Old-School-Style

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After my Zumbatomic training, I went home, baked up a double-batch of dough balls (that I prepped the night before), got ready, and headed out to meet up with some friends for a casual dinner…old-school-style.

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{Jason with Carson, hubby, Matt with Liam, and Nate}

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{Caitlin, me, Kate, and Kath}

We haven’t been able to get together with our whole group together since Kath moved, so we were really excited to see everyone…

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…plus a couple adorable, new additions.

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Nate was our grill-master.

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{The spread}

We did a traditional pot-luck and had quite the spread.

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{Chardonnay for moi}

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I had a little bit of everything – salad, quinoa salad, grilled veggies, and a cheese burger. Everything was delicious as always!

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{Liam & Kath}

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For dessert, I brought sugar cookie dough balls (click for recipe) (sans the drizzle frosting), and Kath & Matt brought lots of Great Harvest goodness – muffins, scuffins, and Savannah bars.

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A little bit of everything – watermelon, a dough ball, plus some Savannah bar.

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I definitely picked up a couple more pieces of Savannah bar over the night – they were so good!

It’s funny how you can go for a long time without seeing your friends and when you see them next, it’s like time never passed. We had so much fun catching up with everyone’s recent life changes – from family additions to work. We’re definitely going to have to do this again soon!

Reader question: What’s your favorite thing to bring to a pot-luck?

Zumbatomic Instructor Training {Fitness}

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On Saturday, my friend Shamecia (an instructor-in-training) and I headed north of the city to attend one of the other training sessions that Zumba offers – Zumbatomic Instructor Training. The name is not exactly intuitive, but Zumbatomic is basically Zumba for kids.

I already teach Zumba three times a week, work full-time, and blog, too. But, while I didn’t think I have the time to take on a new class, I did think it would be interesting to learn how to modify moves to make them kid-friendly, especially since I’ve had parents bring their children to class in the past.

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{Me & Shamecia}

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You won’t see a brighter (or should I say “more colorful”) group than at a Zumba training.

Oh wait…actually, you will see a MUCH brighter group here (and please check out the video on that post!).

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Anywho, the training went from 8:30-5:30 with only about an hour’s worth of breaks spread out through the day. We had a jam-packed day, people!

We started with an intro and a one hour master class (adult-style). After a quick break to change, we had lectures and learned kid-friendly choreography for the Lil Starz (ages 4-7). Then we had a short lunch break, followed by more lectures, choreography for Big Starz (ages 8-12), networking (where we broke into groups to tackle different topics and then shared our results with the whole group), modifications (how to make regular Zumba moves kid-friendly), and finally legal-type stuff (parental and legal considerations).

One of the most interesting things I learned is that Zumbatomic is becoming approved for use in schools (and for home schoolers) around the country. Your kids could be doing Zumbatomic for PE one day!

I also really loved how Zumbatomic teaches more than just dancing – it teaches confidence, respect, responsibility, team work, and much more! It seems like Zumbatomic has the potential to have such a positive impact on a child’s life in so many ways.

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Before we knew it, the day was over, and Shamecia and I were licensed Zumbatomic instructors! {Here I am getting my certificate.}

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Here we are with our ZES (Zumba Education Specialist) Loretta Bates. I first met Loretta at a master class my company sponsored for her, and I also was at her Reggaeton Rebellion session at Zumba Convention last year when Wyclef popped in and did an impromptu performance.

I loved Loretta as our ZES! She was engaging, fun, and really enthusiastic about Zumbatomic. I thought she was really in control of the training and very knowledgeable. She was wonderful!

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Before training, I wasn’t really interesting in teaching a Zumbatomic class. Like I mentioned before, I just wanted to have the knowledge of what to do for kids in my existing Zumba classes. But, now that I’ve completed the training, I kind of wish I had more time so I could teach a Zumbatomic class. Who knows where things will go in the next couple years, but for now, there’s the opportunity for me to do Zumbatomic classes at special events, like birthdays. I think that could be really fun, too!

I found a video on YouTube of a real Zumbatomic class. Aren’t they cute?

Reader question: What do you think about the Zumbatomic concept? Would you want your kids to do Zumbatomic? Why or why not?

Zumba Instructor question: If you’re not Zumbatomic certified – are you thinking about it? Do you have any questions about the training? If you are Zumbatomic certified, what do you think about teaching Zumba for kids? Any tips or suggestions?

Game Night {Cranium, Chili, & a Dance Off}

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A great game night should include the following: a fun game, a delicious meal, and a dance off.

Wait.

Oh, that’s just what we did with our game night this past weekend.

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My friend Erica and I hosted a game night at The Chic House.

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Our friends aren’t the biggest fans of cooking, but we had a great solution. Erica made chili, I was in charge of corn bread, and we asked everyone else to simply bring chili toppings. Okay, so we also asked my friend Sarah to make her famous cheesecake, but other than that, we left things pretty simple.

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I had a bowl of chili with onions (a first for me, and it was awesome) and plenty of cheese.

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And Erica does her chili Cincinati-style – with pasta. It’s a pretty awesome way to eat chili, and I definitely recommend it, if you’ve never tried it.

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Dessert included Sarah’s cheesecake and some chocolate chip dough balls I whipped up earlier that day.

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After eating, the gaming began. The word box was definitely my least favorite, while the drawing one was my most favorite. I’m pretty terrible at real trivia, but luckily, my other teammates picked up my slack on the red box. And Sarah and I split up the green box, which made for an interesting show.

My favorite moment was probably when Sarah chose a green card and kept making faces after reading it that screamed, “I have no idea how to act out this person.” She sighed, lifted up her arms and went “RAWR!” My teammate Amy screamed “The Hulk!”, and I followed up with “Shrek!” As it turns out, Shrek was correct. I still can’t believe we won that round in about 3 seconds from her interesting impersonation.

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After my team lost, we held a quick Jekyll dance-off. Okay, it randomly came about, but it was still pretty awesome. I’d never seen “the Jekyll” before, but we convinced Shamecia’s SO to show us, and after some serious pleading, he gave in. I tried to find a YouTube video of what this dance looks like, but I can’t find one. It’s sorta similar to what this guy looks like after he drinks his concoction – think shaky hands. It’s a joke dance…sort of like “The Bernie.” You’ve seen that one, right?

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By the way, thanks for the sweet comments on my last outfit post!

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Reader question: What’s your favorite board game?

Loose Blouse + Skinnies {Outfit}

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I was on the fence about posting this outfit because it’s so simple, but I’ve realized something about myself style-wise. I like simple, and that’s okay. In a world of amazing fashion bloggers like The Blonde Salad and Atlantic Pacific, I sometimes wonder why I even bother posting photos of my (by comparison) boring-a$$ outfits. Maybe it’s because I’d consider myself more of an everyday fashion blogger. I guess I do it anyways because I enjoy the ability to add another dimension to my blog. But, I’d also like to take the opportunity to learn from you. Yup, you heard me right – I think it would be really cool to interact with you guys about fashion and styling and to learn from you. I mean, I’m no fashion expert. Who is? Okay, this guy is…whatever. Either way, here’s an open invitation to add your constructive criticism to my posts. I always learn so much from you guys through my other posts – whether you’re helping me correct a recipe or sharing personal advice. I’d love to hear your fashion advice, too!

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In other news, these jeans don’t quite fit me right anymore. I bought these jeans a few (several?) years ago, and I’m currently down about one size. I’ve just been too cheap to buy new ones. I’ve been lusting after a pair of Citizens for the last several years, but I’ve been waiting for the time where I could afford them, as well as, the chance to score them on discount. I just felt silly paying full price when I knew I could pay less. So, I was quite happy when I saw a coupon for ShopBop.com pop up on See Chloe Shop the other day. I finally had the money and the coupon, so I happily ordered a pair online and even got free 3 day shipping! I’ll have to post photos of my new jeans sometime soon, but they seem to fit really well so far.

Side Note: the ShopBop coupon has expired, but there’s a new one for Saks Fifth Avenue on See Chloe Shop for 20% select brands, including several popular denim designers like COH.

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But, back to the outfit, I saw somewhere (a magazine…a web site?) that people were putting brightly colored tops under see-through-ish (lace/sheer/etc.) tops, so I thought I’d play with that idea. I put an orange-red tank top under this loose-fitting blouse. I also wore red MAC lip stick, and my nails just happened to be a similar color.

Tank top: H&M
Loose Blouse: Old Navy
Skinnies: Guess
Shoes: J Crew
Bag: Ziordia
Lipstick: MAC

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Also, I posted a Note on my Facebook wall about online shopping. I’ve always used online shopping as a way to purchase things I’m 99% sure I want to buy and that will fit me (based on familiarity with sizes of the brand). But, after reading a review of several shoes purchased online by another blogger, I realized that maybe it’s okay to use online shopping to select items to try on in the comfort of your home without worrying about returning them. Click here to join the discussion. :)

Thanks for reading!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup {Recipe}

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Here’s a great meal idea for the weekend – Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup. Hey – a recipe post finally!

I know I’ve mentioned having a few recipes queued up, but you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been posting them very fast. I’m trying to focus more on putting out quality recipes than throwing up a recipe post for the sake of of blogging quickly. Not to mention, I have to read through my chicken-scratch notes and decipher all the scribbles and what not. I’ve found I have a couple recipes that I’m going to need to re-make so I can ensure I have accurate information for the recipe. I also have a couple recipes (like the Breakfast Cookies I mentioned on Facebook) that I’d like to continue tweaking. I’m trying to focus more on quality than quantity, but that’s not always the fastest method. Thanks for your patience! :)

(Now, watch me make more errors in the next couple recipes than ever before…Murphy’s law!)

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But, back to this post…I first made this soup so long ago, I’m going to be honest – I don’t remember exactly how it came about. I do remember having leftover rotisserie chicken and being on somewhat of a tex-mex kick. It was also January, and I was craving something cozy and warm…like soup.

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This recipe is hardly even a recipe, really. You just toss all the ingredients in a slow cooker and turn it on. But, since I know people like ingredient measurements and cook times, I’ll go ahead and share mine.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup {Recipe}
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Here’s a great way to use up leftover cooked (or rotisserie) chicken, which gets transformed into this tasty, tex-mex style soup thanks to some simple ingredients and a slow cooker. Anywho, this recipe is pretty forgiving. I added my favorite tex-mex ingredients, but feel free to switch your faves in/out.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 cups chicken broth/stock (1 32-ounce box)
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (I used about ½ a leftover rotisserie chicken but any type will do)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (with juices)
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ large onion (or 1 small), chopped (about 1 cup-ish)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon salt (err on the side of using less if you’re going to top your soup with tortilla chips)
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pepper, to taste
  • grated cheese, optional, to top the soup
  • tortilla chips, optional, to top the soup
  • fresh cilantro, chopped, optional, to top the soup
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a slow cooker. Stir to combine.
  2. Cook on low heat for 4-6 hours, until vegetables are tender to your liking. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Note: Remember to go light on the salt if you’re topping your soup with tortilla chips.
  3. Serve with your preferred toppings, like grated cheese, tortilla chips, and fresh cilantro. Enjoy!
Notes
Serves approximately 4-6, depending on serving size.

Definitely serve this with tortilla chips. I went low on the salt on this recipe since tortilla chips are already so salty. If you skip the tortilla chips, you may want to add some additional salt, to taste. Oh, and please add some cheese. The hot soup, crispy tortilla chips and melty cheese is what really made this dish special for me.

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You may also like:

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Happy cooking!

By the way, would anyone be interested in a stove-top (and faster) version of this recipe? I’d be happy to play with a different preparation method. Leave me a comment if you are.

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Reader questions: Are you planning to make anything fun food-wise this weekend? What are your favorite tex-mex ingredients?

Baby Clueless

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Confession time, people – I am baby clueless.

I’m going to go ahead and place blame on my parents for not having more family friends over to the house and not exposing me to other children at a younger age. In their defense, my mom’s family is in the Philippines, and my dad’s family is pretty much all up north, so we didn’t have much family around growing up. But, my dad traveling for work didn’t help. I mean, it’s hard to have friends over when you’re not there, right? But in all seriousness, I really am jealous of the 12 year olds (and other kiddos) I see walking around helping their mom’s or mom’s friends out with their infants. They know how to hold them, change their diapers, and make them giggle. At 12, they already know more than I do about babies. *sigh* It’s not that I don’t want to know more about them, I just don’t. Someone please tell me that this doesn’t mean I will be a failure whenever I decide to finally become a mother. *fingers crossed*

Anywho, I went to my friend’s baby shower this past week, and in the tradition of all busy, working girls (ok, maybe it’s just me), I stopped on the way to the shower to pick up a gift.

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Ahh…the baby superstore (aka store of confusion for the baby-clueless). I always feel so lost in these places. Luckily, these stores usually have a really great registry system and helpful people to show you exactly where things are so you don’t get too lost.

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Dog toys? Not so much.

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I’ll get the hang of this one day.

Easy Champagne Punch

They had a really great drink at the shower – champagne punch. It’s basically strawberry slices, a bottle of champagne, and a can of Fresca. If you let the strawberries sit in the cup for awhile, they get all zippy, which makes them really fun to eat.

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{The spread}

They had a great assortment of food.

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The shower was from 3-5 and I’d already eaten lunch, so I got a little bit of a couple things to taste. I especially liked the chicken salad and bean salad.

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And who doesn’t love a cupcake?

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I know I do!

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The baby shower was lovely. Everyone was so friendly, and the vibe was super low key and comfortable.

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They even had fun games. This is my all-time favorite baby shower game – gift -BINGO! We played this while my friend opened her gifts. If she opened a gift on your sheet, you got to ‘X’ it. Unfortunately, I didn’t win, but I did have a great time playing at least!!

Reader question: Are you baby clueless or a baby expert? Or maybe somewhere in between? Any other baby-clueless peeps who now have babies? Tell me there’s hope for me!! :)

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