Friday, August 28, 2015

The Best Parts

It was a lovely week in the Midwest this week.  The weather was in the 70s almost every single day and it really makes me ready for Fall.  I'm loving these nice, in between days and trying to get out and about as much as possible.  The best parts of our week...

1. PUMPKINS - Wal-mart got their fall decorations out and I just loved these tiny pumpkins.  They were $0.98 each and there were so many different ones.  I picked my six favorite and am eager to get out the rest of my fall decorations.  Have you started decorating yet?  I'm thinking I'll wait until September and then get started.

2. I've been eating strawberry shortcake for dessert this week and it's so good!  My MIL made us some for dessert and then I just had to come home and make some for us.  They were both really tasty.

3. I threw a woodland creature shower for a friend last weekend and it turned out GREAT!!  The decorations were so cute and I loved all the fun patterns.  We had a breakfast buffet for guests and the food was so good.  Stay tuned for more details on the shower next week.
My sister and my mom helped me throw a lovely shower.
 My high school friends gathered to celebrate baby Simmons :)

4.We had a great day at the park.  Olive is far too brave for her own good.  She quickly bypassed the little playground and set her sights on the BIG kid playground.  She had a blast until it was time to go.  She threw a fit, we drove home and then she hugged me and said "Thank you park" when we got home.  So I'm going to forget the tantrum and focus on the sweet thank you I got when we arrived at home.  Toddlers are funny little people!

5.  We had a quick visit home to see family and friends last weekend.  It was a busy time, but it was so nice to see everyone.  Olive wanted to see with Mimi & Papaw when we went out for pizza.
 We had a fun lunch date with cousins :)
The fountain was almost as much fun as the delicious Mexican food.

Any fun plans for your weekend?  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Learning to be Thankful

We are starting to do little things with Olive to teach her to be thankful.  She's just two, but she is starting to get the hang of it.  We include things we are thankful for in our prayers and we just got the book Thankful by Eileen Spinelli.  I'll start by sharing something I'm thankful for and ask her if she's thankful for anything.  She's included our neighbor, mama, dada, our cats, her bunny and pizza in her list.  All very true for her favorite things these days.

I was familiar with Ms. Spinelli from my days in the classroom and was excited to be gifted this book to review for my family.  I really loved her book Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch as well as many books by her husband Jerry.  

Thankful by Eileen Spinelli is a darling book.  The story is so sweet and relatable.  It talks to every day people and documents the things they are thankful for.  The story really gets you thinking about the things around you and how we all have a lot to be thankful for.  I love the sweet illustrations and the simple text.  It would be an easy book for beginning readers to try to read independently.  My two year old loves the book and I think it'll be a great book to read with her for years to come.  It's the perfect book to teach kids about being thankful and to kick off the Thanksgiving season.

We made a Thankful Tree last year to celebrate the Thanksgiving season and I'm looking forward to incorporating this book into our holiday traditions.

Faves

I have some favorites to share with you today.  All of these items came from small shops that all sell amazing items.  You've got to check them out!!

My favorite travel bag is from Coralee.
I won it from a contest another sweet blogger was hosting for this bag.  The shop owner, Courtney, is from Mississippi and was so sweet!  She was quick to get my order placed and shipped to me.  She also included a sweet thank you with my bag.  My weekender bag came monogrammed and I've already used it for several weekend trips.  It is the perfect size, is sturdy and holds so much for a medium sized bag.  The ikat print is so pretty and the navy monogram looks great.  I also love that the bag has short handles along with a shoulder strap.  I have a feeling this bag will be my go to travel bag for a long time.  Check out Coralee's shop at shopcoralee.com

Custom state stamp (any state). Rubber return address stamp. Perfect for weddings or as a housewarming gift. 2" x 1.5" with a wooden handle.
Indiana Return Address Stamp
I always look forward to buying a new address stamp when we move to a new place.  Lately, that's been a new one a year for the last three years.  I'm thrilled to have found Paper Street Press.  They are an etsy shop located in Indiana and they make the cutest stamps.  They are top quality, great detail and so nice to work with.  They're fast to send a proof and make sure to get the stamp just right.  It arrived quickly and I'm looking forward to shopping at Paper Street Press again.  Check out their shop to see the prettiest invitations, stamps and prints.

Woodland Baby Shower Invite with Forest Animals 5x7 JPG
Woodland Baby Shower Invitation
I just hosted a woodland creature baby shower and these invitations were darling!  The shop owner is great to work with, makes changes quickly and the finished product is perfect.  She emails you the invitation and the quality is great.  I printed them on my own and was so impressed.  I'm saving this shop and keeping it in mind for any future events I plan.

My in-laws cat was eager to help me try out my next beauty products.  I had been wanting to try the elf blush pallet and blush brush.  The pallet was $6 and the brush was $3.  I love 3/4 of the blush options and they look really pretty on.  I am avoiding the bottom right option due to the visible sparkles.  I'm not really interested in sparkly blush.  So I'd highly recommend this elf combo!  I also got the Sally Hanssen Diamond Shine clear coat, but haven't used it enough to give it a fair review.  Stay tuned on that one :)

Uveez Unbreakable sunglasses for toddlers
100% UV protection
Olive has worn these all summer long and they really are indestructible.  They are cute, don't pinch and are really light weight.  It took her a little while to get used to them, but she loves wearing them in the car to keep the sun out of her eyes.  We found her for $8 at Toys R Us and they came in tons of different colors.  Definitely worth the money.

What are your favorite small shops or faves you like to share with me?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

August Recipe Club

It's nice not to be living out of boxes and be settled in our new house so I can cook regularly.  I have been making a lot of meals for my family and enjoying lots of grilling options.  I have several new recipes I'd like to try for Fall - new soups, appetizers and lots of pumpkin recipes.

Our favorite August recipes:
// 1 //
GRILLED CHICKEN SALADS/WRAPS/PASTA
I marinate the chicken with BBQ sauce, Italian Salad dressing or seasoning and my husband grills it.  We end up with enough meat for several meals and only have to grill once.
 BIG SALADS:
cucumbers, eggs, noodles, sweet peppers, carrots, snap peas, broccoli, 
cauliflower, cheese, bacon bits and mixed greens.
 We usually do a lite honey mustard dressing or vinaigrette.

WRAPS:
Grilled chicken, lettuce, sliced swiss cheese and honey mustard
on a whole wheat tortilla was a delicious lunch

PASTA:
We ate pasta, grilled chicken and marinara sauce for lunch one day
and it was delicious!  I made the pasta in advance, the chicken was already cooked so it was a super easy lunch to whip up.

 // 2 //
QUESADILLAS
shredded chicken, sharp cheddar cheese with all the fixings
I do the chicken in the crockpot, shred and season it with taco seasoning.
We have a TON of meals from one batch of crock pot chicken.
We also had taco bowls with chicken.

// 3 //
FRIED TURKEY SAUSAGE
green beans, new potatoes & onions
and cornbread
was an easy comfort food dinner

I wrote about our favorite toddler meals yesterday
and I'd love to know what you fix for your kids :)

We also made some yummy cupcakes this week

Linking up with Momfessionals

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday Talk: Toddler Meals

Being a toddler chef is a fun and frustrating job.
You think you've found things they'll eat and love one day and they hate them the next.  My little one announces I DON'T WIKE IT when she's not a fan of the meal I've prepared.  We are working on finding consistent favorites while still trying a variety of food.  It's tricky and frustrating some days and fun other days.  I thought I'd share some kid meal ideas with you today and maybe you have a few new ones to share with me.  Olive and I would appreciate the variety :)

ICE CUBE TRAY MEALS
Olive gets so excited when I put her meals together like this.  The little compartments, the variety of food and the fun presentation really does get her excited to eat.  She will almost always eat more when I present her lunch this way.

 MINI MUFFINS
I bake a batch for the week and we eat it for breakfast for several days.
& Bran Muffins are favorites

SHARING SALADS 
I often make BIG salads for lunch and then we share.
Olive tends to eat more this way than if she had her own plate.

SEPARATE THE INGREDIENTS:
I try hard to give Olive the same food we're having for dinner.  There are some exceptions, but I want her to learn to love a variety of things.  I've noticed that she prefers to have her food separated out so I'll usually deconstruct our meals and give them to her like this:
Instead of a grilled chicken wrap:
Toddler version of a grilled chicken salad:

Sometimes we do COLOR themed lunches:

FINDING FAVORITES:
Our go to toddler food right now:
carrots, cucumbers, nectarines, edamame, cheese and almonds
Olive will always eat these items.

I put her favorites on her plate and then include a few new things with it.




What are your favorite, kid-friendly meals served at your house?
I'd love some new ideas :)

Linking up with my favorite ladies today.
Join us with your best post from the week :)
(Starting from the upper left:)
Beth - Our Pretty Little Girls ~ Michelle - Grammie Time
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Tara - Mrs. Coach Sims ~ Lauren - Simply Free
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Becky - BYBMG ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Polka-Dotty Place

Monday, August 24, 2015

Parenting Year 1 vs. Year 2

 Parenting a tiny human is hard work.
I notice that things are changing as we are in full swing toddlerhood.
Things that were easy in year 1 are hard now and visa versa.
Tricks we had for a 1 year old do not work at 2.
Two year olds do everything BIG and feel all the emotions all the time.

(8.20.15 Grocery store run.  GIANT meltdown on the way to the store over shoes/car seat, recovered to be a lovely shopping buddy and wrapped up our errand with a second GIANT meltdown on the way home over shoes/car seat #lesigh )

Potty accident
Year 1: mortified
Year 2: extra diapers in the car and a quick outfit change

Public kiddo meltdowns
Year 1: tearful mom rushes screaming child out of earshot and hurries home
Year 2: calm-ish mom tried to rationalize/talk with screaming toddler, thing eventually pass and we continue doing what we were doing

Skipped naps
Year 1: panic - something must be wrong
Year 2: panic - I had several things I wanted to get done during nap time

Making messes in public
Year 1: mortified and left
Year 2: stop what I'm doing, clean up the millions of goldfish all over the aisle in TJ Maxx and keep shopping

Screaming in her carseat
Year 1: didn't happen a ton, but tried everything to make it stop
Year 2: currently hating on the car seat (which is ironic because she's riding in it far less than she ever has), throws super fit about her straps (which are fine) and we drive on knowing it will pass

Annoyed with all shoes options
Year 1: she didn't care about her shoes and thought they were all delicious
Year 2: she either loves or hates her shoes for the day.  She wants to wear them all day long or have nothing to do with them.  We sometimes have to wear shoes even when we don't want to #lifeishard

Helping in the kitchen
Year 1: safely watched from the Bumbo on the floor
Year 2: pulls up her own chair, we talk through recipes and she dumps an entire cup of oatmeal on the floor in attempt to add it to the mixer

Bath time:
Year 1: fun every other day activity
Year 2: everyone involved gets wet and the regularity depends on our schedule

Bed time:
Year 1: pretty set schedule & easy to get to sleep
Year 2: routine but much longer song/dance/read/cuddle time to get to sleep

Art projects:
Year 1: fun for everyone
Year 2: fun for everyone

Exiting a fun activity
Year 1: bye bye fun times
Year 2: screaming fit when asked to leave a fun activity.  We ignore the fit and talk about the fun time we had.  We assure her we will return.

Furry friends
Year 1: smiled at all furry creatures and that made us smile
Year 2: she grabs everything furry and tries to love on them.  Laying on things that will allow it and pulling whiskers are favorites.  We gently pry poor furry creature out of the grips of our loving toddler.  Smile and move on to the next thing.

Grocery shopping:
Year 1: curious about everything in the cart and wanted to touch/feel it all
Year 2: curious about everything that goes in the cart, examines it and throws it overboard.  That or she opens the box and starts eating.  Darn vanilla wafers are too tempting!

Out to eat:
Year 1: curious about the restaurant, loved playing/eating her food, and happily sat in her high chair checking out the place.
Year 2: curious about the people sitting around us, eats for 5 minutes, steals my lemonade and we request booth only seating in efforts to contain our toddler.  It's our only hope of getting to eat our meal.

I'm hoping we'll learn new tricks for parenting at each age so that we make a great parenting team.
Have you noticed changes in your parenting as the years go by?

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Highlights

This week flew by at my house.  Lots going on and a busy weekend ahead.  The weather was mostly gorgeous and temps in the 70s are making me excited for fall.  Bring on the plaid, the scarves, the cardigans, the pumpkins and the football!!

The best parts of our week were:

1. I've been wanting a pair of Nickel & Suede earrings forever.  I've mentioned them several times and decided that the color of the month - OLIVE - had to be mine.  They are perfect.  So light, so pretty and I've worn them nearly every day this week.  Do you own a pair?  I'm thinking I want a metallic pair next.

2. Kevin had his first day of school this week.  It's his first year as a professor and he's teaching three college courses.  Olive the "supah he-row" gave him a sweet send off.  We made homemade Butterfinger blizzards to celebrate.  It's our favorite dessert - half fat vanilla bean ice cream, chopped butterfinger and a splash of milk.  Voila!

3. I have been VERY impressed with the party supply section at Wal-Mart lately.  I'm hosting a baby shower tomorrow and am really loving the oval plates and all the patterned napkins.  Come back next week for a whole shower recap.  The theme is woodland creatures for a precious baby boy!

4. I just started reading One Thousand Gifts this week and am enjoying it.  Have you read it?  I've read her devotionals before, but never any of her books.  I'm hoping that I can stick with my goal to open a book and read for fun most days of the week.  Somehow it's easier to mindlessly scroll through social media instead of opening a book.  I'd like to change that!

5. Olive learned how to give a big THUMBS UP this week.  
She practices all the time and thinks it's hilarious. 
Also, Dum-Dums are her favorite thing ever.

Any fun plans for your weekend?  
We are traveling to visit family and planning to pack in a lot of fun.