Things I love – Weekly Breakfast Date

Have you ever started something for fun and it quickly became a long-standing tradition?  I love it when that happens! Years ago, my daughter’s birthday fell on a school day.  To make it special, I had her invite her two friends (neighbors) to breakfast before school.  I bought donuts at the grocery and we stopped at our local coffee shop for hot chocolates.  It was fun and a special way to start the day. Next birthday I had the same request. After that visit, it dawned on me that we could be having a fun breakfast before school more often.  “Coffee Shop Day” was born.  Once a week I’d wake the kids up twenty minutes earlier and tell them it was coffee shop day.  It was always a fabulous way to start the day and a terrific break in a busy week. After a few years of this, my daughter moved on to middle school and a much earlier start time.  Coffee shop day with her had to end.  My son was still in elementary so we started branching out.  Now we rotate between three different restaurants (two of them are local!) once a week before school. Early morning breakfasts have been a fun way to connect, spend quality time together and slow down even in the midst of the school year. What fun traditions have you created by accident?  I’d love to hear all about them in the comments, so please...
Up for a FREE meal?

Up for a FREE meal?

Who doesn’t love getting something for free?  Especially a meal at a nice restaurant, a hotel room or an afternoon of bowling.  Thanks to the years I’ve been mystery shopping, those are a regular part of our lives. In just the last month, I’ve had a breakfast date with my hubby ($42), went bowling and played laser tag with the kids ($115), had pizza and beer for lunch over Spring Break ($50) and got a carry-out lunch at a national chain restaurant ($35).  This is just me doing a shop or two here and there.  If I had the time I could do so much more.  I started mystery shopping almost twenty-five years ago when the company I was working for closed it’s doors and I was out of a job.  I started doing a few dinner shops a month so we could still enjoy a nice meal out without spending money we didn’t have!  Now I just do it for fun, to stretch our entertainment dollars and to force myself out of my routine and try new things. It would be challenging to make a full-time living mystery shopping; most shops don’t pay much outside of reimbursement, but for cutting costs or adding extras to your life, it’s a great part-time gig.  It is important to undersand that once you conduct the shop, you will have to come home and fill out an online form (sometimes within 12-hours of doing the shop), upload some pictures and be available for the next few days for questions.  At first, it would take me an hour or so to fill out...

Early Mornings Make Me Happy

That first sip of hot coffee, a cuddly blanket with a warm kitty curled up at my feet.  Add in my current reading material, and THAT is the perfect way to start my day.  Once I have a few moments of easing into the day in that manner, I am ready to do some yoga or pilates, work on a personal project and get ready with plenty of time to spare. How I love a great start to the day. Getting up early to enable such a perfect morning routine is a struggle for me, but the days I am successful are ALWAYS better days.  I’m more productive, less stressed and just plain enjoy life more. And since enjoying life and creating a healthier and happier life is exactly what I promote here, I thought I’d share one of my favorite resources to help you create a better start to YOUR day: I’ve taken the online course myself and gleaned quite a bit of useful information.  This time around, Crystal is doing a live version – for extra motivation.  The class starts April 9th and registration ends then, so if you think you need a little push in improving YOUR mornings, sign up soon!  I’ll be participating and I’d love to have you join me!  Go check it out HERE. What makes up the perfect morning for you?  I’d love for you to share in the comments!...

How to find the BEST local restaurants

It’s a beautiful, sunny day in Florida.  The marina is hopping and you’re sitting outside, right next to boats coming in and out, fishermen selling fresh seafood right off the dock, tourists and locals strolling along the pier.  The margarita in your hand is made with fresh ingredients, icy cold and salted – and since it’s Happy Hour they are 2 for $8!  Just then the server brings you a plate of fresh oysters, fish dip made with freshly caught local fish and fish tacos overloaded with toppings.  Sounds wonderful, right?  Way better than greasy, unhealthy fast food.  That was one of our recent meals in Clearwater, FL. One of the things I love, both when traveling and when at home, is to try out new local restaurants.  I am very lucky to live in an area that has many stellar local places.  But even when traveling, I take the time to do a little research to find the best places to eat the area has to offer. Here are my steps t0 finding a great local restaurant:  First if it’s an area new to me, I check out Yelp.  Even when we are driving on a road trip, once the stomachs start rumbling, the phone comes out and the search for a place to eat begins (tip: use the map features to see what’s along your route).  I’ve even trained my kids to do this, so we’ll all start yelling out names of places as we find them.  Unless there aren’t any available options, pick someplace with at least a 4 star rating.  Check out the reviews, take...

I’ll Have the Salad Please

“Is it smart/healthy to order a salad for my restaurant meal?” This is a question I often get from my clients – so I thought I’d answer it here on the blog for everyone! My answer?  It depends. Don’t you hate that answer?  Me too, so I’m going to go into a lot more specifics and even share a .pdf cheat sheet for you at the end of this post. A salad can be an excellent choice for a meal.  Especially if you can do a little customization.  What do I mean by that?  If you think more veggies, more color and less fat, you are well on your way to a healthier salad. When you are ordering a salad in a restaurant, here are some things to add and avoid: Your salad base:  make sure the salad has a variety of greens – the darker green the better.  If it has spinach or kale as part of the greens, that’s a bonus.  Or try adding cabbage as a lettuce alternative – it’s fun to change it up! The colors:  the more colorful your salad is (a variety of different colored vegetables included), the healthier your salad.  Aim for at least three vegetables in different colors (ex:  carrots, cucumber and red peppers). Extras:  fruit is a great addition to your salad as are nuts & seeds (in small quantities); beans are fantastic – full of fiber and therefore filling without lots of extra calories or fats.  Go easy on the meat and olives, these items should be a garnish, not the main part of the salad. Cheese:  If you love cheese...
Yes, You CAN eat Healthy in Las Vegas

Yes, You CAN eat Healthy in Las Vegas

Following up with my eating healthy at Disney post is a second one . . . eating healthy in Las Vegas.  Health and Las Vegas seem a bit opposite, don’t they?  Well, they don’t have to be! Every year, we take an annual “grown-up” trip to Las Vegas with friends.  A week of absolutely no responsibility.  However, I’ve learned that if I want to enjoy the whole week I do have to be careful about taking care of myself – lots of walking (we averaged over 20,000 steps a day!) and eating the best that I can while still enjoying a bit of decadence. My top tips for eating healthy in Las Vegas: 1.  Start with a decent breakfast.  There are several reasons for this – first if you eat well early in the day you will set yourself up for making better choices AND it’s always an easy time to find fairly good food.  When in Las Vegas, I typically have one of two breakfasts.  The first is a simple oatmeal with fruit and coffee.  Easy, inexpensive, full of fiber and very filling.  The second would be a buffet.  (Wait a minute – I thought we were talking healthy).  Hear me out.  A breakfast buffet is a terrific way to get a lot of veggies into your diet – which can be hard to find while traveling.  I always get a veggie omelet loaded up with extra spinach and very light on the cheese.  Add a side of fruit and you are good to go! 2.  Don’t feel that you have to have a big meal 3x a...

Pin It on Pinterest