happy turkey day!

Happy Thanksgiving y’all! I currently sit at my kitchen table, my cranberry-apple pie baking (the smell is killing me), a tired dog at my feet, with country music Spotify radio playing. Life is pretty good. Today, of all days, it’s wonderful to feel thankful for the small things in life!

Lucy and I started our day off with an early morning run – the longest I have gone in a really long time, and my calves and hip flexor/TFL felt it! We did our Bay Area Ridge Trail route, and added in the steps to/from Marshall’s Beach. So because I never, ever get sick of this view…

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…thankful to have THIS in my backyard 🙂 This is from the trail leading down to the beach. You climb a nice, gnarly set of stairs to get back up to the main route.

Overall it felt sooooo good to be on the pavement again, and Luc needed it because she’s coming to the family gathering later and I need her to be somewhat subdued (ya, right). But the exercise didn’t stop there. Some friends were playing Flag Football for a little pre-turkey day gathering, so I made our run finish at Moscone Field and joined in! Lucy “played” with us too, and miraculously I managed to score a touchdown and catch a few passes. Thankful I’ve still got it! The pup and I, both now exhausted, cruised Chestnut St. home where I’m continuing my baking extravaganza. I was put in charge of desserts for the 21 person crowd at my Aunt Sandy’s for the Dal Porto family gathering of food, football and lot’s of sarcasm. I took this baking job very, very seriously – shocking. Last night I made a Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Tart with Creme Fraiche, and this morning I’m on the Cranberry-Apple pie and white chocolate chip & cranberry cookies. I thought I’d share a few pics of the goodness…

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I decided to use COOKIE BUTTER – omg – for the cookies (so, so thankful for TJ’s inventing this). I can’t wait to gobble one of these down!

image (1)Cran-Apple pie before the top crust layer

So while I really do believe in remembering to be grateful and expressing gratitude on a daily basis, in the spirit of the day, here’s a few things that I am genuinely thankful for:

– My gigantic family, and the luck we’ve all had with our health. I’m so blessed to have tons of family RIGHT here in the Bay Area, and to be able to see them often. Really, I could go on and on about each person, but I’ll spare that. 🙂

– Lucy…’nuff said

– My job at Fitbit. To work for a company that is in line with one of my life passions, on such an amazing team, and to feel like I’ve landed somewhere that is my next “big thing” is amazing. It allows me to pay my bills and have a little fun at the same time! Also, BodyFi – I am grateful they took a chance on a newbie instructor and are allowing me to grow myself as a teacher and take the next step in the fitness world.

– Special shout-out to my friends Allie and Abby. I don’t know what I would do without you girls, especially lately. SO MUCH LOVE.

– My body – I’ve put this thing through hell and back, under stress, ran it into the ground, and it has NEVER broken a bone on me, given me a serious injury, or shut down. It allows me to live a very active life and I love it just the way it is.

– San Francisco. The most beautiful, interesting, FUN place to live at this moment in my life! The prices here kick my butt, but this place just oozes awesome. I’ve met some of my best friends here, have an amazing and eclectic network of friends, I eat and drink REALLY well, and basically never have free time. It’s fantastic!

– My hometown friends. I come from a really, really special place with friends I have known since I was in pre-school. I’m so lucky that we all make the time to see each other and have maintained (and grown) our friendships over all these years!

image (3)Girls all grown up! Madison, myself, Jessica, Nicole, Julie, and Willow

Tomorrow, it’s off to Napa for wine tasting with my mom’s side of the family! Thankful for really good wine and more fun family time…you BET I am! My best wishes to everyone and their families, friends, and loved ones during this gorgeous Thanksgiving! What are YOU all thankful for?

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pumpkin cake pops

To say that I enjoy baking during the holidays is a pretty severe understatement. Ever since I started finding my own way in the kitchen, I’ve absolutely loved the part about Thanksgiving, Christmas…really any holiday that warrants my being able to play around with sugar and butter. Every year I look forward to taking a night or two to bake with my mom – it’s some of the best mother/daughter bonding time! My friend Cally and I have also done a gingerbread house making night for as long as I can remember and I truly get giddy about it every time. I’m also pretty sure our houses get more and more ridiculous as we get older. Let’s face it, the holidays are not the same without baking parties, Mariah Carey Holiday pandora radio…and wine, of course. 🙂

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I’ve been searching the internet for some new and interesting pumpkin recipes, and I was just SO excited when I stumbled on a Pumpkin Cake Pop recipe. Bakerella is the queen of these adorable and delicious pops (but seriously, HOW does she decorate them so cute? Mine always end up looking, well…much less cute). I have somewhat of an obsession with them and find any excuse to make them. In fact, my former roommate has a video of me dancing while making them. Yes, they make me that happy. No, I will not be posting that here.

I figured I’d give them a try for a family gathering, and my goodness…nothing but amazingness. Honestly, when you throw chocolate and pumpkin bread together, there is very little room for failure. I decided to try both the, uh, “full-fat” version as well as a Paleo recipe for the pumpkin bread part. The Paleo Pumpkin bread recipe (here) is actually quite good and not terribly difficult. You can substitute it for the recipe below if you’re into the whole caveman thing! See the Paleo Pumpkin Cake Pop recipe here as well…

WHAT YOU NEED:

Pumpkin Bread (recipe here)

2 Large blocks Dark Chocolate – I used the Candiquik brand, but anything that is a coat/meltable will do

1 can whipped cream frosting (or vanilla works too)

Cake pop sticks

Parchment Paper

WILLPOWER 🙂

DIRECTIONS:

Bake pumpkin bread as directed

Let cool, and crumble in a large baking pan or bowl

Mix in frosting, with your hands (please wash them first, thanks), until you form a large ball of gooey frosting pumpkin bread deliciousness. Let chill in fridge for 1 hour.

Roll the frosting bread mixture in to small balls (slightly smaller than a golf ball) and insert a cake pop stick into each one. Now, my problem this time was that my frosting to bread ratio was a bit off, and the sticks did not…stick. So I opted for bon-bons instead. Still amazing!

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Melt chocolate on low heat…

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(mmm this is where willpower comes in. I could have eaten spoonfuls of this stuff!)

Carefully dip, using a spoon if you’re doing bon-bons, each cake pop into the chocolate until fully coated. Let cool on parchment paper.

photoE viola! Now go to the W.O.W page for some ideas on how to work these puppies off!

…and just because, here’s a little daily dose of happiness brought to you from our friends at Dove. Seriously, I love the little sayings inside! They are also my favorite to snapchat. 🙂

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for a cause

I can’t believe it has been over a week since my last post – unacceptable! I feel incredibly blessed to have so many great things happening at once, but I truly do miss sitting for an hour or two and letting my thoughts roll onto paper. Time to step it up! More on the craziness later…but first, some exciting news!

Lately, I’ve become motivated to get involved with charitable organizations in conjunction with my crazy fitness schedule. One of the most motivating things for me, in my own training, is having a race or an event to prepare for. Add on the fact that I can raise money and create awareness around certain diseases that have actually affected my family and friends? Huge bonus. It makes me feel good and I know I am doing something to positively impact our society, and make someone else feel loved. It’s the driving force that led me to joining the Cycle for Survival team and participating in the Tour de Cure.

My latest endeavor, and one that I am SO excited to be a part of, is The Breast Cancer Foundation’s Climb Against the Odds team. Every year, the BCF sends a team of men and women to attempt a summit of Mt. Shasta, fundraising and promoting preventative lifestyle choices along the way. Years ago when I climbed Mt. Whitney, it was one of the most humbling and exhilarating moments of my life – it’s really you vs. mother nature out there, and for some reason, incredibly peaceful. I did the Peak Hike for Prevention on Mt. Tam through the BCF a few months ago with my mom, aunt, and some friends, so to continue to be a part of this amazing organization is thrilling! Everybody has their own personal stories and reasons why they climb – you can read some of them here. You might be seeing my reasons soon on the website :)… I can’t wait to be a part of the 2014 squad and knock this off my bucket list!

Make sure you check back after a while for a fundraising link if you’d like to donate…and remember to take a peek at the W.OW page! Lots of fun ideas and ways to mix up your routines.

Cheers to Tuesday, to gorgeous fall days in San Francisco, and to health!