If you’re a tweeter, you might already be familiar with the handle @DogRates, the page that has you submit pictures of your dog and the owner of the page rates your dog. Most get ratings of 13/10 (13 out of ten) or something similar because all dogs are good dogs. Now, from the same people … Continue reading @DogFeelings
The original caption when I found this was “do you think the cat knows he’s adopted?” I don’t know, they all have the same family characteristics, don’t you think? Probably a brother from another mother or a sister from another mister. Enjoy your weekend. Until next time, Good day, and good dog!
This book marries professional photography by acclaimed pet photographer Mark J. Asher with the happy stories of the former shelter dogs themselves.
This post first appeared in DogTipper.com. Link…
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From The Dog Lady’s mailbag: To celebrate the dogs who do extraordinary things in the service of humankind, the AKC Humane Fund is seeking YOUR nominations for its AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE). Nominations are open now through July 31st and winners will be announced in the fall of 2020. Each year, … Continue reading 2020 Ace AWARD nominations now open
This post is sponsored by Sun-Maid®, but all opinions are my own.
I have a love-hate relationship with school lunches.
As far as the ‘hate’ part goes, it’s somehow the one thing I forget to do during our hectic night time routine, and without fail, just as I’m finally ready to go to bed I remember I haven’t made lunches yet. Then there is the monotony. By December, I’m so fried from a combination of work overload, the holidays, and the kids’ activities that I’m on auto pilot with their lunches. I take the easiest route, throw in whatever we have, and pack the same thing everyday. And trust me, I hear about it from the kids. Sometimes I don’t even need to hear about it, because their lunch boxes come home barely touched.
There is, despite all of this, part of me that finds putting together school lunches really fun. I enjoy the creative aspect of it. And after a couple of weeks off from making them over winter break, I’m feeling refreshed enough in general that my motivation to create fun lunches has returned. I’ve also recently discovered a few simple things that make putting together inspired lunches easy, and if all goes well, I’ll be able to carry this momentum through this second half of the school year. (Fingers crossed). Here is what works for me!
1. Create fun shapes.
My little ones are still young, but even if your kids are on the older side, it’s amazing what a cookie cutter can do. I bought several different shapes to use on sandwiches, cheese slices, and meats. I’m telling you, my daughter will scarf down a star shaped PB&J yet bring home an uneaten regular square sandwich. It’s amazing. (Bonus: you get to eat the pieces left over from the cookie cutters!) If you don’t have a cookie cutter, it’s easy to create a heart shaped sandwich with a knife.
2. Give lunch box raisins a sour punch.
Sun-Maid Raisins are a staple in most lunch boxes (since way back when I was a kid!), but when I discovered Sun-Maid® Sour Raisin Snacks at Target a few weeks ago and realized I could take the regular school lunch raisin up a notch (just like the lunches themselves!), I was stoked. As soon as my kids tasted them, they were stoked too! Made with whole fruits, Sun-Maid® Sour Raisin Snacks contain no added sugar, no synthetic colors, and are non-GMO and gluten-free. They’re also genuinely delicious and have become a go-to, better-for-you snack for everyone in our house. My daughter and I love the Strawberry variety, and my husband and son are mildly obsessed with Watermelon. The flavor is natural tasting and perfectly subtle, but with a fun sour punch. And they’re available now in the dried fruit section (and online!) at both Target and Walmart.
3. Kabob it.
Just like the star shaped sandwiches and cheese slices, if I give my daughter pieces of fruit on skewers rather than in a regular cup or bag, they’re devoured. And kabobs can be made from endless types of food. They’re actually quite fun to put together too. One of my son’s favorite after school snacks is mini kabobs we made from O type cereals and Sun-Maid® Sour Raisin Snacks on toothpicks.
4. Make food smile.
In addition to creating fun shapes out of my kids’ sandwiches, I like to give them an added bit of fun by making a simple face. Two Sun-Maid® Sour Raisin Snacks for eyes and a clementine orange slice mouth make a boring sandwich come to life. I also draw a happy face on a banana or orange with a marker and I’m telling you, it makes my kids so much more enthusiastic about eating their fruits and veggies.
5. Get the kids involved.
This is a win-win for me, because it solves the problem of me forgetting to make their lunches until right before my head hits the pillow, and because my kids tend to be more enthusiastic about choosing healthy foods and actually eating their lunches when they’ve helped prepare them. Essley gets a huge kick of cutting out her sandwiches with cookie cutters, and also loves choosing things like which flavor of Sun-Maid® Sour Raisin Snacks and what crunchy snack to include.
6. Switch it up.
I know what my kids like, and I know what foods are easiest for my to prepare, which makes it easy to fall into a school lunch rut. This ends up backfiring for all of us, because my kids get sick of eating the same thing everything, and I get sick of putting together cloned lunches. For the second half of the school year, I’ve been making sure to switch up their lunches everyday. This doesn’t mean I change everything I include from day to day (star sandwiches and Sun-Maid® Sour Raisin Snacks are everyday staples), but I change out at least half of the items and try to include as much variety as possible in a given week.
I hope these tips for refreshing your school lunches prove as helpful for you as they have for me! And if you have any other tips or ideas, I’d love to hear them.
Yesterday, I picked up a young golden retriever puppy from European show bloodlines. Her name is Aspen.
She is a natural retriever. She will already put that toy in my hand!
Yes. I said I’d never own one of these. I said the same thing about German shepherds.
And here we are.
Happy New Year! It’s my first post of the DECADE. Weird. Honestly, I feel like I could ramble on for days about how much has happened in the past ten years, and even in the past year alone. I spent part of last week in Denver and got to ring in my birthday (January 1st) AND this new decade with the friends in my life who I consider family, and there was a lot of reflection happening. In the past decade, I said goodbye to three of my closest friends who were also family, my stepdad Tom, my grandmother ‘Maggo’ (Essley’s namesake), and my ‘first born,’ Bubby dog, and went through the scariest period of my life as my baby fought and survived the most dangerous form of childhood epilepsy. I also married the love of my life, closed Mountains of the Moon (my eco-friendly clothing label of 15 years) and fell into a new career that I love and that helps support my family in ways I never imagined, bought our first home, and created the two greatest achievements of my life, Essley and Emmett. I am a completely different person but also the same, if that makes sense. I also started Bubby and Bean in the last decade (in late 2010), and it has evolved in ways I could have never imagined. Thank you all so much for sharing this journey with me.
While I don’t make New Year’s resolutions for many reasons, on January 1, 2019, I decided that I was going to be less hard on myself in general, and to learn to be content with my life and focus on gratitude rather than always trying to do MORE. We live in a culture where being busy and always having bigger goals is glamorized, and while I think evolving in positive ways is crucial, there is something to be said for just appreciating what you already have. In 2020, I plan to do more of this – both in my real life, and here on the blog and on my social media accounts. It’s very easy (especially for someone like me who tends to base my self worth on how much I achieve) to get caught up in the invisible ladder (to nowhere, let’s be honest) of the influencer world. I need more followers! I need more engagement! I need bigger partnerships! I need to get a book deal! I need prettier pictures! I need a nicer house in which to take the pictures! I need to do things to myself physically to look better for the pictures! No, no, and no. The truth is I’m happy where I am. I don’t need to get rich. I don’t need (or want) to be famous. My mediocre house on which we work very hard to improve for ourselves is plenty. My wrinkles and sagging skin and gray hairs are just freaking fine. I’m very content and grateful to get to do something I love that helps support my family. Yes, there are lots of exciting things I have to share with you guys in 2020. But I don’t need more more more. I’m good. I’m happy.
Anyway… Let’s get on to the point of this: my favorite posts of 2019. You can click on any of the images or the links below them to see the posts in full. Thank you for taking this look back with me!
In January, I got personal and talked about my struggle with seasonal depression, and how I use things like coloring (yes coloring!) to ease anxiety.
In February, I shared our family room redesign reveal (as seen in top post).
Also in February, I talked about 6 benefits of reading to children.
I shared items to help give your home a spring refresh for under $ 25.
This recipe for black bean and salsa verde quesadilla wraps from April was one of the most visited food posts of 2019.
Also in April, I paid at visit to the most incredible vintage film fashion exhibit at Chicago History Museum, which focused on “the original influencers.”
In honor of Earth Day, I shared 8 household/parenting hacks that also respect the earth.
As usual, I had summertime on the brain in May, so I put together this round up of fun summer hats.
In June, I shared 5 tips for keeping your house clean during summer break.
These organic pineapple orange vodka refreshers were my favorite beverage during the summer of 2019.
In July, I shared 7 tips for conquering summer laundry.
August rolled around and I talked about 10 ways we stay healthy as a family.
These two plant-based lunch kabob recipes I shared in September were pinned on Pinterest more than any other recipe.
In October, I shared some classic kids’ Halloween costume ideas (my fave!).
I talked about how to help feed hungry kids through Friendsgiving celebrations and shared our pumpkin coffee cake recipe in November.
Also in November, I talked about ways to encourage kids to tell their own stories.
These festive organic cranberry cucumber vodka spritzers were a hit around here this holiday season.
In December, I shared 10 tips for a successful holiday road trip with kids.
And finally, I shared this Polar Express inspired holiday Chex Mix recipe.
If you made it this far, thank you! I appreciate all of my followers so much, but I hold a special place in my heart for those of you who still read this blog (and blogs in general!). Blogs are the mother ships of social media, and I hope they never get drowned out by the fast/quick/easy pace of Instagram or Facebook or TikTok. If you still read, please comment below. It’s wonderful to see traffic coming here in my analytics, but I want to actually converse with you all as well! I hope 2020 brings you happiness, health, and all the goodness you deserve.
Australia hold a special place in my heart. I have been incredibly fortunate to have traveled to 14 different countries over the years, and I can genuinely say each one has touched me on some level. But in 2010, after spending a few weeks in Sydney, Brisbane, Byron Bay, Cairns, and Palm Cove on a trip to Australia I took with the band for whom my husband works, I’d found my place. From snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef to riding high over the canopy of the rain forest to hanging out at a koala rescue sanctuary to visiting a tea tree oil plantation to chilling at one of the best music festivals I’ve ever attended, our visit to Australia was hands down the best trip of my life. Whenever someone asks where I’d choose to live if it could be anywhere in the world, Byron Bay is my immediate answer. I love Australia. So, so much.
But even if I’d never had the chance to step foot there, it would be impossible not to feel heartache for the victims of the devastating fires going on. I haven’t been able stop thinking about it (and there have been several episodes of me bursting into tears because I’ve felt so helpless). I know most of you can relate. I felt like it would be wrong to post anything else on here until I addressed what was happening and did some research on ways to help. Here are 7 ways I’ve found that we can all do something to make a difference.
1. The Australian Red Cross is accepting donations to its Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund. This fund has helped send volunteers and staff communities affected by the fires, and has also helped give support to displaced people, along with emergency grants to help people with immediate needs.
2. WIRES (New South Wales Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.), which is Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization, is accepting emergency donations to increase its capacity to help animals affected by the bushfires.
3. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is also accepting donations toward their relief efforts in New South Wales. When the bushfires clear, the WWF will work to restore homes and care for injured wildlife.
4. The Australian organization GIVIT matches donated goods with items that specifically requested by victims of the fires. Learn more and give right here.
5. Save the Children is accepting donations to build special spaces where kids affected by the bushfires can play and discuss their experiences in a supportive environment while their parents work on rebuilding and recovering from their losses.
6. NSW Rural Fire Service is accepting donations to emergency efforts and nonemergency community work.
7. The nonprofit Koalas in Care Inc. normally helps approximately 65 koalas every year, but is taking in many more koalas as a result of the bushfires. Donate here.
One final thing before I go… I don’t discuss politics much here, but guys, climate change is real. The end. The fires happening in Australia are just one of countless incredibly serious consequences of damage that humans have done. Please, for the future of our planet, vow in 2020 to make changes – whether big or small – in your daily life that keep the earth in mind. And most importantly, vote with the planet in mind. We’re talking about our home, which is in desperate need of repair before it’s too late.
This post is sponsored by General Mills, but all opinions are my own.
I know I’ve talked about this before, but when I think back to the holidays of my childhood, the memories that are most vivid are those involving family traditions. Those fun, festive activities we did together each holiday season felt so magical and full of light, and I knew from the moment my kids were born that I wanted to create memorable holiday traditions for them as well. Thanks to Chex™ cereal from Walmart I was able to do just that.
A couple of years ago, we started a holiday tradition where we make Chex™ Mix (if you’re a regular reader here then you’re likely well-aware of my affinity for Chex™ Mix) and watch a holiday movie together while we snack on it. This year, I decided we’d take our original Chex™ Mix recipe up a notch and create a sweet, very holiday-themed version inspired by our favorite winter drink (hot chocolate) and one of my favorite holiday movies, The Polar Express™. The kids and I had so much making this together, and the finished product is the perfect holiday movie snack; it’s like eating a mug of yummy hot chocolate with the most delicious crunch! It’s also a great snack to serve at holiday parties, or to pack up in cute cellophane bags tied with pretty ribbon to give as holiday gifts.
The Polar Express™ Hot Chocolate Chex™ Mix
4 cups Rice Chex™ or Corn Chex™ cereal
4 cups Chocolate Chex™ cereal
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup hot cocoa mix
1 bag (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup white vanilla baking chips
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup semisweet chocolate nonpareils
1/2 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies (optional)
Line 2 large rimmed baking pans with waxed paper. In large bowl, mix cereals. In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and cocoa mix.
In small microwavable bowl, microwave semisweet chocolate chips uncovered on High 45 seconds; stir. Continue microwaving in 15-second increments, stirring after each, until chips are melted and smooth. Pour onto cereal in bowl; mix thoroughly to coat. Transfer mixture to 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag; add powdered sugar mix to bag. Seal bag; shake to coat. Spread in one of the pans to cool completely, about 30 minutes.
In small microwavable bowl, microwave white vanilla baking chips uncovered on High 30 seconds; stir. Continue microwaving in 15-second increments, stirring after each, just until chips are starting to melt and can be stirred smooth. Stir in marshmallows; coat completely. Spread in remaining pan, spreading mini marshmallows into small clusters; let stand about 30 minutes or until coating is set.
In large serving bowl, mix cereal, marshmallow clusters, chocolate nonpareils, and crushed peppermint candy. Store at room temperature in covered container.
- Chocolate nonpareils come in a small and larger size, and either will work in this recipe. (We used the small ones.)
- If melted white vanilla baking chips are too hot, you may need to cool slightly before adding marshmallows to coat.
All of the delicious ingredients in this recipe combine perfectly to create what my daughter has declared to be “the yummiest holiday sweet treat snack ever,” but the key ingredients are the Rice Chex™ (or Corn Chex™, if you prefer to use that variety) and the Chocolate Chex™. Rice Chex™ has been one of my favorite cereals since I was a child, and we eat it for breakfast regularly around here. (My kids love the way it tastes. I love that it contains no artificial colors or flavors, no artificial preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, and is gluten free!) I only recently tried the Chocolate Chex™, but I was an instant fan. I love snacking on it as an after dinner treat, and it can be used for countless dessert recipes. (And like Corn and Rice Chex™, it’s free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, contains no high fructose corn syrups, and is also gluten free. Woot!)
As much as we all love eating The Polar Express™ Hot Chocolate Chex™ Mix, the best part is making it together as a family. We put on holiday music, and the four of work together to measure the ingredients, stir and mix and create, and arrange in hot chocolate mugs to eat while we watch The Polar Express™ in our pajamas. It doesn’t get much better.
Head to your local Walmart or click here and stock up on Chex™ cereals for all of your holiday snacking needs. Happy holiday snacking and tradition making, friends.
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, THE POLAR EXPRESS © WBEI. A CHRISTMAS STORY © Turner Ent Co. ELF © New Line Prod. Inc.