Tag Archives: Challenge

Pinterest Challenge: Fall Cookies

We hope that you’re enjoying the beautiful fall season! While we still have quite warm weather here in California, Pinterest is aflutter with tons of pins showing cute fall ankle boots, plaid ponchos and lots and lots of yummy fall-themed cookies. It seemed about time for another Pinterest challenge, so I queued up my fellow authors and initiated a fall cookie challenge. If nothing else, it was a great excuse to do some baking and incorporate some of the spices of the season.

Mere…When I think of fall sweets, the yummy flavors of pumpkin, apple, and cranberry immediately come to mind. Upon receiving this “fall-themed cookie challenge” from fellow TK blogger Kristi, I began scrolling through my Pinterest “sweets treats” board to find the perfect cookie. I decided on White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies from Shugary Sweets Blog, and boy, am I glad that I did!

White chocolate isn’t my typical go-to chocolate (I tend to be a sucker for dark chocolate), but the combination of white chocolate and cranberry in a cookie was delicious! These cookies were the perfect balance of sweet and tart and tasted like fall with each bite. I ended up gifting these cookies to a co-worker, otherwise I would have gobbled them all up!

October12_image1

This recipe is simple and easy to follow. I didn’t stray from the directions much—personally, I believe that over-baking cookies is a faux pas, so I suggest watching the cookies during the last two minutes of baking to avoid dry and over-cooked cookies.

Kristi…I’m a HUGE fan of pumpkin, and even though you can get canned pumpkin year round, it only seems fitting to incorporate it into my diet when the weather is crisp. So when we decided to do this challenge, I knew that my cookie needed to involve pumpkin. After a bit of scanning on Pinterest I located the Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting by Frugal Living NW. I’m one of those types that loves squishy, soft cookies that are barely cooked, so add the pumpkin and this recipe seemed right up my alley.

Let me tell you this recipe did not disappoint. It created a delicious melt-in-your-mouth treat, with everyday ingredients that I had in my pantry (Cream Cheese was the only thing I had to run out to get).

Pumpkin Cookie 1

Overall, it was a fairly straight-forward recipe, which I was able to whip up quite easily. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Not being a huge fan of frosting (mostly for the additional calories that it adds), I ended up making a half batch of frosting. The cookies are super yummy as a standalone dessert, so those looking for a lighter version, may want to consider.
  • I also slightly reduced the sugar I added (from 1.5 cups to 1.25 cups). The cookies still tasted nice and sweet!
  • Lastly, I bumped up the amount of cinnamon and nutmeg that I added in my batch, and to be honest, I still felt like it could have used a touch more. This of course depends on how spicy you like your baking, but for me, I would say add another 1/2 to 1 tsp.

Bri… I wanted to try something that would be easy and fast, but also healthy — if at all possible. Enter the 2-ingredient vegan oatmeal cookie. When I think of oatmeal, I’m reminded of chilly days in front of a hot bowl of steamy oats and cinnamon. I think this recipe flourishes on the internet due to its simplicity: it’s just 1 ripe mashed banana mixed with 1 cup of oats that’ve been pulsed in a food processor into a flour-like consistency. You can add more flavor mix-ins if you’d like. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Yields ~9 cookies. For my test kitchen night, I paired the oatmeal and banana with chocolate chunks and cinnamon.

When I bit into it, I enjoyed the chocolate bits and the warm banana flavors, but the first words out of my mouth were: “It tastes healthy…”

cookie

If you’re one of those people who say: “If you’re going to eat a cookie… EAT A REAL COOKIE!” Then, this is not the cookie for you. It has a distinct oatty/nutty flavor. Once they get to room temperature or cold, they’re not enjoyable because the texture is mushy. My friend took a bite of a hot one right out of the oven. Bless his heart, it wasn’t until after he took a bite that he told me he doesn’t like anything with banana in it. Suffice to say, the cookie did not get a thumbs up from him.

Verdict: I won’t make them again, but I’m glad I gave it a try!

We had lots of fun sourcing out fun Fall cookie recipes. Do you have a favorite recipe that you like to make each year? If so, please share a link below and let us know your tips!

This post is part of an ongoing series. Please check out all our Pinterest Challenge posts.

Brown Bag Donation Challenge: A Tale of Too Many Shoes!

In this day and age, we are constantly accumulating new things—clothing and shoes, the next best thing in technology, and that ‘had-to-have’ decorative household item. So to avoid having a household full of items that I no longer use, I’m always on the look out for items that I can donate, recycle or throw away.

This week’s focus has been on the first of the three—donations and specifically, the shoe category. While I’m generally good about earmarking clothing for donating, I realized (after sifting through the three shoe baskets we have in our home and my closet) that I rarely find the time to go through my shoes.

Shoe Bin 1

I decided to challenge myself to try to narrow down my collection. Would it be possible to fill a brown grocery bag with one purge?

Brown Bag 1

After a relatively short bit of time, I realized that this challenge was going to be a lot easier than I had expected (and no that’s not because I filled my bag with boots!).

The Shoe That Never Really Fit: Chances are you have this type of shoe in your closet. It’s the one that caught your eye in the store, but in all honesty it never really quite fit. You got it home, and wore it around the house and for a few outdoor outings in the hopes that you’ll “wear it down” to comfort. Unfortunately, this rarely ends up happening, and so after a trial period, it’s likely time to pass it on.

Shoe Bin 2

For me, this was this adorable gold and white summer loafer. I purchased it last summer and sadly, it just never quite fit. I held onto it hoping that somehow it would morph into a new (and more comfortable, I may add) shoe…but alas not.

The Shoe/Flip Flop That You Have Too Many Of: If you live in California, you could likely fill a dedicated container with flip flops. A fun Haviana is a completely different look from your sturdy Rainbow. Flip flops come in all kinds of colors and materials, but it’s likely that most California shoe racks could shed a few flips.

Shoe Bin 3

I was able to locate two pairs (from the multitude that I have) that I haven’t worn in ages. They were still in great shape and fit for the donation bag.

The Shoe You’re Saving for a Rainy Day: Ever have that conversation with yourself of: “Well maybe I’d wear it if I was….” Maybe it’s a shoe that has lost its luster or is starting to show signs of wear. However, you love it so much that you aren’t willing to part with it, but rather would prefer to retire it gradually.

Shoe Bin 4

For me, this most often comes in the form of my athletic shoes. When a shoe starts wearing down, I keep it on the shelf in my office or in the trunk of my car…just in case I need to pull them out. While it’s good to keep a pair (or maybe two) as a back-up for a mud run, that’s about all you need.

The Shoe That Was a One Hit Wonder: This shoe is the one that was purchased for a singular purpose. Maybe it was a wedding that you were in where the bride wanted all the bridesmaids to have matching kicks or maybe you were involved in an activity that requires certain footwear.

Shoe Bin 5

For me, this was my beloved indoor cycling shoes. Last year, I got really involved in a spin/indoor cycling studio and ended up purchasing special Shimano shoes. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a new local studio and have thus moved on to other fitness activities, but I’m hoping they will get some good use with someone else.

Bottom line – challenge accepted and prevailed! After a little self-talk, I was able to narrow my show racks down a bit, and came away with a full bag of kicks that I hope will find better use with someone else.

Shoe Bin 6

Do you have a certain “shoe strategy” that helps you narrow down your closet? If so, we’d love to hear!

Setting an Annual Fitness Challenge

Let me start off by reiterating that I am just a normal, working girl trying to share simple and easy tips on how to stay healthy and fit in today’s crazy / busy word! Being an avid reader of blogs, I have had a very hard time finding a good fitness blogger that I can identify with. Some bloggers are just those crazy runners that run ALL THE TIME. Others have tons of intense pictures of complex weight-lifting routines that just do not appeal to me. My hopes are that you’ll get a sense of my style, and what keeps me motivated and perhaps some of the suggestions will rub off on your own routines!

So without further ado…one technique that I have picked up has been creating an annual fitness challenge. I’m one of those Type-A personalities that really thrives in being challenged. It helps me get outside of my normal workouts, challenge myself to work harder and have a little fun too.

Annual Fitness Challenge 1What do I consider an annual fitness challenge?

Quite frankly, it can be just about whatever you like! In 2013, my fiance (boyfriend, at the time) and I decided to run a 5K charity race, every month, for 12 months. We liked that it was something we could share, and even more so that we could “double-down” by also supporting some awesome Bay Area charities.

Let me tell you, the running was one of the easiest parts of it! The scheduling of 12 local races…that was the hard part. That being said, we supported some awesome causes during the year…ranging from autism awareness to wetland restoration projects. And we even got another couple involved too!

Supporting educational programs in developing countries.

Supporting educational programs in developing countries.

I’m sure you’re all thinking, “It’s already April. Did she set a 2014 challenge? Or was this just a one-hit wonder?”

The answer is: YES!!

However, first let me share a little background information. In 2013, on a quick weekend trip, we decided to hike to the top of Lassen Peak (10,463 ft.). It was a short, but thrilling ascent, but it was our first experience hiking above 10,000 feet. It was breathtaking!

  • Seasoned Hikers or those that consider themselves really fit will find that this 5-mile (2000 feet elevation gain) roundtrip hike is easy-peasy. However, be prepared for some slick snow/slush fields to scurry up, and the effects of high-elevation on your hiking pace.
  • Newbie Hikers will find that this is a challenging but completely attainable day hike. Plan to wear good hiking shoes, bring plenty of water and take your time going up. It’s not a long hike, but you start hiking upwards from the second you step out of your car (and for the rest of the 2.5 miles to the summit).
Snapshot of my fiance on our Lassen Peak adventure. Snow in the summer!

Snapshot of my fiance on our Lassen Peak adventure. Snow in the summer!

So back to our Annual Challenge – what may it be? I’m sure a number of you are thinking Half Dome or possibly even hiking part of the Pacific Crest Trail? Instead, we decided to go for the gold of U.S. hiking and take on Mount Whitney (14,505 ft) in a one-day ascent.

For those not as familiar with our California terrain, Mount Whitney is a major challenge. It will be a 22-mile, high-altitude, high-elevation gain (6,100 ft.) adventure. What does this translate to? A really long, hard and tough day. Our preparation began last month when we applied for our permit to hike. Even though we were unsure if this would become a reality we started loading up our daypacks with heavy (and realistic) weight and trekking around the Bay Area. Now that we were awarded a permit for this July, the serious training begins.

I look forward to sharing more about my 2014 Fitness Challenge in the coming months, and challenge YOU to create one for yourself!