Monday, September 22, 2014

Fire Station Touch a Truck

Hope everyone had a nice weekend!

Saturday night we had a mini pizza party and did semi-homemade pizzas. Used the Archer Farms whole wheat crust, turned out very well!

Sunday our local fire station hosted a Touch a Truck event. We've been meaning to go to one fooooorevvvverrrr. Harry, as most little kids do, loves firetrucks. Firetruck/fireman were high on his list of Halloween costumes this year (he picked something else in the end, which I'll reveal later).

The department did a great job with the event. We got there about 15 minutes after it started and it was already packed, like 100+ people in our tiny town's fire station.

Here are some pictures.

Yes, I'm the mom who made her kid wear a firetruck shirt to the fire station :). I didn't get a picture, but Harry also got to sit in an ambulance and talked with a paramedic for a bit. We spent about a half hour there which was plenty of time to look at everything. They had one of those fire simulator trailers, which would have been really cool, but we thought Harry was too young to understand.

Winners for the Tropicana giveaway...

Machella and Laeci! Congrats!

Friday, September 19, 2014

First Baseball Game

Harry and Ant went to the Chicago White Sox game last Sunday. But, before I get to that, I wanted to share a cute picture from our trip to Brookfield Zoo the day before.

Harry kept telling us he wanted to go on the carousel, and the giraffe in particular, but we weren't sure how he'd react. Last time we tried he hated it! But, as you can see in the picture, he had a blast. We also saw the dolphin show at the zoo. Harry got a bit antsy, but he enjoyed it for the most part. Good thing it was only 20 minutes long!

Sunday morning Ant made a game time decision to go to the baseball game. He'd been wanting to all summer and we just couldn't find a day that worked for us. He found some cheap tickets (front row bleachers!) on Stub Hub that included priority parking and decided to go for it. We had originally planned on deep cleaning and organizing Sunday so I decided to stay home and do just that. Not nearly as fun, but I got a lot done while they were gone.

According to the boys, they had a lot of fun! We took Harry to a minor league game last year, but this was his first experience with the majors. It was Kid's Day so there was lots to do at the Cell besides just watch the game. Here are a few pictures Ant sent me.

He wasn't too interested in taking a picture with the mascot (can't remember his name...), but Ant said that Harry pointed him out as the "green guy" as soon as they spotted him and he gave him a high five.

Awesome seats!

A cute little magnet Harry got to paint. I guess they had lots of little stations set up for Kid's Day.

The Sox lost but the boys still had a lot of fun. Glad they got to go! And now Harry keeps asking to go to a hockey game, so we're thinking about going as a birthday gift.

Have a nice weekend!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Savoring the Last Moments of Summer + GIVEAWAY

Fall is fast approaching, and if you know me, you know I'm not trilled. I'm a summer girl through and through. I'll take 100 degrees over 20 degrees any day of the year. Although, this summer has been on the cooler side- just perfect!

With summer winding down (seriously, Harry wore jeans and a jacket to school the other day), the boys and I have really tried to spend as much time outside as we can. Harry's always up for playing outside and asks to throw the ball around or go for a walk at least 5 times a day.

Last weekend we went to one of our favorite local forest preserve for some fun in the sun. We've been going on little "hikes" a lot lately. It's an easy, fun and free way to get the whole family outside for some exercise. We love finding new areas to explore!

The nice people are Tropicana helped us say good bye to summer in style by sending one of their Summer Fun Kids Kits.

Bubbles, sidewalk chalk, sunglasses and sunscreen. And of course some Tropicana juice!

Always running ahead!

We like to go for our walks around dinnertime, so when we got home we poured ourselves some yummy Tropicana juice with our meals.

OJ has long been a favorite drink of mine, no juice is more refreshing! And the Tropicana Farmstand juices offer lots of delicious flavor combinations.

Tropicana has graciously offered a Summer Fun Kid Kits with coupons for FREE Tropicana juice to 2 TAW readers! Just fill out the Rafflecoptor below and I'll pick the winners next week.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


This post was sponsored by Tropicana. All opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, September 8, 2014

34 Months

We have 2 more months until his birthday, but he's acting more and more like a three year old every day!

  • Obviously starting school was the biggest excitement this past month. So far, so good! He's asked every morning if he gets to go to school that day. Like I said before, I'm so glad we decided to send him early and am excited to see how he develops in the program. 
  • Funny new quirk he's developed... whenever he's looking for something or trying to come up with an answer to a question I ask, he'll tap his chin and say, "think, think, think..." It's very cute, and what's so funny about it is that my brother did something very similar when he was younger, too.
  • He asks for macaroni and cheese every day for dinner. He'd be happy to have it for every meal! 
  • Playtime has been so much fun lately! Harry loves to make us food in his little kitchen (moving it to his room was a great idea for us). Who knew microwaved lettuce could taste so good? We also play Candy Land and Guess Who? all the time. He understands both games and even thinks of questions to ask with Guess Who? (usually he plays on a team with Mom or Dad, but he's played on his own a few times). I'm thinking about getting him a couple more games for his birthday, maybe Hi-Ho Cherry-O or Chutes and Ladders? I remember loving both of those when I was 3 or 4.
  • A few cute things he's said this month.
    • "I have to tickle my foot." When scratching an itch.
    • "Mom, I think I'm up!" He yells this a lot when he wakes up from his naps. 
    • "Yes, I have to." He says this anytime we say no to something. Like, if he wants a cookie just before dinner, or to play outside when it's raining out.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Blue Apron Review

If you read any popular mom/food/healthy living blogs, I'm sure you've heard about Blue Apron. I think I've read half a dozen posts about the food delivery company this summer. And I really only read a small handful of bloggers. I was intrigued, and decided to check out their site for myself. I told Ant about the service and that I had a coupon code for 2 free meals (courtesy of one of those blog reviews). He thought it'd be fun to try, so we signed up.

So, what exactly is Blue Apron? As I mentioned, it's a meal delivery service. They provide you with fresh ingredients to make 3 meals each week. Everything you need (minus salt, pepper, and oil) is delivered to your door. The food is packaged in an insulated box with a dozen or so ice packs so it will stay cold and fresh, even if it has to sit at your doorstep all day.

Each week Blue Apron has 6 different meal options. We actually signed up in July but skipped a few weeks until a week popped up with meals we liked.  Here are the recipes from the week we got our delivery.

Unfortunately you can't pick any 3 meals you want. Though there are a few ways to customize your delivery. If you're choose the vegetarian option, you'll automatically get the 3 recipes on the bottom row. And you can select what meats you do or don't eat. If you choose the regular option, you'll get 2 recipes from the top row, and 1 vegetarian recipe. We marked no seafood, so we knew we'd be getting Beef Patty Melts and Chicken Gumbo. Our surprise vegetarian option was the Roadside Noodles. Ant and I were both a tad disappointed; we were really hoping to try the Zucchini Fritters (Blue Apron has all their recipes on their website so we could still make them sometime).

Here's a breakdown of how the food turned out!

Beef Patty Melts

First impression: I'm fairly certain this will be the first time I ever cook beef. We rarely eat red meat but made an exception for this meal. We received blue lake beans instead of green and yellow wax beans. All in all I think this will be my favorite meal!

This was the first meal we made. From fridge to table, it took just about an hour. The recipe card was very easy to follow and it was nice not having to measure out all my ingredients! As far as the taste... freaking delicious! The green bean salad (which included the whole grain mustard, shallot and red wine vinegar) was incredible. Tangy with a little kick. Something I would definitely make again. I was a bit skeptical about the patty melts. I'm picky when it comes to onions and was worried that they'd over power the other elements of the sandwich. They didn't at all! The onion flavor was there, but the onions themselves seemed to just melt in to the meat and were hardly noticeable- in a good way.

Ant loved everything about the meal, too. It was a great introduction to Blue Apron!

Chicken Gumbo

First impression: Okra kind of scares me. I've never tried it before. We got chicken sausage instead of regular, which I'm happy about. 

Our second dish took a bit longer to prepare, about an hour and 15 minutes. Chopping all the veggies while trying to keep a toddler out of the kitchen was the most tedious step. Again, the recipe wasn't hard to follow but my gumbo didn't look exactly like the picture. It was more red-colored and soupy than I anticipated. I went back and reread the directions a couple times to see if I missed a step and I hadn't.

Even though it looked different, the gumbo still tasted just fine. Not as good as the patty melts, but still very tasty. I don't like things to be very spicy, so there was just enough heat for me, but I saw on Instagram some people complained it was too bland. And both Ant and I were surprised to learn okra doesn't really taste like anything. I was anticipating it to have a strong flavor. I think some extra rice would have helped thicken it up a bit.

Even with little rice, the recipe yielded a ton of gumbo. 4 servings easily. Great for lunch the next day!

Roadside Noodles

First impression: I've never had broccoli rabe, but it kind of looks like spinach, so maybe it tastes similar? I've also never had lemongrass. Lemongrass soap always smells amazing, though.

Dish number 3. Another recipe with lots of chopping. But cooking went quickly, and the entire thing was ready in about an hour. The lemongrass, ginger and garlic simmering filled our house with the most amazing smell! And it didn't hurt that the noodles tasted delicious as well. The broccoli rabe didn't taste like anything, and blended in with the other flavors nicely. The roadside noodles were our second favorite out of the three, behind the patty melts and beans.

Like the gumbo there was a ton leftover for lunch the next day.

Some final thoughts on our Blue Apron meals.

Did we like Blue Apron? Absolutely! All the food was good, and I got to try some new things along the way. I'd never blanched beans before, and I ate okra, broccoli rabe and lemongrass for the first time.

Would we do it again? Yes. Blue Apron isn't cheap, but the leftovers we had brought down the price per meal, which was a welcome surprise. It's still $60 a box (regular price), so we definitely won't be doing it every week.

Also, we haven't loved all the choices offered. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post we signed up, and then skipped a few weeks before a group of recipes we liked were offered. I also really wish customers could choose all 3 meals, I'm not one for surprises like that. It seems like a lot of customers are asking to select all their meals, so hopefully Blue Apron listens and will change their policy soon.

All in all it was a fun week in the kitchen!

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Blue Apron. I purchased the service with a coupon code found on a popular blog. All opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Day of Preschool

After talking about it for months, Harry finally had his first day of preschool yesterday. Eeeek!

We had to change shoes, didn't realize the grass was going to be so wet!

He was so excited, and just plain ready to go. I'm so glad we decided to send him. Four hours a week away from mom is going to be good for him. I, being the mom that I am, was nervous about the first day, but it couldn't have gone better. Ant took the day off so he could be there for the first day, too. Drop-off went fabulously, and he was off playing as soon as we did our "two kisses and a hug."

After a couple hours we were back to pick him up. The kids are filed out one by one as parents arrive to lessen the pick-up chaos. Harry likes to run and do his own thing a lot, so I was pleasantly surprised to see him sitting nicely at the table with his classmates when the doors opened. When it was Harry's turn to leave his teacher said he was an excellent student all day. I was pretty sure he wouldn't cry, but it seemed like a lot of kids did, so you never know what could happen.

Harry was all smiles when we picked him up and had a backpack full of papers. He told us he played with the sandbox, the cell phones, sang songs, did a craft and got a cookie and water for snack time. Oh, and they read a book about an owl, too. They also had Frozen playing in the background. Just for the first day to help get the kids acclimated to being on their own. Harry was excited to see it playing, but it doesn't sound like he watched much of it with all the other activities going on.

To celebrate a great first day, we all went out to lunch. And his first craft made it's way to our fridge as soon as he got home.

He thought he was going to walk to school

Harry's already looking forward to his next class and is excited to bring string cheeses for snack time next week. Annnnd, Mom might be looking forward to some alone time during the week, too ;).

Here's to the start of a great school year!
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