Mom Things, Travel

Olbrich Botanical Gardens – Madison, WI

June, the beginning of summer in the mid-west and it is always a busy month in our household. It’s usually the last week of school, followed by the beginning of pool season, backyard play times, neighborly hangouts and the one big event I still help plan, Olbrich Garden’s Rhapsody in Bloom! This fundraiser is important since it helps keep the gardens fee for the public to enjoy. Yes, Olbrich is amazing + gorgeous + free!


What is Olbrich Gardens?! It is a botanical garden that sprawls 16 acres with an array of paths and stone trails to stroll. It is host to the only Thai Pavilion in North America, which was a gift to the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the Thai Government and the Thai Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association. UW-Madison has one of the largest Thai student populations of any U.S. college or university. Olbrich is continuously voted #1 on Trip Advisor for being the #1 attraction in Madison, WI. It overlooks beautiful Lake Monona + is directly across from the new Olbrich Bier Garten.


Olbrich has brought me peace and happiness on some of my hardest days. It is home to some of my favorite memories of my family; from picnics on the great lawn to the train show + blooming butterflies, Olbrich has been my place to go from reflection to celebration. Over the past 10 years, I have really gotten to know this place and the people that make it so beautiful. It really does take a village to maintain this luscious space, and they work extra hard in June to make sure the gardens are in tip-top shape for this grand reveal of the Rhapsody in Bloom. This event is held anually and is the PEAK of the garden blooming. Breathtaking is probably the most accurate word used to describe its beauty.

This year’s event was held on June 16 (the hottest day of the year so far in WI) and the theme was Ebb & Flow.ย  It was a water / nautical twist that incorporated mermaids through out the gardens, motorboat races, steel drums, games, themed cocktails & amazing catering from the delicious and well-known Underground Food Collective. The presentation of the food was gorgeous; from the taste to display, Underground nailed it.

While I did not confirm nut-free options for food allergies since my daughter was not attending (its adults only), we did not have nuts in any of the main dishes. There were many gluten free options as well, making this event + catering “allergy friendly” and easy for many to enjoy.

I’m so grateful for Olbrich and this hidden gem we have here in Madison. If you haven’t visited Olbrich yet, put it on your list. Even in winter, the Conservatory is open and helps with those winter blues! What a wonderful event – I’m excited to see what next year’s theme will be!



Rhubarb Compote & Overnight Oats

Today is so exciting! The summer slimdown 2018 food challenge starts and I’m already off to a great start thanks to food prepping in advance.

This morning consisted of drinking 16oz water and taking vitamin C and probiotic. Then I made my usual CCN mango mint lime smoothie (from 2 food challenges ago) and had my morning cup of coffee, sans sugar and dairy.

The picture above is my morning snack. easy.

Rhubarb Compote

  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups cherries (I used strawberries)
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil
  3. Add your ingredients to the pan and mix around to combine
  4. Bake for 20 minutes until all is soft
  5. Cool
  6. Store in Tupperware in fridge until use

So for the overnight oats, I just used a Mason jar, 1/2 cup Quaker oats (nut free) and added 1/2 cup coconut milk with 1/2 cup rhubarb compote. Delish. Sweet. Filling. So good! And I’m good until lunch.

I’ love a good food challenge, I love being part of something bigger, I love learning about new recipes and the chemistry that happens with our bodies in the way in which we are eating. I love learning and CCN is a great teacher. Mostly, I love being connected to all of these amazing people trying to live a healthy (mind and body) lifestyle. amazing!!!

Have a great Monday!!!๐Ÿ˜


Healthy Pancakes

Sounds like an oxymoron, right? As we were shopping this week, we stumbled upon these pancakes, which are made in a peanut/tree nut free facility. They also offer gluten free pancake mixes.

Hodgson Mill Buttermilk Multi Grain Pancake Mix is worth it! The kids cleared their plates and didn’t grumble about Mom’s “Healthy pancakes” hahaha. These pancakes contain:

  • Stone ground whole wheat four
  • oat bran
  • whole grain yellow corn meal
  • flax seed
  • buttermilk
  • cane sugar
  • baking soda
  • salt

We made the first batch, then used this recipe to thicken it up:

  • 3/4 cup pancake mix
  • Use 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

With the extra baking powder, they rose up and looked more like a regular pancake, rather than a flat pancake like our first batch.




Mom Things, School Safe List, Snacking, Travel

Nut Free Mom Box


The wait is OVER! Nut Free Mom Box is available now. This is personal. From me to you.

Let me help you reduce the stress for your next family vacation, trip to Disney, Grandma + Grandpa’s house. Wherever you are going, let me help take that “extra snack packing” element off your shoulders. There is already so much to do before traveling, the allergy kit doesn’t have to be something you worry about.

The Nut Free Mom Box is 100% customizable. The pre-packaged box includes the items shown on my etsy shop, but we can make it fit you and your family perfectly.

My daughter has severe nut allergies, and I know first hand the extra steps and anxiety that comes along with traveling to even short distances. You always have to be prepared for the “what if they don’t have a safe snack or meal” – Nut Free Mom Box has you covered.

Order a Nut Free Mom Box

Mom Things, Weeknight Dinners

2 Week Summer Slimdown Challenge

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know how much I love Cara Clark Nutrition’s healthy eating plans. Occasionally, I get into a cooking / healthy eating rut. Lazy, I don’t want to plan my own menu or search for new recipes. I also need a gentle reminder to keep my body moving every single day.

scenic view of beach
Photo by Pixabay on

Cara Clark’s plan fits my lifestyle so well. There are no games, counting, or crazy diets to follow. This is all real food – stuff you normally get at your local grocery store with some guided work outs and easy to make healthy snacks. The part that I love the most is the team of people I get to work with to help me stay on track with eating well and staying active ala Facebook groups and Instagram.

This summer, I’m full time with my two kids (and their friends, of course!) and they won’t necessarily keep me thinking about quinoa for dinner and smoothies for breakfast, this is why I joined the Summer Slimdown with Cara.

vegetarian juice on table
Photo by on

For me, this plan is 100% worth it. I see results each time, and every time I do a challenge with her (this is my 3rd one), I take away something new + gain a ton of new recipes. Summer Slimdown 2018 includes :

  1. meals-at-a-glance menu
  2. daily menu plans
  3. extra smoothie recipes
  4. weekly recipes
  5. complete pre-printed grocery lists.
  6. workout options (no gym needed)
  7. step-by-step guidance

It takes effort though, MEAL PREP! If you don’t meal prep, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and “behind” in your healthy life stlye. No pressure ๐Ÿ™‚

I can already tell you my favorite items coming up that I WILL be blogging about since I’ll need to make some nut free substitutions.

bowl of vegetable salad and fruits
Photo by Trang Doan on
  • Cherry Rhubarb overnight oats
  • Summer Lovin Crunch Salad with jicama
  • Blackbean Tahini Dip with Sunbutter

I’m so pumped about this challenge!!! The recipes are amazing, she also includes healthy adult beverage options, and antioxidant flavored fruit water recipes (perfect for a day outside with friends + kiddos).

If you think this sounds cool – and want to join me, you still have time! The two-week summer slimdown starts on June 11. That’s next Monday. So click on over to her website and join with me. Sometimes her instagram has discount codes so check that first, caraclarknutrition.

Have a great day, and enjoy my peonies ๐Ÿ™‚