I am so excited that summer is finally upon us and with the summer months ahead, family vacations are on the horizon. In honor of this season of travel, I wanted to share some fun tips for traveling with kids to help prepare you for this fun time. Those hours to and from your destinations don’t need to be painful ones though thanks to these great ideas we have gathered up for you for your next trip!
My favorite drink in the summertime is iced coffee, but I don’t love the price tag that comes with the iced coffees from our coffee shops. Thankfully, I discovered how to cold brew my coffee and make the perfect iced coffee at home. This month on my site I am showing you how I cold brewed my coffee and today we tackle how to make the perfect iced coffee just for you by adding your own favorite flavor combinations.
* This post is sponsored by Wild Oats. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
When warmer temperatures strike, my coffee routines switch up a bit. In my house, I try to keep a pitcher of cold brewed coffee in the refrigerator to take with me for my afternoon pick-me-up at the pool. Have you tried the cold brew method before? It couldn’t be easier (or more affordable). Today I’m partnering up with Wild Oats Organic to show you just how easy it is to create a batch of cold brewed coffee for all of your summertime coffee needs!
What is Cold Brewed Coffee?
Cold brew or cold press coffee refers to the process of steeping coffee grounds in room temperature or cold water for an extended period. Once you strain the coffee grounds, you are left with a coffee concentrate that you can then mix with water or milk and add in flavors or sweeteners (if desired) to create your own perfect cup of coffee. Although fancy coffee systems can be bought to make this, I have found that my French Press works great or you can have no equipment at all and mix it up in a pitcher or container for your week as I am showing you today.
It’s easy and affordable to make your cold brew coffee at home, but what about the flavor? Cold brewed coffee naturally seems sweeter due to its lower acidity. Because the coffee beans in cold-press coffee never come into contact with heated water, the process of leaching flavor from the beans produces a different chemical profile from conventional brewing methods. There is also high levels of caffeine in a cup of cold brewed coffee compared to hot brewed coffee.
More caffeine means it’s far superior to hot coffee too because now you can do ALL THE THINGS.
I consider this my summertime superpower.
As you can see in my picture tutorial this is the easiest method and you can make as big or as small of a batch as you need. While coarsely ground coffee is ideal, I tend to make things easy on myself and just purchase the coffee that is already ground and have had great results with it. I find that cheesecloth over my mesh strainer helps to keep the grounds out and yields that perfectly smooth cup of coffee that I am after.
To compliment today’s article, this month I will be over on the Wild Oats blog sharing a variety of fun flavor combinations you can create with your cold brew coffee!
Save a fortune this summer and learn to make iced coffee at home the cold-brewed way!
4½ ounces ground coffee (about 1¾ cups)
3½ cups cold water
Wild Oats Cinnamon (for dusting)
Place the coffee grounds in a 2-quart pitcher, add the water, and stir to combine. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let steep at room temperature for at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.
Line a fine-mesh strainer with a standard coffee filter and fit it over a medium bowl. Working in batches, slowly pour the coffee into the filter until all of the liquid has passed through the strainer. You do not want to rush the process and stop when you reach the solids at the bottom of the pitcher (don’t pour them in). Discard the grounds and the contents of the strainer.
Transfer the strained coffee into a clean pitcher.
Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 5 days.
For each cup of iced coffee, dilute the concentrate with an equal portion of milk, half-and-half, or water. Sweeten with simple syrup if desired and top with ice. Finish with a dusting of cinnamon.
Don’t forget to finish your coffee treat with a little Wild Oats Cinnamon for the perfect finishing touch! Do you cold brew coffee? What are your tried and true methods for a great iced coffee? I’d love to hear them!
* This post is sponsored by Wild Oats. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
Happy Mother’s Day to all my favorite mama readers out there. I hope you are having a fantastic day today! I have such a special interview for you today as I got the chance to spend some time with Molly Ringwald last weekend. Yup, THE Molly Ringwald! Molly served as the keynote speaker at Mom 2.0 this year on behalf of Dove and they asked if I would like to spend some time interviewing her for my site. I am, of course, a huge fan of her movies, but did you know that she is also a very accomplished writer? Well, she is, and I got the chance to interview her about Dove and they asked if I would like to spend some time interviewing her for my site. I am, of course, a huge fan of her movies, but did you know that she is also a very accomplished writer? Well, she is, and I got the chance to interview her about When It Happens to You and what she has in store for us next.
Tales of love, loss, and betrayal are at the heart of When It Happens to You. A Hollywood icon, Ringwald brings the compelling candour she displayed in her film roles to the unforgettable characters she has created in this series of intertwined and linked stories about the particular challenges, joys and disappointments of adult relationships. Her characters grapple with infertility and infidelity, fame and familial discord in this fantastic debut novel.
I started this beautiful book this week and am absolutely enjoying it and plan to spend this rainy day with it today. Short story books are not something I typically gravitate towards, but if you are looking for one to try, I really recommend this one as a great launching pad into short story format. Although each chapter is a story, the stories are intertwined in some way that the reader can discover as she reads from chapter to chapter, building upon the initial themes in the previous chapters.
One thing I hear a lot from moms is their struggles to dive into books because their time is so limited that they struggle with finishing books. Short stories are a magnificent way to get in your reading time and feel accomplished. As Molly states in this interview, it is also a great way to trick your brain into writing a novel. By approaching it in a short story format, she was able to break up the writing in a way that felt more manageable as a busy mom.
For those that have asked, Molly was as warm and personable as a girl could hope. She was complimentary and went way over my allotted interview time talking about great authors. I wish I could have chatted with her all day about writing and great books. She also wasn’t just chatting about herself, her genuine enthusiasm for other writers and her own writing was contagious.
You decided to segue from acting into writing. Is this something you have always wanted to do?
I have always been interested in writing, it’s always been something I have done in my spare time and then it was just something I decided to put out there professionally once I turned forty. I think when you are younger, or at least when I was younger, I always felt like I had to focus on one thing and I think that multi-hyphenates were not really honored in the same way and celebrated as much. I felt like, in a way, that no one would take me seriously as a writer when I was younger, but then you get older and you don’t care as much about what other people think.
Were you surprised by how well your books were received?
When tackling When It Happens to You, why did you decide to write in short story format? Is it because you like the smaller story explorations?
I have always just loved short stories and I was a really a big fan of Raymond Carver’s short story collections, although he is certainly more minimalist and starker than I am..and maybe a little more depressing. I think, really, it was just a format that I understood since most of the fiction that I had done was short. I think that may have been because I was busy doing a lot of other stuff too. Also for me, it was tricking my brain into writing a novel because, as it says, it’s really a novel in stories. And it really is. They all resonate off of each other and it is all structured in that way. I just think writing a novel was a little too daunting for me so this was a way to kind of do that through short stories. That said, they are pretty long stories and the only really truly short story in there is the title story.
Are you thinking about adapting this one into film?
Yes, I have been thinking about it. I’m still thinking about it, but I’d also really like to write another book too.
If you could tell anyone to read one book right now (other than your own) what would that book be?
Molly: Yes, that probably would be true. Light Years by James Salter. Yeah..I think that might be it.
Panio: I mean, when you finished it, you immediately started to reread it.
Molly: It’s true.
Okay, if you are rereading it then it has to be a favorite. If you reread, you know that it is special!
It’s just one of those books that I keep picking up again and again. There is not a lot of fiction that I read while writing because I don’t want to be overly influenced. His writing is somebody, of course I write differently, but I just feel like he is a master. I also love, and we were recently talking about Desperate Charactersby Paula Fox is a really wonderful book and Jonathan Franzen wrote the forward on it!
A huge thank you to Dove for the incredible opportunity to interview Molly about her stories as well as their sponsorship for me to attend Mom 2.0 this year. It was an experience that I will never forget. Dove is encouraging everyone to share their #BeautyStory and shared this beautiful story of 4 generations of women in one family that all share the same beauty secret in this beautifully shot campaign. Do you have a beauty story to share? Head to the
Dove is encouraging everyone to share their #BeautyStory and shared this beautiful story of 4 generations of women in one family that all share the same beauty secret in this beautifully shot campaign. Do you have a beauty story to share? Head to the Dove Beauty Bar and share your secrets! Thank you, Dove!!
This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.
The winter has been a long one in Indiana so as soon as the warmer temperatures start creeping in, you will find us spending our evenings outdoors on our patio every night. The outdoor space that we started with has evolved over the years and has become one of my favorite places in our home. As part of the BHG Live Better Network, I am partnering with them this month to showcase how we do our entertaining outdoors and today I am sharing how we make the most of our outdoor table.
Our original patio, using street paver bricks, is still one of our most-pinned items on the site, but thanks to a weedy and unlevel backyard, we wanted to replace it with a stamped concrete patio and firepit that we could use for our outdoor entertaining needs without the maintenance. Since our kitchen has hardwood floors and we knocked a wall out to create a huge patio door outside, overlooking the backyard, we wanted to create an extension of that space. Thus, the idea to stamp these as wood was born! These stamped wood planks even have little nail holes and grooves in them.
Last summer, I invested in 20 BHG melamine dinner plates (a mere $2.48 per plate!!) that we could use when entertaining outdoors and it has been, by far, one of the best entertainment investments I have ever made. Thanks to the built-in storage behind the door in our little shed, we have the perfect spot to house these when we are entertaining outside.
I picked three different patterns since the store offers these for individual purchase to create a more eclectic tablescape. These plates are beautiful and look like pretty china patterns while being sturdier than a paper plate, but more lightweight for carrying to and from your outdoor table. You can mix and match to your heart’s delight and create your own unique dinner table.
Of course, after dinner is when we are really looking to entertain our kids and guests so I wanted to find a way that we could make the most of our table. After a fun night out with friends and seeing my husband giddy from playing ping pong for an evening, I knew I had to find a way to make a ping pong table part of our lives. With a small home though, we had nowhere to put one so I started researching ones that could be placed on the tabletop and found a table tennis conversion top with the same dimensions as our beloved ping pong table dreams.
This table is two hinged pieces that fold up for storage. These are heavy pieces (each piece weighs about 50 pounds) so it is definitely a two person set-up. If you are worried about scratching your outdoor table, consider using a sheet or blanket to protect before placing the tabletop on top. A BHG wire basket acts as the perfect storage for ping pong balls and paddles for easy grabbing when we want to set up for the evening.
Our whole family has so enjoyed these effortless outdoor dinners and the hours of fun afterward playing ping pong. Windy days certainly force you to up your game and help increase that skill level! Consider making the most of that outdoor table enjoying family meals and then game time together all in one spot!
As a mom, it makes me happy to see my kids outside and playing together. As we move into the teen mode (hard to believe) and tween mode (hard to believe), it becomes increasingly challenging to find things we love to do together that don’t involve screens. A view like this out my kitchen window is a real treat.
It’s not just for the kids though. My husband and I had wine last night on the patio and then played ping pong until midnight together. It is just as much for us as it is for them.
Want to make the most of your outdoor table too? Enter below to win one $100 Walmart Gift Card from BHG at Walmart to make the most of your outdoor living space. One lucky winner will receive this lovely gift card! This giveaway ends on May 15th and you must be a US resident and at least 18-years-old! Good luck, everyone!
In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.
*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
Ladies, it is almost OUR DAY and in honor of all the hard working mamas out there, I am so excited to be partnering up with Shoe Carnival for this Mother’s Day to show off some delightfully fashionable & comfortable shoes you can find for yourself at their fantastic store. Not only am I sharing about my own finds, but I am also giving FOUR lucky moms a $50 gift card to treat themselves this Mother’s Day to some new shoes too!
It is (WITH PLEASURE) that I get to act as your tour guide into some of my favorite options I found at my store!
To say that I am obsessed with shoes would be an understatement. Although I have learned to whittle my wardrobe down to a manageable amount, my shoe collection continues to grow and, I humbly admit, that will never change. To put it simply, a good pair of shoes make the outfit. With a small wardrobe, a good pair of shoes adds a plethora of new possibilities with my wardrobe.
What has changed for me though is that my feet are no longer happy in shoes that don’t offer loads of comfort and support. As a busy mom, I’m on my feet all day and I embrace that I need more supportive shoes than I did in my twenties Thankfully, shoes with loads of support can still be highly fashionable and here are a few of the beautiful pairs I found while browsing their store.
The New Balance Classic 574’s have been on my wish list this year especially after seeing the world’s most fashionable city girls sporting them around town on Pinterest. These shoes are definitely both stylish and comfortable. The best part about styling these New Balance Classics is that they can be dressed up with leggings and a great shirt or you can dress them down in rolled skinnies and a t-shirt. For ladies with a wider foot, I highly recommend these for the ultimate girl-about-town sneaker.
If you are looking for a modern take on the New Balance, I fell in love with these New Balance WX711 fitness-trainers and I have a feeling they are going to be my new favorite workout shoe thanks to their ultra soft and responsive cushioning that is made for all day comfort. The shoes are so lightweight that I can’t wait to give these a test run at my local gym especially when doing kicks and lunges in my total body conditioning class.
Birkenstocks have always felt unfeminine to me so they have never been a go-to shoe even when they have been trendy. I do love the trend for comfort though so I was very excited to find these affordable Unr8ed Lydia Sandals, both for their floral femininity and their trendy footbed style. How cute are those?
As we prepare to head to Italy for our anniversary in just a couple of short weeks, I have been on the hunt for the perfect shoes that would look great with jeans or with dresses. I stumbled upon these Clarks Wendy Estate shoes and fell in love. I wore them on a trip last week and it felt as though I was wearing the world’s comfiest slipper even when I had been running through the airport and navigating those long hallways to my hotel room. Not only is the shoe cushioned, but it also has supportive cushioning around the heel and Velcro adjustable straps that help ensure you have the perfect fit and no sore feet at the end of the day. A tiny heel helps these feel more dressy while still embracing the comfort that our family has always loved from the Clarks brand.
Who wants to go shopping now? Mother’s Day is all about treating yourself and I am so excited to be sharing a giveaway with you to treat yourself to a comfy AND stylish pair of shoes.
Not only did I love the good deals I found at the store, but I am a big fan of great rewards programs and Shoe Carnival offers both. When visiting your store, don’t forget to sign up for the Shoe Perks Rewards Program. You earn a point for every dollar you spend, receive a $10 Shoe Perks reward certificate for every 200 points earned, and get 50 points just for joining! Since I brought four pairs of shoes home to help be your tour guide (oh, the AGONY!), I am well on my way with points on my card for my next visit! Not only did I take advantage of some great sales, but I also look forward to the future coupon rewards I will receive by joining the club.
Today I am giving away a $50 gift card to FOUR lucky mamas to treat yourself this Mother’s Day to a shopping day at Shoe Carnival . Follow the instructions below in our Rafflecopter widget to enter. Good luck and Happy Mother’s Day!
Graduation season is here and that means being prepared with lots of great gifts for the amazing grads in our life. It probably goes without saying that one of the most useful gifts to a poor college student is money. Of course, giving just money can sometimes feel less personal than I would like. So, I crafted up some adorable money book page posies that you can create out of a few supplies you probably already have on hand, to make one beautiful posy or a bouquet for the graduate in your life.
I created this adorable, “What’s blooming? BOOK MONEY!” gift tag that you can attach to one of these simple paper flowers! How adorable is that?
*This post is sponsored by Wild Oats. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
I am so excited to be joining in as a contributor with Wild Oats this year and to get the opportunity to share with you about this company as an affordable organic offering at Walmart stores. I will be sharing ideas each month over on their blog as well as sharing a monthly offering here showcasing a fresh dish that you can create in your own kitchen that is delicious and gluten-free! Be sure to check out my first post on their blog sharing my delicious Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders recipe that is my new favorite salad topper.
I am sure everyone has a bucket list of things they would love to learn to create in their kitchen. Hummus has been one of those things that I usually buy pre-packaged that I have always thought to myself, “I bet you could make that…and cheaper too!” Inspired by the Wild Oats Chickpeas on my store shelves, I knew that this was a sign that I should attempt this dish in my kitchen.
Making homemade hummus is so ridiculously easy that I am embarrassed it took me years to finally attempt this in my kitchen. Hummus can be made in a variety of flavors, but one of the flavors I love the most is the garlic hummus. To take this pantry staple to another level though, I roasted it in my oven with a little olive oil to create a deeper, richer flavor. Once the garlic is roasted, it is just a matter of whirling these chickpeas in your food processor along with spices, tahini, lemon juice, and a little water until you get the consistency you are after.
Where the heck is tahini in the grocery aisle? Good question (says the girl who visited many aisles where tahini was not). It is typically in the international foods aisles of stores or can be found at international markets, but can also be found in weird and random places like next to the olives in you standard grocery store. Really, ask your grocer if you aren’t sure and don’t let a little thing like I don’t know how to say tahini or I don’t know what tahini looks like stop you from making this amazing dish. The best part is how long tahini lasts in your fridge so you can buy this and enjoy hummus all summer long. And you will. Because once you try this recipe, you will realize that homemade hummus really IS the best hummus to eat and you will be stockpiling those cans of chickpeas so you can enjoy this easy appetizer anytime you get the craving for it. Amen.
Once you try homemade hummus, you will never go back. Make this easy dish with canned chickpeas from Wild Oats.
1 large head garlic
2½ Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 (15 oz) can Wild Oats chickpeas, drained
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp tahini
½ tsp salt, or to taste
¼ tsp ground cumin
2 - 3 Tbsp water
Chopped fresh parsley and red pepper flakes, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut about ¼-inch from top of garlic to expose tops of cloves for roasting.
Place garlic head on a sheet of foil and drizzle 1½ tsp olive oil evenly over top of garlic. Wrap foil up around garlic and roast 35 - 45 minutes until golden brown on a cookie sheet. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
To your food processor add chick peas, lemon juice, tahini, salt and cumin then pulse mixture 2 minutes. Scrape down sides and bottom of food processor, add remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, set aside 3 - 4 cloves of the garlic and add remaining (about 10 - 11) to food processor. Pulse 1 minute, then add water and pulse 1-2 minutes longer.
Plate hummus, make indentation in center and add 1 - 2 Tbsp more olive oil to taste (optional), then chop remaining roasted garlic cloves and sprinkle over top, sprinkle with parsley and red pepper flakes.
Serve with fresh veggies or gluten-free crackers. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.
One of the quickest ways to update a room is to spruce up a lamp in your home and today I wanted to show you some easy and affordable ways to transform a lampshade from Goodwill. I love these ideas so much, in fact, that I have plans to add a new lamp or two to our space now for Spring! I hope you will be as inspired as I am by these bloggers and their incredible lampshade makeovers. This post fits so perfectly with our Love Your Home m challenge because it is one small way you can really personalize a room with your own DIY touch.
Looking for a fresh new idea for topping those summer salads? Today I am sharing an easy recipe for Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders that you can even make-ahead and freeze for your busy week over at the Wild Oats blog!
I’m so excited to be joining as a contributor at the Wild Oats blog this year to share fresh & fun dishes for busy families. I’m not sure if you have heard of the product line before, but it is the new organic line available at your local Walmart store. I agreed to the partnership because I know that organic food is important to many of you, but I also understand how difficult it can be to eat organic on a budget. It is the two things that our family struggles with too. When Wild Oats presented at a meeting that I attended for Walmart, their enthusiasm for their products and the pride they took in them was, frankly, contagious. When they reached out to me, I knew it would be a great partnership to encourage healthy eating. I also think you will be pleased with the price point on these products when you browse the grocery aisles and I want to show you ways to use these affordable pantry staples in a new way you might not have thought of before!
I will be sharing an idea on their blog once a month and one idea on my blog! I hope you will love these recipe creations as much as I do. The bonus is that each of these dishes will also be gluten-free! Yay!