by Melanie

A Fun, Food Filled Weekend + MercoBox by MercoLocal

April 14, 2014 in Family Life, Product Review, Restaurant Food by Melanie

Happy Monday everyone!

Actually, I’m very glad this Monday is coming to a close because it has been a VERY looooooong day. ;-)

I am happy to say I started my day off with some Oats in a Jar though!  I always get so excited when we empty a jar of peanut butter ’round here.

Yummy Oats in a Jar

I just made my typical Chocolate PB Oats (minus the peanut butter) and then put the hot oatmeal into the (almost) empty jar of peanut butter and topped it with some bananas and hemp seeds.  It is so so good and SO SO filling!

I also had a pretty decent lunch too.  Woo hoo!

Chicken, rice and a salad

I pulled out some leftover chicken from the freezer and served it with leftover brown rice and a yummy salad.  This was fantastic.

Sadly, I ate A LOT of food over the weekend!  It was healthy some of the time, but we did go out to eat several times.  I also indulged in a couple treats. :-(

A bunch of Kev’s family was in town for a wedding over the weekend.  On Friday night, I enjoyed some (excellent) pizza with the fam and also had a slice a wedding cake.

On Saturday, we took Kev’s parent’s to visit City Creek Center in Salt Lake City.  City Creek is a beautiful outdoor mall full of amazing stores and picturesque scenery.  It’s such a fun place to walk around.

The fam with mom and dad at City Creek

Me and the kiddos at City Creek

We also stopped and got some lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.  I got the same Veggie Burger (off of the Skinnylicious menu) that I got a couple weeks ago when I went out with my friends.

Veggie Burger and Salad from Cheesecake Factory

It was fabulous and SO flavorful, but I think I enjoyed it a little bit more the first time.  For some reason, the burger seriously fell apart this time and was very crumbly.  It also had some kind of garlic spread on it that I don’t remember before.  It was good, but I think I enjoyed it more without it.

With the fam at Cheesecake Factory

We had a fun time at City Creek Center and I’ve decided Cheesecake Factory is one of my favorite restaurants in the world!

On Saturday night, we went out to eat AGAIN for dinner with Kev’s parent’s and some other family members.  We went to Texas Roadhouse.  Yum.

Kev and I at Texas Roadhouse

I wanted to keep it pretty lite, so I ordered the 6 oz. Sirloin Steak with a side salad (no pic, sorry!) and a plain sweet potato.

Steak and Sweet Potato from Texas Roadhouse

It was so good and seemed like a “real” and healthy choice.  At least I could see all of the ingredients and knew exactly what I was eating.

Kev’s dad recently had his 81st birthday, so last night I made him a belated birthday cake!  He really loves German Chocolate cake, so I decided to make him one.

Dad with his German Chocolate birthday cake

I’d never made German Chocolate cake before, so I looked up a frosting recipe on AllRecipes.com and it turned out awesome!  I just used a German Chocolate cake mix, but the frosting was heavenly!  It wasn’t healthy at all, of course, but if you need a good German Chocolate cake frosting recipe, I highly recommend this one!

Anyway, we had a wonderful, food filled weekend!  I’m still feeling very, very poofy and bloated (shocker), but I’m hoping to deflate a little this week as I eat food with less salt, fat, sugar and who knows what else.

I’m happy to say I had a pretty decent exercise week last week though!  I got two really great cardio days and two great muscle days in.  On Friday morning, I decided to run on my treadmill and I’m happy to say I felt pretty good!  I ended up running an even 5k (3.1 miles) and kept my pace right around 10:00ish.

Woo hoo!  That is just about Olympian speed for me right now!  I was so happy to feel sorta, kinda normal.  SO HAPPY!

I also went to the gym with Kev and one of my friends on Saturday morning.  We just worked the upper body for about an hour and it was great.  Exercise really makes me feel so good.

*********************

I also want to tell you guys about a fun box I received in the mail last week.

Merco Box

It’s called a MercoBox and it’s made by MercoLocal, a Utah based monthly subscription company that includes a whole bunch of products from local Utah businesses.  The cost is $19.99 per month, plus shipping ($5.32 within Utah.)  You can subscribe to receive a box every month and you can cancel at any time.

I was more than happy to receive and review a MercoBox because I love receiving fun, surprise packages in the mail and I love supporting local small businesses!  Here’s what was inside the April box that I received…

Merco Box Contents

Merco Box Contents closer

The box included:

Eco Treasures soap nuts ($9.99 value)
Fit Me Tea 3 tea samples and filter ($6 value)
Meals that Transform power bar & protein mix ($5 value)
Les Madelines 3 madelines ($3.75 value)
Mason Jar Coffee Roasters Colombia Guatica ($3.50 value)
Rodizo Grill Gift Card ($10)
Our Children’s Earth Gift Card ($5)
Downtime Yoga Gift Card (free class)
Ballet West Gift Card (buy 1 get 1 half off)

So fun!  Here’s a closer look at some of the fun products…

Some of the Merco Box contents

Sadly, I’m not a coffee or tea drinker, so I can’t tell you first hand what I thought of those products.  I can say that they looked to be top quality though.

The madelines (little cakes) were so good and we a light lemony flavor.

I absolutely loved the power bar and protein mix!  The power bar tasted just like a fabulous homemade protein bar and all of the ingredients were “real.”  Bonus!

I loved that the protein mix came in it’s own bottle.  It would be so easy to take it to the gym, fill it with water after a workout and enjoy a quick protein shake.

I haven’t tried the soap nuts yet, but they sound so interesting.  They are an organic berry that come from a tree.  The berries are an all-natural producer of soap and a great and healthy way to wash your clothes.  They are also reusuable and can be used 4-5 times before being discarded.  Pretty cool!  I can’t wait to try them.

I loved receiving my MercoBox.  If you are interested in receiving a MercoBox of your own, you can visit their website or Facebook page for more details.  You can also use the coupon code, BLOGBOX to receive your first subscription box FREE; you only pay the shipping.  FYI, if you live in Utah, the shipping cost is $5.32.

Yay.

Well that’s all folks. I hope you all have a fantastic night!

I received the complimentary MercoBox, but the opinions and text are all my own, as always! ;-)

 photo MySignature_zps3d321fd2.png
by Melanie

I’m Blowing Up + Three Great Moves that will Tone and Tighten Your Butt

April 10, 2014 in Exercise, Uncategorized, Workout by Melanie

I told you guys about the awesome gym class I went to the other night, right?  Well, it really killed me and I have been SO SORE the past couple days.  I love it.

I’ve also developed a slight “pregnancy waddle,” so between the waddle and the soreness I’m lookin’ pretty funky these days.  Hee hee.

*********************

I’m happy to say that I made it to the gym again last night.  I just did the elliptical for 2.3 miles and the treadmill for 1.2 miles….so 3.5 miles total.  However, I am slower than cold tar right now, so it took me about 800 hours to get that in. ;-)

I’m usually not a super fast runner (typically between an 8:00-9:00 pace), but I always try to run as fast as I possibly can.  I like to be efficient with my workouts and “get ‘er done” quickly.  I also find a lot of satisfaction in pushing myself and running faster and farther than I thought I could.

With that being said, it has been SO HARD for me to see myself become a slower and slower “runner.”  I know a lot of ladies run (very fast!) throughout their entire pregnancies and I seriously have no idea how they do it!

I’ve been keeping my pace right around a 12:00-13:00 minute mile for the most part.  I sometimes kick it up to a  10:00ish/mile for short bursts, but I can’t do it for very long.  It makes my tummy feel like it’s contracting and it just feels weird….so I’ve just been listening to my body and keeping it slow.  Sometimes I kick the incline way up and just walk fast too.  It’s great.

I’ve also been feeling pretty poofy the past few days.  Blah.  It’s so hard to watch the scale go up, my fitness level go down and my body and face explode.  It’s okay though, I’ve learned with pregnancy to just be patient and not be too hard on myself.  Regardless of how giant, poofy and bloated I get, I have full intentions of getting back down to the weight and fitness level I used to be at.  In fact, I intend to get into the best shape of my life afterward.  It will be fun. ;-)

Anyway, I will continue to share pregnant pictures with you guys throughout this pregnancy, but I’m warning you….it might not be pretty. ;-)  For example, I took this picture last night at the gym.  I told y’all I was feelin’ poofy…

Me at the gym 22 weeks pregnant

Yikes.  For the sake of comparison, here’s a picture of myself wearing the same top just over a month ago…

One Month Difference at the gym, weight gain while pregnant

Now that is just sad. :-(  I’ve pretty much ballooned everywhere and it’s only been a month.  Sigh.  Pregnancy is not cute on me.  Oh well, I have just over 4 months to go.  Woo hoo.

Wait, that still sounds like a long time….dang it.

I also wanted to show you guys a cute picture of fitness model, Jamie Eason.  She is in amazing shape and I think she has the perfect body, however she had her first baby last summer.  She shared this picture on her Facebook page

Jamie Eason wedding and pregnant

The picture on the left is of her wedding day and the pic on the right was taken just before she gave birth.  I think she’s an absolutely darling pregnant lady, but it’s nice to see that even Jamie Eason can get a little poofy.

I really love her so much.  She seems like such a nice person and is such inspiration to me!

I also wanted to let y’all know that I finally updated the Exercise section of my blog!  Yay!  I’ve been wanting to update it for over a year now!  It doesn’t include a ton of workouts yet, but I plan to keep adding to it.  So, you can click on the Exercise tab to check it out, or click on this link.

I also have a new workout to share!  I call it “Three Great Moves that will Tone and Tighten Your Butt.”  Awesome.  I could really use that right now.

I especially love this workout because you don’t need any equipment at all….just your body!  You do need some sort of elevated surface (a curb, stair, bench, etc.) for the last exercise though.

Anyway, I actually made this workout video several months ago, but I never put it on the blog!  Here are the basics…

Move #1:  Single Leg Squat

Lift one leg and squat back just like you’re going to sit in a chair.  Do this 8 times on each leg.

One Legged Squat

Move #2:  Standing Single Leg Pulse

Lift one leg back and hinge your body forward.  Put your arms out (like an airplane) for balance.  Pulse your back leg up and down for one minute.  Repeat on the other leg.  Note:  Keep your standing knee soft.

Standing Single Leg Pulse

Move #3:  Elevated Rear Leg Leaning Forward Split Squat

Elevate one leg behind you using a bench, step, curb, etc.  Place your front leg out in front of you and hinge your body forward.  Place your hands on the small of your back.  Squat up and down 12 times.  Repeat on the other leg.

Elevated Rear Leg Leaning Forward Split Squat

Repeat entire workout three times.

That’s it!  You can do this as a quick workout or combine it with another workout for more of a challenge.  I hope you all enjoy it!

You can click on the image below to enlarge and print the entire workout too…

3 Great Moves to Tone & Tighten Your Butt Workout

And here’s the You Tube Video explaining each move in more detail.

I was planning on going to the gym tonight, but we have a million things we’re trying to get done!  I may just stay home and do this workout along with my Tight Arms Workout.  Sounds like a plan!

I hope you all have a great night!

 photo MySignature_zps3d321fd2.png
by Melanie

I Love Real Food, but I Really Love Easter Candy too!

April 8, 2014 in Family Life, Meal Ideas, Restaurant Food by Melanie

I’m very happy to say that I went to a wonderful class at the gym with my friend tonight!  It seriously kicked my can and I loved every second.  I also don’t think I’ll be able to walk tomorrow.

Awesome.

I’ve been very hit and miss with my workouts the past week or two.  It’s been very sad.  Between sickness, vacations and random kid obligations, it’s been SO TOUGH to fit exercise in!  I’ve missed it so much and have definitely felt the void.  But, it felt so good to be at the gym tonight!  Woo hoo.

********************

We went to Costco last night and stocked up on a bunch of their fresh berries!  Yum.  Unfortunately, they haven’t had blueberries in a long time and it’s making me very, very sad. :-)

This morning I decided to make a double batch of Protein Packed Pancakes so I could top them with the yummy berries.

A plate full of Protein Packed Pancakes

I topped mine with a little natural peanut butter, strawberries, raspberries and a drizzle of sugar-free syrup.

Protein Packed Pancakes topped with peanut butter, fruit and sugar free syrup

This seriously tastes just like Strawberry Shortcake for breakfast.  SO DANG GOOD!

We grilled chicken again for dinner last night.  We all agreed we could eat it every night and none of us would ever complain.  I also baked some sweet potatoes (regular potatoes for the kids) and made a big salad.

Salad, chicken and sweet potato for dinner

I like to keep all the salad fixin’s separate so everyone can put whatever they want on their salad.  I also think it helps to keep the leftovers more fresh.

Yummy salad fixins for dinner

Oh, and I’ve decided I absolutely LOVE sliced almonds so much!  I bought this big ol’ bag at Costco a couple months ago and I’m now addicted to them.  I add them to everything!

Sliced Almonds from Costco

I love to put them on oatmeal, salad or on top of my protein pudding.

I had this interesting combination for lunch the other day and it tasted so good to me!

Protein pudding topped with peanut butter and almonds with a side of chicken

I just made some protein pudding and topped it with a dollop of peanut butter and some sliced almonds.  I also had it with some leftover rotisserie chicken.  I love the crunch the almonds add!

For lunch today, I just threw a bunch of random leftovers together…

Chicken, rice, beans and salad for lunch

I had salad and chicken from last night and some brown rice and beans from several nights ago.  So yummy.  I love leftovers!  I hate wasting food and leftovers really simplify my life.  They make it so much easier to eat well too.  Score.

I had this for breakfast twice over the weekend…

Chocolate Chip Cookie Oatmeal

Chocolate Chip Cookie Oatmeal again

Chocolate Chip Cookie Oatmeal!  Ummmm, yum.  I love this oatmeal so much.  The only thing I don’t love about it is that I have to wait for it to cool before I add the chocolate chips, otherwise they just melt right into the oatmeal.  I’m not very good at being patient.  Melted chocolate chips are good too though. ;-)

I also made this wonderful lunch yesterday….

English Muffin with eggs, tomatoes and guac with strawberries

This was dang freaking good and I’m sure I’ll be making it again soon.  I just topped a whole grain English Muffin with fried eggs, tomato and guacamole (Wholly Guacamole.)  I also served it with a side of delicious strawberries.

Well, I think that’s enough of the food pics, eh?  I’ve still been trying to eat “real,” fresh food as much as I can, but I’m sorry to say I broke into the Easter candy yesterday and it wasn’t pretty.

I usually wait to buy Easter candy until a day or two before Easter because it seems to call my name from wherever it’s hiding. ;-)  However, I decided to buy a bunch last week so I could just get it done and not have to worry about it.

Well…….yesterday I heard the candy calling me from my closet, so I decided to indulge a bit.  Those darn Robin Eggs are too addicting, btw.  Oh, and I also ate a Cadbury egg….but only ONE.  I consider that to be a success.

It’s a good thing Easter candy is only available once a year because it is just too awesome.

Anyway, we had a fun weekend!  Kev’s childhood friend and his family were in town visiting from Oregon, so we went out to lunch with them on Saturday.

Olive Garden with great friends

We went to Olive Garden and I ordered the Lasagna Primavera.  It’s always SO good!

Olive Garden Lasagna Primavera

It’s 560 calories (not too bad) and it’s heavenly.  I think I’ve ordered it the last 3-4 times I’ve been to Olive Garden.  I also had a small serving of salad and a breadstick.  Awesome.

On Sunday, we went up to my parent’s house for a fun get-together.  We had a yummy BBQ dinner.  Here’s my plate…

Plate full of BBQ food

And here’s a typical pic of my sister and I with our my food…

Holly and I with our food at mom's

My mom asked ME to bring dessert, so I made a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies and really yummy brownies.  I forgot to take a picture until after they were almost gone!

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Brownies

I’m happy to say I didn’t have any cookies, BUT I did have a brownie….and it was divine.

After we ate, my mom planned a fun game.  We usually do an Easter Egg hunt at her house a few weeks before Easter, but this time she decided to do a fun game instead.

She filled a big Easter basket full of candy, toys and random prizes.  We split into groups of 3-4 people and took turns using a spoon to try to get as much “stuff” as we could in one minute.

It was a lot of fun.  The littlest kids got to use big ladles to get the prizes.

J and B doing Easter Minute to Win It

The rest of us just used regular big spoons…

Derek playing Easter Minute to Win ItBrooklyn playing Easter Minute to Win ItTy playing Easter Minute to Win It

Even us “big kids” got to take a turn!

Kev and my bros playing Easter Minute to Win ItPlaying Minute to Win It

It was so much fun and my mom had some really fun and yummy stuff in there!  I was especially happy to be the proud winner of not one, but TWO candy bracelets.  Happy day.

Me and my candy bracelets from Easter Minute to Win It

The kidlets really enjoyed their Ring Pops too and wanted me to take a picture of their colorful tongues.

Cute kids with blue tongues

We even sang “Happy Birthday” to this little cutie as well…

Singing Happy Birthday to Jacob at mom's

It was a fun weekend.  I’m so grateful for my family.  I love them all so so so much!

Oh, and I managed to get a 21 week prego picture of myself too…

Me 21 weeks pregnant

Well, that’s ’bout all I have to say tonight.  It’s getting late and I need to get my little expanding bum into bed.  ‘Night!

 photo MySignature_zps3d321fd2.png