Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lessons in $ with Monopoly

On odd occurrence, Carter & I were alone in the house and I had predetermined to say yes, no matter what he requested to do together. He picked (Electronic) Monopoly. We both like this game, mostly because one of us typically wins in our family, I presume.
This time it was just him and me. I was winning-which explains his facial expression. He doesn't like when his trusted strategy (buying all the railroads, collecting 2,000,000 on each landing) doesn't work; neither does his mama, so I keep my heckling under restraint. 
Electronic Monopoly, like real life, has progressed to the more convenient "swipe" over exchanging paper dollars and only the banker regularly sees your balance. You don't feel the money moving in or out, which isn't exactly conducive to smart money, so I wasn't sure I liked my young kids learning the practice.
Me: Carter, are you going to buy it?
Carter: No.
Me: Really? Why not? You have enough. 
Carter: Yeah, I know, but I need to have an emergency fund.

Way to "act your wage", son!
It's funny how playing board games can bring out things they are picking up from us, parents.
I don't even remember who won, honestly, because that was the real win for me.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Frozen Party | Olaf Party | #DisneySide home celebration

We certainly showed our Disney Side this weekend, throwing a party with a Frozen theme, featuring the more boyish side with Olaf, Sven, and Kristoff in honor of the birthday boy.
As I mentioned earlier, I was selected to host a #DisneySide home celebration, and received luggage and Mickey & friends party supplies-which we plan to use for another party, because we couldn't resist a Frozen party.
First, we set the tone with this ticket invitation: 
No decorations outside necessary; the morning of the party, our place had the eternal Winter look down perfectly.

Here's a look at some of the decorations:
Silver & white balloons were strung on white ribbon and hung from ceiling above Olaf. While snowflakes dangled from the chandelier.

Reindeer food (Chex & Cheerios cereal, peanuts, pretzels, & M&Ms covered in white chocolate) berry-blue flavored water, white cheddar popcorn & Olaf noses were perfect for munching.

We kept the house full of 8 year olds occupied with a few snowman activities: 
Do you wanna build a snowman? 
I made individual kits ahead: Marshmallows: 3 regular & 2 mini. Toothpicks: 2, 1 cut in half, and 1/2 toothpick pushed into the center of an orange Mike-n-Ike for the nose. 
We used black gel tubes to add buttons & faces. The snowman treats were gobbled up immediately after assembled! No toothpicks eaten, phew.
Next up: Teams were formed, 1 snowman selected in each group. Groups were set equidistant from a central location and given 2 rolls of toilet paper, a hat & scarf. 
The object: Wrap your snowman, topped with hat & scarf & get your snowman to the central base without "melting" (toilet paper falling off). Winner had the least melting (and got to eat the piece of cake with Olaf's face on it-most coveted piece.)

We did a little ice magic too using this tutorial.

The birthday boy is quite creative himself, and was in charge of the cake & favor. He chose an edible image for the cake and it was a HUGE hit-there were a few broken hearts over getting a piece with a face.

We love this clever idea & printable to use as a favor. He chose fire balls & rock candy to represent "The HOT & the COLD".  I won't soon forget picking through the bulk bin for the icy blue colored rock candy, both Carter & I giggling. 
He's a great kid. Tucking him in after the party, he said it was the best day of his life. He melts me. As Olaf says, "Some people are worth melting for."

Source List: 
Olaf balloon: Amazon
Olaf/Sven/Kristoff invite: Etsy
Olaf (favor) printable: My Sister's Suitcase
Olaf table cards: Etsy
Plaid runner & sparkly mesh: Hobby Lobby
Turquoise wood-grained runner: JCPenney Martha Celebrations wrapping paper
Brown rope & jewel snowflakes: JCPenney 
Branches: Hobby Lobby
Flavored Water: Aldi
Galvanized milk jug: WalMart
Party plates, cups, napkins: WalMart
White & Silver balloons: Walmart
Cake: Tops Markets
Reindeer Food recipe: Alton Brown
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Monday, February 10, 2014

when mom's sick

Snowflakes have perpetually fallen here in central NY for weeks. If you follow me on Instagram you saw that since we live on the end of the cul-de-sac, the snow plow creates a sledding hill right in our front yard. (if not, check it out here).
With cold temps, come colds. And 4 of 5 of us have each been knocked out with painful sore throats and ears, drippy noses & eyes. I thought I had escaped the germs coughed into my face, but naturally, my turn came. And I feel so badly that I didn't coddle even more, now that I feel how they must have felt. 
Lilah's funk lasted longest & started clearing just as it came down hard on me
Lilah: Mom, can you make me bacon and eggs?
Me: Lilah, mommy doesn't feel good.
Lilah: pause
Lilah: head cocked to the side. brown eyes staring into mine.
Lilah: So, what about those eggs and bacon?

 Reminded me of this ecard.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Frozen party for boys | My Disney Side Party

Guess what?! A few weeks back the big brown truck delivered a big brown box from Disney! We gathered around for the ceremonious opening of the box to find American Tourister luggage filled with loads of party supplies and more. I am thrilled to be selected to host a Disney Side party and Carter immediately took ownership, asking to make it his upcoming birthday party.

A Winter party in a town that could easily have been the inspiration for eternal Winter was just begging for a Frozen theme. And let's face it, we are the family with no need for the lyrics & bouncing snowflake at the bottom of the screen to sing along, because we've been immersed in the soundtrack since opening weekend. "MAAAAAAHHHHMM! EVERY. WORD. TO. THE. SONGS. IS. INSIDE!!", a nearly breathless Carter shared with me when he opened this primitive form of music called a CD.

We're skipping the princess sisters and focusing on the boyish side: snowman treats and games for Olaf, Reindeer food and snowy woods decor for Sven and Kristoff.

Printable ticket invites, found on etsy, couldn't have been more perfect.
For a decorations I'm planning something like this, but with blue instead of red:
If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I scored a few Winter items at 90% off at Hobby Lobby.

I've been pinning away over on my #DisneySide party board, feel free to check it out.
Here are a few of my favorite Frozen finds:

From to row (left to right):
I'm still brainstorming kid-approved & Frozen-themed food.
Bottom row (left to right):
I happened upon a lovely Frozen party at If you have a girl, I'd check it out. Her white treats are so pretty, popcorn is perfect except for the inevitable trail (eek!)

Spoonful makes an adorable Olaf-inspired cupcake.
You should see this impressive Olaf & Sven cake!

My board has much more, including activities for the smaller set: snow slime, easy indoor snow, snowball playdough, snow painting, and more.
Check it all out here on my Pinterest #disneyside board. 

I've updated THE GLAD I READ THESE DISNEY WORLD TIPS & TRICKS SERIES, to include FastPass+, Magic Bands, and Memory Maker information
Check them out here:

Disney World with a Baby/Toddler (Pinterest favorite)
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Wednesday, February 5, 2014


With a growing family, a big batch of granola, stored in a clear container on the counter is a good thing.
Using Ina's recipe as a base, I switched up the oil for coconut oil and used a bit less honey (1/4c) (Agave Nectar works too, I just add less because it's so sweet.)
Combine 4c old fashioned oats (not the quick cooking), 1 1/2-2c coconut flakes, 2c almonds, slivered. Melt the coconut oil & whisk in honey (if you use the same measuring cup you did for the oil to measure the honey, it slips right out!) Toss the oat mixture with the oil and spread it on a half sheet pan.
Bake on 350 for 30-40min. Stay nearby the oven around 30 minutes to check in & avoid over-toasting the coconut. I cleaned & organized my spice drawer.
When it's toasty brown, pull it out & let it cool a few min-push it together if you like your granola clumpy. Add dried fruits & seeds. I like Trader Joes orange-flavored dried cranberries & dried cherries are yummy too. Chia or flax seeds are nice to mix in also. Try adding dried apricots, figs, pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
The best thing about homemade granola is it's more of a method than a recipe, that you can customize to your preferences. 
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Penne with bacon & tomato-cream sauce

When I found this preservative-free, uncured bacon at Aldi I scooped it up along with Organic diced tomatoes, whole wheat penne, and heavy cream because I knew I could make a quick weeknight meal out of it.
I mentioned before that Aldi has a growing selection of Organic, preservative-free, nitrate-free items to choose from at their famously low prices and I've been shopping there for a few months.

My husband was working late and I decided to rearrange the furniture in our master bedroom after homework was complete, before I knew it, the clock was nearing 7pm and the kids-occupied with hopping from mattress to boxsprings-hadn't eaten dinner. In about 20 minutes, this pasta & salad were on the table.

I followed Buddy Valastro's Penne Alla Vodka (minus the vodka) recipe, with a few adjustments.
  • 1/2 c instead of 1c heavy cream (once it's whipped up, I find 1/2c to be plenty.)
  • Bacon (Applegate or SimplyNature for uncured, preservative-free choices) instead of Pancetta.
  • Whole wheat penne
  • 28oz can of diced tomatoes because that's what Aldi has in Organic. 
  • (I added a splash of dry red wine to the onion & garlic before the tomatoes just because I had it.)
Put a glass bowl in the freezer. Chop the onion, garlic, and bacon while water is boiling. Saute bacon first & pull it out along with some of the grease. Saute the onion & garlic next, add the tomatoes and bacon back in before you throw the pasta in the boiling water. Meanwhile, whip the cream in the cold, glass bowl. Drain the pasta. Add the spices & the cream to the tomatoes & turn off the heat.

Simply Nature Organic spring mix (Aldi), grape tomatoes and vinaigrette-I like Gwyneth's standby-make the perfect compliment to this quick meal. My kids asked for thirds of the pasta and only two paid any attention to the salad. There was nothing but a big spoonful left for daddy when he got home.
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