Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Confessions

I have lots of random things to share with you today.  Enjoy!


1. You will not find me wearing any of the following trends this Fall/Winter: open toed booties, torn hem jeans or purple lipstick.  They just aren't for me.  I don't find open toed shoes comfortable at all, I don't mind distressed denim, but the uneven hem bugs me and true purple lipstick just isn't a color I want to try to pull off.

2. Having sick kids is the most isolating thing.  You have to cancel all plans, skip school and barely leave the house for daysssss.  It really wears on you and then by the time your kids are finally recovering you end up with a version of whatever they had.  Thanks a lot, kids.

3. I just realized that neither of my kids really have jackets or winter coats this year.  Whoops.  Guess I need to do some shopping.

4. It feels so good to clean out your closets.  I've been purging all of my clothes, shoes and kid clothes.  It's fun to make a little money in the process, too.  I'm starting with selling my kids clothes to Once Upon a Child and my clothes to Style Encore.  I know they won't buy everything so now I'm trying to decide what to do with the leftovers.  Have you had any luck with any sites like Poshmark?

5. I've pulled more gray hairs this month than I care to count.  I made the mistake of telling Olive I found some white hairs.  Now she glances at my hair from time to time to point out some "whiteness".  She sure knows how to make a girl feel good.

6. I'm rarely the fun one in our family so it's nice to say YES to things like splashing in the puddles in our pjs.  I think I was a little stir crazy after several days of cabin fever.  The kids loved it.

7. I got a good haircut from Great Clips.  It was under $20.  I've had my share of terrible hair cuts over the years so my secret is to have the manager cut your hair when you go to places like Great Clips.  I've always been happy with the cuts they give.

8. Did you see that the Coach brand is changing their name to Tapestry?  I kind of hate it.  I haven't actually purchased a Coach item in years, but I loved their vintage stage coach emblem tags on several of my leather bags.

9. My secret to eating less sweets during the holidays:  Try to mostly bake and buy things you don't really care for.  My husband loves apple crisp, Snickerdoodles and anything cinnamony.  I'll eat all of that, but I don't crave it.  My kids love Dum Dums and Smarties.  I don't care for either.  So when I pick their favorite sweet treats for them I'm not that tempted to eat them.

10. Olive's current favorite song is Andy Grammer's Honey I'm Good.  It's a catchy song, but probably not the best 4 year old anthem.

11. Fletcher hasn't had a bottle in a couple of weeks and he's basically given up drinking milk.  He takes one sip from his sippy cups and shouts YUCK.  He'll drink water, but zero milk.  What should I do?  We've tried to give him milk in every sippy cup we have and even bought a new one for his milk.  He'll take a few sips, but not drink much.

12.I love decorating with pretty candles and have pretty logs in my fireplace, but I never burn either.  They're just for looks.  The only candles that I burn are the ones on birthday cakes.

Could you relate to any of my confessions??  Tell me a good confession in the comments.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hello Fresh: Best Meal of My Life

We got to try out the Hello Fresh meal delivery service a couple of weeks ago and I'm excited to tell you all about it.  I'd always wanted to give it a try, but it seemed too pricey.  A friend was offering a code for three free meals so I took her up on the offer.  You got to use the code, but had to put in your credit card information signing up for a subscription.  If you didn't care to keep the service going you just had to cancel.

So let me tell you all the PROS and CONS about Hello Fresh!

PRO: I had the most delicious meal of my life!

CON: Overall, the service is too expensive for us to pay full price for every week.

Let me explain a little more.

I selected three 2 person meals for our family.  I planned on fixing other things for the kids those nights and picked meals Kevin and I would enjoy.  The menu items change a lot from week to week so be sure to start your meal service on a week that looks really delicious to you.

PROS:
1. It was really fun to try new recipes and some new ingredients.
2. The meals were fancier than my usual nightly dinners so that made for a fun week.
3. I loved picking out our dinners from all the options.
4. The recipe cards were really detailed and I loved being able to keep them to make the recipes again and again.
5. It was a fun change of pace for us.

CONS:
1. The meals take a fair amount of work - lots of dishes, lots of chopping and even the meals that were labeled easy were a bit of work.
2. There was a ton of packaging to manage from boxes, to cooler packs to everything being individually wrapped.
3. This service is expensive.  It's more than we usually spend on dinners since we eat at home so it's not something we would do regularly.  I'd definitely consider doing it for one of our birthdays, an anniversary gift, etc.  If you're used to eating out regularly for dinner, it is probably similarly priced.
4. The meals aren't all delicious after all that work.
5. Not all of the ingredients worked - the peaches for our salad were spoiled, I ran out of olive oil but a recipe called for it, one recipe mentioned parchment paper working best, but that's not something I keep at home and the portion size seemed a bit small on the meat.

MEAL 1: GRILLED CHEESE TACOS (AKA Best Meal of My Life)
(30 Minute Meal - took closer to 45 minutes)
How could you go wrong with this combo?!?!

I'd never heard of this grilling cheese before, but it was amazing.  So easy to slice and it just got toasty brown on the grill instead of spreading out everywhere like regular cheese.

The veggies were all delicious - roasted sweet potatoes, avocado and DIY pico.  I've also never really eaten radishes and they were delicious!  I love that this service introduced me to some new foods.

My mouth is watering just looking at these pictures.  I'm on the hunt for grilling cheese in my local stores and you better believe this will be a favorite meal of mine at my house.



 MEAL 2: STEAK & NECTARINE SALAD
(20 Minute Meal - took about twice that amount of time)
This was a yummy meal.  We both enjoyed it although the dressing wasn't amazing.


Meal 3: CRISPY FRICO CHEESEBURGERS
(30 Minute Meal - took about 40 minutes)
This meal was fine.  Nothing super special.  We loved the caramelized onions so I'll be doing that again when we make burgers in the future.


 In case you're curious...
The recipe cards - full color, two sided, TONS of information.  You could easily cook these recipes with very little cooking experience because they are so detailed.

Each meal arrives in its own labeled back with the meat packed in cooler pouches below.


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If you'd like to give Hello Fresh a try - use my link to get $20 off your first purchase.  In full disclosure, I get a small credit to my account for promoting Hello Fresh when you sign up for the service.
https://share.hellofresh.com/x/EMn1K0
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Well, what do you think??  Have you tried Hello Fresh before?
Which meal looked the best to you?


It's time to link up with my favorite Tuesday Talk ladies.
Be sure to link up with us.



Monday, October 16, 2017

Halloween Fun for Everyone

I'm rounding up my favorite Halloween recipes, activities and DIYs for you today.

I guarantee there will be something fun for everyone.

And there's still two weeks before Halloween to squeeze these things into your plans.

LOCAL, FREE FUN
Our Fresh Thyme Market had a free fall festival on Saturday and it was a blast.  The kids got to paint pumpkins, drink apple cider, eat caramel apples, play games and make sucker spiders.  It was a fun way to spend our Saturday.



EDIBLE PUMPKIN FACES
Give your kids all the supplies they need to make their own edible pumpkin faces.  It's a fun snack to play with and then eat.  You can find all the details here.


ICE CUBE TRAY MEALS
My kids love when I serve meals in these ice cube trays.  I make holiday themed ones like this Halloween one and then we do them throughout the year with their favorite foods.  I know most people have ice makers in their fridge and might not have ice cube trays around.  You're in luck - they come in two packs for under $2 at the store.


DIY FALL FESTIVAL
Invite your favorite people over for a Fall Festival!!  Make edible spider webs, indoor smores, Halloween crafts, spider hats, Halloween patterns and play games.  You can find all the fall festival details here.


SPOOKY FOOD
If you're a teacher, I have a great Halloween project for you to do with your students!  Ask them to create their own spooky food for Halloween.  They can pick any kind of food from a box and then they have to come up with a catchy name, picture of their food, ingredient list, price, activities on the box, etc. and then present them to the class.  We always brainstormed ideas at school and then the kids made their boxes at home.  You can find all the details here.


PAINTED PUMPKINS
If you aren't up for carving pumpkins, painting pumpkins is a great alternative!  It's quick and not as gross as scooping out pumpkin guts :)  You can find my directions here.


PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP BAKED OATMEAL
This recipe is easy, delicious for breakfast or a dessert and I bet you've got all the ingredients you need in your pantry right now.  You can find the recipe here.


PUMPKIN SWIRL FRENCH TOAST
Need an easy breakfast??  This recipe will not dissappoint


HALLOWEEN WAFFLES
If you aren't big on pumpkin flavor, these waffles are for you!  They just add a tiny bit of food coloring to make them festive.  You can find the details here.



PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLLS
Another great recipe that doesn't have pumpkin in it, but are iced to look like pumpkins.  You can find all the details here.


HAND & FOOT PRINT ART
Stamp those little hands and feet to document holidays with your favorite little people.  Here are some Halloween prints we've done in the past few years.

Cat print Halloween Cards - instructions here

Candy Corn Prints

Hand print witch
I really love how this witch turned out from last year.  You can find all the details here.


What fun Halloween plans do you have for the rest of the month??

Friday, October 13, 2017

Little Letters

Dear Friday, I'm so glad you're here.  It's Fall break for Olive and both kids are finally feeling better after a week of yuck.  Stay away germs!  Love, Whitney

Dear Holiday Hand Print Art,
I just cannot quit you.  My kids are getting old enough to really be able to stamp and participate.  The holidays are just so much fun with them.  I think these pumpkin prints may just be some of my favorites we've done.  They're so proud of their cute little hand prints and I know I'll get a little teary eyed as I pull them out year after year remembering how little they once were.

Dear Neighbors,
Thank you for not thinking I was weird when I asked to have some of your white birch tree logs from the tree you cut down.  And thank you for delivering them to my house.  My ideas for fireplace decor have come true for free.  Hooray!

Dear Halloween Art,
We had a blast making monster faces this week.  I drew out some mouths with fangs and my kids LOVED making monsters.  Easy, free fun for one of our days at home.

Dear Apple Cinnamon Rolls,
You were just as delicious as we imagined.  And the fact that you were from a can is amazing.  Thank you Meijer for making these delicious Fall treats.

Dear Laura Mercier Eye Basics Primer,
You are a game changer!  I ordered you with some Sephora points I'd racked up and I cannot believe how well my eye make up stays ALL day.  I put on one swipe for each eye lid, add my shadow and highlighter and my eye make up looks the exact same when I take it off at night.  You are amazing!!  This stuff also keeps your lids looking very matte under your make up and keeps you lids from every looking oily.  It works wonders.  PS If you guys haven't tried it you should ASAP.

Dear Cute Cousins,
My kids are so excited to see you all next weekend.  Can't wait for family pictures and Mimi's birthday :)

Dear Game Day Saturdays,
Thanks for being so much fun!  My family loves to put on our Notre Dame gear, eat some delicious game day food and cheer for the Irish.  It's been a fun season so far so let's keep it up!

Dear Fletcher,
I'm glad you can't talk in sentences yet.  Please keep quiet about all the fun things we do together while Olive is at school.  Cookies while we shop is your current favorite.

Dear Church of the Small Things,
This was my first time reading a Melanie Shankle book after hearing lots of praise for her work.  The title and fun cover sucked me in and I had really high hopes for learning about lots of little things to do that would add up to a great life.  However, I found the book to be disappointing.  It was a quick read, but there weren't many points of the book that stand out to me.  She glosses over stepping out of your comfort zone, opening your eyes to the people you encounter every day and being a good friend.  There were tons of real life stories, real life moments and things that made you laugh.  I was just missing the meat of the book.  Shankle seems like a fun and funny mom.  I would have liked for her to go into more details about all the little things you could do in life to help others, connect with people and build a great life for your family.  The last half of book was more on topic and had some good take aways on focusing on the small, every day moments of your life.  I just wish there would have been more of a connection to the title earlier in the book.  Overall, I wouldn't recommend reading this book.
*I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

Dear Friends,
Here are my blog posts from this week just in case you missed any.  Those mini bundt cakes were AMAZING so definitely check out that recipe from Wednesday.  I have plans to make them again for the second time in a week.

Monday: Pumpkin Traditions
Tuesday: Halloween at Home
Wednesday: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Banana Bundt Cakes

Linking up with

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Banana Bundt Cakes

I have the yummiest bundt cake recipe to share with you today.

Not only are they delicious, they are SO pretty!!

I made a batch last weekend.  My family inhaled them and I shared some with our neighbors.  My four year old said they were the most delicious muffins ever so you really need to give them a try.

I was inspired by this recipe from Oh Sweet Basil, but made changes to come up with my own version below.  They are the lightest, fluffiest mini bundt cakes you can imagine.  They definitely have a pumpkin taste, but the addition of the banana makes the pumpkin more subtle.  This is such an easy recipe and I bet you'll have all of the ingredients you need in your pantry right now.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Banana Bundt Cakes

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/3 c room temp margarine
1/4 t vanilla
3/4 c sugar
1 3/4 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
sprinkle of sal
1/2 c pumpkin puree
2 mashed ripe bananas
1 c chocolate chips

Directions:
Combine butter and sugar in a mixer.  Add in one egg at a time.  Mix in wet ingredients.  Add in dry ingredients and fold in chocolate chips last.  Save a handful of chocolate chips to sprinkle into the greased bundt pan before adding in the batter.

Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned & toothpick comes out clean.

Yields: 12 mini bundt cakes

I used a cookie scoop to put three equal scoops in each bundt cake.  Then I used a spoon to press the batter down evenly.  This Wilton baking pan was perfect for the job.  It's a heavy pan and nothing sticks to it.  It's wonderful - thanks, Mom!

Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove.

These were such pretty little treats!!

SECRET TIP: I wanted the chocolate chips to be prominent on the top of the mini cakes so I sprinkled a few chips into each spot on the bundt cake pan before adding in the batter.  That way I knew there would definitely be chocolate chips on top of each cake.




You could easily pick these up and eat them or get a little fancier with a fork.


What's your favorite thing to bake this time of year??

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Halloween at Home

I love decorating, baking and planning events for the holidays.  I really enjoy crafting with my kids and having our home look really festive for the current season.  We got the house decorated and had time to do a couple of cute projects this month.  I'm excited to share them with you early in the month so that you've got plenty of time to make them with your kids if you want.

Ghost footprints:
Directions & Tips
I pulled all of our Halloween colored paint, paint brushes and canvas for this project.  I also had an abundance of wet wipes available.  I let my 4 year old paint the background with the instructions to completely cover up the white canvas.

I've found that if I give her all the colors at once she mixes everything and we end up with a murky brown painting.  However, if I give her one color at a time changing up the brushes she uses then the end result is much more colorful.  I helped her a little, but she did the majority of it on her own.  We let it dry and then added the ghost footprints.

I layered one heavy coat of white paint on her foot, stamped it and then touched up any areas that didn't stamp bright white.  Wet wiped her foot and then moved onto my son.  After the foot prints dried I added the ghost faces.  I always write the year and the kid's ages on the back of our art work.

I snapped some pictures around the house this weekend of our Halloween decor.  We focus on fun, sweet and silly Halloween decorations.  You won't find anything really scary or spooky at our house.

I did my own fun painting project this past weekend - a giant candy corn for our front door.  It was a easy project that definitely adds some cheer to our porch.


My Pottery Barn Kids plates are some of my favorite Halloween decorations.  They're just so cute.  My kids love eating off of them all month long.  I add in some fun Halloween dish towels into the rotation and it makes the kitchen feel festive.  These plates are from 2015 and 2016.  They come out with four new ones every year.  I didn't love the 2017 plates so I didn't add any new ones to our collection this year.  That's my new shopping rule - don't buy it unless you LOVE it.

Our table.  Real pumpkins mixed with fake and burlap place mats.

The top of the fridge is a great spot to put breakable decorations so that your kids can't get to them.

Olive spotted these pink and purple velvet pumpkins at Target last week and had to have them.  They look really cute in her room.

I try to have kid friendly decorations that can't be broken where the kids can reach them.  They play with dancing Snoopy all day long and practice trick or treating with their pumpkins.

This basket is always in our family room and I change out the books monthly for the holidays.  The kids know all of these books stay here and we read through them almost daily.

A little Halloween mixed in with our usual family room decor.



Do you decorate for Halloween?