Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Best Sleepover Guide For Girls

find it here on Amazon
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure here.

The Best Sleepover Guide For Girls

Plan the sleepover of your dreams! The only thing more exciting than a sleepover is planning one! Filled with awesome slumber party ideas for girls, this book guides party hosts from planning to clean up. Inside, you'll find tons of ideas for crafts, activities, yummy foods and snacks to help you with your totally unique and super fun sleepover. This book includes examples of themed sleepover invitations, 3 detailed DIY craft projects and a big list of games and how to play them. You’ll even find the most amazing pancake recipe to make for breakfast the next day!
Whether you want to have a simple pajama party or go all-out with a theme party, this guide has all you need to plan the epic party you and your friends will never forget!

* * *

As a mother of 4 kids (2 being pre-teen girls) sleepovers have become a big deal in our house! My girls spend countless hours thinking up sleepover ideas like crafts, activities and games or movies to do with their friends.

We have hosted many sleepovers at our house with their friends and the girls have attended many sleepovers at their friends' houses. These sleepovers were the inspiration for me to write this ebook so that you and your kids can come up with some great ideas to do at your own sleepover parties.

When my girls first started hosting/attending sleepovers I enjoyed telling them about the sleepovers I had when I was a kids. They love to hear stories like this! Now it is their turn and they love planning and throwing a good party!

The Best Sleepover Guide For Girls is chocked full of ideas from activities and games, crafts and even food/snacks for a sleepover. Also included are three detailed craft projects that your daughter can do with their friends. Oh, and don't forget about breakfast the next day - the ebook even has the Ultimate Pancake Recipe included at the end. This book will help your daughter get ready for her first or 100th sleepover by inspiring new ideas to make this an epic party!

For a limited time I'm running a promotion for this ebook for the Kindle from May 18 - May 22, 2017. Get your FREE copy of this book on Kindle during this five day free download period.

If you don't mind please leave a review for the ebook so others can find it on Amazon too!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How to Make Lasting Memories With Your Children and Grandchildren

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure here.

Recently my grandmother passed away at the age of 95. She lived a long full life, raising 7 kids in the suburbs of Detroit. She is survived by 17 grandchildren and 22 (and counting) great grandchildren! Wow, that is a lot of family and I'm so glad I get to be a part of it.

Reflecting back on the years of memories with my grandmother has reminded me how intentional she was with each of her grandkids. After 7 kids I think she became an expert in making every moment count even with very simple activities or gestures.

As a parent I hope that the small and big things I do with my kids are all part of the great memories they will cherish as they grow up. Some of my most embarassing moments witnessed by my kids will probably be memories they will have forever (and never let me live down!).

Kids seem to remember our most embarasing moments like it happened yesterday! Know what I mean? So of course one of my favorite memories of my grandma is when she had something embarassing happen to her while spending some time with my sisters and me.

We convinced my grandma to go out on the lake we lived on in a small paddle boat. We wanted to show her how good we were at navigating our little boat and show off the places where we loved to fish. My two sisters and I let grandma sit in the back of the paddle boat while two of us paddled out to the drop off and the big weed beds so we could look for fish. It was a partly cloudy day, great for spotting fish in the water below. We were all leaning out over the water watching for fish. Suddenly we heard a small splash, followed by a angy explitive from grandma! Knowing my grandpa was on the shore a short distance away watching my grandma very quietly told us her glasses just fell into the water and sunk to the bottom. Not wanting to alarm grandpa (or even let him know this had happened) she asked that we make a few passes over the spot where they fell hoping to spot them.

We all felt bad for grandma but knew that this was her problem and she would deal with it all on her own (a.k.a don't tell grandpa). When we arrived back on shore and grandpa asked how the boat ride went, my grandma, with a big smile and sparkling eyes complimented my sisters and I on our excellent paddle boating skills and told how much fun it was to spend time with her granddaughters. We instantly forgot about the glasses basking in the compliments.

Over the years memories of time spent together, cards, gifts and advice have been made leaving me with a full list of memories of my grandma. My grandma loved to read action and mystery novels (Clive Cussler, Mary Higgins Clark were two of our favorite authors) and she and I would swap books whenever we came to visit her. Our enjoyment of this book genre was something we had in common that none of her other grandkids shared. I think each one of us (all 17) can attest that each shared something special like this with her.

So how do you go about creating these types of long lasting memories with your kids or grandkids? Spending time with them is the first step but if you are too far to see each other you might have to get creative.

With the advancement of technology there are so many ways to stay in touch - email, Facebook, Skype, Face Time, ect. Don't underestimate the power of technology - use it to your advantage.

Here is a list of five ways you can begin to create lasting memories with your children and /or grandchildren:

1. Scrapbooking 

Creating a collage of pictures of you and your children/grandchildren with their help is a great way to make a memory together. Reminising over pictures is a great way to talk about past adventures or memories all while creating one with them.

2. Pen Pals

Make a simple cardboard mailbox and put it somewhere in the house where you and your children can write letters to each other and put them in the mailbox. Get ready for some super special artwork, letters and notes from your precious children!

If you are a grandparent and don't live close to your grandkids why not become pen pals. Even if you do live close (maybe down the block) getting a letter in the mail from someone special is a treasure to be kept for a long time.

3. Spontaneous Activities

Think trip to the park, fishing, pick-up game of ball or even going to a game together. The fun part is that it is unplanned and anything goes. As kids get older the activities can change to fit their interests. Remember though this is memory making - NOT time for you to be on your cell phone!

4. Make Meals Together

Time spent in the kitchen preparing a meal together is therapeutic and a great way to make memories. I hope my kids remember the first time they made an omelet, cake from scratch or their own mini pizza with homemade dough. If you aren't handy in the kitchen find a simple recipe to try together. Mess-ups = memories!!

5. Start Traditions

One of my favorite memories as a kid are the traditions my parents did with us every year. Most of them revolved around holidays like carving pumpkins, dying eggs for Easter or decorating the Christmas tree together. Even though we did the same activity every year there were always great memories being made. If you don't have some traditions in your family why not start some new ones with your kids or grandkids.

We make homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning breakfast every year. My kids love helping with this and every year we talk about our memories of past preparations - like somone knocking over the flour or the year the rolls were left to rise so long that the oozed out of the pan!

Making memories with your kids and grandkids is so special! These memories will last a lifetime and be cherished when you are gone. Be creative and start making memories with those who are special to you today!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Ultimate Pancake Recipe

toppings and mix-ins too!

This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure here.

If a food is related to cake it must be good, right? I think that is why I love pancakes so much. They can be "dressed-up" with toppings or just eaten plain (with maybe a drizzle of maple syrup). I've done so much experimenting with pancakes over the years and I think I have finally found the Ultimate Pancake Recipe that I'd love to share with you. Are you ready? Fire up your griddles and get ready to flip!

Ultimate Pancake Recipe

2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons melted butter

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until slightly lumpy (don't over stir). 

Pre-heat the griddle to medium high heat. Drop a pat of butter into the skillet and once melted spoon 1/4 cup of pancake batter onto the hot griddle. When bubbles appear on the surface of the pancakes, flip them over to brown the other side. A minute or two should do it. Repeat the process for the remaining batter - don't forget to melt more butter in the skillet between batches. 

Pancake Mix-Ins:

Want to take your pancakes to the next level? Try adding some mix-ins to the pancake batter. Here are some great ideas to really dress up those plain pancakes.

1. Chocolate Chips

Sprinkle mini-chocolate chips onto the pancakes after you spoon the batter into the griddle. Yummy!

2. Banana + Walnuts

Slice a banana into think slices and put the slices onto the pancake after you pour the batter into the griddle. Sprinkle some chopped walnuts over the bananas - instant banana bread pancakes.

3. Peanut Butter Pancakes

After you flip the pancakes in the griddle smear a little peanut butter of the top side that is cooked. The peanut butter will begin to melt into a perfect pancake topping as the underside of the pancake finishes cooking.

4. Blueberries

Frozen or fresh - it doesn't matter! Sprinkle blueberries onto the pancake after pouring a spoonful of batter into the griddle. If you use frozen you may have to let the pancake cook for a few seconds more than if you use raw.

5. Oatmeal + Raisins

Add 1/4 cup of instant oatmeal to the pancake batter then after you spoon some batter onto the griddle sprinkle a few raisins over the pancake. The oatmeal gives the pancake a new texture and the raisins become sweeter when cooked.

6. Apples + Cinnamon

Slice an apple into think chunks (skin on or off - your preference) and then sprinkle an additional 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon over the apples. After you spoon the pancakes into the hot griddle add a small spoonful of the apple/cinnamon mix.

7. Dried Cranberries + Flax Seed

The combination of the sweet from the cranberries and nutty flavor of the flax seed is a great compliment when sprinkled onto a pancake that has just been spooned into a hot griddle. The flax seed also gives the pancake a little crunch which is a great treat in the morning.

8. Strawberries + Pecans

Slice a few strawberries thinly and chop up some pecans into small pieces. After spooning the pancakes into the griddle add the strawberries and pecans to the pancake. Maple syrup drizzled over the top is a perfect compliment to this concoction.

9. Bacon

Use cooked and crumbled bacon and sprinkle it generously over the pancake as the first side of the pancake fries in the hot griddle. Butter + Bacon + Pancake = DELICIOUS!!

10. Butterscotch Chips

Same idea as the chocolate chips but use butterscotch chips instead. This mix in is so good with the buttery flavor of the pancake!

Alright, there you have it - the ultimate pancake recipe + 10 mix-ins to make your pancakes out of this world good!

Are there any special toppings you enjoy or mix-ins you and your family love? Share them by leaving a comment!


Thursday, April 27, 2017

10 Healthy Game Day Snacks for Kids

provide healthy snacks for your child and teammates
read about it here.

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure here.

Spring marks the kick-off to many spring sports like baseball, tee-ball, soccer, track and many other great outdoor (and indoor) activities.

Our two boys are both starting their spring baseball leagues and at least once or twice will be asked to bring a snack to share with their teammates.

When it comes to game day snacks for the kids I'm a little concerned about the message conveyed to a child athlete who just participated in an athletic event/game when sugary drinks and sugary snacks are passed out. Seems kind of backwards to me!

I get that a little treat now and then is ok but come on let's not take all that hard work and exercise and wash it down with sugar and other unhealthy ingredients!

Look around - it is no surprise that kids all over our great country are struggling with obesity -even young athletes. Seems like a great time to reinforce healthy eating is by encouraging it through healthy snacking as a team. Why not tap into the power of peer pressure and encourage the team to snack together on healthy foods.

Sugary sports drinks, or "adult kook-aid", as I call it, gets pushed so hard onto our young athletes. Look at the convenient "kid size" bottles it comes in - just making it so easy for a parent to grab and pass out to the team after a game. Have you read the label? Yikes! This stuff is horrible. From my little bit of research into these drinks they are useful for athletes who have been participating in a high intensity sport for more than 90 minutes.

Even the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that these sports drinks which are high in carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes and artificial flavorings can contribute to childhood obesity and tooth decay.

So as a parent what kind of snacks and drinks can we send with our kids to share with their teammates on game day? Well here is a quick list of ten healthy snacks and drinks you can encourage your child's teammates to eat after the big game

1. An apple with peanut butter or almond butter
source: joyfulhealthyeats

If you are in a hurry you could slice up the apples, pop them into ziploc bags and pair them with a small single peanut butter packet to go (Jiff To Go). To keep the apples from browning splash a bit of orange juice on them before zipping the bag closed.

2. Trail Mix

source: love bake read

If you have never made your own trail mix and are looking for a great recipe Love.Bake.Read has a simple and healthy recipe that is sure to please a crowd. If you are in a hurry it is easy to find single pack trail mixes in bulk from Costco or through Amazon.

3. Larabar

The Larabar is a real food option if you need to but a snack for the team. It is somewhat high in sugar but it isn't the processed sugar you would find in other snacks. The sugar is a natural food based sugar.

4. Breakfast Cookies

source: spend with pennies

I know these delicious snacks are called "breakfast" cookies but really they can be eaten anytime for a healthy energy boosting snack or for a post workout/game snack. This recipe I found is super simple, healthy and downright delicious!! You can find the recipe here.

5. String Cheese + Crackers

Now here is a snack that you can easily find in bulk - Goldfish Crackers & String Cheese. Healthy and tastes great - a win for both you and your little athlete.

6. Applesauce

I just love the little plastic to-go cups you can pick up in bulk or the squeezable pouches. This is a great way to promote a healthy snack post game time all while keeping it simple for a busy parent to grab on the way to the game.

7. Turkey Cheese Roll-Ups

source: healthysnacksforwork

This is a great snack to make ahead, pop into the fridge and grab before the game starts. Stacking the easy to grab roll-ups in a tupperware container and then passing them around to the team after the game is a great way to provide a healthy snack to the team.

8. Chocolate Milk

Who doesn't love chocolate milk? Young athletes need milk especially post workout so why not add a little chocolate to up the "cool" factor to this healthy snack. Shelf stable milk doesn't even need to be refriderated however a nice cold milk always tastes good after working out!

9. Fruit Kabobs

Source: happy home fairy
Here is a make-ahead team snack you can whip up in no time and store in the fridge until game day. The mix of fruit and color makes them look so yummy any child athlete will be tempted to gobble them up.

10. Citrus Infused Water

source: lifesanity
Mix up a big jug of this citrus infused water to share with the team! It might seem a little strange to some of the kids but one sip and they might change their minds. Some teams have those big water dispensers with paper cups for the team to use during the game. Why not add some flavor (and good healthy benefits too) to the water for the team to share. Water is the best thing you can give your child to drink before, during and after the game but it doesn't have to be plain old boring water - add some flavor and see what happens.

I hope these ideas have provided you with some inspiration as you get ready to cheer on your kids and share a healthy snack with the team. You might want to pack a few extra for siblings and friends who might be curious about these healthy (and yummy) snacks!

Maybe you have some great healthy snack ideas - yes, please share with the rest of us!! Leave a comment and tell me about it.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

DIY Mini Greenhouse Tutorial

great spring activity to do with kids!

This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure here.

Every spring my kids and I have enjoyed planting and watching our seeds grown in our homemade mini-greenhouses

Throughout the winter they collect seeds from some of the food we eat, like cantaloupe, pumpkins, apples and beans, and try to grow plants from them. We also make it a point to get some packets of seeds from the store just in case the ones we have on hand don't work.

We live in Michigan so the last day for frost can be hard to determine! In an effort to grow seeds but not let them die from a late frost we came up with a mini greenhouse to help protect the baby seeds. 

DIY Mini-Greenhouse For Kids

Here are the materials you will need:

I had the kids fill up each of the egg carton sections with potting soil then they poked their finger into the middle of the dirt to create a little hole. They sprinkled a seed or two into the hole then covered the seed with dirt and spritzed the soil with water. Make sure you don't flood the dirt/seedling.

After the seeds are planted in the egg cartons, fill the disposable tin pan with about 1 inch of water. Place the egg cartons in the tin pans and then put the clear plastic lid on.

You now have your very own mini-greenhouse!

I usually set our mini-greenhouses outside during the afternoon so the sun can warm it up and get those little seeds to germinate.

If there is a chance of frost I just bring the mini-greenhouses inside to stay warm at night.

Windy day? no problem - put a large rock on top of the plastic lid so that it doesn't blow off - you could even put a large rubber band around the entire pan + lid.

You don't need to open up the mini-green house very often since the water that evaporates will just accumulate on the lid and then fall back into the soil to keep it moist.

Once the plants are big enough and the risk of frost is not longer a problem you can start planting your seedlings into a garden or pots.

Since you used cardboard egg cartons that have been soaking inside your mini-greenhouse the cardboard by this time will be soggy and easy to tear. No need to throw away the egg carton or pull your plants out of the egg carton - they are biodegradable! Yeah!

Instead just tear apart each of the egg cups that contain the soil and seedling and plant it right into your garden.

Happy Earth Day everyone - now get out and start planting!!

** Looking for more inspiring nature projects to do with your kids?  Check out this great arts & crafts ebook on Amazon:

Click to purchase here

Included in this e-book are ten nature inspired craft projects that use simple supplies easily found around your house.  Step by step instructions and a picture of the final project are included to help you create something special.  All of the crafts in this book were inspired by nature, classical literature and the characters found within these classical books.  As you read books like The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables or maybe Alice in Wonderland and do the crafts in this e-book the stories are sure to become more memorable and truly come alive!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday Prayer

Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to die on the cross and bear the burden for our sins. Thank you that He rose from the grave and conquered death. And thank you that through Him alone we are able to come to you washed clean by His blood. 

I pray that all would put their trust in Jesus who offers everyone this free gift - the gift of salvation.We all fall short, we all have sinned and we all need to be saved from eternal separation from God. 

Thank you that every Easter we are reminded of this wonderful gift and that the sting of death is gone forever for those who have put their trust in Jesus. 


Happy Easter Everyone!

Friday, April 14, 2017

5 Easter Ham Recipes


This post contains affiliate links. To see my disclosure policy click here

Easter is just around the corner and one of the most popular main dishes to serve is ham. I know this because my husband, who works for a large food service supplier and distributor told me so - oh and he is in charge of ordering (replenishment) this item(s) for the company. Ham gives him a headache this time of year!

We are hosting a big Easter dinner at our house and of course I will be serving ham! I've made ham before - you know the spiral sliced, glazed ham you get at the store? They are super easy and some even come with their own packet of glaze you just add water, boil on the stove and pour over the ham during the last 15-30 minutes of baking. Easy right?

Well this time I'd like to mix it up a little and try a new baked ham recipe. I've been scouring cookbooks and pinterest for some inspiration and here are some ideas I've come up with:

5 Easter Ham Recipes

Source: wonkywonderful

Pineapple Honey Glazed Ham

This is a simple recipe for a glaze that you spread on the ham during the last 20 minutes of baking. I love that it is easy and uses ingredients you already have on hand. And doesn't it just look so YUMMY!

Source: carlsbadcravings

Apple Cider Maple Glazed Ham

Real maple syrup is the secret of this recipe. This recipe suggests brushing the glaze over the ham before you start baking it, wrap it tightly in foil and then bake until the ham reaches the internal temp of 110 degrees F. Just before it is done baking uncover the ham brush another layer of glaze on and crank up the heat so that the glaze caramelizes in the higher temp. Looks amazing! 

Crockpot Brown Sugar and Pineapple Ham

I love using my crockpot - especially when I am preparing a big meal for a dinner party. Not only does it free up space in my oven for other things to cook but it makes for some juicy, flavorful ham! After 6 hours in the crockpot this ham is ready to be served. 

Old Fashioned Ham With Brown Sugar & Mustard Glaze

It doesn't get any more traditional than this for a holiday ham recipe. The combination of honey, mustard, brown sugar and apple cider create a delicious glaze. Just like your mom used to prepare ham right? 

Coca-Cola Glazed Ham With Brown Sugar & Dijon

This recipe is for a bone-in ham NOT spiral sliced ham. Using this for a spiral sliced ham will result in dried out ham and a ruined dinner! But it is an amazing way to prepare a bone-in whole ham. I've make Coke roasts before and they were wonderful so I'm sure using it for a ham glaze will give the same results. 

Next thing to think about is what to do with the leftovers (if there are any)! Don't throw away the ham bone - it makes such a wonderful base for broth that you can use in soups like split pea or bean soup. I even freeze the bone and pull it out later to cook for a few hours just because the broth is so dang good! 

Got any good ham leftover recipes to share? I'd love to hear from you - please leave a comment with your ideas. 

happy holidays,