Thursday, April 10, 2014

Easter/Spring gift ideas for Toddlers

Hannah is a winter baby with a February birthday. So now that spring is coming I have so many ideas in my head of outdoor toys for her to play with that I figured I would throw them into a little list of ideas in case anyone else is looking for ideas for the same thing! Let's get started :)

This is one she already has. Every time the weather breaks even a little, we load up this little trike and take a walk around the block.

Right now we push it and steer it but eventually it goes down to being just a regular tricycle! As of right now we are parking it in the house when it's not in use and she likes to crawl over and point to it when she wants to take a walk. Now if only the weather would get the memo.

Another thing we recently got and are loving is this adorable whale suit by iplay.

 It has a built in swim diaper which is awesome and it's pretty much just the cutest thing ever.

At swim lessons one of the tricks the teachers use to get them to lay on their backs when they might not want to is to open a waterproof book above their head to make them relax and lean back. Absolutely genius and Hannah is totally getting a waterproof book in her basket.This one even comes with water toys!

Last year we had a party with lots of toddlers (Hannah was still a baby) and someone brought a water table. The kids flocked to it. Absolutely obsessed. If she gets nothing else on this list, she is definitely getting a shiny new water table to play with on hot summer days!  This one looked like a lot of fun to me! Simple, no sand, and something to dump water in.

Last year we bought her a raft similar to this one to use on vacation and at the pool but she was still a little too small to hold herself up in it. I'm really hoping this year it will work for her. I love it because of it's canopy and because it fold up easily really teeny tiny in a small bag which was perfect for lugging to the pool.

This year I'm also considering getting her a puddle jumper. If you can't tell we intend to spend a lot of time in the water this summer and probably for the rest of her life. Growing up as a pool rat then later working as a lifeguard, swim lesson instructor and swim team member/ is really important to me that she learns to be really comfortable in the water. I was jumping off the diving board and swimming to the side of the pool alone at 18 months...pool water runs through our veins in this family :) Puddle Jumpers are actually US Cost Guard Approved Life Jackets and are so much safer than water wings. This one is purple and has a giraffe on it, so it's pretty much meant to be for her.

A few inexpensive buckets  

and a board book about Easter..and I think we're set for now!

I would love to hear any more great ideas!
Happy spring shopping!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lenten Fish Fry Series: Our Lord Christ the King in Mt. Lookout

Our fish fry series continues with last week's visit to Our Lord Christ the King in Mt Lookout! It was their first fish fry of the season, but there will be another April 4 and April 11... from 5-8.

Now let's talk about the fish!
We walked past this to get in. People breading and frying up the fish on our right side and grilling up salmon on our left! The salmon looked fantastic with some kind of delicious marinade on it.

This is another one of those places you might want to get to early. We got there around 5:30 and didn't have trouble with parking or lines, but some of our friends who arrived closer to 6 and after had a little trouble finding parking spots and issues with much slower lines. Also, like I mentioned it was their first fry of the season so I'm sure some kinks had to be worked out.

So the way this fish fry works is just a dinner fee. $10 for dinner....and that includes the fish of your choice and as many sides as you want! (including brownies and ice cream for dessert!!)

You checked what you wanted including your choice of fish and as many sides as you wanted....

Then you walked through their little cafeteria line to pick up all your sides. You might need multiple trays if you opted for an embarrassing amount of sides like we did... but in our defense there were 3 of us! :)

Christ the King is definitely winning in the sides department. So many to choose from!

Shrimp Salad with delicious looking lettuce:

Colorful and fresh looking fruit cups, green beans that still had some bite to them, sauteed summer vegetables, homemade mac and cheese, french fries.....

The fish was good too! Warm, fresh & flaky.

They also didn't disappoint on the rye bread. It was a soft delicious bakery bread.

Beers were between $2-$4 and there were some decent options available:

Modela for him, Shock Top for her
Hannah as usual enjoyed her dinner and appreciated the fruit options besides just applesauce.

And her friend Everett, looking dashing for the night, also enjoyed himself.

Then we had our (included but not pictured) brownies with ice cream for dessert. Perfect end to the meal!
Our table's consensus was very positive. We loved the quality and variety of sides available. The fish was very good... I wish one of us would have tried the salmon because it looked really good! There was ample places to sit and spread out and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

So officially All Saints is still winning for their efficiency, Our Lord Christ the King is definitely winning with their sides, and Nativity I think still has Christ the King eeked out for best fish. St. Cecilia still has it's "closest to my house" award going for it :)

2 more weeks! Where to go next?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Random Stuff

I have a folder of random stuff that I have saved in a folder to share but none of it is really interesting enough for a whole post so I thought I would share some of them:

This soup. Delicious. I even had to take a picture to remember to buy it again. Now I just need to do some experimenting to re-create it.

One day we were doing this:

And the next day this:

I am SO OVER this weather. BRING ON SPRING!

Speaking of spring, we are preparing to the best of our abilities with swim lessons!!
I might have to do a swimming lesson post soon, since we've been enjoying it so much!

We made these meatless burgers the other day and they were tasty! Homemade meatless burgers sometimes skeeve me out because of their texture.....mostly their lack of texture. These crisped up so nice and were packed with healthy things like quinoa, chickpeas, red peppers, etc. I made them the night before and kept them in the fridge so we could just fry them up for a weeknight dinner. The peanut sauce was good, but honestly the next night we just had them on a bun with some mayo and they were just as good :)


Ok, that's all for now, Fish Fry #4 of the season tonight!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lenten Fish Fry Series: All Saints in Kenwood

Last week in our fish fry tour, we visited All Saints in Kenwood. I had heard a rumor that they offered fish tacos...which was something we have yet to see on this fish fry tour, so we were very interested in giving it a try!

But before we get to the food, let's talk about the efficiency. Good Golly Miss Molly these people are efficient with a capital E. Absolutely no lines at all.... The menu is printed giant in the hallway...... so you pick out what you want....

Then walk up to the ordering station where they take your order:
The back of the ordering station
Then you take your slip of paper all totaled up to the paying station and pay:

After he marks you paid, you hand your slip to the food station where they hand you your food:

Their organization was very impressive.

Ok, now onto the food. I ordered the fish tacos...because it's the reason I was here!

Huge tacos with crispy fish, lots of cheese, some cilantro, two sides of salsa, cole slaw and some tortilla chips. Such a fun spin on the traditional church fish fry! The tacos were good and it was fun to have something different!

Rob ordered the 2 piece fish dinner with two sides and got sweet potato fries and mac and cheese:

The sweet potato fries were very very cold (this is the price you pay for efficiency sometimes I suppose) and sprinkled in like a cinnamon sugar mixture? I was not a big fan of that. I didn't taste this mac and cheese but Rob said it was nice and creamy and he was a fan...but again, not very warm.

Here is a shot of Hannah's dinner.

She gave it one big sign for "more"

As usual they had cute kids selling lots of cute treats. We had some cookies and chocolate covered pretzels for dessert.
cute kids not pictured

Last but certainly not least, they had Mt. Carmel beer on tap for $4 a glass... mmm

Overall here are my thoughts on All Saints.
They score very high for efficiency and creativity...The fish scores a little lower because of the temperature it was served at and the amount of batter on the was very thick. Overall though, a great fish fry! I mean come on, FISH TACOS!

To see where else we've been this year you can read here for St. Cecilia in Oakley and here for Nativity in Pleasant Ridge (our favorite so far!)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bento Box - Laptop Lunches

I have had such an issue in the past with bringing lunches to work. Like most people, in my past I went through the lean cuisine every day phase (barf), the turkey sandwich phase and the going out to eat every day phase. None of these were particularly enjoyable whether it was to my taste buds, my waistline or my pocketbook....but it wasn't until I really started reading about and paying attention to the ingredients I'm putting in my body that I finally said enough is enough. I place such care into choosing what my family eats at home...but at work I was wasn't making the best choices....when I'm hungry, homemade chips warm out of the fryer in our work cafeteria are almost too tempting! I started really thinking about what I wanted to eat for lunch every day and decided that I needed something to motivate me to keep it up every day.

That's what I started researching  bento lunch boxes. Some of my favorite bloggers were constantly posting pictures of their kids' lunches everyday filled with neat and tidy little containers of fruits and vegetables and creative main dishes.I decided to google bento box lunch ideas for adults was almost overwhelmed by the amount of creative things people were packing for lunch!

I sent my husband a picture of this PlanetBox and told him I was going to order two. He told me I was insane to spend $150 for two lunchboxes and that I should find something after a little more searching around I settled on a Laptop Lunch Box.

Basically it's a bento box with an insulated bag

And inside a bunch of small containers to pack up with whatever your little heart desires.

It's fun because it really makes you think about the food groups when you're packing. For me at least it encourages me to get a good variety of food packed. The lunch above is chicken salad. We bought a rotisserie chicken and froze half of the meat and cut up the other half along with some celery, mayo, mustard, onions and relish to make a quick easy chicken salad. Carrots with a small amount of dip (hummus or ranch) and some butternut squash soup were added and a clementine on the side for some fruit action rounded out lunch! So much more fun to see and eat than a sandwich and chips!

Last week I made a double batch of quinoa with roasted veggies in peanut sauce for the "main course"
I added in a little cheese and crackers and grapes, but kept the carrots....(i love carrots)

You can find some really creative mamas out there making some crazy creative lunches, but for now these more boring bentos are working out just great!
Anyone else bento'ing these days? Have any great ideas for me? 
I think next week will be a "lunchables" theme :)