Immune Boosting Gummies

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have some hippy tendencies! I hate taking my kids to the doctor. I mean, I’ll go if I need to. But I try to avoid it at all costs. A) it’s expensive and B) I feel like they’ll contract some other illness while they’re there. So instead, I focus on building their immune systems rather than always being on the defensive and curing the sickness after it’s hit!

The gym we go to has an amazing childcare facility. That being said, there are lots of children and LOTS of colds and viruses going around all the time. The most recent was hand foot and mouth. I heard about kids dropping like flies over a period of two weeks. And after going through it with Turner two years ago, I started having post traumatic stress tics just reliving the terror in my mind. He had the worst case I’d ever seen. Like, the kind you google and cringe when you see the photos. It was more like “Hand Foot Mouth Butt and Entire Body”. This is what he looked like ….

I’m sorry you had to see that. But now you understand my fear! With HFM running rampant, and school starting this week, we have kicked our immune boosting remedies into high gear! These are some of the things we do!

1. Probiotics in the kids’ milk or yogurt every morning.
2. Turmeric and cinnamon in their yogurt. Turmeric has a lot of antibacterial and antiviral properties. It’s actually quite amazing. You should google it! When I start to feel sick I take a tsp of turmeric mixed with a tsp or two of local honey. I’ve started giving that to Turner too (1/2 the dose) now that he’s older and can handle it. I call it his “honey medicine”.
3. Immune Boosting Oils–You can read more about oils HERE. I’ve been using them for a few years now and I just love them! I could talk about them forever and describe every kind I love and why! But for now, I’ll stick to the topic. In this glass roller bottle I combine 10 drops thieves, 10 drops frankincense, 5 drops lemon, 5 drops purification and fill the rest with a carrier oil. I roll it on the bottoms of their feet morning and night, put socks on, and apply pressure for a few seconds. They love it! I also diffuse Thieves during naps and bedtime for an hour or so. Keep in mind, this is when we’re fighting or trying to prevent something! I don’t go this overboard on the daily.
4. And last, but not least, I make these gummies packed with everything but the kitchen sink! They’re delicious and they really work! The kids haven’t been sick in ages. And if they do get a cold, it seems milder compared to how they used to be! I put turmeric, Spinach Powder, Beet Powder, Elderberry Syrup, Gelatin (similar HERE), and local honey in them.

Let me know how you like these! Feel free to comment with your favorite booger busting tricks!

Elderberry Gummies
Yields 115
Immune Boosting Gummies
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Ingredients
  1. 1/3 cup tart cherry juice
  2. 3 Tbsp gelatin
  3. 1 tsp spinach powder
  4. 1 tsp beet powder
  5. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  6. 3 T honey
  7. 1 tsp arrowroot powder
  8. 4 oz elderberry syrup
Instructions
  1. Microwave cherry juice in a large bowl for 30 seconds.
  2. Whisk in the gelatin until completely combined.
  3. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients, in order, one at a time until completely combined.
  4. Pour into molds and refrigerate for at least two hours. Store in the fridge.
Notes
  1. *Molds-I used 100 small gummy bear molds and 15 larger silicone molds that I had on hand. If I give them gummy bears, I'll give them about 5 or 6 as one serving. If I give them the larger gummies, I give them one or two.
  2. *The gelatin is grassfed collagen. It has great health benefits. Most ingredients can be found on Amazon (linked above) or Thrive Market App.
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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Total Solar Eclipse

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had the song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” stuck in my head for weeks! Today was the big day! People have been buzzing about it for weeks! Warnings about traffic jams, millions of visitors, and running out of water and milk …. ok maybe not that last part. But, for real, people have been going nuts! Charleston is smack in the path of “totality” and we were the last spot the eclipse would be seen! So on top of being a hot tourist spot to begin with, we had a lot of visitors to witness this once-in-a-lifetime-event! You could imagine that being an owner of a vacation rental company would keep me quite busy for this event, and it has! But today, for about 2 minutes and 40 seconds, I was able to soak this in with the fam!

Photo credit for the last one of “totality” goes to my amazing friend and photographer Judy Fairchild!

It was breathtaking to say the least. Experiencing it live was amazing! A hush came over us as the day quickly went from dusk to dawn to daylight in a matter of minutes! Hard to explain. It was AWEsome! We hung out with our neighbors and awaited the big moment! Turner was especially into it (yellow shirt).

Turner couldn’t keep his eyes off it! He was entranced. He screamed with updates every three minutes to make sure we all knew the moon was still moving. He just told me before bed that it was his favorite part of the day. Sweet boy! It was mine too! There was something so humbling and special about it! I’m so glad we got to witness it!

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NJ Visit

We’re back from our whirlwind of a trip to NJ. We took two days to drive to and from and had 3 full days there. The first day, we drove 8 hours and then stayed at a hotel just below DC. We actually did pretty well! We wanted to get a majority of the driving over with on day one. The kids were really good! In the beginning of the trip we gave them a bunch of books to read.

We had tons of snacks being passed around the car, which helped distract when they started getting antsy! And then, of course they would nod off at one point or another.

We saved our secret weapon for last….the Portable DVD Player! My girlfriend let us borrow hers, and it was a lifesaver! About 6 hours in, they were so ready to be done. But just about that time, we popped in Beauty and the Beast and they totally forgot that they wanted to get out of the car! I don’t know how our parents did this when we were kids!

After a long day of driving, we got a nice big supper somewhere close to our hotel. This time it was Cracker Barrel. And of course, the kids loved this! Pancakes for supper!! CHEEEEESE!

On day two of driving, we got up at 5am and left the hotel by 5:30 so we could beat DC traffic. We zipped to NJ in under 4 hours. It was great! The return trip was similar. Except 8 hours landed us in NC instead of DC. We love getting the hard leg of the trip over with on day one!

Our time there was wonderful and, as always, too short. Being with our family makes us realize how much we miss them! We got to do all of our favorite things in that short amount of time.

A day trip to Princeton…



A pool day and BBQ with my Big Italian Family where everyone laughs constantly, talks loudly, and there are at least 4 conversations happening at once. The night always ends by singing hymns with about 50 different harmonies going on. Did I mention everyone is a musician at this table? There’s nothing better!

And lots of time at Pop-Pop’s house for snuggles, reading, and playing…


It’s always hard to leave. We love our routine at home, but we can’t get enough of our family! The trip really isn’t bad, so we will just have to find little windows throughout the year to make the trip! But, for now, we’re home and settled and ready to get back into our school year routine!

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Summer Bucket List

I can NOT believe it’s August! What happened to this summer!? Turner was in camp pretty much all summer, which he loved, but it left me missing him! I definitely had some quality time with Gracie which was wonderful! But now that we have less than a month before school starts, I want to soak up the last few weeks of summer with our babies! Here’s our bucket list of what we MUST do before school starts!

We already got a jump start on our list since we don’t have much time! AND, we’re taking a trip to NJ next week to visit our family and friends! It was a last minute decision. We’re feeling extra spontaneous these days! We can certainly hit some things on our list while we’re visiting the fam. That will be all the more fun! Can’t wait to share our adventures!

 

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We Did It!

And just like that, we successfully completed Whole 30! I feel like the month flew by! I quite enjoyed the challenge. It made me stop and think before mindlessly shoving food in my mouth.

Some things we will take with us:
*Our new obsession with homemade cashew creamer (recipe HERE).
*Lower sugar intake– for instance, when sugar can be avoided, we will do so! That means reading labels. Things like almond milk, peanut butter, & salad dressing with sugar as an ingredient get a big HECK NO!
*Ice cream will be a luxury and not a nightly occurrence.
*I’ll have healthy snacks & desserts ready to eat so we’re not inclined to eat sugary snacks & desserts.
*I like carbs and grains. They don’t have an adverse affect on me, so I will keep them in my diet (whole wheat, whole grains, brown rice, etc)
*I love a good glass of wine at night, so unless I’m pregnant or nursing, I will indulge.
*Planning for the week is necessary. Here is a shot of our fridge set up for a week of deliciousness! I will continue the meal prep over the weekend so our weeknights are easy, especially with school starting in a few weeks!

And now, our final week of meals (here are weeks ONE, TWO, and THREE)! It was a great month of recipes. We will keep a lot of these meals for dinner ideas because we really enjoyed them!

Saturday: Meat Sauce on zucchini noodles (meat sauce left over from this recipe because it made a ton)
Sunday: Egg Roll in a Bowl (Thanks Rachele!) This was a great one! We left out the mayo and it was just as tasty.

Monday: Pork Carnitas
Tuesday: Crock Pot Chicken Chile

Wednesday:Fajita Sweet Potatoes
Thursday: Stir Fry (yes this is the third time because it’s seriously delicious and super easy! Thanks, Kait)
Friday: Egg Frittata Tart (tart recipe below. I just followed the recipe and pre-baked the tarts earlier in the day. Then when we were ready for dinner, I whisked 4 eggs, salt & pepper. Filled the tarts. Topped with prosciutto and tomatoes and baked for about 8 minutes at 350*F until the eggs were firm.

Grain Free Tart
A grain free version of a classic tart. Can be used for savory or sweet dishes.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups blanched almond flour
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  4. 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  5. 2 Tbsp cold water
  6. 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325*F
  2. Lightly grease 11x7 inch tart pan
  3. Combine almond flour, egg, arrowroot, coconut oil, water, and salt in standing mixer with beater attachment.
  4. Beat on medium speed until loose dough forms.
  5. Gather dough and press it into the bottom of the pan and up the sides.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden on the edges.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool.
Notes
  1. I filled the tarts with eggs, prosciutto, and tomato. I baked for an additional 8-10 minutes and served warm.
Adapted from Celebrations
Adapted from Celebrations
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

A friend of mine asked me what our next challenge would be. She mentioned something called “Fright Camp” where you sign up for 12 hours of “pure hell”. You’re dropped in an abandoned camp and chased through the woods by zombies… I think I’ll stick with something less petrifying ;o)

 

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House Projects-Mantel

We’ve been wanting to replace the mantel in our house since the day we moved in! The trim work and attention to detail in this house are so beautiful, and it didn’t quite fit. We did our best to work with it, but it’s been on our to-do list. Here’s a shot of the old mantel.

This past weekend we finally did it! Stew worked for two days tearing down the old and rebuilding the new. Here’s the progress:

Once he finished his part, it was my turn. I did all the caulking and nail hole filling. I sanded it down and painted over the brick and wood to match our trim. It came out perfect! It was exactly what we envisioned! Now I’m counting down the days until I can start decorating it for the holidays!!

 

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Whole 30 Week 3

Ok. I’m ready for a glass of wine. The first three weeks weren’t too bad. At this point I’m forgetting why I did this in the first place! But now it’s about willpower! I didn’t come this far to quit now! Stew and I are going on a date tonight for the first time since this thing started because, what the heck do we eat at a restaurant that’s not cooked in butter or loaded with cheese?! So, we’ll get a burger bowl or a salad and bring our own vinaigrette because, side note, did you realize EVERY dressing has sugar in it!? Every. Single. One.

I have made some changes that I actually enjoy and will keep: I’ve had more veggies the past three weeks than I’ve ever had in my life, and I like it. I feel like I might even roast up some sweet potatoes dusted in cinnamon during the day rather than pour a big bowl of starchy cereal. I don’t miss ice cream like I thought I would. I might even be able to do this no dairy thing … the jury’s still out on that one.

I’ve learned a few things along the way: cashew butter is great, but could never replace my beloved peanut butter. Sugar is literally in everything. I will read food labels even closer than I already did, which I didn’t think was possible. Maple syrup and honey are necessary when making baked goods. I made my favorite pumpkin muffins but replaced the honey with applesauce (my desire for fall is full on, but that’s for another day) and they literally tasted like cardboard. But I ate them anyway, because 1) I made the effort and 2) these ingredients ain’t cheap.

Now, for the good stuff! Our meals were GREAT this week! Here’s the menu:

Saturday: Burger on a bun (I’d actually skip the bun next time) with sweet potato “fries” (tossed with some olive oil and cinnamon and baked at 415*F)
Sunday: Chicken Stir Fry

Monday: Loaded sweet potatoes

Tuesday: Zoodles with Meatballs

Wednesday: Lemon Chicken (similar HERE just add the juice of a lemon to the marinade) with roasted sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts

Thursday: Bolognese over sweet potato noodles

Friday: Date night! We’re about to get us a nice big salad with homemade vinaigrette! Couples who Whole 30 together stay together??

Feel free to comment with must-try recipes for our final week! Have a great weekend!

 

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Whole 30 Week 2!

As I sit here and write this post, my kids are tossing colored pencils across the living room floor and racing to get them screaming, “FIREWORK!” But are they fighting? No. Are they crying? No. Are they playing together nicely and laughing? YES! I have no idea what’s actually happening in there, but I’m ok with that.

So we have finished week two of Whole 30! We’re at the point where we’re like, ehhh do we want to do this anymore? And I’m like… yea because I’m blogging about it! So on the up side, I feel amazing! I’m not starving (as long as I’m prepared), and my joints don’t hurt! I’m talking, I’ve had chronic ankle pain for 7 years, and it hasn’t felt this good since then! So it’s worth finishing this thing out! On the downside, it’s really hard to be social. We love getting together with friends and having BBQs. We have to bring our food and plan ahead, which is a challenge. AND, we can’t have a drink while chatting with our friends! I didn’t think that would be a struggle for me, but it is! But I keep telling myself I can do anything for 30 days!

One meal was an epic fail… the BBQ chicken casserole. I couldn’t find a compliant BBQ sauce so attempted to make my own. It literally tasted like spaghetti squash mixed with tomato paste. We ate it, but that was one I probably wouldn’t recommend unless you actually had BBQ sauce! I’m sure it would be delicious if that was the case! The rest were great! Lunches again were a mix of bars, smoothies, salads, & muffins. I made a few snacks that were BOMB and that are perfect for munching on for breakfast or throughout the day!

Snacks:

Plantain Chips/Chocolate Muffins/Banana Muffins/Nut Balls (I named them that because it’s hilarious when my kids ask for them)

And who can forget my afternoon iced coffee with creamy dreamy cashew creamer (recipe HERE)! Words can’t describe how velvety and luxurious this creamer is. For real. Ditch your almond milk and go whip up a batch of this. Add just a splash of full fat coconut milk (from the can–shake well before opening) and you’ve got yourself an afternoon delight!

Meals:

Saturday: Thai Chicken w/ Peanut Sauce <<–SO GOOD (Thanks, Kait)!
Sunday: BBQ Chicken Casserole
Monday: Spaghetti Squash with Ground Turkey, Tomatoes & Herbs (photograph below)
Tuesday: Cauliflower Tacos (regular ol’ tacos but on a cauliflower tortilla with ground turkey, tomatoes, lettuce and a bit of salsa)
Wednesday: Sweet Potato Waffles (photograph below)
Thursday: Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (Instead of the Rotel and taco seasoning, I just mixed the chicken with Franks Hot Sauce and topped with a few goodies: guac, scallions, tomatoes)

Just like that, two weeks down and two to go! I’m running out of clever dinner ideas, so feel free to share! Happy weekend, Friends! XOXO

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Whole 30 Week 1 Meal Plan

We got through our first week of Whole 30! We even muscled through a slew of BBQ’s to celebrate the 4th by packing and preparing our own food so we wouldn’t be tempted!

I feel like there’s a ton of info about Whole30 online. HERE is a link to the official site. One thing they say is that you shouldn’t try to recreate your favorite foods even if the ingredients are Whole30 compliant. I’ll tell you right now, I ignored that rule. I kept the ingredients legit, but I made things like “ice cream”, pancakes, and tortillas. So there’s my warning…don’t yell at me!

On that note, follow me on Instagram because I’ll be posting random smoothies and snacks as we go. There’s SO MUCH to share that it’s hard to organize it into blog posts. So that will give you snippets of food options too!

1.) For starters, I loaded up on a few staples so I had things to eat in a pinch and then made a specific meal and grocery list:
-Cashews (for ice creams and creamer)
Larabars (cherry pie this week)
RX Bar (Chocolate)
-Cashew butter (Read ingredients! NO SUGAR)
-Avocados
-Bananas
-Lemons
-Limes
-Dates
-Tapioca flour
Arrowroot Starch
Coconut Flour
Super Fine Almond Flour
-Lacroix

2.) Next step was to create a menu. I read through each recipe and wrote out a grocery list. Tip–Do your grocery shopping in one day. That’s a money saver! Each time you go to the grocery store (if you’re anything like me), you will most likely impulse buy an item or five!

3.) Meal prep! Things that can be made in advance (like tortillas, pancakes, egg cups, smoothie packs) do so! I picked two breakfast ideas for the week and prepped in advance. I spent an hour (during nap time) on Saturday making breakfast burritos and potato fritters to put in the freezer so they were ready once our week started. We also had the option of regular ol’ scrambled eggs and bacon or a smoothie, but if we wanted a bigger breakfast that we didn’t have to prepare the morning of, these were super helpful!

Breakfast and Lunch were more of grab and go type meals. For breakfast we had Breakfast Burritos (<<– printable and downloadable pdf recipe) and Hash Stacks <<–linked to recipe. One tip for the hash stacks is I made all of the potato fritters and froze them in a flat layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and then moved to a gallon size ziplock bag to have quick access in the morning. I reheated in the oven at 350 degrees F for 5 minutes and topped with my egg, avocado, and salsa.

When we weren’t hungry for a big breakfast, we just did some eggs and/or a smoothie with an RX bar or Larabar for a late morning snack.

Lunch was nothing to write home about. It was either leftovers, smoothies, avocado-tomato-cucumber salad, or one of those in combination with another!

Week 1 Dinner Menu:
Saturday: Grilled chicken with simple side salad (vinaigrette recipe here)
Sunday: Birthday dinner at my mom’s house– we ate what we could (Grilled sausage with some salad. Berries & watermelon for dessert)
Monday: 4th of July BBQ (we made some lemon chicken just for us while the rest ate our regular menu. Same recipe HERE just add juice of 1 lemon to marinade.
Tuesday: Spaghetti Squash with meat sauce (use tomatoes and sausage without sugar added! Read labels).
Wednesday: Tapioca flat breads (crust recipe HERE) —once crust is prepared and baked, top with sauce, prosciutto, cherries, and figs. Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes.  INCREDIBLE if do I say so myself!
Thursday: Roasted Veggie Hash (<<– printable and downloadable pdf recipe. Choose sausage with no added sugar)
Friday: Sloppy Joe Bowls (recipe HERE)

Flat Bread From Wednesday Night:



Veggie Sausage & Egg Hash from Thursday Night:

 So overall it hasn’t been too bad. The hardest thing is being sure I don’t mindlessly grab food while I’m making the kids’ lunch and dinner. I separated our Whole 30 friendly snacks in our cabinet so I know where I can grab from. The most helpful thing was having those bars I mentioned earlier and other homemade snacks ready so I’m not stuck starving and having to whip something major up in the middle of the day! Another thing I learned is that I like eating ice cream before bed…even if I don’t want it! It’s a bad habit. So we’ve been making “nice-cream” every night which has been hitting the spot! I’ll share a recipe once I perfect the measurements!

Happy Friday! I hope you all have an amazing weekend!

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4th of July and Self Control

I don’t know whose idea it was to do Whole 30 over 4th of July! We literally had three days of BBQ’s. We contemplated starting over on the fifth, but we were already 3 days in, and I kinda wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, even with 7 layer dip, crescent roll wrapped hot dogs, and deviled eggs staring me in the face.

Guess what! We did it! We made food for our friends and had a little separate dish of grilled lemon chicken for us. We also ate and drank our body weight in watermelon and LaCroix. If I was more prepared I could have made a Whole 30 feast for everyone! But my impulsive decision to start on July 1st left me lacking a plan, so alas, I stuck to our original menu!

We had a blast! And having three separate occasions to dress Turner and Gracie in the festive outfits my mother in law sent was the icing on the cake!

Our neighbors across the street set off the loudest, most obnoxious fireworks! Up until this year, Turner would wake up hysterically crying because the noise scared him beyond words. I’m thinking he might be able to handle some firework action this year. So our plan is to keep Turner up and watch them! Hey, if you can’t beat ’em join ’em! Can’t wait to mix up a mocktail and party it up! Happy 4th!!

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