Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Toddler Favorites 12 -18 Months

Toddler Favorites 12 -18 Months

Ah, life of a toddler. It's so simple and full of wonder. Luckily we have a big yard for Emerson to run around. Girlfriend has a number of toys, but she has a few favorites. Like the mini bear she's taking for a ride in the picture above.

A few of our [aka Emerson's] favorites include:

LeapFrog AlphaPup Toy: Emerson received this as a birthday gift from her friend Wyatt and LOVES it. It only took her a month before she was "walking the dog." I love toys that also promote learning. BTW - It's currently on-sale for $12.99!

Books: Every morning, afternoon and right before bed time we have to read a few books. She can't get enough. She loves to read to herself [aka look at the pictures] too. Check out a few of our favorite board books HERE.

Mega Bloks First Builders: Dad might have more fun building things, but Emerson  is really good at demolition.

LeapFrog Shapes And Sharing Picnic Basket: Another fun toy that promotes learning! We're working on the sharing aspect.

Corolle Mon Premier Bebe Bath Girl Doll: Only the most amazing doll ever! This is her favorite doll to play with. Although it's meant for bath time it's only been in the bath once. The doll can get soaked, smells amazing and you can buy accessories, etc. for it.

Munchkin Miracle 360 Sippy Cup: The only sippy cup you'll need to buy. It doesn't leak and toddlers can drink from anywhere along the edge.

Bobby Doll Stroller: Oh yeah you better believe she has a stroller for her baby doll! She pushes her doll around the living room daily.

Well there you have it a few of Emerson's favorite toys. What toys/games/books do your toddlers love?

Monday, August 29, 2016

Chocolate Nut Butter Truffles

Thank you Lara Bar and Costco for inspiring and sponsoring today's post. #LaraNutButter  #Larabar.


I have a confession, I'm addicted to nut butters. You name it I've probably tried it or it's currently one of ten jars in my pantry. It's a habit I just can't kick. From smoothies, to toast, to baked goods I probably eat some form of nut butter everyday...

Today, I have a special treat for you! Not only did I recently discover the best nut butter since sliced bread, but I have a tasty and simple recipe using said nut butter. Are you ready for it? LARABAR is making nut butters! You heard it here first! Costco (North East and Bay Area) will exclusively carry Lara Nut Butter by LARABAR in Chocolate Coconut and Banana Nut.  I can't even contain myself.


After a week of numerous taste tests the Chocolate Coconut nut butter is nearly gone....oops! But this momma loves apple topped with nut butter as an afternoon snack. It's a downfall, but I'm a total snacker and personally I love anything that's a grab and go. Let's face it life gets busy and you just need some that's easy yet some what good for you. Well, let me introduce you to the most delicious Chocolate Nut Butter Truffles.

These babies are perfect as an afternoon snack or post dinner treat. All you need is one! I suggest making a batch during Sunday meal prep. While they'll last up to a week in the fridge you can alway double the batch and freeze half for down the road. Just saying.


CHOCOLATE NUT BUTTER TRUFFLES
Makes 20ish

Ingredients
1 cup LARABAR chocolate coconut chase and almond butter
2 tbsp real maple syrup
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut

Directions
Using your food processor, combine nut butter, maple syrup and coconut oil.Process until well combined and mixture and be presses into a ball, about 1 minute. Place in small bowl. Cover; refrigerate 15 minutes.

Shape into 20  (1 1/4- inch) balls. Place coconut in a shallow dish and roll each ball ro cover. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Chill about 1 hour or until firm.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pure Love - Why I'm a #WaterWipesMom

This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

I'm a mom to the sweetest little girl in the world [IMO]. We love her dearly. With that said we're very selective about what we feed her and products we purchase, among other things. Like most first time moms, when I first became pregnant I researched baby gear/products for hours. However it wasn't until we started trying said products that we quickly found out what we liked and didn't like.


While we've tried a number of various baby products recently, based on a recommendation from another blogger, we switched to WaterWipes. Why? My sweetheart has sensitive skin so I was looking for something that wouldn't irritate or leave her skin feeling dry. WaterWipes is both durable and effective without containing any of the harmful chemicals that may be found in other baby wipes. WaterWipes proves a safer, natural option for your little one.


We keep packs of WaterWipes throughout the house and in our cars. You never know when you'll need to clean a messy face, puke or a dirty diaper. Yup, while puke isn't a regular acurreance in our household it happens and usually when you least expect it. Like yesterday while we were driving from Tahoe to Sacramento Emerson happen to get car sick! WaterWipes to the rescue. We were able to change her clothes and give her a quick full body wipe down [aka, bird bath] without worrying how the wipes would effect her skin. That's a win in my mom book.

WaterWipes is a chemical free baby wipe that contains only two ingredients, 99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract.

WaterWipes recently released it's Pure Love video, which highlights the importance of skin-to-skin contact between Mom and Baby. Check out the video below, or click this link: Pure Love video.

Monday, August 22, 2016

#ad Quick + Easy Crispy Chicken Cobb Salad

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. All opinions are entirely my own. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ReimagineYourRoutine #CollectiveBias


Back to school is just around the corner which means juggling kids, homework, sports, work, etc. is about to get even crazier. While Emerson isn't in school it's rough juggling day care, work, working out, friends and just life in general. Especially when you don't live near any family.

Honestly I can't tell you how many times the hubs has come home from work and asked what's for dinner and I didn't have a clue. Those days usually result in takeout or breakfast for dinner because it's easy. Well I have a secret. Recently I started purchasing Tyson® Grilled & Ready®  Chicken and Tyson® Crispy Chicken Strips for those rough days, days I don't want to cook or just completely forgot to defrost something. Which happens more often than not.

Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Chicken and Tyson® Crispy Chicken Strips are awesome because all you have to do is heat and serve -- whether in the oven, stove top or microwave. I was skeptical at first, but I'm kind of in love with the Tyson® Crispy Chicken Strips. They really are crispy, if cooked in the oven. 


Trust me, pick up Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Chicken or Tyson® Crispy Chicken Strips during your next Walmart shopping trip. Be the Mom who saves the day and never feels guilty about whatwhen she serves with Tyson Food’s protein packed convenient solutions with TysonⓇ chicken, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, snacks, or dinner.


The other day I was having one of those days. The non-stop forget to eat lunch kind of day. Oh and everyone is hangry, but you haven't even thought about dinner let alone defrosted anything. Hello, Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Chicken and Tyson® Crispy Chicken Strips to the rescue.

After a quick survey of my fridge I pulled together a quick and easy Crispy Chicken Cobb Salad! It was amazing and might be on repeat tomorrow ;) For Emerson I heated a few strips of Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Chicken and served with strawberries and broccoli. My toddler is easy to please.


Emerson is learning how to use a fork on her own, however mom has to help out once in a while ;)


Now for the Cobb Salad a quick meal solution for your family with high quality and low effort.



Crispy Chicken Cobb Salad

Ingredients 

2 slices of bacon, chopped
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
1/8 avocado 
1/4 cup strawberries, sliced
1 tbsp feta
2 cups spring mix
1/4 cucumber, diced
1 tbsp of your favorite dressing [I love to use balsamic] 
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Prepare chicken per directions on package. While chickening in a warming up chop, dice, slice all other ingredients.

Using a large plate or bowl layer all the ingredients on top of the spring mix. Top with dressing, toss and enjoy! Yup it's that simple.

Pro tip: Make a big batch of hard boiled eggs as your weekly food prep. On Sunday when you're making bacon for breakfast just make the whole package. That way there's extra for the week. Plus, you only have to clean up once.

Full tummy means happy hubby and kids! Win, win.


What would you make with  Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Chicken or Tyson® Crispy Chicken Strips?

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

For the Love of Reading

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company, Kellogg Company, J.M. Smucker Company, and The HERSHEY'S Company. All opinions are mine alone. #StartSchoolLikeAChampion #CollectiveBias


My child loves reading just as much as she loves food. That is not a joke. I chalk it up to reading to her multiple times a day plus going to the library, weekly, for story time. Honestly it might be her favorite part of the week. Ok, maybe it's having lunch at the beach, lounging on the dog bed or something completely different. Who knows since it's hard to understand what a 18 month old is saying. Either way she loves reading [aka looking at the pictures] or being read to!

It's imperative to read to your children early and often. This is why I love supporting brands who support reading.

They next time you're shopping at Walmart make sure to check out specially marked products from brands HERSHEY'S, Smucker's, Coca-Cola and Kellogg's! Why, because I said so. All joking aside, because they have all teamed up with Scholastic Books to give Walmart Shoppers the opportunity to earn up to 90 books when purchasing participating products! Win, win win!


Just to reiterate -- For every purchase at Walmart of participating products you already know and love, you will be able to claim one Scholastic book. Talk about going for the gold! This limited- time offer will run from June 29th to September 30th!

People, it's a no brainer. Whether you're picking up snacks for the family, a BBQ or to donate to the local food bank keep an eye out for participating brands.


When you redeem your books you can choose to keep the books or donate them. Since my sweetheart has more than enough we'll most likely donate our books.


Five Simple Way to Create a Tiny Reader

1. Read early and often.
2. Keep books throughout the house and easily assessable. We store a few board books in her toy basket.
3. Create a bedtime reading routine.
4. Attend story time your local library.
5. Make reading fun. Even if you have to read the same book five times in a row. Switch up voices and the story.


How to start school like a champion: Earn a free Scholastic book by purchasing any of the over 100 participating Coca-Cola, HERSHEY'S, Kellogg’s, or J.M. Smucker's product at Walmart between 6/29/16 – 9/30/16 (1 item = 1 book).


1. Buy any participating Coca-Cola, HERSHEY'S, Kellogg's, or J.M. Smucker product at Walmart between 6/29/16 and 9/30/16. For a full list of participating products, refer to http://cbi.as/4easc.

2. Join or log in to Kellogg's Family Rewards.

3. Upload your receipt within 30 days of purchase.

4. Choose or donate your free book.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Blackberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars


Oh, summertime let me count the ways I love you. Yes, I know I live in the mountains, but summer is by far my favorite season. I am from San Diego! From beach days, warm nights to a endless flow of berries I just don't want summer to end. I should mention there's always a steady flow of berries in our house. Lately I've been loving blackberries and raspberries. While our berries come from California's central valley I can't help but think of Oregon Berries from the Willamette Valley Fruit Co.


With an endless flow of berries and BBQs to attend I've been making some sweet treats like this galette and tart! When there's a party, picnic or BBQ you better believe I'm bringing a treat, of some sort, to share.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. On Sundays I make a treat for the hubby and I. Typically I give him a few options and let him pick. He's a total berry guy so he was on board with Blackberry Crumble Bars. Such an easy guy.


Blackberry Crumble Bars are sweet enough for dessert [of course, with a scoop of ice cream], but you can also enjoy a slice with a latte in morning without feeling guilty. Now that's a winning dish!

One should note the Blackberry Crumble Bars travel well making them a perfect treat to take to any summer party.

Without further adieu....


Blackberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars 
Makes 8 Bars

Ingredients

Crust and Crumble Topping 
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned whole-rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed pinch salt, optional and to taste

Blueberry Layer 
2 cups blackberries
1/4 cup raspberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp  cornstarch

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside.

Crust and Crumble Topping - In a large, melt the butter. Add the flour, oats, sugars, optional salt, and stir and combine. Set 1 cup mixture aside to be used as crumble topping.

Pour remaining mixture to prepared pan, and press the mixture to create an even, smooth, flat crust; set aside.

Blueberry Layer - In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Distribute blackberry mixture evenly over the crust. Next sprinkle with the reserved crumble topping mixture. Before sprinkling, create bigger crumble pieces to form by squeezing the mixture together. Bake for about 45-55 minutes [depending on if you used fresh or frozen berries], or until edges are set and center has just set.

Pro tip: Place pan on a wire rack and allow bars to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. If you try to slice bars before they've cooled completely, they'll be extremely messy and could fall apart. 

Enjoy!

What's your favorite berry dish?

Psst...The Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission sponsored this post. Opinions are 100% my own. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Simple Blueberry Galette

Anyone else loving all the summer berries! I recently bought way too many blueberries during my last shopping trip [Costco problems], but it wasn't an issue knowing it meant there would be a delish treat in my near future.


Over the years I've made a Blueberry and Raspberry Tart,  Blueberry Muffins, and Berry French Toast Casserole just to name a few. I guess you could say I like berries! Galette's seem to be all the rage so I figured why not give one a try. Honestly, these are going to become my new go-to dessert. They're so simple and easy to make. Since making the Blueberry Galette on Sunday I've already started dreaming of new flavors, such as mixed berry, blueberry and peach, peach, or even cherry! The options are endless.


With a galette you get the feeling of a pie, without all the work. Win, win in my book!

Have you made a galette? What are you waiting for!?


BLUEBERRY GALETTE
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar [plus extra for sprinkling]
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
1 egg
1 tbsp water
1 store bought refrigerated pie crust

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Place unroll pie crust on a baking sheet [no greasing of required].

In a medium sized bowl, toss the blueberries, cornstarch, sugar and lemon juice. Once everything is evenly coated, spoon mixture into the middle of the crust leaving about 2″ around the edge. Fold the edges over neatness will not when you a medal here. Keep in mind, you want fruit in the middle to show.

Cut the butter into 6-8 chunks and place on top of blueberries. In a small bowl whisk the egg and water. Once combine brush onto the crust and sprinkle with a dash of sugar.

Bake 20-23 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden brown. Once cooled, move it onto a serving plate and enjoy! Don't forget a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Grilled Shrimp and Peach Kabobs + Wente Vineyards


Hey there. Long time no chat.... just kidding. I have a quick, easy and tasty recipe for you. Oh, and it pairs perfectly with Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Chardonnay! Minor detail.

Anyway, I love dinning outside during warm summer months. What says summer more than grilling and a glass of white wine! Looking to make something simple yet packed full of flavor I landed on Shrimp and Peach kabobs! Peaches are a favorite around our household so I knew these kabobs would be a winner.


While I haven't been drinking due to training the hubs still gladly enjoys a glass of wine with dinner. Who's kidding, I totally had a sip. Come on I had to taste it for myself! While I'm typically not a Chardonnay person I would absolutely purchase Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Chardonnay again. It's  smooth and buttery just the way I like it. Plus, you can't beat the $14 price tag! I picked up a bootle at my local Costco. The Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Chardonnay paired perfectly with the shrimp.


The Wente family’s story begins in 1883, when German immigrant, C.H. Wente immigrated to America with the dream of creating a better life. After studying winemaking under Charles Krug in Napa Valley, he moved to Livermore with his wife to pursue his new career. Five generations later Wente is still the oldest continuously-operated, family-owned winery in the country. Their wines are 100% estate grown and sustainably farmed in the Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay and Arroyo Secco. Over the past 130 years Wente Vineyards’ Chardonnay is consistently recognized as being the best-selling varietal in the country. The Wente Family is proud to be recognized as “California’s First Family of Chardonnay.


Grab a blanket, couple glasses of wine and have a impromptu picnic in your front yard.



Shrimp + Peach Kabobs
Serves 4

Ingredients

3 ounces honey
1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder Juice from
1/2 of a lime
1/2 teaspoon lime zest 2
4 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 -3 large peaches, peeled and cut into chunks
Olive Oil
8 kabob sticks

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, lime juice, chili power and lime zest.

Thread Shrimp and Peaches onto skewers. 3 Shrimp per skewer, each shrimp separated by 2 pieces of peach. Lightly brush each side with the honey mixture.

When ready cook 8-14 minutes, flipping occasionally until shrimp is cooked. Shrimp will turn pink and curl up when cooked. Serves quickly

Pro Tip: To keep skewers from burning, soak in a bowl of water for about 30 minutes before threading them with the shrimp and peaches.

Enjoy!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Road Trip Checklist

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RoadTripOil #CollectiveBias


Summer and road trips go hand in hand. Am I right?!

Even though it's August there's still plenty of time to take a quick road trip.  The big question is where to go. Camp or stay in a hotel. Visit a theme park or national parks, BTW the National Park service turns 100 on August 25. In California our road trip options are truly endless. 

But before you hit the open road there are a few things you should consider.

Set a Loose Itinerary 

Sometimes it's best to just go. Pick an end destination and see what the road brings. Maybe it's stoping for a hike, to snap a waterfall pic or go wine testing. We schedule everything in a life so try to be spontaneous. 

However, when you start your road trip, you're probably on some sort of a time schedule, but remember having some room to breathe in your itinerary is really important. 

Check your oil, tires, etc.

While this is a no brainer you would be surprised how many people forget to check over their car before hitting the road. 

Checking car fluids is key. Like, check your oil. When you have a high mileage car it's a good rule of thumb to change your oil every 3,000 miles. I suggest heading to your local Walmart Auto Center and get your oil changed while you stock up on supplies for your trip. [Pro tip: arrive early as it's first come first serve] 

Getting your oil changed with Pennzoil® High Mileage Vehicle® [oil that helps clean out sludge lesser oils leave behind] at Walmart helps make those summer road trips a success by saving time and money. Walmart currently has a killer deal for high milage cars right now, $44.88 rolled back to $35.88 [June 15 - September 28]. The price includes Pennzoil® High Mileage Vehicle® oil!  

Two of our cars have over 75,000 miles on it, making the switch to Pennzoil's High Mileage oil was an easy choice.  


Pennzoil® High Mileage Vehicle® motor oil helps clean out the sludge lesser oils leave behind, while helping to reduce leaks and oil consumption in worn or higher mileage engines. It’s a motor oil specifically designed for new or late model vehicles with over 75,000 miles, with the mission of keeping engines running clean and going strong.



Pack a First Aid Kit

When packing for a road trip, getting the first aid kit, tool box and emergency numbers ready is one of the most important tasks. The kits don’t have to be super-expensive and complicated, but get a good basic first aid kit, or tool box. I general this is a good rule of thumb.


Pack plenty of Food and Drinks

Packing food and drinks on your road trip is very important, because you won't always have access to a supermarket while on the road. Especially once you hit the smaller towns, you can find that most items will become a lot more expensive as well.


Bring a Camera

One of the best ways to take a road trip is to stop often to take pictures, get active or do some serious sightseeing. Before you leave, you can plan some of the interesting places to stop along the way, but keep an eye out for roadside signs for the spontaneous adventure stop or picture!


Where are you road tripping this summer?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

For the Love of CrossFit

This shouldn't be a surprise to most of you, but I love to workout! Did I mention I also love competition. Not kidding. I love it so much that I've ran Tough Mudder three times even at four month pregnant [read more here, here and here].

When I started Crossfit back up, after getting pregnant a month after initially joining, a little over a year ago I never imagined I would be stronger than ever. But the coaches at my box ignited a fire within and things just started clicking.

Which leads me to the Carson City 'New Kids in the Box' competition I participated in a few weeks ago. Yeah, you could say I'm crazy, but I LOVED it. I loved it so much I just signed up for a The Cascade Classic qualifier. No I don't think I have a chance, but I want to test my limits and see where I land. 

Let's recap my first Crossfit comp though. While I didn't do as well as I wanted too I didn't do half bad.... especially since I had a baby 18 months ago!  

There was a solid group from our GYM.


The workouts were tough -- Snatches with over the bar burpees, deadlift ladder, max cal bike and a sled pull sprint, or two, mixed with squats and ground to overhead.

This is me at round 8 during event 1, snatches and over the bar burpees. During the athlete briefing they said we could switch to cleans which my coach had me do when I hit round 8 during the 6 minute AMRAP. I seriously thought I was going to die after this.


My tribe came out to support me. The hubs now understands why I'm always at the gym. 


There I am in the background trying to hold it together after a 1 minute max cal on the bike. I believe I took 4th in this event. Which I was surprised about. Oh, I should mention this was immediately after the deadlift ladder. Which I fell apart on.


It was a long and challenging day, but we had a blast and three members from our box made the podium! And yes I would do it again.


Photo Credit: South Tahoe Crossfit