Chilled American Flag Waffles

Posted by on Jul 3, 2015 in Breakfast, Holidays, Recipes | 0 comments

Happy (almost) Independence Day! Yay for three-day weekends. I love having celebratory breakfasts on holidays, but to be honest in the middle of July it’s so freaking hot the thought of cooking is almost impossible 90% of the time. What’s great about these waffles is not only are they chilled so you don’t feel too hot eating a warm meal, but they are also make ahead so you can wake up on your weekend, assemble and voila! And if you have kiddos, they will love helping to make these flags too!

american flag waffle recipe

Ingredients

Waffles (I used this Pioneer Woman recipe)

vanilla Greek yogurt

blueberries (about 9 per waffle)

strawberries (1-2 per waffle), sliced

bananas (1/4 per waffle), sliced

Directions

Make waffles the day before, let cool to room temperature, then store in a large sealed bag. When you’re ready to serve, spread Greek yogurt across the waffle, then assemble fruit into a flag. Enjoy!

american flag waffle recipe

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Tips for Traveling to Disneyworld with a Toddler

Posted by on Jun 5, 2015 in Family, Mom tips, My Life | 1 comment

I have to admit, I was both super excited and kind of nervous about taking my toddler to Disneyworld. My husband, my mom and I planned a trip there for my son’s second birthday (after our first trip got cancelled, but that’s another story), and we had an excellent trip.

First things first, to save my sanity and keep my expectations in check, I really made the goal of the trip to just have a leisurely, relaxing, fun time doing whatever my little guy wanted to do. This didn’t have to be the all out, non-stop trip it can be when he is a little older and appreciates every detail more. That being said, it was 100% worth it to go as he loved it! At first my husband was a little skeptical if he was old enough to appreciate it, but he definitely was. For this trip I really made my objective just to introduce him to the world of Disney, so we didn’t have to hit every single ride and attraction, didn’t need to feel rushed, and could make an easier decision on what to hit and what to skip. Maybe not everyone is as crazy of a planner and traveler as I am, but I point this out because since he is so little (and frankly this trip will be something I remember much more than he does), I didn’t want to be disappointed we wasted money on stuff he didn’t get into or that we didn’t “do enough.”

That all being said, I learned a lot from friends before I went and had several things that helped me prepare in advance. Here are my tips for traveling to Disneyworld with a toddler, but a lot of these apply to Disneyland and even Universal Studios, too!

tips for traveling to disneyworld

Pack your own snacks. 

Disney prices for snacks (that’s lets face it, your kid may just throw on the ground) can be a bit overpriced, so before you leave, stock up on favorites like fruit snacks, granola bars, goldfish, applesauce pouches, etc. If nothing else, you may eat them yourself! Plus sometimes hunger hits while you’re waiting in line so having plenty as a back up is a lifesaver. That goes for a water bottle too! Don’t forget you need to hydrate.

Get Fast Passes and Rider Switch Passes 

If you stay in a Disney resort you can sign up for three passes per day per person so you can skip a long line for a shorter one (I believe this only applies at Disneyworld, not Disneyland, but I could be wrong). If the wait time is 60 minutes, the Fast Pass wait line may only be 20 and when you’re traveling with a toddler, skipping that wait is vital. They also have a rider switch option so if you have a child that is too small to ride on the ride, you simply go up at your fast pass time with your kid with you, then they’ll give you a ticket or a badge so that you can swap out and ride again. For instance since we had myself, my mom and husband, we would all go up to the entrance with my son, they would give us a ticket, and one of us would stay with my toddler. The other two would ride, get off and then the person who stayed out would go with one of us that already went. You need three people old enough to go (so invite Grandma and Grandpa or Auntie), but at least that way you can experience rides together still.

tips for traveling to disneyworld

Stay in a Disney Resort for convenience. 

You might think staying in the park would be pricey, but it was a great value and convenience for us with a toddler and less expensive than I would have thought. 1) We got Fast Passes which saved us time so we got to do more with a child with a small attention span. 2) We got shuttled to and from parks so we didn’t have to hassle with where we were going, didn’t need to rent a car (more savings!), and didn’t have to haul his car seat on the plane across the country. 3) It was really extra magical! For us, since we traveled in the off season it only ended up being $95/night most nights we were there, which I thought was totally reasonable, especially since we didn’t need a rental car.

tips for traveling to disneyworld

Pack layers! 

I didn’t do the best at this because I thought it would be warmer in Florida in February, but you forget that you’re not just out in the high temps of the day, but also the chilly morning and night. Brrrr! It got cold. Think of the time of year and bring light/heavy clothing and blankets with that in mind. Even in the summer you may want layers since being in the AC when you’re wearing shorts and a tank top can get chilly too.

Bring a carrier. 

Even though my son is two and likes to walk or ride in his stroller most of the time, I was really happy to have my sling to pop him on my hip while we were in line. There’s a spot for stroller parking by most rides, so carrying your kid in line can get heavy and putting them down and expecting them to stay by you isn’t always realistic either, so that helps. Which brings me to…

Don’t be afraid of the toddler leash. 

I’m going to be totally honest — before I had kids I judged parents with children on leashes. I said I would never be one. My child would learn to stay by me. Ha! Well, he is pretty good, but at a big place like Disneyworld I didn’t want to risk it and I’m sooo glad I didn’t. He actually (mostly) liked wearing a big boy backpack and the leash part just helped keep him by us in line or while walking. We got the Skiphop bee backpack which has a detachable leash and also has a handle up top so even if I tucked in the leash part, I could grab it up top to keep him by me. THIS IS ESSENTIAL.

tips for traveling to disneyworld

Buy souvenirs in advance.

That may sound weird because that’s the opposite of a souvenir, right? You can still get a thing or two there, but if you buy Disney shirts, toys, etc outside the park it’s so much cheaper for essentially the same or similar stuff and your kid won’t really know the difference. I bought my son Mickey Mouse shirts to wear while we were there for $6 and $7 at Ross and Amazon (compared to similar ones there for $25+) and a stuffed animal for $8 versus $30 in the park. I just gave it to him at opportune moments and he had no idea where it came from. There still may be stuff you want specific to your trip, but you can save by thinking ahead what your kids may want and buy the more special stuff you can only find in the park.

 

tips for traveling to disneyworld

Plan to have stroller naps. 

I wasn’t really sure how naps would work out, but my son was great sleeping in his stroller. Unless you know your kid will really not tolerate sleeping there, make sleeping in the stroller on the go your plan. We planned our best so we wouldn’t be transferring on the shuttle between parks during naptime (they have to get out of the stroller on the shuttle), but otherwise he was so exhausted from all the fun he just conked out.

tips for traveling to disneyworld

Have a plan, but be flexible. 

I feel like that’s sort of the motto of most parents with toddlers, but it’s most definitely true for a trip to Disneyworld. I think with Disneyland you can sort of just go with the flow, but Disneyworld is so big with its four parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot) you need to decide what is your priority, what days you want to hit what, and time out your Fast Passes and which rides you want to hit at naptime versus when your kid is awake. That way you can make the most of your time. You obviously still have to go with the flow and not have crazy expectations you’ll hit it all because with a toddler in tow, because that just isn’t going to happen.

Prioritize your favorite rides and parks. 

Since my son is 2, Magic Kingdom was his favorite, but all the parks offered stuff exciting for his age. His favorite rides from each were the following (though we didn’t hit everything available):

Magic Kingdom: Flying Dumbos, Winnie the Pooh, Prince Charming Carousel, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Aladdin’s Flying Carpet, It’s a Small World, and Peter Pan. Also the fireworks show is an obvious favorite, but if you have more than one night there, I suggest doing one night in the front of the castle with the huge crowd, and another night over by the carousel behind the castle. That’s the spot in between the places they shoot them off, so not only is it fairly deserted, it also is super cool to be surrounded by fireworks in every direction of you!

Animal Kingdom: Petting zoo, Flying Triceratops, the Lion King show, and the animals on the Tree of Life. And from an adult perspective, don’t miss Expedition Everest! That’s worth the Fast Pass wait.

tips for traveling to disneyworld epcotEpcot: The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Finding Nemo Aquarium, Journey into Imagination with Figment (which took me right back to the early 90s…ha), and the Gran Fiesta Tour. The World Showcase is also great as it basically takes you through mini representations of countries all over the world showing off cultural features condensed into a little area and it’s a pretty walk. I highly recommend the crepes and gelato over by France and Italy!

Hollywood Studios: Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure (which I actually remember playing on as a kid!), Toy Story Midway Mania, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Also I have to say I think this probably had the least in terms of stuff for my 2-year-old, but it also probably had the most characters wandering around the park which made it easier to get pictures and meet and greets.

Overall, really just focus on letting your little one(s) enjoy the trip and don’t stress hitting it all. Seeing them take in the magic is so fun!

 

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The Cutest Toddler Leggings from Fancy Frogz

Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Mom tips, Reviews | 0 comments

Toddler arrow leggings

So I’m all about the printed leggings trend for toddlers, and as a boy mom I think it can be especially hard to find cute clothing that isn’t only focused on trucks or puppy dogs. When I first saw the leggings at Fancy Frogz I fell in love! From foxes clad in glasses to wild horses, their designs are simply adorable. I’m a graphic designer myself and I can be kind of particular in that realm, so that’s saying something.

The owner, Carola, is super sweet and I love supporting fellow mompreneurs. She shipped me off some leggings which arrived to me super fast. When I got them I was so impressed by the quality! The fabric is a soft, stretchy organic cotton which even held up to my son rough playing in them (much to mommy’s dismay since I didn’t want him to ruin them…boys!).

I love these arrows because they are so versatile to match lots of different things. So far I have paired these with basic tees and some of the tees I have made using vinyl designs from my Etsy shop. Adorbs!

fancyfrogz3

toddler arrow leggings

fancyfrogz4

What’s also great — they are perfect to wear for those evening parties since not only are they adorable and comfy, they could transition into jammies if your kiddo falls asleep on the drive home like my little guy always does. He wore them to a barbecue at my friend’s house the other night, and not only did we get many a compliment on them, but when it was time to go, I didn’t even worry about changing him before we left!

cute toddler outfit

ALSO she has a 20% off coupon THANKS20 running right now through June, so hurry on over and get your own! You can find them here.

Note: I did receive free product for this review, but my thoughts are my own.

 

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Baby’s First Year | Month-by-Month Photos

Posted by on May 5, 2015 in Mom tips, My Life | 0 comments

I’m just getting around to blogging Zach’s first year of baby photos. What?! I know, he’s two. But looking back now on how much he changed that first year is just so crazy. And, let’s be honest, makes me a tiny bit baby hungry. Just a tiny bit. Probably because I forgot how hard it was — motherhood is good like that.

Anyway, I had a lot of different ideas for his first year photos, but I decided to do one with both of us and cute little notes on how much he was growing and what new he was developing, mostly for my own memory! Plus it was fun to share with friends and family each month to get an update on my little guy. I also put a Sticky Bellies month by month stickers on him, and was really grateful to have been holding him for these toward the second half of  he year since he always wanted to roll away and take the sticker off otherwise! Ha!

Baby's First Year Month by Month photos

Looking at them all together is so fun, and I’m sure it will be fun to compare his development with his future sibling’s later down the road. My Zachy is just too cute!

For more ideas, check out my bestie’s blog with more ideas for documenting baby’s first year.

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Tips on Pacing Yourself Running

Posted by on May 3, 2015 in Health & Fitness, Running | 2 comments

pacing-yourself-while-running

In honor of my long run this week right smack dab in the middle of my eight week half marathon training, let’s talk about pacing! Last week I talked about how as a new runner, the two biggest things that have helped me stick to it and even enjoy running are 1) distracting myself and 2) pacing. Now I say “new runner” because it was only two years ago that I started actually running for myself and not just to give my dog exercise.

To give a little background, I have been struggling with my hatred of running my entire life. Yes hatred. Before I became a runner I literally would have told you I would prefer any other exercise over running. In junior high I could ice skate 5-6 days a week or dance for hours, but I swear I could barely survive a mile without dying. When I was in excellent shape in high school working on my Gold Medal figure skating tests plus going to the gym regularly it still was the bane of my existence. I tested out of gym to graduate early, and had to perform all these rigorous fitness tests. You know what was the hardest part for me? Running a 10 minute mile for three miles.

Here’s the problem — I didn’t know how to pace myself. Many other exercises I was used to, especially skating, were all about pushing yourself to your max in intervals. Because of this I would start out with all this energy, push myself too hard too fast, and then get a side ache that would kill the rest of the run for me or just tire myself out so my pace was waaaay slower after that first half mile.

The other part is the monotony of it, not even from a mental perspective (which is where the distracting comes in), but from a physical perspective really got to me. I would find myself super aware of using the same muscles and tendons over and over and over and only be able to focus on the discomfort of that.

That all being said, I went from struggling through a single mile without a break to happily running 13.1 miles without stopping. Right now I’m training for my fifth half marathon in two years (and ever for that matter). In this time that I’ve fallen in love with running, I have learned a ton about pacing myself and how to then push that pace to start getting faster!

Start slow.
When you first get going, you have all this energy and may want to rock your pace and see taking advantage of this early energy as a way to do so. Resist the temptation! Time and time again when I have done that I have a) gotten so tired I slow down the rest of the time or b) get such an awful side ache I’m forced to walk the rest of the way, not because I’m tired, but because I can’t make the cramping stop. Let yourself warm up for at least the first half mile to mile at a nice medium pace.

Keep going slower than you think.
Once you get in the groove, you may not know how fast you should really be going. Until I really learned my pace, my rule to myself was always to push it to about 60-70% of my ability. I wasn’t insanely out of breath, but it wasn’t necessarily easy either. This is particularly important for longer distances. That being said, for me my speed and how much I push it depends on how long my run is. If it’s a shorter run like 2-3 miles I might push myself a bit just because I know it will be over soon. If it’s longer I think of it in terms of “survival” and am a little more conservative. If you’re going at about 60% at the beginning, that same effort might feel harder at the end, but you can keep that same consistent pace. Then, as you get stronger, that same 60% effort takes you farther and faster!

Take deep breaths.
BREATHE! I cannot emphasize this enough. Learning how to properly control my breathing was a huge factor in learning to pace. When I would take lots of shallow breaths I would not only tire myself out, I would also dry out my mouth, give myself side aches, create tension in my body, and get exhausted from even small amounts of exertion. Different activities require different types of breathing, but I think Pilates-style breathing (deep in through the nose and blow out through the mouth) is what helped me most for running. A big part of training is actually conditioning your lungs, and getting all that oxygen in to your body makes a huge difference. If you have a hard time forcing yourself to take deep breaths slow down — if you can’t breathe deeply you’re going to fast. At the beginning it may even help you to count. 1, 2, 3, 4 in — 5, 6, 7, 8 out to the beat of your music.

Counteract your weak spots.
As I mentioned, running exacerbates the areas of the body you use most or your weak spots. For instance, with all my current training runs I have been really tight in my Achilles. It can hurt to the point that it’s almost impossible to focus on anything else. So I have found stretching really well before and sometimes in the middle of my runs helps a lot so it doesn’t slow me down the entire time. Also my calves can get really tight, but when I make sure to point my toe on my backward running stroke, it stretches that opposite muscle and helps my level of discomfort. Some people get really tense in their arms and shoulders and have to think about releasing and relaxing those areas. Knowing and understanding where your pain points are can help you counteract your weaknesses and gain better form overall!

Use a running app.
Using a running app like Map My Run, Runtastic, Nike+ GPS, or RunKeeper Pro can help you understand how fast you’re going. This helps you find your pace better and also know when you can push it. On that note…

Know when to push it!
This all being said, know when to push yourself. I like to have my running app tell me my current pace every quarter mile, which ends up being every couple minutes. For some, that would be too much, but for me it’s a reminder of when I’m getting slower or mentally cheering myself on when I am getting faster. That way I don’t generally get too off track from my goal for more than a half mile.

That’s all folks! What helps you pace yourself when you’re running?

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Homemade Hair Mask for Moisturizing

Posted by on Apr 28, 2015 in Beauty & Skincare | 1 comment

As I have mentioned before, my hair and scalp have the tendency to get dry and frizzy. Boo! I have written before about my regular essential oil scalp treatment, but from time to time it’s also good to treat my mane with a full on hair mask. I can’t even tell you how good this feels on your scalp when it’s cold! After it leaves your hair shiny and moisturized and if you have dandruff or a flaky scalp, this really helps nourish your skin at the roots of your hair. Since your roots at the scalp are the only part of your hair that is actually living, it’s a very important part to take care of!

Right before my shower (and after my muscle repair smoothie…note I used the other half of my banana for this), I whipped together a little DIY hair mask made of all natural ingredients found in my pantry.  I mean, it’s basically good enough to eat, so you technically could give it a try.

 moisturizing homemade hair mask f 
Lemon and yogurt are good for dry scalp and are known to get rid of dandruff. The acidity of lemon can dry out your hair, but honey and coconut oil help counteract that by moisturizing. Oatmeal is known for helping get rid of itchiness and dryness as well, while also promoting hair growth. Just make sure you wash all the oatmeal out of your hair completely, or it will look like flakes too! That’s why it’s best to use it pre-cooked.

Ingredients

1/2 banana

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons yogurt

1 tablespoon naturally refined coconut oil

1 tablespoon cooked oatmeal

Directions

Add all ingredients together and blend like a smoothie. Pour into a cup you’ll bring into the shower with you. Get your hair wet, and then part your hair, pouring a little of the mask directly onto your scalp. Massage it in, then move your hair to a new part and pour more. Continue this until your scalp is completely covered, then if you have extra, lather into the remaining hair. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes. This is a good time to shave your legs or chill in the bathtub! Then rinse out with lukewarm (not hot) water. Proceed to wash your hair like normal with a mild shampoo and conditioner.

 moisturizing diy hair mask 

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Muscle Repair Smoothie

Posted by on Apr 26, 2015 in Clean eating, Green Smoothies, Health & Fitness, Recipes | 0 comments

My my, yesterday was a doozy! I started my Saturday early to squeeze in my long run for the weekend (which I swear, nearly killed me), then rushed Zach off to swim lessons, dropped him off and spent the rest of the day busting my butt moving boxes around and out of my house. We’re getting ready to sell, so it’s not a full move yet, but we are limiting what’s here to just the stuff we need for daily use so we can stage it. So after 6 miles and about a billion times up and down the stairs of my house with our belongings, my body is sore!

I had a protein shake right after my run and I should have had one last night so my body could repair while I was sleeping, but I’m made another this morning. 

Also, there’s some method t my madness! Below is a breakdown of all the ingredients and why they are good for muscle repair. 

 muscle repair smoothie 
Pineapple is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and nutrients that help with tissue growth and healing.

Bananas are full of fast-acting carbs that help your body rebuild damaged muscles and potassium that helps with tightness and cramping.

Blueberries are full of antioxidants. Some studies have shown they can help triple the rate of recovery for muscles.

Cucumbers are actually filled with most of the nutrients we need in a day! They have the sugars, minerals, amino acids and vitamins that human bodies crave after exertion.

Protein increases muscle protein synthesis after exercise which promotes muscle build and repair.

Chia seeds are about 20% protein, which exceeds the protein content of most other grains and seeds. They are also full of antioxidants which help repair muscles.

Muscle Repair Smoothie

1/4 cup frozen blueberries 

1/4 cup frozen pineapple 

1/2 banana 

A couple slices of cucumber 

Scoop of protein powder 

Water 

Chia seeds sprinkled on top

 

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