Hi everybody, hope you had a nice weekend!

Ben and I laid low key the last couple of days, spending it just the two of us. Saturday we hit up the mall, Whole Foods (Ben’s first time – squee!) and a local watering hole to watch the UNI (my alma mater) vs Iowa (my team) football game. I tried to cheer for both of ’em at first, but gave up 5 minutes in. It was just too hard! First of all I felt ridiculous, second of all, although my heart belongs to UNI as a school, my loyalty as a college football fan, even when the two teams are pitted against one another, lies with the Hawkeyes.

What can I say? Love for school and athletics can be mutually exclusive, imo! :)

Anyways, the family all gathered this afternoon for a big, birthday celebration.

Finn, my sweet nephew, turned 3! :D

He dug and ripped his way through oodles of toys and, although the G.I. Joe dolls were a hit (way to go little bro,) the dinosaurs my parents got him were hands down his fave. RAAAAWR! ;)

Ugh, I cannot believe he is already THREE. On one hand he has the intelligence of a 10 year old, but on the other, I remember when he was just a teeny tiny baby. Time goes too fast. :(

Evie, my niece, continues to be beyond adorable as well.

She smiles and bats her eyelashes now, and I just want to squeeze her allthetime. (Please acknowledge her orange-painted toenails, btw. Always on top of the latest fashion trends!)

She’s in her jumping phase now, so Ben and I played pass Evie when my arms got tired. Girlfriend is a tank!

Ahh, good to be back in those big, familiar arms. ;)

Tee hee!

After play time we had a nice BBQ lunch, starring Wallace Farms Brats with caramelized onions. Oh my, these brats were so good! Much lighter than pretty much every other brat I’ve had, and really fresh tasting too. I’ll have to remember to order some next summer.

A Veggie Quinoa dish tossed with Italian dressing was light and flavorful,

while a mayo-free, egg-free Greek Potato Salad rounded out the meal. Finn can’t have eggs or dairy so he was able to gobble up the delish dish with everyone else.  Here’s the recipe (sub the oregano and rosemary for 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning.)

Finn’s birthday dessert was egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies. Wait, don’t be scared, these are AWESOME!

Perfect for Finn, who can’t get enough of ’em…

And everyone else too. They taste like Cookie Dough Balls! I had about 100!

The recipe is on my sister-in-law’s blog – My Wise Mom – and FYI, I’ve had some people email me before re: dealing with children’s food allergies, and her blog is a great resource for egg/dairy/peanut-free recipes and ideas – that actually taste good! – so be sure to check it out.

Not to be out-done, my brother whipped up a homemade Blueberry Sauce – fresh blueberries, simmered with sugar, and water for 30-45 minutes until thick and syrupy, to drizzle over our dairy-free, 1 ingredient Banana Ice Cream on the side. We all licked our bowls clean!

Happy Birthday to our sweet Finnegan! :D

Ben and I headed to the gym right from the party – our first time back since last spring. We usually take the summer off to run/exercise outdoors, but the days are getting shorter and cooler, and it was about time to get the first visit over with!

We hopped on a couple of treadmills and while he did his thang, I did mine. A (much too tough) 30 Minute 3-2-1 – 1-2-3 Treadmill Routine:

I’m not sure why, but running faster and further on the trail is so much easier than running 3 miles on that blasted rotating belt! Huh?

Anyways, this routine was 3 minutes at 6.0, 2 minutes at 6.3, and 1 minute at 6.5, then 1 minute at 6.0, 2 minutes at 6.3, and 3 minutes at 6.5 – and repeat. Although it was much tougher than I expected, it went really fast. Treadmill routines with alternating speeds and inclines are where it’s at. :)

We came home, showered up, and kept it really light for dinner – Luann’s Kale Salad with Chicken

Seriously love this good – nay GREAT – for you salad!

Antioxidant packed kale speckled with apples, dried cherries, and chopped peanuts (no red onions this time since I was splitting it with Ben) topped with an olive oil-brushed, garlic salt & pepper sprinkled sauteed chicken breast. Satisfying and feel good food, for sure. :)

Whelp, here’s the the end of the weekend! Do you have a busy week ahead? Mine should actually be pretty manageable, which I’m really excited about. It’s the little things. :)

Talk to you tomorrow!