Weekend Roundup – May 2020

May has been tough, but it’s also had some glimpses of normal — well, what used to be normal. And it’s also had glimpses of “the new normal” as everyone seems to be calling it. May has been a month of slowly starting to see family again, some in normal ways, some in different more protected and distant ways. May has seen some lows and it’s seen some highs. May has also been the last month of the temporary hope of this thing all being over, because this new normal definitely isn’t going away anytime soon. May has even had a few WTF moments.
MayRecap(1)We started the month off with a little road trip to finally see my parents.  It was much needed on both sides. The best part was we were able to make it there in one trip, and hunkered in over the weekend with lots of eats, drinks, board games and laughs and still able to maintain social distance from the world. My mom even surprised me with a homemade birthday cake, so we finally got to celebrate a belated birthday since our big plans in March all got kiboshed. It was great to be together in person, instead of 4-hour virtual chats, and as I mentioned, a much needed visit.

Mother’s Day consisted of a masked and mostly socially distant family gathering with our in-laws and supporting local to shower our mom’s with some special gifts. We also attended not one but two of our first virtual college graduations for my younger cousins, and even a virtual wedding (technically the last day of April)! The virtual graduations definitely had their advantages, beyond just being a new concept — but it also gave us an opportunity to actually attend and participate in these moments when we might not have been able to travel to them before (pre or post corona).
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More May highlights included lots of walks with Moz and even a few car rides to the Starbucks drive thru for puppachinos. We’ve also been perfecting our breakfast sandwich making skills, including grilling bacon on the grill in a cast iron skillet along with grilling out local meats from MeatboxLocal to help mix-up our dinner menu. We’ve also finally gotten around to planning a few fun house projects while also reaching out to contractors for a few not so fun projects. We’ve been admiring all of our flowers budding and blooming and all the beautiful green with all the rain we’ve been getting. B and I also celebrated 9 years together with burritos and a brisk walk. We’ve also had fun counting down the days until when we can get our haircuts… which is now only one more week away! The weather also started to feel a lot like summer, so the weekends have been spent outside, like all day, every day — which has been really nice.
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The month of May was also a big month for the state of Ohio as they started the phased re-openings early on in the month of May. I was actually surprised at how much started to reopen so quickly. Dentists, veterinarians, retail, dine-in at restaurants, salons, hair dressers and gyms have all been able to reopen (among many other things) this month. And it’s been interesting to balance and start having conversations with family and friends to understand what everyone is comfortable with as things reopen.

As much as I’m craving for getting back to “normal” and back into a routine, there is still a major fear factor — although it’s not a fear of even getting it, it’s the feat of potentially spreading it and also other people’s perception along with trying to be responsible for our community and those who are close to us. It’s a very weird time, but luckily there were a few moments of normal — so I hope that continues to be the case as we jump into June. And hopefully, we can get a trip in still this year. What were your May highlights?

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Fitness Friday 05.20 – Mental Health Edition

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which I found to be pretty fitting as I’ve had a rollercoaster of anxiety, stress and mixed emotions, this month, about everything happening in our world as time continues to go on — and a few friends I’ve spoken to as well are feeling the same, anxious about doing things we used to never think twice about.

This past week has been tough. I’ve cried a bunch, dealt with my hamster wheel of thoughts and chest pains brought on by my anxiety. Even with all of that I’ve made sure to maintain one thing to help stay physically sound — my workout routine.  I’ve even started to do some virtual yoga with some friends on a weekly basis which has been a nice transition into different physical challenges and focused mental breaks.FitnessFriday05.2020In the midst of my tough week, I stumbled upon a LIVE White House Press Conference, which I don’t tend to watch normally, but I figured I would give a listen. Not long into the conference they transitioned to speaking about the mental health risks and had a Doctor speak about how these stay-at-home orders have and will affect mental health (Start watching at 31:52 – with limited Trump speaking). Her words, echoed fears that I’ve faced with slow interactions of getting back to ‘normal’ — I’ve feared that my anxiety is going to be amplified to the point that I may need to take medicine to just do everyday things, like traveling or visiting with friends/family — medicine is something I personally try to avoid, but understand it helps many people and glad that people utilize it to manage their stress/anxiety. I’ve feared that some of us might come out worse, than we went in, that maybe we won’t all be okay right away.

So if you’ve been struggling like me, I wanted to share some tips from the CDC for mental health, and specifically for mental health awareness month:

  • PAUSE. Breathe, notice how you feel.
  • TAKE BREAKS from COVID-19 news/information
  • MAKE TIME to sleep and exercise
  • REACH OUT and stay connected
  • SEEK HELP if overwhelmed or unsafe

Click here to see more how to manage stress from the CDC.

I would like to add, another way of seeking helping, it’s to talk about how you’re feeling with trusted family and friends. I’ve found that just sharing that I’ve feeling anxious and not great, takes those feelings out a bit, so they aren’t just pent up inside of me. The state of Ohio has started to open things up, and the walls are starting to come down, which has led us to face how we even just interact with some family that has caused some doubts, questions and unsure feelings.

I hope these 60+ days of ‘quarantine’ don’t lead to an ever life changing bout of increased anxiety for myself or others, but we just have to remember to take care of ourselves and listen to our bodies and minds when we’re not feeling okay. Stress and anxiety can really affect our physical state without us knowing — so pause and check-in with yourself and even others.

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For more resources check out the these Mindfulness Tools from Kevin Love and Headspace, Inspirational Instagram Feed, Mental Health America, Stress and Coping Resource from the CDC

Latest Obsessions 05.20

The weather is finally starting to break and it’s been so nice to spend weekends, evenings and even a few working afternoon outside in the sunshine and warmth. With quarantine and remote work continuing, I’m starting to get transition my mindset a bit more to try and embrace all of this a bit more. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions and mental health strain which I’ll be sharing more about on my Fitness Friday this month. So, with trying to transition my mindset, I’m trying to stay busy by planning for a few projects and a few other things I love, while living in workout pants and sports bras.

Mini Office Makeover. Fun fact; our home office wasn’t ever intentionally set-up for designed to be an actual home office. I know typing that out makes it sounds really stupid – but it’s true! Up until recently, B and I only occasionally work from home and would just set-up shop in the dining room or living room. Our home office was designed to be a fun space that serves as another guest room and home to our sports memorabilia. So I’m brainstorming on some easy, cost-effective ways to make this a bit more inspirational, fun and creative for a more long term working space. I’m thinking pink, and I’ll leave it at that.
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Anything Bravo. I would just like to personally take a moment to thank Bravo (and bubbly), for giving me some sense of sanity and a mental escape throughout this super weird time that is quickly becoming the “new normal.” B and I have rewatched the entire series of Vanderpump Rules, even as this latest season wraps up. And my two favorite housewives series are now on, RHOBH and RHONY, along with Andy being back with his virtual WWHL which are still enjoyable.

Some Backyard Plans. Our back patio is pretty set and perfect, besides adding some seasonal plants around to spruce up the space a bit more. B and I have talked off and on about doing some additional privacy-scaping in the back area, but just haven’t gotten around to it. So I’m sketching up some plans to pitch to B, since he is jones-ing to get that project going. We’ve also chatted about adding a floating deck and hot tub… so we will see how that all fits in.

Travel Daydreaming. Flights are so cheap right now. It’s been really easy to daydream and want to plan and just book a flight. Airlines are also still offering no charge rebooking fees (at least Southwest still it!) so it’s eliminating some of the potential risk. It’s just so hard to plan right now, and it breaks my heart to think we might not travel on an airplane this year — but I’m still hoping.
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So you’ll be catching me this weekend making some plans, getting inspired and definitely watching some bravo while sipping some bubbles and daydreaming of the day that we feel safe to fly on an airplane again and explore the world. And I’m still obsessing over Target Drive-Up, it’s been well over two months since I’ve actually stepped foot in one.  What’ve you been obsessing over lately?

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A Day in the WFH Life

Today marks 60 days since I was last in my office working and 60 days straight of working from home. It’s taken a bit to get into a routine, from coffee to lunch to working out and 9 to 5 work — but I’m finally in somewhat of a rhythm? My routines have completely changed from when I was going into the office, for better or for worse.

Morning Routine. I’ve had a really tough time waking up early and getting in my morning workouts — so I’ve been sleeping in a bit later than normal and loving every moment of it. Usually B and I sit with our coffee and chat the morning away before I head upstairs to jump on my mornings calls and starting my work day. But let’s back up to the coffee, office life consisted of Starbucks almost every morning (yes, I’m saving so much money in quarantine) — so I switched to the VIA Instant Packets from Starbucks. B likes K-Cups, but they honestly don’t do anything from me, but the VIA Packets are a good enough fix! I’ve also enjoyed using all my coffee mugs — we usually don’t use many of them, so I’ve been digging deep and making sure the rotation is on point.
WFHlife(1)My Office & Assistant. This is truly the first time our home office is being utilized as an office! It has definitely helped having a dedicated space to go up to and I always make sure to kiss B, good-bye before I head up. I was able to bring my mouse, keyboard and monitor when we left the office back in March, and that has been a huge help with work productivity. My Moz girl has been an awesome office assistant, lap warmer and occasional Zoom bomber! She loves when I have lunch too, and has definitely picked up a few social media tricks.

WFH Wear. I’ve been absolutely loving wearing athleisure-wear and comfy clothes throughout the day. Big comfy sweaters, lots of headbands and yoga pants have been my go-to, also wearing my workout clothes throughout the day gives me no excuse to squeeze a workout in during lunch, the afternoon or right after the workday. Don’t worry, I’ve had a few days where I’ve put jeans on, a nice shirt and even some make-up — yes the jeans still fit, so that is at least something!
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Week Night Evenings. We’ve been having some good weather evenings with sunshine, so we’ve been making sure Moz has been getting her walks in — even when the weather isn’t looking so great. The sunny evenings have also been a new go-to favorite for getting my workouts in too, and much better than our basement. I also haven’t been a hurry, because we have all evening and just another day at home to wake-up too!

I’ve come to realize that it might make sense to invest in an Nespresso machine, because I really miss my expresso is my coffee every morning. Bravo has also been keeping me sane during quarantine — B and I have been rewatching Vanderpump Rules, RHOBH and RHONY just started and of course we’ve been loving the current season of Pump Rules. I also want to continue to focus on my diet — but more to come on that in my next Fitness Friday post!

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Dairy Free Cookie Dough Recipe

My hubby, B get’s full credit for this recipe and it’s just too good not to share — so consider this a guest blog from my one and only (he even took the pictures!) Since quarantine has started, we’ve definitely been enjoying a few more sweets than normal, so he was on the hunt for a healthier dessert recipe that would also be dairy-free for me! So, as I mention — B get’s full credit for finding this five-ingredient recipe and grabbing all the ingredients, and when he mentioned he was making cookie dough, I definitely did not complain *grins* !CookieDough(3)
Although this is a simple recipe and only utilized 2-cups of cashews, this definitely makes a larger portion that will last nights to help satisfy that sweet treat. B also decided to get 95% dark chocolate to help with that healthy portion of this tasty treat — but you can definitely decide to put in whatever chocolate, or other goodies you may want to add into this treat.

Prep-Time:
3-4 hours

Shopping List:
– 2-cups of Whole Cashews
– 95% Dark Chocolate Bar
– 3 tbsp. Agave
– 2 tbsp. Coconut oil
– 1/4 cup of Almond Flour
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Step-by-Step Instructions:
1. First, boil 3-4 cups of water. Once the water comes to a boil, pour over your cashews in a glass bowl. Let your cashews soak in the water for 3-4 hours.
2. Once the cashew’s have soaked, drain the water from the cashews. Add your cashews, almond flour, coconut oil and agave into a food processor and blend well.
3. The blended mixture should appear creamy and well blended.
4. On a cutting board, break up your chocolate bar into smaller chunks
5. Scrape your cashew base into a bowl and then add your chocolate bar chunks and mix together, then refrigerate before serving!
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This was such a yummy treat and definitely felt guilt-free when enjoying. After having it this first round, it would be fun to play around with adding in some other types of chocolate or goodies like sprinkles or m&ms for a little extra color and crunch! I am not a huge lover of super dark chocolate, but mixed in with this, it was definitely a good balance of tart and sweet with the cookie dough.

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Local Love – Mother’s Day Edition

Hey CLE Bees! If you’re in need of some last minute Mother’s Day gifts, I have a few local faves that are perfect, while offering limited human interaction and most importantly something sweet that mom will love — even if you’re racing against the clock! Psst. Just in case you forgot, Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 10th.

Lovely Paperie & Gifts in Rocky River, Ohio. This is always one of my favorite go-to spots for a special card or gift — and Kate the owner has definitely adapted with times to make sure everyone can still gift the perfect gift with that Lovely Paperie touch anyone who frequents has come to know and love. Kate teamed up with a few other local vendors and created a number of Mother’s Day Gift Sets — she’s offering shipping, curbside pick-up and even local porch drop offs! We were able to ship and pick up to spoil our momma’s and it was so easy. Also, you can still shop online for all other occasions from cards, to gifts or even something for you — so be sure to check-out Lovely online for those birthday celebrations, anniversaries and other special occasions that always pop-up! Shop Lovely Here. LovelyPaperie_MothersDay
Images courtesy of Lovely Paperie & Gifts and Emily Millay Photography

Boundary & Thorn in Lakewood, Ohio. I’ve shared lots of love for B&T on the Bee Life and Lucy the owner and creator has the perfect Mother’s Day cards. She is also selling her inventory made easy thanks to her Instagram Stories you can shop directly on there and she is also offering porch pick-ups in Lakewood! Looking for something more than a card? Lucy also has beautiful letter prints, her Happiest Hour cocktail prints, Kitchen Punnies and botanical pieces, make sure to check out her Instagram and website to shop!
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Images courtesy of Boundary & Thorn

Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream. I’ve been so excited to see some local favorites opening back up and offering online ordering and takeout items, especially Mitchell’s! This is the perfect way to surprise mom with an ice cream party at home, tote and all, while still being able to pick out all of mom’s favorite flavors. As long as you order by 4pm, you’ll be able to pick-up the very next day — so this is an easy fix if you haven’t been able to figure out a surprise for mom yet or are craving some homemade ice cream! Shop Mitchell’s Ice Cream here.
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Image credit: Mitchell’s Ice Cream

Mother’s Day Cupcake Bouquet by A Cookie & a Cupcake. This local bakery is offering another sweet surprise, that I also think would pair nicely with a card and ice cream – it’s a Mother’s Day half dozen cupcake bouquet. Flavors include red velvet, chocolate and vanilla — plus they’re beautifully decorated with floral designs and colors! These are just $21, available to order if you call-in and you can also order through Grubhub or UberEats! Weekly Cupcake Kits are also available for curbside pick-up or drop-off through select food delivery services and with different themes each week! Order and shop here.
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Images courtesy of A Cookie & A Cupcake

Although we may be social distancing and not spending Mother’s Day with our mom’s this year like we have in previous year’s there are so many awesome local shops that could use our support during this tough time, while still making Mom feel special and giving her a sweet treat for her special day! Happy Mother’s Day!

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Fancy Fiesta At Home Party Decor

We’ve been gearing up to celebrate and have our own fancy fiesta at home just in time for Cinco De Mayo! I’ve been sharing with you how we’ve been gearing up for our party at home dinner menu and drink recipes, including our favorite Taco Pizza to a new favorite, Strawberry Prosecco Margarita. Now it’s just time to set the table, add a little festive flair and get ready for a fun and fancy feast at home to celebrate Cinco De Mayo — which happens to fall on a Tuesday this year! #TacoTuesday
FancyFiesta(1)To create our own little fancy fiesta, I grabbed a few new dining pieces with a bohemian flair and will also be a new summer staple — these really inspired the rest of the pieces that I pulled together for our party decor.  These colorful and festive melamine dinner plates from the Opalhouse collection at Target were an instant swoon and must have. I also got these light pink Toucan salad plates to match and compliment the color pallet. To top it all off, these Monique Lhuillier Gabrielle Etched Champagne Coupes are an elegant touch with a tint of bohemian to sip those delicious prosecco margaritas! Using blue as my base color, I pulled in other bright colors like greens, pinks and yellows for a fun flair. And, to let the colors pull through, I used a fix of clear and white bowls for serving the chips, beverages, dipping sauces and limes — which also helped the food serve as it’s own decor piece in the tablescape.
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Now for the fun finishing touches! I couldn’t decide which garland I liked better, so I got both and then ended up using this Wooden Bead Garland from Opalhouse as a centerpiece — it was the perfect finishing touch. I then decided to use this bright tassel garland to hang over the windows in our dining room, which was the perfect mix of bright fiesta inspired colors. I also made a cute little Bae ❤ Ritto cut out from cactus scrapbook paper and strung up just above the tassel garland. To round out everything, I ordered this adorable mini cactus pinata that was the perfect finishing touch for my table decor. The best part for all these Target pieces if you easier order on the app and then do a drive-up pick up, with limited human interaction, it’s seriously the best!
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We kept the menu simple since it’s just a party at home for two — although we would love to kick it with some friends or family! We also kept it simple to have the perfect amount of color, delicious eats, drinks and taco fix. Our taco pizza recipe is the right amount of taco flavors and toppings, only in pizza form and it’s one of B and I’s favorite dishes. Tostitos Lime Chips are also a must have for any type of taco night, paired with our homemade guacamole, some salsa and occasional some queso for B! The tequlia-less strawberry margarita that we made is also going to be a new summer favorite and go-to taco night sidekick! FancyFiesta(5)
Shop my pieces: Fruit Dinner Plate | Colorful Spritz Tassel Garland | Monique Lhuillier Gabrielle Etched Champagne Coupes | Pink Toucan Salad Plates | Mini Cactus Pinata | Wooden Bead Garland 

Cinco De Mayo has always been special and celebrated by B and I — but we usually celebrate this day a little different than most, because it’s the anniversary of our first date! This Cinco De Mayo will be the start of our 9th year and moving close to our decade of memories and life together.

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Taco Pizza Recipe

We recently had the brilliant idea of making our own at home taco pizza — and let me tell you, it was seriously that, brilliant AND delicious. Normally we make BBQ or Buffalo Chicken Pizza’s but were inspired to make one of our favorite dishes into another dinner favorite, in pizza form. The recipe it quite simple and therefore the perfect amount of taco without going completely overboard with toppings. So when we were prepping our menu for our fancy Cinco De Mayo fiesta, this was the perfect and simple addition to make at home for a fun night in! TacoPizza(3)
This will quickly become a fun way to switch up your Taco Tuesday, Friday night pizza or splurge your upcoming Cinco De Mayo party at home!

Shopping List:
Pizza Crust
Miled Ortega Taco Sauce
– 1-pound of ground beef
– Taco seasoning packet
– Shredded Cheese
2.25oz Sliced Black Olives
– Tomato to slice into pieces
– Optional: Green Onion
– Sour Cream for serving

Step-by-Step Directions:
1. First up, cook your ground beef! Once fully cooked, add your taco seasoning in and set-aside while you prep the rest.

2. With your pizza crust on a pizza pan, pour your Ortega Taco Sauce on as your sauce, and spread around crust with a spoon for nice coverage.

3. Now spoon and spread your ground beef to cover the top of the pizza! Add your black olive slices and tomato slices on next.
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4. Finally, sprinkle your cheese (shred a brick or use a pre-shredded bag) we like to use a mix orange and white cheddar for some added color. And garnish with green onion, if you have it (we didn’t have it this time).

5. Cook in the oven based on the crust directions until crust is looking golden and cheese is melted! Slice up and enjoy!

B likes to serve this with sour cream, it is a nice touch for this delicious pizza — I only have a few bites with sour cream, because that is one dairy item that definitely does not agree with me! But it is a nice flavor accent of cool with the taco flavors on the pizza. Again, we kept this recipe simple because it’s definitely easy to over to do it with your taco toppings — and it’s simply perfect!
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We also like to make B’s simple homemade guacamole paired with our favorite go-to Tostitos lime chips.  To finish off our fancy fiesta night, serve up with a Corona and lime or this super easy and delicious strawberry margarita made with prosecco instead of tequila! This has quickly become a treat that we like to make for date night and a recipe we first tried out for Valentine’s Day when we were planning our date night in. I think the next taco inspired pizza recipe we play around with will be a breakfast taco pizza – omg yum! Like I mentioned, we love everything tacos. And will be sharing our full fancy fiesta Cinco De Mayo night next!

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Prosecco Margarita Recipe

Cinco De Mayo celebrations will be a little different this year — although we don’t typically celebrate this day normally like most anyway, May 5th is special to us for another reason, it’s the anniversary of our first date! So looking ahead at this year, I thought it would be fun to create a fun and fancy fiesta to celebrate with some of our favorite Mexican dishes we make at home! But, before we get to the decor and our favorite Taco Pizza recipe, we needed to make sure we had a festive beverage for our fiesta first!
MargRecipe(4)This fresh margarita inspired recipe is easy, delicious and in my opinion a no brainer since it’s topped with Prosecco instead of Tequila.  I had my one night of Tequila fun, and don’t ever need to enjoy it ever again *grins* — you have had one of those nights too, right?

Shopping List:
– Bottle of Prosecco – Freixenet is my go-to
– 2 cups of Fresh Strawberries
– 1/4 cup of Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
– 1/2 cup of Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice (about 2-3 limes depending on size)
– 1.5 – .75 Oz. Agave Nectar
– 1 cup of Ice (2 for 4-servings)ProseccoMarg(1)Step-by-Step Directions:
1. Make sure to wash your fresh fruit well, I ended up slicing my strawberries in half since we had some big ones.
2. Place all your ingredients into a blender. If you want to make a double batch, add two cups of ice — also I used about half as much agave nectar than the recipe I found because I know it’s sweet. Blend well until completely mixed.
3. Get ready to serve! Pour the fruit mix into goblets or cocktail glasses about 2/3rds full and then top off with your bubbles — pour slowly, the Prosecco will bubble quickly with your marg mix. Top off your glass gradually!
4. Slice the center of your strawberry and garnish on the rim of your glass, get ready to cheers and sip away!
MargRecipe(2)This recipe was sooo easy and will be delicious to sip on this summer! Not to mention I love my new Monique Lhuillier Gabrielle Etched Champagne Coupes, they’re give a little bohemian chic vibe for our fancy fiesta and these bubbly margaritas. My next blog is going to be sharing our new go-to make at home Taco Pizza Recipe that will be the perfect taco fix for your at home Cinco De Mayo party — plus I’ll be sharing my fancy fiesta decor!

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