Thursday, March 31, 2016

Project 52 -- Weeks 12 + 13

If you follow us on Instagram, you probably saw that we just returned from a fabulous spring break in Jamaica. I decided to take a blogging break while we were traveling, so I'm grouping together the last two weeks of Project 52 into the theme of "water" -- easy to do given where we were! The first is a photo of Cam on a sunset boat ride we took. It was a bumpy ride, she was in the front, got completely drenched, and thought it was hysterical. The second is of Kane leaping down a waterfall like it was NBD. More on our trip next week!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

2016 Spring Bucket List -- 60+ Ideas of Spring Fun!!

While technically the first day of spring happened a week and a half ago, I still haven't felt a real spring day yet. In fact, it was 36 degrees when we woke up this morning! But, now that we're on the other side of spring break, we needed to get our ducks in a row and get our Spring Bucket List up and running. So here it is!

p.s. for the record, we crossed 32 items off of our Winter Bucket List. We've got some work to do this spring!

Monday, March 28, 2016

DIY Pretzel Memory Game

Maybe it's the comeback of Full House or just that I'm ready for spring brights, but I have been digging all the 80s home decor popping up. One of the things I loved most my childhood style was the ease with which we combined junk food with bold patterns and bright colors. I can totally picture myself rocking my favorite Esprit outfit (bright blue stirrup pants paired with a long pink and blue patterned top) with my plastic charm necklace dangling all sorts of randomness. And The Land of Nod's 80s Decor Inspiration really brought it all back and spurred us to put together a fun game. Head over to check out our fun DIY Pretzel Memory Game, which you can download for free!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Project 52 -- Week 11

Happy St. Patrick's Day, all!! How fitting that this week's theme is GREEN. We are Irish, we are Greens, so this holiday was pretty much made for us. Needless to say, the kids are just a little excited.

Equally exciting is that they start spring break tomorrow! We are actually all in need of a serious break, so this year I'm taking a blogging break too. I'll still be kicking around over on Instagram and Facebook, and I'll see you all back here in a few weeks. Catch you on the flip side!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Spring Break Essentials -- Carry-On for the Boys

We are very clearly in serious spring break mode. In case you missed it, yesterday we had our tips to pack a Kids' Travel Survival Kit up on the Paper Source blog. But, today, we're taking a turn back towards what to wear ... for the boys this time.

Last week I shared how to pack 25 outfits for your fave lady in a carry-on bag. Given the variety of outfits Cam generally likes to bring with her, that was no small feat. But I'm always surprised at how much Kane gets into packing for vacation too. He is very particular about his "outfits" and how he wants his clothes folded, arranged, etc. But if Cam can do it, so can he.

As with Cam's round-up, the first and last outfits are for the travel days -- wearing the clunkier items and layering are key. Kane likes a mix of stripes and bold colors, but I started with a solid set of basics in grey and navy (and a little army green). Then I picked a few of his favorite brights that coordinate well together and added in some fun patterns for a tropical vacaye (he usually isn't into patterns other than stripes, but I have a feeling he'll go for this). If your guy is into tanks, I'd swap a few in for some of the tee-shirts. But Kane is a solid no on those, so I stuck with what I know he likes. See what you think!

The Basics 
neutral slub V-neck tee

Interest Pieces 

Swim, Shoes + Accessories 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring Break Kids' Travel Survival Kit

Spring break is almost here and we've got tips to help you and your kiddos survive the trip to wherever you're going! Head over to the Paper Source blog to get the low down on packing your own kit to make a trip.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Friday Five!

Last week's cold weather crankiness has drastically improved with the arrival of (fingers-crossed) permanent spring temperatures. Here's what had us back in our groove this week ....

Playing -- I wasn't there to witness this, but Kane and his buddies apparently played this board game for almost three hours.

Reading -- My mom just brought me The Secret History of Wonder Woman and I'm all about it. Kane started a research project on Benjamin Franklin this week, so we dove headfirst into Benjamin Franklin Huge Pain in My ... without me giving it much of a read ahead of time. I'd picked it up from the library and noted that it was for kids a little older, but we usually read books with an older suggested age range. But, OMG. It's all about kids in seventh grade sneaking beer and getting to first base. A few pages in, I tried to table it. But the kids insisted we continue, so I'm doing some seriously heavy editing as I read. It also contains very minimal information about Benjamin Franklin, so Kane's report should be interesting.

Making -- I've been spending Monday afternoons helping Cami's class with some sewing projects. Cam wants to bring in pom poms to add in the mix, so we've been making a bunch! We use a pom pom tool, but check out this tutorial to make them without.

Cooking -- I loved these Grilled Turkey Kofta Skewers with Yogurt Sauce!

Wanting -- Once I'm into the clean eating thing, I generally don't have any cravings for things I can't have. But I always miss sushi. Here's the right way to make your own!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Project 52 -- Week 10

The theme for this week's Project 52 is "Senses." Instead of taking that literally, I'm posting a photo I took of Kane this week at the National Postal Museum. I'll share more about our visit next week, but given that the last time we visited the museum, Kane was just 2 years old, this week's trip completely messed with my sense of time. Much like last week's Project 52, actually. So maybe I'm sensing a new theme to this project entirely. Kane and Cami spent almost our entire first trip to the museum climbing up and down the stairs of this mail truck. This trip, they hopped in to throw me a bone and let me take a quick photo. Perhaps as an attempt to draw attention away from his inability not to Chandler Bing his photo smile, Kane insists on taking all posed photos with two thumbs up. Let's hope he comes to his senses soon enough.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Shawarma-Spiced Chicken Pita with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce + 30 Days of Dinner!!

I first mentioned this fabulous Shawarma-Spiced Chicken recipe a few weeks ago in a Friday Five. The kids loved it so much that I've actually made it a few times since then. Not only is it delicious, but total prep and cook time is under 30 minutes (including making homemade Paleo naan). It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it comes together so quickly. So its obviously one of my favorite weeknight meals and weekend lunches too.

We have added a little dairy back into our diet, but if you aren't eating dairy, just leave off the sauce and maybe add a few mint leaves and lemon squeeze on top. The spice on the chicken is super nice all on its own.

Our rest of our 30 days of dinner follows the recipe. I'm so excited that warm weather is here -- I'm over roasting, slow cooking, and braising everything and all about grilling!!

Shawarma-Spiced Chicken Pita with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce
(adapted from Epicurious)

- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 cup plain goat's milk yogurt
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1/4 tsp grated garlic
- 1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice, divided
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped dill, plus more for serving
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped mint, plus more for serving
- 1/2 large English hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4"-thick half-moons
- 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
- 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion

Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, cinnamon, 2 tbsp oil, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast 12–15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix yogurt, tahini, garlic, lemon zest, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a medium bowl until incorporated. Fold in 2 tbsp dill and 2 tbsp mint. 
- Toss cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, remaining 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp oil, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in another medium bowl. Make Paleo naan.
Thinly slice chicken. Place 1 Paleo naan on each plate and top evenly with chicken and tomato-cucumber salad. Drizzle each pita with 2 tbsp tahini-yogurt sauce; top with dill and mint. Serve remaining tahini-yogurt sauce alongside.
*          *          *

30 Days of Dinner

Day 1 (F) -- Italian Style Stuffed Peppers; cauliflower rice
Day 2 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 3 (Sun) -- dinner out

Day 4 (M) -- leftover stuffed peppers; Lemon Herb Roasted Potatoes; Pan Seared Brussels Sprouts 
Day 5 (T) -- Green Ginger Chicken with Green Onions; Maple Sriracha Roasted Cauliflower; kids had brown rice
Day 6 (W) -- Roasted Tomato + Red Pepper Soup; Roasted Italian Sausage with Onions and Peppers
Day 7 (Th) -- Food52 Hash without a Recipe using potatoes, bacon, onion, orange pepper, zucchini, avocado, goat cheese + eggs
Day 8 (F) -- leftovers
Day 9 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 10 (Sun) -- Valentine's dinner! Seared Steak with Roasted Garlic Compound Goat Cheese; Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pears and Pistachios  

Day 11 (M) -- Shawarma-Spiced Chicken Pita with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce
Day 12 (T) -- Rosemary Braised Short Ribs over Cauliflower Puree; Garlic Lemon Green Beans
Day 13 (W) -- Food52 Hash without a Recipe using potato, red onion, yellow pepper, zucchini, tomatoes, goat cheese, and avocado; chicken sausage with kale
Day 14 (Th) -- Chicken and Zucchini Burgers (1 lb chicken, 1 zucchini grates, 1/4 diced onion, goat cheese, 2 slices diced cooked bacon, and salt + pepper), sweet potato fries
Day 15 (F) -- Best Paleo burgerCauliflower + Carrot Puree
Day 16 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 17 (Sun) -- Pistachio-Crusted Chicken; potato, carrot + onion hash 

Day 18 (M) -- Chicken Tinga Tacos -- I could tell these were going to be REALLY spicy, so I cooked the sauce with the chile in, but removed it before blending it. And I used grilled chicken breast only; Paleo tortillas 
Day 19 (T) -- Balsamic and Basil Marinated Steak with Red Pepper Pesto; Crispy Lemon Potatoes; orange juice, honey + cinnamon carrots
Day 20 (W) -- leftovers
Day 21 (Th) -- Sally Schneider's Slow Roasted Salmon (sheep's milk yogurt and chives on top); Roasted Butternut Squash Puree with Goat Cheese 
Day 22 (F) -- brinner
Day 23 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 24 (Sun) -- Roast Chicken with Kimchi Smashed Potatoes -- I used chicken breasts only and this was DELICIOUS. The kids loved it too; green beans 

Day 25 (M) -- Moroccan Pita Sandwiches with Paleo naan and used goat's milk yogurt in sauce; sweet potato fries
Day 26 (T) -- Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken -- a HUGE family favorite; Green Beans and Beets with Balsamic Reduction 
Day 27 (W) -- Roasted Italian Sausage with Onions and Peppers; cauliflower rice
Day 28 (Th) -- dinner out
Day 29 (F) -- Marinated and Grilled Flank Steak; Cauliflower Kale Salad with Pomegranate, Dried Apricots, and Pumpkin Seeds; roasted potatoes
Day 30 (Sat) -- dinner out 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Spring Break Essentials -- Carry-On for the Girls

We are now at T-weeks countdown around our house for spring break. And that means that the kids are daily trying to sneak the spring break clothes tucked away in their closest into their wardrobes. The only cure I've found to stop Cami from dashing out of the house in a winter coat and gladiator sandals is to have her help lay out the clothes she plans on packing and run through every wardrobe iteration. We try to pack light (well, I try to pack the kids' clothes light so I have room to stash my extra stuff in their bags), so we're aiming for a carry-on of clothes that will last a week.

Don't believe it? Check out the twenty-five outfits we've planned below. The first and last are planned travel outfits (the only way to travel with a fedora is to wear it. Trust me). The rest are options for everything in between ... with plenty of room to make up more. I think the key is to pick a solid set of basics, but that still have a little interest and detail. Mix in a group of interesting pieces based on just a few bright colors that work well together. And finish it off with a good set of swim, shoes, and accessory pieces. We just might be able to pull this off -- boys, stay tuned ....

The Basics 

Interest Pieces 
- patterned jumpsuit

Swim, Shoes + Accessories 
- fedora 

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Friday Five!

I think it's the drastic shifts in weather, but everyone has been so cranky this week. We haven't spent a lot of together time creating things like we usually do. And getting everyone to read has felt like a chore. But I have had some seriously successful new dinners (balanced out by the total lack of desire to cook a few evenings) and learned a new game. But, we also had a spectacular Pinterest fail craft one day too. And two days off of school for conferences. The glass of wine I allow myself on the weekend still seems sooooo far away ....

Cooking -- I'll start with cooking this week since it was sort of the highlight of our Friday Five categories. It's likely because both kids are going through growth spurts, but they have been not only eating their dinner happily most evenings, but devouring second and third helpings. Seriously. One evening they ate so much that there was literally nothing left for Joel to eat by the time he made it home. And forget lunch leftovers. But I'll take it over the kiddo whining and lack of eating we all experience sometimes. This Cilantro Grilled Lime Chicken (I used chicken breasts) was probably the fave.

Making -- We tried to make this Cucumber Mint Sugar Scrub on a playdate and it was a colossal fail.  We were going for St. Patrick's Day colors and ended up with something that looked a whole lot like poop. I have no idea how one would follow the directions and end up with that picture, but it didn't happen up in our house. I have a few ideas on how to rectify the recipe though, so stay tuned ....

Wanting -- Want to hear some crazy talk? Just a year in at our new house and Joel and I were batting around the idea of moving again. It won't happen any time soon, but we pretended like that was a realistic thing to discuss. One area I know we do need to address still at the house are the outdoor decks. I have a list of things we need to get, but since we're operating outside of reality, how about I snag this fabulous umbrella for which I have absolutely no need. Actually, why stop there. Let's go full on Delano hotel and grab the loungers and cabanas too. We'll put it all around our pretend pool.

Reading -- I'm still on my same reads and we basically are with the kids, too. We've been spending more time having them read short books to us at night, so I don't have much news here. We do really like The Island of Dr. Libris we started at the end of last week though and the kids are looking forward to starting the next in James Patterson's Treasure Hunters' series.

Playing -- It's a little complicated, especially for kiddos under 8 years old, but we've been loving Sushi Go! this week. Even if Cam can't do all the multiplication, the game is color coordinated and logical enough that she gets the gist of it and can play her own hand.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Project 52 -- Week 9

This week's prompt was "Times" and all I could think of after taking Kane and Cam down to Yards Park last weekend to see the new art installation, Light the Yards, was that times are a changin'. Our first visit to the park was almost five years ago -- Cam was just a year old and much more concerned with getting her chocolate ice cream than exploring the place. Years later, these two ran around playing tag and taking things in by themselves (and checking back in every now and then).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Baltimore Museum of Art

Visting Baltimore is a super easy day trip for us and we make the drive regularly to visit one of our favorite art museums, the American Visionary Art Museum. But for some reason, we had yet to visit the Baltimore Museum of Art. When we finally had a free weekend day, we made plans to meet my father-in-law in Baltimore for lunch and then discover the museum, including checking out its Free Family Sundays program.

We are no strangers to a good art museum, but I have to say that the Baltimore Museum of Art completely blew me away. To begin with, it's free. Those of us who visit DC museums frequently are completely spoiled, because most museums outside of the District, especially art museums, carry a hefty price of admission. So I was psyched to see we'd be getting a free peak at new art.

Secondly, the entire vibe of the museum was unlike any other art museum of this caliber that we'd experienced. It was sooooo laid back -- there were no guards or docents following the kids around (ahemmmm Phillips Collection and Hirshhorn). In fact, the museum ingeniously set up several works of art in the contemporary and modern sections that the kids were allowed and encouraged to touch -- smack in the middle of a room containing other off limits priceless works. The fact that they were allowed to explore some of it, made it so much easier to keep their paws off the other art.

There was also an exploratory interactive exhibit in a transitional area between exhibits that made it really easy to take a break and get the kids involved. I don't know if it was this approach or the Free Family Sundays, but there were more families with small kids walking around that museum than any other I've ever seen. Art for all, ya'll!

We also loved the adjacent Johns Hopkins University neighborhood. We had an incredibly delicious meal and the totally quirky Paper Moon Diner before our museum visit. I highly recommend a trip to the restaurant, which is within walking distance from the museum. It's a feast for the eyes as much as it is your tummy -- it reminded me of a cross between the AVAM gift store and The Beaver Island Toy Shop. I will disclose that we had a slightly disastrous wait for our food, but they did the right thing and comped our meal. Plus, the kids have never had less of a hard time occupying themselves in a restaurant -- we played I-Spy for almost an hour.

If you haven't visited the museum, add it to your list. We are absolutely going to add it in to our regular rotation!!