Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Did I have you at pumpkin or chocolate? Honestly, chocolate makes almost everything taste good, but it make any bad day better. I definitely had a case of the Mondays yesterday, shhh don't tell my boss. So naturally what would any pregnant woman do? Duh, bake cookies!

Side note: if it was a workout night I would have workout and then baked cookies! Lucky me tomorrow is a double day so I'm not worried about any amount of calories from said cookie. Winning!

Ok, so more about the cookies. I wish I had an old family recipe to share, but alas I don't. Instead I called up my friend Pinterest via the internet and asked her for the best pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe. Oh boy, she had a few cookie recipes to share.These are definitely on deck -- Brown Butter Nutella-Stuffed Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies and Melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin cookies!

Since I didn't feel like going to the store I had to work with ingredients on hand, but trust me these classic pumpkin chocolate chips cookies were perfect! The best part -- I was able to use my new freestanding slide-in oven range!! Worked like a dream.

Sally's Baking Addiction // Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: about 18

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Whisk melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until no lumps remain. Mix in the vanilla and pumpkin until smooth and set aside.

In another bowl mix flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and pumpkin spice. Using a stand mixer combine flour and pumpkin mixture. The dough will be very soft. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes. This step is mandatory.

While dough is chilling preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Drop tablespoon sized balls on cookie sheet -- flatted the bottom slightly. Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look very soft and under baked. Cooking them any longer may dry them out. Let them cool for 10 minutes before serving. 

Enjoy with a glass of soy, almond or regular milk!

Linking up with Lisa love John!

Giveaway update: Thank you to everyone who entered the Hamilton Beach Giveaway! Congratulations to Natalie -- her favorite slow cooker meal is seafood chowder with lump crabmeat and shrimp. Happy cooking.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Baby Registry // Essentials

Since finding out we were expecting a girl and now that our baby shower in San Diego is quickly approaching I've been busy researching baby gear. After scouring the web and talking to friends I'm feeling good about our registry picks {Amazon / Target}. Well at least today I am. While putting together our registry I had a few goals -- 1.) Duel purpose 2.) Quality 3.) Gender neutral.  

Baby Registry

A registry isn't complete without swaddle blankets. I have a few friends who swear by aden + anais. I'm also very intrigued by the aden + anais easy swaddle blanket. They seem like a no brainer.

I struggled over deciding which pack'n play to registry for. Since we decided to forgo a stand alone bassinet we picked a pack'n play with a bassinet. We'll use this in our room until transitioning to the crib. Remember dual purpose. A friend mentioned she couldn't have lived without a bouncy seat, swing, and rock'n'play. She has two kids so we put them on the list as well. 

Oh, the babe is going to need lots of fun activity toys to keep her busy when she's not strapped to mom or sleeping. I love the woodland theme! A few other recommendations were a exersaucer and  jumpy seat. I have a feeling this girl is going to be an active one so these are great items for her to hang, bounce, twirl and play.

Clearly a car seat is a must. We decided on the Graco Snugride based on reviews, color options and BOB Infant Car Seat Adapter. Since she'll out grow the infant car seat in seven to eight months we also registered for the Britax Boulevard G4 Plus.

I was looking for durable bottles. Plus glass bottles can be washed in the dishwasher!  Besides the Lifefactory bottles I would be happy with Dr. Brown's glass bottles. Both have great reviews, but Dr. Brown's bottles are a better price point. Win, win.

Oh, the great stroller debate. One or two. Jogger or non-jogger. For us it was somewhat easy. From the beginning I knew I wanted a jogger. From there it was just determining which one. Nick would rather purchase the Thule Chariot because it can also attach to the back of a bike, but it's so big! They offer various attachments to make life easier too -- single snack traystroller handlebar console and infant car seat adapter 

There are going to be times when a stroller really isn't handy or I'm running around the house, but am with my girl. This is where a carrier comes into play. I personally like the Ergo baby and the performance carrier is geared towards the active parent. Again, I opted for the gender neutral color. For times I don't feel the Ergo is necessary and based on my colleagues recommendation I also registered for the Boba Wrap which is practically the Happy Wrap just a bit cheaper.

You'll need something to set all the washed bottles/ etc. on. This is just cute. End of story.

If you plan on breast feeding I hear the boppy is nice to have. A friend also suggested registering for at least two covers as they tend to catch any spit up in the beginning and who wants to do laundry every day?! For the same reason we ordered multiple mattress and changing pad covers.

Because my girl needs a cute teether!

Wow, that was a lot to digest. Honestly, I received so many great tips from friends. These are just a few of the ideas from our baby registry. Wondering what else we registered for? Head over to Amazon and Target. See something you think we're missing? I would love to hear your thoughts and advice. It's going to be a learning process for the next 18 years and beyond! Ha.

Linking up with Join the Gossip

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bump Update // 25 Weeks

How far along: 
Exactly 25 weeks today! 

Baby's size:
Our peanut is the size of an cauliflower. About 13.6 inches and 1.5lbs.Just crazy!

Weight gain: 
Roughly 11 pounds. Right on track. I think it's all going to my butt.

Food cravings:
Sorry, not much to report here. However, never send a hungry pregnant woman to the store. Unless it's sample day at Costco.

Sleeping great! Only waking up once in the middle of the night..
Team Pink  {reveal

More everyday. She's really active after working out. Future athlete in the making.

 Best moment this week:
Having a quiet weekend without any visitors. Becoming a Fitfuential Ambassador!

Miss anything?
I'm starting to sound like a broken record here -- glass of wine, seasonal beer, sushi and breathless workouts. With the holidays quickly approaching it's going to get even harder.

Had the sniffles the other week. Figured out that my body isn't use to greek yogurt any more earlier this week. Had a burn in my throat afterwards. I was just trying to introduce the baby to dairy other than ice cream and mix up my afternoon snack. Back to no dairy (for the most part) I guess.

CrossFit, spin and walking/running. I'm still logging up to seven gym workouts a week. I'm just trying to maintain.  Fingers crossed I'll be able to maintain working out for the next 15 weeks.

My "Pregnancy" Workout Schedule 

Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday
1 hour of walking at an incline of 3-5 and 3-3.5 pace
15-30 pushups and 30-50 air squats (I usually do these at the end of the day while I'm watching TV)
If I'm feeling crazy side planks and pulls-ups

In the morning my workout includes a 30-45 minute treadmill warmup -- walking/running depending on what feels good -- then 50 minute spin. After work I head to CrossFit for the WOD -- I modify whatever movement I need  to.  Last night was 1,000m row, 50 thrusters and 30 pull-ups for time.

Depending on how I'm feeling maybe a quick circuit followed by a 50 minute spin session Saturday morning. Definitely a few dog walks, maybe a hike or bike ride and lots of stretching.
I posted this photo on instagram last week. Me pre-pregnancy (March/2014) vs. 24 weeks and about to head to the gym at 5 a.m.

Maternity Clothes?
 Yes and no. I've bought a few pieces, but still find a good amount of my clothes still work. Honestly, I need to buy more workout gear -- specifically pants. Most of my tops still work, but pants are just feeling too tight across my belly. 

Overall, happy. I did cry last week when we decided to push the kitchen remodel back because we can't find a contractor to take on the project! It's been a frustrating few weeks. They're either too busy or just not interested.

Looking forward to:
Decorating the baby room! The crib was ordered last week. Now we just have to clear out the room, pick a paint color and start picking out all the other elements. I can't wait to share what I'm refinishing for the room. Hint: It's actually mine from when I was a child! It's amazing what we (more like parents) hold on to over the years.

Linking up with September Farm 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What's in my Gym Bag

Although, I'm a gal who prefers working out in the morning there days I log two workouts. This means from time to time I go directly to the gym from work and preparing a gym bag is key.

What's in my Gym Bag

GapFit Tank 
These days maternity tops are much more comfortable while working out. Sorry not rocking my husbands t-shirts. The gapfit tank is breathable and keeps me nice and cool during spin, crossfit, etc. My favorite workout tank pre-pregnancy was Columbia's Omni-Freeze.

The North Face Pants 
Favorite workout pants of all time. I'm still rocking these at 25 weeks preggos and feel great. The motivation pant is apart of their yoga line, but I wear them to spin and crossfit. Although the price tag might be high at $60 they are well worth it.

C9 Seamless Racerback Sports Bra
Sports bras are one of those items when I find one I really like I buy five. Over the years I've always liked the C9 sports bras from Target. They're economical and fit me well.

My sweet husband bought me a pair of Nike free training shoes for my birthday in May. He knows me well. Although they're not great for running they are perfect for crossfit. When I'm not rocking these bad boys you can find me wearing my Merrell All Out Fuse running through the woods.

Polar® FT60F Womens Heart-Rate Monitor
If we wanted to get technical I'm currently in the market for a new heart rate monitor. After a bit of research I've narrowed it down to the Polar FT60. It's perfect for workouts during and post pregnancy. I love purple can you tell :) (The Polar Heart-Rate Monitor would make a great Christmas gift for any fitness enthusiast) 

Skullcandy Earbuds + iPhone/iPod
I'm not sure about you, but I need music when working out. Plus an iPhone can help keep time for interval training. Years ago I picked up a pair of Skullcandy earbuds for cheap from Marshals just to have an extra pair and they turned out to be pretty fantastic. They're not my favorite for running long distances, but they're not bad. Plus they come in fun colors!

Kind Bars 
I always like to keep a snack on hand and right now Kind Bars are my favorite.

Hydro Flask 
You should always bring a water bottle with you to the gym. Period. I personally like the hydro flask. Not only will the stainless bottle keep your drinks cold for up to 24 hours, but it will keep beverages hot up to 12 hours. Win, win.

Timbuk2 Iris Gym Duffel Bag
Of course you need a cute bag to keep everything in. I own a few Timbuk2 bags. Not only are they extremely durable, but they are manufactured in San Francisco. Oh and you can custom order colors! 

Jump Rope
You've heard me mention crossfit a few times. It's only natural my gym bag has a speed rope for all those double unders (that I'm still working on).

A few other items I keep in my gym bag include an extra top, socks, hair ties and jacket. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Everyday Beauty Favorites

I'm not a beauty expert by any means, but I know what beauty products I like. These are just a few items currently in regular rotation. When it comes to makeup / beauty routine my rule of thumb is keep it simple.

Everyday beauty Favorites

Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash 
Let me start by saying I haven't tried an Origins product I didn't like. Throughout college I used Origins then switched from Bliss, to Dermalogica, to Aveeno etc. Recently I noticed I needed to switch things up and decided to go back to Origins. It's perfect for my combo skin and Tahoe climate.

Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System
The budget version of the Clarisonic. I started using the facial brush last October and noticed a difference in my skin within a few weeks.  Since using the brush regularly for nearly a year I've noticed my skin is cleaner, smoother, a more even tone, and less oily. (shhh.. the hubby even use it from time to time)

Redken Body Full Shampoo and Conditioner  
This spring I finally jumped on the Redken wagon. I have fine then hair, but a lot of it :) The body full line doesn't weight it down. Typically my hair gets oily fast, but not since using Redken. However, I still wash my hair everyday. Sorry there is nothing worse than a head of dirty looking hair and when you're blonde it's easy to notice.

Redken Body Full Volume Amplifier Thickening Lift Spray 
The thickening spray adds a bit more volume and body I need. (Note: I also use a few other styling products)

Benefit Cosmetics Rockateur
I'm a big fan of bronzer. The Rockateur is a nice blend of bronzer and blush in one. It's perfect for everyday wear from the office to running errands.

Origins lip gloss
Perfectly simple. I like an sheer natural looking lip during the day and this gloss does just that. Next to Bobbi Brown this is one of my favorite lip glosses. (Tip: makes for a great stocking stuffer -- yes I went there)

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream
I don't wear BB cream everyday, but when I do this is one that I prefer. I actually own various brands of BB cream and switch between them depending on season -- yes it makes a difference. I prefer the Maybelline BB Cream during the fall/winter because it acts as a nice moisturizer as well.

Make A Difference™ Plus+ | Origins 
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize. If there is one thing you don't want to skip or skimp on it's moisturizer. You don't have to break the bank, but you want a product that is actually working for you. The Make A Difference Plus is a nice and thick, not oily, night moisturizer. I like to think it will help postpone any wrinkles a bit longer ;)

CoverGirl Lashblast Mascara
Over the years I feel like I've tried them all and this one just keeps calling my name.

I could go on about a few others products, but that will have to wait or another time. What everyday beauty products do you love and think I should try?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe + Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker Review and Giveaway!

{Disclosure: As a Brand Ambassador for Hamilton Beach I received the Set ‘n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker to review, however, all opinions are 100% my own. This giveaway is sponsored by Hamilton Beach.} 

Fall brings football, boots, pumpkins, new seasonal beer and best of all slow cooker meals. I don't know about you, but typically when I get home from a long day the last thing I want to do is cook. With that said, I try to prep as many meals Sunday night so post work meals are quick and easy during the week. Sometimes that doesn't happen and on those days my slow cooker is my favorite kitchen tool.

This weekend I actually managed to use my new Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget® 6 Qt.Programmable Slow Cooker twice. Per my husband's request, Saturday I made chicken tortilla soup and Sunday pulled chicken tacos. This made meal prep for the week really easy -- set and forget!

Let's chat a little about my new Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker. I'm in love. My old Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker had minimal settings -- off, high, low and warm. It definitely got the job done, but the Set ‘n Forget® Programmable Slow Cooker is a major upgrade. Compared to traditional slow cookers the Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker offers home chefs three cooking modes making life easier: program, probe and manual mode.

Program Mode

Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker Features:
  • Three choices for easy, automatic cooking: program, probe and manual
  • Probe mode is perfect for cooking large cuts of meat or for recipes that require food to reach a certain temperature
  • Thermometer probe reads the actual temperature of food as it cooks; the temperature is displayed on the slow cooker control panel
  • Travel-friendly -- The lid securely seals in place with sturdy wire clips on each handle
  • 6 quart removable stoneware crock fits a 6 lb. chicken or a 4 lb. roast
  • Wraparound, even heat cooks food evenly and consistently
  • Full-grip handles make carrying heavy meals easier
  • Power interrupt protection keeps slow cooker on during a brief power outage

I'm thrilled with my slow cooker. Honestly, I wish I had programmable slow cooker years ago. No more burnt ring from cooking just a bit too long! Bonus -- it looks good, size, fully sealed lid, probe for cooking meat perfectly and spoon for serving. My friends better watch out, my slow cooker maybe be at their next party! Until then it's going to help make life post pregnancy much easier.

One of my favorite dishes to make in a slow cooker is soup and what better way to celebrate the seasons changing than a hearty bowl of chicken tortilla soup. Below is a recipe I've adapted over the years. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Apparently, I had a heavy hand with the tortilla chips... oops.

Chicken Tortilla Soup 
Serves 8 

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
15 oz. can corn kernels, drained
15 oz. diced tomatoes, drained (regular or with green chilies)
5 cups chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 serrano chile, seeded and diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Cheese -- I like Mexican Blend
Tortilla chips (I like Late July flax-seed chips)

Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours.

Before serving remove chicken breasts and shred. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker and stir.

Divide among bowls and top with cheese, avocado and tortilla chips (break with your hands to make big crumbs). Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

Tip: Make a double batch and freeze half for later.


As part of my review, Hamilton Beach is kindly offering one lucky reader a Set ‘n Forget® 6Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker!

Entering the giveaway is simple, please follow the instructions provided on the Rafflecopter form.  Please note, only entries via Rafflecopter will be eligible to win. Thank you and good luck!

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