Saturday, February 20, 2016

Breakfast for Dinner: Easiest Ever Honey Wheat Banana Pancakes @Krusteaz #giveaway #sp

Special thanks to Krusteaz for sponsoring this post.

February is National Hot Breakfast month, and our family celebrated with a special breakfast for dinner with a little help from Krusteaz.  Truth be told, we celebrate National Hot Breakfast month every month: Breakfast for dinner is one of my kids favorite weeknight traditions. Once a month, we enjoy a nice, healthy hot breakfast for dinner. It's easy, healthy and kid-friendly.

Krusteaz makes breakfast for dinner even easier thanks to their pancake, muffin and waffle mixes. Even your kids can mix up these pancakes on their own. Complement your pancakes with other protein-packed breakfast faves: think sausages and bacon, egg and cheese omelets, scrambled eggs with cream cheese and chives. Serve orange juice in fancy glasses and you've got everything you need for a fun and easy celebration for the everyday. 


Special thanks to Blogging for Books for sponsoring this post. 

“Many of us aren’t satisfied with just trying to accumulate the most money and toys. The good life is no longer just about the material—instead, it can be found in a lifestyle that is devoted to mental, physical, and emotional health. A wellthy existence is one in which happiness is attainable, health is paramount, and daily living is about abundance. It’s a life in which work is purposeful; friendships are deep and plentiful; and there’s a daily sense of richness or overflowing joy. But since there’s no one-size-fits all definition for a wellthy existence, I hope this book will serve as a guide to help you embark on your own personal journey that is both unique and meaningful.”

Wellth by Jason Wachob

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Gudrun Sjödén's Spring 2016 Collection

Special thanks to Gudrun Sjödén for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own. 

In my longstanding quest for comfortable fashions that will carry me from work to play and fit my very active lifestyle, I've found an answer: Gudrun Sjödén. This Sweden-based clothier creates clothes in unique, colorful designs, using natural materials – for women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Vibrant and sustainable, this is a brand that honors women who appreciate individual style and comfortable, organic materials.

Here's what I love about Gudrun Sjödén's Spring 2016 Collection:


Gudrun Sjödén's spring collection is a celebration of color, featuring just about every bright color in a painter's palette, a welcome sight to my eyes after the long winter.

Travel Inspired

This year's spring collection is inspired by Paris, Venezia and Istanbul. Everyone knows how much I love my bell'italia so as you can imagine, I'm especially enamored by the Venice-inspired collection.

Nordic Influence

Based in Sweden, Gudrun Sjödén is uniquely Scandanavian, and, as Gudrun Sjödén herself explains, reflects "the beauty of Nordic nature and the cool but colorful Swedish folklore traditions together with a sprinkling of influences from all over the world.”

No Age Limit

Gudrun Sjödén is an actual person; in fact, she's the founder of the company and the lead designer. She describes her customer as someone who is "unafraid to use color, to be trendy, to wear what she loves, to see her age only as a number and not as a definition of who she is. This is living!" Gudrun Sjödén's design team consists of women of all ages and sizes - you can just tell that the clothing is designed by women for women.

Fun Patterns

"…I love contrasts and surprising combinations. Nothing should ever be indifferent or mediocre. Colorful stripes and mixtures of patterns, clothes you can mix and match whatever the season..."
                                                                                                                              -- Gudrun Sjödén.

Comfortable, Eco-Friendly Materials

"Design with a long lifespan – I think this is my most important contribution to a greener, more wonderful world! It has been one of my guiding principles over all these years. My basic belief is that the first priority in minimizing negative impact on the environment is not to use so much. I believe that hardwearing clothes in timeless designs that you can wear until they are worn out have the least environmental impact. That's how I myself want to live and work."
                                                                                                                              -- Gudrun Sjödén.

For more information, or to check out the entire line of inspired clothing and home goods, visit

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Review: RAW Protein & greens™ / Peaches and Greens Smoothie

Disclosure: Special thanks to Garden of Life for sponsoring this post. 

Spring is on its way, and there's no better time to up your intake of greens, especially after the long, carb-filled winter. Here's an easy option: RAW Protein & greens™, a Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified combination of clean organic plant protein and organic veggies. Providing 20g of delicious, smooth protein per serving, the RAW, organic plant protein used in RAW Protein & greens is derived from organic pea, organic sprouted brown rice, organic chia, organic navy bean (sprout), organic lentil bean (sprout) and organic garbanzo bean (sprout). Mix it into your smoothie and you'll start your day on a healthy, green note.

Review: Instacart - Easy Peasy Grocery Delivery Service in Chicago - plus a $5 credit and free delivery so you can give it a try, too! @instacart

This post is not sponsored by instacart, but it does contain affiliate links. 

In my never-ending quest to simplify my life, I've discovered yet another solution: Instacart.

Here's how it works: You sit on your sofa, cuddled in your blankets with a cup of tea. Log onto (or download the free app) and select which grocery store you'd like to do your shopping at today. In Chicago, you can choose from pretty much every grocery store around: I've shopped at both Tony's and Plum Market so far. Most stores offer the same prices online as they do in store though some stores do not (Whole Foods and Tony's offer the same pricing as in-store, for example; Mariano's doesn't but I'm hoping they jump on board soon with same-as-in-store pricing).

Once you've picked your store, go ahead and do your grocery shopping. Click on what you need, price compare, meal plan -- all from the comfort of home. This is a Godsend, people. Considering that grocery shopping for me usually takes two hours or rushing like a madwoman through the store then schlepping the groceries home, instacart is saving me both money and precious time. And my sanity. It is so much easier for me to think straight about the groceries we'll need for the week from home. I don't overbuy and I don't impulse buy with instacart. Also, during the week, when I see that we are running low on something, I can just add it to my cart. No more writing lists or trying to remember what we need, or worse, forgetting something and having to go back to the store.

Next, submit your order. Yes, just press the submit button and your instacart shopper will get to shopping for you. You can even track them online while they're shopping. You can choose the timeframe for delivery. In Chicago, the under two hour time frame is possible, so if you're in a pinch, you can count on having your shopping done and at your door in under two hours. I arrange to have my groceries show up to my door a half hour or so after I get home from work.

And then your shopper will arrive at your door with your groceries. It's that easy. There's no catch, and no over-the-top fees involved. Delivery costs $5.99, and you'll want to tip your shopper.

Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below and I'll be happy to answer. And here's $5 and free delivery to get you started - give instacart a try!

MANMADE by Chris Salgardo

Disclosure: Special thanks to Blogging for Books for sponsoring this post. 

Easter is on its way, and I'm already looking forward to filling up my kid's Easter baskets. I always add a book or two or three as my kids are both voracious readers. My 6-year-old daughter will be receiving a Peter Rabbit collection. Here's a book I picked out for my 14-year-old son: 

MANMADE by Chris Salgardo 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lemon Cupcakes with Marshmallow Meringue

Spring is on its way, and here's a treat that welcomes the season by embracing lemons, now in season at your local grocer. A few tips to get you started: 

Use cake pans and cupcake tins with a shiny aluminum finish, avoiding those with a dark finish, to prevent the bottom of your cakes and cupcakes from getting too brown in the oven.

Check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer to make sure that it is calibrated correctly. While baking, place cake pans in the center of the oven for an even, golden-brown color and perfectly-baked, moist center.

Allow cakes to cool completely before decorating to keep frostings, glazes and fillings from getting too soft.
Follow the directions exactly! Different types of cake require different ingredients and methods of mixing. Carefully read and follow the recipe as written to ensure cake-baking success every time.

Lemon Cupcakes with Marshmallow Meringue

(Makes 2 Dozen)

For the Cupcakes:
2½ cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest (3-4 large lemons)
2 teaspoons high quality, pure vanilla extract (Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract)
½ teaspoon high quality, pure lemon extract (Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Extract)
3 large eggs
½ cup low-fat buttermilk 

Preheat oven to 350⁰F. Place paper liners into two standard cupcake tins; set aside. In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add butter, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla and lemon extracts. With a handheld mixer, beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients one-half at a time, alternating with buttermilk; beat after each addition and scrape sides of bowl as needed. Do not overmix batter.

Fill each liner with about ¼ cup batter and bake until done, about 18 minutes. Carefully place cupcakes in 2 (9 x 13) pans and cover with plastic wrap; set aside to cool. Make sure the wrap does not touch the cupcake tops; this method of cooling will make deliciously moist cupcakes.

For the Marshmallow Meringue:
4 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ cup sugar
1 cup marshmallow creme
½ teaspoon high quality, pure vanilla extract (Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract)
¼ teaspoon high quality, pure lemon extract (Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Extract)


In a large bowl, add egg whites and cream of tartar. With a handheld mixer, beat on medium-high speed until foamy. Increase mixer speed to high and gradually add sugar until soft peaks form.

Add marshmallow creme, vanilla and lemon extracts, and beat until combined. Using the back of a spoon, mound and creatively swirl meringue onto each cooled cupcake.

Place cupcakes on a rimmed sheet pan. Use a handheld kitchen torch or place under a broiler and toast until golden brown. If using the broiler method, watch to ensure meringue does not over brown.

Monday, February 8, 2016

How do you help teach your kids to take care of their toys/books/stuff?

Disclosure: Special thanks to pley for sponsoring this post. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Remember Eloise? My 6-year-old loves to read about this mischevious little girl who lives on the tippy top floor of the Plaza Hotel. We always laugh at the image of Eloise sitting in her disaster of a playroom:

Review: Superfoods Every Day

Disclosure: I was provided a review copy of this book. All opinions are as always my own.

It's that time of year again - time to shed those extra winter pounds and get ready for spring break! 

I don't believe in dieting, but I do believe in maintaining a healthy diet, and lightening things up a bit in the spring. Super Foods Every Day is a new cookbook that fits my anti-dieting stance:  it offers nutrition-packed recipes that will supercharge your regular, healthy diet.