A Safe Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen

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You can cook all of the healthy food your heart desires, but if you do not use safe cooking practices in the kitchen, you will still end up getting sick! It is so important to follow guidelines regarding how long to keep leftovers, at what temperatures to store foods, + what temperatures to cook foods!

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Your Guide to Safe Storage

Follow these guidelines regarding how long fresh foods can be safely stored in the refrigerator + the freezer!

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Safe Storage for Lovely Leftovers!

Saving some delicious leftovers for another day?  Here is a guide of how long they can be safely stored in the refrigerator.

In order to prevent bacterial growth, it is essential that foods are cooled rapidly to a safe refrigerator temperature of 40°F or below. The “Danger Zone,” in which bacteria multiply rapidly is between 40°F + 140°F. This is why cooling quickly to below 40°F is important for food safety. If you need to cool large amounts of food, such as a pot of soup, divide the soup into shallow containers to decrease cooling time. Other large leftovers such as whole roasts, hams, turkey, or chicken breasts can be cut into smaller pieces to facilitate more rapid cooling. Keep in mind that leftovers must be cooled + refrigerated to a safe temperature within 2 hours of cooking! Also, remember to always seal + wrap leftovers in airtight containers to help retain moisture + keep bacteria out.

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** When in doubt, throw it out!

Always Check for Safe Internal Temperatures

In order to ensure foods are cooked to safe temperatures, the internal temperature of the food needs to be taken. Relying on sight, smell, or taste to determine if food is safe to eat can be quite risky.  For the most accurate reading, a thermometer should be used on the thickest part of the food, not touching bone or fat. Compare food temperatures to the safe internal cooking temperatures listed below. Keep in mind that some foods, such as beef, veal, lamb, pork + raw ham, require a resting time of three minutes post cooking to ensure safety for eating.

*Always clean thermometers with hot soapy water after each use!

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Safe Thawing of Frozen Foods

Just take the meat out of the freezer + set it on the counter until it is thawed + ready to be cooked, right? Wrong. Thawing meat is a more delicate process.  Foods cannot spend too long in the “Danger Zone” of 140-40°F, the temperature in which bacteria can rapidly multiply, or they will be deemed unsafe for eating.

1. Refrigerator thawing: Thawing frozen foods in the refrigerator is a safe, but lengthy process.  Because this thawing takes such a long period of time, be sure to plan ahead so foods are ready when needed. If frozen, a pound of ground meat or boneless chicken breast may require a full day to thaw. Foods thawed in the refrigerator could be frozen again without cooking if plans change + the food is not cooked.

2. Cold water thawing: This is a faster process than refrigerator thawing. It is important the item is contained within a leak proof package or plastic bag. This is to prevent bacteria from the air getting into the food + to avoid meat soaking up water + losing quality. The item should be submerged in cold tap water + the water needs to be changed every 30 minutes. Depending on the amount of meat, this could take anywhere from less than an hour to 3 or more hours.  Foods thawed using this method need to be cooked before refrozen.

3. Microwave thawing: Microwave thawing should be done right before the food item is cooked.  The microwaving process causes some parts of the meat to get hotter than others; therefore some parts of the meat may actually start to cook in the microwave thawing process. Partially cooked meat is at a dangerous place for bacterial growth, so immediate cooking is recommended in order to kill potential bacterial growth.

** DO NOT thaw foods using hot water, or by leaving them out in the open. This would subject the food to the danger zone optimal bacterial growth temperatures for too long, deeming the foods unsafe to eat. 

For more information, please feel free to visit:

 

Mama + Daddy Visit Chicago

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Happy Labor Day, Friend! 🙂

I hope you had an amazing weekend. I definitely did – my parents came to visit me. They were here this time last year helping me move into my old apartment in Lakeview but this year was an actual visit. They flew in early Saturday morning – I hopped on the Orange Line to Midway to go get them, which leads to my Top 6 fun things that happened while they were here:

1. Breakfast at Bakin’ + Eggs. I fool you not, y’all. I had never been here before Saturday but oh baby did they have some delicious buttermilk pancakes. If you are ever in that area, I highly recommend them. Look at ’em [I am not drooling, you are drooling]:

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2. Watched the Penn State game. I am not sure if you would call that one a game or a massacre but in any case, PSU got their first win of the season as I hoped they would: 52-0. I have been EAGERLY anticipating this next match up against Pitt – me vs. my 2 brothers [Pitt alum / Pitt student]. I am too excited + hoping for redemption next weekend. Time will tell.

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3. Got rid of my couch from my Lakeview apartment. What a fiasco this whole thing was, y’all. Long story short, I found a better apartment that catered to my needs at the time in March so I had a subtenant living in my Lakeview apartment until my lease ended at the end of August. I left my couch, chair, + a few dishes for my former roommate + subtenant. My dad wanted me to keep the chair but I was told I could sell the couch so I posted ads on Craigslist, Facebook groups, etc + got several interested buyers but they all either A.) backed out or B.) were unresponsive so I had to figure out a way to get rid of this overstuffed love seat out of this apartment. Fast. All I gotta say is thank God for my Dad because otherwise, I would have had to pay to have it removed. He + I went over on Saturday afternoon to put in the back alley to be picked up. While we were moving it, the tenant on the first floor saw us moving it + asked if she could have it + offered to give me money for it. I told her I was absolutely not taking any money but she could have it. We helped her move it in + wished her well. I am just so glad someone took it.

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4. Grilled out on the roof. This is so lame but I LOVE grilling out. It is my favorite thing to do. We had chicken, steaks, roasted potatoes, grilled veggies, + this view. It is the little things you learn to appreciate.

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5. Went to D4 [again] / walked along the Riverwalk. I told y’all last week I was going to be back at D4 back to back weekends + I am not mad about it. That is my favorite place here. I also put myself on their email list + had a $10 gift card sent to me, holla!! Who wants to go with me next? 😉 It was a beautiful night so Mom, Dad, + I walked home along the river walk which was just bliss. Also, how cute are my Mom + Dad? I just love them.

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6. Took an adventure to Wildberry / Millenium Park. Wildberry is my FAVE breakfast place in Chicago – the line is always crazy long but it is so worth it. I got the French toast this time + it was splendid.

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As usual, I do not know how the weekends fly by so fast but I am so happy my parents were here. I will see them again in three days too – headed to Pittsburgh on Thursday night, then heading up to State College on Friday for a H2PSU weekend. I cannot wait to be back. Enjoy the rest of your Monday you guys! ❤

 

Weekend Recap // Vegan Protein Chocolate Chip + Cinnamon Chip Cookie Dough Bites

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Happy Monday Everyone! This weekend sure flew by + as promised, I wanted to fill y’all in on the fun festivities from this weekend. Each weekend, I want to have a Top 5 list of things from the weekends – I had a top 6 from this weekend. My best friend from high school, Rachel, came to visit for the second time + we had a blast. Here are the Top 6:

1.) Playing catch up over mixies [ raspberry vodka + cranberry apple juice + a splash of Ginger ale – try it, you will thank me later 🙂 ]

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2.)  8 am Yoga in Millenium Park – a true highlight of my summer. We came back to my apartment + I made French Toast Protein Pancakes for us

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3.) The Tattoo Trip (EEEEP – I love love love it so much).

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4.) Went to Navy Pier. had lunch at Margaritaville, + did the Classic Lake Boat Tour – learned some new facts about the city [like somehow the Aon building with 88 floors is taller than the John Hancock with 95 floors – who knew?!]

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5.) Ate at D4 Irish Cafe

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6.) Poolside Chillin + VMAs.

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Now as a Monday treat, here is the recipe for the Vegan Protein Chocolate Chip + Cinnamon Chip Cookie Dough Bites:

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 ½ tbsp sunflower seed butter
  • 1 packet P96 Vanilla protein powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • ¾ cup soy milk
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips (however, this time, I split it 50/50 – 1/8 of dark chocolate chips + 1/8 of cinnamon chips)
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INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the sunflower seed butter, protein powder, coconut flour + soy milk until well combined. You want to make sure the batter has reached a cookie-dough-like consistency. **For added sweetness: you could start with ½ cup + add a liquid sweetener like honey or maple syrup, starting with 2 tbsp, then adding more soy milk if needed
  2. Stir in the chocolate chips + cinnamon chips, then roll the cookie dough into balls.
  3. At this point you have two options: 1.) you could store the high-raw vegan protein cookie dough bites in the refrigerator + eat them willy-nilly. 2.) you could microwave the individual bites for 30 seconds – 1 minute, until the chocolate is melted + the cookie dough has become more cooked cookie-like. I prefer the first option but I know others who would prefer the second option.
  4. Enjoy!! 🙂

Happy 70th Birthday Superman / #10

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Tomorrow will mark exactly 3 months to the date since Daddy called me bright + early on a Saturday morning telling me the biggest influence on my life had gone to be with the Lord. Today, Uncle Terry would have turned 70. All I have to say is the Big Man better be taking special care of him up there + making sure he gets his new pair of shoes today – I have all of the faith in the world that He is. Buying a new pair of shoes on his birthday was always his annual tradition. If you do not know me or my family, breaking traditions does not happen in our family.

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Our first picture together in September ’93

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Our final picture together in December ’16

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Today, I followed through a huge decision. It may not seem like a big deal to any of you but it definitely is to me because I never thought I would have enough courage to ever do it… I got a tattoo. I know what you are probably thinking – “cool Shan… why do you feel the need to share about this?” Well, because I am very much like my parents + I was not much of a tattoo girl. Do not get me wrong, I do not judge anyone for having them… hell, I am right there with ya now haha… I 100% support anyone who has them because surely, there is meaning behind it. There is meaning behind everything. The night before I left for college, I created a bucket list for myself [+ only for myself to see] – #10 is “to get a small but meaningful tattoo (sorry Mom & Dad).” This item was on the shaky side because I was unsure if I would ever be able to find something meaningful enough to permanently ink on my body. But I did.

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Erik at Great Lakes Tattoo did such an awesome job – I absolutely love it.

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The Back Story

Uncle Ter was the one no one ever had to be concerned about – he was the healthiest member of the Brady family + took good care of not only himself, but all of us… his whole life. As I said in my Father’s Day post about my Daddy, Uncle Terry was the heart of this family + he constantly put everyone in front of him. He attended my sporting events, birthday parties, milestone events within my church + education – I chose him to be my Confirmation sponsor, + he was at my high school graduation… he was always there. We always spent Halloween + Christmas Eve with him + Aunt Sandy’s house. Thenceforward, August 11, 2015 arrived + it will forever be a dark day for me – the day he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My whole entire world flipped upside down. This was the biggest emotional break I ever experienced – I highly considered not going back to Penn State for my final year, I temporarily lost faith in my religion, + I desperately wanted to shut myself out from the rest of the world. I could not understand why something so terrible could happen to someone so selfless + healthy. What did this mean for the rest of us? When I saw him the day after his diagnosis, tears were shed but he told me not to worry, that he trusted in the Lord to help him + all of us through this, + that he was not going down without a fight. For the 21 months that followed, I watched him fight like hell to live each day to the fullest + make the best of everything going on. He held on much longer than any of us [including his doctors] knew was possible… then he went peacefully with his unfailing faith. It was his unfailing faith that restored my own faith.

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Uncle Ter giving me quality advice on my High School Graduation Night – June 2012

Why the Doves?

Doves symbolize optimism with their spirituality. Beyond their sorrowful song is a message of life, hope, renewal, + peace. Following Uncle Terry’s funeral mass, we released a total of 12 doves from Mt. Washington + watched them circle around Pittsburgh before flying free. Jack + Aunt Sandy released the first one representing Uncle Terry. We proceeded to release the 11 remaining doves that represented each remaining family member in hopes of following in his footsteps one day. I chose to get one dove following the other with the lead dove representing Uncle Terry + the following dove representing me following his lead + continue to live a life filled with everlasting happiness + unconditional love with the ones who matter to me most, just as he did.

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Aunt Sandy + Little Jack releasing the first dove representing Uncle Terry – May 2017

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Releasing the other 11 doves – May 2017

Why on the Right Shoulder/Upper Back?

Uncle Terry was [+ always will be] my Godfather + my Confirmation sponsor. For those of you who do not know, the role of a Confirmation sponsor is to continue to help the candidate along the road of Christian life, to safeguard + develop the grace given at Baptism + now sealed with the Holy Spirit. When I received my Confirmation, he placed his right hand on my right shoulder. I purposely wanted the doves in the very spot he placed his hand as he guided me through the sacrament.

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My Baptism – December ’93

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My Confirmation – April ’09

I love + miss you more as each precious day passes by. You always had my back when you were here + now I know you will always have my back forever. Happy Birthday to you in heaven, Superman! xoxo

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A Blast in the ‘Burgh

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Sup Fraans?! Happy Monday – I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I know I certainly enjoyed being back in my home city for only about 48 hours. This weekend also kicked off my “Fall Full of Fun” – when your only transportation is by airline + train, ya quickly learn to plan ahead. Call me crazy but my entire Fall is planned out + I have something fun to look forward to literally every weekend between now + the end of 2017 + I am so excited to share all of it with you guys. I will be making a post reflecting each weekend every week. First things first, here are my top 5 favorite things that occurred this weekend:

1.) I rented a car. This weekend, I rented a car for the first time without even knowing if I could or not. I will be 24 in less than a month but in case you were wondering, you have the ability to rent a car under the age of 25… if you ever need to rent a car, I highly recommend making a reservation through Hertz – they have a very friendly staff and helped this rookie out. They are partnered with Southwest Airlines and since I now have a credit card with Southwest (holy adulting, y’all…) + AAA membership, they gave me a pretty large discount. I got to sport around in a 2017 Hyundai Elantra – pretty nice, eh?

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2.) I was reunited with PNC Park + my childhood budz. Every summer, I try to organize a group Pirate game with all of the guys I grew up with. I was not sure if I would be able to make it happen this year since I live in Chicago now but you know what? You find ways to make the things that matter to you most happen, especially traditions. It was SO nice to not only be back in PNC Park… + not Wrigley for once 😉 but also seeing all of my South Point Court pals + a few others. Our Buccos almost had ‘em.

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3.) Attended Hannah Banana’s shower. This was my reason for going to Pittsburgh this weekend. I could not make it to her friend shower in July + initially, I was not going to be able to make the wedding either so I absolutely needed to find a way to make this work. Let me give you just a tid bit about this sweet girl – she is one of the most genuine, faithful, kindhearted individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting + I could not be happier she is marrying the love of her life/my childhood friend. As an added bonus, I found a way around my work schedule + I am now able to make their wedding + I cannot wait to witness them join together in holy matrimony in just under 4 weeks.

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4.) Talked with Mom + Dad. I barely saw my parents this weekend – it was one of those short-lived weekends with a jam-packed schedule but yet, I still managed to keep a window open for them because they are my best friends + I just love talking to them about random stuff. After moving away, I have learned to appreciate my parents + not take something as little as “a talk” for granted. I was already talking to my dad on the phone + texting my mom in the airport because I miss them THAT much. Thank goodness they will be in Chicago for Labor Day weekend.

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5.) Attended “Little Italy” + Jam on Walnut with the “High School Honey” + my co-Ridger. I never got to enjoy fun Pittsburgh festivals like Jam on Walnut because I was never in town for them. Thankfully this year, that was not the case. Anthony currently lives in Philadelphia (oh, you shrieked too? I know that place is awful – he is going to be the greatest doctor though so it’s fine) but he is in Pittsburgh for a rotation; I had not seen him since the end of May. Nikkers is holding down the fort until we all come back – she is living the good Pittsburgh life on Mt. Washington and I had not seen her since she came to visit me in Chicago for the river dye in March. Let that sink in. Why did I move to Chicago again…? Ugh. Having the relationships I have with both of them has built me into a much stronger + better person – Saturday night was a reminder of how lucky I am to have both of them in my life for such an extensive period of time.

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What a fabulous weekend, indeed. I will be back in town in three weeks for a full week for H2PSU+ Hannah/Tyler’s wedding. I can hardly wait. Until then, Pittsburgh xoxo

Happy First Anniversary, Chicago!

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One year ago to the date, I made my big girl move halfway across the country to Chicago, Illinois. Three addresses and three jobs later, I am somehow still standing on both feet. Since I was 9 years old, I dreamed of moving to Chicago, and that dream became a reality exactly 3 months after I graduated from college.

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I had my fair share of growing pains, I will tell you that much. Everyone says your first year is the toughest but damn, the first month alone was the most I struggled in my first 23 years of living but thank goodness I was living with my gracious family in the Loop. I originally came out here for a dream job involving my two passions: children and nutrition. I had a job lined up in pediatric nutrition sales with a pharmaceutical company – a literal dream come true (or so I thought). Let’s just say I came in contact with a very mean and hurtful person. The Wicked Witch of the Midwest is in fact a real life person, ladies and gentlemen, and I came to the conclusion that I would not succeed in a job environment like that. My commute was an hour and a half long each way – that was not working for me. None of it seemed worth it. I was being set up for failure. Thank goodness I was contacted by another company and was freed from a toxic environment.

After paying a Grand and a half (yes, you read it right, grand – with a capital“G”) for my first month’s rent, move in fee, application fee, and another grand for miscellaneous items such as a bed frame, utility bills (fun exercise: if you want your hand at seeing how reliant you are on electricity and wifi, try living without it for a few days), a CTA card, and some cookware – I was left with about $50/week to live on until my first real paycheck in a exactly one month. Just to clarify, this was 2016 we were all living in – not 1950. Game on.

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Happy to say that one year later, I am still alive but I am barely breathing… just kidding. I have never been better. So much has been gained and lost, I have changed and grew into a stronger person I never thought I could ever be. The Real World is a challenge and though I will continue to learn, here are 12 things I have learned in the last 12 months in order to survive as a struggling soon-to-be 24 year old:

1. First of all, grocery shop once a week like it is your ritual with a list of only what you need, and STICK TO THE LIST. Whole Foods and Mariano’s are the Chicago go-to’s, and you can shop there if you really play your cards right – but they pretty much ask for your first born in return for a box of cereal so that is my last resort. I have found my new home at Trader Joe’s to get the staples without having to go bankrupt. I get things I can make lots of meals out of like pasta, frozen vegetables (if you know me at all I’m sure that one’s a given), eggs, and rice. You are not going to live like royalty, but hey at least it’s food.

2. Utilize reusable bags. Illinois, I love you but I hate you for making us pay for bags at all of the stores now. $0.07 per bag doesn’t sound like much but it adds up. It is saving the Earth so it is hard to be upset but any time I forget my bags, I kick myself because my $0.21 could be going towards rent or student loans.

3. Make your food last. By this, I mean don’t just eat out of boredom. I had no idea how much food I went through just eating out of boredom in college. Do not do that, you are so much better than that. If you don’t make it all the way to the end of the week with the food you bought, get used to Google searching.

4. Speaking of food, I recently discovered my love affair with slow cookers. Yes – I said slow cookers, those giant appliances our mothers tried sending us to college with insisting they will save us time and money, but I found myself brushing the dust off of when I came to Chicago. I am telling you guys, slow cookers are a time saver, money saver… lifesaver. Throw a few meat cubes and veggies in before you leave for work, and by the time you get home you have lunch and dinner for the next three days. So easy a guy, or not-so-domestic girls like myself, can do it.

5. Give me all of the coupons and store loyalty cards please. If this makes me a dork, then so be it. It all adds up people, trust me. I think of it like the clubs at the orientation fair the first week of freshman year – sign up for all of them. No shame.

6. Fitness memberships: No you actually do not need an Equinox membership or a FlyWheel package right off the bat. Nothing against either one of these places, they are great gyms but at this point, it is between that or food. What would you choose? Buy a cheap set of hand weights and Google some home workouts or better yet check out my Workout Wednesday section for great at-home workouts from the CHAARG Fit Plans, BBG, and marathon training workouts. Also, get used to running 🙂 You can make anything work for a few months. There are also an insane number of free fitness/yoga classes in Chicago!! Just Google free fitness classes in Chicago [or wherever you are] and try to contain your excitement.

7. Do the math on your CTA card. Do the math on everything, actually. Does it make more sense to get a monthly unlimited or pay as you go?

8. Another note on travel – you got a pair of legs, use them. Get used to walking. Everywhere. I hit my 10,000 step daily goal on Fitbit every damn day. I have Chicago to thank for putting me in the greatest shape of my life.

9. Have good friends. Thankfully for me, Chicago is filled with a lot of nice people, including a lot of young people and I clicked with pretty much everyone I have met here. Having good friends and/or a boyfriend/girlfriend who are willing to go explore the city makes it all the more exciting.

10. Piggybacking off of that, finding fun Chicago events to go to. I see Facebook events for different things going on every weekend that I would not get to experience anywhere else. Chicago is always throwing down.

11. Never stay in a place you are not happy in. I would classify myself as an expert in finding subleases: I had 3 Chicago addresses in one year. I also had 3 jobs in one year. Definitely not my proudest fact about myself but hey, I have seen people force themselves to stay in toxic environments and I never understand why. You only get one life to live – I choose to live my life happy and not miserable – even if it means taking time to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life.

12. And finally, if all else fails, just call Dad or Mom. Not a day goes by where I don’t talk to them or miss them. I still get emotional every time I say goodbye to them – something I will probably never grow out of. I am so grateful for them every day.

Moral of the story? It was not easy, it was anything and everything but easy, but it CAN be done. There is definitively nothing more exhilarating than becoming a Chicagooo? ..Chicagonian? …Chicagoin? ….whatever you call us…. during your early 20’s. I am looking forward to seeing what new lessons Year 2 will bring for me learn.

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Vacation Recap + Looking Forward to Fall

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Happy Saturday Friends! I know I have not posted on here in a couple weeks but I will be back to posting regularly on Monday :] Today’s post reflects my family vacation last week and why I decided to unplug and not post a single thing this week.

Last week, my family vacationed to Sea Isle City, NJ with my aunt, uncle, and cousin – I have been going there for the last 23 years with them and we had another amazing trip with phenomenal weather all week.

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The only thing I do not like about our vacation is eating at restaurants every single night – I know, I sound like a brat saying that and you are probably thinking, “come on Shan, you’re blessed” …I know, I truly am. My only rebuttal to that statement is being on my own, I love to cook now. My body freaked out because it is so used to home-cooked whole food – I had way too many French fries, folks. I am weird about going to restaurants because I like knowing exactly what I am eating by cooking it myself as opposed to someone else. Majority rules though, folks. Thankfully this year, I had my Plexus Fab 4 to keep my gut in line with all of that junk. Daddy and I went to the Farmer’s Market on Tuesday and New Jersey peaches were FABULOUS this year, and everything else for that matter.

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We are never disappointed. My baby brother Pat brought his girlfriend this year and I really got to know her a lot better and learn what an amazing person she is. Then, I got to bond with my cousin, Julia. We do not see each other that often but she is such a wonderful person to talk to and I am so happy we had the talks we did.

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This week, I unplugged and not posted on my Instagram or my website. I took the week to get back to reality and better my blog – I cannot wait to share recipes and workouts with all of you. I also took the time to plan out the rest of my fall. I am too excited because I have every weekend planned out and there is so much to look forward to – my Pirates, Steelers, Penguins, and Nittany Lions are all here in Chicago this year and I am AMPED for those weekends you guys. I am also visiting my best friend from high school in DC, my best friend from college in Baltimore, and my former best friend from Chicago in NYC.

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Here’s to a fun weekend with my mom’s cousins and Chicago friends. Have an amazing weekend, everyone!! :]