Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Happy National Coffee Day + New Coffee Subscription Box

Today, National Coffee Day, is the perfect day to introduce a new coffee concept to all the coffee lovers. Angels Cup was nice enough to send me four different kinds of coffee to try. The packages are small, but enough for approximately 4 cups of coffee and you can always order a larger bag. It is a fun tasting experience and gave me something to look forward on my Tuesday morning. 

I used my Keurig single reusable filters for this tasting so that I could make 4 individual cups instead of a large pot. Upon arrival of the coffee I stored each in the freezer for maximal freshness (a trick I learned from my Mom). I took them out this morning by random and wrote down a note for each of what I tasted. The first was definitely a light grape taste, the second I tasted chocolate, the third cup was hints of berry, and the last one I couldn't point to something specific, but it was the lightest roast in my opinion. My favorite brew was my fourth cup (#0215). The cheat sheet (included)  listed this one as flavors of coconut, cherry, pineapple and cashew. Looking at this before I started I did not think I would like this one since I don't like coconut or pineapple. So, that was a surprise. The packages only show the number so I had no idea which one I was tasting each time. My least favorite was #0214 (my second cup). Also surprising since it has hints of chocolate. I thought for sure I would enjoy that one. On a side note, I only put milk in my coffee. No creamer and no sugar. 

The company also has an app, "Angels Cup," in which you can compare your notes with others. You can also find them on Facebook. You can order on the website at Angels Cup, select your package and your brew (whole bean, coarse grind or fine grind) and how often you would like to receive the coffee. 

This would make a great gift with the Holidays coming up for a coffee lover or for someone who likes to try new things. I'm thinking it's also a great gift for a Secret Santa. I received the Black Box, which is $19.99. There is also the Cupping Flight for only $8.99 plus shipping. However, for one week you can save 25% with the code "LUSCIOUS2015." I highly recommend it if you love coffee and trying new brews or to give as a gift!


Disclaimer: Angels Cup gifted me this coffee box of four samples to try. However, all thoughts and opinions are mine.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

First Day of Fall: Checklist

Fall Checklist

We have already decorated for Fall and Halloween and are looking forward to fun fall activities! What is on your to do list this season?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2015 Summer Check List in Pictures

I know I didn't blog much this summer and that's because it's been filled with excursions, daytime adventures, swimming, picnics and vacations. Even on our lazy days we did a summer craft or baked cookies or blueberry bread. This truly has been the best summer of our lives because of our kids. There is nothing like acting like a kid yourself, laughing everyday and seeing them so happy and full of life. This post is more for me and having the memory on my blog!

Strawberry Picking (mid-June)

We went to the beach twice- one week just the 4 of us and another week with my parents and my brother and his family (our annual beach trip).
 The girls played so well together in the sand baking cakes and Nick and I could actually relax and have a conversation. They loved playing in the little lagoons and riding the waves with the "belly boards" (Ellie's term for boogie boards).

Flying a Kite (at the beach). Girls loved this!

Summer Concerts

Art Splash at the Art Museum (Ellie went with Grandmom and a cousin)
Outdoor Fun at the Art Museum

Franklin Square with cousins and Grandmom. I wish I got a picture of all of us! We played at the playground, played mini golf, and had burgers and milkshakes at Shake Shack.

One of the trips I really wanted to do this summer since the girls were at a good age was Dutch Wonderland. I'm so glad we did this. It was so much fun!! We literally spent 7 hours there and only stopped to eat lunch. We went on almost every ride. I thought Summer wouldn't do the rides because she didn't want to at the shore, but I acted very excited about them and she caught on. In the picture below she is on her first ride with just Ellie and is happy! The girls cooled off in the middle of the day at the water park, which is designed just for kids. They both went on the mini water slides and under the water fountains. I did not have my suit so I took pictures and video (and got to relax for a bit). I highly recommend this place!

We had our first cousins sleepover with my niece and nephew. The four of them played, we had dinner and ice cream sundaes for dessert and watched Up with popcorn.

Local Farm to Pick Flowers with Grandmom

Elmwood Zoo 
Fed giraffes and the birds

We also had orange cherry tomatoes and small peppers in our garden this year. I've used the peppers in cooking and the girls love picking the tomatoes. My Mom planted these for us, as well as all the flowers in our garden. It is so beautiful because of her hard work. One of these days I will have time to learn from her and attempt to do it myself! I have taken very good care of it this year and the girls happily help me water the garden and weed with me.

Grill Peaches
This was something I really wanted to try this summer, too. So delicious!

I don't think I have every said this statement as summer is ending, "I'm actually looking forward to the fall." Not necessarily the colder temps, but getting back into a routine, Halloween, and pumpkin muffins. I love the summer time. I even named my daughter, Summer! It's been so busy and know Ellie going to school 3 days/week will keep us just as busy, but I'm excited for Halloween and the other holidays coming up. I just want time to slow down!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

My 36th Birthday Recap + A New Breakfast Muffin Recipe

My birthday was last Monday and I had a wonderful day, but it was right in the middle of a job I was working on for my company. I was up till 2am from last Friday (the day I realized I had more work than I initially thought) to Tuesday. Saturday night (the 12th) Nick and I went to one of our favorite sushi restaurants for dinner. I can't stop thinking about the sushi. Those are mashed sweet potatoes, which we were surprised to see on the menu. They were so good along with the fried ice cream we had for dessert.
I wore my new jeans that I can't say enough good things about. I love the gray, the destroyed look (or broken, as Ellie says) and they are so comfortable.
Sunday night my parents had us over for dinner (Thai pasta and shrimp) and dessert. I had to get a picture of this cake. My parents have been getting all of their cakes at Whole Foods and they are so delicious. I highly recommend their bakery. However, my Mom has baked the best chocolate cake ever. We were just talking about how she hasn't made one in a while, but she definitely will once she retires!
Monday morning I was woken by Ellie and Summer jumping on my bed and giving me balloons, flowers and my present. This present was my favorite gift because it was so meaningful. I burned my hand baking the girls' birthday cake last April and when Ellie found out I burned myself she came up with the idea that she was going to buy me an oven mitt- in pink, of course! She talked about it for weeks, then said it would be my gift for Mother's Day. That didn't happen and she talked about it periodically and much more recently when I burned my arm cooking dinner a couple weeks ago. My husband finally got the hint that Ellie was serious about buying me an oven mitt so I wouldn't burn myself anymore. I got a bright pink oven mitt that I love! And, it works so well I want to buy another. Ellie is so thoughtful!
We went out to breakfast at the diner that morning, then I took a nap (since I was up so late) and Nick took the girls to the playground. He had off that day for the Jewish holiday. Afterwards, we went to Morris Auboredum- my favorite place. We are members, but haven't been there very often lately. It was a beautiful day- in the 70s, sunny and not a cloud in the sky. I brought the camera and took lots of pictures. It was great to spend the afternoon as a family. I left early to go to my massage appointment. It was also nice to have some quality spa time. I had an amazing 50 minute massage. Next time it will be 80 minutes! The Eagles played their first game that night so I happily put the girls to bed myself. We read more books than usual and I snuggled between them. I am one lucky mommy and wife. It was the best birthday yet!
 // Pictures at Morris Auboredum //
Gorgeous view from the top of the hill
 Ellie insisted on standing up here by herself. We were just a little nervous!
Walking towards the cabin (tucked away in the woods). It reminds me of Goldilocks and The Three Bears.
 So precious!
My best friend, Lauren, was so generous and sent me this beautiful "E" bracelet. It goes well with my Stella and Dot bracelet so I will be wearing it often!
Tomorrow is Ellie's official first day of school. Last week her and I went to school for an hour to meet her teacher and half of her class. I'm very happy with her teachers this year and am confident she will be prepared for Kindergarten next year. The girls have been tired of their regular breakfast (waffles, pancakes or yogurt) so I am determined to make something new every Sunday and keep in the fridge or freezer to heat throughout the week. I have pinned a lot of yummy breakfast ideas. Today I made these delicious muffins (I had to try one!). I like that they are flourless and contain pumpkin and oats. They have a lot of flavor. I used less mini chocolate chips than the recipe called for and almond milk (Whole Foods brand). My girls have not liked any bread or muffin I've made with banana so I'm hoping these will be on rotation this year. We will pair these with fruit in the morning. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Life Lately

On Labor Day we took a two hour walk, run, and hike as a family. It was beautiful weather and a lot of fun. We need to do this more often. We brought the double Bob stroller with us, but Ellie was out the entire time and Summer, most of the time. Ellie and I ran together for at least 10 minutes at one time and at a few times Summer joined us. It was great to run with Ellie and Summer by my side. When I was pregnant with Ellie I would think about doing this one day with her. I'm glad she enjoys running at age 4!
After our hike we had lunch, then went to the pool until dinner. Ellie swam underwater for the first time! The past week or so she started dunking her head under and Monday she put the two together. Up until last week she would only swim with her head out of the water. I didn't want to push her into doing it when she wasn't ready. I am so proud of her and I know she is so proud of herself. We will definitely keep up with the swimming and get her into lessons during the year so she will be free of the puddle jumpers for next summer.

Summer started saying mommy and daddy last weekend. Except she emphasizes the words and says "mom-mee" and "dad-dee." It sounds so cute, but I also love when she calls me "mama." She is saying so many new words these days I can't keep up anymore. She loves to say "watch!" and "weet" (wait!) and "me!" (of course). One of the funniest things she says is "not!" She means to say "Ellie is not doing it," but she shortens it to just "not" instead of "no." We don't correct her or Ellie with anything they say because we love the way their minds think and speak. It won't stay this way forever. 

Ellie is all about saying when she will do things in terms of weeks or ages. For example, "when I'm 6 I will sleep in a bed all by myself all through the night." And, "in 17 weeks I will do ballet."

This week they filled up their Happy Jars and I rewarded them with a trip to Toys 'R Us for a new toy. Their limit was $20 each and they both picked out $10 toys (works for me!). Ellie picked out two new My Little Ponies and Summer chose a mermaid baby. They were very excited!
Sunday night for dinner I had homemade pesto sauce in the fridge so I used that to make pesto pasta (the girls favorite). I also made shrimp kabobs on the grill. The girls love seafood and Ellie couldn't get enough of the shrimp. For dessert, I had ripened peaches and have been wanting to make grilled peaches all summer. I finally was able to make them before the girls got to them first. I looked on Pinterest and found a ton of recipes.
Grilled Brown Sugar Peaches

I washed them first, cut them in half and removed the pit. I sprayed our grill and heated on medium high heat. I first placed the peaches skin side down for about 5 minutes. Then, I sprinkled brown sugar on the flesh side and flipped them over for another 5 minutes. The results were amazing. So delicious! Would have been even better with vanilla ice cream, but also may have been too filling. I had a half of a peach with the brown sugar and it was so satisfying! 

I wanted to share a few things I bought from Trader Joe's. There are so many goodies in this store my list could go on and on of my favorite items. First, these mini pancakes are perfect for busy or quick mornings or for a snack. Summer loves them. I am addicted to these pita crackers. My Mom just informed me yesterday that they also have a whole wheat version. These mini ice cream cones are kid-sized. I try not to have one since it's never just one. They are perfect for the girls. Instead of the ice cream I will eat a few of these trail mix cookies. They are so good!

This cold brew coffee caught my eye. I haven't been drinking coffee lately, but find myself needing something some mornings when I don't get enough sleep. Sunday afternoon I had a late cup (1 part coffee to 2 parts skim milk) and I had trouble falling asleep that night. Yesterday morning I had another cup early in the morning and I felt jittery the rest of the day. I've never felt that way from coffee before and maybe it's because I haven't been drinking it. It is really good though. If I have another cup I'm going to do a half part and see how I feel. I'm not going back to drinking it everyday. I was drinking so much last winter and when I cut it out completely I had headaches at first, but believe it or not I had more energy, my mind felt clearer, and I felt better. I don't feel like I need it everyday now, but I like the taste of it.

I'm working on our summer recap post and a few house updates. Check back soon!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Labor Day Sales

This is a great time to replenish your fall wardrobe. Tons of sales this weekend! I had a chance to get to the mall this morning for an hour. I needed to replace my favorite leggings (my first pair lasted me 3 years and one pregnancy):

I skimmed over Gap's sale rack (for next year), but didn't find anything I liked. I did pick up this shirt for Ellie. Everything at Gap is 40% off. My Mom just dropped off some adorable clothing she had gotten for Ellie at Gap, which is so great because she didn't have much for the fall!
I recently picked up this shirt and I love the color:

More favorites:

Most of my shopping these days is online. On Thursday I ordered 2 more of my new favorite tee. I have it in white and ordered the pink and black. Fall essentials are 30% off and an additional 30% off sale (this tee is included).

I also ordered this dress from Tea Collection for Ellie. You can save 20% on everything plus free shipping. 

 Last night I watched Age of Adaline On Demand. Highly recommend! This morning I slept in until 8, then went running at a park, had breakfast at Corner Bakery, and did a few errands at the mall. I only had 2 hours to myself before my husband had to leave for work. We are headed to the pool shortly for a play date with Ellie's friend and have my nephew's 6th birthday party tomorrow. The rest of the long weekend will be spent outdoors and the pool. Have a great Holiday weekend!

** Affiliate links are included in this post. These are all items I have bought and items I would purchase for myself.