Home Page 2017-03-13T17:34:21+00:00
Hi,
I’m Sarah.
I’m an optimist, wanna be chef, old soul, and mother, who strives to waste nothing and is always in search of a solution.

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My mom guilt has reached its max

Today was quite a rough day for me. Ed’s away working in Florida, and I’m home holding down the fort with the little ones. Max has been sick for the last few days, and after another round of high fevers, we landed ourselves back in the doctor’s office early this morning. I hadn’t even brushed my teeth or had a cup of coffee when the doctor had called me back and decided it was best that Max have a chest x-ray.

Off to the radiologist we went, the kids still in their pj’s. With the x-rays done, the only thing left for us to do was to wait. Around 10:30 am, the doctor called me into her office to show me the photos and explain his pneumonia diagnosis. The doctor could hardly believe that the little boy jumping off the scale next to us was the one who matched the x-rays, but I explained how A-typical my children always are. With a course of action decided, and the nurse informed me that Max would need a shot of antibiotics to jump start his system. They explained that this was going to be a difficult shot for him because of the size of the needle but that it was critical that he received it.

As I held my screaming baby, Ava, my 3-year-old daughter started asking questions about what was happening to her brother. Truth be told, I was so in the moment, I had totally forgotten she was there with us. Then, I did the cruelest thing humanly possible, with a screaming Max in my arms, I barked at Ava to sit down and shut up. I couldn’t listen to her questions and was at total max capacity between being concerned for Max, lacking caffeine and sleep, and being down right scared. Max finally calmed down 30 minutes later, and as I had gotten the kids into the car, I really looked at Ava for the first time all morning. I realized that she is just a baby herself and she too was scared for Max.

Being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and no one prepares you for the vast majority of it. Some days down right suck, and you feel as if you’re barely surviving. Life throws curve balls all the time, but it’s our job to show up and step up to the plate. So, if your day was hard, you unnecessarily yelled at your kids, and your mom guilt is at it’s all time high, you’re not alone. I’m standing right there with you when you say “Next pitch, please.”

Stop buying Play Dough and make it with this simple recipe

 

 

I’m embarrassed to admit that before a week ago I had never made play dough. Me, the queen of frugal, always went out and purchased it for my kids because I thought it would be difficult to make or require special ingredients. Nothing could have been further from the truth and thanks to a friend I have mastered the simple recipe.

Play dough is one of my saving grace activities that keeps both kids happy and quiet while I make dinner. I go through containers of it because it inevitably gets left out or dries. This recipe requires no fancy ingredients and you probably have most everything already sitting in your cupboard. Best of all it doesn’t require cream of tartar, which is a pricey ingredient that isn’t used in many other recipes.

Play dough recipe without cream of tartar

1 cup flour

1/4 cup salt

3/4 cup water

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 package of jello

 

  1. Add the water, oil, and vinegar to a medium non-stick pot over medium heat on the stove.
  2. Add the package of Jello to the water mixture.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt.
  4. After the water is hot, but not boiling, slowly add the dry ingredients to the water, while mixing to combine.
  5. Continuously stir until the ingredients combine and form a ball.  It all happens pretty fast, so it’s better to be a bit undercooked because it will firm as it cools down.
  6. Place on a sheet of wax paper until it cools. Then knead the dough for a minute or two to bring it all together.

Here’s a great video I made for all of you visual learners.

 

I reduced the clutter and now I can actually put things in my hall closet- Part I

Want to talk about skeletons in my closet? Well here’s mine.

Not exactly a skeleton, but it certainly is SCARY…This post is quite embarrassing because I honestly can’t believe what a complete disaster I’ve allowed my hall closet to become. It got to the point where I dreaded opening the door because I was concerned something would fall out and onto me. Luckily, I’ve been on such cleaning high from my last project (kids dresser clean out: 1, 2 & 3) that I knew tackling this project would be a space game changer for us.

I divided this project over two days because there was just no way I would have the time to complete the mission in one fell swoop. Especially because I’m conscientious about planning for clean up time. I hate when things get left in a state of complete disaster, and then I feel as if all my good intentions were for nothing.

So I started Operation: Clean Closet the same way I always do, by dumping everything out.

I decided to focus on the floor and the first shelf since it seemed like the worst of the mess.

Seeing my new found space gave me the extra kick in the pants to keep going.

I organized all of the gift wrapping items so that similar things could go together. (Hope you’re not judging my massive stash of gift bags!)

So, now the tricky part: the outliers. The step stool went back into the closet because it’s something I do often use (when I can get to it!). The frames and baskets I put into my office because I have a plan for them (future blog post? You bet!). The personal care items I held to the side because I had two huge baskets filled with them and I wanted to sort through everything together.

These baskets, filled with soaps, mouthwash, razors and body lotion were what pushed me over the edge.  Seeing lying before me, all the duplicate items I’ve gone out and purchased not because I needed them, but because I couldn’t find them, was hard to witness. I started sorting the bins and putting like items together. Finally, I made a whole pile of personal care items to be donated to my church because I will never be able to use all of them in a reasonable amount of time.

Now that I can clearly see what I have, it was time to start getting everything back in their place. I wanted to make sure all the gift bags were readily available so that I don’t just end up shoving bags into the closet or worse going out and buying one. I love having all of the wrapping materials together so that I can enjoy making a gift look special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m half way through the hallway closet clean out, and already I can see a dramatic change. It’s the start that stops most people, so stop procrastinating and make time for those areas of your house that need some serious organization. Not only does it look and feel good, but it gives me peace of mind that I can open the closet door and not have random toiletries fall on top of my head.

Authentic recipes from my grandmother’s kitchen: Tuna Rice Souffle

Food has such a powerful connection to memories. My grandmother was an excellent cook, and when she passed away, the only thing I asked for was her recipe books. I loved that she had neatly organized 1,000’s of recipes, most of them handwritten, but some cut from a newspaper or a magazine. I’ve tasted food from many of the recipes in these books but some were made long before my time. I love to cook but there are days when I am beyond thrilled just to call for pizza, so I often think of how my grandmother cooked three times a day, seven days a week for a family of seven. Just to put things in perspective, my mom was 16 years old the first time she went out to a restaurant with her family.

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Lately, my mom and I have been talking about me sharing some of my Grandmother’s recipes because not only are they delicious, but they are extremely economical when it comes to feeding your family. Her Tuna Rice Souffle recipe is the perfect example of this because the most expensive ingredient is a can of tuna. As the smell of it fills my house, I’m practically transported back in time, when I was 10 and at my grandmother’s house for supper.

Tuna Rice Souffle

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C cooked rice
  • 1/4 C butter
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 1 C milk
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 can tuna, flaked
  • 1 tsp dried parsley

Directions

Melt butter and then stir in flour. Add milk and cook over medium-high heat for 1 minute.

Add yolks to white sauce. Add onion powder, flaked tuna, dried parsley and rice to white sauce.

Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture

Pour into ungreased casserole.

Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes.

Melt butter and then stir in flour. Add milk and cook over medium-high heat for 1 minute.

Add yolks to white sauce. Add onion powder, flaked tuna, dried parsley and rice to white sauce.

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Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture

Pour into ungreased casserole.

Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes.

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Here’s what happened when I drank 96 ounces of water every day…

I set plenty of goals for myself on a daily and weekly basis, but drinking this much H2O would never have been one of them. Actually, the challenge fell into my hands, like some sort of omen because of gifts that were given to me by two separate friends. One friend gave me a Swell water bottle, and then another friend gave me essential oil drops that you dilute in water. With my new goodies, how could I not get curious about how much water I should be drinking? I did some research and found out that the recommended daily amount is 96 ounces. So, I decided to start there. I know water is crucial to our bodies and health, so I figured within 30 days, drinking that much water would transform me into a Giselle Bundchen look-alike.

I’m a water drinker, to begin with, and besides wine and coffee, there’s really not many other beverages I like. I was a bit taken aback that 96 oz was the recommended amount, which translates into 6 Swell bottles of water a day. The first day involved an awful lot of chugging, but I got into a water drinking groove pretty quickly while getting to know my bathroom better.

I won’t leave you in suspense any longer. Sadly, no one will be confusing me with Giselle anytime soon, unless we were in a very dark room. So what did happen after 30 days? Honestly, I don’t look or feel any different. The only real shocker is that I actually got thirstier the more I drank.

No, I’m not going to give up drinking 96 ounces of water because nothing changed. First of all, I know that it’s healthy and second a girl can still hope that six months down the road I will absolutely have that “glow” and be mistaken for Giselle.

And just because a significant change didn’t happen in 30 days, doesn’t mean it won’t. On the outside, I may look the same, but I’m sure on the inside, I am much healthier and glowing.

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How to host a Disney inspired dinner party

This whole dinner party was inspired by two bottles of wine I purchased at the Food and Wine Festival in EPCOT last November. I picked up a bottle of 2016 Festival Cabernet and Chardonnay as gifts for my parents. Since they are so darn difficult to buy for I decided to make it their Christmas present along with a Mickey Mouse themed dinner party. I had absolutely no idea what a Mickey dinner party would look like, but I figured they wouldn’t either, so I could make it up as I went.

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Mickey Mouse Dinner Menu

Appetizer-Mickey Shaped Avocado and Arugula Toast

Entre- Mickey Meatballs with Spaghetti

Dessert- Mickey Chocolate Cupcakes

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Mickey Shaped Avocado and Arugula Toast

Last years for Christmas, my mom and dad gave me this adorable Mickey Mouse shaped cookie cutter. I knew I wanted to incorporate it into the dinner party and I thought that using it to cut bread would be a fun element in the first course. I followed this recipe for the Avocado and Arugula Toast to a T and loved it.

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With the excess bread that I had from cutting out the Mickey’s, I pulsed it in a food processor and used the bread crumbs in the main course meatball recipe. The extras I put into a Ziploc bag in the freezer to use for another day.

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Mickey Meatballs with Spaghetti

This meatball recipe is my absolute favorite. My only regret was that I didn’t make 4 lbs. of meatballs because we ate practically all of them. They do have a very cheesy taste to them (which I think is what makes them so good!) but you can always decrease the amount of cheese if you’re not into it. For sauce, I kept it simple and just used jarred.

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To form them into the Mickey shape, I made one large meatball and then attached two smaller meatballs with toothpicks. Make sure to remove the toothpicks before serving or your guests will get a nasty surprise.

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Mickey Chocolate Cupcakes

I used a boxed chocolate cupcake mix (did you see my post on how to make a boxed cake mix taste homemade?). Then topped it with a chocolate ganache and half an Oreo for each ear. In hindsight, I think I would have whipped the chocolate ganache frosting to give the cupcake more height and have the Oreo ears stick better.

All said in done, I was so pleased with the way that everything came out. My family had a great time, and I think I finally found a gift that they enjoyed. I have a feeling that this may become an annual tradition.

Pecan pie tasting for Pi Day and the best recipe

If curiosity killed the cat, then pecan pie gave me a belly ache, but it was all in the name of research. With Pi Day looming before me on the calendar, I, of course, wanted to make a pie recipe.  I brought down my grandmother’s recipe index and started flipping through the pages. To my amazement out of the 100’s of recipes she had there was only one pie recipe, so I pulled out the card for pecan pie and found there were 5 index cards of pecan pie recipes all put together in one spot. As I sat there reading through each recipe, I started wondering which one I should make and of course curiosity got the best of me. So, I decided to make all five because I just had to know which one was the best.

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5 Pecan Pie Recipes

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Pie 1

  • 2/3 to 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Dash of salt

Sprinkle pecans in pie shell. In large bowl beat together remaining ingredients. Pour over pecans. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on rack. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

This pie ended up taking an additional 10 minutes to bake. I didn’t like that the butter was softened instead of melted because I found it difficult to incorporate. This was also the only pie that didn’t have a beautiful golden crust to it. We also felt the vinegar gave it a curdled texture. Pie 1 was our least favorite. 

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Pie 2

  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 9-inch unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. In a 2 quart saucepan over low heat, heat butter or margarine until melted; remove saucepan from heat. With wire whisk, beat in corn syrup, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until blended. Arrange pecans in bottom of piecrust; carefully pour egg mixture over them. Bake 1 hour or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean. Cool pie on wire rack. Makes 12 servings.

This was the hands down winner. We loved the golden exterior and caramel flavor it developed. The only critique I had was that the pie’s center sunk a bit but in the end, it was the flavor favorite. 

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Pie 3

  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup dark Karo syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 9-inch unbaked pie crust

Beat eggs and add rest and beat together. Pour in a 9inch unbaked pie shell. Bake on hour at 325-degrees.

Pie 3 was our other least favorite. The filling had a greasy, mushy texture that none of us cared for. I believe that’s from the melted shortening instead of butter like the other recipes.

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Pie 4

  • 2/3 cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup Karo
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 9-inch unbaked pie crust

Beat eggs. Mix all ingredients together and place in pie crust. Bake at 350-degrees for 45 minutes.

Pie 4 was just ok. Nothing was terribly wrong with it but it just didn’t impress us as much as the other recipes.

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Pie 5

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 9-inch unbaked pastry shell

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Beat eggs thoroughly with sugar, a dash of salt, corn syrup and melted butter; add pecans. Pour into unbaked pastry shell. Bake in moderate oven, 50 minutes or till knife inserted halfway between outside and center of filling comes out clean. Cool.

This pie was the runner-up for favorite. We thought the taste and texture were really close to being as good as Pie 2. I thought this was also the prettiest looking of all the pies. 

I’m shocked just how different each pie recipe is and how one little tweak in an ingredient or baking time really dramatically changes the taste and look. In the end, all of us chose Pie 2 as our favorite, but Pie 5 was a close second. I thought that eating five pies would be incredibly easy since I have such a sweet tooth but my eyes were way bigger than my stomach because I had quite a belly ache at the end of it. Truth be told it was totally worth the sugar high now that I know which is the best pecan pie recipe.

 

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Even though I know I’m loved, it’s still nice to hear it. My Valentines gave me the best gift ever. A homemade card, a Rose Bombshell, Beautiful Shower Gel, and Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner from Lush (I bought myself the chocolate covered espresso beans because I felt I deserved it).

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It was such a thoughtful gift because it forced me to do something I’m absolutely terrible at, relax. I soaked in the tub and read my book, in complete silence for an hour; it felt like a dream.

Hope you had a fantastic day too!

Valentine’s Day tea party and easy cake mix hack

Lately, the weather’s been gloomy, and I’ve been putting a lot of hours into the blog. I wanted to take the opportunity tonight to do something special with the kids, so we decided to have a little tea party (you can guess who came up with that idea). Since Ava stopped napping a few weeks ago, I’ve constantly been trying to come up with new ways to occupy her while Max sleeps. One of the most fun (and tasty) ways is to do a little baking. We received these teacup cupcake molds as a gift, and I’ve been dying to give them a test run. They were a joy to use and made baking super easy.

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I love making a cake from scratch, but truth be told, life is just too darn busy for that. So I have an amazingly easy trick for making a box cake TASTE just like a homemade one. After reading the box’s directions (I used Pillsbury Funfetti), I substituted milk for water and butter for oil. Those simple swaps pack some serious flavor. I always try and buy the box of cake mix that already has pudding in it, but if yours does not, I strongly suggest throwing a box of pudding mix in. It really does help to make it incredibly moist and delicious.

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Some technical tricks to help you up your cupcake game:

  • Use an ice cream scoop to put the batter into the cupcake tins. This helps to portion control and prevents a few giant cupcakes and a whole lot of tiny ones.
  • Use a pastry bag and an extra large piping tip. Piping is actually quite easy with the right tools. I think a lot of people give up because they use the wrong size piping tip. The small ones are impossible to use but the extra large ones give a professional look with amateur skills.

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Our little tea party put us in the Valentine’s Day spirit, especially because I broke out the kid’s new personalized placemats from GiftsForYouNow.com. The placemats are the perfect gift because they are absolutely adorable and actually useful. I love that they have a non-skid backing so that Max can’t push them off the table during every meal. They easily wipe clean too. Max wanted to make sure that we tested that feature out by smearing tons of frosting over them.

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I loved how easy and cute these tea party cupcakes came out, so much that I’m filing it away as a great birthday party idea. If you’re going the birthday party route, wouldn’t customized placemats for each kid make the cutest decorations and party favor all wrapped up in one? Boom! Mind officially blown.

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A huge thank you to GiftsForYouNow.com for partnering up with me on this post.

What to do with little kids in Essex County, New Jersey

Whenever I’m going away with the kids, I like to do some research on where the best places to take young children are. Often it requires a lot of detective work Sherlock Holmes would be proud of, to compile a list of a few places to visit. That’s why I love creating these posts on places I took my family and the things they enjoyed. I hope this makes a parent’s life just a tiny bit easier when preparing for a trip.

Here’s a recap of our staycation in West Orange, New Jersey, Essex County.

Marriott West Orange We stayed at the Essex Green Courtyard Marriott, and it was everything I could want and need. Our room was recently renovated, clean and had the Disney channel. I’m a simple gal. It was an extra bonus that it was located right in a massive shopping center that had a movie theater, supermarket, TGI Friday’s and Panera in it.

TGI Fridays- The service was quick and good plus there were french fries and chocolate milk for the kids. We went there for lunch, and I had the Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad, it was delicious.

Imagine That- It was hard to grasp how amazing this place was just from the pictures online. The best way I can describe it is as a child’s heaven. Imagine that in a large warehouse where there are different rooms for just about every love a child could have. Max (22 months) was beside himself with joy over the train room. Encased in a glass enclosure was a beautiful, moving toy train which ran back and forth through the town and station. It had buttons to push to make the lights blink on and train whistle sound. Max literally stood in that room for an hour transfixed by what he saw. Ava loved their play house and doctor’s office. Their incredible pirate ship was a huge hit with both kids. We could have spent the entire day here.

Panevino Ristorante- I made reservations for an early dinner at 5 and was so pleased to see that there were other families with small children in the restaurant at the same time. The place was beautiful, and I was beyond excited to try a pizza from their pizza oven. My Caesar salad had just been placed down in front of me when I saw out of the corner of my eye every mom’s nightmare: Max began dry heaving and coughing, and I knew he was going to vomit. I quickly held him to my chest and ran to the front door. My sweater luckily was the only real victim in the disaster. Poor Max had been acting a bit strange that afternoon, and I hadn’t realized that he might be coming down with something. After being vomited on by your child in a nice restaurant, you may not expect the most pleasant welcome as you re-enter, but I can’t even begin to say how kind the staff was to me. Our food was promptly wrapped to go, the waitress offered to help clean my now disgusting sweater with wipes, and I was asked by nearly everyone if Max was okay. The pizza tasted delicious in my hotel room after changing into my pajamas, but I would love to go back to Panevino and eat my pizza hot from their incredible pizza oven.

Panera- I know what to expect and order when I head into a Panera. The food is quick and yummy, and no one looks twice when my kid is sitting on the seat of the booth, peaking his head over to the other side.

Funtime Junction– A friend recommended Funtime Junction, and I’m so happy we checked it out. With two indoor bounce castles, an indoor playground set and an enormous indoor playroom (similar to what you would find at a fast food chain but way bigger and way cooler). They also had an arcade and laser tag room which we didn’t get a chance to explore. I loved that I was able to jump in the bouncy castles and go through the giant tunnel system with the kids. Ava was a bit nervous about the play system, but once we did it together, she was able to zip around without me. Max adored the indoor playground set and the ride on cars (you did have to put quarters in to get them to move). The kids enjoyed two hours of playing and asked if we could go back again.

What a great trip to Essex County, New Jersey. If you find itself in that neck of the woods and check out some of the places, let me know what you think or what else you unearth on your own.

How to host a Disney inspired dinner party

This whole dinner party was inspired by two bottles of wine I purchased at the Food and Wine Festival in EPCOT last November. I picked up a bottle of 2016 Festival Cabernet and Chardonnay as gifts for my parents. Since they are so darn difficult to buy for I decided to make it their Christmas present along with a Mickey Mouse themed dinner party. I had absolutely no idea what a Mickey dinner party would look like, but I figured they wouldn’t either, so I could make it up as I went.

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Mickey Mouse Dinner Menu

Appetizer-Mickey Shaped Avocado and Arugula Toast

Entre- Mickey Meatballs with Spaghetti

Dessert- Mickey Chocolate Cupcakes

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Mickey Shaped Avocado and Arugula Toast

Last years for Christmas, my mom and dad gave me this adorable Mickey Mouse shaped cookie cutter. I knew I wanted to incorporate it into the dinner party and I thought that using it to cut bread would be a fun element in the first course. I followed this recipe for the Avocado and Arugula Toast to a T and loved it.

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With the excess bread that I had from cutting out the Mickey’s, I pulsed it in a food processor and used the bread crumbs in the main course meatball recipe. The extras I put into a Ziploc bag in the freezer to use for another day.

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Mickey Meatballs with Spaghetti

This meatball recipe is my absolute favorite. My only regret was that I didn’t make 4 lbs. of meatballs because we ate practically all of them. They do have a very cheesy taste to them (which I think is what makes them so good!) but you can always decrease the amount of cheese if you’re not into it. For sauce, I kept it simple and just used jarred.

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To form them into the Mickey shape, I made one large meatball and then attached two smaller meatballs with toothpicks. Make sure to remove the toothpicks before serving or your guests will get a nasty surprise.

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Mickey Chocolate Cupcakes

I used a boxed chocolate cupcake mix (did you see my post on how to make a boxed cake mix taste homemade?). Then topped it with a chocolate ganache and half an Oreo for each ear. In hindsight, I think I would have whipped the chocolate ganache frosting to give the cupcake more height and have the Oreo ears stick better.

All said in done, I was so pleased with the way that everything came out. My family had a great time, and I think I finally found a gift that they enjoyed. I have a feeling that this may become an annual tradition.

Harlem Globetrotters at Madison Square Garden

I was really torn about taking the kids to go see the Harlem Globetrotters at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Ava (3.5 years old) does really well at events at shows but Max (21 months) has a really hard time sitting still. I actually even had planned for my mom to watch the kids and for Ed, myself, and our friends to go to the game. But Ed convinced me that the kids would have a blast. Max loves sports, and between the two of us, we figured we could manage him if he got a bit fussy and needed to walk around. Little did I know that Max would be so into that game that he would stay still watching and eating his popcorn the entire time.

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We decided to drive into the city because the game would end after the kids’ bedtime and they would inevitably fall asleep on the way home. When I was planning the day out, I started Googling the best places to park close to Madison Square Garden and stumbled upon SpotHero. Their website allowed me to find event parking close to MSG and search through lots based on price and availability. This made parking so easy and saved me a ton of money. I was able to book a spot in a garage which was a 5-minute walk from the Garden and only cost me $25 for my entire time (5 pm-11 pm). Do be careful with the type of car you book because my Jeep Cherokee would have been an extra $15 fee on top of parking because it’s considered “oversized.” We ended up driving Ed’s Lexus in because it’s a much smaller car and there was no fee. SpotHero will prompt you to enter in your vehicle’s make and model to tell you if that garage has a surcharge for your car.

It’s been a while since I’ve been in Madison Square Garden and I was really impressed with how clean and well staffed it was. The concession stand was able to quickly answer my questions about my son’s peanut allergy, and I was guided to an elevator (we had a stroller) without even having to ask.

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We were swiftly taken to our seats, and the show began. It’s pure magic when you find something that’s not only appropriate for children but also entertaining for adults. The Harlem Globetrotters did such an excellent job of embracing family friendliness and not only making me laugh out loud but also being something I felt good about Ava watching. When I was a little girl, my mom used to tell me, garbage in, garbage out and I hated that saying but now it’s something I live by. I’m really carefully about the things I allow my children to watch and I was so pleased that nothing during the Globetrotters show made me cringe. An entire basketball show can be incredibly daunting for a small child to watch, so I love how the show was broken up into small chunks. A few minutes of basketball was then followed by a few moments of silly antics, dancing, and games.

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I was concerned that the people around me would think that I didn’t feed Max on a regular basis. He ate 1/4 lb hot dog, half a large box of popcorn, a 1/4 of a pretzel and an entire bottle of water. Little did I realize that going to the show would be a night of dieting for me because Max ate almost all of my food.

Looking back, I can tell you that I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was such a fun family night that made for some really special memories.

Remember you can save 25% for ALL Harlem Globetrotters Games with promo code FUNFAM http://www.harlemglobetrotters.com/tickets

A big thank you to the Harlem Globetrotters for teaming up with me on this post.

We clean up nice

I had to share a photo of me in fancy clothing from the wedding we attended on Saturday. If you had asked me five years ago, to get ready for a black tie event, I would have spent three hours primping and preparing. Now with two kids, a business and full household, time is a luxury I don’t often have. I ended up pulling together my black tie look in under 20 minutes after running home from a yoga class. My younger self would have been baffled by my seemingly incredible feat. Oh, how times change.

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How to Organize and Store Kids Clothing

I love to score a great deal on kids clothes. Often, the only way for me to do that is by buying in advance, which can always be a dicey thing. I’m fortunate that my kids are easy to predict size-wise, the tricky part is will I be able to find the stuff I bought months in advance and stashed away. After a major bathing suit mishap last summer, I purchased swimsuits well in advance on clearance and never unearthed them until Christmas, long after we needed or could ever use them. I decided it was time to organize and set myself up for success. Here’s what I did.

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I headed to Target to get storage bins that would easily hold my clearance treasures. We have an unfinished basement that is the perfect place to keep things that we are not using, as long as it’s well packed. I chose a plastic drawer system as my organizational tool of choice and then made labels according to size. I purposefully choose a storage system that wasn’t too big. The last thing I need is an excuse to buy more clothes!  With that in place, it’s so easy for me to run downstairs to pack away my finds and also keep track of what I’ve got for each size. This is also a great way to organize hand-me-downs. As you can imagine, I’m a big fan of those!

Want to see my clearance finds?

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These were $2 a piece at Crazy 8.

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This was $5 at Gymboree.

The thrill of a deal and having a place to put it = happiness to me.

Valentine’s Day Outfit+ Giveaway

I used to think that Valentine’s Day was such a stupid holiday until I had kids. Parenting doesn’t always bring out the best in me and I often forget to tell my husband, Ed, how much I love and appreciate him.  So Valentine’s Day serves as a nice reminder for me to dedicate just a little bit of time for the two of us. As I was thinking about the things that I could do or maybe where we should go for Valentine’s Day, I realized I have nothing to wear!

I get stuck in the jeans and yoga pant rut, so I don’t have a lot of options besides those things. StyleWe teamed up with me on this post and I am loving so many of their beautiful outfits. After debating over a ton of their gorgeous pieces, I ended up picking this amazing black top by The Masked Queen. I loved how versatile it is, being able to wear it with jeans to a skirt, this shirt will be able to do some major double duty. I ended up pairing it with this super cute and comfy shirt I scored on clearance at Target (come one now, this is Smart. Simple. Savvy. !!!) This is the ideal outfit for whatever or however Ed and I choose to spend our Valentine’s Day.

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StyleWe wants you to look beautiful this Valentine’s Day! Enter below to win an item from their website that’s equal to or less than $50.

To be eligible, follow the steps on the Rafflecopter. A winner will be selected at random on January 26. Good luck!

You can find StyleWe also on InstagramFacebook, and their blog.

Giveaway is open to entrants in USA, UK, Australia, Germany, Italy, Canada, or France.

Please make sure to check their size charts to find your proper size! Their sizing is a bit different than what most of us are accustomed to.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Q&A with author Ame Dyckman plus a surprise announcement

I must start this post off my admitting that I am totally shaking in my boots with excitement. Not only do I have a HUGE announcement for you, but I also had the opportunity to chat with a goddess of the kidlit world: Ame Dyckman. She is the creative genius behind the books, “Boy + Bot,” “Tea Party Rules,” “Wolfie the Bunny,” and “You DON’T Want a Unicorn.” Ame’s book, “Boy + Bot” holds a special place in my heart because it is the reason my little guy Max can even say the word “bot.”

Ava and I had the pleasure of reading (and re-reading a million times) Ame’s newest book “You DON’T Want a Unicorn, ” and it lived up to my every expectation. All of Ame’s amazing gifts shine in this book because it is absolutely hysterical not just for kids but adults too. I also love how her books can engage a wide audience, in this case ranging from my 22-month-old son Max to my 3.5-year-old daughter Ava, with their unique story lines. Liz Climo, the illustrator, did a stunning job of bringing the story to life and keeping the kids interested in how the story progressed.

I was fortunate enough to be able to ask Ame a few questions to get inside the mind of this literary genius in the interview below. As to my announcement … I am going to be able to meet Ame in person on Saturday, March 25, 2017, at a very special event happening at 1 pm at the Princeton Public Library. The best part is that you can meet her then too!

The library will be holding a day of family-friendly events and activities to celebrate the opening of their newly reimagined second floor. After eight months of renovation, the library is ready to celebrate, and Ame will be there to help by hosting a unicorn themed story time and book signing at 1 pm. The full schedule of events is on the library’s web site (plus it is also Maker Day on the third floor and Local Author Day in the community room).With all of that going on, Princeton Public Library will be the place to be this Saturday.

Interview with author Ame Dyckman

Ava and I just finished reading your new book, “You Don’t Want A Unicorn.” Unicorns are such a hot topic right now, what inspired you to write about not wanting one? I noticed a little hint in your author’s note about a bake sale incident.

THANKS for reading YOU DON’T WANT A UNICORN, Sarah! (And Ava!) Illustrator Liz Climo and I HAD to let folks know having a unicorn isn’t JUST the Carefree Happy Magicfest you see on TV—it’s a lot of hard work, too! Sparkles. Ceiling holes. PILES OF CUPCAKES! (Which brings us back to the bake sale incident. NEVER bring your unicorn to your school’s bake sale. Trust me.)

Have you always loved writing? What do you do when you don’t feel like writing?

I’ve ALWAYS loved writing. As a kid, I was happiest when something I wrote made the other kids laugh. Guess I never outgrew that. Hope I never do.

When I’m not writing, I read, listen to stand-up comedy, and ride roller coasters. If I could do those three things simultaneously, that would be EPIC!

What was your favorite book as a child?

My favorite book was (and still is!) WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak. It was one of the first books to show kids can misbehave and still be loved. That’s a huge gift to children—and their grown-ups.

What piece of advice do you know now, that you wish you knew in your younger years?

Paste LOOKS yummy, but it’s not. Moose DON’T like it when you try to feed them celery. And as far as writing goes, always have a few manuscripts you’re working on at a time. When you get stuck on one, focus on another one. Don’t see it as Writer’s Block. Just see it as Switch Time.

Can you give us a sneak peek into any future book ideas you have?

My next book, READ THE BOOK, LEMMINGS!, comes out November 7. It’s an Arctic adventure aboard the S.S. Cliff starring First Mate Foxy, Captain PB (Polar Bear), and a trio of lemmings who won’t (or maybe, CAN’T) read Foxy’s book that says lemmings DON’T jump off cliffs. So naturally, they—

LEMMINGS: “GERONIMO-O-O-O-O!”

—um, THAT.

I’ve always wanted to do a learning-to-read book, and I was THRILLED to make this one with WOLFIE and HORRIBLE BEAR!’s illustrator, Zachariah OHora. (Wrote it just for Zach, in fact!)

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself that few people know?

I can pick stuff up with my toes. WANNA SEE?!
Hey! Where’d everybody go?

Where are the best yoga studios in Princeton, New Jersey?

Searching for that mind-body connection?

Me too! That’s why I tried out four yoga studios in Princeton and learned just how unique each one was.

Yoga Studios in Princeton, New Jersey

Yoga Stream- Lara’s class focused my mind and challenged my body.  The beginning of the class taught us sequences and moves, and then the second part of the class solidified what we learned by combining all of those moves into a flow. The class gave me plenty of opportunities to challenge my body.  As I was sweating, I felt as if I was cleansing myself of the negative and allowing the positivity of the practice to fill its space. This is not a sit on the floor and stretch your legs yoga class. It’s truly all about movement and focus.

Honor Yoga Princeton- I took their Ariel Yoga class and loved it. It was something completely new to me so I was a bit apprehensive about how I would do. The instructor put me at ease and took the time to explain each movement. It felt incredible because I was able to do poses inside of the yoga hammock that I normally couldn’t do in my floor practice, like a handstand inversion. The swaying motion of the hammock made me feel as if I was floating on water.

Rise Power Yoga- Annie’s Deep Stretch class was truly the most relaxed I have been in four years. I loved how I was able to focus on each movement and pose as we slowly worked through the sequences. Anne is a spiritual goddess, and she imparts her wisdom in each class. The 90-minute class flew by and challenged my mind in ways I hadn’t expected. I left on a total yoga high.

Gratitude Yoga- I took Gemma’s Vinyasa Flow class and loved the fast-paced movement that challenged my body. Gemma started off by dedicating our practice to silence, and we honored that core concept with each move. I was amazed at the range of ability of the students and how that flowed together beautifully. Some individuals were able to do incredibly advanced moves while others took the modifications and moved at a slower pace (like me).

So I know what you’re thinking, “Which one was my favorite?”
The truth is, I loved something about each studio.  I believe that yoga is a personal journey that differs from person to person. No matter where your friend or spouse goes, what’s most important, is where you feel a strong connection. So, sorry if you were looking for a quick answer because I don’t have one for you. The best piece of advice I can offer is that you go to all four studios and experience each one’s unique offerings. Who knows, you may end up like me and attend classes at all of the studios because I just couldn’t help falling in love with each of them.

 

The Kairos Movement is all the motivation you’ll need

This post is so near and dear to my heart that it’s almost difficult to write. For the last month, my husband, Ed Tseng has worked tirelessly with his friend, Dr. Glen  Toby (who is really more like family), to create a platform for individuals to share their inspiring stories and help to effect change in others. From this idea, The Kairos Movement was born. Kairos is ancient Greek for the right or opportune moment, and the right movement helps people from all walks of life improve performance, make more money, and live happier lives.

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I will be the first to admit that I often get stuck in my own selfish vortex where I forget that others exist around me. I get so focused on self-pity that it’s hard to imagine that anyone has it harder than me (there is nothing farther from the truth: my life is blessed in so many ways). It’s a horrible place to be and even more difficult to extract yourself from. Often, I’m looking for some form of motivation to help pull me out of my negativity, but it’s difficult to find something that leaves a lasting impression. Kairos has changed all that for me.

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The Kairos Movement Princeton was an all-day event, full of inspiration, motivation, and education, comprised of 8 speakers who shared their unbelievable life stories. Tseng and Toby facilitated the event and also shared their own inspiring stories of hope. Each speaker discussed critical moments in their lives where they faced a choice to give up or to fight. The energy in the room grew as each speaker broke down barriers sharing their Kairos moment.

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Attending The Kairos Movement brought me back to life because it breathed energy and positivity into my soul. It reminded me how fortunate I am, and provided me with lasting hope.

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Sad you missed out? Check out The Kairos Movement website: www.TheKairosMovement.com and find out what city they will be in next.

Want to contribute to the cause? Contact Ed and Glen to discuss options at info.thekairosmovement@gmail.com.

Smart.Simply.Savvy

This blog is about Motherhood, Food, DIY, Traveling with Kids and Princeton, NJ

Smart, simple, savvy are the attributes I strive to be each day. I started this blog as a way to connect with other like-minded individuals looking to live their best life. I hope that each post makes you laugh and that you learn something new as you grow with me on my journey.