Friday, June 24, 2016

The Friday Five!!

We've had a great first week of summer back in town! The kids came around to the idea of camp and crushed their respective schedules—sewing for Cam, basketball and Star Wars LEGO for Kane—and I've been pounding the proverbial pavement to share Banish Boredom. It's a little insane that the end of June is here, but I suppose summer has really just started. Here's what else we were up to this week ....

*Amazon links are affiliate links.

Cooking -- I've made these Kimchi Burgers before, but they hit the spot for everyone this week. Kane ate two full adult servings of these burgers last night.

Reading -- we finally started a new audiobook, Mr. Chickee's Funny Money, which we're all finding hysterical. I just finished up the second Napoleon novel last night (SO good) and am on the waiting list for the third, but in the meantime I started Was She Pretty?

Wanting -- I am a full fledged LaCroix addict—this is my favorite flavor and I stock up when I find it! Target recently had the slim cans on sale and I bought an entire cart's worth. We have a mini fridge at home stocked only with fizzy water. It's a problem. So I found this article super interesting. I guess I take it that I am both cool and a Midwestern-born mom.

Making -- we've been working on maintaining math skills this summer and the kids love practicing by counting money. They group different ways to reach the same amount, think about making change, etc. This has been a great starter set and Kane frequently uses it as a template to make his own money, on which he very responsibly notes "not legal tender."

Playing -- on a recent girls night out, Cam and I picked up a set of Top Trumps Harry Potter cards. They make them for each movie, but the Goblet of Fire is my fave, so we started there. He's obsessed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Massaged Kale Salad with Cherries, Pistachios, and Grilled Steak + 30 Days of Dinner!

These 30 Days of Dinner cover the last little stretch of the school year, so there's plenty of eating out and not 100% clean eating. But we managed. And YAY for summer!! We've been busy already, but I love getting a little more daylight to cook, lots of fresh produce, and warm weather to grill out. This steak salad recipes is TOPS. It's super easy, but so fresh and delicious. A must make! 

Massaged Kale Salad with Cherries, Pistachios, and Grilled Steak

- 1 lb flank steak 
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- your favorite steak seasoning

- 2 bunches of dino kale, de-stemmed and chopped into ribbons
- 1/2 medium red onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cups cherries, pitted and cut in half 
- 2 avocados, seed and skin removed and sliced thinly 
- 5 sprigs of mint, chopped 
- 1/2 cup pistachios
- 1 tbsp of hemp seeds

- juice of 2 large lemons 
- 1/3 cup of olive oil

1. Rub your steak with olive oil and season it liberally with steak seasoning. Set it aside and allow it to come to room temperature.
2. Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil for dressing and set aside.
3. Add kale to a large salad bowl. Pour dressing over kale and using clean hands, massage the dressing into the kale leaves. This will soften the leaves and allow them to absorb some of the dressing.
4. Assemble the salad by adding the onion, pitted cherries, avocado, mint, pistachios, and hemp seeds.
5. Add steak to a hot grill and cook for 3 minutes each side, making sure not to overcook. Remove steak from the heat and allow it to rest for a few minutes.
6. Slice steak and arrange it on top of salad.

*          *          *

30 Days of Dinner

Day 1 (Th) -- leftovers
Day 2 (F) -- Massaged Kale Salad with Cherries, Pistachios, and Grilled Steak
Day 3 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 4 (Sun) -- dinner out 

Day 5 (M) -- dinner at a friend's house
Day 6 (T) -- Best Ever Turkey Chili; Asparagus and Mushrooms in Lemon-Thyme Butter 
Day 7 (W) -- leftovers
Day 8 (Th) -- Kimchi Beef Burgers; sweet potato fries
Day 9 (F) -- brinner
Day 10 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 11 (Sun) -- Chicken Meatballs with Garlic Kale Marinara 

Day 12 (M) -- Carne Asada; Green Beans and Beets with Balsamic Reduction; Crispy Lemon Oven-Roasted Potatoes
Day 13 (T) -- Shawarma-Spciced Chicken Pita with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce
Day 14 (W) -- leftovers
Day 15 (Th) -- Massaged Kale Salad with Cherries, Pistachios, and Grilled Steak; oven roasted potatoes
Day 16 (F) -- Grilled Chicken Tacos; cauliflower rice
Day 17 (Sat) -- Lemon Spaghetti with Turkey Sausage + Spinach 
Day 18 (Sun) -- burgers and sweet potato fries 

Day 19 (M) -- dinner out 
Day 20 (T) -- Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie (this sounds so bizarre, but was strangely delicious); salad 
Day 21 (W) -- Avocado Caprese Skillet Chicken; sautéed green beans 
Day 22 (Th) -- Grilled Marinated Flank Steak (I thought this was just OK); roasted green potatoes; green salad 
Day 23 (F) -- dinner out 
Day 24 (Sat) -- Sweet Potato Gnocchi and Tomato Sauce (this recipe was a freakin' disaster for me and proved once again that somethings are just better left un-paleofied); Paleo Turkey Meatballs 
Day 25 (Sun) -- chicken sausage and vegetables; spaghetti squash with Fennel Frond Pesto (DELISH); grilled asparagus (can you tell we picked up a monster CSA that day?) 

Day 26 (M) -- Chipotle Pulled Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa (subbed honey for brown sugar and everyone LOVED this); cauliflower rice 
Day 27 (T) -- Fajita Chicken Kebabs; cauliflower
Day 28 (W) -- leftovers; Fennel, Escarole + Radish Salad 
Day 29 (Th) -- Backpocket Bolognese over spaghetti squash; leftover salad
Day 30 (F) -- dinner out 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Icy Goop

We are no strangers to making goop (our basic recipe even made it into Banish Boredom), but I thought we could do a cool take on the activity to make a great combo of art, science, and sensory fun. Enter icy goop.

As you might know, our goop (or oobleck) is a non-Newtonian substance -- it behaves like a solid or a liquid depending on how much pressure you apply. We talked about that principle and then how adding ice to it might change its behavior. Cam said she thought that the ice would freeze it and make it more of a solid. Kane brought up though that the ice would melt. And they both concluded that once it melted, the addition of water would make the substance more liquid no matter how much pressure they put on it.

Knowing Cami, I insisted she don a bathing suit for the activity (you've seen the cover of our book, right!?). Kane claimed he didn't want to participate, but then proceeded to supervise from the sidelines. Shocking. But they both loved it and were disappointed I didn't have more corn starch to make another batch.

Give this one a try -- it's a great summer activity! You'll need:

- 3 cups cornstarch
- 3 cups water
- liquid watercolors
- ice cubes

Start by mixing together the cornstarch and water in a large bowl. You want to end up with a consistency where the mixture hardens when you press it with a spoon, so you might need to play a bit with the ratio of cornstarch and water to get there. Divide it evenly between six cups. Add a few drops of liquid watercolor to each cup and mix in -- again, you might need to add a bit more cornstarch after you've mixed in the liquid watercolors to retain the right consistency.

Let your kiddo experiment by pouring the goop into a container and playing with it a bit. Then see what happens when you add ice cubes. Be ready for some mess though ... Cam ended up sitting in the little container and pouring it all over!

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Friday Five!

It's been a pretty crazy week for us! We are officially on summer break! Aaaaaand, my book wrapped up ahead of schedule and we were able to launch it this week. I worked really hard on it, so I'm so excited it's out! And I took the kids to see my sister and her kiddos in Chicago, so we've been traveling around a bit too. Here's all the in between ....

*Amazon links are affiliate links.

Making -- in case you missed it, my book is NOW AVAILABLE! It will officially launch nationwide July 1st, but you can get it now via my publisher Gryphon House or Amazon. It's a little surreal -- it was a loooong, long process and I'm really excited to finally be able to share it with everyone. So we've been busy this week making plans to get the book out. It's full of great ideas you can use this summer, so please do check it out and let us know what you think!!

Reading -- as I mentioned, we've spent most of this week in Chicago, so we traveled light on books. But we brought this A to Z Mystery Kane nabbed from a Free Little Library. They love the series -- it's spooky, but not scary.

Cooking -- my sister's done all the cooking this week and made some fab food, but last night we got my fave sausage stuffed pizza and well, that wins. It's back to clean eating after Father's Day!!

Wanting -- I'm obsessed with Nitro Coffee right now and Confluence makes it in a portable can.

Playing -- we love Baba Yaga! We picked it up because we are also fans of Zeus on the Loose. I like that it's a compact size and easy to travel with for summer.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Not-So-SAHM Book Launch!!

I'm so excited to share the launch of my book Banish Boredom: Activities to Do with Kids That You'll Actually Enjoy!! Taking a lighthearted approach to the serious business of parenting, Banish Boredom helps parents find activities that they enjoy, while their children learn and have fun. I worked incredibly hard to capture our favorite activities in an accessible and fun way for parents. And I can't wait to hear what people think!

Just in time for summer, you can purchase the book NOW through Gryphon House Books or Amazon.

And stay tuned for news on book readings and maker events!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016

Alphabet Hunt Bingo

A few years ago, I put together a Number Hunt Bingo game for the kids and it turned out to be SO much fun. We put an alphabet hunt on our bucket list that same year, but never got around to it! I was determined this year and liked that the kids were a little further along in their reading than when I first thought of the idea. It forced me to get creative and come up with different levels of challenges using the same cards.

I put together two separate sets of alphabet hunt games. First, bingo cards that we used to explore our neighborhood. At first I let the kids mark off any letters they saw. Kane went up to one or two street signs and did just that and very quickly found Bingo on most of his cards. Cam said she didn't want to take the "easy way out" -- she was looking for "a challenge." So she picked a row of letters on each Bingo card and went out in search of those particular letters. And she usually picked letters that were difficult to find (Q, W, etc.), but found them all over the place -- on city buses, campaign signs, license plates, house placards, etc. Pretty telling of their personalities! To give Kane an extra challenge, I said he had to find words that started with the letters on the card -- not just any word that contained the letters. That slowed him down a bit.

Once we got back to the house, they each picked a bingo card and then found corresponding letter "prompt cards" I made. If they'd used the letter E to get bingo, for example, they picked the E prompt card. Then they had to think of as many words as they could that started with that letter. They had a lot of fun and thought of some great words. Kane particularly got a kick out of thinking of Harry Potter and Star Wars-related words that started with the letter Q.

If you're looking for a fun game with a broad reach in reading skill, try it out! If your kiddos are on the young side, just go searching for the letters on the Alphabet Bingo Cards. And if they are starting to write, have them practice writing letters on each prompt card. If they are older, try one of the variations we did. We used pencils to mark off our Bingo sheets, but you can also use Bingo chips and do this at home just by looking for items you see around the room.

You can download the Bingo cards by clicking RIGHT HERE. And the Alphabet Prompt cards by clicking RIGHT HERE.