Tuesday, May 15, 2018

my kids like the game Build or Boom

Please note I was sent product in exchange for this blog post but all opinions and photos are my own.

My kids are getting to the ages where they like to play games together.  They can take turns and get along, long enough to get through a game.  So when I was recently asked to review a new game from Goliath Games I jumped at the chance.  Build or Boom is a two player game for ages 4 and up.  

 There are a stack of cards called blue prints.  Players race to build the structure just like what is shown on the card.  Each structure is build on a platform connected to a line of "dynamite."  And the player who gets done first gets to blow up their opponents platform structure.  Hence the name Build or Boom.  

I have a 3 1/2 year old boy who loves to build with blocks, duplos, etc. and even he is good at this game.  The blue print cards have three different levels of difficulty so we selected the easiest level for him to complete with.  And even if he is the winner he still likes to blow up his own structure as well.  

This game is great for teaching shape recognition, following directions, analytical thinking, building finger dexterity and of course sportsmanship.  Overall my kids were crazy about this game and have really enjoyed playing it.  Mom and Dad even enjoy it too!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Paleontologist Pudding Cups

Back in my day (huh... that makes me sounds kind of old) birthday parties at school consisted of moms baking cookies and cupcakes at home and bringing them in for the class to eat.  I remember one time my mom piped Big Bird with icing onto Chocolate cupcakes.  And another time she painted cookies to look like Raggedy Ann and Andy.  But nowadays school parties have to be purchased from a store due to health safety reasons.  And I completely understand, especially with food allergies becoming more common it makes sense to be cautious.  So for our recent 6 year old's school party I came up with a clever idea to dress up a school approved snack.

Paleontologist Pudding Cups!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Fairy Garden Party Theme

The year before last, we were at a Flower Show and one of the displays was a fairy garden.  My daughter was completely taken in by the display and did not want to leave.  From then on anytime a fairy garden came across our path she was intrigued.  Last summer I purchased a couple pieces for her to place in one of my flower pots and she called it her "fairy farm" and over winter break I signed her up for a fairy garden class where she made an indoor fairy garden.  So for her birthday this year a fairy garden theme seemed like the perfect idea.  "Like glittering dust on Fairy wings, little girls dreams are magical things."

For this party I did use a little bit of Tinker Bell items since she is the most famous fairy. 

So welcome to Ott Pixie Hollow.  There was a wreath on the front door and out in the landscape I had a child sized wheel barrow full of flowers next to a sign that says, "Garden Fairies come at dawn, bless the flowers then they're gone." 

 The weather was perfect that day so we used the outside to our advantage on the front porch guest could stop by the "Fairy Fashion Shoppe" to pick out their fairy wings, crown and fairy tattoo.  (Nothing is cuter that little girls running around in fairy wings.)

I also made toadstools out of tree logs and plastic bowls to place outside as well.

After getting dressed like a fairy, guests
could get their faces painted like a fairy.


Once inside there were more decorations.  The entry way was decorated.  I did use a couple angel like figurines here and there.  I figured it they didn't have a halo we were good to call them a fairy.  And here and there you will see a butterfly or dragonfly because they it seems like winged creatures would hang out together. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Fairy House Cupcakes

MacchiOTTo wanted a Fairy Garden themed birthday party this year.  How cute are little girls running around in fairy wings, and face paint and glitter EVERYWHERE?!?!  And while I obsess over every... last.... detail... of her party, cookie houses with fairy picks on top of grass piped icing with some sprinkle accents.. were a great idea in my mind. (but a time consuming endeavor.)  One of those... this will be so cute and easy... and then it turns into this all day tasks and houses collapsing, and icing everywhere and well... you get the idea.  I ended the day with 8 fairy house cupcakes and I think they are incredibly cute, but I'm giving you all fair warning ahead of time these are a big commitment to make.  
 I started with this gingerbread cookie cutter I had that made small gingerbread houses.  I made rolled out sugar cookies.  Next I used a stiff buttercream icing and built the house.  I would do a couple of walls and then stick them in the fridge to firm up hard and then do the other walls, but back in the fridge and then do the roof last.

For the roof I used crushed up graham crackers with green food coloring so the roof would look moss or "thatchy" and help take away the gingerbread look. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Two childrens books: about a garden and a stolen Stradivarius

Please note I did receive product samples in exchange for this blog post, but the picture and opinions are my own.

My kids love books, so today I'm reviewing two childrens books.  The first one is "A Big Garden" by Gilles Clement and illustrated by Vincent Grave.  As most my readers know we have a big garden and my kids are great helpers with it.  We have several kid garden books, but this one is particularly nice due to its size and the illustrations.  
A Big Garden is a lap sized book showcasing how something happens each month of the year in a garden.  (Whether you realize it or not.)  Far beyond planning, planting and harvesting the garden this book also has beautiful illustrations.  Each page has vibrant watercolors with elaborate details of tiny gardeners busy at work.  My kindergartner loved that each page had something to look for in an almost "Where's Waldo" like style.  She searched every page for the tiniest of details. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Krusteaz Cookie Mix for your next Cookie Swap

Please note I did receive product and compensation from Krusteaz, in exchange for this blog post. 

I need a mug or shirt that says "I just wanna bake Christmas Cookies and watch Christmas movies all day long."  Seriously, this time of year I cannot get out of the kitchen.  (except to curl up with a blanket and watch some Hallmark Channel.)  And it seems like here lately Cookie Swaps and Exchanges are being such a hit for holiday parties and get-togethers.  So when I was approached by Krusteaz to sample their Cookie Box Mixes, I knew I had to give them a try. 
 Nothing catches my eye like a decorated sugar cookie.  I tried a box of the Krusteaz butter vanilla sugar cookie and followed the directions for roll out cookies.  Wow, were their cookies surprisingly full of flavor and remained soft days after baking.  I was so pleased with how they turned out and couldn't wait to include them on my Christmas cookie plate. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Canned Zesty Peach BBQ

Please note I did receive product from the Washington State Fruit Commission in exchange for this blog post.

A golden orange colored barbecue sauce with flecks of red, is a great way to capture summer flavors for marinades and sauces to be used all year long.  I recently received a shipment of stone fruit from the state of Washington and couldn't wait to put up the sweet summer flavor of fresh picked peaches. I found this recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and will be spooning it over chicken or fish this winter.  Simple to make and taste great.

For more ideas on how to preserve stone fruit please visit sweetpreservation.com  


Thursday, July 27, 2017

New Febreze One Fabric and Air mist

 This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

I recently had the opportunity to try new Febreze One Fabric and Air mist.  I enjoy entertaining, but occasionally the house needs some freshening up?  Whether that is getting rid or pet odors or cooking smells, I put Febreze One to the test in my home.  With two scents bamboo and orchid and an easy spray handle I set to work using it on everything; furniture, bathrooms, even clothes.  That's the great thing about Febreze One!  It is designed for both air and fabrics, so it can act as your go-to, all in one, air freshner.  And there are no aerosols, dyes or heavy perfumes.... bonus!!!  

Right now you can find Febreze One Fabric and Air Mist at Meijer stores, and check your mperks for $1.50 coupon. Put one in your closet, one in your bathroom and one in your kitchen, because you are sure to enjoy this great product.  
When you run out simply purchase refill bottles and reuse the sprayer.  


Please note I did receive product samples and compensation in exchange for this blog post.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sampling Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC

I recently sampled some coffee from Fresh Roasted Coffee, LLC., an online coffee distribution
company based in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.  Since 2011, fresh and eco-friendly roasted coffee has been delivered to coffee-lovers across america. Initially, the company started with a selection of single origin coffees and custom artisan blends, but now they have expanded and have purchased rare and exotic coffees, grinding and
packing equipment and branching off into loose leaf tea. 
I had the pleasure of sampling some of their medium roasts coffees.  I found the Dominican Republic to be a delightful cup with crisp hints of apples and vanilla.  A perfect cup to wake up to each morning.    I found the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe to be a straightforward well balanced cup of coffee that can take on some cream and sugar if that is to your likening.  And I am currently drinking my way through the Guatemala Huehuetenango which has subtle hints of chocolate and orange.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Cherry Limeade Jam

It's mid-July and I have been in my kitchen 3 days straight canning up a storm.  In the back of my mind I keep thinking, "Winter is coming."  Granted that's a good 5 months away, but still, I want to be prepared.  All kidding aside I have a fabulous jam recipe to share with you as a way to savor those delicious sweet cherries.  Some day dreary day this January I will open a jar of this Cherry Limeade Jam and remember the hot and steamy days of summer.  The citrus notes in this jam are sure to energize you on those dark winter mornings atop your breakfast bagel or toast.  Grab your cherry pitter and get to work on this recipe because the sweet cherries won't last long without some sweet preservations!

And for more recipe ideas for sweet cherries be sure to check out SweetPreservation.com 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Mad Otters Tea Party

Earlier this spring we were going through a Tea Party phase at our house.  The kids had a little tea set and would love to sit around and pretend to drink from pink tea cups and pretend to eat plastic cookies.  Somedays they dressed up. Somedays they ate real cookies but both kids were crazy to play tea party.  So when MacchiOTTo turned 5, I thought a little girls tea party would be a perfect theme for an afternoon party.

But if you know me well, then you know the gears in my mind turn (alright spin) rather wildly when it comes to party themes.  So I thought about tea and the Mad Hatter came to mind.  And since Hatter had 2 T's and Ott has 2 T's my mind really started to race so we hosted a Mad Otters Tea Party! A fun and whimsical little girls birthday party with lots of colors, hats and of course tea!

First up I had an outdoor decoration that was the "Mad Otter" himself.  I'm sure you've all seen the two sided decorations of a snowman on one side and scarecrow on the other.  Well our snowman got a make over and with some artificial flowers for hair and a new ribbon and bow tie he turned into our Mad Otter.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Crock Pot Southwest Chowder with Farmers Pantry Cornbread Crisps

It has been a crazy couple of months around here but no matter how busy you get you can always dump some food in the crock pot and enjoy a great soup recipe later.  Today I'm sharing a recipe for Crock Pot Southwest Chowder.  And what goes better with the flavors of the southwest than cornbread.  So I'm also sharing about Farmer's Pantry Cornbread Crisps.  Sprinkle a few on top of your soup and you will have one tasty meal for this chilly spring nights.  
Available now at WalMart stores in Indiana, Farmer's Pantry Cornbread Crisps come in three varieties: Honey Butter, Jalapeno, and Original.  They come in full size bags or snack size bags and this mom likes them because they are made using real corn in a nut free facility.  Perfect bite sized treats that are baked and not fried.  Enjoy on their own or garnish in a bowl of your favorite soup.
And now for the recipe: