Archive for August, 2011

Amy’s Notebook 08.31.11

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

This melted crayon project is so fun and looks instantly gratifying  (@whatever)

These peanut butter and jelly ice box cookies look like a sweet after school treat (@ the kitchn)

I want this pink vanilla bean cake for my birthday now (@ Smells Like Home)

This friendship bracelet kit would make a super sweet birthday gift (@ eighteen25)

This penne with roasted tomatoes and mozzarella is going on my menu planner (@ Confections of a Foodie Bride)

I love this adorable necktie ruffle tee (@ McKell’s Closet)

My son is going to flip for these adorable joke lunchbox notes (@ All for the Boys)

I am madly in love with this Instagallery for displaying your Instagram photos (@ my home sweet home, HT to A Soft Place to Land)

I am in love with this dixie cup garland (@ Hey Gorgeous)

This ruler wreath would make a great teacher gift (@ The Polkadot Chair)

I am going to have to make these homemade mini taco cups for a cute school lunch (@ this lunch rox, HT to $5 Dinners)

An Apron Full of Giveaways 08.30.11

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Handmade Whimzy, $29

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week,  here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we aren’t giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you!

Chicken Parmesan Sliders

Monday, August 29th, 2011

After our success with Italian Turkey Sliders in our house, I decided to give another slider recipe a try on our family. When I happened upon this delicious Chicken Parmesan Slider, I just knew that it would be a winner. A simple chicken patty coated in a panko coating , laced with sesame seeds and Parmesan cheese, smeared with ricotta,  sauced with fresh tomatoes, and a little basil layer on the bottom…well, what is not to love?  I guarantee this is a slider you will want to create in your home too.

I made fast work of these by creating a breading station and then threw them on our griddle that I oiled lightly with olive oil. I could fit eight of these easily on the griddle, making fast and easy work for a quick weeknight meal. These easy sliders can be served with lemon roasted green beans, homemade oven fries, or just a bag of store-bought french fries.

My children enjoyed these minus the ricotta and sauce on the side. These can easily be customized to your own taste and condiment choices. However you top them, these burgers are delicious and fun!


Chicken Parmesan Sliders


2 tablespoons olive oil, plus some for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes
salt and pepper
1/2 cup sweet basil
1 1/2 lbs ground chicken
2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme for chicken
Salt and pepper
1 cup panko
4 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, very finely chopped
Ricotta cheese (optional)
8 slider rolls, such as brioche dinner rollsor 8 ciabatta rolls, split


In a small pot with tight fitting lid heat two tablespoons of olive oil, over medium heat.  Add garlic and stir 2 minutes then add tomatoes and cover pot.  Cook tomatoes, shaking the pot occasionally, until tomatoes burst, 8-10 minutes. Mash up sauce with wooden spoon and season tomatoes with salt and pepper. Thicken, uncovered for 2-3 minutes and turn off heat.

Meanwhile, season chicken with thyme, salt and pepper. In a separate dish, combine panko crumbs with sesame seeds, Parmesan cheese, parsley. Form 8 small patties 3 inches wide and coat in breadcrumbs, gently pressing patties into crumbs to make them stick. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large, shallow non-stick skillet or on a non-stick griddle plan over medium to medium-high heat. Cook patties to golden brown and cooked through, about 3-4  minutes on each side.

Place a spoonful of ricotta on bun bottom. Drizzle cheese with a touch of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Top soft cheese with a basil leaf, then the patties, then some sauce and bun tops.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Recipe Source: Adapted from Rachael Ray Show

First Day of School

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

We survived the first day.

One of us…


Barely. Survived.

I hope you all have a wonderful back-to-school day too!  We wanted to share the pictures of our day with our friends here!



Amy’s Notebook 08.24.11

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

I am dying to make this hydrangea wreath (@ V and Co)

This Asian-inspired noodle salad looks like a fun lunch to eat (@ Picnics in the Park)

I am in love with this cake stand made from vintage records (@ Oh Happy Day)

I want to make these buffet chalkboard labels for our next party (@ Momtastic)

This cable knit pillow looks like a fun knitting project (@ craftastical)

This Italian Chicken Panini Pizza looks like a winner (@ This Week for Dinner)

These lunchbox napkins are adorable and eco-friendly (@ AlphaMom)

I love this tip for using salt shakers for glitter projects (@ ohdeedoh)

Apple cake pops would be a fun back-to-school treat (@ Skip to My Lou)

My son would get a kick out of filling out one of these school day surveys (@ Living Locurto)

These fabric lined trays would make beautiful gifts (@ Centsational Girl)

This 50’s style bow-tie headband would be a cute accessory for fall (@ Momtastic)

These biscoff brownies look divine (@ Bake at 350)

This bbq chicken chopped salad looks like a fun weeknight meal (@ the family kitchen)

I want to try this baked berry oatmeal for my breakfast (@ rather be baking)

Great Reads for Moms: The Summer ’11 Edition

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Now that summer is coming to a close, I can get back to one of my favorite sections of our site and start sharing again our favorite book reviews. I read so many fabulous books this summer and I can’t wait to share a few of those with you.

I vowed I would tackle a million books this summer and would escape to our neighborhood pool with a stack of library books and lots of reading time.

I went to the pool once alone.  With one book. And took this one lame picture with my phone doing it.

Ah, maybe next year?

It was nice to take a break from the reviewing and just read for the pleasure of reading again.  I read a lot of great books and I am looking forward to sharing with you those reviews again this year and can’t wait to hear what you have been enjoying this summer too!

If you are looking for a little inspiration this new year, be sure to check our MomAdvice fan page for a weekly check-in on what everyone is reading each week on our Facebook Fan Page. I hope you will swing by on Fridays and share about the books you are working on or request recommendations with one another. So far it is a huge success and I have gotten a few new ideas for my own stack!

Just as a reminder, I read many more books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks of the month here. If you want to read more, please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! My username is momadvice and I am always happy to connect with people there too! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

If you are looking for a psychological thriller that will have you guessing until the very last page what is happening, then I have the book for you.  This is the best thriller that I have read this year and can hardly believe that it is the author’s first book.

Every single day Christine wakes up not knowing who she is, where she is, and who her husband is.  It is the same scenario every day as she makes her way to the bathroom, where pictures are layered upon the mirror that explain who she is and who her husband is. Each day she must go through the heartbreaking discovery that she has had a terrible accident that has caused her to have permanent amnesia. People she thinks are alive have died.  She can’t remember if she is a mother. She doesn’t know why she doesn’t have any friends. Some days she wakes up and she believes she is in her twenties and cannot even recognize the woman who looks at her in the mirror.

When Christine begins meeting with a doctor, he encourages her to begin journaling each day to help jog her memory of what has been happening in her daily life. As each day opens, Christine opens her journal and begins to read and as she reads, she begins to discover that the life that she is leading might not be all that it seems to be.  As Christine becomes more and more aware of her story and begins to challenge the information that her husband is feeding to her about what has happened, the reader is left wondering if Christine is obsessing about details because she can’t really recall them or if the stories she is hearing are even real?

If you read one thriller this year, let it be this one. I promise you, it is truly amazing and will leave you stunned when you read the final pages.  I can’t wait to read more from this author.

If you liked this book you might like: Room, Still Missing, & Fragile

(MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars)

The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain

There are few authors that deliver consistently good books with amazing plotlines, but Diane Chamberlain is one of those authors for me.

Noelle, Tara, and Emerson have been best friends since college. When Noelle unexpectedly commits suicide, Tara and Emerson are left with trying to figure out the puzzle pieces as to why she would do something like this to herself especially when she loved her job as a midwife so much. Noelle never seemed depressed and it was the last thing that her two best friends would ever expect her to do.

When they discover an unfinished letter written to a woman named Anna apologizing to her, they are left wondering just how well they knew their friend Noelle and have to begin pulling together the clues to the secrets that Noelle had been hiding for so long from everyone that she loved. Everything from Noelle’s past to her career to her true relationship with the other characters in the book comes into play as the women learn more about Noelle’s secrets.  Tara and Emerson discover that Noelle had more secrets than they could ever imagine… secrets that could threaten the very core of their lives and the lives of others.

This book is a fabulous mystery with a great family drama woven throughout and each chapter is told from alternating viewpoints from the women themselves and Tara & Emerson’s daughters, who are dealing with their own emotions surrounding the death of Noelle.

The ending will take you by surprise and I guarantee that this is a book that you will not be able to put down until the final pages.

(MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars)

If you liked this book you might like: These Things Hidden, The Good Daughters, & Fragile

Faith by Jennifer Haigh

Faith is a masterpiece of literature that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. The novel does have a slow build as it shares a bit about the history and the scandal of 2002 when many Boston priests were accused of molestation in the Catholic Church, but the story is worth the plot set up and is a book that you will want to share and discuss with your friends.

Art is the apple of his mother’s eye and is wholly committed to dedicating his life to God from the time he is a child and on. He lovingly serves his church and feels great satisfaction in his work as a priest. When suddenly he is thrust into the spotlight and is accused of molesting a child that he has grown close to through his work in the church, he is devastated as his life is under scrutiny by the media, by other church members, by other priests, and by his family.

While some in his family side with him, others do not. When shocking discoveries are made into his past and the relationship that he has had with the little boy, the reader must examine which side they might be on and see both sides of the coin as his family comes to terms with these accusations. How would you feel if your son, your brother, or the person you trusted in your church was accused of such an act? Could you stand beside them or would you shun them even if they told you they would never do such a thing?

Haigh’s writing is exquisitely rich and the story is told through a fresh set of eyes from the scandal that we witnessed in the media.  Haigh brings in an angle that led me to believe that there truly are two sides to every story.

This book would lend itself well to any book club discussions you might be having and was truly one of the best books that I read this summer!

(MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars)

If you liked this book you might like: Red Hook Road, Every Last One, Let the Great World Spin, & To Kill a Mockingbird

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond

If you are looking for a great love story with a whole bunch of laugh-out-loud humor in it, then head to your library and pick up this gem of a book. In full disclosure, I do not read Ree’s blog regularly, do not have her cookbook, and never read the story of how she met Malboro Man before, but I ate this book up with a spoon. My poor husband found me with a stack of tissues as I read about their courtship and marriage to the love of her life.

A chance encounter at a bar finds Ree out with her friends enjoying a quick drink when she spots a cowboy across the room that takes her breath away. After a brief meeting and weeks of waiting for him to call her, he finally does and so begins their whirlwind courtship. This city girl, born and bred, finds herself head over heels in love with a cowboy and brings into focus what really matters in life. Embracing the simple life of the quiet evenings spent on the porch rather than out about town and fumbling her way through the kitchen, it is so sweet to see how the two of them fall in love with one another. The book chronicles the story of their courtship all the way through their first year of marriage. As Ree learns the ins and outs of the cowboy life, you will have a hard time not laughing as she weaves that self-depreciating humor that has become her signature style!

This tender love story had great elements of humor throughout that made this book a fun and lighthearted read. The book was a bit choppy in the beginning, as the story had been shared through blog entries and did not translate as well into book format, but it evened itself out and offered a sweeping ending that will have you laughing and crying at the same time.

(MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars)

If you liked this book you might like: The Dirty Life, True Colors, & Fireworks over Toccoa

Not enough great reads for you? Check out our Books section of our site for monthly recommendations and ideas for making reading a priority again in your busy mom life!

Disclosure: All of the links above are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate the books quickly and easily. Feel free to order a book, but we encourage utilizing the library system and buying me a latte instead.  Then we both would be really happy and we could have our own little book club together! Wouldn’t that just be so much more lovely? Happy Reading!

What has been in your book stack this month? Feel free to share your book recommendations or feedback on any of the books that have been mentioned above! I love getting new suggestions for my book pile!

An Apron Full of Giveaways 08.23.11

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Ruperts Woolies, $18

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week,  here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we aren’t giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you!

Amy’s Notebook 08.17.11

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

I want to try some of these DIY coffee syrups (@ Annie’s Eats)

This cute little cup of cookies for your teachers would be a great way to start the school year (@ eighteen25)

This laptop bag is absolutely adorable (@ Sew, Mama, Sew!)

A peach blueberry pie sounds like a delicious fruit combination (@ joy the baker)

This strawberry jam vinaigrette looks like a fabulous way to dress up a salad (@ Coconut & Lime)

This ice cream social party is stunning! (@ kara’s party ideas)

My daughter and I would have fun trying this mermaid nail glitter technique (@ cupcakes & cashmere)

I could eat a whole plate of these roast cherry tomatoes (@ make grow gather)

This blueberry dessert bruschetta looks like the perfect way to end a meal (@ Recipe Girl)

This spice rubbed chicken looks like the perfect picnic meal (@ The Way the Cookie Crumbles)

KeyLime Cove Indoor Water Park Family Adventure

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Our family was invited on a trip to review and share our experience with you on the KeyLime Cove Water Park in Gurnee, Illinois. To say that my children were more than thrilled about this trip opportunity would be an understatement. Although this may surprise you, we have never taken a family vacation before. I travel so often with my own work that my husband uses his vacation time for my work travel and our family travel has been pushed off because of this. Although Gurnee is just a few hours from our home, we could not have been more excited to experience the water park for ourselves and share it with you!

KeyLime Cove Water Park is situated in the town of Gurnee, IL and is just three short blocks away from Six Flags Great America.  We had fun not only exploring the water park, but also had the opportunity to explore the restaurants in town and get to see all of the cool things that Gurnee offered.  TripAdvisor named Gurnee one of the  Top Ten Vacation Destinations in 2009 and we could definitely see why. With outlet malls, an amusement park, a water park, and great restaurants… it would definitely be a town we would like to visit again and again.

The rooms had a tropical feel to them and we were in a Queen Deluxe Stateroom that offered two queen beds, a sofa bed, a refrigerator, a dining table for two, and a flat screen television.  The room was spacious and had plenty of room for the four of us. The hotel can house parties up to twelve, by giving everyone adjoining rooms that connect and each room can hold two to eight guests.

The refrigerator in the room was a fabulous way for our family to bring our favorite breakfast foods, lunch foods, and snacks and have them on hand to keep our extra spending down. Thanks to the dining table and couch, we even had a place to enjoy all of our food in the cozy seating area.  Since we saved so much on our dinners we were able to enjoy dining in the resort in the evenings, as well as checking out other fun restaurants in town through the help of my Yelp app on my phone.

More pictures of their accommodations can be seen here.

There is truly something for everyone in the KeyLime Cove water park area.  My children are 5 & 9 years-old and they both had an incredible time at the water park and with over 65,000 square feet of water park space, it is no surprise that we had no cries of boredom that day.

Younger children have their own separate area with small slides and shallow depth for the toddlers in your family. Children that are a little bit older can enjoy splashing in a larger water park structure complete with oodles of slides, from small to large with slides that could accommodate children both large and small.

For the older and braver kids (and adults), the Hurricane Vortex boasts a 44-foot drop and makes you feel like you are spinning in a top. Wahoo & Screamin’ Banshee are two other fun slides that you can ride on with inner tubes and have 40-foot drops and they loop through the exterior of the building. For the really brave, two enclosed body slides are also available.

My 9 year old just made the height requirement for the Hurricane Vortex which was 48″ tall.  Thanks to his recent growth spurt, he was able to do every single one of these slides and he truly loved them. He even did the body slides on the last day. When my husband told me that he was moving really slowly through the body slides, a lifeguard offered a tip and said that his rash guard shirt that he was wearing could have been slowing him down. Once he removed his little shirt, he was a human cannon ball and shot through the slides at lightning speed. Luckily, his mother was sitting on the lazy river and had no idea what was occurring up there.

Being of the old and not brave variety, I did try the Hurricane Vortex, the Wahoo, & the Screamin’ Banshee which was quite impressive for me.  Our entire family also enjoyed hanging out in the Washout Wavepool, where the water is meant to simulate the ocean and you can lounge around in beach chairs or on an inner tube to enjoy the waves.  Ride the waves into the Keylime Creek  and you can loop all through the water park and coast along in your inner tube on the lazy river and enjoy every moment of being lazy for a change. Both the wave pool and the creek can be enjoyed with children of all ages. Parents can double up on one inner tube with their smaller children or laze around solo holding on to the handles of your child’s tube.

Regardless of what age your child is, lifeguards were present in a big way there and were vigilant about watching children in the play area and also reminding them of safety when exiting the slides and keeping everyone safe when going down the slides. I witnessed one child who could not find his mom & dad, and a lifeguard was there in three minutes flat to take care of him. A first aid station is located within the facility and life-jackets are available for smaller children to make sure that they are safe.

Just as impressive as the water park itself, the Leapin’ Lizards kid’s activity center was my kid’s favorite hangout and where they wanted to spend all of their downtime. They had everything from a bean bag toss game, to checkers, to oodles of art supplies, and toys for the kids to play with. My daughter spent hours coloring princess pictures and my son & I enjoyed a few rounds of checkers between water sliding.

The most impressive part were the activities that were available to the kids each day. A dry erase board outside of the activity center listed that days activities and would include things like my making a foam hand for hi-five day to celebrating birthdays for that particular month to Mario Kart Wii racing in the evening.

My son talked the employee’s ears off about video gaming and no one ever seemed anything, but interested in what he had to say. He had a blast in the Mario Wii Kart competition which yielded him coins to spend at the RipTide Arcade while my daughter submitted endless coloring sheets for the coloring contests and came home with jewels from their prize boxes. A dance party was held in the evening and Emily got the party started with the employees which made us so proud that all of our Just Dance Wii game practice has been paying off.

Of course, my son’s favorite part was the RipTide Reef Arcade with over 8,000 square feet of gaming fun. My husband kept remarking how impressed he was with the game selection as well as how up-to-date the games were that were offered.  The boys spent some money at the arcade,  which led to tickets,  which led to spider rings, which led to tears because only brother got a spider ring, which led to more games, which led to a purple jelly bracelet for someone else, which led to happiness. In all seriousness, there were so many great family-friendly games to choose from and the boys had a blast playing in here in the evening.

With our first family vacation under our belt, we now feel like we can do anything. When we asked the kids if they would like to spend a day at Six Flags… they regretfully… declined.

No, they wanted to spend the last day on the water slides. Playing in the activity center. Eating the food at the resort. Playing in the arcade.

I think that should speak for itself on how much fun we had together and how thankful we were for the opportunity to explore this resort.

I have a very, very good feeling that we will be back soon!

Our family received a free stay at this hotel in exchange for our thoughts and opinions on the water park and its services. All opinions expressed are our own and we received no additional compensation.

An Apron Full of Giveaways 08.16.11

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011
Foodphyte, $24.95

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week,  here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we aren’t giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you!