5 things to take your Turkey Day to the next level

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, there are a lot of things we need to do. Whether it is cooking, creating the right place setting or finding the perfect hostess gift, Thanksgiving can be overwhelming. I have rounded out some great recipes and fun gift ideas to make your Turkey Day a little more enjoyable with your family and friends.

Beet Bruschetta with Lavender- Vanilla Honey Drizzle

IMG_0156 (1)I don’t know what says more than Thanksgiving than beets. It’s like a must right? So why not take those beets and turn them into something fun that everyone would like?! This recipe is from the Ryanne, the blogger at Pineappple Expression. Her stuff is always amazing and under 40 minutes, it is sure to be a serious crowd pleaser.

Prep and Assembly time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes Prep
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 French baguette loaf of bread
  • 1 (5.02 oz) small package of Boursin Cheese (garlic and herbs flavor is best)
  • 1 medium sized red beet
  • 1 package of fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lavender
  • 1/2 of a vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • kosher salt

Directions:

  1. First, preheat the oven to 375F.  Peel and slice the beet into 1/4 slices.  Place the slices on a roasting pan and toss with a light drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and a few sprigs of thyme.  Roast the beets for 30 minutes, but flip after 15 for a more even cook.  When the beets are done, pull from the oven and let them cool.
  2. While the beets cool, slice the bread as you would for bruschetta.  Coat lightly with olive oil and place in the oven under the broiler for a maximum of 5 minutes.  The slices should still be soft, but have a nice golden color to the tops.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the honey, lavender and vanilla bean (scrape the insides out to produce the black flecks) along with the apple cider vinegar.   I love this combo!!
  4. After the beets have cooled, chop into cubes as evenly as you can.  1/4 inch on each side.  First cut into strips, then rotate the knife as you move through.
  5. To assemble the toasts, use a butter knife to spread a layer of Boursin cheese onto each slice of bread.   Next, crumble on a small mountain of the roasted beets.  Using a spoon, drizzle a little bit of the honey mixture over the tops of each toast.  Sprinkle with some coarse kosher salt or flaky sea salt on top.   For more pizzazz, use the sprigs of thyme to garnish the plate.
  6. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Wine Bottle Labels

Whether you are bringing wine or serving it, these Thanksgiving themed labels would get a good laugh from all your guests at the table. A set of 4 is $8.89 and available on Prime. Perfect for all wine lovers. Find them here.

71WBzzsOKQL._SX522_610vxJUHUoL._SX522_

Skinny Pumpkin Bars

IMG_0920

Whether a pre-dinner snack or a dessert, these pumpkin bars are delicious.  They are not overly pumpkin and the chocolate chips are a great addition. My son devoured three in one day (he’s 20 months) and I am not going to even tell you how many I ate…..

Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened (I tried margarine. It doesn’t taste the same)
  • 2 eggs and 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 (15oz) can All Natural mashed pumpkin (I like Trader Joes and Aldi)
  • ¾ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

IMG_0900

 Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt; set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugars; mix until creamy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time; beating and scraping bowl with each addition.
  6. Add egg whites; mix until fluffy.
  7. Add applesauce and pumpkin; mix until all blended together
  8. Add dry ingredients all at once and mix until thick consistency.
  9. Add in mini chocolate chips.
  10. Evenly spread into prepared cookie sheet.
  11. Bake 23-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  12. Cool and enjoy 🙂

Thanksgiving T-shirt- Turkey, Wine and Feeling Fine

41IZF2ewFFL._SX342_

Ok, I know this technically doesn’t go on the table, but how cute is this t-shirt? And pretty accurate right? Thanksgiving is about turkey, wine and RELAXING. It is available for men and women.

It is $17.99 and available on Prime. You can find it here.

Thanksgiving Party Boxes

51OZgLQRgUL._SL500_AC_SS350_

I really like these party boxes for either your adult guests or a nice addition to your kids table. It can be filled with candy from a candy bar, leftovers or desserts to go, it is a cute way for your guests to leave with something special from the day.  For a set of 12, it is $11.04 and available on Prime. You can find them here.

However you are celebrating, I hope you have a blessed day with friends and family, because in the end, that’s all that matters.

Until next time,

Christine

Advertisements

Getting Social with Social Wine

It’s no secret that I love wine. I always have. I love trying out different kinds. Red, white and even canned wine. There has been a trend in canned wines recently and some of them are just too sweet. But I did find one that I absolutely love! It is called Social Sparking Wine. It is sake that is certified organic, gluten and sulfite free, has 1 gram of sugar, and only 88 calories. In fact, they even will go as far as saying that are the “cleanest alcohol available today”. One of my favorite parts, they are a local, Chicago company!

I have taken them on walks with Noah, drank them on Sunday Funday and even to go while we went trick or treating on Halloween. With 4 flavors for every season, they are just so good. You can find them at Mariano’s, Whole Foods and Binnys.

But I have something even better for you guys. You can now get 15% off using the code socialchristine or here.

IMG_0851IMG_0992IMG_0994

Get social with me and let me know how you like it!

xoxo

Christine

 

Helmets and Head Shapes

IMG_0143 (1)Around a year ago, my son had to wear a helmet from ages 3-6 months. Right around his 3 month check up, we started to notice that Noah’s head shape was starting to take on more of a “flat head” appearance in the back. But it wasn’t until our pediatrician suggested we see a specialist that it really sunk in for me. It was just too difficult to even imagine having him wear a helmet, but even worse, to think about what could happen in the future when he was older. It was not an easy decision. We were seeking the perfect head shape, but it was starting to become very obvious to us that it wasn’t going away. Read more at Motherhood & Family

Our Summer Must-Haves

The heat of summer is IMG_4804here and there are a few products that are must haves for us this season. Now that Noah is 17 months, we are enjoying the pool, being outside and staying up late. But I am not going to lie, one of my “mom triggers” is the sun and his sensitive skin. All moms have a few triggers like nap schedules, food, etc. The sun is mine, I will admit it. So the products below definitely work for us. Hopefully, for you too! Read more at Motherhood & Family

Toddler Meal Planning Made Easy- Little Harvest

IMG_4084.JPG

As soon as Noah started to eat solids around 6 months, my husband and I were so excited for him to try EVERYTHING. Our plan was to cook all his meals ourselves, meal prep for the week and have him it only the best, organic food. Well, fast forward to 16 months now, we haven’t been as good. Meal prep is hard for us sometimes, because like everyone, we are busy. So I did a little searching and found read more at CGL Baby.

Our “Planned” Birth Story

Our “Planned” Birth StoryIMG_0051

My son, Noah, is two years old now. He is a happy, healthy, silly little boy and that is all that matters. I love him so much, it is actually hard to describe. But to this day, I carry around what I call “MG” aka mom guilt.

I was watching TV recently and someone was giving birth and I started to cry.  This often happens when I think about my own experience with Noah. My husband actually suggested to write about it to see if other moms feel the same way. So in honor of all those moms out there and releasing some of my own MG, I thought I would share our “planned” birth story.

For the entire pregnancy, I was healthy and so was Noah. I had no problems and everything was routine.  But in 2015, two days after Christmas. I noticed a change. Noah was pretty active in the womb, but all of sudden, I felt nothing. Something just didn’t feel right. I called the doctor and I immediately went into triage. After stress testing and ultrasounds, we discovered Noah had turned into a breech position, which was limiting his movement. What was this? And why did it happen? So of course, I freaked out and spent the next upcoming weeks Googling everything (I know, it’s my weakness). The doctors reassured us not to worry because most babies eventually turn on their own. They kept saying only 3-4% of babies are breech at birth, so most will turn on their own.

Through my research, I learned that there are several types of breech positions, which means the baby is not head first in the womb. Noah was in the oblique position. His head was under my right ribs, bottom on my pelvis and feet under my left ribs.

So from 32 weeks on, my husband and I were told that he will turn on his own, everything will be fine and they will continue to monitor his position.

Come 36 weeks, he still had not turned. My doctor suggested a version, which is manually turning the baby around from the outside. This is done at the hospital as an outpatient procedure. The chances of him moving was 50%, so we decided to do one. But, it was unsuccessful and the most painful experience ever, even with an epidural. He didn’t budge, his heart rate dropped during the procedure and I was in excruciating pain. As a result, we had to schedule a c-section at 39 weeks. I was absolutely devastated. I was bruised from the inside out, heavily medicated, and could not believe I would have to have a c-section.

So many thoughts and questions ran through my head (and still do to this day). I would never experience my water breaking or going into labor. Was there something wrong with me or him? I wouldn’t be able to spend time with him immediately after his birth. Would I have to have one with future children?  I thought motherhood meant to go through labor, like a right of passage. It broke me. For the first time, I didn’t want anything planned, I wanted him to come when he was ready.

From 36 weeks on, there were several things the doctor suggested we could do naturally on our own to move his position. It completely consumed my life. We tried everything. Acupuncture at The Nest (which I highly recommend for any moms to be), music,

IMG_0024

Acupuncture at The Nest

bouncing balls, moxa sticks that burn at your feet, yoga, chiropractor, essential oils, etc. We would spend hours in Chinatown to just to find herbs and incense that might help him move. Hundreds of dollars spent, countless hours worrying and sleepless night, but no success.

At 39 weeks, I went in for the c-section at 39 weeks and it went perfect. There wasn’t anything more I would ask for. I still don’t know why this continues to weigh heavy on me, but I am working on releasing it. It shouldn’t matter how our children come into this world, but mothers and women in general always carry so much guilt. We should all try to give ourselves a little more credit.

This is a deeply personal post, but I would love to hear more about your experiences.

And as always, you can sign up for weekly blog post alerts here. Thanks for following along!

Until next time,

Christine

Taking Risks as a 30 something-year-old. Finally

My entire life has been pretty much planned out since I can remember. As a child, I laid out my clothes, packed my lunch, and even put the toothpaste on my toothbrush (crazy, I know) every school night. I knew what college I wanted to go to by Sophomore year of high school. I knew (roughly) when I was going to get engaged. I have been at the same job for ten years. And my son was a scheduled c-section (an entirely other sensitive topic in itself though). With all that being said, every event has been plotted, revised and schemed with perfection.

But now, as a 32 year old, I am finally taking some risks and it feels so good. For some time now, I have wanted to start a blog. I love food, telling stories, giving advice and most importantly, helping others. But I never had the courage to act on it. In fact, I have written this blog post twice because I kept deleting it, too afraid of what could happen. But now, I can say, I am OVER what others say.  I am a mom, wife and have a loving family and with lots of friends. All these people support me, sometimes more than I even realized. I am learning that it doesn’t matter what others say, you are living your own life day in and day out. No one else. Failures are lessons learned. And I truly believe everything and everyone in your life is for a reason. This is one lesson I wish I could go back in time and tell my 25 year old self.

It has been almost a week since I have gone public with The Chicago Good Life and I couldn’t be happier. The support I am getting is amazing and I am so excited what the future holds. I am also making some big career moves as well and there is a still a lot unknown. But that is okay and I will learn. I will continue to build confidence and take steps to being a happy me. And listen to a lot of Beyonce 😉

So thanks for following and I can’t wait to share my adventure with you! Please reach out with comments, questions, or please, any ideas you would LOVE to see here on The Chicago Good Life.

Until next time…

~xoxo~

Christine