May 26, 2016

7 Things I Learned from Allison Miller's New Cookbook

Last year we did a lot of work to our backyard.  We are planning on putting in a putting green as soon as it stops raining for more than a day.  We are looking forward to the Summer months and hosting many outdoor parties/barbecues.  The only problem I have is that  I want to wow my guests, but I am not a master chef and I don't have a lot of time on my hands.

I have a few go to recipes, but they are not "show stoppers".  They run more on the boring side of things.  I have been on the hunt for a good Summer cookbook.  I am kind of picky about my cookbooks.  My cookbooks have to meet the following criteria:

  1. First of all I HAVE to have a picture for each of the recipes.  I don't know what it is, but I have to have it.  I am a visual person and I have to see what I am making before I will commit to making it.  
  2. Second, I have a picky family; I don't want to buy a cookbook for only a handful of recipes.  So my cookbooks have to have food that picky eaters will eat.  
  3. Last, like I said in the beginning of this post the recipes have to be relatively easy and quick.  I am not saying under 5 minutes and beginner recipes across the board.  (I have been cooking in the kitchen for 10+ years now and I do enjoy cooking so I do like to spend SOME time in the kitchen.)  

This year I found the PERFECT cookbook to fit all my cookbook requirements and I couldn't be more pleased.  So today I am sharing that cookbook with you!  My friend, Allison Miller, who blogs at Cupcake Diaries just released a cookbook, "Sun and Sizzle: Grills to Greens and Everything In Between."

I want to share with you 7 things I learned from this cookbook.  That's right you can learn something other than just recipes from cookbooks.  Many of these things Allison mentioned in the section of her cookbook titled Tips, but some are things I learned from the recipes.

7 things I learned:

  1. When cooking hamburgers, make an indention in the center of the patty with your thumb.  As the meat rises in the center, the patty will stay even and level and won't dome up in the middle.  (How have I never known this!  This is a pet peeve of mine.  This tip actually made me giddy!)
  2. Meat is meant to be flipped just once.  After placing it on the grill, allow it to cook for a few minutes and then try pulling it away from the grill.  If it sticks, it needs to cook a little longer before flipping.  (I can't even begin to count how many times I flip my meat.  This was news to me)
  3. Brush sauces on at the end of cooking so that it doesn't burn, as sauce contains sugar and sugar burns easily.  (Once again, I am guilty of brushing on the sauce throughout the whole cooking time.)
  4. After marinating meat, pat it dry so it will sear on the grill and not steam.  (I can honestly say I have NEVER done this.)
  5. Once meat is off the grill, allow it to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing into it so the juices don't spill out.  (Once again, I slice into that meat immediately after taking it off.  I do tend to be a bit impatient.) 
  6. I learned all about steak temperatures and what they mean.  
  7. I learned that you can make ice cream without an ice cream maker.  I have made ice cream in a bag with my daughter, but I have never made yummy "set up" ice cream without an ice cream maker.  There are 3 ice cream recipes in this book! 
Recipes I've tried and loved

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad:  This is so yummy and will feed a large crowd.  I brought it to my sister's baby shower and everyone loved it.  I might be sheltered in the food department, but I have never had greens mixed with pasta and was skeptical, but I couldn't get enough of it. 

Root Beer Pulled Pork Sandwiches: This was so very simple and didn't disappoint in the yummy factor!  I love crock pot meals!

Grilled Chicken Caesar Sandwiches:  This was so simple too.  I had it for lunch one day and it made my lunch so much better than my typical turkey sandwich and it didn't take that much longer! 

Recipes that I am going to try next

Blackberry Peach Lemonade: We love lemonade around here and this looks so delicious.  

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream: I HAVE to make this for my grandma.  This is her favorite flavor of ice cream.

Zucchini Pancakes:  I LOVE breakfast.  I also LOVE zucchini bread.  I think combining the two sounds amazing!

Like I said in the beginning, this book will not disappoint you.  It is the PERFECT Summer cookbook.  I'm so happy I have added it to my cookbook collection.  

Check out what other bloggers have to say about this cookbook from the Sun and Sizzle blog tour!

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May 17, 2016

Princess Birthday Party-Party Favors

treasures, Disney princesses

I was provided free product from Oriental Trading in exchange for a blog post.  No other type of compensation was received.  At the bottom of the post are some affiliate links.  All ideas and opinions are my own.

I asked my daughter what kind of birthday party she wanted and she said Frozen.  For those of you who are new here, I threw a Frozen birthday party last year.  I was not about to do that again.  So I told her that she needed to come up with something else.  I was prepared for a complete meltdown, but instead she said, "OK!  PRINCESS!"  That was when I thought, "Really?"  I mean that isn't that far off from Frozen.  However, I decided to work with it.  

This daughter of mine live, breathes, and sleeps PRINCESS.  She always needs a dress on.  Just the other day we went to preschool and she gasped in the back seat (almost caused me to have a heart attack) then she said, "We forgot to put a dress on me!"  She is always wanting to dance around the room with her prince.  She has a certain princess smile.  She eats like a princess.  She plays with all her princess toys.  I mean the list goes on and on.  So I thought that a princess party was probably the best option for her anyway.  

This year she turned four years old.  I told her that she could have a friend party this year, but she could only invite four friends.  She was happy with that.  Then the birthday party planning began.  It was so much fun to plan out this party.  I can't wait to show you all the details.  The first hurtle I had to overcome was what I was going to do for the party favors.  

I wanted to do something fun.  At the same time I wanted to highlight each of the princesses.  So I thought it would be fun to have a prize or present from each of the princesses.  That is when I decided to put together a gift bag with all the princess "treasures".  

Do you want to see what I came up with?! I have to add that each bag and the contents cost about $3 a piece!  So affordable. 

Princess Birthday Party-Party Favors

Merida (from Brave): I made an arrow from felt and a wooden skewer. (I had all this at home already)

Rapunzel (from Tangled): Paints 

Snow White (from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves): A whistle

Tiana (from Princess and the Frog): Gummy frogs (I had to get these at a gas station) 

Pocahontas (from Pocahontas): A compass notepad 

Princess Birthday Party-Party Favors

Jasmine (from Aladin): A gold bracelet made with dry macaroni noodles and a cut up toilet paper roll.  (Once again using stuff from around the house)

Ariel (from The Little Mermaid): A dinglehopper made with a plastic fork and some jewels.  (All left over from other projects.  

Belle (from Beauty and the Beast): A light up rose

Elsa and Anna (from Frozen): A chocolate kiss

Aurora (from Sleeping Beauty): An eye pillow (Many stores have these; I got them at a dollar store) 

Princess Birthday Party-Party Favors

I attached a little tag to each treasure to make sure the girls knew exactly what it was they were receiving and who the "treasure" was from.  Then I put them in a bag with the cutest glass slipper (for Cinderella of course) on front.

Everything fit in the white bag perfectly.  I loved the white bag with the blue glitter of the glass slipper.  I cut out glitter iron-on vinyl for the glass slipper using my Cricut.  

I couldn't have been more thrilled with how it turned out.  The girls loved their party favors and the smiles on their faces made it worth every thought I put into it.

Disney Princesses, treasures

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May 4, 2016

Confessions of a Molly Mormon (Book Review)

Love, God, Scriptures, Prayer, Sunday, Fasting, Temple, Commandment, Jesus
This is a sponsored post and contains affiliate links.  However, my opinions are honest opinions.

Last week I got down on my knees to pray with my daughter before she got in bed.  I was rushing her because it was far too late and I needed some mommy time alone.  I kept telling her to hurry and that she needed to stop taking so long.  We rushed through the prayer and the rest of the bed time routine and I said good night.  I shut the door behind me and I basically did a dance because I felt like I was free.  

Can any of your moms relate?  Please tell me yes.  I had some good quiet time and when I hopped into bed later that night I was exhausted.  I quickly said my personal prayer and laid down.  However, I couldn't go to sleep.  It was then that I realized that I rushed through two of the most important conversations I had during the day.  I rushed through my prayers.  I prayed because it was part of my routine.  That was it. 

God, Scriptures, Prayer, Sunday, Fasting, Temple, Commandment, Jesus, Love

Since then I have been more aware of how I am praying.  I have been trying to slow down and really have a conversation with my Father in Heaven.  I have been trying to teach my daughter to do the same.  I have been more conscious of what HE is trying to tell me.  I have been trying and when I try I notice a HUGE difference.  

There are a lot of things that I can feel guilty about everyday.  A lot of things that can cause so much fear that it is crippling.  There are a lot of times that I judge myself so harshly that I feel like giving up.  It is all so silly.  

Perfectionism, Peace, Faith, Fear, Judging, Joy

If you are like me in any of these ways then "Confessions of a Molly Mormon" is for you!  The author (Elona K. Shelley) is so real in this book.  It is hard to be real and I am so happy that she opened up.  When you write or talk about certain things that are personal or very raw then you are vulnerable.  At the same time you can help so many other people if you do open up. 

That is why I am so glad I read this book.  I can't think of many books that have been so raw and real.  She goes through 7 "confessions".  Some of them I can relate to and others I cannot.  However, even with the ones that I can't relate to, it was nice to read about it because I want to be a more understanding person and since she opens all the way up and can dip inside of her emotions, if you will.  I can learn how to be more understanding of others that might have that same "issue". 

With every confession she follows it up with "victories" (at least that is what I am calling them).  The victories show how she got over whatever it was she was confessing.  She talks about ways she helped get over it or become better in an area.  She goes through many stories and examples for each of the confessions.  It's written in an organized way so it isn't confusing.  

She gives one final (8th) confession that is a "happy ending" confession.  I love how it ends on a happy note.  Let me tell you though, even though she is confessing throughout the book I never felt like it was depressing.  The whole book was very positive. 

Then after she goes through each of the confessions she has an amazing appendix.  In the appendix she has additional material for each of the confessions.  I love this because if you need help with one of the things she confesses then you can dig a little deeper in that section.  

It is a quick and easy read (which I need since I have kids that keep me quite busy).  So pick this up for yourself.  If you know someone that is struggling with feeling "less than" then please pick this book up.  We are all doing way better than we think we are!  

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Apr 27, 2016

A "Work From Home" Mom Fail

Last week I had a crazy week with work.  I had emergencies come my way in every direction.  To make it was my daughter's birthday that week too.  My phone was ringing.  People were frantic.  Emails were flooding in.  It was crazy.  There were many times that I actually screamed out loud.

Apr 16, 2016

A Lesson Learned from Flight Attendants

This post is written by health/fitness contributor, Melissa.  She also blogs at On The Go Healthy Mom.

Being COMMITTED is an important word for a mother.

We have many responsibilities to be committed to our family, and the demands of our children who count on us to do MANY things for them.

We also have a commitment to ourselves, and sometimes- we put ourselves last.

As moms we tend to take on A LOT!

Can you relate?

I know I can.

We wear many hats as a mother- cook, taxi driver, cleaner, Band-aid put-er-on-er, snuggler,

And many more.

We go about our days, wanting to please everyone around us, but what we really need to do it to take care of ourselves, so we can take care of others.

Just like when you are on an airplane, when you are fastening your seat belt and the flight attendant is explaining how to put on your oxygen mask in case of an emergency.

You are then told to put on your own FIRST before you put on your children's, so you can breathe to be able to take care of them.

So that you can have the energy to do all those many things that you need to do as a mother.

Here are a couple of tips to help you commit to some time for YOU, so you have the energy to commit to those around you.

>>Make it FUN- not a chore.

It is not a job to take care of YOU, it is part of everyday life. Do something for you each day. Get up early, write in your journal, exercise, get yourself ready for the day. Do something you love before the kids wake up. You will feel so refreshed and energized!

>At the end of a long day, do something relaxing that you love. Take a bubble bath, read a good book, watch your favorite TV show.

>>Do a Babysitting Co-Op with other Moms. Watch their kids so she can go to the gym or do something without kids. And then she watches your kids so you can do something you love without kids! It's a Win-WIN!

Take the time for YOU, and feel good about it- not guilty.

You are worth it, and so are your kids!

Thanks for checking in,


Apr 15, 2016

What Everyone Ought to Know About Gugu Guru

This post contains sponsored links from Gugu Guru.

My sister is pregnant!  She recently registered for an upcoming shower.  Her biggest problem that she is facing is that she wants it to be easy for the guests to be able to buy items from the registry.  So does she go with Buy Buy Baby?  Does she go with Babies R Us?  Or does she go with Land of Nod?  Or does she go with Amazon? There are so many choices.  

Apr 13, 2016

Get Rid of Your Running Questions Once and for All

This post is written by Randall Steinfeldt.  (See contributor tab for more details)

My doctor told me that I should get in shape, that I should improve my fitness level, but how do I do it?  I see other people out running and it looks really fun and I would like to do it.  How far should I run?  How hard should I run?  Are these questions that you’ve asked yourself? Are these questions that you wonder if you’re doing correctly?  I would like to take the opportunity and try to answer some of these questions.

Apr 1, 2016

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Disneyland on a Budget

Earlier this year we were trying to decide where we were going to take our family vacation this year.  We were really wanting to go to Disneyland, but we ran into two problems.  #1 was that we are trying to be frugal so we can get completely out of debt.  #2 was that traveling with my sweet baby stresses me out.  

Mar 30, 2016

6 Categories of Girlfriend Gifts

It's my friend's birthday and I have NO idea what to get her.  Panic strikes because she always seems to get me the best gifts and I can't even think of one thing to get her.  She has been my friend for 12+ years.  Shouldn't I know what to get her? 

Mar 9, 2016

How to Save Money on Healthy Food- tips you should try!

This post is written by health/fitness contributor, Melissa.  She also blogs at On The Go Healthy Mom.

Have you ever heard the excuse pop into your head "Eating Healthy is Expensive"

Well I have said it before, and I have heard it a lot.

But so is eating out and eating unhealthy- Right?

So here are some tips for you today that will make you realize it's ok to spend a little bit more on healthy food, otherwise you will spend it on the unhealthy.

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