Friday, September 12, 2014

dress code alternatives.

When we moved to the South, the girls were less than thrilled to find out their new elementary school wore "dress code".  Luckily dress code isn't as strict as full blown uniform, but they still feel like it is cramping their creative style. I promised them I would search high and low for things that felt a little more them and a little less dress code. They have been quite pleased with the result. If you're in a similar situation here are some items my girls are loving this school year.

best friends collar tee from Matilda Jane

Peter Pan Collar Zipper Dress from JCrew Factory

Tabitha Top from Mini Boden

cord  skirt from JCrew Factory

bow skirt from JCrew Factory

The white converse have been one of my favorite additions this fall. The girls wear them with skirts and shorts and they look cute with everything.

The girls don't know these are coming (I'm saving them for Christmas), but I think they will love this fun and bright addition to their rainy season line-up... and they are a great price!

With Finn starting kindergarten, I was very nervous about the dress code. He is a boy through and through and does not like wearing "church clothes" as he has dubbed the dress code. I found him some things that have worked and we've had very little complaining.

The Volcom shorts are my very favorite. I love the way they fit, he had gray ones from long before dress code was on our radar so he feels like they are just "normal" shorts. These look a little more skater than your typical Old Navy/Gap chino short.

With Finn being a t-shirt kind of kid, I knew the standard polo was going to be a struggle. At the anniversary sale I found this one quicksilver polo. Luckily it feels just like a t-shirt. Upon a little research I was able to find three more colors that work for our school on and amazon. He wears them with no complaint (and they look good!). Success.

Quicksilver 'Core" Polo from Nordstrom

These Volcom polos also have a similar t-shirt type feel.

We added these two shoes to Finn's collection this fall.

He looks pretty sharp every day as he heads out the door and I can't help but feel like we are making progress towards happy kids in dress code.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

4th of July Round-up

With Memorial Day just around the corner, I've started my patriotic round-up (from around the web) in anticipation of the 4th of July. It's one of my very favorite holidays. Here's what I'm loving so far.

Decor for the bike parade. 

DIY Mantel Decor
seen: eighteen25

For the potluck

The Drinks (but really this whole party is pretty darn patriotic)
seen: HWTM blog

Firecracker Sugar Cookies, your kids will love the surprise POP!
seen: momdot

Take home favor, or a fun way to end your party

And because I like my kiddos to coordinate, here's what I have my eye on for now...

For the Tween

For the girl

For the Boy

For the Toddler

Of course, we'll need cardigans, red Capris or shorts, accessories, hair ribbons and more to compete the final look, but I think this is a pretty fantastic start.

monster cookies.

I remember loving coming home to fresh baked monster cookies when I was a little girl, as we got older and my mom became increasingly busier she stopped making these little gems, and it was sort of an out of site out of mind type thing, until recently. Right before we left Denver, one of my friends started making these monster cookies. They have quickly become our all time favorite cookie. Not only are they soft, chewy and delicious, the dough freezes amazingly well. So well that we have to foodsaver package them to keep from eating the dough balls straight out of the freezer. They are THAT good.

Try cooking up a batch of your own, I promise you won't be disappointed...

Monster Cookies
1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats (blended into flour)
2 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups plain M&M's (or chocolate chips)

Cream together the butter and sugars. Beat in eggs, peanut butter and vanilla. Add oat flour, and oats. Once combined add in M&M's. Scoop onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

*These can be "gluten free" if you buy your oats from a specialty store that doesn't process the oats in a facility with other gluten products.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

strawberry shortcake.

In my opinion, Strawberry Shortcake sometimes misses the mark. You either have overly sweet pound cake that competes with the berries, or you have dry and somewhat bland biscuits, that do little to compliment your strawberries. Some time ago I lived near a friend who was from Ireland. One night she had some ladies over to teach us a thing or two about Irish cooking. That night she made us Irish Scones with jam and clotted cream. They were Amazing. 

My daughters favorite dessert is Strawberry Shortcake. She does not like chocolate (crazy, right?) So each year for her birthday I try a new form of pound cake or biscuit. This year for some reason, the light when on and I remembered Shelagh's Irish Scones and an idea was born.

I would make the delicate, slightly sweet, melt in your mouth Irish Scones for the base of the Strawberry Shortcake. This my friends, was a WINNER! You should really head out, right now, for some Irish Butter and get to whipping up these bad boys, you won't be sorry.

Before giving you the scone recipe, my favorite way to prepare the berries is to crush some of them with a potato masher, to break them down, but still leave them chunky, the other half I blend with sugar to make a liquid. Combine the two and allow to sit for some time. I always use real whip cream with a little powdered sugar and vanilla to top the shortcakes.

Shelagh's Irish Scones

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 pinch of salt
1/4 cup Kerry Gold Irish Butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 - 3/4 cup milk (just enough to bind)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a baking sheet. Sift flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Rub in the butter (cold not soft) until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar and enough milk to mix to a soft dough.

Turn onto floured surface, knead lightly and roll out to 3/4 inch thickness. Cut into 2 inch rounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with milk to glaze. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes until lightly golden (be careful not to over cook, but sides of scone should be firm) then cool on wire wrack.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

chickpea chocolate chip cookies.

I recently started following Lauren Brimley on instagram (Eating_Whole). I'd definitely recommend following her. She's a young mom with one baby who has committed to feeding herself healthy and clean foods. Her pictures are incredible and make healthy eating look delicious (not the easiest, in my opinion). 

With four kids and a husband, I don't think we will be eating 100% clean and/or whole any time soon, but I have started trying to include more of this type of eating into our meal plan. Baby steps :) I'm shooting for an 80/20 ratio in the long run, with the 80 being clean/healthy.

I've seen a few versions of these cookies floating around the internet and pinterest. I have alway been intrigued and wondered if the people making them were just so far into eating clean that their palate had changed enough to "think" these tasted like a real cookie. 

Today I realized I had all the ingredients on hand and we decided to try them out as an "experiment".  If I'm being honest, as I dumped all the ingredients into the food processor I couldn't help laughing. There's not a snowballs chance these are going to be good. And then I tasted the dough, under my breath I may have mentioned there were not enough chocolate chips in all the world to save these bad boys, and then I turned to my two sweet helpers and said... "Let's hope the oven makes some magic" and that's really what I thought. 

The oven did in fact make some magic.. I'm not really sure how, but out of my oven came a dense, chewy and soft chocolate chip cookie. Not overly sweet but also not bean-y or cardboard-ish. My four kids ranging from 10 to 2, ate them and asked for seconds, and I won't mention how many I have put down.. they are healthy.. right? 

The moral of this story, while not your typical chocolate chip cookies, these are a pretty incredible substitute. We will definitely be making these again and again. Our experiment was deemed a success.

Without further ado, I give you Lauren's version of the 

Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookie...

1 1/4 cup rinsed chickpeas
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup unsweeted coconut
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup pure maple syrup OR honey (I did half and half)
1 tsp baking powder
dash of salt

Mix all ingredients together in a food processor until creamy like a cookie dough. Add 1/2 - 3/4 cup chocolate chips depending on how chocolatey you like your cookies. With damp hands form into cookie balls and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. 

Makes 12-15 cookies 

Let me know if you try them out and what you think. Also note, that I enjoyed these even while eating plenty of refined sugar on a nearly daily basis.. baby steps, remember :)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

ashley's shower.

My cute friend Ashley is pregnant with a little girl after 3 boys. While boys are wonderful, we were excited to throw her a shower with lots of pink and ruffles to celebrate! 

This was a fun little project. I ordered a light pink plastic tablecloth and cut it into strips. I gently pulled the edges to ruffle the strips. It was super fast, easy and I loved the results. Tutorial found here.

No little girl library would be complete without some Fancy Nancy books. We had this one on the front table for guests to sign. 

Small envelopes were also waiting for guests to provide wishes for baby.

Lots of fresh flowers scattered around. An easy way to make things feel festive.

The shower was at 7pm so we didn't want to do a full blown dinner. Instead we had a caramel apple bar, with apple chunks, warm caramel and toppings.

It was really pretty and delicious!

In addition to the carmel apple bar we had lots of mini bites and desserts. Including... hummus cups, blt bites, sweet pork sliders, queso, 7 layer bean dip, fruit skewers, mini pies, mini meltaway cookies, raspberry punch and water.

And we can't forget about this yummy chocolate bundt cake from the bundt shop.

The Mom-to-be. Doesn't she look great? We sure can't wait to meet this sweet baby girl.
And a big thank you to everyone who helped make this shower a success!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

balloon birthday!

Scarlet turned one! We celebrated with a Balloon Birthday Bash. 

When planning, I tried to think of something Scarlet loves, besides food and her blanket I wasn't coming up with much. Then I remembered that my mom had gotten her some balloons while we were at her house this summer and Scarlet loved them. An idea was born and with the help of pinterest (seriously.. what did we do in the days before pinterest?) a balloon birthday party was in order.

It started with an invitation downloaded from here and then tweaked in photoshop to be the colors I wanted.

The entry way table.

Candy and balloons.. what more could you want?

My sad attempt at the dream cake I wanted. I had a someone set and willing to do it, but we figured out that she was going to be out of town... and so I attempted it myself. I won't be quitting my day job anytime soon, but it worked. In a moment of desperation, I emailed my super talented cousin and after reading her long and detailed email with tips on how to make it out of fondant, I realized I didn't have the time to make the balloon a week ahead... and I improvised with... airheads. They worked okay and Scarlet will never know her cake wasn't a work of art.

The beginning stages of the dessert table. An idea also seen on pinterest.

 I've been wanting to have an italian soda bar at something I put together. Somehow it never ends up happening, so this was a perfect time to throw one together. It was a total hit with the kids and adults.

Pictures of Scarlet's first year in a lopsided #1 :)

 Lion House rolls with meat and cheese

 fruit, dip, veggies and chips to go along with the sandwiches. Not my finest menu, but it worked.

Ryan also made homemade ice cream. Cookies and Cream and it was delicious!

A slide show of Scarly bug and lots of balloons everywhere.

 I think this was my favorite part of the night. We don't have any family around, so I thought it would be fun to invite some of our friends that had babies around Scarlet's age. It was her birthday after all, why not invite her friends. We lined them up to take pictures with the balloons. It would have been far more entertaining in video form, but I still think they turned out really cute.

 I think Sam and Scarlet are making a love connection

Cute babies. I love these pictures!

We gave her a cupcake instead of cake.

She loved it.

Happy Birthday Scarlet! We sure do love you.

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