Thursday, July 19, 2018

mini cherry pie bites

Please note I was given product samples from the Northwest Cherry growers in exchange for this blog post.  All photos and opinions are my own.

Is miniature food not the cutest thing ever!?!? I mean a bite sized cherry pie.  You can pop the whole thing in your mouth and have the perfect ratio of fruit and crusts.  Bake them in your mini muffin pans and you have the perfect summer appetizer or dessert.  Nothing says summer like a cherry pie.
We love Rainier sweet cherries and this little treat is perfect for summer entertaining.  Be sure to check out the Northwest Cherry Growers website for more great recipes and ideas.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

a children's story about a boy and his kite

Please note I was sent a copy of this book to review and blog about.  All opinions and photos are my own.

We have been reading a lot of books this summer.  We read books inside and outside, in a chair, in a tent, in the car and while waiting for swim lessons.  One of the books we read this summer is Benji and the Giant Kite by Alan C. Fox with illustrations by Eefje Jujil.  
Benji is a boy who wants a kite.  To earn money for the kite he works in the family garden for two weeks.  Once he gets the kite, he is thrilled to fly it. 

This book has beautifully illustrated pages, with hidden treasures, including bumblebees, shells and mice munching on blueberries.  His dog in the story is adorable.  And I as a parent appreciate the value of teaching kids they need to work hard for what they have and then they can achieve anything. You can find it here on Amazon.
BENJI AND THE GIANT KITE is based on a true story from the author’s own life.  This is the second in Alan Fox’s series of picture books. The first, BENJI AND THE 24 POUND BANANA SQUASH, was named a notable children’s book of 2017 by Booklist magazine and has become a much-loved story for youngsters and parents alike.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Dinosaur toys for kids

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

I have a girl that's into dolls and princesses and a boy that's into trucks and trains.  But there is one thing that they both like and that's..... Dinosaur's.  So, whenever I come across Dino toys, books, movies... I am all in because I know they are both going to play and get a lot of use out of them.

With Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom heading into theaters on June 22nd, interest for dinosaur toys is high! Whether it's a classic plush from Wild Republic and Dolce that can help kids explore and express their feelings and emotions, to educational STEAM products from Thames & Kosmos and Magformers that allow kids to learn and explore - here is a nice selection of "dino" themed toys.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Sampling Gettysburg Coffee

The older I get the more I like history.  If there is ever an evening I get the TV all to myself you will find me watching documentary's or shows on the history channel.  This week I have been drinking a dark roast coffee from the Gettysburg Coffee Company.  But you don't have to be a Civil War buff to enjoy this great blend.

Specializing in hand-crafted gifts and accessories made right in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, offer gourmet blends roasted in small batches by the Great Gettysburg Coffee Company™. 
Check out my new coffee bar rack.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Highlights in summer to get ready for next school year

Please note I was sent product samples in exchange for this blog post.  All opinions and photos are my own.  
Our little Miss MacchiOTTo rocked Kindergarten this past school year.  She is reading, writing, doing math and we love to see her learning and improving everyday.  So in an effort to prevent the "summer slide" we continue to daily work on all the things she covered in school and a few new things to help her out in 1st grade.  We have signed up for the summer reading program at our local library.  And she has a goal of learning how to tell time and count money before school starts up again.  
One of tools we are using this summer to help her stay on track is Highlights Learning.  I loved Highlights magazine as a kid.  And the brand's newest initiative utilizes their fun puzzles, mazes and hidden picture activities with learning skills of writing, reading, addition, subtraction and more! 

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