Jul
02

OMG. Life’s been crazy lately. I mean really insane. With the #SummerSWEATseries happening, recipe development, other amazing projects plus travel, I haven’t had the chance to sit down and really write to you about what’s been going on in my life.

So let’s step back a few months and chat about all the deliciousness, good things, bad junk and everything in between. But first go grab your morning cup of coffee and then we can sit down for a chat.

A few months ago, I attended a conference in Chicago with some bloggers. We rented a house and all got together and chatted about all things blogging. I took away so many beneficial things for AK; it always helps to get outside perspective from others in your industry. Plus, I loved meeting other bloggers that I’ve always noticed online but never had the chance to meet in person.

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Here’s a picture of me and my good friend Rachel from Rachel Cooks. She’s lovely in every way and I’m so happy I got to know her through blogging. And in even more exciting new, I’ll be going on another blogger retreat next weekend (Rachel is hosting!). I’m uber excited!

Hmmm what else?

I got the results of my MRI back. If you remember a few months ago, I mentioned that I had a pretty severe neck/back injury that was limiting my physical exercise. Lately it’s gotten quite better due to acupuncture and a new cervical pillow I purchased off Amazon. YAY.

The brain and cervical MRI showed a muscle spasm and that was about it. I’m so thankful that it doesn’t appear to be anything super serious, but it still doesn’t solve the issue. However I am feeling MUCH better. The pain comes and goes and some days are better than others. I’ve been able to exercise daily, including getting back into strength training. For now I’m staying away from yoga since many of the repetitive exercises seemed to aggravate the pain. I will also be doing a physical therapy plan and then evaluate where I’m at. Currently I still have a slight hand tremor that’s worse after exercise but otherwise absent most of the day.

I’m also being mindful of what I eat due to a possible inflammation response in my body (via blood tests). I’ve been pretty good for the most part. Most of all, I’m trying to be good to myself and my body, which includes taking days off and indulging in Buffalo Wild Wings with Tony. Ha!

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Here’s another highlight from the past few months: Hanging out with Sarah from Broma Bakery. Sarah and I ‘met’ over the internet a few years ago. I stumbled upon her blog and immediately noticed her talent for baking doughnuts, cookies and having a unique style.

Earlier this year, Sarah told me that she started full-time blogging and had quite a few questions as to how I got started, etc. FYI: It may not seem like a ‘job’ to most people, but running a website full-time is a HUGE undertaking. It takes someone who understands marketing, communications, negotiating, content creation, recipe development, social media and more. You have to do it constantly, be resilient and talented. So I applaud Sarah for taking on Broma full time.

What I noticed immediately with Sarah, is that she has an incredible talent for photography, something that I feel like I’m not the best at. I asked Sarah to come to Chicago to do a few photoshoots with me and in exchange I’d teach her a few things about the technical side of blogging. What we both didn’t realize is that we’d become such good friends and hit it off like we’d known each other for years. Seriously it was redic.

I mean, just check her out with Milly; they became besties after one day.

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Of course, we weren’t just going to talk about blogging the entire time she was in Chicago. We were on a mission to eat and EAT WELL. Early one morning we stood in line for the Doughnut Vault for a good 45 minutes. While their doughnuts were good, they definitely weren’t our absolute favorites.

BTW If you live in Chicago, I’d love to hear your doughnut recommendations!

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Once morning after a super sweaty hot yoga session at Corepower, we decided to dive into pancakes. These chocolate chip ones are from Wildberry pancakes and are probably the best in the city.

FYI: You must know that if you go there on a weekend, you are bound to wait at least an hour. Sarah and I waited for an hour and a half. #worthit #carblovers

I can’t wait for Sarah to come back again. We’ve already got a trip planned in August. YAY!

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My grandma and grandpa at their wedding in 1954.

Now onto some not so great news…

A few weeks ago, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. It was heartbreaking for my family, particularly for my Grandma. They were married for over 60 years and led a beautiful life together which included the birth of seven children. My Grandpa was a sweet man with the corniest jokes, and we all loved him for it. He was someone who never judged you but rather gave advice based on life experience. He was honest, loving and kind.

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My Grandpa and my Mom at her graduation.

We will miss him dearly but always love him and hold onto the memories we have.

If you’d like to read more about my Grandpa, you can check out my recipe for his favorite better-for-you banana muffins or read about their sweet love story.

Love is beautiful and he had a wonderful life.

In other news, I’ve been trying harder to plan out my meals so that I’m prepped for the week. The recipe above is Lee’s Healthy Kung Pao Chicken. It’s freaking delicious; I made it three times in two weeks.

Obsessed.

I’ve also been really into making grain-free recipes, especially ones with coconut flour. I love the taste, texture and the fact that it’s FILLING because of the healthy fats, fiber and protein. Just say yes to healthy fats! I remember when I used to be so afraid that fat would make me fat. It’s not the case at all. I would know because I eat a Kind Bar daily along with at least two to four tablespoons of nut butter. Haha.

The pancakes above are my most recent coconut flour pancake recipe with a luscious blueberry syrup.

Alright, I haven’t posted this brownie recipe yet but can I just tell you that it blew my mind when I made it? OMG LIKE SO GOOD. AND THE SEA SALT? DEAD.

Yes, caps were necessary there. Thank you.

I will be posting them SOON.

Loved making this Taco southwest salad with so many good flavors. I ate it for a few days and added some delicious turkey taco meat too. It’s basically everything you need this Summer. And it’s gluten free. CHOMP CHOMP.

This recipe is coming sooonnnnnn! It’s not grain-free but it is a burger. And burgers = delicious. Yes they are a healthier version… what did you expect?

BTW DILL PICKLES FTW. I can’t even talk to people who like bread and butter ones. Jk… but really?

Have I mentioned that I have become obsessed with tennis? It may be the only sport that I’m somewhat decent at so I figure I might as well try my best. I made Tony go buy rackets so we could play at his Summer apartment in Alabama.

Just call me Serena. Or Venus. Or John McEnroe.

My favorite snacks lately include these deliciously crunchy freeze dried strawberries. I want to live in the bag forever and ever.

Wow I’m super dramatic today. (Just in case you couldn’t tell.) But really, they’re only 100 calories for the ENTIRE BAG. It just satisfies me knowing I can polish off the entire thing. Am I the only one?

Next snacking obsession? Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter. I started buying the little packets for when I go to Tony’s baseball games and don’t want to eat whatever they are selling in the concessions. I rip open one of these and eat it right out of the packet, no spoon required!

The little packets actually do satisfy me for a couple of hours. I will avoid those hot dogs at all costs. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

I’d love to know: What’s your favorite nut butter lately?

My last favorite snack: Skinny margarita.

Jokes.

I did have this delicious margarita at a little Mexican restaurant called the Little Donkey in Birmingham, Alabama. I always order a fresh margarita on the rocks with a small amount of agave. So basically it’s tequila, fresh lime juice, triple sec and a small amount of agave. Delicious and not made with weird stuff.

I’ve been in Alabama for the past week spending time with Tony and working on a project. Being out of my typical zone allows me to focus and get lots of work done without any distractions (except him begging me to watch movies).

 

Last week Tony had some time off baseball so he came home to Chicago for a few days. We walked around the city, checked out restaurants, saw a show at Second City and slept in. It was wonderful.

If you haven’t been to Chicago in the Summer, you most definitely should get your ass here pronto. It’s an absolutely gorgeous city on the water… and the food is THE BEST.

LET ME SHOW YOU.

Here’s a pizza we enjoyed at Eataly (in Chicago). It had fresh mozz, basil, spicy salami and olive oil. Absolutely incredible!

The next pizza we tried was from Homeslice. If it’s an option, I always get pineapple on my pizza!

And that’s what I’ve been up to so far this Summer.

I’m planning on taking some time off from the blog in July, but we’ll see if that happens. I don’t have any crazy travel coming up, other than a short trip to Michigan for a blogger retreat. For once, I may be at my apartment for more than two weeks. I’ll be back with part two of the Life Lately summer edition later in the season.

And thanks for reading AK; I appreciate you all so much and love sharing my crazy adventures with you! xoxo.

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