Friday, August 23, 2013

Hiatus

Howdy my friends! I know it's been kind of quiet around here lately but I'm trying to get my writing groove back. I've been on a bit of a hiatus ever since going to BlogHer. Chicago was such an amazing experience and I think it overwhelmed me when I sat down to try and recap it all for you guys. Reason #1 why you haven't seen a BlogHer post from me yet! :) Beyond that, a lot of things have been changing around here lately!

I wrote quite a bit about change at the beginning of the year; in fact my word for 2013 was change. I was hoping and looking for a lot of things to change in my life this year. Up until recently, that hadn't really happened but all of a sudden it seems like I'm getting slammed with change every direction I turn. That's okay, I asked for it - right? 

While I"m not really ready to divulge in all of the happenings of my life as of late - one HUGE change happening right now is that my oldest starts Kindergarten on Monday! *This is where you realize I"m totally FREAKING THE EFF out!* How in the world did this happen anyway??? It seriously seems like just yesterday that she was born. True, I"ve been looking forward to this day for awhile, cause let's face it, Mom needs a break, but y'all I realized tonight - I'm not ready! 


We had Meet The Teacher tonight and she was so pumped!!! I was too, until we entered the school and started walking down the Kindergarten hallway. She was traipsing through like she owned the place and I started to feel the tears welling up in my eyes. Don't worry, I held myself together - barely. However, I know Monday is not going to go as smoothly for 'ol Mom here. Little Brother is having a heard time coping as well. He didn't even want to go  to meet the teacher night, let alone enter sister's classroom. He kept telling me, "I don't want her to go - I miss heeerrrr." Break my heart why dontcha! 


Do you have kids going back to school next week? Are you handling better than I am?

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Garden Ranch Pork Chops

If you are anything like me, then there is a good chance that you are often on the hunt for healthier snack options. There are plenty of snacks on the store shelves to choose from, but I want something that actually tastes good  too. Is that too much to ask? No, of course not! 



Recently, Green Giant has come out with a new product - Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips. When I first saw them on the store shelves, I was like, "whaaaattt??? Green Giant makes chips? Hmm!" However, I must confess, I've tried all four varieties: Garden Ranch, Multigrain Sweet Potato- Barbecue, Zesty Cheddar, and Multigrain Sweet Potato - Sea Salt. Guess what? I love them. All of them. Is it still a healthy snack if I want to eat the entire bag all at once? I had to work hard to control myself, but an awesome bonus? My kiddos love these chips too! Those two are kind of picky and they like to stick with what they know; I didn't have to twist their arm to eat these Green Giant snacks at all! 

Before devouring both bags chips that I received for this review, I decided I'd use them to create something yummy for dinner. I had an idea in my head but I was worried it wouldn't work out or that the family wouldn't like it. Boy, was I wrong! 



Oh yes, I used those yummy chips to make a crunchy crust on these delicious pork chops. No added seasoning - just roasted veggie goodness - and they were so good! 


I put some Green Giant Garden Ranch Veggie Tortilla chips in a baggie and I let my kiddos crunch them up to their little hearts were content. Meanwhile, I made a simple egg wash - a little egg and a little milk. When the chips were ready I put them in a bowl and began to coat the chops. It's very easy - dip them in the egg wash and then toss them in the chips. After I got a decent coat on the pork chops, I set them on a lightly greased cookie sheet and used the remaining chips to fill in any empty spaces. 





I baked these beauties in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees and they were done to perfection. They turned out to be moist and tender on the inside with a perfect light crunch on the outside. I couldn't believe what a hit these were at the dinner table. It is rare that there are no complaints about what Chef Mom has made for dinner! 






How do you incorporate healthy snacks into your menu? Have you tried the new Green Giant Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips?

Visit Green Giant on Facebook for a money saving coupon! 
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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All Things Pretty Thursday Link Up - I'm A New Hostess!

Howdy y'all! I have an exciting announcement to make this morning! I've just signed on with Kathy and Leslie as the third Co-Hostess of the All Things Pretty Thursday Link up! 

We're excited to bring you a bigger and better party, with your awesome posts now being featured on 3 blogs with 3 people sharing, visiting, and pinning your creations! Now Let's Party!! 

PrettyThings

 
All Things Pretty 21
Pretty Life Chosen By Leslie

3. A Casual Dress by Salt and Pepper Moms 
4. Summer Sewing -Shorts by Kimberlee's Korner 
5. DIY Baby Girl Onesies by Caldwell Couple

kpretty 8
Pretty Handmade Chosen by Kathy

1. DIY Craft Table by DeJon Dream House 
2. Kit Kat Cookies by Life With the Crust Off 
3. DIY Pencil Gumball Machine Teacher's Gift by Just Dip It in Chocolate 
4. Mad Men Chairs by It's Always Ruetten 
5. Cranberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake with an Orange Glaze  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Call Me, Maybe?

This post is sponsored by Minted.com, an online store full of beautiful paper products. Minted carries Christmas Cards, business cards, invitations and more. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. 

At the beginning of the week we took the kiddos to an early screening of the new Disney movie PLANES. Have y'all seen it yet? It's so cute! The theater was packed and my daughter ended up sitting next to a little girl close to her age. She was over the moon with happiness and the two kiddos whispered and giggled throughout the entire movie. When it was over, my daughter was sad to go and confided in me that she wished she had given her a hug. Then, as it always goes, she asked if we could come back to the movies to see her again soon, and "Mom, did you get her phone number?"



You see, I have an extremely outgoing child. She has been this way since birth  - she has never met a stranger. When she was a toddler she would randomly scream "I LOVE YOU" to old men in the grocery store. Embarassing. I've grown to embrace her love for others but it does make for some awkward moments; while she felt connected to the little girl in the theater this week, the most I'd said to her mother was a smile above the heads of our girls. I just wasn't comfortable giving the mother my card and saying, "give us a call, we'll go on a play date!"

This kind of thing happens all the time. Usually, Mini Me gets so attached so quickly that she tends to get very upset when she realizes that she may never see her new found friend (who ever that person may be!) again. Here's the problem: she starts school in just two weeks! She is about to meet a whole crap ton of kids and she is going to be "best friends" with 99% of them within the first ten minutes of meeting! Every day she is going to be saying to me, "Mom, can you call _____ and see if we can have a play date?" I knew I had to figure out a way for her to be able to make contact with her friends outside of school and Minted has the answer. Mommy Calling Cards.

Have you heard of these? In essence, they are little business cards with your kiddo's name and your contact info on them. You can hand them out to the parents at the park or the PTO when your little one has made a connection. I can't tell you how many times we've been at the park and met a mother & her child and we all hit it off. Unfortunately it takes me awhile to warm up and I never feel quite right about handing over my info. That is all about to change my friends! 

Check out the cards I whipped up on Minted.com this morning: 




Isn't my kid...I mean aren't the cards adorable?! The card templates were premade and I just personalized them! Seriously, less than 10 minutes! The above two were my favorites but this one rounded out my top three:











I can't wait to get these cards in and show them to my daughter! She is going to be thrilled! I know that we will put them to good use this year! 

What do you think? Would you use Mommy Calling Cards?
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Current Choice - Simple Energy Savings!

It's the dog days of summer and here in Texas - it is HOT! Every summer my electric bill sky rockets because even though it costs me an arm and a leg - I have got to stay cool! 

Well, If you're a Texas Resident, I've got an awesome opportunity for you! CurrentChoice is offering 1 new subscriber the chance at up to $1000 to pay your July and August electric bills. How awesome would that be?! CurrentChoice has teamed up with Madame Deals Media to share this awesome event with you!


What is CurrentChoice?


CurrentChoice gives you options for your energy supplier. You can choose the best electricity plan for your family and it helps you save money! You can shop around for the best prices and terms, just like with your telephone service, except no one will come to your house to hook up any new wires. There is just no better feeling than making a decision that's right for your family and it saves you money.


Enter to WIN up to $1000 towards your July/Aug Energy Bills!


CurrentChoice has now launched in Texas! They'd like to kick off their launch by offering 1 new subscriber up to $1000 to pay off their July and August energy bills. So if you are a Texas resident, all you need to do is enter via the Rafflecopter below. You'll subscribe to the CurrentChoice newsletter and then have optional bonus entries as well.



 a Rafflecopter giveaway

No purchase necessary. Winner will be selected randomly on 9/1/13 from all new subscribers. Must be a Texas Resident to win. All visitors that sign up will receive the CurrentChoice newsletter. Email may be used to communicate additional CurrentChoice.com information to you. You can be sure that we will keep your email confidential. 
CurrentChoice Privacy Policy

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#CityPASS Makes Site Seeing Easy!

This is a sponsored post brought to you by CityPASS. I received a complimentary CityPASS to use during my trip to Chicago in exchange for the post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

When I found out I was going to be traveling to Chicago this summer I knew right away that I was going to want to do some site seeing. I didn't realize, however, how much site seeing I would want to do. When I finally sat down to make a "must see" list, well, let's just say it was a long list. Because of my rigorous schedule I knew that I wouldn't have much time so I wanted to make the most of it. That was one of my top reasons for choosing CityPASS. I knew that CityPASS would not only save me money, but time as well - a.k.a. no waiting in super long lines! 

I set the bar high and had hopes of seeing all five attractions that CityPASS gave me access to - however, I only made it to two of them. I just ran out of time. With that being said, I had the BEST time at both the John Hancock Observatory and the Shedd Aquarium

The night I arrived in Chicago, Rachel and I dropped our bags off at our hotel and went straight to the John Hancock Observatory. It was fairly late and the place was not crowded at all, but because we had our CityPASS we didn't have to worry about wasting time to pay, etc. We just showed our pass and got right in the elevator. Let me tell you something, the view from up top is breath taking. I feel like I got some amazing photos, but trust me when I tell you that they do not do this view justice. 








I couldn't help thinking while I was there that the observatory would make a great place to go on a date! Hopefully I can twist my husband's arm to go to Chicago with  me someday. I fell in love with the city while I was there and I will go back sooner than later!

The following day we got up early and headed to Shedd Aquarium which I think I was the most excited about out of all the attractions. I love animals and I am fascinated by sea life so it was right up my alley. I had the best time scoping out all of the animals! I even sat down on the steps next to the sea lion's habitat and talked to him for a minute through the glass. Yes, I did. 



We didn't have to wait in a long line - outsider OR inside! Yay #CityPASS !




Isn't this turtle the cutest thing ever?



Look, it's Scuba Steve! ;) 







The jellies exhibit was hands down amazing. I didn't realize how many different types of jellyfish there are and they were all so beautiful. Their differences in colors and shapes were awesome.



I took a couple videos of the jellyfish and put them on instagram. Check 'em out:





Yea, this guy stole my heart. I totally blocked traffic and sat down to talk to him. How could you possible resist that face?



Okay, lets talk about this Beluga Whale! Isn't he adorable!!?? I hadn't ever seen one up until that point and I was enamored with him. He has quite the personality! Luckily, Rachel was able to grab a video! 





Sorry for the picture overload, but we had such a great time with all of the animals! I was really pleased that CityPASS made our site seeing easy and I will definitely grab up another one next time I go to Chicago or anywhere else for that matter. Heck, I know that CityPASS is offered here in Houston and I just might get one to enjoy for a fun weekend! 

Have you ever used CityPASS? What's your favorite sea animal?
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Maple Peanut Butter Texas Sheet Cake

This post is sponsored by the lovely folks behind Peanut Butter & Co. All thoughts are completely my own. My recipe was adapted from the one found at Caramel Potatoes

Hey y'all! I've got a sweet treat for y'all today that would be perfect to round out any Sunday dinner, but if y'all manage to wait til Sunday to make this then you are a better woman than me! I have a deep, deep love for peanut butter which is clearly evident if you've seen my cooking with peanut butter pinterest board. So, when I met a nice young lady from Peanut Butter & Co at BlogHer Food back in June and she offered to send me some peanut butter, 8 jars folks, to say that I was excited would be a total understatement. Did you know that there is a Peanut Butter & Co sandwich shop in NYC? Holy crap, y'all.

Anyhow, I've been experimenting with my peanut butter varieties for a few weeks now and I've got a few recipes to share with you. Today, we start with this:



Oh yes, Mighty Maple Peanut Butter.  There is a good chance this one is my favorite. After you eat this Maple Peanut Butter Texas Sheet Cake, it will be your favorite too. This delicious cake tastes just like peanut butter fudge, except - fudgier. I know, that's not a word, but do you get what I mean? It's so soft and moist! Let's get started shall we?


Here's What You'll Need:

 FOR THE CAKE

1/4 C Peanut Butter & Co. Mighty Maple Peanut Butter
1 C water
1/2 C Butter
1 C Sugar
1 C Brown Sugar
2 C Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Eggs
1/2 C Buttermilk
1 tsp. Vanilla

FOR THE ICING

3/4 C Butter
6 TBS Buttermilk
1/2 C Peanut Butter & Co. Might Maple Peanut Butter
3 1/2 C Powdered Sugar, sifted
1 TBS Vanilla

Here's What You'll Do:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 

Prepare the cake batter. 

In a medium sauce pan you will add the peanut butter, water and butter and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. 

In a separate bowl, (I used my stand mixer) mix together the sugars, flour, salt and baking soda. Add in the heated peanut butter mixture and mix well. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla to the bowl and continue to mix well. 

Pour batter into a greased cookie sheet or jellyroll pan. Bake for about 15 minutes.


Prepare the frosting.

In a medium sauce pan, bring butter, buttermilk and peanut butter to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat. In your stand mixer, add together the powdered sugar, vanilla and the heated butter mixture and mix well until smooth. 


Pour the frosting over the warm cake and spread evenly. 


This cake is amazing served warm or room temperature and with a glass of milk! 

I have another little hint for you on how to serve up this sweet treat. Serve it up topped with a scoop of chocolate ice cream. It tastes just like a certain peanut butter & chocolate candy loved by the masses! You must try this!


Anxious to get in the kitchen to whip up this yummy number? I don't blame you, but wait! Peanut Butter & Co. is going to provide one lovely Charm + Sass reader with a Peanut Butter Sampler Pack! The gift box contains six jars of peanut butter, including: The Bee's Knees, Mighty Maple, Smooth Operator, White Chocolate Wonderful, Dark Chocolate Dreams, and Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. Trust me, y'all want to win this prize pack! Enter below via the rafflecopter widget! 

Good luck!  

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Linking up for All Things Pretty




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