Friday, February 27, 2015

Signs of Spring from the #SCBH2015, Favorites from week 2

I have the pleasure of co-hosting the 2015 Spring Craft Blog Hop with an awesome group of bloggers. This round-up features entries that caught my eye that are linked up to the current hop (St. Patrick's Day and Spring), running through March 17th. Be sure to link up your relevant projects anytime for a chance to be featured in future round-ups!

We are another week closer to spring, and the projects keep rolling in! I hope this week felt a little more spring-like for the rest of you that don't live in California or Florida. We've had nothing but sunshine, and my sweaters are getting jealous of my t-shirts. I haven't hardly been outside to enjoy it this week though (the toddler and I have been feeling under the weather), but you can bet this weekend I plan to get out there!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pumpkin Banana Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast in the Messy House often consists of my teenager grabbing something to eat on the run before heading off to school. I'm a chronic breakfast skipper myself, I settle down in front of the computer with a cup of coffee when I get back from school drop-off and work straight on through to lunch. I needed something that I could bake that would satisfy our needs, so we could all have healthier breakfast habits.

These Pumpkin Banana Breakfast cookies fit the bill! They are tasty, portable, and filled with whole grains and nutritious ingredients. These breakfast cookies are an excellent choice for a homemade treat anytime of the day.  These cookies are not too sweet, and their texture is chewy and almost muffin-like, gives them enough substance to feel filled up after one or two.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fun Gift-wrapping Idea for a Preschooler's Birthday Party

March is birthday month in the Messy House! All 3 kids have birthdays this month, so there will be a lot of celebrating going on. March 2nd also happens to be National Read Across America Day, and Dr. Seuss's birthday, so why not start the celebration with the gift of some books? Right now, I am loving the idea of wrapping small gifts in a plan paper and decorating with ribbon and accents to make them special.

If you're like me and adore wrapping and decorating gifts before they are given, then I bet you'll love this project. This project is easy enough that even if you don't enjoy wrapping gifts, you will love the simplicity of this project. A bit of brown paper, some colorful ribbon, and a few pieces of scrapbook paper is all you need for this.

Oh, and books. Pick a couple of books your kids enjoy and would love to add to your collection. Stumped on what books your kids would like? Take a trip to your local library and take a look around! We've found many new authors and series through first borrowing a few of their books from the library to take them on a "test-run".

Monday, February 23, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - February #4

Some weeks are better than others when it comes to meal planning. We had a sick toddler all week, so going out was limited. A kid with a cold usually means a mom with a cold by the end of the week, and sure enough, by Thursday I was down for the count. That meant that by the time we were out of groceries (I shop Fridays) I was done cooking for the week. Thankfully, between leftovers and pizza on Saturday, we had enough for dinners to get us through the weekend. I'm totally bummed that I didn't get to try the lamb chops or the pork stew from last week's plan, but I have plans to try them in the future.

This week, the keywords for our meal plan is simple and kid-friendly, while still being somewhat healthy. The toddler and I haven't been eating much because nothing tastes good with a stuffy nose. Eating less isn't a problem for me, but for an active kid like mine, who has always been slim and on the underweight side (according to all the pediatric charts), it is frustrating. I'm hoping these dinners will tempt his taste buds, since I know that these are dishes that have been successful in the past.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fabulous Friends and Finds Friday: Signs of Spring from the #SCBH2015, week 1

I'm back with another Fabulous Friends and Finds Friday! I have the pleasure of co-hosting the 2015 Spring Craft Blog Hop with an awesome group of bloggers. This round-up features entries that caught my eye that are linked up to the current hop (St. Patrick's Day and Spring), running through March 17th. Be sure to link up your relevant projects anytime for a chance to be featured in future round-ups!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Stitch Fix: February Fix Review and Reveal

It's that time again! My monthly Stitch Fix box arrived on Saturday morning. I tried waiting to open it until the day after Valentine's day, to no avail. That little brown box just tempted me too much! I have a little routine when opening up my Fixes. The interior of the box isn't brown at all, its this white and teal geometric print that's makes you feel like you are getting this exclusive gift. Your 5 items are wrapped in tissue paper, adding to the suspense.
Never heard of Stitch Fix?
Let me break it down for you: After you sign up for Stitch Fix, you choose how frequently you want your shipments (I'm on their monthly plan right now). Then, your stylist picks 5 fashions especially for you, and they get mailed directly to you, to try on in the comfort of your own home with your own wardrobe and accessories. Each piece gets sent with a style card with it, to give you ideas on how to wear it.

How much does it cost?
Stitch Fix tries to send you items in your price range, but the average price per item is $55, according to Stitch Fix. There is a $20 styling fee per delivery, which goes towards the purchase of any of the 5 items in your fix. Also, if you choose to purchase all 5 items, you get a 25% discount on your entire purchase.

This is not a sponsored post. I am not receiving any compensation through Stitch Fix or any other affiliates. All opinions are 100% my own. If you chose to sign up for Stitch Fix using the links in the post, you will be using my referral code, I will get a $25 credit when they send you your first box.

My February Fix

"Hi Renee! Welcome back! I hope you love opening your Fix as much as I loved styling it! Two birthdays are always the perfect excuse to get festive! Unfortunately, we are out of maxi at the moment, but I included this Gilli maxi dress in replace. This dress can be worn casually with some strappy sandals, or dressed up with an eye-catching necklace. Pair the Papermoon blouse with the DL1961 skinny jean for a festive birthday party outfit. Throw on a navy cardigan if you get chilly. The Loveappella top reminds me of the striped shirts I saw while browsing your Pinterest. The last striped piece had thicker stripes, so I thought thinner stripes might be more flattering on you! The Zad necklace is a nice everyday piece that will compliment any outfit! Have fun trying everything on! I look forward to your feedback! XO, Danise"
I love reading the notes that my stylist sends every fix. It really shows that they are putting in the efforts to try to personalize their selections to you. After my January Fix, I had asked for 1) clothes that were kids-party appropriate, 2) a pair of dark jeans, 3) a piece of jewelry and 4) a long skirt. To accommodate three out of 4 requests with only 5 items is pretty great! Danise hit the nail on the head with the first 2 pieces:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rainbow Rolled-Brim Knit Hat

This post is part of the Spring Craft Blog Hop 2015, the second in a four-part spring craft blog hop challenge for the spring season! This hop will run from February 18 - March 17. We challenge you to create a craft project that reflects St. Patrick's Day, Palm Sunday, or a general Spring theme. Please join us in this challenge and link up your crafty creation to be seen on 20 blogs!

I love to create projects that can be gifted. In November, I re-taught myself to knit to keep my hands
busy, and to be able to create wearable gifts. I could spend hours at the knitting store or browsing online for yarns, thinking of the beautiful creations I could make. For a hat with a fun St. Patrick's Day twist, I created a rolled-brim rainbow hat that is made using 2 worsted weight yarns knitted together.
Using white and rainbow-colored ombre yarn knitted together creates this unique design in the knitting and makes a thicker, warmer hat that is perfect for cold weather. This pattern is simple enough for beginning knitters that know the basics. The whole hat is knit using the knit stitch (which creates stockinette when knitting in the round).

Spring Craft Blog Hop - St. Patrick's Day and Spring

I'm so excited to be a host of the Spring Craft Blog Hop 2015! A huge thank you to Erlene over at My Pinterventures for arranging this whole hop and keeping us all organized! I hope you all enjoyed the first installment of the hop. Now that Valentine's Day is over, we're moving right along through to March for the second installment of the hop. Bring your green for St. Patrick's Day, Palm Sunday, and other Spring themed crafts!

Welcome to the second in a four-part spring craft blog hop challenge for the spring season! This hop will run from February 18 - March 17 and we're challenging you to create a craft project that reflects St. Patrick's Day, Palm Sunday, or a General Spring theme. Please join us in this challenge and link-up your crafty creation at the bottom of this post to be seen on 18 blogs!


Meet all 20 hosts!

Each host will be sharing their own craft to kick off the Spring Craft Blog Hop challenge, so make you visit each host to see their fabulous creations!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - February #3

Another Monday, another meal plan. I hope I'm inspiring some of you to not fear the kitchen, and to cook for your family. Even if you are using a lot of shortcuts, as long as the finished product came from your hands, you are helping shape the way your children will respond to food as grown adults. I know we are all busy, but finding a 30-minute window a few times a week can make a world of difference. I was brought up on home-cooked meals, and I swear it affirmed the love and respect of food that I have today.

If I menu plan early for the next week, it helps keep me on track for the week. I like to plan on Wednesdays or Thursdays and grocery shop on Thursdays or Fridays. That way, I can shop the circular and make sure to add any digital coupons to my club card, which saves me money. Have your grocery stores gone digital yet? It is so much nicer than remembering to clip coupons!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day Ultimate Round-Up: What LOVEly Ideas You Have!

Valentine's day is tomorrow. Whether you love it or hate it, it's here (cue the dramatic music!).  As a blogger, Valentine's day is great for sharing themed crafts, recipes, and fun activities with the kiddos. Just search Pinterest for Valentine's day and you will be bombarded by pink, red, and white crafts, cookies... you name it! I've decided to gather up a few (ok, like 20) ideas that I have seen this season and share them with you!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentine's Day Marble Painting, with Paper Decorations

Valentine's Day is almost here! Have you decorated yet? I already made my Sweet(heart) welcome sign for the front door, but I wanted to make a second project that I could get my toddler involved in. I still had extra paint left over, so why not use it to make messy art that could be transformed into paper decorations? You might remember our cookie tin marble painting that we did last year for St. Patrick's day. I saved another cookie tin this year, so I decided to give it another go, this time in Valentine's colors.
We have been having a horrific dry stretch, so this time I decided to take the whole project outdoors in the sunshine. I set up the project on the kid-sized picnic table that we have set up in the backyard and let S-Bug get a little messy! I recommend putting your kids in a smock, or use older play-clothes when painting is involved.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - February #2

Happy Monday! I hope the weekend treated you well. We experienced quite a bit of rain this weekend, which was a lovely sight to see, hear and feel. I love the sound of raindrops on the windows. My garden enjoyed the rain, too! I am starting to see buds on my hydrangeas and the grass on all the hillsides is greening up. Are you excited about Valentine's Day on Saturday? I'm hoping to take the opportunity to whisk the kiddos away to Grandma's for a bit and have a quiet evening with my husband. How about you, any plans for Valentine's Day?
Anyway, onto the real reason you are all here - Meal Plan Monday! Isn't it amazing how with a little planning you can be so much more motivated to cook? The only meal we didn't get to last week was the butternut squash mac and cheese. I had a request to cook up the shrimp tacos on Sunday while visiting my parents, so I happily obliged. You will see the recipe on the blog one of these days, so look out for it!

Strawberries and Cream Rice Krispie Bars

Strawberries and cream rice krispie bars are the ultimate no-bake dessert for Valentine's Day. Not only are there only 5 ingredients, but these can be made in less than 15 minutes. They contain no artificial colors or flavors, making these treats fun and kid-friendly! Freeze-dried strawberries give these treats their pink color and an intense strawberry flavor.

Sweet, delicious and naturally red and white, strawberries and cream is the perfect pairing for Valentine's Day. The combination of freeze-dried strawberries and white chocolate chips are added to the classic recipe of rice krispie treats to create this festive dessert. To make it super-special and a little extra decadent, drizzle some chocolate over the top. You could stop there, but I tossed on a dash of colorful sprinkles to add to the Valentine's theme! Of course, if you are trying to avoid artificial colors, avoid the sprinkles.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Valentine's day is around the corner, and I asked fans on Facebook whether I should post a recipe for cookies or rice krispies. They came back with a mixed response, so I said I would share a cookie recipe this week, and share a fun red and white rice krispie recipe next week. Thinking about the colors and emotions that Valentine's day conveys, I knew I wanted to include something red in my cookies and include warming spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. I had been tinkering with a cranberry oatmeal cookie recipe for some time now, and I decided it would be the perfect treat for Valentine's day.

If you are not familiar with cardamom, it is spice used frequently in Scandinavian and Eastern Indian cuisines, and is one of the prominent spices of Chai tea, and is said to be an aphrodisiac in some cultures. I love using it in baked goods and in ice creams, it pairs extremely well with citrus and tart fruits, and is a welcome compliment to other baking spices.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sweet(heart) Welcome Sign #SCBH2015

This post is part of the first Spring Craft Blog Hop featuring Valentine's day and Mardi Gras crafts, DIY, and d├ęcor! We would love to have your posts added to our link up. Link up runs through February 17th, and is shared on 18 wonderful blogs.

When I think of Valentine's day, the first thing that comes to my mind is candy hearts and chocolate boxes. What can I say, I love food! But of course, I'm trying to watch what I eat to lose some extra weight, so I won't be enjoying TOO many sweets and treats this Valentine's Day. What I will be enjoying is this sweet heart-shaped welcome sign, reminiscent of everyone's favorite 1,000 calorie box of goodies.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Meal Plan Monday: Welcome February

Happy Groundhog day! Did the groundhog see his shadow where you live? Welcome to the first Meal Plan Monday in February! Man, how January flew by. I got 11 blog posts out, you can see them all here if you missed any! February looks just as promising, with another edition of the Spring Craft Blog Hop coming a few weeks.

Today is Monday, meaning we are going meatless! Do you know that going meatless at least once a week can reduce your carbon footprint and reduce your grocery bill? It also encourages eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, which we all know is good for us. I also attribute my commitment to meatless dinners to my kid's (and husband's) willingness to try new foods.

Need help getting your kids to be less picky? Kristen at Mommy In Sports and Lauren at Oh, Honestly share tips to get their children to try #onenewfood monthly. This month: Butternut Squash [Oh Honestly] [Mommy in Sports].

Keep reading to see what we are having this week:

Valentine's Day Decor Round-up - Wreaths and Banners

Welcome February! Will the groundhog see his shadow today or will we be blessed by an early Spring? It has been a dry winter, so I hope spring brings rain. Lots of rain. Enough rain to help boost California out of this drought would be nice. 
Speaking of spring, have you linked up the Spring Craft Blog Hop yet? Get your Valentine's day, Mardi Gras, or President's day inspired craft or DIY tutorials seen on 18 blogs. It's not too late to link up! This blog hop will run until February 17th. I have been enjoying all of your links so far, so keep them coming!
Need inspiration for decorating for Valentine's Day? I've included 12 fun wreaths and banners that celebrate the theme of Valentine's day. Like what you see? Please visit the blogs and share some love.