end of summer weekend

…And just like that, summer is coming to an end!  So, not officially, but for me as school starts back again soon,my summer is coming to an end.  Teacher meetings start this week (why so soon?!?!) and kiddos come next week.  That made this the end of summer weekend – good thing it was a fun one!

Friday morning started with a three mile run.

run selfie

Followed by a selfie.  I was smiling in the picture, but it was a tough run.

Saturday morning also included a run, this time around the lake…

run lake

…while somebody slept for the majority of the time!

He was probably tired from all the work he did earlier…

chair

Busy baby!

Linking up with Katie and Erin!

Saturday night was a night out at the baseball game.

cards game

Cardinals didn’t bring home a winner, but it was fun nonetheless.

Sunday was a very busy day.  It started off with a visit from my friend Diana and her baby Emily who live in the neighborhood.  Sweet babies.

emily july15

Then we headed to my parents’ for breakfast as our family friend was in town (Hi Howard!).  Straight from there, we went to a first birthday party.  William took a short nap when we came home, and we got ready for the pool.  We spent a solid three hours there.  William LOVES the water.  He took one short snack break, rocked his Babiators, and ate an Earth’s Best pouch.  Back in the water for the little fish!

babiators pool

He was exhausted by the time we got home, so I quickly fed him dinner, bathed him, and into bed he went!  Now I’m off to enjoy our last few days of summer…

What did you do this weekend?

A New Appreciation for the Outdoors

I’ve always loved the outdoors.  When I was younger, a great majority of my time was spent outside.  We walked to and from school, came home and had a snack, went outside to play until dinnertime.  My family used to go camping every summer.  Now, as an adult, I still love being outdoors.  It centers me.  It relaxes me.  It rejuvenates me.

William has also always enjoyed the outdoors, but I think our Colorado vacation really sealed the deal.  He’s learning to appreciate the outdoors and nature now that he is getting a little older.  One of my favorite pictures from our trip:

smelling flowers

Smelling the flowers.  Whenever he sees flowers now, he has to smell them.  It’s the cutest thing ever.  After he smells them, he proceeds to pick them and rip off every single petal, but it’s still adorable.  Being outside keeps him entertained forever!

I’m not going to lie, I’m usually much more of a beach person.  But I didn’t get sick of these mountains or beautiful views once while on vacation.

colorado mountains

How could you?  Gorgeous!

I know we got back in town over a week ago, but I’m going to share a few more snapshots from Colorado that haven’t yet made their appearance on the blog.  Plus, it lets me relive a little bit of our vacation.

Like these two smiling babes:

aud colorado morning

It’s never too early to go outside, jammies and all.  Good thing William’s babysitter was willing to do anything and everything for him! (Thanks, Audrey!)

I think William misses waking up in the same house as his cousins…

jacob reading colorado

They literally took care of him.  Jacob would read and Audrey would do everything else.

But William always makes time to snuggle his momma…

july15

Cutest little smile I ever did see!

More adventures in the town of Durango:

big bear

Big bear, little bear.

My adventurous little baby… Not scared of anything!

adventurous

Flexible, too! 😉 He wanted those rocks in the water so bad!

One morning while my parents watched Audrey and William, the rest of us went for a white water rafting adventure.

white water rafting

It was a pretty calm trip with not a lot of paddling as our guide did most of the work.  It was still fun to be on the river though!  The kids jumped in which was impressive considering the water was 45 degrees!  Brave little ones!

And then all of a sudden our adventures in Colorado came to an end. We boarded a tiny plane, and headed back to St. Louis (well, Denver first).

mom airplane

‘Til next time, Colorado!

And just in case you missed the other posts from our summer vacation:

Have you ever been to Colorado?

Why Are Eggs Healthy + 30 Egg Recipes

I. LOVE. EGGS.  Simply put.  For good reason, too.  Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse, can be eaten at any time of day as a meal, snack, pre/post workout, are incredibly versatile, and are delicious!  When my refrigerator is bare, you can bet I at least have eggs in there.  Not only that, William, my dear fifteen month old super picky eater, LOVES eggs (cooked in coconut oil!), so I feel good that, even though he doesn’t eat a ton of different foods, he’s getting the protein, nutrition, and benefits from eggs.

But guess what?  Unfortunately, all eggs are not created equal.  I’ve been learning how and why Eggland’s Best eggs are better than other eggs.  For a food that I (and William) eat on an almost-daily basis, you better believe I want the best.  That’s Eggland’s Best.

Not only do Eggland’s Best eggs have more vitamins in them, but they stay fresher than ordinary eggs, as well.  The secret behind creating the Eggland’s Best egg is their special, wholesome, all-vegetarian hen feed consisting of healthy grains, canola oil, and a supplement of rice bran, alfalfa, sea kelp, and Vitamin E.  The Eggland’s Best hen feed contains no animal by-products and no recycled or processed foods. Eggland’s Best never uses hormones, steroids, or antibiotics of any kind.

So why are Eggland’s Best eggs the BEST eggs?why are eggland's best eggs the best eggs

Here are the stats and why they’re important:

  • Stays fresher longer: Based on an independent study, Eggland’s Best eggs were shown to maintain freshness longer than ordinary eggs. To ensure they remain the leader in nutrition and freshness, Eggland’s Best conducts more than 30,000 tests a year & created a 27 points of quality and freshness program.
  • 10X more Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to protect body cells and tissues in the heart, skin, lungs, joints, or elsewhere in the body.
  • 25% less Saturated Fat: Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet is recommended for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and cardiovascular functions.
  • More than DOUBLE the Omega-3s: Omega-3s are believed to be beneficial for heart health, brain and eye function, infant development, and alleviating hypertension.
  • 4X more Vitamin D: Vitamin D aids in the body’s absorption of calcium, which is essential in helping to form and maintain strong bones and muscle strength.
  • 3X more Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is important for healthy protein metabolism, energy production, and cognitive, cardiovascular, and nervous system health.
  • 38% more Lutein: Lutein is an antioxidant that helps maintain healthy vision, overall eye health, and may slow the effects of age-related macular degeneration.
  • A GOOD source of Vitamin B2: Vitamin B2, also known as Riboflavin, plays an important role in the production of energy by helping convert carbohydrates into sugar.
  • A GOOD source of Vitamin B5: Vitamin B5 is a water-soluble vitamin essential for our bodies to synthesize and metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Information from Eggland’s Best superior nutrition page.

Do you ever get bored from eating eggs? (WHAT?! How could you?! There are a million different ways to cook ’em!)  Here are 30 delicious egg recipes from my fellow FitFluential Ambassadors that are sure to mix up your usual routine:

30 egg recipes nutritional benefits

For even MORE recipes, check out Eggland’s Best eCookbook!

Whew!  The list could have gone on forever, but I thought 30 was a good number to stop at.  I was going to organize the recipes by meal, but really, you can eat eggs any time of the day!  Eggs are my go-to for every meal: breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner.  And like I said before, William loves his eggs, too!  They make him a happy, healthy baby (fine, toddler!).

eating eggs

What’s your favorite way to eat eggs?

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Eggland’s Best.

Café de Paris Dip Recipe

You know me when it comes to recipes… they must be easy.  Well, I’ve got a new one for you that passes my “easy to make” test.  It’s the Café de Paris Dip Recipe.  It’s an extremely flavorful, creamy, yet healthy dip that is delicious with raw vegetables, white meat, or as a salad dressing.

cafe de paris diprecipe

Through my partnership with SimpleRecipes.club, I received two products from Vom Fass that pair perfectly together: Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Café de Paris Dip Spice Blend.  The olive oil came in a funky shaped bottle which was unique and fun.  The spice blend had a recipe on the jar which is what I made.  It’s super simple, but crazy flavorful.  The flavors in the spice blend are garlic, onion, turmeric, parsnip, coriander, cumin, chillies, fenugreek seeds, paprika, pepper, allspices, mustard speeds, ginger, fennel, cardamom, and sea salt.

cafe de paris recipe

Café de Paris Dip Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tsp Café de Paris Dip spice blend
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp VOM FASS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt

Directions:

  1. Mix Café de Paris Dip spice blend with water and let stand for three minutes.
  2. Add olive oil and Greek yogurt.  Stir.
  3. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

cafe de paris dip recipe

What is your favorite dip?

What to Put in Your Diaper Bag

I like seeing what other people carry in their bags.  Whether it’s their purse, their gym bag, or their diaper bag, I think it’s interesting to see what other women feel they “must have.”  (Maybe I’m nosy?)  Plus, magazines always do sneak peeks of celebrities’ bags which means people definitely find it interesting, right?  Either way, today I’m sharing my own version of What to Put in Your Diaper Bag.

Baby William (should I start calling him toddler William? noooooo!) is 15 months old.  That’s important because the contents of my diaper bag have definitely changed since he was a newborn.  In retrospect, this would have been a fun post series to do every few months or so and see how it changed, but clearly I missed that boat.

Diaper bags can get really heavy really fast.  All moms know that.  I’m an over-packer by nature.  My suitcase is always over the 50 pound limit.  I constantly need to reorganize my bags.  But now I’m confident that I’ve narrowed down my diaper bag just to the essentials.  What you need when you go out with your baby (or 15 month old toddler who you refuse to believe is really a toddler) is listed below:

what to put in diaper bag

Side note: I love the looks of this Kate Spade diaper bag that my sister Stephanie got me when I was pregnant.  However, to be completely honest, I don’t love the actual diaper bag so much.  It doesn’t have a long shoulder strap.  Kate Spade diaper bags now have the “stroller clips” to make it easy to attach to strollers, but I think a shoulder strap would be more useful.  Plus, the bag seems big, bulky, and gets filled quickly… despite my best efforts to only care the bare minimum.

Alright, let’s get started.

Diaper Changing Essentials

diapers bag

  • Changing Pad:  If I have to use this, I wipe it down when I get home because it totally grosses me out.
  • Diapers:  Obviously.  I usually carry at least six which I know is overkill, but I never want to be without a diaper!
  • Wipes: I used to only use Water Wipes, but now use Water Wipes or Huggies.  Huggies are easier to find in stores, and I prefer the “natural” version.  Wipes are also perfect for sticky hands and dirty surfaces.
  • Disposable Diaper Bags: For the really gross diapers or if I can’t throw it out right away.  These also work for dirty outfits.  I used to carry the whole box of these, but that’s silly.  Now I just keep a few and refill my bag as needed.

Odds & Ends

what's in my dipaer bag

  • Babiators: You never know when you’ll need some sunnies!
  • Wubbanub: I don’t like William to have his binky in his mouth at all times, but when he needs it for comfort, I give it to him.  Wubbanubs are the only binkines he will take!  He loves his giraffe and elephant!
  • Burp Cloth / Bib: William rarely leaves bibs on anymore, but this aden + anais burp cloth can double as both since it has a little snap.  Though truthfully, I use it more often as either a “lovey” for William to hold on to (he’s not attached to a particular “lovey,” just his Wubbanub), or to help cover me if I need to nurse William in public.  I’ve never used or liked a true nursing cover, so this is lightweight and perfect.  It also eliminates the need for carrying a burp cloth, bib, AND nursing clover.  And it’s cute.
  • Squeeze Book: (I didn’t know what else to call it.)  A few toys are essential.  I love this one because it has a handle for easy gripping, bright-colored pictures, and it even squeaks.  William is amused.  Good for the car, too.
  • Lift the Flap Book:  Books are such a great source of entertainment!  I want William to grow up learning to be entertained by books (instead of technology).  That is probably the teacher in me.  My friend got William this book from the dollar bin at Target!  He loves it!
  • Extra Onesie: Because babies are always messy or having blowouts… When he was much younger, I would have a couple extra.  He seems to be cleaner now…

Teethers

teethers diaper bag

It seems as though William is always teething, so teethers are forever necessary.

  • Sophie Teether: The perfect travel teether, not as big as the full size Sophie.
  • Nuby Safari Loop: I bought this as a new toy for our Arizona trip and William loves it!  It’s fun to go through the animals and make noises, plus there are several different textures for him to hold, grab, and teeth on.
  • Zoli Teether Stick:  Ok truth: I bought this because William loves finding and chewing on Zoey’s rawhides.  Since that’s disgusting, I wanted to find him a stick-like teether.  He likes this!
  • Econobum Bag: This was a gift from a friend and was intended to be used as a reusable sack for dirty clothes, but I prefer it to keep William’s teethers and toys clean in this bag.  It was especially perfect while traveling to keep all his toys together!

Sippy Cup

nuby sippy cup

  • Nuby Flip n Sip with 360 Weighted Straw Cup: I received this as a Nuby Parent Blogger, but it’s PERFECT for the diaper bag!  It has a flip top which keeps the straw clean.  It doesn’t spill and it’s BPA-free.  The weight at the bottom of the straw is really cool.  It allows William to drink from any angle and reach the water even when there’s not much left.  This was especially clutch when William was learning to use sippy cups as he would always tilt the cup forward to him to try to take a drink.  Obviously, with a straw you don’t do that, so this cup was a good learning cup.

Non Toxic Essentials for Momma & Baby

nontoxic products in diaper bag for momma and baby

As you know, I’m a consultant for Ava Anderson Non Toxic.  (Email me for free shipping.)  Since my diaper bag doubles as my purse most days, I keep a few of my favorite non toxic products with us at all times.

  • Diaper Cream:  By far, the absolute best diaper cream ever.  It can double as lotion when needed!
  • Sunscreen:  Ava Anderson’s Non Toxic sunscreen always makes the “top ten” or whatever lists.  There are too many lists of sunscreens to avoid.  You’re safe with this one and it doesn’t make your kiddo stink like sunscreen!
  • Lip Gloss:  Because sometimes momma needs a little color on her lips!
  • Boo Boo Stick: One of my FAVORITE Ava Anderson products.  Perfect for minor scrapes, burns, or bug bites – for babies, toddlers, kids, and adults alike!  When we’re out and about, I put it on William’s little patches of eczema.  My niece Audrey uses it whenever she has a “boo boo.”  Everyone loves it!
  • Perfume:  Because nobody likes the smell of dried milk…
  • Lip Balm:  Keep those lips hydrated!

Snacks

snacks

NOBODY likes to be hungry!  This goes for babies and toddlers, too!  Always keep a couple of snacks stashed away for emergency situations!

  • Earth’s Best Pouches: William doesn’t get pouches often, but when he does, they are organic and fruits and vegetables only.  No other nonsense.
  • Puffs: I store puffs in a formula container.  I like them better than those toddler bowls where they get out the snack themselves because this is completely sealed.  William loves to play with the actual container and open and close it, so this serves as a snack and a toy!
  • Blue Diamond Almonds: Momma needs snacks, too!  Blue Diamond almonds come in the best flavors, the container is compact for a diaper bag, and the almonds pack a nice protein punch!
  • Baby Mum Mums: Another snack option for William.

Let’s go back to these Blue Diamond almonds for a minute.  William and I have had several adventures throughout the summer.  One of our favorites is definitely the park.  I got hungry and needed a snack at our last visit, so I whipped out my handy dandy package of almonds.  Problem solved, hunger satiated!

blue diamond almonds

Chasing a baby toddler around the playground can be exhausting!  Fuel is necessary!

park 715

Mommas: What are the essential items you keep in your diaper bag?

This “Flavor Your Adventure” post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. For more snack ideas to “Flavor Your Adventure” this summer, visit Blue Diamond Almonds on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Tour de Kirkwood Sprint Triathlon 2015

I’ve done lots of races.  Tons of 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, mud runs, and even one sprint triathlon in the past.  None were as difficult as the Tour de Kirkwood Sprint Triathlon 2015 that I completed yesterday!  The first time I did this same sprint triathlon was before William was here, so I had all the time in the world to train, and I did.  I worked out six or seven times a week.  Now?  Not so much.  I trained when I could, but in reality, I only got in a few swims, two long bike rides, and several runs.  When people asked how I planned on doing the triathlon without training, I kept saying how short the distances were and I’d be fine.  (400 yard swim, 10 mile bike ride, and 3 mile run)  After all, I ran an entire half marathon without running more than six miles prior.  I’d be fine.

When I woke up at five o’clock in the morning, it was thunderstorming.  Grrrreat.  I did my usual routine to get ready and left my parents’ house (they were watching William) by 6:15.  We were sent an email saying the event was still on, but they would make a decision about the bike at 7:00.  The thunder and lightning stopped, but the rain continued.  The race was postponed til 8:00 (rather than 7:30), but other than that, it was on.

triathlon

The “before” picture.  When I was still smiling.  And standing.

It was a pool swim, serpentine style.  We lined up according to the time we thought we’d get.  I guessed between 10-11 minutes, so I was pretty far back.  I didn’t get in the pool until 8:40.  Waiting at a race for two hours is not the most fun.  I don’t get nervous for races until right before.  Two hours is a long time to have jitters.  I just wanted to begin.

Linking up with Katie and Erin!

I felt good during the swim.  I passed a few swimmers, didn’t stop to take a break, but was definitely tired at the end.  I definitely felt it once I got on my bike.  Biking is probably my weakest sport of the three, and there were looooooong uphills.  Plus, we had to do two loops, so as if the first wasn’t hard enough, we had to do the whole thing again.  Oy.  My quads were on FIRE.

Then came the run.  I felt most confident for the run.  That is… until I started running.  My legs were jello and the beginning of the course was on mulch and through a trail and pretty hilly.  I struggled big time.  I literally couldn’t believe how much trouble I was having.  I mean it was THREE miles.  I could do three miles in my sleep, regardless of how little training I’d done.  Not yesterday.  I was spent.  The run was an out and back and we had to do two laps of the run, as well.  Killer.

How’d I finish?  Two minutes and thirty seconds faster than my last one!  That’s all I wanted – beat my previous time!  I did this race with a friend and was definitely pushed.  Otherwise, no way would I have beat my time.  Here are my results:

  • Swim Time: 10:46
  • Swim Pace: 2:42
  • Tran 1: 2:37
  • Bike Time: 53:17
  • Bike Rate: 11.26
  • Tran 2: 1:40
  • Run Time: 28:43
  • Run Pace: 9:35
  • Finish Time: 1:37:00

See my 2011 results HERE.

Bike was still my slowest and the run, somehow, was my fastest.  Other than that, my numbers were pretty similar to 2011.  Usually I take a million pictures, but I wanted nothing to do with the camera when I finished.  I was exhausted.  This was the most difficult race I’ve ever done.  I do want to do it again… and train a lot better.

For St. Louis friends or people near St. Louis, I highly recommend the Tour de Kirkwood Sprint Triathlon.  It’s a GREAT first race!  This is Big Shark’s 12th year hosting it, and they’ve got it down.  The atmosphere is very supportive, positive, and encouraging.  The race director was giving lots of tips before the race started, sharing proper race etiquette, and explaining parts of the course.  He said this is a great first triathlon to do because you really have to earn it; it’s not an easy race.  He was SO right!

While I kind of thought I was going to die during the race, I’m glad I did it, I’m happy I finished, and I’m definitely proud I cut down my time… even just a little!

Did you race this weekend? Have you ever done a triathlon?  Any desire to?

healthy strawberry chocolate smoothie

This “Easy as Breeze” post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk. For more “Easy As Breeze” recipes made with five ingredients or less, visit Almond Breeze on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Summertime.  How I love thee.  I love the hot weather.  I love the cool foods.  I love the time off work.  I love my time with William.  I love summer.  I’m a smoothie fan all year round, but especially so in the summer.  They’re easy to make, they can be packed with nutrients, and most importantly, they’re cold and delicious.

Strawberry and chocolate is one of my all time favorite flavor combinations.  I love vanilla custard with strawberries and hard chocolate mixed in.  Unfortunately, it’s not too healthy to eat ice cream for breakfast.  Especially everyday.  So I found a better solution.  A much healthier solution.  And one that is equally as delicious.  It’s a healthy strawberry chocolate smoothie.  Also, beautiful as it is nutritious.  Heart healthy, high fiber, no added sugar, you name it, this smoothie has got it all.

healthy strawberry chocolate smoothie

There are some options with this smoothie, as well.  It contains four core ingredients with three optional mix-ins.  I went with them all as you can see from the picture, but use what you have on hand.  Here’s what’s inside:

  • 1 cup Almond Breeze Chocolate Almondmilk
  • 3/4 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seed (optional)

healthy strawberry chocolate smoothiebluediamond

Why is it healthy?  Here’s why:

  • Almond Breeze Chocolate Almondmilk: 50% more calcium than dairy milk, all natural with added vitamins & minerals, excellent source of Vitamins D & E, good source of Vitamin A, vegan, and free of dairy, soy, lactose, cholesterol, peanuts, casein, gluten, eggs, saturated fat, and MSG.
  • Strawberries: packed with antioxidants, loaded with Vitamin C, boost immune system, help fight cancer, naturally sweet, reduce inflammation, regulate blood pressure, and fight bad cholesterol
  • Plain Yogurt: no added sugar, contains good-for-you bacteria, loaded with vitamins, may prevent high blood pressure, and high in protein
  • Old Fashioned Oats: keeps your digestive system functioning well, high in fiber, rich in vitamins and minerals, and contains complex carbs
  • Chia Seeds: natural high-orac antioxidants, essential fatty acids, high in dietary fiber
  • Flaxseed: high in fiber, high levels of natural antioxidants called lignans, and mega-source for omega-3s
  • Hemp Seed: high in omega-3s, omega-6s, and high in protein

healthy strawberry chocolate smoothie recipe

What is your favorite smoothie flavor combination?

Working Out in the Mountains

It’s no secret that the high altitude of places such as Colorado elevate your heart rate and make you huff and puff a bit harder than if you were at sea level.  We stayed in a three-story condo while in Durango, Colorado.  Some of my family members complained that they were out of breath each time they climbed the stairs.  I said it felt like I was getting in mini workouts all day long, so I didn’t really mind.

I definitely felt the elevation when we went hiking.  Granted, I had an extra 25 pounds on my back since I was carrying William, but still.  Especially going up the mountain, my heart rate was so fast and I was breathing really hard.  It’s amazing the workout you can get in the mountains!

One quiet morning, I decided to sneak out while William was napping.  I jogged to a nearby set of stairs at the resort and went to climb the stairs for my workout.

stairs colorado

Oh baby, it was tough!  I think I lasted about 20 minutes which was plenty for me.  I alternated the way I climbed the stairs.  First, I jogged each step as I went up, then the next time up, I stepped on every other step which adds a new dimension.  I couldn’t go as fast that way, but my quads and calves sure were burning!

My dad went out for a walk and snapped the photos of me.

colorado stairs

Then, apparently my dad turned into my trainer because when I had enough stairs, he told me to follow him.  He led me to a giant hill and made me run up it.  I had to side step on the way down, so I didn’t bite the dirt… which I was close to doing!

hill colorado

Just for fun and so I could take a break at the top, I did a couple of cartwheels.

cartwheel colorado

And if I wasn’t already tired enough, I tried out my split jump.

split jump colorado

I was tired by the end.  We headed back to the condo, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do just one more handstand while in Colorado!

handstand colorado

Working out in Colorado is a big game – so much fun to play around while being active!

Do you workout while on vacation? What do you do?

Sow’s Ear

Why is food always better on vacation?  It doesn’t matter where you are, it just seems like every meal tastes better while on vacation.  For me, I think it has to do with all the eating out at restaurants since every dinner was eaten out.  Or maybe it’s just the mere fact that I’m on vacation and everything seems better.  It could very well be that meals are enjoyed with fabulous company on vacation.  Either way, food is good, so for today’s edition of What I Ate Wednesday, I’m sharing some delicious highlights from my family’s Durango, Colorado vacation.

Breakfast is one meal we never went out for.  Probably because it was hard to get 15 people moving so early in the morning.  My dad is the one who usually made breakfast, but there were a couple mornings that Stephanie cooked some eggs and toast.  Usually I was busy scarfing down my breakfast while keeping an eye on William, so the only photo I took of breakfast was Monday morning.  My dad fixed me quite the plate and my mom watched William, so I could enjoy the meal.

breakfast

Scrambled eggs with salsa and cheese, turkey sausage, apple slices, banana slices, steamed spinach, and toast with butter and jelly.  Talk about a filling breakfast!

Most lunches were eaten at the condo in between our daily activities.  Since I’m more of a snacker, I rarely made a plate, and instead, noshed on everything that was taken out.  This included turkey and cheese, chips and salsa and guacamole, vegetables and hummus, and chips.  Nobody ever went hungry.  On Monday, when everyone had left besides my parents, William, and me, we headed to the town of Durango.  After walking the streets and shopping the stores, we stopped at The Irish Embassy Pub.

irish pub

My dad got the classic fish and chips which my mom called right when we walked in the restaurant.  My mom and I went with salads – the chopped salad for her and the buffalo chicken salad for me.  The salads were huge and everything was wonderful!

Dinners were definitely a highlight of the trip.  My parents generously treated us to absolutely amazing dinners.  And my family likes to eat!  We’re talking appetizers, entrees, drinks, and desserts!  More than that, it was awesome to be together with everyone.  Sometimes during the day, only a part of the big group ventured out together.  Our summer family vacations are so special since we don’t all live in St. Louis.  We cherish the time we get to spend together.

One of the most memorable dinners from the vacation was at the Sow’s Ear on my parents’ 37th anniversary.  It was the only night we got babysitters for the kids and had an adult only evening.  (It was also the only night where I took pictures of all the food.)  My dad gave a heartfelt toast to my mom to celebrate their anniversary.  They’re such an amazing example of true love and the best parents I could ever imagine.

mom dad toast

And then we feasted.   We began with one of each of their appetizers:

sows ear appetizers

  • Duck Confit Spring Rolls: sesame lo mein, sweet chile coconut sauce
  • Root Chips: house-made beet, russet, & sweet potato chips, caramelized onion goat cheese fondue (my favorite!)
  • Southwestern Crab Cakes: roasted poblano cream, crispy tortilla pepita slaw, ancho lime vinaigrette 
  • Cornmeal Dusted Calamari: roasted tomato coulis, lemon basil aioli

Our entrees:

sows ear dinner

I don’t remember what everything was, but I assure you it was all amazing, and we had very little leftover.  The steaks, ribeye, filet mignon, salmon, and sides were delicious.

As if we weren’t full enough, dessert was ordered and shared by the table:

sows ear dessert

  • My parents, still so madly in love after 37 years
  • Warm chocolate chip cookies and homemade vanilla ice cream
  • Milk chocolate flan (I’m not sure if that’s exactly what it was called, but that’s what it seemed to be) with dried cherries
  • Cheesecake

Literally, every bite was eaten.  We all held our spoons and passed the plates around and around.  Occasionally, somebody would get yelled at for hogging one particular dessert before it made it around the entire table.  I can’t help that I love dessert.

williams family

What a special evening it was to celebrate my wonderful parents!

Have you eaten out lately? Where’d you go and what’d you have?

Greek Six-Layer Dip Recipe

Everyone loves dips.  They’re so versatile, can be eaten as an appetizer, snack, or meal, and there’s a million different ways to make them.  They can be healthy or not, eaten with chips, crackers, or fresh vegetables.  Many times, dips have a Mexican flare.  Nothing against that; I love Mexican style dips.  However, this Greek Six-Layer Dip recipe is a new twist on an old favorite and absolutely perfect for the summer.

greek-six-layer-dip

Greek Six-Layer Dip Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 (6 oz) container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 (8 oz each) containers roasted red pepper hummus
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced Greek olives

Directions:

  1. In small bowl, combine yogurt, garlic, dill, lemon juice and salt; set aside.
  2. Spread hummus onto a 12-inch platter.
  3. Layer yogurt mixture over hummus.
  4. Top with cucumber, tomatoes, olives and cheese.

Delicious served with Lemon-Basil Garlic chips.

This recipe, and many more, can be found on Hy-Vee’s Homegrown Pinterest page.

I’m so excited to announce my partnership with Hy-Vee for an upcoming Twitter Party on Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 2:00 pm CST

hyvee

Details:

Get all the health benefits of homegrown produce with Hy-Vee’s Local Homegrown Twitter Party July 22nd at 3pm MT with #WinFreshWinLocal

Want to know why fresh, local watermelon is always bursting with sweetness and flavor? Or how to perfectly prepare sweet corn at your next family cookout?

A team of Hy-Vee’s in-house health experts will be on-hand and ready to answer all of your fresh, local, homegrown questions at our upcoming Twitter Party!

Whether you’re looking to eat more nutritiously or to support your local growers (or both!) we’ll be tweeting all things FRESH, LOCAL, and HOMEGROWN and we want to hear from you!  When you share your questions with #WinFreshWinLocal during the Twitter Party you’ll automatically be entered to win 1 of 4 Hy-Vee Gift Cards valued at $250 each! A great opportunity for you and your family to enjoy all the fruits and vegetables grown within 200 miles of Hy-Vee stores across the Midwest!

Don’t Forget: keep your eyes out for the Local Homegrown program logo when you’re shopping at Hy-Vee!

For more information and to reserve your space at the Twitter Chat Tweet @Hyvee with #WinFreshWinLocal and you’ll be entered to win a $250 gift certificate to the store!

What do you buy local? What are your favorite recipes using homegrown ingredients? Do you have a Hy-Vee near you?