WIAW and How Do You Approach the Holidays?

We’re coming right up on the holiday season. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re either interested in your health and fitness, or you’re my parents.

For those interested in health, the holidays can be a tumultuous time. There are conflicting tensions between the desire to maintain physical health while still enjoying holiday foods and festivities.


I knew in the past this has been an issue for me. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the holidays. I love the traditions, the food, the special events. But I also value my health. In the past, this tension would make me crazy, anxious, and angry around the holidays. I was always trying to avoid sugar, resist the goodies. But I would be miserable and feel like I was missing out. And I would inevitably give in and eat all the foods anyways, eat a ton of them, and feel terrible.


By the time the actual day of Christmas rolled around, I would be a mess. And every year around the holidays I would gain weight.

Last year was the first holiday season in many years that this didn’t happen. It was partly because I was still so sick then with my chronic stomach issue. I physically couldn’t go crazy eating things without my body turning on me. But that changed my perspective, because I appreciated what I could and did eat more. I think that experience, plus some maturity and changes in values, has shifted how I look at food and the holidays. That being said, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on how to stay “healthy” throughout the holidays. (Note the quotations).


  1. Don’t think of it as “surviving the holidays.” Think about “enjoying the holidays.” I know it’s easier said than done, but the holidays are not about dieting and resisting delicious food, they’re about family, traditions, and joy.
  2. Similarly, I really don’t recommend trying to avoid all the holidays foods. In my experience, that leaves me miserable and craving them even more. Life’s too short to not enjoy eggnog, or a Christmas morning mimosa, or your Grandma’s special homemade pie. Letting go of that restrictive mentality isn’t easy, but it’s freeing.
  3. Trust your body. Don’t stress the changes. Here’s the deal. No one is going to wake up every single day weighing precisely the same amount. So many factors go into play. We see these stats everywhere: “Americans gain an average of 5 pounds every holiday season.” Here’s the deal. I guarantee that is not 5 pounds of pure fat. Carbohydrates hold 4x their weight in water. If you eat a lot of sugar or bread products over the holidays, your body will retain water. But guess what? That will disappear when you return to your normal routine. I finally started trusting my body. If I eat a big, delicious meal and lots of sugar, I realize that I might gain some weight but I don’t freak out because a) it’s not that serious and b) I trust that when things return to normal my body will too.


All those were more ways to mentally approach the holidays. While I definitely preach enjoying everything, I also want to make it a priority this holiday season to still feel good so I can fully enjoy everything. So I do want to talk about some ways to do that as well.

  1. Maintain your normal routine as much as possible when not at events. Go to holiday parties on the weekends, have a good time, and enjoy good food, but eating cake and cookies at a party on the weekend doesn’t mean you have to say “screw it” and eat junk all week. Stick to your normal workouts, eat your normal meals. I guarantee you will feel better.
  2. Make some healthy holiday treats. Some healthy swaps you won’t even notice. If you’re making gingerbread, why not look for a lower sugar recipe? If you’re making your own treats, why not make some healthier ones to have on hand? I personally plan on making some healthier treats that I don’t feel bad about enjoying on a regular basis. That way I never feel like I’m missing out on anything (And check back here for some recipes!)
  3. Get physical. No matter what I’m eating, I always feel 100x better when I get some exercise in.
  4. Start some new fit traditions. One of my favorite traditions that my family and I started doing was the Santa Run. It’s a 5k that finished at Christmas in the Park, a little Christmas village in downtown San Jose. It gets us in the holiday spirit! Last year on Christmas day, my family started our morning with a dog walk/run along the bay, followed by festive drinks, and it was an absolutely beautiful morning. Plus, Chloe got to join in! Take a night walk to look at lights (especially if you live in CA like I do and it’s not freezing!) Not every holiday tradition has to revolve around food.


Those are my thoughts for how to approach the holidays. Trust your body, and just think about trying to feel your best to enjoy the season. Again, it’s not that serious.


On that note, let’s finally dive into WIAW, Jenn‘s baby! Now that I’m home, my food is a little bit more interesting so I want to share it more!



My new favorite pre-workout food is Cheerios. I don’t even know what time zone I’m on right now, but I had plenty of time before morning Crossfit to eat! I had a bowl of pumpkin spice Cheerios. (We ordered a few boxes online from Target because they were getting hard to find!)


I did some technique work on snatches. I used 65# for a complex of a power snatch, overhead squat, and full snatch. Then we worked on bar muscles ups (LOL). I practiced some turnovers (assisted) and worked on negative pull ups. The WOD was a 7 min AMRAP of 5 power cleans and 10 toes to bar. I have toes to bar, but the coach and me do knees to elbow instead so I could really focus on getting into a good position that should later help me string together toes to bar. It was a lot more shoulder intensive the way he had me doing them! I used 85 for the cleans.


I had the same breakfast most days in St. Louis and I’m finally sick of it. I discovered some chocolate KIND granola in the pantry, so I centered my breakfast on that. I made a yogurt with with Fage 2% a little bit of maple syrup, and cocoa powder. Topped with granola and crunchy Sunbutter. I had jumbo blueberries on the side.



I had more leftover lemon chicken rice soup, with added spinach. I also seasoned it with thyme lemon bay sea salt, and topped it with feta. On the side are leftover roasted shaved brussels with truffle salt.



I had another sea salt chocolate bar from 88 Acres (more info here) as well as a Medjol date, since it had been so long since I had one strangely enough. So good!

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I also nibbled on some Cranberry Orange bread while cutting up some slices for the freezer.

Dinner Part 1:

I volunteered to sub a 7:30pm spin class this evening which is a super awkward time for me, especially since I’m still sort of on St. Louis time. I decided to eat a light dinner pretty early.

Trader Joe’s GF cornbread with a little whipped butter.


And a small bowl of butternut squash and chicken soup.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to come to a spin class that late, the week of Thanksgiving. Since it’s at the university, most people are gone for break. Luckily, I had a few people, and had a blast! It’s different teaching here, and it’s good to be back.

The rest of the evening didn’t go as planned. I drive an older car, and it can be pretty finicky. I had a lot of issues with the engine when I first started driving it a few years ago, but since then it has been fine. It didn’t appreciate not being driven too much while I was gone, it turns out. It took a while to start driving there, and when I got in to drive home after spin, the engine started shaking like crazy and then just died. Thereby stranding me 25 minutes from home. The worst thing was I was able to get out of my parking spot before it died, so I was directly blocking in a few cars. I called Triple A to get it towed, and my mom came and picked me up. Thankfully the process was relatively painless all things considered, and I’m grateful I didn’t even make it out of the parking lot and it didn’t die on the highway. That being said, I don’t have a good feeling about what may be wrong with it.

When my mom and I drove off around 9:30, we were both on the exact same wavelength: froyo. When I had mono freshman year of college, I ate mass quantities of froyo so I still remembered more or less what places were open until 10! We stopped at Yumi Yogurt, which is pretty big in my area. I got a butterscotch flavor burst with mini m&ms. Sadly, aesthetics were sacrificed in favor of more toppings but this was delicious, and the perfect post-workout refuel!


While it’s never fun watching your car get towed, I’m thankful the situation wasn’t worse. A

And on that note….

How do you approach the holidays?


WIAW- St. Louis Classic

Happy Wednesday! We’re going to do a WIAW for my last Tuesday in St. Louis! Thanks as always to Jenn.



A few snap pea crisps. I often grab a couple of these before meals while I prep my food.


Then I had a flapjacked muffin (double chocolate, the best flavor) with blueberries.


I got a little bit of a late start to the day because I wanted to watch a short Netflix episode on the couch, and before I knew it I was trapped under 2 kitties.

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Finally I was on my way to Blueprint for a little victory lap. After 3 months of intense research, I have determined that Blueprint has the best coffee in St. Louis.


Across the street, there was an international foods store. I popped in to look around and came out with a few interesting looking bars.

Pre-lunch snack:

1 of the 3 thin bars



Half Panera (St. Louis Bread Co. here) Fuji Apple Chicken salad with Vans Say Cheese GF crackers.


A piece of the other new bar I got (it’s basically just dried apple covered in chocolate)


And a Luna


My workout for the day was Crossfit. We found our 3 rep max front squat, and I finished at 145. I don’t think i’ve done a 3 rep before but I predicted I would be around 145! The WOD was 15 Min AMRAP of 15 burpees, 10 ring dips (I used a band) and 5 shoulder to overhead (I did 75 lb push presses). I finished just under 5 rounds.

Funny story….yesterday’s WOD was 3 rounds of 50 double unders, 15 kb swings, 50 doubles, 5 power cleans. That’s a ton of double unders….In the middle of my second round of double unders, and I looked down and saw blood running down my thigh. I thought, “Wow, I can’t believe I whipped myself hard enough to draw blood?” But it turned out that my rope has exposed sharp wire at the bottom and it may be time for a new rope….




I apologize for the terrible lighting. I had avocado toast, a Dr. Praeger’s super greens frozen patty (with ketchup), and then on the side, I sautéed up some mushrooms and spinach with garlic, soy sauce, and coriander.



I FINALLY got to try this St. Louis classic. This is my second time having gluten since not eating it anymore thanks to a chronic stomach condition. But I HAD to try this St. Louis classic before I left. According to Wikipedia: “Gooey butter cake is a type of cake traditionally made in the American Midwest city of St. Louis. Gooey butter cake is a flat and dense cake made with wheat cake flourbuttersugar, and eggs, typically near an inch tall, and dusted with powdered sugar.”

Ii picked up my piece from Park Avenue Coffee, which is supposed to be one of the best places to get it (featured on Food Network!). They have an insane number of flavors, but I had to go with the classic. (Also apparently you can order these online to be shipped anywhere, and there’s a box you can check that’s GF?)

Because I’m a scaredy cat and not trying to die, I just had a corner of it.


Guys this was SO delicious. I don’t even know how to describe it. Sort of like a combination between a sugar cookie and vanilla cake?

(I actually went back later and had most of the rest of the piece!)

Since I only had a little (initially) I had a snack a little later of a piece of a lemon poppyseed oat bar and a Yasso salted caramel froyo bar.

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That’s it for the day! Here’s a picture of Yoyo, ensuring that he will always be around my neck (he likes to sleep on my neck) even after St. Louis, by sitting on my scarf.


Is there a food your area is known for?

WIAW: Election Day

Happy Post-Election Day! I voted absentee so my ballot was in the mail days ago. As I type this up, the results are just starting to trickle in. I think everyone will be happy for this to be over for a while though.  Let’s go on to some Election Day eats, shall we? WIAW style.

*edited to add: I know I never get political on here but I am truly sad and scared to be a woman in America right now.


As per usual, today was my day off work.

Thanks to daylight savings time, I was up a little before 6am so I got an early start to the day! For some reason I always have a flapjacked muffin for breakfast on Tuesdays, so I had it with some raspberries.


It was a rainy yucky day, absolutely perfect for oversized sweaters, scarves, and huddling up in a coffeeshop. The heater hasn’t been on in my house yet, so fuzzy socks under my foots were necessary.

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I returned to Comet Coffee, one of my top-ranked in St. Louis. I have plans for this weekend to close out the my list! I went with a decaf cappuccino.


I spent a few hours watching microbiology lectures before heading to WF for lunch and some grocery staples.


I had roasted sweet potato, roasted veggies, corn that I wasn’t a fan of so I didn’t really touch, a piece of chicken tikka masala, and some type of lentil Indian dish. The Indian food was some of the best I’ve had in a while!

For an afternoon snack, I had a Vega chocolate mint bar.


I was up a little late the previous night because I was cuddled up on the couch with 2 kitties and didn’t want to leave them, so I took an afternoon nap before heading out to Crossfit.

We worked on double unders and narrow grip bench press before doing a bit of a lung/quad burner WOD: 21-15-9 deadlifts (135 lbs), wall balls, and burpees. I finished in a little over 10 minutes.


I made a basic dinner of a fried egg, cheesy polenta with parmesan, and a salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, dried cranberries, and goat cheese.

Dessert was more exciting.


I picked up this ice cream at Whole Foods. It’s allergy free! Most non-dairy ice creams are nut or coconut based, which I’m allergic too. This one is banana based! It has some other ingredients too, and to be honest the nutrition facts are pretty terrible (slightly better than Ben and Jerry’s), but I had to give it a shot!


It’s very banana-y, and the chunks of cookie dough are delicious! I just wanted to try this though. The main dessert event was the last bit of my vanilla Halo Top with crumbled up pumpkin bread.


Such a good combo.

I may close my night up with some aloe water or a little more pumpkin bread, we shall see! Meanwhile, I’m hoping this election goes well and I don’t have to flee the country.

Also, in more fun news, I’m going to be doing Blogmas! Every day in December leading up to Christmas, I’ll have a new post up, with some fresh things. Sort of in the direction of my 12 Days of Christmas in years past. Look out for interesting nutrition topics, workouts, and healthy recipes! (Word on the street is there might also be an Italian Cooking demonstration.) This will encompass my 4th Blogiversary! Plus, this is the first (and probably only) year I won’t have finals during this time, so I’m excited to devote a little more effort to this old blog. Stay tuned!

What is your favorite packed ice cream?

I really like the Stoneyfield frozen yogurt, especiallyteh caramel swirl!

WIAW+Motivation to Be Healthy

Happy Wednesday! It’s been a few weeks since my last WIAW, so I figured I might as well join in today! (Thanks Jenn for starting this!)


Before I dive into the food, there was something I wanted to talk about today. Last week I talked a little bit how I want my blog to be a little more than just “this is what I did,” “this is what I ate,” and more of a resource for healthy living. I was watching some fitness youtube videos this morning, and both were inspirational and geared towards helping people and putting out content that can aid people in their health journeys.

Today I want to talk about my motivation for being healthy (full day of eating at the end!) and eating healthy. My view on health and fitness has changed a lot since I started this blog. I think I’ve been through a bit of a journey, and I want to share some of how I transformed.

Like I discussed in my #transformationtuesday blog series (link here), after struggling with college weight gain for my first 3 years of college, I finally managed to lose about 25 pounds.

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For a while before then, I also struggled with a lot of food stress and a negative relationship with food. Which created toxicity in trying to be healthy. It created a desperation. A few things have changed how I look at food and eating. First of all, I think I’ve matured a lot since then. I’ve grown up. I’ve also realized that there are other things in life worth worrying about (ayyy vet school apps!). I’m realizing that with maturity also comes a sense of calm. I’m realizing I’m more of a low-key person than I realized (or than I was) and a lot of things don’t phase me that used to. (Most things really aren’t that serious. Panic almost never makes a situation better. It’s funny because pre-college when I was playing softball I considered myself emotionally tough and calm, then through most of college things got to me a lot more, and here we are, full circle, calmed down again.)

I think the number one thing that changed everything for me was getting so sick, and then working to get healthy from that. When I was first dealing with my “mystery stomach condition” and didn’t know what was going on, I felt powerless because I knew what I ate mattered but I couldn’t tell what would make me feel better. Once I started to get a handle on how to eat and what was going on, a switch flipped. I now had a different, much more important reason to eat healthily. To feel good, sometimes just to function.


(Carrot apple ginger juice and BFFs <3)

I had to eat a certain way to not feel sick. That way of eating happened to be pretty darn healthy. (Minus the instances where I had to survive on crackers because that was all I could handle.) I was eating to fuel my body. I was eating with a purpose. Even now that I’m SO much more recovered from my illness, eating to feel good has stuck around. That made all the difference.

When I make food choices, my main goal is to eat what I think will make me feel good. I KNOW vegetables make me feel like superwoman and high fat foods have me feeling yucky (not advocating for low-fat for everyone, this is just what works for me with my stomach issues).

Full disclosure: I do count calories but not with a specific caloric goal. Mostly because it helps me manage my stomach (if I eat large meals I sometimes have issues). I eat whatever amount will make me feel good.


(Kale salad= feel like a rockstar)

I stopped trying to cut out sugar. Instead I try to eat it in a way that won’t make me feel bad. I have dessert every night. But I choose Halo Top for ice cream because I know it won’t make me feel bad like full fat ice cream.

If you are eating healthy for purely aesthetic reasons or just to see that number drop, it is so much harder to stick with it. Because the moment you have a piece of chocolate when you feel you “weren’t supposed to,” suddenly your day of “good” eating is ruined so you eat the whole bar. If you eat to feel good, you eat the chocolate. And you realize, “ok, I still feel good. If I ate the entire bar, I might not feel good. So I won’t.” In feeling good, there is no black and white. It’s all a spectrum. You could always feel worse by throwing in the towel and eating tons of junk.


And if you’re eating to feel good, the scale doesn’t carry so much value. I’ll be honest, sometimes I crave ALL THE FOOD and overeat sweets. But I accept that that’s what my body wants at that time, know it will pass, and move on. If I wake up heavier the next day, I realize it’s because I have extra food in my stomach and it will pass. I don’t freak out. If you base your value and self worth entirely on the scale, you might wake up the next day and say “screw it,” feel defeated, and continue unhealthy habits. Trust me, I’ve been there. If you’re eating to feel good, the next day you might realize you don’t feel the greatest from all those cookies and choose more vegetables because they make you feel better.

And while I’ve been referencing food in terms of “feeling good,” it also applies to exercise. I am extremely fortunate in that I genuinely love exercise and have a lot of fun with it. But I also feel 1000x better when I start my mornings with a workout, which makes it easier to get up when that 5:30 alarm goes off.

In summary: why should you want to be healthy? Because it feels amazing! We don’t always need to complicate things with numbers and measurements. How would that food make you feel? Amazing? Then eat it! If it would make you feel less than stellar, but you decide it’s worth it, then I would advocate for going for that too. Healthy isn’t perfect. And there really is no “perfect” when it comes to being healthy.

PHEW. After that long winded intro, let’s get to the good stuff!



Flapjacked double chocolate mighty muffin. For some reason I’ve made these a Tuesday breakfast thing. Plus some amazing jumbo blueberries. (The key to these microwave muffins is to get them gooey in the center. Also: I often add extra water to the mix until I feel like it’s a batter consistency. I feel like some of the muffins have a little more or less dry mix than others so I adapt accordingly.)


I’m back on coffeeshop Tuesdays. This was a decaf cappuccino, as per usual. I was back at Foundation Grounds this week for it’s coziness factor and closeness.




I headed to Crossfit from the coffeeshop, but since it was lunchtime Crossfit I grabbed a few of these crackers as a snack beforehand.



Post-workout I was more than ready! I headed to Panera for some of their Autumn Harvest soup. It was my first time trying it and I liked it a lot! So silky and smooth. I also had an apple and crackers on the side.


Afternoon snack:

I didn’t love these bars at first but they’re growing on me.




I found these at the grocery so naturally I had to dig into a few of them.


I really love this simple and easy salad. It’s vaguely Greek I suppose. I used to pack this with a hard boiled egg for lunch between classes. Salad with champagne vinaigrette, goat cheese, roasted red pepper hummus, and an over easy egg. Plus some GF toast with Earth Balance.



A little while ago I bought a can of pumpkin pie filling. I pulled the other half out of the freezer today and made a little microwave pie/custard thing. It was delicious. 1/3c pumpkin pie filling+1 T egg whites+1 T semisweet chocolate chips. Microwave until cooked.


It’s the World Series. I decided it was as good time as any to try a local beer I’ve been wanting to try.

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This was pretty good but a little bitter for me. I normally like dark beers but this wasn’t quite for me.

Since it was so bitter, I need a bite of something sweet after drinking it so I ate a Dove milk chocolate ghost.


What is your motivation to be healthy?


WIAW-How to Clean a Burnt Pan (Oops)

Happy Wednesday! Let’s get straight into WIAW, shall we? Thanks as always to Jenn for starting this linkup!


Breakfast: I don’t know what it is about my days off, but it seems like every week I reach for a Flapjacked muffin. I had a chocolate muffin with one of the season’s last nectarines. Sidenote: I always add a little extra water and a little yogurt to the muffins!


After breakfast, I started prepping my dinner since I knew I’d be around the house for a bit before leaving for the morning. I made vegetarian chili, and just winged (wing?) the recipe.


I started with a can of diced tomatoes with onions, and added a bag of butternut squash (the only shape the store had left was zigzags….), a bag of carrots, salt, and the above pictured spices.


While that was cooking away, I did a short ab workout (Blogilates). It’s been a while, and I was definitely feeling it more than normal!

My chili was looking and smelling good, and I was watching it carefully. It was nearly done, but the carrots were still pretty solid. I left it for a few minutes, and when I returned, I smelled burned. UGH. Luckily it was almost entirely salvageable, just a little dry. The real tragedy was the state of the pan. The entire bottom was burned. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. I soaked it in water. I soaked it in dish soap. Finally I turned to the internet. Apparently this is what you do: cover the bottom of the pan with water and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup white vinegar (I didn’t have a full cup, and I only had red wine, but you have to work with what you’ve got) and let it boil. The burn should start to look different (not much for me). Then, add 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda.

Pro tip: do this over the sink. Yeah. The stovetop got a little extra cleaning today…Let sit. Then scrub off.

Did this work? Sort of. It helped loosen it, but I had to really scrub and even scrape the bottom with my nails…

I spent probably an hour on this. I left the house in the worst mood. Plus, I started to feel a little bit alone in St. Louis. I feel like there are so many things I want to do with people, and I was trying to figure out what I would do with my weekend.

The weather today was perfect though. I wore long sleeves! With shorts, but whatever. I’ll take it. It turns out my bad mood was nothing a cappuccino couldn’t fix. I tried another coffeeshop on my list, Foundation Grounds in Maplewood.

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As per usual, I had a decaf cappuccino.

This is my favorite coffeeshop thus far. I loved the ambiance—it felt really cozy and friendly, and was a great place to spend the morning studying. The coffee was good, and for some reason tasted like fall. I got briefly homesick when I realized the cappuccino reminded me of my favorite coffeeshop on campus in CA. A lot of my friends are staying at Stanford for their graduate degrees, and they all started this week. It’s so weird to be thousands of miles away.

While this was my favorite coffeeshop and the coffee was really good, it still wasn’t at the very highest level, so while I plan to be back frequently, it will land in the #3 spot, behind Blueprint and Comet Coffee.

Another plus? This coffeeshop has food! There were lots of delicious baked goods as well.

I stayed for lunch, which I figured earned me another hour or so time studying there. I got a salad with red onion, dried cranberries, apple, and gorgonzola, dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.


It was good, but kind of pricey for what it was. They also have a soup of the day, so in the future I might go in that direction.

After the coffeeshop I went for a much needed haircut. I always chicken out and never get quite enough taken off, so I committed to 3 inches off and I LOVE it. I feel SO much better. I actually hate when my hair gets long.

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These pictures don’t really show it very well, so here’s a pre-Crossfit shot.


I was trying to figure out where to study next, and since it was so beautiful, I decided to go to a nearby park to enjoy the perfect weather (because I know it won’t last!)


I had one of these bars as a snack. They’re sunflower seed based!

While in the park, I came up with some plans for the weekend, as well as plotted a potential next trip. <-very potential but would be awesome if it worked out!

Crossfit destroyed my arms. We did lots and lots of bench. 6 sets of 3 to start. I worked my way up to 100# for a set of 3. I’m pretty sure I’ve never benched 100 at all, so that was exciting! I’ve never actually done a 1 rep max though. THEN we did 3 sets of 8 close grip bench. These stink.

And because we didn’t push enough, the WOD was lots of push ups. Cool. We did 5 rounds of 15 push ups (I had to scale most of these because #dead), 20 lunge jumps, and 25 sit ups. Lunge jumps are actually the one thing that I sort of worry about with my foot at this point. By the end, I was feeling my foot a little bit so I eased up. It wasn’t pain, just that overworked feeling I haven’t gotten in a while.

Dinner was a breeze, thanks to my meal prep. I topped my chili with fat free cheddar (honestly the fat free aspect…probably not worth it for rubber) and avocado, and has some sweet potato tortilla chips on the side.


While I was eating, my parents were sending me pictures from Hawaii of their amazing desserts. Sadly, all my amazing pumpkin cookies are gone (oops), so I tried to make my little single serve ice cream a little more exciting with whipped cream.


This ice cream was actually super disappointing. These was like ONE caramel swirl. I’ll stick to my Yasso salted caramel bars from now on!

That’s all for today—I might grab a bite of something a little later (maybe pineapple) but for now, I’m off to Skype a friend!

What is your favorite ice cream topping?

I don’t think you can beat hot fudge.