January 26, 2015

Valentine's Day Bird Feeders - Craft for Kids

I like to keep an arsenal of kids' project ideas on hand (on my Pinterest Board) for days where we are stuck inside, a holiday is approaching, or we are just looking to do something creative. When I saw this simple colorful bird feeder, I knew it would be great for both my 2 and 4 year old (I got my idea from here). Plus, it helped that I only had to buy a box of Fruit Loops and I had pipe cleaners on hand. True story, I get crazy self conscious when buying foods like this and want to tell everyone that looks at me, "Don't worry! I am not feeding these to my children, it is just for a project!" I am crazy, I know. But, I try to impart healthy food choices upon my children and artificially flavored sugar cereal just isn't part of our daily breakfast rotation. 

First up, all you need is a few pipe cleaners, some cereal with holes (I wanted something colorful for Valentines' Day!) and a bit of string to hang them in the tree!

Have your kids start stringing the cereal onto the pipe cleaners.

When it starts looking full, slide some cereal aside and bend the bottom into a point.

Next, take the ends and twist them together. Push them down to create a heart shape. This takes a little playing around with, but not hard to do!

My two year old usually checks out part way through, but he concentrated so hard and did a great job! Great activity for fine motor skills here.

Ready to hang! Just tie a small piece of string at the top so you can hang them up.

Cute, right? Let me know if you give it a try!

January 23, 2015

Sunday Dinner: Baked Potato Bar

With football season coming to an end, I thought I'd share the perfect (easy) Sunday dinner, sure to please all the big and little ones in your life. The best part is that almost everything can be done ahead of time AND leftovers are a great addition to your bar. I like to make the potatoes just before serving, as they get a bit dry if made too far in advance. I simply wash them, poke some holes, and coat in some canola oil and kosher salt. Place them in your oven directly on the rack and bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees. Be sure to place a pan under the rack to catch any drippings.

Next, set up your toppings! Here's a look at what we used:

-Roasted broccoli - I simply toss of EVOO and salt, then bake at 385 degrees for about 20 minutes.
-Caramalized onions - YUM! These take the same amount of time to prepare as the potatoes, so you can make them then or advance. Here's the recipe I followed.
-Shredded cheese (we had cheddar on hand, so that's what we used).
-Bacon - I made sure to make extra for breakfast, then chopped it up and stored it in the fridge for baked potato night.
-Chopped scallions
-Seasoned ground turkey (I was making tacos the next evening, so I simply made a bit extra and saved the rest for the tacos).
-Leftover barbecue pulled pork (again, leftovers in the fridge from two nights previous! Perfect for topping potatoes!).

Certainly there are tons of other options that would work.
-Any veggies, like peppers, asparagus or corn would be great.
-Most people like sour cream on their potatoes, so that would work as well.
-For vegetarians, serve up some beans to add a little further substance.
-Leftover chili? Delish! You could use your slow cooker during the day to make some and when the potatoes are ready that night, load it up!

Have a great weekend!

January 20, 2015

What's On My Nook

I hope  everyone had a great long weekend! We enjoyed 60 degree days down here and spent most of our time outside with family and friends. This week looks beautiful as well, so I am incredibly excited!

Here is a quick look into what's currently on my Nook:

What I've Read: Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Ok, this was deeply disturbing, but really good. If you liked any of Gillian Flynn's books (I was seriously depressed when I finished all three), then give this a try. A young woman is abducted by a man from an open house she is hosting and taken to a isolated cabin in the woods of an unknown location. Be ready to be chilled to the bone and terrified at how incredibly creepy the abductor is.  I greatly enjoyed the book and stayed up many a late night to finish!

What I am Reading: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.

What I Want to Read Next: Cartwheel by Jennifer duBoys.

I don't know too much about this book other than it was loosely based on the Amanda Knox trial, the American student studying abroad in Italy who was charged (then convicted, then acquitted) with the murder of her roommate.  The story is about a young girl, studying abroad in Buenos Aires, charged with murdering her roommate and follows her as she is held in prison awaiting trial. It looks interesting, suspenseful and like something I would enjoy. I like stories that switch back in forth between present and past, so I can't wait to give this a try!

What I want to read next : Still Alice by Lisa Genova.

I have had this book on my list for years, and a sample on my Nook, but now I see it's a movie starring Julienne Moore  (and has Oscar buzz) so I am moving it to the top of my list. The main character, Alice, a successful linguistics professor, wife and mother of three, is given a devastating diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's.  I hope to read it before I get the chance to see the movie! Here's the trailer below:

So, what's on your reading list? I always love to hear great recommendations!