May 28, 2014

Now That's Some Dancing

Whatever you are doing tonight, cancel your plans, pour yourself some vino, and put on your comfiest pants. The world's best show is coming back to grace living rooms all across America.

Booties will be shaking, feet will be tapping, and bodies won't be able to help but wiggle...
 ...and I'm just talking about the viewers.

Yup, you guessed it. My favorite show, So You Think You Can Dance, is returning tonight to kick off season 11, and you'd better believe the countdown is on. I've danced ever since I was a bitty 3-year-old, and it's a huge part of who I am. Dancing has always made me feel so happy and free. It's my creative outlet, one of my favorite ways to express myself.

I've still been known to shake it while deep cleaning the Haskins House, tend to groove while , and tend to break out my most stellar moves right before bedtime in my jammers (just ask my hubs).

So in honor of today being awesome, I give you my two favorite dance videos. Try not to pee your underoos while watching the first one!


 

Will you be tuning in tonight?
If so, who has been your favorite winner?

{I still love Melanie... obvi..}


Happy watching and wiggling!

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May 27, 2014

Long Weekend Adventures in Photos

I hope you all had a lovely Memorial Day long weekend!
It's always hard getting back into the groove of things, but the good news is that it's already Tuesday. I'll take it!

So, this weekend we had our dear friends Lo & Brian in from Oklahoma City, and we were all over Kansas City this weekend. Here's a little glimpse of our weekend shenanigans...


On Thursday, we rounded up our posse for an evening picnic in Theis Park at the New Belgium Clips of Faith tour. Beers and delicious food truck fare were happily enjoyed by all.
{If it's heading to your city, you have to go - we love it every year!}


We noshed on delicious gourmet mac and cheese at Martin City Brewing Company and then dropped by Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates to sample the finest chocolate Kansas City has to offer! I also ran into their head chocolatier, Beth Tully, and we had a nice little chat while the foodie nerd in me about died.


We made the best of our rainy Saturday morning by indulging in Chezelle's famous crepes and oversized lattes in Westside (a local foodie's heaven).


And everyone knows there is no better way to wash the city's best crepes down than by doing a tour (and tasting!) at Boulevard Brewing.




And in case that wasn't enough fun...
We saw an incredible movie, sipped drinks on a rooftop terrace, hosted a fun backyard BBQ, and just lounged around to enjoy each other's company.


After our guests skipped town on Sunday afternoon, Adam and I lounged around the house, caught up on relaxing, and snipped some bright fuchsia buds from our garden. All in all a wonderful way to spend the Memorial Day weekend!


What was your favorite thing you did this weekend?

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May 22, 2014

Herb and Citrus Oven Roasted Chicken

Now that spring (and almost summer!) has arrived, I've been craving very fresh, delicious, seasonal food. So you can imagine my excitement when I came across this amazing recipe a few months back.

Fresh herbs? Yummy citrus? Juicy baked chicken?
Yes, Please!

I whipped this together really quick for a little dinner party, and I was surprised how such a visually appealing meal was so simple to throw together. Our whole house was filled with the most delicious aroma, and when it was time to sample the dish, the chicken was so tender, plumb, and fell of the bone!

This is now a staple and crowd-pleaser in our home, and it makes for a great healthy dinner! Trust me, give it a shot and you can thank me later! ;)

{ Herb and Citrus Oven Roasted Chicken } 


Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 whole lemons, one juiced and one sliced
2 whole oranges, one juiced and one sliced (or if you don't like sweet, swap for limes!)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
10-12 pieces (about 4 1/2 lbs.) bone-in chicken parts (thighs and legs are best), pat dry
1 medium onion (any kind), thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme, or fresh chopped
1 tablespoon dried rosemary, or fresh chopped
Chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley), for garnish, optional


Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, garlic, sugar, lemon juice, orange juice, Italian seasoning, paprika, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.

3) Arrange chicken in a 9x13 baking dish with the skin side up distributed throughout the pan evenly. 

4) Pour the liquid mixture over the top of the chicken and toss chicken with tongs to ensure all sides are coated. I tend to like to marinate the chicken for 30-60 minutes in this mixture if I have time. 

5) Place sliced lemon and orange slices and onion slivers over and under chicken. Generously sprinkle the entire dish generously with thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper until all chicken pieces are seasoned.
6) Bake uncovered for about 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked and juices run clear. Spoon baked chicken pieces out, and feel free to add a little sprinkle of fresh herbs.

.:::.:::.:::.:::.:::.

In the original recipe, I love that she suggests to switch up the seasonings to a spicier mix, and then swap oranges out for limes. A little cilantro in the place of the thyme and rosemary has a whole different taste that is still juicy and delicious! The options are endless!
Bon Appetit!

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May 19, 2014

Mingle Monday Link-Up!

So thrilled you chose to stop by today!

I hope you will fill up you cute little bug with some hot coffee and pull up a seat. This is a great way for you to see and be seen in blog world, so I hope you're ready to find some great bloggers you might not have known about before!

Did everyone have a good weekend? We had the best time on our road trip this past weekend, and if you follow me on Instagram I am sure you got a good inside glimpse at our fun weekend!

Stay tuned this week - lots of goodness heading your way...

+ a delicious, easy spring baked chicken recipe
+ our summer fun list
+ weekend outlook

 
    

HOW TO MINGLE

 ** Only 3 easy rules - that's all I ask! **


1) Link-up your blog below.

2) You must share a link to Mingle Monday on your post or the Mingle Monday photo.
 
3) Answer the weekly question in the comments section below and have FUN!
 
** What are you doing this upcoming Memorial Day weekend? **

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Still proud to say that 100% of advertisement sponsorship proceeds go to my charity of choice, the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. There are dozens and dozens of Hope Lodges across the country that give cancer patients a free place to stay while out of town for cancer treatment - such a cool place! 

With just $10, you can get a month long ad and know that it is going to help real cancer patients and their families. So please join me in my fundraising effort by becoming a sponsor HERE!


Thank you everyone for helping me raise hundreds of dollars so far. Now go visit these blogs/shops - they are awesome!


_________________________________________________


Wishing you a non-manic Monday!

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May 17, 2014

Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

Good morning, sleepy heads!
I want to introduce you to the lovely Elizabeth who blogs over at All Kind of Things!
After she decided to become a Life of Meg sponsor (100% of my sponsorship income goes to the American Cancer Society), I asked her if she would be interested in guest blogging as a way for me to say thanks.

Thank goodness she said yes, because she has an incredible recipe for you today. I also asked her to share why she is passionate about the fight against cancer and sponsoring, so she has a great story to share following this great recipe!

Without further adieu, here is Elizabeth with this showstopper recipe...

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Hi all, I'm Elizabeth - thanks Meg for asking me to guest post!

Back in the fall, I shared a few of the ways we had been using Crescent Rolls to make yummy treats: A Whole New Friendship with Crescent Rolls. Then, I chatted more about this in my February Link-Up with "Chatting at the Sky". When I recently spotted this method from Mix & Match Mama, I felt another crescent roll post was in order. With that being said, I now introduce...

Cinnamon Rolls {Nutella-Style}




Ingredients:

1 Can of Crescent Rolls
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup of Nutella
2 teaspoons cinnamon


Directions:

1) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2) Unroll your Crescent Roll sheet. Press down the seams in order to create a rectangular shape of dough.

3) Evenly spread your melted butter across the dough. Next, spread your Nutella then sprinkle your cinnamon on top of that.

4) Roll it up, slice, and bake for approximately 10 minutes!


I decided to go without a glaze, but you can use 1-2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and a couple of splashes of milk to create the glaze. Refer to Mix & Match Mama's post for more details. This recipe is super easy and completely perfect for Saturday mornings at home - ENJOY!

Be sure to hop over to Facebook and click "like" on "All Kinds of Things" - Great extras featured there often! Also, follow "All Kinds of Things" on Instagram & Pinterest!

.:::.:::.:::.:::.:::.

Why I decided to become a Life of Meg sponsor...

In 1999, I lost my grandmother when her second round with breast cancer took her life. She was a fighter - a survivor until her late 80s! A wife, a mother, a teacher, a grandmother...she had touched many lives, and losing her brought me face-to-face with the reality of cancer.

A couple of years later, my grandfather (her husband) passed away. He had also battled cancer and had many successes in his fight. They were blessed with many years and for that, my family is thankful. My aunt is a two-time breast cancer survivor, and my uncle (her husband) is a two-time prostate cancer survivor! How thankful we are for the recent reports of good news they have received.

Just last year, I had 10 inches cut off of my hair - I finally followed through with a promise I had made to myself a number of years ago. In 2005, I committed to growing out my hair with plans to eventually cut it and donate it to a program that assists cancer patients in their search for a wig.

So many of our friends and family have been touched by cancer, and while I do not personally know many who have taken advantage of Pantene's Beautiful Lengths' campaign (and American Cancer Society free wig program), I love what this company stands for, and I know that so many people benefit from the donations they receive.

This year, I am excited to partner with Meg in her support of the American Cancer Society. In honor of those who are no longer with us...In honor of those who are still fighting...In honor of those who will someday face a battle like no other, I challenge you to give!

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Thanks so much Elizabeth
Everyone go stop by her blog and say hello!

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May 16, 2014

Roadtrip Weekend + Favorite View

When I was laying on the couch with hubs last night, I thought it was Friday. So, you can imagine my disappointment when Adam reminded me I had one more day - haha! 

 Needless to say, there is an extra spring in my step today as I know the weekend has arrived. I am already welcoming it with open arms!

Well, I am waiting for 5PM to click by on the clock so we can jump in the car and take in all of the beautiful sunset views that the Flint Hills has to offer. I love that gorgeous Kansas prairie view. Who said Kansas was boring? 

We are heading to Wichita for the weekend to celebrate my cousin's high school graduation (way to go Ethan!) and to spend time with family and friends in my hometown.


I am just ready to throw on my shades, put my toes up on the dashboard and drive into the sunset. I can only imagine that we will indulge in our usual weird road trip rituals along the way...

+ listen to throw back mixed CDs
+ come up with the most obscure future dog or baby names just for funsies 
(Adam is a champ... 'Phoenix' (for a kid), anyone?)
+ play the alphabet category game - we could play for hours
+ catch up on the most ridiculous stories or Adam will quiz me on current events
+ play "Hey Cow!" 
(a Meg original specialty)


// What's are your favorite road trip rituals? //

.:::.:::.:::.:::.:::.


In case you missed it this week...



Stay tuned tomorrow for an amazing nutella cinnamon roll recipe! Yum!
Happy weekend, you crazy cats!

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May 15, 2014

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Throwdown

Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! I'm sure just like the Evans household, it must be a national holiday for your family too!

Well, I was super excited to do a chocolate chip cookie throwdown of sorts using the most reputable cookie recipes out there. With the help of my lovely assistants (thanks Sarah and Mere!) I was able to host a little recipe taste-off this past week at Monday Family Dinner!

Each one of our friends and family were given a score sheet to rank each recipe in the following categories (inspired by Brown Eyed Baker a few years back!):  texture, taste, appearance, and overall.




//  Let's meet the contenders, shall we?  //


1) American's Taste Kitchen - Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies



2) Joy the Baker - Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies



3) New York Times - Chocolate Chip Cookie



4) Alton Brown - 'The Chewy'



...and just for funsies I threw in the pre-made Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies thanks to the amazing idea of my sister-in law (hilarious!). Just wanted to see if anyone could tell and where they'd rank among the made-from-scratch cookies!


5) Nestle Tollhouse - Pre-made Cookie Dough


.:::.:::.:::.:::.:::.


Now I want you to meet my esteemed panel of judges - or at least most of them - the others are probably in a sugar coma lying on my kitchen floor...


Best. Panel. Ever.

The were real troopers to taste 5 different cookies in a blind taste test and still be functioning without diabetes! Don't worry, I provided fun chevron paper straws and a frosty glass of ice cold milk to help them wash those cookies down!


Now let's get to the results, shall we?
Ahem... drum roll, please.

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The 1st place winner in The Ultimate Chocolate Chips Cookie Throwdown was...

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!

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Rankings:

1) New York Times - Chocolate Chip Cookie

This cookie ranked the highest in taste, texture and appearance. They loved how chewy these giant cookies were, and they said the flavor balance was perfect. Many commented that the tiny bit of sea salt sprinkled on top was perfection! So the overall ranking was a total landslide blow out. I can only assume the recipe requirement to chill the dough and let the flavors mesh together was a big key! It also used a combination of high and low protein flours to get the perfect fine texture with a chewy middle.


2) Alton Brown's - 'The Chewy'

Ranked one of the highest in the texture category, most of the guys said they could eat the whole tray. It also ranked moderately high in the taste and appearance category, so I wasn't surprised an overwhelming majority though it deserved the second place spot. This recipe also used fine grade flour and refrigeration, so I am seeing a big trend!


3) Nestle Tollhouse - Pre-Made Cookie Dough

I wish I could tell you how much fun it was to reveal to the judges the identity of this cookie after all ballots were collected. At first I told them that Tollhouse snuck it's way into the contest just for fun, and I tried to have them guess which one it was. Most guessed the cookie ranked lowest on the overall score, so you should've seen their faces when I pointed to the 3rd place winner. Priceless. Ranked very high in texture.. can't beat an easy classic, apparently! 


4) Joy the Baker - Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This cookies ranked amongst the very highest in flavor (mmm... sea salt on top!), but ranked a little bit on the low side for texture and appearance. A few commented that if they could take the flavor of that cookie and transform it into a chewy center cookie, it would've been a favorite for sure! The brown butter added a delicious nutty taste, and our taste testers loved that!


5) America's Taste Kitchen - Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipe for this cookie looked promising, but the texture and appearance of this cookie contributed to the lowest ranking among all five cookies. The judges commented that they prefer a chewier cookie over and crispy one, so this wasn't the favorite for them (perhaps we need to let ATK know... haha!).

.:::.:::.:::.:::.:::.

So there you have it folks. Apparently not all cookies are created equally, and the fancier, higher maintenance recipes proved to be tried-and-true (aside from the magical Tollhouse cookies!). I hope you take a free weekend to try some of these recipes out! Perfect for a barbecue or just a surprise treat for your family, you know are armed with an arsenal of delicious ultimate cookie recipes!

We actually have a chocolate chip cookie bake-off today at work, so I decided to whip up another batch of the NY Times cookies. So I am not sure if my experiment was cheating or not, but I prefer to think of it as research! ;)

Despite the many cookies tried, my husband still says the very best chocolate chip cookie (with a little bit of a spin) is the Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that is always my go to. So I also threw together a double batch of those last night for today's competition.


Wish me luck and happy baking!!

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May 14, 2014

My Spring Cardio Playlist

Lately I've been loving this gorgeous spring weather, pretty pastel blooms popping up everywhere, and the pavement has been calling my name. It's prime running season, folks, and Lord knows I can't even jog a half mile without my favorite pump up tunes pushing me!

So I love gathering fast paced current songs and freshening up my playlist when I get tired of my go to's. Every active girl knows that good music is a must to make it through a long workout!

Here's what I've been running to lately...



What are your faves on your playlist?
I would love to add them to my list!


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May 12, 2014

Mingle Monday Link-Up!

It's that time again!
Yup, time to link-up your blogs, go surf others, and meet some new blog buds. It's going to be great, I promise!

To all of you mamas out there, I hope your Mother's Day weekend was fantastic. We sure had a blast spending time with our families celebrating how great both of our moms are. Man, how did we get so lucky?

I'm looking forward to the Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off hosted at my house tonight, so stay tuned for the results and the best recipe announcement on Thursday, National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

 
    

HOW TO MINGLE

 ** Only 3 easy rules - that's all I ask! **


1) Link-up your blog below.

2) You must share a link to Mingle Monday on your post or the Mingle Monday photo.
 
3) Answer the weekly question in the comments section below and have FUN!
 
** Tell me the top 3 things you love about your mama! **

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Still proud to say that 100% of advertisement sponsorship proceeds go to my charity of choice, the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. There are dozens and dozens of Hope Lodges across the country that give cancer patients a free place to stay while out of town for cancer treatment - such a cool place! 

With just $10, you can get a month long ad and know that it is going to help real cancer patients and their families. So please join me in my fundraising effort by becoming a sponsor HERE!


Thank you everyone for helping me raise hundreds of dollars so far. Now go visit these blogs/shops - they are awesome!


_________________________________________________


Wishing you a nice and smooth ease into the week...
Happy Monday, lovelies!

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May 8, 2014

Coming Soon... Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off!

Back in the summer of 2008, when I was living in the heart of San Francisco for an internship, I set out to find THE perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I scoured the internet, recipe books, and blogs for hours, and baked every newly found reputable recipe under the sun.

I can't even begin to tell you how many pounds of flour or ounces of chocolate chips I used (or ate!), but I did find some incredible recipes that are still my go to favorites today. I think I also found 5 extra pounds in the process (totally worth it!). But there are so many great recipes out there waiting to be discovered.

So discover them, I will.

 In case you didn't already have it penciled on your calendars, next Thursday, May 15th, is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. Practically a holy holiday at the Evans bungalow. So I have invited our Monday Night Dinner friends over next week to be taste testers for The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Throwdown.

My friends lead a rough life...


So this is where YOU come in!

If you would like to submit a recipe to The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Throwndown, I would love to look it over and consider it for the final round of the bake-off.

Upon receiving all the recipes, I will select a handful of recipes to add to the bake-off list. If selected, you and your recipe will be highlighted when I announce the finalists and the winning recipe on Thursday, May 8th (National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day... remember?).



To enter, please e-mail the following information to lifeofmegblog {at} gmail {dot} com by  Sunday, May 11th at Noon (CST):

- Full Name
- Blog URL (if applicable)
- Your Cookie Recipe (and link to recipe online if applicable)
- A short blurb of why you love it!


Can't wait to hear from you little bakers!

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Gratitude Lately

Happy hump day, my friends!

You've made it through half of the week - congrats! - and now we're on the downhill slope. To get myself through, I figured a little gratitude was in order



Dear Wanna Be Greenthumb,
I so desparately want to learn how the heck to successfully grow plants of all shapes and sizes. It's not only shocking that my little plants are not only alive, they are starting to sprout and grow. 27 years of practice has me finally mastering the basics (kind of)!




Dear Dean and Deluca,
Darn you and your beautifully decorated treats. Crashing healthy diets everywhere. But let me tell you, that pink champagne mini cake was totally worth every glorious sugary calorie!





Dear Haskins House,
You are in full bloom and I couldn't be more in love. I especially love forgetting about all the hidden blooms that the previous owners planted and that always surprise us when they pop up each spring.


Dear Kansas City,
I love the neverending new adventures and faint in love with every hidden treasure you hold. So thankful for antique stores practically giving away chippy church windows for d├ęcor, and for refreshing rosemary cocktails in mason jars that make me want to do a little jig.



Dear Adam Trembley,
I'm so thankful for your quick forgiveness and the way you remind me that grace means it's a new day.Today you sent me a random message just reading "I love you" just out of the blue and my heart melted a little bit. Excited for future adventures and new goals. #teamevans

.:::.:::.:::.:::.:::.

Goodness, life is great. My hottie husband gets home from another week-long business trip here in the next few days, and we have a great weekend of adventuring ahead.


What are you grateful for today?

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May 5, 2014

Mingle Monday Link-Up!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!
So thrilled you stopped by for a little Mingle Monday fiesta with all of your favorite bloggers. Let's get this party started and I hope you will help me spread the word!

If you haven't stopped by le blog before, I can't wait to get to know you! Leave a comment and I will happily welcome you! Thanks for stopping by!

And for all of those who left such kind notes, comments, and emails of comfort after my grandpa's passing, I can't tell you how much I appreciated the words of encouragement and prayers! They were definitely felt on the day of the service and I had a welcomed sense of calmness and joy. Thank you so much.

 
    

HOW TO MINGLE

 ** Only 3 easy rules - that's all I ask! **


1) Link-up your blog below.

2) You must share a link to Mingle Monday on your post or the Mingle Monday photo.
 
3) Answer the weekly question in the comments section below and have FUN!
 
** How are you going to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?! **

________________________________________________________________________________________



As of right now 100% of advertisement sponsorship proceeds now go to my charity of choice, the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. There are dozens and dozens of Hope Lodges across the country that give cancer patients a free place to stay while out of town for cancer treatment - such a cool place! 

With just $10, you can get a month long ad and know that it is going to help real cancer patients and their families. So please join me in my fundraising effort by becoming a sponsor HERE!


With your help, we have raised more than $315 so far to help cancer patients and I delivered the money 3 weeks ago - so thank you everyone! Go visit these blogs/shops - they are awesome!


_________________________________________________


Wishing you a Monday filled with too much queso and frosty margs!
Ay ay ay!

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