Summer Recipe Ideas

The season of barbecues and grilling is upon us, friends!

InstaWeatherImage

We are officially moving into the high 90’s, and there’s no end in sight. Such is life in Sacramento during the summer months! We get an average of 22 days of 100+ degree temps every year, according to the National Weather Service. That first day might be tomorrow!

And fortunately, I’ll actually be able to enjoy the weather this weekend: included in this weekend’s agenda are at least two barbeques, Concerts in the Park tonight, and a pub crawl tomorrow. All of a sudden, my social life has seemed to perk up! Funny how a little bit of sunshine will do that 🙂

If you’re curious whether I followed my “Getting Back on Track” meal/exercise plan for the week, I actually did pretty awesomely! All of my meals were more or less planned out [except last night I ended up having fries before dodgeball T-shirt pickup, and a salad after…I was supposed to have chicken, fries, and veggies. Not too bad, right?], and I stuck with the workouts. I surprisingly managed to run 2.7 miles on Wednesday at a 9:15 pace (my longest/fastest run since my 5K in March), and did a pretty killer arms & core workout yesterday. I’m definitely feeling like I’m back on track, though we’ll see if I can carry it over into the weekend full of food, booze, and fun!

In celebrating all of our social lives becoming active again, I decided to put together a little collection of summer recipes. Some are recipes I developed, and others are recipes I’ve pinned over the last year or so. Some are entrees that would be perfect for dinner tonight, others are sides that will make you the hero of any barbeque. I’ve got desserts and drinks too! Enjoy!

Main Dishes

IMG_2638

Fried Green Tomato BLTs with Spicy Ranch Spread – I made these on my birthday weekend this past year and they would be perfect for a summer meal on the balcony!

Chipotle-Mango BBQ Sauce Chicken Salad – That sauce sounds out of this world!

Salmon with Lemon, Capers & Rosemary – This Giada recipe is the first fish dish I ever made, and it’s been my go-to ever since! Cooking salmon in foil packets on the grill is foolproof and so delicious.

IMG_2482

Spicy Smoky Black Bean Burgers – My most popular recipe, and one of my favorites. Once you get the hang of it, making veggie burgers at home is really easy.

Grilled Veggie Tacos – The perfect summer meal. I made this so many times last summer!

Asian Turkey Burgers with Spicy Lime Mayo – This recipe has been pinned on one of my boards for over a year now. I think it might be time!

Side Dishes/Appetizers

IMG_2572

Southwestern Quinoa Salad – definitely a recipe that should be in everyone’s repertoire!

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Corn & Avocado – Finally I can make zucchini ribbons, now that I have a microplane!

DSC_0298

Roasted Garlic Hummus – Now that I’ve perfected my hummus recipe, I am totally going to make it all summer long!

Grilled Corn & Cheddar Quinoa – I couldn’t believe how delicious this was. Possibly my favorite quinoa dish ever.

Roasted Red Pepper, Artichoke and Olive Pasta Salad – Ashley has managed to develop my most perfect ideal pasta salad EVER!

Desserts

photo courtesy of Heather Christo Cooks

Chocolate Peanut Butter Icebox Cake – I’ve never made an icebox cake, but they sound so easy and perfect for warm weather…no oven required!

Orange Creamsicle Cookies – Quickly becoming my signature cookies! I am looking forward to revisiting this recipe this summer and updating my pictures.

Zucchini Almond Chocolate Bites – My favorite thing to do in the summer is sneak zucchini into everything. These bites are a perfect vehicle!

Coconut Shell Fruit Popsicles – What a cool idea. I might have to do this now that I got a huge amount of coconut oil in my Blend swag bag!

Drinks

photo courtesy of A Beautiful Mess

Whiskey Lemonade with Honey – Whiskey and lemons is a favorite combo of mine. It’s like a warm weather hot toddy!

Watermelon G&T – It sounds a little labor intensive to make the watermelon syrup…but I have a feeling it’d be worth it.

Iced Green Tea Mojito – What a cool idea. The healthiness of the green tea totally cancels out the alcohol right? AND there’s green stuff in it. It’s healthy!

Raspberry Beer Cocktail – This sounds like a hangover waiting to happen…and a delicious one, at that.

Citrus-Strawberry Green Tea – So you all can’t say I only included alcoholic drinks 🙂 Though this does sound like it’d be great with a splash of vodka!

.

What is your favorite thing to make in the summer?

What are your plans this weekend?

Getting Back on Track After 2 Long Weekends

To say I’ve had an out of the ordinary couple of weeks/weekends would be an understatement!

Going to Utah for a weekend definitely threw off my mojo, even if we were eating healthy and exercising most of the weekend. I struggled to get back into the swing of things at work last week, and did one workout on Tuesday that put me out of commission for several days.

Fast forward past dodgeball playoffs on Thursday…

Oh hay look, it’s the girls of our team. Aren’t we sassy?

Ahem, moving on… 🙂

Memorial Day weekend was of course full of drinks and I had some great food in San Francisco. I did get in a few walks and bike rides, but I have felt pretty sluggish these past few days at work. So yesterday instead of working I put together a rough food and exercise plan for the week!

Yes…I’m posting my weekly plan on Wednesday. Whatevaaaaa, I do what I want.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like meal planning. Weekend food prep is awesome, since it means I have easy ingredients available for any meal I want. But I don’t like sticking to a set meal plan because I tend to like eating what I want when I want it. Giving in to food cravings is the only way to stifle them, friends!

So here’s what I came up with as far as food goes. The important part was planning lunches, because I’m hoping to work out most days at lunch this week, so I need to have something I can prep in the morning or night before.

food

{as far as breakfast goes…I have enough Muesli Fusion and Hemp Protein Muffins to last me the week!}

Tuesday: Lunch – rice/avocado/turkey sausage. Dinner – some kind of veggie sandwich
Wednesday: Lunch – rice/avocado/veggies/tortilla. Dinner – sprouted whole grain pasta {from the BLEND swag bag, of course} & mom’s meat sauce!
Thursday: Lunch– sausage & pepper sandwich. Dinner– chicken + oven fries + veggies from Farmer’s Market
Friday: Lunch– wing it…aka probably frozen burrito. DinnerConcerts in the Park…aka probably food trucks & beer.

I’m trying to stay away from dairy and alcohol {already botched the alcohol part, since I had to try a few sips of T-Man’s wine last night. Oops!} this week because I noticed dairy was giving me digestive issues last week. And wouldn’t we all be better off drinking less?

20130529-112925.jpg

So far, so good on Tuesday’s meals! I devoured this veggie sandwich with roasted bell peppers, zucchini and hummus last night. Not pictured is the corn on the cob (!!!) I had on the side. I’m sooo excited for corn season!

20130529-112938.jpg

One of my new favorite breakfasts: Overnight oats with Muesli Fusion An-Ox, unsweetened plain almond milk, and chia seeds. The An-Ox blend includes goji berries, cacao nibs, dried bluebs, and walnuts. It has so much texture and no added sugar…perfect for this lazy girl who doesn’t want to have to add a bunch of ingredients herself ;-).

exercise

Normally, I work out 3 times per week and have dodgeball on Thursdays. This week, we don’t have dodgeball so I’m going to aim for 4 workouts in 4 days, taking care not to overdo it or do the same thing two days in a row.

Tuesday: Easy workout to ease my way back into things- elliptical + abs!
Wednesday: The high temp is only 84 [as opposed to 90 and 97 Thursday and Friday] so I will try for my first run in 2 weeks.
Thursday: Some kind of gym workout! Last week I tried Christina’s Bikini Season Workout and it kicked my butt – I was sore for like 3 days afterward and I only made it 1.5 times through the workout! I want to incorporate more CrossFit-type stuff (burpees, squats, mountain climbers, etc) into my routine because it’s such good cardio AND muscular training.
Friday: Rest if I’m sore, easy elliptical + abs again if I’m not!

20130529-112954.jpg

Workouts have been extra bright with my pink shoelaces from Becky 🙂

This is the workout I tried last week {minus the kettle bells, since my gym doesn’t have them} that totally kicked my butt…in the best way possible!

And this is how I looked after going through the routine…ONCE. {took me about 10 minutes}

20130529-112921.jpg

If you can’t tell, that is fear in my eyes of what would happen were I to actually do that workout over and over for 40 minutes. I would prooobably barf. Clearly, given how out of shape I felt while doing this workout, I need to expand my workouts beyond running and elliptical/abs/weight lifting!

I’m actually proud to announce that during my “easy workout” yesterday, I followed up my 25 mins of elliptical intervals by randomly doing a 1 min 30 sec plank! That’s the longest I’ve ever done, and 30 seconds closer to my New Years Resolution of holding a 2 minute plank! Holla.

So on that note, I’m off to go get changed for lunch and my run! It’s only 73 degrees outside now…I don’t think I’ll be getting many runs in in comings weeks, as the high isn’t supposed to dip back below 90 for at least 10 days. Yikes!

Do you plan out your workouts for the week?

How do you get back into the swing of things after a long weekend?

Aaand another question: any recommendations of similar workouts to the one above?

Easter Weekend in Photos + My First 5K!

Quick post! Crazy day at work! Awesome weekend.

20130401-101258.jpg

Friday night was costume planning night.

20130401-101216.jpg

And Saturday was the Veggie Run 5K! Would you believe Nicki and I were the only ones (besides those official Veggie Chase veggies) who dressed up? Let’s just say we (and especially Nicki) were super popular. We even made it on Good Day Sacramento (click to see video! We come in at about 1:16):

gooddaysacramento

easter1

Right after finishing! We came in at 28:54, which is a 9:15/mile pace – well below my 30 min goal! I actually ran much faster than I normally do…Nicki usually runs faster, but she had a little bit of wind resistance 😉

easter2

We finished 70th and 71st out of 251 women…And I was 7th in my age division (19-24)! Not too shabby for a first race!

20130401-101229.jpg

That night, T-Man and I walked (through pollen) to LowBrau, a new restaurant/beer hall here in Sacramento for a fundraiser to raise money to find out who killed Josiah Humphreys. He was beaten to death on St Patrick’s Day just blocks from where I live.  We bought a raffle ticket, tried their duck fat fries and a couple of new-to-us beers. I can’t wait to go back…really cool spot! At midnight, we sat outside and watched a thunderstorm roll through. T-Man loves him some thunder and lightning!

20130401-101223.jpg

I can’t WAIT to show you all the recipe I made for Easter brunch. So proud of myself. You’ve been warned: lots of lemon recipes comin’ at ya this week!

20130401-101237.jpg

After brunch with my parents here, we hurriedly drove to Napa (hence me tying T-Man’s tie for him) for dinner with his dad’s side of the family. It was gloomy and rainy…but the food was great! Afterward, we stopped by his mom’s and she gifted him a quilt she’d been working on for months! So lovely!

It was an awesome weekend, and I was sad to see it go. Here’s my amazing to do list just for today…

easter3

Two more items have been added since I made the list. FML.

Do you have any Easter traditions?

What did you eat for Easter brunch/lunch/dinner?

Friday Faves

I’ve got some goodies for you today, folks! The internet was killin’ it this week.

1) Running costumes

I’m cruisin’ into my 5K race tomorrow fresh off a dodgeball high from our game last night. I caught not one, but TWO balls thrown by one of the biggest baddest dudes in the league last night and, along with a couple of other players, delivered us our first victory of the new season! Nicki and I are going to Target tonight to figure out our outfits for the Veggie Chase…I am totally loving the ideas on this site, though a lot of them don’t exactly look super conducive to running quickly…

2) 20 Ways Cory And Topanga Gave You Unrealistic Expectations About Relationships

corytopanga2

corytopanga

I woke up this morning to this link on Facebook shared by one of my childhood neighbors. So many memories of Friday nights spent watching TGIF together and dreaming about a Cory and Topanga relationship of our own… SIGH. I couldn’t choose between these two screenshots. The first is from the best episode ever (Halloween episode with South Park references galore, anyone?), and the second is just so cute and so unrealistic. “I can never really get mad at you”…really? Really? Never?

3) Braided Lemon Bread by smitten kitchen

filled

Easter is Sunday, and we’re having two meals – I’m making brunch here in Sacramento for us and my parents in the morning, and then we’re driving to Napa for early dinner with T-Man’s family. I’m going to make my dad’s famous Chile Egg Puff and some kind of fruit salad…I’m trying to keep it light, but wanted to make a 3rd dish involving lemons because T-Man brought me a whole bunch from his coworker’s tree. I’m hoping if I make the lemon curd the night before, I’ll have enough time to make this bread on Sunday morning! It just sounds tooooo good.

4) Having only one team left in the tournament…but it being the team that matters!

bracket

You guys, my bracket majorly failed this year. I knew I was being pretty risky by choosing a lot of upsets…but the payoff would have been high! See, my pool rewards a LOT more points depending on the rank of the team…the lower their rank, the more points you get if they win. Unfortunately, I picked North Carolina and New Mexico instead of…La Salle and Florida Gulf Coast?! Who could have predicted those upsets? Thankfully I still may be in luck if Michigan State wins! I’m still in it….for now!

5) 4 steps to pairing colors and patterns by nutritionella

I love this easy guide to decorating your home/apartment! My roomie and I haven’t done much in the decorating department, since we accepted a lot of mismatching hand-me-downs from our parents when we moved in. We will either be renewing our lease in a month or finding a new place…I think either outcome will call for some spring cleaning and decorating! Speaking of spring cleaning, I have had some serious clutter anxiety lately. My desk at work, T-Man’s fridge, and our living room were victim to my anxiety-induced organizing/cleaning sprees this week…I’ve never had this urge before, but suddenly I can’t stand clutter! Might as well ride the train while it’s here…I’m sure in a month I’ll be back to preferring what I like to call my organized chaos. 🙂

6) Skinny blueberry lemon poppyseed muffins!

DSC_0401

Last weekend, I set out to make a muffin with as close to 100 calories as possible…and I did it! I’ll be posting the recipe for these low cal, super low fat muffins sometime next week 🙂 I’ve enjoyed them for breakfast with my yogurt or oatmeal every morning this week!

Have a great Easter weekend!

What are your plans? Do you do Easter brunch or Easter dinner?

New Years Eves Past

In honor of New Years Eve, I decided to look back on 3 of my last 4 New Years Eves by sharing pictures and remembering what fun they were. They brought me to two different countries and two different states, and I celebrated with different people each year. How’s that for variety? 😛

I didn’t include NYE 2010 because if I remember correctly, I had just moved home from college and spent the night on the couch watching Snooki drop in a ball. The thought of that scene alone was so depressing that I went straight to my computer the next day and wrote this blog post, then soon after, this one about getting off my lazy butt and applying for internships. Within a week I had two interviews for internships, one of which I got on the spot…and it set me on the path I am today.

Maybe that New Years Eve was mention-worthy after all 🙂

Munich2009Munich, GermanyNYE 2008 — I welcomed in 2009 in the most confusing and exciting New Years Eve setting to date: surrounded by Germans and Austrians (namely, my Austrian friend/host Laura, who was also studying abroad in Lyon with me) in Munich, Germany. Laura met me at the Munich train station on New Years Eve day, after I’d spent 3 days in Prague and had a hell of a time figuring out how to take the train (I speak neither Czech nor German). We went straight to Hofbrauhaus and shared German sausage & beer and chatted in French, much to the confusion of the Italian lads sharing our cafeteria-style table. The rest of the night was spent at a house party and later wandering the streets of Munich, where there was no real fireworks show but rather random people lighting firecrackers out of champagne bottles. Craziest experience EVER, as I spent most of the night speaking surrounded by a weird mix of English, French, and German, with fireworks flying inches from my face. New Years morning (as well as the next week of my Euro trip through Munich, Salzburg, and Stockholm) was snowy and glorious.

SanFran2010

San Francisco, California USANYE 2009 — 3 of my best friends from college and I (we went to UCSB but are all from the Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto area) traveled to San Francisco to ring in our graduation year (Class of 2010, woo!) together. We started the night in Berkeley and had more fun getting ready and taking pictures in front of Starry Night together than we actually did in SF – we couldn’t get into any bars (AKA we didn’t want to pay a cover) and ended up roaming the streets most of the night…until we made it to the Ferry Building at midnight and saw the fireworks!

Oregon2012

Croft Lake, Oregon, USANYE 2011 — Last year, we spent New Year’s weekend in beautiful Oregon, at my roommate’s parents’ cabin on Croft Lake. The weekend was spent canoeing, lounging around and cooking in the cabin, and checking out holiday lights at Shore Acres National Park in nearby Coos Bay. We were pretty much the only inhabitants of the maybe 1 dozen cabins on the lake there for the weekend, so we had the whole place to ourselves and the 6 of us set off firecrackers while blasting music, having a dance party on the deck, and drinking champy. T-Man’s mom had bought me a nice bottle of bubbly from Domaine Carneros, where she had treated me to a nice outing as a Christmas present, so we got to enjoy that too 🙂

My ideal NYE this year would have been something like last year, and until yesterday or the day before, we were contemplating going up to Tahoe for a mini-re-creation…but I think this year is a better year than ever to stay at home and appreciate what I have right in front of me: family, friends, my own apartment (!!!), a job. Despite an overall horrid year, I do have a lot of good things to look back on.

Plus, who knows where I’ll be next year? That’s always the fun thing to wonder. 🙂 Have a safe and happy new year everyone!

Mulled Wine à la Française

Today, I’m taking you all to France.

Doesn’t matter if you’re willing or not. We’re goin’ there. Sorry ’bout it.

Ever since I spent a year studying (and eating) in Lyon, the month of December and the holiday season bring back very specific memories.

Twinkling stars and dazzling colors…

lagranderoue

Hustle and bustle, the sound of haggling voices, shiny gifts…

And wine. Sweet, hot, spiced wine.

One of the most special memories I have of my year living in Lyon is of the Fête des Lumières, or Festival of Lights. I often heard native Lyonnais residents remark of their snobby adversaries — the Parisians — that they never leave Paris…except to go to the South for vacation during the summer, and to Lyon for the Fête des Lumières.

Centre-ville (downtown) Lyon is guarded by a river on each side – the Saône on the left and the Rhône on the right — as well as a large hill on the left. On the top of the hill, you will find Notre Dame de Fourvière, a beautiful old cathedral that overlooks the entire city. Atop one of its towers sits a huge bronze statue of the Vièrge Marie (Virgin Mary), to whom the cathedral is dedicated.

Now, don’t get me wrong, a lot of cities in Europe have giant churches and statues dedicated to everyone’s favorite virgin. But homegirl is especially special to the Lyonnais. Legend has it (OK, its recorded in history…but doesn’t legend sound cooler?) that though the cathedral wasn’t built until the 1800s, the hill has always had important religious significance to the Lyonnais.  Throughout the years, small churches and chapels have been constructed on the hill. In the 1600’s when the city was fighting a plague (or was it in the 1800’s during a cholera epidemic? I’ve heard different stories…), many people would make an annual trek up the hill to thank the Vièrge Marie for keeping them alive one more year. This tradition grew and grew, until a larger cathedral had to be built.

Each year, on December 8th (the commonly attributed date of the Immaculate Conception), residents began to light candles in their windows honoring Mary for protecting the city. Hundreds still make the trek up to the Colline qui Prie (the hill that prays) to pay their respects. But now instead of just candles being lit in window sills, the entire city lights up.

{click photos to enlarge}

fourvieresteps

on the Colline qui Prie, overlooking the city

fourviere

Notre Dame de Fourviere, with la Vièrge Marie hidden on the right

And this is the view from the city.

The rest of the city:

placedesjacobins

Place des Jacobins

cathedralestjean2 cathedralestjean
Cathedrale Saint Jean, which usually looks like this

museedesbeauxarts

Musee des Beaux Arts – these lights changed to tell a 10 minute story

insidehoteldeville

Only several times per year, Hôtel de Ville (city hall) is opened up to the public…Fête des Lumières is one of those times.

The pictures don’t do it justice…It’s an amazing few days. These photos are from 2008, which means there are 4 more years of amazing photos you can likely find online.

Another lovely thing about December in France (or any European country, for that matter) is Christmas markets.

This is where you go to buy super French hand crafted gifts to send home to your family and friends for Christmas when you’re studying abroad. Tins full of cookies, soaps, artisan foods… you name it, they’ve got it.

marchedenoel

Left- my German colocataire (roommate) and I, neat cuillères & fourchettes (spoons & forks), and beautiful lamps. Right- escargot DUH, and fruit-shaped candles.

Have you spotted the highlight of all of these holiday Frenchie things?

Hint: it’s in my hand in front of Cathedrale St Jean, and in my roomie’s hand at the market…

Vin Chaud. AKA Mulled wine.

Around every corner and at every market during the cold winter months, you will find tables with Frenchies standing behind signs advertising “VIN CHAUD – 1€”

or this guy, charging 2 euro for his ORGANIC vin chaud

Every year since I returned from France, I have craved the stuff.

If you like spiced cider, you will love mulled wine.

If you like wine, you will love mulled wine.

If you like being happy and warm inside, you will love mulled wine.

Have I sold you yet?

mulledwine

Mulled Wine
serves a small crowd

This is a very make-it-how-you-like-it kind of recipe…I rarely make mulled wine the same way twice. Adjust ingredients to your liking! My only real suggestion is to use a wine that is not too sweet, because you’ll be adding a lot of sweetness to it.

2 bottles red wine (or make it simple and just get a jug of Carlo Rossi)
1-2 oranges or 1/2 can orange juice concentrate
1/3 cup sugar
1-2 cinnamon sticks (ground cinnamon can work in a pinch)
1 tsp whole cloves
1/4 cup brandy (optional)

Place the sugar and spices into a pot and squeeze in juice from the oranges (save half of one of the oranges to slice as garnish). Heat on low until the sugar is dissolved. Add in wine and warm to a simmer, stirring occasionally. I like to add the juiced orange halves to the pot. Taste and adjust according to your preferences. Add more sugar, orange juice, or wine as you see fit! Don’t let the mixture boil, keep it at a simmer. Keep in mind that the longer you simmer, the less alcohol will remain in the wine. Add brandy just before serving…To serve, ladle into cups and enjoy!

Christmas Recap + Elf 4 Health

Merry Day-After-Christmas, everyone!

I hope none of you are, like me, sick and at work this December 26th. What started as feeling just a little under the weather on Sunday has grown into a full-blown cold that exploded on Christmas morning and is still lingering today. Luckily, I’ve had my friends DayQuil and NyQuil to make the days a little brighter 🙂

This was probably one of the best Christmases my family has had in a long time…Instead of breaking out into a fight as early as dinnertime on Christmas Eve, we had no squabbles until after returning home from Grandma’s house last night 😉 A new record!!!

I got a lot of items on my list, and even a few that I didn’t ask for (like new socks…because my mom saw the ratty ones I wore to the hospital during my tests and felt a need to replace them, haha). Lots of kitchen goodies, and a few gadgets for my bike too!

20121226-090536.jpg

On Christmas Eve, I arrived at my parents’ house with all my baking in hand, but my mom wanted to add some of her own cookies to the mix too. So we baked together and snacked on wine, hummus & guac. Snacky meals are kind of our thing 😛

20121226-090456.jpg

I tried my hand at baking my Grandma’s favorite Lacey’s Cookies. They turned out pretty good, and I sandwiched melted chocolate between them so they were just like the store-bought kind 🙂

20121226-090550.jpg

In a break from the normal Italian cuisine, Mom made Monterrey Chicken with a side salad and (can-shaped) cranberry sauce. That bottle of wine is one my parents bought when we went wine tasting with T-Man’s mom to Jessup Cellars in Napa. So good!

20121226-090603.jpg 20121226-090825.jpg
20121226-101736.jpg

A bit of the loot I accumulated…that wheel is to replace the one that was stolen right off my bike around Halloween – I’ve been bikeless ever since! (And UMMMM how epic is that nonstick pan!!! What a lucky girl I am!!)

Christmas Morning- off to Grandma’s house!

20121226-090857.jpg

20121226-090739.jpg

Look! I don’t have to steal T-Man’s anymore!

20121226-090836.jpg

Me and my brother & some of my cousins (+ Grandma in the bottom picture) wearing the crewneck sweaters that Grandma bought everyone. She found them on sale at Target and bought 17 of them…Can you imagine what a sight that must have been???

20121226-090844.jpg

Om nom nom. Rolls, ham, sweet sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and a green salad (the only thing I went back for seconds on, thankyouverymuch!)

20121226-090905.jpg

Grandma’s tree, and an…..interesting snowman ornament I made for my grandparents in 1994, haha.

The other thing I’ve been trying to keep up with this week is the final round of Elf for Health, which I finally got on board for!

nutritionella
I wanted to sign up for this weeks ago, but with my health issues being how they were, I haven’t been exercising much and a lot of the challenges are fitness-related. However, I am all in for this week and next!

Week 5 Challenges

Monday

Call a friend just to chat! Go through your list of contacts until one of them answers… then you can look forward to getting call-backs all week.
Bonus points for a handwritten note too!

~I think having 9 friends over for brunch and Secret Santa gifts on Monday definitely fulfills this challenge! Most of us don’t see each other often during the year, so the fact that we always make time to meet up for Secret Santa every year is really special. If you didn’t see it on Monday, check out all my friends in my living room:

20121224-141448.jpg

Tuesday

Go for a walk with a family member!
Bonus points for fitting in a workout before your Christmas feast.
~Unfortunately, this was quite impossible yesterday, as Northern California experienced a ton of flooding from all the rain we got! Fortunately, my head cold kept my appetite down and also kept me away from the wine supply, so I didn’t overeat (or drink) like I think most of us usually do!

20121226-110645.jpg

Wednesday

Look at yourself in the mirror & find THREE things you love about yourself.
Show us what they are!

~I was a little bleary-eyed when I woke up this morning at my parents’ house and didn’t have it in me to even pass by a mirror on my way out, haha. Now that the DayQuil has hit me, I’ll have to do this when I get back to my apartment. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram, or follow the hashtag #elf4health to see what I decide 🙂