Friday, January 29, 2021

Friday Faves

Happy Friday!  Hope you've had a wonderful week.  I'm excited to be wrapping up January.  It felt like a l-o-n-g first month of the year.  Bring on all the hearts and love for February. 

We got SNOW in Indiana this week.  Normally we've had a big snow or two by this time of the year and this year the snow has missed us.  The kids got home from school on Wednesday and the snow started.  We ended up with a couple of inches and it was lovely!  It was even enough for a snow day from school.  Yay!  We maybe even get some more snow this weekend.

Let me tell you all about my faves from the week!

1. Snowman for Breakfast

The kids loved making their own snowmen for breakfast.  Look at that cute bacon scarf!

2.  SNOW!

We all loved playing in it and it was so pretty.  The big kids were totally bundled up and this was Leo's first snow to play in.  I'd say he's a fan as long as we keep the sled moving and don't ask him to sit still for too long.

Snow Day 1:

Fletcher in 2016 & Leo in 2021.  Cutest little snow bears!

Leo loved crawling around in the snow!  He would have loved it even more if it wasn't snowing in his eyes.  We just couldn't wait to get out and play.

Snow Day 2:

We layered up a little more and enjoyed the sunshine.

3. Chick-Fil-A date

Fletcher and I went through the drive thru and grabbed some chicken minis for breakfast one day this week.  It was so fun and delicious.  Don't you love when you've got reward points built up for free stuff!?!  He loved sitting up front with me.  I'm trying to soak up all the sweet moments of having him home before he heads off to kindergarten in the Fall.

4. Penny & Pearl

The kittens had some procedures done this week so we worked extra hard to take good care of them.  They got tons of pampering and loads of love.  They were so happy to be home and extra purry.

5. Silly Safari.

We went with some friends to a Silly Safari brunch at our country club.  The food was delicious and the kids got to see some really cool animals.  They didn't hesitate to pet any of them.  The host was really funny and silly.

6. Captain Chaos

Leo is into everything!  He's dumping baskets of toys and emptying drawers any chance he gets.

7. Playgrounds

I've been trying hard to bundle everyone up and go to the playgrounds year round.  We went to one of our favorites with a couple of friends.  It was lots of fun!

8. Mom & Me

Fletcher has been sad at school drop off several mornings lately.  I hate dropping him off like that, but every day at pick up he tells me he had a GREAT DAY!  And his teachers assure me that he perks up once he gets to his classroom.  He told me that when he missed me, he just turns over his work paper and draws a picture of "Me and Mommy".  He's so sweet!


I'm looking forward to a fun weekend at home with no big plans :

Linking up with Momfessionals

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

What's Up Wednesday

Happy middle of the week!  It's nice to be wrapping up January.  Somehow it's gone quickly and slowly for me.  We're still hoping for some snow in Indiana and just plugging away with school and life.

I've always wanted to join in the fun of these What's Up Wednesday prompts!  So these are all the things we'd probably chat about if we went out for coffee this morning.  

 Let's go... I tried to link everything I could at the bottom of the post!


What I'm excited about...

Picking up the kittens this morning!  Penny & Pearl had some procedures done and because of scheduling at the vet's office they had to spend two nights there.  We've missed them terribly.  I can't wait to see them and take care of them when we get home.


What I'm reminiscing about...

Days of not wearing masks, not having so many restrictions/rules and seeing friends whenever we want.  We are missing so many of our routines - children's museum, science classes, library story times, music class and fun with friends.  I also miss volunteering at my kid's schools.  I'm thankful their schools are open, but it's so strange to not be in the schools this year.

What I'm loving...

Dreaming up holiday plans for Valentine's Day.  All that holiday stuff seems to get picked over so quickly so I've already grabbed mine.  I've gotten candy for the kids, a little toy and book for each and then a Valentine for Kev.  I'm hoping to do some cute holiday heart food for my family, too.  Stay tuned for a treat charcuterie board and lots of heart shaped waffles!


What I'm eating...

Tons of veggies!  I'm really trying hard to snack on veggies, add veggies to every meal as well as meal prep to ensure my family is eating colorful, healthy foods, too.  I did a big Aldi shopping trip earlier this week to stock up on all the produce for meals, snacks, smoothies and bananas for banana ice cream.


What We've been up to...

Reading!  I'm currently reading Awaking Wonder: Opening Your Child's Heart to the Beauty of Learning by Sally Clarkson and the kids are having reading time every afternoon (Olive reads independently at age 7 and Fletcher age 4 has a big stack of interactive books that he loves to look at and do during reading time).  

I ordered them Little Blue Truck's Valentine because we're big Little Blue Truck fans.  I also ordered them Tiny T-Rex and the Impossible Hug.  It's darling!

I am also working through a few different devotions this year - Jesus Always and New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp.


What We are doing this weekend...

Taking it easy and taking care of the kittens.  We're also hoping to get some SNOW!  I'm guessing the kids will be wanting to craft, bake something together and hang out in their new sleeping bags.  They are thrilled to have big kid sleeping bags!  They also got to each pick out their own color/print.  There are lots of color options for a great price.


What I'm watching...

I started watching my own shows in the evenings sometime last year.  I have loved ignoring my social media and finding great shows to get lost in once the kids go to bed.  Some of my recent favorites have been:

Hart of Dixie

The Crown

The Royal House of Windsor

Diana: In Her Own Words

Anne with an E is what I'm currently watching

I'd highly recommend all of these.  I tried to start The Queen's Gambit, but it seemed too dark.  Have you seen it??


What I'm listening to...

I have a few different Spotify playlists that I rotate between - Workout music, 2021 Favorites and I'm enjoying Morgan Wallen's new album.  My favorite song is Still Goin Down


What I'm working on...

Dreaming up some fun travel and adventures in 2021.  We bought an Indiana State Park pass for Christmas.  We're hoping to explore several new parks, dreaming of a beach trip and wondering if we'll be able to make any other fun adventures happen.  I hope so!


What I'm wearing...

I live in these CRZ yoga pants from Amazon.  I ordered them for my birthday in the black leopard print.  They're so affordable, have pockets on the thighs and have held up really well for exercise and lounging.  They are high waisted, do not fall down throughout the day and I'd highly recommend them.  I would say to size down if you want a more compression type fit.  I usually wear an XL and love the L in these.  I have my eye on the camo, tie dye and other leopard options.

Linking up with Mix and Match Mama for What's Up Wednesday

My Amazon affiliate links to my favorites:

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Aldi vs Walmart

I have a fun post for you today: Aldi vs Walmart.

I mentioned before that I'm focusing on lots of specific things this year and lowering our grocery bills is one of those.  I love Walmart grocery pick up for the convenience, but I know I could be saving more by shopping at Aldi.  Kroger, Meijer and a local grocery chain are the pricier shopping options in my city.  Walmart and Aldi are definitely more budget friendly.  We also have Sams.

Where do you do the bulk of your grocery shopping?

I ran into Aldi yesterday to do a quick restock of all of our favorite fresh produce.

I was interested to know how my Aldi bill of $46.47 would compare to Walmart.

I came home and plugged all of my items into a Walmart pick up order to see what the total would be.  My Walmart order totaled out to $60.22.  That's a savings of about $14 by going to Aldi instead of Walmart.  Yay!!  I know $14 isn't TONS, but if it's $14+ every week for a year, that would add up to a savings of $728+!!!  Yay!  And the savings would have been even more drastic if I'd been purchasing a full week's worth of groceries.

The side by side comparison of items and prices is really motivating for me to continue making Aldi part of my regular shopping routine again.

Where could you cut down your grocery budget each week?

Leo & Mom shopping for the family.  I try to do quick grocery runs and errands when the big kids are at school.  And yes, this is Leo's face anytime I am wearing a mask.  He hates them.  Won't smile or interact with anyone with a mask on.  Poor baby.  I can't wait until masks are just a distant memory.


Grocery Haul: Mostly produce.  The restaurant style tortilla chips are just $0.79 at my store right now!!  They're almost $4 a bag for Tostitos.  Ziploc bags are also so much cheaper at Aldi.  This box of 50 quart size bags was just $1.89.  That big bag of pears was marked down to $2.69

I tried these as a Lara Bar comparable option.  They are disgusting.  So dry.  Such an odd flavor.  Do not buy if you're hoping for them to taste anything like a delicious, chewy Lara Bar.  I'm returning these.

Another big money saver is baking items - flour, sugar, brown sugar, etc.  I really like the Aldi versions and stock up when I'm running low.  I made Kevin cinnamon rolls yesterday :)

And if you're new to Aldi, you can save big on cheese, produce, canned goods, pastas, meats, pouches of fruit, snacks, etc.  Yay for saving money!

Monday, January 25, 2021

Charcuterie Board Guide

It's no secret, my family loves charcuterie boards.

They are probably our most requested, fun meal.

I include everyone's favorite finger foods and have figured out how to do they pretty affordably.  I'm going to keep sharing them with you this year and hope you'll be inspired to make one for your family or friends.

Charcuterie Tips:

1. Shop at Aldi for your cheeses, crackers, jams, mustards, pickles and olives.  These items are so much cheaper there.  You can also get meat there, but I have yet to find an Aldi salami that we LOVE.

2. Use this meal as the perfect opportunity to use up all those little bits of food you have left in your fridge or pantry.  Finish off pretzel bags, the last clementine, one last apple, etc.  Let no food go to waste.

3. Don't feel the need to buy tons of meat and cheese.  I went with our favorite three meats and cheeses for these boards.  Fill you board with lots of good foods - meats, cheeses, fruits, veggies, nuts, salty snacks and treats.  The more variety the better.

4. Our lazy susan giant round charcuterie board is our favorite.  The kids love that it spins which allows them to slowly spin the board to get what they want.  They are very pricey online.  Tip: Check the cutting board/kitchen section at TJ Maxx type stores.  I found this one for about $20 and it's HUGE.  It would have easily cost $50 online.  

5. If you buy the ingredients to make a charcuterie board, plan to have it for 2 dinners and maybe a lunch or two.  This will ensure that your ingredients do not go bad before you can use them.  We'll often have it for dinner one night, switch to a different dinner the next night and then back to charcuterie the next.  My crew is usually more excited to eat leftovers if they are not served two nights in a row.

We did charcuterie board dinners for New Year's Eve.  It was really fun!  We also wore our pjs and stayed in.  I'd highly recommend that for any dinner with your crew.  

Dinner #1: 3 meats, 3 cheeses and tons of other stuff.  I made a loaf of homemade Crusty Bread and we tried adding apricot preserves to the board.  So good!  We tried Havarti cheese and it got mixed reviews.  The family still loves extra sharp white cheddar and regular cheeses.

We love these metal condiment cups.  I use them for pickles, olives, mustard and jams or jellies.

Dinner #2: I served the rest of loaf of crusty bread, added pomegranates to the board, DOTS pretzels and a colorful mix of other things.  I also served it on a different board to reinforce the idea that it was a yummy, different meal than we had the first night.

We recently discovered these Old Wisconsin Snack Sticks.  We love the turkey sausage sticks.  The whole family likes them.  I've been putting them in the kid's lunchboxes.  We love them for snacks, lunches and for charcuterie boards.  They're around $4 a bag.  I've found them at Meijer and Walmart.

Would your family like a charcuterie board for dinner?


Here are a couple of Amazon affiliate links to our charcuterie favorites.  

These are the exact condiment cups we love and the exact wooden tray with a rim on it that I used for dinner #2.  We love both of them.  I love this Lodge dutch oven for making crusty bread.  It's wonderful for that and soups or stews. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Highlights of the Week

Happy Friday!  I hope you've had a good week.  

It feels like a heavy week with all the political drama playing out and continued election coverage.  I did my best to not spend too much time on social media and find fun things to do elsewhere.  The arguing and negativity was not good for me.  I'm not sure what the next 4 years have in store for us, but I know God has big plans for our country.  I know that when life feels uncertain, I can double my efforts to pray for our country and pray for my kid's futures.  I'll continue to vote for the candidates I feel will do the best job and use my voice to stand up for what I believe in.  Just like I've done since I was 18.  I love the saying - The Best is Yet to Come.  I hope and pray that's true for all of us!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Now onto the best parts of our week:

Snow // We got a dusting or two of snow this past week.  It was so pretty!  When we looked out the windows, it looked like a real life snow globe.  I made the kids snowmen for lunch :)  I love fun lunches like these because I didn't buy anything special - just used all the ingredients I had on hand to make a fun lunch.  The kids loved them. Now we are craving a BIG snow.

Baby Chair // Leo got this baby chair for Christmas and he's obsessed with it.  He knows it's his, loves to crawl up in it and uses it as a stepping stool to get what he wants.  The quality of this chair is great - the firm foam, size of it and material has all been great.  The cover also comes off if you wanted to wash it.  I'll link it at the bottom of this post.  PS Leo is wearing one of my favorite Fletcher hand me down outfits.

Tulips // Kevin surprised me with grocery store flowers this week.  I smile every time I see them on the kitchen counter.  They make me eager to decorate for Valentine's Day.

School Day // I'm so thankful that the kids have the opportunity to go back to school in person.  They both love it so much and are learning tons.  Bonus: We get to see the prettiest sunrises with our early starts to the day.

Winter Gear // I'm sticking to my plan of bundling up and the kids outside year round.  I made sure we were all dressed warm and headed to meet some friends at the park this week.

Exercise // I worked out every day this week and most days this month!  Yay!  I'm loving having a treadmill at home.  Cute workout clothes help motivate me to exercise.

Square Donuts // I made an early morning donut run and got all of our favorites.  The kids had the day off and loved having donuts.

My sister and her kids came up to visit.  They got to meet the kittens, eat tons of donuts with us and the kids played.  Yay for long weekends and cute cousins.

The kittens got lots of attention :)

Hair & Nails //  My sister brought up her Dyson Air Wrap up for me to try.  She's been raving about it for months.  She styled my hair and that was fabulous.  I always love having my hair done by someone else.  The Dyson gives you crazy volume, curls for days and it works fast.  This was day two slept on hair.  I was impressed.  I'm adding it to my wish list and waiting for a big sale on it.

She also introduced me to CND Vinylux nail polish.  I'm so impressed with it.  I polished my nails - two coats of the base coat and one top coat on Monday evening and they still look great today.  I've done all my usual activities and chores and they've held up.  I can't wait to buy some more colors. This is the color Winter Glow. 

I'll include a link to both at the bottom of this post. 

Kittens // Penny & Pearl are the cuddliest girls.  They nap together all day long and they love to help me with things like laundry.

Blue Bell Ice Cream // This is our favorite kind of ice cream.  The kids think it's such a treat to eat the individual sized cups.  We add whatever toppings they want and they are so happy.  I'd highly recommend them.  They come in a pack of six vanilla and six chocolate cups.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!!  We have a mix of fun plans and relaxing :)


In case you missed it this week:

4 Healthy Meal Planning Tips & Tricks

10 Ingredient Protein Bites

Sweet Ways to Remember a Pet


Linking up with Momfessionals

Amazon Affiliate links.  Thanks for shopping with me and supporting PDP!