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Cozy Sunday Lasagna

I woke up at 11am today. :-/ Either I needed the sleep or I’m living up my last days before the early a.m. routine kicks in at my new job. The rainy drizzle and overcast skies didn’t help my motivation any. I lit a Pumpkin Spice candle just for effects. $1 well spent.

The weekends always seem to go by in a flash and this weekend was no different. I spent Friday night out on the town which always seems like a better idea than it actually is.

Luckily Saturday morning came in a flash (or not so lucky…in the lack-of-sleep department) but I had a coffee date I couldn’t be more excited for! I met up with the fantabulous Healthy Everythingtarian herself. I felt like I’ve known Holly for years, we are in fact born and bread in the same city, fyi. This girl is everything you thought she would be and more. We had a blast gabbing away at the local Panera for coffee (which I should have subbed for saline straight to the veins considering my Friday evening), but we shared some good laughs over my ‘lack in brain cells’. (I.e. Me making eggs the other day and putting the cheese away in the pantry and not back in the fridge???) I don’t know where my head is at sometimes! I wish I could say I had pictures from the afternoon, but guess who forgot their camera in the car or at home or who knows where?!

After two hours we parted ways and Holly headed off to her sister’s Bachelorette Party and I had to get ready for the SheTaxi holiday party. I was in charge of dessert. Again, adapted from Smitten Kitchen, I healthified the Maple Cream Cheese Carrot Cupcakes. You can find my changes here. This time around. I made ’em mini.

They were a hit! And who doesn’t like their dessert bite-size? And no butter/oil. :mrgreen: It’s the simple things in life that I like to indulge in. These are one of them. I think I’ll be repeating this recipe for Thanksgiving. You should too. They are that good!

Oh, but the deliciousness doesn’t stop there! Like I said, I wanted to spend my Sunday snuggling up on the couch, doin’ a little cleaning, laundry, this and that.

That includes LASAGNA!

Adapted from Culinary Cafe.

This is what you need (and yes that’s a 5lb tub of cottage cheese ❤ )

Here’s what I did:

  • Boiled water with salt, added 7 lasagna sheets (the recipe called for 6, but I can’t count)
  • Browned Italian meat (1.5lbs, put half in fridge for later use)
  • In a 2-quart pyrex, I added 1 cup of pasta sauce
  • Added the rest of the pasta sauce to the skillet of meat (~.75lb)
  • Layered the bottom of the pan with 3 cooked lasagna sheets (cutting 1-2 inches off the end b/c they’re too long)
  • Added 1/3 of sauce & meat mixture
  • Added 3/4 cup of Cottage Cheese
  • Sprinkled ~1/2 cup of cheddar/Italian/Parmesan cheese
  • Add two sheets of lasagna noodles and repeat meat/cottage cheese/shredded cheese steps
  • Add final two sheets of lasagna noodles (using 7 total, could use 6 too)
  • Add last 1/3 of meat, and sprinkle a little shredded cheese on top
  • Cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour and light a candle.

Ahh, the joys of fall.

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Happy November, Happy Election Day (yesterday), Happy Fall, Happy Hump Day,

Well for those of you who follow my blog, or did, I was an avid writer while in Japan. I had the time, the energy, the inspiration of being in a foreign country with endless topics, ideas, and events going on in my life that I could share with people. I was especially good as sharing my feelings and hardships about the language barrier, cultural differences, and lifestyle of an American girl living in rural Japan.

Things are different now, I will admit. It seems like I write every two weeks, or sadly, go even longer without posting. I wanted to maintain this blog as a healthy living site for what goes on in my life and what I’ve been up to on a day-to-day basis. I’d love to say my life is exhilarating, and full of excitement. I will say, I have been doing a LOT, however, when I want to blog about something or post my new recipes, etc., I find myself holding back and getting “sidetracked” because what I really should be doing is job hunting. Granted, I don’t job hunt 24/7, but I feel guilty even picking up a novel and having ‘me time’ when I know I should be pounding the pavement with this job search.

It’s a tough market people. I’m sure you’re all aware of that. Part of me wants to just get my foot in the door with a great company like Target, General Mills, or Health Partners, and not care about the position. The other part of me wants to find that perfect position and not care what the company or pay is, but just do what I love. What exactly do I love? Well, health is definitely at the forefront of my interests, as well as writing…so that leads to PR, I like promoting health, wellness, fitness…so there’s job potential there. I also like the idea of working with a company with healthy foods (hello Target, yes I will be a buyer for your Organic foods)…a girl can dream right? I just don’t know where to start. It’s overwhelming and slightly depressing sometimes, but I’ll keep at it and get my dream job one way or another!

In the meantime my other priorities include my internship at SheTaxi (the more practice and experience, the better), running, family, friends, and of course a little cooking, TV, and People magazine.

These past few weeks, since Grandma’s 90th, we’ve spent time with the family from out of state, going to the cabin,

Quality sister time,

And of course last weekend, getting all gussied up for the festivities, that is, my 2nd favorite holiday of the year: HALLOWEEN.

Hello Shakira and our lil Firefighter

Nerd & a TopGun girl (that would be my dad’s real Vietnam uniform there!)

Antone Dodson, and Jake the Bachelor

A Hot dog, taco and condiments

I will say though, that when planning a Halloween costume, being from Minnesota, taking the weather into consideration is a good idea. I did not, and paid the price. It was freezing!

So while I’m not gonna worry about where my priorities lie, I’m just gonna let the good times roll. Life too short to not to enjoy the small stuff.

I hope everyone got out and voted yesterday for somebody. Have a great rest of the week. Let’s set a personal goal (me) of writing again before weeks end.

 

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In the meantime

My day started at 4:10a.m.

More like my night ended at 2:30a.m. and I took a cat-nap until 4 when I heard Tomo come nearly crashing down our death stairs carrying her suitcase that most definitely weighs as much, if not more than her.

Today, Tomo left.

Mom, Dad and I drove her to the airport at 4:30a.m. I will say that, since I fell asleep in my clothes on the couch and didn’t even bother to remove my pants or put on p.j.s that I was looking pretty good for that early in the a.m. 😉

In addition, I have lots of updates on our 8 day adventure around the Twin Cities, but while I whip that up, as well as some Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cookies, here is a dorky survey that I actually enjoyed doing, to tide you over.

I was tagged on Anne’s Blog @ Food Loving Polar Bear in her little survey/questionnaire. So here goes my answers to those questions.

1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why?

I would want to fly or be invisible so I could walk through walls. Sounds like it’d be cool. Oh wait, I wanna breathe underwater too! Free SCUBA diving!

2. Who is your style icon?

Hahaha, if you know me at all, um I clearly don’t have an icon by the way I dress, but I do like simple and cute with some accessories and heels. Who’s that?

3. What is your favorite quote?

Wow, I love quotes, but I currently have this one on my email signature:

Progress involves risk. You can’t steal second base while keeping your foot on first. -Anonymous

Seems relevant to my life right now.

4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

Tomo’s family told me that I am the nicest foreigner they’ve ever met and I’m really respectful and understanding of other cultures. 😀

5. What playlist/cd is in your CD player/iPod right now?

I’m a little behind on the times since I just got home, but I’m still obsessed with Love the Way you Lie by Rihanna/Eminem, and I really like the country tune: If I Die Young.

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

I used to be a morning person, but evidently my social priorities have me staying up really late. That will all change again when I’m working 40+ hours a week!

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

Don’t hate me: NEITHER. I don’t mind them, but since I didn’t grow up with any, I could live without ever having one. Some people have really cool dogs though.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

I am from Minnesota, and this is my life. (Travels, Friends, Family, my Faith, and the fun things I do…all while trying to find a healthy balance). Here is my About Page!

Tag some people:

Jamie @ Tearaveler

Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers

Molly @ Something.Beautiful

Janetha @ Meals and Moves

Have fun with the questions! :)

~~~

Enjoy and I’ll be back SOON!

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Why hello lovelies.

Yesterday was the big day!!! Someone celebrated a big, fabulous birthday, and what better way than for me to make a cake?!

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Now, I’m all about healthifying things and even though the original recipe would have been fine and dandy, we not only were out of some of the ingredients, but in some cases, our house only hosted the healthy alternative. So, when I finally decided to get my life together, well after 12p.m., and finally realized it was my mother’s birthday (that I had yet to prepare for)…

First up, I ran to Party City.

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour (I used a little less than that and Whole Wheat flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I used one teaspoon + 1.5 teaspoons of Pumpkin Spice)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (didn’t have –Pumpkin Spice)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (used Pumpkin Spice)
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil (I substituted 1 1/4 cups of natural applesauce. Best decision ever. SO.MOIST)
4 large eggs (I used 1 cup Egg Beaters–that’s all we had)
3 cups grated peeled carrots
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

~~~

Maple Cream Cheese Topping

Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat CC)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (I omitted. Great choice. Didn’t even need it)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Line 24 cupcake molds with paper fillers.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger Pumpkin Spice in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins, if using them. Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.

Bake cupcakes 14 to 18 minutes (I did 17. Perfection), or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them.

Icing:

In a hand mixer beat all the ingredients together. Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly. (Again, taken from Smitten Kitchen). I didn’t follow the cooling instructions, and hence the final product looking like this:

I was pressed for time or I woulda put a little more effort into finding a way to cut some sugar, but what’s the fun in that. The nut’ stats are still dec. Take a looksie 🙂

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 cupcake

Amount per Serving

Calories 152
Calories from Fat 31.0

% Daily Value

Total Fat 3.44g
Saturated Fat 2.19g
Cholesterol 108mg
Sodium 193.49mg
Total Carbohydrate 19.25g
Dietary Fiber 1.47g
Sugars 10.32g
Protein 3.11g
~~~
So after playing lil’ Rachel Ray, I sweat my butt off running to draw up a huge banner to stream across our garage, blow up balloons, write her card, wrap the gift, all before she was to arrive home around 4p.m.
Did I mention I started this all around 1p.m.? I’ve always been know for my punctuality.

~~~

Then the fun came, Mom arrived home and hugs, kisses, and gifts ensued.

After our mini celebration, the fam was off to pick up Tomo at the Airport. Let’s just say “Fashionably Late” should be our last name. This time it was unintentional, I swear.

We made it to MSP just in the knick of time. I assumed Tomo would be coming in through the International Gate. Makes sense, no? Did I forget to mention that she had a layover in Houston, making her flight to Minneapolis domestic. Oops. Well, needless to say my stiletto get up and Versace shades bookin’ it through the airport was far from classy. And my $15 shoes were not giving me legit support (clearly). A few minutes later after kindly interrogating the Continental Airline worker where the eff our passenger was, she said they had pick up their bags and cleared out already. Crap.

Then I got a call. Here I was holding the gift bag in hand, and poor Tomo was wandering aimlessly, surviving on little English and some stranger’s cell phone. Thank God for Minnesota nice, eh?! 😀

We were finally reunited. At.Last. And then it was time for a birthday dinner/Welcome to MN partay.

Lucky’s was the place to be!

Popcorn, entrees, and some birthday cake to go around. ‘Twas perfection. I’ve got a lot in store for Ms. Tomo as she spends her first American experience here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. I’ll keep you all posted for that matter. It’ll be the most action I’ve had in my life all summer! 🙂

Now back to that Twins game, which should have wrapped up 5 innings ago…

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Hello all! Ok, so since I’ve gotten home a little less than a month ago, I’ve neglected this little blog. Let’s just say I’m spending some quality time with family and friends, sans internet and technology (excluding my cell phone, let’s be serious, going a year without texting…I obviously have some catching up to do 😉 ). But I do believe I have some India travels to share with you all. So here it goes!

~~~

You wanna know something funny!? Being a Midwest girl, it’s pretty likely you’ll run across a family of ducks, a turkey in the road, or sometimes a deer (if you’re *not lucky), but in India, it was a-whole-nother story. Well-put by our driver ‘Veej’, the cows are the ‘King of the Road’.

He wasn’t kidding either.

Before heading out of Delhi on our 3rd day, Mr. Singh promised to bring us to Gandhi’s Memorial Site. I have never been so moved, inspired, and changed in a span of 2 hours. I wish everyone could see just a fraction of the things Gandhi did for his country and the world.

Ton and I were able to walk the same path Gandhi took to his daily prayer, before being shot and assassinated at his home.

Below is the exact point where Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948 (according to the U.S., but my journal says 1947, which is when India celebrates, I believe).

~~~

On a lighter note, we took off with Vijay and made our way to Jaipur. A few things he said, which made us laugh:

When you travel, laughter is good for health. Laughter means happy brain.

Do you know Ramayama? You can search in the Googles.

We call people Gadha, means: he is so stupid.

Obviously we probably found his antics a lot more humorous than you would reading those, but at the time, this guy just brightened our day and made us laugh, a lot. Healthy brains, right?!

We arrived at the Radoli House (Hotel) and pretty much called it a night (after 9 hours of driving!)

Next up, our tour of Jaipur and a night none of us (3) would forget!

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Sooooo I’m baaaaaaaaack.

Loving life, just needed to get back in the swing of things.

After our morning run, we hit up the breakfast, which was perfection. Oats, granola, Almond Butter, fruit, yogurt, coffee, and a bag of Adora calcium chews for all. Yes please. Omg, seriously I love breakfast with my whole heart. However, I got greedy and inhaled it before even taking a pic. Oh well, I’m a healthy living blog, not solely a food blogger, so I consider myself forgiven.

However for lunch I made the extra effort. This is my attempt at being a Food Blogger:

Lunchtime! Soo delicious! Arnold Sammie Thin, with Turkey, veggies, side salad, a dollop of quinoa (but should have made that the main event), and then those awesome chickpeas that I discovered I couldn’t stomach (due to my recent bout with food poisoning in India…that recap coming a.s.a.p.), but I now have a VERY present food aversion to cilantro, which makes me VERY sad. I hearted cilantro until my run-in with Palak Paneer + peanut masala (with cilantro). Sad day my friends, sad day.

Ok, back to Summiting. SOooo to sum up the SUMmit (yes I’m lame), it was amazing and the people there were Fabulous. I said it before, but I’m a nerd when I say I was star-struck meeting the hosts. I’m that girl; gawking from a distance whispering to the person next to me: OMG, that’s Angela, or Ahhhh it’s Caitlin and I just bought her book! Anyway, the whole event was success and basically one big food fest, full of healthy goodies of course, so it was a guilt-free weekend!

I didn’t really take pics of the speakers, but I did capture the streets of Chicago!

Sears Willis Tower, costing $16 for a flight up to the Sky Deck. We passed.

Eye baaaaaaalls.

This was our first OUT.OF.THIS.WORLD. fro-yo experience. It was EPIC!

OMG, freshness in a cup. I wish Minnesota had one of these places! Does anyone know of one?!

Plain+Acai Froyo + strawbs, cacao nibs, & yogurt bits. Not gonna lie, I kinda wanted a little bit of every topping…but some may consider that greedy. I’ll go back again someday. Mark my words.

I came back from our walk and guess what?!??!! I won not one, but TWO DRAWINGS! I forget all the things from the first one, but 5 Uncle Sam’s boxes of something (I’ll show you the pic when it get’s shipped), 3 bags of Attune Granola, and 5 boxes of Gluten-free cereal! As well as a salad bowl from Athenos!!! What a treat! Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday night was spent at Howl at the Moon with Jen, Caitlin, Molly (another MN blogger!) & her friend from Chicago! It was a blast! I can’t wait to hit up the Shout House in Minny!!!

We ended the night on a high— SUSHI! To die for. Again, major fail, and it all went un-pictured!

~~~

We summed up the awesome weekend with a morning 10k (and some 5kers and walkers), but it felt great to get in one last run with fabulous women! I couldn’t have had a better time in Chicago. Furthermore, I can’t wait for next year’s event. I hope it becomes a tradition!

8 hours for a carride home was less than stellar, but at least I had awesome company! Thanks again Jen for driving us all that way!!! Love you girls~

Until next time, all you beautiful people, I’m hittin’ the hay.

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Let’s recap a fabulous weekend, shall we?

I’ve discovered that procrastination actually does a person good. Like when you wait too long to find a flight to Chicago and then prices spike to over $300 but THEN you find out a friend also happens to be going to the Summit within a span of 2 days. Perfect timing in my book.

Road trip anyone?

Friday~

Jen, Caitlin (new friend #2), and I hit the road in the early a.m. and because I rock at life, I didn’t go to bed until well after 2a.m. and had to get up at 5a.m. Not a pleasant wake-up call. We hit up a Starbucks right in Hudson, then made our way to Chicago.

A few hours into the trip, we were playing storm chaser and caught in a monsoon, no joke. And I’m pretty sure we hydroplaned. The last time I’ve heard of that happening was in my driver’s ed book at the age of 16. It was a little freaky, not gonna lie.

Then what seemed like 8 hours later, I experienced a new definition of traffic jam. Hello city. Note to all, Chicago and Minneapolis are NOT comparable in size; a common misconception (or me in denial that I live in ‘the country’). Minneapolis: 300,000/Chicago: almost 3 million. Ok, major fail on my part!

I met up with my roomie Laura (from Pennsylvania/New Hampshire) and we hit it off right away! I feel like we’ve been friends for years! I love this camaraderie of the bloggie world. It amazes me!

Then onto the cocktails…and socializing for us two ladies. We were starstruck. Yet, meeting all these wonderful, fabulous, down.to.earth women was the most surreal and fabulous experience of the summer, and maybe my life.

I kept saying to Laura cheesy things like “Omg, I wanna meet Kath, she’s such an inspiration, it’s like meeting a famous person.”

Then, when you meet them, they were so down to earth, friendly, peppy, and just plain FABULOUS. This weekend blew me outta the water, then clear across the land (again, I’m cheesy), ha, but seriously, I had the best time.

And here’s a serious plug for the best.book.ever. See above. That’s Caitlin. If you don’t know her- here’s the best way how: Operation Beautiful. The site + the book. Go buy it. Changed my life, hers, and thousands of others around the world.

And then, just when we thought the party was ovah…think again…we ran into Angela and got the party started. For real.

1a.m. was waaaaaaay to late for this granny (me), and 6a.m. came waaaay too early.

Saturday~

I’m surprised my mascara-crusted eyes were able to stumble outta bed and make it to the lobby by then. Like always, I’m so glad I went. There was a group of about 6 or 7 people, and by mile 2.5ish, Angela and I split off, hijacked a running clan, and made our way around the lake, through the woods, and along the city streets until we made it back to the hotel.

Ok, full day ahead of us, and FULL recap tomorrow. My blog says I reached my picture quota, eeep. Does this mean I need to buy more space?! I better get on that!

To all you fabulous ladies I met this weekend, I had a blast and can’t wait to see you again!

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