My Life of Travels and Adventures: 2017

Cheddar Broccoli Soup

20 April 2017

Even in late April, its still cold enough at lunch time for a nice hot bowl of homemade soup.  I made a pot of this Cheddar Broccoli Soup over the weekend and all the leftovers were gone the next day. Not only is it tasty, but the kids actually ate the vegetables also.  Score!
Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Lg Onion, diced
1 C Carrots, sliced 
Cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 C Flour
2 C Chicken Broth
2 C Milk
4 C Broccoli Florets (2 medium heads of broccoli)
3 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
8oz Cheddar Cheese, grated

Directions:
1. In a large pot, heat the butter until melted.  Add the diced onion and carrots and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
2. Stir in the garlic and saute for 1 minute. 
3. Add the flour and saute for an additional minute. 
4. Add the chicken broth, milk, broccoli, dijon mustard and black pepper. Stir until combined. 
5. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. 
6. Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar cheese until completely melted. 
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Organizing your Vehicle with Kids

11 April 2017

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  #CollectiveBias #FRAMFreshBreeze
As I write this post, the temperature in NY is pushing 80.  (To be fair, we did have a few inches of snow fall last week too). But with those warmer spring temperatures comes more trips to the park with the kids, more time spent in the car, and more road trips.  So today I thought I would share a few easy ideas to get the inside of your car organized and ready for all that spring/summer fun.  

1. Organizing the Kids Entertainment Items
Both my kids are still in carseats, which means the middle of the backseat turned into a big catch all spot.  Each time we head out to the car both kids are carrying some toy or book that they "need" to have.  To combat the black hole of toys, I found a shallow plastic bin that helps contain everything.  
As you can see from the pictures, there are a mishmash of kids stuff in it.  Some books for both kids, matchbox cars, a bunch of out of season holiday toys, a batman mask, and a couple cuddle toys for when they are sleepy.  
I also tuck a small kids throw in beside each of their carseats for when I am really hoping they will fall asleep.  

2. Organizing Kids "What-If" Items
Behind the rear facing carseat, I have a deep plastic storage bin that I store all the "what-if" kids items in.  
An extra outfit for both kids, some extra diapers and wipes, extra snacks, sunscreen, band-aids and a little first aid kit, and some extra gallon ziplock bags.  
All these items live in the car so heading on a road trip to a museum or stopping at the park on the way home preschool can happen and I am prepared for a scrapped knee, the hungry tummies and parent's favorite, the bathroom accident.  

3. Organizing My "What-If" Items
My center console contains all my "what-if" items. Although there is no organizing the deep dark hole of my center console, it does serve a purpose in holding my items.   I keep a roll of the little 4 gallon garbage bags for easy trash cleanup, another bag of baby wipes, a little box of tissues, some extra napkins, a few extra dollars and a handful of quarters... just in case. 


Now that my car is organized (I can't say clean...we live on a dirt road so a clean car inside or out doesn't really happen), there was just one last thing to do before being road trip ready... Change the cabin air filter.  Did you know that the air inside your vehicle can be up to 6X's dirtier than the air outside?

I picked up the FRAM Fresh Breeze® cabin air filter at Walmart and quickly installed it myself at home.  (This Walmart site lets you know which cabin air filter is the right one for your vehicle). 

First, remove the glove box. 

Behind the glove box is the door to the cabin air filter.  

Once that is opened, remove the old cabin air filter and replaced it with the FRAM Fresh Breeze® cabin air filter.  
Reinstall the door and glove box.
Close everything up and you are good to go. 

We spend a lot of time inside the car and I try to be as prepared as possible for everything that might happen during those trips. Changing the cabin air filter provides peace of mind knowing I am helping to keep my family safe and healthy during our time in the car. (Be sure to follow recommended change intervals as noted in your vehicles owner's manual)


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No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

27 March 2017


Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
The love for peanut butter + chocolate desserts is real over here.  This pie recipe came from a need to use some of my baking supplies.  Why are there 3 graham cracker pie crusts in the pantry? 3? Really?  
I had asked Reid if he wanted to help make the pie and the answer was no.  Until I got out the chocolate chips at the end.  After snacking between chocolate and peanuts, he took it upon himself to measure and garnish the top of the pie.  Particularly, one spot that he felt needed a lot of chocolate chips. 
This pie was super yummy and simple to make.  It also took no time at all for it to disappear from the freezer.  
Ingredients:
9" Graham Cracker Pie Crust
1.5 C Heavy Cream (divided)
8 Ounces Cream Cheese
1 1/4 C Peanut Butter (divided)
1 C Confectionary Sugar
1/2 Toffee Bits
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 C Chocolate Chips (divided)
1/4 C Peanuts, chopped

Directions:
1. Add 1C heavy cream to a mixing bowl and beat on high until firm peaks form.  
2. In a separate mixing bowl, beat 1 C peanut butter and cream cheese until smooth.  
3. Add the confectionary sugar, toffee bits and vanilla and beat until smooth. 
4. Gently fold the whipped heavy cream into the peanut butter mixture until blended.  
5. Fill the pie crust with the filling, then freeze for an hour. 
6. Once frozen, add the 1/2 C heavy cream and 1/2 C chocolate chips to a bowl and microwave until the chocolate it melted.  Stir frequently. 
7. Once smooth, beat cool to luke warm before spooning over the peanut butter pie.  
8. To garnish, melt 1/4 C peanut butter and drizzle over pie. Sprinkle with peanuts and chocolate chips. 
9. Freeze for 2+ hours before serving.  
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
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Spring Preschool Lesson Plans

20 March 2017

See all of my preschool posts Here.
See our Arctic + Antarctic Preschool Lessons Here
See our Snow + Winter Preschool Lessons Here
See our Flower Themed Tot School Here
See our St. Patrick's Day Themed Tot School Here

See all of my Tot School Lessons Here

It has been a while since I shared about what I am teaching at home.  We recently completed some Spring based learning.  Below you will find links to all the printable, books and craft ideas we based our learning on.  

You can also print off the preschool planner to add your own notes for you teaching too. 
   

Books:
The Little Gardener
Spring Is Here
Cherry Blossoms Say Spring
My First Book About Backyard Nature
What Can You See in Spring
My Very First Book of Animal Homes
A Tree Grows Up 
Bubble Guppies: The Spring Chicken
Clouds
Let It Rain
A Green, Green Garden
And Then It's Spring
The Tiny Seed
The Curious Garden
Everything Spring
Yucky Worms
Highlights: All About Spring
Weather and Seasons

Printables:
Spring Printables from Kidsparkz
Bird Pack, Spring Pack, Spring Pack 2 from 3Dinosaurs
Spring Pack from Blessed Beyond A Doubt
Catch A Bug Math Printable from A Little Pinch of Perfect

Crafts:
Umbrella (inspired by East Coast Mommy)
Supplies: Paper plate, paints, pencil, glue
Paper Plate Lady Bugs (inspired by I Heart Crafty Things)
Supplies: Paper plate, construction paper, scissors, glue stick
Bowtie Butterflies (inspired by Crafty Morning)
Supplies: Bowtie pasta, paints, glue + markers

Flowers (inspired by Happy Hooligans)
Supplies: Craft sticks, card stock paper, paints, glue + buttons


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Peach Cupcakes with Peach Buttercream Frosting

17 March 2017

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bob's Red Mill; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 
We live in the northeast, where spring arrived in February and then a blizzard in March which dropped almost 2 ft of snow on us and now we once again are waiting for spring to arrive. For good, hopefully?  But that first dose of spring had me itching to work in the garden and to bake all sorts of yummy spring-like treats.  

Like these Peach Cupcakes with Peach Buttercream Frosting.  

I try to make most of my recipes from scratch and use quality ingredients for the best taste and texture in my baked goods.  Thats why I love about Bob's Red Mill Organic All Purpose Flour.  It is not enriched with any additives and it the same high protein flour used by professional bakers for light and airy baked goods.  Bob's also has Paleo and Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour for all your dietary needs.  
For this recipe I used Bob's Unbleached White Flour and fresh peaches to make yummy peach cupcakes and then whipped up some peach buttercream frosting for the top.  My little guy told me they were the "bestest he had ever tasted in all of space." It could be because he was also asking for seconds before dinner.  
For this recipe you will need: 
(Makes 12 Cupcakes)

Peach Cupcake Ingredients:
1 1/4 C Flour
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 C Sugar
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
1/4 C Unsweetened Applesauce
1 Egg
1 Tsp Vanilla
1/3 C Water
3 Peaches, peeled and pitted (About 1C pureed peaches)
2-3 Drops Pink Food Coloring

Peach Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 C Butter
2 1/2 C Confectionary Sugar
1 Peach, peeled and pitted (About 1/4-1/3 C pureed peach)
1 Tsp Vanilla
2-3 Drops Yellow Food Coloring

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Place cupcake liners in a tin and set aside. 
2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, sugar and cornstarch and set aside. 
3. In a food processor, add the peeled, pitted peaches and puree.
4. In a mixer bowl, add applesauce, egg, vanilla, water, and peach puree and beat until smooth. 
5. Add the flour mixture and beat for 2 minutes.  Add the pink food coloring and beat until mixed in. 
6. Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full and bake for 18 minutes. 
7. Let cupcakes cool before frosting. 
8. For the frosting, in a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy.  
9. Meanwhile, in a food processor, add the peeled, pitted peach and puree.  
9. Add the confectionary sugar, vanilla and pureed peach and mix. Add a couple drops of yellow food coloring and mix until combined. (If necessary, add a little more confectionary sugar until the frosting reached your desired consistency)
10. Frost the cupcakes and enjoy. 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bob's Red Mill.

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Apple Carrot Raisin Muffins

08 March 2017

Apple Carrot Raisin Muffins

I have been making a variation of this recipe for several months now.  Sometimes with raisins sometimes with dried cranberries.  I have even used a couple pears in place of the apple. And all the combinations were yummy. 
They make the perfect afternoon snack and both my kids enjoy them.  I usually freeze half the batch and then pull them out of the freezer as needed.  



Ingredients:
3/4 C Oats
2 C Carrots, grated
2 C Apple, grated
1/2 C Brown Sugar
2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tsp Cinnamon
1.5 C Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 C Flaxmeal
3/4 C Milk
2 Egg
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 C Raisins or Dried Cranberries

Directions:
1. Grind the oats in a food processor and place the oat puree in a large bowl. 
2. Grate the carrots and apple by hand or by using a food processor and set aside. 
3. Mix the brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon in with the oats.  
4. Add the milk, eggs and vanilla and blend.  
5. Mix the flaxmeal and flour until just combined.  
6. Stir in the raisins or cranberries
7. Add to greased muffin pans.  Fill 3/4 full.
8. Bake for 15 minutes at 350. 


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Breakfast Muffins

28 February 2017

Lately the kids have been sleeping in until 7:15/7:30am which is great because that means I too have been sleeping in.  But trying to get all three of us fed, dressed and out the door by 8am can be tough. 

These muffins have been making my mornings easier.  I make a big batch once or twice a month and freeze them.  Then each morning, I zap them in the microwave, dice a banana, pour some milk and breakfast is served.    
Both kids love these muffins and they make those mornings when everyone gets a little extra sleep much easier.  
Ingredients:
1C Apple, peeled + diced
1/2 C Raisins
1 Egg
1 C Oats
1/2 C Applesauce
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 C Brown Sugar
2 Tsp Cinnamon
1/2 C Whole Wheat Flour
1 C Plain Yogurt

Directions:
1. Mix the egg, oats, applesauce, cinnamon, baking powder and soda together.  
2. Add the yogurt and mix well.  
3. Stir in the flour.  
4. Finally, stir in the apple and raisins until just combined.  
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350F. 

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Garden '17 Plans

20 February 2017

For the past 2 years we have had an okay size garden in 3/4 different raised beds.  Our first year, the garden was overrun with pumpkins...
And we ate through pretty much everything we grew as it was harvested. 
Last year, I started a lot more of our garden from seed...
A photo posted by Krystal McGarvey (@krystal6826) on
But in the end we were able to grow a good amount of food.



We had an over abundance of pickling cucumbers and my pantry is still stocked with jars upon jars of all different kinds of pickles.
 


I also canned tomato sauce for the first time.
Which leads us to this year's garden.  I want more tomato plants.  And more corn.  And potatoes.  So,  we are going to go bigger (and hopefully better?) with the garden and till a plot for the garden.

It actually will probably stay in the same spot, since it works well.  


We plan on tilling a roughly 30' x 35' plot.  

My goal is as follows:

Potatoes (3 Different varieties); 3 x 16' rows = 48' total
Onions: 2 x 16' rows = 24' total
Carrots: 16' row
Tomatos: 2x16' rows = 32' total; 20 plants total
Peas: 4x16' rows = 64' total
Pumpkins: 16' row; 6 plants
Peppers, Hot: 10' row
Peppers, Sweet: 10' row
Spinach: 10' row
Celery: 10' row
Corn: 4x10' rows = 40' total
Pickling Cucumbers; 6' row; 3/4 plants total
Watermelon; 6' row: 4 plants
Herbs; 18' row
Sunflowers; 20' row
Marigolds/Nasturtium/Calendula/Petunia: Surrounding the garden as best as possible. 

I ordered seeds recently so in the next few weeks, I will be starting some inside.  

I seem to post more garden updates on Instagram so follow along...


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Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

17 February 2017

I hate to the wish the week away, but its February, we have about a foot of snow and have been without hot water and a furnace since last Friday.  So, yeah, I am wishing to forget most of this past week and focus on only being cold for a few more days. 


This week, I thought I would share 5 kitchen gadgets that I am loving right now. 

1. KitchenAid Mini Food Processor - I bought this with some extra Christmas money last month and it has been instant love every since.  I have a big ole regular food processor from when we got married 10+ years ago, that I have been using and its been fine.  But to chop just a couple cups it's a lot of clean up.  I saw this small food processor and was instantly sold.  It works perfecting for small amounts and the clean up is fairly simple as it is only 3 pieces total.     

2. Ground Beef Chopping Spatula - I may be really late to the game with this one but how did I never know something like this existed.  I have always used a wooden spatula to break up ground meat while it was cooking.  This spatula works much better and makes nice small little pieces. 
3. Reusable Muffin/Cupcake Cups - I have been using reusable muffin cups for year.  I used to use square ones to make bento style lunches for Reid when he was in daycare years ago.  Now, I use them for a lot of dessert muffins and such.  

4. Ziplock Bag Holder - This has been another, how didn't I know about that, item.  I have been using this ziplock bag holder at least weekly since I bought it last fall.  I try to make a batch of soup/chili weekly and then will portion the leftovers into quart freezer bags before freezing them flat for lunches.  

5. Scoop Strainer - I make the kids frozen veggies for lunches.  Which means that I was using either a slotted spoon or a large colander pretty much daily.  Now I just pour, strain and distribute without adding bulk to the dirty dish pile.  
6. Clear Refrigerator Bins - This one is a bonus and not really a kitchen gadget but its a huge favorite.  I don't know why I held out so long on the refrigerator bin storage but I am very very sad that I did.  It is so much easier to find and gain access to those long forgotten jars or 



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