My daughter and I like to go on weekly dates every Friday after school. It’s a time I use to talk with her and to have a little treat that has no redeeming nutritional value. Friday dates are a blast! This past Friday, we chose Starbucks so that we could indulge in Frappucinos off their secret menu. Well, secret to some extent. Since Starbucks makes drinks to order, you can have them combine whatever flavors you desire. You just need to tell them exactly how to make it. Our choices this time? Cotton Candy Frappuccino. Made with: Vanilla Creme Frappuccino as a base 1 pump raspberry syrup Harry Potter Butterbeer Frappuccino Made with: Vanilla Creme Frappuccino 3 pumps toffee nut syrup 3 pumps caramel syrup caramel sauce drizzle I recommend the cotton candy variation. The drink is very reminiscent of the candy floss and was yummy to both my daughter and me. We didn’t enjoy the Butterbeer as much. I felt the toffee nut flavor was overwhelming, so that it didn’t taste like Butterbeer really but was more like having a Toffee Nut Frappuccino. Ordering off the secret menu is a lot of fun! I used the website: http://starbuckssecretmenu.net It works very well on a cell phone. I just browsed over to the recipe and showed the barista. If you are intrigued by the concept of secret menus, I also recommend the website Hack the Menu What Starbucks variations do you recommend?
Love clam chowder, but can’t justify the heaviness of it? Try this slow-cooker recipe that lightens up this delicious soup. Although most of the fat has disappeared, the soup is still very creamy and has a ton of flavor. As a bonus, it is incredibly easy to prepare. You will need:1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil1 onion, diced2 ribs celery, diced2 tsp minced garlic2 cans clams (8 ounces each)1 bottle (8 ounces) clam juice3 potatoes, cut in bite sized cubes (I used red potatoes)1 can (12 ounces) 2% evaporated milk Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Throw in the onion and celery. Cook until the onion becomes translucent (about 12 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more (or until you can smell the garlic). Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker. Add the clams (with juice), bottle of clam juice and potatoes to the slow cooker. Stir well. Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, or on low for 3-4 hours. I found that 3.5 hours on low worked well for this recipe. Stir in the evaporated milk the last hour of cooking. Season with pepper and serve. Tabasco green sauce would also make a tasty seasoning. I served this soup with a salad (greens, turkey, pepperoni, mozzarella, tomatoes and green olives) and bread rolls from the bakery. It was a very easy and tasty weeknight meal. Enjoy! Recipe from The Runner’s World Cookbook.
You may think that you need to live in a coastal locale to enjoy a dinner cruise. Would it surprise you to know that you find one about an hour-drive from Phoenix? Off the 60, through Apache Junction and up into the Superstitions.
Once…I went to Georgia. It was my cousin’s wedding and the rehearsal dinner was held at this spectacular BBQ place. The pulled pork literally melted in my mouth. As a semi-vegetarian (in that I didn’t really like meat all that much, so ate a lot of cheese based dishes instead), I had no idea meat could taste that good. Every time I’ve eaten at the BBQ place since then, I have ordered the pulled pork off the menu and hoped it would be as amazing. I’m always disappointed. This crock pot recipe comes pretty darn close to the deliciousness of that Georgia restaurant. The best part is that it is super easy and makes the house smell good all day. You will need: 5-6 pound pork shoulder roast 2 yellow onions, sliced 3 Tbs chili powder 1 tsp coriander 2 tsps cumin 2 tsps onion powder 1 Tbs dried parsley 2 tsps salt First, slice up the onions and place them on the bottom of the crock pot. Then, mix the spices together to form a dry rub. Rub the spices all over the meat. Attack any children nearby. Place meat on top of the onions and close the crock pot lid. Cook the meat for 5-6 hours on high. Then lower the heat to low and cook an additional 3-4 hours. You do not have to add any liquid. At the end of the cooking time, your pork will look like this: I recommend taking the roast out and draining all of that fat. Including the fat is super yummy, but it isn’t needed. The meat is still very moist and flavorful without it. Shred the meat and serve. We chose to have carnitas burritos the night we made it. We used whole wheat tortillas with sour cream and Tapatio sauce. You can eat the meat just by itself too (as Erik chose to do). This recipe makes a lot of food. Leftover carnitas make an excellent salad topping as well, if you aren’t up to eating a plethora of carnitas burritos. However, this meat is so good, using a fork to eat it straight out of the refrigerator works as well. Original recipe from Everyday Paleo.
I am what I like to call a “baby Christian.” What does this mean exactly? I have in the last year grown in my faith in God and have accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. That is the correct church response, isn’t it? Since having my third child, Kinley, I have felt a profound change in myself that can only be described as divine intervention. I feel more at peace with myself, the world, and feel a calm contentment that was lacking before. I feel happy when I pray and when I attend church, small groups and gather with like-minded women at church.
We walked precariously into an un-marked tan, brick building and were immediately underwhelmed. I should have known based on first impressions that this outing had trouble written all over it. Did I listen to my gut? NO! I did not. The Stuffington tour, which lasts about fifteen minutes, starts in this room where kiddos can check out a few of the items they have for sale. Parents beware: the bears are very expensive ranging from $24.95 all the way up to $99.95 and the quality is sub par. As we were waiting for JoAnn and her kiddos to arrive, Carson and Kurt took the opportunity to stroll around and check out the happenings. Shortly after our friends arrive Carson starts vomiting. Not just a little spit up, projectile. Kurt runs over to the waste basket and starts dry heaving…this is going great. JoAnn politely asked the woman in charge for some paper towel so that I could discretely clean up Carson’s mess and she gave me two paper towels. TWO! I couldn’t help but laugh. The tour begins in a small classroom where students are educated on the beginnings of the teddy bear, using washed out photos of Teddy Roosevelt and his teddy bear. JoAnn and I exchanged glances and had inner giggles. We were then led into the work room, which to be honest, was a little uncomfortable. It was a room filled with about ten workers sitting at their sewing machines watching us look at their expansive array of fabrics. The kids got to watch the workers, learn about eyes/buttons and then see the stuffing machines. This concluded the tour. From beginning to end, it was a debacle that one can only laugh at. It was a very short, but fun experience. If you would like to check it out for yourself, tours are at 1pm daily. Don’t be late…as they will be over before you know it. http://www.stuffingtonbear.com/tours.asp
I’ve been called bossy my entire life. Ever since I was little, it’s been “my way or the highway” as my dad would put it. He and my mom dubbed me “Queenie” from a very early age. I liked to dictate play activities, tell my little sister what to do and have full confidence that I was always right.
March always means Spring Training to our family. Here in Phoenix, we are lucky to host the Cactus League, which means we have a plethora of baseball games to choose from. The Chicago Cubs just built a brand new facility in Mesa which also boasts an accompanying park, lake and “innovative playground.” As we were leaving the rained out Cubs game this past Saturday, I suddenly exclaimed, “Look at that!” And by “that”, I mean the above picture. Innovative Playground indeed! This climbing structure is enormous! That small figure at the top is a 6 foot man! Honestly, it looked like all the dads were having a blast on the thing. Not many little kids dared to climb that high. I was thankful my five-year-old daughter had no interest, because honestly, seeing her up there would have given me a heart attack. However, climbing that is exactly what I would have done as a kid. In fact, I want to go back and climb it! The playground also has other very cool and much more sane climbing structures, such as this, My daughter handled this one with ease. My son wanted to. He’s the one we are going to have to watch when he gets older. Riverview Park also has a standard playground, a splash pad and even a mini zip line. It’s hard to believe that this a free, public park! With tons of green grass, picnic tables and really clean public restrooms (for now), this park is a great place. Be sure to check the CUBS home game spring training schedule if you plan to go in March. Parking is impossible to find when there is a game scheduled for the day. Riverview Park 2100 W. 8th Street Mesa, AZ 85201
Conversation with my daughter: Cam: Mama, I want to make a surprise for Daddy. Me: Ok, what should we make? Cam: Something with chocolate because Daddy REALLY likes chocolate. Since I knew anything we made, she (and I) would end up consuming as well, I wanted to keep this treat on the healthier side. A few years ago, I read in Runner’s World that chef Richard Blais (from Top Chef) dips pieces of clementine in dark chocolate for a mini indulgence. I thought this sounded easy and fantastic, so.. This is incredibly easy to do. All we used were dark cocoa candy melts and clementines. 1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. 2. Peel clementines and divide into slices. Make sure to remove any stringy pith from the slices. 3. Follow directions on candy melts to melt the chocolate. I used the microwave. 4. Dip half of clementine slice in melted chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip off into the bowl. Lay the dipped clementine slice on the baking sheet. 5. Place cookie sheet in the refrigerator to harden for half an hour. We like our clementines cold, so to store them I simply took them off the cookie sheet and placed them in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator. They lasted about 2 days…. because we ate them. Do you have any easy, healthy snacks to recommend? Please tell us in the comments below!
Stargazing with kids is a spectacular event. Here’s where to find it in the Phoenix area and how to get the most out of it. The Phoenix sky didn’t quite look like that on Saturday evening, but we still had a lot of fun at this event. After following night-glo signs pointing to Stargazing, we pulled into the Usery Mountain Regional Park parking lot at 7:10 PM on Saturday. My daughter was super excited to look at the stars through telescopes. The sky had been overcast all afternoon, but out in East Mesa, away from the most glaring city lights, I could spy a few stars poking through the clouds. The Stargazing event is free. Our only cost was the $6 per car fee that we paid to get into the park. This company, Stargazing for Everyone, hosts multiple programs in many of the Phoenix regional parks. Tonight, there were five telescopes set up at one of the picnic areas at Usery. She is so excited to see the stars! We brought our own chairs for the presentation. At first we were worried about being too early, however, this event was pretty packed for a cloudy Saturday night. After a quick talk from Ranger B. about the variety of programs offered at Usery (there are a ton!), our host, Tony La Conte, gave us a quick rundown of upcoming space events. There is a lunar eclipse on April 14 starting at 9:55 PM. Following this, Cam asked if she could stay up late to see it My husband answered, “Of course you can stay up late for Science.” Tony also described cool phenomenon such as the Grand Moon Illusion. This happens when you see the moon first coming up over the horizon. It looks large and orange, but when you go to photograph this spectacular moon, you get this: INSERT HARVEST MOON OLIVE TREESFascinating stuff! The presentation was also cool, because each time Tony talked about a star, he used a laser pointer to point to that exact star. A thin, clear beam of light extended from his hand to the sky. It was as if we were in a giant planetarium and the stars were within our reach because the teacher could just reach up and touch them. Fun with lasers? Yes. Lasers are cool though. Following the presentation, we queued up at each of the telescopes to see Jupiter, Betelgeuse and the Six Sisters. Jupiter was the most fascinating because you could see four of Jupiter’s moons in the shot. In fact, one of the moons, Europa, was eclipsing Jupiter which was evident by a very small, black dot on the massive planet.My husband and daughter drew pictures of what they saw through the telescope on my husband’s tablet. We finished with the program around 9PM. A few helpful hints if you plan to attend one of these stargazing events: Bring your own lawn chairs or blankets for seating. The presentation is long enough that it is best […]