Tag Archives: Target

Let’s Talk About Christmas Lists

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas Lists. You see, I’ve always enjoyed the tradition of paging through catalogs around the table after Thanksgiving, each family member attempting to jog memories of all the things they desperately needed throughout the year but can’t seem to remember when the blank yellow pad of paper is in front of them.

Who doesn’t need a new pair of fuzzy LLBean slippers? I could use another blanket for the couch. One can never have enough cable knit throws, can they? Nope. Especially when one lives in a tropical climate. 

let's talk about christmas lists, christmas ideas,

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas lists because my love language is gift giving. I get it from my Nana. And while I love the idea of getting someone something that is written on their Christmas list, there’s an internal struggle I have each year around this time between buying what’s on the list and buying what’s NOT on the list.

Yep. I’m that girl. The girl who wrecks her brain for weeks trying to come up themes for everyone’s gifts, crafty and homemade additions to the gifts or, if the Christmas magic is really with her, the perfect gift for the person who doesn’t necessarily know what the perfect gift is. That, my friends, is the spirit of Christmas if you’re a gift giver at heart. Well, that and the birth of Jesus, but the Magi have that one covered.

And depending on your family and the members in it, you may fall on one side or another when it comes to gift lists, too.

There’s the mom who stuffs her purse with various iterations of other people’s lists but never really manages to end up with anything on hers. It’s ok though. Stick with anything that smells good, feels soft or keeps her warm, preferably in a neutral shade and you’re good to go.

Or the older nephew who unlike any other 9 year-old in town, tells you he doesn’t really need anything this year.

Or the sister who every day leading up to Christmas is very interested in what’s on every other family member’s list yet only manages to list one gift on her own. And a very small one at that.

And if we’re talking about lists, I’d be remiss to not mention the dad who if he’s anything like my dad, Murfs up any holiday with his version of a wish list. You may remember the years he spent asking for a conga drum so he could…

“…jam at some gigs with some cool cats.” 

Or the Father’s Day request for the book, Five Strides on the Banked Track: The Life and Times of the Roller Derby

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised then when I received an email from my dad with the subject line: “Dad’s xmas list add-on” a link that led us here.

Just a houseboat add-on to this year’s list huh, Murf? Let’s not discuss the barriers to gifting the aforementioned item such as loan restrictions, satellite installation for his DVR habit or the simple fact that he still resides in the Midwest. Those things aside, for the past 275 days or so, I’ve been reminded about the houseboat interest via text message and in conversation. The barriers to the now digitally recorded wish list item are endless yet the drive still seems to be there.

The gift of list making is strong with this one.

So I remind you as you open your Christmas presents this year, consider the gift giver’s intention before you scoff at those bracelets you assumed were napkin rings.

After all, as I was told my great-grandfather used to say each time this year,

We all got all too G*d D*mn much. 

Happy Holidays!


Workout Wednesday

It’s been a while since I did a Workout Wednesday post so I figured I’d enlighten you today.

workout wednesday, simply social blog, workout tips, exercises

I’m sure you all have been wondering what I’ve been doing with all my free time lately. No? Oh that’s right you probably don’t have time to sit around and consider what I’m doing with my time but lucky for you I’ll tell you anyway.

I’m trying to make a living of this whole housewife thing but in just over 10 days I’ve determined that I really suck at it. The boxes are long unpacked, the cabinets organized and one can only rearrange picture frames so many times before she feels the eyes following her across the house. My name is Sarah and I completely suck at free time. This move has solidified the fact that I am at my best within a tight timeframe. Give me 3 hours before a big party and man can I crank things out. But if I’m faced with too much time on my hands, I can be just about as unproductive as they come.

Now I know I’m barking up the wrong palm tree as I will be begging for days like this when I’m back in the 9-5 world but in the meantime I’m going just a little bit crazy. I have managed to make a few friends at the dog park, though. Human friends for those of you assuming my only conversations are with canines recently (most are).

I do venture out beyond our local dog park each day. I may or may not have visited SuperTarget 3 times in 4 days last week. Not completely out of the realm for normal Sarah but bordering the line of excess. In an effort to curb spending and get out of the house, I’ve been getting to know people at our new gym. I’m typically not one to strike up a conversation during a workout, but when the only responses you’ve had all morning were head tilts and barks, you take what you can get. I suppose the same could be credited for this lengthy blog post as well.

greater swiss mountain dog, finn, swissy, gsmd, puppy,

After several months off from working out with my trainer, I’ve been feeling the proverbial wrath after each workout.  In fact, my triceps and pecs are fatigued just typing on my keyboard and my butt is entirely way too sore for this squishy of a chair.

So today I’m going to take you through a basic ‘warm-up’ that Matt and I do before we begin lifting. I don’t have any pictures because I was too busy trying not to let my legs burn off but it’s pretty straightforward. Try it and you too can get a body like this, farmer’s tan and all!


Start with one mile on the treadmill or 5 minutes on a spin bike keeping your RPM above 100. If you don’t have a display on your spin bike, try to keep your heart rate above 140 the entire time.

Continue your warm up in an open fitness studio or free corner of your gym. Repeat the following body weight exercises without resting:

  • Squats-30
  • Push-ups (use your knees if needed)-10
  • Alternating forward lunges-20
  • Push-ups-10
  • Side lunges-10 each side (20 total)
  • Push-ups-10
  • Ab exercise-1 minute (planks, v-ups, or bicycle crunches)
  • Squats-30
  • Push-ups (use your knees if needed)-10
  • Alternating forward lunges-20 
  • Push-ups-10
  • Side lunges-10 each side (20 total)
  • Push-ups-10
  • Ab exercise-1 minute (planks, v-ups, or bicycle crunches)

Congratulations, you’re ready for your workout now. Or if you’re like me, you’re ready to go home.

And to help out with that post-workout thirst or recovery the next day, I’ve been making my green juice on repeat lately.

easy green juice recipe, kale and spinach juice, green juice, healthy juice recipes, green smoothie recipe


Easy Green Juice

  • 1/2 Banana (frozen or ripe)
  • 1/4 C chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 apple, peeled
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • Big bunch spinach and Kale
  • 1 tsp honey
  • fresh ginger
  • Ice

Add first 7 ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice and blend. Plop in a fun straw and drink up!

easy green juice recipe, kale and spinach juice, green juice, healthy juice recipes, green smoothie recipe


Have a great workout! I’m off to Target.


In the holiday spirit

Before you start reading go ahead and click that little button above this sentence and join me in grooving to some Brenda Lee on this snowy Monday morning. Oh and try not to picture Kevin McCallister as you listen. If you are any generation near me, or have kids in any generation near me you’ll appreciate this reference. If not, just enjoy the music gosh darn it.

Can you tell I’ve been drinking the holiday kool-aid punch? I hope you have been too. After all, we can’t let a few Black Friday maulings ruin the holiday season for us now can we?

This weekend I finally got a chance to do a little decorating and celebrating for the upcoming holiday. I say little because I’ve made the practical-yet-saddening decision to not get a real Christmas tree this year.

greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, puppy

Finn’s photo above sums up my feelings towards the decision.

But in reality, he’s ultimately behind the decision. All 80 pounds of him.

I may still change my mind on the decision.

Don’t worry this isn’t a Lebron-style special on the decision.

I’m just sad because I love little more than to get myself covered in glitter and sap while decorating a real Christmas tree. But there’s just not enough room this year. So instead I decorated my baby tree and turned my bookshelf into a mantle, complete with DIY stockings.

DIY mini stockings, Target, plaid DIY stockings

Did I just throw out the D-I-Y? Don’t break out in hives folks, these are very simple DIY stockings.

DIY mini stockings, Target, plaid DIY stockings

Step one. Get a box.

Just kidding. Step one is to buy those cute mini stockings from Target. Stockings are usually way too pricey for what you are getting (a giant sock) but these are only $3.00 so there’s really no excuse not to buy them.

Step two is as simple as cutting out shapes or letters and gluing them onto your $3.00 stocking. If you don’t feel comfortable free-handing your letters, you could use stickers, felt shapes or buy them while you are Target. Of course they have twine-wrapped letters to go with your mini-stocking. It’s Target!

DIY mini stockings, Target, plaid DIY stockings

Step three. Now here’s where it gets tricky, hang your stockings up.

DIY mini stockings, Target, plaid DIY stockings

But the holidays aren’t just about decorating now are they?

holiday party tablescape, mini christmas tree, holiday punch

Nope. How can we forget the parties.

On Saturday night, one of my former roommates/life partner and friend hosted a holiday dinner for our other former roommates/friends and their now life partners. Are you confused yet?

Christmas tablescape,christmas leggings, Christmas tree

We sipped holiday punch, sat around the fire and had a delicious meal. We don’t get together as much as we used to, so it was really nice to share some laughs. Don’t worry I didn’t wear my Christmas leggings to the party, I just needed another photo to fill the collage. But how sweet are my new reindeer leggings? Surely I will get my money’s worth as it’s not like these are specific to the month of December or anything.

note: I realize this is the longest post ever. Feel free to pause here and come back Wednesday if you need a break. 

Back to the party. I brought a kale, apple and pomegranate salad, the token cranberry salsa and a batch of sweet potato and rosemary biscuits. We didn’t need them of course, but they turned out pretty well for a first-try.

sweet potato rosemary biscuits, savory scones, holiday recipes

I knew when I saw these from Two Peas and their Pod that I had to try them out. We had a few leftover so the next night I re-heated them in the oven and they were even tastier the next day.

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Biscuits

  • 2 1/4 C  flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt (I use kosher)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 TBL fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 6 TBL unsalted butter
  • 1 C diced roasted sweet potatoes
  • 1 C buttermilk

I had a bag of pre-cut sweet potatoes so I just roasted them at 375 degrees for 25 minutes with a little olive oil and rosemary before I made the dough. Once they cooled a bit, I just chopped the potatoes into smaller pieces.

sweet potato rosemary biscuits, savory scones, holiday recipes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line jelly roll pan with silpat.

Whisk flour, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add fresh garlic and rosemary. Cut butter in with pastry fork or hands. Fold in sweet potato then add buttermilk. You may need a teaspoon more or less depending on how dry your dough is. It should be sticky and not fall apart.

Once dough is combined, flatten into a circle and divide it in two. Cut each half into triangles and place on prepared pan. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are golden.

sweet potato rosemary biscuits, savory scones, holiday recipes

Now grab your biscuit, pour yourself a glass of holiday punch and jam out to some tunes, ya filthy animal.

Trial and Error, Peanut Butter and Chocolate

Do you ever have those weekends where you have one million errands to run, few commitments to get in the way of them and then it’s Sunday night and your checklist only has one thing crossed off? Yeah, me too.

It’s not often that I go into a weekend without it being entirely booked. I spend a lot of them visiting friends and family, celebrating birthdays, babies and brides. And believe it or not it’s typically these booked weekends in which I’m most productive. Anyone else work best like that?

Bueller? Bueller?

Large open time frames and I are not friends. If given an open time frame on a Saturday in, oh let’s just say Target, I tend to comb every aisle, stopping often to stare and random items that I would never have noticed on a normal trip. This stop is usually followed by an internal dialogue that goes something like this:

Huh, I didn’t know Target sold floral patterned microfiber cloths?

Those are pretty. I like the colors. I wish I had a yard with flowers like that.

I do need to dust. Man, my place is dusty.

Ok, I’ll just put these in my cart and think about it for the rest of the trip.

Maybe I should buy some furniture polish to go with my new flower microfiber cloths?

Oh Target, you got me again.

Now where I fail in terms of loads of free time, I make up in efficiency when a last-minute project is on the line. You may be thinking:

But Sarah, if you gave yourself more time you wouldn’t have to ice elephant cookies at midnight or fluff pom pons 15 minutes before guests arrive, or attempt an intricate chalk drawing the morning of a wedding.

And you would be right. But then I’d probably say,

Psshhh! What’s the fun in that?

The moral of the story is while I had a lot of projects penciled in for this weekend, I have little to show for it. My frames are still sitting on their corresponding bookshelves, my “spring” wreath is in pieces and my herb pots are still sitting on my balcony, waiting for soil, seed and water.

I won’t tell you that all I did this weekend was nap. I’m not a napper. Not one of those who can come home, yawn and say, Oh I think I’ll take a nap now. I’m what they may call an accidental napper. And I don’t mean in terms of narcolepsy, but rather that if I do manage to actually sit down on a Saturday after a very warm 12 miler and the current episode of House Hunters isn’t engaging enough for me, I may fall asleep. And accidentally nap I did.

greater swiss mountain dog simply social blog

They say dogs can sense your mood. I’d have to agree.

And then I made cookies. For the second time in three days. My girlfriend had baked the most delicious gluten free cookies a few weeks prior at Ravinia and I’d been thinking about them ever since. This may or may not be because I ate the whole bag halfway between Darius singing “Wagon Wheel” and “Alright.” Alright is right. I have a cookie problem.

Anywho, I had a girl’s dinner last week and wanted to bring something to contribute. That and I knew if I made them and kept them in my house I’d have a Ravinia binge fest all over again. In hindsight attempting these cookies at 10:30 on a Tuesday night was probably the first indication that they might not turn out very well, but when I got halfway through the recipe only to find that I had but 1/4 cup left of the oats I buy in bulk on the regular, I was nearly defeated. And so I improvised leaving me with cookies that were tasty, but flat and ugly.

flourless gluten free chocolate chip peanut butter cookies simply social blog

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup of peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups of GF oats
  • 6 ounces of chocolate chips 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter, sugar and brown sugar untill creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and baking soda and mix well. Combine peanut butter. Then add oats. Ah here’s where I ran into trouble. Add oats. Not 1 package brown sugar oatmeal, 1 package raw oatmeal with flaxseed and your remaining 1/4 cup of old-fashioned oats. Add regular amount of oats and your cookies probably won’t be flat like mine. Then mix in chocolate chips and bake for about 10-11 minutes.
flourless chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookies simply social blog

The good news is the cookies tasted great. The bad is that I am competitive so come Saturday morning I felt the need to make them again. This time I used a slightly different recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod via Tasty Kitchen. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a good cookie photo.

flourless chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookie simply social blog

Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2/3 C Old Fashioned Oats (or gluten-free)
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 C Peanut Butter
  • 2/3 C Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 2/3 C Chocolate Chips

This time I was a bit more bright-eyed (remember I napped) and followed the recipe accurately. Mix brown sugar, vanilla and peanut butter until creamy. Add eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl mix baking soda and oats. Mix dry ingredients into wet until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Using a cookie scoop, spoon 1-2 inch rounds onto non-stick baking mat. Bake for 9-12 minutes (11 for my oven) at 350. Let cool on pan for 2 minutes before moving to cooling rack.

flourless chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookies simply social blog

What I learned: Butter adds flavor but proper amount of dry ingredients adds fluffiness and height to a cookie. And either way, a bag full of your friends cookies are always going to taste better than the ones you make yourself. And so I delivered both versions of the cookies to my friends, both flat and fluffy (the cookies not the friends), with the hope that they would enjoy them more than I did.

And if you’re thinking oh, nice weekend Sarah. All you did was run, bake and nap. Rough life. Here’s the part of the blog where I justify why I didn’t get any projects done by sharing photo recaps of my weekend activities. Ready, go.

On Friday I got to spend time with one of my favorite girls, Ella.


We had 3-day passes to the Windy City Smokeout so much of the weekend was spent eating BBQ and listening to live country just steps from Michigan Avenue and Nordstrom. For a girl who loves all of these things equally, it was pretty awesome.

windy city smokeout chicago

Amongst the plethora of things going on in the city this weekend like the Taste of Chicago, Cubs/Cards and various fests, was the annual kick-off to the Race to Mackinaw. I caught a glimpse on my run Saturday morning, along with one million others on the lake path.

race to mackinaw

And so wraps another summer weekend in the city. I wasn’t able to check very many things off my to-do list, but this post has made me realize that the time I spent with friends and family is well worth the project procrastination. It was a beautiful weekend to be in Chicago. And I’m glad I got to experience it sans one short nap.

What did you do this weekend? 

Have you ever experienced a baking flop? 

I hope you have a great week!