Pure Michigan kind of Weekend

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I’m heading up north this weekend with some friends to spend time at my friend’s cabin in Houghton Lake. It has been years since I’ve been there and quite some time since I had a relaxing weekend so I am looking forward to it!

One of my best friends, Lauren, is riding up north with me and I spent a good time of my evening yesterday creating the best playlist for our road trip. It should take us about two hours to get there.

Houghton Lake, MI

What are you doing this weekend?

Iced Coffee on a Budget

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This week has sure been a stressful one financially. I never thought that living on my own would come with so many bills. And then there’s the freak stuff that comes out of nowhere that you never budgeted for!

My lifestyle now is definitely not the same as when I lived with my parents. No rent to worry about, no loans, no utility bills, no paying for your own cable and internet (since Mom and Dad took care of it!), among other things.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew this wasn’t going to be sunshine and rainbows. This week has just been one to test me. I shall come out a better person with a lesson learned though, I promise πŸ™‚

Since I am going to be on a tighter budget from now on, I decided I needed to look at some of the stuff I spend money on daily, weekly, and monthly, and see where I can cut back.

The first (and easiest) one to accomplish was my morning coffee.

I love coffee, but I love creamer more than I love coffee. In fact, most people ask me if I want some coffee with my creamer (it’s that important!) But creamer is expensive, as is stopping off at the coffee shop on the way to work each morning. It gets to be pricey when you add it all up. I am lucky in that my office provides coffee for us, but most times the pot is empty and I am much too lazy to make a fresh pot and wait for it to finish. Plus, I enjoy an iced coffee over a hot coffee any day.

After some searching around on Google and Pinterest, I found an easy iced coffee recipe that only takes 5 ingredients (and I have all of them in my kitchen!)

Iced Coffee

Iced Mocha Vanilla Coffee

  • Frozen coffee (enough for 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • sugar (to taste)

That’s it!

I make a big coffee pot the night before and separate the portions into ziploc baggies. Make sure to let the coffee cool a bit before you pour it in, otherwise it’s really hot to hold onto!

Then I freeze my coffee overnight. In the morning, I take out one of the baggies and put it in the blender along with my other ingredients. I usually do this about 10 minutes before I leave, because the frozen coffee needs to thaw just a little in order to be blended well and fast enough.

After that, just blend until smooth and pour into your favorite tumbler. Mine is leopard print, which happens to be one of my favorite things!

If you’re really feeling sweet, you could also add in a swirl of chocolate syrup and top it with some whipped cream. The drink is about 40 calories before that stuff, so just remember you’re adding about 50 more calories. (Some mornings I would say it’s worth it!)

What do you do to save money and stay on budget each month?

Hot Chocolate on a Hotter Summer Night

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I’ve got a new (and yummy) recipe for you all to try – Nutella Hot Chocolate.

I do realize it’s the middle of summer and was 95Β° most of yesterday, but there’s just something comforting about hot chocolate on a dark, stormy night when you’re home alone and snuggled up in bed.

Colby and I spent most of our Saturday napping and trying to beat the heat. I also stayed entertained by snapping shots of the several poses that Colby sleeps in when he naps.

Kitty sleeping

We were both like that until about 9 PM, and that’s when it started storming – lightning, thunder, monsoon rain, the works.

So anyway, back to my hot chocolate recipe. I pinned this one a while back but it’s been so warm that I forgot about it. Last night seemed like the perfect chance to try it out.

And trust me guys, it is totally worth it.

Hot Chocolate with Nutella

Nutella Hot Chocolate

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 big spoonfuls of Nutella
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • whipped cream
  • mini marshmallows

Pour 1/4 cup of the milk into a saucepan on medium-low heat. Add the Nutella and stir until blended, then slowly stir in the remaining milk. Add a pinch of cinnamon and stir, letting set until hot and a layer of froth forms. Pour the mixture into a mug and then add whipped cream and mini marshmallows.

Do you have any twist on the traditional hot chocolate that you drink?

A 5K and a Poke Cake

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What an interesting weekend! I spent majority of it lying on my parents’ couch because I was still feeling really sick. However, I did make the most of my Saturday by running in the 5K I had previously signed up for. And wow, was it tough!

Completing the race in under an hour was my goal. I finished in just over an hour and was originally really disappointed in that time, but after hearing from lots of my other friends who were healthy and completed the race, I do not feel as bad about it. Not only could I not run most of the time due to the fact that my throat kept closing (being sick while already an asthmatic is fun) but it was extremely hot that day! So I am very proud of my time!

This past Monday was also my brother’s fiance’s birthday so I decided to take the opportunity to make a dessert I had pinned a couple weeks ago – Oreo Poke Cake. I’ll take any excuse to bake something new, especially if it involves chocolate πŸ˜‰

The cake turned out great! Hallie loved it and there was so much leftover that I even took the cake into work. My coworkers were very appreciative and it was devoured in about 5 minutes. My boss even told me that it was “epic.” I’ll say this one was a success!

Oreo Poke Cake

  • Chocolate cake mix (plus what you need to make the cake, usually eggs, oil, and water)
  • 2 boxes of Oreo instant Jello pudding mix (4.2 ounces)
  • 4 cups of milk
  • Oreo cookie crumbles

Mix and bake cake mix in 9 x 13 in. pan according to instructions. When the cake has about 5 minutes left, begin making your pudding. Whisk the pudding mix with the cold milk for about two minutes, until lumps are gone. Let set only 2-3 minutes (not the whole 5, you don’t want it to set too thick or it won’t pour!)

Take cake out of oven and begin poking holes all over cake. Try to use something with a 1 inch diameter, like the end of a wooden spoon. Do as many holes as you’d like – there’s no such thing as too many or too little!

Pour your pudding mix all over cake and into the holes you created. Use the back of a spoon to help get the pudding into the holes. Let set 5-10 minutes and cool.

Cover & refrigerate for at least an hour. Top with Oreo cookie crumbles before serving.

What is your favorite type of cake to make?