Adventures in the kitchen, in fitness and with glitter!

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It’s December!

It’s December and that means a free for all in the cinnamon-cloves-cranberry department! Oh, and the holidays too! My favorite smells/flavors are warm cinnamon/cloves and cranberries. I count down the days in late fall every year, until a time that is appropriate to put on a pot of my favorite stove-top potpourri. Usually a good freeze or snow fall is the turning point. It is my absolute favorite and love to keep it simmering all day on my stove, while lounging indoors on a cold winter day. It came a little later this year with all the traveling and activities we have been doing, but it was worth the wait! All it takes in an orange, a handful of cranberries, a few cinnamon sticks, a sprinkle of whole cloves and a dash of nutmeg in a small pot. Fill the pot with water to just cover your ingredients and make sure the water doesn’t boil off completely, or else it will scorch your pot (experienced that!).

So easy to throw together!

So easy to throw together!

We had an awesome, casual weekend, part of which included friends coming over to watch the U.Va. men’s basketball game. I could’t resist making some mulled wine in the crockpot. I had a nostalgic bottle of red wine from my hometown, MisSOULa Red and was encouraged to make a spiced wine with it. I had a great recipe for a quick and easy Cranberry Orange Mulled Wine in the crockpot, made with cranberries, cinnamon sticks and brandy, which I happily poured from a bottle purchased for a summer sangria.

Seeing a similarity in my holiday ingredients...

Seeing a similarity in my holiday ingredients…

It was a hit! We had to throw in an extra bottle of red and crank up the crockpot again to simmer a second batch! My house smelled amazing all weekend! I hope everyone is enjoying this holiday season, more sharing and festive recipes to come!


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Embracing A Fall Weekend!

Last weekend was a bye week for the Virginia Cavaliers football team. As they happen the BF’s employer, it was good news for him because it meant he had the weekend off! After I got in a good 10-mile run with an old friend on Saturday morning, we enjoyed the pleasure of watching college football on a Saturday afternoon and he didn’t have to worry about his work, or agonize over the play of the Hoos.

On Sunday we planned to take advantage of our relaxing weekend and go for a hike in the Shenandoah National Park. The park boasts beautiful fall colors this time of year and plenty of hiking trails to explore all year round. We decided on the Jones River/ Doyles Falls trail, it was a 6.5 mile loop, which was a max for me after 10 miles the day before, and a good mix of up and down hill. Unfortunately the weather didn’t exactly cooperate. We drove up to the park in a cloud of fog and saw threatening dark clouds through occasional breaks in the fog. We bundled up in our fleeces as we set out on the trail, determined to do our hike. We were lucky to have a nice canopy of trees for most of the hike, so we didn’t end up too soaked as the rain came down for over half the hike. But we still had fun and the colors did not disappoint!


Our trail through the woods and welcome canopy from the rain!

One of the three waterfalls we saw on the trail.

One of the three waterfalls
we saw on the trail.

After the hike, we needed to warm up! I was chilled to the bone by the end so we fired up the crockpot when we got home and made some Turkey Chili. The combination of three different types of beans appealed to me and we used three fresh jalapeños we had from the farmers’ market last week.  I did add the corn but used a combination of crushed tomatoes and unseasoned diced tomatoes in place of the tomato sauce to add a different texture to the chili. I cooked up the turkey, onion and spices in a skillet and added that mixture to the beans, corn, etc…, in the crockpot then about four hours later, we were ready to eat. It was the perfect meal for a rain, chilly fall evening and filled the house with a nice, spicy scent.

Hearty, delicious and healthy!

Hearty, delicious and healthy!

I also whipped a little cornbread as a side, which was awesome. I had been in search of a quick, yet delicious recipe and came across this cornbread recipe on Pinterest last week. Definitely another repeat recipe for my recipe box.

Just a bit sweet, not too dense and so delicious!

Just a bit sweet, not too dense and so delicious!

We wrapped up the evening catching a little Sunday night football on TV before heading to bed early to get a good night’s rest for the week. We needed it, we’re off to Canada at the end of the week!