Favorite Things 2015

As a kid, I loved end of year stories – remember the “top 100” pop song countdown on New Years Eve? Yep, that was my jam. I’m easy to please. These days I’m more likely to read or listen to a year-end overview of news highlights or review a “best of” list of books {like this one from The Guardian – I need to read for pleasure more often in 2016}.

The end of the year is a wonderful time to practice gratitude and think about goals for the year to come. This is not an exhaustive list of the best things that happened this year, but only a few highlights. Here are ten of my favorite things in 2015!

Hosting Thanksgiving

My parents’ and brother visited Chicago for Thanksgiving this year, which gave K and I our first opportunity to host a holiday event at our house. We had a great time, and managed to squeeze in a visit to the first week of the Christkindlmarket Chicago downtown on Thanksgiving morning, a traditional German Christmas market. Our parents also met up for dinner one evening for Peruvian food and we spend the night before Thanksgiving trying a new ramen restaurant {wasabi in Logan Square – so good!} My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal itself was the local turkey from HoKa Turkey Farm, located in Waterman, IL. We used the Citrus and Peppercorn Dry Brine recipe from bon appetit magazine and it worked really well. Pepper and citrus smells {and tastes} amazing.

Holiday Tea


I fell in love with this holiday tea – Candy Cane Green Tea – from Trader Joe’s last year, and I made sure to stock up before the festive goods are gone until next season. I may have purchased a few too many boxes last week shopping with my sister-in-law and mother-in-law before K’s family Christmas. It looks like I’ll have plenty to sip on until spring!

Traveling to Door County

K and I made two trips to Door County {Wisconsin} this year, spending a week there with family over the 4th of July holiday as well as a short weekend trip in October. We ran two races and enjoyed endless cherry goods. Door County Cherry Cobbler anyone? Here is a list of my Door County posts this year:

24 Hours in Door County | Run Wild Race Recap: Quarter Marathon | Scandinavian White Fish Packets | 4 Running Tips for Vacation | Door County Hairpin 5k Race Recap


I attended a few Sweatworking events this year, which was a really fun way to try out new fitness classes. Sweatworking is a monthly fitness “networking” event hosted by a Sweat Life, a website founded by one of my favorite fitness bloggers Jeana Anderson. The October Sweatworking event was held at the Chicago Athletic Association, featuring On Your Mark. It was a huge workout {100 people!} in the beautiful boutique hotel. I took my friend S to try Sweatworking for the first time, and it was a fun and sweaty morning. The Chicago Athletic Association opened in May 2015 – check out a virtual tour from Curbed Chicago.

Fall Pumpkin Recipes

I went crazy for pumpkin recipes this year, posting six new recipes and two recipe round-ups. Chocolate Pumpkin Energy Bites turned out to be my favorite snack this year {pictured above}. Here is the rest of this year’s pumpkin goodies:

Chocolate Pumpkin Energy Bites | 3-Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Almond Butter | 15 Healthy Pumpkin Recipes: Sweet | Pumpkin Latte Smoothie | Flourless Pumpkin Spice Muffins | Pumpkin Chia Breakfast Cookies | Healthy Mini Pumpkin Pies | 15 Healthy Pumpkin Recipes: Savory

Porch Upgrade

In late summer, I decided to paint the trim in our front porch from the {hideous} orange-gold color we inherited from the sellers to a light gray color that matches our home’s interior. The project took a lot longer than anticipated {K jokes that I paint trim like it’s a piece of art} but I love the result. We also upgraded the porch furnishings and decor. We spend so much time in the porch, especially in the late spring, summer and fall months. It’s an unheated space, but comfortable as long as the temperature outdoors is at least 45 degrees {the porch is completely enclosed}. I have two tips from painting porch trim for the first time: 1) use semi-gloss or gloss paint, as it’s much easier to clean, and 2) select a neutral color.

The details:

  • Paint: Benjamin Moore {Horizon 1478; semi-gloss}
  • Rug: West Elm
  • Pillows + throw: West Elm 
  • Ottoman: Target
  • Furniture: Menards
  • Curtains: IKEA


To date, I have run 532 miles in 2015 {according to my Nike+ app}. I’m hoping to squeeze in a few more before 2016 begins, but I’m still fighting a bad cold today so we’ll see if that happens. My original goal was to hit 600 miles this year, but it’s clear that’s not going to happen. I’m still happy with how this running year ended, with no injuries and lots of fun miles. Here are my favorite race recap highlight posts:

Santa Hustle Chicago 5k | Hot Chocolate Chicago 5k | Women’s Health Run 10 Feed 10 10k {Chicago} | Run Wild Quarter Marathon {Wisconsin} | Humboldt Park 5k Chicago Race | Door County Hairpin 5k Race {Wisconsin} | Hot Chocolate Seattle 5k Race

Making Zoodles

I spiralized many zucchinis over the summer, to make zucchini “noodles” {zoodles} for a healthier dinner dish. I only posted two recipes on the blog, but I have so many ideas – check out my Taco Zoodle Bowls and Caprese Chicken Zoodle Bowls for recipe options. I think there are many more vegetable “noodle” recipes to come in the new year!

Seattle Trip

I was a Hot Chocolate Race Ambassador last year, which gave me the amazing opportunity to earn a complimentary trip for two to Seattle to run the Hot Chocolate race in March. K and I have good friends that live in Seattle and we had a wonderful time hiking, exploring the city, and learning how to make Dungeness Crab. The photo above is from a hike to Lake Serene in the Cascade Mountain Range. Check out Part I and Part II of my Seattle trip recaps.

New Workout Studio

One of my goals in 2015 was to get out of my comfort zone with workout classes. Besides trying a few Sweatworking events, I also purchased a Groupon for 20 classes at a new fitness studio on the northwest side of the city – Dovetail Studios. Dovetail offers dance and variety of fitness classes. Taking a Cardio Barre class has become a weekly habit, and I have also tried the weekend Pilates class. I’m excited to see this studio grow and try a few more new workout opportunities!

What was your favorite thing in 2015? Any resolutions for 2016?

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