Friday, August 28, 2009

Kid Friendly Friday - Lunch Box Choices

Hello Everyone! Welcome to Kid Friendly Friday, where we share what we have been doing with our kids this week or information that would be helpful to other parents. Post about books, recipes, movies, toys, or anything kid friendly. I would love for you to participate with whatever you can share. Link to Mr. Linky below.

School has started so this means lunches have to be made. This may be one of my least favorite things to do because I run out of ideas quickly. Here are some things I have found that work. I have made a list that hangs in a cupboard so if I run short of inspirations I can look to it.

  • anything you can put on a stick (veggie kabob, cheese, fruit)

  • anything that can be dipped (use ranch, fruit dip, peanut butter, refried beans, hummus)

  • anything else that can be cut into shapes (heart shaped cheese and meat on crackers beats a Lunchable any day, cut your sandwiches with a cookie cutter, even better, use a small cutter and give them lots of little sandwiches - eat the remnants yourself, of course) Here is a cute cutout sandwich.

  • anything that can be put in the cute little thermos (pasta, soup, leftovers)

  • anything that they can assemble themselves (crackers and cheese, ants on a log - messy but fun, mini pizzas, nachos)

  • use a food marker and write on a food item (saw this in the last Family Fun mag) haven't tried it yet but it is cute!

  • unconventional lunches (cereal and milk, waffle sandwiches, hot dog bun with PB and banana)

  • foods that look like dessert (parfait with yogurt and fruit, banana or zucchini bread)

Always include a note of encouragement! There is nothing better than knowing Mom is thinking about you during the day. I am planning on packing a joke of the day but haven't yet gotten around to that yet. Hopefully there is a site out there with lots of kid friendly jokes.

Share with me some of your lunch ideas. I need the help :) Enjoy your weekend!

Are you going to participate in my Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge?

Aloha Friday - Who's Your Favorite Chef?

"In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day that we take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So I thought that on Fridays I would take it easy on posting, too. Therefore, I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response."

So head over to her site, An Island Life and answer her question but while you are here you might as well answer mine:

Who is your favorite Food Network chef?

I can't pick just one....Paula Deen, Rachel Ray, Duff Goldman, Bobby Flay.....if I had to pick one channel to have, Food Network would be the one (but that's a whole different question)!
Interested in joining me for my Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge??

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kids in the Kitchen - Funfetti Cookies

Last week during Drama camp my girls came home and wanted to make a birthday gift for one of their teachers. This is a recipe I've had on my must-try list for awhile and makes a GREAT kids in the kitchen recipe! Each step is kid friendly - dump, mix, roll, smash. Perfect!

HERE is where it comes from. I used their picture as well because I forgot to take any :)

Funfetti Cookies

1 pkg. Pillsbury® Moist Supreme® Funfetti® Cake Mix
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 can Pillsbury Funfetti Vanilla Frosting (we didn't use the frosting and left cookies plain)

1.Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, combine cake mix, oil and eggs; stir with spoon until thoroughly moistened. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. With bottom of glass dipped in flour, flatten to 1/4-inch thickness.

2.Bake at 375°F. for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.

3.Spread frosting over warm cookies. Immediately sprinkle each with candy bits from frosting. Let frosting set before storing. Store in tightly covered container
Go over to A Little Fun With Me and Lu to check out more Kids in the Kitchen posts!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FNCCC - Assignment #1


The assignment, if you choose to accept it, is a recipe from Aaron McCargo, Jr. who is the host of Food Network's Big Daddy's House. He was the 2008 winner of their show The Next Food Network Star.

Find one of his recipes that suits you and try it this week. We'll post about it on Sept. 2. You post on your blog the recipe, your review, and a picture if you have it. I'll set up a Mr. Linky. Non-bloggers can email me the recipe you tried (or a link to it on Food Network), your review and picture, if you like.

Hopefully we'll find a fabulous new recipe or two and try things we might not have gone for before! Thanks for participating!

Wordless Wednesday - First Day of School

Check out more Wordless Wednesday posts HERE , HERE or HERE.

Are you going to participate in my Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Edible Crayons

Dip each end of a half pretzel rod in colored chocolate melt, dry and wrap. It's just that easy!

Gourmet Mom on the Go posted about these edible crayons and even has the wrappers all ready for you to print out. They are easy for kids to do and make great beginning of the year gifts!

Are you going to participate in my Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge?

JumpStart Pet Rescue for Wii - Win One!

Box Cover Knowledge Adventure sent me the JumpStart Pet Rescue Wii game to review. Our family does not have a Wii so we headed over to a friend's house for a little Wii playdate. As I mentioned in my review of the JumpStart website, the kid's favorite part of the game was making the "jumpee" animated character. With so many features to choose from they could stay there all day making different people. Most of the graphics and games are the same as the on-line version, so if you subscribe to the web site, you are getting pretty much the same thing with the Wii game. There were some cute song videos that I had not seen on-line. Another big draw is the pet stage, where you can make your pet perform tricks and routines (same as on-line). I'll sure there are many, many features that we didn't visit. The thing I love about JumpStart products is that you are always finding something new.

ESRB, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, has guidelines for information about games they have rated and they have rated Pet Rescue “Early Childhood”. This translates to ages 3 to 6. This is the first educational game on the Wii for this age range. The release date is September 1 to Walmart and September 2 to Best Buy, Sam's Club, Fry's and other retail outlets. The price will be $39.99.

Win One! Go HERE to win one of 25 copies. The contest ends on August 30 and right now there are very few entrees. Your chances of winning could be very good!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge

I just got home from Julie & Julia. Of course I'm inspired to cook with goals in mind. I don't think mastering French cooking would go over well with three kids under the age of six. Trying to figure out WHO I would want to cook with, I headed over to my favorite place, The Food Network. I love me some Food Network but there are just too many chefs to choose from (far more than I realized). SO, I thought maybe I could tackle a recipe from one each week, using the list at the bottom of the page.

Anyone up for the challenge? What is nice about this is that everyone has access to the recipes on the website (no cookbook to buy), there are usually many to choose from (dessert, dinner, you name it), and it would be great to see how other bloggers liked the recipes they chose (worth trying or don't bother).

As it turns out, there are 52 chefs listed. How perfect. It could be a year long adventure. I would put up a Mr. Linky every Wednesday that you could link your recipe/review post for the featured chef (not a blogger? just email me your recipe/review). I wouldn't start until September 2 (I need to remember how to make a button:). If nothing inspired you that week, skip it and post when something does. Care to join me?

Aaron McCargo, Jr. - #1 posted September 2, 2009
Adam Gertler - OK, so he isn't a chef...but a host so let's skip him.
Aida Mollenkamp - #2 posted September 9, 2009
Alexandra Guarnaschelli -#3 posted September 16, 2006
Alton Brown - #4 posted September 23, 2009
Anne Burrell - #5 posted September 30, 2009
Bob Blumer - not a chef.....skip
Bobby Flay - #6 posted October 7, 2009 - I would like to try an entire month of Bobby Flay recipes!
Bobby and Jamie Deen - #7 no recipes on FN so let's do a Paula Deen recipe instead (it's a long time until we get to her again and she has a TON of recipes :) If you have one of their cookbooks, feel free to use a recipe from there! - posted October 14, 2009 WAIT - they do have some reicpes if you do a search for "Lady and Sons" decide :)

Brian Boitano - #8 posted October 21, 2009
Bruce Seidel - not a chef, Food Network's Senior Vice President of Program Planning and Special Productions, skip...
Cat Cora - #9 posted October 28, 2009
Chris Cognac - not a chef, skip
Claire Robinson - #10 posted November 4, 2009
Daisy Martinez - #11 posted November 11, 2009
Danny Boome
- #12 posted November 18, 2000

Skip November 25 Happy Thanksgiving!
Dave Lieberman - #13 posted December 2, 2009
Duff Goldman - #14 posted December 9, 2009 - no recipes, decorate a cake or cupcakes and post!
Ellie Krieger - #15 posted December 16, 2009

Emeril Lagasse - #16 posted December 23, 2009

**we took a week off around the holidays so the schedule got pushed back a week - now correct!
George Duran - #17 posted January 6, 2010
Giada De Laurentiis - #18 posted January 13, 2010
Guy Fieri - #19 posted January 20, 2010
Ina Garten - #20 posted January 27, 2010
Ingrid Hoffmann - #21 posted February 3, 2010
Jack Hourigan - host, no recipes, skip...
Jamie Oliver - #22 posted February 10, 2010
Jeff Corwin - host, no recipes, skip....
Jeff Henderson - host, no recipes, skip...
Jim O'Connor - host, no recipes, skip...
Keegan Gerhard host...
Kevin Brauch host...
Marc Summers host...
Mario Batali #23 posted February 17, 2010
Mark Dacascos host...
Mary Nolan - only 7 recipes, so share on #24 posted February 24, 2010
Masaharu Morimoto only 3 recipes, so share on #24 posted February 24, 2010
Melissa d'Arabian only 23 recipes, so share on #24 posted February 24, 2010
Michael Chiarello #25 post March 3, 1010
Michael Symon #26 - post March 10, 2010
Nigella Lawson #27 - post March 17, 2010
Patrick and Gina Neely #28 - post March 24, 2010
Paula Deen #29 - post March 31, 2010
Rachael Ray #30 - post April 7, 2010
Robert Irvine #31 - post April 14, 2010
Robin Miller #32 - post April 21, 2010
Sandra Lee #33 - post April 28, 2010
Sunny Anderson #34 post May 5, 2010
Ted Allen host...
The Hearty Boys hosts...
Tyler Florence #35 post May 12, 2010
Warren Brown #36 post May 19, 2010

So it didn't turn out to be nearly a year but we will have cooked through all of the chefs!
Wanna cook with me?

Praying for Your Kids

I'm not sure where I got this but have been using it for awhile. It's a sheet with daily prayers for your children in areas such as faithfulness, generosity, self-discipline, courage, etc. I printed one out on cardstock, cut it apart, and am going to send one each day with my husband.

You can click on the image to make it bigger. Let me know if you would like me to email you a copy. Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kid Friendly Friday - Beachy Butterflies

Welcome to Kid Friendly Friday where bloggers share their kid friendly ideas. Put your link in below and check back for other great ideas. Recipes, crafts, favorite books, movie review, etc....anything that other parents might find useful!
Last week we went to the beach and found the cutest little periwinkle shells. There are innumerable half shells but you have to keep an eye out for the shells that are still attached by their little hinge. I love the hunt. Little Bit likes to see how many she can shove in her mouth before Mommy catches her. We found tons and decided that they looked like little butterflies.....

The girls had drama camp all week, which concludes with a performance today. So cute! We also made some great granola bars. That's what we did this week. What did you do?

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kids in the Kitchen - Chewy Granola Bars

My kids (and husband) go through granola bars like crazy. Luckily Publix often has them BOGO; paired with coupons we can get them pretty reasonably priced. BUT the ingredient label reads like a novel. They are not horrible for you...but we have discovered better, cheaper, and fun to make :) We looked at several recipes on-line and came up with this. It is a little "cakey-er" than normal bars b/c of the flour. I might try them without.

Chewy Granola Bars

3 cups rolled oats (old fashion have more fiber)
1 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
1 cup wheat flour (use white if that is what you have)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup liquid sweetener - honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup (this is what we used)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips or mini m&m's

You could also add coconut, raisins, nuts, etc. (up to 2 cups)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan.
In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter, sweetener and brown sugar. Stir in the chocolate chips, raisins, nuts etc.
Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees F for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing or serving.

Go over to A Little Fun With Me and Lu to check out more Kids in the Kitchen posts!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Works For Me - Scrapbooking Organization

With my first daughter I was on top of things. She was a great sleeper so once she was in bed for the night I would often work on her scrapbook. I was always up-to-date. Enter second goal was to have their individual books complete at each birthday. It worked but it was a struggle. I get pregnant with a third and am totally overwhelmed with what I need to the point that I hated taking pictures because I knew they would have to be put somewhere.

The Solution:

I will make three by-hand scrapbooks for each girl.
Zero to one year
one year to two
two years to four

This makes the task not so daunting and there is an end in site. After age four it's a digital photo book for each year. Those things are a breeze to put together. And in another three years I will be completely done with the whole scrapbook phase. I'll be OK with that! This works for me.

Check out We Are THAT Family for more Works For Me Wednesday ideas!

Wordless Wednesday - Little Bit Birthday

Our traditional birthday picture in Mommy's wedding dress (this means that it gets used three times every year!)
Check out more Wordless Wednesday posts HERE , HERE or HERE.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tempt My Tummy - Cinnamon Bran Muffins

Before we arrived in Minnesota, my mom did a lot of food prep work so that she could play with her grandkids the maximum amount of time. We had wonderful meals that she made up ahead of time (or made the key ingredients in advance). One thing that was waiting for us were these delicious and nutritious Cinnamon Bran Muffins. The batter will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks and are easily microwaved for a hot breakfast, fast. If you are gearing up for school to start and want to have fresh breakfasts all set to go, this is a good option.

Cinnamon Bran Muffins
2 cups whole bran flakes
1 cup boiling water
2 1/2 cups flour (use whole wheat or white)
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
1 cup raisins (optional)

1. In a large bowl combine the wheat bran and boiling water; let cool
2. Stir next 4 ingredients together and set aside.
3. In 3rd bowl stir eggs, buttermilk, oil and raisins. Add bran mixture, then flour mixture.
4. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

If storing batter in the refrigerator you can make a muffin at a time in the microwave. Butter a glass dish, fill two thirds full, cover with a plate, and microwave for about 30 seconds. You could also bake an entire batch and freeze them. They thaw quickly when needed.

Makes 18 muffins

Visit Blessed with Grace for more Tempt My Tummy recipes!

Simply Sweet Home is holding her Monthly Simply Sweet Thursday this week where the topic is muffins/sweet breads. Go check it out!

Monday, August 17, 2009

I'm a Missionary in Yangon, Myanmar

As a busy stay-at-home mother my priority is to raise healthy kids that know Jesus and can see Him in me. Too often I find myself dismissing my call to service outside my home because I have young children. I would love to go on a mission trip (our church has amazing distributed journeys everywhere in the world) but at this stage in my life it's not possible and I haven't yet convinced my husband that we should be missionaries to Africa. (How cool would that be? Now THAT would be elite education for the kids.) When the opportunity came along to serve throughout the world from my home and with completely flexible hours, I knew it was for me. I have been involved with Global Media Outreach for a couple of months as an online missionary and it has been an amazing gift.

As people from all over the world search for Jesus through one of GMO's over 90 web sites, they have the opportunity to contact GMO with questions. Their questions come to the volunteers (this is me!) who answer their emails and help them know God better. You wouldn't believe the places where my emails have come from....Kenya, Romania, Egypt, India, Philippines, Morocco, Japan, just to name a few. It's a great learning experience for me, which I get to pass on to my children ("Do you know where Mommy got an email from today?.....Let's go find Yangon, Myanmar on a map.").

Here's a bit more about it from their website....

Our Mission
Global Media Outreach prays that we see…
A world where we reach every person for Christ using the internet and other media.
Our Vision
The vision of GMO is to give everyone on earth multiple opportunities to know Jesus, see hundreds of millions accept Christ and see them grow in their faith and connect them to Christian movements everywhere.
The strategy: move people from isolation to connection and from information to transformation

Our Technology Plans
We plan to utilize internet-based outreach and communication technologies in text, video, audio on multiple platforms. We use computers, things that think, iPods, cell phones, Podcasting, internet radio, TV, film, and other emerging communication technologies. CRM technologies are currently in development for relationship, Bible study, devotionals and discipleship. Our goal is to provide ubiquitous, wireless, always on, global network communications 24 x 7 x 365.

Our Goal for Languages
We want to present the gospel in the top internet languages covering 85% of the 1 billion people using the internet – in English, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, German, French, Korean, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Arabic, and Russian.

Your Goal for Personal Ministry
GMO has developed a unique response system that can securely empower thousands of people as online missionaries to personally share their faith one-on-one through the Internet as they respond to seekers.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blog Help?

My blog is a mess....the side bar is no longer my side bar but shows up at the very bottom of the page. Anyone know how to fix this??

Thank you! Hope your weekend is fabulous :)

UPDATE: I've found picture in the last Kid Friendly Friday post was too wide. Problem solved! Thanks for the help!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Kid Friendly Friday - My New Toy

I am a little behind this week. We spent most of it at the beach and what's left is playing catch up. My husband is a teacher and starts work again on Monday. I'm so sad to see the summer end. What I am excited about going into the new school year are the bike toys that I received. I got the baby seat free, off FreeCycle and the trailer for cheap, off Craigs List. Both wonderful tools for finding just about anything.
My plan this year is to bike Mimi to school a few times a week. She is in PreK and will attend 4 morning per week. If I can bike at least 2 times I think that is successful. Saves gas. Good exercise.
It's about 6 miles round trip so we should be good. I'm a little nervous about the traffic. Nothing major but any traffic is bad traffic when you are a bike. We'll see how the girls do with it. I just hope Little Bit is OK during the leg of the trip that she is without big sister. Should be fun! Any biking mamas out their with any advice?
Link up with your Kid Friendly ideas below! Enjoy your weekend :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thousand Word - Beach Fun

We spent the week at the beach; one more last hurrah before school starts up. We had a wonderful time. Hope you get some R&R before your year starts.

Despite having watched "Shark Week" the previous week, Bigs was not afraid to play in the water. She loves getting beat up by the waves and throwing jelly fish back into the water (yes, real jelly fish, no they were not poisonous).

Mimi enjoying the sand and water. She has a fantastic imagination and can play for hours.

Can you believe I forgot to bring Little Bit's bathing suits to the beach?? Luckily, Mimi had one that was slightly too small for her....but still a bit big on Little Bit. She had the most wonderful time digging in the sand and chasing sea birds.

Cheaper Than Therapy holds A Thousand Word Thursday each week. Go visit to check out other pictures!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kid Friendly Friday - Sing Me a Book

Happy Friday Everyone! Kid Friendly Friday is a place to share anything that may interest other parents - recipes, books, crafts, back-to-school material. Old posts, new posts, red posts, blue posts. Sorry, couldn't help it. Link up yours with MckLinky below!

This week I'm introducing you to two of my favorite books. They are my favorites because I can sing them. I'm not the best singer (the louder I sing the better I sound) but it amuses me and makes my kids laugh. I have a great accent for the spaghetti book (Cajun, maybe??). So if you are like me and can get down while reading, may I present to you two of the best....

Enjoy your weekend~

Aloha Friday - Goth or Not

"In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day that we take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So I thought that on Fridays I would take it easy on posting, too. Therefore, I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response."

So head over to her site, An Island Life and answer her question but while you are here you might as well answer mine:
Can a 35 year old stay-at-home mom pull off black nail polish?
No saying that I should wear anything that makes me comfortable :) I painted my (short) fingernails black last night and I like it...but I'm not sure if it's appropriate. My 6 year old loves it as well, but she would be thrilled if I came home sporting pink hair adorned with glitter. Tell me the truth. I won't cut you off my Christmas list!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kids in the Kitchen - Independent Play

Mimi got a mini baking kit (cutters, rolling pin, etc.) for her birthday and has been asking me all week to let her make cookies. I'm not sure if this really counts as cooking...but I let them do whatever they wanted with this....

They didn't have much luck with the cookie cutters so they made free form cookies.

I really am getting better with my "letting go" issues and let them do whatever they wanted without trying to get them to make them the right way my way.

Here Mimi is trying to convince me why she should eat the last bit of raw cookie dough.

They were very proud of their cookies and more importantly they had fun doing it. I couldn't resist going over the end result with Bigs..."What can you do next time so they don't all bake together? What can you do so they bake evenly? What can you...." you get the picture. I know, but I'm trying!

Go over to A Little Fun With Me and Lu to check out more Kids in the Kitchen posts!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - Lizard Watching

She loves the water but we can't keep her in the pool for long. She wants to explore. I wish I could capture the excitement she has when first spotting a lizard (picture a lot of bouncing, screaming, and finger pointing). Then she just squats and observes.

Check out more Wordless Wednesday posts HERE , HERE or HERE.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tempt My Tummy - Monterey Jack Salsa

I'm linking this to 12 Days of Bloggie-mas at A Moderate Life!

Besides fresh from the garden salsa, this is my favorite salsa. Very eclectic. Tasty. Colorful. Visit Blessed with Grace for more Tempt My Tummy recipes!

Monterey Jack Salsa

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
5 green onions, chopped
1 ripe avocado, chopped (two would be good too!)
1 tomato, chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 (4 ounce) can green chile peppers, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can black olives, chopped
1 cup zesty Italian salad dressing

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes 3 cups.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Birthday Cupcake Tower

I did take the giant cupcake wrapper off before she dug in.

Little Bit was not a big entertainer with the smash cake. She took a few bites of the frosting but didn't go for it. She would much rather be down on the ground walking around. The frosting was strawberry buttercream, which was a good tasting frosting (even though I don't like frosting because it is too sweet) but didn't hold up in the heat and humidity. I used all butter. I think it would have held up better with shortening...but where's the fun in that? More pictures of the birthday girl later this week.