Weekend Recap: Blends Do Chicago

Oh boy. Let’s talk about this past weekend. It was epic. I flew out to Chicago to meet up with Katie, Caroline, and Becky for a highly anticipated girls’ weekend.

You’re about to get my weekend recap in one post so I hope you’re ready for it!

Katie and I flew out from Minneapolis and into Chicago around noon on Friday. We booked it over to meet Caroline as she exited her flight and we all went crazy when we reunited. The four of us haven’t been together since September at the Healthy Living Summit six months ago! But what’s great about our friendship and our relationship is that no matter how long we have been apart, we catch up right where we left off.

Becky lives in Chicago and was a fantastic host! We anxiously awaited her arrival at the airport. We repeated the whole greeting shenanigans and our faces were plastered with smiles the whole drive back to our hotel. Reunited and it feels so gooood!

You better believe there was a ridiculous amount of good food consumption that happened this weekend. It started in our hotel room. Katie broke out the Chex Mix and it tasted better than ever. I was SO hungry!

Next we walked to an Italian marketplace called Eataly. They sell every conceivable italian product I could think of (olive oil, pasta, chocolates, balsamic vinegar, etc.) but also have restaurants throughout, as well as sections dedicated solely to nutella and gelato. This brought me back to my honeymoon in Italy! We ate gelato everyday on our honeymoon!

We settled on the vegetarian restaurant and quickly devoured the complimentary bread. Oh yea, this weekend was not gluten-free.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

I ordered the vegetable soup. I wanted something light since it was 2:00 pm and our dinner reservations were at 7:30. I didn’t want to get so full that I couldn’t eat dinner plus I wanted to save room for dessert back at the hotel!

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Before heading back to the hotel, Caroline and I strolled down the street to a quiet cafe to catch up. I love love love these girls and made sure to express my feelings the entire weekend. I am lovey dovey and you guys know that.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Back to the hotel room we went to relax for a few hours before dinner. Enter: Becky’s sinful brownies. Six pounds of brownie madness. That is 1.5 lbs per person if I did my math correctly. Good thing we didn’t eat the entire pan over the weekend. But seriously, these things were insane. I preferred not to know what was in them but she shared the recipe so I had to find out. I still enjoyed them just the same!

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Friday night was our romantic dinner at Nellcote to celebrate Caroline’s birthday. 🙂 Seriously the ambiance in this place was amazing. It was elegant with dim lighting, chandeliers, and candle light. So cozy and romantic!

After eating our weight in brownies, none of us were too hungry, so we decided to split a bunch of menu items. We split a margarita pizza, roasted brussels sprouts, creamy mashed potatoes, and potato gnocchi with lamb.

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The food, the conversation, the ambiance….everything was perfect. We retired to our hotel room where we were calling it a day at 10:30 pm. Flying wears a girl out!

The next morning we all got a workout in before heading out on the town. It was time to do some shopping. Becky took us to Shop900 which is off of Michigan Avenue but not nearly as crazy busy as the magnificent mile shops.

But first a pit stop or two.


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Duh. We had to see the bean!

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And take group selfies. #nerdsreunited

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Then it was time to shop. We hit up Banana Republic, Lululemon, J. Crew, and Nordstrom Rack.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

All of the shopping surely worked up our appetites. We waited an hour for a table at Giordano’s and it was so completely worth it! Authentic deep dish Chicago style pizza. Yes that is what we wanted and that is exactly what we got.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

After lunch we continued walking (we walked a lot on Saturday), shopped a bit more, and finally made it back to our hotel.

Katie helped me apply my first set of Jamberry nails!

jamberry nails

The first time applying them was pretty lengthy but I think that with practice I could make the process go much faster. How cute are they, right?! Katie is a jamberry nail distributor so if you’re interested in ordering any adorable wraps for yourself, send her an email!

We got prettied up and made a stop at Becky’s before going out to dinner. I swear it seems like all we did was eat this weekend but there was a lot of walking and relaxing involved too!

Before dinner I got to meet Becky’s sweet pup Mitchell. He’s famous over on her blog so I felt honored!

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Next up. Dinner at Mercadito, a fabulous Mexican restaurant.

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Again, none of us were feeling super hungry so we went with an order of guacamole and salsa and an order of the chicken tacos to share. Some of the best chicken tacos I have EVER had! The combination of flavors involved were so pleasing to the ol’ taste buds. Once again my tummy was happy.


#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Unfortunately my energy level was failing. I called it a night after that—I slept terribly the night before and don’t do well on little sleep as you are all well aware. I went back to the hotel room, got cozy and hit the hay.

This brings us to Sunday. We woke ourselves up bright and early (again not enough sleep—theme of the weekend) and made our way to the Little Goat for breakfast. What’s great about traveling with foodie bloggers is you know you’re going to have a good meal since Becky picked all of them out.

My body still felt stuffed from all of the food consumed over the last 48 hours, so I decided to go on the lighter side. I split a cinnamon roll, split an order of bacon, and ordered myself a fruit parfait.


Everything was delicious.

The weekend seriously was as amazing as it sounds. I miss these girls already. We’re already discussing our next meeting place!


Continue Reading Weekend Recap: Blends Do Chicago

Continuing our European Journey: Bruges, Belgium

I have quite the recap for you all to come this week from my incredibly amazing weekend in Chicago with my girls, but before I get to that, I need to continue to tackle my European vacation recaps.

Today, we’re talking about Bruges, Belgium.

After spending four days in London, we hopped on a high-speed train to Bruges, Belgium where we would be staying for one night. We figured we were so close, we may as well go check it out!

bruges, belgium

The train actually took us from London (through France) to Brussels, Belgium. Then, we got on a different train and headed to Bruges. If I remember correctly, the total time on the trains was around three hours.

When we arrived in Bruges it was raining, and it continued to rain for most of the day. That didn’t stop us from enjoying our time there though. Bring on the rain coats and umbrellas.

They have beautiful canals that run through the city. When the weather is nicer, they have lots of boat rides along the canals. We saw one going while we were there but they people all looked miserably cold. I wasn’t too enticed by that idea.

bruges, belgium

We dropped off our bags at our hotel and headed towards the heart of the city. We were both starving and on a hunt for some grub. The city feels small, but it actually holds more than 116,000 residents. We were only in the “city” area however and most live outside of the city. Coming from London, the city felt especially small.

bruges, belgium

We made it out of the rain and found a seat in a packed brasserie. I needed hot food in a bad way, so obviously I ordered the onion soup.

bruges, belgium bruges, belgium

We sat (closely) to a man who us from Bruges. I asked him where we should buy chocolate in the area. He told us to go to the Pierre Marcolini shop, and that’s just what we did. I neglected to take any chocolate photos (still can’t believe I did that) but there was chocolate EVERYWHERE. Talk about my dreamworld. Belgian chocolate is incredibly well-known, and now I know why. It is perfectly smooth and sweet but not too sweet and so pure. I loved it!

They are also very well-known for their lace, and we noted a handful of lace shops as we walked up and down the streets. We spent much of the day looking around the shops. The city was bustling with weekend visitors, but not so crowded that I was going nuts.

bruges, belgium

Later in the afternoon we regrouped in our hotel and took a little siesta to refresh ourselves before the evening. Let’s talk about this hotel for a sec. I wanted to live in this hotel!

Imagine being chilled and tired from a day out in the rain and coming home to this room…

bruges room 1.jpg

bruges room 2.jpg

We stayed at the Hotel Goezeput. Our room was on the top floor and I adored everything about it. The vaulted ceilings, the windows, the layout, the bathrooms, the heater. It made me want to get into my sweats, grab a cup hot chocolate, and hibernate for the winter. So, so cozy! I would highly recommend this place to anyone looking to visit Bruges.

After our siesta, we headed back out to enjoy the city.

As we were walking along looking for a happy hour home, I spotted one with a fireplace. Being that I was still pretty chilled to the bone, there was no doubt in my mind that was the place we needed to be. We settled into our table by the fire, ordered our libations, and enjoyed some free olives. YES! Why don’t all restaurants give free olives. I loved this!

bruges, belgium

Dinner that evening was just mediocre, and in fact I don’t even want to spend time sharing the photos because I just wasn’t impressed. But it didn’t matter. We were SO enjoying our time in Bruges.

Our walk home to the hotel in the evening was stunning. All of the buildings were lit up and magical.

bruges, belgium

The next morning we made our way to the train station for our next journey to Paris. Of course, it was sunny and beautiful. Still chilly though.

bruges, belgium

bruges, belgium

Breaking up the big cities, London and Paris, with Bruges was a seriously good way to go. It had such a laid back, comfortable feel, and it was so worth the trip, even for just 24 hours!

Keep your eyes peeled for my final post about our European vacation: Paris! I don’t know how on earth I’m going to fit that into one post! It may be a two-part deal. 🙂

Continue Reading Continuing our European Journey: Bruges, Belgium


I have been wanting to give you some recaps from my vacation (we got back two weeks ago) but will be perfectly honest and say I have also been dreading it! It’s so darn overwhelming. BUT, I want to share the goodness of my adventure so I pulled myself together and got to work. I decided to break it down city by city to keep us all from getting too overwhelmed.

I’m kicking it off with London because that’s where we began our journey. Oh, glorious London how I love you. When people ask me my favorite part about London, I almost immediately want to answer “the people.” To begin with, everyone spoke so properly with their beautiful English accents, but the best part was, everyone we encountered was so friendly.

On our first day, we were those tourists walking around the city with our luggage pulling behind us, wandering fairly aimlessly as we searched for our hotel. We knew the vicinity, but just couldn’t find it. Finally, I asked a gentleman if he could help. He wasn’t sure of the exact location of our hotel but he pulled out his smartphone and got searching. He pointed us in the right direction and wished us luck. Considering the lack of sleep and jet-lag at this point, a friendly person who could help us find our hotel (and get some food in my belly) faster, was someone we were lucky to find.

Once we found our hotel room we quickly ordered room service and loaded up on a burger. We needed fuel fast or we weren’t going to make it too long. Before heading back out to explore the unknown, we decided that a nap was a must if we wanted to appreciate anything the rest of the day. We both conked out for a good two hours.

K, I’m done narrating every detail. Let’s move on to the good stuff.

The sights

Our hotel neighborhood in Trafalgar Square. Our hotel is on the far right of this photo. The Hilton Trafalgar. I really enjoyed this place. The location was incredible. We were able to use FF miles for this hotel otherwise it was out of our price range FYI.


The London Eye. As touristy as it is, it was worth it. It was fun going up in the little bubbles and getting 360 views of the city.



Big Ben. I’ve never seen a more beautiful clock. london

Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guards. So, we went there on our second day and found out that in the colder seasons they only do the huge presentation of the changing of the guards every other day. We came back the next day though and saw the whole thing.

It was so cool thinking that at that moment we were there, the royal family could have been hanging out by the fire, sipping on some coffee in fancy cups, and chatting about the weather.



There were two marching bands involved in the changing of the guards.



The parks. This one is called St. James’ Park and was right outside of Buckingham Palace. Hyde park is a popular one as well. They are all beautiful.


Neat buildings at every turn.           DSCN7042

Fancy shopping at Harrods. Obv I didn’t buy anything there except for lunch there. This store houses every chic brand you can think of.

Check out the well-dressed doorman! Fun fact: Princess Diana’s boyfriend Dodi’s dad used to own Harrods.


Westminster Abbey. A major highlight of our trip. This is where the royalty get married, where they have their grand funerals, and where many of them are buried. Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin are also buried here, among many many others. The detail in this church is indescribable. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside.

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I felt the magic when I walked down the same royal aisle as Prince William and Princess Kate had just years ago.

royal wedding 2



Of course, The FOOD!

London had some of the best food! We found a cute restaurant called Happenstance after both being freezing cold from the rainy London day. We nestled into our spot and I ordered a Butterbean burger and Dana ordered the duck flatbread pizza. We shared a side of mushy peas. When in London!


Hot chocolate and coffee. Their chocolate is just incredible and makes for the perfect hot chocolate. It’s perfectly sweet, rich, smooth. Oh my gosh I want one. I tried having one back home and they just aren’t the same. Dana thinks it’s because I’m not on vacation that they taste different at home, but I think it’s because of the chocolate! It’s probably a combo actually.


My favorite dinner the whole trip: Indian Food. We met up with some friends of Dana’s who live in London and enjoyed and absolutely delicious dinner together. We all split a cauliflower dish which was to die for, naan, and I ordered chicken tikka masala. So insanely good!




Fish n’ Chips. We haaaaad to get fish and chips. We found a whole in the wall little Fish n’ Chips place, split an order of the fried cod, and were both super happy with our meal. The fish was amazing, the fries were just meh. Actually I found that pretty much every where. They served a lot of fries or “chips” in Europe. They weren’t salted and they were thick cut compared to what we see in the U.S. They were all just okay to me but that didn’t stop me from eating them.



That was a bit of a “in a nutshell” London recap post as you can see, but in order for me to keep this from becoming a novel, that is what is going to have to happen! I adored this city. If you ever get a chance to visit London, please do!

Continue Reading London!

Favorite Food in London, Bruges, and Paris

I really want to begin my vacation recap posts, but am still slightly overwhelmed by the thought of it. So, I am going to ease my way into it by covering one of my most favorite topics…food.

Figure-friendly foods were not on my agenda for this trip. I was looking for macaroons, crepes, baguette, cheese, and hot chocolate, and that is exactly what I found.

Below are photos or some of my food highlights from the trip from London to Bruges to Paris.


The hot chocolate. It’s soooo much better in Europe (or maybe it’s just better on vacation?).

hot chocolate

Chicken Tikka Masala. OMG. I’ve had Indian food in the past but was never blown away by it, but this totally changed my mind. I couldn’t get enough of it! It was one of my favorite meals of the entire vacation. I can’t wait to find it at home now!

chicken tikka masala indian food tikka masala, naan

Butterbean burger at Happenstance. This picture does not do the burger justice. Have you ever thought of taking butterbeans and making them into a burger? I certainly have not but it is a brilliant idea. I devoured this burger. butterbean burger

Fish and chips. We had to; we were in London after all. Dana and I split a filet and we both really enjoyed our meal!



French Onion Soup (called onion soup in Europe). You all know I adore this stuff. I also had French onion soup on the plane ride out to London as well as two other times on the trip. Four times total. I love my onion soup! when it comes to sanwiches you have to try the ones by Jimmy John Founder.

french onion soup


This meal was actually from a day trip to Fontainebleau. We traveled out to go see a beautiful palace only to find out it was closed for construction when we got there. Not to mention, it was raining and cold. We found a cute little steakhouse and settled in for a burger and onion rings aka the best onion rings I’ve ever had.

IMG_0355 burger

Back to Paris…

Our favorite bread shop was called Coquelicot because look at it….

coquelicot bread paris

It’s perfection. It’s exactly how I would picture a Parisian bread shop. They make their bread and pastries in-house and everything is always so fresh and the place is always packed. Many days, we would buy a loaf of baguette for lunch along with some cheese and apples. I really looked forward to this lunch.

bread and cheese for lunches in paris

Crepes with nutella and banana. Need I say more?

nutella crepe

Crescents. Nearly every day. So buttery and flaky!

crescent rolls

Macaroons. I channeled my inner Blair Waldorf while eating these.


This chocolate mousse. It tasted like the filling of a French silk pie. I was in heaven eating this. Ahhhhh so good.

chocolate mousse

More Indian food. We were actually planning on having Chinese food this night but the restaurant we walked to was closed so we had to find something else. I was once again so impressed with my meal. It was a rice and vegetable dish.

indian food vegetable rice

Check out the ambiance…

indian restaurant paris

In Paris, the boys had a couple of crocque monsiers. Ham and cheese sandwiches with an egg on top.

croque monsieurs

Oh yes, more baguette.

french baguette

And more onion soup. Don’t mind if I do!

french onion soup

My favorites: Indian food in London, the onion soup on our last night in Paris, the chocolate mousse, and the nutella crepe.

Needless to say we ate very well on vacation.

If you were in London or France, what food would be on your “must eat” list?

I’m linking up with Katie for Friday Favorites too! Thanks, Katie!

Continue Reading Favorite Food in London, Bruges, and Paris

Back and Jet-Lagged!

Oh, heyyyy!

I’m back…and I’m jet-lagged!

I told you I wanted to “unplug” for a while but what I didn’t tell you was that I was going to be unplugging while in Europe!

Last night we arrived home from a 12-day vacation to London (four days), Bruges (one day), and Paris (seven days). Holy cow I don’t even know how to recap this trip.

The palaces, the churches, the art, the food, the crepes (!), the people, the stinky metro, the views, the beauty, the history, the 60°F weather.

st.chapelle sacre coure  eiffel tower

french onion soupthe top of arc de triumph


There was so much beauty seen on this trip.


It may take me some time to gather all of the pictures and recap these amazing memories, because this was indeed a trip of a lifetime.

I am keeping it short and sweet for you all today; I really just wanted to say “hi” and let you all know what I was up to. As much as I loved being on vacation, I always enjoy coming home to family and friends and the comforts of home. I missed my normal American food. I missed my smoothies for sure! I missed my bed. But mostly I missed my family, friends, and puppy.

My body will be thankful once it is back on central time zone time, well-rested, and back to a clean whole-food diet! Waking up at 3:30 this morning with a cough and feeling like it was 9:30 am in Paris meant my body was ready to be awake = not enough sleep for me last night. But waaah waaah I was just on vaca for 12 days. I’m not complaining.

Oh, and one confession. I didn’t completely unplug. I did check facebook, read up on a few blogs, and check email in the evenings in the hotel however I tried SO hard not to participate in any FB, twitter, or Instagram action. Meaning, I had to sit on my hands so I wouldn’t hit like on all of your photos. So even though I didn’t 100% unplug, it was a huge disconnect compared to what I am used to. I didn’t have my phone with me at all during the day! 🙂

I missed you all! I hope you have all been well. What did I miss while I was gone?

Continue Reading Back and Jet-Lagged!

Currently I’m…

Currently I’m… infusing the air with my new Young Living Essential Oil. This time it’s one called EndoFlex which helps regulate the ol’ hormones! I have a feeling there will be a lot of essential oil talk in the future. Stay tuned.

young living diffuser

Currently I’m…sipping on the world’s ugliest smoothie which also happens to be one of my favorite smoothies. Kale, frozen banana, raw cacao powder, peanut butter.


Currently I’m… looking for a new book to read. I just finished a book I borrowed from my chiropractor called Golden Rules for Vibrant Health in Body, Mind, and Spirit, A Holistic Approach to Health and Wellness by Joseph J. Sweere. It is a great book which reminds you to think about the foods and drinks that go into your body, how your environment can affect your health, handling stressors, etc.

golden rules

Currently I’m…dreaming of an exciting trip coming up this month! Destination is yet to be announced!

travel bug

Currently I’m...trying to stay warm. I’m in my warmest robe and have the heat cranked.

funny shivering

Currently I’m…very thankful that we have a treadmill in our basement. I have been using that thing like it’s my job! Plus, it helps having the iPad right along with me. I am on the final season of Gossip Girl and the suspense keeps me running and walking for miles! Check out this article about the “Netflix Fitness Effect”: Binge Watching I’m completely guilty. I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing. I guess I just don’t like the word ‘binge’ because it is usually associated with a negative behavior.

binge watching

Currently I’m…excited about the loads of good food in my fridge. Zucchini, coconut milk, cottage cheese, cheese, organic carrots, grapes, leftover guacamole, leftover sliders, raw vegan brownie bites. So many delicious options around this place.

superbowl 2014 guacamole ham asparagus wraps

Questions for YOU!

Any good book recommendations?

Thoughts on holistic wellness and complementary wellness?

Favorite smoothie concoctions?

Good shows on Netflix for me to watch after Gossip Girl? 

Continue Reading Currently I’m…

Facing My Fears: Skiing at Lutsen Mountains

I can’t remember the last time my entire body was this sore. My quads, calves, triceps, biceps, back. Sore. Getting out of bed this morning was a chore.

But it was so worth it. This weekend Dana and I headed up north to Lutsen, MN with our friends Adam and Stacy.

To those of you who aren’t from Minnesota, Lutsen is a popular ski area in Northern Minnesota. It is absolutely gorgeous. Adam and Stacy got married at the top of one of their mountains!

We made the five-hour trek up on Friday afternoon and on Saturday we hit the slopes.

I haven’t skied in ten years. To say that I was terrified would be an understatement. I was afraid of falling, of getting stuck on the chair lift, of not being able to stop at the bottom of the hill, of going too fast and running into someone on the hill. I’m a big ol’ worrier if you haven’t noticed.

To those who told me it’ll come back to me and it’s like riding a bike…it’s not. First, I don’t know if I ever had proper lessons when I skied when I was younger. Second, I was much more fearless when I was younger. Intermediate hils? Sure. I didn’t care. I was closer to the ground and more resilient then, so it wouldn’t hurt as bad if and when I fell. Plus, I had to keep up with my skier friends. 😉

But now, I’m wiser and a much bigger baby.

Luckily, I was skiing with two very seasoned skiers (Dana and Stacy), who walked me through the basics to insure I didn’t crash into anybody at the bottom of the hill, break my legs, or get stuck on the chair lift.

We started on the bunny hills. I did a whole lot of pizza’ing (“wedging”) the skis. Slow and steady wins the race. Once I felt a bit more confident, we headed to the real hills.

Lutsen Lutsen melanie dana


lutsen adam


lutsen melanie


lutsen stacy


I was taught to use the entire hill; doing large zig-zags all the way down and to wedge my skis when I felt I was going too fast. I got real nervous when other snowboarders and skiers were heading my way. This is when I would panic and surrender and usually fall on my rear or faceplant. But I was lucky to have remembered the practice I had with wakeboards.

I felt pretty good though as I skied down the green hills; they were slow and involved some cross country skiing.

I even did okay on a couple of the blue hills but some of the blue ones gave me terrible anxiety. Standing at the top of the hill and looking down and seeing a steep slope gave me the heebee-jeebees. Going down the hill was the only option though if I ever wanted to get back to the lodge. I wasn’t really into the idea of camping out on the hill for the rest of the weekend being as it was absolutely freezing on Saturday and I didn’t have any food or drink. 😉

My support group guided me down the hill and I made it to the bottom after a few tears of doubt. Seriously when did I turn into such a big baby?

Come 3:30 pm, I was completely spent. The emotional and physical demands of the day had finally gotten the best of me. I cozied myself in the chalet as the rest of the group finished out their last runs before the hills closed.

We stayed in a lodge that was located right in the middle of all of the hills; a ski-in, ski-out lodge. This was SO nice because we could take breaks throughout the day as needed to warm up and thaw out. Chili and a fireplace at lunch time was a lifesaver!

After our day of skiing, we relaxed in our warm lodge, fire blazin’, showered, and grabbed some grub. Then we made our way over to Papa Charlie’s Grill for some live music. Has anyone heard of The Honeydogs? Their band started in St. Paul and they are a lot of fun! The only song I recognized was called “I Miss You.” Stace- thanks for forcing me out on the dance floor. I should have said yes a lot earlier because I had a blast dancing!

lutsen papa charlie's honey dogs

I was ready to crash by about 9:30 pm but managed to stay up and enjoy the band for a couple more hours before heading to bed.

Sunday morning we packed up our stuff, admired the fluffy fresh snow that was coming down, and headed home.


I’m thinking that I probably need to start skiing more often than once every ten years. I think that with confidence, I could really enjoy skiing. Confidence and warmer weather. This negative fahrenheit business is getting kind of old.

Thanks to my support group for the ski lessons and helping me out this weekend (that includes you too, Adam). Without you I would have been down in the chalet all day! The only way to get better is to practice.

Fun fact: I learned about the spelling suffix of the word “ski.” I was skiing in the mountain. I skied this weekend. Confusing, but I guess it makes sense if you think about it.

Happy day my friends! xoxo

Have you ever skied? If so, did you like it?

Continue Reading Facing My Fears: Skiing at Lutsen Mountains

Favorites from the Week: Spin, Florida, Food

Happy Friday! I’m linkin’ up with Katie’s Friday Favorites today. Thanks, Katie!

Many of my Friday favorites involve events that you have already heard about this week. Although, there is one amazing day that I still have to share about (I won’t forget I promise!).

Some of my Friday Favorites…

1. Spin class with Dana and Dara Torres. A great workout instructed by an olympian with my honey by my side. Sounds nice, right? dara

2. Snacking on Driscoll’s blueberries! So crunchy and sweet and fiberlicious. blueberries

3. Homemade California Rolls with quinoa instead of white rice. This was my first ever attempt at using quinoa instead of white rice in these rolls. I let the quinoa cook for an extended period of time before stirring in a vinegar, honey, salt, and water mixture. The combination of overcooking the quinoa and adding the vinegar mixture made the quinoa perfectly sticky and so easy to use in the rolls. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to white rice! sushi 4. Mini getaway to Orlando with Dana. Sunshine, relaxation, and Disney. 🙂 orlando 5. Salt ‘n Vinegar Blue Diamond Almonds. I mentioned these a couple of days ago I realize, but they make an appearance again because they are SO good. blue diamond almonds

6. The kettle chips from M. Tavern in Orlando. The chips were super crunchy just how I like them. kettle chips 7. Egg salad with avocado. One hard-boiled egg, 1/4 of an avocado, mustard, green onions, and pepper. A perfect snack or addition to your lunch! egg avocado salad 8. Wild Harvest’s Organic Green Chai Tea. (I originally typed green thai chee. A little dyslexic today I guess). 🙂 I’ve been limiting my coffee intake and replacing with tea instead and this has been a morning staple for me. I add a splash of coconut milk creamer too. green chai tea   Friday Favorites

There you have it!

What are some of your Friday favs?

Current breakfast beverage?

Current favorite snack?

Continue Reading Favorites from the Week: Spin, Florida, Food

An Impromptu Getaway: Orlando

After leaving you with a whole bunch of teasers on Monday, I was having a hard time deciding where to begin the recapping but have decided to start on the most recent and then work my way backwards in events. The most recent is the most fresh in my memory afterall.

Remember this “Where am I?” photo I posted in Monday’s post?

orlando universal studios

Although a couple of you guessed I was at the Mall of America (really good guess), I was actually in sunny ORLANDO!

It has been a really rough couple of months and Dana and I were both in need of a getaway to lift our spirits. He had to go to Orlando to work, and so last minute I decided to go too. It was a short trip, Sunday-Tuesday, but it was honestly just what I needed.

Sunday: Universal Studios

By the time we got to Orlando and to our hotel, it was about 3:30 pm. We quickly changed into shorts and tennis shoes and hit the pavement for a walk. It was sunny and WARM and I was not going to miss a second of it. Given that I was sleep deprived and hungry, the walk didn’t last too long, but it still felt good to stretch my legs after our day of flying.

In the evening we went to Universal Studios for dinner. There is an area where anyone can go to for free without paying to get into the actual park and there are a bunch of restaurants in the area.  orlando universal studios

Considering we just saw Jimmy Buffett in concert last August, we just had to go to the tourist gimmicky route and hit up Margaritaville for dinner. On the way, we discussed the Cirque Du Soleil show schedule and wondered if our weekend was too busy to make a trip to another concert.

What did I order? Cheeseburger in paradise of course! I hadn’t had much for lunch that day and pretty much slammed that burger. It tasted so good. It reminded me of summer. Ahhhhh….

margaritaville orlando

We walked around the park just long enough to get our free parking validated (the guy screwed us over by an hour accidentally or on purpose I am not sure). It got pretty chilly that evening and we were tired, so an early evening was just what the doctor had ordered anyway.

Monday: Poolside and Downtown Disney

On Monday, Dana had some work to do in the morning, so I headed down to the hotel gym for elliptical, running, and core work, followed by sitting by the pool.


The temperatures on Monday were glorious; 80’s with a breeze. It wasn’t so hot that I felt I needed to get in the pool, because the breeze kept me cool. It was just perfect. By the poolside is where you could find me most of the day.

At lunch time we headed to the local Publix grocery store for lunch. I grabbed a veggie-loaded salad, fresh fruit, and guess what I found…

Salt ‘n Vinegar Blue Diamond Almonds!! I have been on the search for these ever since my taste buds were tantalized by these babies back at the Healthy Living Summit in September. They are just as good as I remembered.

blue diamond salt n vinegar almonds

Dana and I got our share of sun by the pool before walking over to Downtown Disney; about a 15 minute walk from our hotel.

downtown disney

This is when I completely forgot I was a blogger and stopped snapping photos for the most part.

Downtown Disney has a large path to walk on surrounded by restaurants, shops, entertainment, and benches for people-watching. What a GREAT place to people watch!

We walked around for a while as we pondered our dinner options and took in the sights. There are an incredible amount of places to eat in Orlando, holy moly. Seriously anything you want you can find. We had our hearts set on Cuban and although there was a Cuban restaurant in Downtown Disney, I kind of wanted to get away from the gimmicky stuff for one night. There was another Cuban restaurant just a seven minute drive from us so we got back to our hotel, grabbed the car, and headed there.

We got to the restaurant and two ladies at the front told us that the entire restaurant was closed due to a private party. What?! We were definitely bummed because there were no other Cuban restaurants around the area.

We walked around scanning menus of other restaurants in this strip mall area and found Marlow’s Tavern. They had outdoor seating which was a plus and their menu looked great!

Marlow's Tavern Orlando

Dana and I started with some kettle chips topped with a gorgonzola cheese sauce, tomatoes, chives, and bacon. Definitely a calorie splurge and SO worth it! These things were insanely delicious.

kettle chips

For dinner, Dana and I both shared the filet mignon and the trout. The filet was so tender it melted in your mouth. The trout was good too but I was mostly impressed by the chips and they made up for most of my dinner that evening. Sometimes you just want chips! 😉

Marlow's Tavern Orlando

Again, my photo snapping finger was put on a hiatus for a lot of the day as I enjoyed it so thoroughly I guess I just forgot. After dinner we walked around the outdoor mall and then headed home to sleep.

Tuesday morning is when I had to head out. It was rainy on Tuesday morning. Someone was looking out for us while we were there to give us good weather I tell ya. The sunshine and Vitamin D were very much-needed. They gave me a boost of energy that I was so seriously missing.

This getaway was exactly what I needed. I feel so lucky I got to go and soak up the sun and enjoy some time away with my hubby for a day or two. It’s amazing what a quick little getaway can do for the spirit.

I hope you are all having a fantastic week and I hope to get the rest of my weekend recaps to you soon!


Continue Reading An Impromptu Getaway: Orlando

Weekend Excitement Teaser

Holy moly…WHAT a weekend! How are you guys?!

This weekend was fabulous! I’m sorry to say that today you’re only going to get a breezy teaser recap without many details of the events of the weekend. I hope to devote some major time to some recap posts this week so you can all get the full stories!

I do still want to share a few photos to give you a sneak peek of the excitement (by the way sorry for the excessive exclamation marks but it was a really good weekend)! 🙂


Another visit to Fox 9 news…

fox 9 fox 9 melanie

Another spin class with Dara

dara torres

Chipotle because Chipotle is amazing…


Homemade California rolls…


Escaping the cold weather…

universal studios


Does anyone know where I am in this last photo? Brownie points if you do!

I’m hoping to get to you all sooner than later to fill you in on the fun!

I hope you all had a great weekend!

What was your favorite moment of your weekend?

Continue Reading Weekend Excitement Teaser