NYC Birthday Celebration

I love it when trips are not planned way in advance but are born out of a ‘That sounds like fun, sure…count me in.” ūüôā¬† One of my friends said she was taking her daughter and some of her family to NYC for her oldest daughters ‘Sweet 16’ birthday!¬† ¬†She asked if she could take my 13-year-old daughter with her to keep her 13-year-old company.¬† (mind you, these two girls are best friends) After my daughter stopped screaming from excitement, I looked at my calendar and realized my son and I did not have anything going on that weekend either.¬† Hmmmm.. sounds like an opportunity for some one on one #gracetime with my son and a new #adventure.¬† We have never been to NYC before…sounds fun!!¬† And so…NY bound we were.

(Photo taken in Bowling Green Park)

A friend of mine lost her son at the age of Every few years my son and I have taken a trip together.¬† That time away from schedules and car pools is invaluable. You really get to compress and make some memories together. Plus, if your teenagers are like mine…sometimes they are not always the most forthcoming with information.¬† But I have found getting them out of their every day environment, they tend relax¬†& do not mind hanging out with mom and opening up a bit.¬† Plus, I find myself more relaxed and able to decompress and it just makes for a fun time.

Although, I have to admit, I was a bit nervous finding my way about the subway system and the city by myself with my child.¬† However, I happen to have a ‘techie’ for a teenager and he was all about downloading the subway system apps and enjoyed finding the stations and which train we needed to take and we just had a great time. We only got turned around once :).

Since we had not been to NYC before, we only picked a handful of things we really wanted to see and then we decided to just spend some time checking out the city with no expectations and just get a feel for it. We knew we were coming back in June.

One of my favorite things about NY is all the food, food and more food choices.  Gosh, I wish they had more restaurants and food trucks.  LOL

I am a big foodie.¬† I love to try new things and have had the opportunity to taste some delicious and exquisite food over my 40+ years.¬† ¬†I love fresh ingredients and chefs that are not afraid to put a twist on a favorite and know how to bring out the best flavors in a particular dish.¬† Although I do love a delicious, gourmet prepared dinner, we also love a great dive. Sometimes the best foods are found in local diners.¬† We had a great breakfast at Galaxy Diner in Hell’s Kitchen.¬† Very simple, eggs and french toast but they were cooked very well.¬† The atmosphere was very fast paced but the food came out quick and it tasted very good and they had a good menu selection. We were very happy.¬†

We also tried Pelligrino’s in Little Italy and it was absolutely delicious.¬† We all enjoyed our meal and we were able to sit outside on the side-walk and it was a beautiful evening to eat outdoors. The Chianti was also very good.

We were only in NYC for 2 1/2 days and one of the days was totally dedicated to my son.  I let him pick out everything he wanted to do that day and it was my 16th birthday present to him. His choices were B&H photo shop (he is a techie and a pretty darn good one too. I am so excited to see what he does with his future), The Intrepid Air & Space Museum, and The World Trade Center Memorials.


I love watching him in his element and when he educates me about the history of some of the planes that were on display on aircraft carrier.¬† Just listening to what he knows and hearing him be passionate about something warms my heart.¬† Plus it is one of the few times I get more information from him than “It was fine.” or “I don’t know”.¬† Anyone else hear this from their teenagers?¬† #preach

We also toured the¬† 911 Memorial which was just ….I have no words.¬† It is just something you have to go through and witness yourself.

My addition to his list was dinner on top of One World Observatory.  It has an amazing view and the food is divine.  The menu is limited but we loved everything we had.   I had the Branzino (fish) and my son had the ribeye.  Both were prepared very well.  I would highly recommend it.  #dinnerwithaview


We are a family of food sharers, alright.  I have raised my kids to share their food with me. LOL.  If you are going to eat with me, you have to allow me to eat off your plate and vice versa.  It allows you to more things on the menu.

Brevan and I both ordered different entrees, shared a side and ordered different desserts.  Everything we tasted was absolutely delicious.

I could go on and on talking about all the sites we visited and the food we ate in New York City.  We were only there for 2 full days and I felt like we were able to do so much.   All I know, I loved experiencing that with my son and having that quality time with him.  We even met up with my daughter and friends for a couple of hours one evening, which was so fun!

A trip full of memories I will never forget.  Life is fleeting, but memories last.  #gracetime #moments #grabthemtoday




Protein Clusters for the Girls Volleyball Team Treat Bags

We are a volleyball family.  Between the middle school program and junior olympics. We live in volleyball mode about 8 out of 12 months a year.   The parents all have so much fun together cheering for the girls and watching the girls grow in their skills.

For the middle school team I tend to do a lot of team mom type activities, such as hosting the team bonding night and creating treats for the championship games.  One of my favorite things to put in the treat bags are the protein clusters.   They are easy to make, taste delicious and are both a healthy option as well as good protein to help them through the day.   Here is my twist on the recipe. 


4 scoops of vanilla muscle gain

1 cup of oats

1 cup of almonds

1 cup of peanut butter (I use Jiff)

1 cup of honey

1/2 cup of coconut

1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips

1/3 cup of protein powder


  1. Blend oats, almonds and coconut together to make a powder
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients
  3. Coop and roll to form balls and set on a cookie sheet
  4. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

*Makes approx. 35 small clusters


In addition to the clusters, I also put in bags of carrots & cucumbers and chips.¬† I also added a mini candy bar, but sshhhhh, do not tell their coaches. ūüôā

Of course, I brewed myself a cup of coffee and sampled a couple of the clusters.  I had to make sure they tasted alright for the girls.

The treat bags were a success and although the clusters may not look the prettiest, they are delicious and very addictive.





Progressive 40th Birthday Celebration- Girls Day Out

Do you have a group of ‘those’ friends? ¬†You know the ones I am referring to….the ones you can be completely silly with and just kick back and relax…BUT, who will tell you straight up what they think! ¬†The ones you refer to as ‘your girls’.

I have been very blessed to have my own group, and I will refer to them in my blog posts as ‘The Shopping Girls’¬†which is really code for:¬† a bunch of moms who get together , act silly,¬†and enjoy ANY outing that is an excuse to get together. ¬†¬†Our outing could involve shopping, wine, birthdays, fundraisers…. and basically, just pausing from being a Mom for a brief moment and enjoying being ourselves! ..No judgements, no one interrupting our conversations asking to be picked up/dropped off .. AND, and here is the BEST part!…… we can go to the bathroom by ourselves!

Alright, back to the event… Milestone Birthdays are a perfect excuse to pull everyone together. ¬†And this time, it was Michelle’s 40th birthday! We typically go all out when we plan a get-together, as we do not have the opportunity for all of us to meet up that often. ¬†The above photo, is the goodie bag that Debbie (tiny and in charge) put together for all of us! So cute!!

Game Plan:¬† A progressive ‘surprise’ birthday party at three of our homes.

Theme:¬†Water, flip flops & lots of laughs for “Michelle’s Flipping 40” birthday bash!








Aren’t these napkins adorable…#truth ! (Amazon)




Our celebration began with brunch at Melissa’s. ¬†This included: ¬†mimosas, fruit, an egg casserole and these delicious blueberry scones with Lemon curd from Trader Joe’s (DEEEE-licious, btw).

Many of you are Moms, so you know how creative you have to get and the planning involved when you want to take an ENTIRE day away from your family. ¬†We do not get to do this often, but this time is critical ‘re-charge’ moments to remember who you are and be the best ‘you’ ¬†can be for your family!

I digress, Well..we found it takes even more effort to get your birthday friend to get away for the day when you can NOT tell her she is the ‘STAR’ of the show! ¬†To help assure her presence, we even let her hubby in on the festivities.¬† Would you believe, even with all our pre-planning – ¬†crossing every ‚ÄėT‚Äô and dotting every ‚ÄėI‚Äô to make sure everything was covered, she cancelled on us because something came up in her schedule! ¬†Now, most people (men), would have thrown in the towel by now, but not us Moms!¬† Nothing gets in our way when we are on a mission! ¬†The net of it …Michelle was thrilled and completely shocked when we ‘surprised’ her at Melissa’s house that morning!


Here is our group, minus two that had major schedule conflicts. ¬† Michelle is the baby of the group and the one in purple sitting down. ¬†You also see one of Melissa’s dogs, which is a Golden, in the corner of the photo.












Although it is by luck, we each have fun toys are our homes. ¬†Two of us have hot tubs and two have a pool. ¬†In other words, water is almost always part of the theme and a ton of fun! Plus, as a Mom…what better way to decompress with your girls!

The cups above, were part of our goodie bags.  We each got our own colors.  They are non-spillable and perfect for our day of water activities! Super cute and practical!

After our bellies were full and we had relaxed and rejuvenated in the hot tub, we set out for our next location, my home.

We are very fortunate. ¬†Everyone of us is a career woman in a different field, but the men in these women’s lives are absolutely amazing! ¬†The ¬†husbands in the group ¬†take us around, carry our shopping bags, make our reservations and when they are not available, ¬†we will get a car service. ¬† Who would not want to chauffeur this wonderful group of ladies around!?! ¬† ūüôā

After a dip in the pool…and yes Pepper, the little dog went for a swim with us too…we had a delicious lunch, prepared by yours truly! I made chicken salad, a guacamole bean dip, watermelon, garlic & dill dip (from a farmers market vendor) & to top it off for dessert….drumroll please… A super simple chocolate dessert:¬† made with chocolate cake, pudding, whipped topping (two layers of each) and topped off with crushed snickers bars. ¬†It was absolutely divine and so simple!


It was the most perfect day out:¬† not too hot and not humid. ¬†After we ate, we all grabbed a chaise lounger and …yes we are Moms…so we all took a nap :). ¬†It was hysterical! We could not stop laughing about it throughout the rest of the day! But it was incredibly relaxing and peaceful. ¬†NO one asking ¬†you to get them anything ….it was a perfect ‘me-time’ recharge we all OBVIOUSLY needed ūüôā !! #gracetime #moments

Our last stop for dinner was at Debbie’s. ¬†This was the topper to our evening of celebration, as it included an in-house massage – followed by a dip in her hot tub.


Michelle had an amazing birthday she will not soon forget and we all made lots of new memories together and had the perfect day full of #gracetime #moments!

Make the MOST of your time together!  We ALL put our families first, and wouldn’t want it any other way!  We all have so many things going on in our lives, but taking time with your GIRLS to recharge yourself makes you better for your family!

I am so grateful for my girls! 

Thank you for taking a few moments out of your day to experience my #gracetime #moments! I would love to hear about yours!  Until next time………






Getting Our Zen On at Elevate Akron

Have you ‘yoga’d before?


Until last week, I thought a Chaturanga Pose was a position on an Amtrak train‚Ķ..LOL. ¬†But when one of the girls from your¬†Shopping Group¬†(explanation of group to come in another¬†blog post)¬†posts¬†that she has acquired tickets to Elevate Akron and invites you to attend….. you say,¬†why not!

What would we DO without Google!  Immediately, I researched what I had just agreed to attend.  How fun! I have never attended a Yoga class before.  I absolutely love PiYo and I love to work out, so why not try Yoga!?  Plus, it is so much more fun to try something when you have back up.  My current workout mat was a little tattered and had been used repeatedly by my daughter and her friends so I went to Amazon (my bestie) and bought a mat and cooling towel for my new experience!

Elevate Akron, is held in our outdoor complex at Lock 3, which is where I take my kids and their friends to ice skate during the winter.¬† There are also various activities throughout the summer. ¬†Then, it sunk in‚Ķ.. trying Yoga for the first time with 3,000 people around to see me make a fool of myself. ¬†#letsdoit ¬†Besides, ¬†the event partners with Summit Country Children’s Services to raise money and awareness. ¬†I love fun events that also have a philanthropy component.


(photo creds for above pic to Elevate Akron)

We were among the first to arrive, so we had prime real estate for our mats.  Do we go close up front where we can easily see the instructors, but then we run the risk of EVERYONE’S eyes on us while we attempt Yoga.  My girlfriends have all done yoga before……. I was the only Yoga virgin.

Laura¬†found our primo spot, marked it with our mats, ¬†and then checked out the scene. ¬†We noticed a handful of tents promoting yoga and fitness memberships, and then‚Ķ‚Ķ we hit the JACKPOT! ¬†Directly in front of us, was a tent that offered donation-based massages and Reiki!¬†Well, of course, we should try both…it IS¬† for¬†the foster children of Summit Country. ūüôā ¬† We tried Reiki to relax us prior to Yoga; and then afterwards, we went back to the tent for a quick massage. ¬† It was perfect and the ladies did a fantastic job!! I highly recommend it!


After Reiki, we explored the Food truck area.  Anyone else pre-game for Yoga with pork tacos (Orange Truck), hummus, beer (HiHO Brewing) and wine?  We, of course, washed it all down with some Restore pressed juice and a peanut butter protein bite (Earth Energy Sustainable Treats).  Everything was delicious.  The hummus was a bit spicy, but the protein bites were devine.


We were ready to get our Zen on!! The group gave us a full hour of yoga and had instructors on stage and spread throughout the grounds.  It was soooooo fun and I felt like I got a GREAT workout!  I can NOT wait to do this again next year! We had a great time and made great memories!  I am so thrilled I tried something new with my girls that was not only  good for my body, BUT, healthy, too! It was also a great lesson for my kids.  Another #gracetime #moment that will not be forgotten.

Pictured below left to right ((Laura (battling breast cancer, please pray for her..She is amazing), Carie, Me, and Michelle))


Cheers and thank you for sharing this #gracetime #moment with me!

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Peach & Turquoise Outfit Pairing

My favorite thing with accessories is putting in a punch of color to brighten things up or finding an accent color.  There is something about peach and turquoise that looks so pretty together.


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Everything looks better in front of a pool or a beautiful landscape.  Outfit details (top -Dillards,  skirt -Loft)

A cute outfit that makes you feel pretty is #gracetime in itself.


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Looking Patriotic for the Summer

I am loving the navy blues and whites this summer! White tops with navy shorts have been on repeat for me this past month! The patterned shorts are so cute and fun during the summer! Great for running errands and bbqs. (outfit details; Ann Taylor Loft)