BBQ Picnic Salad & Sensory Play

Today has been a busy day. It isn’t even nearly over. I guess the days seem long because my boys get up so early. I am always pooped by lunch time.

After the boys woke up, we made Banana Kale Smoothies. Or “smoozees”, as they call them. Bigs helped me.

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Banana Kale Smoozees:

Serves 3

3 bananas, peeled, chopped, frozen

1 C washed, raw kale

1/2 C coconut milk

1/2 C vanilla yogurt

Place in food processor.

After our smoozees, we went for now our-usual jog early this morning. So far (crossing my fingers), the boys haven’t tried to escape their jogger seats yet, and they’ve been pretty good. I’ve only had to stop and get on their case for brotherly-arguing about three times since I’ve started jogging consistently.

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Today they were squealing with delight and throwing up their hands. I know I’m not jogging fast enough for them to feel like they are on a roller coaster!

When we got home, I set up a little sensory playtime for them. I’d remembered that one of Bigs’ favorite activities in school was  playing with shaving cream. So, the last time I was at the Dollar Store, I bought a few cans. Today I set them out with some Tupperware and whisks.

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Bigs loved it, obvi. Smalls did not. I thought he would, but I should have guessed. Despite being so wild and cray cray, he does not like messes on his hands and body, with the exception of food on his face. That, he never seems to mind or notice. Oh well. Scaling the walls, climbing on table tops, eating out of the trashcan, and running amok will have to suffice for Smalls entertainment. I think he’ll be okay.

Whenever I make lunch for the boys, I end up feeling like a piece of meat, with vultures surrounding me, pecking, and ravishing my personal space. I cannot keep them from getting all up in my face while preparing their meals. Today, I gave them a few pieces of frozen corn to much on while waiting. I did not expect it to turn into their favorite snack ever. They both loved it and ended up eating around a 1/2 cup each.

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What a fun discovery for me! I hope they’ll continue eating it. I think it makes for an almost refreshing, and certainly healthy, “treat” (usually I serve corn warm for them).

I made another salad for myself. It was divine. It was a BBQ Picnic Salad.

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I used romaine lettuce, carrots, red/yellow/orange bell pepper, frozen corn and peas, yellow tomatoes, shredded chicken from last night’s dinner (roasted chicken), shredded cheddar, and a pickled tri-bean salad. For the dressing, I put BBQ sauce, olive oil, S&P, mustard, and ACV in a mason jar and shook the dickens out of it. Yum yum. And very filling.

Blessings,

Kristin

Summer Lovin’!

Had us a blaaaast!

Summer Break has officially started for us! Woo hoo! We are fully immersed in it now!

Last week was very busy for us. We went with my in-laws to a small, little theme park for the day.

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Boy was it hot! The boys (and us adults!) had a great time. By the end of the day, the boys started melting down…and playing ALL over the floor of the picture pick-up place. We became THAT family. :/

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Oh well. At least they were occupied. It was a great day! We had so much fun with Grandma and Grandpa. The next day was Bigs’ last day of preschool for the 3 year olds. It was a great day for him. He had so much fun and I know he will miss his friends and teacher.

That same evening was his little graduation. After five minutes of singing their sweet songs (“Wherever I go, God goes” and “Doers of the Word” – stinkin’ CUTE!!!), it was over. He’ll officially be in VPK next year. Sniff. Growing up too fast, I tell you!

On Friday, we had a playdate with most of his classmates. We went to a Splash Pad. It was a very hot day, so the Splash Pad was a welcome treat. Bigs had SO much fun with his friends, splashing all around. Smalls, on the other hand, did not enjoy it at all. He was scared. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it more as he gets older. Afterwards, we took all the kids to a frozen yogurt place. Oh yum! I got no-sugar added for the boys, since it was close to nap time.

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I let the boys have sprinkles (duh). I had a mix of a lot of flavors and some fruit and juice-balls as toppings. It was refreshing. What a great way to end the year!

That night, we took the boys to a steakhouse to celebrate Bigs’ graduation.

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The boys got cheeseburgers and fries (their favorites).

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My meal came with a delicious salad. It was so good. I love when restaurants make their ranch dressing in House.

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My Medium steak was perfect, and my loaded baked potato was filling.

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My husband’s burger (which he ate without the bun) was just delicious.

We celebrated with dessert:

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A trio of chocolate cake, apple crisp, and cheesecake. Yummo.

What a great way to celebrate my baby going into his next phase of life.

On Saturday, my husband put up a hammock in our backyard. We also grilled out and I made some sides.

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I made the world’s easiest baked beans.

Baked Beans:

1 1/4 C chopped onion

3/4 C green bell pepper (I had red, yellow, and orange)

2 cloves of garlic (chopped)

1 C ketchup

1/4 C brown sugar

1/4 C maple syrup

2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 t liquid smoke

2 t mustard

1 can – red beans, drained and rinsed

1 can – Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

Sautee the veggies in the butter. Once they are soft, add the other ingredients up to the beans. Mix well. Add beans and simmer for 15 minutes.

DELICIOUS!

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For a fun dessert, I made banana ice cream. The day before, I’d peeled and sliced 3 or 4 bananas, and then froze them. To make the ice cream, place the frozen bananas in the food processor and add milk (I used vanilla almond milk) and process until creamy.

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It was a hit and the only sugar that was in it was from the almond milk. Fantastic.

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It was a fun day filled with homemade (healthy!) ice cream, good food, and pool time!

On Sunday, we went to a pool/birthday party! I didn’t get any pictures because Husband had to work and I was wrangling the boys by myself. We had so much fun though. They stayed in the pool for about four hours! They only came out to eat delicious hamburgers and hot dogs, and a cake made to look like the American flag! So fun!

On Monday, I’d heard that Wendy’s was giving out free Waffle Cone Frosties. Yes please!

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I let my boys have frosties for dinner. Sue me. I should be sued. It turned into an awful night because they were so ridiculously hyped up. But it was fun at the time.

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(PS I’ve been jogging almost everyday with my boys – it’s been great!)

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I love how Smalls eats his ice cream cones…like there’s no tomorrow. That’s how he does life too. All in, this kid! ❤

My Bigs is a bit more careful. 🙂

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He likes to savor his special treats…so much so that it starts melting all over the place! I can appreciate his method though. He’s my sweet, special boy!

The crazy, wild, me-pulling-my-own-hair-out night was worth it for these special memories. I will never forget the one time when my family went to Washington DC on a vacation when I was in elementary school. My parents let us eat ice cream for dinner and we went to a candy shop for dessert. It only happened once in my life, but it was so fun and so special that I remember it so many years later. I want those special, fun memories for my own children.

I’ve made a lot of great food lately, too! More successes than failures this week – woo-hoo!

Today, my bestie since kindergarten came over with her daughter. I just love love love seeing them. I miss my best friend. We’ve lived apart (grew up in the same town) most of our adult life, but every time we get together, it’s like the last time we saw each other. And we talk every day too. She’s so special. Anyways, I made a salad today, for us, that I knew she’d love. And I loved it too! A friend from my church group gave me the recipe and I altered it a little, but only because I didn’t have all the ingredients.

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Seven Layer Salad:

Romaine lettuce

Red onion

Frozen peas

Dressing (mayo, mustard, S&P, sugar, malt vinegar)

Bacon

Celery

Cheddar Cheese

**I added red/yellow/orange bell pepper, added onion powder to the dressing since I didn’t have onions, and I also used red wine vinegar since I couldn’t find malt at Target**

This recipe is delicious! I can’t wait to try it the “real” way.

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We ate the whole thing (I used an entire head of romaine lettuce)!

Speaking of salads, they are still going strong in our house – the produce has been great!

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I also made a delicious dinner tonight – roasted chicken and roasties:

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It came out delicious.

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I served it with seasoned corn, nectarines, and raspberries.

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Bigs loved the potatoes (which he normally doesn’t) and Smalls ate almost the entire pot of corn (which he’s never done). Serious success!

I also made GF brownies for my husband. I had to eat a square though, for review purposes.

Obviously.

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I used Aldi’s GF brownie mix. I used coconut oil for the fat content, so they came out with a ridiculously yummy coco-nutty flavor. I enjoyed my little slice and my Hubs loved it too!

YAY for successful meals! It doesn’t always happen!

So glad to be back on track with blogging. I miss it when things get too busy.

Hope you all are doing well! More summer fun and recipes tomorrow!

Kristin

Bigs’ Last Day of Preschool

Today is my Bigs’ last day of age 3 preschool (next year will be VPK). I am so proud of how far he’s come this last school year. We will miss our school routine, his teacher, his classmates, and their Mommies. It’s been a wonderful year. I am so grateful for his school.

Today for lunch, I packed “Bigs’ favorite things”.

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I packed some pizza (BBQ chicken pizza from Aldi), an applesauce squeezy fruit, some red grapes, and for dessert, a sugar cookie and a gummy worm. I also packed a no-sugar apple juice box. He loves those, but they are very rare, so it will be a treat. For his snack, I packed fruit snacks and shrimp chips (weird, but both my boys love those!), two of his favorite things.

Wow, what a year of lunches, too! Next year, Bigs will be in school 4 days a week (versus the two this year). I will definitely have to get my thinking cap on. Yikes.

Have a wonderful day!

Kristin

A Very Merry Un-Birthday to you, to YOU!

Today in school, the kids are celebrating ALL of their un-birthdays. How cute is that? They will have party hats and birthday games. What a fun way to begin closing out the year. I am bringing in sugar cookies with frosting for the kids to decorate. It’s going to be sweet, literally.

For Bigs’ lunch, I went with the un-birthday theme.

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I made a cupcake-shaped PB&J (I added back in the scraps from the sandwich – it was just not so pretty in the picture). I also packed goldfish crackers, seasoned corn, an applesauce squeezy fruit, and some granola and dried cranberries. I used cupcake picks for decoration. A Very Merry Un-Birthday, indeed! 🙂

I hope today is as celebratory-for-no-good-reason for you as it will be for these sweet kids!

Kristin

Blooming

I have not been a good blogger lately. Between my family being sick for two weeks, and the end of the school year approaching, it’s just been bananas around here. The summer is going to be a much needed slower pace…hopefully, that isn’t wishful thinking.

Our blackberry bush finally bloomed and ripened!

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Several plump blackberries were ready for picking. And it only took about five seconds because there were four and a half.

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This was all it yielded. It really makes one appreciate the farmers who are supplying markets and grocery stores. We’ve waited months for these four blackberries! Our blueberry bushes are even slower. I see one unripened blueberry.

Growing some of our own food surely does help us feel appreciative. We can’t wait for our melons to be ripe and, hopefully by October, we will be able to carve our own homegrown pumpkins.

Eating delicious salads everyday also help me to appreciate the freshness of the season…and good health.

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And I love putting fruit in my salads – grapes, peaches, nectarines, raisins, dried cranberries, berries of all kinds. Delicious. What’s your favorite kind of salad?

We’ve also been up to our usual tricks – Pancake Saturday (gluten and dairy free)!

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Bigs requested sprinkles this past Saturday. We fueled up because after breakfast, we did a walk that raised awareness about Human Trafficking and Slavery. It was informative and powerful.

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/05/12/snickerdoodle-pancakes/

I also made a birthday cake for one of my sweet friends.

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Her favorite is Red Velvet and I’d never (surprisingly!!) made one from scratch before. I gave it a go. Here is the recipe I used:

http://suziesweettooth.com/tag/9-x-13-inch-red-velvet-cake/

I think I over baked it. :/ I had a migraine all weekend and wasn’t fully “with it”.

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But it sure smelled good and came out pretty! I hope she enjoys it. I’m giving it to her today.

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I’ll have to see if she can send me a picture of a slice, so I can see how the inside turned out. 🙂

Hope you all have a very blessed day! I am going to my last monthly Church ladies group meeting before we break for Summer. It’s always a blessing to me. I always leave renewed and refreshed, something that is so very important to this Mama!

Kristin

EDIT: My friend sent me a picture of a slice of the cake! She said I should package it up and sell it, so I think that’s a good sign. 🙂 I am so glad she liked it!

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Dino-Riffic!

This week has been Dinosaur Week at school for Bigs! I couldn’t hand pick a more fun topic for my son. He adores dinosaurs. His room is decorated in a dinosaur theme. He even just told me, “I love dinosaurs.”. So there, you heard it here. Basically from him. Anyways, with dinosaur lessons comes dinosaur themed lunches. And dinosaur shirts that Bigs wore. Obviously. I cannot help myself.

Here is Tuesday’s lunch:

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It was a green brontosaurus-shaped PB&J, corn, an applesauce squeezy fruit, and two little Perkin’s sugar cookies (leftover from Mother’s Day).

And today, Thursday, I will have my last opportunity of the school year to work as a Helper Parent in Bigs’ classroom. I will miss his classmates, whom I have really gotten to know (and their families, as well). They are all so special and so very sweet. I will also miss his teacher. She has been just wonderful. She’s taught our Bigs so many things and as his first-ever teacher, she will always hold a very special place in our family’s hearts. So it was a fun, but bittersweet day.

I packed another dinosaur-themed lunch for Bigs.

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I made three little dino-shaped PB&Js, packed seasoned corn, an applesauce squeezy fruit, and one golden Oreo, opened, with little dinosaur-shaped sprinkles on top. The bag on the left is a dinosaur bag (I have been finding packs of these at Christmas Tree Shop for a while now – so cute!) with Bigs’ snack – carrots with peanut butter, and raisins.

And I packed my lunch, as well:

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Cucumbers with S&P, carrots, three hard boiled eggs with S&P, an apple, and a beautiful, ripe peach. Yum!

Bigs will be in another dinosaur shirt and because I don’t have one of those, I will rock my dino earrings. Which I love. Which I have an assorted 8-pack of. Don’t judge.

And because it will be the last time I’ll be in the classroom this school year, I made Bigs’ teacher, some of the office gals, and the security dude (official term) some muffins.

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Whole Wheat Cranberry Orange Muffins. Healthy, but good!

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I hope they will enjoy them as much as I’ve enjoyed all of THEM this year (which is a lot!).

Here’s the recipe:

http://thedapperlass.blogspot.com/2012/10/healthy-cranberry-orange-muffins.html

Hope you have a dino-tastic day!

Kristin

Roar!

 

Sweet Sweet Summertime

What a weird week it’s turned out to be. In between all the playing at parks, eating good Mother’s Day food, and spending time with family, both my boys got sick with two different things and I lost my voice. We even had to skip church on Mother’s Day. But I was “stuck” at home with the two very reasons I got to celebrate that day, so I was a happy, voice-less Mama!  The Friday before, we tried out a new park. I couldn’t even get a picture of Bigs because he was on the go the whole time!

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Smalls had fun but got tuckered out by the end.

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Poor, tired, little fella. ❤

We were supposed to travel to attend my cousin’s graduation party the next day, but that night on the park day, Bigs got a fever. We were able to get it down but he still wasn’t feeling well. And I had woken up with absolutely no voice. So no one was feeling well enough to travel. We rested at home and puttered around town when cabin fever set in. We ate a nice BBQ lunch.

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I ate a smoked chicken salad sandwich (which I actually had to take home because I was so full from my sides!), roasted corn, sweet potatoes, and bananas foster bread pudding. You heard that part correctly. Seriously yum. The boys shared a scoop of house-made cotton candy ice cream and I took this little baby home to enjoy while they were napping.

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Chocolate cake with chocolate chips and vanilla (tinted pink for Mother’s Day) buttercream.

After naps, we went to one of our favorite stores – Christmas Tree Shops. I was THRILLED when they brought one down here. They had all their summer stuff out. It made me so happy to just walk around the aisles of water tubes, canopies, margarita-shaped strung lights, and seasonal summer foods. And I, a sucker for ALL things flamingo and watermelon, had to get these (cheap!) chevron flamingo placemats and watermelon cutting board. So fresh!

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I’d say we made the most of the day, even though we weren’t feeling up to snuff.

The next day was Mother’s Day. I felt so very blessed to be able to celebrate this day. My boys showered me with love…AND they slept in for the first time in AGES! It was so nice! They took me to Perkin’s for breakfast, one of our favorite places to eat. It was crowded with all kinds of people.

Smalls was in a “mood”. I should mention that this sort of mood comes out every time we dine out now. I suppose he’s in that phase (hopefully, short-lived) where we are “those people” at the restaurants with the screaming, spoon-throwing, crayon-chucking, food-smearing kid.

This too shall pass.

Our lovely server brought me a warm strawberry muffin, which I was sweet enough to share with my boys. They wanted to dig in so quickly that my picture came out blurry.

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It was really good.

Inspired buy said muffin, I ordered the Strawberry French Toast.

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It came out missing whipped cream, but the server brought it out shortly after.

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My husband ordered an omelette with tomatoes and sausage and potatoes. It also came with pancakes, which he gave to me and I ate later for dinner.

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The pancakes were delicious, even heated up later.

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Bigs ordered his usual – Sprinkle Pancakes! This boy knows what he wants! He also got bacon.

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I ordered the French Toast sticks for Smalls, thinking he’d easily hold and eat them.

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I didn’t anticipate that he’d want my whipped cream and smear the table with it, as I imagine a baby Picasso would have done.

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This mess was the tip of the ice berg.

It was still lovely, albeit slightly stressful.

When we got home, we went swimming. It was a beautiful day and Bigs was eager to show off his new swimming skills.

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It was a great Mother’s Day. I am so very blessed.

On Monday, after swim lessons, the boys and I went jogging. Now that I have a double jogger, I am able to take them with me. We did three miles (half jog, half speed walk) around a nearby lake.

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We did stop to feed the turtles and fish some stale popcorn.

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About seven turtles came up and went berserk-o on the popcorn.

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And that night, I made a really yummy dinner (not an everyday occurrence in my household). I roasted chicken and made a BBQ sauce from scratch (ketchup, garlic, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, ACV). I served it with some dumpy, gross GF, DF cornbread I made from scratch without a recipe, corn, peas, and a fruit salad.

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It was still a successful meal.

Well. That caught us up to only Monday. And it’s already almost Thursday! Hope you’ve had a great week!

Blessings!

Kristin