Carob Cherry Oatmeal + Busy Signs

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Have you tried carob oatmeal yet?!

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Do itttttt! It’s divine! If you’re getting sick of oatmeal, add a teaspoon of ground carob to your oats and it will give your bowl of oats a whole new flavor!

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Today, I made Carob-Cherry Oatmeal. Nom!

I’ve had a couple requests for how to cook oatmeal, so I’m going to break it down today. :)

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Carob-Cherry Oatmeal

For 2 people who like small oatmeal portions

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk or non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp carob powder (ground)
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds, optional
  • 6 seeded and halved cherries
  • sprinkle of sliced almonds, optional

Directions:

  1. Combine oats, water, milk, chia seeds, carob powder and agave in a small pot over medium low heat.
  2. Heat mixture till thickened to your preference, careful to not boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve in bowls and add cherries on top with any additional toppings you want.
  4. Enjoy!

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Lunch was super weak. I was planning to go to the grocery store first thing this morning, but instead of being off, I had to work! :( I scrounged around in the freezer to come up with this: a TJ’s soy “corn dog”, a corn muffin (re-baked from a frozen batch), and peas.

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For a snack, I had a micro-baked sweet potato with a dab of real butter and a wee bit of brown sugar.

Then, it was time for ZUMBA! I was super tired in class today. I think it’s because I was stressed about work today and not doing a great job of hydrating. Doh! I downed a coconut water pretty fast near the beginning of class and was actually feeling more energized towards the end of the class than the beginning. Guess that stuff really works!

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Hubby cooked dinner tonight – a little concoction of his own. Bulgogi over brown rice.

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For dessert, we had cookies we got from our neighbor! Woohoo! Our first neighborly perk. :)

Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve had a day off with nothing major to do. I have a million things I could be doing, but I’m just not sure where to start! I feel like I’ve waited so long to have a free day of my very own. Normally, I feel like I rush from one to-do to another, barely accomplishing the must-dos (work, eat, sleep, Zumba, blog) in a day. Now that I have a free day, I’m so excited! I just have so many ideas I’ve wanted to execute and fun things I’ve wanted to do for so long that I want to do ALL of them! I am trying to get organized, though. I actually have a to-do list I’ve started and am hoping to share tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a funny little list that I put together about being busy all the time.

Top 5 Signs You’re Too Busy

  1. Your email inbox has more than 1000 unread emails (ok, maybe closer to 5000…yikes!)
  2. You’ve waited 2 years to buy a laptop so you don’t have to rely on your desktop and can work away from home. You got your laptop 2 weeks ago. You haven’t had the chance to even crack open the box.
  3. You find yourself blogging half asleep after midnight because it’s the only time you can do it.
  4. Your clean laundry sits in piles on your couch because you haven’t had time to fold it yet.
  5. Your significant other asks when they can see you again…and you live with them.

Reader question #1: What’s your sign you’re too busy?

Reader question #2: What do you like to do with your days off from work?

Homemade-Better Oats + Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

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Two work days down…only one to go before I get to enjoy some vacation time! Yay!

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Breakfast this morning was extra yummy thanks to two homemade ingredients.

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homemade almond butter

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and homemade granola.

I know it seems like a lot for so many homemade things to be in my eats, and two years ago I would have scoffed at myself like…really…WHO makes their own almond butter. But, I do. And it’s easy. You could do it too…promise.

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The almond butter and granola made the oats over the top.

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By the way, the chic-turquoise spoon really helped breakfast taste better, too. hehe

In today’s bowl of oatmeal:

  • extra-thick oats
  • milk
  • water
  • chia seeds
  • cocoa powder
  • banana
  • chocolate chips
  • coconut flakes
  • homemade granola
  • homemade almond butter

Nom!

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In other news, Bailey has figured out a new trick.

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He has mastered the art of finding the coziest, plushest, and most comfortable spot on any resting area. Note his body stretched across two pillows and one blanket. Nice, dog…nice.

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Hubby picked up Which Wich for lunch for us, but I added some cooked veg to complete our meal – steamed cabbage and baby carrots.

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Pickles.

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Plus a WW chicken sandwich, BBQ sandwich, lettuce, pepperoncini.

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The boys are liking the new couch.

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Oh and I have a new dough ball flavor for you!

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Inspired by Annie the Baker

*Be sure to check out the original – chocolate chip dough balls – click for recipe*

*Update – I’ve made a new variation – Butterscotch Oatmeal Dough Balls! Click for the recipe*

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 stick butter, softened/room-temp
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg (or flaxseed-egg)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup toffee chips (I used Heath)
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix sugars and butter till creamy. (I used a handheld mixer, but you could probably just use a whisk). Add egg and vanilla and mix till combined.
  4. Mix wet into the dry. Note: it will appear there is not enough liquid for the amount of dry ingredients, but continue mixing. It will form into a dough, it will just be a firm dough. See tips above for combining. Careful to not overmix.
  5. Gently fold toffee and chocolate chips into the dough, without overmixing.
  6. Refrigerate dough for at least 20 minutes before using a small sorbet scoop to scoop out dough into small mounds. Roll each mound into a ball and spread evenly on a baking sheet, leaving roughly 2-3 inches between each ball.
  7. Bake balls for 10-14 minutes, depending on how set you want your centers. If you use egg, and you’re paranoid like me, you can use a meat thermometer to ensure the centers of the balls are at least 160 degrees F, which many web sites say is the safe temp to eat eggs.
  8. Let your dough balls rest on the baking sheet to cool at least 5-10 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

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Oh yes! Another tasty dough ball flavor comin atcha! Booyah!

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I brought a couple dough balls to Zumba tonight. Gina and Jane thoroughly enjoyed them. :)

Btw, zumba class was awesome! I’m now on 3 days in a row! I’m not teaching this week, but I do still go to classes of other instructors. I helped lead Aaja Soniye and Alright. Alright is one of my new faves. It’s a hot Pitbull track and I highly recommend downloading it because it’s F-U-N!!! I just wish I could show you our dance to the song.

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On my way home from class, I swung by Pasta & Provisions to get some fresh spaghetti.

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Oh and some of their famous rosemary foccacia.

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Hubby and I did a simple spaghetti dinner tonight.

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Is anything better than fresh pasta?

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Maybe dough balls? ;)

One more work day and it’s turkey time! I’m also looking forward to spending some time with family and hopefully picking up some of my unfinished crochet and knitting projects. I’m oh-so-good at starting them and not-so-good at finishing them. lol

Are you traveling for Thanksgiving? Where are you going or how far away from home?

Chai Tea Fun + Butterscotch Oatmeal Dough Balls Recipe

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By 3pm today, I had completed several kitchen projects:

  • eggs + biscuits for breakfast
  • chai tea infused caramels
  • pot roast (prepped and in the slow cooker)
  • butterscotch oatmeal dough balls
  • chai tea infused granola

Phew! It was a busy Sunday! As a 9-to-5 working woman, most of my kitchen projects get squeezed into the weekend, so I have to make the most of my free time.

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Most of my goodies were centered around this – chai tea, but there was a lot going on in the kitchen in general today.

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I had Ball Jars cleaned and drying out.

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Mom’s pot roast (click for recipe) prepped and in the slow cooker.

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A new dough ball flavor chilling and waiting to be baked.

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Baking sheets waiting for those dough balls to be ready to bake.

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Chai tea infused caramels cooking stove top. (I found out later the caramel was hard! Boo…guess I’ll have to try the recipe again and cook for less time?) Does any one know what causes hard caramel?

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Chai tea infused granola slowly turning golden in the oven. (The recipe needs tweaking before I share it here on the blog)

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As I’ve mentioned many times before here on The Chic Life, I am trying to move away from using plastics.

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I’ve been trying to move towards using glass.

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I wanted to get some of those glass containers with the flip-open top and silver lever that you press down to seal. However, those aren’t nearly as cost-effective.

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So, I got some quart-sized Ball jars a la Emily and will be moving some of my grains and dried beans around. So far, so good!

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But here’s what I’m guessing you really wanted…

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oh yes…a new dough ball flavor! I actually have two to share with you, but first…

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Butterscotch Oatmeal Dough Balls! I actually had one failed batch before I found success with this flavor. Substituting oats for flour is not an easy thing when you’re going for a particular texture. My first attempt turned out like regular (delicious, but flatter) cookies. But, today I found success! Hooray!

Butterscotch Oatmeal Dough Balls

Inspired by Annie the Baker

Makes 14-18 (depending on how you size them)

Be sure to check out my chocolate chip dough balls (click for recipe)!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 stick butter, softened/room-temp
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg (or flaxseed-egg)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix sugars and butter till creamy. (I used a handheld mixer, but you could probably just use a whisk). Add egg and vanilla and mix till combined.
  4. Mix wet into the dry. Note: it will appear there is not enough liquid for the amount of dry ingredients, but continue mixing. It will form into a dough, it will just be a firm dough. Careful to not overmix.
  5. Gently fold butterscotch chips into the dough, without overmixing.
  6. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes (yes, more than the chocolate chip dough balls) before using a small sorbet scoop to scoop out dough into small mounds. Roll each mound into a ball and spread evenly on a baking sheet, leaving roughly 2-3 inches between each ball.
  7. Bake balls for 10-14 minutes, depending on how set you want your centers. If you use egg, and you’re paranoid like me, you can use a meat thermometer to ensure the centers of the balls are at least 160 degrees F, which many web sites say is the safe temp to eat eggs.
  8. Let your dough balls rest on the baking sheet to cool at least 5-10 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

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These may be more irresistible than the chocolate chip version. I can’t tell. Can you?

***

Anywho, after my kitchen fun, I headed out for an afternoon session of Zumba! I was late for class (I was just attending…not teaching) but still had an awesome time. I left with such a great Zumba-high. You may have seen the following Facebook update on my TCL FB Page or on Twitter:

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:)

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I came home, twittered with some friends, took a shower, and made mashed potatoes to go with the delish pot roast.

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By the way,I’ve been working on an “Artistic Alcatraz” set of photos to share with you guys, which I’ve created using photos I took when I visited Alcatraz a couple weeks ago. The photos are looking really cool, and I can’t wait to share them. Here’s a sneak peek. ;)

I’m off to watch some football with hubby and cuddle with Bailey before bed. I have a short work week ahead, so I’m excited! Hopefully a lot of people will be out of the office, too, so things will be nice and quiet. I am ready for some easier work days…and holidays!

Portable Breakfast #3 – Sip + Chew Oatmeal And New House Goodies

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It was fun reading about your responses on the whole acupuncture experience!

I hope you guys have been enjoying the Portable Breakfast series on The Chic Life this week. So far, I’ve featured two other breakfasts you can enjoy on-the-go here and here.

WIthout further adieu, here’s our next morning meal for your busiest days…

Portable Breakfast #3 – Sip + Chew Oatmeal

Ok, I know what you’re thinking…sip…and…chew? While I find that oatmeal is far and above better when enjoyed spoonful by spoonful from your favorite oatmeal bowl…when you’re short on time, oatmeal in a cup is better than no oatmeal at all. I mean, sometimes, you just really, really want oatmeal. Not a smoothie, not toast…oatmeal. So, here’s your solution. And while I suppose you could whip up oatmeal and throw it in a blender so you can skip that whole chew part (and while I do have an oatmeal smoothie recipe in the works), I believe oatmeal of this kind should still be chewed.

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So, why sip the oatmeal? Because, unless you’re able to take public transportation to work, you’re probably going to need your hands to drive your car, etc. By sipping the oatmeal, your hands are free to take care of business.

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Step 1: Gather your ingredients and oatmeal pot (or a bowl if you’re going to microwave)

I really like oatmeal because it hits all the key points I try to get in my breakfast: whole grains, fruit, protein and the ability to add healthful add-ins like chia seeds.

Today, I used (to make oatmeal for me & hubby – he’s not a big oatmeal eater:

Note: I don’t typically use extra sweeteners. I prefer to get the natural sweeteners from the fruit, but feel free to add yours to taste.

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Step 2: Prepare ingredients, as needed

A blended fruit or veggie like applesauce or pumpkin would probably be your best bet for a fruit add-in, but I really like bananas. I also really don’t like mashed bananas in my oatmeal, so I just chopped mine, but mashed bananas would probably be better on the go.

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Step 3: Cook oats stovetop (or in the microwave)

A couple general stovetop oats notes:

  • I cook my oats on a medium low heat setting
  • I add my oats, water, milk, and chia seeds straightaway
  • I add the banana slices near the end of cooking

A couple notes for sip + chew oats:

  • You want the consistency to be pretty liquid-y so it’s easy to sip. Otherwise, it will be difficult to eat from a cup.
  • If your oatmeal gets too thick, you can add extra milk or water while you’re cooking to help it thin out.

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Step 4: Add toppings

I like to add my protein via a nut butter and nut/seed toppings. Some oatmeal can have a fair amount of protein, so check your label. The one I’m using today has 7g per 1/2 cup, but I like to get extra from the nut butters, since the protein helps you stay full.

You can also add other toppings here, but I recommend sticking with things that are small or easy to eat since you won’t be using a spoon.

For toppings, I used:

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I added my cooked oats and toppings in a bowl to show you, but you can add it straight to your container for transportation of choice.

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Step 5: Stir

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And if for some reason your almond/etc butter gets stuck to your spoon…well…

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…you know what to do.

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Step 6: Add your oats to a container for transportation and enjoy (if you haven’t already)

For a container for transporting your oats, I recommend the same thing you used for your smoothie – an insulated thermos. They’ll keep your oats warm, off your lap, off of the interior of your car (if you do it right), and will fit nicely in your cup-holders so you don’t have to look around for somewhere to put a bowl (as you may be able to tell…I’ve tried that before). I also recommend while you’re transporting the the oatmeal you leave the top on to prevent spills, but you can remove the top once you’ve settled into your car (or on the bus, etc.).

That’s it…if you got your oatmeal to the right consistency, it should be pretty easy to sip and chew when you’re on-the-go. Just think of it as pouring bites into your mouth instead of getting them off your spoon. Remember to try to stick with toppings and mixins that are easy to chew.

Btw, other options, if you don’t want to sip your oatmeal are to use an insulated container and enjoy your oats when you get to your destination/office or bring ingredients with you and make your oats at your destination/office. You don’t have to sip it…that’s just another option for you busy bees.

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Cleaning tip: fill your pot with water once you’re done. If you let oatmeal sit on your pot all day, it will cake on and be difficult to remove. If you soak your pot, the oatmeal should come off very easily, even after only several minutes (though I do often let mine soak all day and clean when I come home from work, depending on how hectic my morning is). I do try to let the pot come to room temperature before I add water because I heard sudden changes in temperature can ruin a non-stick finish.

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And here’s a photo of Bailey from this afternoon because you guys asked for it. :)

***

I fiiinally have a house update to share with you guys! You may remember hubby and I fell in love with a couch and chair set at Macy’s late last year, but have been too short on funds to purchase it. We’ve been stalking the set for the last year in hopes we’d find a floor sample or a major sale, but alas…the sale never came.

Lucky for us, hubby has been checking Craigslist on a regular basis and recently found the very couch set we wanted there!

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For the first time in over a year, the formal living room has furniture in it. Literally, the only thing in this living room for what feels like forever was the rug…and eventually the buffet.

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Bailey loves both the new couch and chair.

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I love them both! Plus Bailey and definitely plus hubby for finding this amazing furniture for us! :)

***

Check back later for my next post on a new twist on stir-fries, plus new kitchen goodies!

***

Btw, I asked my Facebook friends (click) for one word to describe The Chic Life and they said:

  • Chic ;)
  • Fabulous/Fab
  • Creative
  • Fun

You guys make me smile…thank you!

***

Have you ever wanted to purchase something (doesn’t have to be furniture) but had to wait a long time to get it? What’s your shopping story?

Chocolate Pumpkin Oats + Share TCL!

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Quick Updates

We have our first Healthy Thanksgiving Challenge 2010 entry! Click here to check out the challenge and the entry…it’s a goodie!

Oh and in case you missed it, I posted the recipes I promised recently:

In case you need ideas for dinner and stuff.

***

Eats!

As for today, I had a brainstorm this morning for breakfast. I like pumpkin oatmeal. I like chocolate pumpkin bread. So why not make chocolate-pumpkin oatmeal!?

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Oh yea!

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Hot coffee.

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Per the usual, my chocolate oats look decadent, but they really aren’t that sweet.

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I used unsweetened cocoa powder and only added a little maple syrup as my natural sweetener.

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On top: flaxseed meal, walnuts, cacao nibs.

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Hello beautiful!

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I made hubby and me love-bugs…err…love-mugs today full of hot tea. He had Tulsi and I had Yogi Echinacea.

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Yogi tea quote of the day: “You are infinite.

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Which Wich for lunch. I haven’t had this in awhile since I don’t like to order sandwiches out (because I don’t like to buy things out that I can easily make at home), but there’s something about the crispy-edged bread that is so appealing.

I had the Chicken Philly (which was surprisingly light – I think because they used deli meat) with provolone, lettuce, and tomato.

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Someone was sleepy today. That’s what he gets for being so restless the other night! lol

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Hubby was in charge of dinner again. He made grilled chicken with that Bahamian blackened seasoning, micro-baked potatoes (sweet for me, russet for him) and grilled broccolini.

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I enjoyed my sweet potato with a bit of real butter and a dusting of brown sugar.

***

Bloggie Updates – Share The Chic Life

And now for some blog updates. You may have noticed that a couple things have been changing here on The Chic Life. I’m especially excited about some updates related to sharing content. I hope you find my blog useful and a good resource for not only you, but for your family, friends, and co-workers. I’m hoping that the changes I’ve made over the last couple weeks will make my blog more share-friendly so you can better utilize my posts and recipes.

Read a recipe you liked? Why not Facebook-like it to share it with your friends?

Did I blog about some tips that you think your BFF would like, now you can email it, tweet it, or share it a number of other ways with the click of a button. Just look for the icon representing the share-method you want to utilize.

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And, of course, I always, ALWAYS love reading your comments. They offer me support and encouragement to keep doing what I do here on The Chic Life. Not to mention you guys have some pretty fantastic advice and ideas, so please keep ‘em coming! :)

Also, do I have any readers who work in offices? I’m going to be starting a new set of posts geared towards the working woman (or man). First post goes up tomorrow! Woohoo!

So, who will be the first to Facebook-like something here on The Chic Life? ;)

Candied Pecan Topped Oatmeal

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TGIF Friends! This week has been sooo long! Know what I mean? I’m so ready for the weekend!

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I was so excited to share some photos from breakfast with you guys today that I had to take a lil break from work today to post, instead of waiting till after work.

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I used the last of my frozen steel cut oats from my “oatmeal factory” awhile back for today’s breakfast.

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I just mixed in half a mashed (very-well-ripened banana), plus some 1% organic milk (you could use non-dairy milk to make your version vegan) and chia seeds.

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To top, I added ground flaxseed meal and the last of my vegan candied pecans (click for this fast and easy recipe). Boy did they make an amazing topping, folks! Look for those candied pecans again soon…they’re way too easy to not make again in the near future.

Remember to tell me how you dress up your t-shirt and jeans by clicking here and adding a comment. I love reading about your ideas!

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