Life Lately

If you haven't noticed, it has been a little busy on this end. I've been....

prepping for my best friend's baby shower that is on April 8th - can't wait to shower her and this sweet baby girl with love.

Downing a whole carton of Salted Caramel Halo Ice Cream in 3 nights - this stuff is seriously heaven-sent. 

Writing lots of papers (while consuming said ice cream)

Having one too many nights-out on a work night - oh well! We went to the Wild game last Tuesday and it was so fun!

Being spoiled by Andy with my favorite flowers ever.. he's such a gem!

and spending time with my favorite woman!

I am really enjoying my new job - although most nights I come home with my brain feeling like mush. I am always learning something new and interesting every day though and my days seem to fly by. I am working on getting a concrete blogging schedule down though, so I'll be back Friday for the link-up. Yay weekend!

Kickin' Kentucky Mule

Typically, I am just fine with a cold bottle of white wine for my drink of choice. Sometimes I'll be adventurous and make a homemade margarita if we have the ingredients. Andy is just fine most of the time with a craft brew. You get what I'm saying? We're not usually the ones to whip up a new drink recipe. However, I think that is all about to change as we realized how fun it actually is! We even had a little tiff over who was going to be the one to shake the ingredients together and pour it over the ice - real problems over here guys, ha!

We made this recipe to go with our Beef Tenderloin Sandwiches and man oh man it was so tasty and fresh! And there's some sort of sense of accomplishment that comes with making your own drink.

Try this one out! Perfect for hot summer evenings, and it can be easily made in bulk for guests.

Kickin' Kentucky Mule
via Date Night

For the ginger syrup:
10 oz of fresh ginger, cut into 1-inch pieces (no need to peel)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup warm water, divided
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

For the Mule:
1/2 cup bourbon 
1/4 cup lime juice
Soda water

Puree the ginger in a food processor until finely chopped. Add sugar and 1/2 cup warm water. Process further, until the ginger is very finely minced - about 2 minutes.

Add the pureed ginger mixture into a bowl. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup warm water and the lime juice. Mix to combine. 

Strain this mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing out any liquid in the ginger. 

In a cocktail shaker, add bourbon, lime juice, and 3/4 cup ginger syrup filled with ice. After a few heavy shakes. pour into copper mugs filled with ice. Finish with a splash of soda water and garnish with lime. 


36 Hours in Chicago

Hey friends! Once again, work and school have been taking over my life this week. Soon I will get some better time management skills - I'm hoping next week is a better week in the blog department as I start to get a little more comfortable with this new and crazy schedule.

This past weekend we took a little trip to The Windy City with some of our friends. And by little - I mean about a day and a half.. but regardless it was a great weekend!! We got about 6 hours of sleep total the whole time but hey, sometimes that is just how vacations are. I would never think back to vacation and wish I would have spent more time sleeping in a hotel bed instead of exploring, right??

So, here's a bunch of pictures and places I recommend:

After we arrived in Chicago, we took the L line into downtown and checked into our hotel at AC Hotel by Marriott Chicago Downtown. This hotel could not have been in a more perfect location! It was central to everything we wanted to see/go to. The rooms were beautiful, the beds were so - so comfy (I even told Andy that we need to find out where they bought their comforters) and the shower.. don't even get me started on how nice that shower was.

We spent our first night at The Broken Shaker - a super delicious, bougie cocktail bar that serves wonderfully-made drinks! They had a huge variety and I doubt you could find the same thing anywhere else :)

Saturday we brunched at a restaurant literally called Brunch. I can't even tell you exactly what I had but it included sausage, breakfast potatoes, eggs, and a whole lotta cheese!! Can't go wrong with that combination. Oh and it came with mini buttermilk pancakes on the side... you just have to go there!

We continued the morning fun by walking over to The Hampton Social. This is a light, beautifully decorated, nautical bar that has a lot of delicious drink and wine options. I dubbed it my absolute new favorite place.. the whole place is instagram-worthy. We each bought a bottle of wine for our table and listened to this talented musician who was playing covers of a huge variety of songs. It was probably my most favorite part of the trip!

After we enjoyed all of that wine, we headed over to Navy Pier for some touristy stuff. I've been here plenty of times but it's always fun to go and people watch and take some photos!

Then I got some fancy candies at Sugarfina - highly recommend their red velvet caramels!

Dinner that night was classic Chicago style deep dish (can never go wrong with that!) at Lou Malnati's. Never disappoints.

We ended the night with more fancy cocktails at a random hotel bar we found across the street - Bastiste & Bottle! It was on the 20th floor and the views were stellar! A perfect way to end our last night.

Then it was back to the hotel for 3 hours of sleep before catching a cab and the L back to the airport! We had a blast and although Sunday was pretty darn hard to function - it was all in the fun of it!

I can never get enough of these views...


Five on Friday | 3.16.17

Today's Five on Friday is short and sweet because 1. work took over half my life this week, and 2. school took the other half over. Whomp, whomp.. but busy is my favorite thing to be so it's all good in the hood (god I kind of hate myself for just saying that).

- ONE - I am off to Chicago tonight for a little weekend getaway with some friends tonight! Although we will only be there for less than 36 hours, a vacation is a vacation and I'm always up for exploring! Even if my time is limited. On my list are The Hampton Social, Sugarfina, and I would loooove to go to Giuliana and Bill Rancic's restaurant but we'll see.

- TWO - I am loving this little corner of my desk.. I can't wait to get more decor up!

- THREE - I have recently started listening to Podcasts.. I needed something to get me out of bed in the morning but also was something that didn't distract me from getting ready. So I just play my podcasts through my phone while I'm doing makeup, hair, etc. and it really keeps things interesting! Dare I say, I am even excited to wake up tomorrow to catch the next episode??? I am currently on the series: Missing Richard Simmons.. it is excellent! If you want to get into podcasts you should start with this one - it is sort of like a documentary and who knew this famous fitness star was even missing!??!!

- FOUR - Andy and I are currently looking for a new bedroom set (preferably one that includes a queen bed frame, nightstand, and double sided dresser of some sort). If anyone knows of stores with good deals, send them my way!!

Also - no one ever mentions how hard it is to agree on a piece of furniture with someone. But I want us both to be absolutely in love with something if we are both contributing a good portion of money. Thankfully Andy has an eye for interior decorating so I know we will find something awesome!

- FIVE - Happy St. Patrick's Day - you better be wearing green so you don't get pinched! Also on this note, I am down to hours until Shamrock Shakes are no longer available so McDonald's better be open and serving them at MSP airport tonight, or else!

Have a happy, lucky, shamrockin' weekend!!!


Beef Tenderloin Sandwiches

Last Friday night, we decided to have a little "at home date night" with some homemade dinner and a movie courtesy of Family Video (yes we're old school and have a video store account - it's bomb). Awhile back, we went through our whole Date Night In cook book and book marked several recipes. This cook book is set up so genius! I highly recommend it to anyone who likes to spend a little extra time in the kitchen, because while the recipes are delicious - they are slightly time consuming.

But the cookbook is categorized by seasons, and then by subcategories (backyard BBQ, his birthday, etc.) and then for each subcategory there is a drink recipe, an appetizer or side recipe, a main course, and a dessert recipe. 

Our meal included:

Kickin' Kentucky Mules
Homemade Potato Chips
Roast Beef Tenderloin Sandwiches
Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today I'll be sharing our Roast Beef Tenderloin Sandwiches, and I'll share the other recipes some other time. I quote Andy when I say "this was the best sandwich I've ever had". That about sums it up. Now there are a few steps for this one, and they include: roasting the tenderloin, caramelizing the onions, mixing the horseradish mayo, and assembling the sandwiches.

Roast Beef Tenderloin Sandwiches

For the tenderloin:
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
1 pound beef tenderloin
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the onions:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion
Pinch of salt

For the horseradish mayo:
1/4 cup mayo
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt

For the sandwiches:
 Burger buns, split, buttered, and toasted on hot pan
Horseradish mayo (recipe follows)
Caramelized onions (recipe follows)
1 cup arugula leaves

To make tenderloin:

Salt and pepper tenderloin, let rest outside of fridge for about an hour. Sear on stove. Once outside is browned and crisp, move to oven at 325 degrees and cook for 10-15 minutes - or until inside is to desired wellness. We did our medium-rare. Move tenderloin to cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes before slicing across the grain of the meat. Place in fridge.

To caramelize onions:

These directions are very important - you cannot caramelize onions in 10 minutes. This is the best way to get them nice and sweet. You will not regret it! :)

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for at least 45 minutes, stirring and scraping up the brown bits on the bottom every 7-10 minutes. Cook until onions are coffee-colored throughout and smell sweet. 

To make horseradish mayo: 

Combine all ingredients - start by adding horseradish little by little to taste. We like ours nice and strong. Mix and place in fridge.

To assemble sandwiches:

Spread horseradish mayo on both buns, add meat, onions, and finish with arugula. Place top bun on and enjoy the best sandwich you are about to ever eat, ever!

I apologize for any spelling errors - I am finishing this post at 10pm and should really be in bed, but I was so excited to share this awesome recipe that I simply couldn't wait any longer!


Cheers to a New Chapter

Blogging has had to take the back burner this past week because...drum roll please...

I got a new job!!!!!!

If you follow my instagram, I shared this last Friday! But oh my gosh, I am so excited about this career change! It is exactly what I was looking for in a job and couldn't have come at a more perfect time. So here's the back story: I had taken a job (with not the best pay and not in something I was passionate about) in January 2016 because grad school was slowly starting to take over my life and I wanted something that would provide me with time to do my homework during the slow hours. Yes, I was able to get paid to do my homework at work - which was awesome - but I found myself having almost too much time on my hands. Every day I was becoming more and more restless with this position, which unfortunately started to manifest itself into my work style, effort, and attitude. I was leaving work feeling frustrated and empty almost every day - so I just knew it was time for a change of pace. I needed something within my field of interest, and something that would provide me ample growth and learning opportunities. Something that would fulfill me. 

Finally, after applying at dozens of places (job hunting is a job in itself - oof da), I got an email from a recruiter asking me if I would be interested in a position with their company, and it's all been up from there!

So what do I do now? I work for a national company that helps those with mental health disorders and physical disabilities get approved to receive social security. That's a very vague description - but it is only my third day :) It's a rewarding job that makes a huge difference in the lives of this population, and it brings me joy to give these people my time, knowledge, and aid. 

So cheers to a new job, cheers to new experiences, cheers to my new cute little office, and cheers to a new chapter of life!


Spaghetti Squash Taco Boats

Spaghetti squash is one of the weirdest, helpful, and most perfect things (at least in my eyes). I am a HUGE pasta fanatic and it is the only thing I have found that has curved that naughty treat. I have mastered the art of spaghetti squash roasting, and not to toot my own horn - but it always turns out just right.

These taco boats were so delicious, so filling, and so guilt-free. They were also super easy and required minimal effort. Ideal for a quick week-night meal! Excuse the sub-par photo, I was hungry and there was no natural light around :)

Spaghetti Squash Taco Boats

3 small spaghetti squash
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1.2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 small onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup water
4 oz can tomato sauce
3/4 cup shredded cheese
Pico De Gallo

Cut squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds/soft strings. Put in glass pan and fill with 1/2 inch water. Roast at 400 for about 50 minutes, or until flesh is soft and can be pierced easily.

While squash is roasting, brown meat in a pan. Add seasonings and mix well. Add pepper, onion, tomato sauce, and water. Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes.

When spaghetti squash is finished, let cool until you can handle it. Use a fork to scrape the insides so strands appear. Spoon 1/2 cup mixture into the squash bowl. Sprinkle cheese on top. Put back into oven for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Serve with pico de gallo (it really makes this dish great!). I also added some avocado!

Weekend Recap

I found myself on Friday night with no plans.. Andy was out at a concert with his friend, my friends were all either working or busy, and my parents were off with their friends too. Although I'm typically the kind of person who cannot sit still for longer than an hour - I've found myself enjoying these "me" nights more and more. I ended up getting some baby shower planning done, had a great workout, rewarded myself with a frozen pizza (honestly the only thing I crave lately), got some spring cleaning/organizing done, and did some baking. Also there was a Harry Potter marathon on, which just made the night even better.

I went to the new northeast location of Glam Doll and picked up some of their gorgeous donuts for breakfast (not all for me!). Their flavors are so unique - bourbon apple fritter, huckleberry jam with brown sugar, bacon cinnamon crumble with Surly bear frosting. oh my gosh, they were so good!

Andy and I spent the day checking out some breweries with our friends. We relaxed the rest of the day and made our favorite Philly Cheese Steak Puffs for dinner, and watched The Edge of 17. It was definitely a unique movie but it had a lot of laugh-out-loud parts and turned out to be really good!

Sunday we drove to White Bear Lake to spend the day. This little town is adorable and sits next to a few big lakes. Their downtown had a ton of antique stores and boutiques, which is my favorite kind of shopping. We enjoyed breakfast at Cobblestone cafe, checked out some of the shops, and then drove over to their nature preserve for a 3-mile walk! It was so gorgeous outside and we soaked it up.

We rewarded ourselves with ice cream from Cup and Cone after.. a perfect way to end our walk!

We relaxed and grilled some burgers to end our weekend. This weather has me so ready for spring!


M&M Cookie Bars

The abnormally warm weather this weekend really put me into the spring cleaning/organizing mood times 100. I cleaned out my entire closet, took a huge load of things to Goodwill, and made these deliciously bright, springy cookie bars... despite finding out I had no brown sugar right as I was baking away.. oops :)

Little did I know, you can still cook successful cookies without it. How it works, I'm not sure.. but I couldn't even taste the difference.

They were the perfect pop of color and I could have easily gotten away with eating the whole pan with a giant glass of milk, but thankfully my self-control kicked in.

These would be easy to conform to any time of year - depending on what theme of M&M's are selling! I would love to make some Fourth of July ones or Halloween ones would be cute too!

 M&M Cookie Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 bag M&Ms
3/4 bag white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 pan.

In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.

In separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add this mixture slowly into wet mixture. 

Once all combined, add M&Ms and white chocolate chips.

Press dough into pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until center is cooked through.


Five on Friday | 3/3/17

I haven't participated in these in a while so I'm excited to get back into the swing of weekly blog link-ups! Here we gooooo...

- ONE - 

The weather around here is supposed to be extra gorgeous this weekend and I am so excited to get outside. Tonight I'll be doing a little spring cleaning - there's a lot to tackle. I love love love spring cleaning and organizing though so I actually look forward to this task. Nothing feels better than a freshly cleaned home!

- TWO -

I got together with my friend that I'm co-hosting a baby shower with and we addressed all of the invitations. We ordered them off an Etsy store and I think I will be ordering all invitations off of there now. It was so simple, and they turned out beautifully!


Has anyone ever heard of Rent the Runway? and if so - what are your thoughts on it? For all of you who don't know, it's a company that rents out very expensive, name brand dresses for super cheap! All dresses are categorized based on what kind of event they would work best for. You select which one you like, can read reviews/see pictures of people who rented wearing the dress, and select when you would like to rent it. Then you just return it once your event is over. Such a cool idea! I'm thinking of utilizing this service for the many events I have this summer, because am I really going to re-wear a dress to two big events? I like to tell myself I would but the answer is no.

- FOUR -

Just feast your eyes on this delicious doughnut I got from Hy-Vee... yeah I'm still highly impressed by that store.

- FIVE -

My friend loaned me her copy of The Magnolia Story and I am starting it this afternoon - I'll report back what I think of it! Everyone seems to be reading it so it must be good.

Happy weekend guys!


Thursday Thoughts

Two things on my mind this chilly Thursday...

1. There is a major deal at Target right now for all you neat freaks.

Nothing brings me quite as much joy as new cleaning products - especially in the spring time when all I want to do is deep clean every inch of my place. Right now at Target with the Cartwheel app, they have a deal that when you buy $50 worth of cleaning products, you get $15 off! This ranges from mops and tools, to dish liquid and laundry detergents, to select candles and car air fresheners.. seriously, spending $50 on this stuff is so easy to do!

To show you how amazing this deal is, I got the following: 2 Method surface sprays, 2 toilet bowl cleaning gels, 2 Febreze air sprays, Febreze fabric freshener spray, 1 Method glass cleaner, magic erasers, garbage disposal cleaners, 2 things of laundry detergent, 1 container of Downy infusions, stain remover, 1 dish brush, and 2 dish soaps.

Easily that would have all costed me around $70, but I walked out spending $40 after using Cartwheel coupons and my redcard discount.. absolutely crazy!

So go out and get all your spring cleaning supplies!

2. How have I not been to Hy-Vee before?

Up until last night, I had never been to this grocery store and wow - it. was. amazing. They have so many different things there! I was feeling pretty overwhelmed so after doing about 3 loops around the entire store I settled on a pretty lemon/fruit croissant from the bakery, some "spicy guac" cracker mix form their bulk seeds/nuts/candy section, some buffalo-bleu stuffed chicken to make tonight, some sunset plums, and a meal for last night from their buffet/restaurant area (meatloaf, green beans, mashed potatoes - guys, it was so good.)

I have found a new favorite place :)
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