Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Style Me Pretty Challenge

Alright ladies, many of you have asked me to post about clothes: work wear, casual wear, playdates, date nights, etc. Believe me, it can be a challenge for me, too. Sometimes, I get stuck in a rut or I simply run out of ideas. But, have I found a solution for you!!!
 
The Style Me Pretty Challenge at Get Your Pretty On, is a virtual styling program that includes a seasonal shopping list plus 21 days of outfit combinations made from the pieces on that list. It's an affordable way to have access to a personal shopper and stylist, while staying on trend each season. Each challenge also includes its own Facebook group where women share shopping tips, show off their outfits and make lasting friendships.
 
Fall Style Challenge - Button Image 2

 
If you are anything like me, and often stare at your closet, wondering what to piece together next, THIS IS FOR YOU!!! Head on over to her blog and check it out.
 
I wouldn't be advertising this product, if I didn't believe it was amazing. There is even a sample challenge from a previous season that you can have sent to you before ordering. Just to make sure it's something you'd be interested in! The next challenge opens on September 26th regular registration closes on October 2nd. However, you can sign up any time between then and November 1st for a small late registration fee. The whole thing is risk free...you can get your money back if you aren't completely satisfied. But trust me, you will be! 
 
So what are you waiting for?! I can't wait to see what she comes up with!! Stay tuned on my blog for updates on how the challenge is going for me. And send me pics of yours, too!
 
If you are on Instagram (and hello, if you're not, you SHOULD be!), follow me HERE and search the hashtag #FJstylemepretty for my outfits, once the challenge has started.
 
Okay, what are you waiting for? Go check it out!! And comment below when you do, so I can follow along with you, too!



Monday, September 29, 2014

Disney!

I'm back!!! My girls and I just got home from an amazing 5-day getaway to southern California. We went down for a wedding and spent 3 glorious days at Disneyland, too. I realized that it was the longest I've ever been away from either my boys or hubby. Although it would have been even more fun to have them there, too, it was so great to have time with just my girls. A memory that I'll never forget!

My parents, my sister and her family, as well as my brother, were all there, too. It was so nice having their help with the girls. Don't know how I could have done it without them!

I have a ton of pictures, but here are just a few....
















And incase you've ever wondered what Disneyland looks like at midnight, here you go! This was 16 hours in! #disneyaddicts

I'll do another blog post with more pics. We met many of the Disney princesses and that was a trip highlight, for sure! Disneyland is good for the soul. It's true...the happiest place on earth.

So for now, I'll leave you with this. I'm off to unload a massive amount of groceries and continue to run my laundry. Isn't returning home from vacation, fun? Uh. Not.


Monday, September 22, 2014

A peek into our home--the downstairs bathroom

 

 
Alright, alright, so I know a bathroom isn't a super exciting room to look at, but I love the way ours turned out. As I've mentioned in previous posts, we bought our house as a short sale and have had some work to do (mostly cosmetic and a few structural changes) over the past 6 years. One of the last rooms we left was the downstairs 1/2 bath.
 
When we moved in, it was painted a muted teal color and didn't bother me as much as other rooms, so we left it. About a year ago, I got the itch for change, so I went to Pinterest and fell in love with the thick horizontal stripes. My hubby is a master painter. For real, he's really, really good. And he wasn't intimidated by my request for change.
 
Selecting the color is always the hardest part and I was struggling between a light grey and a dark grey. Our downstairs office, which is next door, is a dark grey, but I wanted a little contrast, so I went with the light, and I'm so happy I did. I love the way it pops against the white stripes. I also love the pop of red. I figured that when I'm tired of the red, I'll easily be able to change it out to something different. The room is so tiny that it took just a few fun accessories to make the room feel complete. I don't like busy, and this was a great balance for me.
 
The wreath is a Christmas decoration that I've had for a long time. Somehow, in this space, it didn't feel holiday-ish and I've been fine with leaving it up year round. By next year, I'm sure I'll be ready for a change, but it's working for me, now. I found the fun bathroom prints at Ross, the red vase was a gift from our realtor when we bought our house and the sign on the toilet was a gift from a friend. Super simple and easy d├ęcor.

With little boys, I had to get rid of the rug because I felt like it just soaked up the smell of pee. Instead, I try to wipe the floor and walls around the toilet, at least once every other day or so. And usually, I can keep the smell of urine to a minimum. All the boy moms of the world, rejoice! Some simple hand soap, a cute hand towel and voila. A complete bathroom!
 



 


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Top 10 things I {LOVE} about fall

In honor of the first official day of fall, I am sharing my top 10 favorite things about this season. There really could be a list about a mile long, because I love it so much. But, here is the best of the best! I didn't put them in a particular order, because that took too much thought and I kept second guessing myself. So, instead, I completely randomized it, to make me feel better about not selecting a favorite.

1. Crockpot meals. I really can't wait to do the majority of our cooking from the crockpot. It's my most preferred cooking method, but somehow doesn't seem great when it's hot outside. Here are a few of the recipes I'm going to try out in the coming weeks.

www.kidsactivitiesblog.com

2. Crisp air. As much as I absolutely cannot complain about the beautiful summer we are having. Yes, it was over 80 degrees today, still. I am loving that the evenings are cooling off and there is a crispness in the air. It's so refreshing to feel a cool breeze blowing through the house and I looooove having the windows open during the day!

3. Football. Need I say more? Besides my hubby being a high school football coach, we are also UW Husky football fans, not to mention the WORLD CHAMPION Seattle Seahawks. Whoop whoop! Nothing screams fall like a Friday night football game, followed by waking up to College GameDay on a Saturday morning. I know it's not for everyone, but we love to sit around in our sweats, drinking coffee, hanging out with the kids and watching football games. In fact, yesterday, the hubby and I had a date day, hired two high school babysitters (a sign that you have a LOT of kids!) and headed up to Seattle for the husky football game. So much fun! Our 9-year old will be taking my place the rest of the season, but I got one game in before then!



4. Pumpkin anything. My obsession with pumpkin flavored anything is very real. My sister just bought pumpkin flavored pretzels at Costco and I nearly died. Heaven. I also love pumpkin cookies, candy, muffins, candles, etc. If it's made of pumpkins, give it to me!!

5. Pumpkin patches. Speaking of pumpkins, the pumpkin patch is one of my favorite traditions. We have so many of them around here and I love taking the kids! We have a yearly tradition of meeting friends for a large group picture. There are now 14 of them. We also take just our kids up to one called Maris Farms, that is my favorite pumpkin patch of all. Sometimes, I'll even hit up a small one for a quick after school trip. Best part is that most of them are free!!

One of my favorite pics from when Jake was just 2!


6. My birthday. Those of you who know me well, know just how much I LOVE birthdays. My birthday included. I try so hard to make birthdays special for my kids, just like my parents did for me. And some of my friends can appreciate my deep love for birthdays and try to make the day extra special, too. That's when you know you've got good friends! This year, my birthday falls on a Sunday, so I'm looking forward to a day of family time. my favorite.

7. Changing leaves. The Pacific Northwest is such a beautiful place to live, but in the fall, it's absolutely breathtaking. Mt Rainier, combined with clear sunny skies and orange/red leaves. Doesn't get much better. We love to take walks, crunching on leaves, collecting them and taking pictures with them. One of the coolest parts of nature.

8. Fall scented candles. I am totally a scent girl. When I walk into a house, I loooooove the cozy smell of fall candles. Pumpkin spice, candy apple, pear cider, etc. The warm, food scents are my favorite and instantly put me in a good mood. I've already started using my fall Scentsy waxes and am loving the smell of my house.

9. Sweat pants. After a long summer, we finally reunite! I love a good baggy pair of sweats and a tattered hooded sweatshirt when I'm lounging around my house. Our house is too warm in the summer for me to be able to do this, so the minute it cools down enough, I bust them back out. I mean, these sweats are so old that they've been cut at the ankles, have paint splatter and look downright nasty, but like a favorite blanket, I can't get rid of them. If it weren't for my 4 kids needing my undivided attention alllll day, I would be content to lay on the couch in my sweats with a giant cozy blanket, drinking coffee and reading a book, or watching some football. Does that just not scream fall?!

10. Starbucks' pumpkin spice lattes. I guess this could have gone into the pumpkin category, but because I love them so much, I thought they deserved their own. I've actually expanded my palate and really love a Pumpkin Spice Americano, as well. I know that the pumpkin flavor isn't real. But, I guess it doesn't bother me that bad. It's a treat I only enjoy in the fall and because it makes me so happy, it's worth it. Gets me every time.



And there you have it. Fall....I just love you. And today I started decorating! Pics coming soon.
 
What are your favorite things about this amazing time of year?!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Fashion Friday--My new, favorite booties!

 
I'm so happy it's Friday and I'm even happier that after a LONG search, I finally found the perfect booties!!!
 
There are many fashion trends that I don't catch on to quickly. In fact, sometimes I'll wait until the trend has been around for months before I take a leap. But, I gotta be honest, the first time I saw someone wearing booties, I knew I'd jump on the bandwagon. They are cute, comfortable and totally versatile. I love that they can be worn year round and can be dressed up or dressed down. I LOOOOOVE me some boots (especially with leggings), but I feel like I have to wait until mid-October to sport that look. Booties are a great alternative to the full boot.
 
Alright, so the details. Where did I get them? What brand?
 
 Well, here's the deal...I absolutely SCORED these at Ross. And for $19.99! It was completely by chance. I went, looking for a couple new throw pillows and browsed by the shoes. I mean, really. Who doesn't do that when heading to Ross. And then I spotted them. And I knew we were a match made in heaven. My size, perfect fit and unbeatable price.
 
 The brand is Report and I already own a pair of wedges in the brand, which are one of my favorite pair of shoes. I tried finding them online to post a link for you, but sadly, I think they are an older model. Nordstrom does carry the Report brand and they've got a cute line. But, I found this pair of Franco Sarto booties that looks very similar, if you click HERE.
 
 





 
I scrolled back through my phone and found a couple other pictures of me wearing the booties.
 








My favorite look is with the denim skinny jeans, rolled up to just above the height of the bootie. I found a great post on Pinterest, regarding the best way to wear your jeans with booties. Check it out HERE.
 
Here are a few other favorites of mine. Cute, cute, cute!!! (Click on the picture for a link)
 
Women's Light Luggage Suede 3 1/4 Inch Perforated Suede Ankle Bootie | Sidney by Sole Society
 
Spring Booties! #LFstores #SteveMadden


Frye 'Patty' Riding Bootie | Nordstrom
 
Today's blog post is linked up these sweet girls! Check them out for lots more favorite things!!! It's also linked up with the Get Your Pretty On blog!
 
Momfessionals
 
Hope you have a great Friday! Enjoy your weekend! As usual, we've got three full days of football! Go Jags, Go Huskies and GO SEAHAWKS!!!!
 
XOXO

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dinner ideas

Dinner ideas are usually a struggle for me. I love to cook, but don't have a lot of time in the evenings, so I need easy. I also need kid friendly. =)
 
Here are a few ideas for fairly easy meals that we've had over the last couple weeks. The kids love them all. Yes, even the brussel sprouts. I don't know why they get such a bad rap, because they are one of my favorite foods on the planet!! And so good for you.
 
These meals all remind me of fall. The nights are getting cooler, so it's easier to cook inside! Horray! If you have a great recipe that's kid friendly, and easy, leave it in the comments. I'd love to try some new stuff out!
 
 


Teriyaki Meatballs with Grilled Veggies
 
Ingredients:
package of frozen meatballs
teriyaki sauce
fresh or frozen veggies (I used peppers, carrots, celery, onions, and water chestnuts)
jasmine rice
 
Directions:
dice veggies and grill them with olive oil
cook meatballs according to the directions on package
combine veggies and meatballs and cover in teriyaki sauce, mix together well
pour mixture over steamed rice
sprinkle teriyaki sauce over top
 
 



 
Coconut Curry Chicken
 
Ingredients:
chicken breast
container of coconut curry (I buy mine at Costco and it comes in a fresh, refrigerated package)
onion
brussel sprouts
garlic
jasmine rice
 
Directions:
dice chicken breast and grill until cooked through
grill onion separately and then combine with chicken
mix in entire container of coconut curry
let simmer for 15-20 minutes on low heat
chop brussel sprouts in half, cover in diced garlic and olive oil and grill until brown
cook jasmine rice according to package
pour chicken mixture over rice and serve with grilled brussel sprouts on side
 




 
White Chicken Chili
 
Ingredients:
1 1/4 lbs boneless skinless chicken
2 cans pinto beans
1 can hominy
                                                                        1 envelope taco seasoning                                                                        
1 can of chopped green chilies
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken broth 
1/2 cup sour cream
 
 
Directions
place frozen chicken breasts in crockpot
cover with pinto beans and hominy
in a separate bowl, combine taco seasoning, green chilies, cream of chicken soup and chicken broth
pour on top of ingredients in crock pot
cook for 8-10 hours
before serving, stir to break up chicken and stir in sour cream
 
Toppings:
diced avocado
cilantro
diced green onions
 
 


Ground Turkey Spaghetti
 
Ingredients:
1 lb ground turkey
1 box of uncooked noodles (I used penne)
1 can diced tomatos
1 jar tomato sauce
Italian seasoning
parmesan cheese
 
Directions:
cook ground turkey until cooked through
stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatos and Italian seasoning (I do this, to taste)
simmer for 15 minutes on low
salt/pepper as needed
cook penne noodles
serve sauce over noodles
 
Optional Side:
steamed green beans
 
 
 
Brussel Sprout/Apple/Walnut Pasta
 
Ingredients:
1 box uncooked pasta noodles (I used rotini)
1 large apple
2 cups brussel sprouts
1/2 cup walnuts
olive oil
salt
 
Directions:
dice brussel sprouts, apples and walnuts
grill with olive oil and salt until cooked through
cook noodles
combine noodles and mixture above
add 2 tbsp. of olive oil, stir well
serve in a bowl
 


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

6 fun ideas to avoid screen time at night


In response to another reader's question (seriously, you guys are so sweet, supportive and have such great ideas for posts), I'm talking about ways to avoid screen time in our house.
 
I need to preface this by letting you know that we DO allow our kids screen time every day, and I have no problem with it at all. In fact, sometimes I think it can be a helpful tool in parenting. But, coming up with other ideas of what to do, is hard. We tend to get stuck in a rut, bored of the same ole, and then turn to screen time because that's the only thing left you can think of...besides tearing your hair out because the kids are running around like maniacs or complaining of being bored.
 
Or maybe that's just what happens at my house.
 
 
Anyway, we had an amazing speaker at MOPS last year, who talked about the importance of kids working their large motor skills before they can move to the small motor and fine motor skills. This was such a brilliant wake-up call for me, as a mom. And it clicked. When kids are asked to sit and do homework, or they sit down in front of a screen, they are using their small motor and fine motor skills. What they need first is large muscle movement.
 
 
When my kids get home from school, around 3pm every day, they immediately head for a snack. And then, they like to just kerplunk in front of a screen. I find that they get cranky and irritable if I make them quit, but recently, I've been in the routine of keeping them active after their snack, and before they sit down, and it really makes them calmer and more pleasant in the evenings. Here are some large motor activities we do to stay busy after school:


 

1. The chase game. Now, friends, we are very serious about this game at our house. If you ask any of our kids, "do you want to play the chase game?" The immediate response is squealing, screeching, giggling and asking where to line up. They love it. It's pretty much the game of tag, but inside. The adult starts and makes monster sounds while chasing the kids. Whoever gets tagged becomes it and they do the same. We can play this for 20-30 minutes, until everyone is panting and out of breath. No supplies required and it's fun for all ages.

2. Magic carpet rides. All you need for this is a large blanket. Preferably one you don't care much about. Place a child on the blanket and have the other kids, or you, pull them around the house. They LOVE it! Take turns and even have them double up on the edges while you are pulled around the house.

3. Scavenger hunt. When you are feeling lazy, but the kids have a lot of energy, (Um, hello..when is that not the case!?) this is the best game. Tell each child to go and find something in the house and bring it back to you. Assign a different object to each child. For example, something that keeps you warm, an object to clean yourself, something that starts with the letter T, etc. Make it hard for the older kids, easy for the younger ones. Once they bring you the object, they have to run it back to it's place before you assign them the next one. I know it sounds silly and easy, but my kids will play for an hour. I can sit and drink coffee on the couch while they run up and down the stairs, in search of random objects. Try it.

4. Scattered puzzle. Take a children's puzzle, with 25 pieces or less, and hide the pieces around the house. They can only find one piece at a time and have to run it down and lay it on the center of the floor. When all pieces are found, they work together to build the puzzle. This is great because they get completely worn out while searching for the pieces and then get a breather while they put it together.

5. Stair slide. I say this with caution because not everyone may like this one. But my kids LOVE it. Have them either sit on a blanket or a piece of cardboard at the top of the stairs, and slide on down. Diaper boxes work great for this. They need to be careful and obviously be supervised, but they will have a blast!

6. Dance party. This is a personal favorite of mine. We turn on the music super loud. Guessing our neighbors aren't quite as big of fans as we are. And we just dance! I'll pick them up and twirl them around. We make up our own moves, do whatever we feel like and probably look super silly, but it's fun. And that's what matters! Even my 9-year old isn't too cool for a good, old fashioned dance party in the living room. I use a kid friendly Pandora station...sometimes Disney and we get our groove on. It's even better if you know the words to the songs, so you can dance and sing together.

Once they seem good and worn out, this is the time where you want to slow down to smaller motor skills. They can take a walk around the house, shake out their hands or even give neck rubs. A personal favorite of mine. Once they've completely calmed down, this is perfect time for them to sit and do their homework. My girls don't have homework yet, so they can color or sit and read. Yes, they will do that. A far cry from what my boys were like as toddlers. Typically homework takes 20-30 minutes and by that time, I'm starting to think about dinner. THIS, my friends, is the perfect time for screen time. I cook dinner, they can watch a show, play the wii or use their kindles. And everyone is happy.
 
Once we've had dinner, most of the time, we keep the TV off for the rest of the night. Sometimes my boys will watch something, or play on their kindles, after the girls are in bed, but most of the time, our evenings are busy, and daddy is home so they want to spend time with him. Trying to put into place the idea of large motor, small motor, fine motor, has been extremely helpful with my kiddos, and I'm grateful for that piece of advice I received last year. As moms, we aren't perfect, and there are plenty of times when I have to rely on electronics to save my sanity. But, trying some of these techniques may help you through that time I call "the witching hour"...which is post-nap/school, until dinner time. We put our kids to bed earlier than most. (I will do a separate post on why), so evenings go quickly once dinner is done.
 
Try these out, I can almost guarantee you'll see smiles and worn out kids! And for sure, less complaining. What more could we ask for!?
 
 
XXOO




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fair time!

The first three weeks in September are pretty famous around these parts. It's fair time! The WA State Fair is such a big deal where we live, that kids (and teachers) get a half day of school on "fair day" and get free tickets for admission. This works well for our family because football practice is held at noon and the  hubby was done in time to spend the afternoon/evening at the fair.
 
We had such a great time doing all of the non-ride activities. I think the cows are a family favorite, so we usually head there first.
 
Prepare yourself for a photo dump. I'm too tired to do anything with these, so I'm putting them all on here for your enjoyment. You're welcome.
 
As a side note: I do love the convenience of the cell phone for pictures, but it has made me incredibly lazy! I hardly ever bust out my "nice" camera anymore. I need to do that more often!
 

















 
 
Because we told the kids no rides on fair day, I promised them that I'd take them a different day to get "dizzy passes". (Aka. ride all you want for $35). I may or may not have pulled my boys out of school early to take advantage of a 90 degree Monday. We had the best time. And hey, I never take my kids out of school for other things, so I don't have too much guilt.
 
We met up with my sister and her boys, as well as my mom. She spoiled us rotten. As per the usual.
 
I love that my nephew and Molly are just one month apart in age. They are perfect ride buddies! And, my mom is the coolest grandma and decided to get herself a dizzy pass to ride with my boys. What a score!
 
Such fun was had by all. After about 3 hours, my mom and sister left, so I spent the last 2 alone with my kiddos. You know what? It went great! Better than I had imagined. The kids were well behaved, they listened and we had a blast. It is possible to take 4 kids to the fair alone.
 
A special shout out to the sweet stranger who saved me by putting my screaming daughter on her lap and going down the giant slide with her. That's the one drawback about single parenting at the fair. I was helpless and she totally saved the day!
 
 





 


 













 






 
See the sweet lady on the left, who is holding a crying little girl---who decided, once at the top, she wasn't coming down. Yeah, that was fun.
 


 
I've been 3 times this year already, and am not sure if I'll be back again or not. It truly is one of my favorite places to be. There is something nostalgic about walking around a familiar place with familiar smells and sounds. We are blessed to grow up with this great tradition!
 
And I'm going to forgive Kenny Chesney for cancelling his concert on Saturday night. I was really looking forward to it....but instead had fun eating dinner and walking around with some of my favorite girls.
 
Until next year. Or next week! ;-)