Friday, July 11, 2014

A Dinner Al Fresco with Fred



As a family, we LOVE to eat out on our patio! Dinner is always a great time to bond with family and when you do it outside, it adds a great element of fun for everyone! Tonight we decided on a simple steak with brussels sprouts and a caprese salad. Can I share a recipe with you? Great!



The filet we cooked tonight comes from a friend of ours. A while ago, we went in with a friend and purchased a side of beef from a local farm. After hearing of this, my daughter decided to name our cow "Fred". Every time we have any sort of beef in our house, we all know that we are having some Fred. Fred is super delicious and very lean. All we used to make these awesome filets was salt, pepper and butter. That's all it needed. Jay popped these babies on the grill for a bit and we had wonderful medium-rare steaks in no time! 



This caprese salad was AMAZING! I found some high quality mozzarella at the market and used basic roma tomatoes. The thing that makes this salad so amazing is the oil and vinegar. Last year, Jay and I went on a long tour of the Mediterranean. While we were in Tuscany, we stopped at a wine tasting shop to sample amazing wines, olive oils, and balsamic vinegars. We ended up coming home with an amazing array!


On the far right in the picture above is our balsamic vinegar from Tuscany with the olive oil in the center. Let me just say, any good quality oil and vinegar would be great if you don't have any Tuscan lying around ;) On the far left, I give you our wine pairing for the evening. I stumbled upon this brand while shopping in my local liquor store. "Chime" Cabernet Sauvignon-2012 was the perfect red to add to this meal. It was light and went down easily with the steak. 




The other uber-important part of the salad (and mostly because I want to show off my green thumb) was the basil. I grow this basil right in the window in my kitchen. It is very fresh an flavorful! The best part is, it gives my daughter the very important job of picking the basil,crushing it up and sprinkling it on top of the salad! (How else would I get her to eat it?!)

The brussles sprouts have a few more steps involved, but is still a super simple side dish to make. Lucky for you, I have provided the recipe below!

(PS... Did I just make you a fancy dinner in 30 minutes? I think so!!!)

Brussels Sprouts




Serves 4
Prep Time: 10mins
Cook Time: 30mins
Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs of Brussels Sprouts
5 Strips Thick-Sliced Applewood-Smoked Bacon
1 Yellow Onion
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
2. Cut the base part of all of your Brussels Sprouts off and discard. Cut the sprouts into halves. (If small leaves come off of sprouts, GREAT! Those pieces become super crispy and make this dish even better!) Lay on a large ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Slice the bacon into 1/4 inch pieces, add to Brussels Sprouts.
4. Slice Onion into large pieces, add to Brussels Sprouts.
5. Drizzle Olive Oil on top of Brussels Sprouts, Add Salt and Pepper to taste (I prefer pretty generously)
6. Using your hands, Mix all ingredients together coating thoroughly.
7. Bake for 30mins or until leaves become golden brown.


These sprouts are so good, my 9 year-old finished them first!



Do you love to eat outside? What is your go-to recipe for a night under the stars? I also want to know, what crazy food is your kid in love with? How do you get them to eat it?

Tell me your story! Leave a comment!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summertime Reading Review: Adult Edition

If you didn't get the hint the other day, I love to read. I'm definitely a total nerd so my reading list consists of things like Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent trilogy, some good smut (a lot of Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele), Dragon Tattoo, etc. I'm a big fan of books that will eventually be a movie, but i'll always read the book first, not the other way around. Not a lot of non-fiction books but I'm usually down for one every once in a while.

Yesterday we talked about some great reading material for the kiddos. Today I'd like to make some suggestions for the grown-ups. Here are some of my favorites for this summer.

1. The Casual Vacancy
     Starting out with a book written by J.K. Rowling (insert smiley face here) this book is not the quickest read but is a great story. The best part: HBO is currently casting a 3-part miniseries of the novel.



   Always a classic, this novel is the perfect "quick read" for a vacation on the beach. I love the accomplished feeling of finishing a book on vaca, it makes me feel as if I've genuinely relaxed. Taking a gander at Leo afterward in the movie isn't so bad either ;)



     So this one can't technically be a review because, to be honest, I haven't read it yet. I can say, that this is the book that I am most excited to read! I am just about to start it and I cannot wait! Plus: The movie just came out! (Starting to see the theme here?)


     Ok, one more J.K. Rowling plug, and I'm done. Written under the male pen name of "Robert Galbraith". These books are perfect for all of you murder-mystery readers out there. No movie involved with this one, but still great reads!





Have you read any good books lately? Do you have a summertime favorite that you just can't put down? Leave a comment and let me know! Once I'm done with The Fault In Our Stars, I'll need something new to read!
Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summertime Reading Review: Kid's Edition

While my daughter is a very bright little girl, she struggles with one thing in school that most kids do: Reading. As a result, we do quite a bit of homeschooling in our home during the summer that is solely based around reading activities.With our methods, there is 2 kinds of reading. Reading for comprehension and reading for fluency. 

To work on reading for comprehension, we do a family book club. We all read a book together, 2 chapters a day, and meet during dinnertime to discuss the book once we have finished. This gives Alayna an opportunity to read on her own and recap what she has read over the previous week. Alayna will be in the 4th grade next year, so we are reading books at a variety of reading levels. Here are some of our favorites we've read so far this summer:

1. Judy Moody Saves the World



2. Judy Moody Gets Famous!





We really love the Judy Moody book series! They are perfect for little girls and are an easy enough chapter book to get those early-readers going. The Animal Ark series is a little harder than the Judy Moody books, but it gives kids just that much more confidence to keep reading! (And for only $1.99 a piece, you're making out with a huge bargain!) They are great for boys and any animal lover too!

When we work on reading fluency, we pick a kid-friendly chapter book that is too hard for her to read on her own, and I read it to her. When she listens to the story, she can hear how fluently I read while trying to follow along on the pages. It gives her the confidence to try to read as fluently and with as much emotion as I do. Lately, we have been reading a lot of Roald Dahl books. Here are our favorites for the summer time:






Oh, and did I mention that all of these books are under $6?!?? I know, right?! Reading is a great way to spend time with your kids during the summer. So go get your picnic blanket, put it in your yard, and READ! A couple of chapters will only take a few minutes and the stories you instill in your child's imaginations will last them a lifetime!

What books do your kids love to read? Do they have a favorite bedtime story? Leave a comment and let me know!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Warm Weather Skirt: Part 2

On Thursday, we talked about a great way to style a sunny summer day with a warmer top to tough out the random wind that makes it chilly outside. I gave you a stylish girl's outfit for the daughters out there. Today, I'll show you my "Mom" version of this style!



My favorite thing about this outfit is how comfortable it is! Everything just flows with ease, allowing me to go out-and-about in style. Another great thing about this outfit is how many basic pieces I can use. I'm sporting a go-to basic tank from Target, a go-to basic drape from Charlotte Russe and basic go-to canvas wedges made by Toms.

Tank, Target (Exact)
Drape, Charlotte Russe (Exact, in Peach)
Shoes, Toms (Exact, in Red)

Of course, every outfit needs a few statement pieces. BIG shouts out my new favorite boutique, Chartreuse. Located in Louisville, KY, in the Westport Village shopping center. I was able to score big-time when I picked up this molded skirt in navy-and-white. It puffs out all the time, I'm not quite sure what that style is called... so if you do, let me know! 


My second big score from the ladies at Chartreuse was this gorgeous necklace in the shape of the great state of Kentucky! It was a gift from my sister-in-law and believe me when I tell you, I am wearing the you-know-whats out of it! 

The unfortunate thing is that I cannot find an online store for Chartreuse. So if you are in the Louisville area, please, go check them out! They have some amazing clothes and accessories there, for great prices! I will definitely be posting more items from them in the future. In the mean time, if you are not in the Louisville area, I have provided a couple of similar items for you!


Skirt, 6pm (Similar)
Necklace, theFolk on Etsy (Similar)

Do you have a boutique you like to visit in a certain city? Anywhere in the world, tell me about it! Leave a comment below, and thanks again for stopping by! 


Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Warm Weather Skirt: Part 1

We've had some warmer weather here in Colorado, but we just can't seem to shake this wind! In keeping with the theme of summertime clothes with warmer accents, I've got another "Daughter" outfit to share! A light tulle skirt with matching sweater should do the trick!



First of all, I LOVE the outlet mall! I love that I can get something that is super cute, not typically found in the regular stores, and waaay cheaper, all in the brands that I like! We started off this outfit at the Crew Cuts factory store while on vacation in Destin, but don't worry, I got you, they have an online store! Paired that with some go-to sandals from Payless and sunglasses from Children's Place and you've got yourself a cutie-pie on your hands!

Shop the Look:
Top, J. Crew "Crew Cuts" (Exact): $19.50
Skirt , J. Crew "Crew Cuts" (Exact): $44.50
Sunglasses, The Children's Place (Exact): $2.99!
Sandals, Payless Shoes (Exact): $26.99
Earrings, Claire's (Exact): $6.50
OUTFIT TOTAL: $100.48!!!
(Keep in Mind: They are usually running a sale a the outlet store, I got the top and the skirt for 50% OFF!! That lowered the price of this outfit to only $68.48!)





To top-off her outfit, Alayna was so excited to add a home made charm bracelet! She made this herself from a rainbow loom kit. I love how she added the nautical themed charms to perfectly tie it in to her ensemblè!




Join me on Saturday as I show off the "Mom" version of this summer-wind outfit! 
Leave a comment below! What do you think of Alayna's outfit? How about her homemade accessories? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Freezer Meals

The other day I took 2.5 hours out of my day and I made some of my Freezer Meals! It was super easy and I have 6 extra meals to make when I am in a tight spot. 

Here's the thing about freezer meals. A lot of them you have to thaw overnight so there is a little bit of thought that goes into them. As a stay-at-home-mom, if I know the night before that I need something for dinner the next night, I'm going to just go to the grocery and get the things that I need.

When I make my freezer meals, I want stuff that I can take out a few hours before, thaw in the microwave, or just cook from frozen.

I always pick a few recipes and make multiple of each. I like to use these Chinet bakeware containers. They freeze really well and they can go directly into the oven. 



Also, I always make sure to properly label all of my meals. I can see what it is from the side of the container when I open my freezer, and I can see the cooking instructions on the top of the container for easy access!


First, I went with my trusty Steak Stir-Fry! I posted the recipe on my very first blog post entitled "Welcome Friends!". I made 2 of these in gallon sized bags so they lay nice and flat in my freezer. 

Second, I made a wonderful Chicken Enchilada recipe that I found on the Thriving Home Blog. It's so hearty with the black beans and full of wonderful flavors! This recipe takes only a few minutes and it's one of my family's favorites! On the site, it calls for a 9x9 baking dish. Since I use the above 8x8 dishes, I usually put about 4-5 enchiladas in one dish, therefore I can make 3 dinners out of this. Keep in mind, these enchiladas are BIG. One is plenty for one person for dinner. 

Third, I went with a basic Ravioli casserole. Here is my recipe:

Ravioli Casserole

1 package pre-made Cheese Ravioli
1 lb. ground beef
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, separated
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 can italian-style diced tomatoes

1. Grease an 8x8 pain lightly. Heat oven to 350.
2. In a medium pot, brown the ground beef. Drain and return to pan
3. Add the spaghetti sauce, 3/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and diced tomatoes to the beef. Heat thoroughly.
4. Pour a thin layer of sauce into the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of uncooked ravioli on top of the sauce. Continue to layer the sauce and ravioli until gone. Make sure the top layer is sauce. 
5. If you are going to freeze this meal, now is the time to freeze it. If you are going to make it now, cover with foil and place in the over for 35 minutes. 
6. Remove from oven, take foil off, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese, return to oven and cook for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.  
7. Let cool 10 minutes and enjoy!



Do you have any recipes you like to freeze? Or some "go-to" recipe you like to use when you're in a pinch for dinner? Share them here! I'd love to know what kind of trick you have up your sleeve! 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer Rompers for Mother and Daughter

Summertime is the perfect time to show off your shorts. Summertime in Colorado, is the perfect time to show off your shorts with layers and long sleeves! When I lived in Houston, it was impossible to pull off this look. If it was shorts weather, you pretty much had to wear a tank or die from heat exhaustion! Colorado has nice, chilly summer days that make this look work!

Today I'd like to share with you two looks, one for Mother and one for Daughter, to kick off your weekend in style!


We'll start with Daughter. First of all, how cute is she?! I love this outfit because it feels like she's ready to celebrate the Fourth, without being doused in red, white, and blue. The Romper creates a great color palate, with the jacket really pulling the look together. The Romper is currently on SALE at Crazy 8 for only $9!!!!

We completed the look with these awesome flag sunglasses and firework earrings! We got both items from Claire's, as they are currently having a "Buy 2, Get 1 Free" Sale!
Romper (Exact): $9.09
Jacket (Exact): $10.49
Shoes (Exact): $7.69
Sunglasses (Similar): $9.99
Earrings (Exact): $7.50
OUTFIT TOTAL: $44.76!!!

For Mom's romper, I went with this SUPER COMFY hooded one from BCBG. It is made of a sweatpant material with 3/4 length loose-flowing sleeves. My shoes are from Target a few seasons ago. Throw on some basic layered bracelets and BOOM! Awesome daytime outfit! I stayed nice and warm but summery all at the same time! 


Sorry for the blurry pic... Have to give the photo cred to my daughter! Thanks, Alayna!

Romper (Exact): $47.00
Shoes (Similar): $29.00
Bracelet (Exact): $7.99
OUTFIT TOTAL: $83.99!!!

Join me tomorrow when I'll be dishing out recipes for my favorite freezer meals! (See what I did there?!)

What go-to style do you have for summer?! How do you feel about rompers? Love them or hate them? Leave a comment!!! Thanks for stopping by!