Homemade Nutella

Nutella is this dangerous, delicious jar of love that taunts me. I luckily didn’t discover this until high school, but quickly began to put it on absolutely everything, bananas, toast, pancakes, strawberries, or just by the spoonful. Then, before you know it, you ate half the whole jar. It is just so so good. Just avoid the label, when you realize how bad it is for you. Just even one tablespoon is your whole days calorie intake. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but you get the gist.

I wanted something that could be sweet and easy to have around without the extra added sugars. After a lot of time googling, we found a bunch of recipes that made it seem super easy to make your own Nutella. Some added sugar or vanilla, while others added maple syrup and others dates. My brother and I tried all combinations, usually without measuring making it hard to figure out what we did to repeat it.

We have very little appliance or space for new appliances in our kitchen. We use a Ninja blender to make our Nutella. It is most important for chopping the hazelnuts. The nuts tend to stick to the outside of the container and not touch the blade. I recommend using the smallest container you have to prevent you from scrapping the sides down every few seconds. Regardless, you will have to stop and scrape down the sides. The more time you spend making the hazelnuts small the smoother your spread will be.

Ingredients:
1 cup hazelnuts
12 cup dates (pitted)
2 tablespoons cocco powder

Chop the hazelnuts first- using a blender or food processor. Then, add the dates and cocco powder! That’s it! Sometimes I add a splash of almond milk to make it a touch smoother!


Tips!

Hazelnuts can be hard to find. I usually buy them in bulk from Whole Foods. It is the easiest place for me to find them consistently. Also, dates are extremely sweet and calorically dense. Just because they are food for you, doesn’t mean that this recipe is one hundred percent benign. It is different because the sugars are from fruit compared to processed sugars, but everything is important in moderation!

Let me know what you think!

 

The Full Body Workout

I have become a little obsessed with mountain biking. It has become my new favorite sport and way to workout. It works your whole body, which is weird, I know. Your arms get a way bigger work out than you would think. They brace you as you go downhill, and they have to stay strong as you maneuver over and around obstacles. Your core has to keep your body upright to prevent you from riding in odd positions. Your legs get the brunt of it, working to pedal up hill and support you as you stand going downhill.

img_2659

There is so much more to it than just being able to ride a bike. There are logs, roots, and rocks that all become obstacles, just waiting to knock you off and onto the ground. These guys get me more often than they should. A huge part of getting over the obstacles has to do with confidence. If you are unsure if you are going to make it, you probably aren’t. If you go in with the mind set that you can, you can often go right over it, within reason of course.

The best part about biking is being able to bring Dizzy along. She loves to be outside and loves to explore. Dizzy gets really hot really fast, so we have to plan our routes where there is water periodically for her to hop into. It doesn’t matter if it is 80 degree or thirty degrees outside, she will lay down in the water. I don’t mind, as long as she is happy! Unfortunately, she cut her paw pad when we were riding the other day, so I can’t take her while these heal. I’m not sure how it happened, and I feel so bad! We stopped by the veterinarian on the way home to make sure she was ok!

img_2641

Muddy After Riding

Dizzy gets really tired after riding, which makes me feel great. I spend so much time working that I feel like she doesn’t get enough love. I try to make our time together as meaningful as possible!

If you can, get out and go biking in your area with some friends or find a local bike shop. It is something you won’t regret!

Phriends in Philly

One of my best friends, Caitlin, was able to come up and visit me in Philly this weekend. Her boyfriend came too and we had a wonderful time exploring the city. I love having friends here because it gives you an excuse to go out and explore. You sometimes take for granted the things that you are used to! With only a few weeks left here, I really wanted to make the most of my time here.

On Saturday, we spent the day catching up and walking around sight seeing. We ate lunch and hung out at Yards brewery. I love taking tours places, I definitely got this from my mom, and they have a great quick tour there! After lunch we walked down the waterfront under the Ben Franklin Bridge and over towards Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest residential street in America. I had never been over here and was stoked to go. The houses are so beautiful and full of so much character. I couldn’t imagine living there with people looking in your windows all day! I loved this drawing that was in the window and talked about the history of the street. img_2388

We stopped at Betsy Ross’s house for a short while. It really is amazing how much history is in Philadelphia! Then, the three of us headed towards Reading Terminal Market to get some snacks and coffee. It was beyond packed in there, probably because it was so windy outside!

Our evening was spent at the Phillies game with some friends from school. We ate so many crab fries, the best game food! The game was crazy because the Phillies scored twelve runs in the first inning. Fun Fact! The record for most runs in a single inning in seventeen! The Phillies ended up winning the game, not to anyone’s surprise. It started to get a little chilly towards the end of the game, and we ended up switching out our beer for hot chocolate to stay warm!

The next morning we walked the dogs over to Federal Donuts for breakfast! The only way to eat these donuts is immediately, when they are hot and fresh and oh so delicious. We enjoyed sitting outside and soaking up the sunshine. My favorite donut is the strawberry and lavender, but you have to eat it right away when it melts in your mouth!

It was a wonderful and way too short of a weekend with these guys visiting! I am happy they live so close to where I am moving back to so I can spend more time with them. All in all, it was a jam-packed weekend of fun!

The Weekly Update

This week has been a little bit of a whirl wind. Getting back from such a wonderful weekend vacation, made it really hard to fall back into normal life, but it was also the energy recharge that I needed to get through this week. This weekend one of my longest friends and her boyfriend are coming up to Philly to visit. I am so excited to explore the city I know with my friends. We are going to spend Saturday night at the Phillies game which is going to be great!


I get to spend two weeks at home on vacation after this. My hours are going to be spent biking as much as possible, weather dependent! Please pray for sunshine and warm, spring days. My brother and I have been on a real health kick trying to eat as healthy as possible to get ready for our upcoming bike races. It has been great. I never feel stuffed or gross, which is a great feeling. I need to keep this up for the next three weeks before my endurance race!

Here are some things I am loving right now!

Easter Dessert // I absolutely love Easter. It is a fantastic excuse to see my family and eat candy (I know I just said I need to eat healthy, but everything is OK in moderation!). We still do an Easter egg hunt with our eggs full of candy! Here is a cute treat to bring to your family’s Easter celebration.

J. Crew’s Jenna // Jenna is leaving J. Crew. I cannot really wrap my head around this because she is someone I associate with J. Crew so completely. She does classic with a twist so well, and she is someone I look to for inspiration! I will say that J. Crew hasn’t been my go to shop as much recently, that I just don’e love everything like I used to. They still have a ton of great things to choose from, but they aren’t for me. Here are two (one, two) great articles to read about it! I am intrigued and curious to see where J. Crew heads now.

Rain, Rain, Go Away // The old saying April showers bring May flowers has been in full affect. It just keeps raining, with more rain in the forecast. I have to walk my dogs and get to and from school even if it is raining. I was in search for shoes that I could wear around school without being Bean boots or tall rain boots, and I found these guys! I cannot wait for them to come in the mail.

Creative Dog Owners // My sister sent me this fantastic article about a man and his bull terrier. We had a bull terrier named Logan growing up, and these guys are sure special. Read this article if you need a smile. The images are awesome!

The Holy City

This past weekend my mom and I were fortunate to travel down to Charleston for the Bridge Run. It was a wonderful city and we had a blast. We had been here once many, many years ago, and we actually more on Kiawah Island and not really Charleston. The photos you see do not do this city justice. It is a must see.

img_1425

The weather was absolutely perfect the whole time we were there. On Saturday, it was 86 degrees and sunny, and on Sunday, it was 77 degrees. Perfect weather to be out exploring. It was definitely warm compared to the 40 degrees and rain I left in Philly. I was not complaining one bit. Everyone we talked to said that the weather in Charleston is perfect expect for in the heat of the summer where you sweat buckets as soon as you walk outside, something I would not do well with because I am always hot anyway.

img_1408

After the race, we spent the day just walking around and exploring. We walked down King Street where they have a ton of shopping. We walked in and out of stores and bought some things. We found so much great artwork that was really hard to keep walking by. Some things were shipped home to decorate the house I am moving into (sorry, Dad!). The Charleston Market was full of local artwork and handcrafted homegoods and cooking supplies/food.

One of my favorite places we went to was Rainbow Row. The houses were full of so much color. I loved it! I could definitely move into one of these.

img_1439

It was great just to spend time with my mom and catch up. We had fun just talking about life and nothing and laughing about everything. We spent a lot of time just wandering around. We had no plans and no where to be, which allowed us to be free to explore.

img_1727

On Sunday, we rented bikes to get around. We biked from downtown to Sullivan’s Island and to the Citadel. We also biked through the College of Charleston. These bikes were extremely welcomed because of how sore we were. It also allowed us to see so much more. My mom brought her Garmin running watch and tracked how far we biked. We ended up biking almost 35 miles in total!

I know Charleston is full of amazing restaurants and food, but we spent most of our time out exploring and not much time eating! We would get snacks and small things along the way as we needed without sitting down for a long meal. We will definitely have to go back to eat more local food.

This city was really hard to leave. Everyone was so welcoming and happy, it was infectious. I really want to make this run a tradition, to give myself an excuse to go back and visit. There are so many unique places here that behind every turn in a new place to explore. I am counting down the days until I return!

Sweet Potato Waffles

My brother can get on a kick of making things and just keeps at it. Currently, he has been loving sweet potato waffles, which works for me. The best thing about them is that they are so versatile! You can have them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Just change your toppings and it’s completely different. He has been covering his in shredded chicken, while I have been covering them in strawberries and homemade Nutella (more on that to come!).

We found a really easy way to make the sweet potatoes manageable. It can be so hard to chop and boil the potatoes. Start by cutting holes into the potato. Then, microwave the potatoes for about five minutes until soft. Lastly, you can scoop the potato out of the skin. It saves you from having to peel the potatoes too! (If anyone has any great ways, please feel free to share!!)

We didn’t have a waffle maker before we started this cooking expedition. I found this waffle maker on amazon for less than twenty dollars! Some waffle makes can be costly, but this one does a great job and is easy to clean. It is also small, which is a must in our tiny kitchen! I have no experience with making waffles. It just wasn’t something we ate growing up. We were a pancake family. It took no time at all to get the gist of this waffle maker down.

For this recipe, I used two sweet potatoes and three eggs. The potatoes were shredded/pre-cooked using the microwave method. Then, the eggs were added in second. This was then cooked on the griddle for about 6 minutes. The batter takes a little longer than a regular waffle because it is thick. Once it is cooked, you can put on any toppings you want! I tended toward sweeter toppings- homemade Nutella, cinnamon cream cheese, butter and syrup, or strawberries and powdered sugar. Heath cooked chicken in the crock pot and shredded it as a topping. Anything you can imagine will taste great on top!

House Update

The house renovations have been cruising along these last few weeks. It feels like in no time it will be complete, even though there is still a ton of work to be done! There are only six weeks left until it is done. I felt like just yesterday we were walking through the framing.

BATHROOMS

I have been slightly disappointed in how the master bathroom finished. We had some trouble with getting the tile we had originally set aside. It is just a little whiter than I had wanted. The pop of color with the navy blue cabinets makes a huge difference in there. I also think paint and decorations will help to get more of the look I was hoping for. In the end, it’s just a bathroom and I am the one who will see it, not everyone else.

The guest bathroom has a pretty tile trim on it that my mom wanted in there and it looks great. She has a textured tile in the shower that flows really nicely. The jack and jill bathroom is what my sister wanted. The grey cabinets added a nice touch to break up the white in there. The main floor powder room has cute trim in there that I really like!

KITCHEN 

The kitchen is coming together beautifully! There is more space in the kitchen than I ever imagined. I love the bead board that wraps the back of the island. There is so much storage in the kitchen it honestly doesn’t feel real. The kitchen I have at school as four cabinets in it for all food, cups, plates, appliances, and anything else. I cannot wait to cook in this kitchen for my friends and family! It is going to be a dream.

I am giddy with excitement for the counter tops to come. I really think they are going to break up the white in the house and really make a statement. Soon, I have to go and pick the exact pieces and cuts for the counters. The island is going to be one huge piece and I love that!

RAILINGS 

The railings in the house were a much bigger deal than I ever realized. Picking a railing is way more complicated than it seems. There are so many types of railing from wood to metals to cable railing and beyond. We don’t have a lot of railing to cover, just in the entry way. I didn’t want it to be a focal point in the house and obstruct the view. I also wanted a railing that was different and not your everyday railing. We ended up picking a cable railing that I am extremely excited for!

img_0101

PAINT COLOR 

I wanted the color in the house to all be one color and flow through. I know paint can really make and change a room, but I chickened out on doing something crazy and out there. We grew up with a light yellow wall, and while it does look nice and bright, I wanted something different than I was used to. We ended up choosing a really light grey that almost seems white unless it is next to white.

Paint color names are so ridiculous. Since we were playing in the shades of grey, so many names were related to Fifty Shades. The color we ended up picking did not have a fun names, and I was a little disappointed. I hesitated picking it just a little because I wanted a fun name, but my mom talked me out of that one!

LIGHT FIXTURES

I am so tired of looking at light fixtures. It is so frustrating and time consuming going through all these lights. I can sit for an hour an just not find a light that I like. The one thing I keep reminding myself is how little I focus on lights when I am in other people’s homes. I rarely notice them. I only focus on them now because I am in need of lights.

All the bedrooms have ceiling fans. Ceiling fans are not attractive, they are just practical. I sleep with a ceiling fan even in winter. It allows me to curl up in a bunch of blankets and have some air circling. I also like the slight sounds they make! It is soothing to sleep to. I still have a lot to do in this area.

LAUNDRY ROOM

I have never had a house with a laundry room that was “fun” to be in. Growing up, it was in the basement and always a little creepy. It was a mud room, but we rarely ever came in that door. We fed our dogs downstairs and kept all the snacks for school. The tile was creepy and old and I really didn’t like being there. In my parent’s house, it is in the kitchen and it is so convenient. Since being in college, I only have one and a half years with free laundry in my apartment. The last four years, I have had to truck outside and into a creepy basement where it costs four dollars to do one small load of laundry.

In this house, I have a laundry room with a full sized washing machine and dryer. And, they are on the correct side, where you don’t have to awkwardly go around the door to reach the dryer. There is going to be space to keep all the extra sheets and towels, which will be fantastic! I also have a dog that loves to get as dirty as possible at all times. There is a dog wash in the laundry room with a long handle to get the dogs clean. I love it!

img_0088

I won’t get to see the house for two weeks. So much is going to change in that period of time. This project is flying by and I am anxious to move in. Decorating with artwork and furniture is going to take a long time. I want it to feel homey yet put together. We will see where it goes!