Guest Post: Hip, Happening and Healthy Easter Baskets

By Emma Banks from the blogSmile As It Happens

I love the start of spring, and one of my favorite springtime occasions is Easter. To me, Easter is a time to get together with family and celebrate. With young kids, I am always trying to find new ways to make holidays fun while also keeping them healthy. This year, I thought it would be great to mix it up a bit, and put together Easter baskets that are totally unique and include much healthier options. I know the adults in the family, many of whom are fitness lovers and health fanatics, will really appreciate my ideas for keeping Easter healthy, while still making sure that it’s a lot of fun.

Bouquet of Fruit

We always have a lot of flowers at our Easter celebrations, and they are definitely a great way to ring in the spring. Instead of giving everyone traditional Easter baskets, I thought it would be really cute to give every guest their own bouquet – but made entirely out of fruit. There are a lot of different ways to create a bouquet of fruit, but this recipe really helped me get my bearings.

The colors of the different fruits are beautiful, and help channel the start of spring. Plus, cutting the fruit into different shapes like hearts and flowers will surely make everyone smile. You can even go a step further by making the fruit into bunny or chick shapes to really get into the Easter spirit. These fruit bouquets will be a sweet snack for Easter, and are sure to brighten the day.

Bunny Hop Hydration and Health Basket

Even though I don’t get to the gym as much as I used to, or as much as I’d like, I still find myself running around all the time, juggling my kids and everything that comes along with them. You don’t have to be a workout guru to need hydration and energy, and everyone can benefit from some healthy snacks and supplies. This type of basket will channel the fitness lover and busy parent alike, as a way to target their health and energy while they’re doing their daily bunny hop. In this basket I will include a water bottle (brightly colored for spring and stainless steel for sustainability), dried fruit and nuts instead of candy, granola bars and green tea. If you’re looking for more items, try adding a yoga mat to the basket. It’s a great tool not just for yoga, but for anyone trying to add a little stretching when and where they can.

Green Smoothie Starter Kit

I recently started making green smoothies after a family member suggested it, and I’m hooked. They are a delicious way to get a lot of necessary nutrients, and drinking one a day has definitely contributed to my overall health and energy level. Given how health-conscious my family is, I thought they would love to get green smoothie starter kits for their Easter baskets this year. I will load each basket up with lots of goodies, like kale, spinach, bananas, mangos and mixed berries. The bright colors will definitely fit in with the spring theme, and you can even add things like carrots and nuts to mix it up – channel your inner bunny. There are tons of tips and recipe options available online for green smoothies. This one from the blog 100 Days is my favorite! And if your guests are anything like my family, they’ll love this healthier alternative.

Keep it Fun for the Kids

While these ideas are perfect for the fitness-loving adult, a child may not be as thrilled to find a basket full of fruit on Easter morning. I don’t want to give my kids nothing but junk, but I do want to keep the baskets fun for them. Keeping that in mind, I tried to make the baskets themselves a little more exciting than usual, buying a few different kinds with their names on them from Personal Creations this year. To fill them, I tried to focus on more of a craft theme, stuffing them with new crayons, markers and paper supplies. Finally, I’m not trying to completely take away the fun of finding sweet goodies in your basket on Easter, so I included a jumbo-sized candy bar in each.

These ideas have been a huge hit for my family in the past, and I hope you find something you enjoy as well!

Thank you Emma for your creative Easter basket ideas! Such a fun way to enjoy a holiday in a new, healthy light!

If you are a reader of my blog, or have a blog of your own and are interested in writing a Guest post, please email me at :)

A Quick Trip North

York Beach, Maine. My home away from home.


 Daily Grind Cafe for our morning coffee.


Breakfast in my beach chair


Greek yogurt with blueberries, sliced banana and almonds


cooler full of fruit, baby carrots,cukes, almonds, low salt turkey, provolone cheese, organic blue corn chips and water

INN on the Blues for dinner


Sauvignon Blanc, seared tuna steak with steamed veggies


Fun-O-Rama for games


Salt Water Taffy getting stretched in the window of The Goldenrod


moose tracks frozen yogurt AND black raspberry chocolate chip frozen yogurt.

I couldn’t decide between the two flavors, so the only way to solve the problem was to order bothSmile.

Robert’s Maine Grill and Market.


grilled pesto salmon with grilled vegetables and mango salsa.


A Taste of Maine, all beers that were available on draft.

So cool!

Sweet Josie’s Candy Store, stalking up on chocolate covered EVERYTHING.


pretzels, various nuts, malt balls, and my favorite…gummy bears!

Chocolate covered gummy bears = amazing.

If you have yet to try them, please do!

The Goldenrod for breakfast, a must when in York


scrambled egg whites, dry wheat toast with peanut butter on the side, and a bowl of fresh blueberries.

Pit stop on the way home, The Kittery Outlets!

Yankee Candle <3

My obsession was at an all time high as soon as we walked in


I’d say 50 new sampler votives should last me a while Smile


A fresh scented end to a relaxing weekend away.

Satur-Date {Legal Harborside}

If you live in, or are visiting the Boston area, and looking for a place with great food, gorgeous views, and a lounge for after dinner drinks, then Legal Harborside is the place to go.


Located along Liberty Wharf, this 3 story venue has it all.

You’ll find a nod to our heritage on the first floor hull, with a casual menu of seafood favorites with a twist, an oyster bar and an old-fashioned fish market. The second floor dining room offers cuisine prepared with sensible creativity for celebratory eating and private dining events. And those that visit the third floor promenade deck will enjoy a four-season rooftop lounge with a retractable glass roof and walls for cocktails and bites.”

Last night, Matt and I, along with two of our friends, dined at the bar on the first floor before heading upstairs to the rooftop lounge


Sauvignon Blanc, and my friend Beth’s Sangria, which is one of Legal’s best drinks.


Ready to eat Shrimp Cocktail in an adorable mason jar.


Seasonal salad: Romaine, Goat cheese, sliced strawberries and almonds in a light vinaigrette.


wood grilled salmon, sautéed spinach with pine nuts, jasmine rice

We also ordered Bon Bon’s for dessert, but ate them too quickly to snap a picture.

You’ve seen these chocolate covered ice cream balls before on my table during the holidays.


SO good!

After dinner, we headed upstairs for a few more drinks. I switched to my usual Vodka soda, and enjoyed the scenic view of the harbor and city lights.


It was too crowded to get a good picture, so here is one from their website.

Definitely visit Legal Harborside if you are looking for a fun night out.

This morning was off to a slow start, but I managed to get myself to the gym and fit in a workout.

Arc Trainer: 40 minutes

  • 1-5: Level 8, incline 10
  • 5-10: Level 10, incline 20
  • 10-15: Level 12, incline 30
  • 15-20: Level 15, incline 50
  • 20-25: Level 12, incline 30
  • 25-30: Level 10, incline 20
  • 30-35: Level 8, incline 10
  • 35-40: Level 6, incline 5

3 sets, 12 reps.

  • Push ups
  • Chest Flies
  • V-Flies

3 sets, 12 reps

  • Lat pull down
  • Row
  • Superman


I came home craving a protein smoothie, so I whipped out my Magic Bullet and got blending!


  • 1 scoop chocolate Sunwarrior Protein
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 T ground flax
  • Water and Ice

Well, I’m off to spend the day with my favorite, beautiful moms



Have a great rest of your weekend!

Happy Mother’s Day! xoxo

Aruba part IV {scenery and love}

Ok, this is the last of the Aruba pics!

I promise to return to my originally scheduled blogging Smile.

I saved the best for last in terms of breathtaking scenery, romantic sunsets, and very curious lizards…iguanas? whatever


Matt even took the time to become a foster parent to one of them.


If these pictures had sound, you would hear me screaming/swearing while he fed Iggy a piece of bread with a knife.


Luckily Matt’s son was gone before a beautiful beach wedding took place on Saturday night

320 321

Love my zoom lens Smile.

This was taken from our room’s balcony on the 17th floor, and the sunset was beyond gorgeous.


There is nothing more beautiful than an opal evening sky.


And a girl’s favorite place to shop Winking smile


But it can’t beat spending a relaxing vacation surrounded by the people you love the most.


I am truly blessed.

Aruba part III {playtime}

Travel tip for toddlers…


Bring playdough on the plane. It works like a charm


And always eat ice cream when the sun is the hottest.


Isn’t that cool?

A rainbow halo appears around the sun when temperature gets really hot.


Hit up happy hour every.


Matt representing Boston by singing “Sweet Caroline”,


Me with my Venezuelan friends, learning to shake my hips


And enjoy your ice cream while you get ready for the nightSmile


Coconut ice cream topped with orange sherbet.


Heading out on the Kukoo Kunukoo Pub Crawl!


This party bus is a must-do when you visit Aruba. It takes vacationers from various hotels to 3 (we did 4) bars throughout the island, where you receive a free shot upon entrance.

Oh yes, it’s classy


Bar # 1


Bar #2


Matt performing the YMCA on the bar. This is why I love him


Bar #3


And ending the night at Senor Frogs, which is located right in town, across from the hotels. 


The morning after..


What’s a vacation without letting loose a little? 


or a lot.

Aruba part II {the food}

Knowing that we would be dining out at night and snacking during the day, my father decided to do “All Inclusive” breakfast only, which worked out perfectly.

The buffet was stocked with an abundance of super fruits, an omelet station, waffles, smoked salmon, and every other breakfast staple imaginable.


Every morning I ordered scrambled eggs with spinach, and built a bowl of fresh fruit with cottage cheese and walnuts


We often ate lunch on the beach, where food always tastes ten times better

Grilled chicken salad


Tuna steak burger.


Along with some mid-day drinks under the sun

citron vodka, soda water, lemon




Our first night in Aruba was spent at Smokey Joes, which is known for their ribs and delicious burgers


I chose grilled Mahi-Mahi atop a tropical salad with sliced almonds. I also ate some of Matt’s ribs, which were smothered in a unique bbq sauce.

Still keeping it casual on Wednesday night, my family and I ventured off to La Vista, an all you can eat buffet inside the Marriot Hotel.

At $54.00 per person, you will definitely eat your money’s worth of perfectly prepared meats, pastas, vegetables, sushi and desserts. .



Definitely try it out the next time you visit.

After dinner, we caught the end of the Bruins game at Champions, and then walked the beach to help our overly stuffed selves digest.


Thursday night was spent at Madame Janette, where both the décor and cuisine were colorful and exotic.


Chilean Sea bass with mixed garden salad


On Friday night, Matt and I, as well as my brother and sister-n-law, ate a quick dinner in our hotel before heading out on the Kukoo Kunukoo Pub crawl.

(pictures of that on the next post)

We chose Blossoms, a Japanese and Chinese eatery that offered both Hibachi and table dining. Since we were short on time, we chose to sit in a beautifully decorated room surrounded by the Great Wall of China.

. 424

Being from Boston, we have our share of fantastic Asian restaurants, so we weren’t too impressed with the food presented to us.


The portions were too small, and it seemed very commercial instead of freshly prepared.

I wouldn’t go again.

My favorite meal of the trip was eaten on Saturday night at Chalet Swiss.


crab cakes




garden salad


almond crusted Grouper. AMAZING!


Matt’s Filet Mignon


It is one the best restaurants on the island

On Sunday, we ate at an Italian restaurant called Sole Mare


For apps: polenta, pappardelle pasta with Italian mushrooms in a creamy tomato sauce, broccoli rabe, caprese salad, and minestrone soup.


For my main course (as if this wasn’t enough food already) I got grilled salmon with grilled vegetables


My sister-n-law’s chose a combination of assorted
grilled fish, shrimp, squid and mussels, which was delicious as well.


Matt however, chose the best meal of all..

Spaghetti Formaggio Parmigiano


That my friends, is a wheel of parmesan cheese that is lit on fire with whiskey at your table, and mixed with cooked spaghetti.


Dessert time!

warm brownie sundae, and cool cream puffs served with ice cream and chocolate sauce.


Even while away, Sunday’s are still all about food.

For our last night Aruba, we had planned on having a casual dinner at a place called The Mediterranean. However, once we arrived, we learned that it had closed for good.

Searching for a plan B, we chose the restaurant Gianni’s.

The one thing that I disliked about this place was their unwillingness to change anything about the menu. With my 1-1/2 year old niece, and my mother who has food allergies, this made ordering a bit more complicated.




This restaurant had a lot of potential, but the atmosphere was far better than both the service and food combined.

My brother and I both chose the salmon, but were brought grouper instead. My mother said that her linguine with garlic and oil was rather dry, and my father’s bolognese was way too salty. Not to mention our waiter who disappeared multiple times throughout the night.

Luckily, the night ended with a shot of Lemoncello and a cup of coconut Gelato.


The perfect way to end our vacation.

My pants definitely feel a bit tighter, but every bite was worth it.

next up..the fun photos and beautiful scenic shots.

Aruba {part 1}

My family and I had an unbelievable time on our vacation.This was my third time visiting Aruba, and having my family there with me made it my favorite trip yet.

It felt great to leave the laptop and iPhone behind, allowing myself to become completely engulfed by the beauty of this tropical island. I laid on the beach, sipped mojitos at happy hour, ate at some delicious restaurants, and got to see two beautiful beach weddings at sunset.

I returned home relaxed, rejuvenated and ready for the summer ahead.

With so many pictures to share, I will be breaking them up into separate posts, starting with the hotel and a few beach shots.


The Westin


Honey Dew Infused water in the lobby


Matt and I’s Room


complimentary red wine


Our balcony view


view from my bed every morning


Gym. used ONCE


I focused on fitting in squats, push ups and some abs throughout the week. We did a lot of walking, so I counted that as my cardio.

Sometimes “vacation”  means giving your body a rest too.

Tambu bar


The Pool


Corn hole


Our Hut on the Beach


Matt and my Dad


Oh, how I miss it already.

Up next…the food.