Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Favorites {8}

Hey ya'll! It's been awhile. Sorry for the week of dead air. I've been crazy busy with a number of things and just needed a few days to get back to my usual routine. It's been a wonderful, wonderful week though!

For this Friday's favorites, I'm just going to share what's been going on. On Monday, I'll resume the regularly scheduled program of Callum pictures.

1. Cabin trip with my favorite ladies.

Sunday through Tuesday, I drove two hours north with a car-full of girls to spend two nights at a cabin on a lake in Mauston. We played cribbage, floated on the lake, built fires, talked, laughed, watched Clueless, and just soaked in as much time together as we possibly could. It was a wonderful, relaxing little getaway. 

I've been friends with all of these ladies for over 14 years. Our lives have all changed so much, but at the same time, everything seems exactly the when we're all back together. I miss them all like crazy already.

2. The Great Wisconsin Cheeseburger Tasting

On Saturday, I hosted the Fifth Annual Great Wisconsin Cheeseburger Tasting with a group of friends. Every year, we make four cheeseburgers, eat them (obvi), and then vote for our favorites. There's also beer and live music involved. It is always such an amazing time.

The four burgers we made this year were out of control! Some were topped with an egg, others with ham or pulled pork, and other with pepperoncini and jalapeƱos. They all, of course, featured a different Wisconsin Cheese. The favorite by a landslide was The Firehouse. Make it tonight! You will not regret it.

Other than a BBQ with friends tomorrow, our weekend is wide open and I could not be more thankful. I'm so looking forward to spending it with my boys.

Have a good weekend, errrrr'body!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Favorites {7}

Why, hello there, Friday. So nice to see you again.

What's everyone doing this weekend? Tomorrow, I'll be eating cheeseburgers all day. It's the Fifth Annual Great Wisconsin Cheeseburger Tasting. I help host this event with several friends, and it has been one of my favorite events of the summer since we started it. I'll be sure to share lots of pictures on Monday.

Sunday brings me to today's first favorite …

1. I'll be heading up north with five of my closest girlfriends for a couple nights away. I've know these absolutely amazing women for many, many years (some for more than 20!!!), and we sadly all live in different cities now. But, on Sunday, we'll come from Milwaukee, New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Denver for a trip filled with lots of sun, hours of laughter, plenty of wine, and just being together. I know I'm going to come home with the fullest of full hearts.

Snap from my wedding. Unfortunately, the two girls in the middle with the hot lips won't make it this time. // Alex + Natalie Nelson Photography

2. This video has become a daily staple in our house. Callum goes crazy every time it comes on. If you have kids that love to dance, check it out. It really is a ridiculous amount of fun. Callum's best move is probably the bop. Be jealous.

So, you know how Callum calls his pacifier his "nae nae"? And, did you notice that one of the dancers had "Nae Nae" shaved in to his head? We want to get Callum that hair cut. Not even kidding. We know he won't really understand, but we think it will be good comic relief as we try to break his attachment to his nae nae sometime in the next couple of months. I'll keep you posted.

3. I started reading Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell and I love it! It's about these two women who were abducted when they were twelve. It's really interesting because they actually talk about how they weirdly liked the time they spent kidnapped, and how they actually liked the man who took them and never felt unsafe. If you're looking for an easy page turner, check this book out.

4. Oh, Target dollar spot, how I love thee.

I picked up that cute little "Dream Big" sign this week for Callum's for a whopping $3. It's wooden and meant to look like a little pallet sign. It's the perfect pop of color and goes so well with the "Make Believe" print that I got here.

5. Finally, just to make you chuckle, enjoy these perfectly timed photos that make dogs look like giants. I love me a good dog photo.

Have a good weekend, errbody!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tips for Getting Your Toddler to Eat Vegetables

For as long as Callum has been eating solids, we have struggled with getting him to eat his veggies. He is just not a fan. I hear plenty of moms say, "I can't get my kid to stop eating broccoli" or "She especially likes peas." Sadly, that's just not my kid. He'll eat any carb you put in front of his face, but turns his nose to even the smallest veggie. The struggle is real.

I've searched and searched for tips on getting my toddler to eat vegetables. And, to be honest, most really aren't that helpful. But, I have managed to find a few tips that never fail for us. Here's what I've got.

1. Blend it.

I am not exaggerating when I say I make a smoothie for Callum every. single. day. He can't get enough of them and they are filled with fruit and veggies.

Here's our go-to smoothie recipe. This makes enough smoothie for the three humans in my family.

  • two cups fresh spinach
  • one frozen banana (Before I freeze my bananas, I peel them, break them into pieces, and put them in individual baggies. So, I'll have one peeled banana in pieces in each bag.)
  • one cup frozen berries
  • half cup vanilla greek yogurt
  • enough milk to blend it all up

2. Shred it.

This right here is my favorite tip ever: Shredded zucchini in your pancake mix. Every time I make a batch of pancake or waffle mix, I shred a fresh zucchini right into the batter before cooking. Works like a charm.

Shredded carrots in mac n cheese is another popular trick. Rice, mashed potatoes, and spaghetti are also great disguises for any veggie you can shred.

3. Dip it.

Kids love to play with their food. So, use it to your advantage! Giving them some sort of dip for their veggies will always perk their curiosity. Ketchup, ranch, and peanut butter are our favs. Sure, at first, they may just use the veggie as a vehicle for the dip, but it won't be long before they are eating that celery carrying the peanut butter.

4. Keep trying!

Even if Callum won't eat it now, we still always put it on his plate. Someday, he'll surprise the heck out of us and devour those veggies.

Tell me: What are your favorite tips for getting your child to eat vegetables?

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Weekend at the Cabin

Happy Monday, everyone! How was everyone's weekend? Ours was seriously the perfect summer weekend. We spent it on Buffalo Lake in Montello, Wis., at a friend's cabin. There were six adults, three toddlers, and two dogs. And, I think it's safe to say, everyone had an amazing time.

This was the very first lake trip for George, our one-year-old lab. (We left our other dog, Jax, at home because he hates water and doesn't do well off leash.) I'm not even exaggerating when I say he swam and chased the tennis ball the entire time. It was seriously his heaven. He's going to sleep for weeks.

As far as sleep goes for the kids, it wasn't ideal. But, it could've been much worse. The boys all slept through the night well, but were all up much earlier than usual. I can't blame them, though. There was too much fun to be had.

Big thanks to Mark and Stephanie for hosting, and to Samantha and David for joining in on the fun. These guys have been a big part of our lives since Callum was born, and we are so lucky to call them our friends. Not all friends are the friends you can effortlessly spend a whole weekend with. Thankfully, these ones are.

I already can't wait until next year.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Favorites {6}

It's the weekend, errrrbody! Got any cool plans? And, I mean that literally. It's supposed to be a scorcher these next few days in the Midwest. We're headed north a few hours to enjoy a (hopefully) restful weekend with some friends at their lake cabin. There will be three toddlers with us. Lord only knows how well they'll decide to sleep. Thank goodness for coffee. Amiright? Since it will be so hot, I'm looking forward to lots of cold drinks and lake swimming.

I missed last weeks Friday Favorites, but never fear. We're now back to our regularly scheduled program. Here are a few things I CAN NOT get enough of this week.

1. Did you guys know that H&M has kids clothes? I made this discovery a while ago and it has proven to be a very dangerous one. Not only are the kids clothes adorable, but they are so well priced. I picked up a few shirts for Callum this week and I am in love with all them. By the way, that long sleeve blue sweatshirt with the lions on it: $3! 


2. I crossed another item off of our Summer Bucket List and made homemade ice cream this week. There really is nothing like it. It tastes so much fresher than store bought ice cream. I used this recipe for Cake Batter Ice Cream. Peep it.

My ice cream maker is actually an attachment for my Kitchen Aid Mixer. It's a sort of bulky thing to store, but it's really easy to use. 

3. We were in need of a new large area rug for our front room. I bet you'll never guess where I picked this one up from: Target. (I bought it in store and couldn't find it online. Sorry, peeps.) Anyways, it is so soft and really lightens up all the dark wood in the room. Callum's butt is in love.

Also, I get that it's beige and I not only have a toddler, but also two dogs, in our house. But, I've always been a risk taker. Plus, Target also sells carpet cleaner.

Don't the toddler toys really add that special touch to our decor?

4. It is the summer of jumpsuits!! I seriously love them so much. Although they do make going to the bathroom a little tricky, they are so comfortable and take all the work out of planning an outfit. Plus, they can be easily dressed up or down. Here are a few that I am loving. 

5. Finally, here's a little Friday Funny for ya!

Go follow this Instagram account. It is hi-lar-ious. The hashtags are everything.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Toddler-sized homemade Larabars

You guys. I have the easiest recipe for you in the world! The easiest.

Homemade bite-size Larabars!

Do you guys eat Larabars? We love them in our household! They are so simple, healthy, and delicious, and Callum can not get enough of them. All of the flavors contain no more than 2 - 9 ingredients and are the perfect snack for little hands. Since we do go through them so quickly, I thought I'd try my hand at replicating them at home to ease the stress on the bank account. And, I am so glad I did! They are so easy to make.

I went ahead and tackled two flavors: Peanut Butter Cookie and Coconut Cream Pie. But, you can easily create any combo you like. You just need the two basic ingredients: whole, unsweetened dates and any type of nut. (I accidentally typed butt instead of nut at first. Don't worry. There are no butts in this recipe.) Throw them into your food processor and add whatever else you'd like: dried cranberries, banana, chocolate chips, ground flax seed, cinnamon, dried berries, coffee. Whatever floats your boat, yo.

Here's what I did for the Peanut Butter Cookie Larabars.

Start with:
1 1/2 cup whole dates
1 1/2 cup lightly salted peanuts

I got both things from Trader Joe's. I've tried rewriting this sentence multiple times and it still sounds uncomfortable, so I'll just give you what I've got: TJ's has the best nuts. They've got a huge variety, are inexpensive, and they have a lightly-salted version for all of them. I love it. So, get all your nuts there. You can always buy unsalted nuts and just add a pinch or two of salt yourself.

Throw your dates and your nuts into your food processor and let your kid push the button. Easy peasy.

Also, can I get a high five for the fact that food processors don't turn on with the top off? If not, I'd have such a mess on my hands thanks to my button-happy son.

To this batch, I also added 1/4 ground flax seed. It's all about those Omega-3s, baby!

Process the mixture for as long as you want. We grind it down pretty well. Callum is still weird with some textures, so the smoother it is for him, the better. Once it's ground to your desired consistency, use a cookie scoop to roll the mixture into balls. Store in the fridge. Enjoy. That's that.

Don't worry if your mixture is rather oily. That's just the peanuts being broken down. Everything will dry out a bit after being stored in the fridge.

The process was exactly the same for the Coconut Cream Pie balls. I just switched up the ingredients a bit. These ones are my fav! 

Here's what I threw into the food processor:
1 1/2 cups dates
3/4 cup lightly salted almonds
3/4 cup lightly salted cashews
1/4 cup coconut (You can use sweetened or unsweetened. Whatever your little heart desires.)
1/4 ground flax seed

Go give this super simple recipe a try. You will love them. Your partner will love them. Your kid will love them. Your second cousin, twice removed will them. Trust me.

Tell me: Which combo are most wanting to try?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Going behind the scenes at the Milwaukee County Zoo

We had an unbelievable weekend in the Olson house. It was seriously jam-packed and super exhausting, but really an amazing one. Friday night, we joined my mom for a fish fry at Hubbard Park Lodge. This was the perfect spot to take Callum. We sat right in front of the accordion player and the bubble machine. So, we got to enjoy an actual hot meal, and Callum was in bubble heaven. Plus, the park around the Lodge is just gorgeous, and provided some amazing photo ops.

Saturday was one of the coolest days ever! I won a behind-the-scenes tour of the Milwaukee County Zoo in an office raffle a few months ago, and we took the actual tour on Saturday. We had our own personal tour guide (and golf cart) and were able to see a whole new side of the zoo, including feeding the giraffes and the 100-year-old giant tortoise, and a look inside the building where they store and prepare all the food for the animals. Kids weren't allowed on the tour, so Callum stayed home with Oma.

Sunday, we drove up to Madison to watch a Radicals game. The Radicals are Madison's professional ultimate frisbee team. The game started right as nap time usually does. So, that was a bit of struggle. But, Callum was a champ for the most part and even took a short nap on our laps during the game. We finished Sunday off with a bit of sprinkler time and leftovers for dinner. It was the perfect low-key end to a busy weekend.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Toddler Activity: Dish Soap Foam

Last week, I was looking at a plan-free morning and needed an easy activity for Callum. So, I did what any other mom would do, and turned to Pinterest for some ideas. I came across this quick and easy recipe for a foam made from just three things: dish soap, water, and cornstarch.

First off, I should note, if your toddler is still putting everything in their mouth: This is NOT a good activity for you to try. This is definitely not something you want your kid eating a ton of. Although this will work with any old dish soap, I would also try to use a natural dish soap, such as Better Life Dish It Out or Planet Ultra, just to be on the safe side.

Alright, on to the foam. It could honestly not get any easier to make. In your stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), add 1 cup soap, 1 cup water, and a teaspoon of cornstarch. Then, all you have to do is turn your mixer on and let it whip the mixture away until the mix resembles a foam. Callum is all about helping in the kitchen and watching the mixer. So, since this is such a simple "recipe," it's such a good one for him to help out with.

Once the mixture was all foamy, I just took the bowl outside and let Callum go crazy. He loved it! He started just squishing it between his fingers. But, before I knew it, he was rubbing it all over his arms and legs. He also liked scooping out piles of it to create little mounds of it on the ground. He was enjoying the foam so much, we ended up mixing up a second bowl of it.

I had to join in on the fun, too. I must say, the foam really did feel amazing. Once all of it was spilled on the ground, we were walking around in it, too. It was a total spa treatment for my feet. ;)

For clean up, I would recommend getting your toddler into the bath tub when you're done. You don't need dish soap residue all over everything. Obviously kitchen clean up is super easy since you just need to rinse out the mixet. Soooooo much easier than cleaning paint off of everything or picking up hundreds of dry noodles.

Overall, I would call this toddler activity a huge success. We had everything we needed for it already around the house, it kept Callum entertained for quite some time, and clean up was a cinch. I'll for sure be filing this one away for another day when we're looking for something to do.

Tell me: What's your favorite activity for keeping your toddler entertained?