My Life of Travels and Adventures: 2015

Apple Oatmeal Cookies

20 March 2015

Apple Oatmeal Cookies
Sometimes cookies fill a need to use an over abundance of pantry items.  Like the time I bought a huge canister of oats only to look up and find a high BJ's sized box at the top of the pantry.  I mean we like oats but that is A LOT of oats.  
So these Apple Oatmeal Cookies were created.   Our fridge was still overflowing with apples that we picked way back in the fall.  And with some "help" from the little guy we peeled, chopped and tasted a bunch of apples for this recipe.  
Apple Oatmeal Cookies


1/2 Butter, softened
3/4 C Sugar
1 Egg
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Cinnamon
2 C Flour
1 1/2 C Oats
2 C Apples, peeled + finely chopped
1/2 C Walnuts

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
  2. Combine the butter and sugar and beat well. 
  3. Add the egg, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon and mix to combine. 
  4. Slowly add the flour and oats and beat until combined.
  5. Fold in the chopped apples. 
  6. Drop in 2” balls onto a cookie sheet. 
  7. Bake for 15 minutes.
Makes 2 dozen cookies.
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My 3 Year Old Boy's Easter Basket (with no candy!)

19 March 2015

Spring really snuck up on me this year.  Not that I am complaining that winter is almost over, but it wasn't until the baby chicks were at the local Tractor Supply store that I realized Easter is coming.  And coming fast.  

So I did a little gathering and some shopping in preparation of Easter and put together Reid's Easter Basket.  

This year I kept things fairly simple... 
I might add a little chocolate bunny for Easter but again we are sticking with the "no candy" theme.  

To see our Easter Basket's of years past... 1 Year Old Boy Easter Basket and 2 Year Old Boy Easter Basket.

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Potty Training - Poop Edition

18 March 2015

Way back at the beginning of February I wrote about post about Reid being potty trained.  Well sure he hasn't had a pee accident in almost two months now but pooping on the potty was a whole different story.  

didn't push it at first, just reminded him about it and then talked while cleaning him up after.  But after just a short time, I was sick of it.  

I tried talking, time outs, threats, taking away toys, sticker charts, bribing with ice cream, etc, but nothing was working.  

Then one afternoon as I was gather up outside toys from the storage closet, I found a stash of Christmas gifts Reid had opened at Christmas but I had hid before we played with them.   Along with a few other little things that I bought on super clearance after Christmas and an idea hit me. 
I used an old rubbermaid container and created what Reid calls his "Poopy Bin".  It sits on the windowsill in the bathroom.   The premise is simple.  Poop on the potty and pick out a prize.

The first couple days when Reid was trying to go on the potty, I took the bin down and we talked about each thing in it.  But he couldn't touch anything until he used the potty.  
Now, it doesn't come off the windowsill until he uses the poops on the potty and is all cleaned up.  Then he can look through it and pick something out.  
It has been almost 3 weeks since we started with it and he hasn't had an accident yet.  He now tells us when he needs to go poopy and usually what he wants "I need go poopy.  I get legos." 
I plan on using the "poopy bin" for another couple weeks and then slowly transitioning the prizes to smaller things and then eventually just doing away with it.  But for now it works and it works great.  
It also works out since my mom cannot seem to go to any store without buying Reid something.  So when we see her and she has a new toy for Reid, it goes straight into the bin, so he can get it later.  
Some items that have been in our bin include:
Sticker Packs

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Being a Parent Means Sacrifice

13 March 2015

I participated in this campaign for MetLife.  I received compensation for my participation, but all opinions stated are my own.  #DreamForMyChild
Being a parent is so easy.  #SaidNoOneEver  

Being a parent is hard.  

There are times when I catch a glimpse of the way things used to be before Reid and for a moment, I am slightly jealous of the old me.  That is until my three year old tells me "Mommy, you my bwest fwend in the whole wide world." and then I am a big pile of mush again.  

Sometimes I get so caught up in the past or the future that I need that little three year old voice to remind me to let it go.  Let go of the sacrifices that have been and those that I will need to make someday.  

Because being a parent means sacrifice. 

For us that meant our jobs, friends, family and life in PA. Giving up a career I had worked so hard at for 8 long years, giving up two good paying jobs, loosing money on our house when we sold it, and giving up what we had built for ourselves over 8 years was so unnerving and it still frightens me thinking about it.  

We knew we didn't want Reid growing up where we lived in PA.  We wanted more land and better schools.  And because of Reid's Auto Immune Neutropenia, we needed for him to be out of daycare and not around so many germs.  

He needed this sacrifice from us and we were happy to oblige if that meant a happier and healthier life for him.  And thankfully it has!

He doesn't remember our old home and friends, nor does he know what a huge and scary sacrifice we made for him.  And he probably won't fully understand it until he has kids of his own. 

Like this video from MetLife says...

A Child's Future is With Every Sacrifice

And Reid is worth every single sacrifice we have made and the many more that await us in our future.  

PS.  Grab a kleenex.  I tear up every single time I watch this.  

Did you cry?


MetLife is a global provider of life insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management.  MetLife has operations in nearly 50 countries.  MetLife is committed to ensuring a future in which they can continue helping people, families and communities around the world get the most out of life. For more information visit MetLife

Crab Cake Sandwiches

09 March 2015

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone.  #SamsClubSeafood #CollectiveBias
Crab Cake Sandwich
Somedays we are so incredibly busy that planning dinner gets forgotten and then other days I just blame being busy for my lack of preparation for dinner.  On those evenings, I stand in front of the pantry, then the freezer and then the fridge hoping that dinner will jump off the shelf at me and prepare itself.  

Usually by the time I am staring blankly into the freezer, it is already dinner time and somewhere in the house is a 3 year old having a meltdown because he is hungry.  So not only do I need to prepare dinner, but I need ready to serve fast.  Because you know... 3 year olds have absolutely no patience. 
And that is where Daily Chef Handmade Crab Cakes come into play.  I make sure to add them to my list and pick up a box on each trip to Sam's Club and each trip I panic a little when I can't find them in the little seafood aisle until I remember that they are on the end cap full of seafood.  Not only are they super simple to make but they are a hit with the entire family.  
We usually opt for Crab Cake Sandwiches since everything needs to be on a roll according to the 3 year old.  But we each enjoy a different topping.  Neil is all about Cajun Remoulade Sauce on his Crab Cake Sandwich.  Reid needs ketchup usually on everything though.  And I am a plain Crab Cake Sandwich eater. 
So lets back up to this easy dinner option.  

Crab Cake Sandwiches

Daily Chef Handmade Crab Cakes
Sauce of your choice... Cajun Remoulade + Ketchup seem to be the options in our house

1. Preheat oven to 400F. 
2. Place Crab Cakes on a baking sheet + cook for 20-23 minutes. 
3. Serve on a roll + top with the sauce of your choice. 
See I told you they were easy... Just a few ingredients and they are ready in less that 30 minutes. 
Sam's Club has high-quality seafood and everything you need to make an incredibly delicious and easy meal for your family.  Sam's Club is holding weekly recipe demos for their seafood options through April 1st.  Click here to see a list of participating Sam's Club locations (demo times vary depending on the Club, but most should occur between 11am-4pm).  Checkout this link for exclusive online premium seafood offers.  

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Chicken + Rice Soup

06 March 2015

Chicken and Rice Soup
It is soup season around here.  The snow + freezing temperatures are just too much.  So the menu each week consists of lots of soups + stews.  This Chicken + Rice Soup has made its way to the top of our rotation.  It is the perfect combination of vegetables, chicken and broth.  Yum!
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Peppers, chopped
3 Onions, diced
4 Stalks Celery, chopped
3 Cans (14.5oz) Chicken Broth
2.5 C Water
2 C Dry Long Grain Rice
1/2 Tsp Onion Powder
1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Thyme
3 C Chicken, Cooked + Cubed

1. In a large pot, sauté the olive oil, peppers, onions and celery until they are tender, about 8 minutes. 
2. Add the broth, water, rice, onion + garlic powder, and thyme.  
3. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook covered 10-15 minutes, until the rice is tender. 
4. Reduce to simmer, stir in the cooked chicken and let simmer for 15 minutes.  

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Cajun Remoulade Sauce

03 March 2015

Cajun Remoulade Sauce
Every once in a while our dinners need a little pick me up.  And instead of turning to pre made sauces, every once in a while I will whip up something new for us to us.  This Cajun Remoulade Sauce is the perfect addition for our meals. 

Of course this Cajun Remoulade Sauce brought me back to my days of traveling for work and my many dinners our in New Orleans.  Yum.  
1/2 C Miracle Whip
1/8 C Yellow Mustard
1/2 Tbsp Paprika
1/2 Tbsp (Heaping) Cajun Seasoning
1 Tsp Horseradish
1 Tsp Pickle Juice
1/2 Tbsp Hot Sauce
1/2 Tbsp Minced Garlic Clove
1 Tbsp Ketchup

1. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients. 
2. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.
3. Serve with crab cakes, french fries, shrimp, roast beef and ham... etc.  

Keep refrigerated.  

Adapted from SimplyRecipes.  
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Our Preschool Classroom

02 March 2015

Our In Home Preschool Classroom Setup
Our Preschool Classroom has evolved quite a bit in the past few months.  And it keeps changing based on what works for us and what doesn't.  

We use an area in our kitchen/dining room for our preschool room.   In the picture below I am standing with my back to the kitchen island, the dining room is to the left, the living room and rest of the house are down the hallway pictured.  Yes these pictures are from way back before Thanksgiving.  Im just that slow to post.  Oops. 
In front of the chalkboard + desk is a fairly large open area of floor that we use to sit on during stories or to do our more active learning activities.  
I use the chalk board to write letters or have Reid trace or draw.  Under the chalkboard is a basket that we use to hold that weeks themed books and library books.  Also stored in the basket are round foam placemats that Reid sits on during stories.  
On the other wall is the Calendar Board that we use first in our Preschool Routine
To display Reid's worksheets, I hung up decorated clipboards.
Again, Thanksgiving themed worksheets.  Someday, I'll take an update picture. 
I decorated each clipboard with washi tape
And then hung them on the wall with clean command hooks.  
Our Preschool Classroom is nothing fancy but it works great for us.  We have a spot to move, wiggle and dance.  A spot to sit and do crafts + worksheets.  An area to listen to books.  And most importantly, a spot to hang up Reid's work.  He loves finishing a worksheet and hanging it up "to show Daddy later".  

Since I took these pictures, 4 months ago, I have made a few changes to our classroom.  Once I take pictures, I will to a classroom update post.  You know months from now. 

More Preschool posts... Weekly Learning ThemesCalendar Board, Preschool Routine, Behind the Scenes, and lots more...

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Apple Nut Muffins

27 February 2015

Muffins are a staple in our house.  We always have a batch on the counter for quick breakfast or snack options.   These Apple Nut Muffins were a huge hit and were gobbled right up by Neil + Reid.  
Apple Nut Muffins

2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 C Apple, peeled, cored and chopped 
1 1/2 C Applesauce
3/4 C Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 Tsp Baking Soda
2 Tbsp Flax Seed
1/8 Tsp Nutmeg
2 C Flour
1 C Walnuts, chopped

  1. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. 
  2. Pour the cinnamon sugar over the chopped apple and stir to coat evenly.  Set aside. 
  3. Preheat the over to 350F. 
  4. In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla.  
  5. Add the baking soda, flax seed and nutmeg.  Stir well to incorporate. 
  6. Slowly add the flour and mix until combined. 
  7. Fold in the walnuts and apple mixture. 
  8. Pour the batter into muffin cups. 
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes. 
  10. Let cool + serve. 
Makes 18 muffins

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Tuscan Bean Soup

20 February 2015

Around here we like a hearty soup.  It needs to be chocked full of vegetables, have a good flavor and have a good broth for dipping.  This Tuscan Bean Soup is just that.  Full of vegetables, lots of beans and yummy spices.  Perfect for these cold winter nights we are experiencing.  
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, diced
4 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 Tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 Tsp thyme
1/2 Tsp rosemary
1 Qrt chicken broth
2 (14oz) Cans cannelli beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
3 C chopped kale
1/2 Tsp pepper
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots and celery.  Saute for 5 minutes. 
2. Add the garlic, red paper flakes, thyme and rosemary.  Cook for 2 minutes. 
3. Stir in the broth, beans and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil. 
4. Add the chopped kale and pepper.   Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. 
5. Remove 1/3 of the soup (liquid, beans and vegetables) from the pot and place in the freezer to cool for about 5 minutes. 
6. Partially puree the cooled soup using a food processor.  
7.  Add the pureed soup back to the original pot and stir to combine. Let cook for an additional 5 minutes.  
9.  Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese. 

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Toddler Dragon Craft + Easy Chinese New Year Celebration

16 February 2015

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone.  #NewYearFortune #Collective Bias
Toddler Dragon Craft - Easy Chinese New Year Craft
With the upcoming Chinese New Year, Reid and I decided to make a simple dragon craft.  If you have ever done a craft with a toddler (or pretty much ever interacted with a toddler) then you know that  getting them to follow directions can be tedious and sometimes frustrating. So I've decided the best thing for all involved is to have some snack options on hand while crafting. The Chinese New Year celebrates the wish of "good fortune" to all in the year ahead with red-envelope gifts and traditional appetizers.   So for our Chinese New Year craft we snacked on Authentic, Restaurant Inspired, Asian Tai Pei® appetizers.  

But first the simple Chinese New Year dragon.  And by simple... I mean toddler easy and with supplies that I already had in the craft drawers. 
2 Paper Towel Rolls
Red, Orange and Yellow Paints + Paint Brushes
Wired Ribbon
First, I cut the paper towel rolls into about 2 inch sections and then Reid painted them.  
Once they were dry, I had Reid thread about 2 feet pieces of streamer through each paper towel piece.    I wanted to use the leftover orange and yellow streamers from Reid's Birthday party last month... but have seemed to misplaced them. Then we threaded the paper towel piece onto the wired ribbon.  
To hold all the paper towel pieces on I looped and twisted the ribbon around the very first piece and then when we were done threading tied a knot at the other end.  I had plans of gluing goggly eyes and a long tongue onto the knot to make it a dragon face but Reid was having none of it.  
In the end we had a dragon that wiggled, jiggled, waved and danced with us.  Reid had fun making the dragon and Neil + I had fun snacking at our simple Chinese New Year  activity. 
We had Tai Pei® Pork Egg Rolls and Tai Pei® Mini Chicken Spring Rolls that I picked up at Walmart. 
The Tai Pei® appetizers are ready in minutes and loaded with traditional style and flavor chicken, pork or shrimp.  I tried photographing the dipping sauce that is included with the appetizers too but couldn't get Reid to stop sampling it long enough for a picture... So I gave up.  Luckily for Reid and my patience, the delicious crispy wrappers and hearty pork and chicken insides of the Tai Pei® appetizers were enough for me to calmly help Reid create his Chinese New Year dragon.  
On the Tai Pei® Facebook page check out the Chinese New Year app.  The Red Envelope tab includes a coupon (while supplies last).  Follow along with Tai Pei® on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.   
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