Let’s have coffee…

Let’s have coffee… shall we?  Grab a cup of joe (or tea or water or whatever strikes your fancy), sit down, and we can catch up about our weekend happenings.  Coffee was the theme of the weekend, it seemed, and my little guy even wanted to get in on the action!  He kept grabbing momma’s cup, saying, “Coffee!”

drink coffee march16

I let him pretend without actually tasting the good stuff!  He’s got to wait quite a bit longer for the real thing.

My spring break began on Friday.  I kicked it off with hosting a play date with my co-workers and their babes in the morning.  William and I hung out the rest of the day before going to visit his best bud, Wolfie, for dinner on Friday evening.

wolfie mar16

They were both holding Shabbat candles and we were singing Shabbat Shalom which is why William was so excited every time we said, “Hey!”

Saturday began with a coffee date with William at Starbucks.  I enjoyed a mocha, while William had a blueberry muffin and water.

starbucks

Cutest little Starbucks date ever.

Later on Saturday, I went to check out the True Runner Spring Gear-Up event.  I’d never been in the store before, but was impressed at the great selection of shoes and apparel.  I actually ended up buying a pair of CALIA (Carrie Underwood) capris that are just gorgeous!  And of course I had to take part in the #WhyIRun photobooth fun.

whyirun

Yeah, I run for my sanity, yet haven’t been running lately… So, maybe that’s why I’ve been feeling a little cray?  (Oy, did I just say cray?!)  Actually, I am hoping to get in a couple of runs this week during my spring break!

William and I went to my grandparents’ house on Saturday night.  Whenever I mention Mama and Papa, William immediately starts talking about pool and hitting the balls in the pocket.  First, he takes out the mini pool table, but eventually goes into the pool room to stand on a bench and reach the big pool table.

mama papa pool mar16

He’s seriously such a coordinated toddler!  It won’t be long before Papa puts a golf club in his hands!  Mama had William talking up a storm the whole night.  We were laughing because some of his language is still indecipherable, so after a long sentence / paragraph of him talking, we can catch the last few words.  Like I said before, his speech is exploding and he’s able to say more and more everyday!

linking up with katie and erin for my marvelous weekend snapshots

I received a MASSIVE delivery recently from Influenster.  Influenster is a community where you review products, take surveys, and provide feedback.  They send you surveys to see if you’re eligible for certain campaigns, and if you are, you get sent whatever box it is.  Then, you’re asked to complete a survey about the product.  You can work to earn a “badge” by completing different tasks, as many or as few as you’d like.  Typical tasks include sharing on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest.  Sometimes tasks involve writing a review on a certain website, blogging, or vlogging.  Like I said, they’re all optional, so no pressure.  And the best part? Anyone can sign up! Not just bloggers! I’ve had several of my friends sign up.  (Sign up HERE if you’d like! It is a referral link and I get “points” for people joining.)  So the best box I’ve ever gotten from Influenster? THIS:

keurig influenster

Seriously, how amazing?!  I am so excited to be able to make coffee at home now, and the flavors they sent are awesome, too!  There is a breakfast blend, dark magic, and caramel vanilla creme.  They also sent a “My K-cup,” so I can use regular ground coffee if I run out of K-cups.  Totally stoked and definitely the best box I’ve received from Influenster!

Speaking of coffee, Sunday morning started with some coffee, as well.  (Check out the first picture in this post.)  We met my grandpa Poppy out for breakfast!  Some of my earliest memories with Poppy are of him taking me and my siblings out to breakfast at a local deli, so taking William out to breakfast with him was just as fun as I remembered when I was younger.

poppy march16

Everyone is SO happy!!!  I love cooking breakfast daily, but there is something extra special about going out to breakfast, especially with your baby and his great-grandpa and cousins!

As you may know, Sunday was the first official day of spring.  St. Louis welcomed spring by SNOWING!

snow march16

Boo, snow.  Luckily, it didn’t stick and we should have warmer temperatures later this week.  Let’s hope… I want to get out there and run!

Are you a coffee drinker? Do you go out or make it at home?

Chicago Eats

The past two days have been so busy trying to unpack from Chicago and prepare for my upcoming weekend in San Francisco to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon.  In addition, I’ve had meetings before school, after school, softball games, chiropractic appointments, laundry – it just doesn’t end!  But I do love staying busy.  For now, let’s slow things down a bit and talk food and drink for WIAW with Jenn at Peas & Crayons!

My eats featured in today’s post will be from Chicago – a busy, windy city with tons of good places to dine.  Let’s start with breakfast.  My hubby’s favorite breakfast spot, without a doubt, is Tempo Cafe.  We always make sure to get breakfast there at least once, if not twice, during our visit.

Itz no wonder Jonny loves it; look how massive the portions are!  I rolled with the veggie egg-white omelette which was served over hash browns and had tons of spinach, zucchini, and broccoli in it.  Love my greens!

The lunch highlight of the weekend was when we visited Bandera’s and I ordered the Macho Salad.  Since I already raved about it and showed you pictures, let’s skip to dinner.  (Click here if you missed that post!)

On Friday, we went to Gibson’s Steakhouse.  Our reservation was not until 9:00 pm which felt really late to be eating.  However, once the food came, my belly didn’t know what time it was anyway.

(Sorry for the crummy pictures.  Dim lights leave me with only two options – flash or no flash – both which produce poor food photography.)  We started with the Spicy Lobster Cocktail which was served in a steamed artichoke.  I love lobster anything, but personally I felt like the mayonnaise could have been toned down a bit.  I did enjoy the artichoke though!

I ordered a bowl of lobster bisque and it was the best decision ever.  I don’t typically order lobster bisque because of how rich it is, but from Gibson’s it was definitely worth it.  It was the richest, most decadent lobster bisque I have ever had.  I savored every bite!  My dinner entre was the Alaskan King Crab Chopped Salad which the waiter gave me a hard time for ordering a salad at a steakhouse.  No worries though; my mom, my dad, and Jonny all gave me several bites of their steaks.  No deprivation here!

I don’t usually talk drinks, but since I did some drinking of beverages other than just water, I thought I’d share with you.  Not one but two Starbucks trips were made.

The pumpkin spice latte (skim milk, one pump, no whip) was the perfect order both trips!  Sunday morning I had a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice; fresh squeezed orange juice is the only way to go.  As for the other drinks, at Gibson’s I had a glass of red wine, and for my girls night with my mom and mother-in-law I had a dirty martini with bleu cheese stuffed olives.  After the adult beverages and amount of coffee I consumed, I was more than ready to hydrate on Sunday.  I found a Vita Coco Coconut Water at the airport, and it definitely quenched my thirst and supplied the electrolytes I needed.

Since visiting a city would not be complete without a sweet treat, we stopped in Ghirardelli.  They were handing out samples of their new flavor: Pumpkin Spice Caramel.

It really is as good as it looks!  Mmm, just looking at that caramel dripping out of the chocolate makes my mouth water all over again.  Good thing I have a few left, as well as some other flavors I scored!

Can’t wait to get into the rest of these.  Especially the Vanilla Dream.  And the Dark Chocolate with Raspberry.  And the… ok all of them!

What’s your favorite flavor of Ghirardelli (or any chocolate)?  Have you gotten a Pumpkin Spice Latte yet this fall?

Friday Facts

1.  Sometimes, when I go to bed after Jonny and Zoey, I find that my spot is taken.

But I’m ok with it (especially when I get a picture) because itz so darn cute.

2.  For those of you that follow me on Instagram (follow me at ItzLinz), you probably saw my beautiful looking pancake yesterday morning.  More often than not, my pancakes have difficulty flipping (itz the pancake’s fault, not mine – obviously), so when they turn out, I get happy.  And yesterday’s was especially pretty!

I topped it with fresh strawberries and Artisana coconut butter.  My pancake yesterday was an easy recipe of 2 eggs, 1/3 cup oats, dash of milk, 1 tsp ground flaxseeds, and 1/2 tsp baking powder.

3.  I’ve been obsessed with coffee recently.  Usually, I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but I do enjoy a cup here and there.  Coffee tends to be more of a vacation thing for me; not sure why.  I don’t need coffee or caffeine in the morning to get going.  However, lately itz been more about the creamer than it has about the coffee.

We first discovered Natural Bliss Sweet Cream when Jonny and I vacationed in Arizona earlier this year.  Robbie and Becca had a huge jug of this in their fridge that Jonny and I went through embarrassingly fast.  We bought them another, but I’m pretty sure we went through that, too.  Obviously, adding cream and sugar to coffee is not a nutritional star, but like I always preach: everything in moderation is fine.  Although there hasn’t been much moderation with the creamer over here, so I should probably stop buying it.

Actually, I intended on just buying it once – as a treat.  So I bought a huge jug (not pictured).  But then my sister tried it at our house and was hooked!  (Surprise surprise, copy cat again. 😉 )  Well, she couldn’t find the creamer at her normal grocery store, so being the kind sister I am, I picked one up for her.  Well, I forgot to bring it to her.  Again, and again, and again.  Then, we ran out of ours, so I opened hers.  #coffeeaddict  #coffeecreameraddict

4.  I recently bought these awesome green Birkenstocks on Rue La La.

My mother-in-law got me hooked on Birkstenstocks, and now itz the only sandal I’ll wear.  They are perfect for my high arches, and stylish, too.  The green ones make my third pair.  And when I find them for half the price, well, itz no question there.

5.  I’m working out with my brother Jason this morning.  He asked me to kick his butt for a legs workout, so we’ll be doing this one.

We both can expect major DOMS.  Itz a killer every time!

6.  Speaking of Jason, he gets a High Five for today.

Jason was recently asked to be the VP of Sales for Push Global Proximity Marketing – bringing new bluetooth and smartphone marketing to local businesses.  This is quite the honor and a job that he will definitely succeed at (as always).  Well-deserving of a high-five!

My mom also gets a high-five for having hand surgery yesterday.  She is recovering like the strong woman she always is and I aspire to be.

I chose to use a picture of me and my mom from Barbie’s wedding instead of the picture my dad sent of my mom in the hospital bed (though that was pretty, too!).  You’re welcome, Momma!  We’ll give my mom a figurative high-five instead of a literal high-five, since… well… her hand and all… 😉  #dumbjoke

Thank you, Meg, for another edition of High Five Friday!

And now I’m off to drink my third cup of coffee meet Jason at the gym.

Tell me a Friday Fact about yourself!

Staycation

We took a little staycation last night.  Granted it was a half of a mile from our home, but it was still a staycation.  Jonny’s parents traveled to Kentucky for the evening, so we had dog duty at their house.  They have a beautiful backyard and the weather has been phenomenal lately, so we invited our good friends, DiAndy, over for some dinner and a picnic.  June 17th will be filled with Father’s Day events, so last night we decided to have our picnic for International Neuroblastoma Week in support of Roxie.

Read about Roxie here, or stay up to date with Roxie on Facebook.  After sharing a bottle of wine from Trader Joe’s, we had quite the time trying to capture a picture with all four of us on the blanket.  But eventually we managed.

After many tries, we even captured a cute one of the engaged couple who are also in support of Team Roxie.

We ate an amazing dinner, if I do say so myself.  Jonny cooked the chicken to perfection, and I made bread for the very first time (successfully, too!).  I also made lentil jambalaya, three-bean salad with gouda, and strawberry pie for dessert.

Recipes here:

Lucky for everyone involved, DiAndy are very much dog-people and were loving on Paris, Zorro, and Zoey just as much as we usually do.

After a fabulous night with our dear friends, we went to sleep and woke up at 5:30 am thanks to our fur-babies.  We fed the mongrels and enjoyed large cups of coffee poolside as the sun was rising.

When we were fully caffeinated, I began preparing breakfast.  We shared and had a little bit of everything: bagel, lox, and cream cheese, a banana, and a turkey sausage, egg, and potato bowl.

We were even able to get the Garden Table reservation.

The staycation hotel wait staff’s service was impeccable.

Though Jonny got a little fresh with one of the waitresses…

I forgave him since she was so hairy.  All in all, we had an amazing staycation.  Hopefully this weekend, you’ll find some time to have a picnic since there are many families out there who are unable to due to the disgusting childhood cancer.  Help bring awareness about Neuroblastoma by taking a picture of your picnic and posting it on Facebook or Twitter with Holly’s mantra: Know Neuroblastoma.  No Neuroblastoma.

Have you had your picnic yet?? Have you ever taken a staycation??  Where was it and how was it??  Happy Saturday!! 🙂

Itz WIAW

Thank you so much for all of your congratulations on yesterday’s post!  I can’t stop smiling and am just honored to join such a wonderful community.  Enough about FitFluential (for now), let’s talk influential eats.

WIAW happens every Wednesday and is hosted by the lovely Jenn at Peas & Crayons.  I have a post full of good food, so get yourselves ready!  Breakfast was an unbelievable bowl that I was kind enough to make not only for myself, but for Jonny, as well.  “Now that’s a healthy breakfast bowl, if I’ve ever seen one,” he exclaimed.

In the mix: 1 whole egg, 2 eggwhites, kale, pinto beans, nutritional yeast, grape tomatoes, and salsa.  Yum is right!  My students go to specials at 9:15 and I’m not going to lie: I’m usually hungry by then.  Even with my protein-packed breakfasts, my tummy is still grumbling.  To my defense, I eat breakfast around 6:30, so having a snack three hours later is actually preferable.  Anyway, I have found a new love: homemade, healthy, iced coffee!

In the mix: lots of ice, 1 scoop of Sunwarrior chocolate protein powder, 1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 cup of coffee, 1 dropper of NuNaturals vanilla, 1 dropper of NuNaturals cocoa bean, 1/2 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds, and 2 tablespoons of shredded unsweetened coconut, blended until smooth and served over ice.  Holy amazingness!  I try not to make it everyday because I don’t like consuming that much caffeine, but I could definitely drink it everyday.  Like multiple times.  Way healthier and way less expensive than Starbucks.  Sorry I’m not sorry, Starbucks.

Let’s talk lunch.  It’s been the same ever since I got my beloved spiralizer.  Spiralized zucchini or squash, beans, other veggies, and sometimes a grain.  This week has been no different.

In the mix: squash, roasted cabbage, and pinto beans.  (Yes, pinto beans have been making an appearance in my breakfasts and lunches.  I am trying to finish them up from last Sunday during my batch cooking session!)  Since I like a little more protein with my meals, I always have some greek yogurt or regular yogurt on the side.

Confession:  I had frozen yogurt for dinner last night.  Sorry I’m not sorry (again).  However, yesterday was a cause for celebration, plus my girls’ soccer team met at a local fro yo joint to celebrate their amazing 7 – 1 season.

In the mix: raspberry, cake batter, and dark chocolate topped with sprinkles. Mmm, mmm, mmm!  Fro yo is totally thebombdotcom.  I will show you a picture of a more balanced dinner that was consumed on Sunday at my in-laws.

We love colorful plates over there and this one definitely was!  (Side note: the more colorful your food is, the more nutrients it has.  With the exception of sprinkles.  Sorry, sprinkles, but I do still love you.)  Chicken and veggie kabob, baked beans, sweet potato, and asparagus.

This was the second time I made Mama Pea’s Roasted Asparagus with Browned Butter, and both times were a hit!  If you ever need to please a crowd with a green vegetable, that recipe is the one to follow.  And when you get asparagus for $1.50 per bunch at the Farmer’s Market, it makes it even better. 🙂

Is your plate usually colorful?

NuNaturals Goodness

For someone who has an enormous sweet tooth [ME], sweetening food is very important.  However, most people [ME] do not want the extra sugar and calories sweetening food can usually entail.  This is only part of the reason why I was ecstatic to sample and review the wide variety of NuNaturals products.

NuNaturals products are Stevia based, all natural, zero calorie, zero sugar sweeteners.  I had never tried any type of Stevia product before, but was eager to since I’m not a huge fan of all of the additives in the other fake sweeteners.  I am thoroughly impressed with NuNaturals.  Every single product I used sweetened my dish, did not have a funky aftertaste, and definitely didn’t hurt my waistline!  Let me show you some of my favs:

I have to sweeten my coffee.  These single serving packets get the job done!  I actually tried all of the NuNaturals products in my coffee (with the exception of the baking blend) and I liked them all!  I really liked the added flavor that the vanilla and cocoa bean added in addition to the sweetness.

In the morning when I make oats or quinoa, I like my bowls sweet.  Traditional oats or quinoa are not sweet, so something must be added.  Clearly I chose NuNaturals!

I prepared 1/2 cup of quinoa on the stovetop.  Then, I stirred in banana flavored protein powder, a dash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds, and 1 dropper full of cocoa extract.  Banana chocolate quinoa bowl?  Yes, it really was that good!  I said it before, but I’ll say it again: there is not a hint of bitterness in these products!  They don’t taste fake (because they’re not); they truly provide the sweetness and flavor the label suggests.

Itz been a lot of fun experimenting with these products and adding them to my everyday eats.  Don’t tell the other recipes, but I have found a favorite.  Our friends from out-of-town came over on Saturday night, so I quickly whipped up a batch of cookies.  They were phenomenal.  Jonny had 6 in one sitting.  Seriously.  Another girl had 4.  (I won’t tell you how many I had.)  And you know what?  We didn’t feel guilty at all!

Guiltless Vanilla “Sugar” Cookies

          ~makes 21 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 3/4 cup NuNaturals More Fiber Baking Blend
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 droppers NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia
  • optional: dark chocolate chips and/or sprinkles and/or other mix-ins

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix.
  2. Spray cookie sheet.
  3. Drop 1 – 2 tablespoons of cookie batter on tray.
  4. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

I was in the mood for variety, so I made some plain vanilla sugar cookies, and then added dark chocolate chips to others and sprinkles to others.  Check out why I call these cookies guiltless.  One cookie contains 60 calories, 1.2 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 3.8 grams of fiber, 2.1 grams of protein, and 0.2 grams of sugar.  Impressive, eh?  Note: those facts were for the plain vanilla sugar cookies.  Obviously adding chocolate chips or sprinkles will add calories and sugar.

Another benefit of NuNaturals is their website.  There are tons of recipes listed, and NuNaturals will even send you a sample!  Click here for details.  I would definitely recommend checking out the NuNaturals products.  How much more can you ask for in a sweetener?  Oh I know.  You can’t.  They are natural, non-bitter, and zero added calories and sugar.  Awesome!  Thank you so much, NuNaturals, for my wonderful products.  You definitely got me hooked!

Have you tried NuNaturals before? 

Disclaimer: NuNaturals graciously sent me the above products to review.  They did not compensate me beyond this as all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Boardwalk Coffee

On our first full day in California, we woke up and walked along the boardwalk to get coffee.  It’s the best kind of coffee you can get.  On vacation.  No alarm clock.  Walk with the hubby along the boardwalk.  Stopping along the way back to appreciate the scenery and each other.  Life is good.

After our coffee walk, I cooked some eggs and then we headed to the gym.  My younger brother got us passes to his gym, The Sporting Club, which is located inside a Hyatt.  I love going to new gyms.  Not sure why, they all have the same equipment, but I still think it’s fun.  This club had 3 levels: locker rooms/sauna/steam room level, weights level, and cardio level. 

I began my workout with some cardio on the StairMaster.  I forgot my headphones in our room and they didn’t have any magazines available, so I was left to my lonesome.  Luckily, I could see the weight room area down below and that provided me enough entertainment to last the 30 minutes.  Is it weird that I like watching people workout?  I discovered a couple of new moves and stretches watching these strangers!  Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that most people in California are beautiful. 🙂

Day 4 of LiveFit Trainer was calling my name today since I was supposed to do it consecutively to Day 3.  However, the real Day 4 was our travel day, so it didn’t leave me with enough time.  Anyway, long story short, I did it and finished Week 1.

Day 4: Shoulders & Abs

  • Seated (on a ball) Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 15 reps (12.5 pounds dumbbells)
  • Alternating Front Delt Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps (10 pound dumbbells)
  • Side Lateral Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps (7.5 pound dumbbells)
  • Seated Bent Over Rear Delt Fly: 3 sets of 15 reps (10 pound dumbbells)
  • Exercise Ball Crunches: 3 sets of 25 reps (holding a 15 pound medicine ball)
  • Air Bike: 3 sets of 30 reps (SLOW!)
  • 1-Minute Plank (Poolside): 2 sets

The planks were an afterthought.  After my workout, I went down to the pool and decided to hold some planks while soaking up the sun.  However, about 30 seconds into my second plank, I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish the 5 sets I had initially planned.  My entire body was shaking!  It was a good workout though, and I am very pleased with Week 1 of LiveFit.

After some pool time, we met up with my brother for lunch and then hung with him the rest of the day.  Because my dark-colored nails were chipping and it was incredibly noticeable, I decided to go for a quick polish change at a local nail place.  I felt like my nails were due for a fun and light color since we were beneath the sunny San Diego skies, so I opted for OPI’s Hollywood Blonde.  The name didn’t make sense since I’m not a blonde anymore and we’re not in Hollywood, but I went with it anyway.  The color was incredibly sheer and a bit sparkly.  Fun for our vacay and definitely worth the $5.

Jonny and I came back to our place just before we witnessed this beautiful sunset.  There were tons of surfers that were heading to the waves around this time and it was fun to watch from our balcony.  We’re totally loving our stay here!

Bodypump

Today is my last day off work for this break.  As always, I have thoroughly enjoyed my winter vacation and spending time with my friends and family!  With this being my last day with no schedule, I took advantage of my free time by attending Annette’s Bodypump class!  Let’s back up to my morning.  I crawled out of bed around 7:15 (this is really late for me).  I thought to myself, “Self, what kind of workout do you want to do today?”  Then, I had the genius idea of going to Bodypump!  I texted Annette to confirm she would be teaching (the class is not offered at my gym, so I travel to where Annette teaches) and began my morning with a hot cup of joe!

I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but when I have extra time in the morning, I’ll occasionally sip on some coffee.  And this coffee was worth the sipping!  It was Godiva Chocolate Truffle Coffee that Sarah so graciously sent me during December’s Foodie Penpals.  (Check out my guest post here!)  This coffee is delicious and I love the way it makes our kitchen smell.  I only finished about half of the ginormous cup.  That usually happens.  I always think I want more coffee than I can actually handle.  It was good while it lasted though!  I knew I needed to fuel myself properly before Bodypump.

Oatmeal, it was!  This bowl of oats included a banana, peanut butter, and cinnamon.  One of the most perfect combinations!  Another perfect combination?  Bodypump + Annette!  Annette and I grew up together and were inseparable from ages 2 – 12.  We went to different middle schools, high schools, and college, but always kept in touch.  When Annette finally moved back to St. Louis with her numerous fitness certifications and degrees, I was stoked!  She has graciously invited me to Bodypump two other times.

The first Bodypump class I attended was rough… to say the least!  I put waaaaay too much weight on my bar and could not finish one track all the way through.  Take some weight off?  I could.  And I did.  But not enough apparently.  Fast forward to my second Bodypump class.  My goal was to finish each track and not take my own self-proclaimed breaks.  I used significantly less weight and was able to complete each track… with ease.  Today, my challenge was to find a middle-ground!  I wanted to be able to keep up with the class, but still push myself.  I’m happy to say… I accomplished just that!  There was only one track (biceps) that I wish I would have added a drop more weight, but in general I was very happy with my choices and got a great total body workout! 

I learned something new in today’s class, too, which was an added bonus.  When we were doing the ab portion, Annette said to lift your heels in order to make it more challenging (when in the sit-up/crunch position).  This releases the hip flexors putting more work in the abs (oh baby!).  Learn something new everyday!  Thank you, Annette, for completely kicking my booty today and giving me just the workout I needed!  And if any of you all ever need any health, nutrition, motivation, or fitness ideas, Annette’s website Enjoy Your Healthy Life is where it’s at!  Happy Monday and Happy 2012!