Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Story Countdown to Christmas

 
Every year we wrap up all our Christmas books to put in a basket under the tree and then every night the girls get to open one book for their bedtime story.  They love this tradition - love opening a present, love reading a story as a family and love the anticipation each night of which one it will be!

Grinch feast and movie night

 
One of our favorite traditions is our annual "Grinch dinner" every year.  We eat a feast of "rare roast beast" (beef roast), "who hash" (cheesy sour cream potatoes), "who pudding" (orange fluff jello salad) and Grinch cookies and then watch the Grinch together.

 
RARE WHO ROAST BEAST
This year I just did a traditional beef roast in the crock pot and added au ju to keep it simple.  Sometimes I add ranch dressing mix too.

 
WHO HASH RECIPE
(also known as funeral potatoes, sour cream potatoes or cheesy potatoes)
 
1/2 c butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pt sour cream
1 1/4 c sharp grated cheddar cheese
1 1/3 c chopped green onion
1 package shredded hash browns
1 c crushed corn flakes
2 T melted butter
 
Heat butter, cream of chicken soup, sour cream and cheese.  Add chopped green onion.  Add to frozen hash browns.  Put into greased 13 x 9 pan.  In separate bowl, mix crushed corn flakes and melted butter.  Sprinkle over top of potato mixture.  Refrigerate overnight to let onion flavor blend in.  Bake at 350º for 45 minutes.

 
WHO PUDDING RECIPE
(also known as orange fluff jello salad)
 
1 large package orange jello
1 large package vanilla cook n' serve pudding
3 c water
8 oz cool whip
2 cans mandarin oranges
 
Mix orange jello, vanilla pudding and water together in a saucepan.  Bring to boil.  Let full boil one minute while stirring constantly.  Chill for at least 6 hours (or put in freezer and check every 30 minutes).  Mix well with cool whip.  Stir in drained mandarin oranges and serve chilled.

 
GRINCH COOKIES
I got the recipe for these easy cake mix Grinch crinkle cookies here.

 
We just added some rolls and a vegetable and we had a Grinch feast!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Neighbor gifts - Christmas Tags


Looking for another unique neighbor gift idea?  Give a small bag of homemade gift tags.  It's a gift you're sure will be used!
 
 
For more ideas on homemade Christmas gift tags, check out this post.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Kids Very Own Christmas Tree

I've always thought every little girl needs a Christmas tree of their own in their room.
 

One of my kids' favorite traditions is decorating their very own Christmas tree to keep in their room.  They get to choose from the kid ornaments we have and also homemade ones from past years and decorate it however they want!  It also cuts down on them messing with my tree in our family room because they can decorate and re-decorate their own tree whenever they feel like it!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Neighbor gift ideas - Potpourri bag


My sister, mom and I made these easy potpourri neighbor gifts for just $1.33 per bag!  My sister did these last year and said she got so many compliments and her friends were asking for a second one!

You can't beat the price and people LOVE these! 
Pair it with the card above and you're set.  Want the template?  Just shoot me an email at jessica@utahcountymom.com and I'll send you the document.  All you have to do is add your name and print it out!


Here is the recipe:
1 orange
1/2 c cranberries
2 cinnamon sticks
1 heaping tablespoon whole cloves
a few fresh pine needles (cut off a fresh wreath or garland)


We got everything at Costco (including the ribbon) except the bags and the cloves, which we got on Amazon.  We just set up an assembly line and worked together and talked and in no time at all we had 120 bags made to split between the three of us!

Friday, November 25, 2016

11 reasons I'm obsessed with Maceys Anywhere

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Get 5% off any order of $30 or more by using the coupon code UTAHCOUNTYMOM!  Offer valid 11/25/16 to 12/10/16.
 
This isn't a sponsored post.  I honestly am actually this excited about Maceys Anywhere.
 
At the beginning of this year two of my kids got hand, foot, mouth disease which meant we were quarantined inside (during the winter) for two weeks.  It was miserable.  My husband is a firefighter and works 48-hour shifts so when they were diagnosed and I NEEDED groceries, I was stuck.  I had seen the ads for Maceys Anywhere but wasn't very interested in trying it, but seeing as we couldn't even live off of cereal for two days until he got home because we were out of milk, I decided to give it a try.
 
"Okay, I guess I'm that person," I told myself as I downloaded the app on my phone, "but only for this week."  I guess I viewed ordering your groceries online as something lavish and extravagant, like getting someone to do your lawn or clean your house, something I would LOVE to do but don't have the funds to justify it.
 
I was wrong.  After just the first time I tried it, I was hooked.  Here are the 11 reasons why:
 
1.  I don't have to grocery shop with three kids.  I don't have to!  This was one of the hardest parts of my week.  I would try to fit groceries between kids in the cart while trying to keep them all happy, still trying to get a good deal and remember everything I needed.  I used to leave the store every week frazzled.  Now I order and pay for my groceries online, park in the designated parking spot just for Maceys Anywhere pickup, text the number listed with my confirmation code and they bring it out and put it in my trunk without me having to even unbuckle.  I don't even have to get my kids out of their car seats.
 
2.  I actually save a lot of money because it's easier to budget.  Before I would make a grocery list for the things I needed that week and go to the store and sometimes it would be a lot more than I had expected.  Before my only option was really to say "okay!  I guess I'm going to be spending $120 on groceries this week!" where now I see how much it's going to be and more than once have said to myself something like "ooo...maybe I should rethink grilling steak the same week I am upping my food storage" and am able to go back in and change around what I was going to make to fit better within the budget my husband and I have set.  This has been a game changer for me.  I end up spending a lot less while still making well thought out and healthy meals.  It's $1.99 to use this service (and they don't accept tips!) but I save well over that from just this concept alone.
 
3.  I save money because it cuts down on the impulse buying.  Sometimes when I shop when I'm hungry, pregnant, nursing, etc I see all of this stuff as I walk through the store and leave buying way more than intended.  "Oh those oreos look good." "Ben n Jerry's is on sale?!?"  "I haven't had a roasted artichoke since high school!"  Sound familiar?  Shopping with Maceys Anywhere cuts back on the impulse buying but I still get everything I actually need.
 
4.  I save so much time.  Instead of me planning most of my morning to be grocery shopping, I just stop by on the way home from story time at the library or while I'm out doing other errands.  I get so much more done when I don't have to devote a huge part of the morning or afternoon to shopping.
 
5.  Speaking of saving time, I do my grocery shopping while I'm nursing.  Every week.  Nurse the baby, buy the groceries online.  It's a time I have found that works for me because the baby is being good and I have little else I could be doing with my time to distract me.
 
6.  I rarely forget things because I am not trying to look through my list as I walk through isles and can look at my recipes as I am making up my order online.  Also, I love to add whatever I run out of to my cart in my app online as I run out of it through the week, keeping a running "grocery list" right in my cart so my next order I just add the remaining things I need for meals and check out.
 
7.  When I do forget things, I just text Macey's anywhere and have them add it to my order before I pick it up.  This has only happened once but they were happy to make the change.  I just texted the same number you text when you arrive to pick it up and said "oh shoot, I just realized I need cloves too.  Can you add that to my order?" and then they not only agreed but sent me a PICTURE MESSAGE of what they found to make sure it was the right one.  You guys.  It doesn't get better than this!!
 
8.  Not only do they text you if they have questionsabout your order but sometimes they find a better product for less money and they will text and clarify for that too!  Once I ordered my kids' Easter candy for their Easter baskets online and ordered a chocolate bunny.  Maceys Anywhere texted me after I submitted the order and said they found the same chocolate bunny by the same brand but bigger that was actually cheaper because of a sale.  They asked if I wanted the bigger one for less money and when I did they adjusted my order accordingly.
 
9.  Speaking of Easter, I LOVE that I can now buy candy for Valentines day presents, Easter baskets and Christmas stockings without having to worry about going shopping a second time without my kids to save the surprise.  I just browse through the candy on the app, choose what I want and have them load it up into my trunk for me without my kids having any idea.
 
10.  I save money because both Rosie and Maceys Anywhere send me emails periodically with coupon codes, sales and promotions.  For example, this week they sent out $5 off any order for the first 40 to order and the week of Father's Day I got a free steak.
 
11.  Finally, Maceys trains the people who pick your groceries to pick the best produce.  I have never had a problem with the produce I have received.  There is a spot where you can write a note on each product if you want and I use that to say things like "I'm using two avocados today and two on Friday" so they pick my produce accordingly.  Sure enough, my groceries will arrive and I will have two avocados ready to eat and two that are a little more firm, just like I wanted.  Same goes for bananas.  I just add a note "I want to eat these immediately" or "I want them a little more green, they are for a recipe later in the week" and that helps them know what I am looking for.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Yogurtland in Orem

Enter on Facebook or Instagram for your chance to win one of TWO $10 gift cards to Yogurtland so you can take your family and have as much fun as we did!
 
We took our kids to Yogurtland this week to try the new flavors inspired by the Trolls movie.  Our kids love Yogurtland because they can choose whatever they want and I love it because it tastes so good everyone likes it!
 
 
Never tried it?  Here's how it works.  It's fun, especially for kids.

 
First you grab a bowl.

 
Then fill it with frozen yogurt.  They have tons of flavors to choose from and even let you sample them before you commit (which is my kids' favorite part).

 
Next add on as many or little toppings as you want.  My 6-year-old loves doing it herself and asks to come here all the time.

 
There are a lot of toppings to choose from.

 
Once you're done you weigh it and pay.  The yogurt below was just over $3 and the cup is actually pretty big so I thought it was a reasonable sized portion.

 
My favorite of the Trolls flavors was the blue sugar cookie, which my 3-year-old chose.

 
A new Trolls inspired flavor is coming out each week or so until December 18 so run in and try them while they're there!

5-minute Thanksgiving Place Cards


Hobby Lobby has all of their fall décor on sale for 70% off so I picked these tiny pumpkins up for pennies.  In just 5 minutes I had an easy place card for Thanksgiving all ready to go!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Tree Room

Tonight was magical.
Enter on Facebook or Instagram for your chance to win a gift certificate for dinner for two at the Tree Room so you can have your own magical night like the one I had below!
 Our 11 year anniversary is on Saturday and to celebrate my husband wanted to take me to a nice restaurant.  Have you ever noticed that there aren't a lot of options for fine dining in the Orem/Provo area?  We have been to a few nice places in Salt Lake but didn't have as much time tonight so wanted to stay somewhere closer.
Somebody suggested the Tree Room at Sundance.  Neither of us had been so we decided to try it.  I am so glad we did! 
 This place was really nice.  Really nice.  If you're looking to splurge on a really nice date or celebrate a special occasion, I highly recommend it. 
 First they brought us out a "gift from the chef" to cleanse our palate.  I don't remember everything that was in it but I do remember there was salmon and cucumbers.  I don't like salmon or cucumbers but I was impressed.  I decided to try it and am glad I did.  I think that says something. 
 Next came the bread.  This roll was amazing.  I don't remember what was in it but I took my first bite and started chewing slower and slower because the flavors tasted so good I didn't want to swallow.  Okay, it sounds like I am totally exaggerating and being dramatic but I'm not.  It was really that good. 
 For our starter we ordered pork belly, which served on a bed of lentils, Brussels sprouts and apple mostarda.  My husband worked for a very high-end catering company for 10 years so sometimes gourmet food is lost on him.  He's probably a little harder to impress because he had it so much when he worked catering but as we ate that pork belly he kept saying "this is really good". 
 We both ordered the Tree Room Pepper Steak (the most popular entrée on the menu), served with spinach, buttermilk mashed potatoes and mango chutney.  It was a great choice and if I were to go back I would probably order the same thing. 
 For dessert we ordered...well I forgot what it is called but it was basically a cream puff but instead of cream it was filled with three different flavors of ice cream, all covered in their house-made chocolate sauce.  I loved it because it was something unique I hadn't ever tried before. 
 Finally, with the check they brought out two chocolates.  They were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. 
 It really was magical.

The Tree Room is open for dinner only.  Weekends are pretty busy, as are event days or heavy ski nights and you likely won't get in without a reservation those days so plan ahead.  I talked to one person who has been twice and both times has seen celebrities eating there!
 
Dress is nice casual - jeans are okay or dress pants.  If you wear a nice dress/suit you might feel over dressed.
 
The atmosphere was a lot of fun.  There was a crackling fire and it was nice because guests are required to be 12 years or older to dine there.  I hate getting a sitter and splurging for a nice fancy restaurant only to be seated next to a family with loud kids who are having a hard time behaving.  I'm not going to lie, I was a fan of the no kid policy.
 
It was a perfect place to celebrate our anniversary and I can't wait to go back again at some point!

Provo Library Story Time

 
We love story time at the Provo Library!  We try to go once a week.  We frequent both "Toddler Time" and "Preschool Time".
 
Toddler Time is geared toward 1-2 year olds and includes learning about a letter, songs, a story and a puppet show.  Anyone of any age is welcome and it's held in the Story Circle.
 
Preschool Time is only for children ages 3-5 years old.  Parents can watch through live feed being shown on a TV outside the room but do not go into the story room with the children.  They are, however, asked to stay close.  Once the story time has started, the door is closed and latecomers are encouraged to go to Toddler Time instead.  Children must first get a name tag at the children's area desk on the way in so make sure to get there around 5 minutes before it actually starts to make sure they get in.

 
My kids honestly love this activity.  They sing the songs all week and my 3-year-old's favorite has always been the puppet show.  We have been to a few other story times at other libraries but this one is by far our favorite.
 
 
I love it because it's free, interactive, educational and isn't too long.  I can still get out of the house and feel like I did something with them but a half hour or hour of fun is sometimes easier to manage than a museum or movie or something on a busier day.
 
I also love that it gets me to the library regularly to check out books (and kids movies) for them.  They love it when I read to them and studies have shown letting them pick out their own books helps encourage them to love reading more.
 
The Provo library story time schedule can be found here:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Corn husk art project - Thanksgiving celebrations

 
If you're looking for a Thanksgiving craft to do with kids, this is a pretty easy one.
 
Hobby Lobby had candy corn on sale for 31 cents a bag yesterday so we decided to make some of these corn husks with them.
 
 
It was a fun project both my 6-year-old and 3-year-old liked and both could do pretty much the whole thing by themselves.  (I did help the 3-year-old with the drawing and cutting).
 
 
It was a pretty fast art project so if the husks were already cut out it would be a great idea for a class party!

Caramel Apple Cider recipe


I found these cute mugs at Target yesterday so I made up a batch of my favorite caramel apple cider.  This cider is one of my favorite things to whip up when I have guests over.  It tastes like a warm apple pie, probably because of the secret ingredient - caramel ice cream topping!
 
8 cups apple cider (I just buy the Western Family brand - anything will do)
3 T caramel ice cream topping syrup
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
 
Mix together, warm and top with spray whipped cream and drizzle with some of that caramel syrup.  Sometimes I make a batch up using the whole container of apple cider (and adjusting the amounts of the other ingredients accordingly) and then after we drink it I pour it back into the apple cider container and keep it in the fridge so I can have just one mug without having to make a whole batch.  Then when unexpected visitors arrive you can pull it out, heat it in the microwave and top with whipped cream and caramel and they'll be super impressed!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Don't forget to enter our HUGE giveaway!

 
Just another Utah county mom is back and to celebrate I'm giving away a $100 gift card to Toys R Us - just in time for Black Friday!
TO ENTER:
 You can enter on Facebook or Instagram (or both!)  All you have to do is like our page, like the post and comment what your favorite date night is.  THAT'S IT!  It couldn't be easier!
 
Giveaway ends at midnight (Utah time) on November 23, 2016 - just in time for Black Friday shopping! One winner will be chosen at random and must live in the US. Good luck!

Turkey shaped turkey sandwiches


Celebrating the Thanksgiving season with turkey shaped turkey sandwiches for lunch today.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

5 love languages for kids

 
In college I took a class on the 5 love languages for adults and loved it.  I use what I learned in my relationships all the time, especially in my marriage.  That's why I was so excited when I went to a church activity several months ago and they gave us a handout on the 5 love languages - for children!  I went home and had my girls both take the quiz right away.
 
For those of you not familiar with the five love languages, it has to do with how one gives or receives love.  The five languages - words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time spent together, receiving gifts and physical touch can be expressed or received in different ways.
 
For example, my husband's go to language to express his love tends to be acts of service but that isn't necessarily how I receive love.  If we have a disagreement or if I'm sad, he will get to work doing dishes, wiping down walls, whatever he can think of to show me how much he loves me.  However, he can do all the dishes in the world and it won't mean as much to me as if he just spends quality time with just me or buys me flowers.  I'm happy the dishes were done but it doesn't make me feel very loved.  Does that make one language better than another?  Of course not.  By recognizing how we both express and receive love helps us both to meet each other's needs and also recognize the love the other one is trying to give.
 
I could go on and on about how this helps me in my marriage but that isn't what this post is about.  Back to the kids.
 
It makes sense that my daughters, although young, would have love languages that make them feel loved more than others as well.  The quiz here is for 9 to 12-year-olds but I gave it to my 6 and 3-year-old anyway and it's been really helpful as a parent.
 
I figured my oldest daughter would have "quality time" at or near the top, as she hates to be alone and it seems really important to her to do things together.  What I didn't anticipate is how important to her "receiving gifts" is.
 
Also, something that was very interesting with this daughter was that I gave her the quiz once and asked which she would prefer coming from me.  Then I had her take the quiz a second time and asked which she would prefer coming from her dad.  From me physical touch was at the bottom with only 2 points for that category.  She has always been a daddy's girl though so coming from her dad physical touch was actually at the top.  She loves it when her dad holds her and it helps her feel safe and loved.  Coming from me doesn't have the same effect though, which is interesting to know.
 
We did this quiz months ago and I talked with my husband about the results.  Since then, it has been really valuable to me because if my daughter is having a harder time or needs some extra love, I know how to reach out to her.  I buy her a little gift - even just a sucker from the store or 50 cent notebook and leave it on her bed or pull her aside and give it to her.  Her face lights up and she feels loved and appreciated.  She talks about it for weeks.
 
If the need for love is more immediate and I can't run to the store, I spend good, quality time with her.  I put on a movie for my younger kids and play a short card game - with just her - or let her stay up 10 minutes past bed time to get some good one-on-one time together.  Sometimes when she is having a hard day and can't seem to obey or stop picking on her sisters this is all it takes to kick her out of it.  It's amazing how powerful helping someone feel loved is.
 
My 3-year-old couldn't be more different.  If I got her a sucker at the store she would probably take two licks and put it down or forget to eat it at all.  Even if it was a toy she really wanted, she would be thrilled I got it for her but it wouldn't make her feel any more loved.  It wouldn't make her feel closer to me.  My 3-year-old's love language is touch.  That girl loves to be cuddled.  She stops her play multiple times a day to come give me a hug and tell me that I'm "the best mommy eber".  When she is having a hard time I stop everything and just hold her - sometimes for up to half an hour.  Cuddle her, stroke her hair, tickle her back, whatever it takes.  It calms her right down.
 
I love what I learned from giving my girls these quizzes.  I highly recommend it.  It's made me a better parent.  Sometimes the way people receive love doesn't come naturally but knowing what they need to help feel loved and valued makes it so much easier to reach them in a way they will actually feel loved.
 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Christmas cards on a budget - the easy way!

I picked up my Christmas cards today!  Yes...I know it's only November 12 but it was SO easy and such a good deal I couldn't resist.
Can you believe I got 100 double-sided custom photo Christmas cards WITH envelopes for just $25?!?  They were even printed and ready to pick up the same day!  What's more...I think if you are a new customer you get an extra 25% off your first order!
Check out this deal on Groupon from Staples!  You don't have to buy 100 - you can also buy 25 for just $8.  Plan ahead and order them now so you aren't stressed later trying to get it taken care of.

Thanksgiving Point Museum of Ancient Life

 
 
I took my girls to the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point today.  We love our Thanksgiving Point membership and the Museum of Ancient Life is my 3-year-old's favorite museum.  I love it because it's so big it never feels very crowded.

 
The first area has a rotating exhibit.  Right now there is a geometry playground my kids have fun climbing around on.

 
My favorite part is watching the real paleontologists work on real fossils.

 
My kids could play at the sand/water table for hours making habitats for their dinosaurs.
 
 
I can't get enough of this girl.  Isn't she the cutest watching her sisters play?!?  But really.

 
My kids also love playing in the sand digging up their own dinosaur fossils.  We honestly love this museum and I think it's definitely worth going.  If you are local, I would seriously consider getting a Thanksgiving Point membership.  We use ours all the time.  Also, I just found this out but did you know your membership is tax deductible?
 
For more information on hours, events and ticket prices, check out their website here.
 
*The first picture is from the Thanksgiving Point website but the other pictures are mine*