Adorable Halloween Costume Ideas


When Emily was the only child dressing her up for Halloween was fun but everything went to another level when I could coordinate sisters and then last year with Jack we made it a family affair.  So for several years I've loved planning costumes and to be honest with you I frequently coordinate their costumes with Emily's birthday parties since her birthday is one week after Halloween.  This way I'm killing two birds with one stone.

My kids are still at an age where I can "gently sway" them into costumes that I like or approve.  I start planting seeds and so far I've been very lucky and they've gone with my ideas.  I fear my days are numbered but I'm hanging on as long as I can.  Now that we have 2 girls and 1 boy it makes it a tad harder to come up with sibling costumes.  But, last year was our first year of doing so and we went as the Incredibles because it was just so natural as a family of five and we had our own Jack Jack.  I can't wait to share this years costumes but in the meantime here is what I've put together over the years.

Emily's first costume was a super easy DIY black cat.  I cut black tulle and tied it into a large black stretchy headband.  I used ribbon for the straps, kitty ears and a little eyeliner.


Her second Halloween she was the cutest bumble bee.


This was the year that I could finally coordinate the girls.  They were both Minnie Mouse.


Emily was obsessed with Frozen so of course the girls were Anna and Elsa.  I usually can't find anything in the stores that I like so I frequently have their costumes made locally.  Sadly this was the best photo I could find of the girls and their costumes.


Emily was Ariel from The Little Mermaid and since Madi was still too young to care I had a Sebastian the Crab costume made for her.  We laughed because it fit her personality!


The next year Emily asked to be Cinderella and Madi quickly wanted to be Ariel which totally worked for me because she fit in Emily's costume from the year before.


Our first year with adding a boy into the mix so we all dressed as The Incredibles.  We already had a Jack Jack so it seemed like the logical option.  This was also the first year I purchased costumes and you get what you pay for.  They literally fell apart before trick or treating.  This confirmed one reason why I love having their costumes made.  Not only do I get something custom and beyond adorable but the quality is also far superior.


Stay tuned for 2019 costumes!  What has been your favorite sibling or family costumes?




How to Make Simple Pudding Pops




If you know me or if you've followed me for awhile you know that I am all about simple.  Yes I love to be creative, to decorate and set up fun activities but at the end of the day I'm only tackling simple tasks.  I'm not sure if that's a little lazy or survival but it's the truth of this mom life.  We love to make homemade popsicles but I like using ingredients that are on hand and recipes that aren't tedious.  This pudding pop recipe couldn't get any easier; it took us less than five minutes from start to freezer.

Ingredients:
Directions:

Stir pudding mix and milk as per instructions on box.  Once soft set pour into popsicle molds and place in freezer.  After one hour place sticks into each popsicle and let freeze overnight.  Run warm water over mold for 60 seconds and then pull popsicles out of mold.  Enjoy!


These are the simplest of simple, a great way to include my girls in an activity and so delicious to enjoy together.




How to Throw the Best Back to School Breakfast


For birthdays, milestones and holidays I like to celebrate in some way.  It doesn't always have to be big or over the top but I don't want the day to go by without showing the girls that it's an important day and that we like to celebrate the special days in our lives.  

Luckily I created this BTS Breakfast last year so I still had all the printables.  So keep that in mind that the first year it does take some time to print and cut everything but if you store it, subsequent years are super easy.  I only had to buy red paper plates, green apples and make the pencil waffles.  The waffles are super easy to create.  Make waffles as usual and then cut into a rectangle.  Cut a piece of toast into a small triangle and top with a chocolate chip.  At the top of the "pencil" place 2-3 raspberries.  Breakfast was completed with Producer's milk that we dyed yellow.  In addition to the printables I used a mason jar filled with alphabet letters and colored pencils.

Here is where I found the free printables:









How to Make Healthy and Delicious Yogurt Popsicles


We have a tradition of making popsicles every Summer and I usually try and keep them "healthy-ish."  When the girls received flamingo popsicles molds we knew it was the perfect time to keep our tradition alive.  They were so excited to make them and it was a fun and easy project to do together.  This recipe couldn't be easier and it's quite healthy compared to any store bought popsicles.

Ingredients:
Directions:

Chop strawberries very small and place in a mixing bowl.  Add sugar and yogurt and mix.  Pour into molds and freeze overnight.  Run warm water over the molds for about 60 seconds, then carefully pop out the popsicles from the mold.  Store in a ziplock bag in the freezer.




How to Make Back to School Simple but Exciting

My girls are still at the age where back to school is lots of fun.  I dread the day they dread going back to school.  Although my girls are very excited about school I have mixed feelings.  I'm excited to have them out of the house but I'm not looking forward to having to be up and at of the house by 7:45 every morning.  It's not that I ever sleep in but it's just a lot to get four people (self included) all ready by that time.  I also wish I lived in a world where Summer lasted all year round.  I love the warm weather, the play dates, the trips and all that Summer brings (minus the darn mosquito's).

So I have one hand tightly holding onto Summer and the other busily preparing for Back to School.  I saw a meme that other day that said there are 5 seasons in a year: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall and Back to School.  It made me laugh and it's so true.  There is so much hype around back to school and so much to check off the to-do list.  There are subscriptions for just about everything now a days so why can't there be a biannual subscription for school supplies.  Delivery would be in August and January to replenish all that has broken, gotten lost, etc.  I'm going off on a tangent but maybe this is something I need to invent.  Because it's a pain to online shop and run to several stores to get everything you need for your kids to be ready to go.

Until I invent a one stop shop for Back to School shopping you are left with the current situation.  Since that's not the easiest and most convenient I've tried to make it much simpler for you and round up everything I think your children need and what is the best (all while staying affordable because that's my mantra).




The Best of Santa Cruz: Fun Vacation Guide


How we got there

We live in the Central Valley so it's a quick and easy drive for us, under three hours.  However, if you need to fly to Santa Cruz you would want to fly into the Bay Area and then rent a car.

Where we stayed

We've been traveling to Santa Cruz for several years so it's become a Summer tradition for us.  However, up until last year we always STRUGGLED with where to stay.  Santa Cruz does not have a lot to offer in terms of hotels.  Most of them are below average or there is one classic hotel but it is quite expensive.  We've tried staying in the surrounding area and even across the bay to stay in a decent place.  Luckily, last year a brand new hotel opened right in the heart of Santa Cruz.  The Hyatt Place Santa Cruz is now our very favorite spot to stay.  The location is great and the facilities are wonderful.

How to Make the Perfect Summer Snack


This post is sponsored by General Mills. All thoughts and opinions are my own.



Does anyone else have kids that are HUNGRY all day long but only for snacks?  (Come mealtime they couldn't be bothered by hunger.)  My girls could eat all.day.long and I run out of snack ideas.  I try to keep things healthy but I also try to add as much fun to Summer as possible.  So every now and then we indulge.  Insert NEW Peanut Butter Chex Cereal from Walmart...and we are NUTS about how it's the secret ingredient to summertime sweetness.  We had the perfect afternoon while brother napped "cooking" together and then a little front yard picnic for snack time.  It was so delicious we all could have finished the bowl in one sitting.  Daddy tried to hoard it and finish it himself but us girls didn't allow that.


Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 6 cups Peanut Butter Chex™ cereal
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups cocktail peanuts
  • 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate-covered peanut butter cups
Directions

  1. In 1-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag, mix together powdered sugar and baking cocoa; set aside.
  2. In medium bowl, measure 3 cups cereal; set aside.
  3. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 30 seconds; stir. Microwave 15 to 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Pour mixture over cereal in bowl; stir until evenly coated.
  4. Pour coated cereal into plastic bag with powdered sugar mixture. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on cooking parchment paper to cool, about 20 minutes.
  5. In large bowl, toss together cooled coated cereal, remaining 3 cups cereal, the peanuts and peanut butter cups. Store in airtight container.