Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Preparing for the Seasonal Flu and Giving Back with Walgreens

This Walgreens immunizations shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions and experiences are mine alone. #GetAShot #CollectiveBias

Growing up I wanted nothing more than to see the world beyond my small town. I dreamed of going places that I had only read about in books, or learned about in the pages of National Geographic.

So once I left home, I went out and saw the world.

Teaching English in Japan for 3 years gave me the opportunity to travel on school holidays. I did my traveling through Asia with a pack and second hand guide books. Traveling solo I had many opportunities to meet interesting people and quietly observe the cultures and customs of the countries I visited.  I went to Malaysia, Thailand, Korea and China.

I was scuba diving in Thailand during the 2004 tsunami. Luckily, I was on the opposite side of the country from the destruction and was unaffected by the devastation until I tried to find an open room in Bangkok before my return flight. There was a great wave of displaced tourists and I was grateful to have been able to fly back to Japan without problems. But, I never did find a room and shower.

I still remember the poverty in Bangkok. The helpful children hoping to earn extra money while showing a tourist like me around for the day.

The English language teachers in my area collected and raised money to send to an orphanage in Thailand. Even the simplest items were needed.

Another Summer vacation I headed to China for two weeks. I did see the Great Wall of China and explore a lot of Beijing before the Olympic construction was finished, but I also took planes and buses farther into the heart of China.

Compared to the rural countryside where I taught in Japan, China was another world entirely. Poverty was more prevalent outside the heart of Beijing.

That was nearly 11 years ago. Despite the weather being hot and humid I was so excited to see The Giant Buddha of Leshan in Leshan, China (Sichuan Provence). It was carved into the cliff face in the 8th century. There were stairs behind to climb all the way to the top of Buddha's head.

Now, as a Mom of 3, I don't have the time or energy left to backpack around Asia. Though I treasure those adventures, my priorities have changed.

Now my focus is on keeping my family healthy and happy. With a young toddler, and school back in session, that means we all need to get our seasonal flu shots. I don't have time to catch the flu from my kids. Who would take care of them? And my husband and I being immunized means we won't pass the season's worst gifts onto my 1-year old or the Great Grandparents.

 My kids get their shots during their regularly scheduled check-ups, but my husband and I have to get ours elsewhere. Even more than getting the actual immunizations, I dislike having to find somewhere to get it. Last year we went to our local clinic and waited around for over an hour.

Yeah, for a simple little shot!

This year I got smarter and headed into my local Walgreens. There is no appointment needed and in my store there is almost no wait. But the best part about getting my seasonal flu shot at Walgreens, is helping to give a lifesaving vaccine to a child in a developing country.

This "Get a Shot. Give a Shot" campaign helps children like the ones I met during my travels through Asia.

From now through October 13th, when you get a flu shot or other immunization at Walgreens, you will help provide a life saving vaccine through the United Nation Foundation's Shot@Life Campaign.
Did you know that 1 in 5 children around the globe still don't have access to vaccines against things like Measles and Polio?

My photos may have started to fade, but my memories and the benefit that these vaccines can have for children in developing countries are good for my soul. Yes, Walgreens not only saves me money and has convenient services my family uses, but their charitable efforts can help provide up to 3 Million vaccines to kids that need it most!

Now, that feels good.

Are your immunizations up to date?  Have you heard of the "Get a Shot. Get a Shot" campaign before?

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pea and Leek Risotto

I have been told that I eat a lot of green foods.

Well, I don't think that is a bad thing. Take this Pea and Leek Risotto, for instance, it is big on green but also flavorful, filling and fabulous. Even if green isn't quite your thing, you might change your mind after trying a creamy bite of this.

This was sparked from the weekly Food Bloggers Challenge. Sadly, our fresh peas have come and gone for the year, so I was looking for a dish I could enjoy using frozen peas. A quick blanch to perk these little guys back up and they are not bad. Perfect for this simple dish.

The best part for me were the leeks. sauteed with a yellow onion, they add a sweetness to the rice that pairs well with the sweet, yet earthy, little pea.

For risotto making I like to have all my ingredients out and ready. My stock is warm, the onions and leeks are being softened and my peas were already blanched and waiting to go.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I have broken out the immersion blender in a couple of months. I would rather dirty this handy tool than the whole food processor for a job like this.

Of course the biggest thing about risotto is going slowly. It takes about 20 minutes of stirring and ladling in more stock, but so worth it!

Then stir in the pureed and whole peas, a little mint if you like, and a hearty helping of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese. Don't, under any circumstances, forget the cheese!

Pea and Leek Risotto

You Will Need:

  • 4 c. vegetable stock
  • 2 c. peas (I used frozen since they are out of season)
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 leeks, diced an rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 c. Arborio Rice
  • 1 c. dry white wine
  • 1 c. Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
Warm the stock and the peas in two separate small pots. Process half the peas up with an immersion blender and a ladle full of stock for processing. Set this aside.

In a large saute pan, soften the onion and leek in the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add one ladle of stock and then press the garlic cloves. Heat and stir for about a minute. 

Then add in the Arborio rice and coat it in the butter and oil. Add in the wine and allow it all to evaporate out of the rice before adding a ladle of stock. Continue stirring and adding stock, one ladle full at a time, till the rice is thick, creamy and tender. Turn the heat down to low.

Stir in the mashed peas, whole peas, Parmesan and season to taste.

Serve immediately with diced mint and a mint garnish.


Weekly challenge to push the creativity of food bloggers. Create an original recipe each week to accomodate the weeks ingredient. If you are a blogger that is interested in linking up your themed recipe, please join the Facebook group to learn how.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Skin Care from the Inside Out with Exaltria

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #30Days2BetterSkin #CollectiveBias

And so it happens. Despite raising three small children, I have started to look into the mirror and wonder who is looking back at me. Do I really how fine lines? Where did the start of crows feet come from? Have I been taking my skin care regime seriously?

The truth is I'm going to be 36 this year and my skin isn't getting any younger. Yes, I don't feel it yet, but I am showing my age.

Sun damage, late nights in my 20's, and failure to treat my skin with the respect it deserves has left me less than happy with my skin's appearance. I just don't feel comfortable going out anymore with a naked face. I do feel the need to "put on my face" before seeing people.

I never post pics, here on the blog, of myself without make-up, but this seemed like a worthy cause. I can't wait to see how the after photos turn out.

So for the next 30 days I am not only going to be taking Exaltria, a natural dietary supplement that works from the inside out, I will also be doing 4 other healthy things to take better care of myself. They include:

  1. Drinking more water each day
  2. Working up a sweat for 30 minutes each day
  3. Healthy eating to start my day
  4. Washing my face twice a day
Wish me luck and stay tuned! All I have to lose is a few year's worth of lines and age showing on my face. 

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Sketching Inspiration for my little Dancer - September Silhouette Challenge

Another month, and another Silhouette challenge! For September the theme was Home Decor items. I really had my heart set on trying out the Silhouette Sketch pens and thought I would make my daughter an inspirational picture to go in her room. Yes, every month for this challenge I have been trying to use a new product or technique with my electronic cutter.

My daughter just turned 5-years old and her Mimi promised to take her to Ballet classes. This girl has been begging for dance lessons for the past 2 years. She was over the moon!

I wanted to keep this project simple and inexpensive because kids' tastes and interests change almost daily. Right now I want to encourage her to try her best at dance class - but the frame was inexpensive and I could swap out the card with another Silhouette design in just a few minutes.

I headed to the local craft store and grabbed an unfinished wood frame, chalkboard paint, card stock and the basic set of Silhouette Sketch Pens.

I created a simple design in the Silhouette program. Because I wanted to use multiple colored pens for this project, I put the designs on separate layers. 4 layers included the dancer in black, the word "dance" in dark pink, the other words and corner flourish in purple and the cut line to fit my frame in the last layer.

I selected sketch pens as my medium and then de-selected all the layers that I wasn't working with. I began with. The current layer showed up in dark red.

Using the sketch pens was really simple. They just fit right in where the blade goes. Push them all the way down and then secure them or the pen may work its way loose while sketching.

I had to create 3 sketches before the ink in my pens were flowing freely and I figured out how to tighten them down securely. Save yourself the headache and double check before you sketch.

The first layer I sketched was the dancer's outline in black. Don't remove the mat between colors, just change pens and select the current layer you want to sketch. Send back to the Silhouette and the machine will return to the same place.

The final step was to select my final layer for cutting out my design, putting the blade back into the machine and selecting card stock.

To finish off her art I spritzed it with a glitter scrapbooking mist. I also painted the frame with a chalkboard paint so I could doodle and leave a "Love Mom" on the bottom.

The best part about this project is, if she drops dance and takes up soccer tomorrow I can whip something up quick to show my support using the Silhouette and my sketch pens.

Want to Check Out More Silhouette Projects?

My Silhouette Challenge buddies and I are all sharing projects on our blogs today, so peruse the projects below for a wealth of Silhouette inspiration! Our Sons & Daughters Wood Shims and Word Art Simple DIY Canvas Art Pallet Signs Chalk Paint Pumpkins with Fabric Leaves Make a Personalized Scarecrow DIY Wall Art for the Bathroom Decoupaged Fall Leaves Lampshade Gimme A F.A.L.L! Eat SOMETHING Sweet Baby Love Quilt Big Reveal Sketching Inspiration for my little Dancer - September Silhouette Challenge Family Feature Presentation Wall Art Last Unicorn Shadow Box Makin' my office a little more artsy fartsy Family Command Center DIY Grandparents Sign with Photo Frame Dream Big Little Girl Canvas Art Fall Pallet Sign {Grateful, Thankful, Blessed} Pumpkins and Apples Sign Handmade Freezer Paper Cloth Napkins
1. The Moberg Family // 2. Sandpaper and Glue // 3. American Honey // 4. Weekend Craft // 5. Grey Luster Girl // 6. From Wine to Whine // 7. Cutesy Crafts // 8. Practically Functional // 9. Home At Eight // 10. McCall Manor // 11. Dragonfly & Lily Pads // 12. Adventures in All Things Food // 13. Create it. Go! // 14. Please Excuse My Craftermath... // 15. The Outlandish Momma // 16. The Sensory Emporium // 17. My Paper Craze // 18. unOriginal Mom // 19. My Favorite Finds // 20. Architecture of a Mom // 21. Black and White Obsession //
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Overcoming a Picky Eater's Problems with Enfagrow Toddler

My youngest loves food, but his typical toddler eating habits have left a few gaps in his diet that Enfagrow can help me fill. That is why I was so excited to be part of this sponsored post program. All opinions and experiences are my own.

My youngest, Elliott, is a great eater... for a toddler.

Okay, so his favorite foods may be grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese and well... cheese. But, he is working hard at exploring the tastes and textures we offer him at the table each day. Despite my best intentions, some days his steamed vegetables are launched across the room instead of being eaten or his whole grains and lean proteins are smeared on his high chair tray and into his hair. After two older children I am not going to make mealtime a war zone. Toddlers can be picky and inconsistent eaters even on the best of days.

The only problem we have is Elliott is both very active, but also a light eater. On his last visit to the pediatrician's office he hadn't gained weight. His head has been steadily growing and he is taking his first steps, but he just needed more calories and nutrition than he could get out of his normal meals.

One suggestion I was given was to try to a toddler formula like Enfagrow Toddler Transitions or Enfagrow Toddler Next Step.

Now that Elliott is transitioned to solid foods, I can't ensure that he receives all the good nutrition he was getting while he nursed. Enfagrow has important nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, iron and a prebiotics blend to support digestive health in just two servings a day. That means I can add Enfagrow to his sippy cup at two meals and get some of those nutritional gaps covered. The powder is super easy to mix with water, even when we are on the go.

One concern I have since he doesn't eat many foods with natural fatty acids, is that he may not be getting DHA in his diet.

But Elliott is not alone. In fact, DHA is particularly hard to get from the foods toddlers typically like to eat. Cookies? Not there. Grilled Cheese? Not there, either. Naturally you can find it in fatty fish or nuts. Neither of these are typically on Elliott's menu so I needed to find another source.

So what is DHA, exactly?

Well, it is an omega-3 fatty acid and an important nutrient for the brain. When I was taking a prenatal vitamin, while pregnant with Elliott, it was suggested that I look for one that had DHA. And since 85% of his brain growth is going to take place here over the first three years of his life, it is important to me that he has DHA through his toddler years.

I spend so much time playing and trying to stimulate Elliott's growing curiosity, I might as well make sure he has the proper nutrition to feed that growing brain.

Elliott's next weight check is coming up and I am confident I am doing everything I can to give him excellent nutrition. Enfagrow Toddler has been easy to add right alongside the steamed vegetables and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Do you have a picky eater? How do you help your toddler maintain a balanced diet?

Tracking Pixel

Giveaway Time!!

One lucky reader at Adventures in All Things Food will win an Enfagrow gift package (ARV $38) that will include the following:
     One Toddler Transitions Can (21oz.)
     One Toddler Next Step Natural Milk Flavor Can (24oz.)
For a chance to win, comment below with why you love Enfagrow or why you want your toddler to try it. Giveaway ends September 24th, 2014 and the winner will be announced here on the blog and emailed so they can claim their prize. Winner must be 18 or over and reside in the US. Good luck!

NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE 50 UNITED STATES AND D.C. 18 YEARS AND OLDER ARE WHO ALREADY HAVE INTERNET ACCESS AND VALID E-MAIL ADDRESSES ARE ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Promotion begins 9/8/2014 at 12:00 AM PST and ends at 11:59 PM PST on 9/24/2014. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. Official Rules, eligibility, prize descriptions and odds disclosure are available at http://www.thesitsgirls.com/sweepstakes-official-rules/ . Sponsor: Mead Johnson & Company, LLC, 2400 West Lloyd Expressway, Evansville, IN 47721.

I received compensation and free Enfagrow for this post. 

Enfagrow would be happy to help you with your question. Please contact them at 1-800-BABY-123.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Plums - Spiced Plum Wontons with Sweetened Sour Cream

This week bloggers were challenged to tackle the plum.

Do you ever bake or cook with plums? We actually have prune orchards here on the farm, but not a single plum tree. One of my favorite houses we lived in while I was growing up was surrounded by a great diverse collection of fruiting bushes, trees and edibles. There were two large plum trees and during the Summer I could eat my fill. I still prefer my plums ripe and hot, since that is how they came off the tree.

Originally I was going to bake with the prunes on our farm. No, not exactly a plum... prunes are older and though California tried to rebrand them as a "dried plum", the two are not exactly the same. It just happens that while at the store I saw some gorgeous, plump plums.

And yes, the plums were as delicious as they looked!

For my recipe I knew I wanted to serve them hot and simple. Why not stuff slices in a wonton? You might remember that I shared an easy recipe for making your own gyoza or wonton wrappers. But more and more grocery stores are also carrying them.

While living in Japan I had a lot of different wontons and even dessert styles. I think my friends there would appreciate these simple plum wontons because they don't go over board with sweetness.

Spiced Plum Wontons with Sweetened Sour Cream

You Will Need:

  • 5 ripe plums, pitted nad cut into 1/8ths
  • wonton wrappers
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Chinese 5-spice or more to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • powdered sugar & cinnamon *optional for dusting the top

Start a pot of water boiling. Mix together the brown sugar and Chinese 5-spice powder. Adjust to suit your taste.

Place one wrapper down on your work surface. Place a slice of plum and top with 1/4 tsp. of brown sugar mixture on top. Brush the edges of your wrapper with egg wash and top with another wrapper. Press edges firmly to seal. It needs to have a good seal all around so no water enters the wonton. Repeat until all the wontons are made.

Boil till the wrapper is tender and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon or spider to remove the wontons. Let them cool slightly while making the sweetened sour cream.

Mix together the sour cream, extract, nutmeg and cinnamon. Dust the wontons with a little additional powdered sugar and cinnamon. Serve with the sweetened sour cream.


Weekly challenge to push the creativity of food bloggers. Create an original recipe each week to accomodate the weeks ingredient. If you are a blogger that is interested in linking up your themed recipe, please join the Facebook group to learn how.

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Herdez Cocina Mexicana Frozen Bowls

Thank you to the makers of the HERDEZ® Brand for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring me to try the Herdez Cocina Mexicana Frozen Bowls! All opinions and experiences are my own. #HerdezFrozenBowls

I love how everyone has asked me what I am doing with all my free time now that my two oldest children are in school.

Hold on, what free time???

Despite sending them off on the bus each morning, my "free time" has all but evaporated as I spend all my time getting two little people ready for school each morning. There are breakfasts to be made, personal hygiene to be checked on (a Kindergarten and First grader are often in too big of a hurry to brush hair and teeth!), then each child to be walked down to the bus stop at their appointed time. My daughter is in Kindergarten which means a half day and mid-morning drop-off.

Yeah, that means I trek down to the bust stop 3 times a day.

Her stop is just before lunch, so I race home to have lunch ready for my husband and baby. That means lunch is now a quick affair. Luckily, HERDEZ® Cocina Mexicana Frozen Bowls give me a fast and easy option.

There are many Mexican food favorites like Beef Barbacoa and Huevos Rancheros available in the freezer section of the grocery store. I grabbed our Herdez frozen bowls in my local Walmart.

I am a huge fan of Huevos Rancheros but rarely have time to go to all that work. This gave me a chance to grab, microwave and finish lunch in time to move on with my day. And the Beef Barbacoa bowl was just as simple, and yummy!

If your lunch and dinner time are as hectic as mine are, you might want to try out these easy and authentic frozen lunch meals and have a few ready to go in your freezer.

HERDEZ® Cocina Mexicana Frozen Bowls come in 10 delicious flavors, and the top three favorites include Beef Barbacoa, Carnitas w/ Charro Beans & Pork Chile Verde. I can totally understand why the Beef Barbacoa Bowls sell so well! It was tender and flavorful.

Want to check out these HERDEZ® Cocina Mexicana Frozen Bowls for yourself? Go ahead and download the coupon for $1.00 off!

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Celebrating Our Favorite Superheros with M&M's

This M&M’s® shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions and experiences are mine alone. #HeroesEatMMs #CollectiveBias

My kids believe in superheros. The masks, the iconic hammers, shields or suits. Marvel's characters feed their imagination for good guys vs. bad guys. he superhero always finds a way to save the day, and in Mom's world they also get the girl.

With all that excitement, you gotta think Superheroes get hungry. Or at least grab a snack before going out to save the world again? Well, I am a firm believer that #HeroesEatMMs, so I treated my super bunch to some great Marvel movies and a yummy skillet cookie decorated to look like our favorite patriotic hero's shield.

Yes, excitement is building around here for the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier on September 9th. He is our family favorite for many reasons. I think he is a good role model for my son's superhero obsession.

For our own little family movie night I had to get a great snack. I always vote for chocolate, and M&M’s® were a clear choice. I opted for my husband's favorite Peanut M&M’s and grabbed a couple large bags on our recent shopping trip to Walmart.

And... did you know you could get $5 off the movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when you purchase M&M’s®? You can snag this deal on coupons.com, Sept. 9, release day.

I also wanted to whip up a little fun for the kids and started by creating these easy DIY washable superhero tattoos. 

I actually live with superheros (Super Owen and Super Audrey!) and they like to show off that secret identity from time to time, so I made them a sheet of washable tattoos with words such as "Awesome" and "Brave". 

The theme for my kids' elementary school carnival this year is also superheroes, so this was a fabulous chance to test out making my own tattoos with the Silhouette. I was thrilled how easy it was!

You Will Need:
  • A Silhouette Cameo electronic cutter to create and cut out your designs (or you can design them in another program and cut them out by hand)
  • Silhouette Printable Tattoo Paper
  • A color inkjet printer 
I purchased three designs in the Silhouette store for my tattoos, the Super Splash titles, Brave title and Awesome title. If you don't own a Silhouette, you could use clip art or design your own in Photoshop.

1. Download and design your tattoos. I used fill color to color in the shapes and letters, then grouped each set and hit mirror image so the tattoo will be the correct orientation when applied. Use the image offset function to draw a cut line around your finished design and don't forget to add registration marks to your project page so you can print and then cut them out accurately.

2. Print the designs on the shiny side of the printable tattoo paper with your home inkjet printer. Place the sheet on your cutting mat and then slowly and evenly apply the clear protective sheet that comes in the pack. Start at the top and with a scraper tool (or credit card) smooth down the sheet so there are no air bubbles.

3. Place the sheet on your cutting mat and feed it into the Silhouette. Select Silhouette Printable Tattoo Paper from the cutting menu and adjust your blade depth. Under cut setting your can deselect all the inside artwork and just select the offset outline to cut.

3. After cutting, check to make sure the blade went all the way through the paper. Then carefully remove from the cutting mat.

4. Apply to skin with a warm, damp washcloth as with any temporary tattoo. These wash off with soap and water so feel free to enjoy often and express all your super traits.

Yes, my daughter is "Awesome" and was thrilled to sport her new tattoo along with a mask and cape. After that she was ready to go outside and do superhero stuff.

I think she made an adorable little Super Girl and wore herself out enough "flying" around the alfalfa field to be able to sit through her favorite Marvel cartoons.

Once the kids were happy and suited up to save the world, it was time to work on something yummy for Super Mom and Super Dad.

Just pass the bag of M&M's.

After all the delicious and fun M&M's treats I have created over the past year, my husband doesn't even ask when I start sorting out bags of candy. In this case he just asked which colors he was okay to eat. For the Captain America Shield Cookie I needed all the red, white and blue M&M's I could find.

I used my trusted Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie recipe, but since I decorated it with candy, I decreased the chocolate chips in the recipe by half and went with chocolate chunks instead of morsels.

With just 5 minutes left of bake time, I removed the skillet cookie from the oven and decorated it with my sorted colors. Patriotic? Don't you think? 

This cookie, once cooled, slices up easily like a pizza making it fun to eat for movie night.

My kids loved watching their animated Avengers episodes, but after putting them to bed I caught up on my favorite superhero, Thor. This was the first chance all Summer I had to fit in a movie night for myself. Thor: The Dark World has a sneak peak of Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the bonus features.

Now, I am even more excited to watch Captain America next week!

The M&M's fun doesn't have to end on movie night though, be sure to visit www.heroeseatmms.com and take one of the quizzes on the homepage: “Which MARVEL® Super Here Are You?” or “Which M&M’s® Character Are You?” This fun site is launching soon and will include special coupons, games and a contest with a chance to win one of 10 $100 Walmart gift cards.

So, who is your favorite Marvel Superhero and movie snack?

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