Easy weekday dinners for busy moms

This post is sponsored by McCormick® but, as always, the thoughts and opinions are my own.


This last week has been totally crazy! I decided to sign the boys up for VBS at church and also signed myself up to volunteer as a helper parent. I thought it would be great for meeting other moms.


I know, right?! VBS was all morning, I had to run my regular errands, login into work, attend a few photoshoots, and after all that, still complete the household chores! I found myself stressing out about dinner.

By the time I was done, I barely had time to make a good meal for the family. I started to think of possible solutions and I found an awesome one! I’m talking about the new McCormick® ONE Dish Seasoning Mixes now available to add to your shopping cart at Walmart.com.

The idea of having one small packet full of amazing flavor that also provides specific instructions – this sounded heavenly!

I picked up a few varieties, choosing McCormick® Farmer’s Market Chicken & Vegetables One Sheet Pan Seasoning Mix as my first try.

Even with all the craziness of the week, we still managed to make it to the market, so I already had our favorite vegetables on hand. I love that I was done prepping dinner in less than 10 minutes. That was it! All in one pan – a wholesome meal for all of us!

Let me share the details!

Weekday dinner: McCormick® Farmer’s Market Chicken & Vegetables

I started with a collection of our favorite seasonal veggies, cut up into small pieces, enough chicken for all of us, and the wonderful McCormick® Farmer’s Market Chicken & Vegetables One Sheet Pan Seasoning Mix.

Making the dinner is the easiest! We had 3 steps to follow. That’s it!

First, I mixed the seasoning with oil in a big bowl, and preheated the oven to 400°F.

Second, I added the veggies and chicken to the bowl with the seasoning and tossed it until it was well coated. Once everything is coated, I transferred to a shallow baking dish lined with foil (and sprayed with no stick cooking spray), and put it into the oven.

Third, cook for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. This is the step that makes my house smell like I just slaved in the kitchen for hours!

How easy is that?! So if you’re like me and like to eat family meals at home, but always feel too busy, you want to add a few different flavors of the new McCormick® ONE Dish Seasoning Mixes to your Walmart.com shopping cart.

Let me know which flavor becomes a family favorite!
This one is definitely a favorite for us. We are going to incorporate two of these meals into our dinner rotation every week. I can’t wait to see your delicious weekday dinners.

As always, please follow me on Instagram and tag me when you prepare your delicious meals with McCormick®.

Goodbye summer, hello new adventures

This post has been sponsored by Capri Sun and Kraft Singles. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The summer has kind of flown by. We find ourselves planning our new school year already! During this summer, we’ve enjoyed long lazy days, a lot of books with friends, and as many exploration trips as we could possibly have. The boys don’t want it to end.

To get them so excited about the next year, we decided to plan a fun family BBQ party to close up our summer.

It wasn’t a complicated party with a lot of planning, but an idea of the moment that we just went with because summer is about that!

The boys were tasked with getting dressed in clothes that they can get wet while I ran to the local Giant Eagle to grab some of their favorite treats and some extra goodies for grilling. Since it’s Grilling Season with Giant Eagle, I knew I would be able to grab everything I needed in one stop! If you are planning a a BBQ party, you can Raise your Barb-IQ at GiantEagle.com/Grilling

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When I got back, Jo Jo was ready in his swim trunks and would not let me carry the bag in! He wanted to start our party right away!

Simple end of summer party

You don’t need anything fancy to have the best day ever with your family! Here is how we enjoyed saying goodbye summer!

-Favorite food: Let the kids chose what they want to eat. Our kids chose to have yummy grilled cheese sandwiches with their beloved Kraft singles cheese slices. I was happy with the choice, too, because Kraft single cheese slices are always made with real milk! And of course, I love that they always give the best melty grilled cheese sandwiches!

I will share our favorite one below!

-Water play: I picked up some water balloons and brought out the sprinkler attachment for our hose. Really, that is all! No complicated games this time! No need for prep or crazy cleanup. We just wanted to have a fun, relaxed time. No pressure to do some sort of Pinterest perfect party. Though we love those, too! But for this time, we wanted to just enjoy the simplicity of a summer day. And it was simply amazing!

-Surprise treat: When thinking about a surprise treat for them, I was quickly drawn to aisle 6!

I knew that a box of Capri Sun Juice Drinks would be the perfect surprise treat for them! They love the refreshing taste of the fruit punch flavored one! And I love that they are free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives; made with all natural ingredients; and don’t have any high fructose corn syrup. It’s a win for everyone!

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Our family’s favorite grilled cheese sandwich-

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It is very simple! We call it, apple bacon grilled cheese.

To make it, you butter up the two pieces of bread and then layer Kraft single cheese slices, apple slices, and a few pieces of cooked bacon. Top with another cheese slice and the bread.

Now you are ready to set it on the grill. It only takes a few minutes before the cheese is ready and perfectly melty. Make sure to flip it and cook both sides.

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And you will have a perfect melty sandwich!

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I hope you give them a try, and I hope you end up having a little planned, but unplanned, party with your family! Making memories is about having fun together, and it doesn’t matter if you are traveling the world or right at home! What matters is that you are surrounded by the ones you love the most and having a blast. And since it’s Grilling Season with Giant Eagle, make sure to shop Giant Eagle for all of your grilling needs!

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I would love for you to share your awesome end-of-summer parties with me! Give us a tag on Instagram so I can share!

5 easy school lunches for kids

This post has been sponsored by Mott’s. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Summer has been a blast! It has gone by so fast and I can’t believe that we are already thinking about the first day of school!

With all the excitement also comes the preparation and planning. Their clothes, supplies, schedules and of course, their school lunches.

Today, I want to share a way to make lunch planning uncomplicated and fun. You will be able to have 5 lunches using the kids’ favorite components but keeping it fresh and always changing.

For my boys, there are a few things that they always love to have, like their Mott’s® Applesauce Pouch Pals, which they request at any given opportunity for a treat.

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So, I try to start my week knowing that I have a good supply of these things. Then, I can include a few new things here and there to change it up a little. I love to do my shopping at my local Giant grocery store because I know they always have the things my family likes.

Our favorite items:

Mott’s Applesauce Pouch Pals- This is one that they will gladly have every day! I was so excited to see the new Mott’s® Pouch Pals on my last trip to Giant! Their unique clear pouches allow me to see the contents of the pouches to ensure the freshness that I always want for my babes. And they love the fun design of the little apple friend.

Carrots – My boys will eat raw carrots every single day! So, I always pick up a big bag of them at the local Giant.

Celery – The celery is usually eaten with peanut butter or with nuts on the side.

Nuts – We all love to have delicious nuts, specially those flavored with dark cocoa powder or bbq seasonings.

Popcorn – They love to eat it with lunch or as a snack. I love that it gives another fun touch to the lunches as I can mix them up with several different things!

Olives – Green, black, Kalamata, any way I offer them, they love to have them, too!

The 5 lunches:

Day 1 –

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Cheese cubes with mini pepperoni slices on top, kept them together with half a toothpick. These were on a bed of bbq almonds.

Green olives with carrot slices.

A mix of popcorn, pretzels, and dried cranberries.

Golden kiwi and mandarine orange slices.

Mott’s Applesauce Cinnamon Apple Pouch Pal.

Day 2 –

Grapes.

Celery sticks.

pretzels.

Carrot “noodles” made with a vegetable peeler. Served under cheese and ham cubes.

Mott’s Cinnamon Apple Pouch Pal

Day 3 –

This is for the shorter day.

Tossed salad.

Bbq roasted almonds.

Banana.

Mott’s Applesauce Pouch Pal.

Day 4-

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Carrot flowers.

Pop corn mixed with freeze-dried yogurt dots.

Their favorite crackers.

Ham sandwich.

Mott’s Applesauce Pouch Pal.

Day 5 –

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Hard boiled eggs on a lettuce bed.

Carrot sticks.

Trail mix that I made with cashews, dried cranberries, banana chips, and dark chocolate roasted almonds.

Cheese crackers.

As you can see, I keep it simple with many of the same things, but they don’t get bored because they keep taking different forms.

Another nice thing I love to do is to include an encouraging little note. They always keep it for a while and have big smiles when they receive them. If you would like to grab a free printable for some fun little notes, check out this post.

Helping kids to slow down

One of my sweet sweet boys has all the energy in the world! He will get so excited, talk loud on your face, and give the strongest hugs ever in the world. Through the years, we have learned a lot together. It has been trial and error for us, but I wished that I’ve had more resources on helping kids to slow down.

Today I want to share a super cute book for toddlers, I love it because it’s super relatable to the littles, and it is written with great love for them.

Baby Dragon, Baby Dragon!

This sweet book, written by Melissa Marr, is a great tale of a day spent playing and exploring by a little girl and one fast adventurous dragon.

The little girl, helps baby dragon to realize that if he slows down, they can do things together and have a great time.

I also love the way this books shows kids that great friendships can expand our horizons, we can learn from others and teach them too. Helping a friend enriches our lives and it helps us see when someone else might need help from us too. This is such a great thing to learn from an early age.

I can tell you that to this day, I would not be able to succeed the way I do, without the support of my friends everywhere. I am excited for my boys to learn this and keep it in their hearts for the rest of their lives.

When it comes to helping kids to slow down, I believe this book is an amazing tool to get started and to have them realize how easy it is to slow down your pace a little to be able to share with others.

You will also love the illustrations in this book! The boys absolutely loved to see Baby Dragon soaring around the kingdom and they make swooshing noises for it!

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I hope you and your baby love this book as much as we do. Come back soon for some amazing activities to help your little one slow down and enjoy the world around them even more!

Books for everyone- Little Senses

There are so many picture books out there, but this is the first time I’ve seen a wonderful series like Little Senses. These books created specifically for kids who are on the autism spectrum or have sensory issues.

I guarantee we’ve all met a child who struggles with eating new foods or seems to act out every time they leave the house. What we may not realize is that there may be underlying sensory issues at play.

The main reason why I love the Little Senses book series by Samantha Cotterill is that they help address these issues by showing kindness and patience during these trying situations.

I believe in showing kindness and grace to both littles and their parents who are frustrated and don’t need a judging reaction but an understanding friend.

These fun picture books were created with love for the little ones that can feel overwhelmed by their feelings in specific situations.

Another reason I love these books, is that they manage to convey a fun and relatable story line without unnecessary labeling. This helps kids that are both on the spectrum as well as those who are neurotypical.

Little senses, the books

Now lets get to know these fun books! We had a lot of fun with them and the boys were able to recognize some of the feelings as their own, it was so helpful and eye opening.

This Beach Is Loud!

Amazing illustrations! A story about a child that is so very excited about his upcoming trip to the beach! When the day finally comes and he is at the beach , he realizes that it’s too overwhelming for him. Feeling so overwhelmed, he just wants to go home.

His dad recognizes the signs of his child being scared and is able to help him work through it. Once the boy sees how fun the beach can be, they end up having a super fun day. He is ready to plan the next beach trip!

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The way this story shows kids that its ok to feel overwhelmed and that is possible to navigate through it to a fun day, is an incredible valuable lesson for all kids.

Nope. Never. Not for me!

A fun story about a little girl and broccoli! I’ve experienced this with my kids! They are absolutely sure that a certain new food will be impossible to eat!

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The book, turns the experience into a fun quest of exploring, touching, smelling, and tasting, bringing the kids to realize that it wasn’t so bad after all.

In both books, the parents are ready to show understanding and help conquer the challenges their child is facing. We talked about how it’s so important to be that loved one, or friend, or kind stranger that shows others how we are here to navigate with them to the other end, which is the fun of it all!

Little Senses is a wonderful series for kids on the spectrum, to be able to feel like they are the person in the book and that they are not alone! The books are also important and amazing for the rest of the world! Helping to better understand and show compassion! There is so much we can learn from each other. A little kindness will go an incredibly long way!

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Art and nature- Learning about ferns

Like I shared on my last post, this summer we are taking some time to explore the beautiful natural world around us! Learning through art and nature. We are using this amazing book called Nature Anatomy. There is a whole post about it here.

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For this week, we chose to study ferns. There is a lot of vegetation around us and ferns are everywhere! So it was fun to be able to get out there and look for them. We found two different species! How cool is that?

Since it has been raining a lot, the plants are growing like crazy! We brought a few of the ferns home to study with our book.

Discovering ferns-

Ferns are green plants without flowers, their beautiful leafs look kind of like big feathers and their texture is super fun for kids to touch and compare to other plants.

Ferns reproduce by spores, not by seeds, that was a very interesting talking point for the boys and I. They are so strong and keep growing and expanding everywhere without much help. Ferns are said to be one of the oldest species of plants! So they are like the Dinosaurs of plants, only they have survived.

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With our book, we learned about the anatomy of a fern, what each part of the plant is called and how it grows. we also learned about a few different kinds of ferns and it was super exciting for the boys to be able to recognize them from the book and in their own hands.

Art and nature

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Art and nature go hand to hand. To try and remember all that we talked about, the boys each drew some ferns and painted them using water colors. I love to see each of them draw in a different style and level. I prefer that they draw them themselves because I know that will be a fun memory that will help them remember each detail of their favorite fern.

The littles drew and painted only, but the older boys also copied the scientific names and each part of the anatomy of a fern, to help them remember.

After that was done, we used some finger paint to gently apply it on the back of the ferns and then they got to press them onto a blank piece of paper, creating some interesting abstract art and some very festive ferns to hang on their board.

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At the end of our study, we were able to learn so much by exploring outside, and combining our research with art.

Our activities were super simple but very helpful in the study of ferns.

Where will your summer take you? I want to encourage you to grab a fun book and go outside to explore! Learning doesn’t have to stop in the summer! it only turns more fun! We can explore this beautiful nature around us, from our back yards and beyond!

If you want to learn more about why we chose this book for our summer learning adventures, check out this post.

My wish for you is that your summer is magical! Filled with adventures and a lot of learning fun. Can’t wait to hear all about it! Do not forget to follow us on Instagram and share your summer learning love with us!

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