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My Favorite Fall Slow Cooker Recipe!

While the weather seems to be having a difficult time deciding if it's fall or summer, I'm choosing to ignore the random heat waves and dive headfirst into a figurative (and hopefully soon, literal) pile of leaves. 

I've got my fall candles burning (I've honestly almost used one up already, that's definitely a new record), my cozy blankets are on display in their baskets, and I stocked up on all of my favorite teas. This may sound a little premature to some people but I say it is mid September and I love it!

I had an especially fall-centered day on Sunday with the candles, a little bit of red wine, football playing in the background and the best slow cooker recipe...like ever. I've had my crock pot for about a year now, and I still love experimenting with recipes all the time. It's just so incredibly easy!

At the very most, you chop up a few ingredients and throw it in. Leave it alone for a few hours and your apartment (or house) smells amazing, and you've got a ready to serve (or save) meal! 

I whipped up this soup for dinner Sunday and to take as a lunch option to work with me this week and it took all of my willpower not to have it for dinner again on Monday. The large portions are great for something that will last you all week long!

                                                                                                                                                     image via

(PS - if you don't already have a slow cooker, I seriously recommend just grabbing one at the store. They're really pretty inexpensive, and the ingredients are so simple that making my lunches/dinners in mine saves me a lot of grocery money in the end! I have this one and it's so great). 

Ingredients:
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 1/3 Cup Flour
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced (1/2 Tsp. of Pre-Minced = 1 clove!)
  • 1 Tbsp. Dried Basil (I shred it into smaller pieces)
  • 2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth (I add 2-4 Extra Cups for a Less Thick/Less Creamy Soup)
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans of petite diced tomatoes 
  • 1-1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 4 cups cheese tortellini (I usually eyeball this - typically around 7 cups)
  • 3 cups packed spinach (I add a lot more, whatever amount you'd like!)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese 
  • 1 cup heavy cream or half and half
*I save a little extra parmesan cheese to add on top right before eating

Directions:

  • In a medium mixing bowl (safe for microwave) add the onions, flour, basil, garlic, tomato paste, and drizzle with olive oil. Stir.
  • Microwave for 5 minutes, stirring every 90 seconds. Add to slow cooker. 
  • Add broth, tomatoes, chicken, salt and pepper to the slow cooker. Stir. 
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours (or until chicken is tender). 
  • Remove lid and add tortellini and spinach. 
  • Add parmesan cheese and cream (warm the cream beforehand to avoid curdling. 45 seconds in the microwave should do it). 
  • Use a fork to remove the chicken from slow cooker. Shred or cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. 
  • Add chicken back to slow cooker, put lid back on and cook on HIGH for about 10 more minutes. 

Essentials of the Week!

We've made it to Friday, friends! This week was absolutely incredible...and incredibly exhausting! It was my first week at my new job and I am absolutely loving it so far! I'm always pretty change-hesitant (aren't most people, though?) and this was no exception considering what a huge decision it was...but I couldn't be happier!

Isn't that the best feeling in the world, when you make a major decision and it ends up being confirmed that you made the right call? I'd say that calls for a well-earned happy hour tonight!

It got me thinking about some more career path posts and job-related advice I could be including here on the blog for those of you who are trying to make decisions like when to change industries or companies. Is that something you guys would be interested in reading?! Let me know in the comments below!

Here are my essentials for this week:


1. The Best News for Your Home, Ever | I love decorating...and have officially grown to understand why my mom became an interior designer. Having a never-ending list of rooms to decorate? Sign me up!! If you haven't heard already, Chip & Joanna Gaines have collaborated with Target for a new line, and I want to buy all of it.

2. The COZIEST Lightweight Sweater for Fall | I am so in love with the tie-cuff details on this sweater. I'm keeping my eye on the cream color, but I promised myself no new sweaters until I've had to wear fall clothes for a minimum of two weeks (my closet needs the space, and I haven't stored away all my summer clothes...yet!)

3. The Devil Wears Prada, Age 7 | I was cracking up at this 7 year old Youtube Star and her interpretation of what it means to be a #GirlBoss in the fashion magazine world. It made me want to watch Devil Wears Prada again, stat!

4. Football Means Food | I grew up in a boy-dominated household, y'all, and to me Fall has always meant Football! I've been loving these last two weeks with the game on in the background, wine glass in hand, and I've already been bombarding Dalton and his roommates with the massive Pinterest board of recipes that I've been waiting (impatiently) to make during game day season. This list of recipes is definitely my next to tackle! No pun intended, I swear...ha!

5. Spoiled Puppy | I honestly think that whenever I do become a dog owner, I'm going to need a major financial cushion because I will totally go to above and beyond lengths like this to spoil my pup. This dog didn't like her food, so the owner came up with a creative way to make it more appealing to her!

Current Beauty Essentials!

This past year has included some major steps forward for me with trying and finding new beauty products that I like. I've never been super knowledgeable about beauty products...I grew up with exclusively brothers and definitely didn't start developing an interest in makeup or products until way after the majority of my friends. 

This year, I had a serious goal of taking better and more preventative care of my skin. Confession - I have never used a face cleanser in my entire life. Seriously.

I have extremely sensitive skin, and I am pretty blessed to have basically completely clear skin, too. Anytime I tried cleansers growing up, they made my skin worse...and when I left my face alone, it looked fine! Now that I'm 24, though, I know that there are so many more things I can do to take care of my skin and help take preventative steps to keep it healthy and young down the road. 

I've also started experimenting with different makeup, and started using lip colors for the first time in my life, too! (Seriously, guys, I'm playing around with things most girls learn at age 14. At least I'm at this point now!)


Now that I've really gotten a sense of a solid beauty routine that I love and some products that I've seen incredible results with I wanted to share them with all of you!




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The Best New Running Shoes + Trying Out a New Workout!

This Fall I've re-dedicated myself to something I haven't done a single time since high school...running! I used to run track and constantly ran for conditioning in the other sports that I played. Unfortunately, my knees didn't appreciate the way I used to train, and it got so painful I told myself for years that I "couldn't" run. 

This wasn't entirely false...but it was at least to some degree, a bit of a cop-out. I mean, there are people with hip and knee replacements who run marathons, right?! It seemed to me that there was something I could be doing to make this work for me. 

I went to a local running store to get fitted for the best shoes for my walking style and my knees, some custom inserts, and of course - a cute color! I'm still doing my Pure Barre classes the majority of the week, but I've been loving introducing a cardio component into my fitness routine. 

If there is a fitness style, class or activity you've been hoping to add into your life routine, I promise it is so much easier than you think! 


Running Shoes | Blue Crop Leggings | Cross-Back Sports Bra | 
Open-Back Top | Jacket | Water Bottle 


I got these leggings and the sports bra during the Nordstrom Sale and they were such good finds... and they're BOTH still on sale! 


Stretching has definitely been super critical with trying to re-introduce running into my routine. I didn't do a good enough job on the first run, and my knees ached for two weeks! Definitely a rude awakening.


Taking the time to find a routine that works for me and helps me start from scratch was really important, so I've been doing an alternative plan of jogging and quick walking to help build up endurance and let my body ease into it. Having a gorgeous view like the lakeshore doesn't hurt!

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