HLS13 Saturday and Sunday

Okay, I think it’s time to continue on with my HLS 2013 recap! If you didn’t catch my recap of Friday, you can find it here.

After a not-so-great night of sleep on Friday, Katie and I were up before the sun (literally) to embark on an 8-mile run. I led her around my old running paths and it felt great to be back running along the Mississippi!

HLS Run Collage

Following the run and some a gallon of coffee, I joined the HLS bloggers for breakfast at the hotel. We had a great buffet full of eggs and potatoes, cheddar-pepper biscuits that were to die for, fruit, yogurt and pastries. Everything was delicious!

hls breakfast

Throughout the day, I attended 4 conference discussions – Blogs in Transition: Embracing Your Blog, From Blog to Job: Utilizing Your Personal Blog to Elevate Your Career, The Organized Blogger and Blogger and the Brand: Building Relationships – and visited our amazing sponsors’ booths.

I didn’t take a single note during any of the conference sessions (oops) plus I’m not great at educational recaps… HOWEVER, if you’re interested in reading about what we learned, both Caroline and Amanda have great recaps of these sessions!

Driscoll Collage

I mentioned that I visited and talked with our sponsors, right? Well, I am just going to get it out there and say that our sponsors were freakin’ AMAZING! We snacked and snacked and snacked some more throughout the day on delicious things like Driscoll Berries and Blue Diamond Almonds and homemade Nutella via a Ninja Blender and Wild Harvest popcorn and Sargento cheese sticks. In addition to some serious snackage, we also had some fun opportunities for photo shoots (had I known this, I would have actually done my hair and worn makeup…) and giveaways – we seriously could not have had better sponsors :)

Photo Op Collage

Oh and my recap wouldn’t be complete without mentioning lunch! We had a tasty fajita salad buffet along with a Diablo Chocolate Cake – I was tempted to eat 5 pieces but then decided that I shouldn’t do that at a healthy living conference ;)

HLS lunch Collage

After a full day of sessions, the roomies and I had plans to go out for dinner and drinks. The idea of showering, putting on makeup and real clothes along with the rain storm outside had us thinking that staying in the hotel room for a girls’ night was a much better option. We trekked out into the storm to grab some wine (obviously) and Chipotle (of course!) and headed back to our room for some girl time. It was great to spend a Saturday night without make up and bras (oh wait, that’s just me that hates wearing ’em, hehe!) and talking with my ladies :)

HLS dinner Collage

On Saturday night, I found out that I won the contest for a Ninja Ultima Blender!! I was so freakin’ excited, I couldn’t believe it! My old blender (that was probably $15) died just before I made the move to Chicago and I haven’t had the chance to make smoothies since. I can’t wait to receive a ($200-ish) blender and make soup and smoothies and pestos and other deliciousness that I can share with you all!

As a little side note – and to keep you awake for the rest of the post, I will be hosting a Ninja GIVEAWAY in the near future! Get excited!

sunday morning Collage

Sunday morning was welcomed after a much better night of sleep with a cup of Starbucks (my beloved downtown Dunn Bros doesn’t open until 9am on Sundays – whaaa??! People need their coffee, Dunn!) and a walk to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden with the whole HLS group. I had a great time chatting with Hannah, Casey, Sam, Chelsea, Gina and Kim along the way!

Next came a sleepy breakfast followed by more giveaways. Us bloggers love things to review on our blogs ;) I didn’t win anything but Katie did and she gave me her HUGE bag of EnergyBits (another giveaway that I’ll be having soon!).  Thanks Katie!

Energy Bits Collage

Before packing up to head to the airport, I said my goodbyes to SO many amazing women including Amanda and Katie (who were at our dinner on Friday but I didn’t get to talk with them that much since they were on the other end of the table – bummer!), Kelsey, Tara, Katie and Katie (who lives in Chicago!).

P.S. If you ever forget a blogger’s name, just go ahead a shoot for Katie – you have a 72% chance of getting it right ;)

phillip lim

Once I was all packed, I hit up Target for some Phillip Lim action with Jen and then she was kind enough to drive me to the airport. I stopped at my favorite MSP hangout (go here the next time you’re at MSP!) – Surdyk’s Flights – and ordered a flight of reds along with the Minneapple panini – turkey, brie and apples.

HLS Surdyks Collage

I have yet to sort through all of my swag although Kyle is quite excited about some of the Wild Harvest snacks I brought home ;)

Phew! It was a whirlwind of a weekend and I’m so excited and happy that I was able to meet and spend time with so many wonderful and inspirational women!

What was your favorite session if you attended HLS? How many Katie’s do you know? I think I’m up to at least 150 ;)

Oh hello there, old friend Minneapolis!

Well, hello!

Happy Sunday evening. How was your weekend?

I arrived back home in Chicago (that still feels weird to say!) safe and sound earlier this evening and can’t wait to update you on my fun weekend in Minneapolis! The Healthy Living Summit was a blast. I was able to reconnect with some of my favorite bloggers and meet {in real life} some of the bloggers I’ve been following for months!

There was lots of good food and tasty drinks and talking and learning – Exactly what a weekend with blend girlfriends should involve :)

My flight left Chicago bright and early Friday morning – 7am to be exact. Kyle was nice enough to drive me to the airport so I didn’t have to navigate the L in the dark by myself.

hilton

After an uneventful flight, I arrived at the downtown Minneapolis Hilton around 9am. I had a big agenda so I quickly checked into the hotel and headed to my first – and most important – stop. Dunn Bros!!

dunnbros

The coffee perked me right up and I decided to go on a walk around my old stomping grounds. I inadvertently took the exact same path I use to take to and from work in Minneapolis and ended up in front of my condo building. Old habits die hard.

riverwest

I thought I would feel a tinge of homesickness or sadness being back in Minneapolis but I actually felt very at peace. I was at peace with our decision to move to Chicago for new opportunities and I was thankful to be back visiting friends!

Minneapolis Walk Collage

After a long walk along the Mississippi River, I headed back downtown to meet up with an old coworker/friend from Target. It is always great to catch up but it was also so weird that I no longer have access to the Target HQ building!

target

It was then time to officially check into the Healthy Living Summit and pick up my swag.

hls name tag

Holy swag! The “gold” sponsor of HLS was Wild Harvest and they – along with our other sponsors – we so so SO generous! I have tons of coupons and organic, natural products to try out including Blue Diamond Almonds, Energy Bits, Balance Bars and Nature Box snacks!

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(Photo Courtesy of Melanie)

Kyle has already claimed the remainder of my Nature Box snacks and is ordering more as I type this ;) Looks like I’m outta luck on those!

After squealing like a kid on Christmas morning over all of our incredible swag, I grabbed a quick lunch with Jen at The Bulldog (beers and burgers and fries were involved) and then headed back to the hotel for an Insanity workout. A beer before sweating is always a good idea… (I’m kidding…) ;)

The roomies (Katie, Melanie and Caroline) and I then quickly got ready for our dinner at Kindee Thai and the HLS cocktail party!

curry

Per the usual, Kindee Thai was amazing. I ordered the Green Thai Curry with Tofu and definitely recommend it if you ever visit Kindee! It was great to meet and talk with so many bloggers at dinner including Kim and Hannah.

photo booth

Since our cocktail hour was at The Guthrie, once dinner was over, we walked across the street to enjoy a glass of wine with the entire group of HLS bloggers. We socialized, enjoyed the gorgeous views of the river and took some ridiculous photos in the photo booth throughout the evening.

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(Kim, Hannah, Katie, Me, Melanie, Caroline, Jen)

All in all, it was a wonderful first day of the conference – I feel so thankful for all of my old and new blogging friends! I can’t wait to tell you more about Saturday and Sunday later this week :)

Did you attend HLS? If not, have you ever attended any blogging conference?

Weekend Update + Weekly Meal Plan

Hi there! Happy Sunday!

I missed my photo weekend update last weekend because of the long weekend AND I’ve missed meal planning for oh, the past 2 months or so (gasp!) so I’m doing my best to get back onto the bandwagon today!

Friday included a shopping day with my friend, Nicole, at Chicago’s new Fashion Outlets of Chicago mall. I didn’t spend as much as it seems ;) And in case you’re wondering what I got, come back Tuesday for my Treat Yourself Tuesday post!

Outlet shopping collage

We had to stop for a little lunch to power our afternoon shopping. A glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a Greek salad did the trick!

Lunch Collage

After a full day of shopping, I got cleaned up for date night with Kyle! Dinner at Bridge House Tavern on the Chicago River made for amazing views. The food was just okay, I’d recommend going there for happy hour and soaking in the sites and sounds of the river instead.

Friday Dinner Collage

Following dinner we strolled over to Bin 36 – a wine bar and restaurant that I have been wanted to check out FOREVER… or at least the past 4 weeks ;) Drink Wine – Live Well – Have Fun <– Heck yes! Their wine was tasty and quite affordable for being in the middle of Chicago, we will definitely be back! And look at my new bracelet, so pretty!

Bin 36 Collage

Saturday brought an early morning run followed by a hot walk with Mitchell to the farmers’ market. He thought the tomatoes smelled pretty good ;)

Farmers Market Collage

Saturday afternoon involved baking (weird!) and then a Cubs game with Kyle’s family. The Cubs lost (again, weird…) After the game we headed out to our new favorite local establishment, Jefferson Tap, to meet up with some friends for the Notre Dame – Michigan game. A margarita, some beers, a black olive pizza and a Michigan win later, we called it a night!

Sat Afternoon CollageToday is going to involve trying a new-to-me fitness class at my gym this morning (cardio kickboxing!) and then a whole lotta Bears’ football (This is treat Kyle, not #treatyourselfTuesday!).

I haven’t meal planned in what seems like FOREVER so bear with me while I get back on track…

  • Sunday: Broiled Salmon with sauteed brussels sprouts
  • Monday: Tapas Happy Hour hosted by our apartment
  • Tuesday: Taco Tuesday
  • Wednesday: Summer Squash Quiche
  • Thursday: Jalapeno-Spiced Black Bean Burgers
  • Friday: Dinner at Kindee Thai in Minneapolis!
  • Saturday: TBD – Something with the girls!

How was your weekend? What are you making for dinners this week?

Where to Eat – Minneapolis Edition

As most of you healthy living bloggers know, the Healthy Living Summit is a mere 9 days away!

HLS

This year, the conference is being held in downtown Minneapolis, my lovely former stomping grounds :) Since I ate my way through the city for the better part of 4 years, I thought I’d share my restaurant knowledge with all of you lovely ladies attending HLS! And also with those of you looking to find delicious eats in Minneapolis!

As a side note, Katie and I are hosting a Friday dinner mini-mingle at Kindee Thai Restaurant! Their food is amazing, the restaurant is super close to our cocktail hour and you’ll get to spend time with Katie and I (what more could you want??!) – If you want to RSVP, sign up here!

Breakfast Spots

  • Glam Doll Donuts – Best. Donuts. EVER! Perfect for breakfast but they’re also open until the wee hours of the morning so if you get a little hungry after the cocktail hour, head on down to Glam Doll to satisfy your sweet tooth ;)
  • Hell’s Kitchen – A few steps away from our hotel, Hell’s Kitchen serves great breakfasts that will satisfy anyone in the group with their wide array of breakfast options from HUGE sweet rolls to savory delights. Their decor is quite interesting and their wait staff wear their PJ’s on weekend mornings – no need to dress up for brunch if you head here! Hell’s Kitchen also has great happy hours and dinner options as well! If you want something quicker – grab ‘n’ go style – head on up to their sister store, Angel Food and Bakery for a pastry and cup o’ joe.
  • Nicollet Island Inn – For those of you who like things a bit fancier, head to Nicollet Island Inn for their 4-course Sunday brunch. It won’t disappoint. From omelettes to pastries to smoked Salmon to piping hot coffee – this brunch is one thing that I don’t want to miss when I get back to Minneapolis!

Affordable Eats

  • Pizza Nea – My favorite pizza place in Minnesota. Pizza Nea serves authentic, Italian-style pizzas and delicious wines for a great price! A small and adorable restaurant in Northeast Minneapolis!
  • Grumpy’s – Looking for a low-key night? Head to a great local “dive bar” in downtown Minneapolis. Wear your lulu or your jeans or your fanciest dress – it doesn’t matter, anything goes here! The bartenders are chill and there are pool tables galore. If you get the munchies while at Grumpy’s, the bar food is amazing and they have quite a few vegan options as well!
  • Mesa Pizza – Another pizza place. Weird ;) Mesa Pizza is in Dinkytown – The University of Minnesota’s college campus and they have ANY type of pizza you can imagine. Macaroni and Cheese pizza? Check. Fajita Pizza? You betcha. Spicy Chicken with Avocado? Oh yes, definitely yes!
  • Chipotle – No explanation needed here! There is a Chipotle a block away from our hotel. Excited? Me too – let’s plan a Sunday lunch date to Chipotle!!
  • Bewitched Deli – A delicious deli located in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis. Tasty sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts all from locally made and sourced products. It’s a win-win! Good for your tummy, your body and our small, local farmers :)

Fun Hangouts

  • Devil’s Advocate – A unique restaurant/bar that focuses on meatball EVERYTHING and it is just around the corner from our hotel! They do the normal beef meatballs but also have fun options like falafel and fish. They also have a HUGE beer selection that I’d recommend checking out… but that’s just me ;)
  • Chino Latino – You MUST visit Chino Latino in Uptown while in Minneapolis! Upscale “street food” from around the world served family style in a hip and vibrant atmosphere. Their drinks are pretty phenomenal too! If you plan on going with a group, make a reservation ASAP – this place fills up on the weekends!
  • Vic’s Dining – My all-time favorite restaurant in Minneapolis. The food is slightly over-priced but they sell their wine at cost which makes up for the price, at least in my opinion! They have an amazing patio that overlooks the Mississippi. If anyone wants to head here Saturday night, count me in!
  • Pracna on Main – Another winner from historic St. Anthony Main along the Mississippi River. Now y’all know where I spent a majority of my time while living in Minneapolis! Decent bar-type food with fun drinks and amazing microbrews that are on happy hour from 9pm-11pm daily – $3/pint!
  • Stella’s Fish Cafe – A fun restaurant in Uptown that is known for it’s delicious mojitos and views from atop the building. Get a seat on the rooftop and gaze over Uptown and see the Minneapolis skyline while enjoying tasty fish and sippin’ on your mint-flavored cocktail.

Quaint Bites

  • Barbette – If you do one thing while in Minneapolis, go get the fries at Barbette – A French Bistro in Uptown. (The half-sized version is PLENTY!) They are the best fries I’ve ever tasted and compliment the mussels perfectly. They’re also good with wine if you care to know ;)
  • Aster Cafe – A small, quaint cafe that has an adorable patio overlooking the Mississippi. You will feel like you’re in a mystical forest if you dine there at night surrounded by trees decorated with white lights. Their flatbreads and cheese plates will not leave you disappointed!
  • Origami – My favorite sushi restaurant in Minneapolis! Located in a small, older building in the Warehouse District – try to get a seat upstairs at the bar. The bartender will give you great service and will tell you everything that isn’t on the menu!
  • The Bachelor Farmer – A Scandinavian-style cuisine owned by the Dayton brothers – their family also started Target Corporation so you know that this restaurant HAS to be good! Start with the popover course and go from there. Amazing food with even better service.
  • Toast Wine Bar – A cute, little wine bar and restaurant tucked away under an apartment building. Their flatbreads, crostinis and wine are all fabulous and at a great price!
  • Lucia’s – This gem touts a new menu full of fresh, local ingredients daily. Their soup is always the best soup I’ve ever had (yes, every time – it just gets better!) and it has been said that Josh Hartnett likes to hang there. Just in case you’d like a celebrity siting during your trip ;)

Did Someone Say Snack?

  • Dunn Bros – For the love of all things holy, get a coffee here while you’re in Minneapolis. I have been having serious Dunn Bros withdrawals ever since moving to Chicago. Sad but true. SO much better than Starbucks and Caribou and – gulp – even Dunkin’ (Yes, I said it…) – Do not miss this unique, Minnesota coffee company while in town!
  • Candyland – I must admit that I never visited this vision of a child’s heaven while living in Minneapolis but was given some of their popcorn and it did not disappoint. If you need a sweet bite to eat, head to Candyland. It will have every type of candy your little heart can ever desire!
  • Yogurt Lab – Frozen yogurt. TONS of topping. Need I say more? Didn’t think so ;)
  • Cocoa and Fig – So you want something a little fancier, eh? Well, I have just the place for you! Cocoa and Fig bakes mini cupcakes, cake pops, granola – and everything is so gorgeous you won’t want to eat it. Okay, you will probably still want to eat everything in their tiny, skyway shop but at least longingly gaze at your beautiful cupcake before you quickly inhale it!

Phew – This was a long list and included only a few of the restaurants that I love in Minneapolis! If you’re looking for a specific cuisine or have questions about where to eat in Minneapolis, feel free to shoot me an email (becky (at) olivesnwine (dot) com) and I’ll do my best to help you out!

Have you ever visited Minneapolis? What is your favorite place to eat in the Twin Cities? If you’ve never visited, where are you most looking forward to eating while in town for HLS?

Goodbye, Minneapolis!

I hate goodbyes. Goodbyes usually involve the end of a vacation or a weekend with girlfriends or leaving a place or a loved one for a very, very long time. And tears. Goodbyes ALWAYS involve tears.

And, not only do I hate goodbyes, I get all awkward and out of sorts when I have to do them.

So, today, it is not goodbye, it is see you soon, Minneapolis.

view

I’ll see you soon my city of 4 years – the city that Kyle and I were married in and and the city that I worked my first job in and the city where we bought our first property in.

I’ll see you soon beautiful Mississippi River and I will run alongside you just like the old days.

Mississippi River Collage

I’ll see you soon Melanie and Katie and Jen, the Healthy Living Summit is less than a month away :)

I’ll see you soon Dunn Bros Coffee – I am already looking forward to my first cup of you upon my return.

dunn bros

To make this see you soon adventure more bearable. I’m going to make a short, little list of all of the things that I will NOT miss about my experience in Minneapolis.

You know how they say you only remember the good things when something is over, well it’s true. I realized that I didn’t really hate as many things in Minnesota as I thought I did ;)

1. My Mean Neighbor – Okay, so she might not be a mean person but the woman seriously doesn’t like me! Here’s a little story for you…  A few months ago while at work, I received a call that my neighbor called to complain that Mitchell was barking. I came home – like a good fur mama – to check on him and guess what, no barking. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that he can get a little vocal sometimes but it’s typically only when someone knocks on our door or he hears a sound that is similar to knocking. A few days later, I received yet another call about my barking child so I trekked back home and again, no barking. Weird.

The next day I decided to take matters into my own hands, so I worked from home to see what was driving Mitchell to bark during the day. Oddly enough he NEVER barked that morning until there was a knock at my door – in the middle of the day when all of my neighbors know that both Kyle and I work full-time jobs. I answered the door and guess who it was – my neighbor! She actually looked shocked to see me answer it and in a flustered voice told me that I was shutting my cupboards loudly.

Err… Okay? I haven’t opened my cupboards since breakfast which had been a few hours ago… Then it clicked – SHE was knocking on my door to make Mitchell bark!

I don’t know what her problem was but let me tell you what mean neighbor lady, you don’t like noise? Well, I was just informed that not only did our condo just sell, the condo above yours was also just sold and both units will be doing noisy construction for the next few months.

Karma is a bitch.

2. The Wind – Yes, yes I know. I am moving to the Windy City. I get that and it isn’t wind in itself that I have a problem with. It’s the wind in downtown Minneapolis. You see, it changes direction every 1/4 block. At first it starts out in your face and then it is blowing from the right and then from the left and then it’s behind you! Seriously, it does a wonder on your hair and I end up looking like this by the time I get to work.

(Image Source)

At least in Chicago, I’ll know the direction of the wind even if it is blowing me over ;)

3. Sharing a bathroom – Since Kyle has been gone the past 6 weeks, I have had the joy of having my own bathroom. It has been amazing. There has been no worrying about puddles of water from a boy who likes to shake like a dog when he gets out of the shower. No worrying about a boy’s lack of aim when it comes to peeing (Seriously men, why is this so difficult??!). No facial hair scattered about the bathroom sink. It’s been all nice and clean and girly-like and as of today, I no longer have that luxury.

Sigh. You win some, you lose some.

4. Minnesota Cliques – I’m not trying to be mean here but you Minnesotans are cliquey! (As a side note, I’ve conferred with my fellow Minnesota transplants and I’m not the only one who has experienced this.) Trust me, I love that you’re still friends with your preschool classmates and your dad’s best friend’s kids. I think it is awesome that you love high school reunions and can’t imagine yourself living anywhere outside of Minnesota.

I just want you to think about being a bit more friendly to us outsiders too. Please be friendly because us non-Minnesotans are nice and fun and cool people too and we want to be your friend :)

So, you have a new neighbor from out-of-state? Great! Invite them over for dinner. But listen up, don’t just tell them that you’re going to invite them over for dinner and then avoid the topic at your upcoming block party. Actually be neighborly, invite them over and make your favorite hot dish (see, even I can use Minnesota lingo!) to share. It’ll mean the world to them and you might make a new friend as well.

(Image Source)

Minneapolis, it’s been real.

See you soon.

What are some things that you don’t like about your city?

#2 WIAW – Treat Yourself Tuesday

Happy Wednesday!

Today is my second time joining in on the What I Ate Wednesday {WIAW} party that Jenn hosts every week.

Peas and Crayons

For those of you new to WIAW, here’s the scoop according to Jenn:

“What WIAW isn’t about — Comparison – Judgement – Restriction – Guilt

What WIAW is about — Celebrating one of the glorious things we all have in common: We all eat!

WIAW is about food and fun! It’s about making new friends, breaking out of a food rut, noting changes in your diet/lifestyle, inspiring yourself & others, embracing fruit & vegetables, nourishing your body with the foods that work for you, finding new ways to eat your favorite foods, and so. much. more.”

The past two weeks I have been focusing on reducing my stress levels and eating nutrients that will help me calm down and start growing my hair grow back hopefully sooner than later (Even though my hair is still shedding faster than normal, I have some baby hairs poppin’ up all over my head now, yay!) I have also been making an effort to relax and have deemed Tuesday’s as Treat Yourself Tuesdays! So, my second post of WIAW here on ONW is going to be the Treat Yourself Tuesday edition – Get ready for a stress-free and nutrient-filled food and fun par-tay!

After not getting the best sleep on Monday night (there were literally 50 police cars and at least 20 ambulances and fire trucks outside of my condo Monday night from 10pm-3am – apparently there was an accident involving a vehicle driving into the Mississippi River, yikes!), I woke up bright and early to a gorgeous Minneapolis morning. As a side note, I could not have asked for a better week to start my retirement from Target – and yes, I’m calling it retirement now, at least short-term retirement ;)

I woke up quite hungry and immediately made my way to the kitchen for a large glass of water and a delicious bowl of yogurt parfait goodness.

muesli

I sliced up a banana, topped it with Fage 0% plain Greek yogurt, ground flax seed, Mix My Own Muesli and honey. YUM!

Last week, Klara from Mix My Own contacted me about trying out their new breakfast mixes. I’m a huge breakfast lover so of course I agreed! Mix My Own allows you to create your very own muesli or cereal mix and has A TON of ingredients for you to choose from including many organic and gluten free grains, nuts, fruits, cereal and add-ins like chia seeds and cacao nibs! I made my own organic muesli blend and was shocked with how quickly it arrived at my door, only 2 days after I had ordered it. Not only does Klara ship her product quickly, she also makes quite a tasty blend. I will definitely be ordering more Mix My Own!

mix my own

Klara is offering all ONW readers a 20% off discount to Mix My Own from now thru the end of September. Just enter the code: OLIVESNWINE at checkout :)

After enjoying a protein- and healthy fat-filled breakfast, I headed outside for a long walk. The weather has felt like fall every morning and I am totally taking advantage of it :)

wiaw 2 morning walk

Once my head was clear and my body was warmed up from walking, I dove right into packing. This packing shiz is not part of Treat Yourself Tuesday <– NOT fun! In the middle of packing, I needed a snack… I was leaning towards a margarita or a glass of wine but since I had just packed my wine and margarita glasses away, I decided on a hard boiled egg and some raw walnuts ;)

waiw 2 collage

I can only handle packing for a few hours at a time so once I had my fill, I headed back outside for a run. It was just what I needed to refresh and forget about packing for awhile. As a side note, I have no idea how far or how long I ran and it felt AMAZING! I haven’t been taking my phone with me on runs for the past week and have just been running for the sake of running – so so SO refreshing. I highly recommend it!

If you know me at all, then you know that I was absolutely famished when I got back from my run. Kyle knows to have food on hand when he’s around me because, well… I get hangry veeerrryyy easily and a happy wife = a happy life ;)

wiaw 2 lunch

I quickly heated up one of my Jalapeno-Spiced Black Bean Burgers that I had in my freezer and served it on top of Lindsay’s Homemade Tortillas. I topped my black bean burger tostada with 1/4 avocado and had a side of cherry tomatoes. I also had a side of watermelon. A BIG side because – let’s be honest, there is no other way to eat watermelon!

A bit more packing and trekking downtown to buy more boxes ensued and then it was time for the best part of Treat Yourself Tuesday, spa time!

ivy spa

Don’t start thinking that I’m one of those Real Housewives of wherever and that I go to the spa each week because I definitely don’t! If only it were less expensive… I had a few coupons to use so I booked a facial and a massage at Ivy Spa in downtown Minneapolis. As always, the service was amazing and I felt so much more relaxed and happy on my walk home.

I don’t know what it is but something about massages always leaves me starving after an appointment! I was really craving Chipotle but the Chipotle downtown was closed so I came home and had the same dinner that I had last Tuesday – my Mexican Sweet Potato Casserole. It was just as good :)

Casserole 1

Sadly, I have no snacks at home due to my pending move so there was no snackage after dinner. It’s always sad when that happens!

How did you treat yourself yesterday? What was the best thing you ate over the past week? And Chipotle… yay or nay?

A Fabulously Bittersweet Weekend

Hi friends! I hope you’re all currently in the middle of a fabulous weekend, I know I am!

This was the first weekend that I haven’t traveled in a month and it was much needed. Even though I love traveling, it can add a lot of stress from the lack of sleep, different time zones and getting thrown off schedule so it was nice to stay at home (at least my home for a few more days!) this weekend.

Friday, as you all know, was my last day of work at Target. I left the office around 2:30 and let myself be sad for about the first 3 minutes of my walk home. After that, I realized that I wasn’t really sad – Yes, it felt strange to not have a job for the first time in 15 years but it also felt pretty damn liberating so I changed up my attitude and was a whole new person by the time I got home :)

inspiration

It’s a good thing too, because Melanie texted me that she was on her way as I was walking into my building! Melanie, Katie and I made plans to go to dinner on Friday as part of our monthly blend meet-ups which coincided perfectly with my upcoming move. While we waited for Katie to arrive (she was stuck in traffic, boo!), Melanie and I enjoyed some wine, the views from my patio and caught up on each other’s lives in more detail than we write on our blogs :)

view

Once Katie made her way through the crazy Minnesota Vikings traffic (okay, can I admit that just mentioning the upcoming football season makes me SO excited for fall??!!!), we walked over to Spoonriver – a restaurant a few blocks away from my condo that supports all things local, sustainable and organic – for dinner.

blends

I hadn’t been to Spoonriver in quite some time and forgot how their food is always so delicious and fresh. For dinner, I decided to go with the Tuna Nicoise salad – a great mix of fresh veggies, olives and tuna!

nicoise salad

One thing I love about going out with fellow bloggers is that we all take photos of our food! With these two, I am not the only weirdo that makes everyone wait to take their first bite until I’m done with my photography ;) Thankfully, Kyle’s gotten used to this habit and even offers to take photos of his food for me while he’s traveling, haha!

bloggers taking photos

After dinner, we walked back to my condo for some more girl talk and to share some desserts that we all had made. Katie brought her Special K Bars – holy deliciousness, go make these right now and send me half of the pan! – and I shared my Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars (recipe comin’ your way tomorrow!). After one two okay, I’ll admit it… THREE bars – sometimes being a healthy living bloggers means indulging in your favorite desserts #treatyourself – we were all in a happy, sugar-induced coma state for the rest of the evening :)

special k bars

All of this late-night sugar did not lend to a good night’s sleep on Friday night so I let myself  sleep in until the late hour of 8am on Saturday morning. The rest of Saturday was spent at the Mill City Farmers’ Market (my FAVORITE market so I had to hit it up one last time!), taking a long walk to the grocery store, napping, baking for National S’more’s Day, blogging and yoga-ing. It was a perfect Saturday.

On Saturday night I hosted a “Drink All My Booze” party because I do not plan on moving 15 bottles of liquor to Chicago! Plus, Kyle and I don’t really drink liquor at home – If I want a fancy cocktail, I’ll have one with dinner or on a girls’ night out. Unfortunately, a lot of my friends were out of town for weddings or vacations, etc. this weekend – Amanda and Jen were still able to make it though! Needless to say, I still have some booze left. SO, if you come help me pack, I’ll make you a cocktail ;) Deal?

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This morning, I slept until 9am (amazing!) and have no big plans for the rest of the day. I might go on a run or hit up yoga or go on a walk – I could get used to this no schedule thing! – but I plan on just taking it easy and starting the packing process.

What did you do this weekend? Any tips on what I should start packing first??!

Goodbye Target

It’s been a good run, Target.

Throughout the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows, the good days and the bad days – I can honestly say that I liked loved my first job out of college.

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Check out Mitchell as Bullseye in this photo my father-in-law sent me after I accepted an offer from Target!

No, it wasn’t fabulous every single minute and I definitely had my fair share of days that I did not want to go into work – Anyone that has been a Merchandise Planning Business Analyst at Target can tell you that the job can sometimes be is extremely stressful and is as far from glamorous as you can possibly get.

But you know what? Even though some days were less than ideal and the business analyst role did not come easily to me, I stuck with it and I am so glad that I did. I learned so much about life, about Target and about myself during those first two years and throughout all of my time at Target.

I learned how to create a work-life balance. This was a rude awakening… unlike college, you can’t just skip the “work” part of your career… who knew! I learned about the retail world and only quite recently realized the passion I have for working in retail. Ask me anything about my job and I will talk to you for hours. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to keep your wine glass full ;)

I learned how to make it through the busy times and how to relax during the not-so-busy times. Most importantly, I learned how to love my job and turn it into a career. Target did not just give me a job, they gave me a start to a career that I love. A career that I cannot wait to take to the next level in Chicago.

One of the things I admire most about Target is the phenomenal job they do of hiring motivated, happy, outgoing and intelligent team members (I mean, they hired me, right?! I kid, I kid… ;) ). After being in the working world for a few years now, I am a firm believer that coworkers can either make or break a job. Having the opportunity to work with fun, smart and driven teams on a daily basis made my career at Target enjoyable and something that I was (and will always be) proud to be a part of.

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So, here’s to you Target, and all of the things I will miss (and not miss) after today.

Goodbye Target discount. I think you’ve caused me to spend more than I’ve saved the past few years ;)

Goodbye easy, 20-minute walking commute. Through 120-degree summer days and 8-foot snow piles we have bonded and I will miss your ability to relax me after a long day in the office.

Goodbye “cool-factor” of telling new friends that I work for Target, their favorite (obviously…) store.

Goodbye “Fast, Fun and Friendly” culture that allowed for morning coffees and afternoon ice cream trips and Target runs and happy hours with coworkers-turned-friends.

Goodbye Red and Khaki Thursdays, I actually won’t miss you one bit.

Goodbye National Sales Meetings full of Beyonce and Taylor Swift and Michael Buble and Keith Urban and Oprah. I will miss the creepy, cult-like sea of red and khaki that you brought upon downtown Minneapolis each spring and fall.

Goodbye daily fashion shows – There was not a day that I actually felt fashionable enough to work at Target. Women (and men!) in this company have impeccable fashion taste and apparently limitless clothing budgets… ;)

Goodbye Friday morning team breakfasts. My taste buds will miss the bagels and donuts but my jeans might appreciate your absence.

Goodbye Minnesota Target stores that do not carry wine. I am looking forward to your Illinois cousins carrying my beverage of choice. Adult Beverage Business Analyst, consider this your warning – Chicago Target stores’ wine instocks might suffer upon my arrival. You have my permission to list my name and move to Chicago as the “issue” in your Instock ETA update ;)

And finally, goodbye Target team. You are the best in the industry so keep on, keepin’ on.

Thank you, Target. You’re going to be hard to beat. <3

The BIG News…

As promised, today is announcement day. It is with mixed emotions that I share all of this news and I’m not quite sure how to go about sharing everything – there is a lot here – so I’m just going to blurt it out and then ramble. Please bear with me!

1. I quit my job yesterday.

It is still difficult for me to fully grasp this concept as I type these words… I quit my job yesterday.

Although it would have made for some good YouTube video material, I wasn’t all “$%*# this!” while throwing papers up in the air and poppin’ champagne in the office. Not at all.

(Image Source)

I actually had trouble getting the words out because I was trying so hard to hold back the tears that had been forming for a few weeks. Thankfully, my manager is seriously the nicest person in the entire world and just kept telling me that it was okay and that my job should be the last thing I should be worried about at the moment. She has a great perspective when it comes to work-life balance and I am going to miss her. A lot.

For those of you that don’t know, I work for Target Corporation at their headquarters in Minneapolis. I LOVE being able to tell people that I work for Target, also known as: your favorite store of all time or the $50 $100 $200 store ;) I mean, who doesn’t love Target?!

Target was my first employer out of college and it has been the only place I have worked since graduating almost 4 years ago. Leaving a company like Target is difficult for many reasons – Target treats its employees like family, my coworkers are freakin’ amazing, I get a discount at Target (!!!) and unlike a lot of my friends, I actually do like my job. No, it’s not my dream job (still trying to figure out what that is…) but it has been a great job and I do like going into work every single day. Okay – I lied – maybe not every day, does anyone??! But most days, I really do enjoy my job.

Another great thing about Target? As soon as my larger team was informed about my decision to leave, my director reached out to me to let me know that if I ever wanted to come back to the company, just to let him know because they’d love to have me back. And again came the tears.

On a lighter note, the communication that was sent to my team called out the fact that in addition to the team missing my positive attitude and hard work, my baked goods would also be missed. I’m going to need some new taste-testers!

I think the most frightening part about leaving my job is that I do not have a new job lined up. I do have a few prospects in the works – more on that in a future post – but as of next Friday – August 9th, I will be a full-time blogger and a stay-at-home fur mommy to Mitchell. Pool time, long walks and marathon training, here I come!

2. I have a confession for you all, I might have told a teeny tiny little fib in one of my older posts. Remember when I said that Mitchell had to go to my in-law’s because of “work” we were having done on our condo? Well, we weren’t really having the kind of work I hinted at being done…

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Kyle and I sold our condo. And you can’t have dogs in a condo while you’re getting it “show” ready.

This is the second – leaving my job was the first – most difficult of all three of my announcements. I love our condo. I mean, c’mon, just look at this view!

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Yes, it might be small and it might not have enough windows for my liking and I hate our fridge but this is my – actually our – first place. It has been the first – and only – place Kyle and I lived after we were married and it was the first – and again, only – home that we have ever owned.

I remember immediately after closing and receiving our new set of shiny keys 3.5 years ago, we excitedly headed straight to our new place and popped open a bottle of champagne over our balcony. We later found out that any and all items (including corks!) are not allowed to be thrown off of balconies… oops… ;)

Owning a home is not easy. When something breaks, YOU have to pay for it, there is no landlord to pay the bills. Mortgages are frightening and frankly, I don’t want to own a home or a condo or anything similar for a long, long time.

Thankfully, our selling process was extremely easy. We received and accepted an offer on our condo before we even had the chance to put it on the market! I feel extremely lucky and blessed to have avoided the stress of multiple showings and the unknown of when our condo was going to actually be sold. And if all goes well, knock on wood, we close on the 19th of August!

I am going to miss our view and the sound of the mighty Mississippi at night and our downtown location – we have the BEST location in Minneapolis, but I know we are moving onto bigger and better things… or at least that is what I keep telling myself!

3. Now we’re to the final – and probably most exciting – announcement of the day. Deep breaths and drum roll please… 

Kyle and I are moving to Chicago! Well, actually, to be more clear, I am moving to Chicago… Kyle and Mitchell have been there since the beginning of July.

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(Image Source)

Kyle was offered, and obviously accepted, a new position in the Chicago area that started a few weeks ago. It is an awesome opportunity for him and we have been wanting to get back to the Chicago area to be closer to family and friends so this felt like the perfect transition.

Whew! That was a lot, right?

I feel like I can finally breathe again. I have been wanting to tell you all the news for quite some time but obviously – for work-related reasons – I couldn’t spill the news until I was ready to tell my manager.

I could go on and on about all of the details and the stress – oh the stress! – that I’ve been under the past few weeks but I’ll let this news soak in and then update you on the specifics next week :)

Just a quick update on stress though before I go… I have been SO stressed over the past few weeks that my hair is starting to fall out. No joke. I paid a visit to my doctor earlier this week and she checked my hair for bald spots (I have none, thank goodness!) and prescribed me a shampoo that should help a little bit. Apparently it is quite common for women to lose hair during times of extreme stress! Unfortunately, pulling handfuls of hair out of my head while showering and blow-drying my hair isn’t helping my panic or stress levels. I’ve been eating a super clean diet ever since Monday full of eggs, walnuts, honey, avocados, lean fish/chicken, Greek yogurt and fruit and veggies as well as taking a daily women’s multi-vitamin and a hair/skin supplement so I hope that also helps me to not become completely bald by the time I actually get to Chicago.

Do you have any big news you would like to share? Do you live in/near Chicago? (Let’s hang out!) Most importantly, do you have any tips that will help me grow back my hair and prevent more from falling out?

My 4th of July Weekend!

Hi friends! It feels like I’ve been on vacation for the past week – lots of fun, friends, food and drinks – whew!

Although I am sad the long, 4th of July holiday weekend is coming to an end, I’m excited to share my weekend with you :)

The weekend of excess food and booze started Wednesday night with date night at Manny’s – I told you all about this on Friday! Lots of steak and potatoes and wine. I actually think I woke up with a meat hangover on Thursday, haha!

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I woke up super early on Thursday morning, took Mitchell out for a walk and then fit in a 4-mile run while watching the Minneapolis 4th of July half-marathon.

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The rest of the day was spent poolside with a beergarita in hand. Pure happiness :)

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Kyle and I had some friends over Thursday night (including Amanda!) to watch the fireworks from our balcony. We have the BEST view of fireworks from our condo – I love how the fireworks reflect off of the river! Our view is also super convenient for us – no need to deal with traffic or huge crowds on the 4th of July… except in our condo building, our lobby is seriously like a Manhattan club on the 4th!

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And I have realized that I have an oddball dog. Most dogs HATE fireworks – Mitchell LOVES them! He was out on the patio watching the show along with everyone else :)

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Friday was filled with LOTS of fitness. An early morning walk with Mitchell followed by my long run of the week (7 miles) and then a 60-minute yoga sculpt class in the afternoon! I was working from home on Friday so it was nice to be able to fit fitness into my schedule throughout the day.

On Friday night, Kyle and I went on our first pedal pub! We met up with some friends for margaritas and Mexican food first at Pancho Villa in Minneapolis – I ordered a traditional margarita on the rocks and a taco salad. Although I still miss the amazing Mexican food in Iowa, Pancho Villa is a decent substitute ;)

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Our group had the pedal pub for 2 hours so we rode around the Uptown and Eat Street neighborhoods of Minneapolis making stops at super classy joints like Liquor Lyle’s along the way. Pedaling wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be except when we were going up hills – those were killer!

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Our pedal pub tour conveniently ended right in front of Glam Doll Donuts – Kyle and I decided it was fate and partook in the eating of a donut. We made sure to share it though… and by sharing, I mean I ate 95% of it while Kyle wasn’t looking – oops! ;)

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Since the pedal pub ended early for a Friday night, a group of us stopped at Icehouse and then went to Bar Louie for drinks and some (pathetic – at least on my part!) dancing.

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Saturday began with another walk for Mitchell followed by a nap. I loved all of the naps I got in this weekend! Kyle’s dad visited for the night on Saturday so once he arrived, we walked over to Pracna to enjoy a beer in the heat and humidity and then went to dinner at Barrio. Barrio is a tequila bar in downtown Minneapolis that has awesome margaritas and sharing plates. We shared a variety of plates including chips and guacamole, tacos and quesadillas.

And because we hadn’t had enough to drink or eat since Wednesday, seriously this entire weekend has been full of food and drinks! – we took Kyle’s dad to Prohibition in the Foshay Tower after dinner! The bar is at the top of the Foshay Tower and overlooks the city of Minneapolis. It is a must-see if you ever find yourself a tourist in my city :)

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Since I enjoyed a margarita with dinner, I decided to stick with tequila and ordered another margarita at Prohibition. I love the lounge chairs and ambiance in the bar – I kicked my feet up and relaxed while sipping on my margarita!

I don’t have any big plans for today except for cleaning and getting back to healthy eating! Oh, and I’m going to fit in a yoga class and a nap this afternoon too ;)

After 5 days of unhealthy eats, I am looking forward to stocking my fridge with healthy snacking and meal options for the week.

Weekly Meal Plan

  • Sunday: Veggie-Loaded Pasta Salad
  • Monday: Veggie-Loaded Pasta Salad
  • Tuesday: BBQ Tofu Pizza <– Recipe comin’ your way tomorrow!
  • Wednesday: Vegetable and Cheese Quesadilla
  • Thursday: Happy hour with friends
  • Friday: Cheesy Pasta
  • Saturday: TBD

Weekly Fitness Plan

  • Sunday: Yoga Sculpt
  • Monday: Yoga Sculpt
  • Tuesday: 3-mile run
  • Wednesday: 6-mile run
  • Thursday: 3-mile run
  • Friday: Yoga Sculpt
  • Saturday: 11-mile run

How was your 4th of July weekend? Did you do anything fun or exciting? What’s on your meal plan this week?

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