New Etsy Shop

Hey friends!

You may or may not notice that I haven’t been posting as consistently as normal. I wish I could tell you it’s because I won the lottery or had a baby or some big blogger discovered me and I have been helping them.

But it’s because I am a crazy person and keep adding things to my proverbial plate.

People always say to me “you do so much.” “How do you keep up?” “How do you get it all done?” “I could never do all you do.” And usually I respond with “I couldn’t sit at home and do nothing.”

My mind races a mile and minute, and that’s ok for me. I keep busy and I think I would go insane if I had nothing to do. I can’t remember the last time I napped while my kids napped or I just sat and did nothing. It’s just not me!

So, with that being said, I launched a new Etsy shop!

In doing research, shops are more successful if your niche is small. So I am planning on separating my shops into 2 – Home decor and kids and baby gift. I have launched my kids and baby site and I am so pumped. I am starting with baby blankets and superhero capes but plan to add so much more. Here are some pictures of some of them.

img_7250edit_edited-1 img_7267edit img_7210edit-copy img_7216edit-copy    img_7280edit_edited-1 img_7293edit_edited-1 And here are a few with personalization

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I img_7120edit-copy I am having so much fun picking out all these different designs and getting them turned into blankets. It’s a great way for me to practice sewing and making these bright colors come alive. Please feel free to hit me up with special requests!

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Meal Planning Monday – Lasagna Pasta

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Pasta is delicious. I mean, can you get much better than a carb in some sauce and then smothered in cheese? Multiple kinds of cheese! It’s so, so amazing.

Lasagna is my favorite kind of pasta. I bet you can guess why. Because it has 3 kind of cheese in it. (In our case,) cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.  Normally, recipes for lasagna have you use ricotta cheese. My mom has always used cottage cheese and I am never satisfied with ricotta cheese. Which is precisely why you won’t ever see me ordering lasagna at restaurants.  They just don’t make it correctly! Haha…

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The first few times I wanted to make lasagna on my own, I called my mom to ask her for her recipe. To which she responded, “recipe?” She never wrote it down. She just threw some stuff together. So she rattled off what she put together and gave me her blessing. I am fairly certain I still called her 2-3 times during the cooking process, and 90% of the time she was not able to give me a solid answer.

So, armed with my mom’s “recipe,” I was expected to create her recipe.

Does that make sense?

I don’t think so either.

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I did eventually get it all written down, but mine never turned out like hers. It always turned out like soup. Even if I used precooked noodles, noodles that don’t need to be cooked, whatever. It didn’t work. So I set out to try some other form of lasagna pasta because I could just toss it all into a pan and it was much easier.

Boy was I right.

Ingredients:

1 box (1 pound) mostacolli pasta
1 pounds ground beef
1 jar (24 oz) pasta sauce
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Grated parmesan cheese to top

Directions:
1. In a large pot, start cooking the pasta according to the box’s directions.
2. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef while breaking it up into small pieces.
3. Drain the meat (if needed) and add back to the skillet.
4. Add a cup of sauce and heat the sauce and meat over low heat until warmed through.
5. Add your drained, cooked pasta and stir until they are all combined.
6. Add cottage cheese and mix on low heat.
7. Stir for about 1 minute.
8. Add shredded mozzarella cheese until it is all melted.
9. Top with parmesan cheese and serve.

 

Get the printable version here. lp1

Sensory Sniffing Jars

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If you are a regular reader around here, you know that I love sensory activities. I will spare you with the details as to why because I’m pretty sure I’ve shared that 100 times.

I took a little break with sensory activities because I felt like it was all I was doing. It took over all of my educational posts. I was a woman obsessed! It’s just so fun to watch the looks on kid’s faces as they cram their hands into some gooey substance or the way their nose turns up with they smell something super gross!

Oh, sorry…I said I would spare you my reasons.

I haven’t really done a sensory activity with the sense of smell. I’ve done plenty with touch.

The Dollar Tree has these little snack containers in their food storage section. I have absolutely no idea what you would store in them because they are so tiny. But naturally, I snagged them up thinking I would use them at some point in my life. I mean, it was 10 containers for $1!

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I remember doing a sensory activity when I taught with little jars and holes in the cap. We put different extracts onto cotton balls and plopped them into the jar. The kids loved them! We diffuse oils around here from time to time (read: when I remember to fill it) so I decided to recreate this project, but with oils. BOOM.

I took the little containers and a razor and sliced a small square hole out of the top. I put cotton balls inside each container (2 cotton balls per container) and dropped some oils onto the cotton balls. Some cotton balls got 2 drops, some got 10 drops.

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Of course since it was actually supposed to be an infant project, Dylan stepped in to “help” and then couldn’t get enough of them. He would sniff one and then try to tell me what it was.

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Reagan tried to eat them. Because she’s 1. She honestly had a lot more fun stacking them then actually smelling (read: eating) them.

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We used lime, orange, lavender, blends, cinnamon bark (yuck)….we had a lot of fun putting it together.

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Halloween Treats Round Up

As I’ve said lots of times before, I am not a baker. I do love, however, to pin things on Pinterest that look delicious, with the complete knowledge that they will never get made in my house. Unless someone is coming over or we’re going to someone else’s house.

I wanted to make my own Halloween treats but was so overwhelmed with the different levels of ability. Something would look so simple, I would click on it, only to realize it wasn’t so simple.

So, I did the work for you and rounded up 5 easy Halloween Treats.

Photo courtesy of justataste.com
Photo courtesy of justataste.com

Halloween Candy Bark via Just A Taste
Candy bark is so crazy easy and you can add anything to it. All you need for this recipe is 3 cups bittersweet chocolate and 2 cups assorted candies. She used candy corn, Kit Kats, candy eyeballs she found at her grocery store, peanut butter cups, & m&m’s. She also has a few other recipes linked in that post. Check them all out!

Photo courtesy of sallysbakingaddiction.com
Photo courtesy of sallysbakingaddiction.com

Candy Corn Pretzel Hugs via Sally’s Baking Addiction
Candy corn is a favorite in our house and so are chocolate covered pretzels. Put them together. Boom. Done.

Photo courtesy of cupcakediaries.com
Photo courtesy of cupcakediaries.com

Halloween Chex Treat via Cupcake Diaries
Another super simple recipe that mixes salty and sweet flavors. All you need for this one is a few snacks and a sweet sugar sauce to bring it all together.

Photo courtesy of twosisterscrafting.com
Photo courtesy of twosisterscrafting.com

Halloween Candy Corn Popcorn via Two Sister’s Crafting
Here is another recipe that blends sweet and salty. That dang candy corn makes an appearance again! Popcorn, salt, butter, candy corn, marshmallows and m&m’s.

Photo courtesy of chelseasmessyapron.com
Photo courtesy of chelseasmessyapron.com

4 Ingredient Halloween Treats (eyeballs!) via Chelsea’s Messy Apron
Peanut butter cups make another appearance in this simple eyeball recipe. Grouped together with cream cheese frosting, black gel and chewy Lifesavers, they are crazy easy (of course) and really tasty.

Let me know in the comments if you made any of these and how they turned out! Happy Halloween!

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Meal Planning Monday – Pizza Dip

My least favorite thing about not having an out of the house job is definitely the lack of food choices for snack and lunch. When I worked, I could walk into the giant kitchen and be surprised with the delicious snacks I could have (especially while I was pregnant.) Now, all I have is the lame stuff I buy. When I worked, I could walk across the street and grab a sub sandwich, or around the corner to McDonald’s. Now that requires me to put 2 kids in car seats and we all know how much of a hassle that can be.
I love food.
So one day I was craving something with cheese (shocking, I know). I had some bagel chips and rummaged through the fridge to find something for a dip.
Ohhhh myyyyy goodness. Jackpot.
Cream cheese, marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. DONE AND DONE.
I give you, pizza dip.

 

Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
3/4 cup pizza or pasta sauce (adjust according to taste)*
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
*If you want to add “toppings,” add them to the sauce layer. Cooked crumbled sausage, chopped pepperoni, small chopped veggies, etc
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Spray a square baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.
3. In a small bowl, mix together cream cheese, cheddar, basil, garlic and 1/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese until well combined.
4. Spread the cream cheese mixture into the grease baking dish evenly (I use my hands for this part).
5. Spoon your sauce on evenly over the cream cheese.
6. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining mozzarella (1 cup) and the parmesan cheese.
7. Cover the sauce mixture with the mozzarella / parmesan cheese mixture.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes; until cheese is bubbly.
9. Serve with crackers, bagel chips, tortilla chips, whatever.
This is served best warm, but it’s also ok from the fridge. But it’s best warm. Trust me.
Looking for more snack ideas?

 

 

 

 

Sensory Bottles from The Dollar Store

I took a long break from sensory activities because I felt like that’s all I was writing about. But I couldn’t stay away any longer.

When we went on our road trip to Denver in July to see my brother, I was on Reagan duty in the way back seat. We had already done a trip to Georgia so I kind of had a feeling about how she was going to be.

Well, she was worse. She was so over being in the car and I don’t blame her. I normally don’t mind the car but, like her, I just wanted out. On one leg of the trip she was so mad. We handed her a Sparkling Ice water bottle (because my 13 year old brother is obsessed with them) and it kept her busy for a (relatively) long time. The size was perfect for her and she could fit her hands around it. So I got an idea!

I asked my mom and brother (which basically means my mom) to start saving them for me. Remember last summer I did a blog post on some sensory bins for Dylan before the baby came? Well I have been meaning to make sensory bottles for Reagan and I thought this was the perfect opportunity.

I took a trip to my beloved Dollar Tree with the small opening of the bottles in mind. I grabbed googly eyes, sand, small rocks, marbles, baby shampoo, rice, pasta, pony beads, hot glue gun sticks (glitter glue), alphabet beads, beans, vegetable oil…I was like a kid in a candy store! Which is basically a DIY blogger in the Dollar Store. Or Hobby Lobby.

Oh, full disclosure, I am not sure if you can get food coloring at the Dollar Tree – I don’t think you can. I colored my water with food coloring that I already had at home.

When I started work on them, I took the labels off first. It is much easier to clean if you tear them off in one piece. You are going to have some sticky residue left over, so I used nail polish remover with a cotton pad and then when that dried, I used coconut oil to get the rest of it. Some of it was super stubborn and didn’t all come off, but it wasn’t sticky anymore and that’s all that really mattered to me.

When you’re at the Dollar Tree, for the love of all that is Holy, please buy a funnel. It will save your sanity. You can get them in a pack of 3 for (yep, you guessed it), $1. 😉

Here is what I put into mine. You can mix and match any of those items. I focused on sound for these for Reagan because she loves to make noise.

 
Here they are, from left to right:

-Pasta and alphabet beads
This one is great for both kids because Dylan can tell me which letters he sees while they are playing with it together.
 

-Water and hot glitter glue
I loaded up my hot glue gun (every house should have one of these. They should come standard in tool kits) with the glitter glue sticks and melted it onto my silicone craft mat in different shapes and sizes. Once they were cooled off, I peeled them off of the craft mat and popped them into the water. (yes, I realize they resemble sperm).

-Water, food coloring, baby oil and glitter.
The water, oil and glitter all separate but look super cool when you shake it.

-Black craft sand and googly eyes.
This one is really cool for Halloween! She loves the sound this one makes.

-Water, food coloring and marbles.
This one is kind of heavy which is nice because it gives it another sensory experience. It makes a lot of noise and is fun to watch.

-Dry rice and pony beads
Very colorful and makes a cool, loud noise!

-Water, food coloring and baby oil
The baby oil and food coloring separate nicely and like the first bottle, it looks really cool when you shake it up.

-Colored rocks, water and food coloring.
This one also is heavy which is nice and makes a loud noise. It looks cool when you roll it, too!

-Water, food coloring and baby shampoo.
When it’s not shaken up, this one just looks like plain old pink water. But when you shake it, it creates a really cool lather in there.

You can also dye the pasta and rice (I have a tutorial here) if you are feeling super creative. You can alter these to your children’s ages. More letters for older kids, less colors for super young babies. Like most of my projects, have fun with it!

Looking for more sensory activities?

Meal Planning Monday – Egg and Hashbrown Cups

As I’ve mentioned before, Reagan is a piggy. She will eat anything you put in front of her. I have never seen her refuse something. Unless I try to serve it to her on a spoon. Then she stares at me like I am trying to serve her moldy fruit. And shakes her head.

I took to my recipe group to find some more breakfast ideas because I don’t eat breakfast. I was getting sick of giving her yogurt bites and puffs. She loved them, but I felt like a crap mom for giving her only those 2 things. And her brother only eats microwave turkey sausage. He’ll ask for yogurt but doesn’t touch it. It’s infuriating.

So after a few suggestions, I decided to try my hand at egg cups.

Muffin tins are God’s gift to the culinary world. I am obsessed with cooking things in them. Oatmeal, meatloaf, corn bread when I make chili, sauces…the list goes on. It’s easy, cooks faster and so nice to freeze leftovers. So I did the eggs in the cups. And wouldn’t ya know?! Even I eat breakfast now!

Ok, I did once.

But that’s good for me! I would love to tell you that both of my kids love these but that would be lying. And I am not a liar. Dylan tried it, said it was “delicious, mommy!” But then never ate them again.

Story of my LIFE.


Ingredients:
2 cups cubed potatoes
10 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup diced ham
Directions:
1. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray, set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350.
3. In a large bowl, combine 10 eggs and water.
4. Beat until mixed.
5. Add potatoes, ham and cheese.
6. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
7. Pour evenly into 12 muffin cups.
8. Bake for 30 minutes, or until eggs are set.
9. If you are freezing them, wrap them in a paper towel and microwave for 90 seconds.

Get the printable recipe here.

Looking for more breakfast ideas? Check them out here!

Alphabet Blocks

Happy Friday!

I’m just going to jump right into it today.

Dylan has been having a blast with his big Duplo blocks. He grabs the big bucket and drags them into my craft room and goes to town. He builds trains, spiders, buildings, cars, “shooters,” airplanes…you name it, he’s built it. He even uses the bucket as part of his play. It’s usually a body of water – ocean, lake, river, whatever.

I have been wanting to do letters with him as he starts preschool in a few weeks (right after Labor Day) but he has no desire. So I thought back to my preschool days. When lesson planning, I always catered to the boys because they were more stubborn. I would be more likely to see boys doing a “girl activity” than girls doing a “boy activity.” So I used the blocks to my advantage a lot.

I took out his Duplo blocks and measured them and then created rectangles for the 2 part blocks. I printed this out and cut them up and taped them to the front of each block (I didn’t have a lot so I used both sides of the blocks for the letters – uppercase on one side and lowercase on the other side).

At first, I’m not gonna lie, he ripped them off and told me he didn’t want them on his blocks. So, obviously not on my side. But I put them back on and he was playing with them. He wouldn’t stack them according to their letter and picture, but I did catch him repeating the letters as he picked them up or saying the picture.

In my book, that’s a success.

You could really do anything on these. Animals, people…tailor it to their age group.

You can download the letter version here for your own use.

Looking for more activities that help with letters? Check out this simple DIY Letter Flip Book!

The Second Child Guilt

A friend of mine came to me with the need to vent. She loves her 2 children absolutely dearly and there is no denying that. But sometimes she is brought back to when life was much easier…with just one child.
Moms who have more than one kid – do you ever think how much easier life was before you added kid 2, 3, 4, etc? 
Oh, no? 
Yea, no me either…
Okay, all bullshit aside, here is some real talk.
 
I do. 
I honest to Pete (whoever Pete may be) think about how easy life was before kid 2, but then I instantly feel a pang of mom guilt. Why, you ask? Well, for starters, I am the QUEEN of mom guilt. And because I seriously am in love with both my kids. I love my first with the fire of 1000 suns, she is smart, kind and hilarious. My second is my last, and I have never felt such contentedness, he completes me and our family and I never knew I had enough love for two kids. So now that I’ve convinced you I truly love my kids, and equally at that, I will be honest and give you the promised real talk.
I waited a long time between my kids. My first was 3 and a half when her brother arrived, she was potty trained, she slept through the night, she was in preschool and semi-self sufficient. I selfishly waited because I couldn’t fathom 2 in diapers or 2 not sleeping through the night, but I also had no interest in changing the amazing groove she and I had. Our little family of 3 had it all, we had fun, we enjoyed each other, we did so much together! But, alas, baby fever reared its ugly head and even though I thought I was content with my perfect daughter, I needed another. I didn’t care if number 2 were a boy or girl. I just couldn’t wait to smell, touch and hear a newborn.
We got pregnant quickly, and my whole second pregnancy was a whirlwind. Suddenly, my due date came and so did our son. Our son, all 7 pounds 6 ounces of him, was perfect and I swelled with love just like I did when we met our daughter. The first 2 months were long and filled with lots of tears and a lot of spit up, medicine, doctors, tests and hospital visits. It was hard on all of us, and I was exhausted, emotionally and physically. I thought in my head “things have to get easier” and they did. Or at least I thought they did.
A week or so ago my husband and I had just my oldest in tow while we ran errands (our son was napping at grandma’s) and it was so easy. I had no diaper bag, no diapers, wipes, extra clothes, or any other kid paraphernalia that takes up a giant bag. There was no fussing because I was containing a child in a God forsaken cart. It was a pleasant afternoon out.
Then, a few days later, my parents took my oldest over night just because. Bedtime was a breeze with just my son. No whining about only having to choose between the 2 pink nightgowns because the purple one is getting washed. No trips up and down the stairs a million times because she “wasn’t having a good night.” No complaints of dyer thirst as if she’d run a marathon in a desert. With only my son it was some milk, a knocked out kid and that was that.
Each time I only had one, I thought “Holy shit! What the hell, why is this so easy!?” then very quickly I regretted that thought. Then my brain went to “I miss my baby” and had a good ole dose of mom guilt. Life was easier with one, life is easier if I get a break from one, and things are most definitely less overwhelming. But, life is amazing with 2. My kids love having each other, and I most definitely love having them. My brain may not fire correctly, I may not remember when my last shower was, and I honestly don’t know how I get through a bad day sometimes, but it is amazing. Things have changed, life has changed but all for the better. I could never imagine my life with only one. My sassy but sweet, quick witted daughter and my destructive, lovable son have made me realize that being a parent was the one thing in life I never knew I wanted and that feeling only came after my son. It is hard, amazing, fulfilling, exhausting and my biggest accomplishment yet and life with 2 is definitely better than 1. 

Meal Planning Monday – Spinach Artichoke Pasta

Spinach artichoke is one of my favorite savory flavor combos. Even though it is loaded with parmesan cheese, it makes me feel so healthy because it is also loaded with spinach. That’s ok, right?

I was craving this delicious-for-you combo one day and had everything but the artichoke hearts. So off to the store I went with 3 kids in tow for a can of artichoke hearts. Weird.

Dan is not a huge fan of artichoke so he said this had too many artichokes. But honestly, if there’s one artichoke, he says it’s too much artichoke. I disagree. But I will pretty much eat anything edible.

I added some cooked chicken breasts (shrimp would be good, too) to it as well to make sure it was nice and filling for Dan. If I try to serve him something without meat, he looks at me like I have 8 eyeballs. Unless it’s during Lent on a Friday. Then he just looks at me like I told him his childhood dog just died. Like it’s the worst thing ever.


Ingredients:
1 lb pasta
2-3 cups cooked seasoned chicken (cubed, diced, or shredded)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 lb frozen spinach, thawed
1 can artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (plus extra for topping)
1/3 cup grated parmesan 
Directions:
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. In a large skillet or pot, mix together hot pasta, cream cheese and milk.
3. Once the cream cheese is melted, add mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
4. Mix until all combined.
5. Add spinach.
6. Add chicken (if desired) and artichoke hearts.
7. Stir all together until well combined.
  

You can download and print the recipe here for your own records 🙂