Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Guess Who Noah's Boat by Matt Mitter {Children's Book Review}

Disclosure: I received a sample copy of this book to review. No other compensation was received and all views expressed are my own. 

My kids are obsessed with interactive books. Like, way obsessed. If it has flaps, makes noise, or anything along those lines, they're guaranteed to like it. Of course, when we check said books out from the library, we tend to end up with a hefty library bill courtesy of toddler hands...but I digress.

The latest addition to our interactive book collection has been a huge hit, so I'm really excited to share it with all of you. Guess Who Noah's Boat, written by Matt Mitter and illustrated by Ela Jarzabek, is the sweetest book that is perfect for the toddler and preschool ages of my kids.

This book provides a good introduction to the story of Noah's Ark. Filled with rhyming text and adorable pictures, the book gives us a very quick peek at what life may have looked like aboard the ark. Each page includes a lift-the-flap feature that holds the answer to the "Guess who, Noah!" question in the story text.

While all of the creatures of the animal kingdom are not included in this book, there is a good variety - lions, tigers, sheep, rabbits, giraffes, ostriches, butterflies, frogs, mice, hippos, monkeys, chickens, horses, bears, turtles and many more. Each page occupies my almost two-year-old daughter for several minutes because she is determined to name each and every animal species.

Ela Jarzabek's vibrant illustrations are friendly and inviting, while the text is easy to read and is printed largely enough for a beginning reader's ease. Overall, we have really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading it many more times!

Thank you to Kregel Publications for providing my review sample!  I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own.  For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Currently // October 27, 2014

So, Monday is already almost over and it frightens me a little bit that I already feel super behind on this week's projects. Here's hoping for an early bedtime and much productivity tonight! 

Thinking // 
...that it's ridiculous that my babies will soon be two and four years old. Make it stop.

...about what we're having for dinner tonight. It was supposed to be BBQ Chicken, but I forgot to put it in the crock pot earlier in the day. So, now I'm not sure what to do.

Pumpkin Patch adventuring this weekend - it was SO HOT! They were super sweaty.

Dreaming // 
...about Christmas and vacations and other things that are going to be delightful and simultaneously hard on our finances.

Organizing // 
...the whole house. Still. Yesterday, I cleaned off my kitchen table. I honestly can't remember the last time it was not piled high with all sorts of random nonsense, so it's a really big accomplishment. 

...all of the lovely products arriving for my Holiday Gift Guide! Wait until you guys see all the cool stuff I get to feature in this year's guide. I'm kids are excited...I think you will be, too.

We had sprouted crust pizza twice last week and it was yummy.
Maybe this will be dinner tonight?

Laughing At // 
...the number of babies Addie tries to snuggle with while nursing to sleep (photo below). She doesn't care if she has them in bed or not, but she tries to balance everything on my lap with her.

...some of the things Lincoln says lately. I'm trying so hard to write them all down, but there was something yesterday that I have already totally forgotten. It cracked me up for ages, whatever it was.

All the babies.

Reading // 
...mostly just books with the kids because there is not a whole lot of time right now for me to fit in reading books or blogs or anything. We're loving a lot of Berenstain Bears and Clifford and Little Critter books these days.
This post feels random, but hey - it's done. How's your Monday going? Linking up with Hannah for Currently.

Easy Unique 1st Birthday Smash Cake Tutorial

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

I have a secret. I am not very good at baking. I can put together a mean party theme - Mickey Mouse Clubhouse toddler birthday party? I'm all over it. FIretruck party complete with Easy Fire Fighter DIY Party Game? No problem. But I tend to call in reinforcements when it comes to creating an amazing owl cake or a Nintendo question block cake (Stephanie, you rock).

When I set out to make the food for Addie's party when she turned one, I knew I wanted an owl for her main cake, but I didn't know what to do about her smash cake. I was struck with inspiration while we were working on the owl and matching cupcakes and thanks to the awesome supply stash my baking friend brought over, we had almost everything I needed to make the cutest little easy first birthday smash cake.

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!
Baking assistant.

Multicolored Smash Cake - Supplies Needed
-6" Cake Pan
-Boxed Cake Mix of choice (yeah - I used boxed cake) and the ingredients listed on the box
-A simple frosting recipe (I used this one)
-Gel Food Coloring (I used 4 colors - you can use as many or as few as you want)
-Cake Decorating Bags
-Decorating Tips #21 (I had 4 of these) and #32 (I had 2 of these)
-A fair amount of patience

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

Follow the instructions on your boxed cake mix to bake the cake. Don't forget to add water. Not that I know from experience or anything, but it won't turn out very well without some sort of liquid. You'll have enough batter left over to make another small cake or some cupcakes or something, so plan for that!

Once your cake is done and has cooled, whip up your frosting and apply a thin layer to the whole cake. Then stick it in the fridge so the frosting can harden a little before you start adding color.

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

Next, split your frosting into bowls for each separate color and add your coloring. You can use regular food coloring if you like, but I had better success with gel colors - they offer a much easier way to get the shade you're looking for without painstaking hours of mixing colors.

Disclaimer: in the last year, I've completely banned food coloring from my house. I have no idea what I'm going to do for the next round of birthdays, because this is SO STINKING EASY. I no longer advocate actually using food coloring, however, I do have endless good things to say about how easy it is. I'm hoping to find a more natural alternative! Tips, anyone?

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

Next you'll need to get your cake decorating bags all set up with the #21 icing tips (here's a good youtube video on how to do this). Then, it's time to get your wrists ready for lots of squeezing.

I started with one flower of each color and alternated after that, trying to even out the colors as much as possible. There was no real rhyme or reason to my method other than trying not to let the same color touch.

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

This part takes a long time, but when it looks so cute, it's worth it, right?

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

Once you get the top of the cake and most of the sides covered, take a break and set up another decorating bag or two with the "32" frosting tips, then go ahead and do the lower edge. I did mine in two different colors, but you could use just one or all four, depending on how many tips you have at your disposal.

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

Ta-da! There you have it: one perfect smash cake for a perfect party.

I put my cake back in the fridge after it was done, but here's a tip: make sure you pull it out a good hour before the baby will be smashing it. Because if you don't, there won't be a whole lot of smashing - more just pounding and picking at it. Which is still cute, but not quite the same thing.

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake! Owl Birthday Party.

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

You can see more photos from Addie's Owl First Birthday Party here.

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake! Owl Birthday Party.

Hope you enjoyed this cake tutorial from a mom who really has NO idea about how to make cake. Let me know how yours turns out!

Sunday, October 26, 2014


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."
This week's adventurous photos brought to you by our trip to
Shuck's Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch.
Lincoln - taken right before he yelled "HEY! A little bit help here!"
Addie - princess of the corn crib.
Linking up at Practising Simplicity

Friday, October 24, 2014

How Do You Make Time for Mom?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Global Influence. All opinions expressed are my own.

I think moms deserve a spa trip at least once a month. Can I get an amen? I know that I feel blessed to be the primary caregivers of my adorable kids, but those adorable kids tend to leave me with less than enough sleep and food or snot or some other bodily fluid in my hair at all times. Unfortunately, for most of us, a trip to the spa is an occasion that definitely does not happen more than "every now and then." I think the last time I had a professional pedicure was when I was pregnant with Lincoln.

Since we can't all get professionally pampered constantly, I think it's so important to find a few minutes here and there that are just for mom. It's a necessity for those of us who are in the trenches of motherhood with very young kids at home. I hear stories from moms who say they haven't showered in several days. I'm not going to lie to you: I shower every single day, because I cannot function otherwise. I cannot. By the time I get out of the shower, someone is often screaming over a stolen toy, so I have to jump right back into "mom mode" - but that ten minutes alone is a highlight of my day. Very often, it's the only ten minutes I worry about myself in the entire day.

I may not have time to style my hair or put on makeup every morning, but at least I can start the day with my hair feeling clean. Even if I'm just throwing it up into a ponytail or a messy bun, knowing that I'm starting fresh keeps me just a little bit more sane.

Suave want to encourage families to live better every day by offering products for the whole family at a great value at Walmart. Check out the Suave Hub for beauty tips that fit into your life - from a trip in the park to an escape in paradise. You can even sign up for Suave Family Perks and submit your receipts to accrue points and redeem for Walmart gift cards. How cool is that?!

How do you find time to make time for you in the midst of all the craziness that comes with helping little ones learn and grow?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Global Influence, but all opinions are my own. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy

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