Category: Fun Stuff
Monday, November 21
Before we take off on our Thanksgiving travels, I have to share this super cute, crazy easy Thanksgiving kids craft with you. Owen brought it home from school. It’s so simple and so cute (and so delicious…I love Hunt’s Pudding Snack Packs for some reason!) even I would do this craft with my kids. That is really saying something. I’m like the anti-craft mom.
- Chocolate Pudding Snack Pack
- Small Googly Eyes
- Construction paper, cut into feather shapes and small orange triangles for the nose
How To Make the Turkey Pudding Craft:
- Flip the pudding snack pack upside down.
- Using either a hot glue gun or scotch tape, attach the eyes, nose and tail feathers.
- All done!
You could even have the kids make these and then put them on the table at each place setting for decoration. It will keep them busy while the grown-ups are cooking and make them feel like they’ve contributed.
I never thought I would say this on the blog…but…Happy Crafting!
Sunday, November 20
Happy Thanksgiving Week! I’m going old-school-This-Week-for-Dinner and doing a weekly menu post filled with all kinds of stuff. Here we go!
THIS WEEK’S MENU
We were originally going to be hosting Thanksgiving here at our home, but plans have changed and now we’re driving to Utah to be with family there. Which means I don’t need to plan a menu for this week because we’ll be traveling. But if YOU have a menu planned for this week, please share it in the comments!
This November I’ve been feeling a lot of gratitude. Things have also been a little quiet here on the blog, on my podcast and on my social media channels. You see, two weeks ago I was in a car accident. I’m not going to get into details for now, and I am recovering very well. That said, the accident was scary and unexpected. In the end, though, it could have been so much worse and, from the moment the car came to a stop and I knew I was okay, I felt nothing but gratitude throughout the entire experience. That gratitude carried me through. And now, entering the busiest time of year, I’ve not only been forced to slow down, but I’ve also thought a lot about just how lucky and blessed I am. Instead of feeling frustrated by not being able to do more this November I’m just taking it in stride and letting it be a positive experience. Here’s to a holiday season that is less about the busy and more about the gratitude and love.
That is why I haven’t been posting much or sharing any new recipes for Thanksgiving. But that’s okay, I’ve got tons of great Thanksgiving content on the blog already. If you’re looking for assistance for the big feast this week, I have some links you need to peruse!
- Click here to see every post I’ve shared on the blog with the tag Thanksgiving Prep. Clicking this link simply takes you to that blog category, where you can scroll through all the Thanksgiving Prep posts.
- I have tried pretty much every technique out there for cooking turkey with the exception of frying. Last year I finally figured out the formula for the PERFECT TURKEY. Click here for my Perfect Roasted Turkey post.
- Click here for my pie crust tutorial and favorite all-butter pie crust recipe.
- Click here for my Thanksgiving feast menu from 2 years ago. I link to all of my most favorite Thanksgiving recipes in that post, some of which I am sure I we will be cooking up at my sister-in-law’s home this year!
If you have your Thanksgiving feast planned, please share that in the comments! Links to recipes always welcome!
GILMORE GIRLS IS ALMOST HERE!
Forget the accident, I think the new Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life episodes airing on Netflix the day after Thanksgiving is why I am feeling truly grateful this year. Just kidding! (Mostly.)
Netflix sent me an adorable package filled with goodies to help us enjoy the new episodes. I’m still not sure if I’m going to bingewatch or spread out the new episodes, but the mailer got me and my girls watching old episodes together this weekend and it’s been so much fun. Nate is still flummoxed by the fact I can watch Gilmore Girls over and over and over again. (To be honest, I’m a little flummoxed by it myself.) Psst…I have an inside source who has already seen the new episodes. This little birdie didn’t give me any details (it’s a good birdie) but she did say that the new episodes are SO GOOD. Are you as excited as I am?!?!?! WOOHOO!!!!
And with that I am DONE. I kind of love today’s post. I don’t have to plan a weekly menu (I know, ironic). THANKSGIVING! And GIMORE GIRLS! As I mentioned before, if you have a weekly menu and/or Thanksgiving plan to share in the comments, please do. And, of course, any and all discussion of the Gilmore Girls is welcome! Happy Thanksgiving Week!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 6:05 pm 18 Comments
Categories: netflix, thanksgiving prep, weekly menus Tags: dinner plans, gilmore girls, netflix, netflix stream team, thanksgiving, thanksgiving prep, weekly menu |
Friday, October 28
Friday Show and Tell: The Best Plastic Wrap, Cool (Actually, Warm!) Lightbulbs and The Perfect Netflix Halloween
Happy Friday! I have a few things to share with you today for Show and Tell.
Costco Seriously DOES Have the Best Plastic Wrap
People have been telling me for years to get the Kirkland plastic wrap at Costco. There is no good reason why I haven’t, I just never did. Well, this week there was a guy on the end of the aisle at Costco sampling plastic wrap. The kids were not super excited about those samples but I was! It meant I finally remembered to buy the darn stuff. And, good news, you don’t have to buy it in a truck-sized box anymore, it comes in two smaller boxes that actually fit in your kitchen drawer or cabinet. So, why do I love it? It sticks to itself and glass beautifully. AND that little slider cutter things is the best thing ever in the history of the world.
Finally Acandescent Lightbulbs
This week I tried out a new kind of lightbulb, which I was pretty excited about. (I think you know you’re old when lightbulbs become exciting.) Here’s the deal: I really don’t like LED and fluorescent (CFL) lightbulbs. I will admit that both kinds of lights have improved significantly over the years, with more size and shape options as well as LEDs that come in different light temperatures, from warm to cool. But I have yet to find a non-incandescent bulb that I really love and find that my LED and CFL lights both offer a more “harsh” light, even when the temperature is warmer. Finally Light Bulb Company contacted me to see if I would like to try out their acandescent bulbs. I was totally game because of my mixed feelings about LED and CFL lights.
Finally uses what they call acandescent technology, based on a decades-old induction technology. The result is a lightbulb that is the same shape and size as a traditional bulb that offers a warm, soft white light. The best part for me is that the light is omnidirectional, meaning you don’t get those same harsh shadows that often come with LEDs and CFLs. And the level of warmth with these lightbulbs is perfect. Warm but not yellow, they give off a great soft white light.
So, do we like the bulbs? Yes we do! We put them in one of the bedrooms and in all our lamps in the living room and have been very happy with them. Knowing that incandescent lights will be gone in a few years, it’s nice to have another lighting option to choose from. A few notes:
- Finally’s acandescent lightbulbs are significantly more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, about the same as CFLs. LEDs are still the most efficient, but Finally comes pretty close.
- Finally bulbs do contain mercury (you will see this on the label), but it’s the same amount as you find in a can of tuna, so very minimal. The bulbs are landfill safe and do not need to be disposed of the same way you would have to dispose of a CFL, which has more mercury levels.
- The “omnidirectionality” (i.e. not as harsh or shadowy) and soft white color of the light from these bulbs is great.
If you are interested, you can buy Finally Light Bulbs on their website, on Amazon or at Staples stores.
If You Haven’t Watched Stranger Things Yet, Let’s Use Halloween As Your Excuse To Do So NOW
Have you watched Stranger Things on Netflix? If the answer to that question is “No” then let’s just use Halloween as an excuse for you to remedy that situation RIGHT NOW. And while I’m glad I’ve already watched it, I’m a little jealous of you Stranger Things virgins out there. Because it is SO MUCH FUN the first time you watch it. It’s the best thing every in the history of the world (besides the Costco plastic wrap slider cutter thing, of course).
As usual, Show and Tell is for the whole class! If you have something you would like to share, please do so in the comments!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 4:00 pm 2 Comments
Categories: around the house, costco, fab faves, netflix, the goods Tags: around the house, costco plastic wrap, finally bulbs, netflix, netflix stream team, stranger things |
Wednesday, October 26
I’m going to start a post about low-sodium eating with a crazy statement: I love salt. No, really. I LOVE SALT. So when I met my friend Jessica Goldman Foung (a.k.a. Sodium Girl) many moons ago, I have to be honest that low-sodium eating was something I had never even thought about. Then I heard Jessica’s story. In 2004 she was diagnosed with Lupus and learned that the autoimmune disease had attacked her kidneys and brain. As a result of all the craziness, she had to adjust her diet, including eating no sodium. This pretty much blew my mind. No sodium? How is that even possible? After following Jessica and her culinary adventures all these years she has proven to me that a life without sodium can be a rich and delicious one indeed. She is quite the inspiration.
The American Heart Association recently asked if I would help spread the word about their new Sodium Breakup campaign. I was more than happy to so that people like me (a salt lover who could definitely improve her diet to help her heart) and people like Jessica (someone who had to give up salt to save her life) could both learn all about low-sodium eating. I was honored to be given the opportunity to write the kick-off post for the campaign on AHA’s website, which you can read by clicking here! Over the next few months you can keep checking in with the AHA to get all kinds of great low-sodium information, tips and more. The AHA is bound and determined to make your breakup with sodium a breakup you are happy about!
And I have even more low-sodium goodness for you today: a book, a recipe and a giveaway!
First, the book. Low-So Good is a beautiful resource written by my friend Jessica. The book has 70 mouthwatering recipes (hello, Jerk-ish Fish Tacos with Sauce, Slaw and Salsa, I need you in my life), but it is also a complete guide to low-sodium eating. Low-sodium novices and experts alike can benefit from what Jessica has to offer, and I love the guest articles peppered throughout the book from other food experts. The photography is gorgeous, the book is well organized and easy to read, and, best of all, Jessica’s infectiously happy personality shines through. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to cut some (or even all!) sodium from their diet…or really to anyone at all! Click here to buy Jessica’s book!
Second, the recipe. A really helpful part of Jessica’s book is advice for eating in restaurants when you’re trying to go low-so. One of my favorite recipes in the entire book is MacGyver Vinaigrette. It’s more of a formula than a recipe, providing the guidance you need to make a salad dressing on the fly with ingredients you can find at restaurants. It’s awesome. So today I’m sharing one of my MacGyver no-sodium vinaigrette creations, which is sweet and zesty! The recipe is below and sized for one serving.
Lastly, the giveaway! One of you lucky, randomly-selected people will win a copy of Jessica’s book Low-So Good. Here is how to enter! (All comments must be posted before Midnight PT Wednesday 11/2/16. Prize must be shipped to an address in the U.S.)
- Leave a comment on this post! Easy peasy!
- Bonus entry: Follow This Week for Dinner on Facebook (leave a separate comment indicating you follow)
- Bonus entry: Follow Sodium Girl on Facebook (leave a separate comment indicating you follow)
- Bonus entry: Follow American Heart Association on Facebook (leave a separate comment indicating you follow)
And now for a no-sodium salad that will make your taste buds super happy! And good luck with your sodium breakup adventures!Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium VinaigrettePrep timeTotal timeInspired by "Low-So Good" by Jessica Goldman Foung. If you're trying to eat low-sodium, this on-the-fly dressing can be thrown together at a restaurant! (Or at home. Because it's good no matter where you eat it.)Author: Jane MaynardServes: 1 servingIngredients
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lime juice (about 4 lime slices)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Generous pinch black pepper
- In a small bowl or in a small mason jar, add all of the ingredients. Whisk with a fork or shake well.
- Serve over salad!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 12:36 pm 9 Comments
Categories: book club, fab faves, healthy eats, Kitchen Tips, Recipes, side dishes, the goods Tags: american heart association, books, cookbook review, cookbooks, low-sodium eating |
Tuesday, October 25
Hey, guys. I don’t get political here on the ol’ blog. I believe all sides of all issues have valid arguments and, well, this is a food blog and not really the place to hash out those issues and arguments. But you do know that I care deeply about the environment and write about environmental issues all the time. In addition to caring about the environment, I am a firm believer in the idea that every little bit helps and that all of our cumulative small actions lead to big change, hence a focus on my blog over the years on things like cutting paper towels, composting and eating less meat.
In case you weren’t aware, there is an election in two weeks. (Hahahahaha! I am so funny!) I am not publicly backing any candidates or telling you which way you should vote. But I am excited about voting and have gotten more involved on the local level this year than I ever have. I am really excited to turn in my ballot and have loved talking with my kids about the election. I was recently approached by the Clean Air Moms Action to see if I’d be willing to encourage the same excitement among my readers and I was like, YES! And, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, I also want to encourage you to consider clean air, environmental factors and climate change when you vote.
I am not a one-issue voter, but if I was, the environment would be that issue for me. I feel like this election season (and society at large) is like Game of Thrones. In Game of Thrones you have all these warring and competing political factors, all vying for power, all doing anything and everything to get that power. But while that squabbling is happening, “winter is coming,” i.e. literal winter but also those scary glassy-eyed White Walkers that the politicians don’t even believe exist. For me climate change is that proverbial winter. We are concerned with all these other issues while the environment, the one thing that is absolutely crucial to our survival, gets largely ignored. Rising waters are eating away at our coastline (interesting NY Times report here and Wharton podcast here). Drought will not go away. CRAZY WEATHER (no links necessary!). All of it is happening, and yet the presidential debates barely touched the issue, with 82 seconds in the first debate, one question from the audience for the second debate (go Ken Bone!), and two seconds in the third debate, despite the fact that “How will you address climate change?” was the fourth most popular question submitted to the Open Debate Coalition. What the WHAT.
Okay, obviously I have a strong opinion about all of this, so I’m going to cut myself short and just ask you to think about the environment when you vote. I’m not asking you to make it your one issue (although I’d be cool with that! ;)), I just want you to give it some good consideration. The changing climate is impacting food production and so much more. Let’s get ahead of the problem and make some positive changes, starting with our elected representatives and ballot initiatives!
There are tons of great voter guides online, partisan and non-partisan alike, where you can find out where candidates stand on this issue. If you’re a fan of the Sierra Club, you can view their endorsements on this page. Seek out good resources and learn all you can. Vote as if your child’s health depends on it…because it does!
And if you are feeling as pumped up about this issue as I am, go to Clean Air Moms Action and pledge to vote!
We live in an imperfect yet great country and I am grateful for my opportunity to participate in our democracy. Happy Voting! Happy Earth!
This post was produced with support from Clean Air Moms Action.
Friday, October 7
If you’ve been reading my blog for at least the last year then you know that I love making cute birthday cakes for my kids. It’s pretty much the only “supermom” thing I do. I think it’s because my mom made cute cakes for us growing up, so I simply cannot not make fun birthday cakes! Owen recently celebrated his 5th birthday and asked for a monster-themed birthday party. I thought I would shared how I made his cute yet simple monster birthday cake as well as give you a quick outline of the whole party. It was a lot of fun and easy to pull together, so I need to share the love!
- GAMES: We played two classic party games. First, Pin the Eye on the Monster. Owen and I drew the monster on posterboard then I printed out eyeballs for the kids to attach. Click here to download a PDF of the eyeballs. In addition we played Hot Potato with a stuffed monster. The kids LOVED. THE. GAMES.
- FELT MONSTER PUPPETS: For the main activity we made felt monster puppets! I bought felt squares at Joann’s Fabrics. I used a very simple template I created for the monster head (click here to download the template). Cut out two of each color, then hot glue gun the two pieces together, gluing around the entire edge EXCEPT the flat bottom, leaving that open (it’s a puppet, you need a place to stick your hand!). I provided the kids with cut up felt shapes, pipe cleaners, pom poms and googly eyes. The kids assembled their puppets on the floor. As they finished their designs, I carefully carried the puppets into another room. The kids played while my friend and I hot glue gunned everything onto the puppets! If you have more than a few kids, you should definitely have two glue guns and two people gluing so it doesn’t take too long. (Thanks to my friend Marie from Make and Takes for the felt puppet inspiration!)
- FOOD: Monster Cake (see below for instructions), ice cream and water. Easy peasy!
- PRESENTS: We opened the presents while everyone was still at the party. I’ve started doing the coolest thing for the thank you notes. I take a picture of my child with their friend and the gift they gave with my phone. I then use the Postagram app to write up quick thank you notes (I make the kids help – I type the note while they dictate). Postagram automatically mails the postcards, then the friends not only get a thank you note but a picture from the party! It’s really cute and makes you seem like a super put-together parent (even if you’re not!). 😉
- GOODIE BAGS: Simple goodie bags included monster pencils, monster bendables and monster lollipops.
- DECORATIONS: These monster wall decals worked great for decorating. I added a couple of mylar balloons from The Dollar Tree and a few hanging decorations from Party City. Done!
That’s it. Two hours of monster party fun that was cost effective and simple for me to implement, even during a busy work week. Heads up: We made 12 puppets and it took me a couple of hours to prep all the felt for the monster puppets (I worked on that while watching TV one night).
Simple Monster Birthday Cake How-To
And now for the cake. This simple monster birthday cake was one of the easiest cakes I’ve made yet. NO PIPING NECESSARY. Woohoo! Decorating the cake still takes some time (it took me about 2 hours to do all of the decorating; that does not count baking the cake the day before), but this cake design is very simple and definitely doable for all skill levels.
- Step 1: Bake a 9″ x 13″ cake. Level cake if needed, wrap in plastic or parchment paper and freeze until hard.
- Step 2: Place cake top side down on a cutting board. Simply cut two corners off with a curve to the cut, like you see in the photo above. The corners should be on one short end of the rectangle. The resulting cake will look like a gravestone.
- Step 3: Do a crumb coat frosting layer then freeze or refrigerate until hardened.
- Step 4: While the crumb coat is hardening, make the eyes and mouth. I bought white rolled fondant and black rolled fondant (Wilton’s makes fondant, I buy mine at Michael’s or Joann’s). I colored some of the white fondant blue. Click here for a free printable PDF of the eyeball and mouth template. Print one copy of this page. Roll out the white fondant and place the full eyeball template on top. With a sharp knife cut around the circle. Set the large white fondant circle aside. Roll out blue fondant then cut the eyeball template down to the size of the blue circle. Place on the rolled blue fondant, cut the circle and set aside. Repeat process again for the black circle and small white circle. Stack all the circles so they look like the original eyeball template. For the mouth, roll out the black fondant, place the mouth template on top then cut around the edge, forming the oval shape. Next cut just one of the teeth shapes from the mouth template and use that with the white fondant to make six teeth. Place white fondant pieces on the black fondant mouth. Set aside.
- Step 5: Frost the cake with blue icing, using a knife or cake spreader to make icing on the top and sides as smooth as you can. Wash and dry your hands. Using your index finger, make little swirl marks all over the top of the monster so it looks like fur.
- Step 6: Place the eyeball and mouth on the cake like you see in the picture above. You’re done!
I’m super happy with how everything turned out, but in the end finding Owen looking at his cake like this was definitely the best part!
Friday, September 30
Hi friends! It’s Friday Show and Tell time, and today it’s all about watching and listening to good stuff. This should keep you busy over the weekend, when you’re not cheering on Stanford football, that is. 😉
Netflix just keeps on keeping on with the great content. Here are a few things I’m most excited about this week:
- Disney on Netflix! It’s official – Netflix is the only place you can stream Disney movies on a pay TV service, which means they will continue to keep adding great Disney films to Netflix all the time. Zootopia is on there right now (my kids are obsessed) and Robin Hood. (We all had a crush on that sly fox when we were kids, right? Just me?)
- As of today we can finally watch Luke Cage! Luke Cage is the third of the Marvel Defenders series on Netflix and I can’t wait to get watching. We liked Daredevil a lot (although still need to watch Season 2), loved Jessica Jones and anticipate adding Luke to our list of favorite superheroes.
- I’m intrigued by the new documentary Amanda Knox. They say if you liked Making a Murderer then this one is right up your alley (and it’s simply a movie rather than a whole series, which is kind of nice, actually).
- I almost forgot! Have you watched Narcos yet? We blasted through Season 2 in less than a week. SO GOOD.
Just a heads up that I added a bunch of songs to my Kitchen Tunage playlist on Spotify (it’s been a while). Also, I created a new playlist called Happy Music. These are all the songs I made my family listen to in the car on my birthday. They make me car dance like a fool. Enjoy!
I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, which means they send me cool stuff from time to time. For the record, I would be addicted to Netflix in spite of said cool stuff.
Friday, July 29
For this week’s Show and Tell I have two things to share. First, my new car that’s not really my car but I wish it was. Second, NETFLIX. Oh man, Netflix, you are too good these days. Stranger Things has me hooked. But more on that in a moment…
Okay, so the car! We are currently on our annual visit-the-family-all-over-the-northeast trip and Toyota lent us a Highlander for our adventures. I am loving this car and do not mind one bit having to drive it mile after mile after mile. So far my two favorite things (besides the smooth ride) are the fact that the car tells me what the speed limit is at any given time, which is especially helpful on these windy east coast roads with constantly changing speed limits, as well as the remote lock feature. You just have to touch the handle of the car to lock and unlock the car – it is so handy not having to dig my keys out of my purse that literally eats things. Anyway, the Highlander is a sweet ride and works great packing 5 kids in the back for our summer adventuring with the cousins. Big thanks to Toyota for the perfect car for our family vacation!
Okay, so Netflix. People. If you don’t have Netflix yet, get on that. It just gets better and better all the time. Here are a few shows I’m especially loving and/or excited about.
Are you kidding me, this show is AWESOME. It’s fun and well done and the characters rule and the 80s throwback feel is perfection and everything about it is the best. This show is also scary in the best kind of way. I am not surprised that Stephen King loves it as much as I do. (I still have two more episodes to watch, so no spoilers!)
Apparently Beat Bugs, a cartoon for kids featuring Beatles music sung by current artists, is ridiculously adorable and fun, and it comes out next week. Can’t wait to show it to my kids! Fun fact: the creators of Beat Bugs are also going to be releasing a yet-to-be-named Motown-themed show as well. I might even be more excited for Motown than Beatles music. Fun stuff, and excited to have my kids get to know all of this great, classic music.
We have an air date! I repeat, we have an air date! Gilmore girls: A Year in the Life will be available on November 25. That is going to be the best day ever. Thanksgiving leftovers and 6 hours of new Gilmore girls shows to watch. I CAN’T WAIT.
That’s it for today! Happy driving and watching!
I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, which means they send me cool stuff from time to time. For the record, I would be addicted to Netflix in spite of said cool stuff.
Friday, July 1
Happy Friday, friends! It’s been a while since I’ve done a weekly Friday Show & Tell post. There are a few things I really want to share with you, so here we go! Remember, Show & Tell is for the whole class, so if you have anything to share, please do so in the comments! Links, accomplishments, whatever you’ve got!
Thing #1 to Share: This Hair Product Has Changed My Life
This won’t be helpful for everyone, depending on what kind of hair you have, but I still have to share because it really has made my life so much easier. About 9 months ago my friend Luvvie posted about the company Shea Moisture on Facebook. I had never heard of them, so I clicked through to the website and read a bit about their company history and products. Coincidentally a few days later I noticed their product at Target. The Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie caught my eye, so I bought it.
Okay, so here’s the deal. My hair is THICK. And very textured. About half of the strands are super kinky and thick and basically if I want my hair to look good I have to spend time styling it, and I just don’t have that time to spare. My hair is also part-curly, part-wavy, part-totally-uncooperative. It takes forever to blow dry and to flat iron, but letting my hair air dry just doesn’t work. It gets too frizzy and the waves and curls are inconsistent and blerghyblerghblergh. And I’ve tried COUNTLESS anti-frizz, curly hair products over the years that are all okay but not really what I need. And then Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie CHANGED MY LIFE.
I can let my hair air dry! It’s a freaking miracle. I get out of the shower, wrap my hair in a towel for about 5 minutes, let my hair out of the towel and then just evenly spread smoothie on my hair. Then I go about my business and my hair looks awesome. Some days (depending on the humidity) I need to add a bit of water-based pomade to separate the curls a little, but it’s not every day and not a big deal. I LOVE THIS CURL SMOOTHIE IT’S THE BEST THING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD THE END.
Thing #2 to Share: Support MDA by Living Unlimited!
Remember my little friend Lucy? She’s amazing. So is her mom, Cherisse. And her whole family for that matter. The Muscular Dystrophy Association asked if I could help support their #LiveUnlimited campaign this summer and I was ALL IN, ready to support anything even remotely related to Lucy and her family. MDA is a non-profit dedicated to fighting muscle diseases like MD and SMA (SMA is what Lucy has). To help celebrate #LiveUnlimited, MDA sent me the Live Unlimited bracelet made by Endorphin Warrior and let me gift a bracelet to someone else.
My friend Cherisse’s daughter Lucy has been fighting SMA for years and continues to beat the odds. The very fact she can talk is a miracle, and boy does she take advantage of that gift…with all kinds of funny (often saucy) words! When MDA asked me who I wanted to give a #LiveUnlimited bracelet to, Cherisse was the only name that came to mind. You guys, I can’t tell you how amazing she is and how she inspires me to savor each and every day. The talks we’ve had over the years have truly influenced my life and I will be forever grateful to have both Cherisse and Lucy in my life. I had to make a fist for my #LiveUnlimited photo as a tribute to Lucy and her ability to FIGHT! (If you want a peak into the Lunt’s daily life, check out this awesome video. Lucy is seriously the best.)
So how can you get involved? Go buy a bracelet! For every bracelet sold, $6 will go to MDA! You can also go to the Live Unlimited website and make a customized image to show how you are living unlimited this summer to help spread the word!
Thing #3 to Share: HAVE YOU WATCHED BLOODLINE?!?!?
Nate and I recently finished Season 2 of Bloodline on Netflix. Question #1: Have you watched Season 1? Question #2: Have you watched Season 2? If your answer is “No” to either of those questions, remedy the situation STAT. Seriously, the Season 2 finale…holy cow. That’s all I’ll say, but SERIOUSLY. WHOAH.
Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend!
I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, which means they send me cool stuff from time to time. For the record, I would be addicted to Netflix in spite of said cool stuff.
Monday, June 6
Last November my friends Catherine Connors and Tracey Clark invited my daughters and I to go camping in Joshua Tree for Catherine and Tracey’s very first Project Girl Quest adventure. Catherine and Tracey told us to simply bring ourselves and they would take care of the rest. It ended up being an amazing weekend that completely inspired me to give camping another try. You see, Nate and I historically have not been great campers, and, to be honest, I always felt a little guilty that we weren’t giving our kids more camping experiences. After camping with Catherine, however, I was totally ready to give it another go. She’s an expert and I learned a lot from her that weekend. I’ve gathered all of that wisdom and created the ultimate car camping checklist, which I am sharing with you today!
After sending Catherine many texts and pretty much copying everything she and her husband Kyle did, our little family went camping in Joshua Tree for spring break and it was the best! Since it went so well, I feel it is my duty to share with you my checklist, as inspired by Catherine Connors.
Please note: this is all about car camping, friends. You know, your-car-is-10-feet-away-from-your-tent type camping, not backpacking-10-miles-into-the-wilderness-to-find-a-remote-place-to-rough-it camping. I don’t know that we’ll ever attempt that latter type of camping because the car camping is just so perfect with kids. Maybe one day, but not now with littles under foot.
The list is pretty self-explanatory and I imagine I may be the person who uses it the most in the future. If you click on the image of the list above you can download a PDF and use it yourself! I do want to expound on a few of the items that you see on the list, so here we go:
- FOOD. Here’s the deal, Nate and I were the worst when it came to food and camping. NO MORE! We bought a camping stove, which makes all the difference. And with some strategic food planning, we ate very well on our trip. For dinners I picked meals that could either be made ahead and frozen and then simply cooked in a pot (like chili or soup), or I chose items that keep well (like spaghetti, which doesn’t require refrigeration, and hot dogs, which are super easy). We had lots of good snacks, simple lunches, and planned on cooking breakfast (eggs and sausage) just one of the mornings, with oatmeal and cereal for the other mornings. Oh, and freezing a lot of the food ahead of time (including bread and muffins) was super helpful. The food keeps longer and helps keep the cooler, well, cool.
- Instant Canopy: An EZ-Up is critical since most campsites lack permanent shade (especially in the desert!). We kept it anchored over the main picnic table at our campsite.
- Multiple Tents: When we camped with Catherine she had one tent that was dedicated exclusively to supplies. When Nate and I went with our kids, we brought 2 tents and had the kids sleep separately from us, which left lots of space for luggage and supplies in both tents. It’s just so much easier to stay organized and find stuff with that extra space.
- Tent Heater: This isn’t always necessary, but depending on the time of year it may be. We recommend only turning it on as you are going to bed and when you first get up in the morning.
- Extra Tables: If you are staying at an established campsite, there will be at least one table, but it’s so nice to have more. I have two folding tables and we had them both set up.
- Binoculars: We purchased a pair of Celestron 15×70 binoculars, as recommended by Catherine, and they are SO FUN to have, especially at night! Not necessary but definitely a nice-to-have!
- Solar-Powered Twinkle Lights: Yes, these are cute and make your campsite pretty, but they are also very useful. I strung up a strand of these lights around the pop-up canopy over our table, so at night there was always a light source in our campsite. It wasn’t too bright but could help guide the way. I loved having these, plus they come in useful for other things, too (like decorations for my lip sync party here at home last weekend)! Just make sure the solar panel is exposed to the sun during the day.
- Power Bank Charger: I have an external battery charger that can charge things for hours and hours. I bought it for plane rides but it is awesome for camping, too.
- Outdoor mat or artificial turf: Some friends lent us a big piece of artificial turf and another friend lent us an outdoor mat (like for a patio). We placed these at the entrances of our tents and they were SO AWESOME TO HAVE.
- Coffee When Camping: If you are a coffee drinker, there are two suggestions for you. First, instant coffee packets (like Starbucks VIA) totally work. But the second suggestion is just as easy and makes much better coffee: take an Aeropress. Easy cleanup and perfect for camping.
Everything else on the list should be pretty easy to figure out, but let me know if you have questions! And, as always, feel free to share your own tips below in the comments! I am certain there are some awesome car campers reading this who have secrets to share!
Before we go, I have one final tip: Joshua Tree is the best place ever for camping with kids. (Indian Cove Campground and Jumbo Rocks are our favorite campgrounds.) Joshua Tree is truly magical. The granite boulders are incredibly grippy, making it easy to hike and climb. And, with an emergency whistle and walkie talkie in tow, the kids can explore this otherworldly place and feel like true adventurers. My favorite part is that the desert is so DRY, so nothing gets damp or wet! (I am such a mom.) I know this last tip isn’t helpful for everyone, but I just felt like I needed to sing the camping praises of Joshua Tree National Park. If you ever have the chance to camp there, take it!
All photos in this post were taken by my talented friend Nicole Watkins. Thank you for sharing them, Nicole!