Jul 28, 2014

Summer Bucket List Update

At the beginning of the summer I made a Summer Bucket List hoping that we would make many memories this summer without feeling the need to over schedule ourselves. There is nothing worse than realizing that school is going to start soon and you still haven't done any of the activities that you wanted to do during the summer.

Here was my Summer Bucket List.

With exactly 4 weeks of summer left, we have crossed off 17 items off our bucket list. Even if some of those activities were complete and utter fails, we did them. Well tried to do them anyway.

Summer Wins

Nature Trail Hike-no ticks this year!

I love Regal's Dollar Movie Days!

Pig Fest - The kids loved the pork pizza!

Molly caught the most fireflies in her jar

You didn't have a childhood if you never played in the sprinklers.

Beach day - it started rainy but it was a great day!

Love these sweeties!

Hands down the best part of our beach day was getting to eat at Cappriotti's. If you are in Wilmington, NC you have to go eat there! We had Cappriotti's in Las Vegas and I miss it. Their pastrami and turkey sandwiches are worth the 2 hour drive even if you're not going to the beach. My husband and I were extremely happy to have these delicious sandwiches at the end of our beach day. We're heading back to the beach in 2 weeks and I'm already dreaming of the pastrami. 

Summer Fails

Planting herbs was a disaster of epic proportions. It's clear to me that I am not designed to grow anything. I couldn't even get basil and rosemary to grow from seeds. It's very clear to me that if aliens exist and decide to attack I will starve to death once society breaks down.

Swim Lessons for Mark
The girls are doing amazing in swim lessons and Molly is completely fearless. She jumps off the side of the pool and swims independently to the side. Pretty impressive for a kid who wouldn't even put her head in the water last year. But Mark is terrified of the water and he has made no progress this year. I've decided to forgo lessons and teach him myself at a slower pace. I did teach swim lessons as a teenager and spent years on swim team so I can handle it.

Movie in the Park didn't happen. One week we were planning to go it was rained out. The next time we attempted it the kids were behaving terribly and I didn't want to reward their behavior so we skipped it. It's ok we've done many movies in the park in the past and I'm sure we will attend many in the future.

How are you doing with your summer bucket list?

Jul 23, 2014

Grilled Stuffed Peppers

Do you ever get sick or cooking or find yourself in a cooking rut that you cannot seem to find your way out? That was me for the whole month of June. It was difficult getting dinner on the table and cooking became a chore instead of something that I loved to do.

Something had to change right?

I decided to go a whole week without cooking, instead I was going to have my husband grill our dinner. The first week went so well that I decided to go for a second week. Halfway through the second week I went ahead and said this was our new month long challenge. My husband was actually very excited to do all the cooking since he loves manning the grill.

I've been very happy not cooking dinner and finding new grilling recipes. One problem with grilling all month is finding vegetarian recipes. I like to cook vegetarian a few times a week, and I wasn't about to give that up for the challenge. I went through my existing vegetarian recipes to see what I could modify for the grill. The first recipe I redid for the grill was my Zucchini Pasta. It was a huge hit with the family!

I make Southwestern Studded Bell Peppers in the Crock Pot that I love. I was sure I could make them on the grill with a few tweaks. I changed out a few of the ingredients so they would taste different and also because I was out of black beans. Necessity is the greatest form of invention right?

Full disclosure - I didn't  make these for my kids. They were having a crabby afternoon and I wanted to have a peaceful dinner so we ate after they went to sleep. But experience tells me that 2 out of 3 kids would have approved of this dinner.

This was a quick and easy meal to pull together. It was a little zippy but light which makes it a perfect summer meal. Your grilling time may vary depending on the heat of your grill.

Grilled Stuffed Peppers
serves 5

5 small green bell peppers
1 cup uncooked rice
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup shredded cheese - your choice I like jack
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup salsa
1 can chili beans
1 t cumin
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t salt

1. Cook the rice according to package directions. I used a rice cooker so I don't count this step as cooking.
2. Wash and dry the bell peppers. Slice the bell peppers in half from the top to bottom. Carefully remove the seeds and membranes.

3. After the rice is cooked preheat the grill to medium/high heat. You need indirect heat so turn on the outside burners and leave the inside burners off.
4. Pour the rice into a large bowl. Add beans, onions, salsa, seasonings, corn, and 1/2 cup of cheese. Mix thoroughly.
5. Scoop the rice mixture into each bell pepper, filling to the top.

6. Grill for 10 minutes on indirect heat.
7. Top the peppers with the remaining cheese and cook for an additional 4 minutes.

8. Remove from grill and enjoy!

Jul 16, 2014

Teaching My Daughter to Be Brave

What image comes to your mind when you hear the word brave? Do you picture a solider going into battle? Perhaps a fireman rushing into a burning building? Do you picture a person who looks ordinary in every way?

Probably not.

Typically we view bravery only as big acts of courage, but that is not the only way people are brave. The idea of being brave is something that my husband and I are trying to teach our kids. My oldest daughter Isabella is struggling with the idea that she can be brave. She sees bravery as someone who isn't afraid and she's pretty convinced that only grown ups can be brave. I need her to learn that she can be brave.

Here are some of the ways I'm teaching my daughter to be brave.

I tell my daughter that the bravest thing a person can do is be their authentic self. I'm urging her to be the person she was created to be instead of acting like someone else. I'm starting this conversation young hoping if she always hears it, she will believe it once peer pressure begins.

Honestly, being her authentic self is my main focus on our bravery talks. My husband describes her as endearingly quirky. I love that description! She is her own little person and I love it. I love that she dresses in a way that makes her happy instead of what is in style. I love that she has a vivid imagination and plays make believe games. I hope she never changes. 

 I tell my daughter that being brave isn't the absence of fear. It's trying new things even if you're afraid. For example my kids went to VBS where my twins knew some of the kids, but Isabella did not. She didn't want to go since she didn't know anyone. So we talked about being brave and how she can make friends before the week began. When we walked in, I could see that she was nervous but she went right in and sat down with her group. She made a friend that first day and she is having a great time.

I give my daughter examples of when I have been brave. I want her to know that I struggle with bravery and that it's OK. Being brave is a struggle at any age. I want her to know that it's hard for me too and learn how I handled the situation.

My hope for my children is that they will grow up with more confidence than I had. I want them to be brave enough to be their authentic self. I know that my husband and I have to lead by example on bravery and that this conversation will continue as they gets older.

What are some of the ways that you are teaching your children to be brave?

Jul 14, 2014

Surpahs Digital Bathroom Scale Review

Ignore the number on the scale is common advice given to anyone who is trying to lose weight or get fit. Why? Your weight is not the only indicator that your diet or fitness routine is successful. There are other factors that you should use to track your progress' like body fat percentage. Which is why you need a scale that gives you more information than just your weight. I was sent the Surpahs Sense-ON Multifunction Digital Bathroom Scale to review. All opinions are mine and no further compensation was provided. 

I keep my scale out on the bathroom floor. I want something that looks nice and does not take up too much room. I like the sleek design of the Surpahs scale, and that it's thin. Surpahs advertises that the scale not only measures weight but also body fat, percent water, percent muscle and muscle weight. I wasn't sure how a scale could measure these things. After the scale arrived, I learned that it uses bio-electrical impedance analysis to identify the various components of your body and calculates the percentage of each one.  

The scale is really easy to set up for each user and very easy to use. I planned on only setting it up for my husband and I, but my kids wanted their own profile. Thankfully the scale can hold up to 8 profiles. I don't know why but they love seeing their body water level. After a few times getting on the scale they knew how to get to their profile and see their levels.

Of course the most important aspect of a scale is if it's accurate. I knew right away that the weight was accurate since I recently weighed myself at the doctor's office. I had a personal trainer measure my body fat index and learned that the scale and what the trainer told me was almost identical. It's safe to say that this scale is accurate. 

You can learn more about the Surpahs Sense-ON Multifunction Digital Bathroom Scale on their website www.surpahs.com. To stay up to date on new products and promotions follow them on social media. 

Disclaimer - I received product in exchange for this review. No further compensation was provided and all opinions are mine. 

Jul 10, 2014

Grilled Zucchini Pasta Recipe

I love zucchini! I know you can buy it all year long, but there is something about zucchini that screams summer to me, especially grilled zucchini. Now one of my favorite recipes is my Spaghetti with Roasted Zucchini. It's simple, delicious, light, quick, and cheap to make.

You have to love that right?

But using the oven heats up my house which is miserable in the summer! My husband requested the zucchini pasta a few times this summer and I kept saying no since I didn't want to heat up the house. This week I got the brilliant idea that I should grill or use my Crock Pot for every meal. Trying to think up vegetarian options for the grill is hard for me. Finally it dawned on me that I should revamp my Spaghetti with Roasted Zucchini for the grill.

It was a stroke of genius!

Grilled zucchini has a great flavor that you cannot get from the oven! Plus there was less work for me since my husband is the one who does the grilling in my house. This is a recipe that almost isn't a recipe since it's so simple.

Grilled Zucchini Pasta
Prep time 25 minutes
Serves 5

5 zucchini
2 thick slices of a whole onion
13 oz box of whole wheat spaghetti - or any pasta of your choice
olive oil about 1/2 cup
1 T granulated garlic
salt, pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese - optional


1. Preheat grill to medium heat for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile boil water for the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and 3/4 T of the granulated garlic. Depending on your pasta type you may need more olive oil.
3. While the grill is heating up, cut the tops off the zucchini and cut down the middle length wise.
4. Spray a coat of olive oil on the zucchini and season with salt, pepper, and garlic.

5. Once the grill is preheated, place the zucchini and onion slice on the grill and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side. Watch your zucchini closely since zucchini gets over down very quickly and cooking time depends on the heat of your grill.
6. Take your zucchini off the grill and slice into bite sized pieces. Top the pasta with the zucchini and serve with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Options - You can saute fresh garlic in the olive oil if you're not feeling too lazy. It's what I normally would do for this recipe but I didn't want another burner going in my kitchen.

Jul 3, 2014

Summer Hair Care with V05 Review and Giveaway

My hair has always taken a beating during the summer. I'm a natural blonde which means I spent many years of my childhood with green hair from the pool. I also have very oily, fine hair that gets tangled easily. Between the sun, pool, beach, and the wind my hair needs some serious repair work. I was sent a sample of V05 products to try this summer in exchange for this review. All opinions are mine and no further compensation was provided.

It's fun getting new products to try in the mail, especially in the summer when I'm trying to take better care of my hair. It was great seeing some products that I've used in the past as well as some new products. I use the standard V05 shampoo and conditioner on my kids' hair. I like that it's a little watery but gets a great lather going. My kids think they needs tons of shampoo to get the job done and the consistency of V05 makes them think I gave them more shampoo than they actually are using.

I always use hair care products that add volume. My baby fine hair needs all the help it can get. Normally full body products don't add any shine to your hair but the V05 Full Body + Shine contains coconut oil which added great shine to my hair. I didn't see a huge difference in volume from the other shampoo and conditioners that I have tried, but I did see a huge difference in shine and softness. The Full Body + Shine Shampoo formula has the same watery consistency as their other product lines. It also works up a great lather!

During the cooler months I don't use leave in conditioner often. In the summer I use leave in conditioner after every trip to the pool, beach, or lake. Have you ever tried brushing your hair after swimming all day only to find your hair a tangled mess? With just a few spritz of V05 Series Simply Stunning Leave-In Conditioner the brush goes right through your hair. While it's great for my hair, it's even better for my daughters' hair. Mostly because using the leave in conditioner means they are not crying while I brush their hair! Talk about a win!

I can't imagine how their hair gets so messy! 

I've actually used V05's Hot Oil Treatment since I was a teenager. I haven't used it in years though. It brought back memories doing my first hair treatment. I gave my daughters a treatment at the same time as part of a little spa day. We refer to my youngest daughter's hair as a lion mane. She has long, thick, hair that makes me just a little jealous. After her hot oil treatment her hair looked amazing! I was shocked at the difference just one treatment made on her hair. I'm going to add this to her hair routine.

Here is a little information about V05 Products. You can learn more on V05's website.

VO5’s Hot Oil Treatment - A hair care staple, it moisturizes and conditions hair from roots to ends, helping to restore shine, strength and silky softness. 

VO5 Salon Series Full Body + Shine Shampoo and Conditioner with coconut oil and conditioning agents weightlessly coats and plumps each hair strand, delivering a visible boost from roots to ends.

VO5 Salon Series Simply Stunning Leave-In Conditioner is a daily secret weapon, helping protect hair from heat and strengthen against split ends and breakage.

Alberto VO5’s NEW! Essentials Body Wash moisturizes your skin with the legendary VO5 5 Essential Vitamins formula.

Want to win a collection of V05 products? One lucky reader will win the same products I reviewed. Enter on the Rafflecopter form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jun 29, 2014

American Flag Layer Dip

Sometimes when I don't feel like cooking, I make dip for dinner. I love a good dip and I'm constantly looking for new recipes. One of my favorites is my 5 layer dip recipe. It's delicious and brings back memories of my childhood. Unfortunately the original recipe has too many processed ingredients for my taste these days. Clearly a do over was in order. With Fourth of July coming up I wanted to make something festive.

This American Flag dip is a little time consuming, but it is totally worth the effort. Even though I was trying to mimic the taste of my 5 layer dip, it taste completely different. Now some people would see that as a failure, but it was delicious so I'm scoring this as a win. The homemade bean dip is the game changer! It's a little zippy and adds so much flavor! I can honestly say I'll never buy the canned bean dip ever again.

There are 3 components of this recipe that you need to make, the bean dip, guacamole, and sour cream mixture. You can make the bean dip and sour cream mixture ahead of time and refrigerate until you're ready to assemble the rest of the dip.

Bean Dip Recipe
In a food processor, combine the following ingredients and pule until smooth.

2 15 ounce cans of cannellini beans
2/3 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 juice of lemon or lime (Personally I like a combo)
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1/2 t cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Guacamole Recipe
4 small avocados
1/4 small onion minced
juice from 1/2 lime
2 T fresh cilantro chopped
1/2 jalapeno minced - optional
1 Roma tomato chopped
salt, and garlic powder to taste

Mash the avocados and add onion, cilantro, lime juice, tomato, garlic powder, salt, jalapeno and mix. I like mine chunky but you can make it smooth if that is your preference.

Sour Cream Mixture
16 oz sour cream
1 T chili powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t onion powder
1/4 t cayenne powder
1/2 t paprika
1 1/2 t cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Stir all the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. I used about a 1 t of salt and 1/2 t pepper. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the sour cream mixture in another bowl. With the reserved sour cream add several drop of blue food coloring. You want to get it dark blue to resemble the blue in the American flag.

Additional Ingredients Needed

4 Roma tomatoes - finely chopped
8 oz jack cheese - shredded
1 slice onion chopped

Assembling the dip. 

1. In a 9' X 13' pan spread the bean dip mixture in the bottom. Smooth and even out the layer as much as possible.

2. Top the bean dip with the guacamole. Smooth and even out the layer as much as possible.

3. Top the guacamole with the sour cream mixture leaving the top left hand corner square empty. Use the blue sour cream to form a square.

4. Top the white sour cream with the grated jack cheese.
5. Make 7 stripes with finely chopped tomatoes. The red stripes are at the top and the bottom of the flag.
6. Make the stars with chopped onions.
7. Refrigerate for at least an hour up to 4 hours before serving. If you're pressed for time, refrigerate the dip between the layers to speed things along.

This dip will be a hit at your 4th of July party this year! You can easily make this as a layered dip instead of a flag the rest of the year.

Do you like making festive food for holidays?
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