Must Have Mondays

Must Have Monday’s – Issue 6

If you’re just now visiting Must Have Mondays for the first time let me catch you up to speed! Every other week I share a yummy recipe, a helpful product, and an intriguing blog/blogger. Most of my readers are women – many wives and mothers – so the recipe and product are typically something they’d use and the blogger, someone they’d relate with.

I hope you find a must have on today’s post!

And if you have a recipe, product, or blog you’d like featured I’d love to hear from you! As always, I can be contacted at

This week’s recipe is a Tomato Avocado Melt from Tastes Better from Scratch


Photo courtesy of Lauren Allen

I love this recipe because it is simple, but also because it isn’t really specific to one meal time. I’ve eaten it for lunch and for breakfast. Now some of you may be thinking, “toast is her recipe for the week?” but with the amount of yummy-ness that’s on it, it is very filling. I love avocado and tomato anything together and this isn’t any different. It is just so yummy. The hint of cayenne pepper gives it just enough kick and the cheese melted over top just pulls it all together. Super yummy! You won’t be disappointed!

This week’s blogger is Chanel van Reenen of  Life with Henry & Evie


Photo courtesy of Chanel van Reenen

I first discovered Chanel’s blog via Instagram. She makes me giggle, she makes me smile, and I could honestly look at her pictures all day. One of the first things you notice about her blog is just how great the pictures are. She can take a picture of pretty much anything and somehow it just looks great. It accents her interesting topics which range from product reviews, travel information, party planning (my all time favorite), among many other things. She is a mother and wife and resides in Atlanta (a fellow East coaster) so we have lots in common. Her blog is one of those ones you can just click on and spend hours on because of it’s great content (did I mention the travel and party planning, you know, only two of my favorite things!) Seriously though, Life with Henry & Evie is a blog you really don’t want to miss out on.

This week’s product is ChooMee’s Snack’n Reusable Pouches with Sip’n Tops



I love this product so much! Pouches of any variety are so, so convenient for us mama’s and Adalynn’s now old enough that she can feed herself using them, double win. The one thing about the pouches, however, was that even if they are organic, all-natural, or whatever other wonderful words I may want to hear, they still aren’t FRESH fruits or veggies. With these reusable pouches I can make fresh purees, fill the pouch(es) and we’re ready to go! But let’s be honest, I’m not always going to have time to make a puree, so applesauce and yogurt can be dumped in them too to easily been eaten when out and about. The pouch toppers are also great because they fit all pouches, all store bought varieties as well as these reusable pouches. The toppers are made of silicone so it protects your little ones mouth and it also has a control valve, so yay, no more mess! You can purchase these products as well as a handful of other goodies on the ChooMee website. Use promo code LOVETOCHOO for 25% off your total purchase. And you’ll also want to follow my Instagram account (@andthenlifeblog) for an upcoming ChooMee giveaway!!!!!

Have a great week!


I received the mentioned items in this post in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.


I Was a Bad Mom Today

I was a bad mom today. Today was just one of those days where you stop, sigh, and think man I feel defeated. Maybe it was the rain that caused us to cancel plans or maybe it was that I didn’t sleep well, or maybe I just woke up cranky. Whatever it was, I didn’t feel like doing ANYTHING. It all felt so burdensome. I just wanted a day off from my life – no responsibilities, I didn’t even want to take a shower. If I still worked outside the home there’s a good chance I would have called in sick today. And Adalynn wasn’t in a good mood either. She is weaning, teething, and I think she may be getting sick. Based on that list I think she was much more qualified to have a bad day than I was.

But did I accept that from her though? Nope! I just kept getting so annoyed! Why couldn’t she just sit there quietly (and in one place) and play while I caught up on emails, sorted dirty clothes, and made a grocery list. And she only took two short naps today as well.

Didn’t she understand I was busy?

Of course not!!!!!

She is (almost) 13 months old.

My husband typically calls me for a few minutes in between appointments to let me know which city he’s in and how his schedule is unfolding for the day. On his third call I answered in a less than pleasant tone, as I had each time he’d called, and he said, sincerely, “I’m sorry you’re having a rough day.”

It stopped me in my tracks. I wasn’t even having a bad day. I couldn’t even think of anything to complain about. Except maybe Adalynn’s bad mood, but what kind of mother was I?? I couldn’t complain about her bad mood when here I was her mother and in a bad mood myself.

When I got off the phone I looked at that sweet girl of mine – man, she’s the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I started dancing around the kitchen while making dinner and she laughed and laughed and laughed. And my eyes filled up and my heart swelled. I thought back on the day and realized that I had forgotten some really amazing things that had happened today. Hubby and I are pretty sure Adalynn said her first word today – she points at our dogs or at pictures of dogs in her story books and says, “Dawwww.” It’s awesome! She also learned to put her hands on either side of her head when I ask her where her head is. Cutest thing ever! Her and I were awake and home this morning when Daddy left for work so we went on the porch and blew him lots of kisses. I could watch her blow kisses all day (although I need to teach her to stop doing it to strangers). She has mastered “more” in sign language and walked up to a package of food she wanted in the pantry and continually signed “more” because I think she was expecting the package to open for her. Hilarious. She laughed hysterically when it was time to feed the dogs their dinner because we chased them all around the house before stopping at their food bowls. I love her love for our dogs.

You see, when I took just a second to actually think back on the day it was actually a pretty magnificent day. And maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t as bad a mom today as I thought I was.

A Salute to Working Moms

I woke to a cry from my six month old daughter and rolled out of bed with my eyes closed. When I got to her room I realized the sun was up (when did that happen?) and tried to nurse her back to sleep. Even though the daylight was steadily creeping through her shades, it still felt much too early to be awake. Either way, she wasn’t having it; she was up for the day. I brought her back into our room because I was so tired and I just needed to lie back in bed for a few minutes.  I glanced at the clock and it was 7:02!!!!! I immediately felt almost embarrassed at my lack of togetherness at such an hour. Just eight short months earlier I’d already have been on my way to work (already at work, on a good day) and yet here I was struggling seriously to even remember my child’s name. I immediately thought, “there’s no way I could have done this this year – have a career and a child.” And that thought was immediately followed by a feeling of a bit of shame. There are millions of women that work in the corporate world and are mothers. Some of them wouldn’t have it any other way, but for others it is a daily struggle. Either way, I salute every type of working mother. Being a working mom is not something I think I could do, at least not well, at this point in my life.


If you’re a working mother I want you to know that I salute you. I salute you because I think of you so often when I am having a difficult day. My feet are achy and my eyes are red, but if I plan accordingly sometimes I can snag a nap when the baby sleeps – even if it is a mere twenty minutes (or less!). I know many of you have heartstrings that can’t stretch any further, and I salute you. Know that you are doing the right thing by helping provide for your family. Your children understand or will one day. And while a lot of my day is filled with mundane tasks, like laundry and dishes, I am grateful to do them at my leisure throughout the day. I’m also able to get my post office, bank, and grocery store trips done before 5:00. I salute you as you get these done after a long day of work or on your weekends. And as you show up to your corporate meeting with a strand of who knows what in your hair, a stray Cheerio rolling out of your portfolio, hiding your smeared paperwork, autographed nicely by your two year old, I salute you. You are doing great things, mama, keep it up.

While I sit here with my own challenges as a stay-at-home mom, I salute you for the very different challenges that you face every day. You take on the load of both career and motherhood. I salute you, respect you, and I thank you, from the deepest part of my heart. You’re not only shaping your child’s world, you’re shaping my child’s as well.

Originally posted on March 2, 2016

Must Have Mondays

Must Have Mondays – Issue 5

This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive compensation if a purchase is made using those links.

If you’re new to my Must Have Mondays posts let me fill you in! Every other week I post about a recipe, blogger/blog, and product. This is geared towards moms, wives, and just women in general! (And sometimes men). The recipe is something yummy that was easy to make, the blog is one I love to read with an author who I think my readers can relate with, and a trendy/helpful product.

Enjoy 🙂

This week’s recipe is 4 Ingredient Cheesy Orzo from A Cedar Spoon


Photo courtesy of A Cedar Spoon

I love a good meal, but sometimes the perfect side dish is what brings a meal together. I also love pasta, am pretty obsessed with cheese, and can’t cook with a darn. Enter 4 ingredient cheezy orzo! It looks, sounds, and even tastes fancy so therefore I use it to convince people I have some sort of idea what I’m doing in the kitchen. We have also eaten this both hot and cold. Orzo seems to one of those pastas you can really do that with. This particular side dish is also one of those great ones to have on hand as you can pair it with lots of things – we’ve served it with chicken and fish before. Yum!

This week’s blogger is Shirri Stringfellow of Stringfellow + Co


Photo courtesy of Shirri Stringfellow

Shirri is one of the first bloggers I connected with after launching my own back in February. I remember first looking at her blog and thinking, “this girl is going somewhere.” Her blog was totally awesome then and has just gotten better. Not only has the content continued getting better and better, but she gave her blog a facelift a few months ago. Not that it needed one though! But yet again, it only got better. Shirri blogs about motherhood, marriage, product reviews and some really awesome DIY projects. Now if anyone can call a DIY project awesome, it’s me because typically I run the other way when “DIY” is mentioned. Seriously though, I think there’s a little bit for everyone on Shirri’s site!

This week’s product is the Baby Bullet Food System

This item was something I was itching to use from the second I got it as a baby shower gift. I’d heard so many wonderful things about it from other mamas who have it. Many people warned me that it was just a marketing scheme and that I should just buy the Magic Bullet (the original food processor made by the same company). I’m so glad I didn’t. First of all, they are cute. Look at those little smiling faces on the side! Why do you need cute? It makes it more appealing to baby. Sounds silly, but my child will literally wave at this thing sometimes. Secondly, it has wonderful storage containers that are just the right size. Thirdly, it comes with a pocket nutrition guide and a recipe book. Now that may sound silly in this wonderful world of Pinterest and Google, it did to me at first, but just being able to grab that and quickly refer to it was great. Especially for a new time mom, like myself! And if you really like the pocket nutrition guide they now have book as well.

(Also, if you find you need additional storage you can use this or this).

Did you miss past Must Have Monday’s? Check them out here:

Must Have Mondays – Issue 4

Must Have Mondays – Issue 3

Must Have Mondays – Issue 2

Must Have Mondays – Issue 1


Our Sweet Girl’s 1st Birthday Party

I had way too much fun planning our baby girl’s 1st birthday party. While birthdays are so bittersweet, I was did much less crying than I thought I would! I was just so excited for the fun things planned and I’m so excited to see the wonderful things she accomplishes in her life!

Her birthday party was pink lemonade themed and boy did I find some adorable stuff to go along with that theme! I’m also someone who is all about details so every little thing I found I could picture being incorporated into her birthday party.

Her perfectly designed invitation (thank you Audrey!) was a great start!!!


Continue reading

Blisters, Sweat, & Tears – My 1/2 Marathon Recap

This past Sunday I participated in my first ever half marathon (13.1 miles). It was part of the Rock and Roll Marathon Series and it was here in Virginia Beach. I had so much fun! It was an absolutely amazing experience, from the day hit “submit” on my registration to the second I crossed the finish line (and the hours afterwards).  It was really just an all-encompassing learning experience and pushed me to my limits. It tested me phsycially, mentally, and spiritually. Many people have been so complimentary, praising my efforts and success in finishing, but I really can’t say enough about how I truly feel that anyone could do it. Running does not come naturally to me. I took the training schedule slowly, put all my trust in God, and just did it.

The starting gun went off at 7:00 AM that morning. The weather was so, so perfect – in the 70s and overcast the entire time I ran. This was quite a relief as the day before there were torrential rains and high winds as Hurricane Hermine tempted to hit us.

Because of the threatening hurricane, however, timers, signs, stands, and other structures, including most of the finish line were taken down for precautionary reasons. I was a little disappointed about the finish line, but obviously everyone’s safety is more important!

My hubby and little one dropped me off, and then I saw them again about a mile in, and knew I’d be seeing them at the finish line as well. Seeing them a mile in was a total surprise and was so inspirational and brought tears to my eyes. (With all the streets shut down and a little one, I didn’t know if my hubby would see any of the actual race after dropping me off, I thought they’d just make it to the finish).

They’re my biggest cheerleaders and I love them so!



I made my best time during the last mile. I was SO pumped up!


I was so surprised to see my parents, my brother and his girlfriend, and three of my cousins at the finish line! So many happy tears!!!! They will never know what a feeling it was to see all their faces!


My biggest supporter of all, my hubby.



Two of my biggest accomplishments; loved showing her my medal, even though she had no idea what she was looking at.


And last, but least…the after party. A beer, some music, and the most perfect weather.

Until next time….


Click here for the blog post I did of all the other races I’ve participated in.

Also, I want to give a shout-out to an amazing, inspirational blogger pal of mine, Caroline! She inspired me with this post and when I reached out to her she was nothing but supportive. She answered questions I had, gave me tips, and even mailed me a card. She’ll never know how appreciative I am!

Since her triathlon is what inspired me to sign up for this half marathon, I am hoping this post inspires at least one person to commit to something they’ve been thinking about. Here’s the link to this particular race series to find out when it comes to your town!



The Races Before THE Race

If you follow me on any form of social media, there’s about a 97.5% chance you’re well aware of my upcoming half marathon. I am so excited about it for so many reasons. Not only have I used my training time to grow in my faith, but I have also been raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and as of Wednesday at 12:35 PM Eastern time I met my goal of $1,000. (I have since exceeded the goal was is even more exciting!)

Aside from those two amazing reasons for running, I am also growing a tad bit nervous. People ask how many miles a half marathon is and I quickly answer, “13.1,” with a smile on my face, but it’s normally received with a wide eyed grasp of “THIRTEEN?” It makes me proud, but also makes me remember that it’s not two or three or even nine miles, it is in fact, THIRTEEN! I am faithful that the run will go smoothly, I will enjoy myself, and crossing the finish line will be incredible, but in the very back of my head I remember that running doesn’t come naturally to me. Training for this has been HARD. It is has taken a lot of time and commitment of all sorts to get me where I am today. I mean I even gave up donuts until race day!!!! Who am I???!?

Anyway, with THE race being two days away I thought it would be fun to recap the other races I’ve participated in in the past. Enjoy!!!

Bark in the Park – 5k/3.1 miles – October 2012


I wish I could remember signing up for this race, but I honestly can’t. I’m sure it had something to do with knowing that it was through the local humane society and the money would go to helping stray animals (#crazydoglady). The fact that it was a 5k also helped as I could pretty comfortably run about 2 miles already. Lastly, my obsession with my “fur”st born, Onyx, is real so the idea of running it with him had me completely sold. I took him to the vet to make sure it was a safe distance for him. He was six years old at the time, so not old, but not young either. Once he was cleared we trained for a few weeks, running a few days a week at a popular local park. This also helped him get acclimated to being around lots of dogs at once and not stopping to say hello/sniff butts. Race day came and so did the 90% chance of rain. It was a dreary, chilly morning, but the rain held off and so we ran. Onyx hauled butt, thinking he had to beat all the other dogs who were running. Needless to say, I beat my PR since I was drug along the entire course, start to finish. It really was a great time though and for a cause so near and dear to my heart.

Shamrock 8k – 4.97 miles – March 2013

My mom had been doing this race since 2009 and I’m so glad she finally convinced my hubby and I to take part. My maternal grandfather was Irish was always go a little crazy for St. Patrick’s Day activities and events! This race takes place on the Virginia Beach oceanfront with lots of green, lots of beer (after the race), and lots of fun! It was also really fun to run it with my hubby. We’d always enjoyed the after party in previous years, but this year being part of the race was really cool! This was also the farthest I’d run to date so once again, crossing the finish line felt like quite the accomplishment!

Shamrock 8k – 4.97 – March 2014

Looking back I can’t believe I didn’t do any organized races for a year after all the fun I had at my first Shamrock 8k! Regardless, this one was just as fun, if not more so. Again, my hubby and I ran it together, this time beating our previous finish time, and once again had a blast afterwards! There’s always the best bands and it’s a huge local event so we alwaysssss run into multiple people we know and didn’t realize were going. So fun!

Wicked 10k – 6.21 miles – October 2014

This race was one I’d been wanting to do for some time, since I’d always heard it so fun and because I’m a sucker for Halloween costumes. My friend, Kristina, and I signed up for this race and scoured Pinterest for both creative costumes and costumes that wouldn’t be impossible to run in. (They have a costume contest, but I knew I wasn’t going to go that crazy). We decided to be ninja turtles, but to make it girlie and “cute” we decided to wear green tutus with our costumes. We were so ahead of the game, buying all the supplies we needed for our costumes days before race day, but then procrastinated actually putting them together. This made things interesting as our turtle shells were still wet during the run. This race started off great, but having not properly trained and only regularly running about 1-3 miles, the last mile and a half were pretty hard. I refused to walk though and we crossed the finish line hand in hand, cheering and hollering!

Color Me Rad – 5k/3.1 miles – April 2016

This was my first run after being pregnant/giving birth to my daughter in August of 2015 and I thought it was going to kick my butt! Even though this was one of the shortest organized runs I’ve done I hadn’t run since I was 16 weeks pregnant. I started a running routine about three weeks before the race and it was ROUGH! It was taking me more than twelve minutes to run just a mile. I couldn’t believe a race that most people don’t even take the time to train for was going to be such a challenge for me. Fortunately after a week and a half of running my time had gotten much better and I didn’t feel like dying just from putting my sneakers on. Unfortunately, however, this race wasn’t very well planned and not only was the course pretty dangerous (huge tire ruts, hanging branches), but the paths were so tight that in some spots you could only run single file. This wouldn’t have been that bad had everyone actually run the course, as my friend, Kassie, and I had planned on doing, but tons of people were walking and pushing strollers and it just really held things up. (No offense to anyone that wants to walk the course, it just wasn’t conducive to have both runners and walkers on such a narrow course). Regardless, we made the best of it, and had a great time with a double date with our hubbys afterwards. (This particular race didn’t really have much of an after party).

Rock & Roll Half Marathon – 13.1 miles – THIS SUNDAY!!!!!!!!

Tune in next week for a recap of the race – my first half marathon! Woo hoo!!!!!