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

Friday Favorites......Birthday Celebrations Edition!

Happy Friday friends!! We had a beautiful September here....warmer than it was all Summer! But Fall weather arrived yesterday and I am ok with that. Give me all the sweaters,scarves and booties. We had a fun last week of September over here and as always, I am linking up with some of my favorite blogging friends, AndreaNarci, and Erika to share my favorites!

September Book Review

Yay it's book review day! I was three for three this month! I loved all three books! Love when that happens. I am linking up with Narci over at  Grace and Love Blog  for her monthly book review link up. Be sure to check out her  blog for all her picks too!!
Well I skipped a month of Elin Hildebrand and felt like something was missing. So this month I grabbed The Rumor and I loved it.
 I have really loved every book of hers that I have read, but this one is probably in my top 3. It was such a good story of two couples that are friends with different challenges in their lives. They are intertwined in so many ways that cause rumors to fly across Nantucket. I just love how she develops the characters and she even cross referenced the characters from another one of her books (Castaways). That gives me all the feels when that happens. 
Now this author is new to me, Alice Hoffman. This is the first book I have read from her and I assure you it will not be my last.
This book was so good.....I mean it will probably be in my top 10 of the year good. It is the story of two high school girls, Helene & Shelby. They are in a terrible car accident and Helene is left comatose. Shelby struggles to accept the guilt of driving that night. As a result she is always seeing bad in the world. However she has a guardian angel looking out for her that sends her postcards to keep her encouraged. She begins to find herself again throughout the book & the ending really surprised me.
I used to read quite a bit from Jodi Picoult and then I didn't. I found her again a few months ago when I read Leaving Time.
I grabbed Small Great Things and wow.....just wow. This was a very powerful book. 
For me it's a book that will stay with me long after I have read it. It's the story of Ruth, an African American nurse working in Labor & Delivery. There is a white supremacist couple that delivers a baby and refuses to allow Ruth to care for their child. When a tragic accident strikes, blame is placed on Ruth. The story is about how Ruth moves through the trial, but more importantly how race still plays a role in America today. While we have come so far, there is still so much father to go. I highly recommend you read this book, and especially the afterwords from the author. She talks about how she has wanted to write on this topic but was torn on how fans would react. I really connected with the author on her raw emotion of writing this book. 
If you missed any of our other reviews, you can catch up here.

My Dad gave me these two books, so they are on the docket for my October reads!
Have a great day and we will see you tomorrow for Friday Favorites. There's always room for one more at our family table!

What's Up Wednesday.....September Edition

Happy Wednesday friends!! It's time to link up with ShayMel and Sheaffer for What's Up Wednesday....September Edition. 
 A fun monthly post where we answer these questions....

Show & Tell Tuesday.......Reverse Bucket List

Hi friends! I am so excited to link up with Andrea over at Momfessionals for Show & Tell Tuesday. Today's topic... Reverse Bucket List?? 
A reverse bucket list?  Things that were on the list and I have checked off. Well we go. I must admit that I am not really sure I have an official bucket list, but there have always been some things I have really wanted to do and accomplished.

Five Meals for Your Family Table.....Week 38

Hello Monday! We had a fun weekend over here, taking full advantage of the extended Summer weather. Thanks for all the sweet comments on Friday as we celebrated our one year blogaversary.
If you missed Friday's post, be sure to circle back and check it out. We celebrated our  one year blogging anniversary with a fun giveaway. 
It's the first full week of fall, so I was feeling some cozier dinners this week (despite the fact that it will be near 90 degrees today!). But still a burger on Friday, because I am just not done with burgers yet!
The recipe for this Cauli-Corn Chowder came in our new seasonal grocery magazine and it looked so good. You can grab the recipe  here.
I made a few tweaks to it. Before I did any of the steps, sauteed a few strips of bacon (chopped into bite sized pieces) until they were nice and crispy. I set them to the side to use as a topping and started the recipe in the same pan....with all the bacon drippings. So good. 
I am not sure when Taco Tuesday became a "thing"....but it's pretty much a staple in our house. Not always tacos, but some sort of Mexican-inspired dish. Tonight it's our  Mexican Quinoa Bake. It's pretty simple to put together, filling and leftovers make a great lunch.
A few months ago, I tried this Hummus Crusted Chicken. It has minimal prep time & you can mix up your hummus flavor to change it up. I put about a pound of chicken breasts in a 13*9 glass dish, sprinkle with salt & pepper and cover in about 3/4 cup of hummus. I used garlic hummus, but you can use any flavor you want. Bake at 450 for about 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. We paired with with some Mediterranean couscous. Toss cooked couscous with some chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, parsley, and feta. Drizzle with a little EVOO, the juice of half a lemon and season with salt & pepper. It's such a fresh dish!
Pork Stirfry with Bok Choy is a hit every time I make it! You can use nearly any veggies you have on hand...... the more the merrier! Saute your protein, add your veggies and put it on top of some brown rice! Make it even easier and have your meat & veggies chopped and ready to go.
For this stirfry I heat up a couple tablespoons of EVOO in my wok over medium- high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the bite size pork, and season with salt & pepper. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until the meat is browned, tossing frequently. Remove the meat to a plate and saute your veggies. I add about 4-5 cups of veggies. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and let the veggies steam for about 5 minutes until just softened.  In this batch, I used broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, bok choy and onions. You can also use cauliflower, snap peas, water chestnuts, spinach, asparagus, carrots.... anything you want to use up! Add your pork back in and I like to keep the sauce clean... a few shakes of liquid aminos and the juice of half an orange.  Plate some brown rice and top it with your stirfry mix!
As I said, I am not ready to give up burgers yet. We have a few more weeks of grilling weather and need to take full advantage. I tried these burgers from  Mix & Match Mama and ohmygoodness they may be the best burgers we ever had! My kiddos love them (sans the gorgonzola) and I did mine bunless on top of a pile of arugala. The flavors were just so good together. You can grab the recipe  here.
Have the best week friends!
See you tomorrow.....there's always room for one more at our family table.

Happy Blogaversary!!!

One year ago.....I started a blog.
And I am still blogging. So today we are celebrating my One Year Blogaversary with a fun post all about blogging & a giveaway to a lucky reader!

One more sleep....

Happy Friday eve friends!!! I don't have much to share today....working on a big post for tomorrow. One more sleep until we celebrate our One Year Blogaversary!
Wait....what? Yep. We have been sharing our family table with you for the last 365 days.So excited for tomorrow's post. A big post filled with lots of fun memories over the last year AND a little giveaway to one lucky reader!
For now, you can reminisce back to our first ever blog post.
See you tomorrow! There's always room for one more at our family table!

Weekend Wrap Up.....Still Summer?

Happy Wednesday friends. I hope you are having a great week. Here is a peek inside our was a warm and beautiful one here in the Northeast!
In case you missed my Friday favorites post, I shared how I felt about last week. The week won. I was wiped by Friday and the last thing I needed was a busy weekend, but somehow that's what we ended up with!
The kids and I went out to dinner on Friday....because cooking just felt like too much that night!
We stopped at Barnes & Noble after, as Luke continues his reading obsession and then a stop at Hobby Lobby for some of Ella's birthday supplies. She wants a DIY/ Fixer Upper theme. She loves Chip & Joanna! We have some super cute ideas planned to celebrate & she picked this decor.
Speaking of DIY, Saturday morning we did a little DIY project. We have this large empty wall in the kitchen and I have been wanting to fill it up.
 We sprayed an old table we had in the basement and got some super cute stools (on clearance for 75% off) at Target.
 Table turned out great, but still a work in progress. I need a little something else on the wall.
Paul is normally not one for "DIY" or anything like that so Ella thought we were so cool transforming the table. We told her we were the next Chip & Joanna.😉
 Then it was off to soccer where we watched this girl score her fist ever goal!! 
So proud.
Luke had fun checking out the turtles nearby. 
 We wrapped up soccer and took a quick trip to the boat. It was 80 degrees here and we will be huddled up indoors soon enough, so we took advantage and snuck in a few hours.
We wasted no time getting home from the lake and we changed out of bathing suits and walked across the street to a neighborhood party. A few weeks ago Ella & her friend organized a neighborhood kickball party and we had so much fun. Now another family had organized a game for Saturday night. A beautiful night, lots of kids playing, pizza, and good was a great night!
Sunday morning we were off to church in two separate cars. Luke and Paul stayed after for a meeting (Luke is making his First Holy Communion this year) and Ella and I headed home to get ready for dance.
Ella danced at a local art festival in town. She did a great job!
Luke was there for the fried dough & lemonade!
Dancing ended early so we met my brother & his family at my parents to watch the second half of the Bills game. #heartbreak
Then it was home to make dinner, finish up laundry and get ready to start another week! Whew!
Have a great Wednesday. See you tomorrow....there's always room for one more at our family table.

Tuesday Talk......School Organization

Hi friends! I am linking up with  Erika Ashley for Tuesday Talk. A monthly link up where we can talk about any and everything!
I have really been all over the board this year with my topics...
 Not sure about you but this is kind of how I feel after the fist full week of school and activities.
I thought it was a perfect time to talk about all the school papers that come home. As in....what the heck are we supposed to do with all of it? Keep everything? Toss everything? 
My kids come home day one with stacks of papers. Some to fill out, some to return. I pretty much block off the first full week of school to fill out papers, send in registrations and write checks.
I am super thankful our school implemented an electronic backpack this year. Each Friday we get an email and can review any notices or upcoming events. This is amazing. I mean it felt like everyday they came home with the same flyers.....seemed like such a waste of paper. Now I like that I can review it each week online. The only catch is remembering to log in and check it out each week😉 

Now onto all the projects and worksheets that come home. This is where it gets tricky. I think we have all had that moment when your teary eyed 6 year old looks at you when they spot their math sheet in the trash.
 Or is that just me? 
I try to think of my kids when I sort through it. Do they really want every piece of school work when they are older? Probably not. So I get a small container each year for each of my kids and that is what I fill with stuff. In addition to school stuff I keep anything else fun from that year- special birthday cards, awards, pictures, etc.
So how to decide what to keep and what to toss? I do a few things. 
First, my kids have a routine of unpacking their bags as soon as they come home from school and putting all papers in a pile on the island. I try and go through them everyday, usually while I am making dinner.  I don't like it getting out of control, so I try to take care of it daily. Any special projects or holiday art or a great test gets hung on the fridge (before moving to the bin). The rest gets recycled.
I use these questions as a guide to what I keep.
1. Is it something funny or sweet? 
2. Will I regret tossing it?
3. Is it a special memory?
4. Have I kept something similar?
5. Is it a good example of their skills?
My best tip is to just keep on top of it and not let it get too out of control. And if you are going to toss it when no one is looking!

You guys have any fun tips on this?? Please share in the comments below.
Have a great Tuesday!!

Five Meals for Your Family Table....Week 37

Um....where the heck did this weekend go?? The weekend was absolutely beautiful and we packed it all in. I'll share all our weekend fun later this week, but for are five meal ideas for your family table this week!
It is still feeling like Summer here, so this Coconut Crusted Cod with Pineapple Mango Salsa is perfect for Meatless Monday. And this is one of my kids' favorite ways to eat fish! It tastes kind of tropical and oh so yummy! My kids aren't big fans of red onion, so instead of using the salsa I just give them some fresh pineapple with it. Add some brown rice and something green and dinner is served! You can grab the recipe for the cod here.
Baked BBQ Chicken Tacos are loaded with flavor and will be a new Taco Tuesday Favorite for sure! Even better is the chicken cooks all day in the crockpot, perfect for this busy first month of back to school! Place 1lb of boneless chicken in the crockpot, along with 2 cups of chicken stock. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove the chicken, shred it and toss with 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce. I fill the shells with fresh spinach, red onion, the chicken and some pepper jack cheese. Bake at 400 for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
Even though it is feeling Summer-like, our grocery stores are filled with lots of yummy squash varieties. This Better for you Chicken Parm with Spaghetti Squash is a family favorite.  Grab the recipe here.
 This pork with roasted apples and squash is another great way to get squash into your meal. Cut 1lb of peeled butternut squash, and 3 apples (I used Jona)  into bites sized pieces.  Toss with a few drizzles of EVOO and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast on a foil lined baking sheet at 400 for about 20-25 minutes. Toss them halfway through cooking. If you want to sweeten this dish, you can drizzle them with a little honey or pure maple syrup when you take them out of the oven. This side dish will be in your fall rotation for sure!
These Pizza Burgers from Mix & Match Mama have been a Summer favorite. In my world Pizza or Burgers are the perfect answer to a Friday night dinner. Put the two together and I am sold! You can grab the recipe here.
Have the best week friends! 
See you tomorrow....there's always room for one more at our family table.

Friday Favorites...TGIF Edition

So I am not sure about you, but this week was just a whirlwind!
Week -1 
Gen - 0
That, my friends, is how I feel at the end of this week! The first full week of school, combined with a crazy travel schedule for work and this mama is D-O-N-E. Thankful for a no plans Friday night with my crew.  Sounds like a good night for pulling out some fall decor. I can always muster up some energy for cute pumpkins. 
As always, I am linking up with some of my favorite blogging friends, AndreaNarci, and Erika to share my favorites!

Girl Chat.... Fav Fall Recipes!

So I think I am coming down with Fall fever. I love Fall (second of course to Summer) and all this stuff in the stores, the smells of Fall, the sweaters, scarves..... oh my!  Fall, I am ready for you!
I am linking up for Girl Chat to talk favorite Fall recipes.
Well I don't think we can talk Fall recipes without sharing some apple recipes. I take my crew apple picking each year (we are planning to go next weekend) and make all kinds of goodness with the apples we pick!
These pork and apple kabobs are so good and make a great early Fall dinner.
I shared some of my favorite apple recipes  here
Not sure about you, but pork just feels like a Fall dinner to me. My other favorite pork recipe is this walnut crusted pork. Such amazing flavors and I love it with the Hasselback sweet potatoes. You can grab the recipe  here
Sometimes the perfect Fall treat is an apple....with a twist. You can check out some of my favorite apple snacks  here
And for those of you that need a break from pumpkins and apples, Fall puts me in the baking mood. These Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough cupcakes are the most requested from everyone I know!
Cookie Dough + Cupcakes=Enough said😉
Be sure to stop by these blogs and check out some more great fall recipes!
See you tomorrow for Friday Favs! There's always room for one more at our family table.

Workin' It Wednesday....Summer to Fall

Happy Wednesday friends! It is Workin' It Wednesday. A monthly link up with Shay & ErikaSharing tips for working mamas on keeping it together.
This month's topic....Transitioning your wardrobe from Summer to Fall.
Here in Buffalo, I feel like I start this transition earlier than most. I mean this Summer we never really got too hot, so my transition started mid-August!
My standby in-between seasons piece is always a denim jacket. 
It looks great with shorts at the end of Summer.
Or over a dress with some booties for a night out. 
My military jacket is also a transition staple for me. I love it with jeans and it's a perfect weight for this time of year.
Sometimes I am just not ready to give up my tanks, so I throw on a cute scarf to keep a bit warmer but not look bundled up.
I love this scarf from Loft. I think it will look cute with anything grey, blush or plum.
And I mentioned my military style jacket being one of my favorite transition pieces. Mine is an older style, but I found this similar one.
Skinny jeans are my usual go to, but to mix things up,  I got a pair of these pants in sage green. I picked them up at Loft last month and love them. They come a in a few colors and I think the grey may find their way to my closet too 😉
I also transition my bag from Summer to Fall. I am not a girl that changes out a handbag with my outfits. I pick a good neutral bag and stick with it for the season. I shared what's inside that bag on yesterday's post. If you missed it, you can catch up here.
As for transitioning my kiddos, I feel like this is what I am dealing with every fall!
I mean they grow a ton each year!! I try to keep organized as I transition their closets over. I shared some of my organizing tips here
Can't wait to check out how all my blogging friends make the transition too!
A few of our other Workin' It Wednesdays, in case you missed them......
And a peek at what's coming up later this year.
See you tomorrow, there's always room for one more at our family table.

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