Random Acts of Kindness

I’ll be the first to admit that my kids spend a lot of time on technology as I’m sure most kids do. They have iPads, my oldest has a phone, we have a Wii and an Xbox, the majority of their school work in done on laptops and iPads.

My husband and I do our best to limit their screen time during the school year. They don’t play video games during the week but are allowed to play them Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This is a little harder to enforce with my 15 year old but we try.

Now that’s it summer, they’ve been spending a lot of time with their faces in video games, watching YouTube videos, watching cartoons, and such. So, my brilliant mom brain came up with the idea to have a “technology free week.” My mom brain also knew that without other stuff for my kids to do, it would be a week of craziness, fighting, coming in and out of the house every 36 seconds (this is an accurate statement – I’ve timed them), and whining that they’re bored and have nothing to do.

So, I decided that not only would it be a technology free week, but we would spend the week doing nice things for others – random acts of kindness. Acts of kindness that would be easy for my kids to do and relatively inexpensive.

We also went to the library to get some books to keep the kids busy. Luckily, both my children take after me and love to read. Does anyone else still absolutely love the library?! I could honestly spend hours in the library looking at all the books.

We started our random acts of kindness on Monday morning. I had to stop by Danny’s work to pick up a receipt that I needed from him so we decided to bring the women in his office flowers.

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There are three women in his office so we bought three bouquets of flowers from the grocery store and a bag of cookies for everyone in the office. The kids went inside to deliver the flowers and grab the receipt for me. Danny said the ladies loved the flowers.

Our next act of kindness was delivering some toys to the park. We bought a bunch of sand toys and put a random act of kindness post-it on them.

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Then the kids went to the park and left the toys in the sandbox for kids to find.

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We bought the sand toys at the Dollar Store and while we were there, we left a few dollar bills hidden in the toy section for kids to find.

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The kids really enjoyed doing random acts of kindness for other kids, so they came up with the idea of leaving quarters in every single gumball machine at the store.

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The kids were excited to see if all the quarters would be gone by the time we left the store – they were. I’m guessing one kid got a big surprise.

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We also wanted to do a few things that didn’t cost very much money or any money. So on Sunday, the kids cut all the coupons out of the Chicago Tribune newspaper. After they left the quarters in the gumball machine, we placed the coupons all around the store by item.

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After we left the store, the kids went into the parking lot to see if anyone was unloading their groceries so they could help take their cart and put it away for them. There were only a couple of people in the parking lot so the kids also collected carts that were far away from the store and in random places.

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Our next random act of kindness was to pay for the person behind us in the Starbucks drive-thru line.

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I ordered my coffee and then when I got to the window, I told the guy that I would like to pay for my coffee and for the person behind me.  I’m hoping the lady behind me was happy that her coffee was paid for by a complete stranger.

We have one ongoing project that we’re working on – collecting pop tabs.

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We live near a Ronald McDonald House which houses families that have sick children in the hospital so they can be near their child. Collecting the pop tabs helps children learn about the importance of recycling while also helping to raise money to help sick children and their families.

We started collecting the pop tabs in a plastic water jug and when it’s full, we’ll bring it to the Ronald McDonald House.

We are finishing our last random act of kindness today. I found a website called More Love Letters. On this website, people can nominate someone to receive a bundle of letters that include words of kindness, love, and well wishes. The people that are nominated are people that may be sick or struggling with something in life and need words of encouragement.

Strangers from all over the world send in letters and the letters are then delivered to the person. I thought it was such a great idea. There’s always times in our lives when we need happy words and encouragement. And a bundle of letters from strangers all over the world who don’t know you but believe in you can be really encouraging.

The kids and I found someone that we really wanted to write letters to and will be mailing them out this week.

Our technology-free and random acts of kindness week was a success. I hope this teaches my children that life isn’t all about playing games and it’s nice to take time out of your day to do something nice for someone else. And even though the kids will go back to catching Pokemon and watching YouTube videos, we will continue spreading kindness in the world even if it’s just the simple act of smiling at a stranger.

Have a wonderful day.

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UncommonGoods + A Giveaway!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

Good morning! It’s Friday! I don’t know about you guys but I’m looking forward to this weekend. For once, we have no set plans but we are getting ready for our vacation next week!

I was recently contacted by the company, UncommonGoods, to share a post with you guys about their company. I have bought items from UncommonGoods in the past and after reading more about their company I knew they were a company that I would love for you guys to learn more about.

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Also, their website has everything. I can’t even tell you how long I spent on their website looking at all the interesting stuff. They sell unique gifts, jewelry, home items, kitchen and bar items, kids stuff, art, and so much more.

UncommonGoods focuses both on the needs of their customers as well as their employees, which I think is something to be respected.

I love UncommonGood’s mission and the things they focus on. They work hard to make a positive impact in the workplace and in the world. They believe that  sustainability starts with integrity in everything they do including treating all people, inside and outside of the company, with respect. They provide a living wage for all employees and offer full-time and most part-time employees health insurance.

UncommonGoods works with suppliers from artists to small manufacturers to make their products from handmade, recycled, and organic products. They focus on selling products that are made from recycled components and have never sold products that contain leather, feathers, or fur.

I really appreciate the fact that they sell products that don’t harm humans or animals.

UncommonGoods has also created the Better to Give Program in 2001, which lets you select a non-profit organization to receive a $1donation from us at checkout.

Now getting to the good stuff – the fun stuff UncommonGoods offers!

We have so many birthdays for family and friends throughout the years and I love UncommonGoods variety of unique gift ideas. You can check them out here.

I know Danny would love this whiskey stones and gift set:

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And who wouldn’t love this awesome unicorn mug?!

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I think the world would be a better place if we all drank out of unicorn mugs. :)

I love that UncommonGoods offers a wide variety of things for babies and kids. I’m always looking for cool ideas for my kids for Christmas and for my niece and nephew’s birthdays.

One item that I think is really cool is the super magnetic putty – check it out here. (And to be honest, I’d probably play with this myself. Maybe I’d share it with the kids. Maybe)

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When you put the putty near the magnet, within five seconds, it will stretch itself towards the magnet like it’s alive! My kids love science and especially magnets, so they would love this.

Another thing I love about UncommonGoods is their wide range of personalized baby gifts. I am a sucker for anything with my name on it so I love the personalized touch. It’s also great for someone who has a unique name and can’t find their name on the thing at the store.

My son, Jaden, is always sad that all the items he finds at the store spell his name Jayden instead of Jaden. When he was a infant someone gave me a personalized baby bib with his name Jaden on it and I have kept it ever since.

You can see all the great personalized items that UncommonGoods offers here.

My favorites include the birth announcement pillows:

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the books:

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and the personalized ABC mat:

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I know my niece and nephew would love that mat.

Overall, UncommonGoods is a great company with good morals that offers a wide variety of unique items and gifts. I really appreciate companies that have great customer service, give back in some way, and our responsible about the items they sell and the materials they use.

UncommonGoods has generously offered to give one reader a $50 gift certificate to purchase anything on their website. Enter below!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Spinach Tortellini Pasta Salad + Palmolive

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

Good afternoon! I have a great recipe to share with you guys today – Spinach Tortellini Pasta Salad.

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We went to my in-law’s house on Sunday for a cookout and to watch fireworks for the close of a summer festival.

I went to Meijer and bought all the ingredients for my salad, plus a bottle of Palmolive Fusion for fast and easy clean-up. Washing dishes is my least favorite chore so the less amount of time spent in the kitchen, the happier I am.

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Spinach Tortellini Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of fresh cheese tortellini – 9 oz.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • juice from one lemon
  • sun-dried tomatoes, chopped – approx. 6-8 oz. jar
  • 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup salami, cut into cups
  • 1 1/2 cup baby spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, cook tortellini according to package directions and set aside in a large bowl to cool.

Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a small bowl to make the dressing and whisk to combine.

Add sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, salami, and baby spinach to pasta, top with dressing and lightly mix until everything is combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve and enjoy!

This recipe is easy enough to make but the sun-dried tomatoes are packed in oil which meant a very messy cutting board.

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Luckily, I had a helper in the kitchen who helped me use the new Palmolive Fusion dish soap to do the dishes.

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The Palmolive Fusion dish soap is formulated with baking soda and lime which made the oily cutting board nice and clean in a short amount of time.

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We also used it to wash the rest of the dishes. The dishes were done in a breeze and we were off to visit with my in-laws and nephew.

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An easy summer salad recipe and a fast clean up in the kitchen gave us more time to visit, eat, and watch the fireworks!

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Have a great day!

  • What’s your favorite easy summer recipe?
  • Have you tried the new Palmolive Fusion dish soap?

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Wisconsin Dells 2016

Good morning I hope you all are having a great weekend!

We just got back from Wisconsin Dells on Friday. We went with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece.

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The kids had fun swimming, mini golfing, rock mining, taking the boat shuttle, and playing in the arcade.

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Danny, Jaden, and my sister-in law, Crystal, had a great time going down the waterslides.

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I don’t like water slides (especially ones where the floor drops out from underneath you) so I was the photographer.

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While we were in The Dells, my niece turned five!

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We celebrated by opening gifts, swimming, going out to dinner, and making s’mores. We made some s’mores with peanut butter cups instead of a chocolate bar. If you never have tried this before, it’s a must. Everything is better with a Reese’s peanut butter cup. :)

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We came home Friday evening and on Saturday, we went to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for my niece’s birthday party.

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Crystal had a cute make-you-own-cupcake station set up for the kids. I had a little fun with Jaden and he might have ended up with frosting on his face.

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But don’t worry, he took me by surprise and got me back. I guess I deserved it. :)

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My grandma, who owns Sweet Temptations Dessert Company, made the most amazing Elsa cake.

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My niece loved it and the cake was delicious.

We had a great time in The Dells and a fun time celebrating my niece’s birthday!

Have a great day!

  • What did you do this weekend?
  • Favorite cake flavor?

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Garage Sales and Taco Pizza

Good morning!

This past weekend, we had a garage sale at my brother and sister-in-law’s house.

Waiting for customers:

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We have a couple vacations coming up so we’re trying to get a little extra cash…and we have a lot of stuff.

My brother and sister-in-law were selling a motorized scooter which thankfully sold.

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The first night we were there, we had a make your own pizza night. My sister-in-law has been making taco pizzas lately and although I was leary to try it, I ended up loving it!! See what happens when you try new things. :)

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We used the Pillsbury refrigerated dough for the crust. The taco pizza had refried beans, Mexican cheese, lettuce, sour cream, and yes those are crushed Doritos on top.

Danny’s pizza had ground beef on it and my brother and sister-in-law made theirs with black beans. I’m not a black bean fan but the pizza was good with refried beans. I’ll definitely be making this at home.

I made the other have of the pizza with my favorite toppings – onion and pineapple. Sometimes I add bacon and I have yet to find someone who loves the bacon, pineapple, onion combo as much as I do.

On Sunday afternoon, my sister-in-law, niece, mom, and I met at a nail salon to get pedicures. My niece’s birthday is tomorrow and she wanted us to get together to get our nails done.

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Working Out

On Monday evening, Danny and I went to the gym. With summer, the kids, and other stuff going on, I took a little break from the gym.

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Sometimes, I think it’s good to give your body a little break. And I often tend to overdo it so this little break was good for me. But I was very happy to get back to the gym!

Danny and I did a leg workout which included:

  • deadlifts
  • split squats on the bench
  • weighted sumo squats
  • calf raises in the Smith machine
  • leg press machine

Danny used 16 45-pound plates on the leg press machine for a total of 720 pounds.

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I used four plates. :)

And finally, I have to share a picture of my tacos from dinner last night.

We found this Mexican restaurant near us which has quickly become my new favorite Mexican restaurant.

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Mexican food is my favorite and I could eat tacos every day!

I hope you all have a great day.

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  • What’s your favorite pizza topping?
  • Favorite leg exercise? (I’m always looking for new ones!)

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Friday Favorites

Good afternoon, friends! I hope you all are having a wonderful Friday!

We are having a garage sale with my brother and sister-in-law this weekend so we’ve been busy going through old stuff all week. It’s amazing how much stuff people accumulate. We have so much stuff to get rid of, it’s ridiculous! But we have two vacations planned this month so the extra money will be nice.

I have a few favorites to share with you today.

First up,

  • Iced Coffee

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Who doesn’t love a good iced coffee in the summer?! Usually I like Starbucks iced coffee but Dunkin Donuts is a close second which is funny because I prefer Dunkin Donuts hot coffee over Starbucks hot coffee.

I get my iced coffee with skim milk and splenda. Jaden got a chocolate milk.

  • Pre-Made Salad

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Pre-packaged salad can be a life saver especially on days like today when I have a million things to do. I love this salad from Meijer that has pecans, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries.

  • Hidden Valley Roasted Garlic Ranch 

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Speaking of salads, I tried this dressing at my in-laws a few weekends ago and fell in love with it. Can you fall in love with a salad dressing? Well, I did. I normally buy the Bolthouse Farms Greek yogurt dressing but this roasted garlic dressing is worth it. I love garlic and I love this dressing. :)

  • Dannon Limited Edition Lemon Meringue Greek Yogurt

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I’m such a sucker for “limited edition” things. But really they’re just saying that so people will feel all special about buying it, right?! Well, this limited edition lemon meringue yogurt is delicious.

Those are my favorites for today! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!

  • Any plans for this weekend?
  • What are your favorite things today?

 

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Partner Cardio HIIT Workout

Good morning!

The other day, Danny and I did a great partner cardio workout at the gym. I love doing these kind of workouts because they’re a great change of pace, challenging, fun, and really get you sweaty!

We pick a set number of exercises – usually about five different exercises. One person starts while the other person is resting. For example, we started with sprints on the track. Danny runs a lap as fast as he can while I wait. As soon as he finishes his lap, I run a lap as fast as I can. We do this 3-4 times before moving on to the next exercise.

So the faster you do your exercise, the less rest time the other person has. :)

We did the following exercises – switching off until the first person finished their exercise.

  • Sprints/laps on the track (3 laps each)
  • Burpees x10 (3 sets)
  • Alternating kettlebell swings x20 (10 each arm) (3 sets)
  • Box jumps x10 (3 sets)
  • Rowing machine ab exercise with plates x10 (3 sets)

It was such a great, hot, and sweaty workout! I started my box jumps on the small box and used the medium box for my last set.

Danny used the tallest box with a medicine ball.

Before I had hip surgery, I tried to jump on that tall box and I couldn’t quite ever make it. It’s a high jump!

For the rowing machine ab exercise (not sure what to call this?!), we put our feet on the seat of the rowing machine and held onto a Bosu.

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Using your core, you slide the seat into towards you bringing your knees towards your chest and keeping your back flat and your hips down. It’s a great exercise!

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Danny used a 25 pound plate on his back and I used a 10 pound plate.

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Other options for this exercise would be to place your hands more in the center of the Bosu rather than on the sides, flipping the Bosu over so the dome side is up, skipping the Bosu altoghther and just keeping your hands on the floor, and using the plate on your back is optional. This is actually the first time we’ve used a plate – definitely makes it more challenging!

Have a great day! Let me know if you try any of these exercises!

  • Favorite exercise to get your heart rate up?
  • Do you ever use a Bosu while working out?

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Father’s Day Fishing Derby 2016

Good afternoon! I hope you all had a great weekend!

Yesterday, we celebrated Father’s Day with Danny and my dad at a local fishing derby. Later in the day, we went to my in-laws for a cookout.

On Saturday, I took Jaden to Michael’s to make a Father’s Day shirt for Danny.

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All we had to do was a buy a t-shirt and the supplies were free to use. Jaden loved making the shirt.

Sunday morning, we met my dad at a local lake for the fishing derby. The park district holds this fishing derby every Father’s Day. We did it four years ago and then again this year.

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They had breakfast set up with bagels, cream cheese, donuts, danish, fruit, juice, coffee, and water.

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We had fun fishing and Jaden tried so hard to catch a fish but unfortunately we didn’t catch any.

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They had trophies for the biggest fish in each age category. We didn’t get a trophy or catch any fish but Danny and my Dad both ended up winning the raffle at the end of the derby!

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Danny won a fishing pole and my dad won a tackle kit.

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It was a fun and hot morning!

After the fishing derby, we went to lunch with my dad and then later in the afternoon, we visited with Danny’s family for a cookout. My sister-in-law and I were twins! :)

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Have a great day!

  • What did you do this weekend?

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Hail Merry Bites Review

I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com), May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own.  

Good morning, friends!

I have a great new product to share with you this morning – Hail Merry Bites! As a Moms Meet Blogger, I jumped at the chance to try out these little bite-sized healthy treats.

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These are the perfect healthy treat and they’re made with Certified C.L.E.A.N ingredients and healthy fats, including organic virgin coconut oil and sweet almond flour.

I tried my first package with some strawberries as an afternoon snack. Each serving size is two bites.

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So delicious!

They can be kept in the refrigerator but taste best at room temperature. Hail Merry Bites are dehydrated at low temperatures which protects the delicate raw fats in the coconut oil and almond flour. This helps maintain freshness and leaves the dough super moist and delicious. And who doesn’t love a soft cookie dough bite?!

These cookies are fresh unlike other self stable cookies. And actually, I enjoyed the bites at room temperature and cold straight out of the fridge.

Hail Merry Bites come in six delicious flavors – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Caramel Sea Salt, Salted Brownie, Pure Vanilla Macaroon, Lemon Macaroon, and Dark Chocolate Macaroon.

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It’s probably no surprise that my favorite flavor was the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. I love that I can feel good about eating these bites because they’re certified gluten-free, certified kosher, dairy-free, grain-free, peanut-free, Paleo friendly, and non-GMO certified.

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Jaden tried out the cookie dough flavor and loved them. And I felt good about him eating a healthy treat.

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My niece loved them too!

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Hail Merry Bites are usually around $3.99 for a 3.5 ounce package and can be found in your grocer’s refrigerated section.

Besides the delicious Merry Bites, Hail Merry also sells Miracle Tarts and Mini Miracle Tarts. Both are delicious almond flour shortbread cookie crusts filled with coconut oil-based ganache in a variety on flavors including Chocolate Almond Butter, Meyer Lemon, and Coconut Vanilla Creme.

Overall, I loved the Hail Merry bites. They are perfect as a snack or treat. They’re easy to take on the go. They taste amazing and I can feel good about eating them. :)

You can learn more about Hail Merry products on their TwitterInstagram, and Facebook pages.

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Weekend, Workouts, and Walks

Good afternoon! I hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday evening, Danny and I went to the gym and did a shoulder workout. Our workout included:

  • shoulder press machine
  • plate front raises
  • upright rows
  • bent arm lateral raises

We also did our own separate ab workouts. My ab exercises included:

  • Russian twists with medicine ball
  • plank shoulder touch
  • flutter kicks

I did the ab exercises as a circuit and repeated it three times.

Saturday night, we went to a cookout at my brother and sister-in-law’s and then went out to brunch on Sunday morning.

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The weather was so nice on Sunday so we went to a nearby forest preserve.

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We walked for awhile around the trail and then Baylee cooled off in the water.

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Baylee loves the water – lakes, the hose, the bathtub. She loves it all!

May was a month full of birthdays, celebrations, and lots of eating and drinking. I’m really trying to get back on track with my eating and macros so Danny grilled some chicken and asparagus for the week last night.

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It’s easier to eat a healthy meal when it’s already prepped. :)

For breakfast this morning, I had egg whites with onions, asparagus, and Laughing Cow cheese. I also had  a pluot (so good!) and Applegate bacon.

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Yum!

We still have a few celebrations this month including my brother’s birthday, Danny’s birthday, my mom’s birthday, and Father’s Day. May and June are crazy months in my family!

Danny and I are going to the gym tonight for a back and biceps workout. Have a great day!!

  • How was your weekend?
  • Favorite breakfast?

 

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