National Ice Cream Day: 5 at home and 5 for the road

There is no denying it is officially summer in Minnesota. The time of year when everyone becomes an avid runner or biker, patio furniture makes its much-lauded return, and my love for ice cream is on full display.

The rest of my family could (and does) eat ice cream even when the snow is flying and the temperatures dip well below zero, but for me to really enjoy the icy cold treat it has to be sunshine and shorts type of weather. That is when the ice cream maker makes its triumphant return from the bowels of the pantry and ice cream cones earn a spot on the weekly grocery list.

Here are five easy homemade ice cream recipes to help you enjoy the summer season:

  • Coffee Ice Cream from Baked by an Introvert : A few chopped chocolate covered espresso beans and whipped topping make this a real treat.
  • Chocolate Ice Cream from Ashlee Marie: This is our go-to ice cream recipe and it never disappoints!
  • Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream – Joy Filled Eats: This is great for when you’re on dairy overload, but still want a little ice cream treat.
  • Strawberry Ice Cream by A Latte Food: Strawberry is secretly my favorite flavor of ice cream and this one reminds me of the homemade ice cream we made with my grandparents as kids.
  • Rocky Road Ice Cream by Barefeet in the Kitchen: Rocky Road is probably my second favorite flavor because it reminds me of my other favorite summer treat – S’mores!

Of course, if you buy all the ingredients, tell your kids there will be ice cream post dinner, but forgot to put the ice cream maker insert back in the freezer (really who would do that! J) there are always these great sweet shops to hit up for a dip or two.

  • Sebastian Joe’s  This ice cream brand has sort of found its way all over the Twin Cities. It can be found in restaurants and shops on both sides of the river, but heading to one of the two scoop shops is still the best way to enjoy the unique flavors the team has to offer.

Flavor recommendations: Pavoratti, Salty Caramel, Raspberry Chocolate Chip, Nicollet Avenue      Pothole, and Joe’s Brrr Bars

Edina Creamery: Smore’s and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

  • Edina Creamery  We love this little shop with red topped tables and there is plenty of window shopping in the area if you want to take your treat to go.

Flavor recommendations: S’mores, strawberry, chocolate milkshake, and peanut butter     chocolate

  • Izzy’s You can find pints of Izzy’s in some stores around the Twin Cities, but we still love going to one of the shops to get that cute little Izzy scoop up on top.

Flavor recommendations: Peppermint Bon Bon, Vanilla Bean, Church Elderberry, and Peace    Coffee

  • Peterson’s This popcorn and ice cream shop has been around since 1977, but only recently moved it’s location to just down the street from us. Not only is it an after dinner walk away, but their homemade ice cream is fantastic.

Flavor recommendations: Black Hills Gold, Mocha Chip, Butterscotch Sundae, and Blueberry cheesecake

  • Grand Ole Creamery Grand Avenue is a great place to spend the afternoon wandering and this is the perfect spot to grab a quick treat. If you are going to make a meal occasion out of it head over to Punch pizza before satisfying your sweet tooth at this cute little shop.

Flavor recommendations: North country crunch, Coconut chip, Maple nut, and Marshmallow Man

Now the only question is cone or cup?

Got another scoop we should try? Please let us know 🙂

 

Share This:

View of Bayfield from the ferry

Madeline Island and the glorious staycation 2017

I love to travel to far off lands and experience things outside my norm, but this past week I was reminded of the fun and beauty that exists right outside our front door.
For the long 4th of July weekend we hadn’t planned on taking more than the two extra days off, but things have been a little crazy lately. What is a few more days off? So for the first time in years we went to the Northwoods for a whole week.
Sometimes a staycation isn’t the only thing you can do, it is the best thing to do.
Cabin fun 2017
Between lots of fresh air on the lake, s’mores by the campfire, and runs on country roads, we squeezed in an excursion to possibly one of my new favorite places – Madeline Island.
View of Bayfield from the ferry

View of Bayfield, WI from the Madeline Island ferry

Located just off the shore from Bayfield, WI, Madeline is the southern most island of the Apostle Islands. Getting there is a fun experience all its own. During the summer you can take the Madeline Island Ferry across and witness floatplanes landing in the water near the dock. We haven’t been in the winter yet, but we hear that crossing can be even more interesting as you cross on an ice road when the lake is frozen over and on the Windsled Taxi – part sled, part boat – when the lake isn’t completely frozen solid. But until then we enjoyed the warm breeze and sunshine of our summertime visit.
Although there are several dining options we planned ahead for a picnic lunch and carried over some supplies with us. After disembarking along with the dozens of other visitors we headed down the street to Joni’s beach. This quiet little area is right on the water front with a play area for the kids, shaded picnic tables, and bathrooms. The perfect spot for a little waterview al fresco lunch.
Besides great views and outdoor activities, the island is known for the many artisans that have set up shop there. The main street is dotted with galleries and local stores. Lots of pottery, weaving, woodwork, and small batch foods could have made their way home with us. Thankfully, we showed restraint and only indulged with a new handmade coffee cup and ceramic soap dish from Deena’s Pottery Studio and a beautiful hand made candle from Madeline Island Candles.
All that walking, shopping, and sunshine really worked up an appetite. So off to Grampa Tony’s for some pre-ferry ice cream we went – next time we will be trying the pizza. We gathered with a group of other visitors in the grassy spot next to the building; lounging in Adirondacks and at picnic tables in the shade of old trees. It was the perfect peaceful end to our day.
ice cream at Grampa Tony's

Strawberry cheesecake ice cream from Grampa Tony’s

We never even made it to the historic sites or the Madeline Island School of the Arts . . . there is always next time 🙂

Share This:

How we did Disney with a baby and preschooler

Living in Minnesota for ten years I’ve learned that a winter getaway is sorta mandatory. We have loooooong winters that even Frosty the Snowman would find brutal and unbearable at times. While we revel in the warmth of the gorgeous Minnesota summer it might be hard to even consider that snow will again fall, but now is the perfect time to plan that winter getaway.

With people thinking about warm destinations for future family trips I’ve been getting a lot of questions about our 2017 winter escape. We braved taking a 6 month and nearly 5-year-old to Disney World. This was my third trip there and our daughter’s second trip. Right away I would say if you anticipate Disney World being a once in their childhood experience wait until they are older – at least 10 – so they can fully enjoy all the park attractions. If however, you are taking them at a young age and headed back once they are older there are a few tips I’d like to share to make your trip that much more enjoyable.

Stay on-site

We have stayed off site (pre-children) and on-site and after staying at a Disney property we won’t go back to off premises. Save yourself the hassle and stress of getting everyone organized in the morning, driving to Disney, finding parking, shuttling to the entrance, and finally making it into the park after waiting in line. Instead, stay on site and get access to the parks early and late as scheduled, take a quick boat ride or shuttle to the park of your choice, and get your day started.

Fort Wilderness might be the least known of the Disney World resorts, but it should be top of the list for families. This fun property is a throw back to the Disney of old and a world away from the chaos of the parks. The cabin option is perfect for families – kitchen to eat breakfast and have a slightly slower morning, separate room to watch TV in while the kids sleep in bunk beds in the back room, a deck to enjoy a little calm outdoor time. There are also swimming pools and other activities for the afternoon when the kids (and parents) need a break from the crowds. The other great part is the evening entertainment. Enjoy a campfire with sing along and s’mores with Chip and Dale.

Chip and Dale sing along at Fort Wilderness, Disney World

Plan ahead for little one’s meal times

If you have a really little one who is just switching to solids, like our little man was, make sure you pack a few appropriate spoons. Throughout the parks and at the resort shops we were able to find baby food, plastic bowls, even baby tylenol and diaper cream, but no soft plastic spoons.

If you are breastfeeding the parks do have great mother’s rooms/nursing stations. They have comfier chairs usually, more privacy, a TV to keep older kids appeased, and changing tables.

As for older kids, have an idea of where you want to be at lunch time (or a few options) so Mickey pretzels don’t become the entree of choice. We did the dining plan and used our quick service options for lunch most days so we could get back to the rides ASAP. We used our sit down meals mostly in the evenings when we were all ready to crash anyways. You can easily make reservations and look at menus on the park site and even on the app, which I highly recommend downloading.

Do: Download the Disney app, scope out menus before leaving home, make reservations when possible. 

Characters, characters, characters

One of the best of parts of a trip to Disney is getting to see your kids’ faces when they meet Mickey, Minnie, or any of the dozens of characters that are found throughout the park. Not gonna lie, I still get a little gidy when meeting them. The app now lets you pinpoint times and locations of characters so you can plan ahead and be sure not to miss a favorite.

Character dining Disney World

We found the best way to see characters was through the character dining options. Book in advance! These were great because rather than standing in a long line waiting to see one character you can keep the kids busy eating or with an activity at the table while they wait for the characters to make the rounds. We also found you tend to get a little more time with characters during the dining experiences versus at the parks.

Our favs were Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast at Cape May Cafe in Epcot and the Tusker House Restaurant character dinner in Animal Kingdom.

Do: Book character dining in advance, bring activities to keep the kids busy while they wait for characters. 

One final tip

We have been lucky enough to travel with other family members who can watch the kids for a few hours. If possible, travel with other adults so can sneak away to enjoy a some of the fun just the two of you. You are never too old to enjoy Disney World!

Share This:

Reclaiming this space and the journey

Photo cred: Alex Krivec

Maybe it is being in my thirties or having two kids instead of one or the postpartum anxiety, but I’ve reached this feeling of having stalled out. That feeling where you’ve accomplished all of the really cool things in your life. That new experiences are a thing of the past. That you are to old to try something different, challenge yourself, and face down insecurities.

It is way to early in life for that!

So I am embarking on a journey to fully embrace what I started this blog for, hopefully gain a little of my swagger back (who am I kidding I never had swagger, I’d twist my ankle), and find not only peace but growth in this new season of life.

When I started the blog I was transitioning into motherhood and out of what I thought was going to be a long term career in travel. I started this blog as a way to stay accountable to my goal of keeping my eyes open to the world and  embracing exploration. We spend so much time online and shuffling from place to place we miss the adventure that lives in each day. I started this blog to eat, travel, and meet amazing people and build my own adventure.

I want to continue to grow, learn, and challenge myself. I want to finish life saying I really lived it and provide lots of amazing memories for my children. I want to try new things – things that scare me, that make me anxious, that force me to face down insecurities and unrealistic fears of failure.

I want to meet new people – yes me, a hardcore introvert with anxiety (legit I take meds for that) want to meet people. I want to connect with people following their passions and writing their own story of life. I want to be inspired by their creativity, joy, and ability to face down their own fears.

And of course I want to eat and travel to experience new flavors, see new places, and meet new people.

So, I’m reclaiming that challenge and I’m sharing the journey as a way to stay accountable, provide a journal for my kids to look back on, and, hopefully, inspire some of you to do take on a new challenge, explore a new place, or meet some new people.

Here we go!

 

Share This:

Lemon Muffins and Postpartum

What do lemon muffins have to do with postpartum? In this case a whole lot. Just like writing these words has everything to do with the journey forward.

You see, after finding out we were expecting our second child we knew we would be done building our family. My last pregnancy. An opportunity to enjoy the experience.

I also knew post-baby life would be different than the first go around, but I had no idea just how different. After the birth of our first child it wasn’t all rainbows and flowers, but it was nothing like the past several months.

The constant gnawing anxiety with no apparent source. Doubt and self-defeating thoughts that cloud the brain. Fake smiles and disinterest in everything that once fueled my life. At first, I chalked it up to having a second preemie and the stress of being in the NICU. Then it was the lack of sleep and returning to work full time. The constant juggling of home, work, an active five-year-old, and a not so active infant.

Taking a deep breath before going into work. Another as I arrived home. One as the rest of the family pulls into the garage . . . and on and on throughout everything that was small and mundane.

However, after months of reassuring myself that it would all pass I realized I couldn’t live like this anymore – and I don’t have to! Asking for help is never easy, but some things you just can’t do alone. So I’ve asked for help, I’m taking steps, and I’m speaking about it because I know I am not alone.

Lemon muffins

And these lemon muffins (and these words) are part of the first step to bringing a little sunshine into my life. Even though right now I must force myself to bake and write – two things that always just came naturally – I believe that with work and professional help I will get back to the lighthearted mom I know I am.

Were these muffins the answer? No, but they were a small step in the right direction. An opportunity to get back to a beloved activity and even better was seeing the smiles on my little ones faces when they got to have them for breakfast. So, for now we will enjoy our little clouds of lemony sunshine and hold each other tight.

I hope you enjoy these lemon muffins with your family and friends and find the sunshine you need in your life.

Share This:

Getting back to it

When I started this site it was to be a place for me to go and share the stories of exploring the world through food, travel, and just living life. It has been way to long since I was on here. But that is what happens when . . .

You have a second child that decides to arrive five weeks early.

You spend time in the NICU (once again).

You only take six weeks off before heading back to full-time work.

You have just started a new job three weeks before delivery.

You love what you do.

You decide to take a week long trip to Disney with a four-year-old and a six-month old.

So eight and half months later and we are settling into life as a family of four (sort of).

To make our new life work I’ve found there are several things I have to just be willing to give on. Dishes have to sit dirty longer than I would like. Grocery shopping (and wine shopping) happens online with curbside pick-up. Workouts don’t always happen first thing in the morning. Cooking no longer consists of hours in the kitchen happily working away.

Setting priorities not just for the day or the week, but for life overall has become even more important. So what do I want from this next stage in my life?

  • Positivity: I want to create a positive environment for my children and myself to exist in, even if I can only provide that cocoon within the walls of our home
  • Travel: This is non-negotiable. I want to see more places, meet more people, and experience things I never imagined and I want my children to enter adulthood with a broader view of this amazing world we live in.
  • Health: Healthy cooking might look a little different right now, but getting in all the good stuff I can is top priority. Even if I have to squeeze a workout in between getting off of an eight-hour work day and getting the kids from daycare (or in-front of the oven as dinner cooks ) I will keep getting stronger and faster.

So, hopefully I will be meeting all of those goals and find time to share the journey.

 

 

Share This:

Little one, love your body. It is the only one you get.

For years I pinched every part of my body that I could get even a pea size grasp on. Was there extra weight on my hips, my thighs, or the back of my arms? I obsessed over every bite that went into my mouth and constantly thought about the food that I wanted so bad, but refused to consume. When I found out I was pregnant with my first child at the age of twenty-eight, I was just beginning to really get comfortable with my body and food of all kinds. Fills the hole inside me

As my body went through the myriad of changes that occur when you are pregnant there was one thought that kept me on track – I will not let my eating disorder affect my child. As a recovering anorexic and exercise addict I feared that I would unconsciously pass on some of these unhealthy habits. Four years later and expecting my second child I think we have done a pretty good job of teaching our daughter healthy habits and acceptance.

So, when I recently found my four-year-old daughter sitting in the middle of her bedroom floor with her shirt lifted and pinching her belly, I had to take a step back and breath before approaching the situation. After asking her why she was doing it I was sickened to hear that she was copying an image she saw on a billboard we had passed on the way home from the grocery store.

I instantly knew what billboard she was talking about — an ad for CoolSculpting body shaping that I had often found myself evaluating. A woman shown bare skinned from the rib cage down pinching at a slight bulge on her waist. A woman who honestly looks like she is at a healthy weight and had to really work to grab that little flap of mostly skin.

DSC_2115But, how to get a four-year-old to understand we don’t judge our bodies in that way and certainly not by comparing it to other people? Would you pinch a friend like that? No, well we shouldn’t treat our own bodies that way either. Think of your body as your closest friend, someone you care about and want to keep around for a very long time.

I may not be able to change the way brands present their messages and get people to pick apart each little part of their body, but I can help my daughter accept every muscle, bump, and curve of her own and love everything that her amazing little body is capable of.

I can praise her for her accomplishments and not what she looks like. When I see an example of a body positive woman in an ad I can be sure to point it out to her. And most of all, I can love my own body and let her see that acceptance and appreciation on a daily basis as I look in the mirror, as I enjoy my workout because it makes me feel strong, and as I hold my head high and work towards the things that are important to me on a creative, professional, and personal level. I can let her know that her body will change throughout her life, but it will always be hers and what she does with it is much more important than how it compares to the artificial image on a roadside billboard.

Share This:

The Second Pregnancy Truth: Special in unexpected ways

pregnancyWhoever said the second pregnancy is easier than the first is a liar. Or they blissfully forgot the reality of having a toddler, expecting a baby, and still living daily life.

You know what to expect

At least this time around you know what to expect. Or so I thought. Really it is more like thinking you are headed back to Rome, IL, but accidently booking a trip to Rome, Italy. You got on the plane thinking you had this all figured out, but once your feet hit the ground you know you are in for a whole new journey.

Yes, I’ve had a baby before, but this time it is completely different. The body changes, stressors, and emotions don’t match up to the first experience. You never really know what to expect in pregnancy.

With the first pregnancy, working full time was no big deal. As I maneuvered career and expecting (or as much as you can expect the biggest disruption to occur in your life) I thought, “I got this”. Work during the day, relax a little at night, and spend weekends blissfully getting the nursery ready.

This go around I feel like something has to give and if I “lean in” any farther I will land flat on my face. Being pregnant the second time means working full-time while juggling things such as drop-offs and pick-ups at daycare, evening activities for a rambunctious toddler, and prepping the house for a second child.

Getting real

Like everyone else I have days where I stop and think, “I can’t do this. What was I thinking!” But, then I stop and I remember the many friends who can’t have a first, let alone a second child. I think about my niece and nephew and how they look at each other and can understand each other in a way no one else can. I think about my own siblings and how we share memories that only growing up in the same house can provide. Or how we can look at each other and instantly know what the other is thinking.

Moments like these remind you of the important things in life.

Moments like these remind you of the important things in life.

I think of the way my daughter quietly asks to touch the baby and gently places her hands on my growing belly. Or how she talks about all of the things she is going to give to her baby brother.

Maybe the bigger truth isn’t that the second one is easier – it is just different. Different like everything else in life is distinguished from the first time we did this. Different just like each child will be different and take their own journey.

 

Share This:

April round-up: Healthy eats, pregnancy workouts, and furry friends

After March flew by this month has been slightly more focused from a personal perspective. I have tried to spend more time getting inspired, getting motivated to claim what I want in life and take the steps to get there, and connecting with my ever changing body.

Here are a few things we’ve been enjoying, coveting, and anticipating over the last month.

Eats

I couldn't leave without a little baklava :)

I couldn’t leave without a little baklava 🙂

Step one to getting inspired always seems to revolve around food for me. Food and friendship, which naturally go hand-in-hand. That is why I was thrilled to meet up with a good friend at an old favorite I hadn’t been to in years. Gardens of Salonica in Minneapolis never fails to deliver. Over a shared sampler plate of melitzana, fava dip, salata, and patzaria and an entrée of makaronia kai souvlaki we caught up on life, laughed, and dreamed future travels.

Even though I’ve tried to slow the pace of life a little over the past month I do have days when all I have time for are small meals or snacks. I am also five months pregnant so noshing is sort of a must. Trying to keep it healthy I’ve been leaning on a few favorites: CoffeeBars, Nourish clusters, and dried pineapple from Nature Box (now available at Target!).

snacks

Getting Inspired

 Step two to getting and staying inspired is keeping up the activity level — even when I feel like sleeping all day. My growing belly and shifting center of gravity have made it time to make some slight adjustments to my workouts.

While still getting three-mile runs in I’ve had to slow my pace and remember not to push myself when Map my Run pops in to tell me I’ve taking more than 10 minutes to complete a mile.

Even though my abs don’t do quite what they use to I am still squeezing in ab work and weightlifting to maintain muscle tone and make delivery easier. A few places I’ve found some great tips on exercising while pregnant:

Parents Magazine  •  Girls Gone Strong

I’m always looking for different options to mix things up so if you know of any other sites please share!!!

Reads

While Minnesota can’t seem to decide what season we are in — is it spring or winter or maybe a day or two of summer – it is the perfect time to enjoy a good book. Since finishing my MBA in January I have tried to meet my goal of READING at least one book a month. So far, so good.

April’s book of choice was Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Amazing on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn by Dave Kerpen. I was hesitant to tackle this book because I had done a good job of staying away from business-oriented books since finishing grad school, but it is a passion so I jumped right in.

There are some great tidbits in Likeable Social Media and if you are new to marketing or tackling it from the small business perspective it would be worth a read. Actually, the overall message is something that all of us could be reminded of at a personal level when using social media – everyone on these platforms are humans and should be treated as such.

I have also picked up the audiobook habit again. I highly recommend checking your local library for audiobook app options to get your free fill. I’ve used One Click Digital for years through our local library and enjoyed some great books when I don’t have a tone of time to actually curl up with a good book. While working I’ve listened to two new books this month – Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

IMG_0368

Our biggest news of this past month, however, is the addition of a furry family member. Meet Clifford! Abandoned on an Indian reservation he ended up with mange and malnourished. He is doing great now and we look forward to having him grow with us.

Looking ahead

The home projects have begun– updates and photos to come next week!


Share This:

CoffeeBars: A cup of coffee in every bar

Photo credit: newgroundsfood.com

Photo credit: newgroundsfood.com

Who hasn’t rolled out of bed on a busy day only to realize you don’t have time for breakfast or coffee? That is exactly what inspired two Northeastern University students to create a caffeinated bar to kick them into gear for an 8am class.

Three years later and their creation is keeping more than college students awake for the important stuff in life. As soon as I came across it CoffeeBars on Undiscovered Kitchen’s online artisan food shop I knew I needed to give them a try. A mother working full time with more than a few extracurricular activities – I can use a little more caffeine, especially when that inevitable afternoon slouch occurs.

And best of all they are made of all natural ingredients. Oats, nuts, dates, organic coconut, vegan chocolate chips, and fair trade coffee – 100% organic, vegan, and gluten-free. New Grounds Food is certainly well on its way to making products that “keep you healthy and energized for all of life’s adventures”.

Photo credit: newgroundsfood.com

Photo credit: newgroundsfood.com

The bars come in three different flavors: Caramel Macchiato, Coconut Mocha, and Mocha Latte. So far we have re-energized with the Caramel Macchiato and the Coconut Mocha and enjoyed both equally. We’ll keep you posted on the Mocha Latte, but you should definitely give them a try for yourself. coffee bar

Share This: