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EASY Birthday Cake Cookies

Let me start off by saying, I am by no means a baker, but I do love cookies. When I found this super easy recipe, had to give it a try. It looked pretty fool proof and it turns out it was. The cookies came out so good and stayed soft and chewy for over a week. So, lets get started!

Ingredients

  • Birthday cake mix
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Rainbow sprinkles

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F.

While your oven is heating up, combine the cake mix, chocolate chunks, oil and eggs. Mix until they are combined.

If you have a melon baller, use that to form the cookie balls. We don’t have one, so we used our hands. Right before the cookies go in, garnish them with sprinkles!

Pop the cookies in the oven for 12-15 minutes.

Toddler approved. He picked off the sprinkles first!

Just like that, you have delicious cookies for everyone to enjoy.

This recipe yielded 24 cookies. I stored mine in a Ziploc bag with a piece of bread to keep them soft!

We hope you enjoy!

XO Kate & Elizabeth

crafts, Motherhood, toddlers, Uncategorized

Color Hunt

Play is the highest form of research.

Albert Einstein

As we came inside to take a break from playing in the rain, I noticed all the colors dancing around our playroom. I realized that the toys we play with day in and day out are, in themselves, a learning tool. So, we went on a treasure hunt, well, a color hunt. You’ll see what I mean.

What you will need:

  • Two toilet paper rolls or one paper towel roll cut in half.
  • Tape
  • A large piece of paper 
  • Markers

Grab your big piece of paper and divide it into equal sections. I did 9 squares, but you can use as many or few based on what is best for your child. Next, write down the names of the colors using the corresponding marker.

While making the grid, have your child color the toilet or paper towel rolls. Once they are done coloring, take some tape and tape the rolls together. Now, you are ready to go on a color hunt!

Place the piece of paper in the middle of the room and let your kiddo go to work. Have them look around and find anything they can that matches the colors in your grid. Gray loved looking through his binoculars to find each new item.

Some colors can be a little tricky, like those teal puzzle pieces. He switched them between the green and the blue a few times, but either would be have been correct. Let your kiddo problem solve and search without interference, unless they ask for help of course!

Gray looked around the playroom for almost an hour, adding and taking away things as the grid filled. This is something that we will do again in the near future.

If you want to add more literacy, this fun art project pairs well with the book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear. It is one of our favorites and a great way to explore color learning.

What are some of your favorite color projects?

Take a look at some more fun activities for your kiddos.

XO Kate & Elizabeth

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive a small affiliate commission. Regardless, we give our promise that we only recommend products or services we would use personally and believe will add values to our readers.

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DIY Watermelon Popsicles

It has been HOT here in North Carolina, so we have been eating a ton of popsicles. As my kids sat there devouring their sugary treat I couldn’t help but wonder how I could make it a bit healthier. I don’t know if its just my two kiddos, but they have a ton of energy all they time. Feeding them basically frozen sugar water wasn’t doing myself any favors.

So, I hopped on good old Amazon and ordered some popsicle molds. Thanks to prime, two days later they arrived on my doorstep. You would have thought I would be googling recipes while I wanted for the molds, but nope I didn’t. Of course, my son was so excited when they arrived we needed to make popsicles immediately or so he told me.

I found a few recipes on Pinterest, but didn’t have nearly enough ingredients for any of them. So, we created our own!

What you will need:

  • Popsicle mold
  • About 4 cups of watermelon
  • Half a lime
  • Blender
  • Sugar (optional)

This is not an exact science and you can add or substract whatever ingredients you may like. We did not add sugar and I think the popsicles came out pretty sweet. Bonus, my kiddos loved them as well.

How to make them:

Chop up some watermelon and throw it into the blender.

Juice about a half of a lime and add that in as well. *This is where you’d add the sugar, if wanted. *

Once everything is smoothly blended together pour it into the molds. Leave about a half inch at the top for the popsicles to expand when freezing.

This was the hardest part for my son, put them in the freezer for at least 4 hours. I am pretty sure I heard the question ” Are they done yet?” at least 20 times that day. So, in retrospect it may be best to make these at night and skip the “Are they done yet?” question.

Once they in fact were done, the verdict was in and they were a success. We can’t wait to try out different flavors this summer.

What are some of your favorite popsicles flavors? I would love some ideas for next time.

XO Kate & Elizabeth

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7 Simple Activities for Rainy Days!

There’s no where my kiddos would rather be than outside; running, screaming, and exploring. They would spend the entire day outside if they could, and sometimes we do! However, there are days when we just can’t do outside. It’s too hot, it’s raining, or maybe it’s too cold, which doesn’t happen often here in North Carolina.

Regardless of the reason, all of their bottled up energy needs somewhere to go, and I’d prefer it not be them jumping from couch to couch. Of course, on these rainy days their old toys no longer interest them and they are all over the place. Thankfully there are plenty of fun, easy, and quick to put together activities to keep your little ones busy right inside your home.

1. Sensory Bins:

Sensory bins are a great way to let your little ones explore different textures, colors, and concepts. Everything is contained in a big plastic tub, or so it’s supposed to be, which makes for easy clean up! Find a plastic tub you have laying around the house and fill it with whatever interests your child. We currently LOVE construction of any kind. So, off I went to the garage, got some soil and rocks and ta-da! A sensory bin was created!

Some other fun themes are: holidays, individual colors, and seasons.

2. DIY Dry Erase Board:

Have a glass door or window? I’m sure you do! Well guess what, you also have a dry erase board. Grab some dry erase markers and let your little one draw a picture. Make sure you remind them markers are ONLY for the door or window, otherwise you may end up with a lovely Picasso-esque mural adorning your walls. When drawing their own picture loses your littles interest, draw shapes on the door, then begin naming the shapes, while having them erase or circle the shape you named. You can do this with anything: letters, numbers, shapes, sight words, etc you name it!

3. Alphabet & Number Games:

We have been focusing on our numbers, letters, and shapes for a while. Over time we have narrowed down some of our favorite games. Do you have an old cookie sheet you no longer use, alphabet or number magnets, and a sharpie? If you do, you have a new game at your fingertips. Take a sharpie, write down the alphabet (or numbers) and have your kiddo match them up! How easy is that?! If you don’t have magnets, grab a piece of paper and some paint! Write the alphabet or numbers down and have your kiddo trace them with paint. Both activities are simple to put together and will keep your little ones busy.

4. Cook together!

Cooking together doesn’t have to be elaborate! Have them help you make breakfast, or lunch. Measuring, dumping, and stirring help build fine motor skills, it also builds memories together. Bonus, my toddler also seems to eat more of the food when he helps!

5. Painters Tape Race Track!

Cranes, trains, and automobiles are just a few of our favorite things. With that being said, we have a TON of vehicles throughout our house. These vehicles sometimes need to place to go (other than under my feet!). So, we grabbed some painters tape and created a race track! But, what’s a race track without some tunnels and bridges?! Thank you solo cups! The tracks don’t have to stay on the ground. Up the walls, over the couches, and down the kitchen drawers are all fun places for their cars to travel.

6. Bring Nature Indoors!

Not literally.  But when all your littles want to do is venture outside, you can still let them scope it out from the sidelines.  Talk about the weather, look for wildlife with a pair of binoculars, grab a bird book and identify birds at the feeder, watch and learn about the types of clouds.  If you live in a larger city or busy neighborhood, people watch!  These little window-watching conversations will introduce new fun, and even new vocabulary.

7. A timeless classic…Build a Fort!

What kid doesn’t love a fort?  They are ripping your house apart anyway, might as well do it intentionally!  Gather all the pillows, blankets, cushions and get to work. Have flashlights or lanterns?  Great!  Stuffed animal role players? Awesome!  Forts aren’t an everyday occurrence over here, so making a rainy day extra special with this family activity is always a blast. Leave them up all day, eat lunch in there, watch a movie by lantern-light. It only takes a slight departure from “normal” for kids to think something is magical.

Now it’s your turn!

Choose one or a few of these rainy day activities for your little one and go have fun!

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Staying Sane? There’s an App for That

PBS Kids, making us feel better about screen time one Daniel Tiger song at a time.

Every single time the power goes out, I try to use something that requires power. It never fails. After a short (but not short enough) mental delay, I am left feeling like a first world idiot. Last summer we had a huge line of storms come through, of course right as it was time to cook dinner. Pretty normal for summers on the Carolina coast. The heat and humidity just build and build and explodes into pop-up thunder clouds right before the sun goes down. So here I am, chicken in the oven, almost done, and a huge flash…uh oh…thunder…then the power blinks, struggles a bit, and goes out for good. Immediately I think, “Great. Ok. No big deal, it was almost done I can throw it in the microwave!” But no. “Ugh. OK lets turn the light on and just think this through.” But no. It always throws me for a loop!

Nowadays we also feel like this when, for whatever reason, we don’t have our phones. It’s unbelievable how much I have come to rely on that tiny little rectangle in the past seven or so years. This past fall my phone decided to utterly fall apart when I removed the case, and I was without my phone for a week. It was, in a way, a great experience and made me strive to be unplugged more, but it also made me realize just how useful (and sometimes essential) it can be in the mom world. For one, I had to research ways to contact 911 if my kids had an emergency! To save you the trouble, I learned that any old cell phone is required to be able to call 911, even if it’s not connected to a service. Same goes for a plugged-in house phone. Supposedly, not sure how you test that out! Luckily I didn’t have to.

When we started dreaming up this blog, we both agreed that our driving focus was to share tips for staying sane. We wanted to share things that helped us, commiserate with other mothers, and keep our creative sides occupied- all of which contribute to our overall sanity. So we have compiled a small list of our favorite apps. A tiny nod to the technology that has made our lives easier. The ones that come to our aid the most:

  • Amazon– Nothing here that will throw you off your rocker, but we are all about apps that save time and money. Amazon Prime & Amazon Pantry are bonafide lifesavers. We order diapers, paper towels, toilet paper, dog food, laundry detergent, and other monthly essentials, on top of birthday gifts, party decor, books, etc! Also good to know- several stores, including Target, price match Amazon if there is something you want that you just can’t way 2 days for.
  • Walmart Grocery– Another popular app and overall no-brainer. But this was a game changer for me when it came to mindful purchasing and monthly budgeting. I often forget things at the store, and with this system you can continue to add to your order until the night before pick-up. Our local Walmart also started offering delivery, which was well worth the $10 fee when we were all sick a couple weeks ago!
  • InkCards & TouchNote– Both of these apps serve the same purpose. Kate uses one, Elizabeth the other, so we included both! These are a cheap and easy way to send cards to loved ones for any occasion. Custom cards with your own photos, cheaper than Hallmark, and you don’t need a stamp or a trip to the mailbox. They do everything for you. When my friends need a little pick-me-up, this is where I go!
The sweetest response ever from one of Elizabeth’s friends!
  • Lightroom CC– Photoshop and Lightroom are photo editing programs that are not generally free, but the Lightroom CC app for phones is free and is pretty amazing for editing photos on-the-go! Take your Instagram game up a notch by getting this app and playing around. There is even an autocorrect image feature if you don’t feel very photo savvy!
  • Robot Vaccum– If you have a Robot Vacuum, this app is awesome for scheduling cleanings and even finding the dang thing. It just makes things that much easier!
  • TimeHop– If you don’t have this app, GET IT NOW! It takes all of your photos from various photo sharing services (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Photos) and gives you a daily update of what you shared a year ago, 5 years ago, 9 years ago. It really does make my day to see pictures of my newborn baby from a year ago (insert tears the day THOSE photos started showing up because she turned one) or a sweet picture of me and my husband from our college days. I feel like I am reminded of so many photos and memories I otherwise may have forgotten about.
Newborn baby memories! As if first birthdays weren’t hard enough!
  • DT Parents– That DT is for Daniel Tiger, folks. Ever heard of him? Well our kids LOVE that delightful little PBS show, and while it can wear on the nerves, it really does contain meaningful messages for kids. The DT Parents app organizes the songs from episodes into common issues or feelings your child may experience, like sharing or being sad, so that you can have Daniel Tiger sing them a song about it. It may sound silly, but when your toddler is in a mood, who better to talk to them about it? YOU or an orange tiger cub? Yep, I agree.
  • ToneitUP– I think every mom desires a simple, cheap workout app that is actually practical, when so many promise to be. I can barely use the bathroom alone, how in the world am I supposed to find 30 minutes to myself to complete a workout?? This is a tried and true app by Kate. If you are looking for something to tone up a little for summer, start here!
  • Hatch Baby– This is specifically for newborns and infants. It is a wonderful app for tracking diaper changes, feedings, weight, pumping, etc. There is a stopwatch feature for nursing (and it records which side) so in those early days when you can’t even remember your middle name, you know when you last fed your little one and for how long. Your partner can also have the app on his or her phone with the same login so you can both add in baby-specific details, like logging that middle-of-the-night blowout that dad was lucky enough to change.
  • Chatbooks– Y’all, I cannot say enough good things about Chatbooks. Chatbooks was originally started to make photo series books from your Instagram account, but now allows you to make custom books and pull photos from Facebook and your photo library too. You can keep captions as they were posted or go in and edit. I currently have them printed for my kids from 0-6, 6-12, and 12-18 months. While these treasured books are for me right now, I cannot wait to gift them to my kids when they get older and show them all of the memories they are too young to remember for themselves. Almost a photo a day, with a caption from mom. I may never be able to part with them!
Elizabeth’s Chatbooks collection. So far she has printed 0-6mo, 6-12mo, and 12-18mo for her oldest and 0-6mo for her youngest. She plans to keep it up throughout their preschool years. The greatest memories they may not remember.
  • Baby Coloring– This is what I call my “doctor’s office app.” It’s the perfect calm “game” to keep kids busy without being glued to a show. It’s extremely simple and both of my kids (13 months and almost 3 years) can use it. You pick a coloring tool and use your finger to color a picture, the end. Sounds boring but I swear my husband will color with my kids for an hour if you let him!
  • The Wonder Weeks– Wonder Weeks has been a lifesaver! Every time one of the kiddos is having a hard couple of days, I check this app to see if they are currently in a leap of development. The apps shows what their brains are focusing on during their current stage and what new skills they may be developing in the near future.
  • Dino Puzzle-This app is great for quiet places, like appointments, meetings, or even car rides. Dino puzzles are just that, digital puzzles for your child to do. Our toddlers currently love Dinosaurs, so its a huge hit for them!
  • White Noise & Sleep Pillow– Until I had a 2nd baby, the iPad was our noise machine and Sleep Pillow the weapon of choice. When we had two babies we decided we might want an ACTUAL sound machine, especially since the iPad got taken over with Baby Coloring and PBS Kids! Having these apps are great for playing in the car, staying in a hotel, or even placing in the stroller on a nap time walk.
  • Pandora– Ending with another no-brainer. Pandora has been around for over a decade, I remember logging onto it in college from my computer. But if you aren’t using it to play children’s songs, make workout stations, or have a dance party in you’re living room, you’re doing it wrong!
Dance party in progress. When she asks for a dress and her shoes, she means business!

If you have any other mom-tastic apps that you can share with us, please do!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

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The Meet Cute

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

-C.S. Lewis

We danced around the idea of a blog for a couple months before finally deciding to take advantage of a kid-free Sunday morning and meet for coffee.  On said day, it was pouring.  Usually this would be a plan-canceler for us, a reason to stay in.  A footnote in our friendship agreement of sorts.  But today we braved the weather (because KID FREE) and showed up to Starbucks wearing almost identical outfits….jeans, white sweater, boots.  We then ordered lattes and proceeded to talk about everything but our future blog for over an hour.

It’s very cool how people meet.  Kind of a weird statement, I know, but it all comes back to that, right?  When you met your husband, when you first saw your child, when you became best friends.  It’s nostalgic.  It’s epic.  It’s the origin story.  Maybe it’s a classic meet cute or maybe it was a bit rocky, but it’s memorable nonetheless.  I once read that the average person meets 10,000 people in their lifetime.  As stay at home moms, I feel like that number could be a lot less.  Maybe that is why we are all about community events, playgroups, coffee dates, etc.  Especially as military families when the worthwhile friends we do manage to meet are often renting a moving truck far before we are ready to see them go.  That’s why it feels like winning the lottery when you not only find a friend, but one who gets you so well.

We met at a park on an unexceptional late-spring day, where we both separately decided to grab coffee with our husbands and take our 1 year olds out to burn some energy.  As I remember it, both of our children gravitated away from the playground equipment and towards the forbidden body of water that ran surreptitiously alongside the small park in coastal North Carolina.  We giggled over this common toddler obsession, made a Moana joke (duh), and struck up easy conversation.  It wasn’t until a few conversations later that we realized we had both driven 15 minutes away from our homes on a weekend morning to go to Dunkin Donuts of all places, both passing other coffee shops along the way, and then taking our toddlers to a park none of us have ever been to before that’s in the town we live in.  Plus our kids had basically the same due date.  So there, that’s our meet cute.

Awkward toddler hugs!

Over a year later, we both welcomed new baby girls who are also close in age and commiserate daily on the whoas of motherhood.  Our toddlers even celebrated their 2nd birthdays together. While I feel like we are SO alike, we are also very different.  We are both military spouses and SAHMs. Kate is organized, talented at DIY, and has a flare for interior design.  She has a knack for giving her kids amazing educational opportunities and making their days so unique and special. She likes to say that her son’s social calendar is more happening than hers!  Elizabeth has an eye for photography and an affinity for nature and adventure.  She and her husband love to take their two littles on road trips and camping trips that may seem a bit overzealous with two young kids, but oftentimes the best memories come from the chaos. That’s us in a nutshell. I have a feeling you’ll learn a lot more about us later!

So why start a blog together?  I guess it’s because we both impress each other as moms.  We always love what the other is up to and it’s so easy to bounce ideas off each other.  When one feels like they are lacking in a certain area, the other has a great suggestion (or at the very least, an empathetic ear.) I have found that sometimes as a mother you just need to know that what you are doing is okay.  Sometimes you need a reminder that it does, in fact, take a village.  And sometimes that “village” can simply be the words of like-minded moms in a blog about staying sane and taking motherhood one sip at a time. So we hope you will join us on our journey. We welcome comments, inspiration, suggestions, & support from our village at anytime!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate