The Hungry, Hungry Healthy Eater

So it has been a while since I dove into writing. For some reason the whole, career shift, mental shift, life shift, really made me just take a step back from everything. I’ve spent the last two months really evaluating my choices over the past several years, my relationships with friends, family, and acquaintances, and just really taking a mental health month. From all of this time-out phase, I have learned so many valuable lessons.

1. Life is short, so DO the things you WANT TO DO.

Before I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter I feel safe in calling myself  a runner. I loved running. I loved the mental check out that happened whenever you set off with no end goal in sight, just an awesome play list and the mindless relaxing task of enjoying the sights around you, totally in control of where you go and how long you are gone. I felt so at pease when I ran.

But then kids happened. And life happened, And baby weight happened. And for about 4 years… nothing could really spark up the EXTRA planning, motivation, and organization involved in scheduling runs around commuting to work, having kids, working around a husband who used to work away sometimes more than he was home, choosing to run over sipping on my favorite glass of wine, and all those other excuses we are really, really good at coming up with, as normal human beings.

But then I worked from home. And plan periods, and lunch breaks became “let’s DO THIS” breaks and, “lets try adding a mile on” breaks. And before you knew it, I was able to run to the end of my road and back in 20 minutes (2 miles… not very far but a HUGE step for me.)

Now, a full 5 weeks into summer and I am up to a solid 6 mile run, and it feels AMAZING to get back into that routine. I signed up for my first 1/2 Marathon to run with a very close friend, and I am SO EXCITED!

So if there is a goal you’ve been “thinking about…” just go for it! Life is short, so ENJOY IT.

2. Holding a Grudge is… NEVER. WORTH. IT.

There is no secret in the fact that this previous school year has been an incredibly difficult one for me. I interviewed for several administrative positions that I wasn’t really ready to take, but it took interviewing and second rounds of interview to really put my priorities in check; and of course those work “feuds” that seem to sneak up on you and just seem to linger on… and on… and on.

Nothing is more stressful than the passive aggressive “disputes” that happen in the work force. We all have them. Whether you work in the school districts, industry, public transportation, or business offices, we all have that “person” or even “people” who apply those passive aggressive stressors on our lives. I avoided faculty rooms like the plague this past year, because when you have a husband who doesn’t have a schedule, works 60 – 80 hour work weeks as a normal routine, those petty complaints about summer break not being long enough, or catty comments about your boss are really hard to sit and swallow.

For some reason, we are hard wired to only hit the “reset” button whenever a crisis hits us. Suddenly those feuds, and petty arguments are nothing more than lost time between friends who lost track of why they became friends in the first place. Guiltily, I too, have struggled with this but managed to repair the ones that mattered before it was too late.

3. Work Stress doesn’t have to come “home” with you.

This clearly has been mentioned in previous posts as I never realized how much stress was added to my life with all the extra unnecessary drama of the work place, faculty rooms, and even the commute. Once my kids could wake up on their own and were no longer pulled from their beds at 5:45 in the morning, life became much more peaceful.

4. Family Comes First

I feel like this could apply in so many different ways during the past two months. Family is Forever; You can’t pick them, but you gotta love them; etc. There are so many cliche’s that go along with family, it’s impossible to even keep track of them all. Over the years, I have gone through several phases of relationships with my siblings; from childhood adoration of those older siblings, to teenage best friends, to heartbreaking distance; the first harsh reality of adulthood when you realize how different you really are; to acceptance of the people you are and the relationships you have together; and then finally to growth, where you discover new ways to appreciate each other and the incredibly different phases of life you may always be in from each other. Each of my siblings including the siblings I have gained through marrying my husband are all a varied levels of complicated, and irreplaceable relationships to me. When one of our siblings is hurting, we hurt with them. When one is celebrating, we celebrate with them.

This summer has also reinforced to my that my family will ALWAYS come first to me. My daughters and my husband’s needs will always fall ahead of everything else in life. These are the people who build me up, and keep my world spinning. Last year we went through a slight health scare which ultimately ended up being nothing, thank goodness, and I’m not sure if it was that scary reality check that really enforced the bond of a husband and wife, or if it’s the complicated and extensive history going back almost 15 years, or if its just that we are lucky enough to have found that true soul mate; regardless, celebrating our 5th year anniversary will most certainly be the highlight of my July.

5. True Friends are Friends Forever.

I have been blessed with a handful of friends who I know will be in my life forever. Some are from childhood, others from my previous job, and still others are friends developed through my husband, and continue to grow and help to shape the mother, and friend I am. I also have a unique blend of long-term friends that I only get the opportunity to see once or twice a year. But those times when we are reunited, we are so busy catching up on each others lives that it’s like the time between visits doesn’t even exist. (One of the major perks to social media…)

I have also spent so much time investing in relationships that were never really there in the first place. These people are the ones who bring you down, use artificial bonds and temporarily fill spaces in your life. My best advice, become incredibly good at determining the difference between the real friends, and the ones who are only temporary.

6. I love Food. This will NEVER. CHANGE.

And finally, the hard hitting lesson from the past few months: I. LOVE. FOOD. I am not a dieter, a health fanatic, or disciplined in any way shape or form. I love to eat, all things delicious and flavorful. I really enjoy carb-loaded foods, sweets, and wine. God I love wine. So when I splurge and attempt a recipe involving roasted vegetables and Salmon… about 2 hours later… I AM STARVING. But I digress…

Today I will share with you the light, and incredibly healthy meal my family and I shared Sunday, including a simple salmon suggestion from a good friend (definitely on the growing friends forever list) along with some hearty roasted vegetables.

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To begin, I must address the darling purple potatoes that have been frequenting the produce isles at Aldi’s all summer long! My girls LOVE PURPLE POTATOES! The roasted vegetables are a simple combination of the tiny potatoes from Aldi’s and broccoli florets tossed in olive oil and seasoned with garlic salt and pepper. They were delicious…!

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I strongly recommend placing your vegetables in the oven about 10 minutes prior to placing the salmon in the oven as well.

To prepare the Salmon:

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The salmon filets also came from Aldi’s and were my first experience with fish filets that still had skin on them. Not an enjoyable task, but I did slice off the outer layer before baking. (Feel free to laugh… I honestly wasn’t sure whether or not to leave it on…? I’m still not really sure!) Brush your salmon with a quality olive oil, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, and lay a few slices of lemon on those bad boys.

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One mistake I made: I am not a lemony person, and I took the additional lemons and squeezed a little over top the Salmon. I do not recommend doing that if you aren’t big into Lemon flavor on your fish. Just the slices laying on top should be more than enough.

Fold up your little cute Salmon foil packet, and place it on to the baking sheet beside the vegetables. Continue roasting and baking for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

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And when you pull the sheet out of the oven, with a whole 25 minutes of your life invested in this dinner, you’ll be super proud when your family is eating healthy and enjoying the flavors…!

Unless they are like me.

And they are starved… 2 hours later.

I want to be healthy and enjoy eating salmon and vegetables… however, I am a RED MEAT AND POTATOES GIRL. I’m also a wine girl. Mainly, a wine girl.

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Happy Healthy Eating! (And then unhealthy snacking a few hours later…!)

Cheers!

  • Whitney

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Rainy Day Activities for the Littles (and biggies) in your Life

So we have just entered into the second week of terrible weather in Western Pennsylvania with temperatures bouncing between the thirties and fifties, drizzly rain to torrential down pours, and just an overall lingering “blah” feel in the air. If you have toddlers in your life, particularly ones who got just a taste of those few warm, sunny, and beautiful days in April, then you know how frustrating it is to go from running in the yard, to being cooped up inside. The last thing I want is to drag out this cabin fever any longer that necessary.

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I’ve really been scouring the internet recently to come up with some less than average ways to bring that fun and excitement back for my cuties and combat the rainy weather blues. I was browsing through my Facebook memories, you know the daily reminders we get on exactly what we were doing on this very day over the past however many years we’ve had a Facebook account, (Eleven for me… disturbingly), and I came across one from exactly one year ago today. In this particular memory, my daughter was camping out in her teepee on a, you guessed it, Rainy Day. And just like that, I was inspired to begin my search again, for the perfect list of Rainy Day Activities, to help survive this next week of even more awful weather.

I have several options, from fun projects to cute little unusual toys you can find in my two most favorite places: Target, and Amazon (THANK YOU PRIME SHIPPING!!!) Each blue name link will take you directly to the product I am talking about.

So first up on the list:

  1. Teepee Tents

91HwifUKrcL._SL1500_This is the exact tent we ordered a year ago for our daughters to play in. Let me tell you, this was the BEST investment we have ever made. Neither of the girls ever got sick of it, and it folds up into one long skinny post we just put behind out couch so it’s always available at a moments notice. It was simple to assemble and both my husband (who is 6′ 2″) and I can comfortable sit in it with our girls. We usually fill it with blankets and the throw pillows from the room just to make it a little more fun. Spur of the moment blanket forts are awesome, but just don’t quite compare to your own TEEPEE.

The link takes you directly to Amazon, and below the item you’ll find tons of variations on this specific tent from sizes, to colors, to even different styled tents. You just can’t go wrong with this little fortress!

2. Pop-Open Tunnels

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My youngest was given a pop-open Caterpillar Tunnel, by my sister in law for her first birthday. These are the perfect rainy day activity because they open and close so easily and storage is super convenient with the little carrying case it comes with. Plus it’s CHEAP! This is the best inexpensive source of hours of entertainment! Don’t like the caterpillar? Try the super cute Ladybug Tunnel!

3. Wooden Paper Roll Dispenser

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There are TONS and TONS and TONS of art supplies on the market. As a former art teacher, it was super important to me that our girls be exposed to creativity and have access to supplies that support just that. For Christmas this past year, my Mother in Law and Father in Law got our oldest a beautiful White Easel by Kid Craft (and I’m sure every Pottery-Barn loving mother can relate when I say Kid Craft is the affordable alternative to the gorgeous Pottery Barn creative play ideas). While the White Easel is a high price item, there are several alternatives that are inexpensive for creative play. For example, this Melissa and Doug Wooden Paper Roll Dispenser. This is perfect for a kitchen table or play table with easy dispensing paper, kids can go from small wall art, to life size treasure maps of the living room, to human outlines of themselves to color and cut out. The possibilities are endless with roll paper.

4. Creative Play: Imagination Baking

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You have all seen my little assistants in action helping in the kitchen, especially whenever a dessert is involved, but those exciting baking moments transfer right into imaginative play. The BEST, BEST, BEST, investment we ever made for our girls, was the KidKraft Play Kitchen the girls received for Christmas a year and a half ago. It was a splurge, but the quality of KidKraft made it so worth it. My father-in-law put it best that year, “you can buy a cheap toy kitchen and it might last a year or two, or you can get one like this, and even an 8 year old will still want to play with it, some things are just worth it in the long run.” He reference my niece who was 8 at the time, and immediately goes to play with the girls at the kitchen whenever she comes over to our house. I even love playing with the girls with their kitchen. You can find kitchens from all price ranges. The specific Kitchen set we purchased can be found HERE. Melissa and Doug really support the imagination play by creating such high quality toys that withstand the brutality instilled upon them by toddlers. We have the Melissa and Doug Baking Set, Bake and Decorate Wooden Cupcake Set, and the Brew and Serve Wooden Coffee Maker Set. Personally, the little coffee maker set is my favorite…!

 

It's not always abouttrying to fix somethingthat's broken.

5. Creative Play: Household Accessories

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The research behind creative play is unreal. There are so many skills and developmental milestones in simply imagining real life tasks. Our girls LOVE playing with their matching Cabbage Patch baby dolls, carrying them around in car seats, pushing them in strollers, and even feeding them in sweet little high chairs. Our youngest’s current favorite task is “ironing” her blanket on this DARLING little Honestly Cute Ironing Board on Target’s website. They have an entire category for Pretend Play on their website. I mean, Honestly Cute even has a Dyson-look-alike VACUUM! Or try the Let’s Get Cleaning Broom and Duster set! My girls LOVE copying whatever chore or task I’m doing, so why not make it fun?! After all, I do get an awful lot of cleaning done on Rainy Days!

6. Creative Kitchen : Bake some Cupcakes!

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It’s no secret that I love to bake, or that my kids love helping me. On rainy and chilly days  like today I find myself drawn to the kitchen looking for an excuse to turn the stove on and shake the chill that never seems to leave. Plus, who doesn’t love sharing a goey cake batter spoon with their little loved ones? So here are some cute little inspiration photos to get you in the mood to make fun little cupcakes with your littles, or bigs, depending on what age you have running around your house on these chilly and rainy days.

Head over to my Pinterest Board: Cupcakes for more ideas!

7. Read some Cute New Books!

Whether your an e-reader, or a hard copy book guru, you can never have enough cute books for your kids! I always welcome new book suggestions for the 1-4 year old age. Another great way to get your hands on some new titles for your kiddos would be to find a family member or friend with similar aged children and do a “book exchange” trading your favorites for their favorites. It’s a win win! You find new books that have already been approved by people you care about, and you get to share the treasure you and your children love in return. Thanks to my sister, we love the Sandra Boynton books: Snuggle Puppy!, Hippos Go Berserk!, Pajama Time!, and Barnyard Dance!

LITTLE FREE LIBRARY
I’ve seen so many of the “Little Free Libraries” popping up all over the place. If you have never heard of this idea, a Little Free Library is a drop box located in a common area or a volunteering neighbor’s yard to donate books no longer used for others in a community to read. They are typically waterproof boxes that are unlocked and offer a spot to share, discuss, and build a stronger community simply by exchanging books.

8. Create a Day of Sunshine

Colors brighten our day, so why not try a cute spin off from sending a “Box of Sunshine” to having a Day of Sunshine to brighten those dreary days. Fill your day with as many sunny and brightly colored things from yellow table cloths, to colorful paper plates, yellow fruits and snacks, or yellow lemonade. Try to fill your whole date with everything bright and yellow! Make sparkly yellow suns, listen to “Yellow Submarine” just fill those dreary clouds outside with rays of fun and sun inside.  Check out my Day of Sunshine board on Pinterest to find more colorful inspirational ideas for a sun-filled day.

It's not always abouttrying to fix somethingthat's broken.

Hopefully this little list was able to inspire you to create some excitement for your kids in one way or another to weather the stormy days!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

Gluten Free Spring Cake

So one afternoon, while I was debating the final contestants for my blog’s Logo and writing Hello Logo, Welcome Home my oldest daughter was camped out beside me with her cute little Leap Frog Pink Laptop, plugging away at her work as well.

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As usual, I was multi-tasking and distracting myself on Pinterest when my oldest piped up saying, “Mommy! Wait! I want to make that cake right there!” Immediately pointing to a boxed cake idea utilizing food coloring and colorful layers on a bundt cake. After carefully inspecting the recipe, I said to her we would try it out.

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This was the original picture from Tablespoon my daughter saw online.

The recipe required a white boxed cake mix which in the world of gluten free, does not exist.

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Knowing that a yellow cake mix with food coloring would most likely look more orange than pink, I needed to come up with a white cake recipe. I continued to scour the internet for another hour or so until I had enough background information to develop a fairly simple gluten free white cake recipe.

So my daughters and I went to work, making a homemade Gluten Free White Cake recipe.

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I always start by measuring my dry ingredients and combining them first in a lovely spouted bowl. This cake was made with Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour which is simple, and cup for cup convertible to non gluten free recipes.

Since this recipe has melted butter, I do this next so it has a chance to briefly cool. I’m pretty sure I’m going to experiment with melted butter in boxed mixes, because this cake turned out SO. GREAT!

Next, I place my mixer assistants on the counter and start beating the eggs and sugar.

After everyone is in place, I add in the butter, buttermilk, vanilla, and almond extract. Once everything is mixed really well, begin adding in the flour one cup at a time, and stop as soon as the cake mixture is just combined.

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This is my favorite cake batter to lick. And both of my girls would agree with me on this. (yes… my children lick the beaters when I bake. So do I, and we are all just fine…)

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As I was watching the cake lighten up in color with every scoop of Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour, I was getting pretty excited! It was actually going to be a WHITE CAKE. But then we would be adding color to it, meaning that a true white cake really needed to be added to our future to-bake list.
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Look how delicious, fluffy and light this cake batter ended up! I hated to even color it! But needless to say, my daughter was anxiously waiting to add the color. So we divided the batter evenly among 3 bowls.

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I then began to color each section of batter to match the original cake inspiration, following through with a yellow, purple, and of course, pink portion.

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After finishing this cake, looking back, I would definitely pursue a deeper shade of purple cake, because while it was visible in the final product it would have been a little cooler looking with a deeper shade.

Now comes the fun part: handing three bowls of batter to a 3 year old and letting her go to town layering the colors in the pan. She loved this part; however, decided part way through it would have been better to just make a pink cake. Of course.

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Look at her, she’s like a little professional! The final cake looked something like this prior to baking:

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How pretty and fun is this cake? And once we finished baking it, about 40 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees, it looked even prettier!

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Now, here is where I went wrong. I did not let my cake cool long enough before attempting to remove it from the pan. So my cake cracked, but evenly so I was able to piece it right back together.

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You almost can’t even see the crack! Once the cake has COMPLETELY cooled, divide up your icing into 3 separate bowls.

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Again, you could make this from scratch, but when a classic white icing is already gluten free, and you plan to drizzle it, why not just use it from the can? It’s easily thinned by adding some milk to get the glazing effect you are looking for.

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I added my colors and found the shades I was looking for before attempting to thin the icing and it worked out really well this way.

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Once your icing is slightly runny, your daughter is wired on sugar, and the cake is cooled, let her go to town flinging icing on to a cake. It might be slightly messy, but she had so much fun decorating this cake!

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The other thing I noticed was the original did not use a ton of icing. In our household, it’s a crime to under-ice a cake. Needless to say, this cake was drenched in frosting, and every bit of the final product was delicious!

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Just one handful of colored sugar sprinkles and we were finished!

The colors swirled pretty well, all things considered, but I think layering the colors in to the pan one at a time and then using a knife to swirl them would work out the best to achieve the true swirl cake effect.

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Well there you have it! One fairly simple Gluten Free White Cake Recipe, and another simple modification to make my daughter’s Gluten Free Spring Cake.

Cheers!

  • Whitney

 

Gluten Free White Cake

  • Servings: 12 servings
  • Print

A perfectly white and moist cake, with a delicious flavor that will fool even the keenest of taste buds.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

  1. Set the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt butter and let cool slightly.
  3. In a stand mixer beat the eggs and sugar together. Add in the butter, buttermilk, vanilla and almond extract. Continue to mix at medium speed until combined.
  4. Add in the dry mixture one cup at a time until ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix.
  5. Pour into 2 greased  8 or 9 inch baking pans and bake 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (For a bundt cake, bake for 35-40 minutes)
  6. Let the cakes cool at least 30 minutes before removing from the pan and transferring to a wire rack to continue to cool completely.

Gluten Free Colorful Spring Cake

  • Servings: 12 servings
  • Print

A fun twist on a classic gluten free white cake that is sure to wow a crowd or add a cheerful touch to a spring gathering.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 can white icing
  • 3-6 Tablespoons milk

Directions

  1. Set the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt butter and let cool slightly.
  3. In a stand mixer beat the eggs and sugar together. Add in the butter, buttermilk, vanilla and almond extract. Continue to mix at medium speed until combined.
  4. Add in the dry mixture one cup at a time until ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix.
  5. Separate cake mixture into three even portions. Add food coloring to each to make a yellow, pink (use red) and purple (use red and slightly more blue) colored batter.
  6. Rotating between colors, pour layers of each color into a greased bundt pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  7. Let the cake cool at least 30 minutes before removing from the pan and transferring to a wire rack to continue to cool completely.
  8. Using canned icing separate into 3 even portions, repeating the same food coloring portions as the cake batter. Thin each bowl out with 1-2 tablespoons of milk, until a glaze consistency has been achieved.
  9. Drizzle icing over cake alternating colors. Let the icing set completely before serving.

 

 

Last Minute Easter Treats

So it’s the night before your child’s Easter party and you are in a panic. Why? Because you just realized you do not have half the items to create the “bunny munch” or the Twinkie Race Cars” that are blowing up Pinterest this year. However, you have done a little easter shopping, low and behold, you have PEEPS.

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Peeps generally stir extreme love or extreme hate in fellow Easter snackers. For me, it’s in the extreme love category, and both my girls will agree with this side of the argument. I’m pretty sure I’ve never met a child who doesn’t love a marshmallow. After some minor research, I discovered Peeps are gluten-free. Interestingly, the Lavender peeps are DAIRY FREE as well.

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Seems a little strange that one specific color is dairy free while the others are not. The bunny shapes are not always listed DAIRY FREE either. Read your packaging.

On the official PEEPS & COMPANY website, you can shop by Gluten Free category. I found countless options available. I had a little more trouble finding dairy free specific listings. Anyways, getting off my rant and returning to a simple last minute Easter treat to please a crowd, “Treats for your Peeps!”

I love making printable tags for gifts, holiday events, treats, teaching materials, you name it. I don’t think I’ve ever met a teacher who didn’t love making or receiving a great free-printable.

I whipped these tags up last night for my daughters Easter party at the sitter, and couldn’t help but share with anyone who might need a last minute treat idea!

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It was such a fun, colorful, and simple treat to make! I used a couple packages of Peeps, some bakers twine, treat bags, and the tags that I printed. I kept the treat small, placing 3 little peeps in each treat bag. I also did not have treat bags in stock so I simply cut the end off of a plastic sandwich baggie. It was the perfect size!

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Start by sectioning your peeps in to 3 or 4 peep sections, depending on the size of your treat bags, and place them in each treat bag. Using just a small piece of bakers twine, Tie off the open end, leaving enough string to attach your tag.

img_7939.jpg I didn’t have a hole punch handy so my scissors had to work. Once the tag was attached you couldn’t even tell the difference!

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The girls go to a smaller child care so I only had to make a few, but enjoy sending extras for the “big kids” at the sitter’s. I personalized the girls tags; however, have provided a simple generic tag anyone can download and use!

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So simple but so cute! Hopefully this tag can help out an always multi-tasking mother this holiday!

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Cheers!

  • Whitney

 

(Click Below for the Printable Tags)

Easter Tags

Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2017

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This week I have really been focusing on gift giving. I know it’s a random time of year to choose gift giving as a topic of interest, but there is something about Spring that is so new and fresh and makes me want to put winter blues behind me and brighten some one’s day. It could also be that my husband and two very good friends have birthdays right at the beginning of Spring, or even the fact that Easter is coming just around the corner. Regardless of whatever inspired this mood of gifting, I wanted to share some of my top Mother’s Day Gift Ideas with my 2017 Mother’s Day Gift Guide.

Mother's Day GIFT GUIDE

Every product includes a description of why you will love it along with an image and link to the product itself. Spoil your mother, or better yet, share this with your husband… and enjoy the spoiling yourself!

  1. Echo Dot

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Ok… so at first I wasn’t sure about the whole talking to a piece of technology in your home; however, there are countless times that I have my hands full with the girls and my husband is off doing whatever… and a little assistance would be nice! Our three year old likes to try to change channels and mess with the dvd player while I am cooking. How nice would it be to say, “Hey Alexa, play Frozen, for the girls.” Or even, “Hey Alexa, what is the next step in this recipe?” How many of you mothers use Pinterest as your recipe book? I do! I am constantly flipping through my phone, leaving flour or who knows what else on the touch screen of my phone while trying to cook.

2. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

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This classic novel, is a picturesque story of the occasional struggles between mother – daughter relationships, and the secrets children sometimes are unaware of when it comes to their parents. Kristin Hannah’s attention to detail and build up in this heart warming novel will leave any mother in tears of joy by the end.

3. Keurig 2.0 K200 Series

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I am a coffee junkie! My husband and I recently purchase a more elaborate coffee system, but inevitably returned to our classic Keurig. It is so simple and convenient! I registered for a Keurig 5 1/2 years ago before we were married and my teaching friends purchased it for us as a shower gift. I still have that system. Keurig products are such great quality products. There is something about feminine colored appliances that really appeal to me. I love this K200 in Oasis. Keurig also offers a K250 in Sandy Pearl

4. Gold Flatware by Threshold

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I confess, I have been eyeing this set of flatware up for months. I am in love with the gold finish and the price! You just can’t beat a good value that looks and feels like quality. If anyone happens to speak with my husband, this would be an excellent addition to our home…!

5. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

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My Kitchen Aid is my appliance better half. My husband bought me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for my first mother’s day and I use it constantly. It literally fell out of the hatch of my vehicle on a trip to my sisters this past Christmas, bounced across her driveway, and miraculously still works. There was a moment I thought I might be losing my poor baby appliance, but it was a trooper and pulled through! If that doesn’t sales pitch you on the quality of this machine, I don’t know what will. This is the specific model I use and love. I would recommend ordering an additional bowl, for busy baking days. While this item is on the higher end of the shopping budget, it certainly will let the Mother in your life know how much she is appreciated! Besides, who doesn’t love a little extra motivation to have baked good around more often?!

6. Porcelain Classic White Dinnerware Set

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LOVE my white dish set from Target. These dishes are high quality and affordable. You can purchase them as a set or individual pieces, which I also love. I was treated to a nice set of these clean white dishes last year for Mother’s day. The thing I love the most about a white dish set, is the timeless feel. You can switch in different accent plates, compliment with seasonal colors, and never get sick of it. While patterns and colors may be trendy a times, white plates will never go out of style. When I am investing in an item for my kitchen, I want it to last. These plates are exactly that.

7. Decorative Dry Erase Boards

Help Mom stay organized and stylish at an affordable price at a mere $9.99 with this Marble Dry Erase Board or this Navy Blue and Copper Chalk Board. These are so cute and would look great in an office, kitchen, or entry way! I have the Marble one in my Updated Home Office (post coming soon!).

Mother's Day GIFT GUIDE

8. Classic Wooden Tray

These beautiful, yet simple, wooden trays remind me of a fun Mother’s Day and Father’s Day tradition we had in our home growing up. Each year on Mother’s day my dad and I (or my sister and I when she still lived at home) would get up and make breakfast for our Mom and take her a tray of breakfast in bed. As a kid it felt SO FUN to eat  breakfast in a bed! We did the same on Father’s day serving my Dad breakfast in bed as well. So when I stumbled across this Acacia Bed Tray and Espresso Benito Breakfast Tray I just had to share this fun tradition from my childhood. Even surprising Mom with the tray, breakfast, and some fresh flowers would surely start any Mother’s Day off perfectly.

9. A Shopping Trip!

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Plan a day and prepare in advance by surprising her with a scheduled date, child care arranged, and a budget for a shopping spree. Target now offers both credit cards and debit cards. If my husband ever said to me, “Here honey, I took care of scheduling a sitter for this day, and I have this awesomely full Target gift card (or credit card) spend the day enjoying yourself!” I might just have a heart attack and never even make it to the store. Some of my close friends who have experienced my shopping trips to Target will vouch for how dangerous it would be to send me unsupervised into a Target store with a credit card. But trust me, it has happened…

10.  Affordable Floral Necklace

Floral Necklace

When it comes to jewelry you will really need to feel your way through this. I like jewelry that is inexpensive, as the more trendy styles come and go; however, I have my select timeless pieces with more sentimental value. (See the next item if you’re looking in this direction) This necklace lays beautifully when paired with a simple shirt and jeans but can also dress up an outfit for an evening out with the husband. I find myself following the ever spinning circle of “silver” or “gold” falling more heavily on gold at the moment, but like that the crystal look balances out the gold if you’re still unsure about jumping back into gold jewelry.

11. Personalized Jewelry by Unmistakably Mine

  1. As I have mentioned in my previous post, UnmistakablyMine | Personalized and Affordable, this is my ultimate go-to shop on Etsy for personalized and sentimental gifts for those that I love.  You cannot go wrong on Mother’s day when shopping with Lori and her quality products from personalized necklaces for a mother, to bracelets for a friend, and  even the Pet Mommy out there will find items to cherish on her website.

12.  Reversible Tote

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Show me a Mother, and I’ll show you a multi-tasker. This bag is perfect for the Mom on the go. It’s inexpensive and REVERSIBLE! Plus if you click the link above, it comes in 8 color options. I have one in the black and tan reversible option, prior to this little gem of a pattern being released. I love the spring feel this pattern has, and the strength of the bag has my stamp of approval. I’ve carried multiple laptops in mine at once, along with items for my kids.

13. Terracotta Planters – Personalized

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Plants and planters seem to go hand in hand with Mother’s Day. Perhaps it’s that Kindergarten-Style brainwashing we receive when we place our hand prints on Terracotta planters at 6 years old.  Then followed by the act of planting the pot with basil or some other random herb and take our creations home to our mothers, hearts beaming, anxious for her approval. Today I am presenting you with an updated, modern approach to that childhood gift. Hello Smith and Hawkins:

Smith and Hawkins

I love the small Terracotta Planters new, empty, and full of gardening tools or seed packets, or planted with a favorite flowering plant or frequently used herb.

14. Cake Stands – Not Just for Cakes Anymore

From white, to milk glass, to crystal, and even metallic, cake stands are one of the trendiest purchases of late. I have two currently, but would love to continue to grow this collection.  A simple White Cake Stand is always a classic starting point. Galvanized Metal Cake Stands add that rustic charm so heavily inspired by Chip and Joanna Gaines. And the third cute stand listed above is a sweet little Gold Cake Stand with pretty little details that would be a compliment to just about any cake or cupcake presentation.

But cake stands don’t have to remain in the kitchen. I’ve noticed some very cute presentations from jewelry trays on a vanity, to accent pieces on a mantle. The possibilities are endless. So get creative!

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Well there you have it. 14 ideas to inspire some unique, yet thoughtful gifts for the mother in your life. Celebrate her and all that she does for her family. If you are the mother, just forward this helpful little link on over to your husband and leave the rest up to him!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

Painting Away the Baby Blues

Parenting is like a never ending rollercoaster. One moment you are climbing up what seems like an immense hill and as you finally figure it out and begin to casually coast down the other side, just like that, those darn children change and you feel like you’re starting all over again, re-learning the next challenge, milestone, or phase in your child’s life.

Recently I have been struggling with the first round of “lasts” of parenting. We mutually agreed to have two children and have been blessed with two healthy, beautiful, funny, head strong girls and I wouldn’t have it any other way. When our youngest turned one, it felt somewhat like an accomplishment: we had survived the baby phase. She gradually began to master the art of walking, and eventually phased out her adorable little knee-scootch that she used in lieu of walking for like a five month span of her life. It was only a matter of time before her sweet deep little voice began to mimic words, learning “peeze” “tank-yew” and “wav yew,” each becoming music to our ears.

All of a sudden, just after we reached the 16 month milestone, it was as if someone pushed the fast-forward button in my daughter’s life. Within a week it felt as though she had completely transitioned from baby to toddler, trying harder than ever to keep up with her three-year old sister. She seemed to skip stages of development that her older sister hung in a bit longer.

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Everyone wants to tell a new mother or young mother to cherish the time while you have it, and every sleep deprived mother nods politely back, as if they are being lectured on not appreciating their children enough, even though we all know that is not the intention of the comment. But it isn’t until the second child that you begin to feel the depth of true meaning behind this comment. Time is priceless. We do not know how much time we have on this earth, with the people we love. All that we know is we need to make the most of it, cherish the small moments, hold on to the good memories, and let the grudges go.

I have recently found myself emptying dresser drawers of baby clothes. Rather than re filling totes to store in the basement “for the next one” since there will be no “next one”, I have been passing them on to friends I care for very much. It is this weird sharing of little items, that helps bring peace to the harsh reality that my baby is growing up. Giving someone else the opportunity to share little moments in the sweet clothes that I have photographed countless times, memorized the milestones that took place while wearing them for each of my girls, brings a little peace to an aching heart of a mother who just wants time to slow down, if only for a moment.

My youngest is this wild at heart child who is fierce. She is fierce in how much she loves, how she plays, how she learns, and how she grows. I am constantly amazed by her.

I recently spent an entire weekend in spring-cleaning overdrive. My husband used to work away so I was used to frequent days alone to complete home projects. With his recent shift back into an office, I have not had as much time to really dig in to any major home projects. So when the opportunity came for him to take a weekend venture with his brother and Dad to check out a potential hunting spot, I fully supported it.

Our three year old has been drastically out-growing her toddler bed. My parents willingly scheduled a sleep over with our girls for the same weekend so I could complete a full bedroom make-over uninterrupted. It was during this weekend of solitude that I really began to reflect on how much life was changing in our house.

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loved my daughter’s nursery room. Ironically, I loved it so much that I re-created it three times. I first set her room up in our old home, about 2 months before she was born. We then purchased our current residence and moved when she was only 5 weeks old, the child never even had a chance to sleep in her initial nursery. The exact nursery was replicated in the new home. And then shortly after she turned one, we shifted her room to a different room in the house when discovering she would become a big sister in the very near future. My mom hand sewed a gorgeous set of beautiful pink and blue crib bedding that set off the entire theme. So when I tell you I struggled with the idea of changing her Tiffany Blue baby walls to a delicate and sophisticated color scheme that could grow with her, I truly mean it.

So on that Saturday evening in March, I methodically began my process of moving furniture, cleaning the floors and setting up my work station. I have a system to every painting project I take on, perhaps it is the former artist in me. Once I had all of the pieces in place and the Pandora station set, I began to cover up three years of my baby girl’s life with a new coat, perhaps a new stage, of life.

The next 3 hours felt like a bizarre movie was rolling through my head as I remembered little moments in her life, like the first fall after she was born when my husband posed for his first archery season picture with her. The smile on her face when she sat on his lap was so genuine and full of excitement that it melted my heart right on the spot. I remembered the first time she began to dance to The Hotdog Song from Micky Mouse Clubhouse. I also remembered how she first tried learning to run the summer after turning one. Her arms would go so fast, but her poor little feet were so slow and comical. I remembered the heart breaking teeny tiny little boot she wore after discovering she had a tiny toddler fracture in her leg. I thought about how she would tilt her head in a sweet little shrug whenever anyone said “awe, so sweet” to her. And then I started to catch up to more recent moments, like when she would try to pose her baby sister on the couch for me to take her picture. I also remembered the epic fail of trying to send my husband a video of the girls saying “happy birthday daddy”  when he was working away, when all Brielle could muster was “eeew, she’s throwing up Mommy… clean her up!” Oh those reflux babies…

As the time passed, so did the coat of paint, and eventually I found myself taking a picture of the last strip of blue paint, just before I covered it up. Perhaps the purpose behind this post is to remember that life is constantly moving forward. There is no stop, rewind, or pause button for it. It is difficult at times to keep this in perspective; however, critical to remember because as beautiful as the time is that we are given, we cannot get it back.

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I still keep 3 pairs of 0-3 month socks in my girls drawers. I just cannot bring myself to take those teeny tiny little pieces out of the drawer, permanently accepting that they will never wear them again. It was a bitter sweet moment as I added the finishing touches to my daughter’s “Big Girl” room preparing for the great reveal, and rather than get hung up in the time that has passed, I chose to focus on the here and now, anxiously awaiting her approval that would hopefully come that evening.

Once my husband returned from his trip, I picked the girls up from the weekend sleep over at Nana and Papa’s and corralled the girls back into the house. Our three year old bolted up the steps to see her new room, and let me just say, three is a wonderful age.

Hug your babies tonight, cheers!

  • Whitney

Designing a Home Office

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Whenever designing a home office there are a few things to consider before jumping head first into your project. I have been considering a home office space for about a year now. But since I haven’t had a real need for one until recently, the idea just kept getting brushed aside. We live in an incredibly old farm-house. It has the old farm house charm, but was freshly renovated before we moved in. When my husband and I walked through it for the first time, incredibly pregnant with our first child we both immediately fell in love with the space, the location, and the PORCH. Seriously, the massive porch on our house is a second living space in the warm weather seasons.

The house is set up in an L-shape floor plan with a brightly lit living and dining space and an impressive sized kitchen just off the dining room. A mud room, laundry room, and 3/4 bathroom were added after the original home was built and they are located just off the kitchen.

The second floor replicates the L-shape with a master bedroom above the living room. Just outside the master bedroom is an open hallway at the top of the stairwell with a bathroom and a door to the bedrooms. The one unusual thing about the floor plan is that you must go through each of the additional bedrooms to get to the next bedroom. Our house is considered a 4 bedroom residence, but each of the girls’ bedrooms are slightly narrow and lack closets. Very inconvenient since we have all daughters. But we make it work.

The first of the three adjoining bedrooms has been primarily dominated by my husband, turning it in to his western-Pennsylvania “trophy room” full of every type of mount you can imagine. We all win with this arrangement: he gets a man space, and I get a dead animal-free first floor. The girls bedrooms are just beyond this man case, which concludes the floor plan explanation.

Having talked you through my house, you may have noticed, every space is being used by a dominating purpose. There is no real spare room or office space in our home which meant I needed to get creative on my placement of my home office. I considered placing the office in the corner of our dining room; however, this space already has a lot going on and is just on the edge of becoming over-cluttered. We have a fire-place, staircase,  two doorways and even a closet door. The room also holds a dining table that seats 12 limiting the extra space.

My next thought was to utilize the additional space in our bedroom. The master bedroom is a bit large and a slight waste of space. In the future I would like to see our small bathroom expanded into the extra space. Unfortunately this construction project is not in the near future, so I settled on this space. The other plus to this room, is the amazing lighting. We have a windows on 3 of the four walls making it such a bright and welcoming space, particularly in the morning hours when I will be spending the majority of my time working in here.

I decided to use the smaller desk that was currently acting as an entryway table, (which lead me to redecorating the entryway… see how my mind works?!) as my desk. I love this simple white desk that worked well with the white woodwork throughout our home and had the simple clean lines that I like, without giving it a modern feel. I also received my equipment from the Cyber School I would be working for and knew the printer I received was massive, clunky, and black. I found a black filing cabinet to put the beast printer on to help blend that bad boy away from becoming an eye sore.

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Getting the equipment in place, the basic furniture set, I felt I had a good foundation to add the fun pieces. You want your workspace to be cute, but it needs to be functional and suit your specific needs. I will be teaching from this station, so I needed to make sure the backdrop for my lessons was simple. Since my husband’s side of the room would be behind me, it is very plain. Perfect. Next I would need to find ways to organize my daily supplies and make my bland view, a little more fun.

By the way, the color of my walls is Palladian Blue by Benjamin Moore. You will never see a room in my house painted in anything but Benjamin Moore paint. I Love the quality of the paint, the thickness and the ease of cutting and rolling such rich paint.

After leaving my office alone for a couple of days to think about what items I really wanted I used an inconveniently scheduled doctor’s appointment and made the most of the day browsing the sale isles of various stores. My super creative friend showed me this darling sign she found at JoAnn fabrics and I immediately said “I need that for my office!!” Knowing they were having a 50% off sale I started there.

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I also found this great little glass milk jug holder there, and I’ve linked a similar product HERE for you if you are interested in this style of organization. The art teacher comes out in me when I organize. I can’t help but place all warm colored pens together, cool colors together, and blacks separated as well.

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If I am going to function well in the digital classroom, I need only a few items right at my reach, a planner located in my drawer, a notebook to write down to-do lists, and easily accessible pens.

I also am a “hanging file junkie” and will be using this as not only my classroom but finally a home office space, where I will keep all bills, family documents, and resources that might come in handy from my former teaching position. I plan to use the filing cabinet for bills, family documents and older resources that might come in handy in my new position.

I found these really cute crates at T J Max on clearance and decided I would use them as an additional filing system for all documents needed while teaching online and writing IEPs for my new caseload.

I love hanging file crates! How cute are they? Plus they distract from the ugly shade of green on the hanging file folders. Here is a similar product on Amazon you could use in youor own home office. Large Crate and Small Crates.

I also found this sweet little gem as a little reminder to myself each day why I chose this career and how fortunate I am to jump on opportunities like this digital career shift. Everyone needs a little reminder to Dream Big, so why not have one right in front of you every day?

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While my bedroom is fairly large, I didn’t want to add too much to distract from the simplicity of the room or look too bulky. So I began searching a series of chairs, from slipper chairs to crazy finds at TJ Max and discovered, once again, in the clearance isle a simple adjustable office chair that was less than distracting.

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I found a CLEAR OFFICE CHAIR! It literally blends into the space when rolled in, fits neatly in its place, doesn’t distract from the simple space, and is, believe it or not, comfortable!

You can find a similar chair HERE for your own office space.

Now there is one last piece I need to share. Every time I start a major career, I have one piece from these two particular girls. When I was starting my first teaching job, I took a vase and flowers made for me by my nieces as a little piece of home. That vase has stood the test of time and is still on my desk. I recently received a beautiful little cross stitch from my one niece and felt that I needed another good luck charm as I start my next career adventure.

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And that brings me to the finished product. My functional, personalized office space:

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So lets recap. There are several critical things to consider when designing an office space that works for you:

  1. Spacing and Location – If you have a designated room for a home office, your creative opportounities are endless; however, if you have limited space, as I did, you need to create an environmenet that utilizes the space efficiently
  2. Functionality – What will your office be used for? Will you be storing significant files? Or will you be primarily digital and simplified. These are all critical factors in laying out your space. Determine what items you need to be your most efficient self.
  3. Style – Find a style that fits your personality. If you aren’t sure what that is, Pinterest is always a great starting point. I wanted a style that held the farm house charm, but still reflected simple clean lines

So, whenever tackline your home office:

  1. identify your space
  2. repurpose furniture you may already have laying around your house
  3. determine what your purpose will be for the office
  4. find an effective layout for your office
  5. shop the clearance isle for cute accents
  6. have fun with it!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

Weekends with Toddlers | What to Do?

I found myself sitting on a Tuesday commute home divulging in the temporary excitement that comes when a significant change is about to occur in your life. Now that the shock and awe of my career shift has sunk in, and the important parties have all been notified, it seems as though life has begun to move in slow motion, gradually ticking away the hours, minutes, and seconds until this Career Shift actually takes place.

I’ve gone through every emotion possible starting at terrified, then moving in sequential order through heart-broken, excited, nervous, frustrated, irritated, anxious, impatient, exhausted, and now to complacent. Emotional roller coasters are exhausting. But as my rail car seems to be stalling out, I’m focusing on the here and now. What do I have left to do before I leave? And most importantly, what can I already begin to do with my little girls as I make this shift to prioritize them above all else.

So it was on this random Tuesday, pulling out of the sitter’s driveway that my oldest daughter asked me, “Mommy, could we make cookies tomorrow? No, could we make cookies TODAY?!” I thought for a moment about the steps involved, ingredients needed, and then like a lightening bolt striking a tree, remembered buying a tub of cookie dough from my niece’s fundraiser that was, brace yourselves, ACTUALLY GLUTEN FREE! I had already planned to make One Pot Jambalaya for dinner, a recipe I kind of whipped out of no-where, winging an attempt at a more complicated version I had made years before. And with this simple dinner plan, I knew we would have additional free time to do just that, bake cookies. I immediately agreed to this simple task of scooping and rolling cookie dough without hesitation and the squeals of excitement that escaped my girls in the back seat were music to my ears.

We then hurried home and began our dinner preparations, finishing just as my husband pulled into the driveway. Once everyone was well fed, the girls began to dig into the container of cookie dough rolling, scooping, and even eating, until we had created 2 sheets full of cookies! My girls actually enjoy the prep better than the end result in almost any cookie (except sugar cookies. My youngest will take you down to get to a sugar cookie) so when the trays were completed, and the cookies were not the top notch cookie like many of our homemade ones, the girls were not interested in eating them.

I then thought to myself, what can I do with 24 gluten free cookies that don’t meet the expectations of the cookie baking connoisseurs my daughters have become? And just like that she hit me; a student who has been on my caseload at school for 3 1/2 years now, has a gluten intolerance that is not well monitored. We immediately packaged up the cookies, making her a little card from the girls placing them in my school bag to be delivered the next day.

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It was this small pay-it-forward gesture that got me thinking, what other “service-project” activities could a toddler and 17 month old participate in?

My very good friend runs a Helping Hands club that is highly active in service projects and volunteer hours. I want my girls to learn the value of paying-it-forward at an early age. So I developed a list of 10 simple activities you can do with your child at any age to help teach this core value of our society to even the smallest of children

  1. Baking cookies for a local shut-in, delivering with a friendly child-crafted card.
  2. Donating old books to a local library or the Salvation Army
  3. Sorting through old toys, choosing ones to donate to local community supporting corporations like GoodWill
  4. Creating a “coupon book” of hugs and kisses for grandparents.
  5. Making lists of the things siblings love the most about each other, sharing one item every day for a week off the list.
  6. Taking your children grocery shopping for items to donate to a local food pantry.
  7. Volunteering with toddlers to help sort at local food banks
  8. Understanding the value of the critical terms Thank You, or Please at ages as young as 1
  9. Letting small children assist in picking out gifts for other children, and sharing in the joy of giving a gift to someone they love.
  10. Taking your child to local community events demonstrating the importance of community and supporting local businesses from an early age.

All of these ideas could easily be performed in a small rural community all the way to the booming cities across our country. We want our children to be BETTER than us, to value more, and want less.

Spend the weekend with your children, no matter their age, sharing in the joys of paying it forward.

Cheers!

  • Whitney

Treats on a Tuesday

With the upcoming festively green holiday, I have been searching the internet in attempts to find some fun activities to do with my girls and some cute little treats to send with the girls to the sitter. My mother is 50% Irish, and like all mothers of the 80’s and 90’s this meant dying anything possible in our St. Patrick’s day meal GREEN. We did not eat some lavishly traditional Irish cuisine, nor did we all speak with heavy Irish accents. Nope, just straight up ate all the green foods possible. And I loved it.

Since the invention of Pinterest, I’ve noticed even the less than crafty have stepped up their A-game on crafting. I had to laugh on my way to work today as I listened to the radio personalities going on and on about how no real mom makes the cute crafts on Pinterest. It must be a food stylist, or a professional posing as a stay at home Mom. Reality check Radio. Some of us do exist! We are the epitome of over-doers, those people that everyone seems to feel the need to throw the ever insulting comment, “You have too much time on your hands…” at us every chance they get. I am relieved every time I see a fellow Facebook friend post some ridiculously crafty idea he or she made online. It’s almost a relief to see someone else, like they make it OK to be crafty. Ridiculous thinking, I’m very much aware of that.

So I found a collection of cute little St. Paddy’s day crafts and  treats to share with you over this first week of March. Today I’ll start with a couple easy kid-friendly treats.

  1. Rainbow Cups

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I love this Rainbow and Pot of Gold! It’s so cute! Plus you can find all of these items easily at your local grocery store or on Amazon having them delivered right to your door! I found this one on I Can Teach My Child  I love the organized Skittles before layering the candy cups. But the Chocolate Gold Coins layered at the bottom are the kind of candy that takes me back to childhood! Using the simple 5 oz Clear Plastic Cups  and then of course topping them off with Mini Marshmallows This treat is naturally gluten free which is always a plus in our house!

Ok… Brace yourself for this next product!

2. Edible Gold Spray

Wilton has an edible Gold Color Mist Spray that can be used to turn your favorite treats into GOLD! So if you need to eat gluten-free cookies in replace of Oreoes, order  Kinnikinnick’s Chocolate Cookies and make your own gold coins for your little cuties! Genius.

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I have already ordered 3 of these. My students will be getting gold treats, my sitter’s kids will be… my nieces and nephews will be… perhaps even my parents will!

3. Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treats

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With the recent change in Lucky Charms as they transitioned to a Gluten Free product, I have secretly been reliving my childhood in the mornings. It’s still amazing to me how easy it is to access so many gluten free products these days. But with this being a fairly recent change, it’s important to make sure the packaging displays the Gluten Free Emblem

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Some stores are still finishing up selling older packages that are not certified gluten free. So shop cautiously.

I really like the recipe for Lucky Charms Treats I found on Brown Eyed Baker  She has a good balance of ooey-gooey in her treats! The girls and I kicked off the month with a batch of these already!

And if all else fails, just buy a big old bag of the Marshmallows! That’s all my girls want to eat anyways!

3. Shamrock Pretzels

The next big ticket treat that seems to be blowing up online is the Shamrock Pretzel! These are so cute and only require two ingredients:

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I prefer Gratify Gluten Free Pretzel products. I also like Glutino Gluten Free Pretzels and I know Snyder offers a Variety Pack along iwith individual purchases.

You can find a great Step-by-Step instructional article on The Spruce.

Again, I cannot stress how much I LOVE my Amazon Pantry boxes. My girls are great shoppers, but lets be realistic. What mother ACTUALLY enjoys taking a one and three year old to the store with her? No one. I feel like shopping at a store without my kids is almost like a mini vacation.

4. Fruity Rainbows

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This treat is a unique presentation for a party! You could easily adapt this to make cute little plates for your sweeties at lunch or breakfast, but I just love the fruit with a little chocolate treat at the end! My girls looooove when I sneak in a little chocolate treat to their meals. And what is better than a gold wrapped Rolo candy?! It screams Pot-o-Gold!

5. St. Patrick’s Day Muddy Buddies Treat

Who doesn’t love the good old fashioned Puppy Chow snack? When I think about Puppy Chow, I go back to my mom’s great friend and neighbor popping in to our house infrequently with random treats and baked goods she would come up with. She was Pinterest before there was Pinterest! This was one of my particularly favorite surprises she would bring over as a child. Oh Pammy, I’m drooling over your puppy chow as I type!

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This festive little twist on a classic snack follow very similar instructions to the original Puppy Chow snack mix using Gluten Free Rice Chex but adds in a couple slight alterations. Try it out following Glue Sticks and Gumdrops recipe.

I hope these 5 little festive treats help to ring in the St. Paddy’s day mood. After all… it is Fat Tuesday! Sneak one treat in today before starting your Lenten sacrifices off tomorrow!

Cheers to a very Green March!

  • Whitney

Career Shift : Now What?

As I drove to work this morning, I went through my typical morning wake-up ritual. I turned the music up excessively loud as I drove away from my sitter’s house where my sweet little ladies were nestled back to sleep. 6:05 am and my current guilty pleasure jam comes blaring through my speakers, “Bad Things” by Machine Gun Kelly (don’t judge… who can really be held accountable for their decisions at 6 am?). Good music means a good day in my mental wake-up call.

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As I am turning down the hill that will lead me out of the small town I call home, I begin to notice things. Small things. I notice how it’s already beginning to lighten outside and the faint hint of pink past the railroad tracks seems to just line the trees ever so slightly. I notice how quickly my drive seems to pass before me. Suddenly I am in the outskirts of my town where my husband and I started out together, with only a few cents to rub together. He was working away all of the time, and I was double dipping between substitute teaching and full time graduate school (round one). In a flash I am taken back to my first day driving to work, nervous, feeling like 6:15 am was so crazy early to be leaving my house. I can feel the butterflies all over as if I’ve never taught there before. I can remember the first student who walked through my door on the first student day realizing I only had one student in my first period study hall. The nerves that had gripped me melting away.

And just like that I am pulled from that memory as the radio personalities are discussing Random Acts of Kindness and I am back here, in the present thinking about the service project I have had brewing in the back of my mind for my students. Realizing “down the road” no longer means in my classroom, with my students, in my comfort zone, the harsh reality hits me across the face. I am leaving. I will be leaving my classroom. I will no longer make this drive, follow this route, use this routine, none of it will exist in my life in a matter of weeks.

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By this point I am turning into Amish country and the sun is casting a rosy glow across the fields accented by sharp black tree silhouettes. These mornings are so peaceful and offer a solid 45 minute wake up call to my mind as I begin to scan through my mental to-to list for the day. What will I do to organize my thoughts when I no longer drive to work each day? How will my routine shift?

This is top on my list of to-dos. I must determine what this new position in my life will look like. Perhaps it will involve that ever annoying task of incorporating fitness back in to my life. Somehow I know that is not going to be part of my new routine but entertain the idea for the hell of it.

I know that making breakfast for my family each day is top on my bucket list of new morning rituals. Perhaps waking up an hour before everyone else, setting up my “classroom” and preparing breakfast can replace my morning therapeutic drive? Who knows, maybe I will sleep soundly until the first little lady awake pulls me from my bed.

What I do know is that I am in charge. I control where life takes me next and I’m more than ready to make this shift, personally, professionally, and proactively.

Cheers!

  • Whitney