Happy Friday, everyone! What activities do you have on your radar for the weekend? I’m looking forward to some downtime, planning a lunch menu for Christmas Day (we’re hosting Christmas for our families this year), and polishing up my Piloxing moves (I start teaching the beginning of January!!).

I’ve put together a quick list of some of my favorite things from around the web and beyond this week. If you’ve come across anything cool/fun/awesome recently, please share in the comments! :)

 

Favorite Workout: I love workouts that mix cardio with strength exercises. Not only do you get the best bang for your buck, it really makes the time fly by. I had my boot camp class do this workout a couple weeks ago, and I think we were all feeling the burn by the end of it. We did the circuit 3 times total, but you could also just do it 1-2 times depending on how much time you have. The best part is that the exercises are completely customizable, so you can switch out different moves to keep it fresh or if you don’t have any equipment available (we used medium to heavy weights and a bench with 1-2 risers).

Disclaimer: I’m not a certified personal trainer. Please talk to your doctor before starting any new fitness program.

 

Favorite Pizza Topping Combo: I just made this incredible Autumn Apple Pizza for dinner last night, and it was the bomb!! (Forgive the horrid photo lighting.) Tons of cheese, apples, bacon, oh my gosh, you should make this right now. The pizza dough is actually also a new favorite. It’s about half/half whole wheat and all-purpose flour, and I really liked the texture of it, plus it was easy to work with when rolling out. Score!

pizza

 

Best Ginger Beers: I only discovered ginger beer within the last couple of years, but it quickly become my favorite mixer and, well, all-around beverage of choice (it’s not alcoholic as-is). This is not even comparable to a ginger ale, and depending on the brand, the ginger can be incredibly potent. This article gives a great overview of 11 of the very best ginger beers. It highlights two of my favorites (Fever Tree and Barritt’s), and I’ve added a few new ones to my list of must-tries if I can get my hands on them!

 

Alternative Gift Wrapping Method: I am the world’s worst gift wrapper. I have no patience for cutting out the right size of paper, nor do I enjoy getting the folds just so. Luckily I have a very kind boyfriend who has handled most of my holiday wrapping this year (I even had him wrap his own gift. :) ) Given all that, I was quite intrigued when I saw this video demonstrating a new to me method of gift wrapping. I haven’t tried it yet, but definitely will be the next time I (actually) do my own wrapping!

 

Favorite Pasta Dish: I always love the recipes posted on Iowa Girl Eats, and this delicious looking Bacon Brussels Sprouts Spaghetti Carbonara is no exception. Plus I was instantly intrigued by the photo and mention of Rome in the post. I want to go back to Italy so badly! Definitely going to be making this soon.

 

Favorite Comfort Food: I’ve had this Hearty Beef Stew bookmarked for ages, but had never gotten around to making it. Luckily that was a mistake I rectified this week! I did a half batch, which provided enough stew for dinner and leftovers. The apartment smelled amazing while the stew was stewing in the slow cooker all day. So good!

 

Favorite Seasonal Salad: Omg I just love everything about the look of this Balsamic Butternut Kale Panzanella Salad. Kale is one of my favorite greens right now, and the panzanella takes me back to a salad I had while we were in Florence. Plus the sweetness of the squash and the flavor of the balsamic really bring this together. Must make, soon!

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Hope you’re having a lovely weekend!

I’ve been balancing mine out with fun activities, getting some things done, and a bit of relaxation ( = the perfect weekend combo).

The weekend will be ending on a high note tonight when we get to see John Oliver (former correspondent on The Daily Show with John Stewart, and current host of Last Week Tonight on HBO) performing in downtown Madison. I super lucked out with our tickets: somehow I ended up being on a random email list for the Madison comedy club that gave advance access to tickets for the show… and we ended up in the 5th row! Close enough to feel his spit, as Aaron pointed out. ;)

Below are some other food, things, and miscellaneous items I’ve been loving lately. And feel free to share anything you think should be added to the list in the comments, I love hearing what others are loving too. Enjoy!

 

Penguins: Well my penguin love itself isn’t anything new, but this GIF may be my new favorite penguin thing ever. They are so adorably festive!! If anyone is looking for gift ideas, I’ll happily accept a penguin. :)

penguins

 

Dumplings: One of my favorite lunch choices, especially during the cold months, is to stop in at Paul’s Pel’meni for a generous serving of warm dumplings. The mix with the works is the way to go: a mix of potato and beef dumplings, topped with cilantro, curry powder, butter, hot sauce, and a side of sour cream for dipping. So deliciously simple.

dumplings

 

 

Quick Oats: Oatmeal is another of my favorite cold-weather foods–there’s nothing better than a bowl of hot oats on a cold morning. I recently discovered this quick recipe for egg white oatmeal, which was an instant favorite. Sweetened with banana instead of sugar, and while the addition of egg whites might sound strange, they add an awesome fluffiness to the oatmeal that you just can’t reproduce any other way. I served mine topped with cinnamon, maple syrup, and bacon. :)

oats

 

 

Homemade Quiche: I made this tasty quiche–crust and all–for dinner earlier in the week. We filled it with kale, onion, and a few slices of chopped up bacon (if you’re sensing a theme of bacon loving in our household, you’re correct!), plus some melty sharp cheddar on top. Super tasty, and surprisingly not too difficult; the recipe I followed is here.

quiche

 

 

Sherlock: I already mentioned my new-found discovery of the BBC show Sherlock recently on the blog, but the show has quickly become a favorite. I’m trying to savor it a bit more than I normally do with favorite shows (I’m definitely of the type to sit down for a lazy afternoon on the couch and blaze through as many episodes as possible!) because each season only has 3 episodes–though they are an hour and a half each. I just finished the first season (they’re all on Netflix) while snuggled up in bed yesterday. Perfect dreary Saturday afternoon activity.

sherlock

 

Vivaldi’s Gloria: I sing in a community choir, and we had the first of our two performances for the semester yesterday afternoon at a local nursing home. We’re singing a number of seasonal pieces, but the star of the show will be our performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria. This is a beautiful rendition by a University of North Texas choir (I hope we sound this good!). Highly recommend giving it a listen.

 

Cozy Sweaters: My sweater collection had been a little lacking this fall/winter, so in the past couple weeks I ordered a handful of new sweaters from Express, Forever 21, and Nordstrom Rack. This cozy marled sweater ended up being my favorite of the lot. For F21 it’s surprisingly good quality, and it’s thick enough to keep even me warm (which is a feat, I assure you). I’m loving the marled look on clothing these days too.

sweater

 

Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Happy Friday, everyone! Any fun plans for the weekend? I’ll be traveling down to Illinois for the day tomorrow for a Piloxing instructor training. If you’ve never taken a class before, the workout is a fun mix of boxing and Pilates moves, all set to upbeat, energetic music. Guessing it’s going to be a long day, but I’m very excited!

Below are some of my favorite things from around the web and beyond this week. Enjoy!

 

Favorite Film: I saw March of the Penguins (the documentary narrated by Morgan Freeman chronicling the yearly journey of Emperor penguins to their nesting grounds) when it was first released in 2005, and just rewatched it again this week with Aaron. Penguins are my favorite! It’s so incredible how these creatures follow their instincts to return home every year to mate, give birth, and raise the next generation of adorable, fluffy penguins. Love!penguins

 

Favorite Buzzfeed Article: I may not have studied abroad in Spain, but I’m happy to say that we did manage to hit up some of the best spots/activities. 7, 12, and 16 for the win. How clear is it that I love food (and sleep)!?

 

Favorite Nut Butter: This oatmeal cookie flavored nut butter looks incredible, and I love that it actually has the appearance of cookie dough with the chunks of dried fruit and nuts. I got a food processor for Christmas last year, and nut butters have been my favorite use for it so far. This one is going on my list of to-make-next!

 

Favorite Workout: Wanting to plop down on the couch and zone out with some reality TV after a tough day at work can be hard to balance with knowing you need to get a quick workout in. That’s why this Core Couch Workout looks like the perfect compromise! Definitely giving this a try next time I want to chill in front of the TV with an episode of Chopped.

 

Favorite Tune: I’ve been listening to Ariana Grande’s Break Free (feat Zedd) nonstop lately. Love the upbeat sound, and just love Zedd, period. Adding this to my workout playlist!

 

Favorite Life Hack: These pre-made eggs are a brilliant idea. I usually have time in the morning to whip up something good for breakfast, but this would also be a great addition to my packed lunch rotation.

 

Favorite Sweet: I made these peppermint patties to give out as Christmas gifts to family last year, and they were a huge hit. I’ve had my eye on the recipe again to make for gifts again… or maybe just to snack on myself. ;)

As the Italians say… :)

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I’ve been MIA from the blogging sphere for the past couple weeks while touring through a small bit of Europe: Barcelona, Spain -> Florence, Italy -> Rome. The trip was incredible; I ate a ton of (insanely delicious) food, drank all the vino, and learned so much about the incredible places we visited! Though I am glad to be back home (there’s nothing quite like sleeping in your own cozy bed again!), I do already miss the vibrancy of the old cities we had the fortune to visit.

More photos and a recap of our city visits to come, but for now a few of my recent favorites from around the web and beyond:

  • These HTML beer glasses from Uncommon Goods. I got a set for my boyfriend for his birthday a few months ago, and they make me smile every time I use them. Plus, beer. #nerdalert
  • As I was rounding up the link for the beer glasses, I came across this adorable penguin pillow (penguins are my favorite animal). Want.
  • These candied pecans from Ali’s blog Gimme Some Oven look incredible. I had candied pecans in an autumn pear wrap recently, and I’ve been craving more ever since!
  • Sangria was the drink of choice while we were in Spain, and when I saw this honey cinnamon apple cider version after getting back home, I knew I had to try it. Whipped up a pitcher of it yesterday and polished it off with a girlfriend last night. So. Good.
  • This burrata from Trader Joe’s. Burrata is a mozzarella cheese filled with cream, which we ate like crack while we were in Florence. Pile it on a baguette slice, drizzle in olive oil, and sprinkle with salt (the wine in the background is of course a key element as well!). This was the number one item on my shopping list for my first post-vacation TJ’s run.
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  • Keeping with the cheese theme, my European adventure has inspired some food-related adventures I’d like to try. One of them is to make my own mozzarella. I’ve made ricotta before at home, and this looks like a pretty similar process. Also on my agenda are homemade noodles!
  • Avocado toast. Loving avocados in anything/everything lately, and this has been one of my favorite ways to eat them lately (usually as an easy breakfast). Avocados are sliced, drizzled in olive oil, and sprinkled with salt. Divine!
    avocadotoast

Hope you had a wonderful weekend!