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Monday, August 21, 2017

A Day at Malabar Farm with the Kids

A few Sundays ago we decided to re-visit Malabar Farms in Richland County, Ohio. We have been numerous times in the past, but it seems that since the kids were born our visits have grown fewer and further between.

As a Louis Bromfield fan, I love to not only check out the house but also to stroll the scenic, Pleasant Valley farm.  The property has a lot to offer, making it a destination that can appeal to everyone.

When we arrived, we had to visit the playground area. The kids were entertained by the large tractor, slide, and swings. After a few moments of leg stretching and playing, we took a walk to the barn, where we petted cats, cooed over baby goats and checked out some lazy cows.



From there we admired the house, from outside.



We strolled to the Pugh Cabin and continued back to the cave formation.  The walk was ideal on a late Sunday afternoon as traffic was minimal. As a parent, I truly appreciate a walk in the woods, so this was one of my favorite parts of the adventure.



The kids were tired upon arrival of the gift shop. We chatted up the lobby bird, strolled the shop and picked up a snack of fudge.

Snack excluded, this was a completely free adventure. They do not charge admission to visit the grounds of Malabar farm, but the house tour does hold a fee.



If you go, plan to drive to the top of nearby Mount Geez for a breathtaking view of Plesant Valley. Stop by the cemetery on the farm to pay your respects to Bromfield, and don't forget to check out famed Pugh cabin from the film, the Shawshank Redemption. You might also want to peek at the infamous Ceely Rose house.



You might also enjoy this guide on activities in the Richland County area for kids.

Monday, August 14, 2017

School Bus Snack

This easy school bus snack is the perfect way to welcome a new school year!

This post contains affiliate links.



Back to school is an exciting time for both kids and parents! This year my youngest is excited to begin her first year at preschool! My oldest, he says he must be most excited about lunch or the bus, he can't decide. I appreciate his honesty.

To take their excitement to a new level, we made a delicious and easy school bus snack to the delight of the kids!

This is so easy you guys! The kids can build these and they will love munching on them too!



Ingredients:
1 to 2 teaspoons of yellow frosting, any kind will do!
2 Nilla Wafers
1 Graham Cracker
4 Rice Chex pieces


Instructions:
Spread the frosting on the graham cracker
Add the Nilla Wafers as the wheels for the bus


Add the Chex cereal pieces as the windows


Enjoy!


This was a fun way to get the kids involved in making their own snacks and we might have played with our food just a little!

Do you have a fun back to school snack idea to share? I would love to hear about it in a comment!


You might also like this fun handprint fish puppet craft.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Help Buying a Second Car

As my children grow, I realize that the days of lazy afternoons at home, feeling content with coloring or building a fort are fewer and farther between. The kids are busy; there are practices, games and appointments, play dates and parties to make it to. Errands to run and of course, events to attend.

We had always prided ourselves on being a one car family. It worked for us when the kids were tiny and mommy was their entire world. But these days, being a one car family is a big inconvenience! The time has come for us to consider a new car, one that is roomier and easier on gas, and of course that can handle all of that running!

This post has been sponsored by cars.com, but the chit chat is all mine!

Mom! Can we buy this one?!


Buying a new car is a big deal! It can be an overwhelming big deal too! As soon as you step foot on a car lot, you know that they want to sell you something you might not want. That alone can deter the bravest shoppers. With those 2 growing kids, shopping for daily needs can be tough, let alone shopping for a major purchase! Car shopping seems to make me anxious. Can you tell!?

When I got to know cars.com, a lot of my worries subsided. I can actually shop for a car on my terms, from my house.  This is a game changer to say the least. There are so many ways to find the car of your dreams on the site. From new and used cars, to a color, make, or style. You can even narrow it down by distance. If I don't want to drive more than 20 miles to get our new family car, I don't have to!

We are still dragging my feet  browsing, it has been 7 years since we bought a car, so maybe we are out of practice. If you have any tips for buying the car of your dreams, please leave a comment. If you have used cars.com   let me know how it helped you find a great deal on a great car!
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

How to Rock a Hurricane Like a Boss

This most may contain affiliate links.

Hurricane season is here and many of our readers are in the path of the latest storm. While it is a major pain in the hiney to face a tropical storm or a hurricane, have no fear wonderful people. I am going to share a few of my tips to help you handle this hurricane and any others that come your way like a boss in reasonable style and comfort, given the situation.



Stock Up!
Ok, I know the experts are going to say buy things like bottled water and tuna fish, but come on people. Drastic weather calls for comfort. Instead of getting in a fist fight over the last cans of spam on the store shelves, let's get real. No one wants to eat spam in good weather, let alone terrible weather. Buy all of the pop tart's, granola bars, cold cereal and snack cakes you can get your hands on. Buy soda, booze and single serve fruit juice drinks. Buy candy, coffee singles that are like tea bags, and shelf stable milk. Buy the damn doritos and bean dips like there is no tomorrow.

Kiss Your Ice Goodbye
Accept that ice is going to be something you want, but don't have. Do not stand in line at the gas station for an hour for a bag of ice, just will yourself to go without it. I once paid $10 for a bag of ice and got a handful of laffy taffy as my change. Never again. Ice ain't worth $10, no matter how hot it might be outside.

Run, Don't Walk, to the Sporting Good Store
No, I am not crazy. But I am going to give you a tip to help you keep your cool. Buy as many cooling towels as you possibly can. There are these great ones out there by Mission that will make life feel a little cooler in the sweltering temps while you wait on your power and beloved air conditioning to return.

Dust Off the Board Games
In 2004 we lost power for a week during a hurricane, 2 weeks later we lost power for another week during a second hurricane. We played board games with reckless abandon. We battled it out over every game we could get our hands on and somehow we survived a week without electric, air conditioning, television and gasp even our phones as charging them was nearly impossible.

When In Doubt...
Fondue
Get your booty to the hardware store for denatured alcohol right now if you have a fondue set. If not, Get. One. Now. You can heat soup, make ramen noodles and even brew hot coffee if you have a handy dandy fondue set. You will be the envy of your friends and neighbors if they get a whiff of some hot soup, oatmeal or whatever cooking. If they smell your hot coffee, look out  cause you might just become block president or something if you are willing to share. I am not certain, but I would be willing to guess that in a pinch votive candles would heat a fondue pot nicely if you can't get the Denatured Alcohol easily.

What are your pro tips for riding out the storm? Do tell so that everyone can hunker down with minimal annoyances and maximum comfort!
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

8 Awesome Ways to Eat Hot Dogs

Hot dogs and summer time are a match made in heaven. This year, your options aren't limited to grilled, boiled or baked! I have rounded up 8 Awesome Ways to Eat Hot Dogs that I know you are going to love!

This post contains affiliate links.



I love a good hot dog! From a sloppy chili dog to a simple grilled dog with peppers and onions! I started checking out some of my favorite blogs to get hot dog inspiration and what I discovered is a total game changer in the dog department!

From pineapple topped dogs to a mouth watering pizza recipe; this collection of recipes is sure to please hot dog fanatics all summer long!

Firecracker Hot Dogs
Buffalo Wing Hot Dogs
Cheesy Hot Dog Tartlets
Fried Hot Dog Sliders
Mexican Style Dogs
Chili Cheese Dog Pizza
Hawaiian Hot Dogs 
Philly Cheese Steak Dogs



Which of these recipes sounds the yummiest to you?

Homemade Rice Pudding

This rice pudding recipe comes together in about 35 minutes and will impress your family in ways that the pre packaged variety of this classic dessert could only dream of!


This post contains affiliate links.


If you like rice or pudding, you are going to love this recipe for homemade rice pudding! It comes together easily and creates a deliciously economical dessert that your family will love!

I usually purchase Rice Pudding in a container and feel content with it, but a few days ago, I was inspired to try my hand at making it myself. The process was simple and the results were marvelous!

Cooks Tips

  • I used long grain rice. If you have another variety, feel free to use it and adjust the cook time.
  • You can use raisins or craisins in this recipe if you like. 
  • I like to top my rice pudding with cinnamon, brown sugar makes a sweet addition too!
  • This dessert serves deliciously both warm and cold!
  • If you like it cold, store in a sealed container for up to 3 days, if it lasts that long!




Ingredients:
3/4 cup uncooked white rice
2 cups milk, divided
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Bring 1 3/4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan; stir rice into boiling water. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

In a clean saucepan, combine cooked rice, 1 1/2 cups milk, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, 15 to 18 minutes.

Stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk and beaten egg; cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

Top with cinnamon or raisins if desired. Serve warm or cold, per preference.




More Yummy Rice Pudding Recipes

Pumpkin Pie Rice Pudding {Tastes of Lizzy T}
Hawaiian Rice Pudding {Shaken Together}
Mexican Chocolate Rice Pudding {This Silly Girl's Life}




Pie Crust Cookies

If you need a treat in a flash that is low in sugar but packed with buttery flavor, this pie crust cookie recipe is one that you will want to check out!


When I was a kid, sometimes my grandma would bake a pie. That was always nice, but the true treat was her pie crust. After she trimmed her crust to fit her pie plate, she would sprinkle to excess with cinnamon and sugar and bake it up. She called it cracklins and let me tell you, this is the flavor that I reminisce on as an adult.
The only bad part about cracklins was how few and far between they were! 

A few months ago, my kids were begging for treats, so I stood in my kitchen surveying the options. We were low on baking supplies, but my mind wandered back to this simple treat for childhood. I decided I would just make a pie crust and make something fantastic.


While at first, my family was skeptical that pie crust cookies could actually be good, now they beg me to make these at least once a month! The recipe is similar to a shortbread, it is so easy to make that anyone could make these!
Ingredients
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup of chilled butter
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of ice water
1/4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball.
Roll dough out until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick
Sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar and slice into chunks, strips, wedges, whatever!
 Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.





Putting Together a New Summer Wardrobe on a Tight Budget


Putting Together a New Summer Wardrobe on a Tight Budget
Once you get used to it, living on a budget is not all that bad. You soon learn how to adapt and find new ways to get what you need or want.

Take for example putting together a stylish summer wardrobe. This is surprisingly easy to do even when you do not have a lot of spare cash available.
Focus on separates
The key to dressing well, at any time of the year, on a budget is to put separates at the centre of your wardrobe. Taking this approach allows you to create more outfits using just a few items of clothing.
For example, if you buy a skirt and three tops you potentially have 4 outfits. More, once you learn how to accessorise them in different ways.
This year, it is particularly easy for you to take this approach. As you can see here there are plenty of summer skirts available in the shops. Having so much choice makes it really easy to create the look you want. Potentially a nice midi style pencil skirt, made from a soft material, can be paired with a formal jacket and easily be worn to work. At the weekends it can be worn with sandals and a brightly coloured top, to create a more casual look. Skirts are surprisingly versatile items of clothing.
Two pairs of shoes is usually enough
For the summer months, you only really need two pairs of shoes. A pair of sandals to wear on hot days and a pair of closed in shoes for cooler days. Perhaps a pair of low court style shoes, so you can wear them to the office.
Choose clothes that match
Try to choose a simple colour palette to use as a basis for your summer wardrobe. Doing this will help to make sure that you buy clothes that can easily be mixed and matched. This will enable you to create many different outfits with relatively few items of clothing.I know that this sounds obvious, but most of us simply do not shop in this way. Instead, we tend to go out and buy entire outfits and rarely think about whether what we are buying will fit in well with the clothes that we already own.

Invest in good accessories
Using accessories well will allow you to create more looks using just a few items of clothing. You can find out more about how to choose the right accessories and use them to update your wardrobe by reading this article.
Use what you already own
Making use of the items of summer clothing that you already own will help you to keep costs under control. You will be surprised at how often you can rework what you already own to fit in with this season’s look. Often, it is as simple as wearing it with different accessories. Sometimes you will need to change the garment in some way. For example, dyeing an item, so it fits in better with this season´s colour palette or changing the cut slightly.
As you can see, when it comes to putting together an attractive summer wardrobe, there is a lot you can do even when you do not have a fortune to spend.







Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Stress Less and Smile More: Simple Steps to a Healthier You

Every blogger these days seem to talk about health. They answer questions on how to improve one’s running technique, where to find that motivation to exercise on a Wednesday, and whether or not a banana is an alright snack choice. Even though we all could use a bit of advice on how to keep active, and certainly on how to look all light and energized when jogging, people forget about the most important aspect of health.


A healthy person is happy, and free of stressful thoughts - when they do occur, she knows how to handle them.


pexels-photo-135013.jpeg
Image from: Pexels


This post is here to help you keep smiling, and as a reminder to spend as much time on boosting our mental health as we spend on maintaining our physical health. It will give you a bit more energy, you know, and the strength to face difficulties with grace.


Beat Procrastination


A big influence to our stressed out selves is procrastination. Now that it’s summer, you might find yourself even deeper in the mouth of the beast - and to put off something till tomorrow feels more like a treat than it really is. Get started on it, even if you just do ten minutes of work, and you’ll find that continuing is a lot easier.


A lot of people today are in a state of constant stress over money problems, and it’s a good idea to seek professional help if it gets the best of you; find debt help through a consolidation loan or have a look at this helpful article to sort out your finances as soon as humanly possible.


The Journal


To keep a journal is the adult equivalent of keeping a diary. No, it’s really not - it’s the exact same thing, and a journal is filled with just as much emotional blabber as a teenager’s diary, the same amount of hearts and glitter. A lot of teenagers are advised to keep a diary as it helps them to connect with their turbulent emotions and express their feelings; for some odd reason, people seem to think that we don’t need this anymore when we grow up.


As adults, we’re supposed to be perfectly in sync and harmonious at all times - even without keeping a diary. Find back to your inner teenager and start a journal nonetheless; it’s proven to make you mentally stronger and is pure therapy for your mind. It is, perhaps, not that strange that lovestruck teenagers worldwide are doodling away their emotions and finding an outlet in creativity.


It’s not only good for relieving you of stress, by the way, it’s really great news for your mental capacity too. To indulge in something creative, such as painting, writing, or creating music can actually change the patterns of your brain and strengthen your immune system. We still don’t know everything there is about the human brain, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise if creativity has, even more, benefits to it than this.


Observing and creating art


It’s a misconception that, in order to be artistic, you need to be exceptionally talented. Everyone can create something - and it doesn’t have to be particularly good, original, beautiful or life-changing to be creative. Think about it this way; today and tomorrow you’ll have produced a number of thoughts in your head. Most of them are the exact same every single day - actually, around 95 % of them are.


When you’re allowing your creative self to take over the steering wheel for a bit, you’re entering a state that’s close to meditation. All of those repetitive and useless thoughts are pushed aside - you are focusing on something more important. By the time you’re done working on your, erm, masterpiece, it will feel like waking up again to a fresh and renewed mind.


If you’re not interested in creating something quite yet, you can reap similar benefits by just observing art. Read an excellent book, listen to music, have an exceptional cup of coffee or go to the theatre, and you’re already becoming a healthier and happier you.

What about creating something and then enjoying it yourself? It’s the only way to go when you’re the biggest and only fan you’ve got. Oscar Wilde would have been proud of you; like he said himself, he never traveled without his diary - as one should always have something sensational to read on the train.
Monday, July 31, 2017

Freedom to Be Me This Summer

Summer is here and we are on the go! We have been out camping, watching ball games, stopping for ice cream and of course, playing at every park and playground we can find! With so much going on in our daily summer lives, the last thing I need is to stress about my clothes.



This post was made possible via my ambassadorship with Dryel. I was compensated to use the product.

I want to look my best, always, no matter if I am sitting around a campfire with friends, smiling for a photo opp with ice cream covered kids or appearing in a video or at an event as a blogger. These days I can wear what I want, no matter where life takes me. I have a secret weapon in my laundry arsenal that keeps me looking good and keeps my clothes in tip top shape. I am a Dryel Mom.


I Dryel my jeans to keep them looking new without stretching or shrinking. I Dryel my tops and save a fortune without going to the dry cleaner. I Dryel my skirts and they come out as crisp as could be in a matter of minutes. I carry a Dryel pen in my bag for those spur of the moment spots, stains and spills, so that when life happens on my favorite skirt, I don't need to sweat it, I can spot clean on the go and keep looking as cool as a cucumber!



Dryel is easy to use, easy to find in stores and it saves me so much time and stress! I am more than pleased with the results and the savings of time, money and my favorite outfits that Dryel offers to my family!

No matter what you are wearing or where life is taking you this summer, Dryel is ready to give you the freedom to wear what you want, no matter where the adventure takes you!

You can learn more about fabric care, where to buy and how to use Dryel by visiting them on social or on the Dryel site.
Saturday, July 29, 2017

Chicken and Mushroom Sandwich

A few weeks ago, I realized that my grocery budget needed a major overhaul. Summer is here and my expenses always double in the summer. From utilities to entertainment; gasoline and groceries. You name it, with my entire family home for 3 months, it is going to cost more!

Thanks to BFree for sending product to use in this recipe! Be Free offers wheat and gluten free options ranging from pita to bagels, breads and rolls.

This year, I want to enjoy having my son and husband home with Harper and I. Sometimes, money stress really hampers our summer fun. So, I began examining our expenses and finding ways to cut them where possible without sacrificing any standard of living... well lets be honest, standard of eating!

I made it my mission to uncover great meals for a family of 2 adults and 2 preschool-ish age kids that would cost us less than $7 total.

$7 seems like a cheap meal right? Originally I thought about doing $5 meals, but I doubted I could produce delicious and nutritious meals on such a tight budget. We are not big beans and rice eaters. The possibilities have been promising so far on this inexpensive gourmet mission. I incorporate sale items into my menu to maximize my savings and to get the best use of fresh ingredients.


Sandwiches are a great option for any meal. They are fun to eat and they tie so many good flavors together! There is no shortage of sandwiches you can make! If you can dream it, make it and eat it! This is another one of those incredibly yummy and easy recipes that you can create for under $7. I loved that it created minimal dirty dishes in the preparation process and that the sandwich was substantial enough to make a meal on its own.





Ingredients
1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast sliced thin or diced into small chunks.
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup of shredded cheese
8 slices of your choice sandwich bread, I used BFree Brown Seeded Sandwich Bread
Spicy Brown Mustard

Directions
 Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a frying pan. Cook thinly sliced chicken breast thoroughly.

As your chicken is browning, saute sliced mushrooms until they are a golden color.

When your chicken is ready add the cheese and allow to melt.

Add spicy brown mustard to the bread. Add cheesy chicken to the bread and top with mushrooms.
Serve while hot.


Do you ever serve hot sandwiches for dinner? What is your favorite kind to prepare?



You might also like my Elvis Sandwich Recipe or My Peanut Butter Chicken recipe. 


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Explore magical London on the Thames


Explore magical London on the Thames  
There's nothing as romantic and as stylish as a cruise into the sunset with VIP service. The River Thames cuts through London in the most iconic landmarks of the city, such as the Houses of Parliament, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, the Docklands and the Millennium Dome. Admit it, once in a while you like to be treated like a toff. Our experienced wait staff and sommeliers will stop at nothing but the best service for you. The Thames dinner cruise is a paradigm shift on date night. It makes for the most memorable date without the claustrophobic environment of a restaurant.
Why Choose the Thames River cruise?
The ambiance
The laid back relaxing breeze of the River Thames and the view of the sun as it begins to dip over yonder are intimate if not breath taking. The cruises have live entertainment playing from the in-house singer, which will create the best mood for a romantic dinner. You get your private table and waiter who will serve you until the end of the cruise when you choose to end your night with a dance. The ever changing background starting from Big Ben to Millennium dome will also deliver an ambient environment for your dinner.
The Menu
Your four course a la carte meal will be served with a broad range of items from entrees to dessert. All the food is prepared fresh on board the cruise by a master chef. Enjoy generous servings of what is an adventurous palate. The menus are diverse and can cater for all special dietary requirements on prior notice. Ad hoc groups such as vegetarians and gluten-free meals are also available. Menus for Large groups of 21 or more people require to be set in advance, but allowance is given for individuals to change their dinners.
Packages and events
A quick check on thamesdinnercruise.co.uk will show you that this cruise has packages for everyone. You get three trim levels of classic, premier, and signature, each with its unique items. The signature package is the most exclusive package going for 135 pounds per person. Packages for lunch and breakfast are also available with menus for both adults and children. Recorded informative commentary is also available for the day cruises. Bookings and themes for a special event such as birthdays, valentine's day, anniversaries and mother's day are also available.
Scheduling and boats
The Thames River cruise runs a rigorous schedule with zero delays on the two boats Harmony and Symphony. The two boats feature unique designs to provide a 360-degree view. The symphony has a lower and upper deck making it synonymous with corporate events, dinners and other special occasions. Their interior designs are also aimed at creating that intimate environment for a memorable romantic cruise.
Conclusion
The Thames dinner cruise is an elegant out of the box dining experience. It provides a unique dinner with exotic meals in an ambient environment. It is an experience of lavishness and comfort reminiscent of movies like The Love Boat and The Titanic, and is worth experiencing.
Bio
John Bold is a seasoned chef and traveller. He spends his time exploring and finding the best of the food industry. He has a passion for outdoor eating and camping. For more information, visit this website thamesdinnercruise.co.uk