Category Archives: Holidays

Scenes from V-Day & Crock Pot Shredded Chicken Recipe

Hi friends! The Workout Log was updated today, so head over there if you’re interested to see how I’m trying to stay active these days.

I’m sharing one of my staple recipes towards the end of this post: crock pot shredded chicken. But first, let’s rewind a bit to the weekend.

It’s no secret that Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. I am all about that chocolate, pink, and quality time with my love. This past weekend did not disappoint. Instead of captioning each individual photo, I’m just going to provide you with a vertical slideshow. Sound good?

Me and Bob

Me Courtney

G Love

homemade pizza

Barefoot Contessa casear salad

B Cuo

Sous Chef

Tired Baxie

I hope your Valentine’s Day was spent with the one(s) you love, or curled up with yourself and a good book/movie/glass of wine/full DVR.

Crockpot shredded chicken final

Each Sunday, as part of my regular meal prep, I throw three chicken breasts, some chicken broth and a couple spices into the crockpot and forget about it for six hours. What comes out is extremely tender chicken swimming in fragrant broth, ready to be shredded into pieces.

Ingredients medium size

We keep the shredded chicken in a large tupperware container and dig into it during the week as an addition to salad, in Mexican fajitas or baked into a pasta casserole. As I think about it, it’s the most versatile thing in our fridge!

Pot close up








  • 4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 cup chicken broth


  • Line crockpot with tin foil or liner to minimize clean up.
  • Place all ingredients in your crockpot. There is no need to mix everything together; the crockpot does all the work.
  • Cook on high 3-4 hours or low 5-6 hours.
  • Shred chicken with a fork and add to tupperware container with 4 spoonfuls of remaining chicken broth mixture.

**Keeps for five days in the fridge!

Crockpot shredded chicken final





Filed under Holidays, Recipe

Valentine’s Day Treats (& my Most Embarrassing Baking Attempt of All Time)

Valentines Day Treats

Single or taken, I have always loved Valentine’s Day. What can I say? I am a girly-girl who loves pink, glitter and a candlelight dinner (and I love to rhyme?).

Valentine’s Day really crept up on me this year. I can remember every detail of last year’s holiday of love, mostly because it was my first Valentine’s spent with Bobby. Instead of a fancy night out, we decided on homemade pizzas and wine. We bought dough from Whole Foods, googled a sauce recipe and topped the pies with our favorite combo: pepperoni + sausage + all kinds of cheese.

I remember listening to the Al Green station on Pandora whilst whipping up a heart-shaped buttercream-frosted cake for my love. Inspired by Pinterest, I was so excited to try this fancy schmancy dessert and impress Bobby with my baking skills. However, my creation quickly took a turn for the worse when it fell apart in the pan and the icing morphed into a watery mess. I tried to salvage what I could, but ended up with my most embarrassing baking attempt of all time.

Heart shaped cake collage

We still laugh so hard about the heart-shaped cake from hell. In all fairness though, it tasted divine!

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share some homemade treats that have been inspiring me lately. I always turn to Pinterest or my recipe binder when I want to create something special. After last year’s disaster, I probably shouldn’t bake another cake. However, I also feel the need to redeem myself and I have a vintage cake stand that is collecting dust. We shall see!

  • XOXO Cake

XO cake


  • Heart Box (literally the best idea ever, in my opinion)


Valentines Chex Mix

Strawberry Vodka Sparklers

Valentines Dipped pretzels

Conversation cookies

Bronwnie kabobs

Questions for you:

  • Any good Pinterest disaster stories? 
  • Do you and your significant other have a V-Day tradition?
  • For you single ladies, “Gal”-entine’s plans?



Valentines Day Treats


Filed under Baking, Holidays

Low Key NYE

Happy first day of 2015!

Feels good, doesn’t it? This is the first New Years Day in years that I haven’t woken up with a slight hangover from copious amounts of celebratory drinks. If that’s not a sign of adulthood, I don’t know what is! We played it super low key with an afternoon showing of Mockingjay (so good, but still prefer the first one).


I totally figured the theater would be packed because aren’t NYE movies a thing? It wasn’t at all, and we were able to snag perfect seats and enjoy our popcorn and peanut m&ms.


The last night of 2014 was topped off with a home cooked meal of crockpot chicken & brown rice risotto. We weren’t too hungry when the timer went off, so I just kept the crockpot on low. Apparently, cooking rice for too long turns it into risotto. I mean, who knew?! It was still quite tasty and a great choice for such a cold night.


I think I need a new food pose. Apparently, holding said food item with left hand and snapping photo with right hand is my pattern.

I’m not going to fool you guys and pretend that I stayed up much past midnight. This old lady watched the Times Square ball drop at 11 p.m. (Chicago time) and was asleep before 12:30 a.m. I know what you’re thinking…I just get cooler with age!


2015 started with a big ‘ol bowl of overnight oats. They used to be a regular breakfast staple a few years ago, but I somehow fell off the wagon. Seeing overnight oats on other blogs lately reminded me how much I used to enjoy them. A craving struck this morning and here we are! Note: these did not sit overnight, but only for about an hour. I find the consistency so be about the same.


6 oz. plan greek yogurt + 2/3 cup oats + 1/2 almond milk + 1 packet Truvia + 1 Tbsp chia seeds + honey + 1/2 banana prior to serving

I spent the morning plowing through some blog organization. I often find the blogging world to be a black hole. There is so much I want to learn and I’m interested in all of it. I started at 9 a.m. and barely looked up until 1 p.m. Yikes! Can you spot the fruits of my labor? Check out the “Pin it” button on the righthand side and the sharing options at the bottom of this post.

Have a great day and see you tomorrow for Favorite Finds Friday.



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Filed under Healthy Meals, Holidays

Looking Forward to 2015

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 12.13.26 PM


I sit here on this last day of 2014 with a reflective and optimist outlook. There is nothing like the start of a new year. It gives us a profound sense of shiny newness, the inspiration to set goals and a renewed sense of optimism. If days of the month were colors, January 1st would be so bright and shiny that it would blind us like the sun. Instead of recapping 2014, which had both its peaks and valleys, I want to look ahead to the new year and highlight what I am most looking forward to.

  • My week-long trip to Florida in January. In less than a week, I’ll be soaking up the sun with my favorite women – my mom, aunt, cousin and sister-in-law – without a care in the world. If that’s not the best way to ring in 2015, I don’t know what is.


  • Passing the Licensed Social Worker exam. Like the boards for nursing, I need the LSW to be considered a social worker. I will likely take it in early February and can’t wait to have that weight off my shoulder.


  • Growing in my career as a therapist. Step one is finding the right job. Step two is working my butt off, affecting the lives of others and developing my skills. This will be the year of the career for me!
  • Making money again. I haven’t worked a paid full-time job in over two years. I am more than ready to grow a savings account, have spending money and enjoy little luxuries that make me happy – like regular pedicures. 🙂
  • Becoming more involved in my sorority alumnae association. I sit on the board of the Kappa Kappa Gamma Chicago Loop Group, but actually haven’t done a whole lot since joining last May.
  • Celebrating two years with Bobby. It feels like we’ve been together for a lifetime, but it will only be two years in April. He brings a heck of a lot of joy into my life and this anniversary will be an exciting milestone.


  • Developing and growing The Magic Tree. I have so many goals for the blog that sometimes it feels overwhelming. Must narrow them down.
  • Becoming a morning exerciser. When working full-time in the past, I discovered that hitting the gym first thing in the morning was key to my productivity and sense of accomplishment all day. When I find a job, 6 a.m. workouts will happen, no matter how long it takes to get in the habit!
  • Possibly, maybe, if all goes as planned, getting a dog. We are both animal lovers and would love to add to our fur family in 2015. I haven’t poled Baxter yet to see how he feels about a new sister or brother.

candy cane baxie

  • Taking one or two mini-trips. In almost two years as a couple, Bobby and I have never taken a vacation together. We’ve been to Louisville a handful of times and Colorado to visit family, but nothing that’s just the two of us.

So cheers to 2015! May it bring to us all a sense of accomplishment, joy and peace. I look forward to sharing the next year with you. 

Have a happy and safe New Years Eve. ❤


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Filed under Holidays, Inspiration, Motivation

Christmas in Photos + Workouts for the Week

Hi friends! How are you?

I’m guessing most of you are still enjoying the break from work/school, or maybe, unlike me, you’re already back to a normal schedule. I returned from Louisville late last night and have spent the better part of today in my cozy clothes, catching up on blog stuff and my to-do list. I told Bobby earlier that nothing on my to-do list feels super urgent, making it that much easier to relax and soak up the last few days of 2014. How did the year fly by so fast? I felt like I blinked and it was December.

Christmas was wonderful for us, but it came and went so quickly. With a friend’s wedding, last-minute shopping, gift giving, cooking, baking and lovely dinners out, it was a whirlwind! The holidays are typically just my immediate family, but we missed my brother and sister-in-law this year (they switch off holidays with her family). Instead of giving you a play-by-play recap, I thought I would post some of my favorite photos from the week.


Treats packed up for my favorite building staff

tree and gifts

The mini tree + way too many gifts

gifts less

All the gifts I wrapped this year


All the stockings were placed on the couch with care…

bobby lizzie jeff2

Bobby, me & my oldest brother Jeff on Christmas morning


The aftermath

lizzie bobby2

Me & Bobby on Christmas morning


My dad cooking Christmas dinner (my grandma’s famous spaghetti)


A living room “picnic” with my mama

mom and grayson2

My mama & Grayson

There is definitely a lack of photos of me in regular clothing – we spent most days in cozy or workout clothes (even when we didn’t make it to the gym). That’s what Christmas break is for, right?


I’m looking forward to returning to my exercise routine this week, and decided to start it off with a pre-planned schedule. I always enjoy reading other bloggers’ weekly workout plans and I think I’d like to join in the fun (fun?). Each Monday, you’ll see my tentative (I say tentative because it is most definitely subject to change – I could never be so rigid in my workouts!) plan for the week. It will help me stay accountable and see where there are deficits in my exercise routine.


  • Monday: rest
  • Tuesday: spin class + 75-minute yoga class
  • Wednesday: barre class rest
  • Thursday: spin class
  • Friday: 75-minute yoga class
  • Saturday: heated barre class
  • Sunday: rest

FYI, I use my Health & Fitness Pinterest board to save new workout ideas:

I’ll see you in the morning. Have a great night!

Questions for you:

  • What was your favorite Christmas gift?
  • Do you plan your workouts for the week?



Filed under Holidays, Workouts for the Week

Favorite Finds Friday {12/26}

Good morning!

Does anyone else have a Christmas hangover? I don’t know if it’s all the sugary foods I’ve been consuming, the lack of exercise, or the fact that I’ve been staying up way past my usual bedtime (2:15 a.m. last night!), but I woke up today feeling extra groggy and puffy faced. I’m more than excited to return to my healthy eating and exercise routine in a few days.

Anywho, let’s get to the real reason you’re reading this post: Favorite Finds Friday. This edition will follow a bit of a Christmas theme (as well as an accidental animal theme, but what else is new?), with a few random tidbits sprinkled in. Let me know your favorite finds from the week in the comments section — I’d love to hear from you!

  • Scarves! Scarves seemed to be the theme of Christmas this year. My mom received three as gifts, Bobby was gifted two, I got two and my oldest brother Jeff received one – that’s eight between four people! Definitely not complaining though 🙂


My mom sporting her three new scarves

  • Old family photos. Each time I return home for the holidays, I end up sorting through old photo albums with my brothers. Looking at a childhood picture elicits many memories for me and I end up remembering so many aspects of that particular event. I snagged a few to frame once I get back to Chicago.


Practicing t-ball with my older brother Garrett

  • Stockings. Arguably my favorite part of Christmas. I’m always so excited to dig into my own stocking and watch as everyone else empties theirs. Santa includes many random, but thoughtful items. For example, this year I received a meat cleaver, underwear, barre socks and hand cream, in addition to a sea of candy!


Grayson the cat trying to eat Baxter’s catnip-filled stocking

  • Balance is the key. 




If you liked reading about my favorite things from the week, check out:




Filed under Favorite Finds, Holidays

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

And all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,

All the stockings (weren’t yet) hung, by the chimney with care

In the hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.


Merry Christmas eve, my friends!

I hope you’ve been enjoying these last few days before the holidays. For me, it’s been a mix of downtime on the couch, as well as running around like a crazy woman. Yesterday was the latter, but I’ve spent the majority of today in my jammies, napping and watching movies. Pretty glorious, eh? The agenda for the rest of the day includes gift wrapping, stocking stuffing and prepping brunch for tomorrow.


I took a 75-minute yoga class yesterday at my mom’s gym while she and Bobby walked/ran the track. Even though I was the youngest in the class by far (the gym is geared towards older adults), I really needed the mindfulness and stretch aspects of the class. It was my first real workout in about ten days and I probably won’t exercise again until Friday. Sometimes you just need a break.

We ate lunch at the gym and I ordered a mediocre spinach salad with fat free honey mustard dressing. I ate about half of it + some of Bobby’s chips.


We spent the rest of the afternoon running errands and braving the Christmas crowds and traffic. It’s such a treat to drive around in what Louisville considers to be traffic. You Kentuckians don’t know how well you have it! 😉

best buy

Best Buy crowds

I was bitten by the baking bug yesterday, so we stopped by Kroger to pick up the ingredients to make ranger cookies. They have always been a favorite in our house, but I’ve never actually tried to make them. The recipe did not disappoint and my dad even ate them for breakfast today! I can’t seem to find the recipe that I followed, but this one looks very similar.



I’m really looking forward to Christmas tomorrow. The part of the day I’m always most excited for is watching my favorite people open their gifts.

I hope you have a wonderful evening with your family and friends!




Filed under Family, Holidays, Yoga

Holiday Cookie Baking 2014

Holiday cookies pinterest

Over a period of two days last week, I baked six different cookie recipes, totaling over 275 cookies! It’s no secret that I love to bake, but my self control around sugar is not exactly strong. Of all sweet things, cookies are my biggest weakness. Because of this, I rarely bake large quantities for just Bobby and me. It’s a good day if sweets last 12 hours in our house!

However, I take every opportunity to bake for loved ones. I’m the first to sign up under “desserts” for an office potluck, often brings baked goods as a housewarming gift, and contribute every year to the local animal shelter’s bake sale.

You could say baking is one of my all time favorite hobbies.


This year, I knew I wanted to gift cookies to some of the special people in our lives and frankly, the ones who make our lives easier. The lucky recipients included our building staff (12 people), the dry cleaner in our building, our cleaning lady, our cat sitter, and my fur nephew who lives across the country (threw him in for good measure ;)).

I perused my recipe binder, cookbooks and Pinterest to figure out what I wanted to make.


Ultimately I decided on:


Note: I was a bit over zealous in my original list, and ended up nixing four of the recipes. I would have had WAY too many cookies! 

pecan sandies

Grandma’s pecan sandies

choc chip 2

choc chip 1

Extra crunchy chocolate chip cookies

pecan 1

Brown sugar pecan cookies (pre-icing)

pecan iced

sugar on pan

Cracked sugar cookies


pumpkin pan

White chocolate pumpkin snickerdoodles


I’m much more partial to crunchy cookies and my favorite of this year’s selection was the chocolate chip cookie recipe. I pretty much made it up and will post once I’ve perfected it. I can’t wait to do even more baking while I’m home for the holidays. #addicted

all three

Question for you:

  • What’s your favorite kind of cookie? I love M&M cookies more than anything, while snickerdoodles or ranger cookies are a close second.



Filed under Baking, Holidays


Dear Diary,

In my next life, I’d like to be a baker.


I spent my afternoon baking Christmas cookies that I’ll be gifting to our building staff and some other special people in our lives. Baking is so therapeutic for me and I really need to do it more often. For my mental health, if nothing else!


I know you’re salivating. Have no fear, I’ll be posting all my Christmas cookie recipes shortly.


I was on the go this morning and threw together a smoothie to sip in the car. It was a little weird tasting and I’d make some tweaks if I re-create it. But hey, it worked!


1 pear + cinnamon + 1 scoop vanilla About Time protein powder + almond milk + ice cubes

I stopped by a Super Target while in the suburbs this morning. Suburban shopping is the way to go, people. No crowds! A parking lot! My stomach was grumbling while shopping the aisles, so I bought a pre-made deli sandwich and scarfed it down in the car.


Turkey + havarti + tomato + mayo + lettuce

I also shipped out some special gifts (last minute Lizzie!) and said a little prayer that they’d arrive before Christmas



We’re headed to dinner tonight with some friends. I’ll see you in the morning for Favorite Finds Friday!

Question for you:

  • Do you prefer cooking or baking?




Filed under Baking, Holidays, Meals on the go

Decorating for the Holidays

Last weekend, I realized we were already a quarter through December and I had yet to decorate our apartment. The horror! We made a mutual decision not to buy a tree this year, mostly because of what happened last year.

in tree

As soon as we put the tree up, he scaled the trunk and made it all the way to the top! It was both hilarious and traumatic.

Decorating Small Space for Holidays Final

Since we weren’t getting a tree, I knew I wanted to decorate the apartment more than usual. I had a few things from my chilhood, mostly ornaments, that my mom had sent me over the years, but not much else. I like decorations that can be used through the winter and aren’t entirely Christmas-themed, and I am also on a budget. We headed to a local floral shop and Marshall’s with a plan in mind.

floral shop

The shop does have flowers, but the first half of the store is always filled with seasonal decor. I pretty much wanted everything! It was right up my alley with the natural textures, neutral colors and glitter 🙂


I ended up buying a bag of pinecones, two sparkly balls, a small wooden sleigh and a hedgehog (?!).


I placed the pinecones in a glass vase that originally housed mini gourds throughout the fall. The arrangement currently sits on a side table, but I’m still not really sure if it works there. Any suggestions appreciated (talking to you, mom).


I used the sleigh, hedgehog and sparkly balls as a centerpiece on the kitchen table. I’d like to also gather some type of table runner – I’ve heard Target has them and I’ll likely swing by after Christmas when all holiday decor is basically free. 


Our next stop was Marshall’s. I found a sparkly star made of branches that worked perfectly with my natural theme, and hung it on the balcony door.

star on door2

star close2

Bobby picked out two houses (where the hedgehog probably lived) that are actually ornaments, but worked just fine on our TV console.

up close

They’re right next to a small faux pine tree, also from Marshall’s, and a balsam candle.


I also snatched these dish towels from Marshall’s, and am calling them holiday decor.

dish towels

Decorations wouldn’t be complete without relics from my childhood. My mom had these stocking holders in her decorations stockpile, and sent them to us last year. We don’t have a mantle, so our stockings are hung on the TV console this year (gotta love city living).



She also sent us the Christmas mugs we used for Santa’s hot chocolate back in the day. These remind me so much of being a little girl and the excitement of Christmas morning! Love them.


Lastly, and perhaps my most favorite decoration of all, the advent calendar I used as a kid.

advent far

advent far advent close

My mom used to fill each day with a piece of candy so that we could enjoy a sugar rush before heading off for school. I slacked this year and you won’t find candy in there, but it’s probably for the better. 🙂

Questions for you:

  • Do you decorate with new items, childhood relics, or a combination?
  • What’s your favorite decoration?
  • Does your pet terrorize your Christmas tree?




Filed under Holidays, Home Decor