11.24.2014

Upcycled Tin Can Holiday Candle Holders


In one of my many trips to Target, scouring the back end caps for clearance stuff, I found these really cute candles. 


Super cute, but sadly not on clearance and I just didn't feel like spending the money on one. I got home that night still thinking about the candle and tried to figure out how to recreate. Then it struck me to get a can and some Mod Podge and get to work. 

Supplies:

11.20.2014

Maty's All Natural Cough Syrup Helps You Feel Better Naturally

I received a sample for this review. All opinions are my own.


The holiday season is my favorite time of year; we visit with family, eat great food, and get a few presents or two. Unfortunately it's also the time of year where my family tends to get sick. Normally, my husband brings some sort of "funk" home, but this year it's been my toddler. 

He's in school 3 days a week and he's already started up with the runny nose and a slight cough. Thankfully it's not the full blown flu or anything major that he won't get through quickly, but he definitely prefers to feel his best. During the day he's fine, but during nap time and at night is when he starts coughing. Unfortunately, that means both him and mom are awake. 

As many of you know, I do not like to put any old product into my or my families bodies. We try our best to eat unprocessed foods and avoid chemicals at all costs. Medicine is no exception to that. There are so many wonderful herbs and plants that can help heal you and make you feel better naturally that I just don't see the reason to use drugs for something like a cough or cold. Now when we're feeling a little under the weather, we turn to Maty's and their All Natural Cough Syrup to help us feel better.

Before I became a mom, it never really occurred to me to look at what was really in the things I used on a daily basis, but now I read the labels on everything. Have you ever looked to see what's in your cough syrup?


Maty's All Natural Cough Syrup contains 10 immune boosters in every spoonful - some of them are things I use often in my home like apple cider vinegar and honey. Their All Natural Cough Syrup has no side effects and no drug interactions so it's safe for both you and your children. 

My son started taking this the second day of his cold and it worked quick and well. That night he didn't wake up once coughing and I knew it helped his throat feel better too because he didn't complain about it hurting in the morning. I love knowing that there are products out there like Maty's that help my family feel better naturally without the use of any drugs or chemicals. This is something I plan to keep stocked in my house all winter long to help us feel our best when any sickness comes.

Maty's is available at CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, and other stores near you

You can connect with Maty's on their website, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, and @MatysHP on Twitter

11.19.2014

Hot & Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip

Although desserts are my true love, appetizers come in a close second, especially when there's cheese involved. My husband's grandmother makes a truly delicious spinach artichoke dip, but she uses mayo which The Hubs refuses to eat. I decided to surprise him after work last night with my own version of his grandmother's spinach artichoke dip and it did not disappoint.



Hot & Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:
  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can artichoke hearts
  • 3 cups fresh spinach (could also use 5oz of frozen chopped spinach)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. butter
Directions:
  • Melt butter in skillet (medium heat) and cook garlic for about one minute. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts, about 3 minutes. Add artichoke hearts and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Put garlic/spinach/artichoke mix into food processor and pulse until spinach and artichoke are well chopped.
  • Mix together cream cheese, sour cream, and cheese in a bowl. Gently mix in the spinach artichoke mix.
  • Grease a small baking pan and add the mixture. You can sprinkle more cheese on top if you'd like. Bake for about 20 minutes.
Serve with bread, chips, vegetables, or anything else that makes for a good dipper.

This is a hearty dip that is sure to please any crowd. I plan to make this for our big Christmas dinner this year and hopefully Hub's grandmother likes it ;)

What's your favorite party appetizer? Do you have a special appetizer recipe you like to make for or bring to parties? 


11.18.2014

Traveling Tuesday: Touch a Truck

Every year there is this great event in Orlando called Touch a Truck that's put on by one of the local schools. The Downtown Orlando Touch-a-Truck is a community even that provides families the opportunity to learn and explore about trucks, construction vehicles, and public safety equipment. Each truck has a driver present to answer questions, help kids sit in the truck, and let them honk the horn. 


"Nugget" is absolutely obsessed with all forms of moving vehicles, plains, boats, etc. It's gotten to where it's second nature for me to point out different vehicles that drive by and I now know the names of far more construction vehicles than I ever thought possible. This event was basically made for a kid like him. 


We were one of the first people there at 9am because the first 300 kids get a free Hot Wheels car. Obviously we could not miss out on that not to mention having an already planned activity in the morning with a toddler makes for a good day. When we walked in he immediately ran over to the giant CAT construction machines.


The Oscar Meyer Wienermobile was there! I was probably way more excited about this than him because I've never actually seen it in person. I'll admit he was a little confused by the term "Wienermobile" given that he has a wiener. I had to explain that's another word for hot dog...and again, more confusion and a lot of laughing on his end. They even gave him a wieny whistle! He would not stop blowing it - so now it's "lost" indefinitely. 


I think he was probably most excited about the monster trucks. He loves all things monster trucks (that's even the theme of his party this year) so he couldn't believe when he got to see it and touch it up close. These were like mini monster trucks and honestly they were kind of cute. I actually would love if he wanted to drive one of these when he was 10 or 12 or whatever the age is for it. 


There were so many different cars there. They had a stretch bug limo of the Truly Nolan mouse car that he sat in for a good 5 minutes. We got to see a lot of service trucks like garbage trucks and dump trucks for the city. One thing I thought was really cool was a mobile farmers market. They basically took a bus, removed the seats, and filled it with shelves that hold fresh fruit and veggies. The bus will be driven into low-income areas. I think this is absolutely genius.


Another awesome thing we saw was this hamster wheel sno-cone maker. The kids run on the hamster wheel to make the ice crushing machine work to crush the ice and fill their cup. There are lots of other levers and what not that go with each step of making the sno-cone. It was really cool and "Nugget" loved it. He couldn't wait to get in that big wheel and run.


There is so much to see and do at this event. This is a great way for kids to learn and have fun - we saw how the different trucks worked and learned more about what they did and "Nugget" was beyond excited to "drive" the trucks like a big boy.

Downtown Orlando Touch-a-Truck is held in November of each year and runs from 9am-1pm. Cost is $5 per person ages 4 and up. The weather was gorgeous and we couldn't have asked for a better day to learn more about different trucks and what they do. 

11.17.2014

15 Amazing Low Carb Thanksgiving Recipes


Sticking to a low carb diet can be tricky during the holiday season. There's so many parties to go to with plenty of tasty appetizers wrapped in puff pastries and sugary desserts just waiting to be eaten. While it may seem like you can't enjoy your favorites during the Thanksgiving feast, you certainly can with some equally delicious modifications.

Here are some amazing low carb recipes that you can make for your Thanksgiving meal that will keep your carbs and hopefully your waistline in check.


11.14.2014

7 Reasons Why I Hate Feeding a Toddler - and How I'm (Barely) Winning the Food Battle

Oh, toddlerhood. You bring the best and the worst with you. We seem to have most things pretty easy with "Nugget." He's a great sleeper, he's really getting this potty business down, and while he does act like he's hyped up on 7,845 packets of sugar all day, he's still a very funny and most of the times, really sweet, little boy.

Except for mealtimes.

God help me, when it comes to meal time, I feel like I may very well lose my mind. Once upon a time, he ate everything. Fruits, vegetables, meat - whatever I put in front of him, he happily gobbled up.

Seriously, look at that face happily eating avocado

Once he hit around 18 months he became a tiny food terrorist. Suddenly his favorite foods were gross and heaven forbid he try something new. Over the course of the last year, his eating has gotten worse and worse. My behavior certainly didn't help as I pretty much became a short-order cook. Around the beginning of this year, I didn't even bother offering him what we were eating anymore, I just made him his staple of either chicken nuggets, pizza, or grilled cheese. 

2 days ago I decided I would no longer negotiate with terrorists...er, I mean toddlers.

I listened to a friend's advice - LET HIM STARVE! Not really, but sort of. Let's be real, he won't actually starve, so no need to call DCF or anything, but he will eat what is offered to him when he's hungry enough. The other night I made pizza casserole (spaghetti squash, meat, sauce, cheese) and he refused to eat it, despite the fact that pizza is one of his 3 staple foods. I told him he needed to take 3 bites and then he would be done. He said it was gross and threw a fit. I refused to budge this time. Let's just say he went to bed hungry and that bowl of food was reheated for breakfast the next morning. 

This is how that morning began:
-Mama - I hungry. I need a waffle, pwease.
-No baby, you get pizza casserole for breakfast; remember you didn't eat it for dinner.
-I DON'T LIKE PIZZA! I LIKE WAFFLE! I SO HUNGRY!
-Sorry about your luck.

After about an hour of this, he finally relented and tried it. 

And he LIKED it. "You told me I like it, mama. So yummy," he said. Gee, thanks kid.

Then this afternoon he tried something new I was eating. I offered it to him and he didn't freak out and say it's yucky like he always does. He just ate it - and liked it. Just like that, the food battles have subsided ever so slightly....and I feel a little less neurotic. It's a win-win. And while he certainly doesn't have to clean his plate and I'm not going to force him to eat something he truly doesn't like, he at least has to try things.

With that, here are my 7 Reasons Why I Hate Feeding a Toddler

1. You're doing it wrong. Broken cracker? Wrong. Sandwich cut into triangles? Wrong. Blue plate? Wrong. Pretty much just assume you're going to do it wrong and be prepared to do it again.

2. They know when you're making empty threats. Eat this food or you won't get to watch tv/play on the iPad/etc. False. They will be doing one of those things because you'll need time to chug that glass of wine after dealing with the dinner time battle and the TV is awesome for that.

3. Negotiating only makes it worse. You can have a cookie if you eat your broccoli. Soon they will want a cookie for eating anything. Bad, bad, bad. Don't negotiate.

4. They're unpredictable. Will he eat it? Will he throw it on the ground? You just never know.

5. Circular reasoning. Here's your pizza. I want grilled cheese! Here's your grilled cheese. I don't wants grilled cheese, I want pizza. Le sigh.

6. Regurgitation. They like to pretend they're going to eat something only to spit it back out. In your hand. And laugh. 

7. The mess. It's not enough to get whatever tiny bit of food you can manage into their mouth, clearly their clothes and the floor are hungry, too.


Are you currently in the heat of the food battle with your toddler? Survived the picky eating? Feel free to share some tips - I could use them.

11.13.2014

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies using Monk Fruit in the Raw

I received this product for free from the sponsor of theMomsMeetSM program,MayMediaGroupLLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a MomsMeetsSM blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product

It's rare to find me using real sugar. I just can't bring myself to use it when there are calorie free alternatives. Now, I won't use any kind like aspartame or others that I've read some scary articles about. I like to keep my sweeteners as natural as possible - and if it comes from something like a fruit, even better. I was so excited to finally get to try Monk Fruit in the Raw through Moms Meet because it's made from real fruit without any weird added chemicals and of course, it's calorie free.



  • Monk Fruit In The Raw is a wholesome, zero-calorie sweetener made from real monk fruit, a vine-ripened fruit that is native to Asia.
  • Monk fruit, known as luo han guo in Asia, was first harvested in the 13th century by Arhats, or “Enlightened Ones,” which translates to Monks in English.
  • The sweet and delicious extract from monk fruit is blended with other sweeteners to create the perfect balance of sweet.
  • Monk Fruit In The Raw is naturally vegan, kosher, and gluten-free, and does not contain any added table sugar, sugar alcohols, or molasses.
  • Conscious, rejoice! Monk Fruit In The Raw has the closest taste to sugar of any non-caloric sweetener, and has the least amount of aftertaste.
  • One pack of Monk Fruit In The Raw is about as sweet as two teaspoons of sugar.
  • One box of Monk Fruit In The Raw (40ct packets) retails for $3.49, and the Monk Fruit In The Raw Bakers Bag retails for $6.99. Price may vary based on the retailer. 


I had to try it in my morning cup of tea first. I usually add just a tiny bit of sweetener in my tea and this tasted great. Sometimes I worry about strange aftertastes or that a sweetener might upset my stomach, but I had no problems at all with Monk Fruit in the Raw. Even my husband was curious and decided to add it to his morning coffee and he said it tasted just as sweet as regular sugar, which is what he normally uses.

Now adding it to my drink is one thing, but cooking and baking is a whole different story. I honestly couldn't wait to dip into my Monk Fruit in the Raw Bakers Bag and get to work. "Nugget" has been asking for cookies lately. His favorite is chocolate chip, but I wanted something a little more exciting. In my kitchen, bacon is something we consider a condiment. Whether savory or sweet, everything is better with a little bacon. Thus, I decided these cookies needed some bacon love, so I whipped up a batch using Monk Fruit in the Raw.


Given that I try to stay as low carb as possible and wheat just doesn't make me feel great, these cookies are made with gluten-free coconut flour. It's practically impossible to get a chewy cookie with coconut flour, but these are light and airy which goes nicely with the crunch of the bacon.

Chocolate Chip Bacon Gluten-free Cookies
Makes 1 dozen small cookies
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup Monk Fruit in the Raw
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Directions
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together coconut flour, baking soda, salt, Monk Fruit in the Raw, coconut oil and eggs in a bowl. The batter will be pretty wet, but coconut oil absorbs a lot of liquid, so you want it to be that way. Gently stir in the chocolate chips followed by the crumbled bacon. 


Put the cookies on a parchment lined sheet. Monk Fruit in the Raw recommends using 1/2 of the required sugar with Monk Fruit and the other 1/2 with regular sugar when baking since generally baked goods need the sugar to rise. In this case, due to the coconut flour, I knew the cookies weren't really going to rise much anyway so I went ahead and just used all Monk Fruit in the Raw.


Since the cookies don't really rise or expand much, you want to flatten and shape them to your liking. Bake for about 14 minutes and then let cool on a baking rack.


These turned out amazing! I always worry when using a new product for the first time that what I'm making won't taste good, but these were seriously awesome. As with the tea, there was no weird aftertaste, and there wasn't any grittiness to the cookies either that can sometimes happen with other types of sweeteners. 


The perfect balance of salty and sweet, with the coconut tying it all together, these are the perfect indulgent treat. They work surprisingly well with a lower carb diet and are great if you're gluten-free. The Monk Fruit in the Raw was the perfect sweetener for these cookies and I can't wait to try it in other baked goods and meals.

Connect: You can connect with In The Raw on their website, Facebook, and @InTheRawBrand on Twitter.