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)

- 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

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.

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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