Thursday, July 20, 2017

Summer Workbook Fun



We haven't been crushing our Summer Bucket List in our usual fashion this year (although I promise an update next week!), but I am so proud of the fact that we've managed to make time to get a little math, reading, and writing in almost every week day. Sure, summer is about not-school, but also we really needed to be better about avoiding the seasonal slide. In any event, we're sharing our ways to make summer workbook time more fun over on the OOLY blog today -- check it out for a little colorful inspiration! 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Saltwater Taffy Slime


We've seen all kinds of recipes lately for "fluffy" slime. Mixing up mysterious compounds and potions is always really high up on our kids' fun lists. And, as I mention in Banish Boredom, I love how much we get out of sensory play -- from the making to the playing to the cleaning (everybody and everything else) up, sensory activities are always a good solid chunk of play time. Plus, I really love any activity that incorporates both science and art. Anyway ... we decided to try out a fluffy slime recipe ourselves (thanks to Little Bins for Little Hands!).





After watching the kids mix, shape, and play for the better part of a morning (including taking a break to shower up!), I decided that we'd have to call this Saltwater Taffy Slime! Watching saltwater taffy being made along the New Jersey boardwalk is one of our fave summer vacation activities and this reminded me so much of the sweet treat. And since the recipe we followed uses saline solution, the saltwater idea really stuck.





It was an incredibly messy activity, but the kids loved every single part of it. The slime we made ended up being really, really sticky for much of the mixing process. But the kids actually been bickering a lot that morning, so I got a huge kick out of them two of them being literally stuck together while they worked to make the slime. It was perfect!





They let the slime sit for a bit while they cleaned up and it got less fluffy, but also less sticky. It turned much more like flubber than slime, but they loved that too. They popped air bubbles, rolled it out, and even bounced it.

If you're in need of a good mid-summer activity, give this one a try!

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Friday Five!!

We are supposed to be at the beach right now but calamity after calamity struck this week and we are sweating it out in the oven that is D.C. instead. BLAH! We were hot, we were cranky, but the week went on ....



Playing -- with all our lounging and waiting around, the kids have busted out several old favorite games. No Stress Chess has been in serious rotation.

Making -- even though I have a separate "cooking" link, I feel like I have to include these chocolate chip cookies the kids made. I am an awful baker, but they put there heads together to make these chocolate chip cookies.

Reading -- we've been on a roll with great audiobooks this summer and, so far, Hello, Universe is holding its own!

Wanting -- I need a pedicure in the worst way and I'm pretending the excellent base tan I got over July 4th will still be glowing enough to work with a metallic coat.

Cooking -- I didn't cook much of anything this week because I kept thinking we were headed out of town and didn't want to waste groceries. The only thing I made were the dinners we got from Plated -- fortunately everyone loved this Vietnamese Pork Bun dish!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summer Camp Organization



We're hitting our summer stride and finally have our camp organization pulled together! Head over to Honest to Nod to see how I help the kids avoid losing their goggles (again. and again. and again.).

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

XYZT: Abstract Landscapes Exhibit at ARTECHOUSE



D.C.'s art museums and galleries are among my favorite city destinations, but we've never seen something quite like ARTECHOUSE -- a new, interactive digital art gallery located just off the mall. If the gallery's first exhibit, XYZT: Abstract Landscapes, is any indication of what's to come, ARTECHOUSE's large scale interactive exhibits almost guarantee an amazing art experience for families.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Friday Five!!

We're back in town for a little bit and are wishing we were still at the beach! This whole week has been hot, humid, and rainy in D.C. Ugh. We're making the best of it and doing lots of lounging around, reading, playing games, etc. Here's what we got into ....



Playing -- Kane pulled Longhorn back out this week and they can't stop playing it.

Reading -- we started Because of Winn-Dixie this week and have been cracking up over how much the doggie reminds us of Penny (who completely and totally smiles just like Winn-Dixie). I also started The Long, Hot Summer after starting two or three other books -- still searching for an easy but good summer read for the beach!

Making -- all this rain is no problem with OOLY's gel crayons -- Cam has been drawing all over our windows (which I allow because she then cleans the whole window when she's done!!).

Cooking -- I'm still not 100% sold on the Plated service yet. I decided to bump us up to four full portions because the kids actually eat a full serving, so I don't how cost-effective it is. But the printed instructions with photos and easy steps mean the kids have been able to help cook easily. Either way, everyone loved this Grilled Chicken Souvlaki dish!

Wanting -- our backyard is teeny tiny and mostly taken up by an unnecessary garage. We're thinking about leveling and patio'ing it. I'd like an outdoor kitchen, an eating space, and a bar. Unlikely, but a girl can dream.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Hawaiian Pork Bowl and 30 Days of Dinner!!



I just wrote a nice long intro to this month's 30 Days of Dinner and then lost it. I'm at the beach, so I'm not inclined to rewrite the whole thing. The gist is that it's summer for us, we're not on much of a schedule, and our dinners are all over the place. Plus, I tried Plated this month and am still deciding whether I want to continue with that a few nights a week. Some really tasty new recipes in the mix though, including this Hawaiian Pork Bowl that everyone loved! Happy summer, all!!

*          *          *

Day 1 (Th) - BBQ Salmon Burgers
Day 2 (F) - dinner out
Day 3 - (Sat) - Slow-Cooker Orange Chicken with Potatoes; green beans
Day 4 (Sun) - dinner out at friends

Day 5 (M) - One-Skillet Steak and Spring Veg with Spicy Mustard; brown rice
Day 6 (T) - Grilled Scallops with Creamed Corn 
Day 7 (W) - Chicken Spiedie Skewers with Italian Dressing
Day 8 (Th) - dinner out
Day 9 (F) - Chili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Day 10 (Sat) - dinner out
Day 11 (Sun) - dinner out at friends

Day 12 (M) - Salmon Citrus Salad with Avocado 
Day 13 (T) - BBQ'd burgers at the pool
Day 14 (W) - dinner out at Nat's game
Day 15 (Th) - Skillet Pizza Chicken
Day 16 (F) - Chicken Meatballs with pasta
Day 17 (Sat) - dinner out
Day 18 (Sun) - Massaged Kale Salad with Cherries, Pistachios, and Grilled Steak 

Day 19 (M) - Halibut with Spicy Sausage, Tomatoes, and Rosemary; green beans; roasted potatoes
Day 20 (T) - dinner out
Day 21 (W) - BBQ at swim meet
Day 22 (Th) - Grilled Chicken Breasts with Grapefruit Glaze; Southwestern Brown Rice Salad
Day 23 (F) - Grilled Skirt Steak Salad with Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce; sweet potato fries
Day 24 (Sat) - dinner out
Day 25 (Sun) - dinner out

Day 26 (M) - Hawaiian Pork Bowl
Day 27 (T) - Plated Green Chile Chicken Tacos
Day 28 (W) - dinner out
Day 29 (Th) - Plated Seared Steak with Cherry Tomato Viniagrette
Day 30 (F) - Grilled Chicken and salad

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Friday Five!!

Happy holiday weekend, all!! We are pretty psyched to be celebrating at the beach, but we had a full week of summer at home before we left. Here's what went down ....


Cooking -- everyone LOVED these Hawaiian Pork Bowls and I was glad I anticipated that and doubled the recipe for leftovers.

Making -- Cam loves these Poppit kits and loves this new puppy one she got from her Nona!

Reading -- the kids really, really loved See You in the Cosmos and asked for another similar read. The Goldfish Boy is about a little boy with OCD who is helping to solve a neighborhood mystery and is hitting everyone's interests.

Playing -- This Math Dice Jr. game is super fun all on its own, but then we've been using them to do all other kinds of fun math games too -- an excellent addition to any math materials you might need this summer.

Wanting -- my python clutch is going on 13 years and it's starting to show. It's my absolute favorite neutral clutch and I wear it with everything. This might be a good replacement.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer Travel Kit


I don't know about you, but we seem to spend A LOT of time in our car in the summer. From adventurous day trips, rides to the beach, or just the innumerable daily errands I have to drag the kids on, there is a lot of backseat sitting. To help curb the "are we there yet?!" nagging, I put together a Summer Travel Kit with the help of The Land of Nod. Head over to their blog to check it out! 

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Friday Five!!

I feel like I blinked and it's Friday! Between summer camp, nights out, sports clinics, and swim team meets, this week just completely flew by. I totally forgot to post my Friday Five this morning. I'm sure you were devastated, so just to make sure you can head into your weekend feeling complete, here's what we got into this week ....



Making -- the kids' grandparents sent down this Tin Can Robot kit this week and they can't wait to work on it!

Cooking -- I love all kinds of raw seafood, but I really don't like cooking fish at home. And so despite the fact that our kids are fairly adventurous eaters, they also rarely eat fish. I decided to cook fish one night a week and this Halibut with Spicy Sausage had everyone hooked. Plus, it was so easy to make.

Reading -- we just started See You in the Cosmos and everyone is loving it (especially the little boy's dog, Carl Sagan!).

Playing -- no matter how many toys and games our kids acquire, nothing beats a set of fresh cardboard boxes. Our kids played with some giant cardboards boxes outside this week for almost 3 hours. In like 90-degree weather. And they used these paint sticks to turn boxes into offices, vehicles, you name it.

Wanting -- my herb garden is booming and I need a good pair of garden scissors!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Best Dog Treats and Toys for Serious Chewers

So you might have heard that one of the reasons things have been so sparse around here lately is that we adopted a new pup! Our gal Penny Lane is supposed to be around one year old, but I'm guessing she's slightly younger than that. She has a TON of puppy energy and a serious need to chew. She also has jaws of steel and crushes regular toys in seconds. So I've spent a good part of the last two months searching for items that will keep the Mr.'s shoes out of her mouth (she only chews his stuff, which kind of cracks me up). Since Penny is a part of our family and this is a family-friendly lifestyle blog, I thought it would be fun to share a few pup posts now and then. Starting with my top treat and toy finds for serious chewers. Anyone else have a new furry family member?!




1. KONG is the go to brand for tough toys and we use several of the classic ones daily, but this oversized Wobbler food and treat dispenser takes the cake. It's hard plastic but fares well with teething and has held up well with Penny slamming it around to get her breakfast.

2. Penny is obsessed with cheese -- another sign that she was meant for our family. These Himalayan Yak Cheese chews are the perfect way for her to get her chewing fix without leaving gross bone residue all over the house.

3. You say peanut butter, Penny says YASSSSSS. This Peanut Butter Nylabone is textured for optimal chewing too.

4. Cami picked out this wood stick because Penny kept stealing all of her hiking sticks -- she loves it!

5. The West Paw brand has been a consistently good choice. I love to put a treat stick in this puzzle toy and let Penny have at it.

6. We live across the street from a tennis center and have a tennis ball obsessed dog. So you can imagine how that's working out. We kept getting her new tennis balls, but she destroys them almost immediately. This KONG Jumbler Ball toy keeps her occupied for a serious amount of time as she tries to get the tennis ball out. And the handle is fun for the kids.

7. Another West Paw fave, this little treat dispenser is another fun peanut butter or treat go to.

8. Lots of pups like long toys they can whip around and this sweet potato rope doubles as a chew toy too. Penny loves to run long loops around the house flipping it around, then chews all the sweet potatoes off, then chews the ropes to bit. It makes a mess, but it's worth it.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Friday Five!!

We have had such a glorious low-key first week of summer break. We didn't venture much past the house other than to do some errands, take Penny on a big hike each day together, and go to swim team practice. We spent a lot of time unpacking (physically, emotionally, mentally) from the great school year and a lot of time prepping for summertime activities. It was my birthday on Wednesday and we had a super fun time at the Nat's game. We're gearing up for Father's Day this weekend too. Here are some of the week's highlights ....



Making -- the kids were so excited to have downtime at home that they've pooled all of their LEGOs together (that should backfire spectacularly at some point) and have been designing their own building sets. They always beg for specific sets, but the Classic Creative Brick Box gives them the most play every time.

Reading -- we took one of my childhood favorites, Charlotte's Web, everywhere with us this week. Still so good! We also started From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in the car and we are all dying over the sibling squabbling. I can't even imagine that Kane and Cami could agree how to  run away enough to get beyond our front porch. Another great book that holds up over time!

Cooking -- this Skillet Pizza Chicken won over everyone this week. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts and it was still delicious.

Wanting -- I have zero need for this cooler bar cart, but I want it. It' like summer on wheels.

Playing -- we played round after round of Pyramix this week -- Cam was beside herself because she won almost every time (which happens rarely for the youngest of a family).

Thursday, June 15, 2017

DIY Ice Candles







One of my most favorite art projects is candlemaking, but my supplies have basically been stashed away since Kane was born. I was so excited to find them old enough now to start making simple candles. Head over to Honest to Nod to get the goods on these super cool Ice Candles they made! 

Monday, June 12, 2017

The 2017 Summer Bucket List -- 85+ Ideas to Save Your Summer!!

Woohoo!!! Summer is here! Well, not technically, but our kids are out of school so I'm calling it. And around our house that means it's Summer Bucket List time. The kids took a heavy role in making the list this year and I loved seeing how their interests have changed since last summer (or not). We carried over a few of our favorites from past lists as well. And we had a fair number we didn't get to check off our Spring Bucket List, so those make a reappearance. All in all though, we are pretty psyched to get cracking!

p.s. need additional inspiration for your summer? Don't forget that Banish Boredom is chock full of fun ideas from science experiments to family field trips!


Friday, June 9, 2017

The Friday Five!!

Our summer break is here! And while I'm sure I'll be singing a different tune by the end of the day (realistically, lunch time), I am so excited to have the kids home. I felt like we hardly had any time to do anything together this spring (which was one reason for our dismal posting in May) and I'm looking forward to a few months of operating on our own schedule. Here's what we were up to this week in anticipation ....



Cooking -- I want to make everything in the new Bon Appetit Grill volume, but this was maybe my favorite so far this week. One pan for the win!! And I've been putting the extra spicy mustard on things all week. 

Reading -- we all loved Wonder so much that we moved on to a similarly-themed Fish in a Tree. I wish I hadn't waited until the end of the school year to have the kids hear some positive words about being different, and the importance of kindness and friendship. But they are both loving this book too and I think maybe it's helping them sort some things out now that school is done for the year. 

Playing -- I've been gathering some really fun new games to play this summer, but we stuck with an old standby this week. This card version of Pictionary is easy to do on the go and super silly. 

Making -- Cam received this decorate your own journal kit for her birthday and has been adding to this all week. She uses it more like a traditional journal than a selfie repository, but it's super cute. 

Wanting -- my obsession with small gold stud earrings continues and I feel like I need this monogram pair

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Shrimp Cakes + 30 Days of Dinner!!


I know, I know. I have been horribly delinquent with the blog for the past month. No one real reason. Just life. I didn't even get around to taking a good photo of my fave recipe for the month. BUT these Shrimp Cakes are so darn good, I have to share them anyways.

Our kids are very good about eating adventurously, but they both balk at cooked seafood. They'll belly up to a raw bar like nobody's business, but serve them cooked fish? You can expect gagging. But they both totally chowed these shrimp cakes. That alone makes them worth the time and effort (this is not a short-cut weeknight din). But I also thought they were really fabulous. And they were equally delicious as a cold leftover the next day. I doubled the recipe when I made it and I was glad!

Shrimp Cakes 
(from SkinnyTaste)

Ingredients: 
- 1 lb peeled and deveined jump shrimp, tails removed
- 1 cup plus 3 tbsp whole wheat plain panko
- 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/4 cup celery, finely diced
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp light mayo
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 tsp Old Bay
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- lemon wedges for serving

Directions:
1. Pat shrimp dry with a paper towel and place in food processor. Pulse until shrimp are finely chopped. Transfer shrimp to a medium bowl and add 3 tbsp of panko, red onion, red pepper, celery, parsley, mayo, mustard, egg, lemon juice, Old Bay, garlic powder, and pepper. Mix gently.
2. On a small plate, combine 1 cup panko with 1/4 tsp of salt and pepper. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop shrimp mixture and using your hands, form mixture into a 1-inch patty. Place patty on the plate with panko and evenly coat with panko mixture. With a large spatula, carefully transfer shrimp cake to a plate. Repeat with remaining mixture. You should end up with 8 patties.
3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp of oil. When oil is hot, add 4 patties, evenly spacing them apart. Cook for 3 minutes, carefully flip with the spatula and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Place cooked cakes on a plate, add remaining tbsp of oil and repeat the process. Serve with sprinkled parsley and lemon wedges.

*                    *                    *

Day 1 (T) -- dinner out 
Day 2 (W) -- Chicken Breast Sauteed in Sweet Red Onion + Lemon (I always leave the sugar out)
Day 3 (Th) -- leftovers 
Day 4 (F) -- dinner out 
Day 5 (Sat) -- dinner out 
Day 6 (Sun) -- Vampire Steak, Cauliflower and Carrot Puree, roasted potatoes 

Day 8 (T) -- brinner 
Day 9 (W) -- Slow Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas 
Day 10 (Th) -- Slow Cooked Briskey and Onions, Easy Paleo Roasted Carrots, Chunky Mashed Potatoes with Buttermilk and Chives 
Day 11 (F) -- dinner out 
Day 12 (Sat) -- dinner out 
Day 13 (Sun) -- Back Pocket Bolognese, spaghetti squash 

Day 14 (M) -- Peppercorn-Crusted Tenderloin with Gremolata, Shaved Brussels Sprouts Sautee (my new fave way to cook BS!), baked sweet potatoes 
Day 15 (T) -- Shrimp Cakes, roasted cauliflower 
Day 16 (W) -- leftovers/brinner 
Day 17 (Th) -- Grilled Chicken Tacos, brown rice, salad
Day 18 (F) -- dinner out 
Day 19 (Sat) -- dinner out 
Day 20 (Sun) -- dinner out 

Day 21 (M) -- Honey Mustard Chicken Chopped Salad (EVERYONE LOVED!!!)
Day 22 (T) -- Greek Style Cheeseburgers, sweet potato french fries 
Day 23 (W) -- Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Tacos with Picked Onions and Pineapple Pico 
Day 24 (Th) -- in NJ
Day 25 (F) -- in NJ 
Day 26 (Sat) -- in NJ 
Day 27 (Sun) -- in NJ 

Day 28 (M) -- brinner 
Day 29 (T) -- dinner out 
Day 30 (W) -- Chicken Fajitas 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Tips to Organize Sports Equipment



Yes, we're still here!! As you might have noticed, we've been busy doing all kinds of things other than posting on the blog. But I've been planning a bunch of new projects, including getting our house ready for summer break, so just stick with me. 

As I count down the last days of school (I think I'm more excited about it than my kids), I start making a mad dash to organize the house for full time kid occupancy. And no where needed it more than our sports equipment area. Head over to Honest to Nod to see my attempt at helping the kids keep track of the ever-growing gear! 

p.s. this is Penny's blog debut and she's doing exactly what she's good at: getting into things and looking adorable doing so. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Greek Chicken and Potatoes (One Pan) + 30 Days of Dinner!!


This set of dinners is basically us getting on and back off the Whole30 train (and like a whole week of eating out after the first night of Passover). I mentioned a few weeks ago that I've been having a hard time sticking with it this go around. So I decided to switch gears a little bit. I love eating Paleo and the Whole30 reset, but lately I just felt like I was vacillating between eating all the things and eating nothing.

If you've ever met anyone in our family, you know moderation isn't really our thing. Even with things that are good for you. We're a kind of all or nothing bunch. And that's one reason I love Whole30 so much -- I don't really have to deal with trying to eat certain things in moderation. I just can't have them. And what I can eat, the portions are not super strict (there are guidelines, but ....) But I'm trying to be an actual adult, so I decided to try eating mostly clean but with more strict portion control. So you'll continue seeing lots of Paleo-friendly recipes around here, but more just all-around healthy eats too. We'll see how it goes!!

My favorite recipe from this 30 days was easily adapted to Whole30, but even more delicious (and still healthy!) with the cheese. It's really bright, flavorful, and super easy for weeknights.

Greek Chicken and Potatoes (One Pan)
(slightly adapted from Cafe Delites

Ingredients
Marinade:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tsp salt
- cracked pepper to taste
- 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast

Tray Bake:
- 17 1/2 ounces potatoes, diced into 1-inch pieces (about 2 medium potatoes)
- 1 red onion, cut into wedges
- 1 lemon, halved
- 4 tbsp pitted Kalamata olives
- 4 tbsp cubed Feta cheese

Directions
1. Combine marinade ingredients together and pour over chicken into a gallon bag. Marinate for at least 15 minutes, up to over night.
2. Preheat oven to 430 F. Spray a baking pan with cooking oil spray. Arrange chicken, potatoes, and onions on the pan. Drizzle the potatoes and onion with a small amount of olive oil and juice from half of the lemon. Season everything with a bit more of salt and pepper to taste. Toss the potatoes and onion in the oil to evenly coat. Slice the remaining lemon half into slices and arrange over the chicken.
3. Bake until the potatoes are golden/crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, and the chicken is completely cooked through (about 30-35 minutes). Change oven setting to broil and cook another 5 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown. Add olives and cheese before serving (or leave cheese off for Whole30).

*                    *                    *

Day 1 (Sun) -- dinner out 

Day 2 (M) -- Grilled Chicken Tacos, cauliflower rice, salad 
Day 4 (W) -- brinner -- eggs, roasted sweet potatoes, salad 
Day 5 (Th) -- Balsamic Mustard Roast Beef (this was DELICIOUS!), green beans 
Day 6 (F) -- dinner out 
Day 8 (Sun) -- dinner out 

Day 9 (M) -- Passover: Slow Cooker Brisket and Onions (I made a huge brisket, so I did half in the slow cooker and half in the oven -- the oven batch was far better), Apple Walnut Charoset, Roasted Sweet Potato Slices with Pesto, Pan Seared Brussels Sprouts
Day 10 (T) -- dinner out
Day 11 (W) -- dinner out
Day 12 (Th) -- brinner
Day 13 (F) -- dinner out
Day 14 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 15 (Sun) -- Greek Chicken and Potatoes (One Pan)

Day 16 (M) -- Crockpot Paleo Chicken
Day 17 (T) -- Apple and Bacon Smothered Pork Chops
Day 18 (W) -- brinner
Day 19 (Th) -- Chicken Fajita Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (a family fave this month)
Day 20 (F) -- One Skillet Mediterranean Chicken 
Day 21 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 22 (Sun) -- dinner out

Day 23 (M) -- Slow Cooker Short Rib Chili 
Day 24 (T) -- Grilled Chicken, Burst Tomato, and Artichoke Skewers with Goat Cheese Dip (no dip for Whole30), riced cauliflower
Day 25 (W) -- Carne Asada, Green Beans and Beets with Balsamic Reduction (no cheese for Whole30), Crispy Lemon Oven-Roasted Potatoes
Day 26 (Th) -- leftovers
Day 27 (F) -- dinner out
Day 28 (Sat) -- brinner
Day 29 (Sun) -- dinner out

Day 30 (M) -- One Pot Cheesy Taco Skillet (I used half ground turkey, half ground beef. Leave off the cheese for Whole30)

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Friday Five!!

I actually had several posts planned for this week and then several things just went off the rails. So ... here we are again at a Friday Five. And we're headed into a weekend of cold and rain. Ugh. I so needed this week to be capped off by a weekend of glorious weather. Oh well. Here's what we got in before the downpour started.

p.s. Happy Cinco de Mayo!!


Wanting -- I need some lighter wash skinnies for spring and I have my eye on these.

Cooking -- I almost forgot about my go-to easy chicken dinner, but thankfully pulled it out when I failed to start the slow cooker (AGAIN) one night this week. I just leave out the sugar.

Making -- Cam and I have been working on our spring manis and she has been loving these nail stickers (although some are totally bizarre).

Reading -- we are all enthralled with Wonder still, but I am also about to start Station Eleven.

Playing -- One of Cam's friends gave her this fabulous Djeco Paper Doll set --- there is such a great range of styles!

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Friday Five!!

Today is Cam's birthday and it is GLORIOUS outside, which is a great way to end what has been a pretty fabulous week already!! We spent a lot of this week continuing to get Penny Lane settled, including starting some doggy training. The trainer described Penny as very sweet, smart, stubborn, and in your face with all of her emotions from love to anxiety. I replied that she just described every other member of our nuclear family, so Penny was in the right place. Besides preparing for a weekend of celebrations and largely not blogging (sorry!), here's what else we were up to .....



Playing -- I'm officially a dorky dog training mom complete with treat bag and clicker. At least it's black to match my outfit. The kids are working on teaching Penny to come by playing puppy ping-pong back and forth between them. It's adorable.

Wanting -- I use my cast iron skillet for so, so many things. I want this lidded baby bad.

Making -- Cam has been on a kick of re-exploring a lot of our collage materials and she's been glitter mosaic'ing pretty much everything this week. I don't mind a bit.

Reading -- we've been on a stretch of entertaining audio books but I wanted to change things up a bit. So we just started Wonder -- it's already so, so good.

Cooking -- we started a new round of the Whole30 this week (fingers crossed!!) and I've been grilling up a storm. This Carne Asada is a huge family fave - so much flavor!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spring Birthday Party Ideas

We are just a few days away from Cami's seventh (SEVENTH!!) birthday so I've got birthday parties on my brain. Even though we aren't doing a big party for Cam this year, I love to virtually shop around for party ideas and celebratory inspiration. We've also been waiting for spring for a looooong time this year and while it's warmed up and things have started to bloom, it's been grey and rainy all week in D.C. So I've been particularly drawn to parties with pops of color. I pulled together by favorites below -- many are elaborate and over the top, which is personally how I often like to party. But even if you don't go crazy, there are some super cute ideas here to pull from. Party on!!


1 Tropical Tutti Frutti Party / this is right up Cam's alley. She thinks most things sugary are "too sweet" and often asks for fruit instead (I know, how can she be my child!?).

2 Neon Party / this particular party wasn't for a birthday, but I just love how they've used neon colors. Cam is obsessed with neon this season, but so many of the parties out there go 80s day glow. I love this take on the color palette.

3 Geometric Unicorn Party / Cami would take just about any unicorn birthday party, but I love the geometric angle of this one.

4 Stinky Cheese Party / so maybe no one would go to this except for my kids, but Kane loves stinky cheese more than sweets. The stinkier, the better. Now that I know you can make a candle out of cheese, I just might have to throw him a party all about it.

5 Pizza Party / I think this super fun cake completely updates the ol' standby pizza party. Sign me up.


6 Modern Minecraft Party / pretty much every elementary-aged kid is obsessed with Minecraft, including mine. This modern version makes me happy. Plus, free printables.

7 Watermelon Party / even if your kiddo doesn't heart all the fruits like Cam, everyone loves sweet watermelon.

8 Star Wars Party / Star Wars never goes out of style and this updated bash would be perfect way to amp kids up for the new release later this year.

9 Watercolor Party / the kids could totally help make this backdrop for an art party.

10 Bright Confetti Party / need I say more?

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Friday Five!!

This week has been dominated by our new pup Penny Lane! She is a super sweet girl we adopted last Sunday and we've spent most of the week getting her comfortable in her new home, teaching her our schedule, and just generally getting to know each other. She is a rockstar and the kids are obsessed! We're talking arguing over who can pick up her poop obsessed. I'll make sure to remind them of this next week when no one will take her outside.

Wanting -- I've had my current frames for a long time and I love them, but I'm in the mood for an additional pair to switch things up. These are the current top contenders.

Reading -- I'm having the hardest time getting back to Whole30 this spring (mostly, I can't up my wine in the evening), so I thought a little motivational reading might help. I read the basic books a few years ago, but just started Food Freedom Forever. Fingers crossed it kicks me in the right direction. The kids have been reading Penny all kinds of books for her "story time" and it is insanely adorable.

Cooking -- everyone loved these Chicken Fajita Stuffed Sweet Potatoes last night and they are a super easy weeknight meal.

Making -- Cam has moved on to designing clothes for Penny (of course), so she's been spending lots of time sketching doggie outfits in her creative journals.

Playing -- no big surprise that we've mostly been playing with Ms. Penny this week! She is a smart lady so I'm stocking up on some puzzle toys for her. I think this one's going to be a hit.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Kids Creative Journals



As I'm guessing you saw yesterday, we recently set up a maker area for Cam in her room. To help keep her organized and her creativity flowing, we've been encouraging to try out different methods of creative journaling. Head over to the OOLY blog to see what she's been doing! 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Kids Maker Area



I'm sure you've noticed that Cam has become a prolific maker of all kinds of arts and crafts. I can hardly keep up with the projects she's got going on at any given time. So we decided to make her her very own maker space. Head over to Honest to Nod to check it out!!


Friday, April 14, 2017

The Friday Five!!

We had a busy week with sports starting back up, a Banish Boredom maker workshop, new freelance work, family in town, Passover, and two sort of pop up mid-week social events. Plus my allergies have been slaying me. I had a migraine for almost two days straight last weekend despite the fact that I actually took my migraine medicine. In the end, the only thing that helped was sleep and bread. SO, that means I need to restart my Whole30, which is making me very grumpy. Getting through the first five days is the hardest part and I'd done that. Plus instead of eating sensibly this week until I could restart, I went way off the wagon. Which makes me even crankier. And then more bread. But there's always tomorrow .... Here's what else we got into this week: 


Wanting -- I'm not normally one for a lot of bright prints, but this dress looks like it would be perfect for summer. 

Cooking -- I bought a 7.5 lb brisket for Passover, which meant I split it in two and put one half in the oven and the other in the slow cooker. I used this recipe for both, but the one I cooked in the oven was WAY, WAY more delicious. Noted for next time! 

Reading -- I just started Shoe Dog this week and it's fascinating. 

Making -- we had a drop-in maker event last Sunday at a local DC library. It turned out to be an absolutely GORGEOUS day out, so not many people were inside at a library. But we had plenty of friends show up to make super fun collage portraits. I used our Polaroid Snap camera to take a photo of each kiddo and then they incorporated it into a collage -- kids love pictures of themselves! 

Playing -- Cam had her big first grade significant person's presentation this week. She researched and wrote a "speech" about Wilma Rudolph. She was all about dressing up for the role too and now she keeps wearing the medals around everywhere. 


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ice Boat Racing Craft




Looking for a fun outdoor activity for spring?! Head over to Honest to Nod to see how we made and raced these cute ice boats!



Friday, April 7, 2017

The Friday Five!!

I'm not going to lie, it's been a rough week transitioning back to reality. It has been nice to get back on a schedule though, and everyone seems recharged to push through to the end of the school year. Here's what we did with our week back ....



Reading -- We started a new series this week and it's hysterical. Granted, we started with the second book in the series, The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle, but we had no problem jumping in. I'd also stocked up on beach reads that I never actually got around to reading on vacation, so I'm reading My Not So Perfect Life.

Cooking -- did you catch our 30 Days of Dinner from earlier in the week? Pretty lean on new recipes, BUT those Grilled Chicken "Tacos" are amazing.

Playing -- my MIL got Kane the Dr. Eureka Speed Logic game a bit ago and it's become one of our family favorites.

Making -- Cam was so happy to get back to her full range of maker supplies. She learned how to make paper hinges at school this week, so she's been whipping up a bunch of "travel artwork" that pops up on hinges for everyone. Thankfully she's been hitting up this set of 30 rolls of tape she begged me for a while back to frame them.

Wanting -- our beloved family dog, Vegas, died almost three years ago. And I just haven't been able to emotionally handle getting a new dog. But I think we are just about there and have started looking to adopt a new furry family member. Fingers crossed we can provide a forever home to one soon!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

5 Ways to Keep the Kids Cool This Spring

We just returned from a fabulous spring break trip where every day was gorgeously sunny and 85 degrees. While D.C. weather hasn't quite hit that stride yet, the temperatures here are starting to climb, and I couldn't be happier about it. But I also know that before long the kids will start whining about it being too hot.

It happens every year. One minute everyone is complaining about winter going on for forever, and the next, the kids are claiming that it's too hot to go outside. Fortunately, I keep a running list of ways to keep the kids from overheating while entertaining themselves. Here are my five favorites.

Experiment With Cool Science

Kids are always up for science experiments, and taking a messy project outdoors is always a great way to sneak in some education. I love to add in a cool-down element to spring and summer experiments. Try making some icy goop for a lesson in physics or a potions station that includes cold water and ice to let the kids come up with their own experiments.

Set Up Simple Water Play
Put out the kiddie pool, turn on that freezing hose, and add a bunch of simple kitchen toys. I'm always amazed at how much time our kids, even now that they are older, will spend just futzing around with water. If you have a little extra time for something more complicated, try using cold water to make a giant sensory squish bag. It's worth it!

Art Outdoors

You know that I'm not mess averse, but for those of you who can't stand art exploding in your living room, use the opportunity to let kids do art outside while staying cool. We love to mix up a batch of liquid sidewalk chalk or frozen playdough. Sometimes I even roll out a big piece of paper and let the kids make a collective mural. Whatever the activity, I put them in their bathing suits and hose them down after!

"Cook" Something Cool
Our kids love to cook, and making something cool is such a fun way to spend time together. We love to make popsicles and smoothies, both of which are easy for kids to make and help keep everyone cool.

Take Indoor Cool Downtime
It sounds oxymoronic, but I always make sure to plan some downtime indoors when the weather starts to get warm. We spend the time reading together, playing a game, or just lounging around. A little bit of time in air conditioning makes everyone happier. Just make sure that you program your thermostat correctly so that the downtime doesn't overwork your air conditioner and send your energy bills skyrocketing.

Each of these takes a little bit of parental setup time, but I find that the more often we do them, our kids become more independent at seeking them out and entertaining themselves. So you just might find time for yourself to cool off, too!


Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Roberts Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. Thanks for helping to support the sponsors who support us!