Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fabulous Finds: Music to make your summer last a little longer!

I love discovering new music to replay over and over. Right now I need some tunes that will extend our summer that's slipping away all too quickly. And Mat Kearney's brand new album will do it!

'Young Love' is such a great, chill-me-out, drive on the coast, take on summer vacation type of album. I love it! I turn it on in the car and listen to the entire thing. It creates a surf and beach type of vibe, and the songs are both catchy and laid-back at the same time.

This album debuted at the #1 spot on iTunes, and I totally get why! I recommend downloading or buying the entire thing because you'll love every song, but if you're going to just download a few here are my faves:

*track 1* Hey Mama
*track 2* Ships In the Night
*track 7* Down
*track 8* She Got the Honey

ALL awesome songs! Summer fun, bottled up into music!
What are some of your favorite new tunes?

My disclaimer: Thanks to the One2One Network for providing me with this album in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are completely mine!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pony Party!!!

Back in June, we partied it up in Woodinville. . . pony style!!!

Natalie and Kirsten have April and May birthdays, so I did a combined party for the newly 2 and 4-year olds at this amazing horse farm called Pony Paradise Rides! It was soooooo adorable, they even dressed the ponies up in princess garb for the occasion!

Kirsten was a little apprehensive, but she was ready to ride!

Isn't that just the cutest little pony you've ever seen???

I was just SURE that Natalie was going to be thrilled to ride the ponies. After all, I have proof that she rode a full-size horse just a couple of weeks before the party! We were at Country Village, and Natalie was the happiest 2 year-old you'd ever see on a horse!

Happy. . .

Happy. . .

Happy. . .

{Day of party}. . . Crying and refusing to even sit for one little minute on a pony! Wouldn't ride them at all!!!

Weird. Oh well.

This was the only horse she wanted to ride that day. . .

I thought we could count on nice weather in June {silly me!} but we had a gloomy, rainy day. Luckily the horse farm had a whole tented area so everyone could stay dry!

All the kids LOVED the two bouncy houses, especially the one with the slide. It was probably a bigger hit than the ponies were!

Fun with friends!!!

At the bottom of the bouncy slide there was a big ball pit. It worked great, because all the babies and toddlers could play in the ball pit and stay contained in there!

We feasted on hot dogs, chips and dips, fruit, berry lemonade, and s'mores!

A big thank you to my mom and dad for flying up for the party and then hanging out at the fire pit helping to grill up all the food!

And what does every pony party desperately need?

Of course! An incredible, detailed, totally adorable cake that I didn't have to make!!! I only had to order it! :)

Everyone sang happy birthday to the girls!
{Apparently Kirsten thought it was too loud}

And we blew out the candles and dug in!

"Hi! Aren't I cute? Come and pet me!"
{I think he probably is the cutest llama I've ever seen}

Because princess ponies and bouncy houses aren't enough, the place also had a cute little petting farm with a spotted llama and some pygmy goats! The kids had so much fun feeding them and petting them!


SO many friends came and everyone had such a blast! This will definitely be a party to remember forever!!!

Happy birthday, Kirsten and Natalie!

It's still grilling season!

I thought I'd highlight the still-wonderful days of summer while they're lasting and share some grilling recipes that we really enjoy!

I'm just curious, do any of you girls reading this know how to man a grill? I guess there's a reason why it's called "man" the grill. I have never grilled a single thing before in my life! I can prep all the stuff, but it's my hubby who gets the grill ready, grills the food, cleans up afterward. Sound familiar to anyone else? We have a small gas grill that fits pretty well in our tiny little patio area we call a backyard, but we would love one of the nice electric grills when we get a house with a bigger yard, for sure!

For a fresh and yummy dinner on the grill, you should try out the recipe for Chili-Lime Mango Chicken Skewers!
{I'm not a big fan of mangos, so I prefer my skewers with pineapple instead. You could cook up some of both for a colorful, delicious dish!}

These would be so great to take on a camping trip! Just do all the prep work before you go, wrap the skewers in plastic bags in the cooler, and then stick them on your portable grill!

This recipe comes from Our Best Bites, one of my very favorite food blogs. Everything I have made from these girls so far, I have loved!
They have a few other very useful grilling tutorials on their site, plus tons of other recipes for the grill! Here are a few of my favorite resources:

*How to grill pizza on the BBQ here
*How to grill corn on the BBQ here
*How to grill the perfect steak here (still need to try that one out!)

So get out there and enjoy a few more grilled meals before fall weather starts rolling in! And visit if you're looking for some great deals on new grills!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to School... Time to Get Organized!

Is anyone else blown away by how fast the summer flew by? I can't believe it's almost time for school to start again, and some kids have already started! Where did our summer go???

I don't have kids in traditional school yet. Kirsten is 4, and she'll be in preschool 3 days a week for a few hours, and that's it. But I'm definitely starting to realize that the older your kids get and the more they're involved with, it's ALL the more important to have some good organizational strategies in place. When Kirsten was 2 years old I didn't even have a planner or calendar that I looked at, and now I pretty much live on my Google calendar! Learning how to get organized is tough for every mom! I struggle with not having enough space on the Google calendar to record all the info I want, and also with not knowing how to share it with other family members like my husband. And don't even get me started on how to declutter! Paperwork just kills me!

When it comes to staying organized, I try to get as much ready as I can the night before. Outfits picked out, lunches packed, anything like that I can do makes mornings so much less hectic! I recently got to try out an awesome online tool that organizes everything called AboutOne. It's a calendar, planner, digital filing system and more!
This video overview is a great way to learn about the system:

Some stuff I love about the service:

*You can scan and upload anything (medical records, child's artwork, photos, important school paperwork) and email it from your smartphone or scanner. It eliminates the need to worry about documents getting lost!
*They handle backup and security for you, for even more peace of mind!
*The software is really easy to use, and it's got a great layout that makes it easy to find any info you're looking for.
*(One of my favorite things!) The technology automatically creates family newsletters, hardcover photo books, health and education summaries, caregiver information sheets, alerts and reminders. It also creates paper greeting cards that mail themselves! Way cool!

All of my readers can get a free 17-day trial, with no expiration date and no credit card required! You can use each of your days whenever you want!

After you sign up for your free trial, you can also enter an awesome giveaway! Here's the prize up for grabs. . . a $500 AMEX gift card and an upgrade to a free subscription to plus a $250 donation to a school of your choice!

{Please note that you must sign up for the free trial to be eligible to win the grand prize!} has a wide variety of organizational resources that can be used throughout the year to help get all aspects of your life together in one place. Good luck to all my readers with your back-to-school plans!

My disclaimer: I was compensated by the Global Influence Network for my participation in this program.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Explore: Camping at Steambock Rock!

Behold the beauty of Steamboat Rock State Park, four hours away from us in Eastern Washington. . .

I tend to love forested and mountainous landscape better than desert ones, but this is a GREAT place to camp! The campsites are big and clean, and the lake is just unbeatable. We camped for two nights, which is just about right with young kids.

Our good friends Megan, Rob, and baby Rennan came with us. It was Megan's birthday too! She made and brought her own birthday cake, and we went and saw the Grand Coulee Dam laser show! That was quite the experience, a laser show out in the middle of nowhere. Crazy and educational at the same time!

Isn't Rennan unbearably cute? I LOVE this shot I got of him! Such a photogenic little guy!

The kids had a complete ball playing in the sand. . .

And of course swimming in the wonderful lake! It's the perfect lake for small children. It's very shallow for a long way out, so the kids can splash around without going too deep. The sand under their feet is super soft, and the beach is great for playing with sand toys. Perfection! My kids would play in the water with their "floaties" all day long!

And who's the best person to have with you when you have tons of beach gear to carry? Chance, of course!

He also comes with a pretty sweet motorcycle...

Our weather was so great! 70's and 80's, with beautiful, clear nights! We had fun hanging out with the kids and friends around the campsite.

Natalie roasted her own marshmallows for the very first time! She loved it! Kirsten and Natalie both love to roast marshmallows, but they usually won't eat them gooey. They like eating regular marshmallows.

The kids slept pretty good together on a queen-sized air mattress. And we got the BEST thing for Brooke to sleep in this year. . . the KidCo PeaPod Portable Travel Bed! It was awesome to not have to lug the huge portacrib around, and Brooke slept really well in it! It has a tiny little blow-up mattress that goes inside it, and you can zip the whole thing shut. Awesome! I highly recommend it!

Lots of people don't want to camp with young kids, but we have so much fun whenever we go! No doubt that it's more difficult, but you'll create lasting memories and get some great photos to look back on. My number 1 tip is to camp near a place where your kids will have lots to do, like playing in a lake.

We actually hope to go camping one more time this year before the weather gets bad... hope we'll get to do it!