Curls and Pearls

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Words Taste Good



I am guilty of passing judgement on parents before having children of my own.

As an adult woman with no children in my early twenties it was easy to look at my peers and have thoughts like...

"Does she seriously only feed her kid chicken nuggets?"

"I swear I will never let my children sleep with me, they need their own bed. Better get them out now before it's too late."

"If she wears that baby around all the time it's going to be spoiled and needy."

"Those parents need to get a grip on their kid screaming in the isle at Publix, they need a good spanking."

Yes, I thought these thoughts and more. I probably spoke them out loud to my husband and we most likely discussed why what we thought was right.

You know what? We are eating our words. And I'm so glad we are.

It's amazing how your life changes after you have a child. Your world is literally shaken, turned upside down, and you are left to figure out how to make it work with a million new variables.

Sometimes I feed my kid McDonalds because she is a toddler and she won't eat ANYTHING, most days (subject to change every thirty seconds). Processed mystery meat seems better than starvation. Especially when you know if they go to bed on an empty stomach you will surely be up all night long with them.



Mini d sleeps in the bed with us. She started out in a bassinet and was good for a solid 6 months. Once we had to un-swaddle her and put her in the crib she wasn't having it. We had to wake her up in the middle of the night to feed her and give her medicine until she was one. Between night-time feedings and having to be up before dawn to get ready for work, we were zombies. She HAD to get in the bed with us. We weren't being lazy, we were being good parents. We couldn't be the parents we needed to be on zero sleep. And for that matter, we love our bedtime and morning snuggles. Working full time means we get very limited time with mini d during the week. We take our snuggles and loves where we can get them.

But what about Mommy and Daddy time you ask? Oh, you will make it work. Trust me. Wink ,Wink

And who the heck knew wearing a baby would actually make them more independent? Study after study has shown the benefits of baby wearing. I can 100% vouch for the fact that baby wearing makes an independent child. It also makes for increased Mommy production and sanity. Having two hands and a peaceful child will save your life.



Another thing I've learned? You have to discipline your children. They crave it. Sometimes though discipline comes in unconventional forms. It's not always spanking. Sometimes it's giving a warning and taking something away as a consequence or just saying a firm no. And sometimes that causes a complete and utter meltdown in the middle of isle 4 in Publix. Yes, everyone will stare at you like you just committed a crime. With a toddler you can't wait until you get back to the car, they forget so quickly. You have to handle the situation in the moment.

Oh and those other times they are having a complete meltdown for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON.

All of that being said, I'm so glad we are eating our words. It means we are doing this parenting thing right, I hope. It also taught me a very valuable lesson on passing judgement or coming to my own conclusion before walking in the shoes of the person.

All you Mommy's on isle 4, I get you. And I'm silently saying a little prayer for you, and your sanity. I've been there. I am there.

Disclaimer: Each and every child is different. We all parent differently. This is our life and our perspective.



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Recipe Alert: Oven Baked Tacos


We are a taco lovin' family, and I'm always looking for new and different ways to cook them. This recipe was born out of innovation. I was trying to cook enchiladas when I realized I bought HOT enchilada sauce instead of mild. I decided to sub the taco sauce from the box in for the enchilada sauce and just like that our oven baked tacos were born. 

What do you need?

Soft Taco Kit 
- Old El Paso is my favorite because for some reason their tortillas are way better than any other kit we have tried. That being said, I usually just buy the kits that are BOGO so we got lucky last night with this one.

2 Cups Shredded Cheese 
- I had two bits and pieces of bags. One was sharp cheddar and the other was Mexican. It really doesn't matter either way. I was just using up what we had leftover.

1 lb Ground Meat (beef, turkey, deer - your choice)

Sour Cream - Optional

How do you make it?

Preheat oven to 350.

Brown meat on stove and drain. Mix in taco seasoning and water as directed on the box. Heat on the stove until the meat is seasoned. 

Place a strip of meat on a flour tortilla and roll up, placing in a casserole dish as you go. Do this until you run out of meat or tortillas. Usually I will run out of meat first.

Cover with taco sauce from kit. Cover with shredded cheese.

Bake until the cheese bubbles. Usually about 8 minutes for us.

Serve with sour cream on the side, optional.

You can also add re-fried beans to your tacos to dress it up a bit. 

Lettuce, Tomato, and Salsa are good toppers to add too. 



PS: Purchase a can of enchilada sauce and use instead of the taco sauce. Now you have enchiladas! It's two recipes in one.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Meal Plan Monday


SERIOUSLY?! Who is stealing my weekends. Why is it already Monday again? 

We had a super busy weekend between our nephew's third birthday party {check out our cutie racing at the Car's themed party, my sister-in-law is so crafty} and prepping for mini d's birthday party next weekend! We cleaned house, cut grass, stained columns, planted plants, and pressure washed the house. Whew! And we still aren't finished yet!



But let's get down to business, what are we eating for dinner this week?

Sunday:

Home Fried Chicken Strips

Fried = Glorious

Chicken purchased in bulk from Sam's and frozen in our deep freezer. Unthawed in the sink. Farmhouse style.

Cut in to strips and tossed in buttermilk. 

I usually don't have buttermilk so I just improvise with milk and lemon juice. This weekend I purchased buttermilk to use in a homemade waffle recipe that I found on Pinterest. Daddy d bought me a waffle maker for my birthday, he knows breakfast is my favorite. Well, the waffles were a disaster, but at least now we had some buttermilk to use!


They looked prettyish, but they didn't taste pretty. Promise.


FYI: 1 tablespoon lemon juice to 1 cup milk = buttermilk

Sorry, got off track. Next, toss in a mixture of flour, pepper, and seasoned salt. Similar to how I fried those veggies {here} remember?!

Creamed Corn - From the garden!


{Pre-Creaming}


Peas - From our garden/freezer stash

Bring to a boil, add a little water. Add salt, a little sugar, and bacon. Cook until the peas are no longer crunchy. Make sure you are tasting your {pea soup} along the way to ensure you don't over-salt or sugar. It's better to under-salt and let everyone add their own, personal preference.

Monday:

Baked Taco's - Click the link for the recipe!

Tuesday:

It's board meeting night! The fourth Tuesday of every month I have a board meeting. SO Daddy d will be in charge of dinner, or my mother-in-law. I bet you can guess which one, what can I say, she spoils us!

Wednesday:

Gymnastics night! Are we predicable or what?! You know we are planning to have Zaxby's. And you know what, I have no desire to have any other sort of fast-food for our Wednesday night on-the-go ritual. I LOOOOOOVE Zaxby's sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it, and I JUST had lunch!   

Thursday:

Sloppy Joe's

Brown your hamburger meat, drain, and stir in a can of sloppy joe mix. Serve on buns. Ta da! 

Baked Tater Tots

You know I'm all about quick and easy, but I also am baking cupcakes on Thursday to take to mini d's daycare on Friday so I needed REALLY quick and easy.

Friday

Supporting our FAVE local spot, Cutts

Saturday

This is mini d's birthday party day so dinner is up in the air! It will be a crazy busy day so who knows. Don't worry, birthday party details to come!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Recipe Alert: Italian Cheese Crusted Tilapia


This is seriously one of the easiest dinner recipes EVER. Shocker, it's also semi-healthy. I think.

I'm always kind of scared to cook fish, not sure why, but alas I am. Normally, Daddy d cooks the fish in our house. This recipe is so {fool proof} even I can cook it. Except that one time I caught the pan on fire. Yeah, that was last night.

Tip: When using the broiler don't rub the tin foil on the pan down with olive oil before cooking. Unless you want a magical fire show. Mini d thought it was pretty cool. Luckily I didn't burn my fish or myself or my house down.

Anyway, this is SO easy and SO fast!

What do you need? 

4 (or in our case 5) Tilapia Fillets (defrosted if frozen)
- We only had 5 pieces left in the bag so I cooked all 5.

1/3 cup Italian Cheese Blend

1/8 cup Butter

1 1/2 Tablespoon Mayo
-For a healthier option use plain greek yogurt. We use mayo.

1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

1/2 Teaspoon Dill

Pepper to taste

How do you make it?

Turn your broiler on high, making sure your top rack is on the highest setting.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except tilapia and set aside.


Place tilapia fillets on a foil lined pan.


Broil fillets for 3 minutes.

Remove from oven, flip over, and equally divide mixture over tilapia fillets.

Return to oven and broil for an additional 4 minutes.



And that's it! I served with a fresh salad and rice. Ok the salad may have been left over from earlier in the week, but it wasn't brown yet, win! We made our own ranch for the salad, of course we had ranch. The rice was the store brand boil in a bag rice. I just added a little butter, salt, and pepper to the rice. The entire meal took a max of 15 minutes to throw together. Easy peasy!



Thursday, July 23, 2015

Stitch Fix: My 1st Fix, A Review


It's here, it's here, it's FINALLY here! In all seriousness, it only took about a week from the time I scheduled my first fix until it arrived beautifully in all of it's surprise mommy present glory.

I had been hearing about Stitch Fix for over a year, and had even signed up a whiiiilllleee back. My birthday was this month so I decided to treat myself and finally made the jump. I am SO SO glad I did.

So what is it?

You know I love a good subscription service, or at least trying it. This is similar except you get to pick when you want it shipped. You also get to pick how often you want them, or only schedule one. You aren't signing up for something that you will get every single month, unless that's what you choose. I've selected the every-other-month option. You can change it at any time!

You get to choose your price point. I, of course, selected the option for {the cheaper the better}.

After you sign up you complete a style profile, which I actually thought was kind of fun. You can even link your Pinterest board to the profile, which I recommend doing! Based on your preferences a stylist, assigned specifically to you will pick out 5 items for you. These items may be clothes or accessories. You pay a $20 styling fee, but that $20 can be applied towards your final purchase.

It's not all or nothing. You can choose which pieces you would like to keep, if any. If you keep everything they offer a 25% discount. Keeping everything just isn't in my budget so I knew going in to it I would only be keeping one or two pieces. You have three days to try the clothes on and decide. If you decide to send anything back they provide you with the bag and shipping label. It's super easy.


Before each fix you can also send your stylist a note explaining any special requests. My next fix will arrive just before our Disney vacation. I've requested some specific items just for that trip!

When you open your box there will be a styling card included, which I found super handy. I have an issue not knowing what pieces to put with what so this was great! Most of the items I never would have thought to wear the way the stylist presented them. And you get to keep the card. I like that this will help give me ideas for things I already have in my closet.



What did I get?

Disclaimer: Please ignore the appearance of my face in these pictures and the lighting. It was late at night, seriously like 9:00 pm. I had been to work, the gym, and mini d's toddler gymnastics class. It was dark in my dining room and Daddy D (my photographer) and I were whooped to say the least. 


Kahlo Embroidered Solid Tank

Price: $38

My first impression: When I first pulled this out of the box I knew it was love. The material was buttery soft, and the colors were perfect. I don't have anything in my closet like this already. 

Trying it on: It fit perfectly! Great for a casual Mommy outfit without looking too "Mommyish".

Verdict: Kept it! 


Huron Mixed-Material Reversible Tote

Price: $54

Mr first impression: Wow this is big. 

Thoughts on wearing it: This wasn't love from the beginning. The bag is huge. Don't get me wrong, I love a big bag, but this was more like a carry-on. I also wasn't a fan of the colors and the price was a little steep for me.

Verdict: Sent it back! 



Lex Textured Floral Knit Fit & Flare Dress

Price: $74

My first impression: I liked the fit & flare, but was just iffy on the dress. 

Trying it on: It was awful. I debated even taking a picture. The neckline hit in a weird place. I like vintage, but this was straight old lady. And the price tag, NO WAY. 

Verdict: Sent it back!


Kiley Zip Legging

Price: $58

My first impression: I LOVE leggings, but it is Africa HOT outside. The zipper added a great detail.

Trying them on: I wanted to love these. They fit perfectly in the legs, but I kept having to pull up the waist. It's too HOT outside for me to feel fallish enough to get in the mood to even find a top to wear with these. Maybe in a couple of months.

Verdict: Sent them back!

Janee Maxi Dress

Price: $68

My first impression: It's a maxi dress so naturally I love it. I wasn't sure about the colors though, and I do have another dress very similar to this already.

Trying it on: It was too big. I held it in place with my hand for the picture. A belt may have helped, but for the price I just wasn't feeling it. I will say that the material was to die for! It was silky smooth. Maybe in a smaller size, with a different pattern. Ok maybe just a totally different dress.

Verdict: Sent it back!


I did only keep one piece, but since that was my initial plan I wasn't bummed at all. I loved the item that I ended up with. I had a $25 referral credit so I only ended up paying $13 for this top! 

The prices were typical for boutiques, but the quality was much better. I loved being exposed to new brands and ideas. I did request that my next fix include some less pricey pieces. 

Overall, I loved the Stitch Fix experience and do plan on doing it again in a couple of months! My favorite part was the surprise factor. I think the more I do it the more the stylist will get accustomed to my likes and dislikes. I already can't wait until my next Fix!

It you would like to try Stitch Fix help a Mommy out! Use my link to sign up and I will receive a referral credit. Here's the {LINK}





DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend. If you purchase those items through my links I will earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. In fact, I oftentimes am able to negotiate a lower rate (or bonuses) not available elsewhere.
Plus, when you order through my link, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of valuable information. Thank you, in advance for your support!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My Favorite Ways to Make Money Doing {Almost} Nothing



Whether you are saving for vacation or just trying to make it from week to week we are all usually trying to find ways to make and save more money. In our case it's usually save more, but I am all for making more too!

I already work full-time outside of the home so I'm definitely not planning on picking up a second job, which would require me to be away from my family even more. Daddy D and I both recently made career changes that would enable us to be home with mini d more, and have a semi-normal schedule.

So that leaves me trying to find ways of making money without being away from my family any more than I already am.

EBATES

Ebates is a way of earning cash back on your online purchases. They have almost every single store or website you can think of. They are even linked up with Etsy, which is one of my faves! It's so easy to use, just sign up and anytime you get ready to purchase something online go to the ebates website first and then search the store/website you are planning to make a purchase from. Click to visit that website on the Ebates page and it will open the website up for you, you will just shop like you normally would. Depending on the store/website you have chosen you will usually get a cashback % offer anywhere from 1% - 20%. They also have coupon codes you can use on your purchase, if any are available for that retailer.

If you use my link you will automatically get a $10 gift card of your choice on your first purchase through Ebates!

I've already made $12 in the last month using Ebates and that's not counting my $10 gift card!!

Ibotta

Oh how I have fallen in love with Ibotta. Ibotta is an app that you can download for {free} on your smartphone. You can also sign up through the computer, but will need the app to upload your receipts and scan barcodes. Ibotta will pay you for grocery shopping!

If you use my link you will automatically get an additional $1 on your first redemption.

How does it work? Ibotta gives you cash back on purchases made online AND at most grocery stores. They have a selection of rebates per store that can be unlocked through their app by doing simple things like answering a question or watching a 30 second video.

Go shopping and check the app to see if any of the rebates available apply to your purchases. For instance, I got $1 cashback last week for the purchase of a gallon of milk I was going to buy regardless. When you get home scan your receipt and then scan the barcode to the app for the item that matches the rebate. In the last week I have made $10.40 using this app!

Checkout 51

Checkout 51 is almost identical to Ibotta, but they don't have as many rebates available. The good news is you can double up. You can use them both for the same purchase. That gallon of milk mentioned earlier, I also got $0.50 from Checkout 51 for that same purchase. You don't have to scan the barcodes with Checkout 51, just snap a picture of the receipt.

Garage Sale

Go old school! I bet you have a ton of junk in your garage or attic that you probably don't even remember you have. Take a day and pull out all of that old junk. You don't even have to put prices on it, people will make offers. I have a LOVE for garage sales, and trust me, people will come! A garage sale is a quick and easy way to make an extra $100ish or more. That totally depends on how much junk you've accumulated and how many people want to pay you for it. You will have more money in your pocket and you will feel a lot better to have gotten rid of some clutter.

Social Media Sale

Don't have time for an actual garage sale? Have a sale on social media. Buy, Sale, Trade sites on social media are becoming so popular! Even if you're skeptical of selling to strangers I bet one of your 1,000ish "friends" on social media may be interested in purchasing your stuff. Take some pictures with your smartphone and upload them. Take offers and see what kind of interest you get.

I tend to avoid sites like Craigslist so this is a great way to stay away from the creepers, but still get your items sold online and make some extra money.


I know $10 here and there doesn't sound like a lot, but it really adds up over time!

Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves...


DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend. If you purchase those items through my links I will earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. In fact, I oftentimes am able to negotiate a lower rate (or bonuses) not available elsewhere.

Plus, when you order through my link, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of valuable information. Thank you, in advance for your support!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Toddler Toys, MUST HAVES



Ok so we aren't huge on having a bunch of toys in our house. We believe in having just enough to fuel imagination and learning. That being said, these things multiply. Like seriously, where do they come from?! I love a good baby doll, don't get me wrong, but somehow we went from no baby dolls to like twenty overnight and I NEVER even purchased one single doll. Grandma's......lets just leave it at that. You know we love you.

One thing I have learned as a parent, you rarely have to actually buy a toy. They will find you. I promise.

Now that we are in full blown toddler mode we have some toys that I just don't think we would want to live without. They have really captured mini d's imagination and attention. It is so fun to watch her grow, and play.

So what are our FAVORITES?

Play Kitchen


Best toy ever invented. Mini d loves her kitchen. She is constantly "making coffee" or cooking "hamburgers" in her kitchen.

Toys R' Us Price: $150
Mini d's Uncle paid $10 at Goodwill for this practically brand new and gave it to her for her birthday. SCORE!

All Things Colors



From sidewalk chalk to color crayons and coloring books mini d {loves} playing with her colors. Coloring is also such a wonderful teaching tool, and kind of fun for mommy and daddy too!

Cost-wise you are getting a lot of bang for your buck with coloring. Our Dollar Tree carries an array of colors, coloring books, and chalk.

Baby Dolls

Yes, I know I called the baby dolls out earlier. Seriously though there is nothing cuter than your little girl loving on a baby doll as if it were real. I happen to know quite a few little boys that like being little daddy's to their baby dolls too. Our favorite dolls are Cabbage Patch and Water Baby.


I love that all of mini d's cabbage patch dolls are originals that I picked out as a little girl at the actual Cabbage Patch Hospital in Cleveland, Georgia. I can't wait to take mini d one day and let her pick out one of her own. These dolls are great, because they can be kept and passed down generations.

We also love our water baby. Word of advice, never leave your water baby outside overnight. Dogs are attracted to water babies and like to use them as chew toys. This clearly ends in disaster.

Books

I'm not sure if books count as toys, but I'm going to count them anyway. Books are everywhere in our house and I wouldn't have it any other way. Reading is SO SO important to a child, and encouraging it from an early age has many benefits. 

What is our current favorite book...a book about reptiles. This book was Daddy d's growing up and mini d is currently obsessed with it. She loves telling the snakes "no no." It's adorable. Except I will admit, the snakes creep me out.


Balls

Balls of all shapes and sizes. Bonus points if it bounces. Extra bonus points if it has Minnie Mouse or Spiderman on it. She loves throwing, kicking, and catching balls. I'm all for any toy that helps to keep mini d active and playing. We also love toys that serve dual, indoor/outdoor purposes.



Daddy D and I don't place a lot of value in material items, so we tend towards a minimalist approach. However, toys that help a child's imagination grow and flourish are always welcomed additions to our playroom.


Monday, July 20, 2015

IPSY: A Mommy Review


Confession Time: I have a love for subscription services, or at least trying them. I love presents and surprises, who doesn't?!

I debated between Ipsy and Birchbox (which I still haven't tried yet). A friend recommended Ipsy so that ended up being my deciding factor. I completed their style profile, and "skipped the waiting list" to get my subscription scheduled. 

Ipsy will usually tell you that they have a wait list. In order to get off of the "wait list" you have to subscribe to a bunch of different things. That part was kind of annoying.

I was excited when I FINALLY received my bag, it seemed like the shipping process took a while. Or I'm just impatient. Probably the latter. 

My favorite product from the subscription was this Pop Bronzer. I have actually implemented it in to my daily makeup routine, and it was full size. 

Unfortunately that was the only product that I loved. 

The sunscreen oil definitely isn't going to cut it for this fair-skinned Mommy. I would turn in to a french fry within 5 minutes of being in the sun using an 08 oil. Ahhhhhh to be tan. 

The beach spray also isn't something I would ever use. While it did smell nice, my hair just wasn't meant to be {pretty} curly. I have to use heating tools (straightener) or I end up with a poofy afro. Not good, I promise.

Although I have a love for bare minerals the sample they sent was a strange color, and there were no instructions on how to use it. I didn't have time to research how I was going to use it so it ended up in the trash.

Lastly, the lip stain. Bright pink just really isn't my color. I consider myself a fun person, but that was just a little too fun for my face. 

Overall I felt like Ipsy just didn't "get me." I don't think they even considered my style profile. I was pretty sad that I didn't LOVE it, but was happy I at least got one great product out of the bag so I didn't feel like I wasted my money.

If you would like to try it for yourself you can visit this link {Ipsy}. Maybe you will have better luck than I did! If you do decide to try it let me know how you like it (or don't). 

DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend. If you purchase those items through my links I will earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. In fact, I oftentimes am able to negotiate a lower rate (or bonuses) not available elsewhere.

Plus, when you order through my link, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of valuable information. Thank you, in advance for your support!

Friday, July 17, 2015

My Heart is Full, and so are My Hands


This month is mini d's birthday month. I seriously cannot believe she is two!

People ask us all the time when we plan on having a second child. We get comments about mini d needing a little sister or brother. We smile and nod, but inside I'm thinking {are these people crazy?}. The truth is, my heart is full and so are my hands.

I don't know how people do it. I have no idea how people can work full-time, manage their marriage, their children, and everything else. I lay down at night, exhausted but totally satisfied. I don't find myself feeling the need for a second child. At least not right now. My heart is so full of love for mini d, she is enough.

And then there is the part about my hands being full. She may seem shy to some initially, but she is FULL of life and personality. She is fearless. We have to watch her every single second. She has no fear. She doesn't see danger. I can't fathom trying to nurse a baby while mini d runs wild throughout the house endangering her life. And no that is not an exaggeration.

Sometimes I feel guilty about not wanting a second child. It seems like it's the norm to have at least two children. I grew up with a brother and a sister, and so did Daddy D.  I KNOW there are so many valuable life lessons you learn from having siblings. My sister and mother are my best friends next to Daddy D. I feel guilty about possibly depriving mini d of that kind of relationship.

I worry about her growing up as an only child. How will it effect her? The fear of the unknown.

Then I worry about Daddy D and I. Will she take care of us when we are old? What if she moves across the country and we never hear from her again? What if something happens to her, God forbid. We are kind of putting our eggs in one basket, so to say.

I also know the reality of the expenses associated with having multiple children. We have to think about vehicles, education, traveling, weddings. We want to give her the world, without spoiling her of course. But we want to have some kind of retirement left after all of it is said and done.

I see so many other parents making it with multiple children. They look like they have it all together. I barely have time to get a shower in the morning as it is with one.

I am in love with the idea of a second child, but not the reality of it. I would love to look in to the eyes of another sweet baby. I would love to experience another miracle from God. But for right now my hands are full. And thankfully, so is my heart.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Recipe Alert: Oven Baked Chili Dogs



Disclaimer: If you are looking for the World Famous Cutts Chili Dog recipe, I hate to disappoint, but this is not it.

BUT this is a really awesome and yummy dinner recipe! It's also easy and cheap. Thus, meeting all of my family dinner time requirements. Clearly healthy wasn't a requirement this time. Oops!

What You Need:

8 Hot Dogs
8 Hot Dog Buns
1 can Hormel Chili
2 cups Cheddar Cheese
Mustard and Ketchup

How do you make it?

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place buns in a baking dish.
Squeeze the ketchup and mustard in bun, as desired.
Place hot dog in bun.


Spoon chili directly from can over prepped hot dogs. Cover in cheese. Personally, I feel you can never have too much cheese.


Cover prepped dish with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before uncovering. You will need a spatula to remove the hot dogs from your baking dish.

Easy peasy dinner time! Enjoy!





Wednesday, July 15, 2015

DIY Disney Monsters Inc. Costumes



Disney madness has seriously taken over in our house! I am getting super pumped about our upcoming Disney trip. 

Our trip is scheduled for October so we knew we HAD to plan to attend the Disney Not-So-Scary Halloween Party


At a cost of $74 per ticket we decided it was worth the splurge since we were already going to be there anyway, SO out of character for me I know. Luckily, mini d was FREE because she is under three.

When attending the coolest Halloween party in the country at the most magical place EVER you have no choice but to attend in costume. I knew from the beginning mini d just had to be boo from Monsters Inc.  


Her curly brown hair already makes the {perfect} pigtails. And let's be honest, it's a really easy and cheap costume. It's also pretty comfy, which is important for a toddler. I purchased her leggings, top, and pigtail pom poms from The Childrens Place for a total of less than $10. Bonus points, she can wear it anytime, not just Halloween.

This left Daddy D and I. I looked at purchasing Mike and Sully t-shirts online and on Etsy, but the cheapest shirts I could find were $25 each. And that was just your basic screen printed t-shirt, nothing special. I knew if I was going to be Mike I would also want leggings and/or a tutu as well. Those would be additional costs. Yes, I have to be Mike, green is my color. 

I have NEVER been a crafty person, but I guess the success of my stroller tag crafting gave me a boost of crafting confidence. I did A LOT of research, aka "pinteresting" and decided I thought I could tackle the project. Pinterest is good like that.

Supply list in hand I headed to Hobby Lobby and purchased all of the supplies I needed for less than the cost of just the two shirts. 

On Pinterest I stumbled across a few blog tutorials that helped me along the way. 

Easy Living {linked it} has an awesome step-by-step tutorial for a "no sew" tulle skirt. As if I really needed an excuse to make a lime green tutu! Using her tutorial, and a little help from my Mom, I made my tutu for my Mike costume in less than 30 minutes. It didn't turn out exactly like the picture, but it was good enough for the purposes I plan to use it for. I will wear plain black leggings that I already own under my tutu.



Nik Knacks {linked it} had a great blog on creating my Mike shirt. I used some of her concepts and then I kind of decided to wing the rest. I tied up the shoulders with ribbon left over from my tutu project for some extra personality. I used felt and heat n' bond to complete the project. 


I adopted the same concept to make Daddy D's Sully shirt...



I took my costume idea one step further and decided to also make my own mouse ears for my Mike costume. Using some fabric scraps, feather clips, a plain headband, and some hot glue I was able to make my own ears, and I think they weren't half bad! Dixie Delights {linked it} provided the cut-out pattern, and some helpful tips for making the custom mouse ears. 



The shirts and mouse ears took me maybe 3 hours, but had I been an even somewhat experienced crafter it probably would have been a lot faster. I also took some necessary toddler play breaks. I absolutely cannot wait for our trip, and look forward to more Disney crafting and prepping as our travel date approaches!! 

UPDATE: This was our final product for the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party! The costumes were {perfect} and we got compliments all night!




Thursday, July 9, 2015

DIY Disney Stroller Tag


Surprise! We are planning a trip to Disney World this October. We are super excited because we planned a trip back in May, but because of Daddy D's career change up we had to postpone it. Everything worked out for the best though because now my fam is going with us! Mini D went with me (in my belly) when I was pregnant with her during a work trip a few years back. Although, that trip was more work and less Disney fun. Daddy D went once when he was a small child, but remembers nothing. Other than the work trip I have been three times, but all were shorter trips and I don't remember much. Needless to say, we can't wait!

Anyway, you know I am already in crazy prep mode. We had some friends get their stroller stolen on a Disney vacay a year or two ago. I've been looking on Etsy for a stoller tag to possibly deter a thief and to hopefully make our stroller stand out in what I know will be a sea of strollers.

The cheapest price for a semi-cute stroller tag I could find on Etsy was $11 plus shipping, which would have made it $14.50. You know what sounds better to me? FREE! I don't generally consider myself a very crafty person, but I figured this sounded like something I could handle. So I googled "disney world printable stroller tag." In 30 seconds I found exactly what I was looking for, thank you internet.

The Mouse For Less offers ten options for free customizable (printable) stroller tags. Their instructions were very easy to follow. I used the princess option, of course. As if there was any question. I was able to customize it by selecting the option for "customizable rental stroller tag in word." I edited it in less than two minutes. I then printed it on my color printer at home with regular printer paper. Next, using a laminating machine I laminated it to weather-proof it and make it more durable. Any office supply store and/or most libraries and schools have laminating machines. Using a single-hole punch I punched a hole in each of the top two corners. When we get ready to go on our trip I will tie it to the stroller handles using ribbon.


It was SO easy to make, and looks just as good or better than the more expensive options I could have purchased on Etsy. The entire project took less than 15 minutes. If I can make this I promise you can too! Stay tuned for more Disney news and info as we continue to plan our trip!



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Surviving Eating Out with a Toddler


We have a love/hate relationship with going out to dinner. We {love} it and mini d hates it. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you know we do life as a family, it's just how we roll. We don't go anywhere without each other unless it's work related.

We love going out to dinner occasionally and even budget a line item specifically for it! Mini d is STRONG spirited and just isn't a fan of sitting still for any length of time, especially in a new environment. She wants to get down and explore her surroundings, can you blame her?

This past weekend while on vacay for the 4th of July we went to one of our favorite semi-fancy restaurants. I was shocked when we were walking out and overheard a woman making a comment about how happy she was she didn't have to "deal" with a child mini d's age. This particular woman and her family had been sitting at the table in front of us, and had two boys around ten-ish. To be honest after she had, had a few drinks she was being much louder than my little {almost} two year old anyway. Ok, rant over.

The point of the story is, mini d is a free-spirited two year old and we love that about her. I'm not saying we let her run wild. We do discipline for direct defiance, shhhhhh don't call dhr. What we don't discipline for is a two year old just being a two year old.

So how do we survive eating out?

Only eat at restaurants that serve bread. Or have a snack ready in the diaper bag if they don't. Pre-meal snacking is a MUST.

Don't pick a restaurant with a long wait list, or try to go early before the crowds.

Don't go too late. Running in to bed time is setting yourself up for disaster.

Play with straws and ice.

Have a coloring book and crayons stashed in the diaper bag.

Play pass the baby with family members around the table.

Take breaks walking outside or touring the restaurant if necessary. Daddy D usually takes this job if things start going downhill.

If things get REALLY bad be the parent you always said you wouldn't be and whip out your smartphone for them to watch their favorite movie on. At some point we all eat our words, just sayin'. This would be awesome if my kid even cared about watching movies.

Mommy's, have a glass of wine.

Just take a deep breath and enjoy every moment. No my child doesn't always want to sit in a high chair. Ok she never wants to sit in a highchair. Sometimes we all have a meltdown waiting for the food to come. Sometimes mini d needs to potty 27,000 times except not really during the course of the meal.

Enjoy the time with family and go anyway. My Mother always said, "this too shall pass." The stages of their childhood are ever-fleeting.





Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Meal Plan Monday...Tuesday




Where did Monday go?! Whoops! I may have missed a day, but I will go ahead and share our meal plan for the week anyway.

Sunday: 

Grilled Hamburgers w/ Homemade Onion Rings

Patty-out your hamburgers just barely, they will be juicier the less you patty them.
Add a little salt and pepper and they are ready for the grill.

Onion Ring Batter: Pancake Mix, Water, Season Salt, Pepper

Fry to perfection and dip in ranch (of course).

Monday:

Steak Sandwiches (Leftovers)

Remember last week when I mentioned my parents were taking our entire family out for a dinner celebration for my sister at Cafe Thirty-A, well of course we brought home everyone's leftovers. Yes, I am really that cheap. So we had some super yummy leftover steak to eat!

Cut-up your leftover steak in bite size pieces. Warm in a skillet over low heat. Serve on light bread with a little mayo and mustard.

Tuesday:

Family night with Daddy D's parents. My mother-in-law will be so graciously cooking us meatloaf and mashed potatoes...YUMMY!

Wednesday:

Gymnastics night. So you know it's Zaxby's night!

Thursday:

Crock Pot Chicken Taco's <--- Linked the Recipe

Friday:

Supporting the fam and eating at our all-time FAVORITE (click it) restaurant!

Saturday:

We've been invited to a baby shower dinner party! All three of us plan to be in attendance. We try not to do things we can't do as a family unit. Just the way we choose to operate.

Happy Cooking...and Eating!



Thursday, July 2, 2015

Easy Peasy, {No Bake} 4th of July Dessert


Red, White, & Blueberry Shortcake

From heading to the beach to grilling in the backyard the Fourth of July is always a celebration at our house! It's no secret in my family that I have a {love} for all things SWEET

My favorite "go to" recipe for all holiday's red, white, and blue is this gorgeous Berry Shortcake. It has the perfect amount of light and fluffiness for a hot summer afternoon BBQ. Not to mention it is SO easy to make! 

So what do you need?

One pre-made Angel Food Cake
- I usually purchase mine from the bakery section at Publix
- If you can bake your own, more power to you! That would just take all of the easy peasy out of it for me.

16 ounces of Lite Cool Whip (this is the big container, or two small ones)
- I buy the lite because it saves a few calories and no one notices! 
- I have also purchased the store brand cool whip, and it tastes just the same. You know I'm all about saving money!

One package fresh strawberries

One package fresh blueberries

Hint: If you plan to go crazy with the fruit you may end up needing two containers of each. 

How do you put it together?

Cube your angel food cake, as shown below. 


Place a layer of cubed shortcake in the bottom of your serving dish.

Spread a layer of cool whip.

Slice your strawberries, and then spread a layer of strawberries (use sparingly or you will run out). Make sure you face some of them outwards for appearance, as seen in my picture above. 

Sprinkle a few blueberries (rinse them first).

Repeat layers until you run out of cake. I usually can get three layers of cake. 

Decorate the top using the remainder of your cool whip, blueberries, and strawberries. 

Keep refrigerated until you are ready to serve.



That's it! So easy, and looks really impressive if I do say so myself. 

Happy Fourth of July!