Friday, July 31, 2015

heather: july monthly must haves

summer is coming to a close and i have some really great products that i am loving.....everything from house and home to kids and fashion. enjoy! xo heather

prince charming shirts
i took my little prince charming's to see their first broadway musical tour "cinderella" and these shirts were a must-have. how adorable?!

shark steam mop
i'm a big fan of shark products, in general. genelle and i both have the shark powered lift-away vacuum and it's incredible. I recently moved into a cute, little home with all hard wood or laminate flooring. I needed a great option for cleaning hard surfaces that was easy to use and affordable. i chose the shark steam & spray pro because it is not only a quick clean-up tool (amazing steam cleaning with only tap water), but it also has extra power when you add a cleaner for deep cleaning and sanitizing all hard floor surfaces. if you are in the market for a hard flood cleaner and sanitizer, i urge you to try this out. love.

downy wrinkle releaser
this is a miracle in a bottle. i have been a devoted downy wrinkle releaser for over a year now. i don't even use an iron anymore. just spray and let the wrinkles fall out. going an a trip? it comes in a convenient travel-sized bottle for every trip on your calendar. they just released a new scent, fresh linen, available in target stores. it's heavenly. 

belvita cranberry orange breakfast biscuits
belvita are my go-to breakfast treat. they are delicious and filling. my favorite flavor was blueberry, but now they just released these swoon-worthy cranberry orange flavor. they are delish! if you are looking for a fast breakfast treat, try out belvita. even my kiddos love them! 

three little crafts
during summer, genelle and i both are always trying to keep our kiddos busy and avoid the dreaded "i'm bored". three little crafts is a monthly craft subscription service that is affordable and so much fun. no trips to the craft store trying to gather supplies, three little crafts provides you with exactly what you need to finish the project and the kids have a blast doing it. 

custom coffee mug
gift giving is an art. trying to find something special is sometimes hard. i found these beautiful custom coffee mugs on etsy while looking for a gift for my mom that the kids lovingly call "aba". i love that the boys made up their own name for their grandma, but it makes finding personalized gifts hard/impossible. these coffee mugs are not only a great size and cute but they can be made custom. love. 

vinyl calendar
i know that a lot of families have a calendar to keep track of all of the activities and events going on in your lives. as a single parent, a family calendar is essential to be able to keep track of nights at each home in addition to the craziness of a normal schedule. i love this vinyl calendar because it is simple looking, easy to apply and we have so much fun every month decorating it using these awesome colored chalk pens

the book with no pictures
i am a big believer in reading with my kiddos. i'm always on the lookout for a great book to enjoy with them. this one is fantastic. it's funny and creative and it's a kids book that i don't mind reading again and again and again.....

waterminder app
i don't know about you, but i have a difficult time remembering to drink enough water and make it a priority. this simple app is easy to use and free! you simply press a button to add the water you consume and the graphic fills up. easy peasy.

driftwood amulets with lapis
i'm always on the hunt for unique pieces of jewelry. etsy is a treasure trove of jewelry goodness and this beautiful piece using driftwood is ah-maz-ing. obsessed. 

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.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

diy: front porch freshen up

as you all know, i recently moved into the cutest little house with my boys. it's an adorable place built in 1952, but the porch has seen better days and needed a little tlc.  

with a tiny budget, there were still some simple things I could do to add some character and personality.

i re-planted the planter with succulents and even some veggies and added some potted plants. 

a cute "hello"vinyl decal as added to the mailbox and the ceramic elephant i carried home with me from a college trip to india finally had a home in the entry.  

i happen to live on a street that receives a fair amount of door-to-door salespeople. i've had enough magazine and candy bar sales to last a lifetime, and as someone that works from home.....well, doorbells ringing and the constant knocking is the worst. adding the cute "please, no soliciting" decal serves its purpose of keeping them at bay while still looking stylish. 

if you're looking to make a few simple changes to your front porch, here are items similar to the ones I used:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

mmmmm, peanut-butterscotch o's

the backstory

during the summer, my kids are active. they are busy from sun up to sun down and they are hungry all the time. all. the. time. they eat everything in sight. it's impossible to keep them full. i am constantly looking for snacks and treats that are simple, delicious, and may just keep them all full until their next meal. this recipe is just that. it is so good. i find reasons to sneak in the kitchen and cut another little square for myself. everyone knows that if you just take little bites of something, it never really adds up to a complete serving, right? it may not be the most healthy of snacks (hello corn syrup, brown sugar and butterscotch chips trifecta), but i have no problem giving my kids a special treat when they are running around like monkeys...and they love it. you'll love it too. enjoy.

peanut-butter-scotch o's

1 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cups peanut butter

1/4 t. salt

1 t. vanilla

11 oz. package of butterscotch chips

6 cups cheerios (i use multigrain but regular o's work fine as well)

bring the corn syrup, brown sugar and peanut butter to a low boil in a large pot. 

remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt. add the cheerios and butterscotch chips all at once and stir until all of the o's are completely coated. 

press into a buttered 9x13 pan. 

allow to cool, cut and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

you're never as happy as you look on facebook.

you're never as happy as you look on facebook. it's a true statement, right? life isn't perfect. there are hard days......hard weeks......hard years. 

we all have our moments; it's real life. but how many of us actually post those less-than-perfect moments on social media? not me. do you? 

i know that i'm only posting the happy snapshots. i am pretty sure that is what all of my "friends" are posting....but still i find myself browsing my facebook feed at times and feeling downright sorry for myself and playing the comparison game. you know the one i'm talking about, right?  that friend from college seems to have the most perfect marriage......that high school friend seems to be the world's most perfect mommy and is always doing amazing things with her kids......the grass somehow appears greener in everyone's life, at times. 

a few years ago, i reconnected with an old high school friend through facebook. i had just started going though my divorce. she had gone through a divorce as well. did i take and post photos of me curled in a ball on the bathroom floor sobbing while my children slept in the next room? heck, no. did she post photos like that? nope. but we re-connected because we, while scanning the facebook feed, looked not at what everyone was showing us......but the absence of what they were no longer showing. 

there were no status updates from my sweet friend detailing the destruction of her marriage. 

there were no sob stories from me about feeling lonely and overwhelmed with my new circumstance.

what there was was an absence of happy family photos with a hubby in them. 

what we saw was more mama and kiddo photos overall, and less status updates, in general. 

my friend looked at facebook. she looked, she noticed the absence and she reached out......and i am forever grateful. 

she was a lamppost in a very dark and confusing time for me of change. lampposts will help. they will get you through any challenge. people are amazing lampposts. 

so, I urge you all, wonderful readers, to look at your facebook feed. really look. not at what someone is showing you, but the absence of what they are showing you. reach out to someone. and if you are struggling, be brave enough to be vulnerable and authentic to someone that reaches out. 

none of us are perfect. we each have flaws. we all have bad moments. you don't have to flood your facebook feed with "eeyore-like", woe is me moments, but you don't have to be perfect either. i'm not. i need to make sure i am not comparing my behind-the-scenes moments with someone else's highlight reel. 

i need to know more people aren't perfect. 

it's #RealLife, friends. 

embrace it. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

#winning at parenting

there are some moments in parenting when you just have to share your story. you have to share it because everyone else needs to feel a little bit better about themselves, even if only for a moment. this is one of those stories. you are welcome.

recently we went to cheer on my middle son's best friend as he played in an important baseball game. we collectively cheered on his little baseball buddy and all his under 8 teammates and then the group of us, my family of seven and two other families went out to a pizza buffet for dinner. we took up two enormous tables and i'm pretty sure the restaurant not only lost money on their "kids eat free" night but they also prayed and hoped we would eat quickly and take our chaos with us as we left.

no such luck for the owners of that restaurant. we were in for the long haul and with the kids at one table and the adults at another, we enjoyed some adult conversation while the kids ate themselves into oblivion.

when the my middle son had officially eaten all he could, he asked if he could go sit outside. the restaurant was particularly chilly so i agreed he could go sit out on the patio as long as he took others with him. so, my son, my nephew, my daughter and my son's best buddy wearing his baseball uniform went outside to sit on the patio facing the parking lot.

the restaurant has windows covering the entire wall looking out to the the patio and the entire parking lot so the kids were all in clear view the entire time. while we adults sat and talked, i would occasionally cast a glance outside. as i did, i noticed something that caught my eye. my nine year old daughter had her hands covering her mouth in horror. there in the other chair next to her, my son's baseball friend was leaning back in his chair, bracing himself for the next blow. my son and my nephew were systematically taking turns punching him as hard as they could in his privates. this was in full view not only of the entire restaurant but of a parking lot full of cars and passers by. #awesome. with each blow, i watched as the friend smiled and said, "nope, still doesn't hurt." this brought on fits of laughter from their little table and then they continued to draw back to hit him time and time again.

it took my husband about two seconds to hop up and walk outside. his words once outdoors to the table of trouble were, "there will be no more hitting anyone in the penis. do you understand?" the word, "penis" about did my daughter in and she collapsed in a fit of hysterical laughter. the boys snickered and chuckled as he walked away. my husband made his way back into the restaurant and had just sat down at our table when my son opened the door, stuck his head in and said loud enough for the entire restaurant to hear, "but daddy, he is wearing a cup!"

did you hear that sound? that was the sound of the last bit of my pride dying a slow and painful death. i knew it would happen eventually. that was the day. i buried my face in my hands and moaned.  #winning. let's be real. #winning is not something i even aspire to anymore. i think #makingit and #learningtolaugh are more attainable goals. i think i like them better. #reallife is so much more fun than #winning anyway.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

summer must have reading list

i used to be an avid reader and i miss it. this summer is my time to attempt to get back on track and here's what i have been told i *have* to read. have you read any of these or have any favorites to add?

mmmmm: tuscan tortellini salad

the back story:

summertime is in full swing and so are summer cookouts. we love gatherings with friends and outdoor picnics. this cold salad is the perfect addition to any summer get together. i brought it to a neighborhood potluck recently and had several requests for the recipe. in honor of all my amazing neighbors and great summer times together, this recipe is for you all. 

tuscan tortellini salad


prepare the tortellini:

32 oz. package of refrigerated, cheese-filled tortellini

cook tortellini according to package directions; drain in a colander. rinse well with cold water.

make salad dressing:

1/2 c. canola oil

1/2 c. chopped white onion (i use frozen chopped onion)

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoon dried basil

2 tablespoon dried oregano

2 tablespoon dried chives

4 cloves garlic, minced (i use pre-minced garlic in a jar)

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

whisk together in a large bowl. add the tortellini. mix well.


2 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks

12-15 cherry tomatoes, halved

3/4 c. sliced pitted kalamazoo (greek) olives

3/4 c. sliced black olives

3/4 c. finely shredded parmesan cheese

spinach leaves, approximately 1-2 cups

8 oz. fresh mozzarella, chopped into bite-sized chunks

1/2 cup pine nuts

this recipe can be made in advance. leave parmesan, pine nuts, fresh mozzarella and spinach leaves until ready to serve.