Friday, July 21, 2017

Two Cute Mermaid Birthday Party...

Sweet Lucille Violet turned TWO at the end of June (you can read more about her here) and since you only turn TWO once, she had three parties.  It actually worked out to have a little party at my inlaws one day, a party with our friends another and then we had her last party at the lake when all of our family was together.  So it might seem extravagant but it was out of necessity, I promise ;) ;)!

We chose the mermaid theme because Lucy is such a water baby!  Plus, I thought it was a little something different!  I still found some Pinterest inspiration and I pinned it all to my birthday board!

For the first party, my mother-in-law and father-in-law did all the heavy lifting, I just showed up.  #yesmaam My father-in-law always makes the our kids a cake based on the theme.  He works for hours on them. It's a sweet labor of love!  

It was a nice day out so we enjoyed the party on their large deck!  My mother-in-law had all sorts of under the sea themed appetizers to enjoy when we arrived. 

How cute are these little Nilla wafer oyster cookies?

Sea shells (bugles), Goldfish crackers, fish food (a fan favorite) and seaweed (edema-me crisps) and waves (wavy chips).

The crab-wiches not only were darling but so good.  She got croissants and filled them with chicken salad for the adults and peanut butter for the kids.  Then she glued on some googly eyes to toothpicks!

Driftwood (pretzels), shark teeth (triangle cut white cheese), Seaweed, sea pearls (mini chocolate pearls), and sea shells (bugles).

We had a lovely time and everyone made second and third trips up for more "sea-inspired" fare!

Then, it was my turn to host.  My sweet mother-in-law shared her table runner she made and her food labels for this party so you will see them again.  We found all the paper products at Target (Spritz brand) and picked colors and prints that coordinated with our theme!  We used our silver chargers and Vera found a few mermaid dolls and toys to help "decorate" the table!

We used a box cake mix and made homemade buttercream frosting.  They were tasty and not too much work!  We also re-used the lanterns and bunting (Target) from parties past (here) and strung them from the chandelier!  I love decor that can be used again and again!

We found the cute mermaid invitations at Target and print off a little calendar of events for the party.   I always love to come up with a few fun games for everyone to play.

First up was Save the Mermaid, which is similar to capture the flag but with a mermaid doll.   We split up into two teams and each team hid the other teams mermaid and then we had to race to find it without being captured.  

Next up was Pass the Pearl, which was passing white water balloons back and forth between teammates.  Last but not least, we played mermaid baseball.  It was so popular, we played it at the next birthday party at the lake.  The kids took turns hitting water balloons in lieu of baseballs.  Now that you can get balloons like these, its so fun to come up with all sorts of water balloon games!

Of course, I took a cue from my mother-in-law and had fun sea-inspired appetizers.  We added seaweed dip (guacamole) to the line-up!

We used Barbie's pool for the Goldfish and had sea biscuits (pita chips) and dip!

We also made a sign for drinks which included squid ink (root beer), ocean cooler (juice boxes), red tide (cherry 7-up) and fish pee (mountain dew).  You can imagine which one was the fan favorite.  Why do bodily function elicit such laughter?

Last but not least, my mom hosted the final party at the lake.  She got all the mermaid plates and decor on Amazon.  She just took the balloons to the grocery store and paid for the helium.

Grandma and Vera set up the party and decorated while Lucy napped and then we enjoyed cupcakes, presents and mermaid baseball!

I think we successfully milked the theme and her birthday for all its worth!  It was so fun to celebrate our TWO cute mermaid on her 2nd birthday!

For other birthday party inspiration - click here

Until next time, keep on keeping on!  

Dashing off to start working on the next birthday -- it's going to be a slam dunk ;)!  Check out my Pinterest boards for a sneak peak at the next two birthday themes...

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Linking up with Andrea for Friday Favorites


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cooking with kids: 5 Ingredient Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry shortcake just screams summer to me!  It's light, refreshing and a delicious treat to enjoy outside.  It's my husband's favorite dessert and for years I didn't make it because I thought the shortcake was going to be daunting to make.  I seriously kick myself for all the years I missed making this super easy dessert.  This is a crowd favorite for your next block party or BBQ.  The best news is your little sous chefs can easily help you whip this treat up, it doesn't take long and requires only 5 ingredients. Do I have your interest yet?

For 6-8 servings you will need --

2 1/3 Cup Bisquick mix
2/3 Cup Milk
1 tub whipped topping
1 clamshell of strawberries
2 T Sugar (If you desire)

You will need to prepare the biscuits ahead of time to allow time to cool a bit.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Then, mix together the Bisquick mix and 2/3 cup milk to make the biscuit dough.  Spoon dough onto an un-greased cookie sheet, making between 6-8 biscuits.   Cook for 8-10 minutes until golden brown on top.  Pull out and allow to cool.  

Next you will rinse and chop your strawberries into bite-size pieces and place in a mixing bowl.  Sprinkle with 2 T. sugar and then use a fork to stir and gently press on the strawberries to release some juices and let sit.  

When you are ready,  slice the biscuits with a serrated knife and then place 1/2 the biscuit in the bottom of your bowl.  Then have your sous chef help you spoon in some of the sugared strawberries. 

Then layer the whipped topping on top.  Place the other half of the biscuit on top and layer with another spoonful of the syrupy strawberries and whipped topping.  It's best to serve this dessert immediately so it doesn't get soggy.  Trust me, there won't be leftovers!

Do you love strawberry shortcake?  What's your family's favorite summer dessert?  I hope you and your sous chef enjoy making this delicious dessert for your family and friends soon.  It's a fan favorite and is so easy to make!  

If you are looking for some other ideas for cooking with your kids, I have linked a few of our favorites here --

Linking up with Becky for Tuesday Talk,  Johannah for her monthly recipe link-up, Allie for her Thursday recipe linkup and Fresh Market Friday for Christian Motherhood Inspiration.  Make sure to check out their blogs out!

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Monday, July 17, 2017

$10 at Target and 3 Quick Target Tips...

I love Target but who doesn't?  Maybe my bank account!  Recently I went to Target because my sweet friend Britt alerted me that they have #tibekoko signs.  You better believe I needed one or a few!  I decided to test out the $10 at Target challenge and go see if I could find them.  

Spoiler alert, I failed miserably.  I did two transactions so you could see what $10 at Target looks like but let's be real I had another $60 in my cart because we needed paper towels.  Yes, I know paper towels don't cost $60!  Let's see what I did find for about $10 and I am sharing 3 Target tips with you.   Will you share your tips too?  You all are so smart and my budget will thank you!

Exhibit A - my purchases

Keep on Keeping on Coin/shadow Box | $3
Thank You Notes | $1
Clearance Cat & Jack Flip-Flops | $6.48

Sub-total | $10.48
Red Card Discount | $0.52

Grand Total | $10.58

So obviously the sign was not a want but a need.  Since that is clearly a given, I put that in my office to remind me of our sweet #tribekoko.  For those of you visiting, KOKO stands for Keep on, keeping on.  That's our tribe's goal to keep on, keeping on with a joyful, faith-filled life!  I got an extra for an upcoming Instagram giveaway since we are so close to 2000 tribe members!  The sign can be found in the Dollar Spot which gets me every time.  I could have spent way more than $10 there #always.

The stationary is another spot love!  8 cards for a $1, I am in!  We have 3 kid summer birthdays around here and so I needed to pick up another pack.  I thought these would be tie into the colors I used for Lucy's TWO CUTE MERMAID party.

Then these flip flops (similar) were the typical "not on your list but suddenly you need them to be on your list" item.  I know you know what I mean!  I was looking for my girls in the kids shoe section when these caught my eye.  I love a cute, comfy flip flop!  They looked big enough for my foot and sure enough they were!  

Tip 1:  Buy Girls Shoes

I learned the tip that girls size equate to women's sizes from my friend in the shoe business.  He said I could buy kids UGG boots in a size 6 and they would be cheaper and still fit great.   So there's that tip for you too.  I love to save a little money, don't you?  Have you ever bought kids shoes before?

Tip 2: The Clearance Tag

Target clearance always had a red label and in the top right hand corner there will be a teeny tiny number like 15, 30, 50, 70 or 90.  These shoes had a 50 in the corner meaning they were 50% off.  

Tip 3:  Check the Online Price and Sale Codes

Recently, I bought some outdoor chairs for our deck.  They were 30% off in store.  Before I went, I checked online and saw they had an extra 10% off online.  So once I checked out, I simply went to guest services and they price matched what was online!  I saved another $12 and every dollar counts!

What are your Target tips?  I would love to hear because I love Target but my budget appreciates any help it can get.  What have you found at Target lately!  Do you purposefully go in the Dollar Spot door so you can peruse that section first?  I do too! 

Until next time, keep on keeping on! #tribekoko

I am linking up with Johannah, Becky, Emily and Sarah today - you need to check out their Target hauls too :) because who doesn't love Target

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Friday, July 14, 2017

10 Reasons Why Lake Life is the Best Life

The beautiful hues of pink, purple and orange of the beautiful sunset draw you in as you relax on an adirondack chair with all your favorite people, toes next to the bonfire, a gentle breeze and a cold drink in your hand as you wave at the lake activity float by.  Lake life is the best life.  

After 24 years of it, lake living is in my veins.  It's home.  It's my happy place.  In the land of 10,000 lakes (Minnesota), there's a LONG winter and a short summer so you have to make the most of summer lake living. If you are turning your nose up and saying, I am not a lake person, trust me when I tell you Minnesota lakes are amazing.  They are clear to your toes, crisp and beautiful.    

Do you love lake living?

Here are 10 amazing reasons why lake life is the best life...

1.  Sunset.

Besides the beach, I would argue they are some of the most beautiful around.  There is nothing more serene and calming after a full day on the water than watch the sun set.

2.  Bunk Room Sleeping.

As a kid, we grew up with lots of guests coming and going and we all shared the bunk room quarters. As a grown up, we still sleep in the bunk room.  Who doesn't love a giant slumber party and there is no worries, snoring or talking in your sleep with keep you up, you are bone tired after a full day on the water!

3.  Breakfast over the fire.

Everything tastes better outside, pancakes included.  A cool crisp lake morning made better with a cup of hot coffee and some fresh, off the bonfire, pancakes made in a cast iron skillet.

4.  Porch Sitting.

The unofficial state bird of Minnesota is the mosquito so a screened porch is the best way to extend your day outdoors.  Light a fire in the screened porch fireplace and have yourself a s'more.  Early in the morning, its a great place to watch the lake wake up and the wildlife swim by.

5.  Everyone waves.

When you drive by a fellow boater or someone on shore, you wave!  Everyone has a smile on their face because you can't help but be happy on the lake.  Have you been anywhere else where you wave to everyone you pass?

6.  Casual and Comfy.

There is no need to shower, put on any make-up or get dressed because you have a day on the water ahead.  All you need is some sunscreen and a swimsuit.  At the end of a full day on the lake, nothing feels better than a nice, warm shower before a meal out on the porch.  All you need is a swimsuit and pajamas, throw those fancy clothes out the window.  You don't need them.  If you need to shave your legs, just head down to the dock with your shaving cream and razor.  

7.  Unplug.

It's a perfect time to unplug because who wants to chance dropping their phone into the lake.  Many times lakes don't get the best reception, a great excuse to check out and be present with your favorite people.  Who needs technology time when the lake beckons your name?

8.  Boat riding.

Many times in my life, I have taken my cares and worries to the lake only to rev the engine, sit back and take a cruise and all those cares just melt away.  The lake wind in your hair, the feel of the water against the sides of the boat.  It's so relaxing and calming.

9.  Adventure.

No matter what age you are or what your interest are, you can have fun in or by the water.  Tubing. Skiing. Wake-boarding. Jet-skiing.  Paddle boarding.  Floating.  Kayaking.  Swimming.  Fishing.  Laying out.  Reading. Playing yard games. 

10.  Memories.

We moved around a bunch growing up but every year we went to the lake.   Somewhere along the way, the lake became home to us.  We have so many memories or campfires gone rogue, crazy tube exits, and wardrobe malfunctions.  The lake gives our family an opportunity to spend time together doing something we all love and make cherished memories. 

There you have it just 10 of the many reasons to love lake life.  Why do you love the lake?  Have you ever been to a lake?  Where is your happy place?

Until next time, keep on keeping on #Tribekoko 

Let's connect on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Linking up to Friday Favorites with Erika and Andrea and High Five Ten for Friday with BYBMG.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

4th of July Lake Vacation...

We just got back from another awesome 4th of July lake trip.  I always get nervous because expectations can be the their of joy and since the 4th of July is one of my favorites, my expectations are always pretty high.  Spoiler alert -- we had a good time.  

Vacations as a mom still include discipline, laundry, cooking and cleaning up but there was also copious amounts of laying out, laughter, naps, relaxing and eating too much as referenced by my rumbling belly since I got home :).  

I am splitting up the post in two parts because my sister took so many awesome photos with my camera.  I purposed to put my phone away the majority of the trip and it was nice to "unplug".  I knew my sister would document well enough and she did!

We took off the Friday before the 4th of July after Scott got off of work and the kids were antsy to get their vacation on (who am I kidding, I was too!) so we went to Mc Donald's for lunch and then headed to the pool which was a great way to wait it out! 

We hit the road and were able to make in time for smores on the porch.  It's about a 4 hour drive.   My dad arrived from PA and distributed all of the Stanley Cup gear for the Penguins #Pittsburghproud.  

The rest of the week was a whole lot of playing outside.  My kids did not ask one time to play on the iPads - can I get all the praise hands?!  The weather improved every day and by the end of the week we wanted to be in the water because it was HOT in MN!  I am just going to let the pictures do most of the recapping because it was hard enough to pare them down ;).  

We pulled out the water trampoline and jumped on it on the putting green.  My dad has saved it all these years and the kids were sure glad since I won't get them a trampoline.  I made up some fun songs and they just thought it was the funniest thing to dance around together.

We swung on swings a lot.  The kids each have their own on a tree.

We enjoyed boat rides around the lake, to get ice cream at the marina and this year we even picked up pizza at the local restaurant on the lake and ate on board for Lucy's birthday festivities.  My dad was a little stressed about the sauce but we had no major spills!

We celebrated Lucy's 2nd birthday with a little party with my grandparents, parents and my sister and brother-in-law!  It followed the same theme as the first two parties - TWO CUTE MERMAID.  It was fun to have 4 generations at the lake!

We caught and released our fair share of small fish.  We even spotted a keeper walleye by the dock that Solon was convinced he could catch with his bare hands but alas it alluded him ;).

We spent our fair share of time in the shade watching the lake activities!

There was lots of tubing.  Some rides are wilder than others.  Grandma said her tubing days are coming to an end and the kids thought that was so funny! I said my tubing days with Solon are coming to an end.  That boy likes an adrenaline rush!

We also did our fair share of jumping off the back of the boat because it got hot riding.  We all jumped in to cool off.  There might have been some serious wild jumps!

We even got some skiing in of all varieties.  Vera practiced on the learner ski board and Solon got up with Grandpa behind the boat.  #blessGrandpa'slegs


We jet-skied too - rides for everyone!

Lots of dock sitting and maui mat lounging!

We even got some family photos...

#christmascardphoto ;)

On Friday, it was time to pack up after 6 full lake days and head back home.  Our hearts were so full with memories of a fun week on the lake.  24 years for me and counting and I am so thankful my sweet family loves it now as much as I do.  

Before heading home, we stopped at the Mall of America for a day of fun first.  It's become a yearly tradition to celebrate Solon's birthday (early) with rides.  We left the mall around 4pm, and about one minute later, 2 out of 3 kids were fast asleep.

Grandma and Grandpa earned cool points for riding the upside down roller coaster.  We all took turns riding with Solon who rode over and over again #nothankyou.

Vera was excited she was finally tall enough for some big kid rides.

Solon won Grandpa a new emoji pillow for his couch.  He was so touched. ;)

What a fun week at the lake it was!  From jumping in the lake, to skiing, tubing, boat rides, lake sitting, hot tubbing, playing games, smores, pancakes on the fire - we did it all and it was so much fun.   Lucy was not sure of the lake but by the end of the week we turned her into a lake kid too!

I will be back with a recap of my favorite day of the year - 4th of July next week!  

I am sharing 5 reasons I love lake living on Friday :).

Until next time keep on, keeping on #tribekoko

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