Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mardi Gras Cooking Giveaway with Char Crust Dry Rub and NielsenMasseyVanilla!

Are you ready for Mardi Gras?
To help me capture some authentic New Orleans flavor in my admittedly Midwestern kitchen, my friends at Char Crust and Nielsen-Massey vanilla sent me a few products and recipe ideas, and I can't wait to share them with you! On the menu? Cajun flavored chicken tenders with jambalaya rice on the side and vanilla beignet bites with vanilla-lemon raspberry jam for dessert! 

Plus, read to the end to enter to win some Char Crust Amazing' Cajun Seasoning and some Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract!

What you need
Boneless skinless chicken breast
Char Crust Amazin Cajun dry rub
Flour, sugar, salt, & other pantry basics
Jambalaya rice mix (I used a store brand)

What you do
  • A few hours before you plan to eat, make the dough for beignet bites and let it rise
  • A half hour before you'd like to eat, start the jambalaya rice mix and start heating the oil for the beignet bites
  • Then, start making Amazin Cajun chicken strips using this recipe.
  • Once the chicken is in the oven, cut and cook your beignet bites. I found it worked better for me to fry them at a slightly lower temperature than recommended by the recipe-between 325 and 350 rather than at 375.
  • Let jambalaya and chicken rest for 10 minutes after removing from heat but before serving. Finish beignets at this time if you are not already done.

My family loved this meal. My husband devoured the chicken and my son devoured the beignets. I *may* have devoured both. The Char Crust really does keep the chicken moist and adds tons of spicy delicious flavor, and the wonderful gourmet vanilla from Nielsen-Massey really made the beignet bites shine. 

Win it

One lucky winner will win some Amazing Cajun dry rub from Char Crust and some bourbon vanilla from Nielsen-Massey! To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you to Char Crust and Nielsen-Massey for sending me sample products to review and providing prizes to the winner of this giveaway!

Friday, February 21, 2014

7 Quick Takes Feb 21, 2014

--- 1 ---
Did you hear about the fun Lego building event at Barnes & Noble stores on March 1st? It's at 1pm and is free and open to kids from 4-7, but you have to register in person or over the phone in advance to reserve your spot! There are rumors of free Legos for attendees, so I think it's worth signing up if you're free that afternoon and your local store is participating!

I remember doing Lego building events at the mall as a kid with my brothers and thinking it was really fun and and exciting. I hope my son loves it as much as my brothers and I did!

--- 2 ---
I was just checking Bloglovin' to read some blogs I love if they've posted since I last checked and discovered I didn't set my blog up as mine on ther! Oops! All taken care of now though I think! Follow my blog with Bloglovin

--- 3 ---
Next week I have two giveaways being posted including my first ever video review, so be sure to check  back in! One is for a great building set and the other is for ingredients for a delicious Mardi Gras meal. So much fun!

--- 4 ---
Have you seen the new CW show Star Crossed? I had high hopes, as a sci-fi fan, and so far I'm on board. The basic premise? Humanoid aliens seek refuge on Earth, but of course the stupid earthlings think its an invasion and genocide like half of them and force the rest to live in a gated area called "the sector". Now (which is like 2024 if I was doing math properly and paying attention well) 7 alien teenagers are being allowed to go to high school alongside the humans as a sort of social experiment.  The staging of the school scene was very reminiscent of the integration of schools in America in the 60's, which I thought was an interesting choice. I think we are going to see a lot of potentially though-provoking discussion of what it means to be human in the course of this show. 
Anyway, so it's the CW, so all the high school students are actually like my age (mid twenties) and good looking, and the stars are a human girl and an Atrian boy who met on "landing day" when they were little kids but hadn't seen each other since. It'll probably be a typical CW romance, fraught with triangles and indecision, but you never know. Maybe the CW will think outside the box a little. 
We can hope. 

--- 5 ---
Boy #2 has started walking around holding on to furniture! Today he went probably 5 or so feet from a chair to an air filtration device to the window sill!!! 
--- 6 ---
The weather is finally improving so we are getting to actually play outside most days and Boy #1 and I started sprouting some seed inside. We have 34 radish sprouts now that we have to figure out a plan for though!!

--- 7 ---
Boy #1 is also continuing to improve his writing skills and today we got some new workbooks that I love. They are from Kumon and start by having the child trace shapes (like vertical lines and horizontal lines) and then trace letter made of those shapes. It seems like such a logical way to teach it that it makes me wonder why that's not the method used in every workbook! Anyway I definitely recommend them to anyone looking for alphabet tracing books to use with preschoolers, and I'm excited to try some of their other workbooks with my son too!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Some links may be affiliate links. I received no compensation for this post. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Homemade Playdough Recipe

On Thursdays I'll repost old posts that I think are worth sharing again, many from my old blog Maman A Droit. I may make a few changes to them, primarily fixing errors and updating links. I hope you enjoy them as much this time around! I originally posted this in May of 2010.

My mom recently found the play-dough recipe she made when we were kids. It's made of all edible ingredients, so it's safe to eat, but it's so salty, your kids probably won't be tempted to try it more than once (and yes, I know this because I ate it myself as a kid-I still remember the saltiness!)

What You Need
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cup salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp cream of tartar
  • Food coloring or unsweetened Kool-Aid powder as desired (it'll be sorta off-white if you don't dye it. Yellow was my personal favorite playdough color as a kid!)
What You Do
  • Mix all ingredients in a large saucepan, then cook over medium heat until it's thick (hard to stir) and comes away from the edges of the pan.
  • Remove from pan and let cool on wax paper or parchment paper
  • Knead a few times with your hands.

We always stored it in a large ziplock bag until it eventually dried out.

2014 Update
I've made this playdough many times in the last four years, and I discovered that herbal tea is also a good dye for playdough if you want color from a more natural source that food coloring or kool-aid! The colors tend to be very muted, but pretty. To do this, soak teabags in three cups of hot water until it is well saturated. Allow the water to cool, then use it in the playdough just as you would plain water.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wear them Wednesday Feb 19, 2014

On Wednesdays I blog about a wrap, sling, or other baby carrier I've tried and loved, one I hope to try someday, and one way to wear a wrap, sling, or other carrier. In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm sharing my favorite romantic wraps all month, from hearts to florals. This week, I'm going upscale with my favorite romantic wraps from higher end wrap companies

One I love
Pavo hearts! My amazing mama actually bought Pavo hearts in three colors so that my brothers (who both have pregnant wives) and I can all three wrap our babies in matching wraps. It's kind of like when we were little and each got a different color of the same yo-yo at Christmas, except way better, because Pavos!!!
I get to break them all in so they are ready for my new nephews or niece and nephew (we know at least one is a boy), but the khaki one is destined to stay mine. 
Pavo "Bashful Hearts" is part of Pavo's Form line and is all-cotton in khaki and white. I love the graphic hearts and the great color contrast. 
Please excuse my wet hair. This picture shows the color of the wrap so well I decided it was worth using anyway!

Right side:

Wrong side:

One I want
For Valentine's Day last week, Artipoppe release this amazing pink wrap and I totally love it and wish I could snuggle my baby in it. It's called Inachis the Mistress, and it's 48% ecru Egyptian cotton and 52% gorgeous hot pink cashmere. 

picture from Artipoppe Facebook page

One way to wear it
Robin's hip carry is a stylish and reasonably easy way to tie a woven wrap. It was the first hip carry I mastered! Babywearing Faith of course has an awesome video showing you how to do it successfully:


Friday, February 14, 2014

Easy Felt Holiday Cookies

For Valentine's Day this year I made my sons and niece some felt sugar cookies. They were so easy and turned out so cute that I wanted to share my technique with you so you can make some for your little ones too on future holidays (I think we will make some shamrocks next, and then maybe some Easter eggs!). 

What you need
Cream felt
Colorful felt
Cream embroidery floss
2-3 bright or pastel colors embroidery floss
Polyester fiber-fill, all-natural stuffing, or tiny scraps of felt
Cookie cutters, or computer & printer

What you do
First, pick a shape! You could print a shape off of a website online-look for a simple outline clipart type shape if you do-but the easiest thing for me is to use an actual cookie cutter! I used a heart for these.

Next, choose your felt. I think a nice creamy off-white looks great as the sugar cookie, and I chose pink, red, and purple for my frosting on my heart cookies. 

On the cream felt, trace around the outside of your cookie cutter with a water soluble marker or a yellow washable marker if you do not have a water soluble marker and then cut two for each cookie you want to make. If you are using a shape printed off on computer paper, pin it to your felt and cut around the outside of the shape, making sure not to cut the lines. 

On your frosting, trace around the inside of your cookie cutter and then cut one for each cookie you want to make. If you are using a shape printed from the Internet, trace it as before, but when cutting, be sure to cut on the inside of the line to make sure it's smaller than the cookie. 

Then, place your frosting shape on top of a cookie shape, making sure any tracing lines are facing down.  Pick two or three colors of embroidery floss that go with the occasion you're celebrating and sew small lines randomly across the frosting, going different directions to represent sprinkles. The threads should go through both the frosting and cookie layers, as this is how we are securing our frosting layer.

Next, place the frosted cookie top on your cookie bottom piece, again making sure any tracing lines are on the inside where they wont be as visible, and sew a blanket stitch (my favorite, especially for baked goods) or ladder stitch around the edge of the cookie, leave a 1-2" gap on one side. 

Insert stuffing through this hole, then close it with the same stitch you were using before.

Work the cookie a bit with your fingers to make sure the stuffing is fairly even. 


7 Quick Takes Valentine's Day 2014

--- 1 ---
Remember the fun "Love" wrap I talked about Wednesday? Well it's on sale today only because of Valentine's Day!!! You will automatically get 30% off on the Pollora website until midnight inn Europe (to be honest, I'm not sure exactly how far ahead of us they are, so order by afternoon if you want to be guaranteed to get that price!). Find the pink here, but they seem to have sold out of red already!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Why I'm Mad About my Sex Education

On Thursdays I'll repost old posts that I think are worth sharing again, many from my old blog Maman A Droit. I may make a few changes to them, primarily fixing errors and updating links. I hope you enjoy them as much this time around! The following post was originally published in March of 2010, and seemed fitting for right around Valentine's Day!

This post won't use sexual slang or crass language, but may include some anatomical or technical terms you aren't ready to explain to your kids yet.

In elementary school, I remember an awkward video followed by free sample travel-sized deodorants. Then in high school, sex ed mainly consisted of awkward diagrams on a handout, a long list of STD's and symptoms, and a condoms vs. the pill vs. IUD type chart. My parents talked to me about the emotional and moral aspects of sexual activity, and even sent me to a special class at church with a dozen other unwilling victims to learn more about our church's stance (I was Methodist at the time. Their stance was basically no sex before marriage, no abortion without a good reason, otherwise basically do what you want.) But one thing missing in all of this was a thorough and scientifically accurate discussion of natural family planning.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wear them Wednesday: Valentine's Day 2014

On Wednesdays I blog about a wrap, sling, or other baby carrier I've tried and loved, one I hope to try someday, and one way to wear a wrap, sling, or other carrier. In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm sharing my favorite romantic wraps all month, from hearts to florals. This week, it's all about the pink!

One I love

Roses Danna from Oscha is one of the prettiest pink wraps I've ever seen. It's all cotton, which means easy care (machine wash and dry) and snugly softness for even the newest of little valentines. However Oscha cotton is also surprisingly supportive-this is definitely not a squish-only type of wrap!

Right side:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dark chocolate cherry jello cookie recipe

Looking for an easy and yummy pink treat for this Valentine's Day? I've got the perfect recipe: dark chocolate chip cherry jello cookies!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Seeking Bloggers for Blog Hop & Giveaway on World Down Syndrome Day!

I'm super excited to announce one of my upcoming projects! On March 21st, World Down Syndrome Awareness Day, a group of bloggers and I will be having a blog hop and giveaway! And we want you to be a part of it!

If you agree to participate, you are committing to post a Rafflecopter form and links to the other participating blogs (I'll send you the code to post a few days ahead of time) on March 21st.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wear them Wednesday February 5th, 2013

One I love
A wrap I have been recently loving more and more is Oscha's Margo Verona. I initially fell in love with the pattern, which is very reminiscent of the style of the Arts & Crafts movement and in particular the "Macintosh rose" design created by Robert Macintosh, and the deep red color-probably closest to a brick red-but have just in the last few days been really appreciating its supportiveness and cushiness, both attributable to being a hemp/cotton blend. My mom even tried it out when she visited a few months ago!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Staying Motivated to Exercise

This post is part of the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Mothering. Our topic this month is Movement. 

While most of us agree staying in shape is important, finding the motivation to actually do it each day/most days proves much more difficult. Here are my best tips for motivating yourself to exercise regularly: