Wednesday, August 21, 2019

6 Candy Topped Cookie Recipes

I have some fun cookie ideas to share with you today!

I love to bake cookies - it's probably my favorite dessert to bake and share.  I love how portable and easy they are to eat.  You can take them to any gathering and don't have to worry about plates and utensils to serve them.

A few years ago I shared My Most Famous Recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  They are my go to treat.  I always have the ingredients on hand to make them.  Most people love them and I get loads of compliments on them.  My Dad says they're the best chocolate chip cookies ever and they're requested often.

I got the idea to change up the recipe a bit and have had fun playing with it.  I figured they're a delicious cookie as is so they could only get better with the addition of candy!

I've made them a few times and every candy add in has been great!  I wanted to share them with you today in case you needed a new cookie in your life.

Mini M&Ms
I love buying the blue bag of mini M&Ms to add into Monster cookies, top brownies with or to add into chocolate chip cookies.  I always have these in my pantry.

I made the recipe above, scooped out the cookie dough and then dipped each ball of cookie dough in a bowl of mini M&Ms before baking them.  They turned out so colorful and delicious!  The M&Ms stayed put since they were added to the dough before they were baked.  

Reese's Cups:
My kids love Reese's cups so we almost always have them at home.  I wanted to use up our stash so I cut them into fourths and added them to my cookie mix.  They were delicious!  I mixed them right in during the last portion of the recipe when you'd add in the chocolate chips.  I left a few to add to the tops of the cookie dough.  They were so good!

What chocolate candies should I try and add next??

I think Reese's Pieces would be delicious addition to my chocolate chip cookies!

If you've got candy on the brain, these candy filled recipes are also delicious.  These are all recipes that I LOVE.  They're family favorites for sure at our house.  Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Snickers Peanut Butter Cookies

Monster Cookies with M&Ms

Reese's Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Fletcher's 4 Staples

If you follow me on instagram (@polkadottyplace), you know that our Saturday night did not go as planned.  Warning: these pictures of Fletcher are a little hard to see.  I've always documented the good and bad of our lives for the last 8 years so I felt like our first (and hopefully last) encounter with staples needed to be documented.

Saturday, August 17, 2019:

We booked our favorite babysitting duo and were looking forward to a date night to go to a faculty dinner with Kevin's coworkers.  I baked cookies, we got dressed up and had everything ready to go for the sitters.  The kids were thrilled to hang out with their favorite ladies and we were thrilled for a date night.  We had been gone for about 15 minutes and I get a frantic phone call from the babysitters.

They said Fletcher hit his head during a game of hide and seek and he was bleeding.  They said he was really upset and we needed to come home.  We turned right around and zoomed as quickly as we could.  We asked if it seemed like he'd need stitches and they just said he was really bleeding.  They told us later that they were going to send us a picture, but it looked to awful to send.

We walked in the door and could hear Fletcher crying.

I wasn't quite prepared for the scene we were going to walk into at home. 

One of the babysitters was covered in blood. 

Fletcher was covered in blood and his head was bloody. 

Since he has such light hair, his whole head was blood soaked and we couldn't tell how bad the cut was.  He had a giant goose egg and a big cut.  He was so upset and didn't want anyone to go near his head.  Kevin took one look at it and said we needed to go to the ER.  I wiped off his face a bit, packed up his favorite things (blanket, puppy, water bottle, shoes, change of clothes and snacks) and we left Olive home with the babysitters.  They were all kind of shell shocked.  We appreciated their quick reaction to call us and were so thankful they could stay home with Olive.  We scrapped our dinner plans and headed straight to the ER.

Fletcher had a million questions and wasn't thrilled to be heading to the hospital.  (What are they going to do to me?  Am I getting a shot?  Do I have to go?  Am I still bleeding?) Remember, this isn't his first ER visit - In the Blink of an Eye.  Kevin dropped us off curbside and I went to get us checked in.  All of our information was current and Fletcher was pretty cooperative.  A sweet receptionist brought him over a puppy pillow which he loved.  He was excited for his puppy to have a friend.  I texted my family and asked them to pray for Fletcher.

We got called back to a room pretty quickly and it wasn't long before there were talks of cleaning him up, numbing shots, tylenol and staples.  My heart sunk because it all sounded awful.  I knew it would hurt.  Thankfully Fletch was pretty sweet and in good spirits.  He was still asking tons of questions and curious about our room.  He took a little nap while we waiting.  We were thankful for the rest after such an emotional hour.  He got some medicine, we talked over the game plan (staples vs stitches) and they had to get him cleaned up. 

They burrito wrapped him and we were tasked with the job of holding him down.  Not something I ever enjoy doing.  Kevin was up by his face and I was holding his legs.  I was glad I was down by his feet because I had a hard time holding back the tears.  He got two shots in the head and then they cleaned the area.  He hated all of it.  He kept yelling - owwwww, you're hurting me!, what are you doing? can I be done? and stop.  This was really hard to hear because I knew it was all true.  We just wanted to get him all fixed up as quick as possible.

They originally said 3 staples would be needed, but it took 4 to get things back together.

His wound did not look good when they were done.  It was lumpy, super swollen and we weren't convinced it was quite right.  The doctor assured us that it was perfectly normal when wounds are so swollen for things to look off.  She assured us the swelling would go down and it would look much better the next day.  We texted the babysitters updates to keep them in the loop.

Fletcher lit up when he realized he was all done.  He was smiling and chatty even though he looked like he'd been through the wringer.  They offered him a popsicle and he was thrilled.  He ate it, explored the room and was acting much like he always does despite having a blood stained shirt and swollen head.  He finished his popsicle and then tried to march right out the door.  We had to remind him that we had to wait for paperwork and then we could go home.  He was so anxious to hurry home and play with the babysitters.  We left the hospital and he requested a stop at Dairy Queen.  We said yes and stopped to get our favorites.

We hurried home.  It was good to be there and everyone was ready to call it a night.  We felt bad for the sitters because they really are wonderful.  We did our best to reassure them, said goodbyes, ate a quick dinner and we all started to get ready for bed.  I got busy on the pile of laundry.

I was nervous and checked on Fletcher all night.  Kevin did, too.  I think we were all a little traumatized by the whole incident.

4 staples!  We were so thankful that the his injury wasn't worse and that it was in a spot that was easily fixed.  He's got to leave them in for several more days and then we'll go and get them removed.  I'm not looking forward to that appointment, but I'll put on my bravest mom face and make it happen.

Sunday, Aug 18th
Fletcher slept in, woke up his usual happy self and was starving.  He had zero complaints of pain or discomfort and continued on like nothing happened.  Kids are so resilient!  We reminded him all day to be careful.

We are planning a low key week at home this week.  Taking it easy and letting his head heal is top priority.   No pools or going under water with the staples.  He's doing just fine!

Thank you for your sweet messages and kind comments when I first mentioned his accident over the weekend.  Parenting is a wild ride!  I'm always reminded that things can go from fun to emergency in the blink of an eye.

Monday, August 19, 2019

My Guide to Planting Perennials: Spring & Summer

Did you know it's not too late in the season to plant perennials??

We've planted in the Spring, the middle of Summer and August/September.  If you plant during the hotter times of year, you just have to really commit to watering your new plants daily.

Many garden centers are clearing out their inventory and drastically reducing prices this time of year.  This means you can get way more for your money and really stock up on hearty plants that will come back year after year.  We've done this for several years in a row to really build up our landscaping.  It's the perfect way to garden on a budget as long as you are able to devote time to watering. 

Our home had two box woods out front and one rose bush and ZERO landscaping everywhere else when we moved in 3 years ago.  There were also hundreds of stones buried in the spots where we wanted to landscape.  The plus side to that was that we had a completely blank slate and could plant whatever we wanted.  The down side was we had to figure out how to landscape, figure out what we wanted to plant and relocate all those rocks.  Every rock or stone that we have used in our landscaping was buried somewhere in our yard.  Crazy!  We have not purchased any.

It's taken years of layering in plants and shrubs and we are so pleased with how things are coming together.  I mentioned last week that friends and neighbors have all started sending compliments our way for how our house and landscaping are looking.  We were on a family bike ride last night and a neighbor stopped us to talk about our cute house.  What a fun treat after so much hard work!

Gardening has required lots of trial and error.  We've lost so many daisy, cone flower and other random plants because they just didn't to well in our soil/sun combo.  Keep plugging away and learn each time you lose a plant.

Let's start the tour:
I'll do my best to recommend the perennials that have done really well in our very sunny front yard and very shady backyard in case you're looking for specific plants to plant at your home.

I love this area around our light pole.  Lantana (the yellow and pink/yellow clusters of flowers) are an annual that love it in our front yard.  We love all the sedum/stone crop/succulent plants and we've had good luck with lavender, veronica, salvia and yarrow plants here.

This littel lime limelight hydrangea loves full sun.

The first plants we ever bought were these three tiny shrubs three years ago.  We got two box woods and one euonymus (yellow and green plant in the middle).  They were tiny at the time because that's all we could afford.  They've tripled in size since we bought them and look great. 

We love butterfly bushes!  We currently have three - white, magenta and dark purple.  We have also had a navajo blue one.  We are about as far north as possible to have this be a perennial.  If we get a really harsh winter, they likely won't survive.  But they are really affordable, love the sun, grow pretty large and bloom ALL SUMMER LONG!  They attract so many butterflies.  I'll plant them again and again!

We have this black cherry crepe myrtle that blooms tiny pink blooms.  Again, we're pushing our luck this far north with this plant, but so far it's come back every year.  We have two red prince weigela plants in the back.  They're kind of wild and bloom hot pink blooms many times throughout the season.  

These Rose of Sharon Lil' Kim Violet plants are so pretty!  They bloom such a lovely tropical looking bloom.  These have done so well at our house.  We have two of them and they're gorgeous up close and from the street.

We have a variety of things planted on this corner - phlox of a couple varieties, 3 pieris bushes, hydrangea, euonymous, stone crop and some fun shrubs.

This will be my one plug for annuals - LANTANA!!  this was one tiny plant that has gotten HUGE.  It loves the sun and blooms and blooms all season long.  I planted 8 of these in our shrubs and you really get a lot for your money.  Some people plant these in pots and some plant them in landscaping.  We've had great luck with this plant.

We're trying to grow cone flowers in the middle, but they don't seem super happy.

Magenta butterfly bush.

We have lavender in a couple different spots.

This sedum succulent plant comes in green and purple.  Both bloom flowers and come back bigger every year.

I just love this paver patio next to our deck.  It turned out exactly like I hoped it would with the grass growing in between the pavers.  We planted a variety of hostas and astilbe all around the backyard since they both thrive in the shade.  They've come back year after year.

We had pink hydrangeas here last year and they both died.  I think they didn't get enough so so we switched to shade loving plants for this spot.

This area still needs a lot of work, but it's very rooty.  That means is so hard to dig holes to plant.  We'll keep working on it, but it takes forever to plant anything.

Our next project is to update the mulch!  It's probably too late in the season to order a truck load so I'm guessing we'll buy bags and bags of it to spread out in the front and back.  I'd also like to pick up some clearance hostas and flowering perennials to fill in some open spots.  Wish us luck!

What questions do you have for me about perennials??

Friday, August 16, 2019

Teriyaki Chicken Casserole

Happy Friday!!  I had a different post planned for you for today, but then I ended up making a new recipe for dinner last night that I had to share right away.  It was easy, healthy and so good!

I know casseroles get a bad wrap.  And I just don't understand it.  I love casseroles!  I live with a man who does not love them which means that I've had to get creative over the years.  Swap out the really heavy, creamy, soupy casseroles, for colorful, fresh ones and he's a fan.

I came across this Teriyaki Chicken Casserole on Pinterest and was inspired to make my own version.  We all enjoyed this casserole!  All the veggies are really chunky so it's easy to pick out anything you don't love.  It's also really tasty so kids and adults will enjoy it.  It is the perfect meal to deliver to a friend.  It travels so well and reheats well.  I doubled the recipe and made one for us and one for a friend.  

Teriyaki Chicken Casserole

3 cups cooked white rice
3-4 chicken breasts
soy sauce
teriyaki sauce
olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 chunk of fresh ginger
Salt and pepper
1 bag Deluxe Stir Fry Vegetables
1/2 bag frozen broccoli florets
1/4 bag match stick carrots
1 yellow onion

To save myself some time, I did the chicken breasts in the crockpot the day before.  I just added frozen chicken breasts and about a 1/4 of a bottle of teriyaki sauce.  Cooked on high for 6 hours, removed from crock pot and refrigerated.  They were ready to shred the next day.

Cook the rice and line your pan with it.

Add a drizzle of soy sauce over all the rice.

While your rice is cooking, sautee your frozen veggies.  I added all the veggies in together with a generous drizzle of olive oil.  Once they were browned, I sprinkled a little sauce sauce on top.

While the rice and veggies are cooking, go ahead and start the sauce.  Mince 2 cloves of garlic and one chunk of ginger, salt and pepper and olive oil in a pan.  Heat it up and then add in the remainder of the teriyaki sauce from the bottle.  Shred your chicken and add it into the sauce.  Let it sit until it's ready to assemble.

Layer all the ingredient into the casserole dish and gently stir.  Serve with soy sauce.

There are so many ways you can personalize this for your family!  Change up the meat, switch to brown rice, change up the veggies to your family favorites, etc.  I just love this casserole and will be making it again very soon!

It works great in a glass pan for home and a disposable pan for dropping off dinner to a friend!

 Would your family like this??

It's time to link up with my favorite blogging buddies for High Five for Friday.  Join us with a few 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

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Little Things

When I started blogging back in 2011, I was better at documenting the little things that often added up to a great week.  Life got busy.  Content got a little more planned out.  And those little things posts rarely happened.  Well, today I'm bringing it back.  These are the little things that have happened this month that have brought a lot of JOY to our family.

Our landscape is in FULL BLOOM.  Everything looks so nice.  Almost everyone that has stopped by those house lately has complimented it.  Yay for 3 years of hard work!!  This was one tiny lantana plant and now it's huge.  It's been fun to learn about our yard, our growing zone, our favorite plants and learn how to garden together.

Climbing Trees.
My kids are obsessed with climbing all the trees in our yard.

Bike training.
One of Olive's Summer goals was to learn to ride her bike without training wheels.  She's doing great and is almost road ready.  Next up - swinging by herself and learning to tie shoes.

Exploring new parks.

Adventures with Mom.

Little learner.
Olive was up way past bedtime studying her sight words.  She'd gone through her whole stack of flashcards and divided them up into two piles - I know them and I need help with them.  I was so proud of her!  She really does love to learn and I love that she was so positive with her category names.

Family bike rides.

After school snuggles.

Sandy the penny horse at Meijer.

Lunches packed with all your favorite foods.

My favorite exercise buddy.  Badge on ready to patrol the neighborhood.

Our fairy garden.
We added some new gnomes and it's fun to see our impatiens growing in pots.

Surprising Olive with her favorite after school snacks.  We've done snicker doodles, smoothies and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

Confident first grader.
She loves rainbows, unicorns, headbands and pink.  She's brave even when school makes her nervous.  She's making lots of new friends and has big plans for this year.

Sweet little sidekick. 

He regularly tells us that "I just want to kiss you on the wips!" while flashing his dimpley smile and twinkly blue eyes.

What little moments stand out in your week that made you smile??