Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Playing with Wildflowers

(Olive's collection)

PART 1: COLLECTING
Our yard is bursting with blooms right now!  Our cherry tree is all decked out, violets have sprouted and there are plenty of dandelions.  My 3 year old thinks they are all beautiful so we went wildflower picking the other day.  I got out two big bowls and we headed outside.  We each filled our bowl with anything beautiful that we found and then compared our hauls at the end.

We spent at least an hour picking and collecting.  We'd give each other sneak peeks at our flowers, but did the collecting on our own.  The only rules were that we had to stay in our own yard, you had to be able to reach your own flowers, watch out for bees and put your flowers into the bowl so we could use them inside.  



This picture accurately describes what Fletcher thinks of grass right now.
What is this spiky stuff!?!?!




 The "beautiful yellow sunflowers" were her favorites :)


PART 2: PLAYING
I collected mostly violets and Olive's collecting was more eclectic with pine cones, dandelions, cherry blossoms, violets, pine needles, etc.  First, we each laid out our collections and presented them to the other.  It was fun to hear her describe all of the fun things she discovered in the yard.

 Then, we got busy making things.  This was her bird with a pine cone beak, tail feathers and more.

We counted, sorted, lined up the rest.

Then we built a flower house together.

We really had a great time picking wildflowers together and will be sure to do it again.  The flowers were perky and lasted great for a couple of hours.  It was so much fun to examine them up close and get our hands dirty.

MORE IDEAS FOR WILDFLOWERS:
scissor practice cutting apart the flowers to create things
wildflower soup
patterns
counting
making recipes
making shapes
spelling names with wildflower letters
compare/contrast wildflowers


What activities would you do with the wildflowers??

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Kentucky Derby Party

The Kentucky Derby is coming up on May 5th and 6th and I love all the festivities surrounding it.  Olive loves horses so I think we'll have a fun, low key Derby party at home this year.  I'm sure she'll want to do some pretend horse races of her own.  I wanted to share some of my favorite Derby recipes with you today so you could get some ideas for  Derby party of your own.

CARROT CAKE CUPCAKES
I promised you this carrot cake recipe last week and here it is!  I figured since horses love carrots, it was the perfect treat to include in my Kentucky Derby post.  My whole family loved these and have been requesting I make another batch ASAP.  

Carrot Cake:
1 cup sugar
1/2 c oil
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1/2 t salt
1 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
2 cups grated carrots

Combine ingredients starting with the sugar and oil.  Add in eggs and vanilla.  Mix in dry ingredients and fold in carrots.  Bake at 325 for 18-22 minutes or until the cupcakes are set.  Let cool.  You could easily bake this mixture in bread pans, mini bundt pans or as a layer cake.  Cupcakes are just my go to since they bake so quickly.

Recipes Yields: 12 cupcakes

Icing:
Typically carrot cake is served with cream cheese frosting.  My husband doesn't care for that so I opted to make my Homemade Buttercream instead.  It was delicious on the carrot cake!



BLUSH LILY COCKTAIL
Kevin loves to make a good cocktail so it's fun to be his taste tester.  This Blush Lily was a delicious drink that would be perfect for a Derby party.  You can find all the drink details here.


DERBY PIE
How can you go wrong with a pie that includes chocolate chips and pecans??  You can't!  You can find the recipe here and I just know you'd love it!  I'm definitely planning on making one for my family for our Derby party and serving it with vanilla bean ice cream.


CHOCOLATE CHIP PECAN PIE BARS
If making a pie sounds intimidating, then these pie bars are for you!  They're really easy and delicious!  You can find my recipe here


What are your plans or traditions for Derby weekend??


It's time to link up with my favorite Tuesday Talk ladies and Momfessionals!
Be sure to join us with your best post of the week.
Crystal at Hall Around Texas | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram  
Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Becky at BYBMG | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Lindsay at Lindsay's Sweet World | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Sarah at Sarah E. Frazer | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram


Monday, April 24, 2017

April Recipe Round Up

I have so many yummy recipes to share with you today!  I did a lot of cooking this month so I hope you can find at least one new recipe to try.  We tried new things and had a delicious month.  We eat together as a family almost every night so it's fun to come up with a menu of yummy things to look forward to eating with everyone.  I think the favorite food of the month were the omelets with the quesadillas a close second.

OMELETS
I FINALLY figured out the secret for making omelets this month.  Usually I'd attempt them and then end up making scrambled eggs out of them because it didn't work.  Well, let me tell you the secret: Pour all of the ingredients into a hot skillet and let them cook.  DO NOT flip or fold your omelet until it is almost all the way cooked.  I always tried to flip it too soon.  It's got to be nearly all the way cooked before it can be flipped or turned.  You're welcome.
We each picked our favorite ingredients and had different omelets.  I did ham and sharp cheddar for mine and Kevin picked turkey sausage, onions, peppers and sharp cheddar.


 SPINACH SALAD
We've only been eating baby spinach for our salad greens this month.  It's the cheapest dark green lettuce option at Sams and it lasts way longer in my fridge than mixed greens.  I made an Easter Salad with all of my favorite Easter foods.  It was delicious with Honey Mustard Dressing.  Ken's is my favorite.


BLACK BEAN QUESADILLAS
Ingredients
black beans (drained & salted)
your favorite salsa
sharp cheddar cheese
tortilla shells
+ all the fixings (sour cream, more salsa & guac)

Load everything onto your tortilla shells and toast each side.
Super easy and Super yummy!!

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago called Black Bean Fan Club with all of my favorite black bean recipes in case you're a black bean lover like me :)

DIY FRIED RICE
2 bags of boil in a bag white rice
1 chopped onion
1 chopped carrot
1 c frozen peas
soy sauce

My family loves fried rice and this was an easy side to whip up at home.


BAKED SWEET POTATOES
I bought a bag of Sweet Potatoes at Sams and they were HUGE.  I halved them and baked them for sides this month.  I washed them, cut them in half, drizzed on olive oil, sea salt and cinnmon.  They were amazing with a sprinkle of brown sugar at the end.
 I also added craisins to a pouch of quinoa for a side and it was delish!


QUESADILLAS
I made a big batch of crock pot shredded chicken and we had quesadillas several times this month.  I just buy one bag of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and put them in a crockpot frozen for 6 or so hours.  Shred them and then add taco seasoning.  Two ingredients and it's delicious!
I add onions to Kevins, make plain cheese quesadillas for my kids and then chicken and cheese for me.  I always use sharp cheddar cheese.


CRAB CAKES
We picked up these premade crab cakes on super sale at Meijer this month.  They were tasty and it was a really easy dinner.  I'd love to learn to make my own crab cakes, but for now the premade kind were delicious.

Have you tried any new recipes lately??

Now I'm starving!!  Which recipes are you anxious to try???
I'm linking up with 2 of my favorite cooking ladies today
and we're all sharing our best recipes from the month.

Linking up with Southern Plate

Katie @ Cup of Tea
New Recipes to Try April

Whitney @ Come Home for Comfort
What We're Eating April

Head over to their blogs to see what delicious meals they are sharing this month!
 We've also started a Pinterest Board called
New Recipes We've Tried and Loved!
Be sure to check it out and get some great ideas for meals at your house.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Faves

Happy Friday!!  I hope you've had a great week.  We had a pretty good one, but I'm ready for the weekend.  My kids have colds so no one has been sleeping as well as usual.  BIG NEWS... Fletcher started WALKING this week!!  I'm in no hurry for him to grow up, but crawling around outside is hard on his little legs.   I posted a super cute video of him walking to his big sister on Instagram (@polkadottyplace) this week.  He's pretty proud of himself.  We have some friends coming over for dinner tonight and I think we are grilling.  I'm also hoping to get lots done around the house this weekend since it's supposed to rain.

Friday FAVES from the week:

// 1 //
GREEN THUMB WANT TO BE
I've been loving plants more and more the last couple of years.  I used to be notorious for killing any plant that came near me, but I am learning how to care for plants.  I'm currently admiring my neighbor's gorgeous tulips and gathering succulents for a little kitchen window garden.  I'm hoping to head to Lowes soon to check out their plant selection.


// 2 //
CHICKS!!
We made it to Rural King this week to check out the chicks!  It was so much fun to go around and see all the different varieties.  They were sold out of bunnies, but we still had a fun time eating popcorn and strolling through the store.  Fletcher was definitely more excited for his snack than for the chicks.




// 3 //
EASTER
I did a whole Hoppy Easter post earlier this week, but I had to include a few more fun moments from the weekend.  We dyed eggs and Olive did most of the dipping, we ate a nontraditional Easter meal of burgers and then I made some delicious carrot cupcakes for dessert.  Stay tuned for that recipe soon because they were AMAZING!

 


 // 4 //
POLKA-DOTTY PLACE ETSY SHOP
I just put together a large box of accessories and shipped them off for swag bags at the Bloom conference in SC.  It sounds like it's really going  to be an amazing event for moms so I'm thrilled to be included.  There are so many pretty things in my shop right now.

// 5 //
CUTE KIDS
We headed to Sams to scope out the Summer items.  I've been looking at Puddle Jumpers for Olive
and have been going back and forth on them.  I think she would do really well with one and I know I'd be happy knowing she had it on when I take both kids to the pool by myself.  Do you have one you love??  At what age did your kids start wearing them?
 Also, any day that involves soft pretzels is a good one :)

 Fletcher had his 1 year well check this week and is doing great!  He's in the 95th percentile for everything and he started walking this week.  He was so sweet at the doctors office and had tons to say to the doctor.  It's always encouraging to hear that your kids are healthy and doing well.


Polka-Dotty Place Week in Review:


I hope you have a really great weekend!!


Linking up with

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Welcome to Chattanooga

We got to visit Chattanooga, TN a couple of weeks ago and it was lovely!  Have you ever been there?

Kevin always goes to a conference in the Spring so it's fun to go along when we can.  He's sweet to invite us to come along because going to a conference alone would be quiet and relaxing.  He did all the planning and made sure to pick out a hotel where everything would be walkable for us during the days.  I packed our double stroller and the ergo so we were set for our adventures.  The 6 hour road trip was really doable and the kids smiled or slept for the majority of it.  


We stayed at the Holiday Inn downtown and it was very nice, new and clean.  The best thing about our room was that it had a divider.  Fletcher was able to sleep and nap in a separate room.  Olive doesn't nap anymore so this was so nice to have two separate spaces.  The rooms have kitchenettes and that came in very handy since we were there for a few days.

Essentials for exploring: backpack, jackets, ergo and comfy shoes for all.  We took the stroller out for bigger adventures and just walked in the mornings.

Kevin headed to campus to go to his conference.  A few of his students came down for the conference, too.  He was presenting on his research and they were doing the same.  It was fun to see him doing a job he loves so much.


ROCKET FIZZ
was one of our first stops.  It's a shop with TONS of candy, sodas, root beer and fun things to look at.  We stopped in here every day to get a little treat.


 MOON PIE SHOP
I didn't know that Chattanooga was the home of the Moon Pie so it was fun to learn more about them.  I'd never tried one so I picked up the original flavor of chocolate and a vanilla one.  The chocolate one tasted like a soft s'more and was pretty yummy.


TENNESSEE AQUARIUM
We had heard wonderful things about this aquarium so it was exciting to plan a trip.  It is pricey to get in, but I'd say it was worth it.  We did not pay for anything extra like shows or river trips and there was tons to see.  We were there for over two hours and probably could have stayed longer if the kids were older.  You can get very close to all of the exhibits and there are so many creatures to see.  I've never seen anything like this place.

 We went to The Ocean Journey first and it was lovely.  They had touch tanks where you could touch sting rays.  It's all been recently remodeled and is very nice.  They had a butterfly garden, penguins, amazing jellyfish displays and tanks that were stories tall.  It was very impressive.





The River Journey was amazing, too.  Some people told me it was better than the Ocean, but we loved the ocean more.  The otters were so fun to watch.  They are such silly creatures.  We saw turtles, alligators, river monsters, frogs and Olive insisted on touching a snake here.  TONS to see in the four levels of this building.  The place was really stroller friendly, too.

 The Aquarium is right along the Tennessee River so we went for a stroll afterwards.  It was extremely windy that day so we snacked, strolled and went on our way.


TAKE OUT
We did take out for our meals several times because it was easier.  We did Chilis to go, Five Guys and Penn Station and then had picnics in our room.  I brought along some of the kid's favorite foods so it was fun to eat and relax a bit.  Fletcher normally sits in a high chair for his meals so it was a little tricky to get him to not crawl all over the food.

CUPCAKE KITCHEN
Our hotel was right across the street from Cupcake Kitchen so I knew we had to visit.  It's a tiny place, but they do have seating inside.  I planned for us to get cupcakes to go and it worked out great.  We picked 4 different flavors and they were really tasty.  I'm dying to try to recreate the Banana Cream Pie cupcake!!




 CREATIVE DISCOVERY MUSEUM
This Children's Museum was AMAZING!  It's the most hands on, interactive museum I've ever been to.  There are so many different areas for the kids to build, explore, imagine, create and experiment.  We spent 3 hours here and didn't even get to everything.  There were things for both kids to do and enjoy and it was a pretty stroller friendly place.  It was crowded the day we were there, but we made it work.  Fun Fact: You get $2 off/ticket if you show your ticket stubs from the Aquarium.  Since I knew this fact we headed to the Aquarium first.

They had a sewing station and Olive was so eager to make something.  Fletcher was hungry and wanting held so I gave him a bottle and a snack while Olive and I designed a pillow for her dolls.  She first wanted to make a cactus like the ones on the table, but we didn't have time for that.  There were needles, thread, stuffing, fabric, etc.  I think the two of us could have spend the day in this one spot.  We brought her pillow home for her dolls and now she's asking to make more.

Build your own parachute station where the kids got to experiment with the wind tunnel.  Kids before us had made the parachutes and Olive was thrilled to launch them.  All things like this get thrown away at the end of the day and the new visitors start from scratch the next day.  Fletcher really enjoyed this station, too.  The museum has lots of volunteers that are going around helping, tidying up and managing the stations.

There were all these stations with tons of materials to create.  They had shelves of examples, tape and so many supplies.  We taped, stacked and just had fun building.  Everything was make and take if you wanted it to be.

Clay station was fun for everyone except when Fletcher popped some in his mouth!

The art exhibits were really neat.  So many things to touch and design - flower walls, stamping, braiding, tracing, painting, still life, puzzles and more.  The picture on the right was a room filled with paint chip cards and tape.  The kids could fold anything they wanted and tape it to the walls.  Some papers had messages and others didn't.  Olive loved taping things to the walls.

The theater was tons of fun.  Olive put on a puppet show and it was hilarious.  She then went for the capes and headed straight for the stage.  There were spotlights, props and backdrops the kids could change and put on a play of their own.

The Dinosaur Area was really interesting.  The dino dig sand pit was fun for the kids.  There were fossils, facts and rocks to check out.  

 There was a huge life sized King and Queen exhibit featured while we were there.  Olive knows nothing about playing chess, but loved moving the chess pieces around and climbing through the castle.  I bet this would be tons of fun for bigger kids.

We headed outside to do some more learning and the bubble station was her favorite.  The small machine centers weren't the best for younger kids.  They had a giant checkers game that she would have liked to play if it wasn't so crowded.

The doctor's office was a favorite spot.  She gave check ups, looked at xrays and we visited this spot several times.

Fletcher was happy to ride along and get out at the baby friendly exhibits.  He especially loved the music exhibits with instruments and fun interactive activities.

We'd happily go back to this place.  It was really affordable and amazing at all the things they had to offer.  We didn't make it to several of the exhibits so you could easily spend the day there.


 MELLOW MUSHROOM
We ended up with a coupon for BOGO pizza at Mellow Mushroom so we all ate dinner there the last night.  MM pizza is one of my favorites and we hadn't eaten there since we lived in Little Rock.  It was just as delicious as I'd remembered.  And we had the best dinner together.  Both kids had a great time, were really well behaved, LOVED the pizza and watching the chefs toss pizza dough in the kitchen.  It was such a fun night and the perfect way to end our trip.


Overall, Chattanooga was SO MUCH FUN!  We'd happily go back for another visit because there were several things we were hoping to get to do, but didn't have time for - the zoo, the vintage Carousel at Coolidge Park, Rock City, etc.

You should definitely head to Chattanooga, TN if you ever get the chance!!