Baking with the Bigs

When 8:00 rolls around and I finally lay the baby down for the night, the big girls get hungry for some attention. I often get hungry for baked goods so baking together seems like a win for everyone! In all sincerity though, I can’t express to you enough how important it is for you to spend quality time with your children and build some memories. As a busy mom, it’s easy to be in a rush all the time and say “I don’t have time to play a game right now I’m doing the dishes!” or “No, you can’t help me make dinner, I’m in a hurry and you’ll just make a huge mess!”. I guarantee those kids won’t remember the dishes in your sink but they will certainly remember all the fun they had getting flour and food coloring all over the kitchen! When I was a little girl, I remember feeling like I never had my mother’s full attention. She always seemed preoccupied with housework. Not that there is anything wrong with that, different moms interact with their children differently and not all children are the same so this may not have had an affect on someone else but it made me personally feel insignificant. I didn’t want to chance my children ever feeling that way so you’ll often find us all in the kitchen together wearing matching aprons cooking or baking together. More often than not, you’ll also find an American Girl Doll or two in an apron “helping” as ย well! Your chores will always be around,but your kids won’t be kids for long. Your kids should know the whole world doesn’t revolve around doing things with Mom. They should definitely know how to play independently and with each other while you get your chores done but we have to master a healthy balance of “hey kids, wanna help me bake?” and “I can’t fit another dirty dish in the sink, the floor is sticky, and everyone is out of clean undies. Could you play amongst yourselves while I tidy up?” Middle ground people. Middle ground! Lol. I hope someday when my girls have children of their own they will remember the giggles and smiles we shared doing ridiculous things like making tiny doll sized sugar cookies!

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I don’t want any angry emails over the dangers of artificial coloring in my food because you won’t ever persuade me to toss the food coloring! I divided the cookie dough into 3 equal-ish blobs and each one of us picked out a color.

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I then divided each color into 3’s and we each rolled out our own dough design on a cutting board before using cookie cutters to make shapes.

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Almost ready!!!

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The girls served their dolls first like good little mommies ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

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Everyone (including Daddy & I) enjoyed our late night snack!

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Smash booking

Before I had kids, heck, when I only had 1 kid, I loved to scrapbook. I had a bazillion shape makers, corner rounders, paper stashes, stickers, and other assorted awesomeness. I would spend hours cutting my pictures into shapes with my Creative Memories custom cutting system and then cut cute little papers for photo mats and decorative flair. P’s scrapbook is amazing with hand cut and drawn layered paper Oreo cookies to commemorate her first ever cookie. Years 1-4 are detailed, colorful, and organized. Then I had T and all my well made scrap booking plans went out the window and my bins upon bins of fabulous scrap booking tools sat and collected dust in the garage. After our 3rd little princess was born, I realized I wouldn’t have a chance to play with my scrap booking stuff again until they were all in grade school and I was all alone for a few hours daily in sweet blissful silence! But there’s still lots of stuff I want to remember in the meantime. Dates with my hubby, craft projects I made with the girls, etc.

Enter K&Company Smash books.

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They retail for around $15 but you can get them for less by using a Michael’s or Hobby Lobby coupon, I know I did!๐Ÿ˜ƒ
What on earth is a smash book you might be asking…
A smash book my friends is sort of a journal, meets a scrapbook, meets a tangible pinterest! It’s a scrapbook for the creatively challenged or for those of us who are now too busy to sit down and let our creative juices freely flow! Each Smash book has a theme and is choked full of built in awesomeness and zany printed pages.
Here’s a peek at some of the many smash books I’m currently working on and some of my smash accessories stash too!
This is my own personally random, mish mash, quirky Smashbook. I doodled like a school girl on the front cover and all over the inside too and added some nifty little clearance chipboard items to the front for character.

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One of the features that makes the smash book so neat is the included smash stick which is a great felt tip marker on one end and a glue stick on the other end. This is great for dysfunctional, unorganized, on-the-go crafters like myself!

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K and Company offers a whole plethora of cute and unique accessories to give your book an added boost of fabulousness and provide some easy storage for those souvenirs and other assorted keepsakes. There’s pockets, and labels, and baggies oh my!

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They also have a vast variety of “smash pads” to choose from. Each smash pad is choked full of themed notes and journal prompts to help you remember every last detail of whatever event or project that you care to smash into your book.

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What do you put in a Smashbook? ANYTHING YOU WANT!!! I’ve got magazine clippings, random things I’ve printed from the internet, catalog clipping wish lists, ticket stubs, pictures, and other random tidbits in mine! The back of each book has a built on pocket for extra smash ability.

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K & Company sells fancy “smash tape” but I like a little glitter in my life so I bought a ton of Reflections brand tape at Michael’s on sale and cut slits in one of my children’s shoe boxes to make a handy little tape dispensing device. Smash tape (and other similar products) are super easy to use and add a decorative flare to items you may not want to permanently glue down. It does not tear paper and is reposition-able if you decide to move it around. It’s overall pretty darn awesome!!!

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I used the “wedding” themed book to create a way to store our wedding and shower invitations and momentos as well as keep a log of our anniversary celebrations over the years, special date nights, etc. I used several pockets to store pamphlets, postcards, hotel keys, and other assorted goodies I’ve collected over the years. I even had random Instagram photos printed to remember dates and venues. I love that on our 30th anniversary some day, I can look back and remember that we spent our second anniversary at the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas and have the handwritten card the manager left in our room to prove it!

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This is just a tiny glimpse of the many memories, thoughts, and souvenirs I store in my Smash books. What will you smash into yours?

You can get your smash book in 3 different sizes at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Target, or Amazon.com if you’re an online shopper. In fact, if you’re in the market for one this week, I happened to notice that the books and lots of accessories are being featured on the discount site Zulily through Friday so go have a look!

http://www.zulily.com/e/k-and-company-smash-58074.html?pos=74

Happy smashing!

Steak tacos

Steak tacos are a favorite go to meal in the Latch house. The kids love anything involving steak and cheese, and I like anything that doesn’t make a gigantic mess, takes less than 30 mins to make, and is delicious!
Gather ingredients-you’ll need
-Steak- I typically use sirloin but have used filet or ny strip before.
-Colby jack or other favorite cheese
-1 lime
-white corn tortillas
-cilantro
-steak seasoning (optional)
-margarine or butter

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Slice steak into thin strips and place in large skillet with about a tablespoon of butter or margarine. Take this time to add whatever seasonings you normally would a steak should you choose to do so. I use this fabulous Weber Chicago Steak seasoning that my hubby does when he grills. I also add a dash of onion powder and garlic powder. I often slice some very thin onion and toss it in with the steak but I was running late for an appointment so I skipped it this time. Cook the steak on medium heat till its at your desired heat.

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While your steak is cooking, take a second to grate your cheese if its not already done, slice your lime, pick and wash your cilantro leaves, and begin to hear your tortillas in a small skillet or in a griddle if you’re one of those kind of domestic divas.

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Once your tortillas are warm and toasty and your steak is cooked well enough for you get your plates handy and begin to assemble your tacos. Add the steak then squirt with some lime juice and top with cilantro then cheese. Fold in half and serve. We often serve with rice but they’re pretty tasty all on their own too so it’s not needed!

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Laundry lessons

Dear Diary,
It’s amazing how one little load of laundry can make you feel like you’ve really earned your title as the Dysfunctional Domestic Diva! I’ve done so much laundry in the last 9 years you would think I was a pro at it by now. I used to like to think laundry was one of my domestic strong points. I’ve always been great and on top of my game with getting clothing clean and dry. Sorting, hanging, folding, and putting it away not so much but that’s another diary entry for another day. This morning as I sorted my latest load I learned that maybe I’m not quite a domestic diva in the laundry room after all. Now I have come to share this valuable knowledge with other dysfunctional domestics like myself. Carry on good and faithful sorters, but go and ruin clothing no more!

7 lessons I learned from this mornings laundry load

1. Always check your pockets. Husbands and children are notorious for tossing things in the hamper with full pockets. I’ve been known to find nails, screws, nuts, bolts, hair accessories, lip gloss, magnets, toys, electric razor attachments, and even my husbands brand new iPod in the laundry!

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2. It’s probably not a good idea to wash athletic shorts with sequins and fancy lace tops together. EVER!

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3. You may think you’re only doing laundry for your husband and 3 daughters but apparently, American Girl Dolls don’t do their own laundry either!

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4. When washing cute little Etsy creations with drawstrings or ribbon ties, it’s probably a good idea to remove said ribbons and drawstrings or tie them into a snug little bow so that they do not meet other cute little Etsy creations in the spin cycle to create one giant ball of cute fabric ribbon that will undoubtably take hours to untangle

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5. When your 4 year old says she wants to help with laundry, let her but don’t take your eyes off of her for 2.5 seconds or she may toss in an object that has no business in the washing machine like oh I don’t know, a white cap with hot pink sequin apple! Hot pink sequin apples have the potential to not only ruin the item they are on but other items as well. Like her sisters brand new stripey shirt for instance.

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6 & 7: This one tiny little pink ruffled shirt taught me 2 very important lessons. First of all, no amounts of oxyclean, peroxide, baking soda, or shout will get fudge pop stains from a light pink ruffled cotton top. Second, and probably more importantly, never, I repeat never send a child to grandmas house in a light pink ruffled cotton top. Grandma gives candy, popsicles, and red punch out like it’d going out of style! Black or brown are the only appropriate colors for Grandmas house!

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Spinach stuffed chicken cups

I’m not one to follow recipes. That’s a little too well thought out and planned for a dysfunctional domestic diva like myself. But every time I make this dish, someone undoubtably wants the recipe. So here we go, I’m going to attempt to give you the “recipe”. Please know that I don’t use very technical measurement terms when I cook. You will never hear me say “add a cup of this or a tablespoon of that”. More than likely you’ll hear “add a dash of this and a pinch of that” so bear with me. Maybe some day I’ll be more organized and technical.
The fist thing you’ll want to do is gather your ingredients and supplies:
-chicken breast (how much obviously depends on how large they are and how many people you need to feed)
-cherry tomatoes
-frozen spinach
-shredded mozzarella or other Italian cheese
-seasoning of your choice (I keep it fairly simple and use an Italian blend, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper)
-extra virgin olive oil
-lime juice (optional)
-muffin tin
-cutting board
-sharp knife
-a small mixing bowl
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You’ll need to preheat your oven to 350 and slice your chicken breast in half vertically. I used 2 chicken breasts and was able to make 6 chicken “cups”.
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Chop your cherry tomatoes into 4ths and set them aside. In your small mixing bowl, add the frozen spinach, a dash of all of your seasonings, a drizzle of olive oil, a dash of lime juice, and your shredded cheese and mix well. I used about a cup and half of spinach and 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella but you’ll have to eyeball amounts dependent on how many servings your making.

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I used heb organic naturals frozen breasts so they weren’t huge but I cut the larger one in half again to make 4 cups from just 1 breast! The other one was smaller and only made 2. Once they’re cut, use a meat tenderizer or your fist if you have pent up aggression to beat the chicken into thin pieces. You may lightly season the chicken with the same seasoning you use for the spinach if you choose to do so. I do! Next, spray your muffin tin with cooking spray and put the chicken in forming individual hollow “cups”. Fill each cup with spinach/cheese mix and put in the oven.

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Obviously your oven and what not will make a difference as well as how thin you were able to beat that chicken but after about 8 mins (exactly 7 mins and 44 seconds in my case) remove the muffin tin and add your tomatoes and I like to sprinkle a little bit more cheese to hold it all together and clog my arteries a little more. Then put back in the oven another 5 mins or so until the chicken is fully cooked and the cheese is nicely melted.

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Remove from the oven and serve with your choice of side dish. My kids like it best with angel hair pasta tossed with a dash of rosemary and olive oil but we’ve served it with white rice as well.

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Mmmmm… Delicious! My kids will eat anything in the shape of a cupcake but if your littles despise spinach you can fill with anything they like really. We’ve filled them with broccoli and velveeta before and they were pretty darn tasty too!
Hope you enjoy!

ABCmouse.com

School started for P last week but T still had 1 more week before her preschool program begins. P attends a classical school where she goes to a traditional classroom two days per week, is homeschooled two days, and has electives on the final day. We love her school and the format really works well for our family. I enjoy getting to share the teaching responsibilities with her school teacher and we love the flexibility we have with the school schedule.

Anyway, on home days, T is always dying to do “homework” too. I’ve stocked up on preschool and kinder workbooks in attempts to give her a jump start at Kindergarten next year and she’s super smart if I do say so myself! This year P’s school has decided to implement some learning through technology and P now has some assignments that she can do in the form of a game online or iPad app. Naturally whatever big Sissy is doing, little Sissy wants to do. We had seen the commercials for abcmouse.com on tv so we decided to give it a go. I’m so glad we did because she loves it and I love knowing the programming is age appropriate and educational.

Each child can select an avatar to represent them and a teacher to guide them. The classroom is bright and easy to navigate and there’s a town map where children can visit a theatre that shows alphabet videos, a pet store, and other shops.
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They even have class pets they can feed and care for. A hamster and an aquarium. Children can earn tickets for completing lessons to purchase additional pets and accessories.
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They can choose to free play various themed educational games or follow their assigned “learning path”. Each game or lesson in their learning path awards hem with tickets to use for prizes or to purchase clothing and accessories for their avatar and classroom.
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The learning path changes environments after you complete all the lessons of one section
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I asked T to tell me which game was the one she enjoyed the most so I could give you an example but she said she has 2 favorites so I’ll show you both! Hamster ball bowling- the object of the game is to knock down all the pins by selecting the 2 hamster balls with numbers that will add up to 10

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She also loves Sea Horse racing. The object of this game is to select the correct shape as quickly as possible to give the seahorse a boost to win the race

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On top of all the fun games and other obvious educational assets, the games also teach alot about general computer usage for beginners.

Try it free for the first month and then it’s only $7.95. That’s a steal in my book for the hours of educational entertainment for a busy body 4 year old!
www.abcmouse.com
My studious little cutie pie

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Shopping Cart Dash

The girls and I love to play games together so I’m always looking for unique games that will spark their interest. A couple of their favorites have been The tea party game and the Cupcake game so when I stumbled upon Shopping Cart Dash last week, I knew we needed to try it! We cracked open the box tonight for the first time after I put the little troublemaker down for the night. The girls both loved it! Here is our review:

Shopping Cart Dash

A fun with Chimp and learn with Zee game for 2-4 players ages 3+

The game comes with 12 puzzle-like track pieces that form a large square when assembled. It comes with 4 different colored shopping carts, “gold coins”, a supermarket “shelf”, 6 different shopping lists, and 36 “items” (groceries).

The object of the game is to move along the board collecting all of the items on your list based on the color you land on. You must pay for each item using one of your coins. The first to collect all of their items is the winner.

I’ll be honest, I was expecting this game to be more fun for T (4) and wasn’t expecting P (9) to get into it. I was wrong. They both loved it and I too enjoyed playing it with them. It is definitely aimed more towards the preschool crowd as everything is color coded and it is very simple but I think the cuteness factor of it really appealed to everyone equally. The little shopping carts actually have rolling wheels, the food items and grocery list have glittery details, the grocery shelf itself is pretty stinkin’ cute, and the lists had items like a soccer ball or candy added in the “treats” section.

The only con we found to the game was that the coins were sort of challenging to get out of the bottom of the grocery shelf once you were done with one game and wanting to start another round. I think the kids found that less annoying than I did! lol Overall, this was a great buy and we would highly recommend it!

The colors are bright, the pieces are darling, and the object is simple. Would make a great addition to your game closet or classroom. The greatest part of all? It’s very inexpensive! $11.50 on Amazon.com

I will attach the link for Shopping Cart Dash as well as the Tea Party Game and Cupcake Game that have been a few of our go to games over the last couple of years.

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Love having fun with my girls!

20130831-231622.jpgYou can find Shopping Cart Dash here:

http://www.amazon.com/Chimp-Zee-Shopping-Cart-Dash/dp/B0038O2DOG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378009114&sr=8-1&keywords=shopping+cart+dash

You can find The Cupcake Game here:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Cupcake-Game-by-eeboo/dp/B004LCJJS2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378009150&sr=8-1&keywords=the+cupcake+game

You can find The Tea Party Game here:

http://www.amazon.com/eeBoo-TEAGM-Eeboo-Party-Game/dp/B000FAICF0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378009181&sr=8-1&keywords=tea+party+game