Salsa Verde Chicken Taco & SW Slaw

So we are on a clean out our pantry, freezer, and fridge month of meals. I am buying the minimum amount of groceries but also trying to keep us well fed. Our freezer is stocked full of meat so we making do with what we have and trying to maintain without random trips to the grocery store just because we want an extra ingredient that usually ends up with an extra $10-50 spent.

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So last night we made salsa verde chicken tacos with a southwest slaw. Both recipes were created as I went based on flavor as I cooked. I tend to cook better this way, rather than following a recipe. I have an idea of how I want dishes to turn out, so its easier for me to add things I know that’ll get me to that final flavor rather than search through recipes until I find one that is close to the flavor I am tryng to obtain. I feel they turned out well, a little bit of spice, crunch from the slaw and sweetness from the carrots.

Almost everyone enjoyed them,  two of the three kids at least tried them. Which is a win for me, one horribly picky 6 year old and two threenagers are not an easy crowd to please. They are not liking me right now as I am in the “eat it or eat nothing” phase –  as I am not going to become a short order cook.

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I used my rock crok from Pampered Chef to do this meal from start to finish. I have to rave here a minute (not an advertisement, I just love this pan!) about this crock. It cooks everything perfectly from soups to crusty french bread, it can go from the stovetop to the oven and I’ve never had anything burn or come out dry.

This recipe really started because Mark and I had a weekend free of kids this past weekend, it was FABULOUS! But we went for Mexican and were totally underwhelmed. We were hoping for a good authentic place, several had recommended this so called place as an authentic place, right here in our city without having to drive all the way in to downtown Minneapolis for tacos. Well it was not authentic, it was not good, even the chips and dip were blahhh. We had high hopes and both left shaking out heads no, no! So to take away the bad taco experience I naturally set to the kitchen to make one that was ten times better. While this is by no means authentic Mexican, it was much better than the greasy, soggy, overly cheesy Mexican from Saturday.

So back to the prep, I used to chicken breasts but you could use thighs here as well and have it turn out just as tasty. I salted and peppered the chicken, then browned it in the hot crock, dumped in some salsa verde, garlic, onions, and chicken broth. I let this simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half.

 

After the hour and a half mark, I removed all the chicken and shredded it with two forks. I placed it all back into the rockcrok to stay warm until my husband arrived home. I really think that by adding your shredded meat back into the liquid for 20-30 minutes really helps to keep it from drying out.

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We have a house divided on how to wrap your tacos while Mark and I prefer the traditional corn tortilla, our kids still prefer flour. There is something about a corn tortilla that reminds me of my trip to Mexico with my family in high school. Actually, I believe it was technically Baja California, but it was my first experience for what REAL tacos taste like. The sound of the ocean, my first taste of a corn tortilla taco, no Ortega seasoning packet, just real flavor from real seasonings, oh and the memory of my mom thinking she was never going to get back into the US (she left her ID at my aunts…but that’s another story)

Tacos are not about hiding the grade of meat in an abundance of herbs and spices, but about simplicity and how to allow ingredients shine in their natural flavors. With that being said I did make a delicious tangy slaw that yes, has a bunch of spices in it.

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This slaw was born out of trying to clean out my fridge. I find it cheaper to buy a head of cabbage that’ll last up to two weeks in the fridge than pre-bagged coleslaw mix. The dressing is not traditional, its not anything but a concoction I made from an overabundance of condiments living inside my fridge. I have a bottle of coleslaw dressing that has about 1 tbsp missing from it, not sure why I have it but its there. So I used that as my base for the dressing then added vinegar, cumin, chili powder and paprika to mask that horrible bottle flavor of coleslaw dressing. Again, we are cleaning out the fridge and pantry otherwise I would have just used lime juice to dress this slaw and I would have went to the store to buy cilantro to add but I am forbidden in doing so…no really, I think my husband may divorce me if I do not stay with my budget/plan I devised.

 

Recipes

Salsa Verde TacosSalsa Verde Chicken Tacos

Southwest Slaw

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Enjoy!

 

Wyatt and Isaac Turn 3!

My twins turned three this year…three!!! I am not even sure how that is possible, I just found out yesterday we were having them. No really, time has flown by with these two. They are growing up to be such sweet boys.

Wyatt is definitely the crazy one of the two, he keeps me on my toes. While he is not interested in learning things such as numbers, colors, or letters he can tell you anything about every species of dinosaur. He will talk your ear off as you laugh hysterically at him, as he has no filter which at times can be humiliating and hilarious all at once. He is the best snuggler, when he will sit still long enough to do so. He goes from 0-60 in .001 seconds.  He still is a fiery ball of ME right NOW as he has been since the day he was born. Has the sweetest hearts especially when he sees babies. He loves dinosaurs, trains, Hot Wheels, and everything BOY! You can also catch him rocking his baby doll or feeding her with the sweetest of sweets.

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Issac is the sweetest little boy, his laugh will turn any crabby person smiling again. He can count to 10, name all his colors, identify all his shapes. and even several letters in the alphabet. He loves puzzles,  Jake & the Neverland pirates, and Legos. He is far more patient than his twin brother but do not be fooled by those big brown eyes for when he gets mad stand back. Isaac is always the first to run and hug me when I walk  through that door, even if it was to take out the garbage. Every time he yells, “Momma you came back, I love you so!” He is our outdoor boy, he loves to climb, swing, ride his bike and play in the mud. He is also my little helper in the kitchen, always wanting to see what I am doing and help when he can.

 

These two are the best of friends and the worst of friends, they can go from being so sweet to each other to an all out full wrestling match over a simple toy. We have loved watching these two interact, how they help each other when one is down, and how nurturing they are to each other as well as their big sister. I hope they can remain this close forever.

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Happy birthday to my Sweet Twins! This year they have become obsessed with Hot Wheels! Team Hot Wheels on Netflix has a Wyatt and so it has become MY show, according to Wyatt. So our third birthday theme was born.I took to my computer as I have for all the other birthdays and started designing. Microsoft word and Picassa have become my free favorites to use.

We went with the concession stand theme for the food. We had hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, popcorn, caramel corn, cotton candy, soft pretzels, peanuts, and of course cookies. I bought everything this year except the cookies and cake, which I baked and decorated myself.

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I found a checkered table cloth at Hobby Lobby that worked perfectly with out theme. I also bought the plates and silverware at Hobby Lobby, but found the smaller drink cups at Party City. Surprisingly all the serve ware I already own and it matched perfectly.

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This perfect drink dispenser was given to me by great friend Betsy and it worked wonderfully! The Refueling Station Punch my sister found on Pinterest and it was a great recipe. It was easy and tasted great, only I did not add the extra sugar and I felt all the soda and concentrates had more than enough.

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I bought these pretzels at Costco in the freezer section and they could not have turned out any easier or tastier.

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Costco for the win again, Smart Pop for cheap and in an enormous amounts. While the cotton candy I found at the Dollar Tree. img_4063

Caramel Corn and tortilla chips I bought from Wal-mart. According to my grandfather this was, “the best damn caramel corn he’s ever had!”

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Costco for the win again for traditional Virginia peanuts. After living in VA for so long sorry Planters, but your peanuts suck! Virginia peanuts all the way!

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I did not have a true race car cookie cutter but the little bug one I had in my play-doh box. A few years back I had bought a giant container of letters and number cookie cutters for my classroom. I used these to make the three cookies, of course I used Isaac’s favorite color orange and then did blue to go along with the color scheme.

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Mark and my dad grilled hot dogs and hamburgers that I placed in the crock to keep warm so we were not cooking while the guests were here.

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I also had my little dipper going with Nacho Cheese sauce that went well with both nachos and the soft pretzels. Last but not least was the condiment station, anyone else hate that word? My homemade pickles, onions, mustard and ketchup to top those dogs and burgers.

 

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All the kids received their Hot Wheel car as their thank you from the boys. I made the tags again in Microsoft Word by finding a blank Hot Wheels logo then adding the “wheelie” in to the logo. It was quite easy and I “wheelie” liked how they turned out.

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This cake was really simple too, it make not look like it but I followed this tutorial from Pinterest. Eva and I scoured the city looking for blue and orange M&M’s but everywhere was out of those two colors…coincidence? I dunno but we ended up at Party City and got sixlets instead, which in my opinion are not as good as M&M’s but it was not my cake. Lots of food coloring and decorating bottles and the cake was complete.

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The boys loved it! Wyatt just could not leave the cars on there, he was highly upset that there was frosting all over the cars.

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I had also found this cute track tape at Hobby Lobby which we used to make a track for the cars down the hallway.

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All in all it was a fabulous party, the kids were crazy, the adults were fed so I believe it was a success. Toys were flying everywhere, kids were screaming, and the joys squeals of two little boys could be heard above and beyond all the normal party clatter.

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Wyatt enjoyed having Great-Grandpa there to help him open his gifts. He was so sweet to those boys and Wyatt fell in love with Great-Grandpa so much!

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But that did not deter him from his favorite person of all times. He sticks to my dad like glue, he follows him everywhere. He has become my dad’s little shadow.

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Wyatt received this undies from his Auntie Elizabeth and insisted on putting them on instantly. He wore them for the rest of his party, all the through clean up and into the evening.

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During clean up Isaac insisted on having all “my orange” balloons. This little cutie is OBSESSED with orange. He’ll only eat off the orange plate, drink from the orange cup, and eat with the orange silverware.

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We cannot forget about big sister Eva, who was a great sport through the entire party knowing it was her brother’s day not her’s.

 

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Its hard to imagine that these teeny, tiny little boys are not teeny, tiny anymore. Now they are strong, big, silly, crazy, determined, smart, independent, wacky, goofy, stubborn, bright 3 year old boys!

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We love you two like crazy!!

Pumpkin Week

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So this week we did pumpkins. The boys had a lot of fun with this. Isaac who has declared the color orange HIS was in heaven. Anything and everything we did was orange, so everything and anything we did was also MINE according to him. We learned a lot about sharing and taking turns because everyone can like, see and play with orange things not just Isaac.

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Monday we had a play date for my local mom’s club. These ladies are my saving grace for sanity lately. It is so wonderful to have found local mom’s with kids. I am not joking when I say I’d rather deal with high school dating all over again than to have to mom date! Not an easy task to do especially for an anxiety ridden introvert like myself. So Monday morning I packed up all three boys and headed to our play date, which amazingly enough was a pumpkin craft and book date. We read the book Splat the Cat and the Pumpkin-Picking Plan such a cute book. Wyatt gets so excited when reading books he describes everything on the page and when I say describe I mean “LOOK MOMMA BIG PUMPKIN, LOOK MOMMA CAT, LOOK MOMMA TRACTOR, LOOK MOMMA HAT” and so on. I am not sure that any heard the actual story. Isaac yelled ORANGE for most of it and Sam was too busy scarfing down orange cheese poofs to care about the book.

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Once the book was finished we started on the craft. Wyatt like I expected took off to play at the train table because trains trump a craft any day. Isaac worked hard on his pumpkin and so did Sam.

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We managed to get out of the house TWICE in one day, I surprised myself with this one. We met my mom’s club again for the park clean up. Our group adopts a park and is in charge to keep it clean and report any damage or broken equipment. So we let the kids run through the park looking for garbage. Now either have the cleanest park in the city or it was our lucky day. Between the 12 of us we found 3 pieces of garbage. I am not really sure any of the boys realized they were to be looking for garbage but Eva did a great job searching.

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Tuesday we had a normal day at the house. I rummaged through my old teaching supplies and found my bag of laminated pumpkins in various sizes. I had the boys sit in a circle, we sorted the pumpkins based on size. We learned what small, medium, and large pumpkins were. Each boy would get a pumpkin, they needed to find the one it matched with and leave it in the pile. I had high hopes for this but seriously I am working with 3 two year old boys. They lasted an all of 5 pumpkins in and then somehow they realized if they sat on them and wiggled they moved across the carpet. It was a sit to be seen and I am sure they enjoyed every minute.

 

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We also sang Five Little Pumpkins by Raffi, they really did think that was cute. I did not let them see the actual video and may do that Wednesday as I plan to sing the song daily with them hoping they may learn it to sing for Halloween. It was one of Eva’s first songs and performances for her preschool class.

 

 

 

I could tell they needed to move – what kids doesn’t. Each day we work on our numbers and ABC’s. We sing the ABC’s a few times each morning. We point to the chart, find words/pictures on the chart.

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We then count with out number chart, find the objects that I ask them to and finally end with some counting and exercises to get them moving. By this time is it free play for them so I can get some lunch started and them off to bed so I can revel in the silence while they all still nap.

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We also play find my shape. I yell out I see a (color) _____. Such as I see a yellow circle, to which every time they yell, “its the moon!”

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We also made pumpkin bread this week. The boys were enjoying helping add things into the mixer, but then Grandma and Papa arrived with donuts in hand so I was left behind to finish the bread on my own.

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Isaac would not let me have that pumpkin so I could open it and they coudl get it into the mixer. He kept yelling, “my pumpkin can!” at me but eventually he let it go.

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This pumpkin bread is as delicious as it looks! Oh and we added mini chocolate chips to convince Eva to eat it.

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We also headed to the pumpkin patch with my mom’s club. We went to Packer Family Farms and it was a fabulous place.

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Small, great activities for the littles and FREE. Isaac loved the inflatable slide. So much so we had to bribe he off of it to move on to the other activities.

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Wyatt loved all the Halloween blow ups, he ran from blow up to blow up screaming, “HALLOWEEN!!”

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There were tractors to climb on and hay bales to climb onto. It was a great quick trip for us and definitely we will be going back next year!

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This slide was a hit, Isaac was far more concerned withe hay sticking to his mittens than actually going down the slide. But Sam enjoyed this part the best, I believe.

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The boys took a hand at pumpkin bowling, not very successful but at least they tried.

 

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A trip anywhere with my twins would not be worth going unless one or both of them decided to run off and make me chase them. So to make sure I am always paying attention Wyatt made sure he took off for the woods, through briars and thorns you just to make sure I didn’t actually get to say taking them in public was fun and easy!  See them here out making their way through the woods, Wyatt is in the lead like usual.

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We trekked that wagon all over their lawn searching for the perfect three pumpkins, in the end we found just that and headed home.

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All three pumpkins, plus balloons, in tow for the greatest ride home. As they all lost their balloons shouting for me to get them but also making sure I knew each time a pumpkin rolled this way or that. It was an exciting ride home.

 

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Once we picked out our pumpkins and headed home I of course did the mom thing and made them each sit on the front steps with the pumpkins in an attempt to actually get a cute photo….Wyatt had other plans.

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Isaac was kind enough to me and smiled all perfectly and cute.

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We also cut open a pumpkin to see what was on the inside of a pumpkin, what did it feel like, and so forth.

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Sam would not touch it for the life of him, Wyatt thought it was icky and Isaac yelled, “ewww!” I thought to myself, “you three pick you noses like its your job. Some of you eat those boogers, and yet you think this is icky?”

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Wyatt though surprises me daily with his vocabulary and things he says. I was explaining that these were the pumpkin seeds on the inside. Wyatt looks at me and says, “Nope, birds eat seeds.” Yep birds eat seeds just like these, but he was not buying it.

 

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Here are a few other fun things we did this week too. We headed to our favorite TRAIN park and rode our big wheels and trikes in the drive way.

 

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Wyatt has a new found obsession, he likes to get the mail, only he cannot get into the mail box so he cleans out everyone’s newspaper boxes at the bottom and brings them to me. If I try putting them back he is not a happy camper, so I need to go out there to deliver everyone’s newspaper back to them after he is in bed.

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Next week is a mixture of Halloween themes. Witches, monsters, Halloween parties and lots more!

Apple Week

So two weeks ago I promised you we were doing an apple week. Well we started Monday with apples by Tuesday I had Isaac randomly throwing up all over my living room. On Wednesday Wyatt sliced his foot open at about 7:30 am while I was cleaning the oven – yep I am that mom who cleans her oven before 8 am because everyone is in a cartoon trance and will not bother me. Thursday I cracked a tooth that ended up in an emergency tooth extraction that left me completely useless all day Thursday and Friday. So apples got moved to the next week since we only had Monday to do anything with apples.

 

So here is what we accomplished in two weeks.

 

I took toilet paper rolls and bent them the shape of apples, the kids dipped them into red paint then stamped them on to the paper. I then added some glue so they could add stems to each apple. Isaac loved this craft and was very meticulous about all his painting and stem placement. Wyatt was MIA, he wanted nothing to do with apples – NOTHING!

 

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We also made applesauce pancakes and sausages for lunch one day. The kids loved, loved, loved these.

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Wyatt eating the only way he does this days, in random fly-by’s. I swear he never stops moving or talking these days.

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I got adventurous for lunch and made apple, chicken, cheddar quesadillas with cinnamon apple straws. The kids ate them surprisingly, it have been because I made homemade honey mustard for them to dip them into. I will say this though, they were delicious!!

 

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Random on the spot recipe so here is what I did. Take two tortillas and top one with a few sprinkles of cheddar, top with very thinly sliced apples, shredded chicken and then a tiny more cheese so they stick together. Top with the second tortilla and place onto the griddle until golden brown.

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We also read Ten Apples On Top by Dr Seuss. The boys loved this book, we have been working hard on counting now for about 2 weeks. They still mess up the numbers but are doing so well. They loved on each page how they got to count each apple on the heads.

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Of course they had to point to each apple as they counted them in the book.

 

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By about page 4 we lost Wyatt, surprise, surprise! So he did not actually get to do the Ten Apples on Top like the other two. Some days the battle with three two year olds is not worth the fight. So Wyatt won and everyone played dress up instead.

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We also made apples with paper plates and torn construction paper. I drizzled glue all over the plates, then the boys placed the torn paper over the plate to stick. Not sure if Wyatt had the most efficient way or the laziest, but he chose to just throw his paper plate glue side down into the pile of torn paper and yell, “done!” and walked away. To say my twins are alike is highly amusing, because they are as different as night and day! Crafts are one thing that it shows up in weekly. Isaac is a perfectionist, perfectly placing items where they should be. Wyatt could care less, lets just get it done and move on. Good luck preschool teachers, good luck!

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We made applesauce muffins together one day as well. I forgot to take any pictures of the kids measuring, pouring, or scooping. They love to help in the kitchen, while its messy it is definitely fun to do.

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Next up pumpkins, so check back to see what we do with them.

 

 

 

Roisen Baby Shower

This past spring my best friend, Betsy, called with the best news ever, “I am pregnant!” I squealed, she cried, she squealed, I cried. I am so happy for her and the first thing that came out of my mouth was, “I am hosting your baby shower!”

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See this best friend of my mine has been with me through thick and thin, we’ve stayed friends through high school, college, boyfriends, different states, different countries – we’ve seen and done it all while still maintaining the a great relationship. See this fabulous picture of her that was THE best trip ever!

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See on a whim I decided to move to Virginia Beach to teach in the summer of 2006. Betsy and I drove all the way from MN to VA with everything I could fit into the back of my VW Jetta. It was the trip of a lifetime with memories that’ll last forever. We had a blast from mad libs to calamari on the beach once we arrived. She’s one to drop everything and help you in a moments notice, she’ll make sure you smile when you are having a bad day, she’s also the one that will keep refilling your wine glass when you are not looking. I called her when I first found out I was pregnant with Eva, long before I even called Mark- I know bad but seriously I couldn’t tell him over the phone and I needed my girl! I called her the instant I got engaged, she’s my go-to, I can tell her anything friend who gives me honest and sometimes the hard truth but that is why I love her so much. So yes, back to the  baby shower.

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Betsy and I brainstormed for a long time on colors, themes, games, food and we tossed around several ideas. I wanted it to be just perfect, I wanted it to scream, “Betsy” and I could not nail that color/theme combo. So I took to my computer to get some ideas for the invite hoping inspiration would come to me. I started to design a couple of different layouts with different colors and patterns. They all did not work, then I stumbled upon this invite on etsy and knew I had just found the perfect theme. Betsy and Kate spade go together like PB&J or bread and butter. It was perfect and when I showed Betsy the invites she agreed!

 

These invites were so much fun to design and make. I think they turned out fabulous. The fonts I used were Scriptina Pro and Simplicity. I chose to design it all in MS Word using shapes, lines, inserting of clipart, you know the real pro way to design an invite in this day in age. But it turned out fabulous!

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Sorry for the bad photos but I did not take any of the printed ones so these are of the computer screen. img_9401

 

After finding the theme the decorations came easy!  I made all the paper flowers for the photo booth and windows using this tutorial  and I will say they were way easier than I would have imagined! For the baby signs I used MS word again taking advantage of word art and switching out backgrounds for the letters.

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This old window that the sign hung on was my sister’s and when he old office in Minneapolis got new windows she grabbed one, thankfully she didn’t want it and now is the perfect artwork for our living room!

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This window is our menu board by our dining table and so it did not say “BABY ROISEN  WHAT’S FOR DINNER?” I made some smaller flowers the same way I did for the large ones to cover the “what’s for dinner phrase”

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I even repurposed our wreath for our door and it so happened to just perfectly go with the theme!

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Menu planning was the best part here, I had so many ideas of what I wanted to do, how to serve them, and so on. We ended up with our menu being a good assortment of both sweet and savory. I also headed to World Market to buy a great assortment of teas so everyone could choose their own tea.

Here is the food table and all the assorted goodies we had to eat.

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The food was fantastic, or so they say. I realized nothing can stop me when planning a party. On Wednesday I cracked a tooth that ended up with an emergency extraction on Thursday morning. I did not get to taste any of these great foods as I was stuck on a soft food diet and some great painkillers. But I was thankful that I am not a procrastinator as I had prepped everything a week in advance, froze what I could leaving only the apple roses, egg & chicken salad for the day before as well as the tea sandwiches. No excuses, only the best for great friends!

 

We had a great time with all the ladies, it was the perfect little tea party. Everyone got time to sit and converse and enjoy each other’s company. I really think it was the perfect little shower!

 

I had gotten some fabric markers and onesies for the ladies to decorate to send some cute messages home with Betsy. I believe everyone had a great time making their onesie.

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They turned out great, but I completely forgot to take pictures of them once they were finished. img_9362

 

The table setting turned out great. I set up my grandmother’s old table, covered it with a white table cloth then I used some fabric I had left over from my daughter’s 5th birthday party. If you have not seen that one look here.

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All the ladies sitting down to tea to celebrate Betsy! Such a beautiful, smart, and kind group of young women!

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For fun I took some black and white wrapping paper I found at Hobby Lobby, taped it to the wall and hung some more flowers for a quick and easy photo booth wall. img_9343

I made sure that everyone got their photo with the Momma to Be

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We had a fabulous time, I also made a favor for all the ladies to take home. We all want to celebrate once baby Roisen makes her debut.

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So when we all get that text or call from Betsy we can open that bottle and send our cheers! I even sent two bottles for the hospital for Aaron and Betsy to celebrate themselves.

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Betsy got some great gifts, she has some great friends who love her dearly!

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Thank you ladies for coming to celebrate baby Roisen with us!

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Here are links to all the recipes for the menu

Mini quiche        Egg salad bruschetta (no pesto)       Chicken Salad on mini croissants

Pulled pork on sweet potato biscuits   Herbed cream cheese cucumber tea sandwiches

Apple roses     Mocha cupcakes       Lemon and thyme shortbread

Black and white almond cookies      English scones with clotted cream and jam

 

 

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Dinosaur Week

So its been way too long since I have posted. To say we are busy is an understatement. Eva started kindergarten this fall and is loving it. Between drop offs, volunteering and pick ups I have been stretched to the max. I am loving the new routine.

 

In addition to Eva starting school I decided to start babysitting for our neighbor. We had spoke about this since spring of last year and I finally said yep lets add a little more crazy into our already crazy world. So now I have three little boys all day and our newest addition is only 6 months older than my twins so its fun to see the three of them play, fight, not share, share, run, push and pull.

 

So I chose to start theme weeks within the house where we have lots of fun with books, crafts, food and exploration of the theme we are doing. This first week is dinosaurs because what little boy does not love dinosaurs. The boys are eating it up, literally! I found dinosaur chicken nuggets at Aldi this last weekend and its kind of what sparked this whole lets play and learn together.

 

Dinosaur week

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We have eaten dinosaurs (chicken nuggets) and dino eggs (grapes) for lunch which the boys devoured and asked for more!

 

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I found a very cute craft where I cut out dinosaurs and glued them to the paper. Next, for the stegosaurus’ plates we used the boys’ hand prints.

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They loved it and surprisingly enough everyone was patient enough to wait their turn, no paint was spilled and none covered my house.

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I was amazed at how well three 2 year olds did with just me and paint. Seriously, how cute are they?

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We also have seen what types of footprints dinosaurs leave when they walk. I had some modeling clay around from our trip to the Crayola Experience so we rolled it out and stamped our dinosaurs into it to see how big or small the prints the dinosaurs left for us.

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We also  decided to make some dinosaur cookies as well. The boys mixed, rolled and cut the dough. All three of them had a blast baking with me.

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I will say this baking with three two year olds is nothing short of crazy. We had flour all over us, the counter, the chairs and the floor. It was fun and messy and that’s what makes the best memories. img_9084

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Sorry about the star but he’s our new little man and until I get mom’s approval he’ll be seen as a star.

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After rolling and baking they turned out great and the kids loved them

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As you can tell Wyatt is our cookie monster, he ate 4 and it would’ve been more had I not hid the rest.

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Here are the cookies we made, I actually used our play-doh cookie cutters to make the dinosaurs.

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We had a dinosaur picnic on Friday with dinosaur pb&j’s, more dinosaur eggs. The boys loved it!

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Here’s our lunch-scape. I totally went all out for this lunch because we were supposed to be at our mom’s club picnic but I am hacking a lung so we stayed home.

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I also made dinosaur eggs using coffee grounds, flour, salt and water. I used these directions and I will say they did not harden after 30 minutes in the oven, nor 4 hours so we just made do. The outside was dry and the inside was a tad gooey, but it did not matter the boys loved it!

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We waited until Eva came home from school for us to crack open our dinosaur eggs. The boys loved using the hammers to try to crack it open. In the end we truly had to just pull them out. They did not get hard like I had anticipated.

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Eva found the first dinosaur and then showed the boys how to open theirs.
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Isaac was quite funny during this as he was determined to hammer that thing out. I even thought at one point he was going to hammer a hole into the deck rather than break that egg open.

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He finally gave up and tore it in half to get his baby dino out. Don’t mind his mouth full of food here. His favorite after school activity is to bring Eva’s lunch box into the house and clean out any leftovers she did not eat.

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Wyatt also had a blast with it, he kept chanting “baby dinosaur, baby dinosaur”

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When he finally broke his into two pieces he was tickled to actually find a dinosaur on the inside, I do not think he actually believed me when I told him these were dinosaur eggs.

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In this photo he is actually saying, “oh baby, oh baby!” He thinks anything that is tiny is a baby and loves all things baby – from real babies to stuffed animals. He even finds rocks and worms that are small and comes running to us yelling, “baby worm, baby rock”

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Eva being a great big sister helping the boys get their eggs open.

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This is what the “egg” looked like. It was hard on the outside but this soft inside, not quite runny but not hard either. So next time possibly a little more research on the better recipe, but all in all it was a great first week of themes. The kids definitely enjoyed playing with dinosaurs all week.

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Next week our theme is apples so stay tuned to see what and where we go for apples!

 

 

 

*the large dinosaurs we found at the Dollar Store and the baby/mini dinosaurs came from Party City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 pasta dish, 3 ways

Its been 2 whole months since I turned on my computer and created a post, summer has taken over our house. Playdates, sprinklers and screaming kids is what my days are jammed packed with. With summer in full swing I am getting lazy in my meal prep and desire to cook.

This past Thursday we made a pasta dish, one of our go to, easy pasta dishes. Parmesan pasta with green beans, peas, and chicken sausage.

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It’s as simple as this: pasta, a few tablespoons of butter, a spoonful of the pasta cooking water, a few sprinkles of Parmesan cheese and salt/pepper – seriously that is it. Add whatever vegetables we have on hand, meat or sausage. For this dish I used green beans from our garden, frozen peas and spinach and chicken sausages. I sauteed the sausage and vegetables together and tossed them pasta and ‘sauce’ above and that was it. Simple flavors and fresh ingredients. I served this with a side salad to guarantee we would have leftovers as well as made an entire box of pasta, used all 4 sausages, and threw in extra veggies because I didn’t want to cook Friday evening and thought I could re-purpose it for dinner.

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So our Parmesan sausage pasta became mac and cheese Friday evening. I made a quick bechamel sauce, aka white sauce, added some freshly grated Parmesan cheese to it, topped it with some toasted panko breadcrumbs and had a delicious mac and cheese that we served with a side salad.

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It was creamy, nutty and the crunchy topping was the best part. Much to my surprise we still had about 1-2  servings left of the mac n cheese after our second meal. Mark said I bet we can do something with this too, but what. We both agreed we have always wanted to try to waffle mac n cheese so we knew what that third meal of this pasta would be!

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Saturday evening I mixed the mac n cheese together with the topping so that the breadcrumbs would get mixed in and hold the waffles together better. I will just say I was a huge skeptic and figured I would be scraping bits of mac n cheese out of every crevice  of my waffle iron but I was wrong. It worked great! They browned nicely giving it a crispy crust, they were soft and melty in the middle and actually stayed together. It took some skill to get them out in one piece onto the cookie rack but once they cooled slightly they stayed together really nicely.

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So here’s to taking left-overs and creating new!!

 

Pantry Meals

So this week I challenged myself not to grocery shop but to use what we had in the freezer, fridge, and pantry. I needed to clean up some of those items that have been in there too long or just getting overlooked.

So on the following Friday I sat down during nap time to take inventory of everything we had in the house; full bags, half-full, even a handful left everything was written down. So from there I started creating a menu placing recipes on my scribbled out menu planner for the week. After a few revisions and careful placements I finally had my menu planned.

Milk is not something we can live without so I knew we would be making a Costco trip to get our milk; $10 for milk for the week. After I took inventory of our fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh peas, mushrooms, onions, 2.5lbs potatoes and 3 carrots, I knew that we needed just a few to round out our menu. Eva and I hopped in the car and headed to Aldi where we purchased bananas, apples, and cabbage; an additional $7 spent. So we spent a total of $17 for the week, much different than our $85.24 I spent last week.

Our menu looks like this:

 

Sunday: breakfast- toast and eggs; lunch- fresh mozzarella, kalamata, and red onion naan pizza w/ parmesan peas; dinner – rotisserie pork loin, parmesan roasted cauliflower and sauteed potatoes

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Monday:breakfast – yogurt with Strawberry Puree and granola; lunch – Chicken broth and noodle soup with fresh mozzarella on english muffin; dinner – broiled tilapia, parmesan couscous and frozen broccoli

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Tuesday: breakfast- cereal; lunch-pancakes w/ strawberry puree and sausages; dinner- Crispy Pork Tacos (leftover from Sunday’s dinner) with creamy lime slaw (without cilantro because we had none) and frozen veggie saute

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Wednesday: breakfast- toast with peanut butter and strawberry rhubarb butter (homemade on Sunday and delicious); lunch- chicken nuggets with tator tots & grapes (playdate here with more twins!); dinner – Ramen Bowls with teriyaki chicken(Crazy Cuizine from Costco), snap peas, carrots, cabbage and red onion

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Thursday: breakfast- yogurt and granola; lunch- mac n cheese with peas; dinner- Hoisin Chicken with fried rice – our easy go to is usually Trader Joe’s veggie fried rice but after this latest recall we tried Pf Chang’s in the freezer section and it is fabulous as well.

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Friday- breakfast- bagel with peanut butter and apples; lunch- at my parent’s so free meal; dinner- frozen pizza, breadsticks and salad

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St. Patrick’s Day Fun

So last year I started the whole leprechaun comes to the house thing and felt I needed to continue it since it was all Eva could talk about in the week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. This year Eva wanted to catch a leprechaun so set out to make a trap. We used an old cereal box and a bunch of construction paper. She had a blast decorating it once we found what we wanted to make after a quick google search.

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She set out some gold coins she had to lure him into the trap

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I love this “uh mom seriously you need to take another photo” look

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And here is what the leprechaun left her and the boys

DSC01340The day before we made green yogurt for our breakfast and also mixed up some pudding that we added green to as well. She was pretty pumped this year to help out with all the food.

So this year instead of a leprechaun hunt we went for the trash the house approach. So the night before Mark and I took streamers and balloons and decorated the entire upstairs with them.

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He put green everywhere, a new table-cloth and streamers through the chandelier

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He even strung them from the patio curtains

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From the kitchen to the living room and even added green fluff to the banister

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The hallway got destroyed too, this was Eva’s first clue that the leprechaun had been to our house

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She ran straight to the box and was a little apprehensive about opening it, I think she truly thought she had a chance in catching the little green man

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As you can see she was pretty excited for all the goodies he left her

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Isaac woke up and was pretty confused as he was unsure what this trap thing was, we had made it during nap time then hid it so they would not ruin it (Eva’s words and idea here)

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He was pretty excited about all the streamers

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He kept following them around the house, squealing of course because its his new-found favorite sound

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Wyatt thought the balloons were way too much fun to just leave on the couch

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Wyatt was also like, “ummm what is this thing?” he was pretty stoked to see there was one last gold nugget for him to eat

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Truly there was quite a bit of candy but I know my kids too well and we hid it in the cabinet to take out one at a time or they all three would have eaten it without taking a breath

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The boys chased and chased the balloons around the house for an eternity!

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Isaac even tried bouncy on it and thankfully it did not break, that would’ve been a fun meltdown to stop

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Eva’s green yogurt she made the day before, we topped it with sprinkles and a dollop of whip cream

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Wyatt loved the yogurt

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Eva did too, Isaac not so much he chose cereal instead.

We played with a balloons, ran around the basement and even had time for a good, green lunch before Eva’s preschool started

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Wyatt love the cream cheese crackers, he even stole Isaac’s off his plate

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They were given a small glass of sprite because it’s green, according to Eva who said we MUST drink it because of its green bottle. I love the expression Isaac made as the bubbles hit his mouth. He did this about 10 more times before it was ‘old news’

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Eva ate all the fruit and veggies but could not be convinced to eat the avocado crackers or the cream cheese ones

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Lunch time fun and as you can see I rarely get a photo of anyone looking and if they are all looking they have crazy faces

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After preschool and naps we brought out the green, yellow, and white play doh with cookie cutters, pipe cleaners, rolling pins, pizza cutters, buttons and jewels

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They loved this. Seriously the three of them started this at 3:30 and were still playing an hour later when Mark arrived home

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They loved the cookie cutters

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I even made a Shamrock for them to play with

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They had a blast just creating, no rules, no expectations just fun

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Wyatt took a hand at trying to thread buttons

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I love the look of concentration on their faces, it took him quite some time to finally get it on there

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I love when Isaac concentrates because he pouts his lips, the further out they are the harder he is trying

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I mean seriously he is so cute!

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I couldn’t resist adding this one to the blog because he has made this “ooo” face since the day he was born.

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We even made leprechaun feet to fool daddy he had been there

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Eva and I decided to see who could make the scarier face

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I think she may have won it

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As much as I would have loved to have corned beef and cabbage sadly I am not sure any of the kids would have eaten it, so we opted to stick with the green theme we had for breakfast and lunch. We made chicken stir fry with all green vegetables

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Here’s out stir fry. It was super easy and very delicious! Lots of veggies, Eva picked out the asparagus, Isaac picked out the zucchini and green beans while Wyatt is still on his strictly meat only phase so he dug through the entire bowl picking out all the chicken even while it was steamy hot. Someday our grocery bill is going to rival the MNDOT’s budget for snow removal.

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Here is the green pudding that Eva made for us the day before, Mark and I could not get over how translucent is was. It was quite gross and disturbing but the kids loved it. Not sure why when you add food coloring to regular vanilla pudding it turns in to that.

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They loved the whipped topping and sprinkles again

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Mark and I agreed that this is one of those things that does not need to be repeated next year, possible mint and chocolate chip ice cream instead

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So to end our green day our we did a green bath with glow sticks. Sadly none of my pcitures were safe for me to put up for you to see them in it. We turned out the lights and they loved it. We had to beg them to get out long after the water was ice cold. The three of them insisted on sleeping with their glow sticks.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2016 we had a fabulous day!

 

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo Wyatt and Isaac are two!!

Wyatt and Isaac are TWO!!

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IMG_0765I had a great time planning this party and I knew when the train obsession started this fall that I wanted to do a train themed party. I searched and searched pinterest for ideas. When I saw the chugga chugga two two theme I knew that was it. I decided to do create their invites because it is cheaper and because I am really, really picky. I knew what I wanted but did not want to pay someone nor did I find exactly what I envisioned. One evening after the boys went to bed I locked myself in the computer, got to work on MS Word and created this!

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I love how it turned out and I even managed to get a cute photo of them both looking and smiling!

I then took the same concept of red, white and blue into the decorations. I again stayed in MS word to design all of these. I know just think if I really had design software what I could do?

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Here is the birthday banner that I made in word. I used a red chevron downloadable paper from Minq+Mode and the font ALWAYS HERE TOO from DaFont

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I made the Herbert Platform 2 sign also in word using the same font. I google imaged trains and train track for the images I used. The felt birthday sign is from Target IMG_1033

I created more track and the train using MS Word again to place over our menu board to add to our decorations. IMG_1034

This is the sign I made for the front door, again with MS Word

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We did a taco bar with Ground Beef Tacos and Chicken tacos. Alongside we served Texas Caviar from Spicy Southern Kitchen, guacamole, Fiesta Ranch dip and a veggie tray.

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For safety for the kids we kept the chicken and beef up on the counter so they could not reach and accidentally get hurt.

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We served tea, lemonade, water, and coffee to keep things simple.

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These are the train cookies that Eva and I decorated on Friday. She did the blue ones and I did the red. She is really good at flooding frosting! She even did all the white two’s for me on Saturday afternoon while I made the party food. We used a cookie cutter we purchased from The Grande Depot in St. Cloud, we made the frosting ourselves using the recipe from All recipes, the cookie dough recipe is an all time favorite of mine. It does not require chilling and does not poof or loose its shape while baking, it is from In Katrina’s Kitchen. The wheels are just mini oreos that are glued on with a dab of royal icing.

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This cake was a nightmare trying to plan and get my vision and expectation to come true. I originally purchased  silicone train car molds, they did not work at all, two box cakes later they were still raw in the middle and burnt on the top, they poofed, they were gooey, it  was terrible. So I used my mini loaf pan from Wilton which I purchased at JoAnn fabrics with a 50% off coupon! Score for me!!! Mark and I spend Saturday night dipping the cakes into candy melt, sticking the oreo wheels on quickly before it melted, and adding either mini m&m’s or mini candy coated chocolate chips. DSC01275

The Front engine is a train we used from our playroom and the railroad signs I downloaded from PBS

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Mark and I created a train photo booth board from supplies from the Dollar Tree. IMG_0886

Zachary loved it!IMG_0763

Isaac squealed in delight seeing the train and being able to play with it. He was quite impressed by it. IMG_0877

Even Makayla was excited to “drive” the train. IMG_0759Wyatt out of everyone was the most excited, he kept sticking his head through the hole yelling “CHOO, CHOO”

IMG_0919Eva had Great-Grandpa putting sand buckets on his head with her, it was really cute to see him play with her and the boys.

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Molly and Wyatt eating cookies together.

IMG_0778The boys with their cakes. Wyatt was very excited about this, Isaac was very unsure of this whole party thing that was happening.

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As you can see here Wyatt loved being the center of attention while Isaac wanted nothing to do with the cake, the song, or anyone being in the room with him.

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Wyatt remained alone, hamming it up for everyone that would watch him.

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So Wyatt blew out all the HAPPY BIRTHDAY candles the best he could!

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Enjoying the cakes!

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Eva was pretty excited about cake and cookies, she may have filled her plate but thankfully she was unable to eat it all. IMG_0829

We got out Great-Grandpa’s table and chairs he made us for the kids to have their own table to eat at. It was quite the hit with our friends, Zachary and Makayla. IMG_0856

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The kids had fun down in the playroom playing dress up, trains, and running club. DSC01272

I am seriously could that get sweeter?! DSC01271

Lunch time with Grandma and Thomas.

For your entertainment, smiles and giggles!

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Your welcome!! Everyone needs a healthy dose of Wyatt!!

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Wyatt and Mommy pre-party and chaos!

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Great-Grandpa was sharing his M&M’s with Wyatt. Not sure who was enjoying it more, Great-Grandpa or Wyatt?

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We tried so hard to get a cute picture of the kids. Isaac was done, finished, over his party so he would not even sit on the couch. Wyatt thought it was a game to keep jumping off the couch, so here was the best one! Two sets of twins and a 5 year old and only 1 is looking!!IMG_0950

No mom!! I don’t want my picture taken!!! These are the shirts I made them for their birthday. The baseball t’s are from Old Navy and I used this tutorial by Must Have Mom to make the t-shirts  IMG_0956

Our lovely little Eva!!

 

We had a great party and thank you to everyone that came and celebrated!!