Thursday, July 17, 2014

FREE Birthday Gift from Zoes Kitchen

If you like Zoes Kitchen restaurant, sign up for zmail also known as Zoe-Mail where you'll receive special offers, promotions, and the latest news.

When I signed up, I received a coupon for a FREE 1/2 pint of chicken salad (offer expires 14 days after date sent) via email after signing up.

About a week before my birthday, Zoes Kitchen emailed me a free gift - A FREE ENTREE with the purchase of a Second Entree (offer expires 21 days after date sent)!  I think that is a pretty great birthday freebie.

I've never tried their chicken salad, but we are big fans of their fresh Greek Salad and the Chicken Kabob and Steak Kabob entrees.  Braised White Beans with fresh rosemary is our favorite side.  The hummus is also delicious and instead of eating it with pitas, I like to top it on the Greek Salad, yum!

Tip:  We also use their app, where they often give out free goodies (coupons for freebies)!

We stumbled upon Zoes Kitchen Restaurant, while out shopping and it became a fast favorite!  We love their fresh Mediterranean dishes and with kids their fast casual approach to dining works well for us.

Have you ever tried Zoe's Kitchen restaurant?  If so, let me know if you have a favorite menu item that's different than ours.  I always like to find new favorites!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Creative Baby Proofing - Securing Kitchen Drawers

I love using magnetic baby locks for our kitchen and bathroom cabinets and drawers. They are more expensive than traditional safety door latches, but they have been worth the extra expense as they don’t allow pinched baby fingers or noisily banging cabinet doors open and shut. Their best feature is that they can be switched on and off, so when our son outgrew this stage I was able to turn them off for a few years until our daughter was born and we again needed extensive baby proofing. My husband likes that they don’t need to be uninstalled when children outgrow the baby stage. In fact, they are also useful if you have guests visiting with little ones. Unfortunately we didn’t discover magnetic door latches right away with our first child, so they aren’t installed on every kitchen drawer and cabinet in our home. Since our daughter is a little explorer, she quickly figured out which drawers were not locked. As we found out the hard way, she can make quick work of emptying their contents all over the kitchen floor! Until we install another pack of magnetic door locks, we needed a quick baby proofing solution. I initially thought a yard stick would do the trick, but we didn’t have one of those on hand so my husband creatively grabbed a few of our son’s Discovery Kids building sticks from the playroom.

What was once used to build a fort, igloo, or rocket ship is now a creative way to keep our baby from getting into the kitchen drawers! It has worked great for several weeks.  I’m moving up the installation of more magnetic baby locks on the to do list, because it’s only a matter of time before our baby figures out how to work around this temporary baby proofing fix.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Pitfalls of Dining Outdoors

Outdoor dining isn't all it's cracked up to be! A gigantic bumblebee took residence on the back of my husband's sleeve, my son's lunch accidentally got bumped splattering all over the patio much to his dismay, and the grand finale was this lovely splat on my iPhone!
Another save for the old otterbox! Thank goodness that bird poop didn't land on my head or our food. Hope your day was less eventful! :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Countdown to the End of School Craft - Paper Chain

I can hardly believe my son will be graduating PreSchool very soon. So we can all easily visualize how many days are left before he's out of school for summer, we made a simple countdown to the end of school craft, a paper chain.

This project incorporates lots of skill builders, like measuring and marking with a ruler, cutting and writing practice, calendar skills, and building a paper chain.

First, we pulled out two sheets of construction paper. My son picked green and blue. They don't need to be new sheets of paper, our sheets had already been used for drawing and painting projects.

Next we used a ruler and measured two inch strips that we marked with a pencil. Each sheet of construction paper makes 6 strips. My son used his scissors to cut the strips and then arranged them on a pile in a pattern of green - blue - green - blue until all the strips were organized.
We used our school calendar to count how many days are left until the end of school. He wrote the month and day on each strip of paper for each day we are counting down. On the last day of school I added a note, "Last Day of School! HELLO SUMMER!"
We used the strips of paper to make a paper chain with tape and hung it in our kitchen for a visual reminder of how few days we have left of school this year. This was a fun craft to create, but my favorite part is watching my son excitedly remove a link from the paper chain each day, read the date, and count how many days are left of PreSchool.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Handprint Flowers Art Project for Mother's Day

For Mother's Day, we made a handprint art project using paint to create handprint flowers.
My son is a pro at making handprint art projects thanks to his PreSchool teachers who do so many fun crafts with the kids. I started our project by making his print in purple. It turned out nice and crisp, but there was a white spot in the middle so I had him use red paint to create a thumbprint heart in the center.

This was my daughters first handprint art project, she recently turned one so I wasn't sure how it would turn out. It took both my husband and I to capture her tiny pink print and she did close her hand while I was brushing on the paint.  Even though her print ended up lower on the paper than I originally planned, it looked great and we just worked with what we got adding green stems and leaves.

I love looking at those cute tiny prints and look forward to creating more handprint art projects with the kids!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happy Easter Card featuring Egg Shaped Bunny and Chick

My son and I worked on putting together cute Easter egg shaped bunnies and chicks from a felt and foam activity kit I bought at Michael's craft store.  An easy and fun afternoon craft project for Easter.
After we made a few, we decided they would make cute Easter cards. So we got out brown cards and cut pastel green paper into grass. To save time, we only cut grass where you could see it when the card was finished.

Here's our Happy Easter card with an Easter egg shaped bunny and chick.

My preschooler is working on all sorts of writing and drawing activities to develop his handwriting skills. So he was in charge of writing Happy Easter inside the cards.

I love the egg shaped Easter critters. If you can't find a similar Easter themed felt activity kit, you could make cute egg shaped bunnies and chicks out of paper.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Layered Watermelon Fruit Cake - First Birthday Cake made of Fresh Fruit!

This is one fruit cake everyone will love to eat! Since we had a small family get together on the weekend with a traditional birthday cake and mini smash cake for our one year old. We wanted to have something special for my daughters actual birthday during the week. I decided to make one of the watermelon “cakes” that are popular now. So I came up with an idea for the design and purchased fruit at the grocery store.

To my surprise, I cut the fruit and built the cake in way less time than it takes me to make a traditional homemade birthday cake. Here’s how the fruit stacked up. The base is made of a small round seedless watermelon and the top tier is a section of fresh pineapple. I topped it with whole strawberries and decorated with blueberries around each layer. Since my daughter was born in February, I added sweet little pineapple hearts cut out with a mini heart shaped cookie cutter around the watermelon layer that are attached with toothpicks.
I decided not to add whipped coconut cream or traditional whipped cream for frosting. I thought the leftover fruit would keep better without it. Since my baby girl is too young to blow out a candle, I made a number 1 pick on the computer that I punched out with my scallop punch and attached to a wooden kabob stick with a glue dot. The long kebab stick went through the layers of fruit on the cake and would help to keep it stable if you were to try to transport it to a different location.

I love the way this watermelon fruit cake turned out! In fact, I would be thrilled to have one of these for my birthday. The best part was the birthday girl loved it and thoroughly enjoyed sampling all the different types of fruit on her cake. If there are any leftovers, they’re healthy and pack up nicely for lunches or easy snacking.

I wish I would have took a picture of the aftermath of this creation. Lets just say there were watermelon rinds, pineapple pieces and various other chopped fruit scraps scattered across the kitchen island like a real live fruit ninja game. Even so, this birthday fruit cake was totally worth it.

Happy 1st Birthday Our Little Sweet!