Tag Archives: valentines day

Hearts and Love and Mushy Stuff

Let’s talk about love.

On second thought, let’s not. Let’s talk about making the most of a holiday that celebrates love by whipping up some sweet treats for friends and family.

Valentine’s Day is here and that means restaurants everywhere will have a chance to jack up menu prices just by throwing in a chocolate dessert and printing a special couple’s menu. A chance to draw people in with a holiday special? It’s what us marketing folks live for.

But Valentine’s Day is so much more than that. It’s an excuse to show someone, anyone a little love.

Whether I’ve been single or attached, I’ve always had a positive view of Valentine’s Day. It could be due to my longstanding love of crafts, baking and themes, but I’d like to believe my parents had a lot to do with it too. I grew up with a dad who made Valentine’s Day special for my sister and I no matter what age we were. He embarrassed me in middle school when they announced over the intercom that I had a flower delivery in the office and his praises were sung each February in college when he sent my roommates and I Pease’s candy boxes.

Valentine’s Day is fun. Please excuse me for a moment while I put the finishing touches on my 3-D shoebox with heart-shaped pink LED lights.

OK I’m back.

This year I attempted these cookies from Martha Stewart for Valentine’s Day. And while I should have realized this in my other failed attempts, I am now certain that Martha Stewart recipes are the pre-Pinterest, Pinterest fails. She cannot be human. And neither can anyone she works with. Her edges are so clean. Her filling so smooth.

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It could be that because I couldn’t find small heart cookie cutters anywhere, I just squeezed the edge of my shamrock one until it formed something that looked sort of like a heart. Or the way that the chocolate dough rolled out so crumbly that I gave up and used a biscuit cutter to make them bigger so I could go to bed. It could be that. Or just maybe, all sandwich cookie recipes should come with a warning label that after 4-plus pans in and out of the oven, you will only end up with like 10 completed cookies to show for it because they each need two sides. Seriously Martha. I know it seems obvious but a girl needs to be warned about these things!

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Sugar Heart Sandwich Cookies

  • 2 C all-purpose flour, plus more rolling
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pink gel-paste food coloring
  • cream filling

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add egg and then vanilla. Add dry ingredients into wet.

Refrigerate dough for up to an hour.

Divide dough into two. Mix in drops of pink food coloring and knead through dough until you reach your desired color. Roll onto floured mat. Use shamrock or heart-shaped cookie cutter. Place on baking mat and bake for 12 minutes or until edges are firm. Let cool.

Make cream filling. Place small amount of filling in center of two hearts and let dry.

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Chocolate Sandwich Cookies 

  • 1 1/4 C all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 5 TBL unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 C packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Cream filling

In a large bowl mix flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In a stand mixer, blend brown sugar and melted butter. I just realized I never melted my butter hence the course texture of my dough. Add egg.

Refrigerate dough.

Roll onto floured mat. Cut into desired shape. Place on baking mat and bake for 8 minutes or until edges are firm. Let cool. Add cream filling. Roll edges in sprinkles right away.

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I hope you have a very happy Valentine’s Day! I’m looking forward to getting home to spoil my nephews and reunite with my pup!

Have a great weekend!

Workout Wednesday: Vacation-style

It’s workout Wednesday, vacation-style. It seems only fitting to talk about workouts in warmer climates in the midst of yet another winter snowstorm doesn’t it?

magnificent mile, winter storm, chicago, michigan avenue

I thought so too.

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Now I’m not saying you have to exercise on your vacation. Some people prefer to use it as a recovery period and that’s fine. If you’re like me though, you see vacations as an anthropological opportunity. Translation: an opportunity to eat and drink anything and everything the local culture is known for. In excess. This is truly the only way to experience a new culture. Man I love anthropology.

Even if you’re not into cultural assimilation, there’s a good chance you’ll be indulging more on vacation than you normally do. Getting out for a few workouts are a great way to make room for the next meal, liquid or solid. Plus, your body could some movement after sitting on a plane for 3 hours.

So let’s go through some workout tips while your traveling, shall we?

Seek water and run alongside it. Oceans are great. Lakes are cool and rivers work too. Chances are if there is a body of water in the area you are visiting, there will be some sort of bike and running trail also. Lace up your running shoes and enjoy the scenery. No equipment needed!

san francisco, bay bridge, sunrise, sunset

San Francisco

running, austin, texas, lady bird lake trail


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la jolla, sunset, la jolla beach, california

La Jolla

Pack the right gear. Yes you would need to pack various sets of workout clothes if you decide to exercise on your vacation. And no, it’s not like that one pair of jeans you can wear 3 times during the week. These are one and done outfits. Fortunately workout gear does not take up that much room and doesn’t wrinkle easily. In an effort to save space in my suitcase, I pack my running shoes in my carry-on. Most running shoes are light and you can use the extra space for other essentials like:

  • Flipbelt. The front pouch is perfect for your hotel key and cash. Put your phone in the back for music, photos and emergency Google mapping.
  • Watch. To chart your distance and time.
  • Sunscreen. You don’t just need it for the beach.
  • Dryer sheets. Put one in each shoe and save a few more for your dirty laundry bag on the way home.
  • Headphones with a speaker. To better communicate with your sister when she calls you during her commute (and your run). Safety Tip: When running alone, only put one earbud in so you are aware of your surroundings. 
  • Running Hat. Protect your face from sun and sweat.

Read more about my go-to running gear here.

Make the most of your surroundings. It’s not often that you run out of trail to run on but in some cases you just don’t have the chance to run safely for very far. In my case last weekend, the riverwalk I was running on only lasted about a mile or so. Knowing my motivation wouldn’t support repeating the sequence multiple times, I opted to use it as a warm-up and try some other exercises using what I had around me.

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If I’m being completely honest, I ran past this pier multiple times before considering using it for sprints. As I ran past it the final time I considered the distance and view and thought,

Huh. I bet you could do a quick sprint workout on that fishing pier.

And then I continued running.

The end of the path is right there, Sarah. What are you going to do now go back to the gym and get on a treadmill? It’s February and you have a chance to be outside all morning. 

I turned around and considered how far I’d actually be able to sprint without landing in the water.

Ok. Maybe just a few. It’s been a while since I let my legs go fast. 

I only did 5 sets. Each were maybe 50 yard sprints at best. As a result, my quads still feel like knives are cutting them two days later. It felt good to let my legs go fast. I haven’t done sprint work in a very long time and I forgot how different it is.

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Did you know that these two benches work the exact same way for dips and push-ups? Sure you would look silly sitting and tossing bread at the ducks in the gym with the one on the right or grunting and attempting to lay flat on the one on the left, but when it comes to simple exercises, they serve the same purpose.

The key here is to find an empty bench in either location. Otherwise you just look arrogant. Work your triceps with 3 sets of 12 dips and flip around and continue with push-ups.

Then wash your hands.

Don’t forget to stretch. One thing I’ve always struggled with when working out while traveling is making time to stretch and foam roll. It’s easy enough when you’re at home in the gym with no immediate plans, but when I travel I am constantly hopping in the shower as soon as I’m done to get ready for work or the next activity. For that reason, I was thrilled to be greeted with this little gem when I arrived in Florida.

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Isn’t she cute? And though she be but small, she is fierce. Perfect size for travel and small enough to bring with you to the gym if yours doesn’t provide foam rolls for use. So fellas, if you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for your lady, nothing says I love you like a foam roll to the piriformis.

Have a great workout!