Love Inspired

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All links to the love inspired gifts below  (with the exception of Mantraband) are affiliate links. 

Love inspired gifts for Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and while browsing around online the other day I spotted some very sweet love inspired gifts to share with you.

Love Inspired Gifts for Valentine’s Day

From top, left to right:

1. Little Girls’ Valentine Cotton PJs

2. Love Serving Tray

I think this is a super cute way to serve your breakfast in bed, plus it’s from Zazzle, meaning there are lots of customizing options.

3. Heart Rain Boots

4. Watercolor Hearts

Customize this special print with photos of the ones you love.

5. Pink Heart Giraffe

6. Love You! Print

So sweet for a child’s room. You can also customize colors.

7. Splendid Love iPhone Case

8.  L O V E hat

Another fun find on Zazzle. You can customize your colors and they also have this print available for t-shirts, baby shirts and onesies.

9. Acrylic Photo Block

This is a great gift for a grandparent to sweetheart for the office, or really, anywhere really!

10. What I Love About You

Came across this daring journal where you are prompted on each page to fill in all the reasons why you love that person so very much.

11. Infinite Love Bracelet

Obsessed with these bracelets from Mantraband. Lots of wording options.

12. I Love You to the Moon and Back Pillow

Again, from Zazzle, you can pick the size you want, fabric and color choice.

13. Llama Llama I Love You

14. Barbie Valentines Day Doll

15. Lovely Butterflies Personalized Stationery

16. Melissa & Doug Jumbo Brown Teddy Bear

Because what child wouldn’t love a life size teddy bear?!

17. Heart Sweater Dress

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Silly Simple Kid Snack or Meal

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Kid-friendly burrito recipes

I am cracking up that I am sharing my famous kid-friendly burrito / quesadilla “recipe” today because it’s really not that special, but there is something about this combination that kids literally go CRAZY for.

This is my go-to after school snack or meal when we have play dates and my girls’ friends love them so much that they ask for them every time.

In fact, on a few occasions I have heard a friend express to my daughter in private, and I am not joking, “You are SO lucky to have a mom that makes such good quesadillas.”

I am laughing right now as I type this, because if you know me, I am a really bad cook. But to the 5 – 9 year old crowd, I am a culinary hit.

Kid-friendly Burrito Recipes (or Quesadillas)

Ingredients:

Tortillas (I use flour for the burritos and 2 corn for the quesadillas)
Shredded mexican cheese
Butter (I use the vegan Earth Balance buttery spread - we fell in love with this product when my daughter used to be allergic to milk and eggs and still buy it)
Organic black beans (I use Trader Joe’s)
Organic brown rice (I use Trader Joe’s)

Steps:

1. Hit a skillet to medium heat, a little hotter if your kids like the outside more on the crispy side, a little cooler if your kids like them softer.

2. Butter the outside of the tortilla. I believe this is one of the secrets that make them yummier. If doing a quesadilla, butter the bottom side of the corn tortilla, and then butter the outside top of the 2nd corn tortilla so when you flip both sides get brown.

burrito 3. Add beans, rice and cheese in the tortilla and let it melt together.

For the burrito, fold over the edges with two spatulas to make it into a burrito and turn over to “seal” it with the flap side down.

Or, you can roll it up to make it more like a rolled taco (left).

For the quesadillas, I let the cheese adhere to the top tortilla, then flip the whole thing over until brown on both sides.

4. I then cut the quesadillas into triangles, and the burrito into two pieces to make it cooler for eating.

For play dates, doing the quesadillas like with just cheese also work, and are even easier to throw together. Plus, the triangles make for easy serving.  Just don’t put away your materials until the kids are done. I have been known to have to make additional batches!

School Lunches and Sports Snacks 

These also make great school lunches because they keep well in aluminum foil AND my oldest daughter often eats these before her long gymnastics workout (and sometimes I will send for a mid-workout snack too.) I think it’s a good sport snack for the mix of carbs (rice + tortilla) and protein (black beans + cheese).

There you go friends, that is the secret to my magic burritos and quesadillas. Please try this with your kids and tell me if they love them!

quesadilla

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The Sweetest Thing

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These darling personalized classroom valentines were ordered through Minted, one of my all time sites to order custom stationery goodies. Minted is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor and I am also an affiliate partner, so all Minted links are affiliate links.

* * * Hooray! It’s a Tiny Giveaway! Minted is giving away TWO $100 Gift Cards! Enter below! * * *

Personalized Classroom Valentines from Minted

Minted, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways….

Your paper stock is swoon-worthy, your designs are one-of-a-kind. I love to add my daughter’s photo, I hope no one will mind.

Your customizing options are many, with backer and shape options too. Even better is your customer service, always happy to talk to you.

Every year I chose you for my Christmas cards, because your company beats others by a mile. Now, your personalized classroom valentines will cause all the students to smile.

Personalized Classroom Valentines 

I can’t believe I busted out a poem. Please forgive me. I am laughing as I type this right now.

AnyHOO, this post is about Minted’s personalized classroom valentines, photo valentines, and foil-pressed valentines that are just the sweetest thing. So sweet they inspired poetry. For reals!

This year, Minted treated me to complimentary valentines for my girls’ classrooms for this post and and I am SO happy with how they turned out.  Since valentines are personal for kids, I let them browse the selections and pick the one they wanted with no input from mom. Hard to do, but they were all so cute I didn’t mind!

My oldest wanted to give a DIY bookmark with her valentines, so she selected this cute Fill in the Blank Classroom Valentine and we edited the first line to go with the bookmark, adding the sentiment “You’re #1 in My Book!” Cute right?

She loved the squiggle shaped border and wanted to keep the back blank to write a note to some of her friends.  We are playing around with making different DIY bookmarks to attach to the front of the envelope.

I love she chose this one for two reasons. 1. In 3rd grade they do a LOT of reading so I LOVE the idea of doing a bookmark. 2. Right now they are learning about parts of speech, so the “write your own adjective” part is fab!

fill in the blank Let’s Chill  

My Kindergartener looked through all the designs and fell in love with the Let’s Chill design. Cute little penguins eating popsicles? Right up her alley.

She wasn’t understanding the “Let’s Chill” wording, so I said, “How about ‘You’re Cool!?” Done. That’s what I love about ordering through Minted – you can customize a ton of things on your cards.

I HAD to add a photo backer on hers, because I think it’s just too cute, so the back has her photo on it (photo credit Kristin Eldridge).

let's chill

So Many Sweet Options…

Visit Minted to view their full lines of personalized Valentine photo cards, many designs even feature real foil printing, which is just so elegant and beautiful.

valentine collage

 

Minted Giveaway!

Two lucky winners will each receive a $100 Minted credit to use towards valentines or any other Minted product. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tips for Taking Little Kids to the Movie Theater

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Today, I’d like to share my tips on taking kids to the movies. Hopefully this helps makes the outing a little less taxing, and a little more fun! Tips on Taking Kids to the Movies

Going to the movies with your spouse or your friends = a great night out (and probably a rare occurrence these days…which makes it even more fun!)!

Going to the movies with your kiddos?  Potentially a stressful experience, especially if they’re younger. From my personal experience I have put together 10 tips on taking kids to the movies.

#1 – Check out the movie you plan to see.

Even if a movie has a G or PG rating, you might still want to check out the movie in advance.  I like the site, parentpreviews.com, which gives a great movie overview, parent reviews, and addresses content details like language, violence, etc..  It even gives you topic ideas to discuss with your kids after the movie ends.  Love it.

#2 – Choose your time carefully.

Once you have your kid-friendly movie in mind, make sure you pick a kid friendly time.  The earlier the better.  Avoid seeing movies that overlap nap time or meal times.  Early movies are typically filled with other young parents and young kids.  Which means that pretty much everyone will understand if your kid talks, yells out, dumps their snack, cries, or kicks the seat in front of them (fingers crossed).

#3 – Arrive early.

Next…arrive early.  But not too early.  You don’t want to use up their patience sitting in the theater 20 minutes before the movie starts.  I arrive about 15 minutes prior to the show (20 minutes, if it’s a super popular movie).  We all get our tickets.  We all go to the bathroom.  We get any snacks we’d like at the snack bar.  We adjust our booster seats.  And I try to time it pretty well so that we only have a minute or two sitting down before the lights dim.

#4 – Schedule potty breaks.

This one is important.  We all go to the bathroom before the movie starts.  This may not stop the loud “whispers” of  ”I have to go poootttyyyyy,” in the middle of the movie, but it certainly helps!

#5 – Bring a blankie in your purse.

I learned this one from experience.  A small blankie in your purse or diaper bag is helpful for two reasons.

1.) Movie theaters can get chilly.

2.) If either of my kiddies get scared during a particular part of a movie, I hold my baby and tell them to put their blankie over their eyes.  Works like a charm.  And it may help prevent your little from trying to bolt from their seat and run into the aisle or out of the theater. Yes, when my daughter was three, she bolted out of her seat unannounced, during Tangled, when Mother Gothel got scary.

#6 – Make your snack bar plan.

This mama is on a budget.  So, the tickets alone are pricey enough.  However, my kids love popcorn.  Like, LOVE it.  This being said, I will not buy each child their own popcorn. I buy one small or medium bucket (depending if I plan to eat some too), and ask for individual baggies, boxes or empty water cups.  Then I dole out small amounts of popcorn, per kid, during the movie.  This also helps with possible popcorn dumping issues.

I also ask for water cups for all – and that’s their movie drink.  Note – this is a lot to carry on your own, so make sure to ask for a carrier, or put any of your kids that can carry comfortably, in charge of their own water.

#7 – Sneak in some lollipops.

There is one thing I like to sneak in.  Lollipops.  Yes, I use them for bribes. If your kids are old enough, and if you allow your kids to have them, bring one or two pops per kid.  They work as great bribes for keeping kids sitting.  Still.  In.their.seats.  It’s like magic!

#8 – Find the booster chairs.

Booster chairs are in different areas of the movie theater lobby.  Make sure to ask an attendant where they reside, and grab one per kid. Try to get situated with them before the lights go out.  Sometimes, if your little one isn’t big enough, they can kind of fold up in the chair.  This is harder to manipulate if it’s dark.

#9 – Explain the “Golden Rule” for outings.

Here’s what I tell my kids when I’m out by myself with them:  There are two of you and one of mama.  Which means we stick together.  Where one goes, we all go.  If you run away from me, we all get up and leave.  Period.  If one has to go potty, we all go potty.

All it took was one outing where we had to leave in the middle of our activity, and my kids now know that I mean business.  Even if we’re in the middle of a movie. This keeps them safe and me sane.

#10 – Just roll with it.

Here’s the deal – kids are kids.  No matter how much you plan, no matter how much you want this to be a great outing, sometimes…you just have to roll with it.  Kids get loud, cranky, squealing happy, rambunctious, obnoxious…seriously, you all know what I mean, because we’re all in this together.  Be flexible, and have reasonable expectations of your munchkins (especially if this is their first movie experience). And, remember to have FUN!

Any great tips you have for taking your littles to the movie theater?  Please share below!

Image courtesy of Apple’s Eyes Studio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

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Random Reflections for a Wednesday

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I was having writer’s block this morning when thinking of posts for this week. Typically that isn’t an issue because it seems like there are always more topics than I know what to do with – however – today was different.

Often I find myself and my mind going in a thousand directions, so this post contains just a few of the things on my mind lately.  Let’s start with the most serious topic first.

The Bachelor

You guys, I have watched every single season of both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette since it started. Honestly, every single one.  However, after this season’s bikini tractor competition, I decided I just can’t do it anymore. What do I do? Give it another try next week? Is it so far gone, they lost me forever? OR, have I matured since turning 40? This is a serious issue. I think they need to hire Love and Knuckles to be the Bachelor’s Life Coach. The show needs help.

Binge Series Love

My husband and I binge watched Orange is the New Black and House of Cards on Netflix, and found ourselves caught up on both over the holiday break. When searching for a new show, I remember over the years friends raving about Friday Night Lights, and found the entire 5 seasons again, on Netflix.

Love for this series isn’t even the word. I think we have watched an episode a night for a month. If you missed this one, give it a shot. Coach Taylor is dreamy.

Tennis

My first tennis lesson was last week, part of my 2015 goals to take up a new hobby. I was psyched. Let’s do this! I hadn’t played in about 15+ years, so I threw 3 old rackets we had in the garage in a bag to ask my new coach which was the best one for me to use.  Upon arriving at the court, I come to find out, after 10+ years, the grip on a racket starts to deteriorate. All three grips were falling apart.  I chose the best of the three, however, the grip completely melted in my hands, leaving a sticky black, tar-like residue that took me an entire day to fully remove.  I got a new grip, but had to wonder if it was an auspicious sign tennis might not be my racket?

tennis hands

Measles

Oh God, of course measles is on my mind, as I am sure it is on the mind of every mom in OC right about now. I have been reading / seeing the measles outbreak news on Facebook and in the newspaper so much it turned up in the most horrendous nightmare the other night. I choose to vaccinate my girls, so my kids have had both measles vaccines, but I find myself wondering how I would be feeling if they were not of age to receive the vaccinations yet? I am scared to see how this unfolds. It is freaking me out.

The Goldfinch

Thanks to many of the reader recommendations on my 15 books you can’t put down post, I started The Goldfinch this weekend and I am obsessed. 771 pages, which is no joke for a busy mom, but the book SO good,  I am about 40% done and it’s one of the best books I have read in awhile. If you are looking for more good reads, visit this post, and read the comments.

Oprah and Huffington Post

In the last month, Susanne’s plan ahead dinner tips have been featured on the Oprah.com website, and then the article was recently picked on on the OWN Huffington Post site, which for me, is pretty much like a blogger’s dream come true and I feel really, really grateful.

VRBO and Karaoke

karaoke I am planning a girls’ weekend with two of my dearest college friends this spring to our old stomping grounds.  We were planning on staying at a hotel, but when I checked out VRBO just for the heck of it to give us a little more space, I am finding some amazing places for the same, and sometimes less money than a nice hotel!

One place even had a jacuzzi and karaoke machine. Three 40 year old moms, chardonnay, and access to karaoke.

It’s a dangerous mix.  I feel like a whole new world has been opened up to me. How did I not know this?

Multi-tasking Overload

While multi-tasking between checking Facebook, email, what have you, I clicked over on this link my friend shared on how the modern world is bad for your brain. It IS. It REALLY is. Every time I am online I find myself seriously getting distracted. I will sit down to blog, then get a message dinged, which I check, then see I have a Facebook notification, and will click over, and get sucked in.  I feel like I need to set “social media” checking hours, where I have set times to go through Facebook, which I love, and read the articles that interest me, but I just don’t see that happening because it is like an addiction. Does anyone keep “social media” hours? HELP!!!!!

multi-tasking brain

I feel like I could keep going on, but I will end on one of my most favorite quotes lately, about letting your light shine, one of my greatest lessons on turning 40. Now, go out into the world and let your lights shine today ladies! Thanks for reading!

Let Your Light Shine!

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