Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Best Baby Travel Must-Haves for #MySummerJourney




New Orleans, Nashville, Atlanta, Arkansas.... these are all the places we've gone with our newest baby.  We are scheduled to go a few more places this year, too.  Several 2-day trips to places within state are planned.  All of these trips, however, require lots of planning and lots of stuff!

Taking baby places can be quite the challenge.  Even the best-behaved little one requires diapers, clothes, travel gear and toys.  And while we have learned to downsize to just the essentials on most of our trips, we also know that having the right extras on hand can make or break a trip; a stressed out baby is no fun for anyone!

Whether we have headed out to the front yard or across 5 counties to see family, one item we have found to be indispensable is the Disney Baby Cars Lightning McQueen Walker from Safety 1st.  It's a very stable and very engaging toy that my son loves being in.  When there isn't enough room in the house for him to get around (our house is small), we set him out in the yard where he can move around among the clover.  The toys on the dash light up and make noises; and they come off when you want to have a clear surface for snacks or other activities. I've considered this to be a lifesaver on days when the older kids are in our pool and he's not willing to go swimming.  We can chill out and watch the kids without him getting bored!


When we're out and about in the car, there is a product that I've considered a "must-have" for all of my babies.  It is the Safety 1st Baby on Board Sunshade, and it can keep little ones (and grown-ups too) from getting too much sun and becoming uncomfortable when riding.  Even though many car seats (including the OnBoard 35 Air) have sun shades built in, they may not provide all the shade a baby needs in certain times of the day.  Keeping glaring light away from them helps them to ride peacefully and even get a nap in!



For bigger kids, safety is still important.  So is style!  That's why I was super excited to see that the BoostaPak Belt-Position Booster Seat was such a win for my 7-year-old.  It looks like a backpack when stored, and my son can easily carry it out to the car himself (which is a big deal; he's very small.)  When he gets to the car, it takes just minutes to set it up with the safety belt adjusted to the perfect height for him.  (Note that this works only on car seats with a shoulder belt.)  


Since he's small for his age, he doesn't have to feel embarrassed carrying around a car seat when we switch cars or when he visits friends and family.  This would be good for the older child who still needs a booster but wants a more "grown-up" way to transport and store it.

It goes without saying that parenting 6 kids would be much more difficult without the right gear.  These products from Safety 1st make me feel like my kids are secure, wherever we travel!  For more info on their products, visit their website, Facebook, and Twitter!

Wanna Win?  We are giving one lucky reader the chance to win the BoostaPak we reviewed above.  To be entered to win, just tell us where you will travel that the product will come in handy.  You have until August 29th at 11:59 pm CST to get your entries in.  One entry per person.  U.S. 18+ only.

*Samples received from Safety 1st to review.  Opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Introducing: New Kind Bars (Caramel, Almond and Sea Salt)



Kind Bars were my go-to snack when I was pregnant. The nut ones were so full of nuts and sweetness, I could substitute the candy that I wasn't supposed to have with a protein-packed sweet snack that really filled me up.  Even now that the baby is born, I still crave something "snacky."  The newest Kind Nuts & Spices line of bars do that, with yummier flavors!

The first kind that I love the most is the Caramel Almond & Sea Salt bar. This is as close to a candy bar as you can get.  It is nougaty and gooey and very full of caramel.  The almonds are crisp and whole (not chewy).

I also like the Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond, even though I'm not a big dark chocolate fan.  Both of these bars contain 5g of sugar (or less) - and nothing artificial. Both flavors contain 7g fiber and 6g protein, too!

The bars are more expensive than a typical "energy bar", but I think they meet a need that's not out there currently.  A quality snack with ingredients you can see and taste, plus no icky aftertaste that you get in other "health" bars.  I'm keeping the Caramel on hand for my candy attacks!

Find both of them where Kind bars are sold (or order them from Amazon.com)

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School Dinners: Shrimp 2 Ways!



I have loved shrimp my whole life.  Unfortunately, my husband hates it, and it hasn't always been reasonable for our tight budget.  Since hamburger and bacon have gotten higher in price, however, shrimp has stayed relatively stable in price.  You can get a pound of shrimp from the freezer section for less than many beef products on the market.

To get my kids excited about trying this rare eat, I created two dishes that I thought they would enjoy.  Both take little prep time, and they were quick to get on the table on a busy weeknight.

The first, Shrimp Au Gratin (which is based on the recipe found in Miss Kay's Duck Commander Kitchen Recipe Book), can be served in one large baking dish, or in individual casserole dishes.

You'll need:
  • 1 pound shrimp, any size
  • 1/2 pound scallops, any size
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 quart whipping cream
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
  • 2 cups bread crumbs (Great Value Italian Style works well)
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
To make it, melt the butter in a skillet and add the onion and celery.  Cook about 6 minutes on medium high heat, or until softened but still firm.  Add the flour and mix constantly (do not let it brown.) Then slowly add the cream, stirring while you pour and stir in the cheese.  After it has become a very thick sauce, pour it into a glass rectangle baking dish.

In the same pan, stir fry the shrimp and scallops until pink and cooked through.  Add the seafood to the baking dish and cover the entire dish with the bread crumbs (evenly spread out.)  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until it bubbles.  Allow to set for 15 minutes before serving!  We like eating this with crusty bread or crackers.


The second dish is a simple shrimp salad.  You can serve it on a bed of lettuce (or bok choy, as our family likes it) or with crusty bread.



You'll need:
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp, chopped
  • 1 hard boiled egg, chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup mayo (not salad dressing)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and chill until served.  This makes a great sandwich filler for a sack lunch.  Make extra and use it for a brown bag option.

Does your family like seafood?  We find that -- even though we are a landlocked state, there is a wide selection of frozen fish, shrimp, crab, and more at our local Walmart.  We try to enjoy it once a week, so that my kids get accustomed to trying new fish.

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I've received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Review of Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes


I made a meal plan this week.  Yes, it's been a long time; I actually used to share my meal plans with you every week!  As I've watched baby #6 learn to coast, the garden get taken over with weeds, and our homeschool year begin, however, I'm very lucky to get anything delicious on the table at all -- much less put together a plan!

Since receiving the Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes book by Donna-Marie Pye to review, however, things have really changed.  The past 4 days, I have made 4 yummy, hot meals for my family that they actually enjoyed.  I have tried new ingredients that I have never had before (tomatillos, anyone?).  I have also limited my cooking dishes to just ONE.  My slow cooker!

This book is unlike any other slow cooker book I've read.  First, the recipes are truly unique.  This is not another collection of the same dishes you could make in the oven or on the stove, but adapted to work in the slow cooker.  They are new-to-me recipes that may require a little prep on the front end (The Coffee Pot Roast, for example, needs 48 hours marinated in vinegar to be sublime). I have never had my family eat up all that I have cooked in a new meal before, however, so I am especially pleased at how little food we have wasted.

Recipes we have tried include the Chili Verde (with chicken substituted for pork) and a tasty combo of potatoes, baked beans, and meat.  I have discovered that most of the 200 recipes shared in this book are perfect for my busy lifestyle, and there are only a handful that don't fit my favorite flavor profiles.  (Plus, there are over 80 beautiful color photos of the food; if you're scared to try something new, these can help you decide!)

And since I'm a big fan of tips, the sections on using the slow cooker more efficiently, ways to soak and use up dried beans, big batch planning, and recipes that use leftovers are pretty amazing, too.

You can find this must-have cookbook at Amazon for well under the $24.95 list price!

*Title received to review. Opinions are my own.

 
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