Recipes · Uncategorized

Dairy Free Berry Cream Smoothie

Summer heat is in full force this week.

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We really haven’t been out of the house too much because its been so H.O.T.  However, yesterday, I had to run errands at a few different places. After getting in and out of the car about two times (with tot in tow), I had to tap out! Breathing in thick, sludgy, hot air drained us both fast:( I decided to scrap completing the rest of my to-do list and head straight home to cool off, and that’s how we spent the rest of our day.

Berry Creamy Smoothie

This week’s Northern Virginia weather has made smoothies a great go to treat to stay cool and refreshed. I whipped up this dairy free, vegan, “Berry Cream” smoothie for lunch and my toddler loved it too!

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Ingredients:

5 slices peaches

1/2 cup blueberries

1 Banana

5oz SO delicious Coconut Milk yogurt (Vanilla flavor)

1/4 cup Tazo passion tea concentrate

Enough cold water to get everything moving smoothly

Toss all of your ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. No extra sugar, no dairy, no nonsense! The Tazo tea concentrate adds a unique kick to the flavor profile of this smoothie. I also always use frozen fruit in my smoothies, which lets me avoid adding ice to the mix.

Enjoy!

 

 

Family Outings · Travel

NYC Food Roundup – Good and average

A few weeks ago, I celebrated my 30th birthday in NYC with my husband and toddler. Not only did we walk so many miles each day, but we also stopped for tons of sweets and treats along the way. Some were underwhelming and other were great… here’s the roundup.

Levain Bakery: These cookies are ah-maz-ing!!! Each cookie is hand weighed and baked to perfection. We usually pick these up on our way out of the city, and didn’t deviate from doing so this trip either. I bought the chocolate peanut butter, and chocolate chip walnut… both of which were just as delicious as I remember. I also bought a box to bring to my Dad’s house as a thank you for watching our dog while we were away. They actually looked into ordering them for delivery after loving them just as much as we do. 20190629_1031153553355854123477080.jpg

Baked By Melissa: These tiny cupcakes are good. We used to buy two packs every time we visited the city. They used to be $20 for a pack of 25 and  this time they were $30 for the same 25 pack… and these cupcakes are teeny tiny, one-bite treats. The price increase was super disappointing and unfortunately this visit our cupcakes were kinda wonky:( However, they have been fabulous in the past and I would recommend them, if you’re looking to drop $30 on the equivalent of maaaaaaybe two full size cupcakes. They are tasty, just way too pricy.

Magnolia Bakery: Good cupcakes, but I would skip the pudding next time. My friends raved about the banana pudding, so of course I had to scoop some up during our stay. We ordered a medium and I kid you not, 80% of the container was sliced bananas and Nilla wafers. Had it been balanced more, then it would probably be great. The little bit of actual pudding we received was really good!20190628_2038065383503894869925720.jpg

Chopt’ Salad: I was super impressed with the quality of this salad. You order based on a menu or “build your own”, then move down the line choosing your ingredients in the same fashion as you would at a Chipotle or Subway. Possibly the best salad i’ve ever had! The falafel with tzatziki was amazing. They chop it super finely and then mix everything, including the dressing all together to create one delicious masterpiece. 20190627_2017095011078195541401290.jpg

PJ Clarks: A famous restaurant for which I would highly recommend a reservation. This is a tight fit, so we left the stroller in our hotel room because it definitely wouldn’t have fit. We ordered and then received our food super fast, what felt like just minutes later. Overall, good and wonderfully large portion sizes. My fries were cold though, which sucked, but I just picked off my husbands plate and gave my toddler the already cooled ones:) My fried fish was awesome, and probably the largest fish portion i’ve ever received when ordering Fish & Chips.

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Coco Fresh: If there was a location close to where I live, Kung Fu Tea would definitely have some competition. I stopped in twice and ordered the same thing both times; Passionfruit  black tea with boba. I’m a huge bubble tea fan, and would 100% drink it daily if I lived close enough to do so… Thankfully, i’m not close enough to any bubble tea place to do so. This was so refreshing during our hot walks through the city. 20190628_1402075196236268334086985.jpg

Angelo’s Pizza: My husband HAD to have this coal fired pizza. He came across it months ago and wouldn’t stop talking about one day getting to try it. It was around $26 for a plain cheese, and wasn’t the best we’d ever had… but also not the worst. The cheese was fresh and they had a great tender crust. It was the perfect compliment to our Chopt’ salad too:)20190627_2017143105487997506043676.jpg

That’s the round up of our weekend in NYC. Not the best food-sperience we’ve ever had in the city, but I also really think the extreme heat caused us to not fully enjoy the food we ate. We actually didn’t eat a whole lot and weren’t hungry for the majority of the trip. Cupcakes and bubble tea are always winners though, during any trip!

 

Family Outings · Travel

Reflecting on Thirty and NYC

I’ve always done a lot of reflecting during the weeks leading up to my birthday. Ever since my 16th birthday I remember feeling anxious during those weeks… feelings of not having accomplished enough by a certain age, not sure exactly what my “path” was supposed to be, etc. Then after my birthday came and went, those feelings would just go away. Those weeks were draining!. This year though, instead of focusing on what I “haven’t” done, I tried to focus on everything good and wonderful in life that spark positivity. I focused my thoughts on what great things may come to fruition in this new decade of my life, and what i’m grateful for in present time: health, family, being able to stay home with my son, a home to live in, etc… Things that are so easy to take for granted.

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I have always viewed “30” as the year that youth slips away, the year of doors closing on on opportunities only your 20’s can offer, and the year that you should have everything figured out. As I grew closer to my self imposed doomsday, I realized how incredibly wrong this all was. Your 20s are not the only decade in which you can do the fun stuff, start a career, or feel young. I definitely didn’t have everything figured out, and probably still don’t. I’ve learned that I will probably always be in a state of “figuring things out” as I enter every new season of life, and i’m totally okay with that!  I’m feeling more and more that this past decade was just a huge learning curve, and i’m feeling more capable and prepared to tackle problems and pursue passions/hobbies/dreams.

On the physical side of turning 30, I actually feel more fit and able bodied now than I did just a few years ago. Getting older is a wake up call that good nutrition and healthy habits are more important now than ever before. Especially since becoming a Mom, I’ve focused more on great nutrition, exercise, and also self care.  Anyway, as I reflect on my 20’s and think of entering my 30s, these are all the “things” that have jumbled my thoughts. Overall, I’m feeling more secure/confident about who I am as an adult, now, than I ever did in my early 20s… and that is something i’m truly happy about. So here’s cheers to 30!

The Celebration

For my birthday, my husband, son, and I road tripped to NYC for the weekend.

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20190627_1804547103876827074318262.jpgIt wasn’t the nostalgic, cake-eating, shopping spectacular we had envisioned… but we made the best of it. We stayed in a 4 star hotel, and the room was truly awful… definitely not what anyone would typically expect of a 4 star establishment. The room was crumbling apart, and the valet left trash in our car! To boot, our toddler unleashed the terrible twos in full force.

Air quality was especially bad during our trip, and it was H.O.T., so our eyes were burning and we coughed the entire time. That aside, we enjoyed a few good treats, which I think i’ll round up and put into a whole other blog post, and took in the sights. We took a few nice walks through the park and explored the city at night so we could take in all the lights. The night walks were my favorite experiences during the weekend because my toddler was in a better mood during these times and got such joy from all the glowing lights.

20190628_2235536328645958961384376.jpgWe finished our trip with a bagel breakfast in Central Park before checking out of the hotel early. We stopped for a bubble tea and my favorite Levain cookies on our way out of the city. I was able to relax for the majority of the car ride home while catching up on podcasts. I had no shame in popping on my noise cancelling headphones and running out everything around me while I had the chance.

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Side note – I actually just started listening to podcasts after stumbling across the HelloBaby and Directionally Challenged podcasts. I’d love to get a few suggestions for others to start following!

 

 

Uncategorized

Tips for Thrifty Shopping

I’ve always loved “nice” things, name brands, labels, and designer styles.  My budget on the other hand hasn’t always been boujee to match. This is why I love seasonal sales and clearance racks

I remember the exact moment I vowed not to pay full price ever again (if possible). I was 17, working at Hollister, and desperately trying to keep up with the “wear only Hollister clothing” rule to which on the clock employees were required to adhere. Not super easy when your making like $6/hour, but I did it mostly by during all of each paycheck into new clothes. Don’t get me wrong… I actually loved working there, and loved the clothing too! It just felt pricy compared to my teeny paycheck.

Anyway, It was a hip-length, plunging V-neck sweater… I was in LOVE. It had been paired with a chunky leather belt on one of the mannequins. For what seemed like forever, I mulled over the price, I think it was $60. Then one day I took the plunge and made the purchase. It was beautiful, all my teenage fashion dreams summed up in one stunning sweater (I know, dramatic). Then the next week, I kid you not, the darn thing went on clearance for $16!!! SIXTEEN FREAKIN DOLLARS! That did it y’all, never again would I pay full price knowing full well I may end up finding the same thing on a clearance rack at some point down the road.

I’m almost 30 and this is a vow i’ve more or less stuck to since then. I love sales, and will always search for a coupon to maximize savings. Here are my tried and true rules for thrifty shopping, which apply to clothing, makeup, and housewares.

  1. Outlet Stores – Perfect for finding deals year round. An outlet mall is great for hitting all the stores in a single trip. However, my favorite outlet style/clearance stores are: Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off Fifth, and Bloomingdales Outlet. Often, I find these stores will have additional discounts on top of the already reduced prices! Also try Marshalls and TJ Maxx.

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    Kate Spade “Dip Dye” dress for less than $100 at an outlet. Shoes are Stuart Weitzman “Corkswoon Wedge” from Nordstrom Rack.
  2. Online – Always check online before making a pricy purchase. Sometimes you can find the same thing online for less. I’ve also found some stores will have a discounted price online, but not in store… if you ask, a lot of times the store will price match their online price.
  3. Compare with Amazon – Same concept as above. Some stores will price match the price on Amazon (or even other stores), so long as the item is “shipped and sold by” Amazon. I’ve gotten some good discounts from places like BestBuy and DSW.
  4. Use a Coupon – Retail Me Not is a great resource for coupons/promo codes, and they even have an app. I also don’t shop at BuyBuyBaby or BedBathandBeyond unless I have one of their 20% off coupons. Even better, both stores will accept each others coupons, but unfortunately they will not accept an expired coupon.
  5. Groupon – A great resource for finding local deals and scoring discounted travel. Some of my favorite things to utilize Groupon for is; Restaurants, photography, and spa services.
  6. Utilize retailer discounts – A lot of online retailers are offering free shipping with a minimum purchase, but i’ve also found that you can receive an additional percentage off by signing up for the retailer’s “newsletter”. This is usually offered as a pop-up when you first get to the website. You can always unsubscribe from their emails after your purchase, which is what I normally do:)
  7. Second Hand – I was always anti-second hand until this past year when I realized… dun, dun, dun… there is absolutely no shame in the game. Buying used clothes makes you thrifty, not cheap! Some great branded pieces can be found at Goodwill. If online is more your thang, then check out reselling sites like Poshmark, where new bargains are posted daily. I bought a haul of toddler clothes in great condition, but so cheap that I won’t be upset if they get stained and dirty through the summer. My own Poshmark closet is @meganoh7
  8. When in doubt, go without – I have a few dresses in my closet with tags still attached, just because the price was SO good I couldn’t pass it up. When you come across a steal of a deal, remember to ask yourself if you’ll really get any use out of that dress/coat/top/etc. If you’re not sure, consider passing it by.  Just because something is 95% off doesn’t mean you’ll actually ever wear it. Take my word for it!

 

Whew, that’s plenty. Do you have any thrifty shopping tips? I’d love to hear you’re tried and true methods for finding a good deal.

 

 

Mom Life · Uncategorized

Taco Dinner

Truth: I could do with a little less home repair for a long while. We recently replaced our HVAC system, then our cooktop spontaneously burst into flames a few weeks ago, when it wasn’t even turned on:( Now we find out we have mice in our attic, waaaaaaaaahhhh! Seriously, it’s one thing after another lately and i’m tap’n out.

So, with everything going on I was skimping on making home cooked meals for awhile (because, no stove). But when you start asking yourself “how much pizza is too much pizza” or “should we start asking for a standing reservation at the mexican restaurant”?… It may be time to figure something out. I mean, I do have an InstantPot. Really though, I think I was just overwhelmed with all the “stuff” that meal planning just wasn’t even on my radar.

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This week i’m turning a new leaf, with salads, roasted veggies, and tacos. I picked up a Taco Bell boxed kit at Wal-Mart a few days ago and broke it open this evening for a quick, simple dinner. I used Gardein beefless crumbles (cooked in the InstantPot on the sauté setting), chopped a few tomatoes, and threw on some lettuce.

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Honest opinion: I was a little disappointed with the quality control of this kit. The bag with the soft tacos wasn’t even sealed, and 3 out of 6 hard tacos were crushed:( Flavor wise, can’t complain. The seasoning was great, and the sauce was the same as you’d get straight from the source. Maybe we’ll give this a try again down the road and hope we get a box with better packaging, but for a quick flavorful meal, this was a great choice.

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Toddler Snacks

While i’m talking food, I figure now would be a good time to throw together a list of my go-to toddler snacks that I always keep handy. Peanut butter is an all time favorite, but that’s not as easy to package up nicely when we’re on the go. These are all the snacks I like to toss in the diaper bag, or utilize at home when were short on time and need a quick pick-me-up. My toddler loves each and every item listed here.

  1. Sargento Balance Breaks: For my picky eater who I struggle to get to eat enough, these offer a good calorie bump. I love these too because they are perfectly portioned and help keep my snacking in check.20190612_1717467644589419311961168.jpg
  2. Natures Bakery Fig Bars: They come in a few flavors, and my toddler doesn’t discriminate. They don’t taste overly sweet, which I like. 20190612_1719587091761479498034784.jpg
  3. Sunny Days Snack Bars: Kinda like a nutrigrain bar, but perfect for tiny hands. 20190612_1719525353344123944840433.jpg
  4. Pure Organics Layered Fruit Bar: I get them from Costco where they’re much cheaper than anywhere else. Super sweet, but no added sugar. 20190612_1720032526325504396600488.jpg
  5. Abby’s Cookies: I bought these for myself, and my toddler soon took them over. I like to let him have these as a special treat instead of a traditional “dessert”. There are six cookies per bag, and shipping is free at Safe+Fair. 20190612_1719463477324183197950071.jpg

That’s about it. I try to choose things that are more natural, without a ton of additives, but that are still yummy! These are the staples in our house and I snack on all of these too!