Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer Reading Challenge

Hi.  Remember me?  Summer is in full swing.  I kind of have a love/hate relationship with it.  It's super hot, at least we have a pool.  I get to sleep in, but if I want to run outside I have to do it before any person in their right mind would want to get up anyways.  I love having my daughter at home...but let's face it, it can be exhausting.  Maybe they could keep school going once or twice a week?  I don't have to pack lunches...but I feel like I am making food ALL day long anyways.  Blogging is taking the back burner, and I have to admit it has been kind of nice.  The only reason I am doing it right now is because I have a very rare moment to myself.  After three playdates and a sleepover yesterday, a fair amount of time in our pool today...a frantic search just led me to a window seat upstairs where my daughter made herself a little bed and had fallen fast asleep while I was in the shower.  I snapped a photo because I would have been less surprised to find big foot sitting on the couch drinking a coke (she has not napped since she was two I swear).  I then tiptoed away, poured myself a glass of wine, and decided to blog just a little something.

Yesterday marked the first day of the summer reading program at our local library.  Although I love the library so SO much, I was not that impressed with it this year.  I sat down yesterday and decided to make up our own.  Kate is full on reading now and I thought some really GREAT incentives would really keep it going during our long break from school.

Between you and me, we had really been planning to all sorts of things with her this summer.  Ice cream?  Good grief, yes.  Peter Piper Peter? I suppose.  A pedicure?  I will need one sooner rather than later anyways.  You get the idea.

Now she thinks she needs to earn all of it.  Brilliant, no?  I planned it so that we are doing something a little extra special every 10th book.  

You could choose whatever you know would really please your child.

Huge Success.  Between yesterday afternoon and today she sat down and read 5 books (between all of our other summer fun).

And she REALLY loved her first sweet reward. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mango, Avocado and Broccoli Salad

Today I am reporting from the Chicagoland area.  The miserably cold and wet Chicagoland area.  This can't be spring.  Why would I leave my beautiful sunny Arizona for this?  Well, I have all sorts of reasons really.  One of which involves staying at my sister's house to watch her child and animals while she is away.  The rain really isn't bothering me all that much, only when I go outside!  

I have actually had a really lovely day.  I did the kind of thing I never have the chance to do when I am at home.  I snuggled up on the couch with a cup of hot tea and watched an ENTIRE movie...before noon!  Then I felt a wee bit lazy and took a nice run,  while mother nature spat on my face.

After my run, this old girl gave me a bit of a hard time.  So, I promised to head out once more so that she could enjoy a bit of natures spit too.

But I decided to make myself a nice big salad first.  My sister gets a box of organic veggies each week too, so I had some gorgeous produce to choose from.

I found my inspiration for this recipe here.  Raw, vegan and just plain delicious.  

Mango, Avocado and Broccoli Salad

1 ripe mango, diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
3 cups broccoli, roughly chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and stir, stir, stir until salad looks creamy.  I used the back of a spoon to mash up some of the avocado.  

You can eat it right away, but I let mine sit in the fridge for a bit and then stirred it a bit more before eating it.

So simple.  I will be eating this all summer long I am sure  
(but it tasted delicious on this cold and dreary day as well)!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Inspired Muddy Buddies

We are participating in an Easter egg hunt at our neighborhood park this morning with a few of our friends.  I wanted to bring the kids a little treat (because I am sure they are not getting enough of that this weekend!).  

I found many recipes for muddy buddy's online, but I used this one and gave it a bit of an Easter twist.  It has been a really busy week and these could not have been more simple (and quick) to make.  I tested them out and polished off about 10 handfuls after making all the goody bags, it's good, REAL good.

5 cups corn or rice Chex cereal
4 squares Vanilla Flavored Almond Bark
3/4 cup Funfetti Cake Mix (or any white or yellow cake mix)
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Put Chex mix in a large bowl.  Melt Almond Bark according to package directions.  If you want to thin it a little you can add a tiny bit of shortening, it will make it easy to pour (I opted out)

Pour over cereal and stir until each piece is well coated.

In large ziplock bag, combine sugar and cake mix.  Add cereal to bag and shake until it is well coated with the powder mixture.  Return to bowl and throw in some sprinkles and m&m's.  

Store in and airtight container.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Simple (and brilliant!) Easter Egg Decorating

I mustache you a question.

How do you decorate YOUR Easter egg?

I don't know about you, but on any given day we have a stash of roughly 1000 temporary tattoos.  

Last year we decided to try them out on our eggs and it was a big hit.  And the more that make it onto the eggs, the less end up all over my child.  Win.

Just do it just as you would if you were actually applying it to your child's arm.  Make sure the egg is dry.  Place the tattoo where you want it and place a damp cloth over top.  Hold it tightly for 30 seconds or so before carefully removing paper.  

Easy, right?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Simple Framed Easter Bunny Decoration

I am a sucker for fun fabric. It's a shame actually.  If I could only sew.  When I see a good sale I usually pick some up anyways, and I can typically find a good way to put it to use.

I picked this one up a few weeks ago and had planned on making a wreath...but I really didn't need one.

I have numerous unused frames laying around the house so I decided to just make a simple Easter decoration.  I found this awesome site to purchase cheap unfinished wood cutouts.  I ordered enough to get me through a year of holidays.

So all you need is some fabric, a frame, some spray paint and glue.

I wrapped the fabric around the glass from the frame.  

You could glue yours in place.  I just used regular old tape to make it nonpermanent, that way I can use the same frame for another occasion.

Once the glass was securely wrapped with the fabric I secured it in the frame.  I spray painted the bunny black and glued it in the center.  

It took no time and barely cost a thing.  And I have enough of this fabulous fabric leftover in case I ever decide to learn to sew :-)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cheetos Carrots for Easter Basket

We try to be conscious about the kind of food we keep around in this house.  Or rather, I try to be conscious, and thank goodness for that.  If I left my daughter and husband in charge we would have a pantry full of Cheetos and Smarties.  

The Easter Bunny did this last year and wasn't really planning on doing it again....until my daughter told me how she could not WAIT for Easter because of the Cheetos.  

Please don't think that we never treat ourselves to this kind of junk food, we just usually don't purchase large portions and store them at home!  My daughter did not exactly inherit my sweet tooth, she would pick these over a bag of M&M's any day of the week.  I have to admit they make a really cute addition to her Easter basket.  

And I will also have to admit that they actually are really delicious.  A few may have fallen into my mouth during the process of making them.

Last year I just used sandwich bags and formed them into the carrot shape before tying the ends.  This year I actually had a few frosting bags and those worked much better.  

If your child isn't into Cheetos (which would be the weirdest thing ever), you could switch them out for some other kind of cheesy cracker.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Creamy Asparagus Soup (healthy!)

 I have literally had asparagus coming out of my ears this week.  We had company in town and since the grocery stores were overflowing with this delicious spring treat I picked up two bunches.  And then my father-in-law had the same idea and picked up two more.  I am one that likes it raw or cooked, but I have been tossing it in salads and stir fries all week and I needed a change.
I found this recipe and made a few simple changes to appease my vegetarian lifestyle.  The creaminess of this soup fools you into thinking you are eating something really rich.  I will never complain of having too much asparagus again. I bet this will be a weekly offering in this house through the warmer months.

You want to hear a fun fact about asparagus?  It helps with eye puffiness.  As I get older, that has been my number one complaint.  I no longer care about other drooping body parts, just the ones you see on my face.  After eating this soup for lunch today I am positive I will wake up tomorrow looking twenty years younger.  I'll keep you posted on that.

Creamy Asparagus Soup
Source: Skinny Taste

1 lb asparagus (1 bunch)
1/2 tbsp butter
1 small onion
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp greek yogurt (I used Fage 0%)
salt and pepper to taste

In a small dutch oven or pot, melt butter.  Cook onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes until soft.

Snap tough ends off asparagus and cut into 2 inch pieces.  Add to pot along with the vegetable broth.  Heat to boiling.  Reduce heat and cook, covered for 25 minutes.  

Remove from heat.  Stir in greek yogurt and blend until smooth with a hand held blender (if you don't have one, working in small batches, you could use your blender or food processor).

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