Play-Well LEGO Camp

A couple of weeks ago, Langston was given the opportunity to attend a Play-Well Lego Workshop near our house and I haven’t been able to get him to let go of his LEGO® collection ever since! This might surprise you, but for this 6 year old, that’s a big deal. 

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with LEGO® since they became part of our toy collection. I love them for the fact that they can occasionally keep my kids busy for long periods of time (if they are playing together) while I get stuff done around the house, but I hate them every time I find one under my foot, after wincing in pain. And, let’s not forget the constant organization battle I’m faced with. Ugh. Just thinking about that, alone, makes me a little crazy.

And this may come as a surprise, but Langston isn’t very good at playing with his LEGO® collection by himself. It’s almost like if he can’t build what he sees pictured on the box, then what he builds isn’t good enough, so he’d rather not try. But, thankfully, after five mornings at Play-Well TEKnologies LEGO® camp, his relationship with his collection is brand new and I love it!

Play-Well TEKnologies LEGO camp

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5 Reasons Kids Need Playgrounds

This post is brought to you by Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

I have been fortunate enough to be at home with my kids since my oldest was born, a little over six years ago. Even on the longest of days (and there have been LOTS of them) during these past six years, I know I am blessed to have the opportunity to spend their first years with them. However, as much as I enjoy being with them, I can’t tell you how many times they have been under my feet in the kitchen or while I’m working around the house and my usual response has been, “Would you all please go play!”

I say it without thinking and without realizing how important that play really IS for my little ones. They love to play with their toys, but they REALLY love getting sucked in to entertainment media, which include televisions, computers, my phone, or other electronic devices we have around the house. It’s a common problem all parents have these days. Rather than playing outside, kids are spending an average of seven hours per day in front of the screen and unfortunately, it only gets worse as they get older. More than 60% of children ages 9 to 13 do not participate in any organized physical activity during their non-school hours. 

We’re lucky enough to live in an area where playgrounds are a dime a dozen. In our neighborhood, alone, we have three of them.

kids need playgrounds

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Dr Pepper Snapple Group Let’s Play Initiative Brings Playground to Dallas

This post is brought to you by Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

In the life of a mom, it feels like the only things you really have time to focus on are your own kids and your family life, but service has always been an important part of my life and something I enjoy doing, especially when the subject of that service project is kids. 

You can’t imagine my excitement when I was asked to participate in one of Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s biggest initiatives, Let’s Play. This initiative is intended to provide kids and families with the tools, places and inspiration to make active play a daily priority. By partnering with KaBOOM! to build and improve playgrounds and Good Sports to provide grants for sporting equipment they are able to make play possible for more kids.

I didn’t even have to travel too far from my home to join this group of awesome bloggers, all headed to the south part of Dallas to make a dream a reality for a group of kids in need of more play opportunities at their school, La Academia de Estrellas!

dps blogger team

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Church Hill Classics Makes Thoughtful Gifting Easy

I vividly remember the call from my brother on the night of my 12th birthday. I was with my dad, at my grandparents’ house, in Bunkie, Louisiana. We had been on pins and needles all day waiting for updates as my sister-in-law was in labor, in Texas, with their first child; the child who would make me an aunt. He called and asked specifically to speak with me, just because he wanted me to know that not only was I an aunt, but that baby girl would always be my birthday buddy. How cool is that?!?

Although they live across the country from me in Oregon and our time spent together is few and far between, this Texas aunt couldn’t be more proud of the accomplishments that red headed newborn, who wasn’t big enough to take up my entire lap as a baby, has accomplished as she’s moved in to adulthood. 

Most recently, her biggest accomplishment was walking the stage at the University of Oregon to receive her undergraduate diploma. I wasn’t able to make it to her graduation, but thank goodness for Facebook, I got to follow along with all of the pictures and almost felt like I was there. 

university-oregon-diploma

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My Least Favorite Post Pregnancy Issue

I was pregnant during some part of every year between 2008 and 2012. I loved being pregnant, fortunately, and loved having babies, but in spite of reading every pregnancy article I could find, I was unprepared for what it would do to my body AFTER the babies were born. 

Actually, after they were born, I didn’t really have time to think about my own body since I was so worried about every milestone they needed to hit. In reality, I was more worried about every meal they needed to have. ;) Those little suckers are exhausting. But they are so worth it. 

However, when my trainer asks us to do plyometric workouts like this picture or sets of stairs now, I cringe a little because I know my legs can handle it but my bladder can’t. Ugh. 

Athletes Doing Box Jumps At Gym

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GoPro HERO+ LCD

It wasn’t that long ago we were giving our then tween a GoPro for Christmas and the excitement on his face was priceless! I loved watching him spend the entire day learning to use it. He really was so proud of his new gift and it just makes you feel good when you know you did well as the gifter. 

To this day, this picture still makes me smile. He wore that GoPro on his head the entire day and into the night when we made an ice cream run. Yes, it was Christmas time and we were eating ice cream. Seems dumb to me too, but from the looks on our faces, we thought it was a great idea. HAHA!
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Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

Now that summer is in full swing, we’re spending a lot of time by the pool which means I don’t have a ton of time to spend in the kitchen but we still have to eat and I still want to eat well.  That’s why I was so excited to try this Roasted Red Pepper Dressing and LOVED the way it tasted on top of my simple salad for lunch. This is definitely going to be my go to dressing for the summer and I loved how easy it was to make. 

Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

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5 Reasons to Fall in Love With Long Cove

My parents and I often sit back and talk about fun little trips we could take where we could share a house together and spend time vacationing as a big family. My kids love spending time with their grandparents and I definitely love the help I get when there are more adults around. We talk about spending time on the lake in the summer and dream about how fun that might be. Owning a second home on the lake could be a perfect family retreat we are ALWAYS in need of!

Did you know there is a place oh so very close to Dallas where that dream could become a reality? It’s called Long Cove

What is Long Cove?

long-cove-texas

 

Is that gorgeous, or what?!!

Located along six miles of continuous shoreline where Cedar Creek Lake is at its deepest with clear, beautiful water, Long Cove is a luxury family getaway for second home owners. 

Not too long ago, the kids and I took a little day trip out to Cedar Creek Lake to see what Long Cove was all about.

I love this video they created during the event to share the types of events they regularly have. There’s even a shot of a few of our kids at :20. See it here

To say I was blown away would be an understatement. It felt more like being at a resort in Mexico than it did being on a lake outside of Dallas in Texas. It’s just beautiful and so very clear that a lot of thought and planning went in to the creation of Long Cove. 

We had the opportunity to take in the sights, do some playing on our own, and tour the gorgeous homes available to potential buyers.

Long Cove

I can’t even tell you how much I loved taking those home tours because it felt like I was walking through a Pottery Barn catalog. :) Simply gorgeous. I loved the open floor plans and all of the natural light that filled the homes. They’ve really thought of everything. And when I say everything, let me tell you the five amenities I couldn’t wait to tell my husband about when we left. 

5 Reasons to Fall in Love With Long Cove

1. Concierge Service – I always hate how much preparation it takes to get out of town. From the shopping to the packing, it can really be so overwhelming. Long Cove totally gets that and that’s why they’ve set up a concierge service that will have your fridge packed and ready to go with whatever items you tell them you need before you get there. 

2. Toy Barn – The Toy Barn is more like Long Cove’s unique library where you can check out footballs, fishing poles, cruiser bikes and all the other gear you need to have fun on the field, down by the lake or on the dock of our pond. 

3. Boat Valet Program – Getting the boat ready to go out on the water takes time and effort but Long Cove is all about giving that time back to you to allow you to spend more time with your family. With the Boat Valet Program, all you have to do is give them a call when you’re on the way and your boat will be cleaned and waiting in the water with a full tank of gas, charged battery and a cooler of ice. How cool is that!?

4. Boat Club – This is for the people who like the idea of having a boat but don’t have any interest in all of the time and energy that goes in to actually owning one. In the Boat Club, you can own several. ;) As a resident of Long Cove, you can become a member of the Boat Club and enjoy shared access to a number of different boats and jetskis. Once a member, simply check out one of your boats online and get ready for a day on the lake. So cool!

5. The Lake Club – This is the community hub for all things fun and where you really get a feel for the community Long Cove embraces. This is where you can do anything from sliding down the windy slide into the pool to playing a game of pool in the game room to building sand castles on Long Cove’s personal beach. 

long cove pool lake view

Now that summer is in full swing, it’s the perfect time to take a tour at Long Cove and see what they have to offer your family. The memories made in the years to come would be priceless!

I left Long Cove dreaming about what it might be like to have our very own second home on the waters of Cedar Creek Lake and that vision is pretty sweet!

Want a little more information about Long Cove?

Susan G. Komen 3-Day: Do Something Huge

I still remember visiting my step-mom in the hospital as she was waking up from her double mastectomy surgery. It seemed so strange to me that she had just lost such a huge part of her body. In my mind, it seemed devastating to be rid of such a defining part of her womanhood, but to her, they were barriers to a healthy life. After two cancer fights, this was the best way for her to move on, cancer free. That’s courage.

Seeing what she went through was heartbreaking. Fortunately, she’s a happy and healthy grandmother of 13 who’s too busy with golf and pickleball to worry about cancer. She’s a survivor and she’s embracing that freedom!

There was so little I could do during that difficult time in her life. Now, as I inch closer and closer to my 35th birthday and my first mammogram, I would be lying if I told you I don’t have a little bit of concern. After all, one in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. It’s a scary statistic.

We need to end breast cancer forever and the only way to do that is to find a cure. This year, I want to Do Something Huge because one person really can make a difference. That’s why I’m walking in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® event this November.

Susan G. Komen 3 Day

 

 

3 Days. 60 Miles. To End Breast Cancer

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® is a 60-mile walk for women and men who want to be a part of something bigger — ending breast cancer forever. Participants raise a minimum of $2,300 and walk an average of 20 miles a day for three consecutive days, educating tens of thousands of people about breast health and raising funds to help support breast cancer research and community outreach programs. 

I’ll be following a 16 week training program starting toward the end of next month that will take me all the way up to the week of the event.

Susan G. Komen 3-Day

I already work out every single day and I feel like I’m in pretty good shape, but in all honesty, the thought of walking 20 miles in one day is a little intimidating, let alone three days in a row. During the training program, I’ll be working my way up to an 18 mile walk, which increasing miles every week. I’m motivated, yet nervous!

Why I Walk

Whether you’ve watched a loved one or not, every walker in the Susan G. Komen has something in common. They ALL want to find a cure.

It’s a helpless feeling when a loved one tells you they have breast cancer but you know there’s nothing you can really do to help the situation. It’s my goal to Do Something Huge by doing my part in making an impact in the fight against cancer and raising awareness.

Watching videos like this one only inspire me more!

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® is not a walk in the park. It’s walking 20 miles a day for three straight days. But many who walk the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® have already watched a loved one fight breast cancer. They’ve seen real hardship and they had to do something. They had to do something huge. If you do too, learn more at the3day.org.

One person can make a huge difference and I’m doing my part to Do Something Huge. It’s the greatest distance I can go in the fight against breast cancer.

For all the times you wished YOU could do something, DO SOMETHING!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, however all opinions are my own. 

Roasted Asparagus and Artichoke Spring Casserole

This year, I’ve been on the hunt for healthy recipes for myself and my family. I’ve spent a lot more time in the kitchen experimenting and I’ve actually fallen in love with the process and most of the results. This recipe was no exceptiona and I was so excited to see the smile on my husband’s face when he tried this Roasted Asparagus and Artichoke Spring Casserole for the first time. 

Roasted asparagus & artichoke

When it comes to cheeses, I’ve never been one to experiment with different flavors and now I realize how sad that is. There are so many great flavors and options out there, I can’t believe it took me this long to really fall in love with feta cheese. Thanks to Nikos®, though, it’s a done deal. I’m in love.

Feta has a soft, crumbly texture and a salty, tangy flavor. It is lower in calories than many other types of cheese and can be a healthy addition to any diet, when used in moderation.

When a recipe starts out full of vegetables like this one, I cant’ help but get excited. All of these colors really are beautiful! These are my asparagus, artichoke hearts, and red bell pepper ready to go in the oven to be roasted.

roasted asparagus & artichoke

 My favorite fact about Nikos® feta cheese is that it’s made with delicious milk from cows NOT treated with rBST, a synthetic growth hormone! 

Roasted Artichokes & Asparagus Spring Casserole

 

This recipe makes the perfect addition to your next dinner party. Spend a little time chopping and let the oven do the rest of the work for you. Your guests will thank you and it just may end up on your regular dinner rotation from now on. I know my family will definitely be requesting it again and I couldn’t be happier because it’s a great way to keep healthy foods on our table! 

Roasted Asparagus and Artichoke Spring Casserole
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Ingredients
  1. 16-24 spears of asparagus, bottoms trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  2. 12 canned artichoke hearts, quartered
  3. 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
  4. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  5. 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  6. Juice of 1 lemon
  7. 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  8. Salt and pepper to taste
  9. 1 1/2 c basmati rice
  10. 2 1/4 cups water
  11. 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  12. 8 ounces Nikos Feta Cheese, crumbled (about 2 cups)
  13. 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
  14. 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil shallow baking pan.
  2. 2. In a large bowl, combine the asparagus, artichokes, and bell pepper. Add the garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer in the pan. Set the bowl aside but do not wash.
  3. 3. Roast veggies for 20-25 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender, stirring once or twice for even cooking. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.
  4. 4. Meanwhile, in a medium-size saucepan, combine the rice and water. Bring to a boil, over, reduce the heat, and gently boil for about 12 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.
  5. 5. In the bowl you set aside, combine the cooked rice, roasted vegetables, tomatoes, half the cheese, the olives, and parsley. Mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Transfer to a 2 1/2-quart casserole dish or 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  6. 6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through.
Notes
  1. This can be made and kept in the refrigerator for up to four hours in advance of baking. Make sure to adjust the baking time if the casserole goes into the oven cold.
Roubinek Reality http://www.roubinek.net/
Nikos® Feta is also hosting a giveaway this June/July! One lucky contestant will win a seven-day, six-night trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, during the 2015 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival (August 29 – September 13, 2015).

Trip package includes:
i. Roundtrip airfare for Grand Prize Winner and Guest from the airport nearest the Grand Prize Winner’s residence to Honolulu, Hawaii
ii. Standard hotel accommodations for 6 nights/7 days (double room occupancy)
iii. $500 USD in spending money for the Grand Prize Winner (the “Trip Package”).

The Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) of the Grand Prize is $3,500.
To enter, visit www.NikosFeta.com or the “Hawaii Trip” tab on Facebook.com/NikosFeta (desktop only) between June 1 – July 31, 2015, and fill out the entry form. That’s it! Easy, peasy! Full contest information is available in the Official Rules accessible via either site starting June 1st.

Interested in more recipes like this one, using Nikos® feta cheeses? Check out their Pinterest page for more ideas!

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