Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review: Label Daddy

My sister had her baby and one of the best gifts I could give her was labels. Now before you think, wow what a weird gift. Let me tell you, working in daycares and schools I have seen how many items are lost, misplaces or even switched between two children/families. 

When I came across Label Daddy and their removable and washable labels. I knew it was perfect for my sister to help keep track of all of the items that come along with a new baby. Once my sister and her husband decided on a name the ordering part was easy. 

I started at LabelDaddy.com and then searched Browse products. I really wasn't sure what I was looking for in particular, I wanted a set that would help her label enough pieces and keep her organized! 

I decided to go with the combo pack and I couldn't be happier, in the pack are 205 labels, (50 all purpose medium size, 80 all purpose small size, and 75 all purpose extra-small size). Once I decided on the package, the rest was super easy and a matter of three clicks. I choose red labels as my sister loves the warm colors, I wanted a simple design and nothing overwhelming. The sun seemed like the perfect choice.  Simple and classic. Next came the decision to figure out what to use for her name, first name only, first and middles or full name. 

In my family we often call the children by their first and middle names so it seemed like a no brainier to go with that. Finally came submit! 

In seven days, I received the labels and let me tell you I was highly impressed. The labels looked great, clean and not too big. The ink was printed nicely with no mistakes. I was jumping (yes, literally jumping) with excitement to get these to my sister. 

The labels were fantastic. I put them on a cup and after giving it time to set, I stuck it in the dishwasher. Washed it five times in a row and the label was stick perfectly on the cup! That's fantastic in my book. If you are looking for labels for camp, daycare, school or even to differentiate between your children at home, then these need to be on your wish list!

Save 20% on your entire Label Daddy order - this is the best discount available anywhere. Use code USFAMILY20 at checkout. www.usfamily20.labeldaddy.com

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Printables

Decorate Your Home with Free Thanksgiving Printables:

Thanksgiving is all about family, gratefulness and sharing. It is an opportunity to spend quality time with the loved ones, catch up with friends and for at least one day forget about all the problems life tends to throw at us, and focus on our inner world.

What better way to focus on inner world than adding a little flare to your home decor and your surroundings? Since Thanksgiving is a fall season holiday, you don’t have to look too far when searching for inspiration for decoration, especially if you want to stay on the budget. It is simply amazing what you can make from fall leaves, pumpkin plants, pine cones and other fruits of nature, and how you can turn your home into a warm and cozy Thanksgiving setting.

There are many online tutorials on how to make these crafts, but that’s not all. If you really want to make your celebration memorable, you should try out some additional resources like this set of fun and free Thanksgiving printables.

Food gifts for friends and neighbors

If your family and guests have an eye for details, then these cute stickers will certainly catch 
their attention. You can apply them as food tags, use them to create personalized ‘thank you’ notes, use them as table centerpiece decoration or you can create custom made Thanksgiving dinner invitations and send them out on time for the big day.


lovely way to decorate your canned drinks!

All you need to do to turn these freebies into stickers is download the pdf version and print it on a self-adhesive paper. With a pair of scissors and a little bit of imagination, you can turn this decoration process into a perfect family play-time.

You can download these for free at http://www.foodpackaginglabels.net/lunchbox-stickers  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Girl Scouts: A life experience that I'll never change

As I sit here, I am in awe at the little lady my daughter is becoming. When I was younger, I made myself a promise to try and live life to the fullest, whether that meant taking every opportunity that came my way or just learning to love myself for the person I am (this is an ongoing and ever changing promise). 
My friend Abby (waves) from Australia- she worked at Girl Scout Camp and spent time with my family. 

With that being said, I can say in the 34 years and 8 odd months I have been on this planet, Girl Scouts has shaped me to the be the woman I am today. Well I guess not 34 as you don't start scouting at birth, but 29 years works! Looking back, I have been on so many adventures, whether it be traveling or doing community work, working at summer camp (you can read about that here) Girl Scouts has somehow been involved. 

Wider Opportunity in Colorado, with Girl Scouts from all over the country!

I was blessed to have so many experiences, amazing friends and wonderful leaders. One leader, Amy, I know have an entire new level of respect for. Let me say, Amy had four daughters and at one point or another, she was all of their leaders. Girl Scouts was a little different back then, each troop met at different times. Now, at least where we live, the entire Troop (all levels, meet at the same time in different rooms). Regardless of how you do it or have done it, leaders are amazing people. My leaders Amy and Cathy held us to a higher standard, they knew what we needed to do and expected that we followed the standards that had been established by scouts. 

Canoeing in Colorado

Were Amy and Cathy  perfect? absolutely not but they loved us, they loved Scouting and that was enough. They let us learn by self discovery when it was time, they were there to help guide and keep us safe. I remember that I was one of the babies of the troop, at when the older girls bridged to the next level, I stayed and had different leaders. That third year of any of my scouting was hard, I had good leaders, but they were well different. Many times, they were just learning scouting and would rely on me to help. Not that it was horrible being the oldest, but often times I felt like that third year, was my leader training year instead of my last year in that level. 

The next year when I moved back into Amy and Cathy's troop was always my favorite. I loved being back, it was home, it was safe and I could learn again. It was like I had never left. Girl Scouts is an amazing, confidence building program. Camping was always my favorite, when we were younger, I can remember loving the meetings where we would spend time planning the trips. Each trip was different and yet so similar in the fact that we always grow as individuals during those short weekend hours. 

yes, that's me dancing like a sparrow. 
My favorite thing about camping was the open feeling that was established when we went. We were free to be ourselves, there was never any pressure to be any one else. As a teenage girl and even a tween, that was so refreshing. Camping was more than just learning the skills you need to have in the wilderness. It was a chance to learn about yourself as a person. 

Amy and Cathy, were incredible they established a standard that to this day I still follow. It's fun to go camping and when I was younger cell phones and iPad weren't popular, it was Walkman and CD players. We were expected to go the entire weekend without the electronics and connect to what we were doing. I remember begging and wanting to bring them and Amy and the other leaders always said no. We are going camping to work together, spend time in nature and enjoy life. 

My brother and sister- on my way to my Gold Award Ceremony. 

Girl Scouts has changed over the years, somethings have become relaxed. I'm not saying they are bad just different. Life is constantly evolving and we have to adjust. The expectations have to be the same, we expect children to connect to each other. I am blessed to have been apart of Girl Scouts and all of the experiences it has brought into my life. My wish for you is if your child is in any kind of scouts, help the leaders and make the experiences lifetime memories. Keep the standards high and the results will be fantastic. 

Thank you Amy, Cathy and all of my other leaders for helping to make Girl Scouts such a fond experience for me. I can only hope that as my daughter's leader, I can live up to the standards that you have set for us. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Carolina Renaissance Festival: Huntersville, NC a day of history

As the leaves are falling and autumn is in full force, many people are looking for fun adventures to go on. My family and I came upon the Carolina Renaissance Festival and decided it would be a fantastic way to spend the day. You can check out their website for all of the specific details. 

It was a perfect day for our walk back into history. The sun was shining and the weather was cool but comfortable. We arrived at the festival, parking was a little on the extreme side, I wasn't expecting it to be as crowded as it was. As you drive, it was like driving back into time, once you turn off the main road and start on the dirt road you instantly start to feel transported. 

When we got to the gate, the children were becoming more and more excited, which helped with mine as well. There eyes were as big as quarters as they looked and tried to take every piece in. The ticket takers really start your experience, greeting you my lady. One could get used to this! When you first walk into the festival, you are immediately immersed in the renaissance lifestyle. 

Our favorite event was the jousting, the children loved all of the pageantry that came along. The introductions, the riding of the horses and of course the jousting itself. Each time a battle started the children would jump and squeal with excitement. I have to admit that this was my favorite part as well. 

The marketplace was incredible to walk through and see all of the artists work, it will make you want one of everything. From swords, shields, wax hands, to pressed coins right in front of your eyes, you will not be disappointed. The children had a blast trying on the armor and the swords. The artisans were wonderful in allowing them to do it. 

Between the jousting and the artisan marketplace the children were completely worn out, often asked to be picked up and wanting to take a break. The entertainment that was at the festival was incredible. I cannot remember laughing as much as I did. 

I was in stitches listening to them!

Next to the jousting the children loved the rides, they needed some coaxing to ride when they saw how fast and how tall they were but it was a blast. We rode the giant rocking horse together as a family. This might sound silly but that really meant something to me as I am usually the one sitting out or taking pictures. This time I actually got to ride!

The festival has amazing foods, turkey legs, bread bowls with soup, meatballs, sausage on a stick. The list goes on and on for miles. There is something for everyone! You won't leave hungry or thirsty. 

Tips to help make your visit fabulous: 

~ Arrive earlier in the day, this way you can figure out what you want to see and do. Which shows you want to see. We had to stand for a lot of the shows as we arrived and were often rushing from place to place. 

~ There are a million of activities to do for the children, rides, and games, set a limit on how much they can do. Each ride is two dollars, along with the games. Some of the extras such as the bungee jumping and climbing wall were $5. It adds up real quick. 

~Bring cash- there are ATM's but the lines are long and I don't know about you but I didn't travel back in time to stand in lines. 

~ Dress for the weather, you will be in the woods. We were comfortable in long pants and sweatshirts, at the end of the night it got chilly and the mosquitoes were out. 

~Finally, it is a long but exciting day! Enjoy it!

Go on over to US Family Guides and get your coupon for admission of one free child. I promise you won't be disappointed. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Kitchen Table Passport Review

When it comes to travel, you cannot get enough. Alright so maybe that is just me! We all know that money does play a role in where and when your travel. If you are anything like me, you have a wanderlust that is never satisfied:
 "The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read the first page."- St. Augustine


I came across Kitchen Table Passport and knew instantly that I wanted to try it. After all, it combined four of my favorite things, traveling, cooking, learning and subscription boxes. It was a win-win, win-win! 

Don't you just love it! 

Explore the world from your kitchen table. I absolutely fell in love with that slogan. Some background information, Kitchen Table Passport has subscription packages that you can choose a different country every month, 3, 6, 9, 12 month subscriptions, monthly or gift options. There are so many to choose from. 

You package will arrive and the excitement begins! I chose to review the Greece box, it has always been a place that I wanted to visit so why not start off with a night in Greece. 

my welcome card that I used for our dinner display!
My box arrived and let me tell you that my children were very interested in what this was and how they could try it out! I love when they get excited about the same things I do. We couldn't wait to open the box and see all of the treasures that were inside, and this little box was packed. Inside were four main categories, the first is the welcome card. This introduces the country, the meal you are going to hopefully prepare (I mean that is the point of the box!), the mementos with a description. On this card is also a QR code to scan to listen to Greek music as well as enter yourself in a contest for a $50 gift card. 

the box as I opened it for the first time

The second section is the taste pack- these are the spices that you will you use when preparing your meal. This also includes a card with the recipe and some variations for you to try. 

taste pack is the black silk bag and the mementos are in the clear bag. 

The third component is the mementos pack. These are little treasures from your country. Mine were  olive oil soap, ouzo flavored candies and an evil eye pin. 

The final component is the discovery cards: These cards are full of facts and pictures to help you explore your country from your table. 

As you first start, I wanted to sit and just explore the cards for awhile before doing anything else. My children of course at all of the candy, before I could even taste a bite. They told me it was super good (as opposed to just good). When asked for a translation they said "Mama, buy more!"

component pies, and directions on how to have a successful Kitchen Table Passport night. 

The soap was amazing and my hands, well I cannot remember the last time that they were so soft. The evil eye pin had a neat history behind it. It is said that a person who is envious gives the evil eye (or in modern day terms, stank eye). It is said that a baby is not able to ward off the evil effects so you pin this to them and they will be protected. 

We sat down and started to play with all of the cards to just read over them before we actually completed the cooking. My kiddos do not like to try new foods, which still amazes me as I try to incorporate them as much as possible. Just not happening, so you can imagine I was a little nervous about trying a new food. Inside the box was the recipe for Moussaka. It has step by step instructions which really helped with the meal prep. 

I used my QR reader and blasted some Greek music, at first you should have seen my children's eyes. they got so big and they looked at me like I was crazy, you want us to listen to what?

Soon they were dancing around the house and having a good ol' time. I wish I would have thought to take a video, but you are just going to have to believe me. Here is a video of similar music found on the QR code. 

As if that wasn't enough to make you want to visit Greece, (now let me tell you this is one of the places I have always wanted to visit and know nothing about it. My experience comes from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies and My big Fat Greek Wedding!) I was excited to discover some of the different cultural norms that make Greece... well Greece. 

1. Did you know that blue is a popular color in Greece as it is said to ward off evil spirits. That's why doorways and roofs are painted blue. Also that blue eyed people are more likely to give the evil eye (I am in trouble!). 

2. Olives are popular in Greece but most people associate Baklava with Greece but the roots are debatable, some say Greek, some say Persian, some say Turkish. Me say yummy!

3. The Acropolis of Athens is the top tourist attraction and 22.5 million tourists visit each year which is 2x the Greek population. 

Those are just scratching the surface of the information that is available on the cards. We made it a game to see who could come up with the closest correct answer. 

Cards that came in our box, the photographs are incredible
facts and information

There is really no right or wrong ways to participate with the Kitchen Table Passport Box, they have created the box to allow you experience the box in your own way, just as if you are actually stamping your passport and visiting.

I chose to read the cards a head of time to be able to answer questions that my kiddos might have had. I also wanted them to help prepare the food. 

Moussaka- is created in three parts (I'll save you all of the details), it reminded me of a Lasagna with eggplant instead of noodles. It was delicious and I am for sure adding this to our regular meal rotations. Getting the kiddos to try the food was a challenge, as they weren't used to seeing eggplant prepared in such a way. 

broiling the egg plant- step 1

browning the meat and mixing in the onions, spices and tomatoes

layering in the baking dish- missing the top layer

final product

Not only did they love the dish, but they ate the entire thing without leaving leftovers, which doesn't happen very much in my house! There really are no words to describe how much I love this program. There are so many reasons to participate, the best being that you are learning. As a teacher, I am constantly trying to find ways to incorporate more natural learning experiences into our lives and this does just that. 

Picture it (here I go channeling my inner Sophia): you are enhancing your child's palette, broadening their horizons, exploring the world without leaving your house and spending quality time as a family. I'd say that is mission accomplished. 

Check out Kitchen table Passport and get your world travel started today!

"and then I realized that adventures are the best way to learn."

Monday, November 2, 2015

You're indoor adventure awaits: Pittsburgh Mills Sky Trail

Pittsburgh Mills Sky Trail is a 32-foot tall, 2 level ropes course complete with 30 exciting elements including zig-zag beams, cargo nets, angled rope ladders, crisscross walks and more. Participants choose their own path through the elements and go at their own pace. The ropes course is also equipped with a Sky Rail zip line connection measuring 69' long. Participants soar down the length of the ropes course on a self guided zipping experience and are able to enjoy it's thrills over and over. For young adventurers, there's a specially designed Sky Tykes ropes course for kids ages 2-7.

SAVE Ropes Course COUPON Pittsburgh Mills #SkyTrail @SkyTrailMills Ages 2-102 http://pittsburghkidsguide.com/coupon.php?regionid=58&bid=12019&lid=16685&dealid=1955 .

Gift cards available too!

Follow Pittsburgh Mills Sky Trail for more info! Facebook Page: Pittsburgh Mills SkyTrail

I absolutely love adventure activities that allow children to jump around and move! Take an afternoon and visit the Sky trail- tell them Lorren sent you!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ice Cream for Breakfast: Advocare Style

A few years ago I posted about my Ice Cream for Breakfast tradition for my kiddos. As many of you know, waffles aren't the most desirable breakfast, usually you become hungry shortly after eating. When I started living and Advocare lifestyle I had to come up with a way to help the kiddos (and myself) have the fun stuff but remain healthy. Thus, meal replacement shake waffles. Using the shakes to make the waffles give the protein to keep your satisfied but also not just drinking it from a shake. 

The waffles are simple and delicious, you get about two waffles per pouch, we use three in my house. Add one egg, a little bit of water (you want it to be a thicker, this will help it to cook more evenly). You can also had some banana pieces to help it thicken up. Cook the waffles like you would any others. They also easy to make and freeze for those mornings that you are in a rush! 
vanilla mrs shakes cooling off, next to be frozen

Now the ice cream part, cut your waffle into a triangle. This will be your cone. Slice up half of a banana and place above the cone. Add a berry or in this case a piece of grape to top it off. Healthy ice cream and satisfying and healthy waffles. That's my kind of breakfast, life is good.


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