Friday, February 27, 2015

It's Friday

Somehow I managed a new post every day this week. How does that happen? We have nothing planned this weekend which sounds pretty glorious. I think there will be a lot of PJ wearing going on in this house. Now let's jump into some Friday favorites.

                             Always ready, connected, and fast. Just ask
One - Meet Alexa! After watching the video last year, I requested an invitation to receive an Amazon Echo. When I got the invitation I immediately ordered. Prime members get it for $99 so I figured it was worth a go. My expected ship date kept getting pushed back and I thought it was going to be spring before we got it. Amazon even gave me a $10 credit because my date kept getting pushed back. Then the day after the credit hit my account, I got a shipping notification. Score!! We've had it a week and love it so far. I don't love that it's call name is Alexa, but oh well. We use it mostly for music, but it has also helped me answer a few questions. Like how far is it from San Francisco to Disney Land. H and B have started asking for me to turn on music all the time, and I love that I don't always have to search out my phone to do it.

Pom Pom Kimono Jacket Classic Navy - Xhilaration®
Two - During a single trip to Target I walked past this kimono 4 times, thank you toddler potty breaks, before I finally convinced myself to grab it. I saw it and immediately though swimsuit cover up. I'm sure I'll wear it with jeans and a tank a few time before it goes pool side, but it will definitely be going pool, and probably lake side.

Three - Plantar faciitis sucks. Like big time. I can't wear flip flops. Most ballet flats are out of the picture. I thought I was doing ok with my riding boots and Hunters all winter, but nope. The small heel on those isn't enough either. So my options are: 1. Give up all the shoes I love and only wear running shoes 2. Deal with heel pain all the time 3. Find a good insert to help with cushioning and arch support.

Since I'm not too hot on idea 1 or 2, I decided it was time to give 3 a go. I did the fancy Dr. Scholl's map your foot machine and it recommended a $50 insert. I grabbed the one it recommended and decided to browse the less expensive options too. Dr. Scholl's makes an insert designed specifically for PF and it's only $10, so I grabbed it too. I tried out the less expensive one first, and it's fabulous. If you have problems with PF, I highly recommend this little insert.

Since I can't wear an insert with sandals, I am taking recommendations on sandals with good arch support.

Tomato & Mozzarella Panini
Four - Who knows about Panera Rapid Pick Up? Order online, pay online, and it's ready in 15 minutes or at a time you specify. So perfect for a busy day. 20 seconds in and out the door. Unless of course one of your kids decides they have to use the bathroom RIGHT NOW!
Herbal Concepts Comfort Neck and Shoulder Wrap, Black
Five - Did you know you can burn a neck wrap in under two minutes in the microwave? Yeah, me neither, until I did. I use my aromatherapy neck wrap pretty often. Anytime I feel tension in my neck like I have a headache coming on, I warm it up and put it on. If usually helps a headache stop from progressing into a migraine. A big life saver. So after I destroyed the one I had, I was on the search for a new one. I saw this one on Amazon and loved that it covers your shoulders and neck. I read some reviews, and decided to give it a go. I used it for the first time yesterday, and am a huge fan. It doesn't hold the heat as long as my old one, and it takes a long time to fully heat it, but it feels so good when you put it on. And the smell is much more mild than the last one I had. Robbie will actually sit in the same room as me now when I use it.

And because no post is complete without a picture of these two. I love them in their footie jams! There is nothing like a little Mickey to start your morning.

Linking up with
Amy, Karli

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Spring Fever, Mini Style

 A few weeks ago the kids and I were out shopping for new pants. Yes, my not even three year old children are already moving up to 4T pants. They've been in 4T shirts for months, so I'm sure 5T shirts aren't too far off. Of course while we were looking at pants we started looking at the new spring arrivals. Brooke made it known that she wants every dress at Target and Old Navy. While she won't be getting every dress, we have started picking up a few new pieces here and there. I think we'll be able to use a lot of Brooke's dresses from last year and most of Harrison's shorts again this year, so I have only been picking up pieces we really love.


Harrison probably won't be wearing shorts anytime soon, but Brooke is already insisting on wearing her new summer dresses. I am a big fan of dressing dresses down with leggings for everyday wear. And Brooke is a big fan of anything with a skirt, so we both win. Now that they are fully into size 4, we have begun shopping in the big kids section too. We ordered this dress in XS last week, and I really wish they made it in my size because it is so perfectly summer.

Before too long it will be time to start stocking up on swim suits and flip flops. I personally can't wait!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

365 Challenge - Week 6

Harrison and Brooke have been waking up earlier and earlier for the last couple weeks. I feel like this happened just before the time change last year too. It's made for an extra tired me. Between their early wake times and my decision to give up all caffeine, I've been tired all the time and ready to hit the sheets by 9pm. I think tonight I am not going to fight it and will be going to bed as soon as I finish this post. 7am comes way too early. Says the girl who used to have to be to work before 7am every day. 

I didn't break out my camera at all on Friday or Sunday. Those were my two worst days of being under the weather, so iPhone pics it is. It's kind of a miracle I even got those. Overall, not one of my favorite weeks, but not a complete loss either. So here ya go, week 6. 

2.5.2015 - snip snip

2.6.2015 - saddest thing ever - iPhone

2.7.2015 - tutu and snow boots

2.8.2015 - mini cart madness - iPhone

2.9.2015 - is baby stealing legal?

2.10.2015 - pizza by the slice

2.11.2015 - more cowbell

365 Challenge - Week 8

Tonight I was multi tasking. Cooking dinner and working on this blog post at the same time. Dinner was just pierogies and streamed broccoli. Nothing fancy or time consuming. The kids were happily playing in the living room. Things quieted down a bit, and I assumed they went into their room. Then Brooke comes in and says "We made a mess in the bathroom." Oh shit! Literally. Or that's what I thought I was going to be getting into. Nope. I open the door and Harrison is sitting on the side of the tub holding onto the plunger like he just conquered the toilet. There's water covering the entire bathroom floor, and more is overflowing from the toliet every second. I breathed a sigh of relief and thought WTF?! at the same time.

In the 5-10 minutes it took me to get dinner ready, they managed to feed a whole roll of toilet paper into the toilet and flood their entire bathroom. Oh the joys of almost 3 year olds x2. Thank goodness for my steam cleaner or I'm pretty sure I would have needed every towel in our whole house. Is it bedtime beer time yet?

 2.19.2015 - a style of her own

2.20.2015 - game night

2.21.2015 - dental health education

2.22.2015 - future chef

2.23.2015 - Brookie duck

 2.24.2015 - playing with putty

2.25.2015 - making new friends

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tasty Tuesday - Toasted Marshmallow Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies. They are pretty high on my list of favorite treats. Right behind cupcakes and ice cream. And if you can mix ice cream with cookie,s even better. But that's not where this post is going. Traditional chocolate chips cookies are pretty heavenly right? Especially when they're warm out of the oven. So why mess with perfection? Because Nutella, that's why.

It's no secret that I LOVE Nutella. I have a Pinterest board dedicated solely to Nutella, and even threw a Nutella party a couple years ago. I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest over the weekend, and decided this was the perfect way to mix up the usual Toll House recipe.

I'm not going to share a recipe for the cookie, because I just followed the recipe on the bag. I used milk chocolate chips. You'll need the usual cookie ingredients plus Nutella and jumbo marshmallows.

Toasted Marshmallow Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

1. Make your preferred chocolate chip cookie dough.

2. Drop spoon fulls of dough onto a silicone baking mat, or parchment paper. I rolled my dough into balls, but that isn't necessary.

3.Make a small indentation in the top of the cookies.

4. Spoon in Nutella. Approximately 1/2 tsp per cookie.

5. Top with 1/2 jumbo marshmallow.

6. Bake for 10 minutes at 375.

7. Let cool on the pan for a couple minutes, and then devour. Or move to a cooling rack. Your choice, although I recommend option 1.

Notes: Bake time may differ if you are using a recipe other than Toll House. I did use half a marshmallow for my first go round, but when I make them again I will probably use a whole one. The bites with toasted marshmallow are the most delicious, and there's no such thing as too much gooey goodness.

It only took an extra 5 minutes total to add the extra steps for these cookies, and it was definitely worth it. It added so much extra to the already delicious warm chocolate chip cookie. If you don't keep Nutella and marshmallows in your house at all times, I recommend you start now. So worth it.

Nutella Stache

And if you like the looks of this recipe, you'll love these Nutella S'more Bars.

Monday, February 23, 2015


Instead of starting with our Friday as per usual, I'm going to start with Thursday night. Not because it was a great night, quite the opposite. I was working on dinner and Robbie was trying to get a movie started for the kids. The Xbox wouldn't read any of the kids' blu ray discs, and Robbie insisted they'd put something in the disc drive. I was skeptical, but after dinner we worked on taking it apart. Sure enough there was a protractor in the disc drive. Harrison immediately owned up to it, and we were down one Xbox. Sorry kids, but you won't be watch Cars tonight.

Friday was a pretty quiet day. Harrison had a pretty nasty cough, so we skipped The Y and stayed home pretty much all day. We did decide to run out to Wal-Mart to buy a few thousand Easter eggs after naps, but of course the large boxes we needed weren't out yet. Wal-Mart did have a great buy on Xboxes, so we picked up a new one while we were there, but the kids won't be watching movies anytime soon. I say that, but I'm sure I'll need an evening reprieve soon, so Tangled will be playing in the Pargeon Theatre before you know it. Because let's be honest, movies are just as much for my sanity as their enjoyment.

This was my weekend to be on call for the daycare, so Saturday morning we headed to work and then to the library for our usual every third Saturday donut and playtime date. As soon as we walked into the library, we saw the tooth fairy. A princess dress and wings? Brooke was in! They were giving out free tooth brushes, toothpaste, and floss, so we stopped in to learn about dental health. And then we ate donuts. So much for that don't eat too much sugar speech we just heard.

We ate, played, picked out about 10 new books, and then we headed home for naps. That evening we met some friends for a play date and Chipotle. It was thankfully warm enough that walking around the outdoor mall wasn't completely excruciating. Brooke and Harrison's new thing is to take off their boots and socks every time we're in the van. So nine times out of ten I turn around to see barefoot kids in the back seat. Then they or course complain that their toes are cold. 

Sunday the kids stayed in their jammies all day. And I stayed in yoga pants all day. It was a good day for all of us. They came with me to the daycare in the morning, and then we stopped by Meijer on the way home. They found Minnie and Planes keys, so of course we had to get them. And they then wanted to show them to the fish.

Robbie wasn't feeling well so he spent most of the morning lying in bed. H and B were particularly whiny all morning, so nap time couldn't come soon enough. They were completely different kids after naps. They were great helpers while we made cookies, and then when our friends came over, they were all smiles and giggles. They happily ate almost all of their dinner, probably just so they could have a cookie, and then were early to bed. 

We adults of course closed out the night with The Walking Dead. I really enjoyed last night's episode and can't wait to see what next week brings. 

So who else had a laid back weekend? Anyone do anything exciting? I know everyone feels this way, but I can't wait until our weekends are full of zoo trips and time at the lake. Only 25 days left until spring. And more importantly, 93 days until summer. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

365 Challenge - Week 7

Today begins Lent, or as Brooke and Harrison might call it, the season of fish sticks. Each year for lent I always give up some kind of indulgence, like fast food, Starbucks, or candy.  It would have been a good time to give up coffee, but since I already did that, I can't very well cheat and do it again. I will be candy free for the next 40 days, which is good news for the kids jar of potty treats. I also always try to work on my relationship with God during Lent. Through praying better and attending mass more often. We have a lot to thank The Lord for, and a lot of big thing going on in our lives that are in his hands. Now is the perfect time to strengthen my relationship with Him.  

I don't usually think these pictures need an explanation, but I'm going to throw one out there for today's picture. We were at The Y and walked into kids gym where there was an older girl reading a chapter book. Brooke and Harrison immediately got in her personal space and wouldn't move, even after I suggested they go play. She started reading her book a loud to them, and they were thrilled. They sat there until it was time for her to leave. It was so sweet.   

2.12.2015 - flips and giggles

2.13.2015 - donuts, duh

2.14.2015 - V.I.P - iPhone

2.15.2015 - BFFs

2.16.2015 - princesses eat ice cream too

2.17.2015 - the joy of hand dryers

2.18.2015 - yes, we will force you to read to us

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tasty Tuesday - Tuscan Tortellini Stew

As anyone in the northern half of the country knows, it's freezing right now. It's so cold out that Brooke is mostly refusing to walk on her own because her face hurts from the air. We will be spending the majority of this week avoiding the outdoors and dreaming about summer. I'm ready for 80 degrees and sunny, but at this point I'd settle for 30 and partly cloudy.

When I was pregnant with the twins, one of my best friends asked me what she could make for us. My immediate response was Tuscan Tortellini Stew. This is a long loved favorite of mine, and it only took me about 5 years to get the recipe from her. It's a crockpot recipe which is always a plus. My new 6 quart crockpot is my favorite thing to cook with, well aside from our grill, but it's not getting much use right now.

I modified the original recipe and added double the tortellini. Two year olds are picky, and most days pasta is a guaranteed food. Squash however is not. I didn't add extra vegetables when I made this, but only because my crockpot was already full. If I have more room next time, I'll probably add carrots and some extra green beans.

Tuscan Tortellini Stew

1 (2lb) Butternut squash - peeled, seeded and cut into 1"cubes
1 large zucchini, sliced and quartered
1 large yellow squash, sliced and quartered
1 large onion, diced
1 red pepper, chopped
4 oz fresh green beans cut into 2" pieces
1 28oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
32 oz vegetable broth
2 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
4 coves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp salt
20oz package fresh cheese tortellini
5oz package baby spinach

1. Prep all vegetables.

2. Place all ingredients, except tortellini and spinach, in a 5 or 6 quart crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or high for 3.

3. Turn crockpot to high. Stir in tortellini and cook for 15 minutes.

4. Stir in spinach and cook for another 5 minutes.

5. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

Notes: If you like a little spice to your food, crushed red pepper is a great garnish. I do prefer this fresh from the crockpot, but it also freezes very well and keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine's Weekend

Our weekend started off with donuts, a shattered globe from our kitchen light fixture, and me breaking one of our kitchen chairs. Since donuts make everything better, it was still a good start to our Friday. Brooke and Harrison are both hit or miss when it comes to donuts, but heart shaped, filled donuts cover in sprinkles are apparently their jam.

After our morning trip to The Y, we made dough for cookies. When they woke up from naps we cut out the cookies, made icing, and decorated our cookies. I made the mistake of giving Harrison the sprinkles container. Half of the bottle got dumped on his first cookie, so instead of decorating, they got to eat a cookie and watch me decorate. 

After they went to bed, I put out their Valentine's Day gifts and headed to bed early. That seems to be a trend for me lately.

Saturday morning they checked out their new Itty Bitty's before we headed to brunch. I asked them to show me their favorites. Harry picked out Darth Vader and C3PO, and Brooke grabbed Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Belle. We brunched with their Godmother at The Friendly Fox. If you've never had their brunch, go. Like this Saturday. It's amazing. The kids shared the waffles and a couple plates of bacon, while I dug into a plate of garbage.

After Brooke's nap and Harrison's nap refusal, I dropped them off at my parents for the night. They had been excited to go to Grandma and PaPa's all week. Once they were settled, I met Robbie at work and we hit the road headed to Indy. The wind and blowing snow was crazy. When the wind picked up viability went from fine to zero in a matter of seconds. Part of the interstate was closed, and we passed a 20 car pile up on our way down.

We, along with along with one of Robbie's coworkers and his girlfriend, had VIP tickets to see Bush. The concert was at The Murat which is one of my favorite venues. Our seats were center front row, first balcony, and totally awesome. I have been a Bush fan since I was about 14, so I was uber excited for this concert.

Stars in Stereo and Theory of a Deadman opened for them. Both were ok, but neither were anything to write home about. Bush however, was AMAZING! Their energy was off the charts through the whole show. Gavin, who is almost 50!!!, didn't stop moving once during their set. During "Little Things" he ran through the entire theatre. The girl sitting directly behind me got to hug him(best day ever for her), and the people in the very back row even got to see him up close. It was pretty cool. Their encore started with "Machine Head," and you could feel the entire balcony shaking. It was awesome to experience. Definitely a top 5 concert experience, and I highly recommend seeing them if you ever have the chance.

Sunday morning I managed to sleep in until 8:30. Not quite what I was hoping for on a kid free morning, but at least it was an extra hour later than usual. Robbie and I grabbed brunch before picking up the kids from my parents. Brunch two days in a row qualifies this weekend for the best ever! The rest of our day was pretty chill around the house. Our friends came over for The Walking Dead. The kids BFF came over too and they ran around like crazies all night. They did stop long enough to eat dinner and have a couple cookies. I made quiona chili that Amber shared on her blog last week, and it was a hit. All three kids ate it, and the adults enjoyed it too. Oh yeah, and it was super easy to make.

After everyone left, we watched a little of the SNL special until I fell asleep on the couch. It was a great weekend, and has left me really excited for summer concerts. I'm hoping we can find a time that works with our schedule to see Foo Fighters, and I'm 90% positive we'll be going to see Ed Sheeran. It's going to be a super cold week here, so dreaming about summer is keeping me going. 

I hope all of you had a fun filled weekend with your Valentine's!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tasty Tuesday - Favorite Chicken Nuggets

So who else has a picky eater? Pretty much every toddler mom on the planet? Yeah, I thought so. I consider myself rather lucky when it comes to the toddler food battle. We have a few vegetables that the kids will always eat. Hummus is one of their top three favorite foods. Bananas and berries disappear in this house almost as quickly as I can buy them. Overall, it's not a terrible situation.

However, as soon as it's time to sit down for dinner, all bets are off. Even if I fed them ice cream, macaroni and cheese, and french fries for dinner, someone would decide they don't like cheese or ice cream. That kind of stuff happens on the regular. Brooke in particular is great at declaring the food she devoured last week is something she doesn't like this week. Unless it's nuggets with sauce.

Chicken nuggets and french fries. The toddler dinner of champions. I'm sure H and B would be content with the Chik Fil A drive through 6 nights a week. Naga, naga, not gonna happen. When it comes to at home options, we avoid the frozen nuggets, except for the occasional Mickey nuggets from Grandma. We have found that a slightly varied version of Bisquick's Ultimate Chicken Fingers recipe is a guaranteed eat in this house hold. Pair them with sweet potatoes fries and BBQ sauce, and the kids will actually sit at the table and eat for 10 solid minutes.

Favorite Chicken Nuggets

1 - 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
2/3 cup Bisquick
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 egg
1 TBSP melter butter (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 450. Trim chicken breasts as needed. Cut into thin slices or cubes as desired.

2. Mix all dry ingredients in a 1 gallon ziploc bag.

3. Whisk egg in small bowl until mixed.

4. Dip chicken in egg and then shake in ziploc bag until fully coated. I do a few pieces at a time.

5. Place coated chicken on a silicone baking sheet or aluminium foil sprayed with cooking spray.

6. Bake at 450 degrees for 12-14 minutes.

7. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter if desired.

Notes: You can add to and mix up the seasonings if desired. I used 1/2 tsp of onion powder when I made this batch. I didn't think it added anything to it, so I left it off the ingredients list. Adding Italian seasoning would give the chicken a good flavor. The original recipe calls for you to melt the butter and drizzle over the chicken before baking, but I prefer it after.

When it comes to sweet potato fries, we either use Simple Truth or Alexia frozen fries. I used to make them myself, but ain't nobody got time for that. You can find my "recipe" for those on
this post.