Favorite things July 2017

I’m intrigued when people post their favorite things. In US Weekly there is a section where a celebrity shares twenty-five things you don’t know about me and I’m hooked, even if I don’t know who the celebrity is. I’m giving it a shot. I’ll limit my favorite things to five things each month.


  1. Instant Pot

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There is a lot of buzz going around about this kitchen gadget, but it’s for good reason. I wanted an Instant Pot last July but somehow missed Amazon Prime Day sales for it. It was over $100 and after seeing it for less than $80 I couldn’t justify buying it for the regular price. Black Friday, though, and sure enough it was on sale again. I snatched that puppy up and I haven’t looked back since. I use my 6 quart Instant Pot at least once a week. I’ve used it as much as four times in one day while meal prepping.


What is this amazing product? It’s an electric pressure cooker. In days of old, and many people still use the stovetop kind. I’ve never felt comfortable with the stovetop pressure cookers because of all the horror stories and videos of them blowing up. I know how susceptible I am to freak accidents so I didn’t think a stovetop pressure cooker would help my odds.
Insert this electric pressure cooker. This specific pressure cooker has five safety features to prevent any crazy blow-ups in your kitchen. If used for its intended purposes, you should never have an issue with it. There are Facebook groups ( I belong to this one) that have searchable timelines to help you find recipes, tweak recipes, and other tips and tricks.


I chose the Instant Pot over a cheaper brand because it is one, if not the only, electric pressure cooker that will cook for longer than forty-five minutes at a time. It has such high reviews and everyone seemed to prefer the Instant Pot over other brands. My thought process is, if I’m going to spend the money, then it may as well be what I want and what is highly rated.


Everything can be cooked in the Instant Pot, too. It can travel with you and you can cook in your hotel rooms. It can be your electric skillet, a rice cooker, soup maker, yogurt maker (I haven’t done this), veggie steamer, and so much more. The clincher for me was it cooks frozen meat. Talk about no excuses for not setting the meat out to thaw the night before.


I love my Instant Pot. If I had it to do over again, I’d purchase the 8-quart instead of the 6-quart. It is worth the full price, in my humble opinion. That’s it.


  1. Air Fryer

This is new to me. So new that it was a purchase from Amazon Prime Day this month. My parents got an air fryer a few years ago. I didn’t see the potential with it because I don’t eat many fried foods, like at all. Fast-forward to not sleeping at night and watching Instagram Stories in order to fall asleep. I saw people using an air fryer to cook normal foods and not adding any oil. (LilSipper is my favorite IG story to watch daily. She just started a blog which is searchable. I love all things she does for gut health.)



It piqued my interest and I started thinking how this kitchen gadget could enhance my life. I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg with what this baby can do, but I am making roasted sweet potatoes in sixteen minutes, cooking my breakfast sausage in eight minutes, I’ve toasted bread in it, I’ve roasted cauliflower, and used it as a toaster oven for my kids’ lunches. I know there is more it is capable of doing at least according to the packaging, like cooking hamburgers, for one.


First time cooking meat in it and I chose to do chicken fajitas. Used the fresh chicken drumstick recommendation for cooking time.

Purple sweet potato for breakfast. No oil.
So far I love this device and have used it mostly for my breakfasts. The downside of this is I have this and my Instant Pot on my counter. My counter space is super limited so my counter as of right now looks cluttered. I don’t like that. I think if I had more storage in my kitchen or more open counter space it wouldn’t be so bad. The Black and Decker brand here is the one I chose. Again, I wanted a brand name I knew because usually there is better customer service than a random no-name company and the warranties are usually better. Not a professional opinion, may not even be true, but that’s where my thought was.


  1. MuTu System Workout


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Going to get personal with this one. Those of you reading this who are mamas may know all too well what I’m about to discuss. Weakened pelvic floor, diastsis recti, stomach pooch, inability to do a sit up, hip pain, hips ajar, pain while walking, inability to laugh, cough, sneeze, without things coming out of your body that shouldn’t. All this gloriousness of motherhood that no one talks about, I’m about to. Are you still with me?


After my first child was born, I didn’t have much of a worry. It was seriously as if he came out and life was normal. He was only five pounds though and born at 33 weeks 3 days. Not sure I can really count that as a full-on pregnancy when it comes to the side effects.  My daughter’s pregnancy and delivery is a different story. Remember my first was only five pounds? My daughter decided to come out at eight pounds fifteen ounces. In case you’re measurement illiterate like me, that’s one ounce shy of nine freaking pounds. Almost a whole four pound difference. More poundage means bigger heads and shoulders. Let’s just say things didn’t return to normal after her. I didn’t bounce back as quickly with her as I did my little five pounder.


I went back to my OB and discussed the changes that occurred after her delivery. He sent me to physical therapy for women’s health. That’s what they call it—women’s health physical therapy. When you meet with the specialist she already knows kegels aren’t going to correct everything. Kegels don’t correct the abdominals nor the other negative side effects happening. It’s much more. After about three months of 2-3 days a week of therapy and working on the exercises at home I was able to run again and live without the side effects. It was great!


It helped me get back into feeling confident in my physical exercise, too. I was able to lift heavier, had better control of my core, and I was in the best shape I’d been in in a long time.


Then came my third. He was just shy of 10 pounds. My healing afterward was very very easy. So easy that I didn’t even feel like a normal postpartum mom other than fatigue. I attribute that to being more physically fit before conception and also exercising during the pregnancy. Something was different this time though with my recovery. I knew what it felt like to be strong and free of all the negative side effects and everything I worked so hard for was gone. In fact, it was worse. I went straight back to the OB and asked for a referral to physical therapy again. The therapy was much more intensive on my hips. I had some pretty bad hip alignment that was manually fixed 2-3 times a week this spring. I may have almost thrown up a couple of times on the table. The pelvic floor and transverse abdominal strength never improved.


I started googling and remembered my cousin sent me a link about a program nearly a year ago. It was called the MuTu System. As soon as I saw it, I remembered why I didn’t pursue it. The cost involved was a bit more than I wanted to invest. The therapy I was in at the time wasn’t working though.  I was worse than ever. One night I was lying in bed and tried to get up to go to the bathroom. I could not sit straight up in bed. That was it.  I was desperate. So I ordered it.


The core workouts are much like physical therapy movements. Very low impact, but controlled movements. I was so sore the first week and it was clear I needed to slow down my exercise and really focus on my powerhouse correctly and let the muscles heal before doing other exercises that may inhibit them from correcting. I’ve been faithfully doing the exercises daily and doing the HIIT (low imact high intensity interval training comes in on week 3) and I’m noticing a visible change in my body. I’m also consistently burning nearly the same amount of calories each HIIT session. 


This system was developed specifically for mom bodies. It doesn’t matter how far post partum you are, it is still relevant. I am excited every day to turn on the video because I know and feel and see the changes in my body.


In just three and a half weeks I can engage my core and pelvic floor and lift my body (holding my 32 pound baby) without using my arms or falling back. This was huge. I couldn’t sit up from a lying position prior to this fifteen months postpartum.


I highly recommend this program. I’m enjoying every bit of it and feel better mentally, too. Wendy’s voice is calming but encouraging and I love that she’s actually doing the workouts the whole time too.  (There are two options to purchase. I chose the 12 week program. There is a core and pelvic floor program only option. I wanted the HIIT workouts too.)



  1. EBates

    Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

I’m kicking myself for not using this any sooner. People kept telling me about it. I kept ignoring them. It’s not a joke. You shop online. You earn money back. Insane. True. I’ve already gotten a $10 gift card from WalMart and earned more than enough for a check in just a few days of using it. Plus if you’re a Mac user, (I can’t speak to PC), you can install a button thingy in Safari and it pops up if you’re shopping and tells you what percentage back that store is right now and shows you the coupons available. It applies the coupons for you, too. So no copy and pasting coupon codes. No forgetting to use ebates, it just pops up for you!


  1. My family

Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

This month my family has been experiencing a change of life. My husband retired from the Air Force (post coming in August regarding his retirement) and began working as a civilian for Ball Aerospace. He is gone three to four days a week and then the weeks he travels he’s gone at least five days a week. Sometimes he will be gone for weeks at a time. This summer I wanted to focus on my family and make them a priority. The kids have stepped up to take on more responsibilities. Dustin is sacrificing time with us to make our lives better. The kids and I have been able to travel, do fun things, and experience a lot. We are growing together and learning how to do this change of life together.


Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
Science Central
Making a wish. We overheard. He wished for a hoverboard. Sorry dude. Not getting it.
Tired fella after Daddy’s retirement ceremony.
My mom and me before Dustin’s retirement ceremony.
Before the ceremony began. Dustin’s eyes are never open in pics.


Bubble Run 2017

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hey, i’m Danielle

I love Jesus. I love my family. And I get joy from having a front row view of people growing toward their goals because of what I’ve taught.

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