April 2020

This has been a hard three weeks for all of us and even harder weeks are to come. We all should be working from home by now, with the exception of essential workers (thanks, Mom & Stacy!). Working remotely can be a challenging adjustment for many people who weren’t used to it before, and we’re all just trying to figure out if we really CAN take that WebEx meeting from our couch while wearing PJ bottoms and a button down. It’s weird. 

One piece of advice that I have for you right now is to mix up where you work every day. Some days call for sitting in your comfy La-Z-Boy by the window, while others require sitting at your desk staring at an Excel file for 8 hours. If you’re anything like me, no day is the same. The one thing that DOES remain the same is my background music. April’s playlist is the perfect mix of upbeat and chill tunes to get you in the mood for whatever day you have in store.

Here’s what you’ll find:

  • Wildflower – 5 Seconds of Summer
  • Believe (feat. Justin Timberlake) – Meek Mill
  • Maniac – Conan Gray
  • Forever Yours (Avicii Tribute) – Kygo, Avicii, & Sandro Cavazza
  • Kings & Queens – Ava Max
  • Never Seen the Rain – Tones And I
  • How To Be Lonely – Rita Ora
  • Forever – FLETCHER
  • Modern Loneliness – Lauv
  • Break My Heart – Dua Lipa
  • Better Days – OneRepublic
  • Last Time I Say Sorry – Kane Brown & John Legend (unexpected collab, but I’m cool with it)
  • Aftertaste (feat. Morgan St. Jean) – Loud Luxury
  • Like It Is – Kygo, Zara Larsson, & Tyga
  • I Love You’s – Hailee Steinfeld
  • Break Up Song – Little Mix
  • julia – Jeremy Zucker
  • Good Example – R3HAB & Andy Grammer
  • OK, All Right – David Archuleta (I smell a comeback!)
  • Hold Me Close (feat. Ella Henderson) – Sam Feldt
  • This City (Acoustic) – Sam Fischer
  • Upside Down – KANDY
  • California (feat. Fairground Saints) – Molly Parton
  • You should be sad (Tiesto Remix) – Halsey & Tiesto
  • Think About You (feat. Valerie Broussard) [Galantis Remix] – Kygo
  • Rojo – J Balvin
  • Better Day (feat. Aloe Blacc) – Young Bombs
  • One Touch – Jess Glynne & Jax Jones
  • Mistakes – Jonas Blue & Paloma Faith
  • Harder – Jax Jones & Bebe Rexha
  • Built to Last (feat. RORY) – Feki, RORY
  • Better Apart (feat. Dresage) – Jai Wolf, Dresage

As always, you can find this playlist and all others on Spotify and Apple Music by searching “baconama.” On Spotify, this month’s playlist is titled “Against The Grain_April 2020.” Apple Music users can find it titled “April 2020.” 

Enjoy and please stay home and safe. Cheers! 

Flo’s Desserts: GF Coconut Macaroons

I looooove all things sweet. It’s such a good day when I come across a gluten-free dessert recipe, and last week I had one of those days.

Florence, a colleague of mine, has become quite the baker. Similarly to me, she likes to dabble with new recipes, so when she brought her gluten-free coconut macaroons into work, I was hooked. This coming from a gal who used to say “I don’t do coconuts.” Trust me, they’re that good and are SO easy to make.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 14 ounces (1 bag) shredded coconut
  • 14 ounces (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 XL eggs used for egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • THAT’S IT!

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees
  • Grab yourself a big bowl and combine the shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract. Mix.
  • Separate your egg whites (This was new for me, but is super easy so if I can do it, you can too!) into another bowl and add in the salt.
  • Using a hand mixer, blend the egg whites and salt until it gets frothy and little peaks begin to appear. (I probably could have blended mine for a bit longer [see photo], but it is what it is.)
  • Gently fold in the egg whites into the shredded coconut mixture.
  • Using an ice cream scoop or a spoon, place ‘dough’ onto sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a Silpat if you’re feeling fancy. (I was at my parents house and mistook wax paper for parchment paper – don’t do that. That’s bad. Wax paper can burn. Learn from me and don’t do that.) 
  • Bake for 25-27 minutes until they’re goldeny brown goodness.
  • Enjoy!

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Let me know if you try out Flo’s GF Coconut Macaroon recipe! I’d love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment here or on Instagram to share your experience. 

Bon appétit! 

March 2020

Happy March, friends! Chicago is finally seeing sunshine after months of gloom and grey skies. Temperatures are creeping above 45, which means midwesterners have already opened their windows and have swapped their parkas for jeans and a tee shirt. It’s inevitable that we’ll still have one more snow storm and cold snap, but for now, we’re embracing the sun and “warmth.” 

To get you in the Spring spirit, I’ve prepared a 2 hour+ playlist just for you. Here’s what you’ll hear:

  • ON (feat. Sia) – BTS
  • Everywhere – Fleetwood Mac
  • Sail Into the Sun – Gentlemen Hall
  • No Cars Go – Arcade Fire
  • Feel Me – Selena Gomez
  • Great Unknown – X Ambassadors
  • Intentions (feat. Quavo) – Justin Bieber
  • No Judgement – Niall Horan
  • Know Your Worth – Khalid & Disclosure
  • To Die For – Sam Smith
  • No Time To Die – Billie Eilish
  • Heartless (feat. Morgan Wallen) – Diplo & Julia Michaels
  • Oh My God – Alec Benjamin
  • Forever (feat. Post Malone) – Justin Bieber
  • No Shame – 5 Seconds of Summer
  • Birthday – Anne-Marie
  • Demons – Alec Benjamin
  • Mean It (feat. Wrabel) – Cash Cash
  • Therapy – Duke Dumont
  • Never Felt a Love Like This – Galantis & Hook N Sling
  • Better Off Without You (feat. Shift K3Y) – Becky Hill
  • Born To Love (feat. SHELLS) – Meduza
  • Moon Rider (feat. Wrabel) – Jai Wolf
  • Older – Shallou & Daya
  • Say My Name (feat. Zyra) – ODESZA
  • Lucky Me (feat. Great Good Fine Ok) – The Knocks
  • Nostalgic – ARIZONA
  • Keep It Simple (feat. Wilder Woods) – Matoma, Petey, Wilder Woods
  • The Reason Why – JP Cooper, Stefflon Don, Banx & Ranx
  • When We Were Young – Lost Kings, Norma Jean Martine
  • Younger – Jonas
  • Old Me – 5 Seconds of Summer
  • All Night (feat. Ally Brooke) – Afrojack
  • The Other Side – SZA & Justin Timberlake
  • Nights Like This – Loud Luxury & CID
  • Anywhere – Rita Ora
  • Follow You – Cheat Codes
  • Sun Models (feat. Madelyn Grant) – ODESZA

As always, head over to Spotify or Apple Music and search for “baconama.” This month’s playlist is called “Against The Grain_March 2020.” Apple Music fans, you’ll find this playlist under “March 2020.” Enjoy! 

February 2020

Is it just me or did January feel like it was 17 weeks long? It was tough, but we’ve finally made it to February, people! 29 days to jam out to this month’s playlist!

  • The Road – Faouzia
  • Anyone – Demi Lovato
  • Tusa – Karol G & Nicki Minaj
  • UCLA (feat. 24hrs) – RL Grime
  • What A Man Gotta Do – Jonas Brothers
  • Make You Feel My Love – JJ Heller
  • Wait (Chromeo Remix) – Maroon 5 [Also added this one to my Work Out playlist for those on Apple Music…]
  • Wherever You Are – Kodaline
  • When Boys Cry – Kiesza
  • In Your Eyes (feat. Alida) – Robin Schulz
  • Rare – Selena Gomez
  • I Lived – Ketreyah
  • You should be sad – Halsey
  • Ring – Selena Gomez
  • July – Noah Cyrus & Leon Bridges [Have had this one on repeat recently]
  • This City – Sam Fischer
  • Flames – R3HAB, Zayn, & Jungleboi
  • Stay – Gracie Abrams [Anyone else think Stacey Abrams? Too much politics for me? Okay..]
  • Get Me (feat. Kehlani) – Justin Bieber
  • Little of Your Love (BloodPop Remix) – HAIM & BloodPop
  • Only The Young – Taylor Swift [Have you watched the Miss Americana documentary on Netflix yet? Highly recommend: 11/10]
  • Physical – Dua Lipa
  • Sometimes – H.E.R
  • 11 Minutes (feat. Travis Barker) – Yungblud & Halsey
  • Dynamite – China Anne McClain [I realize this is a Disney pop cover of Taio
  • I’m On Fire – Chromatics
  • Tonight – Kesha

Head over to Spotify or Apple Music, search “baconama.” Spotify’s playlists are titled “Against the Grain_February 2020” and Apple Music’s are just “February 2020.”

When do you usually jam out to your playlists? While cleaning? At your desk? Have it on while you’re whipping up dinner? I want to know! Comment below with how you listen to these playlists 🙂 

January 2020

It never fails that every January, I struggle with writing the new year on my work. From writing the new date in the top right corner of my homework in high school to saving any new Excel documents for work, it’s inevitable that I put the previous year for at least the first week of the new year. Anyone else? 

Anyway… this month’s playlist has a lot of high intensity, high BPM, dance jams that are just ready to help you push through your new workout routine that you’ll hopefully maintain past February 15th. I’m not sure if I just gravitate toward these upbeat songs or if artists tend to release these hits around this time of year knowing that we’ll need an awesome workout playlist?

Here’s what’s on this month’s list:

  • Chills – Why Don’t We
  • Yummy – Justin Bieber
  • Where I’m Going (feat. Ronak) – Miles Away
  • Don’t Start Now (Kungs Remix) – Dua Lipa
  • Fades Away (feat. MishCatt) [Tribute Concert Version] – Avicii
  • Kiss Somebody (with Seeb) – Julie Bergan
  • Flames (feat. Jungleboi) – R3HAB & Zayn
  • Push My Luck – The Chainsmokers
  • No Good – Ally Brooke
  • everything i wanted – Billie Eilish
  • On Somebody – Ava Max
  • Hold On (feat. Michel Zitron) – Martin Garrix & Matisse & Sadko
  • Never Alone (feat. VCATION) [Angelo Huth Remix] – Felix Jaehn & MESTO
  • Magnetic – MONSTA X & Sebastian Yatra
  • Alone, Pt. II – Alan Walker & Ava Max
  • The Git Up (feat. Ciara) [Remix] – Blanco Brown [Okay, hear me out. It’s good. That’s it.]
  • Before You Go – Lewis Capaldi
  • Never Be The Same (feat. Rosie Darling) – Tritonal
  • The Power (Leftwing : Kody Remix) – Duke Dumont & Zak Abel
  • We Got Love (feat. Ella Henderson) – Sigala
  • Breathe – James Arthur
  • Falling – Harry Styles
  • Post Malone (feat. RANI) [Gattuso Remix] – Sam Feldt
  • Glitter – Benee
  • All Me (feat. Keyshia Cole) – Kehlani
  • Wide Open – FRENSHIP
  • On My Way (Rain or Shine Remix) – Tobtok
  • Swing Swing – ayokay

As always, you can find January’s playlist by searching “baconama” on Spotify and Apple Music. Don’t forget about the “Best of 2019” playlist, as well! 

Nice, France

Ever heard the saying, ‘Nice is nice’? Welp, it’s true.

Last May, Josh and I went on a two-week trip to Iceland, Paris, and Nice. Ending our trip in Nice was the perfect decision because it has a great mix of sight-seeing, yummy food, and beach time. We had been on the go for 9 days and were ready to soak up being engaged [and not having a day-by-day itinerary like we did in Iceland]. We didn’t even go in with anything in mind – no known places to see, restaurants in which to dine, or things to do.

Since this was Josh’s first time to Europe, we decided to take the scenic route and booked 2 first class seats on the TGV, France’s high-speed train. The journey from Gare de Lyon to Nice Ville took us about 6 hours. We were able to check out France’s countryside – something we definitely wouldn’t have been able to do from 30,000 feet up.

For our 3 days in Nice, we stayed in an AirBnb on Rue Paradis, right off of a cute pedestrian-only route, Rue Massena. The apartment was right near le Jardin d’Albert and was a super quick walk to Place Massena, their version of a town square. Our place was so central that we didn’t need to grab a cab for the duration of our stay, which is always clutch.

Here are some of the things we did:

  • Visited the #ILoveNice sign – A must-do in Nice in the age of Instagram. If you don’t get a picture with the sign, were you even in Nice?! How would anyone know?!
  • Walked around Place Massena
  • Checked out the Monument Aux Morts de NiceMonument_Nice
  • Walked along La Promenade des Anglais/Quai des Etats-Unis
    • The best views of the water, lots of restaurants, tons of shops & beach clubs

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  • Spent a half day laying out by the water at Plage Beau Rivage . One thing to note: the beaches in Nice are very pebbly and are uncomfortable to lay on without a beach chair. Since we didn’t bring beach towels, we opted to pay to hang out at Beau Rivage, where we had reserved beach chairs, towels, and had wait service right at our chairs. They even had burlap down as walkways to help with the heat and ouchies from walkingon stones.
    Beach 2_Nice
  • Wandered through the pedestrian streets and popped into the tiny shops. It’s so fun to get lost in the tiny foot-traffic-only alleys in European cities (more on this to come in my Greece notes) and to stumble upon some really great restaurants.

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  • Most importantly, ate a lot of charcuterie and macarons.

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    Have you ever been to Southern France? Which cities did you go to? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a note below or on ATG’s Instagram to share and stay tuned for more itineraries/city guides in the weeks to come!

 

Williams-Sonoma’s Spiced Apple Muffins

It seems like we’re in a Williams-Sonoma store once a week these days – returning or exchanging registry gifts that we received for our wedding. Every time I’m in the store, I wander around seeing if anything new sparks my attention. This past weekend, I discovered their gluten-free spiced apple quick bread mix and my eyes lit up.

Instead of following the instructions and making one single loaf of bread, we divided the mix into muffin tins and created individual bread muffins. Besides from that, we didn’t deviate from the instructions and they turned out to be so yummy AND made our apartment smell like Bath and Body Works’ Cider Lane candle (bonus!):

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Melt one stick butter
  • Blend butter, 2 eggs, quick bread mix, and 1 cup of water in a big bowl
  • Divide into pre-buttered/greased muffin tins
  • Cook for 55 minutes or until nice and browned
  • Sit for 10 minutes – or if you’re like me, let them sit for maybe 2 minutes, bite into one, and immediately regret it because it’s too hot and you should have listened and waited 10 minutes.

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For all of my Celiac or gluten-sensitive friends, I definitely recommend this mix come holiday time. They’re the perfect little treat with the best flavoring and are so easy to bake. 10/10.

September and October 2019

After taking a month away from ATGchi to get hitched and travel to Greece (stay tuned for some pretty sweet itineraries), I’m back and have a special treat for you! Since I didn’t make a playlist for September (except an awesome 6.5+ hour playlist of your dreams called “Wedding Day Beats” that can be found on my Spotify profile), I’m giving you a DOUBLE playlist! That’s right – two months’ worth of tunes for your eardrums.

I’m currently jamming to this playlist as I’m staring out the window at the gloomiest of gloomy days and can honestly say that these tunes are getting me through. Check out the perfect blend of mmst-mmst and mmm below:

  • All The Time – Zara Larsson
  • Keep You Mine – NOTD & Shy Martin
  • Kill The Lights (w/ Nile Rodgers) [Audien Remix] – Alex Newell, Jess Glynne & DJ Cassidy
  • Love On Me – Galantis & Hook N Sling
  • Young, Wild & Free – Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa
  • Right Back (feat. A Boogie wit da Hoodie) – Khalid
  • All Around the World (feat. Bryn Christopher) – Matoma
  • What Am I – Why Don’t We
  • RAIN – Ben Platt
  • Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince – Taylor Swift [Anyone else say the Half-Blood Prince? Just me? Cool.]
  • Paper Rings – Taylor Swift [We cut our wedding cake to this song!]
  • London Boy – Taylor Swift
  • Daylight – Taylor Swift
  • Rollercoaster – Jonas Brothers
  • Slow Dance (feat. Ava Max) – AJ Mitchell
  • The Git Up – Blanco Brown [The most addicting song ever]
  • Dance Monkey – Tones and I
  • Thing For You – David Guetta & Martin Solveig
  • Back & Forth – MK, Jonas Blue & Becky Hill
  • Walking On a Dream – Empire of the Sun [Flashbacks to MSU tailgates, anyone?]
  • Proud – Marshmello
  • Don’t Give Up On Me – Andy Grammer
  • if we never met – JOHN.k
  • Torn – Ava Max
  • Motivation – Normani [a JAM]
  • In Your Arms – Illenium & X Ambassadors
  • Dreams (feat. Dakota & T-Pain) – Alex Ross [Reminds me of a song that’d play in A&F circa 2007]
  • Call If You Need Me – Galantis
  • Peanut Butter Jelly – Galantis
  • I’m Not Alright – Loud Luxury & Bryce Vine [Slowly getting okay with this country & dance hybrid thing]
  • Wish You Well – Sigala & Becky Hill
  • Champion (feat. Tia Ray) – Jason Derulo
  • We Were Young (feat. JP Cooper) – Petit Biscuit & DROELOE
  • Look Away – Stephen Puth
  • Sax – Fleur East [If you’re in a bad mood, listen to this.]
  • Wanted – OneRepublic
  • Let It Be Me – Steve Aoki & Backstreet Boys [Backstreet’s back, alright?!]
  • OMG – Gryffin & Carly Rae Jepsen [Carly is having a MOMENT and I’m 100% here for it]
  • Lonely – Diplo & Jonas Brothers
  • Good Thing – Zedd & Kehlani
  • Heartless (feat. Morgan Wallen) – Diplo
  • Imperfections – Celine Dion [Celine!!!!!!!!]
  • Slide Away – Miley Cyrus
  • I Wish – Hayley Kiyoko
  • Love Me Less (feat. Kim Petras) – MAX & Kim Petras
  • Legends – Now United
  • Feelings – Lauv
  • Could Have Been You – Jake Miller
  • Holy Water – Galantis [Galantis can do no wrong, IMO]
  • Me Quedare Contigo (feat. Lenier & El Micha) – Pitbull & Ne-Yo
  • The Power – Duke Dumont & Zak Abel
  • This Is Real – Jax Jones & Ella Henderson [Great combo!]
  • Somebody To Love – OneRepublic
  • Lady – Blake Rose
  • Young And In Love – Ingrid Michaelson
  • Carry Me Away – John Mayer
  • Circles – Post Malone
  • Rooting For You – Alessia Cara
  • Shotgun – George Ezra

Reminder that you can find this playlist, and all others, by searching “baconama” on Spotify. This month’s playlist is titled “Against The Grain_Sept and Oct 2019“. For my Apple Music followers, search “baconama” and you’ll find the “September 2019” and “October 2019” playlists ready to go!

 

a HERo podcast

When my besties do amazing things, I LOVE LOVE LOVE hyping them up and telling the world how awesome and ridiculously cool they are. Today’s one of those days. Friend of 11 (!!!!) years, author of this post from back in February 2018, token ginger friend (thank goodness there’s finally an emoji for them), co-maid of honor, and lawyer extraordinaire, Kristie has added another achievement to her already long list of really cool things. She and her wicked smart lawyer friend, Meagan, launched a PODCAST!

a HERo podcast, accurately named since they chat about all things HER, touches on subjects like social media, abortion, self care, the ever-evolving (and IMO, toxic) diet culture, and my favorite one yet: how.to.be.a.good.wedding.guest. This one hits home since we’re less than 25 days out from our big day (!!!!!!!!!!!!). More on that in a bit.

First, let’s chat about Meagan and Kristie.

  • Meagan is a lawyer by trade and has a passion for good conversation and learning. She got the idea to start their podcast when she realized that she has a lot to say about issues that affect women (who doesn’t these days?!) and wanted to have fun along the way. Kristie agreed to be her co-host and they got to work! When she’s not at work or working on the podcast, she likes to play golf, travel the globe and hang out with her fur babies.
  • Kristie’s the other half of a HERo podcast. She’s also a lawyer, but most importantly, she loves podcasts and is a major public radio nerd.  She’s super thankful for the opportunities podcasting has provided her and feels so lucky to share the HERo journey with their listeners.  Other things she likes include running, exploring the city of Detroit and spending time with her family and friends.

Now, back to their wedding podcast episode. After a brief intro conversation, the ladies dive deeply into the topic of wedding rules and etiquette. Wedding rules that they chat about that I 100% relate to:

  • Check your invite – is it addressed to just YOU? Welp, that means just YOU and not a random human being you just met last month are invited. We decided to have our RSVPs be submitted via The Knot, which thankfully doesn’t allow guests to enter in names of non-invited humans. This saves us that awkward conversation of having to say “No, I don’t know this girl you met yesterday, she’s actually not invited but thank you for asking.”
  • RSVP! Our invites are due on Saturday and I’m already dreading having to follow up with people, so this is a good call out – RSVP and do it on time (please).
  • Dress appropriately! One of my favorite call outs in their conversation is to not.wear.white! Can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen women wearing white at weddings and while it’s obvious they’re not the bride, it’s still weird. Of all colors, of all days? Just don’t do it and save yourself the judgment from everyone else, because sadly, it’ll happen.
  • Do NOT bring colored drinks onto the dance floor – I repeat – do NOT bring red wine onto the dance floor.
  • To the brides – communicate expectations with your bridesmaids far enough in advance. As a bride, I’ve been trying to keep my maids updated (but not too updated?! ahh!), and remind them that certain things aren’t mandatory because I realize that everyone has lives and can’t do everything. It’s tough!

It sounds like the ladies are going to touch on even more wedding related festivities in future podcast episodes, so stay tuned for even more coming your way. The two of them provide a refreshingly honest take on all things women and the world, which makes a HERo podcast so easy to listen to – whether it’s during your morning commute, mid-day workout, or while whipping up dinner in the evening.

Like what you saw above and want to check out a HERo podcast? Head to wherever you listen to podcasts: Spotify, Apple Music, Stitcher, etc. Give them a listen, subscribe, follow them on insta @aheropodcast, and let them know how much you love them!

My Go-To Weeknight Meal: Taco Bowls

Cooking is hard – especially when you’re cooking for two and one of you has Celiac. It gets even harder when you’re tired after a long day of work and all you want to do is plop in bed and never move again.

Anyone who knows me knows that I could live off of tacos – We’re having a taco truck at our wedding, so CLEARLY I love them a lot. I’d say we have some form of taco (bowl, salad, or tortilla-formed) at least once a week. Sometimes, we get lazy and order in from UberEats or Postmates, but we do like to whip something up every now and again and it’s usually taco bowls since they’re so easy to make.

Everyone has those few things that are always in their fridge, freezer, and cabinets. For us, it’s ground turkey, taco seasoning (GF, of course), and Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice. Most of the time we’ll have sour cream, shredded cheese, and tomatillo salsa on hand, so fixing up taco bowl can take 10 minutes or less.

 

 

Here’s what we use:

  • Trader Joe’s lean ground turkey
  • Gluten-free taco seasoning
  • Trader Joe’s microwavable brown rice
  • Shredded cheese
  • Tomatillo salsa
  • Guacamole (I really like Trader Joe’s yogurt-based guac, but had Whole Foods’ guac in our fridge the other day)
  • Sour cream (mixed with lime juice, a splash of water, and a dash of salt & pepper)

I don’t even think I need to go through the creation steps with you because it’s as simple as brown the turkey, add the seasoning and some water; microwave the rice; mix your crema (sour cream, water, lime juice, salt, & pepper); then compile everything in a bowl and EAT. So quick, so good, so easy.

Bon appétit! 

What’s your go-to weeknight meal? Comment below or on instagram (againstthegrainchi) and maybe we can share one of your recipes in the future!