The August Birchbox's theme this month was back to school/beauty school. Unless you have been living in a cave the last few weeks, it is obvious this is a fitting theme with the whole back to school thing that has been going on. This month, there were five different samples in the box.
Caldrea Hand Soap: This item was really a take it or leave it sort of thing. I really don't get myself whipped up into a frenzy over hand soap, but it is something that's always good to have around. The box had two single use packets of the soap, in the Ginger Pomelo scent.
Per-fekt Beauty Lash Pefection Gel: This little guy is a make-up bag essential. It came in a cute little tube that would be perfect for in your purse or on the go. It smells a little funky, but we'll see how it looks when actually used. I haven't tested it yet, but am looking forward to it.
DDF Brightening Cleanser: I am really excited about this sample. I think that a good facial cleanser is one of the most important things a gal can have in her beauty arsenal. This sample was deluxe sized. The makers of this cleanser claim that over time it helps smooth and brighten skin. I've been in the market lately for a new facial cleanser, so who knows, maybe this one will fit the bill :)
Schick Hydro Silk Razor: While a razor in itself isn't really something I would have wanted in a sample kit, this actually was a really good deal. A razor will of course get used, so it is definelty a good sample to get as well as this item alone retails for $9.99, so just by receiving this razor, I've received what I paid for the box.
Viva La Juicy La Fleur: While I actuall prefer the original Viva La Juicy scent, this one is not far behind in comparison. It smells wonderful. It opens with a sparkling cascade of mandarin and wild berries. Next, sweet notes of honeysuckle, gardenia petals, and jasmine peek through, followed by a lingering trace of waterlily. It is a very fresh clean smell that would be great for everyday use.
Box value this month would probably be about at $22.11. While the box was completely worth the $10 I paid for it, I am a littel disappointed in the selection this month. While the razor and soap are nice, I really would have preferred to see something that I would not normally invest into, so I could try something new. I was very pleased with the other items in the box though (how can you go wrong with facial cleanser and mascara?)
If you don't get a birchbox but are interested in checking it out, you can click here.
If you subscribe to a birchbox, what did you receive this August? What did you think of the box? Do you think you got your moneys worth this month?
Today Sydney had an assessment to determine whether or not she would be accepted into the preschool class at the local elementary school.
Rewind a minute here, the local school recently received a grant to start a preschool class. Unfortunately, the class is going to be limited in size. Due to this, they are planning on taking the children who need the most help, or who would benefit most from being in a preschool class. To determine which kids will be in the class, they are doing assessments to see where each kid is developmentally.
Sydney arrived today ready for her assessment.
They had three teachers set up with stations to test different skill sets. One teacher tested speech skills and basic things such as if the child new their name, their alphabet, etc.
There was another teacher who testing for fine motor skills. She had Sydney stand on one leg, throw a little bean bag at a target, hop on one foot, use scissors, as well as draw different shapes.
The last teacher asked questions regarding shapes, numbers, and different things such as being able to identify emotions in a picture.
When all was said and done, Sydney was not ready to leave. She enjoyed being in the classroom and looking at all the different things they had there. One of the teachers even asked her if she was Ashton's sister (She said she looks just like her brother who she sees on recess duty).
One of my biggest worries before going into the assessment was waiting afterwards on if she was going to be one of the lucky few who get to go to preschool this year. Luckily for me and my little patience, they were pretty immediate with their answer. Drum roll please.....
**She got in!!!**
While it may seem I'm excited about her being possibly mediocre, that is completely not the case. Turns out, only 10 students are signed up for preschool, so everyone gets to go to school who signed up this year, regardless of how absolutely brilliant they may be (I'm completely not biased her at all ☺). Sydney gets to start school next week. She will be in a class of 10 students (2 boys and 8 girls including herself). She is so stoked. I am so happy for her, although it is weird to think that all of my kids are in school (even if it is only 1/2 day for Sydney).
Her only real concern after the assessment was that she didn't have a backpack yet for school and that she didn't get to eat lunch.
Happy Monday Tuesday! This week I am determined to be on top of things I am a day late again☺. I actually started this yesterday, but then got pulled away by my other things happening around the house. I am almost thinking I may need to do my menu planning on Sundays to get it up by Mondays. This week is going to be an easy week hopefully, with simple meals to keep from going nutty with all the stuff going on this week. The kids are starting school, but the schedule is a bit nutty with it being the first week. Also, Sydney has an assessment to see if she will be going to preschool or not, as well as Labor day weekend is almost upon us. Here's what my family is doing for dinner this week:
Chinese Take Out
(A delicious way to celebrate the last day of summer vacation!)
Chicken Pot Pie
Also, this week I need to figure out a salad to make for a contest that's happening at my workplace. It's a summer salad contest... not really sure what to whip up for it yet.. Any suggestions?
As usual, linking this up to Laura's Menu Plan Monday. If you're stumped for ideas, it's a great resource for trying new things for your menu plans.
Also, feel free to stop by and say "Hi" on facebook at my page: Angela, Herself.
So what's your solution to the ever present question.... What's for dinner?
The first day of school has come to be a bittersweet experience for me. While I rejoice in the fact that my little boy is growing up to be such a caring and wonderful person full of integrity, deep down my heart aches that he is already becoming such a big little person.
Today there while dropping Ashton off, there was a parent teacher meeting type session the first hour of school. I met his teacher (Mrs. Stewart - she seemed really sweet), and she let us know what she expects of the kiddos and the whole discipline system (sorta like the whole pirate black spot thing, except they death is not the sentence...at least not at the hands of the school), if they get multiple warnings (yellow and red card) and if they get to the black card, the parents are called.
Mrs. Stewart also went over the homework expectations and the general things that they will be working on. She also let us know lunch is at 11:30 everyday for the rascals. (On a side note, I'm going to be keeping a picture journal of Ashton's lunches, in an effort to keep them varied, and in case I run out of ideas ☺. You can find them here) Here's Ashton's first ever school lunch:
The classic PB&J, blueberries, honey wheat crackers, sugar cookies, and juice
Unfortunately, Ashton's sandwich was in a separate pocket from the rest of his food. He didn't realize that there were two pockets on his lunch box, so he thought he only had crackers, cookies, and blueberries. Luckily another child in his class was nice enough to share his sandwich with him. Poor kid, he asked his dad when he got him if I was mad at him. I think we will have to pack his lunch together next time☺.
After this, she read "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn.
If you haven't read this book, it is very cute. It is basically about the little raccoon having to go to school so the mama raccoon kisses his hand so he'll always have her/her love with him, even while he's not with her.
Then it was time to say good-bye to the kids so they can finish their day. The kids lined up outside where the parents can pick them up after school. Then Ashton kissed my palm, and told me he loves me.
Why is it that even when you know it's not good-bye forever (only a few hours), it still is hard to say good-bye? Maybe it has to do with the whole feeling of saying good-bye to the little pre-school portion of Ashton that has me wishing I could hang on a little longer. The fact that he is at school all day this year really just makes him getting older hit home.
Can you smell the fall in the air? No? Truthfully, neither can I. It has still been in the high 80s low 90s this week and truthfully, it doesn't really look like it's going to break quite yet. But I am counting down the days until autumn begins. (Only 30 more days!!!!!)
Fall is one of my favorite seasons. The leaves falling, the cooler temperatures, and just the feel of the season. The return of pumpkin spice lattes, jumping in leaf piles, and pretty much everything about the season. I love it ♥!
In honor of the upcoming autumn season (as well as to hasten the time) I decided we needed some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies in our house.
These delicious cakey cookies will keep me occupied (while only momentarily) and hopefully keep my mind off of the 30 long days left until fall.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies from allrecipes.com
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. milk
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop by spoonful on greased cookie cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for approx. 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.
Then kick back, relax, and enjoy a cookie, or two, or ...
**Linking this up over at the Mandatory Mooch for another Tasty Thursday. Also linking up over at Six Sister's Stuff Strut Your Stuff Saturday**
Happy Tuesday! Again, this week, I am a day late on my menu planning... Hopefully once school has started I'll get it a little more together, but things have been hectic lately trying to get everything lined up for that!
This week it really feels like there is a ton going on! This week, the fair is in town. While my family and myself are not actually planning on attending the fair this year, it sure means work is crazy this week with all the extra activity that goes into the events surrounding the fair. We're also gearing up for the beginning of the school year while trying to enjoy the last of the summer as well. Ashton is getting ready to start first grade, Jaycob is starting his middle school career, and Sydney may be starting pre-school soon (not 100% sure on that but we will see).
This Monday, normally we have a meal with the entire family since it is my hubby's day off, but this week he took the boys out for some guy time. They all went out to the movies together, so Sydney and I had a little bit of "girl time." It was a blast. She really hams it up when she wants to, and the other day was no exception.
We went out to a local eatery called Pacific Pasta & Grill. They are so amazing! Not only do they have fantastic food, but kids eat free Mondays in the afternoons, so that makes it delicious and affordable.
Sydney of course ordered the norm (chicken nuggets) and I ordered Thai Peanut Stir-fry, which I always order there. So yummy, and it was great to have some girl time with her. She talked about her day, and anything else that randomly crossed her mind such as the fact her brothers are so mean, and that she had a good nap. She also told me the fish in the tank next to our table was named Nemo, and that if she was a fish, I would have to leave her at the restaurant. What a goose.
Anyways, here is what's poppin' in my kitchen this week:
Thai Peanut Stir-Fry/Chicken Nuggets
Rosemary Dijon Chicken
Roasted red potatoes
(Ashton has been asking for these all weekend)
I'm also hoping to possibly make some Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies this week; with fall just around the corner, I have been craving these! As usual, this has been linked up to Laura's Menu Plan Monday.
So what's your family having for dinner this week?
I love peaches. Especially ripe just off the tree peaches. Those are the best. About 10 minutes from my house there is a u-pick orchard full of these beautiful, juicy, delectable palmfuls of fleshy goodness. Unfortunately, once picked, they really don't seem to last long enough. That of course is where my new love for canning kicks in.
This past week, I've canned about 12 pints of peaches in a light syrup.
I've frozen several pounds of peaches for some nice smoothies or peach cobblers later this year.
I've made some really delicious peach butter.
As well as some jam, of course, was whipped up as well. Although I love peaches plain, I think my favorite thing that was done with the peaches was the peach butter. It came out perfectly! The only change I think I may make the next time around is possibly adding some vanilla bean to it. It is so good, I could almost eat it out of the jar by itself.
**8/17/12 - I made the peach butter and peach jelly with vanilla bean the other day.... AMAZING! The vanilla adds some real depth to the jelly/butter!**
Here's the recipe for the peach butter, if you want to give it a whirl, trust me, it is worth the effort!
Cut a small "x" in the bottom of each peach. Dip each peach into a pot of boiling water for 30 - 60 seconds, and then into a bowl of cold water for a minute. The peels should slide right off (as long as the peaches are completely ripe).
Halve your peaches and remove the pits, then cut each half into quarters. Place peach chunks and water in a large bowl and bring to a boil. Simmer until peaches are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they cook evenly. Once cooked, puree in a blender or food processor until it is the consistency you prefer. (Be super careful on this step, the mixture is very hot!)
Return the peaches to the large pot, add the sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice and bring to a good simmer/gentle boil, cooking them at this level for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more often near the end, as it thickens up and the fruit masses risk scorching on the bottom of the pot.
There are several methods to test for doneness: You can drizzle a ribbon of sauce across the surface; when that ribbon holds its shape before dissolving into the pot, it is done. You can also dollop a spoonful onto a cold plate. If no water forms a ring around it within a few minutes, it is done. Others use a spoon; if the butter remains rounded on a spoon for two minutes, it is done. You can also check the pot itself; the butter is usually done when a wooden spoon leaves a clear train when scraped across the bottom.
If you are canning it, follow the normal canning procedures. The processing time for these is 10 minutes. Otherwise, let the butter cool and put it in an airtight container in the fridge. It should be good for at least two weeks.
Happy Tuesday! This week I am running a little behind on things, hence the reason Menu Plan Monday is being done on Tuesday, but oh well. This past week has been a little hectic here at our house. The weather has been so hot lately, we've had sprinkler issues, lots of yard work has been done, as well as I've been working with some glorious peaches this past week (more on those peaches later ☺)
Here is the game plan for the week in our household:
Have you ever been at the grocery store checking out, and one of your children says something to the checker that makes you want to cringe and laugh out loud at the same time?
Let's rewind shall we?
My four year old was taking a bath Saturday and when I asked her to wash body, she stated she couldn't because her pee pee hurt. Without getting all detailed and what not, it is clear she has a rash (probably since she is only an apprentice at the fine art of wiping after going pee).
I went to see if we had diaper rash cream to help a sister out, and of course we don't have any. My daughter then decides that since we're bringing stuff up, it really hurts her, and she needs a solution immediately. No patience at all, I wonder where she gets that from...
It's only ten in the evening, no big deal to go to the store right? Piling her and her brother in the car, we went down to the nearest supermarket. We walked inside, grabbed a tube of cream, and head over to the one check stand that's still open.
The checker this evening was a teenage girl. My daughter immediately strikes up a conversation with her. She proudly declared that the whipped cream we were buying (it was diaper rash cream) was for her. She then loudly says, I need it because I have a rash.
I wasn't sure if I should be terribly embarrassed or proud, as a parent, because my daughter is so truthful.
The checker laughed, and gave up our 'whipped cream' so we could head out.
Ashton's words when we got home, "Man, I'm glad I'm not a girl. You guys sure have a lot of bathroom stuff to do."
Cook pasta according to its package's directions. Drain.
Heat cream cheese on stove over medium low heat until melted. Stir in heavy cream. Stir until completely combined. Add onion powder and garlic salt until it tastes how you would like it to. Stir in one cup of the cheese until smooth consistency.
In a 9x13, layer noodles, chicken, bacon and ham. Pour sauce over top. Sprinkle top with 1/2 cup cheese and bread crumbs.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until heated through.
Dessert time is my favorite time of the day. If I could skip every other entree and go straight to the finishing course, I would. In fact, when I was pregnant with my 6 year old, I used to stash cookies under my bed, you know, just in case there was a cookie shortage.
Lately we have had soaring temperatures. We've hit 100+ degrees the last few days, and even as I'm writing this (at 9:30 at night), it has only cooled to about 91 degrees. This heat wave has really put a damper on my baking. Who wants to turn on the oven when it is so hot outside? So I had to come up with alternative ways to pacify my sweet tooth. I turned to good ole' faithful Pinterest for help on this. I actually found a recipe for an ice cream cake, which may be made later this week if this hot weather persists, but I settled on an adapted version of a strawberry trifle I had tested a few months ago.
This recipe is so simple, and only takes about 10 minutes to make. It uses angel food cake, strawberries, cool whip, cream cheese, orange juice, blackberry, and sugar.
The first step is to slice the strawberries and then mix them with in a bowl with about 1/2 cup of sugar. This will cause them to start to ooze some syrup. Set this bowl aside for later.
In your mixer, put the cream cheese, orange juice, and the remaining sugar, mix together until smooth. Then add 3 cups of cool whip and mix until it is fully incorporated into the mixture.
Cut up the angel food cake into about 1 inch square pieces and set to the side until you are ready to put the trifle all together. Put about 1 cup of the strawberries into a separate bowl and mush them up. They will create a nice chunky sauce. Then it's time to put everything together.
In a trifle bowl, put a layer of angel food cake. You should use about half of the food cake you cut up.
Drizzle half of the mushed up strawberry chunks over the plain angel food cake. Then put half of the cream cheese mixture over the angel food cake pieces. On top of the cream cheese mixture, place the half of the strawberries and as many blackberries as you would like.
Then repeat with the remaining ingredients.
On top of the final layer of fruit, put the remaining 1 cup of cool whip. Smooth it over the top so all the fruit is covered. I put heart sprinkles and lemon flavored sprinkles on top, just to add a little pizazz. I think lemon zest would have been a good substitute for the lemon sprinkles as well though.
In a bowl, toss sliced strawberries with 1/2 cup of sugar. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, orange juice, and remaining sugar until smooth. Add 3 cups cool whip. Set aside
In a separate bowl, add 1 cup of the strawberries that are coated in sugar. Mush these up to drizzle over the angel food cake. Set aside.
In a trifle dish, place half of the pound cake in the bottom. Drizzle half of the mushed up strawberries over the angel food cake. Cover with half of the cream cheese mixture and half of the strawberries and blackberries. Repeat layers.
Then enjoy immediately, or put in the refrigerator for later.
This last week has really been a roller coaster ride for me. It has felt like I've barely had time to stop and catch my breath, between work, keeping up the home, the regular evening activities. We also had a few relatively unexpected events take place this week and I've been attempting to get my kids set up for the new school year that starts in three short weeks.
Last week, our menu plan ran so smoothly until about Friday, where it basically train wrecked into chaos. This wasn't for lack of planning so much as I just had too much to do to really follow what had been planned. Here's hoping that this week goes much smoother.
I've actually been looking around on Pinterest (you can follow me here) for some ideas on what to cook this week that isn't too complicated but will still be crowd pleasers for my family. Here's a few of the things I've found:
I have been eyeing this chicken cordon bleu pasta recipe for a while now, and who can resist ice cream cake (especially one that is super simple).
Here's what is planned for my family this week:
Chicken, Bacon, and Cheddar Sandwiches
Homemade French Fries
Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta
Mexican or Spanish Rice
Honey Bourbon Chicken
Meatloaf? Pork Chops?
Sunday is still a little up in the air as to what is going to be made... I may try a new recipe if I can find one, or I may to meatloaf or pork chops... Depends on what we're in the mood for that day I suppose.
I don't know about your family, but I know in mine, one of my kids favorite snacks/treats/morning on the go breakfast is Poptarts. Those delicious little pastries frosted with sugar and filled with high fructose corn syrup and who knows what else. When we have these in our pantry, they disappear like they are going out of style. Due to this predicament, and the fact that they are completely not healthy for you at all, I decided to test out a new recipe I found for Homemade Poptarts.
This recipe actually only had a few ingredients and was actually really simple. It used whole wheat flour, butter, sea salt, yogurt (I used Greek yogurt since it has more protein in it than regular), and jelly (Great way to use some of the homemade jelly that has been whipped up in my kitchen lately).
The first step was to mix up the dough for the poptarts. Measuring out the flour, salt, yogurt, and melted butter, dump them all in a bowl and mix until everything is all good and mixed. Then, knead the dough a few times to show it who's boss (and to make it workable).
After the dough is ready to be worked with (it's been kneaded into submission), roll the dough out onto a well floured surface.
The dough should be rolled pretty thin. The original recipe I used said that they made about 15-20 poptarts, but I only got 8 out of the batch so I may have rolled mine too thick. I'd say it was about 1/4" thick, so maybe try slightly thinner if you want to get more poptarts per batch. After the dough is all rolled out, cut into a rectangular shape. Try to keep them roughly the same size. This will facilitate the sealing process once the filling has been put into the pastries.
Next, put the jelly of your choice onto half of the cut out rectangles. I used blueberry and cherry jelly on the ones I made, but it really is up to you. I think cinnamon and sugar would be pretty tasty as well. Once half of the rectangles are jammed up, put an unjammed rectangle on top of it and seal the edges shut. Then place the sealed pastries onto a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Then remove from the oven. Once they are out of the oven, you can enjoy immediately, or they can be frozen for later use too. They toast up great in the toaster.
Now onto the reviews:
Ashton said that these poptarts are pretty tasty. He said that the blueberry ones were very good and that he thinks that they should be packed into his school lunches once he goes back to school.
Sydney straight up refused to eat them. She said that they looked gross. I think the lack of shiny wrappers sort of was a turn off for her.
Personally, I thought that they tasted good. They weren't exactly like a poptart, but a decent substitute. While I can see myself making these occasionally, they were a little labor intensive for only 8 poptarts. I may stick to buying them for now. Or perhaps I'll try another recipe to see if it yields better results (appeal wise with Sydney as well as quantity wise for myself).
Have you ever tried making homemade poptarts? If so, how did they turn out?
Here's the recipe I tried, in case you want to give it a whirl ☺
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup melted butter
1 cup plain yogurt
About 5 ounces fruit jelly or jam
Begin by mixing the flour, salt, butter, and yogurt.
Knead the dough just a little bit to make it nice and workable. Roll out the dough on a large, well floured surface. Use a knife to cut the dough into the desired poptart size you would like.
Place about 1/2 tsp. of jelly on half of the dough rectangles. Spread the jelly around, leaving the edges free. Find a second rectangle that closely matches with each jellied one. Place it on top and use a fork to seal the edges.
Lay each poptart in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned.