Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Kid Nutrition While on Vacation

Ahhh.... Vacation...  We have been so long overdue for a vacation (like 4 and 1/2 yrs overdue) that we decided to squeeze 3 separate trips into 2 months.  The first trip was kid free...(Ahhh, again!)  We cruised the Caribbean with a great bunch of friends and had an absolute relaxing, recharging blast.  Margaritas never tasted so good.
A Margarita for Margarita!
The next vacation was just for the boys and I; we flew to Florida to visit my in laws for a week.  This is just what we all needed to cure our spring fever blues.  Spring has technically been here a few weeks now, but Mother Nature apparently didn't get the memo. Either that, or she's playing a freezing, icy, snowy, bitter cold, blustery joke on us.  The Florida sunshine felt wonderful and being outside in the fresh air (and in the pool, and at the park, and at the ice cream stand!) reminded me of warmer, brighter days ahead at home.
Florida Fun!
 Before our cruise started, my hubby and I decided to follow a 28-day diet, of sorts called the Fast Metabolism Diet. It's based on a book written by Haylie Pomroy; The Fast Metabolism Diet: Eat More Food and Lose More Weight.  All science aside, the meal plans are easy to follow and make a lot of sense.   Haylie even came out with a cookbook to help you be creative during the 28-day plan called  The Fast Metabolism Diet Cookbook.  We already have a bunch of obscure meal ingredients in our home (brown rice, quinoa, cashew butter, tahini, etc), so start-up wasn't too much of an investment for us.  There are some restrictions (diet is gluten free, caffeine free, dairy free, sugar free, soy free, and banana free), but those restrictions can always be altered to your specific needs; dietary or financial.  We completed the 28-days and still continue to adhere to the plan as much as we can.

On our cruise, we didn't hold back.  That being said, I didn't overdue myself, either, which is very easy to do, because...FRIED BACON!   and TATER TOTS!   and ROOM SERVICE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES, 24 HOURS A DAY! Really, the cruise food was pretty awesome!  All in all, the pre-cruise diet got us into a healthy, conscious, food-decision-making state-of-mind and I did pretty well with my eating choices.
Good times with great friends!
Florida was a bit different.  Most of our lunches and dinners were eaten in restaurants, with crayons and kid menus, a plenty.  I allowed only 2 mac-n-cheese orders, but after that, it was mom's choice.   I decided to look through the menus and offer the boys 3 or four choices that I knew they'd like, but were healthier than the standard grilled cheese with fries.  Andrew opted for an adult-sized chef salad one day, and pretty much destroyed it.  Truly a Proud Mom Moment!  The boys also impressed their Grandpa by destroying a few bowls of steamed broccoli, too!
child of the corn
salad fan
When you're normally out to dinner with the kids it's usually a treat, and it's fun to allow the kids to order what they'd like for themselves, but when there are multiple non-home cooked meals, it's important to step in and coach/approve of the order before it is placed.  I made it mandatory that veggies were served with their meals (and eaten, accordingly!) and applesauce replaced french fries on most occasions.  Meals back at the condo were on the simpler side; pb&j, turkey roll-ups, greek yogurt, and of course, lots of fresh fruit and veggies.  The boys have impressive appetites (and an intense passion for raw carrots, which I'm quite certain they didn't inherit from me!), and I don't mind grabbing an ice cream cone or throwing a few Oreos their way (and taking a few for myself) if I know they've eaten a healthy meal before.
A sweet treat 
Ice cream with Grandpa
Have you ever had to limit your kids' access to kid's menus?  Was it easy, or a battle? What healthy choices were made?

Monday, April 7, 2014

{Another Giveaway!} - Enjoying My Photos

If anyone knows truly me, they know I have a bit of a camera problem.   My good lens was busted last year for about 3 months, and I felt lost without my Nikon neck buddy.  Don't get me wrong, I take my fair share of pics on my iphone, but there is something about uploading 100+ pics form any given day and going through them, reliving the experience (and deleting the not-so-flattering moments!)
My pictures dont just sit on my hard drive...I love using my photos. I print pics and canvases to hang in our home, I create personalized birthday cards, calendars and holiday cards with them and now I've had the opportunity to make another fun thing for myself. 

Right now is when you re-read the first line of this post and replace camera with coffee.  Go ahead. I'll wait.

Back?  OK.  Yes, I have a coffee problem.  I. LOVE. COFFEE.  Coffee flavored anything works. Coffee ice cream, coffee flavored desserts (tirimisu, anyone?), coffee milkshakes.

I recently gifted myself a Keurig and have been stocking up on cute coffee mugs to use at my little coffee station.  VivoPrint graciously allowed me to try out their service of creating fun projects from photos.  They have so many items to choose from - phone cases, keychains, jewelry boxes, etc.  You can probabaly guess that I had a few photo coffee cups made up for myself.  I chose the 10oz ceramic tumbler and had the same photo of my boys repilcated several times around the mug.  These tumblers are great compared to the usual handled mug.  I have several others shaped like this at home, so I was excited to see that this was one of VivoPrint's options.  If you like handles, fear not, they offer regular ol' mugs, as well.

The quality of this mug is great! The photo image is crisp and the colors are brilliant.  The mug is also dishwasher safe and can be microwaved - which is awesome if you're me, and you have to reheat your coffee about 4 times before you finally get to finish it.  One good thing to know is if you choose this item, the design doesn't fully wrap around the mug.  I may have selected a single wider photo had I known this, but I still love my results and I've used my new mugs several times each already!
This is what VivoPrint has to say about themselves:
Picture perfect and ready-to-print, VivoPrint is designed to help you share photos through fun and creative ways. We have hundreds of products to customize including jewelry boxes, iPhone cases, Galaxy S3 cases, color changing mugs, and more. Our easy-to-use design tool makes personalizing products simple: while our 100% satisfaction guarantee assures that you are always happy with your purchase. We pride ourselves on excellent service and top-quality products and printing.
Want to try out VivoPrint for yourself?  Until May 31st, you can use the code vivo30 for 30% off your total order OR you can enter below for a chance to win a $50 shop credit! WooHoo! Just enter via Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Visit VivoPrint's blog to learn about new items they have.

Monday, March 24, 2014

{GIVEAWAY} Night Lights from Lily's Lights!

My boys are great sleepers and always have been. As they've grown, however, their falling-to-sleep habits have changed. Both went from falling to sleep in the dark with their doors closed, to wanting night lights, to wanting night lights and their doors open.  Lastly there was the hall light.  It now has to be left on (dimly) until they fall asleep, and don't think they'll let you go a single step past that light switch down the hall after tucking them in without flicking that switch!  It's like they are just waiting for me to forget.

I can deal with all of these requests (because if my kids sleep, than I can to!), and now, our need for light has expanded.  Since perfecting the whole potty training thing, the boys now get up during the night to use the bathroom and we required more lights than we originally had.  That's why I'm super glad that I found Lily's Lights on Etsy.  

I received this adorable, whimsical green elephant nightlight from Lily's Lights and LOVE IT!   Ashley, the artist and designer behind Lily's Lights uses molds to create the ceramic night lights and then hand carves the intricate designs.  The hundreds of tiny holes remind me of eyelet, and allow the soft light to do fun things on the wall surrounding the night light, itself.

...and my Lily's Light gives off just enough light so you can actually see what you are doing.  Have you ever had a night light that was so dim that you needed to turn the real light on?

Ashely currently makes owl, frog and elephant night lights and because she makes them from start to finish, you can select the design of your choice and the color of the ceramic glaze, too!  (Shhh... Don't tell anyone, but Ashley is currently designing a sheep night light! Wouldn't that be so sweet in a little one's nursery?) I know what I'll be buying for my 'new mom' friends!

This sweet elephant was just what we needed to brighten up our night time, and now, you can have one too!  Ashley from Lily's Lights was kind enough to offer THREE Double the Giggles readers night lights from her etsy shop!  How sweet! Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

DIY Valentines

This may come as a shock, but last year, I did not win Mother of the Year.  I'm pretty sure it was because I only made paper Valentines for the boys to exchange at their daycare, when clearly, every parent knows that you give out a fun little toy, treat or gadget with your ordinary, generic, out-of-a-box-from-the-local-drugstore Valentines. I mean, we MADE ours, people. From raw materials, like paper and potatoes. ...but that wasn't good enough, I guess.
This year, I decided to step it up a notch. I didn't dare go to Pinterest, as I'm sure I would've been bombarded by a million ideas, and who has time to narrow down from a million to two? Not me.
I already had two great ideas in mind, and I was going for it. (Mind you, these two ideas are most likely all over Pinterest anyway...and way better looking than ours, I'm sure.)

Wesley's way more acceptable 2014 Valentines.
I used my crumby, outdated version of Print Shop to make these adorable "I'm Stuck On You" Valentines for Wesley to hand out.  Wesley LOVES the color red, so I thought it'd be fun if he shared some festive, red sparkly heart stickers with his friends.  I was able to print 6 per page (Your Welcome, tree huggers!) A little trimming, and a few dots of double-sided adhesive and BAM!  They were done.  Easy peasy, totally affordable (I spent a total of $4 on stickers) and super cute!
Pour Some Sugar on Me. That's probably the song that first somes to mind when you think of love songs, right?  (No? Then clearly there is something wrong with you.)  Lets focus on the "sticky sweet" lyric.  We already nailed the sticky part with our awesome, sparkly red heart stickers.  They are super sticky, I assure you.
Sooo.... Onto the sweet!
Aw yeah, that's sweet! (From my head, to my feet, yeah!)

And...crunchy?  I don't remember that part of the song!

Do you take sugar? One lump, or two?
OK, enough singing classics. I threw the basic fixins' for s'mores (marshmallows, a Hershey's chocolate bar and graham crackers) into a ziplock bag, and added a fun, flattened cupcake liner for a little color.
Yer basic fixins'
I went back to Print Shop and made some bag labels with a incredibly cheesy clever saying for Andrew's Valentines. Life is S'MORE fun with a friend like you!

I'm hoping I get some serious mom-points for these bad boys.  They were simple to make, affordable and to top it off, they were so stinking cute!  My boys took them into pre-school yesterday because they won't be in school on Friday for the class party.  Their friends LOVED them!
What will you be sending in for Valentine's Day?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fun in the Snow

After going to see Walking with Dinosaurs with my bestie and our kids today, we had some serious outdoor fun hiking through snowy trails at a local nature preserve.  I took a ton of photos, and I'm glad my camera is finally back in full swing! (...back meaning back with a brand new, bigger, better lens, because why replace a busted lens with the same exact non-busted version, right?)

Here are some fun shots from our outdoor adventure:
That's ten, adorably rosy cheeks!
Aunt M accepts ALL snow angel challenges.
Sweet twins S&Z and even sweeter big sister L.

Both looking.  Both smiling.  BOOM!
Bridge over troubled water

Nature hike rope course

#Heartfailure... take picture, and then get him down.
Nature Center puzzle buddies
Indoor birdwatching isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from Double the Giggles!

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!

On this most special of days, I wish you all smiles on the faces of the young and old, kisses under the mistletoe, eggnog, second helpings of dessert, raindrops on roses & whiskers on kittens, hugs from relatives, phone calls from good friends - near and far, Christmas cookies, falling snow, good face-hurting laughs, sounds of crinkling wrapping paper, singing & dancing, holiday ribbons, candles burning, but mostly I wish lots and lots of love this Christmas.

Merry & Bright,

Saturday, December 21, 2013

{Giveaway!} Easy Canvas Prints Giveaway

Tis the season to take photographs! After several failed attempts with my own (broken) camera, we were lucky enough to get a mini session with our favorite photographer Sara at a local landmark just in time to order our Christmas cards.  Sara took so many beautiful, amazing photos, that I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity to review a photo canvas from Easy Canvas Prints.

Ordering my canvas was super simple.  Easy Canvas Prints walks you through each step of ordering.  There are many options for their canvases, and after viewing several different options, I finally made my choice and placed my order.  I was a little weirded out by the edge options (a solid color, or a mirror  image - which I ultimately went with), but the mirror image edges actually look fine.
...I mean, who is really looking at the edges anyway, right?
The [original] winning photo.  I always go with black and white, but Dan put in a special request to get some color up on our walls.
Kind of difficult to photograph at night, but I swear ...the image is crisp and the colors are pretty accurate.
I couldn't be happier with my new photo canvas!  The colors are vivid and the photo is crisp.  The only complaint I have is with myself, for not ordering a larger one (this is an 8x10)!  I'd love to grab a few more of these to place around our house.  Easy Canvas Prints offers some great deals from time to time, so I'll have to keep my eyes open in 2014.

What better way to begin the final Christmas countdown than with a giveaway?!  Easy Canvas Prints is giving away one 8x10 photo canvas print to one lucky Double the Giggles reader, including free shipping to the US (excluding Alaska and Hawaii).  Contest runs through midnight, December 29th. Easy Canvas Prints is also offering my readers a 50% off promotion!  Just click HERE for the discount.  Enter giveaway below:

While you're planning out your new photo canvas, be sure to check out Easy Canvas Print's affiliate sites, Allied Shirts (super fun!) and Build A Sign for all your creative custom printing needs.

All opinions and thoughts are my own.  Double the Giggles may have received compensation/product for conducting review.