Category Archives: Family Fun

Valentine’s Day Food and Treats

Disclaimer: I received the PRE 100% grass fed beef at no charge for part of a Valentine’s Day post. As usual, I only work with companies whose products I stand behind. All opinions are 100% my own…and Danny and Jacob’s. :)


I have a fun post for you guys today – Valentine’s Day food and treats! I have always said that I believe Valentine’s Day is for celebrating all those in your life that you love – your spouse, significant other, parents, grandparents, kids, neighbor, etc.

I have a few fun Valentine’s Day food ideas that you can give to others as a gift, cook for those you love, or even cook together with someone. My little helper for a lot of these recipes was my son Jaden.


He absolutely loves to cook and bake.

Heart Shaped Pancakes

First up, is a super easy breakfast idea – heart shaped pancakes!


These pancakes are super easy to make. All you need to do is make pancake batter or use a pre-mixed batter and put it into a Ziploc bag. Push all the batter into the corner of the bag and cut off just the very tip of the bag.

On a hot pan, use the batter in the Ziploc bag to make a heart shape and fill it in. Cook a few minutes on both sides and you have a cute heart shaped pancakes. This is great for kids but really who can resist a heart-shaped pancake?!

  • PRE 100% Grass Fed Beef

Steak is always a great gift! Danny and Jacob love steak and when PRE Brands contacted me about their 100% grass fed beef I was so excited to have Danny and Jacob try it out! It would make a great Valentine’s Day dinner or just a great gift in general.


Here are some of the things I liked about the PRE beef:

  • the whole package is transparent so you can see both sides of the meat. Often with cuts of meat in the grocery store, you can only see one side of the meat. PRE has a 360 degree view so you know exactly what you’re getting.
  • it’s vacuum sealed which leads to a consistent quality and temperature, and a long shelf life.
  • it’s sourced from the top 10% most trustworthy sources in the world,making it extra fresh and tasty
  • PRE Brands uses a trademarked “15-point Obsessive Pick Process,” putting every single cut under a microscope, resulting in the very best quality and taste.


(Baylee really really wanted that ground beef!)

While I don’t eat beef myself, I do believe in feeding my family quality, fresh, trustworthy food and PRE lives up to that. And Danny and Jacob can vouch for the taste – they both loved it!

I used a grill pan on the stove to cook the steaks medium-rare and the boys feasted on them with mashed potatoes. They both gave them two thumbs up!

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  • Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies


This was my first time ever making brownies from scratch and they turned out delicious! I found a recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction, and Jaden and I got to work making them! (Sally’s Baking Addiction has the best dessert recipes I have ever tried!)

I was worried at first that making brownies from scratch would be hard to make but they were fairly easy. You just have to make sure that measure ingredients perfectly when baking – that’s why I always measure ingredients with my food scale.

We made the brownies and then made the cream cheese topping. We swirled them together for some delicious red velvet cheesecake brownies. Just make sure that you don’t over swirl!



  • Chocolate Chip Cookies

Finally, we baked chocolate chip cookies because they are delicious and who wouldn’t love receiving fresh baked chocolate chip cookies?! (And yes, it’s another recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction).


These cookies are perfectly soft and melt in your mouth. Just to be sure not to overbake them!


You could add Valentine’s Day sprinkles to the cookies batter or just use them to decorate the plate!

  • What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?
  • Do you have any Valentine’s Day food or treat recipes to share?


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Filed under Breakfast, Dinner, Family Fun, Fun, Product Review, Recipes

The Start of a New Year

Good morning! It’s Monday and life is back to normal after all the holiday fun!

I feel like I haven’t been around in forever – we’ve been so busy with everything surrounding the holidays. On New Year’s Eve, we went with my family to a restaurant called Rock Bottom. Afterwards, we went to my brother and sister-in-law’s house to play some games and ring in the new year!

On New Year’s Day, we celebrated Christmas with my in-laws.


Danny’s poor mom just recently broke her foot. :(

My nephew come home from the Navy on a surprise visit a short time before Christmas so it was nice to have him home to celebrate the holidays.


My in-laws know us too well – wine, protein powder, and pre-workout.


What more could a girl ask for?!

Now that the new year has started and the holidays are over, I look forward to getting back on track with healthy eating. I overindulged quite a bit over the holidays and look forward to eating more normally. Eating better definitely makes me feels better physically and mentally as well as bringing my energy levels up.

My plan is to stick to counting my macros (carbs/fats/and proteins) on a daily basis. I have had good luck with this diet method in the past and it works well for me. I am able to get in all the healthy foods I need while still enjoying a treat here and there.

My biggest goal for the new year is to stick with healthy eating and macro counting on the weekends. This has always been an ongoing issue for me – hopefully, I’ll stay on better track this year!

Thankfully, my workouts have stayed on track. For me, working out is the easy part and while the nutrition is what I struggle with.

Since Danny had the week off, we were able to get in lots of workouts together at the gym.



 I still love my Polar A300!

My plan for my workouts is to strength train 5 days a week, with three days of 20-30 minute HIIT sessions, and possibly start adding some yoga into my workout plan.

I find it helpful to use my Erin Condren planner to help plan my day and workouts.


In puppy news, Baylee is growing so fast! She’s getting big but not quite big enough to pull Jacob around in his sled like she’s trying to do! :)


Have a wonderful Monday!

  • What are your goals for the new year?
  • What’s harder for you – exercise or nutrition?

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Filed under Christmas, Family Fun, Fitness

Christmas 2015

Good morning – I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, we went to my grandparent’s house and exchanged our homemade gifts. I made a gift for my cousin’s girlfriend, Sarah. I saw these cute wineglass candle holders on Pinterest and had to make them.



I loved how they turned out!

They were fairly easy to make. I bought wineglasses and Danny helped me spray paint them with glitter spray paint from Joanne Fabrics.



Then, I just decorated them with craft supplies from Michaels and Joanne Fabrics. I added two candles and they were done. :)


My sister-in-law, Crystal, picked Danny and she made him an awesome shadow box with his bib and medal from the Chicago marathon.


I loved how it turned out – she did such a great job!

My cousin, Michele, had me for the homemade gift exchange and she made me a cute decorated wine bottle, a butterfly tray, candles, body scrub, and lip gloss! It was all amazing!



Danny had my cousin’s boyfriend, Ben, and made him a beer “cake” out of Angry Orchard apple cider.

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On Christmas morning, the kids woke up early to open presents that Santa left them.


They had a fun time opening presents and seeing what Santa brought.


Danny’s parents stopped by for a little bit in the early afternoon to visit. We get together with Danny’s parents and brothers next week to celebrate Christmas.

Then we headed to my mom’s house for Christmas dinner. Baylee came with us and she was pooped after two days of excitement.



Today, we celebrate Christmas with my dad and stepmom and family.

Have a great day!

  • How was your holiday?
  • Do you ever make homemade gifts
  • Any plans for today?





Filed under Christmas, Family Fun

Christmas Eve 2015

Merry Christmas Eve! I can’t believe that Christmas is tomorrow – the weather definitely doesn’t feel like it. Yesterday, it was near 60 degrees and today it’s near 40 degrees. I don’t remember the weather ever being this nice in Illinois around Christmas.

Not that I’m complaining – I don’t like the cold but I don’t mind some fluffy white snow on Christmas. :)

I’ve been busy shopping and wrapping, working out, baking, and keeping up with an almost 4 month old puppy.


She looks innocent but she’s feisty!

Danny and I have also been working on making homemade Christmas gifts. On Christmas Eve, we do a secret santa/homemade gift exchange with my family.

We all secretly pick a name and then make that person a gift. I was really happy with how my gift turned out this year and I can’t wait to show you guys!

I’ve also been baking a lot of cookies for family, friends, and Santa.


(Chocolate Chip Cookies // Loaded Oatmeal Cookies)

All the cookies I made were from Sally’s Baking Addiction because she has the best cookie recipes. Ever.

I also tried out a new cookie recipe – Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies. These are the cookies that we’re leaving for Santa.


They are fabulous! And I’ve been eating more cookies than I care to admit.

I’ve also been working out. Yesterday, I met my friends at the gym to take the WERQ class.


WERQ is a 60 minute fun cardio dance class. I’m not very coordinated when it comes to dancing but it is a fun workout!

Danny had the day off today so we worked out together this morning.


We did back and biceps and then did a little bit of fun cardio kickboxing at the end of our workout.

This evening we’re going to my grandparent’s house and then Santa comes tonight! Have a wonderful holiday!!

  • What are you doing today?
  • What’s your favorite Christmas movie?



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Filed under Christmas, Family Fun, Fitness

Glutes, Legs, Shoulders, and Biceps

Good afternoon, friends! How are you doing?

I’ve been busy working, working out, and getting ready for Christmas!

Danny and I worked out on both Saturday and Sunday together at the gym. On Saturday, we did a leg/glute workout.


Some of the exercises we did included:

  • deadlifts (my favorite!)
  • leg press machine
  • goblet squats
  • split squats
  • weighted hip thrusts (another favorite!)

We also did a HIIT workout on the Stairmaster and I was dead by the end! I stepped at level 20 for one minute then I recovered at level 5 for two minutes. I did that for a total of 7 times. Even though the workout was only 21 minutes, it was killer!


On Saturday night, my mom watched the kids for a few hours while Danny and I went out to dinner.

From gym date to dinner date :)


We went to Maggiano’s, an Italian restaurant, and then stopped at Woodfield Mall.

On Sunday, we were back at the gym to work shoulders and biceps.


Some of the exercises we did included:

  • preacher curls
  • lateral raises
  • cable bicep curls
  • upright rows
  • cable hammer curls
  • plate front raises


It was another good workout!

Yesterday, I did a little bit of Christmas shopping and then I spent a long time wrapping presents.


I don’t mind shopping but wrapping isn’t my favorite!

I also find myself wishing for snow. Not because I love snow (because I don’t) but so the ground in our backyard will freeze! We have been having a warm December in Chicagoland so far and our backyard is a giant mudpit!

Of course, Baylee has to walk in all the water she can find so I have to put her in the bathtub to rinse her off when she comes back inside!


Have a great day!

  • Are you ready for Christmas?
  • Any snow in your area?


Filed under Dinner, Family Fun, Fitness

Monday Randomness

Hello friends!

Yesterday, we got our Christmas tree!


We didn’t end up cutting one down this year so we just went to Menard’s and bought a small pre-cut tree.

It’s a little smaller than we’re used to but it was a lot cheaper and a good size for our living room especially when all the new puppy wants to do is eat it and knock it over!


We had fun decorating the tree and I tried out a new cookie recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction blog.


I made her Funfetti Cookies Supreme which are frosted sugar cookies.

I didn’t add sprinkles to the cookie dough mix. I just let the kids decorate them after they were frosted.


It was my first time making frosting from scratch and I couldn’t believe how easy it was! These cookies were soft baked and so good.

Danny also put up some more Christmas decorations yesterday. I was very excited about a light-up deer that I bought on Black Friday…until Danny actually put it up. It was tiny!! Baylee was bigger than the deer!!

I guess I didn’t read the box very good and thought it was a larger light-up deer. Nope. It was only 24 inches tall.




I also planned out my week using my Erin Condren planner. I usually write everything out on Sunday night and add stuff as need throughout the week.


If you’re interested, you can save $10 on your first order with my coupon code:

This morning I went back to the gym. I was so happy to get back after a week of eating too much and not working out enough! Back on track!

Have a great day!!

  • What did you do over the weekend?
  • Did you put up a Christmas tree yet?



Filed under Family Fun, Recipes

Weekend Pictures

Our weekend in pictures.





Everybody loves the puppy:



Christmas tree farm where we didn’t end up getting a Christmas tree…but had fun anyway:



Baylee loved her sweater:


Now we are off to actually buy a Christmas tree! Enjoy your Sunday!

  • How was your Thanksgiving?
  • What did you do this weekend?

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!


First, I have to share some pictures of our new puppy, Baylee! Jaden took this picture with his camera and I think it’s so adorable!



Jaden just loves her. :) Having  puppy is almost like have a baby – she pees whenever she wants, she chews everything, she wakes up in the middle of the night, she wants lots of attention. But she’s also so cute and so much fun.

Danny and I started our morning with a workout at the gym. We got in a good full body circuit workout and then I came home to bake and cook!


We are going to my grandparent’s house today to celebrate Thanksgiving and tomorrow I cook dinner to celebrate Thanksgiving with my mom. I baked cookies for the kid’s room at the gym, the fitness desk at the gym, and for dessert tomorrow.

I made the Reese’s butterscotch cookies from Sally’s Baking addiction that I always make.


I also made chocolate chunk cookies.


I’m bringing carrots for dinner today and made an extra batch for dinner tomorrow.


These carrots are so good and easy to make! I buy the carrots julienned and add butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.

Anyone going shopping tonight/tomorrow? I won’t go shopping today on Thanksgiving but Jaden already talked me into taking him to Petsmart bright and early tomorrow so he can get some stuff for Baylee!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

  • Are you cooking today?
  • Favorite Thanksgiving food?
  • Are you going Black Friday shopping?


Filed under Dinner, Family Fun, Fitness

A Wedding and A Puppy!

Hello, friends! What a crazy awesome weekend it’s been! On Friday night, we got the biggest November snowstorm in Chicagoland in 120 years.



We also attended my cousin’s wedding on Friday night and luckily we made it to the hotel before the snowstorm started. The front desk had hangover kits waiting for us when we checked in which I thought was such a great idea.


The hangover kit included a bottle of water, Tylenol, crackers, band-aids, and candy.

Danny and I:


The wedding was so much fun. The food was better than typical wedding food – salad, mostaccioli, Italian beef sandwiches, pizza. Yeah, I ate a lot.

My cousin in the middle was the bride. Her and her husband got married in Vegas so the reception was all Vegas themed.


The best part was that there wasn’t a wedding cake. Yes, I was happy there wasn’t a wedding cake. Because there was a donut table.


Donuts are a billion times better than cake. I have a strong love for donuts.

My stepmom and dad.


My stepmom just got her hair cut and I love it. I kind of want the same haircut.

We had so much fun at the wedding and I’m glad we ended up getting a hotel room because there was so much snow!

We left the hotel on Saturday morning and stopped at Danny’s parent’s house to pick up the kids.

When we got home, we had an early Christmas present delivered!!!


A puppy named Baylee!! Isn’t she adorable?!

Danny and I have thought about getting a dog for a long time and have been looking at adoption shelters for the past few months. Jaden has been wanting a dog forever and ever and even made a pretend dog out of a cardboard box.


We found Baylee at the Fetching Tails Foundation through the PetFinder website. We filled out an application and I thought we’d have to wait awhile before hearing back but we heard back the same day. The lady who fosters the puppies asked when we could come meet her and we went during Danny’s lunch break the next day. We originally wanted to wait until the weekend but the lady said the puppy had a lot of applications on her and probably would be adopted by the weekend.

Baylee is a lab/retriever mix and has seven brothers and sisters. She is only 11 weeks old. The puppies were born under a porch in Mississippi and just left there, uncared for by the family that owned the dog. The puppies got a skin infection from being abandoned but luckily it was treated and they are all fine!

The Fetching Tails Foundation took the puppies back to Illinois to foster with the deal that the family would spay their dog so this wouldn’t happen again.

We went to meet Baylee and she was the sweetest puppy in the world and we knew immediately that she would fit into our family. We wanted to give the kids a puppy for Christmas but this was happening a lot faster than we thought so we just decided to make Baylee an early Christmas present.

Our application was picked out of all the others because I am home a good portion of the day and puppies need lots of attention and to go outside a lot. I work 5 hours on Wednesday and Fridays which is the longest stretch of time that I’m gone but Danny comes home for lunch daily so Baylee won’t be home alone too long.

The lady from Fetching Tails said that she needed to do a home visit and meet the kids. We set it up for Saturday afternoon. She said that as long as everything went good she could leave Baylee with us on Saturday!

We told the kids that the post office called and said they got an early Christmas present for the kids that had to be delivered so it wouldn’t sit at the post office. Jaden waited anxiously for the delivery. I was so excited to see his reaction because he has been dying for a puppy.


When the lady arrived with the puppy wrapped in a blanket and a Petco bag, Jaden was so confused. He thought whatever the lady had in the bag was for him and Jacob and didn’t realize that the puppy was the delivery! I finally had to ask him what the lady was holding. He said a puppy. And I said yes, a puppy that’s going to live with us!

Once it finally dawned on him what was happening, he was so excited!! Jacob was just as excited too!

So, we are now the proud owners of a puppy named Baylee. :)



Puppies are definitely a lot of work and so far everything is going good. She has had a few accidents but we have puppy training pads and we bring her outside often.


One of the requirements from Fetching Tails is that we sign her up for puppy training classes. We have already spoke to the puppy training place and she will start classes when she is 5 months old in February. She will also get spayed in February.

We are crate training her and my brother-in-law’s mother-in-law was nice enough to borrow us a crate, toys, food bowls, and a puppy harness.


Baylee likes her crate. She naps in it and sleeps in it at night. We currently leave it open at the beginning of the night and she sleeps about half the night and then gets up to go potty and play a little bit before going back to sleep. Having a puppy is a lot like having a baby!

She loves to bite and chew so we have been working on that and have lots of chew toys for her.

We are so happy to have a dog in the house again! And the kids were so happy for their early Christmas present!


Have a great day!!

  • Do you have any pets?



Filed under Christmas, Family Fun

Family Fun and Workouts

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

On Friday night, I went with my grandma, aunt, and sister-in-law to a byow (bring your own wine :) ) dinner and craft show.


It was a fun girl’s night and I even got to paint a cute mason jar. That’s about the extent of my painting skills. Those are supposed to be snowflakes that I painted on there…

On Saturday, both the kids had doctor’s appointments and I got my first peppermint mocha of the season. Jaden got a kid’s hot cocoa with soy milk and at kid’s temperature. Such a Starbucks connoisseur.


I like the peppermint mocha but I’m not a huge fan of mocha coffee so it’s not my favorite but I do enjoy it every once in awhile.

On Sunday morning, Danny and I went to the gym. We did a glute and shoulder workout.


Our workout included:

  • deadlifts
  • split squats
  • reverse lunges
  • hip thrusts on the bench
  • shoulder presses
  • bent arm lateral raises
  • cable front raises

The weather was really nice yesterday so Danny started putting up the Christmas decorations.


It’s always better to put them up when it’s nice outside rather than when it’s freezing and snowing! And I heard we’re supposed to get some snow this weekend!

This morning, I went to the gym and did a quick cardio workout before running some errands. Post workout, I had a protein shake.


Always trying to get that protein in!

Have a great day!

  • Are you creative or artistic? 
  • What did you do this weekend?


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Filed under Family Fun, Fitness, Working Out