Tuesday, September 30, 2014

8 Creepy Reads for October

It is that time of year again. The time when my husband begs me to read Dracula with him. We read A Christmas Carol in December and Dracula in October. It is fun to read a book at the same time and talk about things we love and hated. Dracula is not nearly as creepy as I always imagined it being from the movies I have seen, but it is a fantastic thriller and a perfect October read. Here are some of my favorites to read during the spookiest of months. 

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Perhaps the original haunted thriller, Dracula is still as good today as it was when it was written in 1897. What we know of Dracula from popular culture is very different from the Dracula of Bram Stoker's masterpiece – and his Dracula is far more terrifying. The characters are brilliant and the storyline is rich and compelling. A must-read, especially for anyone into classic literature.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Like Dracula, the way we perceive Frankenstein is far different from the character in Mary Shelley's book. We usually think of Frankenstein as this brainless, lumbering idiot with bolts sticking out of his neck. Not so in the book. Dr. Frankenstein's creation is brilliant, malicious and downright scary. The book plays on human emotion and you find yourself vacillating from feeling bad for the creature and loathing his existence. This book can drag at points, but it will also leave you looking over your shoulder for a creepy creation that stalks your existence.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Is there such thing as a horror fairytale?  We Have Always Lived in the Castle is the story of an ostracized family living in their big house in a small town, ostracized because at family dinner one night, four people didn't make it out alive. Only two sisters and a uncle remain, living secluded lives. One of the sisters is arrested but eventually acquitted of the murders, but that doesn't change the fact that the entire town thinks she did it. This story is kind of oddball, told from the perspective of the slightly unhinged younger sister. It is thought provoking and creepy, perfect for an October read.

The Burning by Jane Casey
A serial killer is on the lose. He has already beaten four women beyond recognition before lighting the bodies on fire, earning him the nickname, The Burning Man. Detective Maeve Kerrigan is on the task force that is working to bring him to justice, when a fifth body, Rebecca Haworth, is discovered. As Kerrigan digs deeper into the fifth victim's life she starts to realize that The Burning Man might not be responsible after all and a second killer is on the loose.
I wasn't sure what I was expecting in this detective but I ended up liking Maeve Kerrigan a lot more than I thought I would. She is definitely a woman in a man's world, fighting for her place on the task force by working hard.  Maeve is extremely likable as a character, and while the book moves slowly to end the conclusion, it doesn't feel slow. I love that while she is smart and focused, she doesn't seem omniscient. She is the narrator of the book as well as Louise, Rebecca's best friend, to give more perspective into Rebecca's life. A life that seems idyllic and wonderful on the outside, but under the surface is dark and desperate.

The Journal of Professor Abraham Van Helsing by Allen C. Kupfer
Perhaps the most unsettling book I've ever read, this book plays itself as the real journal of Abraham Van Helsing, the famous vampire-hunter character in Bram Stoker's Dracula. While this book is fictional, you would have a hard time guessing it from the way it's written. It reads and feels like the real deal and gives glimpses into the deeper world of vampirism and its history throughout the world. This is a must-read if you want to stay up at night.

The Shining by Stephen King
Most people know this as only a movie, with a crazed Jack Nicholson staring through a door, but it was first a novel by Stephen King. I first saw the miniseries adaptation of this film when I was 12 and was fascinated/terrified by it. Last year, I had the chance to read the book when I found it at a yard sale. It's the first book by Stephen King I've read and I was impressed by his ability to craft a brilliant story that wasn't so much scary as it was unsettling. There's no big monster that jumps out; rather you see the transformation of Jack from a struggling father to a crazed madman, and it's all in his head. Plus, the fact that the setting of this book is in an isolated hotel far up in the Colorado Rockies in the winter makes it a perfect location to have you scared.

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
 Jacob makes the journey to Cairnholm near Wales, to visit the orphanage where his grandfather grew up to discover it was bombed out during the last World War. How can that be? His grandfather received a letter from the Headmistress, just a few years ago. It is a mystery that Jacob is determined to solve. I really liked this book. It is the first book in a series, but I felt like it was fun and intriguing and I love where the story headed. This book isn't particularly scary, but the real old photographs the author used throughout the book really gave it an eerie feel. The picture on the cover is one of my favorites.

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells 
What would you do if you thought you had the potential to be a serial killer? John Cleaver knows he has the potential to be very dangerous and so he has created a list of rules to keep himself in check, until he meets someone who is even more dangerous than him. I love this story and the cover, it is simple but very telling. 
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Chocolate Topped Cookie Dough Bites

I am a cookie dough junkie. All through my last pregnancy, the hardest thing for me to stay away from was cookie dough. I had to stop making cookies all together so I wouldn't accidentally end up with some of the dough in my mouth. Shortly after my daughter's birth we had a potluck and one of my husband's sisters brought these. I can't tell you how many times I have had them since. If only I had discovered them when I was pregnant! They are delicious, easy to make and raw egg free. 

For the Dough:  
  • 1/2 C. Softened Butter
  • 3/4 C. Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/4 C. Peanut Butter
  • 2 C. Flour
  • 14 oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 C. Chocolate Chips

For the Topping: 
  • 3/4 C. Peanut Butter
  • 2 C. Chocolate Chips 

Mix together the sugar and butter then add the vanilla and peanut butter. Mix well and then add the flour and condensed milk. Mix until smooth, stir in the chocolate chips. Press into a baking dish. 8X8 will get you the thickness you see here, but you can use a larger pan, they just won't be as thick.

Microwave the remaining peanut butter and chocolate chips for approximately one minute, stir until smooth, microwaving for a little while longer if necessary. Spread it over the top of the cookie dough. Refrigerate the entire dish for at least 3 hours before serving.

What is your favorite indulgence?
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Turkey Taco Soup

I was introduced to this recipe from a freezer meal group I was apart of. We loved it, it is pretty healthy if you don't top it with sour cream and it is delicious. It gets serious bonus points for freezing really well to help out on days when you just don't have a ton of extra time to cook.

You will need:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15.5oz can red kidney beans
  • 1 16oz can black beans
  • 1 15oz can pinto beans
  • 1 15oz can whole kernel corn
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 1oz packet of ranch dressing seasoning
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Soup toppings, sour cream, cheese, green onions, 
Brown the turkey with the onion. I like to use as little onion as possible, but if you really love onion you might want to add a bit more. Combine your tomatoes, water and beans, along with all of their liquids into a large pot. Make sure not to drain any of the beans or the tomatoes. Drain the corn and add to your pot of soup. Stir in your seasonings and bring to a boil. When your soup boils, turn the heat down and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese and green onions. 

Looking for some more amazing recipes to make this fall? Look no further, below are 10 fantastic recipes from some great bloggers to get you all ready for cool weather. 


Family Night at Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey

I was given tickets to Ringling Brothers in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. 
 Last night I took my girls to the Circus, my two daughters and my youngest sister. Before we entered the circus, it had been a rough day. My 5-year-old experienced mean kids at school for the first time and my heart was breaking for her, it was amazing to watch it all melt away as entered the circus. I seriously spent so little time watching the circus and so much time watching the girls. My 11-year-old sister had never been to a circus before and in one of my Instagram photos from last night, you can see her mouth completely open in amazement.
 My absolute favorite part of the Ringling Bros and Barnum &Bailey Circus are the acrobats. They do things I could never do, let alone have the guts to do.
 This year, my favorite part was trumped by the motorcycles. I wish I had gotten a great pictures of the amazing motorcyclist in their huge sphere, it was pretty incredible.

 My daughter's favorite part was the fire acrobats. Combine the amazing of acrobats with the danger of fire. It is a crazy and thrilling thing to watch.
By the end of the circus, my daughter had totally forgotten she had called the day one of the worst of her life, they were calling the night the best night ever, so I am going to call that a win. 

You can still get tickets to the following shows in Salt Lake City at the Energy Solution Arena: 
  • Thursday, Sept. 25                           7:00 PM
  • Friday, Sept. 26                                 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, Sept. 27                           11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, Sept. 28                              1:30 PM & 5:30 PM
TICKETS: Ticket prices range from $20, $25, $40-$50 (VIP), $50-60 (Premium VIP Floor) and $90-$100 (Ringmaster Zone). 

Didn't go on opening night but want a discount? Buy your tickets online and use the code MOM at checkout. You can use the code on the following shows. 
  • Friday 3 PM and 7 PM, 
  • Saturday 11 AM 
  • Sunday 5:30PM
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stuffed Crust Pizza Breadsticks

Do you love stuffed crust pizza as much as I do? Do you ever wish you could eat just the crusts? I know that my kids and I do and now you can! Today I am over at the Rhodes Blog sharing one of my favorites, Stuffed Crust Pizza Breadsticks. This is one of my go to recipes when my kids are screaming for pizza and we aren't having something else for dinner, they get what they want and I get a nice side dish! 
 These bread sticks are better than regular bread stick, because everything is better with cheese, right?
 For the full ingredient list and instructions, head over to the Rhodes Bake N Serv Blog. Pin the recipe and then check out all of the other amazing blog contributor's recipes.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Healthy Lunches: Captain America Lunch

Today I am taking a break from princesses to channel my daughter's favorite super hero. A couple of years ago, my daughter came home from a weekend at my parents to proudly declare she wanted to be Captain America for Halloween. I found/made her an fantastic costume and every time someone asked her if she knew Captain America was a boy, she rolled her eyes and told them that anybody could be a hero. From that moment, I have loved Captain America, because she is right, anybody can be a hero. 

This fun lunch incorporates the red, white and blue theme while sticking to healthy principles, except for the addition of some sprinkles, but who doesn't need some sprinkles every now as then? 

You will need: 
  • a whole grain waffle
  • bananas 
  • strawberries 
  • blueberry Greek yogurt
  • cherry tomatoes
  • a Babybel cheese
  • sprinkles (optional)
  • a little bit of paper 
Make Captain America's shield by layering strawberries and bananas on your waffle. If your little one's lunch has to sit a long time before they get to it, you might want to just leave all of the yogurt in one of the separate containers instead of putting some on the waffle. Cut out a paper star and tape it to your Babybel cheese. I have seen people cut the stars out of the wax before, but I feel like it is more sanitary to keep the cheese wrapped until lunch time. Add sprinkles to your blueberry Greek yogurt to complete the look. I always use Greek yogurt for my kids because of the added protein, I struggle to get protein of any kind into my 5-year-old and so when she will eat something with a lot of protein, I kind of run with it! 

How do you get your kids to eat their lunch?

Remember to head over to Intermountain Healthcare's LiVe Well Facebook page to enter to win your own Lunch Blox between now and the end of September. Check back tomorrow for another healthy princess lunch!

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Healthy Lunches- Tinkerbell Lunch

The goal of today's lunch was to be as fresh as possible, without losing the fun factor that helps my daughter eat all of her lunch. When I am matching up fresh and fun to a Disney character, I think Tinkerbell, so she was my jumping point. I included fresh fruit and veggies, with a twist to help them get eaten.

You will need:

  • peanut butter and jelly or other sandwich
  • flower cookie cutter
  • oranges
  • green pepper slices
  • grape or cherry tomatoes
  • string cheese 
  • tooth picks

There are few things my 5-year-old loves more than baby kebabs. You add a couple of things to a toothpick and suddenly it becomes way more delicious. I used this to my advantage in my cute tomato and cheese toadstools. I cut the tomatoes in half to make them look more like toadstool and put extra pieces of cheese on the tomatoes to give them little spots.

The green bell pepper and oranges I left simply sliced for munching, I usually include some Greek yogurt for dipping and to encourage eating her veggies. The sandwich was simple, all I did was use a cookie cutter to cut it into a large flower shape.

This lunch is one of my favorites because it took very little prep work, but she still ate it as well as any of the others.

Remember to head over to Intermountain Healthcare's LiVe Well Facebook page to enter to win your own Lunch Blox between now and the end of September. Check back tomorrow for another healthy princess lunch!

How do you get your picky eater to eat their lunch?
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Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Winner

I was given tickets to Ringling Brothers in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Healthy Lunches: The Little Mermaid Lunch

I will always be amazed how much a difference the presentation makes in the world of getting my picky eater to eat. The Cinderella Lunch is one of her absolute favorites, but coming in a close second is this one, inspired by The Little Mermaid. It gets her to eat and try new things. This one is really simple to make and uses mostly all things I have one hand. 

You will need: 
  • a croissant for the crab sandwich 
  • sandwich fillers, for us this is veggies and cheese as my little girl won't eat meat
  • toothpicks
  • sliced olives
  • fish cracker
  • blueberry Greek yogurt
  • celery sticks 
  • strawberries
  • the little sea urchin in the photo is a Rambutan, it is a small tropical fruit. It isn't something we normally have on hand, but my daughter's school sent it home as a snack one day and we thought it completed this lunch perfectly. You can substitute more strawberries for the Rambutan. 
Create your croissant sandwich with all of your child's favorite fillers. We use a ton of veggies in sandwiches, because I feel like it is a semi sneaky way to get more veggies in your child. Make eyes for your crab by adding toothpicks with olives. Fill one container with blueberry Greek yogurt. I use Greek yogurt because it gives her that extra boost of protein. I cut ridges into the tops of the strawberries, to turn them into little sea shells she can dip into her yogurt. She was delighted with the little sea urchin in this lunch, but like I said, a Rambutan is not something I usually keep on hand, so usually I give her more strawberries. We finished with celery stalks for dipping and fish crackers to add more mermaid flair. 

Remember to head over to Intermountain Healthcare's LiVe Well Facebook page to enter to win your own Lunch Blox between now and the end of September. Check back tomorrow for another healthy princess lunch! 
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Frozen Elsa Gloves

 Elsa fever doesn't seem to be dying down any time soon, at least in our house anyway. One of the first things my daughter started asking for after seeing Frozen was Elsa gloves. Not the gloves she wears at the coronation, but white gloves like she wears when she is a little girl. We have looked every where for white Elsa gloves but we came to the conclusion if we wanted white gloves we were going to have to make them. When I found these gloves for .99 cents at Tag's, my local thrift store, I was thrilled. These gloves came together in about 20 minutes and she absolutely loves them.

You will need:

  • white gloves
  • blue heat transfer
  • a cutting machine or the patience to trace and cut
  • iron

First thing you need to do is prewash your gloves. I do this for any of my heat transfer projects and it is especially important if you bought them at the thrift store. Search online for Elsa glove designs, I found so many to choose from. Pick one you like and trace it in your design software or on a piece of paper. Cut out the design from blue heat transfer. Since this design is the same frontwards or backwards, there is no need to flip it. 
 Put your heat transfer on top of your gloves, make sure your gloves are facing the right way when you iron them on, so you don't end up with designs on the palms instead of backs of the hands.
Iron the design onto glove, for about 30 seconds, pull the plastic carrier sheet off, if any part of the design comes up, iron that part again with the carrier sheet for an additional 30 seconds. The gloves are ready to wear the second you are sure the vinyl is down, which for us meant they were on my daughter's hands about a minute later.  Do you have a little Elsa fan in your house? 
Earlier in the post, I mentioned Tag's Thrift Store, Tag's is a Utah local thrift store that is opening in Utah County this weekend and I just have to say that I am passionate about their main cause, which is working with Feed the World. They go into countries and teach small farmers how to provide themselves. They teach them how to feed their children and make sure they aren't going hungry. I love this program and everything it stands for. If you get the chance to look into their new store or Feed the World, do it.

My favorite thing about #TagsThrift? If you want to donate, but you would rather donate to another cause, they will gladly send what you would have made off your donation to another charity. We will be back often, just because I love their approach to charity so much.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Healthy Lunches- Cinderella

This post is sponsored by Intermountain Healthcare.  All opinions are 100% my own.
If I am being honest, there are few things about parenting that I have shed more tears over than food and nutrition. My 5-year-old is about as picky as they come. She fights against eating almost every form of protein and I have sat at the table after a meal, frustrated that it felt like I just went through a battle. 

This year, as apart of Intermountain's LiVe Well initiative, I have been practicing new tips and tricks to get the nutrition in my child without the battle. For my little girl, food is all about presentation. I could put some crackers and cheese on a plate and it will sit there until the end of time, but with a tiny bit of prep, we can have a very successful lunch. We have been using Rubbermaid Lunch Blox containers, they are a kind of Bento box that snap right into the ice pack, keeping the entire thing cold until lunch time. They are fantastic and I highly recommend looking into them. This isn't a paid advertisement for them, we just enjoy them in our house. 

I have been thrilled how much a little prep work gets almost twice the calories in my little girl and not just calories, healthy calories. Some of our favorite lunches are themed around her favorite princesses and super heroes. Today I am sharing Cinderella.

For a Cinderella lunch you will need:

  • crackers 
  • Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges
  • olives (just one or two for the nose and eyes on the mouse) 
  • a small slice of ham (just for the ears)
  • slices of something green, I used bell pepper because I know my kid will eat it. You could use celery. 
  • carrots and celery sticks
  • peanut butter
  • a small orange
My absolute favorite part of this lunch is the cute little cheese mouse. To make him, simply unwrap your cheese and place in a container, Pinch off small pieces of olive and place them for his nose and eyes, Cut small circles of ham and add them for the ears. I used a medicine syringe to cut the small circles for the eyes. Add the greenery for the tail. Another reason I love using a bell pepper for the tail is the natural curl in the pepper makes it look even more like a mouse. Peel your "pumpkin" and add a small green stem, I used pepper for this as well, but you could use celery. Cut crown peaks into your carrots and celery and add your dipping peanut butter to a container. 

I know some people will look at this lunch and think "Ain't nobody got time for that." but for a difficult eater, it is 100% worth it. Taking five minutes to prep this meal meant it got gobbled down without any fighting. That is a feat in our house. 

To help facilitate some healthy lunches in your house, Intermountain Healthcare is giving away 8 sets of Lunch Blox between now and the end of September. All you have to do it head over to their Facebook page for your chance to win. Check back tomorrow for another healthy princess lunch! 

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Easy Under the Sink Dishwasher Detergent Organization

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  #CollectiveBias
 If there was one place in my house that was in desperate need of a makeover, it was under my kitchen sink. Everything was kind of haphazardly thrown in there and finding what you needed was always a pain. I have been putting it off forever, but when a sink leak ruined a bunch of dishwasher detergent, I knew it was time for an makeover 

 You will need:

  • Containers, various shapes and types. I liked having a container with a lid for my dishwasher tabs, but I liked the open ones for my other items
  • Vinyl 
  • Vinyl cutter or scissors
  • Transfer Tape
  • Credit Card (To apply the vinyl)
  • Dishwasher Tabs 

Cut out the words you need for your containers using a machine or trace them and cut by hand. The words I ended up needing were cleaners, dishwasher tabs and sponges. I also cut a bunch of 2 inch polka dots, just to add a little bit of flair to each of the containers.
Apply the transfer tape to the top of the vinyl, making sure it picks up the entire word. Center the word on your container and then use a credit card to smooth the vinyl down until secure. Remove the transfer tape.
Repeat with all of the containers you need for your sink.
When your containers have all of the words on them, place your polka dots. I love cutting my polka dots apart so I can see what it is going to look like before I actually secure them down using the credit card. I ended up using about 6 dots per container.
In my cleaners bucket, I keep the couple of cleaners we use around the house, my current cleaning sponge and my dustpan. In my sponges bucket, I actually keep my clean sponges that are waiting to be used and my dishwasher tabs container is just for my dishwasher tabs, which helps keep them dry when I am reaching into the cupboard for something else.
Right now, Finish Quantum Tabs are on an amazing rollback at Walmart and you can pair that with the coupon at the end of the post for extra #SparklySavings!
 We love Finish Quantum Tabs because they use hydrogen peroxide to help clean your dishes all while using less harsh chemicals. Even though they have less chemicals in them, make sure to supervise any children who are handling them.  Be sure to print out the coupon below for extra savings! 

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