Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What We're Reading

Hey friends  I have lots of fun books and blog posts to share with you today.  I hope you find something new to read and love this month.

I've also been doing a lot of googling lately and reading up on things like 2 year old molars, easing the pain of 2 year old molars, 2 year old sleep regression, researching things about kindergarten and working on doing some party planning for Fletcher.  Notice a theme... sleep.  Or more accurately LACK of sleep.  We're all tired over here so I'm just doing my best to function on very little sleep.  Do you have any two year old teething tips for me??

Back to the fun stuff.. reading!  I've got lots of good things to tell you about.

I loved Jennifer's reminder that There's Magic in the Mundane

I mentioned this book So Much to Celebrate by Katie Jacobs.  It's such a beautiful, inspiring book for anyone that enjoys entertaining and cooking.  You can read more about it here.

Why Are Kids Impatient, Bored, Friendless and Entitled? from Victoria Prooday got me thinking about kids today and parenting in general.

Brittany's love for thank you notes is obvious.  I loved her reasoning behind writing them, the value she puts on them and that she is teaching her boys to write them.  A girl after my own heart!  Check out her thoughts on Thankfulness

Andrea from Momfessional's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are delicious!  Her recipes never disappoint.  I cut the recipe in half and added in some M&Ms.  My whole family loved them!

I enjoyed reading Mix & Match Mama's post on Quality Time.  She's got four young kids so I consider her super qualified to give parenting advice.  The comments also had a ton of great suggestions for spending quality time with your kids.

Julie shared her mom's recipe for The Best Chicken Stir Fry and it sounds so good.  I can't wait to give it a try for dinner soon.

3 Words to Reframe "How Was Your Day?" from PBS is a good way to start conversations with your kids.  We usually discuss the highlight and hard moments in our day at dinner each night.

Carolina Charm posted the recipe for this cocktail Blueberry Thyme Vodka Smash and it sounds amazing.  I think I'd swap out the sprite for lemonade since I don't like carbonated drinks, but I can't wait to give it at try.

My kids are loving these Easter books & these library books right now.  Fletcher has mastered Pete the Cat's shoe songs and is learning colors in the process.  We have several Pete The Cat books, but Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes is the best.  Olive adores all the bunny themed books this month.  Bunny Roo, I Love You is so sweet and Hop! Hop! is another fabulous book from the wonderful Leslie Patricelli

I'm currently reading Jesus Always: Embracing JOY in His Presence by Sarah Young and really enjoying it.  It's a quick read that reminds you of the Joy found only in Jesus and I'm always thankful when I make time make this a part of my morning routine.

Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning the Never Ending Battle with Stuff.  I posted a review of this book last week and wanted to give an update.  It really is an amazing, INSPIRING book.  I have been so motivated to declutter my house.  I dropped off 12 bags to Goodwill, have thrown out at least 10 bags of garbage and have two piles set aside to take to resale shops.  I have a long way to go to declutter everything in my house, but I'm ready to tackle the project.  If you struggle to declutter, struggle to stay motivated to declutter or need some help on where to start... this book is for you!!  It's a GREAT read to help you get rid of STUFF.

I'm joining Stephanie of Wife Mommy Me for her monthly reading link up today.  Head over to her blog to see our answers to her fun reading Q&A.

What are you reading this month??

It's time to link up with my favorite Welcome Wednesday Ladies!
Join us with a current post and find some new friends.

 PS Some affiliate links included.  Thanks for reading & supporting Polka-Dotty Place!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Celebrating Easter with Little Kids

Are you ready for Easter??  It's coming right up on April 1st this year.  We have fun plans in the works for a bunny brunch, egg hunts and I'm working on making our Easter menu. We don't travel for Easter and look forward to having a holiday at home.

I've picked up almost everything for my kid's Easter baskets and wanted to share them with you in case you were looking for some Easter basket ideas.  I try to get them an item of clothing for Spring, new pair of shoes, favorite Easter candy, a couple of Easter items and a fun toy.  I am still on the hunt for water shoes for Fletcher and some sunglasses.  Almost all of these items are new and were recently purchased.  I'll list them out for you and tell you where to find them.  

Olive's Easter Basket: (would be great for any 4-6 year old)

Bendy bunny, Peep bunny rings = Meijer
White mary janes = Walmart $4.97
Bunny mason jar, hopping bunny, tic tac toe = Dollar Tree
mermaid sequin bracelets, capsule animals & candy = Walmart
Butterfly dress = Target

This Cat & Jack dress is so cute!  It comes in short and long sleeve.  I just love the print, the price $9.99!! and am a sucker for anything olive green.
Click on the picture below to see all the details.

I was tempted to buy it in the long sleeve style, too.  It's just $12.99.
Click on the picture to see all the details.

Fletcher's Easter Basket: (Would be great for any boy 2-4 years old)

Firetruck - TJ Maxx
Polo - thrifted
velcro shoes - Meijer
Construction book set - Scholastic book o
Bendy bunny, Peep bunny rings = Meijer
Bunny mason jar & hopping chick = Dollar Tree
Capsule animals & candy = Walmart

Both kids are also getting kites in their Easter baskets.  I found the cutest ones on amazon.  They're solid colors, have great reviews and are really affordable.  I ordered a yellow one for Fletcher and a pink one for Olive.   There are six different color options.  Can't wait for some kite flying weather.

It's no secret that I love celebrating holidays with my family.  I am so excited to get to share the book So Much to Celebrate: Entertaining the Ones You Love the Whole Year Through by Katie Jacobs with you today.  It is the prettiest cookbook I've seen in a long time.  Each page is gorgeous.  Every recipe has a picture to go with it.  The table settings, party themes and photos throughout the book are magical.  They're inspiring and Jacobs words are so encouraging.  Her message of entertaining all year long is so sweet.  She writes personal stories mixed in with her recipes and hosting tips.  The pages of the book drip with Southern charm and you'll flip through the book dreaming of hosting your next gathering.  The recipes all look delicious and don't seem complicated.  It's books like these that make me want to forget about Pinterest and rely on beautiful books to inspire my party planning.  The book is organized into seasons and is filled with ideas for hosting for each time of year.  The built in book mark makes it easy to hold your place and reference recipes.  I highly recommend adding this book to your personal library if you love to cook, love to host and love to celebrate the big and little moments in life.
*This book was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review of it.

We'll also be enjoying some Reese's Puffs bunnies.  They're just as amazing as they sound.  Along with reading age appropriate books to teach our kids about the real story of Easter.  We are really enjoying both of these books.

 PS Affiliate links included.  Thanks for reading & supporting Polka-Dotty Place!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Irish Weekending

We had the best time celebrating St. Patrick's Day this year!  Kevin was on Spring Break so he planned a little road trip up to Notre Dame to visit.  The last time we were on campus was for a football game when I was pregnant with Fletcher.  We were all looking forward to our trip so close to St. Pats Day.

As with any trip there were plenty of highs and lows.  Good times and times I'm happy to forget.  We cleaned up throw up, dealt with meltdowns, fingers got smashed in doors, skinned knees and the kids struggled to fall asleep in the hotel.  We also managed to have a ton of fun doing new stuff.  Just know that any time I post pictures from our trips, there are plenty of behind the scene moments that were not all smiles and photo ops.

On to the highlights of our trip:

We stayed at Varsity Clubs of America in Mishawaka, IN.  It was so much fun!  There was Notre Dame stuff everywhere.  I'd imagine this place would be so much fun to stay at for a game day weekend in the Fall.  Although it's much cheaper to stay here in the off season.  They had yummy free snacks for guests, tons of amenities and my kids were a big fan of the giant hot tub.  It was also really close to lots of great things.  We'd definitely stay here again.

Restaurants Recommendations:
We usually get take out pizza for a pizza picnic in our hotel when we travel.  The hotel staff highly recommended Mimmo's Pizza and it was delicious.

Our whole family LOVES Mexican food so we were excited to give Salsa's Mexican Grill a try.  It was amazing!!  They had this delicious ranch dip that I'm still dreaming about.  We all licked our plates.

Kevin picked up a Groupon for a local breakfast place that was just okay and for Ritters frozen custard.  It was so good!  It's also right by the hotel.  Kevin's deal saving tip for when we travel is always check out local groupons near your hotel.  See if there's any good deals for places with good reviews and buy them.  He also would give Evil Czech Brewery a big thumbs up.  He said their beer and popcorn were delicious.  We ran out of time to eat there, but it is a family friendly restaurant.

We headed to the campus bookstore first.  Olive was cracking us up this trip.  She knows Kevin went to college here so she said, I bet everyone is going to be so excited to see you here again!  Haha  Kevin had to explain that he didn't really know any students here anymore.  It was also Spring Break here so campus was really quiet.

We never have trouble shopping in the campus bookstore.  It was fun to be there on a week day instead of a game day.  We basically had the place to ourselves.  Game days are NUTS so that was a nice treat.

We visited the new bookstore/Starbucks location, too.  Something for everyone :)

We headed out on our walking tour of campus.  It was much warmer than we were expecting, but still chilly.  The kids did great and were happy to be along for the ride.

Fletcher mastered a couple of new phrases... Golden Dome and Notre Dame while we were here.

Touchdown Jesus & Touchdown Olive

We walked out to Kevin's old dorm.  We were looking around he asked a student to let us in to use the restrooms.  The student called him SIR and made him feel extra old :)

Cute little leprechauns were excited to play in the snow that was on the ground.

We look forward to coming up for game day weekends when the kids get older.  For now, we'll enjoy road trips to visit during the year and playing on campus with the kids.

Hope you had a great weekend, too!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Coffee Date Confessions

I wish I could get together with all of you for coffee some morning.  If we were meeting for coffee, this would be the list of things to talk to you about.  Lots of random things, some questions and some confessions.  I'd meet you at my favorite local coffee spot.  I would probably order a skinny vanilla latte and a blueberry muffin. Let's chat.

I'm also signing off for the week!  We're heading out on a St Patrick's Day road trip for the next couple days to enjoy Kevin's spring break.   I'll be back here on Monday!  You can follow our adventures over on instagram @polkadottyplace

Coffee Questions:
1. Have you ever ordered shutters?  I'm in the market for some for our house and am in totally unfamiliar territory!!

2. Do you have any motion sickness remedies for kids??  BOTH of my kids have been getting carsick so easily lately.  Our car is stocked with a barf bucket, cleaning supplies and I think I should probably add in extra clothes.  Yuck.

3. All things Easter: What the thing you're most excited to put in your kid's Easter baskets?  What do you put inside the Easter eggs you hide for your kids?

Coffee Confessions:
1. I have never been tempted to buy any of the Rae Dunn stuff, until I saw her Easter line.  It's still not really my style, but the Easter stuff is pretty cute.  Are you a fan?

2. I always laugh when people say... let me be real or announce something they post is real life.  Does this mean their other stuff is fake??  I get what they're saying, but it just makes me laugh to hear this distinction.

3. I was checking out at the grocery store a couple weeks ago and this woman did a total double take when she walked by me.  She fumbled over her words, grabbed my arm and said, "Honey!  I thought you were Heather Tom from The Young and The Restless.  You look just like her."  She was bummed to know I didn't watch the show and encouraged me to go home investigate.  Made me laugh.

4. My kids turn into wild animals when we facetime.  They'll be quiet and calm before I make a call.  Then once a family member shows up on the screen they go nuts.  Someone usually ends up getting head butted, someone usually cries and everyone is LOUD.  Drives me crazy.

5. I've been looking for rocking chairs.  I'd love to have a pair for our deck.  I've also seen rocking chair benches.  Does this make me an old grandma??

6. My husband surprised me with an air fryer for Valentine's Day.  He was super excited about it, but I'm at a loss of what to do with it.  He thought it would be a fun kitchen appliance and I'm not convinced we needed it.  I kind of hurt his feelings with my lack of enthusiasm.  I apologized and we've kind of moved on.  We have made french fries and green beans that were all good.  Do you have any air fryer recipes to recommend??

It's time to link up with my favorite Welcome Wednesday Ladies!
Be sure to join us with a current post and meet some new blog friends.

Meet Your Hosts! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Family Chores & Must Have Cleaning Products

I love a clean house.

I love to organize.

My ideal house is clean and organized.

But, I have two kids, two cats and a husband who make messes.

We ALL have to work together to make it happen.

Everyone has chores and everyone is expected to help around the house.

Here's our chore break down:

anything in the kitchen or cooking related
My laundry + kid laundry
overall supervising of cleaning, organizing & purging

outside house work
his laundry
his stuff

Olive (almost 5):
dirty clothes in basket
collect all kid laundry and put it in washer
tidy up her own toys throughout the day
set the table
put her dishes in the sink after a snack or a meal
refill water bottle section of the fridge
refill cat food bowls
help me dust
empty bathroom trash cans
hang up her coat, backpack and put away shoes

Fletcher (almost 2):
dirty diapers in trash can
unload silverware and cups from dishwasher
tidy up his own toys throughout the day
his shoes in his shoe basket
put snack bowls and cups in the sink when he's done

I don't have a set cleaning calendar, but I do try to do a couple of cleaning tasks in addition to my daily cleaning to enure that I don't have to spend large chunks of any day cleaning.  I'm currently on the hunt for a new favorite shampoo and carpet cleaner so send all the suggestions my way!

I'm excited to share my favorite/can't live without products with you today!!  It's a random mix of cleaning products that you can ALWAYS find in my home.

1. Do you ever struggle with CLUTTER??  I just finished a GREAT book on the subject.  I was so motivated to declutter after I read White's plan.  Everyone should read this book and then start working on getting rid of the clutter!!

Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff By Danan K White. I'm an organized person and am working on ducluttering my own home.  I learned so much from this book.  Her idea that your home is a container and we've got to make our things fit comfortably inside of it was a game changer for me.  In the past I had always looked for organizers or bins that would help me organize my stuff.  Now I'm reevaluating my home, closets and shelves to see how I can declutter and work with the space I have.  White helped me to see that I don't need more organizers or more bins, I just need less stuff.  Her advice is so practical and easy for anyone to relate to.  She addresses so many areas that people struggle to organize - kitchens, clothes, toys, closets, crafts, etc.  She is also quick to tell you personal stories of her own clutter and how she worked through messy situations in her home.  It's great to hear that her home isn't perfect.  I appreciated White sharing her life lessons and decluttering lessons she's learned along the way.  You will be highly motivated to get busy and declutter after reading this book.  I'd highly recommend it to anyone that has the desire to have less stuff in their homes.
*This book was gifted to me from BookLook in exchange for an honest review of it.

2. Shark Rocket Ultra Light Upright Stick Vacuum
We've had this for a couple of years and I use it almost every day.  It's great on carpet and wood floors.  It's got a ton of attachments and great reviews.  It works really well for pet hair, kid messes and everything in between.

3. Clorox Wipes
They're great for everything - bathrooms, cars, kid messes, kitchen counters.  I always have some in my cabinet for cleaning.  I keep the pouches of them in my backpack and then these containers at home and in my car.

4. Lemi Shine Dish Detergent Booster
We have really hard water and this stuff is MAGIC.  It ensures that your glasses and dishes come out of the dishwasher sparkling!  You use it with dish detergent and it is a game changer.  My dishes used to all look cloudy or gross, but now they sparkle.  I can't believe the difference it makes in my dishes.

5. Shout Laundry Stain Remover Spray
This stuff is magic.  It'll take stains out of a white couch, stains out of your clothes and it smells great!  It's an amazing stain remover for tough stains.  Remember when I told you that Fletcher colored all over my in law's white couch with pink highlighter??  This is the stuff that got it all out.  It's a LIFESAVER.

6. ALL Free & Clear Detergent for Sensitive Skin
I love the way this detergent smells and your clothes will come out so clean.  It's light and airy.  It's the only detergent we use.

7. Clear Care Cleaning & Disinfecting Solution
Where are all of my contact wearers??  This solution is AMAZING.  It cuts down on eye infections and keeps your contacts extra clean.  It was recommended to me years ago by my optometrist and I've been using it for over 5 years.  You have to let your contacts sit for at least 6 hours in it so make sure to plan accordingly.

8. Pampers Sensitive Wipes
It's been my experience that you just can't cut corners on wipes.  The generic ones aren't as good.  They're not as wet or as durable as the name brands.  These Pampers Sensitive Wipes are our favorites.  I've cleaned babies, tables, interiors of cars, wipes out diaper bags, scraped knees and a million other things with them.  They're the best!

9. Sensodyne
This toothpaste has been a game changer for me.  I was having some tooth pain and a dentist suggest that I switch to this.  I haven't looked back since.  I use it at least twice a day and I miss it immediately if I forget to pack it for a trip.  I've tried generic versions and they aren't as good.

10. Fresh Step Multi Cat Kitty Litter
This stuff is great!  It works really well and I love having it delivered to my house.  That way I'm not lugging it all around the grocery store.

What's your cleaning routine??
Please tell me your must have cleaning products!!

PS Affiliate links included.  Thanks for reading & supporting Polka-Dotty Place!

Linking up with Erin for her 10on the 10th monthly link up

Monday, March 12, 2018

St Patrick's Day Fun

Hope you had a great weekend!!  I'm so excited for a St Patrick's Day filled week of rainbow/clover goodness.  Kevin is on Spring Break so we're going to have some fun.

I wanted to share some St Patrick's Day inspiration with you today in the hopes that you'll find something you'd love to do with your family or friends.

I found this cute leprechaun t-shirt, hand towels, sticker mustaches and Unicorn Lucky Charms at Meijer.  I love their holiday shirts for kids.  They're $6 regular price and always go on sale for around $4.  My kids are going to think these mustaches are hilarious.  Our guest bathroom is Notre Dame themed so these hand towels are going to be perfect in there.  The unicorn Lucky Charms are going to be a BIG HIT.  My kids love them normally and the addition of unicorn marshmallows will just be icing on the cake.

Rainbow Feet:
You can find all of my directions here Golden Memories

Rainbow Lunch:
My kids LOVE eating Skinny Pop popcorn

Rainbow Cupcakes:
All the directions are here Make Your Own Rainbows

Rainbow Jello:
Yes, it's time consuming to make, but it is SO GOOD!  I'm not even a big jello fan and this is something I look forward to every year.  You can find my recipe and directions here

Irish Stew:
I am planning to make this for my family again this year.  I'll do some brown bread with it or maybe some Irish Soda Bread that my husband loves.  You can find the Irish Stew Recipe here

Rainbow Fruit Tray:

Rainbow Brownies:

Baby Clover Art:
Perfect for tiny hands and feet.  You can find all the details here

Andes Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies:
You can find my recipe here

Hope you found something fun you'd like to try this week!!