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!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Grilled Chicken "Tacos" + 30 Days of Dinner!!

Our last month of food has been one of extremes. We've gone from eating mostly clean to professional-chef-dining all last week on spring break. And we had plenty of other travel and dining out mixed in too. Needless to say, I'm in serious need of a round of Whole30, which I started yesterday. I originally planned on just going back to a 80-20 clean eating-indulging plan. But based on the number of pina coladas I consumed last week, more drastic measures are in order. Boo.

What's not boo? These delicious grilled chicken "tacos," which I serve to the kids as actual tacos and to the "adults" in our family as grilled chicken over cauliflower rice. They are super tasty and I love a grill recipe that doesn't require 8 hours of marinating. Weeknights don't have time for that. You should definitely fire up your grill for this recipe, but take what you will from our last 30 days of meals. I realize including over a week of eating out is not helpful, but it's what happened over vacation. And so it goes.

Grilled Chicken Tacos
(slightly adapted from Epicurious

- 1 medium onion, cut into wedges, keeping root intact 
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 lb, boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp olive oil 
- 1 tsp kosher salt 
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
- 2 avocados 
- cilantro 

1. Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Toss onion, garlic, chicken, cumin, oil, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Grill onion and chicken until cooked through and lightly charred, about 5 - 6 minutes each side. 

2. Let chicken rest 5 minutes before slicing. Serve on top of cauliflower rice with cilantro and avocado. 

*          *          *

30 Days of Dinner

Day 1 (F) -- dinner out 
Day 2 (Sat) -- dinner out 
Day 3 (Sun) -- Paleo Taco Skillet 

Day 4 (M) -- One Pan Balsamic Chicken and Veggies, salad, and kids had pasta too. 
Day 5 (T) -- omelets, Potato and Pepper Hash 
Day 7 (Th) -- Grilled Chicken "Tacos," Whole Cauliflower Braised in Tomato Sauce
Day 8 (F) -- dinner out in NY
Day 9 (Sat) -- dinner out in NY 
Day 10 (Sun) -- dinner out in NY 

Day 11 (M) -- dinner out in NY 
Day 12 (T) -- Corned Beef and Cabbage with Parsley-Mustard Sauce, mashed potatoes, carrots 
Day 13 (W) -- Crockpot Beef Chili 
Day 14 (Th) -- leftovers 
Day 15 (F) -- dinner out 
Day 17 (Sun) -- Grilled Steak Salad, sweet potato wedges 

Day 18 (M) -- Garlic, Lemon, and Herb Grilled Chicken Breasts, brussels sprouts, salad 
Day 19 (T) -- brinner 
Day 20 (W) -- dinner out 
Day 21 (Th) -- Paleo Taco Skillet (I used ground turkey and everyone seemed to love that more than the usual ground beef) 
Day 22 (F) -- dinner out 
Day 23 (Sat) -- spring break 
Day 24 (Sun) -- spring break 

Day 25 (M) -- spring break 
Day 26 (T) -- spring break 
Day 27 (W) -- spring break 
Day 28 (Th) -- spring break 
Day 29 (F) -- spring break 
Day 30 (Sat) -- spring break