Food, family, and fitness... all with a bit of style.

Friday Favorites....What a Year!

I cannot believe it is the last Friday of 2016!! This was one of our best years yet! I am so excited for 2017 and what it will bring for this little blog. I am kicking off with a focus on food in January. Starting on January 10th, I will be sharing my Meal Plan Monday. 5 healthy, simple dishes you can put on the table each night. I will be sharing recipes & tips to tweak some dishes for little taste buds. So if you are not sure to click at the bottom of our blog to follow us... you can also check us out on Facebook or Instagram!
And  since it's Friday......I am linking up with  AndreaNarci, and Erika to share my favorites from this week.  Make that my favorites from this year!
What better way to end the year than sharing my favorites from each month of our year! I'll be sure to link what I have blogged about, so you can catch up on anything you missed!
January in Buffalo, January means cold & snow. And in January it's fun...we sled, ski, make snowmen. The snow is fun and I loved this picture from last January. ps- Maddie is a huge fan of the snow! 
Florida! Every winter break we take a break from the snow and head down to Florida to visit Paul's parents. The past few years we have driven down and try to stop and have an adventure or see something new on our way home. This past trip we stopped in Crystal River, FL to swim with the manatee and it was such an amazing experience!
In March we celebrated sweet Maddie's first birthday. We had paw print paper plates & hats... and I made her a peanut butter treat. Her friend Arthur came to help us celebrate!
Luke turned 7! We had a fun football themed party to celebrate. He wanted to play football for the party, but it snowed and was freezing. Yes... in April. That snow I said was so fun in January is not so fun in April! The boys pinned the ball between the goal posts, wore their favorite team jersey, and got to make their own jerseys too!
Ella made her First Holy Communion. It was a very special day for her. We were happy to celebrate this day with our parents, Ella's godparents, family and good friends!
Yay! School's out!!! Can't beat the end of school and the start of summer!!! June also brings Ella's dance recital & Luke's baseball season is in full swing!

Oh I love summer so much!!!! It's really hard to narrow down memories to just one for these summer months...we try to soak up everything we can. We take full advantage of the longer days!! I loved our town's 4th of July parade, Paul & I had so much fun with friends at the Zac Brown concert, lots of boating, paddleboarding, first time to the drive -in movie., swimming, backyard fires, lemonade stands...July was awesome! I guess this pic sums up how great July was!
Well... August was a continuation of July's fun Summer stuff! We also went to Star Wars night at our baseball park, went to visit friends at the beach for a few days, and Paul's parents came to visit from Florida. We had a record setting beautiful Summer and we did not miss a minute of it!
Back to school, celebrated Ella's birthday, and launched my blog. September was filled with all things apple! You can check out some of my apple posts here and read all about Ella's fun Hollywood party here.
All things pumpkin!! Pumpkin patch, pumpkin recipes, fall hikes, leaves and Halloween!!! You can catch up on our Halloween happenings here.
Gosh, November was busy! We had a wedding, friends in from out of town, a great fundraiser for my sister's dance company, celebrated Thanksgiving, Ella's first chorus concert... another great month! My favorite memory is our Thankful tree. You can catch up on that tradition here.
My favorite month of the year!!! Our annual gingerbread party, visiting Santa, making cookie, caroling, decorating, gifting, the elf and all the magic of Christmas. This is by far my favorite photo from December.... sums up the magic of it all.....

I am so happy you have chosen to follow along with us. I have had fun sharing things to do as family... sharing recipes & tips...... and some fun ideas for sweet parties. I hope you will join us  to see what 2017 will bring...there's always room for one more at our family table.
I wish you all a very Happy & Healthy New Year!!!!

Christmas Day Wrap Up & Sharing a dinner recipe!

This really was the best Christmas... the kids are at such a fun age for all the magic of this season! Yesterday I wrapped up our Christmas Eve and if you missed it, you can catch up here.We had a special day on Sunday... a day filled with laughter, family, and PJs all day!

Funny story about Christmas morning....
Last week I shared our Christmas traditions and I told you how I am always the first one up on Christmas morning. Like I have literally woken my kids up the past few years with my excitement! This year, Luke had trouble going to bed because he was so Santa came later...because he was waiting until the children were nestled all snug in their beds.
Since I was up late with Luke, I decided this year I was going to leave the lights on on the tree and the foyer and set the coffee maker on a timer and not set the alarm.... just enjoy the kids getting me up for a change. 
And this year....they were up at 4:30am!!! I mean... seriously... the year I decide to go with the flow they are up well before dawn. #karma
I thought about telling them to head back to bed... but there was no way that was happening....
So we were up... and loving life!!
Blurry with excitement! 

Pretty happy with his beanbag chair! 
 Excited to go through their stockings!

Exchanging the gifts they got for each other.

I got the new boots I was wishing for....and a new sink stopper & drying mat!
Paul modeling his new running hat & Yeti bottle opener....
E & L each gave us an ornament they made in favorite gifts!
Paul & I had one more gift that we went down to the basement for .... they closed their eyes in anticipation!
Maddie went to town...shredding every tennis ball that was under the tree for her!
And after such an early wakeup, this was the scene at 7am........#wipedout

After the morning nap we were recharged and got to our tradition of fresh squeezed OJ.

My parents & sister stopped by to check out what Santa brought..lots of Lego building & playing with the new foosball table.
We tried out the Snoopy sno cone maker that Luke wanted. I think its the same design as when I was a kid & not very easy to use. Cranking an ice cube through the plastic house was HARD! We improvised and used crushed ice from the refrigerator and topped it with the syrup!

After playing, Ella & I put on our matching aprons and she helped me with dinner.
We used a selfie stick for the first time and took a pic of our Christmas Dinner.... still in our PJs!
After dinner the kids wanted to bring their new stuff to their rooms. I helped Luke organize his books. I have mentioned he loves reading & got 21 new books... he was ecstatic! His new bean bag chair was perfect and he has a comfy spot to read in his room.
Ella got a new comforter, pillow case and some decorative pillows for her bed. I helped her redo her bedding and she was so excited! She is also showing off her new jeans and shirt!
We ended our night with!
And that's a wrap for Christmas 2016! We had so much fun packing in as many Christmas things as we could! 
It's been a bit since I shared a recipe with you!!  We had a lot of ham left after our dinner and used it to make one of my family's favorites... Pasta with Peas & Ham. I make a few substitutions to make it a bit lighter. You can find the recipe here.
I hope you all had a fun weekend too!! We will see you back here on Friday with some of our Friday Favorites and fun from Winter break. Hope to see you then.... there's always room for one more at our family table.

Pasta with Peas & Ham....made a little lighter!

So I don't know about you.. but after we serve ham for a holiday dinner, we always have a bunch of ham leftover. One of my family's favorite ways to use it up is with this Pasta with Peas & Ham dish. It comes together pretty quick too... bonus! I make a few tweaks on the traditional recipe to lighten it up. First, instead of the traditional heavy cream, I mix equal parts milk & half & half. Secondly, I add about half the cheese as traditionally called for.  I find the dish to be a bit lighter. I have another tip at the end on how to cut out some of the calories too....
12oz pasta (penne or rotini)
3 TBSP butter
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 clove chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups ham chopped into bite size pieces
1 1/2 cups peas (frozen)
1/2 cup milk + 1/2 cup half & half combined. 
Zest of one lemon
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente
2. Heat the butter in a large pan over medium high heat until melted and add the onion. Cook until the onion is softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one more minute.
3. Add the milk mixture and cook until bubbly, 5-7 minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
4. Add the peas, ham, parmesan cheese and lemon zest. Mix until cheese begins to melt.
5. Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat. Serve with freshly grated cheese.
I have also subbed out the traditional pasta for zucchini noodles and it is also a delicious option! Just saute some zoodles in a bit of olive oil until softened and add to the sauce. 
My crew loves this recipe! We always make it in the days after Christmas & Easter. Hope your family enjoys it too!

Christmas Weekend Wrap Up...Part 1

Oh my goodness, what a whirlwind 4 days we have had!! This may have been our best Christmas yet!  Here is a wrap up of the first two days.. I'll share the rest tomorrow. I really liked Christmas on a Sunday......I felt like we were celebrating for four days!And I must warn..both posts will be picture overload!
Our fun Christmas weekend started on Friday with Christmas PJ Day for the kiddos at school......
Luke and his class had a Polar Express themed day and Ella's class built gingerbread houses.. with a twist. Her teacher gave each of the kids a list of items to choose & they had a $20 budget to build their house. They had to figure out how much they were spending....such a fun learning twist!
After dinner we met up with friends and neighbors for some caroling....

We had lots of kids... and tried our best to get a group shot!
I just love this picture!
After caroling we hung out for some more fun and hot cocoa! We just love our neighborhood so much!
We woke up on Saturday morning and kicked off  Christmas Eve with Santa pancakes.....
then opened a few gifts Grandma &Grandpa sent from Florida...
And got dressed to head out to my parents for a heartbreaking Bills game & afternoon Mass.
We had Christmas Eve dinner at my parents and opened presents.....

My dad was totally stumped with this gift! Luke was making up all kinds of stories as to what it was. It was a snow rake... to help clear snow off the roof... exciting!

Paul got a gift in his annual VS box!
And we managed to sneak in a family pic....#happymama
My sister & I were in matching outfits (not planned) and she thinks she fits comfortably on my lap!
We headed home, changed back into Christmas PJs... read a few Christmas books...Paul & I watched Christmas Vacation... and we said Good Night!
Stop back tomorrow for all our Christmas Day shenanigans.... super early wakeup....lots of fun games... a little Pie Face and more....there's always room for one more at our family table.

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