Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Smore Bars

*This post was originally published on 7/29/13.  Enjoy!

Who can believe it's the end of July already?  Wow, where has the summer gone?  So before the kids head back to school, here's a recipe that's guaranteed to be a hit, whether around the campfire or the dinner table.

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Smore Bars
(*from Chocolate, Chocolate, and More)

3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. mini marshmallows (I really just dumped in handfuls)
2 regular sized Hershey chocolate bars

1. Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter and press into pan.

2. Combine 1/2 c. butter and sugar until creamy.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined.

3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt well.  Slowly add to wet ingredients.

4. Mix in marshmallows.  Spread dough over graham cracker crust.

5. Heat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 10-12 minutes.

6.  Break up chocolate bars and freeze while bars are baking.  After 10-12 minutes, remove bars from oven and top with chocolate bar squares.  Return to oven for 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool before cutting into bars.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Turkey Cucumber Wraps


I love to cook, but with three kiddos, my life seems to be all about quick and say meals lately.  I thought things would slow down over the summer, but really... I may have over committed us.  So here we are, making quick meals and trying to keep them nutritious.

And these wraps are awesome for taking to the pool or grabbing a quick dinner before a baseball game.  They are so ridiculously easy and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand.

Just start with your favorite tortilla.  Spread on some veggie cream cheese and season as you like.  I love a little garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Layer with cucumber, tomato, avocado, and sliced turkey.  You can add some cheese if you'd like (but I love mine with just the meat and veggies).

See, so easy.  Just serve it with a salad or some fresh fruit and dinner's on the table in no time.

What yumminess are you discovering this summer?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Weekend Links











This Week:

What I Made: I'm working on a Family Book for the Little Man and some stuff for his Mickey Mouse Party.  Everything is in preliminary stages, but hoping to get some stuff done this weekend.

What I'm Reading:  The Rosie Project... I wasn't sure about it at first, but it's really funny.  I started the book club book for July, but quickly misplaced it.  I'm in trouble with that one.

What I'm Doing: Getting a new fridge.  This is the second one that's gone out this year and I just want to kick it.

What I'm Watching: We started watching Hitch last night, but it got late.  We both love that movie and plan on finishing it tonight. 

What I'm Enjoying: Lots of pool time... baseball games... plums... projects!

What are you up to?


Friday, July 18, 2014

10 Tips for Reading Aloud

*This post was originally published on 10/24/13.  Enjoy!

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Reading is in our blood.  I've always been a big reader and as a writer, words have a huge impact in my life.  Reading opens new worlds and experiences for our children, and I really want mine to grasp what a great experience it can be.  So one thing we did early on was read aloud to our kids.  Every night before bed, we all climb up on the couch and read the Bible, along with other books.  It's some of the sweetest moments in our days.  These are some of the tips we've learned along the way:

1. Get comfy--Find some place you want to linger.  For us, it's the couch.  For you, it might be your child's bed, or an old comfy rocking chair.  Pile on the pillow, find a comfy spot, and settle in.

2. Make it a routine--My kids miss it when we don't read every night.  Some nights are hectic or company is in town.  But it's become so routine that my kids miss it.  They come to crave the closeness and discovery together.

3. Speak clearly--Read clearly.  When you're "hearing" a story, it's harder to follow the story than when you're seeing the words.  So read with distinction, pause in important conversations, and pronounce new words clearly.

4. Read Slowly--Reading aloud isn't about just getting through it.  Savor the words.  Use your pauses well and don't let your kids miss a thing.

5. Speak with emotion--People don't speak in monotone so why read in monotone?  Using emotion conveys meaning and makes the story clearer.  And if you're reading a lot of dialogue, try using voices.

6. Use prediction questions--Ask the kids questions as you read.  What's going to happen next?  How do you think the character feels about what's happening?  Use the illustrations to your advantage.  As them to analyze the action and predict what's going to happen.

7. Ask questions to check understanding--Ask questions about new words and situations.  Does your child understand what's happening or need some clarification.  Checking for understanding as you read can bring the whole story together.

8. Take turns--Some times my kids want to read to me.  And that's ok.  In fact, that's great.  Allowing them the time to read to me gives them great practice in reading, pronouncing, and reading aloud, which is a skill in itself.

9. Define hard words--Don't assume that your kids know what every word means.  Sometimes new words can be defined in context.  But if you find you're reading a lot of new vocabulary, take the time to define new words and explore new concepts.  After all that's what reading is all about... new ideas.

10. Use Audio Books--Don't forget to use audio books.  We listen to audio books all the time while we're running errands or traveling to visit family.  We've explored so many new words, new characters, and new stories in listening to audio books.  So if you're struggling to find time for reading aloud, work audio books into your day.

Do you read to your kids regularly?  What are your tips?
*Linked to these Parties

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

12 Healthy Snacks While Traveling


If you've ever traveled with kids, or just traveled on your own, you know how temping those little bags of cheap junk food can be.  Any time I had walk into a gas station or convenience store, I hear every bag of potato chips immediately scream my name.  I won't even get into how my mouth starts watering.

The next time we hit the road, let's pack a few of these healthy snacks and avoid the convenience store.  So while we're filling up the gas tank, we can avoid filling up on junk.

1. Trail mix--My kids love trail mix and there are so many options for building your own, making it easily customizable for your family's tastes and preferences.  Plus I love to throw in a handful or two M&M's as a treat for the kids.

2. Fresh fruits--Fresh fruit is a great option for being healthy and regulating your blood sugar.  Buy what's in season to save some money and still feel good about what you're feeding your kids.  Plus it's super portable.

3. Dried fruits--Dried fruit is a great option for when fresh fruit is out of season.  My favorites are the apple slices and dried berries.  Again, mix and match for your family's taste.

4. Yogurt cups--Yogurt cups work well if you can make a quick stop for lunch or snack.  A small ice chest is easy to place in the back seat.  This is another great option for regulating blood sugar if you watch your labels.  Don't forget the spoons!

5. Hardboiled eggs--Eggs are wonderful as well if you plan to stop.  Loaded with protein, eggs fill small bellies for those long road trips.

6. Ants on a log--These are an all around great snack for the family: veggie, peanut butter for protein, and a little sweetness in the raisins.  Looking to contain the mess?  Pack your celery sticks and peanut butter in a resealable jar.

7. Cheese and crackers--I love have cheese and crackers with us.  I can slice up some cheese before we leave home, pop it in the ice chest, and just pack a box of triscuits or wheat thins.  It's a great way to pack in some carbohydrates and protein quickly.  Plus it's easy finger food.

8. Fresh veggies--Along with fresh fruit, fresh veggies is an easy option.  There are so many choices as well: cucumber, carrots, celery, bell pepper, or cherry tomatoes.  Even an easy pre-made salad can be slipped into a small ice chest.  Plus veggies are packed with fiber to fill your up quickly without the extra junk.

9. Nuts--Nuts are wonderful as they're also packed with fiber, healthy fats, and protein.  Almonds, walnuts, pecans, ... all are wonderful options.  You can also save a ton of money buying them in bulk from the grocery store.  Mix them with dried fruit to make your own trail mix.

10. Seeds--Our family loves sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, especially when we can season and bake our own pumpkin seeds.  But there are plenty of other options as well: chai seeds and flax seeds to taste as well.

11. Popcorn-- Popcorn is so easy to travel with.  More resilient than crackers and chips, but still has the crunch.  And it's a great economical way to get whole wheat.

12.  Granola--Homemade granola is wonderful.  Our family loves a yummy variety we made loaded with pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and coconut.  It's easy, filling, and portable.

Bonus:

13. Lots of Water--We each have our own water bottle that we keep filled in the refrigerator.  Before we leave the house, we always grab those water bottles and fill them to the top.  Water will keep you hydrated and feeling great on the road.  Yes, you'll have to stop more for potty breaks, but really you're doing amazing things for your body so who cares?  Drink your water!

What are your favorite healthy snacks for the road?
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