Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Stitch Fix: April Fix Review and Reveal

April is almost over and I don't want to miss sharing my April Stitch Fix Box with you. I received my Stitch Fix box a few weeks ago, but then got swept up in weekend barbecues and other things, so I've had this draft on hold. I got some great pieces this month and could have easily kept the entire fix (and used the 25% off discount). I've been using Stitch Fix as a styling service since December, and I've gotten some classic versatile pieces to add to my wardrobe, without having to tow a three year old with me to the mall.

Haven't heard of Stitch Fix before? Stitch Fix is an innovative styling service that pairs real stylists with online clients, sending you 5 handpicked pieces each Fix that your stylist thinks you will love. You fill out a style profile online, and provide detailed feedback for each piece you are sent, whether you chose to keep it or return it. With each fix, your stylist learns a little bit more about you to tailor-make your fixes to fit your style.

Stitch Fix April Review and Reveal at Creative Mama Messy House
**This review is in full 100% my own opinion. I am writing this review out of personal interest only, and I'm in no way being compensated by Stitch Fix, or any other third party. That said, if you choose to sign up for your own Stitch Fix deliveries using the links provided on this site, you will be using my referral code. What does that mean: You will still pay the same price for your fixes, but I will receive a $25 credit when your first fix ships.**

Monday, April 27, 2015

Fudgy Dark Chocolate Cherry Brownies

Last week, I swapped recipes with Deb from Bowl Me Over. She shared a light and delicious Cheesy Vegetable Soup recipe with us that I can't wait to try soon. I brought her a rich and fudgy Dark Chocolate Cherry Brownie recipe that is too good to miss. Dark chocolate chunks, chewy dried cherries, and crunchy cocoa nibs are loaded into a simple fudge brownie batter. I first made this recipe to help celebrate with my sister and brother-in-law their soon-to-be new arrival to the family.

Fudgy Chocolate Cherry Brownies. So good, you'll be amazed. If you like chocolate and cherries (who doesn't?) you need this recipe!

Yup, I'm going to be an aunt! My mom hosted a barbecue to celebrate, and we got a surprise during dessert! I will be welcoming a niece in September. The outdoor setting on an 80 degree afternoon in April was the perfect way to celebrate. My dad grilled up a heap of ribs and chicken, and we (of course) had way too many chocolate desserts.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Signs of Spring: Favorites from the Spring Craft Blog Hop III, week 6

April is almost over, does it feel like springtime yet? We're in the sixth week of the current Spring Craft Blog Hop, and each week new projects are being added! You guys have been busy creating beautiful crafts exemplifying the signs of spring. If only I could showcase them all! I've picked five of my favorites to show to you. This week, I found projects ranging from spring wreaths to planter ideas and even a free printable. Be sure to visit these bloggers and let them know how lovely their projects are!

We're into our third edition of the Spring Craft Blog Hop, our biggest and longest hop of the series. Each week, I will highlight five of the crafts linked up from bloggers around the interwebs. Be sure to stop by the party each week to see all the new crafts that have been linked up, and add your own as well!
What does spring look like where you are at? For us, it means plentiful sunshine, spring blooms, and lots of ladybugs. S-bug lives up to his nickname, on more than one occasion I've had a ladybug or two inside the house. The seasonal Farmer's Markets are all opening, and its picnic brunch weather. Speaking of picnic brunches, Mother's Day is coming up around the corner. Do you have a May Day or Mother's Day craft that you would like to share? Link it up at the hop now through May 25.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cheesy Vegetable Soup: Guest Recipe from Deb

Today, I'm turning my kitchen over to Deb from Bowl Me Over for a recipe swap. A fellow Californian with similar food philosophies, she created a fast and easy vegetable soup, perfect for getting anyone to eat more vegetables! I love her combination of peppers, mushroom and zucchini among all the other yummy veggies in this soup. And like she says, it's versatile! Choose whichever vegetables you have available to you seasonally and make this soup.

Be sure to visit Deb at Bowl Me Over to see the dessert I shared with her this week!

Let me start by thanking Renee for the opportunity to share a recipe with you!  I'm "Souper" Chef Deb from Bowl Me Over.   Why Souper Chef Deb do you ask? Well, it's a little play on words as many of the recipes I write end up in a bowl and today is no different! The recipe I'd like to share with you is Cheesy Vegetable Soup.
Cheesy Vegetable Soup, guest recipe from Souper Chef Deb at Bowl Me Over
You don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy this soup! Because we're getting closer to summer, I'm lightening things up and leaving out the meat, but just because it's meatless, don't think it doesn't bring the flavor.  This soup is mighty tasty AND it's done in just 30 minutes! 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Meal Plan Monday- April #3

This week's meal plan is full of easy dinners that both kids and adults can enjoy, thanks to plenty of non-recipe suggestions from this post over at Pick Any Two. Getting the kids involved with dinner prep is fun for all and teaches valuable life skills. Even the youngest kids can get involved sprinkling cheese, washing lettuce, and other small tasks. Most of this week's dinners can be prepared within a short window of time, so we'll have plenty of time to do other activities with our longer daylight hours.

Between daily walks and visits to the park, we've had plenty of time to enjoy the bountiful sunshine that we've be having here in Northern California. Later today, I'm headed to the first family barbeque of the season. I baked up a batch of delicious brownies loaded with chocolate and cherries (which I'll be sharing this week in a guest post) to bring. You do not want to miss the recipe! Also, my April Stitch Fix came in, and I'm aiming to get my monthly review out this week or early next week.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Signs of Spring: Favorites from the Spring Craft Blog Hop III, week 5

I hope you didn't miss my Friday Favorites too much last week. The kids were on Spring Break and we ended up being out and about for most of the week. The Spring Craft Blog Hop is still going strong, and now that Easter has passed, let's see some more Earth Day and Mother's Day crafts! Did you see my dip-dyed canvas bags I shared earlier in the week? Made with 100% recycled cotton, they are perfect for saving the planet, one shopping bag at a time.

We're into our third edition of the Spring Craft Blog Hop, our biggest and longest hop of the series. Each week, I will highlight five of the crafts linked up from bloggers around the interwebs. Be sure to stop by the party each week to see all the new crafts that have been linked up, and add your own as well!
Since Earth Day is coming up on Tuesday, I thought it would be fun to share some of the recycled crafts that have been linked up to the Spring Craft Blog Hop so far. Have a recycled craft of your own you that you would like to have more exposure? You can link it up at the hop now through May 25.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Apple and Tarragon Chicken Salad

Apple and Tarragon Chicken Salad is one of my favorite uses for leftover roast chicken. I roast a chicken every few weeks, it makes a satisfying dinner one night and the leftover breast meat gets tossed into pastas, salads, and enchiladas. Chicken salad makes a excellent lunch option, and even an easy dinner option when the weather gets too warm to cook. Apples, pecans, and fresh tarragon give this chicken salad enough pizzazz to entertain with, but its easy enough to create for lunch any day of the week.

Apple and Tarragon Chicken Salad - this will be your new favorite chicken salad recipe. Tender white meat chicken, sweet apples, pecans, and fresh tarragon in a light greek yogurt dressing.
Plain, nonfat Greek yogurt creates the binder, so no mayonnaise is needed. Substituting Greek yogurt also adds extra protein (27g per serving) and keeps the fat content low (9g per serving). Most of the fat comes from the pecans, omit them and you bring the fat down to only 2g per serving. Pecans aren't your thing? You can use almonds, walnuts, or omit the nuts completely.

Perfect for Mother's Day lunch or a spa weekend retreat! Apple and Tarragon Chicken Salad with a tangy greek yogurt dressing (no mayo!)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dip Dyed Reusable Canvas Bags

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. We all recognize the three "R"s that we learned in grade school. Earth Day is around the corner and its time to get thinking about reducing, reusing, and recycling. Using recycled cotton canvas bags while shopping is a great way to reduce our waste while doing routine activities. These bags are sturdy enough for the heaviest groceries, and are 100% reusable and machine washable. I dip-dyed a few of my favorite canvas totes to add a little color and fun into my shopping routine, and today I'm sharing them with you.

DIY Dip-Dyed Reusable Canvas Bags - reduce waste by bringing your own shopping bags to the market.
Canvas bags don't have to be boring. Being made from 100% cotton means that these bags can be dyed, decorated, and otherwise customized to fit your personality. I chose to dip-dye my bags with an ombre effect in two different colors. These fun, vibrant bags are great for taking along to the grocery store, to the Farmer's Market, or even packing up to take to a picnic in the park.

I started shopping with reusable bags because I was sick of the waste from one-time use plastic bags.  Shopping with reusable bags is becoming a way of life for many Californians. While the state can't agree on a unified plastic bag ban, many cities in California have adopted bans on plastic grocery bags. My town adopted a plastic bag ban in January 2014, meaning they stopped providing plastic bags to customers and charge 10 cents per paper bag and offer reusable bags at most registers for a fee.

Don't pay for paper bags in the grocery stores! DIY Dip-Dyed Canvas Bags

Who wants to pay more at the grocery store? I sure don't!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - April #2

I'm so thankful to be back to the daily grind after Spring Break! While my teenager might not feel the same way, I need to get back to my regular routine. I allowed myself to sleep in an extra hour all of last week, and then I was kicking myself about losing that extra hour. Since I'm not a morning person, I need the motivation of getting the kids to school to get up early. As the school year comes to a close, my next thought is: How am I ever going to survive the summer?

Getting meal planning scheduled gets me ahead during the week, especially when I stick to a consistent routine. I can grocery shop for the week in one trip, and stock my freezer and pantry accordingly. It also allows me to think ahead so I'm not rushing about at 5:30 trying to figure out how to feed my family before the "I'm Hungry" grumbling starts.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Iced Green Tea with Ginger Mint Syrup

Warmer weather is the all that I need spend more time outdoors, and entertaining is the perfect excuse to create fun drink to share with all of our friends. When I think of drinks to entertain with, I think of light and refreshing sippers that can be enjoyed outside. Iced green tea with ginger mint simple syrup is one of those drinks. It balances green tea with the stimulating flavors of ginger and mint, making it mandatory for your summer gatherings. Try the ginger mint simple syrup with more than just green tea, it is sublime over berries and would make an intoxicating combination paired with fresh-squeezed lemonade
An exceptional summertime sipper! Iced Green Tea with Ginger Mint Syrup. Not too sweet, but very refreshing!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Get the Best Sleep of your Life: 6 Healthy Sleep Tips

Sleep can set the routine for the whole day. Waking alert and rested can put you in a successful frame of mind, and prepares you to tackle the day. As part of my Get Healthy 2015 series, with collaboration from Casper Mattress, I am sharing some helpful tips to get more restful sleep at night. Being a busy mom and blogger, and naturally a night owl, getting enough sleep isn't an easy task for me. I have incorporated these 6 tips into my daily routine to help ease transition from being awake to falling asleep, to wake up more rested.

Get the Best Sleep of your Life: 6 Healthy Tips to Fall Asleep Easier

*Disclosure: I was asked to write an article on my best sleep tips and tricks for Sleep Awareness Week by a representative at Casper, a sleep start-up company. I was not compensated in any way. This article is written 100% by me and includes my honest opinion that was in no way influenced by a third party. For even more tips to ease you to sleep, visit the blog at Casper.*

Monday, April 6, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - April #1

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter yesterday! We survived our first egg hunt (even with the bit of rain we had) and didn't go candy crazy, but treats were involved. We celebrated with an afternoon full of family and food, and even squeezed in a walk and a nap. The kids are on Spring Break this week, so hopefully I'll have plenty of time to work on my April recipes and projects. Keep an eye out for some drink recipes this month and a craft featuring reusable shopping bags.

Does the warmer weather of spring inspire you to eat lighter? I'm making two meatless meals instead of our usual 1, partly because we all ate too much at yesterday's events. Later this week, I'm trying some pinned recipes featuring fresh and healthy ingredients.

Meal Plan Monday for April 6 - 12 at Creative Mama Messy House

Friday, April 3, 2015

Signs of Spring: Favorites from the Spring Craft Blog Hop III, week 3

Easter is this Sunday, hooray! I'm bringing you more featured crafts from the Spring Craft Blog Hop, just in time for Easter. I've shopped for Easter basket goodies, and today we are dying eggs and getting our final touches for Easter Sunday. If you still need some last minute Easter Egg ideas, my friend Christie put together a fabulous round-up of egg projects!
Favorites from the Spring Craft Blog Hop, week 3
We're into our third edition of the Spring Craft Blog Hop, our biggest and longest hop of the series. Each week, I will highlight five of the crafts linked up from bloggers around the interwebs. Be sure to stop by the party each week to see all the new crafts that have been linked up, and add your own as well!

Because Easter is this weekend, I decided to share these fun crafts with you, just in time! I know I've mentioned before how much I love link-ups for the chance to meet new bloggers, so this week I'm sharing 4 crafts from bloggers never featured at Creative Mama Messy House before, and some awesome entertaining tips from one of the co-hosts of the Spring Craft Blog Hop.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Spring Green Vegetable Pasta Primavera

Springtime is the perfect time to go back to nature and start eating fresher. In many cities, Farmer's Markets are opening as the weather warms and early spring produce is abundant. To celebrate the season, I created a verdant pasta primavera with all things green and in season right now. I chose a combination of vegetables that I knew my family is willing to eat (kale and snap peas). I also added a vegetable that always gets mixed reviews (cauliflower) and introduced a new vegetable to all (fava beans). Pairing this quartet of green vegetables with something I know everyone in my family will eat (pasta) guaranteed no one would turn their nose up and whine about not wanting to eat.

I'll admit that my children can be picky. When I first met my older kids 5 years ago, they would not touch zucchini, or bell peppers, or a number of other vegetables that they readily will eat today. Did you know that it can take up to 10 times of a child trying one new food to adjust to a new taste or texture? Children's palettes are constantly adjusting, and its not always a flavor or texture thing, sometimes they are in an uncooperative mood, there is an even number of peas on their plate, the clouds are covering the sun, etc.

As a parent, I used to take their defiance for not eating vegetables personally. I knew that I had cooked them properly, seasoned them well, used my culinary knowledge to make the food palatable, and still they wouldn't eat it. The more I fought back, the less they would eat. So instead of forcing or demanding that foods be eaten, I just keep serving them. Not all the time, and not always the same ones over and over again. The more they are exposed to a certain vegetable, the more likely they are to try it, and sometimes, they might actually like it!