Pinterest Love: Make Ahead Meals

I don't know about you, but I have been feeling a little cooped up these past few weeks.  It has been pretty darn cold here on the Trail and I need something to keep my eyes on spring.  I have this grand idea of having a meal preparation day to get multiple meals ready to go for our super busy spring and summer.  I know many of you already do freezer cooking and I absolutely LOVE the idea, I am just lacking the motivation and organization to do it.  So, I thought if I shared some great pins for freezer cooking, maybe it would motivate me into action.  We will see...

16 Freezer Crockpot Meals from The Hats of a Homemaker (grocery lists included!)

31 Things You Can Freeze by One Good Thing by Jillee

Crockpot Freezer Meals by Baked in the South

Freezer Meals on the Cheap by A Turtles Life for Me (recipes not included)

101 Summer Freezer Meals by Once a Month Mom...a huge list!

If you have any other links that have recipes or tips for freezer cooking, please send them my way!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Okay, I have not baked since Christmas...for good reason.  Kevin has sworn off everything sweet to eat healthier and after eating a whole batch of cookies myself, I decided it was time I put the baking aside for awhile.  But, I have a reason to bake...yippee!  Our friends, Todd, Kara, and Amelia popped over last night for dinner and I wanted something yummy to complete the meal...enter chocolate peanut butter bars.

These bars are similar to my deep dish oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookie bars minus the oatmeal.  I found them over at Amanda's Cookin' and they turned out super-dooper peanut buttery.  (Have a glass of milk handy.)  I'm still trying to figure out who I can pawn them off on so I don't eat the entire batch.  Any takers?  Hope you try...and please let me know how they turn out!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1 bag of chocolate chips (or 1 1/2-2 cups)
2 T creamy peanut butter
2 T butter
2 t vanilla

chocolate chips or peanut butter chips for topping

1.  Mix butter in blender until creamy.  Add brown sugar until combined.  Add eggs and mix to combine.  Add peanut butter and vanilla and mix to combine.
2.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the wet ingredients slowly.
3.  Meanwhile, heat sweetened condensed milk, bag of chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter on low heat until melted.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.
4.  Place foil in 9x13 inch pan and spray with cooking spray.  
5.  Make a thick layer on the bottom with the peanut butter mixture, be sure to leave about 2 cups of mixture for the top.  Top with the chocolate mixture.  Complete bars by laying a thin layer of peanut butter mixture on the top and adding chocolate chips or peanut butter chips.
6.  Bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes.

luke was able to 'lick the spoon' of peanut butter



A January Vacation.  Something I have never, ever done.  Kevin hadn't either in a long time.  Being a teacher has the benefit of summer vacation, but also has the drawback of a calendar being set with specific vacation days.  This January vacation was one of the many perks of staying at home.  

We headed to sunny Aruba with Kevin's family for a week and a half and it was absolutely glorious.  We lived in our swimsuits, visited the beach everyday, read books in the sun, and taught Luke about the ocean and sandcastles.  I will let our pictures do the talking...

Sunset champagne toast on Eagle Beach where we stayed

Luke in what he wore pretty much everyday

My main men

Luke didn't let Grandpa Gary out of his sight the entire trip!

Kevin was the first to cook...shrimp and scallop pasta in a white cream sauce

Luke and the beach

Luke is bossy when it comes to building sandcastles

Baby Kathryn sunbathing...well not really, she was under a palapa

Family pic...this was our second day here, notice Kevin and I's somewhat pale bodies

Breakfast on the balcony

Spending some time at the pool

John and Hillary's turn to cook...fresh fish with rice, cream sauce, veggies, and yummy little baguettes with cheese

Baby Beach

One of my favorites from the trip...Grandpa Gary and Grandma Diane with Luke

By the end of the week, Luke LOVED the ocean

Mommy and Baby

Our last night in Aruba

Luke made friends with two girls playing at the neighboring palapa

Luke and Kathryn getting to know each other better

This is how we traveled in Aruba; guys+Kathryn in the front, gals in the back


Daddy and Luke building sandcastles

Date day for Kevin and I...Luke stayed with Grandpa and Grandma

Kevin was super excited about me wanting to take a picture

Luke's new thing is climbing

NYC-Style Pizza in Aruba

Last family pic in Aruba

Pinterest Love: Valentine's Day Fun

Hi all.  Valentine's Day is right around the corner.  I am excited about all the hearts, candy, and lovey-dovey-ness that comes along with this special sweetheart day.  Here are some awesome crafty ideas for decorating and enjoying Valentine's Day.

Love is...Chalkboard idea

Scripture for Valentine's Day

The Greatest 30 DIY Valentine's Ideas
 Riesens Why I Love You Jar from Lil' Luna


Pinterest Love: Valentine's Day

Christmas is over.  The New Year has come.  And now it's time to patiently wait through the long, cold month of January for the day of red and pink hearts.  

When I was teaching I loved Valentine's Day, because it is one of the only holidays kids do most of the celebrating at school with their friends.  But let's be real, I still love this holiday now that I'm home.  I love it for the pink and red hearts, the excuse it gives all of us women to eat chocolate, and, above all, a reason to celebrate in the midst of the most boring time of the year.

Here are some Pinterest activities you can do with your little ones on these cold days leading up to Valentine's Day.  Hope you try!

Heart Stamps from Rust & Sunshine

 Tissue Paper Valentine's Day Craft from Love Play, Learn

Valentine's Day Craft from Mama and Baby Love 

Handprint Gift (author unknown)

19 Heart Crafts from Rainy Day Mum


Tot School: Week 1 at 14 months

Last week was our first week of Tot School.  It was interesting, to say the least.

I think I learned more this week than Luke.  I learned that a 14 month old's attention span is that of 8 seconds, literally 8 seconds.  (I know you are all shocked.)  I learned that Luke doesn't really like to do art, yet.  I learned that I am going to have to really, really go with the flow if I want this to be successful and fun.  My Type A personality is going to have to take a back seat.

Here is my first week of activities with Luke:

Balls on Bubble Wrap

Gross motor development
Sensory development

We moved around balls on bubble wrap to hear how it sounded.  We also felt the bubble wrap and popped a few.  Luke's favorite thing: throw the ball and play fetch with himself.  

Winter Sensory Basket

Sensory development

I placed some winter gear in a basket for Luke to explore (hats, scarves, gloves).  I made sure to use items with different textures.  I didn't get many good pictures because Luke was just throwing the hats and scarves around as you can see.  He enjoyed this activity for about 4.5 seconds and then wanted to do something else. 

Magnets on the Whiteboard

Fine motor development
Numbers 1-5

Luke has a new whiteboard in his playroom that we utilized for this activity.  I placed foam numbers 1-5 on the whiteboard as well as some bigger magnets.  He practiced taking them on and off as we practiced the vocabulary of 'on' and 'off'.  I also talked about the numbers, although that is getting a bit ahead of myself.  He loved doing this, although he had a little trouble putting the numbers on so the magnet side was to the whiteboard.  He would hold the wrong side on the whiteboard, pushing with all his might, and then let go.  He got a bit upset they didn't stick.  We will have to work on that.    He was engaged with this activity for an incredible 5 minutes, the longest he lasted all week!

Winter Scene Painting

Sensory development
Fine motor development

I taped a black sheet of heavy construction paper on his highchair and scooped some homemade paint onto it.  When I put Luke in his chair, he wanted nothing to do with it.  Absolutely nothing.  I let him get out to see if he wanted to paint on the floor, but all he wanted to do was climb in the chair.  We will keep trying the paint thing.

Exploring Lids

Sensory development
Shapes: circle

This activity happened by accident.  After the the terrific (haha) painting session, I went to get a jar and lid to put the paint away.  Luke was very interested in the lids, so I got some out and let him go to town.  He threw them around the room and we listened to the sounds they made as well as talked about how they were circles.  It's all about flexibility, which is something I desperately need to work on.

Straws in and out
***Luke's favorite of the week!

Fine motor

I took an empty Parmesan cheese container, washed it out, and used it for this activity.  All I added were some straws and Luke was busy with this for about 5-10 minutes.  He couldn't quite figure out how to get them in the container, but he loved pulling them out.  He would kind of throw the straws at the container hoping they would go in.  We talked about putting them in and pulling them out.  This was, by far, his favorite activity this week.

Linked up at http://www.icanteachmychild.com/2014/01/show-share-saturday-link-22/

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