5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline

We’re thankful for summer and sharing a great way to get outdoors with an outdoor movie night idea brought to you thanks to our partnership with Hershey’s via MomTrends.  

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline

Summertime always comes and immediately the one thing that runs through my head as a work from home mom is: how in the world am I going to take care of the kids all day AND get work done?

But this summer I’m approaching things differently. I’m not resenting the fact that our school cancelled their summer program right after all of the local museum classes filled up, or the fact that I don’t have a backup child care set in place because I didn’t think about it in February when apparently everyone else did. I’m going to make the best of our summers together and really strive to be thankful for summer.

At the end of the day, summer is the only real time I have to fully enjoy my kids until they move out of the house. That means 10 summers left with my oldest, 12 with my middle, and 17 with my youngest. Those are going to go by FAST!

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline with siblings

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer

1. More Time With The Kids – 

While having the kids home all summer will be hard to balance my work/life workload, having more time with the kids is always a good thing and something to be thankful for. Even though I still have to work, I can take an afternoon or morning off each week to really spend one on one time with the kids. Plus we have some help from family so they can have fun adventures with Grandma, their great aunts, or their cousins throughout the summer too. 

2. Later Bedtime – 

Because we don’t have to wake up early, I can choose to spend more time with the kids at night (watching movies outside!) or catch up on work after bed time. The kids love having the freedom of no bedtime and actually get to bed by 9pm when this happens so they’re not up too late. And everyone is in a better mood when we go to bed and get up when our bodies tell us to. 

3. No Alarm Clock – 

Ok, confession: I don’t use an alarm clock. But I do have to wake up at 6:30am every day during the school year to make sure the kids get out the door and to school on time. Because we don’t have to actually get up and go somewhere (if we choose not to), we can sleep in. AND? We can have pajama days. Lots and lots of pajama days! 

4. Warm Weather – 

I love that we get to enjoy all summer together when the weather is nice. Sure there’s a few weeks where it’s unbearably hot. But living here in San Diego means that we can take full advantage of the beaches, pools, and other outdoor (and some indoor) areas to keep cool. I fully plan on taking advantage of our location this year and have quite a few beach days planned for us. Even if that means I have to get my keyboard a little sandy while I work and they play. 

5.  Fun Adventures – 

With the warmer weather and lack of an actual place we have to be, we can have fun adventures this summer (and every summer) that we wouldn’t have had the freedom to do during the school year. As I mentioned previously, we’ll take full advantage of our location. But I’m also planning at least one road trip and a few staycations to enjoy ourselves this year. I’m also hoping to schedule at least one activity outside the home a week. That way I’m not too stressed about too many activities but we still get to do fun things. 

So far here are some of my ideas for summer fun adventures: hikes, beach/pool days, zoo trip, free days at museums, movies in the middle of the day, trip to the water park, trip to the mountains, gardening club, city clean up days, trip to the aquarium

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline and making homemade ice cream5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline with homemade popcorn

One of our fun adventures this summer will be getting outdoors and enjoying movie night on our trampoline. And it’s SUPER simple! 

Outdoor Movie Night On A Trampoline

  1. Grab a white sheet plus a pile of blankets and pillows.
  2. Hang the white sheet over one side of the net on your trampoline and clamp down with clamps (I just use the clamps I use for my photo backdrops here).
  3. Set out the blankets and pillows so everyone is comfy. 
  4. Make some fun snacks with the kids like this delicious homemade chocolate ice cream in a bag with Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup or popcorn in a bag.
  5. Grab a projector and start playing the movie! 

 

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline with blankets and pillows

What #Simply5 words describe a sweet memory that’s made your day special? 

Sometimes, even the process of enjoying the little things in life – like movie night – becomes complicated. It shouldn’t require a year-long commitment or tons of planning.

In honor of the sweet and simple ingredients in Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup and the sweet and simple memories that it inspires, we want people to share the sweetness in everyday moments. Take a moment to “stop and smell the chocolate” and share your #Simply5 – a five word recount of what makes your day sweet.

Post your #Simply5 on social media by sharing a five word recap of what makes your day special! 

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline with Hershey's Simply 5

Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup is a sweet and simple take on original Hershey’s Syrup, now made with five simple ingredients. You can find more recipes and fun things to do with Hershey’s by visiting them on Facebook or following along on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Compensation was provided by Hershey’s via MomTrends.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Hershey’s or Momtrends.

Homemade Microwavable Popcorn in a Bag

Homemade Microwavable Ranch Popcorn in a Bag

 Summertime is near. And that means a lot of outdoor time. This summer I plan on bringing a lot of things outdoors – including our weekly movie night -so that we can fully take advantage of the amazing weather and comfortable SoCal evenings. How do I do it? Well, we turn the trampoline into a theater and throw a sheet over the net! It’s a blast for the kids and adults. 

And what does every movie night need? Popcorn! 

We don’t always have microwavable popcorn on hand ready to go but we do always have a good supply of popcorn kernels. My husband prefers to make his on the stovetop. But for me? I like to use this shortcut and let the kids make homemade microwaveable popcorn in a bag. Plus I have an awesome tip to kick it up a notch! You only need 4 ingredients (plus a paper bag)! 

Homemade Microwavable Popcorn in a Bag for movie night

Pro Tip: Add seasoning, like ranch or dried herbs, to add a little kick to your popcorn.

Homemade Microwavable Ranch Popcorn in a Bag ingredients

Homemade Microwavable Popcorn In A Bag

  • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon ranch dip mix (depending on preference)

Add all ingredients together in a bowl and stir to combine and coat the kernels with oil and seasoning.

Put coated kernels in a paper bag and seal well at the top by folding over twice, then folding the top into a triangle (see photo below).

Microwave on high for about 2 minutes or until there are about 2-3 seconds between kernels popping.

Remove carefully from microwave (bag will be hot!), shake up a bit, then pour popcorn into a bowl to share.

Homemade Microwavable Ranch Popcorn in a Bag pour seasoned kernels in bag

Homemade Microwavable Ranch Popcorn in a Bag ready to enjoy

What’s your favorite movie treat?

Easy Snack Ideas plus Green Juice Recipes

This shop featuring green juice recipes has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FreshOnTheGo #CollectiveBias

Easy Snack Ideas plus Green Juice Recipes

Do you ever have a day where you are just starving? Didn’t have time to grab a snack because the baby has been sleeping on you all day and opening or making anything would wake her up? Or you’re running around doing errands with the kids in tow and didn’t have time to individually bag their favorite snacks before you left and need something quick because they’re whining and complaining about the fact that you’re starving them?

Many a day I find myself getting to the afternoon and realizing I hadn’t even had breakfast. And I wondered why I was so irritable and moody by the time I picked up the kids. So I’m changing things up. Prepping meals, having snacks on hand, and making sure I take the time to enjoy snacks and meals even when I’m busy. Working from home means that I have to fit things in. Schedule them. So I’ve started to schedule snack and meal times too.

Easy Snack Ideas plus Green Juice Recipes and Ready SnaxEasy Snack Ideas with Ready Pac ready Snax

Easy Snack Ideas

I love snacks. Especially ones I don’t have to prep. With limited time, as I mentioned, I need easy. When I was at Costco I saw these awesome Ready Snax filled with some of mine and my kids favorite snacks already packaged together. Carrots, grapes, cheese, and pretzels. All awesome snacks I normally spend time preparing in baggies individually only to have 1/2 wasted or forgotten somewhere. And, lets face it, I’m eating their snacks too so I want something I enjoy.

Now I can grab a few Ready Snax and everyone’s happy. At least until lunchtime. 

The kids both love the green juice I prep ahead since I mask the kale and spinach taste with apples and cucumber. Even I wouldn’t like just kale or spinach juice. The fresh juice is much better than the sodas and processed juices I could buy for them elsewhere. I simply juice everything in the juicer on Sunday and put in a large pitcher in the fridge to use throughout the week. It lasts 2-3 days and is a great way to get veggies into me and my kids in addition to our snacks. Plus, they know what they are drinking. I don’t really hide anything. 

Easy Snack Ideas - pretzels, cheese, carrots, and grapesEasy Snack Ideas - Easy Green Juice Recipes

Green Juice Recipes

Basic Green Juice

  • 2 handfuls spinach, rinsed and dried
  • 2 handfuls kale, rinsed and dried
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 green apples
  • 1 lemon, peeled

Add all ingredients to your juicer alternating the greens with the fruit and cucumber.  Enjoy as is or chill in the fridge! If storing, make sure to shake well before drinking.

Alternatives

In addition to green apples and/or cucumbers you can add pineapple, mint, pears, ginger root, other types of apples, etc. The awesome thing about green juices is the variety in what you can create! There are many benefits to juicing.

Easy Snack Ideas plus Green Juice Recipes with spinach and kale

Ready Pac Ready Snax at Costco

As I mentioned before, you can find Ready Pac Ready Snax at Costco. I found mine in the refridgerated section on an end cap with the pre-packaged salads.

Great After Workout Snacks - Carrot Tangerine Juice Recipe

Looking to go beyond the green juices? Try this delicious carrot tangerine juice or green monster juice as well!

What do you grab from the fridge at snacktime?

Making Snacktime Fun with Butterfly Crackers

This shop featuring Butterfly Crackers and after school snack ideas has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PutItOnARitz #CollectiveBias

Making Snacktime Fun with Butterfly Crackers

When I pick up my kids from school the one thing on their minds as we head home is, “What’s for snack?” All of the learning and activities they did between lunch and the end of their school day has left them starving and it’s up to me to help satiate their hunger.

Finding snacks they both like can be difficult but when I put a little effort into it I can usually please both of them. All it takes is 5 minutes and a little scrounging in the fridge and pantry to create a fun and simple snack for them to enjoy while they work on homework or play a game. [Read more…]

Quick and Easy Snacks On The Go

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Jif To Go Dippers. I received a sample to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating.

Quick and Easy Snacks On The Go - portable snacks are a must for busy moms!

We are officially in the middle of the busy season – holidays, school events, life in general. And sometimes that means we don’t have time to stop for snacks. So I need to stock up on quick and easy snacks on the go for me and the kids to enjoy while we’re out and about.

Luckily we just found one that all of us can agree has quickly become a family favorite over the past few weeks. JIF To-Go Dippers! are a new portable snack that combine the deliciousness of peanut butter and pretzels or chocolate silk and pretzels.

I’m having a hard time figuring out if these are a portable snack or a portable dessert!  [Read more…]

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Granola Bar Recipe

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Pistachio Health Institute. pistachio granola bar recipe

I absolutely love finding great, healthy snacks that both of the kids and I love. Over the past few months, the kids have expressed an interest in pistachios. Mainly because they see their grandpa eat them but also because they love how fun they are to eat!

Since I’m always up for a challenge when it comes to food, I love that it takes SO long to enjoy an entire serving of pistachios. That means that I get to slowly enjoy my snack instead of rushing through eating it. And the kids love trying to open each one themselves making it a game to them.

When I choose snacks I try to choose ones that’ll keep me feeling full and satisfied. Pistachios are a good source of fiber, providing 12 percent of the daily value per 30-gram serving. And besides the health benefits, eating fiber may help you feel full longer and makes it easier to follow a healthy eating plan. Go pistachios!

pistachio granola bar recipe pistachios

Healthy snacks are great for a healthy lifestyle. They can help make us feel good and taste great as well. And? You get more nuts per serving with pistachios than any other nut out there. If you reduce your serving to 30 pistachios, you have a great 100 calorie snack ready for you to enjoy.

Below are a few great tips from Celebrity Trainer Valerie Waters as she helps us focus on smart snacking:

pistachios shine like the stars large

Since my kids already love pistachios I thought I’d take their love one step further and make some delicious dark chocolate pistachio granola bars for them as an after school treat. Something they could make with me after they got home and enjoy after naptime (because you better believe I still enforce naptime here!).

I took a few ingredients we had in the cupboard, chopped up a handful of pistachios, and made some delicious granola bars that are sure to be a hit when they wake up!

pistachio granola bar recipe ingredients

5 from 7 votes
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Dark Chocolate Pistachio Granola Bar Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Chex rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup sweetened granola
  • 1/4 cup pistachios shelled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries unsweetened
  • 1/8 cup coconut unsweetened
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup almond butter unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon honey or raw agave more or less to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the rice cereal, oats, granola, pistachios, chocolate, dried cranberries, coconut, and salt.
  2. In a small bowl mix together almond milk, chia seeds and almond butter. Stir until almond butter is dissolved into almond milk.
  3. Add almond mixture to dry ingredients and mix everything together until a dough forms.
  4. Press the dough into a wax paper lined 8 x 8 inch dish or a bar pan. Place the dish into the freezer and let set for about 20 minutes, or until hardened. Cut dough into bars. Wrap the bars individually and store in the freezer or fridge.

 

pistachio granola bar recipe bar pan

pistachio granola bar recipe cut out

What are your go-to healthy habits for 2014?

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Pistachio Health Institute.

5 Crowd Pleasing Super Bowl Party Recipes #SB47

Super Bowl Party Recipes

With the big day getting closer we’re starting to prepare our Super Bowl Party menu including a few favorites from game days past. Below you’ll find a variety of super bowl party recipes that are proven crowd pleasers!

From appetizers, to crock pot meals, to main courses, we have just about everything you need to host the perfect super bowl party. So invite the friends over, pull out your football field table runner and football coasters and serve up some delicious dishes.

[Read more…]

Recycled Portable Snack Container {How-To}

With a love of coffee and creamer comes a surplus of creamer bottles left over once I’ve had a few morning cups. So taking a spin on recycling a bit further, I removed the wrapper over one of my creamer bottles and cleaned it out very well after it was empty.

What resulted was simple recycled portable snack container. And it’s perfect for little hands!

Here’s how to make a Recycled Portable Snack Container: 

1. Grab an empty creamer container.

2. Rinse and wash thouroughly.

3. Remove outer plastic from bottle.

4. Fill up with your child’s favorite small snack.

5. Enjoy a snack on the go!

Not only does it fit perfectly in my daughter’s stroller, it also pours out just a few snacks at a time reducing waste and messes. Each time we go out for a run my daughter reaches for her portable snack container so she can enjoy her snack on the go!

What does your child love to snack on? 

Healthy Ranch Yogurt Dip {Snack Recipe}

Yogurt Ranch Dip

My family is absolutely obsessed with ranch dressing. If the kids have veggies, they want to dip them in ranch. So I’ve tried to change up the way we make ranch and have ditched the sour cream!

Now sour cream isn’t bad. I love the stuff. But by swapping out sour cream with greek yogurt I not only am cutting calories but I’m increasing protein! All in all I’m very excited about the swap and the kids can’t seem to tell the difference.

And Greek yogurt can be subbed for more than just sour cream. I also swap it out for mayo in some recipes.

Yogurt Ranch Dip ingredients

Ranch Yogurt Dip
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons ranch mix (see below for ranch mix)

Mix ingredients together until well combined. Let sit in the fridge overnight. Serve with your favorite veggies or chips.

 
Ranch Dip Mix
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

Combine ingredients and store in an air-tight container for up to 3 months. Feel free to double or triple and use as needed.

Keeping Kids Healthy with Great Snack Options {Back to School Special}

Keeping Kids Healthy with Great Snack Options

Now that the kids are going back to school and the craziness of summer is coming to an end, it’s time to start talking healthy snack options!

One of my main concerns with my kids is the fact that they want to snack all.day.long. So I’ve tried my best to offer a variety of foods to not only keep them open minded about what they eat, but also keep them aware of the colors they eat and trying to make sure they get to every color of the rainbow!

If they’re going to snack, they’re going to snack the right way.  [Read more…]



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