Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Night Cereal: Cheesy Savory Oatmeal

This post is sponsored by Got Milk? Food Loves Milk.

My big kids love helping out in the kitchen as much as possible. They're huge fans of cooking and baking, and are always keen to try their hand at making meals for the whole family. While they're happy to follow recipes, more often than not they prefer to be a little more experimental and come up with their own creations. This isn't always so successful - case in point, the bright green, mushy "pancakes" they just handed me - but other times their experimenting pays off and we end up with a new recipe to add to our arsenal. The recipe I'm sharing today is a great example of their successful experimenting. Don't worry - it's not mushy green pancakes!

This week Ava and Lola were keen to make dinner by themselves. I thought it might be a fun idea for them to mix things up a little and make a classic breakfast dish, with a spin, for dinner. Most mornings Ava makes herself a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. She makes it the old fashioned way, on the stove with a lot of milk and a dash of honey for extra sweetness. As she's already a pro with the oatmeal we decided this would be a good place to start, with Lola as her helper. But instead of adding that dash of honey for sweetness, the girls added some of their favorite savory ingredients to make it a satisfying dinner meal. 

Oatmeal for dinner? I know it sounds a little out there, but trust me, it's pretty tasty. It reminds me a little of risotto. It's filling in a satisfying yet not heavy way, and it's packed full of healthy ingredients with the goodness of milk poured on top. 

Ok, you know you're intrigued now! So let's have a look at how to make this tasty night cereal...

What you'll need:
1 Cup milk
1 Cup water
1 Cup oats (we used quick oats)
1/2 Cup grated cheddar
1/2 Cup creamed corn
3/4 Cup sliced roasted turkey (cut into small pieces)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons finely chopped chives 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Back to School Sleep Tips... For Parents

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I'm a night owl with terrible sleep habits. I wish I could blame it all on the kids, but I've always been this way. I've always been that person who gets by on very little sleep each night - and lots of coffee in the morning! Four hours sleep is pretty standard for me most nights. Five hours is amazing!

As I'm a night owl, I find that I'm much more productive at night so that's when I get all of my blogging, party prep, crafting and photo editing work done. It's also when I do most of my bad TV watching and catching up on internet gossip! Shh.. you didn't hear that last bit. I rarely make it to bed before 1am, and thanks to Mathilde's habit of waking at 3am to nurse, my night of sleep is always broken. Ok, so I can partly blame my sleep habits on one of the kids! Let's just ignore the fact that she's two and I really need to put a stop to her middle of the night feeds.

While the girls have been on Summer vacation there haven't been too many days when I've needed to be up early. Ava did two weeks of camp, and we had a few early mornings of travel on our recent trip to Seattle and Canada, but apart from that I've been able to take the mornings slowly which has helped to make up for my lack of sleep. But, all of that is about to come to an end because...

...School goes back in just over a week! Eek! How did that happen? Where did the Summer go?

With early morning starts on the horizon again, I really need to do something about my sleep habits so I can be at my best in the morning. There's only so much coffee can fix! So, rather than trying to make up for my lack of sleep when I wake up in the morning, I need to take steps to prevent it in the first place. Easier said than done, I know, but I've come up with a list of safe and drug free tips that are proven to help create a restful body and mind to encourage a good night's sleep. I'm going to try my darnedest to stick to these and make them work.

A Day at California's Great America

Back in June, when Summer was only just beginning, we took a trip south to San Jose for a day of amusement park fun at California's Great America. This was our first time visiting an amusement park here (other than Disneyland and Legoland), and despite their reservations about roller coasters and fast moving rides, the kids had a blast!

I've kind of avoided taking the kids to an amusement park up until now. They're really just not my thing, and given that the girls aren't fond of scary rides (even if they're not actually really scary!) it hasn't seemed worth the expense or effort involved in getting there. But as it turned out, Kim's work held their annual "Summer picnic" at California's Great America this year and we had the entire park to ourselves, and for free, so it was the perfect introduction to a day at an amusement park.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Ready for Fall with Burt's Bees Baby


Summer vacation is almost over here. Ava and Lola have just two weeks of freedom left before the new school year starts. I can't believe how quickly this Summer has just flown by. I swear it only just started!

With the start of the new school year imminent, so to is the arrival of Fall and the cooler weather. Ok, well, technically Fall is actually our warmest season here in the Bay Area (we like to be different!) but as it doesn't get all that hot here, it's still pretty cool compared to other parts of the country.  

So with Fall and back to school on my mind, I've been thinking about what's in the girls' closet. Seriously, I need to go through and take out half of their clothes because there are dresses and tops in there that they're been wearing for at least two years. Well, not Mathilde, of course. That would be especially weird given that she's only two years old, but Ava and Lola both have some majorly outgrown outfits hanging in the closet. I spotted a size 3 dress on Lola's size of the closet. Size 3! She turns six in just a few months! Ok, Mathilde's part of the closet isn't much better with plenty of size 1 clothes still hanging around.

While there are always plenty of great hand me downs for both Lola and Mathilde stashed away in the closet, sometimes it's nice to treat them with something completely new that hasn't been worn by an older sister. So when I saw the new Fall range from Burt's Bees Baby I just had to get a few outfits for Lola. The designs are a perfect mix of both mine and Lola's styles. Lola is drawn to the colors, floral prints, and pockets. I love the fact that the designs are relatively simple and can be worn pretty much year round here with our mild weather. I'm also a sucker for the pockets. Dresses with pockets are the best! Oh, and because I'm quite partial to a little matchy-matchy when it comes to dressing the kids, I just had to get Mathilde a few coordinating outfits too.  

The styling of Burt's Bees Baby Fall range is what first caught my attention, but what I love the most is how wearable the pieces are. As I mentioned above, most of the outfits can be worn all year round here in the Bay Area where it's never too hot or too cold. The 100% organic cotton fabrics are not only soft and cozy to the touch, but also very durable, holding up wash after wash. Best of all, the range is priced to be affordable without losing any quality. Perfect all round!

Lola loves the poppy print on the sleeves of her slouch slub dress. They're a little long right now so she wears them cuffed which I think looks adorable. The poppy print is also available on tops, leggings and skirts. If it were up to Lola, She'd wear the print on everything all at once! You can never have too many flowers, right?

My favorite piece is the kids' Dip Dye dress. It feels rather beachy to me, which is obviously something the girls picked up on too as they've asked to wear them to swim class. I don't usually dress the girls in purple much, but I'm really a fan of the dip dye effect on this particular dress and I really like how the purple contrasts with the light grey of the dress' body. Plus there's that fantastic kangaroo pocket on the front and the hood on the back for extra snugliness. Ava was pretty keen to snag one of these dresses for herself too, however the range only goes up to size 6X.  

To me, the Dip Dye dress, like pretty much the whole range, is perfect for exploring - even if that exploring is just in our own courtyard! The whole range is perfect for the classroom too, and I know that Lola will definitely be getting a lot of school wear out of her new outfits. With a few layers such as leggings or tights, and a denim jacket, our Burt's Bees Baby outfits will take the kids through Winter as well. 

If you're after quality 100% organic clothing at an affordable price for your little busy bees make sure to check out Burt's Bees Baby Fall range here. Sizes range from 2 through to 6X. The coordinating baby range features sizes 0-3 months through to 24 months.

Make sure to sign up for the Burt's Bees Baby's newsletter to receive 10% off your first purchase. 

Friday, 5 August 2016

Our Stay at the Madonna Inn

After my last post about our trip to San Diego over the Winter break last year I thought it was about time I finished posting about the rest of that particular trip. 

Our visit to San Diego was part of our Southern California road trip over the girls' Winter break from school. We drove down to Los Angeles where we spent a few days hanging out in Downtown and Longbeach before heading to San Diego on Christmas Eve. We then spent four days in San Diego before starting our drive back north. We spent a day at Legoland and then made our way to San Luis Obpiso and the subject of this particular post: the Madonna Inn.

Where to start about the Madonna Inn? Let's see... It's tacky. It's over the top. It's pink. It's one of the most amazing places I've ever stayed!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Kids Free San Diego


Over the the girls' Winter break from school last year we left the gloomy Bay Area weather behind for a week and headed to the sunshine in Southern California. Our main destination was San Diego, a city that Kim and I had visited in the past before the kids were born.

Before our trip I went online and did a little research about places to take the kids. I knew that San Diego and its surrounds were home to Seaworld, Legoland and the world famous San Diego Zoo, but I hadn't realized just how many other amazing places to take the kids there were. The more I researched, the more it looked like our five days in San Diego were not going to be enough!

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Berkeley Kite Festival 2016

Yesterday the girls and I headed down to Berkeley's waterfront for the annual Berkeley Kite Festival.

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