Monday, August 31, 2015

Weekend Recap: Insanity Live and The Stein & Vine

Hey there!! How is everyone?

This past weekend was the last official weekend of our summer! Enter mixed emotion emoji here. Sophia was off and on with her excitement all weekend. It went between "I can't wait for school!" and "Why is summer over?!" I was the same way. 

We didn't have much stuff planned this weekend, because I thought a good weekend of little to no plans was needed before "the big day". 

Saturday we attended a live Insanity class at the gym. Angelo & I did the Insanity program back in 2012, after I had Sophia. I 100% believe in it and 100% think it's the hardest workout program ever. I wish I would of taken a video of this class. Everyone was drenched in sweat, the room was a hot mess, and the windows were completely fogged up. Excellent. 
The instructor was a fellow Tampa Bay Blogger, Katrina Elle. During the class I kept thinking about how familiar she looked, then it hit me when she said her name was Katrina! What a small world. 

Saturday afternoon we had a birthday party for one of Sophia's friends at a bounce house place in town. The girls, and Angelo, had a blast sliding down the huge slides, running through the blow up obstacle course, and trying the hurricane simulator. Basically a Bonnaroo for Kids in there. 

The past two Sundays after church we've been picking out a new restaurant to try, and we've decided this needs to be a weekly occurrence. 
As you know, we love trying new foods and restaurants! 
This week's foodie adventure was The Stein & Vine in Brandon, Fl.  
The Stein & Vine has been around for about 3 years now and I can't believe we've never been. I guess I was judging a book by it's cover, which you should never do...right?! 

It's a tiny place in a Big Lots plaza. From Bloomingdale Ave, you can only see the big red "PUB" sign and the place doesn't look very family friendly. I kept telling Angelo we needed to take a date night there, but as you may know, those are few and far inbetween.

After talking to a friend about it the other day, she told me it's definitely kid-friendly, especially during the day. They open at noon daily, so I thought it'd be a perfect place to go to after church with the family.

After ordering some beers (their local, craft beer selection is pages long), we ordered the Tater Tots appetizer, all the way. All the way in Stein & Vine terms means tater tots topped with chili, cheese, onions, bacon, and a fried egg, with sour cream for dipping. My girl's had never seen a tater tot before and were reluctant to try them. They ended up liking them, but only the plain ones that hadn't been touched by the chili yet. (Sophia is in this food stage where all her foods must be separate, not touching each other at all.)
Angelo & I were quite the opposite and went to town! I think an egg just about goes on top of anything right now!
For our entrees, we ordered 2 burgers, and a kid's chicken for the girls.

Angelo ordered the Double Funk Bomber burger which is stuffed with an aged gorgonzola & Bleu cheese blend, topped with onion rings and a mustard aioli. 
I ordered the PB&J Burger, only because I was told this burger is phenomenal. If I would of never heard that from a 3rd party, I would of never ordered it, because the description just sounds funny to me. From the menu: "Lacey burger stuffed w/ our blend of concord grape jelly & creamy peanut butter then topped w/ apple-wood smoked bacon & cheddar cheese. Trust us."

I trusted them, and I was VERY surprised! From the picture it looks like a regular bacon cheeseburger, but once I cut it in half, the creamy peanut butter oozed out and things got real. 
I mean, does that sound appetizing to you? Have you ever eaten peanut butter on a hamburger before?! No's not normal! But it was bizarrely tempting and pleasant! 
I was told this isn't always on the menu, since their menu changes daily, so if it's on the menu when you visit The Stein & Vine, I suggest you give your taste buds the pleasure. You owe it to them on the weekend...right? ;) 

The rumors were true. The Stein & Vine is a must-go-to place in Brandon and I'm so glad it's there! Brandon needs more places like this, and I believe they are slowly growing around town. The Stein & Vine can definitely hang with the big boys...I'm looking at you South Tampa & Seminole Heights. 

The rest of Sunday was spent in our bathing suits because that's what you do when you eat enough for one day in one sitting. 

This morning Nelps & I dropped Sophia off for her first day of VPK! 
Why does time go by so fast?! She was so ready and I'm so proud of the little lady she has become. 
She walked in her class, wrote her name down on the sign in sheet (WHAT?!) and told me she'd miss me. ;) 
For the rest of the day I'll be crying in the corner waiting for 2:30 pm to come around so I can see how Sophia's first day went! 


Join the conversation:
Did you try any new restaurants this weekend?
Have you ever judged a restaurant by it's outside appearance?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Recipe: Banana Blueberry Oatmeal Bake

Hey there! 

You know what's not so great about trying out new recipes? They don't always work out and you're left thinking about all those ingredients you just wasted. It's a bummer.

Monday was not a good baking day. I was trying to new "healthy" protein oatmeal bake and it was absolutely horrible. I couldn't even finish one bite of it. Gag... 
You're probably thinking how in the world do you mess up baked oatmeal? Well, you add too much protein powder and too many egg white. It happens.

So, I had to redeem myself, and boy did I! 

This oatmeal bake is delicious and perfect for a make-ahead breakfast. 
School is about to start and mornings are going to get hectic again. This will be perfect for those busy mornings! Scoop some in a bowl, pop in microwave, and serve. 

Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Bake

What you’ll need:
2 bananas, sliced
1 ½ cup blueberries
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
2 cups almond milk
1 egg
1 tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup pure maple syrup

What you do:
Preheat oven to 375
Grease the inside of a baking pan, I used a 9in round pan.
Place banana slices on bottom of pan to cover. Top with half of blueberries.
Mix all dry ingredients (oatmeal, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt) together in a medium bowl.
In another bowl, mix wet ingredients together (milk, egg, butter, vanilla, and syrup).
Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix well.
Pour oatmeal mixtures into baking pan and let sit for a minute or two to ensure liquid makes it to the bottom of pan. You may want to slightly tap the pan on the counter.
Sprinkle the rest of the blueberries over the top.
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until top of golden brown.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: Dining At Cinderella's Castle

For Sophia's birthday we made reservations to dine at Cinderella's Castle inside Magic Kingdom. This was our first experience having to make a reservation 6 months in advance with a $150 deposit for a four year old's birthday.

Yes, you read that right. Disney reservations is a cut-throat business!

My food expectations weren't too high for this. I wasn't expecting to eat the best meal I'd ever eaten. It's Disney and there is a line of 1 million toddlers behind you waiting to do the exact same thing. I was expecting a great experience though. 

Our dinner reservations were at 4 pm (the only time slot available when I booked it 6 months prior). 
We were roaming around the park before these reservations, so we weren't in fancy attire at all. In fact, we were hot, sweaty, and needed a shower. Same with everyone else in there. 

This view never gets old and Sophia's face lights up every time she sees it.

When you first walk in you are greeted with a ring of the castle bell and a holler of your family name. Then you're waiting in line to take a picture with Cinderella. 

After meeting the princess, you are taken up a winding stair case into large room with vaulted ceilings and banner kingdom flags. 
This is what you are paying for. 
Once we sat down we were greeted by a elegant waiter. He played the part and spoke to us with such royalty, calling us lady, sir, princess, and queen. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the menu. There were no french fries, burgers, or pizza on the menu.. I don't know why, but I was totally expecting them. 

All meals, including the children's, including an appetizer, entree, and dessert.

The appetizers:
The girl's ordered the cheese and grape bowls.

Angelo & I shared the Castle Salad: Mixed Greens, Apples, Cucumbers, and Candied Walnuts topped with shaved Romano Cheese with a hint of Herb Vinaigrette

and the "Royal Tasting of Cheese"

The Entrees: 

Seasonal Gnocchi with Roasted Vegetables: Eggplant, Mushrooms, Onions, and Squash tossed with Gnocchi, Arugula, Brown Butter Sauce, and finished with shaved Drunken Goat Cheese and Leeks

Pan-seared All-Natural Chicken served with Farro Risotto, Seasonal Vegetables, Rendered Pancetta, and Poultry Jus

All the food was appealing and satisfying. Add a little salt and you got yourself a great meal. 

The Dessert: 

The Castle Signature Dessert: Chocolate Tart with Caramel, Hazelnut, Chocolate Sauce, Raspberry Sauce, and Gelato

The Princess Birthday Dessert: 
This was an up-charge and add-on for Sophia's birthday.

I didn't get any pictures of the girl's entrees, and to be honest they barely touched them. Sophia ordered the Beef Tenderloin and only ate the corn. Penelope ordered the Roasted Chicken leg and only are maybe a bite or two. 
Maybe we should of stuck with the chicken nuggets...I think they were too entertained and excited about all the princess's stopping by our table. 

Would I do it again? Maybe in a couple years for another birthday celebration. 
I didn't do this for the food and I wouldn't recommend someone to do it just for the food. I did it for Sophia to DINE IN CINDERELLA'S CASTLE. We could of ordered a 4-count from Chic-fila and brought it inside to eat and it would of been just as magical for her. 

If you're child is into Cinderella or any Disney Princess it's a must do. You sit down to eat and the princesses come to you! No standing in lines for hours to get a picture. 

In Sophia's words, "My favorite part was talking to the princesses".


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Running without Headphones

Hi sweet friends! How did your week start off? I hope on the right foot! 

Speaking of's post is:

I ran a race without headphones and this is what I heard:

"How were they allowed on the course" 
This is from a person complaining about our stroller and I heard him say this while we were passing him. I wanted to turn around and say "eat our stroller dust!" but I didn't. I understand strollers may be a nuisance to people at the front of the pack, really trying to get a certain time, but that's why strollers start in the back of the crowd. Also, the two people I heard complain about our stroller were walking. We maybe inconvenienced them for a total of 0.7 seconds when they had to move a pinky toe to get out of our path. Another thing, this was a Zoo 5K, not a Boston Marathon. 

"That's great you have them here with you" 
So opposite from what we just heard someone else say 1/3 a mile back. Every time I see someone running with a stroller I want to give them a high five. It's not easy running with a stroller, and at times it may seem like the worst idea ever (like when your child is screaming to get out). But jogging strollers have been a saving grace to me. At a time in my life when I was a stay at home mom to a 6 month old and just needed to get out of the house sometimes. 

"When is this over?!"
I love when I hear someone say this because it usually gets a response from someone else. Either a laugh, a "I hope soon!", or the actual answer to how much longer there is to run. 

"Finish strong!" 
A lady at the three mile mark kept yelling "Finish strong!" over and over again at everyone passing by. She was encouraging everyone to give that last 0.1 mile their all. This doesn't sound like much but when you see someone stop to walk with only 0.1 mile left to go, you look to see if they have headphones in because you know they need to hear those "Finish Strong" words.

That brings me to....

5 Reasons You Should Run a 5K...Without Headphones

1. There is a community out there.
Although there will be some people not so motivating along the way (see above), the majority of runners will be cheering you on, cracking jokes, or saying something to give you that extra boost you needed.There are also people on the side lines yelling out encouragement or funny running sayings like "This is the worst parade ever!" :)

2. There is nature out there.
A race is set on a pretty thought out course, that may include beautiful scenery or architecture. Trust me when I tell you, you will not enjoy any scenery as much as you will without music blasting in your ears. It's kind of like when you turn down the radio when you're trying to follow directions in the car. There is sure to be entertainment for your eyes and ears along the way. 

3. It's safer.
Running without headphones allows you to hear other runners, dogs, or someone who might need your attention. If you're pushing a stroller you definitely need to be able to hear your child in the stroller. By removing the headphones, you remove the risk. 

4. Don't depend of the music. 
When you're used to running with music, you start depending on it. You depend on those fast upbeat songs to get you through a rough patch, and you may get annoyed when a slow jam comes on, slowing your pace. I've read that your music needs to be at least 90 beats per second to keep you at a good pace, but don't let music determine your race.

5. Less to carry or worry about.
Without worrying about having your playlist ready, or if you forgot your headphones or phone carrier, you have nothing left to worry about other than running. It's a little freeing. 

I know running without music isn't for everyone. Some people listen to podcasts or books on tape. I know music makes running ENJOYABLE for some. You will probably NEVER see me running on the treadmill without music, because running on treadmill almost requires music or TV. That's why I'm encouraging you to just take a little run outside without headphones, then do a 5k without headphones. See if you like it. If you don't, you can always turn the music back on!


Monday, August 24, 2015

Weekend Recap: ZooRun & CASK Social

Friends! How are you?!

First, let me congratulate all my giveaway winners! Winners were randomly chosen (out of a hat, picked by Sophia) and notified on Friday evening. 

I'm up early today, getting breakfast ready, and bags packed for a busy day! This is officially our last week of summer, so we're gong to make it 7 AMAZING days! A lot of stuff on the the point where I'm probably stressing myself a little too much. School may be starting but we always have next weekend and probably the next 15 weekends until the weather doesn't feel like summer anymore. Gotta love Florida.

Nelpe doesn't start school until November (when she's two), so she still has 3 more months of summer. Although it'll be a more boring kind of summer without her sister and following me to the office most days. Poor Nelps... :) 

Many of your kids have already started school or will be tomorrow (in Hillsborough County). Anyone celebrating with breakfast cocktails?! Mimosa anyone?

This weekend was a blast! 
Friday night we stayed in and ate pizza. Angelo said he needed carbs for the race on Saturday morning. It was a 5k, but he'll say anything if it means he gets to eat pizza. 

Saturday morning we woke up early for the Zoo Run 5k at Lowry Park Zoo. This race was one of the best 5ks I have ever run. The course was mostly shaded and half of the run was in and around the zoo. We stopped for a brief minute so the girl's could look at the monkeys and turtles during the race. They were such troopers the entire time. 

This was the first race (in the past couple years) that I ran without headphones. Usually I'm a music person 100% when I run. I used to think it was the only thing that kept me going but for some reason I didn't even want it that morning. It's kind of a freeing experience, if you're used to running with headphones in. It was very interesting, to say the least, so stay tuned for a post this week: "I ran a race without headphones and this is what I heard..." 
Saturday afternoon we had a coed baby shower to attend and celebrate a precious little boy making his arrival soon! 

Sunday was a no plans day. After church Angelo asked what I wanted to eat. I gave him 2 options, he added a third, and we chose Cask Social in South Tampa.

Opening in June, I've wanted to give CASK a try ever since. I've read and seen so many delicious things about it. 
CASK (an acronym for Craft A'fare Social Kitchen) has an old Southern/Industrial feel to it. The decor is rather simple, although definitely something to look at with exposed brick and wood planked walls. 
We arrived to CASK at 1pm, thinking we may have missed the brunching fun, but CASK serves Brunch on Sundays until 4pm. Perfect, because brunching is my favorite. 
Angelo is more a burger person, so he was all smiles when he saw burgers on the menu!
After looking at the menu, we ordered a round of beers (they have a great local craft beer selection) and were served a bucket of Brown Sugar & Cornflake Popcorn. 
Instead of a starter like bread, CASK serves different flavored popcorn throughout the week. I love popcorn, so it was a great start for me. 

For our meals:
The Big Bird. 
Sweet Potato waffles and buttermilk fried chicken served with a spicy bourbon syrup and spiced watermelon. The waffles had the perfect sweetness to them which would have been delicious on their own, but adding the chicken just took it to the next level. By far the best tasting Chicken & Waffles I've ever had. 
 The Morning Moo. 
Angus burger topped with bourbon bacon onion jam (can I get some of that in a jar to-go?!), fried egg, arugula, provolone, and spiced mayo served on a brioche bun.
I took one bite of this to taste because I looked over 2 minutes later and the plate was clean.  I can say Angelo was quite impressed.  

The girls ordered a hamburger and chicken off the kid's menu. The kid's hamburger was huge (in a good way) and the chicken was the same chicken served on my waffles. They are not skimpy with the kid's meals and they are served with the same supremacy as the others. 

Overall, CASK Social is a win! The atmosphere and food were wonderful. A breath of fresh air in the South Tampa restaurant scene. I look forward to returning to try some of their mason jar cocktails and supper options. 

We ended the weekend on this note:

I hope everyone enjoyed great company and heavenly food this weekend!


Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Faves

Hey friends!  Happy Friday!

This week FLEW by for me! So much so that I forgot to do payroll yesterday! You know your life is going in 10 different directions when you forget to pay your employees, along with yourself! Geesh. 
Don't worry...all checks were cut at 6 a.m. this morning and everyone got their Friday payday. Does this mean I win the Best Boss Ever award? Probably not. ;) LOL

Before we go on to Friday Faves, you MUST enter all three (3) giveaways that are closing in a few hours! For more details Click HERE!

Friday Faves!
YSL Touche Eclat Blur Primer & Blur Perfector
I received these products in my first Influenster VoxBox and have been using them for the past 3 weeks. I don't like to do reviews on skin products until I get to use them for more than a week or so.  I think some things are amazing for the first couple days, then either your face breaks out or it just doesn't seem to work like it did in the beginning.

This wasn't the case with these YSL Touche EClat products.

The purpose of these products is to help one achieve "perfectly blurred" skin, something you'd hope to see by using Instagram filters. You know the look, the perfect soft skin with no visible pores or fine lines. 

The box contained two products: 

The Primer is a light weight gel/liquid that contain gold specs. (Don't worry, the gold specs don't show up on your skin like Edward Cullen.) It contains 4 nourishing oils, leaving your skin incredibly soft, like velvet, with a glow!

The Perfector comes in a compact case and transforms from a balm to powder when applied to the skin. It can be used 3 different ways: alone as a complexion perfector, to set your makeup, or as a through-out the day touch up product. 

While I liked both products, I absolutely LOVED the Blur Primer! I used the primer before putting on makeup each day. I used the Perfector a few times as a "touch up" tool later in the day and I'm not one to remember to touch up my makeup throughout the day. These products are definitely worth the spurge for me. I took a dangerous stroll through Sephora on Wednesday to purchase a full size Blur Primer. I discovered their YSL Touche Eclat Illuminating Foundation, that I will grab on my next foundation purchase!
 One of us is wearing YSL Touche Eclat, and the other one is drooling... ;)

Watermelon Cake! 
I'm strangely obsessed with this cake I made yesterday. My dad asked for a "refreshing" dessert for his birthday, instead of a traditional cake. I think we may be caked out from eating cake left overs all last week from Sophia's birthday.
At first I was thinking about making individual parfaits, but then I saw this idea on Pinterest and knew it was the chosen one!  I will be making this cake many more times in the future.

Quick side note: You know the almond slivers on the side of the cake? How would you put those on? I did it by throwing them on the cake hoping they'd stick. And it worked, but I know there has to be a better way. How do they make those cakes with the perfectly sprinkled sides? I guess YouTubing it will work.

I'm totally late to the plaid game, but I'm in love. Flannel makes everything look so comfy, cozy, and Fall! Is flannel a Fall staple every year or just a current trend? Either way, I'm ready to rock some flannel!
Around the waist, for hot summer days. 

Can you believe Summer is quickly coming to an end?! For some it's already over and Back to School is real life.  For our household, we have one more week of summer left! I'm going to go over my "Summer Bucketlist" and pick out some stuff to do to end out the summer. 

On the planner this weekend we have a 5k race and a coed baby shower to attend. Plus some boring stuff like laundry...

What's on your weekend's agenda?


Thursday, August 20, 2015

FitSnack Subscription Box Review

Last month I received my first Fit Snack subscription Box. 
If you aren't familiar with Fit Snack, it is a monthly subscription box for "healthy" on-the-go snacks. They have 4 different plans available, starting at $23.90 a month. Each month you receive a box (pictured above) full of 7-10 products that are GMO free, high in protein, organic, raw, or vegan. You will either get a sample of the product, or full sized. 

From the website: Perfect on-the go, guilt-free snacks just for you. 
We are a deluxe snack box. Every month is different and each box is packed with at least $30.00 in value.

Let's go inside July's Fit Snack Box:

1. Yummari Endurance Bites: I received the Chocolate Banana flavor Yummari bite. This is my first introduction to Yummari products, and the texture and taste reminded me of Lara Bars. Also, I loved the ingredient list! This is a keeper endurance snack and I would love to try the Chocolate Chip & Coffee flavor!

2. Columbia County Flax Granola: I received the Fruit & Berry Flax Granola. At first I thought it was really strange, only because it's different. Instead of your normal granola made with oats, this is made with Flax seed. This granola is nut free, vegan, paleo, gluten free, and made without refined sugars. I used this granola on top of a smoothie bowl I made at home, and while it's definitely different, I thought it was good and a great additional to my bowl! 

3. Skinny Pop Popcorn: I've purchase huge bags of Skinny Pop Popcorn from Costco in the past. This single serving sized bag was gone within 10 minutes of the box being opened. Perfect snack! 

4. Justin's Nut Butter: I LOVED this little nut butter to-go. It was the Hazelnut Butter flavor, which I've never had before. It was deliciously paired with a banana for a quick and healthy snack. 

5. Honey Stinger Energy Chews: I've used Honey Stinger brand chews before for different races. I'm a fan. These were the grapefruit flavored chews. The only problem I have with Honey Stinger brand chews is the size of the packaging, and no where to put them during a race. But the flavor is great and they melt in your mouth! Also, they don't hurt my stomach, which is a major plus! 

6. Level Life Protein Bars: I'm always skeptical on protein bars, especially ones that are dessert flavored.  They are a hit-or-miss with me, and I have to say I wasn't a fan of these. I I ate half of one bar and couldn't finish it. Also, I wasn't a huge fan of the ingredient list. 

7. Trophy Nut Roasted Peanuts: You can't go wrong with roasted nuts...right?! These peanuts were enjoyed on our road-trip to Disney last weekend! Perfect "fit snack!" 

8. Musclewerks DeTrim Capsules: I threw these out almost immediately. I'm not into weight loss pills and I was very surprised to find these in a FitSnack box. 

Overall the Fit Snack was a great first experience! I enjoyed a majority of the products I received and I'm glad I wasn't familiar with them. I love being introduced and trying new products!

I have to say I was kind of turned off when I saw the DeTrim capsules... as weight loss/diet pills don't exactly say "healthy snack" to me. But that's another blog post...

I can't wait to see what's in this month's Fit Snack Box!!

If you're interested in trying a Fit Snack Subscription Box, click this link for more info!