Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide for Him

I don't know about your husband/dad/brother, but I always have the most difficult time figuring out what to buy for mine! The men in my life never want anything, so when you ask them the answer is always "I don't know." Here are some ideas for the men in your life! 


Tech Gifts

For the Runner/Athlete

Lululemon is my go-to when it comes to running clothes for Michael. Their Silverescent Technology really works - his clothes don't smell after a long run!

All the Rest

Hopefully this will help give you some inspiration! Happy gifting!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Family Movie Night

One of my favorite things to do over the holidays is to cozy up on the couch with the tree lit and have Family Movie Night! We make hot cocoa (I just found this recipe for Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate that I'm excited to try), eat popcorn (I can't wait to try this White Chocolate Popcorn) , and enjoy lots of family time. We have a pretty extensive movie collection, which is nice because it gives us the freedom to watch them whenever we want, but Freeform is showing a lot of them if you don't already own them/want to buy them. This is just the primetime schedule, but if you go to their website you'll find the full schedule.

Here are some of my favorites if you want to add to your collection:

1. Elf
11. Best Man Holiday (if you haven't seen The Best Man you should!) *

Movies marked with an asterisk are movies that Michael and I enjoy, but aren't necessarily movies we watch with Sophia and Carter. On that note, there is no shortage of original Christmas movies on The Hallmark Channel, so definitely check that out as well! They've actually already started showing their Christmas movies, so anytime you're in the mood for a little holiday cheer, you can tune in!

If you're going to get cozy you need the proper attire, right? I linked some options above, but here are some more! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide for Kids

I can't believe it's already November! Thanksgiving is just three weeks away, which means that, if you're like me, you might be starting your Christmas shopping. Target is having some pretty good sales on toys (20% off with code KIDSGIFTS) and games (buy two get one free) right now, so I thought I'd start with a Holiday Gift Guide for Kids. Not everything on the list is from Target, but most things are.

1. Bend a Path Track - my sister ordered this for Carter two years ago, and last year she got it for our nephew. They both love it! I love it because it's easy to set up and clean up! This year I'm getting Carter the additional 6' track and firetruck as well as the accessory bundle.

2. RC Battle Copters - When I turned on the tv last weekend for some reason it was on HSN (this is seriously weird because I don't think I've ever watched it before) and they were showing the Bend A Path track. I was sucked in (the reason I ordered the additional track and accessories) and ended up continuing to watch while they showed the battle helicopters. I think the reason I like this so much is that it comes with two copters in two separate boxes, so you're getting two gifts in one. I think Sophia and Carter will really like these!

3. Anki Overdrive Starter Kit - We saw this demo'd when we were in NYC a few years ago. I like that you use your smart phone to control the cars, so you don't have to worry about having extra batteries on hand for the remotes (just remember to charge your phone!). And I love that the starter kit comes with two cars, so both kids can play at the same time!

4. Lego Minecraft Crafting Box - This is one of my favorite Lego sets Carter has gotten because it comes with directions to build multiple things. In other words, once he's finished building one thing, we don't put it on display to never be touched again, he enjoys it for awhile and then can take it apart and build something new. Even if your child isn't a Minecraft fan, this is a great set to buy!

5. Lego Elves - Sophia loves these sets! Of course, with these she does just build them and then put them on display, but she has fun while doing it! 

6. Magna-Tiles - These magnetic shape tiles are so much fun! It comes with directions on how to build several different three-dimensional figures, which Sophia and Carter love, but they also enjoy getting creative and building new and different things.

7. Kapla Blocks - These building blocks remind me a little of Jenga pieces.

8/9/10. Dash / Ozobot / Ollie - If your child enjoys coding, these three coding robots are a lot of fun!

11. Pottery Cool - Sophia got this for her birthday, and I was surprised at how easy (and not ridiculously messy) it was to create pottery. 

12. Qixels 3D Maker Set - We have the original Qixels, which was recommended to me by Carter's Kindergarten teacher as a great way to work on improving fine motor skills. Both kids love them, and Carter was pretty excited when he saw they now have this 3D maker set.

13. Aquabeads - These remind me of the Qixels in that you need water to "glue" the beads together and create different designs.

14/15/16/17/18/19. Blokus / Trouble / Hedbanz / Skip-Bo / Bellz / Sequence - We love having family game nights, and these games are some of our favorites.

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

NYC With Kids

I decided to share our most recent trip to NYC with our kids as well as a short recap of the Christmas trip we took there two years ago in case you're thinking about visiting with your kids. When we went the first time, Carter was in Kindergarten and Sophia was in first grade. I wouldn't recommend taking your kids any earlier than that, because even with subway rides there is a lot of walking, and there aren't a lot of things to do and see that are geared toward three year olds.

Christmas in NYC

When we went in 2014 were able to do all of the Christmassy activities you think of in New York - Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, Macy's Santaland (we didn't visit Santa here because the line was RIDICULOUS, but we mailed our letters to Santa while we were there), frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3, and ice skating in Central Park. We also visited Bryant Park to ride the carousel and the 9/11 Memorial. We didn't visit the 9/11 museum because we didn't think it was appropriate at their age, but the fountains were enough to bring me to tears. I couldn't resist sharing a few photos. I can't believe how much Sophia and Carter have changed in two years (not to mention my hair color....so dark!).

Radio City Christmas Spectacular is one of my favorite shows and it's a great way to kick off the holiday season! Make sure you stick around for the living nativity at the end. It's not to be missed!

The frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3 was definitely worth the long wait!

Look at how little they are! Macy's is a madhouse, but it was worth it to mail our letters to Santa!

We spent a lot of time in Central Park. Sophia and Carter loved climbing on the rocks and the playgrounds are fun too! If you want to ice skate, skip Rockefeller Center and go to the Central Park skating rink. We arrived at the rink about an hour before they closed and didn't have to wait long at all to get on the ice.

Fall in NYC

 Since we did NYC at Christmas, we decided to go back this year in the fall and combine the trip with  a fall foliage/apple picking trip upstate. The last time we were there we didn't do any of the big touristy things like Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, etc, and we knew we wanted to, so I ended up buying us all a NYC CityPASS. It seemed to hit all of the main attractions we planned on visiting, and it was a good value for everything included. If you're there for longer than two days, I'd recommend it, but we didn't get the use out of it that we'd hoped with only two full days in NYC. We only ended up visiting the American Museum of Natural History, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, and The Met (the views on the rooftop bar are pretty cool, especially at night), so we would have been better off getting the C3 option. Oh well, lesson learned.

American Museum of Natural History

The kids loved the American Museum of Natural History, especially since we'd just rewatched Night at the Museum on the plane ride there.  Here Carter and I are doing our best scared faces as we posed with "Rexy."

Sophia is a pretty good little photographer. :)

Top of the Rock

We planned on visiting both the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, but after visiting the Top of the Rock we decided to skip the ESB. Michael and I have been to both, and the views are equally spectacular, but I'm not sure you really need to visit both of them just for the view.

Roof Garden Bar at The Met

The Met isn't necessarily geared towards kids, but we mainly went there for the roof garden bar. We did enjoy looking at the paintings by Monet and Van Gogh, though.

Central Park

Both kids love climbing all of the big rocks in Central Park, and they have some awesome playgrounds. Carter also enjoyed playing Pokemon Go in the park. We ended up visiting the park both days we were there.

Broadway Show

You can't go to NYC without seeing a show, so we decided to go see Lion King this trip. I wasn't sure what to expect with people playing animals, but we all absolutely loved it! If you have a somewhat flexible schedule there are TKTS Discount Booths located throughout the city. They also have an app. We were only in the city for two nights, and knew we wanted to see Lion King, so we ended up getting discounted tickets through the corporate perks website for Michael's work. We saved over $20 per ticket and had seats in row K of the orchestra. The only thing I will say is that I was kind of disappointed because our seats were on the side of the theater and there were a few times where I missed something funny that was happening onstage because my view was obstructed. It wasn't anything major, and we still had a great view of the parade of "animals" as they entered the theater as well as the majority of the show. It was AMAZING!

I am so glad that we decided to go back to NYC in the fall with the kids. It's a beautiful city and there is so much to do and see. The kids loved it and so did we! Next stop, Washington D.C! I totally didn't mean to rhyme there. ;)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Crock Pot Brisket

Have you ever fallen in love with a recipe you found on Pinterest and then discovered that it had been deleted? Well, that's what happened to me the last time I went to make this crock pot brisket. I clicked on the Pinterest link and this was what I got instead of the recipe:

I was so upset! This recipe has become a favorite in our house and I never bothered to write it down because I knew it would always be there when I needed it. WRONG! Luckily it's a pretty simple recipe and I could pretty much do it in my sleep, so it wasn't hard for me to recreate, but there's just something about having a recipe in front of me that just makes it better. Ya feel me? ;) This is literally the easiest recipe, but I still feel better having it written down, so here you go!

Crock Pot Brisket


2-3 lb. brisket
1 bottle of beer (dark beer is best, but use whatever you have on hand/your favorite)
yellow onion
flour (used as a thickener)

Slice the onion and throw it in the bottom of your crockpot.

Place the brisket, fat side up, on top of the sliced onion.

Pour the beer over the meat and onion. The last time I made this I used Saint Arnold Lawnmower because that's what we had available, but dark beer is best.

Follow the directions on the Better Than Bouillon to create a broth. I usually use about two cups of boiling water to two teaspoons of BTB and add 1-2 tablespoons of flour as a thickener.

Pour the broth into crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours.

After 8 hours take two forks and shred the brisket.

Lately we have been having it on Hawaiian Rolls with swiss cheese and horseradish mayo, but I've also made brisket tacos with it. It is delicious however you serve it! Enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Peanut Butter Bottoms

One of my favorite treats my mom made when I was growing up was a dessert bar called Peanut Butter Bottoms. It is really easy to make, and tastes so yummy, so last week Sophia & Carter helped me make them. I love when I can get them in the kitchen, and I'm hoping that the more they help me cook, the more they'll be willing to try new things. Of course, getting them to try Peanut Butter Bottoms, or any sweet treat, isn't really a challenge. 

Mom advice: when your kids start eating solid foods DON'T make them something different (you know, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, hot dogs, buttered pasta) than you at dinner. Feed them the same thing you're eating. Otherwise you'll have a power struggle every time you try to get them to eat something new/different.

Peanut Butter Bottoms


1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup white Karo syrup
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups Special K
6 oz. chocolate chips
6 oz. butterscotch chips


Mix together sugar and Karo syrup and bring to a boil.

Once the mixture comes to a boil, add the peanut butter and vanilla. Tip: measure out the peanut butter ahead of time.

Cream together and add three cups of Special K.

Once the cereal is coated, spread into a buttered cake pan.

Melt the chips and spread over cereal mixture.

Allow the chocolate to cool and harden. Cut into squares and enjoy!