Archive of ‘Life’ category

our favorite Trader Joe’s items

Trader Joe’s is a magical place.

Our Favorite Trader Joe's Items | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

There wasn’t a Trader Joe’s near our house growing up, but I took fiddling lessons in the same shopping center as one of their stores in high school. After my lessons, my dad and I would pick up a fun snack for the 35-minute car ride home. It wasn’t until I began grocery shopping on my own that I realized Trader Joe’s is great for so many more items than just car snacks (though it is a mecca for those too). Now, Will and I stop by our local TJ’s as part of our weekly grocery shopping trip to pick up some of our favorite Trader Joe’s items. Some of these items are only sold at Trader Joe’s, but for those that are sold elsewhere, we find that Trader Joe’s has the best price or our favorite version of the product.

  • Almond butter – we get the unsalted version and the only ingredient is almonds!
  • Apples – we love the bags of Honeycrisps or individual Pink Lady apples (sometimes called Cripps Pink)
  • Clementine cranberry sparkling water – the best sparkling water flavor they sell, in our opinion
  • Pound plus dark chocolate bars – I chop these to use in cookies instead of, or in addition to, chocolate chips. The chocolate is delicious and melts better than chocolate chips.
  • Raw nuts – typically almonds and pecans, but I love that they carry hard-to-find raw cashews and hazelnuts
  • Brussels sprouts on the stalk (when in season)
  • Flowers – they have great prices on cut flowers and plants!
  • “Just Mango Slices” – dried mangos without any additional sweeteners
  • Other dried fruits – we especially love the apricots
  • Peanut butter filled pretzels – these were one of my favorite post-run snacks when I was training for my marathon
  • Dried lentils – these make for a quick, filling dish!
  • Cheese isn’t a staple on our list, but we like to pick up cheese from Trader Joe’s when we host people for dinner or when we make a special dish. Trader Joe’s has a pretty good selection and their cheeses are often less expensive than they are at other stores.

What are your favorite Trader Joe’s items? What should we add to our list?

loving lately

I’m popping in for something I haven’t done in a while: a quick round up of things I have been loving lately. These are totally random, but have caught my eye lately so I thought I would share!

Loving Lately: Cadbury Mini Eggs | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

1. Ruffle sleeved floral dresses. Everytime I see a floral spring dress I think of the line in The Devil Wears Prada, “florals for spring? Groundbreaking.” While that sarcastic statement plays out in real life every year, I am a sucker for this beautiful floral shirtdress at LOFT, this navy ruffle sleeve floral dress from Draper James this year.

2. Athleta leggings. I have been on the hunt for a new pair of cropped or mesh panel leggings, and love so many of the pairs Athleta has out right now. This pair, this pair, and this pair are top cropped contenders, and this long pair and this 7/8 pair are making me want to change my mind about the length. The stripes are probably my favorite, which is absolutely no surprise to anyone who knows me.

3. Found/Tonight. I have been listening to this song Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt made together in support of March for Our Lives on repeat. Listening to this song with the speeches and images from the March for Our Lives is so moving.

4. Cadbury mini eggs. As you may have been able to tell, I am on a Cadbury mini egg kick. They are only out for a little longer, so us Cadbury mini-egg lovers have to get them while we can!

5. Lake pajamas. This long-short set in mini-stripes

This post contains affiliate links.

marathon training and tips for setting (and achieving) big goals

Back in the fall, I signed up for a marathon. 26.2 miles. Before training for this race, the farthest I had ever run were half marathons. Over the past few years I have run three half marathons, the last one in 2015 in Brooklyn with a group of good friends, many who had never run a half before. When I finished that race I thought to myself, I think could keep going for a few more miles, not double what I had just done, but a few more. The thought of running a marathon was so daunting, but felt more achievable in that moment than it ever had before.

Marathon Training and How to Set (and Achieve) Big Goals | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Fast-forward almost exactly two years to October 2017. I was actively refreshing my screen to track one of my friends who was running the Chicago Marathon. This same friend ran the Brooklyn half with me and had never run a half marathon before that race. So impressive (go Avery!)!

I had been thinking about signing up for a marathon for a few months, and even looked into different races and courses, but hadn’t actually made concrete plans to run any of them. In my experience with racing in both the fall and spring, I knew I much rather do long runs in the cold winter weather than in the blazing hot, humid North Carolina summers, but to do a spring marathon, my training time would have to start soon. The renewed inspiration from watching this amazing friend in the Chicago Marathon prompted me to really dig into my race search and actually make a decision. Within a few days, I signed up for a March marathon in D.C. and dove into training, building up my miles each week.

Marathon Training and How to Set (and Achieve) Big Goals | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Training for this race was such a learning process about what I can do and what my body needs in order to accomplish these long runs, but was also amazingly empowering. I had never run anything longer than 13.1 miles and was afraid of the longer runs leading up to the race. When I broke the 16-mile barrier I immediately felt better about marathon training, and felt so proud of what I could accomplish! Each week after that was longer than I had ever run, but setting my mind to it, mapping out a course ahead of time, talking through my route, and gathering all of the supplies I needed to feel like I was prepared made me feel like these were milestones I could accomplish!

This past weekend I ran 26.2 miles. It was long and I was sore during, and still a few days after the race, but I did it – I ran a marathon! I was both nervous and excited going into the race, but mostly excited. I was not going for a specific time, just for safe completion. Before I left for D.C. on Friday, a coworker told me that completing a large goal like this takes ambition, perseverance, courage, determination, hard work, and planning, and that these are things I should be proud of whether or not I finished the race, and completing the 26.2 miles would be the cherry on top. In the races I have run in the past I would have felt frustrated and like I was a disappointment if I didn’t finish the race within a certain time, but marathon training taught me that we are capable of doing so much, and should be proud of all parts of our accomplishments, even just the long training runs along the way.

Marathon Training and How to Set (and Achieve) Big Goals | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

I am by no means a marathon guru, but I like to think of marathon training and prep as I would other large goals on my list. With that in mind, these are a few tips I have found useful in setting and achieving big goals:

Make a plan and take action steps on it
Decide a timeline for when you want to achieve your goal. For a race like this that included looking at how long I would need to train, when I wanted to train (winter or summer), and where the races were located. Once I had planned out the timing my action steps were registering for a race and beginning to train.

Write out the smaller steps you need to take to achieve your goal
Once I decided to run a marathon and signed up for one, I needed to put in steps to make sure I achieved that goal. I looked up a training plan and wrote in all of my runs in my planner and put the long runs in my iCal. This might sound overboard, but I had to make sure I had enough time blocked off on those weekends when I had to complete those really long runs. This also helped my weekday planning because I knew when I needed to shift my running scheduled to accommodate dinners with friends and family or evening work events. I didn’t get to the end of the week upset about what I wasn’t able to accomplish because I had planned ahead and made time for each run.

Get prepared
I mentioned a few of the things that helped me before my long runs were mapping out my run (I use mapmyrun.com) and gathering all of the supplies I needed. I listen to podcasts on my long runs, so part of my preparation was to find and download podcasts I wanted to listen to, and make sure I had enough to cover the amount of time I would spend running so I didn’t have a spurt of silence at the end. I like to get more than enough Gu packets, fill a handheld water bottle, and gather all of my rain gear before my long runs. Running a few of my long runs in the rain instead of waiting for sunny days also helped me feel more prepared in case I have to deal with nasty weather on race day.

Start (and keep going)
To achieve a new goal, you have to start somewhere. We have all heard the saying “a year from now you will wish you had started today.” Start now, friends! What is stopping you?

I follow Cultivate What Matters, a company dedicated to helping others achieve their goals, on Instagram. As I scroll, I often see one of their slogans, “little by little, progress adds up,” pop up in those little squares. This is true for all of our big goals, but it is visibly and tangibly true in race training. You start the training plan with smaller, single-digit miles and add one or two to your runs each week, until a few months later you are up to 26.2 miles! You can see visible progress when you look at the number of miles on paper, and feel tangible progress through your accomplishment and your sore legs when you finish those long runs.

Running a marathon isn’t something that everyone wants to do, but it certainly a good metaphor for those other large goals you might have that just haven’t come to fruition yet. It is hard to start with such a lofty end goal in mind, but with some preparation, doable action steps, and the encouragement to start and not stop, you can accomplish those goals, too!

Thank you for supporting me as I continue to chase my goals :)

2018 March Goals | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

everyday cookbooks

As the millennial that I am, I get most of my dinner recipes from some of my favorite food blogs online. I’ll let you in on a little secret that might sound blasphemous to many people: I don’t look for recipes on Pinterest. To me, Pinterest, like Instagram, is a place for pretty photos that inspire me, not necessarily day-to-day tips and tricks. Pinterest gets overwhelming, and isn’t organized enough for me to be able to find recipes that I want, so I stick to blogs and cookbooks.

Everyday Cookbooks

I have a great arsenal of cookbooks that are focused on baking, but not many that are for cooking, or for easy, healthy dinner recipes, which is typically what I’m looking for when I meal plan for the week. In the past year, I received Molly on the Range (thanks, Carter!) and Love and Lemons for my birthday (thanks, Mimi!), and have loved having a couple of great cookbooks on hand to turn to when I’m stuck in a meal-planning rut, or just to gain inspiration for new recipes when the seasons change and new produce is fresh and available. Since then I have had my eye on a few other cookbooks to use for the same purpose.

Everyday Cookbooks

A bunch of great cookbooks have come out in the past year, and a few are coming out soon, so I thought I would share some of the ones that are on my radar. Again, since I already get most of my recipes from food blogs, I tend to gravitate toward the cookbooks that are written by food bloggers who create recipes that I like, or recipe developers and contributors for prominent food publications.

Recent or upcoming cookbooks:
Pretty Simple Cooking by Sonja and Alex Overhiser of A Couple Cooks
The Pretty Dish by Jessica Merchant of How Sweet It Is, coming out March 20, 2018
Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor of Cookie & Kate
The Minimalist Kitchen by Melissa Coleman of The Faux Martha, coming out April 10, 2018
Dining In by Alison Roman
Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen
Half Baked Harvest Cookbook by Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest

Slightly older, but great for healthy, tasty dinners:
Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking by Dana Shultz of Minimalist Baker
Love and Lemons Cookbook by Jeanine Donofrio of Love and Lemons
Molly on the Range by Molly Yeh of My Name is Yeh

Do you have a well-loved cookbook that you use all the time? I’m all ears!

This post contains affiliate links. First photo via A Couple Cooks, second photo via Fairing Well.

january goals

This is the week of goals here! How have you been doing with yours? It feels like my December goals post was so so far away. So much has happened since then! In efforts to cultivate my goal of simplifying this year, I’m going to try to add one thing that will simplify my life to each month’s goals. This month I’m focusing on my home – decluttering and purging. I have read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “A Simplified Life” which both give great tips on decluttering, but I’m still not very good at it. Wish me luck!

2018 january goals | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

December Goals
– Get all of our Christmas shopping done by December 17 (we’re so close already!)  YES! All of our Christmas shopping except for a few stocking stuffers was done by December 10th! This was one of the best things we did this season – it left room for more Christmas activities and I was less stressed about finishing our shopping than I have been in previous years.
– Continue to exercise and practice self-care as the season gets crazy. This includes getting more sleep than I have been getting recently.  Definitely didn’t get more sleep, but I did a great job at keeping up an exercise routine, so I’m marking this as completed.
– Post all of my gift guides by December 12 – Nope, but close. I should have switched this date with the date for finishing my Christmas shopping ;)
– Decorate for Christmas so our home is available for planned or impromptu holiday gatherings  Yes! I seriously cried when we had to take down the Christmas tree before we left on our New Year’s trip.
– Meal plan again – we have been going out of town so much that our meal planning fell to the side on weekends, which left us scrounging during the week. I want to get back to planning our meals again because it always makes the evenings less stressful. – Didn’t do a great job of this at all. Whomp whomp.
– Spend meaningful time with both of our families for Christmas celebrations Yes, yes, yes. We spent time with lots of family in December and it was all so wonderful.

January Goals
– Clean our apartment
– Purge at least one bag of things I don’t use or need
– Build in free time on our trips to make them relaxing rather than overwhelming
– Wake up early enough to enjoy a slow morning before work at least two days a week
– Get back to meal planning

What are your January goals? Any tips for decluttering? I’m all ears!

2018

2018 goals

Happy 2018! I didn’t intend to take so much time off from blogging, but with a very busy holiday season I didn’t have much time to take and edit photos or write posts. I would usually stress about the next time I would be able to prepare a post, but I found such peace from spending time with friends and family over the holidays that I realized I haven’t had (or haven’t made time for) relaxation and rejuvenation in a long time. Instead of stressing about a certain number of blog or Instagram posts over the last few weeks, I focused on being present with the people I love and doing things just for enjoyment, not for social media. While I spent the end of 2017 rushed and exhausted, I entered 2018 refreshed and relaxed.

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but as you know, I do like regularly setting good goals. Last year my goal was growth, and I really feel like I achieved that in many aspects of my life. I grew in my professional life, creative abilities, skills, fitness, and toward the end of the year, in my ability to recognize when I need to simplify and slow down. I learned a lot and am excited to put it all to use this year.

I recently read the book, A Simplified Life, by Emily Ley. The principle of the book is that in our modern world we are living busy, overwhelming lives, and have a lot of things vying for our attention, but we can adjust some of these things to make life a little simpler so we have more time to enjoy those we love and the rest and activities that fill our tanks. As I learned in December, continuing at such a crazy pace will quickly drain me and eventually cause burnout. These lessons come at a fitting time, as 2018 is so fresh and I am coming off such a wonderful period of rejuvenating rest. My goal for this year is to put those lessons to use and simplify. It will be easier in some areas of life and very difficult in others, but I know it will make for a better year and a better me when I am with my family and friends.

I’m looking forward to getting back into blogging this week, and I’m so excited for what this new year holds! Happy new year, friends!

how to build your own hot chocolate bar

With people rotating in and out of our homes this time of year, I love to have hot chocolate and a few treats on hand to make everyone feel comfortable and special. A hot chocolate bar is one of my favorite ways to do this.

Hot Chocolate Bar | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Stocked with an apothecary jar full of hot cocoa powder, homemade marshmallows, candy canes, and Christmas cookies, everyone can build their perfect cup of hot cocoa with little hands-on time from the host or hostess. Last year, I created a hot chocolate bar for a baby shower I hosted for two friends and ended up leaving it out for the rest of the season, replenishing the toppings after visits with family and friends. It made the perfect welcoming touch and was so fun to have on hand!

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows with Peppermint | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Hot Chocolate Bar | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows with Peppermint | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

I usually place my electric kettle and some fun holiday mugs around the spread so everything is ready whenever guests decide to partake. A 1-tablespoon measuring spoon and a small whisk with it’s own plate to catch drips are two easily forgotten, but helpful items for measuring the right amount of cocoa and getting rid of those pesky clumps. One trick my mom taught me on snow days when I was younger is to pour the hot chocolate mix into the mug, add a little bit of hot water, and whisk to create a thick, almost syrup-like mixture. Then add the rest of the water for your perfect mug of cocoa. This process makes sure there are no lumps of unmixed cocoa powder floating at the top of your otherwise beautiful mug.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows with Peppermint | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Hot Chocolate Bar | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Homemade marshmallows aren’t necessary, but they make a huge statement for the small amount of extra effort it takes to make them. I went with plain marshmallows this year (just substitute vanilla for the peppermint in these peppermint ones), with some dipped in chocolate and crushed peppermint, but in the past have made peppermint, gingerbread, eggnog, whiskey, and amaretto flavored marshmallows for a fun treat! While the bar transforms into a hot chocolate station, don’t worry about moving all of the alcohol. I like to leave the liqueurs that make for tasty spiked hot chocolates, like Irish cream, hazelnut liqueur, coffee-flavored liqueur, and peppermint schnapps.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows with Peppermint | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows with Peppermint | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

To create your own hot chocolate bar like this one you will need:

  • Hot chocolate mix (powder, homemade, or piles of chocolate shavings, like this)
  • Hot water or milk in an electric kettle or air pot
  • Marshmallows
  • Candy canes
  • Cookies (I included my favorites from this year – brown butter ginger cookies)
  • 1-tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop the hot chocolate powder
  • Small whisk and a plate or bowl for it to rest on after people use it
  • Mugs
  • Fairy lights
  • Flavored liqueurs

While you may not think designing a bar cart is much like decorating a room, it takes more zhushing than I sometimes think it will. It is a fun way to start small and work your style into your holiday decor, or just your rooms in general after the holidays. Sometimes it is hard to move past the small pieces of decorating and see the big picture, or tackle a whole room. I have heard so many people talking about affordable online interior designs, like Havenly, recently, which seems like a great mid-way point between designing your own bar cart and designing your own room.

I can’t wait to settle down this weekend and fix my perfect cup of hot chocolate – who said it was only for guests? ;) What are your favorite hot chocolate toppings? Anything I should add to my rotation?

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows with Peppermint | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.comThis post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Pass the Cookies.

 

girls’ mountain weekend

Before November gets away from us, I want to share one of the most fun parts of October, both this year and last year. In my post on my quick trip to NYC I touched on the drastic difference between the mountains and the city, which was especially noticeable after visiting them only nine days apart.

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

We started the weekend off with brunch at a quaint coffee shop “in town.” I always find it so funny that we “go into town” when we visit. That is such a novel concept for me – the girl who takes public transportation to work. After brunch, we took our time meandering along the winding Blue Ridge Parkway, taking in the beautiful leaves and the fog rolling between the mountains. We hopped off in one of the towns along the parkway and stopped at a corn maze, which has likely already changed over to be a Christmas tree supplier. The whole weekend was what I imagine to be the quintessential fall mountain weekend: slow breakfast, Blue Ridge Parkway drives with changing leaves, and a corn maze to top it off.

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

It was so special to be able to spend some girl time together before this lovely long-time friend had her baby (welcome, baby Fletcher!). It was such a fun, and much-needed relaxing trip in the midst of an otherwise busy time. In this time of daily texts, fawning over the new life that our friend is nurturing, and giving thanks for all we have, I am more grateful than ever for these lifelong friends of mine. These friends who have been and always will be there for me, who support me and encourage me, and who lift me up and pray for me when I need it most. We have memories together dating back to when we were toddlers, and needless to say, have gone through lots of life changes together, but this sweet season of encouragement through our life changes is one of the best ones.

coffeeneuring

The title of this post may sound a bit strange, but stick with me here – I think you’ll like it. Coffeeneuring is touted as a relaxed cycling endeavor for people who like riding bikes and enjoy drinking coffee or tea. Over the course of six weeks, participants must ride their bikes at least two miles round-trip to seven different places that serve coffee (or coffee shop-type drinks) and take photos for evidence. The term coffeeneuring is made up, but has its roots in the French term randonneuring, which is a long distance cycling sport.

Coffeeneuring 2017 | www.passthecookies.com | Pass the Cookies

Will’s stepdad is an active randonneur, completing at least one 200+ kilometer bike ride a month. Last year, he and Will’s mom participated in the coffeeneuring challenge. Each week they would invite us to join, but we would brush it off and think, there’s no way we can keep up with a cyclist who bikes 200+ kilometers a month, when we rarely bike anywhere. No way. When the coffeeneuring challenge approached this year, we were once again nudged to try it out.

For the past few years, Will has often used his bike to get to and from classes or early morning clinical rotations when he didn’t want to wake me up to drive him, but the buses weren’t running yet, but I hadn’t biked around town at all since my days of living in the Netherlands on my college study abroad trip. Biking in the Netherlands is a totally different experience from biking in the US. In the Netherlands there are dedicated bike stoplights, huge bike lanes and alleys, and overwhelmingly more bikes than cars. While our town is very bike-friendly compared to most cities and towns, I was still wary about our ability to bike to coffee shops around the area.

Coffeeneuring 2017 | www.passthecookies.com | Pass the Cookies

We decided to do a test ride the weekend before the official coffeeneuring challenge started to see if we could do it and how we liked it. We biked about 8.5 miles round-trip, up and down hills, and through campus, stopping at our local farmers’ market and the coffee shop. We loved it. While I was nervous at first, we quickly got the hang of it and, most importantly, didn’t take it too seriously and had fun along the way.

So we took on the full challenge and for the past five-ish weeks, Will and I have biked to one or two coffee shops a week, documenting our cycling-coffee dates each time. What we thought would be a difficult activity has turned into a fun date that we will likely continue past the sanctioned coffeeneuring challenge weeks. Each trip is a fun adventure that forces us to branch out and try something new – whether that is biking up huge hill, riding on a different portion of the greenway, or visiting a coffee shop we haven’t tried before.

These photos were all taken by the easiest thing for us to carry – an iPhone (and not the newest model at that), so pardon the poor quality. Also excuse the helmet heads – safety first! :)

Coffeeneuring 2017 | www.passthecookies.com | Pass the Cookies

Date: October 13, 2017
Coffee shop: Coco + Bean
Drinks ordered: Will – drip coffee, Hope – steamed apple cider
Favorite part of this trip: As our first trip, my favorite part was showing ourselves that we could do this! I loved proving to ourselves that we could bike 8.5 miles, up hills, and to a coffee shop, and it was actually fun!

Coffeeneuring 2017 | www.passthecookies.com | Pass the Cookies

Date: October 19, 2017
Coffee shop: Perennial Coffee
Drinks ordered: Will & Hope – drip coffee
Favorite part of this trip: The best part of this trip was the cute, quaint coffee shop experience on a quiet weekday. Perennial is a brand new coffee shop on Franklin Street and is covered in pretty green plants and Instagrammable tile floors and brick walls. It is a very thin shotgun-style building so most of the seating is upstairs. We went right when they opened before work on a weekday and it was fun to have the whole shop to ourselves.

Coffeeneuring 2017 | www.passthecookies.com | Pass the Cookies

Coffeeneuring 2017 | www.passthecookies.com | Pass the Cookies

Date: October 21, 2017
Coffee shop: Caribou Coffee
Drinks ordered: Will – drip coffee (sensing a theme here?), Hope – pumpkin spice latte
Favorite part of this trip: We were originally planning on stopping at a cafe that was about two miles closer than Caribou, but when we got there we spontaneously decided to keep going. I’m not a spontaneous person, but it was so fun to again be able to show ourselves that we could go farther than we originally thought we could. Caribou is close to where we lived for the first two years we were married so it brought back fun memories too. After proving to ourselves (again) that we could go farther, my second favorite part of this ride was the brand spanking new (like not even fully complete yet) bike path/greenway that we discovered on our way back home. It was AMAZING and gorgeous, even though it unexpectedly ended in the steepest hill in all of Chapel Hill.

Coffeeneuring 2017 | www.passthecookies.com | Pass the Cookies

Date: October 23, 2017
Coffee shop: Friends’ Cafe
Drinks ordered: Will – drip coffee, Hope – almond milk latte
Favorite part of this trip: Friends’ Cafe is one of my all time favorite coffee shops in the area. It isn’t gorgeous or fancy, but the people are nice, the drinks are great quality, and the atmosphere is always wonderful. We turned this coffeeneuring trip into a pre-work/school date. Besides just being in Friends’ Cafe, my favorite part of this one was being able to relax and ease into the day after a wonderful morning bike ride and coffee shop date.

Coffeeneuring 2017 | www.passthecookies.com | Pass the Cookies

Date: October 27, 2017
Coffee shop: Open Eye Cafe
Drinks ordered: Will & Hope (shared both drinks) – hot chocolate and hot apple cider
Favorite part of this trip: This was our first colder ride, so from the get-go I had my mind set on cold weather drinks. Open Eye is another local coffee shop that I always love, so being able to spend a Friday evening together there with our first warm seasonal drinks was the best part of this ride.

Coffeeneuring 2017 | www.passthecookies.com | Pass the Cookies

Coffeeneuring 2017 | www.passthecookies.com | Pass the Cookies

Date: October 31, 2017
Coffee shop: Gray Squirrel Coffee Co.
Drinks ordered: Will & Hope – drip coffee
Favorite part of this trip: Another pre-work/school ride was our Halloween trip to Gray Squirrel. Gray Squirrel just recently opened their own building (they used to share a building with a brewery) and I have been dying to visit. We weren’t able to spend much time here, but I realized (and appreciated) how much a morning coffee shop date can lift my mood for the whole day.

Coffeeneuring 2017 | www.passthecookies.com | Pass the Cookies

Coffeeneuring 2017 | www.passthecookies.com | Pass the Cookies

Date: November 4, 2017
Coffee shop: Starbucks
Drinks ordered: Will – drip coffee (yup, no change here), Hope – “Joy” tea
Favorite part of this trip: I’m going to be totally cliche here and say that, behind being able to spend time with Will, my favorite part of this coffeeneuring jaunt was getting holiday tea in a “red cup” for the first time this season. That experience just makes you feel like everything is more joyful :)

So, what coffee shops should we try next?!*
*By bike or by car :)

what is your favorite pick-me-up?

What is your favorite pick me up? | www.passthecookies.com

Some days you just need a little boost, or a small treat to get you over that 3 p.m. hump. Do you have a favorite pick-me-up? What about a regular coffee shop order? I have always wanted to be the type of person with a go-to order, or at least have a place I visit so frequently that the staff recognizes me. I go to a small coffee shop a few times a week during my lunch break, sometimes to grab a drink or snack, sometimes just to do some blog work, and finally feel like the baristas know who I am when I walk up to the counter. The dilemma here is that they don’t ask for names for your order, and I pay with cash to get their “cash card” benefits, so they still don’t know my name, haha! Despite not knowing my name, it does feel nice to know that they recognize me and know me a little bit, even if it is just my schedule, habits, and random caffeine orders :)

While I often switch around my coffee shop order, I definitely have a few snacks I reach for consistently (apples, almonds, tea, coffee, and dark chocolate), which sometimes serve as my go-to pick-me-ups for other people too. Throughout the year I like to ask my friends and coworkers for their favorite coffee-shop order, snacks, or treats. Then when I need an easy way to say happy birthday or want to grab a pick-me-up on a hard day, I already know what to get. To really be prepared for any occasion, you can expand this and ask for a favorite candy, favorite food, favorite flower, etc. I have a huge Google Doc with a group of my college friends with all of our contact information and favorite things – I’m talking columns A-ZZ filled with addresses, birthdays and favorite snacks, drinks, patterns, colors, office supply the list goes on and on. This makes it so easy to know when birthdays are coming up, and exactly how to love them best at any time of the year! It is easy to send a “thinking of you” card or gift they will love (I love me some snail mail), and, when the time comes, makes secret Santa so much easier, too! So, what’s your go-to pick-me-up? What goodies should I add to my list?

Pumpkin Bread with Chai Crumble | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

First photo via Pinterest, second photo from my pumpkin bread with chai crumble.

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