Thursday, July 13, 2017

Ten Beers to Consider for Your Next Party

With summer in full swing and a little one that's sleeping better at night, we thought it was time to bring back an old series - Happy Hour. We're going to start off with lists of our favorites and then move into reviewing specific beers and wines.


Today, the focus is on favorite beers that won't break the bank. Next week's post will focus on craft beers that you don't want to miss.

1. Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy
This one is perfect for a hot summer evening!

2. Lagunitas Lil' Sumpin' Sumpin'
Lagunitas is based in Petaluma, which isn't far from where we lived in California. We didn't realize how widespread their reach was until we moved to Michigan and found this one on the shelf.

3. Yeungling
This one isn't available everywhere, but if you can find it in a local grocery store, it's well worth a taste! 

4. Shiner Bock
Looking for a darker beer but don't want to splurge on all of the craft options? This one has you covered!

5. Killians Red
Reasonably priced and tasty - enough said!

6. Michelob Amber Bock
This one surprised us. We were at a local steakhouse and they had a beer on the menu named that was basically labeled as "house favorite." We ended up ordering it and liking it. When we inquired for more information, we found out that it was Michelob Amber Bock and we were truly surprised!

7. Angry Orchard
This one isn't technically a beer but it is a favorite when it comes to a lighter drink. It can be a bit sweet for some taste buds. If that's the case, we recommend giving one of their many flavors a try until you find one that you like!

8. Sam Adams Boston Lager
This one is a go to when we can't find anything new to try. It's a classic that can be enjoyed anytime.

9. Not Your Father's Root Beer
I'm not sure if this one qualifies as a true "beer" or not but it is definitely a tasty option. Be careful though - it goes down really easy! Always make responsible decisions when it comes to alcohol!

10. Sam Adams Octoberfest
Sam Adams is another one that has a variety of flavors to try. One of our favorites is this seasonal option that's only available in the fall.

Do you have a favorite beer that you'd like for us to try? Share it with us in the comments below!


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Five Books Your Baby Will Love

Life has been a bit crazy around here lately. We've been busy making more improvements around the house and of course, Baby Fox keeps us on our toes and quite busy. We're ready to jump back into blogging though and we hope to do just that this month! So, check back every Wednesday for a new post.

*Affiliate links are used in this post. They help you find the products we mention and they help us keep the blog up and running!*


I have a degree in early childhood education and have taught for several years. When Baby Fox was born, one of my top priorities was building him a library of his own. It's not a very big one yet but it has a lot of potential to grow with him. He's already starting to enjoy books and I thought I'd spend a little bit of time sharing our favorites.

(Sidenote: You'll find some recommendations from Usborne Books & More. We've been loving their books for quite awhile, which led to me becoming a consultant for the company. The link goes to my website and I'd love to talk about books with you sometime!)

Cloth Books
These definitely top the list of favorite books for the baby and me. We have two of these from Usborne Books & More that we absolutely adore. They are part of a series called "Hello Baby" - we currently have the penguin and owl book. I love that they are colorful and soft. Baby Fox is able to play with these books without hurting himself. The words are minimal as well which is developmentally appropriate for his age. I'm sure you can find versions elsewhere, but these are my favorite because they also come with a slider toy attached.


Board Books
Board books are thicker and more durable than other books. This makes them perfect for little hands. The thick cardboard also makes it easier for tiny fingers to turn the pages. We have several different books in this format, including some from Usborne Books & More. We also have some of the classics, such as Goodnight Moon and Brown Bear, Brown Bear. These make great baby shower gifts (which is where many of ours came from).

Stroller Books
We have two of these books and I can't wait for Baby Fox to play with them. They are small board books that come with a strap to attach them to a stroller. This means you can take reading on the go! The ones we have are from Usborne Books & More, but I bet there are more versions out there.


Bathtub Books
These books are great for bathtub play! They come with an easy to clean surface, which is perfect for dirty little hands and water play. We don't currently have any bathtub books but I'm sure we'll be acquiring some as he gets older and bathtime begins to double as playtime.

Interactive Books
There are so many books that fall under this category - lift the flap books, texture books, noisy books, etc. The list really could go on and on. Basically, any book that comes with extra features is an interactive book to me. We have a Peekaboo Sophie! book that is a lot of fun. It has several lift the flap options and when you lift the flaps, the animals have different textures.


When it comes to books, you can never have too many. They are an item that will grow with your child from infant into elementary school. If you ever want to chat about books or get recommendations, feel free to let us know! We'll be happy to help you pick out a few.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Vegetable of the Week: Turnip

We recently decided to majorly clean up our eating habits. Somewhere between moving, buying a house, and having a baby, we fell into some less than healthy habits. One of the ways we're having fun with this goal is by picking a different vegetable each week. After we pick out a vegetable, we each find at least one recipe to make with that vegetable. We've decided to share our thoughts and the recipes we try on the blog.


Up first, we have the turnip. This was a random vegetable chosen by the husband. Neither of us had tried a turnip before so this was an entirely new experience.

 
(turnip)
  
After picking our vegetable, we quickly took to the internet in search of turnip recipes. We quickly discovered that they are often cooked in the same manner as a potato. We found recipes for turnip fries, mashed turnips, roasted turnips, and the list goes on. Basically, if you have a favorite potato recipe, you can probably sub in turnips with little to no adjustments. In fact, one of the recipes we chose actually called for potatoes and we substituted it with turnips.

 
(prepping the turnip)

I'm a big believer in keeping things simple the first time you try a new food. So, one of our first recipes was for simple Roasted Turnips. This recipe couldn't have been easier - diced turnips, olive oil, and seasonings. The possibilities when it comes to seasonings are endless but we stuck with very basic ones - salt and pepper. They were delicious and could easily be used as a side in place of potatoes in the future!

 

The next recipe originally called for potatoes. The chicken in this recipe sounded delicious though so we simply subbed turnips in place of potatoes. It was an experiment to see if it really was that easy. We found this One Pan Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies to be absolutely delicious! The honey garlic sauce mixed in with the veggies as they were cooking and the end result was better than expected.
 
 

The last recipe we tried was chosen by the husband. He found this recipe for Ginger and Turmeric Braised Chicken. He made a couple of modifications (took out the kale and forgot to serve it over rice), but for the most part stuck to the recipe. This one turned out well and was loaded with chicken, carrots, and turnips. The only downside to this recipe is that turmeric turns everything it touches yellow - the counter, the turnips, my hands. Luckily, it is easy to wash off.

Overall, we found that we really liked turnips and will be adding them to our normal rotation of side dishes. There are still a lot of recipes we'd like to try with them - including turnip fries and mashed turnips!

We're pinning all of the recipes we try to this Vegetable of the Week board if you'd like to follow along with our adventure. We're also looking for vegetables for the future. Have a vegetable you think we should feature? We'd love to hear it in the comments below!



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Fun Ways to Plan Your Weekly Meals

Since having our little one, our eating habits have become less healthy. We're often opting for the quick and easy meals, which aren't always the best option. We've also had a lot of junk snacks hanging around the house, which is a weakness for both of us. We're finally getting into a bit of a routine and finding time to cook so we've decided to focus on our nutrition for a while to get back our healthy habits that have disappeared. This past weekend, we sat down to meal plan like we always do. This time was a bit different though due to our focus on healthy eating. Healthy meal planning can sometimes feel "boring," so we decided to spice things up just a little bit.

 
Meal planning isn't a new concept for us. We meal plan every week. It saves us the hassle of "what do you want to eat" and saves us money at the store. It's a necessary part of our week, but it can get a bit boring at times, especially when you're trying to pull ideas out of thin air. Over the years, we've used different methods to make the process a little easier and a bit more fun. Today, we're sharing some of those ideas with you!

Vegetable of the Week
If you follow us on Instagram, then you may have seen our recent post about a new vegetable we tried. This was a result of our latest meal planning idea - picking one to two vegetables each week to include in our dinners. Since vegetables are a healthy part of any meal, this seemed like a great place to start changing our habits. We start by selecting a vegetable or two. This week, we each selected a vegetable but we're talking about drawing from a hat next week. After selecting our vegetables, we set out to find recipes for the week - many of which were new ones to try out. From there, we finished up our meal plan, created our grocery list, and headed to the store!

Theme Nights
This one can be a lot of fun - especially if you're involving the whole family in the process. For this method, you assign each night of the week a theme (Taco Tuesday anyone?). The themes can vary greatly and are meant to be used as a guideline each week for your meal planning. Essentially, your meal would need to fit the theme of the day. If you need ideas for themes, we compiled an ultimate list of theme night ideas.

Empty the Pantry
This one is very similar to "Vegetable of the Week" in that you're picking meals based on a food. The difference here is that your first step is to go through what you already have in the house, paying close attention to items that need to get used before they expire. Then, you theme the dinners around these items. (We actually used this method for one of our meals this week because we have some steaks that need to get used up.)

Assign a Cook
For this method, you'll assign a cook for each night of the week. If it's your assigned night to cook, then you determine what's for dinner. This takes the pressure off of any one person and makes the cooking and planning process more of a joint effort. If you're involving kids in the meal planning process, you can assign them to nights but please help them with the cooking (or at least supervise depending on age)!

These are just a few of the methods we've used to make meal planning a bit more fun. What vegetable should we pick next? We'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments below! Keep an eye on our Instagram to see our meal updates!


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Adjusting to Parenthood

If you've been following the blog for a while, then you'll know that we welcome a baby boy into the world back in February. Life since then has been full of changes and our blogging has been a bit scattered. We love being parents, but it has come with a lot of adjustments (and more than one 2am cry fest). Today, we thought we'd talk about some of those adjustments and how we've been handling them.


Parenthood is a whole new world - one filled with lots of adjustment on everyone's part. And some of these adjustments you just don't understand until you've had your first child (even though everyone warns you about them). Below are just a few of the things we've learned in our first few months as a parent. We'd love to hear what you learned with your child in the comments at the end!

Sleep is not guaranteed.
When you have a little newborn with many needs that he can't take care of himself, your sleep is at the mercy of those needs. Bedtimes and wake times are determined by more factors than just the alarm. We're neither one big nap lovers but we have found ourselves taking quite a few naps since the baby was born. Caffeine (with limits) can also help when a nap just isn't an option. Taking turns with the baby (when the husband's work schedule allows it) has also been a lifesaver. (And putting a nap ahead of other commtiments is more than okay! In fact, I paused this post for a nap opportunity.)

Spit up happens.
Our little one spits up a lot. This means we have learned that spit up is just going to be a part of our outfit from time to time. To piggy back off of this, you suddenly get quite comfortable with body fluids in general. I can't tell you how many times we have casually
 talked about poop since the baby was born.

The washer and dryer become your friend.
I can't even tell you how many loads of laundry we've done since the baby was born. I feel like we do at least one load a day. Between his clothes and ours, nothing seems to fall in the "wear again" category by the end of the day. We're definitely getting our exercise going up and down the basement stairs.

Toys seem to multiply.
At one point, I thought that the Coastie Baby didn't have very many toys so I added some to the registry. Now there are days that it feels like he has too many toys. (He really doesn't - they fit in two small storage containers.) It seems like I find new ones randomly. Luckily, he's finally starting to enjoy them!

A barking dog is your enemy during nap time.
We have two dogs. We love them greatly. However, when they bark during naptime, we end up holding our breath hoping the baby doesn't wake. So far, he's only woken a couple of times and usually goes right back to sleep. I think he heard them enough before he was born.

Survival is essential.
There are times when you feel like you're in survival mode - especially in those first couple of months. Your priorities shift and that's more than okay. The good news is that you do eventually move from "survive" to "thrive."

Sometimes you have to break the rules.
There are a lot of guidelines and rules out there when it comes to babies. They should sleep this way, eat that way, and achieve this milestone by this date. You could go crazy trying to follow every recommendation out there. There are times where you have to follow your instincts and do what you feel is best for your baby and family (within reason of course - common sense still matters!).

How many of these sound familiar to you? Are there any you would add to the list?


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ham and Cheese Sliders

We're excited to have Cate from Random Crafty Georgia Girl on the blog today sharing a recipe with you. We have a confession to make - she got this post to us before the Derby; however, our little one kept us too busy to get it up! That's okay though - this recipe is perfect for any get together and with summer coming up, there's sure to be lots of get togethers!



The weekend before Mother's Day is always the most exciting day in sports or at least in horse racing. The Kentucky Derby is often called the fastest two minutes in sports. You may be thinking that this is just a horse race. Why make such a big deal about it? The Kentucky Derby is more than just a horse race. It's an experience. I have never been to Church Hill Downs to experience Derby Day for myself but the rush is still there even watching it on TV. The Kentcuky Derby is full of traditions. From the fashion and the food to the iconic bugle call hearlding the horses to the starting gate there's something for everyone! Throwing a Derby Party has been something I wanted to do for years! Getting together with friends to eat, play games, and just have fun is always a good reason to have a party! For any party you need food! The Kentucky Derby has it's own special foods! There's Kentucky Hot Brown, Burgoo, and the most popular is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby the mint julep. Today, I'm sharing a variation on the Kentucky Hot Brown - Ham and cheese sliders.



Ingredients
¾ sticks Butter
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
½ tablespoons French's Mustard
½ tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
½ tablespoons Poppy Seeds
1 package King's Hawaiian Rolls
12 slices Honey Baked Ham
12 slices Provolone Cheese

Directions
Melt butter in a saucepan and then add the brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and poppy seeds.



Brush the bottom of a 13 x9 inch baking dish with some of the glaze mixture. Cut the entire package of rolls in half horizontally.



Now add a slice of ham and a slice of cheese to each roll. Place them in the baking dish and brush the tops with the remaining glaze mixture.




Cover the rolls tightly with foil and bake in a 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for about 25 minutes.

 

Decorations for your Kentucky Derby party can be elaborate or simple. The Derby is called the Run for the Roses so you can decorate with vases of roses.



Red rose

The winning horse is given a horseshoe collar of roses and the winning jockey is given a bouquet of sixty roses. The fashion at the Kentucky Derby is always very elegant! The men wear bow ties and the women wear dresses and fancy hats. Everyone looks forward to the pictures of the hats on the day after the Derby! I know I love seeing all the pretty dresses! I'm sharing a tissue paper fascinator on Random Crafty Georgia Girl for you to wear on Derby Day! There's so many ways that you can celebrate Derby Day. Even if you don't go out all with food, decorations, and fashion it is still the most exciting two minutes in sports! I know I will be watching on May 6th. Will you?




Random Crafty Georgia Girl is a lifestyle blog that features craft tutorials and recipes. There's also a bit of traveling to beautiful and fun destinations along with a lot of highlights of my life in Georgia.











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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

How We Prepared Our Dogs for Baby

Dogs and babies can be a beautiful thing but they can also be a scary thing. This is why some people were surprised when we adopted a dog during the second trimester of y pregnancy. Then shortly after that, the wife's dog came to live with us. We adopted our dog prior to having our baby so that we could focus on training him before our hands were filled with baby snuggles.


I would love to say that both of our dogs ate perfect angels, but they're not. In fact, Mr. Gibbs  (who we adopted in September) can be quite the wild card at times. Ella, on the other hand, is quite calm but leary of new people.

This is why we did certain things to prepare the dogs for our new addition. They've adjusted quite well and I definitely think part of that is due to the steps we took early on. Today, we're sharing a few of the steps we took to help our dogs adjust.

We involved them in the nursery set up.
We don't believe in crating dogs or making things off limits unless we have to. We have a baby gate for the moments when we don't want the dogs in the nursery but for the most part, I don't mind if they follow us in there during a diaper change or for bedtime routine. As long as they stay out of the way, they are welcome to join us. This is why we involved them in the set up of the nursery. When we were putting toys and clothes away, the door was open and the dogs were often exploring. This gave us the perfect opportunity to set some expectations and boundaries before the baby ever came home.

We taught them expectations.
When the dogs would come into the nursery, we allowed them to explore. We reinforced good behavior and gave a stern "no" when they put their nose where it didn't belong. Both of our dogs love to jump when they see you. It's their way of showing their excitement that you're home. This is a habit we've worked on breaking them of because we don't want them jumping on strangers or when we have baby in our arms.


We worked on boundaries.
One of the biggest obstacles of having dogs and a baby under the same roof is toys. Baby toys and dog toys have way too many similarities. I was shocked to discover some of Baby Coastie's toys even squeak like a dog toy! This is one of the boundaries we set from the very beginning when the dogs would explore the nursery. When they would stick their nose in the toy bin, we reminded them with a "no those are for baby." For the most part, they stick to their own toys. We also worked with the baby gate prior to bringing Baby Coastie home. We would put it up while working on various things so that the dogs could get used to it serving as a boundary. We haven't used it much since bringing the baby home but he's also not exploring the house yet.

The husband brought home the baby blanket.
When the husband got ready to head home to let the dogs out after the baby was born, our nurse handed him the baby blanket and told him to take it home so that the dogs could become familiar with the smell. I don't believe the blankets are supposed to leave the hospital but she had a kid and dogs of her own and was sharing her knowledge. (Have I mentioned that we had phenomenal nurses?) So, the husband brought the blanket home and let the dogs sniff to their content. (You could always bring your own receiving blanket to the hospital and wrap baby in it for a while for this same purpose.)


We allowed the dogs near baby from the beginning.
When we brought the baby home, we didn't restrict the dogs in any way. We reminded them of their boundaries and expectations as needed but we also allowed them to sniff the baby. This was always supervised since the baby wasn't left alone any during those first few weeks. (He's still not much but there are the occasional trips to the bathroom...) This allowed the dogs to see that he is an addition to the family and that they are still a part of the family.

Our dogs are fantastic with our baby, but we still don't leave them unsupervised wiyh him. Any dog has the potential to snap as its in their nature. There are still obstacles that arise when raising a baby and two dogs - like barking during naptime or everyone wanting food at the same time - but overall, our dogs have adjusted quite well thanks to the prep work we did before baby came home.