Posted in Blog

Friday Fav: Costco Bookcase

It’s January, which means it’s that time of year again that Costco removes the Christmas trees and replaces the floor space with furniture. I spotted my Friday Fav there again this year: the Bayside Furnishings room divider/bookcase. And, it’s been on sale (in store only) for $99.99 rather than its older price of $129.99!!

I know, it’s a piece of furniture. I shouldn’t be so excited, but I just love it! It is hefty, versatile, and provides larger storage bins than those I see often at Ikea or Target.

We originally bought it for our townhouse to store baby toys in the living room. When we were staging the house to move, I took out the storage bins and turned it into a nifty dining room buffet table.

It moved to the playroom when we moved to our house, and I picked up an extra one that year to use as a credenza in my office. Now, both of them are flanking the TV in the kids’ playroom.

If you are in the market for additional storage, then check it out at Costco warehouses. It will likely be unavailable and out of stock by the end of the month.

Happy Friday!

Posted in Blog

Friday Fav: Nice Cream

Move over, banana bread. You had your time to shine during this pandemic. Now it’s time for nice cream!

What is this deliciousness? It’s a non-dairy ice cream alternative made with bananas that hits the spot without all of the added sugar.

There are tons of flavors and varieties that you can find online, like here and there. My favorite is Cherry Garcia, made with only frozen bananas, frozen cherries, and chocolate chips all thrown together in a food processer until creamy. I think I lean toward this flavor because it is not one of my preferred ice cream flavors. (I mean, I’d never pick it if there was anything with chocolate ice cream available. Let’s be real.) Since I’m not comparing nice cream with its ice cream step brother, it stands alone and provides a guilt-free dessert that satisfies.

Based on this picture, I’m clearly not a food blogger.

The links above provide some recipes, but I don’t really follow a recipe anymore. After my mother showed me how to make nice cream, I just eyeball it based on the number of servings I want to make.

This is by no means a food blog, so you won’t find a traditional recipe blog post here. The directions are to literally put all of the ingredients into the food processer and blend until creamy.

However, here are a few tricks I’ve learned.

Image courtesy of Mr.-4-Year-Old
  1. Ripe bananas provide the best flavor. I just plop the entire unpeeled and brown bananas into the freezer and wait for the urge to strike for dessert. When I’m ready to make nice cream, I leave the bananas on the counter for a few minutes, then use a knife to peel away the skin.
  2. You can just drop the cutup frozen bananas, some frozen dark and sweet cherries, and a small handful of chocolate chips into the food processer and have dessert in a matter of minutes. If you want to get fancy, add a splash of vanilla.
  3. If you find the ice cream is too thick, add a bit of non-dairy milk. I use almond milk, but any milk or its alternative would work. Oftentimes, I don’t have to add anything extra.
  4. We have used semi-sweet chocolate chips in the past, but I found these Hu dark chocolate “gems” at Costco that are on point. I highly recommend them.
  5. Speaking of Costco, there you can also find a large bag of frozen dark sweet cherries, which is helpful when you plan on making lots of nice cream like our family.
  6. Personally, I think it’s best eaten the day it’s made. You can freeze leftovers, but I don’t like the ice crystals that form in the nice cream at that point.

So there you have it! I share in the spirit of giving during a time when many people likely have New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier. It’s not only my Friday Fav but one I share with my entire family.

Happy Friday!

Posted in Blog

Friday Fav: Time with Family

Merry Christmas! I’m wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season and peace for the new year.

My Friday Fav this week is certainly time with my family. They may be constantly underfoot these days and it may be difficult to find a moment of silence during daylight hours, but I love spending time with them all. I’m thankful we are together and healthy this holiday season. I’m grateful my husband and I have jobs, particularly ones that allow us to take time off during the holiday season.

We have been blessed beyond measure, and this year in particular I’m trying not to take that for granted.

So I will try to embrace the loud children bouncing off the walls at their excitement for Christmas. I will make the best of virtual get togethers with family instead of in-person gatherings. I will be grateful for my husband’s constant playing of YouTube videos and podcasts because that means he’s home and near me. I will read that one extra chapter of Harry Potter after the kids’ bedtime to get a few more minutes of cuddle time under the blankets with the boys.

On this Christmas day in particular, I’ll slow down. I’ll soak in the magic of the day and the good fortune that we get to spend it together.

Please hold your loved ones close and treasure their presence. That’s the greatest gift I’ll get this Christmas, and I know it.

Posted in Blog

Friday Fav: 3D Christmas Glasses

Our family loves to drive around the neighborhoods this time of year to look at Christmas lights. I feel like there are more decorations up this year than ever before! One thing we always make sure to bring with us when we’re out looking at lights are these cool 3D Christmas glasses my in-laws picked up for the boys a few years ago.

These glasses transform the look of Christmas lights into a variety of holiday shapes like Santa Clause, candy canes, snowmen, or reindeer (like the picture included in this post). Bob your head around, and you can see the shapes move!

Besides Amazon, I’ve seen classes like these at Walmart and Lowe’s. They are typically a couple of dollars for a pair. Although the frames are only made of paper, we’ve largely kept them in one piece for many years. I highly recommend trying them out, if you can find them.

Happy Friday!

Posted in Blog

Friday Fav: Short Days and Long Nights

In just a few weeks it will be the Winter Solstice, which means that we have limited daylight hours and long nights. Normally I’d hate this change. It means my husband is driving to and from work in the dark. It feels like you need to get everyone home and immediately start dinner and the whole bedtime routine. I’m ready to pass out for the night by 8pm.

However, this year, with the whole family home 24/7, I’ve embraced the extended nights. No longer are we sneaking in sports practices right after school before the sunsets or coming back from Scout meetings in the dark. Most nights we are instead home, warm and cozy under covers on the couch reading together or watching a family TV show in front of a roaring fire. It’s transformed from a chaotic and rushed part of our day to calm (usually) and peaceful (usually) segment of the day.

As a bonus, my children are old enough to get themselves ready for bed. They can shower themselves and get their pajamas on without constant support. We’ve started sending one kid to get ready at a time, giving my husband and I bit of alone time with each of our sons. I’ve really lost that one-on-one time with my kids now that we’re all home constantly, so it’s nice to get some of it back, especially during a quiet evening hours.

Given the year 2020 has been, I’ll take whatever positives I can get. This type of family time is definitely one of them…whether it’s Friday or any other day of the week.

Happy Friday!

Photo by Amy Humphries on Unsplash – This image captures how cozy I feel at home with my family.

Posted in Blog

Friday Fav: Package Delivery Services!

I, like billions of others this time of year, am relying on online shopping to prepare for the holidays this year. On top of normal deliveries of dog food, takeout food service, and whatever my husband needs for his latest project or hobby, we are receiving holiday-related packages on the regular.

As a token of our appreciation, we set out a bowl of goodies with a note of thanks and a request that they take water and snacks. Not everyone partakes, but when we’ve been outside playing with the kids during some deliveries, drivers have been so tickled by the offer.

And, as obvious as it seems, we learned the hard way not to include fresh fruit in the bowl. Ha! I thought I was being kind to offer something that was healthy and unprocessed, but apparently it was too tempting to the squirrels. We were eating lunch one afternoon, and we saw a squirrel scurry up a tree with a huge orange in its mouth. Too funny!

Happy Friday!

Posted in Blog

Friday Fav: Google Password Breach Alert

Well, I’m glad I froze my credit recently. On Monday I was notified by Google Chrome that several passwords I use for various websites were compromised in an app or company data breach. Apparently this is a new feature Google offers. So, although I’m not a fan of the data breach, my Friday Fav is definitely Google’s password breach alert.

The way I understand how it works is this. If ABC Company’s data was hacked and my online account password is now known, then Google informs me of a breach and suggests I change the password for all sites that use that same password. I don’t know where or how the data breach occurred, but Google identifies every site password I need to update.

It appears several of my passwords used across dozens of sites were compromised, so it took several hours on Monday to get all of my passwords changed. But, I’m done and feel a bit more secure again….for now.

Posted in Blog

Friday Fav: Schitt’s Creek

I’m late to this trending comedy show that recently ended its six season run on CBC Television. However, I binged it all this Fall on Netflix. Schitt’s Creek is an amazingly well done, funny series about a family who falls from riches and finds themselves living in the small town of Schitt’s Creek.

The show has real heart, showing how a quirky family comes together during this difficult time in their lives and accepts each other for exactly who they are inside. Every character takes turns being oblivious or over the top, but there’s always at least one other character who is grounded in reality.

The cast includes Eugene Levy (Johnny Rose) and Catherine O’Hara (Moria Rose), who are parents to two older kids (played by Daniel Levy and Annie Murphy). I love that Daniel Levy created this show with his father (Eugene Levy) and gets to star along side him and occasionally with his sister Sarah Levy (Twyla Sands).

If you are looking for a new show that is sure to produce belly laughs, tears, and smiles, check it out! Happy Friday!

Posted in Blog

Friday Fav: Amazon Wish Lists

Have you been in the situation as the holidays approach that grandparents, aunts, and uncles start reaching out and asking what the kids want or need as presents? In the past, I’ve given different ideas to different people, which I then need to keep mental track of so that I don’t tell multiple people the same item.

Today’s Friday Fav is my solution: Amazon wish lists. If you have an Amazon account, you can create a list. To start, log in, select Accounts and Lists from the top right-hand corner, then find the Create a List option.

We do so much shopping on Amazon that it’s easy to add something to the list at any time. When you’re shopping and on an item’s page, there’s a hyperlink under the Add to Cart button that will instead allow you to add the item to a list.

You can even add ideas to your list, so it’s easy to add items to your list you can’t buy on Amazon. For instance, I’ve added various gift card ideas for local shops for the boys to their lists.

Additionally, you can add comments, like what size or color to purchase or what other stores carry the item (and may have a cheaper price).

You can even add multiple people as editors to the list, allowing multiple parents to contribute.

Once the list is put together, you can opt to share the list with whomever you’d like. If someone buys an item off the list, then it is automatically removed so there are no accidental double purchases. Gift givers can even elect to have the item shipped right to your home, which is a popular choice for us this year since we won’t be seeing a bunch of people in person this year.

If you use Amazon’s wish lists or something similar and have any tips or tricks, please share them in the comments.

Happy Friday!

Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

Posted in Blog

Friday Fav: Benefits to Staying Home During the Pandemic

It’s been an off week for me. I’m not feeling this routine anymore.

I have to admit that I’m tired.

I’m tired of being home so frequently. I’m tired of everyone else being home with me so frequently. I’m tired of only working two-hour shifts at a time so my husband and I can trade off watching the kids. I’m tired of virtual school. I’m tired of making everyone three meals a day. I’m tired of it all.

I have been trying not to complain because I fully recognize how lucky we are here. My husband and I are each able to work from home and maintain our incomes. We have access to food so I can make us three meals a day. The weather is nice, so we can get outside and do things around town and in the neighborhood. We are all healthy, and the kids actually seem to be mostly thriving in this new normal. We have it good.

The days aren’t hard, really, just the same day on repeat – a perpetual Groundhog’s Day.

My husband has kindly suggested taking some time off of work, and I see where he is coming from. Honestly, I don’t want time off of work. I want to be able to focus on my work tasks for more than 2 hours at a time. I would like to 100% focus on something for a significant chunk of time (and not have to be up at 6am to do it). I miss silence. I would like a little more separation between work and life, but that’s not in the cards for now.

So, instead, I’m going to reground myself and focus on the benefits and my favorite parts of being home so much now:

  • Our afternoons, evenings, and weekends are a lot less hectic without a ton of after-school activities.
  • I can give my kids hugs when they want them, even in the middle of a school day.
  • My husband can make dinners more frequently since he’s not commuting.
  • I always get to go shopping alone while my husband stays home with the kids.
  • I’ve far surpassed my reading goals for the year.
  • The weather has been nice since the pandemic started.
  • At least the neighborhood pool was open this summer so we had somewhere to cool off outside in the heat.
  • The kids reading levels have improved with more one-on-one attention.
  • I’ve gotten the chance to deeply explore how my children learn best, where their strengths are, and their areas for development.
  • We have been able to have more family time playing outside, watching the Great British Baking Show, and reading Harry Potter. (We’re up to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which may take us a few months to finish.)
  • Mr. 7-Year-Old learned to ride his bike. Mr.-Then-4-Year-Old finally got the courage to regularly ride his big-boy bike rather than a tricycle.
  • We tackled home projects we’d been putting off because we finally had the time to focus on them together.
  • I have been on SO MANY walks.
  • Our house has been cold and illness free since March.
  • The boys are having playdates outside exploring creeks, playing on swings, and generally running around together rather than inside playing video games.
  • My house is now REEEALLY organized.
  • I haven’t felt the need to buy the boys new clothes. Jean got a hole in the knees? Oh well, we’re not going anywhere.
  • Our senior pup and my husband are closer than ever. She’s basically become his shadow.
  • But…we spend so much time at home now that the dog doesn’t sleep at the foot of our bed anymore. She stays downstairs, I presume, to get away from us for at least part of the day. I have room to stretch my feet out now, until about 5am when she strolls upstairs to join us.
  • We’ve all become a bit more resilient in times of uncertainty and change.

Just the act of writing out the upsides makes me feel a bit better. I still miss silence and being able to write without being interrupted fifteen times. But, the only thing constant is change. I will get silence again someday, and then I’m sure I’ll lament about the absence of regular commotion. It’s best to enjoy what you have and while you have it.

Photo by Chris Ross Harris on Unsplash