Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Good Reads: Several Must Own Books

I haven't done a good reads post since October which means I have a lot to catch you all up on!  Plenty of good books to recommend to you.

Let's start with BOOKS for Adults:

Make Something Good Today
By Erin & Ben Napier
I love the show HomeTown with Erin and Ben Napier.  It's set in a small town in Mississippi.  The show is so charming.  Every episode makes me miss living in the South.  I love their style on a budget and that they have built a creative team of their friends and neighbors in Laurel, MS.  I just knew I'd love their memoir.  I was right.  It is full of pictures, handwritten notes, stories and inspiration that will leave you wanting to make something beautiful.

Erin & Ben's life stories are very interesting, but their love story is the most compelling part of the book.  They are such a sweet couple.  They both take turns writing back and forth throughout the whole book.  They give lots of behind the scenes glimpses of their real life outside of the show and insider tips of what it's really like to film their show.  Their marriage is filled with tender moments, sweet traditions and the way they have built their business is admirable.  They are the kind of down to earth couple that you'd love to be best friends with.  They are new parents and their business is booming.  I'd highly recommend this book for some creative inspiration for anything you're interested in doing or for a sweet love story.

It's Not Supposed to Be This Way:
Finding unexpected strength when disappointments leave you shattered
By Lysa Terkeurst
I've read several of Lysa Terkeurst's books over the years so I am always curious when a new one comes out.  I was especially intrigued by this one because if you follow Lysa's life much you know that she has gone through a ton of hard things recently - healthy, family, marriage and more.  I hated to see her going through all that suffering.  As you read the pages of It's Not Supposed to Be This Way you'll feel all the emotions she felt during this hard season.  She wrote this book as she was navigating her own personal storms.  You can feel that raw, unfiltered vibe throughout the whole book.  You know that she knows what it's like to really struggle and she still finds a way to encourage others in the midst of it.

The book is written in a way that would be perfect for a Bible Study or small group.  There are statements to cling to, scripture to reference, reflection questions and prayers at the end of each chapter.  I would have enjoyed discussing this book with a group of women.  I'd highly recommend this book to anyone that has gone through hard times or is currently in the middle of them.  Lysa would be a good friend to all of them.

Illustrated Faith Bible Book Tabs
from Amazon
I am really excited about this set of Bible book tabs.  I think they're adorable, add some cute color to my Bible and my real excitement comes from the hope that they'll make my Bible more readable.  It took me about 30 minutes to put them on my Bible and they seem really durable.  They're a pretty reminder on my desk every day to open up my Bible.  I have always been a little embarrassed about not knowing exactly where every single book of the Bible is located and now I have no excuse.  Just use these cute tabs and get busy reading!  We're studying the book of Judges at church and I'm hoping to get into a good routine with my daily quiet time.

BOOKS for Kids:
I've been trying to read more adult books, but the truth is, I spend a ton of time reading children's books to my kids.  They love to sit and read.  We try to do official book club every day where the three of us each pick out a couple of books and then we read them together.  Olive has started asking to read a little so that's a fun development.  She's also memorized most of our board books so she will sit down with Fletcher and retell the stories she's heard so many times.  They both love it.

Super Pooper and Whizz Kid Potty Power!
By Eunice Moyle and Sabrina Moyle
I was skeptical about this book being an effective potty training aide, but I was WRONG.  My son (and fully potty trained daughter) LOVE it.  It's funny, clever and the illustrations are wonderful.  It's a really cute book with tons of potty references and explanations.  It is perfect for boys AND girls.  It shows both genders and addresses things for both kids unlike many potty training books.  The book addresses everything from bathroom routines, hand washing, accidents and big kid underwear.  You finish the book feeling like a potty superhero to your family when you've successfully gone to the bathroom.  It's really sweet and one I think we'll add to our home library since we are in the trenches of potty training.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
By Eric Litwin
Pete the Cat first won our heart with Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes.  His lyrics are so catchy that everyone will be singing along.  He teaches colors in the white shoes book and then we're working on simple counting and subtraction in the four groovy buttons book.  It's great to read aloud and will make you love Pete the Cat even more than you already do. 

Fancy Nancy
By Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser
My five year old daughter loves Fancy Nancy.  She loves her french words, the new vocabulary she teaches and how everything Fancy Nancy touches turns fancy.  The illustrations are so detailed and over the top fancy.  Nancy has great ideas and big feelings.  Her stories are really relatable to the 5-7 year old girl audience.  They fun, funny and easy to read.  Good thing there are tons of them!

A Sick Day for Amos McGee
By Philip C Stead
I picked this book up in a Scholastic book order and saved it for a sick day.  It's such a sweet story about friendship and caring for others.  It's a Caldecott award winning book so it is no surprise that the illustrations are really charming.  There's tons to talk about on each page and each character has a personality of its own.  We have read this one again and again.

What are you reading right now??
I'd love to hear about it.

**This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through those links, Polka-Dotty Place will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.  Thanks so much for supporting my blog!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Breakfast on a Board

I was looking for a fun, family friendly breakfast to whip up in a hurry and this breakfast board was perfect!!  The whole family enjoyed it and it came together really quick.

You can customize it to include anything you have in your pantry/fridge.  I just used a little bit of everything my family enjoys for this board.

I baked a box of Blueberry Muffins from Krusteaz.  I almost always bake mini muffins because they bake so much faster than regular muffins.

While those were baking, I assembled the rest of the board.

Fresh berries and fruit (peeled and ready to eat)
Dry cereal
Breakfast bars & granola bars cut into bite size pieces

We all washed our hands because we started eating.  We didn't use any plates.  Everyone just grabbed one thing at a time that they wanted to eat and enjoyed this breakfast board.  I'd highly recommend doing this for your family or friends.

Wouldn't it be fun to put this together for house guests?  Slumber party breakfasts?  Or a fun weekend breakfast with your family?

The menu options are endless.

In the future, I'd love to include:
powdered donuts
strips of bacon
seasonal fruit
cinnamon rolls
french toast sticks
and so much more!!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Thinking Ahead: Prepare Now for Later

I have some fun tips to share with you guys today to save you time, money and stress down the road.  I've been keeping a running list of things to share with you of all the little things I do that add up and help me prepare for the future.

It's no secret that I love to celebrate all holidays.  I love baking, decorating, holiday books, gifts and holiday clothes.  I try hard to do all these things on without breaking the bank.

1. When you find a great deal, snatch it up even if you won't use it for months.

This lot of bottle brush Christmas trees came up for sale on my local mom's group page for $6!!!  I couldn't type SOLD fast enough.  What an amazing deal.  Can't wait to decorate my Christmas mantel with them next December.  I bought them in January and promptly put them away with my Christmas decorations in storage.

2. Stock up right after the holiday in the clearance section.  

This strategy seems to work great for all holidays except for Christmas.  I've noticed that many stores like Target and Meijer start making down their Christmas stuff days before Christmas.  All other holidays seem to get marked down the days after the holiday.  For example, Meijer marks everything half off the day after a holiday and then it'll go down as low as 90% off.  So keep your eyes peeled!!

This year I picked up valentine's day books for half off.  The books usually go first so I try to buy them right away.  Other things like hand towels, baking products, gift wrap and such usually hang around longer so I pick them up when the discount is greater.

All of these cute Thanksgiving activities for kids were marked down to a quarter well after Thanksgiving at Walmart.  I bought a class set of placemats, bingo boards and banner for around $2.  I'll save them for Olive's class Thanksgiving party for 1st grade.

2. Kid Clothes Bargains
I picked up some cute St Patrick's Day shirts for the kids at Meijer recently.  I love their holiday shirts.  They're usually priced in the $5-7 range.  I bought these weeks in advance in January when there was a special promotion for an extra 10% off General Merchandise coupon on the Meijer app.  Such a good deal!  The kids are going to be thrilled!!

I also try to grab clothes on clearance to save for the next year.  I love having a stash of clothes from thrift shops, consignment shops or big sales to start out the new season for my kids.  Both Olive and Fletcher have always grown at least one size from year to year.  Neither kid has worn the same size for more than one year which means a whole new wardrobe from one summer to the next.  I've had good luck getting deals at Old Navy, Target and Kohls.  I also like Once Upon a Child or nice Goodwill stores for kid clothes.

5. Frequently Shop TJ Maxx
I LOVE TJ Maxx.  It's one of my very favorite stores to stroll through.  You just never know what you might find.  You've got to grab things when you see them because the stuff in the store turns over so quickly.  You can always return items that you don't love once you get them home.  I recently found these really heavy metal bunnies for just $6.99 back in January.  They're such nice quality and feel really high end.  I couldn't believe the price tag so I bought all three.  Can't wait to add them to my Easter decor in April.

This advice works well for stores like Homegoods, Marshalls, TJ Maxx or Goodwill.  Each time you visit the stores you will find a different assortment.  I love finding out when the stores get their trucks of new stuff.  Tuesdays seem to be a popular restocking day in my area.

 6. Shop with Gift Giving in Mind
I love to shop for others.  I love giving gifts for holidays, birthdays and just for sweet surprises.  I don't love to spend a ton on these gifts though.  My solution is to keep a close eye on clearance sections to build up my gift stash for down the road.  Here's a sneak peek of my haul from St Patrick's Day clearance from 2018.  I stocked up on St Pats hand towels, light up clover necklaces, stickers and napkins.  All were majorly discounted.  I'll give Olive's teacher and bus driver a fun new towel with some cookies for St Pat's Day and then we'll use the light up necklaces at the St Pats parade this year.

A really important component of being able to shop now for later is that you MUST HAVE a system to organize your purchases.  If you're just tucking things away here and there, you'll easily lose track of what you have an overspend.  Keep bins of holiday items or a shelf in your holiday closet for extras.  Any system will work - just find one that works for you!

Here's what I do:
My after holiday clearance items stay in a shopping bag and then I place that bag on the top of that bin.  When I open the bin the following year the new items are the first thing I see.

I've organized my kid's closets so that they've got sections of hanging things to grow into or drawers with clothes in them for the next size up.

My gifts to give others are organized on shelves that are easy to see- toys for kid birthday parties, teacher/friend gifts, a shelf for each of my kids, etc.

What do you do NOW to PREPARE for later??

Friday, February 15, 2019

Valentine Highlights

Happy Friday!  We've had a really fun week celebrating Valentine's Day and doing lots of things to love others.  Olive has a four day weekend so you better believe we are all pumped to do our favorite things around town with our favorite girl.  She's so funny and asked to go to her favorite spots - the library for new books, the museum, the bouncin place and see some friends.  Done!  Sounds great to me.

The best parts of our Valentine's Day week were:

Kevin requested chocolate dipped pretzel sticks for his students since he was teaching on Valentine's Day.  They're his favorite treat.  It's become a bit of a tradition for me to send them to work this him this time of year.  I made extras so I could share them with the teachers, police men and administrators at Olive's school.  They turned out really cute!

Handsome Valentines :)

I shared lots of delicious recipes this week!  I've been super motivated to make healthy meals and try new things lately.  You can find all the recipes here:
Healthy Nachos & Homemade Guac

Naan Flatbread Pizzas

 We have had a ton of fun playing with these emoji masks.

Olive loves holidays just as much as I do.  This heart dress was on repeat all week long.

Fletcher learned all about hearts (real and the heart shape) at his science class this week.  

 Olive had two fun events at her school this week.  It's always a treat to see her in her element.

 We made a lot of treats to share this week.  Cupcakes cheers to that!

We had some surprise snow on Sunday morning.  The kids were so excited to play after church!

I was tempted to buy some flowers for myself this week, but I resisted.  I tend to buy house plants more often than fresh flowers because they last longer.  I couldn't believe these tulip bouquets were only $4.89 at Aldi.

Olive worked on her valentines for her classmates.  She LOVED writing out their names.  I was nervous that it would take forever, but it was a lot of fun to assemble them.  Kevin was thinking we should have picked a candy treat to give out.  Olive was sure that a unicorn eraser and scratch art was the way to go.  Turns out she was right.  The kindergartners LOVED them.

We've been doing Hello Fresh regularly.  It's definitely a highlight.  This jalapeno popper burgers were AMAZING.  I love that you can customize the recipes to your spicy tolerances.  My husband really likes spicy things and I just can't handle much spice.  I make the same recipe for both of us and then he adds double the spice to his dish.  SO GOOD!

I was writing out valentines for our family.  Olive took note and headed to her room to make her own valentines for us.  Big kids are so fun!

Are your kids into Beanie Boos??  Mine LOVE them.

Valentine's Day party at school!  It involved a chocolate fountain, passing out valentines, valentine art and everyone had a blast.  I'm super thankful that I can go in for stuff like this.  I love being her room mom and making fun things happen for her friends.  She told me that she's really hoping to get held back at the end of the year because kindergarten is WONDERFUL :)

 Hope you have a great weekend!!

It's time to link up with my favorite blogging buddies for High Five for Friday.  Join us with up to 3 different blog posts and be sure to look around to find some new blog friends.

Becky @  By BMG Blog
Della @ Della Devoted
Tif @ Bright on a Budget
Whitney P @ Come Home for Comfort

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Love Day!!

Happy Valentine's Day!  Or Love Day as Daniel Tiger says :)

I hope you have some fun plans to celebrate with family and friends that you love today.

Today seems to be a bit polarizing.  Some people love Valentine's Day and others seem to ignore it.  I've always loved celebrating holidays so I am fully on board with letting the people I love know it today (and always!).  We have Bible study this morning and then I'm headed to Olive's school for her Valentine's Day party.  We're getting a heart shaped pizza for dinner and having a Valentine dessert board for dessert tonight.  It should be tons of fun!

I thought I'd share things we are LOVING LATELY

We are LOVING:
1. The TV shows Manifest, The Titan Games, Home Town and Grey's Anatomy.
2. Grocery shopping at Aldi
3. Charcuterie Board dinners
4. Dreaming of heading to Florida this summer
5. Salt & Vinegar chips
6. Hello Fresh meal delivery service
7. Everyone sleeping in their own beds again
8. Bath time and showers at night
9. Trying lots of new recipes
10. Board games!!
11. 2 hour delays for school.
12. Burgers

I'm LOVING these things about my family:

-makes me feel like the prettiest girl in the world.
-that he knows I love to host a good party so he asked me to help plan food for a work event.
-surprised me with a new computer after years of wanting a new one!
-reads to Olive every night when he puts her to bed
-he loves my cooking

-loves doing art
-is eager to help
-she loves kindergarten more than I could have even imagined
-can't wait to learn new things - reading, games, tennis, etc
-loves flowers, polka-dots, dresses and tiny toys

-gives great compliments
-loves to be snuggled
-has very similar taste in food as me so we love all the same things
-loves to do big boy things
-he's all boy and loves all types of transportation

What are you loving lately??

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Naan Flatbread Pizzas

I am a huge fan of the packages of Naan flatbreads at Aldi.  It is so good and so affordable at around $3.  They goes on sale regularly or get marked down when they near their expiration date, it comes in regular size and in mini size and my whole family enjoys them.  I'm sure all grocery stores carry some version of this so be on the lookout for it at your favorite stores.

Recently I made Naan Pizzas for dinner.  Remember how I told you've I have been trying lots of new recipes!?!  This is another great one.  It couldn't have been easier to add the toppings to the pizza.  We really enjoy pizza.  I picked up all of our favorite toppings and put it on the menu.

Drizzle mini naan breads with olive oil and salt and pepper
Bake at 350 for 5 minutes to warm up.
Remove from oven and add toppings.
Bake for another 10-12 minutes until the cheese is melted and browned to your liking.

Toppings we liked:
olive oil
salt and pepper
Ragu pizza sauce
1 pkg Aldi Naan mini breads
Mozzerella cheese
turkey pepperoni
turkey sausage

I made 4 different pizzas.
Cheese, pepperoni, supreme and Pesto.  They were all delicious.

You can buy the full size Naan breads.  They are about double the size of the mini ones.  They work just the same.  We just cut them up into 4 or six pieces.  I prefer the size of the mini Naan flat breads, but would happily use either size.

 A local pizza place called Azzip Pizza makes the yummiest pesto bread sticks.  I spread pesto on each flatbread, topped them with cheese and then cut the flat breads into strips.  They were yummy!

Can't go wrong with cheese or pepperoni.

Baked & perfectly browned.

 I cut each mini Naan flatbread in half and we ate them up!  We ended up with some leftovers.  I'm happy to report that they reheated wonderfully the next day.

Wouldn't these be fun to make with kids?  At a birthday party or a sleep over??  Having friends over for dinner - these would be great!  The hardest part (the crust) is done for you and you just get to add on the fun part (the toppings!)

How would you top your mini Naan pizzas?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Last MInute Valentine's Day Treats

Valentine's Day is almost here!!  You've still got a day or so to prep for a fun treat for your family, friends, coworkers or students.  Today I'm doing a little round of up Valentine's Day treats that you could easily pull together in a day.  Hope you find something you are excited about!

1. Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
These cookies are so much fun and so easy to make.  You just need 3 ingredients - a roll of peanut butter cookie dough (in the refrigerated cookie dough section), mini Reese's pb cups and red sprinkles.  Use a cookie scoop or small spoon to scoop out even amounts of cookie dough.  Roll them into a ball.  Roll that ball in sprinkles. Bake in a mini muffin pan for about 10 minutes.  While the cookies are baking, unwrap the Reese's cups.  Remove from the oven and place a Reese's cup into each cookie ball.  Let them melt and eat!  These are a big hit anytime I take them somewhere.

2. Valentine's Day Funfetti
Pick up a box of Pillsbury Funfetti from the store (plus eggs, oil and water) and frosting and you're set!  I made these with my kids this weekend and they loved it.  I love to do a box cake mix with homemade buttercream.  Here's my recipe for icing if you want to go that route.

3. Mixed Berry Personal Pies
You can find my recipe and instructions here: Mixed Berry Personal Pies

4. Dark Chocolate Bites
I love these!  I made them for my neighbors when we lived in Mississippi.  They loved them!  You can find my recipe and instructions here

5. Brownie Cookies
These cookies are so good!!  You can find my recipe here

6. Valentine Dessert Board
I posted all the details last week and will be making this again for my family.  They loved it!

What desserts will you be enjoying this week??