Monday, September 16, 2019

12 Mom's Night Out Ideas

I've gotten to join in and help plan several Mom's Night Out get togethers this past year.  They've all been so much fun and a great break from my usual routine.  I'm thankful to have fun friends in my neighborhood, my side of town, in my mom's group and at church.  I'd love to do more of these as my kids are getting older.  It seems easier to slip away in the evenings than it was when they were tiny. 

We usually plan things around dinner time, the event lasts 2-4 hours, we put on a cute outfit and some bright lipstick for a change.  These have been some of our best of MNO ideas:

1. Make reservations to a new restaurant in town and ride together.
2. Go to a canvas or front door sign painting party
3. Shop together and then grab dinner afterwards
4. Go to a PTO meeting and grab dinner/drinks afterwards
5. Buy tickets for a local production and grab dinner
6. Dinner & a movie
7. Take a little road trip to find some favorite spots in a new city nearby
8. Dinner and a mom's group meeting with a guest speaker
9. Lunch at a local winery
10. Favorite things exchange
11. Holiday themed gathering - gift wrapping, cookie exchange, ornaments, etc.
12. S'mores & Succulents

Saturday night I met several friends from my mom's group at a friend's house for s'mores and succulents.  I'd been looking forward to this for weeks.  We didn't have to bring anything (which was really sweet!!).  My friend Allison planned it all!  I had a fun day with my family, watched football together, went on a walk, made dinner and then headed out to meet up with friends.  I just love the after dinner get togethers.  I can get away and then come home to a quiet house.  Kevin's awesome to take care of bath time, clean up and bed time.  Yay!!

I was really excited about all the s'more combinations.  I've always wanted to try a s'more with a pb cub.  It was amazing!

Look at this darling set up!  6 different fancy s'more recipes to try.  I made a classic s'more and a pb cup s'more.  I think the classic is still my favorite, but I'm definitely up for trying new formulas.  I wish that I would have had room to try one more.  It was fun to see everyone trying the different combinations.

Look at this sweet charcuterie board.  I've got to start adding dried apricots to my boards.

Allison set up this succulent planting station.  We got to decorate our pots with paint markers.  I did gold polka-dots all over and then planted my plant.

 What a fun night!!  I smile every time I look at my potted succulent in my kitchen window.

I also really love eating at special restaurants with adults only - date night or MNO!  It's just fun to eat and have some fun, uninterrupted conversation :)

What's your favorite thing to do with your friends for a night out?  Give me some new ideas!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  This week was a bit of a wild one.  We had some sickness to deal with, a road trip with just me and the kids, Kevin was out of town and some more sickness.  Thankfully, we're all feeling pretty good now and ready for a fun weekend.  We're hoping to watch some football, I have a Mom's Night Out planned with friends and we may go apple picking if the weather cooperates :)

Favorite Moments of the Week:

Family walks in the evenings.

Sick Day #1.  Fever and a cough/cold kept Olive home one day last week.  Fletcher was thrilled :)

Olive was named the first character award winner in her class this year!  She won the award last year for honesty and this year she was nominated for respect.  She was THRILLED.  They announce the winners on the morning announcements and she was so excited to hear her name called.  She got her picture taken, went to a cookie & punch reception and then gets her picture and write up posted outside of her classroom for the month!  We're so proud of her.  Her teacher told me she was the obvious stand out for the first award and that she could easily have been nominated for any character trait.  Makes me so happy to see her thriving and standing out in a good way in her classroom.  Sometimes I feel a little sad about how fast the kids are growing, but there really are special things to celebrate and enjoy with every season of parenting.

Road trip!  Kevin was out of town last weekend so I planned a fun getaway with the kids.  We headed two hours south to stay with my parents.  We got to see my sister & brother.  She just moved into a new house.  It was fun to see her new place, eat a delicious dinner and hang out with my parents.  The kids did great on the drive thanks to some new movies to watch, yummy candy and great weather.

Target!  We stopped in Target to stock up on Fall/Halloween goodies.  We're set!  I'll have to do a round up post on that soon.  We also got to check out a new Homegoods store.

My mom got the house all decorated for Fall.

We went to church and some of our favorite restaurants while we were in town.  My high school pastor has moved back to town to become the head pastor.  It was really fun to see him!

Unbreakable pumpkins.  I wrote a post on Monday about them.  Spoiler alert: They're my new favorite.  I really love the felt and velvet ones.  I haven't done any Fall decorating except for these new pumpkins.  Maybe when the temps finally go below 90 I'll be more in the mood for pumpkins.

Kevin came home with souvenirs for all of us from his conference in Chicago.  He picked out really cute tees for both kids.  I was super impressed because they are the right size for both kids and are colors/designs/soft tees that both kids would have picked out for themselves.  #1 Dad!  He brought me hotel pens.  I love grabbing them whenever we travel because they're fun reminders of our adventures.

It was apple week in Olive's class.  I volunteered to do an apple taste test.  I chopped 4 different kinds of apples for each kid to taste, packaged them in individual bags and sent them to school.  I added this cute apple ornament for Olive's teacher.  She loved it!  Target Dollar Spot for the win!

We hadn't been to Sams in ages so we did a BIG Sams run this week.  Fletcher wanted to show off his climbing skills as I grabbed a cart.  He looks so grown up all the sudden!  It's also gotten so much easier to take him places.  He walks with me, stays with me, is helpful and outings aren't nearly as stressful as they used to be with a 2 year old.  It doesn't hurt that he's munching on a $1 soft pretzel as we stroll the aisles of Sams.

Fletcher had science class this week.  We go twice a month with friends and it's wonderful!  He learned a lot and loves spotting these Coke bottles around town.  We're gearing up for a big coke festival in a couple of weeks so many businesses have themed coke bottles painted outside of their buildings.  Fletch calls them Coca bottles :)

Sick day #2.  Olive woke up yelling for me about 11:30pm Tuesday night.  She'd gotten sick everywhere, spiked a fever and had a really rough night.  We were worried about her.  She went to bed totally fine around 9 and then was so sick just a little bit later.  I didn't sleep much that night checking on her, let her sleep in and she woke up like this!  What a blessing!  She said she felt much better than the night before.  We took it easy and she was back to school after a day at home.

Hope you had a great week!!  Enjoy your weekend and I'll see you back here on Monday :)

Linking up with Momfessionals and H54F with 
Becky @  By BMG Blog
Della @ Della Devoted
Tif @ Bright on a Budget
Whitney P @ Come Home for Comfort

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Fall Bucket List

We sat down as a family last week and wrote out a Fall bucket list.  It feels anything but Fall this week with the highs in the 90s for several days in a row.  But that isn't going to stop us from dreaming and planning for Fall fun.

The rules about our bucket lists are that everyone gets to add things, we do a mix of free fun and outings that cost money and we have no stress or obligation to cross everything off the list.  It's just a list of ideas when we're looking for fun things to do this Fall or from now until Thanksgiving.

I'm hoping to get this list written out so we can cross things off our to do list as we go through Fall.

Fall Bucket List:

1. Children's Museum
2. Play at all the local parks
3. Apple picking a few times
4. Grill steaks
5. ISU football game
6. Bonfire and s'mores
7. Fun with friends
8. Drink apple cider
9. Go on an adventure (just means to try something new!)
10. Game nights
11. Pumpkin cookies
12. Fall festivals
13. Tailgate
14. Grill brats
15. Hike / Walk / Bike rides
16. Halloween festivities
17. Play in the leaves
18. Turkey Run State Park
19. Camp out in a tent
20. Buy mums
21. Soup / Chili / Crockpot meals
22. PSL
23. Family pictures
24. Celebrate my birthday
25. Inflatable Halloween decoration for the yard
26. Sibling Halloween costumes
27.  Carve pumpkins
28. Tennis lessons
29. Road trip
30. Eat candy corn

What's on your fall bucket list??

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

6 Easy Healthy Lunch Recipes

I'm trying to be better about eating a real lunch every day.  I want my lunch to be colorful, healthy and filling.  My secret to having a healthy lunch is to buy enough ingredients to have the same lunch 2-3 times in one week.  That way when I make a salad for the week, I don't have to reinvent the wheel each day.  I know what salad I'm going to eat several times that week.

These would be great options for any of you!  Working ladies, stay at home ladies, etc.  Hope you find a new recipe or two that you want to try.

1. Loaded Pasta Salad
I love orzo pasta!  It's so yummy, cooks really fast and is great in soups or salads.  This salad is really easy - veggies + orzo + S&P + feta + Italian dressing

Chop all your veggies up small.  I used sweet peppers, carrots, peas, cucumbers, broccoli and purple onion.

Cook the orzo pasta as directed.  Drain.  Add salt and pepper.  Then add feta.

Dump in the veggies until well combined.

Add Italian dressing.  Only add a little bit so the pasta doesn't get soggy.  Drizzle a little more on top when you're ready to serve.

Mom approved AND kid approved.  Fletcher doesn't usually eat stuff like this, but I let him have a bite and he was hooked.  He ate a whole bowl of it.  

You can serve it plain or on top of a bed of baby spinach for some extra greens.

2. Scrambled Eggs + Veggies
Wilt a big handful of spinach, sautee onions and sweet peppers with bacon.  Cook scrambled eggs.  Combine and top with feta.

3. Avocado Toast
This is my favorite avocado toast combo.  2 fried eggs with Montreal Steak seasoning.  Half an avocado sliced.  1 toasted piece of wheat bread.

4. Leftover grilled meat
I always try to plan to have leftovers when we grill.  It makes lunches really easy the next day.  Hamburger salad is my favorite.  It's an easy low carb lunch option.

Avocado BLT.  So good!

6. Spinach Salad
Baby spinach is my go to lettuce because it keeps the longest in my fridge.  Mixed greens always wilt and go bad really quickly.  I like to change up the toppings from week to week - fruit, nut & cheese and mixed veggies are my usual choices.  Both are so good.  I have the salad 2-3 times a week and I find that I eat more salads when I've planned the salad out ahead of time.

What's your favorite healthy lunch??

Monday, September 9, 2019

Unbreakable Pumpkin Collection

I love decorating for the holidays, but I'll be honest, my kids and moving 6 times have taken its toll on our holiday decorations.  I've definitely felt the pull to buy decorations that are unbreakable, durable and easy to take care of without sacrificing any of the cute factor.

We've picked up some new pumpkins this year and I'm not worried at all about the kids helping me decorate with them.  We shopped at Meijer and Target for these.  I've also seen cute options at Dollar Tree and Walmart this season.

The striped pumpkins and the gold velvet pumpkins all came from Meijer.  They were under $5 and found a home in our living room.

Olive excitedly picked out these pumpkins and Fall puppy for her bedroom.  I love to let the kids decorate a little spot in their bedrooms for the holidays.  We store the decorations in their closets.  The puppy is from Meijer and the pumpkins are from Target.  The bigger pumpkins were $3 and the little one was $1.  All came from the dollar spot.  I let her have full control over her Fall decorations and she was thrilled.  Isn't that blush felt pumpkin pretty!?!?

Same thing with Fletcher.  He picked out his Fall decorations.  He loved this yellow truck from Meijer.  The pumpkins came from Target.  I LOVE the blue felt ones.  I was definitely expecting them to cost more than the styrofoam ones, but they were just $1 each.  They look like they came from a boutique.

And just to show you that unbreakable pumpkins are for EVERYONE... my mom has this really sweet pumpkin display in front of their fireplace.  The vintage wagon was my dad's when he was a kid and the pumpkins are unbreakable ones she's collected over the years.  Perfect for a house full of 9 grandkids and easy to store.

Do you have any unbreakable pumpkins in your Fall decor??

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Highlights

Happy Friday!  Hope you've had a great week.  We loved having a three day weekend, snuck in lots of sweet moments, fun and had an unexpected sick day home with Olive yesterday. 

The best parts of our week were:

Grilling!  We ate burgers and burger salads all week.

Kevin kicked off his 5th year of as a professor!  Hoping and praying it's a wonderful year.

Fletcher successfully got his staples removed!  It was quite the ordeal.  We went to have them removed when the ER doctor suggested and it was too soon.  He started bleeding and it was traumatic for both of us.  We waited a week later and went back.  He was really nervous and really brave to have to go through that again.  The nurses were amazing the second visit (awful the first visit) and were very kind to him.  They told him he was brave and let him take his staples home in a jar.  He was thrilled.  We are still taking things easy to ensure everything heals completely.

We've been playing in the backyard LOTS!  Lemonade cheers to that!

 Our fairy garden looks great.  This was our first year to grow flowers in it and it worked!

We've been exploring favorite parks around town with our friends.

Fletcher and I have been walking and strolling regularly now that the weather has cooled off some.

Do you spy Olive?  She's doing some light reading in a tree :)

These two are getting better at scootering.

We got a last minute invitation to join some neighbors for a football viewing party in their backyard.  It was really fun!  We all enjoyed ourselves.  I'm so glad we went, but I'll be honest, I struggle with spontaneous plans.  I like to prepare, make food, and plan for social things.  So I have to fight my initial reaction to say no and say yes sometimes.  I'm glad we went and my kids are dying for us to recreate these "meat popsicles" on the grill.

Two new Aldi favorites: Sliced loaf of sour dough and thick cut bacon.  Both were delicious for BLTs.

We finally made it back to church after keeping Fletcher out for a few weeks while he had staples.

Another Labor Day cookout.  I was in charge of dessert.  We had fun with friends and stomp rockets!

Notre Dame is 1-0 :)

Olive is writing all the things.  She's sounding everything out and working hard on becoming a fluent writer and reader.  It's so sweet to watch.

All of her new hair that is growing is coming in GOLDEN.  It's the prettiest highlights.  She's also got new freckles every time I look at her cute face.

We went on our longest bike ride yet around the neighborhood.  It's fun to try new routes. Olive insisted that her legs were getting strong enough to bike around the whole neighborhood with me.  We went on our first girls only ride.  It was so much fun.

 Our football charcuterie boards were a hit this week!

Fletcher loves to rhyme and thinks potty words are hilarious.  He also asks me if it's time to pick up Olive a million times a day.    

Hope you have some fun plans in the works for your weekend!!

I'm taking a break from hosting the H54F link up every Friday.  My friends are still keeping it up so head over to any of their blogs to link up 3 of your favorite posts from the week.

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