Last September Weekend

If you can believe it, September is gone. And to celebrate, I’m sharing a quick weekend recap, one-sentence-per-photo style.

We kicked off the weekend with a trip to the Natural History Museum.

It was a gorgeous Friday to enjoy their outdoor animal area (which has some play areas for kids).

Saturday we did some shopping at the West Side Market.

It had been too long since we had been there.

We took an afternoon stroll around the neighborhood.

And ended up on the nearby playground.

The weekend also included a little run with this lady in the stroller.

We also got in a nice walk around the neighborhood.

And finished up with dinner at the grandparents’ house with the cousins!

A quick post for a weekend gone way too quick.

Some questions for you:

  • How many cousins do you have?
  • Did you run this weekend?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps!

Too Much Fun Stuff

Well, I think we outdid ourselves this weekend. In just 2-ish days, our weekend included (and not in this order):

  • 2 Indians games
  • A date night
  • Cookie baking
  • Muffin making
  • A visit to a new local bar/brewery
  • A block party
  • A family birthday dinner
  • A 5K race
  • A nature walk

See what I mean? I didn’t even include work, which took up a few hours of my weekend as well! Good thing I like being busy.

Friday night started out with a date night! B and I went to the new Southern Tier and grabbed drinks. I of course had to get a Pumpking- they had a coffee stout kind that was amazing!

We will definitely be back.

After that, we were off to the Indians game! This is our 9th game of the season together.

It was just the 2 of us at the game for the first time all season! It was nice to just relax and enjoy the game.

Saturday morning FW and I let LM and B sleep in, so we started off the morning by making muffins!

Later in the morning, we took a walk to the nature center. It was packet pickup for a race we had planned for Sunday. FW enjoyed checking out the turtle.

And then we went fot a short nature walk.

That afternoon included some cookie baking.

And then we took said cookies in our wagon and headed to our block party!

Everything was really kid friendly. FW loved the chalk.

And the donut game- you had to try to eat it on the string without any hands!

There was also a game that involved eating whipped cream with no hands.

And an egg toss.

Not a bad block party, right?

Sunday morning started early with a 5k race around the Shaker Lakes.

It was my first race pushing the stroller the entire time – B pushed LM and I pushed FW – and it was fun!

My goal was to do under 10 minute miles and we did it – so I was happy.

In the afternoon, we headed to another Indians game. This time, with FW.

After the game, it was time for dinnernat B’s parents’ house. We celebrated his birthday with his favorite- steak for dinner and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for dessert.

And that’s a wrap! Some questions for you:

  • Do you like chocolate cake?
  • Did you get to do any races this weekend?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps

Visiting the Farm (plus beer, running and more)

It was another great weekend in CLE, and it was nice to have a weekend to ourselves with no weddings or big events planned. Which meant we of course ended up packing in tons of fun activities into the two days.

Friday night started with an impromptu birthday celebration for B’s brother. We went to the Flats for pizza, beer and bocce with the kids to celebrate FW’s uncle John.

After dinner, we got to take a walk along the water with FW’s cousins.

Saturday, we started off the day with a walk (me and LM) and bike ride (FW, B and his grandparents) to the farmers market.

After picking up some veggies for dinner and taking in the music, we headed home. Because we had some fun activities planned for the rest of the afternoon – FW and I were going to my Ladies Craft Beer Society together! My friend Reanna was hosting and she has a large property with bees, chickens, goats and more.

FW loves animals and couldn’t wait to see the chickens and the goats. So, after I hung out with the ladies and completed my craft (the macrame plant holder FW is holding), it was time to explore!

FW LOVED the chickens and goats. He was able to feed them both and follow them around for a while. He really enjoyed the farm and now of course I want some chickens!

Saturday night, B grilled up some veggie burgers and veggies we had gotten at the Farmers Market. I love farm fresh meals in the summer!!

Sunday morning started with a stroller run for the family- B took LM and I took FW for a 3.33 mi route. After we finished, we decided to keep running another 1.5 or so miles to literally run some errands. I was pooped (and FW’s face shows how I felt).

Sunday afternoon included some pancakes for FW. He even helped make them.

And naps! All around.

Followed by yard work, groceries for the week (and a little meal planning/prep) plus cleaning. This totally counts as cleaning, right?

And to end our weekend, per usual, we enjoyed Sunday dinner at B’s parents’ house. FW and LM are so lucky- they got to see Grandma and Grandpa 3 days in a row this weekend (and 4 days for Grandma, who babysat on Thursday!).

Some questions for you:

  • What types of chores, if any, do you do on weekends?
  • Do you take naps?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps!

Mary is Married!

We had a GREAT weekend filled with good food and celebrations here in Cleveland. Why? My sister-in-law Mary got married!

Thursday night was the rehearsal dinner and it was right in her parents (B’s parents) backyard. We had a great backyard bbq and the weather was perfect!

Some of the food – brisket, pasta, asparagus, salad and bread!

My parents also came into town to help watch the kids during the festivities. So, Friday morning my mom and started the day with mother-daughter pedicures. My feet needed it!

My parents helped watch the kids at the ceremony in the church. FW was pretty good but LM got fussy about halfway through. I was so glad they were there to help out and of course spend time with us!

FW took some selfies while we waited for the event to begin …

After the church it was time for the party! The event took place at an old arcade downtown and it was a beautiful location. FW loved dancing and of course seeing the beautiful bride!

Me and my other sister-in-law hung out as well (we also shared an Uber home since our husbands – brothers of the bride – went to the after party).

B and I got to dance a little after my parents took the kids home. It was nice to have some kid-free time. 

It was a late night, so Saturday was pretty slow. We all took naps (bonus points since both LM and FW napped at the same time that afternoon!) but then went out for a walk in the late afternoon. We stopped a playground for FW.

And then walked to get some pizza! Mushroom, pepperoni and roasted garlic, yum!

After FW was in bed, B and I watched I, Tonya. Have you seen it? I thought it was pretty good. I’m not super into figure skating and didn’t know much about the incident. I know it was a movie, but I still felt like I learned a lot.

Sunday morning, B made us all pancakes! Even a special blueberry bear for FW. 

Then, the four of us went for a run outside. The weather was so much better – low 70s and not humid – and it made it much more bearable than last week’s hot and humid run. I pushed FW, while B pushed LM in the stroller.

Total, we got in about 3.7 miles – my longest(and fastest!) postpartum run to date!

Sunday afternoon was another lazy one – we all took naps again (!yay!) but played outside, went for a walk and played with my newest toy – a RHUMBA! I bought it for Prime Day and LOVE it so far.

That about sums up our wedding weekend. Still one more to go (my cousin’s) this summer!

Some questions for you:

  • Did it cool down near you?
  • Do you have a smart vacuum or robot vacuum?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps!

Cherry, Strawberry and Rhubarb Crisp

When it comes to desserts, B is a big fan of anything strawberry-rhubarb related, especially pies, crisps and cobblers. I, on the other hand, are more of  a cookie fan – especially good chocolate and white chocolate chip cookies. Opposites attract? Perhaps (after all, as B says, I have more of a “sweet tooth” and he has a “meat tooth”). But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good crisp every so often.

Since strawberries, cherries and rhubarb are all in season (yay for summertime!) I decided to pair them all together for this recipe. The tanginess of the rhubarb goes great with the sweetness of the cherries and strawberries and the color of the fruit mixed together is simply gorgeous! Confession: I’ve now made a variation on this recipe THREE times this summer. Does that mean I’m now more of a fan of cookies than cobblers/crisps/etc? No … but this IS good! Definitely scroll down below the recipe for some notes to see other ways to make this delicious recipe.

Cherry, Strawberry and Rhubarb Crisp

Here’s what you need:

  • 8 Tablespoons cold butter, sliced into tabs
  • 2 cups pitted cherries, sliced in half
  • 2 cups strawberries, cut in half (or cut smaller if you have really big berries – I like all my fruit to be about the size of the rhubarb)
  • 2 cups of rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup pecans

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray or butter.
  2. Toss rhubarb, strawberries and cherries with white sugar and spread in baking dish.
  3. Put butter in a food processor along with brown sugar, flour, oats and nuts and pulse until it is completely combined, at least one minute. It will look like a dough and no longer be separate. This is the topping.
  4. Crumble and spread the topping over the fruit and bake about 40-45 minutes or until it just starts to turn brown.

Notes:

  • You can make this with a variety of fruits, just make sure that you have 5-6 cups of fruit total. Got more cherries than strawberries? That’s fine! A cherry rhubarb crisp is delicious on its own. And, cherries and strawberries together work nicely also. If you’re doing more sweeter fruits (like strawberries) than rhubarb, you may want to cut down on the sugar, though.
  • The topping can be made with just walnuts, just pecans or a mixture of both. I prefer a mixture of both or just pecans.
  • For the topping, you must mix it well enough so it forms almost a dough. A few times I’ve made something like this but made the topping more crumb-like and it does not hold up well in baking.
  • What’s the difference between a crumble, crisp and cobbler? Why is this a crisp? Because the topping contains oats! See more, here. #nowyouknow

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like rhubarb?
  • Prefer fruit desserts or chocolate desserts?

Disclosure: Northwest Cherries provided me some cherries to sample. All reviews and opinions are my own.

Chunky Chocolate Cherry Bars

I LOVE chocolate chip cookies, especially blondies. They’re one of my favorite things to bake because they not only taste delicious, but they’re so easy – just pour into a pan and bake!

So when once again Northwest Cherries reached out and asked if I’d like to try some of their cherries, I of course said yes.  I mean, look at these beauties.

This time, I was planning on doctoring up some blondies to include some of their delicious cherries. I used one of my favorite blondie recipes (found here) to come up with a chocolate cherry blondie. Because chocolate and cherries not only look good together – but they taste good, too!

And, I chose today to share these with you. Do you know why? Because it’s National Rainier Cherry Day! Did you know that was a holiday?

That’s right,  July 11 marks National Rainier Cherry Day, commemorating this sweet treat named after Washington state’s famous volcanic peak. Nutrient-rich volcanic soil along with more sunlight in the Northwest creates an optimum growing environment making for high-quality and extra sweet cherries. (So, maybe that’s why when I toss cherry seeds into our garden, they don’t grow into cherry trees?)

To celebrate, I highly suggest you make these. The chocolate + cherry combo is PERFECT.

Chunky Chocolate Cherry Bars

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips – I like to do half chocolate and half white chocolate chunks
  • 1 heaping cup of cherries, pitted and cut in half  – I used this to pit the cherries and it works SO much better than doing it by hand!

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 8×8 baking pan with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Melt butter. When we first moved into our new home, we didn’t have a microwave, so I had to do this on the stove. Now, it’s even easier because I can do this in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl.
  3. Add brown sugar to butter (if you did this in the microwave, use the same bowl – just add the brown sugar to this bowl!).
  4. Add in egg and vanilla.
  5. Incorporate the flour and mix until just combined.
  6. Fold in cherries and chocolate and white chocolate chips/chunks.
  7. Spread mixture into prepared baking pan. I like to set aside a few cherries and chocolate chunks to place on top of the batter because it looks nice 🙂
  8. Place in oven and bake for 32-38 minutes. (Mine were done in 37 minutes)
  9. Let them cool in pan for about 10-15 minutes. Then, let them cool completely outside the pan – I like to let them cool for at least 1 hour.  Cut them up into bars and enjoy!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like the chocolate+cherry combo?
  • What’s your favorite cherry dessert? Least favorite? Believe it or not, I do NOT like cherry pie!

Disclosure: Northwest Cherries provided me some cherries to sample. All reviews and opinions are my own.

Summery Grilled Chicken, Avocado, Goat Cheese and Cherry Salad

Now that I’m no longer pregnant and I’m nursing, I’m trying to make a conscious effort to eat healthy again. What does this mean for me? It doesn’t mean cutting out sweets (sorry LM, but I have a sweet tooth!), but instead, it’s about balance. Which means finding ways to get my veggies in.

When I was pregnant, I was turned off by salads and a lot of veggies for some reason. But now that I’m not, I am happy to eat them again! There are only 2 things getting in my way:

  1. I’m turned off by boring food – if I’m going to have a salad, I want it to be FUN!
  2. I don’t have much free time lately. My hands are full literally most of the day (see: nursing a newborn) and then at night when I’m juggling 2 kids, one of whom is a needy and hungry toddler, I don’t feel like spending too much time preparing a meal.

That’s where this salad comes in. It’s anything BUT boring – look at it! It’s colorful! Doesn’t it just shout, “summer”?

AND it can be prepped in advance. I was able to prep all the ingredients throughout the day and then it only took 2 minutes to pull it together at dinner time. Plus, Half of the ingredients were things that I could put on FW’s plate, too, so we all could enjoy a similar dinner, which doesn’t happen often!

See FW’s food vs ours

I can barely call this a recipe because it’s just throwing a few foods together, but in case this inspires you – here it is.

Summery Grilled Chicken, Avocado, Goat Cheese and Cherry Salad

For us, this served 2

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup chopped grilled chicken – I got lucky and B had grilled the night before so we had leftover grilled chicken
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 4-6 cherries, pitted and sliced in half – I used Skylar Rae cherries* because of their sweetness, firm texture and beautiful color
  • 3 cups lettuce
  • 1/2 cup other veggies of your choosing – I did roasted sweet potatoes and sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup other protein of your choosing – I did chickpeas, hard-boiled egg and ham
  • Your favorite dressing – mine is an easy balsamic dressing with mustard (similar recipe, here)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Prepare your ingredients. Measure out your chicken, goat cheese, avocado and cherries. The Skylar Rae cherries are perfect for this salad because of their sweetness and nice crisp texture.
  2. Place on top of lettuce.
  3. Gather other ingredients of your choice – I also added roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, chickpeas, hard-boiled egg and ham. Some other toppings that would be good include tomato, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, edamame, etc. Also, this could easily be a vegetarian salad – simply swap out the chicken and ham for other proteins, such as lentils.
  4. Top with salad dressing.

See how easy that was? Enjoy!

*Disclaimer: Stemilt sent me some complimentary Skylar Rae cherries, and I loved them. I mostly just ate them, but also put them into this salad. All views are my own.