Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Jazzing Up a T-Shirt & Jeans

Posted by Devin

Some days are just t-shirt and jeans days. Does that mean that we have to look plain-Jane on those days? No way!!! Here's 2 examples of some recent t-shirt and jeans outfits I "jazzed-up" using the same necklace and belt. It's just like Clairee Belcher says in Steel Magnolias, "The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize!" ;)

Day 1:

Date night! Ahhhh yes, love love love getting some quality time with my hubs. Jake and I were just slipping out for a quick sushi and shopping date and I wanted to wear something that mixed casual with dressy. Pairing heels with jeans is such a fun look! And these have got to be my favorite pair of jeans and heels. Since it was so hot outside I decided to roll the jeans and I loved the look of the large cuffs. Also, belting the over-sized tee gave it definition and a much dressier look. Such a comfortable yet fun date outfit.

Day 2:

I was heading out into the mugginess for a morning of running errands and lunch with my Mom and Grandma Diane WITHOUT the boys. (GASP!!! Such a rarity it deserves a gasp. Tara even called me when I was out and said "What?!! How did you manage that?!!") It was one of those days where I just felt like I could not wear anything other than a t-shirt and jeans. You know those days. I was pooped out from a late night of shoveling gravel (landscaping saga will be posted soon, if it ever ends), the curl I had attempted to put in my hair had completely fallen out (hello AZ monsoon season), the boys were having a particularly rowdy morning, my head was threatening a migraine... Like I said, t-shirt and jeans. BUT I wanted to look cute too since I was actually going to a lunch where I didn't have to order 4 kids meals and take my own sippy cups! Ugh! What to do?  
My solution: a fedora for the hair and a red necklace and flats to liven things up! I still got to wear my t-shirt and jeans but thanks to a few accessories I felt "adult-meal" ready. When all else fails, accessorize!
And by the way, my lunch date with two of my favorite women was lovely and my errand running was quiet (you mom's know what I mean). Such a great day! 

What I Wore:
(Both Outfits)
Red Bubble Necklace - Charming Charlie's
Braided Belt - H&M
(Top Outfit)
Blue Pocketed Shirt - Target
Diesel Jeans - Ross
Pumps - Ross
Sunglasses - Target
(Bottom Outfit)
Black Square Neck Tee - Ross
Cropped Jeans - JC Penney
Red Flats - Payless
Fedora - Target
Linking Up With:


5 Musts for the First Day of School

Posted by Tara

School is starting again, are you ready? I have picked 5 things that are musts for the first day of school!

1. Have everything ready for a "First Day of School" photo. I found a cute website that gives you a printable for that shot!

Armelle does a great job! I love how easy this is! Click here to go to her blog for the printable.

If you don't have time to print something off and don't have a chalk board handy, you can always add text to the photo on your phone later. These are a few of my favorite apps you can use! 

This one is Phonto. Has tons of fonts and is really user friendly!

Love Rhonna Designs App! This has lots of fun stuff to add to photos and really cute fonts!

My next favorite is A Beautiful Mess App. Love how user friendly this one is and all the cute doodles they have! You can find all of these in ITunes or in your Droid Store. 

2. Lunch notes. There is nothing more exciting to a child than opening up their lunch and reading a sweet note from Mom or Dad. Here are a few that Devin created (love her) that you can use for the first week of school! 

Click here for the lunch box printables.

3. Measure your child. You could use a special place like a growth chart hanging on your wall or a wooden trim that you keep it on.

Found this one at Dear Lillie Blog. So cute and looks great in her house all year round! Check out here blog here!

4. Make your child his or her favorite breakfast! Kristy from The Diary from Dave's Wife did an incredible job on her "First Day of School Breakfast"!

I love the polka dots and apples! So adorable! If you would like to see more from her blog click here!

5. Last but not least.....(Drum roll please) 

Read them a book that will help them feel better about their first day of school! There are so many books out there for every grade or age. Here are a few that Devin had on hand for her boys' first day!

I hope all these "Musts" were helpful, as I plan on doing all of these myself!

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Back to School Checklist

Posted by Devin
It's Back To School Week on our blog! And let me tell you, I need it. I have really been putting off any form of back to school shopping or organization. I peek down the school supply aisles at the grocery store and franticly push my cart away from the hoards of people jostling each other to get their #2's and college-ruled papers. When an email comes in from my boys' school that says something like "Welcome Back! It's Time to Start Planning!" I hit the "mark as unread" button and promise myself I will look at it later. I still haven't gone through the ginormous pile of the boys' school work I collected from last year and I just can not allow a new school year to start before I have completed that monumental task! Simply put: I'm not ready for summer to end!!!

But whether I am ready or not, school IS indeed going to come. Ugh! When I start thinking about all of the things I need to do before school starts I begin to feel very OVERWHELMED! And when I'm overwhelmed I like to turn to my trusted old friend: the To-Do List. Ah yes, the To-Do List and I know each other well. I am a bit of a master at writing them. They calm me down and bring me back to the whole "eat the elephant one bite at a time" mentality. So if you're like me and could use a little help getting ready to start the new school year, here is my Back to School Checklist. Print it, check it off one item at a time, and enjoy the peace of mind that organized preparedness brings. ;)

One last thing: This post is the first of our Back To School Series we will be doing throughout the week. Stay tuned for great info on 5 Musts for the First Day of School and School Lunch Organization!

Don't forget to follow us on Bloglovin'!

Linking Up With: Craft-O-Maniac, Skip To My Lou, C.R.A.F.T., I Should Be Mopping the Floor, Moon Light and Mason Jars, Tuesdays Treasures


Friday, July 26, 2013

Green Apple S'mores

Posted by Tara

I am a huge fan of s'mores, but who isn't? A few years ago I came across a recipe for a twist on s'mores. I changed it up a little to meet my taste bud standards.
Here is what you'll need:

Graham Crackers
White Chocolate
Green Apples

First, slice up green apples.

Then sprinkle apples with cinnamon. (As you can see, I like a lot of cinnamon.)

Break up white chocolate into squares. Lay chocolate on top of graham cracker and top with marshmallow. You want the chocolate next to the marshmallow so it melts! Since its Arizona and too hot for a fire, I roasted my marshmallows in my oven under the broiler 'til golden brown.

After roasting marshmallows, slide apples on top of assembled s'more. Top with caramel and then graham cracker.

These will become your new favorite s'mores. I guarantee it!

Enjoy this yummy goodness!! YUM!

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My California Outfit

Posted by Tara

I recently had the opportunity to go to California with my family for a week. Oh, how I love California. The weather is amazing, the ocean breeze is refreshing and I feel like everyone in California is beautiful! One thing that doesn't like California is my hair. It acts so rebellious, and won't cooperate for anything! So I'm apologizing on its behalf for terrible hair photos today!

While there, I took a few pictures of my favorite outfits for my trip. Above: My favorite button up from H&M. I swear this top can be put over anything and everything. Its the same top I wore over my Maxi dress below. When traveling, I find it helpful to reuse items for different outfits, like I did here.

Top Picture:  Button Up- H&M                          Bottom Picture: Button Up- H&M
                    Shirt: Hello Merch                                            Maxi Dress- Heavenly Couture
                    Belt: Target                                                      Sandals- Old Navy
                    Black Skinnies: Forever 21
                    Shoes: Scottsdale Fashion Square

Linking up with: My Girlish Whims, Inspired by You Wednesday, Pleated Poppy, Transatlantic Blonde, Two Thirty-Five Designs, Monday Mingle, Rae Gun Ramblings, Style Elixir, Because Shanna Said So, Suburbs Mama, Pin It and Spin Link Up, Lipgloss and Crayons, My Thrifty Chic


Monday, July 22, 2013

Triple Layer Checkerboard Cake

Posted by Devin

Last weekend we had a birthday party for my 8 year old son. I usually let my boys pick out whatever kind of cake they would like and they typically say something like an alligator or a car or a puppy. I then do my best to make that happen. But this year Caden couldn't decide on a cake he wanted so I suggested a Triple Layer Chocolate and Yellow Checkerboard Cake. He said "Sounds great! Just make sure you buy some chocolate ice cream to go with it." No problem!

I've made this cake a number of times and it's always a hit. No one can ever figure out how in the world you can make a cake into a checkerboard pattern! It's actually super simple. Here's my how-to!

What you need:

-1 yellow cake box mix
-1 chocolate cake box mix
-2 tubs chocolate frosting
-vegetable oil
-checkerboard cake pan set

The real secret to this cake is the checkerboard cake pan set. You can find these for sale all over the internet, ranging in price from $12-16. Here is a pic of everthing that comes in the set: 3 round 9" pans and a batter divider.

My mom used to make checkerboard cakes and she didn't have one of these handy-dandy pan sets with the divider. She simply used the round cake pans she already had and made her own batter dividers using triple-thick strips of aluminum foil she shaped into the two dividing circles. If you'd rather not buy the pan set, you could always try this method. As for me, I am glad I have the plastic divider!

Step 1: In seperate large bowls, prepare your yellow and chocolate cake mixes according to package directions.

Step 2: Grease or spray your pans with non-stick cooking spray and place the plastic divider in one of the pans. (See photo above.)

Step 3: Pour batters into the pan with the plastic divider. Pour chocolate batter into the center and outer rings and yellow batter into the middle ring.

Step 4: Gently remove the plastic divider from the pan by slowly lifting it straight up. Rinse and dry the divider and place it in the second pan. Repeat Step 3.

Step 5: Again, remove the plastic divider and clean it off. Place it in the third pan and this time pour the yellow batter in the center and outer rings and the chocolate batter in the middle ring.

Step 6: Bake the three cakes according to package directions for a 9" cake pan. Remove from oven and let cool.

Step 7: Once the cakes are cooled, use a serrated knife to cut the top off of each of the cakes giving them a flat top instead of a rounded one. I use the top of the pan to guide my knife and make sure I am cutting it level.

Step 8: Now run a butter knife around the edges of the cakes to loosen them from the pans. Then take the first chocolate-yellow-chocolate cake and remove it from the pan. Make sure to do this slowly and carefully so your cake does not crack or fall apart during removal. Place the cake bottom side up on your cake stand and frost the top. (I like to put them bottom side up because the non-cut surface is easier to frost with less crumbs getting into the frosting.)

Step 9: Remove the yellow-chocolate-yellow cake from the pan and place it bottom side up, on top of the first cake. Frost the top.

Step 10: Remove the last cake, chocolate-yellow-chocolate, from the pan and place it also bottom side up on the top of your cake. Now it is time to frost the whole thing, top and sides.

Once the cake is frosted, it is party-ready! Although it looks like a tall and delicious chocolate cake, it really isn't until you cut it open that the magic happens. Have fun surprising your guests!
(P.S. I have always thought this cake would be darling for a little girl's birthday party in a pink and white pattern with strawberry and white cake mixes. Since I don't have a little girl I have never tried it, but thought I'd throw the idea out there anyways. Enjoy!)

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Kids Camping Goody Bags with Printable Tags

Posted by Devin
When each of our boys turn 8 years old, Jake's parents take them on a week long trip to celebrate at their cabin. It is just them and their grandparents and one friend they get to invite to go with. It is a tradition my in-laws have done with all of their grandkids and this year it is Caden's turn!
Needless to say, Caden is super excited. He and Jace (Tara's son and Caden's best friend) have had long discussions planning all of the things they are going to do: sleeping outside in a tent, catching bugs, swimming in the creek, building forts, and ten thousand other fabulous boy things.
This year I decided it would be fun to put together some little packages of items I thought Caden and Jace would enjoy on their trip! In fact, I thought any kiddos headed to the mountains for a week or two would probably love these!
Here is what I included in the bags: 
-water guns                             -candy
-water balloons                       -notepads
-popper guns                           -water bottles
-army guys                              -bubbles
-glow sticks                             -head lamps
-glow glasses                          -hankerchiefs
(other ideas: bug nets & barns, magnifying glasses, sparklers, jump ropes, etc.)
These were all dollar store items or things I already had around the house. And of course, I HAD to make cute printable tags to put on the bags... (By the way, wouldn't these make great tags for camping-themed birthday party gifts or invites? Or boy scout camping invites? So many possibilities.)
If you are heading to the great outdoors this summer and looking for a treat to keep your kids happy and busy while you're away, this idea just may be for you! Print out the tags, hit up the dollar store, and enjoy the sound of happily playing children while you... swing in your hammock?

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

An Unexpected Striped Maxi

Posted by Devin

I have been on the hunt for a striped maxi dress for quite some time. For some reason I really, really wanted a yellow and gray one. I searched everywhere (well ok, I looked on the internet and at Old Navy, but this mama doesn't have a lot of time for a clothing goose chase) and couldn't find one in those 2 colors. Then the other night after dinner in town, Jake took me over to Ross to look around on our way home. Low and behold, squashed in with all of the other dresses, there was my yellow and gray striped maxi dress! I couldn't believe it! I grabbed it off the rack, ran back to the dressing room, quickly changed in eager anticipation AND..... Eh. It was just so-so. The fabric was a little thin, I wasn't thrilled with the slits on the sides, the scoop in the front went lower than I liked... All in all, not a winner.
I put the dress back and dejectedly walked to the front of the store with Jake where we got in the check out line to purchase a bag of toy monster trucks (bribes for our potty training 3 year old). From the line I suddenly spied a whole section of striped maxi dresses I had missed and ran over to take a look. That's when I spotted this little gem! I didn't even try it on. I grabbed it and got back in line with Jake just as he made it to the register. I put it on when I got home and instantly loved it. It wasn't EXACTLY what I had been wanting, but sometimes when searching for one thing you find something even better.
Ah, don't you just love a good "girl meets dress" story?

What I Wore:
Striped Maxi Dress - Ross
Chambray Shirt - ??? (old as the hills, can't remember)
Coral Wedges - JC Penney
Yellow Necklace - Charming Charlie's
Linking Up With:

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Grandma's Best Macaroni Salad

Posted by Devin

My maternal grandmother, Esther, was a wonderful woman. She loved her grandchildren more than anything and was extremely proud of all that we did. She also worried about us constantly. When I was a kid we would go to Sedona in the summertime and play in tennis tournaments at a club there. When we weren't playing tennis we were always in the pool. My cousins and I were all members of our town's swim team and fairly strong swimmers. But my grandma was so worried that one of us might drown, she always insisted on coming along so she could sit by the pool and watch her grandbabies. SHE couldn't swim, but you know, whatever... It made her feel better to be there watching us.
Grandma was also a dedicated wife and mom and a great cook. She made 3 hot meals a day for my grandpa, day in and day out. Even a hot Arizona summer didn't slow her down! She would still take to her tiny kitchen, turn on the stove, and whip up something delicious. I can't imagine making 3 hot meals a day.
But despite the fact that Grandma was the Queen of the Hot Meal, surprisingly enough I am going to share a cold salad recipe of hers with you all today! My kiddos are crazy about this macaroni salad so I make it quite often. It goes perfectly with so many things: hamburgers, hot dogs, fried or grilled chicken... I frequently take it to parties and have had quite a few people ask for the recipe. Which is why I decided to share it with all of you!
3 1/2 cups macaroni
4 large spoonfuls mayonnaise (about 2 cups)
1/4 as much mustard as mayo (so about 1/2 cup mustard)
4 dill pickle spears, chopped
1 small can sliced black olives (Grandma used green olives but my Mom uses black, as do I)
6 green onions, diced
celery salt
pickle juice

1. Cook your macaroni according to package directions. I always boil mine for 10 minutes. Strain and pour into a large bowl.
2. While the macaroni is cooking, chop your pickle spears and dice your green onions. (Caden was providing a little help in the kitchen to pass off a Cub Scout Requirement.)
3. Add your mayo and mustard to the macaroni and mix. Here are lots of pictures to help show the amounts I use.

4. Add the pickles, olives, and green onions to the macaroni and mix again.
5. Shake some celery salt and pepper onto the macaroni salad, splash with pickle juice, and mix one last time. As for amounts, I typically just shake the seasonings around until the top layer of the salad has a nice sprinkle. And I probably use about 1/4 cup of pickle juice, not too much.
Chill the salad in the refrigerator overnight or for a few hours. If the salad looks a little dry, add one or two large spoonfuls of mayo before serving. I pretty much always do this. No one wants a dry salad. And that is all! Enjoy!

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