Monthly Archives

September 2016

Decor & Entertaining Food

Snack Easy Series #5: All PoPcorn Edition!

September 26, 2016

Happy Monday Guys! Did you enjoy the first official weekend of fall? I did. For one, I gave my apartment a thorough cleaning on Friday. Between studying for  my comps (which I passed by the way!) and working on my proposal, my apartment hadn’t had a deep cleaning in a while. I vacuumed, scrubbed the shower, toilet, and sink, swept the kitchen, dusted, and wiped down surfaces. I also did and folded laundry. It felt amazing when I was done. There is nothing better than a clean space. After that I sat down with some tea, lit a candle even though it was still way too warm for that, and worked on my proposal. I submitted a draft to my advisor on Friday evening so he’d have time to review it in advance of our meeting tomorrow. That means that I get one more day to bask in blissful ignorance before I get his feedback. Pray for me!

Moving on to a tastier topic, I’ve got this month’s Snack Easy round up for you. Popcorn lovers rejoice, because this one is an all popcorn edition! Besides prayer, hard work, and staying active, snacks are a big part of what’s getting me through my PhD program. When I talk about some of my favorite things to snack on, I have to talk about popcorn (which made this all popcorn edition a no brainer).

I’m big on finding ways to make my meals and snacks a little more enjoyable. Besides doing things like turning off the tv when I eat and sitting down at a table, I also like to pay attention to presentation. This includes everything from how the food looks to what I put the food in.

World Market Popcorn Bowls

Enter these adorable popcorn bowls that I found at World Market. Aren’t they the cutest?! Whenever I eat popcorn now, I have to put it in one of these bowls. They’re the perfect size and they make me smile. They have a larger size of these bowls that I also bought. These would be great to bring out if you’re ever hosting a movie night at your place.

Popcorn Bowls: World Market

Retail Price: $4.99/little bowl; $9.99/big bowl (if you’re patient like me wait and you can get them on sale)

Healthy PopcornNow on to the yummy stuff that you can fill these bowls with. Spoiler alert: Every popcorn in this month’s round up I would buy again. Full disclosure: I already have. Now popcorn can be a healthy snack if you choose the right kind. All of the popcorns on this list have under 45 calories per cup and are a good source of fiber.

Popcorn aficionado, popcorn connoisseur – I’m not sure which title I like best but it all means that I know my popcorn. Now let’s get it poppin’ (couldn’t resist!)

Skinny Pop Dusted Dark Chocolate

Skinny Pop Dusted Dark Chocolate

Bought at: Harris Teeter

Price: $2.50 (sale price, retail: $4.29)

Repeat Purchase: Yes

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this one, but I’m so glad I decided to give it a try. The dusted dark chocolate gives this popcorn a nice cocoa flavor but you can detect a hint of salt. It’s a great balance. I’ve only seen this particular flavor at Harris Teeter and once at Publix. It’s not a flavor I buy all the time as I have to be in a specific mood for it, but when I am in the mood for it, it’s great. I’d definitely give this one a try if you’re a chocolate lover.

Live Love Pop Lime Fresco

Live Love Pop Lime Fresco

Bought at: Home Goods

Price: $1.99

Repeat Purchase: Yes

The lime is really faint on this one, so don’t be turned off by the name. It does come through ever so slightly at the end of the bite which I like. The trick here is to shake the bag before you pour out the popcorn because the lime seasoning tends to fall to the bottom of the bag. As you can tell by the name there’s something that’s light and fresh about this one. The hint of lime flavor gives it a nice, fresh twist. I really enjoy this popcorn and highly recommend it. My one caveat is that if you want to buy it because you’re expecting it to have a strong lime flavor, look else where. Otherwise, get it!

Lesser Evil Chia Pop Aged White Cheddar

Lesser Evil Chia Pop Aged White Cheddar

Bought at: Home Goods

Price: $2.39

Repeat Purchase: Yes

You can never go wrong with white cheddar popcorn. Who doesn’t love white cheddar?! This is a classic popcorn flavor and Lesser Evil did it justice. One three cup serving has 110 calories with 5 grams of fiber. Do yourself a favor and pick up a bag. It’s delicious.

Lesser Evil Himalayan Pink Salt with Coconut Oil

Lesser Evil Himalayan Pink Salt with Coconut Oil

Bought at: Home Goods

Price: $2.39

Repeat Purchase: Yes

This one is so simple but it’s so good! The coconut oil really comes through but not in an overpowering way. If you twisted my arm and forced me to pick a favorite out of the bunch, I’d be able to narrow it down to this one and the lime fresco, along with the white cheddar and the… haha you see where this is going. The point is I really like this one. Unlike some of the others I don’t need to be in a special mood for this one. I could eat it whenever.

Smartfood Delight Sweet & Spicy BBQSmartfood Delight Sweet & Spicy BBQ

Bought at: Target

Price: $2.50 (sale price, retail: $3.69)

Repeat Purchase: Yes

A part of the reason it took me so long to get this all popcorn edition up was because of this flavor. In true Chi fashion, I had to find a snack I liked that was near impossible to pin down for a repeat purchase. When I was traveling a few months ago I came across this popcorn at Walmart, but when I got back home I could not find it anywhere. I must have gone to four different Walmarts looking for it. As fate would have it one day as I was perusing the aisles at Target these caught my eye. I wasn’t even looking for them but there they were. And they were on sale. Jackpot! I may have let my mildly hoardish tendencies come through by grabbing four bags (since it took me so long to to find them I wanted to make sure I had a stock). I’ve yet to find these at a Walmart, but hopefully you’ll have better luck than I did. These have a nice BBQ flavor to them. The bag says spicy but don’t be alarmed by it (they’re not all that spicy). Similar to the dusted dark chocolate this is one that I have to be in a specific mood for. It’s still good though for when I want to switch things up.

Healthy Popcorn

So there you have it! What are some of your favorite popcorn flavors?! Sharing is caring:)


Roasted Jicama Shoestring Fries

September 19, 2016

Hi Guys. Happy Monday! This week I’ve got a recipe for you that calls for a vegetable you may have never heard of before. If you haven’t heard of jicama allow this to be your first tasty introduction. Jicama is a Mexican indigenous plant that kind of looks a like a turnip.

Jicama Roasted Fries

When I read that jicama tasted like a cross between a potato and an apple, my interest was quickly piqued.  While you can have jicama raw, from the description I thought it would make for a great fry. Well me being me, I had to test it out.

What can I say other than winner, winner jicama dinner. These came out crispy and savory. On the front end of the bite you get more of the potato flavor, while the apple comes through more on the tale end.  It’s a delightful savory and faintly sweet combo. The ingredients list for this recipe is super short. In fact you only need three things: the jicama itself, olive oil cooking spray, and a pink salt spice blend.


1 pound of jicama

Olive oil cooking spray

1 tablespoon of The Gourmet Collection Mediterranean Himalayan Pink Salt Blend


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Chop and discard the jicama skin (unlike a potato and an apple the skin is not edible)

Jicama Roasted Fries

Thinly dice the jicama.

Jicama Roasted Fries

Jicama Roasted Fries

Lay down some parchment paper and lightly coat it with cooking spray.

Jicama Roasted Fries

Lay your chopped jicama flat on your baking sheet.

Lightly coat with cooking spray.

Take one tablespoon of your pink salt spice blend and sprinkle it over the jicama.

Jicama Roasted Fries

Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, turn the oven off and let the fries sit in there for 3 more minutes to crisp up a little more.

Take out of the oven, and let cool for a couple minutes.

Jicama Roasted Fries


This will make about 2 servings but you can easily scale this recipe up to make more.


Chi’s Tips for Working Out in an Apartment

September 12, 2016

Tips for Working Out in an Apartment

The main reason that I’ve been able to workout so consistently for the past three years is that I prioritize convenience. My gym is free, open 24 hours a day, and just a few short steps from my bed. Translation: I workout exclusively from home. Do I plan to venture out and sign up for a gym membership in the future? Probably. I’ve done so in the past. But right now, exercising at home works perfectly for me. You want to know someone who it may not work so perfectly for – my downstairs neighbors. That’s if I didn’t take proactive steps to ensure that I was being a considerate neighbor.

In my last two apartment complexes, I’ve lived on the second floor or higher. This means that I had downstairs neighbors who would be subjected to intermittent thumps produced by jumping jacks, burpees, or high knees (depending on my workout of the day). There is nothing worse than a loud upstairs neighbor. As someone who’s also lived on the 1st floor of an apartment complex, believe me I know.

Being active is very important to me. However, it shouldn’t come at the expense of my neighbor’s peace. Below I share some tips I’ve learned along the way about how you can get your at home sweat session in without your downstairs neighbors plotting to slash your tires.

The first thing I recommend is reaching out to them – preferably with a note left at their door. In the note, leave your contact information so they can get back in touch with you. Depending on your comfort level, I’d say to leave your phone number and email since some people may have a preference for one mode of communication over another (e.g. someone who is more introverted may prefer email).

In the note you send, start off by introducing yourself if you’re not already acquainted. From there you can explain the situation.

Unsure of what to say? Check out a sample letter I drafted below,


My name is Jane and I’m your upstairs neighbor. I like to maintain an active lifestyle, and the most convenient way for me to do that at the moment is by working out at home. Not all, but some of my workouts involve high impact moves, which means there may be noise transmitted to lower levels. As much as I enjoy working out at home, I do want to make sure that I’m being a courteous neighbor. I’m bringing this to your attention to be proactive in the hopes that we can reach an agreement that works for us both. In doing so, I have a couple of questions, particularly regarding my workouts that involve high impact moves.

Are there days or times that are better for me to do these work outs?

Conversely, are there specific days and/or times that you’d really prefer I don’t do these types of workouts?

*Are there spaces in your apartment that you use less frequently, that would not be as bothersome for me to workout over?

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I really appreciate it. You can get in touch with me by cell phone at 123-456-7890 or by email at to let me know your thoughts. Have a great day!


*This question seems a bit more personal to me so ask this depending on your comfort level.

Keep in mind that this is the beginning of the conversation. There may likely need to be some compromise on your part, and perhaps theirs. By initiating this conversation, hopefully you can keep things amicable.

Many of the bad experiences I’ve heard about in these types of situations happen when the exerciser seems to be uncaring of his or her neighbors. Sending this letter can be really helpful because your neighbors will likely appreciate the fact that you reached out to them, and are taking their feelings into consideration.

Additional options for you:

Look for specific places in your apartment that a) have reduced sound transfer or b) that don’t overlap with theirs. For any loud workouts or loud moves try to confine them to these spaces. My apartment is carpeted but close to the entrance there’s a section that’s tiled and underneath it’s concrete so it makes much less noise when I jump. Consequently, I move to this space when I’m doing these moves. If you’re unsure about where there isn’t overlap between your apartment and theirs try checking with your apartment complex to get this information.

Look into interlocking floor mats. I haven’t personally used these, but I’ve heard from others that they help muffle (not necessarily eliminate) sound transmission. They may be a worthwhile investment if you’re committed to at home workouts and have downstairs neighbors.

Incorporate low impact, high intensity workouts into your workout regimen. You don’t have to sacrifice workout intensity by opting for low impact or less noisy workouts – trust me! I have plenty of workouts in my collection for which I know my quads will be shaking (and there isn’t a single plyometric move involved). Examples of challenging but quieter workouts include:

  • Barre
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Strength training (incorporating hand weights)
  • Resistance training (e.g. bodyweight only exercises or exercises that use things like resistance bands)

To this last point, I’ll be starting a series next month where I review fitness DVDs for several factors including whether “they’re apartment friendly” based on their noisiness factor. Stay tuned.

Do you have other tips that you’ve used to workout at home without disturbing your downstairs neighbors? Tell me about them below!

I hope you have a wonderful week:)


Minimal “Labor” Day Sriracha BBQ Chicken Wrap

September 5, 2016

Hi Guys. Happy Labor Day! For my first post on the new site, I wanted to bring you a yummy and super simple barbecue chicken wrap.  Check out the recipe below:

Sriracha BBQ Chicken Wrap


1 1/4 cups of Trader Joe’s Sriracha Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce

1 3/4 – 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 15 oz. can of corn

1 15 oz. can of pinto beans

1.5 cups of shredded carrots

1.5 cups of diced red onion

1 cup of diced green bell peppers

1 cup of jalapeno slices

3/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

1/4 teaspoon of ground jalapeno

8 whole wheat tortilla wraps

Add on top:

Jalapeno & honey goat cheese (Trader Joe’s)

Shredded reduced fat fiesta cheese blend (from Walmart)


Lay your chicken breasts flat in the slow cooker and cover with the barbecue sauce. Cook on low for 5-7 hours (time will vary depending on how quickly your slow cooker cooks food. For me it took about 5 hours).

Sriracha BBQ Chicken Wrap Sriracha BBQ Chicken Wrap Sriracha BBQ Chicken Wrap Sriracha BBQ Chicken Wrap Sriracha BBQ Chicken WrapWhen your chicken is done, turn off the slow cooker. You’ll know it’s done when your chicken falls apart with light prodding with a fork.

Next, put a large pot on the stove and turn it on to a medium-high heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil cooking spray and saute the onions and bell peppers on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes.

Drain the excess liquid and add the corn and pinto beans. Take about a cup of the barbecue sauce from your chicken in the slow cooker and add it to the pot of veggies. Then add your sea salt, black pepper, and ground jalapeno.

Cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.

Add, the carrots and jalapeno slices and let simmer on low for an additional 10 minutes.

Take your cooked barbecue chicken and shred with a knife and fork. Toss the shredded chicken with the remaining sauce in the slow cooker.Sriracha BBQ Chicken WrapSriracha BBQ Chicken Wrap

Add the shredded chicken to the pot with your veggies.

Take the shredded chicken mix and put it in the center of your wrap. Sprinkle some of the shredded cheese blend and the jalapeno and honey goat cheese on top.

Sriracha BBQ Chicken Wrap


Depending on how much filling you add to your wraps, this will make between 6-10 wraps. I added about a cup

Meal Option #2:

If you don’t care to make this a wrap, you could also toss the mix with some shredded iceberg lettuce for a delicious salad.

Here’s to an amazing week!