Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hooray for a Giveaway!

Who doesn't love winning things? I certainly do, and today I've teamed up with my friend Megan from The Decor Photo Store on Facebook and Etsy to bring you a pretty sweet little giveaway.

One person will win Megan's Sea Mist and Lace camera strap! Megan hand makes all of her beautiful straps and this is one of her latest designs. Gorgeous!

To enter simply follow the instructions in the Rafflecoptee widget below. And remember: if you do the "Leave a Blog Comment" entry, DO NOT answer via the widget. You must answer via an actual blog comment or else I can't see it! 

You can see Megan's other beautiful designs on Facebook or check out her Etsy shop :)

Good luck!! Contest ends on Sunday night at Midnght PST and winners will be announced on Monday. Open to U.S. only, must be 18 or over to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 24, 2014

Weekend Round Up!

Oh Monday. You came a little too quickly for me this week.

Even though I don't have a "job" per say (but seriously, this stay at home business is 24/7 duty here) that makes me dread Mondays, I always look forward to weekends when Derek is home because...well, weekends mean he's home. 

This weekend ended up being a fairly busy one for us. Saturday began with our usual weekend Costco run. We love Costco. Seriously. Conner likes it because he gets to sit in the basket of the oversized carts and eat snacks, and Derek and I like it because we browse every aisle checking out the different gadgets and snacks they've stocked lately...and of course because of the samples. Let's face it: everyone loves samples. We also had a party to go to that afternoon, and Costco is always a great place to find interesting snacks. We grabbed a bag of pita chips and this cheddar pimento dip that is kind of amazeballs to bring with us (because I hate showing up anywhere empty handed). Late Saturday afternoon we headed to a promotion party or "wet down" for one of the guys Derek works with. It's always great to see everyone in our little Army family. And the food was super yummy. We munched on bulgogi, steamed rice, salad, bread, dips and fruits. I love that kind of stuff :)

Sunday is always our big errand day. Conner and Derek both needed haircuts so we started out heading to the PX barber shop on our base. One of the ladies who works there is absolutely fabulous with kids and Conner loves her, so we always make a point to see her. Conner sits in Daddy's lap, Miss Tip hands him a fistful of lollipops and a mirror and the dude is pleasent as can be. She was seriously a lifesaver when Derek was deployed and Conner was in an "I hate haircuts" phase. Now he sits happily :)

After haircuts we picked up a few things in the Exchange and headed to the commissary. We relaxed a bit afterwards and then enjoyed "make your own pizza night" for dinner. Always a fave :)

Now that it's Monday and rainy and chilly here on the West Coast, Conner and I are both nursing colds and hanging indoors. You'll find me on the couch with a hot cup of something during nap time for sure. BUT I do have a rockin' pot of homemade meatballs and tomato gravy on the stove to cook all day for dinner tonight, so that's a definite win!

Hope you all have a great week!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Saturday Picture Post

I love taking pictures of Conner. I think that's no secret. Two Christmases ago, while deployed, Derek sent me probably the most thoughtful, awesome gift he's ever given me...a Canon Rebel T3. I've always wanted to dabble in photography, and this is a killer camera to get started with. I love it!

I'm by no means a great photographer. But I've bought some books and I'm learning a lot more about the features of my camera and I love chasing C Man around and snapping shots here and there. My editing skills are pretty sad...I upload my pics into iPhoto and use their basic editing tools to adjust contrast, exposure etc. I may not be superb, but I love the pictures I take and I have fun doing it and that's what matters most!

Here are some recent shots of the dude. Enjoy! Happy Saturday!

Until next time!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Packing a Diaper Bag...When You Have a Toddler!

I've learned over the past two years that packing a diaper bag is sort of an art form...and an evolving one at that! Looking back, my diaper bag's contents have changed with every stage of Conner from infancy to now toddlerhood. I think it's probably safe to say that it's easy to find lists and tips all over the place for diaper bag essentials...for babies.

But what about the toddler? For those mommas, like me, who still make use of a diaper bag, what are the necessities? Once you're out of the "bottles, bibs, burpcloths and binkies" (etc) stage, what do you need in a diaper bag?

While every kid and momma are different, here are my diaper bag essentials for the toddler :)

Start with your favorite bag. As mentioned in a recent What I'm Loving post, you all know I'm obsessed with my Vera Bradley bag!

In my bag you'll find...

Diapers and wipes (or if you're potty trained, a spare pair of undies and a wet bag or ziploc in case of accidents)

A quart sized bag with the following
- hand sanitizer
- a small bottle of children's Tylenol with dosage taped to the side
- a syringe
- a basic thermometer
- a small bottle of Triple Paste
- a copy of Conner's vaccine record

A small cosmetics bag for me! Filled with
- a few hair ties
- lip balm
- tampons (or a few pads if you prefer)
- travel sized lotion
- travel sized ibuprofen 
- a couple of pens and a thing of Post-its (you never know when you need a note!)

A mini first aid kit. I love the MediBuddy kit from me4kidz that I picked up at Babies R Us not too long ago. It's about the size of a glasses case, so nice and small, and includes fun band aids, moist towelettes, antibiotic ointment, burn gel, gauze pads and a sting relief wipe. Plus stickers to make boo boos really all better :) it's a great little kit for a great price ($4.99!) and has all the necessities to care for a little boo boo at the park. These are available on the Toys R Us website :)

A pack of Boogie Wipes I like these better than tissues or baby wipes for little runny noses because they're super soft and have saline in them which helps loosen stuck on boogers. You can get these at Target.

Shout Wipes Nothing works better at getting out a stain in a jif! Need proof? My husband decided to smush the cupcake at our wedding and got red icing on my dress. No one ever knew though, because I planned ahead and brought Shout Wipes :)

Snacks! Staples for the dude include
- squeezy applesauce
- Goldfish crackers
- Animal crackers (we love the organic ones from Costco!)

A sippy cup with milk, water or juice

A few small books

A couple of toy cars

Some mommas might still prefer to carry a spare outfit in their diaper bag, but as Conner's gotten older and his clothes have gotten bigger, I prefer to skip the extra bulk in the bag. I keep a spare change of clothes for him in the car now, instead :)

Would you add anything to the list, or change anything? Let me know what your toddler diaper bag essentials are!

Monday, February 17, 2014

What I'm Loving!

It's a new week! Happy Monday! Here's what I'm loving :)

Yellow tulips and red roses
Why? Well for one they're beautiful...and for two Derek and Conner snuck out on Valentine's Day and arrived home each with an armful of flowers for me :) The yellow tulips were from my baby boy and roses from the hubby.

California Baby Aromatherapy Calming Bubble Bath
Besides the fact that I LOVE California Baby products to the umpteenth degree, their aromatherapy bubble baths are sooooo yummy smelling and sooooo bubbly! And I'm not talking sticky sweet smells and bubbles that are totally gone in two minutes. I'm talking fresh, enjoyable scents (the calming bubble bath has calendula, pansy, aloe and lavender in it) and bubbles that outlast the bath itself. I love this stuff so much that Conner isn't the only one who enjoys it...I use it too! 

Oh, and bonus? It comes with a bubble wand in the bottle so you can make extra bubbles during bath time fun :) You can find this awesome bubble bath (and other scents too!) at Target or from the California Baby website.

Aladdin Aqua-To-Go Tumbler
Another awesome Target buy, this is my favorite cup ever. It's good for keeping drinks cold because of the double layer, which also prevents this cup from sweating which is awesome. My other favorite feature of this cup is that in addition to the fun colors it comes in, you can also purchase extra straws for the cup (which, the straws are great and dishwasher safe!)...some of which change colors. Yep. How fun is that?
You can get your's here on Target.com or at your local Target store.

Happy by Pharell
If you haven't heard this jam yet, stop reading this post and go download it on iTunes. Because it's awesome. And you can't have a bad day listening to it.

Boo Boo Bunnies
Did you have one of these as a kid? I did. It's a washcloth shaped into a bunny that you pop an ice cube in the middle of for making boo boos feel better without getting cold fingers. And guess what? My mom just sent one out for Conner. I love these things...isn't he cute?? 

You can get one just like Conner's online. I found Creative Creations by Ruth on Etsy who sells em for $5 plus shipping :)

So what are you loving this week??? Comment below and share one of your favorite things :)

Until next time!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What's Cookin' Good Lookin'? Giant Stuffed Arrancini

Last week I busted out a dinner that was seriously pure deliciousness. Arrancini is technically an appetizer or snack of fried risotto balls, typically made with leftover risotto. I happen to love arrancini and I cook risotto often enough to have a container of arborio rice in my pantry along with the other ingredients necessary...so I decided to turn the idea of yummy little fried rice balls into a full on meal.

This dish is a bit time consuming, but you can prep most of it way ahead of time (you can even make the risotto a day or two before).

My risotto recipe came from a good friend, so it's not mine to share, but if you are in need of a really good, easy to follow risotto recipe, you can check out this arrancini recipe from Gordon Ramsay on Epicurious.com and follow the first half of the recipe which is for his risotto. If you're not a mushroom lover, you can omit the mushroom step and add water to your chicken stock and a little extra cheese at the end.

For my giant stuffed arrancini you will need:

Cooked and cooled risotto (as the Gordon Ramsay recipe states, if you need to cool your risotto quickly, spread it out on a baking sheet covered with wax paper and pop it in the fridge. I tried this myself and it worked great)
1 lb ground turkey
Tomato sauce (approximately one jar...I used leftover homemade)
Fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
About 1 cup of flour
3 eggs, scrambled
Italian seasoned bread crumbs
Olive oil

In a pan, brown your ground turkey. Add in tomato sauce and let simmer for a few minutes, then fold in the shredded Parmesan cheese until melted.

Take a small handful of cooled risotto, cup your hand and form it into a patty. Place a piece of cubed mozzarella inside and a spoonful of the tomato-meat sauce. Take another handful of risotto and form it over top, then gently roll together to form a ball. You should end up with a rice ball about the size of a lemon.

Once you've used all of the risotto, roll each ball lightly in flour, dip in the egg and then coat with breadcrumbs. Set your coated arrancinis in the fridge for at least 15 minutes (though making these several hours ahead would be fine too). This will make them easier to pan fry.

In a large frying pan, coat the bottom with olive oil (or what ever you prefer to pan fry with) and heat. Place a few of the arrancinis in the pan, and cook until they are golden brown (you will need to flip them and roll them a bit in the pan), about 3-5 minutes each.

I served mine piping hot on top of the remaining meat sauce, and with sautéed zucchini. These were a huge hit and a definite make-again!

Monday, February 10, 2014

What I'm Loving!

Do you ever have those things that you find and you just kinda fall in love with? Like a new shirt or a gadget that makes your life easier? I love when that happens...

So I'm starting a new feature here where every week or so I'll share what I'm currently loving...and I'd love to hear yours too! So be sure and leave me a comment and let me know what you're loving :)

So here's what I'm currently loving...

1) The Maddie Top from Kiki La'Rue
KLR recently had an awesome sale where I scored their Maddie Top for 30% off. This was my first purchase from them, having been introduced to KLR by Cari from Adventures of the Roberts and I must say I'm impressed! The product descriptions on their website give measurements and sizes for several different women (who are real people...they work for Kiki La'Rue!) and people who've reviewed their products also give you a great idea of sizing for each product. I ordered my top and put a quick little note to say thanks on my order and in less than 5 days my package had arrived! And bonus? Because it was my first order, KLR included a little measuring tape for me to use if I need it for future orders. How awesome is that? That's good customer care right there.
The top itself is super comfy, really nice feeling material that didn't stretch out as I wore it all day and the shape of the top is SOOOOO figure flattering. It's the kind of top anyone can wear. It flows nicely, hides my "mommy pooch" and looks really cute. It's a great top to accessorize too...a chunky necklace or great scarf would look adorable with this top.

2) Maskcara (<- click to take you to her blog!)
Cara is a makeup blogger who is all over Pinterest and Instagram. She's got some seriously amazing makeup tutorials...and part of why I love her so much is because she's a momma who's done several super quick looks geared for busy moms (she's got a 4 minute makeup tutorial that's awesome!) and some of her posts are done using all drugstore makeup buys!

3) My Vera Bradley diaper bag
I'm kind of a Vera junkie...and a diaper bag whore. Put your hands together and you've got a very happy me! I've got a bunch of Vera bags but perhaps the most practical one I have is this diaper bag I picked up last year. I love this one because it makes keeping a clean, organized diaper bag ridiculously easy. The front pocket of the bag zips down on both sides to reveal a detachable changing pad and two pockets to house diapers and wipes. Genius! The backside has a large zippered pocket, the sides feature bottle/sippy cup pockets and inside has plenty of space and pockets for whatever you need. I especially love Vera bags because...begin heavenly singing...most of them are washable. Not just wipeable like most diaper bags...full on throw it in the washer, washable.

4) Flipping Out
Jeff Lewis has a personality that may not be for everyone, but I will full on admit that I love him and I think he's a crazy talented interior designer. And Jenny Pulous...I want to be her BFF. The new season of Flipping Out begins on Wednesday, March 5th on Bravo. Get excited.

5) Essie's Fiji nail lacquer
The perfect bubbly pink for a Valentine's mani :)