Friday, February 27, 2015

The Blogger Life Photo Challenge

Good morning! I have an exciting announcement to share with you today. Thanks to the interest of fellow bloggers in our Facebook group The Blogger Life, I was tasked with putting together a monthly photo challenge. And if you were around during Christmas, you know how much I enjoy such projects.

So starting March 1, you can join 30+ other bloggers and myself as we tackle the challenge. As always, the prompts are designed to make you think outside the box and give your Instagram followers a peek into your word. Here are the prompts for the #BLPhotoChallenge:

Please keep in mind that you don't have to be a member of our Facebook group or even a blogger to participate. If you have an Instagram account, join in the fun. Be sure to use the hashtag #BLPhotoChallenge so that we can easily find your photos. 

I hope you will join us. With the cold, wet weather we are having, it will be fun to usher in Spring together through our photos. If you would like to follow me on Instagram, you can do so HERE.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mess Free Car Snacks for Kids

Remember when you bought your first new car? I do. October 2011. I purchased a brand new Chevy Cruze with just 27 (!!) miles on it. The moment I saw my car on the lot, I knew it was the perfect car for me. Fast forward 3 years later. I still have my Cruze but I also have a 2 year old that likes his "car snacks". And of course, I want him to snack here and there when we are on the go. What I don't want is to find a backseat full of Goldfish crumbs. Those little orange fish crumble and crunch so dang easily and before you know it, I find crumbs in my cup holder, under my feet and every where in between. Somethings gotta give and since C won't be driving himself or his snacks anywhere for the next 13+ years, this Momma is on mission to find snacks that don't wreck her car.

+ fruit snack
+ string cheese
+ veggies like carrots and cucumber
+ fruit squeeze (but beware, this too can get messy if you have an overly active snack enjoy-er)
+ apple slices
+ beef jerky
+ grapes
+ raisins
+ cheerios (still a crunchy snack but much easier to handle)
+ granola bars
+ fruit leathers
+ veggie straws (C does well with these and makes little to no mess)
+ cereal bars
+ pretzels
+ trail mix

I am always always looking to add a new snack to our rotation. If you have a snack, mess free or not, please share with me in the comment section below.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Decorating Our Space with Minted

Now that we are settled in our home in Ohio it's time to start picking out decor for our new space. The home is fairly small so the decor needs to add big personality without being too flashy or bulky. I'm a huge fan of decorating with photography and art so when Minted contacted me to review their Art Marketplace, I was thrilled to find a site that offered beautiful pieces of art to decorate in our home with. Minted's mission statement of "our purpose in life is to uncover exceptional design from all over the world and bring this to savvy consumers who won't accept anything else" is visible the moment you see their products.

From this Bohemian print inspired by a stroll through an Italian Village...

to a rustic piece of Prince Edward Island...

to a "E is for Elephant" print fit for your littlest loves bedroom...

... there is certainly a piece of artwork on Minted's Art Marketplace that would fit your style and personality. Prints can be purchased in various sizes; as small as 5x7 to as large as 44x60. If you can't wait to get the print hung in that perfect spot, add a frame before checkout and it will go from box to wall in minutes.

There is no lack of options on Minted's user friendly website. No matter your need, style or budget, Minted has something for everyone. The only problem I'm now having is to decide which pieces I like best for our home. I think this one fits nicely, don't you?

 Be sure to visit Minted for your stationary, art and home decor needs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

MTT :: Romance & Parenting

As parents to a 2 year old, finding time for us has been difficult. One of the perks of moving back home was that we would have family and friends to take Connor from time to time, leaving us the chance to have quality time together. Often times, when we do have a sitter, we find ourselves running errands and doing things that would be more difficult with a child in tow. Just this weekend we had my brother in law watch C so we could go to the BMV.

When I added Romance & Parenting to the Mom Talk Tuesday list, I was challenging myself to come up with simple, manageable ways to etch out more us time in a very busy lifestyle. While some of these ideas are less than romantic, I can promise you that they will enhance the time you have together as a couple.

{ONE} Step Away From Your Phone
When you put the little ones to bed, you finally have YOU time. Why would you spend it in the time suck known as social media? The same goes for the time you have that's child free. I am guilty of having my phone within arms reach at all time but that shouldn't be in the case when I finally get a couple hours of James and Stephanie time. Put your phone in your purse and ignore it unless it's your sitter. Enjoy each others company. Don't worry about Instagramming your date. Just be in the date.

{TWO} Make The Most Of The Time You Have
More times then not, the only time we have together is when Connor heads to bed. Plan to cuddle up together and watch a movie, play a board game or tackle a DIY project together. Whatever it is you are doing before bed time, make it something you can do together. If you have a sitter, visit a local place you've been waiting to try. Whatever it is you do, plan your time together so you aren't left looking at each other asking the dreaded question "What do you wanna do?".

{THREE} Pay Attention
Be on the lookout for things your spouse loves and keep a mental or physical list. Then, introduce these little surprises whenever the time feels right. Funny back story: While driving in the car together, a commercial promoting a Kenny Rogers tour came on the radio. James said he would love to see Kenny in concert. Soon after I bought us tickets to the show. Little did I know James was being sarcastic but the best part was that we had one heck of a time at the show and it was one of the best concerts we've seen together.

{FOUR} Talk and Listen
Often time, I spend my days only talking to Connor. I love being able to share our days with James when he comes home. But what really validates what I do all day is when James listens to what I'm saying and asking questions and having a dialogue with me. The same goes for him. He wants to know that what he does, thinks and says matters. Talk to your partner or spouse. Turn away from any distractions and listen to each other. Have more conversations and less dead air. Your relationship will thank you!

{FIVE} Celebrate the Every Day
Life is busy and parenting can take it's toll on you and your relationships. Don't let it ruin what you had BEFORE you were parents. James and I still celebrate our dating anniversary and the 5th of the month marks another month we've been married. If anniversaries aren't you thing, celebrate the end of a long week with a fun dessert on Friday night and a new bottle of wine. Whatever you do, celebrate the every day successes your relationship.

Relationships take work. Toss in a child that is unpredictable and challenges everything you every knew and things start taking on a whole new shape. It's important to remember that you were a couple before you were parents. Take time for each other. Sprinkle in some romance. Love is what got you were you are so hold on to it, nourish it and allow it to flow throughout your relationship with your spouse and your child.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Toddler Bible Study :: Lesson 3 - SMILES

Isn't a smiling child more approachable than a child who looks angry? What if the only face your child sees for the entire day is yours? Would you want him or her to mimic your smile or your frown? Sharing God's word, one filled with SMILES and grace is a wonderful way to teaching your child that the importance of a happy demeanor. The Lord is showing us grace and blessing us with smiling faces each time we see our child's grin. Why not be the smiling example that God has set us up to be?

Click HERE to download a printable version of the image above.
Need details on our Toddler Bible Study Introduction? Click HERE.
Week 1 :: Listens
Week 2 :: Loves


Friday, February 20, 2015

Guess Who's Back?!

 ... back again.. Stephanie's back.. tell a friend ...

Bet you didn't see me as someone who raps Slim Shady from time to time, did you? Well I am...

... actually I'm not. #totalsuburbanMom

So we are settled in Ohio. It was a crazy couple of weeks. Between moving, unpacking, ridiculous weather and a sick Frank, I am ready for a bit of normalcy in our life. But instead of sharing the boring details of moving, unpacking and snotty noses, I thought I'd kick off the weekend with a little bit of what's on my mind these days...

I am happy to be home but I am not one bit excited about this mother flippin' weather. The high yesterday was 9 and the low... the low was -9. My weather app said it felt like -11 at one point. Say what?! This cold front has made Dayton colder than Anchorage, AK and Portland, Maine.

We have a list of to dos a mile long. From finding doctors, to switching our vehicle registration and driver's license to getting passports to shopping for the house and decorating, we have plenty to keep us busy for the next 3-4 weeks.

The temperatures/weather need to get it's act together so that we can get of the house more. I've bundled C and myself up more than once and braved the temps just so we didn't start suffering from cabin fever. I've found tons of indoors activities for the two of us to do and I plan to start adding those outings to our schedule come March 1st.

Connor has taken the transition to Ohio pretty well. Sleeping has been hit or miss but overall, I'm so impressed with how well he is rolled with the change. Next up on our agenda is to take his pacifier away. Friends, please send good vibes and happy thoughts my way when we attempt this. For the 3rd and final time. I have an idea of how to make it an easier transition but let's face it, with a 2 year old anything is possible. Good and bad.

I have a lot of great things in store for WMM and my readers for the month of March. I have some new products to share with you, a keepin' it real linkup is debuting and there will be an opportunity for boy Moms that I can't wait to share. 

Thank you to each and everyone of you who posted for me while we were making our move. Thank you to my readers that hung in there while I was busy. I'm back and can't wait to get into the swing of things again.

And for those of you suffering from Connoritis, here's a photo of him being.... well adorable!

Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Meet Amanda :: Kids and Cabernet

Hi Wife Mommy Me readers!  My name is Amanda and I blog at Kids and Cabernet.  I'm a SAHM to two kids (4, 2) and I have a love for decor, fashion, cooking, wine and of course anything mommy related.  On the first Wednesday of every month, I do a Wino Wednesday linkup where I feature a favorite wine and other readers do too!

I'm so excited to be guest posting here today while Stephanie moves.  We have lived at our current home for almost four years, and I remember the move like it was yesterday.  Moving is so hard and time consuming and requires all sorts of patience - even more so when kids are involved.  I like to always look for the light at the end of the tunnel, and that for me is when I can have family and friends over to see the new house and welcome them with a housewarming party.  I jump on any excuse to throw a party and I thought I'd share some (Pinterest inspired) ideas on throwing a housewarming party!

Of course the invitation sets the tone for the party and I think these are perfect - plus I'm sure they'll be plenty of boxes and bubble wrap left over, these invitations would be super inexpensive to make!

Love these utensil holders using paint chip samples - so appropriate, and again - basically free - it's a win, win!

When it comes to food, the menu should be kept simple - seeing as the person throwing it is probably still exhausted from unpacking and setting the house up just so.  Although kept simple, how fun is this food display? What about adding the Narrow Cordless Warming Tray to your table, as well? Not only will it keep your food at the appropriate temperature but it's sleek, stylish look will work with any table decor.

I came across this idea and loved it - it serves as a keepsake for your housewarming party and all of those who came.  Everyone is to sign their name on a stone with a little message, and the stones can be used in your garden/backyard and every time you look at them you can remember all of the special people in your life that came to the party.

Have you thrown a housewarming party before?  What are some ways you made it memorable? Thank you again Stephanie for the opportunity to guest post. I hope the move goes well and seamless for you!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Project Connor 365 :: Days 8-14

Taking photos of Connor daily has been such a fun experience. I've been practicing using different rooms and lighting to change up the settings on my camera. I am truly lovin' the photos I'm getting of him and will cherish them for years to come.

Favorites from this group of photos would have to be day 11 & 12. He was being so sweet during bath time (and by sweet I mean didn't fight one bit and didn't splash water halfway down the hall). Day 12 was snapped just as he was waking up from nap. I snapped just as he was lifting his leg up on the rail. Lucky for us, he hasn't tried escaping his crib just yet. 

Keep smiling CJ Frankenstein ... it looks beautiful on you! 

Previous Days:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Meet Linh :: A Beautiful RAWR

Hello sweet friends! I'm Linh and I blog over at A Beautiful RAWR - a lifestyle blog about fashion, food, fitness, and faith.

For the past month or so, I've been whipping up some new recipes and I am SUPER excited to share this one with you today. If you're anything like me, then you enjoy cooking meals that save time AND money without sacrificing taste.

I recently visited a friend who made this for me and I couldn't believe how easy it was to prepare! I was pretty skeptical, especially when I saw it baking in the oven because it didn't exactly look the way I thought it would, but it turned out DELICIOUS! Really juicy and flavorful :) All you need is 6 ingredients and $15-20 (depending on whether or not you already have some of the seasoning/condiments).

Here are the ingredients and easy steps:

INGREDIENTS: - 1/2 cup panko bread - 4 tablespoons steak seasoning - 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (but I used olive oil instead) - 3 tablespoons dijon mustard - 1 tablespoon garlic powder - 4 lb. boneless pork loin roast (optional - meat thermometer to test for doneness) Makes: 6-8 servings

Before we jump into the recipe, I want to share a great tool to keep your spices in place that provides a sleek, modern look, too. The Chemist's Spice Rack would be a wonderful way to have all the spices you need on hand at all time. With it's fun look and easy to read labels, it would be perfect for any kitchen.

STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Grab a pan, line it with foil, and lightly spray to prevent any sticking.

STEP 2: Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl and mix well. Place the roast on the foil and rub the mixture evenly over the roast.

STEP 3: Bake it for 15 minutes. Then reduce the oven to 325 degrees for about 45-50 minutes (or until the the thickest portion is 155 degrees if you have a meat thermometer to check. As you can see, I didn't so I just sliced into a section to see if it was done.)

STEP 4: Remove from oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes before slicing. Garnish as needed and enjoy!

I served the pork tenderloin with rice and steamed broccoli. I drizzled some of the marinade/seasoning onto the meat and the panko bread added a great crunchy flavor. My husband LOVED it so I will definitely be making this again soon.

Hope you try this recipe sometime! It only took 5 minutes to prepare and the remaining 45 minutes were spent relaxing with my little one while our meal was baking in the oven.

I hope you'll visit my blog or find me on Instagram (@abeautifulrawr) so we can get to know each other more. Thanks so much Stephanie for having me!


Monday, February 16, 2015

Meet Steph :: The Kat Almanac

Hello Wife Mommy Me readers! I'm so excited to be sharing with you today! My name is Steph and I blog over at The Kat Almanac where I talk about all my crazy adventures of a SAHM to two little boys!

I'm married to my high-school sweetheart and we have two boys A & M. I like to say that I'm been keeping the SAHM game real since 2012. Do I wash my hair once a week? You bet. Do I get to go to the bathroom alone? Not a chance. Have I slept through the night in the last 9 months? No way. Do I love my job? Absolutely! I'm an expert at Mega Blocks, can change a baby with one arm tied behind my back. I'm always thinking about my next meal (always). And I'm a Stitch Fix lovin' fool (even though most days I wear yoga pants).

Like Stephanie (coolest name eva by the way), I'm also an adopted Texan by the way of the Midwest. We've been here almost 9 years and I still can't believe it's been that long. We just love it here! I know that Stephanie already shared some of the things that she will miss about Texas, but I thought I would share a some of our favorite things about Texas!

The FOOD! I like to say I love my kids, my husband, and FOOD! In that order. Texans are serious about their food. If you want to piss someone off mention that you think "wet" bbq (aka like a saucy Memphis bbq) is better then a dry rub and you will have one hot Texan on your hands. So much good stuff here guys. Before we moved to Texas I had never had smoked brisket, breakfast tacos, Cajun food or anything spicy. There is so much diversity in the food too - Czech kolaches, German kebap, and Cajun etouffee. Some of our favorites are Hard Eight BBQ, Torchy's Tacos, and Gourdough's Dougnuts.

Weather. Our biggest draw. 60 degrees in January? Yes please! Sure it's like the devil's sauna in July. But I explain it this way. In Illinois, we had 3-4 months of really nice weather and 9 months of potentially crappy weather the rest of the time. And in winter you mostly hunker down at home and find indoor stuff to do. Here it's the opposite: you have 3 months of hot weather in the summer (where you hunker down at home) and 9 months of awesome! Even when it does get "cold" it's usually in the 40s. I can handle that! Plus, when we do get winter weather in the form of sleet, ice or even a little dusting of snow, it's an event and the whole city shuts down! Most of the time, we are outside ALL THE TIME! From hiking, to walking, to playing at the parks, train rides, kayaking, to just sitting outside to eat lunch in February, being outside is a way of life in Austin.

We took this picture a few years ago in January for A's first birthday. January!!

Football! "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose." Don't get me wrong, we will always be Chicago Bears fans, but it's been fun going to games around Texas from the Alamodome, Texas Cotton Bowl, Texas Stadium, and The University of Texas! And don't forget high school games! Those Friday night lights are king here in small town Texas! 

Regions. Where else do you have the deserts of West Texas, the piney woods of East Texas, Hill Country rivers of Central Texas, the state fair in DFW and the tropics of Houston/Gulf? We love to day trip Fredricksburg, Gruene, and Salado. Weekend jaunts to Port Aransas and Dallas are our favorites! So many possibilities and we don't even have to leave our state.

The legacy (disclaimer - before I was a SAHM I was an Architectural Historian so I'm nerdy about history stuff)! Any native will be quick to tell you they are a Texan. Most can tell you what generation they are. In my work, I researched 5th and 6th generation families that were part of the original Old Three Hundred. Everywhere you turn, the legacy of Texas abounds. I'm so proud to say that our sons are Texans!

We miss our friends and family back home but we've really made Texas our place, our home. And I can't wait to see what it has in store for us next!