Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Favorite People, Favorite Things

Last weekend I hosted my second favorite things party.  I hosted my first one in the spring and we had so much fun, my friends requested round two.  At the first party we each brought our favorite desserts and drinks to share.  For the second party, we each brought our favorite dips to share.  

For both parties I printed these cute stickers and put them on colorful gift bags for each lady to take home.  For the first party we each filled out a favorite things questionnaire, but for the second party I created a quiz about each guests favorite things (that didn't necessarily relate to the item they brought).  

Each guest brought 3 items that cost $10 or less.  We took turns sharing our favorite things and drawing three names of ladies that got to take our item home.      

The item that I chose as one of my favorite things was a mason jar tumbler

Here are some of the other great things we exchanged:

Grapefruit facial scrub and Burt's Bees Lip Balm

Maybelline lip gloss

Hand lotion and Witherbee Soap Bar

Ingredients for homemade bread and The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Weird and Wonderful Creations

We were very excited to receive a second Zonderkidz Made By God book.  In the spring, we had the opportunity to review Curious Creatures and loved it.  Weird and Wonderful Creations is also 4 books in 1 that contains a lot of interesting information and over 200 fun facts about Big Bugs, Little Bugs; Spiders, Snakes, Bees and Bats; Sea Creatures; and Poisonous, Smelly and Amazing Plants.

The day Weird and Wonderful Creations arrived, my daughter sat down and was immediately engrossed with it.  She loves reading about these unique creatures and the large, vivid pictures just adds to her enjoyment.  This book is recommended for ages 4-8 but even my two year old enjoys looking at the pictures.  An older child may find it useful for researching information for a school project.  As a parent, I appreciate that the book is a fun read for children while also reminding them that God made each of the fascinating creatures.

We would definitely recommend this book to other families and it would be especially great for children who are already very into nature, insects and animals.

Since this was a book for my daughters, I gave Marlie the opportunity to share a few of her thoughts about the book.  Her favorite creature in the book is the Venus Flytrap and her favorite feature is the action pictures.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLookBloggers.com®  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Monday, November 3, 2014

Happy Halloween TwentyFourteen!

Happy Halloween from DJ Lance Rock, my sweet strawberry, Rainbow Brite and Anna!

When Marlie was a year old, Bryan was deployed so I made myself this Rainbow Brite costume to dress up with her.  The following year she was obsessed with Yo Gabba Gabba so I made her a Foofa costume and Bryan a DJ Lance costume.  Since then, Bryan and I have said that we would wear these costumes until they fall apart.  They are pretty much at that point!  On Halloween night when we take the kids trick-or-treating, other adults get a kick out of our costumes.  It will be sad to retire them because they have been a lot of fun.  We've got a little something up our sleeve for next year though!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Stitch Fix #13

This fix was an interesting one.  Honestly, my initial reaction was that I wouldn't want to keep anything.  Here's what I got:
Leya Thermal Knit Short Sleeve Top by Tart

Benfeld Tiered Colorblocked Mini Skirt by Mystree
Larsen Sheer Detail Striped Knit Top by Laila Jayde
Mariella Bali Print Wrap Scarf - Spun Scarves by Subtle Luxury

Sam Hi-Lo Short Sleeve Tee by Pomelo
I  eventually conceded that this gray Pomelo top would be a good staple for my wardrobe.  Gray shirts are not my favorite so I really don't own any.  I've actually worn this top a lot and grown to love it.

Every month I look forward to receiving my 'Fix' of clothes that were picked specifically for me.
If you would like a stylist to select some great items just for you, 
I would really appreciate it if you used my referral code to sign up:  

Would you like to see what items I've received in my previous Stitch Fix shipments?

Stitch Fix #1 tells in more detail about how the service works

Friday, October 24, 2014

September 2014

We've had a lot going on that I've failed to post on the blog.  I won't go all the way back and try to catch up, but I will do a little recap of last month.  

For over a year we've been wanting to check out The Truck Stop in the Crossroads in Kansas City.  It's a round up of some of KC's food trucks but they only have it the first Friday of the month.  We finally made it there last month and braved the cool weather to enjoy some yummy food.

We experienced the beauty of Kansas sunflower fields for the first time.  We were able to schedule a mini family photo session but I'm keeping most of the pictures under wraps until Christmas card time.  This is just a quick one I snapped of Marlie with my camera.

As a family we participated in the Run for the Fallen 5K here at Fort Leavenworth.  We've done the run both here and at Fort Campbell.  It means a lot to us to have the opportunity to honor and remember the servicemembers who have given their life for our country.

On September 11, we also participated in Team RWB's Moving Tribute to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11.  We kept the flag moving from sun up to sun down that day.  Bryan ran for an hour with his buddy, Dave, and my friend, Lindsay, joined me and Emma.

 We visited Cider Hill Family Orchard on a beautiful Saturday.  We picked a 1/2 bushel of apples and enjoyed making all sorts of goodness with them.  I'd say the highlights were definitely the apple sauce and apple cake though!

I'm not really "crafty" but I do enjoy making crafts when I've got some good guidance.  I get together once a month with a group of girlfriends and we always do something different.  Last month we made wreaths.  I'm not a huge fan of burlap wreaths, but I had seen online where someone made a pumpkin wreath.  I decided to give that a shot and for my first try, I'm satisfied with how it turned out.  
I'm also a regular at the thrift stores in town.  I came across this ugly brown cart one day and felt like it had potential but didn't quite know what to do with.  I soon regretted not buying it and went back the next morning to pick it up.  I bought some teal spray paint to fix it up and now it looks so much better.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Stitch Fix #12

I've let myself get behind again on sharing my monthly Stitch Fix shipments.  Here is Stitch Fix #12 from a few months ago. 

Corinna Striped Dolman Top by Pomelo

Aleah V-Neck Heathered Dolman Sleeve Shirt by Pomelo

Tobey Mixed Stripe Maxi Skirt by Chris & Carol 
Annabelle Long Beaded Necklace by 31 Bits

Heubert Space Dye Open Cardigan by Renee C

The only item I kept from this shipment was the cardigan.  Even though I love cardigans, I wasn't sure about this one.  However, I must admit that I wear this one all the time now!

Every month I look forward to receiving my 'Fix' of clothes that were picked specifically for me.
If you would like a stylist to select some great items just for you, 
I would really appreciate it if you used my referral code to sign up:  

Would you like to see what items I've received in my previous Stitch Fix shipments?

Stitch Fix #1 tells in more detail about how the service works

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

dotMom 2014

I recently snuck off for a weekend to attend this year's dotMom conference.  My neighbor, Anna, went with me and we took off around noon on Thursday headed to Clarksville, TN.  One of our previous duty stations was Fort Campbell, KY and Clarksville is right outside the gates.  After 8ish hours of driving, we met my friend, Marcia, at my favorite sushi restaurant.  Surprisingly, the best sushi I've ever eaten can be found in Clarksville at Kohana.
On Friday morning, we picked up my other friend, Renee, and drove to Hendersonville for the conference.  It kicked off just after noon with worship led by Carl and Heather Cartee.  That was followed by our first general session speaker, Jennie Allen.  I was looking forward to hearing Jennie speak because I'm going through her Stuck Bible study right now with a group of ladies.  She discussed things we are fighting that no one else can see.  She encouraged us to fix our eyes on Jesus and keep fighting because we are at war.

Later in the afternoon we were able to participate in our first two breakout sessions.  I chose to attend Discovering Your Personal Ministry with Angela Cottrell and Blogging With Kids led by Jessica Turner.

Next it was dinner time!  Anna knows how seriously I take eating out, so she put the pressure on me to find us some great food on this trip.  I chose Cafe Rakka for our first Nashville area meal.  It did not disappoint.  The food was so fresh and flavorful - even for someone like me who requires the spice/heat level to be very mild.

Friday evening concluded with more worship and a general session led by David Thomas.  Last year I had the opportunity to attend a breakout session led by his coworker, Missy Goff.  It was such a great session and I was excited to hear David speak this year.  He was such an engaging speaker and made us laugh and then get teary eyed all in the same session.  He discussed 3 Things I Know For Sure About Parenting.  Those things were:
1) Parenting is about showing up
2) Parenting is designed to help ME (the parent) grow up
3) Parenting will expose the best and worst of who I am

Saturday morning kicked off with worship and a general session with Steve & Debbie Wilson.  I wasn't familiar with the Wilsons so I didn't know what to expect from their session.  I think it's safe to say they blew us away.  Their focus is on marriage and relationships and they spoke a lot about expectations during their session.  Their main points were:
1) Unspoken expectations lead to discouragement
2) Unmet expectations lead to disappointment
3) Unrealistic expectations lead to defeat

For my last two breakout sessions, I chose Teaching God's Word to Your Children with Angela Cottrell and The Ten Things Every Spouse Needs with Steve and Debbie Wilson.

The conference concluded with one last worship time and a general session led by Angie Smith.  I loved hearing from Angie last year at dotMom 2013.  Angie spoke about our need as parents to have control and we could all relate to what she was sharing.  Some of my favorite points from her session were:
We can't point to God if we're holding on to [control of] our kids with both hands.
Be brave enough to show your children your faith in God.  
Let your children see who Jesus is to you in your worst moments.
Build your own faith and pray that they are watching.  

The conference concluded on Saturday afternoon and that night,  Anna, Renee and I had dinner at The Pharmacy - Burger Parlor & Beer Garden in Nashville.  They had a nice, large beer garden and one of the best burgers I've had in a while.  I'm definitely going to return there when I get a chance.

On Sunday, we dropped Renee off at the airport (with a Dyson vacuum she won at dotMom by the way!) and Anna and I made the drive back to Kansas.  Like last year, I was feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted but at the same time, completely poured into.  This is such a wonderful conference and I wish every mom had a chance to attend.  There is scuttlebutt that this may have been the last dotMom but I truly hope it was not.  I definitely want to try to attend in 2015!

This obviously isn't a picture from dotMom, but it was taken while I was in Nashville.  This cuteness is one of the three reasons I went to the conference to try to become a better and more Godly wife and mother.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Summer Vacation 2014 : Chi-Ca-Ca-Go! (Part 2)

Here are some of the other things we did while in Chicago.
We started one day by venturing over to Skydeck Chicago.  We had a CityPass that we expected to be useful in skipping the line, but the crowd was so thin first thing in the morning that the pass was pointless.  This was a fun experience for all of us.
Marlie sat my phone down on the floor of the observation glass and took this cool picture looking straight down.

We grabbed some Chicago dogs from Portillo's for lunch and even though I don't typically eat some of the toppings, everything together was SO good!  
For Father's Day we got my dad a behind the scenes tour of Wrigley and Bryan had the honor of getting to be his sidekick.    

We were able to visit the Art Institute of Chicago one morning.  It was also a Blue Star Museum so our family was able to visit it for free.  I'm sure it was an awesome museum, but it just wasn't a good fit for us with two young children.  There was a nice children's room but that is pretty much where we spent most of our time in the museum.

We took the girls to Millennium Park to see Cloud Gate and play in Crown Fountain.

On our last night in Chicago, my parents were kind enough to offer to watch the girls so Bryan & I could have a date night.  Chinatown was our dinner destination!  We enjoyed dinner at one of the top rated restaurants in Chinatown but I think it was top rated because it was your typical Americanized cuisine.  It was good though so I'm not complaining.

When Marlie found out there was a huge American Girl store in Chicago, she started asking us if she could have a doll.  I was not willing to purchase one, so she got smart and asked my parents next.  She had an awesome trip to American Girl Place with her Nana & Pop and they bought Marlie her first American Girl doll.  
On our last day in Chicago, we visited the planetarium, aquarium and finally got to go to the "beach"!  

Our whole family loved Chicago and I hope we have a chance to go back one day - maybe even kid free!
In my next post, I'll share which hotel we stayed at in Chicago (and highly recommend), what I wish we would have done, and what we did on our way back to Kansas.

You can read Part 1 of our Chicago vacation here : Summer Vacation 2014 : Chi-Ca-Ca-Go! (Part 1)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Vacation 2014 : Chi-Ca-Ca-Go! (Part 1)

Bryan only had one week between graduating CGSOC and the start of SAMS so we had to quickly squeeze in a summer vacation.  We really wanted to go to the beach, but living in the middle of the country makes that a little difficult.  We were indecisive for a while, but we finally opted to go to Chicago for the week.  
Since we spent most of Monday driving, we decided to save a little money and spend the night in Aurora (a suburb of Chicago) rather than paying for our room downtown just to sleep in.  We made it to Hampton Inn & Suites just before dinner.  We checked in and went to grab something to eat at Panera Bread.  After dinner we made our way over to Oberweis Dairy Store to try their ice cream!  I hate that ice cream shops are so hard to find these days, so we all loved this place!

Once our bellies were full, we decided it was time for some fun in the hotel pool since we had been sitting in the car all day.  This Hampton had an awesome pool area!  There was a shallow kiddie pool with water spraying everywhere and the frog slide pictured below.  This pool was gated because there was another deeper pool right beside it, along with a hot tub.  This was one of the best indoor hotel pool areas I've ever been to and the girls loved it.    

On Tuesday morning we had the complimentary breakfast at the hotel before driving into the city.  The breakfast itself was pretty standard but I really appreciated the little touches for kids.  They had small kids plastic cups with lids and straws, along with coloring pages and crayons.    

After breakfast, we loaded back up in the car and drove to Chicago's Museum of Science + Industry.  MSI is a Blue Star Museum so we loved that they allowed us free admission.  Bryan & I found the museum very interesting and there was enough to keep Marlie intrigued.  

As for the 2 year old, she was mostly content walking around and pushing buttons.  And sometimes just lying down...  
After a few hours at MSI, we got back into the car and drove to our hotel to check in.  We let Em take a nap and my parents came to meet up with us.  Later that afternoon, we all went on a Chicago River Architecture Tour with Wendella Boats.  A few different companies offer the river cruises and we chose Wendella because their time was most convenient for us.  We ended up very pleased that we chose them.  When Bryan went to purchase our tickets, the lady working at the booth noticed his military ID.  She allowed him to ride for free and since Emma was free due to her age, we only had to pay for Marlie & I.  Originally we had second thoughts about taking the cruise because it had the potential to be so expensive for the four of us.  We really appreciate that Wendella made it affordable for our littlest one and our soldier.  Our group ranged in age from our 2 year old to my "senior" parents and we all loved the cruise!

We closed out our first day in Chicago by eating dinner at Pizzeria Uno.  I'm typically a plain cheese pizza girl, but we ordered two Numero Uno pizzas.  That was my first time having an authentic deep dish pizza and they were so good.  We all stuffed ourselves but still had plenty of pizza leftover to eat throughout the week.  

That was a quick recap of our first full day in Chicago.  The rest of our trip will be coming soon! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Romaine Salad with Blue Cheese, Pecans & Maple Vinaigrette

For my spring Bible study this year, I selected Nehemiah by Kelly Minter.  One interesting thing about this study was that it had recipes throughout the book.  I wasn't expecting much from these recipes but a few of them were really good.  This salad was one of those.  Bryan has said that from now on when he asks for salad for dinner he means this one.  There are only a few ingredients, but the dressing is SO good.  We now try to keep it on hand at all times.  Try this salad out and try not to drink the vinaigrette!   

Romaine Salad with Blue Cheese, Pecans & Maple Vinaigrette

Serves 6

For The Pecans: 
oil for the pan
1 cup pecan halves
3 tbsp real maple syrup
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly oil 2 baking sheets.
In small bowl, combine the pecans and maple syrup and toss gently to combine.
Spread pecans in single layer on one of the sheets.
Roast in preheated oven, stirring once, until syrup is bubbling, about 5 minutes.
Immediately scrape the pecans onto the other prepared sheet, spreading them out to cool.

Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped shallots
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp real maple syrup
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
6 tbsp vegetable oil
In small bowl, whisk together the garlic, shallots, salt, pepper, maple syrup, mustard, and vinegar.  Whisking constantly, slowly add the oil in a steady stream.  Set aside.

Salad Ingredients:
10 cups romaine lettuce torn into small pieces (2 small heads)
3 oz blue cheese, crumbled

Place romaine in a large bowl, drizzle with about half of the vinaigrette and toss to combine.  Add as much of the remaining vinaigrette as desired and toss again.  Divide among plates, sprinkle with the cheese and the pecans and serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Stitch Fix #11

In my continued effort to catch up on posting my Stitch Fix shipments, here is what I received in Fix #11.  

Just Black - Faye Skinny Jean

41Hawthorn - Filbert Houndstooth Henley Blouse

Tart - Cliff Solid Roll-Tab Henley Knit Shirt
Margaret Elizabeth Jewelry - Eliza Druzy Stud Earrings

Under Skies - Abbie Pintuck Button-Back Blouse
I loved the earrings and the white Henley was SO soft, but they were both a little more than I wanted to spend.  The Under Skies green blouse was my favorite of the Fix so I kept it.  

Every month I look forward to receiving my 'Fix' of clothes that were picked specifically for me.
If you would like a stylist to select some great items just for you, 
I would really appreciate it if you used my referral code to sign up:  

Would you like to see what items I've received in my previous Stitch Fix shipments?

Stitch Fix #1 tells in more detail about how the service works

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Asian Street Sandwiches

First Day of First Grade
Last Day of First Grade!
Last Friday was Marlie's last day of first grade!  I can't tell that she changed much during the school year, but maybe to others she did.  We basically spent the end of last week outside every afternoon and evening.  That usually means that we are slackers when it comes to preparing dinner, but I actually did prep these sandwiches for us one afternoon.  You can find the recipe for these sandwiches on the Food Network website, but it seems to be a little different than the original from years ago.  We love these sandwiches and per the request of our neighbors, here is the recipe we use.

Asian Street Sandwiches

Makes 6 servings

3 T soy sauce
2T packed brown sugar
2T oyster sauce
2T garlic, crushed
1T grated fresh ginger
1t plus 2T chili garlic sauce
1 t sesame oil
1lb pork roast, sliced on the bias into 12 thin pieces
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1/4 c mirin (Asian cooking wine)
1T fresh mint, minced
1 med cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup mayo
2T olive oil
6 hero rolls, split
6 romaine lettuce leaves
1 cup cilantro leaves, stemmed and cleaned

In a medium size bowl, mix 2T of soy sauce, 1T of sugar, 1T of oyster sauce, garlic, ginger, 1 t of chili garlic sauce and 1/2 t sesame oil.

Add pork and toss to coat.
Transfer to a resealable plastic bag, remove the air and let marinate in refrigerator 4 to 4 1/2 hours.

Combine remaining 1T soy sauce, 1T brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, mirin and mint;  mix until sugar dissolves.
Add cucumber and marinate 10-15 minutes.

In a small bowl, blend mayo with remaining 1T oyster sauce, 2T chili garlic sauce and 1/2 t sesame oil.  
Let sit for 5 minutes.

In medium saute pan or hot grill, cook meat to medium rare, until it registers 145 on an instant read thermometer, about 3 minutes.
Transfer pork to plate or platter.

Drizzle olive oil on rolls & brown lightly on grill or under broiler, about 2 minutes.
Spread mayo onto each roll, dividing evenly.
Place pork in roll, top with marinated cucumbers, lettuce and cilantro.
Slice in half and serve.