Monday, February 29, 2016

Recipe Round Up: February

Happy Leap Day!  I hope you had a great weekend.  We sure did and I can't wait to tell you about it tomorrow.  A winner was chosen for the PinkBlush giveaway through Rafflecopter yesterday - Congratulations Gina @ Wild Orchid.  Check your inbox for an email from me and respond ASAP!!

I'm excited to share my best recipes with you from this month.  I worked really hard this month to plan delicious meals for dinner, eat leftovers for lunch and to try a mix of old & new recipes.  It was success and we ate well all month.  I picked my very favorite recipes to share with you today.  I try to cook dinner 5 nights a week and then pick a few of my best recipes from the month to photograph and share with you.  It was great to cook big dinners and eat left overs for lunch all month.  It made lunch prep so easy for me.

Hope you find a new recipe or two you'd like to add to your menu:

We bought sour dough bread, deli ham, a variety of cheeses, mustards and jellies and had paninis for dinner several nights this month.  My favorite combo is sharp cheddar cheese, very thinly sliced ham and spicy mustard.

I bought several containers of spinach at Sams this month and tried hard to sneak in the greens.  We had smoothie bowls.  I loved them and my toddler preferred hers in a cup with a straw.  We also had delicious spinach salads all month long.

I made a batch of Mexican Chicken and we ate 4-5 meals from it plus lunches.
My recipe is simple
1 bag boneless skinless chicken
Cook in the crock pot on low for 6-7 hours.
Shred and add your favorite taco seasoning.

We had shredded chicken nacho dip, quesadillas and soft tacos.
They were all delicious and so easy to prepare each night after the first day of prepping the chicken.

My favorite Super Bowl appetizer was this BBQ Chicken Dip!  It was a layer of cream cheese, chicken with BBQ sauce topped generously with cheese.  We dipped tortilla chips in it and it was amazing.  I think you could easily add in caramelized onions and then bake the whole dish to make the cheese bubbly.

This is one of my FAVORITE things to buy at Sams.  It's vegetable Lo Mein and it comes in 6 individual packages.  We enjoyed them for dinner and added in some chicken and we shared them for lunch.  There are TONS of veggies, the seasoning is mild and we add a little soy sauce to finish it off.  The box of lo mein is less than $10 so it's a great, easy meal option.

I thought I'd also share my favorite desserts from the month, too.
We enjoyed lots of sweets for this month of LOVE.

 Pretty Pretzels
I made these for Kevin's co-workers and they were a big hit.
I did caramel twists topped with pecans
mini m&ms and all sorts of other toppings.

 We love Funfetti boxed cake mix with homemade buttercream frosting.
Aren't they the prettiest cupcakes!?!?

6 Cinnamon Rolls
I always make a recipe for a tiny batch because 6 cinnamon rolls seems like the perfect amount. 

A delicious twist on banana muffins

I'm teaming up with
Whitney @ Come Home for Comfort
 February New Recipes
Katie @ Cup of Tea
 Menu Monday New Recipes to Try

 in a RECIPE ROUND UP of our best meals of the month.
Head over to their blogs to see what delicious meals they've been preparing.

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.

What's the best recipe you made this month??
Leave a comment below with a link to it 
because I'm always on the hunt for new recipes.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Five

We had a fun week at our house.  Lots of sunshine, play dates, friends, college basketball and chocolate covered pretzels.  Life with a toddler is always an adventure, but we had a really fun/easy/sweet week with Olive.  She was so cute and a good time was had by all.  Not all weeks are that way so it's worth noting toddlers can be oh so FUN!  

I'm hosting a BIG giveaway this week so scroll down to the bottom of this post 
to enter the $75 PinkBlush giveaway ASAP!!

The BEST parts of our week were:

// 1 //
College Basketball
We were given basketball tickets so we took Olive to her first college game on Sunday.  We had a great time and were able to stay the whole time.  She loved watching the band, the cheerleaders, the mascot and the action on the court.  She's a girl after my own heart and scarfed down a huge soft pretzel.  We've really enjoyed all the perks of living in a college town this year. 

// 2 //
Spring Lips
I ran into CVS yesterday to pick up a few things and everything I wanted was BOGO half off.  I picked up two new lipsticks for Spring and I love both colors.  They're Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Pink Velvet 423 (right) and Cherries in the Snow 440 (left).  There were so many pretty colors that I had a hard time just picking two.  I love the feel of this product and can't wait to start using them.

// 3 //
I love getting edible party favors when I go to events so I made 8 different kinds of chocolate covered pretzels for my sprinkle this weekend.  I had a blast making them and coming up with different topping combinations.  I'm hoping my friends and family will be excited to take home a bag of them on Saturday.  Olive was thrilled with them and said, "Mama, deeze cookies sure are yummy!"
Here's a sneak peek at the cute sprinkle invitations:

// 4 //
We've got the cutest squirrels on the planet living in our backyard.  They're chubby, friendly and will climb the patio door screen to get our attention if their food is running low.  This is Norman and he's actually much thinner than he was a few months ago.  He's clearly hungry and so politely waiting for food.  Don't worry we quickly refilled his food supply.  The whole family (cats included) enjoy squirrel watching on our patio :)

// 5 //
33 Weeks
I had a doctor's visit yesterday to check on baby Fletcher and myself.  I'm wrapping up my 33rd week so I loved hearing updates and talking about a birth game plan with my doctor.  They've estimated his weight is already SIX pounds and I've still got several weeks to go.  My blood pressure was good so we're both just going to keep plugging along.  We'll see how it all plays out, but I'm preparing for a healthy big baby boy.  I was induced at 39 weeks with Olive so we'll see how things go with our little man.  I did a double take at my own reflection this week when we were out doing some shopping.  Baby is definitely growing :)

Be sure and check out my favorite posts from this week:
I'm hosting a BIG GIVEAWAY for a $75 PinkBlush shop giftcard -
head over here to enter before the contest ends Sunday night.

I hope you have a really great weekend!!
Do you have any fun plans?
We're headed to visit family and have a sprinkle in honor of our baby BOY!!
Tune back in next week for all of the details :)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Baby Boy: Weeks 29-32

Time for my monthly pregnancy update:

Week 29 – acorn squash – January 25:
I had a good doctor’s visit this week.  Baby is looking great.  He’s till head down and growing right on track.  My blood pressure and lab work is all looking good so I don’t have to go back for two weeks.

I’ve started taking 30 minute power naps many days a week because I feel so sleepy by the time afternoon hits.  Thankfully Olive usually takes a solid 2 hour nap so I get work done for the first part of her nap and then take a quick nap for the end of her nap. 

We did some more house hunting this week and are making great progress.
I’m eating lots of cereal for snacks and meals.  We’re also trying to snack on fruits and veggies.

Week 30 – cucumber – February 1:
It’s getting harder to find a comfy position to sleep in these days.  My belly seems to have hit a growth spurt and I find myself feeling a draft as it’s poking out the bottom of my shirts.  My hair is growing like crazy thanks to these prenatal vitamins. 

All the desserts are sounding good to me.  I’m still monitoring my blood pressure daily and it’s much lower so I’m hoping to stop that soon.

Olive is very interested in my belly.  She lifts up my shirt and says things like, “Let me snuggle that baby!”  She’s good at helping me pick up stuff that I drop which seems to be more of a regular occurrence.  My reflexes aren’t great right now and I’m feeling super clumsy.

I’m still hitting my 9,000 step goal most days which makes me happy.  We finalized details for a little baby sprinkle at the end of the month with family and friends.  I’m looking forward to celebrating Fletcher with everyone.  

Week 31 – pineapple – February 8:
My gums are feeling super sensitive and bleeding easily.  It’s harder to get comfy in bed and my heart burn is back.  It seems to happen regardless of what I eat so I’m just taking tums and drinking lots of water.  My belly is feeling tight and crampy regularly.  I’m clumsier than ever and seem to drop things all day long.  I’ve started planning my errands around bathroom stops and have to go all the time.  Pregnancy is so glamorous!
Kevin says my belly has changed shape.  I’ve carried lower than I ever did with Olive and Fletcher seems to have dropped.  He’s head down so all of those are good signs for labor.  My blood pressure is staying low high (low for me, but high in general) so that’s good.

Strangers are commenting on my pregnancy and asking questions – boy or girl, due date and other random things.

Week 32 – squash – February 15:
Someone asked me my due date and when I told them they said, “Wow, you’ve still got a long way to go!”  She acted shocked because I guess I was looking huge to her.  Thanks for the confidence booster.

Olive keeps giving my belly check ups, talking to baby brother and tells me that baby brother is in her belly.  She calls him Fletcher and says he’s so cuuuuuuute.  She also likes to tell me that baby Fletcher is in her belly.  She lifts up her shirt to try to convince me.

Kevin informed me that my hour glass figure is disappearing with my growing baby bump.  He thought it was a nice thing to say – like our baby boy is getting so big isn't that exciting - but it made me feel huuuuuuge.  So I let him know that wasn’t my favorite thing to hear at this point in my pregnancy.  I think he got the message and will be rewording his "compliments" for next time.

I’m craving cereal, ice cream and all of the sugary candy I can get my hands on.  I wake up in the middle of the night and feel like I’m STARVING.  I get up at least once a night to pee, but am sleeping pretty well overall.  I try to squeeze in a few naps during the week when Olive goes down for a nap.  I’ve also been trying to get to bed around 11:00 every day which has helped me not feel so tired.

Pregnancy with Olive

My 33rd week of pregnancy is going well.  I have a big doctor's visit this week to measure and give an update on how Fletcher is growing and my usual well check.  Then we're headed home for a baby sprinkle in our honor!  I'm excited to see family & friends and get to celebrate Fletcher with everyone.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Worth Reading

We pulled out our Easter books after a very Spring like few days in Indiana.  It was wonderful and we've enjoyed reading our favorite Easter/bunny themed books.  These are our kid friendly reading recommendations for the month :) 

I've got a great collection of blog posts, books and articles to share with you today
that are all WORTH READING.

I loved Jennifer's post #sorrynotsorry : Parenting Edition detailing all of the areas where she compromises, makes sacrifices and loves on her kids without apologies.  It's a great read that I'm sure many of you could relate to.

 I mentioned last week that we tried our first attempt at making smoothie bowls.  They were delicious so I'm intrigued by this Banana Smoothie Bowl.  It looks so refreshing and tasty.

Let's Gift Them with Childhood was a post by Elizabeth that made me cry.  It's a great reminder about how silly it is to expect perfection from your kids and to give them the gift of being little.  A sweet story that makes me remember to treasure the joys of childhood with my kids and not expect them to be tiny adults.

Hilari shared her mom's most requested recipe for Mrs. Schae Bars recently and they look amazing.  What's not to love about a treat that has chocolate, pretzels, peanut butter, marshmallows and chex in it??

 Thank heavens for free printables on-line.  I tried to reinvent the wheel and make my own favor tags.  I wasn't happy with the end product and was thrilled to find these Simple Favor Tags.  I found these gems for my chocolate dipped pretzel favors that I'm doing for my sprinkle this week.  I printed them in navy and they're adorable.  It's so nice when talented people are generous with their designs.

I have yet to learn how to sew, but I love the idea of these Quilted Hexagon Coasters by Elise.  They look doable, functional and are really cute.  Maybe one day...

I loved teaching cursive handwriting when I was teaching 3rd grade in Utah.  My students loved learning it and caught on quickly.  I'm always intrigued about how each school and district decides to teach cursive and who finds it a necessary skill and who does not.  I think it should definitely be taught, learned and kids should be able to read it so it was fun to see this article on Politicians Refusing to Let Cursive Die.  What are your thoughts on the importance of cursive handwriting today??

Put down that Poptart and Make these Grab and Go Oatmeals instead!  Jessica shared this yummy recipe and I think it would make a great, easy breakfast option for my family.  Can't wait to try them.

7 Ways to Give Your Children a Fierce Love for Jesus was a good reminder from Kelly on how to get your kids involved and loving church at an early age.  She's such a light in this world and I love seeing how she teaches her family about God from such an early age.

I've got St. Patrick's Day on the brain lately and am so excited to make some rainbow treats.  Rainbow jello is one of my favorites with rainbow cupcakes a close second.  Do you make any fun treats for St. Patty's Day??

I enjoy this blog called Super Healthy Kids and was really intrigued by their Freezer Smoothie Packs.  They prepackage everything you need for a smoothie so it's ready to be dumped in a blender.  I love this idea and am hoping to get lots of these smoothie packs made before baby boy arrives in a few weeks.

This was a good read on Easing the Transition to a Toddler Bed since we'll be moving Olive to a big bed in the coming weeks.  I think we're going to have to come up with our own formula for success, but it was interesting to read their tips for making the transition go smoothly.

I loved this Rainbow Water Experiment that Andrea did with her kids.  It would be perfect for St. Patrick's Day and she's always got the best teacher mom ideas that are really doable.
I just finished Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington and it was WONDERFUL!

I flew threw the book and took notes all throughout.  Sometimes I have trouble making time to sit and read, but not with this book.  I was eager to read each new chapter.  I loved her style of writing and the way she made her life so relatable.  She is a hard working mom with a sweet husband raising FIVE boys so she knows all about the pressures of being busy.  I loved her biblical perspective on a life well lived and how you should be a good steward of your time.  Being busy is no way to live a life.  Worthington makes you rethink your own capacity, your schedule, your priorities and what you commit to spending your time doing.  She emphasizes the importance of self care, a healthy relationship with God, delegating tasks, recharging ourselves and embracing different things during different seasons of your life.  It was all music to my ears and I learned a lot from this book.  There are action steps at the end of each chapter that help you process everything and reevaluate your own habits.  I'd highly recommend this book to anyone especially if you're feeling controlled by your calendar or all of your obligations.  You'll thank me later :)
 * I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

My favorite quotes from the book were:  
"Embracing the season of life we are in and the limitations that come with it helps us break busy and live life at a saner, more sustainable pace."  pg 35

Her nightly bedtime routine: "I snuggle up with one of them at a time, we listen to a song, read a short book and talk about the day.  I always insist on hearing three things that they are grateful for or at least three things they were happy about that day." pg 53

"God buried treasure inside each of us.  Our gifts, our strengths, our passions.  What we do with the gifts is up to us."  pg 69

"Worry is our attempt to control the future." pg 111

"Expectations - sometimes put on us by others, and sometimes ones we put on ourselves - have to be managed well to break the cycle of busy in our lives." pg 136

Have you read or written anything you've loved this month??
Share the link with me in the comments.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuesday Talk: 10 Ideas for a Wonderful Winter with Kids

It's easy for me to become a homebody when winter rolls around.

I love the cold weather, but it can be exhausting to bundle up myself and my toddler in order to get out and go.  I've found that my daughter and I are the happiest when we've got a mix of fun things to do at home and plans that get us out and about.  So we run errands, have appointments and make sure to schedule some kid friendly, fun activities into our weeks.  It's harder to do in the winter time because the weather seems to change so much, but we've figured out 10 ways to ensure that we make time for fun.

10 Fun Ideas for the Winter Months

1. Embrace the weather.
If it's snowing, play out in the snow.  If it's cold, bundle up and go for a stroller ride.  If the weather is terrible, take advantage of all the fun things you have to do inside at your house.  In Indiana the weather seems to change so much each week that we just try to be flexible in making our plans.  We had temps in the 60s last weekend so we grilled, played in the backyard and side walk chalked.  Now we've got some rain and snow in the forecast for later this week.  We'll probably splash in some puddles and play in the snow when it arrives.

2. Plan play dates with friends.
Rotate houses, rotate who brings snacks and get together regularly to break up the days.  It's fun to have a schedule for play dates and I usually try to plan on having at least one each week.  The play dates I plan usually involve me texting some friends, tidying up the house a bit and then just letting the kids play with the toys we have out.  Nothing fancy, no planned activities, just time for the kids to play with their friends and the adults to visit with one another.  I think it would be fun to have a theme - playdoh, holidays, legos, art, etc - so that might be something for me to try next month.

3. Take advantage of the FREE programs in your community.
Our library has a few story times every week, a music class once a month and the art museum does kid friendly art classes once a week.  All of these are free and so much fun.  I pencil them all into our calendar for the week and just attend the ones that end up working best for our schedule.  Look for mom groups and local websites to advertise the free events going on in your community.

4. Eat at local spots.
Try new food spots or plan to meet friends at local spots.  We got donuts with friends and then headed to the library a few weeks ago.  It was a delicious date that we all enjoyed.  This is a fun one when you're learning to love a new city or if you're trying to find new favorite spots around town.  We keep a running list of places we'd like to try or places that people recommend to us.

5. Family Passes.
Check out the options for family passes at your local Children's Museum or Zoo.  We've heard great things about our Children's Museum and it's definitely more affordable to buy a family pass than to pay each visit.  So I'm hoping we can add this to our list of fun options in the near future.

6. Free Animal Sightings.
Our Petco is always stocked with animals, our grocery stores have fish tanks and Rural King has a fresh supply of all of their Spring animals.  These are all free options and my toddler LOVES strolling through these stores to check out the animals.  We always visit the fish tanks and the lobster tanks when we get groceries and then try to work in some other animal sightings.

7. Lunch Dates.
We try to plan a couple of lunch dates a month and will often swing by my husband's office to pick him up for lunch.  Nothing super fancy, but something quick and easy to get us all out of our normal routine.  We usually end up at Jimmy Johns because it's easy and always a crowd pleaser.  My toddler is really into having picnics lately so even just putting a blanket on the floor and eating your usual food picnic style is wildly entertaining to kiddos.

8. Arts & Crafts.
Pinterest is chocked full of winter activities - painting in the snow, collect snow to bring inside and play with in a large container, snowman building, etc.  Or you can go the easier route and pull out crayons, give your kids cardboard boxes to decorate or do some finger painting.  We also do stickers, stamps, markers, etc that I just pull out and give our daughter blank paper to create with.  No specific project in mind, just some free time with fun art supplies.  I save our diaper boxes and my toddler calls them rocket ships.  She will sit in those silly boxes for hours decorating it, using her imagination and loving it.  We also try to do holiday arts and crafts activities where we make cards to send to family and friends or where we make decorations to hang up around the house.  She's always so proud to have her art on display.  Playdoh is always a fun option and it isn't really that messy once you set up some ground rules (must play with it at the table, no throwing, no eating :) and a set amount of time to play).

9. Bake together.
Practice counting, measuring and trying new recipes with your kiddos.  You can work on snacks, baked goods or meal prep with them.  Almost any recipe can be modified for tiny helpers and then it's so fun to share your goodies with neighbors or friends.

10. Scope out your local indoor options for kids and GO!
Our city has a great bounce house that opens for a discount during the week, an indoor pool option, play place at Chick-Fil-A, Children's Museum, Art Museum, indoor sports fields and more.  Since we're new to the area I ask around and try to find out the toddler friendly options for us to try out.  Ask the moms in your area to share their favorite indoor spots with you.  We went to a college basketball game this past weekend and had a great time as a family.

What fun things do you do with your kids in the winter??

PS Have you entered the $75 PinkBlush gift card giveaway I'm hosting this week??
Head over here to enter

It's time to link up with my favorite Tuesday Talk Ladies this week.
Join us with your favorite recent post.  
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Polka-Dotty Place