coming home after a long day and having to do dishes etc) and got my bag ready for work. Doing these little things the night before saves time and frustration, allowing me to enjoy the peacefulness of the morning.

This morning I had a breakfast cookie inspired by Gina and topped it with plain low-fat yogurt (I love Greek yogurt but I was out and this is the next best thing. Low-fat yogurts are creamy and filling. I tend to pick them over nonfat varieties.), strawberries and cinnamon. The night before I combined 1/3 cup rolled oats, 1 TBS crunchy almond butter, 1/2 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, 2 TBS vanilla soy milk, 1/2 of a banana (mashed) and cinnamon and placed it on a plate in the fridge over night. This was so easy and completely held me over through the morning. I will be repeating this in the future!

Shortly after breakfast I was craving juice. I didn’t have any in my fridge but remembered that I purchased a Red Rhapsody Odwalla a few weeks ago. I’M IN LOVE! This was so refreshing and a nice combination of flavors. It is the perfect drink to blend with yogurt and ice for a smoothie on a hot summer day.

It has been an EXTREMELY hot week, and I have been craving cool and crisp vegetables. For lunch I made a semi-Greek salad with 1/2 of a romaine heart, 1 large shredded carrot, 1/4 cup of garbanzo beans, 1-2 inches of cucumber, 1/4 of a red bell pepper, a handful of grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese and cracked black pepper. Along side I packed a homemade dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and dried parsley flakes and had a serving of Dr. Krackers and a Jonagold apple.

I wanted something chocolate for my mid-day snack and reached into the bottom of my bag to retrieve the other half of my petrified Chocolate Almond Fudge Clif Bar.

The cable company gave me a time frame between 4pm-7pm for their arrival, so I came home immediately after work. They arrived when I was turning onto my road (!!!) and I was relieved that I would not have to sit in my sweltering apartment and wait. I debated going to the gym or going for a run, but it was FAR too hot outside today. I’m planning on catching up on some busy work, making dinner and heading to bed early tonight because tomorrow is jam packed with meetings and events. I am loving my internship and feel so lucky that I have FINALLY found something that I can dedicate myself to and enjoy!

Blogging,

Nora


Are you a planner or a “go with the flow” type?

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Saturday was my last day working at the bakery. This job has been one of the best experiences of my life and has influenced me to pursue a career in the food industry. Working in the customer service bakery of a large grocery store has taught me the importance of consumer relations and shown me the dynamics of a large business. I am always incredibly inspired by the creativity and excitement that goes on in the store.

My last shift was all I could have asked for. I was on the schedule from 9:30am-6pm to do “demo” aka providing samples to customers. The employee who typically provides demonstrations had another obligation and was unable to sell on this day. I give her so much credit because it is NOT an easy task to be on your feet talking to people and selling products for 8.5 hours 5 days a week! I prepared for my last shift with the world’s greatest breakfast: oatmeal. (I was thrifty and used my microwave to minimize my gas bill!)

In the mix: 1/4 cup oat bran, 1/8 cup rolled oats, half of a banana (sliced and microwaved separately for 30 seconds, then added to my oats 1/2 way through cooking.), 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup water, cinnamon, vanilla extract and 1 TBS ground flax.

Topped with: 2 large strawberries, Crofter’s South America Superfruit Spread, 2 chopped Brazil nuts and coconut butter.

I was sampling our Pecan Raisin Sourdough and Kerrygold Butter. This is such a special bread that our bakers make from scratch on the weekends. I remember last summer when they were perfecting the recipe and I got to bring some home to sample. It is sweet satisfaction to see this bread come full circle. I’m not a huge butter on my bread person (something about disliking it as a child) but I absolutely love Kerrygold. It is so rich and brings out the best flavors in the bread; a perfect combination.

When I got home I had a pre-planned Cold Peanut Noodle Salad for dinner (practicing already!). I knew I was going to be tired after work and want to shower, so the night before I cooked soba noodles, chopped veggies and created a peanut sauce. All I had to do when I got home was assemble, pour a glass of Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay and enjoy! Easy as pie.In my bowl: 1/2 chopped romaine heart, 1/2 bundle of soba noodles, 1 medium carrot, 1/4 red bell pepper, 1 inch of cucumber, 1/2 stalk of celery, 1 small bunch of broccoli. Topped with a peanut sauce: ~1-2 TBS crunchy natural peanut butter, juice of 1/2 a lime, pinch of red pepper flakes and 1 TBS low sodium soy sauce.

This was an amazing meal! I love how well the noodles took to the sauce, and the raw vegetables were so refreshing. It was a large bowl of food that required just a splash more chardonnay to complete it ;).

For dessert I had the last of my Mint Cookies and Cream frozen yogurt ~3/4 cup with fresh strawberries. Shortly after dessert I fell asleep on my new futon at the early hour of 9:30pm while watching the movie Maid of Honor. It was a long day.

I woke up at 7am this morning and knew it was another great day for a run. I stumbled into the kitchen for a quick pre-run meal of a Lemon Zest Luna Bar and Jonagold Apple, and returned to bed to read my book for a few hours. I MISS READING FOR FUN!!!

After my run I had a late “brunch” (11am?) of another thick green monster smoothie ( 1 large frozen banana, 5 ice cubes, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, cinnamon, 1 TBS crunchy peanut butter, a bunch of baby spinach and 1 cup vanilla soy milk. I forgot the Amazing Grass GREEN Superfood today and my smoothie ended up taking on a mint-ting-a-ling color) and a slice of Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin Bread with Coconut Butter and Cinnamon.

I did not have any obligations today, therefore; I was on a mission to find a decent Wi-Fi signal so that I could FINALLY upload my pictures and blog! I can’t believe I have been internet-less for an entire week! It is sad how dependent I am on technology, but hey, it’s my life. I spent a few hours at a local bookstore while my pictures slowly uploaded. I was successful but it was an extremely time consuming process. While I was there I snacked on a Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar and Iced Coffee that I brought from home. No more $4 lattes for this girl! (I had a gift card to Starbucks thus why I had a few purchases earlier in the week.)

Now that we are all caught up I’m off to make an early dinner and get to bed before my first day at my internship! I’m beyond excited to start and have been waiting for this day to come for so long! I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve, I hope that I am able to sleep tonight.  I’m going to try my hardest to post tomorrow. I can’t wait to officially have internet in my apartment on Wednesday.

The Future Awaits,

Nora

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The last post was actually written on Friday but I was unable to post it because my internet connection was failing and my battery died. I had work all day at the bakery on Saturday, so I’m trying to play catchup with my post.

Friday Post:

I’m not sure how, but I woke up this morning at 6:30am. I felt completely awake at this ungodly hour, and parted the blinds to reveal the radiant sun. I decided to go for a run. I haven’t exercised in weeks and it was the perfect morning to start-up again. I grabbed half of a petrified Chocolate Almond Fudge Clif Bar and strapped on my running shoes.

It felt so great to run again. I saw many other people out and about running, dog walking and biking, taking advantage of the beautiful morning before it was consumed by the sweltering heat of the afternoon sun. I’m not sure how far I ran, but it was a leisurely 40 minute adventure through my new neighborhood. It made me realize how much I miss running. In the past I have run many races, including a half-marathon in the Fall of 2008. I’m not in any sort of shape to compete, however; it is something I desperately want to get back in to.

When I got back to my quaint apartment, I made the most refreshing green monster smoothie. My smoothie was composed of: 1 large frozen banana, 5 ice cubes, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, 1 scoop GREEN Superfood, cinnamon, 1 TBS crunchy natural peanut butter, 2 handfuls of spinach and 1 cup vanilla soy milk.

For some reason it was thicker than usual, and completely rejuvenated me after my run. Shortly after I enjoyed a crisp Jonagold Apple as I read through old food magazines on my floor while waiting for the delivery truck to arrive with my futon. They told me they would arrive sometime between 10:30am and 1:30pm. Good thing I had a bunch of paper sorting to do and didn’t mind being home-bound for the time.

The delivery men came around 11:30am and finished assembling my futon just in time for lunch. I got a bit creative with the contents of my fridge and made a wrap with lots of Cedar’s Original Hummus, feta cheese, grape tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, spinach, cucumber, carrots, button mushrooms and hot sauce. I also had the other half of my navel orange from the previous night’s dinner. My sweet tooth was calling me and I had a piece of dark chocolate almond bark for dessert.

After lunch I headed to the mall. I had ANOTHER appointment at the Apple store to “Meet My Mac” and learn some of the basics of using my new computer. I went a bit early with hopes of using the mall Wi-Fi to post my blog, but the slow connection failed me. I snacked on a PB&J Larabar and Grande Ice Coffee with Soy Milk while feeling completely defeated.

After my appointment I came home to make a semi-real dinner. Using my resources, I marinated some shrimp in BBQ sauce and grilled them on my panini maker. I also assembled a broccoli slaw using 2 cups of pre-made broccoli slaw blend mixed with a sauce composed of 2 TBS Plain Greek Yogurt, juice of 1/4 a lemon, 1 TBS Dijon mustard, cracked black pepper, a few dashes of Sriracha hot sauce and topped with ~1/4 cup garbanzo beans. This was such a refreshing meal for a hot evening and I enjoyed it with a glass of Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve 2008 Chardonnay.

Dessert was exceptional. I have been loving the juicy and sweet strawberries this season and wanted to incorporate them into dessert. I ran out of vanilla ice cream but I found a Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt in my freezer. I let it defrost a bit and topped it with fresh strawberries and MaraNtha Dark Chocolate Almond Spread.

I’m realizing with all of these new changes in my life that there are some great expenses. During college, I never had to worry about paying rent, a gas bill, internet/cable bill and a food bill. I have always paid for grocery store items, however; I did have a meal plan so it wasn’t a burdensome bill. I’ve always had car and cell phone expenses, but after factoring in all of these additional expenses I starred at my bank account and financial spreadsheet dumbfounded by the reality that I am broke. I know everyone struggles at some point to “make ends meet” so to speak, but it has forced me to reconsider my spending. I’m not a big shopper when it comes to clothes, shoes and accessories but when it comes to food and food related products I tend to throw my money at it. Honestly, there is no real reason that I spend $2 on a snack bar or $9 on a nut butter jar other than curiosity and a love of food. I’m not going to stop eating the things I enjoy, I just need to make sure that I am being a bit more economical.

My internship position is full-time, requiring me to be in the office from 8am-5pm Monday-Friday.  I want to have time after work to do things I enjoy such as exercising, reading and socializing, therefore; in order to avoid eating dinner at 9pm every night or spending unnecessary money on take out, I need to start meal planning, making things ahead of time and getting creative with leftovers.

My blog writings this summer are going to revolve around the mentality of planning healthy, sensible and easy to prepare meals.

Economically Minded,

Nora

What are ways that you save money at the grocery store? Do you create “make-ahead” meals?

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