9.02.2014

Silly Playdough Faces




These silly play dough faces are a fun activity for kids.  

To make these fun "monster guys" as my son calls them,
 here's what you'll need:


  • Playdough
  • Googlie eyes
  • Chenille pipe cleaners, cut into fourths
  • Toothpicks


Push the playdough flat or smush it into a ball. Add chenille pipe cleaners for hair, googlies for the eyes, and carve out a mouth using a toothpick or form one with pipe cleaners.




8.31.2014

Easy Cilantro Chicken and Ranch Lettuce Wraps



Maybe it's the end of summer and the back-to-school schedule that has me hungering for meals with fresh ingredients without a bunch of work. Sometimes, I'll walk the produce section at the grocery store and pick up whatever sounds good at the time, cut it up, throw it together and add a simple vinaigrette and that's dinner - or lunch. Since I had just had salad the night before, I decided to make these easy cilantro chicken lettuce wraps.  

                                                                         oops forgot to add the cilantro!

Here's what you'll need to make Cilantro Chicken and Ranch Lettuce Wraps (although of course you can customize your ingredients to your personal taste):

  • 1 head of Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 cups roasted chicken (pulled and cut into pieces- I purchased a precooked whole chicken from the deli section of the grocery store)
  • 1/2 red onion -diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cut cilantro 
  • 2 small tomatoes - diced
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, any variety
  • 1/2 green bell pepper - diced
  • 1/4 ranch dressing

*Mix all ingredients and spoon inside halved Romaine lettuce leaves.
*Optional: Add the juice of 1 lime
*Serves 2: Adjust ingredients to taste

Enjoy!

8.22.2014

Easy Back to School Shopping: Give Back to your School with Schoola #clothes4schools

Back to School time is here! We have just a few days before school starts. My daughter is especially looking forward to school. She's already talking about seeing her friends, starting a new grade, and what she will wear on her first day of school. We homeschool through a charter school, so she will be going to school a few days a week to have a "traditional" school experience. Her actual first day in the classroom will be a bit later. She told me recently, that sometimes it's hard to know what tops and bottoms go together because she keeps them separate in her closet and dresser. So together we came up with a fun idea to help her choose outfits in the morning:



 We put a bunch of outfits together and photographed them, complete with shoes and accessories. She will put the photos in a photo book (or store them on her iPod) and can flip through them when she is getting ready for school. Problem solved! She felt so empowered to be her own stylist and to have a simple way to help her get ready for school.

Have you heard about Schoola?
Schoola turns brand name outgrown clothes into money for your child's school programs. You can donate your previously worn clothes to Schoola and request that your child's school receive a predetermined portion of the proceeds from the sale of the clothes. We are excited to pick out a few things for back to school and maybe even a holiday dress!


It's a win-win for you and the school! Don't feel like donating? That's okay. You can still shop the thousands of brand name previously worn kid's clothing items on the Schoola website and proceeds still go to schools in need. You can even hold a "Schoola Clothes Drive" and get your entire school or  homeschool co-op group involved! To request a free donation bag or shop for school clothes and a great discount, visit Schoola.com

You can connect with Schoola through their many social media channels:
Website: Schoola.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/Schoola
Twitter: Twitter.com/Schoola
Follow the hashtag #ClothesforSchools

8.01.2014

Shredded Chicken Sandwich On A Pretzel Bun With Homemade Honey Mustard


What's not to love about soft pretzel rolls, really? While I'd love to try to make homemade mini soft pretzel rolls, I'm so glad Costco has them! To make a shredded chicken sandwich on a mini pretzel bun with homemade honey mustard, you'll need:

1 pretzel bun, cut in half
2-3 oz. Shredded chicken (or favorite meat)
1 slice of tomato
1 leaf romaine lettuce
1 slice of colby jack cheese (or your favorite)
homemade honey mustard

Layer chicken, tomato, lettuce, cheese, honey mustard together on the mini pretzel roll....yum! Is it time for lunch yet? Making your own honey mustard sauce is so easy. Here's how.  

Homemade Honey Mustard Sauce Recipe
2-3 parts yellow mustard
1 part mayonnaise
1 part honey 


Whip mustard, mayo, and honey together with a fork.


Spread honey mustard on your pretzel bun and enjoy!





7.28.2014

Art is an Adventure!


Art and creativity are very near to my heart. Growing up, I expressed myself creatively in a variety of ways. Some of which still give me a little giggle. When I was very young, I would dance and sing to heart’s content, giving performances to anyone and everyone who would listen. As I got older, I loved writing, acting, and theatre. Since having kids, I have loved children’s crafts, exploring creativity with food and more. One common thread and life lesson woven throughout my lifelong artistic experiences was that putting yourself out there artistically requires a certain amount of risk and vulnerability. And those are two traits that not only help budding artists grow in their craft, but also transfers to other areas of life for both children and adults.


Already at ten, my own daughter yearns to soak up art in its many forms. From acting classes and music appreciation, to creative expression in her school projects, she’s had so many opportunities to explore different creative outlets. Last September, she began taking traditional art classes at a local art school. She has a natural gift for drawing and painting that I have just loved seeing blossom. While we have been fortunate to experience art in so many ways, it’s no secret that creative programs in schools across the nation are being cut for many reasons.  Did you know that you and I can do something about that while shopping for clothes for our kids?

 Have you heard of Schoola?
 Schoola is a company that aims to raise funds for creative arts programing in schools across the country through the donation and resale of children’s clothes. How does Schoola work? Well, in a nutshell, gently worn and adorable brand name clothes are donated (by people like you and me) and proceeds from those sales are then utilized to fund creative arts programs at schools across the country: Schools like yours, schools like ours and schools like Yick Wo Elementary in San Fransisco, California. Take 2 minutes to watch this video, 2 minutes to see how important art is to kids.



Did you catch that one part in the video? Just one bag of previously loved clothing donated to Schoola will fund art supplies for five children at Yick Wo Elementary through this campaign.

I am so excited to be partnering with Schoola to specifically raise money for Yick Wo Elementary. Their goal is to raise $25,000. You and I have a unique opportunity to help these kids, teachers, and staff raise money to fund their school’s art program. Here's the best part, you can also raise money for a school of your choice at the same time.

Here's how it breaks down:

  • For every donation bag requested or clothing purchase made through Schoola, $1 will be donated to Yick Wo Elementary through this campaign. (By clicking on the above link, Schoola tracks the donations and purchases so that Yick Wo gets the $1).
  • Plus, if you send back your donated clothes and fill out the school selection information, $2 of every $5 raised will go back to the school you selected! That's a win for Yick Wo and a win for your school!
  • This specific fundraising campaign through this blog (and other participating) runs from July 28-August 16th, 2014, but Schoola will always be raising money for arts programs.

Again, if you want to help me raise money for creative art programs through Schoola, there are two ways you can do so right now: After clicking the link to learn more about Schoola, you can then choose either "request a bag to fill with donated clothes" (at no cost to you) or browse the selection of cute and gently worn clothes available for purchase on their site and make a purchase. To be clear, you are not obligated to click on anything or purchase anything, but if you choose to donate a bag of clothing or purchase clothing, the above proceeds of that transaction will go to fund school arts programs. I wanted to test it out before I shared it with you, so I requested a donation bag of my own. It was pretty easy to request a donation bag.

You can connect with Schoola and the #clothes4schools campaign online via twitter, facebook and the hashtag #clothesforschools

Twitter: http://twitter.com/schoola
Facebook:http://facebook.com/schoola

*Disclosure: I was compensated for participating in the Schoola #clothes4school campaign. However, all opinions are passionately my own and as Schoola reached out to me I became excited to be a part of this project. I was given a choice of schools where our donations would go and I chose Yick Wo. To read my full disclosure policy, see the tab at the top of this page.

7.26.2014

S'mores Pie in the Oven


 We recently came back from a camping trip where we had S'mores by the campfire almost every night. What's not to love about s'mores, am I right? We don't own a fire pit, and I have had them baked in the oven before (relish!). Unfortunately, our local grocery store was out of flat chocolate bars! Apparently, I'm not the only one craving this quintessential summer treat. Standing in the baking aisle of the grocery store I thought "How can I make s'mores happen without chocolate bars?" Aaaaand....Light bulb! Thus, I bring to you, Baked S'mores Pie!

For this "recipe", you'll need:



  • 1 Pre-made graham cracker pie crust (also very easy to make at home)
  • 1 Bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (You will use about half)
  • 1 Bag of mini-marshmallows (You will use about half)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Layer mini marshmallows and chocolate chips inside the pie crust until slightly rounded.
  • Don't mix too much, as the chocolate chips will fall to the bottom
  • Bake at 350 degrees for around 5-6 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.
  • Allow to cool 1 minute.

Possible Add ins: 
  • Reese's pieces
  • Heath Bar/toffee pieces
  • Caramel sauce
  • M&M's
  • Shredded coconut
Some good tips:
  • When serving, don't expect it to come out like a traditional pie, it will be gooey and messy, just like S'mores at the campfire!
  • Might be able to make in a 13x9 pan for larger groups.
  • I turned our oven light on and kept a good watch on the pie while cooking, and after 5 minute timer went off, I let it cook a little longer until the top browned slightly.
  • Refrigerate leftovers (if there are any). It tastes great cold, the next day.



Hope you enjoy!






5.01.2014

Knott's Berry Farm Staycation Vacation




"Staycations" are a great option for families looking to stay close home this summer. Staying close to home means saving a ton of that precious vacation money on airfare. Who doesn't love that? I wanted to share with you how you can make your vacation dollars go further with Knott's Berry Farm, one of Southern California's best theme parks.  I've written about Knott's many times before. My love for it is made up of 1 part family friendly, 1 part awesome rides and 1 part nostalgia (I spent a good 30 minutes geeking out at the glass blowing booth in Ghost town over Christmas). Last year, they revamped the super fun and family friendly Boardwalk area. This year, Knott's has remodeled their hotel and wants to get the word out about how it can be the perfect choice for a SoCal summer vacation or staycation.


Knott's Annual Passes and Soak City
If you are planning a staycation in Southern California, you'll want to choose the option that gives back year round: Annual Passes. Passes to Knott's just make sense for SoCal residents, they just do. Imagine telling the kids that they not only get to go to Knott's Berry Farm for vacation, but they'll get passes to Soak City for the summer and Knott's all year long!!  The Gold pass includes summer-long access to their sister water park Knott's Soak City. All of that for $17 a month for 6 months? That's such a good deal! Two great parks, located just steps from each other, to create an endless amount of summer memories!

Here's a snippet of what the Knott's Gold Annual Pass get you:

  • Admission to Knott's Berry Farm
  • No blackout days
  • Admission to Knott's Soak City
  • Discounted Knott's Scary Farm Tickets
  • Food & Merchandise Discounts
  • "Bring a friend" discounts
  • Hotel Stay discounts
  • and more!

Knott's Hotel Vacation and Easy Pay Program
Knott's is finishing up the renovations on their hotel as I write this post and I can't wait to see how it looks! I hear there are Camp Snoopy themed rooms for the kiddos and all the hotel amenities you know and love. Before you book your stay at the Knott's Hotel, know that not only do season pass holders receive a discount, but if you book 61 days in advance, you can pay for that Southern California staycation in 4 easy payments as part of Knott's Easy Pay Program.

The Knott's Hotel Vacation Easy Pay program takes your lump sum and divides into 4 automatic monthly payments. By staying at the hotel, you'll get the feel of a vacation, without the hassle of and extra cost of flying. I'm going to tell you right now. Click through and check it out. I did. You'll be pleasantly surprised how far your vacation dollars can go. The Knott's Hotel is located just steps from Knott's Berry Farm.

Oh , and you can follow the hashtag #SoakCityOC on twitter, instagram or Facebook to get a peek at all of the summer fun that's going down at Knott's Soak City this Summer. Soak City Officially opens May 17th, 2014.

Disclaimer: The opinions in this article are my own. I do not work for, or with, any brand mentioned in this article, nor do I have any official relationship with them.  I have a relationship with GigaSavvy, for whom I create original editorial content.

2.21.2014

Yummy Girl Scout Thin Mints Cookie Milk Shake Recipe


*Originally published on February 25, 2012 on muffintinmom.com

Oh Thin Mints…… How I love you so. Here's a milk shake Girl Scout Thin Mints Cookies Recipe that I know you will love.

thin mint cookie milkshake recipe


Girl Scouts Thin Mints Cookie Milk Shake Recipe:
(adjust ingredients to your taste)
  • 6-7 ice cubes (crush them first for a faster blend)
  • Cover ice cubes with milk (about 3/4 cup-1 cup)
  • Add 3 scoops vanilla (or chocolate) ice cream (milk might also work)
  • Add a layer of chocolate syrup
  • Add a 1/8 cup of sugar (optional)
  • Cover that with 3-4 Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies
  • Blend on high (we used a Vitamix blender) until smooth and creamy and the liquid creates a whirlpool in the blender.

Yep. It’s awesome. Not too minty, not too chocolate-y.

I hope there are Thin Mints in Heaven.

What about you? Have any fun recipes using Girl Scout Cookies?