Dinner, anyone?

My newest obsession is One Pot Meals! So yummy, and I love that there is little prep involved and almost no dishes.

My husband and I work and don’t get home some days until 5:30 pm-6 pm. This leaves very little time to make dinner and actually eat at a decent time before bedtime routine needs to happen.

My coworker told me about One Pot Meals and Pinterest has a ton of them! Some family favorites are:

This easy and creamy One Pot Chicken Alfredo is ready in about 30 minutes - and tastes just as good as a dish that you'd order at your favorite Italian restaurant. Even better? Everything - including the pasta - is cooked in just one pot!:

Even my picky boys ate these up — but the one note my husband made is that the chicken alfredo would have been a home run with some bacon. I love Pasta Carbonara, so that might have to be my own contribution to this One Pot Meal movement 🙂

Try some of them out and let me know what you think!

Valentine’s on a budget

Valentine’s has never been a big deal in our house – a different story when we were dating – but now that we are married and have a kid it just kind of becomes about him.

We have discussed not getting gifts for holidays such as Valentine’s just for the simple reason of saving money. A simple heartfelt card is more than enough. Although, I am still a girl – I would never turn down a bouquet of flowers 🙂 We also don’t typically go out that night because of all the craziness. I don’t have the patience to wait an hour+ for a dinner reservation that needed to be made 6 months in advance! This year, hubby and I had a coffee date two days before and a kid-free lunch, just the two of us. It was perfect.

I enjoy making homemade valentine’s for my kiddo’s school parties -and I have been making non-candy ones the past few years since Jayden really doesn’t need any more candy and gets plenty as is. Here is where Pinterest comes in handy!

Adorable! Bullseye valentines with free printables. A great candy-free classroom treat idea!:

Picture via Pinterest.

His first Valentine’s at school/toddler care I did bullseye arrows. Super easy, print the bullseye on card stock and cut out. Use an exacto-knife to cut two little slits for the pencil to slide in. I found the pencils and cutesy tape in the Target dollar bins, and the eraser topper at the dollar store.

Handmade Valentine: DOH You Want to Be Mine? - The Nerd's Wife:

Picture via Pinterest.

Next up was Play-Doh cards. Again, print cards on card stock and cut out. Then cut out circle in the middle (I used an exacto-knife to start then wiggled small scissors into the slit and was able to cut all the way around). I found the bag of mini Play-Doh tubs at Target (12 or 15 in the bag, can’t remember) and inserted into the hole.

.

Free Star Wars Printable Valentines:

Picture via Pinterest.

This last Valentine’s Day I did light saber cards. Printed the cards on card stock and cut them out, then used a single hole punch to punch out two small holes in the appropriate spots (this varied depending on the design and where I wanted the light saber to go). Once that is done, you slide the glow stick into the holes. I got a pack of 8 glow sticks for $1 at the dollar store – can’t beat that!

My son loved each and every one of these and found them to be really cool – he’s 4! 🙂 I know the time will come that he will want to choose and/or make his own and I am all for it. I gotta say though, I did have lot’s of fun making them! I had so much fun I made a few for the folks at work as well.

I went the candy route this time since I know they all love candy 🙂 I did a combination of two styles to change it up.

Printable Smarties DIY Valentine's Day Cards:

Picture via Pinterest.

AND

I Dig Pinterest: "You are a Gem" Ring Pop Valentine:

Picture via Pinterest. (I did not want to repackage the candy, so i just tied the ribbon around the wrapped ring pop)

Nothing big, just a little something to bring a smile to people’s faces. 🙂

Hope everyone had a fabulous Valentine’s Day — no matter how you celebrate it!!

Halloween Fun

Halloween is a fun time to get dressed up and be a big kid for a night!

20151031_205710

AND enjoy lots and lots of candy! 🙂

Hubby and I were “Partners in Crime” stealing loot for Jayden’s college fund haha and Jayden was a Police Officer – S.W.A.T. team technically.

Snapchat-5864783858456423564

For me it is a lot more stressful leading up to it since I am in charge of our company party for clients, staff, and their families. Halloween typically starts much earlier for me – ordering, scheduling, purchasing. I usually make quite a mess in our office just trying to stock all the things needed for a good 80+ people. Luckily they don’t all come at one time, so we are able to take it somewhat easy on the day of. After the decorating is done, we are able to take a breath and take a look around and enjoy all the smiles of everyone around you enjoying themselves. Then the chaos begins again when it is time to clean up and pack up. Even if it is a ton of work, I still enjoy it and have lots of fun.

Halloween day itself I am able to relax since my mother-in-law typically takes charge of it. We do dinner at her house and then head out for trick-or-treating. This year we decided to try heading to a good section of houses in Agoura Hills that blocks off the streets and just has house after house looking fabulous and handing out yummy goodies. Last year we caught wind of it later in the evening and just got to see a small section of it. This year we started there so I was shocked just how large this all really is. And, O.M.G.! The people! So many people! It was overwhelming at times for me, and it eventually got the best of our little man 😦 Once we got him calmed down we headed over to Grandma’s neighborhood to do a little more mellow trick-or-treating. I wanted to make sure we ended on a good note, and luckily we did. The adults even got a nice jello shot treat at one of the houses! 🙂

halloween

To get into the spirit, I created little goodie bags for each couple, and one for Jayden too.

20151110_202354

I started with these cute chalkboard take-out boxes I found at Joanne’s on clearance (score!). Got some plastic spiders and Hershey Kisses from Target and a spool of orange ribbon from the Dollar Tree. I printed out the tags from a pin I found on Pinterest – I LOVE when they have free printables! 🙂

They were a big hit and so stinkin’ cute- even if I do say so myself!

Transitions: Big-Boy Bed VS Toddler Bed

My husband and I have been talking A LOT about this lately – should we or shouldn’t we upgrade to a “big-boy” bed?

Jayden has been having trouble sleeping in his own bed and has been coming into our bed in the middle of the night. We want him to go back to his usual routine so that we can get some rest too – he is a kicker unfortunately and keeps mommy and daddy up when he joins us.

He is 3, almost 4 and should be able to stay in his own bed. We have tried returning him to his own bed over and over again, but none of us are getting any sleep and it isn’t really working for us. Then there is the whole thing of him now choosing to sleep on the floor in his room. He will grab his pillow and a blanket and transfer to the floor in the middle of his room after we have tucked him into his bed for the night. Not sure what that is about!

kura-reversible-bed-white__0352610_PE544179_S4

The KURA reversible bed from IKEA. Courtesy of http://www.ikea.com

So now I am thinking that having a new big-boy bed and making a big deal about it will help motivate him to stay in it. He has been into making his own decisions lately, so we are planning to take him shopping with us and letting him choose his own bed – with a lot of guidance from mommy and daddy – should do the trick. This way he is somewhat invested in it, rather than just coming home to something new that he is now supposed to like.

He has been loving tree houses/clubhouses/forts, and he even builds them with his blankets using chairs and the couch, so we are looking for somewhat of a tent style bed, maybe a low loft style so he can make a clubhouse out of the bottom half. I have been scouting out Pinterest for inspiration – I liked the idea of creating a little reading nook so he would have a comfy spot to read his books or just relax. Then there is also the idea of creating more toy storage. This would free up some space in the living room turned playroom. Then there is also the idea of letting him use it for a clubhouse. So many ideas to choose from! I may have to do some sort of combination of all three and add some pizzazz to make it extra special.

I’m thinking we will be making the transition sooner rather than later – just hoping for the best! and LOTS more rest 🙂

Snoopy

20150828_144610

Jayden had a couple days off of school so we decided to make one of the days a “family day” and made our way out to Buena Park. Knotts Berry Farm! We probably could have chosen a cooler day to go, as it was at least 98 degrees that day, but when he has no school you make the best of it.

Let me just say, the new parking configuration stinks! I have not been in years, but I do remember that you would drive into the park and the entrance to the parking was to the left, under the bridge. Well, now that lot is for Soak City. Knotts parking is all the way around the hotel. The walk was hot and long. No shuttle. No shade what so ever. Parking is $17… not worth it when you are having to walk all that way just to start your day. They really need to look into getting a shuttle.

A little research goes a long way when trying out these cool Cali attractions. I found out quickly, never buy your tickets at the gate since www.knotts.com gets you some great deals. Also, with it being such a hot day we made use of our next find. Online you can purchase their reusable cup for $4.00 less than at the park. You get free refills your entire first visit and refills are just $0.99 each for future visits. We bought 2 for our group of 4 people and we refilled at least 4 times each. Well worth it when each drink is typically upward of $6 each.

20150828_120443

We started off with the Calico Train that went all around the park for a easy start to our day. The “bandits” are not as rough and tough as I remember, but I liked that since there were a bunch of little kids on our car. Jayden was a bit scared, but did give one guy a fist bump 🙂

20150828_130434

Jaden really enjoyed the Snoopy show in Camp Snoopy. He got to see Lucy, Linus, Charlie Brown, and most importantly he got to see Snoopy! I don’t think he looked away from the stage once. You could tell most of the kids enjoyed the show, so bravo to the Snoopy group for putting on a good show! The only other show we went to was the Cowboy Antics which was slapstick comedy – Jayden seemed to enjoy it after it was all said and done, but during the show he did NOT want to get too close. I don’t blame him. The “gun shots” had me jumping just from the sheer volume, and I knew they were not real. Not too sure what my 3 year old thought. There were a couple other shows that we were hoping to see, but the schedule just didn’t work out for us.

We had a great time in Camp Snoopy! Jayden enjoyed the rides and since it wasn’t too busy was able to finish the ride and pretty much get right back on again, with maybe one round of waiting. Not bad at all! He enjoyed the big truck rides the most and probably the rollercoaster the least – may have been just a bit too much for him. My husband and I enjoyed the fact that we were able to join in the fun and see the joy in Jayden’s face. Lots of smiles that day!

On our way out we of course had to grab a souvenir or two. The problem was they really didn’t have very much stuff in stock. Lots of stuffed animals, and we got Jayden a Snoopy of his own. But we were hoping to get him a shirt too. What kid attraction doesn’t have kid sized clothes available for sale?? They had tons of adult sized stuff, but the kids/toddler section was slim pick in’s. The only thing we found in his size (3T) was pink and girlie so we had to pass. Maybe next time, I guess.

I think Jayden enjoyed Knotts enough to plan a second trip… but maybe this time we will pick a cooler day to go.

Go, Go, Go!

No matter how much time I give myself, the mornings just always seem to go by in a blur. With so many things to do in a short amount of time, it is not a wonder that things get pretty hectic at times.

Here are some ideas to lessen the load in the mornings:

  1. Prepare lunches the night before – while this may seem like a no-brainer, it is not always the easiest thing to remember. I always catch myself saying, “I can do it tomorrow. It will be quick.” But it isn’t. I try to prepare the main component/dish ahead of time, and get the snacks put together in their baggies the night before. I do however save the fruit/veggie component for the morning so that it doesn’t start to oxidize too soon (especially since my little guy loves all kinds of apples – I hate brown apple slices!). Also, make sure if your sippy cups have multiple pieces, that they are all put together so you are not searching for the one crucial piece at the very last moment.
  2. Set aside the next day’s outfit – Have an outfit picked out the night before so you are not wasting time looking for a missing sock, or that particular shirt as you are trying to get out the door in the morning. Even better, have your little one help pick out the outfit – don’t worry you can always steer them in the right direction. And if that doesn’t work, just go with it! This is the time that they can get away with “goofy” outfits and still look as adorable as ever!
  3. Take inventory – make sure you know where the necessities are the night before, and set them by the door if possible. Do you know where your little one (or husband) left the backpack? Are there two of the same shoe waiting to be put on their feet?
  4. Plan out what you will be serving for breakfast – if there is any prep work involved, try to incorporate it during dinner prep. What is one more thing to chop if you are already prepping all the dinner stuff. Getting this out of the way saves you that precious time in the morning when you are staring aimlessly into the fridge trying to figure out what to make for breakfast. There are also a ton of great ideas on Pinterest for items you can make in bulk over the weekend, for example, so all you have to do is defrost or heat up each morning. One that comes to mind that my son loved was the Pancake Bites. I made them on a Sunday for breakfast in different flavors and he enjoyed them during the week as well and all the work and clean up was already done.

These tips not only help moms and dads get out the door quickly in the mornings with their little ones, but can come in handy for anyone at any age, with or without kids.