Creative Costumes

I love to encourage my children to have dramatic play where they can pretend to be a super hero or a princess. We have lots of costumes. I usually buy them at consignment stores when they put out their costumes for Halloween. There is a pretty good selection and the prices are drastically cheaper than if I bought them new so I can pick up a couple of costumes for each child.

That being said, I also encourage my children to use their imagination. So what if we have a complete wizard costume? Wouldn't those pieces look even better if they were combined with other cool costumes...or sports equipment?

Here is Nicholas' latest costume creation...
* swimsuit
* soccer shin guards
* water shoes
* Bibleman cape
* wizard hat
* archery elbow guards
* bow and arrow set
* gloves from toy tool bench

I just love this kid's creativity!

Tea Party with Rachel

Nicholas, Rachel, and I spend so much time together during the day that most of our activities are geared towards something we can all do and that both kids will enjoy.

However, I love it when one of the children is in a summer camp or Stuart lets one tag along with him to run errands. It gives me quality one on one time with the other child. Even though they both get time with me all day, there is just something special about one on one time when they have my undivided attention all to themselves.

Rachel and I recently had some girl time together so we threw a little tea party for her baby doll and her Barbie Cinderella.

Rachel got all dressed up for the occasion.

I went to the dining room to get a little silver plate that belonged to my grandmother to make our party just a little bit more special. Rachel saw where I got it from and, of course, I caught her over their exploring for other treasures just a minute later.

She made sure that all of her guests were taken care of.

I just love how excited she looked as we finished setting up for the party.

We had a wonderful tea party complete with tea and hot chocolate, pastries, bread, and fresh fruit.

Rachel was the perfect hostess. She refilled all of our cups over and over and over again.

Baby Rachel

Rachel loves to pretend to be a baby. She will pretend to cry like a little baby and kick her feet up in the air like a baby.

And of course, she likes to crawl into her baby doll's crib.

It's almost a daily event for her to be in the doll's crib or the doll's stroller. I hardly ever see the doll in either of them anymore!

Free Child Labor!

I don't think Stuart could be more excited...

Nicholas wanted to learn how to mow the grass!

Hooray for free child labor!

It started out a little shaky. Notice that all of the tires are NOT touching the ground.

With Stuart's help they got that problem fixed. Notice the concentration (aka stress) on Stuart's face and the smile on Nicholas' face!

Stuart did have to help with the turns because the lawn mower is still kind of big for the little guy to maneuver.

Still a big smile on Nicholas' face and Stuart is finally looking a little more relaxed too.

Look! No hands! Big smile on Stuart's face but I think Nicholas was starting to get tired about now.

Nicholas didn't finish mowing the yard but he was quite proud of his newly found skill.

Now that he has shown interest in it, I think we might need to make this part of his regular weekend fun!

No Time To Cook Dinner?

We seem to get busier and busier each year. Now that Nicholas is 7 years old, he is involved in several different activities. I take him to hockey and swimming once a week and karate twice a week. Unfortunately, some of these classes don't start until 5:30 in the evening which creates a serious time crunch for getting home, cooking dinner, bathing the kids and getting them to bed. It has gotten really hard to come home and have time to cook a wholesome dinner for my family.

I've tried a few dinners in a crock pot. They are easy because you usually just throw the ingredients in the pot and turn it on. My problem is that I don't usually think about dinner in the morning so I often forget about the crock pot until later in the afternoon and then it is too late.

Our other option is to pick up food in a drive through on the way home from karate. It's nice having a hot meal as soon as we get home. However, we started looking at the budget and we are spending much more money on dining out than we should. Plus I hate to think of all those extra calories from french fries and burgers that we wouldn't consume if only I had time to cook at home.

But let me share my latest secret with you.

It's my life preserver when life gets too hectic to cook a good meal at home.'s Marie Callender’s.

Yes, I fed my family a frozen meal for dinner

...and they LOVED it!

Just take a look at what we had for dinner.

This is Marie Callender's Turkey Breast with Stuffing. It comes with creamy mashed potatoes & gravy (my husband's favorite food in the world), and green beans and carrots.

It took me only 6 minutes in the microwave to cook this.

I added salad and some dinner rolls and dinner was DONE!

The meal was rich and flavorful. It could have easily passed for my own home cooking...except that no one in my family would believe me if I told them I cooked something this yummy!

No more crock pots or fast food runs for us on busy evenings!

Note: Marie Callender's provided me with a free meal for review purposes and compensated me for my time involved in the review. However, the comments and opinions are all my own. I would not promote a product that I didn't sincerely want to recommend to others.

Easy Eggs Benedict

We usually have cold cereal or oatmeal for breakfast during the week. But on the weekends we sleep in a little later and enjoy a later brunch that is a little heartier.

One of our favorite weekend morning breakfasts is Eggs Benedict. Several wonderful flavors that blend perfectly together.

And believe it or not, Eggs Benedict is really not hard to make at all.

English muffins
Packaged hollandaise sauce mix (I use Knorr)
Canadian bacon

I found the perfect tool to help poach the eggs for my eggs benedict.

These are just little silicone cups that each hold one egg. To poach the egg, rub a little butter or cooking spray in the pod the pour the whole egg into the pod. Place the pods in a pan of boiling water and cover. Cook until done to your liking. These little Poach Pods make it so easy!

While the eggs are poaching, proceed with the other steps.

Make your hollandaise sauce based on package directions. I used to use a fancy recipe to make it from scratch but it was time-prohibitive for a busy weekend morning. These packaged sauces are just as good and so much quicker and easier.

Separate the english muffins in half. I really like the pre-sliced kind because these are thin and hard to cut evenly. Toast each side in the toaster.

Cover each half with a slice of cheese. We use a colby jack blend but any kind would be good.

I usually spread out the canadian bacon on a plate and warm it for a few seconds in the microwave just to take the chill off. Place two slices of canadian bacon on each english muffin half.

About this time, the eggs are done. I usually stick a fork down into one of the yolks just to be sure it is cooked all the way through.

Place one poached egg on each english muffin half and cover it all with hollandaise sauce.

Grab a knife and fork and dig in to this "fancy" breakfast that was so much easier than it looks.

Story Time at The Amon Carter Museum

This morning we had plans to attend story time at The Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth. The theme was Eggs. So to go along with our theme, we had a short lesson on eggs before we left.

I showed the kids different ways to cook eggs. This wasn't really new to Nicholas but Rachel seemed really interested. We talked about raw eggs, boiled eggs, poached eggs, and scrambled eggs. I don't make fried eggs!

After all the cooking in the kitchen, we were running just a few minutes behind schedule. We got to the museum and the parking lot was full. Fortunately, an attendant was out there with a printed map with directions to the nearest parking garage. She said that the museum would validate our parking ticket for us so it wouldn't cost us anything. Great except that the story time was supposed to start now and we still had to find the parking garage and walk back to the museum. Next time I will know that you really need to get there early for a good parking spot.

The story time at The Amon Carter is really wonderful. The children sit in front of a piece of art work while they hear a story about the theme. Then they discuss the art work and the story and the overall theme.

The story we heard here was a Dr. Seuss book called, "Scrambled Eggs Super!" and the art work was titled "Egg Beater". How fun to bring stories and art work together.

The story time was actually divided into 4 groups that rotated around to all of the egg-themed art work. I spoke to a lady who works at the museum and she said that they have had as many as 300 people attend story time so they have to divide the group up to manage such a large group.

After we had participated in all of the story times and art work studies, everyone met back up in the lobby area for a craft and snack. There were kids and parents everywhere!

The museum provided each child with a gift bag that had information about the museum and other story time events as well as a plastic egg for them to decorate and keep. They also provided stickers and colored pencils to decorate the eggs.

The stickers were neat and acted kind of like a chalkboard for the colored pencils.

As great as story time was, I think snack time was Rachel's favorite. She loved the cookies!

Nicholas enjoyed the snack too. However, I was especially proud of him because when he noticed some of the workers starting to clean up in the area next to us, he went over and started helping them pick up. Several of them commented about what a great helper he was. I could see that the compliments really made him proud.

On a side note, I really liked the little craft tables that the museum had for the kids to do their craft work on. You can kind of see them in this picture.

They are a good height for children when they are sitting on the floor. I can see bringing this outdoors when we are doing schoolwork or craft projects at a park. But it could also make for a nice bed tray for a sick child lying in bed. I just might have to pick up 2 of these.

The Amon Carter museum is celebrating their 50 year anniversary next month and they are having a big celebration in honor of it.

Mr. Amon Carter was born in 1879 and was an outstanding citizen in Fort Worth during his time. He played a major role in the city's development. In 1945, he and his wife created a foundation to improve the quality of life for individuals in Tarrant County. Mr. Carter died in 1955 but his will provided for the founding of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art to be free and open to the public.

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art is located at 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth. Their hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Thursday: 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Sunday: Noon–5 p.m. They are closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission is free. For more information, please call them at 817-738-1933 or visit the Amon Carter Museum website.

WineStyles in Flower Mound

We had a wonderful date night last night. We met up some good friends at WineStyles in Flower Mound for a wine and food pairing.

We sampled six different kinds of wines so we could taste the difference in the characteristics of each.

We had a delightful tray of cheese, crackers, and chocolates to pair with the wines.

My husband and I are complete wine non-aficianados. If there is a "Wine Tasting for Dummies" book then I need to get it. That's why I was so happy to be here where we learned about the different characteristics of wine, how to swirl, what "legs" of wine are, and much more.

There are an incredible selection of wines at WineStyles. We've had fun trying many new wines through their monthly wine club.

To make your wine selections easier, WineStyles organizes their wine selections by taste profile, eight to be exact, including Crisp, Silky, Rich and Bubbly for whites and Fruity, Mellow, Bold and Nectar for reds. This makes it much easier to select a wine that you will enjoy rather than having to search through wines organized by region.

While we were enjoying a night out with our friends, our kids were all catching up with each other while playing at Adventure Kids. It's so wonderful to be blessed with such a great group of friends.

We just might have to do this all again next month. There are some fabulous events coming up at WineStyles in Flower Mound in August.

Friday, August 05, 2011
Bellini’s? Yes Please!
6PM to 8PM

Nothing tastes better on a hot summer day than a icy bellini or a cold glass of Pinot Grigio! Join us this Friday evening as we explore the more refreshing side of Italian Wines and the Joys of Bellini’s! FREE

Thursday, August 11, 2011
Painting with a Twist- Back by Popular Demand!

7PM to 10PM

WineStyles will be providing flights of wine as you paint along with a local artist, at Painting with a Twist. The artist will show you step by step how to paint a beautiful work of art (Name of Painting is Wine & Dine) that you will take home at the end of the evening! Cost: $45 Per Person. Location: Painting with a Twist, 5810 Long Prairie Rd, Suite 600., Flower Mound.

For Reservations: click here

Friday, August 12, 2011
Wine Bottle Engraving and Wine Tasting

6PM to 8PM

Ken Brown's Engraving will be at our store engraving wine bottles. Ken engraves all by hand and has over 30 years of professional calligraphy experience. His work is a must see to believe! And as always, complimentary wine tasting. Free!

Friday, August 19, 2011
Live Music and Summer Sippers

6PM to 8PM

The Aaron Sandoval Band is back! Making their second appearance at WineStyles, The Aaron Sandoval Band will be rocking out with us aas we sip on fun and refreshing summer wines! Free wine tasting!

Friday, August 26, 2011
Massage and Wine

6PM to 8PM

We've put together the ultimate evening of relaxation, wine, and massage! On this relaxing summer evening, Peace of Mind & Body will be onsite offering chair massages ($1 per minute). So join us as we sample six wines and relax in the hands of Peace of Mind & Body! Free wine tasting!

WineStyles Flower Mound is located at 6100 Long Prairie Road, Suite 400, Flower Mound, TX 75028. For more information, please call them at 972-874-9315 or visit the WineStyles website.

Summer Day Camps at Win Kids

The kids have had so much fun at Win Kids Summer camps. Rachel took a 2 day "Princess Camp". She was so excited to be able to wear her Cinderella costume to camp that she was dancing around an singing all morning.

Our little princess.

She had a lot of fun playing in the gym, jumping on the trampoline, playing games with the other "princesses" and making fun crafts like a princess wand and her very own princess crown.

Next she will be going to the Win Kids Pony Luv camp where they get to ride on real ponies!

Nicholas took one of the Win Kids all day camps. For his they took a nature hike along Pilot Knoll, played with walkie talkies, paddled in inflatable boats along Lake Lewisville. Camo was optional but of course he had to get some. Thank goodness we live close to Bass Pro Shops. I wish you could see him in this picture but his camo seems to have hidden him pretty well!

Even though he spent the day outside hiking in the woods, he will still very excited when we picked him up. He showed us this fishing pole that he made on his own from a stick, a found piece of ribbon, an empty water bottle for a bobber, and a rock for a weight. Cool!

Anywhere But Her Own Bed

Today while Rachel was playing downstairs, she crawled up into her baby doll's crib. She brought with her several babies, several blankets, and a water mister fan like the one big brother took to camp this morning.

She said that she and her babies were going "Night Night".

You will notice that she barely has enough room to sit up in the crib, let alone try to sleep in it. But why should that influence the reasoning of a two year old?

Later today we read books and rocked in the glider and I put her down in her bed for a nap. When it was time to go pick up Nicholas from camp, I went into her room to find her like this.

Not only had she pulled out lots of clothing and toys everywhere but she had taken the changing pad down from the dresser, removed the pink cover and then used the velcro strap (which we have never used) to attach herself to the changing pad. Then she went to sleep.

Why can't she just sleep in her own bed?!