Thursday, April 26, 2018

Scarlett's Spring Photoshoot!

The weather has been glorious here lately in New England.  After school today, I decided to take advantage of the warm weather and get Scarlett outside for some spring pictures.  I'm lucky that she enjoys being in front of the camera.  Hope you enjoy the shots!












Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Make Breakfast Tasty With Instant Pot Egg Bites

For my birthday last year, my mom got me an Instant Pot as a birthday gift.  It was a fantastic gift and I've used it on a frequent basis ever since.

If you do own that fabulous pressure cooker, I have a great breakfast idea for you that's not only quick to make, but tasty too!

Instant Pot egg bites are essentially a mini version of an omelette in a fun and portable size. You can make these in advance for breakfast and they can be reheated in just seconds in the microwave.  Children and adults alike will look forward to these mini yummies paired with some fruit or yogurt.


What I love about these egg bites is that you can customize them to your taste or your family's taste.  Put in peppers, ham, onions, cheese, spinach, the possibilities are truly endless! I like to keep mine simple so I stick to cheddar cheese and bacon.

Making the egg bites takes virtually no time.  Pour a cup of water on the bottom of the pot and then set the trivet that the Instant Pot comes with on top.  You'll need a silicone baby food mold for this recipe.  Make sure you grease the mold well beforehand.  Beat four eggs in a mixing bowl with cheese and whatever other add-in's appeal to you.  Pour the egg mixture into each mold about 3/4 full.

Next, cover the top of the mold with tin foil and place it on the trivet.  Put the Instant Pot lid on and set the steam setting for 8 minutes.  Once the timer goes off, let it naturally release for 10 minutes.  Then release any remaining pressure and take the mold out.  Let the egg bites cool and then they should effortlessly slide out of the molds.

Everyone is always busy during the week and these yummies make a quick and easy breakfast that everyone can enjoy.


Monday, April 23, 2018

The Perfect Dessert for Mother's Day

With summer on the horizon, I have one thing on my brain and it's lemons! Lemon is the perfect flavor to beat the heat during the warmer months of the year.  Lemonade, lemon ices, lemon water, lemon iced tea, and of course lemon desserts are all just fabulous.  If you're looking for a light and airy and perfectly lemony treat for Mom's special day, I have just the recipe for you.



It's time to delight your belly with a Lemon Bar Cheesecake.  What more could you want out of life, right? It's easy to make and Mom will absolutely love it, and I'm sure you will too.

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
2 egg yolks
1 to 2 tbsp ice-cold water
4 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups Quick and Easy Lemon curd, divided
Candied Lemon Slices (optional)

Steps:

1. Pulse first 3 ingredients in a food processor 3 to 4 times or just until blended.  Add butter, and pulse 5 or 6 times or util crumbly.  Whisk together egg yolks and 1 tbsp ice-cold water in a small bowl; add to butter mixture, and process until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.   Add up to 1 tbsp remaining ice-cold water, 1 tsp. at a time, if necessary.  Shape dough into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill 4 to 24 hours.  

2.  Roll dough into a 14-inch circle on a lightly floured surface.  Fit dough into a lightly greased 9-inch dark springform pan, gently pressing on bottom and up sides of pan; trim and discards excess dough.  Chill 30 minutes. 

3. Preheat oven to 325F.  Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer 3 minutes or until smooth.  Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until blended.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition.  Beat in vanilla. 

4.  Pour 2/3 of cheesecake battery (about 4 cups) into prepared crust; dollop 1 cup lemon curd over batter in pan and gently swirl with a knife.  Spoon the remaining batter into pan.  

5. Bake at 325F for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or just until center is set.  Turn oven off and let cheesecake stand in oven with door closed for 15 minutes.  Remove cheesecake from oven and gently run a knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen the sides from the pan.  (Do not remove sides of pan). Cool completely in a pan on a wire rack for about 1 hour.  Cover and chill for 8 to 24 hours. 

Your family will absolutely love this recipe and ask you to make it time and time again. Who knows, it might just be your new go-to dessert for all holidays and occasions! 



*Recipe taken from MyRecipes.com*

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Just Because You're A Parent Doesn't Mean You Have to Lose Your Identity

My husband and I were together for 7 years before Scarlett was born.  We had seven years of it just being us, and sharing life and memories together.  There were no nighttime feedings or parenting woes and we had all the time in the world for each other.



When I became a mom back in 2014, it was both a scary and exciting time. Jay and I were responsible for taking care of an 8 pound 4 once pooping and eating machine.  As time went on, Scarlett got older and I was able to have a little bit more time for myself.  She would play on the carpet with toys while I watched.  Nowadays, she's too mobile and active to be left unsupervised for a long period of time.  

I think the hardest part of parenting thus far has been making sure that my identity as a person, not just a mom, hasn't gone away.  It's very easy to get swept up in motherhood and only live life for your children.  I try to make time for my hobbies when Scarlett goes to bed at night.  I don't have any friends who don't have children at this point, so our playdates and outings with the kids consist of talking about them and comparing stories.  People who don't have children don't understand what this life is like and cannot relate.  When I do meet up with my friends without the children, it's very nice to have adult conversation and get a break from the little ones.  

Motherhood is a busy, never-ending world of preparing meals, diaper changes, bottles, cleaning, laundry, sleepless nights, and homework checking.  There's nothing wrong with taking some time to yourself to do something that's important to you.  Whether you want to finish that book you keep putting down, knit a scarf, garden, or anything else that is meaningful to you, make sure you do it.  When you have "me" time, you'll feel better about yourself and in turn you'll be a better parent and person.  At night when Scarlett is sleeping I enjoy catching up on my favorite TV shows and relaxing with my husband.  I'm very tired at night from being with Scarlett one-on-one for 12 hours a day, and I'm desperate for adult conversation.

I try to have a date night with my husband once a month.  We go out to dinner or see a movie and just enjoy the time together.  We're never gone that many hours, but we appreciate the time to reconnect and have some time away from our child.  After all, we were together for so many years before Scarlett was born.  It's healthy and essential to remember why you're a couple and why you love each other.  It's inevitable that the children will come up in conversation, but try to savor the time with just your partner.

Don't lose yourself in motherhood.  There's plenty you can do to avoid this like doing an activity that you loved before having children.  Don't forget to ask yourself what you can do to make you happier at home or at work.  Some women enjoy volunteering to help benefit others.  Having just an hour or two of time for yourself everyday will make you a happy and satisfied person.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Plans For the Summer

It feels like it's been cold for a long time now and I'm looking forward to warmer weather.  Even though it's spring, we haven't had much warm weather lately.  We've had snow and cold temperatures for longer then necessary in my opinion.  As the temperatures heat up over the next few weeks, I'm ready for summer and everything it has to offer.



Scarlett's last day of school is in mid June.  This year of preschool flew by and her end of the year party is just in a few weeks! She'll be going to camp for about 10 days this summer and I know she'll be so thrilled.  In-between going to camp, we'll be taking her to a special kid's concert and also Grandma's for a month long visit.  I'm sure we'll be able to fit in a water park visit or something else fun along the way.  

Those are our major plans, but since the weather will be nice all summer I'm sure we'll have plenty of outdoor playdates and trips to the beach and pool too.  What are your summer plans? I'm ready to stop wearing a jacket everyday!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Children Will Have Fun Outside with Froggy's Fog Bubble Machine

Now that the temperatures are warming up, the weather is ideal for being outside.  During the warmer months of the year, Scarlett enjoys playing with sidewalk chalk, running through the sprinklers, and using her water table for starters.  I can't say that I'm going to miss the cold temperatures, I'm completely ready for shorts and sandals at this point!



Froggy's Fog is a company that provides special effect machines to Broadway shows, concerts and amusement parks.  You can now enjoy all of the benefits of those unique machines at home thanks to an at-home product called Fobbles.  Fobbles is a 4 in 1 home unit that not provides not only bubbles but fog, haze, and fog-filled bubbles.  The product takes family fun and party entertainment to the next level and can be enjoyed throughout the year.  Fobbles is lightweight, compact, easy to operate and affordable.  In addition, it delivers water-based, non-toxic fog, haze, bubbles, and fog-filled bubbles.

The machine would not only be ideal for summer fun for kids, but would be equally as great for Halloween fun with the fog and haze feature.  There's always a use for Froggy's Fog!


Even though it's been spring for a few weeks, the weather has not been spring-like at all.  We've had week after week of snow storms, and today is the warmest it's been so far at 71.  I decided to take advantage of the weather and fire up the bubble machine for Scarlett.

My tiny tot loves bubbles and always goes nuts for them when they are blown or produced through a bubble machine at a party.  I knew she'd freak out at the thought of having tons of bubbles at her disposal whenever!


The black unit is compact and doesn't take up much space.  It comes with a fan, instruction booklet, and two jugs of bubble and fog fluid.  The fan is to aide the bubbles in blowing upwards.  I don't know what it is about bubbles but they make children light up with joy instantly!

I had no issues setting up the machine, and as soon as I poured the bubble fluid into the bubble reservoir those round bubbles flowed out! Scarlett's eyes lit up like the fourth of July and she just couldn't stop laughing!

The bubbles were large and flowed freely through the air.  My girl had fun running after the bubbles and was entertained for quite some time.


The jug of bubble fluid is large and will last a long time since you only need to use a small amount to fill the reservoir.  Once you're done using the machine, it's easy to clean and store in the garage for future use.

I have not tried the fog or haze feature yet since I knew the bubble feature would take precedence.  Scarlett's friends will be so excited to see our newest toy in the backyard, I can't wait to see their reactions when they come over! Of course I'd like to use the haze and fog feature for Halloween when the trick or treater's come over too.

We spend a lot of time outdoors during the warmer months of the year and I can guarantee we'll have this machine fired up frequently throughout the summer.

If you're looking for a unique or untraditional birthday gift for a young child, Froggy's Fog bubble machine would make the perfect gift.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Froggy's Fog for providing a product sample in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Play Smart Work Books Are A Wonderful Educational Tool For Children

Since Scarlett started preschool in September 2016, she's learned far beyond the basics of colors, shapes, and numbers.  My tiny tot knows about the weather, plants and animals, and much more.  It's always interesting to see what's on the school's weekly agenda for the children to be taught.  Scarlett loves school and shocks me with what she knows that I had no clue about!

Play Smart Workbooks are time-tested and kid-approved in Japan, and now they're award-winners in the US!  The workbooks are geared for ages 2, 3, and 4 and offer children the chance to learn while having fun.  Older children can focus on vocabulary building, math, pre-reading skills, fine motor skills, decision making, and more.  Younger tots can benefit from problem solving skills, picture puzzles, and color and shape pictures just to name a few.

Whether your child is in preschool or not, these books are a wonderful resource to keep at home to reinforce what is taught at school.  Any of these titles would make ideal educational gifts for children for any occasion.  It's never too late or too early to learn!


Scarlett was sent five workbooks that all focused on different skill areas.  The workbook for ages 4+ featured mazes, connect the dots, drawing and coloring.  Three workbooks geared towards ages 3+ highlighted picture puzzles, matching games, art projects, drawing, cutting, counting games, and mazes! Lastly, one workbook for ages 2+ was included that was on a more simple level.

I was thrilled at everything she received because learning at an early age is important to my husband and I.  Scarlett was excited and ready to get started immediately.  Each workbook includes 80+ colorful stickers and a wipe-clean game board inside that coordinates with the stickers.


What I like about the workbooks is that the illustrations are colorful and really draw a child right in.  What child wouldn't be interested to use their creativity to color a butterfly's wings anyway they want to portray a pattern? The activities are interesting and not your everyday standard ones.  For example, using scissor skills to give a boy a haircut however they'd like.  I know Scarlett would really enjoy that!


Scarlett took to the books right away and was enthusiastic about drawing a line to the matching vehicles on the page, and using deductive reasoning to figure out which item was bigger or smaller.  I had to help her with some pages but she was thrilled when she was able to do some things herself.  She's very independent and loves when she's able to do things without help!

There's really an activity or game for any stage of learning whether you're learning ABC's, or ready to do matching games.  I like that the workbooks grow with your child and they won't tire of them easily.  I can easily see Scarlett having interest in these for some time to come.

If you're doing some summer traveling with your tots, these workbooks easily fit in a carry on or tote bag to be brought to any destination around the world.  An added plus is that these books allow parent and child to spend quality time together.  What could be better than learning while making memories?

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Play Smart Work Books for providing product samples in order to facilitate these posts.  All thoughts are strictly my own. 

Things To Do In El Paso


Things To Do In El Paso


El Paso, Texas is a city that often gets overshadowed by other Texas cities like Houston and San Antonio.  However, El Paso is actually a pretty remarkable city in its own right. From scenic mountains to historic landmarks (not to mention delicious Tex-Mex food!), El Paso is an incredible city.  After seeing how many fun and interesting things this city has to offer, you’ll be looking at homes for sale in El Paso in no time!  Here are a few of the best things to do in El Paso.

Museums

There is no shortage of museums in El Paso, which is just one of the many things that makes the city so interesting.  The El Paso Museum of History is a great place to see El Paso artifacts and learn more about El Paso’s history. The El Paso Museum of Archaeology focuses on the prehistory and culture of the city, and visitors can observe different artifacts from prehistoric times.  Another big draw is the El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center, which focuses on educating visitors and paying tribute to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust.  With so many different museums to choose from, you’re sure to find one that interests you.

Food

El Paso is famous for Tex-Mex, a style of cuisine that combines both Mexican and American food to create a unique dining experience.  There are countless Tex-Mex restaurants in El Paso, and it’s definitely one of the most popular types of food in the city. L&J Cafe, which has been around since 1927, serves amazing Mexican food and continues to be a favorite among both locals and tourists.  Kiki’s Restaurant & Bar boasts a menu full of delicious Tex-Mex food, and patrons love the restaurant’s cozy, laid-back feel. Whatever you’re in the mood for, El Paso restaurants have got you covered.

Outdoor Attractions

El Paso is one of the most scenic cities in Texas, so what better way to take in the beautiful landscapes than by taking a drive to Scenic Point?  Locals and tourists alike have been known to love the view from the overlook, especially during sunrise and sunset. Other popular sightseeing activities include the Wyler Aerial Tramway, the Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, and the Franklin Mountains State Park.  

Monday, April 9, 2018

Grill Lovers Unite!

As warmer temperatures are on the horizon, all I can think about is firing up the grill and having a BBQ!

Each summer, my husband loves to grill chicken, steak, shrimp and even fish on our Weber Grill for dinner.  He brushes on a mixture of herbs and spices which make everything taste delicious.  We pair the meal with watermelon and some yummy sides.  It's always fun to eat outside on the deck and enjoy the weather.  Scarlett is a big fan of BBQ's and I can't wait to have our first one of the season hopefully in a few weeks.



What are some of your favorite things to grill? Don't forget something sweet to round out the meal with! 


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Scarlett's A Mini Fashionista

You know how some children don't care what they wear no matter what it is? Yeah, I wish I knew what that was like!


Recently, Scarlett has a huge opinion on her clothes and it's been harder to get her dressed these days.  Heaven forbid that I offer her the wrong pair of pants or shirt, she will tell me it's ugly and cry! It's almost as ridiculous as it sounds, truly.  She seems to gravitate more towards shirts that have a ruffle on the bottom, or what she calls a "tutu." Not everything is available with a ruffle on it! 

This is a new challenge I'm struggling with and I hope it passes quickly.  At bedtime, I usually have Scarlett pick out her clothes for the following morning.  If she is unsure of what to choose, I give two options to make it easier.  Please note the keyword "easier", but in reality she sometimes doesn't like either choice!  If I force her to choose one, she ends up very upset and I don't feel that it's fair to make her wear something she really dislikes.  She finally will settle on something and by that point I feel like I survived a war.

I'm worried about the summer clothes I bought for her as she's already deemed a few things I've showed her unacceptable.  Wonderful! Last summer she wore whatever I dressed her in without a peep.  Can we go back to that time?

Anybody else have fashion struggles with their children?

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Best Snacks for Traveling With A Toddler

If you have children, you are well aware of meltdowns and tantrums caused by hunger. Children need to snack constantly to refuel as they burn a lot of energy.  No parent wants to be in the crosshairs of a toddler meltdown stemming from lack of food.



Scarlett has done her fair share of traveling in her 3 years of life whether it's on the plane to Grandma's, or long car trips to visit relatives.  It's essential to always have snacks to not only calm her down and keep her happy, but to keep her full in-between meals.  For my baby shower, I received small multi-colored containers for kids that come in different sizes that are perfect for snacking on-the-go.  They get a lot of use and are ideal for throwing in a diaper bag or tote bag.  

1. Crackers

Crackers are truly a godsend.  No matter if they are wheat or cheese flavored, they are always happily accepted and devoured by my child.  Scarlett's favorites are Cheez-It's, Ritz's Mini Peanut Butter Crackers, and Wheat Thins. 

Dried fruit:

Scarlett can eat her weight in fruit if given the opportunity! Her love of grapes, blueberries, and apples knows no bounds.  Some dried fruit packs a ton of sugar so I like to limit it when possible.  I usually only give dried fruit when we're traveling since it's a treat.  Scarlett is partial to banana chips and apple rings.  Raisins and yogurt raisins are also big hits in my household too.  You can even do fruit bars or granola bars with fruit as well. 

Packing perishable snacks: 

I don't have much experience with traveling with perishable items, but I do pack Scarlett's lunch for school with an ice pack.  If you are traveling with a cooler, how about considering cheese sticks and yogurt tubes? As long as they stay properly chilled, your little one will be happy.

Pouches:

When Scarlett was younger, she used to eat the fruit and veggie pouches daily.  While she doesn't eat them anymore, she does enjoy the applesauce pouches.  These pouches are amazing and are far less messy than eating a cup of applesauce with a spoon.  I've seen different brands make them and they come unflavored and flavored.  Scarlett loves the berry applesauce and would eat the entire box in one day if given the opportunity.

Chips:

While I don't generally let Scarlett snack on regular potato chips, she does love veggie chips and Pirate's Booty.  These snacks are not only delicious but are half the fat and calories of normal potato chips.  While she's happily chomping away, I'm happy that it's a win-win snack for both mom and toddler.

I hope this list has given you some insight as to what to pack for your toddler for an upcoming trip.  Happy travels!