July Blog-A-Day #30: Celebrating Two Years with Birthday Cake Oatmeal

Today Counting My Cupcakes celebrates her second birthday. Two years old. Wow, time flies. I still feel like such a beginner most of the time when it comes to blogging. The site has come a long way, but there is also so much room for improvement (obviously). 
Then again, I say that and immediately want to take it back. Why do I feel like there is SO much room for improvement? Well, mostly because I am comparing my blog to other blogs. Other blogs with better pictures, more interesting words, easier site navigation, and infinitely more followers. Some of that may be opinion, but some of that is fact. Either way, I take back my previous statement. 
My blog is beautiful just the way she is and I’m proud of her.I have devoted so much time into this little baby of mine. Sure, things will change over time. I may update the color scheme, redesign the layout, improve my photography skills, or gain (or lose) readership. But that’s life. Things evolve in their own time. 
Thank you to each and every one of you who are reading these words right now. Although I mostly write for me, because it is something I have always enjoyed, I really do love sharing my thoughts with all of you. Whether this is the first post you have ever read or if you have been a loyal reader all along, THANK YOU. 
Happy Birthday to CMC! Here’s to hoping the “terrible twos” don’t apply to the blogosphere 😉
Oh, and that oatmeal up there? I felt like I needed to celebrate the birthday in style. Who says you can’t put sprinkles in your oatmeal? Not me.
Birthday Cake Oatmeal
Makes 1 serving
Ingredients:
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon vanilla protein powder
1/3 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1/3 cup water
1 banana, sliced
1 teaspoon sprinkles
Directions:
1. The night before you want to eat this, combine oats, cinnamon, salt, chia seeds and protein powder in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Add milk and water. Cover bowl and place in fridge overnight. (You don’t have to prepare this overnight, but it helps make the oats thicker!)
2. In the morning, slice the banana and add half of the slices to the oatmeal bowl. Microwave for about 1 minute and 20 seconds. Stir, add remaining banana slices, and microwave about 15-30 seconds longer. Add a splash of milk or water to thin the oatmeal if desired. Top with sprinkles and serve immediately. 
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July Blog-A-Day #29: Single Girl Brunch at Puree

Okay, this isn’t news. I’ve blogged about Puree before and it’s now been about 2 1/2 weeks since I was actually there and ate the meal pictured here.
But…
It was absolutely, positively, perfect banana bread heaven. And I just had to share. 
They take two thick slices of banana bread and prepare them just like you would for French toast. Genius. The toast is dusted with powdered sugar and topped with more banana slices. It was so moist and flavorful; I didn’t want it to end! I ate as slowly as I could, which was just fine because I was a single girl that morning. Greg was out of town for a bachelor party so I took advantage of my alone time. I cherished every bite of the French toast along side my hot coffee poured directly from the French press. 
The bright, yet cozy, feel of Puree makes me feel like I’m at home. 
Iloveitsomuch.

July Blog-A-Day #28: Super Green Quinoa Bowl for One

Monday. The start of a new week.  This means it’s time to get back to a regular schedule and a restocked kitchen. Put the two together and I have myself an easy, delicious and nutritious weeknight meal. Weekends lend themselves to increased eating out, which typically means less balanced/healthy meals. Weeknights on the other hand look more like this. Lots of veggies, especially greens, produce, and whole grains. And just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it’s not just as satisfying as those indulgent weekend meals. In fact, it’s usually even better. 
Super Green Quinoa Bowl for One
Makes 1 serving
Ingredients:
1/4 cup dry quinoa
1/4 white or yellow onion, sliced
1/2 cup broccoli florets, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable broth
3 cups raw spinach
1/4 avocado, diced
1/4 cup black beans, cooked
2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Directions:
1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, heat medium skillet over medium heat. When hot, add onion and broccoli. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once vegetables are evenly browned, turn heat to low and add vegetable broth. Immediately add spinach to skillet and toss. Cook about 1-2 more minutes and turn off heat. Add salt, cayenne pepper and oregano. Toss to evenly distribute.
3. Add quinoa, cooked vegetables, avocado, black beans and goat cheese to a bowl and serve immediately. Top with hot sauce if desired. 

July Blog-A-Day #27: The Irony of Running in Silence

On Friday morning, I woke up extra early to fit a run into my day. I was meeting my friend Hannah for breakfast at Metto Coffee and Tea before work. I didn’t give myself too much time to exercise so decided a quick run outside would be best, opposed to going to the gym. Something about the quietness in our condo that morning made me leave the headphones behind and take that quietness with me. No music needed for this run. Just the sound of my feet on the pavement.

Or so I thought.

I ended up hearing and experiencing so much more than just my shuffling feet; more than loud music in my ears could have brought me. It was the most refreshing feeling to soak in the sounds around me and appreciate every last one. Call me a hippie or whatever, but I felt so connected to everything around me.

I was sore from a leg workout the day before, so my run was nice and steady (read: slow). Steady enough that I could type notes to myself to remember these senses.

Birds chirping
Cicadas singing
Feet shuffling across the gravel paths and sidewalks
The smell of low tide across the marsh
Water streaming down the man-made waterfall
The smell of chlorine wafting through the air by the neighborhood pool

….heavy breathing.

My Sunday Blessings post last week spurred part of the desire for this quiet time. Exercise isn’t usually what we think of when we hear the word “rest,” but it definitely rests my mind. Eliminating music allowed me to hear God more clearly and I even found myself praying out loud before long.

I find it ironic that by not listening to music, I thought I would be running in silence. In realty, I was able to hear so much more than I would have imagined.

How do you find quiet time in your life?

July Blog-A-Day #26: Best Part of the Week

Going along with yesterday’s post, where I walked you through a typical weekday in my life, today I wanted to focus on one of my favorite parts of the week. 
Saturdays are almost always the one day of the week we don’t need to set an alarm or worry about being up for church at a certain time. We sleep in to our hearts’ content…or until Zoey barks enough. This usually ends up being between 8:00-8:30am. 
We move slowly downstairs and spend an hour or so sipping hot coffee, eating breakfast, and watching tv on the couch. Today I ate an apple while waiting for my toast to pop-up from the toaster. Then I spread the slice with peanut butter and drizzled it with honey. Simple and delicious.
I love Saturday mornings because we can hang out in our pajamas for awhile, take our time enjoying breakfast and just relax together. It’s a special time of the week and I am appreciating it more than ever these days. Until very recently, I have always tried to get my workout in first thing Saturday morning. I don’t know exactly what changed, but now when my plans (or lack of plans) for the day allows, I prefer taking it easy in the morning and doing an afternoon workout instead. These first couple hours on Saturday morning are the best. 

July Blog-A-Day #25: A Day in the Life

I love a good schedule and routine in my daily life. Like everyone else, each day slightly varies day to day, but it usually looks something very similar to this…
6:15am
Alarm goes off. I think, “Nooooo.” And hit snooze once, sometimes twice. I roll out of bed, get dressed for a workout, and head downstairs. By this time Zoey has heard me moving about and is ready to get out of her crate. We go outside to ‘go potty’ then come back inside to feed her breakfast. I take Zoey upstairs to take a nap with Greg while I go get my workout on. Sometimes this done in our condo’s fitness center, sometimes outside. 
7:30am
Back home, I shower and get ready for work. Greg and I take a few minutes to give Zoey some attention before we have to leave. Sometimes I eat breakfast before I leave, sometimes I bring it with me to eat at my desk. 
8:30am 
Time to work away! With a hot mug of coffee nearby, the first hour or so of work flies by. 

1:00pm
I leave the office to go home for my lunch break. I go home every day to take care of Zoey. Between letting her outside, walking around for a few minutes, making and feeding myself lunch, this break goes way too quickly. 
2:00pm
Back to work for the rest of the day. 
5:30pm
Leave work and head home to my little family. 
6:00pm
Greg and I walk Zoey to the park. Unfortunately, this has been eliminated from my routine this past week while Zoey recovers from her surgery. 
7:00pm
Home and hungry! Sometimes we cook a real meal, sometimes we throw together an assortment of random things. Occasionally we go out to eat, but it’s rare for a weekday. Thankfully, Friday evening counts as the weekend where eating out is much more common. Chipotle here we come!
8:00pm
The thing I have been thinking about all day has arrived. Dessert. Publix frozen yogurt to be exact. Duh. Tonight I came up with a fantastic combination. One scoop of the Roadrunner Raspberry and one scoop of the Chocolate Fudge Brownie, topped with whipped cream. And red wine 😉 I usually enjoy my dessert in front of the TV with Greg. This is where we hang for the rest of the night. 
10:00-10:30pm
I love a (relatively) early bedtime. Staying up too much later than this on a weeknight is not my thing. I can be a big girl on the weekends and stay up later, but even then midnight is typically my limit. I’m an old married woman now. Ha. 

What’s the highlight of your daily routine?

July Blog-A-Day #24: Menu Item Named for Me

I got the idea for this prompt from here

Day 24 (really Day 25, but post 24): If a restaurant were to name something on the menu after you, what would it be? Describe it. 
It probably goes without saying that my answer falls into the dessert category. My family and friends have always know of my sweet tooth, and thanks to this lovely blog of mine, that has only been exemplified. My co-workers know my passion for baking too, as I am always the one bringing homemade treats to share. 
If a restaurant were to have something on the menu named after me, it would be an indulgent dessert big enough to share with a loved who loves dessert just as much as you do. 
The main focus would be a cupcake. Let’s go with pink velvet (like red velvet, but pink), because I just love pink so much. The cupcake would be topped with plenty of rich vanilla buttercream. 
Sitting beside the cupcake would be a giant scoop of the creamiest frozen yogurt ever. It would be vanilla yogurt with chunks of cookie dough and dark chocolate. Somewhat reminiscent of this…in frozen yogurt form (opposed to ice cream). 
Not that I don’t love real ice cream too, but I’m pretty much obsessed with frozen yogurt. And I like to choose somewhat healthier options when possible. 
A glass of red wine may or may not be a required component of this dessert.
To recap we have a pink velvet cupcake, cookie dough and dark chocolate chunk frozen yogurt, and a glass of red wine. 
Now, who owns a restaurant and wants to put that on their menu for me?