My new Favorite Planner

I am an unorganized mess. Part of it stems from the fact that my brain runs 100 miles a minute. I will have an idea and then run off to Hobby Lobby for all the supplies, only to get home to realize I had 3 other things I needed to get done.

Story of my life.

I wanted to start blogging again and I knew with blogging and mine and Gina’s other website (noshamemommies.com – shameless plug. Completely shameless), I was going to need a planner and it was going to need to be good.

For my 32nd birthday (ha!), I was determined to find the perfect planner. I needed something with the following:

-Week at a glance
-Month at a glance
-Monthly goals
-Weekly goals
-Yearly goals
-Monthly tabs
-Monthly notes section (on the month at a glance AND at the end/start of the month)
-Perpetual calendar

That is a needy list. So I set off to Etsy, because planners that were already made were just not working out for me.

I had no idea what to search for so I just started searching and sending messages asking if they had a planner with the aforementioned sections.

Finally, like a light at the end of a dark, 5 year, random post-it note filled long tunnel, I got a response from Erika with Write it Down Books. She was so patient with me and answered all of my ridiculous questions before I placed my order.

I am only a few weeks in, but I am obsessed with this planner. It has everything I needed and more. Each month there are places you can write things you need to do, things you’d like to do (because we all know those are 2 totally different things), a place to doodle, and some writing prompts (which is great for bloggers). You can also have her start in any month you want.

It fits perfectly in my every day purse and matches great with my notebook I snagged up at Wal-Mart before I bought the planner.

Doesn’t this picture make you want to just plan everything?! AHHHH!

I don’t think I could have created a better planner. Honestly. I have tried 😉

This planner is the horizontal planner – so the week is laid out horizontally in the book instead of vertically. Here is the week at a glance list….

While browsing her shop, I went ahead and added a password/address book and a bookmark for my planner. You can customize pretty much anything – and for planners that can be customized, her prices are on point – trust me, I’ve done research for years.

I love that she puts your name on the front too!

She also has an option of printing your own planner. Oh, and you can print out a few of her styles and try them out for a week or so before you order. FOR FREE.

Here is my little trio that follows me around the house – besides the kids obviously – my planner, my notebook and my Kindle.

Erika was kind enough to give us a coupon code for the next week. 10% off of your order in her shop and it expires on 4/20/17. The code is MOSTLYUNDERCONTROL10. I encourage you to use it! Seriously, I cannot tell you how much I am in love with this thing.

So take advantage of this code, people. You will NOT regret it.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cereal Bars

Right after chocolate, strawberry is my favorite flavor combo with peanut butter. Which is why we never have grape jelly in our house. Ew. We are a strawberry jelly family!

Dylan has been bugging me for a fun cereal for a while now. When Dan goes grocery shopping, he picks up “fun” cereal. I come home with Costco sized boxes of Cheerios, tell him to add a banana and call it a day. He also gets fun cereal at Grandma’s house. So I was becoming the lame one.

I picked up Fruit Loops and Berry Kix on my last grocery trip and Dylan literally told me I was the best mom ever.

Mic drop.

We are short on snack ideas around here. So I had wanted to make a cereal bite thing (yes, that’s the official term) and I had it on my list to make. But when I saw the Berry Kix on my counter, I got a wonderful idea. Peanut butter and jelly breakfast (or snack) bars!

These are so good. Dylan LOVED them (again, I got dubbed the Best Mom Ever) and of course, they are very easy to make. Almost like making Rice Krispie Treats. You melt the peanut butter, honey and vanilla in the microwave and then dump in the cereal.

Place them in a baking dish lined with foil and sprayed with non stick cooking spray and pop them in the fridge. Take them out when they’re set and slice them up.

 

Dan even grabbed one (asking me first – life of a blogger’s husband. haha) last night and said they were delicious.

Definitely keeping them around for snack and breakfast ideas!


Print Recipe
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cereal Bars
2 great flavors rolled into one yummy bar! Great for a snack or breakfast on the go.
Course Breakfast, Snacks
Servings
depending on how you cut them
Ingredients
Course Breakfast, Snacks
Servings
depending on how you cut them
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a large microwaveable bowl, melt the peanut butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave.
  2. Remove from microwave and stir. Add honey and stir.
  3. Microwave for another 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in vanilla until all ingredients are combined.
  5. Add in the cereal and mix, mix, mix!
  6. Line a baking dish (13x9) with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
  7. Dump cereal mixture into the baking dish and spread it out into one layer.
  8. Let set for at least 3 hours in the fridge.
  9. Cut into bars/squares.
Share this Recipe
 

Sensory Bin Ideas – All From The Dollar Store

Hey there hey!

If you have read my stuff for a while, you know that I love sensory stuff. I always have, even before I had kids. When I taught, sensory was my favorite center.

I also am slightly obsessed with the Dollar Tree. That is always my go-to when I need stuff (that they sell). My friends usually come to me first when they wonder if The Dollar Tree sells something in particular. What can I say? I’m cheap and everyone knows it.

I did a post a while back with sensory bins. I went through the aisles of The Dollar Tree and grabbed anything I could find that I thought would be good in a sensory bin. Thus, my first sensory bin post was born. And I can’t look back on it anymore because it makes me so sad to see D’s chubby little toddler hands! WAHHHH!

I also did some sensory bottles for the babe when she was tiny. We actually still use them!

You can also find the bins from The Dollar Tree – this is what I use

I had on my list to make a big giant list of all things sensory (and you can download the printable list at the end) so people can keep it on them and take it out when you need to. It’s a whole list of sensory bin ideas. You can take anything from column A (fillers) and add it to anything in column B (tools/toys). And they are all available at The Dollar Tree! (disclaimer, they are all available at MY Dollar Tree in Villa Park, Illinois) 😉

Here we go!

Column A

*Decorative shred
*Sand
*Rocks/pebbles
*Balloons
*Crepe paper
*Buttons
*Cut up drinking straws
*Pipe cleaners
*Tissue paper
*Rice
*Pasta
*Dirt
*Clean mud (shredded bar soap, torn up
toilet paper and water)
*Water beads
*Shaving cream (will need new each time)
*Hair gel
*Popcorn kernels
*Dry beans
*Wrapping paper
*Salt (table, sea or
Epsom)
*Play-doh
*Tinsel/garland
*Battery powered Christmas lights (seasonal)
*Pom poms
*Fake leaves (seasonal)
*Feathers
*Easter grass (seasonal)
*Marbles (NOT FOR LITTLES!)
*Pony beads (NOT FOR LITTLES!)
*ABC beads (NOT FOR LITTLES!)
*Raffia cord
*Ribbon
*Cotton balls
*Bird seed
*Foam shapes/letters
*Oatmeal
*Construction paper
*Soapy water
*Fake snow
*Coffee grounds
*Dry cereal
*Baby oil
*Yarn
*Googly eyes
*Frozen veggies

Column B (tools/toys)

*Fake flowers
*Measuring cups
*Measuring spoons
*Cars
*Spatula
*Silicone pasty brush
*Serving spoons
*Nesting bowls
*Fork/knife/spoon (play versions)
*Plastic food
*Chalk
*Kid scissors
*Cups
*Party favor cups
*Magnet letters
*Fake money
*Stickers
*Plastic bugs
*Plastic snakes
*Easter eggs (seasonal)
*Rubber ducks
*Ice cubes
*Plates
*Baby bottles
*Socks
*Tweezers
*Toothbrushes
*Toothpicks
*Small ceramic pots (seasonal)
*Gardening tools (seasonal)
*Potato masher
*Sand toys (seasonal)
*Large blocks
*Gardening tools (seasonal)
*Superhero/Disney figures
*Dinosaurs
*Funnels
*Whisk
*Sponges
*Cookie cutters
*Small plastic storage containers
*Slotted spoon
*Tongs
*Water balloons (seasonal)
*Cleaning brushes

PHEW! You can print out the list here.

I had way too much fun creating all of that! Use your noggin when it comes to things that are age appropriate, alright? alright. Have fun!

Blueberry Banana (Spinach) Fruit Leather

I am not above sneaking vegetables into my kids’ food. They hardly ever eat them, but surprisingly enough, my 4.5 year old actually enjoys spinach. However, I know he is the minority, for sure.

We love fruit leather in our house. When I make it, I never even have to store it. It goes from the pan right to the hands. It’s gone within 24 hours. You don’t even need a dehydrator for it either! I have one, but I don’t know where my plastic piece is that holds the fruit leather! Save the search for a rainy day I guess.

We tried this strawberry beet fruit leather and it was outstanding. Not to be outdone, ha, I wanted to create my own flavors and sneak some vegetables in there as well. You absolutely could not taste the beets so I thought I would give it a go.

As most of my recipes start, I had some bananas that were on the end of their life. Which is the perfect time to make banana stuff!

These are very easy and you don’t even need a dehydrator to make them.

Shall we?

Really all you’re going to do is put all the ingredients into a blender and blend it up until it is about the consistency of juice. Then spread it all over a pan lined with parchment paper. Bake – done.

See all the directions below – and print!

 

Print Recipe
Blueberry Banana (Spinach) Fruit Leather
This is a delicious combination of fruits - with hidden veggies!
Course Snacks
Servings
Ingredients
Course Snacks
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a blender, combine spinach and 1/4 cup of water.
  4. Blend until liquid.
  5. Add lemon juice, honey, banana and blueberries.
  6. Blend until a thin consistency. Add more water water if necessary.
  7. Pour your fruit/veggie mixture onto the parchment paper and spread evenly (I used an icing knife.) You do not want to be able to see the parchment paper underneath. If you do, it's too thin and won't peel off of the parchment paper.
  8. Place in oven for about 2 hours. You will want to take it out when you touch the top and it is not sticky anymore.
  9. Cut it into strips when it is still on the parchment paper.
  10. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Share this Recipe
 

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

img_7126edited2

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!

blog-signature

Meal Planning Monday – Lasagna Pasta

pinterest-image

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…

lp2

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.

lp3

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

smelly-jars-pinterest

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!

img_7000edit

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.

img_7021edit

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.

img_7005edit

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

img_7075edit

 

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

blog-signature

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!

blog-signature

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?