Caprese Salad

Any big plans this weekend? End of summer cookouts, perhaps? Or good ol’ fashioned potlucks?

Let me give you the easiest, peasiest dish ever for you to bring to your next gathering: Caprese Salad. It is EXACTLY as it sounds, and everyone will truly love it.

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You need just a few simple ingredients:

  • Mozzarella
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

Now don’t hate me…but I’m not giving your “real amounts” here. Sorry if that is a problem…but basically, you need equal parts of cheese and tomatoes. Dice your cheese and half your tomatoes – you should have a pretty even ration of the two. Next, roll several basil leaves together and chiffonade your basil to get these nice pretty little strips. Mix this all together with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, and a generous drizzle of balsamic. Mix it all up with a little salt and pepper and let it sit in the fridge a little while. Give it a taste, and if you don’t get enough tang from the balsamic, mix in a little more.

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So this is my quasi-recipe of the day…I made it in a bit of a hurry so didn’t measure anything out – sorry!! But truly, enjoy these last weekends of summer, and make some yummy, fresh foods!

Super Hero Cake Balls

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They always look completely homemade, by hand, but I just love making them. And recently, my friend Annie asked if I could make some cake balls for her son Carter’s Superhero themed 4th birthday party. My response? Of course! Always!

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I had such a fun time making these. Cake and icing from scratch is the key – when you use store-bought, ESPECIALLY canned icing, they are just WAY too sweet. I mean, don’t get me wrong: these little buggers are as sweet and rich as you can get. But when you use canned icing, it’s just over-the-top-not-even-tasty sweet. And really, whipping up some icing is not the most time consuming part of this process, by any means.

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I lucked out finding a few little extra touches, like these cute star candles and those sugar letters to spell out his name. The colors were red, blue, yellow, and green, but I pretty much only added green via the cupcake wrappers, letters, and one of the candles. It was more of an accent anyway!

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Fun, right?? Annie also had someone make a layered super hero cake and both were a great success. My cake balls may look handmade, but they taste AMAZEballs (see what I did there).

Happy Thursday!

Thad Cockrell {Rosalyn}

So it would appear that I posted about this song four years ago, after attending an amazing night in the round at The Bluebird, and it has recently popped back into my head.

I was obsessed with this song (and artist) the minute I heard it. It’s beautiful, and unexpected. I’ve listened to more of Thad Cockrell’s music since then, and read a bit about him, finding that his goal is “to put the hurt back in country music.” Love that. He’s a solid Christian guy (love that) who doesn’t write every single song about God (love that) but is strong in his convictions (love that). Basically, love him, love you guys, and I love this song, so I’m passing it on to you (again). Enjoy it!

Extreme Weight Loss Commercial Break Workout

Last Tuesday, as I watched Extreme Weight Loss in my hotel room, I literally sat with my stop watch to time the length of commercials and doing workouts during them to come up with the workout below. I mean, let’s be real – you can use this watching ANY show, but if you finish the whole thing, I promise you’ll feel a little extra good at the end of the night!

Also, while I was working on this little project, I saw that Heidi Powell posted about jogging in place during every commercial. We were totally on the same wavelength!

Each commercial break, do the exercises listed (either two or three), and whenever a new commercial starts, switch. You’ll see that the first two commercial segments say “two commercials per workout” because I noticed that those two sets have many shorter commercials, and later in the show, the individual ads get longer. You won’t end up doing everything for exactly the same time, but it gets you moving and strengthening! So here you go: EWL Commercial Break Workout, no equipment needed.

EWL Commercial Workout

To sum it up in a more copy and paste friendly way, here you go:

Commercial 1 (3:15) – Jogging Cardio

  • Alternate High Knees and Butt Kicks (two commercials per exercise)

Commercial 2 (3:15) – Quads and Core

  • Alternate Wall Sits and Plank (two commercials per exercise)

Commercial 3 (2:30) – Legs and Upper Body

  • Alternate squats and pushups (one commercial per exercise)

Commercial 4 (3:45) – Calves, triceps, and core

  • calf raises, Tri dips, & plank (one commercial per exercise)

Commercial 5 (3:30) – Legs and cardio

  • lunges and jumping jacks (one commercial per exercise)

Commercial 6 (3:15) – Quads and Core

  • Alternate Wall Sits and Plank (one commercials per exercise)

Commercial 7 (3:30) – Legs and Upper Body

  • Alternate squats and pushups (one commercial per exercise)

Commercial 8 (3:30) – Calves, triceps, and core

  • calf raises, Tri dips, & plank (second time hold plank til end of commercials if you can)

Commercial 9 (4:15) – Legs and Core

  • lunges, squat jump, v-sit (one commercial per exercise)

Commercial 10 (3:45) Jogging Cardio

  • Alternate High Knees and Butt Kicks (one commercial per exercise)

Conquering the Snooze Button

Happpppppy MONDAAAAAAAY!!

I’ve learned that 95% of my workouts have to happen first thing in the morning, or they won’t happen at all.

Often, particularly in the Midwestern winter months, that means finishing a workout when it looks like this outside:

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But you just have to do it. You just have to get up. And even if you don’t workout at the crack of dawn, you may have a war with the snooze button, too. And the only thing to do is conquer the snooze button.

I’m sure my husband is laughing at me right now because I have NOT conquered it, but I have gotten a lot better! And even though I may not always follow it, I know the trick:

Sleep cycles.

(nerd alert!!!)

Sleep cycles are among the most genius, wonderful gifts God gave us. They also happened to be my favorite topic in AP Psychology, and later, throughout my many college psychology courses.

So the facts:

  • Sleep cycles are typically about 1 1/2 hours, though they can vary a little bit depending on the person*
  • It is easiest to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle, so try to time your sleep in 1 1/2 hour increments (so 6, 7.5, or 9 hours would be best)
  • It is hardest to wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle, about 45 minutes in. Do not take 45 minute naps!! Keep naps under 20, so you don’t get too deep in, OR give yourself a whole 1 1/2 hours
  • REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is at the end of your sleep cycle. This is usually when you dream, which is why we often wake up knowing we were just dreaming (but usually forget pretty quickly)

In my perfect world, I’d be falling asleep by 10:00 pm and waking up at 5:30. I do pretty well with 7 1/2 hours of sleep, especially when I’m working out and eating clean. Test it out for yourself!

*The traditional way to figure out how long your sleep cycle is takes a bit of work, but set an alarm for 1 1/2 hours (maybe add an extra 10 min or however long you think it usually takes you to fall asleep), and when your alarm goes off, take note if you were just dreaming or not. If not, next time extend or reduce the alarm by another 10 min or so to try to hit that dream spot again. Once you do, you can count on that being a fairly consistent sleep cycle length for you. Cool, right?

But now, of course, there’s an app for that!

I recently downloaded the free version of “smart alarm.” I was skeptical, but after tying it only one night, it seems like it’s at least not just making it up. Here’s what my night of sleep looked like:

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You can see the waves of deep and light sleep, and those brief moments where I woke up (but don’t really remember it). I bet the one spike in the middle, where I woke up from deep sleep, is probably when I took my sweatshirt off which I had NO recollection of at all.

Another cool feature is that you can set your alarm for say, 8:00 a.m., and tell it to give you a 10, 20, or 30 minute “wake window.” So if you give it a 30 minute wake window, and at 7:37 it notices you’re in a pretty light sleeping phase, it’ll start to softly set off the alarm.  Cool, right? In my graph, I was awoken by the sounds of the neighbors, and a few minutes later, the alarm started going off. I’m excited to try this app more often! One other thought – the hubster wasn’t home when I did this, so I wonder how having a hubster and a pupster in the bed may mess it up…we shall see!

And when you do find yourself wanting to get back in, your itty bitty pup will say, “NO! GO BE PRODUCTIVE!!” She is the ruler of this home.

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Oreo Chocolate Chip Funfetti Cookies

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I mean…you can already tell that they’re amazing, right? These cookies were the perfect homecoming treat for my hubster when he finally made his way back to Columbus.

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These are totally, melt in your mouth, over the top sweet, best of all worlds, type cookies. MAKE THEM FOR THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE!!

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When your process looks like this, you know it’s going to be perfection:

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A word to the wise: don’t eat them all by yourself. Don’t even eat four of them. You will feel gross. Not that I know.

Scrabble Family Decor

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My most recent favorite, 10-minute project. Seriously, so quick and sweet!! I loooooove it! #nerdalert

So if you want to make your own, here’s what you need:

  • Scrabble letters (check ebay, etsy, etc to find a bag of letters)
  • Chalkboard contact paper OR chalkboard paint OR a roll of magnet backing OR paint
  • Glue
  • Frame

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I wanted to use what I had already at the house, and that included a roll of magnet backing. I cut a rectangle of it to cover the glass of a frame I had sitting in my basement. Easy as pie. Then I simply glued my letters on, and voila!

Seriously, the hardest part about this project was deciding how I wanted to arrange all of our names… After that, the rest was simple! Even you can do it – I promise :)