Diary of a Smoothie Bowl

I've been smoothie bowl obsessed for the better part of 2016. I just can't. get. enough. They're gorgeous,  fun, and full of ingredients you can be happy about putting in your body. I'm sure there are a million different ways to make them, but I thought I'd share my smoothie bowl MO...

First, I always use frozen fruit. It gives the smoothie bowls a great thick and creamy consistency. To puree that frozen fruit, though, you'll need a heavy duty machine. If you have a fancy blender (you know, one of the ones that costs as much as a pair of Manolo Blahniks) you can use that. I don't own one (and given the choice I'd rather have the shoes), so I always just use our normal kitchen food processor, and it works fine. It will take a couple minutes in the food processor to achieve the desired consistency, so don't be alarmed if the mixture just looks like chopped fruit at first - keep blending and it will finally turn creamy.

The best thing about smoothie bowls is that you can mix and match them according to whatever ingredients you have on hand. It's also very easy to tailor them to dietary restrictions or programs (like Whole30 or Vegan). Here's my general guideline for ingredients and quantities:

Smoothie Bowl Mix and Match Recipe

2 cups chopped frozen fruit (I like to freeze our own!)
1/4 cup something creamy (greek yogurt, coconut cream, almond milk)
1/2 Tbs. - 1/4 cup Add-Ins (nut butters, honey, maple syrup, unsweetened cocoa powder, spinach)

Just combine ingredients in a food processor and puree for 2-3 minutes until creamy (stopping and stirring occasionally of needed). And that's it! Then the fun part: pour into a bowl and decorate as desired. I usually go for chia seeds, shredded coconut, cacao nibs, fresh fruit, nuts, and granola.

Here are some of my very favorite combos...

Strawberry Banana with Almond Butter

1 cup chopped frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen banana chunks
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup almond butter
1/2 Tbs. honey
pinch of salt

Chocolate Strawberry Banana

1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen banana chunks
¼ cup plain greek yogurt
2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbs local honey

Banana Blueberry (Vegan/Whole 30 Compliant)

1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen banana chunks
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup almond milk

Peanut Butter Banana

2 cups chopped frozen bananas
¼ cup plain greek yogurt
¼ cup peanut butter
1 Tbs. honey

Peanut Butter & Jelly

1 ½ cups frozen blueberries
½ cup frozen banana
¼ cup plain greek yogurt
¼ cup peanut butter
1 Tbs. honey
pinch of salt

Just Peachy

2 cups chopped frozen peaches
¼ cup plain greek yogurt
2 Tbs. honey
½ Tbs. lemon juice

Berry Vegan

1 cup chopped frozen strawberries
½ cup frozen banana chunks
½ cup frozen blueberries
¼ cup almond milk
2 Tbs. almond butter
½ Tbs. maple syrup

A couple more tips: I've been freezing our own fresh local fruit this summer. Just take whatever fruit you're using, wash and peel/slice it, then lay it out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and pop into the freezer overnight. The next day you can transfer the fruit to ziplock baggies. Since they were frozen individually, the pieces won't all stick together as they would have if they'd just been tossed in the ziplock bag to begin with. I just love freezing our own fruit since it's so abundant now during the summer, and it also gives me a chance to save whatever fruit we get in our CSA that we might not be able to use otherwise (right now we are up to our necks in peaches!). This works double for bananas - not local, but I love being able to "rescue" a trash bin-bound banana by slicing and freezing it! Also, no need to do the baking sheet trick for bananas - I just put them directly in ziplocks.

My second tip - smoothie bowls make great popsicles! Parker is a big smoothie bowl fan, so usually we have no trouble polishing them off. But once in awhile, if he's not around and I can't finish one, I'll pour the leftovers into a popsicle mold and freeze it, and voilĂ  - instant popsicle!

Is anyone else out there smoothie bowl obsessed?

Cheers to Seven Years

Seven years ago today we became husband and wife. It somehow both feels like it was yesterday, and also a lifetime ago. 

Seven years ago today...
I still had a California Drivers License. Max and I had just moved into a rental house in Scottsdale where Max had landed his first post-Ph.D. job. I had known my husband for less than two years - this is the funniest part because I really can't imagine life without him now. 

Seven years ago today, we had no idea we'd one day be living in a sixty-year-old house in Alabama. That we would have a son who is the light of our lives. That Max would be driving a salvaged Porsche Carrera that he rebuilt entirely himself. That the blog I recently started would still be going seven years later

But we did know we wanted to be together forever and ever. That we wanted to face life's joys and challenges as a team. I picked this handsome genius of a groom, and I'd pick him a million times over. 


Botanical Garden Monday

Today's weather was finally a change from the hot and steamy we've been experiencing lately. We woke up to temps in the low seventies, so Parker and I jumped at the chance and spent the morning at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. We have a family season pass, but really it gets the most use in the spring and the fall. Today's weather, however, has me jonesing for chilly fall mornings and power walks along the property...

As a last-minute thought, I grabbed our SLR (the Canon 5D Mark II, the same make and model Duchess Kate shoots with as well!) fitted with the awesome lens Max gifted me for my birthday last year. 

I had fun snapping the butterflies in the butterfly house...

While Parker's favorites include the Children's Garden...

The pond...

And the many fountains...

Mornings with my little man are the best. 

We ended our outing with some soccer...

And said good-bye to the garden's model train.

We'll be seeing more of you come fall, Botanical Garden!

Friday Five - Solo Travel Edition

The first week of August, I found myself on a plane out to California to be with my sweet Mama, who was scheduled for heart surgery at Stanford. I snagged a Pinkberry on my layover, extra happy sprinkles... because happy sprinkles make everything better.

I wore my tried and true summer airplane combo for the flights: crochet Toms and black Zella live-in leggings

The shoes are super comfortable and up to the task of high-tailing it through a crowded airport. At the same time, they're breathable for when it's warm, yet keep my feet covered if the airplane gets too chilly. Perfection. Paired with the leggings (and add a tank and a cardigan) it's the perfect marriage. (On a side note, I've owned the shoes for over three years and they still look as good as new, though my other types of Toms have not held up nearly as well.)

I tested a new travel bag for my trip - and I'm in love. It's actually a backpack, so it lets me be hands free (or, you know, hands holding coffee and croissant since I was traveling solo). I somehow scored it during the #nsale despite the fact that it kept selling out... as of last week it was sold out again, but was just restocked! Even at full price, it's such a steal. It's faux leather but you'd never know it. It's well made, and was perfect for flying - it even fit my laptop!
My aunt loved it so much when she saw it that she wanted one of her own. It wasn't available when we looked for her, but we did find this one, very similar and currently on sale!

And what to stow in the backpack? My new favorite find - Evian mist!
These 1.7 oz. sizes are under the 3 oz. TSA limit, so they are airplane friendly. A nice face spray goes a long way on hour seven of an eleven hour travel day. 

Finally, Max sent me with his external battery pack. When my phone battery was low during my second flight, it was so nice to be able to charge it right at my seat. I realize some seats do have outlets underneath, and airports have charging stations as well, but it's so comforting to have the battery pack for back-up (especially on long travel days flying cross-country). 

And while Max's was functional, the Kate Spade one above is way cuter. 

All these items actually came in super handy for the week spent at the hospital, as well. As for my sweet Mama, her heart surgery (mitral valve repair) was a success! It was a big deal surgery, and she was a rockstar patient - even being discharged ahead of schedule! We're so thankful for the prayers, happy thoughts and positive vibes.


Harry Potter and The Cursed Child - A Book Review

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - I've been waiting months and months for this book. The HP fans were told that Book Seven (released in July 2007) was the last book in the series, and everyone sadly accepted this... so the idea of another HP book was just magical. We couldn't be picky when this new "book" was explained.

 HP and the Cursed Child is actually a play? No problem. It's in script format? Alrighty. It was only partially written by J.K. Rowling? Bring it on. 

Expectations were set accordingly low. I knew this book wouldn't compare to the others - and it didn't. It was more like one of those tiny chocolate truffles that comes with the bill at the end of a meal - unexpected, but at sweet treat nonetheless. (On a side note, is there a name for those little bites? They're like the opposite of an amuse bouche.)

Okay, actually, I was a bit hung up on the fact that the book was in script format... and I was considering boycotting. And then the book actually came out. And all I wanted to do was get my hands on it. I told myself I could wait until my hold came up at the library... that lasted all of one day, and then Harry Potter and the Cursed Child found its way into my red cart at Target.

I ended up finishing the book in just a couple days - which is pretty unheard of with a three-year-old. I was just enjoying it that much. It was all about the opportunity to be back in "the wizarding world" and to continue the life events of the characters I loved and read about for so many years - and to see where they were nineteen years later!

The book largely centered on the sons of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, who were just kids in the HP series. There's a fair bit of guessing who's motives are pure throughout the book, but it keeps its cast of charters pretty small as it's an actual play, being performed in London right now. 

The script format was not my favorite. I commented to husby that it made the reading a bit choppy, but I did get used to it. The plot was clever, and I enjoyed getting a glimpse into the life of grown-up Harry Potter and family, though the original cast of characters, now grown-ups, were kept at arm's length the whole book. This kind of served to remind the reader that the book was not in fact part of the series, but something totally different. 

And now, I really want to see the play. You know, which is only showing in the West End of London. Hint, hint husby ;) Just for funsies, this picture is of me and husby in London's West End in 2010:

We had just seen Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre- though trips like that were much easier P.P. (pre-Parker), ha!

Parker Starts Preschool!

Yep, today was the day! My sweet baby boy started preschool!

As I wrote a couple weeks ago, it was time. He's three-and-a-half, and had never been to any sort of activity or program without me present. Our choice to start him in preschool was more to expose him to the social benefits, rather than the academic component which he seems to pick up all on his own, being the curious little guy that he his. However, preschool would be his first introduction to the idea of an academic setting, and I so wanted the introduction to be a positive one. Max and I both highly value education, and we've both even spent time on the teaching side (Max holding a position as a lecturer at Stanford and me in my almost ten years as an elementary classroom teacher). What we hope, of course, is that Parker starts a lifelong love of school this year (he's already in love with learning, sweet guy). 

After all our talking and prepping, little man was pumped about the idea of school. The night before when putting him down to bed, he requested that I say: “Sweet dreams. See you in the morning. See you when it’s your school day.” Then he did a happy laugh, as in I'm so excited to go to school.

What are you excited about?
I’m excited about the food section with the microwave (the role-play section of the classroom).

What's your favorite thing to learn about?

What are you good at?
I’m good at bowling.

What's your favorite book?
Little Blue Truck Halloween (also his newest... and yes, I have no shame, we are reading fall books in August). 

Where do you want to go to college? 

What do you want to be when you grow up? 
A dentist (his answer of the past year)... no, a doctor (this was new). 

Up until this point, we have been in almost complete control of what Parker was exposed to... ideas, words, emotions... so the fact that we won't be at preschool to edit the content of what he's presented with, it's scary. And it's just three hours, three days a week. Baby steps. 

Parker woke up happy and excited this morning, and my heart was so happy for him. His sweet school had a first-day photo-op set up outside. Darling, right? We entered and Parker's teacher was waiting for us in the lobby where we had been instructed to do our quick and happy good-byes. He chatted while he put away his lunch box, and informed his teacher that his Mama would be back to pick him up at eleven thirty. Then it was good-bye time, and as soon as we embraced, he held on and started to cry. Oh, my heart! I stuck to my quick and happy good-bye as his teacher took him by the hand and led him into the classroom, promising me that he'd be fine. 

As for this Mama, no tears on my side! I took advantage of the free morning and attended a Pure Barre class, followed by a smoothie bowl and solo grocery shopping... but I was still back in the parking lot twenty minutes early, so excited to hear about Little Man's day. 

Sweet Guy ran up to me when it was time and gave me the biggest hug ever. His teacher said he was so smart, and was a star at calendar and did really well with numbers. She also said he needed some prompting to join the group each time they changed activities (hoping this gets easier as time goes on and he gets more practice). 

We celebrated at Bridge Street with popsicles and he told me all about his day. His favorites included the sandbox, playing with marbles, the Good Morning song, Morning Meeting, and the bell that the teachers used for transitions. He also informed me that the boy next to him at lunch had marshmallows in his lunchbox - as in: excuse me, where were my marshmallows? Pretty funny. Overall, a success! Let's do it all over again tomorrow :)

The Adventure Starts Here

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