The Adventure Starts Here

Friday, February 5, 2016

Five on Friday

Happy Friday!    Another week of Chris working late and never knowing if Noah will nap or not!  I am definitely looking forward to the weekend.  I'm excited to take Noah to another Home Depot Kids Workshop... they are making Valentine Mailboxes this month!  I'm also pretty excited about the Super Bowl.  While I don't really care who wins and have no clue if Noah will even be awake for it (he falls asleep so early without a nap!), I am excited for some delicious food and the halftime show.  Chris isn't as enthusiastic about the lineup, but I really like Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Beyonce!  So while we wait for the weekend to officially begin, here's a random "five on Friday" to entertain you ;)

One

This past weekend I made a scone recipe that I found here.  I did end up buying a pastry cutter in order to make it, but let me tell you that it was totally worth it!  These scones are amazing and super simple to make :)


Two

While we already made our "big" Valentine's Day craft for the year, I thought it would be fun to do another (and simpler) before the big day.  Noah is obsessed with using scissors, so I decided to let him go at it cutting different colored squares of construction paper.  I then drew a heart onto card stock and wrote "I Love You To Pieces" on the top.  He then took some glue (his second favorite thing) and glued all the pieces of construction paper inside the heart.  He loved it and the final product turned out really cute!


Three

Today we are going to a little Valentine's Day party with some of Noah's friends.  The kids will be decorating sugar cookies, and I offered to make and bring enough for everyone :)  Yesterday morning, while Noah was in school, I made the dough and baked a bunch of hearts.  I used this sugar cookie recipe and these cookie cutters.  


Four

Last weekend, the three of us met up with some friends to go bowling.  This was our second year doing this and I really hope that it becomes an annual tradition.  You can read all about Noah's first time bowling here.  Noah loves hanging out with Maddie (our friend's daughter) and the two of them got along so well at the bowling alley and at dinner afterwards.  We were bummed though that the bowling alley gave us wrong information about the leagues (when Chris called earlier that week) meaning we couldn't bowl for as long as we would have liked to.  We were also disappointed that the ramps were all being used.  Noah and Maddie made the best of it and had a blast!  I definitely think I want to do a bowling birthday party for Noah this fall!




Five

And just in case you missed them, I shared quite a few delicious recipes and crafts this week...

Monday - My Favorite Breakfast Smoothie


Have a fantastic weekend!

I'm linking up with The Farmer's Wife and September Farm for "Oh Hey Friday"!


I'm also linking up with A. Liz Adventures for "Five on Friday".


*Some affiliate links were used.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Toddler Crafts | Valentine's Day "LOVE" Canvas

I'm back today with another painting/canvas art project today.  I think this would make an awesome Valentine's Day gift from a child to either a parent or a grandparent.  Noah decided he wanted to give the one he made to daddy, saying that he would "tell daddy I love him, and give him two hugs" :)  And in case you are worried that we just ruined the surprise for him, Noah was so excited that he decided to give it to him early.  


For this project, I used an 11x14 canvas.  (I found them on sale, a set of 7 for $12.99, at Michaels). I then took some washi tape to spell out the L, V, and E.  

Crafting Tip: To make the heart, I've come up with a new method, that in my humble opinion is rather genius!  I honestly can't believe I hadn't thought of this earlier since we use contact paper quite a bit over here.  You take your contact paper (the clear sticky stuff we used to cover text books with), draw whatever image you want, in this case a heart, and then cut it out.  You stick it onto the canvas, and even though it's clear, it acts the same as the washi tape and "resists the paint".    


Once I had "LOVE" positioned the way I wanted, I gave the canvas to Noah and squirted some red, pink, and purple paint on a paper plate for him.  Then I just let him have fun and paint all over the canvas.  

Crafting tip: I am all for an easy clean up, so I use paper plates and cover Noah's table with kraft paper.   That way when we are finished I just scoop up the "tablecloth" and throw everything in the trash.   



Once everything was covered, I thought it would be fun to add some of his handprints.  Usually I use fingerprint to do this, but since I wanted them to stand out, I used the white tempura paint I had on hand (I only have finger paint in red, blue, green, and yellow).  In order to get 4 handprints, I had to reapply the white paint to his hand twice.  I just have him stretch out his fingers and paint it on using a paintbrush.  

Crafting tip:  Have wipes nearby to clean up their hands.  I still recommend washing their hands with soap and water in the sink, but this way you avoid paint getting on your clothes, furniture, or walls as they walk to the sink.


A few hours later and everything was dry.  I removed the tape and the contact paper, and while there was a little paint bleeding through, I am thrilled with how it turned out!  I can't wait to add this to Noah's play room gallery wall along with his snowflake canvas :)


I am linking up with a bunch of my blogging friends (Work it Mommy//Tickled Pink//Sweet Turtle Soup//Our Pretty Little Girls) for their Teaching Together Blog Hop.

Tickled Pink

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Game Day Snacking | #GameDayGlory

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GameDayGlory #CollectiveBias


Are you ready for the Big Game on Sunday???  I would have to say this is one of my husband's favorite days!  He's a huge sports fan and, since he was a marketing major, he's equally obsessed with all the commercials.  As for me, I like any excuse to whip up some delicious snacks, spend some time as a family, and I have to admit I'm pretty excited for the half time show this year!  

Even though we won't be hosting a party this year, I still want to make it a special event and serve some delicious food.  Who says you have to save the special stuff for big parties!?!  I'm all about serving appetizer type dishes that don't require a fork and knife. Give me some TOSTITOS® Scoops, TOSTITOS® Chunky Salsa, and a few dips, and I'm a happy girl. I've always preferred a variety of appetizers over a real meal any day!  One of my family's go to dips is so delicious, but more importantly, ridiculously easy to make.  It's kind of embarrassing when guests ask for the recipe, because I don't think it can technically be considered a "recipe".  You take a can of chili (I use the kind without beans) and a stick of cream cheese.  Throw the two into a pan and cook until they melt together.  I personally like a few chunks of cream cheese left, but that's up to you ;)  Serve warm with some TOSTITOS® chips and you are good to go!  


But since the Big Game only happens once a year, I like to make it a little extra special. That's why I decided to make a sweet and salty snack in the form of SNICKERS® Popcorn!  I'm in love with this popcorn because it basically combines a bunch of my favorite snacks and flavors... freshly popped popcorn, peanuts, caramel, and of course SNICKERS®!  And once I teach you how to make your own popcorn, you will never want to have microwave popcorn again!  It's really delicious with just butter and salt, but the SNICKERS® just takes it to another level!  


SNICKERS® Popcorn

Ingredients:
1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
vegetable oil - enough to line the bottom of the pan
12 bars of SNICKERS® FUN SIZE® (original), chopped
1/2-3/4 cup salted peanuts
1/2 cup of caramel sauce

Directions:

Unwrap all your SNICKERS® FUN SIZE® bars.  Chop each bar into 8 bite size pieces.

To make the popcorn, line the bottom of your saucepan with some vegetable oil.  I used about a 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels to make a large bowl of popcorn.  A good rule of thumb is to put in as many kernels to make a single layer on the bottom of your pan.  Place the lid on the pot, and start cooking the kernels (on medium-high heat) while constantly shaking the pot back and forth across the burner.  This prevents the popcorn from sticking to the bottom and burning.  Within a few minutes you will start to hear the popcorn popping.  If you have a glass lid you will also see the popcorn popping.  You may need to hold the lid on the pot to make sure the kernels don't fall out.  Though Noah said that his absolute favorite part was when the popcorn was about to overflow ;)


Once the popping stops, pour the popcorn into a bowl.  At this point you could add some salt and melt some butter (in the same pot) to drizzle over your popcorn for some traditional movie style popcorn.  OR you can continue and make your popcorn extra special!

Add the cut up SNICKERS® and peanuts to the bowl and mix together.  Then spread the popcorn mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Drizzle some warm caramel sauce all over the popcorn mixture and let it set and cool.  I simply warmed up some store bought caramel sauce (the ice cream topping kind) in a sauce pan over low heat, but you could also get fancy and make your own.

Once cool, pour the popcorn back into the bowl and serve!



If you are planning your own Big Game party, or just plan to eat while watching it, Walmart is the place to go! It's the perfect place to grab all your supplies... TOSTITOS® Scoops Party Size, TOSTITOS® Medium Chunky Salsa, SNICKERS® FUN SIZE® Variety 35 oz., Skittles® XL 41 oz., and Diet Pepsi™ 12 oz. 12 pack.    You and your guests will love the variety of sweet and salty snacks!   You can also find some more delicious recipes here.


Have a happy game day... even if you are only in it for the food :)


And as much as I love serving a delicious spread, some people just take it to an amazing level and I can't help but be impressed! Have you ever heard of a snack stadium? People will create a "stadium" to serve all their snacks in... and some of them are pretty spectacular! Well now you can learn how to make your own and vote for your favorite snack stadium which enters your in the #gamedayglorysweepstakes for a chance to win a $100 Walmart eGift card or Xbox One! And if you just so happen to be one of these talented people, please share your own snack stadium on Instagram using "#gamedayglorysweepstakes".

Game Day Glory Sweepstakes

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Easy Mexican Tortilla Soup and a Dessert Perfect for Valentine's Day

Winter is in full gear over here.  We had our first major (and it really was major) snow storm of the year and so many cold days that all I want to do is stay inside.  This is the time of year when I want to have warm, filling dinners with classic flavors.  When I had this soup at my friend's house at New Year's, I knew I wanted the recipe so I could make it at home.  I really appreciate having a friend who is an amazing chef and is happy to share recipes :)

I am by no means recreating the wheel over here.  If you search for Mexican Tortilla Soups on Pinterest, you will find hundreds of recipes.  What I personally liked about this one is that it's not crazy spicy (I can't take the heat) and that it's relativity quick to make.  While I love my slow cooker, sometimes I don't want to have to wait all day for dinner to be ready.  This soup took me less than 45 minutes to make start to finish, including chopping time (thanks again to my handy dandy vegetable chopper!).   Not only is it possible to make during the week, but the recipe will make enough for you to enjoy delicious leftovers! 


Easy Mexican Tortilla Soup
(adapted from original recipe from food.com)

Ingredients:

1 large white onion
4 garlic cloves, minced OR I just used minced garlic from the jar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bell pepper, chopped (I used red)
1(28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
4 cups chicken broth
1(10 ounce) bag frozen corn
1(15 ounce) can black beans
1 (14 ounce) can chickpeas
1 lb shredded cooked chicken

Optional Toppings:
tortilla chips
1⁄2sliced avocado
1 lime
8 ounces shredded monterey jack cheese
sour cream

Directions:

Cook and shred 1 lb chicken. There are many ways to do this, but I boiled it. I placed the chicken breasts into a pot of cold water. I then boiled the water, and cooked for 10 minutes at a rapid boil. I then took two forks and shredded the breasts by hand.
Dice onion and pepper, and mince garlic (if using fresh).
Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft, add peppers halfway through.
Stir in chili powder, oregano, paprika, tomatoes, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir in corn, chickpeas, black beans, and chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Serve with tortilla chips, and optional toppings such as avocado, limes, shredded monterey jack cheese, or sour cream.


^^^ an while I love adding cheese and sour cream to my soup, you could make this dairy free by eliminating those toppings.  You could even make this vegetarian by leaving out the chicken... the beans will still make it filling :)

The only thing better than having a warm and filling soup for dinner is enjoying a cookie or two for dessert!  These chocolate chocolate chip cookies are amazing.  Another friend brought these over for a Christmas party and I was immediately hooked!  Since it's a chocolate cookie with chocolate chips, these are rich cookies and you will totally be satisfied with just one or two.  I also think these cookies would be perfect for Valentine's Day!  I know that many people go the route of red, pink, or heart shaped desserts, but for me when I think of Valentine's Day, I think CHOCOLATE!  This recipe is super simple to make, but will wow your loved ones :)


Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
(original recipe from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. 
Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until well blended. 
Mix in the chocolate chips. 
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or just until set. Cool slightly on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

^^^ I recently got more into baking.  I finally decided to get a cookie scoop (thanks Mom!) and boy does it make a difference!  Not only do I get more uniform cookies, but I also love that I don't have to use my fingers anymore and get so messy!  


plate from Target (a few years ago)

Happy eating!

Monday, February 1, 2016

My Favorite Breakfast Smoothie | #BetterBreakfast

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CarnationSweepstakes #BetterBreakfast #CollectiveBias


Mornings can be hard.  The desire to sleep just a little bit longer while giving yourself enough time to get ready and out the door on time, it can be a hard balance.  Add enjoying a nutritious breakfast to the mix and you can easily feel a little overwhelmed.  On the mornings that Noah has school and swim class, I definitely feel a little more stressed to get Noah and myself ready and still have time for breakfast before we head out.  That's one of the reasons I love smoothies.  Not only is it something I know Noah will eat drink (he loves them), but in a pinch I can put his in a travel container and he can drink it on the way to wherever we need to be.  And while fruit smoothies alone are great, I was looking to add a little extra something to make them more filling and give Noah (and myself) even more vitamins and nutrients in each glass.  So while I was in the breakfast aisle of Walmart, I was so excited to find some boxes of Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Powder.   After reading the ingredients, and seeing how much protein, vitamins, and calcium was in each packet, I knew it was exactly what I needed to add to our smoothies to make them extra special!  


Here's our go to smoothie that we have almost every day for breakfast!

My Favorite Breakfast Fruit Smoothie
(Makes enough for 2 full glasses)

Ingredients:
1 orange
1 banana
8 frozen strawberries
1 cup of milk
1 packet of Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Powder in French Vanilla

Directions:
Add ingredients to blender in order listed
Blend on high for about a minute, or until smoothie is the consistency you prefer
Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Sometimes I will even throw in some spinach leaves if I feel like Noah (or I) needs some extra veggies in his diet.  It will turn the smoothie a little green/brown, but don't worry, it will still taste sweet and fruity and you won't even taste the spinach.  


I have learned that it's easier to get ready quickly if your child is an active participant and excited about each step.  We actually started using a get ready song that we learned from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.  Basically, you just make a song out of each of the things you need to get done each morning.  Such as, "Clothes on, Eat Breakfast, Brush Teeth, Put on Shoes, and Off to School!".  While we aren't doing anything "differently", the fact that Noah knows the routine and is having fun singing each step, makes him excited to get ready.  

One of my favorite parts of making daily smoothies, is that Noah loves to help me make them!  I am a huge fan of letting your child help in the kitchen.  From a very young age, Noah would help me make smoothies and bake.  Noah is so happy when I let him put in each of the fruits and help me pour the milk and the Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Powder into the blender.  We have even turned it into a learning experience by counting the strawberries.  I also think he's more excited to drink it because he helped create it. 


While Noah loves to help assemble the smoothie, he is not a fan of the loud blender.  So when it's time for the actual blending, he leaves the room.... thankfully it only takes a minute :)  Then he's right back in the kitchen, picking out his cup and what color straw I get.  The best part of adding the Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Powder to the smoothie is how it adds an extra thickness making it similar to the texture of a milkshake.  And who wouldn't want a milkshake for breakfast!?!   It also makes the smoothie so much more filling.  I personally don't need anything else for breakfast.  It's really a delicious way to start your day!  


And while you may think making a smoothie for breakfast is too time consuming, it really isn't.  You can even speed up the process by preparing your ingredients the night before so all you have to do is blend and pour.  The longest part is literally peeling the orange, and that can easily be done the night before!  But if you really don't think you have time to make a smoothie for breakfast, you can still enjoy a better breakfast by either just mixing the Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Powder (they come in French Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry) with milk or by grabbing one of Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Ready-to-Drink Bottles to enjoy on the go.  There's really no excuse not to have a better breakfast!    


While this year I have not made a "lose weight" resolution, I am very eager to live a more nutritious life.  That's why I love that Carnation Breakfast Essentials® is encouraging everyone to have a better breakfast. Take the 7-Day Breakfast Challenge and enjoy a nutritious breakfast every day for 7 days. Complete simple breakfast missions through the end of February for chances to win prizes!  We will be taking the challenge as a family because we really do feel that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I personally can't function without having breakfast, so having some easy and nutritious options ready to go makes it a lot easier!  

Ready to get started? Follow these easy steps:

1. Sign up at CarnationBreakfastChallenge.com.

2. Complete a simple yet fun breakfast mission for a chance to win. New prizes will be revealed every day!

3. Come back any day in February to complete missions and see new prizes. The prizes range from a Fitbit to a GoPro and other awesome stuff!

4. Head to your favorite store to purchase a Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Nutritional Product and upload your receipt for five extra entries per day.



Do you eat breakfast every day?  What is your go to for breakfast?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Favorites!

Happy Friday!  We spent the week recovering from the blizzard and getting back to our normal routine.  I've been wearing my snow boots all week, not to play in the snow, but simply because so many of the parking lots are covered in slush!  This weekend we have a few fun things planned but also hope to relax a bit too.  Today I wanted to share a few things that we are loving at the moment!  From snow days, to favorite toys, and some new items we've picked up!  

One

Noah is a huge fan of doing puzzles.  Not only does he love them, but he's actually remarkably good at them too.  I am pretty good at puzzles too and loved doing them as a child (and still do now... I just wish I had more time and a clear table to do them).  Many mornings, when I ask Noah what he wants to do, he says he wants to do ALL his puzzles... and we have a lot of them.  It used to be that he'd want/need me to help him a little, but now he's gotten so good at them that he can basically do a whole 48 piece puzzle all on his own!  I'm hoping that when he's a little older we can do those massive thousand piece puzzles together :)


Two

I love that stores now carry bathing suits almost year round.  Noah has swim school from September-June and then we have the neighborhood pool for the summer.  But this winter, we are also escaping the cold and taking a tropical vacation... to Turks & Caicos!  I'm beyond and excited and had a lot of fun ordering Noah a few new swim suits.  While I got a few on sale, I did order him this one (thanks Grandma!) from Hanna Andersson.  I gave Noah a few choices and he chose the pirate ship trunks :)  I also got him another swim hat.  This is the third year we've bought him one and I love that they come out with a different color every year.  His hat from last year still fits, but this way there's a greater chance one will match his swim suit.  I love this hat because it's totally waterproof (same material as a rash guard) and covers every bit of his ears and neck from the sun.  Best part is, since Noah loves hats, he has no issue keeping it on!  If you do plan to get one, I'd order it now... they usually sell out fast online!


Three

Noah had his first "snow day" this week.  Noah's preschool follows the public school for closings and since our town is still recovering from the 30 inches of snow, school was closed Monday and Tuesday.  We took advantage of our morning off and baked some muffins and went out to lunch and ice cream with Grandma!  My mom then watched Noah so I could get my hair colored and cut :)  I have to say, I'm a fan of snow days!


^^^ Noah found the box of paper bag animal puppets and asked to make the cow.  It was so cute watching him "moo"!

Four

Noah is a huge fan of Paw Patrol.  I think it's safe to say we watch the show every day and have almost every toy they have come out with.  Today they have a new episode airing debuting a Paw Patrol Plane!  Noah is very excited for it!  And I have to say that this franchise is very smart... they keep coming out with new gadgets, vehicles, and even new characters in the show, which then creates even more merchandise to sell.  And leave it to Chris to find the plane for sale on Target and order it before it sells out.  You can also find it on Amazon and Toys R Us, but when we looked, Target was the cheapest.  I also laugh, cause one day Chris will say we need to cool it on the toys for Noah, and the next day he's sending me a link with the newest and coolest toy saying we have to get it for him.  I love that he gets so excited for these things!  


Five

I just picked up this new eye shadow palette and I'm in love!  I have worn and loved Bare Minerals for a while now and I'm loving this combination of neutral eye shadows.  Depending on what I'm wearing, I'll go with either the gray (on the left) or brown (on the right) shades and I like them both equally as much :)

eye shadow palette

Have a fantastic weekend!

I'm linking up with The Farmer's Wife and September Farm for "Oh Hey Friday"!


I'm also linking up with A. Liz Adventures for "Five on Friday".

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Toddler Crafts | Snowflakes and Mittens

Today I'm sharing two winter themed crafts I recently did with Noah.  Even though he creates a lot of artwork at school, he's still eager and excited to do art projects with me at home as well.  He's always asking for crayons and paper so he can draw me pictures.  He will draw something and then ask me what it looks like.  Usually, he tells me my guess is wrong, but he doesn't know what it is either!  I guess he's checking to see if he likes my answer ;)


For these two projects, I brought out the paint.  While we love using watercolors, I just recently restocked our supply of tempura paint.  I started out with the multi packs of 2 oz bottles.  Once I knew that we'd be painting for many months/years to come, I decided to upgrade and buy the set of 16 oz bottles.  I also prefer that I can squeeze the paint out of the bottles and be more precise with how much I give Noah for each project.  


The first craft I want to share with you is a tape resist snowflake painting.  I'm a huge fan of these types of projects because it lets you have some control with the end result while letting your child have free reign and control when painting.  When I was in Michaels the other day, I saw that they had a deal on blank canvases.  They had a package of seven 11x14s for $12.99.  I immediately grabbed it and started thinking of all the different projects we could make!  For this craft, I used washi tape to mark my snowflake.  I often use painter's tape, but this time I wanted thinner lines.  I then gave Noah dark blue, light blue, and white paint and told him to cover "all the white".  I found it was best to use the blue paints first and then use the white paint to add some variety and dimension to it at the end.  But in reality I just let Noah do what he wanted.  

^^^ so many people ask me about his smock... here's the link!

Once he was finished, we let it dry, and later that night I removed the tape.  He was so excited to see the finish product and we even hung it up in a soon to be (hopefully) completed gallery wall in his basement playroom.  I hope to have him create seasonal canvases so I can switch up the gallery wall every month or two :)

^^^ as you can tell, I totally freehanded the snowflake.  It clearly isn't symmetrical or perfect, but every snowflake is supposed to be unique, right!?!

Here's another super simple craft.  For this one I used some Crayola finger paint to make some Noah handprints.  My number one tip whenever doing anything involving hand or footprints is to have wipes on the ready to clean your child's hand or foot off.  I would recommend washing them in the sink as well, but at least the wipe will prevent them from getting your furniture or clothes dirty on the way to the sink.  After the paint was dry, I simple drew a mitten around each of the hands, cut them out, and then wrote his name and year on each of the mittens.  Super simple craft that I know I will look back fondly on and marvel at how small his hand was at 3!  



While we are on the topic of paint, I decided to do a little reorganization when we got the 16 oz bottles.  I got this cool stackable clear box (that I can carry to the table) at Target to hold his paint brushes, watercolor and finger paints, and smocks.  I then used this open basket (also from Target) to hold all his large tempura paint bottles.  Now whenever we are doing a project I just grab whatever colors we will be using and squirt the paint onto a paper plate.  I'm loving this new corner in my kitchen closet.  


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