Dallas Mom Blog and Fort Worth Mom Blogger: Trendy Mom Reviews
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Sunday, September 15, 2019

We Love that Yowie Makes it Fun to Learn About Ecological Conservation!


You've probably noticed Yowie treats at stores such as World Market. (They've also handed them out at the Dallas Zoo in the past!) Perhaps their whimsical packaging caught your attention. There are a lot of reasons to love these trendy little treats, including everything from the delicious taste to the educational fun of learning about ecological conservation.

In mid-90’s Australia, a confectionary company named Yowie Group introduced the mission of educating children about the natural world. Decades later, Yowie is making a comeback in the United States with their same mission: empowering kids and their parents to make a difference in ecological conservation. Each treat includes a delicious sweet treat with a surprise collectible animal and full color leaflet. Even better, They can learn more about the topic by scanning links on the leaflet with a mobile device to download the free YowieCollector app on the AppStore or Google Play as the brand has quickly adapted to the interactive, tech-focused world that children now live in. Yowie makes it fun to learn about ecological conservation. Who doesn't love a good treat and engaging educational fun?!

Let me share a few examples of our favorite Yowie products.


Yowie currently has a limited edition collection of Yowie Chocolate Surprise Eggs that contain Wild Water creatures.  For instance, you'll see that we broke one open below and it contained a beautiful seahorse. I won't ruin the surprises for you, but I will share that it came with a nice full-color insert and then we were able to use their app to learn more. My oldest son is obsessed!


Yowie Gummies are my personal favorite. They come with generously sized gummies, a collectible animal figure, and a full color insert about the animal. Again, you are able to use the app to learn more! The gummies rock my preschooler's  little world!



Yowie Bites are also a lot of fun. They come with two delicious chocolates, an animal figure, a full color insert about the animal, and a puzzle piece. Our family loves these treats, plus we are excited to work on the puzzle together. Fingers crossed that we are able to build it soon!



We hope that you enjoyed this glimpse into the whimsical and educational world of Yowie treats!
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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Recipe: Spider Web Pumpkin Pancakes



Recipe: Spider Web Pumpkin Pancakes
Ingredients:

Dry ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Wet ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Directions:
1. Preheat a non-stick frying pan over low heat.

2. Mix the dry ingredients together.


3. Beat the egg and then mix it with all of the wet ingredients until smooth.

4. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until smooth. There should not be any lumps.

5. Strain the pancake mix into a condiment dispenser. (Sometimes the pumpkin is a bit chunky, so this will help to prevent the tip of your dispenser from becoming clogged.)

6. Squeeze the pancake mix onto the pan in the shape of a spider web.

7. Allow to cook for 1 to 3 minutes total, flipping when you see bubbles start to appear on the spiderweb.

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(Win it!) Tips for Back to School Lunches - Featuring Entenmann's Little Bites Muffins #LoveLittleBites #BackToSchool


Fall is in the air!  I love the Back-to-School season where we start new routines and are filled with hope and dreams for the future.  I recently attended a parenting class and learned that there are approximately 900+ weeks until our children move out and go to college. We are more than half way there with our oldest son.  It was a fun class and we had many fun exercises such as reflecting on things that we think that our children will always remember. Personally, one of the things that I think that my children will remember is that I always put special effort into their lunches. I always tried to make their lunches special. So, in today's post, I thought that I would share some Back-to-School lunch ideas that made their way into my children's lunch boxes! You'll notice that a little dessert is their favorite part of lunch.  Right now, I'm using Entenmann's Little Bites muffins in Pumpkin Spice and Crumb Cake varieties. Their products are quick and easy to add to lunches.

Tips for Back to School Lunches - Featuring Entenmann's Little Bites Muffins


1. Include protein in their lunch.

We always include protein in their lunches. One of my children loves turkey roll-ups or sandwiches. My youngest doesn't really like meat, so we often include yogurt, hummus, beans, and/or cheese in his lunches. School is exhausting, so packing protein into their lunches is important.

2. Add fresh fruits and veggies.
As I mentioned earlier, we have just over 900 weeks to raise our children before they go to college. That means that we have plenty of lunches to make for them. Adding fresh fruits and veggies to their lunches is a great way to make healthy eating a habit.  My oldest son is all about carrots, cucumbers, and strawberries. My youngest loves broccoli and apple slices. We try be generous with their favorites, but also put a smaller quantity of other fruits and veggies in their lunches too in order to encourage variety.

3. Include a drink to hydrate them.
If your children are like mine, they often forget to slow down to hydrate. Include a small bottle of water, juice, or milk with their lunch to help with hydration.

4. Don't skimp on dessert.
If you ask my children, the best part of lunch is dessert! My children are big fans of Entenmann's Little Bites because they taste great.  These soft and moist treats are delicious and do not use high fructose corn syrup or trans fats. Their recipes use real strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and more. The tiny little muffins are great portion sizes too. They come in varieties such as Chocolate Chip, Blueberry, Party Cake, Fudge Brownies, Banana, and more. As I mentioned, we are currently obsessed Pumpkin Spice and Crumb Cake.  They are fun to dress up too - add frosting, sprinkles, or even monster eyes like we did below. You may even make Mini Muffin kabobs. The opportunities are endless!


5. Add notes with jokes and/or words of encouragement to lunches.
My children love that I add a joke to their lunches everyday. I joined a Facebook group that features daily jokes and print some of my favorites to put into their lunch boxes. I love when they come home and giggle about a joke that I shared with them.



Win it!
One lucky winner will receive (1) $25 Visa digital gift card and (3) coupons for $5.00 off the purchase of any Entenmann’s Little Bites snacks.  Enter using the Rafflecopter below. The winner will have 72 hours to respond to our email with their shipping address. Otherwise, we will select a different winner.  The winner must have a U.S. shipping address. The coupons for product redemption, information, and gift card have been provided by Entenmann’s Little Bites snacks so that I could try the product and share my thoughts and information about Entenmann’s Little Bites snacks. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not reflect the opinions of Entenmann’s Little Bites snacks.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Tips for Low Key Halloween Costumes for Teens

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! It's magical as a child, but should also be magical for teens. While they have outgrown Trick-or-Treat, it's fun to dress up for school, attend parties, or even just stay at home to hand out candy to younger children. At the same time, some teens may pretend like they aren't interested in Halloween. That's why we decided to write a post that contains low keey Halloween costumes for teens!

1. Wear a themed zip up costume hoodie.
I think that every teen enjoys casual hoodies. TVStoreOnline.com has trendy hoodies that could be worn on any day, but are especially great for Halloween. For instance, my son rocks the Star Wars Captain Phasma Poly Zip Up Costume Hoodie




This hoodie also looks great from the side. It's pretty good for a teen who wasn't going to dress up, right?!




2. Wear a super hero themed t-shirt.

T-shirts are also popular with the teen crowed. Look for anything from a Star Wars t-shirt to a Super Hero t-shirt to a Big Bang Theory t-shirt.  TVStoreOnline.com is our favorite store to look for costumes and themed t-shirts.

3. Add a simple Harry Potter robe to any outfit.
Some teens are going to claim that they don't want to dress up on Halloween, but they will change their mind at the last minute. Order a Harry Potter Robe and put it into your closet so that you are able to pull it out for them on Halloween. It's such a simple thing to slip over their outfit and your Harry Potter loving teens will love it!



My son is a fan of Ravenclaw, but their store has all of the different patches.




4. Wear Orange clothing.Head strong teens may completely shun costumes, so order a simple orange t-shirt for them to wear. It's understated and perfect for some teens.

5. Use face paint.
Draw a simple spider web on your teens face with face paint or black eyeliner. It's quick, easy, and festive!

We hope that you enjoyed these tips and that they get your teen into the Halloween spirit!
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Recipe: Easy Peach Cobbler with Bisquick


Recipe: Easy Peach Cobbler with Bisquick
Ingredients
1 cup Bisquick mix
1 cup milk
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar 
6 to 8 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Stir the Bisquick™ mix, milk and nutmeg in an ungreased 9"x13"-inch baking dish. Stir in melted butter until blended. 

3. Stir together sugar and peaches; spoon over batter. 

4. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden brown.
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Recipe for Easy S'mores Cookies with Marshmallows, Chocolate, and Graham Crackers


Ingredients
1 cup of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
2 eggs

2 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1/3 teaspoon of ground cinnamon spice

1/3 cup of quick oats
1 cup of chocolate chips
1 cup of mini marshmallows
1/2 cup of graham crackers pieces (about 1/4" in diameters)


Directions
1. Preheat the over to 350-degrees

2. Mix the butter, sugars, vanilla, and eggs.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

4. Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

5. Add the oats and mix well.

6. Hand stir the chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and graham cracker pieces. 



7. Add generous scoops of cookie dough approximately 3" apart on cookie sheets that are lined with parchment paper.  We've baked this recipe many times and recommend approximately 1 Tablespoon of dough per cookie, but we've also gone larger!

8. Bake for approximately 17 minutes or until golden brown on the edges and the center of the cookie is soft.  

9. Allow to cool slightly and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.






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Recipe: Zucchini and Tomato Stir Fry

Recipe: Zucchini and Tomato Stir Fry
Ingredients:
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2tbs olive oil
  • 5 small tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 pint of sliced mushrooms
Directions
1. Sauté garlic in oil until fragrant. 
2. Add sliced or chopped tomatoes. 
3. Cook 4 minutes. 
4. Add zucchini and mushrooms. 
5. Cook 10 minutes stirring frequently.
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A 30 Day Decluttering Challenge with Calendar and How Decluttering Changed My Life



I recently took on a 30 Day Decluttering Challenge that surprisingly helped me with anxiety and helped me to feel much happier.  I didn't realize how much this decluttering challenge would boost my spirits until I was a bit over halfway through the challenge and saw major difference.  Let me start with a quick overview of the challenge:

  • What: 30 Day Decluttering Challenge
  • Time Allocation: A minimum of 15 minutes per day for the duration of the challenge
  • How: Remove items from your home that you no longer need and consider using these methods to get rid of them:
    • Gift items to friends and family (We gave a lot of items to friends with children who are younger than our children. We emailed photos of available items on a weekly basis for people to claim what they wanted!)
    • Sell items
    • Donate items
    • Recycle or track items
  • Measure your progress so that you are able to reflect on your accomplishments:
    • Cubic footage of items removed
    • Amount of money for selling items
    • Amount of time spent on tasks
    • Keep a journal of what you completed each day
Personally, the consistency was important to me. Whether it was the minimum 15 minutes/day or a super productive 8 hours/day, consistent contributions made me feel like I was moving forward. I had days where I spent the entire day decluttering a room and removed as much as 7 cubic feet worth of items. I had other days where I only did the bare minimum of 15 minutes and didn't even declutter 1 cubic foot, i.e., I went through papers and shredded things or took items that I sold on eBay to the post office.  I kept a journal because it helped my motivation to reflect on my progress.  The daily journal contained:
  • Day (1...30)
  • Description of progress
  • Measurement of the amount of items removed in cubic feet
  • Amount of money received for items that were sold
  • Cumulative cubic feet to-date
  • Cumulative money to-date
I kept a written journal, but let me share a few graphs that show my progress.  You'll notice that there isn't really a trend to the amount of decluttering or sales each day.  While I set a goal to spend a minimum of 15 minutes/day on decluttering, I informally set a goal in my head to try to reach one cubic foot of decluttering each day.  However, I wasn't strict with the one cubic foot/day goal because I didn't know how much clutter was in our house. (It became more challenging toward the end!) As I mentioned earlier, there were days when I didn't reach the goal of one cubic foot/day because it took me a while to go through papers to figure out what to shred or scan. I also had to take items to a donation center or the post office which took time.  In the end, we decluttered 58 cubic feet. (I feel embarrassed to admit this, but at least the majority of the items went to other people who could use them and very little went to the trash. Having two children that outgrew various things accounted for a large amount of the space.) 

Here is a graph of my daily progress in terms of cubic footage.


Here is a graph of my cumulative progress in terms of cubic footage.



Another measurement of my productivity was the amount of money from items that I sold.  This was not one of my primary goals because I was much happier to give things away.  I don't enjoy selling items because I find the "people aspect" of scheduling and meeting up to be a hassle. I am also not a big eBay fan because I was once scammed on eBay and they sided with the buyer.  In any case, I did sell some items and surprised myself that the money added up quickly. Sure, I lost money if you think about how much we spent on items compared to the peanuts that we sold them for, but they were sunk costs of things that we really didn't use anymore.  For instance, my baby never liked his baby swing and it was easy to sell for half of what we paid. We paid $100 and sold it for $50.  In the end, we collected a good amount of money by selling items that were taking space without being useful to us.   (Again, I feel guilty that we had that much stuff just sitting around, but am glad that the items went to people who could use them and that we received some of our investment back from the money spent on the items.)

Here is a graph of my daily progress in terms of dollars.


Here is a graph of my cumulative progress in terms of dollars.



Now that you've seen my progress, let me share my decluttering calendar.  In general, I recommend that you do whatever makes sense for your personal situation, but for me, I thought that a calendar like this would be helpful for those days when I felt like, "I don't know what to do today..."  You will be able to skim my calendar and see if there is anything that make sense for your personal situation. You will also notice that every Wednesday was an "*EMAIL DAY." Throughout my decluttering, I took photos of items that I was getting rid of and sent weekly photos to family and friends to offer for them to take anything that I was cleaning out.  This was a fun way to keep my momentum since others enjoyed being part of my decluttering mission.



After completing a 30 Day Decluttering Challenge, I feel happier and realize that the extra "stuff" was causing me anxiety and weighing me down.  In some ways, I understand how it happened. Our lives have changed in many ways over the years. When we were first married, we had more time for recreation such as riding our bicycles together or individual projects like crafts, sports, and more.  When our children were young, they needed various things that they quickly outgrew. (That baby bathtub was truly useful for the first few months! The special infant carrier was also handy.  I don't think that I could have lived without our Baby Bjorn at the time. The list is long...)   However, where we went wrong was that we did not regularly reflect on the changes in our lives and declutter at the appropriate phases of life. We allowed clutter to build for several years.  These were the downsides of not decluttering sooner:
  • The clutter cost us space. 
  • The clutter cost us time in terms of cleaning or even when we needed to search for items that were hidden behind clutter. We even moved clutter from one house to another.  
  • The clutter cost us money as we could have sold many items for more if we sold them when they weren't as old.  
  • The clutter cost us a bit in terms of anxiety as we were surrounded by "stuff" and an ongoing thought hanging over us that we needed to declutter.   
Now that the decluttering is done, our home is cleaner and life is more efficient.  The outcome was wonderful for us.  It was a lot of work, but there were some bright spots along the way:
  • We emailed or texted photos of random items to friends and family to ask if they wanted anything.  I'm sure that they thought that I was crazy at times (like, what are you doing with so many Star Wars costumes?), but they appreciated our thoughtfulness and were kind to support us with the Decluttering Challenge.  It was fun when people wanted items.
  • We dropped off donations and appreciated that the items would probably go to good use.
  • We sold items to people who were often excited and appreciated the great deals.
  • We collected several hundred dollars that we put to good use
  • We were able to reorganize our home, including everything from entire rooms to cabinets so that things looked nicer and were easier to find
Now that the 30 Day Decluttering Challenge is over, I feel proud of my accomplishments.  It was easier to let go of "things" than I imagined. I surprisingly let go over some anxiety too.  I'd like to say that we purchase fewer things after the decluttering challenge, but really, our habits were never that excessive.  We are just better about letting go of things sooner rather than later.  For instance, once my husband finishes playing a video game, he trades it in promptly rather than letting games fill a shelf. Once soccer season is over, we donate the uniform and move on.  I've also held on to the "consistency" aspect of the challenge, but instead of decluttering for a minimum of 15 minutes/day, I spend a minimum of 15 minutes/day speed cleaning. I set a timer and clean as much as possible in 15 minutes. It's a great way to direct some of my energy!

Good luck in your decluttering endeavors. I hope that you find bright spots along the way and feel a sense of accomplishment!



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How to Get the Best Deal on the Market for a Sam's Club Membership


Deal alert for Texas residents only - Get the best Sam's Club Membership discount on the market and a Sam's Club gift card bonus!  It's limited to the first 500 people! Get the deal here.

I was excited to find this deal because I was debating about whether I wanted to join Costco or Sam's Club.  I recently tagged along to both with a friend so that I could try to figure out which one would work best for my family. Some things were a tie - they both basically had the staples that I wanted such as good deals on milk, eggs, produce, yogurt, and chicken breast. There were a couple of unique items that one store had and the other didn't, but they weren't things that I would buy on a regular basis. For instance, Costco had a pretty cool cheese sampler that was calling my name. (Although, I decided that it would be better to stick to my diet.)  On the other hand, Sam's Club has the bags of popcorn that we love and smaller bags of broccoli that perfectly fit the size of our family.  In the end, I decided that Sam's Club was a better fit because of the items that we buy most often. I also appreciated that their ease of parking and self checkout make my visits quick.   Once I saw the deal that I mentioned above though, it was a no-brainer -- with the special membership discount and bonus gift card, the best choice for us was obviously Sam's Club.  

The deal is limited to the first 500 Texans. Good luck getting in on the deal!
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Recipe: Skillet Chicken Parmesan


Recipe: Skillet Chicken Parmesan
Ingredients

  • 1 pound of chicken breast, sliced into thin pieces to fit the size of your skillet
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cans of tomato paste
  • 2 fresh tomatoes
  • 1 ball of buffalo mozzarella
  • Optional: fresh basil
Directions
1. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper.

2. Heat the olive oil in the skillet and then cook the chicken.

3. Remove the chicken and add the garlic, tomato paste, and chopped fresh tomato to the skillet over low heat, stirring frequently for approximately 7 to 10 minutes.

4. Add the chicken back to the skillet, covering it with the tomato sauce.

5. Add slices of the buffalo mozzarella on top of each piece of chicken.

6. Carefully remove the skillet from the stovetop and place in the (oven) broiler for approximately 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese begins to brown and bubble.  (Remember - the skillet and contents are extremely hot, so be extra careful when moving it!)


7. Allow to cool and then serve over pasta.




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Skillet Recipe: Lemon Gnocchi with Mascarpone

Ingredients

  • 1 package of gnocchi 
  • 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped pine nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated pepper
  • Optional: 2 Tablespoons of lemon zest

Directions
1. Add the olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat.

2. Cook the gnocchi and garlic in the skillet until lightly browned.

3. Stir the lemon juice, mascarpone cheese, Parmesan, pine nuts, salt and freshly grated pepper and then carefully pour into the skillet, frequently stirring frequently for approximately 15 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.

4. Sprinkle the chopped basil into the skillet and stir.

5. Allow to cool before serving.

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Recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins - A Way to Use Up Ripe Bananas


Recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins - A Way to Use Up Ripe Bananas
Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 mashed ripe bananas 
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees.

2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. Set aside.

3. Beat the egg, melted butter, and vanilla extract.

4. Mix the mashed bananas into the wet mixture.

5. Add the mixture of dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix until well blended.

6. Stir in the chocolate chips.

7. Spoon the batter into greased cupcake pans.  You should fill them approximately 2/3 of the way full.

8. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

9. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then move to a wire rack.  

10. Serve approximately 20 minutes after cooling or store them in an airtight container. I have also frozen these muffins and pulled them out the night before that I wanted to serve them for breakfast.

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