What's Up Wednesday: April 2020

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This April has been nothing like we have seen before.  The first full month of sheltering in place.  It still seems so surreal at times.  And then other times, it's hard to remember the 'before' - it seems so far away.  

I am super thankful to have started blogging, and to be documenting a bit of this time.  I know I will want to look back on this time once we get on the other side.  So here's a look at 'what's up' deep in the throes of sheltering at home.  

What I'm eating this week... 
Sunday - Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas & Taco Rice
Monday - Panera
Tuesday - Mostaccioli 
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Lou Malnati's (my parents sent frozen Lou's - such a wonderful surprise and treat!)
Friday - Sausage & Peppers 
Saturday - Leftovers

What I'm reminiscing about...
Days back in the office.  Non-busy times I could totally work from home no problem.  I feel like I have gotten it (kinda) down.  But during busy times (like right now), I really miss being in the office, and being able to just go talk to someone instead of having to email or set up a call.  

What I'm loving...
My Apple Watch!  No surprise there, I have been mentioning it a fair amount, and I have only had it for a week!  The activity tracker has been super motivating.

What I've been up to...
After a few weeks of working from home, I shared 5 things that I have found helpful (post here)

Made some new goals and habits for April (post here)

Switched up my Friday Favorites and shared a peek inside my gratitude journal (post here)

Shared some Amazon orders (post here)

Posted about my experience with intermittent fasting (post here)

Had a long list of favorite to share this week - 10 to be exact (post here)

Recapped my third and fourth weekend at home (post here)

Reviewed some recently read books (post here)

Had more favorites to share, albeit a shorter list than the previous week (post here)

Recapped another weekend at home...weekend 5 for those of us counting (post here)

Finally finished up my home tour with a look at my loft area (post here)

Documented a day in the life...quarantine edition (post here)

Shared another bunch of favorites (post here)

Continued with my numbering of weekends at home (post here)

Rounded up a few new recipes I tried, one of which is going to be a new staple! (post here)

What I'm dreading...
Honestly, nothing.  Right now, I am having one of those 'okay' moments.

What I'm working on...
Trying to stay motivated while at home, both with moving (thanks, Apple Watch), eating healthy, and knocking out a few home projects.

What I'm excited about...
My Apple Watch
My shredding pile getting smaller and smaller
Sunshine & walks outside
Peloton (both the bike & the app)
Possibility of taking a day off next week
Getting to bed early these last few days
Free Zumba classes on Facebook

What I'm watching...
I've moved from Chicago Fire to Chicago PD.  I don't love it quite as much, but it is still really good.  

What I'm reading...
It's really weird - I haven't had much desire to read.  I did get a few books read last month (post here), and I am still working my way through Jessica Simpson's Open Book.  It's taking me awhile to read, but that is not a reflection of the book at all, because I really, really like it!

What I'm listening to...
Still have my normal Pandora stations - Jazz for Studying (when working), The Standards (when cooking), and Chicago, but I also have a new one in the mix - Club Hip Hop.  One of my friends told me about this station, and it is great.  Definitely reminds me of high school and college, maybe even a little before.  It will get you wanting to dance!

What I'm wearing...
Same as last month -  a sweatshirt or a t-shirt and cardiganleggings or joggers, and slippers

What I'm looking forward to next month...
I don't want to be too hopeful for May, but it sure would be nice if things were okay enough to get together with family. 

Linking up with Shay and Lindsay.

Recipe Round Up: A Review of the Recipes I Tried

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

One thing I have enjoyed about being at home more, is the time spent in the kitchen.  I have always loved to cook and bake, but before I would still lean on convenience (aka take out) quite a bit.  While I am still doing take out / delivery some to support restaurants, it's more limited and not as often.  

That said, I am more often than not cooking from the freezer, or make recipes I am familiar with, since I am more likely to have the ingredients at home already.  But, I do have some new recipes to share that I have made - one of which is going to be a new staple!

This first recipe I made prior to all this happening...I had it in my drafts for awhile, and it's crazy to go back and read about making something for a girls night!  

After-School Banana Bread from Magnolia Table.  Another winner from the Magnolia Table cookbook!  I made this for a girls night, when we were doing breakfast for dinner, and it was a huge hit.  Then, I brought the leftovers to work the next day, and was told by a coworker that it may be the best banana bread she has ever had.  This is a crowd pleaser for sure!  It really should be no surprise, because everything (with the exception of one recipe) I have made from this cookbook has been excellent.  A few things I wanted to note - I used 5 bananas to make this, and while they were definitely ripe, I think they had a little more life left in them than the bananas I normally use to make any type of banana bread / muffin.  And, I left out the nuts, which are optional anyways.  I am sure it would have been great with them, but we have a few different nut allergies in the girls group.  All in all, I highly, highly recommend making this recipe!  (Side note - after I made this, two of my friends bought the cookbook - it's that good!)

Souper Creamy Lemon Butter Cheesy Zucchini Orzo from Half Baked Harvest.  This was not my favorite recipe.  I was super excited about making it, because I happened to have all the necessary ingredients at home.  I halved it, because 8 servings is wayyyy too much for me.  I did keep the spices the same, though, simply because I like a lot of flavor.  And I used spinach instead of kale, because that is what I had on hand.  All in all, I found it a bit blah in flavor.  Plus, some of the orzo seemed to be overcooked, and some seemed to be under cooked.  Just not my cup of tea, and not one I will be making again.

Chicken Fajita Bake from Southern Curls & Pearls.  This meal was SO GOOD.  And it was so very easy, too!  During this time Caitlin has been posting easy meal ideas on her instagram, which she has saved as a highlight, and she also has compiled them into a blog post.  When she shared the chicken fajita bake, I was instantly intrigued, both because I had the ingredients at home, and because I love this type of food.  It was beyond easy to make, smelled amazing baking, and tasted so very good.  I think you can serve it a few different ways - alone, over rice, or in a tortilla.  I went with the tortilla option, using a little Greek yogurt for sour cream, and then topping with shredded cheese.  Which is one change I made when making this - I left the cheese off when baking, and just used it as a topping after the fact.  If you are looking for a delicious and easy meal, this one is it!

Have you made any new recipes while at home?  I'd recommendations!

Weekend Recap: Weekend 6 at Home

Another weekend has gone and another Monday has come.  Even though weekends are no longer spent as they once were, I still wish we had one more day, haha!  I guess somethings never change!

I was pretty worn out from the week come Friday.  The big highlight on Friday was getting out for Starbucks.  One of our local stores is still open, operating on shortened hours and drive thru only, and it's been a treat that seems semi normal these days.  I am always amazed at the line, but it actually goes relatively quickly.

Saturday morning I woke up with a hankering for French toast.  It is one of my favorite breakfast dishes!  Although only homemade...for some reason it never hits the spot when ordering out.  It started out a little shaky...as I was cracking an egg into the bowl, the way I cracked it, the hole egg feel down the outside of the bowl...not into it.  What a mess, haha!  I can't say I have ever done that before, but I guess there is a first for everything!

It was delicious, and the perfect fuel for a productive morning.  I got the cabinet under my sink cleaned, and also got my Christmas bins off the basement floor, and onto shelving.  

Now the afternoon wasn't near as productive, but that's what the weekend is for, right?  Relaxing!  I did another group FaceTime with my dad, brother and nephew for the iRacing Challenge.  We have a fantasy league, and unfortunately this race I gave up my first place standing to my brother...only by 6 points, though!

Sunday the sun was shining, which was welcome after all the rain.  It was pretty chilly, though, so I did my devotional / gratitude journal, made myself a cup of coffee, watched a show, then had a nice chat with my parents.  

Prior to calling my parents I had a bit of a moment.  I was doing some laundry, and noticed that washing machine hadn't advanced.  My instant thought was that it broke.  I gave it a little time, though, because occasionally it will seem like it takes a long time to advance but it usually does in a minute or two.  Well, nothing happened.  I was fully prepared to get out the manual, and try to fix it with the help of my dad via FaceTime.  I lifted the lid just to see how much water was in there, when I realize there was no water.  Turns out I never hit start!  I was thrilled that was all, although I felt pretty silly, too, haha!  

Since it had warmed up some, I got outside for a walk.  Another thing I love about my Apple Watch is the fact that it tells you the distance you have walked.  I am looking forward to mapping out some different routes.

The rest of Sunday was spent getting ready for this coming week.  Hope it's a good one!

Linking up with Lindsay.  

Friday Favorites: Apple Watch, Chicken Fajita Bake, Katie's Pizza & Instagram Collections

Hey all!  Happy Friday!  This week has seemed pretty long, and when I realized that yesterday was actually Thursday and we were almost to the weekend, I was super excited.

1.  Apple Watch.  What I was also super excited about this week, was the arrival of my Apple Watch!  I got a bee in my bonnet about an Apple Watch, after Lindsay said how much she loved hers.  And then, as I talked to more people about the watches, I heard more and more good things, and well, I ended up ordering one for myself.  It came in the mail this week, and I am so enjoying it.

My favorite part so far are the activity rings.  There is a ring for exercise, a ring for standing, and one for movement.  I think it's especially helpful to have a reminder to be active right now, when it could be so easy to not get up and move since you can't go anywhere.

I also really like getting calendar notifications.  I can be super forgetful, or get zoned in at work and almost miss reminders, so the reminder on my wrist is much appreciated.

I can't wait to find new ways to use it!

2.  Chicken Fajita BakeCaitlin from Southern Curls & Pearls has been sharing some of her favorite easy and healthy recipes on instagram.  She posted about a chicken fajita bake, and I knew that was one I had to try.

It was beyond easy to pull together, smelled amazing while cooking, and was seriously delicious.  I did make one change, though, and left the cheese off until I made my plate.  I put some Greek yogurt on a tortilla, added a few pieces of sliced chicken, some of the onions and peppers, and then topped with shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  SO GOOD.  

The leftovers are really good, too.  I made two chicken breasts (cooked about 35 minutes), and got three servings out of that.  If you are looking to try a new recipe during this time, I can't say enough good things about this one!

3.  Katie's (Frozen) Pizza.  A local pizza and pasta restaurant is now offering frozen pizza.  You can order online for delivery, right to your door, no contact.  And the delivery fee goes directly to the employees, which is really awesome.  Gotta appreciate a business that takes care of its employees!  I made one last night, and it was delicious.  The crust had the same chewy yet crispy texture found when dining in the restaurant.  If you are local, definitely something to check out!

4.  Instagram Collections.  For the longest time, I had no idea what 'collections' were on instagram.  All I knew is that I would sometimes accidentally hit the little bookmark button and I would hastily unclick it, haha.  

Well, Olivia Rink posted awhile back how she uses them to save workouts she comes across.  I loved that idea, because I so often would see workouts I wanted to try and think 'oh, I will have to remember that', but that never happened.

With circumstances as they are now, more and more people are posting at home workouts, and now it's so easy to save them and go back when I need to switch things up.

5.  On the blog this week...
Weekend Recap: Weekend 5 at Home 
Home Tour: Loft 
A Day in the (Quarantine) Life: 4.15.2020 

Linking up with Erika & Andrea.

A Day in the (Quarantine) Life: 4.15.2020

Given we are living in such an unprecedented time, I wanted to document a day in the life.  Funnily enough, I did a documented a day the week before things all changed (post here).  I am sure glad the timing worked out like that.  I have a 'before' coronavirus day, and now, today, a 'during' coronavirus day to look back on.

This was my April 15, 2020.  Here we go...

The alarm went off at 4:30 this morning.  I probably laid in bed about 10 minutes before actually getting up.  I used to pop right out of bed, but more and more during this time I find myself struggling to get out of bed as quick as I used to.  

When I finally got up, I popped in my contacts, changed into workout clothes, and grabbed a load of laundry to throw in the wash.  I usually do my laundry on the weekends, but sometimes a load or two bleeds into the week.  

Once the laundry was going, I sat down with my devotionals and gratitude journal.  In addition to my normal devotional, Jesus Calling, I have also been making my way through another one, called Beholding and Becoming.  I really like it so far!  I think one of the things keeping me semi-sane these days is taking the time to do this each morning.  It's been good practice for me the past few years, but even more so now with everything going on.  A little bit of Jesus, and a little bit of thankfulness to start the day.  And a little bit of picking up.  I was lazy the night before, so didn't right the pillows / blanket before going to bed.

After that, it's time to get in my workout.  I ride my Peloton MWF most weeks, and Leanne is one of my favorite instructors.  One positive thing to come from this, is the fact that I have been getting in longer rides.  Usually I stick to 15-20 minutes since I am on more of a strict time schedule in the morning, but since I don't get as ready and there is zero commute, I can be more flexible and get in a full 30 minutes.

As I try to catch my breath, I do a little bit of shredding, then get in a bit of cleaning.  I used to be a do everything at one time cleaner, but lately I have been doing a little bit at a time, and that's been working well.  I knock out my master bathroom, and then sit down to read a few blogs before getting ready for the day.

Getting ready for the day looks quite different than it used to.  While I still get ready to some extent, it's way less than before.  Minimal makeup, and my hair is either up in a bun or a braid.  

I am at my desk by 7:30 to start the workday.  Mid-morning I take a tea break, and also walk up and down the stairs a few times to get in some exercise.  I need a little help focusing, so I turn on my favorite Pandora station for work - Jazz for Studying.

I stop for lunch around noon, making a salad.  My go to salad lately has been, spinach, shredded carrots, cucumber, red pepper, tomatoes, cheese, sunflower seeds, and chicken.  Sometimes bit of bacon, too.  So, so good.  

And it helps balance out my afternoon snack of gummy bears, haha!

The weather was pretty nice, so I took an quick afternoon break to get a bit of sun, and scope out my plants.  My hostas were finally starting to break through, which was such a good sight to see!

Work has been busy, so I ended up working a little later than normal.  Once I logged off, I took a few minutes to fold some sweaters that had been washed the day before.  

Then, it was time to relax so I lit a candle, poured a glass of wine, and started an episode of Home Town while my dinner heated up. 

I forgot to take a picture of my dinner, but I had white chicken chili, cut up cucumbers, and cornbread muffins.

I realized I hadn't gotten the mail, so I went to get it, and was so happy to see my Homebody sweatshirt from Charmed had arrived.

I watched a little more TV, then spent way too long figuring out how to fill out a template for instagram stories, haha.  Lindsay had tagged me in this 'get to know me' template, and I was pretty proud of myself for remembering how to participate, haha.  I am not the best at technology, so it did take me way longer than it should have, but I did get it!

I folded and put away the load of laundry I did in the morning, then was off to bed a little bit after 9:30.

And that is a day in the life - quarantine edition!

Linking up with Lindsay.    

Home Tour: Loft

Today is my final home tour post!  If you remember last month, I shared a home decor post (link here), because the one space I still had to share in my home tour, my loft, was a bit of a mess with starting to work from home.

My office area still isn't decorated, but it was cleaned up enough for pictures.  Part of the reason I wanted to do a home tour on my blog, was because I wanted to document things as is, because it really does take time to make a house a home.

This little loft area was a big seller for me when looking at this condo.  I had originally wanted three bedrooms, so that I could have a guest room, and an office.  My place is only a two bedroom, but the loft gives me the office space I was looking for.  And now, it also serves at the home for my Peloton bike, too!

I am getting a bit ahead of myself, though, because what I first want to share is the little vignette at the top of the stairs.

I knew I wanted some type of table at the top of the stairs, but with the space up there, it needed to be narrow.  My grandma and mom came across this cabinet at a garage sale, and for $40 (or maybe it was $45?) it was mine!  It's the perfect size for the space, and I love the rich wood tone.  

The wicker mirror is something I already had from Target.  I was thrilled to find a home for it!  I had started collecting milk glass vases, and my mom had the idea to use this galvanized tray to house them all.  Books, topped by a little battery candle finish off the space.  It's simple, and can be dressed up for any occasion.

To the side is another great garage sale find.  I think my mom and dad found it at a local garage sale for $5, or so.  It's just super neat, and so very old.  The coolest things about it, is the paper at the top.  There are a bunch of different 'pages' if you will, and the condition it is in, given the age is just remarkable.  I settled on the math page, because that was one of my favorite subjects in school.  I'd like to do some neat chalk art on the board, but I can't quite decide what to put on there.  

I just recently added my LV boxes underneath.  It add some color to the space, and I like seeing them every time I go upstairs, or in the hall.  It's important to me to decorate with things I love, even if they are old purse boxes!

Moving to the actual loft area, as you can see this is both my office, and my gym.  It's really nice to have my bike in a normal spot in the house, and not in the basement.  I honestly don't know if I would use it, or enjoy it as much, if it were down there.  

The office area is pretty special, because the desk came from my parents' best friend's house after he passed.  My dad painted it for me, going a few shades darker than my wall color, and I really loved the way it turned out.  I still need to organize it a bit better, but it's been so handy the past 5+ weeks.  

Right now, the chair is just one pulled from the dining table, and as soon as I make it through my massive pile of papers I am shredding, the shredder will go upstairs by my desk.  

This space still has a long way to go, but right now it is very functional, which is all I can really as for, especially during this time!

That wraps up my home tour.  If you want to check out any of the other spaces, you can click on the home tour page here, or at the top of the page and each post is linked there.

Linking up with Erika.

Weekend Recap: Weekend 5 at Home

Can't believe this was the fifth weekend at home!  After a long week, and the extension of the stay at home order, I was ready for it, though!

I was in a pretty good mood Friday morning, but by lunch time it had changed pretty drastically, haha!  I had all sorts of technical issues on Friday, which really stunk because I had a long list of to do's I needed and wanted to get done before signing off for the weekend.  In the weeks of working from home, I have been so pleasantly surprised at how well and fast everything has been working.  Friday, however, was a different story.  It was like all the problems had saved up for this one day!  By late afternoon, things had seemed to improve, but I was still super ready for it all to be over.  And when it was, I plopped myself on the couch for the night and enjoyed some wine.

Saturday morning was nice and slow.  I was inspired to put to use some old bananas after a friend text me a picture of her blueberry muffins.  I made my very favorite banana muffin tops.  Next on the agenda was putting away my Easter decorations.  I don't have many, but it felt good to get things back to just normal decorations since the holiday had passed.  In the afternoon I settled in for the Indycar iRacing Challenge.  It was kind of funny, after all my issues on Friday, it seemed like iRacing was having some of their own, too, because it was a little fuzzier than normal, plus there were a few times a car would disappear for a moment or, too.  Must be going around!  My family and I FaceTimed for about half of the race which was fun as always.  The rest of the day was pretty uneventful.

Sunday was another slow morning.  I had woken up early, but ended up falling back asleep and slept wayyyy in.  I feel like this all has me sleeping a lot later than normal!  I spent a bit of the morning on the phone with my parents, then my grandma, catching up with them.  I made myself a coffee, and watched a show.  As I was sitting there, I realized how much blue I had between my pjs, my cardigan, my blanket and my YETI!  Although if asked, I would say pink is my favorite color, but I am thinking that really I should be saying blue.  

The day was set to be cloudy, but the sun came out and I got in a nice long walk before lunch.  I haven't been doing that as much as I should, and yesterday reminded me that even on those days where I don't want to, I need to just get out there and walk!

I had to work a little bit in the afternoon, but nothing too much.  I spent the rest of the night finishing Chicago Fire.  It's such a good show, and I am sad to be all caught up and current.  I want more episodes!  I am moving onto the next show in that group, though, Chicago PD.  Like Fire, I have seen a few episodes here and there, but I am excited to start back from the beginning.

I hope you all had a good weekend!

Linking up with Lindsay.

Friday Favorites: A Shredder, Espadrilles, Charmed Boutique, Bible Passages & On the Blog

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Hey all, happy Friday.  I have been turned around this week, and kept thinking that yesterday was Wednesday instead of Thursday.  I could blame it on the coronavirus, but honestly, when work gets busy as it has been, it's pretty par for the course.

Yesterday, our stay at home order got pushed until mid-May.  While I figured this was coming, I still teared up a bit at the news because I really miss my family.  Sure, we have been FaceTiming, Zooming, talking and texting quite a bit, but as we all know, it just isn't the same as being there together in person.  The measures being taken are necessary, though.  Knowing that doesn't take the sadness away, but that's ok!

Anyways, on to lighter and fluffier things!  I have a few favorites to share today.

1.  Shredder.  I recently went through all my paper files, and had quite a few items that needed to be shredded.  I was in need of a shredder, so I hopped on Amazon, and purchased this Amazon Basics shredder.  And it has been the best thing the last few days.  I might be addicted to shredding, haha.  There is something almost therapeutic about it, and it's so very satisfying to see my paper stack get a little smaller each time.  I've only been using the shredder for the past few days, so I can't speak to the longevity, but it's worked out great so far.  I am careful to not put too many papers in, usually staying below the 8 page maximum, and only do smaller piles at a time, turning it off and unplugging it in between my 'shredding sessions'.

2.  Vince Camuto Espadrilles.  Nordstrom is having a spring sale through Saturday, and included in the sale are these Vince Camuto espadrilles.  I have last year's version and wore them all the time.  They are beyond comfortable!  What drew me to this year's version was the texture of the front, and the fluff color option (plus the price - 40% off).  I am super excited to get them in.  And hopefully wear them later this spring / summer.
VINCE CAMUTO Brilesha Platform Sandal, Main, color, FLUFF

3.  Charmed Boutique.  I've mentioned Charmed before - it's a local boutique in my hometown, and my favorite small business.  While the brick and mortar store is there, you can also shop Charmed online.  I like following Charmed on instagram, since you can shop directly from the pictures, too!  Courtney has some of the cutest stuff, and when she posted this Homebody sweatshirt last Friday, I couldn't order it fast enough.  I am a bit of a homebody anyways, but it's obviously fitting for these days.  Plus sweatshirts are my new work wear, so it does double duty, at least for right now!  She has a t-shirt option, too, if you've already moved on from sweatshirts to t-shirts this spring.  And lots of other cute stuff, too.

4.  Bible Passages.  In recent church emails, my pastor included these two passages below.  While I always enjoy the emails he sends out to the church, I find comfort in them even more during this time.  These two really stood out to me this week, and I wanted to share, in case they gave someone else comfort, too.

Pslams 55: 16-18 (NIV) As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me.  Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.  He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me.

1 Peter 5: 6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the might hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 

5.  On the blog the last two weeks (since last Friday was Good Friday):
Recent Amazon Purchases 
My Experience With Intermittent Fasting 
Friday Favorites: 10 Favorites from the Week 
Weekend Recap: Weekend 3 & 4 at Home 
Book Review: April 2020 

Linking up with Erika.

Linking up with Erika.