Ten.

I had to come back from my month+ hiatus to celebrate a biggie. Today marks ten years with B… a whole decade, a whole third of my life β™₯️! Our first date was on May 5th — and I always just use that date as the start of our relationship, because #FunFact: B never officially asked me out, we just were ever since our first date together.

Looking back, we were pretty inseparable since our first date and I know my when my parents rolled into town that weekend after our first date, and I was asking to go hang out with him at a bar they were like who is this dude? *smiles* There were so many early on signs that pointed to B and I being meant for each other, but I think my favorite was when we “found” each other in a crowd after my first half marathon. B was literally the first person I bumped into, before I could even find my gigantic family who I came with! It was just one of those movie moments that made you all starry-eyed. And if you’ve ever been in the aftermath of a race, you know it’s quite crowded and a sea of people.

Usually, we celebrate with Chipotle — but this year we’ll be making our own chicken lettuce wraps as we wrap up a 30 day gut cleanse and no alcohol, but that’s ok πŸ™ƒ! We’ll be celebrating in the spirit of last year’s Cinco De Mayo fun and dreaming of taco pizza – but at least we’re in it together.

xox

31 Birthday Reflections

A year ago today, we were all just starting to process the initial impact of the coronavirus… we had hope that it would be a blimp in the year, and not actually consume an entire year or completely turn our world’s upside down. We had optimism and hope, even as schools, gyms, churches and restaurants closed down. One good thing that came of the coronavirus, literally hitting on my birthday, was that turning 30 didn’t hold the weight it did leading up to the day – the pressures changed (but I am sure they’ll be back soon enough!) And here we are, welcoming 31.

This past year my anxiety reached new levels, a new kinda of anxiety, which has made me finally make my mental health a priority, even if it took 8-months. I’ve learned to go with the ups and downs, and when I need to take a break and when I needed to push out of my comfort zones to better my mental health. I’ve learned when I need to communicate the pain, the struggle and where I am at in the moment, so that other’s know how I feel and why decisions are made. While, not a whole lot of this past year made sense, what was right, what was wrong — with so many different opinions and thoughts, it came down to doing what made sense for me, what made sense for B and I. And not all of those decisions probably made sense to others, and I know future decisions won’t make sense to everyone either — but we are still trying to navigate into some semblance of normal, and that is still going to be disjointed for awhile.

I hope 31 brings back more moments of normal. I hope that I can continue to grow personally, continue to grow more in love with B, create new memories, focus on friendships, look for the positive, share love, learn new things, start making new plans, celebrate the precious moments, while cutting out the negativity in any shape or form it may be. So here’s to 31, another year of possibilities and hope!

Funfetti Cake Bars – Recipe

It’s birthday week, and it wouldn’t be a birthday without some Funfetti πŸŽ‰! Funfetti is one of my favorites, I even got a Funfetti birthday cake last year – which I was able to snag just in time the bakery closed for a few months. So this year to get my Funfetti fix, I wanted to try something new and make my own Funfetti cake bars. The verdict? Amazing!

Not only did this recipe turn out tasty, it’s also pretty easy! And my favorite kind of dessert recipe is one that is easy and delicious. I did end up having to bake it a little longer than the recipe I was inspired by to get it golden brown and not gooey in the middle.

Cake Bar Ingredients List:
– 1 pouch Sugar Cookie Mix
– 1 box White Cake Mix
– 3 Large Eggs
– 1 Cup Melted Butter (aka 2 sticks)
– 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Rainbow Sprinkles

Frosting Ingredients List:
– 4ish Cups of Confectionary Sugar
– 6 Teaspoons of Butter, Softened
– 2-3 Tablespoons of Almond Milk (if you use cow’s milk, use 4-5 TBSP.)
– 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

Step-by-Step Instructions:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray your 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Grab a large mixing bowl and add the (1) dry sugar cookie mix, (2) dry cake mix, (3) three large eggs, (4) melted butter, and (5) vanilla extract. I use a spoon to hand mix, my dough was super thick and hard to mix after awhile, it might mess up your hand blender. Mix together until ingredients are well blended with no clumps.
3. Time for some fun! Pour sprinkles over top of your mix – I did not measure – and just eye balled what looked good. *grins* Then, with a spatula or wooden spoon mix in your sprinkles to the batter – add more sprinkles as needed.
4. Pour your batter into the baking dish, as I mentioned my batter was pretty thick. Spread evenly throughout the pan.
5. Cook for 30-35 minutes (or according to your oven) the main thing is making sure the edges are golden brown and the center should not be wiggly – make sure a tooth pick comes out clean from the middle. Not clean? Add 5-minute increments and keep testing, until center is clean. Once center is clean, take out and let cool in pan.

Frosting Instructions:
1. Pour powdered sugar and almond extract into a bowl.
2. Beat butter in a mixing bowl until creamy, and add to your powdered sugar and almond extract. Now add your almond milk and mix with a hand blender. Add more powdered sugar as needed to thicken or to taste better – to be safe, only add 2-tablespoons of almond milk to start and add more as needed for a thicker consistency.
3. Once your funfetti cake bar is cool, spread frosting all over the top. Add sprinkles over top to finish this off! Serve right away or refrigerate – I opted to refrigerate, which helped the frosting set a bit more.

The edges and bottom were nice and brown with a nice crunch, and the middle of the bars were a bit softer but still cooked. The sprinkles in the cookie bars add a nice crunch and the homemade frosting is the perfect compliment to these bars. These would be a perfect party treat, when birthday parties are acceptable again!






This recipe was inspired by Together As A Family.

5 Ways to Give Back on Your Birthday

As I continue to get older (😭), one thing I enjoy doing on my birthday is trying to give back – whether that’s through monetary donations, time volunteering, or donating goods. So if you’re looking to give back, but not sure where to start – I’ve put together a few ideas on how you can pay it forward!

Here are five ways to give back on your birthday:
  1. Donate Goods. This could be a variety of things; whether it’s canned goods or other needed pieces (many local food banks list their most needed items on their website), or going through your closet and donating old clothes to a local church, there are so many ways to give back. Even donating old furniture to a local Habitat for Humanity is another great option, some places even pick-up clothes and furniture!

  2. Volunteer Your Time. This may be a little harder now during Covid-times, but I’m so glad to have the opportunity to volunteer my time at a local dog shelter. For this type of volunteering, I had to do a series of training in order to be able to volunteer, walk and handle the dogs on my own. If you run into a situation like this, and don’t have the training – look to see if there are other ways to give goods. The dog shelter I volunteer at has an Amazon Wish List and can always use dog treats, poop bags, and a variety of other necessities for the pups at the shelter. You can even order from Amazon and send directly to the shelter!

  3. Host A Facebook Fundraiser. As much as I hate Facebook, this is a great and easy feature to have friends and family raise money and donate to a cause near and dear to your heart! Plus, Facebook covers all of the fees, so there isn’t any built in charges when you or your friends donate. If you don’t have Facebook, create your own fundraiser by sharing a web link to family and friends in lieu of presents for your special day!

  4. Random Acts of Kindness. Whether it’s in the Starbucks drive thru by picking up the tab for the car behind you, or leaving a twenty at a local coffee shop to grab the next round of drinks — buying coffee for a stranger is an easy and simple way to bring a little sunshine to someone’s day! Another way to do this, is dropping off flowers to someone who might be having hard time, cooking a meal for someone in need, or maybe wheeling back your neighbors garbage cans!

  5. Donate Blood. This one is definitely not for everyone – but as a first time blood donor this past week, the fear of donating has officially been faced and I finally took the jump. Now I’m in the system and can more easily know what to expect and give a couple times a year! Trust me, I nearly passed out, but it wasn’t that bad or time consuming in the grand scheme of things. The Red Cross always has a plethora of drives, and other opportunities to give back.

A few other ideas to sprinkle a little good into the world; pick up trash at a local park or along your street (safely of course), sending a card to a friend, draw a positive message with chalk along your sidewalk, or bringing your neighbors garbage cans up on trash day. I’ve found myself giving more monetary this year or through goods, since I’ve cut back on in-person volunteer hours. But, I have found in my time volunteering, especially with the dogs, I am able to do something I truly love, and through spending a few hours over a weekend giving the dogs a break from their kennels (or whatever your volunteering is) — it’s just good for the mind and soul.

Pandemic Approved Birthday Apparel

I’m quickly approaching my second pandemic birthday, well given that last year on my dreaded 30th birthday the world literally came to a screeching halt. All of my grandiose plans to distract from turning 30 last year got cancelled one by one — so I’ve come to realize and accept normal bday fun is a thing of the past, at least for another trip around the sun. So I’m ditching the heels and glittery skirts and swapping them in for glam sweatshirts and obnoxiously cute accessories for a birthday celebration in.

Since we’re still sort of living in a pandemic of weird times, the way to rock your birthday is with some glammed up, comfy and super cute sweatshirts – jeans are optional. I shopped a few super cute and most affordable sweatshirt options that can make a fun statement for your special day. Also, a few of my latest obsessions from February are also perfect for having a nice birthday at home. One trend that has come out of this pandemic, that I absolutely love is these cute sweatshirts with puffy sleeves, bejewels, or ruffles – like finally! Why has this taken so long?

Shop Sweatshirts: H&M Black Ruffle Sweatshirt, Beaded Puffy Sleeve Sweatshirt, Old Navy Be The Love Sweatshirt, H&M Pink Love Sweatshirt, Old Navy Cream Floral Sweatshirt

Okay, now that we have options for a cute staple sweatshirt – it’s time to add on some accessories and little more personal flair. Whether it’s a statement tee, a splurge on a chunky gold necklace or a keepsake of your zodiac sign – treat yourself with something special that brings out your personality. I am all about sharing love, drinking bubbles, loving on the pups and letting my pisces pride shine. Wearing some beaded or oversized earrings is another way to dress up a more casual look to help you stand out and feel extra special for your birthday.

Shop these pieces: Dog Mom Tee on Etsy, J. Crew Chunky Gold Chain Necklace, Love Tee from H&M, On Sale: Pisces Ring Set from Anthropology

As I continue to embrace another pandemic birthday, I’m going to keep enjoying the finer things, sip on plenty of bubbles and eat way to much cake — and I’m going to be comfy and cute while I’m doing it! Speaking of the finer things, if you are looking for a little more something special, here is some inspo from last year’s pre-pandemic looks. Here’s to the official birthday countdown, another pandemic birthday, which actually doesn’t officially count.

Fitness Friday 02.21

Happy last Friday of February, aka as the shortest and longest month of the year! Did you start the year off with grandiose fitness plans and then just complete fall flat, like me? I’m here to keep myself accountable and be honest with my readers that I have let my physical health continue fall to the wayside – but I’m going to share with you an inside secret that has helped me flip that around and might be able to help you too.

What is it you might ask? Planning!

It may seem pretty obvious — but there is a whole lot of planning that needs to happen in order to make your goals a reality, whether they’re fitness, life or work related! The first step of planning is outlining those goals, but the next step is how are you going to accomplish them? This is where it can include multiple phases of planning and where my planning fell short.

Here is where my planning fell short in accomplishing my fitness goals — I told myself, “I want to workout tomorrow” — but what I didn’t plan was what workout I was going to do. Was it going to be a run? Was the weather good enough for a run? Was it going to be a yoga class? A circuit workout? I quickly realized, I needed to have that actual workout planned and figured out going into my workout day. This allowed me to look for a workout ahead of time that was attainable, whether I had the proper equipment and how long I needed to plan for.

Since I started doing this – which sadly hasn’t been long – I have been 3 for 6 in my workout days, accomplishing workouts and have a lot of sore, achey muscles! But I know continuing to plan, will only help keep me consistent, on track and one step closer to accomplishing my fitness goals.

Valentine’s Day – 2021

Spoiler: We prefer to stay home on Valentine’s Day, even before this pandemic hit – it’s funny, because last year we were gearing up for a fun night in, which before March of 2020 was a welcomed infrequent occurrence. I’m learning to love Valentine’s Day as I get older, because I used to absolutely despise this day. But now, the only bone I have to pick is that of the expectations of this one day to show someone how much you love them with a grandiose gesture or a commercialized gift (even if we love them). What happened to showing our love each and every day?

Photo by Marnia Claire & Co. Photography

Back in 2018, I dedicated the entire month of February to sharing little pieces of love to B – whether it was a little note, a memory, a special card or a punny gift, and it was so much fun, but it was also tough! Why can’t we try to share a little piece of love, a smile, a compliment to the people in our world’s every single day? That’s why I’m excited to share my little challenge, but it’s going up post-Valentine’s Day because we need to share it beyond one day!

With that, I wish you all a sweet and simple Valentine’s Day. B and I will be creating our own little memories together, over indulging in delicious eats and yummy treats. We’ll be cozied up by the fire, sipping on some bubbles and watching basketball.

Latest Obsessions 02.21

Each year, I fall a little more in love with Valentine’s Day. And this week leading up to the day has me wearing hearts, lots of pink and snacking on a bunch of sweets! I have been completely obsessed with getting ready for Valentine’s Day and beyond. I’ve been stocking up on heart and love themed accessories to look festive, and also share love with those who might see me (even if it’s just through a Zoom). Here are a few of the pieces I’ve grabbed and other ways I’ve been getting ready to celebrate heart day!

Heart Tee’s. I’ve been obsessed with finding fun and sweet heart-themed shirts to not know wear for Valentine’s Day but will also work all year-round. This navy with colored hearts tee is so sweet and fun from Loft – they also have a sweat suit in this same print! Shop a few more of my pieces below.

Gimme All The Sweets! Confession time: my sweet tooth has been a bit out of control lately. From snacking on festive M&M’s, to pre-ordering Valentine treats from our favorite KEC — so naturally I had to make some homemade cut out cookies because I bought new Valentine themed cut outs! Topped with my mom’s homemade frosting recipe – these are not only too cute but they taste ah-mah-zing!

Heart Earrings. From oversized to understated, I found all the options for a touch of love to sprinkle from my ears. These oversized heart hoops from Target are so much fun and I had to have them as soon as I saw them — better for you, they’re now 20% off! I also got the these cute and sassy leopard faux leather heart earrings from a local CLE Etsy shop called Frantiques, they were must-have as soon as I saw them. Not to mention they’re so comfy and super cute!

Dressing The House With Pink & Red. Since we’re obviously staying in this Valentine’s Day, I made sure to dress our living room mantle and hearth with some dashes of red and pink! We spend most of our time in our living room, especially on the weekends and now it’s festive for the holiday.

Shop my pieces: White Clip Heart Long Sleeve, Leopard Faux Leather Earrings, Navy Heart Tee, Oversized Heart Earrings, Puff Sleeve Sweatshirt

After this Valentine’s Day holiday, I will definitely be needing to jump off the sweets train and jump back on the workout train (I’ve been so horrible!) But I’m excited to enjoy some extra special treats and a delicious dinner at home, while rocking a cute outfit and some fun accessories — I think I’ll be rocking the Puff Sleeve Sweatshirt and those oversized heart earrings. Putting on a real outfit will make it feel like we haven’t spent the last 41 consecutive days at home!

How are you getting ready for Valentine’s Day?

Valentine Reese’s Chocolate Chip Skillet – Recipe

Last Valentine’s Day we were ahead of the stay-at-home curve and enjoyed a night in making our favorite Taco Pizza and a chocolate chip skilled filled with reese’s cups! YUM! It was as good as it sounds, and I’m here to help you save your Valentine’s day with this easy and delicious sweet treat that’ll blow you and your significant other away.

Ok, let’s get into the good stuff – you only need two ingredients for an easy sweet treat for your Valentine.

Shopping List:
– Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Roll
– 9-10 Reese’s Cups/Hearts
– Case Iron Skillet
– Ice Cream, optional for serving

Step-by-Step Instructions:
1. Press half of your cookie down into the bottom of your cast iron skillet.
2. Next fill your skillet with your Reese’s hearts — you can use normal Reese’s too.
3. Use your remaining cookie dough to form a top over your Reese’s hearts and press to cookie base.
4. Ready to bake! With your oven preheated to 350 — you’re ready to pop this cookie in. Recommended recipes say to bake for 20-minutes until golden brown, we had to bake a little extra (maybe 15-20 minutes) since it hadn’t cooked all the way through. If you cut into your cookie and the dough doesn’t look cooked, pop the skillet back in and keep checking every 5-minutes pending your dough density.
5. Serve up with some ice cream, sprinkles or extra peanut butter sauce for a sweet Valentine treat!

This cookie skillet is as delicious as it sounds and looks and is well worth the calories! It would also be delicious if you topped with some ice cream and chocolate syrup for a little extra, YUM. Just because you might be staying home this Valentine’s Day, doesn’t mean it hasn’t to be boring or simple — put a spin and make it special with this delicious dish.

From my sweet tooth to yours, enjoy!