October Pumpkin Bread

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Raise your hand if you are excited that fall is officially in full swing! I am looking forward to pumpkin treats, cooler weather, + dusting off my favorite boots. The weather has been crazy the last couple weeks. Here in Chicago, it was in the 90s for about a week + a half. I was at the Steelers vs Bears game almost two weeks ago + it was 93. Oooof! That was a rough day to be a Steeler fan, that’s for sure.

Anyway, while we wait for those magnificent red + orange leaves, I am satisfying my early pumpkin cravings with this pumpkin bread. It is made with pumpkin purée + spices, of course, plus honey, whole wheat flour, + extra virgin olive oil. Combine all of those in one bowl + you will get some seriously amazing pumpkin bread.

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INGREDIENTS

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin purée [I got mine from Trader Joe’s]
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin spice blend (½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, + ¼ teaspoon allspice or cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¾ cup regular whole wheat flour
  • Totally optional: ½ cup mix-in [I used cinnamon + pumpkin chips]
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350° + grease a 9×5-inch bread pan
  2. In a large bowl, beat the oil + honey together together with a whisk. Add the eggs + whisk until blended.
  3. Add the pumpkin purée, milk, pumpkin spice blend, baking soda, vanilla, + salt. Whisk to blend. Lastly, switch to a big spoon + stir in the flour, just until combined. Some lumps are okay! If you are adding any additional mix-ins, gently fold them in now.
  4. Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan + sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. If you would like a pretty swirled effect, run the tip of a knife across the batter in a zig-zag pattern.
  5. Bake for 55 – 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing. Enjoy! 🙂

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I just baked a loaf for the Penn State vs. Northwestern tailgate with a bunch of my friends tomorrow. Have an amazing weekend, loves! 🙂

 

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! ❤

 

Workout Wednesday: WE ARE… Back!

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Happy Workout Wednesday, Friend!! 🙂

We are midway through this week + only two days away from Labor Day weekend / the return of College Football. You better believe I will be cheering on my Alma Mater + rocking my blue + white on Saturday as Penn State opens their season against the Akron Zips. In honor of my boys returning, I came up with a workout to complete on or before each Game Day this season:

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W: 10 Weighted Oblique Twists

Sit on the ball, holding a dumbbell just under your chin. Walk your feet forward until your hips are slightly lower than your chest; keep your abs tight + chin up. Turn to one side + slowly twist your torso to the other side through a count of 10. Hold + squeeze for 2 seconds at the maximum tension point. Then twist to the other side through a count of 10 seconds.

E: 10 Elbow to Knees

Lay on the floor, crossing your right leg across your bent left knee. Perform the motion by flexing the spine + rotating your torso to bring the left elbow to the right knee. Return to the starting position + repeat the movement for 10 repetitions + switch sides.

A: 10 Alternating Lunges

Start with your feet about shoulder width apart, your back straight, big proud chest + core engaged. Lunge forward until you are at about 90 degrees at both knees. Push your body back up to the starting position through your front heel, switch legs + repeat.

R: 10 Reverse Lunges

Stand tall with your hands at your hips or overhead + take a large + controlled step backward with your left foot. Lower your hips so that your right thigh [front leg] becomes parallel to the floor with your right knee positioned directly over your ankle. Your left knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle + pointing toward the floor with your left heel lifted. Return to standing by pressing your right heel into the floor + bringing your left leg forward to complete one rep. Alternate legs + step back with right leg.

E: 1 minute Elbow Plank

Lay on your stomach with your toes tucked in. Press your forearms on the ground + lift your body into a straight line. Hold.

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I am debating whether I should start adding pictures or maybe even instructional videos for each exercise included in these workouts. Would it be more helpful for you guys if I did that? Please send me an email + let me know your thoughts 🙂

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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The “National Waffle Day” Waffle

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Happy National Waffle Day folks! Today was a long day + I did not get the chance to partake nor share my favorite waffle recipe but better late than never, right? These are low carb protein waffles + unbelievably easy to make, containing just five simple ingredients + still taste delicious. I am all about the easy to cook but still healthy + delicious life.

Waffles are my top favorite breakfast food. If I had to choose between a waffle + a pancake… it is not even a choice for me. Waffles are #1 in my heart – they require no flipping. Then, you have the nooks + crannies to hold the drizzles of maple syrup. You guys have no idea how much I miss the Waffle Shop in State College, ugh! I cannot wait to go back in two weeks.

Research shows that starting your day with a high-protein breakfast can aid in weight loss + boost energy. Sometimes I start my day with one waffle, a drizzle of maple syrup, + fresh strawberry slices. It is the perfect pre-run meal – it satisfies my hunger + gives me the burst of energy I need to kick start the day. I can almost guarantee you these will leave you feeling worlds better than the typical high-sugar + boxed waffle (or pancake) breakfast.

This recipe is gluten free, low carb, contains no processed sugar + is made with P96 Vanilla – my one + only protein powder. I absolutely love how simple, easy, + healthy this recipe is, but the best part is how tasty it is!

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INGREDIENTS
  • 1 scoop or serving of your favorite protein powder (I use Vanilla P96)
  • ¼ cup egg whites from a carton + 1 tablespoon of water
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon or pumpkin spice
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Heatyour waffle iron.
  2. Stir all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, until batter is free of lumps.
  3. Once waffle iron is heated, spray top and bottom of iron with non-stick cooking spray and pour batter over bottom iron.
  4. When waffle iron goes off, transfer waffle to a plate and dress it up with all of your favorites. Serve immediately or store in a covered container to reheat and enjoy later.

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