Turkey & Artichoke Penne Bowls with Garlic White Wine Sauce

Turkey breast, roasted artichokes and broccoli are tossed in a whole wheat penne pasta, then topped with a garlic white wine sauce.

Congratulations! You survived turkey day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday – phew! I hope you’re lucky enough to have all of your holiday shopping completed – I sure don’t. I vowed that I wouldn’t online shop for myself this year, but it’s just so hard when there are so many good deals and you’ve been eying something! Why not get what you’ve been wanting on sale?! I suppose it’s more of those ‘oh well look at that, I didn’t even know I wanted that‘ impulse purchae that get people (read: ME!) in trouble than buying the item I’ve been wanting on sale.

I swear I walk a fine line between wanting to minimalize and impulsively online shopping. I think I always have a donation box going at my house, and honestly I don’t have that much more to donate at this point. I’m not into chotskey’s and clutter. I’m super picky about my art. I take FOR-EV-ER to pick out a new piece of furniture. But sake’s alive I won’t think twice about a new cookbook, cozy cute blanket, or updated wine glasses (stems or no-stems – I CAN’T DECIDE!).

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Steak & Veggie Blue Cheese Bowls

Steak and veggie blue cheese bowls are an easy way to get all of your favorite veggies into a meal and they take less than 30 minutes to make

You guys. I’m bringing you a super duper easy meal. Like ‘oh my gosh I ate too much food at Thanksgiving and DO NOT feel like cooking‘ meal. And bonus – it can be made in 30 minutes of less!

I’m curious – did you guys go shopping on Black Friday? I’m personally not a Black Friday shopper. Well, I guess maybe I’ve evolved with the times and I definitely perused the online deals with my sweatpants on and big cup of coffee on Friday morning, but no way was I going to stand in lines at the store. I know some folks love it, and that’s great, but it’s definitely not for me.

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Spinach, Tomato & Egg White Scramble Bowls

Egg Whites are scrambled into a veggie-loaded bowl meal with tomatoes, spinach, red bell peppers, mushrooms, shallots and fresh garlic for a healthy, vegetarian meal

Holy crap, tomorrow is Thanksgiving! I told you guys about my Thanksgiving tradition but I do have to confess my tree is already up. I KNOW! I’m officially that person that put their tree up before Thanksgiving. But you know, I just sort of figured that if the Cubs could win the World Series, Donald Trump could become President and I could go to a pizza place and only order a salad (yep, for real, that happened last week!), well, to hell with it. I could put up my Christmas tree and it just wouldn’t be the strangest thing that’s happened over the last month.

In my defense, I put it up last weekend, so technically there was less than a week until Turkey Day. The truth is that I bought the most adorable new ivory faux fur holiday tree skirt and I couldn’t wait to use it. Further signs I’m firmly approaching 34 in just over a month – new holiday tree skirts are my jam.

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Tex-Mex Sweet Potato Noodle Stir-Fry Bowls

Tex-Mex Stir Fry Bowls with sweet potato noodles have seasoned steak, peppers, mexi corn, black beans, and fresh garlic.

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend and are feeling good about this week! Can you believe that Thanksgiving is this Thursday?! I feel like it should be next week, but nope; it’s upon us already!

We spent the weekend being for the most part, low key, which I was a-okay with. Between goodbye parties, dinners and get togethers I am socially and emotionally exhausted. I’ve consumed lots of wine, laughter and tears as I have geared up to say goodbye to my best friend who left for Portland on Friday, and a close girlfriend who is starting the next chapter of her life in Denver this week. Last week wasn’t nearly as “normal” as I had hoped, and while the holiday’s call for anything but normal this week, I feel myself sliding into a good routine. Back to normal, as they say!

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Easy Cheesy Salsa Chicken & Rice Bowls

Cheese is melted on top of salsa and shredded chicken, then paired with sautéed broccoli and brown rice

It’s Fri-YAY! And you guys…how are we already less than a week to Thanksgiving?! It’s crazy to think that we were just anticipating Halloween, and suddenly Thanksgiving is right on our heels.

Thankfully we never host Thanksgiving so I don’t have to plan, organize and cook for that, and I’m able to focus on these bowl meals and keeping on the healthy path.

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Caesar Salmon & Brussel Sprouts Bowls

Caesar salmon bowls with croutons and cheese breading, and a side of sautéed brussel sprouts and brown rice

I don’t know about you, but the last 2-3 weeks have been a blur for me. There is so much emotion going around right now and it’s been particularly difficult to open social media with the intensity of emotions that are happening. Please don’t misunderstand, I am not here to talk politics on this post. Despite the political climate at the moment, I also have my best friend moving to Portland at the end of the week and another very close friend moving to Denver the week of Thanksgiving, and my 8 1/2 year old lab gave me a bit of a health scare recently. To say that November 2016 has been a time of change is perhaps the biggest understatement I could make.

But, I woke up on Monday excited to start this week fresh. While there are still many emotions to sift through, I needed to get back on a regular schedule, needed to eat healthy, needed to be intentional and thoughtful and positive. While I cannot control everything going on around me, I can control myself and how I react, respond, and behave. So this week, even though it’s only a few days in, is about taking care of me.

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Creative Life Explored’s 2016 Holiday Gift Guide

2016 Holiday Gift Guide for foodies and home cooks

I hate being one of those people who mentions how many days it is until the holidays, but we can’t escape the fact that it will be here before we know it, so I wanted to help make your shopping experience a little bit easier!

Perhaps you have a cook in your life you need to shop for, or you yourself have been wanting to try some new things (it’s okay, I’m not telling – 50% of the packages that arrive on my doorstep are for me during the holidays 🙂 ). Either way, I wanted to give you a breakdown of some fun gifts that you can buy this season!

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