the peanuts gang

Krafting Recipes for the Fourth of July

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FireUptheGrill #CollectiveBias

Every year when Fourth of July rolls around, Jim and I ponder what delicious grilled creations we can make. In the past we’ve done burgers, hot dogs, sausage, and pork and pair them with the perfect picnic foods. Whether you’re planning for a Fourth that includes an afternoon at home or headed to a friend’s house for a barbecue, finding the perfect summertime food to create can be a bit daunting!  To keep your sanity from going off like a firecracker, we’ve put together some surefire Fourth of July options to make your table sparkle!

At Home

This year, we decided to tackle something a bit more challenging, something that Jim has been itching to try forever – Slow Smoked Beef Brisket using Kraft’s Hickory Smoke barbecue sauce. Nothing says All-American than a big hunk of barbecued meat! Perfect for a Fourth of July spent at home enjoying the sunshine, inviting family over, and savoring a grilled feast, this delicious barbecued meat requires a grill with smoking capability, wood chips, charcoal, the perfect barbecue sauce and decent amount of time.

#FireUptheGrill with Kraft

When I gave my hubby the Brisket challenge, he knew what he was getting himself into. He fired up his most cherished Father’s Day possession (that epic looking grill in the background) and used Kraft’s slow-simmered barbecue sauces to create a meat slow smoked to perfection.

What you need: 

7-10 lb. Beef Brisket (You may have to ask the butcher to cut a slab for you. This particular cut is 7 pounds. Do NOT have them cut the fat for you – that is crucial to the process)

Salt & Pepper

Your favorite barbecue rub

Steps for Beef Brisket #FireUptheGrill #cbias #ad

Score the meat with a knife (which means to cut 1 inch gashes on the top) to ensure even cooking as well as to flavor and tenderize. Once you’ve scored the meat, rub with salt, pepper, and your barbecue rub, let it rest at room temperature while you prep your grill. Now from the Grillmaster, my hubby:

Prepare your grill or smoker for indirect heat – this bad boy is going to take MANY hours of slow cooking.  I use a charcoal grill with a smoker box attached.  Nothing but pure, unadulterated lump oak charcoal for me.  I used hickory wood chunks in the smoker box.  The key is to keep the temperature around 250 degrees Fahrenheit and to add wood to the fire every 30 minutes or so until the brisket slow cooks to 200 degrees at its thickest point.  For me this meant spend the day outside with the kiddos.  To keep the brisket juicy, I used the “Texas crutch” once the meat got to 170 degrees – a favorite technique of mine where you wrap the meat in aluminum foil and pour liquid inside to continue cooking but preserve moisture.  I put in about a quarter cup of hard apple cider.  This took about an hour to get the temperature up to 200 degrees.  For the finishing touches, the meat is basted in Kraft barbecue sauce until it caramelizes.  

Slow-Smoked Beef Brisket #FireUptheGrill #ad

Take it off the grill, trim the meat and enjoy the fruits (…or meats) of your labor.

Slow-Smoked Beef Brisket with Smoke Ring #FireUptheGrill #ad

Back to me, the grilling sidekick! Jim spent time trimming the meat (yes, the blackened parts will slowly be trimmed away, but that’s intentional, we promise!) You can see the beautiful smoke rings and the layers of flavor in this tender smoked meat. Once trimmed and sliced, slather in your preferred Kraft barbecue sauce and enjoy!

BonAppetit! #FireUptheGrill #cbias #ad

Serve your brisket with your favorite sides. In our case, we incorporated fresh produce and bakery from Walmart. Fresh corn on the cob is a must and once we removed the brisket, we tossed some fresh garlic sourdough bread on the grill to pair with our meal. The finished touch was a coleslaw made with Kraft mayo. You can purchase coleslaw bagged mix and then add in this simple coleslaw dressing: 3/4 c. Kraft mayo, 2 tbsp. sugar, 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, pinch of salt + pepper, 1 tsp. of celery salt. Whisk together and pour over coleslaw mix. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Voila! The perfect barbecue platter has been created and your at-home Fourth will be sure to set off some fireworks!

On the Go

If you’ll be spending the Fourth at someone else’s home, you can put together something that uses fresh ingredients from Walmart and quality Kraft products to add the perfect zest to the day without all the work. Using some leftover corn on the cob, we created this Pasta Picnic Salad – perfect for bringing to your next Fourth of July gathering.

What you need: 

1 c. of chopped raw broccoli

1 box of cooked pasta (we used tricolor rotini)

1/2 cup roasted corn

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1/2 cup red pepper, diced

8 oz. package of your favorite Kraft natural cheese (colby jack for us)

1/3 bottle of Kraft Dressing (many options available, we prefer zesty Italian)

Italian Pasta Salad #FireUptheGrill #cbias #ad

Cook your pasta and toss with chopped vegetables and cheese. Pour over dressing and mix well to combine. Bring dressing with you to the barbecue in case the dish needs a bit more moisture.

Picnic Pasta Salad Ingredients #FireUptheGrill #cbias #ad

Bon Appetit! The perfect July Fourth potluck addition!

Picnic Pasta Salad #FireUptheGrill #cbias #ad

For the Fireworks

Whether you’re enjoying them in your own backyard or with a crowd, no Fourth of July would be complete without the perfect S’mores made with graham crackers, chocolate bars, and Jet-Puffed Marshmallows.

Bonfire with S'mores #FireUptheGrill #ad

We fired up our Chiminea and had the boys gather sticks from the yard. Whether you’re a fan of charring your ‘mallow or making sure it’s toasted to a golden brown, there’s a S’more for everyone. Jack enjoys his with some extra marshmallows. Nothing says summertime like the tastes of this sandwich of sweetness. You can also put together these Patriotic Marshmallow Pops for your July Fourth celebration. Perfect bite-sized red, white, and blue sweet eats!

Marshmallow Pop Ingredients #FireUptheGrill #ad

Simply stick marshmallows on decorative sticks, cover in melted white chocolate and sprinkle patriotic sprinkles!

Patriotic Marshmallow Pops #FireUptheGrill #ad

Marshmallow Pops #FireUptheGrill #ad

Ready to start shopping for your Fourth of July preparation? Walmart has everything you need to make this holiday a spectacular one.

#FireUptheGrill In-Store Photographs

You can also find some great produce at Walmart to complement any summer recipe.

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For even more great hand-Krafted ideas, check out this digital cookbook. You can also see more from Kraft on Facebook + Twitter.

What are your favorite recipes to celebrate the Fourth of July? 

Samantha

#Ad Throw a FANTASTIC Movie Premiere Party with Tyson Any’Tizers

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TysonAndAMovie #CollectiveBias

With two little misters, we are all about superheroes, heroic adventures, and the draw of special effects. Each day, we tackle life a bit like the Fantastic Four – trying to live life to the fullest extent of adventure! Whether the boys are leaping from couch to couch like buildings in a skyline or flying through the backyard with imaginary capes and partners, the draw to heroism is a major part of our lives. So with the new FANTASTIC FOUR movie scheduled to hit theaters later this summer, we thought now would be the perfect time to start planning a FANTASTIC movie premiere party with Tyson Any’Tizers®.

#ad Fantastic Four Movie Premiere Party #TysonandaMovie

Creating the perfect FANTASTIC FOUR party starts with getting to know the characters a bit more and finding the perfect snack starters like Tyson Any’Tizers (extra bonus: they are protein-packed and made with all-white meat). These quick and easy snacks are both satisfying and time-friendly, so you can spend more time with your family and not in preparation!

#ad Each of the Fantastic Four characters #TysonandaMovie

Human Torch pairs perfectly with Buffalo Boneless Wyngz. A fireball shooting thrill-seeker with a spice and zest for life. His space on the table corresponds with yellow reminiscent of fire.

Partner The Thing with Honey BBQ Boneless Wyngz. Don’t be fooled by his tough exterior – he’s sweet and tender on the inside. His bright orange skin makes for an excellent addition to your snack table.

Mr. Fantastic loves to try new things and stretch himself in new ways. The perfect companion to long and thing Chicken Fries. Green – the quest to try new things and the fantastic wisdom {and money} that follows.

Now you see her, now you don’t. Popcorn Chicken pairs well with the Invisible Woman because before you know it, they’re both gone! Also known as Susan Storm, blue proved to be just right to make waves.

#ad Tyson Any'Tizers for any occasion #TysonandaMovie

#ad Tyson Any'Tizers Selections #TysonandaMovie

Once we paired the chicken with their rightful FANTASTIC FOUR member, we set to work on creating the rest of our space. Food preparation was in full swing and recipes can be found in our FANTASTIC printable below. Any’Tizers are best prepared using the oven at approximately 400 degrees. Microwaving is also an option.

Food Preparation #Ad #TysonandaMovie

Each section also coordinated with a specialty recipe designed with the character in mind. We loved creating these unique dishes to complement our Tyson Any’Tizers and the labels are also available via this printable.

#Ad Fantastic Four Themed Recipes #TysonandaMovie

This colorful display will definitely have you feeling like a hero!

#ad Fantastic Tablescape #TysonandaMovie

Recipes for the complementary eats

#Ad Fantastic Four Movie Recipe Ideas #TysonandaMovie

Snag the printable —> here.

Building Your Decor

A superhero premiere party wouldn’t be complete without a skyline background. I used one large piece of black poster board and cut it in various building shapes in the middle. Each half was then put side by side and taped together. I used white chalk to create windows.

#Ad Superhero Skyline #TysonandaMovie

Next, I created FANTASTIC FOUR patches similar to those found on the characters’ jumpsuits. I freehand drew and cut the shapes from felt. You will need one sheet of blue, grey, and black. Once cut, I then stacked them to create the final patch look. You can adhere with velcro or have guests use as a punch coaster. Simple to make and the perfect memento if you invite other friends over to enjoy.

#ad Fantastic Four logo #TysonandaMovie

#ad Fantastic Four Logo Patches #TysonandaMovie

For each space, I also created mini activities to represent the qualities of each character. The idea behind these is to keep them simple and engaging so when the guests aren’t snacking, they can be crafting.

Human Torch – Create a literal torch using shaped tinfoil, cut pieces of tablecloth and pieces of tulle. Allow guests to create their own fire – voila! Their very own torch. 

#Ad Human Torch - Create Your Own Torch #TysonandaMovie

The Thing – Have guests go on a Rock hunt and find the perfect representation for The Thing. Once they do, provide paints and paintbrushes to create “rock-solid” art. 

#Ad The Thing - Paint Your Own Rock #TysonandaMovie

Mr. Fantastic is a fan of science experiments, so create this homemade green gak – a science experiment AND a stretchy component like the man himself. You will need a full 8 oz. bottle of Elmer’s glue and 1 tablespoon of Borax (laundry aisle) mixed with warm water. Pour glue into a bowl. Combine Borax with warm water. Combine all three ingredients together to create this sticky, stretchy goop. Add your favorite food coloring for a special effect. Store in a plastic baggie.

#ad Mr. Fantastic - Stretchable Homemade Gak #TysonandaMovie

Don’t forget about the Invisible Woman! Give each guest their very own force field with a bottle of bubbles and this printable

#ad Invisible Woman - Invisible Force Fields #TysonandaMovie

Once you’ve assembled everything you need, you can put the finishing touches on your FANTASTIC FOUR Snack Bar.

#ad Fantastic Four Character Snack Table #TysonandaMovie

You’ve got the snacking down pat, now make sure you’re ready for the new FANTASTIC FOUR movie by snagging a ticket when you purchase your Tyson snacks! When you buy any 2 specially marked Tyson® Any’Tizers® products at Walmart between 6/15/15 and 8/15/15, you get a ticket to see the new movie! Here’s what you need to do to get your ticket – Buy, Snap, Get.

Step 1: Buy – Buy 2 participating Tyson® Any’Tizers® products at Walmart between 6/15/15 and 8/15/15.

You can find these specially marked products in the frozen food aisle at your local Walmart.

#Ad Tyson In-Stores

Step 2: Snap – Snap a picture of your receipt and text or email it to tyson@drvsusa.comby 11:59pm PST on 8/15/15.

Step 3: Get – Receive a code redeemable for a movie ticket to see FANTASTIC FOUR while in theaters. Code must be redeemed by 9/30/2015 on tysonmovieoffer.com.

For even more details, head to this website. You can also get more information about Tyson Any’Tizers on Facebook + Twitter.

How are you getting ready to take your summer to the next heroic adventure? 

Samantha

Create a Summer Bucket of Joy!

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CokeHappyHour #CollectiveBias

The beautiful sunshine of summer is sparkling and the days are filled with plans, park playdates, and enjoying the great outdoors. If you could capture the essence of summertime, I’m convinced it would include sandy beaches, clear water, and a fancy umbrellaed drink. Unfortunately, this scene may not always be a reality, but thanks to Coke, you can spread a little joy during Happy Hour each day!

In an attempt to bottle up summertime fun, I put together a Bucket of Summertime Joy, starting with a bottle of Coke. I headed to Walgreens and noticed that there were several areas to find the name you’re looking for. You can find a front display near the registers or you can look in the coolers. I suggest looking in both to find the name you’re looking for.

#CokeHappyHour In-Store Display

I’m a huge fan of Coke marriages and once I found my brother & sister-in-law, I put the bottles together, so they wouldn’t be lonely. I have yet to find my name, but I probably need to look harder.

Find Your Name #CokeHappyHour #ad

Every Wednesday through Friday from 4:00 to 7:00pm, Buy 1 Coca-Cola 20 oz. bottle and Get 1 Free 20 oz. bottle to share which makes #ShareaCoke marriages all the more simple to pull off. You can load the coupon instantly on the Walgreens app or click here for more informationMay through July you get 3,000 Balance Rewards points when you buy participating Coca-Cola products when you purchase $10 of participating Coca-Cola products. 

I searched a bit more and once again stumbled upon another of my favorite couples, Sarah Cupcakes + Rhyno. It was a Coke match made in heaven.

Sarah + Ryan #CokeHappyHour #ad

After finding the perfect bottles, I headed to the seasonal aisle and snagged all the essentials for putting together the perfect summer day – Life’s a Beach with this Summer Bucket of Joy!

Share a Coke with Joy #CokeHappyHour #ad

I managed to find this special bottle. Even though I don’t personally know anyone named Joy, this bottle works perfectly for my purposes — Share a Coke WITH JOY! Pass along the goodness with a dose of happiness + smile on your face.

Summer Bucket of Joy #CokeHappyHour #ad

Whether you’re passing this bucket along to a stranger or giving to a friend, select items that best reflect the perfect summer day to you! As I said earlier, my ideal day includes a trip to the beach, so this bucket is a reflection of that!

Life's a Beach #CokeHappyHour Essentials #ad

1. Sand Pail + Shovel: Perfect for building sandcastles and scooping water

2. Beach Towel

3. Aloe Vera: For combatting sunburn and soothing skin redness

4. Lip Balm

5. A mini-kite (love this for fun!)

6. Bubbles

7. Share a Coke bottle

8. Sunscreen

You might also consider including a Summer Sandbucket List for your recipient (or yourself!) to check off all the summertime activities to enjoy. {Printable here!}

Summer Sandbucket List #CokeHappyHour

If you find a name you love, consider replacing it in your Joy bucket so that you can personalize it for someone in your life who could use a little summer love. I can’t wait to share this Summer Bucket of Joy with my friend, Laura. I’ll be sharing a Coke with Joy to someone who could use a pick-me-up in the coming weeks, so I’m saving that one.

Share a Coke with Laura #CokeHappyHour #ad

Who would you Share a Coke with in your Summer Bucket of Joy?

Samantha

“Exploding” M&M’s® Fireworks Cake

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareFunshine #CollectiveBias

Happy July! One of my favorite months of the summer filled with backyard eats and delicious sweets. The month that was made for fireworks, lightning bugs, and sunshine is upon us and we have prepared in the most delicious way! We love marching along with parades, catching candy tossed our way, and selecting the perfect spot on the grass to catch the fireworks show. With the Fourth of July this upcoming weekend, you can spread a little Funshine by creating something extra special for the holiday -an “Exploding” M&M’s® Fireworks  Cake.

Exploding Fireworks Cake with M&M's #ShareFunshine #ad

Before we get down to baking business, spread a little Funshine yourself by entering to win a $100 Walmart e-gift card through the sweepstakes below.

Share a Little Funshine Sweepstakes

Ready to build a sweet fireworks show of your own? {full recipe below} Start with quality ingredients, including M&M’s® Plain variety.

UpClose Ingredients #ShareFunshine #ad

Check out those heart-shaped measuring spoons that we got for our wedding eleven years ago. I die from the cute.

Exploding Cake Ingredients #ShareFunshine #ad

Now the real fun begins! Mix up the ingredients as indicated in the recipe and bake your cakes. This recipe is designed to make individual cake layer in a 9-inch pan which I LOVE because you can make as many as you need. For this, I used three layers, so I repeated that recipe three times.

Specialty Cake Steps #ShareFunshine #cbias #ad

1. This is the first layer after removing from the pan. The picture is included because THIS NEVER HAPPENS TO ME. A portion of the cake inevitably gets torn apart. My secret? Smear pan with coconut oil in every nook + cranny, then lightly coat in flour.

2. Separate the M&M’s® by color. This is a painstaking process, but a must. Also, as the candy separator, you get the ones that fall into your mouth.

3. Once the layers are baked, prior to frosting, remove a small cup circumference hole from the two bottom layers. I froze those sections to use at a later time to make a mini-cake. Double batch of this recipe: Frosting is 3-4 cups of powdered sugar, 1/4 cup of butter melted, 3 tbsp. milk, 1 dash of vanilla. Begin frosting bottom layer, add M&M’s® to the middle, add second layer, frost, add M&M’s®.

4. Once finished, you will have three layers, two frosted middles and two secret M&M’s® compartments that stack on top of one another.

Frost This Up #ShareFunshine #ad

Time to frost the top and the outside! Smooth or wavy, design of the frosting is your preference. Next, snag your other sweet treats and prepare to add to your sweets tablescape.

#ShareFunshine Deliciousness #ad

We added M&M’s® Peanut candy, SNICKERS® Ice Cream Bars, and M&M’s® Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches so guests would have a super sweet selection.

Sweet Stuff for #ShareFunshine #ad

Add in your “Exploding” M&M’s® Fireworks  Cake for that extra special sweet touch.

Exploding Fireworks Cake #ShareFunshine #ad

Voila! A tasty explosion – perfect for the July Fourth holiday.

Delicious Insides #ShareFunshine #ad

"Exploding" M&M's® Fireworks Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Enjoy this delicious "Exploding" M&M's® Fireworks Cake and kick-off your summer with a bang!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 & ½ cups flour
  • 1 & ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ cup milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease with coconut oil and flour a 9 inch pan.
  2. Cream together sugar and butter, beating eggs and vanilla in one at a time.
  3. Combine flour & baking powder. Combine with the sugar/egg mixture.
  4. Stir in milk until smooth.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

We couldn’t leave our furry friends out of the treat mix, so we put together a mini puppy care package for our two favorite doggies who moved away earlier this year and sent it on its way to West Virginia. Special toys and Pedigree Dentastix® is the perfect snail mail treat for them!

Treats for Your Favorite Pup #ShareFunshine #ad

Head to Walmart to get the party started! Find everything you need to make this Fourth your best yet.

#ShareFunshine In-Store Pics #ad

Download the Blippar app from your Apple or Android store to scan your package and receive exclusive content.

How do you make sure your Summer is as sweet as it can be? 

Samantha

“Eye” Spy Cereal Minions!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #The7thMinion #CollectiveBias

One of my favorite memories as a child is selecting the perfect breakfast cereal to enjoy before heading off to school. Even better than the cereal itself was the promise of a secret surprise inside – never being truly sure of what you were going to get. Now that I have boys of my own, they are just as excited to discover what little treasures their favorite cereal may hold and the anticipation is palpable.

With this in mind, it came as no surprise that their excitement reached a full peak when they discovered that Walmart exclusively had the coveted 7th Minion hidden somewhere in Family Size General Mills boxes. To celebrate the unveiling, I put together a little “Eye” Spy Cereal morning for them complete with their favorite goggle-eyed yellow creatures.

Eye Spy Minions Cereal Bar #The7thMinion #ad

First, we snagged our favorite cereals found in the cereal aisle of our local Walmart and while they had a tough time agreeing, I think their choices were perfect (and I was secretly thankful for the addition of General Mills Reese’s Puffs since those are my thing!)  The Cocoa Puffs almost made it home with us, but alas, were beaten out by Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

In-Store Photo Shoot #The7thMinion #ad

After bringing our cereal home, I set to work creating our specialty marshmallowed Reese’s Puffs Minions! You need 6 cups of your favorite cereal, 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 bag of marshmallows.

Minion Marshmallow Ingredients #The7thMinion #ad

After mixing together, I rubbed my hands with a bit of butter (to prevent stickiness) and then set to work creating my oval minion shapes. No need to worry about being perfect! Your family will still love them, I promise! Once you finish creating your shapes, let them cool completely. I sped the process up by refrigerating them.

March of the Minions #The7thMinion #ad

The last step is to spread yellow melting chocolate over the tops to create the signature yellow Minion look. I adhered candy eyes and used milk chocolate to finish off the goggles and mouths. Voila! A treat fit for your little minions.

Next, I worked on creating the minion plates and these were extremely simple to make!

Minion Face Plates #The7thMinion #ad

I picked up yellow plates, black plates if I needed to coordinate, but used the white backs instead, and silver wrapping paper. Next, I used a cup to trace and cut out circles for the goggles (silver paper) and eyes (backs of black plates) and adhered them to the yellow plates. Once dry, I used a brown sharpie to finish off the eyes and a black sharpie to drawn on the goggle straps. The perfect one-eyed minion plates for your adventure!

Who doesn’t love Lucky Charms? We found a special Minion friend in there, so I had to be sure to add him to our tablescape. The traditional overalls quickly gave him away and he had a hard time blending in.

Eye Spy Minions #The7thMinion #cbias #ad

I also put together a Cinnamon Toast Crunch Minion Mix with cereal, minion candies and chocolate chips. We didn’t manage to find the Prehistoric Minion, but we’ll be back to Walmart to find him!

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Mix #The7thMinion #cbias #ad

Add in some Minion goggles for your own littles and you’re all set! The boys loved using them to play a little “Eye” Spy Minions Game around our backyard!

Minion Tablescape #The7thMinion #cbias #ad

Ready for the Minion Hunt!

Ready for the Minion Hunt #The7thMinion #cbias #ad

Use our list {printable here} or create your own to have a party that’s One in a Minion!

Eye Spy Minions Game Printable #The7thMinion #ad

We promise this party won’t have you looking for bananas!

Hello from the Minions #The7thMinion #ad

What’s your favorite way to enjoy cereal throughout the day? Do you have a special way to commemorate finding a new toy inside the box?

Samantha

You Can Make a Difference: #HungerFreeSummer

I’m partnering with ConAgra Foods and Kid President to share with you about #HungerFreeSummer. All opinions expressed are my own.

With Charlie entering first grade in the fall, his time away from me will grow. He will join other kids as they venture into our schools and spend their lunch hour with friends and hopefully finding something to sustain their hunger. Throughout the school year, over 22 million kids receive free or reduced priced meals. When the summertime comes, more than 80% of those kids are at risk for hunger because school meals are not available.  More than 1 in 5 children to do not know where their next meal is coming from. These statistics are sad, but true.

What’s the Solution?

Anyone can help make this a hunger free summer! 23 food banks across 15 states will receive #HungerFreeSummer grants funded by the ConAgra Foods Foundation. These grants range from $20,000 to $40,000 and provide healthy meals for kids throughout the summer months.  For the second year in a row, ConAgra Foods has partnered with Kid President to help raise awareness of this major issue in the United States.

Hunger-Free-Summer_thumb

How Can You Help? 

On June 10th, Kid President had a Tell-A-Thon where he kicked-off #HungerFreeSummer in partnership with ConAgra Foods. You can help by continuing to share awareness about hunger in the summer months by sharing your own video message or social media post with friends and family to help spread the word.

You can support the cause by finding ConAgra Foods’ products specially marked with a red pushpin with an eight-digit code. For each code entered at Child Hunger Ends Here, ConAgra Foods will donate the monetary equivalent of one meal to  Feeding America®.  Do your part to help stop summer hunger. Because every child deserves a Hunger Free Summer.

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You can follow ConAgra Foods + Feeding America for even more great information about how you can help:

ConAgra Foods: Twitter || Instagram || Facebook

Feeding America: Twitter || Instagram

How will you help make this a #HungerFreeSummer? 

Samantha

Rose-Colored, Heart-Shaped Glasses, Vol. 5 #LeggingsWearDontCare

Volume 1 || Volume 2 || Volume 3 || Volume 4

Happy Monday all! You know what that means – it’s LEGGINGS DAY! I missed you last week, but was so happy that my friend, Erin, was able to share her own take on #LeggingsWearDontCare. This challenge has evolved into finding a style that works for me, you finding a style that works for YOU and both finding a way to love and appreciate one another! This week’s feature is all  about looking at yourself through rose-colored glasses – think you can see yourself the way others do? Here’s what made me feel sassy this week:

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NEW Leggings: Lularoe || Dress: Lularoe || Necklace: Etsy somewhere

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Leggings: Lularoe || Shirt: Church Missions Trip || Necklace: Origami Owl

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Leggings: Athleta || Shoes: Payless || Socks: Amazon || Shirt: Walmart (needed to be the last color in the rainbow)

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Skirt: Target || Shirt: Old Navy || Sunglasses: Five Below

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Princess Leia buns on a hot day and I’m all set. That’s how I’m fashionista-ing this week.

Featured Leggings Wearer of the Week:

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Meet Tanya! I fell in love with her and her leggings. I told her about this challenge and she was SO happy! Just a great energy. A personality almost as vibrant as her leggings 😉

How are you seeing the world through rose-colored glasses this week?

Samantha

Go Ahead Girl, Treat Yourself

You know the pre-departure safety briefing the flight attendants recite before takeoff? It goes something like, “And if you’re travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.” Taking care of yourself in order to better care for others is a solid plan, whether it’s on a plane or in everyday life. Whether you’re a mother, wife, daughter, boss or all of the above, take the time to treat yourself throughout the year. Give yourself the opportunity to be recharged, renewed and ready to take care of those in your life who matter the most.

Chocolate Is a Girl’s Best Friend

Leave it to chocolate to make even the worst day turn into rainbows and butterflies. It’s a great afternoon pick-me-up, and you can even share this treat if you’d like (or not). Looking for a new twist on an old friend? Indulge in gourmet delights like chocolate-covered strawberries from FTD.

Sweat It Out

Find your zen in a hot yoga class or go for a jog through a local trail. Get up, get active and release some of those good-for-you endorphins. If it’s difficult finding time out of your day to head to the gym, exercise in your living room, backyard or during your kids’ soccer practice.

Sleep In

The evening before your morning to sleep in, write a little note telling your kids to eat cereal, watch cartoons and only knock on your door if there is an emergency. Then give yourself a morning without an alarm clock jolting you awake. If this is impossible, take a short cat nap during the day and do not feel guilty about it.

Meditate and Reflect

Start meditating — finding a moment to sit in complete silence and focus on your breath is priceless. It clears your mind, relieves stress and is extremely comforting. If meditation is not your style, just find a peaceful moment to reflect on yourself. Before checking in with other’s needs, reflect inward to what your body, soul and mind crave.

Laugh

Laughing is good for the soul. Catch a comedy show or just call your best friend and exchange your most recent “kids say the darnest thing” moments. This is a treat you can overindulge in all you want.

Wine and Dine

Buy yourself a bottle of wine and some expensive, fancy cheese while enjoying an evening of relaxation. You can draw a bath or catch up on your favorite TV shows while enjoying a glass of vino. It’s a great opportunity to try that new recipe you’ve been drooling over or skip the kitchen all together and order your favorite takeout instead.

Go on a Staycation

Although a vacation to an exotic new land is a treat unlike no other, leaving your family, job and other responsibilities behind can be unrealistic. But this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the vacation vibe locally. Book a night at the local resort and enjoy lounging around the pool or a fancy dinner, just like a tourist would.

Playtime

As we care for our families, very often our hobbies get put on the back burner. Treat yourself to a couple of hours doing what you love most. Dust off your scrapbooks that are half-finished, take your standup paddle board out for a ride or get back into your adults softball league. Just like your kids who get playtime, it’s important for adults to get theirs, too.

 

 

Samantha

Chicago as a Family Weekend Getaway: “Fab” Fridays for #SoFabUOTR

This post is a part of a paid ambassador program with Collective Bias, Inc. All opinions are mine alone. #SoFabUOTR #CollectiveBias

Chicago Ambassador || Recaps || Chicago City Life  || Keynote Speaker || Chicago Trolley

After talking with Samantha of Nifty Mom, I decided to put together a post of fun ideas to investigate if you are coming to SoFabU on the Road Chicago in just a few weeks!

Museum of Science and Industry

Enjoy this Museum south on Lake Shore Drive with multiple levels for families and kids of all ages. Whether you’re bringing little ones or teenagers, this is sure to be a great destination to spend most of your day, especially if they select the day that you will be at the conference. Explore our world in a whole new way and be sure to make a special stop at the new Robotics exhibit. Even better, register for their Summer Brain Games and receive a FREE Museum entry!

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Taste of Chicago

Explore the sights, sounds and eats at the Taste of Chicago located near Columbus Drive and Grant Park. You will love the food, the scenery and vendors – bring the whole family and I strongly encourage you to try one of everything!

Navy Pier

This historic land meets water space has plenty of room to run around, the feel of a mall, specialty restaurants, a place to see the boats and a beautiful view of the skyline. While there, stop at the Chicago Children’s Museum and grab some Garrett’s popcorn to go. Make sure to take one more ride around the Ferris Wheel that will soon be upgraded to a more updated edition. When you get to the top, think of me because that’s where I became engaged!

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Millennium Park

Whether you’re stopping at the magic bean or just hoping for some fun open spaces, head to Millennium Park to see Chicago in all its glory. Located in a hub off Michigan Avenue, you will love this beautiful green space that offers a ton of free sight-seeing! Make sure to stop by the Art Institute of Chicago for a picture by the infamous lions.

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Shopping on Michigan Avenue

Have someone who loves shopping? Know someone who loves to explore the shopping scene in a new city? Check out Michigan Avenue for everything you could imagine! Water Tower Place is an epic multistory upscale mall with everything you could think you would ever need or want. The food court has variety and delicious eats second to none and it’s in a bustling part of the city located right new the John Hancock Building. When you’re finished head up the street to a local sweet shop and enjoy dessert in the middle of the city!

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Don’t forget to snag your SoFabU on the Road Chicago tickets! Save and share tickets are still available through June 28th! You might even want to party with us on June 30th from 1-2 pm EST at the #SoFabUOTR Chicago Twitter Party for a chance to win FREE passes and more!

Will you be bringing your family with to the Windy City? 

Samantha

Rainbow Bins for Your Car Inspired by Disney Pixar’s Inside Out

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #InsideOutEmotions #CollectiveBias

Two months ago, Charlie and Jack spotted Fear from Disney Pixar’s Inside Out on an advertisement outside. Every single time we passed it, they would remind me that the movie was coming out and exactly what day it would arrive in theaters. To say they were excited to learn more about their feelings would be an understatement.

Meet the characters of Inside Out: Joy, Fear, Anger, Sadness and Disgust – the emotions that live in each of our minds

Meet the Cast of #InsideOut #InsideOutEmotions #ad

We managed to convince daddy to head to the movies on Father’s Day. So we brought along our new plush friends from Walmart and made sure to take a picture in front of the huge poster there before the show (don’t mind the quality – phone style).

#InsideOutEmotions at the Movies #InsideOutEmotions #cbias #ad

The  movie was as amazing as expected and I mostly identified with Disgust (oh hey, Mindy Kaling). The boys selected their favorites and we are still waiting for daddy’s hair to burst into flames. We talked with the boys after the movie about what emotions feel like and different circumstances in life that might cause different emotions. With boys, they usually express themselves in a physical way, so we talked about the importance of using our words to express how we are feeling.

Since seeing the movie, the boys bring their characters EVERYWHERE so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to give them a special space in our car. We created rainbow bins that fit perfectly between the car seats, are stackable, and provide additional storage for books, snacks, and our favorite #InsideOutEmotions.

See how closely they snuggle? That must be how it is in my mind…overcrowded!

Snuggle Buddies #InsideOutEmotions #cbias #ad

I grabbed some beautiful colorful tulle pieces from Walmart in colors to match the characters. About 1 yard of each will do. I also picked up two stackable bins from the kitchen and organization section – approximately $3 each.

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Next, I grabbed a helper and set to work.

Step by Step Tutorial to create Car #InsideOutEmotions Holder #ad

1. Fold your tulle in half a few times and then cut a strip that’s about one inch wide. I fold the tulle so that the strip is relatively uniform and I don’t feel like I’m chasing it with my scissors.

2. Begin with the bottom row and weave the pieces in and out – making a basket weaving effect. Charlie had a great time doing this part. We practiced the colors of the rainbow (ROYGBIV) and he worked on hand-eye coordination as well as fine motor skills. It also kept him busy – mama approved!

Close-Up of Weaving #InsideOutEmotions #cbias #ad

3. Be sure that your colors match up and weave in the same direction. Step 3 shows you what two rows completed look like.

4. The inside will have corners that seem longer. On the other side of the bin, the fabric will be on the outside and create a nice finished look.

5. Finish the tulle stripe by tying in a bow. Finish each row in the same way.

6. When finished, snip the folded end of each bow creating a fluffier effect. This was my favorite part.

Ribbon Cutting #InsideOutEmotions #cbias #ad

Ta-da! Your rainbow bins are complete and ready for some Inside Out snuggles. These bins are great because they work well in the car, in the trunk, and make a great addition to your toy shelf.

Rainbow Bins for Your Car #InsideOutEmotions #cbias #ad

Hey Anger! Check out the beautiful rainbow underneath and the puffs on the front. The bins are a perfect addition to the backseat.

Hi Anger! #InsideOutEmotions #cbias #ad

Even better, the bins double as a character bed and Disgust seems like she could use a nap.

Disgust Feels Boxed In #InsideOutEmotions #ad

With stacks of bins, you can add in whatever you need for short or long road trips. Books, coloring pages, art supplies and they will easily fit in the bottom and be more accessible in the top bin. If you need more space on the seat, bins will fit nicely below their feet.

You can also print our How Do You Feel flashcards to help them express their feelings while you’re driving. Sometimes, it’s easier for kids to show how they are feeling rather than trying to find the right words. They can either grab their flashcards or a character and you know right away how they are feeling in that moment.

Car Transport of Inside Out #InsideOutEmotions #cbias #ad

These flashcards are simple to put together and make a great addition both in the car and in your home. By laminating them, you can use a dry erase marker and use them over and over again. I created a set for each boy and make sure to bring them along when they might be struggling to express themselves. A picture says a thousand words.

You need our printables: cover page + characters: {Fear | Disgust | Joy | Sadness | Anger} (print and laminate), a hole punch, and binder rings that can be found in the craft section.

Inside Out Flashcards #InsideOutEmotions #cbias #ad

The flashcards can be used over and over again to express feelings and emotions.

Inside Out Emotions Flashcards #InsideOutEmotions #cbias #ad

I even took the opportunity to express myself a little bit over the mess the boys had created!

Mommy Feels… #InsideOutEmotions #cbias #ad

Ready to snag your own Inside Out toys? Head to Walmart in the toy aisle and look for the end caps with Inside Out goodies. Plan to buy one of each because they are just too cute to try to decide between.

Inside Out In-Store #InsideOutEmotions #cbias #ad

We’re already counting down until the DVD release. Until then, we plan to snuggle up with our #InsideOutEmotions and travel with them in style.

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How will you help your kids show their emotions Inside Out? 

Samantha