It’s a GIRL!

We decided to do something a fun and exciting to announce the gender of our baby! After searching Pinterest (of course), I came up with the idea to get a photographer and capture our reaction when finding out the gender of Baby Ryckman! Here are the results…

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PINK OR BLUE?

My husband and I have been counting down the days as when we finally get to find out the gender of our growing baby! One week and we’ll share with the world our news. Until then…fashionable maternity clothing anyone?! I’m on the shopping hunt!

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CoCo Wheats

Do you remember CoCo Wheats from when you were a kid? I do! My Dad usually, not my Mom, would make my sisters and I this delicious but simple breakfast. It must have been a Dad thing?

If you have never heard of such a thing called CoCo Wheats, it is a creamy chocolatey almost like porridge. The creamy hot cereal was introduced in 1930 with the belief that hot cereal could taste good, and be good for you. They thought most would love the cocoa taste too!

On the back of the box there are stovetop and microwave instructions. For a big/family batch I would suggest following the stovetop instructions but for a single serving the microwave method is just fine.

The instructions are on the back of the box but I’ll share them with you anyways…

Microwave Cooking Instructions

  • Step 1: Mix 3 tbsp. CoCo Wheats, 1 cup water or 1 cup milk (I use milk because it makes it creamy and delicious!), 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1 tbsp. sugar (optional….but you’ll want to add it) in a microwaveable bowl.
  • Step 2: Cook on high for 1 minute.
  • Step 3: Stir. Cook 1-2 minutes more, stirring well every 30 seconds until cereal is desired thickness. Watch carefully!
    • I always cook mine for an additional minute at least. But please, please make sure you watch carefully otherwise you’ll have a messy microwave!
  • Step 4: Remove, stir well and let stand 1-2 minutes.

**Just before I enjoy this wonderful breakfast I always add a few teaspoons of sugar and a little splash of milk, which helps cool it and adds a little something to the hot cereal.

 

I hope you try CoCo Wheats for yourself and enjoy this wonderful breakfast! It brings back so many memories of my childhood and I can’t wait to create these same memories with my bundle of joy on the way!

Cucumber, Tomato, & Cream Cheese Bites

Over the holidays I decided I better start contributing to our traditional spread of appetizers (I am an adult and married for goodness sakes!) at our family Christmas Eve get-together.  There were about 25 family and friends that gathered at my parents house to celebrate the joyous holiday.

When I decided to make an appetizer I naturally started  flipping through Pinterest. When I was going through the millions of pins I wanted to find something that was holiday cute and semi-healthy.

This is what I found….

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This is what I created…

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The picture I found on Pinterest didn’t really come with instructions so I decided I would just “wing” it.

“My Version” of Cucumber, Tomato, Cream Cheese Bites Ingredients:

  1. 2 Large Cucumbers
  2. 1 container of Grape Tomatoes
  3. 1 tub (8 oz.) Philadelphia Chive & Onion Cream Cheese Spread
  4. Black Pepper

“My Version” Instructions:

  1. Peel cucumbers and slice into 3/4 inch rounds and cut grape tomato in half the long way.
  2. Spoon out middle section of each cucumber round slice (to remove most of the seeds).
  3. Spoon the cream cheese spread (about 1 tablespoon or a little less) into the middle of cucumber. (I eye-balled this…depending on how deep the hole was)
  4. Once cream cheese is spooned into the middle of the cucumber slice, place one tomato halve on each.
  5. Sprinkle with a little black pepper for taste.
  6. Refrigerate if waiting for guests to arrive and ENJOY!

These simple bites were a hit at both my families Christmas celebration and I also brought them to a New Year Eve Celebration too! I only ended up tossing a few after each night. I’d say that’s considered an appetizer HIT!

Puppy Chow

First of all, do you know anyone that hates Puppy Chow? I surely do not! Puppy Chow reminds me of summer swim meets. The reason why it brings memories back for me is because, my sisters and our teammates would live for the homemade Puppy Chow at the swim meets. We would make our way up to the concession stand after warm-ups and dig through all the zip-loc bags full of the powdery yummy treat to find the perfect coating of powder and find the single bag that appeared to have the most in it. Sounds like we were really focused on our races right?! 😉

The reason I made Puppy Chow recently was for a work christmas party. It’s easy and everyone loves it. It’s a great go-to hit!

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Puppy Chow Recipe

Ingredients
9 c chex (any variety)
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ c peanut butter
½ c butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla
1½ c powdered sugar

Instructions
1. Into large bowl, measure cereal, set aside.
2. In 1 quart sauce pan, heat chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter over low heat stirring frequently until melted.
3. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.
4. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
5. Pour into two gallon resealable plastic bags.
6. Add powdered sugar.
7. Seal bag and shake until well coated.
8. Spread over waxed paper to cool. (I skipped this step and put it directly into a container)
9. Store in airtight containers.

EXCITING NEWS: Baby Ryckman due to arrive July 2015!

The year 2015 sure will be an exciting year for my husband and I. Today Jordan and I are excited to announce that we are expecting a baby July 2015. We are counting down the days until Baby Ryckman arrives! 🙂

Not only are we having a baby but we are also building our dream home! Continue to follow me in my journey…it’s going to be a busy 2015!

 

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Christmas Shopping Complete!

This year I was really on the ball! Late October I began my Christmas shopping list. In my handy-dandy iPhone I create a memo. In this memo, I list everyone (mostly immediate family) I am planning on purchasing something for. I personally buy for about 11-13 people. As the days and weeks continue to inch closer and closer to Christmas I list possible “good-ideas” in this memo next to each family members name. As I go down the list I can then mark off the individual as I buy their special gift from Jordan and I. If I didn’t go by this method I know I would for sure be wondering by December 24th, “what the heck did I buy again”?

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Do you have your Christmas Shopping completed?

I shopped at various retailers to find the perfect gifts for my families! For example, Wal-mart, Apple Inc., Moccasin Creek Country Club, LuluLemon, Pottery Barn Kids, Best Buy, Athleta, Karisma Boutique, and Macy’s. From supporting small local businesses to also purchasing these gifts at large retailers, I believe I found some great gifts to make my family happy and grateful this holiday season! Good luck to you in finding your perfect holiday gifts on your list!

Stella & Dot

Recently, I have been introduced to a jewelry line called, Stella & Dot. It’s a little spendy but you can clearly tell these pieces are something special and they’re not some little chinsey pieces of jewelry you may find at some stores.

A friend invited me to a Stella & Dot trunk show but, I couldn’t make it to the party (bummer 😦 ). I took a chance and went online to check out what the Stella & Dot website had to offer me and well as expected… I fell in love.

I ordered three different pieces and what was even more impressive was that the stylist that was hosting the trunk show emailed me the next day and let me know I had picked out some great choices and also offered any help if I had additional questions. Talk about great customer service! (Thanks Mary!!)

Here are the Stella & Dot jewelry I purchased:

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Wearing the Aria Pendant Necklace


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This beautiful necklace can be worn multiple ways as demonstrated above! The Aria Pendant Necklace includes semi-precious crackled quartz stones that hang from three gold plated chains. This necklaces is only $98 at stelladot.com

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Cushion Drop Earrings

Stella & Dot cushion drop earrings are so simple and elegant that they could dress up any outfit quickly but can also be worn casually and keep your look chic! These cushion cut earrings have a canary-colored glass stones. The Cushion Drop Earrings are $34 at Stella & Dot.

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Deco Drop Earrings

I cannot wait to wear these Stella & Dot Deco Drop Earrings this weekend! When I locked eyes on these beauties I knew I had to have them. These earrings seem so elegant to me and I love the vintage style inspired drop. You can snag these beauties for $44 at Stella & Dot.

K-Cup: single serving addiction

About 9 months ago I could careless about coffee, let alone a single serving Keurig machine. I went on a family vacation last February and had a sip of some awesome tasting coffee (7 days in a row) and now, I can’t live without it! After that trip I marched my little booty out to Target and bought myself and my husband a shiny new Keurig. I now wake up in the morning and almost the first thing I do is brew myself a hot cup of coffee using my Keurig machine. It’s so convenient, easy, and perfect for what I need. Even though I have a minor addiction to coffee I still love my single serving I brew up!

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Keurig K10 MINI Plus Brewing System

The cups that are used in a Keurig machine to dispense the hot drinks are called, K-Cups.

Some of my favorite K-Cup flavors of coffee and hot drinks are:

  • Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Coffee
  • Folgers Classic Roast Coffee
  • Folgers Lively Colombian Coffee
  • Gloria Jean’s Brown Sugar Cake Coffee
  • Green Mountain Naturals Hot Apple Cider
  • Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa

Whether or not you have a Keurig, I hope you’re staying warm on this cold and snowy South Dakota night!

Pumpkin Pancakes: easy, delicious, and fluffy goodness!

Here’s another tasty fall recipe that I love! Now, quick reminder, pancakes are not just for breakfast because we all know breakfast is the BEST supper too!

Pumpkin Pancakes

Ingredients
2 cups complete pancake mix
1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup 100% Pure Pumpkin
Nonstick cooking spray
Lite pancake syrup, if desired (I didn’t need any!)

Instructions
1. COMBINE pancake mix, water, and pumpkin in bowl. Stir just until moistened. Batter may be lumpy
2. SPRAY griddle or large skillet with nonstick spray. Heat over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle; cook until batter bubbles begin to burst. Turn and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with syrup.

Makes 6 servings, about 12 pancakes total

 

PS. Pumpkin Pancakes pair great with Turkey Bacon! 😉 Enjoy!!

Building Our Family Dream Home: PROGRESS!

For the past 6 months Jordan and I have been planning to build our family dream home. We have met with our architect and contractor many times planning and deciding what “we” think is the perfect home for us. It has been a very exciting process and we can’t wait for the end result! (Hopefully sometime June 2015)

Recently, with much excitement there has been dirt moved on our lot where the house will be built. Yes, I just said I was excited about dirt being scraped from the earth’s surface!! I never thought in a million years that I would be so excited about something like that! But, when you have a vision in your mind, any progress is better than no progress at all.

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Now, we sit and wait for more progress but don’t you worry, I will keep you updated because I can’t contain this excitement! Even if it’s just a little dirt moving 😉

Michigan Trip

This past weekend my family and I traveled to Michigan for a family wedding. My cousin, David was united in marriage to his gorgeous bride, Angelina! It was a beautiful 4 day weekend filled with excitement, learning, and happy emotions!

The weekend began with a very early flight Friday. My husband, sister, parents, grandmother, and I flew out on the early flight. Which means we were all up at 3:00 am…yuck! Getting up early made for a very long day and night…

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We arrived in Detroit, Michigan and had about a 45 minute drive to Rochester, Michigan. We stayed at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester. It is an absolutely beautiful and most comfortable hotel I’ve stayed at in awhile! I highly recommend it if you are ever in the the Rochester, Michigan area. Later on that night we attended the rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal dinner was held at an Italian restaurant in Sterling Heights, Michigan. The groom and bride have Italian roots so it was only appropriate to fill us with tasty Italian food!

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At the rehearsal dinner we received “VIP Welcome” Bags. The bag was filled with an itinerary, pages of local suggested shops, restaurants, and attractions, and 2 bags of  Better Made Original Potato Chips, Faygo Pop, and Vernors Soda. You’re probably thinking…why in the world would they put chips and soda in a welcome bag? Or the real question is, why weird, unknown brands of soda? Well, let me explain… 🙂

Better Made Potato Chips: In 1930, Cross Moceri and Peter Cipriano purchased a potato chip factory in Detroit, Michigan. In 1934, Peter and Cross launched their first and only brand of potato chips: Better Made. New and improved fryers cooked up to 100 pounds of potato chips at a time, using Michigan potatoes 8 months of the year. Today, Better Made chips are found in stores all over Michigan, Toledo, Ohio, and central Chicago, Illinois.

Faygo Pop: In 1907, immigrant brothers and bakers, Ben and Perry Feigenson, began playing around with the idea of creating soft drinks based on their frosting flavors. They bottled their soda – which they called “pop” because of the sound it made when the lid was removed at a factory in Detroit, Michigan. The brothers developed the Feigenson Brothers Bottling Works, but they changed the name to Faygo to fit on the labels. Faygo is sold in many states east of the Mississippi River.

Vernors: Without the Civil War, there would be no Vernors. Before the conflict began, James Vernor, a pharmacist, had concocted a new drink. Vernor was called off to war and he stored the secret mixture in an oak cask in his pharmacy. After returning from the battle four years later, he opened his secret keg and found the drink inside had been transformed. It had taken on a zippy, zesty, and gingery flavor. For years, the only place you could purchase a Vernors was from the fountain in Vernor’s pharmacy downtown Detroit. In the 1940s Vernor opened The Vernors Company to handle an expanding business. Today, Vernors is part of Plano, Texas, based Dr. Pepper Snapple Group.

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With relaxation on each guests mind when Saturday arrived we took a short walk down to the Rochester Mills Beer Co. for “Food, Friends, and Beer” (<< their motto). We spent our afternoon sharing stories and even playing a little pool too!

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Finally, Sunday arrived! The entire weekend has built up to this day, wedding day!  David and Angelina had a traditional Chaldean wedding. The Chaldeans are Catholic descendants of Mesopotamia, present day Iraq. The Chaldeans speak Aramaic, the language Christ spoke. There were quite a few ethnic customs the grooms family had to participate in. This experience was very interesting and such a learning experience!

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Sunday began with a family Zeffa (wedding march). A Zeffa is a musical procession of bendir drums and horns. This announces the marriage is about to begin. We arrived at Angelina’s parents house and did just this. We processed in and danced and clapped with drums and horns blaring! When the Zeffa concluded we drove to the Chaldean Catholic Church where we witnessed David and Angelina say their “I Do’s” and observed more Chaldean traditions.

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Placing of the Crowns: The crowns symbolize the Bride and Groom as the head of their new family and kingdom.

After the wedding ceremony we headed to a traditional reception with dancing and great food! Rest assured though, there were even more tidbits of Italian and Chaldean tradition put into the reception too! The reception was beautiful with ivory color detail and tons of white flowers! It was a great night!

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Sugared almonds known as “Italian Confetti” to remind us that life is both bitter & sweet! 5 almonds represent 5 wishes for David & Angelina – Health, Wealth, Happiness, Fertility & Longevity!

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Like any great getaway there is an end! We made our way home Monday afternoon with tired eyes and sore feet from dancing! Thank you David and Angelina for a fabulous weekend!

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Starbucks in the airport is a must after a tiring weekend!

Chicken Noodle Soup

Today in South Dakota it has been one of the first very cold and windy days! As I was sitting in a continuing education class for work all I could think about was, hot Chicken Noodle Soup! (Oops, sorry to my instructor 😉 )

By the way if you think I’m talking about Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup…I’m most certainly not!

One of the first meals my Mom taught me to cook when I moved into my first college apartment was Chicken Noodle Soup. She always would say, “Allie, cooking is so simple”! In the recipe I list below have some fresh ingredients and some “canned” but please enjoy it and stay warm!!

RECIPE:

Ingredients:
4 cups Swanson Chicken Broth (I used Low Sodium Chicken Broth)
Generous dash ground black pepper
1 medium carrot, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 stalk celery, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup uncooked extra wide egg noodles
1 cup shredded cooked chicken or turkey (I diced my chicken)

Directions:
1. Heat the broth, black pepper, carrot and celery in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat to a boil.
2. Stir the noodles and chicken in the saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes or until the noodles are tender, stirring occasionally.

 

PS. If you want to make it easier on yourself, go buy the carton of Swanson Chicken Broth and there’s the recipe! 🙂 …See, my Mom was right, “so simple”!

Preparing to Pack…Trying to Avoid Overpacking

This upcoming weekend is my cousin David’s wedding. Our whole family and extended family is taking the couple hour plane ride to Michigan to have a whole lot of fun! It has become tradition that the entire family travels near and far to each family wedding to let loose and celebrate such great occasions.

Even though I look forward to having a fabulous time at each family get together I always immediately think to myself, “What am I going to wear?”

Depending on the weather and what type of events I am participating in determines what I pack in my suitcase. My first step is making a long list. The list includes the days of the week I’ll be staying and then listed under each day is the day and night outfits (including shoe choices). I am usually the girl that has the overweight suitcase at the airport so lately I’ve really been trying not to overpack my suitcase and follow my list I initially scribble out. Don’t forget miscellaneous items, such as toiletry items and jewelry!

Wish me luck on my adventure to Michigan!

Tall Boot Socks…my new favorite fall accessory!

As the fall season is now in full swing here in South Dakota, what else would I think about but fall styles? Cozy sweaters, skinny jeans, tall boots, and now my new obsession…TALL BOOT SOCKS! I am loving these tall boot socks because they easily accessorize a fall look perfectly. Effortless style is what I’m looking for and I can only assume most other women are too!

Below are some of my favorite boot socks I have purchased thus far: (Don’t mind my boot sock selfie’s 😉 )

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Free People Lola Sheer Rib Thigh High

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Free People Speckled Slouch Tall Sock

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Free People Pioneer Thigh High

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Purchased at Herberger’s

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Purchased at Herberger’s

Pumpkin Cookies

These cookies are soft and oh-so delicious!

Who doesn’t love pumpkin everything during the fall season?!

Enjoy!

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies

Ingredients: 

2 cups butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

4 cups all-purpose flour

Frosting:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 to 4 cups powdered sugar (add until desired consistency/firmness)

Ground cinnamon sprinkled on top (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl beat the 2 cups of butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, the 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and the nutmeg. Beat until combined. Beat in the eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin. Beat in as much of the four as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour with a wooden spoon.

2. Drop dough by heaping teaspoons 2 inches apart on engrossed cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are set. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

3. For frosting, in a small saucepan heat the 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar until melted and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread frosting on cookies. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired.

Semi-Truck Driving Lessons at the Farm…watch out!

Last night my sister-in-law and I were very excited to receive some great semi-truck driving lessons from our men at the farm! The Ryckman farm purchased an automatic semi-truck this year which in turn means driving truck is easier than ever! My sister-in-law Taryn was instructed by her husband, Allen and I was instructed by my husband, Jordan. Both husbands were very patient and great teachers to the both of us! By the end of the night I was driving all by myself with little instruction. Needless to say, Jordan was very proud of me! I love helping and feeling apart of the success at the farm!

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My first opportunity to drive the Semi-Truck

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My sister-in-law, Taryn

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South Dakota Sunset

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Climbed to the top of the grain bin with Jordan

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Our niece, Iley took a ride in the tractor with Uncle Jordan

Dark Chocolate Covered Raisins…Yes, Please!!

When deciding to start my journey on the 21 Day Fix I thought I would have to cut out many of my favorite food items. Then, after reading over the 21 Day Fix reading material that came in the package with the start up kit, I found out I didn’t have to cut out ALL of my favorite snack choices…I was pumped!

To me, Dark Chocolate Covered Raisins are like a feel good, let’s go to a movie on a Sunday type of little treat. I can have one orange container of Dark Chocolate Covered Raisins three times a week. I’d call that a WIN!

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Wife of a Farmer: Harvest

My husband is a South Dakota farmer. His family and him farm corn, soybeans, and wheat. This time of year can be very hard on a couple, especially a couple that is involved in the farming life. Harvest season is a little worse than planting season. Harvest hours are longer and the day light becomes less and less as the days go by. When the sun does set so soon it makes for a long night at home alone! Below I have listed 4 ways I keep myself busy during harvest:

1. I try to deliver supper out to the field as much as possible. If I deliver supper this means I get to see my husband. Even if I only get to see him in a bumpy tractor or semi-truck ride it is still time we get to spend together one-on-one (with a little CB radio chatter in the background).

2. I catch up on the most recent fall/winter fashion. As much as I love catching up on the most recent styles, my husband surely does not appreciate my online shopping addiction! So, I am warning you now, beware…I don’t suggest following my footsteps in this case!

3. Keeping up on all social media is super easy this time of year. Scrolling through the long feeds of Instagram and Facebook is a nightly routine! Quiz me. 😉

4. Household duties: laundry, keeping the kitchen clean (which is very easy when cooking for ONE person this time of year), and going through the mail.

Although, some of these ways of keeping myself busy during harvest may not be glamorous or fun to the average lady, this is what I do. I am so thankful for the crops my husband and his family grow each year. They take pride in what they do and I am so proud! This time of year is so beautiful and they have a birds-eye-view of the beautiful South Dakota nature.

 

Umm…Who doesn’t love ‘Just Because’ flowers?!

Have you ever had one of those days or weeks where you or your other half could use that something to lift their spirits just a bit? Jordan and I have had those days lately. Whether it’s related to work, family, or daily life we could use a little extra something, something in our life!

Well, let me tell you, Jordan ALWAYS knows how to put a smile on my face. As I was about to leave work today, in walks a lovely lady delivering that little extra something, something I was needing in my life this week!

I know when I’m smiling ear to ear, he is too! Thanks for always making me the luckiest lady around! 🙂

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Lily’s Floral – Aberdeen, SD

ENERGY BITES

These energy bites are my favorite with a cup of coffee in the morning! My beachbody coach, Megan posted this recipe and ever since she did, I have been OBSESSED with these tiny little balls of heaven!! Enjoy!

1 C Quick Oats
1 C all natural PB (I use Smart Balance)
2-3 scoops Vegan Chocolate Shakeology (Love to use Vanilla too!)
3 Tbsp melted Coconut Oil (optional for taste & healthy fat)
2 mashed Bananas (I’ve also used Avocados)
1-2 Tbsp Cinnamon

*Can also use PB2, but will want to add some Almond Milk too*

Remove jewelry 💍 and mix together until all dry ingredients are mixed – forming a “dough” like consistency. Should be able to form with it. If too dry (crumbly, flaky) add a splash of Almond Milk. If too sticky, add more Shakeology. Aim for ping-pong size balls – this batch makes about 2 dozen. Keep in ❄ freezer ❄ and only takes seconds before soft & chewy!

**These tiny pieces of heaven are 21 Day Fix approved! If you are wondering which colored container to put these under like I was then here you go…2 energy bites is 1 orange container and 4 energy bites is 1 red container.