Preventing “Bore”antine during Quarantine~outdoor fun while staying home

Well after the beautiful weather over this past weekend, it looks like we will finally be able to spend more time outdoors, even if we still can’t go far. If you have typically active kids like me who are constantly asking “Where are we going today?” all summer long (okay all year long) I thought I’d share some of the fun we’ve been having outside so far.

Of course there are bike rides, walks, runs, and just good old fashioned backyard swinging and playing. However,  my kids seem to crave a little more of a routine or more structured activity from time to time.  So we look up ideas online,  and also used our own creativity to change things up. Here are a few ideas for some outdoor fun at home.

Chalk Mosaics

Need: sidewalk chalk, painters tape or masking tape

We took some painters tape and made a rectangle in the driveway. Then we cut the tape into diagonal lines and shapes to section it off. Color in each shape with the sidewalk chalk, right up to the tape so there’s no spaces left. Peel away the tape, and you’ve got your very own masterpiece in your driveway. I’ve seen them done on fences too.  We also did the same concept using stencils and paper.

We also chalked our walk which although took us a few hours, was a lot of fun and we loved the way it came out!

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Out door scavenger hunt

This makes your typical family walk a little more of an adventure! We printed out a list of items to find and each kid got their own bag, list and pen. Some items were specific like a pine cone or acorn, others were more subjective like something you think is pretty or a treasure.  I think it would be fun to do one where you find something from each color of the rainbow or starting with each letter of the alphabet next time! They filled their bags and checked the items off as we went.

 

Even more fun, make a funny face or image using your finds!

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Start a garden

This is something I have always wanted to try but just didn’t have the time to look into it. So we are giving it a shot this year. I decided we would stick to our 3 favorite and from what I hear 3 easy to grow veggies…tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers. We actually began it around Earth day along with potting a lot of wild flower seeds. I also wanted to start from seed, so that’s what we did.

I found this seed tray from Buzzy© and ordered it online. The kids were so excited to plant the seeds and water them each day! We kept them indoors for about 3 weeks, but moved the tray outside on warmer sunny days and the our little baby seedlings grew like crazy! Then we built our own raised garden bed, lined it with a grass shield and cardboard and then filled it with MiracleGro© garden soil to transplant them. We had so many tomatoes grow, we ended up potting them too. Crossing our fingers our little babies grow (we will keep you updated)!

Puffy Paint Chalk

Need: flour, food coloring, dish soap, squeeze bottles.

This was a lot of fun because we love to bake, and it was like baking our own paint! The recipe was super easy…

1 cup flour (we used all purpose)

1 cup water

1 TBSP dish soap

10-12 drops of food coloring

Stir together the flour and water until smooth. Then add in the dish soap and the food coloring. Pour into squeeze bottles ( we got these from Amazon and they worked great!). .The kids had a blast writing words, making 3D pictures, and it was a good amount of “paint” of each color. You could always half the recipe and still have plenty. The best part was, it lasted a really long time. Even after it rained, unlike traditional sidewalk chalk, their creations stayed put.

A few other quick ideas:

Birdhouses (see how on our Earth day page)

Painting rocks and murals

 

 

What outdoor fun have you done? We love to try new ideas so please share!

Stay safe and creative everyone!

xoxo,
Heather

 

A balanced Mother’s Day during unbalanced times

While I’ve never been one to make a big deal about Mother’s Day, it is always a time that reminds me to think about how becoming a mom was the best thing I’ve ever done. No, it’s not bliss and dreamy at all times. It’s messy, crazy, stressful, and exhausting. And that’s completely fine with me! It’s perfectly imperfect. I mean look at these 2, what could be better than this…

This year is definitely no exception for me in terms of  checking in and questioning how great or not great of a mom I am. For almost 2 months we have basically been on lock down during this pandemic. I’m teaching from home, the kids are learning from home, and we are home. All. The. Time.

I have always been a worrier. Having kids has brought that out even more, as I’m sure most moms can relate to. But this year has brought it to a whole new level. I worry that they’re completing their school work. I worry I can’t help them enough because I have my own school work and students to help. I worry that even though they seem happy they might scared, anxious, or sad because their whole life changed overnight. I worry about their mental health and have hardly slept through it all.

I am doing my best to make sure they are okay. But in order to do that, I have to be okay. I’ve always been an advocate for the belief that moms who take care of themselves and put their mental and physical health first sometimes are better for it. The whole you can’t love someone else until you love yourself first idea. I think it’s important for us to have time to work out, read, take a bath or whatever it is that makes you balanced. And for me, now more than ever I need that. I need to release this stress somewhere so it’s not directed at these innocent little babes who are just trying to understand what the heck is going on right now!

I’ve been waking up and running almost every day before everyone else is up and before our school day starts. It’s not even physical right now, it’s for my mental health. It gives me the chance to mentally organize my thoughts for the day, and physically move before sitting behind the screen for 3 or 4 hours. It makes me more patient while trying to multitask like I never have before…working in my “classroom” while getting the 25th snack for someone or helping with multiplying fractions (although I don’t know how much I’m actually helping with that).

I guess my point in all of this is, if you are a mom and feel like you are struggling right now, you are absolutely not alone. This is hard. It’s not normal, not even a “new normal”. It’s scary, frustrating, and stressful. But I think the more you try and find something that grounds you…no matter what that is, try and make an effort to do that. You deserve it. But even more importantly your kids deserve it. It’s not easy but I know it’s so worth it and I hope you can find your release too.

Happy Mother’s Day. Do something for yourself today mama, even if it’s just putting those feet up and enjoying some burnt pancakes in bed. You need it, maybe this year more than ever.

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xoxo,

Heather

Cinco Fun

Since we are still going strong staying home and trying to stay positive and have fun, we decided to plan a fun fiesta for Cinco de Mayo. We searched Pinterest and found things we could do using what we had at home. Here are some of the simple ways we made it fun and memorable.

Homemade piñatas.

Supplies: brown paper bags, tissue paper or streamers, scissors, glue or tape, hole punch, candy (we used leftover Easter candy), twine or ribbon to hang, and magazine pages

The kids filled the bags a little less than halfway with candy and the rest of the way with crumpled magazine pages before the decorated the bags. Then they cut strips of streamers and cut fringe into the strips before taping on. Then we punch holes in the bag and pulled twine through and knotted so they could hang.

Churro donut holes

Supplies: 2 brown paper bags, oil, cinnamon and sugar, refrigerated pillsbury grands biscuits, big pot, slotted spoon.

First we poured the cinnamon and sugar into the bags. (Double the bag just in case the oil comes through)

We cut each biscuit into 4, then rolled each piece into a ball (so you end up with 36). Then we heated up about 1 cup of oil in a large pot. I carefully dropped about 6 dough balls into the oil and kept moving them with a slotted spoon so they wouldn’t stick. They only needed about 45-60 seconds each. Then we took them out using the spoon and put them directly into the cinnamon and sugar. The kids had a blast shaking them up!

That’s it…so simple and they tasted so good.

As you can see, we also made cupcakes and decorated them with green and pink icing to look like a cactus! We chose orange cupcake wrappers so they would resemble terra cotta pots.

We had a yummy taco dinner  (get my homemade taco seasoning recipe here, and my garlic shrimp taco recipe here )some photo booth fun, and ended the night watching Coco.

Happy cinco!

Xo, Heather.

Earth Day: Outdoor fun and ideas

Some easy crafts using recycled and reused materials we did for Earth day but are fun to do everyday!

Since we have been spending all this extra time at home I’ve had more opportunities to do fun crafts and outdoor activities with the kids. My daughter who is usually jumping from one sport or activity to the next is craving routine and things to do so I’ve been doing my best to keep her busy and love the opportunity to reuse some materials we have around the house!

Bird feeders

Using what we had at home and checking out Pinterest we decided to make a couple different versions of bird feeders.

Popsicle stick feeder: (just need some paint, popsicle sticks, twine or ribbon, and hot glue

Milk carton feeder

Just need milk cartons, paint, cutting blade, sticks and hot glue gun for the roof, and ribbon or twine

Soup can feeders

Just need old soup cans, paint, ribbon, hot glue and a stick for the post

Egg carton feeder

Egg container, paint, hole puncher, ribbon or twine

We also planted flowers and veggies, and made earth day cupcakes!

Earth day should be celebrated everyday, so even if you missed it this year, these can be done anytime!

Happy Earth Day!

Xoxo, Heather.

Simple Banana Protein Muffins

My kids eat fruit like it’s their job. In fact, just to get Nolan to sit and eat dinner I put out a “fruit appetizer” to get him to start eating and then cross my fingers he continues to eat once dinner is there as well. One favorite of theirs are bananas, but of course when I buy more than usual it’s the week they don’t eat them! So yesterday morning I realized we had 3 bananas left that were almost completely brown and I personally need a perfectly firm yellow banana or I won’t touch them. So I decided to experiment and threw together a bunch of ingredients and hoped for the best. I have to say, they came out pretty good!

I do want to also say that I don’t give my kids protein or supplements, so I left the protein powder out until after I used half the batter. Just my personal preference.

As I always say, I don’t measure unless I’m baking and following a specific recipe. But when it comes to flour and staple baking ingredients it makes sense. So these are 90% exact quantities today.

Banana Protein Muffins


(Yield: about 16 muffins)

Ingredients:

3 bananas (mashed with a fork)

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 heaping tbsp peanut powder

1 tbsp unflavored protein powder (I use Realist Lifestyle ghost protein)

1/4 cup virgin coconut oil

3/4 cups plain Almond milk (or vanilla for sweeter taste)

1 egg

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup maple syrup

handful of dark chocolate chips

cinnamon

Method:

Combine all ingredients except for chocolate chips and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed, about 3 minutes or until combined and smoother. If you are making them for kids too, leave out protein powder too.

Stir in chocolate chips

Place in muffin tin lined with papers. Mix protein powder half the batter if you are sharing with kids

Sprinkle cinnamon on top of each

Bake on 400 for 18-20 minutes


Enjoy!

Xoxo,

Heather

Garlic shrimp tacos with cilantro lime dressing

 

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I was having a serious craving for seafood tacos this week, so even through we had tacos earlier this week I made them tonight! I’ve always loved a yummy lime taste in them so I used some fresh cilantro I had bought earlier on the week and threw together a “sauce” using Greek yogurt.

Sidenote-although I like almost everything, I have never been able to eat yogurt. Everything about it makes me gag. But I really want to like it! I force myself to try things with yogurt constantly but can’t do it. Greek yogurt still isn’t my favorite but mixed in smoothies and dressings I’m okay. 

 

Anyway, here’s what I did. And as usual, all measurements are approximate!


Cilantro lime dressing:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

juice of 2 limes (plus I used about 1/2 tsp zest of the lime)

1 clove garlic,grated or minced

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

blend all ingredients in a food processor and set aside


Garlic shrimp

1/4 cup olive oil

a few tsp of the following:

paprika

old bay

ground black pepper

cayenne pepper

1 garlic clove minced

juice from 1/2 a lemon

about 20 large raw shrimp

Place shrimp and all ingredients in large plastic bag and toss so they are coated

marinate at least 15 minutes in fridge

empty contents into frying pan on medium heat

continue to turn shrimp until cooked through

top with diced tomato, sliced avocado, slaw, and lime dressing from above on your favorite taco shell (I used whole wheat tortillas)


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Garlic shrimp taco

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Diced tomato avocado and slaw

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Sautéed garlic shrimp

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Cilantro lime dressing

enjoy!

Xoxo,

Heather

 

Fitletic HydraPalm Review

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So I haven’t really mentioned it here yet, but I am officially signed up for my first FULL marathon! It will be Chicago in October, but I am already in full on planning mode! Along with cleaning up my diet and reading up on training plans, I am starting to figure out what equipment will best help me not only during the marathon but on all the long training runs…especially in the summer heat!

I am not the best when it comes to drinking water, but I know that hydration will be a huge factor in not only my performance in Chicago but also during the training. So when Fitletic sent me a HydraPalm, I couldn’t have been more excited to try it out! Even though I am not running super long distances at this point, it’s great to get a head start.

One of the features that caught my eye about the Hydra Palm is that you “hold” the bottle in your hand the whole time. I feel like for me this was great, because I’m always holding something anyway…keys, snacks for the kids, or my phone. The shape of the bottle molds to your hand and it’s kind of just like wearing a glove. There’s a thumb hole too which I thought made it even more comfortable to hold. The cap of the bottle is great too, I did not need to use my other hand to take a quick sip!

Another thing I liked was that there’s a separate piece where I can put my phone. Usually during training runs I hold my phone in case of emergency, or it’s just easier to change whatever song I’m listening to or pause my GPS if I use the app on my phone. During races in the past I’ve worn an armband so I don’t have the convenience of accessing my phone easily while running, plus starting and stopping the music/GPS is tricky at the beginning and end of the race. And the touch window works perfectly too! (The case holds up to an IPhone 6 Plus, I have a 6). I actually took the case off of my phone thinking it would not fit, but it bounced around in the extra space so I ended up leaving it on!  There is also a separate pocket for your ID (so important!), to stow away cash, or even keep a car or house key safe.

The material is soft, but also reflective, which will be perfect for those super early or late runs I have to fit in. The bottle is dishwasher safe, which is always a bonus for busy mamas like me!

I have been wanting to try one of these “handheld water bottle thingies” as I called them for a while now and I’m really happy with the HydraPalm. The company is great too, I read a little bit about how they started and was not surprised to find out that the founder was also a busy mom trying to make her runs more convenient. They have a lot of other great products as well like hydration belts, head lights, and reflective gear…all things I will be trying out as I get closer to my journey of running my first full marathon! (I still can’t believe it!)

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#runhappy (and hydrated!)

xoxo,

Heather

Pesto Potato Salad

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I am definitely not a traditional potato salad kind of girl, but when I came across the recipe for one using pesto in one of my favorite cookbooks, Run Fast Eat Slow, I was intrigued! I have not tried their cashew pesto yet, but made my own version yesterday. The results did not disappoint! Here’s another simple take on an old classic. (And remember…I am not a measurer unless I’m baking so it’s all approximates and you can adjust to your own taste!)


For the Pesto:

2 cups fresh basil

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

3 cloves garlic (grated)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

juice from 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup pine nuts (or walnuts, etc)

sea salt/black pepper to taste

 

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until desired creaminess

 

For the Potatoes:

1-2 lbs. small red potatoes

sea salt

 

Wash potatoes and slice into halves or quarters (depending on size and preference)

Place cut potatoes in a large pot and fill will water to about an inch above potatoes

add about 2 tsp sea salt to the water

bring pot to a boil, then turn to medium/ low and simmer for about 15 minutes (you can make the pesto during this step!)

Test them with a fork to see if they’re soft enough, then drain in a colander, return to pot and after a few minutes toss with pesto. (You will have enough pesto left over to use for another day, or I had spread some on salmon that I baked to have with the potatoes for dinner) 

As I was making this my husband questioned whether it would really taste as good as I was anticipating. He regrets doubting me now! 

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Heather

Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I know a lot of people aren’t a fan of these wonderful little cabbages, but I cannot get enough! Even back in the 80’s when they were just boiled and served, I loved them. But one of my absolute favorite veggies are roasted brussels sprouts. They’re ridiculously simple too! Not to mention believe it or not a good source of protein, fiber, and many other nutrients, including vitamin C! Here’s an quick and easy recipe.


1-2 lbs Brussels Sprouts (washed and halved)

about 2-3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1-2 tsp Sea Salt

1-2 tsp Black Pepper

1-2 tsp Paprika (or whatever “red” spice I’m feeling that day-chili powder, etc)

1 large clove garlic (grated)

 

Preheat oven to 425

Place all ingredients in a large plastic storage bag and shake/press together

Empty the bag onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (does anyone else love those pre-cut sheets?)

Bake in oven for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes turn sprouts to get that nice brown color on all sides.


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turn after 10 minutes to get all sides crispy and brown

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mix all ingredients together in a plastic storage bag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it! They look and smell so good that my anti-sprout husband tries them just because he wants to like them so bad! I don’t mind not sharing these though, they are just too good.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Heather

Sun-dried Tomato Hummus

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Another week of meal prep is under my belt and I am really loving it! Last night I made hummus, like I have been each week but I tweaked a few things and decided to add some sun-dried tomatoes as well. It really kicked the flavor up and I think it is my new favorite! Hummus is so simple to make and I love that I can use organic ingredients and not worry about all the added preservatives. Here’s what I did:


Ingredients:

1 box organic Garbanzo beans (or can) 15-16oz

4 or 5 sundried tomatoes

1 large clove of garlic

1/4-1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I use organic)

1-2 TBSP Lemon juice (I squeeze half a lemon)

a pinch of sea salt

 

Method:

Drain and rinse Garbanzo beans

Using kitchen scissors, cut tomatoes into small pieces

Put beans, tomatoes and oil into food processor.

Grate garlic into processor

add lemon juice and salt

Blend/chop until desired smoothness. (I usually add more oil as needed)


 

That’s it! As part of my meal prep I then divide it into small containers for a quick snack with veggies at work. The rest I keep in the fridge to spread on sandwiches, or dip at home.

I have also used this recipe without the tomatoes if they aren’t your thing.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Heather