everyday food made simple

Happy 2015 everyone! Did everyone have a good holiday season? I felt like everything after Thanksgiving of last year was all a blur. We had our turkey, we had our leftovers, and the next thing I knew, Christmas somehow crept up on us, then BAM! it was over. Just like that.

Life really got the best of us this year because we didn’t even have time to put up our Christmas tree. Tragic, right? At least we did hang our stockings and buy ourselves a wreath to hang on our door. I did make some Christmas cookies, listened to some Christmas jingles on the radio, Christmas shopped for Brian and Bentley, and ate my fair share in all things peppermint chocolate. So all in all, I guess it was a pretty good holiday season – simple and low-key.

As we waved 2014 good-bye and welcomed in 2015, here’s just a few of my accomplishments that occurred in the past year:

  • One of my new year resolutions for last year was to be better at keeping photo memories of our lives. I’m glad to say that I stuck to this all year and have an over-stuffed Project Life binder to prove it! It’s been fun capturing little everyday things, developing them into tangible photographs, and jotting down little notes and memories into my Project Life binder! I’ll definitely be continuing this for years and years to come.
  • I also managed to organize all my recipes into binders and categorized them according to the type of dishes they fall into. For This project actually started a few years ago and the number of recipes I started to collect grew so much that I actually had to buy separate binders for individual categories of food! I now have a separate binder for cakes and cupcakes, then another one for bars/brownies/blondies and cookies, one for all things s’mores and peppermint+chocolate, and a separate one for Thanksgiving alone!


  • This year was also the year of culinary firsts for me – I learned how to make cake pops, a three-layered cake, homemade salted caramel, Swiss meringue buttercream, homemade marshmallows, royal icing-decorated Christmas cookies, meringue cookies, homemade ice cream, and homemade apple butter. And I successfully carved a beautiful turkey with a surgeon’s precision on Thanksgiving.


  • I got LASIK! You can read about my experience here.
  • I officially became a certified veterinary technician and landed myself a full-time job at one of the best hospitals, less than two months after graduation. I now work with some amazingly talented individuals who teach me something new every day.

So there you have it, my friends! Here’s to an equally amazing 2015! xo

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1. I can’t believe it’s already November. In less than two months, we’ll be waving 2014 good-bye and welcoming in 2015. It seemed like it wasn’t all that long ago that I was just making new year resolutions! I honestly think the days and years go by faster as you get older.

2. The weather in Minnesota was gorgeous this fall. It was sunny and warm almost every day… until this week. I’m pretty sure as Daylight Savings Time ended, so did our streak of beautiful warm weather. This past week, it snowed. SNOWED!!!!! And the highs are only supposed to be in the upper teens~lower 20s this weekend and next week. 

Can everyone else just pause what they’re doing for a minute and panic with me?

The streets in our neighborhood are completely iced over but thank goodness the highways are clear (for now). I’m already bundled in layers and whining about how cold it is and winter hasn’t even really started yet. I just might decide to hibernate underneath the warmth of my covers for the next 6 months. Wake me up when it’s 50 and above.


***They said these temperatures are about 20 degrees below average for this time of year!***


3. Even though Thanksgiving is the next holiday in line, it seems like all the store shelves are already full of Christmas merchandises and everything peppermint chocolate. I was unable to resist the temptation of all things Christmas and already gave in to all the fun Christmas-y things, just one mere day after Halloween was over (sorry, Thanksgiving!).


4. Call us lame, but Brian and I usually go all out and plan a full Thanksgiving menu for just the two of us. It’s not that we’re loners (or losers)… it’s just that our families and friends either live far far away or have families of their own. Plus with my job, there’s usually a good chance that I’ll be working one (or all) of the major holidays. So for the past few years, we’ve been celebrating by ourselves. This year we’ll be having our Thanksgiving feast on Black Friday (I’ll be working all day Thanksgiving) – we already planned out our entire Thanksgiving menu last weekend, and this weekend I will be constructing a Thanksgiving timeline… because that’s totally what normal non-type-A-OCD-people do, right?

5. I also decided to be ahead of the game this year and ordered our Christmas cards a few weeks ago. They just came in the mail today, and I will be addressing them this weekend so they will be ready to be mailed out right after Thanksgiving. Getting things done way ahead of time makes me feel like I have my life together.

6. Has anyone had these? They’re ridiculously addicting and delicious! I’ve been having a hard time finding them at my local Target – the only place I have seen them is in the checkout aisle.


7. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Just don’t torture your dog with peppermint cookie ice cream like I did…


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Disclaimer: this post is super lengthy and it has nothing to do with food. The Whiting Clinic LASIK + Eye Care did not endorse me to write this review. This entry was written solely based on the purpose that I wanted to document my LASIK journey and serve as a review of my experience with the Whiting Clinic. All opinions are 100% my own.

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As long as I can remember, my eyesight has been bad. I like to blame it on genetics – both my parents are nearsighted, and everyone in our family has worse vision in their right eye than their left. My sister, that lucky duck, is the only one who still has perfect vision up to this day.

My first memory of having to wear corrective lenses goes way back to fourth grade. My dad took me to an optometrist, where I picked out a plastic, thick framed, ombre pink/transparent pair of glasses which I absolutely hated. Throughout the years, I’ve had multiple pairs of glasses varying in prescription, and they slowly became a part of me in which I’ve relied dependently to make the world a clearer place to see.

Over the years, I ended up with astigmatism along with my nearsightedness. I decided to get contacts when I was in high school after I joined the lacrosse team, and ever since then, putting in contacts became part of my daily routine.

Those at work all know I’m an extreme eye-wuss. Or as we call it, I’m one of those that “don’t do eyeballs”. Any sort of patient who comes in with any sort of eye problem automatically grosses me out. Whether it’s a bulging eyeball, a busted eyeball, a bloody eyeball, cherry eyes – you name it, I hate it. If there’s something wrong with the eye, you’ll see me running out the door. There has been times where I had to give eyedrops to patients with eye issues, and I had to ask other people to come do treatments for me because I just can’t do it. Nooooo thank you.

Some people ask me how I can put in and take out contacts if I have such a phobia to eyes – I tell them that I was lucky enough to have gotten contacts at a younger age, before I developed this weird eye phobia. Because there’s one thing I know for sure – If I had this eye phobia back then, I sure wouldn’t be able to bear the idea of my finger coming at my eyeball to put in contacts every morning, or the thought of picking at my eyeball to take my contacts out at the end of the day.

I’ve actually thought about getting LASIK for years but simply didn’t have to guts to bring myself to it. My reasoning? I only have one pair of eyes. What if something goes wrong during the procedure and I go blind forever?

I have since learned that going blind during a LASIK procedure is basically impossible, and that you’re more likely to get an infection from your contacts than LASIK. However, prior to gaining all this knowledge, reading all about how the procedure is done and the possible side effects and complications sure didn’t ease any of my skepticism. Plus, there are so many LASIK providers out there – who do I trust with my eyes????

A former coworker of mine, who also can’t stand all-things-eyeball-related, went to Dr. Whiting for her LASIK procedure a few years back… and she survived. A few other coworkers, including herself, kept telling me, “if Erika can do it, you can do it too.” She raved on how great of an experience she had – from the entire staff to the actual procedure itself, she had no complaints whatsoever. A few other friends also went to Dr. Whiting for their procedure and every single one of them recommended the place to me.

Upon further research that I conducted myself, I discovered that Dr. Whiting has done 100,000+ LASIK procedures and is considered one of the nation’s top LASIK surgeons. He’s the official LASIK provider for the Minnesota Wild hockey team, has done LASIK for many sports radio personalities (which is what sold Brian in the end), and other local “celebrities” as well. I figured if so many professionals trust him with their eyes, I should to able to, too.

So, I scheduled my free LASIK consultation, and by the end of the 90-minute appointment, I was sold.

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Well, my heart was sold. But my analytical brain insisted that having a blade come towards your eyeball and cut a flap on your cornea was not a good idea at all. It was just a consultation, but I was nervous. They say the appointment on procedure day would last about 90 minutes, but only takes about 30 seconds per eye. I remember asking, “so what happens during the rest of the 89 minutes of the appointment?!” I think Dr. Loomis sensed my anxiety because at one point he asked me why I was so nervous considering that it was only a consult exam… I remember I kept asking him if it was an actual blade that was going to cut my cornea open. Instead of trying to explain to me (apparently my brain was refusing to comprehend what he was saying), he went into the procedure room and took a blade off the machine that was just used on another patient.

You guys, it was an actual blade. Like a scalpel blade with an extremely sharp edge to it. I’m pretty sure I felt a slight wave of nausea. Apparently he’s never had to show the actual blade to anyone, but he decided he would for me just because I was so “curious”. I then was very tempted to ask him if there was any way I could keep the blade used on my eyes for my scrapbook, but decided that probably would’ve been a little too weird..

The days leading up to the procedure was nerve wracking. I’m not going to lie – I freaked out and had major anxiety the entire two weeks leading up to my procedure date. Every time I thought about it, I wanted to puke. The morning of the procedure definitely wasn’t any better either. They offered me either Benadryl or Valium to ease my anxiety… I would’ve taken the entire bottle of Valium if they would’ve let me. It relaxed me a little, but didn’t quite give me the sedative effect I was hoping for. I was not groggy and it definitely did not mess with my memory at all – it relaxed my muscles, but I was well aware of what was going on the entire time.

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Pre-op.. not sure if that’s a nervous smile or if it’s the Valium talking…

Like I expected, the actual procedure only took less than a minute per eye – it was over before I knew it. I can go into detail of everything I remember, but I think I’ll spare you guys the play-by-plays. During my consult exam, they did mention that I would only feel “pressure” during the procedure. I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical when they used that word. Coming from the medical field (I used to work in a human ER), I knew doctors would sometimes substitute the word “pain” with “pressure”. Patients are generally more receptive to something if they’re told “you’ll feel a little pressure” as opposed to “oh yeah this will probably be a little painful”.

I was glad that I indeed only felt pressure on my eye during the procedure. They numbed both my eyes up very well so the entire procedure was not painful at all. The whole time I felt like I was in a hypnotic-like state. I followed the technicians and Dr. Whiting’s instructions like my body just moved on command without my brain actually processing the information and telling my body what to do. From walking into the procedure room and laying underneath the cool, space-ship like laser machine, to seeing Dr. Whiting put on his sterile gloves (along with the “smack!” that goes with putting sterile gloves on) and throughout the entire procedure, I was under the magic spell of Valium and I felt like things were just happening around me before my brain even had a chance to process everything.

I got to go home that day with some fashionable shades that I wore around the house that weekend as well as to bed for the next week.

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Having a snuggle buddy always helps.

Lubricating eye drops will be my best friend for the next three months and the hardest part for me so far is remembering that I shouldn’t be rubbing my eyes. But it sure is nice not having to wear glasses or contacts! Some days I still have to remind myself that the reason things are crystal clear is because I got LASIK, not because I have contacts in.

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Since I have worked in the medical field for the past 6 years, I had high expectations of my entire LASIK experience (especially since so many of my friends recommended their facility to me). I’m pleased the say that my overall experience at the Whiting Clinic has exceeded all my expectations and then some.

Their entire staff are well-trained, polite, caring, and professional. We probably encountered close to 10 different people during our consult exam, on procedure day, and during my 1-day post-op check-up appointment, and every single one of them were fantastic. Everyone there is so friendly and does their best to put you at ease. Dr. Whiting has exceptional bedside manners and also has a very calming demeanor (which helped immensely to ease my anxiety). The facility is modern, clean, spacious, well-lit, with plenty of refreshments provided for both patients and family members (coffee and chocolate never hurts). They truly make it a customized experience for each and every patient – you get to choose the music you want in the background during your procedure and the mood lighting in the procedure room to help you relax. You also get to choose whether or not you want the curtain open for others to view your procedure from the huge glass window. From start to finish, every single little detail is tailored to each patient – I was impressed and extremely happy with both how I was treated and my results of my LASIK thus far.

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After my experience at the Whiting Clinic and knowing how a LASIK procedure actually is done, my current self would absolutely tell the Amy from two years ago that it’s definitely not as bad as I thought it was. And if (for some unfortunate reason) I had to do it again, I totally would in a heartbeat. It’s only been a little under a month since my procedure, but I have no regrets about my decision and I would absolutely put my trust in the fantastic staff at the Whiting Clinic to take care of my eyes from here on forward.

 ↓  I can guarantee you that this will never be me. Bye-bye glasses, forever and ever. I will never miss you.

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Lets be real here: no one is sadder about summer ending than I am. But as we welcome the cooler weather, the arrival of pumpkin spice lattes, apple season, delicious-smelling candles and soaps from Bath and Body Works, I feel like I should give summer the proper send-off by reflecting all the fun we had the past few months..

There was a lot of iced coffee involved…

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When I wasn’t working or baking/cooking and overdosing myself on caffeine, I was inseparable with my Kindle. I felt like was a nerd, and I was okay with it. I don’t think I’ve read so many books in so little time in my life. Here’s a glimpse of what I read this summer – out of all the ones I read, I think Dark Places and Labor Day were my favorite.

I read The Fault In Our Stars just to see what the fuss was about, and I thought it was just okay. I didn’t cry like a lot of people did… does that make me insensitive? I thought it was sad, but not sad enough to cry (books don’t make me cry much in general).

I’m currently reading The Book Thief and I’m liking it so far. I have Brain On Fire and Abducted next on my list, along with 43 other books on my Amazon wish list…

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I feel like there’s always a “theme” to my summers. Last year was the Summer of Homemade Drinks. This year was the Summer of Homemade Frozen Treats. Ice cream, custard, popsicles were my summer anthems.

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We also made s’mores. Lots and lots of s’mores. Especially peanut butter s’mores. Amazeballs, I tell ya (I’m a little ashamed I just actually typed that word).

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And grilled. A lot. Brian also bought a smoker, which he loved using.. and I loved eating everything that came off of it.

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We took a little road trip up to Brainerd one weekend for a biking trip (the Paul Bunyan Trail it totally worth checking out). It was a pretty successful trip, if you don’t count the fact that I ended up wrecking my bike by falling on it. I didn’t fall while riding on my bike… I literally fell onto my bike while walking it back to the hotel. My knees were cut up and bruised in the shape of the spokes and my wheel was totally bent from my entire body landing on top of it. It was quite embarrassing, but I was more sad about breaking my bike and having to spend money to fix it.

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Nothing a little bit of good food, chocolate, and ice cream can’t fix though.

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And of course, you can’t forget the Minnesota State Fair that officially marks the end of summer.

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As much as I love digging out those fall boots and hoodies from the closet, a little piece of me cried inside when I had to wear a long sleeve shirt underneath my scrubs the other day.. and I already caved and bought my first pumpkin drink of the season (I suck at resisting peer pressure).

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© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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I know we’re a good month into 2014 already – is it too late to start a list of new year resolutions? In case it’s not too late for me to hop on the new year resolutions train, I have compiled a list of things I’d like to improve on during the remaining 11 months of 2014.


On a side note – can you believe 2014 is already 1/12 over?! I can’t. I also can’t believe Target already has Easter candy out on their shelves. I mean c’mon, February isn’t even here yet. We haven’t even had Valentine’s Day either. And what’s up with rack fulls of summer bikinis? Seriously – Target does know that this is Minnesota, the land of 30-degree weathers up until May, right?

Oh yeah. Back to resolutions… unlike some of my friends, I didn’t come up with this list on New Years Eve. These aren’t necessarily the “typical” things people put on their list (i.e. stop smoking, go to the gym more, get in shape, etc… <— although those are good too!)… These are things that have been on my mind for quite some time now, and since I’m done with school and will be having a “regular” schedule to my life, this will be the year that I accomplish some of my goals that I’ve always wanted to do.

So in case you were wondering what goals I have for 2014, here they are:

  • Be better at creating photo memories of our lives. I have always had the tendency to go a little shutter happy (I get it from my mom) – I had to upgrade to a 16G iPhone because I simply had too many pictures on my old 8G phone that I didn’t have enough space to update my apps. However, I haven’t been developing pictures and creating photo books as much as I would like either, so all the pictures of our past 3 years together have been kept on my phone. Now that I have more time on my hands, I want to spend more time creating tangible photo book memories for us. As great as the digital age is, there’s still something about flipping though actual pictures and reliving memories that makes it better than looking at pictures on your computer screen. This leads me to my next resolution…
  • Project Life. After reading multiple other bloggers rave about how simple and easy this system is, I took the plunge and bought myself an album, a core kit, and some photo pocket pages! Once upon a time, I attempted the traditional scrapbooking thing, but quickly realized that 1) I didn’t have time to sit around cutting and pasting and designing a single page, 2) I found out that buying all the supplies quickly drains your bank account, and 3) I simply was not creative enough to come up with cool ways to “decorate” a page. My analytical, logical left-sided brain just was not capable of being creative. I’m also hoping the simplicity of PL will motivate me to take more pictures, develop more pictures, and take time out every month to document big things that happen in our lives.

              Project life

  • Be more adventurous. This year marks the first year that I officially enter the real world and no longer have to worry about homework, school, exams, and papers. I’m (optimistically) hoping that this means I will have more free time on my hands. Now that I can relax and enjoy my days off, I want to go out and do fun things outside…. things that I’ve always wanted to do for years (and things that I haven’t been able to do because of school). I’ve always wanted to go rock climbing. I’ve always wanted to go to a shooting range. I’ve been itching to go snowshoeing. I’ve always wanted to go for a long drive up north in the fall and take beautiful pictures of the fall colors. I want to go pick a pumpkin and carve it – I’ve never carved a pumpkin before (can you believe that?). I want to go mini golfing, lay out in the sun, have barbeques with friends, and take my bike out for a spin. The list can go on and on, but you get the idea.
  • Menu plan. Although we do a pretty good job at menu planning every once in a while, I would like for it to be more consistent, since “what’s for dinner?” seems to be the world’s most difficult question in our house. I recently created a Menu Planning binder after a little inspiration from Pinterest, so I’d like to put that in use more and plan 1-2 weeks worth of dinner menus ahead of time to make life a little bit easier. This is what my menu planner looks like – of course, a little bit of colorful sticky notes doesn’t hurt either :)

             Menu 2

             Menu 3 

             Menu 1

  • Improve my food photography skills. This one is pretty self-explanatory. I know my photography skills have come a long way since SEF started a year ago, but I know I still have a long ways to go. It’s quite funny how much food (blogging, styling, photographing, and the making of food) has taken over my life – I think about it almost every single waking moment. When I wake up, I think about what I’m going to make today. Before I fall asleep, I think about what I need to make the next day. I also think about food nonstop throughout the day. When I watch TV, it’s usually about food. Even the books I read involve some aspect about food. I want to learn more about the lighting and styling of food, since we all eat with our eyes, right?
  • Learn how to make macarons. This actually has been on my bucket list for quite some time now. I have a few macaron recipes, but I just never really had the time courage to attempt them. Maybe this will be my year…
  • Learn how to make bread. The only bread I have ever made are my mom’s banana bread. I’m hoping I can expand my horizons and learn how to make homemade bread that isn’t just plain old banana bread.
  • Be better at brushing Bentley’s teeth on a regular basis. No one likes brushing their pet’s teeth. And 9 times out of 10, the dog hates it just as much as we do. Bentley’s definitely one of those dogs and brushing his teeth is a two-person job. All he does is lick the toothpaste and gnaw on the toothbrush. I swear most of the time his teeth isn’t properly brushed, and everybody is left annoyed and frustrated. I know how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth. I know that periodontal disease is the #1 dental disease in canines. I know boxers are especially prone to certain dental problems. And most of all, I know how much it can potentially cost (financially) if your pet’s teeth are not properly taken care of. For all those reasons, I want to be better at brushing Bentley’s teeth on a regular basis this year. Even if it seems like all he did was swallow the toothpaste, I have to remind myself that anything is better than nothing, and that plaque and tartar can form within hours of eating. Hopefully diligent teeth-brushing will save us some dental cleaning bills in the future.

So that’s it, folks! Those are my major goals for 2014. Do you usually come up with new year resolutions? What are they? Do you follow them?

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