Tuesday, September 29, 2015

heather: september monthly must-haves

i feel like september came and is ready to leave already in the blink of an eye. does anyone else feel the same? even though september was all about the kiddos and back to school, i decided to make this monthly must-haves all about me and a few of my favorite things......because, as mamas, we just don't think of ourselves enough, right?! so, get ready to indulge in a few of my favorites. enjoy & happy shopping!  xo- h

tieks troupe
combine my love of tieks with this amazing color and i am swooning. it's love at first sight. 

i am new to a "phone wallet" and am getting used to it. so far, i love having my drivers license and necessities at my fingertips. erin condren does everything custom---- i am loving the kelly green color i picked. what color would you choose?

etsy 1974 shirt
rock your age in this awesome tee! 40 and proud, baby! what a unique gift this would be for the person in your life that has a milestone birthday coming up.

little houses sign
my very favorite piece of artwork in our home. love my little family and our little home where love grows best.....

bow flex m5
this workout machine is compact and packs a punch! the 14 minute programed max interval workout is intense and burns up to 2.5x's more calories than other workout equipment and who can fit in a 14 minute workout?! we all have an extra 14 minutes to spare at some point in the day.....for me, it's just about making it my priority. 

long leather tassel necklace turquoise yellow and hot pink
the vibrant color of the necklace is fun and it's the perfect accessory to dress up a simple t-shirt and jeans. love. 

positive message apparel
i don't know about you, but sometimes i just need the reminder. love the positive affirmation of this pullover. 

as a mom of two boys and a lover of the color green this tee reeled me in on all levels. the boymom website has so many styles and colors to choose from and there may even be something for you girlmoms, too. :-) 

justin's almond and peanut butter
healthy and the perfect go-to snack to pair with a rice cake, crackers or pretzels. easy to throw in your purse for travel and a must have for my "hangry" moments. 

disclaimer: although we received some products for free, many are purchased on our own dime. *all* are products that we love and the opinions are all our own.

Monday, September 21, 2015

surviving fall allergy season

this is a sponsored post by minute clinic. all thoughts, opinions and stories are my own.

my sweet fourth born started kindergarten this year. as this little piece of my heart left for school, i looked forward each day to him bounding off the bus with fantastic tales of his kindergarten adventures. 

the first days of school, i wasn't disappointed. i love kids this age who will come off the bus wearing literally anything their teacher provides for them to wear. they are completely confident in who they are and know that no matter what they have on their heads, they look awesome. 

the blissful beginning of my sweet's school year didn't last very long. within the first couple of days of school, my little guy came home in worse and worse condition. on day three of school he came off the bus wheezing so badly that i almost took him straight to the e.r.  i was able to get his breathing under control and tell his teacher what to look for in the future but that episode became the sign of a very rough few weeks to come. 

my little man has missed several days of school so far. one day at the doctor his oxygen levels were down in the 80's and they had to spend a great deal of time getting his sweet breathing under control. he has been a mess and all of his asthma issues have been linked back to very bad fall seasonal allergies. 

i don't know about you, but i always associated allergies with the springtime. as i have done my homework over the last few weeks, i've learned a few things that have helped me to better understand this season and all the allergies it brings. here are some things that have helped me to better prepare my sweet boy for success in these fall months. 

things to know about fall allergies

  • many people confuse a common cold with allergies. one key difference between the two is that itchy eyes are nearly always a symptom of allergies and aches and pains are associated with the common cold. knowing what you are fighting is the first key to success. if you have a fever, it's not allergies.
  • ragweed pollen is one of the main fall allergy triggers. it's out in full force right now! it's nearly impossible to avoid as it's estimated a single ragweed plant can release 1 billion pollen grains during fall season.
  • dust and dust mites are common allergies that get stirred into the air when you turn on heat for the first time (or when kids go back into classrooms that have been empty for the summer.)
  • allergy symptoms often get progressively worse over a few days. symptoms include itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, headache, and sinus pressure.
  • there are actually more allergy triggers in the fall (who knew?). typically weed pollens, mold and dust allergies flare up in the fall. 
  • old blankets and clothing that has been put away for the summer is likely a breeding ground for dust mites, one of the common fall allergens.

tips to treat fall allergies

  • change your air filters. i changed mine the other day and they were a disaster. i know that in the coming weeks we may actually need the heater at some point. those filters need to be clean to sift through all that dust the heater will circulate.
  • wash blankets, cloths and bedding that have been sitting stagnant for months. no one wants to think about their household items hosting dust mites. washing those items before your family uses them can stop problems before they start. 
  • in the early fall, keep your windows close from 10 am to 4 pm. this is torture for me as the weather is perfect for some fresh air in the house. still, this will reduce your exposure to allergens like ragweed. 
  • if you have someone with a dust allergy in your house, purchase hypo-allergenic pillow and mattress covers. these covers zip over mattresses and pillows and provide a barrier from dust and dust mites as you sleep. they have been life changing for my little man. 

  • wash all bedding every two weeks to help ease allergy symptoms. 
  • have your allergy sufferer shower every night before bed. going to sleep covered in allergens is a really bad idea.
  • for severe allergy sufferers (like my guy), wash your hands and face each time you come in from outside. if possible, even change your shirt. this may seem extreme but it has truly made a difference in my boy's ability to keep his allergies under control.
  • find a good health care provider to help in your fight against allergies. we have used cvs minute clinic for our basic allergy needs. not only can they point us in the best direction for over the counter products but they have been able to prescribe my sweet guy with the prescription medications he needs to be healthy during this time of the year. we need all the help we can get and they are always professional, quick, and extremely helpful. i can't imagine allergy season without their help. http://bit.ly/1DwHBkm

most of all, don't let allergies get out of control. when my little guy couldn't breath because of his allergy induced asthma, i am not going to lie, i was pretty terrified. i've never seen his asthma so bad. he curled into a ball and literally fell to the floor. my heart nearly broke and stopped all at the same time. i have learned what my little guy needs and he now has a medication regiment that is keeping him well under control. that along with trying to maintain a healthy home environment for him has transformed his little life this last week. 

now instead of having him step off the bus in a panic of gasping breaths and uncontrolled sneezes, he steps off the bus looking like this...

and this...

and even this...

i'll happily take these smiling faces any day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

aldi kid-made lunches day 4

ALDI school lunch challenge

if you haven't been with us this week, it's time to check out this week's posts on our $50.00 ALDI school lunches challenge. 

today the kids made one of their favorites. the school serves pizza dippers for lunches in the cafeteria but my kids are not huge fans. they decided they could make their own little pizza dippers and take them in for lunch. i asked them if they minded eating them cold and their answer was, "cold pizza is the best, mom." okay then. kid approved and easy to prepare...that's a win for me. 

aldi school lunch, day 4: pizza dippers

for today's lunch you will need:

one package bake house creations crescent rolls
4 oz. happy farms mozzarella cheese block, cut into slices
1/2 a package lunch mate salami
reggano pizza sauce for dipping
sliced fruit
nature's nectar 100% juice boxes
peanut butterscotch o's

have the kiddos careful slice the cheese on a cutting board.

they can place the 8 crescent rolls on a baking sheet and load them with slices of cheese and a slice of salami. have the kids roll up the rolls to prepare them for baking. our rolls looked nothing like actual rolls after this process but the kids didn't seem to mind one bit. 

bake the rolls at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. sit aside to cool.

place the rolls in a lunch box along with pizza sauce for dipping, fruit dipping sauce and some sliced fruit. the kids should be able to handle slicing some fruit. if they are not old enough for that, grapes are a great option. i would encourage you to have even your smallest kids do everything they possibly can to prepare their own lunch. they can bag or package everything themselves and pack up their lunch for the day.

serve with peanut-butterscotch o's for a snack and your kids are done with their lunches for another day. this recipe made enough pizza rolls for three kiddos for the week. that is awesome when you have more than one mouth to feed!

here is the best thing about my ALDI back to school lunches buy. i have prepared enough food to have snacks ready for an entire week for my kids after school. they will be thrilled to come home and already have things prepared and edible for them and i'll be happy to have one small task taken off my plate. here are a few of the snacks i have ready to go for this week...

southern grove banana chips

peter rabbit farms baby carrots

clancy's cinnamon apple straws (these will last five minutes. my kids can eat a bag at one sitting.)

impressive, right? i have nearly a week's worth of lunches for 2-3 kids and at least that much left over in after school snacks. with just a tiny bit of prep, i am ready for my week and the kids are happily satisfied. i'd say that's a win. 

what about you? what are your favorite back to school lunches for your broods? whatever you do, i would encourage you to get your kids involved as much as possible. besides teaching them responsibility and the importance of what we do as their parents, it also prepares them for the rest of their lives. that's our ultimate job as parents anyway, isn't it? happy back to school to you all! xo

disclaimer: this post was sponsored by aldi. all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

aldi kid-made lunches day 3

we have made it to day three in our ALDI back to school lunch challenge. the kids have been working hard on their lunches each day and they are so proud of what they have done. if you have missed their hard work the last two days, you can find their creations here:

for our mid-week lunch, the girls wanted to change it up a little bit. my daughter had this served at a birthday party and absolutely loved it. i have to admit, i tried it when they were finished preparing it and it is pretty darn good. i'm guessing your kids will love it too.

ALDI kid made lunches day 3: taco salad bags

here is what you will need today:

clancy's nacho tortilla chips, individual bags (there are three in a variety pack)
happy farms shredded cheddar cheese
southwest kirkwood grilled chicken strips (ALDI refrigerated section)
tuscan garden sliced black olives
iceberg lettuce, cut into pieces
fruit cut into bite-sized pieces
homemade granola bars for a snack
nature's nectar 100% juice box

the girls started by chopping up the southwest grilled chicken into small, bite-sized pieces. they then chopped the lettuce and opened the can of olives and drained out the liquid. they then placed the chopped chicken in one plastic container, the cheese in another and the lettuce and olives in another. 

to finish off this lunch, they added some chopped fruit, a bag of nacho flavored tortilla chips, a juice box and a granola bar and lunch was ready! this lunch takes no time at all and the kids rave over it. 

when it comes time for the kids to eat, have them crush the tortilla chips in the bag. they will need to open the bag carefully at the top.

into the bag, pour the other ingredients.

mix well and enjoy a taco salad in a bag! 

add the juice, fruit and a homemade granola bar for a snack and you are done for the day! so simple and so delicious!

this recipe made enough for three lunches. it's great for all my kiddos but would be equally as wonderful for the kids to eat on more than one occasion. the ingredients will keep for days so you can even skip a day and have this meal again.

enjoy! i may just have to sneak one of these little meals for myself!

disclaimer: this post was sponsored by ALDI. all opinions and thoughts are our own. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

ALDI kid-made lunches day 2

we are on day two of our ALDI school lunch challenge and our kitchen full of little girl workers is buzzing. if you missed our post yesterday, you can catch up here:

our team of little girl chefs are still in the kitchen working on school lunches for the week. today they have decided to make their own version of lunchables. you should have heard these girls chatting in the kitchen. they said, "lunchables you buy in the grocery store are horrible for you." and "they are too expensive. my mom only lets us get them on special occasions like field trips." well, there you have it people. the kids have spoken and, though they love lunchables, they understand they can't have them every day. by making their own, they learn quickly that their lunches can be more affordable and that they are able to pick some healthy options to make their lunches a little better for them (there were no candy bars in these homemade lunches). 

ALDI kid-made lunches day 2: homemade lunchables

here is what you will need for today's lunch:

1/2 bag sliced lunch mate salami
4 oz. happy farms mozzarella cheese cut into slices
1 sleeve savoritz whole wheat crackers
1/2 cucumber cut into slices
baby carrots
3/4 cup friendly farms sour cream
1/2 package stonemill essentials ranch salad dressing mix
1 package friendly farms probiotic strawberry yogurt
peanut-butterscotch o's for snack

this lunch is super easy for the kids to make. 

have the kids stack the salami in ten slice stacks and cut the salami into quarters. set aside. 

the kids can slice the cheese into slices and then cut those slices in half to form squares. arrange the cheese and salami slices in the lunch box (or put them in bags) along with about 10-12 whole wheat savoritz crackers.

mix the veggie dip. in a bowl, mix 3/4 cup sour cream and 1/2 package of ranch dip together. put the dip into plastic containers to take to school (there will be enough leftover to save for some after-school snacks.)

slice 1/2 cucumber into slices and divide among the lunches. add baby carrots and a strawberry yogurt to each lunch. add a snack and a drink and you are good to go! easy, fun and delicious for our little lunch makers!

there is one extra lunch for another child or for another day! perfect, easy and two for the work of one. my five year old volunteered quickly to eat the extra...happy day!

this post is sponsored by ALDI. all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

aldi school lunch challenge

ahhhh...back to school. i love the routines and the academic challenges of it all. what i don't love is touching cold turkey at 6:00 in the morning. school lunches are not my favorite thing to prepare so i have assigned that task to my children. i figure at 12, 9 and 8 they are plenty big enough to make their own lunches. now that i have a five year old heading to kindergarten, i figure he is going to have to learn how to stand on his own as well. i'm trying to teach them responsibility and the more jobs i assign to them, the more they appreciate me. i'll take that and the satisfaction of knowing they will at least be able to feed themselves something when they leave my house one day.

ALDI school lunch challenge

recently we were given a challenge by ALDI to come up with and prepare at least two school lunches using $50.00 in ALDI groceries. well, we decided we could certainly do better than that! we decided to find and create lunches that our own kiddos could make for themselves. over the next week we will share with you what our kids created and hopefully give you some ideas of things you can make with your own kids for lunches this year. 

ALDI= basics

i am relatively new to the south. i was born and raised in california so all things southern and east coast related have taken me some time to get used to. when i first arrived, i noticed a different grocery store in the area. i knew nothing about it and avoided it initially. it was new and foreign to me and, frankly, in the first couple of years of being here, i was overwhelmed with new and different. had i only known what was inside that store, i would have branched out sooner!

as my friends and i began talking about our grocery shopping, the name ALDI came up over and over again. finally i decided to give it a try. i made some mistakes at first but now i am a pro. and the prices? they are so much cheaper than any other store i have found that i always shop there first for nearly everything my family needs for our meals on a weekly basis. there are many blog posts on the why behind aldi's cheap prices so i won't go into those here but i will say, it is worth the trip! i'm saving tons of money each month and i am still able to feed my family amazingly well.

if you are a first timer to ALDI, here is what you need to know.

i didn't bring a quarter my first trip. that was a mistake! you will want a shopping cart full of groceries for your trip. trust me. 

you will bag your own groceries at ALDI. it's just one way they are able to charge you less money during your trip. bring a lot of bags. you'll want to buy a lot of stuff.

everything is presented in boxes. these keeps prices down as well as people aren't continually stocking shelves. everything is easy to find and well labeled. you will love it.

school lunch shopping trip

armed with $50.00, this is the grocery cart full of products i was able to purchase at ALDI. 

it is a ton of products and there is no way i would have been able to get all the items i needed for all the school lunches at any other grocery store.

building our ALDI lunches

i had some fabulous helpers to make these lunches. my daughter (the redhead) and her two close friends came over for the afternoon and we knocked everything out in no time. normally these lunches would be made on a day to day basis but there is something to be said about doing some sunday afternoon/evening prep for the week to come. with very little work we were able to make some homemade granola bars and peanut butterscotch o's for snacks as well as get the school lunches prepared. each lunch took no time at all and if we had done any preparation ahead of time, these would have been a breeze for my kids to tackle on their own. 

cutest cooks ever!

before we got started building our lunches, we made some snack foods that will last us the whole week through. not only are these recipes delicious but they are super easy to make and will last for both a snack during school and one when they get home. the two recipes we started our prep with are peanut-butterscotch o's and homemade granola bars. we purchased all our ingredients at ALDI and made whole trays full. the girls were super excited about eating their way through these bits of deliciousness!

yep, the girls made all of these too. good thing they washed their hands first!

now that the snacks for the week were completed, the girls moved on to their lunches for day one.

ALDI school lunch day 1: turkey-cucumber wrap

here is what you will need for this lunch:
pueblo lindo flour tortillas
8 oz. happy farms cream cheese, softened
1/2 a package of stonemill essential ranch dressing mix
lunch mate oven roasted turkey breast slices
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
fruit dip: 1 bag of baker's corner miniature marshmallows, 8 oz. happy farms cream cheese, softened

to begin the girls whipped 8 oz. of cream cheese with a hand mixer. once that was mixed and softened, they melted one bag of marshmallows over the stove (this step may require minimal supervision). once the marshmallows are melted, add them to the whipped cream cheese mixture and mix again with a hand mixer. cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

have the kids slice the 1/2 cucumber into thin slices. once finished, they can also cut the stems off of the strawberries. 

in another bowl, have them mix 8 oz. of softened cream cheese with 1/2 package of ranch dressing mix. 

lay out three tortillas. spread the cream cheese mixture over the tortillas in a thin coat. 

layer with cucumbers and sliced oven roasted turkey. 

roll the tortillas up into a tight ring (the kids didn't really care what their rolls looked like so i didn't stress about it either). 

slice into one inch slices and place one sliced wrap in each lunch box. 

if you have more than one child to feed, this is great for feeding three. if not, these wraps can be made for three different days in a week.

this was the girls' absolute favorite lunch and my five year old ate an entire wrap all on his own. they really are absolutely delicious and so easy to make.

happy lunch making, kiddos!

this post was sponsored by ALDI. the opinions and statements are all our own. 

these products are available while supplies last.  all products may not be available in all stores.